GalacticMu

Press your spaceface close to mine

I’m Never Showering Again

Posted by Sunday on Nov 30, 2008 at 4:03 pm

This morning Leesa called me, left me a message, text messaged me, emailed me – all within the span of 20 minutes – to tell me that Endeavor was landing at Edwards AFB, a two-hour drive from where I live.  If I hurried, she urged, if I hurried I could make it.

I didn’t get her messages.  I was in the shower.

They hate landing in California because it’s an additional 1.7 million dollars to transport the craft back to Florida.  I get it.   So this was my chance, this was a west coast shuttle landing in what will shortly be the last shuttle landings ever.  And I missed it.

About a half an hour ago I stood outside hoping they might for some totally unlikely reason decide a south-to-north entry over LAX and I might see them, but of course the sky was clear and blue and perfectly unmarred.

And then I heard the concussion.

I froze, because there were two.  BOOMBOOM.  Windows rattled on the apartment buildings next to me.

“It was an echo,” I said outloud.   “That’s why there were two.”

I called Leesa while running back into the house, turned on NASA’s live feed.

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And there she was, the big dumb goose, just floating in like she was meant to do it.  Landed like a ballerina, two back wheels hitting at the same time, the smallest little jaunty puffs of smoke.  Cheeky.  I cried, of course, telling myself it was because I’m on my period and I’m always emotional in the morning.  Except it’s not morning anymore.  And I don’t cry on my period, I seethe.

Welcome back, Endeavor.

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SON OF A BITCH

Posted by Sunday on Nov 22, 2008 at 7:00 pm

I really only ask one thing from the space race, and that is that there be no goddamn spiders up there.  Is that so hard?

Asshole scientists populate space with spiders, via timesonline.co.uk (thanks, Aargh)

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The Scent of a Geek

Posted by Sunday on Nov 19, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Fair warning: this is a bit of a lady-post.

It’s standard cocktail party factoid that smell triggers memory better than any other sense, but the intensity with which these memories are tripped is utterly fascinating to me.  For me I experience a potent and discordant sense of elsewhere when I wear a perfume – the smell of where I first wore it.  It is a disorienting feeling that loses it’s punch as the minutes tick by, like deja-vu but lingering and weirder.

I’m a perfume whore, something that occurred after another strange event.  At age 17 I was hospitalized for my disease, a period during which I was crammed as full of antibiotics and corticosteroids as I could be without defying saturation physics. When I came out the other side of that adventure I had a supernatural sense of smell.   And strangely, not only did unpleasant smells give me as much pleasure as pleasant ones, but I didn’t seem capable of overloading my olfactory sense.  People around me warned me that I was wearing far too much perfume and I took to applying profound amounts at home, in private, and would shower it all off before I needed to be in public.

My greed for perfume soon waned in its intensity as my nose returned to its average-sensing self, but for one expensive and slightly (at the time) embarrassing point: I had gained a need for good perfume.  Fancy perfume.  I could smell the difference, even if not in such rich proportion as before.

This led to a series of flings.  I can’t be a monogamous perfume wearer.  There would be no signature “Sunday” bottle always on my dresser.  Was it day or night?  What season?  What is my emotional state?  I could construct massive flow-charts of how I decide what to wear but I don’t have a piece of paper big enough.

Also: the memory.  Here’s just a brief example.

  • Gucci “Rush”.  Smells like turning 21.  I can’t wear it anymore, it gives me an instant hang-over and makes me wonder who I made out with last night.  Triggers strong visual memory of being on a dance floor.
  • Givenchy “L’Interdit”.  Smells like a happy, intermediate time of my mid 20′s.  I wore it a lot one winter, so much so that several of my scarves now smell of it permanently.  Created for Audrey Hepburn, this is the fragrance I have worn most consistently for the last 5 years.  Also: a lot of people claim the new L’Interdit (which was reformulated in 2003) is worse than the old one, but those people are dumb.
  • CB I Hate Perfume “Violet Empire”.  Smells like Cincinnati and winter.  Despite having a lame name, CB I Hate Perfume makes interesting fragrances.  Violet-based perfumes can be really old-fashioned and sugary-sweet, but this one is dark, dank and strange.  Like me! Anyway, wearing this smells like moving across country and experiencing sub-zero temperature for the first time, “Violet Empire” actually smells like freezing to me.
  • No brand carnation.  Smells like New Zealand.   I bought this cheap, generic carnation perfume to take with me to New Zealand because I bravely limited myself to a single fragrance for my trip, and I wanted something I could lose and not fret over.  I wore it every day of my stay there, and wearing it now makes me literally dizzy at first while I try and remember where I am currently, physically standing.  To a lesser extent Carmex lip balm has the same effect since I used it regularly while there.
  • Bvlgari “Red Tea” (“Thé Rouge”).  Smells like adulthood. Hard to explain, but really strong.  I have two place-specific memories that hit me when I wear this (one standing in Seattle in the rain, another while in a store in Olympia) with a kind of bittersweet overtone.  Started wearing this around the time I decided to move away from Washington state.
  • No brand linden.  Smells like Italy.  I wore a linden solid-perfume while in Italy (it might have been L’Occitane, but I honestly can’t recall – so much for the memory association) and it still smells like old cafes, museums and gelaterias to me.  Happy, but not intoxicating.
  • Queen Helene “Mint Julep” deodorant.   Smells like childhood.   I don’t wear this but my dad did when I was little and when I see it in stores I like to take a big whiff.

Of course there are bad memories, too:

  • Some popular men’s cologne.  Smells like an ex-boyfriend.  I still occasionally get whiffs of this unknown but reasonably popular fragrance and it makes my skin crawl.
  • Archibald Sisters “Uppercut”.  Smells like fury.  Worn by a housemate that robbed us (and others) and then split town.  Archibald Sisters is a little boutique shop in Olympia, Washington, that mixes a few of their own scents of which “Uppercut” is one.  I guess it’s a take on some other popular men’s fragrance, because I smell something very similar every once and a while and I become instantly enraged, hateful and disgusted.  I have to calm down and tell myself that the douchebag isn’t in my general proximity.

Anyway, there you have it.  Smells.  Memories.  Discuss.

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Green Screen Division

Posted by Sunday on Nov 18, 2008 at 7:03 pm

If you know anything about me by now, it is that I am fickle.  What can I say, I have a vagina.

Gemini Division is a perfect example. It is a NBC scifi webisode (webishow?) about a cop, Anna Diaz (Rosario Dawson) trying to figure out what’s going on after her fiance is murdered in Paris.  Of course, there’s more to it, for example: the fiance might not be human, a clandestine organization destroys evidence with a goofy proton pack, and a mysterious powder appears that can melt through Camaro seats.

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The episodes are short – five minutes each short.

The writing and plot can be excruciating, certain lines make me wonder if that room of monkeys and typewriters has finally been assembled, you know, but with cheaper, stupider monkeys.  More disturbingly, the entire show is funded (experimentally? did I read that somewhere?) by a few corporate sponsors, meaning that from minute one you’re treated to a Microsoft specific operating system, ads for Cisco and possibly M&Ms.  It can be subtle (should I be offended that her PDA operating system is Windows Vista?  Nah.) and it can be jarring (egghead: “Whoa, your PDA is updated with Cisco state-of-the-art awesomeness!  Cisco is a top of the line networking tool!  Cisco!“).  And much to my amusement, Diaz’s Vista-based PDA is a kind of super-iPhone and looks totally RAD and I want one and I assure you that Microsoft makes nothing of the sort.  At least Cisco had the dignity to portray a product they can reasonably produce.

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I’m torn.  I acknowledge that the show is uniquely terrible, even amongst the heap the of rubbish the SciFi Network has managed to construct.  But there is something about this stupid little sponsor-bloated microshow that I can’t stop watching.  I think perhaps it just doesn’t take itself too seriously, or perhaps despite all the corporate jazz-hands, I can’t stop thinking of Gemini Division as anything more than a local-access cable show.

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Gemini Division offical site (with episodes)

Gemini Division at Hulu.com (watch out – the organization of the episodes are a mess, but they are all there… somewhere.)

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2 Posted in TV

Situation Normal

Posted by Sunday on Nov 12, 2008 at 2:39 pm

I was writing a review of Samuel R. Delany’s Nova for Avi over at Scifi at Dark Roasted Blend when my brain got a little out from under me, if you know what I mean.  I’ve had some sad news this week (something that happened to a friend) that put me into a kind of anti-human funk – yes, more than usual – which has in turn started forming one of those emotional toruses I get, where everything I do is tainted by too much thinking.  Whatever, it doesn’t matter: I was thinking about how much of the novel is about class differences (or mega-gulfs, rather) and part of it is the segregation of those who have refused to be “cyborged.”  Called “Gypsies,” those that don’t want any mechanical upgrades are considered throw-backs, retards, and are systematically exterminated.

What occurred to me is that I am unsure if Delaney wanted the Gypsies to be sympathetic or not.

A few years ago I reread Brave New World for maybe the third or fourth time, and the first time since I had been a teenager.  It was a revelation totally unlike my first reading, because I found myself questioning what was so wrong with being genetically matched to a labor caste.  Everyone is chemically altered to be happy doing whatever it is they were meant to do, be it chef or coal miner or movie star.   As a teen I was focused on the the dissolution of free will, of eugenics and mass indoctrination.  As an adult I wished desperately there were some pill that made me happy to go to work every day, to make scads of money for someone else while I remained trapped in an economic morass, unable to labor on subjects that actually pleased me.

And then yesterday, rereading parts of Nova, a similar realization: the Gypsies are people I would despise.  This increasingly congested world is creating the opposite of a social environment: rather than being surrounded by potential friends, I find I am surrounded by people I have nothing in common with.  It’s a mathematical eventuality.  I turn to my computer, for example, so that I may easily identify and contact the kind of person I would like to be social with.  I’ve transferred a good deal of my creativity over to the ethereal “net,” where I share photographs with friends and strangers, where I can find artistic mentors I’d never be able to find in meatspace.  I imagine, then, a Gypsie who disapproves of what I do.    And I think, “What an ignorant douchebag.

It always comes back to me calling someone a douchebag, doesn’t it?

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Cross Your Fingers

Posted by Sunday on Nov 4, 2008 at 1:39 pm

This is hard to articulate and even harder to admit, and I expect and deserve a backlash from both my friends and angry strangers, but sometimes, like today, I get a thrill out of not participating in our society.

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Stunning cover art for Wastelands by Daniel Kvasznicza (seriously, this guy shoots fairy dust out his eyes)

A while back my mom told me a story, which I am no doubt mangling here but seeing as I am too lazy to call her and clarify, I will paraphrase it for you.

Long ago, before my mom became an angry nurse, she was at some kind of stoner hippie party where a guest of honor was a man we’ll call The Magus.  The Magus was a self-proclaimed clairvoyant of great self-proclaimed renown, and sort of shmoozed his way around the party, generally grossing my mom out.  I imagine him as corpulent and wearing a great deal of patchwork velvet, so I’ll pass that image along to you.  Anyway: my mom realized, as the evening wore on, that this fellow either had no paranormal abilities or wasn’t sharing them.  Either way, she was done with his ass.

But he was getting more intoxicated and eventually responded to someone’s insistence that he tell them something about the future by tersely saying, “When America elects a black president, we will be near the end.”

At the time she was disgusted at the sudden burst of bigotry that came from him, left the party and forgot about it.

30+ years later, she tells me on the phone in a kind of nonchalant airiness, “What if he wasn’t being a bigot?  What if it was a point of fact?”

I like to say that I just don’t have any social ideology, but the reality is that I have a very, very pessimistic one. I’m paranoid, I suppose, in that I don’t believe that “voting” has any real outcome, or that anyone in political office has the “people” in mind (what’s that old adage?  that the desire to be in a position of control should automatically disqualify you?), but since this feeling manifests as a vague disapproval, perhaps I’m not paranoid after all.  Yet again, “grumpy” is the best descriptor.

My point: this morning I said to Halcyon, “I get a thrill at the thought of not voting today.  Like I’m really committing to my beliefs.”

Hal: “Well, the vote in California doesn’t matter, so you might as well do it.”

me:  “And also, I feel like I’d be a hypocrite when I riot after McCain gets elected.”

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3 Posted in Apocalypse