Saturday, April 30, 2005

Panic!

This is a public service announcement. Please, for the sake of your mental health, do not see Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

I hated hated hated this movie. Mike and I chose this over Sahara because Rotten Tomatoes (see sidebar) was more generous with HGG. I think I have to take Rotten Tomatoes off my sidebar.

And yes, I did read the book. I don’t remember much of it, but I hope it turns out to be more memorable than this POS.

I don’t know if the dry British lit-humour just didn’t translate to the screen or what. I don’t think it was the cast. Martin Freeman was fine, Mos Def was very good. There was a stupid fucking depressed robot thing that simply was not funny. I wanted to kill Sam Rockwell, and for the first time ever, Zooey Deschanel’s wide-eyed cuteness made me angry. How can a movie like this make me angry? It wasn’t Schindler’s List or Hotel Rwanda. It was a waste of time.

Storylines were disconnected. The love story was lacklustre to say the least (as this implied there was still some lustre, I’m loath to use this description). Zaphod has two heads! Zaphod has three arms! Oh, people! It’s so stinkin’ funny! Look at him! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! Ah. Oh… oh.

My favourite part was when Ford and Arthur went to a pub in the AM and ordered 6 pints of beer. I also think that was the funniest bit. It was 5 minutes from the opening titles. Oh, ye gods… I forgot about the opening titles. It was a chorus of dolphins singing “So long and thanks for the fish,” as a good-bye to earth. It went on.

I spent a huge chunk of time concentrating on prying a popcorn husk from between two of my molars with my tongue. I was actually disappointed once I’d extracted it, because then I had to pay attention to the film. Then I soothed my mind thinking about what Matthew McConaughey was doing in the next theatre.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Now I Can Rest Easy/Easier.

Why does my advisor have to be so GD nice? I really had myself all worked up and prepared to defend myself about how little work I’d done. I got in there, showed her a couple of interesting books I’d found, how I was arranging my fieldwork notes & transcriptions, and my early outline the thesis, and she seems all aglow about what I’d done. When I told her I’d started writing, she was so pleased. GD it!

I was all ready to defend myself, complete with excuses and promises.

Now, next week I have a committee meeting, which is my advisor and my second reader judging my progress in my company. I don’t want to see my second reader. She has every reason to be POed with me. I was sitting in on a class of hers (against my will) and my heart wasn’t in it, and she emailed me telling me to come to class prepared or not come at all. So I didn’t. I just stopped going like a petulant child. Ah… making academic friends… my favourite.

So, between then and now, I have to continue on my recent pretty darn good work record and in 2 weeks time, I’d like to have a draft (draught ?) of a chapter on authenticity and tourism. We’ll see.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

It Was a Murder But Not a Crime.

Holy crap, it’s been a while. I’m naughty.

Well, let’s see: last week I finally saw my advisor after 3 months of successfully evading her. We had already scheduled a committee meeting on the 4th of May, but she wanted to touch base before-hand, so now tomorrow I have a pre-committee meeting meeting. She wants to hear about what I’ve been up to, so I’ve been working pretty hard to make it look like I’ve been doing something for the semester. Basically, this means I’ve been transcribing and taking notes on the interviews I did last summer at an elevated pace.

I think I have 10 done now, and each one takes me at least 3 hours. This means if I was a real person with discipline, I could finish all of my 30-some interviews in a week or two, but as it is, I’m usually doing one a day.

Oh, did I mention that I only transcribe at the office? Yeah. I can’t concentrate at home. There are too many distractions, but also Jeremy has some sort of non-expiry date cold and he’s constantly sniffing and clearing his throat when I don’t think there’s anything to sniff or clear. It makes me sick and angry at the same time, so I’ve been spending a lot of time in at the office trying to avoid losing my cool/mind.

We’re having a little ‘do on Saturday. It’s Walpurgisnacht, which is one of the Satanist high holidays, and we thought since we had our last party on Hallowe’en, which is another big holiday (the other is your own birthday – ah, those Satanists...), we should bookend the year with another party. Also, it’s the one-year anniversary of Jem and I moving into this place.

Unfortunately, the day I was going to send out the invite, there was one waiting in my inbox from a classmate who is having a housewarming party for the same night. So, I feel like a jerk trying to snake guests away from him, but then I think – no, Catherine, you’re providing an alternative – this is a democracy. I just hate the idea of potentially pissing people off.

In other news, I hate bugs. I’ve developed an irrational fear of them. Yes, I know there’s a word for the irrational fear of something, but I’m not prepared to call it that just yet. I would kill them, but that's what you get a man roommate for - if they don't murder the bugs they look like pussies.

We have these enormous centipede things here. Fast. Flaily. Prehistoric. Jeremy looked them up on-line and tells me they’re called “House Centipedes,” they eat spiders and their bites are no worse then a bee sting. THEIR BITES! THEY BITE! Yeah, he told me this right before I went to bed on the night he killed the biggest one I’ve ever seen on my bedroom wall. Gack gack gack, I hate hate hate these things. I’m going to move to Qikiqtarjuaq and this will not be a problem.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Everybody Limbo!

I hate not knowing what I’m doing next year. I’ve been scouring the ‘net for job postings, but I don’t know how fruitful that will be. I think a good plan might be to find a company I’d like to work for, and submit a general resume and cover letter. Well, it might not be a good plan, but it’s a plan.

I’d like to work for someone who is socially responsible, environmentally focussed, culturally dedicated, and/or artistically driven. That’s easy, right? PG&E! Sigh.

I do not want to be an Admin. Assistant or general office worker, but someone who has challenges and responsibilities. (Not to say Admin. Assistants don’t have responsibilities, but I don’t think it would fully play to my strengths and educational background.)

Anyhow, keep your ears to the ground for jobs that I could kick ass at. I’m good with people, I work well in a team, I can think on my feet, and I’m a practical problem solver.

I don’t do windows.

Friday, April 15, 2005

It was OK.

I saw Fever Pitch yesterday. I was afraid. I was afraid that I was getting too worked up. The expectation was worrying me.

I was even more afraid 20 minutes into the film when it seemed like it was going to suck pretty hard. Jokes were not funny, and worse than that, Jimmy was not funny. Then things got better. Not just marginally better, but it almost made me forget how crappy those first 20 minutes were.

It was a little different than your typical rom-com. First, after your obligatory exposition, the pair were steadily dating within the first 15 minutes. There’s not much will-they-won’t-they garbage – they were already together. It was from inside the relationship that the romance was told. It was a bit of a triangle, though, for each character. Ben is a schoolteacher (the “cool” teacher of the school, made obvious by his wearing a sweatervest and tie with the shirttails out - woah) who is “normal” in the winter and an insane Red Sox fan in the summer. He had been for 23 years. Lindsey is just as dedicated to work and working out. She’s some sort of cool math geek who has become a successful something-or-other. On the working out side, almost all the scenes with her friends are from a super-gym (climbing wall and psycho spinning instructors included). *Side note to Ione Skye: lay off on the tooth-whitening! Your pearly whites gave me snow-blindness.

Anyhow, I won’t give away the plot, since there’s not a lot to give away. For a Farrelly-brother movie, there were only a couple of gross-outs, and one was somewhat necessary (food poisoning), while the other wasn’t really gross, but totally pointless. God bless anaesthesiologists.

I had forgotten I am susceptible to one thing: communitas. This is the sense of togetherness amongst strangers who are sharing an experience. I deal with this a lot with my research of pilgrims. Anyhow, I forgot how a pack of fans all cheering for one thing makes me very happy. Mike said this makes me “sensitive” in a Jane Austen way. Whatever. In the original 1997 movie, Arsenal won a big final game and there were street parties all around the stadium where people danced and sang and drank all night long. The whole movie is pretty good, even besides Colin Firth’s involvement, but these final scenes where everyone who had rallied behind the team celebrate victorious, I cry. I cry a lot. It makes me so happy. Maybe I am sensitive.

In the end, I won’t say rush out to see this movie, but if someone invites you, don’t turn them down right away. Think on it, because really, it’s not that bad. I’d say it’s burgeoning on good, but I’ll say it’s more… OK. It was OK. Solidly OK. Best of all, I think it might have broken my Jimmy fever.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

How the Mighty Have Fallon.

Hi. My name’s Catherine and I have a Jimmy problem.

I always go through these stupid phases. They’re really embarrassing, and I hate them. In the past, obsessions have included: Bill Nye the Science Guy, Conan O’Brien, Straw Bale Housing (still an excellent option!), and Tenacious D. To think that all these things are cool is not all that terrible, really, but I take admiration to new and scary heights, ‘til it’s then no longer a fun pastime, but an illness.

Now it’s Jimmy Fallon. I have already addressed what I think of his abilities in my post entitled “Fever Pitch,” below. Still, this last week, I’ve found myself distractedly thinking back to his appearance on Weekend Update last Saturday. A lot. Um… I downloaded it.

Is this what I’m damned to? Maybe I’ve limited my celebrity crushes to celebrities whose acting abilities have been described as not being able to “…do more than self-conscious.” Katrina Onstad of cbc.ca goes on to ask: “Is this pointy eunuch really supposed to be the first heartthrob to graduate Saturday Night Live? Empirically good-looking (if non-threatening boy-men are your thing), Fallon is crippled by… a nervous, asexual energy” (a full review and analysis of Fever Pitch can be found in cbc.ca’s Arts section).

Ouch. And no, boy-men are not my thing. Maybe Justin Timberlake. And Nick Costain. Um, and the guy from Almost Famous. But that's it! And Daniel Radcliffe. And Rupert Grint.

Anyhow, I’m very upset with myself, because I’m getting distracted by this goofball, and I know he’s a goofball, when I should be writing a Master’s thesis. Great. I suck because I’m not doing work, and I’m not even sucking in a cool way. My suckyness is even lame. Perfect.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Requiem for a Teacher's Assistant.

I finished my student’s participation marks today. I felt a great deal of closure as I posted those student numbers with their marks (out of 25%) on my office door. It’s the last time I’m going to do that. I’m almost finished of all my TA duties at McMaster, and I am so pleased. I still have to do the marathon marking escapade later in the month. My students write their final on the 20th, so I’ll get the exams on the morning of the 21st and have to have them finished by that Saturday, the 23rd. I think I have 57-58 exams to mark. Huzzah.

Being a TA is my favourite part of grad school. It’s kinda nice to know the stuff you learned in your undergrad is practical, if only in an academic atmosphere. I mean, I know that I really enjoy it, but when I can tell other people about the stuff I’ve learned, and they have to listen to me because I mark their attentiveness, that’s priceless.

Oh, did I mention there are monetary rewards? I’ll never be paid this well ever again.

I just hope that in the “real world” I’ll have a chance to put the stuff I’ve learned to work. And not just in a Trivial Pursuit way, but everyday use. I think it’ll be more useful as a general understanding tool, for example, how the December 26th tsunami was a terrible, terrible tragedy, but it was a tragedy on top of a tragedy that most of the multiple thousand Hindus that died had to be buried and not cremated. Or how the French government’s outlawing Muslim women’s wearing the hijab under the guise of secularism is such a huge insult. Or that Satanists don’t eat babies, abuse drugs or children, but have a way of life following an ideology like any other religion.

Whatever… Catherine, stay on track. The point is, I really like TAing. I like the non-responsibility of teaching, but not in the role of a professor, and while being dreadfully under-qualified.

Today Mike had a meeting with a student who was complaining about a mark. He changed it from a B- to a B. It made her happy, but in the books, he only changed it from a 73 to a 74. He told her that, too, and said it’s all psychological. She seemed placated.

It’s all diplomacy.

Being a TA is daily striking the balance between making people happy and making people sad. I find (I mean, found) it difficult to be a hard-ass with the students. Really, I can be a stickler about stuff, but what’s it going to matter in the long run? (Does this mean I have to lay off the Buddhist philosophy?) At the same time, I can’t abide disrespect, or when the students are taking the piss (taking advantage). This goes specifically for plagiarism. If a student thinks he or she can get away with something because I’m too dim to notice, I get really riled up and I want to nail the student to the wall. Particularly when it’s probably not the first time they’ve lifted something or not cited stuff properly.

Monday, April 11, 2005

A Death in the House.

Great. Jeremy and I have a new pet. Some of you might remember me mentioning our old pet, Rivers. He died unexpectedly (for him), when Jeremy slammed him with a shoe. Ok, I instigated his death, but I still think of him often. It might be because of his namesake, Rivers Cuomo, and I happen to think of him often. Patayto, Patahta.

Anyhow, a spider of Rivers’ breed but not heft is now living in a small hole closer to the toilet. Oh, did I mention that Rivers was a spider? Yeah. I used to make fun of my sister for disliking spiders, and really, there was no reason to be afraid of them on the East Coast, but here, they grow them a little bigger and blacker and faster here. They’re spry and wily. I think they’re conscious. To quote Strong Bad, they give me the jibblies.

Anyhow, just know that there will soon be a death in the house. R.I.P. Cedric.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

My Sad Shoe News

I got my Visa statement yesterday.

I gasped, then turned to my beautiful new shoes, and told them goodbye.

Man, I hate being poor.

My beautiful new shoes are packed up and ready to return to J.Crew.

Damn, I hate being so GD poor.

My Air Conditioning Rant.

I don’t like A/C. This is for many reasons: some physical, some more spiritual.

I don’t like being cold, and it never seems that the person setting the dials on the Air Conditioner has any sense of the Buddha’s “Middle Way.” That is, not too hot, not too cold. It’s more of a “You got it, flaunt it,” philosophy. The ‘conditioning’ that comes out of an A/C is not a breeze – it’s a sledgehammer of frigidity. There’s nothing subtle about turning all the humidity into microscopic sleet, and flash freezing all the air that doesn’t hold moisture until it resembles an arctic air mass. Brr. Let me just say this: the summer is too warm to wear a soft-cup bra all the time. ‘Nuff said.

In the summer, when it’s uncomfortably hot, I prefer to find shade, put on a skirt, a fan, and drink some water. I can be snooty about this because I live in a basement apartment. I can escape slightly underground in the Hamilton summer. I understand if I lived on the 13th floor in the GTA in the summer, I might change my mind, but it would be a difficult decision because I’m poor and I’d like to consider myself an environmentalist.

The energy draw on an Air Conditioner is incredible. Remember the blackout from a couple of summers ago? Not many do here, where the downed grid threw the entire Golden Horseshoe into dark. All the superfluous neon lights are back on, and this summer, I guarantee all the A/C units will be going 24-hours a day. It’s not even a consideration to turn them off at night.

It’s not just the money – it’s basically the consumption. More and more I’ve become aware of the resources we devour without any thought of from where it’s coming. “More and more” actually seems to be the order of the day. I see people watering their lawns in the middle of the day, when half the water evaporates in the sun (instead of at dusk, when one should water lawns). In the winter, heat is left on overnight when people are cuddled warm in their beds and it could easily be lowered at least 10 degrees. People continue to buy SUVs, though they’re no safer, guzzle the same amount of fuel, and gas is getting more expensive. Others leave lights on in rooms that don’t need illumination (i.e. they’re not occupied by humans). So, it’s not just the money that we pay for these resources, but the fact that we take them for granted. I almost hope there is another blackout, and soon. The more this happens, the more people will understand that the world is not there for us to polish off. No – we just happened to have the luck to live in North America where these kinds of resources are the norm.

I’m writing this rant early so when, in the summer (my first full summer in Upper Canada), I can moan and complain about the heat without you all remembering this post and reminding me. Also, I want to have my arguments ready for when my roommate wants to buy an Air Conditioning unit this summer. We call him Gollum – he never leaves the apartment, hides in the dark, and when he goes out into the sunshine, he hisses and screeches, “It hurts us!”

That last bit was a lie, but the rest is true.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Presents in the Post!


New shoes for Catherine! Oh, my. They sure are pretty. They’re not very “me,” though, which makes my little internal voice wonder if I should keep them. Then there’s a much louder voice telling me that they look super cute, they fit (which is no small feet, I mean, feat), and they were on sale! How great they’re going to look with my charcoal grey three-button, wide-leg pantsuit.

All I have to do is afford that pantsuit.

Baby steps, Catherine. Until then, my shoes are going to look super great with dark jeans.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Tra-la-la! Financial Ruin!

Today I got some backpay that our strike negotiations got we TAs. I had it spent before I got my paystub. This morning I hit Shopper’s Drug Mart. Hard. I’m pretty sure I’m officially a stockholder now.

Um, and I also ordered some shoes from JCrew. They are foxy and practical. They have a very low heel, which is perfect for we amazons.

Movies soon to be reviewed:
Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle
Sense and Sensibility
Monsieur Verdoux
, Modern Times and The Circus