Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just Good Friends

The legendary painter Matisse studied the human form intensively, gaining the classical techniques of old masters before throwing it all away to create simple line drawings of the female body.

On the weekends, the rising young wordsmith Chrissy "unlearns" the linguistic mastery she took 20-some years to absorb; she switches off her internal dictionaries of puns, ten-dollar words and witty turns of phrase that inform her day-to-day communications. This is in preparation for hanging out with the Chinese guys. With a stripped-down vocabulary, her language seems dumbed down, but it is actually a fine art to find that perfect, simple synonym to replace a word that is more commonplace, and to reverse the process to search her inner thesaurus and match the appropriate term to figure out what others perceive to be nonsensical output from the East Asian international students.

Switching to the first person: Yes, my core group at the iSchool consists of myself and two iSchool students from China, Ziyang and Zhuo. I don't think people really understand this friendship... it's like there's nothing to compare it to. This combination has never occurred before. A reverse of genders is completely normal... this morning, I saw a foreign girl from Asia smoking outside with two white guys and carrying on a belabored dialogue, in which every other word was "what?" followed by giggling, but it was like totally normal because people would just assume they were dating/flirting or something, and why would anyone need to communicate when they're dating? But... I know people are just dying to know what happens when myself and these two guys hang out. What kinds of conversations do we have? Am I evil and brainwashing them (probably the most popular theory)? What activities do we participate in?

Well, last Saturday, we went to the China Buffet. You can read all about it in my latest comic, in which I stylized the three of us and experimented with some manga-esque perspectives. If only I had some zip-a-tone! It's time to get some gekiga on, under the cut.

And there you have it folks: this formula of silly conversations never gets old. There's an appeal to it that I guess is specific to my own sense of humor. As a bonus, Ziyang and Zhuo get to practice their English in an informal setting.

Oh, and that leaves one last frequently asked question: how did I start hanging out with them in the first place? The answer: we were assigned by our IST 618 professor, Raed Sharif, to work on a group video project together. In most classes, people are allowed to select their own groups. So all the Chinese students work together, all the Indians work together, and no one is forced to talk to anyone new. But Prof. Sharif randomly selected our group so that it had a different kind of homogeneity:it featured the weirdest people in the world.

Here's a thought, Bird Library: how about putting Photoshop on your PCs so that I don't have to clean up my images on this annoying Mac with it's annoying mouse?


  1. "Bird Library: how about putting Photoshop on your PCs"

    Presto-changeo, and it is so. The computers on the 1st floor of Bird have PS installed.

  2. Oh, cool, I didn't notice that before; I would scan in an image on a PC and it would default to some photo wizard, so I just assumed they didn't have PS. Thank you.

    Boy, every time I write a snarky little aside like that, my secret readers come out of the woodwork.

  3. The computers in the iLab have PS, too. The whole Adobe suite, in fact.

  4. I know, but I need a scanner, too, and there is only one in the iLab which requires getting up and inserting each new page of artwork (I use bristol board, so I can't just feed it into the top of that scanner and let it work its magic). Plus, I'm well-known in the iSchool and would feel rushed and self-conscious if people came up to me wondering what I was up to and looking over my shoulder at my work in progress.

    I'll try the Bird P.C.s next time, hopefully that will work out.