Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Hells Yes

February 9, 2008


It’s good to know the system still works.



February 8, 2008

Okay, has anyone else every heard this word? Because it is a new one to me. For those similarly in the dark, a teetotaler is one who abstains absolutely from alcohol. Recently, it has come to be used by some to mean all recreational intoxicants. Wikipedia had this to say about the strange etymology:

One anecdote attributes the origin of the word to a meeting of the Preston Temperance Society in 1832 or 1833. This society was founded by Joseph Livesey, who was to become a leader of the temperance movement and the author of The Pledge: “We agree to abstain from all liquors of an intoxicating quality whether ale, porter, wine or ardent spirits, except as medicine.” The story attributes the word to Dicky Turner, a member of the society, who had a stammer, and in a speech said that nothing would do but “tee-tee-total abstinence”.

A more likely explanation is that teetotal is simply a repetition of the ‘T’ in total (T-total). It is said that as early as 1827 in some Temperance Societies signing a ‘T’ after one’s name signified one’s pledge for total abstinence.[1] In England in the 1830s, when the word first entered the lexicon, it was also used in other contexts as an emphasized form of total; in this context, the word is still used, but predominantly in the southern United States.

This strange word comes from In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, whose book is amazing. I’ll save further discussion for Step Lightly in the coming weeks.

Also, would someone pleaaaase read my previous post and give me some thoughts about fried foods? Thanks!

The Big Weekend

February 7, 2008

This is the last weekend before the launch of Step Lightly. I’m stoked, even though that means there is a good deal of editing in my near future.

I figured out what to Lent (love ya, Moi!): fried foods. Already, of course, there are problems. Or, at least, points of contention. Is Chinese food friend? Fried rice certainly sounds like it is, but wok fried is different then deep frying or pan frying, right? My roommate also swears that orange chicken must have been fried at some point (ie. deep fried and then cooked in the sauce), and he may have a point, which makes me sad. Is pan frying even comparable to deep frying?

I suppose I original was thinking of french fries and chicken tenders, not any food associated with hot oil in any way. Seriously, on campus options are dropping like flies here. Still, if the one is as bad as the other, then they should all get tossed out.

Until March 23rd.

So, if you want my initial thoughts on Lent, here you go: Why do Christians do this!?

Kidding. I’m stoked, even if it’s hard. Later days!

PS: How the hell does this idea allow me to still eat nasty greasy pizza? Phrasing is clearly important.

On Horror

February 5, 2008

I just read H.P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu. Previously, I hadn’t really understood how his horror could be that different then any silly horror movie we see today. I was so wrong. Worth reading for anyone. Go. Do it.

And sleep well.

On Proper Blogs

January 26, 2008

This blog is doomed to a certain level of obscurity. Now, now, I’m not trying to be all whiny (done that plenty enough lately), I’m just stating a cold hard fact of blogging.

Personal or journal blogs do not compete with themed blogs.

The evidence abounds. JD, author of Get Rich Slowly and now Get Fit Slowly, also maintains a personal blog called Folded Space. The former has just passed five million hits (Congrats JD!), while the later… Well, I doubt there’s competition. Boing Boing, Make, No Impact Man, every blog I read is about something.

It’s not a complicated equation to figure out, really. No matter how interesting you may usually be, odds are a journal will just be too random to routinely interest the same people. A themed site will appeal to a smaller range of people, perhaps, but it will grab them more strongly, and the blogging business is all about repeat customers. It doesn’t mean that a journal blog like this one is a bad thing, just that you have to measure success by a different standard.
I’m laying all of this out because I have been thinking lately that perhaps I should start a second (well, third) blog with a proper theme. I love writing here, and wouldn’t plan on stopping. However, I admit that I would like a blog which could be financially successful, and this isn’t it. This is for fun, I’m looking for a writing job.

So the question to answer is, what theme? I couldn’t do financial, despite my interest in it; I’m just not that mathematically inclined, and besides, I think everyone would be better off if I directed them to JD’s blog. I’ve been writing a lot lately about college a purpose, which certainly is a topic with lots to be said about it, although it worries me that in about three years I will no longer be all that qualified to talk about it. That being said, a little cluelessness on my part could only help the diversity of ideas on the blog. Something along the lines of  gardening, local eating, etc. could work as well in terms of my interest for it, but I feel uncertain about it for some reason.

So what does everyone think? This is about serving the readers what they want, and that is YOU. So please, give me your ideas and input!

The Watcher-Walker Problem

December 8, 2007

So, there’s this idea my mom introduced me to, which in a certain way seems to be true of most creative people (hopefully she’ll give us a source) called the Watcher-Walker. While not as serious as, say, multiple personality disorder or something, the idea is that creative people are deeply divided in terms of motives: half the time, they have the same motives as everyone else, wanting to live a happy normal life, and the other half of the time are collecting bits and pieces of life to use in their art. The former is the walker, the latter the watcher. It tends to make you more then a little self critical (and certainly most if not all creative people are very introspective), but it also poses a problem when the two interests are conflicting. While normally you might live your life and the watcher can just enjoy the ride, there are bound to be times when the walker says, “back off, this is dangerous” and the watcher says, “but I wonder what would happen if I pushed just a little harder…”

For me, the first real outlet I had for this introspection was writing. Bit and pieces of my daily life found their way into otherwise fictional stories. I think it’s because of this that I am more likely to push harder out of curiosity in print then I am in person. Through e-mail or instant message, I’ll ask difficult questions or say things that are a little exaggerated to see what response I get.

I have never really trusted these mediums of communication as much because of this, even though I am typically more comfortable in them. The desire to treat them as fictional is too strong. So my response has always been to feel like the things I feel and express in person are the most genuine, and that anything I want to say but can’t in person is possibly more hypothetical then real.

Lately, though, I’ve been wondering about this mindset. In some cases, I can look back and know that following this rule would have saved me a lot of trouble. It’s not just creative or introspective people either; I’m sure everyone has been in a fight and thought later that it seems they weren’t really that mad, only that they felt they aught to be mad. It’s the same idea, crafting a fiction of sorts as we go to make sense of the world.

At other times, though, I have wanted so badly to say something in person that it gnaws at me and yet I can never spit it out.  If I can say it more easily with pen and paper later, does that always make it false? By the same token, I say things I don’t mean in person all the time. Who doesn’t? A slip of the tongue, a hurried statement in the rush of the moment, and suddenly you’ll spend the rest of your days trying to clarify what you meant.

It seems maybe it’s not so cut and dry. I need to sort out how to tell one way or the other (if such a thing is possible), though, because I know for sure what I want and what would be interesting to want, I’m stuck, indecisive.

(If anyone, self-described as creative or not, wants to weigh on on feeling this way [or feeling the opposite] I’d love to hear about it. I think it’s really interesting, if sometimes frustrating. Especially comment if you think you’ve found a solution! You may be responsible for eliminating the “angsty artist” once and for all.)

A Poem

November 30, 2007

Not mine (luckily for all of you), but good none-the-less. It’s interesting, because I know I had read this before, and not liked it very well. However, it was in Into the Wild (the movie), and in that context I found it really moving. Enjoy!

Sharon Olds – I Go Back To May 1937 

Doubts About Sensdep

November 15, 2007

Lately, and especially today, I’ve been having doubts about keeping a blog. I’ve been weighing the benefits against the benefits of switching to a diary of some sort. If any of my fans  (small group, mostly friends/family) feels like contributing to the debate, I welcome your thoughts.

For me, there have always been two big advantages to this blog. The first is that the perception of an audience gets me to write. Even if there’s no one really reading, I feel obligated to in a way I don’t when it is only for myself. Also, I like the idea that this could, possibly, be a way for me to get my name out there.

Unfortunately, I’ve alway also known that this blog has little in the way of commercial potential. The topics I cover are too scattered and I, hard as it may be to admit (ha ha), have no other reputation to draw people in.

It also bothers me, to some degree, that I don’t always say what I mean to say because of the people who read this. I wouldn’t have the same worry if I wrote in a private journal.

Writing personally has the advantage, as well, of encouraging me to spin “posts” into essay and try to have them published. This is a lot more time intensive to begin with but, if I’m successful, will reach a much wider audience. It’s been seeming like a much more sensible arrangement lately.

Sorry, this seems a little disjointed. The basic breakdown is as follows.


  • Immediate release to a potentially large audience.
  • Forces me to write every day.
  • Serves as an easy way to tell lots of people close to me about big events.
  • I have invested a lot of time in it already.


  • Private, no need to self censure.
  • More personal.
  • Physical, not likely to disappear in a server fire or something similar.
  • Can be used later to write essays, memoirs,what have you, which can be submitted for publication.
  • Can record art related ideas for later projects, etc.
  • A challenge to myself to keep the habit.

So there you have it. What would my diary entries look like? I suspect something pretty concise most of the time. Below might be an example from today.

Busy day, but not as bad as yesterday. Rainy, cleared late. Lots of that nervous energy tonight, but nothing to do! Looking forward to the break. Have to do something adventurous.

I’ll let everyone know which way I decide to go.

The Long Way Home

October 29, 2007

Trying to write this before Norah Jones’ “The Long Way Home” loops again on iTunes…

I have been thinking lately about relationships. In particular, because I am torn between wanting to avoid them (if for no other reason then the financial benefits… my goodness!), enjoying my freedom so to speak, and missing the regular intimacy that a long, stable relationship brings about. I keep wondering why it is that people get stuck right where I am, not happy being single (song just started over… switching singers) but unwilling to “get back in the game.” Alright, actually, less so “like me” and more “like in a sit-com.” You know the sort of situation I mean.

I think the problem is the intermediate period. Starting to date someone is exciting, but it is also hard, time consuming, and awkward. The thing a lot of people really want is the steady comfort of being with someone for a long time. So the conflict arises from wanting something that comes in the future without wanting to the intermediate step.

Alright, that probably sounds pretty obvious. I blame Aristotle, who relishes in taking forever to say something really obvious in the most obtuse language he can.

On an unrelated note, I am considering slightly altering a story idea I’ve been playing with, for it to include shinigami. Since someone complains when I use Wikipedia, you can Google it yourself. It’s Japanese. My particular idea is inspired by India, and that’s all I’m saying.


On Public Service

October 13, 2007

I am working on that manifesto, but at the moment, it remains unfinished, so instead some thoughts on public service.

I learned recently that my aesthetics professor is running for mayor of his town. In all honesty, I don’t see how he can possibly win. An anarchist mayor in America? Maybe if you head up to Alaska, but not in the lower 48. Still, I wish him all the luck.

Even more-so, I am incredibly  proud of his example. Most people would look at the idea of being mayor, even of a small town, and think it was too much work. Leave it to a politician. Yet everyone hates politicians. Everyone hates the way things are run. Everyone could do it better but no one does.

Public Service is just that, a service to the public. It shouldn’t be about prestige or power, but about a responsibility we all share in as members of a democracy. There were democratic societies in which officials were elected whether they wanted the post or not. Perhaps we need something like that now. After all, politicians suck at leading this country.  The people who could lead are too disgusted by politics to every run for office.

So I admire my professor. I can’t imagine the changes he would spawn as mayor (can you say abolishing the school system?), but the fact that he is running when everything is against him is incredible. He’s a patriot in a way most only claim to be, and it’s made me realize that my level of participation amounts to squat.

We all could take a lesson and dive into politics because it’s a responsibility, not a privilege.