Monday, December 20, 2010



I have moved. If not permanently, then semi-permanently!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Daily Dose of Beauty, October Edition

I'm growing less and less fond of the whole review-everything-you-encounter attitude of the blog, so I might be veering towards more autobiographical and random stuff for a while, at least until I make my transition to tumbler... probably in the next two months or so.
Until then, some cool stuff:

1. Apparently this is a coffee shop in Bryant Park called D'Espresso. How cool! Those are very photorealistic tiles, not actual books, but it certainly gives me an idea for future decor.

2. Awesome!

3. Newly-discovered favorite webcomic Hark A Vagrant (gives me great ideas for when I start my own... someday...) My two favorites:

Bahahah Byron.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Life v. PhD Comics

How, 1.2 months into my graduate career, my life already mimics PhD Comics.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Well, my roommate mostly made it. Ok, it was like, 2/5 versus 3/5 effort. But seriously, this was the best pie ever. So pictures are, of course, necessary. Since coming to grad school I've had more time on my hands than expected, so I'm also taking a dance class, biking around, in a film studies workshop, and have time to cook for myself for once. But wow, this Apple Pie.

Hooray fall!




Ooooh yeah. It was that good. Served with vanilla ice cream! (Edy's, of course)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

New favorite Summer/Fall 2010 movie!

Teen comedies. I love them. So much. Almost as much as a detest rom-coms. But Teen Comedies (and the best of the Apatow posse) usually end up 5-starred on Netflix. Why? It's perfect entertainment. Sharp, witty satire, usually surprisingly good cinematography. Easy A was one of these movies. The top critics almost unanimously loved this movie, while the audience was more hesitant (96% versus 85% on rottentomatoes, last time I checked). Why this slight, but still statistically significant, difference? Easy A was a meta-film, constantly referring to every other teen comedy that inspired director Will Gluck. At one point Olive Pendergast (Emma Stone, definitely one of my favorite teen heroines.) even says, emphatically, "I wish my life were an 80s movie. But I am not John Hughes." Following this statement, and dispersed liberally throughout the film, are very non-discreet references to other 80s movies-- Sixteen Candles, Say Anything, Pretty in Pink, and, especially, Ferris Bueller's Day Off. (I won't add a spoiler describing the brave and incredible way in which Emma Stone gets her own Ferris Bueller moment!)

In fact, Easy A seems like an improvement or every other great teen dramedy. The characters (perhaps excepting Amanda Bynes's bible-freak cheeseball character) are complex, interesting people, in the same way that they are in Apatow films at their best. Except this time, it's a female who has the most interesting personality-- caustic, witty, and nonchalant, with a gruff voice and perfect comic timing. And very realistic-- I have friends like Emma Stone to this day, and I certainly had friends clever enough to be Emma Stone in high school. I'm glad to see teenagers portrayed as self-aware and adultlike, rather than broody, stupid, and schizoid.

What can I say? Maybe I have bad taste. Maybe I'll secretly always be an angsty 15-year old. Or maybe I just know a pretty great movie when I see it. Watch and see for yourself (especially if you're a John Hughes-o-phile). SO MUCH RECOMMENDED.

p.s. another reason to see this film: lit references. LOTS OF THEM. Get ready to remember reading The Scarlet Letter senior year of high school, and liking it. Prepare for nostalgia!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Daily Dose of Beauty, Rainy Day Edition

1. Raining in Boston and I'm feeling lazy. Watching this movie on cable. One of my absolute favorites! Now, there are movies you 5-star on Netflix out of sheer guilt, and then there are favorites, and this film is definitely the latter:

Sweet Smell of Success, 1957. Best dialogue of any film that I've ever seen.

2. Not sure where this is from; found it randomly inserted in a street style website:

3. Sanrio + Doc Marteens collaboration? Yes please! (I want these shoes)

4. I am in love with this-- the idea of vines indoors, framing a doorway. Might do that myself! This is from another street style website. Once again, I forget which. Next time I should write the sources down, it would certainly help with some sort of copyright infringement.

Also, I'm considering switching to Tumblr because the picture quality and editing process in blogspot is a little wonky. Any suggestions, please let me know.

Later days,


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Secret Fashion Icon

Scout, from To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

-Plaid shirt
-Converse high-tops
-Short hair

No wonder my guy friends say I dress in lesbian-chic!

Regardless, I am UNASHAMED about my love of overalls. Ideally I would like to buy a grown-up, fitted pair (rather than the Osh Kosh B'Gosh ones that are a *male* youth size XXL, bought for $3 from a Chicago thrift store)... but alas, must wait for ideal circumstances (also known as my next paycheck!).

p.s. Gregory Peck? Preeetty handsome. Mmmhm.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Movies We Live With

I started off detesting my film class, but I've realized that there's no reason silently seething in the second row, refusing to do unnecessary assignments and unconsciously hating all the readings when I do them, when I could instead try to find ways to enjoy it. So I spent the weekend reading Michel de Certeau's The Writing of History, which only gets good in the 8th and 9th chapters, and began to start liking it. And then, just a few minutes ago, upon watching The Sound of Music for, oh, probably the thousandth time, I remembered something Professor Conley said about "living with" films, and how there are films, and films we live with, that we watch tens, hundreds of times, films we've seen often or which have just had a remarkable impression, etc. It made sense to me, and it especially makes sense now, sitting on the couch, watching a movie that never fails to arrest my attention for its full 174 minutes.

So, I present:


*: definitely seen over 10 times
**: definitely seen over 30 times

The Sound of Music, 1965**
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1971
Breathless (A bout de souffle), 1960
Contempt, 1963
Grease, 1978
Citizen Kane, 1941
The Godfather, 1972
Juno, 2007
Trainspotting, 1996*
Matilda, 1996**
Forrest Gump, 1994**
Hans Christian Andersen, 1952
Gattaca, 1997
Pink Floyd's The Wall, 1982
Fight Club, 1999
Hook, 1991*
Tootsie, 1982
Doctor Zhivago, 1965**
Office Space, 1999
Mary Poppins, 1964*
The 40-Year Old Virgin, 2005
Amelie, 2001**
American Beauty, 1999
The Big Lebowski, 1998
My Fair Lady, 1964*
Requiem for a Dream, 2000*
Meet Me in St. Louis, 1944**
The Matrix, 1999
The Fox and the Hound, 1981**
Donnie Darko, 2001**
Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 1975*
Oliver & Company, 1988**
2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968
Moulin Rouge, 2001**
A Clockwork Orange, 1971
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004*
The Parent Trap, 1998**
Edward Scissorhands, 1990
The Lion King, 1994**
The Ten Commandments, 1956
Bring It On, 2000*
Lassie Come Home, 1943*
American Pie, 1999*

Make lists of your own! It's great fun.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Updates from Grad School

<----I live next to this building! Gah!

Friends! A blog post is long overdue. Unfortunately am slightly hungover so any extensive abstract reasoning isn't really in the works right now, but I'm in list-mode right now, so:

-Left my aMAYzing internship at the Art Institute of Chicago to move halfway across the country to Boston. Or, more specifically, Cambridge, Massachusetts, its prettier, cobblestoned cousin.

-Moved into floor 2 of a beautiful yellow building on the northeast side of
Harvard Square, whose first floor is a Bed and Breakfast. Walked 5 miles (to, from, and then again to and from) Target to buy $7 sheets.

-Immediately, upon purchasing sheets, took the Chinatown bus to New York to say goodbye to the city, and maybe enjoy it for once?

-Enjoyed New York. In fact, probably enjoyed New York more than I've enjoyed it as a resident of New York. Realized homework and stress makes me hate things. Also being 21 helps.

-Found myself in New York during rainy 60 degree weather with nothing but a t-shirt. Promptly became ill because of my insistence on not buying a sweater just for the purpose of a few days in New York.

-Arrived back in Boston lacking a voice. Regardless, maniacally looked for possible classes to take and revamped by 2-year class schedule over a hundred times (not an exaggeration!!!)

-Met some cool people, many interesting friends-of-friends, etc. So far everyone has been incredibly friendly! Bodes well for the next, oh, 7-ish years of my life? If not more?

-Orientation! Yes, GSAS orientation, in which the take-home message was "HAVE FUN. Leave your room once in a while," and, "Regardless of what you might think, you DESERVE TO BE HERE. You are BRILLIANT." Eye-roll. I might be lacking in intellectual self-confidence, but I will quite happily take John Harvard's money. Hey, it could be some incredibly wealthy old Bostonian family instead of me (like the ones who have a slightly British rich-peoples accent in old American noir films). Hip hip hooray for social mobility.

-Saw a mediocre Rohmer rom-com at the Harvard Film Archive, and was told that Harvard students get in for free to see ANY films at the Archive. Oh good lord, infinite free movies? In a MOVIE THEATRE? That I don't even WORK IN?

-Classes! Probable list of courses:
1. Comparative Literature-Proseminar (w/ Damrosch)
2. Film and Visual Studies Proseminar- History (w/ Tom Conley)
3. Elementary Japanese
4. Literature, Art, and Exile (w/ Svetlana Boym)

It has just occurred to me that professors, like many organizations, probably track every time their names are mentioned on the internet every day to see what people are writing about their work, so I'll reserve judgments and trashtalk for later posts and will use pseudonyms. Let it be known that I'm least excited about the film class, for once, and incredibly excited about the others! I'm going to do a Secondary Field in Film and Visual Studies, so the film class is unfortunately necessary. Gosh, it just sounds so unnecessarily pretentious from the first class. It also made me late for Japanese. Points off!

-Oh! I forgot. Somewhere in the midst of this orientation/class hullabaloo I managed to build my own desk and bookshelves! Well, assemble is more like it, but it was quite complicated! It had pull-out drawers and a lock and things. I feel like I've birthed a child. Or like a Sim 2 character who read a "mechanical" book and had the little green bar fulfilled, thus learning a valuable life skill, like how to not electrify yourself while plugging things into outlets. I am a successful Sim 2 character! hurrah!

All for now. Later days!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lollapalooza Day 3

By Day 3, I was exhausted. After seeing the Room the night before (of course, days and nights don't end with Lollapalooza! Night 1 I went to my friend Jenny's Hotel Hilton party, and Night 2 was a midnight screening of the campy cult classic The Room), I was pretty beat and began the day at the ripe hour of 3:15 PM, when I finally arrived at Grant Park to wait for Yeasayer to start their 4 PM set. Unfortunately, it seems that the bulk of kids at the front for Yeasayer-- one of my favorite bands of the year--were only there for MGMT, playing a bit later in the afternoon. Although Yeasayer played wonderfully, the crowd was only mildly enthusiastic.

Regardless, Yeasayer played a pretty good show. ESPECIALLY in comparison to MGMT, who, although playing all of their best songs, are permanently BANNED from my music library now (well, not really, but practically banned). Now every time I listen to "Kids" or "It's Working," I think of what is definitely the DOUCHIEST CROWD I have EVER seen, encountered, or heard of at a show. And when I capitalize my letters, you know I mean business. Talk to me about it in person... I have a pretty ridiculous story about telling off an incredibly sexist jerk standing right next to me. Ugh.

After MGMT, I was in a foul mood. The adrenaline rush that I got from yelling at the aforementioned MGMT fanboy, coupled with crowd surfers continuously falling directly onto my head (concussion?), and the bizarrely oven-like overcast weather, was... troubling. It was a balmy 89 degrees, but with the humidity it felt much higher. I felt myself fading in and out of consciousness, and my eyes glazing over and occasionally being unable to focus. Slowly I began to realize that I was getting heat exhaustion. I made my way out of the crowd before "Kids" came on as their second-to-last song.

After a half-hour or hour or so of sitting quietly on the grass and shoving food into my mouth (since technically standing up is exercising, and since exercising keeps one from wanting to eat, nobody ever wants to eat at music festivals because their bodies trick them into thinking they don't need it, when really their blood sugar is falling to near-dangerous levels), I felt a tiny bit better and wandered over to the National. I couldn't quite brave walking into the intimidating crowd, so I stayed behind the sidelines. It was then that I realized how much I love the National, and how depressed and angsty their songs make me. I resolved then and there never to see the National live again, regardless of how much I love them.

It's too bad I felt ill, because apparently this was actually a great show; the lead signer walked into the crowd at the end, and reappeared to sing the last song! And threw wine all over the audience! Silly heat stroke, or heat exhaustion, or whatever it was.


Unfortunately I couldn't get a good enough picture of the headliner of Day 3- Arcade Fire. By that point, I had mostly recovered my senses, but I was still relatively exhausted. Had I been at full capacity I might have wormed my way to the nearish front, but decided to stay closer to the middle. It surprised me how many people love the Arcade Fire, and all types of people-- bros, hipsters, old men, old women... but especially bros. Not that there's anything wrong with bros.

Arcade Fire began the set with my favorite song off the new album, the Suburbs (#1 album in America, weirdly enough!), entitled "Ready to Start" (how appropriate!) and then went into my favorite Arcade Fire song EVER-- "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)". They played every great song that they had, and of COURSE ended the set with "Wake Up," the song from the album Funeral which was used in the Where the Wild Things Are trailer, which probably got them unprecedented popularity.

Lolla ended with the crowd ambling out of the park at 10 PM, singing the chorus to "Wake Up" on Columbus Drive, Monroe Street, and Michigan Avenue... a fitting ending to a jam-packed, ridiculously dirty, smelly, painful, but exhilarating Lollapalooza.

Lollapalooza Day 2

You'll notice that with each day, my number of pictures decreases. This is mostly due to tiredness and consequential lack of interest in picture-taking. Sometimes, though, the crowd was simply too CRAZY to bother to take a good picture! (This is, by the way, always a good sign. Nothing screams "boredom" like endless concert photography)

Saturday, surprisingly, ended up being my favorite day by far. If looking at the schedule alone, I would never think to buy a one-day pass for Saturday. But the weather, the fans, the shows, the friends... it was one of the most perfect days! Awesome.

First up, GOGOL BORDELLO, probably my favorite band EVER. They stand for everything I find interesting and true and I believe in their message wholeheartedly (great interview with Eugene Hutz, lead singer/guitarist, here)!


Then Metric, now my SECOND favorite band! Well, ok, maybe THIRD, behind the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who, now that I think about it, probably tie with Gogol Bordello. But Emily Haines, the lead singer, has almost as much rock star quality as Karen O. They're a little more pop punk and a little less punk than the YYYS... a little sweeter, a little quieter at times, but fantastic. They also played every song I loved by them (including Dead Disco, my absolute favorite), and Haines, aside from being gorgeous, was very charismatic on stage! The crowd was also pretty much perfect. A wonderful show.

Spoon, however... ehh. I'm not sure. They're a little above my head. I feel the same way about them that I do about My Morning Jacket... good, occasionally catchy music, but I can't fall head over heels in love with them the way I do with bands such as Metric. Maybe they're a little more subdued than I'm used to?

Green Day was the headliner. I was surprised to find that I knew about 90% of the songs they played, and the chorus of almost every one of those songs!! It's strange how much we remember from high school. An incredibly fun show, even though by this point my friend Ben and I were so excited that we drifted around in the back, sitting and stretching on occasion. Hey, standing up for 11 hours in a row is hard!

A view of the pretty ridiculous(ly awesome) set, which included a faux skyline, televisions, and crazy amounts of pyrotechnics, including fireworks... and these, intentionally! They also did a great medley which included the "I Can't Get No (Satisfaction)", "Shout!", and "Hey Jude," my favorite part of the evening. They played all the way up until 10:15, and therefore had to probably pay tons of Chicago fees since all of the artists are supposed to end at 10 PM sharp.

Lollapalooza Day 1

All photos taken from my Blackberry... forgive the quality!

Day one began bright and early, a little after noon, to catch the last bit of Balkan Beat Box. Balkan Beat Box: Most Fun Early Set, Even Without Knowing the Songs Beforehand

Then, in the afternoon, Semi Precious Weapons, a "garage glam" band that were INCREDIBLE, and who open for Lady Gaga when she tours. She even had a surprise appearance during the show, singing part of one of the songs and rocking out behind the stage! I couldn't catch her, unfortunately, over the tirade of cameras.
Semi Precious Weapons: Most Awesome Newly Discovered Band at Lollapalooza

Then, the Dirty Projectors: Most Disappointing Live Act at Lollapalooza.
The Projectors are more like music for musicians rather than music for the mainstream. I had an odd feeling that my ears were not sensitive enough for the Projectors, even though I loved Bitte Orca...

And of course, the Black Keys: Most Reliably Good Act
Oh man did I love their rendition of "Tighten Up" live. That song is pure sex. My friend Kirsten called the Black Keys "stripper music" once and I totally agree.

Closeup of Dan Auerbach:

And, of course, Lady Gaga!
Lady Gaga: Most Awesome Over-the-Top Spectacle of Madness

"Scream for me, little monsters!"

Halfway through the show fireworks spontaneously started going off behind the stage. I assume it's coincidental, but it sure looked pretty cool!

Overall Gaga was a great show. I can certainly understand why someone would pay more than half the price of a Lollapalooza ticket to see her... about 10 costume changes and plenty of ridiculousity, including an appearance with Lady Starlight in which both of them danced to a Metallica song and lit hairspray on fire. That was my favorite moment... it showed a Gaga before Gaga, when she was starting out as a music fanatic trying to make it in the industry.

Lady Gaga's appearance at Lolla also had added significance... she played here in 2007, back when she was a brunette, at one of the smallest stages, and left the audience stupefied. Literally, stupefied. No clapping, no enthusiasm. Just... awe, at this completely weird chick in a disco bra singing strangely catchy pop songs. And to be one of the most popular headliners at one of the most popular festivals in the country... well, that's pretty awesome. Go Gaga.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Artists! Poets! Craftsmen!

Spent the morning translating an incredibly cool Soviet TASS newsreel circa early 1942-ish (we're not quite sure of the date) for the AIC. GREAT fun! It's more difficult than you'd imagine, since the text isn't written, and therefore you're kind of screwed if you don't know how to spell a certain word. Regardless, here's the result, which I'm pretty proud of, and am mostly putting it up here for record purposes so I don't have to keep sending myself emails that I never open. Also, Lollapalooza pictures and details coming soon!

Newsreel Translation

Key: Bolded words are written out on the screen; all other words are spoken.

0:00-0:03 “Artists of the Capital City-Red Army.” Cinematographer: B. Makaseiev*

*last letter is cut off, says “Makaseie” on screen but probably should be “Makaseiev” since Boris Makaseiev was a famous documentary cinematographer at that time

0:07-0:12 The Studio of Moscow Artists prepares new TASS Windows

0:20-0:25 The artist Sokolov-Skalia creates a poster about the two Battles of Borodino

0:37-0:44 The subject of artist Aivazian’s poster is the victory in Moscow’s surrounding area

0:55-1:02 The artists will take their new work to the Front as a present to Red Army soldiers

1:03-1:09: Smashing satire – on the enemy!

1:10-1:21 Following the example of Poet Vladimir Mayakovsky's infamous ROSTA Windows, the Moscow poets and artists of the Great Patriotic War create TASS Windows.

1:22-1:28 During the Civil War a new style was born of precise and crushing caricatures and formidable, apt poetry.

1:29-1:36 TASS Windows, falling into the category of war posters and pictures, are as sharp as bayonets.

1:37-1:41 (reading the Alphabet poster aloud) Shchorse** beat the Germans in the Ukraine, they won't be spared, not even now!

**last name of famous Red Army general from the Civil War

(end reading the posters aloud)

1:50-1:59 Yet another instalment: the artist Savitsky finishes up a painting representing the daring attack of the Red Soldier-Horsemen on the fascist hordes

2:00-2:06 The artist Goriaev threw his poster-bayonets to create a caricature of the bandit and cannibal- Hitler!

(Художник Горяев плакатнaми штыками набрoсал карикатуру на опера бандита и людоеда Гитлера!)

2:10-2:16 The talented group of friends, famous by the name Kukriniksy, the artists Kuprianov,

2:16-2:18 Krylov,

2:19-2:21 Sokolov

2:27-2:34 With the sharp sting of their caricatures, they are helping to annihilate the enemies of our motherland.

2:50-2:52 (reading the poster aloud) The Fuhrer is getting ready for a long journey

2:52-2:54 To pin a cross onto his chest

2:54-2:56 But only one is yet unseemly

2:57-3:00 He'll get a cross from us as well!

3:01-3:04 The fascist operations… with vodka

(end reading posters aloud)

3:05-3:12 The Soviet people have already begun to love the TASS Windows, which mirror their deadly hatred of fascism.

3:13 Artists! Poets! Craftsmen! Sharpen your battle weapons for the complete destruction and annihilation of the enemy!

(all text copyright Julia Alekseyeva 2010)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lolla Tips!

Tomorrow's the first day of Lollapalooza 2010, officially my third Lolla in a row, officially my second three-day pass to Lolla in a row. Huzzah! Now, I may not be the coolest person in the world (read: NERD) but I do know my music festivals, especially music festivals in Chicago. Actually, Chicagoan music festivals are the only music festivals that I know (and usually the only ones I'd choose to pay money for, anyway).

It seems that Chicago magazines (the Reader, Time Out Chicago, the Red Eye) are very fond of making "what to bring" and "what not to bring" suggestions for Lollapalooza. These, I quickly discovered, are not complete lists, as they cater to out-of-towners ready to sacrifice a good time for looking good. Not good enough for me! THUS, I present to you:


-No nice clothing. Nothing nice, actually. Nothing that you wouldn't mind losing, i.e. no fancy earrings, necklaces, etc. Things can get ugly, by which I mean awesome. By which I mean: keep your precious jewels at home and stop complaining.

-Hydration. I spent last summer's Lolla chronically starving and dehydrated because I was so obsessed with seeing as many bands as I possibly could. Not healthy. I ended quite sick, very disgusting-feeling, and barely able to handle the ridiculous moshpit of 19-year old girls that was last year's Passion Pit show. Bring sealed bottled water. You'll need it.

-Sunscreen (duh)

-NO umbrellas. All music festival guides discuss this issue. But let's be honest here. If you're going to get wet, you're going to get wet. A flimsy piece of plastic isn't much with the occasional torrential rainstorm. Concerts happen rain or shine, so no use hiding in the back and crouching under an umbrella when you can be one of the few front row and center, being deliriously miserable and having a great time.

-Short shorts. Generally, being clothed enough to be decent, but just barely, is good for hot, muggy days.

-No nice (read: workplace appropriate, "designer," etc) purses. They'll get screwed up in the heat and rain, and ruin other concertgoers' experiences if you continuously nudge up against them with a huge leather bag. A small messenger bag is key, or small backpack. Or nothing, if you've got pockets to spare.

-NO SKIRTS. They'll ride up while you're dancing, and unless you're the chill-in-back-with-a-beer type, you WILL have at least a few people seeing your underpants by the end of the night. Not cool.

-(probably) no flip flops. (painful? people stepping on you? losing them in a crowd? all possibilities.) Unless you're six feet tall. In which case, you deserve to get stepped on by myriad combat boots for your ridiculous luck. Us vertically challenged types can only HOPE to sneak a single peek at the hem of Lady Gaga's skirt, and even then it would be on a ten-foot screen.

-some sort of ridiculosity (I know that isn't a word. Something to draw you apart from the crowd, since cell phones often stop working at music festivals, especially one like Lolla, with over 240,000 people in a single small park.

-If you're going to look at merchandise, start early. Things sell out faster than you might think. Last year I waited until the third day to find a t-shirt and only the smaller bands had any merchandise left, and I believe it was all kids sizes. Fantastic. Explore the booths early, before the hordes arrive.

-Perry's, where all the DJs go, is a hilarious and awesome time-killer between big bands. It's like a mini-club within Lolla grounds, except instead of judging you on your lack of high heels and shorts skirts it's full of incredibly stoned people giving you glowsticks and passing around their crappy band's LPs.

-What did I forget? Oh yes. HATS! No fashionable black fedoras, stick to straw and summery. Or bandannas. You know, like the cool kids wear.

T-10 hours til Lollapalooza! Lady Gaga, Yeasayer, Dirty Projectors, Metric, Black Keys, Edward Sharpe, Gogol Bordello, Green Day, Arcade Fire, and MGMT here we come!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Xanga! Total Embarrassment!

Oh man, I was just reminded of Xanga by one of my facebook friends. In high school, or more specifically, from the end of freshman year of high school to the end of freshman year of college (2003-2007), I had a Xanga that I would update very often... at the very least, monthly, but usually, once or twice a week. Everyone who was anyone had a Xanga. It was our way of fighting passive-aggressively, of keeping up social networks without really knowing what social networks were, of writing a diary hoping at least one other soul would understand your angst and realize that it wasn't angst at all. Looking back on how we felt in high school, I can't help but feel a surge of embarrassment for being in a bad mood all the time. I had a pretty good time in high school-- far better than '90s movies would lead me to believe. But aren't the teenage years just so embarrassing?! I just browsed most of the entries for the past 8-ish years and realized just how much incredibly personal and, I think, absurdly obvious information about my personal life existed on the internet with my full name attached. I also wonder how I even got into college with all of this emotional baggage pasted on the internet for all the world to see. Ugh. I wrote about everything from crushes to teachers possibly being crossdressers to my "firsts". I copied and pasted a lot of song lyrics and did many of those ridiculously long, egotistical tests ("100 things few people know about me!" etc). I also used the Xanga as a dream journal before I began keeping one at the end of my freshman year of college (strangely, also the time I stopped using Xanga...) Mostly, though, I ranted. Pretty pretentiously.

It's also odd to see how my music and film tastes developed. Weird to regress from modern times to senior year, when I listened to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs nonstop, to the Cure (I thought I was so cool), to Led Zeppelin, and Tool before that... and the Doors and Bright Eyes... I also seem to have listened to a lot of Pink Floyd and the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack (creepy!)...

Snippets from my 2005-and-younger self:

"Tomorrow I'm getting four TOOL cds! I art rule."

"Mood: Melancholy, as always. "

"And maybe I will got to junior prom. I don't want to, though. If anything, to keep my division teacher company, who will inevitably end up sitting uncomfortably in a corner reading a novel. I guess I'll do the same. Too bad I can't go in ripped-up jeans and an old t-shirt." (NERD)

"I was a neurotic jerk yesterday. But that doesn't mean I had to get punched! Does my shoulder really deserve such a bruise? Ouch. Now I refuse to apologize. Fuckass." (Mean? Angsty?)

And aww, the first entry when I talk about wanting to go to Columbia: "I'm hoping that I'm going to get into Columbia University. It's both an ivy league and an artsy liberal arts school. The best of both worlds. We'll see where I go from there. I checked into it today, and they have coed dorms only! FUN STUFF!"

"Wouldn't it be weird if say... I was in my mid-twenties, and all the sudden someone comes up to me and says, "Oh, yeah, you're God. We forgot to tell you for the past 20 something years, but you are, and you have all these cool powers." Maybe that's why I kick ass at the Sims." Huh?

"There are no more cookies..."

"You have no idea how much I love iambic pentameter...

Or at least structural poetry,

although I love writing free verse and blank verse a lot better.

Usually blank verse.

Tres cool.

But anyways... GO POETRY!" (How to know that 15-year old me has NO IDEA what she's talking about)

"I love being liberal. Except for affirmative action. That shit should die." (I still believe this, but this sounds really strange and very egotistical coming from my old self)

Oh, and then there were the Theorems. I had Theorems. And because I love(d) Oscar Wilde so much, I thought a pretty sweet pseudonym would be Julia Wilde, so I called them my Wilde Theorems. For example: "[Wilde] Theorem 1-1: If a person perpetually claims themself as an intelligent person when it isn't necessary to do so, then they are most likely not very clever (or just plain stupid) to interrupt their conversations with exclamations of "i'm intelligent and don't deserve this." A true intellectual would usually shirk away from praise and, if needed, replace self-gratification with comedy." The more fancy words I use, the less I know what the hell I'm talking about, which is pretty obvious.

This is how most of the entries began: "I had an interesting dream last night… it was trés cool."

When I realized I hated economics after having to study it for Academic Decathlon: "QUESTION: If you could have been working at $24.00 an hour for the two hours it took you to shop for the $59.99 lava lamp, and its ugliness caused your rich significant other to break up with you right before he or she was going to give you a $100 watch, what is the total cost of the lava lamp? I have some problems with this... #5. WHO CARES ABOUT MONEY??? You just got dumped! For a lamp!You're not going to find out the economic cost of the lava lamp! You're gonna bawl your eyes out and empty out 2 pints of Ben & Jerry's!"

Nonsequitors: "Ugh, well, my contacts are messed up.

Funny moment today: (don't remember most of it, but I'll try my best)

(Ginny, Shaina, and I sitting on a front porch outside)

Me: There's an ant on my arm...

Shaina + Ginny: Flick it off.

Me: But it's so cool... so tiny and cute... it's running all over my arm... so tiny... and THEN I SMUSH IT TO PIECES!

Ginny: You are SO sadistic!

Me: ... (The ant doesn't die even after smushing, so I flick it off)

Shaina: You're such a freak!

Me: Says The Shaina...

Ginny: Shaina, she makes a point."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Art Institute Blog Entry!

YES!!! My TASS entry on the Art Institute's blog is up and running as of yesterday! They made the language a little more flowery than it was earlier, which I'm confused about, but the general gist is the same. Huzzah!

LINK TO THE SITE (and nicer image of TASS 1000) HERE

Mightier than the Bayonet?

POSTED BY admin, ON July 28, 2010,

The word propaganda might initially sound pejorative. Propaganda has been historically perceived as a malevolent method of spreading false rumors. But might we also interpret propaganda as a means of providing a nation courage and willingness to fight in the face of immeasurable odds? Such was the task of the Soviet news agency (TASS) window-posters created in the Soviet Union during the Second World War—and such is the content of Windows on the War, a massive exhibition of these “propaganda” posters that will be mounted at the Art Institute next summer.

Propagandistic posters are usually focused on bolstering support on the home front and distanced from the reality of the battlefield. However, the makers of the TASS Windows had a different idea: to use their creative skills as ammunition in the fight against the Germans. Art became a weapon.

The poster above, number 1000, acts as a visual manifesto for the TASS studio. Above the picture is a quote by Vladimir Mayakovsky, the acclaimed Russian Futurist poet and founder of the ROSTA Windows—predecessors of TASS in the 1920s and the inspiration for the TASS Window project as a whole. The quote reads, in translation, “I want the pen to be equal to the bayonet”—a wish visually manifested in this image. We see Hitler being attacked by three bayonets, alongside a pencil and ink pen. In fact, if we follow Hitler’s gaze, he seems to be staring directly at the hands holding these two tools. The artists, writers, and poets of TASS, it would seem, have succeeded—they have “killed” the enemy’s spirit, while boosting the morale of Soviet citizens with this symbolic defeat. Finally, as Mayakovsky wished, the pen and pencil are on equal footing with the traditional weapons of war.

There was a bona fide sense that producing these TASS Windows was as important as being at the front. In the Soviet Union, the artists who created the posters became beloved cultural icons, as important as military generals. They received state medals and great renown for their work. To this day, surviving former Soviet citizens alive at the time of the TASS Windows can name the artists by heart—artists such as Sokolov-Skalya, Solov’ev, Shukhmin, and the Kukryniksy.

Surrounding the production of the TASS Windows are stories of passion, fervor, and intense labor. The artists would gather, regardless of abominable weather or the advancing enemy attack on Moscow, to create a new poster virtually every day of World War II. Not unlike the Red Army soldiers, the artists and writers labored in inhospitable conditions for the sake of the war effort. Because of the cultural importance of these posters and the iconic status of these artists and writers, heroic or wistful cultural myths came to surround the studio as time went on. According to some anecdotes, TASS posters were carried to the Front by the soldiers and were used to intimidate the enemy. Some TASS artists and writers were even driven to the Front itself so that they might absorb the details of war to imbue later drawings with veracity. The artists and writers of the TASS Windows truly felt their art to be one of the most powerful weapons against the Nazi invaders.

–Julia A., intern in the Department of Prints and Drawings

Image: Nikolai Fedorovich Denisovsky and Pavel Petrovich Sokolov-Skalya, Our One Thousandth Blow, June 5, 1944. Gift of the USSR Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries.