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Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Nicsperiment's Nine Best Albums (I've Heard) of 2005

2005 was another strange year in music. I got to hear most of what I wanted to hear this year, but not all. These nine albums are chosen from what I heard. Considering 9 billion albums were released this year, these nine albums may not even come in the top million, but of the hundred or so albums I've heard this year, these are my top nine. Keeping to nine was extrememly tough this year, though. Making this list made me sweat.
If you have stumbled upon this and don't know who I am, I am a guy who is absorbed in the world of music. I listen to it a lot, I read about it a lot, and I think about it a lot. I am also a musician (who doesn't favor any particular instrument) and I have DJ'd for several years. So, while this list is just my opinion and nothing more, I am pretty well-informed.
I have included whether each album contains a parental advisory or not so you can find the version you so desire, if you are interested. Well, here is the list. I hope you enjoy it:

9. Project 86-...And the Rest Will Follow--Project 86 has finally been given (near) complete freedom to make the record they want to make, and without baggage. The thing is, vocalist, Andrew Schwab, can't seem to do this. If their last album, the rage-punk-experimental masterpiece, Song To Burn Your Bridges By(last year's #5), was a manifesto against the corporate music machine that stabbed Project in the back, this album is a manifesto both for and against the popular notion of Project 86. The opening line, "We once drew some lines in black/and now it's about time we took them back" is an immediate reference to the title of Project's second album, Drawing Black Lines. The song speaks of taking back something that was stolen and cutting off dead weight. In other words, Project is now back on track with fan favorite, DBL. ATRWF is heavy in DBL references, as if Schwab is haunted with that album's Gold-selling success. How does ATRWF do? Project drops the concept album thing, and adds, well, everything else. They still do the fist through the windshield, slam someone's face into the wall jam, but they have amped up the number of introspective ballads. This isn't "Project 86, Staind Edition", though. Project still keeps that dark, experimental edge they have always had that keeps them head and shoulders above their peers. They still have Schwab's unique, introspective lyrics and vocal delivery. This album is not as cohesive as the past three, but it is loaded with great songs. Project continues to push the envelope of what is possible in "Heavy" music, and music in general.
Parental Advisory: No

8. The Mars Volta-Frances the Mute--TMVs first album, De-Loused in the Comatorium, gave many people headaches. They sounded like Rush/At the Drive-In/Frank Zappa/and sounds of the Amazon Rainforest. However, that album had ten great songs, masterfully played, and reminiscent of another world. FTM is similar--it does take you to another world. It is dissimilar in that it is 80 minutes long, and only consists of five songs, one of which is 35 minutes long. There are songs buried in here, but they are trapped between walls of obnoxious, overindulgent noise. The thing is, when the songs burst out, they are incredible Latin-tinged grooves with crazy spinning guitar, ridiculously well-played drums, and Bjork-like vocals, sung by a man. This is really an album that requires patience and the right mood. If one can stand it, one is basically thrown into an apocalyptic (let's say right before an Asteroid hits) carnival-city, given GHB, and thrown into a street alley as the parade floats go by. Does that sound appealing? Well, sometimes some of the colors swirl together and look really cool, and sometimes the music coming from up on the balconies sounds like the greatest thing you've ever heard in your life. But then your head hurts again, and you can smell the garbage you're laying on top of. So, why is this on the list? Well, the music intermittently coming from the balconies is very, very good. Here's hoping the next album isn't so overindulgent, though.
Parental Advisory: No

7. Gorrilaz-Demon Days--Gorrilaz' hit single "Feel Good Inc." was as close to song of the summer as anything released this year. Featuring melonchaly vocals, lilting guitar, a phat beat, and a special rap-bonanza by De La Soul, "Feel Good Inc." had booties shaking all over America, enough to make this album platinum. However, a million people were surprised to find an album comprised not of party anthems, but a melancholy electro-organic reflection of life in post 9/11 America. There are no tracks on this album even close to high-key in comparison to Feel Good Inc. Sure, there are four more tracks featuring some sort of rapping, but these songs focus on feelings of loss. Subtle electronics naturally weave around actual instrumentation in creative ways--every song holds some time of a surprise. Thankfully, the album also ends on a high note, the repeated lines of "Turn yourself around to the sun", belted beautifully by the London Community Gospel Choir in an appearance that feels completely natural and earned--not intrusive. This is a slow burn, an album that defies expectations, beautifully captures the feelings that come with missing the good days, hating the demon ones, and looking forward to betters ones. Good stuff.
Parental Advisory: I don't think so.

6. System of a Down-Mezmorize/Hypnotize--This double album, released six months apart by these Armenian-American masters of the bizarre, is a monster. System has always been hard to peg--heavy, fast, insane, yet pop--undeniably pop, with harmonies between co-vocalists Serj Tankian (keyboard) and Darren Malakian (guitarist) that bring to mind Queen's classic "Bohemian Rhapsody". This time around, usual front man Tankian steps to the side to allow Malakian the spotlight, and for the most part, he shines. SOAD's songs here go through mind-bending time-changes and pop harmonies as before, but continuously add more musical elements and traditional Armenian sounds. SOAD picks up a momentum on Mezmorize's "BYOB" that seems unstoppable and don't falter until Hypnotize's ninth track "Viscinity of Obscenity." But, boy, do they falter, and the blame lies specifically on the lyrics. After pulling off twenty-plus tracks of A-Grade blending of political/cultural commentary and the bizzare, SOAD veers into three songs worth of some of the most bizarrely annoying schmaltz ever recorded. The plus side?--I'm talking about three songs out of twenty-three. Barring tracks (9-11(coincidence?)) of Hypnotize, SOAD come close to creating a modern masterpiece, a comment on current society that is musically exciting and unpredictable. We can only hope that the best is yet to come.
Parental Advisory: Yes

5. Sigur Ros-Takk--In the past three years Icelandic band Sigur Ros have grown in popularity but refused to compromise their sound. After viewing a tracklisting consisting of only two songs past the eight-minute mark, I was personally worried they would be dropping their signature alien landscapes and beautiful, unidentifiable noise, which often culminates in the most lovely Divine-like aspirations of song produced in modern times, in favor of something more savory to the tastes of the American public. What a fool I was. Sigur Ros drop none of the things that have endeared and imprinted themselves upon listeners around the world. Sigur Ros still manage to pull off the sound of icy dew-drops slowly running down the back of God, while at the same time chopping off most of the excess that sometimes pushed them into over-indulgence. Sigur Ros also ups the joy quotient by a million. The first half of the album bubbles with near unbearable, beautiful joy. It is only in the third quarter that they make slight missteps, taking track seven, Milano, into the eleven-minute range, when it should have ended at five, and track nine, Andvari, into seven, when only four are necessary. But, I'm complaining about eight minutes out of 65, and my, how the other 57 are beautiful. This is the kind of music that will change your life.
Parental Advisory: No

4. The Deftones-B-Sides and Rarities--The Deftones are not a band. After third album, White Pony, they ceased to exist as one, and simply became a mood, a feeling, an idea. Starting as a thrashing aggro-band, by album three Deftones had become an entity seperate from the world of music, creating a dark, creepy, beautiful, musical landscape matched and duplicated by no one. Then, they released their forth album, Self-Titled, and ruined everything. Okay, not necessarily ruined, but came back to earth, became human again. The soundscapeds were dialed back, and the rage dialed up to appease the small crowd of fans who complained that the critically acclaimed (and now landmark) White Pony was not "heavy" enough. Two years after Self-Titled, Deftones have yet to provide a follow-up album, instead giving us this fourteen-track collection of covers and unreleased songs, but... With this collection, Deftones provide all the evidence necessary to show why they have one of the most rabid, obsessed fan bases in the world. The Deftones are the absolute masters of atmospheric rock. Kicking off the album with Jawbox and Cocteau twins covers, the 'Tones then dive into a cover of their own dark masterpiece "Change", somehow creating a new version that is at once darker, more seductive, and mind-altering than the original. After masterfully covering songs by Skynyrd(!) and Helmet, they dive into the centerpiece of the album: a cover of Sade's "No Ordinary Love." What follows is five minutes and fourty-three seconds of absolute aural bliss on the highest, mind-bending scale. Get lost in this song and then suddenly look at a mirror to see what kind of expression you are making. Chances are, it will not be a face that can be shown on network television. For the remainder of the album, the 'Tones continue what they do best, creating a dark, post-apocalyptic ocean of violent unseen currents you don't ever want to leave. This is the dark, beautiful highway of rock, a world I can best compare to Portishead, not in style or sound, but in the way it takes over your very being.
Parental Advisory: Yes

3. My Morning Jacket-Z--Of the nine albums on this list, Z is certainly the hardest to talk about. What is it? I still can't figure it out. It's not that the lyrics are obscure or arcane-in many ways they make perfect sense. It's defining the music I can't do. What is it? I will now turn one of those phrases I usually hate: Imagine Mid-60s Who shaved off their rougher edges, moved to Hawai, bought 21st century synths, added lots of reverb to the vocals, a little drum machine, and then took a really warm, refreshing bath. That's pretty much all I can think of. This is a consistent, genre-defining, beautiful rock record.
Parental Advisory: No

2. Blindside-The Great Depression--Blindside is the Rodney Dangerfield of rock music. They don't get no respect outside of small circles (but circles still large and dedicated enough to launch this album into the Billboard top #200). Many of those fans were immediately surprised and offset by the music coming off this disc. Blindside had never released two albums that sounded remotely similar until 2004s About of Burning Fire, which sounded like a less focused (and not as good) version of 2002s "Silence". Many mainstream critics hailed "Silence" as a modern rock masterpiece, and it was, combining classic rock, modern rock, hardcore, and intelligent lyrics to create a sound far beyond "Nu-Metal". For album five, TGD, Blindside found themselves in a conundrum: Where to go next? Instead of trying to please everyone, Blindside simply opted to make the absolute best record they were capable of. Replacing chop-shows and fan-pleasing antics with great songs, TGD follows the theme of depression in modern society. Vocalist/lyricist, Christian Linskog, fresh from an African relief trip, is a man possessed. Over the course of the album, Lindskog explores the dichotomy between troubles in Africa and American Middle-Class depression. He vocalizes in his trademark sing/scream fashion. Unlike "screamo" bands, Lindskog doesn't "scream the verse and sing the chorus". He does whatever is necessary, whenever it is necessary. His band backs him with a combination of modern/classic rock sounds with elements of hardrock/tango/electronica/modern pop/the kitchen sink. Everything on the album works. The concept and sound flow solidly from each track to the next. Blindside even bests hardrock masters, System of A Down, this year. Blindside's album isn't quite as ambitious as SOADs, but it is cohesive and flawless, even to the end, where SOAD falters. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, works. When the electronics kick in, they serve the songs--the songs don't serve them. Even Lindskog's infrequent bad grammar comes off as endearing, where SOADs comes off as cloying. Don't get me wrong--SOAD's work this year is brilliant--there's a reason I gave it the six-spot. But this year, the best hardrock album was made by Blindside.
Parental Advisory: No

1. Coldplay-X & Y--Last year, I gave best album to The Cardigans' Long Gone Before Daylight. The response--shock, dismay, WTFs?, and joy. I know I am upping the WTF quotient even more this year. I'll be the first to admit, I am not a fan of Coldplay. Chris Martin and co. seem like the nicest people alive, but I have always found their music to be disappointingly boring. I want to like it, but I can't. Their songs always have a spark of brilliance, overcome by a huge shadow of repitive lack of ambition. This year, all that changed. I bought this album on a complete whim. It was on sale, and the single, "Speed of Sound", was beginning to grow on me. On first listen, I wanted my money back. Then, I listened to it again. The first thing that stood out to me were the synths: they're reminiscent of the stuff used by Marvin Gaye and Issac Hayes in the late 60s/early 70s, along with some of Brian Eno's stuff from the 80s. They've got a subtle urban grittiness to them, running beneath a beautiful, cavernous, cathedral-like wall of sound. Then, I noticed the guitars:instead of routinely playing the same part in a wash/rinse/repeat cycle, they change things up throughout the song. They many times come in unexpected, but always sound lovely. Then, I noticed the drums and bass:they aren't doing anything remarkable, but they are remarkably pleasant. Finally, I noticed Martin himself. His voice sounds like a good massage. His lyrics are broad--this is a turn off at first. Then I realize it--this album is brilliant. Coldplay have endeavered to create the most accessible, yet enjoyable album of all time. I think they may have done it. This is music your mother can listen to and enjoy, and your father, your sister, your brother, your boss, the guy down the street with a mohawk, your girlfriend, your dog, and the most important person--you. This doesn't mean the album is unambitious--I think in this case, the striving for accessibility has paid of in dividends. This album is universal in its appeal, but everyone will not like it. The New York times gave it a 2 out of 10. However, many publications gave it a 10, and I agree. This album is perfect. That's right, I said perfect. There are 13 beautiful pop songs here that any human being can identify with. I don't think this is as good as the stuff U2 put out in the mid-80s. U2 hit a political and historical nerve with their music that no one has hit since. But this is not that kind of music. U2's Unforgettable Fire has caused me to cry dozens of times. During my Katrina Aid-Work, just thinking of the opening chords of "Bad" sent me hiding, as I had enormous sobbing fits. I don't know if any song off of X & Y will ever make me cry, but it makes me happy, and it makes me feel like a member of the human race--not a subculture, not a particular color or gender--I mean it makes me feel like a member of a six-billion plus family. I don't know if Coldplay are ever going to interest me with any other piece of music they make, but I think if they break up today, they've still done something remarkable--
They've made my favorite album of the year.
Parental Advisory: No

But wait, there's more. Here are some brief comments on other noticeable releases:

Dredg-Catch Without Arms--Dredg creates some beautiful songs here, but they also falter. Their previous album was a unique work of art. The obtuse nature of the lyrics matched the theme of the album. Here, they attempt to turn their senseless lyrics into pop hooks, and it just doesn't work. That's okay, though, as for the most part, the music, including Gavin Haye's vocals, is still beautiful.

Iron and Wine/Calexico-In the Reins--I wish I didn't like this "trendy" EP, but I do. Seven songs of Southern ghosts mingling with the ghosts of the American West. It's beautiful.

Issac Hayes-Ultimate Issac Hayes--Issac Hayes is the man. His arrangements are unforgettable classics. This guy invented sounds that are commonly aped, even today. For any fan of classic R&B, you probably have all of this guy's stuff already, but if not, this 2-disc best of contains more than 30 tracks, including some of his ten-minute opuses, uncut. Sweet.

Demon Hunter-The Triptych--Demon Hunter stick to a proven metal formula. Three hard songs, ballad, repeat. But my oh my, how they can work in this formula. A new guitarist adds some sweet solos, and a new drummer adds a different, more driving rythym. If you like REALLY heavy pop-music, you can't do much better.

Stellastarr-Harmonies for the Haunted--This is a good band, capable of greatness. Imagine the New York sound of today with less repetitive high-hat, Robert Smith like vocals, U2-like guitar, and sweet female back-ups. Good, solid stuff, better than their debut.

The Cardigans-Super Extra Gravity--After putting out my favorite album of 04, The Cards put out an album I just "like". They did the lounge-tinged alubm, the dark, dancepop-tinged album, and the country-tinged album. This isn't really anything tinged, which isn't bad. The songs are all good, and this is probably one of the best pop records of the year. I just hope they strive for more on their next album.
Stuff I should have put on last year's list:

These Arms are Snakes-Oxeneers, or...--Crazy, technical hard rock, screaming madness, but somehow, and don't ask me how, high-brow.

TV on the Radio-Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes--Neo-crooning-electro-soul. Hard to define, but easy to love.

Silver Mountain Revelries-Pretty Little Lighting Paw-Atmospheric--Drone/chant rock from GYBE! members. Beautiful march past the city, the forest, and the graveyard to the river.

Greenday-American Idiot--I have always loathed this band, and the attitude of their music. Then, they make an album that reflects on the very culture they helped create. One of last years' best--could be important in the future

The Arcade Fire-Funeral--What to say that hasn't already been said. There's a reason everyone is loving this, and I can't tell you why. Listen to Laika-you either fall in love or get sick.

Biggest Dissapoinments of 2005:

The Mars Volta-Frances the Mute--I know it's on my top-nine, but, guys, would you please make an album with real songs on it next time?

MXPX-Panic--After the high standards Relient-K and Greenday set in punk-pop last year, this stuff just ain't cuttin it, guys. This music seems to come from some saccharine tour bus where people just do "rad" things, and then, for some reason, think other people want to hear about it in song. They promise in track one to "Shine the light in the darkest places" but they never ever do. What happened to the days when MXPX's music could be indentified with, even in a hokey way?

Wow, I feel like a tool. All nine of my favorites debuted in the top 200. But they ARE my favorites, and I've listened to a LOT of music this year, as always. I hope you enjoyed reading, or at least glossing over this.
So what do you think? Is this the dumbest list you've ever seen, or what? Disagree with it? Agree with it? Have any questions? Want to make your own list? If so (or maybe if you just want to humor me), please comment. I will not post for several days to allow this post priority, but I will read and respond to all comments ASAP, which basically means as soon as I post this and neurotically refresh the page.
Happy New Year! I hope you all have a great one! I won't quite be spending it alone, but I will be at home and happy.

REVENGE LIFE: Finally WE beat up on the hurricanes

Well, I'm back from the Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl. In case you didn't know, we (LSU, the college I got my B.A. from) beat Miami 40-3. Ouch. I would call that poetic justice, considering hurricanes have cost my state approx 78 infinity million dollars this year.
Most amusing moments:

1. Several students hoisting that LSU Confederate flag I "love" so much. Then, the same students blasting gangsta rap from their truck and spending at least ten minutes talking about the positive aspects of the group "Dem Franchise Boys." Way to be diverse, guys!

2. After the game at about midnight: Me, dancing on the door ledge of the truck to the Bob Marley pouring out of the vehicle next to ours. A very scruffy man walking over and asking me a question. Me realizing that his question was in fact, "Hey, man, you want some of this good crunk?", and me noticing this scruffy man holding a very large, very dirty bag of weed. Me holding up my hand to say no, and he saying, "Oh, I'm sorry man" and running away.

3. As I walked next to our marching band as we jammed in victory, jaded Miami girl telling me, "Y'all still LOST to Georgia(in the SEC championship)," and me saying back, "Yes, but we just KILLED you." Her not saying anything back.

Anyway, I had a very good time, and Atlanta is a very nice city. I recommend the Sun Dial restaraunt, at the top of the Westin, the tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere. The food ain't bad, and the view is spectacular.

Okay, now the moment you have been waiting for. That's right. In a few hours, I am going to post my "Favorite Albums of 2005" list. You know you can't wait...or at least, I can't wait. I've been thinking about it all year. I'll be back shortly. I want to watch the last sunset of the year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

PERSONAL LIFE: Spending New Years Alone?

I can only remember spending New Years Eve night at home and alone once. It was New Years Eve 1999. I had just had a cyst removed from my lower back/butt, and I couldn't walk. My mother and brother were home, but they were a sleeping non-factor.
I am seriously thinking of spending this New Years Eve alone just to do it. I remember having a lot of time for contemplation in 1999 (as I had just been through a lot(plus I was really hoping the world would end that night)). I've never been to a New Years Eve party or get together that justified itself. So maybe I'll spend the night alone and at home for the second time.
Until then, I am heading out to Georgia to see LSU compete in the Peach Bowl. I'm hoping to have a good time. Aren't we all, though? Well, YEAH!!!
When I return, I am hoping to write my 2nd annual best of the year music list (and maybe some other lists this time). You know you can't wait for my lists! You love them!!! Right?...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


I've got another song up. It's a bit stranger than the last one. Check it out, if you feel like it, right here.
Thanks again, Jordan, for your time, advice, equipment, and sweet mixing skills. If only we had more time...

Friday, December 16, 2005

PERSONAL/RANT LIFE: Demons Gathered Around My Bed

One night in the tenth grade, I lay in my bed, listening to hip-hop music. All the lights were out. I stared at the stereo, looking at the lights on the face. I thought they were a little too bright, so I tried to turn over. Much to my surprise, my body did not move. The music seemed to be getting louder, and I reached for my remote. My hand, my arm, nothing would move. I started to panic, but panicking is strange when your body is involuntarily frozen. The music got louder and louder. I noticed the sound of a violin I had not heard before. The violin grew louder and louder, but I had heard this song before, and there was NO violin. The glass around me began to shriek. A beautiful girl appeared before my bed. She began to sing, harmonizing with the violins. The music kept getting higher and higher. I could not breathe. Air began to rush out my lungs. The violins grew unbelievably shrill, and the girl's voice went high along with them. Suddenly, the flesh of her face began to peel back to reveal a black shadowed outline of a skull. I tried to scream, but I couldn't hear myself over the screaming of the girl and the violins, now sounding like a million bees. The girl reached my bed, bent over, put her hands on my chest. I couldn't breathe. She held her face inches from mine and screamed. Her head exploded into a thousand shards of glass, and the shards tore threw my face, ripped my body to shreds.
Suddenly, I gasped in air. As the glass exploded, the room went back to normal, the shrieks died.
"Oh, God," I gasped, terrified. "Thank you that I'm alive."
I had no idea what had just happened. All I knew was that it was real. I was not sleeping.
Two weeks ago, I woke up early in the morning. The sun had just begun to rise, and faint light spread under my curtains. I tried to yawn, but for some reason, I could not move. I felt a slight pressure on my chest. The room began to darken. A man in a black cloak, hunched over, began to crouch toward me. He moved unbearably slow, and from behind him, a sound like bees buzzing-alien, terrifying-rose. I tried to call for help, but my mouth was sealed shut. The figure got closer and closer, and suddenly his hand dropped down, his fingers inexorably unfurled, and he beckoned my breath from my lungs. I couldn't breathe, move, or scream. Without warming, the figure faded away, and the light came back into the room.
This time, I laughed out loud, but to be honest, I was still very afraid.
Incidents like this have happened throughout my life. The details are usually different-the appearance of the dark figure, his actions. Sometimes, he is not there. Every now and then, the experience is almost beautiful, transcendent. As I child, I once had a minor surgery. In the middle, I awoke on the table, but could not move. I heard beautiful, strange, high-pitched music. I couldn't move, but I could see everything going on. This time, there was no dark figure. Strangely, I realized I had begun to hover above the bed. Before I knew it, I was looking down on myself. I can only think of a handful of these experiences that were pleasant like this-many were not-but all were very real.
I grew up in very conservative evangelical churches that taught there was a huge spiritual battle going on all around us. I was scared to talk about these incidents then. I was sure that demonic presences were visiting me during these 'episodes'. As I've grown, I've left my more superstitious tendencies behind. I no longer attend a conservative evangelical church. But these experiences are still frightening.
Last summer, I bought a CD by a band called Dredg. This album was called "Catch Without Arms." I liked it but didn't love it. I had seen the band before, and thought that the material they had played then was better. Last week, on a whim, I picked up one of their older albums, entitled "El Cielo". This bands music is hard to describe. I guess art rock would be the best description of the band, but the best way to describe the sound would be "pretty". The guitars sound like brushes painting clouds, if that makes any sense. On first listen, I was a little detached, and was not able to get into the music.
I put the CD on later and was struck by the beauty of the music. It sounded strangely familiar, beautiful and dreamlike. Near the end of the album, I caught the lyric:

I too once thought that the radio played
We act like children as we sleep paralyzed

Why does that seem so famiiar? I thought. I listened to the song again Then I caught the line:

The sound of a hundred bees...
Your body is asleep, but your mind is awake

I pulled out the CD booklet to read the lyrics. Unfortunately, there were no lyrics. Instead, there were photos of handwritten letters. I can't tell if the letters are real or fabricated, but I think they are a mix of both. At the heading of all the letters was the phrase "Sleep Paralysis". Apparently, El Cielo is a concept album revolving around sleep paralysis.
Huh, I thought. I decided to wikipedia the term. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia. Here is what I found:

During these incidences, I was indeed experiencing sleep paralysis, a medical condition (from here out, this condition will be called SP). During SP, one's body is asleep, but one's mind is somewhere in between wake and sleep. SP can happen as one goes to sleep-in this case, the body falls asleep first-or when one is waking-in this case the body wakes up last. During SP, one wildly hallucinates, but strangely, the hallucinations of those experiencing SP are very similar. One often feels a malevolent being in the room, hears a high noise like bees buzzing, and cannot breathe. In every culture, there is a similar story about demons that wake people, freeze their body, and takes away the victim's breath until they suddenly awake. Many experts think that 'demons' such as the Incubus and Succubus are only continuations of interpretations of SP. Many experts feel the same way about the reports of alien abductions.
Apparently, scientists have just begun to dig into SP and don't have the whole thing figured out yet, but they are discovering more and more everyday.
I feel strange about all this. I am glad to know that, as I expected, these incidents are just a natural, scientifically explainable event. At the same time, I'm a little sad. In many of us, there is a desire to believe. Personally, I still believe in the Christian faith, but I certainly fall on the more liberal side. The night after I read the Wikipedia article (and did other research as well), I couldn't stop thinking, but not in a bad way. I was reflecting on my favorite show, The X-Files, a show that's been my favorite for more than ten years. Something I love about the show is the dynamic between believer and skeptic. Scully is obviously the skeptic and Mulder the believer, but on certain issues (religion for example) their roles are reversed. Personally, I want to have both qualities. I want to believe in something higher, but I do not want to believe in something that is false. My religion's sacred text asks believers to test everything, and I think that is a great way to go.
But back to topic:
The final song on Dredg's El Cielo begins with the line:

Does anybody feel this way?
Does anybody feel like I do?

I am curious to see if anyone else suffers from SP. Ever experience this and not know what was going on? Ever been too afraid to talk about it before? Did you ready know all this, and did you say, "He's suffering from sleep paralysis!" before finishing the first paragraph? Did you make it through this gargantuan post? I'm interested in talking to you.

NOTE: I hope I did not give the impression that I suffer from SP on a regular basis. I have SP maybe once a month at the most, but I sometimes go through very long periods where I do not have it at all.

NERD LIFE: I Like Kong

For some reason, I refuse to write normal reviews of films on this blog, even though I am capable of doing so. Why must I always be so difficult? Instead of reviewing Kong, I will review the emotional undercurrents (I am assuming everyone already knows the story...if not, sorry. (Not really, though:))

Act One: We start off in New York City, where we are introduced to our human characters. Jackson keeps an air of sadness in these scenes, but intertwines it with a feeling of opportunity and possibility. We are in civilization. There may be a "Great Depression", but the modern human spirit seems to be prevailing. We get onto a boat and see humans interacting on a smaller level. Humans are still master of the domain, even out at sea, the space seperating the primal from the modern. Our characters may die on the water, but in a human fashion.
Act Two: We reach the island. Things seem deserted, and our modern human characters seem to be in control. Suddenly, we are plunged into hell. We are no longer in civilization, no longer in control. This is the wild. The demonic, primal humans that inhabit this place seem nothing like our modern characters. They begin to kill our characters off, as if killing is natural. After fighting off these natives, our modern characters are in a battle against nature itself, though the natives seem only an extension of nature in this environment. Through all of this, the beings attempting to kill our characters seem to harbour no ill will or malice to our characters-they are only performing acts natural to their being. Are our human characters' desires to bring Kong back to civilation any different?
On this island, we also witness an understanding and compromise between the primal and the modern-our main character, Ann Darrow, and King Kong become "friends." Sort of. Let us just say that they bond on a very deep, nonsexual (*phew*) level.
Act Three: We are back in New York City, ever the constant symbol of modern society and progress. Kong is captured and on display, but this, we know, cannot last. Kong breaks loose and attempts to find Ann. Of course, in this civilized world, Kong cannot exist any more than our modern humans can exist in the primal world. He is hunted just as our human characters were, and like many of them, he is killed.
This Kong is more of a tragedy than previous Kong's but it still has fun moments, and it is still awe-inspiring. Every death seems tragic, and Jackson never tries to make death look fun, though one can inadvertedly have a good time attempting to avoid it. Don't avoid this movie, though. There isn't anything like it: it entertains, it makes your brain work (subconciously and conciously), it makes you say 'whoa' like Keanu, and it doesn't make you feel like a whore when you walk out of the theater. It's long, but it's worth the time. It's got a huge heart, one that beats until Kong's unfortunate end.


Twenty-four is not just a TV show. It's also my new age.
Is this good or bad?
I hope to post a lot, later.

Friday, December 09, 2005

NERD LIFE: Back from Narnia

When I was about four or five years old, my mother read C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" to me. As soon as I learned to read, I read it myself. I have read it several times since then. Saying I have reverence for the source material would be a bit of an understatement.
I knew I was going to be disappointed going into the film, but not this much.
My main problem with the film (which will from here on out be called TLTW) is the main problem I had with The Lord of the Rings' films, only amplified by ten, because I liked Peter Jackson's trilogy for the most part.
The problem is that both films in some way miss the focus of the books, the hearts of the stories. The Lord of the Rings' main focus is the ring. The ring must be destroyed, and can only be done so by "the least of these", a hobbit, a creature no one has any expectations of. The smallest, weakest creature becomes the most important. This is my favorite aspect of the book, and also the film. The film somewhat marginalizes this aspect, instead playing up on the battles of the greatest warriors-but the film does not forget the hobbits. They get lost sometimes but are still given their due. They are still the heroes, and they still get their moments. I still tear up when Sam tells Frodo, "I can't carry (the ring) for you, but I can carry you," not because I think of their characters in the books, but because the characters in the films are well drawn, and I care for them-I understand who they are and what they are supposed to do, I like them, and I root for them.
TLTW is an entirely different beast. The focus is on the restoration of order-which is also a central theme to LOTR, but is even more important to TLTW. Narnia is lost in a 100-year winter under an unjust ruler, the White Witch, a woman who turns her detractors into stone. Four children come to Narnia from Earth, just as Aslan the Lion, the true ruler of Narnia, is coming to make things right. The children don't choose to go to Narnia, but when they get there, they do make decisions.
Edmund, one of the four, betrays his siblings to the White Witch and by Narnia law, he must pay for his crime. Meanwhile, Aslan arrives in Narnia, the winter ends, and spring comes. This is obviously a joyful moment. It hasn't been spring in a hundred years. Aslan also decides to take Edmund's place in judgment and will die for him. The Witch kills Aslan, and because she is evil, decides to wipe out everyone who is on his side. After she leaves with her evil army, Aslan comes back to life because of an even older Narnian law (If an innocent victim dies for a guilty one, the innocent will come back to life, the film spells out). Aslan goes to the Witch's castle and sets free all she has turned to stone. The hero's sins are paid for, the captives have been set free, and now Aslan can kick evil's ass. He does so quite easily. He sets the children up as kings, and Narnia rejoices.
Obviously, the theme of restoration isn't just the theme-it's the story.
So why hasn't someone told this to Andrew Adamson, director of TLTW? I'm not sure what his film is about. I know his film ends with a thirty minute battle scene the book gave one page to. I know that the battle isn't the important thing-it's Aslan's resurrection and healing of the land that is important. Once he takes care of this, he knocks the witch around like a rag doll, and it's over with. (Aslan heals the land-thirty pages. Aslan's army fights evil, and Aslan kills the Witch-one page)
Instead of focusing on the important things, the important things become details. What becomes important is a fight where we are expected to root for characters we don't know, lead by a character (oldest child, Peter) who is unevenly developed. Aslan and all that healing crap get about five minutes. What's important are LOTR wannabe fighting shots in a movie that wishes it could have a PG-13 rating, but can't.
ALSO, the four children grow and develop their distinct personalites in the book. They do not in the film-if the book did not exist, this argument would remain.
In the LOTR's books, I know and like the characters, I understand what they have to do and why. The same goes for the LOTR's films. The same goes for TLTW by C.S. Lewis.
The same does not go for TLTW by Andrew Adamson. I like the performances by the actors, especially Georgie Henley as Lucy, and I like some of the sets, but I do not like the film.
I could whine all day, but I think I will leave it at that. I'm not happy.
Also, WHY did Dianne Farr leave Rescue Me for Numbers, a far inferior show?
Why, Santa Claus, why?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

PERSONAL/RANT LIFE: Working till your eyes bleed

I am now of the theory that no matter how much one likes something, if one does it enough, one won't like it anymore. For instance, writing. I have had to do so much revision of my own fictional works in the last month for grad-school apps. that my eyes are bugging out of my head. When I see a comma I am uncertain about, I get a headache. I change sentences I wrote two years ago back to their original form after making huge changes to them over the last twenty-four months. I am involuntarily developing my own short hand-I am so used to certain words that I simply don't type them, leading to sentences such as:
I to the store, finally, bought what we for the week.
Do you know what that means? Well, I don't!
Anyway, I am definitely a big fan for everything in moderation. I can barely look at this screen, anymore. So, I thought, why not blog for a little while-whoops-I forget that modern society requires all interaction and activity to be done through a twenty-inch screen. There is no escaping it? That question mark was intentional.
I also wonder if the collective eyesight of the world is going to completely go to pot over the next few years. How are we going to keep our sight when we have to stare at a screen for so many hours of our life? I don't know.
I'm sleepy. Bright lights annoy me, so I have the lights out, the curtain partially drawn, and a candle lit. It is gray and nice outside. I wish I were bundled up and sleeping beneath the leaves. Oh well. A guy can have his slightly paganistic dreams, right?
Goodnight. Or something.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

NERD LIFE: A Nerdy Christmas

I think I am going to try a little something different. From now on, entries fall into three main categories- NERD LIFE, RANT LIFE, and PERSONAL LIFE. This should give a better idea of what the coming post will cover. Of course, every post is personal, but I think you know what I mean. Also, there will be combinations. Anyway, on with the post.
Are you excited about the big holliday, I mean... Christmas films? Sure you are. Don't lie to yourself. Secretly you're a tool of Hollywood just like the rest of us. We've already had some big films in the last few weeks, but there are still many ahead.
Arguably, the two biggest films are The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and King Kong.
Which one are you looking forward to the most? Personally, I am a huge fan of C.S. Lewis' Narnia books...which is why I am most looking forward to King Kong. I have a huge fear that TLTWATW is going to destroy its source material. Actually, I shouldn't have said "huge fear" because I actually don't care that much. The book means so much to me, I don't need anyone to show me their own visual interpretation, which is surely going to change details of the book that are important to me. That being said, I will probably see The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe at least five times.
I am still looking forward to King Kong more than anything. Once again, I'm a huge fan of the source material. The 1933 version is awesome. It's one of the most fun movies ever made (I think). But it is 70 years old, and it's not so deep a story, so I don't mind a remake. If Peter Jackson proved anything with his LOTR films, it's that he can make big epic scenes look really good. That's what I'm looking forward to. I can't wait to see King Kong fight more than one T-Rex for several minutes. I'm not sure what the plural of T-Rex is. As much as I am a snob and hate every movie, I really like seeing pretty things that don't completely insult my intelligence, so I am looking forward to King Kong (and Naomi Watts...(drools)) alot. By having the simple expectation of seeing big things go boom, I think I will have a swell time.
HOPEFULLY, I'll be done with grad school apps. by then, and have time to go see both these films seven times apiece. Seven, because these kinds of films don't translate so well on the small screen, and I'll probably only watch them once or twice on video.
And that was my first NERD LIFE post.
I hope it fogged up your glasses.
I just noticed that by removing the first two letters of each word in the previous sentence, you get:
pe gged ur asses
Deep, man. Deep.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Why Fats was important

I got mauled by a cat when I was a small child. When we found Fats in our yard, I was thirteen, and I hated him and all cats. But when I tried to torture him, he just rubbed all over me. When the dog tried to chase him, Fats just rubbed all over the dog. Fats loved everybody. After Fats won me over to the cat side, we became fast friends. Fats and I developed a level of communication beyond normal people-to-animal communication. In fact, in some ways, I think Fats and I developed better communication then most people have with each other. Sure, Fats' vocabulary was limited. But the things he could say:
"Wanna vege out?" "You look tired. You really should go to bed." "I don't understand why you are laughing so much. This show really isn't that funny." " Hey, dude, feed me." "Dude, I'm about to pee on myself. Let me out." "You know, Nicholas, it's kind of hard for me to sprawl out here with your crap everywhere." "No, I don't want those eggs. Give me some bacon."
He could actually say all those things and many more with his eyes and body movement, and he seemed to understand and sense my moods. He sat in the chair next to me at almost every meal. Even if he hated what I was eating, he would still sit straight up. If he liked it, I would pass him some, and he would grab it with his paw, and pull it too his mouth. He always sat in his chair, and kept his elbows off the table. Fats went on walks with me, in the woods. How many people walk their cat? I don't mean on a leash. I mean that we would run into each other in the land around my house, and we would walk together. Sometimes, he would get tired, and make me carry him. He would do this by diving at my feet, and refusing to move. Then, when I'd pick him up, he'd hug me.
Ask anyone who knew him. Fats gave hugs. He would wiggle his fat little arms until you brought him close to your neck, and then he would wrap his arms around you, and start purring. Fats liked to use me as a human pillow and vice versa. His favorite days were the ones I didn't do anything. Fats went out all night, and slept all day. Fats was the greatest creature I have ever known. He transcended the words "cat", "pet", or "animal." He became his own species: Fats.
On the simplest level, Fats kept me company. I am going to miss him.
Between losing him, and my old dog this summer (who died at fourteen), my home life just got a lot lonlier.
To Wink and to Fats:

Anyone else ready for this year to be over with?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Jazzy "Fats" Fatcat (1995-2005)

My fuzzy little buddy is dead. Someone found him this morning about a quarter of a mile from my house. We think he got hit by a car. Fats was my cat. I loved him. This really sucks. I'm happy I got to hang out with him for the last ten years, but I really would have rathered him not die.

I buried him under the ground, then made this little mound over the grave and covered it in leaves.
Woke me every morning at five by pushing open my door and jumping onto my bed
Took a bath inches from my head as I tried to go back to sleep
Preceded to sleep in my bed the rest of the day while I had to be awake
I miss you, my Fat Fuzzy Little Buddy

From Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea", because I know he loved this song:

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all round the sun
What a beautiful dream
That could flash on the screen
In a blink of an eye and be gone from me
Soft and sweet
Let me hold it close and keep it here with me

And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see
Love to be
In the arms of all I'm keeping here with me

What a curious sight we have found here tonight
There is laughter that sounds from the trees
There are lights in the clouds
Anna's ghost all around
Hear her voice as it's rolling and ringing through me
Soft and sweet
How the notes all bend and reach above the trees

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all round the sun
And when we meet on a cloud
I'll be laughing out loud
I'll be laughing with everyone I see
Can't believe how strange it is to be anything at all


Monday, November 28, 2005

A Strange Turn of Events

Okay, this is just too weird:
My favorite CD released so far this year is by Coldplay, I'm seriously thinking of converting to the Episcopal Church, and there's nothing more I want to do right now than be in school.


I just spent four hours on my new my space account for no good reason.
The suckiest part is I actually have three or four very interesting/controversial things to blog about, and I have blown them all off.
So in conclusion, MySpace is bad.
But oh dear, how I love it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I have a song up!!!

I have a song up!!! I have a song up!!!!!!!
Special thanks to Jordan for his advice and for recording this thing for me on his sweet Fostex!
Be starts with some seconds of silence, and you'll need to turn it up.
Hope it doesn't make blood run out your ears.
Also, check out the post I wrote under this. It is awesome!!!

Just another reason to find Scientology absolutely ridiculous

Hi. Let me re-cap last night's South Park episode.
Wait? You hate South Park?
That's okay, listen to my ramblings anyway...
Stan, (the kid in red and blue) passes by a "survey" table. It actually turns out to be a Dianetics (Scientology) table. Stan, who is perfectly normal and happy, is given a survey, and told that he is very depressed. As Stan is only in the second grade, he of course believes the survey. He is later tested by the Scientologists for "thetans" and when his "thetan" count is unnaturally high, he is told he is the re-incarnation of L. Ron Hubbard (Science Fiction author/founder of Scientology). Stan's house is then bombarded by Scientologists who want to see their re-incarnated leader. Of course, John Travolta is there, but a certain someone is missing-that is until Stan goes up to his bedroom. You know who's waiting. Yep. It's Tom Cruise. Tom, looking for acceptance from Stan, asks for Stan's opinion. Stan tells Tom that he is an okay actor, but not that great, at least not as good as"Leonardo diCaprio...or that kid from Napoleon Dynamite." Tom Cruise, crushed, turns around, and locks himself in...the closet. Can you see where this is going?
"Come out of the closet, Tom" Stan and his parents beg. Tom won't budge. Soon, news crews are there. "Ladies and Gentleman," says the reporter, "Tom Cruise absolutely refuses to come out of the closet!" Travolta tries to get Tom to come out of the closet, but then goes in, too. Of course, a certain R & B star comes to sing about the proceedings...if you've been following pop culture much, you can probably guess that it is R. Kelly, fresh off his (brilliant?) "Trapped in the Closet" series of songs and videos. This is genius.
Meanwhile, Stan is shown what many scientologists only get to see after years (and a certain amount of money)-the secrets of Scientology. What follows is absolutely ridiculous: a short film that begins 75 million years ago. In the film, we meet Xenu, a galactic lord who thinks certain planets are overpopulated with certain types of beings. Xenu puts these beings in spaceships that look like modern jets, and takes them to the planet Teegeeack, a.k.a. Earth. He then takes their frozen bodies, stacks them around volcanoes and sets off hydrogen bombs and? makes them watch brain-washing videos. The beings, a.k.a. "thetans" then enter into the humans on Earth as parasites, which can now thankfully be removed with current Scientology techinques. Halfway through the film, a message that says "This is what Scientologists really believe" pops up and stays there for the remainder of the "secret" film.
The scary thing? This really is what Scientologists believe. Don't believe me?
The episode ends when a leading Scientologist reveals to Stan that Scientology is just a lie to make money. Stan tries to go along with it, by giving a speech to a huge crowd of Scientologists that will re-affirm their beliefs. However, Stan finds he can't go through with it, and tells the crowd the truth. The crowd's response is to yell, "We'll sue you!"
"Fine!" yells Stan, alone, and tiny behind a huge podium.
"We will!" yells the crowd, filling the screen.
"Fine! Sue me!"
"Oh, we will, we're gonna sue you!"
"Do it! Sue me!"
"Oh, we will!"
"Fine! Do it!"
"We're going to sue you!"
"Fine! Fine! Go ahead! Sue me!"
I am guessing this scene is a commentary on Scientology's harsh response to critics.
Oh, and Tom Cruise?
Unfortunately, he never comes out of the closet.

Friday, November 11, 2005


This is a Fox News Alert:
Somewhere, right now, some mundane miscellaneous activity which has no bearing on your well being and no effect on your life whatsoever is currently occuring.
Stay tuned through this commercial break, when we bring the next alert, which may or may not involve a missing white girl, a theoretical apocalypse, or tonight's Fox News programming.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Modern Times...or Moron Times?

Well, I'm back from the blue with a rant. Rejoice!...or not...
Anyone who read this blog last winter may have come across my rant on the confederate flag. To sum that rant up in a nutshell: I hate the confederate flag. I don't think it stands for anything worth being proud for. I think all arguments for its display are moronic and lack any form of logic or substance that stands for anything good.
Anyway, my ex-college campus, Lousiana State University, has been in an uproar lately. A few years back, someone introduced a confederate flag cast in the LSU colors, purple and gold, and several Tiger (LSU) fans began to 'proudly' display the flag at football games. You can see a picture of this flag, along with some wacky redesigns (and good fun) on this post at my good friend Meche's blog. Don't get mad, Meche, I am giving your sweet skills some advertisement. Notice I didn't say free advertisement...

Obviously, most African Americans (and most sensitive and modern-thinking white folks/all other races) are offended by this flag. And they should be. There have been protest marches against the flag every Saturday for the last few weeks.
This flag is obviously ridiculously offensive. The fans who fly it claim that it combines two things they love: the South and LSU.
Here is a thought (I have previously stated on the Meche's blog): Has anyone ever looked at someone holding up an LSU flag and thought:
"Gee, that sure is nice that they have LSU pride, but do they have Southern pride?"
Hmm... I don't know. I guess it is possible that someone could love the flagship University of a deep South state, yet hate the south...but really, lets cut the bullshit out of the argument. Of course someone who loves LSU is most probably a big fan of the South. So why tarnish the good old purple and gold with the hate-symbolizing 'rebel' flag? Why set race relations back with something so imbecillic? There are many other ways to show 'Southern' and LSU pride at the same time. Put purple food coloring in your crawfish boil, then throw some lemons on top when you are done. Wear a purple and gold shirt that says, "I Love the South." Or get even more home-centric and wear a purple and gold shirt that says, "Louisiana Proud!" I still don't get why we have to be so regional about everything, but I can see reasons for it. I mean, we (Citizens of Southern U.S. states) are often looked down upon, which gives us a feeling of unity, I guess. You are much more likely to hear a joke about a Southern person than say, someone from Wyoming. And speaking about people from the South as if they are complete idiots is still pretty popular and accepted these days. I would find this dissing of my home area and people quite offensive (and indeed, it does piss me off), but for one thing:
Idiots keep doing things like flying Confederate flags colored purple and gold, and get all hot, bothered, and angry when someone tells them they are offended by it.
Stop giving people even more reason to disrespect us!
You are not bringing any honor to the South!
You are bringing shame!
Stop it!!!
I am apparently particularly fond of the colon today. The punctuation mark, not the body part. Not that I have anything against colons.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

This is amusing

Saw this at
Pretty funny stuff. Anyway, I'll post longer soon. I had those confrontations, and I'm still reeling a little bit, but I'm getting better.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Oh yeah, well now what?

Well, I took the GRE. I was supposed to post on here, but I
A. Went extremely spur of the moment
B. Forgot to post
C. Thought that I had posted, but really hadn't posted this information, already.
D. Just A and C
E. All of the above
G. None of the above
My brain has been in a blender, lately. Maybe this wasn't the best time to take the test, but eh. I really wish I would have followed Slacker's advice. I also should have remembered to post that I was going to take that crazy test, today because I definately could have used like 80 people praying for me...not like 80 people read this.
Oh yeah, so my scores . So how did I do?
Well, I didn't do terrible or anything. I'm surprised I got any of the math problems correct, considering I couldn't remember what an integer was, or which axis was x and which y. I got a 530 on that, which I don't think matters much anyway since most Creative Writing programs don't care, and I only took two courses in math in college, both EARLY on.
As for the verbal, I really thought I would have done better. I got a 580. Most creative writing programs ask for a 550-600, so I guess this is good enough. At least, I hope it is. I really don't feel like taking the thing again.
I felt pretty confident on the analytical reasoning section-I won't get my scores on that for about two weeks, though. I really hope I did well on that section. I don't want to take test thing again...
Anyway, I am going to try to get in touch with some of my ex-professors, next week.
Oh, so here's a story:
After the test, I went to LSU, my old college stomping grounds. I haven't spent much time there since last year, when I ended my 4.5 year tenure with a nice sheet of paper some guy signed that says I'm smart(I can't always be self-deprecating). I spent 9/10 of the first half of this decade on that campus, and I guess I was pretty involved there. I DJ'ed at the college station for almost three years, and I had a student job in payroll for almost four. I did other stuff, too, I guess. I really miss the place, though. It felt weird going there, tonight. A good friend of mine, Dave, who DJ'ed with me back at KLSU, had entered his band into LSU's annual battle of the bands. To his surprise, they got in. His band is very fun to watch live. I hate when people say things like this, but the best way I can describe them is like a mix between They Might Be Giants and Weird Al. I usually laugh my head off at their shows. Well, they played ninth out of ten. You could tell the second they began that the crowd had joined their side. Most of the other bands I saw there (I missed half of them) were taking themselves kind of seriously. Well, maybe not that, but they weren't really getting the crowd to have much fun. Well, Dave's band had the crowd going nuts. They couldn't get enough. In the last three minutes, Dave broke just about every string on his guitar and fell off the stage. Then, he couldn't back up. I think they carried him back up there. It was awesome.
Anyway, my buddies won. I was estatic. They were a little disappointed as their slogan has always been "Making you feel better about your band" and they just really made nine other bands feel not so good. In fact, they said that from the stage after they won. Seriously, they were surprised, but I think they really deserved to win, because they are the kind of band that makes people happy, and when it comes down to a live show, that is what people want to see. Or at least that's what I want to see...
They won over $1,000 of recording studio time, and a cool bowl. And notoriety.
Anyway, sorry I just rattled on so much.
I still have to have those confrontations I talked about in the last post. If I can just get past this month, I think I might be looking at some brighter skies. Oh well, look at this weird picture of me I took last night when I flipped out after realizing that I was going to take the GRE today, after only doing about two-hours of prep work:

Yeah, I need to shave. It's gross. Bonus points to anyone who can tell me what hole I'm looking through. Okay, I am going to post sweet after-the-fact responses to the comments on the post before this. Then, I am going to pass out in my sweet sweet bed that is kind of gross, because my cat has been coming in there in the mornings after hunting in the woods at night. He is truly a ferocious beast:

Kneel in terror, mere mortals, at the sight of the terrible Fats!!!
Sadly, also my best friend.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I'm Just Sitting in My Car and Waiting for My Girl

Metaphorically speaking.
Does anyone else get tired of waiting for things?
Why, of course you do!
The worst is when you have to wait for your own self to take action.
That would be me, right now. There are three things that I really need to do this week, and I have not done them, yet. Two of them require confrontation with other people (who I have known for a very long time), which I won't elaborate on out of respect for the people these two situations invovle, though I am pretty sure none of these people read this blog.
The other is taking the GRE. Why haven't I gone, yet? Why am I not going, tomorrow? I guess I am scared I won't do well, and because the test costs so much to take, I am scared of possibly having to spend the money to take it again. I don't know why I am so scared, as I am usually quite good at standardized-type tests, but I keep hearing GRE horror stories.
Is this thing really so hard?
I have been alone in my room a lot, the last two days. I cleaned up and reorganized, then I beat a Super Nintendo game I bought almost three years ago. Since then, I have watched four movies, and read a bit. I had a little company last night, but that is pretty much it.
So anyway, that is what I have been up to. Oh yeah, and I have been writing, a lot. To get into any MFA program, I have to turn in two to three short stories, or a portion of a novel. I am trying to figure out what to send in, and also trying to smooth some of my previous work out.
I can't wait to get "there"...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Feeling Good, and stuff, but of course I am going to analyze things anyway, because I am like that, and analyzing is a good time, especially when you

have the time to do it
Hey! I am sitting at my computer, and I don't have to go to bed in five minutes!
Okay, there was a time in my life when I hated Texas. That lasted until this spring, when I almost died there, due to the belt falling off of my engine while I was lost on the Interstate at two in the morning. I got my car into some random neighborhood there, and left it over night. The next morning, a friend and I fixed it in the rain, then sat in my car and ate donuts and drank chocolate milk. So, I (with my wonder-kid brother)went to visit that friend and his wife and their new baby, this weekend in Katy, Texas, which I am guessing will be swallowed alive by Houston in a few years. Katy is nice. I drove around there by myself very late at night, and it was quite wonderful. I decided to skip out on watching the LSU game in some Houston bar with everyone else, because LSU won the National Championship when I was a student, so really, I don't care anymore.
So, anyway, to start the night out (Saturday), I went to the movies. It is nice to go to the movies alone, sometimes. It may seem weird to some, but it is quite a different, and wonderful experience, at least to an introverted person like me. Anyway, I went to see Serenity. I wanted to see it on its release date, but my disaster aid job + Hurricane Rita made that impossible. But that job is over for me. Anyway, the movie is excellent. If you are already a Joss Whedon (the writer/director of the film) nerd, as I am, you already know this. If you aren't a Whedonite, and you like things that are good, you will probably still like it. My knees hated it, because I scraped all the skin off them in nervousness during the last 45-minutes. And with good reason. Joss is a cruel, cruel, brilliant man.
When the film ended, I went back to my friends place, watched some TV, and got really hungry. So at midnight, I got the munchies after seeing a KFC commercial. The drug which caused this munchie fit: Ihaven'teatinalldayandI'mstarving. So I drove around for a few hours looking for a KFC, but I couldn't find one. So I went to Taco Cabana. That place is a Grand Mastiff next to the Taco Bell Chihuahua. When I got back to my friends' place, everyone had gone to bed. Apparently, 2 a.m. is past some people's bedtimes. I looked at the movie shelf, and pulled out "Diary of a Mad Black Woman". I figured this was the only way the night could get stranger, so I put it in. For a commercial romantic-comedy type movie, it was actually pretty good. I like that whole Medea (Crazy old black Matriarch-figure that carries a gun in her purse) thing, because she used to baby-sit me when I was little. I live in South Louisiana. A lot of people down here are black. Hence, I grew up with, live, interact, work with, and am friends with black people. So it's nice to see a movie with black people, where the makers aren't afraid to give a nice un-Cosby portrayal. Most of the time, black and racial issues in films seem ridiculous to us in the South, because we deal with them everyday, and most modern film interpretations of these issues are about as dead on as...well, I can't think of a good analogy, but they usually miss the mark pretty badly. So, it was nice to see a film that didn't care about being PI the whole time. Sure, it wasn't Citizen Cane, or...well it wasn't even that good, but it was refreshing to see a film starring, and about black people that actually felt like it was made by black people. I enjoyed it.
Anyway, did I just spend ten-minutes on "Diary of Mad Black Woman"?
So, spending all that time with myself reminded me of something: I like myself. Actually, I like myself a lot. And Summer Glau. I like her, too.
It feels good to function just fine. It feels good to see people my age with beautiful signifficant others, and not feel lonely. I feel good, like that. And the population of Katy, Texas? I think they put something in the water, there. Seriously. If I was a modeling agent, I would spend heavy time there, eating donuts, and making lots of money.
Also, I am finally getting back to work on my novels, after Katrina put everything on the backburner. I thought about my novels a lot, while I was in Texas. Joss Whedon makes me think about stuff like that. He always has these crazy underlying moral issues going on that he doesn't spell out, or easily solve for you, and I dig that thing, and I strive to emulate that in a way, so that pepped me up. So, go see Serenity. Please. I'm begging.
We went to Galveston Bay, Sunday, to some tourist trap boardwalk. I finally got to excercise my sense of humor a bit. It was nice. I like making people snot all over themselves. I think I just used bad grammar. Anyway, I hate tourists traps, but I like making fun of them, so that was a good time. We went to some restaurant made of aquariums, where a bottle of Rolling Rock cost $4.50. I can get a six-pack of Rolling Rock from Port Allen for $5. Anyway...
I had a good time. On the flip-side, Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas took a bad pounding from Rita, and the devastation was quite noticeable, even from Interstate-10. But it looks like the clean-up effort is going well. And it was nice to get to a place that hasn't been devastated in the last two months. The Houston area felt even more like a different planet, than usual.
Well, I know I promised introspection and analyzation, and I didn't really give that, but I hope you aren't angry.
I know most of you who read this blog (the ones that comment, and the ones who don't comment, but talk to me about it in person) are at the weird post-college stage like me, and I have to say reading your blogs and indentifying with you all has really been a help to me this year, and I hope you have been enjoying mine, when I get the chance to update, and am not getting too serious and full of myself (like I am in this sentence).
It is nice posting happy things. I hope you all are well.
I am taking the rest of the night off, before I start looking for a way to take the GRE for free.
Okay, now that I am done with this, I shall read your blogs, now.
Talks to youse soon,

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

It's Over

My 30-day disaster relief appointment has ended. It did not feel like 30 days. It felt like three or four months. I am very happy that it is over. I am happy to have helped, and it is was nice to get paid. I don't think I want to talk about the last month for a very long time, though.
I am going to good ol Houston for the weekend, to see some friends. Then, I am coming home, taking a day off, then attempting to take the practice GRE. Then, hopefully, I will take and pass the real GRE, get my applications for Grad school filled out, and get in somewhere.
Oh yeah, while I was working twelve hour days for weeks at a time in an area totally unrelated to my field, I suddenly realized that I wanted to get back to my field. So I am going to try to get my MFA in Creative Writing, now. So I guess, after a year of no clue, I finally have a direction.
I guess my whole blog, which began with my graduation entry, has been building up to the moment that I had a clue, and now I have a clue. But I will keep blogging, anyway. There are a lot of issues I want to rant about, and now I have some time, so when I get back from Tay-haus, I will hopefully get back to my blogging self. Cool.
Well, I haven't stayed up very far past eleven in a month, so I am going to do that. Sweet!!!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Today, in Baton Rouge, I was interviewing a sad man to see if he qualified for hurricane relief aid, just like I've been doing for twelve or more hours every day for the last ten days. Most of the people I interview are sad. When I got to the column of household members, I saw two people listed.
"Is that your wife?" I ask.
"Is she currently living with you?"
"Well, I'm sorry sir, the person has to be living in your household to qualify. Where is she staying at?"
"My wife went back home right before the storm. I think she may be dead."
I finished the form (he qualified) and walked out of my little office into the hallway. One of my supervisors saw me, and told me to take my lunch break. I went to the bathroom to wash my hands, locked the door, broke down crying, loud face-stretching sobs, cleaned my face off, went to lunch, went back to work. Tomorrow is my office's last day of hurricane relief interviews. Thank God. I don't think I can do this much longer.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


These 12-hour overnight shifts are doing strange things to me. There is a rumor that we will be working normal hours by next week-and eventually we may get a weekend off. I am typing with one hand right now, and cradling the phone with the other-I am on hold with the cable company trying to get some problems fixed as a favor to my father.
Well, have to leave for work in two hours (I have been awake for almost one hour). Things have been pretty good so far-28 days left.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Big Happenings (Changes Come)

So, where do I start this?
This morning, I helped take out all the trash at the shelter at the church. I got to spend some time with the people, and they reminded me of something good that will definately come from this disaster. People around this country will see the fine character and integrity of New Orleans' citizens. I have been blessed by so many acts of random kindness while in that city in the past, and I was more than happy to return the favor, though I wish this could have been under much better circumstances. Afterward, I went to see my new baby cousin again (the best looking baby I have ever seen). While chilling on the couch, the phone rang. It was the woman who would have given my interview last Monday know. She sounded very tired. She proceded to tell me that, if I could, she needed me to work, now. I'm not sure how much I'm supposed to talk about this job on a public forum, but it involves state provided aid for Katrina victims. It is, as I said before, a state department. Anyway, because they are swamped she needs me to work 12 hours a day. Seven days a week. For the next thirty days.
"What are the shifts?" I asked.
"Well, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.," she said.
I made a not happy noise to my myself.
"Or, actually," she said, "we really need someone for the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift."
"Brilliant," I said, "I'll see you tomorrow."
Later, I thought about how much my lifestyle is about to change. Actually, is changing at the moment, because I am staying awake until 8 a.m., and sleeping until about four to get my body ready. This is going to be interesting. But, this is the kind of thing I live for.
After visiting new baby cousin, I went to a little party for my now 20 year-old cousin (in Louisiana, you are not a citizen unless you can't count all of your cousins on your fingers and toes), and got to unwind a little bit with the folded white paper-plate where I had written my new job info in my pocket. The party was a good time. After the party (at about six), I caught a ride back to the church shelter. There, I helped an elderly couple move from the church shelter, to Jon's house (he has posted comments here, before), and got to help some other folks pack some stuff away.
After I helped the couple, the elderly man handed me this:

No, not the hight-hat, silly, the pack of gum. At first, I was going to insist that he keep it. Then, I realized how shallow of a gesture that would have been on my part, and took it graciously. As I helped this elderly man and his wife move, I got to meet his family and friends. What great people. I made fast friends with one guy, and talked to him about soccer and science fiction. Despite a vast age and life difference, after a few hours, I felt like I had known this guy my whole life. I was very sad to have to leave his family and him at the end of the night. I happened to randomly have a Bible with me, as, since I hitched rides all day after church, I had no place to put it.
His wife saw my bible and said, "I have read that book."
"Do you want it?"
"Yes, for my husband. He wants one, now."
So, I gave them my Bible. Don't worry, worriers, I'm not abandoning my faith. I have twelve more.
After we finished with everything, and the New Orleanians began to go to sleep, I drove my mother home in her vehicle. She has been going 90 to nothing this entire week. I'm not really sure what 90 to nothing means, I just know people say it when they are implying that someone has been really busy. When we got home, she passed out. She was exhausted. I am not sure when she had slept last. She is a good person.
Oh yeah, and I got paid! I got paid for that video project I am working on, even though I haven't even finished it. I am going to have to squeeze that in during this week, somehow. My editing office (a.k.a Frank's house) is pretty far from my new job/home. I will finish it somehow, though. I promised I'd be done on Wednesday. Getting paid was good. Now I can pay to drive to my new job. Driving to BR and back cost around nine dollars. My new job is downtown, which is closer, so it might be more like seven. But I have a job requiring a degree now, at least for the next 30 Days (someone call Morgan Spurlock-since he got rid of super-sizing, he owes me one), so I should, for the first time in my life, have bling. Well, maybe. I'm not really much for bling.
I really must give props to the couple that paid me. They are Christians, and I have done work for Christians before and been told, "Your payment is in the blessing God will give you," and I have thought back, "Fuck that. God wants you to pay me, so I can eat." This couple is not a "God will bless you for this" couple. They are a "When someone performs a task for you, you are required by law to pay them. This is called work, which people do in order to survive. Now, as God would want us to do, we will bless you by paying you. Then, you can eat. That way, you won't die. Here is money" couple. And not only did they pay me early-they payed me more than I was going to ask. They rule. This whole catastrophe has really put a damper on my human-beings suck mentality. People have been great. I only hope I can return the favor.
Oh, and finally:

This outfit has been hanging up since last Sunday night, when it was ironed and made ready for the Monday interview. Because of the long hours, and needed mobility, I will be wearing jeans for the next 30-days. Sorry Tie, you strangling bastard, whom I hate from the most intense flames of passion in my soul. You are just going to have to stay in the closet where you belong, you evil cloth-carved hellspawn!.
I am guessing that my blogging rate will probably drop for the next month, and I won't be able to keep up with your blogs as much, which makes me sad, but this is (supposed to be) only for a month.
Anyway, enough about me.
God bless you, and hopefully I'll be blogging with you Tuesday morning.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Here we are

Well, it is time for me to lighten up. Some may say the situation is too dire to be light, but I am in the situation, and it has wore me out, so last night I decided it was time to laugh a little bit.
I have no money, no mode of transportation, and I feel like I am neutered. I am pretty much stuck at my house. I am going to try to hitch a ride with my mom to the shelter at my church to help out, whenever she comes home and leaves again.
I know some jerk reading this is thinking, "What a loser. Just catch a ride with a friend."
Well, jerk, this shelter is close to 40-miles from my house, and I have no friends here in Pointe Coupee, and few in EBR parish, right now. Remember, I am in what is called a post-college transition phase. I am still waiting to be called back about various jobs I have applied for, but with the storm and all, everything is crazy. I'm not trying to seem shallow. I know that many have lost homes, jobs, or their very lives, but you have to understand, I have a roof over my head and food provided by my parents, my pre-transition possessions, and that is about it. I am trying to rectify the situation, but I now have sympathy for anyone who has ever told me they were in a transition period, and I thought, "Whatever, loser."
So, I feel neutered at the moment, but I have ceased watching coverage of events on my TV 24-7 because they are driving me nuts. Tonight, I am going to watch the Sci-Fi channel for four hours straight, and then go to bed. My mom is, I think, with my grandmother in the hospital, as grandma's body thought, "hmmm...what would be a better time for you to need sudden surgery? I know-NOW!!!" So anyway, I have passed the guilt stage of making light of my situation, because human beings need humor to survive, and humor has always been my defense mechanism anyway.
I know I whined about my church Wednesday, but truth is, they are really stepping up to the plate here, which rocks. I am hoping to be able to help out as much as possible, and also I am hoping my interviews are soon rescheduled, so I can get a job, so I can make money, so I can get off of my sweet, sweet can....
Good news, my mom just called me in the middle of this post. My grandmother did fine, and she is going into recovery, right now. This is a burden off my shoulders-she is my last grandparent, and has been for the last ten years. My mom is coming home tonight, and I think we are going to go help out at the shelter, tomorrow, after we visit my grandmother, most probably. I'm not sure what tomorrow will bring, but I guess I am ready to face it. And I will face it with this strange new haircut:

That's right, bitches! That puppy in the background symbolizes gang warfare! You best back off! Break yo self, fool!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Last Goodbye

I know I've been heav(i)y(er) lately, but these are distressing times. I am finally getting my mind back to normal, and am ready to progress, but I must say one last goodbye to an old friend of mine who did not make it through the storm. He was not a person, but still a breathing thing, lacking the ability to live, yet blessed with the ability to contain life. His name was "The Rise n' Shine." He was a fishing camp, and his place of residence was Grand Isle, Louisiana.

My brother took these pictures of The Rise n Shine, today. Rise n Shine lived to be about thirty years old. His was a tiny, some would say, "trashy" looking trailer, but he was a good friend, and housed thirty (almost twenty-four for me) years of good times. I have many fond memories of him, and my love of universal mystery comes from long nights in his dark rooms, listening to the ocean. I will miss him. My entire family (on both my father and mother's sides) have filled his rooms to capacity many times, eating fried fish and shrimp, fighting over which channel to watch on his fuzzy TV, and shuffling board games around his carpeted floor. He wasn't beautiful, but he had the kind of character you can't buy, and I will miss him dearly. My father always said his time was coming, and alas, here it is:

Goodbye, my old friend. You will be missed by all.

Well, I guess that's it from me from the grieving standpoint.
I sent in another three job applications, today. Someone is going to have to hire me soon, because I am stranded at home, because I am too poor to buy gas to leave. Thank God for my parents, and thank God for God, because it is good to be alive, and to sit in one's own room, and type at one's own computer, and listen to the artificial indoor breeze of one's own home. Many are not as fortunate, and my thoughts and prayers go out to them, and soon, if everything goes according to plan, my aid.
I hope you are all well, and I thank you very, very much for your comments and concern. I will try to get back to all of you, soon.
God Bless, and have a great night,

My Way of Dealing

There is so much going on around me, and I feel like nothing. Here is a document of the last four days:

This past weekend I drove to Monroe to hang out with my couisin, Bas. She is one cool cat:

After the above chocolate milk party we hung out with some of her friends, had a Buffy marathon, and saw The Brothers Grimm with her friend Justin. Saturday night, after a little party where Bas cooked the meal, we got back to her apartment and saw the news. The storm we thought had died in Florida was coming to Louisiana. The next afternoon, I reluctantly headed back South to Pointe Coupee.

The road looked bad. Above is a shot of the crossroads along the levee, left leading North to Vicksburg, MS, right leading home. I headed South. The weather became increasingly bad. Eventually, caravans of vehicles filled the the other lane going in the opposite direction. Somewhere along this time, I began to feel as if I was going to die. My head started to pound, I felt nauseous, and my body hurt. It was almost unbearable. I felt like I would never get home. Finally, I did, and the moment I got out of my car, I put my finger in my throat, but I could only dry heave. I left most of my stuff in my car, told my family hello, showered, and passed out. Sometime before I reached my room, I heard that a good friend of ours, Rick, a schoolteacher from St. Bernard Parish (next to New Orleans) and his 90-year old father were on their way to our house.
Then next morning, I felt better. I turned on the TV, and looked at the news. The storm was in New Orleans. Less than two minutes later, our power went out. Honestly, I was furious. We had basically been told we would barely feel the storm, if we felt it at all. The wind began to blow. It was incredibly loud. My cat ran into my room, and crouched next to me. I felt sick again. I rolled over, and for lack of a better term, passed out. I woke up at about four hours later. This sight greeted me:

The hall was full of insulation. It may not look like much in this photo, but there wasn't much light further down where most of the insulation was. Thankfully, no other damage that I know of was done to our house. My family, sans my brother, and Rick and his father sat in the living room. I ventured outside to take a look at things. The wind still blew quite hard. During Hurricane Andrew (1992), we lost most of the trees in our yard, but thankfully this time we lost mainly branches. Further down the street, things weren't so good. First off, I found out what happened to the electricity:

And next door:

The fence was smashed. Thankfully, no houses were too badly damaged in my neighborhood. I went a few hundred yards down the street to find my younger brother (who sells wood) making the best of the situation:

This is in the yard of my family's ancestral home, an old plantation my great x3 grandfather bought from deposed plantation owners after the Civil War. The other side of the family owns it, but they all live(d) in New Orleans, so we watch after it for them. They are actually staying at the old plantation, right now. I do not know if they still have homes.

After surveying more damage, I went back inside. We decided to drive North to Morganza to my Uncle's grocery store to attempt to buy ice. He had plenty, and we racked up on that, and food. We have a gas oven, so we cooked some food before it went bad, and sat around Rick's small battery operated television. Things South of us did not look good. The footage was chaos. No one knew what was going on anywhere. That was a long night. Finally, I went back to my room. Without AC, South Louisiana is hot. I stripped down to basically nothing, and decided to make the best of things. I listened to some music with headphones, and then did some heavy revisions to a story I wrote in college under candlelight. All I needed was a glass of whiskey, and the night would have been perfect. I guess you can't have it all.

The next morning, more mini-TV chaos. It had been a day, and still no word. We finally found out what had happened to some friends of ours in Gulfport, Mississippi. Their church (the parents are pastors), restaraunt, and home were all destroyed. Somehow, they survived.
Then, something pleasant happened. My father arrived from Lafayette with this:

We plugged in our freezers. My mother is a baker, and thankfully, her kitchen freezers were salvaged in time. We plugged in the TV, but could only catch one channel, which carried nothing but footage of the carnage. Still chaos, and still no one knew anything about what was going on. Surprisingly, our Internet worked, which is how I got the last two messages out. Rick finally got in touch with some friends from his hometown. It is destroyed, they said. Under twelve feet of water. Many of his friends were, and still are missing. I left him alone. He came back, quite broken down, and still sobbing a little bit. We went online and found aerial photos of the area, one of which I posted, Tuesday. I was very depressed. I decided to go play with the kitten Rick had brought from home:

I guess now he is a refugee, too. I let Menu play with the beads. He was enjoying himself. I realized where the beads came from, and it made me sad.
Finally, the worst thing about being in our situation sank in.
Hopeless boredom. That night was warm and sad. We picked up some pizzas from New Roads, and I ate way too much. I payed for it later. Some time around then, I decided that having all the time in the world meant that I should take weird pictures of myself:

For some reason, the lighting in the bathroom reminded me of the Augstiner Pub in Munich, and my travels in Germany with my friend Robker and his sister, Stephanie. This made me happy.
Wednesday morning, I decided I had to get out. The roads were now safe for travel, so I decided to go to Baton Rouge. I was supposed to have an interview Monday, which should now be rescheduled soon, so I decided to get a haircut. The fro from earlier this year was coming back, and I hear employers aren't into that sort of thing this decade. After the haircut, I visited my cousin Rhett, his wife Mel, and their new baby boy Leighton. Leighton was born while I was in Monroe. I was going to see him Monday after the interview, but we all know how that day went. After the excellent visit with them, I drove to my friend Frank's house to do some video-editing on a project I am working on (for pay) for someone.
Baton Rouge was chaos. Cars were lined up on the side of the road for miles at gas stations. Restaurants were virtually inaccessible. I had to go to Walgreen's to get something to eat. Combos and sherbert. This made my stomach hurt. It sure was delicious, though. I tried to turn some DVDs back to the library, but it was closed, so I went to church.
The preacher was very excited. I do not enjoy my church. It is very conservative and evangelical. I am not very conservative and evangelical. The church is where most of my family attends, (the pastor is my uncle, and I have been there since it started 15 years ago), and I feel like leaving is murder because I have guilt issues, so I still go there. The church was very excited. Lately, membership has been under eighty, but we are taking in 150 refugees. The church attitude made me numb. You know, the whole Thank the Lord for this Storm and the way our church will benefit sort of attitude-actually, maybe this wasn't the attitude at all. The church and I are very different, afterall, and there is much I don't understand. I didn't stick around for long. The atmosphere was choking me.
Driving home, I was shocked to see how much of Baton Rouge was without electricity. The population of Baton Rouge is more than doubling this week because of the refugees, and the word on the street is that it will soon become "Baton Orleans." Preacher says there is no more New Orleans. New Orleans is in Baton Rouge, now. This was all too much. Everyone was really excited. I felt like absolute shit. Finally, I got home. The power was back. I couldn't believe how lucky we were. I ate some leftover pizza, and sat down at my computer.