Friday, February 23, 2007


I just wrote a ridiculously large check to my student loan company. Don't ever go to grad school, for the love of god.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I don't have much to say... Just that finally, after almost nine months of being mostly bad or nonexistant, my practicing has been going ridiculously well lately.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Ooh, searches today for "the machismo of the midwest" and "ambivalent about marriage". Nice!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

happy valentine's...

This is from my friend Raquel's blog.
A Date with John Waters

Ms. Gender Studies

That's what Tabitha calls me when I haven't seen some movie that deals with gender that I probably would want to watch, like The Crying Game or Transamerica. So yesterday, we finally watched Stage Beauty, the 2004 movie with Claire Danes and Billy Crudup. In 17th century London, after years of women being banned from performing on the stage, the king reverses his edict and bans men from playing women. Crudup plays the current most famous lady of the stage, Ned Kynaston, and Danes plays his dresser and aspiring actress Maria. It's kind of like a reversed version of Shakespeare in Love, except instead of a woman playing a man, it's a man playing a woman (and a woman playing a man playing a woman, to ill effect; Maria plays Desdemona like Kynaston and fails to capture the hearts of her audiences).
This is not a totally historically accurate movie, of course. Kynaston really was a famous leading lady, and Margaret Hughes (Maria's stage name) was perhaps the first professional female actress, although not Kynaston's dresser or lover. From what I read, men weren't banned from performing as women, just strongly discouraged or looked down upon. And the acting style that has evolved by the end of the film is much more realistic (a style which didn't really start until the 19th century, I think) than the stylized 17th century performances given on stage at the beginning of the movie. But what the hell, it's a romantic comedy of sorts, right?
What's really interesting is the gender stuff that happens in between or during so many of the inportant scenes. Kynaston's performances, for instance, are a very stylized version of "woman". When Maria first talks to him after he discovers that she's been performing, he asks her if she knows "...the Five Positions of Feminine Subjugation. No? Perhaps you're more acquainted with the Pose of Tragic Acceptance. Or the Demeanor of Awe and Terror. " Another oft-cited line is his: "A woman playing a woman. Where's the trick in that?" (He fails to note that he is not really playing a woman; he is playing a stage version of a woman, which is entirely different. It's like a 17th century drag queen, in truth.) There is a great conversation between the two during which he says he can only act as a woman because then he can act beautifully. He says that men do terrible things, and he wants no part of it. Maria takes on his views of women, telling him that his portrayal of Desdemona is one she has never liked because he never fights, just dies. "A woman would fight!" she screams at him before running from the room. (She shows this quite viscerally later in the film.)
Kynaston shows a rather ambiguous gender and sexuality that is fleshed out as the film progresses. He begins by joining two ladies in a carriage and encouraging them to touch his penis to prove he is not a castrato, but is soon in an empty theater making out with the Duke of Buckingham onstage while wearing a long blond wig. Before an entrance, somebody whispers to him that he is "a man in woman's form. Or is it the other way around?" He seems at a loss himself. One of my favorite scenes (for all that it seemed a slightly implausible scenario) concerns Maria asking him what exactly two men do in bed together. (He claims that with two men, one acts the woman and one acts the man, but whatever... It was supposed to be the 17th century, so I'll let him slide on that one.) What follows is a series of shots of the two in different poses (her sitting on his ass, him holding himself up over her back, then over her front, and so on) with him articulating who is the man and who is the woman. During the final scene, when they are finally and inevitably kissing, she asks him what he is now, and he replies "I don't know" and they both look just fine with that. All in all, a fun and interesting movie that teasingly addresses gender while still telling a good story.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


So my very late Christmas present from Anna was, interestingly, a book about marriage. "The Commitment" by Dan Savage is a look at (as he says on the cover) "love, sex, marriage, and my family". Savage has lived with his boyfriend Terry for ten years (they have a six-year-old adopted son, D.J.) and the book more or less opens with a debate as to whether they should get married or just get matching tattoos saying "Property of [insert boyfriend's name here]" on their arms. They are of the tattoo camp, while most of the immediate family leans towards marriage or nothing. ("You know what tattoos you should get? 'Property of D.J.' because you're my dads" says their son, who is opposed to gay marriage due to school socialization but would come to the reception and eat cake.) The debate ranges between discussions with Savage's older brother, who's in a long-term relationship that doesn't involve marriage, kids, monogamy, or even co-habitation, to debunking statements made by opponents of homosexuality (For instance, "If everyone were gay, the human race would be finished in fifty years." As Savage says, "A sane person might think that the long, sordid history of heterosexuality, and the current human population of six billion, is all the evidence we need that human beings will never tire of the heterosexual act.").
Savage's snarky comments and conversations with astute family members are all well and good, but to me what was the most interesting was the discussion of what exactly marriage is. What does it mean, really? What is it about? Health insurance and end-of-life decisions? Kids? Monogamy? Love, god forbid? All of these things exist, in some form and some of the time anyway, without the existance of marriage. And marriages exist without any of these things. Opponents of gay marriage (at least some of them) like to say that if gay people could get married then next people would be able to marry, say, sheep. Proponents of gay marriage like to point out that any random man and woman can get married and automatically have rights in regards to each other that gay couples of decades can't access. Both seem rather equally preposterous to me.
I've always felt rather ambivalent about marriage, at least since I started thinking about it critically. Ultimately, I just never really saw the point. A big expensive party so that if you break up a few years down the road you can have a big expensive divorce, so that your bond with another person can be acknowledged by god/the government/other people who already know you're in love if they're at your wedding in the first place? I do understand the problems that can be more easily resolved by a marriage license (adoption, insurance, citizenship, and the like), but I can't get rid of the feeling that the ceremony and the end benefits don't quite jibe. What is marriage: love or social perks? Why do those things have to go together? Why the governmental sanction for a document that purports to signify emotional connection to another person?
I don't mean to sound so pessimistic or bitter or down on marriage. This book actually made me feel a lot more kindly towards the desire for that kind of formal commitment, but it also made me feel even more internally divided on how I personally would handle that kind of decision in my own life. Love is grand, no doubt, but would I ever want to stand in front of a room of friends and family and talk about it? If I could, would I get married? Even while my understandings become (hopefully) more nuanced, I still couldn't say.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

fall of a vegan

I know I've written about this so many times... But I just can't get over the way veganism changed my food perceptions. My latest re-discovery: cream cheese. God. It's just so weird to observe my fluctuations over time. I felt fairly ambivalent about cream cheese for most of my life (especially after my stint at Breugger's Bagels), then I was totally down with fake cream cheese for a long time, and now real cream cheese tastes like heaven. That and yogurt and ice cream... I'm kind of afraid to try cottage cheese.
Sometime soon when I'm feeling more motivated, I'm going to write about marriage and a book I recently read. But for now, I'm going to make soup and practice for my far-too-soon Civic audition.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

hell hath frozen

It's supposed to feel like it's -24 tonight. Holy shit. The annoying no-details-given-out-until-the-last-possible-minute gig that I've been stressed about just got a little worse. Maybe I should get another car?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

another week dissipates

I can't sleep.
This week (and last, I guess, but for the sake of brevity I'll ignore that): A memorial service, a car accident (not involving me), hookahs, sleeplessness, terrible rehearsals, the unknown-details gig from hell that is stressing me out. I'm on here tonight in hopes of catching a friend on AIM who's in Japan and who I never seem to coincide with, and right now is no exception. After Monday, my life will be a veritable void of worklessness (thank god for stipends where you get paid regardless of hours worked), but for now I feel a little angsty. Anyway... Sorry, it's 3:06 AM. Gross.