Friday, May 25, 2007


There's a lot to talk about today, so I'll try to make it all fairly quick.

props to my bro
My brother Kip is a self-titled "big fish in a small pond" -- which suits him just fine, apparently. He recenlty has starred in some commercials for the local Pocatello bank Potelco. (The name always cracks me up!) The most recent is now on YouTube, so I'm sharing.

going for muse

I managed to get tix for the Muse concert in Orem this fall. The site I bought them from cites September 12 as the date, so that's what I'm currently planning on. They weren't nearly as expensive as I was afraid they'd be, so that was quite a blessing. And I'll plan on at least seeing elliespen while I'm there (if not staying at her newly-acquired house, as she so magnanimously offered), which will be great fun. And, most importantly, I'll get to see Matt! And Dom! And Chris! *sigh!* Can life get any better?
I submit that it cannot! (82 points, especially since I'm not sure myself where this is from; I have an inkling it's Adam Sandler, though
wildlife in wyoming
Well, I'm now in Idaho Falls, at the home of my youth. I arrived on Wednesday after a long and arduous drive through the wilderness of Wyoming. Harold (my faithful companion and car) performed very well. I promised him a good wash as soon as we could unload him -- he's very dirty -- which should be by the beginning of next week at the latest.

While in Wyoming I saw a baby elk frolicking by the highway-side. He made me very nervous, in fact -- I was afraid he would frolic into my path, causing a major highway disaster. Kind of like the (presumably adult) vulture I nearly hit earlier that day. As I came around a bend of the highway, this vulture was feeding on roadkill in the other lane. When he saw me coming, he decided to fly off -- right into my path. Bird-brained bird! He very narrowly escaped Harold's windshield, coming within a few inches of it.

I suppose that's all -- not as much as it seemed when I was getting ready to write. The last quote, correctly identified by elliespen, was from the film IQ.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

farewell and hello

Goodbye, Denton! I have officially left, and I may never return. Or, I may return twice. We'll see.

Right now, I'm in Colorado Springs, where I'm staying overnight on my way to Idaho. I'm excited to drive through Jackson, Wyoming, tomorrow. Jackson is close enough to home that it feels like home -- it's familiar terrain, so to speak. Not to mention, it's gorgeous. There may even be some snow on the Teton Pass, so that's pretty fun, too.

During my last weekend in Denton, NM invited me to come with her and her boyfriend to Hailey's, a local club, to hear some bands play. NM and her man are both very into music, and they go to hear live acts all the time. I've only recently started getting into the modern music scene, especially the indie scene, so I was excited to go see a real band play and hear some new music. NM is a big fan of Beach House, and I enjoyed them. But at the moment, I'm completely in love with The Clientele. They have a very retro 60s-pop kind of sound going on, fairly mild, with with a good beat and some fascinating lyrics. I really enjoy "Since K Got Over Me" (incidentally the only single they've released so far), as well as "Here Comes the Phantom," "I Hope I Know You," and "The Queen of Seville."
(Check them out: The Clienetele Official Website, Wikipedia, Google Music)

And speaking of concerts ... Muse are apparently playing in Orem, Utah, this fall. There's a little confusion over the date -- one site I found said August 22, another said August 12, and the ticket site said September 12. But the point is, it's Orem, and it's Muse, and it's Muse in Orem, and how can I possibly miss that?! I'm working on a way to get tickets, despite my low budget these days, as well as some friends to come with me -- hopefully including Erin and possibly my niece.
When was the last time you said, "Wahoo!"? (25 points)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

things i love about muse

You may well have found yourself thinking, sometime during the past four months or so, "I don't get it -- just what does gryffinkat see in Muse, anyway? What's so great about them?" Well, through the magic of YouTube, I have decided to share a few of the things I love about them.

The BBC does a show called "Live and Kicking," where they have popular musicians on to play live. But when they invited Muse onto the show a few years ago, to play their hit "New Born," they asked the band to lip sync their song, rather than playing it live. So Muse rebelled. Though it's hard to tell, Chris (the bassist) and Dom (the drummer) have switched places, and Matt (the genius ... that is, lead singer/guitarist) is just plain ridiculous throughout the whole performance. (And yet, still sexy as all get-out -- check out those shades, eh?)

And here's another thing I love about them. The BBC does another show called Re:Cover, where they invite bands to cover a song of their (that is, the band's) choice and perform it live (for real this time). So when Muse was on a while back, they performed -- of all things -- "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." Although the BBC folks bill this as originally by Andy Williams (his version reached #5 in the UK charts), most Americans know it from the Lettermen's version, when they did it as a medley with "Going Out of My Head" (which reached #7 in our charts). Anyway, few people could take such a classic, relatively mellow song and make it sound this amazing in a rock version.

(As a side note, I hear that The Killers have also recently covered this song -- I'd love to hear it, though I doubt they can reach this kind of nirvana with it.)

In a related item, I also love the reason Matt gives about why the band chose to cover this particular song. It's at the end of this video, so you'll have to sit few a minute or so of inane conversation.

Mostly, though, I love watching Muse play live. (Insert enormous sigh, resulting from my thinking about the fact that I haven't personally seen them perform live, yet. One day ... one day.) But then, that's the glory of YouTube. While I'm really not a fan of music videos, I do love watching the first half or so of Muse's video for "Time Is Running Out" (the half before the Nazi-esque women start removing their clothing for no apparent reason -- one of the things I hate about music videos.) Just look how engrossed they are in their music. It's fabulous -- and, to me, inspiring -- to watch!

(There's no quote this time. I just don't feel up to it tonight. Incidentally, I will be starting the scoreboard over soon, since Erin has effectively trounced everyone -- again. And the last quote was from Middlemarch, as Jane Heiress said.)

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Margo and NM are both graduating with Master's degrees today. Congratulations!

Margo is getting an M.S. in Speech Language Pathology, and she is looking for work in one of the school districts in Kansas, where she's from. She put more work into that degree than anyone else I know. My favorite part, though: The Speech & Hearing Sciences Department asked their graduates to write their names on the cards -- the ones that they use to announce each graduate's name -- in the International Phonetic Alphabet.

NM will be receiving an M.A. in Applied Anthropology, and she'll be going to San Francisco pretty soon to look for a job. She fought hard for that M.A., too -- she had to fulfill an extra requirement to be a Master of Arts rather than Science -- so we're excited for her.
And, of course, men know best about everything, except what women know better. (122 points)
The last quote was from Seinfeld. Great episode.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

gotta love it

I just took a look at my Netflix queue -- which I recently whittled down from over 400 movies to about 100 -- and then found their new "Watch Now" section. See, Netflix is now offering movie-viewing direct from your PC. There's no extra charge, they have hundreds (even thousands?) of movies available for instant viewing, and you get an hour of online viewing for each dollar you pay per month. Thus, since I pay $10 a month for my plan, I now have 10 hours of instant-movie-viewage a month.

Tonight I'm watching Clue, and soon I'll be watching early episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. (30 points)
The last quote was from Jane Eyre, and the one before was from Spider-Man (the first one, when it was still good). So elliespen and Paul both get points.

Friday, May 4, 2007


Presentiments are strange things! and so are sympathies; and so are signs; and the three combined make one mystery to which humanity has not yet found the key. I never laughed at presentiments in my life, because I have had strange ones of my own. (98 points; you can all still guess on the earlier quote, from my post on Spider-Man 3.)
I must admit, I have laughed at presentiments. Or at least rolled my eyes at them. This morning, though, I had a weird one myself.

After waking up the first time and then dozing back into that state between wakefulness and sleep, I dreamt that I had received an email from the Linguistics Department secretary at Lancaster University in the UK. I had the dream several times, and each time the email said something different. Usually it stressed me out, in one way or another.

Anyway, after having this dream about five times, I decided it was time to actually get up and start the day. So I checked my email, which is frequently the first thing I do in the mornings. Lo and behold: there, in very deed, sat an email from Marj.

For those of you who don't know, I have applied back at Lancaster University, where I previously earned a Master's Degree, in the hopes of finishing a doctoral degree from there. The application took longer than I'd expected to get off in the mail, and then it reached the university on the first day of their four-week break between terms. So then I had to wait another month before I had any hope of hearing back from them. And then I waited another week after their new term started before I dared email Marj with a follow-up. I sent that email on Monday of this week, and since she usually writes back within a day or two, I was surprised that I hadn't heard anything more.

But today, there it was. The Department has approved my application and recommended my admission to the Postgraduate Admissions Office, who have probably already sent an official acceptance letter. Hopefully, it will be here within a few days. Maybe a week, two at the most.


So, here's the plan, then. I will be leaving Denton by the end of this month (huzzah, again!) and spending most of the summer in Idaho and Utah with family. I've been basically planning to live with my sister, and I hope that still works for her. In the very early part of the summer, I will be sending out emails/letters of interest to universities and colleges in the Seattle, Tacoma, Chicago, and Washington, DC, areas, looking for an adjunct faculty position. In the meantime, I will change my degree status at UNT from PhD to MA, take the Master's comprehensive exam in June, and graduate with an MA in English Literature in August. In conjunction with Erin, I will choose one of the above-mentioned places to live in. Around August, we'll move in together and start working. I will start my doctoral program from Lancaster, working by distance. I will have to travel out to England at least a couple of times during the program, to meet with my advisor (Elena Semino) and do some intensive research. The whole degree should take no longer than three years at the very most, and I'm shooting for having it done in two.

As I was driving home from Spider-Man 3 earlier today, singing along with Muse, I suddenly realized that I'm leaving Denton. I don't have to ever come back if I don't want to. What a freeing feeling. (Except that I will be coming back, at least for the Master's comps, and possibly again November for a graduate student conference on medieval studies, at which I hope to present something.)

spider-man 3

I really wanted to go last night to watch Spider-Man 3. You know, at one of the midnight showings. But there was a small snag. See, I'm not really the type to organize that kind of outing -- more the type to follow along when someone else suggests it. So I didn't think about the necessity of buying tickets before-hand because shows were likely to sell out. Oops.

By the time I thought about it, the closest theater I could find who still had tickets available was 40 minutes away, at a theater I'd never been to before in a town I rarely visit. So rather than stay up until 3:00 am or later and risk getting lost, I decided to just go to bed (I was tired anyway) and watch an early showing this morning closer to home.

On the way to the theater this morning, I caught some reviews of the flick on a local radio station. And pretty much everyone said they hated it. Which made me even more curious.

I was pretty excited for the film -- I've really loved the last two, except for Kirsten Dunst. But I've loved the directing, the writing (for the most part), and -- of course -- the special effects.

Most of all, though, I've loved Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker. The Spider-man story resonates with me, and it's largely because of Peter. Peter is such a nerd, and I get nerds. And he's so wonderfully good. Just through-and-through, a good person. And who doesn't appreciate Peter Parker's ill luck -- don't we all feel at times like the universe is against us, like nothing goes right for us? It doesn't hurt, either, that Tobey Maguire is so gorgeous.


As for this third installment, though ... well, I have mixed feelings. The special effects were still amazing. I couldn't help but think to myself, "Some computer geeks had a great time with the Sandman." Thomas Haden Church, who I used to watch weekly in "Wings" growing up (yes, I know, my TV choices have alwasy been a bit lame), was pretty darn good as Flint Marko. I couldn't help but think how horribly he's aged: he's not a pretty man, but that worked well for his character. Topher Grace, also, was just perfect as Eddie Brock -- just the right mixture of sleaze and charm. James Franco -- returning from the first two films as Peter's best-friend-turned-worst-enemy Harry Osborn -- always has the look and actions of a comic-book character to me. And I mean that in the best possible way: I think he was an excellent choice for the Spider-man films, even though I can't stand him in pretty much anything else.

But the writing. Well, it was just plain hokey, as one IMDB user put it. All the moral lessons were so stilted, so contrived. We're supposed to be thrilled about Harry's sudden change of heart, despite its suddenness. It also annoyed me that his change of heart was based entirely on his butler's testimony rather than Peter's -- honetstly, who trusts their butler over their best friend? I was disappointed that the "inner battle" Peter faces is really nothing more than black goopy stuff from some meteor. Even if he does have to choose not to let it control him, that choice is so much more poignant when the evil really does come from inside you. Emo-Peter -- black eye-liner, black clothes, and bangs hanging in his face -- was just ludicrous.

And of course, we had to hear yet another villain explain why he's not really a bad guy. Ironically, this film is supposed to be about how our choices make us who we are, and how we can always choose to do what's right -- but when a sand-monster chooses to steal money in order to save his daughter's life, we're supposed to forgive him. Wait a second! If he chose to do something bad ... doesn't that make him bad? I'm confused.

Oddly, the part I most enjoyed about this movie was the love story with M-J and Peter. It was interesting to see Peter get all into himself and then have to face the realization that he's not ready for a real relationship with Mary Jane yet.

I guess it all boils down to the unreality of the film. One of the things I've loved about the other two is that they felt realistic to me -- realistic choices, dialogue (for the most part), actions -- even though the story was clearly fantastic. This one, though, just felt silly and fake far too often.

Even the music -- both during the action and during the end credits -- wasn't as good as the last two films. The Snow Patrol song, "Signal Fire," was all right, but it was certainly no "Vindicated."
Not everyone is meant to make a difference. But for me, the choice to lead an ordinary life is no longer an option. (23 points)

The last quote was from Stan Freberg's "St George and the Dragonet." Congrats, Christina!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

saint george and the dragon

Last week in Medieval Lit, we were supposed to surf the web a little and bring to class our favorite visual represenation of Saint George, of dragon-slaying, maiden-saving fame. There were so many great ones that I decided I had five favorites. I did narrow it down to one for class, but I thought I'd post the rest of them here. Because I'm a geek.

I have especially enjoyed seeing how the maiden, the king’s daughter whom George saves by slaying the dragon, appears so differently in each version. In many, she is a frail, swooning creature standing meekly off to the side, out of George’s way. I favor Uccello’s depiction of the maiden: here, she plays an active—albeit small—part in the dragon’s demise by slinging her girdle around the beast’s neck to lead it into the city and showcase the power of George’s God.

I also find it fascinating that in nearly every case, George’s steed is white—perhaps the predecessor to the good-guy white hats in old Western films?

1. By far my favorite depiction of St. George was this one, Peter Paul Rubens’ “Saint George terrassant le dragon” (1606-07). I love its depiction of George as an older and very powerful man, as opposed to the simpering, lovely young man of so many paintings. Just look at those muscles! I also appreciate the sheep that the maiden is holding, and the dragon’s hand curled tightly around the end of George’s shattered spear, trying to pull it out before George can do more damage.

2. Of course, Paolo Uccello’s 1460 depiction is a classic. I particularly like the maiden holding her girdle, which she has thrown around the dragon’s neck (at George’s request) before leading it into the city. I also enjoy the serenity of this scene—it’s so contradictory to the later versions of the legend (esp. Barclay’s “Life of Saint George”).

3. I don’t know who painted this one, but I enjoy the shattered spear lying on the ground and George’s determined look as he wields his sword to finish off the dragon.

4. “Saint George and the Dragon” (1505-06) by Raphael, of Renaissance fame, has an especially small dragon. I’m always surprised, in fact, by the size of the dragon in portrayals of St. George. I also love George’s cape, flying behind him in the wind, and the maiden standing with clasped hands off to the side.

5. And, finally, I appreciated this depiction for its unusual portrayal of a gentle, refined George. Nearly every depiction of St. George shows him slaying the dragon, but this one has him caring for the maiden afterward. And how can you not love the gold armor? Again, I don’t know who created this image, but I nicked it from Catholic Forum’s online Patron Saints Index.

A: I see you got one of them new 45-caliber swords.

B: That's about the size of it.

(61 points)

The last quote, from before "Parentheses," was from the first chapter of Stephenie Meyer's Eclipse, which is now available, and which Erin read to me over the phone last week. What a great friend. Although Erin wasn't allowed points for guessing on that one, she does get an extra 133 points for calling me as soon as she got her hands on it. Well, almost as soon.

"Parentheses" by The Blow

A new favorite song, which I discovered on the IndieFeed Alternative & Modern Rock podcast.

Some philosophies fuel a belief in the self
Constructed to keep one's goods on one's own shelf
Built well you're a strong letter I
With your feet on the ground and your head to the sky

Now and then you can bend
It's okay to lean over my way
You fear that you can't do it all and you're right
Even day takes relief every day
From its work making light from the night

And when you're holding me
We make a pair of parentheses.
There's plenty space to encase
Whatever weird way my mind goes
I know I’ll be safe in these arms

If something in the deli aisle makes you cry
You know I’ll put my arm around you
And I’ll walk you outside
Through the sliding doors
Why would I mind?

You're not a baby if you feel the world
All of the babies can feel the world
That's why they cry

And when you're holding me
We make a pair of parentheses.
There's plenty space to encase
Whatever weird way my mind goes
I know I’ll be safe in these arms

If something in the deli aisle makes you cry
You know I’ll put my arm around you
And I’ll walk you outside
Through the sliding doors
Why would I mind?

By the way, you can download this song for free from merylinabarrel's livejournal.