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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Citizenship ahoy

God bless the land that gave us birth!
No pray'r but this know we.
God bless the land, of all the earth,
The happy and the free.
And where's the land like ours can brave
The splendor of the day.
And find no son of hers a slave?
God bless America!
God bless the land, the land beloved
Forever and for aye!
God bless the land that gave us birth.
God bless America!


This week, I filed my citizenship papers. I cannot wait for my vote to not be counted like everyone else's!

I am seriously excited to complete the civics test and prove that I am more qualified to be a citizen than most natural-born Americans. Matt quizzed me the other day with the practice questions at the back of the citizenship guide, and I got nearly all of them right - including naming the original thirteen colonies off the top of my head, yay! I missed the questions about Patrick Henry (unheard of in Australian history classrooms, and his name is too goddamn generic to stick in my head) and how many members there are in the House of Reps. An informal questioning of educated Americans in my college classrooms reveals that, in fact, nobody knows how many people are in the House of Reps.

The answer, which I will now remember for life, is 435. (Answer subject to change following the next census).

The processing time for the I-400 is something like two years, so it's likely my vote officially won't not count until 2012.

In unrelated news, I am completely addicted to Scrabble on Facebook.

  • Jason sent me a link to this completely terrifying and wonderful video of two robots covering Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy." The robots are playing percussion and a theremin, and they are doing rather a wonderful job.

  • The Blob was filmed around Downingtown, where I live. In this trailer, you can see a shot of the diner which is just down the road.

Speaking of the theremin, I am currently modifying mine to include a sort of fingerboard, for more accurate intonation -- I have to play it at a concert next month of new music at my college. On the program: that L'Homme Arme thing I composed last semester. I have to retool some of the actual music as well. Hopefully I'll get a decent recording.

Speaking of things musical, I did a transcription of NIN's The Becoming for Know the Score. The new version of Sibelius with Sounds Essentials is lovely, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

King Tut

Immediately after the Gibson lecture, Matt and I made a split-second decision to visit the Tutankhamen exhibition at the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia. It was something of an indulgence - the tickets are $30 each - but we're both nursing childhood Egyptophilia hangovers.

My admiration and fascination for the exhibition was, however, tempered by an incredible omission. Firstly, let me explain that the famous gold-and-lapis face mask of Tutankhamen is used on every - and I mean EVERY - promotional image for this exhibition. Brochures, banners, posters, billboards, official websites: they all feature the face mask front and center. The front steps of the goddamn Franklin Institute even depicted it. The entire exhibition was designed to mimic the experience of entering a tomb, with the main burial chamber as its highlight. And yet, upon entering the "burial chamber," as you have no doubt guessed, the archetypal Tutankhamen artifact was nowhere to be seen.

No, wait, it was worse that that, because you could see it -- there was a stone platform in the middle of the room where the sarcophagus should have been, and on the face of the platform, an image of the sarcophagus and face mask were projected. Using a projector. Insult to injury.

I asked a security guard if she was aware that the sarcophagus appeared to have been replaced with a freaking light display, and she wearily directed me to some museum staff (the poor guards must get a lot of complaints in that room), who informed me that the mask never travels and is safe in Cairo.

And I'm totally fine with that -- except, GEE, MAYBE THE EXHIBITION SHOULDN'T HAVE USE THAT IMAGE ON ALL THE ADVERTISING, THEN. I mean, at the very least, they should put a sign at the entrance informing people that the mask doesn't travel so that you don't spend your time at the exhibition rampantly anticipating what turns out to be a slideshow.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Kill

I want to throttle my orchestration professor.

I mean, he's cool and all, and a decent teacher, but goddamn, this was the homework for this week. Keep in mind that I am in no way hurting for things to do.

"Due Tuesday, Sept. 18
1. String project reading session: bring three revised scores and a set of parts to class.
2. Wind project. [Bring to class – digital and printed] Compose an original work in any style, approximately 2 minutes in length scored for flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon."

ARGH! Having never written anything for winds before, writing the second project tonight was like pooping a pineapple. In a hurry.

So, yes, in case you were wondering, school is driving me nuts. I've probably bitten off more than I can chew with twenty credits, and I've embarked on a ridiculously ambitious composition project for the semester - I'm writing a cantata based on the senate judiciary hearings of Alberto Gonzales. Come on, if you had an idea like that, you'd sacrifice sleep and sanity to follow through as well. The only question in my mind is whether to call it Gonzales! The Cantata or stick to something more straight. I spent my first semester weekend cutting an 11-page libretto out of 240 pages of transcript from two separate hearings and his resignation speech. That's probably at least partly why I'm scrambling to catch up in every other aspect of my college life. Don't even ask me about practicing the cello.

The highpoint of my excessive workload is a 5-page essay assignment defending the authenticity of a modern-day rock protest musician. I will give you one guess which musician I picked. In fact, I give you no guesses; you ought to know.

The worst thing about all this is I love it. School is killing me, and giving me murderous thoughts, but I fucking love it. School is crack. I would make a pun here about school shootings, but add that to the faux death-threat at the beginning of this blog entry, and I'd probably be dragged off to a loony bin tomorrow. Just so everyone knows, I'm not thinking at all of pulling a Columbine. Hell, I even think the Second Amendment should be repealed.

I need sleeeep.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Robert Jordan is dead. Fucking ARSES. FUCK.

NOW what am I supposed to do with the summer after I finish my degree?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Another Reason I am a Fucking Basketcase

This morning I had a nightmare that I got a B in one of my courses.

I am not even kidding; that was the entire gist of the dream. I was mortified.

I am so embarrassed by my pathetic psyche.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Gibson

Most awesome thing I did over the summer: attend a free lecture given by William Gibson concerning his new novel, Spook Country (awesome; buy it).

Gibson is taller and lankier and more bent than I imagined him to be. He reads his own work well, unlike many authors, and seems to find glee in swearing in front of his audience; I wonder if this is because he's in the USA.

At the end of his lecture, he took some questions. I learned that he didn't realize that he had given the main character in Pattern Recognition (my favorite book; buy it) the same name, phonetically, as the main character in Neuromancer (introduced the term 'cyberspace' to the world; buy it) until he was most of the way through writing the former. It doesn't make any difference to me; if I ever feel and subsequently succumb to the urge to procreate, all my children will be burdened with the name Case or Cayce. I'm a bastard like that. Then again, I was named after a character on Days of our Lives, so I suppose being named after a character in a novel is a step up.

Gibson bemoans readers who find his work deeper and more knowledgeable than he believes it to be. He has a modest belief that he is a "master of bullshit," and that those who read deeper meanings into his work are "seeing faces in clouds."

I counter that some people subliminally create deeper meaning and interesting connections. Without comparing Gibson directly to Shakespeare, which would of course be a terrible sin, I doubt the bard consciously intended even a tenth of the subtext and symbolism attributed to his work by modern interpreters. I don't think Jackson Pollock had any clue he was painting fractals which years later could be analyzed to establish authenticity. I don't think Stravinsky sat down and drew up an octatonic tonal plan for the "Rite of Spring" before putting pen to manuscript. Sometimes, talented minds can make these kinds of leaps and design these structures without conscious effort.

Or maybe I'm just trying to comfort myself for falling for the bullshit.

In any case (pun unintended ... or was it?), at the end of the Q&A session, Gibson specifically asked for a question from "one of the ladies" (reminded me of this wonderful interview with Bruce Campbell: "We've gotta get more chicks at these conventions... Men are fine, but I get sick of lookin' at 'em after a while"). So I stuck my hand up.

I was speaking to Gibson. Impersonally, on a microphone and across a room full of people, but I was nevertheless speaking to William Fucking Gibson. </creepy fangirl> I asked about the disturbing rumors I keep hearing about the Neuromancer movie, and what he thought of plans to turn his books into movies. I know it's kind of a faux pas to ask about movies when you're talking about books, but what the fuck, I was genuinely curious.

The gist of his answer was:
  • He thinks filmmakers shouldn't turn books into movies, but should make up their own stories. Then again, he concedes, he's a writer.
  • Pattern Recognition was at one point going to be filmed by Peter Weir (Aha! Hence the Picnic at Hanging Rock reference in Spook Country, possibly!) in a "rock solid" deal, which subsequently fell through.
  • Neuromancer is under option until February 2009, so expect a movie before then, or don't expect anything at all (at least until the rights are optioned again).
  • "If you're at all concerned about Neuromancer being made into a film -- you probably should be."

I could have had my copy of Spook Country signed, but he mentioned that he had just signed 700 copies for his agent, the line was awfully long, and I thought it a little unfair to ask him to sign one more for me. I already got my fangirl fix.

Incidentally, Gibson fans are really godawful, and I now live in constant fear that I am of their type. Eavesdropping while waiting in the auditorium for the lecture to begin, I was treated to obnoxiously loud conversations, intended less for the other conversationalists than the strangers sitting nearby, about sophomoric philosophies, tragic comparisons of sub-par sci-fi, and (attempted) uber-geek/h4x0r dick-waving. But perhaps my irritation is only a function of having the same impulses. I hope not.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Dream Baby

Last night I had a dream that I had a baby. The baby wasn't intentional; I kept forgetting to do something about it, and before I knew it, it was too late. Unfortunately, I was completely unprepared to be a mother, and kept doing terrible things like leaving the baby in the corner and forgetting about it. I even forgot to breastfeed, and only remembered when I looked down to see swollen breasts leaking milk everywhere in a most embarrassing fashion. I felt frantic and guilty.

I don't need any interpretation help on this one. The baby is this semester, which started last week.

More about the summer soon.