Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Recent events

Whew I'm getting really lazy with the posting. Or maybe it's not having a computer at home (why did you crap out on me iBook and after all the nice things I've been saying about you). Now that school is starting, I'll likely be more dutiful.

Some high- & lowlights from the past few weeks:

- Went skiing again and got up on the wakeboard immediately. Something clicked and I just got it, that happened to two other guys too. More fun than skis, but harder to cross the wake. I really need to bring a videocamera with me next time so I can document the spectacular wipeouts while tubing.

- Drove to Arlington to enjoy Six Flags only to find that it was closed. They changed their operating hours only a few days before we went. Hateful. More on that trip here.

- Saw When in Rome, Psychedelic Furs, & DEVO(!!!) in San Antonio. When in Rome were better than expected. I expected utterly awful and it turned out rather cheezy. When When in Rome (ha! fun sentence construction) broke it down during their one hit "The Promise" so the singer could introduce the band I turned to mybloodyself and said, "I'm getting goosebumps. Of revulsion." Psych Furs were good, three original members and all their hits. I was surprised and pleased that they played "Dumbwaiters", an abrasive (well, abrasive for Psych Furs, I mean it wasn't Merzbow or anything) and punky song from their first album. Of course Devo were magnificent. It wasn't all that different from the show I saw in New York last year and yet it was better because I was crammed up against the stage (my choice, there was plenty of room) and spazz-dancing throughout. Three young guys near me had driven 14 hours from Memphis to see the show and I was impressed by both their committment and that Devo still inspires such devotion in dorkish college boys. Thank goodness I had a shirt to change into because I completely soaked the one I was wearing. Wheee!

- Scaling way back on my work hours now that school has begun. The shift I had last Sunday was miserable. Understaffed with some fairly sick patients. I've said it before, I'd rather have 10 depressed people than one manic. You think I talk a lot. I almost offered the manic patient $500 to stop talking for 10 minutes knowing she wouldn't be able to do it, but good judgement won out. At least I further endeared myself to the nursing staff by keeping order.

- School started today. Just a review of assessment, vital signs, blood glucose checks (me and my partner bled all over the place, damn defective clotting mechanisms), drawing up and delivering injections, that sort of thing.

UPDATE: Mybloody posted photos of Devo, Psych Furs, & When in Rome.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

When it comes to poetry, I'm a callous meany

National Poetry Slam 2006 is happening this week here in Austin. I've been a slam fan since 1998 when it was last in Austin. I even went to Nationals in '99 and '00 just as a fan. After that lack of money and vacation precluded further trips and I fell away from slam aside from watching Def Poetry on HBO.

I was cancelled from work last night so I went to see a couple bouts. Even though they were free last night (and will be tonight), there wasn't much of an audience. In fact, 15 minutes before the start of the 7 PM bout, I was the only audience member not connected to a team or working on crew. In other words, an automatic judge. They rounded up four more and we got started.

The idea of "judging" poetry is admittedly kinda odd. I recommend reading the Wikipedia entry on Slam Poetry to get a sense of the whys and wherefores.

I'll post more about individual poets and teams later, but this post is mainly to record what a demanding asshole of a judge I am apparently. Throughout the evening I was almost always the lowest scorer, and since the high and low scores are thrown out, all I did was set the low-end point. I'll admit I'm demanding. Having been to three Nationals before, my expectations are high. Yelling continously, painfully bad confessionals, and political speeches that just list terrible US military actions do not impress me. In fact, they kinda piss me off because it's been done and by far better poets.

Scoring ranges from 0.0 to 10.0 with 0.0 being, I don't know running off stage after one line I guess, to 10.0 being a perfect poem. PERFECT. I don't tend to give below a 5 unless the poet messes up badly. Basically a 5 for memorizing and performing it. Everything above that is quality of the text and performance. My scores average around 7.2. I've given a 10 before, twice I think. Both times the hair on the back of my neck stood up and I recall twitching with energy. Last night I have a lot of scores in the 6s and 7s; highest score of the night from me was an 8.8.

At one point after a loud, "emotional" poem that I found cliche and derivative, an audience member saw my score (you hold them up high), turned to me and said, "What do you want?!" To which I responded, "I know it when I hear it," which was really a joke reference to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's famous line about obscenity in relation to pornography, "I know it when I see it."

What I really wanted to say was I want innovation, flow, truth, beauty, to laugh or get goosebumps. I want my pulse to race. I want tears in my eyes. I want to hear something I've never heard before. I want poetry, not a directionless rant, a catalog of ills, a demonstration of singing skill, an artless plea for tolerance, or a humorless brag. I want to hear/see/feel great poems.

People who haven't ever seen to a slam before tend to be easily impressed; especially when they politically agree with the poets (there are few to no right-wing slammers) or empathize with a poets sad personal history. I was like that too once upon a time. Now, I've seen far too many great performers to be impressed with just energy, volume, and hand gestures.

So, I'll continue to be a judge (I tend to get picked by the bout managers when there aren't that many neutral audience members), suffer the "boo"s of the audience (picking on judges is allowed and expected), and glare at other judges who give four 10s in one night (whatthefuck?!).

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Junior Senior totally dissed me, sorta. Well no, not really.

Several months ago, a friend of a friend put out a call for people to join her in a fun endeavor. The band Junior Senior had requested that fans shoot footage of themselves lipsynching to the song "Can I Get Get Get". The footage would be edited into a video for the song. Junior Senior wanted to get submissions from all over the world and noted that they'd like to get a sense of the city/country the fans hailed from. Also, the presence of yo-yos was suggested as they were to be a recurring theme on the album.

So one Saturday I reported to Niki's house to find that I was the first person to arrive. She taught me the song while we waited for the others. Who never came. So the two of us (with a cameraman in tow) danced and sang "Can I get get get to know know know you better better baby" a ridiculous amount of times outside the Guadalupe I Love Video, in front of the giant Austin postcard mural, and while cavorting around the huge star in front of the Texas History Museum. A giant inflatable crab was attached (mounting? humping?) the star. We shook its claw and waved balloons about while tourists gawked at us. I provided yo-yo action as well. At the end of the day we agreed that we were very much rockstars. Niki sent off the footage.

The video is now out and I'm massively disappointed. Either many Junior Senior fans are somewhat cute but rather boring or the video editor is untalented and/or vision-impaired. Almost no one shows off where they are from by say, dancing with the Eiffel Tower in the background or atop a Mexican pyramid. And only one clip of yo-yoing, tragic.

What it really all comes down to is this, I'm not in the video. Laaame. Niki has two brief shots, one lipsynching in front of the Austin mural (not that you can read it in close-up), and the other showing her dancing legs (there was much, much better dancing leg footage). I'm not jealous of Niki, what I'm saying is that we should have constituted at least 25% of the video. Watch it for yourself, I guess. Grumble sourgrapes grumble.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

More fun with Spanish

Today we were going over food vocabulary. We had to go around the classroom and find fellow students who liked and didn't like various foods. A girl came to me and asked me about vegetables. What I was supposed to say was, "Me gusta calabaza," or "I like squash." What I actually said was, "Me gusta cabeza," or "I like head," which is true, but not really appropriate to say in Spanish class. I think I blushed.