APRIL 2003

Tuesday, April 29, 2003
It will be interesting to see how Apple's new music service plays out (no pun intended). On the one hand, I think there does need to be some kind of "regularizing" of computer audio to keep the music industry up to date. (Some may say that we don't need the music industry, but that's another debate for another day.) So here's the first good attempt: reasonable pricing, good interface, good selection, good quality, and no stupid subscriptions.

But on the other hand, it's not free, and there's none of that illegal counterculture thrill that you get from downloading off the gnutella-supported app of your choice. Okay, maybe you don't get a thrill from it, but I enjoy it. Other people smoke dope, I download Roseanne Cash tunes. Whatever. Anyway, it's free and easy to just download off LimeWire or the like, and even though some of the files don't sound great, you eventually find files that do sound good.

Ultimately, of course, it's a matter of personal ethics: do you download illegally and not feel a single twinge of guilt? Or can you buy a clean conscience for 99¢ per song? Like I said, it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Sunday, April 27, 2003
The new "teen" "drama" Better Luck Tomorrow wouldn't normally hold any interest for me, but one of the actors in it is this guy Parry Shen. We went to the same college at the same time, and while we weren't friends and didn't hang out, we did work at the same place at the same time for a little while. I remember having one or two conversations with him, and I remember he kept going on and on and on about how he loved acting and how he wanted to do movies and move to California and blah blah blah. I didn't think much of it and just chalked it up to another guy who wants to be a big star, but it looks like he actually did it. I probably won't see the movie, but I guess it's good to see a fellow UB grad doing well.

An otherwise good weekend spoiled by a nasty scratch on my car. Right down to the metal, too, like it was keyed. It was done by one of the neighborhood kids on her bike, and it was an accident, and her mom has offered to have it fixed. It wasn't done maliciously, and it's not like I drive a BMW, so I don't feel like I can be too mad, but it's still annoying. Wednesday, April 23, 2003
On Monday, I was doing a music program at a local middle school, and as I was walking in, some older teacher asked me if I was a visiting student from the high school. And then yesterday, I was paying for my groceries at the supermarket, and I had some mac and cheese, and the girl working said something about how in college, you just want to cook simple. So I am thinking of wearing a sign with my age on it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Another day.

Monday, April 21, 2003
Some movies I've seen recently:

Bend it Like Beckham: The longest afterschool special that wasn't an afterschool special, the most cliches thrown into one film, and the most predictable movie ever. What the hell is everyone raving about? It was all "No, you will not play football/soccer" and "My mum doesn't know I'm here" and "No proper Indian boy wants to marry a girl who plays sports" and "People will think you're a lesbian if you play football/soccer" and blah blah blah. Shut up. Just shut up already. I gave myself a headache from rolling my eyes so much.

Scratch: Cool documentary about the history of scratch DJ-ing, with lots of fun sounds and many shots of Queens (the NY borough, not hairy men in sequined dresses). And there's lots in there with Qbert, who is both cute and cute...I mean a really good DJ with lots of dope beats and stuff. Yes, good, watch.

Pauline & Paulette: Unbelievably charming Flemish movie about a mentally impaired woman and the sister she loves more than anything in the world. Simple but profound, it's just very...nice. Worth renting, and it's safe for the whole family (as long as they don't mind the subtitles).

The 400 Blows: I'm probably the last person in the universe to see this movie. How come I never saw any Truffaut movies in college? Probably because I was too busy reading Kerouac in poser coffeehouses. (Feh.) So unbelievably French, I wanted a baguette and a tipped cigarette when it was over.

Friday, April 18, 2003
Virtual capture the flag...sort of: Today in the community college class that I teach, I talked about different kinds of web pages. I brought up blogs and how they're immensely popular, and told my class to go take a look at some if they got a chance. So let's see how resourceful you are. If you are in my ENG 155 class on Friday mornings and you are the first person to email me at this address, I will give you an extra ten points on your final exam, just for being so clever. Only if you're the first, though, so only one of you can earn an extra ten points. If you're not in my class (and I'm guessing most of you reading this are not), I can't give you ten points, but you're still welcome to take my final exam.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003
I've seen the ads for that new show Mr. Personality, and with all due respect to the producers, I think they've got it wrong. The premise of the show is that a woman meets with different men to determine which one she likes best, but she can't see what they look like until she chooses one based on his personality. Sure, but I think American society has already determined that women are less interested in looks than men are, as evidenced by the staggering number of topless bars, pornography websites and magazines, and shoes with heels so high that no woman could possibly walk in them. The number of strip clubs featuring naked men is far lower (I'm talking about clubs intended for women rather than for gay men), and I haven't heard of any women with boxes and boxes of Playgirls under their beds. If the producers of this show really wanted to run an experiment, they'd have a man choose from a pool of women wearing masks. Although, they'd have to cover the women's bodies with mumus to account for the butt/boob/leg fixation that the show's male will inevitably have.

I just got funky new sheets and they are totally cool. Oh, I am turning into such a housewares nerd.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Starting at midnight tonight, Pharmacia is officially Pfizer. Not normally a big deal, but Pharmacia employs thousands of people here in Kalamazoo, so lots of people are freaking out about potentially getting laid off. And everyone around here knows at least one or two people who work for Pharmacia, so everyone's a little on edge. They're switching the signs outside of the two Pharmacia campuses tonight. I am very tempted to get some photos or video footage of this, but part of me is scared that I'll get arrested for trespassing.

Monday, April 14, 2003
Lovely & Amazing was really good, but man, what a downer! I watched it last night and was so depressed when it was over that I couldn't possibly go to sleep. Still, definitely worth seeing: it brings up issues of women's perceptions of beauty without being heavy-handed, which is nice, and Catherine Keener is excellent in it.

The good news? I bought these popsicles, and they're bubble-gum flavored, even though they taste more like cotton candy, and they're ice-pops, so there's no fat, and the stick that the ice-pop sits on is a stick of gum! So after you're done with the ice-pop, you get gum! And there's no stick to throw away! What's better than that? Oh, I am so happy that I found these. Is there anything modern science can't do?

Sunday, April 13, 2003
Interesting article in today's New York Times Magazine about out-of-work male executives and how they're coping. Part of me does feel bad for these guys: they've all got advanced degrees and years of experience working high-level, high-paying jobs, yet all the people interviewed for the story have been out of work for over a year. That's hard when you've got a family and can be even harder, the author explains, on the male ego. But part of me wonders how well these guys treated the people who worked underneath them when they had these high-level, high-paying jobs, and who they stepped on to get said jobs, and if they ever looked at homeless people in disgust and wondered why the hell they weren't working. That part of me thinks it's good for them to be unemployed and to surrender their pride to work an hourly job.

Thursday, April 10, 2003
Trekkies totally totally totally rocked! I know it's mean to laugh at people, but these die-hard Star Trek fans are hysterical. The movie is a documentary about these people and the whole Trek phenomenon, and while the people in it aren't setting out to be funny, it's hard not to laugh at how seriously they take the show. Very recommended for Trek fans and non-Trek fans alike, and you can learn more about it at the movie site.

What's wrong with this picture, part 2 in a series of misplaced rap songs: My neighbor's five-year-old daughter came home singing the "Go shorty" section of 50 Cent's In Da Club.

Tuesday, April 8, 2003
If I had lots of money to buy furniture for my new apartment, I would buy most of it from Funky Sofa. The prices aren't too bad, but the shipping costs will kill you, just like it killed and that website that used to sell coffins. But alas, I don't have lots of money to buy furniture, and so I buy from Ikea. Which is okay by me.

Something my friend and I noticed when we were in Chicago: People do most of their drinking of tomato juice on planes. I'm not talking about bloody marys -- I'm talking about straight, plain tomato juice. You could not buy or even think about tomato juice for years, but once you're on a plane, you get a strange craving for it, some woman across the aisle asks for one, and suddenly you find yourself looking down at a red and white Campbell's pop-top can. I think this is because of the low commitment factor. When you buy tomato juice at the store, you buy a big bottle, commiting yourself to having tomato juice every day for a week. But drinking tomato juice gets less and less appealing with each passing day; it's a perfect example of the law of diminishing returns that you learned about in high school economics. Anyway, it gets gross, and you have to pay for it. On planes, you can still get a free non-alcoholic drink, and it's a single serving, and they almost always have cans of tomato juice. So you're not paying for it (not counting the price of your ticket, of course), and you're not stuck with a big bottle of it. When you think about it, tomato juice is like the person you make out with during spring break: a one- or two-time thing, no commitment, and no money spent.

Although now I am remembering that my grandma frequently keeps tomato juice in the house.

Sunday, April 6, 2003
I wanted to like Roger Dodger, but it was really annoying, pretentious, and over-written.I understand that Campbell Scott is supposed to be an asshole, and I understand that we, the audience, are supposed to take the point of view of his naive nephew, and I understand that there's supposed to be a whole lot of clever irony in the script, but it was just bad. And all the hand-held camera work kind of made me dizzy; I might have been nauseous if I watched it on a screen bigger than my laptop's. I know it looks like a good movie, but do yourself a big favor and skip it. There are better ways to spend 106 minutes. (If you give me a minute, I can probably think of 106 better ways.)

And what the hell is Dylan Baker doing in a shitty-but-otherwise-normal sitcom like The Pitts? After his role as the pervy child-abusing dad in Happiness, I have a hard time seeing him in any other role, especially any other father role. I can't get the image of him in the back seat of his car getting it on with a Tiger Beat out of my head. Good movie, but icky.

Saturday, April 5, 2003
Look up. Another photo I took in Chicago, with a little Photoshop overlay magic to make the colors more intense. This is the bridge between the two wings of the Wrigley Building (I think). Useful, to be sure, but I think it would have been a lot cooler if they played on the name recognition and made it look like a pack of Wrigley's gum on the bottom. You know...walk across it, it's normal, see it from the side, it's normal, but walk under it and it's a giant pack of JuicyFruit.

Chicago is packed with people in the summer, but when it's cold out, as it was last weekend and still is this weekend, there aren't so many people out and about. And it really is windy; I'm just starting to lose the windburn on my face.

Thursday, April 3, 2003
Not a grape cookie. Chicago was way cool. There was a big cardiology conference in town, so there were hundreds of heart surgeons, pharmaceutical reps, and other medical-type people in town, mostly male, and all with Lipitor-sponsored conference briefcase-type bags. At the front door of one of the hotels was this permasmile character. We thought it might be a cookie or something, but it's a happy platelet. I guess anyone can have a mascot, even cardiologists.

There was also a conference in town about having more affordable conferences -- a conference about conferences, or a meta-conference, if you will. Unfortunately, we saw the trade show floor at the end of the conference, just as they were starting to break everything down. I don't know if they had a mascot. I like to think that they did, and that it was a wormy looking guy with bad hairplugs in a cheap suit. (That's the image I get when I think of trying to save company money.)

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