Intrepid Girl Reporter


Wednesday, 10/29: stop reading Jezebel if you have such a problem
October 29, 2008, 9:08 pm
Filed under: blogz

I still read Jezebel because of the non-political stuff. It has news I can use. If you will.

That having been said, here are my major issues with the blog:

  1. Thinks it is much funnier than it is.
  2. The “Good/Bad/Ugly” feature is far better done by GoFugYourself. Also, half the shit they pass off as “good” would NOT meet the criteria of GFY, and for good reason: it is fugly. (Note to Oregon: I owe you forever for this blog.)
  3. BLATANTLY HYPOCRITICAL and, often, mean-spirited as well. Case in point: this story about young McCain supporters. Given the number of pro-sexual freedom stories that run on this blog, it’s astounding to see that they would mention a stereotype that counters this attitude so blatantly, and in such a nasty, back-handed way. Obviously, women dumb enough to be conservative don’t deserve the respect that their more enlightened liberal counterparts demand. Right? I have so many problems with this I almost don’t know where to start. And what I found even more disturbing was the following comment, left in response to the article:

Young Republican women scare me. Because I’m already tired of fighting, and it looks like it’s never going to end.

It is, in fact, too bad that we don’t all adhere to the right ideology. If only there were some way we could purge dissent…OH WAIT already been tried. Scratch that.

To be fair, there are almost 200 comments on that post alone, a number of which express much the same idea I do (i.e. people are allowed to disagree, that was not appropriate). I do acknowledge that their editors, as harpy* as they can be, are willing to allow a bit of debate. I just don’t want to hear anymore about how they can’t deal with people who are intolerant.

*I wish there were an equivalent male word. I’m trying to think of male mythological figures…DAMNIT PATRIARCHICAL MYTHOLOGY TELLERS.

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Tuesday, 10/28: somewhere
October 29, 2008, 4:04 am
Filed under: life progress

This is the first time I have not actively anticipated fall. This year the change in seasons reflects nothing so much as the breakdown in my plans, my panic at the unexpected when what’s unexpected is the lack of motion in any direction at all. I’ve been home for four months now, and while I won’t say I’m not closer to a job, this is not where I saw myself. And it’s that fact, and not my actual presence at home, that I find the most unnerving.

It snowed today a little bit, an occasion I would ordinarily find exhilarating but now only a signal that I’m hurtling toward another self-imposed deadline: Election Day. For personal reasons, and I wish this weren’t the case, I won’t be spending a lot of time at home that day. Which was what made it such a convenient date to set as a goal. Now it’s just another signpost. I can’t change the world from my living room, because I have no sense of the world outside this house, outside this town, or at least it feels that way.

I’m waiting to hear back from somewhere, but in the meantime, not being possessed of anything significant around which I can center my life, I’m struck occasionally by attacks of powerful nostalgia, mostly for streets and seasons and people with whom – last year, the year before, the year before that – I felt as though I was starting to sense a world larger than the one I knew. Now, of course, I wonder what happened. How could I not?



Sunday, 10/26: the starting line
October 26, 2008, 11:37 pm
Filed under: life progress, pipe dreams | Tags: , ,

I have this thing about finishing, which is to say that I can’t do it. I don’t finish sandwiches or the crusts off slices of pie. I read like thirteen books at one time. (And then I forget to return them before they’re due, which is why I won’t be going back to the Johnson City Public Library any time soon.) And, needless to say, I have five million projects going on at any given time.

I’m not sure that the subconscious reasons behind my failure to complete anything bear deep analysis – I sort of know what they are and they’re nothing terribly important or life-changing – but I do believe that this failure, itself, might pose a problem at some point. Which is why I am starting a new movement in my life in which I will make a sincere effort to finish things I’m already doing before moving on to other projects. To wit: THE ORANGE HAT.

The woman from the Embassy who worked with us on MSYDP (I’ll leave out her name, although, as previously mentioned, it’s not liking knowing a Korean person’s name will help you to identify them in any way) just had a baby, and I wanted to practice my circular knitting skills and make her a gift. I realize that the color of the hat makes it look like Baby’s either cheering for the Vols or Going A-Hunting (possibly deer or turkey), but I chose that hue because the hat is going to be in the shape of an orange*, which makes it both an orange hat (color) and an orange hat (shape). This will be the most delicious baby on the block. Anyway, I am planning on finishing it before starting one of the million other projects I have lined up. Largely because I don’t want the baby to outgrow it.

Speaking of the Vols (awkward segue apologies), I had a brilliant inspiration this weekend while watching yet another marching band competition. Here are the new divisions of collegiate football, as conceived by me.

TEAM NAMES: REAL

  • LSU Tigers
  • Louisville Cardinals
  • Florida Gators
  • Texas Longhorns
  • Michigan Wolverines
  • Oregon State Beavers
  • Wisconsin Badgers
  • Michigan Tech/UConn Huskies
  • Minnesota Gophers (please note: there would be a separate championship bowl for rodents, with the Badgers grandfathered in)
  • Oregon Ducks
  • Texas (San Antonio) Roadrunners
  • Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens
  • et al.

TEAM NAMES: IMAGINARY, HISTORICAL, AND/OR DIFFICULT TO QUANTIFY IN MASCOT FORMAT**

  • Indiana Hoosiers
  • Tennessee Volunteers
  • Oklahoma Sooners
  • any school with the name “Raiders” or “Blaze”
  • North Carolina Tar Heels
  • Alabama Crimson Tide
  • Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
  • Purdue Boilermakers
  • Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish
  • Florida State Seminoles
  • Wake Forest Demon Deacons
  • Virginia Tech Hokies
  • Penn State Nittany Lions
  • Syracuse Orange
  • Akron Zips
  • Miami Hurricanes
  • Georgetown Hoyas
  • et al.

TEAM NAMES: RESEMBLE AN ACTUAL ANIMAL BUT ARE NOT FOR WHATEVER REASON

  • Kentucky/Arizona Wildcats (category too broad, as many cats are wild: bobcat, mountain lion, ocelot, feral house pet)
  • Kansas Jayhawks (looks like a real bird but can find no record of such)
  • Arizona State Sun Devils (too cute to be as evil as claimed)
  • Cincinnati Bearcats (real animal but neither bear nor cat)
  • Iowa Hawkeyes (despite Scooter and Soccer’s assurances, NOT A REAL BIRD. Also, the mascot itself is a hawk, which is simply deceptive)
  • and so on, and so forth.

This way, all athletic matches can be visualized as actual fights, and the odds of a gopher beating a duck in general play can be fairly speculated upon. What say you, O Best Beloved?

*Actually it’s going to be a hallabong.

**Funny story: I, too, have suffered the indignity of a vague mascot. When I was in middle school, our school’s mascot was the Crusaders (because the school’s name was King – yes, really), and during my seventh grade year we had to choose mascots for our teams as well. Almost unbelievably, the teachers selected my friend Holly’s selection: the Everyday Heroes. This is why King Middle School eventually collapsed into a sinkhole and had to be vacated.



Monday, 10/20: clever clever
October 20, 2008, 5:38 pm
Filed under: poetry

I found this while looking for Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Spring and Fall (To A Young Child).” I’m not sure that I totally agree with it (that would require a deeper understanding of our current economic state than I have at the present moment), but I found it amusing nonetheless. Read them both if you’re not familiar with the original.



Sunday, 10/19: more of the same
October 20, 2008, 3:54 am
Filed under: crushes, media

A spotlight on an actor for whom, as previously mentioned, I have a particular affinity, which this article only serves to underscore. I would love to see that play, especially considering the fact that it also features “Mad Men”‘s Elisabeth Moss.

Also, according to some commercials that just played, there is a pet crematorium in Elizabethton (of course), and some actor from “Gilmore Girls” is starring in “Nunsense” in Bristol. Which is a pretty far journey in a relatively short period of time.

I’ve been crafting up a storm here. And the (Devil) Rays are going TO THE WORLD SERIES.



Wednesday, 10/15: Johnson City proves me wrong
October 16, 2008, 5:05 am
Filed under: crunch crunch, Johnson City | Tags: , ,

In today’s crunchy news: 1) Leanne won on Project Runway! Using sustainable textiles, which were beautiful. AND earth-friendly. That doesn’t even seem like an appropriate term to use with fabrics. Earth-cuddly? I like to imagine our planet snuggling up with products that respect her. I realize that this view of Earth fails to take natural disasters and other unpleasantries into account, but I fail to care. I have to admit that Kenley’s clothes were a little more accessible to me – I’m not sure I have the body to make all Leanne’s waves work – but Leanne’s clothes were gorgeous, and the fact that Kenley showed no capacity for reason or empathy rendered it impossible for me to root for her. As for Korto, I think she deserves her own daytime talk show.

2) The Tri-Cities’ first organic supermarket, EarthFare, opened today. Miguk Momma and I headed over there around 1 PM and we couldn’t find a parking spot. We had to circle until someone pulled out. We’ve been hearing rumors of this sort of development literally since we moved here in 2003, so we were delighted to see it come to fruition. It’s about the size of GreenLife, in Asheville, which is where we usually shop for foods unavailable in conventional groceries; it’s smaller than Whole Foods, but not problematically so. They also carry a marvelous array of cheeses and baked goods (two of my favorite food categories) and the most delicious soda currently in production. Thumbs up, EarthFare.

To be totally honest, I’ve always sort of doubted Johnson City’s capacity to sustain this sort of marketplace, because demographically speaking, this is not the ideal target market. Or so I thought. Aside from the fact that the parking lot was mobbed, as previously noted, the store was positively thick with customers: college students, families, men with long beards. And it was a diverse crowd, too, not just the denizens of East Tennessee State University. On cars I saw stickers that said “McCain for America” as well as “Treehugging Dirt Worshipper.” Upon further consideration, there’s a stronger support base here than I initially believed – after all, local food was the reality in this region back in the days of subsistence farming – and I hope it sticks.

Of course, I am a little concerned about Natural Foods Market, heretofore the only local source for quote-unquote whole foods. NFM is a local small business, albeit one that staffs people who name their cats Gaia, and I want to see it succeed. That having been said, EarthFare is about thirty times more user-friendly, it lists the provenance of most of its products, it invites some of their vendors to actually come in and offer samples of their wares (like the guy who gave us apple butter today), it doesn’t carry products with trans fats or high fructose corn syrup, and its yogurt selection is phenomenal. Natural Foods Market, meanwhile, needs to beef up its lighting and widen its aisles. Hopefully I will be able to do some sort of taste-test comparison soon. If either store is reading this, I will happily accept free food to try.



Sunday, 10/12: what we talk about when we talk about love

I have a lot that I want to cover here, but none of it (well, very little) directly relates to anything interesting about me. Sorry for those who know me personally. Also, I would swear that I’ve covered a few of the themes herein before (and referenced similar sources), but either I haven’t or WordPress’s search engine is failing me.

To be addressed in this post:

  • Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
  • The Westing Game
  • the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays
  • Ben Sollee
  • Christopher Walken’s best skit ever
  • marching band competitions

Okay, let’s go.

1. Someone (a real someone) once told me that when people talk about music, especially people of a certain demographic and generation, they’re not actually talking about music at all. (This is one of the things I feel like I’ve covered before, so if I have, apologies.) That idea was the only thing of any use that this someone left for me, but it’s a pretty succinct summation of what I’ve sort of always known, the way we use music (etc.) as a sort of cultural shorthand.*

Which is why I was unsure, going in, about seeing N&N. Everything from the soundtrack to the promotional fonts used suggested that the film’s creators were trying to create a Touchstone, a Cultural Reference Point rather than an authentic story. Another Garden State, if you will, something that guys on dates and girls looking to make friends could reference within the first five minutes of a conversation to assure the other party that they spoke the same language. (Of course, I am guilty of this too, and part of my feelings on the matter stem from my desire to prove that I’m not hopping on any sort of bandwagon. After all, I did sit through the first half of this movie thinking, “I’ve had Bishop Allen on my iPod for TWO YEARS!” and then cursing myself because in those two years, I’ve only listened to them maybe three times, thus making me just as Johnny-come-lately as anyone else. Sorry, end digression.)

Obviously I could go on for a long time about how our tastes should be freed from others’ judgment and yet never are, but what I wanted to talk about was the movie, which is actually very good. I think what made this film for me was the fact that this specific way of life is *not* particularly familiar to me – I was way overprotected and antisocial in the uncool way in high school, and I would never have been allowed to spend a night in NYC in that manner – and yet it felt familiar. The movie really captures the essence of those bizarre endless nights; in fact, it reminded me of nights at My College, which is saying something, because believe me, it is difficult to be further removed from New York than the town where MC resides. But the reason it does is because the movie gets at those feelings of absurdity and exhilaration and being young that exist no matter where you are. Also, Drunk Friend Caroline is amazing and dead-on. Also also, I’m not a huge Michael Cera fan exactly, but I do like that he looks real – when you see guys who are dorky like Zach Braff or (natch) John Krasinski, guys who sort of play into this trend of awkward, you (i.e. I) go, you are not actually awkward, sir, you are just trying to prove you are real. Whereas Michael Cera is NOT good looking (no offense if you read this, sir), and he’s legitimately almost squirmy. (That might be why I’m not a huge fan.) Watching someone like Zach Braff vs. watching Michael Cera is like watching Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed vs. watching Heather Matarazzo in Welcome to the Dollhouse. **

And yes, as much as I hate to admit it, the soundtrack is excellent.

2. This is for you, Brendan and Marie.

3. It’s a pretty well established fact that I’m not from anywhere in particular. That having been said, I still feel a particular affinity with the Floridian mindset and circumstance. Case in point: the Rays making it this far in the baseball season. No one in my family has ever liked, played, or even really watched baseball. Nonetheless, as I read Mr. Marchman’s article, I found myself nodding along in agreement, because I understood everything he was talking about. I remember when the Rays came, how excited everyone was, how willing we all were to overlook the fact that, as the author so kindly points out, they were all wearing “teal jerseys festooned with fish.” We weren’t even overlooking them; it seemed almost logical that if we in the old-people-infested swamplands of America were to be blessed with a real live sports team, we would have to wear something bizarre. Anything else would have seemed like a pose, a half-assed attempt to ape our brethren with deciduous forests.

There is a unique sort of surreal fatalism present on the Gulf Coast and further south. Elmore Leonard and “Maximum Bob” and their ilk are not, to be honest, all that far off; living there I grew accustomed, like everyone else around me, to my lot of extreme weather, ancient foreign intruders and alligators in the drains. Which is probably why I retain a great deal of affection for a place I haven’t lived in in nine years and would never live again, why I commend Slate for recognizing the unique position of the team fighting the underdog, and why I’m rooting for the Rays, even though they dropped the Devil from their name. My city’s still breathing.

(Side note: did you know that the so-called “devil ray” is actually harmless? Yes, our team was named after a powerless animal. Which means we appear to have outwussed even the Minnesota Twins. At least there are two of them.)

4. I just downloaded because he is my age and from Kentucky. I am excited, and I’m trying to figure out where in Lexington he went to high school, because we surely have some mutual friends. Again, I can’t shake off all these places I’ve lived, no matter how much I sometimes wish I could.

5. While the following skit is criminally underrecognized – it beats Cowbell by a mile – one of the underrecognized things WITHIN this underrecognized skit is the way it addresses Florida’s separate mentality. I’m not sure if it was on purpose or not, but “Don’t push your politics on me, buddy” almost feels like a shoutout. Also I wish Tim Meadows would get more credit for his abilities as a straight man.

The video leaves out the last line of the skit, which is a wild shriek, followed by Walken’s frustrated exclamation: “Again? But we just did it an hour ago!”

6. I went to see a marching band competition yesterday. This was my first marching band competition, and quite frankly, I don’t think I have the words to describe the pageantry of these sorts of events. Instead, I’ll leave you with a few photos from Bob Waters Stadium, Western Carolina University (home of the Pride of the Mountains).*** After watching, my mother and I were forced to conclude that when you’re a band director, inspiration is everywhere.

theme: “Taking Flight”/if you look closely, there’s a girl carrying a giant bird on a stick

theme: “War and Peace”/tragedies on display: atom bomb, dead soldiers

graveyard

dueling flutes. This show would obviously take really well to the “On Ice!” treatment.

This show was called “Make Sense.” Which was ironic because it didn’t. (How could it?) I do have to say, though, that I didn’t expect quite this level of abstract installation art from Bourbon County, KY. Note the progression of the lights in the head.

giant flower, natch.

majorettes with eyes on their chests, natch. What are they trying to tell us? WHAT IS THE CODE?

Parents with purple glitter cowboy hats. Natch. Maybe my old Kentucky and old Florida homes aren’t so far apart after all.

*I have swapped iPods with guys as a courting ritual on multiple occasions. More on this later maybe. One guy actually said, half-seriously, “You realize that this is the moment of truth.”

**Of course, I would still rather date Zach Braff, which speaks to the aspirational tendencies in all of us.

***Given the fact that UT’s band, with whom La Sister cheers, is known as The Pride of the Southland, I suggested having a Pride-Off where all the bands who claim to be the pride of their respective areas battle it out for title of Proudest, or alternately, Pride of America. No one else seemed to like this suggestion.