Thursday, June 02, 2005

Al Jefferson is my soulmate.

The conclusion might be arrived at that women shouldn't be sports fans. I agree, we shouldn't. Personally, I can't handle it. The emotional highs and lows it leads to are just too much. I get too attached to players, and am broken-hearted when they are traded. I cried when Antoine Walker was traded, and again when he came back. My boyfriend and I drove down to New Jersey, to see that last game with the Nets, I couldn't sit still on the way down from excitement, and I threw up on the car ride home from sheer misery. Going to Ikea helped a little, but not much. (I am female, after all. Home furnishing and chocolate are enough to blunt most major traumas) That game was hard for me. Doc Rivers (valiant! true! loyal defender of players! setter of high expectations!) was ejected in the first two minutes. Vince Carter had, I think, a career high for three-pointers, and a season high for points. I hate motherfucking Vince Carter, but I hate goddamned Jason Kidd more. And I hate the goddamned Nets.

People tell me that there is no Nets/Celtics rivalry. I don't care. I don't care at all. I hated the Nets first because they seemed soulless. Look at Jason Kidd and tell me there's something alive and ensouled behind those eyes. I don't believe it. Vince Carter admits that he played poorly in Canada in order to get traded. Doing that is slimy. Admitting it is worse. It's degrading to the sport. I was ready, briefly, to believe that the Nets had a reason to exist. Eric Williams, a player who did his best for the Celtics, was traded by the perfidious Danny Ainge. This trade had a bright spot, unlike most of Danny Ainge's other early trades, which seemed mostly designed to switch out talented black men for gawky white men*. It put Eric Williams, the 'Prince of Newark' on a path to go back to New Jersey, his home state. He just wanted to play at home. He just wanted a team that would match his tattoo. He wanted to be near family. Of course, because New Jersey is even more duplicitous, shameless, and unsympathetic than Danny Ainge (who is a Prince in his own right, by comparison) they swiftly traded him, even further away. So now I hate New Jersey even more. They're soulless, and inhumane, and traded away a player ready to accept the state, the meadowlands, the smell (there IS a smell) for what it was.

You know who I love, though? Al Jefferson. I love Al Jefferson. Al Jefferson, a rookie on the cusp of not being one, is amazing.

To prove that women should not be sports fans, I'll say how I really feel about Al Jefferson: I love him. I want to nurture him and give him pie, even though he shouldn't have pie because he needs to stay in shape. I want him to be happy and make friends and stay in Boston forever and ever and ever. I want to know that the Celtics love him. Sometimes I imagine him hugging his teammates, and it makes me happy. The story the Globe Magazine did on him in the spring pretty much made my year. He wants to drink regular coke! And eat Doritos! But he can't! He gave Antoine his number back, for nothing! He wears tall socks! He cried after the playoffs were over for the Celtics (so did I)!

On the court, he's fearless. He blocks like he was born doing it. He dunks. 265lbs, 6'10, gets up in the air like he was made of, well, Ricky Davis. He's barely twenty, and he's number 9 in the whole NBA in offensive rebounds. Offensive rebounds. Those are the hard ones. He's number 8 in the WHOLE NBA in field goal percentage. He's wicked great, and I love him. He's amazing to see. He's not afraid of Shaq. He's not afraid of Ben Wallace. I can't remember how he did against Yao, I just remember that Boston won. He plays like everything is on the line, every game, but you can still see him enjoying being there. Even when the sweat pours off him, even when you can see him realize he's made a mistake (I wouldn't know what a mistake looks like in the NBA, so I get boys to tell me), he still likes it.

I love him so much.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Zombies, Diego Rivera and Me

Diego Rivera ate people. Not a lot of people talk about that. Of course, not a lot of people talk about Frida Kahlo's intra-vaginal shrapnel or the theory that they both probably had sex with Trotsky, but, he certainly did eat people. He bought, stole, or generally misaproppriated the bodies and cooked them into stews, which he then ate with his oh-so-bohemian friends. It is not known (by me) whether the solo browed one partook.

Zombies might eat people. It depends on who you ask. Some sources say that zombies merely tear the flesh and gnaw the bones. Others say that they actually eat the brains, but do not digest them. Whatever they do, they seem to have a drive to interfere with the contents of the skull.

In two weeks, I'm going to disect a brain and spinal cord. It might be true that the original owner of that brain is walking around today, probably not thinking about some agreement they made to donate their remains to science. (read Stiff, by the way- wicked good book on cadavers) If they are thinking about it, I'm sure they didn't intend to have their grey (and white) matter poked at by a bunch of slack-jawed UNDERGRADUATES.

Yeah. Undergraduate. And I'm not pre-med. In fact, I doubt anyone in my class is. We're psych majors, for the most part, and people who are trying very, very hard to fulfill their science requirement without taking a lab science. BIO 102.2, and then this: Behavioral Neuroscience. At a state university. A mid-level state university, with a decent reputation for research, but with the locals, it's like home. Home, of course, being the place where they have to let you in. I respect my teacher (professor, I guess). He seems to be trying to teach a rigorous course. He seems to be trying to treat his students like people who can be expected to master difficult material. He looks like a gym teacher more than a PhD, though, and when he mentioned that he hoped to get us 'good brains', but they were more likely to be those of alzheimers or parkinson's patients, I realized that this class might be more than we all signed up for.

I will do the brain lab. I will do it because this is the one opportunity I have to see a human brain (with any luck, I hope) and I'm not the type of person to pass up anything once in a lifetime. I just really can't see the whole exercise as much more than a waste. When people donate their bodies to science (seriously, read Stiff by Mary Roach) I think they consider that they might be disected by medical students, maybe scientists, maybe academics. They don't consider a room full of undergraduates, most of whom chose their major because it's one of two that require less than twelve classes, doing it as part of a requirement for a two-hundred level course.

This isn't a hand. It's not a liver. It's not a heart. There's nothing more individual in life and anonymous in death than a brain. It's singular. I don't want to cut into something that held a lifetime's memories, feelings, thoughts, education, sins, remorse, guided every heartbeat and breath- like it's some goddamned frog. It's not like this will somehow pass on the accumulated knowledge of the individual who gave their brain; it will just pass on the very common and universal knowledge of how A brain looks and feels. It's not worth it.

Honestly, I'd rather do a fetus. Because dead fetuses (fetii?) are funny. And they haven't done anything. I have very little respect for the singularity of something that has experience only of aqueous stasis inside someone else. A fetus, in my opinion, doesn't even carry the weight of potentiality. Sponteneous abortions are part of life's design. This life begins at conception shit doesn't seem to take that into account. It's like saying that college graduation begins at tenth grade. Sure, everyone who graduates college began tenth grade (with some rare exceptions), but the majority (I think- I'd check it if this was a paper) of people who begin tenth grade don't finish college.

Besides, everybody likes making more fetuses.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

In fact, I wear quite a lot under my apron.

Someone left a gift in the restroom at my work today. At least, I assume it was a gift. Some people might assume it was a threat, or a mistake, but I'm an optimist. When someone leaves pornography lying around, I just assume they believe, as I have occasionally, in the great karmic circle of porn. Or perhaps they just wanted to share it with my co-workers and I, and were too shy to slide it over the counter.

What was so kindly and anonymously gifted was actually of interest to me: Barista porn. I didn't even know it existed. There it was, though. Women in pigtails, green aprons, and nothing else. In case one was so focused on the apron that one missed the split beaver coyly displayed below, the caption to the spread said "These girls don't let anything come between them and their aprons!". Generous use of various coffee accompaniments (whipped cream, chocolate syrup, etc) followed, as the aprons were discarded.

Coffee girls come only after record store girls in the romantic and sexual aspirations of the post-college urban male. They've managed to supplant the naughty nurse and sexy librarian, perhaps by daily being present and at least minimally archetypally consitant. Nurses have stopped being young, efficient single women in short white uniforms. Librarians are mostly obsolete, made rare in life by electronic card catalogs, not to mention google and Every couple miles (or blocks {or feet, it seems}) there's a girl in her twenties, who really wants to know how you're doing, and sell you 8 ounces of milk and 2 ounces of espresso with your choice of flavored syrups. And she'll remember your name, and that tuesday is the day you work late, and your drink. She'll laugh at your joke, and tell you her major. You'll tip her a dollar, and you won't know why.

I knew about the barista cachet before I took this job. I embraced it, at first. Being part of a stereotype is freeing. I wore more makeup than usual ( I almost always wear none) took care with my clothes, being as titsy and quirky as possible within the guidelines of the dress code. I flirted. My third day, a man wrote a poem about my eyes. I blushed, and he wrote a poem about that. I'm disarming, and I have a good memory. I'm not pretty enough to intimidate anyone, so even shy men like me, and women are comfortable with me. In fact, the shy men are the ones who love me. I have one or two men who only come in when I'm there. I have to admit, I like it. I've always been a background person, so I like being put in this category of occupationally sexually desireable women. It's nice.

However, I really can't endorse what that woman was doing with that portafilter. It's just not sanitary.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Fuck Dolby.

Fuck Dolby.
A lot.

I like to sit in the front rows of movies. I like feeling the screen loom above me. I like not having nodding heads between me and the fourth wall. I also like to stretch my legs way out. Now, I can't do that. In even the palest, blandest, beige and blonde romantic comedy or faux-brit hist-lite costume drama, the seats shake and the walls vibrate. Each preview, even, is louder than the last. Directors must bribe screenwriters to include scenes of thundering hooves, anything that can be set to wild drumbeats, screaching tires, rumbling crowds, violent weather ...

"Can we have this scene take place during a tornado?"

"Sir, this movie takes place in Washington, DC."

"A hurricane, then?"

"It's an educational picture, sir"

"Haven't you ever heard of dramatic license?"

"It's about how a bill becomes a law. And it's a documentary"

Maybe not exactly like that, but close. I just saw "Kingdom of Heaven"*, though.
By the time the previews were over, I was tired of hearing. I was tired of the assaultative quality of their attempted sonic persuasion. I wanted to go home to the comfort of my television and remote control. Away from the constant pounding of the pre-show shilling. These weren't war movies, or action, or horror.

One was about golf. Apparently, the story of a young man struggling to overcome class constraints to someday play professional golf can best be conveyed at a decibel level familar to me from my favorite hot-dog stand in the flight path of an international airport.

I remember seeing, probably ten years ago, what I thought was the loudest movie, ever. Independance Day left me shaken, invigorated, and with lingering heart palpitations from the bass. It was amazing. For the first time, the experience of seeing a movie in the theater was, for me, distinct from the quality of the plot and actors. I enjoyed it. I never thought about whether it was a good movie or a bad movie- I enjoyed the hell out of it. I was also twelve. Maybe fourteen. But, still- id4 (as the in folks like to call it) blew my tits off.

Dolby works. It sells. It inflates and it smoothes rough edges. It's the pancake makeup on the acne-scarred face of hollywood (over dramatic? suck my metaphor, guy). Pits and plot-holes seem to dissapear, at least momentarily. With the wonderful picture quality of DVDs (and the fact that a DVD now costs about what it costs for two adults to go out to the movies) they've got to give you something for going to the theater. I'm not denying the pure enjoyment of getting lost in a summer blockbuster on a searing day. There's nothing quite like the combination of entertainment and air conditioning in the middle of july.

The problem with dolby is the problem with marijuana; it makes abject laziness completely tolerable. Instead of being suspenseful, movies are loud. Instead of being thought-provoking, movies are loud. Instead of being funny, movies are loud. Instead of being scary, movies are loud. It is possible to make a quiet, scary movie. "Night of the Living Dead" is a quiet movie. (slow zombies=hotness bytheway) I'm not going to claim that older is better; that's not always true. I'm no luddite. I love technology ("28 days later"- completely digital video- I love it). I just wish people could think AND use it at the same time, on a semi-consistent basis.

Why can't they make more movies like Die Hard? Die Hard, the heart, if not the soul of american action movies and the godfather of summer blockbusters, is a fairly quiet film. It begins on an airplane. The film follows a single hero, moving mostly alone through an office building. Helicopters, explosions, and gunfire are accents that enhance, not create, the dramatic tension of the film.

* 'Kingdom of Heaven' sucked, by the way. Don't bother. Actually, it was beautiful. The production designer, costume designer, cinematographer, foley guys...all did a flawless job. They deserve a lot of credit. It's only the screenwriter, director, and actors who should feel ashamed of themselves. It looks like a brilliant movie. However, it makes no sense. It's a movie about the crusades that does not feature a single character with any strong religious feelings either way. No one has any reason to do the things they do. To solve this problem of motivation, occasionally characters will engage in unneccessary exposition. There was a sublimely unmemorable exchange between Orlando Bloom and some woman with a lot of eyeshadow that basically amounted to "I had an affair with your father. And now I'm going to have an affair with you. " "Ok" followed, two scenes later with "I'm going to sleep with you, for some reason I'll explain with a clumsy, meaningless simile" "Ok". Just worthless. But as a person who has slaved in the technical theater, and a few student films, I need to say- the techies did wonderful jobs.