Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Hope It's Not Amoria Phlebitis...

Who's up for a little cram session? I'll go first. What was the name of the Pilgrims' boat?
The Spirit of St. Louis.
And where'd they land?
Sunny Acapulco.
And why'd they leave England?
Giant rats.

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm feeling a little like Bart Simpson in "Bart Gets an F," but without the whole blizzard thing. Although, that did actually happen to me once. Seriously.

In this instance, the blizzard is the flu. Not for me, for my professor.

It's been a rough week, mostly due to my being sucked into a creative black hole. Motivation out, sloth in. And this state of laziness could not have come at a worse time. I have four written projects (including a midterm essay worth 30% of my final grade) and a production proposal due this week.

The midterm essay is giving me the most trouble. I've always had trouble writing about abstract concepts, mostly because I always feel like I'm writing in circles without actually making any actual arguments. I have written lengthy(ish) research papers about the theory of evolution, the historiography of the American west (with the help of a blizzard - I said I was serious, didn't I?), the role of the Chesapeake Bay in the War of 1812, and the historical accuracy of The Grapes of Wrath. But double-spaced two-page essay assignments about our weekly Aesthetics readings had me about to pull my hair out and torch the textbooks.

I've made decent progress on the midterm essay though. My intro still needs work and I need to actually, you know, finish it, but I'm definitely making progress. My plan was get up today and finish my assignment for today's class, then work on the midterm (due Thursday) after class tonight. I planned to finish it up tomorrow (my off day), and take Thursday morning/early afternoon to proof and make last minute changes.

But today, a small miracle. My class this afternoon was canceled since the professor has the flu. Not only was class canceled, but the professor said that he will "totally understand" if missing a class throws us off and we have to push back our assignment due dates. Methinks he'll wish he didn't say that... So I now have all afternoon to work on and (hopefully) finish my midterm.

Here's hoping I don't end up knowing how George Washington felt when he surrendered Fort Necessity to the French in 1754. Boy would my face be red! (He wasn't always so on-the-ball with the military stuff, you know. And the French have always been frustrating. But I shan't get into that now. Someday, though. Someday. Just you wait...)

Friday, October 16, 2009

An Earthquake Would Be Horrifying for a Prairie Dog

It seems that yesterday was the general test day for college/university text alert systems. Seeing as I never bothered to unsubscribe from the SU alerts, I got something along these lines yesterday morning:

“This is a test of the SU text alert system”

Then, not long after that, I received my test text alert from the grad school. It had a slightly different tone:

“Test only. An 8.3 earthquake struck the LA area. Drop, cover, and hold on. Hold 60 seconds then move. Test only.”

Because I know the first thing I’m going to do if an 8.3 earthquake strikes the LA area is to check my text messages.

But I understand what they were trying to do – yesterday, somewhere in the vicinity of 6.9 million people participated in The Great California ShakeOut, a statewide earthquake drill aimed at teaching people about earthquake preparation and proper reaction. I didn’t participate, but I did poke around their website enough to discover that everything I thought you were supposed to do if an earthquake strikes is wrong. Good to know.

Apparently the whole doorframe theory is based on an old picture taken after an earthquake many years ago – the house was destroyed and all that was left standing was a lone doorframe. Older architecture may have been different, but modern architecture does not guarantee that doorframes will be the strongest points in a house.

Today, the earthquake response of choice is to “drop, cover, and hold on.” Get under a sturdy table, desk, etc. (preferably away from exterior walls, bookshelves, and anything else that could fall on you), cover your head and neck, and hang on for dear life.

I wonder if it’s been proven that people in high-stress situations are better able to remember what to do if the proper safety procedure has been formatted as rhythmic three-part instructions? It certainly makes sense. I would advise that you don’t get “drop, cover, and hold” mixed up with “stop, drop, and roll.” That could be bad.

On to non-earthquake-related stories. I have some great news! I received a package in the mail yesterday with a wonderful surprise. Thanks to Mimi, I am now the proud adoptive parent of a prairie dog at the Maryland Zoo! She sent a picture of the actual prairie dog, as well as a representative to keep me company on the other side of the country. His name is José and I love him.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rain, Sizzler, Sex Shops, Butter, etc.

An amazing thing happened yesterday and today. Water started falling from the sky. The locals are astounded and generally confused.

It's nice to have a little rain. Yesterday it was on-and-off, today it's been raining pretty steadily all morning. I say that I like it right now, but let's wait and see what I think once I get my lazy ass up and leave the apartment. I'm glad I brought my umbrella, which will now have been rained on in Maryland, London, and Los Angeles. What a little traveler.

In unrelated news, who knew that Sizzler's still existed? The only reason I know is because there's one right next to the sex shop I went to last week.

We had to do a project for our production class that involved making a 2 minute film about an embarrassing moment. It had to be a moment we had actually experienced. We had to share these moments with the class, then spend weeks coming up with ways to make them more embarrassing, or "up the stakes." In my case, the stakes were greatly upped by the addition of furry handcuffs. And where else are you going to find furry (animal print, no less) handcuffs, but at a sex shop by a Sizzler? Nowhere I tell you.

In other news, Butter Watch 2009 has ended. I had intended to see just how long that stick of opened butter would sit on the counter and just when it was beginning to look like it might be there forever, a situation arose in which I genuinely feared for my health. I had to end the insanity.

The suspected butter-leaver-outer told me that she was planning to make cookies. I was excited at first, but I quickly became anxious at the thought of eating cookies made with butter that had been sitting out for close to two weeks. I asked if it was her opened stick of butter on the counter. Oh...did I leave that out? Oh my gosh. Yes, it's been there for almost two weeks now. It sucks that you can't just leave butter out here. ...Do you normally leave butter out where you're from? Well you know, like in a butter dish. Oh. Well those generally have lids. Yeah...I guess that's different. And we have flies. So maybe don't use that butter.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Butter Watch 2009

Still there.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Somebody Slap Me.


Why did I ever think that one university would be any less chaotic and disorganized than the last? Somebody slap me.

I needed a form signed so I could film a project on campus. Filming on campus is supposedly easier, because you don’t need to get a permit from the city/county. I needed signatures from the following on-campus people: head of production, public safety, facilities, student housing, and events management. I got the head of production’s signature. I went to public safety, which was somewhat on the way to student housing. Public safety said “we can’t sign this until facilities does, and they probably won’t sign it until student housing signs it.” I appreciated this helpful information. Saved me a pointless trip to facilities.

I went to student housing. “When would you like to set up your appointment?” I don’t need an appointment, I just need this form signed. “We don’t do same-day signing or appointments. You have to schedule a next-day appointment to get it signed.” No one told me that. Or maybe I was sleeping at that exact moment in each of the three separate filming procedure presentations we sat through. That must be it. So I went back to the production office and said, I’m not sure if you all are aware, but student housing is telling people we can’t get same-day signatures for on-campus filming requests. “Yeah, you have to make a appointment ahead of time.” Oh, you’re aware of this? “Oh yeah, the student housing guy is a little crazy. They’ll never sign it same-day.” Oh. I thought since no one told us that maybe you all didn’t know. “No, they’ve been like that for a while. They’ll never sign same day.” Thanks…I think.

So tomorrow, I will go to lower campus to get the student housing signature at 1:15. I will then trudge to upper campus to get facilities to sign. I will hop over to public safety to get that signature. Then I will haul myself back down to lower campus to get a signature and try to weasel my way into the mandatory meeting with events management so I can film on Friday. Then I will go to class to give a presentation on this week’s readings.

On Friday and/or Saturday, I will probably lose my mind.

You see, our production professor told us in class last week that we weren’t ready to film and we should spend an extra week in pre-production. Which we did. Rough cuts of our films are due this Tuesday. There are 12 of us in the program. All 12 of us have to film and edit this weekend, and we all have to be in/helping with each other’s projects. Our final cuts are due the week after this Tuesday. Then we have exactly one week before the rough cut of project 2 is due, and it hasn’t even been assigned yet. And it’s worth 20% of our grade.

Somebody slap me.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My Knowledge Will Bite Your Face Off.

This weekend felt unusually long, which was nice after a week that felt unusually torturous. Without going into too much detail, I will just say that one of our classes is causing a good bit of frustration and misery for all of us. But we will survive. We must survive. End of semester course evaluations will free our souls. Vengeance will be ours.

Since we don't have Friday classes, our weekend begins on Thursday night when our class is over at 7. A group of us made a beeline for the liquor store and went home to drown our sorrows and spend some quality time with our friend television (teacher! mother! secret lover...)

We watched the second episode of FlashFoward, which unfortunately didn't really hold our interest like the first episode did. I know what you're thinking - how many tv shows can keep the attention of a room full of drunk grad students? But you're forgetting - we're television-obsessed drunk grad students.

Then some folks watched The Office, which I don't watch. I know. Just don't even say it, because I know.

Then...the best new show of the fall...Community. Please see the title of the post, spoken by a Spanish professor to his class. Great show. You should all watch it.

At some point during one of the shows, my roommate, the only non-film/television student in the room, asked what everyone thought about the Roman Polanski situation. She immediately regretted that decision. As soon as the words came out of her mouth, everyone started talking at once and a boisterous conversation lasted for the entire commercial break. Then we all stopped talking abruptly because the show was back on. That's how we roll.

Speaking of Roman Polanski, we all gathered again on Friday night to watch Chinatown for a class assignment. Interesting movie. I'll probably give my review of it in a future post. My pre-Chinatown time was spent at the library and at In-N-Out, where I investigated the strawberry milkshake (delicious) and acquired an official paper In-N-Out hat.

Saturday, I ventured to Venice with three friends. Venice is an interesting place...we decided that it was sort of like being transported back in time. Remember those days of the hippie-revival in the early-mid 90s? Still going on in Venice, CA. I found it really strange because the whole place seemed sort of frenzied and crazy, but very relaxed at the same time. Very intriguing. The beach was really nice though and the place definitely makes for some top-notch people watching. I also got a downright fantastic corndog. That's a good day in my book.

Today I did mostly nothing. Worked on some assignments, did some reading...speaking of which, I've actually done all the reading for my classes every week so far. Not skimming - reading. All of it. And taking notes. Before the day of class. It's like some sort of alternate universe.

It's getting cooler outside lately. I don't think it got much above 65 today and the 10-day says it's not going to get much above 70 for a while. Tomorrow night they're calling for a near-record low of *gasp* 54 degrees.

In other random news, Mr. California has been sighted several more times. I last saw him in the library. He walked in, disappeared somewhere, then walked out with several girls. His powers are growing.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I'd Sell My Soul for a Doughnut...

In my search for a graduate school, I looked at many factors. Among other things, I considered the program focus, size, and duration, the faculty-student ratio, the availability of on-campus graduate housing, and the location of the school in regards to necessary resources (grocery stores, job and internship opportunities, etc.).

It has come to my attention that I neglected to consider one factor. In my current situation, I am lacking in one extremely important and necessary resource. And I’m truly ashamed of myself for letting this slip past my radar.

I had heard rumors, but I didn’t think they would be true (there’s no way they could be true...). But it has been confirmed.

There are no Dunkin’ Donuts’ in Los Angeles. I can’t even positively 100% confirm that there are currently any stores in the entire state of California. D’oh!

I feel lost and unsure. I don't know what's going to happen. I'm scared. And a little hungry.