Showing posts with label college. Show all posts
Showing posts with label college. Show all posts

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wish I Had Taken a Picture

An organization on campus had put together a Date Auction in order to raise funds. The theme, as near as I could tell, was "Jack the Ripper".

1) I find it interesting when people decide to raise funds by becoming "escorts" for an evening. That's really the first thing to come to mind? Really?

2) Jack the Ripper ranks up there, shortly behind Jeffrey Dahmer, as the worst "date" ever. He, too, paid for an evening's entertainment. I'm just saying.

Anyway, let us thank Jebus for student organizations and their odd, odd ways of trying to raise funds (I paid someone $3 today for a cupcake to raise money for what I believed to be their Diwali festival. Yes, I was hoping for an invitation. No, I did not receive one).

Monday, April 27, 2009

6th and Lamar

This weekend I watched "Slacker", the circa 1990 movie from Richard Linklater that more or less made the Austin film scene.

From the opening scene, its clear its an Austin that many in the town today will have found plowed under and turned into condos. Even the opening shot, looking out the window of a bus headed north on I-35 at dawn passes the location of what was Robert Mueller Airport, where today we have tract housing, Best Buy and a sea of chain retail. I think the only thing still standing and the same today in the extended shot is the McDonald's at Capital Plaza.

As a movie and cultural artifact, Slacker is a curious item to watch. I've come to have more personal feelings on the thing than I usually associate with a movie. Its a time capsule from an era of my youth when I was coming of age. Its a time capsule from a period in Austin that most of the people I know in Austin don't recall, or weren't in town for yet. It may also be responsible for some of the image making of Austin, which has led to the flood of people into Austin, which, in turn, has greatly changed Austin. In some ways for the better, and in many ways...

There's a scene about thirty minutes into the movie where a guy is buying a newspaper (a USA Today, I think) and he's at the GM Steakhouse, and the horizon is flat. The high rises of the intersection aren't even imagined yet. Traffic on Lamar is moving fast headed south. There's an auto dealer, Charles Coffey Motors, I think, that had been there for decades.

Today, Les Amis is gone. That whole area has been bought by real estate developers and they put in a Smoothie King and a Panda Express.

The entire film is, in so many ways, the same rush of sense memory you get when you step into your parents' house after being away too long. Or, perhaps even more, when something smells exactly how your grandparents' basement smelled, a place you would have to dig deep to recall when was the last time you spent time there.

Sure enough, time goes by. The town has always been transitory to an extent, memories are short. And those places were houses and other things that people may have lived in before I was imprinting on them as record stores and cigarette shops. Time waits for nobody, but that doesn't mean, I think, you can't be nostalgic. Or that you can't feel a bit of melancholy that time has marched on, especially when you wonder how you suddenly got so old.

Intentional or unintentional, there's something to the young faces of the film living in the old, unpolished parts of the city. In houses left over from grander eras, walking past the burnt out and unused warehouses that once made up several blocks of Austin (and which, from what I've read, on that land may have been brothels and bars before the warehouses took up the space).

Seeing people as I remember them from that era, not as how they appeared on TV from studios, or how they looked in catalogs, or taking their fashion cues from either. Texas accents. All that. It makes it tough to separate nostalgia (and what was at the time, recongnition) from any objective viewing of the film.

The content of the film, is, of course, the 2:00 AM-over-a-beer academic discussions of the 20-something quasi or pseudo intellectual, that rarely appeal to or fit in with the hours available in a life once you've rolled into a job, paying taxes, etc... Even when or if you fundamentally still agree or find yourself arguing with 20-something you. Its distended out to two hours, and at times its a bit much, and at times you want to slap the characters, but its also still a bit like slowing down and listening as you walk across campus. Students will always be students, and Linklater was just out of school (or maybe still in?) when he was working on Slacker.

And that's not going to do a lot for a lot of people. And I appreciate that. Or, I guess, I am aware of that. And the undercurrent of anarchy that's romanticized will drive some nuts. But, as I said, its a time capsule. And its not indicative of many people's time in this town, even lifelong residents.

My favorite scene is still that of the old revolutionary/ anarchist who takes a liking to the young man pointing a gun at him. That's going to be Jason in 30 years, so help me.

Admittedly, at one point, I was fairly certain that was pretty much what I'd be doing in my mid-20's (I was about 15 or 16 when I saw the movie the first time), and had I not jumped in that taxi, who knows where I would have diverged and seen this life as a dream, right? One does not work towards a history and film degree because one's life's plans are centered around financial security, 2 kids and a house in the burbs. It wasn't so much an aspiration as much as what seemed like a likely trajectory when you really have no clue what you're going to do with yourself beyond your 21st birthday.

Anyhow, its a movie I find odd in what a gut, emotional reaction I have to it for reasons that aren't necessarily tied to the content, although that certainly plays a part (at least as echoes of old voices).

Since the movie was released, the term "slacker" was co-opted, most egregiously by the movie "Slackers", which was sort of a gross-out comedy of no redeeming value. Various websites, properties, etc... have tried to take on the term. But, whatever.

All part of it I suppose.

It's like getting a little closer to the rock goddess herself.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

many topics

Dogs (Mine and those of others)

Cassidy is here. We never bothered to move the couches back after the Superbowl on Sunday, and with two dogs in the house, I'm not very inclined to do so. Everyone kind of gets a spot.

Lucy has been much better after her misfire with the rawhide bone the other week. She's been back to normal speed for a while. I do fear she's getting really, really spoiled these days in Mel's absence and with Jeff the Cat spending more time upstairs and peacefully snoozing during the day.

For those of you who missed it, TST has brought a pup into her own life by adopting a retired greyhound. Before Lucy, Jamie and I had talked long and hard about doing the same, as... hey! it's a dog that's already been trained. And they have a great disposition. Unfortunately, we also read in more than one place that they can chase cats. So if you want to blame someone, blame Jeff.

I am thrilled for TST and her new pal. I believe his name is Holley. May they take over Houston together.

Work is Busy

Work has finally caught up with me. I still really like my job, but I'm past the honeymoon period and its work. I have to plan months out. I need to not screw up.

It's a good thing.

The Boss

I think Jason will be trying to get us tickets to see Springsteen. Jamie will, most likely, not go.


I want to take Jamie to Hawaii this year. I want to see her dance about in a grass skirt with a wreath of brightly colored flowers atop her noggin. And we should sip fruity drinks in a lounge chair at 6:00 pm.

Is it totally evil that I hope things sink a little lower so I can actually afford to take my wife on a single vacation in this lifetime?

That said, I am dreading (absolutely dreading) the flight. So I can wait.


Friends at my former employing university are on staggered furloughs. If you don't know what this means, it translates thusly: They are not getting paid to work, so the university is sending them away in blocks of time that will, hopefully, not impact the university too greatly. But, basically, everyone is seeing their salaries decreased.

When they start talking about "freezing tuition" at universities, beware. And when you vote for people who vote against supporting university funding, also ponder what that means. Universities need funding for everything from test tubes to trash bags to handicap parking spot paint. When you have no state funding, and you have no tuition money, you're left with the kindness of strangers supporting your favorite university. And when those strangers realize their pockets are empty...?

There's a slight chance that people might not be able to graduate this semester at that school I mentioned if the furloughs get longer, wider, deeper, what-have-you.

Universities get funded from somewhere. And while tuition is expensive, those fees barely begin to cover the total expenses of most schools. Schools like the University of Texas are hard to understand to the outside observer. We can all agree we need the school for the educational aspect, and we can agree that we need something beyond a "teaching college", but its hard to understand the value of the scholarship, research, etc... going on.

Anyway, its easy to be cavalier about Universities and the fact that they cost money, but its a complicated eco-system. If you're concerned its all a bunch of communism, then I'd point to how universities get their rankings, research funding, etc... in what's a pretty straightforward system of meritocracy. In order to draw the right talent (which equates to rankings and research dollars), you gotta have the dough. So if you want your degree to be worth something (or your kid's degree), it costs money. So ponder what having Stanford has meant to Palo Alto, or what having UT has meant to Austin and its industry. Or what the Research Triangle means to North Carolina as per producing talent, which attracts companies, etc... Its an eco-system, and all of these things need each other.

With such a terrific tradition of public higher education in this country, its my sincere hope that a university education does not return to pre-WWII levels of being accessible almost exclusively to the wealthy. Or that public institutions become second class universities.

Monday, October 27, 2008


The 28th marks the 13th anniversary of my time with Jamie.

13 years, which is also more than 1/3rd of my life, as I recently mentioned, and I tend to think every day is a little better than the one before, even when life throws us a roadblock.

So, recently I perfected my time machine in order to go back and discuss certain things with my younger self, in order to correct some issues in my life. However, I forgot that the earth isn't just revolving around the sun at 66,000 miles per hour, the universe is constantly expanding, which meant I wound up in deep space. It needs to be a time AND space machine. Something I would think that, if I'd figured it out, I would have come back in time and told my self the solution by now...

Unless future me is accidentally tumbling through dimensions trying to find the same timeline where he began, instead of hopelessly lost in a maze of possible futures... or possibly not existing at ALL, thanks to the fact that he had already changed his own past...

Anyhoo... that's all academic until I get cold fusion working in my office.

So let's get the list cobbled together of what I would tell the Ryan of 1995 that would be of benefit to him now:

1) Carbo-loading is not a competitive sport
2) If you don't want the short, polite letters from grad schools, you might want to try a little harder in that Speech class.
3) Instead of telling everyone that you don't understand how Google is going to make money, go ahead and get in on that dutch auction. But sell by Spring of '08.
4) This new girl? The one you're thinking must be secretly crazy and so you're waiting for the other shoe to drop and find out what's wrong with her? It's not going to happen. She is what she seems. And better.
5) She isn't going to ever ask you to be anything but yourself
6) She's going to show you what it means to look adversity in the eye in a way that will forever humble you
7) She will know you better than anyone, and she'll love you anyway
8) No matter how tempting, do not vote for Nader
9) Take it easy on your review of "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist". She will threaten to never see a movie with you again.
10) A film degree? BWAH HA HA HA HA HA HA

Happy Anniversary, Jamie. I can't believe its been 13 years since you watched me drink a pack of Mickey's to celebrate Bug's birthday. What a rousing start to our relationship.

Sorry the flowers showed up a day early. Tuesday is going to be a little anticlimactic.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The League in Film School

This clip from Clone High is pretty much exactly like my experience presenting my work in film school.