[DR]: 11/4, Thirteen Empty Goats

by Olivia A. (’14)

The Virgin Mary, three chambermaids who are actually literary critics, and a pigeon walk into a bar. Or a book. Today in Creative Writing 2 we finished reading After Lorca by Jack Sparrow. I mean George. I mean Spicer. Does it really matter?

We read an absurdist play written by Federico García Lorca and translated by Jack Spicer called “Buster Keaton Rides Again: The Sequel.” We laughed a lot while reading it though we acknowledged that most of the Spanish citizens who witnessed it back when Lorca was alive probably weren’t laughing. When we stopped laughing we were frustrated with the idea of absurdist art. We talked about how absurdist works all aim to do the same thing—that is, to exhibit the ridiculousness and lack of inherent meaning in life—over and over again. Someone said that we would probably only need one play in the world with this idea and then we could move on. But really, I think that the things we do are always absurd! Here are some things that have happened during this unit:

Giorgia asked Maia about Hebrew semantics halfway through the lesson!
Avi has a Kit-Kat addiction!
People (probably not C-Dubs) tape clippings of hair to the bathroom walls!
We think the phrase “13 empty goats” is really, really funny!
A boy tried to run out of the room and the door shut just in time for him to slam up against it!
Maia was in a puppet theater!
“Federico García Lorcker!”
Anyway, our poetry unit is ending and we as though it went by very quickly. I am going to miss Spicer, Lorca, Maia, and especially the static electricity on the cover of my reader.

Rehearsal Week!

Yes, that exclamation point in the title is totally warranted, even if the permalink doesn’t think so.

Voyager is off to a great start— we’ve got our whole cast and crew here: Heather, Tony, Rachel, Carol, Isaiah, Maia… Plus the brilliant tech crew we can’t do without (as Beyoncé once said, “Who run the world? [Tech]!”). For the first time since my four-year-memory (the average lifespan of a high schooler), we’ve got all our Skits-I-Mean-Interludes finalized and roughly staged in the first day of theater rehearsals. We’re also aiming high this year, in that every CDub will have their pieces memorized for the show. I expect to just cruise (badum–CHING!) along this week, until Friday, our big show.

In the mean time, here are some pictures to keep y’all entertained:

Melodica-Alien and Jules Justus-Alien Hula/Macarena (?) girls Audience

[DR]: Brainstorming, Submissions, and Whacking Each Other With Literary Magazines

by Olivia A. (’14)

photo-1Our as yet untitled Fall Show is approaching fast—it’s on October 11th! Today in Creative Writing we did some brainstorming and outlining of potential themes for the show. I can’t speak for other groups, but mine had a very productive discussion out in the sunshine about communism and flour children.

This week is rather unstructured as it was initially set aside for Field Day practice—that is, before the field became a war zone. The WWI-esque trenches have been eliminated recently and it currently looks like a nice place to build grass seed castles or reenact the rest of 20th century military history.

After our group brainstorming sessions, three whole tables were laden with free books that were donated to CW! There was a wide range of literature, from The Dharma Bums to an assortment of newspapers from 1908 (one of which contained an intriguing article about a woman with an award-winning mustache). A civilized kind of feeding frenzy ensued, and everyone I observed seemed to come away from the experience with large, nearly unmanageable stacks of wonderful, wonderful books.

Giorgia (’14) and Frances (’14) then led a discussion about the CW submission requirement, specifically concerning the bios required by many literary magazines. The class had varying opinions as to what should be included in a bio and whether one should use one’s full name or discuss one’s cats. After a democratic discussion—democracy has become the norm in CW lately, introducing a wonderfully effectual aspect of civility to our discussions—we decided to stop talking about literary journals and instead make each other crawl around on the carpet whacking each other with them (it’s a community-building game, guys—for the community).

Excerpt from “English”

by Olivia Alegria (’14)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

“When one has reached the highest possible level of excellence, there is a ceiling that keeps him or her from rising up so far that he or she does not float away entirely. Absolute possible perfection is a hotly debated concept, but most parties have agreed that it is nearly impossible to achieve, as proven by the multitudes of people who have obviously left large amounts of potential energy dangling in the ether. It is a little-known fact that Benjamin Franklin developed the first machine whose purpose was to measure the potential energy carried by the possibilities of a singular human being. It is widely considered to have been an unsuccessful model, yet it can be said that there is no possible way of proving its results to be inaccurate.”

“There are two men in front of me on the bus talking about music and art. It would be nice if I were able to talk about such sophisticated things. I’ve always thought I must have the mental capacity for it—I am intelligent enough, I just need to know how to tell good art from bad. I also need to make enough money to buy the art, ha ha. But I feel like I could get somewhere, like I could understand something important that I’ve felt for such a long time, something inside of me. It’s such a strange thing to know some way out, but not know it. I don’t want to stop thinking today, because I believe in luck and I think I’m in the middle of a mental domino trick that spirals in to the big Thing I must understand. I am going to my friend’s farm from college. I am on a Greyhound bus. I can’t stop thinking or else it will go away. It will make me so happy I won’t have to worry about romance or money or other things I want. I will be whole and uncorrupted, and I will be fine with myself, and I will know the right way. I mean this is optimistic obviously, I don’t know how anything could possibly work out, and obviously looking at the circumstances I am probably wrong, but I am a hopeful person. The guys in front of me are still talking about art—such stamina! I think art goes well with wine. I will take a wine-tasting class someday, so I can appreciate it fully. Apparently, with the right training, you can taste whole other worlds in things like wine: spring orchards and lemongrass and maybe even some meat dishes. Maybe I will teach a wine-tasting class someday. The woman walking down the aisle to the toilet at the back of the bus has callused feet, which I can see because she has taken off her shoes. Maybe she is a tired saleswoman, and she is having an affair, and she is truly in love though she will not admit it to herself that her life could be so complicated, yet so hopeful. I think I would like to be a good judge of character.”

Gallifrey One 2013: The Twenty-Four Hours of Gallifrey One

by Giorgia (’14)

In February I attended Gallifrey One, one of the largest Doctor Who conventions in the country, for my fifth consecutive year. This year, Gallifrey crept up on me, drowned out by the chaos of Junior year, instead of the months of preparation, from hotel room to costumes and ribbons (a tradable tradition at the con). While Gally is far from the biggest or most active con I attend all year, it has been and most likely always will be my favorite, and the week before was wrought with excitement and nervous energy, checking the days off on my finger each morning at school.

Still, it didn’t feel like it was truly time for Gally until Olivia (A, of Creative Writing, my partner in crime at Gallifrey One) and I were walking to our gate in the airport, and saw a couple in front of us, one in a replica of the Tenth Doctor’s coat. We couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the time in the airport, even with our flight delayed for an hour. The time was upon us; LobbyCon awaited.

There’s nothing like the smell of Los Angeles air when you step outside of the airport and into the neon and scream of taxis and bewildered, jet lagged travelers. For me, I associate this thick, slightly toxic smell with Gallifrey, with “my people,” and my home away from home. Gallifrey is merely three days out of the entire year, but for those of us who return again and again, it truly is home. I said to my friend, Alannah, in our sleep-deprived delirium and sadness of closing ceremonies on Sunday night, “I grew up at this con!” and I did! Not as much as some of the children, such as Patrick (now an adult!), but I did. A lot of growing takes place between 7th grade (my first Gally) and 11th. My friends, much of whom are older, and have changed much less drastically, remark on this each year with affection and jokes about their own “elderly” ages. This year, I was missing sixteen inches of hair and sporting a hot pink beanie, and it often took me stating my name for people to recognize me, much to both of our chagrin.

As I spoke to people throughout the weekend, some Gallifrey veterans, other first-timers, some who had been watching the show since the sixties and some who had only joined the Doctor on his most recent travels, everyone was amazed at the environment of the con, that it felt like home, a family. As a staff member of the convention (Costume Repair) and long-time attendee, I have seen the department heads and chairpeople of the convention struggle with maintaining this sense of community despite its growth from ~800 (2009) to over 3,000 (2013). While last year was a struggle, this year they easily accomplished this, and everyone walked around the con with a smile on their face.

Gallifrey isn’t just about meeting people involved in making Doctor Who, or dressing up in silly costumes. It’s about seeing friends you see once a year, about Champions, the daleks roaming the halls, Tony Lee, late night karaoke and the faux-casino themed-Gala; it’s about ribbons. Gally isn’t just about what we love, it’s about how we love it, and sharing that with one another.

Girl Scout Cookies and World-Building

by Olivia A. (’14)

Many of you have probably noticed by now that I’m a girl scout (especially now that it’s cookie season, meaning that you can buy cookies from me for $4 a box if you feel so inclined). It’s difficult for a lot of people to imagine high school-age girl scouts. One would think girls would lose their attraction to the organization once they age and the cookie-selling gets tough (it’s much easier to make money if you are six years old, adorable, and shivering on a street corner). However, my troop has stuck through it for eight years now and has morphed over time to become a very intimate, eccentric group. Ours is probably the only troop in history to also be a band (four ukuleles and an occasional children’s accordion).

A couple of years ago we came up with the idea of doing a Harry Potter-themed camporee to put on for younger girls in our service unit. We were excited by the possibility of fully entrenching not only ourselves but those around us in an exciting world of our own invention. It became a very complicated and involved process. Not only were we planning the logistical aspects of hosting a camporee for one hundred guests, but also creating the fictional world we would reside in for the weekend. We used the basic structure of the Harry Potter books to plan out the world, yet we created our own characters, legends, and traditions—all complex and fully realized.

I was Professor Kale P. Cucumere for the entire weekend. I had a backstory, costume, and personality that I occupied and believed in. The younger girls did too. They believed that the Oobleck I was teaching them to make had magical properties, and that I had real stories to tell them about my days as a wild werewolf loose in the Oregon forests. They often came up to me, excitedly demonstrating how they could get the non-Newtonian substance to shift between solid and liquid. They asked me about Kale Cucumere’s middle name, her family, and her favorite place in the forest.

I don’t think anyone came away from our camp expecting to perform real magic, and I didn’t honestly envision myself transforming into a werewolf after I went to sleep at night—and yet, I like to think that in fully realizing the stories that we created, my friends and I briefly brought to life a world that we felt at home in.


by Olivia A. (’14)

When I consider the large number of things in this world that I adamantly avoid (pre-calculus, prolonged eye contact, hair braiding, logarithms, shaving, calligraphy, the ACT, etc.), knitting is the final, impassable frontier. I can’t knit. I won’t knit. I will never knit.

This has been a difficult truth to come to ever since I was young, annoying, and extremely impressionable. I knit a hat once to appease curiosity for my mother, though it’s the only thing I’ll ever knit (I call it my clown barf hat for a reason). I know I can knit, and that I should want to knit. I’ve been raised around sheep and textile artists (a culture of surrogate grandmothers wearing hand-knit socks with sandals, discussing sustainable organic cotton, mushrooms, and menopause), so I have no real excuse for not knitting—I have the skills, the tutors, and the frighteningly large quantities of yarn. I just won’t do it, and I’m accepting that now because I know from experience that knitting makes my brain explode.

But it’s okay, I don’t have to do it. I think by this point my mother and her friends have accepted the loss. They’ve given me mohair locks to make rainbow leg warmers and listened to the long-winded explanations behind my felted cell diagrams that look like pea pods and ham. I try to make crafts that I want to make, do the art I want to do, and spend my free time how I want to spend it. What would be the point of it otherwise?

Learning Hawaiian Ukelele

by Olivia A. (’14)

I’ve played music since I took up the violin in fourth grade. Until this summer, I hadn’t deviated much from my training in classical music (“I Kissed a Girl,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and the My Little Pony theme song being notable exceptions). Over this past summer I realized that I was completely fed up with the attitude towards music of the classical musicians around me. I enjoy listening to a lot of classical music and I love a lot of the people I know who play it, so my reasoning was not so much rooted in the music itself or the people themselves. I quit viola because I personally couldn’t handle the competitive, judgmental musical culture that I was experiencing. It was difficult to quit—I have always been told to choose something and stick with it. That mentality, I’ve realized, often doesn’t suit my distracted, indecisive nature.

I quit my private lessons, returned my viola, and decided to try something that is nearly the polar opposite of the musical culture I had become used to—traditional Hawaiian ukulele. This style of ukulele is primarily rooted in both the meaning of the words and in the purpose of the music as a component of hula dancing. My teacher treats the lyrics as poetry, explaining how the references and symbolism in each song relate to aspects of Hawaiian culture and history. For example, in a song called “Puamana,” the English translation of a Hawaiian line is simply “the bright moon glistening.” However, one word in the Hawaiian text, “kōnane,” is actually the name of an ancient Hawaiian board game similar to checkers. White and black stones are moved around indentations in a large slab of rock, creating an effect likened to the reflection of the moon on the waves.

My experience learning Hawaiian music has been entirely different from my experience with classical western music. The process is much calmer, in general—I’m not constantly worrying about people judging my skill level. However, that isn’t to say that Hawaiian music is easy to play. It is difficult to strum, change chords, and sing in Hawaiian with correct pronunciation simultaneously.

I always look forward to playing the ukulele. I’ll pick it up and accidentally play for hours without realizing that I’m practicing. Similarly, I often don’t realize that in learning the music, I’m exploring Hawaiian history, culture, and poetry. It’s all begun to blend together in my mind—the way a song can reference the leaves of a tree that grows nuts whose oil can be extracted to create candles likened to a lighthouse on an island with a history about the Spanish cowboys who lent the song its Hispanic influences that influenced the culture of the island, that informs the poetry of it—I’m learning to see these islands through the songs, and I wonder how I’ve managed to learn anything in any other way.

The de Young Museum Ambassador Program

by Olivia A. (’14)

For the past two summers I’ve worked at the de Young Museum as a Museum Ambassador—which is an imposing name for a whimsical job (in a constructive, healthy way that occasionally involves doing impressions of Picasso or throwing modeling clay at coworkers). When my coworkers and I weren’t playing word games or debating the quality of various frozen yogurt shops around the city, we were teaching art lessons to elementary school-age children in their camps or schools, and learning about the art in the museum.

During the school year Ambassadors are either in a presentation group or a tour group. The presentation groups go out to schools to teach art lessons related to the collection the tour group presents. The tours are very different from normal museum tours—they are based on the students’ observations rather than on historical context and scholarly interpretations.

I’ve learned so much over the past two years about public speaking, professionalism, and art history that I don’t know who I’d be without this program. To apply for this school year session fill out an application (found at http://deyoung.famsf.org/education/museum-ambassadors) and go to the de Young on Monday, October 1st for an orientation. You may have to arrange to miss one class period every week to go out and teach—though I know that two years ago when I worked during the school year there was an afterschool team to accommodate Ambassadors who weren’t able to miss class. If you’re interested I highly recommend at least going to the orientation–it’s not an opportunity you want to miss.