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May. 27th, 2011 @ 05:57 pm in which kevin is fired for working too hard
(Written on the Amtrak to Oberlin on Thursday.)

Hey dames 'n' fellas. Been a while. I imagine you're wondering where I've been.

Long story short, I got fired from my job three weeks ago, a month before my evaluation period was up. Went home and slept for a week; emails piled up, phone calls went unanswered. Fell into some sad times.

Short story long? Here goes. Read more...Collapse )
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Mar. 21st, 2011 @ 10:30 pm in which kevin remains the ayn rand of video games (damn it)
Current Mood: poseury
I got three letters in the mail yesterday. One was from MIT, one was from Georgia Tech, and one was from Clarion West.

All three rejected me.

I think I liked it better when I wasn't getting mail.
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Mar. 20th, 2011 @ 01:55 pm the pleasure of the text
Current Mood: uncomfortably aroused
Current Music: Ella Fitzgerald - It's Only A Paper Moon
Saw Sleep No More with aesvir last night. For those of you not familiar with the play, it's a loose adaptation of Macbeth that draws heavily from the imagery and thematic associations of Hitchcock's films and substitutes out most of the dialogue with interpretive dance. For the most part, neither the audience nor the cast are allowed to speak. That would be interesting enough if Sleep No More was a typical stage play. But this show is anything but.

in which kevin is seduced by a witchCollapse )
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Mar. 9th, 2011 @ 01:46 am 流浪到士林
Caught up with high school friend Mike Hong today. Despite (or because of?) a litany of troubles he's grown up to be quite a mature, responsible adult, which is honestly far more than our teachers ever expected of him. He's currently teaching English at a cram school in Taipei to make ends meet so he can return to his other job as a freelance translator--both jobs to which NEHS alumni like him are exceptionally well suited.

Me: So, Mike. What are you doing to end the Taiwanese underpopulation crisis?
Mike: You should ask my brother. He's out with some girl again.
Me: Your brother's DNA is the future.
Mike: Yes. He will be the Adam who saves our race.

It's been pretty cool finding out that Mike, way out here on the far side of the world, has been living a lifestyle pretty similar to mine. He's been looking for work where he can get it, eating one meal a day when he can't, learning to be happy with what he's got. He shares a comfortably sized apartment with three college students and his brother, its various furnished surfaces cluttered with open textbooks and crates of instant ramen, and he keeps a bottle of Hennessy by his desk. We watched YouTube videos of local bands while killing time before his next shift at the cram school.

The food's cheaper in Taipei and live music is better in New York, but I guess being broke and underemployed in your twenties is more or less the same deal in any big city anywhere.

We spent some time puttering around Taipei a bit on his 150cc motorbike (Mike was nice enough to buy me a cheap helmet so we wouldn't run afoul of the law), a very Taiwanese experience I hadn't had the privilege of enjoying in maybe twelve years. I'd forgotten how disconcertingly fast those things go. Think a bicycle that goes almost as fast as a car, but with no pedal stirrups. Now imagine driving that down a busy road, with cars zipping past at 30-40mph in the opposite direction mere inches from your legs. Now imagine sitting behind the driver, on the same seat, holding the driver's shoulders, with your legs dangling in the air. How did these death traps become Taiwan's primary form of transport for like 50 years?

I've noticed that both Mike and I code-switch more slowly now that we're adults. We don't do it any less than when we were kids, we just do it a lot more awkwardly. Perhaps it's just that my Chinese is a little rusty or that Mike's been locked into bushiban-level English for too long, or perhaps it's that adult speech, being more deliberate, sounds jarringly unnatural when code-switched (as opposed to the rambling babble of children, for which leaps between rhythms are common even in monolingual speech), but for whatever reason it's clear that neither of us can speak two languages in a continuous flow anymore. You know how when people hit a break in thought in mid-speech, and say a pause word--"ahh" or "uhhh" or "well..." in English, "那“ in Mandarin, "ano...." in Japanese? Imagine that your brain automatically switches languages whenever you do that, like gears on a bike--the chain hops off the gear for a split second, and then just keeps on going instead of stopping. That's what it feels like to speak Chinglish again after so long--there's a noticeable stutter during the hop. Like playing chess and checkers on the same chessboard at the same time, when before it just felt like one game. Fellow NEHS alumni, those of you who have been better at keeping in touch with each other and still speak Chinglish on a regular basis--has this happened to you?

Tea. Tea is eternal. I am a coffee drinker at heart but I will never give up tea. I have discovered that what makes Taiwan's bubble milk tea taste so special, even when it uses cheap black tea leaves instead of that fancy jasmine or pu-erh stuff they use in America, is evaporated milk. I will guard this secret jealously until I blab about it to my livejournal. Wait, I'm blogging this right now, aren't I? Shit.

It is different being here as a visitor, knowing that there is nothing to keep me here. Comforting, even. I could get used to being a tourist in the country where I grew up.
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Mar. 2nd, 2011 @ 09:07 pm why games are important
Current Music: Yasunori Mitsuda - Chrono Trigger OST - To Far Away Times
As most of you who are New Yorkers are probably already well aware, Chinatown Fair, the last traditional arcade in NYC, shut its doors for the last time last week. Anecdotal reports say gamers congregated in the arcade to the very end, playing against each other until the last cabinet was hoisted into the street.

This comment on Kotaku, by "Adam," sums up perfectly what this place meant to six generations of gamers. I couldn't have said it better:

cut for long verbatim quoteCollapse )
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Mar. 1st, 2011 @ 11:10 am kevin why are you dancing quietly
Current Music: http://homestuck.bandcamp.com/track/carefree-victory

Kevin, why are you dancing?


Starting the 15th, I am going to be working three months for Tiny Mantis Entertainment as a general contractor, with the opportunity to negotiate for a full time position at the end of that period. I'm still technically a freelancer, so no health insurance. But I'll be working on site, for real money, for an established (if obscure) developer.

Also, they're offering me twice what I asked for. (In all fairness, the amount I asked for was a pittance--just barely enough to cover living expenses.)

This will be my first rent-paying, five-day-a-week office job in two years.

It will also be my first industry job not paid for in food, rent, or a token sum from a college grant. :]

Then why are you dancing quietly?

I am in my parents' apartment and I don't want to wake the neighbors.

Also I am not wearing shoes.

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Feb. 20th, 2011 @ 02:12 am in which the two largest organs in kevin's body share a beer
Current Mood: synecdochic
Current Music: Artie Schroeck Implosion - Do You Believe In Magic
Tags: , ,
Two months ago, after one of his friends' shows, Kevin sticks around and chats with the band. He has a particularly pleasant conversation with the pianist, a petite, friendly gal with tulip tattoos on each arm and a red feather in her hair. She giggles and smiles whenever she looks at him, though she seems to do that for everybody--Kevin can't really tell if she favors him in particular. When the next few bands come up she and Kevin sit by each other, whispering to each other, and Kevin discovers that underneath her bubbly exterior is a deep weariness--the flip side of the adventurousness that comes with choosing to dedicate oneself to music full time, after years of trying to fit it in between shitty day jobs. She's talented, brave, and penniless. "I'm twenty-seven," she explains, "and I'm not getting any younger. It's now or never." Kevin relates.

When happier music takes the stage, they get up and dance. There are six people in the audience and the two of them are the only ones dancing.

At the end of the night Kevin helps his friend's band pack up their instruments and carry them to the subway station. The scene is somewhat reminiscent of the iconic album art for the Beatles' Abbey Road, with the four band members lugging their instruments over a crosswalk. It differs from Abbey Road in that there is a fifth person trailing behind them, ferrying an amp. Kevin sets down the amp, thanks the band for a great performance, high-fives his friend, hugs the pianist, and walks away.

He then goes to a bodega and buys a beer, which he brings back to his apartment and drinks by himself.

Scene. Read more...Collapse )
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Feb. 18th, 2011 @ 03:40 am who is the best
Tags: , ,
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Feb. 16th, 2011 @ 07:05 pm massively multiplayer macbeth
As promised, my ludic narrative paper "Massively Multiplayer Macbeth: Hamlet After the Holodeck." It's a bit rough in places because of the 8,000 word limit, and the bibliography is garbage because I banged that part out at the last minute, but the general ideas are all there.

Next time I'll plan my writing and editing schedule better. If there is a next time.

(Filtered HTML and no norobots...I give it maybe two days before SEO spambots start harvesting snippets of it to put in fake blogs. Markov chains, hurrah?)
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Feb. 7th, 2011 @ 05:27 pm exceptionalism mad libs
Current Mood: antinationalistic
Virtually every country in an emerging position of power has produced a document to this template at some point:

Dear rest of world,

It has come to our attention that you do not take us seriously enough. We are the number one supplier of [CHIEF EXPORT] and the number [NUMBER BETWEEN ONE AND TWENTY] producer of [LIST OF SECONDARY EXPORTS]. We have a GDP of [NUMBER WITH MANY TRAILING ZEROES]. International businesses the world over have headquarters in our cities, since every businessman worth his salt knows that in the current economic climate, a business simply cannot survive without our market. Foreign economists have tried to imitate our policies and our business culture, but to no success. Our economy is the envy of the world.

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caonima, censorship