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annalee, charlie and me

My friend Annalee, a columnist for the San Francisco Bay Guardian among other places, has written articles recently on two of my favorite topics, one on Buffy and one on blogs. We had a long email conversation about the pieces today; here's an edited version of one I wrote:

Bloggers talk amongst themselves; columnists talk to the world. I know bloggers talk to the world, too ... in theory, they talk to more of the world than columnists. But I don't think online-specific writing has captured the public imagination enough yet ... Salon is my favorite magazine, but I don't know many people besides me and my online-geek friends who read it.... I can write an intelligent analysis of The Royal Tenenbaums for my blog, and it will get maybe a dozen readers tops. Basically, who knows about my blog?

Just this morning, I was thinking about me, Annalee, and my friend Charlie Bertsch. Given my skill set, there are two general career paths I could take. I could become a tenure-track professor like Charlie; I could become a writer like Annalee. Both of them do good work; both make fine role models. And my skills are similar to theirs. Now, you have to factor in my lack of ambition, the happy accident that my wife makes a relatively large amount of money, and my colossal laziness ... when you do that, you get an adjunct lecturer with a blog instead of a professor or a columnist.

Well, when I think of Annalee or Charlie, and I try to imagine "what if I was them," in Charlie's case I think "relative stability and prestige = good, living in Arizona = bad." In Annalee's case, what I think of as the best part, the part I miss the most by being lazy, is an audience. She has an audience. I don't think most bloggers have a v.large audience, although I think many bloggers have the audience they want, and some of those audiences are cutting-edge crucial. But when Annalee Newitz writes something, lots of people read it, and that seems like a thing to me, something she has that bloggers don't.

stop making sense

So I'm watching Stop Making Sense and thinking to myself that Tina Weymouth has got to be the cutest bass player of all time. And then I start making concessions to my biases (straight guy who likes girl bass players), and try to think of who else might be in the running. And the only person I can think of is Kim Gordon. And it's weird, because Kim Gordon looks like a more severely arty version of Tina Weymouth, who's got that Meg Ryan cutie thing going. It's as if there's only one template for women bass players.

Of course, the semi-resemblance between the two bass players is about the only thing Talking Heads and Sonic Youth have in common.

jake in thailand: chapter nine

February 24:

Today is the 24th of February. It has been one month since I have arrived in Thailand. I can hardly believe it. I am so happy to still be here.

Every day seems like a week but the month has gone by so quickly. I have only 7 days left at the Westin Hotel until I meet up with my friend Karly. I am going to show her around Chaing Mai and Chaing Rai for about a week. Then it's off to the Islands. It is so hard not to shop my brains out here. Everything is so inexpensive! But I need to wait until the end of the trip so I don't have nineteen bags of souvenirs to lug around.

Tonight I have a meeting with a French guy. He owns an art transport business in Chaing Mai. He also owns a French Restaurant downtown. He is looking for a representative in the Bay Area! I can't believe how many job offers I have had since I got here! I don't know. I told him I would come to his restaurant and look at his business plan at 7pm. He seems to be very serious about his work. The job would include traveling to different places in the US including Alaska. Showing art to hotels, cruise lines and gift shops. Apparently he has over 20 transport businesses in Europe. The guy is a multi-millionaire but still is working right along side his help! It's refreshing to see humble rich folk! Anyway, I have to skip work tonight for the meeting.

Friday night I saw a vicious Thai Boxing match. Actually there were about eight fights total. Don't worry, I took lots of pictures. Last night, I went to a dinner show. They serve you dinner in this beautiful cathedral. And while you eat, there is a play going on. The music was incredible. All traditional Thai instruments.

So that's it for now. Hope everyone is having a wonderful day! Talk to you all soon!


out of step

In my English class right now, students are nominating movies they'd like us to watch. One person suggested Amelie, which I happened to see this past weekend and found inconsequential. My student raved about it, though, and then I noticed, when checking out the Internet Movie Database, that the IMDB users have voted Amelie the 11th-best movie of all time! The overall rating for the film is 9.0 on a scale of 10. I gave the movie a 5, myself, and this got me to wondering: what movie on IMDB has the biggest discrepancy between my rating and the overall rating for a film.

The answer? Se7en. IMDB users give this a rating of 8.2 on a scale of 10; it is #59 on the all-time list. I gave it a 2.

get big show off my teevee

As long as I've got your attention ... well, Jillian got our attention, but in any event, attention is gotten, and since Big Show is rassling on RAW right now, I've got a few minutes to spare.

I understand why people keep diaries. I'm not sure why people keep diaries and post them on the Internet. Of course, what happens is, I don't write anything too personal ... I'm not stupid, ya know ... geez, now Big Show is in a commercial! Get that man off my teevee! Maybe he could go have sex with Eva Savalot.

jake in thailand: chapter eight

February 19:

Today was a very interesting day for me. But to understand today you must know about last night. I went to a friend's birthday party around 10pm. The party was at a bar near my guest house. It is also owned by a guy named Rob from Castro Valley. He's completely bald down the middle of his head. Rob isn't the brightest old guy either. Apparently he was ripped off 12 million Baht by some sexy young woman. But Rob isn't important. I also met a man named Randy. Randy has been living in Thailand for 12 years. He is 56 years old and has a voice like Rod Stewart. Very raspy. Probably because of the 3 packs a day he smokes. His beautiful wife of 2 years was also present. After spending nearly an hour talking with Randy about Stevie Ray V. and the 70's, he asked me to join he and his wife to a more classier place. I wasn't too impressed with the loud and drunk birthday girl or the rest of the party for that matter. So I said goodbye and went for a drive.

We arrived a place called Classic Karaoke. Don't let the name fool you. Randy explained to me that the owner had taught him everything he knows about Thailand and Chaing Mai. When we walked in, it was very dark.There were a few girls sitting in front but as soon as we walked up, they scurried inside. Once inside, it seemed that Randy, his wife and myself were the only customers. I later found out that the place is 4 floors. We ordered some drinks and Randy ordered some food. He told me, "Now you are with family". I thought it was a scene from the Godfather! Then he ordered a girl to come out and join us for some snacks and drinks. A shy Thai girl approached me and sat next to me. She asked me if I wanted to sing a song? I said, "let me see the selection". After thumbing through the book for a few minutes, Randy says in Thai, "this girl isn't sexy enough, bring him out a new girl." I have no idea what is going on. So she leaves and an even more beautiful girl, Rin (pernounced Lynn), comes out to join us.
Apparently it was her second day on the job which explained her shyness. But there was nothing to explain my shyness. I didn't know what to think of the whole thing. Once the food came, Rin hand-fed me. Randy explained that although this place was very expensive, they treat you like a king! Which was true! She wiped my face after each bite of shrimp tempura, Beef Bob's, onion rings and all other assorted foods. It was all very awkward. But since Rin and myself were both new to the whole thing, we just laughed. No one spoke english accept for Randy, but he was so drunk that I had a hard time understanding his English! His wife was DD for the night which made me more comfortable. We sat for about 2 hours listening to the women sing and just enjoying the beautiful company. During the conversation, I found out that Randy races Nitro powered RC cars. He has invited me to come and participate in some of his races! He also is a sound engineer for the University in Chaing Mai. He claims that he can record me on piano for free anytime! We talked shop about different microphones and equipment. Really exciting! HAHA.

After we were done eating, we said goodbye and they dropped me off at my guest house! I thought to myself as I lay in bed, "what a wonderful night!" Lo and behold, 3am rolls around and the birthday party shows up at my door! I had been asleep for a couple hours and when I answered the door stark naked, everyone ran! Well I didn't want to hang out anyway! I could hear the party continuing down the hall! But that didn't stop super sleeper from catching those Z's. No, I was back out as soon as I saw the pillow! So the next morning, a couple of friends showed up at my door and wanted to walk me to the small lake just outside of Chaing Mai!

Sure I thought! So we got on our motorbikes and headed out. Once at the lake, we sat under a bamboo hut and the two Thai ladies ordered breakfast. A few minutes later, the waitress started bringing out food... and she didn't stop bringing out food for the next 45 minutes! We had clams, rice, fish head soup, live shrimp, and a bunch of other things that I have no clue to what they are! After the feast, we all keeled over and took a nap. Later we watched the sunset over the mountains and the lake and then off to work for me!

So... What an exciting 24 hours! Tomorrow I am going to go and see Randy at the RC car races! I can't wait! But tonight, I am taking it easy!