Just Copied and Pasted

And then edited with new answers.

1. Kevin
2. Saunders
3. Kev
4. That Guy in the Hat
5. Jeff McKinzie
6. hey, You!

THREE THINGS YOU ARE WEARING RIGHT NOW: (Make this what I'll be wearing when I put clothes on in a few minutes)
1. Wool Ankle Socks
2. Really old jean shorts
3. "Newfoundlanders are so friendly..." t-shirt

1. To have the script I'm putting off done
2. Some aspirin
3. A vanilla frosty from wendys

1. Watched Freaks and Geeks
2. Drank some Heineken
3. Walked to Amy's

1. Amy
2. John
3. Madre

1. Go to my Theatre History class
2. Go to my Boal class
3. Go to my Playwriting class

1. Dublin Dr Pepper
2. Arnold Palmer
3. Blue Moon

1. Having Kate Nash come up on Pandora
2. The construction sounds outside my window stopping when I got a headache.
3. Making a new video.

I just want to hang on

Performance History

Not mine, ones I've seen.

In early January I came back to Oxford a few days early so I could road trip with Ash (a fellow grad) and Jevon (her husband) to Chicago to see Eddie Izzard. This was one of the stops on his "Big Intimacy Tout" and the trip was a lot of fun. This was probably the largest venue I've ever seen a performance in. I don't know the actual seat count or even where we actually were (Just checked, it was the United Center) but it was a venue that wasn't really designed for stand up comedy. Because it was a sports arena our seats were facing 90 degrees away from the stage. Thus my whole experience was spent turned to my right.

Before the show Eddie opens up his twitter feed so all the people who send him a message can have it seen on the big old board on the stage. I sent mine too late and so it didn't go up, but I had a fun time replying randomly to the tweets I though were interesting. about ten minutes after sitting down I got to talking to a guy who was sitting in front of me about the twitter board. He said his had gone by a little while ago and I asked what it said. He said it was something about his birthday and I asked for his twitter handle. He told me and I had actually replied to his tweet! His handle was similar to mine and I had wished him a happy birthday. Turns out that when I though I was twittering to someone completely randomly who happened to be right in front of me. We also both happened to be named Kevin (and we still are.) He replied back to me on twitter and we ended up following each other. The whole thing was a little confusing to Ash and Jevon who aren't into the whole twitter scene.

The Show itself was really funny but most of the time I spent watching the giant screen that was much easier to see than Eddie himself. It occurred to me that this whole experience was only slightly different from watching the filmed show later. I still enjoyed it though. At the beginning of the show he said he wanted to talk about the history of the universe... with a few gaps. From there on I knew were going to have a good show. While enjoying the show my tech theatre side started to come out as I paid more visual attention to the lighting and scenic design that what Eddie was doing on stage. Not to say he wasn't visually entertaining, with his imitation of a velociraptor being pulled over for speeding or the problems of fighting against guys with 18 foot long spears, but the scenic design was really interesting too.

It occurs to me that Eddie could do some really good business by allowing people to buy a DVD of the particular performance they had watched, or other ones. He is known for improvising a lot in his shows and each one is unique so having that particular performance as a keepsake would be really cool. And the Grad student in me would love to do some research on the evolution of his shows within a single tour and over the course of an entire career. Some comedians always do things exactly the same way every time which is fine, but with Eddie's history of street performance he really knows how to work with the differences in audiences.

A few weeks later I learned that Spring Awakening was coming to Cincinnati. Spring Awakening is a show I had no knowledge of before it swept away the Tonys a few years ago. After that I picked up the soundtrack and slowly fell in love with it. It is a rock musical based on a late nineteenth century play about teens becoming aware of their sexuality. The music is haunting and beautiful and foll of emotion and swings from rock to ballad and back again.

Amy and I decided to go see the show on Saturday evening and bought our balcony tickets a couple days in advance. Amy drove us down to the theatre because she's a better driver and knows the area better. We walked around looking for a place to eat and was surprised at the lack of options. we settled on Chipotle.

Side note: I love Freebirds World Burrito, but despite the name it isn't available much out side of Texas (yet.) The only other option I knew of for giant burritos was Chipotle, which is alright but doesn't do it for me like Freebirds. Then I came to Oxford. Oxford didn't even have a Chipotle when I moved here although one was rumored to be coming soon. The only real option for giant burritos was a place called Qdoba. I had never heard of it and didn't have high hopes. Until I tried it. It still isn't Freebirds (and nothing else is) but it manages to close the gap between Chipotle a little bit. Then one day, the legendary Chipotle finally opened. Right next to Qdoba. It was almost sad, I would walk by and Chipotle would be packed to the gills as I sauntered up to the counter at Qdoba feeling like their only for the day. Thankfully the balance has begun to return and Qdoba didn't go out of business as I feared. I still really like their burritos way more than Chipotle.

After dinner Amy and I waled to the theatre and went to will call to pick up out tickets. Which weren't there. After some checking it turns out that we had bought tickets for the matinee show. I was heartbroken in the moment. I looked pleadingly at the woman behind the counter and asked if there was anything that could be done. She said she would check and I started eying the sign that said there were still on-stage seats available for cash only. I was more than willing to run to the nearest ATM and just buy new tickets if I had to. Thankfully the extra $50 did not need to be spent as she managed to find us a couple empty seats on the first row of the second balcony. I have never been more thankful for a declining interest in the arts.

The show itself was amazing. The music that I already knew was enhanced by the performances and there was such a distinctive style to everything that was presented. Throughout the show my heart was racing and I was caught up in the show. The only thing close to a downside was the female lead. She did an admirable job but the role was originated by Lea Michele who fans of Glee know as Rachel. The performance of Ilsa was full of little moments that I just knew Michele had created and it was all I could do to not picture her in the role. I had the same problem when I was watching Zack and Miri Make a Porno for the first time. I knew the role had been written for Rosario Dawson and even though Elizabeth Banks did a great job I could see the shadows of the performer that wasn't there.

After the show we ran into Matt (Directing Grad) and his fiance Katie. Matt and I talked about the casting for Woyzeck, the show he's directing for his thesis, while Katie and Amy discussed plans for the upcoming wedding.

Alright I have two more performances, but I've been writing for an hour so I'll do another post about San Francisco Mime Troupe and Woyzeck soon.

The stockings are in flames

Who Invented Snow?

Because I would like to file a few complaints.

I grew up in Texas and because of this I never really had much experience with snow. I've been on a few ski trips and we'd occasionally get a day or two of snow in Lubbock, but all that did was give me a false impression of what snow is really like. I was never around massive amounts of snow for extended periods of time before moving to Ohio.

Snow is lots of fun for about 3 days max. After that it becomes nothing but hassle. You have to plan everything you are going to do in advance and if you want to travel anywhere you have basically two options: Spend half an hour to un-bury your car because it is always covered in at least a few (usually more than a few) inches of snow and ice, or walk through the snow that is usually twice as deep as whatever is on your car.

Side note: In Oxford, if you shovel your sidewalk and somebody falls and gets hurt, you are liable, but if you DON'T shovel you aren't liable. This winds up with most sidewalks unshoveled and people walking in the roads, which are plowed by the city.

Snow is cold and wet. I have some rather nice hiking boots that would be great for keeping out the cold and wet if only the snow wasn't up to my knees in some places. Anything above the ankle means I'm going to have cold wet feet. Luckily I'm still a supporter of wool socks which can stay somewhat warm even when wet.

I don't even want to do laundry (which I really need to do) because the laundry room is in another building and I would have to put on 3 layers of clothing every time I changed a load of clothes.

It also doesn't help that all buildings are really well heated so I work up a sweat getting anywhere and then I have to practically undress myself whenever I walk inside.

Just turn around now


And a really long drive.

Today I'm going to Chicago. I've been to Chicago before, many moons ago when I was taking part in Rose Holeman's Summer program for future engineers and the like, but that was in Terre Haute and we just went there for a day trip. Today isn't that much different, other than I will be staying the night.

Of course it's completely different because I'll be going to see Eddie Izzard in concert! (In performance? In drag? Whatever) He's doing his Stripped Too tour here in the US and one of the seven stops is in Chicago. I'm really excited about it, so much so that I dreampt about it last night. I've been a fan of Izzard since about the time I went to SMU's TIP program, and now own about half of his DVDs and most of his albums. When Ash said that she was buying tickets for her husband and herself, and would I like one, how could I say no?

So today I will be getting in a car and riding 5 hours or so to Chicago IL from little ol' Oxford OH. Don't worry about the snow and stuff that we've been getting, as Ash and Jev are both from upstate ew York and are more than capable of driving in the weather.

So I've had my breakfast of pan fried SPAM (I can't get to walmart, so I'm eating whatever I have in my pantry, last night it was pasta and clam chowder) which was tasty and I'm packed and now I'm just waiting for Ash and Jevon to come pick me up. Hopefully we'll get to town at a reasonable time and check in to our hotel so we can relax and have a nice dinner before the show. I'm excited.

No plus no equals no.

Welcome to Oh Ten

It's shorter than twenty ten.

It's anew year and I'm stealing the same thing I stole once before from a friend's blog. I'm going to post the first sentence of the first blog post of each moth for 09. I'm ignoring the title and subtitle, because I'm making up the rules here, and you're not the boss of me. Also, I'm putting sentences from posts that are friend locked, (if they happen to be the first) so consider this a little extra bonus for those that don't bother to make an account and let me know so I can add them as a friend. You don't know what you're missing, but then again neither do I.

January: Still on break with my family, but things are winding down.

February: So if you don't want to read the rantings of a madman please feel free to skip this post.

March: I think I might be bored

April: I've just finished up my 12th week of student teaching.

May: I want top[sic] write a really long and detailed post about my four years at Texas Tech, but I can't seem to get started on it.

June: There is a long standing adage in the world of creativity that suggests that one must know the conventions of a given medium (in my case writing) before being able to subvert them in the proper manner i.e. "you have to know the rules before you can break them."

July: I decided to not watch anything on Hulu today.

August: Do you ever scan the Missed Connections section of Craigslist?

September: My first impressions of Oxford was that this town is small.

October: As I wander through the library one Thursday night in an ever futiler attempt to put off finishing this week's paper on Shakespeare's The Tempest I came to a startling conclusion.

November: going to be short and vague today, but I got some kind of sad news about one of my fellow grad students, but Something really good happened too.

December: [There's nothing here, because I managed to write absolutely nothing in December. Well, nothing on the blog.]

So there's that. I also counted up my posts and ended up with 36. That's 3 posts a month on average, even with a poor showing in December. Since this is a new year's post, I'll go ahead and make a resolution here (In addition to my one to loose the 40 pounds I put on in grad school. Help me wii fit!) to write 48 blog posts in the next year. That's 4 a month, and one more than last year. I like journaling my life, if only so I can go back and remember stuff much later.

I might even add a post about what I've been doing since Thanksgiving in the near future. Don't count on it though.

My First Thanksgiving

Not really, but sort of.

I've just put my almost thawed turkey breast in a pot of cold water to make sure it finishes thawing sooner, I only bought it yesterday, so it didn't get the full 24 hours of thawing needed. I read on the internet, that the cold water method thaws a few pounds in a few hours. Hopefully I'll have the breast in the oven by 12:30.

I'm just going to leave this window open and add to it as I go through cooking today. Then I'll post the whole thing all at once.

I'll probably write down anything else that comes to mind as well.

Watching Glee. They got my hopes up by promising the title song from Hair and then dashed them completely by making it into some sort of mash-up. I am disappointed

Turned on the Parade just as Santa Showed up. The commentators are chiding him for having a new sleigh in a recessionary period. Who is their target audience with that?

Also just learned that Hair performed at the parade (along with Billy Elliot and Bye Bye Birdie), will have to check youtube for clips later. It's extra funny because NBC had the cast of Glee pulled from the parade because they were from a rival network.

The dog Show is on. Mastiffs are huge. So are Great Danes, Scooby Doo was not under sold on size. The Number one dog in America is the Scottish Terrier. What does that mean? Is that the most popular? Best? Awesomest?

How do you even tell if a turkey is thawed? Help me Internet!

The Judge of the Terrier group has only one arm, but at first I just though he was holding it under his shirt.

It occurs to me that I don't own a carving knife.

I'm reminded of the teacher that came to talk to us in my capstone class about how teaching was like training dogs. She did agility training, not show training and was rather dismissive of show dogs.

I have to link to this It's a competition that apparently happens every year where people do crazy things with jello molds shaped like a turkey. My absolute favorite is the one titled "The Sides as The Bride" because the description (given by the artist, I think) makes it known that the piece is a Derridan deconstruction of The Traditional Thanksgiving Meal. This matters of course, because I'm knee deep in Derrida for my research paper this semester. Also worth pointing out is the baby food entry made by one David Byrne, who I have only recently discovered through my also recent discovery of the band Talking Heads.

Turkey is about to go in the oven. I followed the directions and brushed it down with vegetable oil. I was lucky that I bought vegetable oil a few months ago for no reason, because I didn't buy it yesterday. I did buy a silicone brush and instant read thermometer. I'll put it in a soon as the oven finishes heating. Then I'll start work on the citrus glaze that I found on he internet.

I discovered an Oreo with one of the cookies on backwards. Picture to follow.

My citrus glaze calls for orange juice concentrate. I'm looking at the label on the can and it says "Contains 100% Orange Juice when mixed according to directions." This confuses me. If I add water to it and it then becomes 100% orange juice, then what percentage is it now? The final ratio of concentrate to water is 1:3 which leads me to believe that I have in my hands 300% orange juice. With this power I can take over the world! But first I need it to thaw so I can make it into glaze.

Other things I down own: Hot pot holders. Things I do Own: Towels.

Glaze is finished. Here's the recipe for those of you following along at home:
2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp Honey
1/4 cup Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate (Thawed. If unavailable, just use 300% juice)

It mixed up nicely, and smells pretty good too.

I'm having trouble with Amazon's Thanksgiving sale. There's a lot of stuff that's almost too good to pass up. But with Christmas right around the corner, I don't feel like I can buy anything. The Fourth Season of Doctor Who is only 42 dollars, probably the cheapest I've ever seen it. The New Star Trek Movie is only 9$ and the entire series of Original Series movies is over half off, as is the Next Generation movie collection. And many seasons of The Simpsons (I only have the first 5) are only $15.

My apartment has started to smell like turkey. Smells like Thanksgiving.

Found a video for the Thanksgiving Parade performance from Hair. They did Aquarius, although I would have preferred Hair. If I figure out how, you can watch the vid here:

The Scottish Terrier won best in show. This was the 100th Best in show win for that specific dog. Wow.

I'm thinking about going to see a movie this evening. The Theater in Hamilton has Fantastic Mr. Fox, Where the Wild Things are, and The Men Who Stare at Goats. I would like to see any of those.

An hour and a half in, it's turning golden brown, so I've added the "loose foil tent" that is mentioned on various places on the internet. I've also added the first layer of glaze.

Alrighty, the turkey's getting close to done, so I'm going to start on the sides. I've got Boxed potatoes, Stuffing and a can of Green beans. Thankfully the turkey breast came with gravy, which I totally forgot.

Because I'm a Juggler, I did all of the sides (AK!, I forgot the green beans!) except the green beans at once. This was the most hectic things got, I was moving pans around on burners, forgetting to stir and checking the turkey all at once. I also forgot rolls, so I'll be sopping up my gravy with wheat bread. I did make one minor mistake with the potatoes, I started with the wrong amount of milk and water because I was reading the microwave directions by mistake. That's the turkey timer! Let em check the temperature.

Not quite 170, so I'm giving it an extra 15 minutes. I'm going to use this time to start cleaning.

Wile the sides were going crazy (still haven't done the green beans) I finished watching the latest episode of Mythbusters. It was good stuff. Like my stuffing hopefully will be.

Green beans microwaved. Took a picture of the whole thing. Letting thee turkey cool a little before carving without a carving knife. I still think it's weird that I was supposed to cook the whole thing in the little net that it came in. I won't be carving or eating the net.

I'm still surprised how quickly the sides all cooked. I know they're mostly instant, but that was a very hectic ten minutes. I forgot to stir the gravy as it cooked, so now it's chunky which reminded me that we always put egg in out gravy back home. I don't have any eggs though, and I'm out of pots so I couldn't boil any anyway.

Time to carve the turkey.

Getting the net off wasn't easy, I had to resort to scissors, but the carving was easy. Thankfully the glaze is super tasty. Now to plate it all and eat!

While I was eating (it's delicious BTW) Neil Patrick Harris Twittered: "Happy Slapsgiving, everyone! Make sure to spend a few minutes being thankful, and letting those that you love know about it. xoxo, neil" This made me happy, not because he wished me a happy holiday (which lots of celebrities do) but because he called it Slapsgiving. I'm now going to watch How I Met Your Mother While I eat.

I am now a member of the clean plate club!

On HIMYM they're making pies. I don't have pie for dessert. I was going to have a Twinkie, and I still will, but since my family back in Texas is having some sort of Oreo pie thing, so I'll be having a few Oreos as well.

Just finished Slapsgiving. And it finished just in tome for another Saunders Thanksgiving Tradition: Watching the Cowboy Game. I'm not really much of a sports fan, but we always turn on the Thanksgiving game. Typically we turn it on and spend most of the game doing other things. I'll be spending it cleaning up. That's one downside of a solo thanksgiving: I cook and I clean. But I'm pretty used to cleaning up after myself, so I don't mind too much.

I've finished cleaning, so I guess my solo Thanksgiving is pretty much done.

All in all it was a really fun experience. There's just something reassuring about being able to cook an entire meal from (mostly) scratch. It's not something I would want to do every day, just because of the work involved, but it went well. That being said, I'm still making the most of an unforseen situation. One of the big parts of thanksgiving is being with great people, even more than the food and TV. I'm glad I could get by on my own, (not that I ever doubted it) but I am also looking forward to seeing my family when the Christmas break rolls around in just a few weeks.

Thanks for hanging around with me as I blogged the whole thing. Now I just have to go back and embed all the pictures I took going along.

Day One of Vacation

Who knows about days two through six.

So it's Tuesday. I have six days off for American Thanksgiving. This will be my first Thanksgiving in the past 22 years of my life where I wasn't with my family on Thanksgiving (at least I can't remember any others.) I don't want to make this into a sob story, though because I'm actually OK with it. I knew things would be different when I moved to Ohio and so they are. I'm actually going to make an adventure of the whole thing. I've done some searching (gotta love the internet) and have found some pretty simple recipies and I'm planning on cooking a cornish hen and some other things. I don't really get the opportunity to cook as much as I would like, with the busy grad school stuff, so I'm going to make the most of it when I can.

Today was my first day of vacation (as you might have guessed) and I feel like I've already exhausted my options. I know there's more stuff that I can do, and just the opportunity to do nothing is pretty nice too. I watched three movies today: Rushmore, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and (500) Days of Summer. All three were interesting, and I may take this new free time to do a holiday edition or two of the (now mostly defunct) Kevin Reviews Something Every Day.

I don't have a whole lot else to say, so happy American Thanksgiving!

so do you

Edit: So it looks like Windows 7 doesn't come with any version of Windows Movie Maker and I'm not entirely sure I want to install an old version. So KRS-ED may not be coming back after all.

The Problem of Specialization

At least in certain areas.

As I wander through the library one Thursday night in an ever futiler attempt to put off finishing this week's paper on Shakespeare's The Tempest I came to a startling conclusion. The aisle I was standing in was ENTIRELY books about Shakespeare. And this aisle wasn't one of those dinky little ones either, oh no, it stretched over twenty five feet in either direction. Here I was, standing in the middle of multiple lifetimes worth of study on who many think to be the most important person ever in the world of theatre.

After a little googling, there seems to be a bit of dispute about who has more books written about them, Shakespeare or Jesus. I know the works of Shakespeare get produced more on stage. A quick search in the library of congress catalog stopped searching for either after ten thousand books. OVER TEN THOUSAND BOOKS. For comparison Marlowe (one of Shakespeare's contemporaries) has less than two thousand books about him. There's not anything I can add to that dialog. I was under the impression that Grad school was supposed to be about more than regurgitating information, more than so many of my undergrad classes. What it seems to be (in the case of this Shakespeare class at least) is just regurgitation of more information. if I ever need to know anything about Shakespeare I can go read one of the OVER TEN THOUSAND BOOKS about him. As it stands I don't even like Shakespeare.

There's always been a part of me that has questioned why Shakespeare has so much written about him. I wondered why he was seen as so important. When I was younger, even though I couldn't understand his importance, I was willing to chalk it up to the wisdom of elders. People put a lot of work into him, so there must be a good reason. Right? But as I ages and grew and learned, I never got a satisfactory answer. Now I may not be a full fledged scholar, but I think I've gotten to the point where someone should have explained it to me. I don't think I can continue trusting other minds any more. The best reason I can come up with is "because he's Shakespeare" which is a tautology of the first order. We study Shakespeare because he's important, and he's important because we study him.

I want to take a little trip to the alternate universe where Marlowe became the Shakespeare of our universe. I know right now the alternate me is writing a blog post about how Marlowe isn;t as great as people seem to think and how Faustus is OK, but can we just move on? (In this universe Faustus is Hamlet. Also in this universe I'm wearing a Mexican style sombrero instead of a fedora. Universe jumping is fun!) I want to go there so I can tell the people in this alternate universe that it's just as arbitrary over here. I can Tell alternate me that he needs to stop writing his version of this post and get back to work on his paper about The Massacre at Paris. But he won't listen to me. Instead he'll probably start up some sort of argument about the entire academic structure and I'll be busy agreeing with him as we compare notes on the differences in academia from different universes (they have tones of bureaucracy too, but it's all settled with Rock Paper Scisors) then we'll probably go get ice cream but there aren't any ice cream parlors open that late, os we'll settle for the O'Donalds drive though, but the machine will be broken (some things are the same in every universe) so we'll just head back to his place so I can borrow his universe jumping device to get back home, only he hasn't invented it yet, so I'll have to spend a while teaching him how to make it, except that the laws of physics are only every so slightly different so it will take quite a while to figure out the adjustments and I won't make it to class tomorrow do turn in the paper, but I won't be able to tell anybody since inter dimensional communication won't be perfected for fifty years and time travel for another hundred, but on the bright side alternate Kevin will be able to use me as an excuse because I'll be there, although it's possible that everybody just thinks I have a twin brother who wears a fedora to distinguish between us and I'll tell the whole class about my adventures in the land where Shakespeare has an entire AISLE OF FREAKING BOOKS ABOUT HIM AT THE LIBRARY!!!!!!!!!! and everybody will be shocked as the Shakespeare of this world was rather ignored in that world so I'll be like the king of Shakespeare scholars except I'll hate every moment of it because I still don't like Shakespeare.

Where was I? Oh yeah, specialization. It has its problems. I should get back to writing

Right, Taco Bell.

One Month in Oxford

has it really been?

This is going to be a categorized round up of my first month of Grad school, Oxford Ohio nad other things.


My first impressions of Oxford was that this town is small. And it is. Now there's something about the township size and the city limits, but I really don;t know what the difference is. The township is bigger,for what it's worth. This is the sort of town I always imagined a true college town to be. That is to say, there is the college and so very little else. Of course it's entirely possible that my experiences give me a biased opinion, but this is my blog so deal. The movie theatre has 4 tiny screens and hasn't gotten a new film since the Time Traveler's Wife came out a couple weeks ago. I did see District 9 and Inglourious Basterds there, and the price is good, but there are other movies I want to see. The school has a reputation of being full of Sororities and fraternities, and I can see where it gets that. A random stroll though the town (which takes maybe 30 minutes) will let you see a rather large number of house parties going on all weekend. Beer pong tables abound. It doesn't really bother me except when I got to the liquor store on Friday nights. I'm there to pick up a six pack of Lone Star and everybody else is buying cases of the cheapest beer they can find (Natural Light seems to be the go-to choice.) Anybody that sells beer also has a special on ping pong balls and red cups. Yes, even the pizza parlors. All that being said, the town is beautiful. It's like something out of a movie. I'm reminded of every movie that ever took place in Harvard or Yale whenever I walk around the campus. I'm sure when Fall really hits and the trees all change it will be magnificent.

Grad School

Grad School is a lot of work. I'm taking 13 hours, which is a lot. My classes are both really intense and very unstructured. My playwriting class meets on Saturday Mornings as we travel to a nearby farm and muck out stables. My other classes are slightly more structured, but not a lot. The lack of structure is made up by the amount of work. I have at least one paper (usually more) due every week from here until I die, or the end of the semester, which ever come first. I do like my professors. They are really knowledgeable and are friendly about everything. Two of my professors are my advisers so they're really helpful and the other invited me to his house for dinner within an hour of meeting him. I don't really know whether the next two years will fly by or take forever. Probably both. Half of my classes right now are about getting used to grad school and the other two are much more of what grade school is really like.

The Other Grad Students

The other students are pretty cool. There's 4 second years and 4 first years. I don't know the second years as well, but us first years have gotten together to hang out a lot. We always take Friday night off from studying to just hang out and enjoy ourselves. We have what may be the most diverse grad student population at the school. We have: someone from each of Korea, China and Thailand, a Muslim from Philly, a good southern girl(although I'm still not convinced that North Carolina is in the south, just look at the name), a couple Yankees, and me the Canadian from Texas. We totally skew the population statistics in Oxford. I have picked up a bit of a nick name in Lone Star, both because I come from Texas and my beer of choice around here is Lone Star, which I have only found at one store so far. Most of the other grads drink wine, and I"m usually the only one with a beer in hand. This is the sort of group that can sit and talk about nearly anything for hours on end, although we often end up talking theatre (big surprise there.)


Yes Madre, I'm going to church. I started attending Faith Lutheran Church about three weeks ago. I go to the praise worship service because it's the later one and I enjoy sleeping in when I can. When I sat down in the back of the sanctuary (Not quite thee last pew)the pastor came up and introduced himself to me, which I thought was really nice. The church is small enough that it's pretty easy to spot newcomers, but it's still cool that they reach out like that. The first song we sang at my first service was Trading My Sorrows, and I immediately knew this was the right place. It may be a praise service, but it's still a pretty traditional Lutheran service, we just sing newer songs instead of hymns. Nobody raises their hands, but they do occasionally clap in unison. It's a good compromise. I remember years ago when I was visiting another church with my family (It may have been in Tulsa) and when It cam tine for the sharing of the Peace, the church erupted. Everybody was wandering around and shaking hands and hugging each other. Meanwhile my family had quickly shaken the hands immediately around us and then we had to stand there awkwardly for what felt like 20 minutes. Thankfully I remembered this experience so I was prepared when something very similar happened at my first service here in town. It wasn't quite as crazy as it could have been, but it lasted a few minutes. Over the past few weeks I've managed to ease into it ans I actually leave my pew now. It was especially funny when there were a few obviously new college students down the pew from me. I recognized the shocked look on their faces as the ironically named Peace was passed. I shook their hands and then moved on. This church does communion only once a week at alternating services. I didn't realize it at first because I fist came at an on week for the praise service. The communion is pretty standard, you walk up, get the bread and wine then go back to your seat. However there are no ushers telling you when to go up. Now a congregation of reasonable people can easily figure out how to orderly get up and go to the alter, and they manage to do it in exactly the same order as Living Word (my home church) just without the guidance of ushers. Unfortunately I am not always a reasonable person, so I just wandered up when I felt like it the first time. I only later realized that there was a system in place. I managed to redeem myself this week. The congregation of Faith is interesting, as it almost entirely split between College students and people of a certain age. There are a few families, but for the most part there's a pretty big age gap. I really like that it doesn't seem to effect anything, though. The congregation is so small though that they can get through communion with only two trays of cups, and those cups are made of glass. It was a little surprising when I first picked up. All in all, the church is traditional enough for me to feel at home, and welcoming enough for me to be happy there.

That's a good wrap up of stuff so far. I'll try to blog more often, because this whole once a month thing gets annoying for me.

I'm dealing with what I can't control

I Didn't Write This For Me

But it's not for you either.

I was asked to write an introduction to Jeff McKinzie's upcoming book I Love Christmas Puppy. I've not had the opportunity to actually read the book, because Jeff, in his typical reclusive fashion hasn't finished writing it. Or if he he has he hasn't bothered to tell anybody. I figure he must be close if he's asking for an introduction, but that's probably too logical for Mr. McKinzie. Anyway the book, he tells me, is a combination memoir and history of the Killmas Tree movie series.

Begin introduction:

I first discovered the Killmas Tree movies in my senior year of college. I was just about to finish my second to last semester working towards an illustrious Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre. I was living with three other guys in a three bedroom apartment (Yes, I'm aware of the math there.) Mike, the fourth roommate (I was the Second) commented that I was a little down in the dumps.

I had been a little melancholy ever since the beginning of the year, due to my ever approaching graduation date, and the finality of the semester ending was getting to me. Only four months until I would die. Mike mentioned that there was a midnight showing to take place one evening, part of a week-long festival of some sort that had been going on. He didn't know what movie was showing, but we had enjoyed seeing Rocky Horror back in October so we thought it would be worth a try.

The flyer he had seen earlier in the day had said something about wearing Christmas themed sweaters, so all four of us (roommates one and three had decided to come along) packed into my car (the only one with four doors) and stopped by the local goodwill. We didn't want to apear as "virgins" because we knew all to well the kind of torment they got at cult movies so we dived in and picked up the worst Christmas sweaters we could find. Mike and Three got lucky with a pair of matching shirts that quoted an obscure Christmas carol and prominently featured a snow-skiing bear. I found an overlarge green number with a bright purple and red angel across the front, while One was more than satisfied with a worn old sweater covered in tingling, tiny bells.

TO call the local discount theatre rundown would be kind. It had four screens and after the one usher sold and tore your ticket she would walk behind the counter to get your concessions. I managed to sweet talk her into an extra pickle. Looking back it was probably less my overwhelming charm that got me the pickle, but rather she wanted to get rid of them before they turned. I don't know if you've ever eaten a rotten pickle, but it'll make you swear off cucumbers for a while.

I took my pickles and the four of us wandered back to the last theatre. Our town wasn't much for the midnight showings of classic (cult) films, Rocky horror usually and about 25 die-hards or so and another dozen or so "normals." I expected a similar, if somewhat smaller crowd for what I had learned at the box office was Killmas Thr3e: Back in the Saddle. I had never heard of the movie, but how many people hadn't heard of Rocky Horror before it became what it is today? It turns out that I was overzealous in my estimation. There were a total of three people already in the theatre when we showed up and not another soul arrived before the show went up. There was a couple sitting on the back row and a man wearing what I can only call a Christmas tree with a cowboy hat for a star standing in the front. His costume didn't allow him to sit down, so he stood. Waiting.

The lights dimmed in the theater and Mr. Christmas Tree rustled. As the movie began A second soundtrack began emanating from the tree. He hummed along with the score and when the characters started to speak so did he. He knew every line of the movie, which, as far as I could tell, was some mash-up of a western, a holiday film and as I would come to understand, a slasher flick.

The man in the tree didn't just say the lines, he acted them out. He was doing a one man show along with the movie. He played all the parts and as I was beginning to wonder why he did it from inside the tree when I finally got a glimpse onscreen of the films big bad. His costume, which I had though shoddy and poorly constructed was actually an incredible of what I saw on the screen. The movie was low budget and it was obvious that so little of it went to the costume. As I watched the Killmas Tree onscreen and the one in front of me, I came to realize that what I was watching was something special.

The movie ended and I stood up before the credits finished rolling in hopes of catching the couple on their way out. "Do you know what just happened in there?" I asked.
The man looked me over, "We don't usually see a lot of new faces here."
"And never four at once," said the woman, referring to my roomies.
"We really came on a lark, but I'm not sure they enjoyed it as much..." I trailed off?
"As much as you?" he finished for me.
"Don't worry, kid. MOst people don't get it on the first time, or even the twelfth." The man glanced knowingly at the woman and they shared a long look.
"It wasn't just the movie, but the music and the acting and well everything" I could tell that I was starting to babble.
"It's OK, I know the feeling," he smiled.
She asked "are you going to come back tomorrow?"
"What happens tomorrow?"
"The fourth movie is playing. You missed the first two, but it's easy enough to jump in the middle. They're playing in order all week."
"How many more are there?"
"There's eight in total, so after tonight, you can come back five more times."
"Are they all as good as this one?"
"Actually this one is considered the worst by some people," the man said, laughing.
"I'm not one of those people," the woman was quick to point out. "they all have their charms and weaknesses."
The other guys were getting a little antsy, and trying to get me to leave, so I knew I only had a little time left before they dragged me out by my toes. "Who was that guy? The one in the tree suit?"
The man's smile got even bigger, "that's Jeff McKinzie."

I was quickly hurried out of the theater, but I knew I would be back the next night and the next, until I had seen the other five movies.

I got a little more chance to talk to the couple after the other movies. I learned that their names were Jack and Diane, and they were fully aware of everything that meant. I also learned a little more about Jeff. They didn't know where he lived, but they he always came to the theatre one week a year to perform alon gwith the movie. IN the past there had been more supporters, but they had gradually moved away, so it was just the four of us that year (my roommates not electing to come back after the one time.) Jeff always did the show by himself but never really talked to anybody about it. He was always in the theater before the others and always left after everyone had gone home. Diane though he owned the theater, but Jack suspected that it was more likely he just owned the reels and rented the space once a year.

i didn't get to go back the next year as I had graduated, and when I tried to start a Killmas Fest in my new locale, the results were less than stunning. So I went where all good little nerds went, the internet. It was there that I got to finally meet Jeff, albeit only digitally. His online presence was much stronger than his physical one. I found other Killmas fans out there and though we were always open to others it seemed like there just wasn't the info out there. People didn't know about the movies and since they had never even made it to VHS, it was hard for new people to get into it.

That's where this book comes in. Jeff decided that more people need to know about the whole Killmas Tree world and started writing the book you now hold in your hands. (Assuming he ever actually finished it.) The book is a labor of love, but not just Jeff's. We all love Killmas Tree and accordingly, Christmas Puppy, and we think you should too.

I'm not saying much about the movies themselves, that's Jeff's job, but if you ever see a flier in a dark ally talking about some holiday movie fest, put on a bad sweater and check it out. You'll thank me.

End Introduction.

It's only a first draft, but I'm not too worried about it, I'll have plenty of time to fine tune it as Jeff finishes the novel. You can follow him on twitter @JeffyMac if you want. He doesn't talk about the book much, but it's the only way to get in touch with him regularly.