Wednesday, August 31, 2005

food: how like life.

the nice sandwiches never last.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Dangling Mandible Syndrome

I have had this pet peeve for a while, but I think I must not have noticed it while in the UK because it hasn't bothered me for a while until this week. This week I got back to USC and saw it again, expressed in nearly half of the faces of my classmates: Dangling Mandible Syndrome (DMS). The inability of morons to close their mouths when they're not using them.

The Syndrome is easy to identify but hard to treat. It is most often found in underclassmen who enjoy wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the logo of their favourite sports team or national brand designer (e.g. Tommy Hilifiger, American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch, etc.) who rarely seem to be carrying a notebook but can always be found with an expensive mobile phone. Many DMS sufferers drink every night of the week with their chosen on-campus organization, (when they actually attend class) chat loudly and distract other students, earn low marks in their classes, then complain that their professors are stupid or picking on them. Researchers have been as yet unable to specify whether the student's behaviour leads to DMS, or vice versa.

Graduation rates of students with DMS are generally low. Those who do graduate have often majored in Exercise Science or secretly majored in Small Engine Repair at the local tech school and just hang around the university to feel cool. It is yet unknown what, if anything, DMS sufferers are capable of doing for a career outside of the university setting, as graduates or dropouts.

Prejudice codes prohibit the university from preventing students with DMS from attending, so they tend to arrive in droves for the first and second years of a student's education, providing ample funding for the university without requiring anything in return from their educators. Their numbers graciously begin to taper off at the end of the sophomore year, dwindle during the third, and are almost completely eradicated by the end of the final of four standard undergraduate years. Some graduates are in fact DMS Survivors, brave and enduring students who worked hard to rid themselves of their incapacitating syndrome--and these graduates should be applauded. More often, however, DMS sufferers succumb to their weakness and earn only their MRS or TKE certificates. DMS is a serious problem among youths aspiring for popularity in an overpopulated university setting. Be Safe! Avoid Excessive Partying! Only YOU can prevent yourself from contracting Dangling Mandible Syndrome!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Hairy Animals

A cloned Afghan Hound was born recently to a yellow labrador retriever in South Korea. I find the Afghan fitting for this task--they inherently have a look of incredulity on their faces. Now, in addition to not being able to take his silly haircut seriously, the pup can also look appropriate when folks try to convince him, in proper red-headed stepchild fashion, that that's really his mom.

(Example Afghan--not actual cloned dog)


I'm sure any frequent reader of this blog is well aware by now of my "pain=no" policy. Pain is your body's way of telling you that it doesn't like something and therefore you shouldn't do it, i.e. putting a hand down atop a hot stove, flossing, and sit-ups. Unfortunately, however, this policy cannot be an end-all and must contain a number of exceptions. Namely, aerobic exercise.

I took my first aerobics class today at the Blatt PE center. The instructor was friendly and well-prepared and led me and about fifteen other girls through a vigorous initial workout. I struggled to recall the area of my brain that simply watched and followed and did not attempt to rationalize or think through my actions--up crunch down down up kick down down...if i thought too much, i realized, i would feel the pain in my legs. if i just watched the instructor's feet and aped her movements my brain could wander off into its own little ethereal world and ignore the beginnings of what i can only hope is the merciless slaughter of the colonies of fat cells currently residing in my thighs. I got confused several times, there's one sequence i still can't get my head around, but it went fairly well until the cool-down.

Dammit if the woman didn't include crunches in her cool-down. I hate crunches. Everyone hates them--with good reason. They hurt. We probably did about fifty, some with feet in the air, some side to could have been worse, but that doesn't mean i have to like it. Youre straining and pulling and the instructor tells you not to use your neck but the tendons holding your head up hurt anyway and you start to go cross-eyed and you're looking to your classmates to see if someone--anyone--looks as miserable as you do and your hair is dripping sweat onto the new foam mat you've lain out for yourself and oh god you have to reach for your shoelaces but your fricking feet are up in the air somewhere...and then she says "feet down, pull your fingers as far from your toes as you can--breathe deeply." and its all better. the endorphin rush is worth it as you roll your head from side to side and half wonder if your water bottle is still cold.

A few minutes later one of my knees started feeling twanged and i realized that my natural high was crashing to the ground, but i didn't mind. I'd been feeling kinda mopey before the class but somehow beating my fat self up in the step-aerobics classroom really helped me feel nice about the world.

And then it hit me.

Goth Kids! Miserable pubescents who feel like life is worthless! Girls who feel unpretty and are contemplating suicide! STOP CUTTING YOURSELF! Aerobics HURT JUST AS MUCH but LEAVE NO SCARS to impair your ability to gain employment once you grow out of it! Join the Y! Sign up for a class! You'll want to leave your white face powder and black eyeshadow at home or all the sweating will cause your eyes to burn. Of course, if you're into pain maybe you should put on more. And when you're done beating the shit out of your sad little self you'll get such a rush of joy from your body Thanking you for Stopping that you might even crack a SMILE. Try it! It hurts!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

wally world

Wal-Mart. Say it aloud. Wal-Mart. It reaches the ears like a curse or an insult. The word itself elicits so many deeply buried memories of waiting in line, cheap hubcaps, dissolving clothing, and spoiled milk that frequent use of it can drive one into therapy. You're not just waiting in line to check out--oh no, if that were the case wal-mart would be just like any other store. No, here you have to wait in line to get into an aisle to pick out toilet paper. Here you can't buy bug spray without a group of hispanic men ogling you and making comments to one another in Spanish. While you pick out running shorts from randomly arranged selections of bright pink poly/cotton blends in sizes 2 to 56 you are serenaded by some helpless infant screaming her head off, cursing God for landing her in this hell we dare call convenience shopping.

I visited Wal-Mart this afternoon, I bought my $5 shorts and my moments-from-wilting broccoli, and i kept myself from screaming by reciting in my head, over and over, "what would the Fonz do? He'd be cool, man--he'd be cool."

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Back in Columbia. Lord its hot. I'm really starting to hate it here. Its like the fates are laughing at me for thinking i could have that which was unattainable--Ha! you thought you could have good friends, a happy relationship, interesting and challenging classes, beautiful scenery, and the appeal of being international? Now we will punish you with searing heat, ugly boys, pretentious fellow students, minimum-wage manual labor, religious nutjobs, and no free parking. MUA HA HA HA.

Its really not horrible bad here, but i am lonely. I'll be ASMing* The Cherry Orchard for Theatre South Carolina mainstage in October. I have my old job in the scene shop back, and my new boss (old ATD**, now TD***) is happy to see me. I may be running some lights and/or sound in the lab theatre for extra moola. I'm going to a ropes course with the CGC**** on Sunday morning so hopefully i'll get to know some crazy neato foreigners. (i, however, am not a foreigner anymore. i must get over this.) My directing class looks interesting and challenging, but i have a lot of friends in the class so hopefully i won't resent attending. The design class looks interesting, but unfortunately the prof has a tendency to ramble along on tangents and expects the students to pay attention while he does so. (i've had him before and he's pretty much just tolerated by the rest of the staff--oh well) I'm not sure about the rest but hopefully they'll be exciting, or at least worth attending. Man i hope no one is wasting their time with this--i'm just babbling.

*Assistant Stage Managing
**Assistant Technical Director
***Technical Director
****Carolinas Global Community, aka USC's on-campus international housing. Interestingly, all of my flatmates are American in a neighborhood intended for american students to live harmoniously with internationals... just like at Kent. I think there's a conspiracy going on.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

sporting equipment

I'm fairly sure the only way to make the futility of a running machine more pronounced is to make it actually go in circles. In fact, the footholds of an elliptical cross-trainer do go in circles. Such is life. That said, i use them all the time. not because my neighborhood isn't safe or because i prefer to work out in air conditioning or out of the sun, but because of my knees.
Who'd a thunk it? I don't have the worst knees of all time but there's no sense in making them worse. Cross trainers take the impact of running away from the knees and redirect it to the hips, which makes working out much less painful. Anyone who has heard my philosophy of "pain equals no" may recognize that i appreciate this greatly. As it is my knees are troublesome joints and have a tendency to slip, often without warning. It occurred to me moments ago while climbing a staircase that the quality of my joints actually keeps me out of what would otherwise be a potentially viable career option. I am speaking, naturally, of burglary.
A quality thief must be stealthy, quick, agile, and careful. I am none of these things, but above all of these qualities is the ability to be silent. Quiet is a valuable asset in the field of cat burglary and i, however light my step or shallow my breath, can't keep my knees from creaking and giving me away. I'm the audible equivalent of a walking bowl of Rice Krispies. My inability to move without snapping, crackling, and/or popping would have the police on me in seconds.
Now i guess that inability doesn't eliminate me from the field of armed robbery, but what's the glory in that? Pointing a gun at someone and shouting "give me your money, jewels, and other valuables" really doesn't take a whole lot of skill or artistry. Whatever one's career choice, I feel they should be able to take some pride in it--whether it's in its challenge, its earnings, or at the very least its honesty. And as armed robbery is some of the most dishonest work one can come by, it is rarely challenging until you're caught, and the money invovled in it is seldom more than pocket change, one can hardly call it rewarding. Though i may reach a point in life at which i am desperate for money to eat, i'm not too proud to ask the government for help, or perhaps my parents.
And there's the rub for armed robbers--beside the criminally insane, no person who is not desperate to provide for himself would feel any inclination to threaten others' lives or well-being on the behalf of their own. Destitution is unfortunately the stomping grounds of Egocentrism--one is not selfish, but rather the individual becomes unconcerned with how their actions affect others. The world does not exist beyond the wants and needs of the individual, so they are capable of acting in ways that could be harmful to others without remorse. Armed robbers and other such pitiful individuals--subway pickpockets, credit information hackers, middle managers, sexual predators--may in fact be humanity's closest link to the primal world. They rely solely on Freud's Id to govern their actions, and do not allow conscience, reason, or knowledge to interfere. And this does make perfect sense, really, if you consider the Id's tendency to overtake the senses in moments of panic (the "fight or flight" impulse). Thus if one is habitually living in situations that would cause the body and mind to panic--say, without food where there once was food--the mind is opened to allow the Id to reign superior over the introspective--and frequently useless--mental functions such as logic and love.
With the suspension of logic comes higher instance of this id-dominated lifestyle failing. A person making rash decisons does not stop to consider the consequences of their actions--indeed, to them there Are no consequences. The only job their panicked brain has given them is to Get That which is Needed. Only when the goal has been met can the cognitive components of the brain kick in to suggest that perhaps this wasn't a great idea and it may be time to flee the scene, which of course invites panic and allows the animal centres of the brain to take over again. Really, the human parts of the brain are serious pansies. Anyway, that brief interval after the completion of a job is rarely sufficient time to mull over the consequences of one's actions and how to evade any repercussions, if necessary, so the escape route is often half-baked. Which simplifies the apprehension of criminal offenders who act out of desperation.
Which makes the apprehension of lunatics that much harder. Terrorists, serial killers, embezzlers, and spousal abusers are not desperate. They are not responding to the needs of their body--they often perform their particular crime for the sheer hell of doing it. because its fun or somehow rewarding. (or in the case of some lunatics, they feel that they will be rewarded in another life) Thus they are not acting instinctively or without prior contemplation--they are in full charge of their faculties of reason and societal interaction. They've already come up with a plan B or a means of escape. The fact that they're prepared means they're already on par with the law, and the fact that they're insane puts them a step ahead.
Er...somewhere back there i was talking about my knees. Oh well.