UPDATE: welcome to book club
Hello all.

The format of official Book Club posts is going to be updated starting with The Picture of Dorian Gray. Thanks to Mark's suggestion, I am going to be writing several posts per book, each about only certain sections (eg several chapters). My aim will be to write about 3-4 posts per book, and they will all be linked to in the sidebar under their respective book titles. This is all an attempt to make this seem more like a real book club in which you can follow along with what I'm reading (or have read) as it happens.

Let me know your feelings...


New Year's Resolution

Hello world.

We're now in the last remaining days of 2008 and I haven't made a new post for over 7 months. However, only the most vigilant of you readers will know that I have been updating this blog each time I complete another book. I just finished my 21st book for the year, Zodiac by Neal Stephenson, just a few hours ago, and that should be the last update I make for 2008.

Altogether, I think this was a successful year of reading, but I know that I can do better. Not being in school has actually made it more difficult to get into a steady reading routine since I no longer have hour-long breaks between classes and 20 minute bus rides daily. When I'm home I am drawn towards watching TV and cruising the internet, setting my reading aside for a later time. I usually don't get around to picking up my book until I'm in bed for the night, and then I'm likely to read no more than 2 pages before going crosseyed and falling asleep.

But I am determined to change this. 2009 should be a year that brings about a lot of change for me (new job??? HUGE income??? cross your fingers), and I'd like to start it off right by forming new good habits. I am addicted to shopping for books (I love seeing new spines staring at me from the shelf), but my reading can never keep up with my buying. I therefore have started off by setting a rule that I'm not aloud to buy a single book in '09 until I've completed ten others. I already have all of those picked out, and it's not going to be a short term task. Two of them have 900+ pages, and four have 500+. If I continue reading at my current pace, it'll be well into July before I'm finished with that lineup. That's not acceptable. I'm aiming for April, maybe sooner. That is my goal, my New Year's resolution.

To begin, I have chosen two books to read concurrently. I'm usually a single-book kinda guy, but one of these is a graphic novel called Watchmen (you might recognize it from the movie trailers that just came out), and I'd feel a little too nerdy reading that in public. Therefore, that shall be my at-home book while Wolves of the Calla, the fifth installment in Stephen King's Dark Tower series, will be the one I tote with me to work and such.

Ally has made it a goal to read 50 books this year. That's about a book a week. If I tried to keep pace with her, I'd be finished with my first 10 books by the middle of March. That's a little bit too insane for me, so I've set a more moderate goal for myself. Really, I'm just hoping to step up my game from last year. If I complete more books this year than last, ie 22, then the goal will be fulfilled. It would, however, be much more satisfying to blow last year's numbers out of the water rather than barely squeaking by (especially if I'm already halfway there by April), so I had better stop typing and start reading.

Off I go, reading like a madman. Like Ally.


book club is becoming book club

So I'm not really reading. I've been on Picture of Dorian Grey for about 2 weeks now, and have read only 40 pages. I don't know what's caused the shift, but I don't like it. It might be because I'm not super into the book (it's good, but it's semi-laborious to get through). I'll try to get it done soon, though, and that might cause me to forgo writing several posts on it, and instead just write one big one at the end like usual. Also, because of my other blog (which is still in the experimental phases...it might not be permanent), I'm not really writing too much on this one.

I have concluded that I shall turn this blog strictly into a Book Club.
I will update my other blog regularly (hopefully daily given the nature of the project), and this one only when I finish a book (or finish a section if I ever get around to doing the multiple post thing). I will inform you all when that happens over at my other blog so that you don't have to keep checking back here to see if I've written yet.

Let me know if you like this idea.

Do we have a deal?



[Rated R Queens of the Stone Age]

I keep finding too many books that I want to read, and my Wish List is already longer than my Completed. It's turning into another Netflix fiasco. Mine and Ally's queue is close to 300 movies long. It's only grown since we started subscribing two years ago. We've never watched more movies than we've added in a given time period. The Wish List is taking a timeout and will expand once depleted some.

Hannah's great at catching balls. She loves balls. What a silly little ball-licker she is. Sometimes when you throw a ball to her, she seems to freeze up and forget what to do. She closes her eyes and ducks. After the ball bounces off of her pointy head, she'll start chasing it like she wanted it all along. What a weirdo.

If you weren't you, would you be your friend? Maybe it's just me, but I'd probably be my best friend. I'm fucking hilarious to myself. To Ally: not so much. I think she laughs AT me more than with me. At least I'm making her laugh, I'm happy with that. Some of the shit I do is pretty stupid, though, so it's possible that I'm going for the laugh-at factor. I occasionally find myself annoying. I know that it's happening, but I can't control it sometimes. It makes me wonder if your personality is inherent to you, or if you can change who you are at will. I can temporarily stop myself from continuing the annoying actions, but I always do them again at a later date.

I think that there are two kinds of people in the world: the Performers and the Audience. The Performers always need to be the center of attention. They're funny, they're boisterous. The Audience members are quieter and, though they may be just as social as the Performers, they're more on the fringes of a large group rather than at the epicenter. My best friends throughout history have all been Performers: Nick Larson has made me laugh more than anybody else in the world, Ryan Altermatt was extraordinarily extroverted, AJ Carrillo is all of the above. They all need someone to pay attention to them, to tell their jokes to, and I was always that person. As a self-proclaimed Audience, I laugh at all the appropriate times and give feedback only when necessary, effectively encouraging the Performers further. Since Audience members could possibly be classified as boring, two of them put together would be a silent, awkward disaster. Don't get me wrong, I tell jokes from time to time and get pretty amped when telling a good story, but it's not a persistent thing. All that I'm saying is that Performers need an Audience to laugh at them, and Audiences need a Performer to laugh at. They make perfect friends.

There's a plastic bag sitting in my neighbor's driveway. There's a slight breeze today; at least enough to blow a bag down the street. But this bag has been sitting in the same place for over thirty minutes. Occasionally it'll catch a wisp of wind and be lifted into the air and dance parallel to the garage door. It'll zip into the lawn and around trees and look like it's about to finally float away. But then I'll look up five minutes later, and it's sitting back on the driveway. I feel like I've seen this before...

I might take up a daily picture project. I might not. Don't get your hopes up. There are several reasons why I want to:
  • I want to post on here more often. This would give me a reason to do so.
  • I want to get excited about the camera that I'm buying in the next month or two.
  • I happened into a photo-op the other day that would have perfectly described my feelings and summed that day's events. Mark told me at the last Beer Club that no one should ever be caught without a camera handy (even though he was without camera-in-hand that night), and I wish I had heeded his advice on that day. I took mental pictures of the event, but due to my lack of artistry, I can't really convey them to you.


the metric system and other such ponderings

[The Crane Wife The Decemberists]

I've recently become obsessed with haikus thanks to Lindsey's super-creative blog. Here are some that I wrote in a boring class to keep from sleeping.

My eyes are heavy
My head is feeling the same
My god I'm dying


Thinking eludes me
My dreams have taken over
Tick tock, so goes time


Meters, kilograms
The simplicity of them
Inches are stupid


Your head hair is red
Do the curtains match the drapes?
I'm just curious...


Notice I started out only being able to think about how tired I was, and then I slowly started waking up since you have to be alert to count the syllables of a million different synonyms until you find one that fits. I think that in my semiconscious sleep deprived delirium, I became slightly ornery.

finding the unknown

[The Gulag Orkestar Beirut]

I have a lot to say, but no way of saying it. I'm done being tired. I need to conquer something to make me feel better. NCAR worked for about a week, but I'm back to square one. Maybe I should make a resume and send it out and get a job so that I have one less thing to bitch about. I bitch about it a lot, too. How much do you want to bet that when I finally get that job, I'll bitch about it just as much.

Or maybe I just need Ally to come back home to make me feel better.

I feel like I'm in a little blog community that has arisen due to my association with Wine Club. I don't really read anybody's blog outside of that community, and likewise I'm pretty sure my only readers are those same friends (thanks Google Analytics). I wonder if it's just because I know these people that I'm so invested in what they have to say everyday.

I want to eavesdrop on someone else's community; become just as engrossed in their posts as I am with my friends'. There have got to be some good blogs out there somewhere (unlike my own. Let's be honest) that have stayed extremely hidden from the world (like my own. I only get ~10 hits/day.). I think that at one of the early Wine Club meetings (back when Mark actually hosted them rather than defaulting all meetings to Mr. Vice President's place), we talked about voyeurism...in regards to what, I don't remember (but many of them are photographers, so there's already a suggestion of it in their personalities). I feel like this could be a really satisfying form of it. We, the mighty bloggers of the internets, chose to make our thoughts and opinions public. There's a considerable amount of filtering we do to pick and chose which of these actually make it into our posts. So it's not like I'd be doing anything that these people aren't already soliciting and putting a lot of thought into just so that others will be entertained, or whatever other reason. In fact, I'd probably be doing exactly what they're hoping would happen. How great would it be to be a "blog of note"? Well, on second thought, that'd suck. Whenever you look at the vast amount of comments those blogs have gotten since they became "notable", many of them are just criticizing the blog. "Boring" is a popular comment. I'd rather remain obscure than be heavily criticized by holier-than-thou strangers.


eight nine ten things i know, have learned, or observed

My thoughts from tonight's Beer Club while I'm still mildly (ever so mildly) intoxicated:
  • I love Ally. Sometime I hear stories from my friends about scandalous, fun, short-term flings they have, and wonder if I'm missing out. Sometimes I think that a lifestyle like that is very appealing. But then I realize that those flings frequently last for no more than a week, and people get pretty depressed in between. I'm happy all the time. Ally and I both grind our teeth at night, and that's something other people envy (I know that sounds weird, but go with it). Why would I ever want to give something like that up?
  • I don' know the people I hang out with outside of the action space that I know them in. I've never seen some of the people at Weer Club outside of that setting, and I feel like that's really limiting how well I can possibly know them. What kind of people does Annabelle hang out with? Who (besides her cousin) is her best friend? What kind of art does she do? Mark talked about one of her recent pieces and how dark it is. This got me to thinking that maybe she has some sort of dark side to her beneath the little I-want-to-pinch-your-cheeks facade she has at Wine Club meetings. Between the unassumingly large amount of piercings and the tattoos, she's not exactly giving me much reason to think that I really know all there is to know about her...That goes for the rest of the Wine Club members. I think that it's time that I make friends with them in the real world, not just within the rigidly structured mass-social confines of the club.
  • I'm usually #6 in the raffle. Tonight I was #13. #6 (Gordon) won. Fuck that.
  • Mark suggested a possible solution to my "Sightings" section. I think that in the near future I'm going to start a blog where any of you can join as an author and post your Sightings. Comments will be open, authoring will be open, and the books you "sight" don't even need to be previous Book Club books. In fact, if you'd like, it can digress into another whole book community type thing where we all discuss any book we'd like to, recommend new books, etc. This might just be a pipe dream of someone that thinks that he has more readers willing to contribute than he really has, but so what? I'm content with talking to myself, so if I'm the only one that writes anything, my feelings won't be hurt. Assholes.
  • I'm uncomfortable with weird unsolicited public awkward touching, and I'm not even the one being touched.
  • I want to be a rock god like Mark.
  • Apparently being an artists means that you can easily coax girls into getting naked, crawling into your bed, and posing for pictures without them thinking that you're a creeper.
  • I like tobacco in certain social situations. If I'm very comfortable with the people around me and we're all chillaxing with beer-in-hand, then I really want to break out the pipe. Tobacco Club very well may be a real possibility in the near future.
  • I have an oral fixation and an addictive personality. Thank god (if he actually existed, which he doesn't) for Tea Tree Chewing Sticks. Unfortunately I'm stuck with some bullshit alternate brand for the time being.
  • The world is small. Stacey or Stephanie or fucking Stedman (whatever her name is) is in my Primate Behavior class. I've had classes with Gordon, Mark, and Sondra before. Lindsey just got a job where I work (and I had no previous knowledge of her applying beforehand).


the length of everything

[Abbey Road The Beatles]

I just deposited a lot of ca$h-money ("this is your show...Yo Momma!") into an IRA today. I now have a retirement fund but nothing to retire from. Fuck a duck.

I've decided that I eventually need to read some non-fiction for Book Club. Last week in my Primate Behavior class we had a lecture about homosexuality in human and nonhuman primates. Our teacher started talking about a book called Biological Exuberance by Bruce Bagemihl who did a study that showed that homosexuality is found pretty universally across the animal kingdom. The lecture was probably the most interesting one we've had all semester, so I decided to look into getting the book.

It's 768 pages long.

I'm not typically opposed to long books. In fact, I usually embrace them because it feels so good when you finish one. But I figure that for my first foray into non-fiction, I should maybe take it a little easy. I'm guessing that the only way a science book on a fairly narrow subject could be that long is if it goes into a lot of depth about various theories and other specifics. I'll read it someday, but not yet.

Ally's father got me Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything for my birthday (thanks Brian). Even though that's a pretty formidable 478 pages, it covers, well, nearly everything. I guess that means that "a lot of depth" isn't quite implied; in fact, the exact opposite is.

By the way, I'm thinking about somehow doing a "Sightings" section in which I talk about places in real life that I've seen or heard references to the books I've read for Book Club. For example, the other day in that same Primates class, we were talking about infanticide (the killing of infants), and someone brought up The Giver. I thought it was such a great reference that I really wanted to write about it, but didn't have a good place to do so. I guess I could just make a new post for each or one giant post that I keep updating with every sighting, but it'd also be fun if you all could also write about any sightings you've had. I don't know. Any suggestions?


the kindness of a child

[And Their Refinement of the Decline Stars of the Lid]

Warning: review is riddled with spoilers.

Book: Ender's Game Orson Scott Card 10/10
Amazing. Definitely deserves a perfect rating because it's become one of my favorite books. There were about 150 pages there in the middle that I just couldn't stop reading. When Ender started to pwn other armies in Battle School, he became the biggest badass I've ever encountered. I bet he could beat Harry in a game of Quidditch. I'm as big a Gryffindor fan as they come, but there's no denying Ender's brilliance.

The book is fantastic for so many reasons. It starts out with an eight page introduction written by Card six years after Ender's Game was first published. In the first paragraph he explains that this version, the "Author's Definitive Edition", has some minor changes to correct errors he made in the first printing, but nothing major has changed. But since the publishing company decided to make a big deal out of it and started printing hardcover copies, he says "there ought to be something new in it..." so they made him write an introduction. He says that the novel really needs no introduction, and it stands well enough on its own; he basically recommends that we just skip the intro altogether. You don't need to tell me twice. Moving on...

One of the biggest pet-peeves I have with the writing of some literature and movies is when a character completely changes something about themselves, and there's no discernible progression that leads them to this change. For example, in The Godfather the movie, Michael Corleone is disregarding his family's lifestyle as barbaric and horrible in one scene, and in the next he's taken over his father's position as the head of the family. In the book, you see that he struggles with the role that he's forced into long before he embraces it. I didn't like the movie, if you couldn't tell.

In Ender's Game, Ender takes such a believable path towards his greatness. Sure he was hand selected in the beginning as having one of the most brilliant minds of any child, but it still took him a long time to figure it out for himself. All along you could see hints of what he was capable of, but not until he led his own army in Battle School did his full brilliance truly blossom. In the first two chapters alone, we were quickly exposed to just how precise and calculative his fighting skills can be when he beat (subsequently we learn that he actually killed) Stilson, and also how passive and thoughtful he can be when others, such as his brother Peter, are attacking him. He was always acutely aware of the situations he was in, and was always able to act in such a way that would benefit him the most. Even when Graff and all the other adults were manipulating and isolating him, he always knew that they were doing that. It was always a conscious decision to go along with it.
I'll become exactly the tool you want me to be, said Ender silently, but at least I won't be fooled into it. I'll do it because I choose to, not because you tricked me, you sly bastard. pg 252

This brings me to one of the biggest questions I had throughout the whole book: did they succeed in breaking him down into a killer, or did he retain his empathy?

The ending clearly showed us that he truly remained empathetic, but there were times throughout that I wasn't quite sure if that would be the case. He didn't mind breaking off his relationships with other soldiers and those under his command as long as it was for the good of his army. Nothing mattered to him in life other than winning the games, which were just mock wars, an analog of killing. This intense focus on winning was a byproduct of Graff's manipulation, and clearly it was working. That's why I thought that Ender might very well become the cold blooded killer they needed. But ultimately, they knew that his inherent kindness would have kept him from winning the bugger war. He remained naive of what the Command School games actually were, and this allowed him to throw caution to the wind and beat the enemy at all costs. If he had know that he was sending human soldiers to their deaths, and (I think more importantly) was killing buggers, he might not have fought the way he did (if at all) and risked losing the war.

I just flashed myself with my bike light and now I can barely see the computer screen. Just so you know.

But as I think back, all throughout the book, whenever he did something to harm someone else, he always felt bad about it. Even when he would think about arguing with Bonzo (his first army commander that was horrible to Ender and therefore undeserving of his benevolence) in front of other soldiers, he would stop himself because he knew that it would make Bonzo look bad. After he killed Bonzo, both he and Stilson were in Ender's nightmares for years to come. Ender never wanted to harm either of them, but they honestly brought it upon themselves. This shows that even though he did have a killer's instinct (that little piece of Peter was alive in his), he knew better than to use it when it was not absolutely necessary. Near the end, Alai surprises Ender and Ender grabbed him with the intent of killing him:
"...I thought you were about to kill me, and I decided to kill you first. I guess I'm just a killer to the core. But I'd rather be alive than dead."
The laughed and agreed with him. Then Ender began to cry...
pg 303

There seemed to be an obvious note of sarcasm in his voice (not that I could hear it, but you know what I'm saying) that suggested that Ender understood at that moment that any killing he did was completely out of his control.

After learning all of this, it comes as little surprise that Ender became reclusive when he learned about having killed billions of buggers. When Valentine asked him to move to the buggers' home world to start new colonies, he only agreed to so that he could research the creatures he had wiped out. He came to realize that they were not the savage and dangerous beasts that humans had portrayed them as (out of ignorance, really. They had no reason to think otherwise.). He eventually became determined to help revive the bugger species, and dubbed himelf Speaker of the Dead. I suppose I'll leave any discussion of that for if (when) I read the second book in the Ender saga (Speaker of the Dead).

It's really hard to believe that any of this was accomplished by a pre-teen, but I think that Orson Scott Card's dedication really clarifies everything:
For Geoffrey,
who makes me remember
how young and how old
children can be


i made it

[Deloused in the Comatorium The Mars Volta]

I have the hiccups. What a bitch of a bodily function. At least burps and farts are fun. I can even deal with sneezes as long as I'm not eating. But hiccups are never welcome.

Another birthday has come and gone. Don't even talk to me about it because it's likely to get you a punch in the mouth. Well, actually since I'm a pretty passive guy, you'll actually just get a roll-of-the-eyes and a shrug-of-the-shoulders. But my birthday day was fun thanks to Beer Club and family time. My parents didn't have my bdad written on their calendar (which has EVERYTHING written on it), and when I brought it up, my dad said that he was in charge of the cake (which was excellent, thanks Dad) and that my mom was in charge of the calendar. Way to not take the blame.

Lately I've been feeling pretty slobby and worthless. I haven't been climbing at all since summer, I *puff* *wheeze* whenever I'm riding my bike up to school (a whole mile away. lame), and my gut is...well it's a gut, enough said. It's finally kind of hit boiling point this last week. You know when you can actually see a jet breaking the sound barrier and that cone of condensation gathers around the shock wave?

That's what happened to me last night. I finally got fed up with my inactivity levels. Thanks to the motivation from Sean Door and Run Fatboy Run, I've decided that I need to get out there and get into shape.

This morning I got up early and decided to start running. Then I realized that I hate running. I've never been able to find shoes that don't hurt my feet, I get winded within the first 3 minutes and want to quit, and my knees and hips can't take the high impact (I'm such an old man. damn birthdays). So instead of running, I decided to take a bike ride. It's low impact, your legs will hurt no matter what shoes you wear, and it's practical. Since I ride to school so frequently, it'd be nice if it were an easy ride, not some marathon from hell, especially when it's windy.

So I took a nice, long bike ride from my neighborhood (east of campus) to South Boulder where I grew up. The nice part of doing this is it's all uphill on the way there, so when I get tired, I can just turn around and coast all the way home. I think that this might be an appropriate time to tell you that I've always wanted to ride up to NCAR. I think that Nick and I tried once in high school but gave up half way up. Don't get me wrong, it's not the most strenuous of bike rides, but it's about a mile and a half of pretty highly inclined road which is killer for a non-biker like myself. Since I was already at the base of the climb, I decided to go for it. After the initial quarter mile, I mentally checked out and decided that it was stupid to even try. My speedometer said that I had already gone ~7.5 miles so far, so to push myself I made a goal to get to at least 8 miles before I gave up. I pushed and I pushed and my heart was beating so fast that it almost felt like it had stopped and my legs were on fire. That was the hardest .5 miles I've ever endured on a bike. But a funny thing happened when I got the end of it. My legs had numbed and no longer hurt, and I gained control of my breathing. I began to think that this might actually be possible even though the longest and steepest incline was yet to come. As I kept riding, NCAR began to peek its ugly head (actually it's really pretty thanks to I.M. Pei [see third one down]) over the hillside, and it only motivated me more. The building looks so small and distant from East Boulder, so when it looks huge as you're coming upon it, you really get reminded of the accomplishment you've made.

For the last 200 yards, I think I started to get a "runner's high" sort of feeling. I don't know if it was adrenaline or serotonin or what, but I got a surge of energy and was able to shift into higher gears and sprint to the finish line. After a quick victory lap around the parking lot, I began my descent. The gravely road really didn't look too stable for sustained high speeds, and god knows my near-decade-old bike can't handle much more than me just sitting on it. If I went off a curb, I'm sure it'd turn to dust. So I decided to coast the whole way down, take it easy, relax after my hard ride up. After the first 100 yards of coasting, I looked down at my speedometer only to see that I was already going ≥ 30 mi hr-1. I though, you only live once so I might as well go with this. I pulled my arms in tight and lowered my helmeted head, and began to fly. I doubt that I've ever gone more than 30 on a bike before in my life, so staying above that for over a mile felt pretty awesome. I could barely see because the wind was making my eyes water so badly that tears were streaking backward across my face. My mouth stayed wide open in a smile for the whole thing.

Speedometer stats:
  • distance: 13.352 mi
  • time: 1:11:58 hr
  • max speed: 35.7 mi hr-1
  • average speed: 11.2 mi hr-1

The quick version of the Sean Door Story:
He's been a smoker for about 13 years (he's now 26 years old), he quit in January, has since started to run, and has entered into at least one 5k race so far. I occasionally see him running past our house (he lives more than a mile away) and think to myself "If Sean Door can get into shape, I can get into shape." Thanks Sean.


4 minutes

[Relationship of Command At The Drive-In]

Check out right around :45 for a definitive pair of fuck-me boots.

That's right, I put a Madonna video in my blog. What now? And Jesus, those peel-away views of the people making out are fucking creepy.

I've decided that it's almost time to make a blog dedicated to fuck-me boots sitings.


warmth and gamma rays

Okay, here's the long awaited (like 12 hours long) story about gamma rays. Dr. Glenn, who I've been talking a lot about lately, recently discovered that he has a stress fracture in right femur. That's a tough bone to break, and he accomplished it. He's a pretty hardcore runner/biker/triathlete, so that might explain things.

He's going to Hawai'i this weekend to do some research at (I think) the Keck Observatory, and the airline company that's supposed to bring him from Maui (where United is flying him into) to the big island went out of business last week. He now has no way of getting from one island to the other now, and he said that if they were just a fraction closer, he'd probably just swim it. I don't think he was kidding.

I guess he's had this fracture for about 18 months and never went to get it fixed. He said that the problem with going to the doctor is that when they tell you something's wrong, you have to stop doing the thing that caused it in the first place (eg running). He didn't want to stop running, so he avoided going to the doctor. So he finally went in to get the fracture imaged, and they didn't simply take X-rays. What they did is injected a calcium phosphate mixed with Technetium into his leg. When a bone is broken and trying to repair itself, your whole body gathers as much calcium phosphate as it can and directs it towards the break (what smart bodies we have). The Technetium is a radioactive element with a half-life of merely 6.01 hours and it emits gamma rays. The doctors wait about a half an hour to let the calcium phosphate and Technetium mix concentrate at the break site, and then they scan the area for gamma rays to see exactly where the fracture is. Neato. Science is dope.

Well, since Glenn is going to the airport (Hawai'i, remember?) only two days after having gotten Technetium injected into him, he's still going to be emitting small amounts of gamma rays. Apparently, gamma rays are something that airport security looks for when scanning for dirty bomb, so to them, it'll look like there's an explosive strapped to his leg.

He had to get an official form signed by his doctor explaining that he's not a terrorist.


Alright, I know I just stole that little triangular transition thing from Mark (check out the link for example), but it's too good not to use.

Today is a very early-springy day. It's chilly, but not cold, the sun is coming and going, and there are ominously dark clouds devouring the flatirons. It's supposed to snow tonight (birthday barhopping be damned), and some splats of moisture flecked my glasses during my bike ride from Hale to my current location in Duane. It's really interesting to see how different people react to this kind of weather. There are some that are wearing there little jogging shorts and tshirt, obviously enjoying the fleeting rays of sunshine. Then there are the people that are preparing for the worst and have bundled in parkas and wrapped heavy wool scarves around their necks.

It's really funny seeing these two people walk side-by-side.

This happened all the time in Australia, too. Ally and I lived there a few years ago from February to July, so we got to see it go from one solstice to the next. The coldest we saw it (in Sydney. Hobart was a different story) get was a mild 60°F, and a thin track jacket or the like would suffice to keep you warm most of the time. But as soon as the sun went behind clouds, those Aussies wouldn't hesitate to break out their heavy trench coats and scarves (they love scarves. Actually, I love scarves, too, but I can't pull off the look. I just enjoy from afar.).

The guy next to me (I'm in the Duane computer lab) just sneezed and I said "bless you" (loud enough that he HAD to have heard it), and he didn't respond in any way. I guess I'm that creepy guy that talks to strangers that actually just want to be left alone.

We lived about a mile from campus (or as they would call it, the Uni), and most of the walk was a pretty treacherous hill (especially if you try to roll a full shopping cart down it, but that's a different story for another time). Me, being the sweaty fatboy asthmatic I am, would have trouble walking up that hill in anything less than shorts and a tshirt. I would get to class huffing and puffing (me on my inhaler: *wheeze* *puff* *suck*), my fivehead glistening with sweat, and all the locals would be shivering. All I needed was a Hawaiian shirt and a camera wrapped around my neck and I'd have really looked like a tourist.

When I get home, I'll post some Oz pictures so you know what I'm talking about.

I didn't take any pictures of the hill, nor any of locals bundled up. I wish I could go back in time and take pictures of some of the things I miss the most but never documented. At the time, I didn't think I'd be looking back on my daily walk up that hill as a pleasant memory.


if ever there's a post you don't read, this is it

You know that "Age by Chocolate" email that's been forwarded to you 10 times in the last year? If not, here's the gist of it:

  1. Pick a number between 1 and 10 (NOT inclusive, this is important). The email says something about this number being being the amount of times you would like to eat chocolate in a week. Whatever.
  2. Multiply by 2
  3. Add 5
  4. Multiply by 50
  5. If you've already had your bday this year, add 1758. Otherwise, add 1757.
  6. Subtract the four digit year you were born.

The result of this should be a three digit number in which the first digit is the original number you chose, and the other two should be your age.

This is actually one of the most complicated numeral aerobics I've seen. The first time I tried to tackle how this works, I lost. I got some complicated multivariable equation that looked something like this:
[(X × 2) + 5] × 50 + 1757 - Y = (X × 100) + (2008 - Y)

Where X is the original number you chose, and Y is your birth year. It's not easy trying to solve for two variables with only one equation, especially when you already know what the two variables are. In fact, that's just circular logic and is impossible to do regardless. Needless to say, I got confused and gave up on the problem.

Until today. This is how it works:

Let's just say you pick the number 2, your birth year is 1985, and you have already had your bday this year.

  1. First 2 × 2 = 4
  2. Then distribute the 50, so 4 × 50 = 200 and 5 × 50 = 250. The 250 is a constant, and no matter what number you originally chose or how old you are, that 250 will always be in the equation. Note the 200. That 2 is going to be the first digit of your final three digit number. If we go back a step, then we see why this is the first number you chose. The equation can be rearranged to (your number) × (2 × 50) = (your number) × 100. That's why it's important for your number to be between 1 and 10.
  3. 250 + 1758 = 2008. This is always a constant as well.
  4. Oh, and funny thing, when you subtract your birth year from 2008, you get your age. Ha.
  5. Add that shit up.
Sorry this post sucked, I'm just trying to kill time before I finish Ender's Game. Remind me next time to write about trying to get past airport security when your leg is emitting gamma rays.


something you never knew about nasa

[In the Aeroplane Over the Sea Neutral Milk Hotel]

Oh yeah, your old comments are gone. Well, not really, they're just on the old book club blog which has switched URLs to...something, I don't remember what. oldbookclub.blogspot.com maybe. That might have been the other thing I wanted to tell you in my last post, but I guess that's not really an advantage to upgrading. It's actually kind of a bummer. If I knew how to transfer those comments, I would. But I don't. I'm supposed to be doing homework right now and am just procrastinating it, can you tell?

I'm almost done with Ender's Game. I read over a hundred pages last night before I went to bed and then dreamed about the book the whole night. I'm serious, this shit is right up there with Harry Potter in all of its creamy goodness. I don't want to get ahead of myself because I still have no idea how it's going to end, but this book is fan-fucking-tastic so far. I'll get back to you on whether I still think that in a few days.

Dr. Glenn announced that Alan Stern just stepped down as the Associate Administrator and head of the Science Directorate at NASA a few days ago. That's a pretty big deal in the astronomy world. NASA's science sector represents about half of the US's total budget allotted to science research. That means that astronomy alone gets ~$5.5 billion each year, and all other science disciplines have to share another ~$5 billion (except for biomedical research, I think. They get their own money). So when the guy that's in charge of all of that money says "eff you" and takes off, that means that something's pretty wrong.

I've had the pleasure of hearing him speak live several times, and have also seen videos of him in front of congress debating the current budget proposal. In fact, Mark and I went to see him give a speech at CU's APS Colloquium about two weeks ago on planetary classifications and why Pluto should still be one (and he makes a compelling argument. Before that speech, I was totally down with ousting that little booger of a planet, but now I'm all for reinstating it and about 2000 other known objects as planets.). He seems like a very smart, dedicated man, and I can't image he took the idea of leaving his post lightly. Dr. Glenn said that a big part of his decision was because NASA was hemorrhaging money out of the Science Directorate and into Space Operations to help us get to the moon sooner. The problem with that is that the reason we want to get back into human spaceflight is so that we can, hopefully, get to Mars someday. And guess where the funding for Mars research is coming from. Science. Glenn was explaining that normally there's a firewall between Science and the rest of Aeronautics and such at NASA, and each keep their budgets separate. If one is underfunded, then they need to solve the problem on their own. But recently, that wall has come down and Science is taking the brunt of the beatings. Poor Science. I guess Stern got sick of congress jerking his around.

Another problem Science has been having in the last several decades is that budget overruns on specific projects have been running rampant. When a mission gets approved for funding from NASA, they submit a projected budget of what the thing will cost from beginning to end. Unfortunately, they never ever ever stick to these budgets and missions always end up costing millions, if not billions, more than anticipated. All of this money has to come from somewhere, and it stops smaller and newer missions from being developed AT ALL. So the reason Stern was hired in the first place was to stop this from continuing. He's done an excellent job in the last year (which is all the longer he's had the job) at keeping project teams within their allotted budgets and really cracking the whip when one ignores his warnings. This has allowed for the development of many more missions that otherwise would have been left on the cutting room floor.

So here's to Stern, and to hoping that his successor keeps NASA moving in the right direction.

Oh, and if you're read this, Dr. Stern, I'm looking for a job this May. Call me.


book club beta

[Vegas The Crystal Method]

Yo yo, my avid readers.
I finally UPDATED my blog and transfered everything over to blogger's new layout template thingy. Awesome. This means that you can search the archives much easier, and...um....I don't know what else it means. I think I used to have two reasons why I should spend as much time upgrading as I did, but I can't think of the second one. I guess that makes it null, then.

Joey's trying to help me get in touch with my "gangsta" side, and this is as far as I've gotten:

Me: Peter, I'm going to break this martini glass and poke you in the eye with it.
Joey: Now that was gangster.
Me:The breaking the glass part, or the poking the eye?
Joey: (less enthusiastically) The glass, dude.

I guess I still have a ways to go...

I'm looking forward to Beer Club this Thursday. Friday's class was canceled, so I get to sleep in. No early morning bike ride to hear Dr. Glenn's Observing Story of the Week.


html, xml, what the hell?

Alright, for those of you that seem to be having trouble with pictures loading on this page, please leave a comment at the end of this post. For some reason they only like to show up in my browser after a few refreshes.

Also, I'm hopefully going to upgrade this blog in the next few weeks. I created this domain so long ago that I'm still working off of one of blogger's old template designs, and I'd like to upgrade to the new layout version. Pretty much the only advantage to doing this is because it makes the archives much more informative and navigable. Unfortunately, blogger uses a really confusing XHTML language to format the whole layout thing, and that's not something I'm too familiar with. Though they give the casual user many more options as far as what goes in the sidebar and such, it really restricts those of us that are trying to customize the page (I know that it doesn't look like I've done much to mine, but I promise you that I have. Notice the blue inner-border around my title [that takes changing several parameters to accomplish], the wide title spacing, the wider post and sidebar divs, the fact that viewed links don't change color, the perma-post at the top of my page [which had to be coded in, I couldn't just create a text box like you can in the new layout templates], etc). You can edit the HTML in the text box layout things, but they're really not that compatible with the language. I think that blogger assumes that you're going to do really basic things like make text bold or red. Ooo, so fancy.

So since they're giving me such hell, it's taking much longer than I expected. I've said it before and I'll say it again: are you happy now, blogger? You've got me pulling out my hair. Bravo.

If you'd like to keep up with my progress (I mean who wouldn't?!?), go over to my Gorilla Man blog. What's on there so far has taken me ~3 hours to do.

all those in favor of knee freckles say "aye"

[Daft Punk Radio on Pandora]

Ally told me that I've created genocide on my own ass hole. She's surprised I haven't killed her yet. Sorry I just told all of you that...

Manager Steve from work was sporting a sweet pair of throwback kicks tonight. I was talking to him about them, and it turns out their the same pair of Vans that he's been wearing since '93. Rock on, Steve.

Remember the Airwalks that everybody wore in 5th grade (around '95)? They were made out of that soft swede-like material and had white honeycomb shaped soles. You know what I'm talking about, right? They were all pretty much the same design but they came in different colors, so it didn't matter if you wore out the soft-rubbered soles in 2 months (quite frankly, you were probably trying to wear them out that quickly by keeping the laces untied and dragging your heels wherever you went) because you then had an excuse to go get (aka have your parents go get) a new pair with the freshest color combo to come out of the Airwalk laboratories. The ones in the picture are for sure not what I'm talking about, but they're the closest I could find.

Steve and I got to talking about fashion and he told me that "an old person's fashion sense is the same as it was when he/she was the coolest they've ever been." That's why old jewish men still walk around in their blue powder suits. That's why Neil Diamond wishes he still had hair so that he could feather it.

There's a dude that comes into the Café all the time with his long teased curly hair, leather pants (clearly too tight in the crotch), and snakeskin boons. I once was kidding around with a bartender saying that it looks like it's 20 years ago and he's rocking out with Poison on their first world tour. Turns out they guy was in a hair band in the late '80s and they did open for Poison at one point. The guy was probably rolling in the ladies back then, but then Nirvana came around. Poor guy hasn't been half as cool since, but he sure tries to keep the fashion alive. He reminds me daily of how glad I am that we've moved past that decade. Unfortunately, with the way fashion works, he's definitely going to be hip again soon.

I really don't know when I was at my coolest. My fashion has stayed pretty stagnant now for a while, but I think that's just because I don't have the money to buy myself a new fashion sense. I'm scared that I'll reach my coolest soon while I'm still wearing the clothes that I bought 5 years ago when I graduated high school (when I clearly wasn't at my coolest). That means that I'll be stuck wearing clothes that I was wearing when I wasn't cool for the rest of my life. Curse you, vintage graphic tees!!!



something isn't right

[His 12 Greatest Hits Neil Diamond]

I'm going to quickly reiterate my warning: don't read this review if you intend to read the book, which I highly recommend doing.

Book: Running with Scissors Augusten Burroughs 8/10
This book had the uncanny ability to make me severely uncomfortable. I'm pretty sure that was Burroughs' intention, though, and succeeded quite effectively. Between the rape and numerous other messed up sexual relationships, shit prophecies, Poo Bear (the worst nightmare of a child I could dream up), and general uncleanliness found throughout, rarely a page went by that I didn't have to just laugh out loud to cope with my discomfort.

I generally don't like the idea of autobiographies or (I guess) memoirs about oneself (whatever the difference is). When I first started reading this, the first-person narrative really made the autobiographical nature of the book stand out. But as I got farther into the story, the more fictional it seemed to become (due to the incredulous stories Burroughs recounts), and the more I started to like it.

The story started out with a nine-year-old Burroughs following his mother around the house as she got dressed up and ready for her own poetry reading. Their relationship seemed caring and normal, nothing too out of the ordinary. Augusten was a very observant and imaginative little boy, taking pleasure in little things like the ticking a cooling hairdryer makes. This was about as far as I had read when I wrote in my The Giver review about how I didn't understand why this book isn't on middle school reading lists across the country.

Then we meet Dr. Finch, that fat sombitch (read as Jackie Gleason ala Smokey and the Bandit) with his sticky masturbatorium. Everything goes downhill for the Burroughs family once they mix their lives with this guy's. Augusten went from being a strangely well dressed pre-teen to a tragically hopeless fuckup with the turn of a page. The language, drug use, explicit and detailed accounts of fucking (that was not making love), the copious amounts of feces, and the all around anarchist-like (complete disregard for order) behaviors quickly cued me into why this book might not be appropriate for youth. Hell, it was barely appropriate for me.

All throughout the book, I kept expecting the end to be a real tragedy. Augusten never had a future, his best friend was Natalie (who I was sure was the worst of the Finches), and his mother was as bad a basket case as they come. As he explains it:

Our lives are one endless stretch of misery punctuated by processed fast foods and the occasional crisis or amusing curiosity. pg 274

[No Need to Argue The Cranberries] Zombie is probably in my Top 10 Favorite Songs of All Time list.

But all along, you know that somehow he has to have made it out of the Finch's grasp since he wrote the book. I thought maybe he and Hope (who was my favorite for a while because I thought she was the most grounded of the Finchs until she started to spoon her fathers shit out of the toilet. ugh) would pull a Bookman (what an asshole, I'm glad he ran away) and leave together. But surprisingly, it was Natalie that came out as the most successful family member. Maybe the Doctor's unorthodox parenting and letting his children pick their own parents actually worked in this case and gave Natalie enough distance from her family to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Good for her. And once her and Augusten left the Finch home to live on their own, he started to shape up as well. Sure school didn't work out for him, but who didn't see that coming? With his mother's help (I suppose she could be seen as the true savior of Augusten because she came clean about the Doctor raping her), Augusten finally liberated himself from the the Finch clan entirely and pursued his dreams in the Big Apple.

Like he said, they were destined for something great and were running towards the aforementioned light at the end of the tunnel, but they had been running with scissors. The scissors in this case are the Finchs, I'm sure. If their was to be one downfall in Augusten's life, it wasn't going to be his mom or dad, or even his lack of schooling. It was the Doctor.

As a final note, I'd like to explain why I write this blog through Augusten's words:

...I also wrote in my journal more. Writing was the only thing that made me feel content. I could escape into the page, into the words, into the spaces between the words. Even if all I was doing was practicing signing my autograph. pg 172

I was recently going back through the writing I did over the past year (which was what led me to start this blog) and I found this little nugget. It's a little more long-winded than Augusten, but it still gets my point across. When I wrote this, I never intended for anyone to read it, so it's very stream-of-consciousness. I didn't edit it at all from the handwritten version to here, although I did cut one section out. It really didn't make much sense.

There’s something so alluring and glorious about the thought of being a writer. I feel like once I started reading (circa age 19) my drive to write has vastly increased. Even the simple pleasure of hearing my fingers quickly and gracefully tap dance across my keyboard is reason enough to want to being writing. The thought that I’m slowly running out of ink via my pen tip. I’m eating paper and breading kilobytes until my computer is full of typing. There’s an idea of freedom that seems to be associated with writing, and I want that freedom. I want to sit at my computer (typewriter) like Michael Douglass did in Wonder Boys in my pink bathrobe as it pours rain outside [transcriber’s note: it’s now dumping the first big snow of the season today]. Maybe even smoke a joint or two every now and then to get my creative juices flowing. I want to write to no end, or at least my own end, no deadlines. Create the life, and live as, of, and live as, another human being. Through him I could be funny, sad, emotional, elated, whatever I wanted to be. Maybe I could paint a picture of my ideal life or one I never want to live. I’d have the luxury of making it as sunshiny or hellish as I’d like, and be able to look at it from a distance. I could fulfill my fantasies or live my worst nightmares without having to take off my pink bathrobe. And if I could do it, successfully write a masterpiece, or at least something I’d consider to be my own personal masterpiece, then I KNOW that Ally could do it too. Do it better, in fact. She’s a much better writer than me, and I think that if she was able to get a spark of inspiration, her creativity could run wild all over the page and it would be represented so much more elegantly than I could ever hope to do to my own subjects. Maybe if I got a new computer (Apple: here I come) and got into a good setting (eg outside of Boulder, outside of school, inside a lot of free time) I could start writing. Often when I write at home with ally around, I get slightly embarrassed. Almost like she’s judging me. I feel like I’m a poser or something. Only established writers are allowed to even try. I don’t want her to judge me for trying to be creative (which I’m not, hence this autobiographical non-fictional story here) or for trying to be something I’m not. I do understand that this insecurity is stupid, unfounded, and unnecessary, but it still affects me nonetheless. Therefore, if I ever have a chance of writing, I also need a secluded space, my own are of the house, to work in. Coffee shops, cafés, restaurants, libraries and the like would work for out-of-house working (it’s NOT work, first of all, so ignore the word choice, and second, why would I be working out-of-house? Wouldn't Isn’t that synonymous with out-of-pink bathrobe?), but It would not suffice as my sole outlet for writing.


I think that step one in becoming a writer should be is reading. I need to read more. It motivates me, it tells me my likes and dislikes, and it’s fun in the mean time.

i wish

By they way, the possible job offer I talked about in the last post is in fact NOT what Scott detailed here. We need to make some money before we start that so that we can afford enough space to create a low-humidity aging room.

Oh, maybe someday...


zombie jesus

[2001 Dr. Dre]

I know this album is so 1990s (see why that's funny? I'll give you a second to think about it...) but it's still pretty damn good. As far as gangsta rap goes, nobody does it better than D.R.E.

Today at work, someone (David) brought up the oddities of Easter and what it's celebrating. He was joking around about how today marks the day that Jesus rose from the grave Thriller style and went about doing his zombie things for the subsequent 40 days. Though he was joking, it actually got me thinking about how bizarre this story really is. Being non-religious myself, I don't really know much about Jesus' resurrection, so my understanding may be completely off base. Nonetheless, I bet that if he had actually lived in Massachusetts during the 17th century (which I suppose would then be re-assigned as the century preceding the 1st century, right?), he would have been hung for witchcraft. These days, if some motherfucker just popped up out of his tomb after being dead for 3 days, even the most devout church-goers would be thinking "run, bitch!" (btw, I think all that cussing can be attributed to Dr. Dre).

[Frances The Mute Mars Volta]

There's another guy that I work with that's a real pervert. He hits on all the girls there that are all 30 years younger than himself. I'm seriously afraid that he's capable of doing some pretty bad things, like I think he doesn't have enough of a conscience or self control to NOT worry me. Fuck that guy, he frequently ruins my day.

Time for him to get fired/die of a heart attack.

Also time for me to get the hell out of there. I've been at Boulder Café for ~2.58 years, and I'm ready to get a real job. The money is so good and regular and IN CASH that I'm afraid that leaving is going to be kind of hard. I'm honestly anticipating making less money in a career-oriented job. That's nones-the-cool. But it has to be done. I'm not the most articulate person in the world (this post has already taken me that better half of an hour to write, edit, and re-write), so interviews scare me. My "interview" at the Café was a manager (who quit one week after hiring me...I was his last hire ever) telling me that the uniform is black and khaki, and asking me when I could start. Not really the best preparation for future interviews.

I've got a possible real-life job in the works, but I think that I'll keep it under wraps (on the DL, if you will) until it develops a little further. Profuse amount of luck (or prayers...although I have a feeling I lost all of my religious readers at the beginning of this post) sent my way might be appropriate at this time.

On a positive note, Lindsey from Wine Club just started working at the Café. She should really write about it on her haiku blog, but unfortunately she rarely updates it.

Regardless, that's a great idea for a blog, and it's a great blog.


moth hunting with a rubber band

The last post I did seemed to have broken from my typical introspective type, but I thought it was entertaining to write nonetheless. Nothing important enough is happening in my life right now to write about (yet here I am!), so I decided to write about some one else's life. I could make excuses by saying music is very important to me and that I have very strong opinions surrounding the issue or whatever, but the real reason I talked about Ms. Johansson was because it's enormously more entertaining than anything I'd have to say about myself. So as an effort to keep my oh-so-large fan base pleased, I'll occasionally diverge from my thoughts and readings from time to time.

I actually gave this a lot of thought last night. I almost felt like I was getting a little tabloidy by talking about celeb gossip. I realized that several times a day potential blog topics pop into my head, and I always forget them by the time I get here. So starting today, I'm going to start carrying around a little pocket moleskine notebook to write these topics in. I've also found that it's really useful for when I'm reading my book. Sometimes it takes me a few weeks to finish a book, and by that time, I've forgotten half of the opinions I had developed throughout.

So I'm sure you all are dying to know what I wrote down today. Sit down, get ready for this:

"moth hunting with a rubber band"

Wow. Today must have been a slow day. It's not even a good topic to write about, I just thought it was funny at the time. But I might as well let you know what it means.

Today is the Friday before spring break and my only class was Astrophysics at 10 o'clock. The teacher, Jason Glenn, has a very interesting and nerdy sense of humor. I mean he's an astronomer...enough said. Well he decided a while ago that he's going to have a short storytelling at the beginning of every Friday class. These stories are generally based around his experiences when doing observational research. They always take place in a different state/country, some wacky (and equally nerdy) scientists are always present, and expensive equipment is always involved. When things go wrong, this combination makes for a good story.

Today's observing story was about when Glenn was doing research at a 10 meter diameter submillimeter radio telescope in Arizona...unfortunately I didn't write down the name. I remember thinking "I don't need to write down the name, I'll be able to find it online," but alas, the name eludes even my proficient Google-Fu. To make a long story short, some guy was dangling from a crane scrubbing off plastic that had melted to the surface of the telescope and his chemical suit pants caught on fire. I guess Arizona gets kind of warm and the telescope was kind of reflective.

So one of the wacky scientists that Glenn worked with there was this hardcore southern manly-man that lived to hunt. When he was stuck at the laboratory doing observations all night, occasionally his desire to kill something would flare up and he'd grab a handful of rubber bands and hunt all of the moths in the observatory (since these telescopes have to be open to the sky, their buildings usually stay exposed to the outside). I was going to use this to open up some sort of dialog about how pointless hunting is and crap like that, but frankly this post has gone on too long already.

Glenn said that you always had to watch your step because so many dead moths constantly littered the floor.


bleeding ears

[Begin to Hope, Soviet Kitsch Regina Spektor]

Hallelujah. Everybody should be running to their computers to clear 70MB off of their iPods in anticipation for May 20th. "What's happening May 20th?" you may ask. I'll tell you: Scarlett Johansson is coming out with her debut album Anywhere I Lay My Head.

I'm pretty sure this marks the beginning of the end for ScarJo. She's already got a lot of media attention because, let's face it, she's pretty and she's been in some high-profile movie roles. IMO, she's not a very good actress, but that's another story (You don't have to be a good actor today to make it big in Hollywood. It's all about the lucky roles your able to land. Another good example of this is Orlando Bloom who has always been stale no matter what role he's in, but he keeps getting offered jobs by big-namers like Peter Jackson, Cameron Crowe, and Ridley Scott.). Now what's the first thing people with mild success do? They set their sights on the dreaded crossover. They think that since we go to the theaters to see their latest big-budget movie and buy all the US Weekly's with them on the cover, we'd like to hear them whine in hi-fidelity over heavily sampled, unoriginal beats. Thanks, Lindsay Lohan, but I do NOT want to get A Little More Personal, "raw" or otherwise. This concept seems to occur in reverse sometime, too, and some end up better than others.

To make matters worse, the album is allegedly eleven tracks with only one original. If you do the math, that makes nine ten of the tracks unoriginal. Apparently they're all Tom Waits covers. In all honesty, I'm not even sure who this guys is besides what I could gather from 30 second samples of his music on iTunes, and I have a feeling that having Lil' Red cover his music in not a good idea. The one original song is called "Song For Jo", which leads me to believe that "Jo" can only be referring to her. This can't be a good thing; I thought only rappers and Gwen Stefani talked about themselves in their songs. David Bowie is also attached to the album which raises some questions. Is he in desperate need of money? Is the album really that good that he just wants to work on it out of the kindness of his heart? Has David Bowie gone crazy? All good questions.

Since JoJo already has all of this media attention, this is only going to increase it. Unfortunately, although these crossover artists produce some pretty awful music, TRL seems to eat that shit right up. There's fucking pop culture for you. So with the dreaded paps constantly following her around day and night (preferably drunk outside of the trendy flavor-of-the-week nightclub), you have to wonder if she's going to snap like the other media whores of today (see below). I just sure hope that she's not going to screw herself out of a successful acting career because of a stupid foray into the singing biz.

ending the post with [Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Spoon]


rate this

A word about ratings:

I kind of have my own way of standardizing how I rate items. I kind of discovered this on IMDB, though their system is still pretty faulty. I've noticed that to some people a 6 is a terrible rating, and for others, it's not so bad. So what I do is make 5 completely neutral; I didn't like it, I didn't dislike it. If something I'm reviewing was slightly less than pleasurable for me to read, then it might get a 3 or 4. If I really really enjoyed something overall, but there were some parts that lost my interest or certain elements of the book weren't as good as they possibly could have been, it might get an 8 or 9. In only reserve perfect 10s for my absolute favorite books of all time. I figure that throughout my lifetime, there should only be a handful of 10s ever given out. And as I said earlier, my ratings can change dramatically through time (most movies shoot into my Top 5 while I'm still watching them). I'm pretty pliable when it comes to my opinions (I suppose to a fault), so I'm somewhat willing to give out more 10s than I otherwise would because I know that one of them will probably bump another one down (make sense? not really? well shut up).

I suppose it would make more sense if things were rated on a scale from -5 to 5 with 0 being neutral. That would be the most intuitive way of doing it, but since we're a society based on a base ten numeral system (Mario Livio's book The Golden Ratio has a great section on base number systems. I think it was some Egyptian society that had a base of 64...or something like that. Crazy.) most people feel comfort in having things be out of ten, or some power of ten like percentages (percent: per one hundred, you get the idea).

Generally speaking, I would recommend most books with ratings of 6 or higher.

for the young

[Ghosts I-IV Nine Inch Nails]

I tend to only post when I'm really tired. I'm okay with that, though, because sleep is a waste of time. Anything I can do to put off sleeping is, therefore, not a waste of time. So here goes some procrastination:

Book: The Giver Lois Lowry 7.5/10
So it took me a few more days than I expected to finish this little guy. It's only ~180 pages, which puts me at about 20 pages per day. I guess quantity isn't the goal here, though, it's quality. Right? Maybe.

Now, unfortunately, when I finished this book, I immediately went onto wikipedia to read about it (see boots), and its summary and analysis was almost exactly verbatim what had been floating around in my head for the last week. See, I've found that the advantage to having this blog is that I think about the books I'm reading in more depth as I read. I think that this is partly the reason it took me a little longer to read this "young adult" book (I'll get back to that definition a little later), since I would constantly think about things I had just read. I also try to minimize those times when your eyes move over the words, but you don't process any of it. In order for me to understand the book, I need to have read it. Obviously. So as I was reading this book, I kept thinking about passages and themes that I could talk about on here, and I came up with a certain vocabulary, if you will, to be able to describe them. Since I read wikipedia's startlingly similar analysis to my own before I was able to get mine out of my head and onto (paper?), its vocabulary kind of took over my own. Since they were similar to begin with, it wasn't very hard for it to do. Now when I think of the book I think of words like "utopian" and "soft sci-fi" which are not the words I was going to use. Its weird to try to explain this, but I feel like wikipedia infiltrated my thoughts and manipulated them. I'm sure wikipedia's just buttering me up to become a part of some army it's forming. Stupid machines taking over the world.

To sum up: if you want to read my summary of the book, just check out the wikipedia page. It's probably more eloquent than me.

One thing that I did think about a lot while reading was why it's classified as a "young adult" book. I remember reading it sometime around late elementary to early middle school, and not quite soaking much of it up. Given, I've always been a pretty poor reader and it used to take a lot of willpower (that I never really had) to concentrate enough to understand books. So it may not really speak to much on the difficulty of the book (I didn't really understand Good Night Moon until I was in my late teens. Man, what a revelation that one was.).

But it got me to thinking where the cutoff is between adult and young adult fiction is. At first I thought that it had to be sentence structure and language. Surely young adult books have more precise language, less beating around the bush with unnecessary metaphors and shit like that, and simple-to-understand words. I love to read books that I need a dictionary for because it makes me feel like I'm being sophisticated or some shit like that, so I always keep one on my bedside table. Interestingly, I found myself reaching for it occasionally while reading this book. It certainly had its share of challenging passages in it. Sure it wasn't as metaphor-laden as, say, Calamity Physics was, but I've read many a grownup novel that doesn't use any kind of verbal trickery to get its story across.

Well then it's obviously the themes, right? Maybe. The themes in this book, like the inherent need for freedom and deep emotions, were pretty obvious - not in a bad way, it's just that they were never really disguised. Lowry made these pretty clear throughout the book, so there aren't really any surprises. Maybe this lack of depth contributes to it being young adult? Perhaps. But are these really childish themes? No. I feel like the real life relevance of the book (like recognizing that their societal control (eg eugenics, euthanasia) parallel real life events such as the Nazi movement) is anything but childish. Maybe I'm just reading too much into it, and maybe kids can understand that the society depicted was pretty fucked up.
(Ghosts just ended, so now [Lullabies to Paralyze Queens of the Stone Age])

As a last ditch effort to understand the age classification, I attempted to blame it on the main character's (Jonas') age (12-13). That's obviously a futile argument because not all youth-oriented books are about youth, and vice versa. I just started Running With Scissors today, and (at least so far) the main character is 9 (I think), and as far as I know, it isn't on middle schools' reading lists across the country.

I'll end by saying this: I don't care if The Giver got a slew of awards geared for young adult fiction, it's still a great read for those of us no longer in that category. I really enjoyed it.


i talk too much

I was just on Scott's blog, and the way he types is exactly the way he speaks. I can actually hear him saying the things he writes in his posts. I wonder if people can hear me in mine? I doubt it since there really are no people to read my posts, but whatevs.
I sure hope I don't ramble as much in real life as I do on here, but I'm pretty sure that's just wishful thinking.

I'm close to being done with The Giver. It should have only take me a few days to read, but I've been a little busier lately. Though it's midnight, and I only slept 5.5ish hours last night and have been up for 16 so far today, I think I might just try and finish it now.

btw, today was probably the most full, sucessful, productive (I didn't get much tangible shit done, just personal goodness fulfillment) day I've ever had. Without trying to ramble too hardcore, here's the rundown:
1. Woke up at 8AM with a mild hangover as a result of last night's cocktail club.
2. Took an astrophysics exam. Bombed one question, rocked the rest (I think).
3. Ate breakfast and read. I love eating and reading at the same time. It's a simple pleasure I really cherish.
4. Took Ally out to lunch at California Pizza Kitchen and ate a whole BBQ chix pizza less than two hours after having eaten aforementioned breakfast on a mildly upset hangover stomach.
5. Shopped for AJ's bday with Ally.
6. Played guitar, showered.
7. Went to Nick's house and chilled with the Cheyennee-G.
8. Hiked with Nick, Jordan LM, Tomper, and Greg to the "chairs" or some shit like that. Looked at Boulder, threw rocks, shivered (improperly attired: hobo plaid collared shirt and skater shoes).
9. Went to dinner at Sushi Tora. Ate dessert at Cheesecake. Shivered in between.
10. Watched one of my past teachers on a video about the upcoming FY09 NASA budget. Check out Pimp-Daddy Burns.
11. Wrote on my blog.
Still to come today: read, sleep...in that order, hopefully.


and so it goes

Apparently when I pick up a phrase (eg fuck-me boots), I can't help but beat it to death. Another one that I say to myself all the time is that bad odors smell like "mustard-gas and roses" thanks to Slaughterhouse-Five.



[Pisces Iscariot Smashing Pumpkins]

I sometimes spend an hour or more online after having seen a movie just reading about it, trying to learn as much as I can. When I finish books, I'm even more obsessed. I always wait to look the book up and read about it until after I've finished. I even (try) to refrain from reading the cover because they always like to give the exciting things away to get people to buy the book. I'd much rather read about those exciting things in the context of the story. It's really bizarre how strict I am about that, yet I'm a big fan of LOST spoilers. Weird.

Anyway, after finishing Calamity Physics, I was reading things about it, and came across an article talking about the use of young, attractive authors' (such as Marisha Pessl) good looks as a marketing tool. The article described a picture of Pessl in which she's wearing "a pair of buttery leather high heals" that were later referred to as "fuck-me boots". This, surprisingly, was done while still being able to maintain the article's journalistic integrity.

Ever since I read that article, I can't see a pair of similar boots without calling them fuck-me boots. Every time, without fail.



[Eraser Thom Yorke]

The last few months I've been keeping a word document documenting (coincidentally) the books I've been reading lately. This is just a web-based continuation of that, I suppose. I intend to write in the same candid style that I have been, almost as if I were just talking to myself (which is all I'm really doing, anyway). I've considered publishing my backlog of word-based posts on here too, but I think it's unnecessary since no one's going to read this anyway. Well, except for me.

Book: The Road Cormac McCarthy 8/10
A few days ago I finished The Road and haven't had the chance to write about it yet. I'd never read a McCarthy novel before, and I've been really looking forward to being able to. Ever since I found out who he is (first introduction: last spring in Fredricksmeyer's writing class when the "world's foremost Cormac McCarthy scholar" lectured us on his only other passion in life: Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven. btw, how do you become the world's foremost scholar of anything? I mean, I understand how you do it, but at what point does your obsession become a noteworthy achievement?)(second introduction: No Country for Old Men the movie. It was like one of my least favorite movies when I went to see it [I rank movies long before I see them], but after the first 3 minutes when serial badass with a 3-year-old-girl-from-the-1970s haircut Javier Bardem choked the shit out that cop, the movie instantly shot up to being in my top five [I also make almost every movie I like be in my top five for at least a few hours after seeing it].) he's been this kind of mythical figure.

I need a fucking change of music. Thom is the man, but it was putting me to sleep and after getting no sleep last night because of daylight savings, I need something that won't loll me into a deep trance. Hence
[St. Elsewhere Gnarls Barkley]

So I've been really intimidated to read anything of his. But I finally got around to doing so once I finally finished the marathon read of Calamity Physics (took me like all of February to finish. weak).

The book is bleak as hell, but rightfully so. McCarthy never really gives you any signs of hope because there are none in the world he creates. It's set in a post-apocalyptic Earth in which no life can really sustain. As I was reading, it reminded me of the asteroid that impacted Earth and killed all the dinosaurs: constant global cloud cover, ash covering the land (as they walked through it, images of Neil Armstrong walking through the lunar regolith popped into my head), fires burning through the dead forests, and mass extinctions (he talks a lot about how there's no more birds or fish). Wikipedia, though, says that McCarthy has admitted before that he assumes that the devastation was caused by man, and that the environments described in the book resemble a nuclear holocaust (I just remembered, there was a flashback the man had that described several earth-shaking booms or rumbles or something, which reinforces the bomb theory). This therefore lead some green environmental guru to label McCarthy as one of the world's biggest environmental eyeopeners by showing us how fucked up shit can get if we fucked shit up. It's like Les Stroud to the extreme. Without any other forms of life other than humans (the only other things they encountered were mushrooms and a single dog), everybody resorts to scavenging for canned food (since the story seems to be set within half a decade or so of the initial devastation, most other foods have gone bad or been scavenged already. But since it hasn't been too long, it's not impossible to find food overlooked by others in the years past.), and some have resorted to cannibalism - the only semi-readily available meat source. At one point they even find an infant roasting on a spit over a fire.

The whole thing is just a struggle for their (the protagonist and his young son) survival, and it's just an endless cycle of scavenging and hiding. This makes it so that the plot isn't real linear (although it's mostly chronological save for a few flashbacks) and instead read more as a string of situations that were thematically linked by showing how the man and the boy would find different ways of surviving in different situations. There's no real reason (that I saw) that the series of events had to occur in the exact order they did. Occasionally I'd try to go back and look up specific passages, and this story structure made it hard to find useful reference points that would easily tell me if they happened before or after the passage I was looking for. This didn't detract from the story at all, it was just something I noticed and thought about quite a bit.

Now that I'm falling asleep for real, it's time to wrap up. As I read, I kept thinking about whether it would make a good movie or not. I like doing that with books and trying to visualize how it would look and who would play the characters and what parts of the story would be cut, etc. I think that this book would have to be handled very carefully if it were adapted to the screen. I think that it's McCarthy's style to have very little dialog describe what's going on, and I'm wondering if such a visually informative movie would keep a pop-culture MTV generation audience's attention, and I honestly don't know if it could be done without straying too much from the story. I'm afraid that if it is made into a movie (I should leave out the "if" because it is for sure become a movie), they're going to make it into an action focusing mainly on the cannibalism and the few "action-packed" confrontations that happen in the book. I'm just afraid that it's not going to do much justice to the book. Viggo Mortensen isn't a very good dialog actor, so we'll see if they can keep his mouth shut enough to make the movie not seem too wooden.
Whatever, I'm over it.

UPDATE: [from 3030, Deltron 3030]
...half the world's a desert
cannibals eat human brains for dessert
buried under deep dirt, mobility inert
I insert these codes for the cataclysm...

stupid blogger

So I need to post something to be able to preview any edits I make to the template. Are you happy now, Blogger?