Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I've Done Something Post-Worthy

So, after a week and a half, my special study abroad program has let us out on our own - sans private vans with drivers, guides and 30 other kids. Thus, I have my first interesting thing to 'blog' (could there be a worse word? I think we're going to just stick with 'write') about.

Last night I followed L who has lived in Ghana for 2 years, to watch a local election following the death of the local parliamentary representative. L was doing this for a journalism project and so had responsibilities. I was pretty much a dead weight. I just tagged along and talked to some of the plain clothes police officers - I generally had really dynamic questions for them, such as, "is everything going smoothly?" and they generally had really interesting responses, such as, "yes."

Though, as a general rule, they approached me with a truly unexpected question: "where are you from?"

Is that to imply that I don't look like a local? Because, um, I don't, but I think that I would have had a better chance of fitting in if the Ghanaian children didn't point and laugh at me, whispering to each other - all of which inevitably provoked me, like a trained circus clown, to wave, smile and say (in a falsely cheerful and oddly high voice) "Hi!"

So, the voting went off without a hitch, and we watched a couple of the polling stations HAND count their votes. It was actually really impressive because many of the people who voted at that polling station came to watch and partake in the votes, each party had an observer there and everyone counted all the votes together out loud. When all the votes were counted, all the polling stations sent their final numbers (and the ballots themselves) to some central location - they went by foot with a police escort.

L and I went to watch the ballots arrive and wait for the final announcement, things were getting roudy - though not in any kind of violent manner like we Americans like to think of 'those rowdy natives,' but in a jubilant sense, like they were celebrating a smooth voting process with excellent turnout (around 75%, we think). Though a couple policemen put a bit of a damper on things when they started threatening people with batons and told us (the only two abruni in the area) that we should leave because people would beat us up and rob us. But then another cop told us we would be fine, and a few Ghanaians said that they were just there to watch and hear the announcement, and to take part in the democratic process and that we would be fine and that the police shouldn't have said that. Which we agreed with, but my hands were more than a bit clamy - and it wasn't just the humidity.

Adding up all the votes took a few hours and when they finally announced that the NDC had won everyone cheered, danced, chanted, sang etc. etc. When we finally tried to push our way out of the crowd (with a really nice Ghanaian journalism student we had met) everyone yelled abruni and moved nicely out of the way. Ghanaians really are nice, once you meet one they really want to take care of you.

I was tired and cranky when I got home, but was cheered by another awesome Ghanaian meal of rice, beans and plantains and an early bed time.

Today I have every intention of buying laundrey detergent. That could make for an interesting post!

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Welcome to the new and improved Internal Monologuing! For all you loyal readers, I'm sure that was a tough week or two with no posts from me, but now we can put the past behind us and move on into a new and shining future together.

I am in Ghana for the next four months - so expect a different tone on the page: a lot less pop culture and a lot more culture shock. less talk about me and more about being me in ghana - so that's really different.

I don't have much time now, and have to run, but I'll post something entertaining early in the week. Expect lots of pictures and interesting (hopefully) stories in the next few months.


Monday, August 15, 2005

"You're Hall Of Fame In My Book."

ABC just showed Remember The Titans. Is there any better movie? Every time I watch it I want to go back and relive high school (which is appalling now that it's out of my mouth because that is actually my worst nightmare) but this movie honestly makes me wish I had played football, lived in a small southern town and experienced horrible bigotry (though I'd like to give a shout out to the fact that I have never experienced any of the three). But it does make me pine for my glory days of high school sports.

This a very appropriate time for ABC to show this movie, because I was only just reading YBNBY's Top Ten TearJerker Flicks For Guys - honestly, who didn't tear up in Rudy?

This time the movie was even better because I think it was some kind of director's cut or something because there were extra scenes that I've never seen before - which were awesome: can you say pickled pigs feet? I have seen this movie many, many times, including the time I watched it during a 7 hour bus trip across Peru. In Spanish. Without subtitles. And no dubbing. And I don't speak Spanish. The kicker? I still cried a little bit. Honestly, how many movies have you cried at without understanding the dialogue? Well, that's not completely fair, I remember the dialogue well enough to quote most of the movie including when Coach Boone says, "you're hall of fame in my book." and, at the end, when the girl (with the bad southern accent - I wonder how that translated in spanish?) narrating says, "every day, we remember the titans." - followed by a loud and guttural sob on my end.

Roll credits... aaaaaaaaannnd... scene!

Friday, August 12, 2005

"'Cause It Smells Like Dead Cat"

My sister arrived last night from that city of wide boulevards, grand buildings and landscaping: Washington DC. She took the chinatown bus. When she arrived under the Manhattan Bridge I was on my way down to meet her. She called me and said, "Is there anywhere I can walk toward you or something? 'cause... it smells like a dead cat right here."
"Oh, no, that's just chinatown. The whole place smells like a dead cat. And multiple dead cats is probably the explanation for that. Only, they're probably on sale down the street."

(in other chi-town-town-smellling news, see Aileen Gallagher's bit on Black Table)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me Beautiful People Were Going To Be Parading Around Times Square In Their Underwear?

For all the time I spend wasting time on the internet, mostly reading 'news' and 'pop culture' blogs - not to mention personal blogs - how is it that no one told me about this 'event' before it took place? Watching beautiful people in scant clothing is probably my favorite past time - after doing nothing, of course. And the best part about this people watching extravaganza is that they may be beautiful, but they're wearing their underwear, so it's even easier to find tiny, tiny little flaws that make me feel hugely, hugely better about myself: "is that the beginning of a love handle i see on that six pack? or just a little baby fat you haven't managed to burn/starve off yet?" or, "she has a hot ass and legs, but her knees go in a little bit when she walks" or, "is that a, gasp, tan line?"

So if we could make sure news like this gets out before it happens that would be great.

(Gawker via YesButNoButYes)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Coca Cola Zero: The New Hipster Orgasm

I thought that this commercial from that bastion of exploitation, degredation, homogenization and originality, coca-cola had disappeared from the airwaves. But, sadly, like the hipster movement it panders to, the commercial appears to be resistant to industrial-strength pesticides and the normal 15-minute lifespan of fads.

The first time I saw this commercial I laughed out loud. "It's like one, long, hipster orgasm," I yelled. My roommates chuckled and smiled in that way that says, "he's special, kind of sad actually, but we keep him around because we just don't have the heart to tell him the truth, and turn him out into the real world where people aren't as nice and accepting as we are."

But honestly, this ad has everything necessary to make a hipster wet dream: large, bad sideburns; a white guy with an acoustic guitar; a faux-cowboy shirt; a girl with large flowers on her shirt; a white guy 'rapping' (or, more likely, 'improvising'); an industrial (though obviously gentrifying ) neighborhood; the vague sense that this is an organic and impulsive rendezvous of film students; a white guy with angular features and too-long, disheveled hair; tight tshirts; tight jeans; an amp; the token Indian (or Southeast Asian) Guy; the same guy wearing the obligatory 'track suit' jacket; the Token Asian Woman (with bob); a white guy with long, stringy, blond hair; a Token Black Guy; the same guy with plastic-black-framed-i'm-an-intellectual-glasses, scruffy facial hair and A TRUCKER HAT; an incredibly sappy, feel-good song (which they co-opted from this, their own commercial from the '60s - an era which, despite hipster efforts, has not been truly resurrected because your sunglasses cost more than my rent, you paid to have your hair done that way and your idea of a protest is shouting obscenities in Union Square); drums; many, many bored facial expressions; combined with 'spontaneous' expressions of happiness (see the guy clapping and laughing during the song) - 'cause hipsters are nothing if not care-free; a pirate-striped shirt; impromptu rising together to stand and salute (a mainstream multi-national corporation. well done.); another Southeast Asian (though he may actually be, gasp, Middle Eastern - sans turban, natch); many beautiful women, the kinds about which a guy like me can only dream because I don't wear tight enough jeans; and, to top it all off, the creme de la hipster creme: a vaguely Williamsburg-looking skyline.

Gag me with a (Salvation Army ) spoon.

Though I do have to give coca-cola props for ditching the indigenous costumes this time around - it's a kinder, gentler, more politically correct homogenization.

And I realize that hipsters never pretended (or at least they did a piss poor job of pretending) not to care about appearances and image, and that they probably aren't hitting the gym every day, and hopefully not drinking Michelob Ultra at night, but... doesn't promoting a drink whose claim to 'fame' is that it has zero calories seem a bit, um, suburban?

p.s. the skyline is not Williamsburg (a neighborhood which i am notinvading and taking over - a courtesy which i would appreciate if it were returned), it's Philly i believe. i don't need any hipsters getting angry at me because they went running around trying to find where this was shot so that they could buy a loft in the Williamsburg building, nor do i need hipsters writing to me about how ignorant i am because i didn't recognize their self-congratulatory bubble of a neighborhood - i mean, their great neighborhood with lots of unique character and charm...