Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

30 August 2006


To call me overwhelmed would, I think, be a bit of an understatement. It's a good thing, but right now I'm feeling bombarded with information and with assignments. The tasks to be done and the amount of reading to be digested seem enormous. I read about 40 pages of a doctoral thesis defining Documentary Theatre and identifying and categorizing the semiotics of Documentary Theatre today. I agree that Documentary Theatre is it's own discrete genre, but I'm not sure I totally buy the argument that it is its own form. You don't care about this, but it's what I'm thinking about, so it's what I'm writing about.

Last night I couldn't sleep; I dreamt of Thomas Middleton and The Witches. I'm not even sure why. We didn't and haven't discussed Shakespeare or Middleton with any serious depth since I've been here (much to my glee.)

We got a bunch of assignments today in Research & Bibliography. I'm doing presentations on Materialism (which is...?), Queer Theory and Hermeneutics (I think my dad knows what this is, but I can't figure out how it's different from semiotics.) All of this makes my head spin. By the end of the semester I am supposed to have written a 20-page scholarly article that is worthy of publication in a theatre journal.

What I need to do is to start managing the time so that all of this shit actually gets done. Over the weekend, for instance, I need to read all of Goethe's Faust and a book by a woman named Lamott called Bird by Bird. They aren't kidding around here. Geez.

29 August 2006

Competition in Class

I need to go to bed, but I wanted to mention that after sitting through syllabi for two of the classes I'm going to take this semester, I have the feeling that these classes are going to be competitive. It reminds me a little of The Paper Chase (such a good movie, by the way, if you haven't seen it.) I don't know why I think this, but I am fairly certain I sense competitive behaviors from some of the people in both of my Tuesday/Thursday classes. I mean, I love all of the people who are first years like me, but I am sensing a push from the professor, and maybe a push from within the class, to one-up each other. Our job, perhaps, is not just to distinguish ourselves but to distinguish ourselves in relation to the other constituents of the classes. I am not crazy about competition, but I can see why they might want to do this and I guess competition and academia tend to go together (see: Tesman in Hedda Gabler.)

These classes, by the way, are murder. We have some 400+ pages of reading to do before next Tuesday in Dramaturgy I, this includes the full text of Goethe's Faust. And in the Documentary Theatre we have another enormous reading assignment.

I also wrote some fun questions for the Intro class having to do with plot points of Oedipus. I hope my undergrads read!

Oedipus Rex, by the way, is great. I hadn't read it in ages and I found it moving all over again, and I think its political discourse really strikes a chord in today's climate—it probably always will strike some sort of contemporary chord.

Ok. Off to bed! Much love.

Picture Share—Day Two

These are from day two of actual classes at FSU. As usual, I stop taking pictures when I ought not to. But a camera feels like an intrusive thing, and I always assume that no one wants it pointed at them. So...

This is Roomie (aka Julie):

In this photo, the girl stage right is Amy, the other girl in MA Theatre Studies and the girl stage left is Ariel, a scenic designer in the program:

Stage right is Jamie and stage left is Vanya. Both of them are in Theatre management. I don't know how I managed to get a photo that didn't include all four of the theatre management folk—they're generally inseparable:

In the foreground, again, is Roomie. In the back stage right is Ruth, also a scenic designer (who shares my sense of humor) and stage left is Becky, a lighting designer:

Jamie from management again in the foreground. Behind her is a very not very good picture of Kent, in the lighting program:

That's all for today. Would I had taken more and better pictures but alas, I did not.

28 August 2006

First Day of School!

I am still actually at school because some idiot cut the telephone lines at my house and the internet, therefore, is down. I have to drop the people who don't show up for the first day of my class, so here I am, BACK at school after going home to find the telephone debacle.


My class is alright, though. It's about 165 students right now (and seemingly growing, though we cap the class at 180.) I think it's gonna be kinda fun, too. They're a mostly young group, but they didn't ask any questions. Who knows.

No real grad student classes for me yet. I will have two tomorrow in addition to another TA session I have to sit in on.

The halls are busy with undergrads today. It makes me happy to be back in school, surrounded by undergraduate theatre students and chatting away with my fellow grads. I'm sure it will get old and tired, but for now, I find it exciting and it makes me smile... even when I look out at 165 uninterested non-majors who all look like they want to murder me for lunch.

Much love. Hopefully my internet will be back up and running tomorrow.

27 August 2006

Two Movies / No Movies

No new movies today. I re-watched portions of Rian Johnson's Brick—it's on DVD now, so if you missed it, you should go rent it immediately—and Kim Ki-duk's Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ...and Spring. I love Brick and I enjoyed the pieces I watched all over again. It's funny and clever and dark and a damn good mystery. As for the South Korean film, I know I've gone off before on how good it is and it this was drilled into me again as I sat and watched the whole thing again. I just can't turn away. It's amazing how a film this silent can say so much and be so beautiful. I laughed, I cried. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ...and Spring was my favorite movie of 2004, so if you missed it, you're not paying attention. Go rent it.

Final Two Days of Orientation / A One and a Two

Friday morning all of the first years went to CPR training, which takes something like five hours (i.e. forever), though to be fair, the instructors recognized our age and made it calm and cool.
After the CPR class, Roomie, Amy and I had a meeting with the woman who is going to be teaching the class that we are supposed to TA. Her name is Beth and she is our next door neighbor. (You didn't misread. She literally lives next door to me in the brand new subdivision. There are three inhabited houses here and my next-door neighbor is my boss. Grr.) This meeting was supposed to—I don't know—acquaint us with what we're supposed to be doing for the class and go over the syllabus, yadda yadda yadda. It went for nearly three hours, which was okay, but also a bit much. We're going to be assisting a class called Introduction to the Theatre for Non-majors. It is a huge class taught in three separate sections (each of the MA's gets one section) and each of the sections has, quite literally, 180 students. We're not doing much in the class itself. We have to lecture once over the course of the semester, but we are the graders for the class and we are supposed to be available for questions from the students (who are mostly going to be freshmen and sophomores.) Oh yeah, and I have to remember not to sleep with any of them. The class is laid out a bit weirdly. She's teaching the intro students Oedipus Rex in the first week and How I Learned to Drive in the second. The rest of the class is kind of all over the map. We're doing Othello, Fences, Into the Woods, A Doll's House, Millenium Approaches, Betrayal, Top Girls and a whole bunch of other stuff. The weird part is that the class doesn't cover O'Neill, Miller or Williams at all. I think it's really strange, so... we'll see how that goes.

On Friday night we went to what the second- and third-years call "safety meetings" at a bar called The Warehouse. It looks very seedy, so my new friend Ryan and I immediately dubbed it The Laramie Project. But the bar is fun and it's good to have regularly scheduled down-time. They have them every single Friday night around the same time. And draft beer is $2.50. There was another party on Friday night, too. Most of us went to a get-together at the house of one of the PhD candidates. There was fairly good food and lots of drama (it has already begun: theatre people of all ages are obsessed with drama—it's very fun and most of it centers around sexual tension, which you know I support.)

Yesterday we had a work call in the newly refurbished Lab Theatre on campus. All of the grad students from all of the years showed up and we all worked on the theatre for a solid six hours. I haven't worked like that on a theatre in I don't know how long and I am sore like a motherfucker today. I got totally filthy and by 4:00p when we got sent home, I showered and crashed.

Ryan and I decided to browse Tallahassee's gay scene last night, so the two of us went out to the only gay bar in Tallahassee. It's laughably called "Brothers," but the scene was kind of fun in a Tallahassee way and the drinks were cheap.

Last night I also found time to watch Edward Yang's fabulous Yi Yi (A One and a Two), which is a film about a Chinese family thrown into turmoil by the sudden stroke of the families matriarch. The film is subtle and Yang's camera keeps a patient distance from each of the characters, allowing the film to feel more like a quiet observation of real life than anything else. It's a moving, beautiful portrait of Chinese life at the turn of the new century. It's poetic, calm and beautiful with a lovely score that punctuates the film rarely but knowingly. 2000 was the year when Asian cinema began its real resurgence in American culture with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and In the Mood for Love. Yi Yi got numerous accolades when it came out and I had skipped it up until now, but a new Criterion Collection edition just came out and I felt compelled to rent it. Very highly recommended.

24 August 2006

Another Exhausting Day of Orientation

We spent all day today at a conference. Today was Day Two of the Program for Instructional Excellence conference on campus, which is a program that FSU has designed to educate and assist graduate students who teach with workshops, tips, etc. on how to be better teachers.

It was mostly really helpful. Some of it was kinda boring and a lot of it tended toward the repetitive (which is normal as these things go.) My love for my fellow graduate students just grows and grows. I think they're all lovely, wonderful people and I feel really privileged that I will get to know them all over the next three years (I'm probably the only one of the twenty who will be here for five years: the MFA's are all here for three and the other MA's are here only for two.)

The thing I feel most is exhaustion. Tomorrow we have CPR training in the morning and then the other MA's and I have a meeting with the professor who will be teaching the class we're assisting. This meeting is supposed to go for two and a half hours; I don't know what the Hell we could possibly talk about for that long, but that's the plan. Then we have what the older grads call "safety meeting" at a dive bar called The Warehouse, followed by a party at one of the PhD's houses.

So much to do! I kind of wish I could just be alone for about four hours, and my roommate and I do kind of go our separate ways when we get home, which is nice just for the sake of decompression. It feels nice to take a break from talking about being a grad student for a little bit. It is definitely nice to have an ally at my side all the time; she is filling that bill and for that I am very grateful.

Off to bed, now. I'm fucking tired.

23 August 2006

Hidden Fees

I just found out from some other students who were registering for classes that, contrary to what I thought was a totally free and clear grad program where they actually paid me as a grad assistant and I just spent my time studying, teaching and doing research, THIS PROGRAM IS NOT FREE. Au contraire: we don't owe tuition, but we do owe what they're calling "fees." Mine come out to $685.00

They didn't tell us this, and naturally I didn't factor this number into anything, so it looks like I'm spending a bit more of my savings than I had previously thought to go to grad school. I might cry.

Tuesday's Orientation

Oh yeah, aside from nickel beers, Tuesday's orientation involved a tour of our Scene Shop, the Costume Shop, a theatre they call the Lab Theatre (which is a converted church) and the theatre they call the Augusta Conradi Studio Theatre (a problematic space from a lot of standpoints, but a space in which the faculty do not want to direct... so a good space).

We also had hours of boring training. The fire extinguisher training was moderately exciting, but I had done it before. The rest of the training covered how to dispose of biohazardous waste (something I'm sure I'll use all the time) and "Safety while using art materials." All of this stuff is very important, of course, but none of it is interesting at all and all of us have heard these spiels about five hundred times.

The insurance situation at the university is pretty awful. NONE of the students are covered by liability insurance of any kind. Each student is responsible for himself. We got a whole lecture from some insurance chick about not admitting liability if someone falls in our theatre or a theatre patron slips and gets hurt. Crazy.

Some photos from Fire Extinguisher training. This is Jill (she's a costumer) and the one on the right is Jamie (he's a lighting designer):

This is the other MA Theatre Studies student, Amy:

22 August 2006

Nickel Beers & Second-day Positivity

I'm up late blogging and no one comments on my blog anymore now that I've moved a billion miles away.

I really like most of the people in my program, I ought to say. I like the reserved ones the best, mostly because it isn't clear to me whether they like me or not yet, and so it makes me want them to like me even more. (Low self esteem, geez.)

Had lunch with one of the PhD candidates today. He was very encouraging and made me feel even better than I did last night. Tonight Roommate and I went out for $0.05 beers at a place called Potbellies and we had a free drink courtesy of the Congress of Graduate Students at a place called The Painted Lady. Nice. They were next door to one another, so that was handy. Roomie and I were the only two of the first years that stayed to hang out with the second- and third-year grads at the $0.05 beer place. The second- and third-years were all designers and TD's so, we gained points, I think, just for hanging out. I guess scholars and designers haven't traditionally mixed here. I'm all about changing that idea. I love designers. As usual, Roomie criticized me for being too positive too early, but I really like all of the second- and third-years. They seem fun (theatre people usually are) and I'm all about it.

Alright y'all. Shuck your laundry onto the floor and say goodnight. I have to get up at 6:00a (!) for a conference tomorrow morning called the Program for Instructional Excellence. Night, night.

21 August 2006

First Day of Orientation

So I'm really, really tired right now and I'm going to go to bed in a minute or two, but I wanted to give the update on the first day of orientation over at FSU.

We got our keys and we met all of the other graduate students. There are twenty of us altogether: 3 MA Theatre Studies, 3 MFA Directing, 4 MFA Theatre Management, 3 MFA Lighting Design, 3 MFA Scenic Design, 3 MFA Costume Design and 1 MFA Technical Production. We all seem to get along really well so far (I'm sure it will be like "Project Runway" in a couple more days, but for now it's very nice.) There are, like seven guys total (maybe six, I can't quite remember exactly), which I think kind of sucks, but that's how it goes in Theatre, I guess.

For lunch today, roommate and I actually ran home and ate lunch there. She's big on saving money, and I'm trying to be big on it too. In terms of lunches, I totally agree with her. There's no reason for me to be buying lunch at some dive on campus when I could run home and eat some of the good food that I've purchased specifically for myself and will actually enjoy.

Orientation is a lot of meetings and discussions of safety so far (mostly kinda boring), but the other MA Students and me met for an hour with our advisor and I loved our meeting and I loved her. I'm totally excited about the program and what it has to offer me.

Most of the lectures that the Dean gave us were things like "We're going to give you tasks that are a little bit too hard for you" and "We want you to have to work really hard" and "This should feel a little painful and uncomfortable" and "If it's easy for you, we aren't doing our jobs correctly." Very encouraging. The whole point of going to grad school is to work hard and stretch, I think.

I'll be taking 3 classes: Dramaturgy I, Research & Bibliography, and something called DocuDrama (which I assume is about work like the Tectonic Theatre Project's work and stuff like The Exonerated and Anna Deavere Smith.) Plus I'll be a TA for the Introduction to Theatre for Non-majors class, too, which should be fun.

The Director of the Theatre Department also told us the first rule of being a Grad Student today: "Don't have sex with the undergrads."

20 August 2006

Road Trip: Day Four

There are next to no pictures from day four and the reason for that is singular and specific: both Julie and I were fairly miserable on Day Four. Things started to sort of fall apart about the house closing on time and both of us were getting tired from driving so much all day. Add to that, that Tuesday was easily the ugliest drive that Julie and I had during our whole trip and Tuesday was the longest day of driving we had: about ten hours in all.

It started off okay, we went to the Thunderbird-recommended Marfa breakfast spot The Brown Recluse (named after the spider, doncha know), where I had a really good breakfast burrito filled with fresh onions, tomatoes and jalapeños. I got gas, Julie got water, and then it was off to Houston. No small feat. We drove and drove and drove—almost all of the way on I-10 (read: most of the way was fucking ugly and boring.) We did finally get into Houston suburbia around 4:30p, just in time for rush hour. We had a panicked time on toll roads (I'm not used to this exact change bullshit. I don't have quarters hanging around in my car: I save that shit for laundry.) And we got to Rockin' Baja Lobster a little before 6:00p.

My friend Jensen works at this joint. He worked at one in Newport Beach CA. The company hired him to come out to Houston to train everybody when the manager of the Houston one surreptitiously gave his notice, leaving Jensen holding the proverbial bag. The company paid him to move to Houston and take over and move he did. Jensen bought me and Julie dinner and both of us drank beer after beer and I ate an enormous platter of some Lobster enchilada concoction that had no flavor at all. The beer was good, but that's all I really have to say about my Rockin' Baja's experience. Maybe I should have got a bucket of lobster instead. If I ever go again, I'm shelling out the money for a proper bit of seafood. (Get it: shelling out? Whatever.)

Back to the beer: the best Texas beer I had was Shiner Bock. I did try Lone Star in honor of the James McClure one-act, but I was unimpressed. It's mild and boring, with less flavor than Budweiser. I want to say this about Texas beer, too. All of the big, boring national beers like Miller, Michelob and Bud have special Texas beer bottles. Somewhere on the label it'll say "Texas True" or "Real Texas Beet" or some dumbshit thing like that. And the more I looked around in Texas the more I began to realize that Texas, more than any other place I've ever been (except for maybe Las Vegas) is totally obsessed with itself. I mean, completely. All of these billboards claim "Real Texas Beef" and "Texas-born and Texas-bred" and "Texas's Real Ketchup." I'm not exaggerating. How can they be that proud of their state? Really. I mean, I think California is pretty fucking cool, but I'm not going to stick a "California Pride" sticker on my Honda. Do we even have those? I can't even think about an instance where I've seen a huge display of California patriotism. But let me tell you: Texans are all about Texas. It's self-obsession in the extreme and to my mind, really stupid and rather misplaced. It's hot in Houston. Hot and muggy: hotter and muggier than Tallahassee. Julie and I both hated it.

Anyway, no pictures of Jensen and me (because I'm an idiot) and no pictures of the Texas countryside (because I didn't want to take any.) But Julie did take this photograph at some point during the day while we were going around 90 mph:

Julie and I stayed with Jensen on Tuesday night, which was very generous of him and he and I stayed up late to watch Spike Lee's The Original Kings of Comedy, a movie he and I quote endlessly to one another, but which we've never watched together. It was a milestone.

All of the rest of Texas made both of us remember Marfa even more fondly. It's such a bright spot in an otherwise rather dismal state. Here's a link to a whole bunch of Marfa miscellania, including a picture of that Prada store I told you about yesterday.

19 August 2006

Four Reviews

After the Thin Man, the sequel to the film classic The Thin Man with William Powell and Myrna Loy sees our two stars return to the screen along with the director of the first, W.S. Van Dyke. The second film also boasts a very good pre-Mr. Smith Goes to Washington performance by Jimmy Stewart. The film is sturdy and silly and exactly what I'd expect from this franchise. It's a little too silly for my taste, but it is what it is and I quite liked the film, particularly the surprise ending. I also love William Powell's Nick character in these films. He's cynical beyond belief and drunk most of the time. It's very fun and I find its casual mood actually rather refreshing.

Mogambo is a fairly stupid love triangle drama about a big game hunter in Africa (Clark Gable), a chanteuse who joins the hunting party by accident (Ava Gardner) and a twenty-something anthropologist (Grace Kelly) with a husband. The plot is ridiculous and the film is cut with wildlife footage that looks nothing like the rest of the film and makes the editing look shoddy. Ava Gardner is absolutely great in the picture, but Clark Gable is slightly past his prime and doesn't quite have the matinee-idol look anymore that would make any woman swoon. Grace Kelly is annoying as Hell (but then, she usually annoys me if I remember correctly.) The script, as I said, is very, very weak, so even though Gardner does stellar work as the lonely, desperate night-club singer, she hasn't hardly anything to work with and the picture feels shallow and over-budgeted.

Snakes on a Plane. I can't even believe I'm talking about this movie. My roommate made me go, so... Suffice it to say that I liked it more than I disliked it, it's plot is laugh-out-loud ludicrous, and it's edited very poorly. There is a lot of squirm-in-your-chair grossness from the whole "snakes on a plane" thing, but the film isn't particularly funny and definitely isn't clever. The male romantic lead gives a terrible performance. Julianna Margulies is beautiful and pretty good in the movie, Samuel L. Jackson is his usual badass self and... well there's nobody else really in the movie, so there isn't much else to say about the performances. Oh yeah, Bobby Cannavale is in it for, like, 10 seconds, too. I love him, but I have nothing to say about his performance in this movie. The plot and the title are the same: snakes on a plane. It's either your thing or it isn't. It isn't particularly my thing. My roommate loved it, though. Bought the sountrack, is going to go see it again. You get the drift. Snakes on a Plane is really a throwback to those old Irwin Allen disaster movies (The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, Fire!, Flood!) and I think I should just probably have a break from them. One of these concoctions every eighteen months or so is okay and I think I've had my fill for a while.

Olivier Assayas's Clean is a movie about a woman trying to get her life back on track after her rocker-husband overdoses on heroin and she is charged with possession of narcotics and goes off to prison. Maggie Cheung is wonderful in the lead role and Nick Nolte does really superb work as Cheung's father-in-law. Nolte's character is raising Cheung's son (his grandson) and trying to keep it together, teaching the boy about his parents and trying to bring him around to loving his mother as much as he loves his grandparents. They are both excellent performances and the film is sensitive, hard-bitten and feels very honest. It contemplates the life of a troubled artist who can't use drugs if she wants to keep her son: the decisions she makes about her life become the subject of the entire film. What do we choose as artists? When does family take precedence over other things? How much pain can we take? It's a beautiful film. I'll have to rent Irma Vep, Cheung and Assayas's other collaboration, very soon. Recommended.

Road Trip: Day Three

After going to sleep so very early on Sunday, Julie and I were up and raring to go quite early on Monday morning. Both excited by the prospects of Marfa TX and eager to leave Jäger AZ, we headed down to the hotel lobby for our "complimentary" continental breakfast. This one was way better than the one in Tusayan AZ, in my opinion, although no half-and-half was to be found anywhere in the small breakfast room. I was reduced to adding the cereal milk to my coffee, though you will have to admit the cereal-milk option was far superior to the powdered non-dairy creamer option that was suggested by the hotel concierge.
It didn't matter much anyhow as we had decided to try the early-to-bed Java Blues again before heading out of town. Java Blues was indeed open this time. I checked my email (terrified there might be someone cancelling my scholarship to FSU while I was away from my computer for more than ten minutes) and Julie tried to walk out of the restaurant without paying for her coffee. All was remedied and we once again turned the Accord Southeast and toward the Lone Star State.

Jäger was only about 25 miles from the Arizona border, so it wasn't long before we entered New Mexico, where my people come from and where we were greeted with this:

The beauty of Southern NM really surprised both of us, and the drive was absolutely gorgeous for a good three hours or so. We drove through tiny little towns with fun little names, down (and up) winding, mountainous roads with beautiful scenery and past many, many Dairy Queens, churches and cabins-in-the-middle-of-fucking-nowhere. Eventually, though, upon reaching Interstate 10 (with which you should all be intimately familiar), the beauty of New Mexico turns into this:

The train picture is cool, but I think it illustrates well the ugliness of this desert. The following photograph was taken just outside of Las Cruces NM. I'm not quite sure how Julie got the angle, but I think the photograph is a success:

Then it was "Welcome to Texas." Julie quickly gave it "one lone star in her book," and I whole-heartedly agreed. We drove about 215 miles into Texas that day and almost all of it was really gross. It's really hot and arid and basically an inhospitable desert. After about 150 miles of this, we turned off of I-10 and toward Marfa TX, our destination for the night. Instantly, the road got prettier and our outlook got brighter. I sped up the Accord and off we went.
Naturally, we were immediately stopped by some kind of police barricade. License and proof of insurance were demanded of me. I readily complied with the unattractive female officer's request.
"Where are you headed sir?" she asked with as much surliness as she was capable.
"Marfa," I said coolly.
"Marfa?" she repeated.
"Marfa." (I studied Larry Silverberg's Sanford Meisner work and if I know about anything I know about repitition.)
She let us continue, my confident Mamet-ian answer assuring her that here, surely, was a man who knew where he was going and wasn't taking prisoners along the way.

Some captures from the weird, but never uninteresting road to Marfa TX:

By far the weirdest thing we saw we didn't get a picture of (much to both mine and Julie's dismay): it was a Prada store in the middle of BFE. Seriously, a store that said on the front in the familiar font: PRADA and then in slightly smaller print underneath MARFA. Insane. We got to Marfa very soon after this and checked into our totally groovy hotel, The Thunderbird, where you can (randomly) borrow bicycles and wheel around town. We had dinner at Jett's Grill, the restaurant of the other big hotel in town: The Paisano, evidently the hotel where portions of Elia Kazan's Giant were filmed and mecca to various James Dean aficionados. The meal was quite excellent. They had a lime zest butter concoction that they served with their house sourdough that I found particularly exciting. My chicken with cilantro butter was also very good, and though I found the potatoes au gratin a little bland, Julie throughly liked them.

After dinner were the famous Marfa Mystery Lights, our main reason for detouring toward the city in the first place. They were very cool and perplexing, and though we had a run-in with a (probably vampirous) bat, we came away unscathed and excited. No pics of the Marfa Mystery Lights, of course, but here are some from the hotel, in which we were delighted and surprised to find (drumroll, please) actual art on the walls:

Please ignore my triple chin in the third-to-last picture and Julie's slight look of Down Syndrome in the second-to-last.

18 August 2006

Road Trip: Day Two

After waking up groggy and tired (up too late: Paul Provenza's The Aristocrats, remember?) Julie and I lugged our enormous suitcases (okay, my enormous suitcase: to be fair, Julie packed light) downstairs and back to the car. Breakfast (if you can call it that) was free at our hotel, but gas at the Grand Canyon was a whopping $3.60! Anyway, we went back to the Grand Canyon, which had been so nice in the twilight and during nightfall. In the evening there had been only a few people, looking around and being, mostly, quiet. On Sunday morning there were droves of people. Literally. We could barely find somewhere to park. We got a lot of great photos, though, and the Canyon looks even more awesome and big the next day. I kept repeating over and over, "unbelievable." I kind of still don't believe how big that hole in the ground is. More pics:

We left the Canyon a little earlier than I had planned on leaving. I had arranged that Sunday would be our shortest driving day; I figured we'd spend some time at the Canyon and then head off toward Marfa TX, which was our next true destination. Thing is: from Grand Canyon AZ to Marfa TX is about 13 hours and I wasn't about to drive that in one day, much less a day where I had planned to spend a lot of time at the National Park. So, I figured we'd leave the Canyon around 1:00p, drive for five hours or so, camp out, and drive the next 8 hours to Marfa on the following day. Leaving so early, this really meant we were going to get into the Podunk town I had booked us in around 3:00p. These pics are from the drive into Eagar AZ, where our hotel was (don't ask me where Eagar is on a map; all I know is that it's close to the AZ/NM border and it was a damn cheap night's stay:

We indeed did get into Eagar AZ around 3:00p. I promptly did two things upon check-in. 1.) I renamed the town Jäger and 2.) I inquired where I could check my email. I was promptly told that the coffee shop in town (a cute joint named Java Blues) had free internet. Sweet. For dinner, Julie and I had decided on Mexican food. The concierge at the Best Western recommended Booga Red's Restaurant. Julie was skeptical but I held out hope for Booga's. Jäger AZ was turning out to be not so bad after all.

Not so. The coffee shop—and mind you, this is at 4:00 in the afternoon on a Sunday—was closed. And, as it appeared, everything else in the town was too. Julie, still thinking Booga Red's sounded dubious, steered me toward somewhere called Los Dos Molinos Mexican Reastaurant and there wasn't a soul in sight. On closer observation, we noted that Los Dos Molinos was closed on both Sundays and Mondays. Not a lot of call for Mexican food in Arizona's White Mountains, I guess (this doesn't seem right, but what do I know.) Booga Red's it was. I parked in the back which led straight toward something called Tequila Red's Cantina. I boldly entered with Julie trailing (sheepishly) behind. Could we eat there?
"Sure, we'll set you right up" our slightly older but nice-as-ever waitress told us. We promptly ordered a margarita apiece (Julie ordered our waitress's special Blue Curaçao margarita) and I proceeded to eat one of the best Enchilada Suiza platters I've ever had: delicious cheese enchiladas smoithered in fresh homemade green chile and sour cream. Yum. We had another margarita apiece (strongest fucking margaritas I've had in a long time, too, let me tell you) and each had a beer, too, before we left Booga Red's. Our waitress by this time was totally in love with us, had gotten off shift, started drinking, introduced us to her ex-husband, her dogs and implored us to come back and describe our adventures too. She was the sweetest lady and told us that she loved us (she was drunk by this time) and that we were, like, her favorite customers of all time. (I don't blame her. We were pretty damn fabulous in comparison with that place. That cantina was filled with some seriously grizzled old and unkempt men and they had classic rock playing loudly on their XM radio.) But the food was good and the margaritas were strong and it all cost something like $32.00 and let me tell you we were drunk.

So we went to Dairy Queen. DQ's are everywhere. All across the Southern border of the country. There's one, like, every five miles in Texas and they pepper the little towns in Arizona and New Mexico, too. I can't even remember the last time I'd been in a DQ, but Julie and I made quick work of our Blizzards or whatever they're called and then took this picture:

We were drunk and eating ice cream and it still wasn't dark, but we went back to the hotel and I went to sleep. She stayed up longer and finished her borrowed copy of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I was so tired, though. All of that driving was so unexpectedly exhausting, and Jäger was so empty...

More tomorrow...

16 August 2006

Road Trip: Day One

We started out slightly earlier than we had planned from Brea, CA, where I picked Julie up. Went to Coffee Bean, got gas, got in the car and started driving. We basically drove 'til we ran out of gas (we didn't run out of gas, but we drove for as long as it took me to panic about where are we going to find gas in this godforsaken place? I MEAN DO YOU SEE ANYTHING AROUND HERE??.) It was Kingman AZ and we found a truck stop with no problem at all. Where we took these:

The truck stop was surprisingly clean and there were private showers and stuff where the truckers, I presume, bathe while they are away from home. I had no idea this was done! We didn't get gas again until we got to Flagstaff AZ, at which point I had to get out and walk around and (god help me) eat something.

Slight hitch in directions in Arizona: the streets stop making sense once you leave California. From the California border all the way to Florida, the rest of the streets are useless. Instead of names, they all have numbers. Get off at Exit 99 onto SR-70 / I-40 / US-395. WTF? We decided to take a picture of us driving every day, to wit:

It took us a little while longer to hit the Grand Canyon (I had never seen it and neither had Julie) but hit it we did and before nightfall. A first look:

At this point, after marveling at the Canyon's sheer magnitude (it's absolutely breathtaking), we decided to head down to another observation point and hit this place just as the sun was setting:


We stayed somewhere called Tusayan AZ, which is just South of the South Rim of the Canyon. I checked in, we headed to the hot tub and then we went to sleep... or were going to except that Paul Provenza's The Aristocrats was on and neither of us had scene it. The film is exactly what it promised it would be: non-violent, completely lacking in nudity and totally, hilariously, obscene. I thought it was really, really funny. It's edited horribly and I would call it a bad film. It is about 35 minutes too long, maybe even 45 minutes too long. It would have been a superb little obscene short film. Instead, it feels bloated most of the time and stuck on itself (which it is.) There are parts, though—mostly any part with Gilbert Gottfried—that are tears-in-the-eyes funny. George Carlin is also very, very funny in the film. Sarah Silverman also does some nice bits.

I will post more of our adventures tomorrow...

Ok... So I Was Listening to NPR This Morning

...And the following thought occured to me:

Why is there a civil war in Iraq? Really. I'm totally serious with this question. I have no idea why they are fighting.

I mean, sure, I understand that some of them are Sunnis and some of them are Shiites, but why are they fighting? That's no reason to kill one another, is it? I don't get it. To me, what is important in my country is politics: where does the money go; what freedoms am I allowed; what medical research do we do; how secure are we, etc. But the Iraqis don't seem to be fighting about politics; they seem to be fighting about... What? Seriously. Does anyone have an answer to this question?
It seems to me that Iraq and Democracy don't really go very well together. There is a scene from David Lean's gorgeously-painted Lawrence of Arabia that attempted to illustrate this in 1962 that I think about a lot when I hear reports from the Arab world nowadays. In it, a group of Arab warlords tries to come to a compromise and eject Westerners from their land. It doesn't work. They can't expel the British from their lands because they can't agree with one another. The meeting ends only in frustration. A gun goes off (as I recall) and everyone leaves pissed. The (Western) hero Lawrence is left, head-in-hands, alone in the meeting room.

If they're fighting about religion, then that's just stupid. In this country we fight about religion, too, but here we do it by yelling at one another, not by killing children. If someone knows of another reason that they're fighting, please tell me, because I just get more and more confused.

Mornin' Y'all

I'm up so much earelier than all of my friends! It's weird. It's like living in a different time zone or something.

Houston, we have internet here now. Thank Jesus!

15 August 2006

It's Fucking Hot Here

Still no internet at home. I'm cooling off in the Strozier Library on campus. I'm illegally parked, but I hope that no one cares because classes don't properly start until August the 28th and I didn't see any patrols around campus. (There's nowhere to park here, by the way; if you thought CSUP and UCLA were bad, you had no idea. At FSU they just assume you don't have a car. There are, like, only a hundred parking places on campus. I exaggerate as usual, but still.)

Did I mention it's fucking hot! And I can't get cable at my house. I don't give a shit, but I think my roommate is going to have a stroke when I tell her. We're going to have to get satellite. Hopefully we can get Dish Network since it's only $20 a month; that DirectTV bullshit is, like $45 a month.

It's quiet in the library. I never used to go to CSUP's. I liked when I could use the internet in the boisterous environs of the Theatre Department. (Cal Poly was cool like that: you never even had to leave the Theatre building.)

Eh. Sorry I don't call and I don't write. I'm not feeling at ease here and I feel like if I call any of you I'll just whine for an hour on the telephone. We can talk when I'm feeling more stable. Right now I'm in full, utter panic mode. I was on the phone with my dad yesterday having a nervous breakdown. (Not that he could help, but he was awake and willing to listen.)

Orientation starts on Monday and the schedule is—no joke—8:30a to 7:30p every day. They have us running all over campus and doing all of these workshops like maniacs. I will be happy when roommate arrives (and when my fucking furniture arrives), then I'll have someone to bitch-fest with (and somewhere to sit while I do it.)

Much love.
Call me if you really need to hear my voice, but be warned: the outgoing message is none too happy. I refuse to leave a crazy outgoing recording until I am comfortable here. (It may take a month or so...)

Peace Out.
Sake Bomb

13 August 2006

Road Trip as Seen Through Text Messaging

The following were sent out via Julie's cell phone to our circle of friends as we travelled:

We're driving through the scenic Mojave Desert of Arizona and still no arrests...

Oh my goodness, the Grand Canyon...

Goodbye Grand Canyon... Eagar, Arizona, here we come!

We're gonna hit the town in Eagar, AZ, however EVERYTHING is closed except for Booga Red's Cantina...

In New Mex, the land of enchantment. Cops are everywhere. Luckily they didn't see us hit that low-flying bird...

Texas gets one lone star in my book. We miss you guys!

The only beauty that Tex-ass holds is Marfa and Chingy.

Chingy got us wasted then took us to see the Marfa Lights. They were unexplainably amazing—but that just may be the sake talking...

DAY 4: Destination—Houston, East Texas. Arrests: 0 so far. Cool places in Tex-ass: 1. Run-ins with the law: 2. Being called "y'all" too many times to count: priceless.

Is anyone out there in the far-away land of Cali?

Houston is hot, muggy, and crowded... just like Lisa's bed. :)

Drunk in Houston, y'alls. Yee haw!

Mornin' y'all. We're fixin' to go to Mobile, Alabama today. We sure is missing you folks!

Finally out of rainy, tree-lined, swamp-filled Louisiana and into the great state of Mississippi, which, oddly enough, looks EXACTLY the same.

We's made it! We're here in this Alabama! We's fuckin' hungry for some dos' chitlins! We done love y'alls!

39 hours down: 3 to go... FLORIDA OR BUST!!!

Here comes the sunshine state... Tallahassee: approx. 70 more miles!

We're here and we're queer!

Just finished the first walk-through of Aaron's house and it's fabulous! We have to stay in a hotel tonight, but we'll be in the house tomorrow.

Guess what we're doing? That's right! Drinking it up at the hotel lobby bar. We're soooo high class...

Tallahassee Nights: The Ballad of Aaron Julie.

We're no longer homeless! Aaron got his keys!

We are sitting on the patio at Julie's Bar and Grill in Tallahassee, Florida! Aptly named, I feel...

Well everyone, the journey has ended and we are currently headed to the Jacksonville Airport. Aaron was thoroughly surprised by the arrival of Aines, James and DJ D-Wreck. For more info on the trip, feel free to call A-ron or make an appointment to see me. It's been real...

I feel like the texts got less and less sane-sounding as we went along. Hm...

I still have no internet at home (a home I don't own quite yet, much to my chagrin), but my phone is in good working order, though I'm feeling reticent to talk to anyone. I'm in bad stress-out mode and will be until escrow closes on this fucking house. Much love to the blogosphere. I miss you!

I have lots of photos which I will post as soon as I can and there will be blogs to come and emails answered when I have DSL up at my house...


02 August 2006

Saying Goodbye

I've been spending my last few days in California saying goodbye to folks, trying to work out the utility situation in Tallahassee and making hotel reservations for the impending cross-country trip. Ho-hum. This leaves me so tired by the end of the day I can hardly talk about it. I'm not eating right, either, which is no help. But I'm staying at my parents and everyone here is on some psycho diet and there is nothing at all to eat in the house.

At least there is some semblance of a bed. And chairs to sit in while I peruse the internet trying to solve all the problems that await me in Florida.

Much still to do... hopefully I finish a lot of it tomorrow.