Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


For alienated youth everywhere… and Germans

Filed under : Depeche Mode,Music
On November 22, 2009
At 5:00 am
Comments : 2

I just saw the greatest documentary ever! It’s of relevance to all my readers who will all love it as much as I do.

These two statements, my friends, were lies. I’m sorry. But on the day I traditionally write about music, I’d like to share a bit of it with you, and in fact, that first statement is somewhere near the truth. Oh, it wasn’t Capturing the Friedmans (that, actually, is my favorite documentary of all time. See it now!), but I did sit in rapt attention and wish fervently that it was longer than 90 minutes. How many documentaries do you wish that about? Except for Shoah. Nine hours is just not enough for any movie!

By the way, in case you’re new to this blog, I am not comparing a movie about The Human League to a Holocaust film. Don’t even go there! And I love documentaries in general; they may be my favorite type of movie.

No, the movie is called Synth Britannia and is from the BBC. It’s about… well, I’ll let the Beeb take it away: “Documentary following a generation of post-punk musicians who took the synthesiser from the experimental fringes to the centre of the pop stage.” My spellcheck is going to hate that sentence, I just know it. The first half is fascinating and about early acts such as the aforementioned Human League and Kraftwerk and Gary Numan, but the second half, which is a lot about Depeche Mode, is as you can imagine, utterly riveting to me. This, I think, is my favorite part:


[flv width=”320″ height=”230″][/flv]

Wait, wait, wait a second! In the 80’s not everyone in England walked around wearing eyeliner and playing synthesizers?????? This person who felt different and a misfit in those years is stunned. Don’t ruin my utopia, Simon Reynolds! I’m not sure about the gay part, though. I was always sure everyone was straight, even the Pet Shop Boys. My gaydar was not especially developed at 16. But I did feel dissident and I still get surprised at how many people liked DM towards the end (that is, the end of the 80’s). Weird. Nowadays, I’m still convinced that half the people who show up at Madison Square Garden on any given DM show night only liked Personal Jesus.

The other great thing about this particular segment is that you get to compare Martin Gore’s old and new teeth. Bonus! Alas, this film is no longer available at the BBC site but is always findable for those who are looking. Thanks to Slicing Up Eyeballs, one of my favorite new blogs, for reminding me I wanted to see it.

This post brought to you by yet another shameless plug for my new 80’s mp3/video blog, Are Everything.


Scenes from the life of a student

Filed under : Student Life
On November 15, 2009
At 3:30 pm
Comments : 4

I think the thing I like best about not working full time is the way I only rarely have to wake up at what most people consider a decent hour. Or, more accurately, I can if I want to but if I don’t, no one yells at me but me. This is akin to that feeling you get when you’re an adult and no one tells you not to have ice cream for dinner except yourself when you’re starving an hour later or when you see the scale that next time. I have no problem telling you that I often had the kind of boss who after you got to work ten minutes late a few times, called you into his office for “the talk.” Most bosses are like this and I guess they should be. I’m more of a “as long as I get the work done, who cares?” kind of person. I was lucky enough to have had a few bosses over the years where this worked out fine, but it was rare.

Now my life is like that. My classes are all at night so if I hope to get the schoolwork done I have to get up in time to do it. And if I don’t actually go, I only get in trouble with myself. My work time is flexible except for one meeting I must attend one morning a week. It’s pretty awesome.

I’ve mentioned that most of my doctors are in Westchester and what I’d have to do to see them under the old “must be at work at X o’clock” system was to wake up at the crack of dawn, take a train to Westchester, see the doctor, and get back on the train with all the regular commuters to the city who hadn’t lived half their day already. Now I don’t have to do that! Last week I booked a 12:15 appointment…. what heaven! No fight for seats, no, “OMG, I’m waiting for a Metro North train and the sun hasn’t even risen,” and no paying the pricey peak fare.

A funny thing happens, though, when you’re not the first appointment of the day. Life happens to other people and they get shoved in before you. 12:15 turned into 1 turned into 1:30. Then I got moved to an exam room and waited some more. Now, I’m aware of this and it has happened to me at other doctors’ offices, but I never had the opportunity to see exactly how far behind this particular office gets before. I may have to go back to the crack of dawn method.


When you go to school, making friends is a little on your mind. It’s strange, but work is not like this. If you start a new job, you hope that you get along with people, but you don’t really imagine you’ll see them in an extra-curricular fashion or hang out with them on your own time. In school, it’s different. I’ve said that I really like my cohort, which is good because I see them often. I have my classes with mostly the same people and we run into each other in the departmental office and ruminate over why no one ever participates in That One Class. I’ve made one particular friend and we went out for dinner the other night and then coffee. It was supposed to be just dinner (where are you? 2nd floor library. Where are you? Lounge. Dinner? YES.) but at one point late in the meal she got this strange look on her face and indicated to me that the professor we had just been talking about was one table over. This is the trouble with going out to eat right near the university. So we hastily got our check and moved onto one of those arty coffee shops every university has where we proceeded to each get the most basic coffee and split one pastry. I could see the waitress mentally roll her eyes. Students! Then we proceeded to go back to talking about the professor from the previous restaurant and, oh yes, what the hell we were going to do with the rest of our lives


Right now, I’m going out of my mind as the semester comes down to crunch time. But as I scanned my calendar to see final due dates, I happened to notice a funny thing: there is no school from mid-December to mid-January and I have nothing to do for a month! My job is at the university so I don’t have that to do either. I’m not really sure the last time I had a month off from commitments. High school? First year of college? Weird! I’ve had a kind offer of subsidized travel to Israel but it’s still mostly beyond my means at the moment. I’m considering my next most exciting offer, laying on the sofa for a month with several DVD boxed sets, my laptop, and a case of Pop Chips.

Can’t think about that now, though. According to my calendar, I’m ten minutes late for starting my Java project!

In honor of this post, I’ve started a new tag I should have added a while ago: Student Life. Oooooh. Aaaaah.

The Fall – Hey Student


Blinded me with science and hit me with technology

Filed under : Student Life
On November 11, 2009
At 12:30 pm
Comments : 2

An e-mail conversation between two tech students at a random Ivy League grad school.

StudentA: So when should we get together to start our coding project?
StudentB: We could meet after class Monday or before class, or are you going to class Tuesday, how about after that? Or before that?
StudentA: Ummm, any of those are fine.
StudentB: Something’s come up, how about Wednesday, it’s Veterans Day, I’m off from work.
Student A: I’m not at school on Wednesdays I have an online class. I may be in Columbus Circle, do you want to meet there? Or I can come up to school anyway.
StudentB: I’m in the East Village, where in Columbus Circle? 11am is good.
StudentA: That’s fine, or…. how about Skype, do you have Skype?
studentB: I don’t have Skype. If we meet in Columbus Circle, do you have a laptop? Because I don’t.
StudentA: I do but I wasn’t planning on bringing it. So let’s just go up to school.
StudentB: So what time, like noon? I need more time to get all the way up there.
StudentA: Wait, are you going to meet with the TA? I have a 4pm Thursday appointment, we can meet before that but not after because I have class.
StudentB: I’m meeting with him Thursday at 3 so no good.
StudentA: What about the phone? Do you want to just call me? We can type up notes.
StudentB: Great idea! The phone! I never would have thought of that.

Sadly, this conversation is actually shortened from 30 e-mails over three days to come to this conclusion. Just got off the phone; I highly recommend it!

Title of course from:
Thomas Dolby – She Blinded Me With Science


Blogging are everything

Filed under : Meta/Blognews,Music
At 3:30 am
Comments : 2

Oh hey, it’s 3am and I’m up doing research. You know what I really have time for? A new blog!

No, actually, it’s a blog that takes a lot less effort and yet still fulfills some need in me to vomit the stuff that exists in my brain into a format best read on the Internet. So it’s a tumblog, one of those short blogs that just lets you post media or links or text. Mine’s for videos. Videos from the alternative 80’s of my youth. Because sometimes I’ll remember a song so good that it MUST BE HEARD. I aim to post a new one every night between midnight and 1am and it helps that I have 12 queued already (who knows if I’ll be too busy reading about asynchronous CMC online learning some night when you want a video? God knows, I certainly won’t be sleeping).

If you’re the type who looks at iPod Song of the Week (remember those? ~sigh~) and clicks the “close browser tab” button, this new blog is not for you. If you really did sigh when you read that first sentence or you listened to WLIR or KROQ back in the day (people who find this blog by Googling “Larry the Duck,” I’m talking to you) you may want to check it out and/or add it to your feed reader.

This is the least I could do and still feel like a blogger whilst sleeping three hours a night and reading 300 pages a day. And really, what’s the distinction between day and night anyway? Not much these days.

I went through my entire song collection to find a title for the tumblog and this one just kept sticking there. Ironically, when I went to find it to post as my first video, I discovered there was no video. Typical!

Here it is from Lala.

And here’s my new, better updated, music blog. I’ve set it up for no comments… you’ll be too busy reliving your youth.


A fabulous! weekend in Austin

Filed under : Baseball,Travel
On November 9, 2009
At 12:00 am
Comments : 3

I can’t believe it’s been a week since Austin! In between there was a parade and, well, I love a parade. Myself, Sister1, and Niece4 (away from school on special dispensation) braved hordes of drunken mooks to get tiny glimpses of baseball players’ heads. It was worth it! People climbed trees and street lights and sanitation trucks but we just stood on a bit of higher ground behind a fence that finally gave way from all the pushing. Freedom! Here’s the only picture I got with anyone in it. See Tiny Jeter in my hand? (That’s Bob’s joke, thanks Bob). Also shown, Minka Kelly and her mother-in-law, Mrs. Jeter, at the front. Delightful.

But Austin, oh that was fun. And just as last year, people came despite health and personal issues that could easily have held them back. I’m so proud of my team! I’m also thrilled to tell you that they’re all such great and fun people that the weekend just flew by, like a blink. Even the stuff that I planned (I was a co-captain) that didn’t quite work out didn’t bother anyone. Like Haunted Austin? Not so fabulous… picture people in old-timey costumes telling lame stories between trotting you all over the city at forced march tempo. At one point, the lame cowboy’s neckerchief just fell right off and he didn’t notice for ten minutes. But after we made a dash for it, we discovered a carriage ride in the most beautiful Cinderella coach led by Princess Fiona who was charming and perky. People kept honking and calling out congratulations. Clearly, marriage between multiple women is now legal in Texas.

Speaking of, here’s the Texas Statehouse. There are lots of fun things inside, like hinges with the state seal on them and light fixtures in the shapes of stars. But this is my favorite photo. Oooooo.

That evening, we went to the Halloween procession down 6th Street. It’s sort of famous but we went too early to see the best of it, mainly because there was some sort of race we were supposed to be in the next day. There were lots of great costumes, notably the Headless Horseman (he was the horse too, it was kind of amazing) and the Dick in a Box guy. You heard me. But the best was this kid. We later spotted her at the Damned show.

But then, of course, there was the thing for which we had come.

No, not this!

This! It was such a beautiful day and because it was in a location off the beaten track, they imported Texas cheerleaders to place along the route to cheer us on. They rocked! I understand they take football seriously in Texas or something.

Other things I can’t forget to mention: the food, which I’m told by my more meat-eating compatriots was the greatest they’d ever eaten in their lives. And the space… well, I mostly saw that from the plane. But let me tell you, last week I attended my first co-op board meeting and much was made about a lawsuit going on between two neighbors over a leaky pipe issue. Pipes. I share pipes with my neighbors. In Texas, there would be a house and then miles before another house. Not farms, mind you, just lots of space. Rachel, our teammate who lives there, told me she could never live in New York just because of this. Whereas I need to see people breathing in my face 24/7 just to know I’m alive. But we agreed that it was fantastic to see how people live so differently.

And lastly but definitely not leastly, Team Fabulous! raised over twice our goal and just being there to be part of a sea of people all trying to achieve the same objective was as emotional as ever. Thank you all so much for your contributions and support. Everything’s bigger in Texas, including my thanks.

Did you know this band was from Austin? And they played this on the radio while I was there. You can’t make this kind of stuff up! Well, I could, but I didn’t.

Fastball – The Way