Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: December, 2004

Three Movies and Some Other Stuff

Hm. I read on someone’s LiveJournal that they used to admire me–specifically because of the Nanowrimo novels I wrote three or four years ago. And now they’re criticizing them/me/whatever. All I can do is shrug. Those were first drafts. Of course, they’re bad. If you expect me to write a timeless classic in a month: tough luck, I don’t work that way. Sure, if I were to write those ideas now, there’s a lot I would change not only because some of it was just plain wrong but that I’m not quite the same person I was three or four years ago. Anyway, I find the wording “used to admire” interesting. It makes me sound like a has-been when I never was.

On a rather random and belated note, I got the memory on my laptop upgraded for Christmas. The laptop ran perfectly fine before so I didn’t really see the point in doing it–but at least my Dad got a kick out of doing the installation so I suppose I’d humor the old man. He also lectured me on starting my own retirement fund to which I mostly muttered noncommittal sounds as he expounded on yearly payments and interest rates. He’s right–I should be thinking about those kinds of things–but geez, I’m still young. Or at least I like to think so. It’s really strange being both old and young, having a foothold still in childhood and another in geezerhood.

A couple days ago, I went to see some movies. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was an odd comedy filled with big name stars. I certainly identified with Bill Murray’s character Steve Zissou whose quiet (and not so quiet) desperation claws at his life which is falling apart before his eyes. The film (as well as the film’s ending) is actually not very happy but I think that works in it’s favor despite the wonky secondary characters.

I haven’t read the books on which Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events was based on, but it didn’t keep me from enjoying the film. On the whole, it was amusing–but obviously more geered toward the kiddie crowd. There were only two things which I didn’t like about it: the film’s episodic nature (which is also the problem in the Harry Potter films) and Jim Carrey. Jim Carrey was too over-the-top (as he always is) and not creepy enough.

My sister and I took our Mom to see The Phantom of the Opera. We figured she might enjoy this one since there was going to be singing (I hate to say it, but she gets confused on complicated monologues in English) and costumes (she likes period films, whether it’s 17th century France or 5th century China or for that matter, Lord of the Rings). As other reviewers have pointed out, it’s a perfectly good film if you like musicals. Otherwise, you might want to avoid it. Also, my sister–the resident singing expert–didn’t like the Phantom’s voice. She said it was “off” (not off key) because it didn’t fit the song, it wasn’t “resonant” enough. I couldn’t tell, but then again, I was busy pondering the miscasting of the Phantom. He shouldn’t be that handsome (even with the prosthetics). I had always envisioned him as Quasimodo-ugly. Directors should be banned from catering to the randy female hordes (or randy male hordes for that matter) unless the script actually calls for it.

A Ramble About Traveling

Getting up at 3:30 AM to catch a morning flight is not my idea of a good time. Perhaps this will give me incentive to plan my next bout of traveling a bit more carefully, but knowing myself, I’ll probably end up doing things at the last minute yet again when others prod me with reminders. At any rate, I was tired and somewhat grumpy when the old lady (who could have been anyone’s grandmother, really, except for the rather ferocious frown on her face) examining IDs and boarding passes pulled aside a young family (the mother, father, and two little kids could have been just about any family) who had presented passports as their IDs. And then she marked my boarding pass with a “P” and a squiggle. Oh, great.

All right, so all that happened was that I got a black wand waved around me, but I hated it. It’s not that I’m hiding anything because I’m not. I hate it because for one fleeing moment, whenever a security person marks something on my boarding pass or searches my bag or examines my person, I have this fear that they’d decide that they don’t like how I look like regardless of whether or not they found something and then just pull me out without me having any say in anything. Some people like how this makes them feel safe. It makes me feel helpless. Because some people are so afraid and paranoid about something bad happening, others have taken the license to make everyone afraid. You call this a precaution for keeping people safe? I call it playing right into the trap that they set in the first place.

I don’t know what happened to the young family, although I doubt they found anything besides books, clothes, and toys. (But I have to say, even toys can make paranoid people break out in hives. I recently saw a news story about a store manager who called the cops on a father who was showing his son a toy gun–which was an item being sold at the store.) Anyway, I had to transfer at BWI–which, by the way, was extremely painless compared to the last time I was there–and I swear, the plane I took was half filled with preboarders. That is, parents with kids under five. A flight attendant made some crack about how the rest of us should get busy so that the next holiday season, we’d also be able to preboard. I’m of the mind that parents should never take kids under the age of ten on board airplanes unless the kids are extremely well behaved, but what do I know? My parents took me all around Europe and Asia before I turned one and they told me that I slept through it all. Or maybe they were just being nice and maybe I was actually one of those annoying howlers.

I managed to sleep through the landing to MHT. (How? You may ask. Well, I’ve slept through much louder things. And I was really tired.) The baggage claim area was half filled with as yet unclaimed luggage–due to the U.S. Airways fiasco–and I found out that I had to wait four hours for the bus to take me up north. With that kind of schedule, I might as well have driven to the airport and left my car at the long term parking lot for my return regardless of the winter weather. So I spent the time waiting by doing something inane–reading the U.S. News special edition called Secrets of the Da Vinci Code.

Okay, so I call a lot of things inane or silly. But that doesn’t mean that I think certain magazines and movies and popular novels are bad. It only means that I’ve been hanging around academics and people who think they know everything too much. I’m sure their blather about what consititutes as something good to do during their spare time has somewhat brainwashed me. (And I wonder, what really is the extent of their influence on me? I tell myself that I don’t believe everything that comes out of a PhD’s mouth–especially when it’s opinion–but how much of my musings are a parrot of theirs? How much have I taken up as true and sound without bothering to second guess if it really is so?) At any rate, I feel it is better to read something inane if you’re waiting in an airport terminal during the holidays. Reading a textbook instead seems, well, as trying too hard. Or at least trying to show off–something I can’t stand in myself or others.

So now I find myself back. It’s somewhat hard to guage one’s own mood. I tried very hard not to think about it too much the past week and a half. Vacation was more like a pause, a halt to everything. It’s still somewhat paused although I finally have looked at the inboxes of my various e-mail accounts. I still have a few days to get myself in gear, but I know one thing’s for certain. It’ll be different from the one I was in last term.

The Thursday Threesome: Taking the Lights Down

Why is this posted so early? Well, in a couple of hours, I’ll be “taking off”. Sorry if I haven’t wished anyone a happy holiday before–because I do genuinely wish people a happy holiday–but I’ve been taking a break from the computer, let alone the internet.

Onesome: Taking– –some time off? Are you on holiday schedule tomorrow? …or is it just another day in the mines? How about a party in the evening? No?

Tomorrow? It’s back to school.

Twosome: the Lights– Hey, is this the weekend all the decorations come down? When do you “de-Christmas” your place?

My place wasn’t Christmas-y in the first place so I don’t have to worry about decorations.

Threesome: Down– –time… Are you getting any relaxation time this weekend? …or are you all wrapped up in parties and events? ..and for the students: are you done with down time? When do you have to go back?

No relaxation. I’ll be studying. Hopefully.

Snippets and a Meme

*On the flight from MHT to BNA, I noticed that one of the flight attendants had a really strong southern accent as she went through the spiel on what to do in case of an emergency. And I wondered: Is my memory going? I don’t recall anyone having such a strong accent when I did live in the south. Is that really her accent or was she doing a parody since we were flying to Nashville? Or have I lived up in New England for too long?

*The city was breaking out the salt trucks when it started to rain ice last night and the news stations were scrolling out all the school/day care closings. Apparently, I’ve been away too long since now I think this is an overreaction.

*Nashville is a lot more diverse than the boondocks in New Hampshire outside of the college. Or at least that has been my recent observation. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am, in a way. It’s funny how you get into this sort of complacent mindset that most other places in the country are basically the same. But then you take a closer look and you realize, no it isn’t. Not by a long shot.

*I took some time out to watch an anime series called Spiral. I haven’t watched a lot of anime, but it was my feeling that this one was far more brainy than the usual fare. The characters go around solving mysteries and puzzels and challenges using logic rather than resorting to magic and fighting machines. There are also other aspects to the series involving the main character trying to get out from the shadow of his brilliant older brother and a rather nilhistic attitude toward the idea of destiny–but this gets rather depressing and you wonder, did they get a bunch of goth teens to write the story’s philosophy?

* * *
The Thursday Threesome: All I Want For Christmas

(Via Shawn Allison, because when I go to the original website, the latest entry I get is December 9. And I swear I cleared the cache.)

Onesome: All– Ready, set, go! It’s all over in just a few days. Are you ready to relax a bit and kick back for a day or two? …or are you going to be the one working so darned hard to make it all work? (…or is that how you like it?)

I’m relaxing right now and not thinking about anything in particular. I’m not checking my e-mail either. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not.

Twosome: I want– The easy one : what is it you’d really like for Christmas this year? …any chance you’re getting it?

Well, what I want can’t be solved within the time frame of a Christmas break, so no. Otherwise, I don’t really want anything else.

Threesome: For Christmas– For Christmas? Sarah and I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas! Enjoy yourself this weekend!

Merry Christmas to you too!

A Note and a Meme

In a couple hours, I’ll be off to warmer climes. This does not mean I’m leaving everything behind for break. I’m literally taking the baggage with me.

Unconscious Mutterings

  1. Perfect Gift:: Wrapping
  2. Santa:: Claus
  3. Lucy:: I Love Lucy
  4. Buckets:: Of
  5. Recital:: Hall
  6. Stamp:: Rubber
  7. Teacher:: Faux pas
  8. Matchbox:: 20
  9. Spit:: Out
  10. Feeling:: Left

To a Person of Nearly Last Resort

A tiny speck of light has drifted down into the hole and now I can make out a little bit of my surroundings. Somehow, I’m not in the quicksand any more. I’m just caked with lots of sticky mud.

I feel ridiculously relieved and thankful.

A Brief Break

I’m trying to keep myself sane. Really, I am.

The World According to Eco. In an interview, Umberto Eco muses about the net and where it’s heading.

The Gadget Gap. “Why does all the cool stuff come out in Asia first?” Yeah, why do they? I’m trying to be a geek here and all I get is just the run-of-the-mill stuff that Joe Schmoe’s grandmother had last year.

The future is female. A professor of human genetics says that the male species is doomed. And I thought I was being pessimistic…

Japanese men lap up new comfort. Why am I not surprised? I once had roommates who called their pillows their “boyfriends”. That was sort of creepy.

Great, Just Great

I’ve about had it with those telephone solicitors who want you to make donations to the fire department or some fund for the family of officers killed in the line of duty. It’s not that I’m a tightwad or I’m cold-hearted. There’s just something wrong with such an intrusive act. I don’t want to give money just because someone asked for it. I’ll give it because I want to.

Yeah, yeah, I know I sound like such a hypocrite considering the previous post. (Even though I’m offering an exchange and not freeloading, but who’s going to buy that flimsy argument? Other people are probably worse off than I am.) And I’m feeling smaller than small. Just post some comments on how bad of a person you think I am. This week isn’t over yet–I’m sure this hole can get a bit deeper.


Well, asking (or in my overwrought mind, begging) people for help was an exercise in futility. The major excuses they gave (although in not these particular words) were that they had a life and they didn’t want to get sucked into a similar hole like mine. I suppose people don’t want to be bothered during the holidays–their perogative–and really, I’m just a nobody within their sphere of acquaintences.

I’m not even asking for special favors or special treatment. Only an exchange of one thing for another. But I guess that’s just too much to ask for. So yeah, I’m still stuck in this hole and now I’ve realized there’s quicksand in the bottom and I’m already up to my knees.

Motivation Isn’t the Problem

Well, I’m still at the bottom of the gigantic hole I dug myself into. I have no one to blame except myself (blaming anyone else on this somewhat permanent medium is a risk I can’t afford to take–besides, it’s rather irresponsible). However, I woke up this morning thinking I should start clawing my way out of the hole. It is, unfortunately, a daunting prospect, but I’ve got to start some time. Staying in the hole is quite unappealing.

There is, of course, the possibility that someone’s waiting at the top of the hole, ready to push me back in–but I’m trying very hard to not think about that.

Right now, the hole seems very deep. It’s pitch black. Sometimes, I’m not even sure which way is up or down. There are probably some very unpleasant creatures down here with me although at the moment, I don’t feel or hear them. And this is the one time I hate being so introspective, rolling the bad situation over and over inside my mind until I get headachy and feverish. I literally don’t have anything to help me except my own brain.

In real life, most people are probably thinking that I’m taking all of this rather well. Some of them are probably even gossiping and saying that they would never fall into a hole of this magnitude. Knowing their personalities, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. Perhaps the few people who did see me fall into the hole have their suspicions that things might be worse than they appear, but they can’t do anything. They’re not in this hole.