Hmm. That thread-uniting rant may have come off as more accusatory or self-righteous than I intended. If so, just pretend I was being ironic. I'm actually a nice boy with a good heart.
by Ryan Gantz on 1/23/2001 10:12:20 PM | bang on |

High School: I was lucky enough to attend a small private high school, a school not nearly as preppy and high-minded as this boring and unflattering website would have you believe. My graduating class was 21, and the entire population of the school, grades 7--12, was about 170 students during my time there, and has since been capped off at about 200. I was constantly engaged with the community, and as a result blossomed into a Nice, Smart Young Man. I wrote an idealistic essay once about my problems with our country's educational system, and one approach that I believe might work better. Many of my thoughts on education stem from an understanding of what did work in my high school. Sometimes I look back at those years as the good old days, but hell. I'm about as cool now as I was then, I suppose.

Yearbook Quotes: Being one of only 21 graduates, I had an entire page to myself, with content and design of my choosing. I filled it with some photos of myself making funny faces, some artwork, and a whole bunch of hand-written text. The text included a patchwork of lyrics from songs by Weezer, Nirvana, Paul Simon, PJ Harvey, Tom Waits and the like; thank yous and encouraging words for the school; the usual secret code inside-joke scribbles to friends; and the following quote: "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I ... I blazed my own damn path." Can't you just feel the non-conformity oozing out of your monitor? I sure can. I agree that Robert Frost has its place, of course, but I

Cynicism: am suspicious of common expressions, and common modes of expression, and quotes that are commonly used to express modes. I am suspicious of these things in the same way I am suspicious of third grade drawings filled with appropriated images like hearts and rainbows, with a smiling sun tucked into the corner. There must be third-graders who think rainbows are absolutely beautiful and inspiring, just as there must be seniors who feel that The Road Less Travelled captures in divine line their highschool experience. But I can't tell who is sincere, and who is just riding the pop-culture wave, without taking a little extra effort to get to know someone. No one has time to get to know anyone, so we judge people we encounter based on what they say, or how they act, or the things they enjoy. When it comes to my interests, I don't care how many copies my books and CDs have sold, or what anyone thinks my tastes say about me. I will enjoy Nick Drake even if you figure I didn't buy any of his stuff until that Volkswagen ad came out. But when it comes to expression, an aural or visual or textual or musical representation of me, I feel much more determined to avoid phrases or rhythms or designs that have been made common through the media, because the popular connotation of that element detracts from my meaning, even if I intend it sincerely. Fundamentally, this is a control issue. I like to stand out. Enter

Irony: the easiest way to use a common expression and prove to the people reading and listening that you are at least one layer wiser than whatever it is you're saying or writing. And since "irony is only ironic when it's the exception", years of recursive irony have left us pursuing endless twirls of self-reference. I use irony as a defense: I can't even dance naturally to pop music, because I become self-conscious that I'll look like another tall dumb idiot dancing. So I pretend to get really into silly dances. It's easy and fun. The more difficult way out, of course, involves very careful consideration of what you say, how you say it, and who you're speaking to, to ensure that your sincerity is truly sincere.

And sometimes you just gotta get on the floor and dance, ma nigga.
by Ryan Gantz on 1/22/2001 10:43:58 PM | bang on |

I have a number of relationships built solely on irony and cynicism, none so close as to hinder a sincere connection with anyone; I don't want that connection anyway. As for entertainment: irony, as a device and excuse, has worn out its welcome. The atypical occurence being: "That wasn't really horrible, it was pretending to be horrible." Yeah? Well it wasn't funny either. "The Simpsons" have forgotten the simple fact that "you are what you pretend to be" (see Mother Night), so last season's "worst episode ever" was pretty damn close to being their worst episode ever. Irony, like everything, is only ironic when it is the exception.

I am too fond of my cynicism to disparage it. As Nietzsche wrote: "Cynicism is the only form in which common souls come close to honesty." And as such I believe a rational human must approach every topic with a healthy dose of mistrust. But to those who have become too enamored of cynicism, the inability to derive pleasure from anything is not "a healthy dose of mistrust." I know these souls as well; those who will not like anything that sells more than 1,000 copies, because popular acceptance equals refuse no matter what the source.

I guess I'm saying that irony is totally, like, 1995, you know?
by andrew wollman on 1/22/2001 08:30:22 PM | bang on |

Ok, so the high school thing never took off... let's try this. Both my own response to the Frost quote question(I rather like Frost, but instead of defending him, I took the easy shot at being snarky and ironical), and Andrew's "mah niggah" comment got me to thinking. About the high level of irony and arch-cynicism in our culture, popular and otherwise. Is this a good or a bad thing? I mean, on some levels, I love it(I'm a Simpsons fan, after all), but I can't help thinking that it's made enthusiasm and sincerity scarce almost to the point of them not being taken seriously when they do appear. So, what do you think, has the irony and snarkiness gone too far, and thus lowered the potential level of honest, sincere connection between people? Discuss.
by Jared Dunn on 1/19/2001 03:12:23 PM | bang on |

high school: living in cambridge meant I was in the middle of way more diversity, pc-hypersensitivity, and opportunity than most high school kids ever see. my classes were good at best, and at worst they at least managed not to hinder my education. I did science to my heart's content; I was an athlete and a geek and a volunteer; I worked in a harvard biology lab; I was allowed to be who I thought I wanted to be. people accepted me even without any sort of defining image or peer group or purpose. my senior year I even got up on stage in front of the entire school wearing white pleather hooker boots, a sparkly silver miniskirt, and a see-through shirt. which says a lot, I think, given that I was shy and known mostly as the co-captain of the science team.

but in the end, I learned the same things I would have anywhere else, about love and loneliness and pain and strength, not to mention condoms and birth control. so no, I wouldn't go back, not for a million dollars or a million fairy wishes, but I appreciate what it was. it hurt, because being one of two thousand teenagers is going to hurt no matter what, but I am not bitter. how much of that is personality and how much circumstance, I don't know.
by rabi on 1/15/2001 06:10:45 PM | bang on |

The "letter to the world" bit furthers the melodrama in a tip of the hat to Emily Dickinson, and "and so on," as we all know, is a nod to mah niggah*, Kurt Vonnegut.

We had about 350 students in my graduating class, I think, so I guess I'm a little surprised we had so much freedom of expression in our yearbook (though as I mentioned, no one really used it like I did). As for a general high school thread, be warned: don't get me started. I find I always have something to say, some unburied hatchets to wield, regarding my fellow Plymouthians. Perhaps I'll put some thoughts together (and maximize conciseness) before the end of the day.
by andrew wollman on 1/15/2001 01:46:54 PM | bang on |

Drat! We keep having topics that, for whatever reasons, I can't contribute to. So, I'll come up with some of my own(see below.) I didn't have a yearbook quote because I went to a crapass, poorly-funded public high school in a backwards small town in corn country. We couldn't afford no fancy schmantzy letters to the world and whatnot. We just had the standard picture + name + activities, with the added bonus of the picture being in color if you were a graduating senior. I do have a couple of amusing bits in mine though. Like this photo for D.A.R.E. where I looked stoned out of my mind(I wasn't), and the fact that I was the chosen representative for "Alternative" in the cheesy "fashion trends" section.

Mad props on the Emerson there Andrew. He's totally my homeboy, personal philosophy wise. You were way ahead of me as a hs senior. I was still trying to act 'hip" and rebellious by reading Nietzsche, smoking cigarettes, and wearing black occasionally(when I wasn't around my more jockish buddies), but understanding little to none of it at that point. Oh speaking of which, that's a good idea for yet another divergent thread...What was everyone's respective high school experience like? What kind of stuff were you into, what kind of person do you think you were then as compared to now, did you get a lot of shit, or fit in well, (So many of my friends here at school have horror stories. I came through remarkably unscathed, but I was lucky. I'll be more specific later if this takes off.) and so on?
by Jared Dunn on 1/15/2001 02:49:31 AM | bang on |

hey that's good: this is my letter to the world and it is shorter than it should be. can a letter to the world ever be long enough, really?
by rabi on 1/14/2001 11:32:49 AM | bang on |

As promised here is my yearbook text:
It's easy to say that I never loved you all but I managed to cope. I still have the summer to make this "The Best Four Years Of My Life"...Ralph Waldo Emerson said "Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist" It's true. Otherwise you're just a lamb...I wish to thank Joshua, Jason, and Jeanine for shaping me these last four years. Also thanks to Ryan for joining me late in the games. We're about to enter the real world folks, our first frontier, and I know many of us will not make it. Good Luck. It is a comfort to know I cry as I write this; I'll miss this school, mainly because it is the only one I've got. This is my letter to the world and it is shorter than it should be. 'Later AND SO ON.

It seems awfully melodramtic to me now, but then again high school was a maudlin time for me. My earlier joke was mean-spirited, but for the most part I still feel mean-spirited towards my high school class. All the hypocrites that ragged on me for weird haircuts and combat boots my freshman year, were wearing the same things two years later. Despite its heavy tone, I still am proud that submitted it in lieu of a list of pet peeves and activities.
by andrew wollman on 1/13/2001 08:04:01 PM | bang on |

Sure we can! Why just this morning I was saying to my friend that George W. watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon while discussing my righteous yearbook entry with Dick. Actually, once I get someone form home to e-mail my yearbook entry to me, I'll post it here. The year we graduated the "blurb" format was expanded from the classic "Activities, memories, saying, pet peeve, nickname, inocuous drivel" formula to a "whatever you can fit in your allotted space" approach. Everyone continued to use their space as they always had. I decided to write a note to my class (and future self I guess), which included at least one quote, which I do remember: "Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist" - Ralph Waldo Emerson.
by andrew wollman on 1/11/2001 07:54:32 PM | bang on |

heh. the fact that "the road less traveled" is such a well-known poem is sort of ironic, is it not? and you're right, robert frost isn't really that terrible. "birches" is really beautiful, and there are some other ones that aren't bad, either. it's just that ryan's question set us all up for a good hearty round of self-satisfied smirking, and self-satisfied smirking is always a good time.

my yearbook was even sadder than yours, rabi, as we didn't have quotes at all. all we had were blurry, awkward photos of each one of the five hundred of us, with the girls draped in stiff black velvet and the boys in false tuxedo fronts. and for all my quote snobbery, i'm sure that had we been asked for quotes, mine would have been something dumb. it was high school, after all.

also, apparently we are not, in fact, clever enough to multi-task several threads at once. woe is us.

by alison headley on 1/11/2001 06:00:11 PM | bang on |

I'm going to take the less-popular (or maybe just more serious) stance here and say who really cares what they write in their yearbooks, and why is that a good indication of anything, much less the content of their character? (oh, quoting mlk, there's a cliche if I ever heard one. especially this time of year. don't let me graduate!) there is simply not enough space in yearbooks -- at least not if you went to a school like mine with a graduating class pushing 500 -- to be profound, so why bother with anything but the most minimal of expectations? or hey, why bother with expectations at all? let them quote donald duck if they want to.

as for the road less traveled, I'm sure it would be less maligned if it were not so well known. so is that a criticism of the poem, or of society, or neither? robert frost is not my favorite poet, but he's accessible, and there's something to be said for accessible poetry. you have to start simple or you will go mad. and it's not all bad; I do think fire and ice is a gem, although not something I would ever put in a yearbook. besides, who knows, maybe that "all the difference" sentiment is useful in some way to those kids who are used to taking the paved, streetlamped, parkingmetered, billboarded roads through life. it is much too easy to step back and say "ugh that is so shallow and hypocritical and they don't even get it and there is no meaning in popular culture" instead of taking a step closer to try and get near enough that you can see the world from someone else's perspective. as long as they aren't hurting anyone or advocating such a thing, I say give everyone who's been apparently brainwashed the benefit of the doubt.

so what was your yearbook quote? mine was nothing. but then my yearbook was so sad that our quotes weren't under our pictures. instead they were printed all together in a four-page compilation, arranged in alphabetical order by last name. so probably no one would have read mine except the people who didn't know me, and the people who did know me certainly knew that I would find the juxtaposition of myself with a few lines of text inadequate in every sense, unworthy of each other.
by rabi on 1/10/2001 08:54:53 PM | bang on |

Given that the majority of folk who quote "The Road Less Traveled" have, in fact, walked solely down the road so traveled it's paved with billboards, I'd say withhold graduation and administer beatings.
by andrew wollman on 1/10/2001 10:18:50 AM | bang on |

Well, at least they're not quoting like, Eminem or Fred Durst. That puts them ahead of a goodly percentage of our nation's youth at this point. Frost may be kind of cloyingly sentimental and trite at times, but, at least he's like, litriture and stuff. Totally! Fersher. So, I say we let them graduate, but make sure to put something on the dreaded permanent record about the unfortunate incident in question.
by Jared Dunn on 1/10/2001 04:44:34 AM | bang on |

well, is the robert frost quote from "the road less traveled"? if so, graduation should be unequivocally prohibited, as i think we've all heard enough of that "two roads diverged in a wood" nonsense. if the quote is not from "the road less traveled", then it depends on what frost poem it is from, and which quote.

but, generally, no.

by alison headley on 1/10/2001 03:27:45 AM | bang on |

I walked into the Coolidge Corner Theatre to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon without knowing much at all about the film. As such, I had a little trouble getting into the movie at first, and that threw me off. ("Oh, it's, like, subtitled.... oh... people in this world can sort of, like, fly around.") But once I climbed into the movie a bit, I really enjoyed it, despite a distracting girl who was sleeping in a nearby seat. The sets, the crazy-ass action choreography, the camera work, the simple intensity of the characters... all of this gave the movie an other-worldy quality that I found really appealing. If the plot was predictable, it's because classic tales of folklore are usually predictable, since we've heard them so many times. But good stories should still be retold anyway. Particularly if the retelling involves pretty colors and many fast moving limbs.

I figure we're all clever enough to multi-task several threads at once, so let me raise an off-topic question: Should students who quote Robert Frost in their senior yearbook blurb be allowed to graduate? Why or why not?
by Ryan Gantz on 1/10/2001 02:26:14 AM | bang on |

Unfortunately, I can't really get in on the whole movie discussion, as I haven't been to see anything in the theatre since like X-Men this summer. I'm just always so busy in the evenings and way too apathetic when it comes to catching movies whilst they are still in theatres. I rent quite a few, and watch anything good that happens to come on HBO / Cinemax / Etc, but that leaves me permanently around 6 months behind in any discussion of such things. Anyway, from what I have heard from others I really do want to catch CT, HD, Traffic, Quills, Yi Yi, and several others that I can't think of at the moment. I'm sure I'll get around to all of them eventually. Mmmyep.
by Jared Dunn on 1/9/2001 05:34:37 PM | bang on |

See now, I went to the theatre expecting tight action sequences (choreographed by the near-legendary Yuen Wo Ping), and I was surprised to find such a nicely acted, subtle romance between Yeoh and Fat. The cinematography looked great, especially the establishing shots of the different landscapes, almost a live version of Princess Mononoke's forests. I did not expect great dialogue because translations never work correctly, especially from an Asian language into English. Though I must assert, I think CT, HD is more than just eye candy. It is a technically superior re-telling of a classic Chinese story, that simply looks flawless.
by andrew wollman on 1/9/2001 01:15:58 PM | bang on |

i went to see crouching tiger, hidden dragon last week and fell asleep through most of it, due more to sheer exhaustion than sheer boredom. however, i wasn't as impressed with the parts that i did see as others have been. as a moviegoer (oh, ick), i tend more towards dialogue-driven stuff than action as a general rule, so i suppose i should have expected to tire of the fight scenes after only a few seconds, and to think that the general premise was kind of dumb and predictable, and that the dialogue was stilted (subtitles aside). there's no question it was visually stunning, and the acting was good and the sword fighting was well-choreographed and wirework and blah blah blah, but whatever. eye candy dissolves quickly.
by alison headley on 1/9/2001 12:10:51 AM | bang on |

All right then, let's get this thing back in full swing shall we? I finally saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon last Thursday and, though I've only viewed it once, I am fully comfortable with this proclaimation: "Holy Fuck! My life has meaning again!"

True, that may be inappropriate and utterly false, but this movie is not only visually astonishing, the script (at least the translation) is tight and well-acted by Chow-Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, and especially Zhang Ziyi. Basically, Ang Lee (who impressed me with the cool blues of The Ice Storm) has made a generation-defining epic that will outsell any DVD to date when released, and stay on top until the Star Wars trilogy gets that treatment. For those of you who haven't seen it, obviously I urge you to run out to your nearest art house immediately. Those who have, don't you agree?
by andrew wollman on 1/8/2001 01:55:16 PM | bang on |

how about this? i'm open to suggestions...
by alison headley on 1/7/2001 08:44:23 PM | bang on |

that fisty thing got bigger, didn't it? back and harder-hitting than ever?
by rabi on 1/7/2001 06:03:53 PM | bang on |

so now i am hosting, yeah. the new url is http://www.bluishorange.com/gangbang. questions? comments? bitchings?
by alison headley on 1/7/2001 02:58:05 AM | bang on |