Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category



March 2, 2009



Favorite Classes

June 15, 2008

I am now officially done with high school. I have taken a grand total of 32 classes plus a couple doubles through the years (gym and orchestra). Some of these classes have been very good, and some of them have been very bad. I want to take some time to talk about my favorite classes from high school. I could never have the time or will to talk about all the good ones. Every year I had at least one or two classes that I liked, but classes that I loved were rare treasures. I could also talk about classes I hated, but I’m not here to do any bashing. That isn’t right. I won’t remember the classes I hated. I will remember the classes I loved. All of these classes seem to be in the area of English and Social Studies. Science has never been my forte, although I have had some decent teachers, and Math is something I am marginally good at but can never really get myself to be inspired by. Hopefully in a year all of my classes will be as excellent as these select few.

From Freshman year through Junior year, I was in Orchestra every day, fourth hour, conducted by Mr. S. There are two Orchestras in the school, the lower Strings Orchestra and the higher Chamber Orchestra. I never made it into Chamber Orchestra, but then again I never tried out. I guess I knew I could not have been good enough, and lacked the willpower to do anything about it. For a long time, there was some kind of resentment towards the Chamber Orchestra, probably to mask jealousy or insecurity. Despite my hidden anxiety, fourth hour was always a period I looked forward to. All respects to Mr. S, the class was not really about the teaching. It was about the music. Picking up my violin every day and letting my fingers do the work that they were so good at while my mind wandered was one of the only things that could really lift any anxiety I had, and I almost always had anxiety. The Strings Orchestra played myriad music, of more variety but lesser difficulty than the Chamber Orchestra. The Chamber almost always showed us up at concerts, besides once or twice when the Strings played marvelously on interesting songs while the Chamber unluckily got stuck with some more boring pieces. It was not about competition. It was about making music with your hands. By the time I left Orchestra Senior year to take AP Music Theory, I had spent half of my life playing the Violin. I made friends I’ll never lose and stimulated myself artistically to a degree that I doubt I will ever achieve again. Although the violin is not my passion, it is a part of myself I will never be able to remove.

The first truly great class I encountered that was in the vein of a traditional curriculum was my AP US History class with Mr. R Sophomore year. In many ways, looking back on that class is to me like viewing my ideal of what a High School social studies class should have been. Everyone needs to take US History and pass the Constitution test, but I felt like US History was less of a requirement and more of a privelage. Yes, I had my typical problems of motivation that prevented me from working to my full potential. There will always be worksheets I am too lazy to do, pages I am too lazy to read, and tests I am too lazy to study for. But I was always more motivated to work, read, and study for US History than any other class. This was due almost completely to Mr. R, who is nothing short of a brilliant teacher. The man could be a speech writer for christ’s sake. He stood in front of the class every day and delivered lectures that I will always remember for their passion, and the way he led class involvement was through full class and small group discussions about whatever issue in US History we were covering. His delivery was concise. This is what happened, these are the factors and questions we need to consider, let’s have a discussion. My notes for that class are defining of my personality. A tornado of notes, footnotes, drawings, thoughts, and feelings. I’ll remember US History not just for Mr. R, who might be my favorite High School teacher, but for how it felt like genuinely the first class in higher level education, as most everything in the previous year was BS.

Another class that I took sophomore year that I believe was a real higher level class was Debate with Mr. D. Every sophomore follows the same sophomore English program. For one semester, a sophomore takes a standard English class where literature is studied by varying curriculum. The other semester requires that the student take either a speech or debate class. I chose Debate, and I found myself sitting in Mr. D’s room. Mr. D is a man I will never forget…With the towering appearance of perhaps a lumberjack, or as he put it, Hagrid, he was a man of presence. When Mr. D talks, you listen. Debate was a lot of work. I’ll remember how silent the class always was when we were not actually debating, and then how each presentation lit the room on fire for just a few seconds only to have the flames die down again. It was not a fun class to do work for. There was a lot of paperwork, but there was also a lot of group work. We were forced to work together in studying difficult issues and learned how to create coherent arguments about any given topic, on either side. Mr. D is an extremely leftist individual, but surprisingly enough, he was able to keep his opinions balanced. I will never forget his speeches on gun control, wellfare, taxes, war and countless other issues. I will also never forget going up on stage, desperate for points, after the school macho man who had just made an extremely organized speech on something or other, and receiving a massive amount of points simply for stating my opinion and how it was in conflict with his. It taught me that just being there and speaking out really means something. This class more than achieved its goals.

In Junior year, I once again had Mr. R for a social studies class, this time Sociology. I confess, the only reason I signed up for Sociology was because I wanted to have Mr. R again. Luckily, Sociology was just as rewarding of a class as US History. I knew by Junior year that I was interested in pursuing Psychology in college. However, I had not yet taken a psychology class. I was hoping to take one over the summer before Junior year, but an irreconcilable road trip to Washington D.C. got in the way, and by the time class registration rolled about, there was no way to switch to Psychology from any other class. In Sociology, I was one of three Juniors in a class of Seniors. I felt somewhat like an outsider. However, the work and learning was still there. This was a good introduction to psychology because it worked with possibly the most applicable school of psychology right off the bat. It was a study of how societies and cultures worked, and also about specific societies and cultures, and their characteristics such as norms, linguistics, and taboos. The three Juniors were not outsiders in practice…We participated in class discussions that Mr. R was so wonderful at setting up. But in spirit, we were observers, which was probably the best thing we could have asked for. It seems like implausible irony, but the Seniors were in constant conflict and there was always some kind of drama within the class. The class was not a microcosm to aid our study, but I did feel like it was an exploration in social psychology that helped me appreciate Sociology much more. Particularly memorable was a discussion on class conflict that brought an individual to tears. Possibly the height of my social studies experience in high school.

The Junior English curriculum also allows for some options. In fact, now that I think about it, the English department might allow more options than any other department in the building, save perhaps Social Studies which matches its versatility. One could opt to take a Junior English class known as Interrelated Arts which was a study of just about every kind of contemporary art form, taking advantage of the great city of Chicago for lots of the studying. I however opted to take Junior English Honors, and I ended up with Mrs. R (no relation to Mr. R). It was not completely obvious to me right away that the class was as great as it really was. I disliked a considerable portion of the class…There was a row of about five people that did not seem to be able to quiet themselves and always drew unnecessary attention and distracted from the class. Mrs R was late to grade many papers and at first came off as irresponsible, which is an assumption that I now cringe to think about making. The truth of it was that Mrs. R was a full time mother of two as well as a full time teacher, so she had more than a full day of work to deal with within any 24 hour block of time. My other English classes before then, save Debate, were aimed toward the studies of classic works, some of which were enjoyable and some of which not so much. Yeah, I enjoyed reading The Lord of the Flies in Freshman year, but beyond that, none of the readings in High School had truly inspired me until Junior English. We studied myriad short stories of both the romantic movement and the realism movement. This alone was a breakthrough for my learning. I never really knew what it meant to be romantic or realistic in literature before then, so it was wonderful to be able to learn one of modern literature’s most important concepts straightaway. We also read the wonderful book The Great Gatsby, a fantastic combination of romanticism and realism, Hamlet, and The Scarlett Letter. Admittedly, I hated reading the Scarlett Letter save the odd chapter that would inspire me (A Flood of Sunshine makes no sense in the course of the book, at least in terms of its brilliance compared to the inconsistency of the rest of the book), but I learned a lot from reading it about myself and my tastes. Also very memorable was our experience with a Kindergarten class in the district, in which all of us found pen pals. Every few weeks, we would receive and write letters to our pen pals who were learning to read at the time. The act of discussing things with them was part of their reading and writing education, and by the end of the year, I definitely saw improvement in my pen pal, and was very happy to visit him and the rest of his class. I had never really experienced teaching firsthand before then. It gave me a good idea of what it really means to teach, and made me consider how different teaching Kindergarten and High School must be. An infinitely rewarding class despite its shortcomings.

By the time I took Psychology in Senior year, I had already decided I wanted to be a Psychology major. Maybe it was due to the fact that I was just starting to figure out how my brain worked that made me interested in psychology. It just seemed like such a basic, important study to me… The study of people. Taking Sociology the previous year only encouraged my interest. Lucky for me, my first Psychology class was perfect to start me off in the subject. The class was taught by Mr. G, a smart, fast thinking, smooth talking teacher who seemed to have captured the hearts of many of my female friends at the time. He was not fluff. His teaching style worked because everyone listened to him. Yes, there was a fair share of psychology videos, and nothing substitutes for reading the book thoroughly, but Mr. G always did the best he could to explain the main concepts as best as he could within class time and was always available to go in depth if we needed him to. I also loved the multitude of projects we were assigned within the semester. I loved the development project we partook in which made us explore our own development in particular. And I’ll never forget my own involvement in the teaching of classical conditioning…I was seated in front of the entire class. Mr. G read off a list of words. Whenever he said the word “can,” I was squirted in the eye with water from a spray bottle. I guarantee I will never forget the principles of classical conditioning. But I think what really made Psychology fun and memorable for me was the subject itself. I love Psychology, and learning the subject from the ground up was very rewarding.

The English department at my High School pulls something new out of it’s sleeves every year after the relatively standard Freshman English program. Sophomore year requires a Speech or Debate class. Junior year offers Interrelated Arts. But Senior year is the trump card, offering myriad options including Logic and Rhetoric, Creative Writing, Religious Quest, and my second semester choice, Film Criticism. My initial thought on Film Criticism was that it would be a rewarding class for me, an amateur writer and critic already, and I would be able to spend a class period a day enjoying one of my favorite mediums of art. I changed my mind soon after. Film Criticism started to sound like a disaster. A class full of second semester Seniors with little to lose, and little reason to do anything but screw off for an entire class period a day. The catch was that Mr. D, who was also my Sophomore Debate teacher, was the teacher for Film Crit. Like Debate class, Film Criticism had a massive, inordinate amount of paperwork. Yes, for about four days a week are spent watching movies, but as a student on the honors system in the class, I was required to read around five reviews or articles on a given movie per week, write extensive notes on the current film, read from my film criticism textbook, take a test on the odd day we weren’t actually watching a film, and write a report on each film. There was simply no time to slack off in the class, and because of how the class was built, we had to pay close attention to each film. Luckily, Mr. D was brilliant at choosing films and units of films to watch. We started off watching Minority Report, a light action adventure film with some deeper meaning that can be explored. The “Future Anxiety” unit continued, getting progressively more challenging, and the films in the unit got more ideologically complex as well as cinematically exciting. Even Mr. D questioned the quality of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, but it forced us to take sides in an issue that high school seniors just don’t think about very much. We also watched Blade Runner, one of my favorite films, and Mr. D’s commentary on the films style and themes was extremely enlightening. The films only got more and more challenging. The next unit was the “Gender and Power” unit, with films ranging from the brilliant Afghani independent film Osama to the cheap thrill ride of Thelma and Louise. Then, the exhausting, brutal six film war unit, including Dr. Stangelove, Saving Private Ryan, Platoon, and Path’s of Glory. Finally clinching the year with one of the most challenging films I have ever watched, Dead Man Walking. What was most impressive about Mr. D was his unfailing ability to provide insight on every issue in frank, nonbiased way. After every film, the class would sit and have a discussion. We were usually quiet, not so much because it was nine in the morning but because we might have been speechless, and nothing we could have said could possibly have held a candle to anything Mr. D said. The big trick with Senior Film Criticism was that it was essentially a philosophy class in disguise. This was just how Mr. D operated. He drew us in with the medium of film itself, but what the class was really about was issues that we have to deal with in our modern world. He provided support for every point of view, and the passion with which he spoke about film was inspiring, and he made it clear that there was nothing he would rather be talking about than the art of film. I hope I can someday be as passionate a teacher as Mr. D, perhaps even in the same class, but realistically I don’t know if it gets much better than him.

These are my favorite classes from High School which I singled out for their educational value, and I will probably never forget them. While the majority of my High School education was sub par in comparison, they made the whole experience worth it, and I can only hope to have as rewarding classes in college. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes once it comes to it.


New Review System: Requests

May 28, 2008

School is now over for me, at least for the Summer until I ship off, and I have some more time on my hands. Time to read, clean, work, and write. The writing part hasn’t been happening as much as it used to. Not that this is a bad thing, but I usually find that I am simply not as motivated to write, and when I do, it is less fulfilling.

I have a theory. We are going to have you decide what I review. The following link is where a vast majority of my music collection is logged. is a very handy tool. It allows me to log what is in my collection, organize everything by facts such as year released, artist, and my own personal rating, post my reviews of albums, and label everything by my own tags. The pages are very navigable. From the preceding link, you can see everything that I have reviewed in high regard, low regard, everything in the middle, things I have not yet rated, things that are on my wishlist, etc. I have some specific tags as well, such as Shoegaze, Metal, Ambient, Soundtrack, and much more. My most used tag is “Reviewed.” I use this tag to label albums that I have already reviewed.

What I ask is that you visit that link, find an album you want me to review that is not tagged as “reviewed,” and email the album title to me at I would suggest doing this by clicking on the “Ratings” tab underneath my ratings descriptions. You can view all of my ratings by clicking the blue large number next to the word “Ratings.” In doing this, you can organize all of the albums by various criteria such as name, artist, and release date. Or you can click on a specific rating (.5-5.0 stars) underneath that, so that you can see all of the albums I have assigned to a given rating. That makes it easier to see albums I really like or really dislike.

I will also accept requests for unrated albums, which are essentially albums I have not yet listened to at great length and cannot form an opinion on yet. Do not request anything on my wishlist.

I can’t promise I will get around to every request, but I will try. Some reviews will be full, some brief. I don’t really know how big of a response I am going to get for this. We shall see. In the meantime, send the requests my way and I’ll try to make it work. Thank you!



May 8, 2008

When I was a child, I used to lie in bed and cry because I would never be older than my brother Jimmy. Now I lie in bed and cry because I am.



March 24, 2008

Against a backdrop of
flowery sky
Spongebob opens the door to
his Pineapple.

“I’m ready!”
he says.

He whistles and
makes his way across the sand to
Squidward’s house.

Tanks roll across
the border
Mortars fire off bombs as
soldiers plug their ears

“Everything is going as planned.
We are taking control.”

In green night vision
missiles whiz from large trucks into
windows of buildings.
People run.

“Really, this is no problem.
A minor situation.”

She claws for the remote, which I surrender.

“In other news, Brit-“

Squidward is not amused.
He plays a
slow serenade on his clarinet to
drown out
Spongebob’s incessant voice.


Some Random Thoughts (I'm not dead yet, I promise)

August 3, 2007

Sorry for the lack of updates in the past two weeks. Not only have I been having a particularly tough time in life in general and dealing with a lot of stress related to relationships, school registration, and other various issues, but I have also been going on several college trips. I went to Boston a few weeks ago and I think I fell in love with the city. Completely beautiful, and Boston University was really cool. My trip last week to Minnesota was not very good. And now I hear that a bridge collapsed in Minneapolis killing many people. I think I drove over that bridge when I was there. I assure you death is not following me. I cannot remember ever feeling afraid about death, even once. I’ve always been able to stare it right in it’s face, as distant as it is, looming over everyones horizon. Maybe I only feel indifferent about my own death, but given the chance I would probably get into a fist fight with the grim reaper just for the hell of it. And you know what I would do? I would make him cry for his mother. Anyway, being on summer vacation has opened me up tons of time to listen to new and old music alike, and I have heard so much stuff that it would be unreasonable for me to do page long reviews on all of them. But I guess I’ll go in depth on a few right now to let you guys know I still mean business.

Oh yeah, and I think I’m going to start trying some new things around here. As much as I love doing proper, more official sounding reviews of albums, I kind of don’t think it’s really always the right medium for what I want to get out. I think a lot of times I just want to talk about albums casually, on terms with other albums and my personal experiences with them more so than give them something becoming. So that’s what I’m going to try now. At least for the time being. And I’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, lots of new music lately. In Boston I got a brand new copy of the Radiohead EP Airbag/How Am I Driving for just ten dollars, and I’m pretty sure it was the original issue. That made me happy. I also got a lightly used copy of Vespertine by Bjork for very cheap. In Minneapolis they had a few really good record stores (two stores by the name of Cheapo’s and Electric Fetus) where I bought a really cheap early Aphex Twin EP Analogue Bubblebath 4, Giant Steps by Boo Radleys, and a used copy of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92, because I needed a new copy.

Bjork – Volta
I’ll admit, I have never been too big of a fan of Bjork. I mean, I like a lot of her work, but not enough to consider myself a fan or an avid listener. I always feel like her albums are good, or sometimes even great, so I always buy just one more in the hopes that it will trump the last one I listened to. I now own four Bjork albums, and I think I was easily the most disappointed with Volta. In fact, I’d say this is the biggest disappointment of the year so far. And it’s not like I dislike Bjork, once again. Homogenic and Vespertine are both great albums that I really like a lot, and in comparison to those, Bjork has taken a creative nosedive into oblivion.

I feel like XRTs “Regaler Guy” here, because my vocabulary is somewhat limited and my tone is very blatant. But I won’t lie about this one. Volta sucks because it sucks. There isn’t any one particular reason for the mediocrity of this album besides sheer lack of creative drive or enjoyable songs. Before Volta came out, I heard Bjork perform on Saturday Night Live and I was really impressed. One thing I will give Bjork at this point is that she is still very gorgeous and her vocals have not gotten any worse since the early nineties when she first started out. Her range is really fantastic and she gets out some downright beautiful notes on stage. So with that I felt optimistic about Volta, and yet it ends up being pretty mediocre. I think it’s one of those albums that I really, really wish could have worked out because it just works so well on paper. It is a little bit themed, in that it seems to capture, or at least try to capture that atmosphere of tropical islands. To some extent, she make this apparent. The lead single Earth Intruders actually sounds very fresh with it’s jungle beat and eclectic instruments. But then when the song finally ends, it proves itself unfit for playlist inclusion and leans on the sounds of large steamboats for about a minute and a half. Either way, it’s a good start and a nice opening song.

And then the next song, Wanderlust actually sounds alright too. Bjork can get away with rather brutal sounding techno by laying her voluptuous voice over it, and the result is actually pretty good. But after that, things severely melt down. First, she does an eight minute long duet with some guy named Antony Hegarty, who is apparently fairly well known and respected, but I really dislike his lispy voice. The words are, as usual, pretty cheesy. I can’t stress enough how much I wish Bjork would sing in her native language like her fellow Icelandic compatriots Sigur Ros. And then the unbalanced vocalists sing about…some dull flame of some sort for seven minutes and it is really annoying. It’s just bad. The rest of the album is equally disappointing. I’ve always depended on Bjorks musical and vocal talent to outdo the lack of melodicism in her words, and unfortunately she just can’t pull off the musical part here. The songs Innocence and Declare Independence are both very obnoxious and uninteresting. On Hope, she tries interspersing some more exotic instruments to very mixed success. This was the idea she should have tried to bring to the forefront and stress more often, and maybe this would have worked back in her heyday when she was more poppy and less dark.

It has it’s moments. I really enjoy Pneumonia, and to some extent My Juvenile even if Antony makes a similarly mediocre comeback because the words are very lovely. But for the most part, this album is just very mediocre. I won’t go into individual detail on every song, but honestly, there is very little good material here. Bjork fans seem to like it though, so who knows. If you are a casual fan, like me I guess, you are better off going for some of the more revered Bjork albums instead, namely Homogenic and Vespertine.

Air Formation – Daylight Storms
Shoegaze is just one of those genres that I keep on getting closer and closer to admitting is total BS even if I like it a lot. It just seems like a shoegaze record that actually tries something new and succeeds only comes around once in a blue moon, and most everything in the genre is a My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, or Ride clone. What one has to realize is that sometimes these clones are actually very good. They probably won’t be very memorable in the future because they don’t try anything new or craft their own styles, but they succeed nonetheless by producing some serious beauty. It’s a very narrow genre where the fans are very devout and often disappointed, and depend on these clones to get their satisfaction. Well Daylight Storms is a pretty damn good way to distract yourself until the next great great awakening, or whatever.

So I’m sure shoegaze fans will first ask…MBV, Slowdive, or Ride? It’s Slowdive. VERY Slowdive. The vocals sound very similar to Neil Halsteads, and they pull the typical trick of blurring a random colorful image beyond recognition and sticking it on the cover as well as utilizing a beautiful sounding name. The songs are all slow, with washes of beautiful sound. Most people probably grow tired of this by now. Washes of sound? We have had this on record for years. But here it sounds good. If all a shoegaze record needs are big walls of chords, I would have signed up a long time ago. Well maybe that is really all it needs. And maybe that’s why the genre is such BS. In any case, I like this kind of music. Just crank it reeeally loud and then the beauty starts to surface when your ears are enveloped. These specific clones have always been able to avoid any melodic finesse by making their music all about big, beautiful sound, so you shouldn’t be tricked into thinking you are going to hear a catchy record. But it is a nice, quick, pretty fix for people who always wanted a true Souvlaki sequel and was disappointed that there never was one. These melodies are bittersweet like Slowdives, but this time around are probably more optimistic and full of love than Slowdive’s often brooding personality. It’s actually probably the best Slowdive clone I have heard to date, so you would be doing yourself good to pick this up if you like shoegaze and don’t mind not hearing anything new. Highlights are Daylight Storms, Into View, and Adrift.

Anyway…The window for my mind being inspired or blank enough to fill the slate is very narrow. I have not disappeared and I have not lost any will or anything. I’ve just been busy lately, that’s all. I assure you I am still around and my lapse was temporary. Expect a review of Portishead’s Dummy in a little while.



May 10, 2007

After you wake, you feel completely revitalized. Your clothes are waiting for you at the end of your bed. You quickly race down the sunlit stairway, touching every other step until the last, which you skip to get to the floor. Feet dangling, you dig through the box for the prize. You eat your Apple Jacks and give the little, quaint, Chinese novelty its two minutes. She is still tired, but she manages to get the goods into the crumpled paper bag. Your backpack sings of painted pots and the animal kingdom, in it’s twenty page entirety. She smiles at you with weary eyes, kisses you on the cheek, and helps you put your boots on. Rainy days in clouded May, she wonders if those self defense classes they wanted her to take would have really been for the better. She counts the hours until you will be home again and she can help you cut words out of magazines.



April 16, 2007

“That pleasure which is at once the most pure, the most elevating and the most intense, is derived, I maintain, from the contemplation of the beautiful.”
-Edgar Allen Poe

I spent a lot of time thinking about this quote and I think it can actually be approached at many angles. On one hand, looking at something beautiful and just being taken back is a pretty primal, simple, and basic feeling, and it is also has a lot of pureness. What moves the heart is usually immediate pleasure like love at first sight and then it’s subsequent destruction. But anyone who knows anything knows that taking love at first sight seriously is risky business. Unfortunately it almost never happens and has very little meaning, and it is barely even real. There is a difference between being romantic and being hopelessly romantic. I could go on for hours with another rant about what true love is, but I’m not quite sure I have the right to do anything like that because most of my feelings on the subject are based purely on intelligent speculation. But it seems pretty generally argued that real love isn’t about loving someone because of how they look. It is about personality and experience, and maybe that already completely turns everything people know about beauty backwards on a daily basis. In any case, I have seen some beautiful things. If only I had realized that my eyes suck before I had gone to see Niagra Falls or the flower gardens at Millenium Park. But then again, I only really realize how dull my vision is when I put on my glasses. Before I conciously realize how much more beautiful everything is with my glasses on, everything is, to me, how it should be. That is a matter of perception. I almost never wear my glasses, because they are uncomfortable and they get me all worked up about how crappy my true vision is.

Which is very interesting, actually. I had a talk in my writers workshop that spawned all of this, and at one point we got to the fact that the pictures that are extremely detailed and photorealistic are often the least beautiful. Because really, our world isn’t always so detailed and perfect. People started trying to make animation realistic a long time ago, and the idea was to be perfectly realistic. What these people didn’t realise is that people don’t want to watch movies or play games that are realistic, because that’s no fun. We are all used to realism anyway, because we are real. Making a face as detailed down to the pore as possible is working at the expense of art. When I put on my glasses, and I’m being very sincere here, I suddenly look awful in the mirror. I suddenly realize all of my pores and my small imperfections, and I therefore get disgusted. I see the dirt, the wet ground, and large rats with tiny teeth that much more clearly. Then I take them off and everything blurs and everything is suddenly just a little more beautiful, despite the lack of detail. So what beauty is real? My lying to myself when I take my glasses off, or what is really there in all of it’s glory? I’m leaning towards both having their redeeming qualities. If you meander on the details too much you are missing the point, but ignorance is not always the best way to take things in because you are lying to yourself.

This is why that culture we could not remember does their art that way. But really it happens in all good art. On a simple level, perfect things are not interesting and also not realistic, because in the natural world, things are only perfect the more you zoom out. Certain art is often portrayed in this way. There is often a very simple repeating pattern or shape that is then made to be uneven with a small imperfection. Things that are completely perfect are not enjoyable. Take a perfect circle for example. Better yet, let’s work on our own dimensions and make it a perfect sphere. Well, not perfect, because I would personally call it impossible to make something that is completely perfect down to every last quark, as far as proportion and mathematics goes. But this is a pretty smooth sphere in your hand. Let’s make it green. If someone placed this sphere on a table, it wouldn’t hold your attention for that long. It is boring. It is very smooth, but it is predictable because it is so perfect, and therefore not that interesting. The more you zoom in on it the more it opens up. The more you can see, the more little things about it are apparent and therefore have the potential to be beautiful, but also it gets more imperfect and rough and ugly. Thus is the way that large green circles exude beauty. They can, but you need to ask yourself how much detail is satisfactory and how much is enough. And then it all comes into perspective when the sphere is made out of opaque glass, and you shatter it on a wall. The way all the glass explodes out of it, now that is beauty. You spent the whole stage collecting all those rings, and now you get pissed off when you lose them all. You don’t even realize that the best part is watching them explode outwards, into what was otherwise nothingness. But it’s not always complete shattering, sometimes just a knick. And this, this is why a relationship with no conflict is not romantic at all.

Getting a little more broad here, contrast is often times what makes something truly beautiful. The first time you go out and see the ocean when you were a little kid, well, there is just nothing like that. And it is still amazing now, and watching the sun set over the water and that brilliant flash of light at the end, that is just wonderful even when you are an adult. I remember when I was a kid back when I lived in a house on Perfect St., everything was huge because I was so small. I remember twenty gorgeous, gigantic elm trees all towering about the houses and the streets and reaching up to have conversations with the stars. Now I come back that same yard in which all of the elm trees have died, and the yard is very small and dirty and not that many feet across. What I DO remember are the Ginkgo Trees, because their leaves are shaped so funny and they are so uncommon. I think that is another thing that can mean a lot to beauty, that difference in size. Astronauts say that seeing the world from space is the most beautiful thing they have ever seen. On the other hand, when someone sees a baby or a tiny animal, to realize that this tiny little thing is also alive and breathing and seeing is just crazy. Gorgeous.

I’ve spent the last few months completely enthralled by a piece of music that is less than three minutes long. Every time I hear it, it is still as fresh as the first time and I am still as blown away, and I have a hard time figuring out why. The song is Fleeting Smile by Roger Eno, brother and fellow ambient pianist of the famous Brian Eno. The song is originally off of the third installment in Brian Eno’s Music For Films series, but I got the song from a Saint’s Records compilation called Compounds + Elements. The song is very simple. It is a piano played slowly. That is it, just a piano. And the melody is relaxing, beautiful, and yearning. I feel like every time I hear it only yields more rewards, even though it seemed like I had picked the thing apart to it’s core already. First was the realization of the nearly inaudible metronome far in the background, then the subtle use of the pedals, and now I’m sort of pondering the theory behind it all. I don’t have a piano to go up to and try it now, and I’m not music theory buff (hey, I’m working on it already), so a lot of this might be based on speculation that is in fact wrong, but this song has brought me to very precise consideration that I would like to think bears some kind of fruits.

What strikes me first is how slowly it is played. Keeping time in a fast song is easy, especially if you are playing an instrument, because you have no real desire to speed up and the tempo is naturally assertive enough to keep the player concentrated. But in Fleeting Smile, the tempo is extremely slow and often times purposefully slowed down or sped up, to build tension. This makes the final two notes all the more painful. Painful in a good way, though. This song is completely teetering on the edge. It is at first glance a happy little lullaby, but like the title suggests, the piece is short and vague, like the face of a pretty girl across a crowd. During the song’s repeating ascending melody, while the lower notes are in a constant little harmony, the higher notes often times hit dissonant chords, that is, chords that do not assert themselves as either major or minor, happy or sad. I think that is what gives the music such a yearning sound, such a tragically beautiful and happy aspect. I think that is why most movies in Hollywood today are disposable, because they end predictably happily. The real, worthwhile movies are the ones that can’t decide if they are happy or sad. And I realized that this might be the case for all music.  Some famous cellist once said that beauty lies in the diminuendo. He was thinking kind of two dimensionally.It is now my personal belief that the best music, well that’s not true at all, the most moving music, is the music that is teetering on the edge between major and minor like that. Upon ending this song, the listener is just begging for more and has completely eaten out of Eno’s hand. I can’t get a handle on whether how simple this song is propels it to such astounding heights or if it’s something else. This song, like other very quiet low key piano pieces of it’s kind, works it’s magic by using simplicity and allowing the listener to effortlessly propel their imaginations and senses. And yet I equally appreciate very dense, complicated music because it challenges the mind and paints a very specific, beautiful picture. And sometimes I enjoy the difficult stuff the most, because often times the most challenging music is the most truly artful. Mozart and Bach are still revered to this day as being incredible while respectable artists today aren’t even pimples on either of their asses, but very few classical musicians had the guts to break the rules. I think that is why I don’t like classical music all the time, it has so many limitations and so little will to be obnoxious or challenging, that after someone has heard one Mozart concerto, it is very easy and reasonable to assume that one has heard them all. And even pop can be painfully predictable and therefore not rewarding in the slightest. This contrast is also felt heavily in literature and visual arts and needs to be explored more. By the way, I want more of this. I want more very simple, short piano music like this and I would be endlessly grateful if anyone could direct me to any other stuff of this kind. I’m dying here.

There are people who strive to understand beauty through proportions and mathematics and philosophy, and I think it’s impossible. The fantasy of these people would be to see and understand something on a specific enough level that they are blown away and can die happy. Maybe it is that simple and maybe it is not, but it is not easy either way. And I think we could sit here talking about beauty for the rest of our lives and still hit new ground. I’m going to go eat a sandwich now.


Cleanup (Some stuff from the garbage)

March 31, 2007

Welcome to T-Mobile!  Tell us how we did at first and you’ll be entered to win great prizes!  Your T-Mobile phone number is __________

Whats up whore?


You have been sent a picture message.  View your message at, your password is xz2bez, your message will be deleted after 6 days

Your a sissy little bitch daggot


Sorta just climbed a montana







Hey Alex.  I am messing with my new phone – experimenting with text messaging.  Please reply.  Thanks!

He just weird try making fun of something

What?  That makes no sense

In chicago srry

King tut exhibit

A whole bunch o stuf i cal u

umm who is this?

bunch of dvds

Srry for taking so long on answers my phone charger is at home so i leave the phone off

Its fun but a little long

I found the charger i am no longer cut off from the world

Yeah but its getting taken away until after finals

Quiz tomorrow

Can you bring the pieces you want to submit to nuance?  Were going to have time to talk about them

That makes sense drexel was good

9 oclock-What a stupid word oclock

Where r u

Only asking now because i’ll forget otherwise. 1. please bring me along the next time you see the CSO. 2. Remind me when you have an orchestra concert.

Claudia. Dont feel stupid. Have fun in maths tomorrow

What are you talking about i was there we talked about borat

no the truth just isnt very interesting i was studying physics in the library

What are you up to?

watching tv. You?

Plugging along, i wonder how that saying came about. In chicago for my moms birthday, staying at a hotel because my moms always wanted to. Wasted the day

Yeah i just laid around all day

Picture msg.

Greetings and salutations Number One Son.  I will pick you up around four-thirty tomorrow. See you then 🙂

Machshotgunfieduous watchin futurama


Alvin Lucier – I Am Sitting In A Room

March 29, 2007

I am sitting in a room, different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice, and I am going to play it back into the room again and again until the resonant frequencies of the room reinforce themselves so that any semblance of my speech, with perhaps the exception of rr-r-rhythm, is destroyed. What you will hear then are the natural resonant frequencies of the room articulated by speech. I regard this activity, nnnnnnot so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to su-sm-smooth out any irregularities my speech might have.

I Am Sitting In A Room is hardly music. In fact, it is hardly a creative effort. I want to call Lucier a genius for producing this, because it is in fact ingenious, but to be honest he really did nothing. The process that was taken to produce this album was surely simple and easy, and yet there is little as priceless as this recording when it comes to modern day technological experiments. This recording tells us worlds about both ourselves and the world that we live in, subtly, and without any real proof or backup other than itself. What I just reproduced above this paragraph is all the listener hears for the length of the album. And yet, it really isn’t. The process speaks for itself. Alvin, a post modern musical craftsman of sorts, recorded his voice on a simple tape machine. He has a very ordinary voice. It is creepy at first, and it sounds like it might be the voice of a narrator on TV from the fifties who introduces horror flicks. His voice does end up being relaxing and quaint, and he has a small studder, which is nice because it puts a personal touch into the sounds. He speaks clearly and slowly, so that you understand him.

What then happens is the audio track is played back, in the same room, into another tape recorder. What results is the recording of Alvin Lucier recording himself speaking. This tape is then played in the same room and recorded, resulting in a tape of a recording of a recording of Alvin Lucier recording himself speaking. The whole work consists of these cycles, each taking a little more than a minute, the album being over forty minutes. Every time his voice is re-recorded, it seems as if it deteriorates. Even by the second segment, his voice sounds a little “farther back,” as if he was speaking to you through a long hallway. By the third segment, the echo is much more apparent and there is a certain recognizable rasp in the voice. This goes on, for over forty minutes. And what he told you what would happen does happen. In ten minutes, the voice is extremely deteriorated. By twenty, unintelligible and instead a rhythmic mass of what seems to be synthesizers. By thirty, a flowing tonal ambient atmosphere.

The mastery of this is not apparent. It is not easy to understand and it is not necessarily the most enjoyable listen you will come in contact with. There is no beat and thus no driving force. But what you hear throughout the extent of this album transforms beautifully. By the end of the recording, you are no longer hearing Alvin Lucier’s voice, although it is still there. You are hearing a room. You are hearing the room Alvin Lucier is sitting in. And you are hearing the rooms natural resonant frequencies. This is the voice of the room, at it’s purest. Alvin Lucier just happens to be sitting in it, speaking, but the focus is no longer on him. His voice lets the room speak. And what is really amazing about this is the nature of the final result. It is musical in many respects. Once again, there is no real beat or solid rhythm so the listen is only as compelling as any other ambient work you have heard with no beats, but the result is decidedly musical. The feedback and vocal soundscapes create chords, tiny jingles, and interesting pairings throughout the extent of the recording.

This is Alvin Lucier sitting in a room, recording the sound of his speaking voice, and playing it back over and over again. Everything he says is true, and more. What happens over forty five minutes of this is unspeakably interesting. On the first listen this album is bland and boring, but upon further listens it truly opens up. This is not art. This is simply a room. To understand this record is truly great, and to come back later and hear the transformation again is fascinating. What this tells us is that we are doing more than speaking during everyday conversation. Really, we are vaguely singing, in some alien way. And it also tells us that everything around us is very quietly singing at all times. It tells us that everything is musical. Once again, this was probably not hard to record. Anyone with two tape recorders and a few tapes could have done this, and with other sounds than the human voice. You could probably use pianos, water droplets, a singing voice, a violin, a city, ANYTHING. And people have. People have vaguely changed the formula since this recording was made in 1970. That is how we got Frippertronics, sort of, created by Brian Eno and Robert Fripp. The playback of of two recorders using guitar in a room, bouncing off of one another. Or what about the Silver Session for Jason Knuth by Sonic Youth? Where the band members essentially turned all their amps up to full blast, left the room, and recorded the result? These are just a few small examples of what this recording has the potential of teaching musicians. This is Alvin Lucier sitting in a room, different from the room you are in now. I wonder what the room you are in now sounds like.