Intrepid Girl Reporter


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

SCIENCE HILL HIGH SCHOOL’S PRODUCTION OF SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS

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.

AMERICAN NERD: THE STORY OF MY PEOPLE BY BENJAMIN NUGENT

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.

BEYONCE’S “IF I WERE A BOY”

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.

PAUL RUDD ON SNL

I can has?*

EAT ME BY KENNY SHOPSIN

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.

THE SQUID SALAD AT STIR FRY

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.



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.



Friday, 8/1: rock and roll
August 2, 2008, 1:49 am
Filed under: crushes, IGR Recommends, life progress, miguk fam | Tags: , , , ,

The amount of Ryan Adams I am listening to on any given day is a pretty good indicator of my latitude in these United States. Being in Tennessee, with its relative proximity to Kentucky, is akin to approaching the limit of that particular equation (where Kentucky = maximum alt-country listening possible), so I’ve spent the past few trips to and from my statistics class working my way through Heartbreaker (good but too much of a downer to be listenable on some days), Gold (much better than I remembered) and Rock and Roll, which was fine until the abysmal “Note to Self: Don’t Die” (chorus: “Note to self: don’t change for anyone/note to self: don’t die” – I think he left off the note where he was supposed to pick up the dry cleaning and call back his mother), after which I pretty much checked out and started listening to that Mirah album about the bugs instead. Now that is music which requires no specific geographical location. I should have known better than to revisit any album that was on rotation during my time at Hollister.

I center each day lately around the class I’m taking at ETSU, which features people who say things like “I don’t do square roots” and “The least common denomiwhat?” My professor actually specializes in knot theory – I looked him up – so I’m not sure how he feels each day about coming to class and having to say things like “You’ll find that a basic knowledge of fractions is quite useful in a wide variety of jobs, actually.” Actually, I’m pretty sure that the whole class is a distraction from his Babylon 5 fansite, which I caught him updating today as I went to his office to take a test.

Rock and roll is pretty much the best phrase to describe my life right now, obviously. I did have another interview today with a potential job – most of the positions I’m looking at are in DC, which would be nice, as it would give me the opportunity to come home and see Miguk Sister in her new role as a Division 1 Cheerleader. In the meantime, I finished The New Kings of Nonfiction, which I didn’t want to like* but totally did, even Jack Hitt’s piece. Why must you torment me so, Ira? And when will you realize how you love me?

*Further elaboration on this point: I hate how liking stuff like TAL serves as this sort of shorthand for cool, like, look at me, I’m aware of cool shit. But I also know that I’m not the only one who feels like this, which means that it’s sort of not cool at all, actually, and that is stupid too. Can’t we just like things without considering their larger cultural ramifications? (Asks the Queen of the Navel Gazers.) I wish I had a clearer way to articulate this point.



Wednesday, 4/14: the land of pure imagination
May 14, 2008, 1:24 pm
Filed under: crushes, IGR Recommends, looks like, media

As a person who has never let actual constraints affect her imaginative powers, I’m often disappointed when I finally see pictures of the people I’ve imagined. Usually this applies to artists, as I don’t have a lot of other occasions to sit around and contemplate what people I don’t know look like. I love Mirah, for example, and Carla Bruni, but for whatever reason the image I had of them in my head simply doesn’t jive with what actually exists. Which isn’t to criticize them, of course; one can only change the way one looks to a certain extent, and the fact that Ms. Bruni isn’t exactly as ethereal and sad-looking as I might have thought doesn’t really mean that what she creates is any less valid. But still, I’m not going to deny a little bit of a letdown.

Perversely, however, Ira Glass is exactly as attractive as I pictured – maybe even a little bit more so – and that’s rather disappointing, too.

Figure 1: It’s a montage. (Or as close as I can get with WordPress.)

Part of me hates the fact that I love This American Life, the show so infamously described by one Summer Roberts as

…that show by those hipster know-it-alls who talk about how fascinating ordinary people are. Gawd.

There are times when I think the show would be perfect if it could just dump Jack Hitt and Sarah Vowell, two of the biggest perpetrators of the patronizing, ludicrously biased, unable-to-see-past-its-own-navel tone to which TAL sometimes falls victim. (Also, I hate hate HATE Sarah Vowell’s voice.) And then, of course, there are other times when it messes up all on its own.

Nonetheless, I love stories, and I love the idea of telling stories, and I respect the fact that – to a certain degree – the show tries to capture a wide range of stories in America. And I like the show, in general, period. It makes me laugh, and it’s interesting.

Still, though, it’s so cliche to be in love with Ira Glass. Couldn’t I have found someone less sort of isolated? Someone less likely to fall victim to all the accusations leveled at this demographic?

What I really want, I think, is to not want this. Because he does look exactly as I imagined, and I still like him.

.

.

.

I have a lot of quality student material to share and a lot to say about Japan, the reason for my extended hiatus, but not right now, which means probably never. Keep your fingers crossed if you like.



업서요/quelqu’un m’a dit
October 18, 2007, 3:26 pm
Filed under: actual transcripts, crushes, life on Jeju

Heads up:  I’ll be in A City for A Conference with the Program for the next few days; I’m bringing my laptop so that Oregon (formerly E) can get some music and so that I can maybe connect to the Internet, depending, even though some time away from a computer would probably be a good thing. Point being that I might be MIA for a few days, not that anyone checks this every day anyway, but if you do: a) I won’t be here and b) really?

I should have mentioned in my post re: the hood rats who are my students the other day that I was spontaneously serenaded the other day by four students who were late to class. They were in 1J, of course. I do have other classes, really, and many of them are colorful and smart and funny, but it is gratifying to know that this class feels the same way about me as I do about them. And I think they do, and I think that’s why, when I made them apologize for being late, they broke out into this FT Island song, the chorus of which is “I’m sorry but I love you.” Then this kid with pink glasses and weird fifties hair came up, got on one knee, and said, “(IGR). 사랑헤요.”  Which means “I love you.”

The wind has started back on Jeju-do, and I am very happy to be able to wear long-sleeved things and not be gross and sweaty.



it’s all fun and games until somebody loses a window
September 18, 2007, 3:25 am
Filed under: ACT, crushes, CT, life on Jeju, music, okay seriously Korea, PCT, skool, teaching, VP

So the price for my getting to spend time with the only cute teacher at my school (also, the only male teacher under fifty) this morning was a nasty-looking rock on the floor of my classroom, where it had landed after having been hurled through one of the windows at the end of the room. Vice Principal and Cute Teacher helped me sweep up the fragments of glass littering the floor – although there wasn’t a lot to talk about, given my complete absence of Korean skills – and then I was consigned to Pseudo Co-Teacher’s room next door until the whole thing got fixed. The whole thing is more than a little unnerving, although at least I know that it’s probably not personal; Actual Co-Teacher has assured me that the same thing happened twice last semester. Sweet. I was a little afraid that it was some student who was disgruntled over having not won a Choco Pie. Or maybe someone protesting against Kentucky Fried Chicken, or hapas, or people who can’t speak Korean. So many possibilities, really.

Every few months or so I forget exactly how in love I am with “Baba O’Riley,” so I listened to it on the way to school as I caught some third graders hanging out in Family Mart, and then I used it again as my signal for the kids to come into PCT’s room instead of mine. Which was the only upshot of the whole situation, I guess, because really I was just playing it to see if I could.

Other day highlights:

STUDENT RESPONSES TO THE PROMPT, “DESCRIBE JEJU-DO”

  • many cars
  • many beautiful girls
  • many handsome boys
  • exciting stones
  • oranges

STUDENT RESPONSES TO THE QUESTION, “WHAT HAPPENS IF THE NOISE-O-METER GETS TO FIVE?” (correct answer: no talking for the rest of the period)

  • “You hit”
  • “We die”
  • “You very angry”

As untrue as all those are (well, maybe not the last one), as much as I would like to sing that I don’t need to be forgiven…I made one kid in my last class, 2K, stay behind once the bell had rung. I actually know him pretty well, which is to say that I can remember his name; we’ve hung out after lunch a good bit. He’s tiny and mouthy and funny and he speaks English pretty well, but he seriously will not stop being disruptive and talking – which I can understand, having been more or less the same kid in some ways, but still. So I had my standard “you-are-smart-why-are-you-doing-this” talk with him, after which I released him into the care of his other English teacher, who then proceeded to corner him in the hall and hit him repeatedly with a book. And this is a teacher that I like.

PS. It’s not his best, but I’m still in love with David Sedaris.