Sunday, February 28, 2010

Does it say "sick?"

When I was little and I didn't feel well, I would--as one does--have my mother take my temperature. Only I wasn't entirely clear on how a thermometer worked, because when she pulled it away to examine the readout I would ask her, quite seriously, "Does it say Sick?"

The point of that little anecdote was a little segue into the fact that I HAVE A COLD and IT IS NOT PLEASANT.

I had to walk up the hill from rehearsal nursing a cup of tea ("sick tea," which is Apple & Cinnamon tea with honey) and I couldn't DRINK the tea because it was too hot and my throat's killing me from singing (bass on so many songs, holy crap how do I even manage?) and it was cold outside and it was just... miserable. Can't breathe through my nose, so when I got into my room I just kind of stood there woozily and panted.

Rehearsal was a mess. We have our first performance on Tuesday, and we're not exaaactly prepared, and everyone was just... hmm. Amanda has a name for it, from her Shakespeare group. They call them the jauns-- like, everyone has Major Issues and Shit Went Down. It was a jaunful evening. That's honestly the only way I can describe it. Several girls burst into tears. We all perked up again a bit at the end singing Lights, but that's because Lights is our soul and it fixes everything.

I was meant to do laundry on Saturday but I forgot. I am very seriously running the risk of Actually Running Out Of Clothes, Like For Real. Something will have to be done, and fast.

In other news, we blocked the entire play at H2G2 rehearsal today. Everyone seems super psyched about it, and kept bringing up promotion ideas... so at least one thing is going right.

I'm sorry for all the bitching. Life is good, really. I'm just better at handling all of this, I think, when I'm within the momentum of the week. Jumping back in after a lazy Saturday is just a bit of a shock.

My room probably smells lovely thanks to the birthday roses I got from Hayley. If I could inhale through my nose, I'd tell you for sure. My new Spock bobblehead says "Fascinating."

Imma stop rambling and randomly capitalizing That Which I Deem Important now. Ttyl, blog.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I am only a teenager for five more minutes.

Today in class, Kosta told me-- and these were his exact words--"You ask good questions. I like you." It kinda made my life.

In the past year, I have:
  • Been a bridesmaid in a good friend's wedding
  • Had a boy tell me he was in love with me
  • Gotten drunk for the first time
  • Finally figured out-- mostlykinda-- what it is I want to do, and who it is I want to be, for the rest of my life
  • Gotten in a very minor car accident
Um um um. Two minutes to go. I can't think. I'll talk more about this tomorrow, I guess.

One minute. Oh my god.

Interlude: Slankets and Doctor Who

[12:08:40 AM] Leah: slankets are awesome.
[12:08:50 AM] Leah: how did we survive without them?
[12:10:00 AM] Marlena: I actually don't use my slanket that often. I mean, when I do, it's my Favorite Thing Ever. But I'm not cold that often.
[12:10:31 AM] Marlena: ...that was too many that oftens
[12:11:02 AM] Leah: I bet the Doctor took Rose into the future and got her a slanket and it blew her little 2005 mind.
[12:11:21 AM] Marlena: right. totally.
[12:11:42 AM] Marlena: because what's the destruction of your planet and species as you know it when there are BLANKETS with ARMS?
[12:11:58 AM] Leah: watching the earth die in the year five billion? nothing. defeating the Gelth with Charles Dickens? meh.
[12:12:09 AM] Leah: SLEEVES.
[12:12:12 AM] Leah: ON YOUR BLANKET.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Success Is Not a River In Egypt (or anywhere else)

God, I don't know where the names I give these things come from. Just ignore it.


So today I got up EARLY to a) finish my powerpoint for German Cinema and b) finish my Short Stories essay. Both of these endeavors were SUCCESSFUL.

Then I went to German Cinema and we got back our first essays. And the professor was all, "these are just first drafts, second drafts due on the third. Some of you did so well that you don't need to revise. ... don't look so hopeful, it was less than a handful." And then she talked for like 15 minutes about how to interpret her responses and markings, and what she wanted out of the revisions.

And then I got my essay back and the only things she'd written on it were "Excellent," "nice!" and "you can revise if you want, but this is clearly an A paper."


(And then I did my powerpoint and I got a little tongue tied for a second but it mostly went well.)

AND THEN AND THEN. Sorry. Very repetitive today.

Anyhow. Just now, we had the first play rehearsal. And I don't want to jinx it, but I think Everything Is Going To Turn Out Okay.

And now, for something completely different.

You may remember a while back that I was going to write an essay about Dollhouse for that SmartPop Books contest. Well, I missed the deadline, and so, like I promised, I'm posting what I got down. Here we go:

Over and over again, the purposes of the Dollhouse are made clear to its clients. “It’s not about what you want,” says Adelle, “it’s about what you need.”

Truer words could not have been spoken not just about the Dollhouse, but Dollhouse itself—a bold move on the part of Joss, an unexpected gamble into utterly new territory.

We who worship at the alter of Whedon are used to certain things: well-developed characters, powerful yet subtle messages, and a good ensemble. We like liking people, and we like getting to know our ensemble as people: when Jayne Cobb walks into a room, you know exactly what you’re going to get.

But Dollhouse is profoundly different from Buffy, Angel, Firefly and even Doctor Horrible in one key sense: for the first time, we are not being given a character-driven show. We are being given an idea-driven show.

This was a profound thing to get used to, and was a steep learning curve on both sides of the camera: just watch Season 1 and you know exactly what I mean. We are used to Joss shows that wear their hearts on their sleeves: Buffy is a story of female empowerment—discovering that you have power and learning how to use it responsibly. Angel is a story of redemption—that actions have consequences, and that both the greatest good can come of the most disgusting act, and that unspeakable horror can result from the best of intentions. Firefly is a story of the frontier—of people on the edge, of the little guy’s survival in a world of cold bureaucracy. These are stories of powerful emotion.

But Dollhouse is different. Rather than being “genre first, meaning second,” the meaning is the genre. Whereas all of the other Whedon shows have worn their hearts on their sleeves, Dollhouse wears its brain—which is exactly as messy (and interesting) as it sounds. Because for the first time, Joss is making us think just as hard as he’s making us feel. Dollhouse is something greater, something cerebral. It is A Brave New World, it is Fahrenheit 451…

It is Star Trek.

(Bear with me.)

This revelation didn’t come to me all at once. It started as just an inkling, a powerful sensation I started getting in the middle of season 2: “I kind of wish this were the Enterprise—Adelle DeWitt would make one awesome starship captain.” Over time, this evolved into “DeWitt isn’t just a good hypothetical captain, she’s Jean-Luc Picard” which has now fully developed into a kind of solid surety: in many unexpected ways, Dollhouse is the modern mirror of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Put down the rotting fruit (or pitchforks, depending on your level of offense) and hear me out.

Star Trek: TNG is set in a utopian future, whereas Dollhouse is set in a borderline dystopian present. And yet… and yet they both tackle story from the standpoint of philosophy, rather than emotion. This is not to say that the characters on either show are stand-ins or cardboard cutouts or pawns; they are just as fully-realized as any other character on any other show.

But it explains a lot. How we can trust DeWitt despite her dubious utilitarian thinking, because she gives off an aura of moral certainty so strong that you cannot help but take comfort in it. Why we were able to bond with Victor and Sierra so early—as they both gave off the aching sentimentality of the manmade made real as Data did—but were sometimes faintly annoyed by Echo, who was marked early as special and different, and always came through with just the right thing at just the right moment, like a high-heeled Wesley Crusher.

We did not want a show like Dollhouse—but it is very much the show we needed, and luckily Joss had the presence of mind to understand that.

We live in a confusing age, which is why Star Trek, as a franchise, has always had such broad appeal. It shows a future in which there is equality across all gender and ethno-religious boundaries, where a Prime Directive keeps people like those behind Rossum from fiddling where they don’t belong, and where money is a thing of the past. (“But what do you invest in?” asks Ralph Offenhouse of Picard in The Neutral Zone (TNG 1.26). Picard’s answer was simple: “We invest in ourselves.”)

People invest in other people all the time on Dollhouse, but far purposes far more insidious. Audiences have gotten more cynical, and stories grittier and more jaded, to reflect a changing world. The Dollhouse is a place where Data would have been sent to the Attic immediately—a place not where things can learn to become people, but where people are stripped down to the status of things. There is no room for a Deanna Troi or a Guinan at the Dollhouse—because it’s not a question of what the dolls feel, but what Topher programs them to feel.

Star Trek: TNG went, Dollhouse boldly goes one step farther. Captain Picard occasionally used the holodeck to role play as Detective Dixon Hill; a mostly harmless exercise to relax and relieve the burden of command. DeWitt, on the other hand, must dig deeper and risk more: becoming the often-mocked Miss Lonely Hearts, taking comfort in the arms of Roger, a man who does not exist, in order to experience a few cherished moments of vulnerability. Highly-advanced medical science begat the visor which granted Geordi the power to see; Topher’s fiddling with Echo’s brainwaves just as easily made her blind. The Borg is not a powerful, distant foe: it is a product of our own creation. On Dollhouse, we truly are the Borg, and our greatest enemy is our own ambition.

And to have a show on television that discusses these things: what it means to be a human, what happens to your soul if you’re not in control of your body, whether or not we have free will… we need to be asked these questions; we need to search ourselves, be challenged, far more than we need to be entertained.

As dark as Dollhouse becomes, it will still stumble upon certain universal truths. So when DeWitt stands up to Mr. Ambrose and his “anatomy upgrades” in Epitaph One, and says, “You cannot have that body, Mr. Ambrose. It belongs to another soul, and I will not sell these people off at any price,” we cheer, because it is just as much a triumph of the human spirit as when Picard quotes Hamlet (with conviction, rather than irony) at Q.

It is a contemporary method masking a sentiment as old as our species: Star Trek shows us the bright light of the future; a world as it should be, so we aspire to be all that we can be. Dollhouse takes us through the darkness, wallows in it and drenches even our greatest heroes in the shadows of doubts and murky waters of ethical dilemmas.

Something to think about, in any case.

And while you ponder that a while, I’ll amuse myself with the notion that the tea Adelle served every client is Earl Grey (hot), and listen hard in case she said “make it so” and I missed it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

*head explodey*


I just got back to school after a week-long break, which I also used as a break from this blog and higher-level brain functioning and, um, going outside. My stress levels have been at epically high... levels... and so I really needed the time to sit around and do nothing but draw and sleep and write Doctor Who fanfic. It was nice. Relaxing.

Anyway, I'm back now.

My life is already a bit easier because UTO as a whole decided that recording every weekend in March is a) expensive and b) insane. We're limiting it to three days over the course of the spring, which means the CD release is pushed back until fall. Also, my solo-- at least my Straight Lines solo-- won't be on the CD, because we don't have the time or money to record it. Which sucks. On the other hand, there are two more songs whose solos haven't been auditioned yet that we're doing later this week, so there's still a chance I'll have *a* solo on the album.

Also: we're going to be selling UTO "up YOUR octave" boxers as a fundraiser. I expect you all to buy a pair. They're gonna be supermegafoxyawesomehot.

(No, seriously. We need the money. Buy boxers.)

As it stands, I have an essay due tomorrow at 4, and an oral presentation in a class that starts at 3:40. Also, I need to show the prof my oral presentation during her office hours, which are from, like, nine to noon or some shit. So tonight and tomorrow will be busy with the work. And then tomorrow night is my first H2G2 rehearsal, and probably also more homework-doing about which I've forgotten.

Related: could someone, at some point, remind me to go actually declare my film major? If I don't do something about it soon, a minor it will stay. Which I do not want.

ANYWAY. The ultimate good news here is that I'm not losing every single weekend to madness. Which is a really big relief.

I *can* get through this semester. I am strong and capable and clever. It will ALL WORK OUT.

(Also also: someone make me do my laundry and clean my room. Because I can't put it off forever.)


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Love (Gratuitously Stealing Hayley's Ideas)

Hello, blog reader people. Real life has been a COMPLETE bitch, lately, in the best of ways, which is why we haven't spoken in a while.

I wasn't gonna blog tonight (today? I don't know what a 2:30 am post counts as) but then I read Hayley's wonderful blog entry and was, as many were, just a little bit inspired.

So, then. In no particular order, certainly missing a great many things, and not quite as pretty as Hayley's--a list of things I love:

-- I love how Amanda and I can manage not to talk to each other for a month, totally by accident, and then converse as if no time has passed, finding each other--as always--uniquely hilarious.

-- I love taking a whiff of the packet my Earl Grey tea bag came in before I throw it away, because it smells like Saturday mornings and Awakeness and Home.

-- I love coming home from a long day and changing out of my jeans and into pajama bottoms.

-- I love that I can talk to Marlena for hours every day about everything spanning from literary theory to zombies vs unicorns to "What if Angel and Tara opened a bed and breakfast together" to our most personal and private hopes and dreams without once tiring of each other or disagreeing. (Well. Aside from the zombies and unicorns thing. ZOMBIES RULE.)

-- I love singing in my car at the top of my lungs, because that's what cars are for and that's what songs are for and it all just perfectly fits.

-- I'm sorry, I'm gonna have to steal this one, word for word: "I love how a line in a poem can strike a part of your brain that you hadn't noticed was asleep before, and you can't rephrase the line or explain why it makes sense, because it's perfect and beautiful in that it says something that's never before been put so well." Because that's what this blog is all about, and Hayley said it better than I could.

-- I love how all the writers/artists/creators I love-- Jane Espenson, Joss Whedon, Jacob the Recapper, John Green-- end up connected to and inspired by each other in ways I never dreamed, which in turn inspires me. Also, all of them have J-names, and what's up with that?

-- I love wearing my Missing Piece around my neck and my dad's high school ring on my finger every day, because I'm telling you who I am and where I come from without even saying a word, and no one really seems to notice, until they do. Which is how getting to know someone always works.

-- I love making my sister laugh, because I have to earn it.

-- I love that when I have Big News (like I did yesterday, but is a bit too personal to share with you, blog readers) and I have to call my best friends, my mom is on that list.

-- I love intricately structured narratives.

-- I love watching heavy snowfall through a window, when I'm warm and comfy indoors, preferably with hot chocolate.

-- I love the way autumn smells, how the leaves get brittle and beautful and change the air; how I can use words like "brisk" and "crisp" to describe the mornings and even though the world is dying it feels so much more like starting over than spring does. (Spring, to be clear, smells like allergies and feels like death, but this is not a list of things I hate, so.)

-- I love the thin rim of blue around my mostly green eyes.

-- I love loving things to death-- wearing holes in the canvas of my Converse, dog-earing my favorite pages of books, knowing lines of movies so well I can quote along with them as I watch.

-- I love how I've finally found my passion and a bliss to follow; how taking classes in my majors just sets my brain on fire.

-- I love connecting with strangers over a mutual love, and how at the end of the conversation you're not strangers anymore.

You may notice, I've changed the sidebar quote to a (admittedly slightly arrogant) Fitzgerald line. Blog Reader Morgan requested that I share more quotations with you, so I think I'm gonna try and change it every month or so, from now on.

I honestly can't remember what the old-old one used to be, so in the interest of keeping a record of Things I Like, I'll post the previous one in my blog entries when I switch them. Here's what it used to be, which is also One More Thing I Love:

"It's not about my joy, the relief of burden. I like to see people reunited, maybe that's a silly thing, but what can I say, I like to see people run to each other, I like the kissing and the crying, I like the impatience, the stories that the mouth can't tell fast enough, the ears that aren't big enough, the eyes that can't take in all of the change, I like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone."

- Jonathan Safran Foer, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


First of all, briefly: Marlena and I just watched The Shakespeare Code, and yeah, I love Martha Jones. I shouldn't have worried.

Second of all, and still speaking of Shakespeare: That podcast we were hoping for? It's UP AND RUNNING. You can use this link here to get to its iTunes page, or just search for it yourself. It's called Amimetobios, which... well. Take it away, Professor Flesch:
("Amimetobios" is from Plutarch's Life of Antony, Shakespeare's source for Antony and Cleopatra: it's a Greek word describing their "peerlessness:" no [a-, as in asexual or ahistorical] life [bios] like [mimeto] theirs. It has nothing to do with anime. Well, almost nothing.)
Okay then!

So. I found out that we got the room we were hoping for for the play after all-- at least for the performances-- and I'm feeling much better about life in general. I'll feel BEST after auditions on Monday, but... well. When we get there.

Tonight I went to this letter-writing party that the financial aid department has, where kids who got scholarships write thank yous to the specific people in charge of the specific endowments that each student received. (Wow, that's some sentence.) ANYway. Writing about what I'm doing at school, and following my bliss, and how Brandeis has turned me into such a passionate person... I should count my blessings more often. Have I mentioned that I love it here? Because I really, truly do.

After that, I went to BORG, where we were writing our own Apples to Apples game. Some highlights:

“And bioluminescent—oh. Lakes.”
“What did you think it said?”
“Next time we play a game that requires teams, shotty Bioluminescent Latkes.”

“Sorry, I’m thinking.”
“Well, stop that.”
“Yeah, the Hive Mind should be thinking for you.”

“For unappreciated, I can’t decide between the Riders of Rohan and Bananas.”

“Spelling out loud uses two different brain parts that oughtn’t be used together.”
“What, Speaking and Thinking?”

“So for addictive, we have: Spice, Spice, Spice, Melange, human children, power, and… cinnamon buns.”

Monday, February 1, 2010


Hello, blog people!

So I do this thing where I stress and procrastinate and put off and have a merry old time, and never sleep-- seriously, I've watched the sun rise two nights in a row now-- and I don't blog because, well, it would just all come out like this: "a;oroihgaekbrjxlpiygqvkehgeytcramt!!!"

As it were.

I've just found out that I probably won't get Schwartz auditorium for the play performances, which really fucking sucks, because the play as written-- or rather, as is still being transcribed-- was kind of custom-made to go there, because that's the space we always use. I'm still typing the damn thing, and auditions are (hopefully) a week from today, and it didn't even occur to me until now to freak out about whether or not we'll get enough people. This show demands like 10 highly committed actors-- there are HUGE monologues, like all the time, and it's Douglas Adams so they have many myriad big words but rarely any kind of point. Oh, god. If I manage to pull this thing off it will be a miracle.

Oh, also? My classes have started assigning papers. Hahaha. Ha ha. Ha.

On the bright side: we have two new girls in UTO, who seem to be coping relatively well. I have rehearsal three nights a week, and BORG on one of the off nights, leaving me kind of just Mondays and Saturdays open, unless I want to start piling things on top of each other. Which I'll probably have to. We're recording every weekend in March.

Also, we're having our first UTO party/initiation on Friday. Which should be fun and I'm really looking forward to it. (I never thought I'd say this, and don't expect me to repeat this sentiment any time soon, but... I could use a drink, anyway.)

Which leaves us with one very stressed out Leah, who is still just slightly sick enough to be annoyed by it. A GIRL CAN ONLY DRINK SO MUCH TEA, UNIVERSE.

In other news, I finally caved and bought myself the Next To Normal album on iTunes, and we're starting in on Midsummer Night's Dream in Shakespeare tomorrow. So that's all nice.

Gyahhh. I don't know. I'm going to stop writing now. I'll feel better when the play is sorted.