Archive for December, 2009

Intellectualism

December 22, 2009

Intellectualism by definition isn’t precisely what I’m getting at in this post, but it’s the sort of word you just want to mean what you’re talking about, you know? And it’s a better title than “Thoughts” or “A blog post”, so, whatever.

I have a few stories to tell, different observations through which one can determine the whole of the picture I am trying to paint. This picture, hopefully, won’t be worth too many words.*

Dio is a singer who creates music that can vary wildly in quality during a song. His albums are equally consistent, and his career presents a very hard to rate volume of work. His subject matter can be just as confusing. As far as religion goes, his songs would imply that he is some sort of Satanic traditional Catholic skeptic. On top of this, his cryptic sword-and-sorcery themes make you wonder if he’s even talking about religion at all. This is partially why I count him as one of my favorite artists, despite probably liking less than half of what he’s done–the general effect in my mind is that I’m just not good enough to like the other things he does. More than that, though, is that when he does strike a chord (heh) within me, he hits it hard.

The song “The Sign of the Southern Cross”, from the second album of Dio’s tenure with Black Sabbath, has been a big favorite of mine since I heard it. Not only is it a rad Black Sabbath song, it’s a rad Black Sabbath song with interesting lyrics, and has a verse with the rare trait in Dio’s music of being perfectly clear in meaning, at least to my mind:

“Reach above your dreams of pleasure,

give a life to those who died,

look beyond your own horizons,

sail the ship of sight.”

This describes my state of mind more than it does some direct moral, so it’s hard to describe. But, well… reach above your dreams of pleasure; never be limited by what you want. Give a life to those who died; don’t waste what all your ancestors have built for you by resting on your laurels. Look beyond your own horizons; don’t be beholden to what you know, think, or believe, and make your morals and knowledge part of the decision-making process, never the decision. Sail the ship of sight; always accept what can clearly be seen.

Like I said, those are just elements that make up a whole way of living. But that’s the first ‘story’ I wanted to tell.

Almost halfway through my freshman year of high school, my general science class had finished the basic physics the classed covered and moved on to slightly more detailed biology. It was still essentially the same things we learned every year before, with bigger words and more homework, but the teacher was pretty good and made it rather interesting and seemed to know what he was talking about. So I was rather excited to see that our next section was on evolution, a topic I wanted to actually hear something about other than the usual “grr it’s evil”/”grr it’s not evil”. I came in the next day alert and ready to learn. Class began, and the teacher said something to the effect of:

“We’re going to skip this next section on evolution, it’s complicated and…”

It was like getting punched directly in the brain. He just trailed off, never stating a reason for why we were skipping it, shaking his head noncommittally when asked about it, but the way he acted made it clear that it was getting skipped for being evolution. He didn’t even have enough respect for us to admit that he was dodging the topic so our parents wouldn’t get mad and sue.

I pretty much instantly lost all respect for him. I slept through his class every day for the rest of the year, except for a brief span where I pointedly read A Brief History of Time, as if to say, “Then I’ll just go ahead and learn about things without you.”

Third anecdote: thinking back to that incident a couple weeks ago led me to start looking around for books about evolution. Richard Dawkins was on The Colbert Report one night, promoting his book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, and that seemed like as good a starting point as any, so I ordered it from library.

My mom is a part-time librarian, and she usually brings books I order home to me. When she brought this one home she said she saw the cover before seeing what the book was, and was impressed at how pretty the cover was. Then she said it was, and I quote, a “shame the topic’s so controversial”.

She said “controversial” as if the word were a demerit, using an ‘I’m not touching that one’ tone of voice that sounded a little too much like the science teacher’s for my taste. This situation was worsened by the book’s cover. It’s black with reflective butterflies that shine in different colors depending on how the light hits them. It’s meant to depict the beauty that can exist in evolutionary biology, the sort of idea in Charles Darwin’s ending to his Origin of Species:

“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

The cover evokes the ‘grandeur in this view of life’ by being, once you let yourself enjoy something as simplistic as shiny colors, really pretty.

But my mom saw the prettiness, then saw it was about evolution, and was disappointed. She’s entitled to her opinion about evolution, of course, especially since I’m still forming my own, but this confounds me. It’s the same with the science teacher. It’s not just stopping yourself from thinking about something, which is understandable– it’s like they specifically reached over and flicked off the switch on the light bulb of inspiration. It’s like she chose not to be intrigued.

When I’m intrigued by an idea, regardless of what morals I may have already wrapped around it, I’m going to look beyond my own horizons, sail the ship of sight, and find out more about it. What if my morals are misguided?

I know other people have a completely different mindset than me and will sometimes do things I find strange. This just bewilders me is all. What the hell do they do with their brains? Something else, I suppose. Like I said, it’s just that the idea is foreign to me. My only point here is a confused and flustered “Huh?!”

*It was worth 1175 words, according to Word Press. Yeah. When we have 500-word papers to write in English about something, I usually write them before school the day they’re due.

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Today

December 20, 2009

I’ll start at the end. I’m sitting here at my computer, Halo 3 is sitting in the Xbox unplayed, and my media player is shuffling through songs while muted. There’s nothing I really feel like doing, and that feeling is mingling with a feeling that I shouldn’t really do anything anyway given the situation.

Now to the beginning, so you can wonder what the ‘situation’ is and I can build suspense for the marvelously undramatic reveal of what this uninteresting situation is. The beginning is in the past, though, so this post’s title is inaccurate.

What would have been referred to as yesterday during what is now yesterday’s yesterday (read: Thursday) was the effective last day of school, meaning we weren’t doing anything Friday, the actual last day of school, so everyone weighed the options and chose to be ‘sick’. That description paints a more devious picture than it is. There wasn’t any mass exodus of youth from a scheduled school day. It was well-known that we were quite literally doing nothing  that day, and so it was well-known that the vast majority of students would not be there. Teachers openly asked in class who was going to be sick Friday.

Anyway, one of my friends was going to see Avatar in 3-D at a nearby IMAX theater on Friday, and at some point Thursday discussion of other people going with popped up. It was decided that some people would go probably (we’re teenagers). It was found the planned IMAX didn’t actually exist, so we would see it in 3-D at a regular theater. Thursday afternoon an actual plan was reluctantly drawn up. Friend #1’s dad was taking him to Avatar. Friends #2 through 4 and I would also go. We had to get ourselves to #1’s house. My mom agreed to give me a ride there, and also to pick up Friends 2 and 3, who couldn’t get rides there otherwise.

Next day. Friday. Friend #4 isn’t going, because he is a lying poser-type person, and also because he got himself grounded for doing thoroughly stupid shit, including causing his computer to catch on fire and being a dick to the parents. This is a person I can only stand when our conversation is limited to jokes, since we have matching senses of humor. The less contact I have with the rest of his personality, the better. So I’m not really bummed out about him not coming. Friend #1, it turns out, was not aware Friend #2 lived just like 10 minutes away, and so picks him up. I get ready for my mom and I to get #3 and go to #1’s house.

My parents get into an argument. This is an apartment with thin walls, so even with my door closed I could hear them as they madly launched their accusations all around the room, hoping to hit something while lying, both to each other and themselves, that they don’t want to hurt the other and seek only a peaceful resolution. My mom is the saner of the two while arguing. She actually argues about something, although she will usually pull several unrelated ‘somethings’ in at random. My dad, while he generally stays in the vicinity of Things They Have Not Argued About Several Times this Year, flings his set amount of topics about wildly, like they were nun-chucks. He is not trained to effectively use nun-chucks. As a result of all this, it’s not actually possible to determine what these people are arguing about when it happens, but it was something about my mom getting what conflicting sources (read: them) say is either 1 or more than 1 address(es) wrong on Christmas cards, and my dad somehow feeling shut out of family activities because of this. Yeah. This argument wasn’t as bad intellectually as others I’ve witnessed in this family (such as when the youngest of my older brothers, while arguing nonsensically at my mom, actually said “Yeah, well, who’s going to be the better person?” and was silent, expectantly, waiting for my mom to leap up and align herself to be better on his personal scale. It hurts to think about. The whole “you should be the better person here” tactic implies so many psychological fails at having a functioning brain and not being a dickbutt that, if rage could boil blood, this would completely evaporate my circulatory system), but was still rather logically bankrupt. It was short, however, since my mom had to give me that ride.

Before going to Friend #1’s house, which is in a town out in the woods somewhere since his parents refuse to move, we went to go pick up #3.  I felt I should talk about the argument, but since #3 only lives a few minutes away we wouldn’t have time to finish our conversation or for my mom to regain her composure if she got emotional. I knew she wouldn’t want to look like an emotional wreck in front of anyone, so I tried to be as non-awkwardly silent as possible. We got #3 and after a minute or two of silence I noticed that he could probably detect the “we’re not talking about some things” vibe in the van, so I struck up a conversation with him about Left 4 Dead 2, since he had borrowed that from me. This somehow became us reminiscing about fun things that happened in Halo 3, which I hadn’t played in months. I hoped my mom didn’t feel alienated.

We got to Friend #1’s house, screwed around for an hour or so, and went to the movie. Friend #1, his dad, and Friend #3 had gotten tickets online beforehand. Me and Friend #2 had not. The show was sold out. They exchanged their tickets for ones for a 3:30 p.m. showing the next day, and we bought ones for then. We headed back to #1’s house. #2 and I would spend the night, but #3 couldn’t, so we took him back to his house. We spent the night screwing around, watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail since #2 hadn’t seen it (it has somehow become my duty to educate #2 in great movies he hasn’t seen), and we went to bed at about 6 a.m. Me and #2 had to sleep in #1’s sister’s room (she always sleeps on the living room couch), which had a bed that had another bed that slid out from under it. I ended up with the main bed.

We got up at 1:30 or so. We almost immediately left to get #3, and then we went to see Avatar. I’m not going to put an entire movie review in this giant post (suffice to say it’s great and is basically a sci-fi version of FernGully, and all potential problems that might summon in your head are perfectly fine. The special effects are great too, and apparently 3-D is actually good now, so I’d really recommend seeing it in 3-D. It takes a bit to get used to it but after that it really helps flesh out the special effects to give it an other-worldly feel and also helps with the “fuck yeah, explosions” stuff. Also, don’t worry, they never have anyone shoot or throw something directly at the camera). Afterwards we all agree it was very great and I am surprised to find that everyone (except for #3) knows what FernGully is. Friend #1’s dad decides he’ll just drop everyone off, we won’t need to get rides home. We go back to their house first though, since #2 needs to grab some movies I am letting him borrow (as part of the aforementioned greatness education). Then we drop him off at his house and head into town. They drop me off and continue to #3’s house.

I go inside and only my dad is home. My mom is at work. My dad had called earlier to ask how I was getting home, and I had assumed he would tell my mom. It’s obvious in my dad’s mood that the argument was still going. Not wanting to appear to show any favor to either during an argument, I am afraid my mom doesn’t know how I got home, and I know she would want to. I ask my dad if she knows. He says she does. He asks how the movie was, I tell him. He’s being rather quiet and not talking much, and it’s clear he’s trying to wait out the storm, so to speak, and will quiet and polite as long as he thinks he can. I go to my room and screw around on the Internet.

Later my dad comes in to tell me my sister and brother-in-law are coming to have him watch one of their babies for a few hours while they do something. Afterwards they’ll sleep here, and dad asks me if I’ll sleep on the couch so they can have my bed. I say sure. Soon they show up, visit for a bit (I make a brief appearance in the living room so I don’t appear antisocial) and then they leave. My dad cares to the baby until my mom comes home.

Turns out, she wasn’t consulted at all or aware of this whole baby thing. The first thing my dad says to her, other than maybe a hello, is that she should be quiet, the baby’s sleeping. She’s not really performing her actions any louder than usual, but abruptly and angrily. Finally she mentions she wasn’t asked if she wanted to babysit or told that she wouldn’t get an uninterrupted sleep tonight. My dad says he didn’t know she wanted sleep (he might not have had any other response), and he says especially quietly, as if to remind mom of the sleeping baby. My mom says she may as well not exist, she should just leave. My dad says something I can’t hear. My mom says “Fine,” puts her coat back on, and leaves for the night like she has before–probably going to her sister’s house. I’m not sure what my dad said. He either said something tactless, referring to the earlier argument perhaps, which my mom took a little far and decided to leave, or, he said something along the lines of “Then go,” believing she had made up her mind and would find a reason to leave anyway. Could be either.

And so now it’s the present. The past few days have been a tangled, never-ending series of unconnected missteps, on my part and others, along with the awkwardness and large amounts of social diplomacy caused by a parental argument and relatives. This has put me in a decidedly blank mood, where there’s nothing I particularly want to do, but with added layers of decision-making brought on by family visits and a baby; I shouldn’t do anything loud enough to disturb the baby, and I shouldn’t do anything very personal and enjoyable*, since the family could come back while I’m doing it and I’d have a new trait to defend in their eyes. So, yeah. Writing this has cleared my head a bit, though, so I think I’ll be able to waste some time playing Halo. I was pretending to play Halo when the family left, so when they get back it might seem strange that I’ve played Halo for several hours, but that’s quite frankly more judgment than I can give a fuck about.

Yeah, Halo time.

*That… sounds like it refers to masturbation, at least to my dirty mind. Well, it wasn’t meant to imply wanking. Just, you know, reading a ‘weird’ book, watching a ‘weird’ movie, etc. Things I like that they probably don’t know about and will judge. That kinda stuff.

F1r54 p054111

December 13, 2009

Or something.

Spent almost an entire week trying to decide how to start off my blog, decided “screw it, start with some random meme”. So, here’s my participation in some TV-show thing, which was brought to my attention by Jenni Powell (http://jennipowell.tumblr.com/)

Rules:
– Bold all of the following TV shows which you’ve ever seen 3 or more episodes of in your lifetime.
– Italicize a show if you’re positive you’ve seen every episode of it.

24
7th Heaven
ALF
Alias
American Gothic
America’s Next Top Model
Angel
Arrested Development
Babylon 5
Batman: The Animated Series
Battlestar Galactica (the old one)
Battlestar Galactica (the new one)
Baywatch
Beverly Hills 90210 (original)
Bewitched
Bonanza
Bones
Bosom Buddies
Boston Legal
Boy Meets World
Brothers And Sisters
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Californication
Chappelle’s Show
Charlie’s Angels
Charmed
Cheers
Chuck
Clarissa Explains it All
Columbo
Commander in Chief
Crossing Jordan
CSI
CSI: Miami
CSI: NY
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Dark Angel
Dark Skies
DaVinci’s Inquest
Dawson’s Creek
Dead Like Me
Deadwood
Degrassi: The Next Generation
Designing Women
Desperate Housewives
Dexter
Dharma & Greg
Different Strokes
Doctor Who
Dragnet
Due South
ER
Everwood
Everybody Loves Raymond
Facts of Life
Family Guy
Farscape
Fawlty Towers
Felicity
Firefly
Frasier
Freaks & Geeks
Friends
Fringe
Futurama
Get Smart
Gilligan’s Island
Gilmore Girls
Gossip Girl
Grey’s Anatomy
Grange Hill
Growing Pains
Gunsmoke
Happy Days
Hercules: the Legendary Journeys
Heroes
Home Improvement
Homicide: Life on the Street
House
I Dream of Jeannie
I Love Lucy
Invader Zim
Invasion
Hell’s Kitchen
JAG
Jackass
Joey
Kim Possible
Knight Rider
Knight Rider: 2008
Kung Fu
Kung Fu: The Legend Continues
La Femme Nikita
LA Law
Laverne and Shirley
Law and Order
Law and Order: SVU
Law and Order: CI
Leverage
Little House on the Prairie
Lizzie McGuire
Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
Lost
Lost in Space
MASH
MacGyver
Malcolm in the Middle
Married… With Children
McLeods Daughters
Melrose Place
Miami Vice
Mission: Impossible
Mod Squad
Monk
Mork & Mindy
Murphy Brown
My Life As A Dog
My Three Sons
My Two Dads
Mythbusters
NCIS
Ned Bigby’s Declassified School Survival Guide
Nip/Tuck
Numb3rs
One Tree Hill
Oz
Perry Mason
Power Rangers
Press Gang
Prison Break
Private Practice
Privileged
Profiler
Project Runway
Psych
Pushing Daisies
Quantum Leap
Queer As Folk (US)
Queer as Folk (UK)
ReGenesis
Remington Steele
Rescue Me
Road Rules
ROME
Roseanne
Roswell
Sanctuary
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?
Scrubs
Seaquest DSV
Seinfeld
Sex and the City
Six Feet Under
Slings and Arrows
Smallville
So Weird
South of Nowhere
South Park *
Spongebob Squarepants
St. Elsewhere
Star Trek
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Enterprise
Stargate Atlantis
Stargate SG-1
Starsky & Hutch
Superman
Supernatural
Surface
Survivor
Taxi
Teen Titans
That 70’s Show
That’s So Raven
The 4400
The Addams Family
The Amazing Race
The Andy Griffith Show
The A-Team
The Avengers
The Beverly Hillbillies
The Brady Bunch
The Cosby Show
The Daily Show
The Dead Zone
The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Flintstones
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Golden Girls
The Honeymooners
The Jeffersons
The Jetsons
The L Word
The Love Boat
The Magnificent Seven
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
The Monkees
The Munsters
The Office (US)
The Powerpuff Girls **
The Pretender
The Real World
The Shield
The Simpsons
The Six Million Dollar Man
The Sopranos
The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
The Twilight Zone
The Waltons
The West Wing
The Wonder Years
The X-Files
Third Watch
Three’s Company
Twin Peaks
Twitch City
Unfabulous
Ugly Betty
Veronica Mars
Weeds
Whose Line is it Anyway? (US)
Whose Line is it Anyway? (UK)
Will and Grace
Wings
Xena: Warrior Princess

*I would say I have seen every episode, but I think it’s best to assume I haven’t, just in case.
**Hey, shut up, it was on after some good show. Ed, Edd, n Eddy, I think. Or Pokemon.***
***Shut up!