Thursday, April 28, 2005

A small measure of hope

To some it may seem blown out of proportion, but I was very moved by this story of a kayaker and a couple ornithologists re-discovering a thought-to-be-extinct woodpecker. When I read stories like this and see examples of people emotionally invested in the natural world, it gives me small measure of hope.

For more detail, listen to the NPR story.

picture by Julie Zickefoose

Linking goodness

Yay! I sent the link for The Daily Show bit to and they posted it. Now even more people will see it, and maybe read Pink Dome which provides wonderfully snarky coverage of Texas politics (nudge, nudge).

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Daily Show's Gaywatch

Last night as I watched The Daily Show, I had a perfect hilarious/depressing moment. Jon Stewart was skewering the Texas House bill to ban not only gay marriage (already illegal anyway), but also to bar the gays from being foster parents. Really funny segment, but it made me mad all over again at the awfulness of most of Texas.

If you missed it, watch it here.

I almost teared up at Jon Stewart's palpable disgust.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Communicable disease here I come

I heard the news today, oh boy. I got a job working at a local hospital. Whoo-hoo!

Officially my title is Patient Access Representative I. What that means is that I check people into the emergency room if they are barfing too much or they picked up a rabid bat or they got stabbed. You know, whatever. Take their name, address, insurance, etc, and put them into the computer. I'm kinda like Jerry on ER, but different.

I'll be working the 3-11 PM shift, which I'm happy about. The morning shift is waaay too early for me and they won't let anyone work the 11PM - 7AM shift til they have some experience. I expect I'll do some overtime on graveyard as the summer progresses, picking up some extra bucks and freaky stories. Now that the hiring manager has mentioned it, I can't wait to learn the protocol for when the police bring in a prisoner.

This is absolutely the perfect job for me right now. When I graduate with my Nursing degree I want to work in emergency/trauma, so this will be a great introduction.

Dang I'm pumped.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Don't say anything! I haven't watched it yet.

The other day I saw the headline for an article about the death of watercooler TV talk because of Tivo and similar devices. The idea is that because people are delaying watching Desperate Housewives or Survivor or Lost by recording them on their Tivo, they can't gather round the watercooler and discuss the previous night's episodes without spoiling it for someone.

It got me thinking about a parallel phenomenon; the development of home theater systems and the ongoing shift from watching films in movie theaters to watching them at home. Both are instances of the loss of communal experience. The movie theater experience is obvious, the TV one less so. While the Lost fans probably didn't come together physically, they did temporally, and then discussed the experience the next day. When the number of people using VCRs and DVRs to shift when they watch increases, it disrupts even the temporal communality and therefore the watercooler "campfire".

Today, I made another connection through the increasing privitization of public spaces in the US. We're moving further away from a culture of sharing unique experiences physically and temporally towards one where experiences are preserved and available to indiduals whenever and wherever.

Let me back up a bit. A long time ago, communicating was very much a here-and-now phenomenon. A storyteller entertaining their tribe with tales was a one-time, physically intimate performance. You had to be there at the time to experience it. Even if the storyteller repeated a story, it wasn't exactly the same. Then, we came up with ways to record information; we created media. Pictographs, writing systems, etcetera were increasingly complex methods of transmitting ideas and experiences through space and time.

From this it's a logical supposition that the development of media is the constant process of refining the transmission of ideas and experiences through space and time. I haven't quite thought it all out, but I see a pattern repeating itself through media development, a pattern of increasing and decreasing shared experience. A simplified example would be:

theater -> novel -> film -> TV -> VHS/DVD/Tivo

Theater as a way of telling stories was and is a rigid experience. You are physically there in front of the actors seeing the performance with the rest of the audience. Then writing systems and literacy allowed people to experience the same story, but as a personal experience at random times and places through the novel. Then a new medium, film, was developed and we moved back towards a communal experience. The same story could be seen at different times and places, but you had to get yourself to a specific place and time for the screening and experience it with an audience. Then TV came along. Although you were physically tied down to a place with a TV, TVs quickly became ubiquitous. Time was the real constraint. Particular programs aired at particular times and if you missed it, you were out of luck. Finally we reached the near-present where films and television shows are available with most of the benefits of the novel. Cheap copies are available for people to see whenever and wherever they want, and we can jump backward and forward through the text to whatever degree we like.

You can walk yourself through another example:

town crier -> newspaper -> network news -> web news

Or trace one out yourself.

Now I'm not assigning value to private vs public experience and certainly there are many social factors that influence the development of media as well, I just wanted to throw out what I've been turning over in my head for the past day. The next thing I'll ponder is the push-pull of demands on our time, the pace of modern life, and the desire to see/hear/do as much as possible.

Or to put it another way:

We implement technology for time-shifting,
so events are not observed when they occur.
Everything is preserved. To be seen, eventually.
Always later, when there's time to shuttle time.
In gaining access and lack of overlap,
we've scattered the tribal pack.

My 12-year-old self is highly amused

I'm sure the gum is terrible, but that's some graphic design.

Same sense of humor with the soap products.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Finally, something medical

As I progress in my education, I hope to be able to share many more posts with relevant health information. Mostly to keep my friends healthy, but also so I won't catch anything from them; I'm selfless I tell ya.

Today I went to a presentation by an expert in handwashing. Seriously, Dr. Elaine Larson's been studying this since the '60s. She's just completed a study that looked at whether antimicrobial housecleaning products were effective.
The research design was cool. They recruited families with at least one pre-school age kid (rife with disease as they are) and supplied them with soap, laundry detergent, glass cleaner, etc. Every cleaning product they needed. The double-blind was whether the families got a set of products with no antimicrobials at all, or a set where they all had antimicrobials. Then the researchers followed them for a year noting disease symptoms and observing a lot of other factors for possible future studies.

The results were surprising. Antimicrobial products don't make any difference in preventing disease. No difference at all. So, waste of money and possibly contributing to the development of resistant strains of bactera. So stop buying them y'all.

Other cool, useful info:

The mechanical process of washing the hands is what does most of the work. Even washing with plain water (no soap) or sand (as is done in parts of Africa) works pretty good.

Amount of time spent washing means nothing unless done for a long time. No difference between 10 sec and 30 sec. Five minutes of washing will work better sure, but who does this besides surgeons and people with OCD?

Vigorous, abrasive scrubbing is worse as it not only causes more bacteria to be shed after washing, it damages the skin leaving the person open to possible infection. Oh, and you throw off tons more bacteria after you shower than before. So that clean feeling? Not so much.

Washing clothes at non-hot settings, especially underclothes, spreads bacteria (for instance, fecal bacteria) all over the clothes and doesn't kill them. If you dry them with heat, fine, but if you let them air-dry, they're still contaminated. So wash your unmentionables in hot water.

The best way to cleanse hands, for healthcare workers and at home, is to use one of them alcohol-based hand sanitizers. They work the best and won't contribute to the problem of resistant bacteria. Find one that has an emollient in it so the skin doesn't dry out.

Lastly, bacteria love fake nails. Many hospitals are banning them among their employees.

This has been the health lesson for today.

To me, this image says, "When washing a wooden hand, there is no need to use soap. Just let the water flow over the beautiful grain of your, sadly, unarticulated fake appendage." Right?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Oh my. Oh my yes.

Don't know if you've been hipped to Wonder Showzen, but it is seriously the most subversive show on television. And it's on MTV2.

It's hard to know where to start. The last three sequences I just saw were:

A cartoon about four little girls who invoke Finger Force and bulimic-ize themselves into skinny, big-eyed fashionistas to raise money for an orphange, but then spend all the money on clothes.

A hygiene film of the '50s, recut and with added voiceover so it becomes a celebration of obsessive-compulsive hand washing.

And then one of the most incredibly dense OHMYGAWD moments I've ever experienced, a cartoon titled Global Politics in 30 seconds.

It opens on a map of North America. A pink USA sprouts a pig tail and roars. Then, it pisses on Mexico, takes bloody bites out of South America, humps Africa, gives birth to three crying Mexicos, and then eats two of them. My head almost imploded from the sheer audacity of it.

I'm going to have to start taping it. Oh hey, here's the pilot. If you have Windows MediaPlayer 9, you can see more clips here.

Och, the coolness continues. The animation studio behind the cartoons on Wonder Showzen is Augenblick Studios. Aaron Augenblick sent an animated music video of sorts to SXSW in 2000 and it got in. He appears to be doing well now, and throwing music work to Bradford Reed who played his awesome pencilina in the music conference part of SXSW several years ago. So much sweetness all interwoven together.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Lament of the text-only post

Yet again, it is obvious that I need a digital camera, or really, any camera with me at all times. I’m walking across campus today when I see a guy in a full-on Donatello costume. Not the Renaissance sculptor mind you, the Ninja Turtle. Best part? He was carrying a backpack, as you do when you are a Ninja Turtle working towards that degree in, social work? Philosophy? Civil engineering? Hmm, should have asked him.

Then, within the next minute, I encountered the biggest, corkscrewiest white afro I’ve ever seen and then a girl with beautiful, vibrant purple hair. Purple-hair Girl actually threw a “see that?” look over her shoulder at me, apparently also impressed by Huge White ‘Fro Guy.

No camera, no pics. Dang.

Why did this come up at 3:29 AM?

If, for some strange reason, I was punished by being made to dress up in drag (and that's really a punishment for everyone cause I would not be a pretty lady), this would be the dress I would be required to wear. Ack.

Oh, and if you like laughing at ludicrous wedding dresses, you'll love this.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Well frick

I spent many precious minutes writing effusive praise for two movies I watched this weekend, then Firefox locked up on me and I lost it all. That fiery, world-hugging bastard. I haven't the morale to rewrite it all, so suffice to say that Black Narcissus and At Close Range are quite good movies that should be seen. Hmph.

Shot in the Dark

You: holding up the wall all night
Me: dancin' fool in the Kraftwerk shirt

You disappeared as I was on my way over to chat you up. Intentional or coincidental?

Fun time drinking and dancing with friends to celebrate the death of electroclash (in Austin anyway, I think the NYC funeral was quite awhile back) and raise some money for KOOP. Guy hitting on me smoked too much, hipster chick and I facetiously grind on the dance floor, guy against the wall runs away - funny how that keeps happening.

Mybloodyself should have pictures up soon.

Friday, April 15, 2005

360° indeed

I always told myself I would not become a linkmonkey, obsessively posting whatever funny/cool/freaky stuff I came across on the internets. Yet, here I am doing it two posts in a row. St. Murse you are a disappointment.

Anyway, Anderson Cooper is positively a gay (read the comments too).

Oh, and I totally want to record an album called Yooge Queeah.


So I was perusing Gawker just now, and came across something that made me shake with laughter so much my bed was squeaking and hitting the wall. Hopefully my roommate won't get the wrong idea.

Gawker is often too snarky, but this is just damn funny.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Celebration of Me-ness

My friend Joolie is profiling me on her blog because I gave her a silent reader award and because it's my birthday today.

Read about me over there (follow the links at the top for Part II, Part III, etc.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

"Somewhere a vegan just exploded."

Ladies and gentlemen, The Patriot Loaf.

I am fascinated/horrified.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Now I'm really happy

Brilliant news. Patton Oswalt is going to record his next CD in Austin at Emo's this September. I can only assume that he was so blown away with the gushing love that we poured out upon him at the Comedians of Comedy show during SXSW that his neural pathways for pleasure and gratitude were permanently re-wired. See, I told him that Emo's was his kinda place. He talks about Austin here.

Brian Posehn & Patton Oswalt at SXSW
Photo by Patton

I previously wrote about The Comedians of Comedy show in Austin here and here. I am sorely tempted to drive to Houston next week for the start of the Comedians of Comedy Southern Tour.

This is going to be embarrassing tomorrow

An anonymous person told me about this. This very blog is the second search result that comes up in Google when searching for "murse", which is really strange. Who out there is linking to my blog so much? I'm mystified. And now that I think about it, who is this Slacker Manager and why is he first?! C'mon vastly tiny audience that still managed to get me to 2nd, link like you've never linked me before! Oh wait, I just linked to Slacker Manager and bumped him up. Dang.

The vast majority of the other search results are about man-purses. Ridiculous! At least Google knows what's up. It says "Did you mean: nurse", not purse. Take that all you man-purse searchin' motherfuckers.

Rational St. Murse: Wow. Why so belligerent and competitive?

Overstimulated St. Murse: Whoooo hoooo! Fuck all y'all! Yee-ha-yee-ha-yee-ha.

Rational St. Murse: I don't even know what that means. You should go to bed now.

Overstimulated St. Murse: (coming down off a sugar high and sobering up that last little bit) Um, ok.

Judy's pix

I updated my Judy's show review/slobbbery lovefest with pictures.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


I was just reading about this year's winners of the Peabody Award (yay Daily Show!) when my eyes literally bugged out of my head. It seems that the director of the Awards is named Horace Newcomb. "No way," I thought as my eyes recessed back into their sockets, "But then how likely is it that there would be two guys named Horace Newcomb involved in media?"

You see, Horace Newcomb (why can't I stop typing his name? Because his name is Horace Newcomb!)) was the name of my Intro to Media Studies professor my freshman year at the University of Texas. The class was a prerequisite to taking any other Radio-Television-Film class and therefore, in an apparent effort to dissuade the dilettantes, was stultifyingly boring.

After checking a little further, I found a picture and confirmed that it is the same Horace. Wow. Good for him I guess.

What I will never forget about Horace:

- He was obsessed with Magnum P.I. to the point that he had published articles about the show and cited it constantly in class.

- On the slam tables* one semester someone wrote, "Horace has the personality of a dead platypus."

* Slam tables are the old school way that UT students share opinions on teachers and classes. They are actual tables covered in butcher paper set up around the main library during registration. Can be useful and funny.

What I did tonight instead of study

Tonight I went to see Kronos Quartet perform Terry Riley's Sun Rings at Bass Concert Hall on the UT campus. I had a free ticket from last Fall; the UT Performing Arts Center tried to boost voter turnout by giving away free tickets to students and faculty that voted in the November election. I'm not sure how successful it was.

Upon exiting the elevator at the top floor, a staffer asked "Free ticket?" I replied in the affirmative and she pointed me to my row. As I climbed to the nosebleed seats, I noticed that the entire upper balcony was empty except for my fellow voters. All seven of us. So we sat together - shoutout to my peeps in Row W, Row W 4evah! - and made small talk about the other shows we'd seen from the nosebleeds (Girl 1: Nina Simone, making me very jealous as I could only cite Emmylou Harris & Linda Ronstadt, great but not Nina Simone great). Girl 2 pointed out the coincidence of us sitting in Row W when we all had not voted for W. Hee.

Soon the lights went down and the staff let us move down to fill empty seats. It was a good show, but far from the best Kronos Quartet show I've seen, mainly due to the material. I like Terry Riley, and maybe I just wasn't in the mood, but I much preferred the "best of" tour last year(?) and the show they did with Don Walser back in '97.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

I rebuke thee!

So I was reading that during SXSW, Karl Rove and Karen Hughes were spotted eating at Las Manitas one morning. Oh how I wish I had been there. Can't be sure, but I think it's likely that I would have stood up, pointed at them, and loudly declaimed, "Look everyone, it's Karl Rove and Karen Hughes. They're ruining our country and the world. Be gone vile creatures, I rebuke thee! C'mon everyone, [chanting] 'Fuck right off, we rebuke thee!'". Hmm, not sure what the anachronistic words are about, but it's what immediately came to mind.

Apparently, this guy did something a bit more tasteful, but definitely not as fun.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The soundtrack to tears

I'm starting a little project, collecting songs that made people cry and the story behind that reaction. So read on, then add a song in comments if you want.

Here are some songs that often make me cry. Whether it's the sentiments expressed, a crushingly sad melody, or just incredible beauty, I often go all blurry-eyed when I hear them. I've tried to include links so you can hear them, sorry if they're not in your preferred format. In no particular order:

"It's a Hard Life" - Nanci Griffith

It starts off a bit sappy I admit, but those 2nd and 3rd verses get the angry/desperate tears going.

"Mad World" - Michael Andrews & Gary Jules' version of the Tears for Fears song

For me, and many others I'm sure, this is inextricably linked to the final minutes of Donnie Darko when it all clicks into place. Definitely a case where the cover improves on the original (and I liked the original quite a bit). Donnie Darko is full of "oh yes" moments when songs kick in, and this one almost instantly had me choking back sobs.

"I'm Not the Man" - 10,000 Maniacs

Racial injustice and bassoon are a potent combination. I'm terribly disappointed in Natalie Merchant's post-Maniacs output, but while in the band, she was so great at narrative storytelling in rhyme.

"Untrustable/Pt. 2" - Built to Spill

I was listening to a promo tape of Built to Spill's Perfect From Now On album when this song came on. It punched into me so hard, I had to pull over on the side of the road. Really. Something about the almost constantly shifting and overlapping guitar lines gets to me.

"Annie's Song" - Sunshine Club's version of the John Denver song

John Denver is undeniably sentimental and squeaky clean in a way that can chafe, and yet, I absolutely love some of his songs ("High Calypso"? Yes please). This one penned for his wife is wonderful. Throughout he likens her to scenes of nature, powerful similes from a man who wrote so many songs about trees and mountains.

Sunshine Club's take marries stately instrumentation with fragile, slightly pained vocals that seem to say "I love you, please don't leave me."

"Velouria" - The Pixies

I don't tend to get worked up over weird love songs, but this one has something to it that's always put me on edge. When I finally saw them play it live, I said to myself "I am seeing The Pixies. I am actually seeing The Pixies and they are playing 'Velouria' and Frank Black's vocals sound awesome and I AM STANDING HERE SEEING THE PIXIES!!" Ergo, tears of joy.

"Russians" - Sting

Sting borrowed from Prokofiev and it's the music that saddens me, not so much the lyrics, which are rather leaden. I can't be sure, but I have a nagging suspicion that some ugly, familial fight happened in my childhood while Prokofieff's "Lt. Kije Suite" was playing.

"Staralfur" - Sigur Rós

This is what I want from art. Something to reach deep inside me and impel a flood of neurotransmmitters. When I saw them play in Austin, I honest-to-God went into a trance state during this song. Came out of it with tears in my eyes.

"Calling My Children Home" - Emmylou Harris version

This is a traditional old-style country song. Emmylou's acapella version with incredible four-part harmony is achingly gorgeous. When they hit the chorus, the sniffles start.

"They Don't Know About Us" - Tracey Ullman's version of the Kirsty MacColl song

Much like the above song, the key to this one is the harmony. The producer's got a Phil Spector-esque thing happening and Tracey Ullman (I know!) has a great girl-group voice, perfect for the song. Apparently female high harmonies flick a switch in my head marked "Sob". It's only gotten worse now that Kirsty MacColl died and I have that association.

"Pure" - The Lightning Seeds

This is all about my friends Jen and Scot; it's the song they danced to at their wedding reception. It made me tear up then and it's happened every time since. As I type, I'm listening to it with a smile on my face and wet cheeks.

What puts your waterworks in high gear?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Judys kick ass!

Just got back from my trip to Houston to see The Judys and OH MY GAWD! It was amazing. I was practically delirious when they played "Don't Be a Hippie" and "Guyana Punch". This will go down as one of the most thrilling shows I've ever seen.

Let me back up. , David Bean (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Jeff Walton (bass, vocals), and Dane Cessac (drums, vocals), were a new-wave band from Pearland, TX (outside Houston) in the early 80s. They were big in Texas, both as a headliner and as an opening band for the B-52s and Talking Heads, but never reached prominence in the national scene and broke up after a number of years. I became a fan later on and never thought I'd get to see this band with a reputation for highly entertaining live shows.

Recently, a great friend of The Judys, Patrick Scranton, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, so the band organized a benefit for the Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research in honor of Patrick. Before an audience of mostly friends and family (I'm neither), The Judys put on an incredible show. Even after so long, they sounded fantastic; tight playing and great vocals. I hope they raised a lot of money, it was certainly worth it.

The show was permeated by The Judys infamous shtick. It was held in the auditorium of a former elementary school and the show started with woman posing as a teacher introducing the acts in the school talent show. First was a kid named Nicholas doing a short ventriloquist act. Then The Judys came on kicking the show off with "Vacation in Tehran".

Goosebumps. Seriously awesome. When they kicked into the next song, my friends and I ran up front with a bunch of other people and shook a tailfeather for the rest of the show.

The most surprising thing about the show is how they went all out, doing the original arrangments of "Zoo" and "Grass is Greener" as well as throwing a giant beach ball into the audience for "Her Wave" and turning on a bubble machine for "Underwater Fun".

Near the end of the show, they left the stage and after a bit of comedy from the "teacher", returned as a different band, The Swinging Seabees (I think that's the correct spelling, Seabees are the construction force for the Navy, bridging rivers and such). Dressed in milkman uniforms, they started the encore with, of course, "Milk".

The show ended with them graciously losing the talent show to Nicholas' ventriloquist act.

Aww geez, I cannot say enough how much this show exceeded my expectations. I hope they consider doing another show in Austin and finally re-release their music in a box set. In the meantime, check out a few songs on this website. To get a sense of them, I recommend listening to "Underwater Fun" off Wonderful World of Appliances, "Guyana Punch" and "She's Got the Beat" off Washarama, and "Don't Be a Hippie" off Moo.

* All photos from Patrick's website

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Instead of sleep, endowment ceremonies

I absolutely should be asleep right now. I've been sleep-deprived all week and this was my chance to get caught up. After a brief nap earlier in the evening though, I haven't felt sleepy again.

So, I've spent the last three hours reading all about Mormonism on a site for ex- and questioning Latter-Day Saints, you know, as you do. Now I know it's weirder than the Catholicism I grew up in. Seriously, read about it here. Fascinating stuff.

As an outsider, it was entertaining to work out the slang that the ex-LDS use on the bulletin boards. "Exmo" for ex-Mormon, "garmies" for temple garments (special underclothes worn by TBM or true-believing Mormons), and so on. Then the voyeuristic thrill wore off as I started to understand the toll wrought on these people by an authoritarian, insular power structure that requires unthinking fealty from its "elect".

Then there's the many (fundamentalist) Christian religions that blather on about Mormonism being satanic, when the real problem is the similarities their religion has with Mormonism: one-true-religion dogma, cherry-picking from sacred texts, historical revisionism, anti-intellectualism, reliance on authority figures, the list goes on.

Then there's my huge problem with the idea of Judeo-Christian-Islamic religious faith. Not only is this faith held despite the lack of any evidence of its objective truth, it somehow has more power because there isn't evidence of its objective truth. Further, faith in something-or-other drawn from ancient religious texts is tenaciously held to even when the basis for something-or-other is demonstratively false because of course it's all a test from a god that apparently delights in playing "Gotcha! Now You Go to Hell. Tee hee." Don't get me wrong, one can be Judeo-Christian-Islamic and logical. It's the blind faith people that get me riled.

Umm, this was supposed to be about what I did instead of sleep and now I've gone all rant-y. My apologies. Did I ever mention that I went to a Jesuit high school where they thoughtfully provided me with the critical and rhetorical ability to deconstruct and reject the very religion it was founded to promote?

Friday, April 01, 2005

My mother's sense of humor

One year on April Fool's Day, my mother woke up early and snuck around the house setting all the clocks ahead. Then she rousted my sisters and I out of bed yelling that everyone had overslept and we were going to be late for school. We lept out of bed, threw on clothes, and had a few bites to eat. Only when we were on the way out the door did we notice that it was too dark outside. My mother was quite taken with her prank and cackled, we were less than amused.

She tried it again the next year, but we were ready. Then she started doing it at random times of the year. Sometimes several years would go by and she'd get us again. I don't know why she was so fixated on that particular prank. It's like she had one good idea and then beat it to death with repetition. Like a Saturday Night Live sketch.

For your edification, the top 100 April Fool's hoaxes of all time as decided by somebody or other.