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Monday, August 29, 2005

Buffy redux

I would first like to revise my assertion of two days ago that Fundies are insane. It turns out that everyone ever associated with my school is insane. Except me. I am the shining beacon of totally normal in a vast darkness of totally crazy. Now, then.

Alumnus Will Baude, who apparently has been secretly lurking at my blog as I occasionally lurk at his, has come to Buffy's defense in the face of my accusation of questionable slaying practices. He claims that Buffy is actually commendably efficient in cornering her share of the market, which is specifically vampires.
"Then again, she is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Some monsters are outside of her specialty, and she deals with them on an ad hoc basis."
This might be narrowly correct, however, I would point out a defect in this line of thinking. One must recognize the basic vacuum in the non-vampire demon slaying supply. If there were other slayer-type girls assigned to other specialties--hyena cult slayer, preying mantis woman slayer, etc.--this would make sense. However, there is only the slayer, the Chosen One. While this may be poor economic planning on the part of the powers of Good, we must come to terms with the appalling lack of specialization in the evil-fighting realm. (The demons, on the other hand, are admirably specialized, but they cannot seem to grasp the efficiency-maximizing possibilities of comparative advantage and instead seem to all work towards the same ill-fated goal of killing Buffy in different ways.) Ultimately, we are forced to assume that the technical title is deceptive, and the job description articulated in the little narrated preface to the first season's episodes (the one that begins "in every generation...") does in fact include a broad range of ghosts and goblins under the umbrella of vampire slayage.

And no, I have totally never taken an econ class before. However, Alex and I have moved on to season two DVDs now. Whatever I missed out on in my edumacation can easily be compensated for by the Buffy-Angel/Giles-Calender/Xander-Cordelia drama unfolding on the idiot box.

Official Squirrel Ratings

Via UD, the most comprehensive and thorough form of college rankings ever: Campus Squirrel Listings. Our fair University of Chicago does, as on all rankings, respectably but not incredibly.
Chicago native Allan Levite informs me that the U of C has a large campus on the South Side of the city, inhabited by gray squirrels, most of whom are tame and eager to accept handouts. They are particularly adept at raiding the wastebaskets. He saw one of them dragging off an entire large slice of pizza that someone had tossed in an outdoor wastebasket after taking two or three bites from it. Many of the gothic, graystone campus buildings are vine-covered, and the squirrels can climb up these easily if a dog should appear.
I like the little syntactical trick of substituting the term "tame" where the term "aggressive killers" would be more appropriate. "They are particularely adept at raiding the wastebaskets"? Try, "they are particularly adept at leaping out of trash cans to eat unsuspecting passerby" instead. However, it is interesting that vines protect squirrels from dogs, isn't it? So, if I happened to destroy all the ivy and happened to unleash a pack of coyotes on the quad, the squirrels might happen to disappear? Interesting, indeed.

Having spent most of the weekend glued to our living room couch watching the first season of Buffy on DVD, I am now officially retarded and capable only of analyzing the politics of demon-slaying. For example, the Jeremy half of Jerayesha and I have become concerned at the lack of preventative slaying occuring on the show. While Buffy may "kick ass" in a relative sense, we feel that, as a matter of public policy, she is not doing enough to prevent the initial massacres that alert her to the presence of blood-sucky things in town. There are, on average, two dead students and a dead (or eaten) teacher per episode before Buffy and Company even realize that evil is afoot. This is, we feel, an unacceptably high mortality rate. We don't understand why Sunnydale remains such a nice place to live when such frequent demon attacks would surely drive down real estate values. Alex, however, offers the following counterargument: "Rita, shut the hell up."

"Principal Flutie would've said kids need understanding. Kids are human beings. That's the kind of woolly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten."
--Principal Snyder

"Does she stuff her bra?"
--Jeremy, on watching a Buffy fight scene

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Since this was promised to someone, so it shall be blogged. Last night, I went to a Fundies party. Well, at least a distinct part of it was a Fundies party. The rest was a general amalgamation of every Chicago student staying in Hyde Park over the summer. The Fundies part, however, was the most, shall we say, "blogworthy." (Actually, this is not exactly true. The non-Fundies group had some excellent conversations, like which Ninja Turtle one should be, should one ever be in the position to be a Ninja Turtle. But I digress.) The Fundies party was a lot like a Fundies class, just with alcohol instead of a professor. It began with this exchange:
"So, you're a history major?"
"Yeah."
"That's too bad."
"Why?"
"You just describe things; you never create them."
"So, basically, because I'm not a Fundamentals major?"
"Yes."
And it somehow ended with $2 cheeseburgers next to an underpass on 31st Street, and a conversation about yelling offensive things out car windows:
"What's wrong with you? Just say it. Aren't you beyond good and evil?"
"You're not beyond good and evil either. You're just rude. Being a prick is not being beyond good and evil."

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Some deep thoughts on Plato for Julia

While looking through old class doodles notes for something the other day, I came across one of my frequent instances of artistic brilliance--the Greek cartoon series. The Greek cartoon series was supposed to be an expanding exercise to help me practice Greek when I was otherwise not supposed to be practicing Greek, like in my not Greek classes. It failed to expand, however, because I failed to learn Greek. All I ever ended up with were a lot of drawings of a duck saying, "Apokteinoh icthoos!" (I kill fish!) while the fish swimming nearby said, "Phobeomai!" (I am scared!). In hindsight, I'm pretty sure that the case and number of "icthoos" was incorrect, as was perhaps the contraction of "phobeomai." By the end of the year, I switched to drawings of Socrates, as illustrated below. In this work, we see a man with very disproportionate limbs wearing what appears to be a miniskirt. He is saying to Socrates, "Socrates, you are wise." Next to him is Socrates, in tennis shoes and a bedsheet, saying, "I know." The fact that Socrates never admitted to being wise is a detail much overshadowed by the fact that he also never wore tennis shoes.



Perhaps I should've stuck with the farm animal marching band series, or the caricaturing my professors series? Well, there is always next year.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hopefully not the soon-to-be MRS. Self-Important

Shortly before I turned 20, my parents apparently got it into their heads that, if I don't get married very soon, I will never get married at all. Suddenly, matchmaking became extremely urgent, and because I did not seem to be actively doing any of my own, they decided that they would join forces with my extended family to do it for me. This has generally manifested itself in offers to "set me up" with a friend of a relative, or, better yet, the relative himself. My parents do not think the latter is that odd, since it is how they met each other, there being an apparent shortage of unrelated Jews in Russia who suited my mother's tastes (and I will leave you on your own to ponder the implications of that match on their offspring).

When I was last in Israel, for example, I was "set up" with a friend of my second cousin's under the pretense of being able to talk with someone who actually spoke English so I wouldn't have to play Pictionary with my great aunt to explain what I wanted for dinner. He was a nice guy, and also about 25 years old and living in Israel. I thought we were just hanging out for an evening, but my great aunt is still calling my mother to ask if we've been in touch since. However, when I'm not being slyly duped into being set up, I refuse to participate. My mother--being at the same time very concerned that I have not yet produced grandchildren for her, and that this is 2005 in America and it might be ok not to be married at 20, especially to one's own relatives--seems to have mixed feelings about arranging my (apparently imminent) marriage. On the one hand, she relays the set-up offers to me. On the other, she is not particularly enthusiastic about my accepting them. Thus, the conversations go something like this:

Mother: Your grandmother called and says she knows someone in America who she wants to set you up with.
Me: How does she know anyone in America?
Mother: She says it's your aunt's husband's nephew. He went to college in the States and now he's working.
Me: So, he's 35?
Mother: Yeah, most likely. And he probably also wants a Greencard.
Me: Awesome.
Father: If he's working here, he doesn't need a Greencard.
Me: But he's still 35?
Father: Maybe.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

In which we spotlight Porkchop

Former, Future, and Legally Current Roommate Julia has complained that my blog is getting ridiculous. "It's bad enough knowing that you're reading Montaigne over summer break, I don't want to even look at some dribble over Plato if I don't have to," she says. And because Julia is a much more loyal, sensible, and important reader of my blog than all these new anonymous hordes, Julia's preferences get priority. Also, because I suffer from severe diarhhea of the mouth and she does not, she knows where I live, everyone I've ever been almost-but-not-really-in-love-with, and all my embarassing personal neuroses including that poem about the War of 1812, whereas I have very little dirt on her. On balance, Julia could blackmail me for way more money than I could ever blackmail her for. Therefore, what Julia says goes, and when she says the blog is getting ridiculous, we must agree. Therefore, we will turn now to blogging about Julia Who Is Sometimes Called Porkchop.

Julia and I were roommates first year. We alternately got along very well and very badly. She claims that, after I sent her the following introductory email a month before school began, she had good reason not to like me:
I guess I should introduce myself and all, but I'll keep it short. I'm Rita. I'm from the suburbs of Chicago. I am not very nice, but I'm not so terrible that you'll require a room change...at least not right away. I'm not sure what else would be relevant here, so if you want to know something in particular, feel free to ask. I hope you're not a flaming liberal hippie or we might have some problems. So, who are you?

And, who's bringing the refrigerator?

--Rita

(Don't worry; I'm really not as evil as I sound. Maybe.)
I maintain that this email was a perfectly acceptable and honest introduction, and she overreacted. She responds that I have no conception of how to appropriately communicate in the real world with normal people who are not socially retarded like me. I will grant this point.

Because Julia was correct about this, and I hoped in college to avoid pissing off every person I ever met as I'd done in high school, she was named my social secretary. Her job was to read over my emails before I sent them to my professors to make sure that I got across the tone I intended to get across, which was generally not "You suck," although this is how it frequently came out. Her job was made more difficult by the fact that she could not preventatively intervene for me when I accidentally said stupid things to my professors in person, so on top of regular correspondence, she had to edit all the apology emails I wrote when I felt rotten for insulting my professors. In hindsight, this must've been a lot of work.

Julia is also an excellent person to gossip with because she does not suffer from any kind of annoying guilt about occasionally being totally shallow. Julia agrees that most people at this school are mutants, and that it's totally bizarre that all the mutants have thriving love lives with each other, and Ventriloquist Boy is dating Bucktooth Girl, while we, who are at least in our own minds normal, have no lives at all. But at least we can mock them, as well as all the pretentious class fuckers who will all probably be more sucessful than us in life. Except the Lawn Gnome. The Lawn Gnome will never be successful. Whereas Becky only sometimes indulges in our mockery, and sometimes tries to shame us out of it by pointing out that Ventriloquist Boy is probably a very nice person, and the Lawn Gnome is probably very lonely (all valid points, but too inconvenient to consider while we're enjoying ourselves), Julia, like me, has no qualms about being wantonly mean.

In addition to her excellent fence-mending and people-mocking skills, Julia has a better sense of direction than me. This was exemplified by the time we turned left off the Red Line stop at Cermak and walked into a neighborhood that looked nothing like Chinatown. In fact, it looked a lot like the projects. I was sure that this was fine, and we would arrive in Chinatown shortly if we just kept walking. Julia did not agree, and suggested we turn around. Finally, when people on street corners started yelling at us asking if we needed anything, it occurred to me that we probably did not need what they thought we needed, and we turned around. Whatever, Julia. My logic about turning left was correct, maybe just not the results of it. In another instance, we were driving back to school from Madison after our mini-roadtrip, and I insisted that I-290 would merge into I-90 eventually and get us right home. This time, Julia, Alex, and Becky all thought we might be lost, but I was sure we were supposed to be passing Oak Park. And, as usual, I was surely mistaken. However, I would like to point out that while I may not always (or ever) check my blind spot while switching lanes, I am not a bad driver. And my directions have at least never gotten us killed, so they aren't that bad.

And finally, Julia managed to charm my mother. This devious trick brings me no end of annoyance, because whenever Julia and I hate each other, I always complain to my mother about it, and my mother defends her. How unfair is this? She is my mother, and her maternal duty is to sympathize with her injured offspring, who is obviously innocent on all counts, and demonize the enemy. But nooo, my mother says, "Well, Rita, maybe if you weren't so mean to Julia, she wouldn't have to be mean to you."
"But Mom, it's Julia's fault! She put soap on my pillow!"
"That's because you wouldn't buy a soap dish like she asked. You deserved it."
"How do you know?"
"Because I met her, and she was very nice. You should be more like her."
However, now that Julia is going to study abroad in India, my mother thinks she is crazy, and I may start being in the right again.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Tenancy woes

I thought that by not renting from K&G, the Hyde Park management company infamous for the shittiness of its apartments and its management and its general existence, we could avoid experiencing basic apartment nightmares. This was very important, because we are young and stupid and cannot handle anything that has six or more legs, is very hot and burns our stuff (and us), or overflows out of our toilet. So we rented from what we were told was a front for the mob (the Serbian mob, it turns out) and thought we were in the clear. But alas.

I am often dispatched to talk to our landlord, who is called N (that is not actually her name, but she pronounces it like the letter N, and when in Rome...), about the frequent unhappiness for which she is mostly responsible. The conversations go like this:

Conversation #1 on phone from Washington:
Me: I was wondering when we were supposed to pay the August rent, since we haven't gotten a copy of our lease yet and you didn't give us enough time to read it while we were signing it?
Landlord N: Oh, you pay at beginning of month. If you not pay by 3rd, we charge you.
Me: Ok. So, can we have a copy of the lease?
Landlord N: Yes, but I want to wait until everyone signing it before I give it.
Me: Ok, well we all signed it already, and you told us we could have a copy when we moved in, which was two months ago.
Landlord N: Ok, I give you when you come back. But first everyone need sign it.
Me: Um, ok. Also, you told us you would send someone up to find our cable jack.
Landlord N: Oh, I already send someone.
Me: That's interesting, because no one ever came.
Landlord N: No, I send someone.
Me: Ok, also we have roaches.
Landlord N: We talk when you come back.
Me: Sure, so I'm going to pay my rent when I come back, too. And you're not going to charge me a late fee.
Landlord N: Ok.

Conversation #2 in management office:
Me: So, we finally found out cable wire without your help. It's outside my bedroom window, and the line is cut.
Landlord N: So is it in living room like I said?
Me: No, it's OUTSIDE MY WINDOW. And it's cut. And there is no entrance into our apartment, so we need to pay for installation.
Landlord N: Oh, I send my men to go look at it today, ok? Then you install.
Me: We can't install it if the cable line is cut.
Landlord N: I send my men.
Me: Right, so can I have a copy of the lease?
Landlord N: Oh, I want to wait until everyone signing it.
Me: We've already signed it.
Landlord N: Ok, let me look what I put in envelopes. (Looks through envelopes.) No, yours is not in envelope yet.
Me: I can take it without an envelope.
Landlord N: Ok, I give to you when everyone sign.
Me: WE HAVE ALL SIGNED THE LEASE.
Landlord N: I give to you when everyone come back.
Me: We won't all be here until spring. Can I have it now?
Landlord N: I give to you in September.
Me: Also, we have roaches.
Landlord N: Weather is nice today, no?

Conversation #3 on her message machine last night:
Me: Hi, this is Rita. The technician for our cable internet is here, and he says he needs to drill a hole through the building wall to install a cable jack for us BECAUSE YOU PEOPLE CUT THE CABLE FOR NO REASON BECAUSE YOU ARE ASSHOLES AND WE ARE NOT PAYING FOR THIS INSTALLATION BECAUSE IT IS NOT OUR JOB TO DRILL HOLES INTO THE BUILDING AND YOU ARE ASSHOLES. AND WE HAVE ROACHES! Call me back. Thanks, bye.

I have not yet received a response. Maybe I need to wait until we all sign the lease?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The history and theory of the novel: a short story

It's hard to argue with the wisdom of the dictum, "Write what you know." Even a cursory familiarity with the work of people who attempt to transcend the realm of their immediate understanding--high school students, for example--by writing what they do not know is enough to verify this wisdom. There are the serial suicides of every heartsick character the author has invented, and the dramatic parting words, "But they did it for love." Or else, there are Nazi invasions of small towns in New England. Whatever form such errors take, they are no less errors for it. Transgressions of art. Things to pin up on teacher's lounge "funniest of the week" bulletin boards, or to read with great earnestness at my high school's poetry slams.

When I was in high school, several people I knew announced to me that they intended to become writers. When I asked if they knew what they were going to write about, they shrugged. That was apparently only a secondary consideration. They liked to write, so they would be writers. The subject would discover itself; in the meantime, they had to nurture the budding talent within. To do so, they wrote prolific amounts of terrible poetry which they rarely showed anyone, but which they continually alluded to as a profound ongoing project. Having given up on a poetic career at 15, when I realized that everything I'd ever written would never amount to more than a source of perpetual humiliation to me, I had no such projects. I liked to write too, but I also liked Boston creme donuts. And the latter pleasure no more inclined me to aspire to become a professional donut than the former inclined me to become a writer.

Until this point, I had been fairly sure I wanted to study English in college. I always did well in it at school, I wrote well enough relative to my classmates (which, in an absolute sense, was not very well at all), and I often read very famous books which I did not understand so that I could tell people that I had read them. But when it occurred to me that I might have to write a novel some day (this being my high school conception of what "studying English" entailed), I wracked my brain for possible subjects. Unlike my friends, I was convinced that novels were primarily written in the grip of the inspiration of the subject, not simply churned out in the service of the writer's pretty prose. So, I would write what I knew. The problem is that what I happened to know was (and is) very mundane. I had never had a torrid romance, I had never killed anyone, and I had never died after a prolonged period of mental anguish. Next to love and death, my hapless experiences in gym class paled. What I knew would simply never do.

Fiction then seemed to be out of the question. Whatever my deluded friends wanted to do, I was not going to pursue a career whose success was contingent on one bright flash of inspiration that was not even guaranteed to appear. But non-fiction, there was a genre which lent itself very well to writing as churning. Pretty prose was a much-appreciated accessory, but all it seemed was really necessary were some very disciplined years in the basements of university libraries. And no gambling on phantom flashes. That's why, at 17, I decided to major in history. At least, that was a big reason. Others included the superiority of my high school history classes to their English counterparts, and my apparently permanent inability to comprehend poetry or the very famous novels I had since given up reading but still occasionally brought up in conversation.

Content with my decision, I spent the rest of high school focusing my daydreams on the glory and renown I would soon achieve as a famous historian, and how great college would be. However, people I knew had developed a very unpleasant habit of starting their "first novels" during that summer between high school and college. The novels were very much in keeping with our dictum. They wrote what they knew--being high, being in love while high, having sex while high, dealing with the consequences the next day when the drugs had worn off but the love sometimes hadn't. Chapter 2--more drugs, more trouble, and, yeah, love. Very heady stuff for an 18-year old who had never been in love at all--drugs or no drugs. It was very bad-ass, and I was sure I could be bad-ass too. Maybe not about love and drugs, but about something. That was how I started my "first novel."

Again, I was confronted with the problem of not having a subject. My life had not exactly picked up between my initial epiphany that I was not cut out for English and my graduation from high school a year later. In my estimation, Earth-shattering things had happened--I got into a good university, I won the department award for which I had been pining since junior year, I cracked the top ten of my class. Unfortunately, these things were only Earth-shattering on my particular version of Earth, which seemed only to have a population of one at the time. (I later learned that it was also inhabited by many other people who ended up at the University of Chicago, but what with the low population density and social awkwardness of my Earth, it was no surprise that we never crossed paths.) But how to translate my Earth into the much more populous real Earth? Should I turn every coveted A into a drunken hook-up? College applications into a traumatic loss of virginity? Acceptance letters into first love? I sensed that this course was less than promising.

In that case, I would write about something I sort of knew. I would write about America. Yes, all of it. No, I was not being over-ambitious. And no, it was not quite clear to me what about America I intended to say. I had been inspired, or more accurately, driven by desperation to inspiration. Besides, it was much more profoundly significant and admirable a topic than the drunken skankiness of my competition. I set to work, figuring that plot and purpose would work themselves out after a few pages. Three chapters and only one salvageable sentence later, my computer melted down and my budding masterpiece (as well as my excellent Spider Solitaire record) was lost in a steam of evaporated data. Fortunately, I'd so admired my own craftsmanship of that one sentence that I'd blogged it the day before, and it was spared. It was really for the better because the rest, unlike my freshman poetry, was not even subject to the continual derision of my friends.

After this, I turned my attentions and ambitions permanently to non-fiction glory. In college, I met would-be poets and short-storyists, even the occasional aspiring novelist with half a manuscript complete. I raised an eyebrow occasionally, especially when I learned that money could be won doing such things, but they no longer inspired such jealousy in me as my (significantly less talented) high school peers had. My striving was focused elsewhere, and, unlike in high school, where recognition lay solely in math or writing achievement, college offers much more specialized recognition--awards for archaeology and ethnography and academic explorations of the significance of asses in history. The striver could be satiated in hundreds of new ways; it was not necessary to be able to say, "I've written a novel."

Besides, if inspiration does decide to strike, it knows my address, and where I store my pretty prose for emergencies. One day, maybe my Earth will experience a surge in tourism, and someone will need to write the guidebook, after all. I'm available for that. In the meantime, I'll be in the basement of the university library if you need anything.

And finally, it should be known that they did it for love. Right before the Nazis invaded, and they all committed suicide.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Teaching the controversy

In the issue of TIME I was reading over breakfast this morning, I found a weird conception of intelligent design. The big pull-out quote came out of a textbook that claimed the theory says that species were created fully-formed by God. That's odd. I've been following the evolution debates with only one eye, I'll admit, but I figured I kind of knew what intelligent design was, and it wasn't just creationism with a new name, but the idea that, as the name suggests, evolution is guided by an intelligent force because the complexity of biological systems could not, statistically, have resulted from random mutation. Biology-wise there is little difference between ID and Darwinism except the non-randomness of mutation. There is still adaptation and selection fueled by genetic mutation. The mechanisms are in place, but their metaphysical source is no longer chance. At least, that was my impression. I read on about "teaching the controversy," and all the bad that could come of it and so on.

I remember before ID was even a controversy, I got "taught the controversy," so to speak. In my AP bio class in high school, we were assigned a couple David Berlinski articles from Commentary to summarize for extra credit. My bio teacher was neither a fundamentalist nor a Christian, and as far as I know, she believed in Darwinian evolution and had no anti-science agenda (I'm not sure I've ever met someone who liked bio more), but she evidently thought this would make an interesting extra credit topic to think about.

I went home and read the articles and had something like a mental heart attack. I was an atheist, and Darwinism was not just a beautiful unifying theory, but the chanciness of it in many ways replaced God as the explanation of life for me. And here was David Berlinski performing some kind of unfathomable mathematical calculation (especially unfathomable to a girl who had just failed calculus) to show that the chances of something like the human visual system could not possibly evolve by random mutation. Was my world still intact? No randomness. Complexity = God. Ahhhh!!!

I'm still an atheist. However, I was so jarred by the articles that instead of a page-long article summary, I wrote a three-page essay, picking apart Berlinski's reasoning as far as I could (which was probably not too far, all things considered), stopping short of making the argument that organ systems are statistically possible results of random chance, of monkeys banging on typewriters until they produce Shakespeare, as he argued. Instead, I concluded with the suggestion that it is indeed hard to "believe" in uncertainty (I wrote something about Keats' negative capability, an idea which I obviously swiped from my English class and promptly forgot completely until last week). Darwinian evolution has not given us a day-by-day chronology of life on Earth, but it still may, and there is no need to reject its validity because it has not fulfilled our desire for complete certainty about everything.

I was totally embarrassed to hand in this late-night rambling, and when I got it back, my bio teacher asked to see me after class. Death? Not exactly. She asked if I was still interested in going to the U of C (this was February of senior year). I said yes. She said she was an alum, and asked if it would be alright if she wrote me an extra recommendation based on this assignment. I said yes. She said she was very impressed that I had actually taken the time to examine the argument and try to seriously counter it, and that I had brought in Keats, and that this was very UofC. I said thanks. Except in my head I said WOO-HOO!!!

Things were not looking good for my admission to Chicago at this point--I had a suspension on my record, I'd just gotten a (mercy) C in AP calc and dropped the course, and I'd had an awful interview (have I ever not had an awful interview?). But my bio teacher sent in an extra recommendation, and then I got in. Maybe it wasn't solely because of the recommendation, but it probably didn't hurt.

And that is my story about being "taught the controversy." That's all I have to say about that.

(In case you're interested, the Berlinski articles can be found in Commentary's archives, and one is here without a subscription.)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Pantsed!

I had a dream last night that, because of some unexpected glitch, it turned out that my study abroad trip to Athens had to be rescheduled for tomorrow, and my current roomates (normal roommate and ho-bag roommate) were coming along. But I had to leave directly from Washington, and I didn't have all my stuff with me, and I couldn't survive in Athens for 10 weeks with what I had. My roommates said that I should've planned better and urged me to hurry up, the plane was going to take off without us. They themselves were scrambling to pack. Fine, I agreed to go with them and started packing as well. But as I was packing, I discovered an even bigger problem than I'd anticipated: I had no pants! "I have no pants!" I explained. "I can't go!" I was told I didn't need pants. "But what will I wear there?" "Not pants!"

Then I woke up and went to work. In pants.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

In which I solicit Chicago students (not for sex) (yet)

Now that I have all this extra time at work since I finished preparing my presentation, I've taken to blogging for the future so that my blog entries are like little frozen embryos, waiting in storage to be IVF-ed into a receptive uterus. (That is the bioethics lesson for the day, btw.) At this point, I've blogged myself into next year with unposted posts. Almost. And actually, I haven't finished my presentation; I just got too nervous to think about it anymore.

So. Who wants to start (or take over) a campus magazine with me? About politics? Culture? Pigeons? It would be fun. It would be nonpartisan (or, multi-partisan?). It'd be like the Criterion, minus the sweater-vests and pretension, and also minus the sucking. It could be like the not particularly Jewish, not particularly conservative, undergrad version of Commentary. Come on, you know it sounds tempting. You want to work with me. I am cool. I know grammar (major selling point). Plus, between essays, articles, poems, reviews, and short stories, there has to be something you're interested in.

And, let's be honest, Chicago could use a politics and culture magazine. What do we have now? Diskord? It looks like an organ of the International Socialists. The Maroon? 800-word limit. Hardly enough to get a thought across. Six hundred different poetry magazines? They don't even publish Chicago students' poetry. Vita? Fake sex, now at high prices.

If you want in, let me know. If you don't want in, let me know anyway, so I can send you personalized emails of persuasion.