Monday Morning Madness   

Lovely weekend. Terribly busy. Wonderfully tired. Some silliness:

Posted by Sarcasmo on Sunday, February 27, 2005
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Friday Follies   

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, February 24, 2005
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I'm So Covetous   

I've never had any Vosges chocolate - and frankly I've never heard of them before - but clicking through their pages I feel the desire to try a little bit of everything. Perhaps the absinthe flavor in their exotic truffle collection speaks to the latent Victorian in me; maybe I'm entranced with the idea of starting my mornings with exquisite drinking chocolate partaken from the proper chocolate drinking vessel; it could even be the fact that, along with chocolate, they rather randomly sell nighties, motorcycles and motorcycle gear.

Chances are, though, I'm just tickled by the fact they have a chocolate collection named after Daisy and Gatsby - and really, what could please me more than chocolates named after literary characters?

Of course, in the end, I could just be hypnotised by the fact that they sell chocolate; lovely, lovely chocolate.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Wednesday, February 23, 2005
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There is an art gallery I often pass in my travels; it is small and sits on the street between antique and other purveyors of specialty goods, proudly displaying it's wares in large shop windows like its neighbors.

The most recent installation is the work of artist Christopher Gallego, and focuses on small detail, and unfinished spaces.* There is one painting in particular I find absolutely arresting – so much so that I feel compelled to stop and look at it each time I pass (much, I'm sure, to the chagrin of whomever I happen to be traveling with.) The painting is of a doorway ** with the door propped open and leading into a largely obscured room.

I am dying to know what's beyond that door.

Last weekend I happened by while the gallery was open and went inside for a closer look. After I was buzzed in by the gallery guardian I was ignored as though invisible; my sneakers (still spattered with wall paint from my own unfinished space) evidentially putting me in the category of "not a buyer."

Thing is, as I stood there, a mere foot from the painting, I did want to be a buyer. I longed to possess it, to take home and hang it at the top of my landing, right there at floor level at the top of the stairs, its unframed edges vanishing into my roughly painted walls so that a stair climber could see themselves climbing up the steps and walking right through that door. Unluckily for me (although perhaps luckily for my bank account, such as it is), the gallery guardian came and took a tape measure to this painting (my painting) for the other woman in the gallery (who was wearing very tasteful leather shoes)- so I assume she was making arrangements to take it home.

I had to content myself with committing it to memory the best I could.

Thinking about the painting last night, I realized I have a real attraction to doors***. I photograph them often, I stop to examine them, and they even are a recurring motif in my writing. And this is by no means a new phenomenon. In the grade school I attended the walls were peppered with small wooden doors (complete with brass hinges and doorknobs)- about three feet in height and set six or seven feet off the floor. As an adult, I've come to realize these were probably designed to allow maintenance access to the air ducts, but as a kid I imagined that after hours the school was overrun with gnomes and trolls who ran loudly around the halls, hooting and hollering and slamming doors; gnomes and trolls with the extra cool ability to be able to walk along the walls (because how else would they get to the doors?) Sometimes I thought I would catch the door closing out of the corner of my eye as I rounded a corner to class; like they were watching and would some day reveal themselves to me.***

As an adult my doorway imaginings have proven to be less wild - but in their way they are still fantastic. Instead of picturing people coming out, I instead wonder what I will find if I go in. Will the door take me to a cellar stairway and down to the depths of what lies beneath? Will the somber, weather-worn wood creak open to reveal a grand foyer painted in bright colors and decorated with elaborate murals of peacocks and birds of paradise? Is there, just beyond that archway, a quick turn that will lead me to a labyrinth of torch-lit tunnels where I run the risk of losing myself forever, even if I do find the mysterious treasure? Will I inadvertantly walk into a tea party? A masquerade? A gathering of motley characters who are on pins and needles waiting for the all-too-clever detective to finally announce who, among them, is the murder?

Will I have to excuse myself quietly, or will I be invited to join in?

Doorways are a fairly obvious metaphor for Escape - but they don't seem that way to me. I've been very fortunate in my life; I've little need or desire to escape from anything worse than boredom and, from time-to-time , myself. And when it comes down to it, I tend to view doors as entrances, not exits. Rather than a means to escape they are a chance for exploration and discovery. They are my personal metaphor for the life's infinite possibilities; and a closed door a powerful tease to my overwhelming sense of curiousity.

Even if you've been through the same door thousands of times - you've no guarantee that just what you expect will still be on the other side. A door is a continual gift; a perpetual mystery.

I dig that about them.

Last night as I lay in bed I pictured myself back at the gallery, standing in front of the painting, splattered sneakers and all. My imagined self took two steps forward to find herself standing in the painting. I realized then that in the painting there is not one, but three doors. The doorway to the left, through which the viewer has probably just travelled; the propped open door that is prominently visible, and the distantly doorway, also propped open, which can be seen in the next room. I stepped immediately through the door and into a large, unfurnished room; it smelled of dust and fresh paint and light streamed in through tall bay windows that were in need of curtains and cleaning, and which looked out into garden replete with grass and trees and flowering bushes (my mind seemed unable to decide whether or not the garden was walled in.)

It occured to me at that point that the three doorways were a metaphor for my life ****; the initial doorway my past, the current room my transient present, and the as yet unexplored door, my future.

I thought I'd take a look through the "future" door; to see if I could figure out where I was trying to lead myself too, what my hopes were, and other such I'm - no - psychologist - but - I - took- a - course - once - in - college type nonsenese. After a few false starts (I couldn't get myself to turn around, then I insisted the door was closed (no - I reminded myself firmly - in the painting the door was propped open), then I was sure all I would see was a swirling black vortex - because our future was unknown and unknowable) I told myself to get it together and stop being a wimp and just *look*. Here is what I saw:

Myself at a small writing scribbling away at a small writing, in front of floor to ceiling bay windows (unadorned)- the glare from the sunlight obscuring the outside view. The desk is an old-fashioned writing desk and I am using an inkwell and a fountain type pen - but my dress is modern. The room starts out empty - but soon the weather outside changes to rain, and the room transforms; the desk remains by the window by I see myself seated on a Victorian sofa, drinking something in a an oversized mug while a fire warms and brightens the room. The walls are lined floor with full bookshelves - and where there are no shelves I can see they are painted a tasteful combination of jewel and earthtones - the colors climbing in ribbons along the walls and up an previously unnoticed staircase to a mysterious second floor. I go half-way up the stairs and turned back-upstairs means bathrooms that need to be cleaned and bedrooms that may or may not indicate cohabitation and other domesitc issues I'm not quite ready to explore.

Besides, I'm doing doors now, not stairs - and sometimes it's good to focus.

Overall, I'm pleased. Through the future door there was life and color and comfort and coziness, a sense of well-being and independence. I take the image of myself writing by hand rather than by computer as a subconcious reminder that I want to write not only for electronic consumption, but rather in hopes of professional publication.

I don't worry too much that there was no sign of travel, as I tend to eschew travel souveniers that have no practical use; this is by and large because otherwise they are dust traps - and I hate to dust.

I also have to laugh because I never looked through that first doorway on the left - I just plowed straight through to where I wanted to go - a sure sign not only of my bullhead impatience - but also that I'm doomed to repeat past mistakes. A fact with which I am pretty much ok, as some of those mistakes were quite enjoyable.

I'd still really like to own that painting, Interior Study #4, even though I know it's unlikely I'll ever possess it. I think I'll stop by and take another look at it today - and wonder at what else might be on the other side.

* This appeals to me on two levels: (1) I believe that although life is a big picture – it is made up of smaller moments and (2) I consider myself largely unfinished.

**The online picture really doesn't do it justice.

***And by "doors" I also mean doorways, gates, cave entrances, tunnels, and other portal-like structures.

***I actually used these doors as inspiration for a children's fantasy story the first year I participated in Nanowrimo (the only year, in fact, I completed the challenge). In preparation, I contacted the school and requested permission to come look at the doors again - and to maybe get a look at what was inside. The permission was granted, but I decided not to go in the end, because I didn't want to replace the image of the wall-walking gnomes and trolls in my mind with the image of a cob-webby air vent that smelt of chalk-dust and kid-sweat.

****Granted, a rather heavy-handed metaphor. My sleepy brain is not always as elegant as I'd like.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Wednesday, February 23, 2005
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Villains are Meme-Tastical   

I'm not afraid to admit it: I love a good Bad Guy.

The Good Guy is often a reluctant hero, forced by Destiny and Providence to fight for the desired outcome. But the bad guy? He's just plain bad. He does what he wants. He takes what he pleases. He wears enough black clothing to absorb and trap all the light from the sun. A bad always has the appropriate bon mot at his lips, an excess of wonderful gadgets, and (generally speaking) some really cool digs from which to hatch his evil plans. And he gets to laugh aloud alot- and wave his fist at the sky - even when it's terribly inappropriate and everyone must laugh with him...or else.

Villains are just plain sexy. It's a fact of life. I still garner hopes I may be one when I grow up.

So, when I saw this meme starter on digressions from the omniverse, I couldn't stop myself from playing along. *

Your Top Five Villains of All Time, from Comics to Cartoons to Television to Film

Only five? Geeze. Here's my list as it stands at the moment. I've already made several changes because I'm having a hard time narrowing things down. There are just so many good ones.**:

  1. Iago from Othello and The Joker from Batman: Both are manipulative, diabolical, witty and malevolent - and in the end they have no other impetus than self-amusement (made sweeter by personal gain). The Joker, at least, has the ethical benefit of having been driven mad by a chemical accident. Iago, he's just plain bad. The kind of bad your Momma warned you about - or the kind she would have warned you about, if she could have found a way to do it in iambic pentameter.

  2. Jack the Ripper: His killing was systematic, yet somehow both coldly calculated and undeniably passionate. I'm counting him here even though he is based on someone of historic personage, because such was the affect of his crimes on international society and the depth of his mystery that he passes back and forth from reality to legend to fiction with great ease. He's pervaded our pop culture to become a celebrated serial killer.

  3. Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty & The Master from Doctor Who: Meglomanical geniuses with a flair for elaborate trap and fabulous fashion ensembles. If they got together, they'd have fantastically wicked children who could just as easily kill with a thought as with their wardrobes.

  4. Vincent Price's character in darn near everything where he plays the bad guy. Edward Lionheart in Theatre of Blood, Prospero in Masque of the Red Death, in Charles Dexter Ward (& Joseph Curwen) The Haunted Palace and Frederick Loren in The House on Haunted Hill leap to mind - but give me a while and I'm sure I'll come up with more. There's something about the intense portrayals of Price's villains that he somehow manages to edge with a dark humor that makes them both seductive and enjoyable - while often being entirely over-the-top.

  5. The Killer Klowns from Killer Klowns from Outer Space: They're clowns from outer space that trap and kill their enemies with cotton candy. What isn't there to love about these guys?

  6. (one more than is allowed - but I really have to include her) -Lady Asaji Washizu from Kumonosu jô (Akira Kurosawa 's retelling of MacBeth in feudal Japan.): Although the original Lady MacBeth is an impressive figure of manipulation, regret and madness, there is something about about Lady Asaji Washizu (largely, I suspect, do to the performance by Isuzu Yamada ) that I find eerie and devastatingly chilling. Everytime I watch that movie I wonder if she wasn't portrayed not by an actress, but rather a demon. A really creepy demon that wants to rule the world.

I have noticed while putting together this list, that my preference in villains seems to lean towards flamboyant geniuses with a wicked sense of humor. Ironically, I might use many of the same adjectives when describing the type of men I am attracted to. This explains a lot about my life.

*In fact, I could barely stop myself from listing villains indefinitely. Really - I could keep going all day (Jeffrey Comb's Dr. Herbert West and the Mother from Sante Sangre being next on my list) but I've already broken protocol enough. Memes have rules for a reason - you know. Else the internet would be a wild wasteland of self-important ramblings....oh. Never mind.

**Um...bad ones. Ones that are good at being bad. Whatever. You know what I mean. Don't start trouble or I'll start laughing manically - and you'd better laugh along too...or else!


Posted by Sarcasmo on Monday, February 21, 2005
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Monday Morning Madness   

Posted by Sarcasmo on Sunday, February 20, 2005
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Friday Follies   

  • Because Nothing Is Safe from the Arm Chair Pop-Psychologist: What do the video games you play say about your personality? Sadly - I think all of these apply to me in one way or another. - [K]

  • Doesn't He Ever Sleep In?: Since September 2002, this man has taken a picture of himself at 9:09 AM - no matter who he is with or what he is doing. I, on the other hand, am barely functional at 9AM - and have been known to have trouble with basic kitchen appliances (like coffee makers), let alone cameras. -[LMG]

  • Are You a Warrior or a Rogue?: If so, we need to talk. This website (who will want your email address) and their "How to Be a Hero" test tells me so - [S]:

    My Inner Hero - Wizard!

    I'm a Wizard!

    There are many types of magic, but all require a sharp mind and a cool head. There is no puzzle I can't solve, no problem I can't think my way out of. When you feel confused or uncertain, you can always rely on me to untangle the knots and put everything back in order for you.

    How about you? Click here to find your own inner hero.

  • Engineers Need to Groove Too: Geek Rhythms

  • And They All Lived Happily Ever After: Except for that mean guy. He had to be my butler. (at least that's how it works in my head.) Make your own trope-a-licious fairy tale with the Fairy Tale Generator. - [GB] What follows is what it generated for me (and let me add that I am in full support of any story that ends, "The people proclaimed me some kind of god".)

    I forget sometimes what people tell me to do or not do. What they tell me slips away into the backwaters of my memory where it drowns in all other memories forgotten.

    A serpent in the stream asked me, "What do you have in your bag?"

    As the cinnamon fell on my eyelids I felt a burden shift onto my shoulders. I could not open my eyes but could tell my knees were sunk halfway into the weak soil. I heard the old woman exhaust her laughter into my ears, filling them with tones of mockery and deceit.

    "Let me go to find what I seek," I said.

    I fled, I fled so fast that my feet did not feel the ground. Instead they chafed the cold breeze as my heels vibrated like wings of locusts and dragonflies.

    After I took the needle from its place, I pryed my father's bones from the floor and put them in my satchel.

    The fairy placed a single seed in my palm which I immediately planted and tended to for months. For days, I watered the seed, showered it with words of encouragement as it grew into a young sprout, and gave it proper space and care as it blossomed fully into a magnificent red rose that granted any wish that I whispered lovingly into its soft petals.

    As I approached the top of the mountain a white spectacle blinded me for an instant. When I blinked again I saw a white dragon shifting over the mountain like a layer of foam riding ocean waves. I could tell by its movement that it was a territorial creature; I could tell that it would fight me before allowing me to press further.

    Through the blind frenzy of earth and shadows I plunged my dagger into the creature's heart and watched as it melted into rain.

    With each step I took, the people of soil tried to clench my feet harder and began to pull me down.

    When I returned home Mother was not there. Instead, there was a man leaning against our door, sipping guava juice through a straw. He told me the lady of the house had left to search for her son, and that he had taken residence. I looked down on him and winced. His feet stank of manure.

    "This man," he pointed at me, "this man killed our father. See the blood on his shirt Mother? See it? The smell is like one of our own."

    Without hesitance I lifted my pant legs began to dance in father's leather bottomed shoes. The soles breezed across the floor, cutting the mist with rhythmic motions. I then turned the ring on my finger and watched my father rise, soil shedding from his skin. His shaved face and clean hands stood against the paling crowd. This impressed the people who stood before me, as did the fact that my tongue did not bleed from the needle it held.

    "My son!" Mother cried out to me.

    As mother embraced me, she looked at my brothers with great disdain and hurt.

    The soil on my skin turned into sprinkles of gold dust. The people proclaimed me some kind of god.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, February 17, 2005
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No, No, No, No, No, No, NO!!!!   

This is absolutely not right.

You'll pardon me as I stomp my feet in a loud useless manner and pout egregiously, fully realizing that corporate america does not care it is dismantling icons from my youth.

Laser eyes? Laser eyes?

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, February 17, 2005
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Too Much Pop, Not Enough Culture?   

Last night was my pick for a weekly movie-night gathering I attend - and instead of some of the stranger fare I often bring, I chose Casablaca. It is, perhaps, the quintessential film; tightly written, superbly cast, excellently acted and beautifully filmed*. I was not too surprised that it seemed well-received by the movie night crew.

What I found a bit heartbreaking, however, was that after the infamous end of the film, the following exchange took place between two folks who were seeing it for the first time:

P: "Wow. The last five minutes was all made up of quotes...just one after the other."

PHG: "The last five minutes? Try the whole movie."

What they meant, of course, was not that the movie was made up of quotes - but that it has been widely quoted (and famously misquoted). Even as someone who loves this movie dearly, I had to admit while watching this movie last night, Bogey's final "Here's looking at you, kid" seemed almost painfully cliched. It's not the film's fault, of course, but rather the fact the film is so good that, through the years, it has been quoted, copied, parodied, homaged and satirized to the point that I cannot help but wonder if the power of pop culture hasn't drained it of its essence, leaving it a mere shadow of its former self.

This is not the first time I've faced this phenomenon. Consider The Creature from Frankenstein: When I was in my primary childhood**, I thought I knew everything there was to know about The Creature - or as I erroneously referred to him for years and years, "Frankenstein"; he was a large, green, lumbering, addle-brained thing, with stitches in his neck, no joints in his arms, and strange, orthopedic shoes. The poor oaf was unable to express himself except in a series of infant-like moans; harmless in his intention but dangerous because his infant-like brain could not comprehend the strength of it's adult body. I knew this thanks to portrayals by Boris Karloff, Peter Boyle, Fred Gwynne- and even my father - who moaned his way through one Halloween transformed through the power of grease paint and a prosthetic forehead. The creature was awkward, pathetic, and even laughable. Even the fact he was, essentially, an amalgamation of re-animated corpse parts was somehow eclipsed by the fact he was basically the punch line of the monster movie pantheon.

I was a teenager when I finally read Frankenstein, and was shocked to discover The Creature was a being of not only super-human strength - but also great intelligence and understanding - a being capable of recognizing the fact the world that created him immediately rejected him, and with the iron will and capacity for violence that allowed him to carry out his precise and malevolent revenge. Here was a story I could see having been born out of nightmares***. It seemed a crime his having been so watered down by his inclusion in the circus that is popular culture.

Lest you think I'm maligning pop culture and all it's society-destroying glory - I'm not; in fact, I'm a bona fide pop culture junkie. I can't stay away from those "I Love the..." shows on VH1, I've been to numerous fan-run, television-show related conventions , and I've been involved in more than one conversation that has been made up primarily (if not exclusively) by pop culture quotes. Without the rampant cultural references that populate pop culture, we wouldn't have The Simpsons, sketch comedy, or entire genres of music****. Pop culture is a social language; it allows us to cross barriers of class, race, and education in order to find a greater commonality with our fellow man; it gives us a moment to put aside our politics and our religious beliefs and share a smile around the water cooler. Without pop culture, social gatherings made up of more than one demographic group would be painful and impossible.

I suppose in my ideal world, original sources would have a place - if not of reverence - than at least of some importance - and that no one would be exposed to a pop culture reference without first being made aware of its original inspiration*****. Of course, then there is the slippery slope of what is the original source (because in the end, almost everything has been inspired by something else******) - and we can't all be familiar with everything that has ever been written, sung, filmed, or televised, no matter how hard we try.

All I can hope is that we, as responsible consumers of pop culture, revisit the classics often and try, the best we can, to view them with new, unjudgemental eyes. If not, I fear we run the risk of squeezing our cultural icons until they are nothing but the dried husk remains; and if you can't be concerned what that might eventually do to say, Beowulf or the works of Wagner - then think about the eventual fate of real-life pop culture prisoners, such as Paris Hilton and Kato Kaelin; if we drain them of their essential selves for our amusement and enjoyment -then what is the fate of mankind?


*Also, it stars one of my favorite GAoH boyfriends, Humphrey Bogart - who has ruined me for ever accepting any other man wearing a white dinner jacket.

**As opposed to now, which is my secondary (or possibly tertiary) childhood.

***In fact, I'm getting chills thinking about him right now. I think I might have to put a re-read of Frankenstein next in my reading plans.

****And frankly, I don't want to live in a world that never had The Simpsons.

*****Of course, in my ideal world, people would stop using the phrase "Now is the winter of our discontent.." to indicate unhappiness. Man, that really irks me. The line is Now is the winter of our discontent/
Made glorious summer by this sun of York...
", which is celebratory in it's sentiment, not disconsolate. .

******Even Casablaca isn't original. It was based on the play Everybody Comes to Rick's.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, February 17, 2005
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More Grist for the Nightmare Mill   

I'm all for lessening the number of human casualties in war - but I think it would be a better idea to avoid such things through the increased use of diplomacy, and not, say by building a fleet of robots, and then gifting them with both guns and autonomy (NYT - may require registration). - [wmmna]

From the article:

"The lawyers tell me there are no prohibitions against robots making life-or-death decisions," said Mr. Johnson, who leads robotics efforts at the Joint Forces Command research center in Suffolk, Va. "I have been asked what happens if the robot destroys a school bus rather than a tank parked nearby. We will not entrust a robot with that decision until we are confident they can make it."...

"As machines become more intelligent, people will let machines make more of their decisions for them," Mr. Joy wrote recently in Wired magazine. "Eventually a stage may be reached at which the decisions necessary to keep the system running will be so complex that human beings will be incapable of making them intelligently. At that stage, the machines will be in effective control."

Let's not even get into how automating war takes away the human element, making it easier to forget that human lives are affected by the outcome; or how by creating these robots and giving them the ability to make what comes down to moral and ethical decisions is essentially giving them sentience - which means we, as a society, would have an obligation to recognize and respect them as a sentient species (thereby erradicating the cost-saving measure this is supposed to provide, as we *would* have to eventualy provide these robots with a salary - or else delve into some very gray areas regarding slavery) - because, after all - isn't what sets humans apart the ability to reason? (well, that and the opposable thumb); let us instead focus on the fact that we are talking about BUILDING ROBOTS AND GIVING THEM GUNS.

Has no one in the military and robotics communuity read The Veldt or seen Robocop? Or - say - thought the total ramifications of this through?

The ways in which I am not comfortable with this are many. Many, many, many.

Related Items:

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, February 17, 2005
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Because 'Shut Up!', That's Why   

Is this security device giving anyone else The Prisoner flashbacks?

Posted by Sarcasmo on Wednesday, February 16, 2005
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When I Become a Super Villain   

I so want a bird that can laugh manically. - [LS]

Posted by Sarcasmo on Wednesday, February 16, 2005
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Whereas I Can Sometimes Barely Manage to Talk to People I Know   

Marc Horowitz is making it cool to talk to strangers. - [gab]

I am intrigued by his projects, and really admire and respect the idea of bringing the art of conversation back into vogue* - however I suspect the fact that he is utterly adorable and charming makes this less of a challenge for him than it might be for the rest of us.

*I wish someone would do the same with traditional letter writing - I really love to shop for good stationary and pens - and I even have a wax seal gathering dust for want of use.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Monday, February 14, 2005
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The Day Chocolate Manufacturers and Florists Adore   

Whether you're romancing that special someone or even just romancing yourself, have a happy, healthy, delirious day.

And if you're on the lookout for him, I hope Cupid pulls through for you.

Look, I know it's a commercially orchestrated observance of a respect and affection that should ideally be demonstrated year-round; - but I can't help myself. Despite my best efforts at intellectual aloofness and cold, hard cynicism; deep down I'm a sucker for romance.

Happy paper heart day, everyone.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Sunday, February 13, 2005
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Monday Morning Madness   

  • Monday Morning Quiz: Here t'is.

  • Argh! The Little Men, They Defy Me: Hapland - a puzzle game that is likely to drive you crazy (if you weren't there already). If anyone could tell me how to get past the landmine, I (and what's left of my sanity) will be much obliged. -[S]

  • Frankly, He Was Always A Little "Too" Goody-Goody For Me: I've long suspected something was off about the Caped Crusader - and now I know it's true: Superman is a Dick - [JJJ]. Batman should quit hanging out with him - [WE]. Supe is clearly a bad influence.

  • Puncuation Replacement: I am so going to start using this puncuation method in my everday work emails. - [LF] :)

  • This. Is. Not. Right: See the trailer for a live-action Thundercats film, made by Nameless Entertainment. - [MF] Oh - and someone is also planning an animated version of The Who's Tommy. Is it to much to ask that people create some new pop culture phenomenons - rather than just changing the format of those of my youth? Please?

Posted by Sarcasmo on Sunday, February 13, 2005
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Not To Sound Paranoid, But...   

Memorial DetailI think my digital camera is trying to kill me.

Ok, that's a bit strong maybe. I think perhaps my digital camera is trying to maim me.

Yes, maim. That's decidedly a better word.

Earlier this week, a three-hour walk/photo taking expedition took me all over the South Philadelphia area. And today, a quick trip to the corner store ended up being another four-hour walking/ picture-taking marathon.

Now I'm quite fond of walking*, actually, and although I'm usually a grumpy starter (what - get dressed? put on shoes? what a pain. Much better to stay here on the sofa where it's warm and I can wear my pajamas and watch MTV's Made) - once I get started I find I really do enjoy myself - and can, unchecked, wander and amble about for hours**. But today it wasn't just walking - oh no - I found myself crossing train tracks to scramble down to the waterfront so I could venture under the bridges***, scrambling up grassy inclines, throwing myself into (and swinging myself out of) empty fountains, climbing the bases of statues and climbing down mysterious rough-hewn steps into the hoary vain attempts to get the shots I wanted! I even climbed the aptly named Cliff Walkway near the Philadelphia Museum of Art - not considering first that the fact the signage said something about the "Cliff Walkway Restoration Project" was a hint that in it's current state it was more cliff than walkway - a fact that should be considered in advance when there's nary a railing to protect one's clumsy self from crashing to the paved walk below.****

I walked and climbed and scrambled until my muscles began to complain and Jack Frost started to chomp at my nose (as I had refused to notice his nipping.)***** There I was, an hour's walk from home, with a full memory stick and no will left to do anything but collapse on the nearest park bench and stay there until I froze in place; the newest statue in the Fairmount Park pantheon. It was only with the promise of a cup of tea, a hot bath, and perhaps a little lie-down ****** I was able to coax myself to stay on my feet and walk home (stopping, of course, at the grocery on the way back - as it was my original goal).

And now I am sore - my shoulders ache, my lower back is tight...and let us not even begin to discuss the state of my calves.

I really have to protest: no hobby that involves the word "digital" should bear any resemblance to strenuous physical activity. It's almost as bad as those video games that keep luring me in, only to end up being cleverly disguised exercise! What's a geek girl to do (aside from purchase better shoes)?

*I realize you wouldn't know it to look at me; but that's because I am also quite fond of sitting and eating, and so far walking is the only thing I've convinced myself to do in moderation.

**I guess it's true what they say about inertia being the strongest force in the universe - once I get moving it can even overpower my innate laziness - a force I once considered insurmountable.

***I find I have a continual impulse to pursue to alley ways, "can't-see-around-the-bend" type corners, and any landscape that involves the undersides of bridges; it's the overwhelming urge to find out what lies just on the other side. And with bridges, of course, there is the added promise of trolls and treasure. (I rarely pursue under-the-bride type travel, for although my inner adventurer craves excitement, my inner wuss prefers that her head stays attached to her shoulders. If she should encounter trolls and/or treasure, she would firmly hope that the treasure would be light and portable enough to fit in her messenger bag, and that the troll was accomodating and friendly enough to share it's fire and offer her a cup of tea. As it happens, she didn't have to worry, as not only did I do my traversing in the light of day, but the bridges in questions actually spanned a fairly well-populated paved path - and the biggest challenge to my safety was being agile enough to dodge all the bikers and joggers.)

**** On the plus side, I chose descend via the rocky outcropping on the park side rather than go back down the "walkway", reasoning that at least this way if I came tumbling down, it would be on cold, hard mud and grass rather than cold, hard, skull-cracking cement. Here I learned two very important life lessons: (1) Loosely tied, worn-out sneakers are perhaps not the best climbing shoe and (2) Moss and lichen, although not terribly sturdy, make rather admirable hand-holds in a climbing pinch.

*****There's nothing quite like having the phrases "my bursitis is acting up" and "I'm chilled to the bone" looming in your head to remind you that your dotage is not as far off on the horizon as you'd like to think.

******Ignore the previous footnote, as the bribing oneself with tea, a bath, and a lie-down more or less suggests that dotage has already begun.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Sunday, February 13, 2005
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Good Night Sweetheart....   

I just found out that Sh Na Na is going to be performing with The Philly Pops in early March.

If Bowzer* is still with them - does anyone want to go with me? I'd really like to see them perform Tell Laura I Love Her live.

I only wish I were kidding.

After further investigation I see that Bowzer has struck out on his own. Can it really be Sha Na Na without him?

Posted by Sarcasmo on Saturday, February 12, 2005
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Email Weirdness   

There's has been something going on with my email service for the past few days which has been causing strange delays in when I get my email (for example, I was involved in an email conversation yesterday with several people - where I got some of the responses hours before I received the intial email that sparked the debate.)

So - if you have been trying to reach me via email and have had no luck - that's why. I'm probably not ignoring you. Well, it's possible, I suppose, but not probable.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Friday, February 11, 2005
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Friday Follies   

  • Rejected!: Rejection Letters from Xavier's School of Exceptional Youth. Speaks for itself, I think. - [AAGi21C]

  • Normally I'm Against Mixing Country Music and Star Wars: But this kinda works. (Besides - it's never hard to look at Han Solo.) - [IAB]

  • And Speaking of Han Solo Harrison Ford: You can play Indiana Jones in Odd-World (which strangely includes Star Wars storm troppers.) - [MV]

  • I Think The Lesson Is, "Look out for girls who like clumsy guys": Swain is a surprisingly charming and stylish animation about the nature of romance. - [SH]

  • "Check out my trained penguin." "What have you trained it to do?" "React with cruel indifference to the struggles of the penguin proletariat.": Buttercup Fesitval is non-sensical, brilliant, and often sublime.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, February 10, 2005
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Idle Pondering   

Should I ever decide to rename this blog (which I don't see happening anytime in the near future, what with my having just bought the bag and all) - I think I would change it to "Spoiled Cat with a Passport" - because that is would be my ideal life - to be a carefree, independent traveller who is well fed and able to nap in a sunny spot whenever and wherever I want...

Posted by Sarcasmo on Wednesday, February 09, 2005
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This Amuses Me *Way* More Than it Should   

Sinister Ducks. - [LMG]

Posted by Sarcasmo on Wednesday, February 09, 2005
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Today I Am Broken, Bruised and Battered And It's My Own Damn Fault   

As a by-product of the development from the Neanderthal to Homo Sapien Sapien, mankind has two brains: our lizard brain, which focuses on our continued survival and spurs our desire for food, sex, sleep, and shiny techno things; and the Neomammalian, or higher brain, which allows us to deduce, reason, apply logic, and become addicted to silly, yet well-written television programs.

However, after my strange behaviour last night, I have begun to suspect that I am a new form of human, a mutant if you will, as I seem to have formed a third brain: The Stubborn Brain, which defies both logic and survival cues in order to pursue its own, inexplicable goals, which are known to no one...not even me.

I have ordered a new bed, which is to be delivered to my apartment on Thursday by some lovely people who are not only going to hoof the bed, mattress, and accoutrements up my many flights of stairs, but who will also assemble them for me once they get there.

I could easily fall in love with them.

These same lovely folks will, apparently, also remove my old bedding - in this case a perfectable servicable futon made of Indonesian wood (or so the sticker on the frame tells me)- if I so choose. However - as there is nothing obstensibly wrong with the futon, and as, up until now, anyone guests staying with me have been relegated to the sofa, I thought "I'll just put this in my office and use it as a guest bed."

This may sound like a perfectly logical notion to anyone who has not seen my office - which is small - and whose available space is largely taken up by rows and rows of books, my computer desk, and a small reading area. Did I let that stop me? Of course not. As it happened, there was some wall space available, sort of, if you didn't really need access to that closet - which I do, but only four of five times a year and it will be really easy in that case to slide the futon out of the way to get to the closet. Right? Right?

Now's where I should mention that I am spatially challenged. It's not that things won't fit where I think they will - they invariably's just that they also invariably render useless a door, a drawer, or...a closet.

For some reason I got it into my head last night that now was as good a time as any to move the futon down the hall to my office. Afterall - I am perfectly capable of folding a futon into the folded position and sliding it 20 feet down the hall and into another room. I even measured first, to make sure it would fit in the space - which - after moving two book shelves (fully loaded with books) and manuevring my filing drawers, it would.

I feel that I should point out at this juncture, that at no pointduring what follows did I think to myself "This is a good idea."

The first sign of trouble came when I learned that the futon would not simply slide through my bedroom door; - even in the upright, folded position it was much too wide. This is about the time the dissention in my brain began to manifest itself.

Lizard Brain:
Higher Brain: You know, professional, power-tool wielding people moved you into this apartment. It's likely this wasn't moved in in one piece. The nice bed delivery people might help you move it down the hall if you just wait. You can simply push it out of the way in the meantime.

Stubborn Brain: No, no...I can make it fit. It'll fit.

And fair play to my Stubborn Brain - because after I (a) moved two (full) dressers (b) threw the futon mattress on the floor (c)opened the futon frame into it's flat position (into which it does not lock) and turned it up on it's side (d) defied several laws of time, space, and Euclidian Geometry, and, I think, (e) was visited briefly by Dirk Gently, I manuevered the futon frame (open so that flat side was parrallel to the wall) into the hall way.

Which is where I discoverd that: (1) the hall was too narrow for me to fold it back into it's upright position (b) if I let it go it was going to collapse on top of me and (c) there was no possible way I was going to be able to angle it into the office the way I had angled it out of the bedroom. I drug it down the length of the hall to my stair landing, hoping to get some wiggle room there - but with no luck. I disengaged myself from the contraption, letting it rest partially open, supported by each hallway wall. It was beginning to look likely that I'd never have access to my bedroom or office again.

Lizard Brain: Listen, sister, any second now this thing is going to clamp down on you like a bear trap, and you'll die here from dehydration because you'll be too embarrassed to call for help and admit you were bested by a piece of furniture. Give it up while you've still got all your appendages intact.

Higher Brain: If you recall, you mother said she and your dad would help you move this - especially if it involved it being dismantled. Why don't we just find a way to arrange this so it isn't blocking your entire hallway...

Stubborn Brain: Dismantle it! That's a great idea.

Higher Brain: Er...

I had at the legs and frame with my trusty Allen Wrench, and had the monster in pieces fairly quickly - not daring to contemplate how I was going to heft the folding mechanism into place on my own once the frame was reassembled. I pulled the frame pieces into the office, moved the full bookshelves again as I could see from the length of the frame pieces that I had mis-measured, fired up my MP3 player, and began the grumpy process of reassmbly.

Lizard Brain: Moving more furniture? You realize that just because you pay for a gym membership doesn't mean you automatically get all the benefits of going to the gym, don't you? You're in lousy shape. Are you actually trying to give yourself a heart-attack?

Higher Brain: Be reasonable. You know, you have some kind, clever friends who would probably help you if you asked them. Friends who are thoughtful, and strong, and who have much more than the mere passing understanding of 4th grade Physics you obviously have if you think this this going to fit comfortably into that space. And when is the last time you swept this floor?

Stubborn Brain: (Muttering under it's breath about how the stupid screw won't go into the stupid eyehole). I can do this. I can do this. I will do this.

After about 45 minutes and innumberable swear words later, I did, in fact, manage to reassemble the frame, drag in the folded platform and install it so that it opened and closed correctly and slide the whole thing kit and kaboodle in front of the closet. Now all that was left was to move the futon mattress into place.

Lizard Brain: Leave it on the bedroom floor and just sleep there until Thursday. That's thing is heavy and unweildy and you are now sore everywhere - and whatever doesn't hurt now will hurt tomorrow.

Higher Brain: Yeah. What she said.

Stubborn Brain: I started this, and I'm going to finish this. But first - I am going to have a snack.

Here there was a brief interlude where I went downstairs, had some chocolate and strawberries, and watched the dance-off scene in Once Bitten.

Lizard Brain: Mmm...chocolate and strawberries.

Higher Brain: I resent the fact that I just thought of this film as a "guilty pleasure" - I think it should just be considered a "pleasure". Just because it isn't highbrow doesn't mean I should feel obliged to qualify my enjoyment of it.. Also - wasn't there a dance-off scene between the vampire and the protagnoist's love interest in Fright Night as well? That would be an interesting thesis: The Struggle Between the Archetypes of the Virgin and the Whore As Told Through Dance in 80s Teen Vampire Comedys. Hey - is that chocolate and strawberries?

Stubborn Brain: Mmm...chocolate and strawberries.

After which I went upstairs and wrestled the futon mattress out of the bedroom, down the hall, and hefted it onto the futon frame, which was still in it's upright position.

I think at one point the mattress may have tried to eat me.

Lizard Brain: Oh for the love of...who gave you control of the body today anyway?
Higher Brain: If you are determined to do this, you could, at the very least, pull the frame back out and put it in it's flat position. It would make this whole process considerably easier.
Stubborn Brain: I started this and I am going to finish this and I am not pulling the frame out one more time.

And in the end, the Stubborn Brain had her way. Last night I slept in my office (with the futon still in it's sofa alignment), peaceably surrounded by my book collection, and wondering why I felt so determined to get that done that night.

There was one thing my brains agreed on though. After the mattress and remaining bedding had been hauled down the hall into the office, there were still the dustbunnies from under the bed's original position to be addressed.

Lizard Brain: Feh. Leave them till tomorrow.

Higher Brain: Roger that.

Stubborn Brain: Works for me.

That's my psyche for you. Dissociative in all but it's aversion to cleaning.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, February 08, 2005
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Let me make this clear up front: I am have no delusions about being the photographer in my family*. I have no eye for color, I'm awful at framing, and I still don't really know what all the settings on my camera do.

However, this has not stopped urban photography from being one of my new hobbies.

As part of my resolve to pay more attention to the interesting things that surround me in every day life, I've begun documenting the murals, sticker art, graffiti, and etc... that catch my eye**.

People sure do look at you funny when stop to take pictures of a newspaper box, believe-you-me.

I've been doing this for my own edification, so I was surprised yesterday when I received an email from a fellow Flickr member inviting me to participate in an international photography project - Art in Cities.

An art gallery called city

Cities are like a huge art gallery with a permanently changing exhibition. Art is submitted everywhere and constantly. The art is not made by the direction of an institution or company, but are short personal notes, big fascinating projects or intriguing protests. With graffiti, posters, stickers, stencils, etc the individual artists use the city as an art gallery.


ArtinCities collects the art by each city and wants to find out what is going on in the city. What moves the artists to use the city as a exhibition space? What are the reasons that the artist uses an illegal way to express him/herself? Are there trends (local, regional, international)? Which artists you can find in which city? How does the art spread around?

Lured by the possibility of engaging in an international forum on art & intent **I have begun submitting photos to this project.

Oh, Internet, you have made it possible for my mediocre photos to be displayed in a bonafide exhibit. Is there anything you can't do?

*This distinction goes to Sarcas-sis, who has natural skill and professional training. When on vacation with her, I generally stand as close to her as possible when she's shooting pictures and take an approximation of the photos she takes. I get some of my best vacation shots that way.

**I have to admit that I'm a bit ethically torn about this practice. On the one hand, this is part of my landscape, and allows me to question the meaning of art, and art in context, and the way that people interact with and comment on their surroundings. On the other (city-sanctioned murals aside) - I am more or less lending creedence to illegal, destructive, vandalism. However, as I stopped twice to snap pictures on my way to work this morning, I suppose it isn't troubling me too much.

***Well, that and the fact that they are giving away an iPod-Photo to the person who provides the best documentary.

Related Items:

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, February 08, 2005
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Monday Morning Madness   

  • Monday Morning Quiz: Find it here

  • Paper Doll Fun, Without All the Paper Cuts!: I'm indifferent to fashion (as anyone who has seen the way dress can attest to), and despite my love for Gawker, Defamer, and all thing Celebreality - I really do not follow the cult of the celebrity. So why, oh why, do I so love to dress-up on-line paper dolls...particularly dressing them in the most embarrassing combinations of clothing ever?

    Enter Paperdoll Heaven [MF]- offering a multitude of celebrities for you to dress (and sometimes interact with). Here is the couture I designed for Audrey Tatou, Dame Edna, Pink, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Oscar- although, to be honest, I don't think I did any worse than their stylists.

    Oh - and of course I dressed up Johnny Depp - but that was a labor of...oh, let's call it love....and not a an adventure in fashion.
    I do so adore a man in glasses.

    Dress them up in your love: Audrey Tatou, Dame Edna, Pink, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Oscar & Johnny Depp.)

  • And Speaking of Celebrities: I have two questions: Does anyone else find these creepy? And where is my Johnny Depp cookie? - [IAB]

  • Apparently the Phrase "Fun, Educational, Corporate Film" Is Not An Oxymoron : Make Mine Shoebox - [D]

  • Two God Mash-Ups: Both unholy .

Posted by Sarcasmo on Sunday, February 06, 2005
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Oh, l'amour, l'amour, How it Can Let You Down*   

It's February, which means commerically enforced romance is in the air - and even the Internet isn't a safe place for the sassy single to hide. Mostly, the Internet made me thankful I'm single...but I have to admit, this t-shirt made me swoon and wish for romance just a little bit.

Oh, Internet, you know the best way straight to my heart; pre-shrunk cotton dorkiness!

*From The Women, (possibly coming soon to a movie night near you!)

Posted by Sarcasmo on Friday, February 04, 2005
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Attention All Gamers   

If you have no plans this weekend, you might want to make your way to Alberta, Canada, where Biowhere is auditioning faces for upcoming games.

Boy howdy, I wish they were auditioning somewhere local.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Friday, February 04, 2005
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Friday Follies   

  • Totally Nifty!: Notepad Invaders: Kill the Monster! - [BH]

  • I Made It Myself: On the Internet, I can doodle for your amusement. (As often as I draw that damn flower you'd think I'd be better at it.) Oh - you might want to set the replay speed to fast...otherwise it'll take you as long to watch it as it did for me to doodle it. Make your own painting to share. - [ADitL]

  • Mini-Me: My latest attempt at creating my avatar using the Candybar Doll Maker. I'm sure I've posted this before - but it's just so much fun to play with.

  • A Daily Cup of Tea: This game is from Orisinal, and you know what that means: it is simple, lovely, elegant, and challenging. - [M&C]

  • And Speaking of Elegant, Challenging Games...: Try your hand at tiny grow. Let me know how you make out - I haven't quite mastered the intricacies yet like, say, the rules. Which is not to say I haven't grown anything..just that I'm not quite sure how...or why. - [ZF]

  • Thank You Brunching Shuttlecocks: and your Monster Pitch Generator for helping me make the nightmare of my dreams! Eddie Izzard, Johnny Depp and a Dragon? Heck yeah, sign me up. - [GB] Here's the ptich for my movie, Terror in Monster Swamp

    When Mad Scientist Susan Cordermanson (Sarcasmo) came upon the truth, even she was stunned. Stonehenge, those mystical, silent stones, were not the astronomical observatory as believed, but in fact were an ancient mechanism to summon an all-powerful creature, the Dragon. Armed with the truth and her trusty servant Ludo (Eddie Izzard), she entered the sacred circle, made the incantations, and, with a tremendous and earth-shattering rumble, brought the Dragon forth onto the world! But the Dragon wasn't happy to have its slumber disturbed, and it soon took its anger out on poor Ludo by eating him. Susan fled into the nearby village of Champignon, where, with the help of the village elder Servus Snippery (Johnny Depp), she had to make a stand against this horror she had summoned! A horror with one purpose on its terrible mind, to consume her horribly! You won't believe your eyes when you see the amazing new cgi-heavy feature, Terror in Monster Swamp!

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, February 03, 2005
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For All My Law-School Friends   

Yeah - I know this should really go on my quiz page. So sue me.


and go to because law school made laura do this.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, February 03, 2005
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I've Been Branded   


Now I know how Calvin Klein must have felt in the 80s. There really is something to be said for walking around with one's name bouncing along one's own behind.

I'm not a purse carrier (they're too tiny, the straps slip off my shoulder all the time, and I'm too absent-minded to travel with a clasp bag as I would put one down and never pick it up again)- so the city-friendly messenger bag (with ample room for books and all sundries) has long been my bag of choice.

Imagine my delight when my holiday gift from Sarcasmo Jr. included a gift-certificate for R.E. Load Baggages, and ergo permission to indulge in my secret desire to get a custom made messenger bag.

To be honest, I was a little unprepared for the wealth of options available (you get to make every concieable decision about the bag, from number of pockets, stitching color, interior color, etc) and really didn't take full advantage of all they could do. Still, I found their customer service to be stellar, and was quite pleased with the result.

My favorite feature (outside of the vanity flap - (To the two (2!) people who suggested alternate online handles to me this week - 'Starcasmo' and 'Cybermonkey'- there's no way that's happening now)) is the fact that I now have two cellphone pockets on the strap - one for my phone, and one for my digital camera - so I am permanently at the ready to take pictures and calls. (Sometimes it makes me happy to imagine my bag with a dozen such pockets - one for my GBA, one for my MP3 player, etc - a regular bandolier of tech - a utility belt for the modern urban dweller. Yeah...I'm weird that way.)

So, big thanks to Sarcasmo Jr., and hooray for rampant vanity consumerism! It's like I'm my own corporate whore.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, February 03, 2005
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Dude, the Internet Is Totally Spying on You   


Check out the seriously cool (and yet not-entirely Big Brother-like) new Yellow Pages Search from See the store fronts and travel up and down the street through liberal use of photos. (Perhaps most disturbing to me is that, since I was logged in to when I checked this out, it immediately focused on my neighborhood without my instructing it to do so. At least, I think it's because I'm logged in at I suppose it could just be watching me through my webcam. *Shudder*)

See how they did it here. - [LIB]

Posted by Sarcasmo on Wednesday, February 02, 2005
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Hello Darkness, My Old Friend   

This was more challenging than I would have thought:

Simon & Garfunkel or Marilyn Manson? - [TB]

I scored 80% - but I have to admit I guessed on one or two.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Wednesday, February 02, 2005
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Acting Out   

Some days I can't figure my psyche out.*

On the one hand, I have no compunction about making an ass out of myself in public. Anyone who has seen me dance in a store because I liked the song that came on the overhead system, watched me stomp through the rain with my closed umbrella in hand because I like the way the rain felt on my face, or was in attendance at the Redhead Lounge last Saturday night** can attest to this fact.

So - if I don't mind looking like an idiot in front of large groups of friends and strangers, why is it that mere mention of public speaking and performing fills my stomach with nervous hyper-active butterflies and my heart with a sickening, icy-dread?

Take for example last Saturday, when I auditioned*** for a local comedy improv troupe. (I'll save you from the suspense now so you don't have to skip ahead - I didn't make the cut.) I'm on the company's mailing list - and when their January list of shows came to my inbox complete with an open-call for auditions, the closet exhibitionist in me thought "Hey, that sounds like fun!" And so I signed up.

I have, for years, been trying to find ways to trick myself out of my performance jitters, and even went so far as to minor in Theatre Arts when I was in college. One performance, many stage crew injuries, and innumerable hours spent enduring countless amateur performances later, I learned that (a) ushering is the cheapest way to see a play, (b) the more time I have to prepare with a script, the worse I am with it (c) I'm really crap at acting...especially improv.

Knowing this about myself, I didn't have high expectations for my chances at the audition; in fact, I didn't have high expectations about the event at all. For some reason, the fact that I learned about open call from their audience mailing list, coupled with the fact they were encouraging non-theater types to try-out gave me the impression that it was going to be a very small, casual affair. In fact, I pondered at one point just how embarrassing it would be to be called back to the second audition (a group audition) only because they didn't have enough people to fill in the group.

It turns out I shouldn't have worried about that last bit.

I went to the audition in a very relaxed, comfortable state. The day was sunny, the wind was bracing, the audition didn't require me to do anything in preparation other than show-up on time, and in addition, I wasn't convinced that this was something I would want to do on the off chance I did manage to make a successful audition - so I had no reason to be nervous.

And then I walked into the waiting room.

This tiny practice space was packed with young, fresh-faced hopefuls - many of whom had been patiently sitting for hours, having been wait-listed because the audtion slots had filled-up so quickly. And they were nervous - leg-twitchingly, pale-palor-ee, sweating-despite-the-mean-temperature-in-the-room-being-40-degrees-eree nervous. The room absolutely pulsated with the energy.

I smiled and sat and quickly filled out my paperwork, content with knowing my scheduled audition slot was only moments away, and that I wasn't long for this atmosphere of terror and dread.

It's about this time that I found out they were running an hour behind on audition times.

So I sat.

And I waited.

As I waited, I noticed that the info sheets belonging to the people auditioning before me all went accompanied by head shots and lenghtly resumes, where as mine was a mere thin page on its own - augmented only the dashed-off words of my earnest heart (and of course, my poor handwriting.)

The room was buzzing with anxious conversations between auditioners****. One girl claimed to have been encouraged to come to the audtion by her League of Gentleman teacher; and the man sitting next to me (who was so visibly nervous I was waiting for his head to literally pop) practically exploded with his "Me too!" when the young pup to his left claimed to have done improv "a couple of years ago" with Second City in Chicago.*****

Clearly, I was outclassed; I didn't belong here. These people wanted this, maybe even needed it - and there I was, trapped in this small room on at Saturday afternoon on a lark - asking to be admitted to a program that barely paid any money and that required more of a committment than the National Guard...and what's more than that...I was in no way as qualified as anyone else in the room. Clearly, I was kidding myself. And after about an hour of this barrage of nerves-inducing atmosphere my knees had turned to rubber, my stomach had managed to tie itself in knots, and my brain was raging with self-doubt.

This is precisely when they called my name.

Imagine my surprise when I responded in a clear, bright voice; raised my hand; and smiled. Some courageous part of me had risen to the occassion, and was over-riding the nervous, self-doubting wreck that was the rest of me.

Unfortunately, this small act of acknowledgement had been apparently been so overwhelming, so exhausting, that Brave Me failed to show her face again for the rest of the day.

The audition itself went like this: I was ushered into a cramped backstage area (they were running two auditions at a time because of volume, one on-stage, and one backstage), and introduced to two members to the troupe, both of whom smiled at me in a very encouraging way. When our exchanges were conversational, I was fine, I was calm, I was alltogether together- but the second I had to do any performing, I fell to pieces.

First they asked me to create & introduce myself as three different charcaters (one at a time, natch), and talk as that character for about 30 seconds. Here are the characters I did:

  1. An extraordinarily nervous, hyper-active female who spoke too quickly and in a voice so loud she was practically screaming at her audience despite their close proximity

  2. An extraordinarily nervous, hyper-active female who spoke too quickly and in a voice so loud she was practically screaming at her audience despite their close proximity

  3. An extraordinarily nervous, hyper-active female who spoke too quickly and in a voice so loud she was practically screaming at her audience despite their close proximity, who came onstage hopping like a kangaroo

I was particularly proud of the kagaroo bit.

Then they had me describe my favorite holiday, while instructing me which emotional tones to use.

It should not surprise you that my "sad" and my "frightened" bore more than a passing resemblence to my "happy" and "excited", and that they all bore an amazing similarity to the characters I did in the beginning of the audition.

Once the audition was over, I was normal calm, collected, clumsy self again. I went out into the bright afternoon to buy some cheese, stop at the local video game store - then it was home to punch some zombies and rest-up for my subsequent caterwauling at the local piano bar (where I did not suffer the same sort of nerves).

And so I am left wondering - what is it about sanctioned performances that make me so nervous, when general public displays of

indecorous behavior rarely cause me to pause and think twice?

Perhaps it has to do with my lack of inner fortitude in the face of audience expectations; an audience neatly-lined in rows expects a certain amount of poise and brilliance; traits I tend not to exude in my day-to-day life; and I secretly hate to disappoint anyone.

Or maybe because when I sing myself hoarse over several glasses of wine, or dance in the produce aisle at the local grocery store or tromp through the streets in a downpour, I do so out of unfettered joy - not within the confines of someone else's structure and ideas of self-expression.

Or, more than likely, I'm just really poor at acting and public speaking. After all, even I have limitations.******

Although, I'm not too bad at imagining folks in their underwear. That's a start...surely?

*Ok..most days

**Where some very cool ladies joined me in raising quite a ruckus. Never fear - it was a very police-record friendly ruckus; the type where the piano player learns your name and says he wishes you would come to every show; not
the kind where the cute, young, and very large bouncer gives you the bum's rush.

***It occurs to me that I also went to an audition last January. Maybe I'll make this a new tradition.

****No one spoke to me, despite the fact that I had both showered that morning and brushed my hair. I can only assume it was because they knew I was a poseur, an interloper in their midst. I briefly considered getting up and moving to the corner of the room where a handful of other auditioners seemed to be being ignored by everyone else (what I began to think of as Misanthropes Corner, but frankly I was afraid that if I drew undue attention on myself the crowd might attack.

***** I must admit, I found the young pup's claim dubious, because he was clearly several years younger than I am. I had to actually bite my tongue when he claimed to have done improv was SC "years ago", because my immediate response was to say "What? When you were fourteen?", but I restrained myself because I have a tendencey to forget how old I am, and therefore mis-judge the relative age of others. I have to admit I felt a bit justified in thinking him a fibber when Mr. Head-About-To-Explode began rattling off the names of people he had worked with at Second City, and the Young Pup knew none of them.

******This doesn't mean I plan to accept them and move on to other things, mind you...I just thought it was a good idea to acknowledge them.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, February 01, 2005
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Blogger for Dinner: Correction   

In a previous post, I erroneously identified Eric Friedberg as the "Founder of Engadget" - which was just silly of me - as everyone knows, Engadget was (co)founded by the lovely (and hopefully forgiving) Peter Rojas, and not by Eric Friedberg at all.

Mea Culpa, Peter. I'll have my fact-checker sacked immediately.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, February 01, 2005
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