Sunday, May 23, 2004

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But Achilles was gay ...

Well I went to see the big new epic Troy at ye olde multiplex in Savoy. They really messed with Homer's version, not that I expected them to stay true to it. They took a simple Trojan captive female role and turned her into Brad Pitt's love interest, thus erasing the overtly homoerotic relationship that he had with Patroclus, who is reformulated as a kid cousin. This same Trojan woman is also the one to deliver Agamemnon to the river Styx instead of his wife Clytemnestra. This effectively erases the interestingly doomed sight-seer Cassandra who can see the future -- but no one believes/listens to her. Gee, how many women have this feeling at work? In Troy she is completely erased. The New York Times Sunday edition implied that people in the classics might actually have a job in creating Hollywood Cliff note epics. I guess the way to get your project to the big screen is to eliminate all traces of gay men and strong female characters (where is Priam's wife? a role that Katherine Hepburn rocked in) and to bimbofy the remaining female roles. Well at least Diane Kruger and Saffron Barrows were hot.
I think Brad Pitt might have been on steroids for his role. Another attempt at overcompensation for the queerness of Achilles?
I thank fellow blogger Shannon for helping me look for the disappeared queers -- you should hear her rant about Shakespeare in Love.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Finding my voice

This is a test. I am hoping that blogging will help me find my writer's voice, I really need to find it soon because I have write my master's thesis before the end of the summer and it will be a lot more fun if I can put more of myself into the writing. I want to obliterate this notion I have that my writing can never approach the passion and humor of my spoken words. Maybe it's because the writing is academic. APA, MLA, footnotes, citations. No that's not it. I have academic writer's block. It's like working really hard to bore yourself with your own words so that others can be even more bored -- no that's a very negative way of looking at it. I have a good model in CLR James; he wrote about race and international politics by writing about cricket. I am trying to do the same thing with volleyball. If you go to the Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke, Massachusetts, they will tell you that the game was invented by William G. Morgan, a colleague of James Naismith, the inventor of basketball. In fact, the Basketball Hall of Fame is next door in Springfield where they both went to college and learned all about the importance of team sports from one of those wacky turn of the century fitness nuts, Luther Gulick, Jr. Gulick was convinced that only Anglo-Saxons could play team sports properly for only they truly understood the meaning of sacrificing oneself for the team. Not surprisingly, Gulick was the son of Christian missionaries who pestered Hawaiians. So anyway, Morgan decided that the old white guys at the YMCA were pretty useless at basketball so he went about looking for a less strenuous game. Morgan found an old tennis net and strung it across the gym and used the bladder of a basketball and told the old dudes to bat it back and forth. For this, he has been celebrated as the inventor of the game. True, the actual volleyball was designed according to his specifications in nearby Chicopee, Mass at ye olde Spalding plant. But the game as we know it, the cooperative control of a continually rebounding ball using a Swiss army knife series of techniques (bump, set, spike, block, dig) was actually invented by the Filipinos. They get a little credit for it on the International volleyball site (FIVB) but really just for the spike. When I looked up the original citation about the game in the Philippines (ye olde Spalding rules 1913), the white dude Elwood Brown who brought the game over there and wrote about it described the "bomberino" or what we call the spike as the culmination of a bump and a set. He even complained that they had to limit the Filipino side to three hits because the pesky little natives would toy with the Anglo-Saxons by delaying return of the ball so long. So they had these segregated games with white colonialist government dudes having unlimited hits since they were straight-forward and fair and would return the ball on the first opportunity -- crappy volleyball. Yep, so it was the Filipinos who really invented the game I say. My mother will find this amusing but will probably not be convinced that this is what a person should write their master's thesis on. She's probably thinking that sociology has all gone to crap these days. She got her doctorate in 1976. I recently got a hold of a copy and it was very interesting: she did a survey of entrepreneurial Filipinos. One of the most interesting questions ended up being about their children because for many of these businessmen this was a very confidential question: a lot of them had second discrete families. This was the document that she slaved over intermittently between having two kids and trading in a husband. Upon completing her PhD she found that the job market was disheartening and she went to work for Crocker Bank, falling back on her economics background. I have dreaded the word "thesis" since I was seven years old. It's time to get over it. It helps that my advisor CL got her first doctorate, decided it wasn't what she was really interested in, then went back and did a second doctorate. So we call her "Doctor Doctor" and she rolls her eyes at this.