Friday, August 31, 2012

Damn.

I started work at another museum specifically because I want to learn practical crap like MONEY: HOW TO GET.  Grant research, development, proposal writing, etceterah.  Most museums are non-profits and it seems like a lot of small museums are suffering unnecessarily.  I picked this museum because they are utilizing really intelligent money-getting strategies, and manage to grow each year instead of wither.  Such smart choices I make!  I'm gonna learn, champion-style!

But then I heard that someone on the development team (oh god I should make this entire blog pw protected) was given the task of researching the history of the building and generally maintaining what collection of artifacts there is.  as in the stuff that I actually like to do.  Not surprisingly, the research consisted of no research, and I have no idea where their archives are, but I am picturing a moldy, half-open cardboard box wedged between industrial sized boxes of coffee stirrers in the basement. 

It's not a history museum and their mission doesn't have much to do with communicating the history of the building.  Fine.  The person given this job has a full desk, and is a money dude, so I get it.  But after learning of this, and seeing the insane way their digital collections were stored on the server, I just kind of said,

"I think I'm just gonna work on this?  Yeah.  Can I...clean this?  Instead.  Ok."

And that's what I've been doing since.  This is kind of a fail because that's not why I'm there, but I can't help it.  My work activities will be entirely self-directed for a couple of weeks due to my little mentor being at a conference, and I doubt I'm going to choose researching the charitable giving history of Bancorp over obsessively researching and providing correct citation for old photos.

The latter one is the more fun activity, in case it is not immediately obvious.

So!  I have been reacquainting myself with the available local resources.  They are many, and are available to everyone. 

ASU Libraries - Arizona Collection.  Lots of stuff, most of it not online.  That's cool, you can go down to Hayden, get your little cotton gloves on, and see it in person.  It's more fun.
www.chroniclingamerica.com - US newspapers 1836-1922!  Radical resource.  They're adding more each year, but there's already a decent amount of Arizona papers. 
Arizona State Archives
Burton Barr Arizona Room  Lots of great books in there, but they have a nice photo collection.  Might have to go in or ax the archivist.
Arizona Historical Society archives - Never been here, I think they are recataloging things right now.

There are more, of course.

Apropos of nothing, someone told me there are several ghosts in the building.  I never respond when people matter-of-factly inform me of random preternatural shit, because you never know where they're coming at it from.  Also, I have noticed that my typical response of OH NO WAY TELL ME EVERYTHING usually makes them back down about talking about it.  So I just look at them and wait.  Still waiting.

Monday, August 20, 2012

And I don't care who knows it.

Tired Old Queen at the Movies, youtube superstar.

He reviews the classicest of the classic 40s-50s hits, Born Yesterday, Ball of Fire, Giant, Now, Voyager, and everything in between.  He has his favorites, and luckily, they are mine too.



He does Born Yesterday in this episode, which is a delightful, subtle comedy that is somehow ridiculous without being too overt.  Judy Holliday is the best ever, and even though Jean Arthur was another baby-voiced, absurdly-funny comedienne, she's too little and refined to have played the big (personalitied) blonde ex-chorusgirl from NYC.  There are so many parts of this movie that I love that I am probably an intolerable watching-partner.  Leaning forward, chin on my fists, "This part is SOOO funny WATCH WATCH HA HA!" 

Anyway, this guy does a really great Bette Davis impression.  Look for the over-35 Bette in his portrayal.  When he says "Tired old queen...at the moviess," in clipped tones while rapidly blinking his eyes...that's her.  There she is!  Uncanny.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wilhelms

Last week I stayed at the Grand Canyon Hotel in Williams, Arizona.  Built in 1891, it is allegedly the oldest functioning hotel in Arizona.  It was the only place I could find with a room to let, and I am so glad.  I love it.  John Muir stayed there many times; I wonder if he ever stayed in my room?


As I have said, I prefer historic buildings to be a little threadbare, a little dirty, a little unrenovated.  I have a very Grey Gardens aesthetic, minus the cat pee.  This place ran through the 1970s, went out of business, and sat empty for almost 40 years (a "home for pigeons," they said) before the current management bought and "renovated" it.  By renovated, they mean they fixed the sewer, water lines, some electricity, and painted.  The wood floors are still 1891, almost completely worn of finish.  They didn't refinish the floors!  They are so creaky.  The banister is chipped and worn and you can see at least 4 different paint colors on it.  The rooms are furnished with all period furniture, including antique books on the bedside for casual perusal (I did, and was offended!).

I wrote this at the time and never posted it:

I am sitting on a small, squeaky brass bed, looking at a primitive walnut dresser/vanity on which is a 19th century vanity kit complete with hair-receiver and boot button hook!  A BUTTON HOOK.  The hotel is filled with early photographic portraits, some of which have faded so much that they may not be visible in another 25 years.  Needless to say, I am much pleased.  If my next door neighbor didn't have tuberculosis (not Doc Holliday or Val Kilmer so fuck them), this would be perfect.




People hate old portraits of babies and kids.  Why?  Because they look like killer dolls?  I'm over it.


Copyright: the twenties

The only time that "bathroom down the hall" thing sucks is when you're walking through this darkened area at 4 am with your hands out in front of you thinking, now is seriously not the time for any paranormal shit, plz/thx.

When I was a child, I read a weird horror story called "The Newel Post" about a newel post that anthropomorphized at night and, I don't remember, scared people.  Every time I see any class of a banister post, I think of the story.





Peeling mirrors, I prefer them


*Button hooks were necessary in Victoriana when super tight, heavily buttoned garments were en vogue.  A woman's boot could have up to 24 tiny buttons to fasten.  The buttons were small and the material was quite stiff, so the slender hook was used to reach into the button hole, grab that button, and pull it through.  Same with gloves and some men's items.  They must be a collector favorite, because I never see them around anywhere.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

More About the Internet

Ironically, I judge people by how much time they spend online.  This is part of my ongoing "What the fuck is happening?!" slow roll freakout reaction to the internet.  I tend to view these people as suckers who either don't know how to disentangle themselves from the doubtlessly banal, pointless or sad things they must be doing online (getting into political arguments on reddit, looking at photos of their exes on Facebook, self-diagnosing on webmd, or...gaming*), or as people whose lives are shitty enough that the internet is preferable.

How do I explain my own presence on the web?  First of all, blow me, you don't know me.  Secondly, I am taking online classes, and thirdly, my best friends in the world all live far away, and how else am I supposed to communicate with them?  If those sound like bullshit excuses, it's because they are.  Also, the online class thing only works on older people.  Older people who won't ask questions like, "Oh, are your classes on Pinterest?"

I'm as guilty as anyone else of being too present on the internet.  The longer this goes on, the more normal it seems, and while I think I am probably only middling on the spectrum of internet-loserdom (somewhere, someone just leapt a horse over a fence or is Jeremiah Johnsoning it up in the wilderness, but someone somewhere else is on their (his, who are we kidding) 7th consecutive hour of World of Warcraft), I don't want to sink any lower.  That's why I'm no longer participating in any new sites that one has to join.  I sure hope nothing cool gets developed, because I am not signing up for it.  I think there are a lot of undetectable, negative side effects to the internet.  Comparing oneself to others is an ancient human favorite when it comes to self-damaging activities, and now it is possible to compare yourself to EVERYONE IN THE WORLD.  Wondering if you are attractive?  You're not, here are photos of 178,000 people who prove this.  Feeling like a champ because you made the Dean's List?  What a child.  Forget evaluating yourself against your classmates, friends or family to figure out who is having the best time; that's small time nickel and dime, as the greatest rapper of all time would say.  The sky is the limit for finding people who are better than you are.  There are people who are so much more successful than you are that your lame, second-rate brain can't even comprehend the magnitude of your whateverness. 

I also find this culture of display to be really weird.  You know damn well that most times a camera comes out at an event or on a trip, it's because they're already envisioning posting that shit on their Facebook or blog.  Yeah, they probably want to remember the moment, but they really want to share it with people who had no part in it.  I think they want to portray an enviable, constantly-interesting, well-turned-out life.  I guess anyone would want that, but really, that much?  I believe that most of these people who carefully craft their online images are actually unfulfilled, possibly unhappy people seeking to live vicariously through their own fictionalized lives.  Isn't it also fun to give no fucks about what people think about you, and to not be aware of what they think?  Yeah, I'm wearing an inside out Edgar Allan Poe shirt and my grandma's bra (story for another day); you have a problem?  If you do, guess what, don't care, and in all reality, probably don't know.  It's for the best!

I totally buy all of these alarmist articles on HuffPo about how the internet is eroding millenia of lessons about human interaction, self-perception, blah blah.  I read these articles on the internet.  I know. 

This brings me to my long-anticipated point.  I have spent a lot of time not on the internet this week, and have thereby discovered a type of productivity hitherto unknown to me.  Thereby and hitherto in the same sentence, are you still reading?  I have been cat-sitting at my grandmother's house.  She doesn't have cable.  She doesn't have wifi.  Her computer blows.  To entertain myself, I have been forced to do homework and read books, and it has kind of been the time of my life, within reason.  After three consecutive weeks of totally fucking off with my classes, I have completed a great deal of work.  I have read several books!  I wish I could say that I was also completing other tasks, but it's too hot and my S.A.D. is still in effect due to summer.

So basically, I have to figure out how to draw a strong line between me and the internet, because I would like to continue my newfound success, and really, I kind of hate being informed of what every person I know is doing all day long.  I experience guilt and embarrassment when posting to Facebook.  I am only really interested in what about 3 of my Facebook friends have to say.  Again, what is this life?!  I don't like enough other people to have signed myself up for a constantly rolling bottom ticker about their kids' first days of school or what they ate for dinner or all of their wrong political opinions!  No!  I don't need to read every blog and article, and I sure as hell don't need to read the comments on them.  A decent portion of my time online is spent saying shitty things to other people based on their wrongness, and while I generally stand behind this, in the end I am only giving myself a heart attack.  How many internet arguments have resolved with anything like, "Hey, I never thought about it that way! Thanks for your perspective! No hard feelings, pally!"  No.  They end with people trying to curse each other with their keyboards and telling each other that they hope the other gets hit by a bus in front of their family.  As someone who is genetically predisposed to being pissed off, I really don't need this shit.  I have plenty of things to be mad about all by myself without ever having to read what some fucking jag in Kentucky thinks about "the feminist agenda".

Obligatory commentary re: the internet isn't all bad: duh.  I understand that I would not be able to cook anything or find cheap textbooks or figure out where to go on vacation or know everything about anything without the internet.  I mean, I guess there are encyclopedias and recipe books, but I am on a schedule here.  I have made friends on the internet; good ones, too.  Anita and I met on Livejournal in 2001, and she is one of my best main-style buddies for life!  The internet allows me to commiserate with other people and/or learn that no one's life is necessarily going the way they want it to, which is apparently a necessary comfort.  Without the internet, I would not have Bitches Gotta Eat, Angeliska Gazette, Hark a Vagrant, Achewood, innumerable awesome podcasts, and the veritable universe of blogs written by middle aged gay men ostensibly for the main purpose of NEVER LETTING NORMA DESMOND DIE.  And I wouldn't have found my new 100% greatest life inspiration Caitlin Moran, or all of the other things I need in order to enjoy life.  I would still be able to send long, rambling letters to my best friends and to hear about their lives all the time, but this makes it faster.  So, great. 

But I'm seriously still going to scale it back.

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*Obviously I have done all of these things, except gaming, because come on.  I think I left out what most people are actually doing online, though: PORN.  I forget about that one.

I seriously have to explain the grandma bra thing at some point just because I don't want that one dangling without clarification (not that it gets better!), but I have to go not be at a computer now.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thoughts Upon Being a Grown Ass Man, Part I

Oh god, I must turn away from the internet at some point.  I'm obsessed with the idea of social networking profiles staying up forever, long after the person has died.  I hate the idea of this.  Digital memorials are chilling, disturbing, weird.  I don't want my last internet-words to remain published forever.  Hanging there like a wraith of yesterday, forever exclaiming about the obnoxiousness about Dr. Phil's twang.  

I like the idea that there is some anonymity in death.  Like it or not, death makes us quite unavailable; unavailable for conversation, and generally unavailable for perusal. 

I have actually considered including in a living will document the passwords to all of my internet personae, so that a trusted person may unplug them all!  Delete, delete, delete.  I will not undulate on the internet for eternity. 

But while we are all still alive, the pages of the past continue to fascinate me.  I have spent many days idly reading back through a friend's Livejournal lately.  It is five years of a girl; it ends in brilliant, masterful, absurdist accounts of a life, and descends back through the years into the everyday rambles of a grown child.  She stopped posting in 2009 or something, although she is around somewhere.  I read this journal and I can't get over how witty, how sharp, how sad, but how continuous it all is. 

Then I look to see what I was doing on some particular day in 2004, 2006, 2008, and am reminded of why this journal may not need to stand sentinel to my former days.  

---

little hell flames wrote,

i've fixed the hole in the crotch of my jeans with safety pins, just for the night.

i'm terrified, but so lazy.


  • 2 comments
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The reason this came up, aside from the fact that I've been devouring her journal like a weird life manual written by a contemporary Los Angelean Charlotte Bronte, is because I can't remember my old Myspace password.  I haven't logged in in years, and none of my old passwords work.  Do you know what this worst thing ever is?  Having a hilarious password.  You can't tell anyone!  So I tried my old hilarious passwords and my not so hilarious passwords, and I'm locked out.  The email I used is old and defunct, so I can't retrieve it.  And my profile is public.

So there I am forever, for the rest of Myspace, dangling in my early 20s, scowling in bars, epitomizing all that I was then. 

I suppose it'll be all right.  I'm not a revisionist anyway.

gother, Myspacer dayz

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"Now that damn cowboy is President." 1901


A bar room memory from Theodore Roosevelt's "An Autobiography," 1919:

   "The only time I ever had serious trouble was at an even more primitive little hotel than the one in question. It was also on an occasion when I was out after lost horses. Below the hotel had merely a bar-room, a dining-room, and a lean-to kitchen; above was a loft with fifteen or twenty beds in it. It was late in the evening when I reached the place. I heard one or two shots in the bar-room as I came up, and I disliked going in. But there was nowhere else to go, and it was a cold night. Inside the room were several men, who, including the bartender, were wearing the kind of smile worn by men who are making believe to like what they don't like. A shabby individual in a broad hat with a cocked gun in each hand was walking up and down the floor talking with strident profanity. He had evidently been shooting at the clock, which had two or three holes in its face.

  52
    He was not a "bad man" of the really dangerous type, the true man-killer type, but he was an objectionable creature, a would-be bad man, a bully who for the moment was having things all his own way. As soon as he saw me he hailed me as "Four eyes," in reference to my spectacles, and said, "Four eyes is going to treat." I joined in the laugh and got behind the stove and sat down, thinking to escape notice. He followed me, however, and though I tried to pass it off as a jest this merely made him more offensive, and he stood leaning over me, a gun in each hand, using very foul language. He was foolish to stand so near, and, moreover, his heels were close together, so that his position was unstable. Accordingly, in response to his reiterated command that I should set up the drinks, I said, "Well, if I've got to, I've got to," and rose, looking past him.

  53
    As I rose, I struck quick and hard with my right just to one side of the point of his jaw, hitting with my left as I straightened out, and then again with my right. He fired the guns, but I do not know whether this was merely a convulsive action of his hands or whether he was trying to shoot at me. When he went down he struck the corner of the bar with his head. It was not a case in which one could afford to take chances, and if he had moved I was about to drop on his ribs with my knees; but he was senseless. I took away his guns, and the other people in the room, who were now loud in their denunciation of him, hustled him out and put him in a shed. I got dinner as soon as possible, sitting in a corner of the dining-room away from the windows, and then went upstairs to bed where it was dark so that there would be no chance of any one shooting at me from the outside. However, nothing happened. When my assailant came to, he went down to the station and left on a freight."

So it basically went like THIS.

I love the stories of the tenderfoot nerd who flings himself into a wild west lifestyle after his civilized life falls apart.  It's what everyone wants to do, right?  I was surprised in one of my 19th century West classes when so many students said "oh hell no" when asked if they would have considered moving out in the 1860s, or whenever.  The myths of the West are so powerful and ridiculous, singing cowboys and conquering American gods and all.  They all seemed to wish to hang onto those whitewashed interpretations of history, yet still wouldn't go there themselves if they had the chance.  Contradictory and stupid, like much popular memory of the topic.

You can read TR's autobio online!  HERE.