4.30.2008

Suit Yourself



I got a new suit last night. "New" is a funny term because my "old" suit is from 1999, the year I graduated from college, and was worn exactly once, to a friend's wedding in Chicago a year or so later. It no longer fits me because I was 50 pounds lighter then. Also, I never really liked it. It's double-breasted and it ended up looking like a zoot suit on me. This was before swing came back.

I needed a suit for a few important occasions this summer, one of which is my best friend from college's wedding in June in Minneapolis. I'm very excited for her, and she kindly asked me to read the Margaret Atwood poem "Habitation" at the wedding. I want to look nice for it. I thought I'd bring a little bit of the desert with me in the shirt and tie.

We don't wear suits much in Arizona. Things are pretty casual here. I wear a tie to work, but mostly because I like to, not because I have to, and many of you know my propensity for wearing sweater vests.

This has been our fashion discussion for today.

4.22.2008

Tightrope

You'll forgive me for being a little scattered this week as I pull together my last big projects and exams for the semester.

Only two classes left until I graduate! Yay!

In December. Boo.

4.20.2008

Fun Freudian Slip of the Day



As I'm doing homework, writing up a case for flat organizational structures, I continue to type

BUREAUCRAZY

instead of

BUREAUCRACY

4.18.2008

French New Wave Cinema, Meet Top Chef

I was catching up with my old lover TiVo last night, having been occupied every night for the past week and a half (by the end of this busy stretch, I'll have had daily & nightly obligations for a solid two weeks).

Top priorities: America's Next Top Model and Top Chef.



Top Chef's episode of two weeks ago, the one where they cater the dinner for the nonprofit, was especially timely in light of the work happening here on this blog this week. Aside from the fundraising aspect, I want to draw your attention to the post-elimination aspect of the episode, where the formerly-chummy contestants break down into a full-on shouting match that nearly becomes a lesbianism-fueled brawl (perhaps she needs "Pocket Shiva," the calming doll device for lesbians, as recently seen on The Big Gay Sketch Comedy Show).

What you'll noticed about this argument, and many reality-tv arguments, is the use of Godard's jump cutting technique, where, to paraphrase the words of the NYT article referenced yesterday, Godard kept only the shots he liked and cut out anything he didn't like. The jarring result is inspired and brilliant, and was then an entirely new approach to editing.

Now, it keeps the viewer from being bored and allows contestants to appear to be awfully articulate when arguing--or, at least, it preserves for us only their most serious examples of jackassery.

And really—isn't that what television's for?

4.17.2008

Godard/Truffaut

I was overjoyed yesterday when I saw in the Apr 7 issue of the New Yorker an extensive history/discussion of the impact of the friendship of Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, two of the most important filmmakers of the last decade. Godard and Truffaut revolutionized French filmmaking and, I believe, had a big hand in legitimizing film studies as a discrete discipline when they founded the seminal film journal Cahiers du Cinema with other New Wave filmmakers Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer.

I thought today would be a good today to let everyone know which films I most love from the French New Wave. I was lucky enough to have a whole class on the movement in college (coupled with Italian Neo-Realism) and was really inspired by the work they did:

François Truffaut's Jules et Jim
Agnes Varda's Cleo from 5 to 7
Alain Resnais's Hiroshima, Mon Amour

The Varda film is probably my favorite.



It tells the story of Cleo, a hip French pop singer, as she waits out the final two hours before she learns the results of a serious medical test. Beginning with a portentious tarot card reading and ending with a full life transformation, the film is a gorgeous, moving, and deeply emotional exploration of ninety minutes in a person's life. The film was an early experiment in real-time filmmaking, where film time elapses in tandem with real-world time, and it plays out beautifully.

4.15.2008

My Long Weekend: A Camera Phone Essay


First, I read at the gorgeous new Tempe Center for the Arts as the second event in the Tempe Poetry in April series.


I dropped Arden off at my parents' house for the weekend and left for California right after my reading!


Then I went to Magic Mountain--twice!


After a long day of roller coastering, we hit the hot tub.


We drove back to AZ at 5 am...and after a busy day, we hit the bars to celebrate Phoenix Pride.


On Sunday, I enjoyed a slight headache and a contemplative moment in the grass.


Then, there was Panic. But you knew that already.

4.14.2008

Panic at the Amphitheatre



Last night, capping off an extended and eventful weekend, I hit the Panic at the Disco concert at the Mesa Amphitheatre. They were joined by Phantom Planet (I missed them), The Hush Sound, and Motion City Soundtrack. I enjoyed The Hush Sound, but Motion City was just so-so.

This was my second Panic concert experience, having caught their arena tour last year with Cobra Starship and Jack's Mannequin. I'm happy to say that as their sound has matured, so has their showmanship. Their first tour consisted of them basically standing there playing their album from start to finish (which I kind of enjoyed) with little interaction or excitement involved. I think they might have been a little overwhelmed.

This tour finds them more comfortable and confident. There was a lot of inter-show banter between Ryan Ross, the band's songwriter, and Brandon Urie, the charismatic lead singer who, earlier this week, celebrated his 21st birthday. Ryan has that sort of quiet awkwardness sensitive teenagers possess, while Brandon is the kind of guy who would depants himself and run through the cafeteria, if you dared him or paid him a dollar.

Highlights of the show: the new material from Pretty. Odd. was engaging, as were the retooled versions of "But It's Better When We Do" and "There's a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered, Honey, You Just Haven't Figured It Out" from the first album. But probably my favorite performance was Brandon's solo acoustic rendition of "Time to Dance," which showed off his newly acquired strumming skills and showcased his vocal talents.

Hot stuff, yes.

4.09.2008

Man on Man Action

My review of the British publication of Dan Chiasson's Natural History and Other Poems is on display over at Eyewear:

Chiasson's work can be characterized by a deep, entrenched sadness. Poems frequently find themselves, sometimes inexplicably, worrying the concepts of death, decomposition, departure—even the implication of death, what Chiasson refers to as "the kitsch / of death" ("'…and yet the end must be as 'tis'"). Particularly in The Afterlife of Objects does this preoccupation hold center stage as it creates tension between the inevitable failures of the body against the static persistence of things.

In "My Ravine," the speaker describes a place in which a landfill for box springs, bookcases, desks, and even "somebody's hairdryer" becomes the irresistible resting place for deer, who ultimately "stare at each other and wander / bewildered down my ravine and turn into skeletons." Later, in "Natural History," the image appears again, but as an elephant: "Worn out by suffering, we lie on our great backs, / tossing grass up to heaven – as a distraction, not a prayer. // That's not humility you see on our long final journeys: / it's procrastination. It hurts my heavy body to lie down."

4.08.2008

The Women



A little something I'm working on, poetically speaking, right now. This not a finalized list but a brainstormed list. I think more are coming. Some will not be invited.

Dorothy Gale
Dorothy Eady
Ophelia
Joan of Arc
Karen Allen

4.07.2008

A Little Plug



The Lakeside Room is totally gorge(ous). It overlooks Tempe Town Lake and, in the evening, reflects the lights from the Mill Avenue Bridge and the lakefront walk.

Once I Had a Love; It Was a Gas



One of the gifts I got for my birthday this weekend was the Wii version of the American Idol Karaoke game.

If you know me at all, you know that I died a little bit, in a good way, to have karaoke at home, privately, and some of my favorite songs.

I'm about halfway through a competition "season" of the game. So far I've done well, always been in the top groups, and I've even scored two prestigious "diamond record" ratings for singing two songs perfectly, much to Paula's delight:

"Walkin' on Sunshine" (Katrina and the Waves)
"Heart of Glass" (Blondie)

My real-life karaoke crowd-pleaser, "Tainted Love," did not result in a diamond record despite the fact I have been practicing it in bars for about three years.

In any case, it makes me feel good to sing and then have people—digital people, yes—say nice things about it.

4.03.2008

Snow Falling on Sand Dunes



This is what I saw as I was walking across campus to my office yesterday: a snow drift. In April. In Arizona!

Keep in mind, our temps are in the mid-80s right now and it's sunny every day. I have no idea how the snow got there or, then, how it lasted so long!

Some phenomena are better left unexplored.

4.02.2008

Say Hello to My Little Friends

It was sort of embarrassing in retrospect yesterday, when I came back from seeing my doctor for a follow-up (still no firm diagnosis, but the pain's gone), the post office, Human Resources, etc--only to discover that the shirt I'd been wearing all day completely and totally exposed my nipples to the entire world, and not in a subtle "it's cold" kind of way. More like in a torrid braille novel way.