Intrepid Girl Reporter

Wednesday, 11/26: things for which I am a sucker
November 26, 2008, 1:44 pm
Filed under: IGR Recommends

It is the day before Thanksgiving and I am the second-sickest person in my house, a state of affairs that can plausibly be attributed to the fact that I spent the better part of last weekend chasing down a sick six-year-old, a sick three-year-old, and a sick baby. I would take some Sudafed but I generally find the side effects (for me) worse than the symptoms it addresses, which means that I am doomed to a cloudy head and a throat that feels like it’s filled with Karo syrup.

Anyway, topic at hand.


1. Is my audience familiar with Mick Collins, possibly the coolest (and oddest) man currently alive in America? Mick Collins is one of the few black punk pioneers of whom I am aware. He once released an album called I Sing The Booty Electric. He sounds sort of like James Earl Jones, he’s apparently an accomplished UNIX programmer, and he writes furry fiction in his spare time.

There’s a worthwhile interview with him (and his bandmate, who is significantly less cool) on The Sound of Young America. I think that link should work.

2. Weird musical genres, courtesy of This Recording.


1. Billy Breathes by Phish. I heard the last song off this album in 1999, when I was a freshman in high school. I loved what I heard, so naturally, being me, I never listened to the album again, with the exception of “Prince Caspian.” Of course I like it now. I wonder if there is some sort of cosmic principle preventing me from being timely/cool.

2. Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces. Truthfully, I’m setting off on the same path here, because there’s only one song I know off this album: “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, And Understanding,” and I only know that because of Lost in Translation, but I started listening to some of the other songs and I liked those too, so hopefully I am not condemned to repeat it (history).


1. Aliens in America. I have only seen one episode of this show, which I found because its theme song is, as you might guess, the aforementioned E. Costello masterpiece, but I’m in the process of watching more. As you might expect of a television program about the wacky misadventures of a Midwestern nerd’s family and their Muslim exchange student, it is mo corny. As a result, I am not terribly surprised that it got cancelled after one season. But it’s sort of adorable even though it’s not that good, because aww, people are learning tolerance and understanding! There are also a few moments of absurdity that shine through (e.g., “This is the worst thing that ever happened in our house, and we once had a clown die in our living room,” “I found myself telling the exchange student things I wouldn’t have even confessed to the guys in chorus”). It also features Amy Pietz, from one of my other favorite crappy television shows, Caroline in the City.


1. Side projects #1 and #2.

Wednesday, 11/19: animals
November 20, 2008, 12:05 am
Filed under: IGR Recommends, poetry

I had this dream last night that I read a poem. That was it; that’s all I can remember; and I didn’t even remember that until I started looking for “One Art” in order to reference it for this stupid essay for this fellowship program, and as I read it I had this vague memory of reading poetry and being struck by the perfection of its composition. It was a feeling that I haven’t had in the waking world in a really long time, and, thinking about it now, I didn’t appreciate that in this fictitious version of my life; I was just thinking, “This is a good poem. I like it.”

I haven’t read a lot of poetry lately. It’s one of my fairly constant goals, to broaden my horizons instead of returning to the same ones over and over, and there’s no reason for me not to do such a thing, but I just don’t always. It’s kind of like going to sleep at a decent hour. On any given night, there is every incentive for me to sleep and almost no positive results from staying awake until 2. (The allure of sleeping until 10AM wears off after five months of unemployment.) And yet I just don’t, whether through some sort of mental sloth or a fear of failure (failure to what? to understand a poem? to fall asleep?) or God knows what. Until I suddenly want to again, and then I read everything I can find for a week or two and set my alarms. There are a lot of things I haven’t been doing lately that I should.

But the memory of that poem inspired me to spend half an hour going through the archives of Rachel’s old blog to find this poem that she posted a long time ago, that I loved at the time, that I knew had something to do with maps and was by Sharon Olds. The only other poem-seeking I’ve done lately is Frank O’Hara, and quite frankly, that’s only because I a) saw him quoted on someone’s Facebook profile and b) Mad Men. Surprise: I don’t like the Sharon Olds one as much as I used to – I’m not crazy about it at all right now, actually, but maybe that’s because I’m not in any sort of love – and I really like Frank O’Hara. But I’m going to post them both here anyway, because I’d hate to lead you on.


Sharon Olds

After we flew across the country we
got in bed, laid our bodies
delicately together, like maps laid
face to face, East to West, my
San Francisco againt your New York, your
Fire Island against my Sonoma, my
New Orleans deep in your Texas, your Idaho
bright on my Great Lakes, my Kansas
burning against your Kansas, your Kansas
burning against my Kansas, your Eastern
Standard Time pressing into my
Pacific Time, my Mountain Time
beating against your Central Time, your
sun rising swiftly from the right my
sun rising swiftly from the left your
moon rising slowly from the left my
moon rising slowly from the right until
all four bodies of the sky
burn above us, sealing us together,
all our cities twin cities,
all our states united, one
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Frank O’Hara

             Have you forgotten what we were like then
       when we were still first rate
       and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth

       it's no use worrying about Time
       but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves
       and turned some sharp corners

       the whole pasture looked like our meal
       we didn't need speedometers
       we could manage cocktails out of ice and water

       I wouldn't want to be faster
       or greener than now if you were with me O you
       were the best of all my days

Tuesday, 11/18: not so groovy
November 19, 2008, 12:07 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Paul Simon’s hair is heartbreakingly old, and tonight on the Colbert Report he pretty much disavowed one of the first Simon and Garfunkel songs I ever loved: “Red Rubber Ball.” Apparently he wrote it for some quick money in London, and not to remind me permanently of sunny mornings in Yerkes 205 at My College. I am embedding the video below to express my disapproval.

Although the idea of time travel makes me uncomfortable, I would like to utilize it to see some of my favorite bands in their element.

Saturday, 11/15: capsule reviews
November 16, 2008, 1:34 am
Filed under: crushes, IGR Recommends


The orchestra pit was loud enough that I had trouble hearing the lines. Also, most participants were good at either acting or singing. At least one of Miguk Brother’s friends was in the band, wearing an inside-out Led Zeppelin hoodie in place of the black dress shirt he was supposed to sport.


Benjamin Nugent gets points for being Kelly Kapoor’s boyfriend. Linking that reveals that she’s started updating her blog again: a positive development. I don’t doubt that he’s a nerd, but to be honest, I found the book rather…slight, which is to say, not all that nerdy. He doesn’t delve all that deep into his subject, and I think more of a David Foster Wallace approach would have been more appropriate, because if there’s one thing that nerds love, it’s minutiae.

Other issues I had with the book:

  • classifications: He distinguishes between nerds who are unable to interact with others and nerds who are placed in that category by dint of social circumstances. These are not inaccurate, but they are inadequate; they fail to take into account the category of people who have a legitimate and substantial interest in information that may or may not be important, but that the majority of people do not consider worth their attention. E.g. the way people used to make fun of me because I, quote, “actually like to read.” (Further taunt: “I bet she doesn’t ever watch TV.”)
  • He doesn’t spend a lot of time on girl nerds, although as my brother pointed out, as a male nerd it is doubtful that he has spent a lot of time with the opposite sex.
  • My brother says that he mischaracterizes gamers. (I disagree.)
  • He references Paul Feig’s characterization of nerds as essentially liberal and jocks as essentially conservative in a way that fits in with his own paradigm, which suggests to me that he agrees with it. However, I know multiple guys from My College alone whose pursuit of conservative ideology made them, to say the least, not the most accessible people; in fact, I would argue that it was something of an alienating factor, and that their willingness to expound upon the nuances of what can appear on the surface to be a rather harsh (i.e. realist) ideology placed them squarely in Nerd Camp.

That having been said, his analysis of the “nerd trend” is absolutely spot-on, and articulates the way I’ve felt for a long time. As a person who used to sit alone at lunch and took to going to the library every day in order to avoid social interaction, and who used to read the encyclopedia for fun, I give others’ claims of nerdiness close scrutiny (even though I can interact with other people now). It’s the sort of thing I would have expected from Chuck Klosterman, and Mr. Klosterman is the only person I can think of who would have written about it better.

You hear fake nerd conversation. It follows a model. You bring up an “obsession” or “total fascination” with a purportedly unfashionable subject. “I am such a dork about old Hawaiian slide guitar. I actually have every King Benny record. I’ve so got a problem.” “Dude, you want to hit In-N-Out Burger? I basically live on their Protein Burgers when I’m in LA.”

This is a way of whipping out cultural capital, but not in the same way as leaving guests in the living room to retrieve a hollow-body guitar or a first edition of To The Lighthouse. The Gretsch and the Woolf say, “I am creative and educated, so I have an understanding of the blues and the Bloomsbury group.” The Hawaiian slide recordings and the In-N-Out Burger, which are both low-end consumer products, say, “I love the things I love because I am guided by some untamed voice within me that causes me to have random obsessions. I will follow my individualized obsessions, not trends, and be transparent about those obsessions, even when those obsessions tell me to like things widely considered ugly and cheap.” It’s the cultural capital of quirk.


I’ve always been sort of indifferent towards Beyonce, so I am a little surprised by how much I love this song. It sounds like the sharpest and most heart-wrenching breakup letter possible, with a surprisingly nuanced take (more so than it needs to be) on gender double standards. It’s a little more sophisticated than “Independent Women.” If I were Jay-Z, I’d be squirming a little. The melody hits this perfect balance between melancholic balad and angry tirade, too.


I can has?*


Kenny Shopsin is like a fully realized Daniel Pinkwater character come to life. I really want to go to his restaurant, but I’m afraid he would hate me, so I will content myself by trying his macaroni-and-cheese pancakes.


Seemingly the only thing that hasn’t suffered at the hands of their (apparent) new management. For $5, it’s an incredible pile of calamari in a very fine gingery dressing. You will not need anything else to eat.

*Look, I like weird not super famous actors. Besides, Clueless.

Friday, 11/7: new favorite
November 8, 2008, 5:19 am
Filed under: IGR Recommends, music

I have the Johnny Cash version too. I heard Bob Edwards (whom I love) interviewing James Taylor (whom I do not) and they were talking about his cover of this song, which I had never heard before. What’s weird is that to me, this sort of sounds like an REM song anyway, not a cover. I remember when Michael Stipe came out and everyone was like, “Did he think he was fooling anyone?” I wish he could get married in California, or anywhere else he wanted.

Wednesday, 11/5: it’s 2AM and I’ve played eight rounds
November 6, 2008, 7:15 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Brendan, please tell me you’ve seen this.

November 5, 2008, 5:29 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have such a huge crush on Reihan. But he’s probably too smart for me.