18 August 2009

10 August 2009

'The Conversation': an underrated classic

The Conversation has to be one of the most underrated movies of all time.

Featuring the direction of Francis Ford Coppola, acting of Gene Hackman, general moral ambiguity, remarkably tight filmmaking, a thriller/espionage intrigue and a plethora of beautiful shots, it's certainly a classic.

So why aren't more people talking about this film?

It's not as flashy as The Godfather and Gene Hackman's not as "cool" as Marlon Brando, but Hackman's lovable-loser status and the film's apparent simplicity combine with its moral complexity to create a modest film about epic things.

Plus, it features a young, strapping Harrison Ford.

05 August 2009

Radio is a sound salvation

Later this month my hometown's latest and only attempt at a decent alternative/indie radio station, Radio X 96.1, will go the way of the dodo. It will become one of two sports-dedicated stations on Grand Rapids' musically bankrupt FM dial.

But rather than wallow in that town's musical depravity, I'd prefer to praise my temporary residence, Columbus, for its excellent alternative radio station. Offering a diverse selection of current and nostalgic indie/alternatively inclined songs and artists, CD 101 is a bastion of difference in a modern world of radio monotony.

I realize FM radio - like most media forms we grew up with - is probably a dying breed, but it is stations like this that remind me why we should love FM radio. Sure you can find almost any song you want on-demand on iTunes or YouTube or Deezer, or listen to an individualized radio statio via Pandora, but nothing beats the excitement and the haphazardness of live radio. It's exciting not knowing what will be played next and seeing how songs are juxtaposed. Plus, FM radio represents a shared, class-cutting experience that can't be beat by modern alternatives.

So, thank you CD 101 for renewing my faith in the power of good ole FM radio.

Sample songs from CD 101's playlist:
"Walking on a Dream" Empire of the Sun
"Bittersweet Symphony" The Verve
"No You Girls" Franz Ferdinand
"Bohemian Like You" Dandy Warhols
"L.E.S. Artistes" Santigold
"One Armed Scissor" The Mars Volta
"The Black Keys" Strange Times

But don't take my word for it, listen live here.

01 August 2009

Public Transit Woes

Compared to public transit in Paris, most American public transportation options are bound to disappoint. I was expecting this.

When I hopped on a COTA bus for the first time last night, I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the air-conditioned bus and its fancy electronic ticker denoting the stops as we passed. This was on the way to my destination.

My opinion of the busing system changed on the way home. After leaving the fun, outdoor screening of Raising Arizona early to catch the one bus per hour that was running on a Friday night, I had to wait nearly a half hour for said bus, which was late. Plus, I had no way of knowing where the bus was or when/if it would arrive. Their wasn't even a bus schedule posted at the stop to let me confirm what I had thought I'd seen earlier online.

In the meantime, I had to suffer weird looks from bar-going passerbys and drivers because apparently it's weird to be waiting for a bus in this country?

Finally, a bus came by, but it was demarcated with a bizarre letter-number combo, while my bus carried a simpler, more reasonable moniker: 2. Luckily, the bus driver was helpful enough to pull over at my wave and inform me that bus 2 should be coming behind her. After a few more minutes, I was successfully on my bus, headed home, after a long and frustrating wait.

To top it all off, I had to walk an extra three blocks home when the bus driver, failing apparently to note that "Stop Requested" was flashing across his electronic ticker, neglected to let me off at my stop.

In the end, I got home and it only cost me $3. As far as public-transit related snafus go, my night was pretty minor, but it was enough to make me never want to ride the COTA again.

22 July 2009

Weird Advert

Upon returning from work, I've been watching a lot of late-night TV recently (mostly Conan and Jimmy Fallon), and I've frequently been seeing these weird Palm Pre ads:

This girl is extremely creepy. I mean, why is she so pale? Why does she move so stiltedly? What is up with that hair? Why does she speak in that weird subdued voice? And on what distant planet is she?

The commercial really raises more questions than it answers and certainly doesn't make me want to buy a Palm Pre despite the fact that the phone looked pretty sweet when Jimmy Fallon was pimping it on his show.

Also, I was digging this earlier ad campaign (or at least the song, "Doorway" by IO Echo):

I guess I'm just trying to figure out where Sprint's going with albino girl on tranquilizers...

21 July 2009

Brüno ich not funny

I saw Sacha Baren Cohen’s new film Brüno last week, and I was sorely disappointed.

There’s already been a lot of
media/blogger hoopla surrounding the movie, but I wanted to add my take.

Obviously, it was not as good as Borat, for a number of reason, only one of which being that he'd already done the same schtick successfully in that film. I was prepared for Brüno to be less innovatively funny, but I was surprised by a movie that was utterly childish and mostly unfunny.

Sure there are a few laugh-worthy moments (a bit with all-too-eager stage parents and another where a preacher tells us what music not to listen to if we’re trying to be straight – Indigo Girls, the Village People, I’m talking about you!), but the film is horribly uneven and, worse, often offensive.

Watching it was an overall uncomfortable and painful experience more so than a humorous one (Borat, too, had those moments, but Brüno is constructed almost entirely of them).

For me, most of the humor in Borat came from poking fun at the xenophobic/anti-Semitic/generally bigoted people he encountered along the way. Brüno really has less of that than you would expect. Sure there are some homophobes – it’s hard, however, to laugh at them when many of the jokes themselves are founded upon the "gag" of Brüno’s flamboyant homosexuality – but mostly there are just people who end up uncomfortable around Brüno; not because he is gay, but because he decides to talk about (and often act out) sex acts in a very explicit and inappropriate fashion. (I suppose this, in and of itself, is supposed to be funny, but I'm not a 12-year-old so it’s not). It’s hard to blame, or label as homophobic, the people who are weirded out by Brüno and his in-your-face behavior – behavior that would be equally frowned upon from a straight man.

Obviously, one could counter that this pointing out homophobia business wasn’t
Cohen’s goal (although I think it at least partly was), but without that element, the film really falls flat. An endless stream of gross-out jokes and shock-jock humor, that, in the end, isn't very funny (sauf a few aforementioned skits).

And still on that point, if it was at all – anywhere, even a little bit deep down – Cohen’s goal to point out homophobia, I think Brüno is an utter failure and a homophobic film unto itself. I realize there is a certain amount of satire involved, but the Brüno image of a kinky-sex-crazed gay man that will aggressively proposition every male in sight is not something the gay community needs, especially when many already hold that view in their hearts.

Here’s to hoping that Cohen comes up with something better the next time around.

Musique: "Closer to Fine" Indigo Girls

20 July 2009

Daylight and catching air

Very much in love with this song and video:

Also, the end of the clip reminds me of the artwork of Robin Rhode
, (perfect segue) whose first major solo exhibit, Catch Air: Robin Rhode, I just saw and enjoyed at the Wexner Center for the Arts, a really cool music, film and contemporary art venue on OSU's campus.

He's an innovated South African artist who works with photography, video and performance art, to touch on issues of poverty and materialism and mess with perception. The majority of his works involve two-dimensional paintings or chalkings in which he or another subject interacts to create three-dimensional scenes, defying perception and telling a unique story.

Robin Rhode, "Untitled, Dream House," 2005. (Photo courtesy of ICA Boston via flickr)

He's definitely worth checking out – as are Matt and Kim.

Beneath our oaks hast slept

As is always the case, but seems particularly so this year, summer is passing me by all too quickly. I am thoroughly enjoying my internship here at The Dispatch, and I am even beginning to warm to Columbus itself. But all too soon (in about 4 weeks) I will be leaving here for good. And it certainly feels like I only just got here.

I am, however, getting increasingly excited about my return back to Smith. Despite my many complaints about that place, I am looking forward to that beautiful campus, seeing my friends again, great classes and the many responsibilities I will be taking on in the fall. I'm already fulfilling some elements of my roles as Dawes House HC and Sophian editor-in-chief and can't wait to do more.

But I can't help to feel like this summer has passed me by. Combined with my Parisian nostalgia and looks to the future the present has become a bit of a blur. It is great to be working though, and even better to be working in an exciting and challenging position that offers me something new every night. So, no complaints here, just hoping to make the best of the rest of the summer.

Musique: "Le Chemin" Kyo

17 July 2009

More objectification in pop music

I drove home a few days ago. Five hours both each way of driving means a lot of time with the generic, over-produced “pop” music they play on the radio. (Full disclosure: I am lucky enough to have a CD player, but I do find odd satisfaction in putting myself through the self-inflicted torture of seeing what the kids are listening to these days.)

Well along the way, I discovered a somewhat disturbing new song. It appears to be called “Don’t Trust Me.” I assumed it was a new song by Metro Station – that band that sang that obnoxiously catchy song “Shake It” last summer. “Don’t Trust Me” featured the same whiny teenage vocals and the lyrics, the same naughty undertones.

Upon consulting my trusty Internet, however, I have learned that this new song is by a band terrifyingly named 3OH!3. What kind of a name is that? I mean I’m all about the exclamation marks (two of my favorite bands Against Me! and The Go! Team feature them prominently), but this seems to be talking it a bit too far.

Well, the Three-OHHHH-Three song had caught my attention with its insane catchy-ness and mildly electronic/dance beats so I was digging it – until we came around to the bridge. At which point that whiny voice taunted over and over again, “Shush girl, shut your lips/ do the Helen Keller and talk with you hips.”

Not only does the line continue to perpetuate the juvenile demeaning of an honorable woman, but it also seems to support an aggressive silencing of women in favor of objectification and subjectification. Obviously, it’s not the only example of these sorts of things in modern music, but the aggressiveness and forcefulness of this assertion within the context of such a bubbly pop song surprised me.

It really ruined an otherwise intriguing song for me. The good news is, this song and this ridiculously named band will very soon be forgotten never to be seen again…

The video only confirms the immaturity. I guess I shouldn't take these guys seriously:

29 June 2009

Allons-y Alonzo!

"Je m'appelle Ferdinand."

Jean-Luc Godard has blown me away again.

Musique: BET Awards/Michael Jackson tribute and keyboards in the newroom

27 June 2009

Summer Watching List

Currently watching:
Arrested Development, on Hulu
Mad Men, Season 1 DVDs

Just watched:
Touch of Evil, Orson Welles
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Volver, Pedro Almodovar

Will watch:
Pierrot le fou, Jean-Luc Goddard
Public Enemies, out July 1

Musique: "Baby Be Mine" Michael Jackson

21 May 2009

So in love with the nouvelle vague

Agnès Varda, director of
Cleo de 5 à 7.

More stunning nouvelle vague geniuses in black & white here: http://todayspictures.slate.com/20090521/

Courtesy of Magnum Photos via Slate's "Today's Pictures."

12 May 2009

Lazy Days in this D.A.I.S.Y. Age

I just put together my official summer lazy-days playlist. Best for listening to while lounging on the Place des Vosges or along the Seine, it can easily be adapted for the beach, your front porch or whatever outdoor, laidback place is nearby. Just add some sunlight and a refreshing beverage, close your eyes and enjoy.

Discover Duncan Sheik!

Complete playlist:
“On a High” Duncan Sheik
“Lights Out” Santogold
“Gone” Jack Johnson
“Eye Know” De La Soul
“Age of Consent” New Order
“Keys to the City” The Go! Team
“Lay Lady Lay” Bob Dylan
“Drive-In Movies and Dashboard Lights” Nancy Griffith
“Aïcha” Khaled
“Geometry &C” Chris Walla
“We Can Get Down” A Tribe Called Quest
“Steal My Sunshine” Len
“Strawberry Fields Forever (Love remaster)” The Beatles
“Crooked Teeth” Death Cab for Cutie
“Carey” Joni Mitchell
“Kids” MGMT
“Walk in the Park” Oh No! Oh My!
"Big Casino" Jimmy Eat World
“Marquee Moon” Television
“The Seed (2.0)” The Roots
“Sitar Folks” Peter Bjorn & John

26 April 2009

I'm Back

I need new headphones.

And new music.


Musique: "Ulysses" Franz Ferdinand

09 April 2009

Things I Like RIGHT NOW

Synecdoche, New York by Charlie Kaufman – Considering critics have compared it to Beckett, Proust, Kafka and Woody Allen, it was probably a given that I would like Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut. It doesn’t hurt that I find Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to be utter genius and the screenplay of Adaptation to be one of the most mind-blowing and innovative ever. I was not in the least disappointed by this movie despite my immense expectations. The words that come to mind in describing this film, however, don’t at first seem incredibly positive: it’s emotionally-disturbing, disorienting, agonizing, troubling, alienating and overall painful. But the true and sincere emotion that this multi-layered film evoked in me more than made up for the pain and discomfort of the viewing experience. Plus, Kaufman does manage to work in a view laughs and visual gags (often at our pitiful and pitiable main character’s expense) for levity’s sake. All this said, I can’t really recommend the film to anyone but myself. It’s not a particularly enjoyable experience, and the movie’s sentiments can very easily hit as clichéd or pretentious or simply irrelevant if you are not the type of person that spends a lot of time reflecting on subjectivity, art, isolation and regret. Still, I was moved in a strange and unpredictable way by Kaufman’s epically subtle and cerebrally tender work.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – I know I’m a bit late to the game, but I finally picked up this novel and fell in love with it. As a Smithie, I believe it’s obligatory to have read this iconic and metonymic work by one of our most famous alumna. It is likewise obligatory reading for any self-reflective, self-deprecating, depression-prone, slightly counter-culture, literary young woman (look no further than 10 Things I Hate About You). So, I realize how clichéd it is to say that I’ve fell in love with the book, but I found the novel extremely touching and true. Plath captures so perfectly the universal inner workings of depression and her own downward spiral toward self-destruct that I sometimes felt like it was me she was describing on the page. It’s tragic and it’s touching, especially given the inevitable end of Plath’s real life story, but the simple elegance with which Plath writes is inspiring. And each moment, we sit by hoping that Esther Greenwood will find a way to get out from under that bell jar, because if she can do it, we can too.

The Smiths.

Musique: “Eye Know” De La Soul

13 March 2009

Welcome to the real world

It’s actually happening.

I’ve officially been offered a summer internship on the news copy desk of The Columbus Dispatch. I’ll be working fulltime and getting paid for it. It’s really kind of scary when I think about it.

Does this mean I’m an adult now?

Musique: “Sunday” Sia

To Res Life or not to Res Life?

That is a question.

The small French-themed house that I will be living in next year at Smith, is – or at least was last I knew – still in need of an HC (basically an RA or whatever you call those people on normal campuses) for next year. I initially was not in the least bit interested in this position, but I’m beginning to think that it might be a good idea. I guess I should try weighing some of the pros and cons.

Getting paid
Having a suite for a room
Good life experience
Nice addition to my résumé
Getting to know more people
Having a reason to spend more time at Smith
Getting more involved on Campus
Not having to deal with adjusting first-years or roommate drama

Time commitment
Returning to Smith 2 weeks early and over J-Term (see pro no. 6)
Training sessions
Being the bad guy
Juggling the Sophian, schoolwork, life and this
Needing “intrapersonal” skills

Anyway, I’m still thinking about it. And I’m hoping to talk to the current HC of the house to hear her experience. What do you think?

Musique: “Je voudrais déjà être roi” Le Roi Lion

28 February 2009

What's his name? Patches?

I love Demetri Martin.

This from his new TV series, Important Things with Demetri Martin. It's on Comedy Central Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. Watch it.

17 February 2009

Things I Like RIGHT NOW

Feed The Animals by Girl Talk – I’ve always heard amazing things about musical-collage artist Gregg Gillis a.k.a. Girl Talk, but I hadn’t gotten around to listening to him until recently. I just downloaded his latest album (available here); thankfully, he lives up to the hype. His “songs” – mash-ups that combine dozens of unlicensed samples – are a music nerd’s dream. Not only does Girl Talk produce hits as dance-worthy as the latest Beyoncé track, but he’s also creating a musical artifact of sorts – a catalogue of what’s hot in music. Each moment is meticulously worked and spliced. It’s a bit heady at times, but its beats have a mass appeal that is undeniable. Is Girl Talk the future of pop music? If so, I wouldn’t be too disappointed.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – It’s been quite some time since I’ve been as moved by a work of contemporary fiction as I was by Ishiguro’s gentle and emotional masterpiece. A universal tale of lost childhood and wistful remembrance, Never Let Me Go is simultaneously a slow-burning reflection on the past and the fleeting nature of life and a compelling page-turner that will have you wondering what is ahead from the first page. Ishiguro has an amazing mastery of these two modes of narration. The power, passion and emotion with which the reader emerges upon completing this novel are unrivaled in this modern era. It is a must read, and I can’t wait to see what Ishiguro comes up with next.

Slumdog Millionaire by Danny Boyle – I know this one’s a bit overplayed, and it might be just at the moment of receiving too much praise to the point that it has become overrated, but I greatly enjoyed the movie-watching experience that Danny Boyle created with his most recent film. Sure it’s all a bit chanceful and the highs are too high for the lows which are too low, but I found it to be a both a great bildungsroman and a spot-on commentary on films, filmmaking and the modern spectator. Boyle gave the spectator exactly what he wants to see and made a great movie, i.e. a series of moving images, music, characters and story that pleases. Recently, I’ve seen a lot of movies that would make great books or plays but fail to measure up to the medium. Plus, how could I deny my love for a movie that uses M.I.A.’s music so aptly (even if she’s Sri Lankan).

“O…Saya” A. R. Rahman & M.I.A.

09 February 2009

M.I.A., the Grammys and Hip Hop's Boys' Club

To continue my Grammy life lessons, let's discuss what they have taught be about the gender gap in hip hop:

Although I obviously didn’t actually get to watch the broadcast of the real show, I just caught the “Swagga Like Us” performance on YouTube. I am thoroughly amazed and impressed by M.I.A.’s gusto in killing it on stage even at nine-months pregnant. Unfortunately, I am incredibly disappointed that she was not even able to get out the whole chorus of her own song! When I heard she would be performing, I realized that they probably wouldn’t give her the respect that she deserves. But I at least figured they would let her get in a bit of her song before the “Swagga Like Us” parade of hip-hop’s finest showed up.

I know the Grammys were excited to have the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and T.I. on stage together, but as much as I love them all, I’m disappointed that they continue to co-opt M.I.A.’s amazing track without giving her the credit she deserves as an M.C. and an artist.

This performance is a perfect representation of the boys' club that is hip hop. So I guess I’m just proud that Maya was able to be up there to represent.

Musique: "Swagga Like Us" Jay-Z & T.I. feat. Kanye West & Lil Wayne

Life Lessons from the Grammy Pre-show

Things I learned from the Grammy Awards Pre-telecast:

1) Ne-Yo’s songs are written by a pair of lanky Scandinavian guys, who could very well pass as Bond villains.

2) Don’t accept an award for someone else or the Grammys will get pissy with you.

3) Unless Black Thought gives his approval, in which case they will let is slide, but don’t get cocky and try it a second time or they’ll get pissy again and let the robotic-sounding woman who reads the nominees cut you off.

4) Carrie Underwood is NOT Blair Underwood’s cousin.

5) Heavy D, who was both a nominee and a performer, is still alive.

6) Static Major, who appeared on Lil Wayne’s hit “Lollipop,” apparently is not.

7) The Blind Boys of Alabama are indeed blind (actually, I think this one is cheating because I believe I learned this a couple years ago at the Grammys, but it’s the kind of thing that needs reminding).

8) Daft Punk is a “he,” but Duffy is a “they.”

9) No matter how many times she does it, it will still be hilarious to hear robotic-sounding lady say “swagga.”

10) Who actually shows up to this thing includes the random selection of: Carrie Underwood, the bassist from Metallica and The Mars Volta.

Also, Danger Mouse got snubbed; he had an infinitely better year that Rick Rubin.

Musique: “Lost!” Coldplay

06 February 2009

Photo of the Day


Stare down: European Commission President José Manuel Barroso (left) and Vladimir Putin each criticize the other for failing to respect human rights.

Retrieved at: http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2009/02/06/poutine-souhaite-que-les-observateurs-de-l-ue-restent-en-ukraine-au-moins-jusqu-en-mars_1151937_3214.html.

05 February 2009

Official Smith College Rant

It’s odd that since I’ve been abroad and, thus, away from Smith, I’ve become more away of the things about Smith that repulse me. You would think that being away from the college would make me nostalgic for the things I love about it, but it’s only given me more perspective to reflect on the elements of Smith that I’m not so fond of. This is not to say that I’m not at least partly excited to return back there for my senior year, but I have to confess that I am glad it’s only one more year.

There are certainly many great things about Smith. I’ve had a number of amazing professors and classes. Their French department is outstanding. This JYA program is one of the best. And despite what I may say about Smithies, I have met a lot of great people.

But I can’t help but think about how things would have been different somewhere else. Although I’m not completely regretful of the last three years of my life, I am almost positive that if given the chance to choose again I would not have chosen Smith.

To be fair, in this hypothetical situation, I would not choose a women’s college at all. Before I went to Smith, I wasn’t opposed to the idea of single-sex education, but I wasn’t all gung-ho about the women’s college aspect either. I figure that going to Smith was a way to allow me to go to the best college I could get into and that I could afford (thanks to financial aid).

Now, I am beginning to doubt the relevancy of single-sex education. Coming out of high school, where I had been taught by predominantly male instructors and was one a few females in my higher level math and science classes, I was excited at the prospect of tipping the balance at Smith. But I quickly grew tired of the equally skewed worldview that Smith had to offer. Constantly reading texts by and about women is boring and patronizing. As far as I am aware, women still only represent 50 percent of the population; continually framing classes around women is as equally exclusive as – if not more exclusive than – the male-dominated history we are trying to correct. What’s more, this assumption that these are the texts that would speak to us, that we would inherently enjoy and understand, is, as I said, patronizing.

Everything does not have to be framed in the cadre of gender roles and norms. It’s a bit frustrating – and equally unrealistic. In the real world, people do not spend their time sitting around reflecting on our differences like this. In a career, the philosophical reflection of the gender gap and women’s roles in the workplace doesn’t matter. NO ONE CARES. It’s only us at women’s colleges who sit around musing on these things over and over. Yes, women have been oppressed; yes, women at times face difficult challenges; yes, the list goes on; but ruminating on it the way we do at Smith only makes these divides greater and creates an us-against-them mentality. Suddenly every man out there in the real world is a secret chauvinist, fighting to uphold the patriarchy. We’re simply weaving a web of paranoia. It’s ridiculous.

Not to mention the social element of an environment filled with overly dramatic, cliquey females, grasping onto the high-school, popularity-contest culture in which they thrived. The whole thing is unbearably drama filled.

Smith is made up of an odd assortment of various self-selected groups. My *favorite* are the East-Coast elite/wannabes, clinging to Smith’s historic “women’s ivy” status (often because they didn’t get in to Harvard, Yale or Brown). I know those individuals don’t constitute all of Smith, but they do seem to be everywhere you turn.

Maybe it’s the East-Coast thing that’s just not right for me or maybe it’s something special about Smith, but either way I never realized how out of place I would feel as a student on major financial aid among a crowd of rich girls.

And the bureaucracy of the institution that is “Smith College” adds another whole layer of frustration. The college is full of its own history and own false sense of self-worth. In the majority of the country the phrase “Smith College” means very little, but while on campus, they would have you believe that those two magic words bear a burden of history and tradition that is perhaps not even rivaled by Oxford. Surely I exaggerate, but they would have you believe that “Smith College” magically opens doors. It’s not true. I’m not really sure if it ever was true; the college has simply become deluded by its own faux power.

With all that being said, I don’t really know how different things would be anywhere else. Obviously, I have no counter-experience with which to compare it. And despite all this, I don’t think these last three years have been a waste. It’s all part of a greater experience that is life, and part of the fun of it is that you can’t do it over again, even though counterfactuals are inevitable – and fun.

I’d just been thinking about all of that lately…

Musique: "Anthems For a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl" Broken Social Scene

02 February 2009

Formula for Pop Perfection

I just have to comment that Beyoncé has it right:

Bass + hi-hat + 808 + Jay = Pop Perfection

Musique: “Deja Vu” Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z

25 January 2009


I’m not getting my hopes up because I know how these things go, and I haven’t even gotten anything yet, but I did receive an intriguing e-mail from the Columbus Dispatch late Friday night.

I applied – late – for a summer copy-editing internship with them. They have just informed me that I am among the five or six finalists that they are considering for the position. If they decide that I am one of their preferred candidates, they will be setting up a phone interview this week.

I’ve never really interviewed for a position of this caliber so if I am selected for an interview, I am going to be nervous beyond belief. I don’t particularly interview well, but maybe I look good enough on paper to make up for it.

It’s funny that earlier this week, I was settling into the idea of actually being home for the summer. I haven’t been home for more than two weeks in almost two years, so it would be pretty nice to be nestled into the West Michigan area for an extended period of time, especially after being in a (literally) foreign land.

This revelation made the contact from the Columbus Dispatch unexpected and nearly disconcerting. I at first was not sure if I would even want the position anymore. But it does pay well, and in this difficult economic climate that is hitting newspapers across the country, it is my (hopefully) extensive experience that will set me apart. Plus, Columbus isn’t so far from home that I couldn’t drive back for a weekend or two throughout the summer.

I’m just trying to keep my mind and options open and not set my sights on anything in particular. I learned the hard way how much it hurts when you put your heart into something, so I’m trying my best to stay completely impartial, and come what may, I will be happy.

Musique: "Against All Odds" The Postal Service

19 January 2009

Fitting Rooms


Musique: "Natural's Not In It" Gang of Four

15 January 2009


I have recently rediscovered my immense love for two things: books and music.

I have been in constant contact with these two forms of media, but the increasing mundanity of this contact has made me forget how much I love them. The activities of listening to music and reading are daily occurrences for me: I constantly have my iPod on as I commute and my iTunes is almost always up when I am at home. And, as a lit major, I always have some sort of reading associated with my classes. At times, I do both activities simultaneously, switching my iPod on as I plow through a text.

Finding myself with a bit of free time, however, I finally returned to my mythical and beloved pastime of pleasure reading. There is nothing better than sitting down to read a book of my own choosing which I can breeze through at my own pace and my own leisure without concern for a deadline or for the quotes that I will pull from it for my essay. Yesterday, I spent all afternoon curled up in the windowsill of a random, third-floor room of the Louvre finishing off a Patrick Modiano book that I had been wanting to read. The room’s aubergine walls, Dutch paintings and perfect view of the Palace Royal made the experience all the more magical. I had forgotten that magic.

Likewise, in constantly surrounding myself with music, I had forgotten its power. I forgot its magical ability to transport the listener across space and time to past eras – its ability to make memories come alive. On a recent stroll through my iTunes catalogue, I haphazardly clicked on the music of Linkin Park, a band my “Last Played” column revealed that I had not listened to in over two years. As the songs played, I was suddenly immersed in the faux teenage angst of my freshman year of high school. My musical tastes may have changed since then, but I still knew all the words, and I was pleased to revel in the memory of it all, no matter how unsophisticated the music may be.

Going further back, I recently acquired a Nanci Griffith album on my computer. This same exact “retrospective,” in cassette-tape form, was one of a number of albums that served as the soundtrack of my youth. Certain classics from my dad’s massive tape collection – which I distinctly and fondly remember organizing and re-alphabetizing each year with my brother and dad – are ingrained in my subconscious. Whenever I hear these songs, I am transported back to the pleasant memories of that safe and simple time when I still had a home and our family was all together, when I didn’t have to worry about the future and I didn’t know what stress what. What’s more, when the songs are actually great, it’s even more of a pleasure to return to them. When I was young, I may have liked the songs, but I didn’t understand how amazing of a songwriter Nanci Griffith is.

I am glad I have rediscovered this magic.

Musique: “Love at the Five and Dime” Nanci Griffith

08 January 2009

Top 10 Albums of 2008

As an amateur music critic, I present to you my list of my top 10 favorite popular music albums released in the year 2008:

1 – Narrow Stairs, Death Cab for Cutie 2 – Santogold, Santogold 3 – Tha Carter III, Lil Wayne 4 – Modern Guilt, Beck 5 – Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend 6 – 808s & Heartbreaks, Kanye West 7 – Partie Traumatic, Black Kids 8 – Rising Down, The Roots
9 – Third, Portishead 10 – Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool, Lupe Fiasco

If you (1) read this blog – which I’m not quite sure that anyone does, besides my parents – and (2) listen to contemporary popular music, please weigh in on my list or offer your own in the comments.

Musique: Kala, M.I.A. (which was atop my list in 2007)

05 January 2009

Mind Maps

Let’s not have a breakdown
No, not another breakdown
You’re on your own a long way from home
Let’s not have a breakdown

(J. De Martino and K. White)

Who knew that under their fun and friendly dance/electro beats, the Ting Tings could offer me such an appropriate reminder?

Thankfully I have taken those words of wisdom to heart, and although I have been on the verge of breakdown since yesterday evening, I am somehow keeping things together.

A number of different anxieties from various aspects of my life are hitting me hard all at the same moment. My biggest concern at present is my post-colonial-cinema final exam which is a three-hour, fun-filled extravaganza that counts for half of my grade for the semester in the class. But no pressure or anything.

Presently, I am managing to keep my head above water as it were. I actually accomplished a great deal toward preparing for my exam during my five-hour rendez-vous with the library at Paris VII.

I also invented my own anxiety-management technique. I created a fifth-grade-style mind map of all the things that were stressing me out at that exact moment. After everything was down on paper, I violently crossed off those which I should not be worrying about either because they are frivolous or much too far in the future. I prioritized the remaining anxieties so that I can address them systematically.

I know the context is different, but Kanye sure has me pegged – “You worry about the wrong things, the wrong things” – and this priority-based method helped me sort this all out.

Also, remembering to breath, that’s a good thing. A very good thing.

Musique: “Traffic Light” The Ting Tings

04 January 2009


My Christmas presents:

Manteau: Zara (49,90 €)
Bottes: Bata (29,90 €)

Musique: “Get Busy” The Roots

03 January 2009

New Year. New Blog.

I’ve grown tired of polluting my Paris blog with anxieties and reflections of the navel-gazing variety that have little to do with la vie parisienne.

Donc, I am creating this auxiliary blog for my random, non-Paris-related musings.

Perhaps I am devolving to a genre of fruitless self-reflection akin to that which I previously resisted. I had always thought blogs of this nature were silly and self-indulgent, but now that I have gotten a taste for the intriguing genre of prose that manifests itself within a blog, I can’t get enough.

My first self-indulgent reflection: New Year’s resolutions. I am never big on these. I rarely make them and am even less likely to stick to them. But I have a couple for this year:

I hope to stay close to my loved ones and keep in touch with friends and family afar. I have always had trouble keeping in touch with people, but I feel like I am already doing better at this since I’ve been in Paris. With so many means of communication at my fingertips, it shouldn’t be hard, but I know it will be a challenge nonetheless.

My second resolution will be infinitely more difficult for me. I vow to do what makes me happy. It sounds easy enough, but there are a number of factors involved in this. The most difficult aspect is to attempt to stop thinking of what others would think of my choices. I have always had a weakness and a fear for some mythical force of peers who I believe to judge my every decision. I need to overcome this self-consciousness and reliance on others. Instead, I need to prioritize what it is that truly makes me happy and do it. Simple as that.

Simple as this.

Call me a navel-gazer.

Musique: "DontGetIt" Lil Wayne