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Friday, April 28, 2006

Numberless are the world's wonders

There's a play called "Oedipus at Colonus" which was written by Sophocles; the play describes the end of Oedipus' tragic life. In 1985, it was put into a modern setting and accompanied by (mostly) gospel music, and went by the name "The Gospel at Colonus". I had to watch a video of it, starring Morgan Freeman, last term at school. It was fine, but there was one particular song which I found quite moving, so much so that I started writing down the lyrics as the video played. I tracked down that song last night and downloaded it. The sound you hear is just keyboard and 3 or 4 human voices, and the lyrics speak to the seemingly unstoppable greatness of mankind, but the one thing man can't tame is death. It seems that the lyrics to the song are taken from "Antigone", Sophocles' play which followed "Oedipus at Colonus". Check it out:

Numberless are the world's wonders, but none
More wonderful than man; the stormgray sea
Yields to his prows, the huge crests bear him high;
Earth, holy and inexhaustible, is graven
With shining furrows where his plows have gone
Year after year, the timeless labor of stallions.

The lightboned birds and beasts that cling to cover,
The lithe fish lighting their reaches of dim water,
All are taken, tamed in the net of his mind;
The lion on the hill, the wild horse windy-maned,
Resign to him; and his blunt yoke has broken
The sultry shoulders of the mountain bull.

Words also, and thought as rapid as air,
He fashions to his good use; statecraft is his,
And his the skill that deflects the arrows of snow,
the spears of winter rain: from every wind
He has made himself secure--from all but one:
In the late wind of death he cannot stand.

You can read the full text here.

This song haunted my dreams last night, and I can't get it out of my head. I wish I could post an mp3, but alas... However, I believe you can listen to a sample of it here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Progress = Regress

I got a new ipod on Saturday. This was to replace my old iPod which went crappy about 2 months ago, and I've been in denial about how useless an iPod is if it only plays 2 minutes of a song, then skips to the next song, then freezes up, then denies that there's any content on the ipod at all. So, I got a new one and it's nice and I'm glad I got it, but it made me realize that I can't really live without an ipod. Five years ago, ipods didn't exist, and the idea, to me, would have been odd: spend hundreds of dollars on a luxury, then spend hundreds more to replace it, because now it's a necessity. 5 years ago, it was a big deal to decide to get dial-up internet access at our apartment. Was it really worth spending $23 a month? Do people even need email? Of course, today, that idea is absurd, and I spend plenty of time each day online, and dealing with emails.

In 5 years, i'll need a new computer, and printer, and I won't ever stop needing a new computer every 5 years, until I die. 7 years ago, I didn't even need a computer. 100 years ago, one wouldn't need a car. As technology "progresses", there will be more and more stuff that we can't live without. Food, shelter, and love are the only things man needs to survive, essentially.

Technology imposes all this stuff on us, and it sucks. But they're impositions that I like. The thing is, is that all of these inventions and contraptions and technologies are just going to keep piling up on top of each other, and life will get more and more complicated and pretty soon, no one will be able to live without all these things, right?

Q: Not really. I mean, think of all the things your computer or phone does now that would have required several inventions in the past. With a digital camera and a printer you can do the same thing that would have required tons of equipment 20 years ago. Print photos, I mean.

me: Yeah, but 150 years ago, nobody had photos at all. They're luxuries that somehow have become necessities.

I'm not saying that phones and computers and cars are bad things, just that they WERE luxuries and are now necessities. In theory, these things make life better, but in reality, they add to the general clutter of every day life. Before the invention of automobiles, people wouldn't have considered travelling for 45 miles or more to get to work each day, now, it's common to commute like that, and the convenience of cars has given us the head ache of rush hour traffic, and hundreds of hours spent sitting in our cars. That's just one of thousands of things that were designed to make life more convenient, but instead enable us to make our lives much much more busy and stressful. My schedule, at this point has been designed in such a way that I don't really have the time to ride the bike to school. It's at least an hour ride to get home from PSU on bike, and when I've got an huge load of homework, chores, practice, and errands to do, it's hard for me to justify spending that much time on a bike, when I can drive home in 10 minutes.

Q: You know, someone once asked a famous preacher how much he prays, and he said "I pray one hour a day." And the interviewer said "But what if your day's so busy and stressful you just can't find the time?" To which the preacher answered "Then I pray for two hours."

me: Is that from "chicken soup for the soul"? It's trite garbage.

Q: Quite.

me: I was walking on the beach and saw 2 pairs of footprints in the sand. See where there's only 1 set of footprints? that's when I killed the man next to me and ate him.

Now, everybody join with me in burning up your cars and computers! In fact, just burn everything that runs on electricity! Even electric cars? Especially electric cars!

Friday, April 14, 2006

2 weeks down, 8 to go

So, I've been in spring term of school for 2 weeks, but only gone to class on 4 days. This is awesome. I only have 16 more days of class this term. I've never had a class schedule that allows me to only have classes 2 days a week. There are good things and bad things about such a schedule.

The good things: every "weekend" is a 4 day weekend, plus, if I'm driving, I can buy a T/TH parking permit instead of a MTWTHF parking permit. That is all.

The bad things: having to sit in classes for 6 hours straight tends to be rather mind-nnumbing. And butt-numbing. Also, with classes that only meet 2 days a week, the odds of having an assignment due on a given day are greatly increased, and therefore takes increased organizational skills on my part.

My plan was to ride a bike to class this term, but so far it's either been rainy or I've woken up too late to bike. Also, when I get done with my last class, I'm so dazed, exhausted, and drunk with knowledge, I don't know if I could maintain my balance on a bike. I think I might just get pitched forward, due to my enormous, information-laden head.

What I've learned this term includes, but isn't necessarily limited to: Daniel Webster supported pro-slavery laws; Mark Twain got increasingly cynical with age; I really don't like Jonathan Edwards - I can't believe people take him seriously; Busby Berkeley made some really funny, spectacular movies and The Big Lebowski pays tribute to his lavish production numbers; also, I've got a new found respect for James Cagney. The way he smashes a grapefruit into Mae Clark's face is so hateful and cruel, it cracks me up.

Monday, April 03, 2006

We are family. Oh crap.

You know, I love my extended family: my wife's grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins, cousin's husbands and kids, all that crap. It's great seeing them once or twice a year, and in that time I feel pretty comfortable with our relationships. I remember their names, they remember mine; we smile at each other and comment on whether or not this is our favorite ice cream, or "My, what a large piece of cake!". That stuff is great, classic family get-together tradition, right? Of course. So, after being at family functions like this, we've seen people change: haircuts, weight gained and lost, new cars, pets gained and lost, a few grey hairs popping up on some folks; heck, we've even had 2 presidential elections in the time that I've been married, 2 U2 albums, 3 Radiohead albums, I've been in 6 or 7 different bands since I've been married. There's been 3 or 4 Olympics since I started dating my wife. A good amount of time has passed: married for almost 6 years, started dating in 1998.

So what should have been the appropriate response, when, as we were talking about our upcoming anniversary a certain relative (who was at our wedding), asked if this was going to be our first anniversary? And I'm not talking about dear old gramps with Alzheimer's. This is a fully functioning (or so they claim) adult. I mean, holy crap, we've spent Christmas together for the past 7 years, and family reunions every summer, several funerals and weddings, and after all that you think that this will be our first year together?

How in the world does someone like this survive? I mean the challenge of remembering to eat food every day seems like it would be an epic quest. Then there's that whole "breathing" thing: "breathe in, breathe out; breathe in, breathe in; breathe in - oh, crap, how does it go again?"

And this relative learned that I play music, and told me they didn't know that I played in bands. I told them the website address of the band, but I'm pretty certain that even if it was tattooed on their body (a la Memento), they still couldn't get it right. I mean with all the typing involved in finding a website, how does anyone manage getting to anywhere online that's got more than 1 syllable in its name?

The upside is that now I know what to get this relative for our 8th Christmas spent together. An entire collection of books from here and here.

But seriously, dearest family member, if you are reading this, I'm amazed.