Thursday, October 26, 2006

At the Buffet, Water is on the House!

I awoke this morning, as usual, to KFOG on my radio alarm clock. The second song was a John Mayer cover of Jimi Hendrix's Bold As Love, in which he simply duplicated every note of the original on his usual guitar. And I just thought, "Did nobody tell him what it means to cover a song?"

I mean, if you do a decent job just copying the original, then good for you: you've proved that you belong in a Jimi Hendrix tribute band. Covers are supposed to bring something new to the song, the way Jimi famously did to Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower", or as Eric Clapton and Duane Allman did to Hendrix's "Little Wing"- not imitating Jimi's free-tempo jamming, but using the material to bring in their own strengths.

I mean, this isn't the first "tribute band"-style cover I've heard in recent years (the other ones escape my memory, but there was one in particular which is pretty difficult to distinguish from the original). They just make me ask, "Why? What's the point, aside from making money?"

Plus, I was treated to four minutes of Mr. Marblemouth singing "AND IT'S AWL, AWL BAWLD AS LAWWWVE..."

Oh well. Doesn't irritate me as much as those commercials that use a montage of Vietnam, Martin Luther King, and Hurricane Katrina to sell a Chevy truck. I mean, seriously, do they have working consciences at that ad agency?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

This Probability homework is killing me.

I mean, I feel like I've been Poissoned.

OK, pun's over, you can come out of hiding. I am kind of serious, I worked on it from 3:30 till 9:00 with just a half-hour break, and I still keep realizing that I'm doing it all wrong. I'm learning a lot (more than I did on the problem sets I've finished), but with 14 hours to go and only one question actually answered, it's not looking so good.

Martyrdom by Probability Theory, hmmm. I'd hate to become a statistic.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Win an argument, lose a soul.

When will I learn? People are more important than communicating ideas (though I dare not say more important than the Truth). It's hard; this was one of the few things in politics I know, among all the things I have opinions on. I'm still a little jittery and agitated, but by God's grace I didn't kill a friendship.

In other news, I took down the "Catholic Culture and Whining About How I Was Raised" post- not just because I was wrong (I've left up mistaken posts before as testaments to my naivete), but because it was ungrateful and unfitting to criticize my parents in that way. I'm rather awful about realizing the effects of my words.

Other than that, one of the better weekends since I've moved out here. I mean that.

Saturday, October 21, 2006



Yesterday, Deirdre and I were discussing some of the more outlandish martyrdoms found in the Roman Canon (personal favorite: the saint who was supposedly 'thrown to the dolphins'- maybe it was the apocryphal Thecla), and I was suddenly inspired to rate possible martyrdoms, a la The Book of Ratings (now dormant). Of course, I'm not expecting to face martyrdom; but if I'm so called, I just have a few preferences about how I'd like to go.

Firing Squad

Firing Squad Goya Style
Meh. While Graham Greene's whiskey priest faced it with style, I find it hard to get excited about such an impersonal kind of death. Technology shouldn't push people farther apart, it should bring them together. B-


Impaled Becket Style
Pretty simple, pretty quick when you think about it. Only possible downside: in all sacred art, I'd have to hold my instrument of martyrdom. That might not be too bad if it were, say, a kitana, but what if I were stabbed with a spork? That would make for one weaksauce icon, holding up a fast-food utensil with a sheepish look on my face. People would think I died from eating too much mashed potatoes at KFC. C

Burned Alive

Burned Alive
Not bad, really, to share the spotlight with the Christians who made up Nero's lighting system for night games in the Coliseum. But I really couldn't top St. Lawrence's line: "I am done on this side! Turn me over and eat." I mean, that's how you get to be patron saint of cooks. Hard core. B+

Fed to Animals

Fed to Animals
Another oldie but goodie, with lots and lots of room for uniqueness. My first idea was "martyred by cute little puppies and kitties- with poison-tipped claws", which would definitely get me a lot of intercessory prayers from girls, but that only takes second place. The real thing to aim for: eaten by cloned dinosaurs. I mean, not only would every boy take "St. Patrick of Orthonormal Basis" as his confirmation saint, not only would I fulfill my lifelong dream in another way by becoming patron saint of paleontology, but I'd be depicted in stained glass windows riding a dinosaur. High fives all around in Paradisum! A+

I Disagree

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.

I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage.

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

The Nietzsche Family Circus Generator. Pass it on. Thanks to the Shrine.

This is the greatest day of my life.

I feel like a few dollars.

Well, I've been laid low with a virus of some sort; I couldn't even read yesterday. But I'm doing better today.

The Sufjan Stevens concert Wednesday night was pretty awesome. He's adapted his delicate music remarkably well to a more energetic concert setting. Jacksonville added a nice bluesy touch to the guitar line, and I can't say enough good things about the beautiful/intense rendition of The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us!, culminating in a burst of almost-melodic cacophony that held our enrapt attention for seeming eternities.

Other notes:

*Orchestral accompaniment was great, and the Pacific Mozart Ensemble came in to sing with him- adding a lot more power than the speak-singing backup on his albums.

*It's pretty plain that Sufjan feels completely awkward on stage except when he's playing music; that's a winning stage demeanor.

*The hipsters were out in force for the concert; they were dressed like snowflakes, no two alike.

*Sufjan drew heavily, more than I expected, from his more spiritual album Seven Swans, which I really have to go and get now.

*It's especially interesting how his overt Christianity doesn't turn off the Berkeley audience; I couldn't imagine this crowd so enthusiastic about a direct retelling of the Transfiguration in any other context. I'd spout theories about this, but I don't have any.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Short Note On Vicarious Competition

Huzzah! Team Evil is done for the year, the Cardinals survived a late scare and walloped the Padres, and there's an outside chance for the ultimate LaRussa Series (which means I'd be able to see the Redbirds in the World Series! Here!), so sorry Tigers, I'm going against you on this one.

And with all due respect to the great prose around such concepts as The Football Gods and the Levels of Losing, I'm afraid that concepts like "momentum" tossed around by sports broadcasters in the course of a playoff series are simply bunk. In sports, destiny is all retroactive. Of course it doesn't seem that way to the spectator, just as little kids think there's some magic to winning and losing at the card game War. But in reality, a team's "momentum" is a fiction that lasts until the next significant event, whereupon it "swings" or it doesn't. Streaks happen from regular old probability. Yes, the psychology of the players matters, perhaps even the psychology of the crowd, but people exaggerate this way too much. Announcers treated a talented Cards team, which would have had almost a 90-win season if not for two fluky weeks to end it, as if it were postseason roadkill. Guess what? "Momentum" doesn't win games; players win games. OK, and luck.

Now I will give back the soapbox.

P.S. Go Rams! Go Cal Bears!

It's a fun season.