Ancrene Wiseass

A would-be medievalist holds forth on academia, teaching, gender politics, blogging, pop culture, critters, and whatever else comes her way.

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Yes, this really is yet another blog by a disillusioned grad student. I sympathize, but that's just the way it has to be. For hints as to what my bizarre alias means, click here and here and, if needed, here and here. To get a sense of what I'm up to, feel free to check out the sections called "Toward a Wiseass Creed" and "Showings: Some Introductory Wiseassery" in my main blog's left-hand sidebar. Please be aware that spamming, harassing, or otherwise obnoxious comments will be deleted and traced.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Bits and pieces from a strange few days

1) Exit the scapegoat: "Brownie" has resigned. Also in the same AP story:

White and black Americans view the federal response in starkly different ways, with more blacks viewing race as a factor, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.
The poll found that six in 10 blacks interviewed said the federal government was slow in rescuing those stranded in New Orleans because many of the people were black. But only about one in eight white respondents shared that view.

I reckon DuBois's "color line" still hasn't left us.

2) Cat Scratch Fever: Mouse went nuts this morning, running around the apartment like mad, sometimes in circles, and attacking my foot from beneath the bed so that he left me with a a huge pair of scratches that bled for some time. Made me wonder whether something was up (impending natural disaster? strange substances in the water?), but maybe it's just my own jumpiness from the past couple of weeks wearing off on him.

3) They won't watch a movie?: My students royally pissed me off today when in-class group meetings revealed that some of them hadn't even watched the films they were supposed to be presenting on tomorrow morning, much less come up with an analysis of them. I felt forced to grant an extension--lest we all have to watch supremely crappy and demoralizing presentations for two hours--and rearranged the entire week's schedule to do so. But I let them sweat it out for the entire class thinking I'd be holding them to the deadline and then gave them a stern talking-to, along the lines of "since I'm granting this extension and going to some inconvenience, these presentations had better be good." I mean, Lord-a-mercy, I know they're tired and have a lot to do; I'm completely exhausted and overwhelmed myself. But that's just damn ridiculous, particularly since this really is a pretty fun and lightweight assignment. I really am pretty deeply disappointed in them, and I'm worried about how well they're going to finish out the term.

4) Song and Dance: I began working on a presentation for Big Cheese Donor-Types at the library today: some folks are coming at the end of the week to see what the program I'm working for is up to, and my project's been picked as one of the ones to "show and tell" in an attempt to convince them to part with some cash. I'm having a great time at it: I do love the ballads, and I'm looking forward to talking about them. I don't mind being a salesperson when I believe in the product, after all.

5) Glasses Regained: On Friday evening, my friend on the night sanitation crew--who thought he was doing me a favor by retrieving them from the grad lounge and hanging on to them for me--returned my glasses. In actuality, all he did was keep me from being reunited with them for an extra 12 hours, but it's the thought that counts, I guess.

6) Samurai and Yakuza: I went to a weekend double-feature with Geek Boy of two movies produced in Japan in 1964: Ansatsu (Assassination)--which appeared to be a kind of allegory, through the central character, of a Japanese love-hate relationship with the old Imperial order that died with the forced "opening" of the country under Commodore Perry--and Ôkami to buta to ningen (Wolves, Pigs, and People)--which is about a small-time gangster who recruits his younger brother into a plot to rob drugs and money from a yakuza gang that includes his older brother. This one included some really wacky and rather incongruous scenes (especially because the rest of the movie was pretty intensely gritty) in which Japanese slum teenagers re-enacted some bizarre version of Beach Blanket Bingo combined with the nutty beatnik parties of The Swinger--only set against the bleak backdrop of an industrial canal and featuring scenes in which they chase down junkyard dogs to boil for dinner.

Both films were very challenging: they were definitely made by Japanese people for Japanese people, and it was sometimes difficult to get all the cultural nuances, but I liked them both very much. Ansatsu, in particular, had some really gorgeous scenes.

Geek Boy was less impressed than I was, though, and I have to admit there were some pacing issues. I also have to admit that I seem almost polymorphously perverse when it comes to movies: I'll watch just about anything, and I always seem to find something about whatever I'm watching interesting, even if I know it's awful. Maybe especially if I know it's awful. Case in point:

7) Knight Riders: A movie screened at Morgan and Bellwether's place that actually chased away four spectators. Now this was most definitely a crappy, crappy movie. And yet, I was sorta charmed by the goofy sincerity of it. George Romero, taking a break from zombie flicks in 1981, makes a movie about a biker-gang-cum-SCA-troupe-cum-hippie-commune who're trying to revive the dream of Camelot. It stars Ed Harris, who manages to:

(a) get naked a lot;
(b) end up with a silent, Native-American sidekick in the closing scenes; and
(c) yell his way through loads of bad dialogue, including "I'm not tryina' be a hero! I'm just tryina' fight the dragon!"

But, then, I guess that's part of my m.o. Joe Bob Briggs' separated-at-birth nerd sister, I'm just a B-movie / broadside ballad / Easy Cheese / doggerel romance-lovin' chick.

"Ain't nothin' passe 'bout the declasse:" that's my motto.