Monday, August 31, 2009

"If Your Nigel Says He's Happy, He Must Be Happy"

I begin my first work week at the big N tomorrow. To commemorate, all song this week will be about vocations.

Making Plans For Nigel - XTC

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Waltzing Matildas Roster

After many weeks of anticipation, tonight saw the completion of this fall's fantasy football draft. The Waltzing Matildas selected the following players:

QB - Peyton Manning
WR - Larry Fitzgerald
WR - Chad Ochocinco
WR - Lance Moore
RB - Ryan Grant
RB - Jonathan Stewart
TE - Tony Gonzalez
K - Kris Brown
DEF - Minnesota

BN - Marshawn Lynch (RB)
BN - Matt Ryan (QB)
BN - Donald Driver (WR)
BN - Jamal Lewis (RB)
BN - Lee Evans (WR)
BN - Deion Branch (WR)

Friday, August 28, 2009

My First Novel

The primary benefit of taking a year off from schooling is the chance to pursue interests that I didn't have much time for in college. It's taken three months of summer, but I've finally gotten started on the novel I've intended to write for over a year. I'm hesitant to say too much, lest I reveal important plot points but I've been at work on it for the past three hours and it's much easier to write about the novel than to actually write it.

Roughly, this is a science fiction novel, not aimed at any particular age, but something that both intelligent ten-year-olds and adults could read and enjoy. Furthermore, one of the primary themes of the novel will be the nature of the scientific enterprise of understanding and of the characters of the people who carry it out. It will not be about science as technology or about its sociological effects. It will also be a coming of age story, and will investigate different forms of education. I suppose that this reflects my college philosophy studies, which included heavy doses of philosophy of education and philosophy of science.

So far, the going is difficult, but no more difficult than I anticipated. I have not done much plot sequencing so far, but I have three primary strains that I will somehow weave together, and scattered significant. The real challenge seems to lie in getting from big scene to big scene in natural and interesting ways. There's also the difficulty of maintaining a consistent voice for my first-person narrator. One's tendency is to write oneself, and I'm trying to remove most traces of cynicism from my narrator. A coming challenge will be to take a philosophy that I think is patently ridiculous and obscure and give it appeal and clarity.

Nevertheless, this is great fun. My primary aim is to write the sort of novel that I would want to read for pleasure, and if I don't, I have only myself to blame. I like the creative control. I anticipate the novel being 50,000 - 75,000 words, or 200-300 pages, with fairly long chapters. I promise an excerpt when chapter one is finished.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Book, TV and Movie Reviews: Lightning Round

Alright gang, some of these items are definitely worth a full review, but time is of the essence. Four sentence limit per review.


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - Loved it, I suspect for completely different reasons than the female populace. Wicked epistemic satire - people think that they know things about other people for really stupid reasons. Mr. Bennett is very dear to my heart.


The Tempting of America: The Political Seduction of the Law by Robert Bork - Central argument - Supreme Court justices ought to rule and opine based strictly upon a compliance with statutes, and with statutes' compatibility with the text of the US Constitution. If they turn to other sources, they inevitably rule on the basis of personal preference, and since their positions are not subject to referendum, they undermine the representational basis of American republicanism. Brilliantly argued and often humorous, I accept his central argument though I disagree with some of his finer points. Not nearly as right-wing as one might think; don't be afraid.



Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - It would take a pretty serious cinematic sin for me not to enjoy a Star Trek film, and this is a darn good one. Obsessive villain, new challenges for the leads as they deal with aging, some extremely tense scenes, and above all a giddy sense of discovery and scientific wonder. One quibble - the ultimate weapon is thoughtfully developed, but really could be any old weapon and the film would play out exactly the same way.


District 9 - Begins with tremendous promise, establishing a relatively credible science fiction scenario with refugees from outer space living in a slum in Johannesburg, using a faux documentary style. Soon it becomes a cliched, albeit exciting chase film. I was entertained a lot, made to feel a little, but not made to think at all. Note: Very icky.


Paul Blart: Mall Cop - I didn't select this film myself, as you can probably guess. I chuckled a few times. Here are some other things that make me chuckle: the ingredients lists on cereal boxes, the NY Times opinion page, high schoolers' love poems and people who walk out of the bathroom with toilet paper on their shoes. None of these things is worth spending 82 minutes on, and neither is Paul Blart.



House, Season 1: In many ways I prefer television to film because it gives much more time for character development. House fascinates me. I keep rewatching the series hoping to better understand his scientific and ethical paradigms, or if he just does what he feels like at a given moment. Cutty and Cameron are perfect foils.


"It's So Hard to Seem Excited"

I have recorded a cover of this song, from way back when indie rock actually rocked.

Get Me (LP Version) - Dinosaur Jr.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"They're Doin' It Down in Nassau"

This is a monster of a jam.

People Get Up And Drive Your Funky Soul - James Brown

Car Compatibility

Holy crap, so many engagements announced in the past few weeks, including one or two of questionable legitimacy. Don't worry friends, I'm pretty sure that the questionable engagers do not read "This Charming Mancub". Though I am hardly a reputable authority on the subject, I have what I believe to be extremely important advice for couples about to enter marriage. The advice comes from one of the wisest tomes I have ever encountered, The Bad Driver's Handbook. When I first heard this advice, I gave my patented response to something that is genuinely funny: I read the joke over and over again to myself, read it aloud to anyone I encountered in the next 3 hours, and for the next several days, thought of the joke at random moments and began laughing hysterically, much to the bewilderment of nearby persons.

So, fair readers, as you prepare for marriage, I urge you to consider your car compatibility. Dislike of your mate's driving of riding style will only result in tragedy. In the words of the authors of the Bad Driver's Handbook, "Take the amount of time you expect to spend having sex and cut that by half. Then take the amount of time you expect to spend driving together and multiple that by four. Now your expectations are a bit closer to reality." You've been warned.

Monday, August 24, 2009

#1 - "Living is Easy With Eyes Closed"

And here we have it, my all-time favorite pop song on the day the list was compiled.

Friday, August 21, 2009

#3 - "Now You Think I'm Satan's Daughter"

Cross The Breeze - Sonic Youth

The Wheel of Time Hiatus

It's been a few days since I finished The shadow Rising, the massive fourth volume of The Wheel of Time, and those days off have confirmed my need for an extended break from the series. This volume was both the best and worst in the series thus far - best because it contained scenes of emotional power the series had not attempted before and worst because Robert Jordan's style and pacing have become infuriating. If it were only the plot growing in size, I would not mind, but here Jordan begins pouring so much irrelevant detail onto each page that the plot actually seems to be shrinking. He has become obsessed with the clothing of his world. While a few brief descriptions of garments might resonate in the reader's mind and add a nice touch of local color to the various locations in the novel, I instead found myself skimming or promptly forgetting what I was told. Like in The Dragon Reborn, there are three primary plots in the novel, but one of these, the continued quest to unveil the Black Ajah, is really just a placeholder, with nothing of significance happening until the final hundred pages. On the plus side, Perrin and Rand show admirable growth in the novel, with Rand gaining some valuable political footholds. In most fantasies I have read, the boy-turned-hero matures as an individual but eschews political growth, so this is an interesting twist.

Not Worthwhile

I'm still curious about where the saga is leading, but I'm happy to get away and read some nonfiction and some non-fantasy fiction.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Recent Thoughts: Clothing, Addiction and Songwriting

I begin work for Nordstrom tomorrow. Notice that I did not write "at Nordstrom" because I will be attending store orientation at the Westin hotel, the company's current Cincinnati headquarters. I'm pretty excited - it's been a few years since I've entered a new environment and had to meet an entirely new group of people. Given the economy and what I've heard from my manager, I'm optimistic about their coolness. Anyway, for the first time in my life, I've purchased clothing for myself that wasn't a funny or souvenir t-shirt. I chose a pink Geoffrey Beene shirt and paired tie. The cashier at Macy's complimented my taste. The job situation has complicated my establishment of independence, but it is happening.

Even as I establish my independence from my parents, I confess an increasing dependence on a substance that is legal, available and wonderful. I did not sleep much in college. I probably averaged 4-5 hours on weeknights through my last two years. I've never needed tons of sleep, but I couldn't have possibly sustained this pace without help. Junior year, I began drinking Vault, a highly caffeinated soda available in cases of twelve at Stop and Shop. I drank 1-3 per night, and began to realize that I had a problem when, having fallen asleep during a movie, awoke, chugged a can, threw it across the room into the recycling bin and promptly fell back to sleep. At some point I switched to coffee. Senior year, my schedule became even busier, with sleep typically occurring between the hours of 4 and 8 am, and I more or less superglued a cup of coffee to my hand. Coffee is superior to Vault in almost every aspect - it has no sugar (as I drink it), it tastes fantastic, and it earns one respect. It cannot, however, be stored in one's dorm room, which somewhat limited my intake.

I assumed that my heavy consumption would end after I returned home, where I have been getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night, plus the occasional afternoon nap. In fact, the omnipresence of the beverage in the Weatherly house has increased my intake to at least two and as many as five cups per evening. For whatever reason, I missed my dosage last night, fell asleep reading at about 10 pm and awoke at 12:30 completely delirious and tripped my way to bed. I don't even remember whether or not I brushed my teeth. Would anyone like to recommend a 12-step program?

Finally, I've been doing a lot of songwriting lately - I've probably written about a dozen that I'm willing to share with people, some comical, some a bit more serious. I'll be recording and posting some more demos soon. I know that the sound quality on these things is terrible, but I think that some of my songs are pretty good. However, I don't want to be that irritating talentless friend who keeps insisting that you hear his crap. I can take criticism. If my songs suck, let me know so that I can stop annoying you, though I'll continue to write because I enjoy it. On the other hand, let me know if you enjoy the songs. It makes me very happy to know that my work has pleased someone, even if that person's musical taste is very different from my own.

I wrote a parody worship song in high school called "Jesus Is My Boyfriend", satirizing the fact that many contemporary praise songs are indistinguishable from romantic love songs. I think that it's perfectly appropriate for worship songs to express emotional love for God, so long as it is clear that it is indeed God to whom we are expressing our love. I am currently at work on another less harsh parody worship song entitled "The Four Chord Praise". As you may have guessed, the song contains four chords: G, C, D and Em, the first four chords that any rock guitarist learns, functioning as I, IV, V, vi, an extremely hackneyed progression. Now, there are many songwriters who can construct memorable and moving songs from only these four chords. I am significantly less talented than these writers, so I always try to include at least one unusual chord or chord change in my songs, adding color to a common chord with 6ths, 7ths, 9ths or 11ths, including a chord not strictly allowed by the song's key, sometimes playing an ordinary chord with an alternate voicing. It's amazing to me how a single alteration can open up a song's expressive possibilities. For this song, I am strictly abiding by the title's limitation, and I am incredibly frustrated with it. The song is meant to be a bit insipid and ironically cliched, but the aggravating familiarity of this chord sequence seems to be killing the potential for humor. I see two related lessons here: 1. Do not ever write this chord sequence again unless you are a musical genius. 2. Recognize that anyone who can make this sequence fresh is indeed a musical genius.

#5 - "Loud Loutish Lover Treat Her Kindly, Though She Needs You More Than She Loves You"

I Know Its Over - The Smiths

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

#6 - "We Meet Every Day at the Same Cafe"

I was at a wedding this weekend, and as is my custom, I made a mental Top 5 list for "Worst Songs to Play at a Wedding". This song was #3. Put aside morals for a moment and appreciate it.

Me And Mrs. Jones - Billy Paul

#7 - "Some Nights It Seemed You Could Hear That Whole Damn City Cryin'"

A very nice live version. If lyrics alone decided the list, this would probably be #1. By the way, Bruce's wife is in serious competition with Clarence for the E Street Band's most useless member. I've always tried to tune out the sax solos on Springsteen records. There, I said it.