Posts in: September, 2003

First Week


My Screenwriting II class wasn’t awful. The professor seems nice, not particularly inept, just inexperienced. He’s never taught this particular course before, so he insists we will “learn together.” I insist that’s bullshit, and I really hope my grade isn’t affected by his ineptitude.

Afterward, I went to get my U-Pass, which allows free access to the CTA system. I couldn’t get one over the summer, and I paid at least $50 (probably more) on train fare. What a racket.

They initiated a new system for U-Pass distribution this year, which mostly consists of making everybody sit around for hours. But now we get ticket vouchers to hold our places in line, so we don’t have to strictly wait around. That was nice, because I was able to go up and pay for my tuition instead of sitting around.

Afterward, when I got back to the Wabash building to resume my rigorous sitting around, I stopped and filled out the U-Pass form, so it’d be ready when I was beckoned upstairs by the gods of mass transit. Not realizing the entire Hokin annex was reserved for people waiting around for U-Passes (which meant I could have gone and sat down at a table in the back and filled it out like a normal person), I held the form up to one of the windows looking out on the beautiful lobby of the Wabash building and filled it out.

When I was finished and I had signed my name with the sloppy flourish most federal agencies have come to expect from me, I removed the paper from the glass window and performed a David Blaine-esque magic trick. Whereas there had been no human being occupying the space the paper covered prior to me filling out the form, when I dropped it, there was a person filling that space. A person I knew.

The Ex.

I did what any sane and terrified person would do at that point: I dropped to the floor, under the view of the glass, and slithered to the back of the Hokin annex, much to the amusement of the other students waiting in line for their U-Pass. Desperate times call for desperate measures, people.

Fortunately, going to an art school affords me a level of accepted weirdness that is significantly higher than most schools. Slithering on the floor like a husky human snake is generally accepted, especially when trance music is playing (none was).

I got the U-Pass without incident and went home.


This is what will now and forever be referred to as “the long day,” because I have two classes—one three hours, one four hours, with a half-hour break in between—in a row. I have a course in screenplay adaptation, followed by Fiction Writing II.

The adaptation course is sorta nifty, and for the sake of sheer laziness, I’ll probably end up adapting one of my own short stories, so I don’t have to go through the bother of acquiring the rights to any stories or poems.

Then, I went to Fiction Writing II, which made me question one thing: why, for the love of God, did I decide to take another course in fiction writing? Am I really that stupid? I hated the first one, but it did leave me with enough tiny little warm ‘n’ fuzzy memories that I was able to block out all the shit I hated about it. And, as it all came rushing back to me while I sat in a circle and attempted in vain to remember anything of the three stories we read aloud during class, I decided the best course of action would involve slitting my wrists.


I had planned to drop the course I had for Thursday, so I did. But I didn’t do it until yesterday, and the class I added also happens to be on Thursday. Consequently, I haven’t gone to that class yet. But it’s a comparative literature class involving the works of Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston. Again with the wrist-slitting.


Friday is my script analysis class, which is laid out sort of oddly. There are five sections, all five of which meet at once in a large group in a lecture hall. There, the professors tag-team and teach something that, I assume, will be suited to their own strengths. Then, we break into smaller groups of about 15 (which correspond to the sections) in regular classrooms.

I spent many hours finagling my way into a class with my Screenwriting I professor, much to the chagrin of the other students in the class. Seriously, I can understand the manic hatorade they throw at me for happening to know the professor prior to this class, but hey, it happens. I feel the same way they do when I’m in a class where the professor knows students, and they compare notes and sly little inside jokes.

I know this is the dirt you’ve all been waiting for, but unfortunately, there are only three attractive girls in any of my five classes.

The good news is that I’m kinda-sorta seeing a new girl. It’s entirely possible that I will stop my distrubing, drool-filled entries that mostly involve me leering at friends who do not see me—and whom I, by all regards, should not see—in a sexual manner.

Also, I’ve mentioned this, but I cannot stress enough how every human being on the planet needs to see American Splendor. <schwarzenegger>GO. NOW.</schwarzenegger>

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Tiny Reviews

I spent most of this weekend at the movies with Gina. Here are my thoughts on the four movies we saw.

Matchstick Men—Good, but not nearly as good as I thought it would be. I thought the book was tremendous, but the movie lacked a lot of what I liked about the book. Oh well. I’d still recommend it, but I’d recommend the book first. (Also, it isn’t just “OMG BOOK SI BETTAR” snobbery. Gina, who hasn’t read the book, agreed with the various problems I had with the movie.)

Anything Else—I thought it was really funny, although at times it seemed a bit like Woody Allen was trying to remake Annie Hall. Christina Ricci was not as irritating as she seemed in the trailer. Allen’s wit is as sharp as ever—I just wish he’d used it in his last two movies, which were sort of tedious and humor-free.

American Splendor—One of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It’s not Manhattan, the movie by which all others should be measured in terms of overall quality, but it comes pretty damn close.

Lost in Translation—I thought it’d be funnier, but if it had been funnier, it wouldn’t have been as good. I’m pretty much echoing what every other critic on the planet is saying, but it’s nice to see a movie that isn’t designed for people with ADD. It’s also nice to see a movie where a man and a woman can have a complex and meaningful relationship without them leaping into bed together. Mostly, it’s just nice to see movies where characters drive the plot.

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Ultimate Purity Test

Your Ultimate Purity Score Is…
Category Your Score Average
Self-Lovin’ 36.7%
When I think about you – or anyone – I touch myself
Shamelessness 92.9%
Has yet to see self in mirror
Sex Drive 39.5%
I got needs, baby, you gotta unnastan’!
Straightness 19.6%
Knows the other body type like a map
Gayness 100% 83.1%
Fucking Sick 89.4%
Refreshingly normal
You are 63.94% pure
Average Score: 72.5%

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Friday Five (22)

Friday Five

1. Who is your favorite singer/musician? Why?
Juliana Hatfield. In the immortal words of vende††a, “This Juliana Hatfield music makes me want to paint the face of my best friend, braid her hair and gossip about the cute boys in town, no wonder stan loves it.” Makes sense to me.

2. What one singer/musician can you not stand? Why?
So many to choose from…so many reasons for hate…

3. If your favorite singer wasn’t in the music business, do you think you would still like him/her as a person?
Yes, she’s incredibly pleasant to be around.

4. Have you been to any concerts? If yes, who put on the best show?
I’d say the Juliana show I went to last year was the least unpleasant, which is probably because I like her best.

5. What are your thoughts on downloading free music online vs. purchasing albums? Do you feel the RIAA is right in its pursuit to stop people from dowloading free music?
The RIAA’s alienating music fans, definitely. A few years ago, the big defense for pro-Napster users was that they only downloaded to sample music. If the music was good, they’d go and buy the album. That was and is still the way I do things, but I’ve become the minority. The RIAA’s horrible PR nightmare of a fight to prevent the horrible piracy of music has ruined them moreso than if they had just ignored Napster and the other peer-to-peer programs.

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Friday Five (21)

Friday Five

1. Is the name you have now the same name that’s on your birth certificate? If not, what’s changed?

2. If you could change your name (first, middle and/or last), what would it be?
I wouldn’t change my name.

3. Why were you named what you were? (Is there a story behind it? Who specifically was responsible for naming you?)
They had to call me something. I don’t recall there being any sort of story about it.

4. Are there any names you really hate or love? What are they and why?
Honestly, I don’t put a whole lot of stock in names. Names are names; unless you’re writing a book and are one of those irritating authors who names characters becaue it means something very deep and interesting about the character, our names don’t mean shit (to steal from Quentin Tarantino).

5. Is the analysis of your name at accurate? How or how isn’t it?
I think it’s overwhelmingly accurate, but a cursory investigation of the site reveals that they have about six different name profiles that they seem to almost randomly assign to the names. This leads me to think that, while it may seem accurate for me, that’s pretty much a fluke.

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The Love Switch

Title: The Love Switch

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Length: 5:29

Specs: 16mm, color, post-sync sound

Synopsis: After his release from a mental institution, an unstable young man falls in love with his light switch.

Commentary: This is the only student film I made that doesn’t embarrass me. I think it holds up, although I’m not a fan of the poor match cuts in the opening scene (my backyard doesn’t look nearly as much like a public park as it should, but my star—rightfully—refused to shoot in the park with a blow-up doll duct-taped to his junk).

Click the image to download (MP4, 640×480, 1.5Mbps).

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Junior High

In working on this novel, for about the past four weeks or so, I’ve been channeling the me that existed way back in junior high, much like Zack Morris did during those very special episodes of Saved by the Bell that featured Ms. Bliss, portrayed by Hayley “I’m still really hot despite reaching middle-age” Mills. I’ve come to one definite and probably obvious conclusion: I was completely and utterly obsessed with sex and drugs.

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Wow, I finally got my films online.

Abuse: The Movie — I was not so impressed with this one. What set out to be a parody/satire of the really shitty experimental films I’ve seen lost most of its edge when a couple of extremely important shots didn’t come out and the narration ran too long. Now it looks and sounds just like a regular really shitty experimental film.

Oh well. My professor thought it was funny.

The Love Switch — I really liked the way this one came out, and it’s one of the few things I’ve done at Columbia that I’m even remotely proud of.

I apologize in advance for the poor quality. I dubbed it from VHS using the Dazzle DV-Bridge, which would really be a neat thing if my VCR didn’t suck ass. Needless to say, there’s lots of analog hum, audio clipping, and random blurbies on the video. But, hey, it’s the best I could do.

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The Honey Offensive

I got stung by a bee the other day, and there’s a pretty simple reason why: we have a honeybee problem.

That’s right, Casa de Stan has been infested with honeybees who have taken it upon themselves to congregate around the bushes near my office. There are some minor cracks around there, which is more than likely how a honeybee made it under the house, through an air duct (or possibly through the hole in the floor we ran Ethernet cables through), and into the office to caress my inner thigh and then sting my hand.

After a brief family meeting, we came to a unanimous conclusion: the honeybees must die.

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The Sting

This afternoon, I was sitting in my office, strumming my guitar, and I felt like my shorts were riding up strangely. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was, so, like anybody, I grabbed at them to pull them back down. There was a slight, strange bulge. What I was feeling was not my shorts.

Then, I felt a prick.

I was touching a bee.

It stung me.

I immediately shrieked like a woman and ran across the house, shouting incoherently about a bee stinging me. It took me a few seconds to realize that pain was blasting through the middle finger of my right hand. A surprising amount of pain, all things considered. I’ve never had a bee sting before, and I had been given the impression that, yeah, they suck, but they don’t hurt all that much.

This impression was inaccurate.

I tried several bizarre home-remedy tricks to solving the bee sting crisis: baking soda mixed with water applied to the afflicted area, followed by allowing liquefied aspirin to absorb into the skin around the sting. Neither worked, so I iced it up for a good three hours or so. It still hurts, though not as badly. It’s mostly just annoying the piss out of me, and I have to type with one hand.

One good thing has come of this: I’ve always been afraid that I’m allergic to bee stings. I don’t really know, since I’ve never been stung, and one could argue that if I did get stung and was allergic, I would probably not be around to tell this story at the moment. So, I guess that’s good to know. I will add this to the very short list of things in nature that won’t make me die.

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