Saturday, July 31, 2004

Sweet, Sweet High-Speed Internet Access

Here's an update on my current Arkansian activities...

Ended up not leaving Shawnee until Friday, 'cause Amanda Erisman is better at planning and thinking things over than I am. I'm currently at Heather's parents' house, printing up programs for her wedding tomorrow. 25 or so done, 125 or so to go. It may be a bit of a long night.

It's good seeing my friends and being around them. I'm finally going to be able to get a school notebook back that I loned to a friend of mine three or four years ago. This is good, since they are notes from my Early Modern European History class.

Speaking of history, I finally got an email from my advisor today, and things look favorable. He said there are still some revisions which need to be made, but they're "mostly cosmetic" (direct quote). This makes me quite happy. What doesn't make me happy is that he's out of town until August 16th. Argh. Looks like I'll still be a freakin' Master's student in the Fall...which is annoying, since it was probably only my own laziness which prevented me from completing this on time...that, and my advisor losing my email address and the copy of the Thesis I emailed to him. Ah well.

Anyway, I need to fold more wedding programs. More reports as they become available and I have internet access. Oh, and while I remember--I had a guest comic up over at Digital War. Go lookie. I rather liked it, and War went and linked us 'cause of it.


Song of the Moment: Old 97's, "The Streets of Where I'm From"

Thursday, July 29, 2004

"These Be Seven Curses On The Judge So Cruel"

It's Thursday night, and I'm still in Shawnee, OK.  My plans have changed just a wee bit, but I think it's for the better.  See, originally I was going to go visit my friend Amanda E. today.  But she pointed out that her current location (northern Arkansas) is a hella long drive from here, and a hella long drive to El Dorado, AR, where I need to be tomorrow afternoon for the wedding rehersal.  So Amanda and I are just going to get together sometime next week instead, when she's done with work and I don't have a dozen different places to be and times to be there.  All I can say is that it's a good thing someone out there can plan and think ahead, 'cause I know I sure as hell can't.

So anyway, I'll leave early tomorrow morning for El Dorado, where we have rehersals and dinners and weddings to attend to in the next couple of days.  Got my sleeping arrangements taken care of the majority of the trip (Heather said I could crash at her folks' place Friday and Saturday nights, and Amanda W. said she has a couch I'm more than welcome to crash on for as long as I need).  Now I just have to make the long drives and all that.  At least I won't be having to sleep in the car (like I originally thought I might).

Also found out another friend of mine is engaged to be married this October, Miss Sarah Rosenberg.  She's also apparently back in AR after having finished up her Master's degree in Massachusetts (yeah, some people actually manage to complete theirs on time).

Got to talk with Clif this evening.  He's not really wanting to leave Colorado, from the sound of it.  Not that I can really blame him, mind you--he's spending all his time doing something he loves in an absolutely gorgeous environment.  I'd kill to be in his place.  Sounds like he also doesn't want anything to do with graduate school.  Apparently my experience has made him a little shy of that, and he says he's also just flat-out tired of school.  He's ready to do something else for awhile, though what he doesn't know quite yet.

So I'm sitting here using my dad's laptop to use the internet.  I'd forgotten there are a few things I dislike when dealing with computers--namely, laptop keyboads (I hate them), dial-up, and not having my music collection readily accessible with the click of a button.  On the positive side, he does have an optical mouse hooked up to the machine, and the laptop itself is fairly top of the line, so the slowdown from using dial-up isn't as bad as it could be.  The real annoying thing is that after tonight, I won't have any access for a few days.  At least the comics seem to be updating as they ought to.  Now if only my school email would load.  Stupid dial-up.

Well, time for bed.  Early morning and a long drive ahead of me tomorrow.


Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, "Hard Times in New York Town"

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

"Take Your Straight Line For A Curve"

Just finished up "Peas," the short story I wrote for Adam and Monica for their (I think aborted) effort to create a b-film horror flick about a bag of mushy peas gone very, very bad.  You can find it over at the Live Journal in its entirety.  I think the ending came out pretty well, and I'm pleased with the way the story worked out overall.

On deck for the next short story is one of any half dozen I've got started all over the place.  I probably ought to work on that short story thing I'm doing for Vapor Lock (a story idea Adam had that he tossed my way and which I'm trying to adapt as a short story featuring his characters).  Or I might work on the new Steven Gloryhound story I started the other day that was moving along well.  Or maybe the story I started about the kid who finds the magical sword and goes off on an adventure, whether he wanted to or not.  Or I'd started a second "Everyman" story (the first one is still one of my favorite stories.  I'll probably post it at the LJ next).  Maybe something featuring my vampire hunter, Maxwell Shlumpf.  I dunno--there are so many possibilities.

Anyway, I still have to pack when I get home from work at 5.00.  That could make getting home in time for dinner tonight a toughie.  We'll just have to see how that goes.


Song of the Moment: Matchbox 20, "You Won't be Mine"
"Do You Think You Can Cope?"

So I was purusing the Webcomic List this morning before work, and I noticed that they've classified Dim Bulb now.  See, each comic is lumped into a genre or style, depending on subject matter and art style for the most case.

Now, of all the genres and groupings available, Dim Bulb somehow got put in Manga.  While I have nothing against manga (Japanese comic books)--in fact, I quite like it--Dim Bulb is not manga.  While both Adam and I have manga influences in our art, I follow a decidedly non-manga format (actually, I use a traditional American comic strip format--horizontal panels).  Adam tends to follow a more traditional American comic book style and format, even in Troubled Times, the only comic that could realy even be considered halfway manga.

I'm not really annoyed with the classification per se, but it strikes me as inaccurate.  Ev agrees with me--he thinks we're better defined as Quirky.  Anyway, I'll probably email the guy who runs the list sometime today and talk to him about it.  But Ev did have an interesting point when I discussed this with him--at least on the Internet, it seems anymore that a comic with any sort of action in it is automatically classified as "manga."  Of course, there is the whole chibi element that Adam kept throwing in for several pages in Troubled Times, but that's only one comic of the three on the site, and it's the one that's updated the least.  Ah well--like I said, I'll contact the list guy later today and see what I can do.


Song of the Moment: Matchbox 20, "Mad Season"

Monday, July 26, 2004

"The Highway Is Alive Tonight"

Well, anticipation runs high on my part for the trip to Arkansas this week.  I'm really ready to go and see all my friends.  It's been much too long since the last time we all got to visit, and I get the feeling with so many of them getting married that it'll be a long time before we're all able to meet again.

Been working on Crooked Halo scripts.  Got the next three or four scripted out, and hope to have a few more before I leave.  The only problem right now is that my ink pen is about to die.  I can't go a week and a half without drawing or writing anything while I'm in Arkansas, so I'll have to get some more pens tonight when I go to Target for Scott (they've got a videogame sale going on--a couple of games he wants are only $15, which is a pretty damn good deal).

Ev only has a few more pages of Master's Thesis to read through, and says he'll have it for me tonight.  That means I can get corrections done on it before I leave, which'll be nice.  Just wish I could get ahold of Dr. Hart so he could look at it, too.


Song of the Moment: Bruce Springsteen, "Ghost of Tom Joad"
"It Sucks Me In When You're Aloof"

They went ahead and ended the voting on my battle in the Keenspace Forum Collesium Battle.  I was winning something like 13 to 3, so they called a mercy kill--and then I posted my comic, which involved me making my opponent's head explode by listening to me read history at him.  In fact, because it amused me, the text I used for the history reading was the first few sentences of my Master's Thesis.

Anyway, I guess my next match will be against the winner of one of the two or three other battles going on right now.  For the moment, I'm posting a couple of spectator comics to keep me entertained, and getting ready to leave for a week and a half.

Okay, so there's this thing called the Web Cartoonist's Choice Awards held every year.  It's basically like the Academy Awards of Webcomics.  You have various categories, such as outstanding sci-fi comic, or outstanding color art, or outstanding writing, character design, what-have-you, and then there's some voting by somebody, and winners are chosen.  Well, this year, Count Your Sheep won six of themSix.  That's like...insane.

Of course, Dim Bulb wasn't nominated for anything.  Then again, we average about 125 visitors per day, give or take.  Probably not the numbers you need to get noticed by this group, y'know?  I mean, we're talking the likes of Megatokyo, Penny Arcade, Something Positive, and Mac Hall.  Yeah, I didn't think we could compete with any of them, either, Talon Lueco's insistence that I'm the funniest man alive notwithstanding.

But I'm not worried about that, really--we don't Dim Bulb for recognition and fame and all that.  Well, I don't.  Maybe Adam does, I dunno.  I do Crooked Halo because I enjoy drawing and writing it, I have an attachment to the characters and like working with them.  I like Troubled Times because it's a different kind of story for me, an attempt at a serious story (I'm not usually very good at serious, y'know), and it's fun watching something I wrote get turned into a real comic by someone with some serious talent (whatever one may think of my artistic abilities, drawing Troubled Times in the way it needs to be drawn because of the story is way beyond what I could do).  Really, I'd still want to do the comics even if there were only two or three people reading.  Sure, I'd be disappointed if our readership dropped that much, and I do check our site statistics every day or two, but that's because I also enjoy entertaining people, and I like seeing our numbers go up, because that means more people are being entertained.  And that's a good feeling.

Anyway, off for bed.  I have work in the morning, and I'd hate to be late; especially because Ev said he ought to have the Master's Thesis proofread for me by then.


Song of the Moment: They Might Be Giants, "Ana Ng"

Sunday, July 25, 2004

"Behind My Back Lord, You Made A Fool Of Me"

Well, got all the comics for the next two weeks drawn, scanned, cleaned up, lettered, and uploaded to the server.  Auto-update will take care of everything else, though I'll have to update the Crooked Halo archive when I get home with new archive pages for each comic and all that (the regular archive, which doesn't yet allow for cruising individual series, will have all the'll just have to either read all of Adam's or skip them, however you want to do it).  Anyway, I'm glad I got that taken care of, so it's one less thing to worry about.  I'll probably work on scripts for the rest of the series this evening, and hopefully get the rest of the Yellowstone Saga scripted out before bed. 

Well, off to work on scripts, and probably to exercise--it's too damn nice outside to not take advantage of the weather while it's below 100.


Song of the Moment: Ben Folds Five, "Battle of Who Could Care Less"
"We Were Born Before The Wind"

Well, got all six comics drawn for the coming two weeks, and I'm in the process of scanning them all now.  As I mentioned last time, I'm very pleased with the way they all turned out.  If I can keep up this rhythm, I could get a lot of comics done in a very short amount of time.

There's stil quite a bit to do between now and Tuesday night.  I need to get the apartment cleaned up, the dishes need to be done (preferably today...they've been sitting in the sink entirely too long), I need to pack, I have to work Monday and Tuesday (six hours each day, which is better than not working, let me tell you).  I have begun the most important part of packing--picking out what CDs I'm taking with me.  Clothes are simply there to cover one's body, but the music I'm taking has to last me a week and a half, and keep me awake on the long stretches of boring Oklahoma and Arkansas interstate.  As it stands, I'll probably be driving for about eight hours or so on Thursday, another five to seven on Friday, four or five on Sunday, and who knows how many from there.  I'll need to make sure I've got enough music to keep me entertained during that time.  Here's how the list looks, though it's subject to change at the last minute based on what I decide I want to listen to on Tuesday:

Mutual Admiration Society - Mutual Admiration Society
Beatles - Help!
Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin
Pink Floyd - The Wall (two discs)
Wilco - Summer Teeth
Bruce Springsteen - The Rising
Moxy Fruvous - Live Noise
Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1-3 (three discs)
Gorillaz - Gorillaz
Van Morrison - Moondance
Eagles - The Very Best (two discs)
Counting Crows - Films About Ghosts
David Gray - Sell, Sell, Sell
Barenaked Ladies - Stunt
Mark Knopfler - Sailing to Philadelphia
Glen Phillips - Live at Largo
The Band - Greatest Hits
Tom Petty - Wildflowers
Old 97's - Too Far to Care

Now, that's only 23 CDs, and my case holds 24; what of the other CD?  Well, that'll be a mix CD of my own creation.  I've got a playlist put together that I think I'm happy with.  It goes something like this:

Ben Folds Five - "Battle of Who Could Care Less"
Yoko Kanno & the Seatbelts - "The Egg and I"
Beatles - "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party"
Wilco - "Airline to Heaven"
Allman Brothers Band - "No One to Run With"
Electric Light Orchestra - "Ma Ma Ma Belle"
Otis Redding - "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay"
David Gray - Kangaroo
Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young - "Helplessly Hoping"
Flaming Lips - "The Spark that Bled"
George Harrison - "P2 Vatican Blues (Last Saturday Night)"
Mark Knoplfer - "Hill Farmer's Blues"
Gorillaz - "19-2000 (Soulchild Remix)"
Moxy Fruvous - "Blow Wind Blow"
Better than Ezra - "King of New Orleans"
Radiohead - "Street Spirit (Fade Out)"
They Might Be Giants - "Don't Let's Start"
Tom Petty - "Crawling Back to You"
Tom Lehrer - "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park"
"Chrono Cross End Theme"

Figure an average run time for a single CD is about 45 minutes, give or take a few (some are longer, such as the one I'm making myself, and some are much shorter).  So that gives me roughly 18 hours of music, if I've done my math right.  That might just about last me the whole trip without repeating anything, but I doubt it.  Besides, that's the conservative estimate--most of the CDs I have with me are actually probably longer than 45 minutes a piece, but stuff like each disc of The Wall and the Beatles album are only about 30 minutes each, so that brings down the average.

Anyway, that's probably more music crap than any of you wanted to hear from me, but hey, this is my blog, and I'll post about what I damn-well please.  So nya.


Song of the Moment: ELO, "Ma-ma-ma Belle"
"It Had Momentum, It Was Gaining Traction"

I've been on a roll the past few hours--I got about four comics drawn during that time, and I'm actually pleased with how they look.  This is a rare thing--usually, I'm able to deal with the inadequacies of my art style, and recognize that there are many things which I will never be able to draw, and that I'll probably use the same poses and positions and such for the rest of my artistic life.  But tonight's work was just...well, I feel like what I drew was worthwhile and worth looking at.

I've also noticed my art style is evolving slightly.  See, I originally switched to a sketchy look 'round about the end of October last year, and while I liked the way it allowed me to be looser with my art and more expressive than the smooth lines of my earlier style, I always thought it looked just a bit sloppy (especially when, as often happened, I was very lazy with my linework.  In those instances, what I came up with often looked like crap).  However, it did have advantages over the smooth style--the sketchy look gave the drawings depth and a sense of action and movement, while the smooth style always looked flat and really rather lifeless.  Anyway, I finally figured out what I was really wanting to do, and the sketchy style was simply a step in that direction.  My most recent comics retain the energy and depth of the sketchy style, but are much cleaner in terms of the linework and style.  I rather like it, and my most recent efforts (from tonight) really show off the evolved style well.  Like I said, I'm genuinely happy with the way the comics I drew look.

Anyway, I was very productive with the comics tonight, then--I only need to draw one more to have enough comics to cover my vacation period.  Of course, I've only scanned, cleaned up, and uploaded one comic of the six I need, but four more are drawn, so that's good.  At this rate, I may even be able to draw the Semi-Troubled Times strip Adam wanted me to do for Saturday the 7th of August, since he'll be going off on his honeymoon then.  Oh, and on the subject of Troubled Times--I have to admit, the past few pages of it have been my favorites of the comic thusfar.  Seeing the scene as it plays out in Adam's artwork has been like watching one of my dreams unfold--hell, it basically is watching one of my dreams unfold, or at least one of my stories.  His most recent page, with Teran channeling the Wrath of God and smiting demons left and right, is--in my opinion--among the finest pages he's ever turned out for anything.  And to think it's based on something I wrote (however loosely--I did write a few directions down for actions in this scene, but they're along the lines of "Teran catches a sword with his bare hands and then kills the demon in a really cool way.  Then he punches another demon in the head, shattering that one's skull, and punches a hole through another demon's chest, etc.").  Adam's giving flesh and movement and substance to the skeleton directions I gave him, and it's one of the coolest feelings in the world, seeing that happen.  If only he had time to do more than one page a week (actually, it's probably a good thing he can only do that much, or he'd catch up to what I've scripted much quicker...which reminds me--I need to get back to work on Chapter Three pretty soon).

Anyway, that's enough comic talk for tonight.  It's late/early, I'm goin' to bed.


Song of the Moment: Otis Redding, "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay"
"The Eighties!  They Make My Brain Hurt!"

Okay, so Scott and I have very, very different tastes in music.  We both like rock and roll, but "rock and roll" covers a lot of stylistic territory.  It's a metagenre, an ubergenre which encompasses everything from the Beatles to Bob Dylan to Styx to Pink Floyd to Heart to Journey to the Doors.  It's a catch-all, really.

Anyway, Scott's tastes tend towards the '80s, when everything was slick and smooth and every single note was produced and redone until it was perfect.  That's what the '80s, as a musical decade, was about: getting every note perfect, getting the shine and sheen on the music so that it sparkled and shone and you didn't notice that the lyrics were pretty bland compared to what had gone before.  It was a case of style and form over content and meaning.  And that's fine--genre exercises and stylistic endeavours can be fun, and sometimes it's nice to listen to stuff that has absolutely no substance but which sounds very pretty and very glossy.  But that's about all Scott wants to listen to.

Myself, I've always been more about the substance and the content than the form.  That's why I can stand to listen to musicians like Bob Dylan and Van Morrison and Neil Young; guys who--though they had lots to say and could blend genres and styles and forms like mad geniuses--can't really sing to save their lives.  They're singer/songwriters, and the emphasis was always on the songwriter part of that description.  Besides, I tend to just like music that retains a bit of the rough edges, that keeps some of the rawness to the instrumentation and vocals.  It seems more real, more organic, more human.  Music is a human expression, after all.  That's why I've never been able to listen to most contemporary pop-rock--it's all too glossy, too overproduced and overwrought, until all the life and energy and meaning has been produced out of the music.  I'm not saying music needs to be sloppy, mind you--Dylan had some tight backing bands, Neil Young worked with the folk-rock gods Crosby, Stills, & Nash, and Van the Man has had some of the most consumate musicians to ever play working with him--but they all know how to keep enough of the raggedness in their music to keep it sounding like real people are playing the instruments.

Admittedly, I do like bands such as Radiohead, Pink Floyd, and the Flaming Lips--all of which create carefully thought-out, well-crafted songs--but the key thing about all three bands is that their best moments come when retain a certain organic quality to their music, pushing forward musical boundaries while remembering that it's people who're making the music.

Anyway, the whole point of this rant is that Scott's asked me to download some music for him to put together a CD, since he doesn't currently have much in the way of internet access (my folks figure there's no need to have an internet-ready computer at the house anymore since the kids are all gone).  So I've been having to deal with his taste in music.

What's worse, he's developed the opinion that anything by the artists he likes is good.  This often means their new albums.  Now, while some groups and musicians--folks like Dylan, Van, U2, and Bruce Springsteen--have managed to put out downright phenomenal albums lately, they are the exceptions to the rule rather than what should be expected of everyone.  Folks like Styx and Peter Frampton were good at their peeks, but their peeks occurred about twenty-five, thirty years ago.  Scott is absolutely in love with the latest Styx and Boston albums, and what I've heard of both just made me shake my head--they're trying to reignite that old flame of inspiration, to recapture the glory of their early days, and it's just not working.  They're working with the intent of making a "comeback," and this conscious effort to create something which will get them back in the good graces of the general public is preventing them from crafting good music.  Guys like Dylan and Van have been so successful lately (and by successful I mean they've created albums that are on par with their best work) because they haven't attempted to create music which is epochal or a "comeback" statement.  Ironically, because they haven't been attempting to craft commercial comebacks, they've done very well.

Of course, Scott thinks the new albums by his favorites are absolutely wonderful and on par with their best work, and musical taste is of course very subjective.  However, there are certain things which it is possible to be very objective and positive about--I'm positive there's no world in which the music Britney Spears is making will be popular a decade or two from now.  Already she's really become less a musical figure and more a celebrity, which is an entirely different animal (someone who creates music, a "musician," approaches music as something important in and of itself; a celebrity sees music, television, or motion pictures as a means to an end--celebrity status, pop culture icon status--and thus care very little about what they are making.  They're the ones we don't really care about after their fifteen minutes of fame are over).

All of this to say--I really don't care for the music he's making me download.  My sibling will pay for this in blood.


Song of the Moment: Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, "Helplessly Hoping"

Saturday, July 24, 2004

"Pay No Mind To It"

Went and saw The Chronicles of Riddick last night at the cheap theatre.  It was your typical summer blockbuster/special CGI effects extravaganza, and about what I expected.  Was worth the $1.50 I paid, but I don't think I'd have paid full price for it. It had the same spirit as Pitch Black, but wasn't nearly as neat as that movie.  Some of the CGI was too obviously CGI, but that's what you expect out of a flick like this.  It's a good popcorn movie, and would probably be worth a rental if you're in the mood for Vin Diesel.

It's outside today.  The temperature dropped pretty good yesterday afternoon when I went to go get my car out of the shop, mostly because it started pouring down rain.  Even with my umberella (which I realized I left in Dom's truck), I was still pretty soggy just walking from my apartment door to his truck.  But it did cool things off, and today's simply continued that trend.  It's in the mid-70s out there, with a slight breeze, and about 80% humidity, so it feels a bit thick.  But still, it's nice, if a bit too cloudy for my tastes.  See, when it's cloudy, I tend to not want to get out of bed.  That was the case today, as I didn't drag my sorry butt out of bed until 3.00 pm.

So I figured I need to draw a total of six comics before Tuesday so I have enough done for the coming weeks while I'm gone.  I've got one done so far, and only a couple of days left to do the other five.  But I've got the next several comics scripted out already, so it shouldn't be too much of a hassle getting the five done...I hope.


Song of the Moment: Dandy Warhols, "Minnesoter"

Friday, July 23, 2004

"The Words Are Comin' Out All Weird"

Got the car back this afternoon finally.  Took some doing, though--Dom either had his cellphone off or wasn't answering it for a good part of the middle of the day, and then when I finally got ahold of him and he agreed to give me a lift, it decided to poor down rain.  At least the rain waited until after I'd gone to campus to pick up my paycheck (by bike, mind you), so that was a small blessing.

Looks like my work schedule when I get back from vacation will be nice--I'll actually be working, which is something of a novelty of late.  Hopefully this trend will continue, and I'll even be able to pay rent and stuff in the upcoming months!

Not much to say, really.  It's quiet here at work, and I'm probably getting ready to leave.  Might go see a movie at the cheap theatre tonight--Van Helsing and Chronicles of Riddick are both playing, and either would be worth seeing for $1.50.  I'll go see the former if Ev goes with me, but the latter if I go by myself.  Troy also happens to be playing over there, but you'd have to pay me to go see that stinker.  I'm also craving movie theatre popcorn with lots of butter.  I like popcorn quite a bit, but I don't usually crave it that often, and certainly not the movie theatre variety, which is such a dangerous substance that you can actually hear your arteries clogging and choking as you chew.  But damn if it isn't a tasty way to kill yourself.


Song of the Moment: Radiohead, "The Bends"

Thursday, July 22, 2004

"Have You Really Changed That Much Since School?"

Well, for rather annoying reasons, I was unable to pick up my car this afternoon, despite the fact that it was completed right about the time I figured it would be.

See, I was going to just ask Dom if he could give me a ride over there.  But when I called him up, he was taking Jess to an eye doctor's appointment, and thus couldn't oblige me.

Next I tried calling Audrey, 'cause I knew she had a car.  She wasn't home.

So the only other person I know is Ev, and he doesn't have a car.  But a friend of his had a car, a friend who happened to be coming over to Ev's place this afternoon, same as me.  His friend (Kevin) agreees to take me.  Unfortunately, we spent too much time piddling and chatting at Ev's, so when we tried to go get the car, we had the joy of watching the last guy drive away from the body shop after they'd closed for the day.  So I'll just have to see if Dom can take me in the morning, I guess.  It's not a big deal so much as it's an annoyance and an inconvenience.

I've also spent most of the evening napping, a habit I don't like engaging in.  The problem with napping that late in the day (we're talking 6.30 to 8.30 or so) is that I'm now not going to be tired enough to go to bed at a reasonable hour tonight.  Ugh.


Song of the Moment: Sheryl Crow, "Members Only"
"Set 'Em Up And Let 'Em Fall"

So Wendy tells me that she found out she got hired on as the new drama teacher at Fairfax High School in Fairfax, VA.  She starts in September, but her training starts August 26th.  Her current job ends August 24th.  The point to all this is that she doesn't get to come visit Oklahoma in August like she was planning to do.

The other point is that now she owes me a trip to Cancun.

See, we made a bet a year or two ago that the first one of us to get a teaching job (regardless of the level) would take the other to Cancun.  So now she gets to take me.  Of course, it'll be a while, because she'll need to save up money and she wants me to bring a girl along (since she'll be bringing her boyfriend Tim).  It'll probably take me longer to find a girlfriend than it'll take Wen to save up the money for the trip, but that's okay.

Still waiting to hear back from Ferguson on my car.  I'd like it if they'd let me know within the next hour or so, so I can get the car before I'm supposed to be at Everett's.


Song of the Moment: Pink Floyd and Van Morrison, "Comfortably Numb (Live)"
"Most Of The Time She Ain't Even In My Mind"

I've got a face that just says to strangers, "hey, tell me your life story," don't I?  Why do complete strangers feel compelled to tell me very intimate details of their personal history without me in any way requesting this?

Take this morning, for instance--I took my car in to have the window replaced, and they get one of the mechanics to give me a lift back to the apartment.  On the trip across town, the guy engages me in a conversation not only about music (which I didn't mind until he strayed into a discussion of country), but then it suddenly morphed into a conversation about this guy's trouble with women and how he'd given up drinking back in February.  Congrats and all on the being sober, guy, but is this really something I need to know?  Do I need to know that you, a man the same age as my father, are dealing with girl troubles?  No, I don't.  Knowing this stuff doesn't make it any easier for my window to be fixed, though I guess the guy has a right to be proud of being sober for five months.  But I don't think a customer is the sort of person you're supposed to impart this sort of knowledge to, y'know?  Doesn't really ease my mind to think that he was probably a drunkard the last time he worked on my car.

Anyway, they ought to be done with my car sometime early this afternoon, and at 2.30 I'm supposed to go over to Ev's place to watch the second part of the Joseph Campbell interview we started watching at the beginning of the month.

Also, I've finally heard from one of my professors in regards to my Master's Thesis.  Unfortunately, it was the one who is out of the country and won't be able to look at the thing until mid-August.  That's not really very helpful.  I need to find my advisor's phone number today.


Song of the Moment: Ringo Starr, "It Don't Come Easy"

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

"Sadly Sweet Like A Wilco Song"

It's just a few minutes after 8.00 am, and I'm already at work.  I wasn't scheduled to work until 11.00, but one of my coworkers called me up at 2.30 this morning asking if I'd cover her 8-11 shift.  She didn't really provide much of a reason--I think her exact words were that she had "something else [she] wants to do"--but it's an extra three hours for me, so I'm not going to complain much, even if I did only get three hours of sleep because of her and her inability to plan further ahead.

Thought I saw Megan Garland, an old junior high/high school friend, while I was in the store this morning getting something to drink (caffinated beverages are a Godsend, folks).  I'm not certain it was her, because I never heard her speak and she didn't seem to recognize me, but she was carrying a Beatles purse, had Pink Floyd stickers on her car, and she just looked like Megan.  I know from talking to Jessica that Megan still lives around here, so it very well could have been her.  The rest of the evidence seems to fit, too--back in junior high, she was the only other person I knew my age who liked the Beatles.  In the eighth grade, we actually did a project together on Hypercard (this old Mac program that, in hindsight, was like a really easy-to-use webpage builder) in which we cataloged all their albums and songs, putting together lyrics for the really important ones (often from memory, 'cause we had all the songs memorized), animations of various things (we were excited to get to use the new scanner--a handheld device that was brand freakin' new way back in 1993--and we were particularly proud of our floating Yellow Submarine), and biographies.  We were never necessarily very close, but she was someone I knew who wasn't ashamed to know me (that was a short list in junior high, let me tell you).

My vacation starts next week.  I'm excited--a week and a half just visiting with Ozarks friends, no obligations except standing in one place for the space of an hour or so at various and sundry's gonna be fun.  Have to get some comics cranked out, though, so I don't miss any updates while I'm away.


Song of the Moment: Glen Phillips, "Back on my Feet"

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

"I Have Become Comfortably Numb"
Poor Jess and Dom.  Jessica was feeling ill Friday night after we'd all gone out to eat (in fact, they actually left their leftovers in my fridge...the stuff is still there).  We sat and looked through the 700 pictures (literally that many) from their wedding, then they headed home 'cause she wasn't feeling well.
Well, it turns out that was only the beginning.  They apparently both had tonsilitis.  Bad.  As in they had to visit the emergency room twice on Saturday.
When I talked to Dom this afternoon, he said they were both recovering, but it had been a very long weekend.  Even though they're recovering, he wasn't really up for playing racquetball this afternoon--and to be frank, I'm not all that heartbroken.  I don't want to chance him being contagious or something.
Also called the folks at Fergusson (the place where my car was repaired back last year when that idiot business professor rear-ended me in the parking garage....while my car was parked) to see about them going ahead and ordering the new window and installing it.  The guy said he'd get right on it and call me when the part gets in, so that's taken care of now, thankfully.
Still haven't heard from my advisor or anyone on the Master's Thesis.  I may call him tomorrow if I haven't heard from him by the end of the day...of course, that requires finding his phone number...
Song of the Moment: Fleetwood Mac, "Say That You Love Me"

Monday, July 19, 2004

"Finding More Than One Wind Blows"
I got eleven freakin' hours of sleep last night.
Yeah, eleven.  I haven't gotten eleven hours of sleep in the previous week.  But I got back from my aunt and uncle's place yesterday evening, piddled around for a couple of hours, and then did some reading.  I was sitting in bed, reading my book, and I start to feel tired.  I look over at the clock, which reads 11.00 pm.  I think, "y'know, there's really nothing keeping me awake.  The Master's Thesis has been sent to my committee, so I don't have to stay awake all night working on it.  I could go ahead and go to sleep..."
So I did.  God, it was glorious!
Also found out that the cost of having my window won't be quite as bad as I originally thought.  Turns out the guy I talked to at the glass place on Main Street is a moron and confused the window I needed with one that opens or whatever.  Yeah, the cost of replacing my window with the correct item is something closer to $225--still kinda expensive, but a good $200 cheaper than what the moron thought it'd be.
So yeah, it's been a pretty good day.  Anyway, I'm off to do some writing.  Maybe I can make some headway on "Peas."
Song of the Moment: Toad the Wet Sprocket, "One Little Girl"

Sunday, July 18, 2004

"There's No One Laughing At Your Back Now"
And the second draft is done.  Finally.  Page total this time out was 31 in Times New Roman 12-Point Font.  That's an increase of probably about seven pages from where it stood in the previous draft (if you put the previous draft in Times New Roman, that is--that version was originally in Bookman Old Style, which is quite a big larger.  It was 28 pages in Bookman, and only about 24 in Times New Roman).  So yeah, there was quite a bit added.  I'm rather pleased with what I've put together here.  I just hope my advisor is.
I forgot to mention something earlier--when I was in the library, the microfilm machines didn't agree with me.  When the printer on the first one decided not to work for me anymore, the guy working in the Microform Room came over to work on it for me.  When he couldn't get it to work, I moved over to the next machine.  Then he got out the key to the printer for the one I had moved to, and let me make several copies for free (a copy usually costs 15 cents, or 10 if you use your student ID--SoonerCents, it's called).  So that was rather cool.
Anyway, it's printing off right now.  I've emailed my advisor his copy, but I'm hand-delivering a copy to Ev to proofread for grammatical stuff.  Come to think of it, I probably should have run spellcheck on the damn thing, especially since a good majority of it was written late tonight.  Argh.
Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, "Most of the Time"

Saturday, July 17, 2004

"She'll Take What You Give Her, As Long As It's Free"
Progress note on the Thesis: ran into a bit of a slow-down this afternoon after I finally got all my research notes typed out--I remembered that my advisor wanted me to include some stuff from a primary source I'd mentioned through a different primary source (a primary source quoting/arguing with another primary source...wee.  He wanted what the original said, so as to know the guy I was quoting wasn't just making shit up, as it were).  Well, they had the document on microfilm over at the library.  Wonderful--that means I can get it.  But there was a snag--in order to get a copy of it, I needed some cash to get photocopies, and I had none.  So I had to run to Wal-Mart to get some money (and some batteries for my discman).  Then I had to go somewhere to break the twenty, 'cause there was no way I was gonna put that whole thing on my ID for photocopying and stuff.  So anyway, I was up against a deadline, 'cause I realized I needed to do this around 4.30, and the library closed at 6.00 today.  So I rushed--and made it.  Got my money, got my source, and I'm going over it now to figure out what to include.
Well, back to the grind.
Song of the Moment: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, "Built to Last"
"Walked Into A Tenth-Avenue Freeze-Out"
Got my notes finished up.  Printing them out as we speak.  That means I'm ready to start writing.
Only had a couple of interruptions so far--my mom called to talk (read: yell at me) about some stuff, including my spending habits (which are admittedly atrocious); I had to eat breakfast; talked with Amanda Erisman on Messenger for a bit (though admittedly, I was still typing notes on Hobbes at the same time--I can multi-task!), and found out that Sarah Rosenberg is apparently engaged; I saw some pretty dust floating in the air, and had to watch that for a while (sometimes anything can be distracting, if you want to be distracted enough).
Now it's time to integrate what I've got with what I had.  Dunno how well this will work, or how unwieldy the finished product will be.  Guess we'll find out.
Song of the Moment: Toad the Wet Sprocket, "One Wind Blows"
"I'm Staring Out The Window Of The St. James Hotel"
Alright, it's currently 11.50 am.  I've got roughly thirteen or fourteen hours' worth of useful time on my hands during which to get my second draft of the Master's Thesis completed.  I will have it done before I go to bed tonight.  I'm getting my playlist set (I want there to be plenty of tunes for this so I don't get bored with the music that's playing), I'm clearing away my workspace, and I'm preparing my mind for churning out history.  Wish me luck.
~chaos cricket
Song of the Moment: Radiohead, "Gagging Order"

Friday, July 16, 2004

"Something In My Veins Bloodier Than Blood"
So the anger I had at my window being smashed in is now a searing, blinding, white-hot rage.  I've calmed down a little over the past couple of hours since I came to work, but not much.
Why am I so pissed?  I found out how much they want to replace that little window: $430.
Yeah, that's right: $430.  For a window about half a foot by two feet in size.
I don't know who it was who smashed my window.  I don't know why the did it--probably just for a lark, or to be destructive and malicious.  Frankly,  I don't really care why they did it.  What I care about is that because of their callousness, because of their disrespect for other people and other people's property, I now have to shell out nearly $500 to get a little fucking window replaced.  The sheer absurdity of this--that I, as a victim of random vandalism, now have to pay for being a vicitim--pisses me off so much, I can hardly see straight.  I've accomplished nothing today because of all this.  I hold that nameless stranger responsible for all of this, and I hope that if he or she is caught, I get a chance to prosecute them.  Because I damn well didn't have the money to pay for this right now, but I'm sure as hell not just going to leave a gaping hole in my window like that.
On top of all that, there's a chance of rain tonight and tomorrow.  Reality's just trying to shit on my parade today, you know?
Song of the Moment: Wilco, "In a Future Age"
"Walking On Broken Glass"
Well, I had a nice little wake-up call this morning.
I was sitting at the computer, checking email and getting ready to have a quick bite of breakfast, when the phone rang.  It was the OU Police.  At first, I was afraid I'd done something wrong, though I couldn't recall anything I'd done in recent past or why they'd be calling me on it at 7.00 am.  But it turns out someone had smashed in one of my car windows late last night/early this morning.  That was loads of fun to discover.  Apparently mine wasn't the only car vandalized--a couple of others in my complex's parking lot also had windows smashed, and the other car that I saw had a major window completely smashed in, whereas I only suffered a fist-sized hole in the small half-window in the rear passenger door (thank goodness for small favors, eh?).
Thankfully, nothing was taken out of my car...not that there was a lot in the car, and nothing worth taking, but the sort of asshole who would smash in a window for a lark isn't above rummaging through someone's stuff and randomly taking any of it.  But oddly enough, after having gone to the effort of even breaking the little window, they didn't even bother trying to open the door or anything.  Well, they might have, but they must've been really conscientious if they did--the door was locked, none of the glass sitting on the armrest had been disturbed or moved, and they left everything inside the car exactly as it had been.  Somehow, I have my doubts they actually wanted to break in, and instead simply wanted to cause destruction.

I'll never be able to understand the sort of mentality that is necessary to find this sort of malicious destruction of personal property entertaining or amusing.  Obviously some people are entertained by vandalism, but I'll be damned if I can see where the pleasure in it is.  As it stands, I'm annoyed as hell, because now I have to pay money because someone else was a fucking asshole and struck out at my car completely at random.  I'm nearly 100% convinced that it's completely at random, because I don't think I have any enemies here at OU, and if I do, I don't think they necessarily know what car I drive, and where I live, and that they'd also go around smashing in other car windows as well as mine.  If I'm dealing with an enemy, they're very clever, and if that is the case, I would seriously kick their ass when I found who they were.
But no, I have to deal with effects of some random idiot's asanine behavior now, which means shelling out money I don't have to pay for something I shouldn't have to replace.  But such is life, eh?
~chaos cricket
Song of the Moment: Counting Crows, "Round Here (Live)"

Thursday, July 15, 2004

"Then He Giggled In French, That's What He Did"
Work on the thesis proceeds well.  I'm not really able to do a whole lot on it while I'm here at work, because the books I brought with me aren't what I needed.  But I didn't completely waste my time--I looked up some other sources that I'll grab from the library before I head home.  I just hope they're actually there.
Whenever I go to work or out and about, I usually carry a small, six-CD carrying case.  It came with the Jimmy, apparently, and just sat there for the three years my mom drove the car.  It's nice and compact, and thus ideal for sliding into my schoolbag.  Anyway, it's current contents are:
Mutual Admiration Society - Mutual Admiration Society
Wilco - Summer Teeth
Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin
Counting Crows - Across a Wire (Live in NYC)
Elliot Smith - Either/Or
What's striking about that list is the complete and total lack of anything Classic Rock.  Admittedly, bands like the Counting Crows are roots rock, and thus rely heavily on classic rock styles and themes.  The Crows owe a lot to the music of Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and the Byrds.  The Wilco album is almost a blatant homage to the Velvet Underground.  The Flaming Lips owe a lot to bands like Pink Floyd and Sgt. Pepper's era Beatles.  MAS has a folky, acoustic feel that you just can't help but love.  Elliot Smith falls somewhere between Wilco and Glen Phillips's solo work, only much darker than either.
But all of these albums were released within the past decade (1997 for Either/Or, 1998 for Across a Wire, 1999 for both The Soft Bulletin and Summer Teeth, and this past Tuesday for Mutual Admiration Society).  I've noticed that the older I get, the more my musical tastes evolve.  I still love the music I grew up listening to--nothing will ever be better than the Beatles, and albums like A Hard Day's Night and Help! and Rubber Soul are infinitely superior to 99% of the stuff that's released today, and at least as good as the other 1%.  It's not that I've abandoned the music of my youth, simply that I've added to it.  I've built upon the foundation that music laid.  The bands I've added have many elements in common with the bands I've loved for years--great lyrics, catchy melodies, and especially a willingness to explore music as not just a pleasant noise, but a method of personal expression.  Keep in mind that as I've started listening to more contemporary bands (or bands which are more contemporary, however you want to interpret it), I've also started listening to more classic rock.  I've developed my obsession with Dylan in only the past few years, and I've started listening to Van Morrison, and the Band and the Allman Brothers and various others.
Like I said, nothing's been abandoned, just added to.
~chaos cricket
Song of the Moment: Counting Crows, "Catapult (Live)"
"For The Sake Of The World Just Forget About Me"

We are gathered here to mourn the passing of my Union Jack keychain.

It broke sometime today after work, the plastic loop which hung from the metal ring finally giving way after constant use for about seven years. I'm sad to see it go, especially because of the memories attached to it.

The keychain was given to me by Wendy early in our senior year of high school. She'd gone to Europe for a few weeks that summer with her sister, and brought it back because she knew I liked England (yes, even then I was an Anglophile. What can I say? They had the Beatles). It was a simple plastic keychain with the Union Jack (the British flag, FYI) in it. I immediately began using it, and haven't stopped since until today.

The keychain's seen some wear and tear over the past seven years. It's rather banged up, worn, and the plastic isn't nearly as clear and clean as it once was. But it was still on my set of keys, a constant item in my pocket, a familiar weight there and a comfort in a strange way.

I liked that keychain mostly because it reminded of that which I love--not only England, but Wendy. She's my best friend, and has been for almost seven years now. Admittedly, I don't need a physical reminder of these things--they're ground into my personality and soul in a way that they cannot be removed. But it was nice to have a tangible item to remind me, and I'll miss that.

Now, my key ring consists of the remote to my car, various keys, several of the metal rings (four, to be exact--though the one from the Union Jack keychain has nothing on it now), and my Ozarks Outbackers keychain, which the indomitable Amanda Erisman convinced me (read: smile pretty and said "Chuck, you know you want a keychain") to buy.

Yeah, this post was kinda weird, but sleep deprivation and a Master's Thesis will do that to you.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Mutual Admiration Society, "Comes a Time"

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

"Isn't It Good Again?"

Just picked up Mutual Admiration Society, an album by Glen Phillips (formerly of Toad the Wet Sprocket and one of my favorite musicians) and Nickel Creek. I'm not quite through the entire album yet, but I wanted to share my thoughts on what I've heard so far (there's only a track or two left, so I feel I have a fairly good idea what the set feels like).

This is, to be honest, a wonderful collection of originals and covers. The entire album was rehersed, recorded, and mixed in six days back in December 2000. Due to record company issues, they were unable to release it until now, and it was well-worth the wait. The performances are tight and beautiful, despite the speed with which the album was put together. Their musicianship is mellow and understated, with melodic and subtle instrumentation. Glen and the kids from Nickel Creek turn in great vocal performances as well, perfectly capturing the mood of these songs.

Overall, this is a very laidback album, and it captures the spirit of fun and joy evident throughout perfectly. Stylistically, the music is very much in the Nickel Creek form, though the original songs on the album were written by Glen. It does sound like Glen's solo work as well; almost like an acoustic version of his first solo outing. To be honest, the style falls somewhere between the two, and it is a warm, inviting sound that simply melts into your consciousness without your hardly noticing.

All in all, I highly recommend the album to anyone who likes either Glen's solo stuff or Nickel Creek. You won't be disappointed. This is some of the finest Americana out there.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Mutual Admiration Society, "Sake of the World"
"Right Now All I Got's This Lonesome Day"

Well, with Everett's help, I've managed to turn a so-so introduction into a strong paragraph that actually sets up my argument clearly and effectively. I'm glad to have that taken care of, because Lord knows it was creating a huge mental block and preventing me from writing anything else.

I'm sitting here at work, operating on about an hour's worth of sleep (sometime between 8.00 and 9.00 o'clock this morning), and trying to concentrate long enough to type up some research notes. I've got a couple of my books with me, and I've realized there's some other stuff I need to look up (need to find Hobbes's Leviathan, maybe some Lockean social contract theory, and a couple of other things), but for the most part all I need to do is look through my new research, and then write. Writing will actually be the easy part now. I'll probably even be excising a few sections of the original text, because the stuff is irrelevant to my central argument, or because I don't like what I've got. We'll just have to see.

After work, I'm going home to catch a few hours of sleep, then it's back to work on the thesis. I'm determined to have this thing done by Friday. I will have this thing done Friday.

I have to, really.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: XTC, "Senses Working Overtime"
"Come On, Rise Up"

It's 5.00 am, and I should be asleep. I'm not. I think stress is finally starting to kick in; a sort of fear is overtaking me and kick-starting my brain, making me do the things I should have done ages ago.

To put it another way--I'm finally starting to do some work on the second draft of the Thesis. Got the new introduction written, and it's significantly better, though it's still a little weak in places.

Tomorrow (well, later today), I'm going to finish all the grammatical corrections. Then I'm going to start going through the other books I checked out for research. I hope to have that done before I go to bed Wednesday night. I hope to have the second draft completed before I go to work Friday night at 5.00 pm. This may or may not be realistic, but I have got to get this thing done. If I have to have another draft of this paper after this one, with such extensive changes as this draft requires...I won't be able to get it done in time to have it finished for summer graduation. With me being gone for a week in early August, and then gone for a good part of the next week after that, I have to have this thing finished in just under two weeks. That includes defending it. That's not much time.

I should go try to get some sleep. I have work later this morning, and I'd like to get something done while I'm there.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Bruce Springsteen, "My City of Ruins"

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

"Look At The Sun"

Ever notice the recurring sunrise imagery in pop music? You've got the first line of Dylan's "Tangled up in Blue": "Early one morning the sun was shinin'." The Beatles had "Here Comes the Sun" and "Good Day Sunshine." Donovan began his song "Sunshine Superman" with the line "Sunshine came softly through my window today." The Eagles have "Tequila Sunrise;" Smashmouth have a tune called "Then the Morning Comes;" The Call have "Let the Day Begin." There is a recurring theme of renewal and new beginning in most of these songs. "Tangled up in Blue" recounts an almost soap opera-esque love affair featuring a cast of several characters, all remembered while the narrator lies in bed reminiscing. It ends with hope:

Now I'm going back again, I've got to get to her somehow
All the people we used to know, they're an illusion to me now
Some are mathematicians, some are carpenters' wives
Don't know how it all got started, I don't know what they do with their lives
But me I'm still on the road, heading for another joint
We always did feel the same we just saw it from a different point of view
Tangled up in blue.

Both Beatles tunes deal with the narrator's joy at seeing the sun again, either after a cold, dark winter (in the case of "Here Comes the Sun") or even just after a night (as with "Good Day Sunshine"). There is a simple joy in seeing the bright light, in feeling the warmth of the sun on their skin. They feel fresh, clean, and new.

Donovan's song is something of a stream-of-conscience rambling, though the opening line does present more of the renewal imagery. He claims he could "drift off easy" lying there in his room with the sunlight streaming in, but he's "changed [his] ways." With the new day comes new determination to be a better person, a different person.

The Eagles' "Tequla Sunrise" is somewhat darker, relating a man's sorrowful drinking over a woman who has wronged him. The rising sun causes him to look back on the relationship through a haze of alcohol. In this case, the rising sun is not simply a sign of renewal. Instead, it represents a clear sign that life, regardless of what has already happened, continues on, though it still "looks the same" to the narrator. He does not get his renewal, nor does he receive a sense of hope from the rising sun. Instead, it just reminds him that, despite his heartache, the world goes on as it ever did.

The Smashmouth song "Then the Morning Comes" takes the renewal metaphor in a different direction. The narrator addresses a woman who views the world as a stage upon which she is the center of attention, a born party-goer for whom "every single day is just a fling," but "then the morning comes," and she is forced to deal with reality. It is less a renewal and more a rude wake up call--the female character dreads the morning rather than revels in it. Coincidentally, she is portrayed in a negative, almost condescending manner by the narrator, as though she were behaving in a fashion which was clearly against common sense.

The Call's "Let the Day Begin" is a benediction to the sunrise, a glorying in the rising orb of light that heats this world. The singer rattles off a list of the various people who, in own little ways, make life worth living or sacrifice their lives to the betterment of mankind. He praises these individuals, and thanks them for their ability to get up every day and go out there to work. The beginning day is a sign of celebration, and a call to action.

There are many, many more pop-rock songs which use the sunrise imagery. It's a common theme in music--the renewal, the casting off of the past to pursue the future, the pure joy at the warmth and light of the returned sun. Though no two musicians treat the symbol in the same manner, it is still almost as common as a song about unrequited love. The sunrise and the returned sun are a common thematic symbol in pop music, and can be one of the more uplifting metaphors for our lives available.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: The Beatles, "Here Comes the Sun"

Monday, July 12, 2004

"I Stood Up And I Said Yeah!"

I'm already ready to go home already. Work's pretty quiet, though we do actually have a student in here(!), something that's a rare occurance during the summer.

Part of me is wanting to go play racquetball (an activity which would require getting ahold of Dom and Dom actually wanting to play as well). Another part of me just wants to go collapse in the apartment and sleep for a couple of days (I didn't get much sleep over the weekend because...well, because Scott doesn't know how to go to bed before dawn, and I had to wake up relatively early both days I was home). All of me is just tired of sitting in this damned room.

Oh, I picked up the Flaming Lips album The Soft Bulletin. It's a great set, filled with the sort of good stuff you expect from the Flaming Lips--quirky rhythms and instrumentation, cryptic and surreal lyrics, and a throaty yelp for vocals by Wayne Coyne. Good stuff, and highly recommended. Tomorrow, Mutual Admiration Society--a collaboration between Glen Phillips (formerly of Toad the Wet Sprocket) and Nickel Creek--is released, and I'm looking forward to that disc (it was recorded three or four years ago, but they couldn't release it because of record company crap. Highly anticipated in certain circles). So that's exciting.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Flaming Lips, "Race for the Prize"
"A Gathering Of Angels Appeared Above My Head"

Well, the Frampton/Styx concert was a pretty good show. Frampton was rather self-depricating and humorous, and I think he's a little disappointed with his fall from the heights of rockstardom to being a third-tier act who opens for a band like Styx. Don't get me wrong, his classic stuff is still great, and even some of his newer tunes (he insisted on playing some of them) weren't half-bad, but he's already jumped the shark, really.

Styx was in fine form, though, denying that they've aged at all. They still act like the young rockers they were when they began, playing epic guitar god as though they were still one of the biggest bands in the world. It's a little silly seeing the forty-somethings behave like that, striking the poses and all, but they still put on a good show. Styx weren't just playing music; they were giving a performance, and a rather theatrical one at that. But I knew more of the Styx tunes than I did the Frampton tunes.

I think I'd have to classify those two bands--and groups like REO Speedwagon--as a sub-genre of classic rock. Yes, they're all classic rock bands, and decent ones at that, but they're what I'd call "yuppie rock." It's very polished, somewhat flamboyant and showy stuff. They go for chugging, epic chord progressions, striking the guitar god poses, and and the lining up and swaying back and forth thing that a certain type of guitarists are wont to do. This is the style of music that my youngest brother, Scott, prefers to any other.

Myself, I like my rock and roll to be a bit grittier, a bit rougher around the edges. I don't like it to always be polished to a high sheen, to the point that most of the life and energy is sucked right out of the song. Some of the stuff Scott listens to is so over-produced, it could have been performed by robots. No, my tastes tend towards musicians of the Bob Dylan and Van Morrison vein, guys who you know are very much alive when they perform. After all, rock and roll was about energy, enthusiasm, bucking authority and playing it loud, fast, and hard (punk borrowed this later, of course). Sure, Dylan and Van the Man may have their softer moments, and maybe Dylan started out as an acoustic guitar-strumming folkie, while Van does all the jazz-inflected pop ballads, but they both know how to rock out harder than bands like Styx will ever understand (listen to Dylan's three mid-sixties electric albums, or Van's stuff with Them--you'll know what I mean).

Anyway, the next concert on the list is Dylan and Willie Nelson in September, which I purchased tickets for on Saturday. I'm excited about that one--I'm an even bigger Dylan fan now than I was the last time I saw him (almost three years ago), so I stand a 50/50 chance of actually knowing most of the songs he plays.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Flaming Lips, "Waitin' for a Superman"

Saturday, July 10, 2004

"And I Don't Know How Much Longer I Can Wait"

Ordered Dylan tickets for me and dad this morning. They were a bit more expensive than I was given to believe they were, mostly because of handling fees and whatnot. I swear, you'd think that the fact they charge at least $45 or $50 per ticket already would be enough, but then they add on another ten dollars or so of fees per ticket (ours came to a total of $109.75). Ah well--I get to see Dylan in September now. Woot!

Now I must be off. Gonna hang out with Ev for a while before heading to Shawnee for the night. Laundry, free food, and being pestered by my youngest brother--another typical Shawnee visit.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Flaming Lips, "Waitin' for Superman"
"It's Just An Illusion Caused By The World Spinning 'Round"

I've been on a big Flaming Lips/Wilco/Bob Dylan kick the past few days. It's as though every CD or even song I listen to is by one of those three bands. I think the next CD I want to buy (after Mutual Admiration Society, the collaboration between Glen Phillips and Nickel Creek, which comes out next week!) will probably be the Flaming Lips' The Soft Bulletin. All the songs I've heard off of it have been excellent; wonderfully crafted epics with tempo shifts, mini-suites, and elegance woven into them.

Went and had lunch with Audrey. She was charming and bright, as per usual. I swear, I don't know that girl nearly as well as I'd like, but every time I've encountered her, she's always had a smile on her face and nice things to say about anybody and everybody. She's a genuinely good person; or, as Everett phrased it (and I think this is probably what I was trying to express when I described her to him), she's a virtuous person. You don't meet many of them these days, but Audrey is one. So's Beth, come to think of it--people for whom their convictions are exceptionally important and heartfelt, whose morals and ethics are strong and well-grounded, and who don't let any of that stuff get in the way of being genuinely nice and glad to see people. I always leave a meeting with people like Audrey feeling like I should be a better person and that I don't deserve to be in their presence. That's really what it boils down to--there are several people--most of them female--whom I know and feel not only privileged to know, but that I'm somehow not fully worthy of being their friend, that I'm some mucky sewer-dweller who's been granted an audience by a holy person.

I've been playing twenty questions (or a variation thereof) with Mel online most of the evening, just for the fun of it. Basic stuff, like favorite movies, scariest moments, etc. It's an amusing diversion from the crap I should be doing.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Flaming Lips, "The Spark that Bled"

Thursday, July 08, 2004

"I Was Chewin' Gum For Something To Do"

Played racquetball today for the first time in a couple of years. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy that game. It's a good workout, entertaining, and you leave feeling like you've accomplished something (even if that something is having bashed a small rubber ball against a wall repeatedly). It's also kinda theraputic (see comment about bashing the ball). Dom's not real good yet, but then again, this was his first time to play. I'm sure by the end of the summer, he'll probably be able to beat me, 'cause I'm not really that good.

Pretty quiet day today. Been sitting here at work, bored out of my mind. Almost left at 7.00 because I didn't realize it was only 7.00. I had my bag packed and ready to go, and then glanced up at the clock and realized I still had an hour to go. I may duck out early anyway, just because I don't feel like sitting here by myself for another half an hour, and I doubt very seriously that anyone will show up.

Talked to Beth briefly today. She's doing well, it sounds like, and will be heading to the youth camp she always works at during the summer for a couple of weeks this weekend. She sounds excited, and is apparently glad to be getting the hell out of home for awhile, a sentiment I can easily understand.

I'm starting to try to figure out the logistical issues with the trips I'm taking at the end of the summer. I'm going to have to come up with the money not only for August's rent, but for gas to get me to Arkansas and back, to Florida and back, for food while I'm in Arkansas and on the way to and from Florida (I'm hoping to convince various friends to cook for me some while I'm in AR, and we're going to try to do the picnic thing my family always does on the trip to Florida), two wedding presents, lodging on the way back from Florida (there's no way I can drive for 18 hours straight by myself), etc. We also still need to figure out a route for the Florida trip, though I think Dom's already started looking at that.

Tomorrow is payday, thank goodness. At least this one's a decent check, and I'll be able to deposit over $100 tomorrow (it's sad that I think of that as a "decent check." I really need more hours). Tomorrow is also when I'm going to have lunch with Audrey, an old friend from Ozarks who also happens to attend OU (about three or four of us ended up here by chance and coincidence, oddly enough. It's a small world after all).

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Wilco, "I'm a Wheel"

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

"The Evolution of Annoyance"

Remember when you could surf the internet without pop-ups, viruses, and spyware popping up on every page you visited? Remember when you could check your email without having to sift through hundreds of spam every time? Do you, in fact, remember when using the internet wasn't something which annoyed you?

Back when I first started frequenting the internet, about the only pages you got pop-ups on were the porn sites (don't ask me how I know this). Gradually, other sites began including them, 'cause there was money in it. Then they started coming up with the pop-unders, which are even more annoying because you can't just kill 'em as they come up. No, you have to fiddle with crap on the taskbar to get to those windows, then you can get rid of them.

Then we got this damn spyware. I don't know who thought that would be a good idea, but it pisses me off. And the damn stuff with hijacking one's browser and redirecting it to a different page, or setting your home page as something other than what you wanted it pisses me off.

The point is, it's getting to where surfing the internet is more of an annoyance and a nuisance than something fun anymore. Email's becoming more hazardous with not only spam, but viruses which masquerade as emails from other people; that can duplicate other people's email addresses and trick you into thinking it's actually something from someone you know. You can't actually trust anything or anyone anymore, and that's sad. Even telephones, with their telemarketers and bizzare long distance plans, never had it this bad.

It's really almost as bad as the fact that you have commercials--not previews, freakin' commercials--before movies at the theatre anymore. I mean, what the hell? I went to a movie so I could see the movie without commercials! And I swear, the worst one is that Fanta commercial. If I ever meet the people who were in or who made that cursed piece of garbage, no one will ever find the bodies...

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: David Gray, "Magdalene"

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

"You Stop, You Blink And You're Blue"

I'm having internet issues. No, not issues with the internet not working--thankfully, the network is behaving quite well, and I have no problem with basic access.

No, the problem is something I cannot understand. Two problems, really. The first is that every so often, when I'm trying to load a page (even one out of my favorites), I get redirected to this page labelled "PerfectNav." When I go to a different page or try to access the page I was originally going to again, it sends a couple of pop-ups, and often just redirects me to the PerfectNav page again. I've run Ad Aware, and couldn't pick anything up, so I'm buggered if I know what's causing it.

The second problem may or may not be related, though I'm inclined to believe it's unrelated because this was happening long before the PerfectNav stuff started happening. See, I've arranged my Favorites to my liking. I've got all the webcomics I read divided up into different folders based on update frequency (those which update seven days a week, those which update five, three, once, sporadically, etc.). It's a very effective method, since I have so many damn webcomics on my reading list; this way, I know what I need to read and when.

There are other links--most of them not webcomics--which are just out in the Favorites folder and not in any of these sub-folders I created. Every once in a while (more often now than before), a folder is randomly generated by IE (I assume) that is simply labelled "Links." It's an empty folder, but it's annoying me because it isn't...tidy, I guess (I'm a neat-freak with things like this. Not with a bunch of other stuff in my life--say, the condition of my apartment or doing the dishes--but in this, I am). This wasn't a big deal in the past, because the Links folder would maybe pop up once a month, or every couple of weeks at most. I'd delete it, and that'd be that. But now it's popping up virtually every time I open the Favorites folder, and this annoys me. I keep deleting it every time, and it keeps coming back. Last night alone (this isn't including the day), I had almost 30 of the damn things. I don't know if the PerfectNav thing is compounding my problem, or is completely unrelated, but it's really starting to annoy me.

So, yeah, if anyone knows what the hell is wrong here, I'd appreciate hearing from you.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Counting Crows, "American Girls"

Monday, July 05, 2004

"You're Gonna Carry That Weight"

In light of the previous post, this one seems more...poignant, perhaps? No, sadder, more disturbing; yes, that's it.

I was at Wal-Mart awhile ago, picking up some random groceries to tide me over until I go home this weekend and raid the cupboard while mom and dad are out of town (hey, I was told said she specifically left some food for me, so there). Anyway, I'm wandering down the chip aisle, thinking of caving to my craving for Pringles. As I amble, I come across a mother and her young son (around 10 or so). To establish the scene:

Wal-Mart, for reasons I do not fully fathom, puts the Slim Fast-type stuff right next to the potato chips. Same damn aisle. It's like a way to test and annoy people, I think. Here we have me, ambling down the aisle in my sandals (which are shoes that're naturally predisposed to creating a shuffling gait, I've noticed--everyone shuffles and drags their feet in sandals. But I digress). The mother appears to be late-30s, slightly heavyset, but not disgustingly so. Her son, as previously mentioned, was about ten...and was a plump little butterball. "Rounded" is a term that comes to mind. Now, at the age of ten, most kids are kinda stretched out a little more, not so compressed, and pretty scrawny in their post-babyfat years. Not so this child. Not only was the babyfat still there, it'd been joined by childfat.

Now, the mother is standing there with her child, talking with him and holding a box. As I get closer, I see that it's a box of Slim Fast snack bar things. As I take a sudden interest, I hear that she's trying to convince him to try them. This gave me pause--a woman thought her son was overweight enough that he needed to take Slim Fast.

My response--which I sadly kept to myself--was "don't give the kid Slim Fast! Get his fat ass outside and make him run around for awhile instead of playin' freakin' videogames all day!"

Now I'll be the first to admit--as I did earlier today--that I'm rather overweight myself. But my response to this is to exercise and try to watch what I eat better (yeah, I know, the Pringles aren't the best idea for that, but hey--I rode the bike around campus twice this afternoon in the 100 degree heat index, so I think I deserve a bit of a, I'm quitting soda pop tomorrow cold turkey). I tried Slim Fast a couple of years ago. All it did for me was leave me feeling hungry every night. The way those damn things help you lose weight is that they replace a full meal with a 200 calorie drink. If you reduce the number of calories you're taking in per meal that drastically, of course you'll freakin' lose weight! You don't have to drink the damn shakes or whatever, just drink a big glass of water or eat a bowl of plain rice instead.

But I think it says something that the woman's response to the problem of her child's weight wasn't to address the root of the issue--his lack of exercise and the fact that he probably drinks soda pop every day and eats too much fast food--but to attempt a band-aid cure for the symptoms. Most of American society is like that right now, I think. We see violence in schools, and our response isn't to wonder what psychological reasons are there for these children to want to shoot their classmates, but to look at the videogames these kids were playing or the music they were listening to. I've been playing violent videogames, listening to angsty music, and watching sex and violence on TV and in the movies for about two decades now, give or take, and I'm sure as hell not about to go out and shoot up my school (though don't think it's not tempting, as assanine as the OU administration is sometimes). Videogames don't make children violent. Nor does music, television, or movies. No, these things have the chance of bringing out violence in those who have such tendencies already, but are not in and of themselves the cause of said violence. People were brutally murdering each other long before videogames came into existence. The root of that problem--and the root of the overweight kid at Wal-Mart's problem--lies with the parents, and the fact that parents are not paying enough attention to their damn kids. If parents would take notice of what sorts of things their children are interested in--the games they want to play, the music they listen to, the movies they see, the people they hang out with--then maybe, just maybe, parents would be able to catch issues before they become problems. In short, parents ought to be parents, and exercise a bit of interest and control in their childrens' lives. Letting kids be "free" is one thing, but that sort of hippy clap-trap taken to an extreme by conservative limp baby boomers who are too damn busy counting their money to notice their kid is messed up in the head need a swift kick in the ass.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Elliot Smith, "Alameda"
"Given The Hopeless Nature Of Our Times"

In a similar vein to Adam's comic from last Thursday, I present the following note.

There are certainly some fashions which should not to attempted by folks of a rather...heavy bodyweight. Just because spandex can stretch that far doesn't mean it should. And just because they make something in your size, that does not mean you should wear it.

Though there is some question about whether or not it actually "fits" if you're bulging around the edges of the clothing.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, certain folks should not be allowed out in public without clothing; for instace, old and overweight men.

Now admittedly, I'm not the most physically attractive person in the world. I've got more gut than is necessarily desirable, and I'm out of shape and--not to put too fine a point on it--kinda fat. But I have the decency to wear a shirt in public, even if it's hot. I was subjected to a spectacle that no human being should have to endure on the 4th of July, though--old men without shirts. Wrinkly, rolling skin that could damn-near give its owner a black eye. And there were several men of this nature running around the park in Norman yesterday. It just ain't right, I'm telling you.

So, in closing, I beg you folks--think about things before you do them. If your body isn't fit for the human eye, keep your damn shirt on. I know I am.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Flaming Lips, "Thank You Jack White (for the Fiber-Optic Jesus you gave me)"
"Somewhere Your Fingerprints Remain Concrete"

Questions to ponder--how is it the people who do crappy webcomics can somehow manage to afford to pay for advertisement? Why are other comics and sites allowing said crappy comics to advertise? Why is it Adam and I are so damn poor? If we weren't so poor, we could afford advertising with popular sites.

What advertising would actually get us--aside from the possibility of increased readership, which currently wouldn't mean a whole lot except more readers--is still a question I myself am pondering.

Okay, done with the whiney griping/bitching. I'm gonna go for a bike ride now.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Dire Straits, "On Every Street"
"Should've Been In Love"

My uncle's band put on a good show yesterday afternoon, though it was almost too hot to sit out there and listen (even when sitting in the shade). But they played some good music, and I got fed afterwards, so I wasn't gonna complain.

After the show and dinner, we went back to my aunt and uncle's place and just sat around chatting and playing guitars (well, my uncle and his bandmate Joe played guitars...I made a vain effort to sing a couple of songs, but I'm thinking I need to actually prepare for these things in the future so I don't make a fool of myself). Also got a call from my mom, though the phone was so staticky that I couldn't hardly understand a word she said, and vice-versa. But it sounds like they're having fun up in the Pacific northwest, so that's good.

Dim Bulb Comics has been added added to a website called The Webcomic List, which is a resource that tracks when webcomics update and lists all the updates for a given day. It also has a function which allows us to put up a synopsis for Dim Bulb, and people can leave comments/reviews of the comic sites. It's a nifty thing, and I highly recommend it. They've got over 400 comics listed right now, and some damn fine sites are on there.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Moby, "Extreme Ways"

Sunday, July 04, 2004

"My House Is Dark And My Thoughts Are Cold"

So I was piddling with the blogger thingie earlier and went ahead and enabled the Comments function for postings. That essentially means that, if you are so inclined, you can leave a smartass remark about something I've posted here by clicking the appropriate button below each post. I set it up so anyone can comment, not just registered users, so feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, and random asides. And stuff. Yeah.

And for the record--Adam Askins is a huge freakin' slacker.
"See The Ghost Of Slavery Ships"

Well, went and hung out with my youngest brother last night over at my aunt and uncle's place (where's he's recovering from having surgery on his foot to have some bone spurs removed while my parents are away on vacation). My aunt and uncle fed me, which is always nice, and it was just a good, relaxing time.

Tomorrow is Independence Day, the day when we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and our determination to be a self-governing nation. A lot's happened in the 200+ years since that historic event, but you have to admit--even with the way Dubya keeps trying to stamp on human rights, we are still lucky to live in a country where we can bitch about our leader and not get dragged off in the night and killed by government agents; where we can spend time and energy bitching about having to pay exorbent gas prices for our inefficient SUVs and not have to worry about whether or not we'll have food tomorrow; where we essentially have a constitutionally-guaranteed right to bitch and complain as loudly as we want to whomever we want.

As for celebrations, my uncle's band is playing here in Norman tomorrow afternoon, so I'm gonna go down and listen to him play. For those in the Norman area, it's at Reeve's Park on Jenkins at 4.00 pm. Old guys rockin' out like teenagers, only without so much whining and angst, and much better guitar solos (my uncle's the lead guitarist).

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Counting Crows, "Up All Night"

Friday, July 02, 2004

"I Rebound Regardless"

So it's 5.00 am, and for reasons I cannot adequately explain, I'm awake. What does that mean? I'm cruisin' the internet for random stuff!

I found this article rather interesting. I know how some people are going to ignore this and disregard what Cosby is trying to say--they'll call him an Uncle Tom, they'll say he's a white man parading in a black man's skin, and they'll say he doesn't know what it's really like living as a poor black man (ignoring for a moment the fact that Cosby does, in fact, know exactly what it's like being poor and black). He's basically saying what needs to be said, if you ask me. I'm having a hard time articulating this precisely because I'm tired, but in a lot of ways, I think Cosby is right--no one will take you seriously if they can't understand a word coming out of your mouth, or if you can't read or write.

It goes back to some crap I see in the Athletic Department sometimes. Many of the athletes we have--regardless of race--think that, because they are "star athletes," they don't need to get an education or worry to much about their grades or school, because they'll be going on to play professional fill-in-the-blank sport. So when the greatest majority of them do not go on to play professionally, they don't have anything to fall back on, and suddenly it's someone else's fault for not telling them this sooner (when all we've done for the previous four or five years was tell them).

Admittedly, part of anyone's chances in life are determined by their heritage. It's a sad, inescapable fact in modern America. A well-off middle class white boy probably has more doors open to him initially than a poor black boy. But only so much responsibility can be placed in such things; eventually, everyone has to own their decisions and choices, and decide what they want out of life. Saying you want to improve your place in life is one thing; actually doing something about it rather than just waiting for someone to hand it to you because of your race or what my great-great-great grandfather did to yours is pretty damn stupid, if you think about it.

I don't want anyone to read this and think I'm a racist; on the contray, I believe everyone deserves an equal chance in life. That doesn't mean it should be handed to you or that you shouldn't have to work for it. The best way to honor the sacrifices of those who came before you to ensure that your life would be better than theirs is to live up to your potential.

This potential does not automatically translate to "the only thing I can do in life is be a star football player."

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Styx, "Come Sail Away"
"If You've Gots The Poison, I've Gots The Remedy"

I talked with Clif on the phone this evening. He sounds like he's having a blast in Colorado this summer, what with hiking and the people he's met and whatnot. Part of me really wishes I was there, and another, smaller part of me is glad I'm not, because I don't know if I could handle another summer living with Clif. It's hard on a person, believe me...not to mention the fact that here in Oklahoma, I can sleep in past sunrise.

Clif mentioned during our conversation that there was a mountain nearby that had an 18 mile trail on it. The trail starts at something like eight or nine thousand feet and ends up around 14,000. As Clif is mentioning this, I say, "Oh, 18 miles should be easy for you to hike. We did that back in Yellowstone." His reply was: "Hike? No, we're gonna run up the mountain."

This has me a bit non-plussed. "Run?"

"Yeah. I mean, we'll have to slow down a bit when we get the snow, but that's okay."

Keep in mind that said snow is currently probably about as tall as I am in some places near the top. I think this is a good argument for the case against my brother still being sane.

This sort of thing will be worked into a comic somehow during the course of the summer. I'd be amiss in my duties as a cartoonist and a humorist to not do so, especially since I'm still right in the middle of the Yellowstone Saga, which is a semi-ficticious account of Clif and I's summer in Yellowstone National Park. Only half that stuff's made up (mostly the stuff with the archangel and...well, really, that's about it).

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Wilco, "Jesus Etc."