Sunday, September 30

Dead Man On Campus

I caught Dead Man on Campus on TV yesterday. I didn't even know the title of the movie until a few minutes ago. Of the actors, the only one I recognized was Alyson Hannigan of Buffy and band camp fame. It wasn't even a big role--as this movie came out in 1998, a year before band camp made her famous. Here, she was the best friend of the lead actor's love interest. And oh, her hair got burned.

A cursory check with the movie's credits in the International Movie Database revealed that the slacker roommate Cooper was played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar, teen pinup from Saved By The Bell, and Josh, the nice boy gone bad, was played by Tom Everett Scott, of the one hit wonder film That Thing You Do.

As far as plot is concerned, this one doesn't have much. Here's the barebones summary from Imdb: "Two college roommates go out and party, resulting in bad grades. They learn of the "if your roommate dies, you get an A" clause, and decide to find someone who is "on the verge" so to speak to move in with them."

Their candidates included a geeky boy who thinks everyone is conspiring against him and a frat boy with a death wish. But my favorite is the British rock star wannabe whom turned out to be a poseur on all counts. "You can't be suicidal if you're into show tunes!" And he was a high school cheerleader too.

The film was billed as "the best college movie since Animal House." Call me geeky, but I personally think another college movie as more qualified. But then again, that's just me.

But forget the plot unoriginality, perhaps the best part of the movie was its opening sequence with its ingenious use of animation, SAT score sheets, human anatomy drawings, etc. In fact, the web site Forget the Film, Watch the Titles tells us to do just that. I missed the first two minutes, so here it is, courtesty of the good folks in YouTube:

Tuesday, September 25

The Great F. Scott

I've been reading a lot of F. Scott Fitzgerald lately. On my desk at home and in school I have Flappers and Philosophers, his first collection of short stories, This Side of Paradise, his first novel, and Malcolm Cowley's A Second Flowering, which is about the "works and days of the Lost Generation."

I've also just finished The Diamond as Big as The Ritz and other stories. (Book # 16) The title story has John T. Unger, who vacations with his a classmate. Percy Washington's family is obscenely rich, and for three generations, his family protects their secret enclave. Trouble begins when John falls in love with Percy's younger sister Kismine. Paradise doesn't last long. Soon enough he discovers what happens to young men who fall in love with young women whose family owns a diamond as big as the Ritz.

One thing which surprised me upon reading Fitzgerald again is not that his stories are mostly long. 20 pages is a bare minimum, which is good for me: my grad fiction class requirement is 40 pages! 40! I have 30 to go. It's that his stories contain chapters instead of the transitions that I've gotten used to in most contemporary fiction.

But what I particularly like about Fitzgerald is that most of the conflict in his stories come from what Malcolm Cowley calls the "Romance of Money." Fitzgerald was never really an out and out Marxist. But the conflict between classes was palpable because they were presented in unbearably real (and often traumatic) situations. He was part of that generation of writers born between 1895 to 1900 and came of age in the Twenties, the Jazz Age, when money, lots of it, could be earned, easily.

His young men on the make work in advertising, business, stocks, entertainment. Success was measured not by what you own, but how big an annual salary you got. These young men partied with and fell in love with debutantes, and to their simple request, "W Y B M A D I I T Y?*" the answer was always yes, why yes!

But the thing was, earned money will never be in the same league with old money. New money flowed, yes, but old money was as solid as a house in West Egg, and those living across could only yearn fitfully for that green light blinking at the dock.

There's also a lot of Fitzgerald floating about in the web. The Guardian has a series on great interviews of the 20th century. Michel Mok's interview presents Fitzgerald a few days after his 40th birthday and four years before his death, as a man "consumed with fear that his name will never be in lights again."

This is the Fitzgerald after the crack-up, echoed in his stories "An Alcoholic Case" and "The Lost Decade," where the protagonist was a weird sort of Rip Van Winkle. He had slept through most of the 1930s in an alcoholic haze. His time has passed and he didn't know how to live in this world anymore.

According to a foreword by Jay McInerney, most people have dismissed the interview as "a hatchet job," but while it was "unseemly," it's also "not unfair." He even says that there's a poignancy to it that Fitzgerald agreed to contribute to his own "depantsing":

What possessed him, you can't help wondering, to expose himself this way? It's as if he has determined to be a representative figure once again, even at the expense of humiliating himself, to reaffirm his significance as a generational totem by portraying himself as an exemplary victim of its faults. What makes this document even more poignant, almost unbearably so, is that Fitzgerald seems to have undervalued the literary achievement that would one day resurrect his reputation, even as it would always remain intertwined with the tragic myth of his life.

*Will You Buy Me A Drink If I Tell You?

Sunday, September 9

Hello Moto: You Suck

I've been a Nokia girl all my life, and almost all my phones suffered the same end: stolen or death by drowning. But I figured, maybe a change wouldn't be so bad. So I got myself a new mobile recently, a Motorola w375.

Here's a YouTube video demonstrating the w375's "capabilities."

I liked the orange one, but it's out of stock. I got a shiny black phone. The first thing I noticed about this new phone was that it made me a slower texter. The keypad takes forever to react, and is prone to moving on to the next letter so I had to be really careful keying things in. There's something to be said about Nokia's very friendly GUI.

Then the battery gives up way too fast for a brand new phone. The w375 is dead after a day and a half. I thought that perhaps I didn't really fully charge it the first time. But hey, no worries. The manual said I could charge it by charging it to a PC via the mini-USB cable. Great.

Until the day I finally had to do just that. I'm far away from home, unexpectedly, and although I carry a big bag, a phone charger isn't in it. But hey, I have DSL, nyahaha. I can look up the phone's manual and charge it via PC. Harharhar.

But the phone doesn't display the "charging" icon and it's asking for a driver. I check the website and says that all drivers should be in the installation package and that the phone's software is already up to date.

Still no go.

Then I check users' forums and find out that I'm. Not. Alone. Read mostly unsatisfied customer comments here.

It turns out that Motorola did not include a set of drivers for the w375. How nifty is that huh?

Hay naku, had I known I would have just bought another Nokia phone and not this one which boasts a camera--crappy and an alternative USB storage device--all 100kb of it.

Hello, Motorola, if you're reading this, it's the first and last time I'm buying a phone from you.