kaigou: this is the captain. we may experience turbulence and then explode. (3 experience turbulence)
Spent the last three weeks either frozen in overwhelmed stress, or churning mentally through everything on the to-do list (and only managing to get motivated to tackle in the last-minute panic of being down to the wire), thanks to various relatives visiting for graduation week. Somehow I managed to make it through almost five days of parent & step-parent visiting without throttling anyone, or regressing into a petulant sixteen-year-old arguing with my father. Except for the last little bit of Saturday evening, when I was already exhausted from the morning at graduation followed by an afternoon and evening of a stream of guests for an open house, and I'm still rather pissed at my dad, but haven't decided what to do about it. Eh, well. Now I sit here, feeling like I should be going go-go-go in frantic mode, yet... there's no longer any reason to be frantic.

Meanwhile, got a copy of Gender Pluralism: Southeast Asia Since Early Modern Times. (Also got The Signore: Shogun of the Warring States which is a really misleading sub-title, since Nobunaga was never shogun, but otherwise it's a great book, except it caught the MiL's eye and she asked to borrow it to have something to read on the plane. Figures.) Anyway, Gender Pluralism is a fascinating text. Well-written, nicely foot-noted but not overwhelmingly so, balanced between interpreting folklore/legend (ie Siva and other archetypal role-model gods) and contemporary eye-witness reports of the various cultures. Especially, doesn't conflate "this is acceptable, even expected, for gods" (ie intersexuality or bisexuality) with "this is therefore just fine for humans" since the opposite is too often true. All in all, fascinating text on systems of gender understandings that aren't dominated by the West's man vs woman premise.

Also, between following only three series this season (Mouretsu Pirates, Sakamitchi no Appollon, and Eureka Seven Ao), also been mainlining... wuxia. That's right, wuxia. I've come to the conclusion that wuxia is China's analogue to epic fantasy in the Western world, but with more fart jokes. Analogue as in: highly romanticized and somewhat sanitized take on ancient times, with magic and the usual extra heapings of chivalry and 'odd band of merry fellows'. Except that wuxia's band of merry fellows seems to be more likely to include fellow-ettes, who do their own fighting, thank you.

Various reviews: Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei, Chinese Paladin 3, and The Young Warriors. )

Currently downloading Dan Ren Wu (Big Shot), because I haven't seen anything with Nicolas Tse, and I figure the romantic storyline should be a nice change after Young Warriors (hedging my bets that the series will have some rocks fall, since it is the Yang Clan and they're kind of known for the rocks falling part). Also sitting around waiting for someone to show up and seed The Holy Pearl... which apparently is a Chinese live-action retelling/adaptation of -- I am so not making this up -- Inuyasha. Noticeably, Kagome (now Ding Yao) is not a school girl, but an archaeologist's daughter in her mid-twenties; if nothing else, wuxia doesn't seem to fetishize the prepubescent/adolescent female half so much as K-dramas and J-dramas. The whole bit about the sacred jewel has been Chinese-ified into a pearl leftover from when Nuwa created the world, and Wen Tian (the Inuyasha role) is now a human-dragon hybrid.

Me: I'd never heard anything about a live-action television adaptation of Inuyasha, but then, as soon as you have a jewel in pieces and a half-demon male protagonist, people always start crying that it's Inuyasha.

CP: It's not like Takahashi invented the idea of a sacred broken jewel.

Me: Or the idea of half-demons. But we'll see... if I can just get a seed. I'm just not convinced it's really based on Inuyasha. I mean, it's only thirty-two episodes! You can't possibly adapt Inuyasha in only thirty-two episodes.

CP: Unless each episode is ten hours long.

Also, my copy of The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China just arrived. Yay!

ETA2: I could've just cut to the chase and linked to [personal profile] dangermousie's list of things learned from wuxia. I'd add more, but then I realized some things are universal -- from wuxia to romcoms -- like when one character starts the story insisting on undying hatred. If the object of hatred is same-sex, then the story ends with forgiveness (even if mid-rock-falling). If the object of hatred is opposite sex, Houston, we have OTP.
kaigou: when in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand. (3 when in doubt)
Sitting in my mother's living room, late Saturday night after getting back from 12 hours of wedding decoration, wedding, reception, and breakdown.

Me: After all this wedding hoopla crap, if my sister's marriage doesn't even last a year, I swear I'm going to smack her.

CP: Sorry, but you misspelled "shoot". Glad to help.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
Still waiting to hear from my dad about his mother's chocolate cake recipe (and his rhubarb pie recipe, just because it sounds bizarre but it's best evidence to cite of making pie from anything) -- but here's my Mom's (and now also my) favorite bread recipe for when guests come to visit. I could've sworn I'd posted this before, but apparently not. Bread recipe behind the cut... )

This is not a bread that's ever kept well when I've made it, simply because there are always two-legged rats willing and able to devour the bread as soon as it slides out of the baking pans. This is also why I always make a double-batch, which gets me three large loaves, two medium loaves, and two small loaves: that's the only way to make sure there'll be some bread leftover for me.
kaigou: you live and learn. at any rate, you live. - doug adams (2 live and learn)
[belated realization: this is not a question I'd ask if I met you outside the South and we weren't at my home. This is a question asked by a host of a guest, and I honestly cannot recall ever seeing it the other way around (not counting the host's concurrence after a guest completes the response). As "home" counts as a kind of "Southern turf" regardless of geographic location, that might be why I can recall asking guest-Northerners visiting my home when I lived in RI... but even in the South, it's not a question I'd ask as a guest. It's certainly not something I'd ever ask, or have ever asked, just to make conversation. When I say it's part of the formalities, I'm using "formality" intentionally. Just FYI.]

This is riffing off the previous post re the US Deep South, in that it occurred to me to write something out thanks to [personal profile] taithe's comment -- but it's something I've bandied about mentally, many a time, over the past few years. (This is not to say this kind of question or its message isn't important in other geographic/sociocultural regions. I'm sure it is, although maybe asked/approached differently.) Your Southern mileage may vary, but upon meeting new people (especially in a social/casual situation), this is a question I've seen asked many times in my life, have been asked many times, and have found myself asking many times.

Where's your family from?

Now, I've also read plenty about how people -- whether recent or farther-back immigrants -- who do not look some generic form of "white" or "black" (which both tend to be classed as, "been here awhile") -- will get asked (usually by white USians), "where are you from? Pittsburgh? No, where are you really from?"

This is an annoying, and patronizing, question. Absolutely! So I figured maybe it's time I explained that when a Southerner asks you the question above -- where's your family from? -- that this is NOT the same question. In fact, if the purpose of "where are you from?" is to to prove (if unconsciously) that you are not a 'real' American, the purpose of the Southern version is quite different. It's for you to demonstrate that your family matters to you.

How not to answer, how to answer, and why it matters to me. )
kaigou: I'm going with head-explodey on this one. (3 head-explodey)
In Korean (hangul, not romancized): how would you say, "feed me"? The imperative form that a five-year-old might use to demand from parents would be perfect, if the verb form is required.

In Swedish: how would you say, "says the machine" where "says" is something like the English "cried" (not as in tears, but in exhortation or command). Alternate verbs: "demanded" or "insisted"... you probably get the idea.

The story: our dryer died, and my father & stepmother are gifting us with a new one. I had originally looked at Frigidaires, Kenmores, and GEs, but got sidetracked into looking at LGs and was rather impressed with the quality for the money. When I called my father back to let him know the various models, and mentioned that I'd started considering LGs as well, Dad's reply?

"Ah, LGs are good machines. I've spoken with the company's president."

I really, really need to stop being astonished by how much my father gets around. Heads of state, heads of chaebols. Righto! Just another day on the range, to be invited to a conference call with the freaking president of LG to discuss washing machines. Honestly. Right up there with being invited to have an informal sit-down dinner with the King of Sweden.

Hence the combination of languages in the phrase. Will post pictures when done. TIA!
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (2 real size)
Trying to Write the Southern Accent
I believe the number of Southerners with writeable accents is declining. Writing Southernese is as much about the arrangement of words and word choice as it is the sound. You don't have to underscore a character's southern-ness by dropping g's and throwing in a bunch of Populist apostrophes after n's--as in, I'm fixin' to go ridin' with Billy Bob. If the character hasn't earned it, or you aren't masterful, the phonetic hand-holding tortures readers--the economic use of y'all or original word arrangement (like a double modal) will do in most cases.

Reminds me of the fact that most of the Georgia side of my family would use the expression "losing my religion," which became suddenly very popular due to some no-name Georgia band. *cough* Except that when that song came out, I was living in New England, and it seemed no one had the least clue was the phrase meant; they seemed to take the song as some kind of atheist anthem or something.

The phrase actually means "hopping mad," of a level so great you've started cussing. Possibly a blue streak of cussing, even. Though I can't recall any of my father's family ever actually losing their religion; they were more like to say, "I was near to losing my religion," meaning it was only through supreme force of will that they refrained from saying exactly what was on their mind, with colorful extras.

(It doesn't always mean angry, though. My grandfather often came near to losing his religion anytime he slammed his thumb in the workshop. Extreme pain that makes you want to yell out loud suffices, in other words.)
kaigou: Zoë from Firefly (2 bang)
I don't know who originally said it, but the current furor in USian politics over abortion, rape, and federal assistance reminds me of some wise words my mother once told me, when I was still too young to understand the depths of it all:

"If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament."
kaigou: I am zen. I am BUDDHA. I am totally chill, y'all. (2 totally chill)
This is for [personal profile] taithe's amusement, but the rest of you are welcome to join in. Just imagine that the older half of the conversation is speaking in a coastal Mississippi accent. If you're not sure what that is, think something close to Holly Hunter's (Georgia) accent, but slower, and farther back in the throat. It's really a rather gentle accent, and for all that we fuss about non-Southerners thinking Southern accent means stupid, the Delta/coastal accent has definite connotations of elegance, if a friendly kind.

Anyway, in talking of the Civil War and Reconstruction, I was reminded of one of the few family stories that... well, it remains a mystery. My grandmother was, as befit many Southern women of her era, big into genealogy. Come to think of it, it's still a big thing, but we've got that whole thing about family, anyway. I grew up with stories of various people in the family, like the time she told me I had a however-many-greats-aunt who was -- drumroll, please -- Abraham Lincoln's stepmother.

Me, at tender age of ten: wasn't the reason Abraham Lincoln left home really young because he hated his step-mother?
Gramma: *handwave* Dear, we don't speak ill of the dead.

[ETA: many many thanks to [personal profile] wordweaverlynn (see comments) for enlightening me on this childhood misunderstanding, that childhood-me had it Completely Wrong. Wah!]

Anyway, the only other Civil-War related story of unexpected relatives was about a Southern General. When the South decided to secede from the Union, all ranking military officers who were residents of a seceding state were contacted by the newly-formed Confederacy. Each general was asked to convert his commission from the North/Federal govt to the South/Confederacy. Many didn't, many did. And then there was one general -- the one in my family -- who regretfully replied that he had -- really! -- only just discovered, like, within minutes of getting the invitational letter -- that he had inherited some form of madness.

Terrible, terrible thing, them late-in-life unexpected insanities. Kill you right off, if you weren't careful. Naturally, he had to listen to his doctors' advice, and promptly packed up his entire family and off they all go to a sanatorium in the South of France in hopes he might live out that what's left of his life, in peace. And, y'know, hope for a cure.

Me: What happened then, Gramma?
Gramma: Remarkably, he was only ill for foueeah yeeaahrs, and the sanatorium cured him completely, just in time for him to return home, on the tails of the South surrendering.
Me: ...
Gramma: *completely deadpan* The nick of time, really.
Me: That seems awfully convenient timing, Gramma.
Gramma: Gracious, I'm sure it was just a coincidence.
Me: Unh-hunh. So what was his name? Who was he?
Gramma: *handwave* Dear, it's not polite to speak ill of the dead.

(Like she didn't do it all the time. She just figured if she didn't name names, it wasn't really speaking ill of the dead because you hadn't said who exactly they were. At least, that's what I think she was thinking. She never did explain why not, only that... well, she had plenty to say about plenty in the family. Now I've got plenty of stories and no names to go with them. Except for the stories about my grandmother's step-grandfather's younger brother, who -- according to my mother -- really did run that wild. Not like running wild was all that much, considering my grandmother's aunt ran a boarding house, threw parties where the bathtub really was filled with gin, and had three pet house-pigs.)

I guess this just means temporary insanity runs in my family, or maybe -- to not speak ill of the dead -- just really good survival instincts.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (4 pretentious with style)
This is being passed along/asked on behalf of [personal profile] taithe -- you can read what prompted these question in this thread (from the previous post). Slightly modified to be more universal for Southerners in general:
Who is defined as a Southerner? When not in the South, can you spot a Southerner right away or is it less obvious? If you live outside the South, do you feel like you don't/can't belong because of your Southern background? How closely do you think you match the stereotype of Southerner, and do you think this impacts how well you fit in -- or don't fit in -- when living outside the South? Alternate for those who've always lived/stayed in the South: can you identify when someone's a returning Southerner versus a newcomer picking up Southern habits? If so, what's the tip-off?

Formally speaking, "being Southern" has two-parts, or so I was always taught: born, and bred. Technically, I'm not a born-Southerner (thanks, DAD, the military guy!) because I was born in North Dakota. I'm completely bred-Southern, though, since we returned to the Deep South when I was six months old, and I lived in various places in the South until I was in mid-twenties. Beyond that, I have multiple generations in all directions who are born-and-bred Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi, so generally... yeah, I'm pretty Southern.

Rest of my answers behind the cut. )

If you don't mind [personal profile] taithe using your comments as possible jumping-off or consideration points for grad study, and want to contribute with your own stories/input for her questions, please feel free. If you'd prefer anonymity, you can go with anonymous here (I'm hoping that's okay, for taithe's purposes), or just PM [personal profile] taithe directly.

If your experience has differed from mine, especially do speak up. The South is hardly monolithic and I'm nowhere near an expert on All Things Southern, so do feel free to help me make sure no one gets that impression. Let's freely contradict each other, if that's what it be.

[see comments for additional response/questions from [personal profile] taithe]
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (4 no sacrifice)
I've been sitting on this rant for awhile, but what-the-hell, I'm going to post. If you like to play the oppression olympics, don't read this. If you react favorably to the following statement: "immigrants have it the absolute worst in the US," then you probably won't want to read this, but maybe you should anyway. Just consider it walking the length of this post in my shoes, with citations.

Clover, Carol. Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1992.

One of Clover's chapters, Getting Even, discusses a concept she calls "urbanoia". She defines it loosely as the (horrorific/horror) archetype of the civilized city-dweller's feelings against/about the uncivilized (savage, primitive) country-dweller.
An enormous proportion of horror takes as its starting point the visit or move of (sub)urban people to the country. (The eternally popular haunted house story is typically set, if not in the country, then at the edge of town, and summer camps set in deep forests are a favorite setting of slasher films. ...) ...That situation, of course, rests squarely on what may be a universal archetype [in which the non-city] is a place where the rules of civilization do not obtain. People from the city are people like us. People from the country (as I shall hereafter refer to those people horror construes as the threatening rural Other) are people not like us.

She gives several examples of just how the rural Other is different: adult males with no immediate family connections, or extreme patriarchal rulership (with the occasional extreme matriarchal rulership), and abnormalities like "psychosexually deformed children", with "degenerate specimens [as] the material expression of family wrongness..."

She goes on to summarize the basic appearance of the rural Other, in terms of the standard elements of the genre convention:
...country people live beyond the reaches of social law. They do not observe the civilized rules of hygiene or personal habit. If city men are either clean-shaven or wear stylish beards... country men sport stubble. Likewise teeth; the country is a world beyond denistry. The typical country rapist is a toothless or rotten-toothed single man with a four-day growth. ... As with hygiene, so with manners. Country people snort when they breathe, snore when they sleep, talk with mouths full, drool when they eat. The hill people of The Hills Have Eyes do not even know how to use knives and forks. Country people, in short, are surly, dirty (their fingernails in particular are ragged and grimy), and slow ("This ain't the big city, you know, things take time," a local handyman drawls to our city heroine in The Nesting, and the city invaders of Pumpkinhead refer to the locals as "vegetables"). What is threatening about these little uncivilities is the larger uncivility of which they are surface symptoms. In horror, the man who does not take care of his teeth is obviously a man who can, and by the end of the movie will, plunder, rape, murder, beat his wife and children, kill within his kin, commit incest, and/or eat human flesh... No wonder, given their marginal humanity, country people are often nameless or known by cognomina only.

CP brought this book to my attention after I spent one dinner ranting -- and I don't mean the usual annoyed complaint-airing, I mean truly angry ranting... about a map. There are weeks where I should know better than to follow links, but I was curious, and that right there should've been a sign, but still: a map that assigns movies to states based on "one movie set there that seemed reasonably typical". (h/t: [personal profile] wordweaverlynn)

Some of them are relatively obvious: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Raising Arizona. Some of them require you be aware the filmmakers would be State Cultural Treasures (if there were such a thing): Maryland has Jon Waters (Pink Flamingos), Rhode Island has the Farrelly Brothers (There's Something About Mary), New Jersey has Kevin Smith (Clerks). Others have region as distinctive aspects of the film, like The Wizard of Oz for Kansas, Dances with Wolves for South Dakota, and A River Runs Through It (in which Montana should've gotten top billing, if you ask me, for providing such backdrops). A few make no sense to me at all, like Glory for South Carolina, a film that's about the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. So a big battle takes place outside Charleston... it strikes me as odd that a film "reasonably typical" about South Carolina would star, well, yankees. But anyway.

I didn't expect that many surprises, and you probably won't see too many yourself, if you go look at the map. While you're there, take a look at the state that's down near the bottom-right, in orange. Go ahead, I'll wait, just making conversation over here while you go see. )

NOTE: if you are considering a comment in which: you say that you, personally, have Southern friends and they make jokes like this all the time, I won't reply because (a) this post is NOT ABOUT YOU and (b) you're blurring ingroup/outgroup humor and maybe you need to think about that more. If you raise a defense via attacking on the topics of slavery, slave-ownership, redneck-analogies, or how Others have it worse, I will DELETE your comment as oppression olympics and/or derailing.
kaigou: Edward, losing it. (1 Edward conniption)
Jump forward to about 3:30 and watch. The entire scene had me in hysterics. Exchange "frogs" for "pigs feet" and that's me and my sister on a family-visit when we were younger. Nothing like elderly cooks with good intentions to take years off your life. (Which, when you're 14 and 11, as we were, there aren't that many years to take.)

Watch Sweet Relationship Ep 6 [3/3] in Entertainment  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

(It's the younger girl, on the left, waving the food around as preface to not-so-stealthily trying to slip it into the older girl's rice bowl that really did me in. My sister tried that trick at least once every family visit.)
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (4 usual suspects)
...and her observation that "yet another one of the downfalls of so many electronic distractions for my kids is that they've never heard most of these [family] stories."

Which reminded me of the drawback of being able to ask about family stories is that this translates for kids to "asking about all history" thanks to "history" being a pretty vague concept up to a certain age -- consisting entirely of "stuff that happened before I was born."

Thus is the logic for when my sister had a 2nd grade report due on the Revolutionary War. So she asked our mom over dinner what the Revolutionary War was like. Mom kinda blinks and admits that she wasn't even alive for World War II (she's a true baby boomer, born a year after the war ended). My sister was rather crushed, especially when our folks explained that the Revolutionary War was a long time before World War Two.

Then Mom gets the bright idea (for reasons I totally get now) to call her mother, explaining that although Mom doesn't know, Mom's certain Gramma will. (Remarkably, she kept a straight face while assuring us of this.) She puts my sister on the extension, and after the obligatory greetings, my sister explains she has to do a report and she has some questions. Gramma, gracious as always, is more than willing to help with any school project.

So my sister trots out the question: "Gramma, what was the Revolutionary War like?"

My grandmother doesn't even miss a beat. "Oh, goodness," she tells my sister, "I only go as far back as the Civil War. For anything about the Revolutionary War, we'll have to ask your grandfather."
kaigou: so when do we destroy the world already? (3 destroy the world)
Been gone the past five days for obligatory family-visit-thing, and managed to catch a bad head-cold while I was at it. My theory is that the universe is of the mind that if you're emotionally miserable when deluged with relatives, you might as well be physically miserable while you're at it, and do the misery all proper-like.

Which means we will have to wait until this head-cold is past before I can regale you all with the story of U-Haul Guy, Sweet Momma, and the Iranian Rug Dealer.

No, really.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Ritsuka)
This is my mother's sense of humor (but in my garden).

Explains a lot about me, eh.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (W] vortex of stupidity)
Remember when I ranted about that horrendous adaptation butchering of Cooper's The Dark is Rising?

Sometimes I wonder where they grow the people who power the money that makes our movies and television and general pop culture. I mean, if you listened to these people, they'd have you convinced that if you are American, anglo, middle class, and raised in a generally suburban environment (give or take a few cows or transit buses), that you couldn't possibly ever want to spend money to look at someone who isn't also... American, anglo, middle class, and generally suburban.

Is this why we import so many actors from Canada, because they don't sound like they have an accent at all, to American ears? Because dogs forbid that the character have an accent, damn it, because that would be a strike-out on the first go-round. OMG, he's british! Oh, noes! Because apparently a mediocre American, white, middle class, suburban actor is way way better than a really awesome, NOT-American, possibly accented, non-Anglo*, and who knows for class or regional upbringing. Nope, let's go with the safe mediocre actor, because then the viewers can relate! Especially the children. Think of the children!

*shoots someone. possibly self*

I could ask, at what point did you realize people have different color skin, or speak with strange accents, or aren't all from the same place/culture as you, but it's not something most of us ever think about. )
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (love's bitch)
Today I was reminded that I exist for some reason other than merely to serve as a bad example. That is to say, today was my sister's semi-monthly phone call about what's wrong with her car this time. Note that she caught me after three hours of working on test plans, and I hate test plans with a passion I usually reserve for mowing lawns and doing laundry. Hate, hate, hate. At it's easier to be patiently repetive when your brain's on flatline from task-hatred overload.

Khlo: So I went to the storage place this morning [insert packrat rationalizations here], and when I went back to the car, it wouldn't start. It'd just go rrrRRRUUUNHrrrrrUUUNNhhh.
Me: It's the starter. Your starter's dying.
Khlo: But I was only there for like seven minutes.
Me: I know it took you more than seven minutes. You said you talked to Mom, loaded four boxes out of the car and into the storage area, locked up behind you, figured out the car wasn't starting, walked up to the office, asked for help, went back to the car, jumped it. I'd think maybe 45 minutes. Which meant your engine had cooled down some.
Khlo: It's ninety-five degrees outside. It can't be cool. It won't be cool again until October.
Me: The engine normally runs a lot hotter than ninety-five.
Khlo: Maybe.
Me: Anyway. Point is, it's your starter.
Khlo: But it jump-started just fine.
*sigh* )

And you people wonder why I talk all the time. I grew up in a family where NO ONE LISTENS TO ME.


30 Aug 2004 10:28 am
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (evil)
so I'm reviewing my list of chores:

1. do the damn dishes
2. badger the recruiter
3. put away clean laundry

and I get an email from my mother about my trip to Grand Forks, ND, with a few stopovers to see the world's biggest ball of twine, the world's largest talking metal cow, the world's largest van gogh easel, and the world's largest concrete prairie dog. She says, "would you take your sister with you, part of the way?"

I write back. "What do you mean? Like, take her as far as Chicago and leave her there?"

Mom's response: "Yep."

I told her, "if Klho makes her way home again, that means ya gotta keep her."

No response from Mom yet. I think she might be sulking.



kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
锴 angry fishtrap 狗

to remember

"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

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