Saturday, February 28, 2009

No Robots

UMass has a Quidditch team. For those that are uninformed, Quidditch is a sport played by wizards in the Harry Potter book series. In the novels, the game is played on levetated broomsticks hundreds of feet above the ground. The school's team does actually play other colleges in Quidditch matches.

It seems to me that there are categorically three separate incarnations of the disinterested. First, there is the kind of person who makes a conscious effort to seem engaged. Even if the conversation is one sided and masturbatory, the disinterested party will fain interest. Another kind of disinterested is the one that will not fain interest but will not prevent a lengthy dialogue. Every once in a while there will be a nod or two but for the most part you will be looking at an individual presenting a 'one-hundred yard' stare. Finally, there is the person that disregards a topic that they find boring right off the bat. This saves time overall, but can also be a little standoffish.

Lev bought a macro lens this week. This means that he can take high quality pictures of objects at a very close range. This is a picture of my eye.

This sign is above the back seat of every public transport bus on campus. No smoking, no food or drinks, no robots.

Speak easy,

Friday, February 27, 2009

Unfit For Gymnast

Cat: My spirit is being crushed within the machinery of industrial society!

Mouse: Your failing is lack of hard work and diligence.


Cat: When I was young I was just like you - small, ballsy, and hungry!

Mouse: Oh, well I hoped you changed for the best...


Mother, if my constitution is unfit for gymnast…the grist mill shall become my pommel horse and daily labor my reward!


Oh, trust me, I won't be small and helpless forever...but my memory's perfect!


While perusing the internet for information on the new Venture Brothers DVD (which I highly recommend netflixing if you are a fan of The Tick, Johnny Quest, or intelligently penned animated comedies) I came across a website of Soviet Lolcats. They aren't as goofy or abstract as the classic Lolcats, but they are still enjoyable.

The video David at the Dentist makes me feel a little uncomfortable. I don't understand why a father would videotape his eight year old son in a seemingly traumatic state and then subsequently put in on the internet for the world to see. Granted, the child probably loves the attention, but I feel like there is a little bit of exploitation going on. The internet is just one big grey mess.

Speak easy,

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pins, Bright, Black and Poor.

Yesterday I was walking through the center of Amhest. A homeless man was standing across from the Souper Bowl (a soupery with a terrible name and equally terrible logo). He asked me if I wanted to donate money to a school for poor children. At the time I was properly headphoned and holding a Reese' peanut butter cup in my hand. Normally I try to pretend that they are not there, something that is significantly easier to do when no one is around. I gave him fifty cents and he said "every bit counts". Afterward, I felt guilty. Like I had invested in the suffering of the soul of someone else.

Sometimes I wonder if the popularization of credit cards and debit cards has an effect on the homeless population. Digital transactions result in changeless pockets. If people have no change then they can't give it to the homeless. What do they do then?

The homeless people, the people that are ignored, sad, sick, and lost, always remind me of a poem that I read once. I was able to find it online (thanks to Google).


Mantis by samuel charters

Mantis! praying mantis! since your wings’ leaves
And your terrified eyes, pins, bright, black and poor
Beg — "Look, take it up" (thoughts’ torsion)! "save it!"
I who can’t bear to look, cannot touch, — You —
You can — but no one sees you steadying lost
In the cars’ drafts on the lit subway stone.

—The ungainliness
of the creature needs stating.

And your terrified eyes, pins, bright, black and poor

"The mantis opened its body
It had been lost in the subway
It steadied against the drafts
It looked up—
Begging eyes—
It flew at my chest"

… "it is harmless," he says moving on—You?
Where will he put you? There are no safe leaves
To put you back in here, here’s news! too poor
Like all the separate poor to save the lost.

One feels in fact inevitably
About the coincidence of the mantis lost in the subway,
About the growing oppression of the poor—
Which is the situation most pertinent to us—

Here, stone holds only seats on which the poor
Ride, who rising from the news may trample you—
The shops’ crowds a jam with no flies in it.


Speak easy,

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Dark Bus

When I was 11 years old, my friend Austin told me that I should make the most of being 11 years old because, he said, one day I would be his age and wish I was 11 again. At the time, Austin was probably about 14 at the time. He said that life is more carefree when you are 11. I still remember where I was when he told me this. I still remember how, even though he would joke around a lot, he told me this with stern confidence. At the time I didn't understand what he meant. When I was 11, all I wanted to do was get older and have great experiences. Deep down inside me there is still an 11 year old kid that just can't wait to go to High School and get his license and eat outdoors right before graduation and attend a loud concert and go to prom and kiss a girl for the first time and watch rated R movies at 1 in the morning. Austin was right now and he was right then. You don't know it but you should really take advantage of how old you are right now because some day, when you're older, you'll wish you were young again.

Lev is writing out some sort of scholarship application and asked me whether he should use the term "Health Field" or "Health Industry". I Googled* both phrases and "Health Industry" has 12,000,000 more hits. This is the most popular terminology, so I recommended he use it. It's interesting how different life is now with computers and all.

*I have heard that the English language is one of the only languages that actively adopts nouns as verbs. "Googled", "Texted", and "Friended" (for example, I friended him on Facebook) are the most common among people who fall within the 14-23 age bracket.

I am going to buy a California State flag to hang over my bed. For some reason or another you are able to get just about any kind of flag on for 0.01 USD.

Here are some things that I thought of today that I want that may or may not exist...

1) Desaturation Glasses - Glasses that allow you to see the world in black and white.

2) Dark Bus - A relatively hollowed out bus that has been converted into a dark room.

3) Rave Glow Gloves - Soft, thin plastic gloves with the same properties as glow sticks.

4) Boxton, MA - A small town made of card board boxes. This might actually happen. The girls working at the Brooks/Brett cluster office asked Lev and I if we could think of anything interesting to do with the extra boxes that they have. They really liked the idea for Boxton and asked me if I wouldn't mind if they used it.

Last week the Cape Cod Times published a few of my photographs. It is kind of an odd caption to be associated with, but I don't mind.

I am actually mentioned in the article as "an aspiring and talented photographer." Not too shabby.

Speak easy,

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fishy Holds Camera

I found a folded up screenplay sitting on the sidewalk next to my dorm. It is only about two pages long and mostly just describes different shots.

Speak easy,

Monday, February 23, 2009

Raise The Ground, Don't Lower The Bar

My teacher described the book we are currently reading, which happens to be The Belly of the Atlantic by Fatou Diome, as a piece of Transnational "Post-Colonial" Auto-Fiction. This means that the book is a semi-autobiographic work of fiction that was written after the European/American colonial era and is set across several countries and continents. If, and when, I do get around to writing whatever large project I am compelled to write, it would definitely be labeled the same as Diome's novel.

Art is kind of a strange thing. You get this idea in your head and you want to execute it but you put it off and put it off. It takes a shape in your head, it is so clear and defined and detailed. Most of that stuff in my head never comes to fruition. Almost like there are things in your head and then there are things that you create and usually they are mutually exclusive. Part of it has to do with letting yourself down. If you never complete something, it will always hold some great possibilities. You imbibe the treasured notion of perfection and anything short of that beauty is a disappointment. The things I do finish are just a result of a careless whim. A one night stand with a guitar or a notebook. I suppose it is sometimes best to have no expectations.

The pictures in today's blog are some more rave pictures that I came across. I think they exemplify the atmosphere of the situation fairly well.

Speak easy,

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Evil is a deed as I live.

I recently received this message from a friend of mine about a topic I has brought up in casual conversation months prior.

"I recall you posing the question some time in the recent past about whether you'd make more sense to yourself and others if you could think fluidly in French. At the time I said no, but now I retract that statement.

In my human communications class today, we were discussing the Sapir/Whorf hypothesis which suggests that our language influences and even determines our thoughts and actions.

For example, in Russian, there is a word to specifically describe the pleasure you feel when your rival fails. This implies that this particular emotion is a social norm in Russian culture. Here, we don't have a specific word to convey that emotion, and you will notice that we are supposed to be "good sports" whether we win or lose.

My point is, there may be hope for you yet, John Neilson."

-Stephanie Brown, respectively

What I want to do is learn French very well and then move to a French speaking area and then, eventually, get to the point where I will think in French. I believe that maybe my thought process will evolve and potentially stabilize.
"Dammit I'm Mad" by Demetri Martin
(a 224-word palindrome poem)

Dammit I’m mad.
Evil is a deed as I live.
God, am I reviled? I rise, my bed on a sun, I melt.
To be not one man emanating is sad. I piss.
Alas, it is so late. Who stops to help?
Man, it is hot. I’m in it. I tell.
I am not a devil. I level “Mad Dog”.
Ah, say burning is, as a deified gulp,
In my halo of a mired rum tin.
I erase many men. Oh, to be man, a sin.
Is evil in a clam? In a trap?
No. It is open. On it I was stuck.
Rats peed on hope. Elsewhere dips a web.
Be still if I fill its ebb.
Ew, a spider… eh?
We sleep. Oh no!
Deep, stark cuts saw it in one position.
Part animal, can I live? Sin is a name.
Both, one… my names are in it.
Murder? I’m a fool.
A hymn I plug, deified as a sign in ruby ash,
A Goddam level I lived at.
On mail let it in. I’m it.
Oh, sit in ample hot spots. Oh wet!
A loss it is alas (sip). I’d assign it a name.
Name not one bottle minus an ode by me:
“Sir, I deliver. I’m a dog”
Evil is a deed as I live.
Dammit I’m mad.

Palindromes and anagrams* seem to be ways that people have deconstructed language into something almost mathematical. Its the kind of expanded way of thinking I would like to achieve. To maybe see connections that most people wouldn't.

*Debit Card - Bad Credit
Husband and Wife - Fun Was Had In Bed

Speak easy,

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hampster on a Piano

I found a bunch of stuff on the ground over the past few days.

This one was in the first floor of the Franklin dining hall. Everyday I pick up little scraps of paper hoping that I will find something of interest.

This one was on the sidewalk near the Fine Arts Center.

It is ripped in half so the message is incomplete. If you can't read it, here is a transcription...


10/12 is Young Jin Choi
...brown eyes and my dress. Sometime is Jin, cat. Bunny Because
...Play I Play with dance
...nce is funny and Play well is Adele and Andrea

This little circle of metal, that I found in front of Brett House, is sitting on my desk. I use it to remind something important. To practice reserve.

re⋅serve [ri-zurv]

1. to keep back or save for future use, disposal, treatment, etc.
2. to retain or secure by express stipulation.
3. to set apart for a particular use, purpose, service, etc.
4. to keep for oneself.

definition from

It's something to think about.

Apparently the Nickelodeon cable channel has discovered the type of humor that Generation Z is interested in. What I am talking about is the random, high paced type of comedy that children love. This consists of quick jump cuts and people sprouting jumbled nonsense. If anyone can do it, it probably isn't very good.

EPIC JOURNEY by david heatley

"I'm a little boy. The people closest to me have all been badly hurt. We walk together. We fight with each other. We fight horrible people who try to attack us. We find the original cause of all the hurt. He's a sad, scared, feeble little boy, too. He cowers in front of us, wretched, filthy and broken. We surround him with love and he is healed. He joins us. We keep walking."

Speak easy,

Friday, February 20, 2009

Snowflakes and Spinart

Tonight I went to a rave in North Hampton. It is a pretty interesting experience. The music is loud (sizzling), most of the people are in an altered state ("Rollin" or Drunk), and the lights scatter like snowflakes and spinart. To the best of my knowledge, going to a rave is probably something reserved for those in their late-teens, early 20's. When you enter, you either get a wristband (to show that you are 21 and old enough to order drinks at the bar) or "X"s drawn in sharpie on either hand (to show that you are not). Most of the people with "X"s on their hands are drunk anyway because they pre-game (or drink alcohol beforehand) or just sneak drinks into the club. Girls that are under 21 usually get drinks anyway by propositioning men with wristbands some beer so that they can replace some of their blood for alcohol. When alcohol replaces blood in the your bloodstream you tend to act stupid. It's science.

The dancing itself will often involve moving the arms, legs, and body in a rhythmic fashion until exhaustion. Even cold sober, the abundance of people, the lights, and the sounds can easily discombobulate one into a confused/drunken state of mind. You don't try to dance, you just do. The only people who really stand out are the ones not dancing, or the ones who take their shirts off.

The rave was held at Diva's, known for being NoHo's premier gay bar. Once in a while UMass will throw a student run event there (not specifically aimed at homosexuals). The only part of the rave that I find specifically uncomfortable is the restroom situation. In these bars there is always some guy looming in the bathroom waiting for someone to make a subtle pass at him.

This is Michaela (some girl who went to High School with Lev), Lev (my roommate), and me. Somehow the flash makes me looks specifically pale.

Speak easy,

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Morpeth Rant and the New World

Note to self: Learn Morpeth Rant on the accordion.

This afternoon I watched the documentary Ghosts of Rwanda for my African Literature class. I'm not going to talk anymore about the lack of scruples that some of the African people demonstrated throughout the mid 90's. Instead I would like to bring up the way that our government handled the Rwandan genocide. The American government handles situations similar to the way the mafia handles situations. If there is disorder in a country in which we are invested, we will do something to bring equilibrium to the state of that nation. This is similar to a mafioso making sure that nobody hassles the owner of the bar that he likes to frequent. When we are not economically invested in a country, it probably doesn't stand a chance.

Apart from global interested, I am thinking about going to see the movie Coraline this weekend. It has been getting great revues and I am very partial to the more traditional stop motion animation that the film imbibes. The movie is based on a book by Neil Gaiman (which is a good thing) and directed by Henry Selick (also a good thing). Gaiman wrote the film Mirrormask (about a girl that discovers a new world beyond her wildest dreams) which wasn't too bad. While Selick has directed such films as The Nightmare Before Christmas (about a skeleton that discovers a new world beyond his wildest dreams), James and the Giant Peach (about a young boy who discovers a world beyond his wildest dreams), and Monkeybone (about a man who discovers a new world beyond his wildest dreams).

This semester should be better than the last because instead of getting colder, it should just be getting warmer from here on out. I don't really care for the time between January and April. There is a part of me that wishes I could just retreat to Florida for the winter.

Speak easy,

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Waist Deep In Genocide

I am currently waist deep in a report on the Rwandan genocide. This week has been a little hectic for me, regarding homework and reading assignments. Tomorrow I do plan on updating the blog on a daily basis again. I just thought, with all things considered, that my mind could use a rest.

In Russia they have a capsule that only dissolves if it comes in contact with alcohol. It is the only way they can truly control alcohol consumption. It kills you.

I learned that my name in Russian is spelled "нил", which is also how you spell "Nile", as in the river. Coincidentally, the German pronunciation of my name is also "Nile".

Speak easy,

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Adventures In Photography

I helped Lev construct this photography studio box today. It allows you to take a picture of small objects in a white atmosphere (complete with even 3-point soft lighting). In order to get all of the lights to work for the box, we had to jury rig* the lights to make everything line up properly.

* Jury rigging refers to makeshift repairs or temporary contrivances, made with only the tools and materials that happen to be on hand. Originally a nautical term, on sailing ships a jury rig is a replacement mast and yards improvised in case of damage or loss of the original mast. - Wikipedia

This picture of a calculator is an example of what the box allows you to do. There is soft shadows and no overbearing light source. Not too shabby.

This evening we also decided that we are going to try and convert the area underneath my bed (currently being used for television and drying clothing) into a fully functional darkroom. It has been about a year since I have developed any black and white 35mm so I am itching to get my hands wrist deep in developer once again.

For anyone interested, here is a list of all of the cost of supplies (shipping and handling included) to make this happen...

- Photo Paper ($49.99 + $8.00)
- Trays ($4.99 x 3.00)
- Photo Reel Canister ($6.99 + $8.00)
- Enlarger ($15.99 + $20.00)
- Timer ($10.00 + $10.00)
- Contrast Filters ($6.00 + $5.00)
- Dark Room Light ($10.00)
- Chem Seal Container ($1.95 x 4 + $5.00)
- Film Developer ($6.95 + $5.00)
- Paper Developer ($9.69 + $5.00)
- Film & Paper Fixer ($19.95 + $5.00)
- Tongues ($3.00 x 3)

The total should set us both back a little over a hundred dollars but it will totally be worth it. We are thinking of selling framed prints at about $20 a piece. The price, comparable to most original framed prints, is actually incredibly inexpensive. All we wish to do is make sure that the darkroom is capable of paying for itself.

This is a blue print of what I envision for my allotted workspace.

If you are unfamiliar with darkroom photography, I will try to elaborate. The object in the left hand corner is the enlarger. It holds the blank piece of photo paper and the negative (or image that you would like to use) and projects the negative onto the paper. Once you have exposed the paper to the image, you take the paper (without exposing it to light) and drown it in four different trays of liquid. After this process is complete, you hang the picture up to dry.

I splurged on a haircut today. It was worth it.

Speak easy,

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Homeless Ducktons

The windows reflected off of an office building onto a brick wall and it looked like magic.

There are still plenty of birds and squirrels that have made it through the harsher parts of this winter. The reason they don't leave is because people still feed them. I can't image they enjoy the weather all that much but they are still alive. The animals left behind remind me a lot of the homeless people that walk the streets and ask for change.

I did finish watching Funny Games last night and would have to say that it's another one of those movies that is difficult to recommend. Naomi Watts, Michael Pitt, and whoever played the kid in the movie were phenomenal.

Three months ago today I started blogging. I think I may go back and read everything that I've posted up to this point. Half the time I don't think about writing, I just think while writing.

The first item to ever be auctioned off on ebay was a broken laser pointer.

"I am at the top of the food chain, and I am going to eat everything below me."
- Lev just said this in response to his friend who is a vegetarian.

Speak easy,

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mistakes Men Make: Part II

The following is a continuation of yesterdays list of mistakes men general make in the dating world. A list I acquired from this website.

6. Not "Getting" How Attraction works For Women.

What Does This Mean?: Women are not as conventionally shallow as men are.

- First off I would like to draw attention to all of the improperly placed quotations marks implemented in the titles of these mistakes. How do they change how you read the title in any way? Are they implying something? Are they quoting someone? There are superficial women and superficial men. The article implies that the Woody Allen syndrome applies to anyone with two X chromosomes.

7. Thinking That It Takes Money And Looks.

What does this Mean?: Women are more attracted to a man's personality than his looks or money.

- These mistakes seem to be getting a little redundant. Some people find good looks and money an attractive quality in a person. I would have to say that there are plenty of women that would give up their husbands for a chance with George Clooney.

8. Giving Away All Of Your Power To Women.

What does this mean?: Men let women walk all over them. Women hate it.

- I don't really understand the whole power dynamic. A real relationship takes agreement and sacrifices. Did one of the Wonder Twins have two rings? No. They each had a ring and they each had something to bring to the table. Also, I would like to add that some women do like it when they have complete control over the relationship. I also feel like this power struggle stuff doesn't happen all that often.

9. Not Knowing EXACTLY What To Do In Each Type Of Situation With Women.

What does that mean?: Women know exactly what men are thinking at all times. If you don't anticipate every move you make, you will be lost.

- Women get nervous and confused just like men do. The only difference is the pressure is often on the man to make the first move. That is just the dichotomy. With a little bit of confidence (or, if you don't have any, you can use alcohol as a substitute) and intuition everything should be fine. If you're not sure, try dropping little hints maybe.

10. Not Getting Help.

What does that mean?: If you buy the author's book and subscribe to his newsletter, you too can date models, actresses, or even the girl next door.

- The biggest mistake a man can make is to not buy a self help book? And this coming from the author of said book. The thing that intrigues me about this is that the website exists and I assume that there are people will pay any amount of money to become someone else. A better version of themselves. Someone that can get the girl he wants even if he is poor and ugly. Be confident, be comfortable, be yourself. If she's interested and you're interested, something will probably happen.

Finding your better half is like shopping for a pair of shoes (and I apologize for sounding like Carrie Bradshaw). You want comfort and looks. You would like something reasonable. If it fits, it fits. For the last 6 years I have been buying the same pair of Pumas over and over again. I don't know if that means anything.

I'm probably going to wrap up the evening by watching the movie Funny Games, which is very un-Valentines day but since when do holidays have to feel like holidays? The best days are the ones that surprise you (and the worst days too, come to think of it).

If this was an event in the summer Olympics, I would most definitely tune in.

Speak easy,

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mistakes Men Make: Part I

This is an advertisement that I came across while I was on Facebook.

The image links you to this website. In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I would go through the website's list of "dangerous mistakes" that men make when pursuing the ladies.

1. Being Too Much of a "Nice Guy"

What does that mean?: Being nice doesn't make a women choose you because when a guy is nice, he does not make them feel a gut level attraction.

- I think that most people confuse being nice with having a lack of confidence. For the most part, people are attracted to people that display a certain level of confidence. I am not specifically talking about someone with an A personality, but someone that is comfortable enough in their own skin. On the topic of "nice", well...there is absolutely a variety of different people with a variety of different tastes and preferences. Some women are incredibly attracted to nice guys or fat guys or old guys or guys with glasses or guys with piercings.

2. Trying To "Convince Her to Like You".

What does that mean?: You can't convince a girl to like you.

- I completely agree with this sentiment, but I do think that people can change their opinions on an individual. You can't really convince someone to feel a certain way, but you can just be yourself and maybe, over time, the opposite sex will warm up to you. Like everything else, friendships and relationships are a process. Humans latch on to the idea of putting things in boxes. The best way to grow something is organically. I may be completely wrong though. I read an article the other day that said that it is completely conceivable that humans may be able to live forever by inserting their mind into a computer data base (something that may happen in my lifetime).

3. Looking To Her For Approval or Permission

What does that mean?: Women hate kiss ups.

- This just reminds me of the aforementioned mistake that referenced guys that act "too nice". Just don't "act". If you put on some sort of weird persona around her and she actually does latch on to that in a favorable manner, how long can you really keep that up? If you are around someone long enough you will inevitably reveal to them who you really are. The person that you start a relationship with is almost never the person of whom you end that relationship.

4. Trying to "Buy" Her Affection With Food and Gifts.

What does that mean?: Women consider spending too much money on them a form of manipulation or compensation.

- It's not a bad idea to spend some money on a date as long as you don't do it too much or too often.

5. Sharing "How You Feel" Too Early In The Relationship.

What does that mean?: Attractive women are a rare species that get hit on a lot and are very experienced (according to the text). Telling an attractive women you like them is a huge turn off.

- This harks back to what I mentioned before, about how all people are different and that not everyone thinks or acts the same way. If you want to tell someone how you feel, that's great. Whatever. If you are in a relationship with them and they can't handle it, that's their problem. Don't come on too strong, but don't keep everything bottled up just because the internet tells you this is the best way to score unattainable women.

Today I started working in the mail room. The guy that trained me described the job as "something a monkey could do". It's a fairly easy position.

Speak easy,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is Your Heart Protected?

Snakes smell with their tongues and think with their stomachs. Go figure.

Apparently they don't make emotional condoms. That makes me sad.

The literal Russian to English translation of the word cousin is "Second Brother/Sister".

In my peripheral vision I see a nun sitting at one of the circular tables eating a sandwich. My thought process goes something like this...
...hey, it's a nun having breakfast.
...she looks kind of ugly.
...that nun's a man
...oh, that's right, it's Halloween.

I spent my Halloween watching Kid Nation and Curb Your Enthusiasm.


Only eight days of classes left until I have to take my finals. My vacation to Moldova couldn't come soon enough. Mariana couldn't get a visa to meet me in Romania, so this cowboy is going to have to find his way from the Bucharest airport to the Bucharest train station. It seems simple but this is in a country where English is not the primary language. On top of that I will be in a state of sleep deprivation and general confusion.
I went to Andrew's last Saturday for a house party (drinks consisted of Mountain Dew and Mug root beer), and I was happy to be around normal, functioning people. It made me more determined than ever to transfer out of Umass Dartmouth.


It is currently around 7 a.m. and I have only slept for a few hours. In twelve hours I will be boarding a plane to Romania (with a layover in Amsterdam) and then get on a bus to get to Moldova. It's all very nerve racking/exciting/exhausting. I've never traveled alone, and additionally, have never really traveled. Oh well. I'm just hoping I come back alive.


Just some exerts from an old blog that I pretty much neglected from the start. The only way I can manage a blog is if I update on a daily basis. That's just the kind of person I am. Actually, this afternoon I checked Wikipedia to see if I possibly have an acute case of Autism. I don't. :(

Instead of doing my French homework I have been watching old episodes of Jake and Amir. C'est la vie.

Speak easy,

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Beautiful As The Sun Mix

I bought a loofah sponge today. Well, I didn't technically buy it. When I was purchasing my toiletries at the CVS, the girl behind the counter forgot to scan the sponge. My hypothesis is that she was either (A) fatigued from holding a job while in college, or (B) she was simply enamored by my presence. For the sake of my self esteem, I am going to side with the latter. It is human nature to be at least a little self involved. Besides, you are the center of your own universe whether you like it or not. I believe that everyone should own a loofah.

Lev took this picture of me today. For some reason I neglected to put on a tie today. That is so unlike me. Anyway, his camera is totally fantastic and I am probably going to buy a higher end model Kodak once I start working this summer.

Yesterday Lev called customer support to see if he could get his phone to receive pictures again. The operator took this picture of his desk and sent it to Lev as a test run.

In one of my Comparative Literature classes I am reading a book on the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. It is nothing short of depressing. The following is an exert from the text about a woman who is trying to avoid being raped and killed.

"I'm too beautiful to survive. I'm as beautiful as the sun, and like the sun there's nowhere for me to hide. They won't believe their eyes when they see me peacefully walking down the street."

-Murambi: Book of Bones by Boubacar Boris Doip

Generation X had the
mix tape.
Generation Y had the burned CD.
Generation Z has
the playlist.

Speak easy,

P.S - If anyone wants to make a 'Beautiful As The Sun' Mix, post it in the comment section. I would love to hear it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

and I shove her aside, she falls down the porch steps

Today, while glancing through all of the partially read books that are gathering dust on my shelf, I realized that most of them have some sort of story behind them. Here they are...

I started Chuck Palahniuk's novel of short stories Haunted shortly after finishing Rant (arguably his most solid piece of fiction). It was around this time that I had intended to make a short animated music video for Architecture In Helsinki's One Heavy February, basing the artwork on characters and set design from the video game Katamari Damacy. Along with the Prince (main character of the game) and a katamari ball, there seems to be some notes on how to color specific areas of the image. I'm pretty sure the the video involved the Prince getting up and making a cup of coffee and once and a while cutting to him dancing.

The book that this Superbad ticket stub is holding a place within is Run With The Hunter, an anthology of assorted texts by Charles Bukowski. A year and a half ago I was working for a few weeks at Camp Farley working Recreation and Arts and Crafts. I remember one time specifically where I took out most of the supplies that were left in the Arts and Crafts cabin and put them in the center of a table of ten year olds. "Today we are making stuff." They glued googly eyes to pieces of construction paper while I sat on a nearby counter listening to Hellogoodbye, reading exerts from Ham on Rye.

The ticket stub is another story. What happened was my girlfriend at the time, Mariana, asked me if we could go to the Greek Orthodox Church after she got out of work. She is from Moldova and had not made it to church since she had arrived in America on a work Visa. For some reason I was unable to accrue transportation to Hyannis, so I asked her if she would like to go on a double date with our friends Mike and Jackie. After the movie was over I asked her what she thought. "Now I understand why people do not like America." Is all she really had to say about it.

Months later I told her how awful I felt for dragging her to the film and she said that she watched the movie again and liked it and that I shouldn't feel bad. I did end up taking her to church if you really want to know. It was really beautiful.

This bookmark is a small calendar advertisement for a Moldovan mall that I never went to. I am not sure exactly sure where in Moldova I acquired this, but it sure does make a good bookmark. It may interest you to take note on the odd (odd to us anyway) way in which they arrange the calendar. The weeks are arranger vertically instead of horizontally.

I did go to one mall in Chisinau, the Avon. It was kind of like a slightly nicer indoor flea market. My goal was to get a t-shirt with some sort of Romanian or Russian slogan on it. Turns out that the Moldovan people only buy shirts with English or German lettering. The closest thing I could find was a great CCCP rugby shirt for 150 lei (about 16.5 USD).

This polaroid is holding my place in Lolita, the book I won in this year's Yankee Swap. I found this picture on July 24th 2006, waiting for the 6th Harry Potter book to released on the second floor of the Barnes & Noble at the Cape Cod Mall. More often than not, I will pick up discarded or lost items in hopes of finding something invaluable.

When sit down and think about it, most of the little objects within my dorm that orbit my being throughout the day have some sort of story. Narratives and stories fill in empty gaps. They explain what is often left unexplained. They give something meaning.

“Both Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people… The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”

- Stephen King on Stephenie Meyer

Speak easy,

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Guidelines For the Contemporary Gentleman

Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but it is also the most dangerous. This morning I threw up after breakfast because I ate earlier than I normally do. The pressure that the vomiting put on my face caused a pretty nasty nosebleed. The whole excursion caused me to be five minutes late for my first day on the job. Luckily I have the key to the office and I am the only one working on Monday morning.

The problem of eating on an empty stomach is best explained by Carl Pilkington in the following video.

"I mailed off your "Rolling Stone" magazine (well, it will go out in tomorrow's mail). I also put in an envelope with $5. It's not much but maybe you can buy a coffee, do a load of laundry, etc."
~ My Mom

Dear Mom,
Although I make my own coffee and do my laundry by hand, I am in no way in any sort of financial crisis. It is just the way I run my life. Thank you for being concerned. I appreciate it. :)

This is a picture of the last LAN. My expression in the picture just about sums up how I feel about the activity. I don't hate it, I just like everything about it except for the actual video game playing.

I am really busy with readings and homework this evening so I thought now would be a good a time as any to post the 'Guidelines for the Contemporary Gentleman' list I have been working on. If anyone has any suggestions (and I know there will be some), please post them in the comment section.

Guidelines For the Contemporary Gentleman

1. Adopt and consider the virtues set forth by Benjamin Franklin.
2. Be trained in classical piano as well as one other instrument.
3. Be fluent in at least two languages.
4. Own a suite for every occasion.
5. Throw an annual dinner party. (Cooking the food, making the drinks, supplying a nice and clean abode.
6. Treat all with equal respect (especially the elderly, the young, and the stupid).
7. Keep in peak physical condition.
8. Be well traveled (at least 3 continents and 8 countries).
9. Have a general knowledge of the literary canon.
10. Own a fish tank.

I would also like to add the disclaimer that I am not, at the moment, a contemporary gentleman. However, it is something to work towards.

Speak easy,

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Trash Only

This semester I have decided to do all of my laundry in my dorm room rather than spending the $2.50 that it costs to do my laundry in the washer/dryer.

Take that, trash can! I'll put whatever I want in you!

Jim told me that if you press the coin return button and fling a penny into the coin return slot, that the machine counts it as a quarter. This means that a load of laundry could potentially cost about ten cents. Although, washing my cloths the old fashioned is a lil bit* titillating and just a smidgen cathartic.

*These are some of the images that show up if you type "lil bit" into Google images...

-Scary Cat (not for the faint of heart)

- Millie Jackson Album

- Potentially looks like a couple (the more I look at this, the more it weirds me out. Armpit hair? Maybe. Not sure if that girl is old enough to be with that guy. Scandalous?)

- Logo with girl that looks like Katy Perry

- Creepy guy forces woman to awkwardly sing karaoke.

- Let's Go! Broncos! Let's Go, Broncos! Let's Go!

- Asian that looks like celebrity African Americans?

- Space, the final frontier.

I don't have any clothes lines in my room so I have to make due with what I have.

These are all of the hats I have worn over the years. I went to a career counselor last year and she said that I will probably end up having about four different careers throughout my lifetime.

- Paper Boy
- Front End Employee at Super Market
- Produce Clerk (twice)
- Bat Mitzvah Photographer
- Assistant Archery Instructor
- Archery Instructor
- Arts and Crafts/Recreation Instructor
- Hotel Secretary
- Clerk at Brooks Pharmacy
- Large Appliance Installation Assistant
- Clerk at Rite Aid
- Babysitter
- Clerk at Cotuit Liquors
- Landscaper
- Clerk at Blockbuster
- Clerk at the Gap
- Cluster Office Employee/Mail Sorter

Speak easy,

Friday, February 6, 2009


Last night I watched the documentary King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters. It is a classic underdog story about a humble outsider and a pompous champion. The most interesting thing about the film is the classic video game subculture, composed of a few incredibly passionate individuals, that still exists to this day. If only more people were so dedicated. These men have jobs, they have wives and families, but they still devote so much time and energy in playing (what are popularly known as) outdated games. These games are primarily known to be a childish pastime. Games that people roll their eyes at. These are men that know who they are and know what they like.

The documentary featured prominently the gaming establishment Funspot, a roadside attaction that I visited on the way back from a hiking trip a few years back. The general atmosphere of the building was an odd mix of stale childhood, deep elation, and desperate nostalgia. We went in the middle of the day, on a weekday, and the place was fairly empty except for a few old gaming veterans.

The high score for the game is about one million points. I have been unable to cap 50,000.

There is an urban legend that the name Donkey Kong was a mistranslation of the original title, which is said to be Monkey Kong. This is not true. The creator chose the name Donkey Kong, implying a stubborn oafish character (like a donkey) that is akin to King Kong.

It turns out that I will be working 7 hours a week here on campus (3 at the the cluster office and 4 sorting mail). There is a part of me that is greatly relieved to know that I will have a weekly paycheck. But isn't that what we are all looking for?

Today I went to see Slumdog Millionaire again.

Speak easy,

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tout Le Monde

For my African Literature class I have been reading the novel Allah Is Not Obliged. Although it is a work of fiction, most of what occurs in the book is heavily rooted in reality. The story is of a 10-year old child-soldier from Côte d'Ivoire. Throughout the narrative, our hero (for lack of a better word) is surrounded by hard drugs, AK-47s, rape, sexual abuse, etc. It is totally eye opening, but leaves me with a real genuine blanketed helplessness. There's really no way for America or anyone else to prevent a lot of the genocide and sexual slavery and child-soldiering that goes on in the world.

The following is a list of things from the book that I found specifically unsettling...

- "The solution spontaneously comes to his lips in a simple slogan: 'no hands, no elections'. It was obvious: someone with no arms couldn't vote. All Foday Sonkah had to do was cut off the arms of as many people, as many of the citizens of Sierra Leone, as possible. Every Sierra Leone prisoner had his hands cut off before being sent back into the territory occupied by government forces. Foday gave the orders and methods and the orders and the methods were enforced. The 'long sleeve, short sleeve' policy was put into action. 'Short sleeve' was when you cut off the whole forearm; 'long sleeve' was when you cut off both hands at the wrist.

Amputations were rife, and they were carried out with no quarter, no mercy. If a woman showed up with a baby on her back, the woman's hands were amputated and the baby's hands too. It didn't matter how old the baby was on account of how you might as well amputate baby citizens because they'll be voters someday too."
(pg. 165)

The worst part of this section is that the armless were still able to vote. The whole endeavor resulted in pointless suffering.

-"You got no luck, little Birahima, you can never be a brave young lycaeon of the revolution. Your mother and your father [are] already dead, dead and buried. To be a brave young lycaeon of the revolution, you must kill with your bare hands (with your own hands, understand?), kill one of your own parents (mother and father), and only afterwards be initiated."
(pg. 174)

-There is one scene in which a girl child-soldier aggravates a boy child-soldier, who happens to be her boyfriend. The girl shoots the boy with an AK-47 but misses because she is so drugged up on hash. He responds by shooting her in the legs. They leave her behind to be eaten by the ants and vultures.


Since I am on the topic of world culture, here are a few interesting things about Moldova that really stuck out to me...

- Some people wear backpacks on the front so that Gypsies don’t steal slice open the bag and take their belongings. Gypsies. Not really something that most Americans have to deal with.

- People with severe mental disabilities just become shut ins. The families keep them inside most of the time because there are no programs or jobs for the mentally handicapped. They just stay quiet and try to pass for “normal”.

- Children can buy cigarettes but you must be 16 years old to buy alcohol and you can buy that just about anywhere (even McDonald's).

- If you get in a car accident, you are probably going to die. The ambulances take their time and the doctors, in general, are sub par at best.

- Religious shrines are incredibly commonplace.

- The money is about the size and consistency of Monopoly money. It comes in varying sizes and colors.

- Being gay is not really an option. It is considered one of the worst ways that one can shame their parents. This is the way that everyone is brought up.

- Contraceptives are not widely accepted. Because of the religious state of the Republic, most people wait until marriage and then have children right away. Pre-Marital Sex (or PMS, as I like to call it) is considerably frowned upon.

The Romanian currency is probably the most beautiful I have come across. It has a weird sudo-wax texture to it.

I have an interview tomorrow morning for an on campus job. The only real downside is that, to start, I will only get about 3 hours a week. Not too bad considering I currently don't make any money at all.

Bill Gates released a bunch of mosquitoes at a prestigious technology conference.

Tout Le Monde is French for "Everyone" (the literal translation being "All the world").

The nosebleeds are almost history. Thanks to Jim and Liz's mom for the suggestions.

Speak easy,

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

L'eau Rouge

Herpes is plural for herpum.

Over the last few days I have been getting some terrible nosebleeds. Last night I was leaning over my desk waiting for my nose to cease and desist for an hour and a half. At one point Lev recommended that I drip the blood into a cup so I can see the accumulation. Upon my nostril's ebb, I had a decent sized mug just about half full of l'eau rouge. When I attempted to poor the contents into the sink, it flopped down gweet like a can of cranberry sauce. It proceeded down the drain and I had to flick on the garbage disposal to get rid of it. Not a pretty sight. The end of this story, however, is a happy one. I bought some saline nasal spray, as Jim advised, and am on track for better days.

My dad told me previously that nasal spray only irritates the nostril. This was actually what happened with the bad, bad nosebleed. I started dropping the solution into my nose instead of forcing it, so everything is going well.

I did not update yesterday so I am inclied to reveal that I did watch Powerpuff Girls up until the beginning of my senior year of High School. One of my closet interests is animation. Before I wanted to do anything, I wanted to be an animator. When I have a working wacom tablet I will spend hours and hours animating individual frames. In a way animation is one of the purest art forms. There is an artist behind every single every inch of the image, from first frame to last, and nothing exists outside the field of vision. The product is a culmination of so many different talents and art forms.

Speak easy,

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Old, The Young, and The Oligarkh

I just got back from a poetry reading. The speaker was Tomaz Salamun. He was an older, gracious gentlemen. He spoke softly and genuine. Someday I will be old and will finally be able to always speak from the heart.

The following is a poem of his that was translated from Slovenian.
The Man I Respected
by Tomaz Salamun

When I returned from Mexico, I looked like
death. My mouth collapsed
and disintegrated. I was paying a penalty
for my sins, my palate had dissolved.
I could touch my brain with my tongue.
It was painful, horrible and sweet.
While Svetozar sat outside in the waiting room,
I tore down the instrument case.
No, I am not being precise: he left the office
before me, I only suspected who he was, I didn’t even
know him. When I sat in the chair,
my energy tore down the instrument case.
To pass from world to world
means an earthquake. Yesterday he died.

English majors mosh over micro-brews and upper shelf baked goods.

On the way home it was snowing. The kind of light snow that rolls down your arm and only fully reveals itself in street lamps. I know that all snowflakes are different but they all looked the same to me. Still beautiful.

This week for my film class I watched Tycoon: A New Russian. It is a little like a contemporary Russian Citizen Cane, but with a little more intrigue. I would recommend adding it to your Netflix queue.

Although the computer for every child movement sounds like a good idea, I believe that the last thing children need are personal computers. Most kids will just use a computer for 1) video games, 2) instant messenger/social networking sites, and 3) Pornography. Children need to be guided, not stricken with choices and power. A great alternative program would be to create more Internet cafés.

Instead of doing homework today I spent most of my time tending to nose bleeds. There were three total and altogether drowned an hour and a half of my time. If anyone has any recommendations on how to prevent nosebleeds, please send them my way.

Speak easy,