Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Angelina Jolie is Dagny Taggart

Angelina Jolie as a railroad tycoon. Somehow, I'm not seeing it. Let alone someone who spends most of their time doing charity work in Africa. Doesn't seem particularly objectivist to me. But then again, it's been a while since I've read the book.

Substantive posts to come soon. Maybe.

Song lyric of the day:
"Please don't you ask
Please don't you ask me how it feels
For she was the last
To light up my night and make me sing"
- Pilate, Melt Into the Walls

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I can't believe I forgot to tell this story

I was telling this story for the third or fourth time earlier, and I suddenly realized I had neglected to mention it on my blog. Hopefully y'all will find it as amusing as I do. Anyway, here goes...

A few weeks ago we had a primary election here in sunny Florida. The Saturday immediately before, I received a phone call around 9 in the morning. Not wanting to climb out of bed, I let the machine pick up, and listened to it groggily. To paraphrase, here was the gist of the message left:

"Hi there, I'm Some Guy and I'm calling on behalf of So-and-So, your candidate for some sort of office focused on economics [I think it was financial advisor or something along those lines]. So-and-So is pro-life, pro-gun, and has a solid track record of supporting lower taxes and... [this was the point I buried my head underneath the pillow, but there wasn't much more besides a simple request for support, and I'm sure some platitude about education]."

I really wish I had saved the message so I could repeat it verbatim, but the above synopsis hits the high points. It was only later, when fully conscious, that I recognized how hilarious it was.

But anyway, for anyone planning to run for office who might happen across this blog, let's review what this candidate and his supporter did wrong:

  1. Calling someone on Saturday at 9 in the morning is not likely to inspire support. Less so if that someone had been drinking Friday evening.

  2. Being both pro-life and pro-gun is possible, but tricky. I mean, sure, guns don't kill people, people kill people, but guns certainly allow people to put big gaping holes in the vital organs of other people, thus facilitating the killing process.

  3. But really, in the end, if you are running for a purely economical position, I and any remotely intelligent individual doesn't give two flying shits about your points of view on saving zygotes and killing adults. If you'd led with the lower taxes, I might have actually considered what you had to say. But seeing as you were obviously trying to simply cater to the radical right base that admittedly fills this area, I instead wrote you off as a panderer who I probably don't want handling my and other people's hard-earned money.

Thanks anyway for the call, So-and-So. I got a good laugh out of it.

Song lyric of the day:
"Life is good when it's in your hands
And nobody can change your world
I'm just waiting for the light to change"
- Tonic, Waiting for the Light to Change

Saturday, September 16, 2006

"Close is only good in hand shoes and hrsze grndzes"*

* Aaron, trying to say "close is only good in horseshoes and hand grenades" after several mixed drinks.

Yes, yet again, a mere field goal away. Every time the Vanderbilt Commodores show potential to be good, reality creeps back into the picture. Whether it's a dead-before-it-began attempt at the 2-minute drill (as in last week's 13-10 loss to Alabama) or a failed attempt at a long field goal after a promising drive (today's 21-19 loss to Arkansas), we always manage to come up just short. The threat of victory is there, but much like Yossarian avoiding the stabbing knife of Nately's whore, the Dores manage to narrowly escape and enjoy another mere moral victory. So close, no matter how far.

Oh well, maybe my other alma mater can set things right. Sure, their football team sucks even worse, but maybe they have a beatable opponent this week. Who is it again?


In the immortal words of Charlie Brown, "Rats."

Song lyric of the day:
"You want everything to be just like
The stories that you read but never write
You gotta learn to live and live and learn
You gotta learn to give and wait your turn"
- the Raconteurs, Together

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years ago...

Five years ago, I woke up about 8:30 a.m. Central Standard Time, and followed my usual routine: I yawned and stretched. I turned on my computer so it would be booted up and I would have instant messages when I returned. I showered, I shaved, I got dressed. I returned to find no IMs, so I began checking my friends' away messages as usual. First on the list was my friend Ashok, whose away message basically conveyed the message, "An airplane has just crashed into the World Trade Center." It seemed a very odd thing to have as one's away message. Emotion does not tend to travel well over Instant Messenger, but I sensed a desperation and urgency, so I opened up Internet Explorer. My home page was Yahoo, which was peppered with large headlines conveying a similar desperation and urgency. I clicked the top link.

I blinked several times.

I stood up, and meandered into our living room, where Ben was in his usual crouch, studying. I said something like, "Um, Ben, I need to turn on the TV."

Five seconds later, the TV was on. Less than five minutes later, we watched as the second of the Twin Towers collapsed. We didn't say much. We stood there and watched.

(Interestingly, Ben vividly remembers watching it on the small TV in my room instead of the big TV in the living room. He may be right, but I vividly remember it this way.)

So much has been clarified since then that only when watching CNN pipeline this morning did I remember the initial confusion. On my way to lunch, I ran into Jeff on his way back from class, and he was sure this could not possibly be Middle Eastern terrorists. I remember that so well, because it seems so amazing in retrospect.

At lunch, I saw Yaz, whose mother was going to Pentagon City Mall that morning. He hadn't heard from her that day. All things considered he was relatively calm. (Yaz, raised Muslim, received remarkably few death threats in the weeks to follow.)

After lunch, I had a math class, where for an hour and 15 minutes the few of us that bothered to show up sat with our minds on the events of the external world while our professor lectured as if nothing had changed. To this day I'm not sure if he was just blissfully ignorant, or actually thought that refusing to acknowledge it altogether was the best course of action. As for me, I much preferred how Professor Spinrad dealt with it the next day, by saying something that still rings true: "The best thing to do in these situations is to keep going, because that's all you can do."

I talked to my dad on the phone after he got home from work. I wish I could remember what he said, but I remember never feeling more reassured in my life. That's more important, I think.

I went to a memorial service at Benton, not the same one Ben mentions. When they opened up the floor to anyone who wanted to yell a prayer, I wished I could come up with something to say. But there were no words, not really.

Through it all, there was a strange mixture of feelings: unity with all of my fellow students and my countrymen, fear at what the events of the day would mean for the future, helplessness to do anything about it. Ultimately, resolve, for better or worse.

So much has been said about the events of that day that any overarching statements I tried to relate would be mere echoes. I'll leave the ponderances to the experts. I think it's more important to relate 9/11 as we each remember it. It was not an event, but rather an experience. Like most of history, it transcends dates and mere description; it's not just about what happened, but also about what people felt.

It's amazing to think that, years from now, September 11, 2001 will simply be added to the list of important dates that schoolchildren memorize without regard to what those dates mean.

Song lyric of the day:
"Holding on
To let them know what's given to me
If I can remember
To know this will conquer me"
- Disturbed, Remember

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Book meme

Courtesy of Ben, my response to the book meme follows:

1. One book that changed your life: Too hard to pick just one, so I'll list a few of the ones that have caused me to amend my worldview in recent years: Catch-22, Cat's Cradle, Skinny Legs and All, and Ulysses (the latter just because it occupied so much of my final collegiate semester).

2. One book that you've read more than once: I read both Frankenstein and The Scarlet Letter twice for school, first in seventh grade, then in tenth grade. I also read The Catcher in the Rye in seventh grade, then read it again for fun later because I was too young to get it the first time.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island: Is there a really thick book about the history of rock 'n roll, describing in detail the bands, their albums, their influences, and so on? I know Allmusic prints one, but even it's not quite comprehensive enough for what I'm talking about. I never get tired of reading about music and its place in history.

4. One book that made you laugh: Any of Tim Sandlin's GroVont trilogy, but I particularly remember cackling at the first, Skipped Parts.

5. One book that made you cry: There is only one, in fact: Flowers for Algernon. Though the one I'm reading right now, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, has come close a few times, and may succeed by the time I'm done.

6. One book that you wish had been written: Any of the numerous novels I've started and then been unable to finish due to laziness, procrastination, writer's block, or simply an imagination wounded if not destroyed by years of television. Particularly, Standards of Learning, which is still very much a work in progress.

7. One book you wish had never been written: Let's see, which book was the most torture in school? I'd have to go with The Ascent of Man, which we had to attempt to trudge through in eighth grade.

8. One book you're currently reading: As mentioned above, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. To be followed by Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down.

9. One book you've been meaning to read: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I started reading it last year, but given that it starts with his dad dying of cancer, I decided I couldn't get through it right then. Someday though.

If your blog appears on the sidebar, I pass this meme to you.

Song lyric of the day:
"I don't deal dealing with me
Feel like trashing up a church could make me clean
I was wrong, I let go of everything"
- Five Dollar Friend, Dancehall

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Michigan 27, Vanderbilt 7

Not exactly the upset I was expecting. At Vanderbilt, we have what we call "moral victories", since actual victories have always been few and far between. Today was not quite a moral victory, even though I described being down 13-7 at the half as such to Aaron. I think the Wolverines outplayed us more than the score would indicate, so beating the spread is not all that satisfying. But still, I enjoy the national exposure, and all in all, I'm not entirely disappointed.

I had been anticipating this game for 7 months, and here's what I saw of the Commodores, both good and bad:

I saw a running game shut down and an O-line that looked a little shaky, but admittedly, they were up against a very strong Michigan D.

I saw an inexperienced quarterback Chris Nickson show significant promise: he needs to learn to tuck the ball when running, to step up into the pocket more when rushed, and to get rid of the ball when he sees defenders bearing down on him. He has the makings of a good pocket passer who can run, provided his receivers learn to not drop passes. If Earl Bennett can get his rhythm back, and he and Nickson get in sync, I think they can be as dynamic a duo as Bennett and Cutler were.

I saw a defense outmatched athletically, but I saw the potential that, as the season progresses, they could get smarter and use intelligent play-calling and adjustments to narrow the talent gap that often plagues Vandy. In particular, LB Jonathan Goff today demonstrated why he is our top player and one of the best defenders in the SEC, and if he takes a strong role as leader, I think the D can really buckle down.

Based on our schedule, I think we have the chance to make this a solid, perhaps even winning season. First, there are the "we sure as hell better win this" games against Tennessee State, Temple, and Duke. Then we have the "c'mon guys, we can win this" games against SEC opponents Arkansas, Kentucky, and Ole Miss. Even Alabama could be vulnerable. And is it possible that we're still pissed enough about getting hosed by the refs against Florida last year that we could exact revenge on the Gators? Only time will tell. And time, being intangible, is staying silent for the moment.

Today's song lyric is one of the mottos of my life, both with regards to Vandy's football team, and otherwise:

"Always working, reaching out for a hand that we can't see
Everybody's got a hold on hope
It's the last thing that's holding me"
- Guided by Voices, Hold on Hope