"grog" | sunday | march 11, 2007 | 11:01 am
ERE ARE SOME PICTURES FROM A RECENT "GROG" PARTY. My
friend Caitlin and her roommates throw a house party once a season or so. They were overdue.
What better way to ring in the new month of March than with a pirate themed party? Alas, there
weren't very many people in the spirit. Land-lubbers. AT least I was talking like a pirate
and was playing a very secret, English department-only drinking game about pirates. Enjoy.
read footnotes |
• • •
"beware the ides" | thursday | march 15, 2007 | 12:55 pm
ODAY IS OFFICIALLY THE FIRST DAY OF MY SPRING BREAK!
Though I was done all of my work as of last Thursday, today I am turning in my final grades
for the past quarter. With that, I can start my "vacation" with impunity. Of course, with
the quarter system, there really isn't any such thing as "vacation" or "break." I actually
have a lot of stuff to do in the next week or so, but I am glad to be done with the quarter.
I'm actually done with coursework, too. Finally. Some ten years spent in graduate school, and
I am now one step closer to getting my PhD. Finally. It seems like a long time coming. And
yet it seems still really far away. But one step at a time, I guess. I am a little deflated,
disappointed, full of anti-climax. When I finished my Master's at
University of Maryland, I felt like I really
finished something. My last seminar paper for my last class at Maryland was really
an achievement for me; I wrote about the film
Powder, which I had planned
to write for my MA thesis the first time around. There was closure. Even my professors said
it seemed like I had come full circle. And now here I am ending my coursework and I don't
really have the same marker to go by, though I really liked the paper I wrote for my 'visuality
and race' class.
I wrote a short essay -- more the beginning of a larger project, perhaps a dissertation chapter --
on World of Warcraft, of course.
The paper is titled "Looking for Ophera Windfury: Imaginging Race (and Sexuality) in World of
Warcraft." I think it is a great beginning to thinking about how gamic race, fantasy race, and
real world race intersect, collide, and complicate one another. Here's the first paragraph:
Given the incredible global popularity of Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft (WoW),
a massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) with a playership now exceeding seven
million worldwide, there is still a dearth of scholarship on and cultural critique of the
game, particularly looking at race and sexuality. Lisa Nakamura, author of Cybertypes,
argues that race “happens” and race “matters” online—she says, “When users go online, race
dwells in the mediating spaces between the virtual and the real, the visible and the
invisible” (144). How might we identify and interrogate the "racial logics" of WoW, beyond
a close-reading of fantasy race as allusion or allegory for real world race, to begin to
theorize how race is visualized, articulated, and cued. In other words, in a game of
fantasy race, how and where and why might offline race and racism be deployed, negotiated,
disguised, and taken for granted. How then can we challenge and explore this mediating space
between race within the game and race outside the game? Furthermore, in the imagining (perhaps
intrusion) of real world race into the game in ways that fix it or to borrow Nakamura's
construction cybertype it, how might other categories, such as sexuality, be left
unsettled or open? Looking at character creation, game play, and game narratives, we might
discover a productive opportunity in the play of, with, and play in race and sexuality to
discover "disruptive moments of recognition and misrecognition" (Nakamura 144) that can
offer "subversive potential in regard to oppressive notions of racial [and sexual]
identity" (Nakamura 146).
I actually submitted the paper to a graduate conference called
(dis)junctions: Malappropriation Nation
at University of California-Riverside and it was accepted for a panel on race and video games.
I'll be flying down to California in early April. I'm pretty excited about presenting on something
that's pretty new to me. I just hope that I can bulk up my gaming studies knowledge enough by then.
So, here I am at a kind of crossroads, and I really have no idea what the next step will be.
It's not like I'm totally lost. I just have different choices I can go in. I just have to
pick a direction and follow my instinct. I am glad to be done with coursework -- don't get me
wrong -- I don't think I could suffer through writing another seminar paper again. At least
for now. There are some murmurings in my brain about getting my Women's Studies certificate
next year and maybe my Theory certificate. But that requires me taking at least two more classes.
I might be so steeped in my exam process by then that I'll just decide to let sleeping dogs lie.
I guess I just have to enjoy the ambivalence in my life -- that seems to be a shiny, new term
for me that I like to throw around a lot. But I think it's important to be able to hold contradictory,
multiple ideas at once. If you massage them long enough, something really important and useful
and 'true' might materialize.
I do have a lot to do. I need to play for my next quarter of teaching. I'm switching gears in
my English 111 class again -- this time to something a little more literature-based rather than
media-based. I toyed around with the idea a while and finally decided to just jump in: I'm going
to teach a class on
Harry Potter. I have to
work up a full course description, rebuild my website, revamp and work up new assignments.
It'll be fun, no worries, but there's a lot to get done. Plus, I really need to sit down and
finalize a final draft of my exam lists and get them approved next quarter. I also have to
pick my third committee member. And then of course there's the whole starting reading and
Somewhere in there I need to have a "break". Fortunately, that starts today with the last
grad pub of the quarter. Finals
week grad pub! Ides of March grad pub!
read footnotes |
• • •
"spring break" | tuesday | march 20, 2007 | 9:48 am
OESN'T FEEL MUCH LIKE SPRING BREAK. Well, first,
because the last couple of days have been chilly, gray, and rainy. And, second, because in less
than a week, I have to go back to school. Monday, to be exact. Though I have been doing "break"-like
things, I also have a pile of things that need to get done. Pronto-like. Soon-like. Like,
But, in a fit of procrastination, I am writing here. Of course, that's my perogative. I
think I've managed to rationalize that I can put off working on my exam lists till at least
the weekend, maybe next week, because they are not pressing and my committee chair is decidedly
incommunicado at the moment. Things that do need to get done are getting my English 111 class
whipped into shape, catching up on some much needed rest, cleaning up my room and desk (both
could be more optimally conducive to work), starting up on some much needed exercise, and
reading for my lists (if I'm not going to work on them properly).
I am really tired. I think my allergy medicine makes me tired, in part. The other part is the
fact that I need to actually do some active-type things. The last part is that I am letting
my sleep schedule get completely faschnocked because I don't have to be up and anywhere at any
The past weekend I was out late, up late, didn't sleep much, and drank too much. But, here's
the rub: it wasn't as much fun as it could've been (or as much fun as I wanted it to be).
Last Thursday, which I had declared the first true day of my spring break, I went to campus
in the afternoon to drop off my grade sheets. I also wanted to drop off my heavy-ass bag of
portfolios to my office and run a few campus-like errands. Then I had a quick bite at
University Teriyaki. And then I went to the College Inn for finals week, "Ides of March"
grad pub. Grad pub was okay.
Conflicted. Very few of the usual crowd showed up; many like my roommate Jane were still
working papers and such. Some had already left the area. And some had other things going
on. Though a handful came, which was nice. And a handful of people from
the queer graduate, faculty, and staff group at UW, also came. I really wanted stay and
hang out and then go out dancing, but my friends had planned a little get together that same
night. Hence the conflicted part. So, I tried to do everything, which I think ended up
making everything lackluster and dissatisfying. I went to grad pub, then went to my
friend Andrew's house, then went out with my friend Jason to the gay bars on the hill,
and then went to Neighbours by myself to go dancing. Actually, the dancing part was really
good for me; it was nice to just move.
Last Friday, I was on the computer most of the day, either playing
World of Warcraft or working
class's website, which
is almost done. Later day, I ran some errands with my friend Jason. Then my friend
Jentery invited me out to
see his friends' band (and his former band)
The Sword, which Jentery described
as a D&D heavy metal band. They are best known for their cover of the song "Freya", which
has been featured in the video game
Guitar Hero II.
I had a blast at the show, actually, which I think generally surprises people I go to shows
with, particularly a "metal" show. Jentery and his wife Brooken and I were "on the list" at
Neumos. I got to go back stage with
them and hang out with the bad in their green room. They all seemed like a nice bunch of
guys. They talked about their tour, Seattle, living in Austin, playing at
South by Southwest (which reminded me
of the fact that last month I went to see
Darkon the Movie, which
got "Viewer's Choice" at SxSW, which made me totally nostalgic for my wargaming days,
which made me really want to get back into gaming in general), other bands, various
past band adventures, smoking the weed, and other sundry things. I've never been backstage
at Neumos (much less many other venues), but I did get to sit in a room and piss in a
bathroom that some pretty famous and amazing people sat in and pissed in. That's got
to count for something. I had a beer with the whole group, then got to head upstairs to
watch them play. (There's nothing like coming out of the backstage door into a crowd of
pumped-up people, who know you've just been backstage with the band they came to see, and
see the twinkling of respect, envy, and thrill in their eyes -- or maybe it was just the beer).
It was an all-ages show. The "adults" were downstairs and the "kids" were up in the balcony
(along with parents, which I always invariably see at mixed shows, particularly the parents
of one very spastic, chubby, ten or twelve year-old who clearly played a lot of GHII). But
I think only chronological age separated the two groups. Jentery, Brooken, and I stood
right behind the area where a moshpit was desperately trying to coalesce. Security kept
a pretty tight rein on it, though.
Digression #1: I have to say that every time I watch a mosh pit I am always pleasantly
surprised. Mainly because there are so many sneaky ways our culture creates little,
self-contained, very staged, clearly bounded, and yet naturalised spaces where homosociality
and homoerotics between men are permitted, encouraged, and most importantly, displayed.
The sports field,
of course. The
out with the boys, of course, epitomized by the stereotypical
Oh, don't forget about
(I don't even know where to begin with the whole
Jerome Hunt case).
And, finally, weddings,
of course. What's going on here?
This is exactly what Barbara Kruger is
critiquing in the above image and is exactly the kind of economy of erotics and desire that
I have been seeing everywhere, thinking through, and want to write about in my own work on
"everyday queerness" (a phrase that I hope to deploy epigrammatically as my own). What is
important here is not that these men are "gay" or "homosexual" -- that would simplify the
matter and flatten out all of the neat bumps and rough edges and incommensurabilities that
make these spaces so fascinating and useful. What is important here is that these performances
of gender, of masculinity, of friendship, of affect, of homosociality, male bonding, of
ritual, of circumstance are all ways that men get to touch one another without
reprise (or much reprise at least). It's lovely in a lot of ways. In fact, the "homo-ness"
of it all is usually made obvious, played up, laughed away, which undoubtedly is more a sign
of internalized homophobia and gender normativity than necessarily acceptance or security.
But these moments, like those on the mosh pit floor, are moments useful in leveraging a kind
of understanding of sexuality and gender as always, already impinged and queer. In other words,
we're not as "normal" and "straight" and clearly cut as we'd like to think or believe or act.
Even when there are women mixed in, as there were a few in the mosh pit, the more robust circuits are
between men (to borrow Sedgwick's famed formation).
I had a lot of fun at the show. The band was excellent. I really like music that is melodic,
even if it's heavy and metal. I couldn't understand many of the lyrics (I think that's beside
the point at most shows because most people go into a show already knowing the words and can
pick them out of the air as much as their own memory). And I couldn't hear much by the end
of the night (I tried earplugs but they sucked). But I had a good time and was glad to do
something that allowed me to get to know Jentery and his world a bit more. After the show, we
and the band had
frites and then
followed them up with
Dick's. Then I walked home deaf, dumb
with too many carbs, and drunk. Bravo, I say, bravo.
Saturday morning I awoke too early. Damn
Daylight Savings Time,
which is longer by a month starting this year. Much of Saturday was spent lollygagging about
the house. I did dye my mohawk green in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Saturday night, I bussed
up to the Univeristy District to meet Jason for a drink at
Earl's on the Ave, which is becoming
one of my favorite places. The original Earl's was a dive. The new Earl's (they moved locations)
is nicer but still has that dive-like feel. I think I like Earl's because it reminds me
of the now nonexistent gay monument of Washington, DC, Tracks; it is a mixed crowd with
old school alcholics, fraternity boys and their concomitant girls, hipsters, punks, and
a smattering of queers. Plus, Michelle, a lovely lady and bartender, likes me. I got to
Earl's early and had myself a Jameson's on the rocks with a PBR chaser. There's a barback
that works at Earl's who is too hot for words, in my opinion. Jason eventually arrives
and has the same order. We quickly down our drinks. Michelle charges me six bucks for
four drinks. And we head to the bus to make our way north to our friend Kate's thirtieth
birthday slash St. Patrick's Day party. The party was fun. Lots of people. Lots of good
food. Lots of drink. I got to meet a bunch of people who aren't part of the regular circle
of UW people. From the party, some of us made our way down the road to
Teddy's Tavern (1012 NE 65th @ Roosevelt),
which Jason hoped would be a tranny bar, which turned out to be a pretty straight-laced pub,
which was fine except for the nine dollar carbombs we ordered. From Teddy's, we made our way
further south to College Inn. And then the night was done and I took the bus home.
Sunday morning was even slower than Saturday. Jason called me -- woke me up actually -- and
we made plans to meet up for brunch and a movie. We met up with Lindsay at the
Rusty Pelican (1924 N 45th).
Much brunch food was to be had. Then Jason and I headed up to Alderwood Mall to go see
300. I actually enjoyed
the movie. It was very pretty. And, again, the film is practically gay porn without the
sex (unless you read all of the spear plunging, which they were very insistent on showing,
as metaphor for penetration). The visuals were stunning. The bodies were stunning. The
story was okay. I'm not sure what the film is really about. Is it simply a stock pro-freedom,
pro-liberal human subject, pro-masculinity, pro-underdog against the odds, pro-protect the
family, pro-defend our borders against the alien horde film? Or is it more subtle than that?
Digression #2: I was falling asleep Sunday night and I was thinking about the film and
how really unmemorable it was in terms of story or conflict. What was really interesting to
me is what the film was doing and how the film might be traced back to films like Gladiator
or other "sword and sandals" films. Clearly there's something going on with masculinity here.
It may not be new, but it may be newly packaged. The idealized male body is doing work that
puzzles me. It cannot be simply objectification, in the same ways that idealized female bodies are
doing work. In fact, if the audiences of 300 are I would guess adolescent and twenty-something
men, then the visual consumption of all of these manly, chiseled, oiled bodies skirts the
same erotic territory as mentioned above. How can men sit and watch other half-naked men
for two hours and not reflexively think about their own bodies, their own desires, their own
penetrability. All of this of course is clothed in the tropes and practices of masculinity.
It's all okay because it's an action film, a war film, a film about brothers not lovers.
The film also goes to great lengths to make sure that we know whose team the Spartans play on:
not the poets and thinkers and boy-lovers of rival Athens, not the blacksmithing, potterymaking,
farming Arcadians, and certainly not the overtly queered Xerxes and his queer minions. I am
still trying to figure out if the film is being homophobic, heterosexist, and masculinist or
might there be slippages that bear out something more productive. I do want to say that the
highly stylized, highly dramatized, and highly eroticized Spartan male bodies and performance
is queer in the way that hypermasculinity and queerness are often bedfellows. Methinks the
Spartans protest too much. And I am fascinated by the end of the film. First, after all of
the protestations of who is a "professional" warrior (cf. "professional" wrestler), of what
a true and perfect Spartan is, of what makes a true and respectable man, of how actions speak
louder than words, King Leonidas (the tall, dark, handsome lion that he is) sends Dilios away
from the final battle (granted Dilios is no longer whole, no longer perfect, after losing an
eye) so that the story of the 300 can be told; Dilios has a different talent than that of
fighting, a talent for storytelling, a talent for words, which must be used so that they who
die will be remembered. In the end, it is language, it is ideology, it is spin that overwrites
action. Curious, indeed. Finally, the final shots of Leonidas and his men on the field,
all pierced through by arrows, perfect bodies finally penetrated, cannot help but evoke
(not Jesus, as the pose belies)
St. Sebastian, who
historically has been a queer symbol and metaphor. Curiouser and curiouser, indeed. So, there's
something going on in all of the comic book "masculinistrionics."
That was my weekend. Busy, indeed. Hopefully, I will get a chance to do some fun stuff this
week before school starts again. (And of course there's the pesky spectre of work and such.)
There are plans to take a day trip somewhere. I hope to get out and about this weekend, too.
I don't know. I'll play it by ear. A number of people are out of town. And I have been
especially anti-social as of late. Not that I don't want to hang out with people or be around
people. But I want to hang out, meet, and be around other people. It's become really
important to me that I expand my social circle. This has created some tension in my life,
mainly because the people I used to hang out with a lot haven't seen much of me. I don't know.
I have to figure it out and at least express to them that it isn't a matter of liking or
not liking them. It's a matter of time, circumstance, effort (or lack thereof), and the
usual changes that social circles and friendships go through. What I don't like however is
that there has been some rumor-milling and behind-my-back supposition and consternation
going on. That's lousy. Furthermore, because I am friends with a number of different
cliques of people, I tend to get spread very thin and I tend to run with people who want to
do things I want to do. Maybe I should just give up and become a hermit. I'd rather
self-select myself out than be pushed out or made into a pariah.
read footnotes |
• • •
"h.b.t.y." | thursday | march 29, 2007 | 10:50 am
APPY BIRTHDAY TO MY FRIEND ANDREW. Happy birthday to
my friend Seth. Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday from a lobster!
Happy birthday to you!
• • •
last month |