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.