Saturday, September 29, 2007

The sorrow of the world

A friend once told me that he doesn't keep track of world events because they're so depressing sometimes. Yeah, I know how that feels. The recent news about Burma.
A couple days ago I was heralding a new dawn for democracy in Burma (Myanmar), but now... Now we're seeing the repression in its purest form. And it looks like it will be successful. I'm hoping something will break. I'm hoping maybe one of the military rulers of the country will look into his conscience and see how wrong this is. I'm hoping for a miracle. And I'm praying.
But I'm also carrying sorrow, because as things are looking now, it will be a good while before Burma is free.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Covertibility! Convertibility! I'll convertibility your face!

Evening, all! It's been a while since I said hi to my adoring audience, so, well then hi! Well, now to the meat of the matter, that is to say the center of the matter, well, damn I'm hungry, but I probably will be going for food within 20 min., even if it does mean I might have to interrupt my session for a moment, but that just means you're a jerk. Understand? Do you understand?

I'm a history major, but overall to say fully, I'm more of an amateur in most everything a little bit. With history it's just more than a little bit, perhaps a lot, but I'm not really an expert, at least not in any particular field of history. With history, I know a bit of everything, but I'm never as good as the experts. It's often the case that I'm able to discuss matters with my professor but ultimately I'm generally outclassed by them. However, every now and then I'll outfox them a little in fields outside their specialty. When people ask, I tell them my specialty is World History. I know some about China, I know a good deal about India, I know a bunch about the US, a little about Mexico, some about Poland, a little about Ireland, and some about overall political history. It's never enough too blow somebody away in an argument, but I can hold my own in casual conversation. However, when faced with someone who prepared an argument, I often falter. They generally have researched some expert info in the field they're talking about and that usually crunches me.

It occurs to me often that I ought to simply pick a field and specialize, but usually the dilemma is I lack the patience in a single field and I have a curiosity that demands I indulge a little in all fields. This is true for general knowledge as much as it is for history. So I'm a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.

It's not a bad life, but when I deal with old fields of knowledge, ones that have been well developed and such, I find that I can't follow the latest research. And while I might be somewhat interested in the latest research, it's not say more so that I am in any other field. So while I might not understand all the abstractions in economics, I'm not more interested in that than I am in say all the abstractions of political science or philosophy. It would be bad policy to then say because I can't choose look at nothing, so I picked history. Within history, perhaps I have picked nothing, but that's because there's still enough in the lower levels of different regional histories and different aspects of world history to keep me occupied and engaged. But I must wonder. When it comes to making decisions on big items like climate change, globalization, different issues of morality, etc., what I do if I can't follow those great abstractions in the fields?

One course, is an ad hoc approach, which is to study very narrowly a small issue when it comes up. If you've got an amateur knowledge in a field to begin with, it is usually possible to at least get enough of a sense of a narrow issue to make a choice. But when you get to bigger issues with deeper complexities, things become harder. Sometimes the only way to understand an issue is to become an expert in the subject, but to do that would require far more effort than you can give. What to do then?

My reaction then, and this is my recommendation to others as well, is to find a trusted source, based on your basic knowledge of the field, who seems to know what they're talking about and seems to be honest and trust him. And lacking that, perhaps it is best just to go with consensus.

However, the recent times have brought a new depth to this dilemma. Nowadays fields meet and intersect. A political decision might involve economics, physics, philosophy, and a dozen other fields. And the experts within these fields, even when there is a consensus with the fields, often passionately disagree. Part of the problem is that while an expert in one field might be the master of it, another field which has implications for his field might be a complete mystery to him. This unknown field however might have experts who know nothing about his field even though it has implications for their field. Now many people might assume that if you're an expert in one field, if another field has implications for yours, you can easily pick up the basics of that other field and understand the implications. But that often isn't the case. High level sociology concepts that require years of study to understand might have implications in economics but might have a basis completely different than the rules of economics which an economist might be familiar with. Thus the economist might be as mystified by this sociology concept as the lay person but on the other hand the sociologist might be mystified by general economics.

Furthering the dilemma is the fact that most fields usually insist on the predominance of their own field in any dispute. This makes deciding matters difficult, and at times a matter of uneven guesswork. The only hope for resolving this I think, is creating covertability. That is making it easier for concepts to be transfered from one field to another. A good example of this is new work in psychology and economics, which gives psychological factors economic value allowing them to be translated into economics. Similar work must ultimately take place in all fields, until there is finally a fluidity between all research.

I suppose this all amounts to advocating for a general field theorem (a physics concept where all energy (and since energy and matter are convertable all matter) is united as the manifestation of a single force), for all knowledge. Given the difficulty of coming up with a general field theorem for physics, I cannot imagine one for all knowledge will be any easier.

So we are left with guesswork. With no definite rules for convertability we are left with figuring out as much as we can and then seeing what "seems" like the best choice, where "seems" means relying on that black box (a mechanism sealed up so that you cannot see how it works but which produces some outputs from inputs) which is our unconscious. Our unconscious is an immensely powerful black box mind you, but it is one that usually lacks consistency as it tends to often conflate tangentially related matters as if at random (although there probably is some logic to it, if we can ever figure out what it is). And since we use tools that lack consistency it is not hard to imagine different people, trying with all good will to reason their way through problems coming to different answers. Even if they're both educated, even if they are both experts in parts of an issue, or know many different experts on many sides of an important issue, there will be disagreement.

This is of course assuming that experts within a given field agree on a matter, which is an utterly false assumption no matter what the field. But my point is that with complex issues that stretch across multiple fields, even if there is a consensus, even a well-accepted, and understood consensus in each of those fields regarding the issues, that does not mean that the issue will be resolved, even if every party tries all in good faith.

So we are left with inevitable disagreement. And whenever the possibility of passionate disagreement arises we are left with the specter of conflict. And so we must live with that.

Anyways, take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Playing your hands as the hands blaze

I'm not a terribly good poker player. That is not to say I'm a bad one. When I'm honest about it, which is occasionally, I am a middling-poker player. But I like poker, heck I love poker, if there is a sport for me, it is poker. All this could logically lead to the conclusion that I belong in small, friendly games away from big money pots. But those games aren't the same, in the same way a baseball game among friends isn't the same as a professional game, even in the minor leagues. Still, I try to be careful not to indulge my taste for the game too much, except on exceptional incidents, including one rather spectacularly unsuccessful trip to Atlantic City. But I do like the game, and I can't say that it's merely an idle passion as I might be able to say for other sports I enjoyed, such as soccer and frisbee.

Like I said I'm a middling poker player, but the frustrating part is that I have moments of greatness. I have moments where I hold my own against top-notch players and even triumph over them. And I'm not talking about moments of luck, although I have plenty of thrilling stories of those, the real pride of a poker player is not winning on the river, but carefully constructing a win based on knowledge of the cards and your opponent. And I've had moments like that. However it's more than moments of greatness, overall I think I have some potential. My mid-game, and lately even my early game has been rather good lately, but I have yet to successfully master the late game. And even though my early game is improving it still occasionally leads me to folly. The key to my skill, I think, is aggression when I have something, but playing conservative when I have nothing. I try never to bluff with absolutely nothing. If I adhere to this strategy, I play well. The particular odds of cards come into play, the particular characteristics and behaviors of the players come into play, but while those are key to the big win, they cannot distract from the core strategy. At least when it comes to me, I have known spectacular players who have other strategies.

And yet I get cocky and/or I get sloppy. It's so easy to do. To bet because you want to see the cards, or because you think it's too late to back out. To feel invincible. To underestimate your opponent and overestimate your ability. To force away the real knowledge of what your opponent's hand really is. It is just so easy. And so utterly frustrating.

So the key to this, is giving up poker, or working on my technique. Giving up poker is an option, but although that Atlantic City incident may suggest otherwise, in general poker is not a very expensive habit for me and provides me with a lot of entertainment and satisfaction. The Atlantic City incident is actually the exception that proves the rule since trips to high gambling places are likely to be such odd occasions in my life (unless my game improves, and I mean not just luck-wise improves, but skill-wise improves). Thus the choice falls to improving my game.

But there is another frustration. The terrible frustration of not being able to find a good game. And my awful really, organizational skills hampering my own creation of games. Thus I am confined to irregular intervals, the distance between which often impedes my learning process and leaves me perpetually rusty. It's highly annoying all and all. But there is such a beauty to the sport. It is a contention of fate mixed with a contention of minds. And the best players can beat both. Poker comes down to knowing the sport and knowing people, and the sport is certainly enjoyable, at least from my angle, it's got hope, despair and suspense mixed in with the fellowship of the table, but this combination of skills it requires makes it thrilling, especially since when perfected, it defies even destiny.

Ah, but that's the romance of poker. It is I think a sport for me, but let me say not for everyone. Some are not good with it, and some are good with it but not good enough with it. Even though they might win and win repeatedly, if a player can't stop gambling, if it becomes a need that dominates his life, well, then he's lost already. I've seen such things happened, and to be honest, I've enabled such things. That's my shame. But it is a shame of not being a good enough friend, not of the sport itself. The sport itself remains beautiful in my eyes, even if I am a bit ugly in its eyes. But who knows? With a nice hair cut, some good clothes and a charming presentation, perhaps even I can clean up to the World Poker Tour. Poker is all about defying destiny after all.

So take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lies, damn lies, and love

There are a number of lies which color my perception of relationships with girls I like. Some are obvious and some are somewhat more subtle. I touched on some of these in my Irrelevant are the dogs session. An obvious lie there that I pointed out was my youthful romantization of dog (me)-master (a girlfriend) romantic relationship. I have to wonder, if I ever do get a sexual relationship, whether this will have any impact on my sexual tastes, but that's not for this session. A more subtle lie expressed in that session was the title, "Irrelevant are the dogs," the idea that the dog, the devoted admirer, will always have his feelings ignored is in the end false, sometimes this happens, but usually it is not do to the devotion but rather the other failings of the dog, such as painful shyness. Sometimes the dog-master relationship causes a romantic relationship to collapse. Sometimes the dog-master relationship perseveres, for better or for worse for the couple. Sometimes the relationship starts out as dog-master but then progresses to one of equals, I think this tends to happen to some degree as relationships mature and each member of the couple finds their complementary niches and areas of mutual effort.

I think that there are few rules that can really limit romantic relationships in the way they work. Men can be dominant, women can be dominant, an equality is preferable but the relationship should not be forced into a politically correct mold, even if there is good reason for that politically correct model. But these are just my ideas. And they might be lies.

I have had other lies. Perhaps the saddest and deepest relate to my first heartbreak, which I plan on relating sometime relatively soon (stay tuned!). There I lied to myself to some degree about the depth of my emotions, but perhaps worse I lied to myself about the importance to those emotions to my overall self-worth, which in retrospect set the stage for my first suicide attempt. But even with the lies I'm pretty sure I've told myself in the past, I still must wonder if I'm now lying about the lies.

I know a few truths. One is that a relationship must be a full commitment and while founded on love must be maintained by effort. Another is no relationship should destroy a person's core moral values, no relationship is more important than a person's relationship with God.

But perhaps this is the greatest truth I know about relationships, and that is that I know pitifully little about relationships, even less than the pitiful amount most people know, and yet, and yet my strong attraction to women, my desire for romantic love, my ambition for family life and for a strong relationship with a soul-mate, all these things guide me to another truth. Even if in the end I conclude that I am not meant for marriage, etc., now, at this point in my life, and for the foreseeable future, I must strive to date, eventually to construct a relationship, and to see where these things lead me, even if the path is hard and full of pain.

As it likely will be, groping around in the universe of romance, which is as dark as night and distorted by illusions, which thicken the air like the humidity of a monsoon. So it goes.

But who knows what truths will come when the cascade of lies is cut down?

So anyways, take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Still watching the tears drift by

Ah, sorrow my old friend, taste my fist! Pop! Bam! Pow! And so on, and that's me beating up depression. But despite how thoroughly I might beat down the sadness, it's a part of our life, heck if it wasn't there would be something very wrong with us. Sadness is often an extension of love, but we must not let us swallow us, because digestive juices are bad for the skin.

But the music! Ah the music! That's the thing, with which I'll capture the conscience of the king! Or maybe it's just something to remind us that although we might feel profound sorrow welling up inside of us, it in itself is evidence of how beautiful life really is.

1. Glycerine by Bush - From the album Sixteen Stone - After doing a song exposition for Here is Gone, I considered doing a song exposition for every song that had a strong emotional context for me, but that would be overly-melodramatic and lame. Not that I didn't like my song exposition, but for every song that meant a lot to me... Well, I do plan to perhaps do song expositions for some songs that mean a lot to me, and maybe this is one I'd like to use. Because this song reaches into me and it touches a lot of emotions, it brings up a lot of painful memories, and it is just plain beautiful.


Bush's video - I can't say I really like this video. Not to be insulting or gay, but Gavin Rossdale is just too pretty to convey property the gravity and sorrow of the song. Again, not to be insulting or gay, but I think that was one of the factors that always kept Bush from being taken as seriously as it deserved.

Glycerine AMV - anime - Fruit's Basket - I have to say when I heard about the idea of a lip-syncing an AMV to the song seemed a bit gimmicking, but it was surprisingly effective. I admit the product isn't perfect, at times the images run up against the mood of the song too much, but the lip-syncing has a strong effect. It draws you into the video and draws the video into the song, exactly what an AMV (anime music video) is supposed to do.

2. I Miss You by Blink 182 - From the album Blink-182 (or their untitled album, other known as when Blink-182 went emo) - When romance goes sour, and then when you feel you can't go on, but you can never have her in your arms, and then... Nice little story there. Sad though. Shows Blink 182 does have some seriousness chops.


Blink 182's video - an alright video. It's got a sense of a story, but it doesn't really make me care about it. It's got some interesting visuals, but I'm not sure of their point. I dunno, maybe it's just less special in light of the explosion of emo videos.

I Miss You AMV - anime - Kodocha (Child's Toy) - Now a Kodocha AMV on the fact that it's a Kodocha AMV alone would probably get my approval, but this is actually very well done with some interesting effects and a keen sense of mood.

3. Zombie by The Cranberries - From the album No Need to Argue - The line between sorrow and insanity is often alarmingly thin. So thin that many throw away sadness all together. This song captures both madness and sorrow, but it also contains the love that drove such agony. Least I think so. Nobody knows for sure, except the Cranberries, and the Turks.


The Cranberries' Video - For those who don't know (which included me until fairly recently, although I had suspected it) this video, and the song itself is about The Troubles in Ireland. For those who don't know about that, this was the round of inter-communal fighting between Protestants and Catholics (to define the conflict religiously, you could also define it as Ulster Scots vs. Irish or British vs. Irish, it's a complex conflict) in Northern Ireland that lasted from the 1960's to the Belfast Agreement in 1998. To those who are more recently born they might not remember that Northern Ireland was once dubbed one of the three irresolvable conflicts in the world (the other two being the Kashmir conflict and the Israel-Palestine conflict). The fact that two of the most extreme parties in the conflict recently joined in a power-sharing agreement gives me hope for all political conflicts, even those that seem irresolvable.

Zombie AMV - anime - Digimon - Digimon in my mind doesn't get enough props, especially the first seasons, which feature TK (although the 3rd season is my personal favorite), the star of the AMV. But what really struck me is how this video managed to bring out all the sadness from the song using Digimon, a show that's not particularly dark (except for the 3rd season, which however is not featured here). It takes TK's story, which on the surface is a nice little tale about a kid finding a magical world, into something with an air of tragedy. It made me think a little about all those animes with little kids who join in massive conflicts, what are the psychological effects to those kids? Ah, perhaps I will be the one to explore that someday in my own tv show, or perhaps it will be you (pointing to someone across the room from me and not towards the readers).

4. How to Save a Life by The Fray - From the album How to Save a Life - As a man who has dealt with suicidal impulses, I find some good accuracy to this song. Accuracy's always important, especially in darts.


The Fray's Original music video - I personally liked this video better. But I know not what the Fray was thinking, on the other hand the other video is cool, so I'm glad they were thinking different than I.

The Fray's Second music video - I remember one of the VJ's said that the new video was because the old one was too dark, but the stark whiteness of this video actually makes it seem thematically darker. While I like the other one better, this video is also awesome.

How to Save a Life AMV - anime - Eureka Seven - I really didn't want to like this video, the intro was way too long, and Eureka Seven was an anime that I have conflicted feelings on. But it drew me. It's most prominent plus sides was excellent use of continued scenes and repetition. Even if you have no idea what's going on with the story, which you probably wouldn't (and even I having watched the show don't really know what was going on in that show), you get a sense of the story, and more importantly immense sense of emotions which envelope you. And that's quality there.

5. Float On by Modest Mouse - From the album Good News for People who Love Bad News (long name, but I've seen longer) - When I first heard this song, I thought it largely happy, but over time, and especially after seeing it with the AMV, I realized the sense of resignation to it. Ultimately, it accepts its situation and looks at it with defiant optimism but there is no escaping it. And what is the situation. Maybe it's just the troubles of life, but it occurs to me, that it's probably that one thing we all have to face sooner or later, that it's probably death. And we all float on. ALL RIGHT!


Modest Mouse's video - This is one of those video's that stretches the imagination, and breaks it, only to come back with hilarious awesomeness that does not dilute the song itself but rather enhances it.

Float On AMV - anime - Fullmetal Alchemist - I'm trying not to use too many FMA AMVs (abbreviations rock!) because there are just so many of them, and the nature of the show, which had a sometimes uneasy mix of cuteness and ambition, often fits badly with most songs. Yet what struck me with this video was how delicately it was all put together. The images were allowed to sink in and draw significance from the song and then to draw the viewer in. All and all, well done AMV creator.

So to reiterate the song-list was:
2.I Miss You
4.How to Save a Life
5.Float On

Now think about my commentary and what I said each song represents or in some cases what each song obviously represents. You get it?

If you don't, you're a bum, but one of the more common variety because I don't think I spelled it out very clearly, and I don't intend to. After all, even if you don't get it, you still float on. Because we all float on, all right.

So take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Let Freedom ring!

It's rare these days that I have hope for quick rises in democracy. In the 90's there was the sense that we were on the verge of a democratic world, but now, now I hold to the principle that if a government is smart enough, powerful enough (relatively_, and ruthless enough it can squash its democracy movements. And that makes me sad because I love freedom dearly, and I believe that liberty is not something given, not something earned, but a fundamental right of mankind, which you are born with.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

That's why it makes me so happy to see this, a chance for democratic change in Burma (Myanmar). My admiration and prayers go out to those brave monks and all those who join them in their fight (although as this protest march shows, fighting doesn't necessarily mean violence and is often more effective without it) for freedom as well as to Aung San Suu Kyi and all those who have been fighting the good fight for years. I truly hope they can make it.

My principle still stands, but I think the military regime in Burma isn't ruthless enough towards the monks to stop them, nor perhaps, is it strong enough compared to the monks' spiritual authority among the people of Burma.

It is a hope, and for the proud people of Burma and their rich civilization, I will pray.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

All things end in madness

It at least always seems that way with me. Meh, that's enough of all that, well not really, but let me punctuate the mood by saying
And that's about that

Anywho, you'd be surprised how easily things can end in madness. Take an example of an average conversation, I talk to someone, maybe mention the weather, maybe ask how they're doing, etc. Instantly I starting picking apart every possible action and inaction, every word and pause, every bit of being of the other person to try to find something to show that this person hates me. Then I turn on myself, and start tearing through my own actions to try to find something I did that was rude, idiotic, or annoying to the other person, or something I should have done to be nice. Matters only get worse when I speak to girls, especially girls I like. There matters get dicy. Dicy with a capital DICY. So it then goes to madness.

What to make of it then? Because if this session ends up as just a complaining session I'm probably going to chuck it. So then there must be anlaysis. SO LET IT BE!!!

Well, as it is, it's just something I need to deal with. In my life, I'm constantly hit by anxieties and obsessions, and in the end, I just have to throw these fears away. My life would pretty sad if I actually listened to those fears. Actually there have been several periods in my life when I've actually listened to my fears, and then I've been locked in my room and curled up in my bed trying desperately not to move. But that's life, and in the end I'm in control of my mind and I can order myself to ignore my fears and such, and blah, blah, blah, blah.

So that's about that.

Seeing as this session had perhaps a leettle beet too much angst. So let me just say...

Take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Friday, September 21, 2007

The inevitable gravity of Destiny or my review of Escaflowne

That's a beautiful phrase. The Gravity of Destiny. Escaflowne isn't your typical anime, oh wait it is, or well, the truth is somewhere in between. In a way it picks and chooses between anime conventions from all genres of the field, and throws in some European mythology and then it... Well, it ends up beautiful. Just like that phrase. It's a beautiful anime, exquisitely crafted from odds and ends scattered throughout the world. European-style kingdoms, steam-punk elements, mecha, dragons, and the strange techno-mysticism that draws everything together. It is an immensely complex beast.

The story starts with girl lifted from her own world planted in another. She has some pretty impressive odd-ball powers, and she gets involved in war and love pentangles that boggle the mind. Giant robots fight, and one in particular has special powers, and she and the prince that controls it end up fleeing from the evil forces searching for a means to end the war. This show has often been cited as a blurring of the lines between shojo and shonen, that is girl's manga/anime and guy's manga/anime (I think the technical terms shojo and shonen are only supposed to be used for manga but they are commonly used for anime as well), and to some degree it carries the faults of both. It has the gushing emotionals and pointless romantic trysts of a shojo and the convoluted plot of a shonen. But then again it has the strengths of both as well. It has the emotional depth and character development of a shojo, and the ambition and action of a shonen. It's two defining characteristics are probably its emotion and ambition and both come together to something at times confusing, at times frustrating, but still beautiful.

It's plot twists often seem pointless. It takes you from one end of it's amazingly in-depth imaginary world only to throw you to the other end with nothing really accomplished. But every episode, even those that don't get anywhere draws your emotions, engages the eyes, and thrills the mind. There's always action, always something happening, always emotional growth even if it doesn't actually go anywhere, it still gives enough to the episode to make it a treat to watch. The quality of the episodes excuses the scattered plot.

Often the emotions presented seem trivial or repetitive or childish, but blown completely out of proportion. Sometimes I just wanted to slap the characters upside the head to try to get some sense into them. But then there were the moments where the emotions presented were so genuine, so universal, but so personal, that they just took my breath away. At times the show travels through an emotional landscape which includes the terrors of war and their drain on the soul, the desire to end conflict and the means it takes to do so, the sorrow of loss, the depth of love, and all these emotions and ideas are presented maturely but with enough excitement and action accompanying them to prevent them from being dry. But what makes the show frustrating is that both over-blown emotions, and perfectly genuine emotions are both stuffed into every episode, but the latter exceeds the former enough that the experience grips your heart. In the end, the execution excuses the melodrama.

Overall, Escaflowne is a monument to execution. That is not to say it is simply a formula executed, rather it is the execution of a story crammed full of ideas and emotions almost to the breaking point, but one which does not fit any precise formula or genre. Because of that it carries with it flaws from every avenue of storytelling but also virtues from every corner of the universe of imaginative fiction. That alone would not a good show make, but it then shows execution that pushes the ability of anime to the limit, which makes all the flaws excusable, and the final product a legend.

And that is the Vision of Escaflowne, and it receives an 9/10.

So that's my review of Escaflowne, so anyways, take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Irrelevant are the dogs

One of the perhaps nicest things about this webpost is that it gives me an opportunity to play with the phrases that pop into my head but never find an opportune outlet for in poetry or prose. A lot of these simply end up in post titles, but are never actually referenced in the session itself. They do serve the purpose of giving me a starting boost so that I can get into the session, but they never really live up to their full potential as phrases. Ah, it is sad, what fate phrases lead. At least they remain in my archives, where, if I have time (ah, time, time, such a fickle lover (I've been using ah a lot, and the lover analogy, maybe that's a manifestation of my frustrated love life and my resignation to it, or perhaps it just has to do with my highly pretentious modes of speech)), I can look upon them upon in a later day and use them when a better moment arises.

But on occasion my strange spirit is unsatisfied with this solution and desires, a slightly better fate for my phrases. Sometimes I actually desire to use the phrases in a way that actually utilizes their meanings. However to do this I need to make up definitions. I try to figure out what I was thinking of when I thought of the phrases, I try to employ the classic allusions, and I try to add something a little profound, a little relevant and a little personal.

Which brings me to the session title, and you thought I wouldn't get to it, actually given the preceding paragraphs if you did think I wouldn't get to it you're an idiot. But back to the session title: "Irrelevant are the dogs."

Originally, the phrase that popped into my head was "Irrelevant is the dog." But that sounds too pretentious, it has an aura of talking about an archetypal dog, and that's a little bit too fancy. "Irrelevant are the dogs" works better in my view, and my view's the only one that counts here.

So what does it mean? Originally, it just was a way of me telling myself I'm irrelevant. But why the dog imagery? Well, perhaps it is because, I was feeling irrelevant in relation to women, and I sometimes think of my ideal relationship, or at least I used to, and maybe still do (who knows what lurks in their subconscious?), as a dog and master relationship. I, being the dog, and my girlfriend being the master. I'm going to give you a sec to get all the filthy, filthy images which I know are buzzing through your head right now to settle down. Alright, what I mean by the dog-master imagery is that I would give my girlfriend complete love and loyalty, as well as examplery service including protection (like a good watchdog), while she would give me direction and relieve me of my day-to-day decisions which tend to cause me such anxiety. Most of all, she would take care of me, and I would stay by her side for as long as I lived.

Now that all sounds very nice, but that idea of a relationship is actually highly unhealthily dependent, so I realize that I probably should try to avoid it. And yet, on some very deep level I still find an attraction to the idea, or at least, I guess I feel that, I dunno. I'm sure I really have a lot of issues I need to deal with in regards to women, and I think the dog-master relationship idea is sick in retrospect, but still when approaching women I like, I have a complete, uncritical devotion to them, at least at moments, and it makes me feel like a dog.

But having those feelings aren't enough. No matter how devoted I am to a woman, those feelings don't seem to matter. I feel like a dog and "Irrelevant are the dogs."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I said the right things but act the wrong way

Well, that's how it is in the Strokes song, but for me maybe it's that I said the wrong thing and act the right way. Or maybe I both act and say the wrong things. But I think I act charming at times, and I've got some good emotions for what that's worth. And I've come so frustratingly close to having at least the start of a relationship. But then again, maybe I haven't. I've never had a real date. So what can I say about anything, eh? I can laud the fairer sex, I wax pathetic about romance, I can sing a million love songs, but when it comes down to it, I socially retarded, and I mean that in the retard as in going backward sense of retard, and I have no idea what to do about girls. But then again, it doesn't matter. Still, I must push onwards.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Even these things persist

Greetings folks and peoples of people-like nature (that includes you semi-animalistic furry folk as well). I would like to share with you a rule I've recited in various circumstances. Given an infinity of opportunities even things with small probability are likely to happen. Given my history, a breakdown had medium likiness of occurring, so that it would occur sooner or later was almost certain. Perhaps, I dunno. But today I skipped out on my classes, gave up on all activity and wallowed in depression. I did that for about twelve hours and then, I got over it. Ah chemicals, they make up your body, but they tend to just fly here and there without prediction. To some extent I think my emotional collapse this morning and my recovery this evening was chemical. But like all good mental problems there was an element of nurture. I had been building stress on myself since school started and I had to do some homework pretty quickly and I was feel emasculated by the fact that my parents aren't going to let me keep a car at the school for casual purposes (basically I have to run it by them). My recovery on the other hand was guided by my faith. The fact that God loves me is a great strength restorer, and while I might respond that God shouldn't love me because I'm unworthy, I remember that passage from the Acts of the Apostles, verse 9: "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." I guess that includes me if I trust in Him. And I think this has the larger implication of the idea, I can't say that God is wrong to love me, God is always right, so I guess I am worthy of God, and I guess if I want to do right by God, I got to do right by those He loves and that includes me.

So that's about the summary of events. I'd rather not go into matters any more severely because that would be boring, whiny and therefore lame. But the meat of the matter is that I had a breakdown and recovered decently fast, although not fast enough not to miss classes. It's irritating because I had hoped I was done with breakdowns severe enough to do that. And it's worrying. I have 1 year till I graduate, technically even less than that (I suppose it's actually about 8 months), and if I have these sort of problems while I'm working, I'll actually have a great deal of trouble, as in trouble which will get me fired. And unless I can build a good job record early on, in this tight job market my later ambitions will be a bit tough. So what to do about it?

What to do, what to do, skitter me shoe, what to do?

Just thought I'd puncture the mellowdrama a little and I don't really have a needle that came go through your brain to the part that's imagining the mellowdrama, so etc., etc., la-dee-da-dee-da.

But back to the matter at hand. So what should I do with these breakdowns? Well, I'll see my psychiatrist, I'll see my psychologist, I'm going to start seeing a pastoral counselor, but really will that do anything? If I really need, I'll change my medicine, although overall I've been doing pretty well and I don't want to lose how I've been doing so far. Besides, to really get rid of the feelings that generated this collapse would take something drastic, something fundamental, something I really don't know.

I used to figure that if I just kept moving forward in my life, if I kept myself busy that might be enough. But I'm moving forward, I'm obscenely busy, and still... Business could be part of the problem but last semester I had constant collapses and I had one of my easiest schedules since Freshman year. Maybe if I had more energy, if I wasn't tired all the time and I could take full advantage of those brief moments when I'm truly productive. But I doubt it. These emotions seem to come to me no matter what has been accomplished, no matter how successful life is. There's a part of me that wants everything and isn't satisfied even if I have it. And then there's a part of me that just truly hates myself and will take advantage of every dissatisfaction, every moment of doubt, every failure, every mistake to try to destroy my soul and make me take my life. And that won't go away just because my life moves forward, it'll take something drastic, like I said.

A change of medicines might do some good, maybe, but if I'm looking for a fundamental shift like I said I needed, it'll take a fundamental change in medicine and that'll either help me a lot or screw me over immensely. In fact, it'll likely also take a lot of trial and error so even if there is some one medicine or medicine combo that can help me immensely it'll probably take a lot of bad tries that'll screw me over first, and given the time it takes to see if a medicine works or not, unless my psychiatrist has a good idea of how it will help, it's probably not a good idea to mess with a decent medicine combo, which I have right now.

So then what? Well, there is a fundamental change schedule in 8 months. Graduation, that should give a nice little shock to the system, and maybe, perhaps that'll set in motion some changes. And then there's the classic. Get a girl, girl solves my problems everything's better. That was always my plan in high school, more or less. But I really shouldn't rely on that, and I rely doubt women can just suddenly, magically make things better. But they can at least provide me a relief from loneliness. At least if I can find a woman to fall in love with. When you're in love, just being in conversation, just being near the woman you love gives you strength. Perhaps that might help. Maybe. I'd like to think so. And that is something I can work on, if I give it some effort and some time. Maybe, maybe, a thousand times maybe (Is that a phrase of some sort? Maybe a paraphrase or something of the like? Maybe.). Anywho, I doubt still it'll erase my problems, but it might make things better.

Then there's always the option of living with it and hoping that it isn't too often, that isn't too much. And trying to lessen it and make it less often through gradual efforts and the training of my will. I have fought off several possible collapses recently that delayed this. Perhaps that's just how I need to live. Fighting it, losing sometimes, but maybe winning more and more. And maybe someday, all that fighting will be enough, and my problems will be completely under control. I doubt it but maybe.

I asked one of my psychiatrists one time, will it ever be easy for me to live? Right now the act of living is often difficult, because at the end of the day and at the beginning of the day especially, and sometimes just randomly throughout the day, I feel waves of depression crashing on me. But he said, that if I learn to deal with it every day, than just as with practice, dealing with it will get easier. I like to hope so. But the thing is I have been dealing with it, for a long time now, and it's still pretty damn hard. But sometimes that's just the way things go. And you still need to push onward.

"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther … And one fine morning -

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I suppose I'm chasing that green light to. And so still I push onward.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Beastin' it up with the Boys

I am a rocker at heart, but there are some rappers, especially those with a strong rap influence who do fall into my favorites category. The fact that the Beastie Boys were a bunch of punk middle-class kids who never took themselves too seriously also might have something to do with their flavor, perhaps, or perhaps there's just something universal with wanting to Fight for your Right to Party.

1. Fight for your Right to Party by the Beastie Boys - From the album Licensed to Ill - Let's start from the very beginning, a very good place to start, especially when the song kicks-ass like this. Anyone who's gone to high school knows what it's like to
FIGHT for your RIGHT to PARTY!!!!!!!!!!!


The Beastie Boy's video - a classic of the 80's video scene, no fancy tech, but some damn awesome fun.

Fight for Your Right to Party AMV - anime: Azumanga Daioh, Dead or Alive 3 (XBOX), Dead or Alive 4 (XBox 360), Fruits Basket, Inu Yasha (TV), Inu Yasha: Affections Touching Across Time (Movie 1), Love Hina (TV), Love Hina - Spring Special, Please Teacher (TV) - I'm usually not a great fan of compilation of different animes AMV's since it dilutes the connection between the song and the partiular anime, but this was spectacularly well done, especially since it captured the melodrama of the original song by mixing school and teenage scenes with intense action scenes.

2. Intergalactic by Beastie Boys - From the album Hello Nasty - What does it all mean? I'm not sure but it's great fun and it's full of rush of energy and damn it it's intergalactic-planetary.


Beastie Boys' video - Pretty awesome, nice little scenario, although I'm a bit tired of making fun of campy Japanese monster movies.

Intergalactic AMV - anime: FLCL (Foolie Coolie) - It works because it's crafted with attention of course, but also because FLCL is intergalactic-planetary all the time every day.

3. So What cha'Want by Beastie Boys - From the album Check your Head - (Thank you very much I will) - So what do you want?


The Beastie Boys' video - Pretty trippy video, which if that's your thing that's great, me, it's well pretty good, but not great.

So What cha' Want AMV - anime: Love Hina - a good anime, song match, since Love Hina's all about confused, frustrated desire, but just like my good boys it doesn't take itself that seriously.

4. Sabotage by the Beastie Boys - From the album Ill Communication - Look if I didn't include this, that would be a mirage.


The Beastie Boy's video - This is the quintessential Beastie Boys' video. Is it funny? Yeah. But is it awesome? HELL YEAH!

Sabotage AMV - anime: Cowboy Bebop - After I watched this it took me a little while to find it again since the maker of the AMV has the same misspelling trait as me and wrote Sabatage, just as I did before I was corrected by the spell edit. But it was more than that which convinced me to put up this AMV link. I mean first of all, Cowboy Bebop rocks, but there was actually another Cowboy Bebop Sabotage AMV, but unlike the one I ultimately went with this other AMV didn't match the mood to the moment of the song. AMV's aren't just throwing music at video buddy boys.

5. No Sleep Till Brooklyn by Beastie Boys - From the album Licensed to Ill - Whenever I'm tired, whenever anyone else says they're tired, whenever the concept of sleep comes up in any way, shape, or form, I have to just say - NO SLEEP TILL BROOKLYN!!!!


The Beastie Boys' video - While still an excellent video, this has become a bit of a period piece, recalling the old days when although rock had acquired so legitimacy, rap got no respect. Times have changed I suppose, although perhaps not for everyone, but even I, a man who admits to be a rocker at heart, can admit rap rocks, it really does.

No Sleep Till Brooklyn AMV - anime: Gundam Wing - With a song like this, the main point is to keep the energy on, if the song's No Sleep, the video can't sleep, and here even when the action pauses there's enough tension to keep your head roaring awake.

So we've beasted it up with the boys, now what? Now we go to Disneyland! Actually no. Anywho, this is probably about all I'm going to give you guys today, but seeing as you are all bums, I imagine you still have work to do. So before your head touches that pillow, just remember...

NO SLEEP TILL BROOKLYN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Even more quotable, even more boatable, roughly the same amount of John

"I like to quote myself, because I'm just that awesome."- Rand

"The world is hollow, and I have touched the sky."-Star Trek, episode title

"If you're going to be an ass, you should be a spectacular one. At least then it would become a character trait and people would have some warning about your ass-like behavior. A slight ass is like a virus, invisible and infectious, and he sours all the relationships around him. Of course it is best not to be an ass at all." - Rand

"The stars are like dust, and history is infinite."- Rand

"Art belongs to the people." - Lenin

"No, art belongs to the truth. But yo momma belongs to the people." - Rand

"People do not do things over and over again without getting some joy out of it." - Bob Kelso, Scrubs

"Which would do you think the tiger would prefer, being a dead rug in the seat of power or being alive in the jungle.

Alive in the jungle.

So would I."-Prez Richards, Sandman

"You're on my mind all of the time, I know it's not enough." - Electrical Storm, U2

"It is best to be both feared and loved, however, if one cannot be both it is better to be feared than loved." - The Prince, Machiavelli

"I'm both quotable and boatable, are you?" - Rand

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Girl of My Dreams

Heh, heh, you get it, this session is about a girl in my dreams but I use the phrase "the girl of my dreams," oh the hilarity. But beyond that, I am bringing back to my mind an incident from a while back because A. it was interesting from a psychological standpoint because it was as close as I have ever come to outright delusional insanity, and B. because I represented it in several different ways. One of them is a session I did a long time ago on my mySpace webpost, but I shifted it over here and you can read it: The Season of the Witch

But due to an assignment for a writing class, I also engaged the matter in a different light.

That's what I'm bringing you today. If this examination of the incident seems light, and makes the incident seem harmless, I invite you to go to the previous post which examined it somewhat more heavily.

For a long time I believed that if a professor took attendance then he or she must believe in the three absence limit rule that was the official Rutgers policy. Experience has since proved me wrong, but as late as last September I believed this was true, however, despite this belief I still had a nasty habit of being late arriving to nearly every class but most especially to my classes on the maze-like Douglass campus. This was largely my own fault since I waited till the exact last moment to leave my room, and so after arriving late for the first few classes of my Douglass-based History of South Asia class I determined that it would be smarter not to wait at the bus stop near my dorm but rather to run to the more frequented bus stop next to the Rutgers Student Center. I think this decision did help me to be on time more often, but whether the more distant bus stop did or did not get me to class quicker, it did give me an extra ten minutes worth of scenery for which I am grateful.

That is not to say the scenery was anything special. It was simply the street in front of my dorm, the parking lot beyond that, the computer lab, Brower Commons, and the Rutgers Student Center. Yet all those places had people and people provide interesting scenery. One particular example from October is especially prominent among my memories. I was passing the computer lab and I saw a strikingly white pigeon. Most pigeons are somewhat white, somewhat gray but this was a bold white. It was also a rather large for its kind. It was also moving towards winter and any bird was rather unusual. But it drew my eyes to the bench in front of the computer lab where I saw a highly pretty girl. It was only a glance but I could see she had a slight frame, vibrant red hair cut moderately, a perfectly oval face with a petite nose, and a lovely subtle smile. I also found it amazing how close the pigeon was to her. I always loved birds and while I would occasionally chase them to see them fly off, often I would attempt just to get close, imagining perhaps I could pet them on their heads. But I was never quite able to get close them, I would try to be quiet but they would always fly away. Yet she was only a couple inches away from the pigeon and it seemed perfectly comfortable, I had to imagine that she had some special charm with animals. I paused for a moment, but then I ran off to catch the bus. I had to get to class and at the time I believed if I was marked absent just one or two more times the professor would start detracting from my grade. Looking back upon it, I regret not stopping and talking to her, but that regret is not why the memory remains with me.

I remember this instance so well because it reminded me of a dream I had a few nights before. The dream was an adventure where I met a witch who had some power over animals as well as other magic abilities. I can't really remember exactly how the witch looked, but for some reason, that girl at that moment seemed to capture perfectly her look. And for a second, I believed that the dream had entered reality, that it was not actually a dream but simply a prediction of things to come. This actually filled me with anxiety and sorrow since the dream itself ended badly but also with excitement. I always wanted to believe in magic, in dreams crossing over to reality, and for a moment I did. And because of that, suddenly my life had a new importance, I had to deal with the strange and powerful magical forces which in my dream had caused so much tragedy. I had a mission, but it lasted only as long as I believed that the dream had become real, and I believed that only for a second. Then the moment ended and I realized she was just a girl, although a pretty one, and I was getting late for class. So I sprinted for the bus and let the dream fade into the back of my mind.

I wonder what it would take for me to sincerely believe that a dream had become real and magic had entered into my life. I have seen things happen that have been predicted by my dreams a couple nights ago, but none of those things have been magical or required stretching the imagination. The dream this girl reminded me of was full of magic, of adventure, of strangeness and to believe in it would require a complete rewriting of how I view the world. On the other hand, even if I don't believe in magic, I have always believed in the possibility of magic. We live in a world where things surprise us daily, and new advances of science stretch the possible, so why not magic? But I suppose if it was that simple, if magic were simply another surprise, then it wouldn't have such allure. I suppose the charm of magic, and why I felt such excitement from the possibility that the dream had become real is the idea of suddenly becoming powerful and important. Magic offers a new route to becoming important, because it is a new source of power, something unseen in the world before. Just knowing about it gives you an edge over the rest of the world. And if my dream became real the significance of the magic would be even greater, the magic would represent the duty I had to correct the wrong which my dream had predicted, it would have given me a sense of higher purpose. But perhaps the attractive thing about magic is that it is just something we don't encounter, something completely new to our experiences. We have possibilities in our lives, but all our possibilities are confined in the systems that form society and bound by the rules of the world we live in. It doesn't mean our lives can't be unpredictable but there are limits on those possibilities. But if magic were possible, suddenly we could realize that those limits are illusionary, that there are no limits to our opportunities. The ordinary world would be shattered and become extraordinary. I think it's possible for magic to suddenly emerge like that, but I would need more proof than a girl who reminded me of a dream, and that's why I didn't stop, instead I ran to catch my bus.

Monday, September 10, 2007

It really begins again!!!

Walking the road alone

So I'm giving listing another batch of songs, although I'll try to do a real post later if time is on my side. But here I decided to go with a theme for the songs. That feeling of wandering. I've felt it most of my life, ill at ease everywhere, never at home, never part of any group, constantly pushed onwards without a chance to really settle down. I suppose it's my ambition, I suppose it's my anxiety, I suppose it's lots of things, but that's how I am. I suppose I can change, maybe. People change when they find two parts of them conflict, and one of those parts must give way. If I find a good enough reason to settle down, to find some sort of home, to shed my outsider status and my loneliness, it can happen. But I haven't found one yet in my life, and so I wander on.

On a more technical note I've decided to only link video in the post itself, since embedding videos makes the post obscenely long, and I try to not be obscene when I can avoid it.

1. Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd - From the album (pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd) (Pronounced) - The sadness, resignation, but powerful energy that fills this song captures the feeling of being driven endlessly, forever forward, but never allowed to stop.


Lynyrd Skynyrd's concert video

Free Bird AMV - TV show - Transformers - I can say this is an excellently made AMV, I can say that the emotions match the song without being too obvious, I could say a number of compliments for this video, but the main reason I'm including it is because it's Transformers, and that show rocks.

2. Ramble On by Led Zeppelin - From the album Led Zeppelin II - Awesome song, powerful force to it, and it gives Tolkien his props, how could I not love it?


Ramble On concert video by Classic Albums Live - I would have loved to include an actual Led Zeppelin concert video here, but I couldn't find one on youTube and apparently, according to Wikipedia, that is, they never performed it live in concert. Still these guys are pretty good.

Ramble On AMV - Movie - The Hobbit Animated Movie - I'd rather would have used a different AMV than this, since matching Ramble On with something it references prominently (if you don't know this check out the lyrics) is a bit too dead on, but there are surprisingly few Ramble On AMVs.

3. Turn the Page by Bob Seager (news to me, I've mainly heard the Metallica cover) - From the album Back in '72 (Bob Seager) and Garage Inc. (Metallica) - When you're ambitious, the rock stars who tour endlessly, you always feel a need to press on in work endlessly, because the work is never enough, it's never perfect.


Bob Seager's Video

Metallica's Video - This is a great example of an excellently executed story video, I usually object when story videos interrupt for spoken bits, but here the spoken bits are placed right and serve the story perfectly.

Turn the Page AMV - AMV - anime - Outlaw Star and Cowboy Bebop - An interesting experiment here, alternating between Seager and Outlaw Star and Metallica and Cowboy Bebop. It works pretty well, although I think some more thought should have been put into the Outlaw Star segments, the last one seemed a little misplaced.

4. Somewhere I belong by Linkin Park - From the album Meteora - Even those who accept a life of wandering, even those who are used to the loneliness and even those who know that this is the best way for them to live their life the way they want to, everyone who wanders, stops to think sometime and wishes they had somewhere they belonged, even if they have no idea how to get there.


Linkin Park's video - Excellent video, the images are rarely directly from the lyrics, but in emotion they match right with the song, plus it gives Salvador Dali his props.

Somewhere I belong AMV - TV show - Avatar: the Last Airbender - A nice combo of Avatar and song, and it's especially impressive that while it rotates through many characters it touches upon the emotions of the song with most of them.

5. I'm like a Bird by Nelly Furtado - From the album Whoa, Nelly (I know, it's not a very good name, and yet it's my favorite of her albums, go figure, I mean, go figure out why this is, GO!) - Starting with a bird, ending with a bird. I have to say I've often felt that feeling that even though I might love someone, in the end I wouldn't be able to manage a relationship. Of course, given that I've never really gone out on a real date and all my crushes have been unreciprocated and given that my emotional problems are very different than the ones she's singing about and given... well, basically my life and this song are not parallels even in the loosest of senses, but it still touches upon an emotion that I feel, and it explicates that emotion well.

Nelly Furtado's video

I'm Like a Bird AMV - anime - Air - I've never actually seen this anime, and from what I see in this video it may be too spot on, but still this video is beautiful and it manages to add another layer of sadness to the song. Maybe if I watch the anime I'd change my mind, but I did like this video a good deal.

Anyways, that's all for now, so take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Shaving the Tom

Here's a little piece of work from the archieves (mine, not the website's, certainly not yours, and not MMR's, although one day...).

Shaving the Tom
by Rand

It was late at night, but I was reading a book of some sort and so the hour had become irrelevant. My roommate Tom was fiddling around with his computer, surfing the web or something of the like. The dorm room was small, but our activities were modest and so it was enough. It wasn't decorated terrifically, but Tom had put up a poster or two, slightly livening up the dull whiteness of the walls. There was only a small corridor between the mess originating from my side of the room and the one originating from his side. It was walkable for a few people, but not for many. My mess was more newspapers and books than anything else, his was more interesting, it had magazines, weights, DVDs, and other accessories of a less geeky man. We did not have a great room, but it served our purposes, which were modest, especially that evening. For once, the floor seemed to complement that modesty with silence. Most of our floormates were asleep and the others had their doors closed, and for once there was no poker in the lounge. But of course, there were a few others who like us did not respect sleep.

We kept our door closed normally as a matter of privacy and at night we kept it locked so that we wouldn't have to lock it as we each slowly lost the will to remain awake. But we knew that at any moment of the day or night a poker game could break out on our floor so we responded to any knock promptly and without suspicion. That night was no different and when there was a knock we bore none. He was a big man, both in girth and height, although he was not fat and there was obviously a lot of strength to him. I don't think he would be afraid to open the door in the middle of the night any where in the world, and since I was lazy, he was the one to answer the knock. He undid the lock and opened the door with a somewhat sleepish look on his face, but that look was instantly dispelled when he saw what was in the hallway. What replaced it was a feverish excitement as he tried in vain to push the door closed. But it was too late, the two men on the other side succeeded in forced it open. The two were Chris F. (there were two other Chris's on our floor) and Bill, two of mine and Tom's friends from the floor, often they came to our door to talk or play cards, but this time they held a chair and a razor and both Tom and I knew that their intention was neither to talk nor to play cards.

Tom was a rather average looking man, he was big, but he had a conventional haircut topped with a hat and framed by glasses. However, he did have one noticeable feature, long sideburns, ones long enough to invite playful jokes and on this occasion a forceful shaving. They instantly attempted to hold down Tom, but Tom was not one to lose his sideburns without a fight. Chris was a big man in his own right, again not fat and with a good deal of strength, Bill was skinnier but he prided himself on his solidly muscular physique, but even combined they were no match for Tom, a competitive weight-lifter. The fight was epic. Chris and Bill first went for Tom's arms, but he managed to throw Bill to the bed. Chris was more resilient but he too was forced off. Bill grappled him again and Chris managed to get the razor near Tom's face but Tom was able to break out of Bill's hold and knock away the razor. Both Chris and Bill refused to quit but it looked like Tom would in fact defeat two of the strongest men on our floor. However, at that moment, another floormate of ours, Bryan, a less athletic man but still strong and very committed to a good joke, passed by the door and decided to join in. Still Tom proved difficult to capture. Although his attackers surrounded him on all sides, he managed to keep them aside with powerful punches. In the process, chairs were knocked over, the messes on each side of our room merged and were scattered, and bruises were accumulated, but eventually through sheer persistence, Tom was worn down enough that Chris, Bill and Bryan were able to hold him still. Then they realized that they had lost the razor. Bryan searched through the mess, and I, before just an amused observer, joined in. We tore apart my room, moving beds and tables, throwing papers onto mine and Tom's beds, and slowly acquiring pieces of the razor until it was restored to usable condition. Then Bryan slowly approached Tom and after giving him a bit of shaving cream on one side, ran the razor down his left sideburn, cutting it away entirely. At that point Tom exploded out of Chris and Bill's grip and again knocked away the razor. For a moment the men stared at each other, but Chris, Bill, and Bryan decided that their point had been made. Tom had surely now learned that the price of a ridiculous hair style was the risk of a midnight shaving. We all laughed, and started gathering up the pieces, all of us that is except Tom who simply collapsed onto his bed, his energy completely and utterly spent.

I tell this story to my friends and family as a fond memory and it is. But I always wonder, could I have joined in on the fun? I enjoy a good prank and a good fight, and I surely would have enjoyed participating in the shaving, and Tom bore no ill will to Chris, Bill or Bryan, so I would be safe on that front. But I was uncertain whether Tom and I were good enough friends for me to help with that prank, and honestly I was unsure if I was good enough friends with his attackers to participate in the prank. That is why the memory, although fond, still reminds me of the uncertainty that marks my relationships with my friends, and demonstrates why I do not fight or pull pranks, despite the fact that I enjoy both. But to analyze this memory too much I think would do it a disservice, in the end it was what it was, a dumb, fun, hilarious college prank that gives me a smile every time I recall it.

Le sigh

When I first started my webpost project, I was pretty happy with mySpace. That was before I realized that blogspot or Blogger was much better than mySpace (it still doesn't quite get to what I want out of a webpost, but that goal will have to wait until I get either intense web design skills or a personal assistant). Over time I like to think I've built up a small but loyal audience on mySpace. I say like to think, because I'm really not sure of the facts of the matter. I do get a view count of about 20-30 views per day but I'm not sure A. how many people that actually amounts to and B. how many of those views actual mean a reading. So in response I have started to maintain two webposts, one here, and a mySpace webpost. This way in starting this webpost I have lost none of my audience. The dilemma though, is that I now must post everything (or at least everything important) that I put on one webpost on the other. And sometimes I slip up on that, like yesterday. That's why this webpost in particular might (might!) find a burst of material, or not.

The only way to resolve this is to get the fame to establish a highly loyal audience, but that is a project for about an hour from now.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Hate to say I told you so, except that song isn't in this post

Well, I bet you thought when I said I was going to use a strategy of posting up music videos to keep myself regular I was lying, I bet instead you thought I was going to eat more fiber. Well, you're wrong, and my colon is still dying ever so slowly. Because I was infinitely busy this day (4 classes in a day, a nice solid block between 9:50 (although I had to leave early since it was at a different campus)-4:40, plus newsbroadcast at the end of the day, plus I left my backpack on a different campus, so I'm not just being a bum here, I mean I'm not saying I'm not being a bum, but I'm not just being a bum, you bums! BUMMMMMS!!!!), I don't have time for a full post, or at least if I want some sleep, which I think it would be a good idea, although you never know, but weighing my options, sleep is good, so let me give you some music + videos, and maybe a little commentary.

1. Here is Gone by the Goo Goo Dolls - From the album Gutterflower - This is a song that's moving, got a great atmosphere, got lots of emotion, complex strong lyrics, multiple moods, and it's excellently executed. All and all, awesome, just awesome. But the song has a special significance to me because of how it reminds me of my second heartbreak, and because it was the first song for which, and to date the only song for which, I did an exposition dealing with various matters. Still even were that not the case, it is an excellent song worthy of being presented.
Commentary on the Lyrics (my commentary, for I am Rand!)


Goo Goo Doll's video - a solid video, a very good one in fact. It manages to move a good distance from the obvious interpretation of the song, or for that matter probably the inspiration for the song, but the video matches the feel of the song excellently. However, my policy for now is one video posted per song, and while this is very good, it's not extraordinary.

Here is Gone AMV (Anime Music Video) - anime - Treasure Planet (not technically an AMV, but I'm going to use that as a general term for music matched with shows/movies cut up. Why? Because this practice really took off with anime, and besides, because I can) - This is a somewhat unexpected combination (I say somewhat because although I would not necessary lump this song with this movie, the movie's soundtrack does include another good, but lesser, Goo Goo Dolls song), but it works, which makes it one of those nice catches you find while wondering around youTube that really deserves spotlighting since it expands your expectations. Besides, Treasure Planet is a highly underrated film, largely I think because it took itself seriously as a film despite being a Disney picture, but in my mind it was quality enough to be taken seriously and I think this AMV helps argue my point.

2. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen - From the Album A Night at the Opera - This song just has so much history that I feel its awesome is just common fact. But if you don't know it's awesome you should be ashamed of yourself. Come on, Bohemian Rhapsody! Queen! Rarely has there been a song which matched ambition with execution. Musically it is highly complex and every piece captures more and more emotions, bringing it all together into something simply amazing. I could probably write a whole post on simply the merits of this song, but I'm doing this music post due to my lack of time, not my abundance of it.

Queen's video - Now I'm not saying this is a bad video, by all means it is a good video, but I never felt it really captured the fullness of the song. The ambition of the song was so great, I feel they didn't have the technology back then to really match it with the right video.

Bohemian Rhapsody's AMV - anime: Neon Genesis Evangelion - Now today's technology includes being able to cut up video and put in new audio. And so now we can get some video worthy of this song. It doesn't hurt matters that the anime used is one of the most awesome and ambitious animes in the history of anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion. At first when watching the video, I thought it was a bit too spot on, matching image to word exactly, but the fact is the author of the video didn't do so causally, rather he or she used the matching to help build an organic feel to the video/song match, which helped them seemlessly blend together into something that naturally captures the human imagination without you even noticing. Also interesting was the choice to use a live show's audio, again I feel this works with the organicness of this AMV. But perhaps it is best to say it is simply awesome.

3. Satellite by POD - From the album Satellite - POD, or Payable on Death (catchy name, no?), was the band that showed me Christian rock does not have to suck. This is a strongly Christian song, but it rocks, completely and utterly. Emotionally powerful, musically charged, lyrically complex, I really need to think of new adjectives to describe songs better, I seem to be tripping over myself a good deal, but that does not diminish how good this song is.

POD's video - The graphics are great, but it's the energy that really makes this video fantastic. A lot of videos are too slow and drag on a song, but this helps capture the spirit of the song and even takes it up a notch.

Satellite's AMV - anime: Bleach - I like Bleach, and I like this video, but overall I'm not thrilled with it. Honestly it is a bit light weight. It just matches a really cool fight with a really good song. It does so decently well, but nothing special. But at this hour of night it is probably the best I could find with this song. Alas.

Unfortunately, this whole matter is taking me longer than I had hoped. Originally I had hoped to put up 5 videos today, but it is extremely late and I must wake up not that early but not that late. And so I must bid adieu with 3. I think my failing was that I overdid it with the commentary, which not only ate up time, but lessened the impact of the posting, perhaps I will curtail that next time, but ah, sleep beckons.

So anyways, take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The fire of the spirit inevitably causes some burns

I think one of the great difficulties of advocating democracies is living with the consequences. Perhaps one of Bush's great failings in his advocacy for democracy, he is never able to accept when things did not end up as he expected. Hamas is the greatest example of this. He immediately isolated it without trying to work out a livable agreement. Now for a general rule this would be forgivable, but Bush was supposed to be the champion of democracy, and an elected government at least deserves a chance if you believe that elections are a right. But perhaps I'm being too harsh, at the time I was only ambivalent about the sanctions, I see now that they were a mistake, but then...

The truth is that democracy is an unstable gamble. Even in success stories like the Estonia, where democracy has taken root and led to stability and growth, there have been some harsh consequences like the terrible treatment and subsequent radicalization of the Russian minority population. Even in the best of circumstances, democratization has been tough, and usually violent. We forget that even ours was pretty violent and had some bad consequences. The Revolutionary War was not a cake-walk and there were plenty of casualties but perhaps even worse was the treatment of loyalists after the war. By some estimates 1/3 of the British loyalists in the US fled the country after the war (that was actually an important factor in the populating of Canada). Afterward the revolution things weren't easy either. We had the several years under the Articles of Confederation where the United States was in a perpetual state of barely organized chaos. Revolt broke out (Shay's rebellion), foreign affairs was a mess (our treaties with the British had several matters unresolved, and our treaties with the Native American nations, many of whom at that time posed a serious threat to the US, were also a mess), in fact just like Iraq there were serious dangers of foreign influence (Spain had serious influence on the Mississippi region and there was danger of it being turned into their zone of influence). We forget all that, because it doesn't fit with the nice image of an organic democracy rising easily and naturally out of our society. That illusion was a great comfort for us and allowed us to justify our fears of other people's democratizing troubles, and justified our intervention to squash their attempts at democracy. It also gave us a false confidence that we need not fear for the health of our democracy, a very dangerous false confidence.

In fact, although without a doubt, non-violent democratizing efforts are generally better than violent ones (Freedom House, an organization dedicated to the ideals of democracy, has done a study showing that nonviolent democratizing makes for more enduring democracies (a great example of this is India's anti-colonial movement, the fact that it was founded on the ideals of nonviolence helped to breed a generation of nonviolent protesters who helped to keep India democratic (for example, many of them helped bring down Indria Gandhi's Emergency, the most dangerous period for India's democracy)), most of the older democracies in the world were founded on violence (the newer ones tend to have learned a little from the past). Take Europe for example, France's stumbling, off-and-on progression to democracy included the brutal reign of terror. Democracy was imported via costly war to Eastern Europe and Germany. Italy's democratizing is such a confusing process that I'm not going to get into it, but it involved some terrible violence including the institution of Fascism and its fall. Greece had to deal with a civil war. Spain and Portugal, eventually became democratic through non-violence, but they are relatively new democracies (1976 and 1974) and their record includes several spectacularly failed and spectacularly violent (especially in the case of Spain) previous tries at democracy. Ireland only got democracy after a long history of oppression and a combination of violent and non-violent efforts. Even England the big show case for gradual democracy only adopted gradual democracy after a Civil War so violent that it caused many philosophers like Hobbes to assume human nature was essentially violent (granted that Civil War led to a Restoration and it was actually only after that you had the Glorious Revolution and the beginnings of democratization, but that was a process started by the English Civil War).

So am I justifying violence here. Well, maybe in certain cases, but generally I think non-violent resistance is far superior, especially in these days when governments are powerful enough to quash most violent efforts, except guerilla efforts, which usually disintegrate into terror efforts against civilians and often fizzle out. What I am saying, in a very long fashion, is that we shouldn't be surprised that democratizing can have ill consequences or even violent ones. That doesn't mean, at least I believe it doesn't mean that people should stop trying for democracy. Democracy is a right. I don't like it when people talk about whether people should be given democracy or earn it, it is not something that is achieved or given, it is something people are born with. No, scratch that, they are not born with democracy, but rather something even more fundamental, something more essential and something that is rarely found without democracy, but is sometimes not found in a democracy, people are born with the right to be free. When people "earn" democracy they are simply taking back what is rightfully theirs.

Then what does it all mean? When I recite these things, I can say this is that and that is this, but what does it all mean? I suppose it means that even through violence people should press on. They should keep believing in freedom and strive to achieve it. I suppose this is a note of hope for the people of Iraq, but also the sad recognition that cases like Iraq, perhaps not as bad usually, but still violent and savage, will come in the future as other countries democratize. Yes, the violence can and should be avoided, primarily by using nonviolent protest techniques and avoiding alienating people by excessive nationalistic rhetoric, but still even in the best of cases, sometimes violence will happen, and we can try to prevent it, but it still might happen. Democracy is a crapshoot. Heck, life is a crapshoot. But we still press on.

So anyways, take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Zebras eat fruit too

So my first pick of 5 awesome songs to share with you oh so unworthy people, but who I love so much, it makes my heart ache, it really does, or does not, either way here's so songs and song-related stuff-a-ma-gigs.

Awesome songs (not my favorites, in no particular order but still completely awesome):

1. Unforgiven by Metallica - From the Black Album - Metallica's ode to resigned and complete rage and desperation

Metallica's video

Unforgiven AMV- anime : Record of Lodoss War- I chose to embed this one because this is one of the first AMV (anime music video)'s I saw, and it still is one of my favorites. Perfectly captures the song and the anime.

2.Electrical Storm by U2 - From The Best of 1990-2000 - Excellent, undervalued song. It's from the a best of album but it is actually only found there which is probably why it's undervalued. Beautiful line - "You're in my mind all of the time, I know it's not enough."

U2's video- I love how this video projects such immense atmosphere that captures romance but also a sadness and struggle.

Electrical Storm AMV- anime : Serial Experiments Lain - I like this video though I'm unsure (and by unsure I mean I'm unsure) how well it works with Serial Experiments Lain. Still I haven't seen that many videos with Serial Experiments Lain before, and it is a great anime.

3. Welcome to the Black Parade by My Chemical Romance - From The Black Parade - Odd song, perhaps that's it's charm. Complex, lyrically interesting, deep and it's got enough quality to pull the whole thing off. Also I thought I should include something new for you emo-heads.

My Chemical Romance's video

Welcome to the Black Parade AMV - anime: Fullmetal Alchemist - Anime is perhaps a little too spot on for very specific lyrics, the protagonist has serious father issues, but it does go with the dual tones of the song, and it overall provides some nice visuals.

4. Still Waiting by Sum41 - From Does This Look Infected? Album - The song that showed Sum41 had a lot more depth than the average punk-pop band and a hell of a lot more anger than their earlier singles. Perfect undirected, everywhere directed anger.

Sum41's video

Still Waiting AMV - anime : Samurai Champloo - Given that both characters are mad at the world so this anime has a nice fit. I think I'm not alone in that assessment since a lot of people seem to have made AMV's with this video. This AMV in particular focuses mostly on the fighting motions, beautiful in this anime, than the more atmospheric pieces of it, which perhaps is good since that allows it to be pissed as hell without being melodramatic.

5. I'm Going to Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers - From Sunshine on the Leith Album - Let's end on a sweet and happy note. Beautiful, cute, lovely song full of energy and feeling and just great. It really captures that overpowering, often stupid, desire to do anything you can for the one you love.

The Proclaimer's video

I'm Going to Be (500 Miles) AMV - anime : Ranma 1/2 - Another old video from my youth. But given Ryoga's feelings, it goes perfectly with him. I always wished Ryoga ended up with Akane instead of Ranma, but I always knew that couldn't happen. Still Ryoga's overwhelming feelings, just like the songs, just marvelous.

That's all for now. It actually took me a lot longer than I thought, but I doubt I'll have any time for any more given my busy moving schedule today. So take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!