Wednesday, May 31, 2006

i wanna be wanna be wanna be jim morrison

Well, huh. Grades came out today. That was... fast. I think professors had to turn them in by yesterday. I wasn't expecting them till June (which, to be fair, is tomorrow). Anyway--I did better than I did last semester, on the whole. That's good. What's troubling is that I always seem to have one baffling, frustrating grade, and it happened again this semester. I thought I knocked it out of the park with this class, and apparantly I didn't. Like I did last semester, I emailed the prof, and hopefully a conversation will help ease the cloak-and-dagger mysteriousness surrounding this particular outcome.

But the rest of it? Yeah, ok. I'm not overwhelmed, but I'm not underwhelmed, either. Consider me whelmed, I suppose. Whelmed and off to a Cubs game. Er, a Reds game. I haven't seen them play since I got free (nosebleed) tickets for getting straight A's in middle school. (See that, o unnamed Law School Professor? My MIDDLE SCHOOL teachers loved me!)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

move at light speed

quick quick quickie post because I updated the sidebar to the blog, something I've been meaning to do since realizing that, well, it's the thing you do with blogs. Anyway. Good thing my rudimentary knowledge of html has held up lo these many years so that you can now see what I'm listening to, courtesy of (three cheers to having cross-platform support! I forgot to download the plugin on my new mac, hence the many-months-long interim between updates), as well as a bunch of links and stuff. If you have a blog and I don't have it listed, feel free to yell at me and I'll add it. Too bad I read my blogs through a blogreading program and don't actually visit the blog's website, so I'm not sure whether anyone will care about this or not. But, it's there. yay. Back to work.

Monday, May 29, 2006

this I'll admit, you are a wonder

Ripping my gaze away from my navel for just a moment (thanks, btw, all those of you who chimed in on my last post--expect a brief essay soon about my love-hate affair with the shuffle feature) to focus on this bit of world news.

I've had a fascination with Mt. Everest for several years now, ever since reading Jon Krakauer's excellent Into Thin Air about the '96 Everest expedition disaster. I will never attempt to climb that mountain myself--too great a chance of death or, at the very least, severe frostbite due to my circulation problem. But I'm utterly fascinated with the people who DO decide to climb it, and perhaps more chillingly (no pun intended, I swear), the often bizarre actions of the climbers in the Death Zone (above 26,000 ft/8,000 m). One of the most terrifying is this all-too-commonplace occurence of literally passing by a climber having problems on one's way to the summit, as happened to David Sharp, who ultimately died. I mean, I understand that you have to be a fairly driven person to even get that far in an Everest summit attempt, that it costs thousands upon thousands of dollars that you'd rather not waste--and, hey, it's not your fault Sharp decided to climb without adequate supplemental oxygen and ended up crippling himself. But wouldn't you want someone to help YOU if you happened to fail in your summit attempt, even if your failure was due in part to a poor decision you made? Conversely, isn't literally stepping over a dying person in order to reach the top of a freaking mountain an immeasurably callous act that you'll have to live with your whole life? I realize it's easy for me to critique these climbers' decisions here, scarcely above sea level on a nearly-ninety-degree day with more oxygen than I know what to do with, but with 40 people passing Sharp by, is it really too much to ask someone to stop and assist their fellow man? Hell, even the guy they interviewed for the article (a double-amputee, and certainly a remarkable person for achieving the summit given his disability) gave Sharp some oxygen, but ultimately left him there so he could summit as well. Maybe this is all part and parcel of the "commercialization" of Everest which many mountaineering experts criticize for allowing inexperienced climbers on a dangerous mountain--if Asian Trekking had done more with Sharp's $6k than simply give him what he asked for, if they'd vetted him to see if he really knew what he was doing on the mountain, maybe he'd still be alive, because he wouldn't've been allowed to climb with so little oxygen, or without a guide or Sherpa.

Furthermore, are Everest climbers so desensitized to the possibility of death, so ready to cut and run at the first sign of weakness that they left Lincoln Hall outside, just off the peak, for an entire night before the next day's climbers realized he was still alive? Maybe it's just the effects of hypoxia on the brain that makes people act irregularly (and downright cruelly), but these stories alone are enough to keep me home and off the mountain--that, and the fact that the bodies of those dead people are all still there. Creepy. You're literally on your own up there, regardless of whether you're in an expedition or not, because if you can't save yourself, no one can.

Don't get me started on skydiving, either. I think I'll stick to rollercoasters, instead.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

is it better to be better than to be anything?

A question:

Do you enjoy a mix CD purely for the novelty of the music, or do you find artistic value in the arrangement of the songs?

I adhere strongly to the latter viewpoint, as anyone who knows me might guess. I think it has something to do with reconciling my fierce passion for music with my inability to create recorded music of my own: I can't make it, but by gum, I can be creative in organizing it. To be sure, sometimes I choose songs with an eye to the audience--songs that a person or persons might not know and therefore can use to broaden their musical horizons. ExRecs, in particular, and the summer mixes as well, tend to follow this rubric. Moreover, the newer the song, the more interest I have in including it in the playlist to begin with because I'm personally not tired of it yet.

However, I also firmly believe that there's value in a farther-reaching playlist, one that spans your collection and includes beloved songs as well as cutting-edge tracks, and I think this is why the numbers became one of my favorite mixes ever--without the constraint of purely "new" music, I could simply pick songs that appealed to me, and the result was literally intoxicating. I might make copies of such a mix for people whom I think might be interested, but for the most part, the mix is for my personal benefit. Hell, I obviously own the music already--it's the artful arrangement of the music that brings its appeal.

Anyway, I made a mix this afternoon, which I oh-so-charmingly entitled Just for the Halibut. Yeah, yeah, I'm hilarious, I know. Regardless, it consists merely of songs I've loved recently that I wanted to revisit in a holistic setting, and as it resulted in an even 80 minutes worth of music, I feel it's somewhat fated: I can burn it to CD if I choose, or not, as the whimsy strikes. However, I offered a copy to the Boy this evening, and he declined, saying, "I own most of those songs already," and chalked it up to some sort of double-songed iPod distress. I was, and still am, hurt by this rejection, because clearly I already own the songs--it's the choosing of the songs, the collection and the order, that brings me joy. I can't imagine refusing a mix CD from anyone, even if I owned every song on it, because part of the delight of a mix is appreciating the effort that went into selecting particular artists' work and aligning them ever-so-perfectly in order.

Obviously, I think about this way too much. But have I thought myself into a corner? What do you think, readership? Do mix cds/playlists derive value only from their ability to introduce you to a new artist? Is one song on a mix cd really that revealing of an artist's catalog, anyway? And while I'm at it, what's your favorite new artist you've discovered in the last six months?

And as I would be remiss to talk around a track listing so much and not actually include it, here's Just for the Halibut (you want it, it's yours):
1. The Twilight Singers - I'm Ready
2. The New Pornographers - Sing Me Spanish Techno
3. William Shatner - Common People
4. The Polyphonic Spree - Light and Day
5. John Vanderslice - Keep the Dream Alive
6. Mike Doughty - I Hear the Bells
7. Belle & Sebastian - Sukie in the Graveyard
8. Ben Folds Five - Video Killed the Radio Star
9. Ok Go - Get Over It
10. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - All In a Day
11. The Long Winters - Cinnamon
12. Aimee Mann - She Really Wants You
13. Counting Crows - Einstein on the Beach (For an Eggman)
14. Joseph Arthur - Can't Exist
15. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Dani California
16. Broken Social Scene - Almost Crimes
17. Aqualung - Left Behind
18. The Verve - Lucky Man
19. Coldplay - Swallowed in the Sea
20. Augustana - Stars and Boulevards

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

in between all you wish for and all you've seen

Having a bike in Chicago? BEST THING EVER.

I had the awesomest bike ride this afternoon along the lake front. I'm terrible about stretching, so I know I'm going to be sore tomorrow, but it was worth it. I have a bit of a competitive streak, and being on a bike path with a bunch of other people (rather than just tooling around my suburban development back home) brings that out in me, so that I keep pushing myself to pass and stay ahead of other people. And DAMN, was it windy on the way back, so much so that I think I should've saved some of my energy on the way out... eh. I survived. And maybe I'll be more ready for the wind the next time I go out. I do worry that I've shot my brief dalliance with running in the foot, now that I can bike ride instead... I think once the novelty wears off a little I'll be ready to go back to jogging again.

In completely unrelated news, I have a haircut I like for the first time in a year and a half. It's not that big a deal if it gets screwed up, but there's a way that stylists can cut my hair that makes the ends do a little curl all by themselves when I blow it dry, and there's a way that they just... don't. And I can't be any more specific than that, since I'm not a stylist myself, so I just keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best. Anyway, it looks healthier and more finished, rather than just long and unkempt, so YAY. All those amongst my readership who were losing sleep over whether or not I prevailed in the battle against my split ends can now rest easy.

I mentioned the Twilight Singers concert, but have I mentioned the new Twilight Singers album, Powder Burns? It's FANTASTIC. Seriously. I was lukewarm about She Loves You--it didn't have the swirling production of Blackberry Belle and didn't speak to me in the same way, which could simply be because it was an album of covers. Powder Burns is completely a return to form, though, picking up where Blackberry Belle left off and moving forward. Early favorites are "I'm Ready" and "Forty Dollars," but I don't think there's a bad song on the whole album. I feel shameful for not yet owning any Afghan Whigs albums, but I have a hard time with artists' back catalogs (see also: Elvis Costello). If the Whigs' stuff is anything like the interesting, layered rock music of the Twilight Singers, though, I'm sure I wouldn't be disappointed.

Finally, the Boy and I rented Match Point yesterday--wow. It got mixed reviews, I seem to recall, but I really liked it, though it's kind of disturbing. I had absolutely no sympathy for the Jonathan Rhys-Meyers's lead character, but he played the part exceedingly well, and the plot wraps itself up with a surprising finesse that left me startled and pensive. I'm not sure Scarlett Johansson is worth all the hype she gets--the Boy commented that she seems to play the same character all the time, and I'd tend to agree--but she was well-cast here. Tonight we're embarking on the haute cinema masterpiece Fun with Dick and Jane; will keep you posted on the subtlety of the acting and nuanced dialogue, certainly.

Monday, May 22, 2006

can't trust that day

Well, well. Hello again, Chicago. It's nice to be back, though I do miss that cute, fuzzy kitty of mine. (I won't miss having cat hair all over my clothes, though. yeeeesh.) I'm presently doing my Course and Teaching Evaluations for the past semester and I think I've waited just a tad too long, because I honestly Don't Care Anymore. Any vitriol I might have harbored for these professors has long since withered--same goes for whatever effusive praise I might've heaped at one point or another. Oh, well. Gotta get 'em done if I want to avail myself of any student evaluations in choosing my classes next year.

In other news, Mom, the Boy and I went to two (!) concerts on Friday night: Dar Williams at Schuba's, then the Twilight Singers at Metro. Dar was really fantastic--I do love seeing her in an acoustic setting, mostly because you really never know what she's going to say between songs. I learned some things about her (and her, ah, past sexual proclivities?) that I never would have guessed. Oh, and apparantly "The Ocean" is about heroin abuse. Did not know that. Killed some time in a coffee shop before heading to Metro for the Twilight Singers, but should've killed MORE time, because doors didn't open till *12:15* am, which was an hour and 15 min after when they were supposed to open. Would've been ok, except that it was COLD outside (it's May! wtf?), and there was an obnoxiously loud drunk guy next to us in line. *sigh* Also, there were two (?!) opening acts, so Dulli + crew didn't take the stage till... 1:45? And they played till, like, 3:30... it was a truly awesome show (and my throat STILL hurts, two days later, possibly from screaming the words to "Forty Dollars" or "Decatur St."), though I kind of felt bad for dragging my poor mum out so late to a show that probably wasn't entirely her cup of tea. She was a good sport about it, though, and the Boy *loved* 'em, so YAY. And "Powder Burns"? Refers to Dulli's struggle with and ultimate victory over his cocaine addiction. Wow. Rock stars and their demons, eh?

So, I spent Saturday cleaning my apartment, which it sorely needed, and I went for a bike ride (!) yesterday along the lake. Windy, and still chilly (again, MAY--Mother Nature, get your act together), but GREAT to be on a bike again. And I suppose I should return to those CTEs, and the mountain of laundry that also awaits me, not to mention my externship duties... yeah.

Monday, Monday, indeed.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

then memories are films about ghosts

So, I'm home, which means I'm not sitting at my computer NEARLY as much as I have been, oh, the last three weeks or so. It's rather nice. I am, however, watching oodles more TV, including numerous season finales of shows I haven't watched all season--and some have the nerve to be in TWO PARTS, meaning I have to watch NEXT week, too, if I want to know how everything turns out (I'm looking at you, CSI: Miami). I also saw 16 Blocks last night, which I found to be remarkably well done. Lots of edge-of-your-seat action, but some really surprising plot twists, as well. It was at the cheap theater, so look for it at a Lackluster Video near you shortly.

Anyhow, I've been having some really, really weird dreams this week. And maybe it's because I'm sleeping later, or longer (but not really--I get to bed about 3, 3:30, and am up by 9:30 or 10 each day), or just that I'm surrounded by all these relics from my past that trigger recollections of people and experiences long gone, but I'm remembering them vividly, and they are strange. I suppose the only thing worse than talking about dreams at all is talking about them with a complete and utter lack of detail, but something about the disconnect between image and language keeps me from even attempting to describe them. Suffice to say that much as I love being home, I think I'll sleep more soundly once I'm back in Chicago.

Though my apartment never gets as dark as my room here does at night. Ahh, light pollution.

Friday, May 12, 2006

you would not write me again

It's done.

No more journal-writing competition. An insane number of students participated--or, at least, picked up the packets. When I turned mine in, I saw that a #215 (!) had already been turned in. This is out of, like, 260 students. Yeesh. The Boy reminded me that just because someone picked up a numbered packet doesn't mean that they actually participated... but it's finally hitting home that all those rumors about the class of '08 being a little, well, intense? Might be true. Soooo... yeah. Won't know till August, but here's hoping for good news.

And tonight? Sushi, of course. Tomorrow, going home. And what does THAT mean?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

turn out the lights and I'll glow

I am the product of my upbringing.

More specifically: when my family moved to our "new" home in December '93, we got a fridge with an icemaker and one of those magic in-door widgets that gave you all the tools you needed for a fresh glass of ice water (that would be ice and water, for those of you not so privileged). I lived with the Icemaker until I left for college, at which point the family Icemaker was replaced with a communal Icemaker in the dining hall. Post-college, I moved back home, which meant the family Icemaker and I could renew our acquaintance. My present apartment, however, has no such amenity. Why am I telling you all this?

Because I cannot properly use an ice tray to save my life.

Every freaking time: water all over the floor as I'm trying to open the freezer, or worse, water IN the freezer from jostling the tray too much when I'm trying to set it down. Don't even get me started on how challenging it is to fill *two* ice trays. Maybe I'm just an inherently nervous person and my hand starts shaking en route to the freezer, thereby ensuring that the inevitable spill occurs. Maybe I'm just out of practice. It just got me thinking, though, as I was swapping my wet socks for dry ones and mopping up my spill for the umpteenth time, that I'm more dependent on technology than I even realize, sometimes.

Anyhow. Back to your regularly-scheduled rant about the journal-writing competition (24 more hours)...

now she's taking me to court

Quickie update, for those of you who might have thought that the journal competition vanquished me once and for all--not so! Not so. I'm pluggin' away--have a decent draft, but the citations are all... well, they're not nonexistent, because I made sure to indicate where I got the cite from, but the Bluebook won't be pleased. Not at all. Guess what I'll be spending the rest of my day doing? And since I have to revisit the editing exercise again (nooooo), I suppose I ought to stock up on the headache meds en avance.

In other news, I met with my judge for the summer and got my first assignment--woo! Very exciting. Too bad I can't think about it at ALL until this dastardly competition is through. I've seen more fellow former-1Ls in the block between my apartment and Starbucks in the last two days than I think I've seen in my neighborhood all semester. It's kind of amusing. Of course, the only time I've left my apartment in the last two days is to go to Starbucks, so maybe it's not all that remarkable.

And finally, in all my free time I profess not to have, I made a jim-dandy mix cd for a trade with friend Cella of Turin Brakes-owning fame--I'm eager to listen to it all the way through to make sure my segues (not to be confused with Segways) are in order, but since music + anything school-related = distracted!kat, I suppose it will have to wait a bit longer to fine-tune. Alas.

Monday, May 08, 2006

sky blue, bells ringing

Weird. My iPod, on total, 4500-song random shuffle, has just played 3 of my favorite R.E.M. songs back to back. Not complaining, mind you (and I do have a crapload of R.E.M., so I suppose it's not THAT unusual a phenomenon).

Anyway, knee-deep in the competition-that-must-not-be-named: spent all yesterday muddling through the editing exercise, which started out as "fun! I like grammar!" and ended in "omg, my head hurts SO BADLY and I can't even tell IF there's a problem with this source, let alone how to FIX it." So, I'm going to go through it once more tomorrow evening and then call it completed. It's more important at the moment that I make serious inroads on my case note.

In other news, I've discovered the joy that is the bike/jog path along the lake, and I'm actually--*gasp*--jogging. It kind of sucks WHILE I'm doing it, but I feel [teen girl squad] SOOOO GOOD!!!11 [/teen girl squad] afterward that I think I'll see how long I can keep this up. The problem is that my favorite time to exercise is, like, 10am, which is fine now--but come full summer, it'll be 85 degrees, humid and AWFUL out there that late in the morning, so I dunno what I'll do. Hopefully I'll have my bike here by then, so that might be a way to switch it up...

Huh. Another R.E.M. song. My iPod has a crush, I think. Perhaps an Orange Crush, or a Crush with Eyeliner...? *snarf*

Saturday, May 06, 2006

but you left a trace on a data back-road

from an ancient edition of my little Time Magazine (or whatever it's called):

Patricia Wallace, a techno-psychologist who directs the Johns Hopkins Center for Kids Who Can't Read Good [I mean, Center for Talented Youth program], believes part of the allure of e-mail--for adults as well as teens--is similar to that of a slot machine. "You have intermittent, variable reinforcement," she explains. "You are not sure you are going to get a reward every time or how often you will, so you keep pulling that handle. Why else do people get up in the middle of the night to check their e-mail?"

...I suppose it's for the best that I've never developed a taste for casinos.

In other news, I can't get the Brokeback Mountain theme song out of my head. gaaaah. But those ubiquitous parodies? Even funnier once you've seen the original film...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

it's not today anymore

I'm done! done done done done done!

Actually, I was done as of 8:47 pm last night, but I immediately went and watched Capote--which, let me tell you, is not exactly the kind of feel-good film you want to see after finishing your exams. Oh, well. Rang in my one (!) day of freedom pre-journal competition with chocolate chip pancakes; picking up my competition packet in a little less than 4 hours, and it's on again. *sigh* But I'm definitely going to Bar Review tonight (woo! first/last one all semester!), so today is just going to be a Day Off. I'll start in on the competition stuffs tomorrow.

Oh, and it's gorgeous outside, again--and I'm actually going out there. Hold me back!

...on second thought, don't.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

don't let it slip away

Yeah, so, it's gorgeous outside. 70 degrees, says my weather widget. Sunny, say the light receptors in my pupils. Humid? dunno. Possibly, since it's rained the last couple days, and it's supposed to thunderstorm tomorrow...

...but I WOULDN'T know, because I HAVEN'T BEEN OUTSIDE ALL DAY. aaaaarrrgh.

I love my apartment, really, I do. But 525 square feet just doesn't cut it when you've scarcely left the darn place for the past two weeks.

This is why I'm planning on taking my last exam tomorrow, rather than wait till Thursday/last minute, because I don't think I can take another two days of this. I just hope I'm ready.

24 more hours. I can DO this. Then, just a measely ol' journal-writing competition, and I'm free (!) for the summer.

*resumes nose-to-grindstoning*