Monday, December 28, 2009


An awesome Christmas gift (Zune) made me realize how out of touch I am with my music - and as such, my past. It's been years since I listened to some of the bands and albums that I found when I plugged this bad boy in, and in other cases disks I ripped in response to this device. Because of this, and since it's the season for giving, I give lists. Santa has a few of them, and he doesn't even exist. You deserve some too.

So in alphabetical order of artist, here's the top nine songs on my Zune right now and why you should listen to them if you haven't yet.

"Astronaut: A Short History of Nearly Nothing" by Amanda Palmer
Amanda Palmer is a hero of mine. She is a representation of what it means to love your art more than anything else, making music that is deeply personal while still being enjoyable by a wider audience. This song is one of my favorites from her solo career, even if a first time listener only has a vague idea of what the fuck is happening in it. Beautiful piano work and melodies.

"She's Leaving Home" by The Beatles
If you don't know the Beatles, you should probably consider ritual suicide. This particular song is a lesser known cut from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It's got amazing string work and it tells a sad, touching story about a girl growing up and moving on with her life.

"JENOVA Celestial" by bLiNd
J-E-N-O-V-A is from a Final Fantasy game. The original track was pretty sick for a MIDI song, and this is a nice dance version with a fat bass thump and a solid clutch on the original melody. This one also cuts the repetition of the original song, which is barely noticed when you're getting your ass handed to you by a recurring boss.

"Fa-fa-fa" by Datarock
I had no idea what the hell this was when it came on. At first I thought it was a surprise song from my amazing girlfriend (who is responsible for the Zune in the first place), but she knows nothing of it. I guess Microsoft did something cool on their own. I dig this, even if it's somewhat ADD in its key changes between chorus and verse and shift in genres.

"The Pharaoh Sails to Orion" by Nightwish
A friend of mine introduced Nightwish to me in high school, and I fell in love immediately. Really, I could've picked any song at random from their discography and it would've been equally good. This one, however, has a heavy, thrashy base with a piano melody played to contrast the guitars. The male vocals are obnoxious, and I kind of hate them, but they're very minor in this jam. Usually it's almost entirely a female singer with an operatic voice (or in the new album, a first soprano without any operatic training, but a younger sounding tone). Incidentally, both singers in this song are no longer part of the band. Sadness. Oh, and a very strange quasi-Egyptian breakdown.

"Audience of One" by Rise Against
This song is all personal nostalgia from the singer directed towards someone specific, but it feels like he's singing it to you. It almost makes you want to give him a hug. It's also a coming of age story through song though, and perhaps I'm just a sucker for that kind of crap. The rest of the album/discography/band is awesome, but this one has been striking a chord in me recently. Maybe I'm just getting old, and liking punk that talks about it.

"Know" by System of a Down
Also from high school for me. I had a minor obsession with System of a Down for a long time, in small part because a girlfriend of mine was also obsessed. Even if I didn't date her I'd've loved them though. This song has a powerful drum intro with a crunchy chug to go through the rest of the song. It's a nice representation of what the band's energy really is. It also shows the Middle-Eastern cultural influence in the music a little more than other songs, and it's a nice blend that wouldn't normally be noticed in modern music in the West.

"Poem" by Taproot
I've had a soft spot for Taproot for a long time. I didn't notice that the first album was mostly out of key when I started with them, I just liked the style of writing. On this album they fixed these issues of staying in some kind of tone, and this song is about integrity through creativity. Uplifting without pussing out.

"Ocean Avenue" by Yellowcard
This song is one of the best written pop songs ever. Period. It's the only thing I feel they've ever done right, but it's almost perfect. The album was worth buying for this song, even if the rest of it was disappointing. Still a coming of age narrative, but also a love song with a fantastic hook PLAYED BY A VIOLIN. Beat that. This will always be one of my favorite songs, even if I will otherwise bash the band to hell. They did this one thing that was amazing enough to note, and I will always respect them more than most other one hit wonders.

Why is there no Coheed on this list? Because I love them too much to include them. Four albums worth of music means that this list turns into 7 Coheed songs, "Ocean Ave." and "Astronaut." That wouldn't be fair to anyone else who kicks ass either.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ten Disney Villains that are Awesome.

In alphabetical order, these are my ten favorite Disney villains from the "Animated Classics."

Chernabog - Fantasia made me very happy when I was a child... except for Night on Bald Mountain. You probably don't recognize the name of this character. He was originally annotated as Satan. He controls restless souls and is enormous. He opens hell and throws them in. His name is even taken from a pagan night god. This is no regular character, and now that I'm old enough not to wet myself when I watch this part, he's my favorite villain.

Cruella de Vil - When your name is derived from "cruel" and "devil," you know you're going to have problems. She must've changed her name legally when she grew up, I'm pretty sure no loving parent would ever name their child "Cruella." However, if my parents named me like this, I'd probably be an evil hag that kills puppies and hates jazz too. The very first time she's referenced reinforces the image: "Oh Pongo, It's that devil woman." 101 Dalmatians had a pretty awesome villain.

Dr. Falicier - The newest BAMF is one of the best, but he's written that way on purpose. Princess and the Frog is all about working hard to get the American dream. Falicier is all about conning others and making debts to get what you want. In a way, he's a mirror for the recent economic collapse. When you take out too many favors from your "friends," eventually they will reclaim what you've taken. Only difference is that this one's voodoo and not cash. Oh, he pulls a Chernabog with his shadows, which is also pretty fucking cool.

Gantu - Lilo and Stitch is one of my favorite Disney movies, but it didn't really have a villain. Stitch was one for a while, but that changed. Jumba Jookiba wasn't really evil, just insane (sometimes bordering on retarded). Gantu is the closest thing to a villain that Lilo and Stitch had, but that's okay. I like that he's just there to be a douche, without really being overbearing. I like that he's only doing his job, even if it is usually unethical. I like that he's the everyman of villainy, like the gang member rather than the Adolf Hitler.

Hades - Suave! Sarcastic! On fire! I hated Hercules for the most part, but I loved the villains. The Hydra is only absent from this list because it dies like a bitch. I wanted Hades to win so badly, based on his charisma entirely. If he wasn't so cool, then I would've hated the movie. He made it not only watchable, but enjoyable. I suppose there are perks to being the god of Death.

Headless Horseman - Long before you were born, Disney took the crap shot and made a series of several completely unrelated sequences lumped together as films. Most of these were somewhat terrible, but two are memorable. The Three Caballeros had no villain, and looking back, really wasn't all that special (just memorable). The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, however, took an American folk story and some other thing that no one cared about, and made a movie. The Headless Horseman has been done many other times in many other ways since, but this is the best version of him. No one cares about his back story, or why he kills people. All that matters is that he's an evil ghost that will royally mess you up if you get too close to his land.

Jafar - Contrary to popular belief, Aladdin's villain might not have been Jafar, but the Genie. However, as Robin Williams is incapable of playing a villain very well, it never really shows. Jonathan Freeman, however, plays a mean motherfucker. He uses hypnosis, dark transformation magic, fire, and an annoying fucking bird named after the best villain of all time. On top of all that, he's so evil that he doesn't need a song to himself (Disney's version of a soliloquy) to explain how evil he is.

Rattigan - You probably didn't watch The Great Mouse Detective. Go do it now. This will still be here.

Done? Good. I probably don't really need to describe him now. Voiced by Vincent Price, kills naysayers by throwing them to his raincor (a cat named Felicia), and likes robots. That's awesome. "Even meaner? You mean it? Even worse than the widows and orphans you drowned?" His song says it all.

Scar - Yay for Hamlet! The Lion King is a great movie for English majors, and Scar is evidence that someone can be both a "muscle man" and a "peter pan." He wasn't some dumb shit that was afraid to get his paws dirty, he killed his brother personally, stole the kingdom, and ran it into the ground. He's got a song, so he's not quite as evil as Jafar, but he is much more successful.

The Coachman - Pinocchio, much like The Princess and the Frog, is a film about working hard to get what you want... except that it's more realistic in the sense that the world is full of assholes that will detract from it. There are half a dozen characters that can be villains. Stromboli is a cruel, greedy, violent fat ass. Honest John is a greedy, murderous crook. Monstro's a fucking whale that eats families. Lampwick is the kind of kid that everyone wants to slap in the face. "Coachman" is easily the most evil of the bastards in this. He uses the dark magic of being a little shit to turn children into "jackasses." That's pretty evil.

So that's that. Disagree? Lemme know. Agree? We can revel in the badassery of Disney's villains.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Most Wonderful [noun] of the [noun]

I love Christmas. I love the family, the food, and the exchange of gifts (in that order.) I love that for one day a year, everyone at least pretends to get along and stop fighting, and has no qualms about giving to the needy.

There was a tradition that we used to have in my family (I don't remember if we still do it) to have enough food to feed two extra people, should someone not have a place to go. It's a beautiful tradition, and I think it should happen everywhere. Ingrain it in your children's hearts. Don't forge the consumerism that goes along with this season.

Exchanging gifts is not "gift giving," as the larger retail chains would have you think. You can exchange gifts all year round, but Christmas (and anniversaries) is specifically for that reason. "Gift giving," implies that you must spend hundreds of dollars to give something, which is a brilliant use of group-think pushing to the borderline retarded. Some of the best gifts I've ever received (and I'm told given) are hand made, and cost little more than the building supplies. Those are the things that matter. It's not the objects that you pass to someone, it's why you're passing them.

I wish I had more time to prepare for the season this year. I had so many ideas for things to give, but the season snuck-up this year. It didn't feel like the holiday season (though realistically, it helped that I wasn't in retail). There was little Christmas music, and Hanukkah came early. Even Kwanzaa passed quietly. I don't care so much about the additional time to buy gifts. Most of my ideas were things to make by hand, that now will have to wait for another year.

What frightens me is that this time of year might be the only thing keeping a few dozen major retail chains alive, thus keeping thousands of people (hundreds I know personally) employed. I can't even say "DON'T BUY STUFF! GIVE LOVE!" this year, like I normally would in my hippie-esque way. I can only say "Give what you think means something, not that gigantic thing with a convincing commercial."

This isn't really the most wonderful time of the year anymore though. I went to BestBuy recently and the line wrapped around the back of the store. I have many friends in this particular branch, some of them looked frazzled from the constant stream of rabid customers. I can't blame them. I'd be haggard too. Some took it better than others, a few keeping a genuine smile through the day. Maybe they just felt loved that someone came to visit them (I loved knowing that when I was in retail too), but they seemed to have it before they realized they were visited. Maybe the Christmas spirit doesn't need to be grafted into everyone. Maybe it's still alive on its own in a few people.

If you celebrate Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Festivus, the Winter Solstice, New Year, and/or Christmas, then I hope you had/have/are currently enjoying it. For Unitarians, happy all of the above.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The struggle goes on, even when you're not there.

I've had "Collapse (Post Amerika)" by Rise Against stuck in my head all day. It's an awesome song, so I don't especially mind. It speaks volumes about my daily life these days as well.

I've never considered myself an activist, or even all that politically oriented. I've always had beliefs, but I never really had to fight to defend them. Up until relatively recently, none of the events around me effected me in the way they have been now. So now, after almost 24 years of life, I'm finally in a position to fight for it.

I'm a Boy Scout, or rather, I was one. Now I'm a scout leader, an adult volunteer. One of my brothers is still involved, and I was in from six years old to now. I used to work at a camp as a teacher, and summers at Aquehonga were all that I looked forward to when I was young. The 'greater' New York Council (GNYC) realized that they had issues (financial and otherwise) and decided the best way to fix these problems was to sell one of the three camps they own. Rather than selling Alpine, which is in Alpine, New Jersey and bleeds money compared to the others, the infinite wisdom of GNYC is to sell William H. Pouch Camp.

Pouch Camp is on Staten Island, making it the only boy scout camp in New York City. It's beautiful and enormous, situated just outside of a school but far enough removed to feel natural still. For this reason, the property is delicious for housing developers to consume.

Why is this camp - the only one that is actually making more money than the cost to operate - the option for sales? Partially for the size of the property. Partially because so much money has been poured into Cub World (as Alpine is called) that they cannot admit what a bad idea it was. Partially because people in business suits have no place in scouting if they have never been one themselves.

If something must be sold, then it should be Cub World. It's a veritable amusement park for cub scouts, with a giant wooden pirate ship, a fake mine, a fort, and a large pool. Why the hell are all these things needed, what do they have to do with scouting? Nothing, except for the pool. Even then, a lake will suffice just as well.

I've been trying to watch my tongue, especially since this is in relation to scouting. So I won't say what I think about most of the gentlemen in GNYC. I won't voice what I want them to do to themselves, nor will I say where they should place the current proposal. I'll be peaceful, and say that they should consider reducing their paychecks before crying broke. They should try more fund raisers. They should give up the lease on the office space in the Empire State building (fourth floor), and work in a scouting environment instead. I don't want these maggots anywhere near my camp, but if giving them an office there instead of losing it all together makes it happen, then I'll tolerate it.

GNYC, in the spirit of Rise Against - a band that wants peace, but knows they can only do so much - I want you to know that I'll be here with every other scouter on this island. Every other in the city. In the state. We all watch you, you only exist because of us. Don't sell off our camp. It isn't in scouting's spirit. It isn't right, and you know it.

Final thoughts on the MTA

I am pleased to inform my readers that this is going to be my last post about the MTA in this blog. With the recent atrocities of service issues, cutting student Metrocards, and continually hiding behind the "law [requiring] them to balance the budget," I've decided they aren't worth this blog's posts.

Instead, I will be creating a new one, and hopefully getting involved with watchdog groups to counteract this economic terrorist organization that is raping the eye socket of New York, (literally) taking copious amounts of time and money from millions of people.

All posts thus far about the MTA will remain on this page, but will be copied to the new one for archival purposes. I will be branching out in an attempt to network others like it together to provide a supply of first hand accounts and opinions about the Metropolitan Transit "Authority" and their immoral actions.

This post will be edited in the next half hour with a link to the new blog. In the meantime, here are a few different takes on the recent crime against our children:


NY1 News' Story

WNYC's Story

MTA Pissing off the Union

A Decent Person is Punished for Truth

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

They ate Robin's minstrels. There was much rejoicing.

It is a wonderful feeling, knowing that I will never take another final exam or type a final essay as an undergraduate. While I will not get my BA until May, I will never have to find a thesis from a text again. I will never have to waste hours of my life looking for the right wording to avoid plagiarism through accidental lack of notation (a blog about common things, Oppenheimer).

I feel lighter, though I'm still just as fat as ever. I feel free, even though I'm yet to graduate and am bound to my jobs and family.

I want to dance. I want to write songs, and happy poetry. I want to plant a garden shaped like a heart (human, not stylized). I want to help old people cross streets and collect bottles for shopping carts. I want to join in with senile old Hershel (wherever he may be) in Elvis songs on the bus. I want to play human chess.

This wonderful feeling, like all others, will pass. The buzz started wearing off in the same day, even though it was still fresh. In a week's time the full realization that once I have a degree I leave my job on campus and that I will need to find a full time job in a field not even related to my degree just so I can pay bills will hit me (long sentence). I will hit depression and have a premature midlife crisis. I will lose hair color, sell off most of my furniture, and move to a distant location before realizing that I did it all wrong.

I have some time still before this happens, I'm going to enjoy this euphoria while I can. Maybe I'll write music again, I haven't since this term started. I could use the creative exercise.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Three days? Oh noes!

Writer’s block is a bitch. Common knowledge. This particular bitch is also raging and hormonal at the moment, thus making life difficult.

I haven’t been around for a few days, mostly due to school work. There isn’t all that much of it left, but what’s there is enough to keep me away from this blog. To an extent, I’ve had topics for this in mind, but generally this past week has been about finals and closing projects for my last real term as an undergraduate. All that stands between me and a diploma is a final in Chinese Civilization, a reasonably short portfolio of poems, and a few months of downtime.

Why am I not graduating in January? The administration and internal workings of my institution are terrible. Most of my classmates, colleagues, and peers have discussed this to a huge extent, I don’t really need to talk about it. Feel free to share any insight anyone has in the comments.

Writer’s block, that silly whore, is not actually in my way when it comes to this blog. She’s sitting on the last poem I need to write for my portfolio, flinging bits of refuse at me whenever I try to get close. Maybe if WB wasn’t constantly pissing off the very people she should be attracted to, she’d get laid and be a much more pleasant conceptual individual.

Usually music subdues the block, putting her to sleep long enough for me to tiptoe around her heap of a body. Today she seems intent on jamming with me, and even when I put on something I doubt she’d enjoy, she tries to pull me up to dance. I never dare, knowing she’ll stab me in the ribs and steal my kidneys if I get too close.

She’ll pass out eventually, I just need to outlast her.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Make Friends with (better) Grammar

There are few things that bother me like poor grammar, especially when written by an otherwise clever person. This has ruined plays, blogs, poems, and essays that I've read, and it bothers me a little more each day. This wouldn't be the case if the majority of these works weren't by writing majors. It's only worse in the case of individuals who know how to fix their work, but don't bother to re-read any of their own material and produce drivel instead.

My own grammar is far from perfect, but there are little things that play on my nerves more than most others.

Tense Shifts - This is a common and relatively easy mistake to make. I'm guilty of it from time to time as well, but I usually correct it as I'm typing. The use of "were" and "is" in the same sentence referencing objects that are not in a state of constant being doesn't anger me, per say, but it is annoying and detrimental to an otherwise intelligent piece.

Contractions - I love these things. If I didn't have them, my writing would be much more dry and less personal. When they're used incorrectly however, I whip out my handy red-pen and scribble the hell out of whatever paper I'm looking at. Some of these improper contractions include you're, they're, we're, and it's. These do not mean "You forgot your book!/Let's go there!/They forgot their elephant!/It lost its way!" Common mistakes, yes. This does not mean that they cannot be fixed, or that common sense can't just fix it if anyone had the drive to read their own work. Good job.

Punctuation - For the love of Jesus shaped cookies, use punctuation. If you don't, I will throw things at you. When you do not use punctuation, you look like an asshole. Even if you use too many commas, you are still using them.

When you don't use commas and want to show something it looks like you have too much to say and only one breath to say it before the world explodes and they will never know the love you had for their domesticated animal

Get it?

And I/And Me - The rules are still the same, whether or not you have a friend with you. You're polite, so your friend comes first, but you're still the same as you were. "Dave and I went walking," is the same as "I went walking." Except there's Dave too. "Who wants to walk with Dave and me?" is the same as "Who wants to walk with me?" It's not complicated at all, contrary to common belief when you're in the third grade. As time goes on, your view is supposed to grow and mature on its own.

Then/Than - When? Then! This is probably better than whatever you're using to remember the difference, based on what I read on a day to day basis.

When you're intelligent and you type as if you weren't, then it doesn't matter what you have to say. You will look stupid, and be laughed at. I will be the one encouraging others to laugh at you. Please, for the love of fuck, proofread.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Year of the Black Rainbow: A Fanboy's Expectations

It should come as no surprise that I am a fan of progressive rock, comic books, and science fiction. It should be less of a surprise then that my favorite band is Coheed and Cambria. It's not an obsession, like with other fans, but it is a very healthy fandom. I've seen them live (about) ten times, met the band once, met the singer (Claudio Sanchez) several times after, and posted on the fansite on a regular basis for a long time.

It's not obsessive, there are people far worse when it comes to Coheed. As of yet I do not have any logos tattooed, nor have I changed my legal name to any character's surname. These things happen with this band, seriously.

I love Coheed because they play well, write well, and Claudio was ambitious enough to try to tell a four part science fiction epic over five albums. These songs are not all heavy handed geek drivel, and you don't need to know what's going on to enjoy them. Most fans are aware that there is a story happening, but don't know a damn thing about it except that "The Crowing" is some kind of character and a lot of bad shit happens in the third album. I was one of the fans who followed more closely, trying to figure out what was happening in each scene of the story. I own most of the comics that explain the story so far (I'm missing the second half of Amory Wars for now, but the trade will make up for the 3 issues from Vol. 2 that I don't have).

Two days ago the fifth album was announced for early next year, Year of the Black Rainbow. Like thousands of other fans, I'm pretty stoked. This album tells the beginning of the story, rather than the end (Claudio's a geek too, and from what I can tell loved Star Wars enough to do a prequel in homage. He also wore a Boba Fett hoodie for NY Comic Con.) It will hopefully explain a few dozen plot holes, fill in who the hell Coheed and Cambria are a little more (the band is named after two characters that die in the first album), and I believe push for a more metal approach to how they write.

The past two years have been spent mostly touring and promoting the previous album with metal bands. The bulk of 2009 was split between Slipknot, Heaven & Hell, and recording. The Slipknot show leaned more towards metal than any other time I'd ever seen them. The relatively short set was all of the heaviest things they'd had over the past 3 albums (Second Stage Turbine Blade was a much lighter album, despite the grim content. More later.) It was probably to cater to Slipknot's fans, but the tour with Slipknot at all was a shock to most. Heaven & Hell makes sense at least, as both bands have stronger individual musicianship than Slipknot, whom excel with band unity and coherence.

The other push I expect towards metal comes from the individual tastes in the band. Sanchez and Travis Stever (guitar) both have roots in metal, growing up with Iron Maiden (with a fanboy myspace shot of the two with Bruce Dickinson, which is fucking awesome), Dio-Sabbath (Heaven & Hell), and many others that were less referenced in interviews.

They have a wide musical palate, but metal is still in the roots. The current drummer, Chris Penne, also comes from a VERY progressive metal background as the former drummer for Dillinger Escape Plan. If you've never heard them, check out "Panasonic Youth." You'll understand what I mean.

Really it only seems like Mic Todd (bass) grounds them out, but he's also a guitarist by nature. Most guitarists will have a greater appreciation for metal than other musicians, and we already know he can play the shit out of it. He ripped up scales on an acoustic right before the Neverender shows (a four night series, each night is a complete album played from start to finish. Mic's stuff was before night two in New York), and is relaxed enough to run with what's going on while adding just enough to make it his own.

If you have never heard Coheed and Cambria's music before, there's a few things to note:

1) Lyrical content ranges from sappy love songs ("Wake Up," "Light and the Glass") to murdering children ("Time Consumer," "Everything Evil," "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3"), to insane conversations with symbolic dogs and demonic bicycles ("Ten Speed [of God's Blood and Burial]," "The Hound [of Blood and Rank]") to things that no one really understands, but might be love songs about guns and basketball players turned characters ("The Velourium Camper I: Faint of Hearts," "33.")

2) Musically, the lyrics sometimes clash with the musical feeling. This paints an ironic sound scape that will have you singing along with things you wouldn't ever normally sing to. "Ten Speed" and "Faint of Hearts" are wonderful examples of this.

3) The story becomes very post modern towards the end, in an Animal-Man like shift where the Writer of the story becomes a character in themselves. It's a confusing story that is not fully fleshed out in the songs, leaving room for interpretations. That's what hooks people who are into this sort of thing.

4) Live shows are brutal for a band that is not always/usually all that heavy. People leave these shows with broken faces and trampled legs. I had to pull my girlfriend through a sea of people at Roseland Ballroom's show a few years ago to keep her from getting pulled under and trampled to death (great show.) They are worth seeing live despite the personal danger, as they perform better live than on the albums.

A final thought before doing something more productive than having a fanboy rant: Since they're huge Dio fans and he was recently diagnosed with cancer, I suspect that the reference to Rainbow in the new title is homage to him. If this is the case, then I think Ronnie (James Dio) would be/is honored and proud.

The Foresight Metapost of Win

In the time since I last posted, many things worth writing about have happened. I have not had time to write any of them down yet, but they were all noteworthy in their own ways. Here's a short list of topics I will be posting about in the next two days:

The MTA: Part 4.5
The Merits of Slavery over the Holocaust (derived from a conversation in a magazine office, of all places)
Grammar: Their is no thing two you're argument
Falaffel and the Oral Orgasm
Polyamorousity and Monogomy
Year of the Black Rainbow: A Fanboy's Expectations

I've been writing more often for classes, so each of these posts may or may not feel like a short, informal essay. This is fine though, this is the case for most of my posts.

Depending on my mood in the morning, I may do the Black Rainbow post first before I leave for class. The others will follow through the course of the day or shortly after.

Step One: Live Long
Step Two: ??????
Step Three: Prosper!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

On their knees, the war pigs crawling.

I am fascinated with all things social, but history has never been my strong suit. I enjoy learning about the past, but I have no memory for names & dates, and no patience for dry "academic" writing. I do my best to get through the thick, sometimes nearly meaningless words to see the inherently interesting subject, but most of the time it seems like an excuse to have SAT words finally used.

For example, I'm reading a text about Chinese art from 1620 on (incidentally called The Arts of China from 1620) for a Chinese Civilization course. The work is actually quite amazing, and the stories behind them are superb. My favorite by far is of Yun Xiang, a relatively minor artist from the 1500's who is best known not for his paintings or poetry, but because he turned down a position as an official (a highly prestigeous place in society, "elite" status). His reason was simply that he "preferred freedom to wander in the countryside."

That's fucking awesome. In an age when rejection from such a position likely leads to starvation and ostricization, he was courageous enough to follow his own will and do what mattered to him. Even if it resulted in mostly paintings of mountains (landscapes were all the rage in ancient China), he did what he wanted rather than what society demanded of him.

Problem: the book is so dry that I can hardly get through it, even though stories like this are amazing. I've been away from academic writing for so long that I can't even make it through a relatively short piece with lots of pictures.

This had better be the best/last academic paper I ever write, once I make my way through the rest of the book.

Black Sabbath will help me push through the dull.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Politics are for smart people.

I hate intelligent people that squander their intellect by making trivial statements when claiming to argue unpopular but usually valid points. This is why I don't read many political blogs (those I subscribe to belong to friends of mine), or watch any televised news, or debate politically with a few folks I know in person.

I consider myself a centrist, which does not mean a Democrat with Republican leanings or vice versa. I have no political affiliation, and when I vote, I vote for whatever makes the most sense after personal research. I don't run my thumb down a party line and consider myself done. I pay attention to the things that matter to me when I can afford to, and I argue these points.

Others I know, however, resort to name calling and blind accusations on individuals rather than saying what it is they're doing wrong and how it could be done better. Nothing productive comes from pointing out that Glenn Beck is a fucking lunatic, even though it's obviously true. This doesn't address the fear mongering that rides based on abuse of blind faith with a political agenda, which is inherently wrong based on the separation of Church and State (which conservatives should love, since that's one of the foundations of this country).

On the same token, this doesn't mean that our President shits gold bricks (which contrary to election propaganda, is false). Like any other human, he makes mistakes and occasionally has to step back to push forward. This is true in most strategic situations. When you have matters that are more pressing than the ones you want to work on, you handle those as best as possible. If fixing one problem will help expedite the repair of others, then that issue becomes the most pressing. This is getting off topic though.

A blunt but hollow statement carries no weight. Anger means nothing if it doesn't have something to justify it's existence. Without this, it's just juvenile ranting.

Another group of individuals I hate (though specifically there was one of note) are the alarmist fear mongers. The ones I reference are not media figures, though I'm sure you can draw your own connections where they exist. The individual I reference specifically is a former friend of mine that seems to have lost his mind somewhere in the last few years. Now he's become a self important twit without anything really worth saying. What follows is an adapted conversation we had online.

"Andrew. I was at a seminar, and they explained why the economy is going to get drastically worse. I wanted to share this with you. In 2010 the economy may seem fine, but in a year or so it's going to tank drastically. You should stock up on supplies," he said to me.

"Honestly, it should've about fifteen years ago, but then the internet came into existence," I replied.

"Okay Andrew," his textual tone thick with condescension.

"I see no reason to listen to alarmists who take advantage of human psychology. Similar things were said about Y2K, and 2012, if you remember."

"That has nothing to do with it."

"Yes, it has everything to do with it. The economy - like the environment - that fluctuates."

"Okay Andrew."

"This means that it will eventually fix itself, or we will all suffer as a people."

"I'm just saying this: If you are hungry and try to take my shit, I will shoot you. Lol," he nearly concluded.

"That's fine with me, good luck with that. It seems more practical to become skilled in things that would provide, rather than stocking and mongering. For example, I am capable of farming and hunting, and quite knowledgeable when it comes to the outdoors and survival."

He should be fully aware of my Boy Scout training, specifically the survival aspects. I ate that shit up as a kid, and it stuck with me.

"Okay. Good luck."

"So when your supplies run out and you have to burn furniture for warmth, don't come to me," I finished before blocking his newest screen name.

While this current animosity has more to do with outside circumstances that he brought about on his own, the root of it still rests on the absence of concrete evidence and the use of fear. I can't stand anyone who will try to use fear as a tool to their advantage (hence my disdain for politics), especially so when it's targeted at me and my loved ones.

In the event that the economy tanks further, I will handle it in my own way. I do not need someone who's only slightly more stable financially and significantly less stable mentally to tell me how to plan my future. If I needed services like this, I could get it from someone I trust more, like the crazy guy with dreadlocks that pushes around shopping carts full of bottles.

Final countdown?

I feel accomplished tonight. I successfully wrote/rewrote two pieces, performed mass edits to a group piece (which I really, really dislike, but there's little I can do about that with 4 other people assigned to work in a 10 minute play. Two minutes a person? Not a very good idea, even in the best of circumstances), renewed one of my ID's, got the book needed to work on another paper for a different class, and am nearly ready for sleep.

Only major detriment right now is the state my floor is in. I'll clean it tomorrow afternoon eventually, I keep promising myself.

Somewhat related, after months of "cleaning," which means "months of being too busy to do anything," my bed is now clear and I can stop sleeping on the couch. Fantastic.

I don't have much left in me to say right now. I could talk some more about the MTA, but I'm too tired. It would be forced, and not as well planned as it should be for a subject so sickeningly important.

/end filler.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Why I Hate the MTA (Part 3)

Less than two hours ago I left my house for an evening of celebration as a good friend turns 21 (six minutes ago. Happy Birthday L!). She decided to celebrate in Manhattan, with pool and a bar later on. There was a restauraunt involved too, but I had a prior obligation for that time.

I left my house at 10:09, aiming to meet with a friend and catch the 10:30 ferry. I arrived at the bus stop at 10:16, all the while looking through the treeline in my way to watch for passing buses. None passed, despite being a minute late. The next scheduled bus is at 10:49, thus pushing me back to the 11:00 boat.

My friend waiting at the terminal was kind enough to stay until this boat instead.

44 minutes passed. The bus arrived at 11:00 on the dot, as the boat is leaving. I got on anyway, assuming that I might catch the 11:30 ferry instead. I told my friend to go on without me, I didn't want to hold them up for a full hour because I'm running late.

While on the bus, I immediately noticed that the driver was busy talking to a friend of his, a middle aged woman that can't seem to shut up. Judging from the way he drove, he was caught up talking to her and now had to make up for lost time.

I arrived at the terminal at 11:06. Quite a bang-up job from the talkative driver that couldn't understand punctuality and urgency. The next boat was, in fact, at midnight. Rather than waiting, and arriving at the pool hall at 1AM, I called, wished L my best, and walked up the bus ramp for the next ride towards my house.

I was in luck, a bus was parked in it's loading zone. As I walk to the half full unscheduled bus, the driver pulls away. I waited another 20 minutes in the cold. The next one showed right on time, at 11:30. Apparently the only way to catch a bus on time (sometimes) is to catch them at the first stop.

The rest of the trip was quiet. I got off the bus at 11:40, I got in at 11:47.

Total time spent out: 99 minutes.

Total time spent in buses: 16 minutes.

Total time spent in transit on foot: 14 minutes.

Total time spent waiting: 53 minutes.

Total time unaccounted for: 16 minutes.

From this breakdown I can ascertain that the average trip time for a (literally) five minute ride is roughly an hour, and more importantly, that the MTA LITERALLY stole 16 minutes of my life while it was eating the other 83 with nothingness.

Fuck you, MTA.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


...after you've been in an oven for five hours and your flesh has been devoured by a half dozen predators to your kind. Poor turkey being put away for storage.

It's Thanksgiving, and I am finally at my house for the first time in three years for the holiday. It's strange to be back, but Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays I enjoy. I don't enjoy it because of the parades (don't watch 'em), or the specials (March of the Wooden Soldiers never really interested me, but even that was canceled this year for football), or even the food (which is awesome for the first 20 minutes). Thanksgiving is one of the rare times my family acts civil with one another, and for this I couldn't be more grateful.

I don't much care that it celebrates when European settlers took advantage of native peoples, as they did in nearly every place they visited. I don't care that it is a day of mass genocide for turkeys, especially since they are specifically raised for this purpose and can no longer live in the wild on their own. I don't care about the looming destruction and economic stroke that will ensue tomorrow. All that matters to me is that my family finally worked like one that functions. I spent the day with my loved ones, and they acted like ones I should love. That's something worth celebrating.

That's what I'm thankful for. That's all for today. Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sex vs Cloning

Sexual reproduction is a staple of the human condition. It's an amazing solution to many of life's problems, the cause for even more, and sometimes just something to do depending on the people you ask. It's the way to spread STDs, including Herpes, HIV, and Pregnancy. This last one is sometimes useful, but far more often a 9 month punishment for both parties involved (or perhaps just one, if the father was a scumbag or dies).

For those who seek pregnancy, perhaps cloning is a better alternative. You know almost exactly what the child will be like straight from the bat, and while playing with genetics, you can custom engineer your child to be everything you want. A left-handed, orange-eyed, flat-footed boy with a large frame? Clone the author and tweak the brown down from his eyes, there you have it!

Should cloning ever become fully accepted by society, it would not replace sexual reproduction. It is significantly more fun, and there's an air of mystery about what the child will be. You can never tell if the child will come out healthy, or in some cases, who the father will be. There's the widely romanticized aspect of it. Valentine's Day was completely built around it, and Halloween is rapidly moving closer to a second glory day for sex too.

That said, cloning takes away the excitement in exchange for reliability. You know EXACTLY what the child will come out as, and that it will be healthy (as long as you get it from a legal practitioner. Those back-alley cloning devices have a long history of mutations. Extra thumbs and webbed feet, the works). This isn't to say that romantic images of a man, a woman, and a geneticist can't exist, or that they shouldn't. This is only saying that the world has not yet taken it's first step towards complete asexuality. Some have embraced it, good friends of mine identify with no popular sexuality, and just love everyone without a thought of genitals. Many will fear it, I'm sure Westboro Baptist Church will protest it, like they do soldiers' funerals. Regardless of one's stance, it will provide an interesting alternative.

This in mind, it must be stated how well this will boost our economy, especially in the event of universal health care. The sales on latex, lambskin, petroleum jellies, and a number of other related objects will skyrocket while pregnancy tests, chloroform, and abortions will drop dramatically. Trojan stocks will replace Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and GameStop (this time of year) as the shares to own.

Really, the short end of the stick comes to the poor GYNOs who lose out on the price of birth and pregnancy, unless they are able to adapt to the changing world. All dates will be predetermined, and all expecting parents will be ready sooner.

Licenses would be required to get a baby implanted, and more importantly, renewed to keep the child. Actually, this should already exist, as it would reduce the costs of welfare, housing, and most other issues relating to the lack of population control.

Did I believe in the devout ways of the religion I was converted to for vanity's sake at the age of 7, I'd be more old fashioned in my methods. No matter what pro-cloning advocates will push for, I'll stay steadfast in the old ways. It's okay for a baby to happen without implanting a hand-grown fetus of myself, even if the world will miss out on twice the greatness over a longer period of time. It's fine to run the risk of a child coming out with heart defects, blindness, and severe autism if it means that I can keep those damned scientists from thriving and killing religion.

...or, perhaps, it's just because religious nuts love sex. Ask the clergy.

I'm not saying cloning is a viable option, or a realistic one. I'm saying that something must be done to fix these problems. Two of myself would think much more abundantly than just one, I see no way that we couldn't solve our issues this way.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rain Delays, but substitute "rain" for "sleep."

I apologize for not posting last night, I came in and fell asleep relatively quickly. Today probably won't be too much better, though there's a chance I won't be completely wiped out from fatigue when I get in. If this is the case, then I'll post something special. If not, it will have to wait for tomorrow.

I have to be on a boat in an hour, which means I have to leave in less than a half hour. Usually these posts take me between fifteen minutes and an hour and a half, I will not have time to even rush out a half assed filler piece for the sake of upkeep.

Merry Un-Birthday and/or Happy Birthday to all.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Not about to see your light...

I used to sing in a few bands when I was younger. Nothing big or special, but it was fun. One was semi-serious, and at the same time more fun than the previous attempts. That was in high school, when I still had time to sing/practice/whatever. I haven't had time to sing seriously since, and my voice has changed since. It's not that I haven't been singing (I sing constantly at work, waiting for the bus, when playing Rock Band, most other places), but I haven't been singing with a band.

Yesterday I worked sound for Live Band Karaoke at my school, and eventually got to perform. It's been so long that I've lost stage presence, and my voice started to give after a short period of time. It made me realize how much I miss being in a band, and how much I need to practice if I'm going to keep that tone of voice.

I'm naturally on the line between baritone and tenor, but my range goes down to high bass when I need it to. I'm more naturally inclined to sing something like Stone Sour or Godsmack over many of the bands I force myself into (my favorites are Coheed & Cambria and Rise Against right now, alto and tenor respectively). I'm used to pushing into that range now, it's not a big deal.

I didn't do something within my normal comfort zone though, I went for something fun. I screamed like I used to, singing "Mother" from Glenn Danzig. It was great for the first verse, and most of the first chorus. Then my voice cracked when I pushed my break with higher screams than was natural. I kept it for the most part later in the song, but it wasn't the same.

This means I need to scream with my full throat more often, and also that I need to find time for a band. Probably after I'm finally finished with college. It will be just like old times, but new.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Consciousness: LIVE AND STREAMING!

I should've started typing this earlier, when things were still fresh in my mind and I was awake enough to form coherent sentences. Too late now, I suppose.

There wasn't too much that sparked writing today, or at least not much that really fits into what I'd write here. I could go on a fanboy tangent about the music to a certain game involving foliage and cadavers, and how it's more awesome than most other games and everything on the radio, but that would be a waste of a post.

Not that posts can really be wasted, as they're an infinitely renewable resource for me. I could type about anything and make it fit in here, technically. Doesn't mean it'd be good, or even worth the time it took to type it, but it's not really a waste of a post.

Ugh, heartburn. Do yourselves a favor and don't destroy your stomach/esophagus with caffeine and energy drinks, even if it's just a weekend binge. You will regret it for the rest of your life. Eventually it'll get to the point where drinking water to dilute it will only make it splash higher, and you're stuck with: Milk (yum), Tums/Rolaids/Calcium pills (not so yum, depending on flavor), or Prevacid (just as bad as the stomach acid). Learn these words well.

I hate one word responses in messages, just like I'd hate "k" in texts if my phone could do that sort of fancy thing. If I wanted to talk to a wall, I'd probably talk to a chain link fence instead. Better for the eyes, and much better at responding than "k" or "fine."

Freaks is a lame movie, or at least the parts I saw. It has a legendary sequence of lines, but really it doesn't seem like it it should be praised as much as it has. The same is true for There Will Be Blood (though honestly I like that more as time goes on) and Napoleon Dynamite (which I hate more as time goes on, when I didn't much like that ass clinging turd of a film to begin with).

Some people look better with hats, dresses, and button down shirts. Probably not all at once (or maybe, depending who you are), but in various situations. I was talking to a friend earlier who said she needed more dresses, specifically for a trip to Greece. Said person seems like a dress might actually fit her personality better, as she's light-hearted and airy. A coworker of mine looks almost like a different person without his hat, but that might be just feature recognition with an artificial feature. I like button down shirts, but not all the time.

This stream wasn't as interesting as it would've been if I started an hour earlier, or at least I don't think it is. I want to listen to something. Maybe read a bit.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ubercon (less brief)

Every year I go to Ubercon, I find something awesome and worth bringing home with me. This year I played more new games than ever previously, many brand new to me. So now I'm going to review these games. If you don't like this, and want me to go back to my usual tone of writing, then piss off for now and come back tomorrow. My full roster of games played now follows, with previously unplayed games marked:

Martian Fluxx*
Monty Python Fluxx*
Are You a Werewolf?
Disney Apples to Apples*
Plants vs Zombies*
Smash Bros. Brawl
Wii Bowling
The Tee-Shirt Game*
DJ Hero*
Rock Band: Beatles*
Three Dragon Ante*
We Didn't Playtest this Game at All*
We Didn't Playtest this Either*
Win Loose Banana*
Zuma's Revenge*

I'm fairly certain I'm forgetting others too, but this is most of what occupied my time at this convention. Besides the Fluxx's (which really shouldn't be explained without a deck of cards handy), most of these games were either new or revisions of games I've already played or own.

Therefore, I will not be discussing Tee-Shirt Game (Apples to Apples with pictures), Rock Band: Beatles, Zuma's Revenge, Brawl, Are You a Werewolf?, or Wii Bowling. If you're disappointed or don't know these games, I might write about them down the line. The Looney Labs games (Fluxx and Werewolf) will probably each receive commentary down the line eventually anyway. That said, this was Ubercon for me.

Apples to Apples is a fantastic word game that plays on senses of humor and reality, matching nouns with adjectives. That said, Disney Apples to Apples is an atrocious, steaming brown lump on the unspoiled lawn that was AtA's legacy. I know it's geared to a younger audience. The audience I had played it literally, which didn't seem in the spirit of the game. More importantly, the game itself seemed too much like a marketing gimmick, rather than a spin-off game that needed to be made (unlike RB:Beatles and Monty Python Fluxx, which are awesome for existing). Disney Apples to Apples sucked the humor out of the game and replaced it with Hannah Montana, who is the new Hitler card. I stayed for the whole game in hopes of improvement. I was disappointed.

Plants vs Zombies is a computer game made by one of Ubercon's sponsors, Popcap Games. They make lots of games that play like crack, and bring down GPA's and productivity in businesses. PvZ is no exception, loaded now on the main computer in the office I work through. It's a simple defense strategy game in which you protect your house from the zombie apocalypse with the help of your friend "Crazy Dave" using mutant plants. If you aren't immediately interested, you might be a Cylon. Since coming back from the convention, I've beaten this game 1.5 times, and am tearing through the two dozen minigames. I expect to be able to work again in a few weeks' time.

Revolution is a board game that plays like a gambling addiction. Rather than rolling dice to move pieces, you place bets and bids on various people around a city. If you win these people, you get more control over the city. When the revolution is over, the person with the most control wins. It took five minutes to learn, and it was worth the hour of game play. It probably isn't for everyone, but I enjoyed it.

DJ Hero is a game I should hate. I should loathe it with all my being, as it symbolizes a franchise that should have died when Rock Band came out and nailed it to a tree. DJ Hero is a game that shouldn't ever be considered playable or fun. I don't know why I love it so much. The controls are overly complicated, yet dramatically simplified from that of an actual turntable scratch setup. The mixes are pretty awesome, and I'd be a liar if I said there weren't a few I want on disk. The harder difficulties are actually VERY challenging, and work more senses than any other Hero simulation game so far. I shouldn't like it on principle, but I do. Fuck you, Activision.

Three Dragon Ante, like any other gambling card game, is reasonably simple and addictive in base. Since it's rooted in D&D, it's more complicated than it should be. It's enjoyable, and relatively cheap compared to most D&D paraphenalia, but it's really a matter of personal opinion as to if it's worth getting. Play it once for yourself. I don't think I'd buy it.

We Didn't Playtest [These Goddamn Games] are amazing for the stoner/internet/college demographic. They're nonsense, in the form of 100+ cards when meshed together. They make little to no sense, sometimes end within 20 seconds of dealing out the opening hand, and have a tendency to make people's heads hurt when they lose the ability to reference themselves, others, or the cards verbally. It's amazing for the amount of random [something] that's been packed into the game, but this makes it impossible to play competitively. There can be no strategy. There is only luck, Dragons, Ninjas, Secret Attack Kittens, and Voting. I don't know if I should love this game for how fun it is (probably) or despise it for how terribly designed it is (probably not).

It should be said that I did not spend the entire convention playing games, though that's obviously the focus of this particular event. Most of the other things were far less interesting, or already discussed earlier this week. That's not what anyone really cares about though when reading about a gaming convention. You don't care about the amazing, two foot high food. You don't care about the lovely hotel rooms with TV's nicer than mine. You don't care about the trip to Dairy Queen and Burger King (who get hitched and produce a sushi place somehow) on the last night of the event, though you'll probably read about that sometime this month. This weekend was about the games, and that's what I'm giving you.

So play them. Especially PvZ. That's fucking badass.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ubercon (in brief)

Ubercon was fucking fantastic. While I have never been to a bad Ubercon, this year somehow seemed to make all the others I've been to previously seem less fun. It wasn't that the games were better (many were the same as previous), or that the people were different (some were, but many weren't), or that I did better in the games I played (lost miserably in most of the ones I've never played, and didn't do as well as I normally do for the ones I have played). Ubercon is not really a convention, it's an annual bonding session that builds a community of people who love to play games.

I was able to play many games I've never experienced before (including my new crack, Plants Vs Zombies. I love you, Pop Cap Games), for free(*), and made several new friends. These things are more valuable to me than most people would realize, but that's for another post.

The other wonderful perk this year was the hotel. The Holiday Inn had Harold's New York Deli attached, which is renowned for portions bigger than a child's body at prices that are very fair when considering the amount of food you get. One day my party decided to order pancakes. Three manhole-cover sized pancakes show up five minutes later. We end up calling in some friends (bringing the group to six) to finish off two of the three. The third was brought home and to the office I work in to share with my coworkers. It was the coolest thing ever.

This is your brief. Part 2 comes tomorrow.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why I Hate the MTA (Part 2)

I'm waiting at an S44 bus stop, one of my usual stops. All commuters have a handful of stops they spend more time waiting at than they do on the bus they're waiting for. A well built man in an MTA coat comes to the stop, looks at the schedule, and groans. We talk for the duration of our wait.

Apparently this man works for a main dispatch in Queens or Bronx, despite living on Staten Island. He used to work locally, but the money moved and he was willing to tack on a few hours in travel time. He tells me that the bus run we were waiting for was probably removed in secrecy, as the MTA has been looking for ways to cut corners. Any schedule run that does not have a minimum average capacity is slowly being phased out, despite the schedule's statements otherwise.

This is distressing to me. It means that certain hours immediately after the morning rush and late at night will have little to no service, unless there's an exception to this for late night buses by way of compassion. Two months from now I will understand that compassion is absent from this corporation.

After 40 minutes of waiting, we finally get on the bus and go our own ways. Our communal misery binds us in the time it's there, building a community around our hate for the very company that we each have our own individual stakes in. While mine was only to get to work (now nearly an hour late) and the $20 I put down on the MetroCard that sits in my pocket like a lead weight, his was actually his livelyhood. Much in the same way that one does not become an IRS agent because they love money or the government or chasing after people, he's in it because he has no choice.

In the most simple way possible, the MTA of New York is monopolizing my city. It isn't just about transit anymore, it's about time. I can't walk to work in the hour it sometimes takes to wait for a bus, but that hour of my pay is still gone none the less. It eats and eats but is never full, and becomes a bloated mess of fat and waste. It becomes something that no one ever wants to get involved with, but they have no choice.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


In the late 90's and early 00's, the Goo Goo Dolls were on top of the world. They had one album that successively scored number one singles for a full four years. Dizzy Up the Girl is a fantastic album, and it earned them their spot. Normally this would lead to an album's constant play killing the band, and turning their albums into Frisbees. Not the case with these guys. Thanks for not fucking your own music up for me. Windows Media Player seems stuck on them, but that's fine with me tonight.

Today I was at a wedding and I realized that architecture is more important than what a location houses. Churches that feel narrow but overwhelming play more heavily on Christian guilt (specifically Catholicism, but it's all over the place, really). This is not how to lead sheep, shepards. You want them to feel welcome and invited.

This church was actually much more modern, and very open. It was structured like an ampitheater with a single level. The altar was centered with space behind, making the audience feel like they were equals with the altar. This is a nice change from the jumbo-claustraphobia rooms.

My feelings on religion are difficult to put into words, and I'm too tired to really place them to print and do any justice. Last night's post was somewhat halfassed and unedited, I don't want to do that two nights in a row.

Instead, I'm enjoying "Sympathy," wishing it was written in a tuning I'm likely to leave a guitar in.

Tomorrow night you get one of the following: Ubercon, MTA #2(now with logic!), or a requested post from months ago. The last one will be fun, but time consuming to write. We'll find out tomorrow I suppose, won't we?

Oh, "Acoustic #3" is on. Good night.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why I Hate the MTA (Part 1)

New York has a wonderful mass transit system, one that ranks above most other cities (besides London and San Francisco, I'm told). We have an intricate network of subways that link the city together, a web of buses that grid the pavement, and boats. Boats are awesome, as we're an island-city. If we were more fancy and pompous, we'd be an archipelago like Hawaii and Japan.

That said, I can't stand the Metro Transit Authority of New York. The MTA is notorious for disrupting schedules, moving off the designated times, and placing buses at terrible intervals after dark. This is mostly a problem for Staten Island, as we get the short ends of all sticks, as we rely solely on buses.

"Oh, but Andrew, you're wrong. There's a train too."

That train is worth half a steaming pile of animal droppings. It does not travel along any vital locations of this island, only caters to residents on the Eastern coast, and has a schedule worth all the ducks in the Sarah desert. It only qualifies enough to be thought of because it's mostly free if you avoid the last stop (a residential township) and the first stop (the only direct way into Manhattan). This train is less useful than a mucus encrusted Kleenex.

The buses, on the other hand, are a whole other beast. It's important to note that I have semi-environmentalist tendencies. One such trait is that I will use mass transit in almost every situation when possible. This becomes impossible after 10 PM, as many buses will run hourly at this time or have no night hours at all. One such bus is the S62, which runs along Victory Blvd.

Last night a cluster of my friends and I went to a restaurant/diner (same one referenced in the Yankee's Suckfest) and finished up after midnight. This normally isn't an issue, but no one in this particular group drove. The bus I would've used to get home stopped running fifteen minutes prior, and the only bus in the area still in operation was the aforementioned S62. This bus had only passed three minutes prior, and the next scheduled run was in 57 minutes. One goddamn hour.

We collectively decided that it would be better to walk the length of Victory Blvd. rather than wait for the bus in the cold. For any readers not from this area of NYC, this is a very long street with many hills. Normally they don't seem so bad, but normally one is in a motorized vehicle. The six of us marched on, passing something like two hours' worth of scenery. As we neared our destination, the bus finally passed. One friend commented about it's worth, and I pointed out that we would have paid $2.25 after waiting an hour to save five minutes. The sense of triumph thickened for me.

At this point, I'm still recovering from the night. It's not that I'm unable to walk two miles in the cold, it's that I haven't in a long time. Had I expected it, or had it been earlier in the day, I would've been fine. When you're working on the fumes of zombiehood, however, two miles feels closer to five.

Maybe I'm bitter because this happened to me. Maybe I'm an instigator because the MTA deserves to get ripped into until they provide better service at a lower price (as they did five years ago). Maybe I'm just sad that something that should be so influential could turn out to be such a menace to the people that keep it alive. I'm too tired to make sense. I'm going to fucking bed. I'll post more of this when I'm conscious.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Avoiding Absence

This weekend (and the week so far) have been rather hectic, and I have not had time to post to this page. I apologize for the first of likely many times. In substitute, I offer something I wrote recently for class. It was written in about a half hour, so I'll pretend that half hour was devoted to this page. Enjoy. Entitled "Staten Island."


Staten Island is the quilt warming the legs of New York City, made up of unique patches that grow more uniform the lower you look. On the top you find the grays and browns of midtown Manhattan and Harlem, mixing with the greens of forestry and the racial rainbow of the rest of the world. The yellow of the Ferry serves as the final extension to keep it hanging on to Manhattan’s lap.

As your eyes move down the quilt you find more green, less brown, and slowly realize the colors have less variance.

At the center there’s a gray patch, of both industry and blight. This patch was spray painted green, but the gray will never disappear in your lifetime. The superficial attempt at beauty is shunted into obscurity by the overwhelming cancer in the air, a last remnant of the Old New York.

At the bottom the colors are bleached and muted, as the color of free thought and action is drowned out by the immigrants that fled Brooklyn via the Guinea Gangplank for fear of change in demography and the failure to adapt. These patches should be snipped off, but were tacked on too near completion. Now the oranges and eggshell whites of blown out, taped up Guidos and silicone breasted bottle blondes with botched botox are weathering the whole quilt, like the effects of prolonged exposure to the sun, except the sun isn’t shining here.

Staten Island, contrary to popular belief, is not forgotten. It’s widely ignored. This is why.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why I hate the Yankees.

I hate sport fans that don't realize that they themselves are not on the team. "WE" didn't win. The Yankees did. A sizable chunk of them don't care about New York. They care about their paychecks. Get over it.

To be fair, it's not fans of all sports, or even all fans of baseball. The truth is that I just really hate Yankee fans. I hate that so many of them are ready to fight tooth and nail to defend the honor of a group of grown men who get paid millions of dollars to play a game. I don't care what city they represent, the representations are not accurate. If they were, the mid-west would do much better, and Japan would be a force of nature.

No, I hate Yankee fans because they're angry about the game they "love." They're mean spirited and violent. I was at a diner when they won the World Series almost an hour ago. Two M80's went off in the parking lot because some drunken asshole got too trigger happy over the team that probably represents his small penis' victory. The folks I was with were terrified, we felt the rumble through the wall and the flash shone through the window. Do explosions represent all that's great about a man hitting a ball with a fancy stick?

These are the same people that whenever they hear the name "Mets" go into an epileptic fit and magically get turret's' syndrome, explaining how the Metropolitans each suck off the biggest black men they can find before each game, so they don't feel insulted when the whole world tells them they suck dick. These are the same people who cannot communicate outside of baseball, even with their loved ones. This builds to the point where baseball metaphors and visits to the home games are all that a relationship is built on. Then they have the audacity to wonder why she cheated.

Fuck the Yankees. I like that something nice happened for New York, I love this city... but The Yankees? What good have they done? Have they housed the homeless? Have they ended the gang wars? Have they defended the country from whatever peril we put ourselves into at any given time?

No. They got paid many times more than the average college degree costs for one season of hitting a fucking ball with a fucking stick.

Fuck 'em, fuck the fans, and fuck whoever thought it'd be a good idea to give these assholes a parade. Do I see parades when my friends come home from Iraq? No. Who's earned it more? Easy answer, if you're not so blinded by the pinstripes. I can't wait to see every front runner and poseur who ran to Model's at midnight to stock up on the goddamn logo at that piece of shit parade, every liar who claimed to follow along the whole time. I'll be the first to admit that I don't give a shit about televised team games, and I'm not running out to get a Yankees hat just because they won a few ball games.

If the fucking Yankees represented New York, we'd all get paid a million dollars to work for five hours a day for 8 months a year. They're nothing.

Congratulations to the fans, congratulations to the team, and congratulations to my beautiful city. Now fuck off.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ubercon prep filler.

Ubercon is this weekend. If you're in the New York/New Jersey area, you should go. It's amazing. From previous years it can be summed up as 48 straight hours of gaming (all sorts.) There's other stuff too (Harold's Deli, anime screenings, Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog as a singalong, etc.) but the gaming is really what matters.

I'm a geek, and I love it. I know of no other place where I can wake up at 3AM and play a "quick" game of Risk (3ish hours) and jump to Rock Band before my friends wake up. I'm not likely to see most of these games anywhere else, nevermind finding other people that play them. It's fantastic, and you should go. Look at their website (, register, and have fun. Do it.

That said, I should be packing for the weekend. Instead I'm typing to you. I demand you feel the love that pours from these keys. Tonight's not a productive night, even though I got in early from campus. I wasted time watching V (a full hour of my life gone for something that seems too compressed and rushed to be worth following seriously), and my continuing saga of trying to beat StarCraft's single player campaign ate another hour or two (if you play, Protoss 7 without expansion).

This is going to be a shorty tonight. One of the long-planned ones is coming up before the convention. Hopefully no more filler.

Prof. Lifeless

So my posting schedule got a little funky. I was aiming for one a day, but that fell through. Oops. I'll have something substantial tomorrow evening, when I hadn't been occupied all day.

Earlier I had an overhanging cloud of annoyance. When the people I pay money to (indirectly, by the time the school's had it's way with my bank account) don't take a course seriously, how can I be expected to return the favor? The one in question is brand new, and teaches a generic lab course. Normally I'd care minimally about someone's teaching style, everyone's got a unique thing that's all their own. This guy doesn't seem to have one at all.

He'll sit at the front of the class in a ball cap advertising another college he teaches at, half hungover and hardly interested. He'll scribble some equations on the board, put out a sign-in sheet, and look lifeless for the duration of the period. This seems like a fantastic idea to most, but if I'm paying for this class I'd like it to be worth the hundreds of dollars I'm being robbed of.

This said, the professor is a friendly enough man, who seems to care enough about the students to pull them to the side when they've missed many labs (though this might only make his job easier, should they drop the course), and I'm not an ideal student in this class. I show to this class late and leave early, knowing that I can get the work done just as easily at home as I could sitting on a lab stool at a counter disproportionate to the chair. The apparatuses are seldom used, and the measurements can be taken in ten minutes' time. I don't waste his time, and he doesn't waste mine. We have a silent understanding, as long as my name is signed in my handwriting.

I don't remember this guy's name (not that I'd post it anyway, as this might constitute slander/liable, even if it's true), but that might be the best way around this. He will not leave a lasting impression in my mind down the line. He will not have a name there. He will go to the special place in my heart where I keep the undesirables and un-notables of my memory. Limbo for the mental imprints, I suppose: a place to go when you barely exist, in a place where nothing really exists.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


To whoever reads this, Happy Halloween. As it falls on a Saturday this year, I'm sure that the NYPD are having just as much fun as the kids.

I like Halloween, which is more than I can say for most holidays that revolve around candy. I've always liked it, it gave me a chance to be someone else for a while. Someone more fun, someone fantastic. It gave me a way out of my monotony. I'm a geek, and always have been, so the costumes I remember best are Beetlejuice, a random Star Trek officer, and Hagrid (as an adult). Each is so far removed from myself for that one day that I couldn't be more pleased to be them for a time. This year I chaperoned one of my brothers in his candy hunting, and my costume was: myself, with a shovel.

I told the people that asked that I was a gravedigger, as this gives me an excuse to carry one with me. The practicality of it allows me to protect my brother should anyone want to start trouble, as well as not really need to change at all. Yesterday, I was a pirate. The only real difference is an eye patch.

I don't want to be removed from myself anymore, over however long it's taken, I've come to like who I am enough not to want to be someone else, even for a day. I wanted a costume that was similar to myself, but none seem to really exist. So, I got around this problem.

Really, the holiday's only alive these days to sustain candy and costume companies (I'm sure they supply many jobs. There's an idea - make up a new bullshit holiday with a lot of stuff involved, have new jobs to make all that stuff. Economy's saved!), but it goes much deeper than that when it comes to feeding a child's imagination [good thing] and the level of apathetic escapism in adults [bad thing].

There's a reason why so many women show up to Halloween parties looking like they crawled out of a bad porno film. There's a reason why so many men model themselves after the punchlines to jokes they told when they were twelve. Attention through being someone else for the day. Don't find yourself attractive in some way? Today's the day you can turn all that around (for a day)! Wear that foam suit that makes you into a "fart detector," wear that cleavage-inducing corset that you wouldn't even see in a Renaissance Faire. Women love guys that are funny, guys love women with big tits. Instant appeal!

Fuck you. You're ruining the spirit of the day. You're nearly as bad as the people that slip razor blades into Carmel apples and give me reason to chaperon with a shovel.

This isn't to say that all costumes are out of spirit, or even to say that all of the costumes that might fall occasionally into the category above are bad. It's the intention that matters. Not to hurt any one's already fragile self esteem, but seriously. Instead of pretending to be something you're not, why not become something you'd rather be?

We all pick our costumes because there's a trait somewhere that we identify with, and many more that we wish we had. You like that the hero in some story is brave and rugged, and they have the same snarky sense of humor you do. Why not try things you're afraid of? Why not work on overcoming your own apprehension?

Happy Halloween kids. Check your candy before you eat it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Apathy Posting #1

Tonight I'm feeling uninspired. This is nothing new. I'm known by many to have alternating bouts of apathy and productivity. Tonight's not going to be a terribly fruitful night.

I just erased five paragraphs worth of rant about holidays to type this line. They weren't very good, redundant and uninteresting. I commented that I hate most holidays, except Halloween, New Year's Eve, and Thanksgiving. The others can lick an ox's scrotum, generally. The reasoning was long winded, and didn't much matter.

Sometime soon, I'll write one of the blogs I promised months ago. There were three topics I've slapped out in conversation in the past that must eventually be written about, and one's coming up soon. Probably Monday, when the weekend's let me un-think my mind out of the corner it's squarely settled into right now.

Now, despite the lack of drive and content, I'm no longer a hypocrate (in this instance). I tell others to work through the sloth, and whatever comes simply is. Tonight, this just is. Something good's coming to make up for it. I promise this to myself.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Playing Dead in Oncoming Traffic

Today on the way to a shuttle bus my college offers to a main hub for the area, my friends and I found a possum running along the campus center's walls. We decided to follow it with a flash light, wondering where it was going to go. After a relatively short moment it halted and we could clearly make out it's unseasonably large torso. It was probably pregnant, otherwise it wouldn't've been as likely to run like it did afterward. Our intent was never to hurt it, only to study. The observation as it ran away after staying still in a flashlight beam was more than enough to consider the study successful.

This pregnant possum probably went to a hole somewhere, likely the back of the campus center, and told its family all about the evening. It probably discussed the way it was stalked, and how it valiantly fought off the horrible ape-beasts. It would've brought the bodies back as evidence, but several others came out to pull the corpse away to prevent vultures from stealing the remains. It was a hell of a fight though, that much can be said.

We all exaggerate the stories in our everyday life in conversation, it's too easy not to. With spoken words, they don't linger on the page for readers to break apart. With spoken words, they're gone in an instant after conception. Exaggeration allows them to linger longer in the air, and hopefully imprint the desired effect on the mind of your listener. That effect is always in your favor. You wouldn't describe your misstep during a "DONT WALK" sign as your negligence nearly getting you hit by a car. You'd say that some crazy asshole nearly plowed you down, and you had to jump out of the way.

Whenever it can be helped, I personally feel that this kind of blatant horse shit should be avoided at all costs. I could've said the possum attacked us, or that it looked rabid, or any number of other plausable lies. I elected not to, because I have a conscience.

Tonight I lack the inspiration to write. I probably terrified a mother-to-be nearly into labor, I don't feel I've earned the voice tonight.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day Two

So far there is a distinct absence of failure. I'm posting again, and it's still recent and relevant to the previous one. Suck it, apathy.

I'm a geek, and I'm quite proud of it. I know this because I fawn over the technical aspects of upcoming video games while I try to compose a list of influential graphic novelists to pretend is definitive. Said list is far from complete, and right now mostly consists of Frank Miller, Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Jeff Smith. These folks are proper reflections of my reading tastes, and I suppose my tastes in most other media. I could write several paragraphs about each author's unique style and how it relates to the human condition (therefore to myself), but at present I don't really see the need. Any following I'm likely to develop will probably either know who these people are, have the sense to look them up, or stopped caring once they realized that "graphic novelist" doesn't mean "people that write sex and violence and cannibalism," (even if these are all evident in Frank Miller's work. I think the more important trend to get from this list is the overarching genres each tends to fall into.

These five authors are all heroes of mine, and each represents something different about the way I see life. Jeff Smith has the ability to present complicated concepts in a way that anyone can understand and sympathize with, without getting tedious and preachy. Neil Gaiman presents the unusual in natural ways, allowing the audience to cope with the adversity in a more civilized manner. Alan Moore encourages the readers to pierce the conventions of normalcy that skew true vision, even/especially when said conventions are so huge that we miss them in everyday life. Grant Morrison asks questions that no one ever wishes to ask, and provides insight into the queries that all have but few ever ask in sanity. Frank Miller shows the gritty, animalistic side of all humans, especially those who are so "civilized" that their humanity rides solely on the perceptions of all other humans around them.

I generally didn't have comic books as a child, I discovered each of these authors within the last half decade or so, some as recently as this past month. This isn't nostalgia talking, it's practical research and pragmatic logic. If it were nostalgia, you wouldn't know what the hell I was typing about when I reference Zen: The Intergalactic Ninja. Comics aren't for kids, but when they get them, kids pretend they are.

I should start writing a graphic novel soon. Fundamentally, this is very different from a comic. Comics, as inherent in the title, are supposed to have punchlines. I want to write something deeper than a few throw away jokes on some throw away characters. I don't want it to be "Two guys walk into a bar... PUNCHLINE!" (This one works better in person, accompanied by a jab to the nose.) I want it to be "To guys walk into a bar in Israel... five minutes later, it ceases to exist." No nonsense, only the gravity of a situation and just enough quips to make it digestible to the reader.

There is just enough nonsense in the five heroes above's work to make the intense nature of the stories told bearable to the average person. Monsters craving quiche give way to discourse over materialism and fear mongering. The happy appearance of the campy villain from the 60's provides cover for the unraveling of all of space-time through God's boredom. The humor provides a lift so the readers can stay on point for the trauma yet to ensue.

I've got to try it. There's no drawback, there is only progress. And quiche.

Let's try this again.

Over the past few years I've attempted a blog 9 times that I can remember, each failing from eventual lack of activity. I can't say with certainty that this attempt will go anywhere, this may well be my only post. I hope it isn't, but I'm fully prepared for this go to fail too.

My name is Andrew, and I'm a writer. I specifically write creative nonfiction (don't let the sirens in your head go off - if I were to pepper my work with lies before I'm even known, how would that save my career?), though I've been known to dabble in short plays, poetry, and occasionally terrible fiction. I'm finishing a BA in creative writing at an underrated school in the CUNY system. There's a good many people who would disagree about this, but this good many is mostly composed of folks who would've done the world a better service through being thrown down a flight of stairs at a young age.

I don't want to overwhelm you with information in the very first entry, especially as most introductions to these things I've written have been unrelated to my attempts after at a meaningful literary foray. My tone can't ever be anything but casual online in my own journal. I can speak and write in whatever tone I choose... except when I'm actually trying to say something. Then the naturally fitting speech emerges, and I can't restrain it.

That said, in the event that this is my only post on this blog ever, I'd like to thank you for reading it so far. I'm sure it's as interesting to you as wood chips to an armadillo, and you have my undying gratitude for keeping up this far. If you stopped reading when I made that crack about throwing children down flights of stairs, then I suppose it doesn't matter what I say about you at this point. Bastards.

I used to end these things with a snippy little send off, like I was some sort of news figure with an awesome following. "Love, luck, and leverage." Sure, they're all useful, but each will only get you so far. Love has earned it's place in many people's [insert location here], and most folks these days are looking to get lucky in some way or another. Leverage is a little more tricky. It could be a wish for you to get the upper hand in the questionable situations you may encounter in life, say several of my old readers (in this case, friends who used to follow what I wrote because I would ask their opinions after. It quickly became a love/hate relationship with many.) Others have insinuated that it's in a political context, though this seems far fetched. If I cared about politics, I would've tried to join The Onion. In reality, it was just a wish for traction on snowy days. Look how that one took off.

Treads on boots, lady luck, and that "four letter word," - all useful, to a point. When the weather improves, all the leverage in the world will only make you seem like an overbearing ogre. Lady luck, in experience to date, is a two timing whore that will jump ship as soon as you decide to try to embrace her. Love turns out to be the only thing of the three that doesn't even really exist in itself, but only in others and in conjunction with yourself. Even then, if you're a nihilist or a politician, it doesn't exist at all. They're all limited in scope.

This revelation leaves me dead in a raft for how to end posts like this, or even if they should ever end. You're still here, so that's got to count for something. Should it ever end?

I don't think I should ever end th