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Aug. 29th, 2006

katexmachina

Bitch, please...

In a very weak effort to make all you study-abroaders very jealous, let me tell you what you all are missing out on by being out of the good old U.S. of A.

It's a little TV show I like to call "Celebrity Duets." Now, you may be familiar with the setup of a show called "Dancing With the Stars," where C-list celebrities were paired up with professional dancers each week, and would perform for the American public's votes, determining a winner whose prize money would be sent to the charity of their choice, though many of the contestants would probably have been better off using the cash to hire new agents.

ANYWAY, such is the basic premise of "Celebrity Duets," though instead of being paired with dancers, they are paired with musicians (also C-list, mostly), and perform duets.

Now, when I say "celebrity," you may think I am referring to unimpressive soap opera stars or something. No no. Much cooler. Hal Sparks, Lucy Lawless, Alfonso Ribiero, Cheech Marin, Chris Jericho, and a couple of others are paired with a different musician each week. (Patrick, I think you'd really dig this.) Some of the musicians are Peter Frampton, Michael Bolton, Smokey Robinson, LeAnn Womack, Gladys Knight, and others whose names I don't know. It's amazing.

Oh...did I forget to mention the host and judges? Worry not, Wayne Brady fan(s), because he is in fact hosting the show, which means that in every commercial break they advertise his new movie that's basically "You Got Served" but with underground basketball instead of breakdancing. And the judges are Marie Osmond doing her best Mary Murphy impersonation, Little Richard being too gay and too old to sit up straight, and some lame old dude.

Y'all better hope this shit is out on DVD when you get back, because it is B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

aznarworld

(no subject)

Certain people want me to write more. Grr. Here it goes. My life here is slowly settling into a good routine. I daily shove myself into crowded subways and buses and travel all over the city to my classes and my program. My host dad cracks jokes that I never understand and I watch way too much CNN en espanol for my own good. I tried mate, loved it, and realize that it is going to be my best friend in the computer lab at 2 am at CMC. I will probably automatically greet each of you with a kiss when I get back because you kiss everyone here every time you see them! It´s true, people are really good-looking here.

On a long weekend I took a 15-hour bus ride to Mendoza, a city in western Argentina that sits at the base of the Andes. It was a stunning place and I experienced communal living for the first time in my hostel. The commune is still on for me after college Amy Berg!

Now for the coolest story ever. I went to the theater the other night and afterwards to a pizza parlor with my friends and some cool staff members. At the table right next to us sat the mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, who I absolutely adore. I was sitting back to back with him! It was amazing! I have to say that he is even more good-looking in person than in his movies. This is probably the 568th time that Benjamin has heard me lust over him, but I just wanted to make the rest of you jealous too. Ok, ciao for now!

Aug. 27th, 2006

tauch_to_me

(no subject)

This is just a maintenance update:

--Changed the layout a bit. Hope that's okay.

--Cubs are still winning, but only by 1 run now.

--Upgraded our membership so there are ads BUT apparently we have more features (for me) to play with. If I find anything really cool I'll let you guys know.

tauch_to_me

Exhibitionism goes so well with waterfalls.

Cubs @ Braves on TV right now. Too bad it's not at Wrigley--but if it was I might have to turn it off because it would make me miss Chicago too much. Cubs are winning, can you believe it?! Also, I laugh every time they say "Albert Pujols"--it's just funny!

I meet lots of people who know other people--in a bar I randomly ran into a good friend of Jamie's who knew who I was(!). The conversation went like this:

Her: What school do you go to?
Me: Claremont McKenna College.
Her: Oh, do you know Jamie Bowles?
Me: Funny story, actually--we're friends and I was dating her ex from last year!
Her: Oh, you must be Alex!!
Me: [surpise and drunken stupor]

So that was cool. And I met Alex Aznar's group of friends, sans Alex, in a bar one night at random as well. Small world.

Anyways the real point of this post is that I WENT SKINNY DIPPING IN IGUAZU FALLS.

We hiked 3 km to a hidden waterfall and there was no one there so my friend and I decided to take off our clothes and jump in the water. It was fucking cold and we only stayed in for 30 seconds but I can still say that I skinny dipped at the coolest waterfalls in the world. That's all I wanted to let you guys know. Pictures forthcoming. Clothed pictures.

<3 Alex

Aug. 26th, 2006

pwbuckeye

I'm leaving on a jet plane

Let's get one thing straight. Blasting me with 5 jets of air is not making our nation more secure. I could be wrong. Maybe the following exchange just took place at the Pentagon:
Low-level computer guy: Sir, we have a situation. We're following one Patrick A. Weisman, suspected of many criminal thoughts over the past 20 years.
4-Star General: Where is he now?
LLCG: We have him trapped in an interminable security line at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport where he will pick up his guitar, advance six inches, set it back down, and resume staring around aimlessly. He will have to repeat this task 547 times.
4SG: Good. What action are we taking?
LLCG: It's a four step screening process. We're going to check his boarding pass, then his passport, then his boarding pass with his passport before ultimately checking his boarding pass once again.
4SG: Dammit McConnell! That's not enough.
LLCG: Well, sir, he will also have him place his laptop, jacket, wallet, watch, belt, shoes, and dignity into gray bins and walk through a metal detector while trying to avoid having his pants fall down.
4SG: Good, but I think this situation requires the HVAJT.
LLCG: The High Velocity Air Jet Thingy?! My God.
4SG: Do it.
LLCG: Alright sir... he's approaching the HVAJT... he appears to be confused by the fact that it is talking to him... he's hesitantly stepping inside... He's been blasted 5 times!!!... oh, looks like he's just another guy trying to get on a plane. Phew, that was close!
4SG: I'm going to go abuse my power.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is why we're at Terror Level Orange, a terror threat so severe it can only be compared to a Tangerine.

My quibbles aside, the journey so far has been quite pleasant. The ticket collector gave me a tag to put on my guitar so that it could be checked. Checked my ass. I removed said tag and approached the plane. The plane to JFK is actually quite small. So small, in fact, that my guitar would not fit in the overhead compartment. Plan B is always to try to stow it in the coat storage area, but that is non-existant so I went with Plan C: sweet-talk the flight attendant (who is actually decently attractive, a real rarity in this day and age) into letting the guitar have a seat. As I type this, my guitar is sitting next to a delta airlines pilot with it's seat-belt securely fastened and seat and tray table in the upright and locked position. I should have ordered it a drink.

The people on my flight are really cool. There's a precious old couple across from me and said pilot diagonally behind me. Really nice and friendly. Topics of conversation have included Prague, the old guy's sons, Prague, and the old guy's sons. You now know why I am in full headphone mode. The one advantage to being on such a small plane? My seat is both a window and an aisle. Booya.

The pilot has come on to inform me that Manhattan will be visible on the opposite side of the plane (of course) and that we will be landing in 10 minutes. Sauce out.

Aug. 18th, 2006

katexmachina

SNAKES ON A PLANE

Oh my god. SNAKES ON A PLANE was anything I could cave hoped for, and so much more. Some lines were intentionally funny, some weren't, the snakes were disgusting and genuinely frightening...I'm still in awe. I don't think I've ever screamed during a movie before, and after SoaP, I was hoarse from screaming whenever I was scared. The audience was great, cheering at the best parts, and going "Snakes on a tit!" or "Snakes on a cock!" or "Sluts on a plane!" or "Who loves orange soda?" at all the right moments. Also, some guys brought a guitar and started playing and singing "Snakes on a Plane (Bring it)" before the credits.

This is going to become an amazing cult classic, and I can totally picture Rocky Horror style reenactments and callbacks, etc. I absolutely loved it. The best was that it was genuinely frightening! Usually during "scary" or "gross" movies, I'm not that bothered because I'm like, "Well, that's fake blood," but I'm still scared when shit jumps out at me, and that was 99% of the movie. It also has one of the most misleading opening sequences ever. All month, people have been asking me if I thought it was going to be actually good or so bad that it's good, and balked when I said that it would be a great, entertaining, scary movie. And I was right, so there.

Aug. 17th, 2006

amyeberg

(no subject)

IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog entry is very long (as opposed to every other blog entry I've written), so I won't be mad if you don't read all of it. I do think you guys should know that I went to my first gay bar ever last week. It was amazing. It was named Pegs and Pints: A Heady Experience: how many double entendres can you spot? Sketchy Indian men are gross anyway, but sketchy Indian men making out with each other might be worse. Anyway, read on, if you want.

Rajasthan means "the land of princes." It's a desert state in the far far west of India, and it's where Carrie, Mary, Kate, Kavita, Dasha, and I went over our long weekend. Tuesday was Indian Independence Day and Wednesday was Krishna's birthday (Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu, one of the most important Hindu gods), so we bunked Monday class to go traveling to Jaisalmer, in western Rajasthan.
My adventure started on the rickshaw ride to Stephens to meet the others. A car and a motorcycle full of young Indian men pulled up alongside the rickshaw. Apparently they knew each other, because someone in the car passed a video camera to someone on the motorcycle, and the motorcycle rider started videotaping me. Every so often the motorcycle would switch sides, so I guess they got lots of different angles of me trying to disappear. Creepy. But after that I met up with the Stephens kids and we were on our way...kind of. Twenty-four hour time is difficult to read, and when we got to the train station it turned out that our train had left two hours before. After the terrible Greyhound trip I took from Claremont to Corvallis last summer, I vowed to never ride a bus for twenty hours again, but we wanted to get to Jaisalmer as soon as possible. So soon we were riding the Metro to a Rajasthan state government-run bus station, and we got onto a (very nice, air-conditioned) bus headed to Jaipur, in eastern Rajasthan.
It was 3:30 am when we got to Jaipur, which was the perfect time to find out that buses don't leave from there to Jaisalmer every half hour, as we had been told they did. Instead, we dozed off for three hours in the bus station. Then we hopped on a bus to Jodhpur, where we found out that there wasn't going to be a very nice, air-conditioned bus to Jaisalmer for hours. OK, so how bad could the lowest-class buses be?
Half an hour later, we were sitting three to a seat for the five hour trip from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer. The windows were open, which let in a little air and a lot of dust, but only the dust reached my aisle seat. Better that, though, than standing in the aisle, which many people pay to do. We let some mothers and their children borrow some of our seat space. One of the children was apparently mentally retarded and bit Mary. But even that kind of a seat was probably preferable to sitting on the roof of the bus, like twenty-odd people wound up doing. This is pretty common on the less expensive classes of Indian buses.
In spite of my whining, I'm glad we wound up on the cheap bus (although maybe I won't be eager to do it again). I had a couple of conversations in broken Hindi with a tiny girl who shook my hand when she got off the bus; her grandmother offered us chai, which of course was not safe to accept, so we had to be rude. This was a different class of people than we usually see, since they were not only quite poor but also rural. Also, the bus steward had the most amazing ear hair I have ever seen. It grew only on the outer edge of his ear, and it stuck out on either side of his head like little wings. He must have gelled it to get it so stiff. Of all the unusual fashions I've seen in India (and there have been some strange ones), this took the cake.
But then it was Sunday afternoon and we were finally in Jaisalmer. Look at a map of India; Jaisalmer is very close to the border with Pakistan, in the Great Thar Desert. Because of this, it figured in a couple Indo-Pak wars, and now there's a military base in the area. In addition, the windmills that line the horizon power not only the city but also the border. The city itself is, no lie, the most beautiful I have ever seen. The core is a fort built in the 12th century by one of the Rajput rulers, and it looks exactly like a life-size sandcastle. Thousands of people still live in the fort, and we were lucky enough to stay in a hotel inside the fort. I mean, it was lucky for us, but it's not advised by any tour guides, because the fort's infrastructure (especially the ancient water system, Dad) can't support the weight of tourists and inhabitants, so it's slowly crumbling. Tourism, Jaisalmer's main industry, is eating itself alive. But Brinda booked our hotel for us, so it wasn't my fault. Our hotel really was precious, complete with "Johnny" Bim Lama, our Tibetan waiter-janitor-etc who offered to "wife" Mary.
After we woke up on Monday (for sure we slept well since we had real beds and not bus seats), we explored the fort. We took a tour of the palace inside the fort, which was beautiful but crumbling, and then we went to one of the havelis outside of the fort. I think "haveli" might be the origin of our word "hovel," but it really means "mansion." This was closer to a hovel, though; it was probably beautiful when a businessman built it in the 19th century, but now it's falling apart. We also found time to shop; I got harem pants which I am never taking off...they are amazing. Mary can vouch. The shopkeepers go for the hard sell here; some of them offered us "99% discounts," and one told us that God would punish us if we didn't come into his shop. Incidentally, we wore Indian clothes the whole time we were in Jaisalmer. In Delhi we dress more traditionally than some of the LSR girls, but here all the women wear beautiful traditional saris. Rajasthani dress is very distinctive, but wearing generic Indian clothes made us a (very) little less conspicuous. Several shopkeepers asked us if we were Israeli, though; apparently we wear our purses in an Israeli style. In the evening, Kavita and I went to the Desert Culture Center ("A Single Man's Effort") to see a traditional Rajasthani puppet show. After the show, which was hilarious, was over, we tried to sneak out to find everyone else, but the Single Man, a retired Rajasthani schoolteacher with the exact same ear hair as the bus steward, lassoed us on our way out the door. He explained to us how most tourists just want to see monuments, monuments, monuments, but his museum is dedicated to showing how the people of Rajasthan live. He's dedicated his life to collecting cultural artifacts and displaying them in his museums. It was sweet of him to show us around (he even sped up the tour because he sensed we wanted to leave), but it was also sort of sad--he's fighting cultural erosion so hard, but there's not a lot A Single Man's Effort can do to preserve the traditional way of life.
We left Tuesday afternoon for a camel safari! It was maybe the best thing ever. Some of the hotel workers drove us in Jeeps to a desert village where our camels were waiting. On the way, we stopped in another village to look around. The children all crowded around us, but then they almost immediately started asking for things. They clowned around with our sunglasses, which was precious until Kavita's got stolen. It was a shame--they were so adorable, but then they got fierce if you didn't give them handouts. Our guide called them gypsies; apparently Indian gypsies have the same reputation for thievery as European Gypsies used to have. Anyway, we left the village pretty quickly after that and boarded our camels. I rode a camel in Jordan, but it was when I was four, so this was exciting. And high--it turns out camels are really, really tall and wide. And amazing. We rode for a while, then stopped to run down a few sand dunes, then rode some more. That night, the camel drivers made us dinner, and then they rolled out blankets (which smelled like camel, but so did we), and we slept under the clouds. Rajasthan gets an average of two inches of rain per year, and for a couple of hours I thought we'd get all two inches in the one night, but then the weather settled for just lightning-ing. Except for the occasional dung beetle crawling down my shirt in the night, it was very pleasant. Also, some Spaniards staying at the hotel came on the safari, and I got to practice my Spanish with them! I remembered more than I thought I did, but I wish I could say the same for Hindi...
When we woke up on Wednesday morning, the camel drivers cooked us breakfast, and then we got into the Jeeps to drive back to Jaisalmer. In my heart I was disappointed to not get to ride the camels back, but in my rear I was happy. Camels make for a bumpy ride. Back in Jaisalmer, we went to some ornately carved Jain temples and an unremarkable Hindu temple (happy birthday, Krishna). Jainism, a tiny religion, is related closely to Buddhism and Hinduism, but its most remarkable aspect is its emphasis on not harming any living thing. All Jains are vegetarians, and some of them wear masks to avoid breathing in insects. Ultra-orthodox Jains don't eat onions or garlic, either because they don't want to destroy the root of life or because digging up the plant might harm insect life; I've heard both explanations. After those temples (and whoops, some more shopping), we got on our train back home. We had a roomy compartment to ourselves, which we realized would become a whole lot less roomy once we folded the seat back up to make the middle tier of a three-tiered sleeping compartment. Roominess wasn't in the cards at all, though, because a couple villages after we boarded our train, a large extended family of Rajasthani peasants got on; I guess trains have standing-room-only tickets too. Of course we shared our seats with some of the women, but that turned out to be just about the best choice ever. Kavita (who is half-Indian and so knows more Hindi than the rest of us put together) started a conversation with one of the women, and after about five minutes she was inviting us to her home to drink milk straight from the udder. After that she appointed herself our "Rajasthani mom." She spoke only Rajasthani, which is about half similar to Hindi, but it was enough so that Kavita could get the gist of what she was saying. Also, she and her sister? had their names tattooed on their arms, and our best guess is that that way they know how to write them. Then they asked us to sing some American songs, and it took forever for us to think of a couple to sing, poorly. They returned the favor with Rajasthani village songs, which were amazing. After the women in our compartment sang, the compartment next door (full of children and teenagers) sang a couple of songs, including one in honor of Krishna's birthday. Whenever they were in danger of leaving a verse out or letting the song die, a man sitting in the compartment would pick the song up and keep them going. Sometimes this man would even start dancing and clapping in his seat. Really, it was an incredible show of hospitality. Our Rajasthani mom asked for one of our phone numbers before she left the train at Jodhpur, and she promised to call us if she is ever in Delhi. I don't know if she will be, but she was amazing.
After Jodhpur, we were alone in our compartment, but it was time for sleep. I never would have guessed I could get a couple of real REM cycles in on a bench, but after fighting dung beetles all of the night before, I was tired enough to sleep anywhere. Then when I woke up this morning there were many sweaty, dirty (our compartment wasn't air-conditioned, so half of the Great Thar Desert came in through our open windows), crowded (the Jaisalmer "Express" turns into a commuter train when it hits Delhi, it turns out) hours before we landed at the Delhi station. But now we're back to the big city, after the best trip I've had on this trip so far. We're going back to Rajasthan in November for the Pushkar camel fair, so I haven't seen the last of the camels or the people.

Aug. 16th, 2006

katexmachina

9 to tha 09

Well, the end of summer has been very hectic for me. I had to say goodbye to dear Colin, who sadly is missing out on tonight's season finale of "So You Think You Can Dance?" because he's too busy writing poetry in his journal about educational chastity in Ecuador, but all in all I enjoyed my summer in the senior apartments.

This past weekend I moved into my room in Berger, which is actually quite nice. Having a single for the first time is a little strange, but enjoyable, as it feels like a little haven. The moving weekend capped off the end of a stressful week of me breaking up with Adam, realizing the terrible mistake I made, and saying, "Yes, I'm sorry" and all that when he pleaded once more for us to try again. I will never be able to tell what's really best for me until after I screw up a million times...

Another decision I'd been yo-yoing about was whether or not I should study abroad in the Spring semester. I thought long and hard (haw haw - long, hard) about it, and decided that if I did, I'd spend it in Prague, but I'm pretty sure that I've now decided not to. Because studying abroad for me would not be for education, or for getting the international experience, but getting away from my parents for the first time. I feel that, there are so many things that I would like to do on-campus the semester that you guys all get back, that I can fulfill my desire for independence by taking an internship in NYC next summer, and pursuing something like a Fulbright or the like after graduation.

Also, I'm thinking about designing my own major. The reason being that if I get all the classes I want for the next two semesters, I'll have completed my Literature and Film Studies majors before senior year. That would give me enough room to add on a Religious Studies dual major, but Elizabeth Morgan said that we can't do triple majors at CMC. So, I think I'll make one up that will be like a Literature, Film, and Religious Studies major. Or something.

I've changed my schedule for next semester so that I'll definitely spread myself too thin. Five classes (British Writers I, Language of Film, Biblical Traces in Hollywood Film, Introduction to Religious Thought, Leadership in Literature and Film), four jobs (4 hours a week at the Office of Public Affairs and Communications with Kevin Vance, 6.5 hours a week at Phonenite, writing for both the ASCMC Forum and the Claremont Independent), ballet off-campus once a week, and one class which has a weekly movie screening at night! Fun! If worse comes to worse, I can always sacrifice the job at PA&C, or ballet, but we'll see if I can hack it...

I hope that you all have safe travels, and that you greatly enjoy and are enriched by your semester abroad. I hope that by 2007, we are all changed.

P.S. I am going to the earliest showing of SNAKES ON A PLANE tomorrow! SWEET!

Aug. 12th, 2006

pwbuckeye

My address

Hello Everybody!

After a weekend in Chicago and a couple of days completing my business accounting in Nashville, I finally returned to Cincinnati Wenesday night. Only a few of my friends are here, but it's still good to see everyone. It's sort of tough making the transition between working 80 hours/week and working 0 hours/week. I drank for the first time in 3 months last night and the results were predictable. Apparently, after 10 beers, the porcelain gods demanded a sacrifice. When we return to CMC, we will have to add F*** the Dealer to our repertoire of drinking games.

Speaking of drinking games, Brad and I will be on the same flight from JFK to Prague in 12 days!

Anyway, the purpose of this post was to share with you all my address in Prague. It is as follows:

Patrick Weisman Fall 06
Jerome House (Dum Jeronyma Prazskeho)
V Jircharich 13
110 00, Praha 1
Czech Republic

I will leave you all with these words of wisdom, courtesy of Chamillionaire:

They see me rollin'
They hatin'
Patrolin' and tryna catch me ridin' dirty
Tryna catch me ridin' dirty
Tryna catch me ridin' dirty
Tryna catch me ridin' dirty
Tryna catch me ridin' dirty

Aug. 8th, 2006

amyeberg

(no subject)

Not much has been going on here this week, but there are enough activities to keep us busy that I'm not usually bored. Yesterday we went to the American Center in Connaught Place to listen to Richard Boucher, the American Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia. Students (undergrad and grad) from some of Delhi's top universities were invited. Boucher stood in front o f a banner with the Indian and American flags; it kind of reminded me of the "Mission Accomplished" banner. The meeting turned out to be in town-hall format, so students asked Boucher questions and he tried to answer them. There were a lot of questions about the India-America nuclear deal. People were concerned about what it would do for Indo-Pak relations and why America tends to encourage disarmament of other nations when it still has nukes, things like that. There were also a couple of stingers about Iraq. I was surprised to see how many of the students seemed to be against (or at least suspicious of) nuclear power, since the newspapers here have been excited about the nuclear deal. Boucher was quite the diplomat--very smooth, but not a lot of substance--and there are certainly some US policy decisions that are easier to explain than others. It was a very interesting event--there weren't as many of the "let me tell you my whole life story and I don't actually really have a question" questions that happen at so many Ath dinners.
Besides that, things are basically the same. Our rickshaw skills are getting better and better as we learn our way around the city, but it's still emotionally draining to ignore the beggars who come up to the rickshaw at every stoplight and pat your knee asking for money. A lot of them are women with small babies. I can't understand most of what they say, but they do say the word "chapatti" (bread) a lot. Yesterday one of the babies had some foul skin disease around his ear. We all know the reasons that giving money to beggars doesn't actually help them, but it doesn't make it any easier to see them.
On another note, I keep forgetting to mention one thing I didn't expect about India--the swastikas. People post them on businesses, in rickshaws, on clothing, in temples, etc. In India, the swastika is a religious good luck symbol; I think I read in a Lonely Planet that it has something to do with the sun. These swastikas are backwards from the ones we in the West are familiar with, they're usually red, and they have four dots in between the four hooks, but it's still a little jarring to see them everywhere. In Rishikesh, we went to a German bakery for lunch, and there were (Indian) swastikas decorating the menu. That was weird.
Anyway, we don't have school tomorrow, so I'm going to head up to St. Stephens tonight to visit the kids there. Tomorrow is Raksha Bandan, when sisters tie bracelets to their brothers' wrists in exchange for protection. Monday was a strike to protest unfair actions taken by the principal at another Delhi University college, so we haven't been having a lot of school lately. It's nice, but since our Indian Government and Politics teacher didn't grade Nitya's, Lea's, and my first exams (they were so bad, she didn't bother, but it's ok, since it was on material the girls learned last year), I should probably catch up on some of the reading. I think we'll have an adventure tomorrow instead, though, since we haven't really seen many of the sights in Delhi.

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