mistersandman: (SHAME)
I went through my misguided photo-journal this afternoon.  It was a nice reminder of some fun things that happened last month, but it was also a reminder of how miserable I'd been during that time.  Maybe I'll see the value in capturing those memories in the more distant future?  For now, I'm just annoyed by the bad writing.
mistersandman: (Default)

I went to see an excellent presentation of renowned gospel singer Mahalia Jackson's life and work on Sunday.  Outside the theater, there was this long array of paintings taken of the Cathedral of Learning.  The Cathedral of Learning was supposedly originally built to put the University of Pittsburgh on the map, but it is most useful today as a Drunk Compass, leading the sloppy and the disheveled back to campus. 

A couple of kids invited me to a meeting with a lawyer to discuss my old slumlord, Saad Ibrahim.  These guys were trying to get a class-action lawsuit started against him, but predictably, it would cost more time money to pursue than it would to cut our losses and shake our fists in futility.

But on the upside I got a great view from this high rise.  You can see the raindrops from the thunderstorm that ended an hour before I took the picture.

mistersandman: (Default)
Still recovering from a nineties party last night.  Nobody told me it was a costume party until we were about to leave.  Even if I'd had time to prepare, I probably wouldn't look as radical as this very cool kid:

sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cool

Speaking of awesome throwbacks, check out this Great Gatsby NES game!!

mistersandman: (hahaha)
I might have mentioned that I'm in a history writing class.  I might have mentioned that it's a history of wilderness preservation class.  What I haven't mentioned recently is that I've 脱离苦海.  I got my professor to allow me to write a paper on the effectiveness of the Chinese government's response to water shortages.  (HINT: not very well!)

I spent a great deal of time today running about and making this paper a reality.  First I had to meet with my professor, who's been very supportive.  He's interested in the politics of water usage in the United States.  He's intrigued by the seemingly universal strife between the core and the periphery.  The man is possibly one hundred years old.  He looks like a liberal Clint Eastwood.  During one lecture, he paused to growl, "I don't like Obama.  He's too conservative for me."

Once I had Dougherty's blessing, I met up with my friend Mary to brainstorm ideas for sources.  Mary has a much greater interest in the environment than I.  I might even go so far to say that she has a greater interest in China than I, if you'll believe it.  I quickly took this picture on my way to the cafe that she'd holed up in:

mistersandman: (Default)

My friend Angela used to live near this cliff before she dropped out of school.  I can't count the number of times I looked over the cliff on the way to her house.  The road crumbles at the end of the cliff abruptly, as if plans for a bridge were quickly scrapped or they realized what a terrible idea it would be to send a road down the cliff three days into the project.  Now there are these toppled cement pylons to prevent anyone from inadvertently driving into the valley.  The cliff faces directly east and Angela and I always planned to look at the sunrise together. 

We never looked at the sunrise but we had a lot of good times together.  It was so jarring when she told me she wasn't coming back after Thanksgiving break.

mistersandman: How would you feel if you had to put on a really stupid hat? (comical hat)

So my friend Richard and I followed our good mutual friend Anna to her job in Squirrel Hill because that's where the cheapest grocery market is. And I guess we like Anna.  Under the pretense that I was going to buy something (LIES), Anna convinced her boss at Gamestop to put Marvel vs. Capcom 3 in the resident Xbox 360.  Awesome times. 

Of course, we're immediately pestered by this eight year old kid who had to get in on the action, which suited Richard just fine because he was tired of kicking my ass.  The kid asks how to play the game.  I ask him if he's played Marvel vs. Capcom 2 or perhaps Street Fighter.  He has no idea what Street Fighter is.  Nope.  So we get down to character pickings.  After a round or two with Richard, I've already fallen in love with Amerterasu and Magneto and I immediately put them on my team.  The kid picks Deadpool and Wolverine because they are soo cool.  Fair enough.  After I give him a good licking (purely by accident, I mashed a lot of buttons), he decides he'll play me using my team.  Only he doesn't know who Magneto is.


How does a kid know about Deadpool but not Magneto?  What are kids watching these days?  I've never felt so old in my life.
mistersandman: (watchmen)

That's quite a sight to wake up to.  School wasn't canceled, alas.  My Stalin professor drove from Akron, Ohio to give a 9:30 lecture, only to discover that less than a fourth of the class was there.  I don't blame them.  His lectures are getting more and more divergent with reality.  Today he was telling us that the only reason people in the West talk smack about agriculture collectivization is because they think that it was a maneuver the government pulled at gunpoint to gain control over people's lives.   I suggested more practical flaws in collectivization, but he wasn't having any of it.  He went so far as to suggest that there was never any famine in Soviet Russia. 

What can you expect from someone who confuses Adam Smith for Ayn Rand?

Pretty routine week so far.  I'm working on a four-day stretch without going out to eat, which is unfortunately pretty good for me.  I'm way too lazy when it comes to cooking.  It says a lot when a lemon-pepper-corn-tuna casserole on rice is a major undertaking for me (but a delicious one!).

mistersandman: (Default)
Only a week left in February, I'm sure everyone will miss this photoseries more than me!

I'm spending a lot of time at my friends' place - they've been so kind as to donate blankets to the end of creating a shantytown for me. Great times.

We got a "wintery mix" today -- Clouds became rain which became hail which became snow. Don't really have a lot to say right now. I'm starting to learn how to knit from [personal profile] magneticwave ; my ultimate goal is to knit some hats for my friends. I still have a long ways to go, though. Learning to knit is something I arbitrarily put on a list of things I wanted to do in college. It seems like a useful skill to have?
mistersandman: (Default)
After I wrote my last post, I wound up going to a friend's house and playing his new pencil & paper RPG Clockwork Soul until 4 AM.  Great time, bad for my already dismal sleep debt.  Woke up at two, knew I wasn't going anywhere today.  Here's a picture of my backyard.


There are some moments that are too transcendent to be spoiled by the written word.
mistersandman: (Default)

Went to the Vagina Monologues yesterday, deftly directed by [personal profile] treesahquiche and performed by a variety of talented folks. I was dying from the night before, when I stayed up just about all night writing my Stalin midterm essay, but I somehow found it in me to stay awake well past three so I could guarantee I'd be late for the psychology study at eight today.

On one hand, I was glad I was awake so early, simply because it allowed me to enjoy so much of the day. We've been enjoying uncannily great weather this week. This time last year, we were suffering through a snowpocalypse, now it is bright and breezy. Our reprieve is only temporary, unfortunately. It's supposed to snow on Tuesday.

I thought I'd take advantage of the gorgeous weather to travel to the Waterfront to pick up some yarn to knit a wedding present for my future stepmother. Getting to the Waterfront is simple. Getting out can be hell. Only one bus that passes through the Waterfront will take you back to Oakland. This bus comes once every hour or so, if it's on time. When it is not on time, you are treated to a tortuous parade of buses headed anywhere but home.

I hate waiting.

Lines don't bother me. A line moves, it's a human progress bar that slowly drains. Being totally at the mercy of someone else's leisure drives me nuts. So I struck a deal with the devil and took a bus that said it was headed downtown, for the sake of momentum. So it was that I wound up on a thirty minute tour of the outskirts of Pittsburgh. It was incredibly depressing. The shores of the Allegheny river are covered in abandoned factories and warehouses, relics of better days when businessmen packed more than one white shirt because the soot that made the sun set at nine in the morning would turn a white shirt grey before lunch.

I took some pictures downtown, but none of them turned out very well because I didn't get to downtown before dusk and the sun had more or less set.

The dark and foreboding building in the back is the Pittsburgh Plate Glass company building. If I ever direct a movie, that is where the bad guy will live.
mistersandman: Friends are a nice thing to have... Could you be my friend, too? (happy dance)

So most of my night shots aren't very high quality and come out kind of blurry, but I like to think of them as artistic. It's like a watercolor in real life! This building is Posvar Hall. I spend a lot of time here because it is where the history department is located. Man I sure do love history.

"I sure do love history" was in effect, how my page-long letter to Scott Westerfeld went today. Unsatisfied with sending out ten letters begging for work (four of which have already declined), I sent him a letter telling him how much I enjoyed his Leviathan YA series. I also asked him a bunch of dumb questions about Russian Communism and Chinese politics at the turn of the century. I'm not sure if I have enough good will left in my heart to gush about the series right now, but I will certainly try!

Anything to keep me away from that Stalin paper.

The premise of Leviathan is incredibly cool. It's so cool that I'm willing to forgive some of its weaknesses. Basically, it presents an alternate history where the two sides of World War I were not just divided by stupid alliances and divergent colonial interests, but also by their different paths down awesome technology trees. The Triple Entente became the Darwinists, people who exploited Darwin's discovery of DNA (???) to create huge fabricated war monsters. The Central Powers became the Clankers, who run around in large walking machines. The books are all beautifully illustrated by Keith Thompson, who also sure loves history!

Oh, and if you are at all curious about the music that I'm currently listening to, do yourself a huge favor and check out this new album: STRIFE!  It takes you to happy places, happy places where you don't have a paper due in a few hours.

mistersandman: (watchmen)

Attempted walk with [personal profile] treesahquiche thwarted by icy paths. I took a couple of pictures during that excursion, but this is my favorite.

Pretty sure I was half-asleep all day today. I took this picture in the Graduate School of Public Health, the most obvious location for a class on Stalin.
mistersandman: (SHAME)

On a clear day, I'm surprised how close I am to downtown.
mistersandman: (Default)
Today was a quiet day in the best possible way. Lots of nice moments with good friends, as it should be!

As the two five dollar pizza joints on campus, Sorrento's and Antoon's are locked in a death struggle. Sorrento's has an area where drunk kids can sit and eat, but they only offer five dollar pizza after 8. Meanwhile, Antoon's offers pizza at $4.90 all day, but is roughly the size of my living room. Local scuttlebutt has it that Antoon's is looking to acquire the adjacent parking lot so it can expand and provide a place to sit as well. I'd be down with that, assuming it didn't affect the price. I personally prefer the taste and texture of Antoon's pizza (The cheese of Sorrento's pizza sits uneasily on the mantle of sauce and tends to slip off at the least provocation), so Antoon's is always my first choice.

I took this picture waiting at Antoon's today. I guess someone is a Superman fan? I don't know what the club thing is for. It doesn't look like it gets a lot of use. Whatever, I think this picture is cool.

And since I only took two photos today, here's the second:

Mister Rogers, another beloved son of Pittsburgh. When I came to Pitt, I was shocked to learn that Mr. Rogers was a crack Marine sniper and he wore sweaters all the time to hide the numerous tattoos on his forearms and biceps. Slightly incredulous, I chose to believe it because it made the Ultimate Showdown seem a more logical.

Of course, the story turned out to be completely false. Too bad.

With this post, I now have a grand total of 21 posts, which means you'll have to click on "previous" if you want to see all my posts. YES.


Feb. 11th, 2011 09:59 pm
mistersandman: (Default)
So I started this series to make my life appear more interesting or something. And now this project has come full circle, as I delay interesting projects to give you assholes another picture of scenic Pittsburgh.

I mean, it's not like I didn't have time today. I think I sunk a good two and a half hours into playing Metroid Prime, a game so fantastic that I'm kicking myself that I didn't play until just now. My friend owns the two sequels and I'm definitely playing those this summer. Might as well, since nothing good has come out for the Wii since 2008.

They're tearing down the children's hospital. Because fuck children.
mistersandman: (Default)

Went downtown for a spell today. This is called the Bridge of Sighs on one side was the court and the other side was the prison. Those windows on the bridge were the last glimpse of the outside world for many of the prisoners. Cheerful!

I love being in cities because of the effect the cityscape has on my imagination. The urban horror/fantasy is an idea that has really captivated me during college. You could probably trace this obsession directly through China Mieville's works, specifically Perdido Street Station, The City and the City, as well as Kraken with a wink and a nod to Jeff VanderMeer's Shriek. I don't have time to really expand on precisely what I mean by urban horror/fantasy, but while I'm sketching out a quick canon I'd like to give a quick shout-out to Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere and portions of his work on Sandman. And as I slide down the banister of decreasing literary merit, some Batman comics have also played with urban horror-- Peter Milligan's "Dark Knight, Dark City" and David Lapham's "City of Crime" are outstanding examples.
mistersandman: (SHAME)
I want this week to be over. I want next week to be over too. With all due respect to people who have enjoyed this series for some arcane reason, I'd be okay if this month were over as well.

No matter how awful I feel, there's always one thing that can cheer me up:

The really staid guy is Stephen Foster. He's kind of a big deal around these parts, although like many famous Pittsburghers who didn't peddle in human misery, he only became famous after he left Pittsburgh. If you've never heard of Stephen Foster, he wrote O Suzanna and Hard Times (Come Again No More). If you've never heard of those songs, chances are you aren't from the South or are pretty far removed from the discord of elementary school music classes.

And who's the dashing fellow to the left?  Why is he included in this tableaux?  Your guess is good as mine.  He looks like he's a lot more fun than stupid old Stephen Foster.
mistersandman: (hahaha)
So if it wasn't that obvious to you, my immense and adulating audience, I've been feeling kind of down recently. Clearly the best solution (next to keeping a photodiary on Dreamwidth) is to sign up for some kind of isolation depression study. I'll be crying all the way to the bank because the first session alone means I go home with $120. It's like Christmas only without the awkward family traditions.

Here's yesterday's photo:

There are a lot of dinosaurs in Pittsburgh. Some of them support the
Steelers, even in the face of heart-wrenching defeat.

It snowed. Again.

I'm trying to exercise more often, I'm off now to go to a kung fu class run by my friend.


Of course, of all nights my friend chose not to show up tonight and class was led by his equally-capable second-in-command. I've been really lackadaisical about attendance and so they weren't exactly thrilled to see me try my hand at kung fu once again. I ran some really basic stuff by myself while they did cooler things as a group. I'll be honest, it was rather disheartening but there's nowhere to go but up!
mistersandman: (hahaha)

Super Bowl 45 today. The whole city has gone insane. I was in the Strip district this morning and the sidewalks were packed with people hawking various Steelers paraphernalia and playing the Here We Go Steelers song from every speaker.

There was also a man with an accordion.

My roommate and I have a real feast for tonight: wings, chips, beer. Who can ask for more?


Feb. 5th, 2011 07:42 pm
mistersandman: (watchmen)
Two posts in one day. How I suffer for my own self-imposed schedule, but it's better than falling behind!

Woke up, derped around on Metroid Prime (which is such a good game that it's criminal I didn't play it nine years ago), participated in a psychology experiment. I don't have a job right now, so basically my only source of income is doing psychology experiments. I'm hoping to land a $150 isolation study soon, but in the meantime I can't say no to $8 for analyzing Hugo Chavez's body language, which is what I was tasked today.

After that, it was time for D&D!!

Man, so cool. All of the wooden figurines and tiles you see above were made by one of our party members. He's a fantastic artist and I'm going to use this opportunity to plug his comic.  I've been playing with this group for two semesters now and it's been a great time, a great time that I will not bother telling you very much about. As I've discovered talking to other D&D players, no matter how interesting you think your tabletop escapades are, when experienced second-hand they are invariably dull.

Suffice to say: We play in a world where things are generally pretty awful! Evil sorcerer-kings rule over caste societies that operate on the misery of a large slave population. Abuse of magic has led to massive deforestation. I play a Templar, a servant of one of the aforementioned evil kings who was recently deposed in a slave rebellion. I want to restore "order" to my city and to that end I have recruited my slave-driver and childhood friend (who is also half-dragon!), an overgrown sentient mantis nomad from the wasteland, and a former tradeprince who seeks to restore his title and become fabulously wealthy. We used to travel with an elf peasant monk with psychic powers, but we murdered him because he rightly believed we were a gang of thugs and a blight upon an already-blighted land.  In the words of Lenin, we are too rude.

I don't know what it says about me that my character, Lord Eridan "The Shotgun" Vantas is a racist fanatic who wants to restore/create an oppressive regime. Character development is a tricky thing to pull off in a roleplaying game. If anything, I feel like characters become less nuanced as time goes by. It's just easier to take certain traits such as fanatic nationalism or total ruthlessness and exaggerate them, rather than explore them.

Which isn't to say there hasn't been any development at all. I'm not very good at D&D, which means that poor Vantas has had to learn humility the hard way: lots and lots of death. I think I've died in the majority of the sessions that we've played. Similarly, working with people of different races and political ideologies has forced him to be more tactful, if not tolerant.

At the end of the day, it comes down to this: As cool as it would be to put my exiled noble through a gut-wrenching redemptive character arc, it's much more fun to play a cunning bastard who wants to rule the world with an iron, yet posh, fist.
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