sechan19: (kusama)
The fabulous [ profile] alateaqoe and I had dinner tonight at one of our favorite restaurants. The weather was fine, so we sat out on the terrace--enjoying the sunset and the nearby wheat field, which was home to a flock of gayly circling blackbirds.

While we were ordering, a family of four--mom, dad, and two twin daughters--arrived. And the daughters decided to throw stones at the birds to make them fly up into the air. The parents laughed indulgently at this, and [ profile] alateaqoe and I were fairly horrified. It's always disheartening to see American un-exceptionalism in the making. We had a brief discussion on what we had witnessed and then went on with dinner.

Toward the end of our evening, the family came back by us on their way out. And they decided to take one more opportunity to throw stones at the birds, who were now roosting for the evening (the dad having decided to join the fray).

We watched for a moment, and I wondered to myself, "Can I yell at them?"

And then, I realized, yes, I fucking well can.

I stood up and stepped over to the railing that divided terrace from walkway.

"Hey!" I called. "Knock it off! How would you like it if someone threw stones at you?"

"Go ahead," the dad replied.

Big mistake, asshole.

Without a word, I hoisted myself over the railing (which, it is worth mentioning, was nearly as tall as I was). I walked to the stone pile, crouched down, picked up a stone, and faced the family--tossing the stone from hand to hand.

"Seriously?" I asked.

"Hey, now," the dad said--beginning to chuckle with nervousness. "That's a lawsuit waiting to happen. That's a lawsuit."

"Uh-huh," I returned, dropping the stone back onto the ground and thinking yeah, motherfucker, I figured that was pretty much a bunch of hyperbole.

"Raise them right," I said, and climbed back over the railing.

The family left. I sat back down at my table to resume the end of the meal. At a neighboring table a group of people were discussing how awesome what they'd just witnessed was. "Why would anyone want to throw stones at a bunch of harmless birds anyway?" they wondered.

The little girls seemed a bit disturbed by my outburst.

And I'm just terrible enough of a person to not really mind that.

Somebody's got to do it.
sechan19: (morisot)
I really, really enjoyed this film. It argues well for the notion that more omnibus films should be made in the west. (Plenty of omnibus films are made in Asia already; in Japan there are usually three or four released a year.)

My favorite segments (in chronological order):
Bastille by Isabel Coixet.
Tour Eiffel by Sylvain Chomet.
Place des fêtes by Oliver Schmitz.
Père-Lachaise by Wes Craven.
Faubourg Saint-Denis by Tom Tykwer.
14e arrondissement by Alexander Payne.

My absolute favorite segment, 14e arrondissment, requires some spoiling. Read on at your own discretion. )

Anyway, I really loved this film.

Bonus favorite sequences:
* During Porte de Choisy, by Christopher Doyle, one of the characters switched into Chinese and I understood every word. I even understood well enough to spot the verbal pun that was being made and to comment on it before the characters in the film did. (This caused my viewing partner, A., to claim that she hates me that much more now.)
* During Quartier de la Madeleine, by Vincenzo Natali, A. and I experienced a simultaneous irrepressible desire to laugh the minute Elijah Wood appeared onscreen. We also both immediately acknowledged that we shouldn't be laughing at him, because he's not really that funny, but that we just couldn't help it--there's just something so adorably laughable about him.
sechan19: (morisot)
Sadly (I suppose), I was so relaxed yesterday - or sleep deprived, if you prefer - that I missed my daily blog. So I'm out of the "competition" for the year, but I'm going to try and keep blogging more regularly anyway.

The reason I was sleep deprived is that I stayed up all night watching the entire extended-cut Lord of the Rings trilogy.


I hadn't seen it in, like, four years or something. And it's still good (although "Fellowship" is still the best, and Tolkein is still in the doghouse for killing off Boromir).

I worked on Chinese homework while I watched.

Other weekend adventures include the Symphony and lots of TV watching. The Symphony was Mozart and Haydn, played in the tradition 18th century manner and featuring lots of oboe and bassoon. (Is it just me or does the bassoon not make the cutest sounds ever?). TV was mainly Undercovers (new JJ Abrams) and Sherlock (new and totally awesome take on Doyle's definitive detective).

I wasn't as productive as I should have been, but I don't care. I needed a break.
sechan19: (morisot)
I joined some friends for 80s night at the local bowling alley this evening. In between games, drinks, and impromptu boogie sessions there were a number of free passes up for grabs.

The first two went to the proud owners of strikes; the last was left for some undefined thing. At one point the DJ declared that he wasn't sure what to do with it, whereupon I turned to him, made eye contact, and pointed at myself with both hands - in the classic "right here!" gesture. He laughed and said he'd think about it.

At the end of the night we were packing up to leave, and guess who was flagged down to receive a free pass for being awesome?


Anyone want to go bowling?
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
If you have never heard Astor Piazolla's Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, do so as soon as possible. It is, without a doubt, one of the most brilliant musical compositions of the twentieth century.

That is all.
sechan19: (butterfly)
This was the most exquisite performance of the piece that I have ever seen. The conductor directed it with the utmost deliberation and care, and the performers displayed incredible precision in their playing--giving the piece tension and subtly in its tone, rhythm, and volume. For perhaps the first time, I heard every nuance of that marvelous piece. I heard it the way it was meant to be played.

I've always considered The Planets my favorite piece of classical music, and the opportunity to hear it played by a world-class orchestra at the peak of their performance reinforced that.

One further thing about the piece was brought home to me last night. I've seen it several times, in several different places, and I own a fine recording of it. Therefore, I know it well.

The little Japanese boys sitting behind me, ranging in age from perhaps seven to twelve, had never seen it before. Observing their excitement and wonder, and sometimes shock, when a particular instrument would suddenly sweep into the melody, gave me a chance to experience it through their eyes and almost hear it for the first time again.

As we were leaving, one little boy exclaimed to his father, zenzen wakaranakatta kedo, sugeiyo! ("I didn't understand at all, but it was awesome!") When I heard this piece for the first time... some fifteen or so years ago... I felt much the same way.


Sep. 14th, 2008 04:13 pm
sechan19: (morisot)
* I've noticed something: cable television is great for insomnia. When you can't get to sleep, you might as well catch a showing of Tron.
* No matter how hard I try, I just cannot read all of my assigned Silk Road seminar readings in one shot. They have to be broken up, for my sanity's sake if for no other reason. It's not that I don't find the material fascinating. It's just that there's only so much a brain can take in a single sitting.
* The Big Pour event that I attended this weekend was a blast, but I've decided that I need to lay off the sauce for a bit. That was a whole lot of beer, and I'm not really a spring chicken anymore. That said, however, what a time. My friends totally rock!

Photo ©[ profile] foxxydancr
sechan19: (morisot)
So, I underwent yet another shoe crisis this afternoon. I stubbed my toe on a bit of uneven sidewalk and tore my crocs. Consequently, I developed painful new blisters on the tops of my feet.


However, there was a department party this evening--a birthday party, in fact--and that totally rocked. I taught a whole group of my peers the basic hula step, played balloon ball, watched crazy youtube clips, drank rumtastiques, conversated, did the twist, and presided over a number of bubble duels.

I was also rather free with my thunder.

I can safely say that I am a member of the sexiest department on campus, and, with plans in the works to establish myself as a founder of one of the world's foremost death metal Motown groups, I think that my illustrious future is fairly assured at this point.

sechan19: (morisot)
Tropic Thunder is easily one of the funniest movies ever made. Seriously. There were moments during this film where I honestly thought that I was going to become apoplectic. I couldn't stop laughing. Like, at all. The humor is biting and brilliant, the acting is sharp and skewering, and Tom Cruise fucking owns this motion picture. In one single side-splitting dance sequence he completely regains any and all of his street cred. For reals. Everyone needs to see this movie.

Nine Inch Nails gave a typical performance at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena on Friday. For the most part, I enjoyed it. However, in my opinion, there were significant flaws with the show. First of all, the light show--though very high-tech and oft-times intriguing--has gotten totally out of control. It cuts the band off from the audience and completely ruins any chance of synergy. The result is a somewhat static show that feels longer than it is. When the LCD screens were out of the way and the band was visible, I felt much more in the zone and was able to enjoy the groove.

Another problem is that many of the songs are so rehearsed, so locked-in to a specific mode of performance, that they too are stagnant. Granted, this is way more noticeable to the fan who's taking in concert number twelve--yes, I've seen Nails that many times--than it is for the fan who's taking in concert number one, but I can't help feeling that the lack of spontaneity must come through to the newbies somewhat as well. That said, the new material was great. "Head Down," in particular, rocks as much as I thought it would, and the instrumental stuff was beyond cool. Trent Reznor can play the xylophone, yo. Who knew?

Finally, after a long conversation on the above topics with my mom--who also loves the Nails and attended the show with me--I finally realized the overarching problem with the Nine Inch Nails show: Trent Reznor.

The man is a musical genius, there's no question of that. And he's certainly got more energy at forty-three than I had at fourteen, but he is not capable of connecting with his fanbase in a live setting. He barely looked at the audience the whole show and said not a word to them either. The introductions and thanks he gave at the end don't count. I'm almost positive he opened up because his family was at the show (Cleveland is his adopted hometown) and for no other reason.

It's a shame. He'll never be able to match the impact of his albums, let alone surpass them, until he can connect with the crowd and generate the energy that turns a performance by a star into an exchange between friends.

That said, I'll probably go to the Columbus show in November. I'll never get over hoping for better, I guess.
sechan19: (butterfly)
I had a great weekend. I worked a bit and am beginning to feel like the semester has taken a final shape - that is to say, it has solidified into a direction that makes sense to me.

Completely separate from work was the recreation, much needed, that I engaged in this weekend.

I went to the symphony on Saturday with my friend, B., and loved it. The orchestra was a bit off on the Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliette, but the Prokofiev and the world premiere percussion symphony were delightful. My friend, who is a percussionist, and who naturally knows so much more about percussion than I do was a little disappointed with the performance. But I was strongly moved by the second and third movements of the percussion symphony (entitled Metal and Skin, respectively). The second movement in particular was astonishingly haunting.

This evening I enjoyed drinking and Oscar-mayhem with friends in New City. The Musketeers were in fine form this evening. Telling jokes, sharing fellowship, and making plans for a Saint Patrick's Day party - to take place after Spring Break. I plan to make Shelaighle's for the group at that time.

The incredible synergy and friendship of the first year' cohort has been a real boon to me. I had a lovely evening tonight - enriched by my calling of friends and loved ones (including my cousin R., my father, and my good friends [ profile] lilyblack and [ profile] lillith_knox.)
sechan19: (butterfly)
Dinner at [ profile] foxxydancr's house this evening was awesome. Included in the evening's schedule were three helpings of delicious linguine in clam sauce, to-die-for cherry-chocolate cookie, and much beer. We also enjoyed the greatest crisis of modernity, jesus struck by lightning, and the above titular linguistic biff of mine that came about when I tried to determine which (now disbanded) visual-kei band I thought was more goofy: Lareine or Malice Mizer.

It's a tough call, granted, but I think the award has to go to Malice Mizer in the end. Synthesized harpsichords, yo. 'Nuff said.
sechan19: (kusama)
Went out this evening with my friend, A., to the Tori concert, which was a delightful blend of Tori-madness and Halloween-madness. After all these years, I'm happy to see that Tori still has it and ain't givin' it up any time soon. She rocked it hardcore, and she rocked it in costume.

This week in the Methdology seminar we're examining feminist theories of art, and so this dose of Tori was a perfectly poised piece of synchronicity. All of the readings delve into psychoanalysis (and one of them goes full-on Lacanian with a vengeance), which just made the exhibition that much more amusing.

At one point in the show, midway through a blistering rendition of Cornflake Girl, I leaned over to A. and said, "Tori totally has the penis!!" To which she replied, "I know! She totally does!"

Ah, the heady days of life imitating art theory. ;)
sechan19: (lin fengmian)
Through desire to meet up with a very dear friend, I found myself in the strange world of the American Studies Association annual conference. A number of mind-bending delights awaited me; including the observation of distinguished faculty in the act of getting down to "Whoop! There It Is!" in the Marriott ballroom, and the amusing (though somewhat disheartening) application of the popularity game - graduate school style - in situations both serious and sparring. Regardless, the opportunity to spend a couple nights in the company of the fabulous A. is well worth any expenditure on my part, and I'm happy to say that our first evening together was rapture - with sinful Italian food, a little bit of funk, Gackt's magnum, and a deliciously dangerous Manhattan thrown into the mix of giggling, goofing, and gallivanting.

(I was asked at one point to define the gendering of a Manhattan cocktail, however, and that really threw me for a loop. I'm sorry to admit that, as an unserious academic, I've never bothered to ponder the gender-neutrality [or lack thereof] of alcoholic beverages. But then, again, I'm 丈夫 and tend to do what I want because of that. I've been known to drink my bourbon straight - much to the astonishment of some male friends. I've also been known to drink fuzzy navels and dance around in my pink, rose-print underwear - not to the astonishment of my male friends.)

In browsing through the ASA events listing, I found two back-to-back panels that dealt with issues related to East Asian and Asian nations as they intersected broader issues of American hegemony, colonialism, racial dynamics, politics, and sexuality, etc.

Of particular interest to my was a paper that examined the largely-forgotten "Miss Nagasaki" beauty contest of 1946, which was the brainchild of American servicemen stationed in post-war Nagasaki and which was dubbed, by servicemen newspapers, as the "Miss Atom Bomb" beauty contest. Naturally, the local women of Nagasaki - who had been brutally disfigured by the bomb - were not part of this contest. This use of bomb terminology served to legitimate and normalize the act of dropping the bomb, by implying that the Japanese of Nagasaki were so okay with the situation as to have named their contest after it. Most interestingly, the deployment of the term "Miss Atom Bomb" in place of "Miss Nagasaki" was so pervasive that it dominated accounts of the event even in Japanese history books until the mid 1990s. Thus, this legitimation of the bombing of Nagasaki was perpetuated (in the minds of other Japanese) for quite a long time after the actual event, marginalizing the citizens of Nagasaki and their experience in the process.

Now, granted, the American motivations for "taming" the terminology of the bomb often had little to do with legitimation and a lot to do with their own fears of life during the cold war era, but it is - nevertheless - a particularly ugly example of American imperialism at work.

I was blown away by this presentation.
sechan19: (morisot)
I've been back home for less than a week, and I've already run one hell of gamut.

On Saturday, after breakfast and rabble rousing with my friends R. & S., I began the rigorous process of packing and moving. I loaded up my father's pickup truck with boxes of books (each weighing something in the neighborhood of Atlas' heavenly sphere) and a couple pieces of furniture, and over to the storage facility I went.

I had no trouble with the furniture, but when it came time to retrieve the books I had an accident. Climbing into the truck my bastard right foot decided - rather abruptly - to relinquish its grasp on the truck bed, and down I went with all my weight onto my right ring finger. And bickety-bam that poor little finger went, "tweak!" and promptly announced itself out of commission.

I carried the books into the storage anyway, and got back into the truck to have a better look at the damage. I could still make a fist, so I suspected it wasn't broken. There was always the possibility of a dislocation, though, and my finger was now moving in directions it hadn't previously been interested in. To make a long story short, I had it looked at by a competent party who announced it badly sprained, and I went about my business.

Business that Saturday included a house party in the area, in celebration of St. Patrick's Day. Music, drinking, dancing, and fire were all on the agenda. I gave myself a few hours beforehand to relax and prepare for the evening - which was beyond fantastic.

At first, when we arrived, I wasn't sure I wanted to stay. The events of the day had made me tired, and I was also hungry and little chilly from the night air. I was persuaded to stay and after a quick run home to secure some warm tights and cheese and an Irish Car Bomb at the scene I was fully in the mood for antics.

I don't think I could really describe everything, but in a nutshell: I had numerous enjoyable conversations, scratch-moded a few goofy guys, danced my booty off, saw some exquisite fire dancing, looked at the stars, and - in spite of my gimpified finger - climbed the perfect climbing-tree.

The tree incident was amusing. No one believed I could climb a tree, drunk or sober, and I received numerous compliments both during and after my tenure. The best came from a complete stranger. He mentioned that he'd been sure I'd fall out and kill myself. I explained to him that the tree was perfectly designed for climbing, having a number of strong, thick vines growing up the trunk that formed a veritable ladder.

"Are you a CC Girl?" he asked me.

"A what?" I asked.

"A Conservation Core Girl," he clarified.

"Oh, no!" I laughed. "I'm a Japanese Art Historian."

At which point said stranger's eyes bugged two-inches out of his face.

"Whoa," he said.
sechan19: (morisot)
There's some stuff that's been going on recently with my grandmother that has flat out sucked. And how could it not, right? She's dying, after all. At any rate, due to various circumstances I was compelled to give up my bed to my mother and my aunt, and I ended up spending the night at my friend, R.'s, house (rather than sleep on a couch across from J.).

Thank god for that.

When I came in at 11pm, drained from the ordeal of watching my relatives weep (and weeping myself) over that horrible old cunt (sorry, but she was... I mean, I love my grandmother, but she was a horrible old cunt), R. and her friend S. were already dozing off. I elected to try dozing off with them, although I was somewhat wired in spite of all the draining.

We made jokes back and forth for a couple of minutes before the following exchange unfolded... )
sechan19: (tormenta)
One of the themes of this play that stays with me is the idea, echoed in a quote by Edmund Burke, that "all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." The play dealt with the Iraq War as one of its major points of contention between the two main characters, and the Julianne Moore character was largely of Burke's opinion. Her Nadia Blye believed that it was the responsibility of the West to do something when faced with the suffering of the world. When asked why one should persevere and continue to hope in the face of such despair she responded that we have no other choice.

And, of course, she's right. And wrong. There's always a choice - the easier choice to do nothing, to turn away. I think, though, that the heart of her belief had merit. In the face of despair, a decent person has a duty to continue to try. This challenge can be met with anger if necessary, for while anger can be destructive it can also be galvanizing, and there's nothing wrong with raging at the universe, or at god, or at whomever. God can handle our anger. The greatest crime against her, as against life, is indifference. As the play commented, terrorism is the wrong answer to the right question. Terrorists make the mistake of throwing their anger at people instead of at god, forgetting (or perhaps never knowing) both that she can take it and that she's the one who's earned it.

May 2014

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