May 13 2009

The Discussion: Part One

A quick disclaimer: While the setting is real and the character playing my friend is based on a real person in that I’ve known him from the time we were in elementary school I entirely invented his personality here and none of his lines are in any way based on anything he has ever said, done, or thought about (that I know of).

The Discussion

The grass was now a deep green, and at last the majority of trees brandished thick foliage of the pale sort that would later in the summer acquire its dark green hue. The air was warm and not yet of the season to be humid. The shadows lengthened as the evening aged. They stood in the field about 15 yards apart, tossing the Frisbee between them. He loved Frisbee. If there was one thing he valued from his time spent in the boy scouts it was the skills with a disc he’d acquired through several years spent struggling for recognition until at last he was one of the best. Then he’d quit. His friend was not quite so able, but could throw and catch well enough. His friend standing across from his was his oldest friend, from the time that he’d moved here up until now, the last remaining from the elementary years. There was something to be said for that. He had no clue what that thing was, but surely there was something. Maybe just acknowledging that there was something to be said was saying something and thus resolving the issue right there.

“You know what I hate?” he said as he released the Frisbee in his friend’s direction.

“What?”, said his friend as he caught it.

“Those stupid common sayings or phrases that don’t really mean anything.”

“Like what?”

“Like ‘there’s something to be said for that.’ If there’s something to be said then say it. It’s just one of those things people say when they know they should be able to see a deeper meaning but are too lazy to actually look for it.”

“Yeah, there’s a lot of things like that, designed to get you through a conversation without actually thinking about it.”

“People are so lazy.”

“Uh huh.”

Part two coming tomorrow! (Maybe!)

May 1 2009


So the other day I experienced something that really gave me a lot of insight into our government and allowed me to be a bit more sympathetic towards them. Whenever there’s a problem that the government must fix, there are always flaws in their plan. When the plan goes public, everyone goes nuts. People say these flaws are so obvious, how did they not notice them, is our entire government full of idiots? These people often include me. Hell I’m probably one of the first to jump all over a flawed policy, especially if it’s a flawed Republican policy (is there any other kind?). But the other day I learned that it’s not like that at all. I was presented with my own problem to fix, and when I reached the end I found I much more understood the way things probably work. The Situation: In my history class we were given two assignments and a day and a class period to work on them. One of them was just a busy work type homework thing that should be done overnight so you could work on the other more in-depth project during that class period. However, neither assignment would be collected until the end of class, during which you could work on either. Naturally, I totally forgot about both of them, leaving me with only one 52 minute class period to complete them. Then of course earlier in the day we have a lock down drill, cutting all the rest of the day’s classes short. I now have roughly 35 minutes to complete both of the assignments. I started with the busywork, because it was worth more points than the other. It took me roughly 20 minutes to complete, leaving the other assignment only 15 minutes. This second assignment was far more complicated than the first. We were given a scenario and asked to provide an FDR-like solution. The situation was that textbook companies had stopped selling books to the schools because the schools took forever to pay them. The textbooks that students were using were now 8 years old. We had to come up with a plan that would solve the immediate crisis and then protect against this happening again in the future. Sound familiar? I’m not going to go into what my plan was, but I had a basic idea of what to do, however the assignment required much more detail. As I wrote out my plan I realized that there were several obvious flaws with it, but I only had five minutes left of class before it would be collected. I figured that my plan was good enough to at least get me a 90, even if it wasn’t a totally realistic solution. I got it back a few days ago, with the expected 90 and some notes pointing out where my plan wouldn’t work, and I had this epiphany. Faced with a problem I didn’t really understand and not a lot of time to solve it I came up with something that could possibly work, but was in no way perfect, but enough to get me credit for having done it. People who sit around at home and complain about how bad a job the government is doing do so because they have time to sit and mull things over after the fact. The government has to do it on the spot with an enormous amount of pressure and whatever complications are thrown at them, so have a little sympathy.

Apr 21 2009

Where in the World is George Bush?

Wow, it has been a long time since I updated, (two whole weeks to be exact). I’ll try not to let that happen again, but I didn’t have school last week so I pretty much decided that any time I had in-between visiting colleges and driver’s ed stuff (test tomorrow!) would be spent doing as little as possible, hence no updates.

So, to the point, what the hell happened to Bush? Seriously, it’s like he’s dropped off the face of the earth. I mean, it’s awesome that he’s not in charge anymore making stupid decisions that make the rest of us look like idiots (a fair description of a large portion of the population actually), but I sort of miss him as an easy target for political humor. All the shows like The Daily Show and Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me are stuck making empty cracks at the Obama administration, which actually are generally directed at those who oppose it. Dick Cheney has shown his head a few times to make remarks about how much better (worse) things were when he ran the country (and commanded his own private army. No, I’m dead serious about that one), but I haven’t seen Bush anywhere. He boarded that helicopter at the inauguration and flew away into the proverbial sunset. It’s weird, I had a Firefox add-on that counted the days until he left office, but watching him leave, and in the time since, it just feels weird. He was the first, and up until a few months ago the only president I have ever been aware of. I loved to hate him really. Of course, since he’s been gone the republican party has done an excellent job of opening me up to a whole range of new things to be mad about. I thought I heard that he was going to write a book, most of them do. I have an excellent title for it: Where the Wild Nukes Aren’t, and the opening sentence could be, “It was the best of times, and eight years later it was the worst of times.” There’s lots of people out there who say that it’s not as much his fault as peope make it out to be, but I’m an American, and blaming just one person as the singular reason for a crisis is a heck of a lot easier than digging through complex issues and dividing up blame. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I don’t miss him at all.

Apr 7 2009

The Other Woman

Been a while since I did one of these, and if I do say so my self, this one’s pretty good (are they ever not?). It varies a little from my normal sort of thing, but I think you’ll like it.

The Other Woman

Harold drove the small roads back to his house in an absent minded state. He had a serious situation on his hands here. He was distracted such that he paid no attention to the beautiful budding spring around him, ignored the neighbors working in their front yard who waved to him as he passed, and a few stop signs as well. He’d woken up this morning like any other, read the paper and pondered what the day held for him. His retirement left many of his days empty, the chore he dreaded most being finding an activity with which to fill the hours till evening. On this particular day, with no outstanding household projects requiring attention, he had settled down with a book, planning to read away the day. He fell asleep in the early afternoon and was awoken sometime later by his wife, Sharon.

“Get up old man. I need some things from the store. Here, I made a list because I know you don’t remember a word of what I say to you. Don’t lose it.”

He took the list, feigning mild annoyance, “Alright alright alright, I’m going.” The truth was he was glad to have something to do, though he wouldn’t let Sharon know, he knew she enjoyed playing the bossy housewife, and it was all the better if he put up resistance. It was warm enough that going outside didn’t require a coat, the air was fresh and the sun shone brightly. He got in the car and drove off to the supermarket in the center of town.

He arrived at the store, took a cart and retrieved his list as he walked through the sliding doors. He went first to the fruit section and perused the selection of apples, the list said he needed six, and no bruised ones. After locating satisfactory specimens he moved on the the deli to acquire lunch meats as the list dictated. He went through the list one by one, following instructions exactly until he reached the end. Now he had a stop of his own to make, he headed to the snack food aisle. Sharon wouldn’t approve, but he wanted chips. It was, after all, his prerogative as a man his age to eat what he liked regardless of lists and wives… as long as Sharon didn’t find out.

However, when he reached the snack food aisle, the day took a rather surprising turn. Standing there in front of the potato chip section was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. He hair was light brown and straight, it hung a little ways past her shoulders. Her body curved smoothly, occasionally coming to a sharp angle at an elbow or other joint. No feature was over-pronounced or underdeveloped. She carried herself with confidence, and stared intently at the rack of chips in front of her. The area around her seemed to shine, or maybe that was just the polished tile floor under the bright fluorescent light. Either way she was a stunning creature. She picked a bag from the rack, which happened to be his favorite brand, put it into her cart and wheeled her way in the other direction, giving him a bright, friendly smile, the genuine kind, as she passed him which he barely managed to return. His state of shock slowly faded and he found himself in front of the chips where she’d been only moments ago. He picked up a bag, the same ones that she had, and walked off to the checkout. He considered going after her, but what could he do? He was old and married, and she was young and who knows what else. So he had gone up to the counter and placed his groceries on the belt. He forgot all about using his member card, told the cashier debit and then swiped his credit card, and would have left behind one of his bags had the cashier not stopped him on his way out. He was embarrassed that the man must think him a feeble minded old fool, but it was low on his list of worries.

He sat in the car and a realization came over him, he loved this woman. And with this realization came a certain calm. He loved this woman, and nothing could come of it. It bothered him a little, but he had experience in accepting the way things were, and he drove off. His thoughts turned to home and another problem occupied his mind. What would he say to Sharon? Should he tell her? They’d been married for 35 years, she deserved to know that he was in love with another woman. But what if it just upset her, he didn’t want to do that, although he probably should have thought of that before all this. Even though he hadn’t done anything, it felt like cheating. Honesty was the best policy, he decided, he would have to tell her. But when he got home, he said nothing. He brought in the groceries, naturally he had gotten a few of the items wrong, and Sharon scolded him about the potato chips which he had forgotten to conceal.

The evening passed, they ate dinner and watched TV. He suspected that Sharon knew something was up but she didn’t say anything to him. They went to bed and lay next to each other reading, or at least she was reading. He was too distracted to read, he had to tell her, it was now or never, if he didn’t do it now then he never would, and she deserved to know.

“Sharon,” he said to get her attention.

“Hmm?” she said, not turning from her book.

“Something happened at the supermarket today.”

“What’s that, get thrown out for misbehaving?” she said in a flat voice, still deep in her book.

“No, nothing like that. It’s… I’m… I’m in love with another woman.”

At this she put her book down and rolled over to face him. “What?” she said, more curious than angry or offended.

“She was there buying chips, and I… I just fell in love with her.”

“Oh really, what’s her name?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t speak to her.”

“What was she wearing? Something with a lot of cleavage I’ll bet, you men are all the same.”

“No, it wasn’t like that.”

“Oh, it was tight jeans then wasn’t it?”

“No, I told you it wasn’t like that. She was beautiful yes, but that… that wasn’t it.”

“What was it then, her personality? I bet you saw a whole lot of that not speaking to her.”

“I don’t know what it was, I just loved… love her. And I thought you should know.”

“Oh I better watch out then, I could wake up the next morning and you’ll have run off with this woman who’s name you don’t know and I’ll be left with nothing but divorce papers. Go to sleep old man.” she said and turned out the light. But he couldn’t sleep, he was in love, and it felt great.

Apr 1 2009

Story Time!

April Fools’! Happy “Disappointment Wednesday” everyone!

Mar 29 2009


So the question that’s on everybody’s minds, “How the hell does this genius come up with all this fantastic stuff? Where does he pull it all from? Has he done the things he writes about, does he sit secluded for hours on end and dream it up, does it come to him in his sleep? I sure wish I knew so that maybe I could be like him.” Don’t tell me you weren’t thinking it. It’s a rather complex question, and deserves a rather complex answer. It’s funny because I actually consider myself rather uninspired. The stories I write are about average people doing average things. Well, except for that one I wrote about the war veteran who shot the kids playing in the street in front of his house. I honestly don’t know where I got that one from. But other than that, it doesn’t seem like they would be very interesting to read, seeing as you could just step away from your computer and go do the stuff that’s in them yourself, and still people like it (or so I’ve been told). So, how do I come up with it? It doesn’t seem like it would really be that hard to do does it? It’s not like I’m dreaming up fantasy worlds, I’m taking people in this world in ordinary situations and giving them rather dull lines to say to each other. Well if you think that you’re wrong. What I’m doing is exploring the human circumstance and it is very very difficult. Or it would be if I wasn’t a genius. Here’s how I do it. Seeing as all my writing is based on real life situations, real life is where my inspiration comes from. Actually, not my real life so much as other peoples. None of what I’ve written about has ever happened to me, although some aspects are taken directly from real life. There’s always at least one character who is meant to represent me, or at least contains some aspect of my personality, it helps me connect and write about them better. In most of the stories it’s pretty obvious who I am because there’s only two characters and one of them is a girl, but in a few, such as The Basement, it might be a little trickier. I think I might write a story with a lot of characters and see if you can spot me, a literary Where’s Waldo. Generally I get ideas when I’m not doing anything, or doing something that doesn’t require much thought, such as walking the dog, or lying in bed before I go to sleep. I don’t write them down or anything, they just sort of sit there and I’ll mull them over and gradually they’ll gather substance. This is an ongoing process so generally I’ll have about 3 to 4 going around at different stages of development. Then one will reach a point where I’m really excited about it or it seems to have enough substance to write about and I’ll sit down and write it. Generally it’ll go down on the page all at once, and after a few minor adjustments it’s ready for prime time. And that is how the magic happens.

In case you hadn’t noticed I’m totally out of ideas right now and it’s been over a week since my last update so I needed something and I figured this would do.

Mar 20 2009

The Hazards of Love

No, this isn’t one of my stories or some opinion article on relationships. The Hazards of Love is the latest album from The Decemberists. Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “Dear god when is he going to shut up about The Decemberists what is this the third time he’s written about them? They can’t be all that interesting I mean seriously write another short story or something you uninspired bore.” The answer is I am never going to shut up about The Decemberists, as long as they continue to make music I will continue to write about it, this is largely because The Decemberists are one of the very few modern bands that I like, and therefore I enjoy being able to keep track of their new releases and such. Now, about the album, the one obvious things to talk about is the way they’ve put it together. Each song flows into the next and it’s often very hard to distinguish one song from another. It’s almost like it’s one big hour long song, and I’m as yet undecided on whether or not I like this. It’s interesting and it allows the narrative to flow uninhibited by track changes, but on the other hand it’s hard to pick out one or two songs that you really like from the album like you would normally, you really have to have an hour to devote to listening from one end to the other. I thought that the beginning of the album felt a little too much like background music, for me it really picked up when they hit “The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid”. I thought that at some times it was a little too soft and slow, although The Decemberists can pull that off better than most, and at other times it was a little too heavy, but for the most part I really enjoyed listening to it. A big aspect of the album is the narrative, which is interesting, but has some inherent flaws. The words to a song can often be very hard to decipher, and trying to understand all the words as they’re being sung can really distract from the music. Also, it means that you have to sit for an hour and pay close attention, you can’t really go around doing other stuff while it plays if you want to understand what’s going on. I have a hard time trying to come up with an occasion to which this album is best suited. It doesn’t really work for social occasions because it requires attention, and because it’s hard to pick out single songs you like it’s hard to fit into a mix or shuffle through on an iPod. To me it feels like the kind of thing for a rainy depressing Sunday afternoon with nothing going on and you can lie down and lose yourself in the music and the narrative for an hour. Overall I think it’s a pretty great album although I have to admit I was a little underwhelmed by it probably due to “The Rake’s Song” setting the bar extremely high. I think I like some of their previous work better, especially The Crane Wife which contained the first songs I’d ever heard from them. Listening live to the webcast was a lot of fun although they didn’t take the stage until 1 am and then after an encore all was said and done at around 2:30. I think lead singer Colin Meloy said it best right before they played their last song, “It’s late man, it’s late. It’s time for you to be in bed.” I look forward to more from The Decemberists in the hopefully near future. In other words, yeah, you made a pretty great album, now get back to work and make another one!

Update: Today I got the CD and I don’t really know why but the studio version sounds a lot better than the live version they did. The whole beginning seems much more… I don’t really know how to describe it… there, than it did before. It’s pretty much the same really but I think the tweaks and tuning make it feel a lot more together than it did live. I’m considering placing it above The Crane Wife. Actually, I’m not just considering, I am.

Final score: 92/100

Mar 19 2009


So about a week ago in my English class we finished up our satire unit which I enjoyed a lot. We did a project where we created our own satirical pieces, and I think the one I worked on is pretty awesome. I actually did not create this by myself, co-author credit goes to Niall Reynolds and Shane Casey. This is different from most of the stuff on my site in that it’s much less direct. I could never create stuff like this on a regular basis because it requires much more cleverness than I can constantly provide, but anyway, I hope you like it. Because of the special formatting I had to scan it into a PDF, click here to view it.

Mar 12 2009

Rush Limbaugh (And the Republican Party in General)

I found someone I hate more than Sarah Palin. This article is also going to be a little bit about CPAC and the Republican party. Now I know it’s not really fair to judge the entirety of the Republican party based on what one loser hiding away in a radio booth spews from his mouth everyday, but you guys make it a bit hard for me when you make him a big speaker at a convention and cheer his every word. I took issue with just about every word that was spoken at CPAC, and not just the ones from Rush either. They had an NRA guy to rile up the shotgun wielding rednecks and homicidal maniacs, and some other losers to pound Obama’s spending bill which only has to exist because of all the stupid things the Republican party did when it was in charge. Let me go back to NRA guy for a minute because that was something I wanted to talk about. I know the Constitution gives us the right to bear arms, but I think that should probably exclude the right to bear multiple high powered rapid firing arms without any background check or waiting period or any training or at all. Also, another part of the Constitution is the part that allows you to change it to fit the times, that’s the only reason it still exists. And if you’re always going to fall back on the Constitution, you should probably know what it is, Rush. The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is in the Declaration of Independence, not the preamble to the Constitution you dolt. I think Stephen Colbert said it best, “The vacuum in Republican leadership has allowed a mean spirited lard ass talk radio mind corpse to become de facto leader which is turning an already crippled party into a bickering laughing stock.” You know he once accused Micheal J. Fox of flailing around in his Parkinson’s disease commercials to exaggerate the effects of the disease and gain sympathy? Now I’m not big on celebrities starting foundations for diseases that they already have because it’s not so much charity as self help and you know that they wouldn’t care at all if they didn’t suffer from it but seriously Rush, how much of an asshole do you have to be to say something like that? The answer: one the size of Jupiter. Even the internet hates Rush:

Everyone agrees.

Everyone agrees.

This is a real screenshot taken from the suggested search box that pops up while you’re typing in Google. Try it and see for yourself. They’re all pretty great but my personal favorites are numbers 3 and 8.

The Republican party is just a joke in general now, and I’m going to cash in on that. Anyone hear about Micheal Steele saying they needed to change the party’s image to match urban hip hop settings?

You know you want in.

You know you want in.

These days it seems like Republicans keep trying to mimic the Democrats in order to gain support, talking about change and trying to be cool. There are several major flaws with this, first, if you’re trying to be cool then you’re not, it’s one of those things that you just have to fall into. Second, the Democratic party isn’t just about changing  just anything, it’s about reversing all the policies you put in place and taking this country forward, not backward, and it doesn’t seem like Republicans are ever going to warm up to that. Conservatives will always live up to their name and try to keep things the way they are, completely ignorant of the fact that the way things are right now sucks. Republicans keep going on about this spending stuff and it annoys the hell out of me. When times are tough the government is supposed to spend like crazy and get money flowing in the economy again. The government’s goal is not to save money, then it would be a business. Also all the bills that they always point out are ones on which I think spending money is totally worth it, way more so than this idiotic war we’ve got going in the Middle East.

I get angrier and angrier every time I hear these guys talk, I’m really glad I don’t get cable because FOX News might kill me.

Mar 4 2009


So today I got Rockband, and then my afternoon disappeared. Rockband is a lot of fun. Originally I was worried that I would have to have friends around to play the game properly, that fear was quelled both when the game didn’t seem to care whether I played alone or with others and when my little sister immediately jumped in. This is really one of the better things about Rockband, I hardly ever do anything with my little sister other than begrudgingly go to a recital of some sort, it really is a fun family game. I’d played Guitar Hero at other people’s houses before, so I knew what to expect from guitar, and immediately jumped on the drums, which Harmonix did a great job with. I never played with the RB1 drums, but supposedly the RB2 ones don’t clack as much when you hit them and have a little more bounce. They are extremely satisfying when you hit your stride, and not that hard to pick up. There’s a big debate raging out there over whether the RB drums serve as an intro into real drums. Obviously guitar is completely different from game to real life, but as far as drums are concerned it’s still pretty much the same thing. Obviously you would have to adjust a little to a real drum kit, but when you see someone able to do this you have to admit it would probably not be a big step for them. This afternoon alone I ascended from hardly being able to keep a simple beat in the drum trainer to medium difficulty and there’s some songs I can do on hard. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get better yet. Rock Band 2 has by far the best track list of any music game to date. Looking at the list before purchase I knew it was for me even though I didn’t recognize a majority of the songs. So far I don’t actually hate the other stuff as much as I expected. Unfortunately there’s too much metal, too much being any. What I want from this game is classic hits most people know and can easily get into with maybe some lesser known modern stuff thrown in, and Rockband 2 comes oh so close to that mark. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best yet. You can also fill out your track list with songs downloaded from their store, admittedly at a cost, but if you absolutely hate most everything on the disc you’ll almost definitely find something there. You get “Still Alive” from the excellent video game Portal and “Charlene (I’m Right Behind You)” by Stephen and the Colberts as free downloads, they’re both great. For some reason games like Rockband often seem to be the butt of jokes on the grounds that you’re standing in front of your TV pretending to be a rock star, except that you’re not. When I play FPS games I don’t pretend that I’m gunning down men with lives and families, I just play the game, it’s a challenge of reflexes and little more. The same goes for Rockband. You may say that there’s a big difference between playing instruments and shooting people, but I say that it’s a comparison I’m going to continue to make so deal with it. A lot of people say how about you go out and buy an instrument and learn to play it. OK then, while I’m at it I’ll buy a gun and learn to shoot it. Again you’ll say that there’s a big difference to playing instruments and shooting people, but I say tell that to elementary school orchestras everywhere, those concerts can be excruciating. What’s weird is that often the people who tend to be hardest on Rockband are musicians. This is a big budget video game with a huge following that has practically created its own culture fad dedicated entirely to what you love and do for a living, why are you not excited about that?

Conclusion: Rockband rocks! 98/100 (Two points deducted for heavy metal music).