intertribal: (meow)
... this one just came out of the swamp."
- Radiohead, "Optimistic"

Orson Scott Card is no longer contributing to the Superman mythos, and people are very happy about that because of his stance on gay marriage and homosexuality in general (being a Mormon).  This being the first I'd heard about any Card/Superman shenanigans, my reaction was "Well, of course he wants to write about Superman.  Superman is probably perfect for him.  He probably thinks Superman is the perfect Mormon, just like Stephanie Meyer wrote vampires as the perfect Mormons."

This blog, for instance, explains that Card should not write Superman because "I do not think that an admitted bigot, whether bigoted for religious reasons or no, is qualified to write for the comic universe’s greatest symbol of truth, justice, and equality."  I don't read Superman or Card, but I'm sure - sure - that Card thinks he's got at least truth and justice on his side.  Most people with strong beliefs don't think they're fighting for injustice and falsehood.  Here's an example of the defunct British political party, Veritas (note their primary policy, liberals).  Here is the famous USSR paper, Pravda.  Islamist Justice Parties are all over the place, like Indonesia's own Prosperous Justice Party - and most Western liberals don't think of Islamic law as the foundation for justice.  Truth, Justice, it just sounds like a good place to start.  And a character like Superman - who to me is the boyscout superhero with an unshakable dedication to all that is good - is going to be an appealing totem for any movement that thinks it's got righteousness on its side.

I don't begrudge Chris Sprouse, the would-be illustrator, his decision not to work with Card.  I don't begrudge not supporting Card.  I don't begrudge liking Superman.  I'm not even saying there is no absolute Truth or Justice.  But Superman is a symbol anybody can claim.  Card writing Superman is not like a misogynist writing Wonder Woman, because Superman's not gay.  Superman is a boy from a farm in Kansas who just wants to help people with his incredible strength. Sounds like a good place to start.  Boys Wanna Be Him, Girls Wanna Be Him.  DBZ fandom was the same way - jam-packed with conservatives and libertarians who read totally different messages in what I thought was The Great Post-Colonial Disaster.  Stephen Chow explained it very graciously: "the airy and unstrained story leaves much room for creation."  The main reason I'm writing this is because I am familiar with the feeling of frustration you get when something you love is terribly "misread."

I also know that with that feeling of indignation is a little hint deep inside that maybe you're the the one misreading things all along.  There was once a xenophobic facebook group, for example, that used The Lord of the Rings and Aragorn's "I Bid You Stand, Men of the West" in particular as its mascot.  I love LOTR, and I love Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn, and that is not what they represent to me, but I'm not going to pretend there is no xenophobia in that story, and that the facebook group creators were totally coming out of left (right) field.  l do think there's something about simple hero epics that appeals to a more conservative - and more ideological, on either side - audience overall.  It's the absolutism, I'd guess, and the masculinity.  So I also think Superman is a symbol someone like Orson Scott Card can easily claim.  Hooray.

Also, this is why I study -isms like fascism and nationalism: because there's a reason people sign onto these things.  These are words, ideas, symbols, codes that work.

This song helped me come to terms with this.  Hope it helps:

intertribal: (Default)

I promised Lindsey I would write this entry.

I recently decided to re-write a series of books I first wrote in junior high and high school (I wrote one book a year).  They were really quite terrible in too many ways to mention, but I was also a teenager.  I wrote most before I read anything truly good.  I decided this mostly because I think I had some really fun ideas in those books, especially pertaining to politics and religion, which are my favorite subjects, and like I "owed it" to the skeleton of this seven-novel series to not just let it crumble in obscurity (born in lust, turn to dust).  I think I also decided to do this because these characters were people I knew, long-forgotten friends who saw me through my most hormonal, unstable years.  And I missed them.  We've been through a lot together.  I named the series after Walton Ford's "Sensations of an Infant Heart" (this is the only thing I've ever written to Harper's Magazine about - I emailed the woman in charge of the art department and said, "So I have this picture from your magazine of a chained up monkey strangling a parrot and I have no idea who it's by, please help?" and she wrote back, "Oh, it's Walton Ford.  What a picture, amirite?").  I think I knew while writing it that it was juvenile and half-baked and that I wasn't ready for the story I was trying to tell.

I started publishing short stories a couple years after I finished the last book of this series.  I don't feel very much for my short story characters.  This enables me to do to them what I could never have done to these first proto-characters, my Adam and Eve.  It enables me, supposedly, to view them objectively.  There are some that have stayed with me more than others, like Lizbet from "Pugelbone" and the unnamed narrator from "Intertropical Convergence Zone," because they were drawn from places close to me emotionally - Lizbet was drawn from my blood, the army guy from, well, my dad and Suharto and other larger-than-life Indonesian men from my childhood.  But most of them are pawns.  I like to think they're reasonably well-rounded, but it's entirely possible that they read a little cold and distant because of this wall I put up.  I put the wall up for reasons that I thought were good: I was way, way too invested in my proto-characters, it got in the way of the story, and in the end their characterization suffered for it. "Are You Hurting The One You Love," indeed.  I know that Kill Your Darlings refers to words, but after this series I decided to use it with my characters.  These characters' next permutation were still near and dear to me, but much less so.  Because I was also becoming a better writer throughout this whole process, I associated the technique with good writing.

And I think this affected the way I read other books and watched movies/television, too.  I stopped getting emotionally involved with other people's characters.  I had gone through a period where I was very involved in fictional characters - incidentally, at the same time I started writing my overly-emotional series - and I was embarrassed by that side of me.  Sure, there were characters I liked, a lot, like Dale Cooper and Audrey Horne from Twin Peaks and Starbuck and the Agathons from Battlestar Galactica.  I think I only ever fell in love with Billy Budd, of all characters, after the calamity of The Song of Roland (and yes, they all end up dying, always), and maybe a little bit with Yossarian.  It took me a long time to find a female character I genuinely liked, and then I found myself much more sympathetic to a whole host of them: Eleanor Vance from The Haunting of Hill House, the narrator of The Bell-Jar, April from Revolutionary Road, Lily from Run, River.  But for the most part I appreciated these books and movies for other reasons - words or stories or ideas.  A lot of my favorite stuff, like A Sound and the Fury and The Violent Bear It Away and almost everything I've read by Cormac McCarthy, were populated entirely by noxious, terrible people. I wanted to see their worlds collide, I wanted to watch them climb over each other and go up in flames, but there was no visceral attachment.

Then I decided to rewrite this series.  Around then I started watching The Tudors (I know, I know), and I got all invested in the tragic queens.  I've gotten invested in television characters before though - I think it's an effect of spiraling melodrama, it catches you up the way sports catch you up - so that in and of itself was not worth much.  But I did end up writing a story based on Jane Seymour and Anne Boleyn, because they wouldn't get out of my head.  And then when I came back to DC this semester, I started watching that free Netflix series, House of Cards.  And I "met" Peter Russo.

Everyone I know who watches that show - and my sample size is all male, for what it's worth - loves the main character, Francis Underwood, because he's "boss" and callous and cool and is in control of everyone.  I think Francis is evil and horrible and shitty, but I totally fell in love with Peter's character.  I would start episodes being like, "Peter, you'd better not [insert stupid thing here]."  And Peter is a terrible judge of character and an addict, so there's a lot of "Oh Peter Russo no" in the show.  Peter is weak, while Francis is strong.  Peter has big dreams and really deep lows, while Francis is always level-headed, rational, logical, focused on the prize.  At the time I wasn't sure why I loved Peter so much.  I decided later that he reminded me of who my male proto-character was turning into, and man, I always loved/hated that guy - and it recently occurred to me that my proto-character evolved this way because he's like the id version of myself: the volatile, angry and depressive mess driven by resentment and self-hatred.  Starbuck is the female version of this, which is I think why I like her.  And my female prototype, the stoic good girl, is my super-ego side that most people see on a daily basis while I work and study and listen to people's problems.  This is a surprising realization, to say the least (and not one I was at all expecting), but may go along the way toward explaining why I keep writing this duo over and over, until the end of time.

Organizing and planning the rewrite is like a drug to me now (the outline for the first book - thankfully I scaled it down from seven to three).  I do think that the edited/overhauled version has a lot of potential.  I think it reflects how much older I am now - the characters and their relationships and the context they operate in are all vastly changed, having been boiled down to their core and seen for what they really are: damaged people, in many ways, the full extent of which I couldn't quite fathom as a high-schooler.  I also think it picks at a raw nerve in me, and I've always picked at wounds.

I still can't shake the feeling, though, that real writers don't write this way - not the ones that end up living relatively healthy, balanced lives, anyway.  I know that Caddy was Faulkner's heart's darling, but Caddy was barely ever on-page and never heard from directly - which mitigates, I would think, the detrimental effect of an emotional attachment to one's own creation.  Because writing is business, right, it's politics and nothing personal?

intertribal: (i hate love)
So hey!  asakiyume is making me do this meme.  It's going to be terrible because I am not actively working on this novel (all I can manage are little short stories, and even those I can't really manage).  Nonetheless!  I am committed to the effort of someday writing this story, and I continue to modify it ever so slightly in my sleep.  Also I am totally re-doing the series of books I wrote as a high school student and turning them into a treatise on the religious right.  You heard right.  But first, after-the-apocalypse.

What is the title of your book?

Junction Rally, followed by Pleading the Blood and On Fire for God (again: this is not the religious right trilogy). 

Where did the idea for the book come from?

You don't want to know.  In its current permutation, however, it came from stories about non-white children who are taken away from their parents and raised "white."  Also: from being intrigued by post-apocalyptic scenarios and then confused as to why none of them went in the direction I would have gone in.  Also: being angry at humanity, and this song: "Wield it wisely, and wield it ruthlessly."  Fun fact: that's how I strive to wield that sword.

What genre does your book fall under?

Fantasy.  Horror?  Probably some kind of Fantastic Horror, but I'm sure it would be put next to the other grim, ashy post-apocalyptic books with lonely men carrying guns in a bookstore, never mind that on my cover the man would be pointing the gun at himself. 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I am actually one of those annoying TV-generation writers (when I first started writing I saw everything as a movie, which is why my writing was so terrible and why my mother was like, "uh, are you sure you don't want to be a cinematographer?) who has a whole cast sketched out, but they would all be either dead or old or in rehab by the time this gets made.  Nonetheless, I would want my main character to be played by someone like Joaquin Phoenix in Signs, managing to be earnest, passive, and dopey all at once, and my main antagonist to look like Channing Tatum pretty much at any time.  Oh, and my morose primary female character to look like Eva Green in Womb

What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?

Trapped in one of America's last villages, a young "demon" tries to be "good" in the hopes of being accepted as a human.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I would want an agency, but this is so far down the road, I don't even...

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

About six months of pretty solid devotion to writing (and schoolwork).

What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?

Well, this is my never-ending problem, because I basically read literary fiction, and usually non-contemporary literary fiction at that (1920s-1960s precisely), and I have a lot of issues with most post-apocalyptic fiction especially.  I can tell you that despite the social conservativeness of many of the more loutish characters, it is the anti-Under the Dome.  That said, of the books I love, I would say it aims for something that harks closest to O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away, the Ibsen plays An Enemy of the People and Ghosts, and McCarthy's Outer Dark.  I can't emphasize enough that I am not saying I can write like they can.  If we can go to other media, though, it's kind of 100% Battlestar Galactica set in a small town in Nebraska, then smashed together with Twin Peaks

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I have no idea.  I felt it was an important story to tell, for whatever reason.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Exorcisms (fake and real), cannibals, small-town politics, baby-ghosts, wolves, (heavy) gender politics, moonshine, mundane evil, social analysis, moral conundrums.  That's just in the first book!  Even more shit guaranteed to go down in books two and three, including but not limited to angels, demons, "dragons," California, decapitation, dysfunctional families, and true love.

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

Any writers who see this are welcome to do it.
intertribal: (get back (you don't know me like that))
Natnari: I think I am fall in love with Park Chung hee
Me: who is that
Natnari: the Korean Dictator during 1970 80

Not gonna lie, my first thought was he was a Korean pop idol.  My second thought was, oh shit I didn't know that and I just did my readings on Korean industrialization!  My third thought was, yeah.  He was a pretty smart dude.
intertribal: (Default)
I'm back in DC.  Lugged my overweight (by two pounds! but that made it 52 pounds) suitcase through the metro system, including a mistaken early exit at the Archives station - always forget there's a station between L'Enfant Plaza and Gallery Place.  This is how my roommates greeted me:
  • Jordan: hug.
  • Aaron: hiding in my room and jumping out when I walked in, causing me to scream uncontrollably.
  • Byron: nod.
That pretty much sums up my roommates, right there.

My efforts to take a class at Georgetown to avoid taking a class with an unmentionably bad professor at my own university may have been foiled by an over-anxious Georgetown professor who wants to make sure his students (alas!) don't get shut out of their own school's class.  As I try to reconcile myself to taking the class at my home university, I get an email from Lincoln warning me, in all-caps, not to take unmentionably bad professor.  And then I think to myself, wow, this matters so little in the long run, so very very little.  Yet I spend an hour - after watching an episode of Real World: St. Thomas ("Wow, it's amazing how everyone paired up this season," I said, looking at Jordan, "it's so unusual."  And the result of everyone pairing up, incidentally?  Self-harm, alcoholism, and homophobia.) and an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia ("The Gang Gets A New Member," a guy who ends up being too awesome and self-confident for them, essentially, and gets kicked back out) - trying to find a new class, somewhere, anywhere, that has something to do with Asia.

When I went back to my room Idris left me a message on facebook: Dear Nadia, please pick up your phone.  Love, Idris.  So I called him back.  Halfway through our conversation, he says, "You sound absolutely nuts right now."

"Oh yeah?  Yeah, I've been sounding nuts for the past four months.  At least this time I'm not nuts in a bad way, you know, I'm not crying!"

It's dim in my room.  I need to get another lamp.
intertribal: (hey i heard you like the wild ones)
I've been all about the doomed marriage/suburban collapse stories lately.  I don't really have an explanation other than some sad attempt at self-education.  I read Revolutionary Road this summer, and just finished Run, River by Joan Didion - and need more like them.  The titles do not have to start with Rs.  An older-set, psychedelic variant that has stayed with me: The Sheltering Sky.  I also read The Slap this summer, which is a little different compared to the first two, and in a way the most depressing because the characters were drawn much less sympathetically with the least self-awareness (or so it seemed to me) compared to the first two.  But seriously, I am not one to care about sympathetic characters.

Also, Run, River is so good!  I almost gave up on it while reading the first part but once the story goes back into the past it improves by leaps and bounds.  I think it's really about women operating in society than doomed relationships, although there's plenty of those - Lily is the inept, broken one, whereas Martha is the emotional, normal one.  I think some of the most interesting segments take place when Everett, the repressed and order-obsessed man (Lily's husband/Martha's brother), is out ignoring problems at home and Lily and Martha, who start off disliking each other, are flailing at each other.  At one point Martha tells a guy she meets at a wedding that he is disgusting and she is just as bad as Lily for sleeping with him, and when he asks who Lily is, she replies that Lily is her sister and he isn't fit to say her name.  Lily marries Everett basically because he is the first to ask and she thinks it's what she's supposed to do, and so ends up with a guy she can't actually "talk out loud" to; Martha falls so recklessly in love with Ryder Channing that she's essentially crippled from being able to accomplish anything else.  Then I guess there's Francie.  Francie gets druuuunk.

intertribal: (want me to get you something daddy?)
"Is it possible I'm thinking about you too much?" That's a clown question, bro.
-- from here, by antilamentation
intertribal: (girl you talk too much / shut up)
Here is a thing that needs to stop:
  1. Girl violates some group norm (usually liking/going after/not repudiating a guy who is "off limits," but this varies).
  2. Group organizes revenge/punitive attack on girl that almost always involves rape.
  3. Girl commits suicide for multiple reasons (shame, hurt, desire for revenge).
  4. Girl becomes horrible, terrifying, evil ghost that picks off group members one by one.*
For one, it perpetuates and universalizes a single narrative/understanding of rape and its consequences - namely, that it is the most horrible thing that can ever be done to a woman, so much so that it actually drives her to kill herself and become a vengeful spirit in order to kill everyone involved in wronging her, like a Lifetime movie on paranormal crack basically - and for two, it is really lazy writing.  I immediately lose interest in any new plot that involves this storyline, although I do retain a reluctant soft spot for Shutter, probably just because it was the first I saw of this type. 

I understand that most Asian horror stories make revenge the driving force, and I understand that most Asian horror stories involve female evil spirits, and that this leads, "obviously," to rape-and-revenge.  It's not unlike the recurring theme in American gaming/comics/fantasy/sci-fi where the strong action heroine has only become strong because she was once raped.  But really: if you must have revenge, and you must have a female evil spirit, there are other paths to take.  Look at the entire Whispering Corridors series, which at least has girls committing suicide and becoming wraiths for other reasons, because of different wrongs.  I would say don't look at all the performance-oriented movies where the big wrong is "you scarred my face!" or "you took my spot as the lead in our girl band!" but at this point, I would rather sit through that kind of a movie than another rape-and-revenge.

* Similar, but distinct: the group kills the girl during or in the immediate aftermath of the attack (c.f. The Maid).  Similar because rape-and-revenge is still an overtone, but distinct because she doesn't actually get any chance to respond to the rape particularly, and she doesn't commit suicide.

ah, shit.

Aug. 12th, 2012 01:19 am
intertribal: (get back (you don't know me like that))
Reading Junji Ito's "The Will" while listening to "Come to Daddy (Pappy Mix)" by Aphex Twin at 1 a.m.?

May rank in my list of dumbest decisions of all time.

intertribal: (girl you talk too much / shut up)
Yes, it's two horror movie reviews!  Not very extensive ones, I'm afraid, but still!

Don't you just hate those movies where dumb Americans go off to some far-off foreign locale and end up getting sacrificed by some deceitful Paganistic locals to some dark and primitive nether-god?  So do I!  And so does The Shrine.  I thought The Shrine was going to be one of those movies until about the 2/3 point, and I kept watching anyway because the acting is decent for a shallow little horror movie and I was curious, despite my distaste for the set-up, about the eventual reveal.  But surprise!  Things are not what you would expect them to be. 

Now none of this is going to change your life.  It's not Candyman or Japanese or anything.  It would be a great entry in the After Dark Horror Fest or a great episode of Masters of Horror or Fear Itself, if those shows were still alive.  A neat little short story.  A worthy contribution to horror as fun schlock.

Absentia is a strange beast, completely lacking in horror movie context and almost directionless.  The characters and setting are great, and refreshing for horror - two young adult sisters (one a former drug addict and one pregnant) just muddling through life in working class California.  Nothing glamorous.  The pregnant one has a husband who's been missing for seven years, and is declaring him dead in absentia.  She's also having horrible "lucid dreams" about him.  The former drug addict has now found Jesus.  You think it's setting up to be a demonic possession type thing.  It's not.  Really, really not.

This one feels much less put together than The Shrine.  It is flawed.  And considering what it turns out to be about - the tone is bizarre, subdued and unsettling and sad, something more befitting a ghost story perhaps.  But I feel like Absentia is both going for and accomplishes more, emotionally/intellectually, than The Shrine.  Probably because I am a sucker for horror movies that try to be artsy and sensitive.  But there really is something here, particularly about the rationalizations we tell ourselves about people that go missing. 

Both on Netflix Watch Instantly. 
intertribal: (everything i do i do it big)
... and still living like a 4 dollar vic.

It's been a day of near-misses, travel-wise (almost missed my train back from Bandung to Jakarta, because I left my phone at my "Tante Marjie"'s house... then, thought that I was leaving Jakarta for Bangkok/L.A. Tuesday afternoon, when really I am leaving tomorrow afternoon).  Natnari "Whan" Sihawong is officially my patron saint of travel, for forcing me to realize the correct date. Also, I can now pack a suitcase at record speed.

But: I have come to realize, just in time, that things could be a lot worse, in all aspects of my life.  So, that's a pretty good thing to realize for one's birthday, right?  And I declare that this coming year of my life will be tahun vivere pericoloso.  The year of living dangerously, as Sukarno says.  ~Ambiguities Galore~  And in the meantime...

intertribal: (girl you talk too much / shut up)
One of my (three male) roommates back in DC told me once that I was like Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns.  I have never seen Batman Returns.  But this was just posted in [ profile] film_stills.

Okay, then.
intertribal: (want me to get you something daddy?)
So, The Dark Knight Rises - the last Nolan Batman movie (God willing).  I really liked Batman Begins, which I think I saw in theaters with Christina when neither of us knew what we were expecting - and we were both like, "I think I really kind of LIKED IT" - and have a special relationship with The Dark Knight, which I saw on my own in a shopping mall/movie theater in Surabaya after I bought a canvas bag that said "Life.  Industry.  Work.  Strength."  I saw The Dark Knight Rises last weekend in another shopping mall/movie theater in Jakarta with mixed company, and I felt frustrated and disappointed with it. 

Many people have talked about the questionable politics of The Dark Knight Rises - I particularly like Abigail Nussbaum's review (but when is that ever not true?).  Others have pointed out that these weird fascistic/Randian trends have been in Nolan's Batman movies the entire time, although I must confess I didn't really see them.  To me Batman Begins wasn't very controversial politically, and The Dark Knight was about the classic dilemmas facing public servants trying to do the right thing (I think the most interesting character in it is Dent's) as well as the personal mental collapse that takes place when you decide you can't take trying anymore (see for instance "that's it, I'm moving to Canada" on a much more mundane level, or "fuck iiiiiit" in meme terms).  In the Order vs. Chaos argument, I think a pretty compelling point was made for Chaos, even if officially Order won out.  The Dark Knight Rises, on the other hand, was really playing up the 1% vs. 99% thing, and the 99% pretty much turn out to be duped by an evil that has no motivation other than to be evil.  It actually kind of reminded me of Michael Crichton's "environmentalists are actually engineering global warming to scare us all into going with the Kyoto Protocol!" as well as of that terrible book by Glenn Beck.  The 1% don't even really commit any sins except their parties are boring.  And then there they are, being thrown out on the streets and executed by exile onto a sea of thin ice!  Even Catwoman, the "Robin Hood" character, is all "Batman, you don't owe these plebes anything, they stole all your money."  So yeah, all that: kind of sucky.

Beyond that, I didn't find the movie as much "fun" as I did its predecessors.  I had heard a lot about the explosion in the football stadium scene beforehand but it did not pack the emotional punch that it truly should have, given me and my inclinations.  I actually felt most emotional in the opening scene, during the nuclear physicist's surprise kidnapping.  I don't really know why - maybe the claustrophobia and imminent death involved for such a small pack of people?  But the police being stuck in the tunnels, then surprise!liberated and being gunned down like Theoden's Riders in The Return of the King - meh.  The random schoolbus of orphaned boys - meh.  The pit?  I did feel a twinge when Bruce Wayne makes it out at last, but it was for the cheering prisoners still in the pit, not Bruce Wayne.  This one just didn't click with me.  It felt cold and distant and unwilling to really give of itself.

On the other hand: Alfred the loyal-unto-death butler and Gordon the beleaguered police commissioner were great.  I think those two and Blake (the scrappy new cop) were really the actual soul of the movie, as far as it had a soul at all - the most human characters, at any rate.  Batman/Bruce Wayne was just kind of annoying/useless (ironically), Catwoman was like What Happens When Men Write Women #5a, or so, and Miranda Tate would have potentially been a competent character if not for the barren face heel turn.  Cillian Murphy as the Scarecrow was also fun. 

If anything I sort of wished Batman was erased from this movie, and that it was just the tale of the horribly dysfunctional city that had to fend for itself - that there truly was no ubermensch to save it.  Because I'm fond of Gotham - have been since the beginning - and I was always fiercely of the belief that the League of Shadows was wrong, and Gotham should not be sacrificed as hopelessly corrupt.  Maybe that's because I come from a city that really reminds me of Gotham, sometimes ("criminals in this town used to believe in things - honor, respect!"), and Gotham being assailed by Chaos was like the Jemaah Islamiyah era here, when hotels were being blown up; and the Gotham being assailed by Quasi-Revolution is like what's happening now, with people burning suspected thieves in the street.  And let me tell you: we have no ubermensch.  What we might have, if we're lucky, is a Gordon, a couple Blakes.  We certainly have plenty of Alfreds.

ANYWAY.  Something else I realized while watching The Dark Knight Rises: I think I may be finally shifting my gaze from older men (father substitutes, all) to men my age (the "damaged" ones, but oh well).  I was way, way more attracted to Joseph Gordon-Levitt in this movie than Bruce Wayne (that scene where he's running to the hospital with the rifle!  Rarr!), and that is new.  I was talking about this with my mother, and concluded that regardless of who I actually date, my ideal type seems to be this older, married, brooding political scientist type that is clearly a doppelganger for my father.  And it's also!  A completely safe, riskless outlet for whatever feelings I might develop, because I know in my hardest of hearts that nothing real can actually happen there.  There was no possibility of anything developing.  I couldn't really get involved.  I wasn't going to get heartbroken.  Plus it let me deal with my Daddy Issues.  Sort of, anyway.  I mean, the walls I put up -- both because my father died and everything normal and happy was shattered, and probably just because of me, because I was born nuts -- were miles high.

But I think that's starting to change, and that's a good thing.
intertribal: (even if i'm fucking with her)
I've never seen this justification for democracy promotion given by a U.S. official.  Granted, you usually don't see justifications for democracy promotion at all.
America has many goals but one we believe in strongly is helping nations build their own democratic institutions, because democratic countries rarely experience famines or start wars; when governments listen to their people, their first priority is usually to make their countries more prosperous, a goal we all share.  (from here)
It actually makes more sense than freedom-fries, regardless of possible accuracy problems.
intertribal: (maybe you're right)
Internship aside, I have truly learned a lot this summer, by virtue of sheer lived experience: about family, relationships, parenting, leadership, development, happiness, and just what it means to have sifat baik - a good nature, treating others well.  Most of this has truly had nothing to do with my internship or even my academic program in Malaysia and Vietnam.  I hope that I will be able to internalize at least some of what I've learned.  I'll be lucky if I can.

"Fix You Up" - Tegan & Sara
And what do I need to do to see myself in a better mood?
And what do you need to do to get yourself in a better mood?
Well, there's not a lot for you to give if you're giving in.
There's not a lot for you to feel if you're not feeling it.
What I wanted most was to get myself all figured out.
And what I figured out was I needed more time to figure you out.
Cuz this love is all I have to give.

"All I Really Want" - Alanis Morissette
And all I really want is some patience, a way to calm the angry voice
And what I wouldn't give to find a soulmate?  Someone else to catch this drift?
And what I wouldn't give to meet a kindred?
Enough about me, let's talk about you for a minute.
Enough about you, let's talk about life for a while.
Why are you so petrified of silence?  Here, can you handle this?
Did you think about your bills, your ex, your deadlines?  When you think you're gonna die? 
Or did you long for the next distraction?

"Your Legs Grow" - Nada Surf
If you were here, baby, we'd increase the dosage.
Call me anytime you've got a ghost. 
And you're the only person in the world I feel that way about.
If you move off to the side, I'll get swept back out.
And there's a light that rises up from the bottom of the lake.
And its beam has hit me hard; now I'm wide awake.

"Save Me" - Aimee Mann  <-- this has always been my song, btw
You look like a perfect fit for a girl in need of a tourniquet
But can you save me from the ranks of the freaks who suspect they could never love anyone?
(Except the freaks who suspect they could never love anyone)
Cuz I can tell you know what it's like: the long farewell of the hunger strike.
intertribal: (where would you go if the gun fell in yo)
I'm getting ready to write a story about self-immolation (what a great opening line that is) so I've been doing a lot of research on that, but I hadn't run across this.

At my internship I'm making this enormous insane database of internal conflict/collective violence in Indonesia since the beginning of the year, with columns like "# Houses Burned" and "Types of Arms Used" and "Army Deployed?" (you would be alarmed by how much of it there is), and this requires reading lots and lots of Indonesian newspaper articles that pertain, even vaguely, to the topic.  The latest one, an argument that these small conflicts are beginning to threaten national security, mentions Sondang Hutagalung, a 22-year-old law student (son of a taxi driver) who self-immolated a few months before his planned graduation in front of the Palace of Independence as part of a campaign against government corruption/graft:

From here (note the picture):
“Time for change, remember Tunisia, dissolve the legislature,” Rakrian Yoga said in his Twitter feed, alluding to the death of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi from self-immolation, which sparked the Tunisian revolution that led to the ouster of the country’s president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Bung Karno University will grant an honorary bachelor’s degree to him. 

“A number of public figures and organizations suggested granting the honorary bachelor’s degree,” university deputy rector Daniel Panda said on Sunday in Jakarta as quoted by  He added that the granting of the degree should not been taken as encouragement for other students to do the same thing. 

“As an academic, I hope there will be no repeat of such a measure. There are other options. This is a too high a sacrifice.”
I had no idea that such things were happening in Indonesia - it is not a "tradition" here (see here).  We burn buildings and get shot by the military, but political suicide is not a thing.  I suspect the "remember Tunisia" line is key.  You always wonder about precedent though (in May - in an apparently completely unrelated, random incident - a 69-year-old Dutch citizen self-immolated in front of the Dutch embassy in Jakarta, but he apparently thought that the police were in collusion with the Balinese mafia and trying to chase him).  It is interesting also that Sondang was a devout Christian who always accompanied his mother to church.  A couple months later his girlfriend tried to kill herself out of personal grief, by overdosing on anti-malaria pills in front of his grave. 

This song was playing on my iTunes while I was reading about this:

intertribal: (like a thought touching up against a sig)
One of the little joys in my life is staying at other people's houses and reading their books.  For some reason it comes much more easily than reading books I bought for myself - it's like they're just there, free, weightless, "read me or don't read me, I don't care."  It's how I read The Quiet American and The Bell-Jar, and now it's how I've read Revolutionary Road (in the span of three nights) by Richard Yates.

It's the kind of book that I can imagine readers (especially today's readers) picking up, saying, "I hate all the characters, they're all so annoying and unsympathetic," and putting down.*  That's their loss, though.  And yes, everyone is portrayed almost in the worst light possible, which makes the recurring line from The Petrified Forest spoken by the female lead, April, "Wouldn't you like to be loved by me?" all the more ironic.  But they are human beings, and when I described the plot to my mother - "it's about this couple that considers themselves sort of 'above' the 50s, and they're always going on about the 'hopeless emptiness' of suburbia so they have these dreams of moving to Paris but when the wife tries to actually make these dreams reality, so that the husband will have time to 'find himself,' he gets cold feet and starts to be happy about his mundane job because he gets offered a promotion" - she said, "sounds like life."  And those are my favorite kinds of books.  Nobody here is extraordinarily anything, but they are so life-like in their concealed fucked-up-ness that I read compulsively. 

A lot of books try to do similar types of stories with life in suburbia today, but I have found that they usually descend into sentimentality and/or feature "darling" characters who the writer identifies with or, worse, admires, who get elevated treatment of a sort.  The only person in Revolutionary Road who sort of gets spared the quiet handsawing of Richard Yates is Howard Givings, the old husband of the real estate agent who just stays "steady down now" and turns off his hearing aid to drown out the world around him.  A strong sense of fatigue runs through these people, despite (or because of, more likely) their dreams and masks and plays and vestiges - one of the habits we witness from our main character Frank is the constant rehearsal in his head of what he's going to say to April about events still taking place at work in order to make himself sound like the most interesting man she's ever met, or what he's going to say to her to repair damage from a fight, so that you have to read very carefully to figure out if this is a projected future event or current reality - and it's like Howard is just tired of all this.

For me, two things stuck out: how much the 1950s reminded me of Lincoln, Nebraska (and 1950s New York is apparently what girls who go to Barnard still seek), and how great Richard Yates is at structuring plot and character development, and how extremely readable he is without sacrificing depth.  Everything just flowed with the sense of inevitability (and dread), from tense but mundane beginning to horrific end (see Stewart O'Nan's assessment).  I hate to sound so hallmarky, but it is pretty inspirational from a writing standpoint.

I think if I were to pick a song for this book, it would be one that has no sense of the 1950s at all:

* A couple chapters in the main character accuses his wife of acting out something from Madame Bovary, another book that was condemned by many of my AP Lit classmates as having no sympathetic character (as I recall they were happy when Emma finally died, in a "good, bitch is dead" sort of way).
intertribal: (i'd rather die)
Jan what are you watching?
 me indonesian cryptozoology show
 Jan ok
i'm getting ready to go get some lunch soon
 me yum
 Jan you think?
 me no
i think they're hunting for a giant
or a giant something
the fuck is that?
 Jan idk
but it's cryptozoology
maybe it's an alien
 me mm
 Jan or a leftover dinosaur
or a variation on the burrito
 me ok
 Jan really?
 me giant burrito is swimming in caves in eastern indonesia
 Jan yummy
big party time
 me kinda slimy i would think
this is the most ridiculous conversation we've ever had
 Jan maybe it wears water proof tortillas
ok, i'm out of it
 me clearly you want a burrito
intertribal: (now she want a photo)
I am ill, but I am eating fried noodles with an egg and vegetables prepared on the yellow glass plates that I used to use to trick myself into an out-of-body experience as a child, and it was only 60 cents and made at the office, and I am coming up with a list of Indonesian nationalists in politics today to interview (fingers crossed). 

Fuck yes.
intertribal: (Default)
1. Money first.  Dreams later.  The Dark God of Capitalism, etc., The Unnameable Slithering Horror, is actually not the worst fate for Southeast Asia after all.
2.  I am exactly like my father, temperament-wise, hence my impatience with incompetence.  Uh-oh.
3.  Cities need effective mass public transportation.  Especially poor ones.
4.  Moderate Islam is in the fight of its life.  I don't want to sound hysterical but the situation is much more dire than I think outsiders know - not in terms of the effects on the amorphous "war on terror" but in terms of the survival of the affected nations/states. 
5.  I need to grow up.  I need to settle down.  I need to stop comparing myself to others and be honest with myself about what I need, not what others think I need. 
6.  Everybody wants to be Korean.
7.  I am actually pretty good at killing mosquitoes.
8.  Typing without an a key is hard.
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