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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I've been doing research on my Form I-751. To explain the form's purpose in layman's terms: for the first two years, my Green Card has certain restrictions placed on it, such as the length of time I can be outside of the country. 90 days before the two-year anniversary of my permanent residence (November 3, 2006), I have to file an I-751 to have these restrictions removed. I don't have to file until August, but if there's one thing I've learnt about dealing with the BCIS, it's learn early, and learn a lot.

I found a handy page on the official Immigration website. My favorite part about the procedure is what happens if you file the I-751 late (or maybe even early):
If you fail to properly file the Form I-751 (Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence) within the 90-day period before your second anniversary as a conditional resident, your conditional resident status will automatically be terminated and the USCIS will order removal proceedings against you. You will receive a notice from the USCIS telling you that you have failed to remove the conditions, and you will also receive a Notice to Appear at a hearing. At the hearing you may review and rebut the evidence against you. You are responsible for proving that you complied with the requirements (the USCIS is not responsible for proving that you did not comply with the requirements).

Just reading that makes me break out in a sweat. I may have to work my trip to Australia next year around the filing, because despite the fact there's supposedly a "90-day period," I would like to file my I-751 exactly 90 days before November 3.

Of course, filing the form is a pain in the arse, complete with a $205 filing fee. We have to present new evidence that our relationship is genuine. In additions to bank statements, leases, loan papers, and birth certificates of children (whoops, forgot to get those), this includes:
Affidavits sworn to or affirmed by at least two people who have known both of you since your conditional residence was granted and have personal knowledge of your marriage and relationship. (Such persons may be required to testify before an immigration officer as to the information contained in the affidavit.) The original affidavit must be submitted and also contain the following information regarding the person making the affidavit: his or her full name and address; date and place of birth; relationship to you or your spouse, if any; and full information and complete details explaining how the person acquired his or her knowledge.

We asked Cliff to be one witness, but I guess we should have maybe two more. If anyone who knows us well is just itching to write a notarized essay swearing that Matt and I love each other, let me know, but we'll probably come knocking in about May or June.

My second priority has been firing up my application to West Chester. Now that my GPA hasn't been obliterated by sociology, I'm feeling quite enthusiastic. I guess I'll start by writing an e-mail to the head composition guy introducing myself and asking for advice.

Heh, speaking of sociology, I read recently that the literacy of college graduates is in a decline. You all know my views on the subject. No need to repost my rants.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Cello StandNow that Christmas is over, I have two whole days of nothing before New Year's Eve hell begins.

For a long time, I have coveted a cello stand that lets me leave my spike out. Yes, I really am that lazy about putting my cello away between practice sessions. So yesterday, I went down to Lowes, bought myself $30 worth of wood, screws, corner brackets, and hooks, and, in the comfort of my living room, created from scratch the remarkably sturdy stand you see at the right. I'm pretty proud of it, considering the planning process consisted of a scrappy sketch and some very half-hearted measurements.

I've also been getting plenty of sleep. I think my sleep bank is almost out of the red. This is a very good thing, as last week, I was actually starting to hallucinate with exhaustion. On Thursday evening, during preparations for a class performance of Jack and the Beanstalk, I saw a giant curved streak of lightning suddenly bounce out of the head of a parent volunteer and into the backstage gloom. I kept the vision to myself. Best not to tell the parents that sort of thing. Then, on Friday night as Matt and I were driving home from Walmart in the rain, I saw an inpossibly large, coffin-shaped building radiating light on top of a hill. I blinked, and only the hill was real.

Thank goodness Matt drops me off at work every day. I don't think I was fit to drive last week.

Maybe in the first week of January when I'm on holidays, I'll try blogging about all the hallucinations I've ever had (for various, ahem, reasons). Hallucinations are awesome, especially when you are very aware they are hallucinations.

(Thus says the girl who is not mentally ill. Yet.)

I'm not exactly sure what's going on in Australia, aside from the knowledge that everyone is in hospital. Truth be told, I'm a little afraid to answer the phone at the moment. I'm terrified of hearing that my dad has passed away. I don't think he's quite on his deathbed yet, but he's apparently lost a painful amount of weight, and I'm desperately trying not to imagine what he must look like. I'm running away emotionally. Maybe if I don't hear anything, everything will be all right, right? It's all good, right?

Mum I'm not so worried about. She'll be fine.

Speaking of depression, last week's Smart Talk focused on the decision handed down by the Judge Jones in the Intelligent Design in Dover case. God, I hate people. Virtually every caller disagreed with the judge's decision - even a biology teacher who started ranting about the difference between macroevolution and microevolution proclaimed that ID had a place in his classroom. It was all I could do to keep from slitting my wrists in studio control.

Kudos to Judge Jones, though, officially my favorite church-going Bush-appointed Republican judge ever.

In the last few days, I've watched Le Roi de Coeur, a gorgeously funny movie recommended by Matt's parents, and I read Glengarry Glen Ross and half of Shopgirl while I was at Larry's house for Christmas dinner. I need to read the second half of Shopgirl. I feel like I've been left hanging.

Trivia: Geneviève Bujold, whom I quite fell in love with in Le Roi de Coeur, was first pick to play Captain Janeway.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Hey, I got a B on that Sociology course I rightfully should have failed, given my late and/or missing assignments. Hahahahaha! HACC strikes again.

Now I need to clean the house. I'll write more later.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Almost Christmas
Happy that you're here
Merry Almost Christmas
Happy Almost New Year
Sure it's cold but we've hot chocolate
And a fire burning away
By the fire see the clock lit
Now it's almost Christmas day
Merry Almost Christmas
Now that we are here
Merry Almost Christmas
Happy Almost New Year

  • That’s when the teacher interjected, just a few lines before the verse that announces the arrival of “a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.”
    “The teacher stopped reading and told us no one comes down the chimney,” Jamey said, curling into a ball on the couch, bracing her chin on her knees, her voice shrinking away like melting ice cream. “She said our parents buy the presents, not Santa.”

...Happy Almost New Year

Thursday, December 22, 2005

From what I can gather, the Mental Health Review Tribunal of New South Wales is holding a hearing tomorrow for Mum. I flipped out a little when I first heard, but then I did a bit of reading, and it's probably just a routine thing. I'm guessing it's because she was involuntarily committed. Trevor says she had "quite a breakdown," which probably means she was arrested at some point. She's back on the higher dosage of Valpro and Lithium.

I can't help feeling bad for not being there. If I had been there, it wouldn't have gotten this far. My mother might not have seen eye to eye very often, but I was always very good at convincing her to come quietly to the hospital before she cracked (even if it was a matter of tricking her into thinking we were going somewhere else). She definitely would have been admitted by last week.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

In a judicious denial last night, I wrote, "An e-mail from Dad states that everything is all right down south and that Mum is 'fine.' I'm leaving it at that until after New Year's Eve."

Why the fuck do I jinx my family by saying things like this?

Trevor e-mailed while I was sleeping. Mum is back in the psych ward. Looks like she'll be there for Christmas. Over the past few months, her local family doctor, whom I would personally enjoy throttling if I ever have the opportunity, reduced her medication from 1500mg to 200mg. Oh my fucking god. What the fuck was he thinking? Yeah, she's been unable to reduce her medication without being hospitalized for mania despite frequent attempts in the last 18 fucking years, but you know, maybe this time it will work! Fucking idiot. Or, as Trevor so succinctly put it, "Bugger the GP."

Trevor is definitely growing on me.

To make Christmas even more festive for the Shong household this year, Dad is back in hospital with a blood infection. Trevor says he's very skinny and won't stop passing blood.

I'm upset that both my parents are so unwell, but at least they are in the safest place possible. Especially Mum. Knowing that she was having a breakdown and that the only people around her were a schizophrenic who has never committed her before, an invalid dying of cancer, and a 93-year-old grandfather was worrying. I'm glad she was looked after, and Dad too. And, horrible as it is that they will spend their Yuletide in wards, I'm glad Trevor might get a little peace this Christmas.

God rest ye merry, Gentlemen. Let nothing you dismay.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Yeah, I know, I suck. I haven't written a blog entry in ages. Truth is, I've been too drained to want to blog. Clark and Melissa weren't kidding (not that I thought they were) - December is a killer of a month at Gamut. In the past week, we've done nine performances of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and an early morning performance of Hamlet. We would have performed 'Twas ten times, but we woke early and drove all the way up to Scranton on Friday only to discover that school had been cancelled due to the practically non-existent snow. Perhaps the ultimate tribute to the closeness and easygoing nature of the core company is the fact that four of us can sit, exhausted, in a tightly packed van for six hours in uninspiring surroundings on a futile mission while remaining completely amicable.

We stopped in Wilkes-Barre on the way home and ate lunch near Wachovia Stadium where Nine Inch Nails played a few weeks ago. Who knew that I would end up spending time in Wilkes-Barre twice this year?

I just finished reading What's My Motivation? by Michael Simkins. It's a hilarious light read, and makes me want to see Ian Holm's King Lear (already recommended to me by Sean) and Topsy Turvy (since recommended to me by Clark). Bah, movies? I haven't even read half the books we received for our wedding. Too many books to read. Not enough time.

However, since I've generally been too tired to do anything interactive this week, I have done more than my usual share of slumping comatose before flickering screens. Matt and I saw King Kong and loved it. I caught myself tearing up towards the end before I realized I was crying over a giant CG gorilla and dried up. The action sequences, however, are truly amazing. The brontosaurus stampede? Good lord. There must have been at least five minutes of brontosauri tumbling down and squashing people. Hooray for ragdoll physics! It was like the flash game of GW Bush freefalling over circles, only with giant herbivorous dinosaurs, hapless humans, three dimensions, realistic textures, and sharp pointy rocks. But by far the best sequence was Kong's fight with three T-rexes. After sitting dutifully tensed for what must have been at least half an hour of gasp-every-five-seconds combat, I started laughing uncontrollably. By the jaw-dropping (heh) finale, I was almost hysterical. It was beautiful. I felt like a cigarette afterwards.

Matt and I also watched The 40-Year-Old Virgin, the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and some episodes of Arrested Development and Strangers with Candy while we were at Meathead and Anita's house on Saturday night and Sunday morning. I may as well declare it publicly: if I weren't happily married, I would happily have sex with Steve Carell. Hey, wow, his IMDB profile says he's signed on to play Maxwell Smart next year.

Speaking of things I didn't know about actors, I forgot to mention that I recently discovered that Mariska Hargitay is Jayne Mansfield's daughter. Apparently this is common knowledge, but I somehow missed it. More than this, Mariska was in the back seat of the car asleep when her mother was killed. Hooray for useless knowledge about Law and Order actors.

My dream job would be blogging about Law and Order. For a buttload of money. Come on, TNT, you know you want to. Or just hire me as a consultant, even. I have lots of great ideas. For example, if you want a riveting Law and Order marathon, may I suggest playing, back-to-back, all the episodes in which major cast members enter and exit. Start with the very first episode, then play Phil's last show, Lennie's first show, Paul Robinette's last show, Ben Stone's last show, Jack McCoy's first show, Mike Logan's last show ... you get the picture. It would be AWESOME. I am a GENIUS.

I bought me a cheap violin on eBay.

An e-mail from Dad states that everything is all right down south and that Mum is "fine." I'm leaving it at that until after New Year's Eve.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

For the latest in trivial news, read this blog post.

My class performed brilliantly on Saturday. I was a little worried after the dress rehearsal, but everyone pulled together wonderfully, and it looks as though a lot of the students are re-enrolling next semester thanks to some satisfied parents. I'm thrilled! They're a great class, and a couple of them have oodles of talent, so I'd love to see them come back.

The GIANT MONSTER CHICKEN at the Pennsylvania State Museum, which I blogged about less than a week ago, is gone. I'm heartbroken and desperate to see it again. I even had a dream in which I found it in a storage room lying on its side, its enormous legs sticking out.

In an impulsive fit of frustration, I set to work trying to remove a buzz which has developed in my cello. After virtually taking the entire instrument apart, I traced it to the metal fingerboard; I transplanted the super-cheap fingerboard from my super-cheap cello, and the buzz has disappeared. Good thing fingerboards aren't very expensive. I could pick one up for about $15 ... or I could splurge and think about getting a very pretty one like this for myself for Christmas.

Speaking of eBay, I'm selling my electric violins. So far, nobody has bid on the cool one, and the uncool one has fetched more than I paid for it. Huh.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I have nothing new to report, but I want to thank everyone for the hugs and love and support. I don't know what's going on in Australia right now, and I don't know where I am emotionally. Everything is being put off. Today I have three performances of Twas the Night Before Christmas, and my Theatre Basics class is giving their final performance to their parents in between. Tomorrow I'm performing Little Red Riding Hood around lunchtime at a private birthday party function at the theatre. After that, I'll have at least 36 hours to think, feel, break down again, whatever.

Some of the things my mother said to me on the phone keep crossing my mind in a disembodied kind of way. You can always tell when my mother is ready to be committed - she is overwhelmed with guilt, and she preaches that money isn't important. When she's sane, she usually can't stop talking about the supreme importance of money and how guilty everyone else should be feeling.

Towards the end of the conversation, Mum kept remembering the cat I owned when I was twelve. Cratty was run over one night, and a passing pizza delivery man brought her to our door while I was watching It on the television. She was barely alive, wheezing and coughing up blood. I cried and begged Mum to take her to the vet, but she refused, knowing that Cratty would not survive, and not wanting to pay the fee to have her put down. So she packed me off to bed and drowned Cratty with her bare hands in the laundry tub.

It shook her up much more than she thought it would. And now, with her mind in pieces, she has latched onto the event as one more reason to feel guilty. She begged me for forgiveness, and I bewilderedly told her that she had it, but she wouldn't stop weeping.

In the midst of everything, I forgot to post my final sociology assignment. So it looks like I'll be getting zero for that, thanks to the lateness policy. Terrific. I'll be lucky if I get a C for the course.
  • Oh shit. The music industry is to extend its copyright war by taking legal action against websites offering unlicensed song scores.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Urrrrgggghhh my nose is so stuffed up that I can't sleep. I've left my nasal spray at work, there's too much snow outside to drive to the pharmacy, and I can't sleep properly if I take anything containing pseudoephedrine.


I don't know if I'm getting sick or suffering from allergies, or if my nose is just malfunctioning after the earlier waterworks.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Jesus Christ.

I just called my mum. She is fucking bananas.

Jesus Christ.

I can't stop crying. She is screaming at me to come home. I spoke to Trevor. He confirms that she is completely off the deep end. She is screaming that Dad is about to die. He isn't. It's all her. Jesus Christ. Jesus.
So, I'm getting drunk.

My mum is apparently LOSING HER SHIT. She didn't hear from me for TWO WHOLE DAYS and she got John's wife Precy to leave me multiple voicemail messages, and her sister and brother-in-law that I don't even know to leave a message too.

She cried at them, I hear. She declared, "Her dad is dying!"

I call. Nobody answers. I try again. There's something wrong with the phone. Finally, Dad answers. He is not dying (well, not right away). I hear that, and relax, and start crying, because, of course, I bottle up my goddamn feelings in order to function and don't feel a goddamn thing until I relax. Mum is going crazy. It's summer. Apparently, on Epilem, she goes nuts in the summer instead of the spring.

That follows. She was last committed in December 2002, a week before Matt arrived in Australia.

So I drink a little bit to make the crying go away, and since I havebn;t eaten in a while, I'm drunk.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

In addition to making me continually wrong, irritable, liable to forget singing lessons, and slow, PMS makes me think of the darndest things. For example, today during a conversation with Robert, I related to him at great length a fluffy news story I saw last Easter which showed footage of baby chickens eating Peeps. Having been awake for well over 24 hours at the time (ahh, those crazy days at WHP), and being possessed with an unexplainable chicken fetish, the story scarred me for life.

And so, I talk about it for no apparent reason to people every now and then. But, hey ...

There is a giant peep at the Pennsylvania State Museum. Of course, they don't have a picture of it on the website, because otherwise nobody would visit. It's a fucking monster. It's the goddamn Cthulhu of peeps. Thank god my experimental days are behind me, because if I'd seen it for the first time while tripping my balls off, I would have keeled over and died on the spot.

Seriously, the thing is the size of four elephants. Its beady little eye must be as big as a beach ball.

Look at this! We bought it the other day just because it's called Peepee.

Another thing that crosses my mind when I have PMS, aside from shooting myself in the head for being wrong all the fucking time, is ripping people's lungs out. For example, there is a fellow I know - let's call him Turd - who drives me to distraction even when I don't have PMS. The worst thing about Turd is his creepy little habit of making involuntary revolting sounds with his mouth and vocal cords. When he eats, it sounds like tentacle rape in the next room. Before he speaks, soft incoherent murmurs escape his mouth. And even when he's sitting in utter silence, for some reason, he makes weird tiny moaning noises every few minutes.

The other night, I was sitting near him, surrounded by an uncomfortable silence broken only by these bizarre little moans.



"Hhhhm. Mmm."

And all I could think about was reaching over and ripping out one of his fucking lungs.

SHHHHLLLLRROOOOOOOPP! Yeah, let's see you make moaning noises without one of your lungs.

I started writing this blog on Saturday, so some of these news stories might be a bit old.
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: HOME AT LAST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!TODAY
Date: Wed, 07 Dec 2005 15:06:35 +1100
From: Cindy Shong


IN THE MEANTIME I WILL HANG-IN THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Friday, December 02, 2005

A while ago, I saw a band from Boston called Fluttr Effect, and thought they were wonderful, not least because they are all Berklee grads, and the band features an electric cello and a MIDI marimba. From their mailing list:
We are just a couple of days away and very excited about it. Our Harrisburg show is the second night of this December tour and we really hope you'll come out, share the night with us and send us off to a good start.

DRAGONFLY - 234 N. SEcond St

We are sharing the stage with BoBim.
The show is 21+, $7

I'm considering going, if I'm not too tired and/or broke.

I've been getting into the Christmas spirit by feeling revoltingly materialistic. Following the lead of millions of children worldwide, here is a list of stuff I covet which have been sitting in my bookmarks for anywhere between two years and a week. Call it a Christmas window shopping list:

And now, here is a picture of Dick Cheney becoming a lizard:

I am staying up late, watching Oprah on Letterman.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Firefox users who, like Ryan in the comments below, are unable to scroll or arrow through this page need to DOWNLOAD THE NEW FIREFOX! Yes, Firefox 1.5 was released today, and lo and behold, those geniuses have fixed the scrolling problem with Mozilla and the IE position:fixed hack. How timely!

Equally awesome is the ability to change the order of tabs. Yay!

They also finally procured, and have various products which I rather covet.

  • This fascinating, if brief, article brings news which excites and terrifies me. Ice core records have discovered that glacialization is possibly not just about to begin, as periods between glacialization can last as long as 30,000 years. Anything which helps us to understand ice ages is awesome. However, they have also discovered that:

    Today's level of 380 parts per million of carbon dioxide is 27% above its previous peaks of about 300 ppm, according to the team led by Thomas Stocker of the University of Bern in Switzerland.

    That's information gathered from an analysis of the atmosphere from the last 650,000 years. Shit. Exit mundi. Unless, of course, the Republicans are right, and human-caused global warming is a myth. Hahahaha! Ha! Huuuh.

  • Jesus Dress-up! Hours of sacriligious fun!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Whoosh! Website updated for the most part. If things aren't scaling correctly or something looks off on your screen, feel free to let me know, but it's most likely because you have some sort of archaic screen resolution (800x600 ain't gonna cut it), or you're using the wrong browser.

I honestly don't know which is the correct browser -- sometimes I actually think this design looks better in IE, believe it or not.

Too much CSS. Too many howls of frustration for a Sunday night. My tailbone hurts from slouching on the couch with my notebook in my lap.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Good grief! It has been over two weeks since I threw a one-liner at some random bint at a party, and still she and her cohorts continue to flail about messily in an attempt to manufacture an Internet drama, both here and on MySpace. Do people in Dover really lead such awful, insecure lives that, with a single blog entry, I can leave them confused and shaking with puppylike rage?

*sigh* I was filled with such joyous hope after Dover ousted their horrible, horrible school board. Then again, perhaps in Dover there is compelling and obvious evidence against both Intelligent Design and Evolution.

Speaking of uneventful lives, Matt and I just made the most awesome batch of peanut butter cookies from ingredients we had lying around the kitchen, enabling us to bum around for the entire day without once stepping outside. Following the good advice (it worked last year) of my medical advisor, I'm consuming vast amounts of fat to stave off the 'flu, which I am newly terrified of, having just watched, back-to-back, an American Experience and a Secrets of the Dead about the pandemic of 1918. Apparently it's OH SHIT THE 'FLU! day on WiTF.

Since the original broadcast of this [episode of Secrets of the Dead], Taubenberger’s team has successfully created a genetic sequencing of the 1918 virus, resurrected the virus itself to study its effects on lung tissue and this fall announced a striking similarity between the 1918 virus and today’s H5N1 avian flu virus. Their findings indicate that the 1918 virus originated as a bird flu, confirming the legitimacy of concerns about avian flu. The updated episode includes new material and interviews with Taubenberger that reflect these new findings.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I finally finished transcribing Non-Entity, the "bonus track" Trent Reznor played at MTV's ReAct benefit concert for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

At the left is a picture Matt took for the Adbusters competition (see last blog entry). I look like a dill, and the picture conclusively proves that I am not afraid to show a little thigh when tempted with free shoes. Ah, well; maybe in a month's time, I'll be laughing even more when I slip on my $95 pair of sweatshop-free, recycled tire sneakers.

I spent the afternoon with Matt and Erin. We ate at the Garden, officially my favorite restaurant in Harrisburg, and bummed around Barnes & Noble for a while. I bought a couple of monologue books so that I'll have something to give Emily to learn for upcoming auditions.
Last night, Matt and I watched most of Some Kind of Monster, the Metallica documentary , on MTV. It was hilarious - the closest thing I've ever seen to a real Spinal Tap. Between the band trying to make deep and meaningful pop psychology observations in therapy, complaining about their "difficult" lives in their million-dollar mansions filled with expensive art ("Like, how did the artist know when to stop putting those gold scratches there in the corner? How did he know that it didn't need ten more strokes? Yeah, I think our music is like that too."), both Lars and Hetfield being completely incapable of talking about anything but themselves, Lars' unbelievably annoying voice and mannerisms, and the truly atrocious music and lyrics on Saint Anger, Matt and I were giggling like schoolgirls on mescalin (to borrow a turn of phrase from Anthony). I almost want to buy the DVD. It's inspiring.

Voila! It's my name in Chinese, as etched on a traditional Chinese seal my mother bought for me in (oddly enough) China. Speaking of my mother, I called her last night. She's home from Brisbane with my step-grandfather in tow, who is now ninety-three years old. Dad is in hospital again and will be undergoing surgery on Tuesday - he has been bleeding unstoppably, and the doctors don't know what else to do. Mum had an enormous fight with my father in Brisbane while she was up there. She broke down and started crying hysterically while relating that John allegedly stole an expensive and sentimentally valuable bottle of brandy from my grandfather while they were all having dinner together, upsetting everyone terribly. Dear God. She's also been fighting with the city council, who are threatening to tear down all the unapproved additions she's made to her house and forbid anyone from living in the unregistered basement apartment where I made my home for a year, and where a paying tenant is now residing.

My mother is frighteningly like Lars and James Hetfield in that she is equally unable to discuss other people, except insofar as they affect her. I tried to ask her about Mihali, but after only a very brief summary, she declared, "But that's beside the point!" and continued relating the tale of her own adventures. This happened several times throughout the conversation.

She seems to be thriving, though, and as long as she's happy, I'm happy for her.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

This Thanksgiving, I give thanks for chickens. There's a particularly endearing department store commercial in rotation at the moment which features three or four red chickens running at full tilt towards the camera. It makes me want to keep a chicken so bad, my cloaca aches.

Some other reasons to be thankful:
Matt - two years of marriage, and not a serious fight yet.
Tripoli - how a cat so sweet managed to survive on the streets of Harrisburg will forever be a mystery.
Jason - sometimes the borglink presents its problems, but I wouldn't do without it for the world.
Lucy - often, I find myself talking about you to bored people who have no idea who you are, because I miss you so badly.
My parents - not dead yet!
My job - my dayjob is acting. Let me repeat that for effect: my dayjob is acting.
My awesome, awesome boots that I have raved about on here before. They are the bomb.

Henry IV has been struck, new projects are looming, and I need a holiday. Unfortunately, all I have are a few days over Thanksgiving, though that's definitely better than nothing. I'm redesigning my website, but I already don't like the new design and I'll probably change it again a couple of months after I get it implemented. It contains COLOR!! *gasp*

We're heading down to Matt's grandmother's house today for Thanksgiving dinner. Apparently the turkey is already cooked and ready to eat. It's turkey time! Gobble gobble!

Matt and I can't think of turkey without thinking of tofurkey and turducken. Tofurkey is, obviously, turkey for vegans that is actually made of tofu. Turducken, for those non-Americans who aren't aware is a chicken, stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey. It is apparently a Thanksgiving treat, although I have yet to try it.

Jesus, look at this fucking thing. Only in America.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

I've been sick as a dog for a couple of days. Yesterday I did the show while high as a kite on generic DayQuil, and I still felt like I was going to keel over (I forgot a cue for the first time in the run, but the line was thankfully unimportant enough that the scene kept going without it).

It's getting better, though.

I've been on something of a Weebl and Bob bender since discovering the toys. Of course, I love gothic very much. Other favorites from this year include piepod, and date.

Last night I had trouble sleeping because I kept laughing at "Apple Piepod."

I realize I haven't put many pictures on here lately. It's because the camera is in the glovebox of my car, and I keep forgetting to take it out.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Oh my good golly god! Weebl and Bob toys!!! Oh, god, I would give my right leg just for the Kenya ones. Well, maybe not my right leg. Maybe, like, twenty-five pounds. At Christmas. They can sit next to my plush Cthulhu.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Blarg. I have a horrifically sore throat. It's a post-nasal drip. Thank goodness I got through yesterday morning's performance, but there are four more shows to come, not to mention two more performances of Aesop's Fables, Too! this week. Blaaarg.
  • Spiral Path Farm is officially the coolest thing ever. I wish I'd known about it earlier. I got the information from a friend of mine at WITF, Ben, who's also been telling me about a neat storytellers guild in the area. The only problem is that we're moving away next year, and therefore won't be able to take a full season's supply of vegetables. I'm going to contact them next season, though, and see if something can be worked out.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Woah. Here's to doing a show somewhat hungover and with less than six hours' sleep. Curtain up in 50 minutes!

Wherefore this sorry state? Last night after Henry IV, Cliff, Meathead, Anita, Matt and I hit the, uh, Central PA party scene. First, we had some raucous fun with the actors at the newly opened Cameron Street Cafe. Someone put Meatloaf's "I Would Do Anything for Love" on the jukebox; I don't think I had ever heard the complete twelve-minute track before.

Afterwards, we drove down to Emigsville to catch the dregs of Tony's party.


By the time we arrived at Tony's house, it was nearly two in the morning. The day before, I had remarked to Matt that I wanted to be home by two, but if you're going to party, you may as well go the whole hog, so I quickly started to polish off a bottle of Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur.

About a half-hour after we arrived, while I was playing beer pong with Scott, Tony stumbled downstairs with a couple of drunk and highly sexed women in tow. One of them, wearing a pink shirt, drunkenly slurred, "I just explored every nook and cranny of Tony's bedroom!"

"Oh, really?" I replied. "Every nook and cranny?"

"Yep!" she grinned. "I lost my sock, too!" She raised the leg of her pants triumphantly to show me her bare foot. "I have no idea where my sock is!"

This struck me as hilarious. A few minutes later, as she gyrated and frantically jiggled her buttocks to the sound of top-40 hip hop in Tony's loungeroom, the Godiva began to settle into my bloodstream, so I hollered, "Hey, that's the girl that left her sock in Tony's cranny!"

Pink Shirt was evidently not impressed. She quickly sat next to me, and shouted in my ear, "Hey, you know, I'm married, and my husband was in the room the whole time. So, it's not like that, OK? You don't understand, OK? You don't understand because you haven't been here. I've been here from the beginning. You don't get it." I couldn't stop laughing.

After a drunken game of chess with Brian (whose arse I totally kicked, muahahahaha!), I wandered into the kitchen and found her telling a story about some "cunts" who earlier in the evening had drunk from her personal supply of liquor. "Listen," she insisted, clearly outraged, "I'm a grown woman. You know, I have three kids; I know what it's like to buy my own liquor."

Without even thinking, I shot back, "What, because your kids won't buy it for you?" before bursting into further peals of laughter. Well, come on! What the fuck was I supposed to say!?

Poor Pink Shirt. She stormed out of the conversation in a huff, then marched back through the room with her
entourage of skanks, declaring, "I've been insulted! My kids have been insulted!" On the way out the door, she announced to at least three other people, including Anita, "If you want to come to a party without drama, come with me!"

Jamie, ever the diplomat, apparently tried explaining to Pink Shirt that I was from Australia, a land of vastly different customs, and that I had not yet availed myself of American party etiquette. But it was useless. Within forty minutes of arriving at the party, I had cleared it completely of skanks. Poor Tony did not engage in a ménage à trois with a married woman and her husband. No more gyrating occurred in the living room (not counting Scott's drunken crawling about on the floor). No more lesbian action took place on Tony's bed. There was no more grabbing of stuffed tight-denim-clad butts.

Just call me the Poontang Exterminator.

With no jiggling posteriors or drama to distract me, I played another game of drunken chess with Meathead, who also buckled under the heavyweight genius of my intoxicated tactics. Both he and Brian blame their losses on Tony's Lord of the Rings board and its non-conventional pieces, but the truth is that I am the Grandmaster World Drunken Chess Champion. I just haven't let on until now.

Then Meathead's stomach rebelled violently against two-thirds of a bottle of Captain Morgan. Hey, a decent yak (or five) is good for you now and then.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

<---- From the Wilkes-Barre NIN concert the other night. Photo courtesy of Athenia Animus.

Also, bwahahahahaha!

Clark showed me just now. I hadn't heard of it before. Amazinly enough, they have Dead Inside the Chrysalis CDs for sale!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Things I currently enjoy:
  • Mucking around on the Internet between scenes

  • Thinking about King Lear next year

  • My life fades. The vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos. Ruined dreams. This wasted land. But most of all, I remember The Road Warrior. The man we called "Max". To understand who he was, you have to go back to another time. When the world was powered by the black fuel. And the desert sprouted great cities of pipe and steel. Gone now, swept away. For reasons long forgotten, two mighty warrior tribes went to war and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel, they were nothing. They built a house of straw. The thundering machines sputtered and stopped. Their leaders talked and talked and talked. But nothing could stem the avalanche. Their world crumbled. The cities exploded. A whirlwind of looting, a firestorm of fear. Men began to feed on men. On the roads it was a white line nightmare. Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice. And in this maelstrom of decay, ordinary men were battered and smashed. Men like Max. The warrior Max. In the roar of an engine, he lost everything. And became a shell of a man, a burnt out, desolate man, a man haunted by the demons of his past, a man who wandered out into the wasteland. And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to live again...

  • Captains and the Kings. It's terribly trashy, but a neat page-turner, and I don't need my brain engaged any more than it is right now.

  • Scoring 49/50 this morning on an online sociology exam I didn't study for in the slightest

  • Reading the posts of other students who argue that women shouldn't be on the front lines because "men are more on the “nature” side of things; they are the hunters and providers. Women are on the “nurture” side of things; they have the mothering characteristics." Nature? Nurture? Torture.

I do wish that I could connect emotionally to the play a little better tonight. I feel like I'm low on energy, so I have been pushing myself in the hope of finding my stride - only to be told backstage that I'm somehow louder, angrier, and more energetic than usual. I hate when my performance indicator malfunctions.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

If you look at Jason's blog, you'll see that everything is OK with him now (aside from extreme soreness and probably a very large headache). I spoke to him this morning, and we cheered each other up by making funny for half an hour. He sounds a shitload better than he sounded in his voicemail message on Sunday.

The madness was likely a result of his new HIV drugs reacting to Xanax. This is better than anything I dreaded, so I'm incredibly relieved. God, the possibilities were horrible.

Finally, there is a reason to congratulate myself for beginning to watch Alias (starring Miss Mannish Features USA) a couple of weeks ago. At the height of Jason's episode, he had delusions of being Jack Bristow. This delights me no end. Hey, it's way more original than Jesus. If he had been Jesus, I would have flipped out.

As it was, I flipped out pretty nicely anyway. But that's all right. Flipping out = love. And Jason knows that.

I'm totally buying Jason for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I hadn't checked my voicemail messages in a couple of days, because things have been so busy, and usually the phone calls aren't important.

But I checked them this morning, and found this from over the weekend:
Hey girl, it's Lulu... I just thought I'd call you and talk to you because we're having some problems at home with Jason, who, sadly, seems to have lost his mind... So he has been committed - on Friday - and, yep, it's all gone to hell in a really fast car... Anyway, give me a call if you have a chance. And if you feel like talking about it, that would be great, because I know I do. I love you.
And then, from Sunday, a frighteningly sedated-sounding Jason:
Hey Mel. It's Jase. Just ringing up to let you know I've had the worst couple of days ever. Anyway, just thought you might like to know. Hopefully I'll hear from you soon. OK, bye, hon.

I'm trying to call Lucy, but it's half past one in the morning over there. I left a rambling voicemail message.


Well, I guess that explains why I was so completely fucked up last week. Fucking borg.

The ridiculous irony here is that Jason had a friend committed just a few months ago. I don't know if Jason's current condition has anything to do with the HIV. I don't know anything. I wish I had thought to check my voicemail messages sooner, though I'm not entirely sure what I would have accomplished had I known this four days ago. Maybe I would have cried over this instead of the laundry.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Gah, there is too much to say, and too much going on. It's been a fucking tough week. I've been feeling unreasonably down and stupid, culminating in me crying over the fucking laundry before the Henry IV run on Saturday night. When you're about to play an angry young man on stage, you wouldn't think that crying over the fucking laundry would make for great character preparation, but apparently I did an all right job on stage. Use that womanly hysterical angst, use it.

Matt just got Tripoli high as a kite via a fur-puff covered in catnip, and in a drug-fuelled frenzy, she skewered the tip of my index finger with a claw. The first joint has swelled at least 50% and has become stiff and firm. Hooph. Sexual innuendo in an allergic reaction.

The shows have been going well. That is to say, I haven't forgotten any of my lines or fallen over on stage, and I've managed not to run myself through with a sword yet. This weekend, there's a good possibility that Cliff, Meathead, and Anita might be showing up, and Mr. Vince is coming on Friday.

Last Friday, I was delighted that Daphne, Sheryl, and Mick made it from Little Rock, Washington DC, and Ireland respectively. I only wish we all had more time between NIN shows and Shakespearean productions to hang out with each other and just chill out.

Out-of-town friends coming to see me perform is my anti-drug.

On Saturday night, owing to Henry IV, I didn't get to meet Trent Reznor, unlike half the goddamn Eastern Seaboard, apparently. However, I did get to attend the Wilkes-Barre show on Sunday evening, at which a curtain malfunctioned, causing Trent to menacingly ripple his deltoids, throw his guitar around the stage in a rage, and refer bitterly to Spinal Tap. More thrilling even that this was the opportunity to meet two online friends for the first time, the delectable Jaimie and the incomparable Carol. Of course, as is almost always the case with longtime e-friends, they were even better in person than online. Not to mention gorgeous. I hope someone will have some photos to share soon.

In unrelated news, my friend Julia Smith, who designed the costumes for my productions of Rhinoceros and Amadeus, has launched her lingerie website. See right. Mmm.

On November 29, I have to stay by the phone, as I have been chosen as a lifeline for Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. Pressure! I still would love to know what's stopping lifelines from looking up answers on Google while on the phone. I'm pretty sure I can Google the answer to anything asked on that show in under thirty seconds.

  • Scientists have studied how to tip a cow. Sometimes I wish I were a scientist and could work on projects like this all day. Clark says I need to tip a cow, and it came up in a conversation with Jaimie over the weekend. Synchronicity.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Bill Blando gave me a nice review in yesterday's Patriot-News.

Men, women mix it up in compelling 'Henry IV'

After the mostly silent page beseeches the audience to hear his speech and see his curtsy at the end of Sunday's performance of Shakespeare's "Henry IV" and suggests that is might be "a displeasing play," another voice is heard with an equally simple and direct plea: "If you enjoyed this show, please tell your friends. We have some reservations, but not enough."

The request is a fair one. It's hardly a displeasing production -- long, yes; displeasing, no.

The voice belonged to J. Clark Nicholson, who not only directed this 20th production of the Harrisburg Shakespeare Festival but also served as half of the team that consolidated parts I and II of "Henry IV."

It's a shame that the unusually cast show doesn't seem to be generating larger audiences. But the hope is that his request will ignite a rush to the box office of the Gamut Classic Theatre on the third floor of Strawberry Square. Because of the energy of a large and talented cast, it's more than worthy of consideration by area theater lovers. Shakespeare fans will get more than their money's worth as the program runs 31/2 hours, including intermission.

In addition to putting together the parts that Shakespeare wrote as separate plays in 1597 and 1598, Nicholson assigned women to play the four major male roles and many of the less prominent ones. In another gender reversal, he cast two men in female roles. It does make an audience sit up and take notice when they see Melissa Nicholson (the director's wife) sitting on the throne as the title character discussing the events of the day with male and female members of the court. They're all supposed to be men, of course; that's what the Bard had in mind.

Then, Amber E. Wagner shows up as the king's playboy son and heir apparent, Prince Hal, looking pert and pretty in short bob. And Karen Ruch, properly padded and blustery, appears to more than fill the role of Sir John Falstaff, the plump and aging knight who's been teaching Hal how to enjoy the raunchy things of life.

The fourth member of the key quartet is Melissa Dunphy, dark-haired, dark-eyed and full of anger. She plays the fiery Hotspur (Henry Percy) with an intensity and rage that make her a compelling figure to watch. Unfortunately, Hotspur is killed off in Act I, but fortunately, Dunphy, like 11 other members of the 15-member cast, has multiple roles. So she returns to the stage.


My blog is worth $3,387.24.
How much is your blog worth?

I'm rather pleased. In fact, you could say that the review, along with a rather smashing NIN concert last night at the MCI Center in Washington DC (we were in the second row hard stage left - I am a little deaf in my right ear), saved a week which was shaping up to be something of a downer. Yesterday I accidentally put Falstaff's red cloak in a combined wash and turned King Henry's shirt bright pink. I think I've saved it with bleach, but I'll have to check when I head to the theatre today. The day before, my e-cock grew stiff and pointed itself firmly in the direction of Diana Martin at the e-mail address I'm giving her maybe 48 more hours to explain herself before I ... well, perhaps I'll make that a surprise. I'm pretty sure it's going to involve some form of pornographic fanfiction, however.

Good lord, Al and I idolized Graham Young a little when we were in high school. I remember we used to jokingly ask Dr. Kerr if there was any thallium in the lab in Chemistry class. I still love that movie. The homages to A Clockwork Orange are terrific. At least, I think they're homages. Maybe I just had A Clockwork Orange on the brain.

Speaking of news, I noticed the other day that Sight & Sound theatre has bought banner advertising on Portal of Evil News. God, that's hilarious.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The play is finally open, which means I suddenly once more have a life outside of rehearsal. Not that life has become any less busy, but it's definitely less exhausting. On my desktop is an intimidating list of incomplete tasks which has been accumulating for the last few weeks and which I am slowly working my way through, beginning with sleeping, laundry and updating this blog.

The two Henry IV shows we have performed so far have gone very well, I think. The Sunday matinee audience was a little dead (I shouted most of my "Arm, arm with speed" speech in the face of a particularly unattractive bluehair who had fallen asleep stage left), but the show still moved at a decent pace. I'm curious to see what the attendance will be like this weekend, especially given my efforts on MySpace. The electronic flyer (see below) has thus far been viewed 15,800 times. I have no idea if that will translate to bums on seats or not.

I got my mandatory embarrassing slip-up out of the way at the final dress rehearsal. The new coat of polyethylene on the stage has made it somewhat slick, and during the arrest of Mowbray, Scroop, and Hastings, my heel skidded, leaving me lunging like a wannabe gymnast at the feet of Westmerland. Relief that it had happened at final dress instead of opening night had me in peals of hysterical laughter for a quarter of an hour afterwards.

Tomorrow night, after Clark and I get back from leading some kind of Shakespeare workshop at State College High, Matt and I will be booking it down to Washington DC for the NIN concert at the MCI Center. I bought new shoes just for the occasion (see right). Less than $30 including shipping on eBay for a brand-new pair of Sage Boots, huzzah! They pinch at the toe a touch, but they'll break in.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Huzzah. More inches.
When the lady is a king
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Of The Patriot-News

The man who would be king must walk the walk, and that was a bit of a problem for Amber Wagner, a definite female.

"You don't feel like you are walking like a girl until you try walking like a man," said Wagner, who will play the role of Prince Hal in Harrisburg Shakespeare Festival's upcoming production of "Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2."

Melissa Dunphy, who will play Hal's sworn enemy, Hotspur, in the production, agreed.

"It's so different," Dunphy said. "You have to think yourself into a man's body. Since I'm five foot three and don't look anything like a man, it's hard to think of myself into having broad shoulders and thinner hips."


"Once I feel an emotion, it tends to be right out there, on my sleeve," said Wagner. "Men try keep their emotions under wraps as long as possible. [Now] I can understand a little better why they are afraid to let everyone see their emotion. There is so much of a power struggle going on all the time. If you show any weakness, the next person is going to come along and take your position away from you."

In the case of Prince Hal, that person is Hotspur, an angry young man who challenges Hal's right to the throne.

That rivalry will lead to a battle of armies -- and a more personal duel.

Break out the broadswords, ladies.

"I have a great big sword fight with Prince Hal," Dunphy said. "That's been a lot of fun, but it's a real sword. It's pretty heavy. You swing that thing for a few minutes, and you are sweating, your muscles are aching, and you are puffing for breath."

Click on the headline to read the rest of the article.
This morning, I received this e-mail from the new principal of my old school:
Miss Lydia Bertaux-Bertold, whom we have always loving called 'Miss BB', died in the early hours of Monday 24 October. Miss BB had been undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

We remember her as a wonderful friend and teacher who inspired our students, and gave generously to her colleagues. Her enthusiasm for life was infectious, her love of her students obvious. We shall miss her deeply.

In my conversations with her in the past few weeks, she made clear that she felt at peace with God. We give thanks for her life and for all she has done. We are truly blessed to have known her. Please keep her and her parents in your prayers.
Miss BB was smart and funny and pretty, and I don't remember anyone who didn't like her. She gave hugs, and she was better than any of the other language teachers. She taught me German in grade eight, but I think she spoke seven languages. If I recall correctly, her double-barrelled surname was the result of her father moving to France during WWII and changing his name (what's the French equivalent of "anglicize"?), but hyphenating the German and French versions after the war.

Al and I skipped class sometimes to hang out with her in her office on Graham Street, and she'd write us notes so we wouldn't get into trouble. We found out near the end of high school that she had breast cancer. I don't know if it was common knowledge, but I remember her talking to Al and me about the possibility of a mastectomy. Self-infatuated 16yo that I was, I couldn't even fathom how scared she must have been. I wrote her letters for a while after I graduated, and received a couple of replies, but we eventually lost touch.

That was nearly ten years ago.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A student in my sociology course (I think I've quoted her before on this blog - I doubt more than one student in my class has been to Cambodia) posted the following last Thursday:
During my time in Cambodia (one of the most poverty stricken countries in the world) I learned that just because you earned a college education didn't gaurantee you a job. Many young people would come to the capital city, go to colleg for two or three years, and after graduating they still wouldn't be able to find a job as hard as they tried. There just wasn't the need. Many of the students would then end up going back to their province to live with their families without fulfilling the dream of attaining something better. It weemed like an endless cycle.

Oh, heavens! Those poor Cambodians! Thank goodness we live in the USA where college degrees are always put to good use. Can you imagine the horror of going to a city to get a degree but ending up afterwards in the backwater rural area where you grew up!!?! Praise God Americans - particularly Central Pennsylvanians - don't face this problem.

Of course, I was compelled to write a snarky reply.
Regarding your experience in Cambodia: that's not exactly far off from the situation in the USA, is it? At first, I couldn't even tell if you were talking about Cambodia or this country. I know plenty of people in Central Pennsylvania who went to college in Philadelphia or Pittsburg and found their degree pretty much worthless when they graduated. They ended up back in Central PA, working unskilled jobs that shouldn't even require a degree.

I was shocked when I first arrived in the USA to discover that some advertised receptionist positions require applicants to hold a degree! Personally, I think this is not only a result of a poor job market, but the degradation of the American education system. From what I can tell, American high schools have been doing such a poor job of educating students recently that young Americans now require a degree just to be able to write a correct sentence (and even a degree doesn't necessarily guarantee that - I have also come across many degree-holders and even professors who can't seem to grasp basic grammar). As more and more people feel entitled to a degree, universities come under pressure to pass students rather than face failing a large percentage of the student population, and degrees become practically meaningless.

I wonder if our professor will read it. She told me my work was excellant again this week.
The cutest thing in the entire world is ...

I miss her.
I am a tiny bit drunk. Just went to Jess's Halloween party dressed in a Disney princess outfit meant for an eight-year-old.

So, I just learned something. Wonders will never cease! She still learns, even when drunk! The Colonel Bogey March was, in fact, not written by Malcolm Arnold (whom I admire greatly because I rather like his viola concerto, which I played for my A.Mus.A. exam a long time ago). The shame of ignorance! No, it was a popular tune well beforehand. Thank goodness. You know, I am so glad this has been cleared up. See, I only knew the Colonel Bogey March as "that ridiculously fucking catchy tune from Bridge Over the River Kwai," a movie that was filmed in 1957, with music composed by Malcolm Arnold. However, I am also familiar with "Hitler Has Only Got One Ball," which I figured must have been writted during WWII. With this new knowledge, the truth has finally been laid bare. And now, of course, I can't get the damn song out of my head.

Hitler has only got one ball,
Göring has two but very small,
Himmler has something sim'lar,
But poor old Goebbels has no balls at all.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

I want hugs!!



Eh, I guess I'll just go take a hot shower.

Friday, October 21, 2005

My favorite song in the entire world right now is "Death Death Death." God, it's so awesome. I can't stop singing it. It's the only thing that's been able to stop my lines from Henry IV from running and running and running through my head (temporarily).

The White Albun is all right, but the DVDs are awesome. AWESOME. I completely forgot just how much I love TISM. This can be witnessed by the fact that these days, I am pretty bored by live videos of NIN, but this morning I was lapping up live TISM videos like a parched cat.

Bruises bruises bruises
Cuts cuts cuts
Giblets Giblets Giblets
Guts guts guts

Death - Death

Hacksaw hacksaw hacksaw
Scrape scrape scrape
Murder murder murder
Rape rape rape

Torture torture torture
Rack rack rack
Slaughter slaughter slaughter
Attack attack attack

Death death death death
Death death death death
Amway Amway Amway
Amway Amway Amway

Also, Promite is the KING OF MITES.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Anthony, I fucking LOVE YOU. I fucking LOVE YOU TO FUCKING DEATH.

You have no idea how grateful I am. Holy shit. I love you so much.

I miss you like fucking crazy, you fucking arsehole. Shit. Shit!


You know, I was just thinking a couple of days ago that if there was one thing that would get me through the next two weeks, it's Promite. Godsend.

Friday, October 14, 2005

I received my mark and comments from my professor for my last posting in my sociology course.

Does anyone see the fucking problem here? It occurs twice, but let's focus on one example.

To give a sense of perspective, here is an excerpt from a fourth grade spelling list:


WHAT. THE. FUCK. My college professor - my COLLEGE PROFESSOR - cannot spell at a FOURTH GRADE LEVEL. No wonder she can't spell "McDonaldized."

You know, I have some very intelligent friends online who can't spell too well. Generally, they get around this problem by spellchecking their words before posting them to the Internet. This is remarkably easy to do given that spellchecking is now a fucking automated process. One would think that using correct spelling online would be even more important if you were a college professor attempting to teach a college course to college students.

Here is the question we were given to answer this week:

Trafficing. Ocnfessed. Perscription. PERSCRIPTION.

I'm not even going to get into the punctuation. Jesus Fuck.

Tomorrow, when the deadline for the online exam is passed, I'll post some screenshots of the questions therein. Some of them are equally mind-blowing.

Monday, October 10, 2005

My shoulders are stiff from fighting with swords and playing the cello! Indeed, I've played so much cello this week that in my lesson today, I was rewarded with some real music to play. I've been given the Bach Cello Suites to "have a look at." Honestly, I'm not sure if I'm ready, but maybe I'll start on the Bouree from the Third Suite, since I think it was the first one I ever played (probably very badly) on the viola (or was it the violin?) when I was about half my current age.

Yesterday, Matt and I went to Giant to pick up some organic sugar, and ended up coming home with a three-pound center cut of pork, which we set to work roasting (rubbed with minced garlic, salt, crushed pepper, mint flakes, and extra virgin olive oil). It's all gone. We sat around for an entire day eating nothing but pork. Today we got to work on the triple chocolate cake we bought at Wal-Mart on Saturday. We are well aware of how lucky we are. One day when our metabolism is in the shitter and we can eat nothing but boiled lettuce to lose weight, we will look back with fondness on the days when our diet consisted solely of pork and chocolate cake.

Until then, I'm going to reflect on how fucking awesome it is to be an adult. Yes, kids, it's true; being a grown up is everything you dreamed it would be and more.

I am currently engaged in a discussion in my online sociology class about the dangers of large cities, specifically New York. Apparently most of the students in the course think that NYC is a terrifyingly dangerous place, full of crime and terrorists. Driving through NYC makes the hair on their arms stand on end. Whenever I come up with a rebuttal (e.g. the crime rate in Harrisburg is about twice as bad as in New York, Three Mile Island is a prime terrorist target), they simply come up with another poorly written excuse.

Zach made the comment the other day that it appears I have given Hotspur my e-cock. He's right. Hotspur is just Mormolyke. I think I'm going to temper that with Elliot Stabler if I can.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Heh, Clark will like this: the drummer of Nine Inch Nails recently pulled out of the With Teeth tour due to a heart condition. They've been looking for a replacement drummer for the remainder of the tour (including the East Coast shows in November). Although no announcement has been made, today a picture appeared on ...

I'm not drawing conclusions, but the picture makes me grin.
From my online Sociology course:
REad the down-to-earth sociology box- "The Mcdonaldalization of Society". Discuss your understanding of the concept, and based on your reading and review of the how our social institutions are run today (education, politiecs, religion etc) do you think our society is becoming overly rationalized or mcdonaldlized? Explain your answers (include concrete examples to support your position).
Sic. Yes, believe it or not, this homework assignment was typed by a professor at an accredited college.

My response (excuse the lack of paragraphs; apparently our weekly postings are not permitted to be more than one paragraph long, if you can fucking believe that):
One of the first things I noticed when I came to America was how different each of her cities seemed to be. New York, Washington DC, New Orleans, Seattle, and Los Angeles each have a distinct flavor. However, I also noticed that much of these cities is homogenized. Large chain businesses such as Wal-Mart and McDonalds are ubiquitous, and around the nation, suburbs are identical landscapes of alternating highways and strip malls. As our population expands and efficiency becomes an obsession for individuals and organizations, so much of what is offered to us is a cookie-cutter package. In politics, we categorize ourselves as either "conservative" or "liberal," and within these categories, beliefs and opinions are expected to be uniform. Cable news analysts and radio talk show hosts spit out ready-made talking points and arguments to be parroted by their fans. Evangelists preach to audiences of millions on television and airwaves without personally tending to their flock as preachers were once expected to do. The focus of our education system is to achieve high scores on standardized tests with strict deadlines rather than encouraging critical thought and a love of learning. For example, although I believe I have submitted thoughtful answers to the first four chapter postings in this course, my failure to post them by a deadline implemented for the sake of efficiency has already seriously damaged my grade - and thus, my college career - and evidently, the large size of this online class has led to no possibility of extra writing credit. It is possible to some extent to avoid this process of McDonaldization individually. We don't have to buy package tour holidays, eat at TGI Fridays, or toe a political party line. I am enjoying this course, and despite the repercussions of my grade, I think that I am learning interesting and pertinent information and understanding analytical concepts -- and I believe this to be more important than a GPA. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly easier to accept society's rationalization. Shopping at Wal-Mart is cheaper than shopping elsewhere. Swallowing concepts whole is easier than critical thought. Giving automated online quizzes is easier than marking dozens of essays. Worrying about a GPA is easier than contemplating our true level of knowledge and ability. Making individual choices rather than accepting a package is becoming a struggle. If we give into this struggle, our lives may be easier, but that ease may come at the cost of our individuality.

Yeah, I'm kind of pissed off that she won't let me off the hook for being a few hours late for handing in my posting last week. Can you tell?

Whatever. As I read that homework topic, she fucking asked for it. Ooh, there was so much more I wanted to say, but I held it in for the sake of efficiency.

It's PMS week. Fucking bite me.


Oh, holy wow. Quick quick quick, let me share with you verbatim another student's response to the homework topic above.
Our society is becoming Mcdonaldalized. We need/want everything right now, immediately or we throw fits. I spent five months last year in Cambodia, a third world country. It was common to have something scheduled at a certain time and it wouldn't actully begin until one, two, or three hours later, many times giving us lots of time to explore, meet new people, and see different things. People in cambodia have far less than we have, but are much happier. We visited several people in the countryside who didn't have electricity, running water, or even a front door to their houses, but their smiles were far bigger than most people I see in America.
So is this way of life, trying to get more and more packed into a 24 hour day, really the solution to experiencing and accomplishing all you can in a lifetime? I believe the exact opposite is true. Take time to enjoy life! Take pleasure in the small details of a flower, of the beauty of God's creation. Make friends! Do the things you've always wanted to do! Travel! Dream big! Smile huge! Don't take life for granted!! At the end of my life it will be the accomplishments of my life that fulfill me. I know that what will truly fulfill me will be the relationships I have, love that I have shown, people I've cared for, and most of all serving my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: WHAT HAPPENED IN THE LAST 2 HOURS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Date: Thu, 06 Oct 2005 17:22:38 +1000
From: Cindy Shong




Flying fish!

Also known as the Salmon-Thirty-Salmon.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ahh, I feel good. Tonight I learned the big Hal-Hotspur broadsword fight for Henry IV. I can barely type - I have the fatigue shakes in my right hand and the web between my forefinger and thumb is red and aching. But I feel good. Rarrrrr, clangclangclang, fighty.

Tripoli is pooping nicely in the toilet-training litter tray. It shouldn't be too long before she's pooping in the toilet proper, but we're taking it slow, because we've discovered that if we freak her out too much with sudden changes, she is not averse to pooping on the bathroom rug.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Phew. Just created my preliminary cheat sheet for Hamlet. Look at this thing. And the cut is only an hour and twenty minutes long.

Now it's onto picking the music and making sure I know exactly what props and costumes I have to make.

Speaking of Hamlet, I want this very, very much. Also, this. Angela brought the Poor Yorick Shakespeare Catalogue to my attention at my lesson on Friday. Oh, the things I would own if I had too much money.

Play Pong with meeee!
Mum called at 8:00am and made me wake Matt and drag him out of bed so she could say "Happy Birthday." She also gave us some news. Dad is back in hospital. Meanshile, she's befriended her estranged family in Newcastle again; they visited her house in Sydney for a barbeque this weekend. One of the reasons she has invited them back into her life is so that they can attend the upcoming wedding. Mum is going to remarry Dad before he dies.

Yes, gentle reader, I shit you not. Let me give you the Cliff's Notes of the last five years or so in the Shong household. Bear in mind that in these last five years, my family has behaved no more oddly (indeed, they have probably been less odd) than I have known them to behave in the quarter-century I have been alive).
  • A few years ago, Mum and Dad divorced. Mainly this was so that they could collect better pensions, but it was also because they genuinely didn't like each other much. However, they couldn't function without each other, so despite being divorced, they lived in the same house, bickering constantly. Thus, life was no different from when they weren't divorced.

  • Along comes Trevor, Mum's schizophrenic boyfriend whom she met in a mental institution, and he moves in with them. Dad at first objects, but soon grows to like Trevor, and they all become great friends. Dad is still very uncomfortable with Trevor's status as Mum's boyfriend, however.

  • Dad discovers he has terminal prostate cancer.

  • Mum and Trevor fulfil Dad's dying wish by helping him go on a frantic European holiday. Wherever they go, they all stay in the same hotel room to save money. Mum and Dad pretend to be siblings to "avoid questions."

  • Mum and Trevor decide to get married. However, Dad's not best pleased about this.

  • Dad becomes extremely sick. Mum decides instead to remarry Dad to make him happy, then marry Trevor after Dad dies.

Yeah. That's my family.

I am the most normal person on earth. You hear me? The most normal person on the entire goddamn planet.
I got almost the whole way through The Life Aquatic wondering where I'd seen the actor playing Oseary Drakoulias before. About fifteen minutes from the end, I looked up his name on IMDB. Bam! Michael Gambon! Holy crap, I just saw him playing Falstaff at the Royal National Theatre a few weeks ago.

Clark tells me I should see The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.
Needed to relax. Redesigned my site.

Today is Matt's birthday!!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: MY HEALTH
Date: Thu, 29 Sep 2005 19:16:52 +1000
From: Cindy Shong


I always thought hemophilia was a hereditary thing. I didn't realize there was an acquired variety. I guess Dad is one in a million.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Rice, Beans, Cheese, and Salsa ... it's a great food!

One day, I will make this lame little jingle famous with my rice, beans, cheese, and salsa international franchise.
Michael Brown is a terrible, terrible cunt. Just ... wow. I was listening to his speech before congressional investigators on NPR this morning, and both Matt and I broke out into yelling at his assertion that the Republican states of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida had their act together better than blue Louisiana. My god. How can anyone be such a stupid pit of cunt?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Some things never change. The sky is always blue on a sunny day, potatoes are always better with salt, and Judging Amy always makes me cry. Afterwards, I'm always disgusted with myself for investing my emotion in a fucking schlocky chick program. Goddamn, I am so uncool.

I've had two odd dreams lately. Last week I dreamed that I was buying vanity plates for my dad but having terrible trouble filling out the form. Every time I tried to write "SHONG," the G would turn out looking too much like an A. I used some Wite-Out, but it disintegrated when I tried to write over it. I tried writing "SHONG" again in a wet red ink, then walked outside with the form into a dust storm which stuck to the ink and made it impossible to read.

Last night I dreamed ... holy crap, I have forgotten it. Damn. I remembered it when I woke up this morning and wanted to blog about it.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Sorry about the mess. Now that the Gamut website is up, apparently I am experiencing blog diarrhea.

I have to name my cello, but I haven't even figured out if it's a male or a female yet. And, yeah, I know I need to move my bow stroke closer to the bridge overall. Shhh, I'm working on it.

At Gamut over the past week or so, we have watched a really remarkable six-part series called Slings and Arrows. The last episode had me in tears (for the third or fourth time today, after the website launch and Hamlet rehearsal). Ahhh, I am too tired and fried to explain exactly why I love it so much, but it really made me remember why I quit medicine to pursue the hopeless dream of becoming an actor, and how good I feel about where I am right now, and how marvellous life is.

So, yes, I would recommend that everyone somehow find a copy of Slings and Arrows to view, especially if you're an actor with a Shakespearean company and you are fond of screaming with laughter and bawling your eyes out alternatively.

Maybe I'll name the cello Geoffrey. Or maybe not. I had a guinea pig named Geoff once.
When I was three or four years old, I read a series of picture books about anatomy which my mother and I found at the library. This was way back when my mother's sole purpose in life was brainwashing me to become a doctor. There was a book for every system in the body. My favorite was the digestive system because it wasn't uncomfortably rude like the reproductive system, but it was still rude.

It's strange how some things stick in your head. The book guided the intrepid reader through the mouth and the esophagus, down into the stomach and duodenum, through the meters of small intestine, the absurd-looking large intestine, and finally into the rectum. And one sentence in the book, after twenty-two years, still sticks in my mind.

"Life would be very difficult without the anal sphincter."

I was so confused by this sentence that I asked my mother why life would be difficult without the anal sphincter. She hypothesized that without a circular squeezing bottom muscle, we would have to cut our poo into chunks with a pair of scissors as it came out. Yes, I thought, life surely would be difficult if we had to manually cut our poo into chunks with a pair of scissors.

These things go through your head when you're three years old, and also when you haven't slept enough.

Of course, she's wrong. The real reason life would be difficult is that poo would leak out of your rectum all the time since there would be nothing sealing it in. Perhaps we'd all have to wear corks or something. I guess she didn't think of that.