Sunday, June 23, 2002

A couple links:
A review of the new Berkeley Rep production, Cloud Nine.

Friday, June 14, 2002

I have another book review in the Daily Cal today. Erin wrote one too.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

On his site today, Rahul posted this odd advertisement that he found in an old magazine. While he seems to think it shows bad intentions by the US government (offering bonuses to people who find uranium in their backyards), I think it might just have been a sincere attempt to rip people off.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Apparently they cancelled "The Education of Max Bickford", which while inevitable, is also unfortunate. I never even got to plug the show on this site. "Max Bickford" was far from perfect, but it was nice to have a mirror put up to college life that didn't focus on sex. Its ripped-from-the-headlines style occasionally made it melodramatic (of course, not on the level of "Boston Public"), and it got worse as the season wore on, but it was worth watching most of the time, both for the Berkeley-like controversies and Bickford's interactions with his colleagues (the episode where he completes his thinly-veiled memoir is a good example) .

Professors make interesting subjects. There's a whole sub-genre of literature about college professors. Like "Wonder Boys", which I didn't read, but saw on video recently. The movie suffered from some of the same problems as another Michael Chabon work, "The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay", those being mainly over complication and too many subplots. Ironically, overwriting is the problem the protagonist is having with his novel in "Wonder Boys". I loved the set-up, and the interactions between the different characters, but in the end, there are too many lose ends that don't add anything and that all get solved together, with really no solution.

Friday, May 31, 2002

The Daily Cal published my review of "Everything is Illuminated" today. Unfortunately, their website does not seem to be up. So go pick up a copy in the meantime. [update: here's the link].

Thursday, May 30, 2002

This evening I saw a warning to prospective students scrawled on a newspaper rack in black marker. It read something like, "Beware of Cal, it's really Bezerkeley". I can't be sure the grafitti was the work of a reactionary, but doesn't it sound like this or this? Why would you want to discount the value of the degree you just recieved by disparaging the place it came from? Or if you hated it so much, why didn't you leave?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: there is a huge audience of right wingers for any attacks on the academy. But while Rory and others may gain fame and Patriot readers, they're just a bunch of self-hating intellectuals.

Monday, May 27, 2002

I've been using blogtrack to check for updates, but it doesn't work all the time--sometimes it misses updates, sometimes says there have been updates when there apparently haven't been.
It's been a few days since I've posted. I've been busy. I started my internship on Friday, but mostly I've been playing with my new digital camera--a graduation present--and doing other extracurricular, er, postcurricular activities. I went to the Clarendon Hills concert, and a couple graduation parties on Saturday. Today my girlfriend Erin and I went for a hike and then watched the Lakers win another close one. They're going to give me a heart attack one of these days.
Anyways, I hope to post soon regarding Wonder Boys (which I finally just saw), relating it to Michael Chabon's other book and the television show Max Bickford. And I'm reading Jonathon Safran Foer's book Everything Is Iluminated; a review may be forthcoming.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Beetle Beat says "Page 1: Dead body found in park, confirming what everyone already knew." But the theory around my house was that Chandra Levy was kidnapped by some rich Saudi and forced to join his harem. (Okay, I never believed this either, but they say it happens). Anyway, this still doesn't confirm anything. Where has she been all this time? This is total conspiracy fodder. The current prediction at my house is that we (encouraged by the media) will spend all summer talking about Levy and shark attacks, and then around September.... Oh, nevermind.

By the way, is a potential war between India and Pakistan news anymore? (Asked about his statement a few days ago about "war clouds," he said, "The sky is clear; there are no clouds." He quickly added, "But in a clear sky there can be sudden lightning." Then, whether to keep Pakistan off guard, or because he is willing to give peace a chance, he said, "I hope there will not be any lightning.")What do they call this, saber rattling? It must be another Star Wars metaphor.
For Calstuff's Kevin and any other future Daily Cal columnists, I have a suggestion. Feel free to ignore it. I think it would be cool if a columnist used his column not only for a weekly rant, but to unfold a narrative. Make up a few fake friends, perhaps a alternate narrator persona, and a plot arc for the semester. It could be something simple like boy meets girl, boy loses girl, yadda yadda. I know some people say that there is too much narrative in our society, but I say there isn't enough in the Daily Cal. You could even slip the story into more timely pieces: "I was having dinner with my friend Tania, and she said..." The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Another thing via the Times: Harvard is tightening its grading standards. They're making a B+ more valuable so that professors won't be afraid to give them instead of A-.In addition, now only 60% of students will be able to graduate with honors (instead of the current 90%). The whole thing seems overblown to me. How many people graduate with honors at Berkeley? I'm guessing less than 10%.

Also, on the way home I noticed a flyer for the Clarendon Hills. They're playing this Saturday at 925 Gilman (8pm, $5). Back in the day, these guys played the Green Party Party (I couldn't link to the image so I stole it). Pepito Pea was also once a nominal Satellite editor.
There's some interesting stuff in the New York Times:
The A's traded (the other) Giambi; somebody found Chandra Levy's body; there's a good editorial about the terrorism warnings (at least the first few paragraphs); and a book review about the cosmopolitan muse of dada.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Thanks Bayblog, for noticing me (unlike some other awards), and putting political differences aside.

more on this later.

Until then, check out your moment of zen.
I put my first Satellite article up on the archives. It's about the third world Liberation Front. (I apologize for the lack of design on the page.)

I start a two-month internship tomorrow with Terrain, the magazine of Berkeley's Ecology Center.

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Last night was the season finale and Will Ferrell's last night on SNL. They made a surprisingly big deal about it. I feel like they usually wait for someone to die before they make this big a deal over them. Ferrell was in every sketch, including his familiar Alex Trebek and Fidel Castro, but he didn’t do his George W. Bush impression. His departure leaves the question, who will do Bush next year?

This reminds me of an idea I had a little while ago. I hate the a cappella groups that seem to be ubiquitous on college campuses, Berkeley not excepted. They always do the same old songs. Wouldn’t it be more interesting if they did songs based on the news? A little political parody might go a long way. Possible topics include the Catholic Priest scandal or the Palestine-Israel conflict. There’s a whole genre of Mexican music that does this kind of current event reporting, and rap occasionally does it too.
As announced at half time of the Nets-Celtics game, Golden State will get the third pick in the NBA draft, after Chicago Bulls and Houston. Houston will probably pick Yao Ming, and Chicago will probably pick Duke's Jay Williams, or maybe trade the pick for a more experienced player. Meanwhile, the game is really good. Unlike most Eastern Conference games, this game is actually high scoring. The Nets are winning.
I saw a debate about marriage on Fox News today between someone who wants to pass a national "defense of marriage" act, and a woman who thinks homosexuals should be allowed to marry. The conservative said that he wasn't against equal rights for gays, including the right to adopt (he would leave that up to an electoral process); he primarily wanted to defend the heterosexual-only definition of the word. He also said that marriage was about protecting children (and thus, keeping "marriage" heterosexual would somehow send a "positive" message to children).

One of my guests pointed out a contradiction in the conservative’s argument. If marriage is truly about protection of children, you should want people adopting children to marry, and thus homosexuals, since they can adopt, should also be able to marry. I suspect he doesn’t really support the right of homosexuals to adopt. If I’m right he’s being very intellectually dishonest.

Later in the day, we watched as the Lakers demolished the Kings in Sacramento.
I'm sorry I'm missing the "blogger party". I was entertaining out of town guests who came for my graduation.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

I finished my paper. It's crap. But at this point, the day before graduation, I couldn't really care less. Anyway, I'd rather read the profile of Shaq in the current New Yorker (I don't think it's online).
Speaking of Shaq, those Lakers are sooo good. As predicted below, the conference finals are down to 1st vs. 3rd seed match-ups. The symmetry of how they got there is pretty amazing. Each series went 5 games after being split 1-1.

The new issue of the East Bay Express has an article about David Brock’s tenure at the Daily Cal, where he was known to embellish and generally cause trouble. The article details numerous discrepancies between his book and reality. In other words, he’s a liar. I think my response to the article was the opposite of what the author intended. I feel, actually, kind of inspired. Although one must, I feel, uphold journalistic ethics, David Brock comes off as someone who could always find the most interesting part of a news story. His hubris may have reached too far, but at least he isn’t boring.

Regarding the Daily Cal’s trouble with the ASUC, I have a couple questions which perhaps somebody can answer. As the recent earthquake reminded me, isn’t Eshleman going to be torn down pretty soon? In that case, the Daily Cal needs to find an alternate space regardless. And what about the seventh floor? Can’t that be made usable for ASUC groups? What has the executive vice president been doing all year anyway? I think if anything, the Daily Cal’s lease should be made less expensive. I’m sure the market value of that kind of space is a lot lower than it was a couple years ago. But regardless, I think the paper will pull through. We’re only going through a temporary slump in ad revenue that is affecting all kinds of publications, but the economy is bound to turn around soon.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

One of my classes has been cancelled at least four times this semester (I've lost count), sometimes with less than two hours notice, such as today. In addition, we haven't gotten our second paper back yet, even though we have another paper due Thursday, and the final hasn't been explained, even though there aren't any more official class meetings! The explanation for all of this is that our professor has been going to conferences all year. I can understand the pressure to go to conferences and get published, but there's got to be a limit. (It's a Tuesday-Thursday class, so he gets 4-day weekends to travel or grade or write).

I guess I should make more of it than a chance to update my blog. I guess I'll go study for a bit, before my next class.

Sunday, May 12, 2002

I'm trying to write my philosophy paper but other things keep getting in the way of phenomenology. Changing the template of my blog (let me know what you think), or calling my mom for instance, or watching the Lakers win in their usual come-from-behind, make-the-fans-suffer-first fashion. Last night it was the SUPERB Spring Concert, which was great by the way. At least I really liked the jazz inflected hip hop of the Black Eyed Peas and the hiphop inflected jazz of Spearhead. I don't like or listen to punk rock, so I won't comment on the other band. No matter how good your dj is, it makes a huge difference to have a live band behind a rap group.

Thursday night I went with Erin to Yoshi's for the first time to see the Brad Mehldau trio. We stayed for both sets, which was good because the second set was better than the first. I don't know enough about jazz to really talk about it, but I think their music is beautiful. Erin says its "moody jazz" It's very composed and kind of down tempo, especially the two ballads that they ended each set with. They played a cover of Radiohead's "Everything in its Right Place" that was fantastic.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

Daily Cal Review editor Sen Onishi reviews the state of campus publishing in today's paper. His article seems intended to encourage people to join student publications, which is of course a noble goal. But did he forget what section of the paper he's writing for? I want value judgments! I want to hear: Berkeley Political Review is useless, or Satellite is "strangely boring" as some seem to believe, with perhaps an few explanations of these judgments. Instead he just lists which publications exist and divides them into categories. He explains the increase in publications with the tech boom, without mentioning the improved funding structure Satellite and others worked hard for, or the Daily Cal's own incompetence, which has led directly to some new publications.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

In today's Daily Cal, Paul Thornton writes somewhat sarcastically that BearMail is the best thing to happen this school year. If one wants to judge the school year, I think the "spiffy new pcs" with the flat screens that appeared in the computer labs over the break easily rival BearMail. After all, you can get your uclink mail from any internet connection in the world through hotmail. (Although it's starting to really bug me that Microsoft is suddenly getting tight with its "free" email service, constantly warning me that my meager 2megs of space is filling up, or that for $20 I can ensure that my account won't disappear if I don't access it for a month, even though I check it several times a day.) And he doesn't mention the real reason no one should visit any more. It hasn't been updated in at least a semester. (And doesn't the Daily Cal own

Besides the spiffy new PCs, this year also saw the reopening (finally) of the beautifully refurbished Berkeley Public Library (check it out if you haven't), as well as the Bear's Lair. Also a slowly but steadily improving Publications Center in Eshleman, campus speakers like Christopher Hitchens, Noam Chomsky, and Ralph Nader (who some of us had been trying to get here for 4 years). And Russian-American pop artists Komar and Melamid for a whole semester.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

I would love to see Yao Ming come play in Oakland. According to this article, the Warriors have the second best chance in the lottery to get him. But it appears they aren't too interested. There's a large Chinese community in Oakland and San Francisco, so it would be a nicer place for him to play than Dallas or Utah, although foreign players have prospered there. The Warriors would probably just drive him away, ala Chris Webber.
It shouldn't surprise anyone, but documents show that Enron manipulated the California energy market for its own profit. Enron used strategies with nicknames like "Death Star", "Fat Boy", and "Get Shorty". "Load Shift" involved the deliberate overstatement of energy to create the appearance of congestion which it would also be paid to relieve (without relieving anything).

UC is already suing over Enron's inflated profit reports, but it will be hard to recover anything. What I would like to see are criminal prosecutions.

Monday, May 06, 2002

A couple things this week on the cultural landscape: Jazz pianist Brad Mehldau and his trio play at Yoshi's this week. I was introduced to his music when I took the jazz decal a couple years ago. Here's a description from the website: The trio has a serious talent for combining sophisticated harmonies, juggling time signatures, bringing insight, emotion and imagination to original material and standards, with Mehldau's sensitive phrasing, and melodic ingenuity, providing the perfect balance of accessiblity and invention.

Also, the tickets for Superb's Spring Concert (Sat. May 11 at 5pm) featuring Black Eyed Peas and Spearhead are available now at Zellerbach. Last year with the aging Violent Femmes was horrible, but maybe this one will be more like the concert two years ago when
Ozomatli played.

Anyone interested in working on a student publication next year might want to check this out.

What's up with the ASUC website?.

Sunday, May 05, 2002

The New York Times has a couple of articles you probably don't need to read: an explanation of blogs in the Books section, and the first of a three part series on getting into college (which somehow seems so 1997).

I saw part of the White House Correspondents Dinner on CSPAN. Drew Carey hosted. I learned a couple new things about him: apparently he's a Republican, and he doesn't wear glasses anymore because of laser eye surgery. Somehow this new Drew Carey isn’t quite as funny. His best line came after he acknowledged Colin Powell and another top general. He then complimented the regular troops, who follow every command, “even the really stupid ones.”

Improvisational sample musicians Scattershot Theory (friends of a friend) played the Bowles luau tonight. I enjoyed the music but the residents seemed more interested in the fire.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

here's the long-promised review:

Theater Review: Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul
by Michael Rochmes and Erin Schmidt

Homebody/Kabul is the new play by Tony Kushner (Angels in America) that made headlines when it debuted on Broadway after 9/11. Although written before the terrorist attacks, it became only more topical afterwards. The play takes place in London and Kabul, August 1998, when America bombed Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan in response to the bombing of US embassies in Africa. Kushner is a pessimist—on KQED’s Forum, he said we live in one of the most frightening times ever—but in Homebody a character points out that disdaining the time in which one lives is a constant throughout history. Perhaps it is this cynical nature that draws Kushner to Kabul.

In a rambling monologue that consumes much of the first act, we meet a bookish, apologetic homebody (played well by actress Michelle Morain) who discusses her marriage, anti-depressant pills, and the history of Kabul. She reads to us her discoveries in an out-dated guidebook to the city, and as the scene progresses you see her interest develop into obsession. Her world is almost entirely internal, and her description of a foray to a local Afghani shop warps into a fantasy of sexual connection in faraway Kabul.

Kushner leads the audience to follow this character as she journeys to Kabul, but then he goes Psycho on us, and kills off the main (up to now, only) character between scenes. When we catch our bearings after the sudden change in location, we find ourselves in Kabul where a grieving husband and his daughter (hidden behind a sheet so as not to betray Taliban sensibilities) listen to a doctor describe in gruesome detail how their homebody was murdered for appearing on the street without a burka. (Or is she really dead? This is a mystery that motivates much of the rest of the play.) The homebody created a tangible personality through her winding, exasperating and intermittently funny speech, and even if we didn’t particularly like her, when she disappears we are left without a hold to grasp onto, in the middle of mysterious and dangerous Kabul. While her husband, Milton (Charles Shaw Robinson) seeks escape just as his wife had, their daughter Priscilla (Heidi Dippold) ventures into the streets of Kabul in a search for the truth. In a somewhat manipulative move, Kushner has her constantly taking off her burka in the middle of downtown Kabul. One can’t help silently berating her: “Don’t be stupid; put the damn burka back on!”…and the Taliban have already won.

To fill the hole left by the homebody, another bookish woman appears. In what is in many ways the emotional center of the play, Priscilla meets Mahala (Jacqueline Anteramian), a polyglot librarian desperate to flee cruel, bookless Afghanistan for London. She raves in a mixture of Pashtun, French, and English, with a smattering of Russian and German. Although a Tajik man serves as translator to Priscilla, whose face and reactions we cannot see, Mahala is most powerful when her words come flooding out in an unstoppable torrent. Her speech recalls the meandering monologue of the homebody, whose thesaurus-riddled language was similarly incomprehensible, leaving only the impression of ineffable emotion.

Kabul is a city with a long, violent history, the proving ground for many bad ideas—Imperialism, Communism, the Taliban, but it also represents lost potential. In Homebody, the skeleton of a ruined building provides the ubiquitous background for the Kabul scenes and a supporting cast of Afghanis who have lost their entire families, as well as a British NGO worker turned junkie. The play’s failed utopias even include Esperanto, the wish for a universal language. Kabul, once a crossroads of the world, and as recently as the seventies a self-sustaining, vibrant city, has, by 1998, become a wasteland.

The play is smart, if overly long and heavy-handed, and very well acted. Homebody/Kabul is at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre through mid June.

The new issue of the East Bay Express has a good article about Teach for America, which one of my friends is about to join.
There's also a review of Homebody Kabul. I haven't read it yet...I'm working on my review, which I'll put up Thursday evening.

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

I got the new Hardboiled (5.5) today. They have a lot (more than two full pages and the cover) about the Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirts that featured Asian stereotypes and the ensuing boycott. Although I was skeptical at first since the clothing company quickly removed the t-shirts and apologized, but the article does a god job deconstructing the marketing practices of A&F. Go pick it up.
Really cool new hubble telescope photos of the universe here. Due to high traffic, you might want to wait a few days to look at them.

Friday, April 26, 2002

Ralph Nader is speaking on campus today (Friday, 4/26). I probably won't go, but I recommend it for anyone who hasn't seen him speak live before. His speeches meander, but he's still the best example for progressive politics that I can think of.

I went to the Christopher Hitchens lecture today at Boalt. He was introduced as a "public intellectual of an exemplary sort". His speech was pretty brief and straightforward.
Let me paraphrase: Globalization exists economically and to oppose or deny it is to stick your head in the sand. But a global society does not yet exist, and we must strive to create one in the image of the United States. He said that the European Union should evolve in that direction and become a United States of Europe. He noted that some of those who oppose this the most are conservative: Heider, Le Pen, the Greek Orthodox Church. He also argued that Islam has been in an internal "civil war" for some time (at least since 1989) over whether Islamic law should apply to Muslims or everyone. Those who want Islamic law to apply to everyone use attacks against the west to win both their internal Muslim struggles and their more general goal. He used the fatwa against Salman Rushdie as an example. Rushdie was neither Muslim, nor a citizen of the country from which the fatwa was issued (Iran?), but the religious leader who issued the death warrant wanted to make the point that only he had license to define and enforce Islam. Some examples Hitchens gave as to where this "civil war" is going on now : Nigeria, Indonesia, Pakistan. He cited Algeria and Iran as counter-examples. He recommended Jihad vs. McWorld, which I guess goes into this in more depth.

A note about Le Pen: If France had instant run-off voting, that election would look a lot different.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

A couple people have already emailed me regarding the Budweiser email I posted. I really should have been more clear. I could tell immediately it was a fake story, but I thought it was really funny that someone would write this and send it and people would forward it. Anyway, thanks for looking out.
Some things I've been meaning to put up:
Trivium is a website with potential. Academic articles and essays.

Here's an email I got from Jim Fung of the Campus Greens, re: my remarks on the ASUC (Wed. April 17):
Hi Michael, I've been reading your blog. I disagree with you and Paul Thornton. The ASUC stakes are only small if people let it become so. Peter Camejo was expelled by the university so that the anti-war slate could not take over the ASUC Senate; clearly the university feared the ASUC, then, and the ASUC is still the same ASUC as far as I know ... but with less activist involvement.

and my response:
I agree that the ASUC used to be more important. The ASUC has started a lot of stuff that grew and was then taken over by the university (such as the Cal athletics program). But there is no Vietnam war today or any social movement like the anti-war movement. What gives the ASUC any potential for importance is its money. The ASUC cannot create such a movement, it can only be a tool of that movement. The only activist-based parties are Cal-SERVE and DAAP. These parties get their strength from race-based platforms, which will also prevent them from growing. Most activists think the ASUC is a waste of time. The only way to take over the ASUC for activists would be to convince a large number of them early (like September or October) that this is worth their time and effort, have them follow the ASUC and work inside it, create a new party or join with CalSERVE, and mount a full campaign. Even Chuck McNally couldn't get elected last year (although he came really close), because there was no real campaign among progressives. Even then, its debatable whether you would gain more than a couple extra seats.

For those who think the war in Afghanistan wasn't enough, here's a funny/sad email somebody forwarded to my girlfriend:
> > > >>" Budweiser incident (not a joke)! How Budweiser handled those who
> > > >>laughed at those who died on the 11th of September, 2001...
> >
> >
> > > >>Thought you might like to know what happened in a little town north
> > > >>Bakersfield, California. After you finish reading this, please
> > > >>this story on to others so that our nation and people around the
> > > >>will
> > > >>know about those who laughed when they found out about the tragic
> > > >>events in
> > > >>New York, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon.
> > > >>On September 11th, a Budweiser employee was making a delivery to a
> > > >>convenience store in a California town named McFarland. He knew of
> > > >>tragedy that had occurred in New York when he entered the business
> > > >>find the two Arabs, who owned the business, whooping and hollering
> > > >>show
> > > >>their approval and support of this treacherous attack. The Budweiser

> > > >>employee
> > > >>went to his truck, called his boss and told him of the very
> > > >>event! He didn't feel he could be in that store with those horrible
> > > >>people.
> > > >>His boss asked him, "Do you think you could go i n there long enough
> > > >>pull
> > > >>every Budweiser product and item our beverage company sells there?
> > > >>We'll never deliver to them again."
> > > >>The employee walked in, proceeded to pull every single product his
> > > >>beverage company provided and left with an incredible grin on his
> > > >>He told
> > > >>them never to bother to call for a delivery again. Budweiser happens

> > > >>be
> > > >>the beer of choice for that community. Just letting you know how
> > > >>County handled this situation!!
> > > >>And now the rest of the story: It seems that the Bud driver and the
> > > >>Pepsi man are neighbors. Bud called Pepsi and told him. Pepsi called

> > > >>his boss
> > > >>who told him to pull all Pepsi products as well!! That would include

> > > >>Frito Lay, etc. Furthermore, word spread and all vendors followed
> > > >>At last report, the store was closed indefinitely. Good old American

> > > >>Passive-Aggressive Ass Whooping'! Pass this along. America needs to
> > > >>know that we're all working together.
> > >
> >
> >

And I got tickets to Homebody/Kabul for next Tuesday. I'll put up a minireview after I see it, but in the meantime you can listen to playwrite Tony Kushner on Forum.

Sunday, April 21, 2002

The new issue of Satellite is online. Check it out. [correction (4/22): Rahul Kamath did the redesign].

Friday, April 19, 2002

Berkeley businesses keep coming and going. Wall Berlin and Fabuloso closed. Cest Cafe is slowly turning into Subway. Now they're opening a new Top Dog on Center next to the Bongo Burger. That makes four including the Doggie High on Milvia, which seems to have very limited hours. Also, the Fine Arts Cinema is going to close soon, making three less theaters in Berkeley. By the way, does anyone know what the big building at Durant and Oxford is going to become? email me.

Thursday, April 18, 2002

I liked the editorial by Paul Thornton in today's Daily Cal. He says that the mediocrity and partisanship of the ASUC result because the stakes are so small, and the people involved are most interested in their future careers. It said a lot of the things I wanted to say in my editorial, but probably better. But I don't like the part about selfishness: "Even what seem like the most selfless acts, such as giving a homeless person some money, are based on selfishness. Aren't you trying to make yourself feel better and appease feelings of guilt when undertaking such an act? Ultimately, all actions come down to how they serve oneself." I don't like this argument because it is impossible to argue against. Its logic is circular: It has the built-in assumption that all acts are motivated by selfishness. If I give a homeless person money I'm trying to make them feel better. Maybe I also feel better, but that doesn't mean selfishness is necessarily the motivation, unless you already believe the assumption that I am (everyone is) selfish.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

I’ve been at home, recovering from surgery.
Even a minor surgery like mine makes your life flash before your eyes. I didn’t see the life I’ve already lived, but a future old age when my health deteriorates. I think of my grandparents or Iris Murdoch in Iris (I’m terrified of Alzheimer’s). I’m hobbling around the house like a sick septuagenarian. I suppose at 22 it’s called self-pity. But if we’re lucky we grow old, and that’s a little bit depressing.
The surgery itself was painless—I was put under general anesthesia. It was different from the movies: the operating room didn’t fade away. It was more like sleep usually is: you’re awake and then you aren’t, except since there weren’t any dreams I was awake and then next thing I woke up in the recovery room.
In bed I’m reading The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood. My dad recommended it. The narrator is an old woman, and the book deals with old age and the nostalgia that comes with it. Interspersed is a novel written by the narrator’s sister that also includes another novel within it. I haven’t gotten very far into the book yet, but so far it’s very well written. Atwood has a way of creating subtle metaphors, and then bringing them into focus with a pithy sentence at the end of the paragraph.
My grandfather always nags me to write down my experiences, both, I think, to practice writing, and to have something to look back on when I’m old. As Lorraine Adams noted recently in the Washington Monthly, this kind of nobody memoir has become one of the most popular genres. (link via ALD). Last week my literature professor brought up the same desire; it turns out memory and nostalgia are two of the main themes in the work of Russia’s most popular young writer, Tatyana Tolstaya. My professor said she wished she had written down names on all her photographs. But every time I start a journal, I quit. My best bet is to combine my journalism, saved emails, and something like this blog.
Okay, it's back to school and work today.

Saturday, April 13, 2002

As Salon puts it, Al Gore is "baaaaack". But is that back as in Poltergeist or those advertisements for the new Cinderella movie? I didn't read the article since I'm not a member. There's a story in the NY Times here. I, for one, hope he doesn't run, unless that means Lieberman gets to be the nominee. But I'm not a democrat, so I guess my vote doesn't count.

Friday, April 12, 2002

Some people liked the fruit, but I think it was getting old quick.

There goes the pulitzer: the front page correction to yesterday’s story about the “god bless you” man reminds us that we shouldn’t automatically believe what we read online, or in the Daily Cal.

More thoughts about the new Hardboiled: CalStuff has a pretty good analysis of the issue. Hardboiled seems to have lost the sense of humor it had a couple years ago, when I started reading it. Even the Beau Sia interview mostly talks about his race. And just for the record, Satellite had a similar article about the internment of Japanese-Peruvians a year ago.

I've been reading the best-of issue of Granta, "21". The magazine was born the same year I was. One of the stories is "The Men's Club," which is actually the first chapter of a novel of the same name by Leonard Michaels. It's a fabulous, if somewhat distasteful look at men the way they might really be. It takes place in Berkeley, all in the course of one night at the inagural meeting of a men's club. I wonder if it's ever been produced as a play. It would work, because it's mostly dialogue.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Now that I know more people read this, I'll try to update it. Problem is, blogger keeps erasing everything when I try to post. By the way, I'm impressed with Angry Clam's scoop of the Daily Cal.
The new Satellite issue is out. The theme is simulation. I'm going to distribute it right now. I also put issues in Wheeler (near English dept.), Heller, and Moffitt (near computer lab). Problem is, most of the issues are still in Max's car.

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Satellite is coming along well. It looks good. New issue should be out in a few days.

Hardboiled came out today. I noticed it's on better paper. Only 12 pages though, and no full page ad. I like the cover. It's reminicint of Satellite's first cover. I only read the first one and a half articles so far. It seems they're taking the Hindu/Muslim divide of India and Pakistan to America. For some reason I thought there were better relations among South Asians in America. We have a guest coming this weekend who spent some time in Gujarat last year before the violence broke out. I'll ask her what she thinks.

I guess no bowling tonight. Got to make up for the lack of sleep last night.

Oh, and I was looking through the Johan van der Keuken website below, and it turns out that unlike a certain other filmmaker, he really did die sometime last year. It's a shame.

Monday, April 08, 2002

I've been reading several Berkeley blogs since I saw a post on the Satellite message board. I can't sleep so I thought I'd create my own. The ASUC stuff the other blogs are obsessed with entertains me, but I can't get emotionally involved. It just doesn't really matter. I probably won't even vote this year. Of course I'm graduating so why should I? See my column in the upcoming issue of Satellite for more on this topic.

The other popular issue is Israel/Palestine. Seems to me, both sides (in the Middle East, not Berkeley) are totally passive-aggressive. Suicide bombing is the ultimate passive-aggressive act: "look what you're making me do!" And building settlements is another form of passive-aggression: They pretend they are just creating a place to live, but they are really trying to prevent any land for peace deal, and actually hoping to incite violence. It's like running in front of a charging basketball player. Sure, they might call a charge, but you can't say you aren't iniciating the contact. The idea of revoking Arafat's peace prize is interesting to me. It's a compelling idea.

But I'm just as interested in non-political questions. Art, music, film, books. I just read Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. I was disapointed. And I just saw Y Tu Mama Tambien. I really enjoyed it. The voice over, and the way the camera kept leaving the scene like a kid with ADD and a liberal consience reminded me of a movie I saw at the PFA about India called Eye Above the Well. I forget who the director was, though. (OK, I checked on google: Johan van der Keuken). He would move the camera, but with less purpose, just to remind you that there was something outside of the frame. There were no subtitles, so it was like a silent movie, or better--actually being in a foreign country. Eye Above the Well was so beautiful, I wish I could see it again.