Sunday, April 25, 2010

?s for Rory

This came from a whale notebook from last summer. I was preparing for interviews for the Scrivener.

1. Hi. How are you?

2. What are your duties?

3. What have you learned as a secretary?

4. What are your pet peeves?

5. What would make your job easier?

6. What do you love about working here?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Learning Scheme

This week I'm cleaning out my room and old notebooks. Everyday I'm posting some random things I've written. Today, from a book that must date to my junior high days (when I wanted to be called Penn-with-two-n's among my friends, I found some academic plans from freshman year of college).

Very easy

Every month submit something

list of several BYU student publications

The 2nd of every month

Moderately hard

Stay on campus 8-4
study pants off
-exercise (gym lockers)
-study groups
-listen to good music
-walks with friends
-International Cinema
-Write letters

A couple of pages of lists of my favorite Russian composers, a key to Morse Code the Greek alphabet. Probably missing the "Very Hard" title page.

3 alphabets besides my own

4 constellations in:

3 hymns may accompany
Identify 74 birds
Memorize 3 Shakespearean poems

finally, in a different pen:

Now is the time to be decent and kind
Who are you?
Must prepare to meet God today

Quite heartening to see how I've always been ambitious. Quite saddening to see how little of this I've accomplished. Very, very adorable.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Highlights

Best moments of my graduate experience at BYU:

+ Holding up "Your Great" signs when Lynn Truss visited.
+ RSA Conference @ Penn State
+Crashing Walter Benn Michael's dinner and getting him to admit that Dierdre McCloskey thinks his economist are faulty
+Reading Wilkinson's personal (and extensive) files.
+Researching identification in Divine Comedy audience members and RMMLA conference
+ Publishing my volume of poetry
+Working on the Scrivener
+Writing my novel
+CCCCs with my mom in San Francisco

10 Million Dollars

As part of the process that starts with my graduation and speeds up with my mom's disapproval, I've started cleaning out my bedroom. This includes starting to throw out half-used spiral notebooks. Flipping through these notebooks, I discovered useless musings, half-formed ideas and pointless lists: in short, hard-copy blog posts.

So in honor of graduation, I'll be sharing something I found in the piles every day this week. This week, a gem titled "10 Million Dollars," probably circa 2004. And now, without further etc.

1. University hopping--never endingly at Oxford and Harvard & just collect degrees in things.
2. Make an orphanage in Russia after my own design, be benevolent dictator.
3. Arm a small revolution in a Central American country. Get Soviet Realist portraits made of myself.
4. Buy up the art from crowded, unair-conditioned European museums. Give it to BYU's Museum of Art. Get invited to galas.
5.Big old Chekov-esque orchard and let the fruit get stolen and go rancid or patronize gypsies and be a symbol of the tragic aristocracy.
6.Two words: plastic surgury

Monday, April 19, 2010


It's almost 4:00 am. This is my fourth or fifth time up. I tried watching TV, a little warm milk, reading "The Metaphors We Live By," the works. It may be the Coke I drank tonight, but I think it's clear: I've got springsomnia.

This happens every spring, especially when I'm not taking classes, not working. I lay awake at the end of the school year, thinking about what I'm going to do this summer. This sounds like a very prudent thing to do, but not at 4:00 am, not four hours before I'm due to give a final, and not when the summer plans tend towards the absurd.

That's the funny thing about springsomnia--nothing seems to make sense in the morning. In the evening, though, you're thinking, "This is the year I'm going to grow corn in the garden...and take up bocce...and learn Italian...and write a tour guide to BYU bathrooms...and hike Timp...twice..." And by a decent hour, you're wondering how you expect to do any of this, especially considering that you barely did your homeworking and visiting teaching during the school year. At least you were full of dreams (metaphorically, of course, literally, you barely got 1 1/2 hours of sleep).

Here's what I've got so far: From now until the end of May, I'll finish the Darkwater Grammar, volunteer at the Downtown flower plant-a-thon, participate in Brian's reading group, finish Wimmer's project (finally!), hike Timp caves, run a 5k or two. All the while, I'll be studying Spanish, because I want to go to Belize after my RSA conference to spend 6 weeks with an international aid/vacation program because I have a lot of money and no plans. Then with my last month or so I'll fondly spend time with my family, maybe go to Oregon/Washington with them to visit my old summer place, or head down the beach for a while, and then pack up and head out to Austin in a caravan of all the crap I've accumulated over the years. That seems perfectly reasonable for a summer.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Cue "Good Riddence" and Vitamin C

Ah, the end of my BYUness.

I haven't really thought much about it, probably because I'm prone to nostalgia, even in the moment of nostaling: I cried my last week of high school. I hate the idea of moving on, leaving things, forgetting things. I'll turn in my last paper of BYU. I'll clean out my graduate instructor cubicle. I'll have to prepare to live far away from all my friends and family, in a place where I don't know the age and ownership of almost every building. Sigh...

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Dregs

Wow. That was the worst BYU production I've seen in a long time. In fact, I'm kind of surprised that the director was able to enough unattractive, tone-deaf bad actors to stage As You Like It. How bad was it? Let me count the ways.

1. Muddled concept.
According to the dramaturge, this production was inspired by Eastern European coups. And homeless people? And, judging by the costumes and accents, cowboys and hipsters and biker gangs. And the prologue told us that this takes place in the United States. What now? The hodgepodge was a mess, with no clear direction or theme. Instead, it was as if the director had suffered indecision and just thrown every modernization concept into one production. In the program, she admits that when someone asked her if she was going to portray this play as romantic comedy or political commentary, she replied, "Why choose one over the other?" The answer, Ms. Mellon, is well illustrated by this disaster of a play.

2. Terrible casting.
In addition to not coming up with a clear direction, Ms. Mellon was evidently scraping the bottom of the BYU acting bucket when she cast. Now, in her defense, she was compelled to include as many seniors as possible, especially those many upperclassmen who admit in their cast bios that this is their first BYU production (ow!), but do we have to shell out $14 a pop in order to see leading ladies who are a foot taller than their romantic interests, and strikingly unattractive shepherdesses, and (and this is rather shocking) the entire Mellon family, including husband and, in a departure from tradition stagings of As You Like It, even her children. What? Has childcare really become that expensive?

3. A wretched lead.
It's hard to not take the opportunity to single out Ashley Bonner as the shining pinnacle of bad casting. Unfortunately, she also played Rosalind, the lead. At one point in the play, the evil Duke forbids his daughter to associated with Rosalind because "she is too subtle." Ah, if only. Ms. Bonner was subtle to the same degree as a air raid, and roughly as shrill. She meloacted her way through Shakespeare's witty lines with such extremes of response that it's surprising that she didn't fling herself off the stage in paroxysms of overacting. In her defense: you could hear her from the balcony and brought to the role the natural appearance of a man.*

4. A tone-deaf supporting lady.
Anne Shakespeare, as Celia, was correctly shorter than Ms. Bonner. If this had been a normal production, she could have acted her way through. Unfortunately, Ms. Mellon decided to inflict Ms. Shakespeare with two solos, the audience being caught in the unfortunate crossfire between her singing and the actual notes. Somewhere, the entire band of Death Cab for Cutie is weeping. And not for the typical reasons.

5. Shameless pandering.
Poor Death Cab was drawn into this play, and probably not willingly, thanks to fair use laws. Bright Eyes and Ingrid Michelson were also misused at various places in the production, but I'm afraid it didn't necessarily add much to the play except for all of the students who where attending to fullfill a class requirement were able to sit up and say, "hey, I know that song." (Not that they did that often--I watched two young students around me get comfy and doze off after a few minutes of darkness.) Misusing popular music may be low, but not as low as exploiting the children. Aside from an allusion to Jaques' famous "stages of life" speech, the small children that were constantly being paraded about appeared to serve no other function than try to distract from the childishness of the adult actors. Throw a few pop songs and three-year-olds in a play and the audience is sure to love it, right? Oh. And there was a singalong and dancing on the stage at the end. Only if they had thrown in a few Jones sodas could it have been more shameless.

6. Poor stagecraft.
Aside from the major faults, there was a cascade of minor ones that added to the whole jumbled effect of the production. The actors didn't know their lines (and this was the final night!). They spoke right over any laughter or applause that the audience offered them, often rushing through three or four lines without so much as a pause. They muttered and spoke quickly or levied heavy pauses in. Awkward places that. Didn't make sense. The stage fighting was laughable. At first, we though it was stylistic, but then it became obvious that comedy was not the intention. I watched Ms. Shakespeare raise a flat palm perpendicular to her chest before issuing the line that would evoke a "slap" from her father. It's okay to fake a slap, but do you need to prepare for two or three seconds before? It's not a fault of her ladylike disinclination to violence; the wrestlers weren't much better as they grunted before they were hit and kept a solid foot and a half between foot and stomach, hand and face. People tripped over sets, knocked into each other on accident, dropped things. It was sloppy all around.

Over all, it was outclassed by high school productions I have seen, and while I am disgusted that BYU's drama department would hoist this on an unsuspecting public (and season ticket holders), it did give me a giddy joy of criticism that I haven't had since the awful staging of Beggar's Opera in 2003, but without the well-designed costumes and "shocking" morals. Incidentally, As You Like It was concerned that we were going to be offended by the violence and double-entendres, even suggesting that this production was no appropriate for children under thirteen. There was no disclaimer for how immorally bad the quality would be.

*Now, I would feel some remorse over this characterization, if I didn't have it on good authority that Ms. Bonner was not as gracious a principal as behooves someone who lists only hailing from Texas on her bio. Having a prima donna in a production is never pleasant. It is far less pleasant when she is sub-prima.