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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Developed my first roll of film today. I am a crap photographer! However, half my prints were ruined by some sort of shutter blade sticking problem, so that's my excuse.

How does one learn to shoot a gun without owning one?

Where does one find cheap cello lessons in Harrisburg? (I am crazy.)

Off to tech rehearsal!
I still don't know if I'm going down to Australia this summer or not, though I guess with each day that ticks by sans decision, the indications are pointing further to 'no.' Mum seems to think it's unnecessary for me to visit right away because Dad's been doing quite well lately. I guess I'm putting off deciding until the efficacy of Dad's hormone treatment is evaluated in June. Also, Mum and Dad have a crazy plan to tour the UK later this year, and if that reaches fruition, I will probably meet them there for a couple of days instead (provided I can get the time off from Gamut), since flying to the UK is half the price of flying to Australia. (Don't even get me started on the dubious wisdom of embarking on a gruelling vacation while undergoing cancer treatment.) This is a bummer for friends back home, though. Gah. Heart's torn in half.

Still, as much as I love my friends, the purpose of the visit was to see Dad. If it weren't for his prostate cancer, I wouldn't have thought of going back until after I finish my degree.

Monday, May 30, 2005

This has been a glorious weekend. Matt and I consumed a bottle of red wine between us on Friday night and browsed through iTunes, giggling tipsily at old Grace Jones tracks. On Saturday, we were both well fed at Steve's wedding. We've spent some time at the Harrisburg Artsfest. I've slept in every morning (although usually after rising for an hour at about 7:30am. I can't turn it off.) and lazily snatched at least nine hours' shuteye per day. We watched two episodes of Deadwood (DVD set of the first season courtesy of Clark). We spent some time on top secret musical projects.

The rest has done me so much good. I actually feel prepared now to face tech week for Henry V.

If only ETS weren't full of Republican arseholes at the moment. They've all come out with their hackles up, screaming with affront at the news that Nine Inch Nails has pulled out of the MTV movie awards because MTV wouldn't let Trent use a backdrop of GWB as they played The Hand That Feeds. I laugh gaily, even as my heart sinks at the confirmation that there truly are so many fuckwits in the world.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

I have a new musical project.

Hey, Only is in Phrygian mode with a B tonic. I just noticed that. Huh.
I decided links are just about impossible to spot on this site, so I changed the text weight to bold. Yeah, it's clunky, but at least people can tell that I'm linking now.

I also changed some font sizes, and finally decided to fix the border color of image links for IE viewers. Those viewing in IE now don't have those ugly, ugly default borders in blue and purple. It's taken me a while to get around to it because I'm such a whore for Mozilla. Here's a tip, IE sufferers - get Firefox!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I made me some photograms today!


I have to choose two to hand in. So if someone who knows something about art could tell me which two I ought to hand in, that would be swell.

Darn it, I bought a developing tank on eBay, but it arrived today, and it's not invertible. Shit. I guess I'll just bring it on Tuesday and hope that the prof is OK with that, even though he specifically told us to buy invertible tanks.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

For the last few days, a TURKEY BUZZARD has been hanging about the off-ramp of Exit 66 on Rte 81S.

It looks just like this, which is how I surmised it must be a TURKEY BUZZARD:

It is very large! And skeksis-like! Big carnivorous birds are awesome!
My photography professor can't spell. So far:


I only corrected 'Dagueere,' although 'apeture' (twice) made my eyes pop a little. Other than the spelling, I like the guy.

I get the feeling I'm going to be a really crap photographer, though. Never been much of a visual artist. This is just a good opportunity to do something interesting with the manual camera that's been in my family for over 20 years, and hopefully get an easy 'A' (the prof intimated that you'd have to really fuck up to get anything less than an A. So I'm hopeful, even if my visual art skills are teh sux0r.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Can't sleep for coughing. Got up so I wouldn't wake Matt.

On this last point, I made the Dean's List again.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Life in the vaguely fast lane.

I had a three-hour movement session yesterday for Henry V that was so intense I bawled my eyes out halfway through. I'd never done that in a movement session before. Afterwards, we rehearsed for another four and a half hours, which was exhausting, to say the least. Tiredness combined with hair-trigger emotions brought on by the movement session, a full moon, and PMS, led to me lecturing frustratedly at a couple of actors about chivalry, which I think made at least one actor cry and at least three others hate me (hopefully temporarily).

Today I began my photography course at HACC. We're not into anything too strenuous yet, though I did discover that I need to purchase about $100 worth of film, $50 worth of paper, a $25 developing tank, a $10 darkroom thermometer and various other odds and ends pretty much immediately. Having no money in the bank after last week's NIN excursions, I find this requirement to be something of a problem. I've secured a financial aid loan, but that won't come in until Thursday. Gee, if Kelli Harman of the Harman Agency would pay the $1400 she owes us, as the Sheriff of Dauphin County personally asked her to do recently, maybe I would be able to afford my college supplies. The sheriff has itemized her business assets, and if she doesn't cough up the dough in a week, we'll be selling her possessions.

In further reaction to my reduced income during the next few weeks, I am unfortunately ceasing my expenditure in the areas of acupuncture and kung fu. Sadness. However, I knew when I first began that they would only be temporary endeavors.

Now to offload some of my own possessions on eBay in lieu of Kelli Harman's.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: A SPECIAL LETTER FROM MUM-follow on
Date: Sat, 21 May 2005 12:18:35 +1000
From: Cindy Shong
I had just read your email-Thank you very much-I really enjoyed
the DVD you sent me.I want to watch it again but I will wait until
I cool down a bit.For "love" I am always very emotional.Maybe
its my parents who never loved me.Also I never went into a loving
marriage.and there is some difference between you and me.It seems
to me i always try to self sacrifice and let other people use me.The DVD
let me look into my roots. Was I doing the right thing all the way. But
I have already mould into what I am==It is too late!!!

I spent my teenage years hating my mother, like most teenaged girls, I suppose. After I moved out and was able to see her as a person rather than an off-kilter authority figure, the compassion kicked in, and now she is one of the people I admire most in the world, even though we rarely see eye to eye. There are so many things I wish I could make right for Mum - and other things I wish she could make right for herself. At the very least, one day, I'm going to immortalize her in a biography. She would like that very much, but it's difficult. I want to interview her about her life, find out everything there is to know before it's too late, but when she tries to talk about herself and what she's been through, she gets upset and doesn't sleep. If a movie can make her lose sleep for three days, imagine what reliving her life experiences would do. Going through the horror of the Cultural Revolution, the confusion of my conception, and the nightmare of manic depression is more challenging than any movie plot I know. I wish I could put her in a box to contain her emotions and let her talk and talk and tell me what she knows and what she feels. I wish I could give it back to her in written form, seen through the eyes of a daughter who has grown to love her, and let her read it without doing damage.

I need distance to love her, but I do love her.

Friday, May 20, 2005

You know something that's truly infuriating? Even though I now spend $11 a pair on earplugs which cut out fewer high frequencies, a rock concert isn't the same when I'm wearing protection. About halfway through the Nine Inch Nails set on Wednesday night, knowing that it would be my last chance to see them on this leg of the tour, I took out my plugs, and suddenly it was like watching NIN for the first time. I was mesmerized by the sound. My flesh broke out in goosebumps and my eyes watered. I rode every emotion that came pouring off the stage.

It's infuriating because I already have occasional tinnitus which began a decade ago when I played in the back desk of the viola section of the Queensland Youth Symphony Orchestra -- right in front of the brass. That was one hell of a brass section. Most of them were already playing professionally, so the conductor pulled out all the brass stops when choosing pieces. The first concert I performed with the QYO included Strauss' Alpine Symphony. The front desk suggested that those in the back wear earplugs, but, idealist perfectionist that I was, I wanted to have a chance of playing those four-octave chromatic scales in tune; I had only switched from violin a few months beforehand, so I wasn't comfortable enough to play them by touch alone. Idiot. The audience certainly couldn't have heard me over the brass; it wouldn't have made a difference if I'd worn earplugs or not. Besides, the scales were a storm effect and hardly needed to be in tune to be, well, effective.

I can't really complain, though. Tinnitus or no, you haven't lived till you've sat less than four feet from a brass section blasting through Fanfare for the Common Man. Or Mahler's Fifth Symphony. Sometimes I would be so overcome by the sheer intensity, I couldn't play, and had to put my viola down and breathe to keep from passing out. It was incredible.

At any rate, that's only when my ears first began to ring. I'm sure the time I spent in rock bands and goth clubs in my twenties didn't help.

When attending a NIN show, I have a choice between losing the visceral emotional musical connection which drew me to Nine Inch Nails in the first place, or continuing to destroy my eardrums. For half an hour on Wednesday night, I chose the latter, and it was wonderful.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Click for NYC photo action.
Over the last few days ...

..I finished up at WHP-TV. As much as I bitched, there are many things I will miss about working the graveyard shift in a television station. It was quiet, I had unlimited access to the Internet, I was completely unsupervised for hours, my coworkers were cool, occasionally the late-night films were decent, and for all the trashiness and soul-destruction, I love working behind the scenes in TV news. It's unfortunate that I didn't have such a job five years ago when I was unattached to either a person or a theater.

..after a few ticket and traffic shenanigans, I attended two Nine Inch Nails concerts in New York with Matt, Meathead, Anita, Cliff, Wendy, and Arabia. I also finally met a few people whom I'd heard so much about but never encountered - Rob and Leo, for instance. Matt and I accidentally bumped into Susan Swan as well, who, oddly enough, knew how long we have been married. She reminds me a lot of Kelli Harman. A lot. It wouldn't surprise me at all if they were related.

(Alessandro has three Mac/Apple tattoos, which makes me grin. Am I the only person who thinks that's not much better than inking a Nike swoosh?)

..I managed not to die of exhaustion. Still marvelling at the amount of sleep-deprived abuse my body will withstand with nothing but willpower and a single can of Red Bull keeping it upright. On Monday, although I should by all rights have slept all day, I woke at midday, threw a greasy breakfast on top of a hungover stomach, and hit the pavement. All I have to show for my Manhattan walkabout are sore feet, some neat hair accessories, and a couple of pictures of Seth Green, but by Christ, I love New York City. I'll post a few pictures later, but for most of my two-day adventure, I was too busy doing to think of snapping. final grades were posted. The bad news is that I scored a B in US Government, which totally shoots down my 4.0 GPA. The good news is that I aced everything else, including American History, which, you may remember, was worrying me. I guess 16 college credits, two extra curriculum classes, three (four?) jobs, and a major family crisis is beyond my criteria for a straight-A semester. I'm oddly not anywhere near as upset about the B as I should be. Discovering limits is a good thing. mother sent me a really odd e-mail. I bought her the Hero DVD for Mothers' Day. She said she enjoyed it, but that it kept her awake for three days "worrying." This worries me. However, she also mentioned that Dad is doing well and has regained a lot of the weight he lost in hospital. PDA has returned to full functionality after I reflashed the ROM and upgraded to Pocket PC 2002. I can finally use it just as I intended - not only as a calendar and address book, but as an mp3 player and e-book. I also installed an NES emulator on there for a while, but the controls are awful, so I took it off again.

In the next few days ...

..I'll be going to another NIN concert in Philly. Tomorrow I'll be missing the second concert because of a Henry V rehearsal, but hopefully I'll still get to hang out with internet buddies afterwards. summer college course in B&W photography will begin. I am excited!

..Henry V rehearsals will go into overdrive as tech week approaches. I guess this means I should learn my lines.

..I will have a rather incredible amount of time on my hands despite all this, relative to previous months. It remains to be seen whether I will use it wisely or bum around like I usually do when I have time. The only way I ever get anything done is if I'm astronomically busy. There is no in between.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Air New Zealand has an August web special on return flights from LAX to Sydney for $827. I'd have to stay for seven days, though, and I'd have to make a decision before May 31.
"You get what everyone gets. You get a lifetime."

Someone I know in Australia died of a heroin overdose yesterday. She wasn't exactly a close friend of mine, so I'm not grief-stricken, but I'm still shocked and sobered. The last time I spoke to her, I was trying to extend an olive branch after an acrimonious falling out over an ex-boyfriend, but she wouldn't accept it. However, one of the people I care most about in the world had been very close friends with her for years and has been left with much of the fallout, so I guess I'm hurting for his sake. I hope he comes out of it OK.

She'd been spiralling for months. Most of her acquaintances, including my friend, had pulled away from her after trying fruitlessly to help her.

It's the oldest story in the book. She and her boyfriend were trying to kick their habit. They had been clean for ten days, and with that universal stupid junkie logic, they decided to celebrate by shooting up. They didn't take into account their reduced tolerance, and the amount they took put them under. Only her boyfriend woke up; when he did, she was dead.

Friday, May 13, 2005


Shakespeare paper ended up being 15 pages long, but I didn't proofread it too well.

Now to get through this weekend.

Now until 6:00pmSleep
6:30pm-10:30pmHenry V rehearsal
10:30pm-9am SatWork
Sat 9:30am-12:30pmSleep
Sat 1pm-10:30pmHenry V rehearsal
Sat 10:30pm-9am SunWork
Sun 9:30am-12:30pmSleep
Sun 1pm-4:45pmHenry V rehearsal
Sun 4:45pm-8:00pmDrive/bus to NYC
Sun 8:00pm-???amNIN concert + fun with friends


Thursday, May 12, 2005

I have no idea how I scored on the History and Government finals. There was a lot of guesswork involved in the multiple choice in both cases, and I wasn't as solid in the History short essay as I have been in the past.

However, something rather hilarious just happened to me. I studied Spanish all afternoon, only to discover when I arrived at the classroom just now that the final is optional for students with an average above 89%. My average in Spanish is sitting pretty at 98%, so I came straight home again. Apparently this wack-ass policy was announced last week in a class I missed because of Coachella. So there we go - I have a definite 'A' in Spanish.

(I'm not going to bitch bitterly about getting a high grade in Spanish - I think it's just one of those subjects I can grasp without working too hard at it.)

I kinda wish I'd known this before. I'm going to kill myself tonight writing this Shakespeare paper, and I could have used an extra three hours' sleep.

In other news, I bought some of these:

I don't smoke. Except for sometimes, when I have too much on my plate. I haven't had a clove cigarette in years, and when I discovered that the tiny tobacco store in Strawberry Square sells these, my favorite brand, I had to get some.

They say the sense of smell is connected to memory more strongly than any of the other senses. One puff, and I was once again a twenty-year-old newly made goth with a chip on my shoulder about Nine Inch Nails and a relationship-battered self esteem to rebuild. The sugar on my lips! The tingling numbness on the tip of my tongue! For a moment, I remembered smoking my first Gudam Garang at the Regent Hotel in Kingsford, and bumming Blacks from a medical student I met in a goth club in New York in 2002.

I'm not taking up smoking, I'm just reminiscing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Exam in one hour, I still have a week's worth of work to cover, and I can't get the damn theme song to the X-Men cartoon out of my head long enough to concentrate.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

"I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice ... I am in earnest - I will not equivocate - I will not excuse - I will not retreat a single inch - and I will be heard."
-- William Lloyd Garrison
Wow. There is a Harrisburg Postal Employees Gun Club. I love this city. No really, I love it.
In later years, it was not uncommon for one buyer to purchase the indentures of all, or a large part, of the human cargo. These 'soul-drivers' loaded their merchandise on wagons and drove through the countryside selling it door-to-door the way a drummer sold sewing needles. A Pennsylvania soul-driver named McCullough got more than he bargained for when he bought a group of servants in Philadelphia and began a circular swing through the farmlands and towns of the backcountry. He sold all but one of the servants, an Irishman whose rowdy behavior frightened away any potential buyers. The two men stayed one night at an inn but the Irishman woke early and, passing himself off as the master, sold McCullough-still upstairs asleep-to the innkeeper. Before he left the inn he warned the innkeeper that his newly acquired servant was a clever rascal, fond of telling lies and even of persuading gullible people that he was the master.

My little toe is feeling much better! Thank you everyone for your expressions of concern. It had a lovely sleep last night, without waking up even once, and this morning it is weeping a minimal and healthy amount of pus. The nail may even decide not to fall off after all!

I have no health insurance, and no extra cash for a doctor, so it is a good thing my immune system seems to know what it is doing.

It's so ridiculous that possibly the least functional external structure on my entire body can cause such grief and pain. I hope I never get into one of those torture situations in which an inquisitor cuts off my little toes to coax information from me.

Now to start studying. Yes, you heard me correctly, "start." I have my final English reflective essay out of the way and handed in, and I have collected all the sources I'll need for my Shakespeare paper. Still on the list: cramming 4 weeks' worth of History and Government into two days, and revising six months of Spanish.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Whingefest: Despair

I managed to snatch two hours' sleep before my shift on Friday night. In the morning, I went immediately to the Harrisburg Shakespeare Festival bump-in with Matt. We helped build the raked thrust. The set looks good. I stumbled into bed at 3pm after gashing my little toe on the corner of the mattress stand. It's a nasty cut - I bled quite a bit before I bandaged it up. I think the nail's going to fall off, and there's a chunk of flesh hanging uselessly at the side.

Up again at 9:30pm, off to another shift at WHP ... my antepenultimate shift, in fact. I'm eternally grateful to my supe there for being so gracious about my resignation. Back to bed at 9:30 the next morning. I thought that I had rehearsal from 2:00pm to 6:00pm that day. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Woken up by a phone call at 11:10am. Rehearsal was actually scheduled from 11:00am till 10:00pm. 5.5 hours of fight choreography, 4.5 hours of Suzuki movement choreography. I must have misread the schedule.

As I walked away from the bandshell at 10:15pm last night, I started weeping. Exhaustion. Despair. I contained it well enough to drive home, but as soon as I saw Matt, I cried out melodramatically, "I'm so tired," and, collapsed, wracked with sobs again. Crying and crying while he held me. Poor Matt. I work myself ragged and he has to help hold me together. There's no real rest now - finals this week, and a giant Shakespeare assignment that I haven't started and am not sure how to tackle. My toe is infected. Hardly surprising after stomping around all day. It woke me three times in the night with an excruciating ache that required rocking back and forth, clutching fruitlessly at my foot, while the painkillers kicked in.

Since sleep has replaced some of the seratonin in my brain, I'm not despairing anymore. I'm still worried, but I'm determined.

Goddamn, at least drugs get you high before they dump you down. This business of staying awake through nothing but force of will (I wasn't even on caffeine) is a bullshit way of life.

I can't help but laugh thinking of next weekend. It's going to be worse.

Dad is out of hospital and is doing well, according to his e-mail. I need to belatedly get Mum something for mother's day.

P.S. At least the fight choreography and Suzuki movement stuff was vaguely enjoyable and satisfying. At least, it would have been if I weren't so exhausted.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

My netfriend Wix got a hit to his blog with the search string "mormolyke national socialist." That tickled me.

Study time!

Friday, May 06, 2005

I was amazed to find Indio full of Jacarandas in bloom - hands down my favorite trees. I grew up in Brisbane, which is flooded with bruised rain every September; you cannot look in any direction without seeing a smudge of blue-purple in your field of vision. There is a saying there that if you haven't started studying by the time the Jacarandas are out, you're fucked. Matt had to pull over to let me get out and verify that, yes, there were indeed true-blue Jacaranda trees blossoming in California in May. I always thought they were Australian natives, but it seems they were originally found in Central and South America and the West Indies.

A page of snaps from Coachella is up:


01 08

10 17 11

22 NAYSAYER mattmel2 mattmel3

This one is probably my favorite.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

A Russell Mills moment in the driveway


A few months ago, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails included links to Chomsky and on Following the election, he wrote, "one step closer to the end of the world. the one-two combo of corporate greed and organized religion apparently proved too much for reason, sanity and compassion. it's a sad and shameful day to be an american." I'll admit it: I was overjoyed. As my education and experience have broadened, and as recent world events have unfolded, I have found myself more and more interested in politics -- and everything I've learned and seen has led me to disagree fundamentally with the current American right wing. I believe that art is intrinsically intertwined with opinion and politics as much as with personal emotion. So, since Reznor has had an enormous impact upon me artistically and personally, it seemed only fitting that his political leaning, hitherto unrevealed, was a reflection of my own.

Of course, his Republican fans weren't so pleased. They scrambled to declare that musicians shouldn't push their politics upon fans, insisted his new obviously political lyrics could be interpreted apolitically, or simply blocked their ears and illogically refused to believe that their idol could disagree with their own deeply held Christian conservative beliefs.

Again and again, I asked the question of how these people could stand being Nine Inch Nails fans. After all, if Trent Reznor were to announce that he fully supported President Bush, the war in Iraq, and a ban on gay marriage, I would probably stop buying his records immediately. Given the nature of his music, however, I knew I would never face that dilemma (let's keep our fingers crossed that he never falls victim to Born-Agains or Scientology).

It's true that I would prefer that these die-hard righties weren't fans at all. Frankly, I don't think they deserve his music. Janeane Garofalo commented on The Daily Show last year that "being a Republican this year is more than a difference of opinion — it's a character flaw," and I agree with her whole-heartedly.

Well, it seems that Reznor's own opinion regarding his fans isn't so far from mine.

A close friend had the privilege of hanging out backstage with the band at a recent show in Fresno. The following conversation took place.

Friend: So what do you think of the moral dilemma you've placed your Republican fans in?

Trent: They shouldn't be fans in the first place.

Friend: Can I quote you on that?

Trent (slight laugh): Yes.

Spread the word, liberal NIN fans. You heard it here first.
And buy two copies of With Teeth.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I scored an expected B on my multiple choice history exam, but this, once again, erodes my faith in the US education system:

Worst. Paper. Ever. I guess it's only first-year history, but still - how a paper that was begun and concluded in ten hours can contain an "amazing amount of research" is entirely beyond me.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I'm back from Coachella, which was hella fun. I will post pictures, stories, and analysis later, once I'm done with my ridiculous solve-a-world-problem-in-seven-pages English assignment.

I also finally spoke to my dad's doctor. I'm really glad I prepared myself for the worst before I called because it's the worst. The cancer is in his lymph nodes and bones. I don't have to be an oncologist to understand how completely fucked he is based on that information alone. His Gleason score is 9. He is showing early signs of improvement from the hormone therapy - his PSA levels have dropped from 2500 to 1500 - but we won't know for certain how well the treatment is working for another three months. If he responds well, he could have five years. If not, twelve months. I don't know what to do. I'm not panicking or anything, I just don't know if I should drop everything and visit him now (impossible anyhow) or later (very difficult, but possible), or when it will be too late, or what I should do.