Sunday, November 30, 2003

"Stupid Headphones"

My damn headphones died today, and man I'm pissed.

I mean, these things aren't that old. Maybe a year, tops. They should still work just fine. But no--the right ear doesn't work anymore. No sound. Now I'm gonna have to go out and buy new freakin' headphones.

All this so I can walk to and from work and sit at work with music. Lord, I'm pathetic.

And now I'm catching shit from a wrestler, a man who has trouble spelling his own name (he has trouble spelling most anything, for that matte,r but that's hardly the point). Why? Because running five miles was difficult for me. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not the most athletic person in the world. Hell, I'm not the most athletic person in my family. But I'm really not about to take shit from a freshman, especially one who's getting everything virtually handed to him.

I'd say something snide to him, but he wouldn't understand any of it.

Anyway, so now I'm in a rather annoyed mood, and there's nothing I can really do about it (short of beating the holy hell out of the freshman, which I can't do--not because I'll get fired, but because he could probably kick my ass). Blarg.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: None, because my damn headphones are broken.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

"Lazy Days"

Today was a day to do nothing, and that's exactly what I did--nothing. I didn't achieve anything of any merit or value, except beating an area in Golden Sun (a nifty GameBoy Advance game I picked up the other day, and have been enjoying immensely--I'm getting my RPG on, 'kay?). Funny thing is, this would normally annoy me on some base level, but today, it doesn't. I'm not sure why, I'm just not really worried. Guess I needed a day off or something.

Anyway, there really isn't much to talk about. Tomorrow, I have to return to the proverbial grind, get back to work and all that. Blah. I've enjoyed the extended break (Wednesday through today is pretty nice, after all), but it'll be nice to have something to do and to see people (the only day I've seen people since this break started was Thursday, and they were mostly family).

On an unrelated note, my father and I decided to run in a 5K race they're having up at Lake Hefner (where we ran the 8K on Thanksgiving) next weekend. Five kilometers--a little over three miles--I can handle, because that's what I run every day. And after putting my body through the hell of running about 5 miles, 3 will seem like a walk in the, jog, I mean. Whatever.

I'm gonna go play more Golden Sun.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Barenaked Ladies, "Shoe Box"

Friday, November 28, 2003

"Putting Flesh On The Bones Of My Dreams"

Historians, as a general rule, are ill-equipped to deal with the present. Dreams, as another general rule, are equally ill-equipped to deal with the present; and with reality, for that matter. The former thinks mostly about the past; the latter, about the future and the what could be. I'm a historian and a dream, therefore, I'm uniquely designed to think about everything except for this moment right now.

Which is rather amusing, really, considering I usually advocate a philosophy of "live for the moment." It's one that I try to follow, but I also constantly think about what was and what could be. I'm a study in contradictions, I guess.

The way I think about the past is probably not unique. I have a certain amount of nostalgia for that which went before. I'm more enamoured of the music that was made before I was born than I am of the crap they've got on the radio today. I'm fascinated by the way politics and religion and philosophy worked in the distant past, back when what one believed was more important than money. I also think of the past in more personal terms, recalling the joys and sorrows I've shared with those I love over the years. I long for those moments from the past, to relive particular days, or hours, or even minutes of such pure bliss that the rest of the world ceased to exist as far as I was concerned. I remember first kisses, telling someone I loved them for the first time, the laughter of a friend as I changed their bad day into a good one. I remember the tears I shared with friends over loss, heartache, suffering, and just the random stupidity of life and an uncaring, random world. Yes, my musings on the past are rather wistful, and just a touch bittersweet. Sweet because so many of my memories are good ones, and so much of the more general history I've studied academically is interesting and fascinating to me. Bitter because I know the personal memories are just memories, and I cannot relive them again, even if I am with those people once more. No, time marches on, of course, and nothing I can do--especially wishing--will change that. Also bitter to think that so many of the stupid mistakes our ancestors made are repeated on a daily basis, because we didn't study what came before us and thus cannot understand that these conflicts we keep fighting are not going to be resolved with a show of force and a taste of steel.

The way I think about the future is maybe a bit odder, though even it is probably not unique to me. I am, as I said, a dream. I dream of what could be, of what will never be, of things real and imagined. I dream of the day when I become a professor in history, or even of the day an acceptance letter comes from one of the schools I applied to arrives in the mail. I dream of finding the right girl, of discovering we are right for each other, marrying, and living the cliched "happily ever after" that can only exist in a dream but never in reality, because everyone has to face a bumpy road. And I dream that maybe I've already met her, that we're just waiting for that right moment in time to realize that we're meant for each other. It's hard to say.

Funny thing is, I have a tough time acting in the present to enable me to realize my future, my dreams. I keep thinking it'd be nice to be accepted to a great school for my PhD, but I've been putting off filling out applications. I only finished off everything for another of them this afternoon, and it only took ten minutes to fill out the form, and a quick trip to the Post Office to send everything off.

So why am I so hesitant, so lazy? It's not as though I was filling the rest of my time with excitement or important tasks that could only be done at that very moment. Why can't I connect the past, the present, and the future altogether into one tread of chronology, and recognize that things which were done then have an effect on now, and things done now have an effect later? Why are the three moments disconnected in my mind?

The past is easy enough to understand. They say it's like a foreign country, a distant land which no one can visit. Makes sense. But why do I have such a difficult time accepting the fact that the things I want to do later require activity now? I think it's because I'm a terrible planner, and I also expect things to just happen for me. Life doesn't work like that, though. It's really a good example of just how naive and sheltered I've been, though. I realize on an intellectual level that I have to do things now to enjoy the benefits later, but a small part of me (a part which has a disproportionate control over my decision making to its size) keeps thinking everything will be literally handed to me. That someone will see my comics, and suddenly I'll be famous and loved by many, that all sorts of folks will want to read them and give me money to keep making them. Or that someone will hear Clif and I's music and give us a record contract, and we'll become the next Beatles. Or I'll write some short story that gets me a big publishing deal and I'll be able to be a professional writer.

Not to discount those dreams: it'd be great to be a cartoonist, or writer, or rock star. I would love any of them, and I do keep all three up with some sort of far-fetched hope that someday it'll pay off in more than just an artistic expression of ideas running around in my head, that someone else will appreciate them like I do and feel I deserve some sort of monetary compensation for all my hard work (yes, I want to sell out--but hey, saying you're doing it for the sake of the song is great, and I fully agree with it, but would you rather make music no one ever hears, or make music loved by millions and which makes you lots and lots of money, assuming it doesn't force you to abandon your artistic principles? C'mon, I'm not a punk, I don't believe I lose credibility just because I make art that people like).

I think what it boils down to is that I do want things given to me, I don't want to have to work hard for them. This is a huge personal defect, a gaping hole in an otherwise not too bad personality (wow, I think that still came out conceited). I can work hard, I just don't like to without the certainty of success at the end. I don't want to have to fill out applications to graduate schools without the assurance that I'll not only be accepted to the school, but I'll get a scholarship and I'll be able to get gainful employment upon graduation.

Perhaps another example is in order--exercise. I hate to exercise, because I don't get immediate results. It takes a long time for any visible result to manifest itself. I mean, I run and run, and don't lose weight very quickly, if at all (though that's in part due to my eating habits, but that's another story). I know there are many long-term benefits to exercising, I just don't see any immediate ones. I hurt, I sweat, and I'm not noticeably thinner at the end of the workout. So what's the bloody point? It's why I lose interest in things like that (or like playing the guitar, which I've tried several times) so quickly--nothing tangible comes of it immediately, so why bother?

As I said, this is a pretty big problem, and one I struggle with every moment of every day in some form or another. It could be that part of my problem is that I'm the product of a society which places such emphasis and importance on instant gratification, on the fulfillment of base desires right now. But that's just a cop out, really. If I'm truly interested in something, I should put forth the damn effort to achieve it, whether my effort is immediately rewarded or not. I have to be in this for the long haul, I have to make this moment mean something not only for now, but for later.

I have to try, because dammit, what's the point in living for the moment if my moments on down the road are going to be empty, painful, and without purpose?

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: David Gray, "Flesh"
"Going The Distance"

Well, the Thanksgiving run was a success. I completed the run, and in under an hour as I'd hoped. I think my time was just over 54 minutes, which isn't too bad. It would have been better, except my shoe kept coming untied. Every time I had to stop to tie my shoes, my legs would go dead, and I'd have to walk a bit. I could have finished in under 50 if I hadn't had to keep doing that. Ah well--at least I finished. Five miles is the fartherest I've ever run, even if it was sort of in fits and starts.

The rest of Thanksgiving was pretty darn spiffy, too. Beth came over to my folks' place for dinner, and my grandfather managed not to tell any embarrassing childhood stories. And the food...Lord, the food was great. As predicted, I completely canceled out the five mile run. Oh well--I'm allowed to indulge occasionally (the problem being, of course, I tend to indulge regardless and much too often, but that's a different story, really).

I've spent a good part of the evening feeling meloncholy, but I think I know why. I was watching a Paul McCartney Live DVD, and it occurred to me that I'll never get the chance to hear the Beatles live. It saddens me to think that this great music--arguably some of the best ever, regardless of your musical taste--is not something I can experience first hand for the most part. Oh, I can listen to the CDs, and I can go to the Tribute--1964 concerts, and there's even a good chance that I'll score McCartney tickets the next time he's anywhere near me (I'll even kill for them, if need be--I will not be denied a second time). just won't be the same. Though I obviously never knew them personally, the absence of Lennon and Harrison leaves a big hole in my life, it feels like.

That probably sounds a bit hokey, and the next statement will sound even moreso: the music these men created connected to me on a deeply personal level that I cannot even begin to describe. It's as though the Beatles tapped into a deep reservoir of the human spirit and conveyed it to the masses via sound. Equisite, emotive, melodic sound capable of making you experience the whole gamut of human emotions and feelings from happiness, euphoria, and pure joy to saddness so deep and infinite and gut-wrenching that you can't even begin to understand how someone who's experienced the pain they're describing could go on living.

This all sounds rather like hyperbole, I'm sure, but come on--how many people out there honestly don't know the chorus to "Hey Jude," or the tune of "Yesterday?" In fact, I'd be willing to say that "Yesterday" is arguably the finest song ever written, regardless of genre, tastes, or styles. It is a simple, evocative melody that clearly conveys loss, despair, and longing on such a personal level that you can't help but feel for the narrator. And McCartney's vocals are absolutely perfect--just the right pitch and tone to express the sentiment without sounding too whiney, or too tough, or too anything. It just fits. And the whole thing started out as a tune that had the words "scrambled eggs" as a placeholder for the title and lyrics. Pretty crazy, huh?

But yeah, I'm really rather sad that I'll never get to see the Beatles play live. Admittedly, few people did get to, as they only played live shows for such a brief period of time. But even so...that doesn't make it any easier to bear; rather, it seems to make everything more tragic.

The other thing watching the McCartney DVD made me realize is that he is a tunesmith, but not much of a lyricist.

Don't get me wrong--McCartney turned out some very memorable songs with some great lyrics. The aforementioned "Yesterday" comes to mind; and he can crank out a love song that sounds better than anyone else out there, let me tell you. The man has an uncanny knack for writing infectiously catchy pop songs, but his lyrics seem to be an afterthought, tacked on at the end when he realizes, "oh, I need more than just a pretty tune." I'm usually lean more on lyrics than on tune when I listen to music, though I can forgive a slight deficiency in one or the other if its opposite happens to be very strong (for example, I can forgive weaker lyrics if the tune is really, really good, or I can forgive a so-so song if the lyrics are amazing. How else do you explain my love of Dylan?). It all just makes me wish I could write McCartney's lyrics for him. Between the two of us, there would be nothing we couldn't do. I mean, he can still write songs that are amazing, he just seems to have run the well dry when it comes to lyrics. If I wrote his lyrics for him, he'd be gold. Not to mention the fact that he can sing them better than I ever could.

So yeah, if anyone out there happens to be buddy-buddy with Sir Paul McCartney, tell him I'd be more than happy to be his lyricist, and I would work cheap (hell, for the opportunity to join him on tour and to just be around him, I'm pretty certain I'd work for free, or even pay him).

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: The Beatles, "Yesterday"

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

"Films About Ghosts"

So it's been a long day, I do believe. Got up at 4:00 this morning to take my friend Dominic to the airport. Then I went back to bed, because hey, I may be a nice guy, but I'm also a sleepy guy, and when my youngest sibling calls at 1:30am, right as I'm falling asleep, and causes me to only get like two hours of sleep total, I'm damn well gonna go back to bed and catch up.

Beyond that, the day was spent doing research and running errands. Tomorrow will be spent running (morning) and eating more turkey than is really recommended for continued health. And mashed potatoes and gravy. And stuffing. And bread, of whatever variety (mom will fix rolls, and Beth said she was gonna bring some cheese bread because she felt back about not contributing. Who am I to stop her?). And let us also not forget the wonder of pie. Mmm, pie.

Yes, it's a good thing I'm running five miles tomorrow morning. As it stands, I'll probably have to run five more after dinner just to cut my loses and come out even on the day. So it goes. Only in America could we invent an entire holiday designed to enshrine gluttony and the oppression of ethnic minorities through privatization of land and lots of diseases. Huzzah for the measles and cholera.

Despite the slightly cynical nature of the preceeding paragraph, I do rather enjoy Thanksgiving. I'm not sure I could even begin to ennumerate all the things I'm thankful for. I guess, in no particular order, the big ones would be: I'm thankful for my friends and family (that one is #1, regardless); having a roof over my head and food to eat; not having to worry about whether or not I'll starve tomorrow; living in a country where, though I disagree vehemently with some of the government's policies and dislike our leader immensely, I have a right and a freedom to do so; I'm thankful for my talents and skills, meager though they be, and for the joy I think they bring to others' lives; and I'm thankful for the joy others bring to my life on a daily basis. I'm also thankful for good music, anime, and movies. And the Dhali Llama, because he rocks.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Counting Crows, "Friend of the Devil"

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

"But I Can Rock As Good As Gibraltar"

Paper writing is an interesting process for me. On the one hand, I need to be able to sit and do it for prolonged periods of time. That's how I write best--in large, open blocks. On the other hand, I'm easily distracted, and I get bored with just writing real fast. But I can't write if I'm busy doing other stuff.

For instance, yesterday was a terrible day for my writing. I sat down here at work to start writing my paper, and got about a paragraph or two into it. I was just starting to feel the ol' writing flow, when a student comes in with a paper for me to look at. So I look at the paper, and return to my own. Well, I've lost the thread, so I have to pick it back up (this sounds an awful lot like knitting, now that I think about it). But I'd get another paragraph or two into the paper, and I'd be interrupted again by a student who needed a paper proofread. This happened like three times during the course of the morning. By 11:00am, I'd given up on getting anything accomplished at work. When I went home that afternoon, I didn't get much more accomplished, because I hadn't been able to establish a groove, a rhythm in which to write. And the way I write, I have to be in the mood for it. I can't just start papers two weeks early just because that's easier; I can only start a paper early if I have inspiration for it.

All that being said, I also discovered I don't have enough research to complete the paper. Need a few more books, really, so I have to make a trip to the library this afternoon to attempt to find said books. Because y'know, I didn't like being able to see my desk and the floor around it. No, the piles of books look much better.

I'm finding it harder and harder to wake up in the morning. That might have something to do with staying up late at night so often, but that could just be mere conjecture.

Blarg. It's now 9:30am, and I really should have started writing about an hour ago on this damn paper. Why is nothing getting done? Because I'm a lazy sonuvabitch, that's why. Ah well, off for adventure and excitement in the land of history.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: George Harrison, "Wreck of the Hesperus"

Monday, November 24, 2003

"This Place Won't Speak Its Language To Me"

Excitement! Adventure! Really wild things! I've experienced none of these of late, but that's okay. Life doesn't always have to be drama, honest.

The weekend didn't go exactly as planned. For starters, I didn't get to play racquetball Friday. Why not, you ask? Well, seems that in order to play racquetball at the OU Fitness Center, you not only have to have a racquet and balls, but you have to have the stupid goggles. For some sort of insurance purpose, they say. Bollucks to that, I say. If I want to put out my own damn eyes when playing racquetball, then by God, I'll put out my own damn eyes!

So instead I went for a run. Dominic ran with me (at the nice indoor track they have at the Fitness Center), which meant we ran faster than I usually manage (about an 8 to 8 1/2 minute mile pace, whereas I usually go about 9 to 9 1/2 per mile for distance running), but I made him run farther than he's used to. So it all evened out in the end.

Friday night, Jess, Dom, and I actually ate (and enjoyed!) Chinese food. For me, this was the first time in a long while. I'm not a big fan of Chinese food, thanks entirely to a nasty episode of food poisoning back in high school, but I've come to the point where I can usually tolerate it once in a while. This was actually good, even, and I always enjoy the chance to try a different take on curry (I love me some curry!).

After Chinese, we went and saw the movie Secondhand Lions. Had Michael Caine and Robert Duvall, as well as a slightly grown-up Halley Joel Osment (the "I see dead people" boy). All turned in a great performance, and I must say I laughed for most of the movie. It was just so warm and colorful, the sort of live-action movie Disney used to be able to make but seems to have forgotten how (think original Parent Trap).

Saturday was spent researching and watching anime. Ev has now seen the second DVD of Blue Seed, and I think he's enjoying the experience. He keeps going on about how he's enjoying it, anyway, so I guess he's telling me the truth and not just saying stuff to keep from hurting my feelings.

Sunday was more research, a sore knee (still not sure what was wrong, but it doesn't really hurt now, so I'm not going to worry about it), and really freakin' cold. Like, damn. It went from 70 to 25 in the space of like 12 hours. Ah, the glory of living in Oklahoma, land of inconsistant weather patterns!

Looks like I'm going to try and spend part of Finals Week at Ozarks, because Mr. Vander Leest is rumored to be returning to this area of the country. I originally thought that OU's finals week was the week before Ozarks's, but this later proved to be false. That's okay, though--I only have one "final," and it's really just turning in a paper, watching a film, and eating a meal with the rest of the class (all one other student and the professor). I also think it actually occurs before finals week, so I figure if I work a couple of days (need money, need money for rent and such, since I won't work all of the rest of December), then head over to ol' Arkansas to visit with folks.

Well, off to work on my paper more.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Toad the Wet Sprocket, "So Alive"

Sunday, November 23, 2003

"Fascination With Failure"

I'm in the middle of working on a paper for my 19th Century Europe class about the Chartist Movement. I know none of you care two bits about history, so I'll be brief, because this stuff is sorta necessary to understand the rambling which follows. See, the Chartists were a group of working class boys who got together and demanded political change in the 1830s. They failed. Miserably. They had six points they wanted to see implimented in Parliament, and got none of them. Mind you, five of the six eventually did get passed (they never got annual elections), though not by the Chartists and not for a few decades at the least. But Chartism itself failed completely. Anything on their agenda that was passed wasn't passed because of them.

Funny thing is, historians are fascinated with this movement. This failed movement. Why, I've been wondering? Is it because they shouldn't have failed? Is it because this movement formed the basis for the Marxist interpretation of how proletariat revolutionary movements ought to be organized? Is it because Chartism paved the way for every single working class political movement that followed in England? Or maybe because their goals were eventually realized, even if not by them? Actually, I think it's a combination of these and probably much, much more.

But that's really not the point. The point is that historians are obsessed with this failure, with this movement that petered out because the working class got some social improvements (better wages, shorter hours, etc.) and completely lost interest in politics. History is supposedly written by and for the victors, so why do we care about the losers in this case?

Really, my whole life has been caring about the losers. Well, it's been about casting myself as that proverbial loser, as the martyr who sacrifices his own needs and wants to the greater good. I'm like a Utilitarian, allowing my own happiness to be superceded by the overall greater happiness of the group. All very noble and crap, but why do I allow myself to wallow in my failures so much? Because I do--I am fascinated with my own failures, allowing them to consume me, especially the failures in the romance department. Like the historians who keep writing about Chartism and its impact more than a century and a half after it stopped being relevant, I keep thinking about and dwelling on the wrong turns I've made in my love life over the past five or six years. And there have been many, let me tell you.

But why does any of that matter? Why do I keep thinking about the girl who said "no" my freshman year of college (sorry, girls, plural), or sophomore year, or junior or senior year? Shouldn't it all be water under the proverbial bridge by now? I mean, hell, it wasn't as if any of them were serious prospects, right? Not like I wanted a long-term relationship with them or anything.

Okay, that last bit is a lie, and probably the reason I keep dwelling on this crap. I did want a long-term relationship. In the worst possible way. But it never happened. Why? There were a few girls (three, maybe four or five) who would have thrown themselves at me sans clothing if I'd wanted them to. But those were never the girls I wanted, were they? No, I had to go after the ones who weren't interested in a relationship, or who liked me as a friend, or who thought that God hadn't designated me as "the one" even though they might have feelings for me anyway (which I always thought of as maybe God's subtle way of cluing them in. I dunno, I've always been an advocate of God giving you common sense so that you could use it. That's how God tells you things, not by miraculous brilliant flashes of inspiration). See, years later, though I feel no animosity toward the girls who said such things, I still dwell on their words. Why? It makes less than no sense, really. It's like I'm incapable of moving on with my life, incapable of accepting that these girls were not interested in me the way I was interested in them.

I'm not sure how to deal with this, actually. I'm not sure how to tell the girls I'm interested in that I'm interested in them, or the girls I'm not interested in that I'm not interested in them. Like the historians of Chartism, I'm too busy focusing on the failures to see anything else. I've got bloody tunnel vision.

There's probably some sort of cosmic lesson buried in this. I'm probably supposed to learn to let the past be the past, to recognize when it's time to move on and accept things. But that can be damned for all I care. I like dwelling in the past; hell, I majored in it. And I can't help thinking of the things that could have been had one of those girls said "yes" instead of "no," just as the historians can't help asking "what if the Chartists had succeeded?"

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Toad the Wet Sprocket, "Hobbit on the Rocks"
"Videogames Don't Kill People"

I was reading an article linked from the weblog of a popular webcomic author earlier, and it got me thinking. The article basically said that videogames were training kids to be killers.

His basic argument was such: it desensitizes kids to violence. It makes the vicitms of violence seem less human, unreal. And videogames are simulations, not spectator entertainment like a violent movie. Ultimately, the article claimed that children were learning to be killers by playing videogames.

The idea is ludicrous, I say. I've been playing videogames for a good fifteen years, probably. Ever since the original eight-bit Nintendo Entertainment System came out, I've been grabbing for the controller and immersing myself in digital fun. I don't think I've killed anyone yet because of any of the games I've played, and I've played some rather violent games (including good ol' Halo and the Grand Theft Auto games).

Blaming videogames for youth violence is absurd. Adults are trying to use videogames as a scapegoat, a patsy to take the fall because parents and communities have not been doing their job and teaching children right from wrong.

I don't see that videogames desensitize anyone to violence anymore than cartoons, movies, or even the evening news anymore. The thing is, though, parents and other adults don't give kids enough credit--most kids know the difference between fantasy and reality, between fake and real. They recognize that the Coyote who just got smashed in the head with the anvil is different from dropping something heavy on little brother's head. Little brother is not going to end up in a humorous accordian shape making the noise of such an instrument. Kids know this, just like they know that videogames are not real.

Admittedly, some kids do not recognize a difference between real and make-believe. If that is the case, then it's the responsibility of the parents to teach the kids the difference. The real problem isn't that kids are learning bad things from videogames or TV or whatever, it's that no one is bothering to teach kids right from wrong, real from make-believe. Everyone assumes it's someone else's responsibility. Parents pass the buck to teachers, who pass the buck to societal role models like celebrities and the like (who are actually the worst people to pass the responsibility to--actors, musicians, and sports stars live lives that are very different from that 99.9999% of all kids will lead, and celebrities are really living in a sort of make-believe world of their own). This sort of thing has to stop, or kids will keep finding their father's gun and going off to pop the proverbial caps in the students back at school who made fun of them.

The other big flaw in the argument is that videogames train kids to be killers. How so? Let's look at a popular game, Halo. In Halo, there are five ways for a character to die--he can be shot repeatedly, until his shield and health are all gone. He can fall, either into a pit or too far onto the floor. He can be smacked in the back of the head with the butt of a weapon. Or he can be grenaded. Or run over by a vehicle.

Now, how many of the aforementioned methods are likely to occur in your standard suburban environment? I don't know where to get hold of grenades. I don't have any automatic weapons, sniper rifles, or rocket launchers. Not too many bottomless pits around, and most folks realize that if you fall from a certain height, you're at least guaranteed broken bones. Sure, you can get run over, or hit in the back of the head, but you could get run over by someone who hasn't been playing videogames just as easily as by someone who hasn't. Most of the folks who have road rage probably don't play videogames. As for getting hit in the back of the head, how often do you walk up behind someone and smack them in the back of the head with the butt of your weapon? Oh, wait, you don't have a weapon? Oops.

So the likelihood of dying in the Halo ways are slim. But what of the "training to be killers" thing? Well, how does one manipulate a character in a videogame, Halo or otherwise? By means of the controller. If I want to shoot someone, I push the B button or whatever. To aim, I move a joystick. To jump, I push another button. I don't actually commit any of these acts of violence myself, I manipulate a controller which causes things to happen on screen. Does anyone believe that guns are really manipulated by a controller in real life? If so, you've apparently got some really advanced weaponry I don't know about.

The gist of it all is this--the idea that videogames alone cause kids to be violent is bunk. Complete, total bunk. Videogames may glorify violence, but so do movies, the news, and damn near everything else you come across anymore. Our heroes on the big screen? Killers, every last one of them. I love the Lord of the Rings, but look at Two Towers. They make a joke out of seeing whether the elf or the dwarf kills more enemies. They turn death into a statistic, much as the news does. "Such and such number of people have died in such another city this month," or whatever statistic you choose. It's ridiculous--videogames are no more responsible for violence in youth than angsty music. Teenagers might be more susceptible to influences, since they're at an impressionable age, but it's still a parent's responsibility to teach kids right from wrong. I knew the differences between right and wrong, real and fake, and so do other kids. Stop using videogames as a scapegoat. You might as well say that listening to rock and roll leads to devil worship.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Toad the Wet Sprocket, "Comes a Time"

Saturday, November 22, 2003

"Grammar Nazi"

I'm not sure when it happened, or even really why it happened, but somewhere along the way I became a grammar and spelling nazi. Not that I'm goose-stepping around the place, shouting at people who abuse the English language with some sort of faux-German accent. No, I just get exceptionally annoyed at people who make very basic errors. Y'know, the sort of errors you're supposed to stop making when you're in like the third grade, because they actually teach you how to write proper English.

I see it on a daily basis at work. Admittedly, some of the athletes are from foreign countries, and don't speak English very well. That, I can handle. English is a hard langauge to learn if you're not native to it. But native speakers (i.e., anyone in Britain or most of North America, including the United States and Canada) have no excuse. I've actually seen people use the phrase "we was" in a paper. Honestly. It sickens me--it's called noun-verb agreement, folks. The noun and the verb have to have the same singular/plural setting; that is, if the noun is plural, as the word "we" is, then the verb has to be plural as well. Some folks just don't seem to get it.

Or basic spelling. Honestly, when did you learn to spell the word "writing?" Did you learn? I honestly think some people didn't. I've actually seen it spelt "writeing." English Spelling 101: you don't just add the "ing" to a word that ends in "e," you have to drop the "e" first. And homophones--just because words sound the same does not mean they have interchangeable meanings! "There" is not the same as "their" or "they're;" "your" and "you're" have separate meanings; "too," "two," and "to" are all different words! You've no idea how many papers I see daily that make these mistakes. Constantly. I'm pretty sure that when I was in elementary and junior high, I was taught proper spelling and grammar. Surely they still teach that in school? I mean, I know the quality of education has decreased a bit, but that much in just the few short years that separate me from undergraduates? I doubt it. Clif and Scott, both undergrads themselves, seem fully capable of forming coherent, grammatically correct sentences. So why can't anyone else?

What's worse is the way that the internet has caused language skills to deteriorate. Remember when we actually had some sort of punctuation at the end of a sentence? Well, instant messenger programs seem to be killing punctuation and capitalization. I've even noticed myself doing it when using messenger programs--whenever I reach a place when I would use a period, I usually just hit enter and count that as a full stop. While this does work, to an extent, it still annoys me that I've gotten too lazy to actually hit one more key to make a letter a capital or to add a period to the end of a sentence. And what the hell is with netspeak slang? I know people who actually think that crap is cool or clever. I thought L33+ was cool the first time I saw it on [url=]Megatokyo[/url]. That was three years ago, and I know for a fact (from reading rants on the website) that Piro, the artist for said glorious comic, blames himself for the proliferation of that perversion of the English language. A hint to all you "l33+ |-|@xx0r5" out there--you sound like an idiot epileptic monkey. Stop it.

I swear, leaving language in the hands of today's youth is like handing a priceless vase to an infant: it's gonna get broken, and what you end up with won't be language or a vase, but something shattered, a thousand tiny fragments that no longer form anything coherent or worthwhile. We'll end up with something far worse than Ebonics or Esperanto--we'll end up with shitty English. Really shitty English. I, for one, am going to fight to my last breath to defend language that makes sense.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Toad the Wet Sprocket, "Dam Would Break"

Friday, November 21, 2003

"Kickin' Through The Autumn Leaves"

Hard to believe it's already late November. No, honestly--it's still getting up in the mid-70s every day. It's nigh impossible to believe that it'll be officially Winter in a month. Supposedly some colder weather is coming through this weekend, but that doesn't necessarily mean it'll be cold still this time next week. Also doesn't guarantee that it won't have snowed by this time next week. That's always been the thing about Oklahoma weather--it changes at the drop of the proverbial hat.

Anyway, exciting weekend lined up. Going to play racquetball with Dominic this afternoon. I haven't played racquetball since April or May of last year. I'll probably be a bit rusty, but I still remember most everything about the game, and I'm sure it'll all come back to me. The rest of the afternoon will be devoted to research. Lots and lots of research. Saturday, I'm going to show Ev the second disc of Blue Seed, because I like sharing my obsessions with others whether they like it or not (though in talking with him, I think he's enjoying the show thusfar). After that, more research. Sunday's an extremely exciting day, as I'll get to spend it researching, (hopefully) writing, and working. Joy.

Monday and Tuesday, though not part of the weekend, are really just going to be an extension and a continuation of the weekend's plans--writing, researching, and working. I'm hoping to have a draft of this paper done by Tuesday so I can give it to my professor. We'll see; it may be Wednesday before she gets it.

Wendesday will be a day of rest, something I'm sorely in need of. It's also payday, which is nice. Thursday will be more exciting, as it's Thanksgiving. That morning, I'm running in some five mile race with Dad and Clif. Keep in mind, I've never run five miles at once in my life, and I haven't exactly been tearing up the road on my runs this past month. I think I can do it, though I may have to walk a bit somewhere around mile 4, but a little walking will recharge the legs and allow me to stumble across the finish line, I think. My goal is to finish the race in under an hour, which seems reasonable (that's about a mile every 12 minutes). After the race, it's back to the apartment to clean up, then go pick up Beth and head to Shawnee.

Oh, did I mention that I convinced Beth to come over to my folks' place for Thanksgiving rather than spending it by herself in her apartment. Besides, it's not like we won't have enough food at home. Mom said my grandmother started making the stuffing back the beginning of this week. There will also be at least four pies--pumpkin, pecan, coconut creme, and either chocolate or butterscotch (for Scott and I, because we're picky). I don't think anyone's ever left our place hungry on Thanksgiving. Not even when I had just had my wisdom teeth removed two days before the holiday.

Well, back to research. The Chartists are really, really interesting. Honest.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Barenaked Ladies, "One Week"

Thursday, November 20, 2003

"Top Five"

One of my favorite books is Nick Hornby's High Fidelity (it's also a mighty fine John Cusack movie and a great soundtrack featuring Bob Dylan). I saw the movie three or four years ago for the first time and absolutely loved it, and I finally tracked down the novel this past year. I think I've read it four or five times in less than a year.

The main character, Rob, poses an interesting question--am I messed up because I listen to pop music, or do I listen to pop music because I'm messed up? Think of all the pop songs out there. Literally thousands of them are about heartache, lost love, and emotional pain. Why is that? Part of it, I think, is that musicians and artistic types are usually more attuned to emotions than the rest of society in general. They turn themselves into receivers for the whole gamut of human experience, from great joy to great sorrow to everything in between. Artists (of whatever sort) are supposed to express those feelings and ideas the rest of society harbors but cannot figure out how to express.

But so many artists seem to be focused on, obsessed with the darker side of human emotion. With the pain, the heartache, the end of love and life. Why is that? Is it because they're so hyper-sensitive to emotions, that they have to swing to an extreme themselves? Or are too many musicians just cynics and pessimists? Look at the lyrics of, say, Nirvana. Kurt Cobain tapped into a deep primal well of emotion, angst, and pain, and channeled it through very energized music (whatever else you may think of Nirvana, you have to admit that Cobain and Co. were very ernest about their music and tackled it with energy, power, and a healthy dose of emotion). But was he simply expressing himself, and thousands of kids suddenly went, "wow, that's exactly how I feel," or did he notice that the majority of teens and post-teens were very angsty, unhappy individuals? It's back to Hornby's question--do we listen to pop music because we're depressed, or are we depressed because we listen to pop music? Did folks listen to Nirvana because they were angsty, or were they angsty because they listened to Nirvana?

It's really hard to tell, and something of a "chicken or the egg" sort of dilemma. Besides, it's impossible to make some sort of blanket statement about everyone--no two people listen to the same song in the same way or for the same reason. For example: when I listen to a song, I mostly listen to lyrics. I'm a lyrics fiend, and that's why I can't stand most contemporary music (the lyrics are so blah and trite that it makes you ill). The actual music is secondary; don't get me wrong, I need a good tune to go along with the lyrics, but I can forgive a subpar tune if the lyrics are exceptional.

Clif, on the other hand, listens to the guitar. That's pretty much it, though I've convinced him to give lyrics a listen on occasion. One of his favorite musicians is Van Morrison. Van was actually Clif's motivation for learning the guitar (one too many listens to "Brown Eyed Girl" got him going, really). Summer of 2002, when Clif and I were in Yellowstone, he got me hooked on Van. I loved Morrison's work for the lyrics; they were deep, insightful, and poignant, and delivered with a sincerity not often encountered nowadays. As I became a fan, I started discussing Van's music with Clif. He knew of my obsession with lyrics, and asked me, "is Van a good lyricist? I've never really listened to the words." He owned more than a half dozen Van Morrison CDs at the time. The words just weren't important to him.

So we all listen to music in different ways. I think the way I listen to songs, with my focus on lyrics, probably colors the way I relate to the music. It makes me more susceptable to the emotional heights. There are tunes and songs that can move me regardless of the lyrics (a couple of the Cowboy Bebop tunes are like that, and some songs are just played so poignantly that it's hard not to be moved, regardless of what the words are or even if there are any), but I usually have to go for the words. And if the words are right, and delivered in the proper way, I'm lost in them. Completely. So I'm a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to Hornby's question--sometimes, I'm miserable because I listened to a particularly misery-inducing song, and sometimes I listen to sad songs because I'm already sad. All I know is that I love music, and I have no intentions of not listening anytime soon.

Now, if only a couple of bands (Moxy Fruvous, Glen Phillips, Wallflowers, Bob Dylan) would put out new albums, I'd be happy as the proverbial pig in mud, even if some of the songs induce emotional misery in me.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, "Most of the Time"
"So Ya Thought Ya Might Like To Go To The Show?"

Another morning, and here I sit at work, restless. There are so many things I could be doing--working on research, finishing up that last little bit on Latin or on my grad school applications, or even looking at the evil 30 page business paper that came in last night. Instead, I'm sitting here, typing away at this thing as though it mattered, as though more than one or two people actually read it. Kinda silly, really.

I don't know why I have these bouts of self-doubt. I'm plagued with them every so often, for reasons I'll never fully understand. One moment, I'll be ambling along the path of life with no worries. The next, I'm sitting here pondering my own mortality, considering listening to the Cure, and asking myself, "What's the point, really, when you get down to it?" It's moments like those when I wish I was an alcoholic. If I was, the answers would be simple--I'd just drink. Okay, so that wouldn't answer any of the questions, but after enough alcohol, you don't really care about answers, you just care about whether or not the room will stop spinning.

But alas, I've never really been a big fan of drinking (and I'm too poor to make it much of a habit anyway, at least in the sort of quantity I'd need), so I have to deal with my brain trying to wrap itself around these damn questions. It all makes me wonder if maybe Socrates was wrong. Maybe the unexamined life is worth living, if only because you don't have the weight of self-examination crushing you. This must be how Atlas felt, only his burden seemed light in comparison sometimes.

Really it's all rather immaterial. I know I'm not going to change anything as fundamental about myself as my desire and willingness to examine my life and myself. For better or worse, I'm stuck as an examiner in perpetuity.

This probably all comes of listening to too much Pink Floyd. It'll be the death of me, I swear.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Pink Floyd, "Young Lust"

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

"We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat"

I don't usually do two postings a day, but the past few minutes have been amusing, so I thought I'd share.

See, I'm the only one here at work right now. Everyone else has gone home for the day in the Writing Center. We'll get a couple more people to relieve me at 7:00, but from 4:00 until 7:00, I'm basically in charge of the place.

So when I first got in, there was a paper waiting for me to read. Business/English paper of some sort, I wasn't really sure. I'm a little tired today, and I didn't get a nap this afternoon, so most things are kinda blurry right now. Anyway, I looked at the paper and did my thing, then decided to lay my head down for a minute because I'm so damn tired. Well, I happened to snap back to full wakefulness right before a girl walked in with another paper to proofread (this one's a thirty page Business paper...I'm letting someone else do that one, I already looked at a 15 page Business paper earlier today, and I still haven't recovered). So I went back to full alertfulness to help her out, just as a huge group of prospective students walked into our center, led by one of my boss's supervisors. When I say "huge," I mean like twenty people. This room wasn't designed for twenty people to be milling around. It was barely designed for a half dozen to mill around.

Needless to say, it was a good thing the other student came in right before that, or I wouldn't have been awake when this tour group came by, and I'd probably be getting fired about now.

I'm wide awake now, and kinda bored. Wish I'd thought to bring some research along with me...though knowing me, I'd have fallen asleep doing research instead. Caffine just ain't doin' it anymore, folks, I need to start getting energy the natural way--sleeping.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Electric Light Orchestra, "Easy Money"
"Sometimes The Truth Just Ain't Enough, Or It's Too Much In Times Like This"

Am I content?

That's a very loaded question. What exactly do I mean by "content?" Do I mean I like who and what I am, where I am in life and employment, relationships, and things of that nature? Or simply happy with my lot in life? I don't really know, to tell you the truth. I think I'm happy with who I am, though maybe not how I am currently. And there are certainly some aspects of my life I'd like to change.

My weight, for instance. I have little to no self control (an issue that plays a very serious and upsetting part in many areas of my life), and tend to just eat food if it's in front of me. This would be fine if there were no food in front of me ever, but I have a habit of eating. A lot. And I still run everyday, but it feels like I'm fighting a losing battle. I know I've steadily gained weight since Clif left back in July, but I don't seem capable of turning my situation around by myself. I need an external disciplinarian, I guess. That's when I usually do best--when there's someone there to watch over and give me mean looks when I'm doing things I know I shouldn't (like going to IHOP at midnight, or eating a whole pizza for dinner). Both summers I worked for my father, and the summer I spent at Yellowstone, I consistantly lost weight because there was someone there to keep me in line (first dad, then Clif). I was a good 30 pounds lighter at the beginning of last school year than I am now, I think, and that upsets and distresses me. My goal is to lose a good ten or fifteen by Christmas, and another ten or fifteen by my birthday (I have to be realistic during the winter--it gets really freakin' cold, sometimes too cold to run everyday).

I think I'm content with who I am intellectually and emotionally. I've got a pretty good handle on my mind and soul I think, and they're both completely within my control. I've got a good grasp of this sharing deep personal and emotive information with others, if they're someone I feel I can trust, and I also think I can identify those whom I can trust pretty well. I can also pretty much out-debate anyone I come across, with a couple of notable exceptions (I have never beat Wendy or Amanda E. in a discussion: Wendy because she's just that much smarter than I, and Amanda because she's that much smarter and because I become extremely flustered and start to babble whenever I'm around her. I chalk it up to pheremones or her psychic powers). I can usually defeat people with either more knowledge or better debating skills, though I haven't tried it against someone who possesses both yet.

I'm getting content with my abilities. My comic style is finally getting to a point where I'm happy with the way the comics look, though Clyde says he doesn't care for the new style because it looks like I'm half-assing the comics (even though it actually takes longer to do the sketchy style. Go figure). I like where my writing skills are right now, in terms of poetry and songs, and fiction and non-fiction prose. I have found my style, my voice, and I can usually express things exactly as I want to in an almost effortless manner.

I don't know that I'm content with my location. Then again, I haven't been since I left Ozarks in May of 2002. I don't really like OU. I like a couple of the people here--Jess and Dom are wonderful and warm, Beth is always great fun to spend time with, and Ev challenges my mind in ways that school didn't for a long time. Anyone else I know here I don't get to see often enough to really have a strong connection. I hate the school, especially the administration and the crap they keep putting me and thousands of other students through. I like the classes I took and the professors I've had (with a single notable exception, but he hated me first) well enough, I guess. It's just...being here has always seemed like it would be temporary. I think in the back of my head, I always thought I'd stay at Ozarks forever. Part of that was a product of the time in which I entered Ozarks. I mean, I was eighteen. At eighteen, we all think we're going to live forever, that we're going to always be the same person and that everything will remain eternal and unchanging. Ironically, it's at that age and for the next few years that life changes the most, I think. I know I'm a very different person from the wide-eyed, introverted whelp who entered Clarksville, AR back in August of 1998. I'm a different person than the one who entered Norman over a year ago. And yet I'm still me, and there is continuity between what has gone before and what I am currently.

So, am I content? I guess it depends on your definition, and what you place your emphasis on. There are areas of my life in which I'm definitely content, and areas in which I'm not. But I think it's that way for everyone, really. I've yet to meet someone who was completely content with everything in their life. If I ever did, I don't know whether to trust them or wonder what sort of psyhcosomatic drugs they've been taking. I do hope someday to be content, I strive for it. And that's probably a good thing--if I got complacent with who and what I was, I would never try to improve myself, right? I'd stay the same perpetually, and you can't do that. You have to grow.

Now, if I could just start growing in the metaphysical sense as opposed to the physical, I'd be set.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Cake, "Rock & Roll Lifestyle"

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

"All That's Left Of Me Is My Celebrity"

Amidst all the Strum und Drang of last night, I forgot to mention a couple of positive things that occurred yesterday. First, I finally picked up some new running shoes, so maybe now my legs will stop trying to kill me every time I run. The other and more important thing was my friend Sarah Rosenberg called me out of the blue. Turns out I'd given her my phone number in a random email we'd exchanged several weeks ago that I'd honestly completely forgotten about it. So when she called me yesterday evening about half an hour before I headed off for work, I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. I shot the proverbial bull with her for a bit, then headed off to work. She is one person who really has her life together and figured out. Sarah's always been a rather focused person, knowing exactly what she wants and going for it with an intensity and drive that I find myself wishing I could emulate. Instead, I usually find myself listless and aimless, cast adrift with little direction and no wind in my sails, attempting to coast over still water.

I got a copy of the latest Barenaked Ladies album from James over the weekend, and I've been giving it a spin the past couple of days. My verdict is that it's quite good, which is nice because I needed a decent album after the other most recent CD I picked up, the Strokes' Room on Fire, which sucked like an industrial vaccum. I was left unimpressed by the Strokes, finding their musicianship rather basic and their lyrics trite and uninspired. Everything sort of chugs along at the same pace, with no attention paid to finding real hooks or melodies, but rather relying on playing fast and loud a la 70s punk, but without the energy or real swagger. If these guys are supposed to be the saviors of rock and roll, I don't think I want to be redeemed.

But as I said, the Barenaked Ladies' newest, Everything to Everyone, is quite good. Not their best--then again, it's hard to top the genius of their debut, Gordon, or of Stunt, or even the inspired live versions found on Rock Spectacle--but still a good, solid effort with some memorable tunes, lots of hooks and the great harmonies I've come to expect from the Ladies, and a healthy dose of their trademark humor with a measure of maturity. This is a band that is comfortable with the music it's making, and that shines through on each song. The members of the band are enjoying themselves, they're enjoying the music they make, and they've found their groove. Plus, "Another Postcard" is just damn fun, and it's not even the best song on the album. Any album where I can find at least three or four songs that I enjoy is a good album, in my opinion, and this album manages to dish out at least a half dozen tunes that I'm hooked on.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Barenaked Ladies, "Maybe Katie"

Monday, November 17, 2003

"I Want A Reason For The Way Things Have To Be"

I picked the title for this particular rant earlier today, while listening to the Train song "Calling All Angels." The words appealed to me on a very intellectual level--I find myself always searching for the "Why." That's the reason I never understood math--all the math teachers I ever had only told me how. They would tell me that to get the answer, I had to apply this formula, and I would get what I needed. They never told me why that particular formula was the one I used, or why it was right, they simply told me that was the formula you used in that instance. I always hated that; as a result, I never bothered with math, and my meager abilities in the subject even today atest to that fact.

But somewhere in the past hour or so, the meaning of those words morphed into something much more emotional and deep, much darker. I still want to know why things happen, but now I have particular things in mind, and very particular people I'd like to ask "why" to, and I know I can't ask that person, because I'm not in a position where I can. I'm also not in a position to really speak plainly about the subject I'm dancing around, because it is not mine to disclose, and it is not yours to hear about. That I heard about it and now have to deal with the consequences is immaterial, really.

Mostly, I want to know why people are cruel. What drives mankind to do the stupid, senseless, and above all selfish things we do on a daily basis to one another? When did we get it in our heads that it was okay to destroy the reality of another person? Or that we could make unilateral decisions that do not only affect us? When did each individual on the whole damn planet decide that they were the only person that really mattered, and everyone else was incidental?

I remember a passage I read in a Terry Pratchett book a while back. The book is called Carpe Jugulum, and it's about vampires. But there's this marvelous subplot running through it about a young priest of the Omnian Church (a wonderful pun on Catholicism, as "omnia" means "whole," and Catholic, of course, means "universal") who goes through a crisis of faith. At one point, he gets into an argument with Granny Weatherwax, the Discworld's greatest witch, currently possibly a vampire herself, and very much an atheist. Oh, she knows gods exist, and has even met a few of them, but she doesn't believe in them. Believing in gods just gives them ideas above their station. Granny insists that all sin, at the most basic level, starts with treating people as things. Once you do that, you'll do anything, because you stop seeing people as people, and start seeing them as objects. When you treat someone as an object, you'll see no reason why killing someone is wrong, or robbing them, or taking away those they care about. You'll have no qualms about starting wars, destroying communities, eliminating ways of life, and abusing the sensibilities and bodies of those around you. It all starts with treating someone as something.

And when you think of a person as an object rather than a human being, you stop understanding that the things you can do can hurt them. You lose the ability to empathize with them, to see things from their perspective. You start thinking that whatever you do is fine, because you're the only person whose opinions in the matter are important. And therein lies the greatest sin a human can commit against another human--thinking that only you matter. And that's why I'm mad as hell right now, and that's why I really want to seriously hurt a certain person right now, even though I know it would only make the situation worse, and would only exacerbate the problem. To the person whom I'm writing this for: you know who you are, if you happen to be reading this (which I doubt), and you have my deepest sympathies, and I'm here if you need me. Always.


Song of the Moment: Cream, "Badge"

Sunday, November 16, 2003

"Born Before The Wind"

Well, the weekend at Ozarks was a wonderful vacation from reality. No obligations, no required activities, no deadlines, no heavy reading (except for when I was playing Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy on X-Box, oddly enough--the game, while exceptionally well-done and very entertaining, had no voice acting, but only text. LOTS of text). Watched several movies, including Matrix: Huge Plotholes (aka Revolutions), Matrix: Reloaded (after having watched Revolutions. Neither one made any sense because of this), and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (featuring the world's best Marka Hamill and Carrie Fisher cameos ever). Got to see several very close friends whom I had not seen in much too long. Basically spent the weekend in the presence of people whom I love and adore, and didn't really have too much to worry or think about. Life is good.

Now I am back in Norman, sitting at work. I spend a lot of time sitting at work. While sitting here, I'm contemplating an idea my father half-jokingly planted in my head this afternoon while we were washing the car.

I think I'm going to apply to Cambridge.

Yeah, that's Cambridge University in Cambridge, England. Yes, it's one of the most prestigious schools in the English-speaking world. Yes, I have about as much of a chance of getting accepted as I do of getting a date in the next five minutes. But by God, what's the point of living if you don't take risks and chances, right? And who knows--I might just get accepted, and how kick ass would THAT be?

In other news, my old car, the Sunfire, was sold today to Jessica Bowie. I'm given to understand that selling vehicles and the like to friends is a double-edged sword of a deal--on the one hand, you can give them a good deal, you know it's going to a good home, and you know it'll be taken care of. On the other hand, if something goes wrong with it, they know who to blame.

I was thinking that I'll really miss that car, then I remembered that I'll still see it all the time, like an ex-girlfriend whom you have classes with. Only chances are, I'll still be able to ride in the Sunfire. Won't be driving it anymore, and that's a shame because I always enjoyed driving that car, but so it goes.

On a completely unrelated note, I got one of those AOL-type CDs in the mail over the weekend. Y'know, the ones for the free trial? Well, the activation code for this one is "summer-monkey." I found that amusing in ways I cannot even begin to describe. And, apropos of nothing, I can't decide whether to get the Glen Phillips "Live at Largo" album (which comes out Tuesday) or Jars of Clay's latest offering, which came out a couple of weeks ago apparently. Perhaps both? No, not enough cash for both. Probably go for the Glen Phillips and ask for the other one for Christmas. What does this have to do with anything? Absolutely nothing, but I'm just rambling and filling up space for now. Booya.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Barenaked Ladies, "Another Postcard"

Friday, November 14, 2003

"They Call Him Mr. Jellyroll"

Well, in just a few short hours, I'll be heading out to Clarksville, wind in my hair, sun in my face,, it's soggy and rainy and cold and nasty today. Then again, whenever I make plans to go on a trip (either to home or to Ozarks), it always decides to rain. It's getting to where that's the only sort of weather I know how to drive on the interstate in.

...I'm disturbed. I was just given a hand treatment, which isn't nearly as dirty as it sounds. Apparently it involves using several different creams on your hand to exfoliate and cleanse and make your skin silky smooth. I feel emasculated now, and I'm never letting my boss talk me in to that sort of thing again. My hands feel weird and much too soft. I think I may have exfoliated a callous or two, and that depresses me. If my drawing callous is gone, there will be hell to pay.

My boss, while directing the Writing Center, also sells Mary Kay. Which is all well and good--y'know, women apparently feel they need make up and creams and cremes and God knows what, and someone out there has to know how it all works and what all you need. But do I really need to be dragged into it? I don't think so. I'm emasculated enough anyway, what with being wrapped around the little finger of virtually every attractive woman I know (and most of the women I know are attractive, so you can imagine how interesting that is). I really don't need hand treatments and the like.

In other news, leading researchers have discovered that lots and lots of caffine will be necessary for Chuck to stay awake long enough to drive to Clarksville. Barring that, he just needs to sit there and recount the shame of having a hand treatment this morning, and the burning shame will keep me awake and wishing I wasn't.

Okay, I really don't have anything much to say. Go read Crooked Halo, where I'm making pretty boy archangels join boy bands today. It'll be even more fun Monday, when another character from the strip ends up in the band, too.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Aerosmith, "Ten Inch Record"

Thursday, November 13, 2003

"And I'm Callin' Time And Temperature Just For Some Company"

In Chuck's growing List of Idiots, we've got a new entry. The story comes courtesy of my mom, and just proves how bloody moronic and naive high school students are. Well, some high school students, anyway. I don't recall being this dense when I was in high school, but that might just be a trick of memory.

Anyway, so these kids are sitting in a freshman English class, drinking something out of a Sonic cup. The "something" turns out to be rum and coke. When the students go to the classroom door to confer with a buddy of theirs who happened to drop by, the teacher (not my mother, I should note) noticed something was up. She calls out to the kids, they bolt. She chases them down, catches them, and drags them to the principal's office.

So these kids are sitting in the principal's office, and one of them keeps maintaining that he only had "one drink." In the middle of making this protest, his eyes sorta bug out, he makes a run for the garbage can, and he doesn't make it. Puddle o' vomit. Yeah, the kid may've only had one drink, but only if by one drink you mean "one cupful of the drink." Baka.

Mom and I are rolling because of this whole incident, but it also bothers me on a basic level. Maybe I just wasn't privy to it when I was in high school, but I'm pretty sure most of the students who were there when I attended high school knew better than to drink in the classroom. I mean, outside of the classroom, I make no mistakes that at least a couple of them had to be doing something stupid and illegal, but while actually sitting in class? What made these children think they could get away with that? Or that it was okay? Do kids today just have no sense of right and wrong? Or do they just think that perhaps the rules don't apply to them? Maybe it's a thrill thing--"heh, lookit me, I'm drinkin' in the classroom, hur hur hur." Where'd they even get ahold of rum, anyway? Mom and Dad apparently need to learn how to lock the ol' liquor cabinet.

I mean, I really drank until I got into college. Oh, I'd had a sip of dad's beer once or twice, and maybe a bit of champagne on New Year's, but I'd never really had a drink. And even when I was an undergraduate, I only got tipsy once, and that was under my parents' roof while they were home (admittedly, they were on the other side of the house and sound asleep, but they knew Wendy and I were drinking), and I had the good sense not to do anything stupid. I wasn't drinking during the course of the school day, and I sure as hell wasn't drinking during class. Do they just make kids stupider than they did when I was younger? My friend Ev maintains that the generation following me--the Millennials, I believe he calls them--are apathetic like the flannel-clad Gen-Xers, but cast adrift like the Baby Boomers, and ultimately don't give a damn about anything except the moment. While that's nice and Buddhist of them, living in the moment and all, they seem to forget about anything that doesn't directly apply to them. Ev says they have no understanding of vertical chronology--that is, the distant past is just as foreign to them as three years ago, and the future is just as foreign as that. Not only is the past a foreign country to these kids, but they can't even conceive of wanting to visit it or that anything really exists in that country. It's all rather depressing for a history major, someone trained to think vertically. All these kids are aware of is horizontal chronology--what is happening here and now, perhaps across a broad territory, but probably not. The fact is, they don't care unless it's directly related to them, and they probably still don't care very much then. It's bloody depressing, really.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Old '97s, "Big Brown Eyes"

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

"Last Train To Clarksville"

So it's official: I'm finally taking a trip to Ozarks this weekend. Needless to say, I am very happy about that. I haven't seen any of the Ozarks crew since July. July, people. It's been like 3 1/2, 4 months. That's too long, especially since I didn't get to see everyone on that trip.

Anyway, the very prospect of the Ozarks trip excites me, and I can hardly wait until Friday. But, alas, I have to--there is much to be done between now and then. It does mean I have to start thinking about what CDs I'm going to take. This is a more important task than you can imagine, for the CDs I pack are my only form of entertainment for a good eight hours while I'm on the road. I usually use a case that holds 24, so that gives me a decent variety to choose from. It's just a matter of determining my mood. Do I want to listen to contemporary stuff? Or am I in a strictly classic rock mood? Perhaps a mixture of both? Do I want to listen to polished, carefully and exactingly produced music, or am I in the mood for something with more rough edges? What about lyrical and musical themes? Am I in the mood for slow, sad stuff, or uptempo, energetic stuff?

What'll end up happening is a mixture of all of the above, with a liberal dose of complete randomness thrown in. So far, I've come up with the following obvious choices:

The Beatles, "Hard Day's Night"
Yoko Kanno & the Seatbelts, "Cowboy Bebop" Mix
Van Morrison, "What's Wrong with this Picture?" (or maybe "Moondance," can't decide)
The Wallflowers, "The Wallflowers"
Bob Dylan, "Live 1966"
Gorillaz, "Gorillaz"
Counting Crows, "Hard Candy"
Toad the Wet Sprocket, "Coil"
George Harrison, "All Things Must Pass"
Dire Straits, "Sultans of Swing: The Best of Dire Straits"
Mark Knopfler, "Ragpicker's Dream"

There will be many others, I assure you, but those are the ones I've determined so far.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to the weekend. I'll get to see some friends, take my mind off the hook for a couple of days, and just sit back and groove. And probably get fed. If nothing else, a stop will be made at the infamous Dodge's, and Pizza Stix will be had. Mmm, Pizza Stix. I don't know who came up with those artery-clogging darlings, but they are the epitome of mankind's culinary arts. I mean, c'mon--a flakey pastry shell containing meat, cheese, and all of it deep-fried to a golden brown perfection. It's the perfect food, the solid equivalent of ambrosia. I've been going through withdrawals since July, and I think it's why I've had the shakes the past few days...though that could be related to sticking my finger in the light socket as well, but I have my doubts.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Yoko Kanno & the Seatbelts, "Call Me, Call Me"

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

"I Don't Do Sketches From Memory"

So yesterday was a day for the comics. First, I had a comic featured over at Stripper's Corner (which sounds dirtier than it actually is). Then I had a comic featured in the Oklahoma Daily, and someone actually sent me an email in regards to said comic (and the email contained words of praise, no less!). Also, the girl I submit comics to at the paper sent me an email about some College Cartoonist Award thing I'm going to try for. So there was a lot of comical love goin' down for the ol' Chuck yesterday.

And now I have another comic in the newspaper again today. I actually rule that paper now, they just don't realize it yet. I keep wondering if the other "cartoonists" (having seen their work, I use that term loosely) are going to just quit. I wish they would; it would mean I didn't have to share my space with hacks.

That's all sounding a lot more conceited than I originally planned, but the fact of the matter is, the rest of the people who do comics here just...aren't really that good. Either their art is crappy (one guy in particular has a style that's way too jagged and has too many corners, while another has characters who always look like this even when they haven't beaten their heads against a filing cabinet) or the comic's just aren't funny, or they're so specific to a certain time, place, and group, that only about five people are even going to chuckle at the damn thing. Then again, I've been trying to draw comics since I was in high school, and I also have existing characters with clearly-defined personalities to work with already. I'm just sort of advantaged in the comiking, I guess.

Anyway, these are all just small steps in my plan to take over the world with humor. The next step is to convince people to pay me to draw funny pictures. Once that's going, then all will be well. Or something.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: The Wallflowers, "Into the Mystic"

Monday, November 10, 2003

"What Planet Is This?"

Well, I'm starting to finally get in a better mood, though I'm still not entirely sure why I was so depressed/moody all of last week. Perhaps it was the change in the weather, or the fact that I was only able to run like twice (legs were killing me, and weather was not permitting), or maybe just a bunch of crap happened right at the beginning of the week that colored the rest of the week in shades of gray, black, and other murky neutral tones.

Anyway, in the finest tradition of my rants, I'm gonna make fun of stupid people, because they're so damn plentiful and make it too damn easy.

The first person I want to attack/berate/make fun of is this guy who writes for the school paper. I won't mention his name, because it's not really pertinent, but suffice to say he's got high ideas of himself and a low opinion of anyone who disagrees with him. He's also an English major, so I think that might have something to do with his basic pompous nature.

Well, on Friday last, this guy wrote an article for the paper advocating paying the student athletes for all the hard work they do. Because the full scholarships, room and board, and special perks (like having someone like me available to proofread their papers for them) aren't enough. Because having their books provided, laptops loaned to them by the school, and receiving a free education isn't enough compensation. No, since this guy maintains that student athletes have to work twice as hard as regular students to maintain decent grades, and since he believes most student athletes think they'll go on to play professionally (even though [1] he admits that only about 1% of them will and [2] most of them don't actually think that, except for a lot of the football players), we ought to give them monetary compensation. Basically, he wants to pay them for having delusions of grandeur.

If the school's gonna do that, I want them to start paying me because I think I might be able to become a syndicated cartoonist someday, or at least be able to live off my comic (and hey, if I can convince them to pay me, I will be able to, just as the student athletes would be professional ones if they were paid. That's sorta how "professional" is defined: you get paid to do it). The idea is actually rather perverse, I thought, and I was offended down to my very soul by the idea.

Hell, here's an idea--why don't we get rid of all the student athletes and just hire professional athletes? We wouldn't have to give them room and board, or provide them with the academic center, or pretend we're interested in educating them like we do the student athletes (because I'm fairly certain most of the coaches and administration at this school are only paying lip service to the idea of "they're here for education." They're really here to bring the university lots of money). It's the perfect set up; all it lacks is common sense and a healthy dose of reality.

That was rather therapeutic.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Yoko Kanno & the Seatbelts, "Space Lion"

Sunday, November 09, 2003

"What's Up Sweetcakes"

Do you ever wonder why people sometimes feel melancholy? Why sometimes we're depressed for no reason? Why does the weather affect our moods? If it's sunny outside, we tend to smile more, or if it's dreary and gray, we feel blah and under the weather (no pun intended...I don't think). There's something about late fall and into winter that makes you want to stay in bed all day, not move, not face the outside world. It makes me not want to jog, or leave the apartment until at least my birthday. By the same token, nasty weather (such as rain or snow) always makes me want to move. When I'm restricted to the apartment because of the precipitation, it makes me want to defy that, to go out and go somewhere. I always want to take a road trip when the weather's at its worst, because logic and common sense dictate that I ought to bunker down and wait for everything to blow over.

I was flipping through my photo album this afternoon, looking at the pictures of my friends from these recent years. Looking at all the smiles, all the good times, the moments captured in 3" x 5". It's funny, but most of the pictures are from the last few weeks of school my senior year and graduation, both mine and the one from 2003 (when several of my friends graduated). There aren't many pictures from the four years I actually spent at the school, just from the last few moments I was there. I think that's a part of human nature--while we're in the middle of something, we don't ever think of it ending. In a way, I thought I'd always be with that group of people at Ozarks, that nothing would ever change, that we'd always be there. When it dawned on me that this wasn't going to be the case (I tried to deny it up until about two or three weeks before graduating), I attempted to hurriedly collect evidence that I'd been there for four years, tangible memories and memorabilia to commemorate my time at that place with those people.

I graduate from OU in about seven months. In the almost year and a half that I've been here so far, I've made some rather close friends, people whom I don't want to let go of. And I have nothing tangible to show that I've known them so far, no physical evidence that they've been a part of my life except the occasional faint smile I wear on my face when thinking about them. I need to find my camera. I need to correct this inequity.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Yoko Kanno & the Seatbelts, "Ask DNA"

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Friends And Family, Kitch And Kin

On a whim, I decided to go visit my maternal grandparents yesterday afternoon. I knew Scott, my youngest sibling, was going to be there as well; in fact, we'd discussed me visiting over the phone late Thursday night, and decided it'd be a pleasant surprise for my grandmother, who's been feeling low the past few weeks.

Anyway, to make a long story short, our little plan was a success. Scott told Grandma that there was a surprise coming for her. When she opened the door and saw me, her face lit up in a genuine smile, and that alone made the whole trip worth it. On top of that, I got to sit and chat with my grandparents for the afternoon, got a free meal out of the deal, and it occupied most of my otherwise empty Friday.

The trip, though short, was thus probably one of the more worthwhile trips I've taken since I went to Ozarks for Chris and JP's going away party back at the end of July. Come to think of it, that was actually the last trip I made to Ozarks. That's something I plan on rectifying next weekend, though. I need to make another trip to 'Zarks before Thanksgiving, because after Thanksgiving will just be too hectic.

Beyond that, there's not much to say here. I wrote another song while jogging last night. I guess I'll leave you with it. It's rather tongue in cheek, but fun nonetheless. And kinda country-ish, oddly enough. But I still like it. Enjoy the first verse and the chorus.

"Gospel Truth"
Got a posterboard picture of Jesus in my pocket
Got the words of the Holy Father on my lips
Got two blind eyes in my sockets
I'm devout, forgiven, and oh-so hip
Gonna rock and roll all night to the Gospel station
Gonna pray real hard for my salvation
And I know when I take my eternal rest
I'm gonna to the place that's the best.

Amen, brothers and sisters, amen.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Ben Folds, "Rockin' the Suburbs"

Friday, November 07, 2003

"Last Night I Danced With A Stranger"

I find myself listening to a lot of Bob Dylan of late. By "of late" I mean "the past few years." Ever since I saw him in concert back in August of 2001, I've been somewhat obsessed, to be honest.

Dylan is an acquired taste, to be certain. I know lots of folks can't stand his stuff, either because of his voice, his cryptic lyrics, or his penchant for songs that have ten or eleven verses and no bridge. But I'm fascinated by his work, whether it's his early solo acoustic folk, or the electrified folk rock of 1965-66, the biblical parablism of the late '60s, the emotive acoustic full band of the '70s, or the world-weary, full-circle Americana of the '90s and '00s. I try to forget that the '80s existed, mostly because most of his stuff that decade was subpar (except for a few isolated tunes and his work with the Traveling Wilburys).

Anyway, one of my favorite albums is the latter-day masterpiece Time Out of Mind. It's a very heavy, emotive album, and Dylan sounds weary, exhausted, and defeated throughout most of it. Its an album populated with drifters, lovesick men and women, old men sitting in diners smoking cheap cigars and wondering when the hell the world they fought so hard for became this one. The whole CD is great, but the song I've been stuck on the past few days is "Standing in the Doorway."

"Standing in the Doorway" is Dylan at his most emotive. Say what you will for his raspy, throaty vocals, he lends a tone and effect in this song that tugs at the heartstrings. The music is slow, mournful, a dirge of a waltz to a love who walked away. Over the course of seven minutes and five verses, Dylan sketches the image of a man worn out, exhausted by the effort of surviving the day to day grind. On top of all that, the narrator has lost his woman, and has "nothin' to go back to now." He is haunted by this woman, tormented by her memory. It colors his world in a very dark and very murky way. I think the line that really does it for me is when he sings, "Last night I danced with a stranger, but she just reminded me you were the one." His voice quavering, cracking, rasping, the sheer emotional intensity of the phrases...Dylan's voice may be shot, but one starts to think that's possibly the best thing that could have happened. He is no longer the social crusader of the early '60s, nor the cryptic poet laureate of the new music revolution of the mid '60s. He's not the troubadour of the '70s, or the religious convert of the '80s. He is a weary, lonesome man, one who has dragged his body down the road for too long, seen the revolution fail, seen the world he fought hard against come into being anyway, and has yet survived. That's exactly what Dylan and his characters are--survivors of the counter-revolution, those who saw everything fall apart, and yet still find a reason to go on. Whether that's wisdom or stupidity is yet to be seen.

Somewhere out there on the road is a man, perpetually traveling, never arriving. The eternal drifter, the man who knows only the journey, walks the same road for his whole existence, seeing nothing else and never finding a resting place to call "home." Dylan has tapped into that primal traveler, exposed his core and soul and channeled it through music. And we're lucky enough to hear it.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, "Standing in the Doorway"

Thursday, November 06, 2003

"Lyrics Jam #1"

Random lyrics I'm making up off the top of my head...enjoy.

Everything's fine, we're all alright, we'll survive
We're probably all just in denial
Can't accept the truth of our reality
We don't cry 'cause we can't stop the smile
The whisper of an endless dream
An echo of a thought
Striving for things we don't understand
Trying to be what we're not
Swallow your empty, meaningless words
Swallow foolish pride and vanity
Face the facts of your inevitable demise
And look towards the coming calamity
My mind is stretched broader than the horizon
It can accomodate all of existence
Wave a magic wand at my life
Erase the pain and resistance.

That ought to be enough of that for one day.

I find myself worn out lately, like I've been stretched too thin across too many fronts. Maybe I should take my lesson from the Germans and not fight wars on two fronts, metaphorically speaking. I feel almost transparent, as though someone could look through me and see out the other side if I weren't wearing clothes (don't worry, I don't plan on running around naked anytime soon...not as cold as it suddenly is). I'm trying to do too much, I guess, but that's where it's odd--I'm not really getting anything accomplished, it seems. Quite the predicament, really.

I guess you could classify this as some sort of psychological cry for help. I tend to think of it more as a cry for alcohol and a good night's rest.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Electric Light Orchestra, "Easy Money"

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

"You've Got A Lot Of Nerve"

I feel like a fake sometimes. Like I have to continue smiling and joking while things fall apart. Like I have to fiddle while Rome burns. "Outside the dawn is waking, my makeup may be flaking but my smile still stays on," as Freddie Mercury croons. I'm stressed by a dozen little things at once, but I feel almost obligated to continue laughing and cracking jokes and being the clown of the world, sans stupid wig and custard pie. But why? Who gave me this job, this role? No one but myself, though now I feel as though it's expected of me. It's like once people accepted me in the role of humorist and fool, they couldn't accept me in any other role. I got typecast by reality. Admittedly, it's a role I feel very natural in, and I enjoy making people laugh. But it also kinda limits me. Whenever I feel down or upset, it's almost like I can't express that, because it doesn't meet everyone's expectations.

So I force the humor, even when I don't feel like being funny. I do it for the benefit of others mostly, but I guess it's also for my own benefit. I've always used humor and laughter as a defense mechanism, and years of being picked on in elementary and junior high school helped me form a wit and sense of humor that's quick and occasionally very barbed. Admittedly, I didn't express most of my thoughts or comments when I was in those formative years; rather, they remained unspoken. But in those years, I developed the sense of humor I have now--a little sarcastic, a little wry, a little odd. When I got into high school and actually started speaking up, it surprised many of my old schoolmates. Which I enjoyed--taking them on in a battle of wits became enjoyable, because most of them entered the contest unarmed in comparison.

In a way, the humorist part of me is self-created, self-imposed. I want to be the funny one, the guy everyone thinks is humorous and entertaining and a proverbial hoot to talk to. I want to have energy and wit and exuberance. But I don't want to be so two-dimensional, so flat. There are other aspects of my personality. And hell, sometimes I just feel depressed and shouldn't have to keep making with the funny, right? Admittedly, I don't want to be depressed as often as I was (for ridiculous reasons, it seems in hindsight) as an undergraduate. But I don't think I can maintain some sort of manic energy and always be upbeat and funny. It just doesn't work that way.

There was a reason for this rant, a very good reason, and now it all seems pointless.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, "Positively 4th Street"

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

"Idiot Wind"

Today's rant is going to be a hodge-podge of the idiots I've had to deal with lately, because I think we'll all find it amusing and because if I don't blow off some steam, I may kill someone. The overwhelming idocy I seem to have to deal with on almost a daily basis startles me, especially since it doesn't all come from student-athletes.

The first idiot was here in the Writing Center, about two or three weeks ago, and was a student-athlete. I think I might have mentioned him--a tour came through, and this moron kept telling said tour that we wrote papers for him. As a result of his stupidity, we are limited in what we can and cannot do to a student's paper. One of the big things I'd do is help with word choice. Students, whether athletes or not, often use the wrong word. Either they don't have the vocabulary for what they're trying to say, or they just misuse a word. Whatever, it happens, even to me. So I'd suggest other words. Or I'd rework a sentence so it flowed better. Well, no more. Now all I can do is circle where the mistake is and tell there's a mistake. I can't offer suggestions on how to fix it. Stupid.

The next group of idiots were encountered this past Saturday during the OU/OSU game. I went for my jog during the third quarter, and as I was walking back, I saw a group of OU students (well, college-age guys wearing OU shirts) heckling a ten year old wearing OSU stuff. A ten year old. Am I alone in thinking that if they have to pick on a ten year old to win an argument, they really have no business being in college? Mind you, OSU fans were no better--as I continued walking, I came even with an older couple in orange. As we all walked past a house near the stadium, someone started up a call and answer "OSU" "Sucks." Well, this set the old guy off, and he starts complaining loudly about how asinine OU fans are. Which they are, but OSU fans are not innocent themselves. I mean, come on, people, it's a freakin' game you're getting worked up over here. How or why is this so damn important?

I sometimes wonder if all these morons are placed in my path simply to test my patience. Or maybe it's just indicative of football and its fans (the student-athlete who caused trouble a few weeks ago was a football player). This state's morbid fascination with all things college football is ridiculous and probably some sort of social disease. I keep wondering if it's airborne and whether or not I should wear a mask when I come to work.

In non-football-related stupidity, I think folks need to learn how to use their damn turn signals. Lemme explain--the little switch thing on the left side of your steering column? Yeah, that's the turn signal. If you push it up, the right turn signal flashes. Push it down, the left turn signal flashes. These are designed to be used before you turn. Not in the middle of the turn. Not after you've started the turn. Before. In case you're curious, it's to warn other people on the road what it is you're doing so they don't run into you. I swear, if I come across one more dipshit who doesn't know how to use these things, I'm going to go librarian poo.

Tune in next time, when I'll discuss merging onto the interstate and why that doesn't mean "driving 35 MPH" or "coming to a complete stop when no one's coming."

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "In the Dark of the Sun"

Monday, November 03, 2003

"Some Are Dead And Some Are Living"

I heard from a third party last night that an acquaintance of mine, Linda Carcamo, died on Friday. I'm not sure of the details or specifics, other than she apparently drowned, but the news still comes as a shock.

Linda was a year older than me to the day. We always joked about having the same birthday. She was in my graduating class at Ozarks, and she was a bright student. I know she was from Central or South America, but I'm ashamed to admit I don't remember what country exactly.

But that was immaterial. She was a warm, caring individual who never got mad or angry. I never heard her say anything mean or negative to anyone in the four years I knew her. I'm quite sad to say I never got to know her as well as I should have, but you don't really think about that sort of thing when you're college-age, do you? I mean, at eighteen, nineteen, you're pretty certain that you'll live forever, regardless of the evidence. But that's not the case; we're mortal, we're temporary. It just makes me feel almost sick to know that good people like Linda die for stupid, stupid reasons, and evil, cruel people go on living long, comfortable lives. Where's the cosmic, karmic justice? I guess Billy Joel was right when he said "only the good die young," but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with.

To those who knew Linda, my heart is with you. Though I only knew her briefly, and never as well as I wanted, she touched my life in a very positive, reaffirming way, and she will be greatly missed. Others will be able to describe her life more eloquently than I, and in greater detail, but I hope that my words can be of comfort to someone, even if it's only to me.


Song of the Moment: The Beatles, "In My Life"

Sunday, November 02, 2003

"On Certain Sundays In November"

I find it hard to believe it's already November. Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away. Christmas and the New Year are just around the corner. My final semester here at OU is only two and half months away from beginning. It's hard to imagine I've already been here almost a year and a half.

Each day marks the longest I've remained in one place since I started college. Oh, sure, I kept the same dorm room for three years at Ozarks. Even had the same roommate(s), Chris and JP. But we always had to move out for Christmas (though we could leave our stuff there) and completely in the Summer, stuff and all, only to haul it all back up three flights of stairs in August again (and that was always hell, let me tell you). When I started attending OU, I lived at home because I hadn't had time to look for an apartment in Norman. I'd been in Yellowstone all summer and only found out I was attending OU my last day in the park; when would I have had time to apartment hunt? But the last week of September, I found the apartment at Parkview. They let me move in, and I started living there full time the first week of October. I'm still there, having lived in the same place through the summer for once. That's a little odd to me, but comforting, too. It's nice having a single place to always come back to, someplace a bit more permanent than a dormroom.

Don't get me wrong--after three years, that room in McLean Hall was starting to feel like home. We always had the same room, I always had the same bedroom in our room (it was a little modified suite--a common room and two little bedrooms). There was continuity there. We'd hang up the same posters again, though each year there were new additions (I still remember when Chris got the Army of Darkness movie poster. That was one of my favorites). When I left Ozarks, it felt like I was leaving home. Especially since the home I was returning to never did feel like a real home. See, my parents moved over Christmas my Junior year at Ozarks, and the house we moved in to lacked a bedroom for yours truly. I sleep in the study when I go back to Shawnee. It's called my room, but there's always a part of me that feels it's not home anymore. Instead, it's where my parents live. Not to mention the fact that the longest I've actually stayed there since we moved has been about a month. The summer between Junior and Senior year was spent on the road with my dad every week, so I was only home for the weekends. The next summer was spent at Yellowstone, and we left only a week after school got out. So the longest I ever stayed at home was when I came back from Yellowstone and lived there for part of August and September.

So I guess I'm developing an attachment to my apartment, despite its rather ghetto-esque appearance and general feel. The toilet doesn't work well, there's no central air, the heater sounds arthritic, the floors are ancient linoleum that I can't keep clean unless I'm willing to sweep and mop every other day (which I'm not), and I can hear the train every time it goes by or the football game whenever we're having one. Despite all these things, the place kinda feels like home. It fits around me like a second, clunky skin of mortar and concrete and aging building materials. It's not the prettiest or most comfortable place in the world, but it's a place to call my own, a space for me, and I'm content with that.

All of which means I really do not want to move come May. But I'll kinda have to, or in late July/early August at the latest. Why? Because it's on to the next school. May seems like the most likely time to move because that's when my lease ends, and I don't want to have to sign a new one just to stay there a couple of months. But at the same time, I have nowhere to store all the stuff I've accumulated there, no place to put it at home. I'm a bit torn as to what to do, to be honest. But I guess that'll all be taken care of as it comes up. No point trying to burn bridges I haven't crossed yet. No, that sort of behavior is only suitable for bridges that've been crossed, because that means then I can't go backwards.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Rhett Miller, "This is what I do"