Wednesday, May 31, 2006

monco

someone else should post too - last night in providence

this is turning into "nathan is sad about graduating blog." it's more or less the truth though.

tonight is my last night in providence. empty room, sleeping bag, smashing to attend to in the morning. yes, yes, not my last night in providence since i'll be back this summer, but i won't really be "back" in any meaningful way, just as i've been "here" for four years despite months in new york, marblehead, and glasgow.

i've said goodbye to too many people, but not nearly enough, i don't like it - both the goodbyes and the quantities. i made a mix cd of nostalgia-inducing songs to listen to on the drive from providence tomorrow. mostly songs that are tied to periods in the past year. this has been a significant year. i know i often claim that it's hard to believe such-and-such time has passed since this-or-that, but imagine that sentiment multiplied many times over.
disbelief, wonder, regret, nostalgia, satisfaction, gratitude, resentment.

fuck this. delillo had it almost right: all actions lead deathward.

much to look forward to, much to look back on.


thanks guys

Monday, May 29, 2006

monco

i make lists

while cleaning/packing just now, i found a notebook that i bought in the summer of 2002. all that's in it is a packing list for my freshman year.

we marched around for a while yesterday, sat in the hot sun, and were the subject of many photos. that means we're done with college. this whole thing is slowly developing, the realization of departure that everyone else goes through. it's nothing new and nothing avoidable. as good as these years (this past year in particular) have been, time is an unstoppable bitch - the only thing to do is give up and see what happens.

why the hell did i bring this list to providence this year? setting my own nostalgia trap.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

monco

oh crap

we're alumni. fuck.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

monco

we tried to look serious




it's starting to hit me. baccalaureate was today

Monday, May 22, 2006

ch

Last days of the Grouse.


Slugger the Seadog
Originally uploaded by cdhu.
I've just returned from an (apparently unannounced) trip to Maine with Lisa, where, among other things, we saw the Portland Seadogs beat the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (sadly, I was wrong in thinking that they were called the River Cats--all that hilarious symmetry ruined!). I've now seen three levels of the Red Sox organization in the past year--I think I'll try to see the Lowell Spinners this summer, when I'm not busy visiting Providence or stalking Jameson in Killingworth, Connecticut.

Also, I've finished the first book on my summer reading list, Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep. A certain someone, as usual, has something fun to say about it:

So, by a dialectical sleight-of-hand, Chandler formally mobilized an "entertainment" genre to distract us in a very special sense: not from the real life of private and public worries in general, but very precisely from our own defense mechanisms against that reality. The excitement of the mystery-story plot is, then, a blind, fixing our attention on its own ostensible but in reality quite trivial puzzles and suspense in such a way that the intolerable space of Southern California can enter the eye laterally, with its intensity undiminished.

Friday, May 19, 2006

He Hate Me

What if Jack Bauer played in the XFL?

Today, at eight minutes pass noon,  I sent in my self-assessment for TA22 and officially finished the schoolwork that comprised my college career.  I have not slept in nearly 24 hours and have not gotten a full night (or day) sleep in about a week so I'll do my long nostalgiac post later.  For now I leave you with the conclusion from my thesis on Fear Factor: Masculinity, Power, and Televised Reality.  I think you'll agree that it's very me:

Arguments about the role of the public, the media, and patriarchal/national authority pervaded the events of 2001. In January, George W. Bush was inaugurated as the 43rd President of the United States under an unclear mandate. In February, the World Wrestling Federation and NBC joined forces to launch a professional football league targeted toward young males called the XFL. In April, the league folded. In June, as I’ve detailed, NBC premiered the extreme reality show Fear Factor to ratings success and critical disgust. In September, the events of 9/11 were broadcast live to the American audience. In November, Fox premiered the action-drama 24 about a counter-terrorist agent who risks his life to save his wife, daughter, and country.

Throughout these cases, there are a number of similar themes of engagement with hegemonic masculinity, phallic power, and television “liveness” and “reality.” These diverse ideas are all connected by desires and fears necessitated by the construction, breakdown, and re-stabilization of ideological discourses. For instance, these cases all deal with (or were at least narrativized as dealing with) subjects’ encounters with the identity of hegemonic masculinity. Fear Factor’s engagement with these issues has already been thoroughly argued but this discourse is present throughout all of the examples. Certainly the Presidency of the United States is viewed as a position of power and occupational achievement consummate with hegemonic masculinity. In addition, though, the XFL’s creation (and demise) was contingent on (or, again, has at least been portrayed as contingent on) the aspirations of NBC sports chairman Dick Ebersol and World Wrestling Federation (WWF) chairman Vince McMahon to establish themselves as successful and powerful within the television industry. The events (or, again, perhaps just the popular understanding of events) of 9/11 and the storyline of 24 are both about powerful, though subordinate men (Osama bin Laden and Victor Drazen, respectively) using terrorism to proclaim power over, or at least attack the power base of, the arguable international hegemony of the United States. In both cases the President (Bush and soon-to-be President Palmer, respectively) acts as the patriarchal leader who exhibits strength through the (phallic power) challenge.

The same issues of subordinate and dominant masculinities, power as control, and resistance of feminization as a phallic power challenge arise in all these cases. What may be most interesting is that the same rules seem to apply whether discussing “real” events like September 11 (an event so “real” that many describe it as surreal or paradoxically unreal), or the “fictional” events of 24 (which, airing so soon after 9/11, had to edit its premiere episode because of a scene with an exploding airplane that was deemed too “real” for viewers). Obviously, the boundary between real and fake, especially in these cases, is exceedingly unstable. As discussed at length, Fear Factor’s position in the “reality television” genre places it directly on that border of real and unreal. In the instance of George W. Bush’s ascension to power in 2001, even today, his mandate as President remains contested over the matter of whether he “really” won the 2000 election or not.

Perhaps most guilty of traversing unsuccessfully between reality and fiction was the XFL (a transgression that, arguably, was the primary factor in its quick collapse). Though the XFL was a “real” sports league where the actual games were unscripted, a variety of elements within and around the actual broadcast of the game encompassed varying levels of unreality. The XFL’s partial ownership by the WWF, use of WWF wrestlers and announcers, as well as cross-promotion between the two brands established a dubious relationship between the new sports league and the “fake sport” of professional wrestling. Some interviews were clearly scripted (usually ending with puns or punch lines), or “faked,” depending on how one reads it, by XFL writers. Perhaps most infamous for its injection of fantasy in reality, though, the league, facing steeply declining ratings, promised viewers that they would see inside the cheerleaders locker room during halftime of the week’s nationally-televised game. After hyping the stunt throughout the game[1], the cameraman who supposedly would be the one entering the locker room, in a clearly scripted moment, was knocked unconscious by an opening door. Viewers were then shown a dream sequence of his apparent cheerleader fantasies.

The league was not just criticized for being too fake but also for being too real. For example, before the cheerleader stunt, the XFL broadcasted the live locker rooms of the competing teams during halftime. Without the contextualization necessary for viewers to understand what they were seeing or regularly scheduled spectacular moments to hold viewers attention, the halftime segments hemorrhaged viewers. It seems, then, that the relative reality or unreality of the XFL was less important in determining its commercial success than its compliance with codes of televisual reality.
For the most part, televisual reality smoothes over the contradictions and false binaries of reality and fiction through genre differentiation and the logic of the super-narrator. This allows the television industry to further its own marketing discourses of “liveness” and co-presence with our reality and provides viewers with the opportunity to act as both outside spectator of, and active participant in the televisual reality. In the case of the 2000 election, this would mean occupying the position of the interested observer of the controversy as well as active citizen/voter who is directly affected by the outcome. In the context of series like the XFL on NBC, Fear Factor, and 24, as an exterior watcher, viewers can simply enjoy the program while as a member of the (supposed) television family/democracy, they can choose to support or reject the show through their viewing options and even campaign for or against the show. In the case of 9/11, most of the country experienced the attacks both as a television viewer and as connected to the tragedy as a family member, fellow citizen, or merely fellow human being of those dying.

It is clear that, in the case all of the events mentioned, the same issues of televisual reality’s power to control our reality continue to re-surface. I contend that all of these phallic power challenges, whether they be for political, economic, social, or narrative power serve to stabilize dominant discourses (such as those regarding particular gendered notions of power) and affirm the fundamental power of televisual reality to control and (re)present our reality. Television tends to work on behalf of dominant discourses simply because those frameworks will be the most ideologically satisfying for the greatest number of possible viewers. Commercial television’s first imperative, after all, is the delivery of consumers to advertisers.

In the end, television broadcasts all of the phallic power challenges within its programs under television’s own meta-discourse—TV is actually the one with the ultimate phallic power to control our realities and knowledges. That is, television claims the power to understand, contextualize, and present our reality through its reality. Potential breakdowns in television’s ability to contain and represent, like the XFL, are quarantined as flaws within the individual program and quickly removed. Through this logic, then 9/11 would have to have been one of TV’s greatest phallic power challenges and successes. Faced with a difficult challenge, television was able to contain and narrativize the attack and proved its proclaimed worth and ability.

The selection of Fear Factor for examination may have originally appeared to be a frivolous topic given its cultural status but clearly the program points to a plethora of important societal issues. The show surely rests on problematic discourses of gender, power, and television’s access to reality. At the end of the day, however, it does provide at least one important public service (or hazard, depending on your opinion). Fear Factor reassures television viewers that in our post-9/11 world of terror threats, exaggerated claims of imminent danger from foreign powers, and 24-hour cable news alerts on possible dangers, at least within its section of the televisual world, fear really is just a textual device.


[1] The skits leading up to the cheerleader halftime-show stunt, itself, were a major transgression of the boundary between real and fake as the real WWF chairman and co-owner of the XFL, Vince McMahon acted as his “fake” character from the WWF. The line between the “real” person and the “fake” character of Vince McMahon has been notoriously difficult to draw. For instance, during a March 2001 interview about the XFL with Bob Costas, McMahon threatened and attempted to intimidate Costas in a move that was not clearly attributable to either McMahon the character or the person. McMahon, the character, is the immoral, egomaniacal chairman of the WWF—a role that originated because that is precisely who many perceived him to be in “real life.” Further complicating the lines between “real” and “fake,” the idea for the “fake” character of Mr. McMahon developed from a “real” incident in 1997 during a scripted (i.e. “fake”) wrestling match where McMahon “really” deceived a wrestler into losing his (diegetically real) title.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

monco

i do this a lot

this is nothing if not a nostalgic time.

today it hit me that exactly a year ago i had my final portfolio review at the glasgow school of art. i know that it will be all too soon before i'll find myself saying, "shit, it has been exactly a year since i graduated."

Friday, May 12, 2006

ch

Demise of the hippie rapist?

Loyal Grouse readers will recall that our house was burglarized in late January, and perhaps even that we referred to the burglar--based on a story from our esteemed city councilman--as the "hippie rapist." Well, the Providence Police apprehended a serial East Side burglar yesterday, and I think he may be our guy. In fact, I'm pretty sure of it. However, the ProJo's description makes it seem unlikely that he's one and the same as the hippie from David's story.
---
Unlike Nathan, I'm not entirely done yet, but all I have left is a paper about Fredric Jameson's uses of Utopia. It's nice to be ending things on a Jamesonian note.
---
Also, I want to direct our readers to the hottest new blog on the sphere.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

monco

done, dammit, done...

i'm sorry chris, but I'M FUCKING DONE WITH COLLEGE

(read chris' post below)
ch

Patches.

Josh's legitimate concerns about the real import of this issue notwithstanding, I was glad to read this in the ProJo today. Usually I think Bob Kerr is a little cheesy, but it's nice to hear someone else suggest that one can be sympathetic to Kennedy and still think that it'd be better if he chose not to run again--as well as implying that he never really deserved to be elected six times in the first place.

Friday, May 05, 2006

He Hate Me

With Lebron, All Things Are Possible

Dear State of Ohio,

LeBronYou have been the site of some of my greatest joys and deepest traumas. Above all else, though, you are my one true home. I write with great respect to ask that we change out state motto from "With God, All Things Are Possible" to "With LeBron All Things Are Possible." I make this request for several reasons.
1. Though some may put Jesus at the top of their list, anyone that can hit 2 game-winning shots in the same playoff series gets my vote for "most important."

2. Jesus died on the cross and supposedly got resurrected.  I've seen, with my own 2 eyes, the Cavs seem to die a slow painful death only to see the Lord save the righteous with a lay-up with 0.9 seconds left in OT.

3. Jesus has a shitload of disciples, LeBron has a guy named Flip, a Brazilian with big hair, and a center named Zydrunas.

4. LeBron - 45 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 miracles in 46 minutes; Jesus - whatever.

Thank you for consideration,
BE

P.S. Give my congrats to Charlie Wilson (D-OH-6th district) for getting over 40,000 write-in votes to get the Democratic nomination in his House Race.  Good work for someone who couldn't manage to get the 50 signatures he needed to get on the ballot in time.  Alright, seriously, no more politics from here on out.

UPDATE: 5/4: P.P.S. Our government situation may be bad in Ohio (what with all the Jim Traficant's, Bob Ney's, Jean Schmidt's, and Bob Taft's) but at least we don't have congressmen drunk driving and crashing into barriers:

From the AP and ProJo:
Rep. Patrick Kennedy [that's our rep. BTW]
has confirmed that he drove his car into a street-side barrier two blocks from the Capitol building early this morning.

The Rhode Island Democrat denied that alcohol played a factor in the 2:45 a.m. incident. He was not hurt...

A union official within the Capitol Police, Gregrey H. Baird, has complained to his superiors that some police officers who had responded to the incident were barred from giving Kennedy a field sobriety test, even though he was allegedly staggering.

In a letter to acting Police Chief Christopher McGaffin, Baird said that Kennedy nearly crashed into a police cruiser before the crash. Kennedy said he was late for a vote... The last vote of the night had occurred almost six hours earlier.
I always got a bad vibe from baby Huey. Y'know, sometimes I wonder if I'm supporting the wrong team. OK, seriously, no more politics starting now.

UPDATE (5/5): Kennedy just had a live press conference covered by all the cable news channels.  He admits to a drug problem and that he doesn't even remember the crash.  He's checking into rehab but plans to continue to serving the good people of Rhode Island.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

He Hate Me

Bush gets served by Colbert

I have a 15-page paper due in in less than 9 hours but whatever.

In my last post I vowed to give up politics for the time being. Oh well. Besides my PS paper on "America Votes", my TA22 speech on why a dictator would be better than Bush, and my search for a job in DC, I stumbled across this: "Colbert rips Bush to his face."

Every year, the White House holds the Correspondents Dinner where the President pokes fun at himself and a comedian lightly roasts him.  This year, Stephen Colbert was brought in to do the roasting and he did just that.  I won't say anything more about it, check it out for yourself and then read some of the internet reaction (just Google News "colbert"):







BTW, game 5 of the Cavs-Wizards series (tied 2-2, first to 4 wins) is tonight at 8:30 on TNT.  As the game is in Cleveland I feel it appropriate to remark,
WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE!

Monday, May 01, 2006

monco
dear nathan,

do not blog after a certain number of drinks. if you can't type, you should really just cut your losses and call it a night.

-nathan