Thursday, December 23, 2010

Atlas Shrugged

This will likely be the first in a series of posts about Atlas Shrugged. I started reading Ayn Rand's tome in August but due to the advent of Fall Semester I was forced to pause my mental feast until Christmas break.

First things first, how was it?

A.S. is a 1000+page, 3-part novel about what happens when the great men charged with the burden of carrying the world on their shoulders refuse to perform their task. These are the industrialists, the men of the minds, the inventors, the great minds that shape the progress of stability of society.

At its focus is Dagny Taggart, the operating vice president of the Taggart Transcontinental Railroad empire, and second-in-command only to her incompetent brother James due to her gender. James and his buddies in government and various positions of social power have taken it upon themselves, in grand democratic tradition, to right the wrongs that a free market inevitably imposes on those who are less capable and are endowed with less means by enacting social programs that rob the rich and give to the poor. Or at least, that's what they will tell you their doing.

In all actuality, they create programs that allow them to continue as non-contributing zeros while the giants of industry support them in their ineptitude.

As more and more good men find it impossible to make a living under such insurmountable government meddling the economy begins to fracture and society as whole begins to disintegrate as capable men seem to be disappearing off the face of the earth. All the while, Dagny's unconquerable dedication to her railroad and the preservation of something she can't quite define drive her to continue laboring while the country itself dies.

That is the most basest level, and its hard to recap the other plethora of levels to this book without becoming long-winded. Simply put, you just gotta read it.

A.S. is Rand's love letter to capitalism, the free market, and human will. She creates a world where man's reward is garnered by his need rather than his merit and the disastrous consequences of such a dogma. In it, society is divided into 3 groups: the looters, who seek to gain without having deserved anything; the strikers, brilliant men who society attempts to destroy while simultaneously riding on their shoulders; and the comman man, incapable of scientific greatness, but able to appreciate the efforts of others and give an honest labor and appreciation to those that have made luxury in the world possible.

It is thought-provoking, frustrating and heavy stuff, and Rand doesn't not rush through the events. Instead, she takes full advantage of the pages to draw out the suffering consequences of a single government action, political maneuver, and tragic accident to the point that you, the reader, want to scream at the characters to open their eyes.

But what's more, is that even in the frame of a blatantly obvious allegory, Rand creates a feeling of genuine terror as the men in her novel seem all-too-familiar, and their ideas all-too-recognizable in the world around us. The same arguments about unfair advantages and undeserved hardships that social progressives use today to draft policies of hope and change are all present in A.S. and slowly contribute to the destruction of the modern world.

Extreme? Yes. And even for members of the choir, like myself, Rand's preaching can come off a bit heavy-handed at times. Still, the brilliance of A.S. is just how simple it is. When men are rewarded for incompetence, what motivation is there to be great? And when men lose the desire to be great, how can society thrive, continue, or even survive?

Few novels have changed the way that I look at the world, but I suspect that I'll be thinking about A.S. for the rest of my life. A-

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tron: Movie Review

Since the christmas break has officially begun I can't really say that I don't have time to blog. So, to start things off I figured I'd get back to my roots and do a movie review.

For those of you who have not partaken of the visual/campy ecstasy that is Disney's Tron (the old one) all you really need to know is that computer wiz-kid Kevin Flynn gets pulled into a cyber world where programs are personified and attempts to bring down the evil Master Control program that has turned the digital world into his own serf-filled empire. On the way Flynn participates in some gladiator-esque games, rides around on a light cycle and enlists the help of a program named Tron whose sole purpose is to fight for the "users" (digital lingo for human beings).

The film (made in 1982) was a failure of colossal proportions (think: Gigli) and in time thanks to the advent of kids on pot and fanboys obsessions with all things trippy, the movie has gained a mass following of cult fans (a la Tremors).

Which brings us to 2010 and Tron Legacy.

We find Sam Flynn (son of Kevin) essentially orphaned (his father vanished some 17 years earlier) and enjoying the simple life while raking in the benefits of being majority shareholder of his father's company without the responsibility of having to actually run the thing. After a mysterious page from Daddy's abandoned arcade, Sam goes a snooping and gets (you guessed it) miraculously pulled into a digital world where programs are personified. It doesn't take long before he's picked up by the program authorities and (wouldn't you know it) forced to participate in gladiator-style games. Turns out the new boss in town is a program named CLU, made in the image of Sam's father, who as it turns out, was trapped in the digital world years earlier by CLU, and now father and son must work together with the help of the ludicrously attractive Oliva Wilde, a program that Kevin has taken under his wing, to stop CLU from dastardly plans and return to the real world.

Tron Legacy is, simultaneously, sequel and remake to Tron. While the story line has been cronologically extended to fall in a narrative line. The basic plot structure and development mirror the first film in all-too-familiar ways. Man enters world, plays gladiator games, joins up with help on the inside, hops aboard a weird train/umbrella transport thing and comes to a climatic close at vertical pillar of light with man holding his magic frisbee up in the air. They are essentially the same movie, only the new version has the digital advantages of today to make up for the weaknesses of the first film. Instead of some laughable comic book feel, the sight and sound of Tron Legacy is an absolute delight, one that (for me) made up for the weak storyline.

In the end, this movie was exactly what I expected. Many in my group vehemently detested this film but I walked away entertained and look forward to what this series will do after Tron Legacy makes its expected millions. In an ideal world, I would have loved a little more inception-esque head scratching that this digital world could potentially provide, but I was satisified with the high octane cg-feast to the smooth pump of Daft Punk. It may have run a little long in some scenes, but Tron Legacy is escapism film at its purest, taking you to a whole new world and filling it with beautiful things. B

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sorority Row

15. Go through the tunnels
16. Go into one of the Sorority houses
17. Kiss a girl who smokes (I could live without completing this one)

I've been talking about this for four years and finally, today I went inside one of the sorority houses. One of my sports writers needed to borrow a recorder from one of my features writers (who lives in the Alpha Chi Omega abode) so I went along with them.

It wasn't exactly the magical event that I imagined would carry me through the threshold but it works. No underwear pillow fighting going on. It was actually quite nice and homey inside. I think a girl was playing hymns on the piano. HYMNS! Such a learning experience. I just might go back sometime.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sporty Spice

After 3 months in the big chair I decided to finally try my hand at some sports photography. Actually, our usual guy tapped out last minute and the game was in Provo so I just went ahead and grabbed it.

Shooting games is not easy. I probably took 500 pictures and walked away with maybe a dozen that were usable. I'm a rookie, and my focus kept going onto the crowd. I have some really awesome, albeit blurry, action shots. *Sigh*

I hate Jimmer. I didn't know anything about him going into our game against BYU and even when I was sitting on the court shooting this guy named Fredette kept getting in my view with his dumb, cocky face. I didn't put 2 and 2 together till the game was over.

I really like that last one. Growing up with a mother obsessed with pictures of peoples backs may have affected my tastes slightly. And (below) Stew is the man.

The next week was our last home football game so I took our spare pass and went to get some more practice. Basketball was hard, football was harder. With more than twice as many players in action and a whole lot going on during the plays it was really hard to get a decent shot. Plus, even after borrowing my photo editor's monster lens, I still needed something a little bigger.

Diondre doin' what he does best: scramblin'.

That shot didn't work out quite right but it looked really funny to me with the two refs chatting while the cheerleaders just stood there for a few minutes in their monk-esque white ponchos. Something went wrong because after literally just standing like that, they ran off the field without cheering.

Coach Anderson, maybe next year. *Sigh*

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Movie Madness

As is my nature during long holidays, I went home to Huntsville for the break and in the space of 2 days watched 4 new movies. (Notice that I'm only counting the NEW movies that I watched). I'm having trouble finding it but somewhere on this blog is a post where I watched 5 movies in 3 days. (Kite runner was one of them, can't remember the rest).

So, on turkey day itself we gorged ourselves with baked goods and headed to

1. Morning Glory

Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first: Rachel McAdams is smoking hot. As I've said in the past I would love nothing more than to Mac her Adams and it was just as true during this movie.

The film deals with Cuty McCuteface being hired on as the Executive Producers of the last-place TV morning show "Daybreak." She inherites an underbudgeted production with an pervert anchor with a foot fetish (brilliantly portrayed, as always, by the sensational Ty Burrell) who she quickly dispatches and replaces with grumpy-old-man Harrision Ford who is described as the third-worst person alive (numbers one and two being Kim Jong Ill and Angela Lansbury).

The plot is predictable: girl has 6 weeks to save show before it goes off the air, meets an attractive co-worker but has trouble balancing her work and personal life, Mr. Grouch has to soften up in order to be the show's missing ingredient. That said, the show does bring a few aspects of originality to it, on the forefront is the decline of hard news in modern journalism and the attempt to balance entertainment fluff with hard-hitting information (a subject that hits me at the heart). The film also boasts a soundtrack ripped straight from my iPod (Collin Hay and Paulo Nuttini) and a heft dose of McAdams in her underwear, which makes up for how annoying Diane Keaton is. B

2. Danny Deckchair

First off, Rhys Ivans is freakin crazy. In case you're a little weak on your pop knowledge of lesser-known Australian actors, Ivans is the crazy roommate from Notting Hill (There's something wrong with this yogurt), or the crazy kicker from The Replacements (ole, ole-ole-ole), or crazy Mr. Lovegood from HP7.1.

I had heard about this movie year's ago but had never quite gotten around to it. Basically, Danny ties a bunch of balloons to a folding chair and flies off into the Australian countryside, leaving his life behind (before you ask, YES, this movie was made before both Up and the Balloon Boy fiasco). He crash lands in the backyard of a soft-spoken civil servant (played by LOTR's Miranda Otto) and assumes the identity of a visiting professor.

There's nothing particularly astounding about DD, but it has the same quirky-awesomeness of othor low key foreign gems like Waking Ned Divine. You end up just feeling good during this movie and get some pretty good laughs along the way. B+

3. The Next Three Days

It might be because I don't listen to the radio or watch television (thank you Cache Valley and Hulu) but I hadn't really heard anything about this movie. It got a decent review in EW and I was at least aware that Russel Crowe had a break-his-wife-out-of-prison movie on the radar, but I was surprised at how not-marketed this movie seemed to be.

Pity, because it's pretty good.

Crowe is a community college professor and family man. His wife is the hot-in-a-not-in-your-face-way Elizabeth Banks who about 6 minutes into the movie gets arrested and subsequently convicted of murder. Three years pass and her stay in prison as a guilty woman is pretty much a done deal. Crowe then, as the loyal pie in the sky husband starts devising a plan to bust her out of the joint illiciting the help of prison-break-extraordinaire Liam Neeson (in one, great Neeson scene).

Most of the movie is his preperation, stressing the lonliness yet unfailing attitude of raising his son on his own and providing just enough screen time to the freakishly attractive Olivia Wilde in supporting start. We watch as Crowe's simpleton good-guy starts to dive into the criminal world as he tries to acquire the fake identification and funds he'll need (including a few handy how-to-be-a-criminal videos from YouTube that make you wonder, Would that really work?).

It take s a little too long to get to the action but it is building and building, then hits. Act III of the movie is all prison-break and running from the law with a hefty share of "how's he gonna get out of this?" moments that approach incredulity but under the guided hand of director Paul Haggis (Crash) never fall of the pit into the ludicrous. Every time he's in a corner, he finds a "so simple it's brilliant" way through, although taken as a whole it seems like a little too much good luck but not till the credits are rolling and you're on your feet. B

4. Toy Story 3

I realize that I'm probably the last person on earth to not have seen this movie so thanks to some black Friday deals ($10 at walmart) my family obtained a copy (2 actually) and I was able to watch it (I don't watch cartoons in theaters, usually).

Pixar movies come with their share of hype but rarely disappoint (I thought Up was so-so)
and TS3 was no exception. Great animation, great jokes, and a little tugging at the old heartstrings. I did not cry though, so take that all you girly men out there (I probably would've gotten choked up, though, if I hadn't been using every ounce of cinema-watching strength in me to keep my emotions in check).

Still, does anyone else think it's messed up that they took Little Bo Peep away? I mean, she's Woody's girl, that's so not cool. Typical for women though, to disappear once things start getting serious. A- (Just because I can't give a cartoon an A).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cleaning The Sink

3. Become a true Aggie one more time
4. Clean the sink (again)
5. Sleep in my office

Not much else to say about this one. We rounded up the gang and got our sink-cleaning on. Probably the most fun you can have with 10 bucks and a sweet tooth. BTW, these pictures were taken on a camera phone, hence the odd red hue on everybody and the general grain. Also BTW, I really don't have multiple chins, apparently I bury my face in my neck when I smile for pictures. I'm working on this.

My boy Tyler was a sink virgin. Awww they grow up so fast.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Music Videos

I never had cable when I was a kid. We were an analog family. We still are an analog family. I was never aware of the world of music videos. I would see the odd thing here and there at friends houses, then after the advent of the internet I would look up my favorite songs online and by the time I got cable my freshman year in college my roommates had a standing rule of not watching anything besides sports center – and apparently, not washing their dishes, a rule my current roommates follow.

So, my exposure to music video has been limited to my own intentional hunting and finding. Generally speaking, videos ruin songs. Just this week in the office a Muse video – good band despite their involvement with the Twilight movies, though I don't appreciate them as much as I used to – came on where teddy bears or gingerbread men – it was hard to tell – emerged from the ground and terrorized a city. Yeah, not the mental image that I had associated with that song.

Still, there is the occasional video that perfectly blends mood, meaning, and melody to make an audio-visual explosion of the brain. Here are two of my choices (note: there may be an ad before they start).

1. Best of You: Foo Fighters.

Curtain opens to a tight shot of Dave Grohls mouth literrally hugging his microphone and then the dam burst to a relentless emotionally-charged marthon of image and sound. Best of you, indeed.

2. Where are you: Our Lady Peace

Unfotunately, the embedding code has been disabled by request and I don't have the time to hunt down a different version so, really, click here to watch. Really, click it, it's awesome. From the opening seconds of a seemingly-German military march to a circle of African dancers jumping in slow motion, the video blends a dozen different styles and movements into one concrete room with a relentless drive. Fantastic. Seriously, click the link, and watch it.

It's no coincidence that both of these videos are loud, fast, grunge. I can get my slow-music on but it doesn't make for good video. Video needs speed and pulsating beat, driving the music into you temple like the drip of water at a Chinese POW camp.

It's also no coincidence that both these videos are, for the most part, performance based. I don't need stop-motion skeletons (The Killers) or Candyland breasts squirting foam (Katy Perry). I don't need men in gorrilla suits (Bloodhound Gang) or any other gymick. I watch the video because I love the song and the visual elements should only enhance the sound, not distract from it.

So, Woodstockers, what's your favorite music video?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One of my favorite places

We were coming off the tail end of an Indian Summer here in Logan last week. Dark clouds were on the horizon so I grabbed my camera and headed to the Logan River trail for one last stroll.

This trail has always been one of my happy places. I used to jog laps on it's one-mile track when I was training for my half-marathon, in the summer we rope swing into the river, and last Valentine's Day Katie and I went there for a little bundled-up romantic walk.

And yes, I'm a country boy and sometimes I need fresh air and the sound of running water.

Fall is my favorite season, and Logan handles it fairly well. Even with a comfortable amount of urban sprawl you still manage to preserve some raw nature and farmland. The weather this year made for some great colors since we got more than the typical two-week buffer between summer and winter.

All talk of the season aside, it was a great walk that my Cannon Rebel and I had. We were interrupted by the occasional geriatric lovers and matching-shirt-clad family portraiteers, but all in all I cleared my head, which I was going to need clear for the ensuing weekend.

Check it out, TWIN benches :->

Friday, November 5, 2010

Midnight Ramblings

I'm ok, it's just a blog.

I think about death sometimes. Not in the pubescent "girl with a razor blade" sense, but in the logical sense. The academic sense. I look down the road ahead of me and read the road signs of crime, accident, decay and disease along with the signs of the times proclaiming the end of days with its tempests, earthquakes and rumors of wars.

The pendulum is poised and ready to swing, and the road ahead is long.

If all men die, and if I am sure to die then why not now? Would it really be better to take the risk of life? If my eyes do not open tomorrow I leave behind grieving parents, siblings and acquaintances. Yet, in that scene there is no weeping widow, there are no hungry children. There is no hurt that will not pass and no life that will go on hindered. No debts to be paid, no ripple in the vast sea of human existence.

There was a dream that was Rome, and I had a dream that was you. I would come home from work to find you waiting. We would fall into each others arms, cooing lullabies and drift to sleep. We would have the world at our feet and a song in our head and no one to share it with but ourselves. But you are not here waiting, you never were. You never said you would be and yet from the sands in a child's hand I built a castle with turrets, spires, and impenetrable walls.

You think I'm talking about you. I'm not. I'm talking about something more than you.

If death is a symbol then I awoke one day to realize that I was lying in my grave, waiting for the diggers to begin. I blame you, and I blame myself. In the end it was only me and yet somewhere between hello and goodbye I was deceived. You convinced me to break my rules and then left me broken. You brought down my guard, needlessly, without purpose, and now I'm here.

So I wear black; because it looks good and because it feels right. Inside and out, a cold, distant and efficient man.

But he laughs, and he cries, and he looks great in his skin. He pays his taxes and mows the lawn. Do they see what happens when the door is closed, as he lies awake counting the stars? Do they see that no one is waiting, no lullaby is sung? Then again, should there be? Because the man in black has always been alone, he prefers it that way. He sees things not in how they are seen but in a way that only he understands, and only he cares. The trees fall but no one hears a sound.

And the clock ticks. It never stops, nor should it, nor will it. He hears its tick and he watches as the distance approaches with both darkness and light. He ties his shoes and wiggles his toes and takes a sharp breath devouring the air. Walking along he asks himself "If I had stopped to listen...would I be on this road tonight?"

No matter. There's a storm ahead, and a storm behind but where he stands its only cloudy. The weather man says it'll soon be sun, but why bother, it's nice here and what the hell does a weatherman know. So he stops, in the median, and thinks about death. In the academic sense.

Monday, November 1, 2010

An Exerpt/100th post

Apparently this is Wood's Stock post number 100. I feel very accomplished, especially since my side project Wood Vs. Willis fizzled out at 27.

In a perfect world I would have planned something epic for number 100 but since I haven't posted in a while I'm anxious to get something up. So, here's the opening scene of a short fiction story I'm working on for an English class.

As you may notice, there's a little bit of "Art imitating life" here, but in my opinion all fiction is auto-biographical. Burroway wrote that you love some of your characters because they remind you of yourself, and you hate other characters for the same reason.


Brent sat facing an empty desk. He tapped his foot on the floor and thought about the phone calls he needed to make. Outside, the sun was rising and the rays hit the blinds at just the right angle to enter the otherwise dimly lit room and produce a soft orange glow. Behind him the door shut, and he heard Mike walking back towards him.

“You know why I called you in here?” Mike asked slipping into his leather chair.

“I do.” He did.

“And you are aware that you screwed the pooch on that Bernstrum article?” Mike said, leaning forward and placing his hands on his desk, his fingers interlocking into one giant fist.

“I am.” He was.

Bernstrum, a local businessman, ran a rather successful appliance store that had just recently expanded into the tri-county area. He was a family man, a tithe-payer, and a lousy driver after a night out. Two weeks before, Bernstrum had wrapped his Hyundai around a particularly large tree. His passenger was a 17-year-old gem of a girl who at the time was wearing little more than the apron Bernstrum Appliance employees wore behind the register. The airbag, along with the bourbon bubbling its way to his liver, had knocked him out, meaning he didn’t have time to pull up his pants before the authorities and, more importantly, Brent arrived -- camera in hand.

Sure, it was a decent enough story as it was; the kind of front page juice that made people look up from their pancakes and show their wives. Brent knew, however, that no misstep comes to the prom alone so he began to dig. Turns out Bernstrum funded his nights out with Tanya – the gem – with the help of some petty cash from the company and what was a nice little tale of “when good men go bad” was suddenly a good-old-fashioned scandal. His sources wouldn’t go on the record but Bernstrum was guilty as hell and no small-town broom-pusher was going to go through the hassle of a libel trial, so Brent slapped together a bundle of allegations and anonymous sources and sent the puppy off to print.

Ethical? Not even slightly. Brent knew the black, white and grey of journalism but in today’s market, where everyday another paper went under, the only ethics that he cared about was what got readers to the page. His editor, Mike, thought the exact same thing but had to play his part, which is why he was sitting, just then, in Mike’s office getting his slap on the wrist.

“If this guy sues us–”

“You can’t sue unless your rich or you’re innocent,” Brent said, “and Walter Bernstrum is neither. The guy is already waist deep in statutory quicksand and he knows that if he starts to squawk libel then the authorities will look into his finances and find the same things I did – the legal way – and then we’re home free.”

Mike was silent for a moment. He closed his eyes against a mental strain and let out a slow purposeful breath.

“All right, we’re safe. But that doesn’t change the fact that you broke every rule in the book, no listen to me, you built a story on unsubstantiated claims and published defamatory information without a single source.”

“It’s true, who cares who said it,” Brent said.

“The readers expect—”

“The readers don’t expect shit and you know it,” Brent said. “You think they asked themselves ‘gee, I’m not sure if this information in credible’? No, they laughed at that a stupid man was dumb enough to get caught and then turned to the funnies at the back.”

Another moment passed and Mike leaned back in his chair.

“You’re off the news desk.”

“Wait just one—”

“No, you know that I’m being soft. If you were anyone else you’d be sitting on your hands for month. Cameron has a story for you, we’ll talk again in a couple of weeks.”

“Mike, come on—”

“No,” Mike said, grabbing a pen and working at a paper on his desk. “You’d better get going on her story if you want to get paid this month.”

Brent sat staring at the top of Mike’s bald head. In truth, he had expected this. It wasn’t the first time he had been exiled to the features section for bad behavior. Most of the writers would kill for the bump to features but not Brent, he was a news man through and through. He knew there was no use arguing, mostly because it was less an argument than a mere formality, so with a sigh he got up and headed out to the newsroom.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


7. Go into the O.C. Tanner Lounge
8. Perform at PoBev (Count it!)
9. Jam in the amphitheater

Two weeks ago we scratched number 8 off the Bucket List. I had seen that they were going to be doing Dueling Pianos and while I didn't have a co-dueler I figured I'd sign up for one of the opening acts. Turns out, not to many pianists signed up so I got a phone call from Tom Atwood saying that I would be dueling with classically trained protege pianist extraordinaire Branden Lee.

We met Wednesday. Practiced for the one and only time Saturday afternoon and saddled up Saturday night for an hour-long set.

I ended up doing most of the singing, but Branden pulled the heavy lifting on the piano. I forgot a whole verse of "Sweet Caroline" and our "Billionaire" just crashed and burned. Still, we closed up with an epic rendition of Piano Man and in the end I walked away with $6 from the crowed.

Check out the videos

Sunday, October 10, 2010

True Aggie Night

That's not me. In fact none of these pictures are me. A few weeks ago I was leaving the office around midnight when I remembered that it was True Aggie night. I figured hey, nice night, camera in hand, hordes of co-eds drunk on repressed sexual urges...should make for some good pictures.

So I played the role of participant observer, took a few shots and then realized that it was 12:15 and I was a tired old man so I went home and to bed. Good thing too, as I was leaving I saw my ex (technically I can't call her that, I'll have to think of a word to refer to her appropriate one anyway)

I'm a three-time True, but only 2 on top of the A. During one of my freshman ventures a blonde girl I worked with saw me, said she had to kiss 10 guys for her sorority initiation and planted one one me before I even had time to say "why Yes, of course." She also holds the title for being the only girl I've kissed who's name I no longer remember.

Walking around the crowd taking pictures, I felt really, really old. One scrawny kid crawled up on top of the A and just waited by himself alone until finally a girl (hot one too) ran up and kissed him. If you want to, you WILL get kissed on True Aggie night. I have apparently reached an age where that type of romantic frivolity is no longer appealing. I suppose in the long run that's a good thing, but it is sad to be confronted with the mortality of you juvenile self. Having said that, there's still plenty of time when I get my juvenile on, so it must only be half-dead.

So my dear underclassmen. I hereby place the university in your hands. If you're good to her she will be good to you. We had some great times, but I've grown old and she needs someone who will treat her the way she should be treated. Go to the howl and gawk at Tinkerbell, go to Mardis Gras and play Craps, stay up all night in the dorms and hide old food in your neighbors' apartment, drink sprite until your roommate gets a kidney stone, go clean the sink, jump into First Dam in the middle of October, and go to True Aggie night and make out with as many strangers as possible, while you still think it's cool to do so.

Confession: Editing these pictures, coupled with the fact that I'm a little broken-hearted at the moment...I really want to make out with someone right now.

p.s. Just for good measure. Here's an old pic of me getting my True on. The shot is completely amateur hour. I didn't take it, obviously.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Senior Year Bucket List

This is going to be significantly harder without Dave Willis but here we go. In no particular order I will:

1. Sleep on the Quad or Old Main Hill
2. Go to Club New York
3. Become a true Aggie one more time
4. Clean the sink (again)
5. Sleep in my office
6. Get on the roof of one of the buildings on campus, preferably Old Main
7. Go into the O.C. Tanner Lounge (DONE!)
8. Perform at PoBev
9. Jam in the amphitheater
10. Ride the LTD to Preston
11. Eat at LD's
12. Eat at the Coppermill
13. Get into the police blotter
14. Become an ULTIMATE Aggie
15. Go through the tunnels
16. Go into one of the Sorority houses
17. Kiss a girl who smokes (I could live without completing this one)
18. Get a picture with Big Blue
19. Fall in love (Count it!)
20. Pull an all-nighter (haven't done one since high school)
21. Toilet paper someone's apartment
22. Go to Old Ephraim's grave (this is going to be hard to do before I graduate)
23. Hike the Wellsvilles (so close, yet so far away)
24. Eat in the Junction/Marketplace
25. Bike down the Old Main steps
26. Crowd Surf

Friday, September 24, 2010

And so it is...

I'm a writer. When I was in elementary school I started writing my little short stories, each time pushing the bar upward on page count: 20, 30, 40. They were horrible, just horrible. I actually came across one the other day and except for the stinging wave of melancholy nostalgia it was pure, and utter, crap.

Now, I'm a journalist. I'm "published." I've scored a few freelance jobs and have a couple of certificates on the wall.

I'm a piano player. From the time I was 8 until I turned 16 I had a weekly lesson on Monday's with Joyce Montgomery. My sister began teaching me the notes when I was 6 so when I first rolled in to Joyce's house with my fresh CTR ring on my finger she didn't have to bother with the flashcards, I was good to go.

You wouldn't think that it would make that big of a difference, but most of the other 8-year-olds that started the same time I did never seemed to catch up.

Even at that age, I was a cynical kid. I knew that if you were a mormon, and could play the piano, then you would be constantly called upon to grace the ivory's for a special musical number during sacrament meeting or even worse, accompany the tone-deaf men in priesthood. One way or another, all good piano players played cute spiritual hymns.

So, at the young age of 8 I made it a point to choose recitals that were loud, rambunctious, and preferably in very minor keys. I played well, but I sure didn't play pretty.

It worked. And in time the mood-neutral Beethoven's Fifths made way to the more aggressive Zug der Zwerges, mountain kings, and Rachmaninovs. Sure I had to play the occasional Sweet Hour of Prayer, but no one ever asked me to take the stand after the bread and water.

I kind of went off on a tangent there, but what I really wanted to talk about is how I'm a writer, and a musician, and yet for the life of me I've never been able to write a song.

Believe me, I've tried. I started three during my 2-year sojourn in Brazil but could never quite put into melodic prose the depths of my confliction. I wrote one on the way to my friend's wedding in Boise last summer and even went as far as try to apply it to some chords. It was about a girl (duh) and when things didn't work out with her, I never really bothered with the song (it was never very good anyway, the paper is still next to my piano).

Poetry has always been a weakness for me. I appreciate the skill involved, and I recognize the talent in (some of) it. As I type there's a printout next to my feet of Anis Mojgani's "Rock Out" (youtube it, you'll be glad you did).

But I can't do it. I've tried to write songs when I feel like I can take on the world and when I'm crushed with my heart is in pieces on the floor (there's more in the latter category) and everything in between.

So, to finish, I've had a song in my head all day. Since I can't write anything this good, I'll post it instead. This is Damien Rice's "The Animals Were Gone." If you don't know Damien, get on grooveshark as soon as you can.

Woke up and for the first time the animals were gone
It's left this house empty now, not sure if I belong
Yesterday you asked me to write you a pleasant song
I'll do my best now, but you've been gone for so long

The window's open now and the winter settles in
We'll call it Christmas when the adverts begin
I love your depression and I love your double chin
I love 'most everything that you bring to this offering

Oh I know that I left you in places of despair
Oh I know that I love you, so please throw down your hair
At night I trip without you, and hope I don't wake up
'Cause waking up without you is like drinking from an empty cup

Woke up and for the first time the animals were gone
Our clocks are ticking now so before our time is gone
We could get a house and some boxes on the lawn
We could make babies and accidental songs

I know I've been a liar and I know I've been a fool
I hope we didn't break yet, but I'm glad we broke the rules
My cave is deep now, yet your light is shining through
I cover my eyes, still all I see is you

Oh I know that I left you in places of despair
Oh I know that I love you, so please throw down your hair
At night I trip without you, and hope I don't wake up
'Cause waking up without you is like drinking from an empty cup

Monday, September 20, 2010

The nighttime makes USU's eyes pop

So a looooong time ago -- like, back before I had homework and stuff -- me and USU had ourselves a little photo session.

USU was a little nervous at first -- It's understandable, some shady guy shows up saying he's a "photographer" and will make you a star -- but once we got going USU really loosened up and we had a great time.

There's a plethora of empty park benches around the quad, a fact that kept me entertained for nearly an hour.

I'm a big fan of the fountain on the TSC patio. I like all the odd angles and shapes and how there's really no separation that distinguishes the sidewalk staircase to the fountains path.

I liked how the light in this shot was falling on the A bench. That's A has been there for a long, long time and has seen tens of thousands of screaming masses clamoring to plant a kiss on top, yet most nights it just kinds of sits there in peaceful silence.

Animal Science, where I spend most of my days

I've always loved this little corridor and it's probably one of the most overlooked areas on campus. The wall on the left is litteraly the corner you go around to get to the quad, and the wall on the right is what opens into the TSC patio. Between those two bigger draws there's really no reason to stop and sit here, although its very aesthetic. There's wires that traverse the span overhead that will eventually be overgrown with ivy, that will be cool.

Family Life and Ray B., fresh off their makeovers.

And one parting glance at Old Main. The piéce de résistance