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Showing posts from July, 2012

the shoes look good, but oh god my feet

Just got back from my first honest-to-God casting call a couple of hours ago. I've never been to an open call before. There were open calls in Arizona -- they happened once in a blue moon, and they were all in Phoenix, where I would not set foot unless someone I sincerely cared about was about to die there. Some of the other models there lamented that Boston was a small market. Ha ha, I say. You think this is a small market because you live a train ride from New York City. Try Flagstaff for a couple of years, and tell me what you think of Boston.

[The call was for a company called VienneMilano, and I encourage you to check their stuff out. They import European stockings. I am happy to recommend them, partly because Vienne was there and was a very friendly, professional lady who seems to know what she's doing, but mostly because one of the models from their previous catalog was there helping to run things, and she was wearing a pair of their thigh-highs. Nobody knew this until…
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It breaks my heart to see girls and women setting their sights on one particular beauty ideal, and believing that they're ugly if they don't live up to it. So many of them pick one that it would be physically impossible for them to match -- I don't know if it's some self-destructive impulse that strikes teenage girls, some social forces that apparently pass me by, or just grass-is-greener-ism.

I never ran into that. For whatever reason -- I like to think it was some measure of sense, but it was probably coincidence or stupid luck -- the people I wanted to look like when I grew up happen to be people that I do look like now that I am theoretically an adult. I've always been a big fan of dramatic contrast in photographs, so well-done black and whites fascinate me, particularly silent films and very early pieces of the "snapshot" era. There is certainly such a thing as a well-done piece of Technicolor (I have BPL Faneuil's copy of Robin Hood right now; I…

In the eye of the camera

Turns out, the easier it is to make pictures of you come out pretty, the easier it is to get people to take pretty pictures of you. I still can't decide if that's poetically appropriate, or one of life's little ironies.

If you had asked me when I was fifteen if I'd considered working as a model, I'd have laughed myself stupid. For the first 22 years of my life I was convinced that I was the exact opposite of photogenic. This was because for the first 22 years of my life, I had only ever seen two sets of pictures come out looking at all like me, or at least what people said I looked like in person. One was a set of photos taken by the dance studio where my sister and I took lessons, in costume, in the run-up to a dance recital. (In retrospect, that was a pretty big to-do for a bunch of kids taking dance lessons. I remember very little of it, aside from having the words to a couple of Cole Porter songs lodged permanently in my brain, but the costumes were elaborate,…

It's manual labor with special ritual face paint

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I am sincerely embarrassed to report that I just paid money for a pair of formal shorts. In my defense, I only gave the Goodwill like $5 for them, and I need them for a casting call. The call sheet lists "blazer/shorts" as a required audition outfit, and the only blazer-like thing I own is a black satin number that I got from Charlotte Russe years ago, which my friend Moggie, never one to mince words, described as "some sort of pirate lingerie". (Followed immediately by, "Not that that means I don't want one.") Observe:



[Man, sorry for the crappy camera and camerawork. I totally do not belong on that side of the lens. Also: Apparently I am mostly legs. I don't really see that when I'm just looking in the mirror. Huh. That probably explains a lot of the honking.]

I'm also supposed to show up with a party dress and fancy underwear. Oh, and closed-toe stilettos, 4"+. It's the end of July. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to f…

So, this is where the filter kicks in

One thing you guys don't often get to see is what happens when someone catches my attention and turns out to either be boring as hell, or interesting in a way that, for the sake of my sanity, I don't really care to know much more about.

Decent but ordinary people happen a lot. I looked up Carmine Giovinazzo from CSI: NY at one point, because the glasses are hella cute, and to find out if the "How you doin'?" bit was genuine or a put-on (real -- he's got an accent so thick you can practically see it, but he comes by it honestly, on account of being from Staten Island). He apparently has a band that isn't to my taste, but does produce something Pinocchio could characterize as "music" without any nasal growth.

Angie Harmon does a creditable job as Abbie Charmichael on Law & Order and now as Jane Rizzoli on Rizzoli & Isles, but is a Texas Republican and doesn't appear to have done anything of intellectual note. Her costar on R&I -- f…
One of my message boards is having a discussion on why smart kids are so socially awkward. Smarts are treated differently from a lot of supposedly positive social deviations. People might encourage you to stop drawing so much attention to your looks or your money, but they don't generally tell you to actively hide it like they do with brains. I have actually been told, in my life, that I would fare better socially if I could just 'not be so smart'. This from people who would never dream of telling me that I should lose weight, dye my hair, do drugs, or put out in order to make myself popular. It's akin to being told that I'd probably have more friends if I just didn't let on that my arms worked. Yeah, I could do it -- it would just require huge amounts of concentration, perpetual paranoiac self-monitoring, passing on the opportunity to do things I genuinely enjoy lest my secret slip out, and inevitably screwing up in front of someone else, who would then be pis…

Film classics!

I raided BPL for interesting things again and have succeeded in getting David to watch a couple of the Rathbone/Bruce Sherlock Holmes films. These things are fantastic or terrible, depending on who you ask and how much they are nitpicky purists when it comes to their Sherlockiana.

The films -- fourteen of them, I think -- starring Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson are infamous, partly for their popularity at the time, and partly because the first two were, at the time, the only real effort to make Holmes films as period pieces. They were very "Hollywood Victorian", but it was more of an effort than anyone else made. The latter dozen were updated to what was then the modern day, including elements of wartime intrigue and sometimes wacky pulp-novel "science". Several of them have fallen into the public domain and can be viewed here, at the Internet Archive, if you are inclined to go poking around to find them. The picture quality is pretty awful …

Pareidolia and a sense of pattern

People occasionally flip out when I tell them I'm chronically pareidolic. Briefly, pareidolia -- from pieces of Greek meaning roughly "faulty perception of shapes" -- is seeing a familiar pattern where none is developed or intended. It's a form of apophenia, which is perceiving meaning in randomness. It is not the same as hallucinating or being paranoid; hallucinations are experiences perceived as resulting from external stimuli where none exist, and paranoia involves the belief that the pareidolic patterns are real, and generally out to get you. All humans are pareidolic to some extent. Otherwise we wouldn't see a rabbit in the moon, faces in the clouds, or the patterns in the stars that we call constellations. An inability to group things into patterns, in fact, is considered dysfunctional, and is part of a variety of neurological and psychological conditions like prosopagnosia, and some autism spectrum disorders.

I have told psychologists, counselors, and the …

oh god kill me now

Apparently, I'm not just sick, I'm really horrendously sick.

Our landlords were here when I stumbled out the other day. They're a middle-aged couple who immigrated to the US umpty-zillion years ago; he's a sort of quiet, genial handyman who's shown up a couple of times primarily to fix lights and small appliances, and she's very mother-henny and mildly crazy in that way that seems to be peculiar to older Chinese ladies. All I got from Mr. Fangzhu was a question about seeing a doctor, but Mrs. Fangzhu kept staring at me, extra hard when I said I was going out return something to the library. I assume I looked like I might expire at any moment, because David offered to do it for me. If you've ever gotten a good look at downtown Boston, you know that "someone might die if I don't" is pretty much the only rational reason to try taking a car down to the Back Bay.

I find it difficult to tell exactly how sick I am, a lot of the time. I feel so lousy …

Interpreting science

I made reference last night to "read[ing] Academician" while I was ranting about the government's grand plan to replace OTC decongestants that actually work with a substance whose primary function is to make them look tough on meth. I do a wide variety of translation work, and when I tell people that they always assume it has to do with the slew of other languages I speak. It does sometimes, but in point of fact, the vast majority of what I think of as "translation" work is not from language to language but from context to context.

One of my specialties -- in all languages, including my native one -- is taking a technical thing and making it understandable to non-technical people. Most people figure the stumbling block on that one is that you have to learn the technical thing before you understand it well enough to interpret, but that's never been much of an issue for me. There's some things that make for classes too boring for me to plow through, but I…

"Hey, I think I found those germs you shed. Do you FUCKING WANT THEM BACK?"

I'm sick.

I deal very poorly with being sick. One of the first symptoms to kick in, even before the stuffy nose and sore throat, is a raging case of emo. Not even the dainty kind, where you lie around tragically in your bed and pray for death. No, I get the kind where I have to stop myself from asking other people to fuck off and stab themselves in the eye of their choosing, because they are pissing me off and I don't have the energy to do it myself. I know better than to actually take it out on anyone, because I know that it's being tripped by totally irrational stuff. The gold medal winner, I think, was the time a conscientious roommate asked me if I wanted them to leave the window open or closed when they abandoned me to die of the plague (at my request, I hasten to add; I feel, not unreasonably, that a self-imposed quarantine is best for all involved), and I made one of those anguished death-rattle wailing noises that I can only do when my entire throat is swollen and …

Apparently I confuse computers now

The Gender Genie is an implementation of a neat little thing that purports to guess the gender of the author of a particular piece of writing. It's based on a very simple word count algorithm, which in turn is based on statistical observations on what words males and females use most in writing. A New York Times article detailing some of the original work is here, and there is a formal paper that I haven't gotten to yet.
I find statistical analysis of documents to be fascinating but iffy at best; results are always in a sort of quantum flux, where you can tell that the author is probably this and likely that, but there is always the chance of whatever characteristic you think you're picking up on being a bizarre anomaly. And since it's not a hard science, a lot of what I -- and I presume professional document examiners -- do is actually based on intuition. You look at it, you realize you're developing an opinion, and then you get down to sciencing your little heart…

I think I watch too much TV

So, I've run out of Monk (I loved the series finale, by the way -- Monk, of all people, managed to get a happy ending, and Tony Shalhoub is awesome) and Psych (which is hilarious and uses one of the most accurate symbolic depictions of Shawn's erratic eidetic memory I've ever seen) and I'm still waiting on my other library holds. Netflix has 180 episodes of Law & Order, not to mention several of its spinoffs. Okay then.

L&O is an awesome social time capsule. First off, it ran for 20 years, coming just short of busting the record for longest-lasting prime-time drama set by Gunsmoke. The fashion aspect alone is shockingly educational. The crimes committed against hair in 1990 make me shudder, as they should do all respectable God-fearing citizens. Any woman in a position of power wears the required hideously unflattering pantsuit, with extra-huge shoulder pads. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure Chris Noth was still wearing that leather coat when he reprised t…

Yet more stuff for watching

He's coming up rather rapidly on 60 here. I never would have thought. The only real signs are the dramatic white flash in the front of his hair, which started when he was in his thirties, and the crow's feet, which I would have guessed put him in his mid-40s.

Being a talkie -- only his second -- the entire thing is filmed at standard Academy ratio and speed, which is a 4:3 rectangular picture at 24 frames a second. Without the variable speed of undercranking, you can see how ungodly fast he really is. Tripping up stairs especially; several times, someone follows him up or down, and while you can hear the second person's footfalls, you hear nothing from Chaplin, who's invariably up on his toes. (Also when rifling through papers or banknotes. He does it with both hands, which impresses me extra.) No camera tricks, he's just very, very quick. Gravity is still thoroughly unconcerned with his existence. Whenever he throws himself at the ground for the purposes of funny…