As an exercise:
- Fade in. Daytime, exterior. Distant aerial tracking shot with slow zoom on residential street. Stevie Nicks, “Edge of Seventeen.” Cut to interior of car.
- Daytime, interior. High school hallway between classes. Close handheld shot following _____. The New Pornographers, “Jackie, Dressed in Cobras.”
- Daytime, exterior. Empty bleachers at high school ball field. Face shots, dialogue. LL Cool J, “Going Back to Cali.”
- Evening, interior. Small bedroom. Overhead shot. Sly and the Family Stone, “If You Want Me to Stay.”
- Evening, exterior. Medium three-quarter traveling shot, from behind, of car on residential streets. David Essex, “Rock On.” Cut to interior of car.
- Evening, exterior. Medium overhead shot of car in empty parking lot. Firewater, “When I Burn This Place Down.” Cut to close overhead shot.
- Evening, exterior. Urban sidewalk in nightclub district. Close handheld shot following _____. Grace Jones, “Slave to the Rhythm.”
- Evening, interior. Nightclub. Distant overhead shot of crowded dance floor. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Cut to close handheld shot on dance floor.
- Evening, interior. Club bathroom, fluorescent lights. Medium shot at sink. DJ Shadow, “Stem / Long Stem / Transmission 2.”
- Evening, exterior. Narrow alley with dumpster. Side shot, medium distance, slow zoom. Knoc-Turn’al, “Muzik.” Cut to close handheld shot.
- Dawn, exterior. Urban sidewalk in nightclub district. Distant handheld shot, from front, following _____. Nouvelle Vague, “Guns of Brixton.”
- Daytime, exterior. Medium aerial tracking shot, slow zoom out, on residential street. Funkadelic, “Maggot Brain.” Fade to black and closing credits.
I dropped in to see my attorney, and in the context of our billable discussion I happened to idly mention something I’d seen in the news about Kevin Federline.
She spat her ice cube back into her tumbler of bourbon.
“We don’t speak that name round here,” she said.
End of discussion. The receptionist hastily showed me out, with security behind her.
I should have known better. I’d seen my attorney’s library; her editions of the Pnakotic Manuscripts, the Unaussprechlichen Kulten of von Junzt, The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, Justin Geoffrey, the Livre d’Eibon, Remigius and Della Porta, De Vermis Mysteriis, even a facsimile of fragments from the Philetas translation of the Al-Azif. Living in western Massachusetts, with Miskatonic less than two hours away, I should have known better.
I got on I-90 and pointed my car east.
You’d never expect to find a department of Media Studies at a school like Miskatonic, not when its library’s restricted collection is its chief draw, and especially not in a haunted and gambrel-shrouded tiny New England town like Arkham. But there it is, the newest building on campus, all glass and steel in a weird almost non-Euclidean geometry, not curvy like Gehry but just off in its angles.
“Oh yes,” a TA whispered to me. We were talking, quietly, in her cubicle after I’d found not a single professor with an open office door. “K-Fed’s not the only one. They have titles, you know. And ranks.”
Me, clueless: “Ranks?”
Her, impatient: “Ranks. Principalities, powers, virtues. You know. Dominations, thrones, cherubim, seraphim.”
Me: “No. I don’t know.”
Her: “The ranks of angels. Only these aren’t angels.”
And the TA, whose name I swore I would not print, told me of the eldritch elder gods from the shining rhombus beyond which black gulfs lie, and their avatars.
Bono the Unspeakable. The Sentient Toxic Mist that is Nicole Kidman. Steve Jobs, the monstrous nuclear chaos who dances in the madness outside angled space. Katie Holmes, Bride of He Who Must Not Be Named. The Many-Tentacled Toad-God Jon Stewart. Gretchen Wilson, who is The Key and The Gate. The Mother of Knives, Martha Stewart, who is also The One Who Rends Veils. Bill O’Reilly, The Father of Abominations. The Source of Uncleanliness corporeally embodied as Jenna Bush. Chris Rock, the yellow-scarved High Priest Who Is Not to Be Described. The tenebrous daemon-sultan Kato Kaelin, with his great and terrible Herald and Envoy.
And beyond these, there are names one dares not write.
I must type quickly, now.
Zeugma: Dad, can I get inside the birdfeeder?
Me: Why would you want to do that, sweetie?
Zeugma: So I can give them a surprise!
Me: Hmmm. What if they don’t want a kitty-cat surprise?
Zeugma: (pauses) Pleeeease?
Me: Do you know about the big, big birds?
Zeugma: (uncertain) What big birds?
Me: Those chickadees and sparrows and wrens at the feeder are just babies.
Me: Yes indeed. Their parents are as big as warthogs, and they wait until little kitties climb up inside the birdfeeder, and then they swoop down and pick up the birdfeeder and take the kitties back to their nests.
Zeugma: (nervous) What do they do then?
Me: Why, they feed the kitties to their babies, you wicked girl.
Well, OK. It didn’t happen quite like that. But we were out on the back deck today, after quite a bit of birdfeeder activity, and Zeugma managed to stretch herself out up on her hind legs and get her front paws on the feeder and have a little sniff-sniff around the thing that’s provided her with so much viewing pleasure, and I figured she needed a stern talking-to.
Margaret coined the name for this dance, but she never showed me the moves. So I finally worked out the steps on my own, and I’m glad to share them here for your use, whenever you’re next at the club. As should be evident from the name, it’s a dance best done to slow, angsty, navel-gazing music.
The Dissertation Flail
- Go around in tiny circles.
- Hold your hands to your head like it hurts, thumbs at temples.
- Go around in tiny circles.
- Throw your hands into the air, as if in desperation. Do not, under any circumstances, wave them like you just don’t care.
- Go around in tiny circles.
- Bang your head, old school Metallica-style, but as if against a brick wall.
- Go around in tiny circles.
- Twitch spastically.
And there you have it: eight bars of Terpsichorean glory. Dance, monkey, dance!
My attorney was recently able to obtain, on double super secret background, an advance copy of the new Harry Potter book. After perusing it herself, she passed it along to me, and — as a public service to those of you who can’t wait the few hours until midnight tonight — I offer here a brief plot summary. Spoilers ahead.
After the customary introductory crises at Number 4 Privet Drive, Harry boards the Hogwarts Express, only to find himself on academic probation even before reaching the school when Draco Malfoy overhears him refer to Professor McGonagall as a “milf.” There are the usual worries about Lord Voldemort, and Hagrid reveals that he’s captured one of the animals that serve as the pets of the dementors, a large extradimensional ground squirrel commonly known as the “void marmot” or “nothingpig.” In one of the first sessions of Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures course, it’s discovered that the void marmot — Hagrid has named it “Slimpie” — is a remarkably friendly creature. Ron observes how it rolled over on its back to have its belly scratched, causing Hermione to exclaim: “‘Void marmot rolled’ — that’s an anagram for Tom Marvolo Riddle, you-know-who’s name!” Terror ensues, Professor Dumbledore is summoned, and the entire Quidditch season is cancelled, to the immense relief of future movie audiences everywhere.
These are not the only worries at Hogwarts, however. Cornelius Fudge, having seen a recent abstruse and esoteric journal article by Professor Trelawney drawing on continental magical theory from the Beauxbatons Academy and the Durmstrang Institute, declares that Hogwarts must henceforth follow an English Magic Only policy. Professor Snape comes out with a public statement of support for Professor Trelawney (Rowling notes in a wry aside that of course someone whose wardrobe consists of nothing but black clothing would embrace continental theory), leading to an interdepartmental scandal, and the academic battle lines are drawn: Snape, Trelawney, and Flitwick embracing the continental neoformalist post-occlumency position, and McGonagall, Sprout, and Hooch denouncing them from the well-entrenched pseudostructuralist meta-Goshawkian perspective. Parvati Patil and Colin Creevey, under the advice of Nearly Headless Nick, denounce the entire affair as imperialist hegemony and lead a student strike. Dumbledore, in the tradition of academic administrators, does nothing, and Hogwarts is put into academic receivership until Percy Weasley suggests that converting Hogwarts into a networked distance-learning institution would help quell controversy, increase profits, and expand the school’s global reach. Upon hearing this, Hermione completely loses her temper, and declares she’s quitting wizarding to go to law school.
I won’t completely spoil it, though: you’ll have to find out for yourself how it ends.
Ten songs I refuse to be embarassed to admit that I hugely enjoy, and that I turn up loud every chance I get:
- Michael Jackson, “Billie Jean.”
- Billy Squier, “Everybody Wants You.”
- Britney Spears, “Oops! I Did It Again.”
- Garth Brooks, “Rodeo.”
- Bananarama, “Cruel Summer.”
- Drivin’ and Cryin’, “Fly Me Courageous.”
- Petey Pablo, “Freek-a-Leek (Dirty Version).”
- Bonnie Tyler, “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”
- Big & Rich, “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy).”
- Beastie Boys, “Paul Revere.”
- Reading Paul Krugman’s Peddling Prosperity, I had a couple of insights. One was to revise my fairly uninformed and therefore negative opinion of economist N. Gregory Mankiw: Krugman helped me to see he’s a lot more insightful than some other folks, and I’m politically closer to some of his positions than I initially believed. (Yes, even though he’s a former Chair of the Board of Economic Advisors to Bush fils.) More importantly, though, Krugman helped me to stumble across the idiotically belated realization that information workers constitute a high-value market sector not because their work is inherently better, not because their skills are more in demand or somehow more valuable, but because of the high value of the capital inputs to their production: in other words, because computers-as-capital — as one of the factors of production — are expensive, their work is more expensive. For those who work with computers in education, disciplinary vanity leads us to think that it’s our labor as a factor of production that makes that production expensive/valuable, rather than the computer itself as a factor of production. Yeah, I know: like, duh.
- The abstract geometric tattoo on my right deltoid is almost old enough to vote, so I went and had it re-inked from faded, blurry blue to fresh, sharp black. Once again very happy with it. And I’ve got some new holes in my earlobes.
- Working on my Computers and Writing presentation, which I hope will make up one portion of my dissertation’s Chapter 5. It’s about identity, branding, commercialization, and weblogs, and somehow all my examples keep being about either Paris Hilton or the crew over at Wealth Bondage. I’ll have to see if I can run it by Dr. Chadwallah and company sometime in the next few days.
- Tink’s not been quite as fussy about her luxating patella lately, but now that the weather’s heating up, the girls are both shedding terribly, and Zeugma’s being a total mush in terms of needing affection, so the fur’s drifting all over me and all over the apartment. I brushed them both today, and by the time I was done, I had enough to knit myself a third cat. Like a fur golem.
- Two days ago was the two-year anniversary of my first post here.
I’m finding out that it’s really hard to draw passengers in a car. Working on it, but probably no comics-style Friday Non-Dissertational tonight, despite my efforts. Maybe tomorrow.
Back to the books of Will Eisner and Scott McCloud for guidance. And practice — with the pen, with perspective, with pacing — dammit, practice. (Yes, this is Friday, and so my day to be dissertation-free, to have fun: and what do I do? I find something else to agonize over. Still, I like drawing them panels, even if they’re just practice, even if they never find a place in the narrative arc.)
You’ve figured out, at least, that page 1 was a zoom-in (as evidenced by the black circle in the second panel) from overhead — and so that the action of the next page will take place inside that Mustang.