Thursday, October 28, 2004

I interrupt your regularly scheduled weblogging to bring you. . . 

Nothing. Because there are some things that just can't be talked about on the internet. But believe me when I say it's no good.

Ah, what's the point? Take care, everyone.

St. Crispin's Day 

First, in the event you care, last night was a total lunar eclipse. The last lunar eclipse of 2004, and, if I understand correctly, the last total lunar eclipse until 2008. So if you missed it, there's a while to go until the next one.

Do full moons still drive animals and people made when they're eclipsed?

Anyway, the 24th of October was The Vigil of St. Crispin, and I forgot to post about it. I'm debating whether or not to put up the St. Crispin's Day music from the score for Henry V, because I think it's the best track on the album. Anyway:
WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
And then the French did proceed to get their asses kicked particularly mightily at Agincourt.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Yay, October vacation! 

Strangers on a Train
Spend enough time on trains, and you meet some very interesting people—and some very surprising ones. People who, passing them on the street, you might make unkind assumptions about often prove to be extraordinarily nice and helpful; people who might present themselves well may turn out to be quite unkind. The person next to whom you find yourself sitting may pretend you don’t exist for the duration of the ride, or may talk your ear off, or may provide some pleasant and interesting interlocution. On the train you will inevitably meet people of a sort you might not normally find yourself interacting with. I have a couple stories from this train ride alone, but I don’t think I’m going to write them out just yet. Let them steep a bit before I serve them.

A Boy and His Dog
Upon arrival home, 94 pounds (only 94 lbs?! Why are you not growing faster, you scrawny runt!) of furry whiteness announced his pleasure at my return. The announcement has yet to stop. Apparently he got quite agitated when he heard my voice on the answering machine a few weeks ago; I take this to mean that he’s missed me. And I’ve sure missed him. I wouldn’t want to face life without a dog, I think. I love walking him; I love having him around the house; I love him. Caleb is what I miss most when I’m away from home.

A Boy and His Cat
Missing me almost as much as Caleb, it seems, was Sheba. When I got back from my walking tour of the neighborhood on Saturday morning, Sheba, who had been sunning herself on a rock, saw me and suddenly a cat-sized tortoiseshell missile was streaking at my legs. Instead of smashing into my ankle, though, she did the head-rub thing at high-speed, skidded to a stop, reversed direction, and head-bumped my leg again. The purring engine started up, I leaned down to pet her, she rolled over onto her back and started squirming, and I realized that the cat, whom I had missed not much at all, had been impatiently enduring my absence. Sheba’s a good cat, and funny, and a survivor who is the first cat we ever adopted, and has survived by years the train of others. She’s also got some attitude and is one of few cats I’ve ever much cared for.

It seems while I’ve been gone that we’ve also acquired several other cats – Phoebe and Elliot, my sister’s cats who now live at home since she’s back at school, and Rose, the newest, who has to wear a Victorian Collar because she had an abortion and we don’t want her tearing at her stitches. She seems to be a sweet cat, though, and she—unprecedentedly—makes my mom happy, so she’s worth having around.

A Boy and His Siblings
I changed my mind. Not going to talk about my siblings much right now. Don’t have time. Aaron = much the same. Mary = more annoying than ever. Rachel cannot be summed up in a fragmented sentence.

A Boy and His House
I love my house, but it’s a mess on the inside right now. The kitchen ceiling is mostly gone; two of the bathrooms are inoperable—here’s hoping this is all fixed up and cleaned up by the time the Bat Mitzvah rolls around a month hence.

A Boy and His (Sister’s) Horse
Yes, my sister owns two horses. So yesterday I went riding with her, and a couple of her friends whom I hadn’t met before. Chelle is a 35-year-old pottymouthed smoker whom it would suit me fine never to have meet my mother. I forget the other one’s name, but she was closer to our age and cute. It was going to be a little ride, but turned into a heck of an adventure, considering that the last time I rode, I needed a mounting block to get on the horse, and an adult’s help to get the girth cinched properly. Anyway, we took a bunch of relatively uncooperative horses through deep mud, brush up to their chests, across creeks and rivers they didn’t want to cross, through thorny woods, and so on. We ended up splattered with mud and torn by thorns and exhausted and we and the horses were mainly mutually pissed off at each other. The horse I was on was the slowest, but she was also the most steadfast and just plodded headfirst through stuff the other horses were shying away from. She also, however, seemed to like aiming for trees, and it got to the point where I was trying to snap off branches before they could sweep me out of the saddle—an image at which the girls got a good chuckle, me opening a can of whupass on some relatively thick branches. There were some spots where we needed to walk the horses; one time when a couple of the horses stubbornly refused to move on a busy road; and one really scary incident when we were going through some particularly nasty stuff when the girl whose name I forget managed to get some branches wrapped around her neck which tightened when the horse kept pushing on, and we needed to extract her before she was hanged. I had a great time, though—when I’d agreed to ride with my sister, I’d thought it would be a boring day, a typical walk-trot-canter ride along some paths, so it was much to my relief that it was interesting and challenging. Although I will say it’s annoying to give a person with extremely muddy shoes a leg-up onto a tall horse.

While we were riding, though, we passed a hunter who took me for a woman. This is beginning to really get on my nerves. Is there something in my carriage that suggests woman? Is my face particularly feminine? What the hell is it that has people mistaking me for a woman all the freaking time?

A Boy and His Marmot
Well, maybe not a marmot. Imagine this: You’re sitting, naked, on the toilet, when under the door comes squeezing some sort of rodent. Too big for a mouse; maybe a squirrel, except you’ve never seen such a deranged squirrel. It gets in, glances up, sees you, freezes for a moment and then decides you’re bigger than it, so jumps—and damn can this thing jump, suddenly you’re having images of Monty Python killer rabbits!—onto the shower curtain and starts screeching, trying to scrabble its way up. What do you do?

Yeah, it was fun getting that nasty critter out of the house. I suggested simply sicking a cat on it but mom vetoed that idea.

A Boy and His Swords
I find working out incredibly boring, which is mainly why I don’t do it. But while lifting weights and all that stuff holds no appeal for me, swinging swords never seems to get old. Word to the wise: do not swing your swords inside the house. It’s a bad idea.

Anyway, I can’t sit in front of the computer any longer right now. I’m going to go bring in some firewood, move some furniture, and then get some work done. I’ll post soon on the weather, books, foxes, politics, and all kinds of other dull stuff. And I’ll leave you with one question: How in the world is my sister, my sister, a year-and-a-half younger than I, engaged already? That’s kind of scary. . .

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Pisses the hell out of me! 

I hear that phrase quite often; because it makes little sense, it amuses me to no end, particularly when uttered particularly vehemently. Now for today's quote, before I foret it:
Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
-Hermann Goering
Moving on, Vera says:
The more experience, the less fear.

At some midpoint, with the rising awareness of all possibilities the fear grows, [This is where I usually choke. I think I think too much when I’m not thinking not enough.] but then again tapers off as the knowledge of how to cope exceeds it.

Once you scale the fear mountain, from there on begins a marvelous steady trend. . .

The less fear the more experience.
It’s good advice, though not always entirely helpful. And here’s some likely equally unhelpful advice from me to you: just write through the writer’s block. Don’t get hung up on how you usually write; this time a different approach is called for, so just tackle it instead of worrying about it. See what you come up with. I bet it’ll be good.

I finally, after a couple months, finished reading Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. A magnificent book . . . but I’m upset. Apparently the translation to English was contractually obligated not to exceed a particular length; the translator, Jay Rubin, turned in both an abridged and a complete translation, but Knopf stuck to their word-limit. Bastards. May they burn eternally in literary hell. I mean, considering how good this book is in an abridged form, why couldn’t they have released for us the unabridged one instead? It’s Murakami, after all—it’s not like they’d have been taking a chance on an unknown. . .

Now I'm onto my galley of Leviathan 4: Cities, about which I will probably write some more tonight and definitely by tomorrow.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Scott, you gentleman bastard. . . 


Scott, Jenn -- my best to both of you!

When it rains, it pours, eh?

I don't use emoticons, but I think this calls for a big :-D

also here
and here

Sunday, October 17, 2004

It's chilly and spitting out, and that's just fine with me 

"[E]very failure to cope with a life situation can be laid, in the end, to a restriction of consciousness. Wars and temper tantrums are the makeshifts of ignorance; regrets are illuminations come too late."
- Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces
Say what you will about ol' Joe and his monomyth, but he had a lot to say worth saying. The end part of that quote -- regrets are illuminations come too late -- has long been one of my very favorite quotes. I agree with it very much, but not entirely. Because often, at least in my case and I suppose in many others', it's not that the illuminations come too late, but that though we recognize them we are too fearful to pay them heed. And it's depressing how often the fears are, if not trivial, at least unfounded or downright silly. I, for instance, have almost no fear of death or disease, very little fear of physical pain or injury or violence, of weather or wildlife or heights, any of that kind of thing -- but when it comes to talking to people I am all too often that deer, mesmerized, immobilized by the headlights. These are the things I most often end up regretting -- that I didn't, or literally couldn't, speak to so-and-so when I had the opportunity. And I know it's stupid, but again and again I continue to choke and not (be able to) talk to people. Or even approach them. Even if I see friends, say, sitting at the commons, I'm too timid to walk over and join them without an explicit invitation to their table; more often I end up sitting alone and feeling like a chump. There's got to be some way to get over this foolishness, but I certainly haven't found it yet.

I'm sick of being lonely -- and sick of being sick of it. At least the weather today is perfect for lonely and depressed. (Edit: having taken a walk, the air's not as chilly as it was and it's actually extraordinarily pleasant out. The sort of weather good for meandering aimlessly and thinking or drifting or just being alone with yourself.) Though not terribly conducive to getting work done. Then again, there's no weather that favors reading Virginia Woolf, at least for me. Her writing is of the rare sort that does nothing for me. If I'm going to have to read odd experimental feminism at least let me spring for Angela Carter. And while we're on the topic, and I hope you can forgive any sexism or female objectification inherent in this: I want a girl to hold and talk to and love (though not necessarily in that (or any) order) in a romantic, complementary, reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship. Probably a girlfriend would work too. Guess I need to get that whole shy thing worked out first, eh? Especially considering that my (at this point, impossibly, unforeseeably) long-term goals comprise marriage and children.

. . .and I'm going to stop writing about this before I work myself into a nasty, full-bore depression.

On the happy side, in five days I get to see my puppy again. I miss him a lot. Though I'm sad to say, not as much as I miss Schnug, who died two years and ten days ago. I'm not really sure what it says about me as a person that I consider a dog the best friend I've ever had. Probably synonymous with the fact that I have, count 'em, zero friends my age in my state or the closest bordering states. But now we're getting back into Nathan feeling sorry for himself territory, so let's veer away from there, post a picture of Schnug, and move on:

Don't know why I love that particular pic so much, but I do. As I said, though: moving on. Maybe I'll go shopping with my sister this weekend, as it would probably be a good idea not to have to wear Craig's clothes anymore. Also on the agenda while I'm home: spend some quality time swordslinging; catch up with the parents and try to cheer them up; study for the Austro-German exam.

For the fourth year running, of course, our October vacation is one week too early; if it were a week later I'd be heading off to Tempe, AZ rather than home. WFC is held annually exactly one weekend after October break, which means I never get to go, which means I never get to meet any of my Dead Cities pals, which is something I'd rather love to do. Why do cons and signings and events always have to be held in the midwest? What's wrong with the east coast?

Now, you see that reddish-brown smear on the grindstone? That's what's left of my nose. That's right: back to work for me.

Have a wonderful day, everyone.

PS: If anyone cares, Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars airs tonight. 9:00 est on Sci-Fi, if I'm not mistaken. I'd watch it except I've never seen an episode of the show and prefer to start things at the beginning. I do intend to rent the show sometime, because I hear great things about it from great people.

Currently reading: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Currently listening to: Great Expectations by Patrick Doyle
Currently watching: Brazil by Terry Gilliam

Like herding cats. . . 

And that is all this blog need ever know on the subject of last night.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The most awful books that everyone should read. 

About a year ago, I read Jack Ketchum's novel The Girl Next Door. It was the most awful, terrible novel I'd ever read. At times literally painful, it was the only book that's ever literally made me feel I needed a shower once I'd finished it. Apparently based on a true story, it's a very sobering read, and despite how awful and painful it is, I think everyone should read it. (I think I should point out here that I read a lot; I've read many disturbing things, and considering that I'm a wealthy American kid, I like to think I've seen a fair amount, and I'm not shocked or fazed easily by the brutal and grotesque -- but this book really . . . yeah. Awful.)

About six months ago, Nick Mamatas recommended 10 Books on his LJ. All of them I've read have been worth reading, and I've no doubt those I haven't are worth reading as well. Just the other day I picked up a new one: Let's Go Play at the Adams' by Mendal W. Johnson. Published in 1974, it was Johnson's only novel published before he died in '76, though he had at least three more in progress at that time. From the cover, it looks like a typical nonsense cheap-thrills 70's/80's schlock horror novel, but it's so much more than that. As Nick said: "Probably the book to get the greatest "Who?" "What?" reaction. Kids subdue, tie up, tease, rape, and eventually kill their babysitter. But it's much more than that. It's like a little Iliad: every character gets their motivation and their moment when the author is on their side. Universal sympathy in the midst of crime and degredation. Haunting haunting stuff. I've only read it once. Don't need to read it again."

Terrible, sobering stuff. Now alongside The Girl Next Door on my list of The Most Awful Books Everyone Should Read.

On a slightly more optimistic note, go preorder the finest fantasy novel of 2006.

Friday, October 15, 2004

GETTING TO KNOW YOU (The 99 Most Important Questions) 

Dark or light chocolate?
Sunrise or sunset?
Black ink or blue ink?
CDs or records?
Ballpoint or roller?
Digital watches or traditional?
Fish or steak?
French or Italian? (Food or people? I'm assuming food. . .)
Bar soap or liquid?
Vanilla or chocolate? (I'll have to get back to you.)
Mulder or Scully? (Practically, anyway. In bed I may have to make another choice. . .)
Black and white or color?
Coca Cola or Ginger Ale?
Long or short fingernails?
Mick or Keith?
Typewritten or handwritten?
Lights on or off?
Coffee or tea?
Rodan or Godzilla?
Cotton or silk underwear? (Wait. . .on me or on you?)
Black or white?
Glasses or contacts?
Morning or evening?
Cats or dogs?
Bogart or Bacall?
Dessert first or last?
Leather or wool?
Doberman Pinscher or bulldog?
Rain or snow?
Meat sauce or marinara?
John or Paul?
Ice cream or sherbet?
Casablanca or The Third Man?
Peanuts or cashews?
Boy George or Curious George?
Taste or smell?
Sooner or later?
Trains or planes?
Cut grass or woodsmoke?
Lipstick or Chapstick?
Frankenstein or Dracula?
Khakis or jeans?
Paperback or hardcover?
Steam or sauna?
Video or TV?
Subway or bus?
Bath or shower?
New York or LA?
E-mail or snail mail?
Portraits or landscapes?
Big mouth or big eyes?
Books or movies?
Neat or comfortable?
Summer or winter?
Mountains or beach?
Silence or noise?
Pants or skirts?
Music or silence?
You and I or me and you?
Long or short hair?
Perfume or perspiration?
Comedy or horror? (There's a difference?)
Jam or butter?
Velvet or silk?
Country or city?
Persian carpets or hardwood floor?
Cake or pie?
Monroe or Madonna?
Wool or cashmere?
Regular or premium?
Boxers or briefs? (The mutant things. Boxer-briefs.)
Garters or pantyhose?
Car or motorcycle?
Bagels or toast?
Hitchcock or Poirot?
Red wine or white wine?
Beard or smooth?
Sail or swim?
Modern or antique?
Grass or sand?
Movies or films?
Lemon or lime?
Bed or couch?
Stockings or bare skin?
Inside or outside?
Opera or rock 'n roll?
Sneakers or boots?
London or Paris?
Flats or pumps?
Pencil or pen?
Crosswords or editorials?
Cinnamon or spearmint gum?
Old Star Trek or Star Trek: The Next Generation? (DS9)
Tent or hotel room?
Drip or espresso?
Rafting or boating?
Elevator or stairs?
Convertible or sunroof?
Love or lust?

14 Hours 

That's how long it took me to go from sick to well. As well as ever, anyway. Life is good.

In other news: I miss cooking. It's been too long since I've had the opporunity to cook (at least, in ungross conditions). I should invite a bunch of people over and cook a big dinner, and very possibly will sometime a little later in the semester.

Finally, I've got four words of advice for you: You're looking too hard.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Discombobulated today 

I woke up today, as usual around 6:30, but in a rare display of laziness, I didn't get up until 8:30. Except it wasn't really laziness. I just wasn't feeling well. I didn't ache or hurt exactly, but I felt fuzzy and [even ]slow[er than usual]. Later in the day, my throat skipped the itchy step and went straight to being sore. Well, my great nation doesn't negotiate with terrorists (it just does a crapload of business with them), and I sure as sugar don't negotiate with pathogens! hah! If only it were that easy. An example of how out of it I've been -- walking out of The Commons, I nearly strode right into a person, managing to stop mere inches from her. Then, it literally took my mind about five seconds to suggest maybe it would be a good idea to walk around her rather than just stand there. Also, just going up from Dewar to Clark was enough to put me out of breath, when I can usually storm pretty much from Anderson to Binder and still be good to go at the end.

Ill speak more later wen my keyboard starts workin and I no loner ave to paste in g and h and so fort.

LATER: Great! For a limited time only, my keyboard is functional.

In addition to being so discombobulated today, I got my absentee ballot, finally. I had only to register to vote three times to receive it!

Also, I still have that piece of music stuck in my head, on an infinite loop. And no one has guessed which one it is. Are my favors so worthless, or is it my credibility that's in doubt?

Speaking of music, I think if I could learn to play one instrument, it would be the piano -- just for its ubiquity and versatility. But in terms of its aesthetics, I'd have to go with the cello, which after the human voice is my favorite instrument. I wish I could play music, so I could be a cellist.

I turned in the first six chapters (roughly one hundred pages) of my novel ms to my thesis advisor today. I hope she doesn't think it's as terrible as I do, because I don't have time this semester to do any sort of major restructuring and rewriting.

"There are few people whom I really love, and lesser still of whom I think well."
-- Lizzie to Jane, Pride and Prejudice

Well, I'm going to go and fill out that ballot now. Just remember, whatever happens:

"Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos!"

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

caccati in mano e prenditi a schiaffi 

I gave blood today. I do so whenever there's a blood drive. It's quick, it's painless, and it doesn't seem to affect me any. But the blood, as they say, is the life, so if I can give some to someone else -- my pleasure. Hell, hook onto both of my arms and take two pints! Nah. One girl after giving blood today vomited, and another made it across the room before collapsing. It's amazing how a process some people barely notice affects others so much. My resting pulse hovers in the mid-sixties, as it has for a couple years; I'd like to get it down to fifty-five or sixty, but I may just be too lazy. My BP also remains low (in the good sense, not the too low sense). I wonder if any of my headaches occur because maybe it drops too low? Hmm. . .
"My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened."
- Montaigne
One of my professors keeps giving me grades lower than I think I should be getting, so I need to go have a chat with him one of these days and see what's up. When I put in the effort -- as, this semester more than any other, I have been -- I am definitely not a C student, yet that's all I've gotten from him. A C and two C-. Ugh. Something else on the pile'o'things to do.

And that's not even the Virginia Woolf course. I'm supposed to find something in the class that interests me to write a fifteen page paper about. Basically the only think that interests me, though, is managing to stay awake through the class each day. I'd consider writing about Woolf's sexism and bias against male readers, but even if I managed to keep it from turning into a farce, the professor is one of those annoying sort of feminists and a Woolphile so I don't think it would go over too well with her.
"She stops at a cafe to rest. A man sitting at the window reads a book, scribbling intently in the margins. She wishes for a book like that. One that she could carry with her, writing notes in the white spaces, turning down the corners of the best pages. One that would offer itself up to her, making sense of things. She would turn to any page and find the answers to her questions. A sort of bible."
- How the Blessed Live, Susannah M. Smith
If you haven't downloaded "The Sacking of Troy" -- it's too late now. Sorry. This week for something a little less loud, and since I'm a day late, slightly more music than normal. The first selection is from Patrick Doyle's Great Expectations. The track: "Kissing in the Rain" This piece of music is something of a departure for Doyle, who's generally much more classically oriented and tends not to use any sort of synths at all. Still, I think it's a pretty sexy piece of music. Next up, John Williams' "Love Theme" from Superman. Gorgeous, romantic piece of music. I could listen to it again and again and again. And finally, "Wifeing" from Basil Poledouris' Conan the Barbarian. This theme actually gets a much better presentation in another track, but that track was too long for inclusion here and it's still darned pretty in its basic form. So there's your music for the week.

And I'll sweeten the pot: after you've listened to all three pieces, if you can guess correctly which has been stuck in my head all day, I'll owe you a small to moderate favor.
"Express yourself-- it's later than you think."
-Brad Holland
My absentee ballot was apparently mailed to me on the eleventh of this tenth month, but it hasn't arrived yet. Fingers crossed, eh?
Part of life is a quest to find that one essential person who will understand our story. But we choose wrongly so often. Over the ensuing years that person we thought understood us best ends up regarding us with pity, indifference, or active dislike.

Those who truly care can be divided into two categories: those who understand us, and those who forgive our worst sins. Rarely do we find someone capable of both.
- Jonathan Carroll, Glass Soup
My parents are having one of their periods of strain now, and the stress of Mary's pending bat mitzvah ceremony isn't helping things in the slightest. They've been relatively okay or at least I've been relatively oblivious for a couple years now, but now as then it's extraordinarily frustrating to be able to see the problem, to recognize the problem and at least some of its roots, and not to be able to do a thing about it. That sort of impotence is awful to have to live with. I'm too tired now to write about this with the care it deserves, so I'll wait for another day and move onto lighter fare.
"The Falklands thing was a fight between two bald men over a comb."
- Jorge Luis Borges
Drama. How I love it. There's so much of it here, too. Like when Friend A comes up to me and says that Friend B thinks I hate her, because I don't talk to her very much anymore and also I'm still friends with Friend C who had a falling out with Friend B. Newsflash, Friend B: I'm still friends with both of you, and the fact that I don't talk to you much anymore means nothing, considering that I never talked to you much in the first place. I don't talk to most people much. I'm very shy, very anxious around people, and there are few whom I really open up to. But before deciding that I hate you, why not try talking to me? Or a more recent incident, wherein I made one simple phone call and suddenly at least three friends all had their undies in a bundle. It would have been very amusing if it weren't so shocking. I know, it's a minor miracle for me actually to pick up the telephone in the first place, but friends: give me some credit for not being a complete nincompoop. On second thought, I don't tend to extend myself that credit, so why should anyone else give it to me? Oh, the imponderables!

Also, I suppose that I of all people should not be complaining about Drama, as I've certainly participated in more than my share of the stuff, both in that Real Life business and of the eDrama variety.

Meh. Have a lovely night, everyone. Ooh. Speaking of lovely nights -- we have a lot of them. But the fauna's different this year. Plenty of deer still, but far fewer foxes, skunks, and rabbits than there have been in years past. Strange. More shooting stars, too -- or at least more noticable ones. And I didn't almost get run over tonight, which is a welcome change.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Labyrinth 

Catherynne M. Valente's first novel, The Labyrinth, is finally available. I'll be reading it ASAP and reviewing it, and, if I like it, pimping it quite a bit. But I don't feel honest doing that much before I've read it, so instead I'll just point you to the quiz:

What Character from The Labyrinth Are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

Movie music tomorrow, I think.

I don't know why I swallowed that fly. . . 

Hmm. . .I stepped out of class, opened my mouth to inhale (my nose was clogged) when something flew into my throat. And stuck there, as I'm a bit congested. I tried to hawk or spit it out, but it wouldn't come out, and its struggling was annoying me, so I went to a water fountain and washed it down.

I hope it wasn't particularly dirty or deadly.

And Nathan slept until almost seven today. 

And it was good.

Hawki102, you've been Lynched. It happens to the best of us. It's happened to me. I feel your pain. Even as I laugh.

And while we're on the topic of Scott's hugely entertaining writing, check out his goings on on the topic of 'inevitable moral irrelevance of mortal intentions', especially as it relates to Lord of the Rings.

Scott, I say again: if your book is even half as entertaining and intelligent as your rants, it'll be at least twice as good as almost anything else on the market. So hurry up and get the thing finished and published that I may read it.

Today, I get to prepare a presentation of the evils of caffeine, read "The Amber Gods," and finish rewriting chapter three, among other things. Tomorrow, I give blood. To the Red Cross, natch.

Monday, October 11, 2004

A couple things. . . 

I haven't much time, but I needed to let my brain wander for a few minutes before getting back to work and blogging (is that really a verb now?) seems generally a good way to let the fingers run their course without too much brainal engagement. So, a couple things:

Hm. I meant to spend about two minutes here, and I see it's been slightly over five! Eek! I'm behind schedule! (If you thought that wasn't a joke, you clearly don't know me very well. And if you don't know me, chances are after reading my blogging you won't want to. (Again with the joking. Clearly, if you didn't catch on, you don't--(again with the nevermind))).

Now to go spend the afternoon reading Virgina Woolf.


Saturday, October 09, 2004

"Hey, kid!" "Did you say 'naked'?" 

It amazes me how in our society nudity is considered so shameful that many people would rather be dead than caught naked. What am I talking about? Nudity is considered a position of weakness. So if you’re trying to diminish or torture a person, you make them naked. (However, how you do this depends on the person’s sex. With a man, his nature is to fight you, so if you try to get his clothes off and he resists he keeps some dignity and strength. You must make him take his own clothes off – submit to the position of weakness on his own. A woman, on the other hand, is societally the seductress. She would draw power from the ability to remove her own clothes. For maximum effect, you remove her clothes and take that power from her.) And when you kidnap a person, you make them naked as you’re transporting them – because for some stupid reason, a person’s more willing to stick with an assailant than escape naked onto a street where they might be seen. It’s foolish, but it’s how we’re conditioned. Conceal the nudity. Well, it’s bad advice in some circumstances. Better the few minutes of embarrassment than a lifetime of dead.

Hmmm. Moving on. I've been trying to understand Wahhabism, without much success. I mean, I understand what drives the suicide bombers themselves -- what I don't understand is the Wahhabist imams, the guys with the power and behind them the guys with the money. I also don't understand why Islam at large puts up with the Wahhabists commiting atrocities in the name of a religion and a God that they're perverting beyond recognition. Yeah. Of course, the same exact thing is going on within other religions as well, right here in America, and though on a different scale, it's just as obscene.

In between classes, I've been reading about Chief Joseph and the Nez Perces. Good stuff. I'd like to read more about that time and place, given the time.

I went out last night, got back around four. It is indeed possible to go out and have a good time without getting drunk. It is also indeed possible to go out and feel like a moron for a while because you tend to be very anxious and clam up in company. But it was a good night. I managed to sleep until almost nine, and woke up to a(nother) beautiful day. Good stuff.

Currently reading: Why Should I Cut Your Throat? by Jeff VanderMeer
Currently listening to: CutThroat Island by John Debney
Currently watching: The Boondock Saints

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Everything becomes ritualized.

We pass people. Some friends, some not. And there’s the standard set of possible questions: "What’s goin’ on?" "How are you?" "Whuddup?" "’SUP?" and so forth. And then there’re the standard answers: "Not much." "Fine." et cetera. On the part of the people initiating the conversation, maybe a few of them are honestly interested, but most are just asking by rote, because it’s what people ask. And the responses tend to be just as thoughtless. The questions we ask, and the answers we receive, are by now tired clichés – and worse, they’re downright trite. It bothers me some, to the point where I’m reluctant to ask the standard questions even when I do mean them. I hesitate to ask a question that a person's already been asked twenty times today. Me and my neuroses.

I also had a long rambling paragraph written out, but when I flipped over to Jonathan Carroll's website I saw that he'd covered much the same ground just a couple days ago, and covered it much more succinctly:
"The long haired woman out for a Sunday walk alone by the Danube. She's dressed up-- silk, leather, high heels. Did she wear this nice outfit just because she felt like it, or because she's going somewhere afterwards, manybe meeting someone special? Her head is down; her hands in the pockets of her trousers. Her shiny hair falls straight, a brown curtain hiding her face. I'm dying to see that face but the curtain doesn't move enough. She continues looking at the ground, probably thinking something over. She passes by going in the opposite direction. I don't turn around but can still hear her high heels clicking the pavement for quite a while. I smile, feeling both cheated and pleased at the mystery. It's so easy to fall a little in love with strangers."
What Carroll has to say is generally worth hearing, though I've read only one of his novels. I actually enjoyed it very much until it fell apart in the third act and ended terribly. I keep meaning to give his fiction another try, but keep not quite getting around to it.

I'm tempted to write about a good deed I went out of my way to do tonight -- headed all the way to the other side of the campus on a little errand. But having said even this much, I feel like I'm glorifying myself too much, taking a little too much pride, having done the thing more to look good than because it was right to do it. If it weren't for my general policy of not editing and deleting what I've written in the blog even when it's particularly whiney or self-pitying or foolish or wrong, I'd excise this whole paragraph.

Currently reading: "I Will Fight No More Forever" Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce War by Merrill D. Beal
Currently listening to: Basil Poledouris' Cherry 2000
Currently watching: The 300 Spartans -- I got about three minutes into it the other night and haven't watched any more yet.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

I hate being an asshole. . . 

. . .but it's getting to the point where it may be an inevitability.

I had some things I was going to write, but I don't feel like it today, so I'm going to fill out this morbid little thing instead:

What do you think happens after you die?
Don't count on Heaven, or on Hell.
You're dead. That's it. Adieu. Farewell.
Eternity awaits? Oh, sure!
It's Putrefaction and Manure
And unrelenting Rot, Rot, Rot,
As you regress from Zoo. to Bot.
I'll Grieve, of course,
Departing wife,
Though Grieving's never
Lengthened Life
Or coaxed a single extra Breath
Out of a Body touched by Death.

-- Sherwin Stephens
Do you believe in heaven?


Do you believe in hell?


Do you think you will be judged after you die?


How many people would attend your funeral?

Do I outlive my parents? 3-5.

Would you rather that people cry or laugh at your funeral?

Whatever's best for them.

What's better? A shot in the head or downing pills?

Does the head shot kill me immediately, or is it one of those deals where the bullets glances off of my skull, but expends most of its kinetic energy on my head and I die of skull fracture and hemmorhage? Either way, I'm not the type for suicide. Shot, please.

What should be written on your tombstone?

He won at life.

Would you rather die childless or divorced?

Toughest question here. After much consideration, I'm going ot have to go with divorced.

Do you want to die in the morning, afternoon, or night?

Winter night. Then when they find me in the morning I'll be frosted over, with a glassy pool of frozen blood around me.

If you had a million dollars to leave, who would you leave it to?

My wife.

What kind of flowers do you want at your funeral?

Those little tiny blue things.

On your deathbed, which moment will you most remember?

It hasn't happened yet, I hope.

Have you ever watched someone die?


What's the most gruesome death you can imagine?

I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. On second thought, I probably couldn't tell you.

How often do you think about death?

Rarely. I have many better and more interesting things to think about.

Is fear of dying your number one fear?

Not even close.

Do you believe in reincarnation?


Have you ever wished someone you loved were dead?


Do you consider life short or long?

Far too short.

Do you think you have a soul?


Assisted suicide for a terminally ill person is:


Would you choose to be immortal, if you could be?

Assuming that large events like nuclear blasts, supernovas, etc would kill me, yes. I want a way out eventually. It would suck for the universe to die and me just be floating alive in nothingness forever.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Special Treat today. . . and some closure 

"The Great Migration" is now down. And if anyone doesn't download these clips for copyright/piracy reasons or anything like that, please make an exception this week. You see, there's a long story, but the short of it is that Gabriel Yared spent a year writing a magnificent score for last year's cheezfest Troy, only to be summarily fired when some studio shit-for-brains decided he didn't like it. James Horner was brought in to write a score in two weeks -- a score that isn't anywhere near as awesome as Yareds. Nevertheless, Yared's score officially doesn't really exist, will not be released, will not be heard. It's a damned shame -- especially as he's a tremendously versatile composer who's been typecast into a pretty unrewarding genre and this score would've shown his versatility and maybe gotten him some higher profile assingments. Anyway, I present to you two selections from Troy: "The Sacking of Troy", my favorite cue from the unused score, and also the shorter "Approach of the Greeks" which I include mainly because I had a couple more MBs of space and thought it would be a shame to waste them. I wish I could've included some other thematic material, but most of the selections I've got are too big. Anyway -- until next week.

Y'know, there's a piece of music I've wanted to write for a couple years now. In fact, I know it, in its entirety, in my head. Every note. It's a little over thirty-three minutes long, and I'd describe it more but I don't have the musical vocabulary. Which is a problem. I'm musically illiterate. Learning to read, play, ultimately write music is very high on my list of Things I'd Like To Do, but every time I try, I rediscover my complete ineptitude. Which is a shame, because I truly love music and would like very much to understand it better. And I'd also like to write this symphonic bugger which I've composed -- sort of -- and would like to share with the world. Of course, there's another problem -- I know only one of the three languages I have the choirs using. I know the sounds and rhythms of the other two, but I'd have to actually learn the languages in order to fit words into the music properly instead of the soundalike-sounds I've got in there now. I almost think it would be easier to develop a port I could install in my head to hook speakers directly into my imagination than it would for me to learn to write music and speak those languages. . . Nah. . .

Speaking of things I'd like to do in life . . . those who know me know my ambitions aren't terribly lofty. What I want more than anything is a family. I'd like to get married, have kids, and raise them well. There's of course plenty more than I want to do in my lifetime. The books that I'd like to write, that I'm currently working toward the ability to write. The places I'd like to visit. I'd love to teach, though I don't think I'd be very good at it. I'd love to get into politics, though I think I'd be terrible at that. I'd love to delve more into the sciences. I'd love to get into a trade: carpentry, maybe. I'd love to learn how to use my swords properly. I'd love to sail more, to fly more, and more than any of those things to help people more. But none of that answers the question: what the hell do I want to do with my life. The time has come, the time is now . . . I need to make some sort of decisions. So I want a family. Great. But I need to figure out something I want to do with myself fresh out of school. Even if it doesn't stick, even if in the long run it's not for me, I need to figure out something. My whole life has just been school, then school, then school. Where do I want to live? What do I want to try to do with myself? What career might be right for me? I try to think what I see myself doing in five years, and draw a blank. I ask my parents what they see me doing . . . my dad can't or won't answer. My mom seems to think I'll be a professor. I'm a novelist, sure, but I'm too slow and too inconsistent to try to live off of that. Eh. I don't know. Just don't know. "Helping people" is not a job description.

I'm well pleased, however, that that business that I was so worked up about at the beginning of the school year has finally seen some closure and I can now give the ol' smile-and-nod when I pass Rachel instead of feeling like a complete dunce when I see her. So that's cool.

Project of the moment (yet again): Get over the shyness. It doesn't help anything, and it's clearly irrational. So just get over it!

Currently reading: Lucius Shepard's A Handbook of American Prayer
Currently listening to: Jerry Goldsmith's Legend
Currently watching: Rudolph Maté's The 300 Spartans

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Spies, Sky Captain, and The Mother of All Headaches 

Saturday morning I woke up my usual bright-eyed bushy-tailed self and got to work. My roommate's home for the weekend, so no worries about waking him up. So: I did reading for classes, did some work on my thesis. And it was good. After a while, I took a break and decided to do some leisure reading. On Friday, I had read the new Star Wars novel, MedStar II: Jedi Healer by Steve Perry and Michael Reaves. MedStar I had been surprisingly good, more than the sum of its parts. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about its conclusion. It was a pretty mediocre, anticlimactic addition to the Star Wars canon, and all said pretty disappointing. Of course, the spy was exactly who I'd guessed it would be back in Book I. Speaking of spies, on Saturday, I picked up Greg Rucka's A Gentleman's Game. Rucka's on my list of Pick Up His New Books Immediately writers. He's not the best writer out there, and his stuff is mostly escapism, but as far as that goes he's at the front of the pack. He does an incredible amount of research, he writes action scenes that'll leave you bruised, and his characters are all human. He writes both novels and comics; on the novel side he's best known for his series of Atticus Kodiak novels. Kodiak is a professional bodyguard, and damn but those books are good. Each one requires just a bit more suspension of disbelief as Kodiak becomes less human and more superhero-ish, but they haven't left me behind yet. But this latest novel is not a Kodiak tale. Rather, it's a novelistic adventure of Rucka's comic book character Tara Chace, from the series Queen & Country. Q&C is hands-down the most realistic and some of the best spy fiction I've ever read. Forget James Bond and Jason Bourne and all of that type; Q&C is the real deal, and though I've only read about half of A Gentleman's Game, I'm not disappointed yet. Good stuff.

Two o'clock Saturday afternoon, I saw Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which is one of the few movies I've actually been looking forward to and daring to have some high hopes for this year. And cinematographically, it delivered, for the most part. Very pretty, although the cars were often too smooth and other similar little details were sometimes disorienting. But the giant robots -- perfect. And the score was far from suckitude, also. Maybe worth buying. It definitely put Edward Shearmur on the map for me. But the rest of the movie was awful. The plot was so full of holes it actually was one giant hole with just a few shreds of plot hanging in front of it. Most of the characters were horribly miscast, especially Sky Captain himself. The dialogue was, with few exceptions, awful, as was the "character development," scenes of exposition, etc. This movie was trying really hard for an Indiana Jones feel, but it failed miserably. Worth seeing once just to see it, but definitely a major let-down for me.

My plans for Saturday afternoon after Sky Captain? Work. I wanted to work until fairly late in the evening/night, then go and be social. Didn't work so well.

I got back to my room around five, and out of nowhere a relatively big headache found me. This was not conducive to doing work, as you might imagine. I thought maybe I was dehydrated -- I'd woken up very dehydrated for some reason, so had drunk more than a liter of water that day so far, but you never know -- or that it was a blood sugar thing maybe. So I went to dinner, ate a lot, drank a lot. To no avail. By the time I got back to my room, The Prince Consort of Headaches had been joined by Our Lady of Headache and they seemed to be having some sort of party within my skull.

Before I go further, let me say that I am no stranger to headaches. Back in high school, I'd had fairly chronic headaches. I think this had in large part to do with my posture, which was terrible. But I knew the various sorts of headaches, and how to deal with them. Which would go away with a good sneeze; which I could send off by cracking or massaging my neck, which painkillers might take care of, which could only be helped by sleep, whatever. I was also pretty good at ignoring even the worst headaches and just going about my business. I've got a pretty high pain tolerance, and I'd had a lot of practice, so headaches just didn't bother me as much as they might. So when I get a headache that's nigh incapacitating, it's a BIG one.

Around seven o'clock, Prince Consort and Our Lady were joined by Supreme MegaHeadache, and at that point I realized ignorance was not bliss, and perhaps I should take a nap and sleep these guys off. I crashed on top of my covers, where I lay for the next hour-and-a-half or so, trying to fall asleep, then (as usually works better) not trying to fall asleep, then just sort of riding the ache. Around eight-thirty, someone knocked on the door looking for Craig; after he'd gone, and the headache had escalated, I gave up on the concept of nap and went in for a full-scale sleep assault. Hah. The next four hours, as I kept shifting, trying to find the position of least agony, as I alternated from an incredibly dry mouth to a nose running like a hose, as I was aware that my headache was cheating, attacking from multiple fronts -- up the spine, behind the eyes, through the sinuses, from the top of the skull, though the hinges of the jaw -- those hour pretty much were very unpleasant. No rest for the wicked, eh? I was wishing someone would come along with a stun gun and shock the headache away, or that a masseuse would show up, or something that might help in some way. No such luck. Finally, around twelve-thirty, the headache waned and I thought it was gone. I recognized an uncomfortable pressure, and decided I ought to empty the bladder before attempting sleep. Bad idea. The moment I stepped out of the darkness of my room, my pupils contracted, and it felt like my eyes tearing open, and the headaches came back with a vengeance. Bastards.

Finally, sometime around two, either the pain ebbed enough to allow sleep, or I just plain passed out. I'm guessing the former. Woke up around seven. Headache was gone, but even now I feel it waiting for me to do something stupid. Where in the world did this freak headache come from? I have no idea. But please -- pretty please with a cherry on top -- no repeat performances for at least twenty-one more years, eh?

And now to all that work I didn't get to yesterday.

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