Expatriot Act

The university of these days is a collection of books.

22 January 2007

Space Hootenanny

It was quite a weekend. Friday I ended up staying home instead of going dancing, and after the workout I got the rest of the weekend I'm glad I did! I needed to save up my dancin' mojo. Saturday I headed out to my knitting group's Secret Pal reveal (you secretly send someone else in the group packages for a few months and then make them a handmade gift at the end). I was so focused on finishing my gift and hoping that my pal would like it that I forgot, oh yeah, I get stuff too! I got some super soft nylon yarn and a GORGEOUS beaded hat that I love love love to pieces.

Here's Zoe with the gifts I gave her and me in my new hat!

Unfortunately about an hour into the reveal Debbie texted me from Adam's video rehearsal and said, "You should get here as soon as possible. The dance is really complicated." In case I didn't mention this before, my roommate Adam was shooting a professional music video at the Franklin Institute planetarium last night, and originally the emails said that the dancing would be really easy and you wouldn't have to be a very good dancer to do it. Ha! That was not entirely true. So I had to hightail it out of South Philly (and I was so sad I didn't get to see the rest of everyone's gifts!) But I got to the Painted Bride for rehearsal just in time to realize, oh gee whiz, this is going to be rather complicated.

The concept of the video is that elements in the universe - like stars, atoms, or people - all move in similar ways, sometimes chaotically, sometimes in elegant patterns, but always in flux. So the band is in the center of the planetarium, the stars are being shown above, and the dancers move in and out of big and small groups, sometimes dancing freely, sometimes in very elegant swirling patterns, and most of it was shot from above on a jib. It was really wild and cool. Everyone had good energy and got into it and fed off of each other.

The song is pretty countrified, a total footstomper, so there was some stylized squaredancing and people clapping and whirling about. At the end you have to look across the room to your partner, run to them, and kiss. I was sadly without partner, so I got paired up with a boy named Ricky at rehearsal. They told us originally that you could be creative, you didn't have to kiss on the mouth or lips, so there were some people kneeling and kissing hands, and Ricky and I came up with a really cute thing where he held my face in his hands and bent my head down and kissed my forehead. At rehearsal the band thought it was really cute, but the director (our friend) was like "Aww man you're not kissing her FOREHEAD! I wanna see some action!!" etc, so when we arrived for the shoot on Sunday the choreographer said, "Sorry for the false advertising but you guys do need to kiss now, either on the lips or right next to the lips on the cheek."

Ahem. But back to that in a bit.

We got all the lighting and stuff set up in the space and the dancers rehearsed (I got some cool pics of the setting up process, I'll post them on Flickr tonight) and we were just about to shoot and...THE FIRE ALARM GOES OFF. So we all had to stand outside in the sleet for about 20 minutes until we could go back in. We were all worried as the shoot was on a very tight schedule to begin with, but we worked it out. Everyone started off tentatively, and I don't think there was a single take where we didn't mess up in some fashion, but I think there was enough good stuff that they can piece it together, and by the end it was MAGICAL, everyone was really hamming it up and having an amazing time despite being super tired.

It was QUITE a workout, square dancing and running from place to place and ending in a kiss, take after take in rapid succession. The people who were making out had an advantage that you could kind of move around, but since Ricky and I went for a stylized kiss (started off on the cheek but we gave up on that quickly for convenience's sake, no tongue though, I swear!) where we both put our hands behind our backs and kissed like two little kids. Thing was, we had to hold that kiss everytime for nearly a full minute, and after running around for the first five minutes of each take you're totally out of breath, so you're kissing and breathing HARD through your nose at each other! It was really funny and a few times it was hard not to burst out laughing. We were strangers at first but I'd say we got to know each other fairly well by the end of the night haha!

When I got home every muscle in my body ached, Adam convinced me to give a good stretch before I went to bed which helped, but I was so full of adrenaline from running around like that all night that I couldn't fall asleep. My mind raced and raced all night long. So now I am so tired I can barely see straight. But man, that was some of the most fun I've had in so long, it was incredible to see all these people, no one getting paid, but everyone just giving it their all over and over again and having fun with each other and bonding and joking. I think the video is going to be so beautiful, I wish we didn't have to wait a few months to see it because I can't wait to see how it comes out. Horray!

Edit: Here's a pic friend and fellow space square dancer Gretchen took during some of the action:

Look at all that makin' out!

PS I saw BC Camplight at Johnny Brenda's on Saturday and it was incredible.
PPS My boss just asked me to go to South Beach at the end of April! Awesome.

19 January 2007

Nerd Alert

One of my favorite memories from Space College thus far came from our first on-campus session. Our little bad kids clique had just formed (and of course, being the "bad kids" in library school is pretty relative!) and we went to check out the gorgeously redesigned Carnegie Mellon Library. As we traipsed through the ground floor we came across a large room with one wall lined with a card catalogue. Instinctively we all (and by we all, I think I mean Stef and me) ran over to the catalogue and said, "Ooh!", opening the drawers and smelling the old paper inside.

My new place is slowly coming together and I'm really excited about the way it looks so far. None of the art is on the walls yet, though, and I'm waiting for my tall bookshelves to come so we can unpack the books into the "reading nook" area of the living room. But one of the main design elements that has been vexing me is where to put all the media. Now, books look gorgeous on a shelf, I would never want to hide my books. Vinyl, while not particularly pretty, is not totally unappealing as the spines are pretty uniform. But CDs, DVDs, and VHS? FUGLY. It's like having a mini Times Square in your living room--all garishly colored advertisements. Right now I have some shitty white IKEA shelves and towers that look terrible in my new place (not that I particularly liked them to begin with, but they did look much better two apartments ago when my room was hot pink and black). Listening to one of the Organizing Info lectures last night, I got a brainstorm and did a search and found the solution to my worries at a rather reasonable price. Behold:

It holds about 450 CDs/200 DVDs/100 VHS tapes or any combination therein. Squee! I cannot WAIT for my own baby card catalogue to show up! I will wait everyday by the window like Bart Simpson waiting for his spy camera.

Today my nerdiness has reached new heights.

12 January 2007

Tonite Let's All Make Love in London

Went to see two Peter Whitehead films at the I-House, Wholly Communion and Tonite Let's All Make Love in London. They were both fantastic documentaries that gave you a feeling of what it must have really been like in the 60s in London.

Wholly Communion (1965) shows when the US and English Beat poets got together in front of a crowd of 7,000 in Royal Albert Hall to read poetry. First of all, I'm amazed that they filled Albert Hall with poetry fans. The beautiful stylish guys and girls in the crowd were smoking pot, drinking wine from the bottle, and doing bizarre proto-hippie dances to the poems. It was a lot of the usual cast of characters from the US-- Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. But I had never heard (or even heard of) the English Beat poets so I was kinda interested in them. I thought of them, Adrian Mitchell gave a particularly good reading of his anti-Vietnam War poem, To Whom It May Concern.

The highlight of the film (for all the wrong reasons) was Harry Fainlight. Harry got up in front of 7,000 people and started to read his poem, and got interrupted by someone in the crowd (I feel like this person is probably famous as well). Harry proceeded to completely lose his shit and breakdown on stage, people started yelling at him, "READ YOUR POEM!!" and he's like, "This reading is all messed up now." And he asked the organizers to read another, and he did, and then he felt like he needed to "explain" it but the organizers were like, "Harry wants to explain his poem to you folks, but I say, nahh, the poem's great, we don't need to hear any more from you." Haha! Oh, it was like watching a train wreck. Every once in a while they would put the camera back on Harry and he looked absolutely shell shocked. Poetry is hell.

Ubuweb has a good writeup about the film here.

Next was the main feature, Tonite Let's All Make Love in London (1967) which was a profile of swingin' London around 1966. The psychedelic aesthetic of the shots of the streets at night were perfect, but the interviews with younger versions of still famous people were excellent. A young, dapper Michael Caine talking about the freedom of the mini-skirt, mod heartthrob Julie Christie bathed in window light, The Small Faces and Pink Floyd playing, and The Rolling Stones being practically torn limb from limb by ravenous fans. I realized I haven't heard an unsung word from Mick Jagger ever, and it was really interesting to see his smooth face predicting the future from 1967. I'm doing this from memory, but it went something like this:

People never thought about morality surrounding war, because before our generation people were worried about having food in their mouths. It's because we have food in our mouths that we can think about these things. In the future machines will be doing our work for us, it's already starting to happen, so we will have more and more time to think about these things. Eventually we'll only have to work 4 hours a day so the rest of the day will be filled with other things, but it won't be what you think. We won't be slagging off and going to the cinema. I don't think we'll know what we'll be doing, but hopefully it'll be good, and good will come of it.

That was probably my favorite part of the film. Overall it was fantastic, I'm really glad I ventured out to see it. Inspired by the hot mod broads in the film, I think I might go see if I can find some crazy tights on my lunchbreak.

Today I am EXHAUSTED. So glad that I get out of work at 3. I'm going to this benefit thing at 4 though, so I'll be running around no matter what. Think I might need a shot of espresso or some crank or something. OK just the espresso.

11 January 2007

Computer Love

God I love the Internet today, too bad I've been in meetings most of the day and haven't gotten much time to peruse things.

First up, a post from the venerable YarnHarlot about how the bank thought the sock yarn of the month club must be a scam so they froze Blue Moon's account and returned all their orders! Unbelievable...a bank just throwing away money like that!

Secondly, a NYT article about how the French are trying to bring back politeness. The whole thing is pretty interesting, all the signs and such that they are putting up reminding people to behave a certain way (how Academie Francaise of them, always heavy-handed from above). There are some pretty choice quotes here.

In the perfect French world, rules govern even the most mundane subjects: how to answer the telephone, how to greet a guest at the door, how to address a stranger, what to take to a dinner party, how to behave on the Métro.

“It’s like a sport, you have to train hard,” said Marie de Tilly, a rail-thin expert on manners, who teaches a two-hour course in Paris to women who pay $90 to attend. “But once you train and know the rules, it all comes naturally.”
Yes $90 training sessions and rules memorization = perfectly natural!

Some of the traditional politeness rules tickled me.

A married woman should fold one hand over the other at the table, the better to show off her jewels.

Wine is not an appropriate dinner gift. (It assumes that the host does not have good taste.)
As a habitual hostess and wine drinker, I roundly disagree with that idea.

Only a country bumpkin would say, “Bon appétit” at the start of a meal.

and my absolute favorite:If a woman’s wineglass needs filling, she should play with it until her male neighbor notices and fills it. OK I don't know about you guys, but I think that's classy as hell. I am totally going to try to this and see if it works. I doubt it will, but I would be very impressed with any man who would pick up on that.

Also a friend sent me this amazing hunk of Internet eye candy from Vice Magazine, a photo shoot of chic Swedish librarians. Mmm mm. Now that's a look that's worth cultivating! Sarah's a particular scorcher...

Also I love that I have so much in common with the lovely ladies of the library featured. There are former journalists, ladies who worked in "big publishing", francophiles, etc. And I love this little tidbit:

Working at the library I get guys hit on me quite a lot. Mostly they’ll say corny things like “You have beautiful eyes” or they’ll leave me little notes with their phone numbers. Once a guy returned a book and told me that there was something for me in the first chapter. When I opened it there was a long letter where he explained why he didn’t dare to come up and talk to me and that he wished that some day he would have the courage to do that. It was a really nice letter but he never showed up again. Oh if only!

And to round out a rather long entry, I took a few pictures of my new El stop in the pretty winter sunshine yesterday morning.

10 January 2007

Good Morning Philadelphia

Oh my little Blogger, how I've been neglecting thee. I've been busy and far, far more productive than I have been in months. Been nerding out over lots of things -- The Prisoner, HBO's Rome, Ulysses, schoolwork and space. Prompted by an interesting New Year's Eve conversation about various library school stuff and untraditional usage of Web 2.0-style tagging, I started a dream LJ and have been logging and tagging my dreams every night to see what kind of themes emerge (it's a friends-only journal so that I can be completely forthright with my dreams' content, all in the name of pseudo-scientific inquiry!)

I moved into my new house in Fishtown and I'm loving it. The picture above is from my bedroom window on the morning I left for Tucson (there are some of the best photos I've ever taken on my Flickr from that trip). Been reading a whole lot, actually enjoying the class readings thus far and doing my own pleasure reading, cooking up a storm in my awesome new kitchen (I even made my own seitan!!) and just generally having a good time of it.

How are all you other cosmonauts in Space College?