Friday, December 2, 2005

Falling stars

The old Romanian astronomy professor smelled like bouillon cubes. He wore Cosby sweaters and black leather loafers with stiff tassels and worn leather soles. I never actually saw the soles but I assumed that they were worn and tattered, per his general appearance.

I signed up for the class the semester before my sophomore year for a few deeply thought-out reasons. Firstly, and most importantly to an average college student such as myself, I had heard it was an easy "A". I have since learned that this was a great fallacy, probably passed on to me by some bitter upper-classman who was similarly misled. Thankfully, I also had an interest in astronomy. I loved looking at the stars. I still do. I had little history with the subject but it seemed intriguing. There has always been something captivating about the night sky, ancient and archaic, evolving yet staid. In so many of my romantic fantasies I kissed the editor of the college newspaper under the stars. That was enough of a sell. And in addition to all of this frivolous reasoning, I wanted to seem worldly. I wanted to say that I had something in common with Galileo. I wanted to square off with all of the bearded bespectacled philosophy students in their tweed jackets and be able to expound my knowledge of the universe. My universe. We'd sip black coffee and smoke rolled cigarettes and stare up at the sky with understanding. And the editor of the college paper would be devastatingly impressed and ask me to join him on a hike through the mountains. Because like the stars, the mountains seemed so foreign and exotic to a suburban college commuter and self-proclaimed city slicker. Me and my editor fellow would strap on thick leather boots and name all the visible planets. He'd kiss me each time a shooting star passed by overhead.

I sold the fantasy. Instead, I ended up with three hours of lecture every Wednesday in a dismal tiled classroom with drafty windows that seemed like it could have been a set for "Welcome Back, Kotter." On the first day our professor stumbled painfully through an itemized syllabus with enough grammatical and spelling errors to make the English major in me twitch a little bit. His lectures were intolerable. His heavy accent was distracting and he read from ancient overhead sheets that we could have easily copied from our textbook. The only thing that kept me coming back every week was the giant bar of chocolate.

Every week our professor would give us a much-needed ten-minute break and then he'd pull a King-Sized milk chocolate bar from his brown leather briefcase. He'd break it into squares through the wrapper and tear it open for us to eat. We'd all grab a chunk and bleed into the hallway to recap the old man's best quotes for the day. Most of them were light-hearted pokes at his thick accent and his unsteady command of the English language. We'd sink down onto the salty brown floor of the hallway and lean coolly against the cement block wall. We'd stuff the chocolate down our throats and slap our knees and double over and laugh thick chalky laughs before heading to the vending machine for a bottle of soda to wash it all down. And the caffeine would keep us awake for the next two hours.

One day he forgot to bring our quiz for the week but he still remembered the chocolate. We shared another rbar and he asked us if we had any questions. By this class we knew not to bother asking--he just couldn't understand us at all. There was so little actual communication: lecture, chocolate, lecture. It was formulaic. It was ancient and staid. In fact it was nearly everything that I wanted from the class when I first signed up. And I started to welcome the routine.

Near the end of the semester I though to myself, "I'm going to buy him chocolate for the last day of class." I was so proud of myself for thinking it. I wanted a pat on the back that I didn't deserve. Weeks went by and eventually I entered the musty classroom for the last time to take my final. The old man stood at the front of the room smiling toothlessly at us, his cloudy gray eyes darting beneath the rusty-looking glasses on the end of his nose. When he turned to write on the chalkboard I noticed two large cysts on the back of his balding head and another on his neck. He turned back and pulled a chocolate bar from his leather case and broke it open mechanically for us on the lab table just out of reach. I watched everyone laugh and I heard the thickness in the back of their throats. They were still laughing, eating his chocolate, anxious to leave this stuffy room with all their youthful indifference. I took my test and followed them out.

I imagined the professor straightening our exams by himself in the cold classroom, trudging through the snow that reminded him of Romania to his rusted Ford Escort ("Red like Mars"). He drove home to his sturdy wife who was larger than him and who had a large brown mole atop her swollen left cheek. He told her over her beef stew how proud he was of all of us and how nice and good we were. How we really cared about astronomy, that we listened and studied and thanked him for the chocolate. And then he shook his head and swallowed a runny spoonful of beef stew and wondered why he ever came to America in the first place.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Yoko Okay

Sometimes I tell people not to "go Yoko on me". Like if my friends and I want to go to the movies and somebody crosses her arms and says she'd rather stay in and watch a movie, that's a Yoko move. Or if I'm working on a project with a friend and he says we should take a break and pose nude in an awkward position on the cover of Rolling Stone, I tell him "you're such a Yoko". Then I break down and do it. Twice.

Anyway I was thinking the other day about how hurtful this expression is. But for me it's kind of like calling someone a "Chatty Cathy." You know how stupid it is but at the same time, it's a dumbed-down cultural reference that is likely to be understood.

I guess lately I've been thinking about John and Yoko and people who think she broke up the Beatles and manipulated John. I don't buy it. I think this theory is insulting to John, Yoko, and the band. John loved her and to say in hindsight that she ruined him and used him is so tragic. John invested a lot of himself into his relationship with her so saying that she didn't really love him is terrible. That's like saying that everything he believed in with Yoko was a sham. That's harsh. All you need is love, right? John and Yoko had it. It was bizarre, it was happy, it was seedy and unclean at times, but most love is like that. Except for maybe the "seedy and unclean" part. But it was a different time. We have Mach 3 razors and Irish Spring now.

Alright enough of that.

It's been awhile since my last post. I'll do penance if you like. No? Good because I haven't had much time lately to do much of anything, barring my usual obligations. A major change in my life occured last week when I agreed to write a column for our official college newspaper, The Exponent.

The conflict is that I am a staff writer (and future editor-in-chief) for The Maelstrom, which is my college's unfunded alternative news publication. Sort of like The Onion, sort of like The Paris Review, a little bit Daily Show. It's the most personally rewarding thing that I'm involved with at school. Because of The Maelstrom I'm able to write weekly satire (the dream), I've made friends with a nice pocket of cool, smart, like-minded folks, and I'm so proud of the work that I do for it.

Anyway our official school paper is kind of a joke. It's mostly school news about events that happened last week, a few poorly organized editorials, and a few bright spots interspersed among a lot of muck. It's hit-or-miss basically. Anyway my friend Shawn who also writes for Maelstrom, is the A&E editor for the Exponent. We've often talked about the conflicting values/content of both papers and whether or not it's hard to balance working for both. In the end, I think Shawn does it for the paycheck and to get practical experience writing/editing a more "professional" publication. He's a brilliant writer and plans to make a career of it and "paid editor for college paper" sounds a lot better to most than "writer/idea man for underground satirical magazine laid-out in Microsoft Word." I respect him for making this choice.

Recently, however, Shawn asked me to write a short column called "This Week in Pop Culture." I wrote it in the style of the dude who does the Celebrity News in the Plain Dealer. Sort of a Weekend Update-in-print deal. Some of my punchlines were cut out because of space issues I think, and some because I couldn't get out of Maelstrom-mode and might have gotten a tiny bit racy. Last week he asked me to write a review of "Bee Season." I obliged.

I have mixed feelings about "selling-out." I get a decent stipend for my work on Exponent. It's not hugely significant, but it is in a sense that it's the first money that I will get for my writing (besides scholarships and stuff like that.) I sort of feel like I'm growing. And I think I'm growing in the right direction. I'm still in love with Maelstrom and my artistic values remain intact. And Shawn means a lot to me and I'm happy that we can share this thing with both papers. I think he kind of helped me open the door and grow up a little bit. We can't be totally bohemian forever. Maybe in heart, but in pocket a little stipend is sort of important if we want to stay alive.

Out for now.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Sink Like a Stone

Earlier today I was walking to the Math and Computer Science Building talking a poem to myself--just sort of freestyling. Anyway, I tried to remember it after math class but you know how that goes. So I decided to scrap it and start over--but I wanted to make a piece that was completely free-flowing and untouched. This is how it appears in my notebook without alteration. Every line came right after the other and my pen never stopped moving. It was an exercise that I learned from Ellis Paul. Okay here it is:
Folk Music
It's country with a conscience.
It's Hank & Woody getting paid by the pick,
flicking the stringswith calloused thumbs
like the doorman flicks his Zippo.
It's not getting paid
playing Thursday nights to a sea of nods
and black coffee
and cigarettes.

Folk is a room with picture windows that open doors
if you sing the right words.
It's the walkin' man
with a guitar slung,
a harmonica hum.
How every man starts outa Dylan doppelgange
rand every girl lets her long hair fall over
the fretboard.
All we are saying,
All we are saying,

All we are saying is all that we have
That's why it's repeated in the refrain.
It's open
Open to interpretation
Open tuning
Open your ears,
hear the jingle-jangle,
the bottom of a tip cup,
the snap of a quick pluck.
The palm can't mute the soul
This ain't rock-n-roll.
It's grass roots
and wooden flutes
and if folk can't pay the rent, babe,
you'd better start singin' the blues.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Politically Correct Interest Survey

Al and I were talking about how fun it must be for teachers to create tests and use peoples' names for hypothetical questions. So here's a test:

1) Jose offers you a choice between the top bunk or the bottom bunk. He says that he is indifferent. Do you pick the top or the bottom bunk? Does your desicion have to do with the fear of being knifed in your sleep?

2) Melinda is selling Girl Scout Cookies for local troop number 1678525643. The boxes cost $6.00 each and require proof of insurance and a major utility bill upon purchase. Which kind of cookie do you buy from little Melinda? Remember--if she sells the most she gets to go to Space Camp!

3) Henrik is trying to figure out where to take you for dinner for your anniversary. He finally decides that he should let you pick the restaurant. Which restaurant do you pick? Will you go Dutch with Henrik?

4) You are riding in the passenger side of Lorenzo's 1992 Toyota Tercel and it really hits you that you'd like to try riding in a nice car for once. Which car do you fancy yourself in?

5) Giovanni can fit nine heads in two duffel bags. How many bags will he need to tote 36 heads? Knowing all of this, would you date Giovanni?

6) Sebastian likes to play board games. He picked last time and you both enjoyed a game of strip parcheesi. Now it's your turn. What game would you like to play with Sebastian?

7) Muhammad, Chang, and Tyrone invite you to their house party and ask you to bring three CDs. Which three CDs do you bring to get the party pumping? (Note: do not let your decision be affected by the names of the characters in this question.)

8) Seamus tells you over and over again in a really loud voice that he likes Guinness better than he likes his rat-bastard of a father. Then he scratches his ruddy beard and orders another pint. He asks what you're drinking. So what are you drinking?

9) Shirley wants to go to shopping for some clothes and pick up adolescent boys at the local mall. Which store do you duck into to spend your time in while Shirley is led away in handcuffs from a group of Boy Scouts? Why don't Boy Scouts sell cookies like Melinda?

10) Things are getting pretty heavy between you and Aloysious/Aggie. It's time to plan a perfect romantic evening so the three of you can be alone. What's the blueprint for the night?

11) Winston is screaming at the screen in the local cheap theater. He hates this "Passion of the Christ" movie! Which movie do you hate more than "The Passion of the Christ"?

12) Don't you just hate it when Sade clips her toenails over the carpet? Eesh! Is there something that's more annoying to you than Sade?

13) You and Chilton are stranded in the soup aisle and somebody needs to make a shotgun decision! Which soup is on the dinner table tonight?

14) Your friends Angel and Jing-Lang are trying to decide which phase of Madonna's career they like the most. You punch both of them in the throat.

15) Blanket asks if you'd like to have a Dum-Dum from his daddy's massive candy jar while he is still riding the mini-train out back. Which flavor Dum-Dum do you take? After you have procured the Dum-Dum, how fast do you run away?

I hope you guys do this/enjoy this. I put off sleeping to make it!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Lyrics to Live By

Choose a Band/Artist/Album and describe yourself only in song lyrics:

Band/Artist/Album of choice: Ellis Paul--Live

Are you male or female?: "Here she is"

Describe yourself: "Like when she smiles, it's slightly out of line./It's half awkward, yet half grace. "

How do some people feel about you?: "I've come a long, long way"

How do you feel about yourself?: "You paint the picture/With colors squeezed from your hand"

Describe your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend: "The excuses get weaker/As the stories get tall"

Describe your current boyfriend/girlfriend: "Tonight will this mystery end?/ When we begin "

Describe where you want to be: "It was cold in the park"

Describe what you want to be: "The great American novel sits on top of Peter's kitchen table/300 pages on a town he built inside of his head"

Describe how you live: "You gotta get gone, you gotta get goin'/Hey the world ain't slowin' down for no one"

Describe how you love: "And she'll love like it's thirst, like she's never been hurt"

Share a few words of wisdom: "Seize the day"

I've been writing a lot lately. Perhaps I'll post a little bit later.

Monday, October 3, 2005


I was just playing Oregon Trail and I totally got screwed just before reaching the Green River or something. Gah! I wasted an hour of my life and a lot of pioneer rations!








Yea. Let's have a THIRD go at it, shall we?

Monday, September 19, 2005


Here's a shot of the Cave, making its triumphant return for sophomore year. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 5, 2005

Numbers

I think the first time I really talked to Jay was two months ago. It was my 20th birthday on February 7th and I think that was the first time that we really talked, just the two of us. We’d talked before—we hung around behind the counter and went on and on about records and our favorite independent films and which bands were coming to town. But on my twentieth birthday, we sort of hit this new level. We were leaving work, heading to our cars and just as I was turning the key to unlock my door he says over the roof of his car parked next to mine, “So what’s it like to be 20?” And he told me that I’d been alive for two decades, two eras, and five presidential terms.

And it must have had something to do with me never thinking about it before that point in the day. Not really thinking about it. I had to turn and I left my keys hanging in the door. And I told him that I hadn’t seriously thought about what it was like. But that it did feel different—because suddenly I was aware of numbers more than I ever had been. When you’re a kid you think numbers are the most important thing in the world. Especially when it comes to age. Little kids are always throwing their fingers in the air, showing the world how old they are today and how old they’ll be next year. When you turn ten it’s the biggest thing in the world because you’re in the double digits. And even when you grow up, you freak out at 25 because it’s closer to 30 and you freak out at 40 and wonder why you were freaking out at 25 because it was mostly great back then and now you have a bum leg and you’re losing your vision.

The kinds of numbers that I was having difficulty with weren’t that kind. They mostly had to do with how many times I’d experienced certain things. Like kisses. The truth is that at that point on my 20th birthday I had only been kissed 36 times. And that seems like a big number until you consider that almost half of those were stage-kisses for the theater and half of the stage-kisses were for rehearsals which count even less. And even out of all the other times I think maybe three of them were real, meaningful, good kisses. I thought about all of the missed opportunities for kisses. I thought about why kissing was such a big deal. Then I thought about wine. I’d had 13 glasses of wine. Mostly with my family for special dinners or events. I’d never had any hard liquor, never done shots, never even a beer. I was clean. Virtually un-kissable and sober at twenty. Those were the kinds of numbers that were suddenly bothering me. I was in my second year at college—almost to my third. And there were so many kids drinking every night, and being kissed. The kisses might not have been meaningful to those kids, but they were plentiful. And that gave them better odds.

It’s strange, but I told all of this to Jay without apprehension. I just sort of unloaded it on him and afterwards I told him how good it felt. I forgot to mention this but while I was telling him about numbers he was slowly taking steps around to the other side of his car—to the side that was close to me. I don’t know why I stopped caring about whether or not he knew the real person I was. Suddenly it didn’t matter that he knew I was probably an accidental virgin or that I chose not to drink or that I’d probably never smoked a cigarette in 20 years. I didn’t feel like that would make me less cool to him. Instead, I felt like now I could tell him anything. Like I could ask him anything.

Jay had told me that when he was twenty, he was in a band and that his band was going to make it big in New York City and even if they didn’t, they were just going to head out there to play the underground clubs and let out their sound. But then he met this girl. And he married her and didn’t go. I always felt bad about that because when he talked about his band his eyes just got so much more sincere. So that night, on my birthday, I asked him if he regretted being married. And then he kissed me and I think it was my 37th kiss. I was twenty years old and as I felt the inside walls of his shoes bump against the toes of mine as we kissed my 37th kiss, I became less concerned with age. I think he was 39. I’ve stopped caring. My keys were still dangling from the door when he pulled away. I couldn’t look at his face at that moment, but in my side view mirror, his eyes were locked upon my own and I had never seen them looking more sincere.

Friday, April 1, 2005

Monday, March 28, 2005

Peanut and Foreshadowing

You scored as Existentialism. Your life is guided by the concept of Existentialism: You choose the meaning and purpose of your life.


“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”
“It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.”
--Jean-Paul Sartre


“It is man's natural sickness to believe that he possesses the Truth.”
--Blaise Pascal


More info at Arocoun"> Wikipedia User Page...

Existentialism

80%

Utilitarianism

65%

Hedonism

65%

Divine Command

55%

Strong Egoism

50%

Justice (Fairness)

50%

Kantianism

45%

Nihilism

15%

Apathy

0%

What philosophy do you follow? (v1.02)
created with QuizFarm.com

Arocoun">

Friday, March 25, 2005

Quicksand

Sometimes "I want to see you tonight" means "I want to see you tonight".

Sometimes it means "I want to be us tonight".

Sometimes it means "I don't want them to see us tonight".

I am a pathetic loser. I will delete this post within the next twenty four hours. But for now it stays.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

John Proctor

If only they had stayed away for a little bit longer, and left us cowering in our new corner...

I feel a haiku coming on:

Hide behind the bar.
Kiss me when she runs upstairs.
No one has to know.


Haiku.

Bless me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The points system...

I'm going to start recording points. I don't know what I'm going to do with whoever collects the most points, but here's the day's tally:

Andrew - 20 points
Sam - 12 points
Toni- 4 points
Kevin- 13 points
Dane- 6 points
Me- 10 points

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Ides, dude.

Yea this has nothing to do with the Ides of March. I know, I know "et tu, stdesantis". Sorry I fooled you. Really, the title of this post should be "The Genius of My Cat". This weekend I was working on my screenplay at home on the floor (I do that) and my cat walked over my keyboard when I rolled over for a sip of Diet Coke. Here's what the thing came up with:

N bjmn


Now normally we could just laugh this off and say, "Ha. Stupid cat walked on your keyboard. Lame!" But if you will just stay with me, dear reader, while I explain the genius of this furry little housebeast...

She capitalized her first letter. Clearly, this cat knows the most fundamental rule of the complete sentence. You capitalize the first word, which, in this case, is "N". Then, she put a space between her two words. Brilliant! A space!

The tragedy is that I didn't allow my cat to continue on her path of feline literary achievement. Instead, I swatted her away before she could even insert end punctuation. I was ignorant and quite afraid that she would delete my entire screenplay. Yea right! This cat totally understands the Ctrl+S command! Oh it pains me to think of how her bright little paws could have revolutionized my craft! It could have been me, Oscar! It could have been me [ow]!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Jealous Again

I am a jealous lover. I decided that when I was watching "The End of the Affair" the other day. Ralph Fiennes' character "measures the degree of his love by the degree of his jealousy" and it just clicked that I am the same way. It makes me spiteful and bitter and paranoid and I absolutely hate it.

I don't want to be bothered by anything, but I am.

This is the most pointless and ridiculous post ever.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Take that, Central Perk.

I decided the other day that if I retire with a considerable amount of money, I'd like to open a coffee house. It would be a house, of course--not a "place" or a "shop" or even a "shoppe". I'd find an old building and renovate it and just have my own coffee house. We'd serve good stuff like tea and chai (real Oregon chai--not chai-flavored syrup) and we'd have creative house blends and jet tea and milkshakes and biscotti and muffins and sandwiches and wraps and cheesecake.

I would host artists every weekend and I'd have an open mic during the week. I wouldn't limit the entertainment to music. I'd welcome poetry, comedy, studio art, photography, sculpture, interprative dance, whatever. I would host a monthly poetry slam and maybe an annual drama festival sort of thing where actors could read or act selections from plays.

I would have a bar at the counter, tables spread throughout and a few couches in the back next to big bookshelves. I would collect book donations the shelves and even do a little bartering. Like if you bring five used books for the shelves you get a free cup of coffee. Or if you see a book on the shelves that you like you can trade one of your own for it.

I'd patronize Caruso's coffee, of course (nepotism works when the product is good!) but I would rename the blends after famous writers.

The Ferlinghetti Blend (Cappuccino)
The Hemingway Blend (Cinnamon Hazlenut- decaf)
The Bard's Blend (English toffee--or the Othello Blend which would be a combination of dark and white chocolate syrup)
The Kerouac Blend (Frangelico- nutty and poignant with a staying taste)
Dickinson's Homebody Blend (Not sure about this one but it would definitely be decaf)
Tennessee's Tin Roof Blend (Just like it sounds- tin roof, yo!)
The Neruda Blend (Chilean coffee con leche)
Heart of Darkness (Obviously Ethiopian, Kenyan, or Sumatran)

I'd be psyched to sell new blends every day because I could include new authors. I would ask the customer to give the name of or quote one of the day's author's works and if they could I'd give them 10% off their next purchase.

Oh I have to go. More later.

Monday, February 14, 2005

My youth= The new 2 Disc Compilation

I'm putting together an ultimate mix of songs that I listened to religiously during my youth. Here's what I have so far:

1) Ice Cream- Sarah McLachlan
2) Pearl Jam- Yellow Ledbetter
3) Live- Lightning Crashes
4) Counting Crows- Round Here
5) Nirvana- Heart-Shaped Box
6) R.E.M.- The One I Love
7) Mighty Mighty Bosstones- Simmer Down
8) Beatles- Octopus's Garden
9) Creedence Clearwater Revival- Bad Moon Rising
10) Joe Diffie- Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox
11) Fugees- No Woman, No Cry
12) Jewel- Foolish Games
13) Black Crowes- Hard to Handle
14) Soundgarden- Black Hole Sun
15) Cranberries- Dreams
16) Radiohead- Creep
17) Smashing Pumpkins- 1979
18) Red Hot Chili Peppers- Under the Bridge
19) Cardigans- Love Me
20) Alanis Morrisette- Head Over Feet
21) Tori Amos- Silent All These Years
22) Depeche Mode- Personal Jesus
23) Green Day- Basketcase
24) U2- One
25) Tom Petty- Free Fallin'
26) Weezer- Say It Ain't So
27) Natalie Merchant- Wonder
28) Gin Blossoms- Follow You Down
29) Blues Traveler- Run Around
30) Jane's Addiction- Jane Says
31) Fiona Apple- Criminal
32) Beck- Loser
33) Bush- Glycerine
34) Wallflowers- One Headlight
35) Boyz II Men- Water Runs Dry
36) Aerosmith- Janie's Got a Gun

18 Songs on each? Sounds full enough to me! Maybe my brother's hip-hop influence doesn't show through, and there was definitely some more classic rock that I didn't touch on. Stuff like Van Morrison. I feel bad for leaving that older stuff out. But oh well. That's another mix.