hereticalphysicist
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
  Blame Newsweek

I had a dream, referred to by Mike, that I walked into a women's bathroom. One wall was lined with sinks and a long mirror, the other was lined with stalls, and the whole bathroom had pink tiles. I went into one of the stalls to do my business. I was in there for a while before some woman kicked down the bathroom door and started screaming at me in Arabic. When she saw my surprise, she stepped back and apologized, explaining that because I took so long in there, they thought I was a terrorist, planning something evil, and they tried to bust me. I finished up and walked up to one of the sinks when I saw over my shoulder George W. Bush watlz in. He looked around with a bemused expression, and strolled through the doorway wearing jeans and a pink shirt. His head seemed quite large.

Recent Media
City of God, St. Augustine. I can't believe someone wrote this freaking book. He converted somewhat later in life and published several other books. And he wrote this in freaking Latin!
The Songs of Distant Earth, Arthur C. Clarke. This was actually quite interesting, even though I was skeptical. Scifi writers never seem to get human relationships quite right--always insipid dialogue and soap opera behavior. He kept it to a minimum in this book, just enough to explore the interesting outcomes of the situation he sets up.
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens. Good. Duh.
The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury. I pulled this already-read novel off my bookshelf (or book stack, as it were) because he was coming to speak at UCSB campus and would be signing. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford the $12 price tag, but I ended up reading the first chapter and was wrapped up in the story all over again. Ray Bradbury transcends his genre. He is such an excellent story teller.
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame. I had already read the book when I was younger, but I found this version with illustrations by Michael Hague, who also illustrated a much-loved children's book of mine, Rootabega Tales by Carl Sandburg. His illustrations are just breathtaking, and the story's pretty wonderful too.
The Almond Picker, Simonetta Agnello Hornby. A book about awful Sicilians.
The Secret of NIMH, written, directed and produced by Don Bluth (1982).
Speak Easily, Edward Sedgwick, dir. (1932) Another Buster Keaton flick.
The Rescuers (1977). This film also featured Don Bluth but cannot compare to films he has had complete control over.
Spellbound, Jeffrey Blitz, dir. (2002) Some of these words I know the meaning of but can't spell. Some of these words I can spell but don't know the meaning of. A few of these words I know the meaning of and can spell. Many of these words I do not know the meaning of and can't spell. Thank God 5000 Indians aren't depending on me for dinner.
Muppets Take Manhattan, Frank Oz, dir. (1984)
Desperately Seeking Susan, Susan Seidelman, dir. (1985) Nice to see some flesh on Madonna.
Talk to Her, Pedro Amodovar, dir. (2002) This is a wonderful movie. Beautiful and elegant.
Lain #1: Navi. From what I can gather, this seems like a Japanese anime TV show, although it's dubbed in English, and not too bad either. Typical themes: Internet, technology, scary little girls. But this show is really, really bizarre. I don't know where you can find it if you don't have Netflix, but I would urge anyone with Netflix to get it (and urge those without Netflix to get that too).
Busta Rhymes. Free concert. Wouldn't have paid for it but enjoyed it anyway. Those NORML people were really trying to get noticed.
Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, PJ Harvey (2000). Oh yes, Oh fucking yes.
The New Folk Implosion, The Folk Implosion (2000). One of the many CDs, including the following, that I got from the library. Man, Folk Implosion should have stuck with the old.
Nothing's Shocking, Jane's Addiction (1990). I don't know why I didn't already own this album because it fucking rocks.
Coverage, Mandy Moore (2003). I was fucking curious, okay?
Stephen Malkmus, Stephen Malkmus (2001). Unremarkable.
Get Ready, New Order (2001).
Both Sides Now, Joni Mitchell (2000). Joni Mitchell does jazz standars. A bit too too.
Power, Corruption, & Lies, New Order (1983). So good. But you all know that, right?
Charmed Life, Billy Idol (1990).
Court and Spark, Joni Mitchell (1972). For some reason Amazon.com gave 1990 for the album date, but I know it's much older, so I guess these other dates might not be right either. Anyway, this is good for cruising up the gold coast too.
Like a Prayer, Madonna. Her good songs are great, and the rest are just so-so. Still contains some goodies that the Immaculate Collection missed.
Pet Sounds, Beach Boys.
Over and out. 

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Sunday, May 15, 2005
  I am a Total Asshole and Other Stories

A conversation between Mike and I tonight, while watching a Star Wars commercial:

Me: [Trying to find something good to say about the movie.] At least they made Anakin Skywalker's hair in a seventies style so he kind of looks like the father of George Hamilton.

Mike: George Hamilton?

Me: Yeah.

Mike: Luke Skywalker?

Me: U-u-u-uh. [I leer.]

Mike: You mean Mark Hammill. [I ended this sentence with a question mark, but Mike came up behind me and told me it was a period.]

Me: [Blink.]

Mike: U-u-u-uh. [Leers.]

So who the hell is George Hamilton? Did I just make up the name? Did I have a seizure during that conversation and some information got misdirected in my brain causing me to be a total fucking idiot? So Mike looked up George Hamilton on Google. This is what he looks like. Look him up on IMDB. He has been in such movies as Crocodile Dundee in L.A., Zorro: the Gay Blade, and The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington.

The other story is about those kids who were banging on my window a couple months back. I blogged about it, but I'm too lazy to search through my archives to find the right post. But if you all really like me, you've probably read through all my archives anyway, right? After I caught the kid banging on my window and heckled him, they stopped bothering me for a few months. Then last week they super-banged on my window, several times. And a day later, someone painted "Fuck You" on the outside in black paint. I was a little disappointed in them. I would have painted it backwards so it could be read from the inside. We haven't washed the paint off yet--I've been doing recon around 3:40 everyday with a bottle of Formula 409 stashed in a backpack. In the meantime, we have a piece of paper taped up over the words, because there's an old folks home across the way.

In a way, I'm not much better than they are, and I give them a silent applause for their balls. Today Mike and I strolled down State St., the main street in Santa Barbara. It was quite crowded, and there was a continual shuffle down the sidewalk. I glanced out into the street and made eye contact with a girl sitting inside a stretch Hummer. I stopped in my tracks. I raised a cupped hang to my mouth for amplification and yelled, "White trash!" Really, I had just meant it to be a stupid gag to make Mike laugh, even though I was blocking traffic on the sidewalk to do it. People who know me, however, say I have a loud voice. Perhaps I'm just deaf, but I have noticed a tendancy for it to carry, as it did today, 50 feet into the street and through the open window of the stretch Hummer.

Recent Media
An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England, Venetia Murray. The Regency Period took place between about 1780/90 and 1830, during the reign of the, uh, Regency Prince (who is actually George the IV, but that's not the kind of information this book is trying to give). Around 1830 a Reform Bill passed through Parliament, radically altering the power of the nobility, and farmers began to have more influence. This is for all reading this who care, which is one of you, which is me. To my disappointment, I didn’t really learn anything from this book that I didn’t already know, except the difference between dandies in the end of the eighteenth century and dandies at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and that these dandies liked to box. The author has an annoying habit of quoting people who spoke in French and then not translating this. Seeing as the book was published about 4 years ago, I don’t think she should have assumed that all her readers can speak French. Also, she refers to the who’s who of the times by last name only, often not even including a footnote on what this person did, why we might know who he is. This implies an intimacy on her part with the people of that period that just doesn’t exist. I have the same pet peeve with bookworms. They always refer to authors by their last names, as if to form a club of all those people who know who these names are, excluding all those people who don’t. I consider myself a voracious reader, but I also have a rather slow-working mind, and last name dropping annoys me because it usually takes me a few seconds to figure out who the last name belongs to, and by the time I have, the speaker assumes I’m an imbecile (a total one, not a partial one) and gives me the first name too. About the book, however, she does include an interesting section on food adulteration and how tinned foods were invented around that time. But mostly Murray just lists prices of objects and lists of things that show just how extravagant these rich people are, and then contrasting the figures to those for poor people. I get it, the rich were REALLY rich and the poor were REALLY poor. It’s like those astronomy exhibits at museums that say, “If Jupiter were an orange, the earth would be the size of this lentil. If Jupiter were the size of this room, the earth would be the size of your head, which means you are a big, fat idiot.” Also, the book has a problem with subject/verb agreement, which some previous reader has so charitably corrected throughout the book.
City of God, St. Augustine. Still truckin'.
The Harmon Chronicles, Harmon Leon. Harmon Leon travels California engaging in juvenile antics with several social groups. Some of the situations were pretty funny, but mostly he's an idiot. However, his tryout for Jeopardy was priceless:

"This person was the 1968 candidate for the American Independent Party," the host says.

I buzz in. "It's inertia!"

Not only is it the wrong answer, but as any moron knows, Jeopardy! is played by phrasing the answer in the form of a question.

"In China, these fiber-spinning caterpillars are stir fried."

I buzz in. "It's the silkworm."

"Remember, phrase it in the form of a question," the host says.

"Is it silkworms?"

He frowns.

"It's silkworms, isn't it?"

"Give it one more try," he says.

I get a distant look in my eyes. "Silkworms???"

La Dolce Vita, Frederico Fellini. I watched this movie for two weeks. It's excellent, but really slow because existentialism isn't that interesting.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum. With the original illustrations.
The Marvelous Land of Oz, L. Frank Baum. Ditto.
The Eyes of the Killer Robot, John Belliars.
The Great Escape, John Sturges, dir. (1963)
Parlor, Bedroom, and Bath, Edward Sedgwick, dir. (1931) An old Buster Keaton film.
What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!, Agatha Christie. I sometimes wonder what kind of people checked out books before me from the library. For some reason, I always imaged the previous reader of this collection of Agatha Christie tales also to be a 23-year-old girl. While I was reading, an American Flag sticker and a picture of the American flag fell out of the back of the book. I thought, what kind of young girl would take her Agatha Christie collection to an American flag event and buy a sticker and take a picture of the flag? Then I realized a young girl wouldn't. Obviously, I'm the only 23-year-old girl checking out this book, the first in a long line of little old ladies. How could I have been so blind?
Watership Down, the movie.
Strangers on a Train, Alfred Hitchcock, dir. (1951) I was actually kind of disapointed by this one...
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, William Goldman, writer. (1969)
The Committee, Sun'Allah Ibrahim. I recommend this.
The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, Yann Martel. I really liked Life of Pi, but this isn't as good. Be sympathetic--it's early stuff.
Kitchen, Banana Yoshimoto. Best name ever. What I'm naming my kid: Banana Yoshimoto Weisse.
The Body in the Library, Agatha Christie.
On Parole, Akira Yoshimura. I highly recommend this.
Journey To the West, Vol. 2. Anthony C. Yu, trans. Are we there yet?
The Apartment, Billy Wilder, dir. (1960) One of my favorite movies of time. Shirley MacLaine (as Fran Kubelik): "When you're in love with a married man, you shouldn't wear mascara." 

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The story of how I became a very, very bad physicist. But not really.

Other People's Business

Mike (the boy)
Al
Al's portfolio (give her a job)
Christian
Jenny
Paul
Rod
Tia
Todd


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