Sammy the Seal

Archive for the ‘words, words, words’ Category

Back to school

In words, words, words on Thursday, 3 November, 2011 at 0:39

baking books

At least it feels like it. I just got these Tuesday, and upon starting the science book (on the right), I felt like I was reading for class– lots of details and technical information, which meant slow reading and re-reading. It’s laid out like a textbook, with quiz and discussion questions at the end of each chapter, so it’s likely a textbook at some schools or institutes somewhere. If so, it’s come in handy should I ever go to school for this stuff, one less book to buy and all. The one on the left has more technique and general recipes, with little bits of knowledge thrown in. And it’s a fancy hardback with glossy pages and photos. I should be more excited, I finally have a cookbook and general knowledge resources! Hopefully this means less scouring online for recipes. Instead I could have a basic recipe for something, then expand on it. Create more, borrow less. With science text to advise me on what is and isn’t possible.

I shouldn’t too get ahead of myself, I certainly don’t expect immediate results in the kitchen. I kinda have to finish both books first, and even then. Hey, it’s only 850 pages.

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Somnambulation?

In words, words, words on Friday, 28 October, 2011 at 11:38

Completely trivial, yet very confounding. First, for the second night in a row, I remember what I dreamed, no lucidity though. I recall being in college again (I’m not sure how, but maybe it was Utah) and being ten minutes late for pre-calculus (if there was ever a giveaway on a dream). The professor had an unconventional teaching style, then my cat appeared, but with all white fur. It didn’t look pretty, the professor agreed.

The mysterious part is how I woke up. All the lights and appliances were off, and I was in the living room. I have a hard time believing that I extinguished everything before passing out. And it wasn’t a nap, it was bedtime. It was a full night’s sleep. The remote controls were not close, so I must have switched them all off by hand. All the lights were off, t.v. screen dark, no DVD menu on repeat– that’s what’s the hardest to believe. I don’t remember lying down in total darkness. Why wouldn’t I go to my bed? I thought perhaps the power had gone out, but the clocks were fine and all switches were in off position. Perhaps I was conscious and don’t remember, or perhaps I was half-asleep. I can, after all, turn off alarms without waking, which is why I put them across the room. I checked the locks on my doors to see if someone had come in during the night to do it for me, but they were locked. Maybe I was just that tired, it’s a possibility. Now, if my teeth had been brushed and the dishes done, I’d really be losing it.

Maybe my cat did it.

Keys to semi-lucid dreaming

In experience, words, words, words on Thursday, 27 October, 2011 at 3:52

How can you verify that you are dreaming? Current events, or, more specifically, current sporting events. It is rare that I am up past 3am due not to having stayed up, but having slept. I fell asleep shortly after dinner (thank goodness I remembered to put the food away!), and here I am eight hours later, though it was actually a struggle to rouse myself, being still exhausted. The call of the shower and the prospect of cleanliness vs. stink got me through.

So anyway, lots of dreaming last night, involving co-workers and family, details which I remember well but can’t describe, but as usual, a storyline and context I didn’t have much of a grip on. One definite detail of my dreaming misadventures was the death of my brother and oldest sister. One dream was bleeding into the next, adjacent locations that don’t match, people that don’t belong in certain places (like south Texas), and suddenly I found myself at the church I went to when I lived at home, which is when I found out about the deaths. It was like a normal church day, then I suddenly stumbled upon a line/procession of people in black, against a wall. Of course I was shocked and saddened, but shortly afterwards figured something was not right. (At one brief period of my life, I was good at recognizing dreams, but not so much anymore.)

In retrospect, there was something fishy about driving to the graves, which I’ll explain later, but, and here’s the key to semi-lucid dreaming, I used as my litmus test sports. (It was weird, like in a film or show containing time travel where someone asks what year it is and everyone else humors them but thinks they’re crazy.) Upon expressing my skepticism of this reality to my dad, I asked my dad what major sporting event was going on, the correct answer being, of course, The World Series. I want to say he almost mentioned something about basketball, but instead asked me something like, “well, which one is it where you’re from?” I think the dream ended shortly thereafter, as I don’t remember much else. I didn’t get to solve it, but at least my dad didn’t treat me like a complete loon.

Other details that aroused suspicion, or should have:
1) This one is the weaker of the two, but when I learned what was going on was at the wake (though it could have just been the services, I’m not too sure), which happened before my dad and I drove out to the cemetery. However, it could have just been the services, I’m not too sure.
2) This one I feel dumb for not catching, but when you’re shocked and stricken by grief, you’re not always aware of things. I mentioned earlier how I found a line of people in black and church, of whom my family was a part? That’s when I found about my brother and sister. It would seem no one had mentioned it to me until then, and I’m pretty sure my family likes me.

I remember growing up loving baseball, even though neither Texas team had ever amounted to much then. Even when I was grown, I remember Texas getting stomped by New York during their occasional playoff years. (Admittedly, I was more an Astros fan as a kid. I was a bit incredulous in 2005, though I should have been more happy for them then. Maybe it’s because they got stomped so quickly, I didn’t really have a chance to be.) From decades of being nobodies, to two pennants in a row. One game from finally winning it all. The Rangers, really? Good luck tonight, guys.

Soup and fashion

In delicious, words, words, words on Saturday, 15 October, 2011 at 23:59

It’s been autumn for almost a month now, but now that’s it’s cooling down (and quickly, I might add) I am reminded of two wonderful things about autumn:

1) As the weather cools, we humans are required (upon penalty of death/hypothermia) to wear more clothes, which means dressing up more/more fashion opportunities and options. Not that I wear shorts and sandals much anyway, but I say yawn to summer clothes. Unless you’re female, in which case you always have the best options, even in summer, and more power to you. Oh yeah, wink, wink!

2) It’s soup’s time to shine. So simple, and so satisfying and comforting. Nothing like some hot soup in the evening when the temperature drops. Earlier this week I made a gallon, giving me something quick and soothing for dinner every day. All it takes is some broth, chicken (boiled, saving the water for stock), olive oil, rosemary, thyme, salt, carrot, garlic, celery (leaves too– rather than pluck and toss away, save, hack up, and toss them in too), tomato, potato, and corn (added at the very end). Lots of ingredients, yes, but it makes for chunky soup, which is the best kind. Chop everything up, dump it in the pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for about three hours.  Healthy, hearty, and it warms you up good? What’s not to love? Ahhhh…..

“It comes straight from the heart”

In music videos, vinyl, words, words, words on Monday, 5 September, 2011 at 17:06


Song: When I Get Back
Artist: Handsome Furs
Album: Sound Kapital

An appropriate line, coming from these two. Have a gander at their tumblr posts— it can get almost warm and fuzzy, actually. It would appear that wife Alexei writes at least most of them. In one, the author says they’re part Hispanic… I’m pretty sure that’s not Dan. So, brown blood, eh? Hell yeah. (She is kinda tan, silly me…) They were certainly like that at the Block Party, all grateful and stuff. It was cute. Like they haven’t been making music for years. But it’s almost time for the real show, yay! Obviously, seeing a band at a festival is way different than in a club, I just hope I don’t set up too many expectations. Reading those posts doesn’t help, especially the one about Austin.

(Warning: tangent approaching. I don’t go to too many shows in general, but reading it reminded me that, in my admittedly limited experience, there is a noticeable difference in crowd response at shows between north and south. It must be the southern hospitality thing, as I just remember crowds in Austin (disclaimer: I’m from TX, so that, for me, is the South) being more responsive and appreciative. In general, people are warmer and more open down south, that’s just their style. I’m not hating, but I have lived down there 22 years and 10 up here. It’s objective. I still remember the opening band (The Bicycles) for a show I went to (uh, Boy Least Likely To, cringe) while living in the NW the first go-round, and the lead singer’s real frustration after their set over the muted, non-existent response of the audience. (I paraphrase, but it was something like “I thought Seattle was supportive of the live music scene…”) And I completely agreed with him. They were energetic and I enjoyed them– I even bought a shirt, it had a big “B” on it, and my last name starts with “B”– but just showing up doesn’t equal support. It’s merely fulfilling one’s hipster/indie obligations. More often than not, I leave shows here satisfied, but during and after I find myself thinking it could be more fun if the audience had had more fucking enthusiasm, and consequently feeling a little bad for the band. Except for when a band’s style and M.O. was more subdued, that was rarely a problem in Austin. I remember leaving shows in Austin sweaty, dehydrated, and satisfied. Anyway, reading that post made me miss the music crowds down there. I hope we– the Handsome Furs crowd– put in a good showing this Saturday. Fire attracts/begets fire, so I certainly hope that holds true. Tangent over.)

I remember my initial reaction of how the vocals on this album sounded subdued or less urgent in comparison to their past work, which I still sort of stand by, but the melody is pretty accessible, and the vocals are eminently belt-worthy. Somehow I missed this one, even though it’s batting leadoff.

It’s weird to see Dan in this 80s-style jacket, ha ha. The quality is a little rough on this video, but that’s why I picked it. Who wants perfect fidelity, anyway? High fidelity is overrated too, for that matter.. Thanks once again for the documentary footage, Eastern Europe.

The Fully Realized Man

In words, words, words on Thursday, 1 September, 2011 at 22:17

Here is the George Carlin interview with Salon.com I referenced in the last post, though here I am only excerpting the part about his willful dissociation from humanity. I recommend the entire interview because it adds more context and perspective. I find it interesting not just because I agree or can empathize with many of his points, but because of its candor, especially in today’s hyper-sensitive, appease-me-and-must-not-offend-anyone-nor-be-truthful culture. Here is his response after the interviewer asked him about his increasingly grumpy disposition over the years:

“….I don’t live angrily. I don’t live with hate. I don’t have any grudges in life. I’ve never held grudges. I’ve never had resentment. I see people who have that and I think, “What a waste of time.” I’ve really never been in a fight… And I don’t lose my temper. I mean, I can get irritated, I can get mad and angry about something, which is a good, healthy thing, I guess, but no. Anyone who’s been around me for five minutes or five years would have to say that I’m pretty even-tempered, and I’m pretty open with strangers and fans and stuff.

The closest I can get to that [anger] is to say that, at some point there leading into the ’90s, I divorced myself from any stake in the human adventure or the American adventure. That sounds kind of pompous so let me just break that down. What I decided was that I didn’t give a fuck about what happens on this planet to these people. I mean, I see the nice things in people, I see the good things, but I also see what a depraved, sick species we are, the only species that kills its own for personal gain.

I’ll go back to square one on this: We squandered a lot of gifts. Human beings were given a lot of great gifts. We were given the ability to reason, this extra-large brain, walking erect, having binocular vision and the opposable thumb, and all of these things, and we had such promise, but we squandered it on goods and superstition. We gave ourselves over to the high priests and the traders, and they are the ones we allow to control us. I think that’s a huge mistake and it’s disappointing to me. Now, the corollary is, America was given great gifts, this ideal form of government, this most improved form of self-government that has ever come along up until that time, and we squandered it. And once again, on the same two things: gizmos and toys and gadgets — goods, property, possessions — and also this country is far too religious for its own good.

So at some point, I drifted away from feeling any allegiance. Abraham Maslow the psychologist once said, “The fully realized man does not identify with the local group.” Boy, when I read that, I said, that’s me. I don’t identify with city, state, government, religion, association, county, organization or species, even. And what I realized was that this feeling of alienation from all that gave me a kind of emotional detachment that was very valuable artistically. To be able to look at things and not give a fuck. To not have a rooting interest in the outcome. I don’t really care what happens in this country. I’ll be honest with you. I don’t give a fuck what happens. I don’t give a fuck what happens to this earth, because it’s all temporal and it’s all bullshit.

…I don’t feel cynical — I feel more like a skeptic and a realist — but, if cynical I am, they have said that if you scratch a cynic you’ll find a disappointed idealist. And that’s a fact. I’m sure that flame flickers.”

I’d say that’s an unpopular set of opinions. If you said that to the average person, even in context, they’d likely think you’re mean-spirited or soulless. Never mind that when the interviewer surmises, “So you’re really just protecting yourself emotionally from caring about a country and a world that’s falling to pieces,” George freely admits, “That’s fine. I can’t help it! I’m human.”

Anyway, that’s all for Day of Cynicism. Hope you enjoyed it.

Rascality

In words, words, words on Thursday, 1 September, 2011 at 14:08

So I was looking for the H.L. Mencken quote that goes like this: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.” I love that one. In the course of trying to find the exact words, I found some of his other writing on the subject of democracy. A link is here, but if it ever dies, apparently it goes by the title “Last Words”, which has nothing to do with his lifespan, as it was written thirty years before his death. As an idealist, I find it disturbing, but as a cynic/realist, I find it engaging, sadly. It actually reminds me of George Carlin, in one of his last interviews, I believe, talking about his conscious disengagement and dissociation from the human race some years back. Reading this makes me feel like that. Oh well. “Enjoy”!

“I have alluded somewhat vaguely to the merits of democracy. One of them is quite obvious: it is, perhaps, the most charming form of government ever devised by man. The reason is not far to seek. It is based upon propositions that are palpably not true and what is not true, as everyone knows, is always immensely more fascinating and satisfying to the vast majority of men than what is true. Truth has a harshness that alarms them, and an air of finality that collides with their incurable romanticism. They turn, in all the great emergencies of life, to the ancient promises, transparently false but immensely comforting, and of all those ancient promises there is none more comforting than the one to the effect that the lowly shall inherit the earth. It is at the bottom of the dominant religious system of the modern world, and it is at the bottom of the dominant political system. The latter, which is democracy, gives it an even higher credit and authority than the former, which is Christianity. More, democracy gives it a certain appearance of objective and demonstrable truth. The mob man, functioning as citizen, gets a feeling that he is really important to the world – that he is genuinely running things. Out of his maudlin herding after rogues and mountebanks there comes to him a sense of vast and mysterious power—which is what makes archbishops, police sergeants, the grand goblins of the Ku Klux and other such magnificoes happy. And out of it there comes, too, a conviction that he is somehow wise, that his views are taken seriously by his betters – which is what makes United States Senators, fortune tellers and Young Intellectuals happy. Finally, there comes out of it a glowing consciousness of a high duty triumphantly done which is what makes hangmen and husbands happy.

All these forms of happiness, of course, are illusory. They don’t last. The democrat, leaping into the air to flap his wings and praise God, is for ever coming down with a thump. The seeds of his disaster, as I have shown, lie in his own stupidity: he can never get rid of the naive delusion – so beautifully Christian – that happiness is something to be got by taking it away from the other fellow. But there are seeds, too, in the very nature of things: a promise, after all, is only a promise, even when it is supported by divine revelation, and the chances against its fulfillment may be put into a depressing mathematical formula. Here the irony that lies under all human aspiration shows itself: the quest for happiness, as always, brings only unhappiness in the end. But saying that is merely saying that the true charm of democracy is not for the democrat but for the spectator. That spectator, it seems to me, is favoured with a show of the first cut and calibre. Try to imagine anything more heroically absurd! What grotesque false pretenses! What a parade of obvious imbecilities! What a welter of fraud! But is fraud unamusing? Then I retire forthwith as a psychologist. The fraud of democracy, I contend, is more amusing than any other, more amusing even, and by miles, than the fraud of religion. Go into your praying-chamber and give sober thought to any of the more characteristic democratic inventions: say, Law Enforcement. Or to any of the typical democratic prophets: say, the late Archangel Bryan. If you don’t come out paled and palsied by mirth then you will not laugh on the Last Day itself, when Presbyterians step out of the grave like chicks from the egg, and wings blossom from their scapulae, and they leap into interstellar space with roars of joy.

I have spoken hitherto of the possibility that democracy may be a self-limiting disease, like measles. It is, perhaps, something more: it is self-devouring. One cannot observe it objectively without being impressed by its curious distrust of itself—its apparently ineradicable tendency to abandon its whole philosophy at the first sign of strain. I need not point to what happens invariably in democratic states when the national safety is menaced. All the great tribunes of democracy, on such occasions, convert themselves, by a process as simple as taking a deep breath, into despots of an almost fabulous ferocity. Lincoln, Roosevelt and Wilson come instantly to mind: Jackson and Cleveland are in the background, waiting to be recalled. Nor is this process confined to times of alarm and terror: it is going on day in and day out. Democracy always seems bent upon killing the thing it theoretically loves. I have rehearsed some of its operations against liberty, the very cornerstone of its political metaphysic. It not only wars upon the thing itself; it even wars upon mere academic advocacy of it. I offer the spectacle of Americans jailed for reading the Bill of Rights as perhaps the most gaudily humorous ever witnessed in the modern world. Try to imagine monarchy jailing subjects for maintaining the divine right of Kings! Or Christianity damning a believer for arguing that Jesus Christ was the Son of God! This last, perhaps, has been done: anything is possible in that direction. But under democracy the remotest and most fantastic possibility is a common-place of every day. All the axioms resolve themselves into thundering paradoxes, many amounting to downright contradictions in terms. The mob is competent to rule the rest of us—but it must be rigorously policed itself. There is a government, not of men, but of laws – but men are set upon benches to decide finally what the law is and may be. The highest function of the citizen is to serve the state – but the first assumption that meets him, when he essays to discharge it, is an assumption of his disingenuousness and dishonour. Is that assumption commonly sound? Then the farce only grows the more glorious.

I confess, for my part, that it greatly delights me. I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing. Does it exalt dunderheads, cowards, trimmers, frauds, cads? Then the pain of seeing them go up is balanced and obliterated by the joy of seeing them come down. Is it inordinately wasteful, extravagant, dishonest? Then so is every other form of government: all alike are enemies to laborious and virtuous men. Is rascality at the very heart of it? Well, we have borne that rascality since 1776, and continue to survive. In the long run, it may turn out that rascality is necessary to human government, and even to civilization itself – that civilization, at bottom, is nothing but a colossal swindle. I do not know: I report only that when the suckers are running well the spectacle is infinitely exhilarating. But I am, it may be, a somewhat malicious man: my sympathies, when it comes to suckers, tend to be coy. What I can’t make out is how any man can believe in democracy who feels for and with them, and is pained when they are debauched and made a show of. How can any man be a democrat who is sincerely a democrat?”

Ninety percent of the time

In words, words, words on Tuesday, 9 August, 2011 at 23:52

An interesting passage I read today (it’s referencing government):

“It’s a odd thing when you come to think about it. The opportunities for abuse are everwhere…. You think about a job where you have pretty much the same authority as God and there is no requirements put upon you and you are charged with preservin nonexistent laws and you tell me if that’s peculiar or not…. Does it work? Yes. Ninety percent of the time. It takes very little to govern good people. Very little. And bad people cant be governed at all. Or if they could I never heard of it.”

Quaint notion, isn’t it? No country, indeed.

Pay to play

In vinyl, words, words, words on Saturday, 2 April, 2011 at 2:11

Coming soon: streaming audio. I finally researched posting music here. I think I’m going to pony up $20/yr for a space upgrade, which would allow me to upload music to a WordPress-hosted .mp3-player. It’s not expensive, and I’d have 8G of space, which, by my superior math skills, would take me about four years to use, and that’s posting at a rate of a song a day. I know it doesn’t seem worth it with my, um, “readership”, but linking to youtube “videos” (which usually means a still graphic with a song over it) is lazy and tacky. (Let’s class it up!) Joining Soundcloud is a no-go, as the free portion only allows two hours of audio upload, and after that, the cost jumps up over $30/year, for four hours, which is only about 50 songs, plus the redundancy of uploading then embedding back into my blog. (It looks like it’s more for musicians, anyhow.) I could embed others’ music, but, as is the case now, I’d be limited to what other people have uploaded, and I’m tired of searching for stuff when I actually have it myself. I think we’re just used to getting fucking EVERYTHING for free in the digital age. $20. Big whoop. As in life, I don’t like to have to rely on others. I wouldn’t have to worry about if something is deleted on the host site, the music should be up as long as my blog is.

So from this point forward, audio will stream directly from the blog, as opposed to from youtube, unless it’s a song I don’t have. I might even retroactively upload for the past couple of months, it ought’nt take but a couple of hours.

But, seeing as it’s 2am, I’ll do it tomorrow.

“Let me be loved”

In music videos, vinyl, words, words, words on Tuesday, 1 March, 2011 at 1:32


Song: More Adventurous
Artist: Rilo Kiley
Album: More Adventurous

I have a strange relationship  with this band. From the first few listens of their preceding album, The Execution Of All Things, I immediately felt a very strong sense of nostalgia, like this music was an old friend. Thing is, the music was released in 2002 and I only bought it last year. While attending the Austin City Limits music festival in 2005, I remember actually catching part of their set while waiting for another show, as I had heard at least the single for More Adventurous, “Portions For Foxes”, which is still quite good. Jenny was wearing a blue and yellow dress, and I actually do remember hearing “More Adventurous” even back then. (A line like “with every broken heart, we should become more adventurous” makes an impression on a photographic memory, even after just one utterance.) Why did it take me another five years to sit down and listen to them? No idea, though it’s probably the same reason it took me four years to get into Asobi Seksu even though I had heard the wonder of “Thursday” almost four years prior.

This here song is just the right amount of sweetness without getting maudlin, though it does come dangerously close. Between the sound and the lyrics, it should be cutesy and “aww” but comes out quite soulful. Lines like:

“I read with every broken heart, we should be more adventurous”
“I’d sacrifice money and heaven all for love– let me be loved”
“For me to saved and you to be brave we don’t have to walk down that aisle, ’cause if marriage ain’t enough, well, at least we’ll be loved”
“Get loved, make more, try to stay alive”

I’d normally find suspect. Cheap sentimental lyricism pisses me off. I feel it’s there to enable those with a teenage girl mentality to perpetuate unrealistic ideals and provide fodder for their diaries, and it’s usually proffered by tenors or sopranos. (Singing in a higher register sincerity, people.) Yet behind Jenny’s alto 🙂  I hear a real longing in those words. You can hear that through the crap we all go through, she, to paraphrase Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo) in Moulin Rouge, still longs for it with every fiber of her being. Like she really would sacrifice everything for love, or that love is really enough, and we don’t need all the pomp, ceremony, and idealistic accoutrements that are sold to us. The simplicity of the last quote is all you need to know.