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« January 2005 | Main | March 2005 »

February 18, 2005
sick cinema!
  1. Andy has been sick with the flu since Monday, and I started feeling ill yesterday. I told him just now that I feel like the grandparents in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who never get out of bed.
  2. I saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade for the first time yesterday. They don't make movies quite like that anymore, do they?
  3. In a moment we're going to watch Back to the Future Part II, and I'm going to try to give it a fair shot. I have seen it a few times already, and I remember thinking that the makeup on the older Biff is particularly bad.
  4. One of the movie options just now was Singin' In the Rain (not sure why Andy owns that one), and I asked him if he remembered the "sexy part," and he didn't know what I was talking about. That part (Gene Kelly's fantasy dance with Cyd Charisse) seems like it was thrown in to make the movie a little less cloyingly wholesome than it wants to be. But it's not all that cloying; I sort of like it.
  5. My life is totally the opposite of the following movies that happen in New York: Big, Working Girl, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Muppets Take Manhattan, and Taxi Driver.
  6. It is not totally the opposite of Annie Hall, but it pretty much is.
  7. A movie of my life would seem pretty boring on paper, but I think it could be good if it were made with care.

File under DAILY. Posted at 09:24 PM

February 13, 2005
many of my teachers were former nuns

As I've grown older, I have improved my ability to accept the inevitability that things change. I was talking with my brother the other night about an article we'd both read on the death of many of the world's languages. As a linguist, he favors preservation over allowing the languages to die. I don't; it seems unnatural, against the grain of forward movement. If there are enough people who care about preserving a given language, though, then that seems natural, and I support it.

This past week, New York City announced that it will soon close 22 of its Catholic schools, which have been floundering financially for years. It is a logical decision; it is the natural thing. But it makes me sad—not so much because I think that kids will be missing out on a better education (I'm not really to know, since I spent my pre-college education exclusively in Catholic schools)—but because it signals the beginning of the end of a certain culture and myth that I shared with generations before me.

What really upsets me, I suppose, is that I eventually will no longer be able to imagine that some girl somewhere is reliving my young life, only (I hope) with a little less trauma. I want to preserve my ability to feel nostalgic when I pass by a Catholic school; I want always to be able to see uniformed kids at recess and be transported back however many years to recess and everything else about a schoolday. This type of sadness is similar to how you might feel going back to the house you grew up in and finding it to be completely different, or worse, gone; you feel that something you own is no longer real, and your dim, embellished memories are the only thing to convince you it ever was.

I'm jumping the gun, of course. New York is keeping many of its Catholic schools open, but as this article says nicely, the closings signal a loss of identity for 22 neighborhoods. Philadelphia Catholic schools seem to be going strong, though my mother would know about their state of affairs better than I would.

Still, I can't see things being the way they were when I grew up for much longer. Teachers aren't paid enough money, and almost no one seems to want to be a nun or a priest anymore. Catholicism in the United States will soon need to change in significant ways, or, like an old language, it will ultimately die with a few remaining practitioners.

What's weirdest about my dismay about the closing of schools in a city in which I didn't grow up is that my own elementary school experience was, as I hinted before, pretty miserable. But of course I have such fondness for it anyway. Catholic school fed my desire to do things the right way. It rewarded me for following its rules, for being quiet at the proper times and for providing the correct answers to questions. It made me feel special and talented and important. It loved me.

File under DAILY. Posted at 07:00 PM | Comments (3)

February 08, 2005
my mom's friend, 1972
My mom's friend, 1972. 30" x 30". Acrylic on canvas.

I finally finished the painting I've been working on for over a year on Friday, just in time for my parents' descent on Brooklyn. My mom was excited to see it because her friend Ann is the lady in the coat. It's based on a photo I discovered in my parents' mess of old pictures awhile ago.

Here's what it looked like in June:

In June 2004. But a shadow of its future self!

This is the first painting I've done "in color" as a personal, non-art class, project; generally I stick to monochromatic schemes. This doesn't have a lot of color in it, but the effect is much different than if it had been done in just brown and white, or just blue and white, or whatever.

The colors and contrast might be off here, because I'm using my old laptop, which has crappy color display. (My new computer, sadly, is out for service.) So you can blame any mistakes you perceive on that, and anything else that might seem like a mistake was intentional, I can surely assure you!

I'm fairly satisfied with how this turned out, at least for now. Mostly I'm looking forward to moving on to something new, though I'm not yet sure what my next subject will be. Suggestions, serious or otherwise, are obviously welcome.

File under CREATIVE WORK. Posted at 07:54 PM | Comments (3)

February 03, 2005
bottom up

Here's someone talking about how drinking wine helps him design web sites. He finds that wine "wakes him up" and enhances his work experience. (That site has my favorite "favicon"—the little graphic that appears to the left of the URL—ever.)

Last year I had two part-time jobs. One of them involved taking care of design clients from my old (and now current) job, and the other was for a local university, helping to manage its web site. Both were very pleasant in their own ways. But because I had no set schedule for the "taking care of my clients" job, I pretty much felt like I should be working all the time.

I am a guilty person by nature (or by my Catholic background; I can be made to feel guilty for just about anything, and I'm not exaggerating). So this idea that I should be working—which I equated with doing the right thing and helping people—at every free moment really messed with me.

Anyway, for awhile now, I have regularly enjoyed a glass of wine or a bottle of beer around 6 p.m. every day. When I was a kid, my dad would get home around 6, and if there was beer in the fridge, he'd often have one, so I think of 6 as the proper time for a weekday beverage.

So starting around 6, I would drink and work, and it made the whole enterprise of having to work all evening much more bearable. But sometimes I would keep drinking and keep working and would have to re-read e-mails to clients multiple times to make sure I wasn't saying anything inappropriate or accidentally signing messages "Love, Beth," which I sometimes almost do when I haven't been imbibing anything, anyway.

I have occasionally had the craving to have a beer with lunch, to see whether it would improve my attitude toward the rest of the day, when I tend to get irritable and frustrated for no reason other than that I've been working the whole day. But I do a lot of work for a very nice client who works at an alcohol addiction help line, and I think I'd feel guilty about it.

But maybe I should experiment some time. But maybe not.

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Last night I dreamt that I saw Martha Dumptruck from Heathers wandering around the Upper West Side, dressed in her outfit from the movie. She stopped me and told me that I needed to tell the students at Columbia that she lived around there so that they would bump into her on the street and tell other people that they'd seen her.

File under DAILY. Posted at 10:43 AM | Comments (4)