Poignantics

16 05 2009
  • Where is Lou when you need her?
  • I accidentally smiled when Andrew back talked the other day and used the phrase “double superlative” in his retort.
  • I haven’t done anything spontaneous for about four or six days.  Time’s a-comin’…
  • I miss missing the days before my nights and weekends were busy with the play.  Still not my world, but it offers its share of somethings.
  • Why doesn’t anyone does care about American history the same way Mom and I do?
  • Benjamin Franklin was not as much of a womanizer as he is perceived.  At least, the whole “girlfriends in France” thing is a bit exaggerated.  I’ll tell you all about sometime.  Then we’ll get married.
  • I’m so glad I’m not graduating this year.  Aren’t you?
  • I love my sisters.




What are you doing these days?

23 03 2009

I had a few awesome conversations this past weekend.  I also had one or two of the so-so conversations that we all dread.  For your convenience, I’ve listed a few basic tactics you can use to respond to the dreaded catching-up conversations we all face.  I’ve tried all of them, and there are certainly some that I have forgotten to add.  Either way, it’s well worth your time to peruse the list.  My time, I mean.

  1. The Brush Pass:  Named after the staple tactic of CIA and Google agents everywhere, this method involves subtle but clear communication of the desire to remain silent.  No real interaction or conversation is desired or even prudent, and a quick “not much, just working and hanging out” usually fits the bill.  If the person making conversation persists in their search for details, you may have to move on to a different tactic.
  2. The Norm MacDonald:  Needing no real explanation of its title, this approach usually has the effect (ala Dirty Work ) of completely repulsing any decent person through an outlandish and abhorrent claim.  For instance, “Where are you working now?”  “I work at the baby meat processing plant.”  “The…what?”  “I kill and process children for mass consumption.  I love it and can’t imagine doing anything else.”   If your aggressor insists of laughing this tactic off, you will then need to move on to yet another step.
  3. The Chuck Norris:  While actually punching and kicking people has a good success rate, this one is a little more metaphorical.  One must karate chop the annoying conversationalist with umistakable hints about how painful this conversation has grown to you.  “Do you enjoy your job at the…”baby processing plant” ha ha ha?”  “Yes.  I do.  It’s the only place where I know I won’t have to waste time making small talk with random people all day.”  Then you just stare them down and continue to answer any further questions with an increasingly painful delay.  Which leads me to…
  4. The Deep Blue:  Just like a chess computer, you must know your move before the opponent has finished their part of the conversation.  The greatest part of this strategy, however, is that you can use your preparedness to pretend like answering their questions is extremely difficult for you.  Four to six seconds of blank staring before firing off an intentionally labored response can really weaken their defenses.  Just make sure that you don’t overact, as some simian-types may mistake your pauses for thoughtful intervals, and be flattered by your intense effort to come up with worthy conversation fodder.  However, if they insist on carrying the conversation despite your signals, you will have to launch the peacekeeper missile of conversational tactics…
  5. The iPhone:  You know who they are.  They’re always looking something up, checking their email, or updating their status on the Facebook.  While we all resent these obnoxious people for their mindless tapping and sliding, the basic principles of the iPhone forcefield are there for the taking.  Simply put, one must always show blatantly greater interest in anything at one’s disposal other than the conversation partner.  If you have some change, not-so-surreptitiously jingle it and inspect the quarters for interesting state mottos.  If you have shoelaces, immediately un-tie and re-tie both of them.  Read any inscriptions or food labels in your immediate vicinity and check any accessible clothing labels (yours or not) for possibly intriguing combinations of cashmere and polyester.  While the offender will undoubtedly be insulted by your ostensibly rude behavior, they will think their time too valuable to be wasted on someone as petty as you.  In other words, mission accomplished.




Slipping Away

7 03 2009

There have been a few times over the past couple of months when I have started thinking about something and wanted to write down my thoughts while I my interest was still piqued.  This is often the place I use for those instances, but I have grown a little lazy lately, and I regret that I cannot quite recall all the things that I have been wanting to write about.  Perhaps a good writer will bolt to the nearest computer (or typewriter if you’re pretentious or Cory) to record their thoughts rather than let things like work and distance prevent them from doing so.  I’m forced to admit, however, that I am quite a ways from being capable of casting off my responsibilities and appointments for the sake of a boon.  I only wrote boon because I heard Stephen Fry say it on Jeeves and Wooster the other day.  I have all four season of it, by the way, in case you are ever interested in watching it.  I haven’t found anyone besides my brother who really seems to enjoy it for the reason I do, but I have watched it with admittedly few people, so I think that there is still time for that particular group of people to expand.

That does bring to mind the term “hipster” that I heard someone use on Friday.  While I am familiar with the term, I haven’t really thought about it too much beyond what it connotes.  I realized, though, that I have known a lot of hipsters.  A lot of the people I spent time with in college were budding hipsters, and the term “Christian hipster” definitely describes an even more frightening majority of them.  While Stuff White People Like has provided me with a checklist that is almost eerily comprehensive when it comes to a lot of these people, the mere fact that these groups are so easy to categorize is more than enough for me to be able to reflect on those times with a smile.  After all, I remember being distinctly interested in some of of those things at various points over the last five years.  Here’s an extemporaneous list of the traits on one or both sites that I personally saw adopted by friends of mine:

*Note — I’m not saying these traits are necessarily disingenuous, just that they all seemed to be frequently adopted by people that I knew.  After all, who could say anything negative about someone who likes Wendell Berry?

  • Pipes
  • Moleskine Notebooks
  • Hummus
  • The Pope
  • Bicycles
  • Poetry Readings
  • Flasks
  • Vegan/Vegetarianism
  • Tattoos
  • Being Faux-Catholic
  • Piercings
  • Wendell Berry
  • Coffee
  • Whole Foods and Grocery Co-ops
  • Appearing to Enjoy Classical Music
  • Sufjan Stevens
  • The Idea of Soccer
  • Girls with Bangs
  • Vintage
  • Wine
  • Microbreweries
  • Wes Anderson Movies  (I just finished The Darjeeling Limited no more than thirty minutes ago)
  • Making You Feel Bad about Not Going Outside
  • Snowboarding
  • Marathons
  • Despising Christian Music
  • Not Having a TV
  • The Daily Show/Colbert Report
  • Sushi

The funniest thing about Hipsters, as Brett notes, is that they all hate labels.  This makes such a candid list that much more perfect, really.  SHRUG!





Jackson Enraged

14 02 2009

I have to replace a picture of me (ME!) with a quote from Old Hickory?

Addressing the nullifcation of tariff laws by South Carolina, Andrew Jackon gave an impassioned oration about the value of the union.  I enjoyed this one:

Without union our independence and liberty would never have been achieved; without union they can never be maintained.  Divided into twenty-four, or even a smaller number, of separate communities, we shall see our internal trade burdened with numberless restraints and exactions; communication between distant points and sections obstructed or cut off; our sons made soldiers to deluge with blood the fields they now till in peace; the mass of our people borne down and imporverished by taxes to support armies and navies, and military leaders at the head of their victorious legions becoming our lawgivers and judges.  The loss of liberty, of all good government, of peace, plenty. and happiness, must inevitably follow a dissolution of the Union.  In supporting it, therefore, we support all that is dear to the freeman and the philanthropist.

The time at which I stand before you is full of interest.  The eyes of all nations are fixed on our Republic.  The event of the existing crisis will be decisive in the opinion of mankind of the practicability of our federal system of government.  Great is the stake placed in our hands; great is the responsibility which must rest upon the people of the United States.  Let us realize the importance of the attitude in which we stand before our country from the dangers which surround it and learn wisdom from the lessons they inculcate.

Another excerpt from the same book:

Six days later, the president named a postmaster for New Salem, Illinois, a twenty-four-year-old lawyer who had lost a race for the state legislature.  He was a [Henry] Clay man, but the post was hardly major, and Abraham Lincoln was happy to accept the appointment.

From American Lion, by Jon Meacham





In Defense of the Union

4 02 2009

I’m currently reading American Lion, a biography of President Andrew Jackson.  It called to my attention one of the greatest speeches by one of the greatest orators America has ever seen.  Daniel Webster happened to pass by the Senate during a debate about South Carolina, nullification, and state’s rights.  The next day, he spoke in response to Robert Hayne, who had given a stirring and engaging defense of South Carolina’s inclination to propagate open disdain (if not outright rebellion) for the government, which had passed new tariff legislation lately that met with widespread disgust.  Anyway, I’ll spare you from further background information, as its better read in its context anyway.  While Webster disagreed with Jackson on almost everything, and quite vehemently, these two men were undoubtedly united in their thinking about the importance of keeping the union intact.

Webster closed his argument thusly:

I have not allowed myself, Sir, to look beyond the Union, to see what might lie hidden in the dark recess behind. I have not coolly weighed the chances of preserving liberty when the bonds that unite us together shall be broken asunder. I have not accustomed myself to hang over the precipice of disunion, to see whether, with my short sight, I can fathom the depth of the abyss below; nor could I regard him as a safe counselor in the affairs of this government, whose thoughts should be mainly bent on considering, not how the Union may be best preserved, but how tolerable might be the condition of the people when it should be broken up and destroyed. While the Union lasts, we have high, exciting, gratifying prospects spread out before us and our children. Beyond that I seek not to penetrate the veil. God grant that in my day, at least, that curtain may not rise! God grant that on my vision never may be opened what lies behind! When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original lustre, not a stripe erased or polluteddd, not a single star obscured, bearing for its motto, no such miserable interrogatory as “What is all this worth?” nor those other words of delusion and folly, “Liberty first and Union afterwards”; but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, placing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart, – Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!





Slipping Quietly into the Night

11 01 2009

Some of my life has very definitively revolved around certain people or activities.   One of my friends and I were pretty inseparable throughout most of my adolescence, while a lot of my free time was marked by reading or sports.  While a lot of that has changed (owing mostly to spatial difficulties) in the last few years, I have lately encountered a few dying friendships that have saddened me.  Certainly, one cannot sustain old relationships without hard work and invested time, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Thankfully, I’ve found a wonderful cache of Geoff Moore to keep my melancholy musings mellifluously motoring for the forseeable future.

I hate losing people.  As some of my relationships over the years have slipped away, I have sometime felt thankful and sometimes felt guilty; occasionally, I have felt angry at that person for letting our relationship die.  In the last few weeks, I have decided to do what I can to leave the door open for some friends, whether it be a phone call, an email, or a quick visit when I happen to be in their neck of the woods.  This has involved some or no effort on my part at times; it has been frustratingly costly at others.

Back when I was looking at leaving for college, I foresaw myself with a completely new set of friends after I graduated, something like a changing cast of characters in a progressing show about growing up or something.  Now, though, I really regret the effort I have failed to expend in so many things…people are one of those, but just one.  In a weird sort of way, I’ve begun to see a sort of attraction in transitioning to a life of my own making.  My reputation at work is solely built upon what I write and say to those around me; my reputation around new friends is what they see much more than they hear.  (Gossip, thankfully, is a bit less pervasive in the post-college life. Sorry girls.)

Life is rich, and opportunities are plentiful.  I can’t change what I murphed up, but I can play NHL 2002.  I mean, move on.

But really, I’m mostly enjoying my own discovery of what it’s all about.





The House of Broken Dreams

29 12 2008

During my first semester of my senior year, eight (later seven, thanks to DBA) of us lived in an ill-fated house in Fullerton that was later given its appropriate name by Micah: The House of Broken Dreams.  While the major catastrophic events have been well-chronicled, I still find myself wondering how we ever made it out of there…  Then I remember that we were kicked out by a landlord in danger of having her house repossessed, and I don’t wonder any more. We spent New Year’s Eve (and a day or two on both ends of that) staying up all night to clean and  pack and truck stuff over to the new place that remains fittingly unnamed to this day.

While there aren’t exactly a plethora of great memories to choose from when it comes to that place, I have easily chosen a favorite.  Perhaps it belies my consuming disdain for the proprietor of our house for those brief six months, but I have no choice but to share it:  It was, I believe, November.  On the morning of a sunny fall Monday, we heard a knock at the door.  As was our custom, a couple of us gathered around the door to greet what could only be a friend, surprising us with some unexpected gifts.  Instead, we were met by a squat, greasy man in a suit.  When greeted, he hurriedly began to enumerate the reasons that we needed to let him talk to the owner of the house.  We finally cut him off to say that we had been having trouble contacting her as well, but we could give her a message.  He then said that she had not been answering her phone, and that it was a very urgent matter about some dealings with the bank.  Responding to his stern warning with plaintive pleas of ignorance as to her whereabouts, Mr. Bank T. Squat was then ushered by our doorstep by the cacophonous cries of five college students who had just met a fellow victim of our mutual acquaintance’s incompetence.  Later on, it became clear to us that we had merely reaffirmed his concept of Imelda as a bumbling and foolish person; our plight meant less than nothing to this Fullterton financeer.  (alliteration virus quarantined)

Perhaps it’s not the most dramatic tale of woe to take hold upon your screen, but I do hope I have at least half-decently expressed my feelings of sardonic exuberance upon finding out that our deadbeat landlord was on the run from collection officers.  I mean, shoot man, we were half-sure that we were gonna wind up owning the place after that morning…

If we hadn’t met Brian (lawsuit indefinitely forestalled at this time) so soon afterwards, I surely would have hung Imelda’s sister’s business card (another great* story) at the head of the pantheon of heroic landlords by this time.  Instead, we were soon to encounter the inimitably maladroit stylings of Brian G., at your service.

Also, Boomers is like a rotting corpse containing rotting fruit fly corpses now.  Seriosuly, this place (which drove me to tears on a long-forgotten Saturday afternoon) now makes the Camelot off of the 57 look like the land o’ milk and honey.  Good thing I’ve served my 40 years.

*Definition pending