Sunlight to the Time Vampire?


I have no time vampire for this week.  Really.  Unless you want to count my job.  Which, theoretically, shouldn’t be a time vampire since it’s A) what grown ups are supposed to do with their time and B) brings a paycheck.

B, at least, holds a significant amount of attraction.

Unfortunately A does not yield fun times or anything worthy of comments.  Annoying, stressful,….and run times averaging over 10.25 hours.

Together A and B combine to slay any time vampire that might attempt to consume my hours with mindless, un-productive fun.

So maybe work is a time vamp.  An evil time vamp.



A Mysterious Dance Partner, A Magic Memory

I went through a whole list of possible subjects tonight, but all of them would take too long to write up.  Instead I’m going with this one, because it’s short and sweet.  And it’s about a guy.

No, no, before anyone gets excited, Kristy has not gotten a life.  Or a man.  I don’t even really know this guy.

About six years ago I was out at a club with my crazy ex-roommate.  It was one of those bizarre half Middle Eastern, half salsa clubs with Washington DC has.  Something you need to know about me is that I love to dance.  In just about any genre.  And I am a sucker for a good dance partner.  I’m not going to go home with a guy because he’s a good dancer, or even give him my real phone number, but I will spend a good chunk of time with one.  So I was walking across one of the dance floors in this club, with my amaretto sour in my hand, when someone grabs me by the hand.

I turn, or more to the point, he turns me, and it’s this super dreamy Latino guy with a pony tail.  I suppose there was some sort of silent exchange which amounted to, “Wanna dance?” “Um… sure?” because the next thing I know he had spun me over to a little table and dipped me so I could set my drink down.  And then we started dancing.  He was an amazing dancer.  Strong lead, but knew how to listen to his follow.  Not too touchy feely, but not afraid of proximity.  Just fantastic.  As the song ended he dipped me, kissed me on the lips and said in a low voice, “My name is Sergio.  Come back Wednesday.  I’ll be here.”  Then he spun me and let go of my hand.  I recovered my amaretto sour and walked away.  Slightly giddy.

Every time I tell this story the obvious question I get asked is, “Did you go back on Wednesday?”  The answer is no.

People are often exasperated with me for this.  But going back never entered into my mind.  I enjoyed the hell out of that dance, and the boy had some moves (not just salsa moves).  But we had one amazing dance.  And there’s no way a second encounter wouldn’t have sullied the swoon worthiness of that single moment.  In my mind there are two possibilities for what would have happened on Wednesday:  Either Sergio would have had no clue who I was or I would have discovered that he was a slime ball or a criminal or otherwise undesirable.

Let’s face it, I’m not a wild fling kinda girl, and guys who are looking to start a relationship usually ask for a number.  Or at the very least a name.  And they generally don’t go around kissing women they’ve just met.

But I don’t care.  None of that makes me think any less of Sergio.  I wouldn’t turn Sergio into marriage material for all the world.  Thanks to him I have a magic memory, a good story to tell, and hell… a quick blog post.

Horror Movies: Long Time Confusers of Cammy

I generally don’t do horror films.  My parents were pretty strict about what my brother and I viewed as kids, so I had no exposure there.  And, for the most part, I’m a born chicken-shit–not exactly someone zoned for things-that-pop-out-and-disembowel you.  My only true brush with a horror film was Silence of the Lambs (note: watching this alone in your dorm room?  Bad idea), and I’ve been told this is “high brow” enough that it’s not really like a lot of other “slasher” flicks.

So, anyhow, maybe it’s my lack of love for the genre, but….

Why the frak are there so many of these damned movies?  Honestly, who the hell is watching these things?  I have to assume there must be a non-negligible number of people imbibing the crap since Hollywood keeps making it.  How the hell many Friday the 13ths are there? Every time I flip past MTV (by flip past, read “get-sucked-in-to-Teen-Mom”) they’re advertising some new horror film which has a tendency to look just like the last new horror film.  And scrolling through Netflix I swear I saw, like The Ring 16 or something.  With so many derivatives, how are these not completely contrived?  And even if you’re not in it for the plot, wouldn’t the effect of a brutal attacks on innocently stupid victims lose the adrenaline surge.  Are my assumptions wrong?!?!?!

So, gentle readers, if you are among the consumers of this brand of entertainment:  enlighten me.  Sincere confusion here.  This is not judgement, this is Cammy feeling very stupid and unable to grasp something.  What’s the selling point?  Or is there one?  Is watching this a secret heresy (feel free to confess here among friends, did I mention I watch Teen Mom?)?

To Coffee or not to Coffee

Would we drink coffee with William Shakespeare?

Kristy: Seriously, have we not done this one already?  If we have, I can’t find it.  And no harm in two coffee dates with the same person I suppose.

Yes, I would definitely have coffee with the Bard.  Before I go further I must let you all know that while I love Shakespeare, I also fully acknowledge that he was a hack.  And probably something of an asshole.  And I haven’t entirely forgiven him for giving us Romeo and Juliet.  But on the other hand, you can’t read parts of Richard III (the non-baby killing parts) without realizing that this guy would be fun to hang out with.  You know he would not just be fun to people watch with, he would offer scathing, hysterical critiques.  I also love Julius Caesar more than is probably healthy and “My Mistress’ Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun” is my favorite love poem ever.  Not to mention I used to do a very fun unit in my intro-lit classes comparing different film versions of Hamlet and I’d love to hear which one is Bill’s favorite.

Cammy: Yes.  But, for full disclosure, first, I’m going to sock him across the chin for Romeo and Juliet right off the bat.  And then, I’m going to buy that jack ass a good stiff drink of his choice for Much Ado About Nothing.  And then we’re going to see if Mr. Wordsmith can bring it and kick my ass in a battle of verbal wits.  And if he can’t beat me (which, should be very easy for someone less allegedly skilled than The Bard), I’ll sock him again (yes, I’m this confident that I could kick his ass).  Then it will be quiz time–let’s debunk this “Shakespeare didn’t write that” myth once and for all, and let’s get honest facts on where he got his stories (because we know he had sources, let’s lay ‘em out).  Kristy might want to send me out of The Spacial Anomaly because I’m likely to make this more lit an interrogation at Gitmo than a chatty coffee get together….

Kristy: Still… Sounds like a good time.

The McCandless Story

I originally heard the tale of Christopher McCandless from the Eddie From Ohio song, “Sahara.”  There’s something fitting about the introduction coming in that format.  Nothing adds to the romanticism of a tale quite like dissemination through music.

Of course, from “Sahara” I moved on to the more detailed (and, honestly, the more common) form of exposure to the story, Jon Krakauer’s book Into the Wild.  More recently, the Krakauer book was transformed into a movie, directed by Sean Penn.

The short version of the McCandless story is a young man, from a far-less-than-deprived background, college educated, donates his life savings, and drops out of society for two years, no contact with his family, tramping around the Western US on a sort of philosophical quest, a search for a kind of truth from living off the land in solitude….only to be found dead in the Alaskan Wilderness.

The longer version is more complex.  McCandless seemed to be driven to this break, at least in part by the discovery of a family secret (he and his sister were not born in wedlock–his father was still legally married to his first wife at the time).  He worked hard to stay hidden, off the RADAR–donated his lifesavings, hid his car in the desert.  He re-christened himself Alexander Supertramp, and in his wandering across the west, he set his sights on Alaska.  He seemed to keep people at arms’ length during his odyssey.  Ultimately, he went into the wilderness near Denali having taken few of the precautions an experienced woodsman would take.  No compass.  No notification to people outside of where he would be.  Limited food.  Death was by starvation.  There are multiple theories as to how this came about–poisoning from misidentified vegetation, spoiled seeds/grain, simply burning more calories than he could forage/hunt. From his journals we know he attempted to hike out from his location, but was cut off by the increased flow of the Teklanika River at that time of year….although, had he consulted a map, there was a hand operated tram crossing about a quarter mile away.  There were also huts with stores for lost hikers in the area–though these may have been spoiled by vandals.

The story tends to yield two camps, the Pro-McCandless camp that embraces him as a hero for daring to buck the trend of society and reject material considerations in favor of that higher truth, and the McCandless-is-a-damned-idiot camp that resents the hero status he’s been given for what–to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of wilderness survival–is at best ignorance tinged with arrogance and, at worst, suicide.

For anyone who has ever wanted to give the finger to “civilization” and get back to the most basic elements of surviving, it’s easy to romanticize  McCandless.  His tragic end makes him a martyr.  I can’t deny, that I find some attraction in the thought of disappearing into the wild to live alone.  The fact that I find this attraction frightening is no doubt due to the fact that I can also identify with those who are less pleased with the tale of this young man (particularly native Alaskans).  What he did?  It really was either dumb or suicide.  I’ve done my fair share of camping.  Dad’s taught me a thing or two about getting along in the wilderness.  It’s by no means enough to make me a woodswoman, but it’s plenty to tell me that you don’t do what he did and expect to come out alive.  Dropping out of society seems good….but it just doesn’t work like that.  You either need a lot of equipment and training, or you just can’t go solo.

For me, I think the imbalance in how I feel about the story is part of what intrigues me.  I admire the strength of the attempt, but shake my head at the stupidity.  I applaud the ideals he was supporting, but I question the method in which he chose to execute them.

Regardless, whether cautionary or in praise, I tend to think this story is one that bears retelling.

On Big Group Dining

I’m at a conference right now.  I love academic conferences—it’s a weekend of being surrounded by really smart people getting to see them be smart, but also be people.  You know, the human type.  And since my field is awesome, there’s lots of papers on everything from fanfiction to William Butler Yeats to fast food.

One thing I don’t like about conferences is that inevitably big groups of people decide they have to eat together.  This means:  a) terrible time getting everyone to agree on a restaurant.  B) you have a terrible time getting the restaurant to seat you. C)  Inevitably I get stuck down at one end with a bunch of people I don’t know making small talk.  I hate making small talk.  Particularly with strangers.  Okay… let’s be honest, I hate people.

I just don’t understand why it’s so important that we not separate for an hour so we can eat in some way that makes sense.  We’re not going to miss out on too much conversation in that time.  Just obnoxious small talk.

Me and My Knee

My knee started hurting, or, rather I started to notice it was hurting, sometime in November.  It wasn’t debilitating.  Mostly I just noticed it would hurt for a few minutes when I would first stand up from my desk.  No pain walking, so I didn’t think much of it.

By the time I was leaving for Australia the pain was a little worse when I stood.  I figured I would have to be careful standing up after being seated for long periods on the flight over.  I was right.  It was kind of a bitch, especially when I got to Sydney.  But, as usual, once I was moving, it was all good.  No problem.  I walked around and climbed mountains in Australia–no biggie.

But lately it’s gotten worse.  A week and a half back I stood up quickly, ready to scurry to make a meeting….and it hurt bad enough that I stumbled and fell against the desk.  And the knee had started aching a bit even while I was seated.  So, our team Admin decided to “Mom” me and insisted I make an appointment with the doctor.  Which I did.  For today.

And I’m rather glad I listened to the Admin.

For one, I can now report that my bet with myself on what the problem was came out astonishingly well and I will be treating myself to a guilt-free two hour writing stint this weekend.  For another, my doctor didn’t start talking surgery (a big worry for me since I don’t have anyone around to help me out during the whole recovery phase unless Mom would come back from Australia for a while–also, I’m chicken and don’t wanna), nor did she threaten me with a massive cortisone shot (Mom did that number with her knee several years ago).

The doc says I have probably (though, not 100% certain) have a small tear in the (lateral) meniscus.  Could have happened doing anything–walking, squatting, who knows?  Given that my knee isn’t giving out or locking up, she’s pretty confident I can heal on my own, given a good few months.  She didn’t put the kibutz on my walking, and suggested I try the exercise bike to help build the muscles to stablize the knee.  She wasn’t keen on running or jogging, which is great since I hate doing either of those and embrace any additional reason not to engage in those high-impact activities.  She also gave me a topical anti-inflammatory (Yay for no pills!).

So we’ll see how I do.  If it gets worse, or hasn’t improved in a few months, I’m supposed to go back.  Given the family track record of issues with this particular joint, I think that would mean an MRI next.   Here’s hoping it works.

This Time Vampire is not My Job!

I just got an email from my boss ordering me to go to bed, so this will be a quick one.  Who am I to defy such and order?

Why am I so worn out that I’m getting such emails?  Well, largely because I’m a graduate student, and partially because someone still thinks it’s a great idea to pounce on my head in the wee hours of the morning.  But these things I can deal with.  What I’m pissed off about is that I’ve spent a lot of the past two weeks doing other people’s jobs for them.

In one of my jobs I’m the big lady in charge.  There’s no one higher than me.  So if things aren’t done by the time they get up to my rung of the ladder they aren’t getting done if I don’t do them.  Did I mention I also have two other jobs?  And am a full time student?  So there’s not a lot that pisses me off worse than my staff member sending me emails saying, “Hey… I have a busy week this week.  I was supposed to do X, Y, and Z… can you do it?”  Well sure, because I have nothing else to do.  And the worst is when they promise they’re going to do something, then proceed to not do it, thereby forcing you to do it.   Grrr….

You know what world?  I’m not doing your jobs until tomorrow.  Right now my job is sleeping!

The Living Dead In this Musikalisher Mittwoch

Back in the glory days of 80s country music a group called Shenandoah released a song called “Ghost in this House.”  I liked the song, even though I’ve never been wild about the group performing it*.  It painted a very different image of a break up–a lonesome, desperate, defeated kind of image.  It’s like a textbook description of clinical depression–phone and door unanswered, not picking up the mail, sitting in the darkened (and unmaintained) house.

I’m just a ghost in this house / I’m just a shadow upon these walls…

And backing up this accurate description of a person who has been rendered a shell of his/her former self is a haunting, but simple tune (I can hum this on my own without cringing at sour notes–that’s no easy thing, I tell you).

The combination was potent enough that Alison Krauss covered the song in the 90s–creating an even more beautiful and haunting version than Shenandoah’s original.  This version seems to be the one through which more non-mainstream-country fans have been exposed.

And now, score one more for exposure.

I was more than a little shocked, and totally stoked and giddy, when I popped in my newly imported copy of Sissel’s new album Til Deg….** and within 4 notes of Track 7 beginning I was bouncing my chair.  “Levande Död” was undeniably “Ghost in this House” (and I totally started singing along in English).  It sounds beautiful.  This fits right in my deep love of good covers of good songs AND my deep love of hearing covers done in random languages (especially if the translation fits well….which means it’s not an attempt to do a one-to-one word swap, but still maintains the original theme/story).

I haven’t had a chance to translate all the lyrics, but the title alone tells me that the lyrical theme of the original remains in tact.  “Levande Död” was pretty obviously “Living Dead” to me (I confirmed this with Google translate).  So either Levande Död is the coolest way to refer to ghosts in a Norse dialect (fairly sure this cover is in Swedish)…..

Or maybe Sissel’s singing a really beautiful song about zombies.

That would be awesome, too.


*Shenandoah actually had a number of selections I loved as pieces independent of the particular performance.  I can’t fault their ability to choose gems.  They also had “Sunday in the South” and “Church on Cumberland Road.”
**In theory there will be a US version of Sissel’s album out eventually, but given it’s already been 4 months since Til Deg… came out in Europe, I’m not sure it will ever come out here, at least not with the high percentage of Norse-language content.  I’m cool with Sissel singing in English, French, Italian….but I have found more favorites when she’s singing in Norwegian, Danish or Swedish.  Unfortunately, that’s also the stuff that tends to get removed in US releases of her albums.  Apparently it’s okay to expose Americans to foreign influence if it’s a Romantic rather than a Germanic language….

Things that make you go MEEP!

I like to pretend that I’m all unconventional and don’t get sucked in by the same trite things that suck other people in.  But at the end of the day, watching television, I’m as much a sucker for a good shipper worthy couple as the next fangirl.  I get all mushy over those big romantic scenes, just like everyone else.  Yes, I’m a cliché.

But there’s something a little more nebulous that I might love even more.  It’s those lines that are textually speaking not romantic at all, but in the right context, with the right actors and the right director just become pure shipper gold.  Here are my top three examples (in no particular order):

1.        “I’m thinking about getting a car.”  Shawn to Juliet, Psych Okay, so this one did happen in the middle of a big romantic scene.  But to anyone who’s ever watched the show, it never would have worked to have Shawn pouring out his feelings like a typical romantic lead.  Just wouldn’t have felt forced and awkward and deflated everything that made Shawn and Jules Shawn and Jules.  Instead we got Shawn talking about how much he loved his motorcycle, followed by this revelation about how spending time with Juliet had changed his priorities.  And fangirls all over went *Sigh*

2.       “I want you to have Morocco.”  Ethan to Kat, The Class.  I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that most of our readers have never heard of this short lived series.  Which is sad, because it was awesome.  The fact that Two and a Half Men evidently got better ratings than this show sort of encapsulates everything wrong with America for me.  Assuming you don’t have the time to track down the whole series on the interwebs so you can watch and realize why this line still makes me a little gushy:  Ethan and Kat were that couple that was clearly meant for each other and wouldn’t have figured that out until season three, shortly after which things would have gone stupidly wrong only to have them reunite just before the final episode.  Sadly the show ended on a season 1 cliffhanger so all we ever got was Ethan and Kat denying their feelings for each other and being bffs while each dated other people.  Kat (played by the delightful Lizzie Caplan) was a head case and a half who had just explained to Ethan that she had to dump her current boyfriend because he was talking about taking a trip to Morocco together in three months.  Kat explained to Ethan that as much as she wanted to go on that trip, she knew it would never last that long.  “Just because you want Morocco doesn’t mean you get Morocco.”  And that’s when Ethan gave her a pep talk which closed with this line.  Letting us all know exactly how much he wanted her to be happy.  Even if it wasn’t with him.  Aw!

3.       “If you were in an accident I wouldn’t stop for red lights.”  Donna to Josh, The West Wing Seriously, we got this beautiful moment in season 2 and it took these two till season 7 to work their shit out.  Seriously!  I have to confess I’m not sure I believe Donna stops for red lights on a regular basis anyway, but still… this moment was magic.  One of those times where two people make it so obvious that they totally love each other without a single real affectionate comment or discussing feelings at all.  Thank you Aaron Sorkin.  I still gratuitously rewind this one.