Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Children's church / Conference / &c.

11/9 - 11/13/2008


Children's church... James Kim on the assist.

Esther Kang, PK wunderkind.

Esther, Angela, Rubin.

James, taken by Esther Kang.

勇敢/용감/Courage! was the lesson of the day.


The next day, Dan and I headed up to The Navigators' Northeast Region
Collegiate staff fall conference... me as part of my job, him as our guest.

Some beautiful weather... was supposed to be overcast and nasty, but
we pulled through like this.


A crisp and clear night sky.


After a day and a half of conferencing - networking in
the best sense of the word, catching up with and
solidifying old(er) friendships and getting new
relationships started - I woke up to another dope New
Hampshire morning.


Sir Landelot a/k/a Lando Calrissian

Back in New Haven, I guess I kicked it with Alice Lin
for a while.


And then this girl, who did not have lipstick on but
looked as though she did.



(No words necessary)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gender in Judd Apatow's Superbad

"have you ever seen a vagina by itself? Not for me." - Seth [Jonah Hill] to Evan [Michael Cera]

This quote, uttered in the closing lines of Superbad's opening dialogue by Jonah Hill's foul-mouthed libidinous child-man, points toward the underlying framework that Judd Apatow establishes for his sprawling discussion of gender roles and relations contained therein. The film creates and attempts to resolve a tension between two age-old rite-of-passage premises: that (1) it is desirable to relate to females, at least from the perspective of the movie's three pubescent male protagonists (and, by implication, the movie's pre- mid- and post-pubescent male audiences [the question of what and how a female audience is to relate to the movie is an interesting, and ancillary, issue]), and (2) relating to females is confusing, irreducibly so. In essence, Apatow is asking his audience: is it worth it? Does pursuit of the feminine define masculine coming-of-age, thereby validating such impulses, or is the essence of maleness (as Socrates, Plato, and Wilde might support) to cling to obtuse, crotch-grabbing masculinity, placing "bros before hoes" and rejecting the physiological and biological mystery of the female?

To complicate matters, the line quoted above is followed immediately by Jane, Evan's mother, emerging from their house to thank Seth for "taking care of [Evan]". The irony is palpable: thoroughly virginal as Seth and Evan are, despite their vulgarities acting as desperate protestations to the contrary, emergence from their mothers' vaginas has been their only first-hand experience with the female genitalia. Seth's sexualization of Evan's mother is expected, and telling: if Seth and Evan form a twin-headed protagonist (whose story throughout the night moves in counterpoint to the second protagonist, Fogell [Christopher Mintz-Plasse] a/k/a McLovin), then Seth is Evan's Freudian id acting out, in a way that Evan cannot himself vocalize or otherwise express. In essence, Seth is the opposite of a Jiminy Cricket: an anthropomorphicized anti-conscience, expressing the base desires that would be unthinkable - but not wholly unpalatable - for Evan.

Interestingly, in this scene, there is also a transferral of parental roles taking place: Jane, largely absent for the rest of the film, is asking Seth to take care of Evan. Seth's response to her is not that of a preadolescent, but rather a budding post-adolescent sexualization of the feminine. This brings to mind the Freudian stages of male maturation and development: while the female grows into womanhood by clinging to Mother, the male grows into manhood by rejecting - or being rejected by - Mother, and instead embracing a characteristically-male Society. Anything less results in crippling neurosis: and, while Evan may be awkward, I have no sense that he is supposed to be viewed by the audience as sexually repressed. Sexually desirous, yes, of a seemingly-unreachable goal (putting women on pedestals, and thereby objectifying and ironically denigrating them, is another theme of the film) but unfulfilled desire is a far cry from sexual repression.

Cera's character is himself a study in tension: quirky and callow in worldview and experience, he is oddly youthless in mannerism and speech. He is the anti-protagonist, the opposite of what society says is Cool and Teenage. While he wears a hoody - as iconically Mid-'00s Teen as tight white tees were in the Arthur Fonzarelli/James Dean era - it covers a boring, beige-striped polo shirt; Evan is a man concealed in the body of a child, and while his longings are awkwardly and childishly expressed, they are not awkward and childish longings (compare them, for example, to the musings of Hill's Seth, which are garishly explicit and thereby come off as a good deal more undeveloped than Evan's quiet romanticism and the muted sexuality of his courtship).

That addresses two out of the three (or one out of the two, given their existence as, essentially, two sides of the same coin) protagonists of the film: there is also Mintz-Plasse's Fogell, better remembered to audiences in his film-stealing performance as "McLovin". In his characterization, we again see Apatow's sense for incisive irony (demonstrated previously in his high school magnum opus, Freaks and Geeks) at work: Fogell, despite his pseudonymous loverboy aspiration, is the least overtly sexual of the three. Fogell's sexual quarry for the night, Nicola, is a cipher, a caricature next to the comparatively fleshed-out Jules and Becca, Seth and Evan's respective crushes. Fogell pursues Nicola not as part of a coming-of-age ritual, but in a muted mimicry of Seth and Evan's ultimately deeper and fulfilling relational desires. While Fogell, Seth, and Evan all begin the movie with the aspiration of Being Cool, their paths diverge in a twinned what-if scenario: as Fogell's creation of his McLovin persona (a meta-device if ever there were one, and likely conscious commentary from the screenwriter of the process of character-creation) spirals out of control into zany wackyness, his exploits growing larger-than-life, Seth and Evan's night falls out in the opposite direction. McLovin is a brand of teenaged wonderchild, a High School student's idea of a good time: shooting guns, blowing up police cars, getting drunk (we can note that, while Evan and Seth were toting alcohol around all night, it is Fogell who seemingly winds up the most inebriated), and so on. Tellingly, the epilogue only addresses Evan and Seth; Fogell, it is implied, has no denouement in this story, because he has had no character development, no arc to speak of. While the fictional McLovin has been created, grew, and climaxed, his experiences have no bearing on the (comparatively) real Fogell.

Evan and Seth, on the other hand, seem to reach a verdict on The Question, albeit a complex verdict within which remains much to be resolved. As the last act of the film draws to a close, Evan and Seth curl up in side-by-side sleeping bags, reaffirming their masculinity as defined by one another: Maleness, in Apatow's world, stands largely on its own graces, a conclusion demonstrated in his other films (particularly Knocked Up), in which men and women seem to operate in thoroughly defined and tangential spheres. However, in the epilogue, Evan and Seth, finally happy and settled into their roles as Men, are at the mall the following day (in what is likely a telling clue, the entire narrative falls neatly into the structure of a single day, from morning through dusk, evening, late night, and concluding on the following morning) when they run into Jules and Becca, also recovering from the previous night's debauchery. The parallels between the Boys and Girls in this scene come as a surprise: Apatow has spent the whole movie telling us that the lines between Men and Women are high, nigh-insurmountable, and affirmation of Self involves, to some extent, rejection of the Other. But Becca and Jules, in this final scene, are a mirror of Evan and Seth, hinting at a complete story, from their points of view, paralleling the journey of our boys (a movie I would be interested in seeing, as much for the technical aspects of how it would be put together as for its narrative), and intimating to the audience that, when it comes down to it, Boys and Girls are not so much different as simply distanced.

In the final moments of the film, Evan and Seth and Jules and Becca exchange their other selves for new counterparts: Evan gives up his libidinous (and vocal!) id - Seth - and stands with Becca on his own, while Seth replaces Evan - his "son" - with Jules, and the prospect of a budding relationship, courtship, and potentially actual fatherhood. This is the first time that they take leave of one another - physically and, implicitly, emotionally - without a sense that this, too, will pass; perhaps, this time, it will not. The boys have finally taken their initial steps into manhood, and they depart - throwing meaningful glances at one another - with their respective love interests. Having cemented their masculine bonds the night before (I do not, as many seem to do, take this film as having homosexual undertones, except in the broadest and least interesting sense possible. Rather, Evan and Seth are, to me, two halves of one whole teenaged Male character), they no longer have to cling to or strive for them, and they are free to go their own ways, secure in Male relationship and ready to explore the grown-up and altogether more confusing world of heterosexual relationship.

Harvard Wireless

Harvard wireless kicks Yale wireless in the butt: I'm getting 900 kb/s in Yichen's common room. Chea!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fundamentally speaking

The questions seem to proceed, in rational order:
Am I alone?
Where is the Other, the self, and the other self?
Are they sustainable?

If we cannot - do not - share in suffering, then do we share? (Is it categorically selfishness to share joy and not pain?)

From where does a conception of duty arise, and to what extent are its boundaries self-determined?

Grace must cover it all over.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


O God, you chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
O God, you chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Living Water / Lock-In / Studio

11/7 - 11/8/2008


Kickin it with Living Water, Yale's Christian a capella
group (no Andy Bernard)



SBTG Dunk SB lo's. Asia Exclusive.

Later that night was UCW's lock-in. We have
literally been trying to put on one of these joints for
years, with no success. We soldiered on this year tho
and it was thorough.

Liz look fly in my gears.



Ayoo, Dan.

Moh lei made some mad foods for our sustenance.




Ben look fly too.

He's filled with glee, on the inside [||].

Errbody love to get behind them drums.


Lights out.

We did praise and worship, alternating with prayers (individual,
group, and communal), for two and a half hours. This was less
ridiculous and more spectacular than it sounds.

Culminating in kicking it up behind the podium on some family sing-
a-long ish, but no kumbaya.

Afterwards, we retired to the basement to enjoy the
goods prepared by Emily, plus ramen (always got to
have the ramen at church functions, nullus j.i.c.).

I call this next series of four shots, people eating
rice krispy treats.

Dan eating.

Alice eating.

Lills eating.

Grace was eating, then stopped.

Blee can't stay away, sonn be coming in from the city
all over the place. Good to see him around.

Cutting up.

Madd good, sonn.

On the electric gui-tar, Mr. Garrett Fiddler.




Blee looking bleeful.



A short while after finishing the praise portion of the
night, and during the jus kickin it segment, Esther
showed up (having fulfilled well her nightly allotment
of Freshman Counselor duties) with two young
charges in tow.

Yena be intense.

David be nonplussed.

UCW does love its kimchi.

Roughly two hours after I'd excused myself for bed, I
found myself back up and rockin steady in the church
office with the stalwart remainder of kinfolk still doin
they thing.


aha ha, ha.





Having outlasted the rest of our group, three of the freshmen and I
sent ourselves to sleep at 4:30 AM. A scant four and a half hours
later, we were rudely (or not so much) awoken, to some Will Smith
pancakes (i.e. they was so fresh) and sausages (nullus), OJ, etc.





Janice capable.



Liz, proud of her handiwork.

James' butterfly.

After finishing breakfast, we headed back: the students
to campus and me to home. Planning to hit the studio
that afternoon, I finished writing up some bars and
knocked out for an hour, then headed down into town
and to work.

SOS New Haven: Sheemo, Eman, Ca$h.

GANJI aka So Yoon (a/k/a So Money) came through as
well to bless the mic and take some flicks. The next
photographs are courtesy of her camera, ably wielded.

Da Boof'.


Stuntin' (pronounced stunnnin).





After an afternoon and evening well spent in these sorts of pursuits,
I headed over to Dport and kicked it in Erin's suite with some local
flavor for a long minute.

Local flavor, major [||] on this one, ayo.