Mixtape Marathon

"In vacant or in pensive mood..." I am: Bekah; 24; Law Student / Favorite Things: Carbs (so there!), Johnny Damon, Smiling at babies, Grilled cheese, Comfortable silence / Favorite Supreme Court Justice: Brennan / Favorite Wilson: Owen by an inch / Today's Special: Song: Elliott Smith, "Bled White"; Quote: "You know, there's like a butt-load of gangs at this school. This one gang kept wanting me to join because I'm pretty good with a bowstaff." Please love me: mmbekah@yahoo.com

February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 September 2005
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
And for all you young Catholic athletes out there...this really is too good to be true. That kid is actually tackling Jesus! Please don't neglect to view page 2, featuring ballet, golf, hockey, and martial arts. God is everywhere, children. But he doesn't wear the team uniform.

Thanks for the tip, Mara. You know what I like.

The Classics

Every time I watch Tommy Boy, I have a secret wish. I secretly wish that I'll think it's stupid and boring--that I'll realize that maybe, just maybe, 23 years is too old to find humor in "fat guy in a little coat." I wish that I could watch the m&ms fall into the dashboard and not be moved. I wish I could see Tommy stroke his naughty little pet ("you're naughty"), and not become hysterical. And the "cat-like speed and reflexes," and the "I wish we'd known each other, that was a little awkward," and the "it's called reading, top to bottom, left to right, a group of words together is a sentence," and the old favorite, "Shut up, Richard"...I wait for the day when these shining golden nuggets of comedic brilliance will not amuse me. That day has not yet come. And so, I have reached the unavoidable conclusion that Tommy Boy is timeless. Make no mistake: Tommy Boy is not alone. I would venture to say that there will never be a time when Fletch, Dead Man on Campus, Happy Gilmore, Office Space, Meet the Parents, and So I Married An Ax-Murderer won't be funny to me. This is a short list; it is by no means exhaustive of the movies I could watch over and over and still enjoy. For example, I watched The Breakfast Club a few days ago and was, yet again, impressed by its genius. If you haven't watched it lately, please do so. They just don't make them like that anymore.

Which brings me to my next point. Some people watch a movie once and believe they have gleaned all there is to glean. I think this attitude flies in the face of what makes motion pictures so amazing and wonderful. Just like books, movies can be visited and revisited forever. And just like books, there is a lot that a second, or even third (or, say, 50th if Fletch is concerned) visit can give you that you might have missed the first time. Melissa and I were recently discussing the many virtues of re-reading. Re-reading is almost better than reading an entirely new book, because it allows you to re-experience the joy of an old favorite while at the same time giving you insight into yourself. You can really learn a lot about how you've grown by reading a book again and discovering things you never noticed before. Melissa just re-read Pride and Prejudice and To Kill A Mockingbird. I read The Diary of Anne Frank in 8th grade, and read it again a few weeks ago after visiting her hiding place in Amsterdam. It was an amazing experience, because I was constantly comparing my reactions now to my memories of reading it then. There are so many things I can see in Anne's writing now that I didn't appreciate when I was 14.

There are, however, some downsides to endless re-viewing. I've watched some movies so many times that I start to think the actors are saying their lines wrong. ("Wait, the inflection in Spade's delivery of 'your brain has a thick candy shell' was totally off right there. There should have been much more emphasis on 'thick.' And does Fletch really say 'can I borrow your towel for a sec; my car just hit a water buffalo.'? That's totally not the way he said it before.") With each viewing, I think the acting just gets worse and worse, because the actors seem to be obviously anticipating their lines. Then I realize that I'm the one anticipating the lines and, if I'm not careful, I'm the one saying them too. Ah, whatever. I say them better anyway--after all, I've had a lot more practice than the actors have.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Mama Mia

Just when I thought it wasn't possible, Starbucks has managed to bring me even more angst. (Note that although I use the term "angst," I think you can tell that my anger with Starbucks and everything it stands for has pretty much devolved into general amusement. I don't laugh out loud or anything, but I don't seethe anymore either). On this particular morning, three "working moms" (because, true to Southern bumper sticker wisdom, "every mom is a working mom") are engaged in a lively debate at the table next to mine. What is this debate about, you ask? Politics? Global warming? Prayer in school? Ah, sadly, no. This debate is about pasta salad, and, more specifically, how much (brace yourself) ranch dressing should be included. In addition to this general debate (still ongoing as I write, with no sign of resolution), the ladies were diverted momentarily into a discussion about how funny it was that their kids all said "No peas, mom! No peas!" in reference to their recently served pasta salads. Other previous conversation topics included their sons' love lives, shoe sales, and whether or not someone named Rhoda would be coming this morning.

That will never be me...that will never be me...that will never be me...that will never be me...that will never be me...

...Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Here's a picture of my new favorite beer that I mentioned before. It's called Neubourg, and I read one description that said it comes in a "poncy blue bottle." Funny, right? However you describe the bottle, the beer is very light and smooth and doesn't have a bad aftertaste. I like dark beers too, but this one is ideal for lunch or a refreshing afternoon snack. Good luck finding it stateside, though. The Silver Bullet, although wonderful in its own way, is such a poor substitute for the poncy blue bottle...sniff...

This Time of Year

"There's a feeling in the air, just like a Friday afternoon..." That old Better Than Ezra song is so evocative of fall, isn't it? The first falling leaves, the smell of fireplaces, the feel of a football in your hands. I get shivers when I hear it. In the good old days when I used to make mixtapes religiously, that song was a staple. As Dad would say, "it's been regularly anthologized."

I was just reminded of that song today (despite the extremely un-fall-like weather right now...eew, sweaty) because I'm working out my fall schedule and starting to think about other back to school things, such as how I'm going to deal with some of the scary law students who will be smugly returning from their upper-crusty internships. Anyway, I think I've finally decided which classes to take, and I'm actually (gasp) excited about most of them. Begone Contracts! Sayonara Civ Pro! Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Legal Research and Writing! Here's the current lineup, possibly subject to some tweaking:

Constitutional Criminal Procedure (Investigation)
Environmental Law--Natural Resources
14th Amendment
International Human Rights Law
Family Law

You'll notice, I hope, what's missing: no Business Enterprises, no Income Tax, no Evidence. I'm taking Evidence in the Spring, and I'm taking BE and Tax...never. I don't care what anyone says, I'm not subjecting myself to the horror that those classes would bring me. I'll wait for the bar course. I don't think I'm making a bad decision either. My Criminal Law professor, who also happens to be my legal role model and guru, told me that from now on I should take what I want to take, Income Tax be damned. Her reasoning makes a lot of sense: if you take classes you like, you'll be happier and you'll do better, and people who take the other classes will still have to take a bar review anyway. I like the way her mind works. Especially if it gets me out of taking Tax.

"I haven't seen 'Evil Dead Two' yet," and Other Linguistic Ambiguities

I walked into Spinning today and told the instructor to take it easy on me since I'd been gone for over a month. After class, she came up to me and said, "What were you talking about? You did really well!" Honestly, I couldn't tell if she meant "Wow! I'm impressed by how in shape you are after a month-long hiatus" or "Aw, sweetie, 'A' for effort! You'll get back into it soon! Want a lollipop? I have watermelon, your favorite!" Either way, it was good to get back to the gym, especially because the pastel jumpsuit/chunky mascara girls aren't back in town yet.

Sunday, July 27, 2003
Culture Shock Therapy

Even though I was only out of the country for 3 and a half weeks, I'm having some difficulty (beyond the usual jet lag) getting re-acclimated. I don't want to get all philosophical here (my friends would groan, "oh hell, Bekah's having one of her 'moments' again"), but I just feel funny. I feel as if I traveled in time, or was cryogenically frozen, and now I have to try to fit back into my old life, which seems really far away and really familiar at the same time. When I was on the plane back home, I absolutely could not remember where I'd put the key to my apartment. I knew I'd brought it with me when I went to the airport, but I could not think back to the moment when I'd packed it. It took me forever to find the zipper pouch where the key was in hiding. Now that I'm home, things like driving and setting my alarm clock and going through my cds don't feel difficult, but they feel strange. I know exactly what I'm doing, but I still feel a little rusty and confused--like I'm going through the motions of life without really thinking about them. Like I'm speaking a language perfectly but not understanding what it means. When I was in Amsterdam, I had to really think about everything I did: (Where am I going? What street is this? How do I get to school? What kind of cheese is that in the window? Holy hell, is this beer really cheaper than the water? What is that strange man doing? Is that what I think it is in the window? When is the train?). Here, my hand hits my alarm clock, I stumble into the shower, wander to my car, run errands, park myself at Starbucks...all without a thought. The first day I went through this ritual after being home, I felt as though I'd never left at all. That cryogenically frozen feeling is very strange. Where did those 3 and a half weeks go? What effect did they really have? Will I ever be able to write or think coherently again? Why are Grape Nuts called Grape Nuts? These questions plague me.

Smile, Your Dentist Might Get You a Job

A few days ago, I got an email from my dentist. It was not a blank form-style email informing me that it's time for an appointment. Instead, my dentist actually gave me a legal contact. Apparently, my mom had mentioned that I was studying IP law this summer, and he just wanted to pass on the name of someone he knew who specialized in that area. He also sent a copy of the email to said specialist. Being pretty delinquent with the whole networking thing (wait, a job isn't going to just fall in my lap?), I thought this was incredibly cool. I am definitely going to write this guy. But more importantly, I'm going to make a concerted effort to floss regularly. If I let my dental hygiene slip I just might lose an unexpected foot in the door.

Thursday, July 24, 2003
Europe is Tasty, But I'm Ready for a Nice Warm Slice of Americana Now, Please

My European adventures have come to an end, and, as is always the case with endings, I am left with mixed feelings. Amsterdam, and Europe generally, were wonderful. I met interesting and intelligent people (who also liked to have a good time), had great classes ("great" clearly being a relative term as applied to law school), saw incredible art and architecture, and experienced a beautiful new culture. I saw The Sunflowers, Gaugin's Chair, and Bedroom at Arles (Van Gogh), I and My Village (Chagall), The Death of Marat (David), The Jewish Bride (Rembrandt), Night and Day (Magritte), works by Dutch and Flemish masters, Picasso, Miro, Haring, deWit, Matisse, Pollock, Gauguin, Seurat, Turner, Hockney, Reubens, and many, many more. I saw Anne Frank's secret annex, her actual diary, and the pictures of movie stars pasted to her walls. I saw Brussels' Grand Place and Bruges' canals, Amsterdam's Dam Square and Red Light District, Edinburgh castle, and everything in between. I tasted the most glorious waffles in the world, the freshest mangos and blueberries around, and Greek salads with chunks of feta so big that calling it a salad was almost ludicrous. I ate Malaysian and Indonesian food for the first time, and discovered my new favorite beer, although right now I can't remember its name. Something like Neuberg (it's Dutch and comes in a beautiful blue glass bottle). The list goes on.

And yet, with all of this excitement and wonder, when I touched down last night I was actually somewhat comforted by the "Jerry's Pork and Rib Shack" that greeted me in the airport, along with the small mulletted children and businessmen in cowboy boots. Yes, when the stewardess called me "hon," I knew I was home. You see, it comes down to this: At some point, everyone needs clean underwear. Not "washed with shampoo in a hostel sink" underwear, or even "washed in a shady European Laundromat" underwear, but empirically clean underwear. When your desire for this luxury surpasses your desire to explore the glories of Europe, friends, there is no better indication that it's time to go home. I love my apartment, I love my bed, I love my tea, I love my music, and I love my America. For all its faults, it's definitely home. I will miss those hookers in the glowing red windows though. They're nice girls.

Quick Book Review ("But you don't have to take my word for it!"): Happiness (TM) by Will Ferguson

The premise of this book is essentially "What would happen if a self-help book really worked?" The answer, as you might guess, is total death and destruction, and, occasionally, somewhat strained hilarity. The problem with the book is that Will Ferguson had a cool Vonnegut/Hornby-inspired vision, but couldn't pull the book off the way either of those two glorious writers could have. Ferguson's humor is often too self-conscious and too forced, and he really expects far too little of his audience. For example, one scene involves Edwin (the protagonist) having a typical conversation with his Office Space-style boss. After a particularly infuriating comment on the boss's part, Edwin goes into a completely insane and ridiculous tirade, after which Ferguson assures the reader, "But of course, Edwin didn't really say that. What he really said was..." I mean, give us a little credit! Follow the tirade with a "yes, sir," and been done with it! It's kind of an overdone stylistic device anyway.

Ferguson also has a tendency to write something wry and quite funny, and then spend a paragraph digging himself into the ground, doing the joke to death. If he just had a little faith in the reader's ability to infer some things, he'd be a much more effective writer. For example (last one, I promise), there is a funny line about Edwin being interrogated by the police, while Cats Muzak plays in the background. Ferguson writes something like "Edwin didn't think Cats was part of the interrogation, but he couldn't really be sure." That's funny! But then he kills it with imagined dialogue between the interrogators about turning it up, performing tests, etc. Ferguson constantly explains himself, as if screaming to the world, "That last line I wrote was really funny! What? You didn't get it?? Here, let me show you why it's funny! You see, Cats Muzak is bad. It's horrible and painful, kind of like the interrogation itself. That's why I said Edwin couldn't be sure about whether it was part of the interrogation or not. Get it? Get it?" Oh man, Vonnegut would not approve...and Vonnegut readers should feel duly slighted by this Ferguson character and his inablility to leave well enough alone.

Oh, and he used the phrase "genuinely sincere" without any ironic intent.

Friday, July 18, 2003
Romantic Balconies Yield Not-So-Romantic Views

My exams are tomorrow, so clearly I have chosen today to write one more hurried post. I am very excited to be done with classes, because that will leave me with 3 full days to enjoy the city unencumbered. Before I go begin my night of studying, I just have to comment on the whole balcony, big windows, apartments facing each other thing going on here in Amsterdam. My dorm is right across from another set of buildings, all with huge windows that are always wide open. I am essentially inside of my across-the-way neighbors room when I look out my window. I hear his phone ring, and I can smell his dinner. Now, I'm not a particularly private person, but this is a little disconcerting. It's like I'm in the movie Rear Window , except I don't have a broken leg and I haven't witnessed any suspicious murderer-like behavior...yet. What I have witnessed is a man in a decidedly ill-fitting speedo, an NYU theater student have a "freak out" during which he called his friends "total bitches," and a neighbor with an unfortunate affinity for blasting Mary J. Blige. Not exactly what I would call "quaint," and also not really the best studying environment. But somehow, I will prevail. One of my friends was voicing her nervousness about the exams to someone and he told her that she should probably study, but that it's really just in God's hands now. I know I'm relieved to hear that!

Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Ten Insider Facts About Amsterdam

1. The majority of the population really does whistle while they work. I've never heard so much whistling. Although, come to think of it, no one really seems to work.
2. No one takes credit cards. Not even groceries. It's absolutely mystifying.
3. Every other person you see is American.
4. The babies are cuter than any babies in the entire world. White-blonde hair, pink cheeks, riding in a basket on the front of a bike. I'm getting teary.
5. When you order "beer," they bring you Heineken. Sweet!
6. The people on bikes are damn fascists. It's not safe to walk anywhere.
7. The Red Light District actually has red lights. It's not a figurative description, as I formerly believed.
8. The three X's (XXX) that are all over the city do not represent the rating of adult material. In fact, they represent the three plagues brought on the city, or something like that.
9. No one drinks coffee, but the city has a million "coffeehouses," thus explaining the phenomenon noted in #3, supra.
10. The yogurt is better than any I've ever tasted. Try the apple kind. It tastes like pie.

Thursday, July 10, 2003
Belgium: I'll see your chocolate, and raise you three waffles!

So much to say, so little time to say it. When I arrived in Brussels, I spent the day wandering around the city to the amazing square (the Grand Place) and on all the little side streets. I kept wondering, during all of my aimless travels, how I was getting so lucky in terms of people I asked for directions or for food or help with something. Everyone I talked to seemed so friendly, so willing to deal with my delinquency in the language, etc. And then I realized: I'm not getting lucky; everyone is nice. Even more exciting than that revelation was my discovery that the term "Belgian Waffles" actually refers to the fact that they make lots of incredible waffles in Belgium. They actually sell waffles the way that we sell hotdogs in the US--on the side of the street in wax paper. I simply cannot emphasize their goodness. I serendipitously ran into one of my old friends at my hostel (what are the odds? who goes to Belgium?) and he became a big fan of the waffles too. In fact, we decided that Belgium should use waffles as their new currency. We started thinking in terms of waffles whenever we were faced with the opportunity to buy something: "Oh, I don't know, that looks nice but I think it's about 3 waffles right there." I spent one day in Bruges, a city over toward the coast, and absolutely loved it. Little canals, romantic walkways, amazing buildings. And again, the nice people. And again, the waffles. Nice people and waffles. Mmm.

An American in Amsterdam...

I arrived in Amsterdam on Sunday and immediately liked it, but in a different way. I actually haven't gotten much of a chance to explore all of the major stuff here (like the Heineken tour!) because of this little thing called school. When I signed up for Summer Study Abroad in Amsterdam, I think my brain chose not to process the whole "study" part. This is intense: 600 pages of reading in 2 weeks. 10 classes for each of 3 one credit courses. One class is patent law. Today, the professor drew a plow shank on the board. The boy sitting next to me turned to me with a look of confusion and said, "I don't get farms." Yeah, I hear you buddy. I don't get chloroflorogooglecarbons or whatever most of these cases are about. Luckily, 4 classes are over which means I'm basically halfway there. I've been out several times, and have had a blast, but I've started to become really annoyed with Americans. Just as always happens when people are initially thrown together, people on the program have been traveling in herds. So 20 of us will try to go to a public establishment, and it's loud and obnoxious. People in Amsterdam are much more chill. Except if they're riding a bike, in which case they will not hesitate to run you down, but only after assaulting you with their little bells (since when did bikes get priority over pedestrians?) We did go on a canal cruise (paid for by the law school), with wine and cheese, but the wine caused us to get a little too rowdy to listen to the tour guide. This weekend it's off to Scotland for friendly visits and R.E.M.

Oh, one thing. Europeans are cool and all, but I think it's time for them to really just admit that shower curtains are useful things. If you have a shower curtain, you don't have to buy those annoying squeegees which allow you to sweep all of the water that accumulates in the entire bathroom into the drain. I know the novelty of being able to sit on the toilet while showering is good for some, but I still firmly believe that Europe should just embrace the shower curtain and be done with it. I won't even make fun of them for taking so long to catch on. That is all.

Thursday, July 03, 2003
Luxembourgers and Fries

Ok, I would go into my awful travel story, but don't we all have them? Talking about bad travel experiences always leads to people trying to one-up each other with who had the most absolutely horrendous time. Let's just say my 8.5 hour flight to Amsterdam was doubled, in that I had to spend an extra 8 hours in the airport. I wanted to just get my bag and take the train, but it was impossible. Nothing like airplane baggage issues to make you realize that people and places, at the most basic levels, really are all the same. Anyway, I read almost all of The Count of Monte Christo in the airport lounge, so the day wasn't lost.

I have been in Luxembourg for a day and a night, so here are a few quick thoughts (Luxembourg in 60 seconds) before I head on to Belgium tomorrow:

1. No one understands "Vegetarian," the word or the concept. Everything has to do with sausage...and I mean everything.
2. People still rock out in their cars, only they blast R. Kelly in Smart Cars...those little smooshy 2 seat things. I know they're economical, but that doesn't stop me from laughing at them.
3. "Bars" and "restaurants" look like movie-set versions of bars and restaurants. Very small, very cute, very clean. Try thinking of a bar in America that fits that description.
4. Actually, everything is very clean. Not so much as a cigarette butt on the ground. And I noticed something else. The trash cans are really tiny. So not only is it really clean, but there's not as much of an opportunity to throw stuff away. Does that seem logical? I suppose this country is clean and exceptionally efficient. Fantastic!
5. It's not really all that different from the US of A, except 1) the city is full of gorgeous spired buildings situated on beautiful, picturesque hills and 2) the men wear capri pants. The former makes me wish I lived in Europe, but the latter makes me think twice.