Archive for December, 2005

Just Happy To Be Alive

WordPress lost my last post, which is pretty gay. It’s not the first time it’s happened so I’m not too surprised. Anyways, five days of hell ended at 5:00 PM today, otherwise known as finals period. Here are the relevant stats:

  • Finals: 2
  • Final Papers (in pages): 28
  • Most Hours Consecutively Awake: 30
  • Shortest Nap (in minutes): 30
  • Longest Nap (in hours): 13
  • Esimated total sleep (in hours): 20
  • Showers: 1
  • Teeth-brushing: 2
  • Food of choice (eaten most frequently): instant oatmeal
  • Times I played “Genie in a Bottle” to fuck with Gene: 6
  • Times I said “fuck”: Innumerable
  • All-nighter AIM Convo’s between me and Mike Koler: 2
  • Hours wasted talking to Belzer: 4
  • Times I saw the sun rise: 3
  • Times I saw the sun set: 0
  • Lessons learned about not procrastinating until finals: 0

I think that sums up the past week better than any long-winded narrative could. It was crazy. But I’m finished and alive, and, aside from good grades, that’s the best I could hope for.

December 16, 2005 at 4:03 am Leave a comment

We all look same, no?

A girl wrote a rather controversial editorial in the Chronicle, Duke’s newspaper, today about the upcoming film “Memoirs of a Geisha.” Here’s the link. Her grievance, simply put, is that films involving Asian cultures have been Americanized and manipulated, and therefore, grossly misrepresent the culture they are attempting to portray. For example, she takes offense to the blue eyes in the movie poster. Her argument for the presence of systematic and intentional manipulation on the part of the filmmakers and film marketers to Americanize “Memoirs…” is not very strong. She takes a lot of liberties and makes a lot of presumptions in the absence of empirical evidence. For example, when she suggests foul play in the casting of Ziyi Zhang, her only evidence is the plethora of Japanese actresses who also auditioned for the role. So her argument sucks, but it still raises a few important questions.

Is Asian Culture misrepresented in America Cinema?

I feel, like the author of the editorial, the answer is an unequivocal yes. In the last thirty years, the majority of films involving Asian Culture, made in the U.S., involve some kind of martial arts or swordplay. This is an obvious misrepresentation. If you were to get off a plane in China or Japan, you probably wouldn’t see anything close to what is portrayed in American Cinema. So there’s misrepresentation on the part of American Filmmakers, but what makes that significant?

Is this mispresentation significant?

Unlike the author of the editorial, I feel the answer is an unequivocal. Misrepresentation of a culture is not unprecedented at all. American Cinema misrepresents pretty much all culture in their films. Do you really think “You Got Served? is an accurate representation of Black culture? Do you really think “The Transporter? represents Western European culture? These misrepresentations, I would argue, are just as gross as those inflicted upon Asian culture. After all, all British men are not all spies and all Black women are not all big-boned and loud-mouthed. Furthermore, I’m sure Chinese or Japanese cinema does the same for movies involving American culture. I’d be curious to see how they portrayed us, but I can’t foresee it being anymore accurate than we do of them. Misrepresentation is endemic in all film industries, and the reason is simple.

Most movies don’t strive to accurately represent anything.

Movies strive to present only representations that will sell in their prospective market. Film is, at its core, about manipulating reality to make it more entertaining. The question in Hollywood is: how can we tweak this culture or selectively represent it to maximize its marketing value? So if misrepresentation angers you, don’t blame the film, blame the film industry and its priorities/goals. Blame the consumer. If you look at the top grossing films in Hollywood at any given time, few if any of them can assert to be an accurate portrayal of their source material; that’s why they’re raking in the cash. Put simply, American consumers want a misrepresentation of Asian cultures; they desire an Americanized geisha. It is a product they are more willing to buy. The bottom line is that cinematic misrepresentation is inevitable in a market where it sells. If you don’t like it the image marketed of your culture, tough cookies. If you like it, lucky for you. But if you’re like most people, just accept the fact that you’re misrepresented in film and move on. As for me, I’m more concerned about how I am represented to others than my culture, because at least that’s something I can control.

On a more comic note, the author includes a rather amusing boast about herself in the article.

“…I frankly don’t need any more American men marketing East Asian women as exotic. It’s bad enough that I’ve lost count of how many Duke men have described me as such.?

I’ll admit I haven’t seen her in person. But from her picture, that statement seems to be a gross misrepresentation of Duke men. We definitely have higher standards than that. Exotic? She’s not even pedestrian.

December 8, 2005 at 12:30 am Leave a comment

She’s So Many Words in My Vernacular

I saw this away message a few minutes ago, and felt compelled to provide some commentary on its idiocy. The message read as follows:

studying incesently, if you know what that word means please im me and give me a break

The great thing about this comment is it incorrectly spells the very word that is supposed to confer the writer with superior status to the reader. If you’re going to make condescending or elitist comments, rule number one is to make sure you spell everything correctly. Otherwise, it just doesn’t have the same effect.

December 7, 2005 at 10:09 pm Leave a comment

Cry Me a River

The coldest day of this semester was definitely today. It was about 30 F when I was outside, but the low is supposed to be in the 20’s. Just got back from class; here’s a quick summary. Woke up at 10:00, wasted some time, headed over to the gym for weight training, took a shower (the first in a few days), walked to BioSci for AIDS and Emerging diseases, took a little detour to the Law Library to pick up a book for my PS 142 research project, then headed back to the dorm. Here’s where the real story of the day begins. The door was locked, and Chris was lying down on the bed, face down, crying. The weirder thing is this isn’t the first time it has happened. He’s cried in the room on at least five other occasions this semester. I always try to ignore it, because I’m not a dick and don’t take pleasure in making the kid feel worse than he appears to be feeling. Yet, it’s repeated occurence has me a bit irked and a bit unsettled, more of the later. His ex-girlfriend broke up with him about three months ago. This is their second breakup in two years. She has made it clear she no longer has any feelings for him and does not want him back. He has listened, he has though, he has concluded to move on. Yet, he still holds onto the faint hope that they can still rejoin. He refuses to accept the finality of the destruction of their relationship. And it is because he loves her, and love is powerful thing. I won’t contest that. Love has started and ended wars. Love creates the most intense of passion and the most putrid of hate. But love does not do one thing. Love cannot make others love us; that is beyond love’s scope. If Kierkegaard and Donald in Adaptation has taught us anything, love is, at its core, personal. Love is ours to keep, ours to cherish, and no one can take it away from us. Why weep and moan over the fact that someone else does not share our love when we have it all for ourselves? It is their loss not ours. That’s why I don’t get Chris’s reaction to his breakup. You still have your love, and that’s better than any third go-around with her could ever be.

“We are what we love, not what loves us.”

-Donald Kaufman from Adaptation

December 7, 2005 at 3:38 pm Leave a comment

Yesterday…my troubles didn’t exactly go away

The day wasn’t very notable at all. I woke up at about 2:15 just in time to make it to my 2:50 class. The weather was absolutely putrid. Windy, cold, dark, and rainy. The kind of Seatlesque weather that makes magnifies peoples problems and drives them to plunge to their deaths. I’m sure somebody in Durham comitted suicide yesterday. It’s a statistical necessity that someone just got fed up living in the slums of North Carolina. Anyways, I wasted a good amount of time after class, putting up a new post, dropping by Matt and Marc’s room, taking a nap. I woke up at 8:15, picked up some Subway, and trekked over to the library to start up the research for my PS 142 paper. My topic is pretty straightforward. I’m doing a case study of the Power Transition between the U.S. and Britain in the interwar period. I’ll probably put a link to the paper on this blog when I’m done. The library trip itself was intoxicatingly boring. After scrambling around the library to find the necessary books and selecting which ones I was going to take back to the dorm, all in the musty air and ominous lighting that is the Perkins Stacks, I was ready to crash for the night. When I got back to the dorm, Chris was bumming around on his computer as usual. I, honestly, haven’t seen him do any work in the last two weeks, which doesn’t bode well for finals. I messed around with the blog settings a little until I got into bed at 2:00. Chris walked back into the room, high and talking to his mom, which is, sadly, not too surprising anymore. He was still in bed when I woke up today, meaning that he missed at least two classes. I don’t know what the kid is thinking or what his priorities are in life, but he’s got to get that shit together. The worst is to come.

December 7, 2005 at 11:14 am Leave a comment

Salvaging the Offseason

The Cubs finally did something right this offseason. After letting the Dodgers leapfrog over them in the Rafael Furcal negotiations, the Cubs have traded for Juan Pierre from the Marlins. According to ESPN, here are the details:

The Florida Marlins have tentatively agreed on a four-player deal that would send Juan Pierre to the Chicago Cubs, for three young pitchers — Sergio Mitre and prospects Renyel Pinto and Ricky Nolasco

The acquisition of Pierre is a good for a few reasons. One, it gives the Cubs a legitimate leadoff threat. Pierre gets on base at a high clip and steals the bags with the best of them. He is also relatively young at 28, which means, barring injury, he has at least 4 more years of peak performance left in him. Two, it makes Corey Patterson expendable. With Pierre at the top of the lineup, we can afford to dangle Patterson and see who is willing to overpay for his “Five Tool Prospect” potential. I’ve grown tired of Patterson’s free-swinging ways in the last few years. He has never hit for a high average at the Major League level and has not demonstrated the plate patience required to be a leadoff hitter an any level. Quite frankly, I’ll be glad when he packs up all his “potential” and brings it elsewhere. Third, it was relatively cheap. Sergio Mitre is the only notable prospect in the deal, and like Patterson, he’s a case of potential and nothing more. Mitre has been generally unimpressive everytime he’s called up from Triple A. In his MLB career, he’s pitched 120 innings with a 6.12 ERA. Last season, it was 5.37, still too high to be considered a drastic improvement. Quite frankly, I was glad to see Mitre and his gay ass goatee leave town. He never amounted to anything here anyways. Acquiring Pierre definitely softens the blow of losing out on Furcal. Both have very similar numbers. At the plate, it’s tough to make an arguement of one’s superiority over the other. Furcal hit for a higher average, about 10 points, and has a slightly higher On Base Percentage, about 20 points, last season. But Pierre, throughout his career, has consistently stolen more bases and struck out less. Defensively, both are superior fielders. Based on their fielding alone, either could be up for Gold Glove consideration at any time during their career. The distinguishing factor on defense is that Furcal has a strong arm while Pierre does not. There’s also the question of need. The exit of Nomar made Shortstop the most pressing need at the moment. Taking that all into account, Furcal probably would’ve been the best pickup, but Juan Pierre is not too shabby either.

December 7, 2005 at 4:16 am Leave a comment

A Shot for the Ages?

A Duke student put up a clip of Dockery’s mirculous shot yesterday night. There’s a link at the bottom of this post if you want to download it. Anyways, watching the shot a few times gave me a greater awareness of the luck involved. It was not even a shot, but a “chuck” from nearly mid-court. Yet, people, all through today, are talking about it being a shot for the ages. I think, at this point, the jury is still out. The formula is usually Big play + big game = history. There is no doubt Dockery’s shot was a big play, but it’s unclear whether it was truly a big game. It was still early in the season. Virginia Tech is no pushover as a member of the ACC conference. I, honestly, don’t think we would’ve dropped that far in the polls. Michigan State already has two losses on the year, one to a strong Gonzaga team and the other, in lopsided fashion, to a mediocre Hawaii team. MSU is ranked 14th. A loss to VT may have put us at 10th – 13th, largely because it was on our home court. This drop is really trivial because, it is still early in the season and we have a number of games against tough opponenents to climb back up, like the matchup against #2 Texas next weekend. Last year, North Carolina lost early in the season to Santa Clara, a relative no-name in Division-I basketball. But with the strength of the ACC schedule, they were able to recover to reclaim #1 and win a national chamipionship. There was no reason that if Duke lost last night, it wouldn’t have been able to do the same. Given, the ACC is a weaker conference than it was last year because of the departure of veteran players on key teams, namely North Carolina, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, NC State. But all these teams with the exception of Georgia Tech are still ranked not to mention that BC, #6 currently, joined the ACC over the summer. The point is that the game against VT was a loseable game. Laettner’s shot was during the NCAA tournament. No games, at that point, were loseable. A loss would’ve meant elimination. That is not to say that Dockery made any less of an amazing shot because of the game’s low stakes. But it does make the shot more dispensable in terms of our memory and the history books. Plug Dockery’s shot into the formula and I’m not quite sure what you get. Big play + small game = ? Maybe a few Sportscenter reels and a clip on Ebaumsworld. I think the ultimate test is whether remember Dockery and his heroics are remembered after finals and winter break. And the answer is sad, but sure: Probably not. When we fly or drive back to Durham in the January chill there will be many things on our minds: new classes, telling friends about our break, buying textbooks, rushing and pledging. But Dockery and his 40 foot chuck will not be one of them. It will be a afterthought, mere scribbling on the wall of the cavern that is our minds.

Here’s the link if you were a bum and slept through the game like my roomate.

December 5, 2005 at 10:53 pm Leave a comment

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