Sunday, December 25, 2005

Random Christmas Memory

One of my presiding Christmas memories comes from my freshman year of college. In the weekend dividing the end of regular classes and finals week, my dormmates and I gathered at Prentice Hall cafeteria and broke bread for a Christmas-type feast. There must have been 20 of us huddled around three tables we pushed together. For the passers-by, it must have looked utterly obnoxious, we 4th-floor Verder denizens laughing and conversing as if we were a family from an Olive Garden commercial.

I had not been that close with my floormates that semester, nor would I be any time afterward, but for that one evening, we drew together and acted as a familial unit. Afterwards, we adjourned to the 4th floor lounge for a collective viewing of "It's a Wonderful Life." In retrospect, it remains the only Christmas-type atmosphere I've had since leaving home and coming to college. The next semester was one of melodrama and fracture of our communal unity, but at least I can cling to our seasonal bout of peace and goodwill.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Stale Cookies and Warm Milk

It had been years since I stopped believing in Santa, but, at age 10, I was still going through some of the motions. In particular, I kept the tradition of leaving out the cookies and milk. I found it kind of funny to wake each Christmas morning, post-Santa naivete, to find the crumbly-crumbs on the plate and the crusty milk residue clinging to the empty glass.

Of course I knew the big-man wasn't responsible for the consumption, but I never really continued the thought any further. It wasn't Santie Claus, for sure, but anyone else in the world was suspect.

However, the Christmas morning of 1994 left me blinking confusedly at a full glass of 2% and 4 utterly untouched chocolate chip cookies. My recently-single mother, sleepily emerging from her bedroom, had no good excuse as to why the foodstuffs stayed the course into daylight.

I would be in err to say that the lingering stale cookies and warm milk ruined my Christmas. Sure, I tore the gift wrapping and grinned ecstatic as any 10 year-old boy at finding the hottest Sega Genesis game in my sweaty paw. Still, I couldn't help but feel that something had irrevocably changed, that a corner had been turned and faded hazily into the distance.

Years later, I would come to the realization that my parents marriage was that which had changed my Christmas. That previous June, they had separated, eventually to be divorced, and my dad had not been there that first Christmas of their separation, 1994. It had been my dad that had so diligently obliged to consuming Santa's cookies and milk. My mom failed to realize his slight-but-significant role in my Christmas enjoyment, and so my charity to Santa/dad remained unreceived.

It was just a small alteration of my self-indulgent, pre-adolescent Christmas mythology, but one directly resultant of my folks splitting. It took years and years to digest the BIG changes that accompanied their divorce. Yet, I still come to realize these little things that happened to me in the early days of the parental rift.

Following that December morning of '94, I never left Santa cookies again.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Architecture recollection

I stared at my nearly complete model of the Kent Center for Contemporary Art, a second year architectural design project. The lights on the 4th floor studio of Taylor Hall dimmed and ceased. I reached for my desk lamp and clicked on its 60 watts of progressive brilliance.

The studio was empty, the rest of my class having handed in their projects the last Thursday. This was early Tuesday morning, 3:00 a.m. I had been given an extension, as my grandma had died eight days prior, during our final project production week, and I had to flee to Florida to attend the funeral with the rest of my grieving family.

My studio professor was understanding of the whole thing, giving me as much time as I needed to finish. Yet, the overwhelming workload outside of studio did not ebb as I spent those five days in Florida. As it were, I greeted my grandma's death with an undulating numbness, as if the architecture program had permeated into my soul and removed any emotional aspect from my being. Whereas my cousins cried at the sight of our beloved grandma laid out before us, I stared stoically, blankly, my mind and heart and body being pulled in too many directions to focus on the event. I was distant my whole time in Florida.

But by Tuesday morning at 3, ten hours before my belated project was due, emotion started to catch up. It was as if my life had been on hold until I finished my art museum, as if my life was manifest in its design.

Surrealness gripped me as I was instructed by campus security to leave Taylor, which closed at 3. I walked past the May 4th memorial in the chilly February air, headphones blasting Radiohead or some other music of similar ambience. I focused upon a figure clad in a black cloak, hood up, with black gloves and boots. His back to me, he looked out from the platform of the memorial over the campus commons. His arms were hung at his sides, as if at the ready.

I did not view this occurance as any type of abnormality, as we were both out at three a.m. on an absolutely frigid Tuesday. I just figured he was a guy doing his thing, his surreal thing.

I entered Verder Hall, my dorm, with the intention of working on an essay about my design until four, then heading back to Taylor to break back in, as security stopped patrolling at that time. Upon setting up my laptop in one of the lounges, the power abruptly went out. As I went to the window, I saw that all the lights on campus had failed.

Working on battery power, I finished my paper by the light of monitor and headed up to my room to change clothes and head back to studio. I ran into my friend Justin, in an all-too-common 4 a.m. Verder occurance. He was just as perplexed as I at the power outage. He asked what I was doing up so late.

'Finishing my studio project. Leaving now to break back in.'

'How are you going to work in the dark?'

'I have a light on my desk.'

'The power's out.'

'Right. Can I borrow some candles?'

'Sure, dude.'

With a satchel overburdened by hippie candles, I made the trek back to Taylor, circa 4:30. It amazed me how much more peaceful the campus looked in complete darkness, as if the world had been put on pause and only I could pulse through it. I could see so much in the dark, as there was no light-to-dark contrast, and my eyes adjusted easier. I wished to walk about this environment until dawn, but my architectural obligation beckoned as it had for the last week, waving a finger at anything that evoked emotion.

Now, breaking back into studio is a process that requires cunning and brute strength. While slamming the handicap button which automatically opens the doors, one must yank with all strength on the doors, forcing the weakened latch to yield to the unrelenting architecture student and fling drastically open. This is very illegal.

As I approached the entryway in the dark, I had to wonder if this procedure could be executed without any power being fed to the handicap release. This contemplation had not even finished processing when a severe hum filled my ears and Taylor lit up like a huge brutalist lantern. The doors in question opened in front of me seemingly on their own congnizance, or rather, as a result of the surge streaking through every building on campus.

Surreal? Absolutely.

I glanced up beyond the beacon of 4th floor studio and into the sinuosly sooty NE Ohio February sky.

'Thanks grandma.'

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

excerpt from my memiors: Bocced Up: My life interpreted through the great sport of Bocce Ball

22 November 2005:
Subterranean Semester Blues

It's getting down to it now. Another four months of my life spent. I slip into the melancholy of the end of the semester/beginning of winter comedown. It always snows on Thanksgiving. That kills any chance for a bocce ball tournament.

Bocce would really improve my life right now. I'd feel like I accomplished something. Something about the steady clink of two colliding clay spheres puts my life into perspective. As one bocce ball collides with another, so goes the swirling of the ever expanding-contracting universe.

And I choose to reside in the sanctity of some subterranean lyrics:

The breath of the morning
I keep forgetting,
The smell of the warm summer air

* * * * * *

The man in the coon-skin cap
In the big pen
Wants eleven dollars
You only got ten

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Marketing idea for my best friend who's in a band

My best friend Justin is in a band called Godot [pronounced Guh dough], that consequently is playing at the Grog Shop tonight. As they are most definitely destined to be mega famous rockstars like Motley Crue and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, I decided to ride their coattails and bang out some sweet marketing ideas.

Actually, I only have one idea, but it's a good one:

Once their first record goes double platinum, Ben and Jerry [and me] will drop this new flavor:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Godot

Hold your applause. I'm gonna make millions.

Butts aplenty

I've been known to smoke cigarrettes from time to time, but one thing that really chafes my lungs [apart from nefarious toxins] are the people who casually flick their butts all over the place. Litter in general just berates me, and living in a college environment, I come across hundreds of spent butts littering every entryway to every campus building.


Now, I realize smoking is bad and I probably shouldn't do it, but I refine my habits to best suit the general public. It's just courtesy. I never litter the ground with cigarrette butts, I'll look for an ash tray or other recepticle and if one isn't around, I'll carry my butt around until I find one.

Though it does get kinda frustrating at the end of the night when I sometimes remove upwards of a dozen used cigarrettes from various pockets on my person. Eww. At least I'm littering on myself and not on mother nature.

[Something of note: I smoke less than one cigarrette a day, these days.]

Monday, October 24, 2005

Pragmatical Issues in Cycling

I'm totally pro-bike. I love my bike. It's an effiecient, healthy way to get from point A to point B, granted point B is less than 10 miles of flat terrain away, and one can get there without using the highway.

Sure, I wreck more frequently than the average four year old, but at least I feel better about myself in that I own a bike and not a car.

This last summer was amazing, the pinacle of self-sufficiency. I got where I needed to go on two wheels and sheer will[and leg]power.

Then today happened: cold, rainy, windy, shitty, cold, rainy, rainy, rainy, rain in my eyes, speckling my glasses, making my jeans soaked, etc., etc. Biking was suddenly unpleasant when confronted with this harsh environment. And I'm increasingly exasperated by the fact that it will only get worse from here on out.

These facts lead me to consider the acquisition of a car. GASP! Could I possibly live with myself, knowing that I too possess the very vehicle of destructive capitalism that I have so harshly decried for the past ten months? I have a free car waiting for me in Pittsburgh, I just need to transfer the title. The possibility is lucrative, but I'll wait for the next few weeks to shake out. Hopefully, we'll have an Indian Summer until, say, February, then it won't even be an issue.

[Postmodern Dystopia Winter Forecast: Man-sized shards of ice falling from the sky at high velocities for the next four months. Don't venture outside unless protected by a sheet metal canopy.]

Goddamn it!

Rainy Day Music

As I plunge more headlong into the hole that is October [tangent: Upon discussing favorite months with people, hands down the most popular is October. Why is that? Sure the leaves change and its beautiful, the weather doesn't kick your ass too much at first, the air has that crispness of decaying plant matter, and Halloween's fun, I guess, but I'm definitely a Spring man, myself. To me October just represents the last gasp of friendly weather, before the white-grey assualt of frigid NE Ohio Winter. Anytime I think of Winter, I think of the Campus Commons field below Taylor Hall and how it turns to a solid sheet of ice from December 1st until about mid March. Winter sucks and October is just the starting point of this suckiness. April, on the other hand, is the beginning of Spring, which means budding life, new beginnings on the bloom, new warmth. Then there's Summer, which is also great. I just like beginnings more than endings. Plus, Fall means school, and although I like school, I like the freedom of Summer much more. Spring: good; Fall: bad. tangent over! Thanks for staying with me.], I am accosted with coldly weepy days such as this one.

Like everyone, I have my rainy day music. Also like everyone, I have a blog, so I thought it'd be a quaint little idea to combine the two to better "synergize" my life.

Today, I've been absolutely obsessed with the title track from Elephant's "Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid." That one's pretty self explanatory.

Other rainers on the parade, so to speak:
--Radiohead's "Amnesiac" and to a lesser extent "Kid A"
--Portisehead's "Dummy"
--Jeff Buckley's "Live at Sin-e"
--Elliot Smith's "From a Basement On a Hill"
--Yo La Tengo
--The Postal Service's "Give Up" even though I only like half the album
--The Smith's self titled

I'm sure there are plenty more in my library, but I need to go curl up in a dark corner and listen to the rain gently drone on the window pane. Fall sucks.

My Gratuitous All-time favorite Book Quote

"He thought that in the beauty of the world hid a terrible secret. He thought the world's heart beat at some terrible cost and that the world's pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower."

from Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses

To get overly English-geek with this quote, it embodies the postmodern aesthetic of constantly shifting values. Plus it's depressing yet beautiful.

Simply put, the quote's fucking sweet. This book is so good it makes me cream my pants. "exacted for the vision of a single flower" !!! C'mon, how is that not the best thing anyone could ever read?

Friday, October 14, 2005

Upon two couples making out on a couch

I once again ventured to the ECC this lovely fall evening, this time in search of '80's night, meaning Prince music and poor dancing. And by poor dancing, I mean my own. I can't dance. In fact, I would venture to say I may very well be the absolute worst dancer in the history of rhythmic movement. I have no rhythm. Nada. "Oh, you're just being modest [read insecure]," some may say, but those are the people who haven't seen me dance. It's like a car wreck--decidedly awful, but they can't stop gawking at it.

Trust me, give me a beer and a half and I'll juke and jive all night. Then you'll probably vomit just slightly in your mouth [have a sour]. If the dancing persists, those chunks are hittin' the floor, baby. Yes, my dancing is that bad. Promise.

But anyway, I was at the ECC, dancing and making other people leave in disgust, when two moderately unattractive couples came in. I'm gonna say they were 16 years old or so, for the story's sake, but in reality they make have been 18+. Anyways, these two barely pubescent couples come in, do very little dancing at all [probably having seen me from the street], and then head for the couches to profusely make out. I think they came down just with the couches in mind. No 80's, no dancing, just Girls Gone Wild ECC edition straddling and tongues inextricably tied together, with the occasional look-over-the-shoulder-at-your-also-obnoxiously-lip-locked-friends.

I instantly had a sour. I guess fair is fair, after all.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Deep-seated [self] Loathing

I was going to write a perky little anecdote about my recent trip to the 'burgh but I've got nagging little despair issues presently. Anxiety? you may ask. Possibly, but I just get down sometimes, I don't know why. Maybe a lonliness issue, as cliched as that may sound. Or something like not living my life to the fullest. Either way, I'm melancholy right now and felt the need to share it with someone, or something, rather, as I'm just feeding this sob story to my computer.

Don't cry for me computer, cry for the world. I do. It helps, I suppose.

Actually, I can't cry. Last May was noted for the greatest despair I've felt in a long time and could I cry? NO! I wanted to, mind you, but just couldn't get down to it. Lord knows I tried and everything. I came close at one point, looking forward to a nice little catharsis, but then my mom called and cheered me up. That's what pisses me off about moms, they're always there to stop you from crying. I should have just been like, "Look Mom, I'm trying to weep for myself and the world here, just let me be." But she wouldn't listen anyway.

Dammit, I'm starting to feel better already. Holy shit, does this mean my blog is like my new mom? What a mind fuck. In which case, Blog, I need a new pair of shoes and an iPod. No? Like I said, my new mom.

Monday, October 03, 2005


During a festive evening at the Oasis show, my dearest pal Amy began reflecting upon the nature of encores, as Noel had just said the previous song was their last. Yet they were back. Amid plumes of marijuana smoke, she surmised that they had obviously been lying, knowing full well that they would play in the extremely near future. When a band comes back out and plays an encore, there's a certain obligation the fan must feel to stay and listen.

This made it all the more exaspirating when Oasis began their encore with a song we'd never heard of. With a band like Oasis, if their last song isn't one that everyone knows, you can bet that there will be more songs to come. We both had to pee, and I had very quickly grown tired of Oasis. It was just time to go. Amy and I began to chant, "Sally Can Wait" with steady deliberation, knowing it was going to be the song that closed the half-set. But we were wrong. They did play "Sally," but it was not to be their last. They opted instead for an impromptu "My Generation," so that EVERYONE could sing along.

But why the encore? Is it an ego boost? Is it just common courtesy? Is it even necessary? How many shows have you been to that haven't ended with an encore?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Pittsburgh Penguins will kill everyone

With the home opener approaching on Oct. 8, I cannot wait to see the Pens trounce the rest of the NHL with superb scoring. Looking forward to an awesome, unlocked-out season.

My night at the ECC

I enjoy going to the ECC, it's laid back, artsy [but not overly so], and usually there's some hip, local band that fits into those two categories. Tonight I had the pleasure of realizing that my favorite dance-synth band The Parsley Flakes were making an appearance there.

Yippee! I shouted with a zeal completely outside of the quasi-melancholy I was experiencing at the moment. Something to help me forget my [kinda petty] problems and do some dancing to the only thing that sets my soul afire--in-your-face synth. I arrived at 10:45 under the impression that they would perform at 10:30, meaning about 11:20 in ECC time.

Fair enough, I thought as I entered, dropping 55 cents into a professional-enough-looking tub labeled "Katrina Victims" held by a cutie at the door. Feeling better about myself already, I dropped another 2 dollars on a bottle of Pabst and commenced to listening to the opening band Kill the Hippies. Their brand of hardcore punk ameliorated some disdain circulating my body, but my soul was kept in check by hope of the glorious Parsley Flakes. Thub-thub-thub-parsleyflakes went my little heart.

"They're on after MC Homeless," a Lesbian conferred to me at the bar. Well, a bit of a delay, I suppose, but then my synth-fix would be in. What seemed like years and 3 depressingly boring bands later [in reality it was 2 hours, which still is an inexplicably long time to wait for the soothing pangs of syth to enter the body] I was still waiting, wallet depleted, Pabst empty, and smoking way too many Camel filters. The crowd swelled and became riotous.

By 12:30, shit hit the fan. Joel, the oft-inept, hopelessly stoned proprietor of the ECC was engaging in a verbal bout with none other than my Parsley Flakes. They had brought the crowd, who numbered far beyond just me, brought prizes, and, most importantly, had brought that uppedy brand of synth that my soul was craving.

But it was all for naught. I overheard the absolutely gorgeous Marie saying that if they did not play now, the Flakes would pack it up and never return to the ECC. Her boyfriend/bandmate Jeff said they'd probably wait 2 months, in reality. Joel stormed out of his own establishment, slammed into his muffler-enhanced Civic and sped off aggressively into residential Kent.

A random guy outside clutching the Katrina tub remarked, "He needs some anti-depressants and a muffler," in probably the most appropriate comment I've ever heard. Disconcerted to see so much drama unfold on a Tuesday night, I hopped on my cycle and pedaled away, glancing over my shoulder to see the majestic Marie looking particularly angry. What a shame.

My soul has yet to recover from the blow.

I've always [since last month] said, "A synth band will save the world." It seems as though the world will be a horrible place so long as The Parsley Flakes are repressed by venue owners too stoned for their own good. My soul hurts. The world does, too.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What is 'Postmodern Dystopia'?

What is 'postmodern' you may ask? Well, it's what comes after modernism. What does that mean? It's really definitionless, or rather the defintion is too long to really get into. And dystopia is simply the opposite of utopia. Basically this is an amorphous pile of crap, much like the structure of my mind. I appologize for coming off as pretentious, I really try not to, honest. In real life, I'm actually quite accessible. That is, if you're eccentric and don't mind completely random comments. Enjoy!