you are not my typewriter
{Tuesday, November 29, 2005 . chief}

Every now and again, I go back to recently past posts and check to see if any new comments have showed up. A few posts ago, Di asked me what my opinion on The Chief was. Her question was probably prompted by this picture:

For those of you who don't know, Chief Illiniwek is the "symbol" (if you call him a mascot, the x-treme pro-chief people will jump down your throat) of the University of Illinois, which I attend. As a member of the Marching Illini, I know way more than I should about him.

He was created sometime in the late twenties or early thirties (I can't remember exactly) in a collaborative effort between the football coach at the time, the marching band director at the time, and some boyscout. I guess this boyscout knew a lot about Native Americans, and he spent his summers on reservations and crap, so the football coach and the band director charged him with creating a costume and dance to perform at halftime of home football games.

As time went along, The Chief's dance became solidified and he began to perform it to the Three in One, which the marching band plays, so named because it is three songs - the Alma Mater, Pride of the Illini, and one I can't remember - in one.

Some of the controversy comes from the fact that nothing the Chief does has to do with the Illini tribe. The Illini tribe was wiped out a hella long time ago, so the dance that he performs is based on a Sioux fancy dance used to entertain white visitors. Most traditional Native American dance is ceremonial/religious, so it's not really meant to be entertainment. Also, his costume was a gift from a past Chief of the Sioux tribe. So one might accuse pro-chiefers of lumping all Native American tribes together by calling Sioux things Illini. Also, the music is completely un-authentic: the Pride of the Illini is a sort of stereotyped and totally inaccurate white representation of Native American music.

My personal opinion is that it really doesn't matter. Native Americans have MUCH larger problems than a college mascot, especially one that is represented in what I believe to be a truly good faith effort at being respectful. On the other hand, I think the pro-chief side is absurd. Who the hell cares if the damn mascot goes away? I, for one, did not select the University of Illinois because of its "symbol."

I won't lie. As a member of the Marching Illini, I pretty much can't avoid loving the Chief. I get little chills playing the Three in One, and I even cried a little when we played the Alma Mater at the last game. But I would have cause to worry if I were SO DEEPLY attached to the Chief that I were willing to attend rallies and protest to keep him. Yeah, he's cool. Yeah, I get all full of pride when he performs, too. But that's honestly not that important.

Since Chief Illiniwek will soon be retired as the U of I "symbol" anyway, I propose that we make The Chief from "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?" our new mascot. To quote the profile of the Facebook group "Students for The Chief,":

"The Chief embodies the attributes valued by alumni, students, and gumshoes of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The legacy of The Chief is a link to our great academic achievements, a tangible symbol of an intangible spirit, filled with qualities to which a person of any background can aspire: goodness, analytical thinking, crime-fighting, truthfulness, diversity, courage, dignity, and justice. Besides playing a role on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, Lynne Thigpen, born in Joliet, Illinois, is a character more honorable and suitable than any high-kicking, leather-touting, half-time-entertaining “Chief Illiniwek.” Lynne majored in dance and theater at the U of I, and even has a school named after her in Joliet. With her achievements in theater and film, we should remember to honor the correct Chief!"

posted at 11:31 AM by Alison


{Monday, November 28, 2005 . my blog}

My blog is extremely self-conscious.

It started off as a Xanga, which you can still find at It was late spring of 2004, right at the end of my junior year of high school.

I started it because of the inspiration of Diana (then TooFrumpyForTheTeenagePopulation, now GiveMeANickelAndI'llTellYouTheStory) and Sarah(the starvedartist), both of whom were friends from high school. Sarah inspired me because she was just such a damn witty story teller. Diana inspired me not because of her writing (which was, at the time, just about as uninteresting as mine) but mostly because I idolized her.

She seemed mysterious and inaccessible. She seemed urbane and sophistocated. And since the Xanga craze had yet to hit our high school, blogging was still relatively new and cutting edge. So even though I had no clue what to write about, no idea how to make a template, and no digital camera, I signed up for Xanga. And I wrote about what I had for breakfast.

Right at the beginning of 2005, I decided to get a proper blog, and The Fencepost as you know it was born. I believe I also got a buzznet account around the same time, but until recently, I never took that very seriously. And it may seem to some that I only intermittently took this seriously. After all, at the beginning of this summer, I decided once and for all that I would never blog again, and for a solid three or four months, I didn't write a single post. It seemed that The Fencepost would go to the termites.

Then I got bored. And I came back.

And now The Fencepost is in a state of transition. I am full of desire to become a real blogger, but I lack direction. I definitely can't make this a news blog - I wouldn't be able to do much besides recount the latest from the AP wire in my own words. I could make it something along the lines of a Raymi/TonyPierce sort of blog, where I write about my own life, but in an abstract and pseudo-artistic way that makes it more interesting than it (probably) really is. But I'm just too self-conscious to be that kind of blogger. At least on a regular basis. I've written posts in that style, and the next day I feel sort of silly about them, and I feel obligated to chase them with something down-to-earth and much more boring.

Maybe The Fencepost should be a sort of variety blog. A venue for me to imitate all the different kinds of blogs I enjoy. A venue for my narcissism, which is all any blog is anyway.

Maybe if I can just relax and accept The Fencepost for what it is, I will start getting a thousand readers. Because readers can sense lack of confidence just as surely as a live audience can, and I think that's why my blog just isn't that interesting to most people. It's too self-conscious.

posted at 10:18 PM by Alison


The new B&S album will be coming out on my 19th birthday. Now THAT'S something.

So I'm back at school, after a blissful and lazy break. I believe I practiced about a grand total of an hour and a half, and I didn't crack open a book once. Except, of course, my cookbooks.

I cooked up a storm. My Thanksgiving dinner lasted for three days - tofurkey, corn, green beans, soy mashed potatoes, ho-made cranberry sauce from scratch, and even a tofu/pumpkin pie. For my first attempt at a pie, it wasn't too shabby. Except for having enough clove in it to burn your tongue right out of your mouth, it turned out great.

And I of course saw people. It was AWESOME having human contact.

And now I'm back here.

But only for three more weeks! Then I'm home for a month at Christmas.

posted at 2:22 PM by Alison


{Tuesday, November 15, 2005 . signs, signs, everywhere signs}

These are photos of signs that I saw walking around Champaign-Urbana last week.

This is the sorority across the street from my dorm. When I first saw it, I thought it was a cleverly named restaurant.

This was on the lawn outside the Korean Methodist Church.

The girl across the hall from me is a horse enthusiast.

Apparently, Marines really like children.

Muscleman? Muslim? What statement are you trying to make?

Of course it does.

Racial Steriotypes Dehumanize

Morrissey = Jesus

Hail to the orange,
Hail to the blue.
Hail Alma Mater,
Ever so true.
We love no other,
so let our motto be

posted at 5:39 PM by Alison


{Thursday, November 10, 2005 . wierd uncomfortable encounter}

I had a bizzare and uncomfortable experience just now.

Over the weekend, I was stuck on this six hour bus ride from Dayton, Ohio to Champaign, Illinois, and I was right in the middle of all the damn tuba players. I was sitting next to one of them (a cool one), and somehow, the conversation turned to religion. I honestly don't remember how. The guy that I was sitting next to was "questioning," but the guys in front of and behind us were die-hard Jesus freaks.

I don't know what possesed me to ask them this, but I posed the question: If you believe that belief in Jesus Christ is the only way to get to Heaven, don't you think it's your responsibility to show me the way?

The one in front of me hemmed and hawed and gave me some bullshit answer, but the guy behind me decided to step up and rephrase the bullshit answer in a more confident way. He said that belief in Jesus was the only was FOR HIM to get to Heaven (why the rules are different for each person, I'm not sure), but that God is just, and when I die, he will judge me justly. However, God would not allow one of his children to go astray, so if I am meant for it, He will show me the way.

So I guess the implication was that, yes, if I continue to refuse to believe in God and Jesus, I will go to hell, but since it is God's responsibility to show me the way, the dude I was talking to could wash his hands and not have to feel guilty for not doing his part to save my immortal soul. Of course, since God is the one who will either choose or not choose to have me be born again, He therefore is just kind of deciding on my behalf whether or not I will go to hell. But I didn't say that.

Anyway, just now, JUST now, I was eating dinner in this little cafe. It was kind of crowded and loud, and there was a large group of twenty-ish white boys sitting around a table talking. As the crowd thinned out, I was able to hear what they were saying. They were having a Bible study. And one of the guys was the guy I talked to last weekend.

I could tell he was looking at me, but I refused to make eye contact with him. I just looked out the window and strained my ear to listen in on their discussion.

They were talking about the Holy Ghost coming to Jesus on the cross. They were talking about the nature of the Holy Ghost, and how they had "experienced" Him/It in their own lives.

It absolutely blows my mind. Here's a group of intelligent, partially-college educated young men; they can look at Roman mythology, at Egytian mythology, at Indian mythology, and take it all in a historical perspective; but when they look at Christian mythology, for some reason they say, "This mythology is DIFFERENT. This mythology is REAL."

It's absurd, to borrow Brian's word of the day.

Of course, I understand why they want to believe that way.

I was sitting alone in a restaraunt (and, in fact, it has been weeks since I've had a meal in the company of anyone but myself), and I was staring out the window into darkness while vicariously participating in a conversation I was definitely not a part of. And I thought,

God. It would be really great to be able to believe that I'm not alone right now.

That I'm never alone.

That there's always some kind of ambiguous parental figure right there to protect me from the harsh realities of life and warm the lonely autumn nights.

But of course, God isn't real.

posted at 9:14 PM by Alison


{Tuesday, November 08, 2005 . french riots}

I don't know what to think about the riots in France, but they're pretty mind-blowing.

First off, the way Chirac and Sarkozy are dealing with them is disgusting and shameful. Calling poor people rabble and scum will only anger more people and convince more poor youths that rioting is a good idea. One can almost picture Sarkozy turning to the Prime Minister with a flippant sneer saying, "Let them eat cake."

Now, I'm not saying that I condone violence. And I'm not saying that I think it's wise or that it will help accomplish anything.

All I'm saying is that if I were living in the ghettos outside of Paris, and I had been denied a decent education and therefore lacked skills like negotiation and reasoning, and if I were filled with a blinding rage against my government that defied all rhyme and reason ...

well, I might be pouring gasoline into bottles right now.

posted at 9:39 PM by Alison


{Thursday, November 03, 2005 . sorority girls}

This post in dedicated to the sorority girls on campus.

Your skin is darker than your hair.

I can see your ass crack when you are standing upright.

It is too cold to be wearing flip flops.

You joined a sorority to gain "leadership experience."

Experience in organizing inane social events

and in faking a smile while adressing groups of your peers.

Once in a while you put on your $70 jeans from the mall

and a wife beater

and a cutsy little short flannel shirt

and a cowboy hat

and you go to the bar to dance to country music.

Because you really like country music.

Because you are a down-home country girl

and you really have a genuine understanding of what it is to be Southern and poor.

You used to listen to Kenny Chesney all the time in high school,

sitting in your fuzzy pink bedroom

in your daddy's half million dollar suburban estate.

posted at 4:06 PM by Alison


{Wednesday, November 02, 2005 . Jay Leno}

Tony Kidonakis played with The Redwalls on Leno last night!

See that bari sax player in the background? Yeah, I think that's him.

For those of you who weren't in the OHS band program in the fall of 2001 (and I know there must be at least one of you out there), Tony Kidonakis was the best student teacher ever to complete his bachelor of music education at Oswego High School. He is an awesome guy, and awesome sax player, and an awesome teacher.

He still hangs around Oswego a lot. I hear that since the OHS marching band was doing a Beatles field show this year, Tony had them come to a show with his Beatles cover band. He's kind of one of those people who does everything and crops up everywhere.

Last night, he cropped up on the Tonight Show.

So congratulations to you, Tony! May you continue to do awesome and unexpected/random things!

posted at 12:25 PM by Alison


{Tuesday, November 01, 2005 . I'm going to be pretentious for a minute.}

I just thought of something that I think is kind of interesting. It will probably make me sound like a pretentious ponce to write it here, but I don't have any one else to tell it to.

So I was listening to some CDs that a friend burned for me, and I was reflecting on the fact that this friend really doesn't like classical music and kind of makes fun of me for appreciating it. I thought it was kind of ironic, since the CD he burned for me (Boards of Canada) sounded a lot more like twentieth century art music than like rock.

And that's pretty interesting.

All music can pretty much be put into two categories: folk music (of which popular/rock music is a subcategory) and art music (e.g. classical music). Folk music came first. Cavemen beat sticks together rhythmically, and that was folk music. Then, when societies started getting more advanced, the advent of aristocracy create art music, because rich people can afford to pay people to be professional musicians. In Japan, this was Gagaku - in Indonesia, gamelan - in India, khyal and what became modern Indian classical music. In Europe, it was what we now know as classical music.

Classical music in Europe started out in the church, since that was the primary source of money for pretty much anybody. It then moved toward aristocratic patronage - Mozart didn't make money by selling CDs to the public; he worked as a court musician. Eventually, art music evolved into what it is today, with composers thinking more about expressionistic effect than listenability.

Popular music evolved out of folk music. Naturally, most people would rather listen to folk music than art music, because it is simpler and easier to understand. But folk musicians were not professionals (by definition), so their music couldn't really reach outside the sphere of their small communities. But with the advent of recording technology, folk musicians (in America - mainly blues singers) could sell recordings of their folk music and become professionals. This gave way to rock as we know it.

Until recently, rock music has stayed pretty close to its folk origins. It has been more about having something fun and easy to listen to than about artistry. But lately, bands like Radiohead, Sigur Ros, and Boards of Canada - bands that are, ostensibly, in the rock category - have been making music that is not fun or easy to listen to at all. They have really been making art music.

Most people kind of assume that art (classical) music came first and that everything else evolved out of that, but that's not true. Folk (and therefore rock) music has always been completely independent of classical music, and I find the fact that rock bands are now looking to create art music from a genre that is essentially the very opposite of art music very interesting.

That's about the nerdiest post I've ever written.

posted at 6:37 PM by Alison


I am a party pooper.

Everyone here is super into Halloween. Everyone dresses up. They have trick or treating in the dorms. Even my roommate, who never speaks to me, questioned why I wasn't doing anything for Halloween.

It's because I hate the world.

But I happened across a few cute kids in Halloween costumes.

This little girl came to the faculty brass quartet concert at Krannert and got second place in the costume contest.

Then I saw Snow White in the mall.

But she started to run away!

Someone stop her!

Oh, thank God.

posted at 4:59 PM by Alison



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