Wednesday, January 28, 2009

25 Random Things [Mirrored from Facebook]

I was reading a review about the movie Cloverfield where the twenty-something partiers in NYC were called the Facebook Generation. They all seemed so self-centered, so interested in building up egos (theirs or friends). What I mean, is that when the monster finally attacked, like on the bridge, I totally didn't care about the people flung into the river to their deaths. They reminded me of lemmings.

Point being, that the rash of 25 random things is really fascinating, especially from people I've not talked to in many years, just to find out more about them. Should I honestly think that anyone is going to care about reading my own? Course, that may just be a self-esteem issue, and another self-centered part of me doesn't care whether it's read or not, cause I'll post it anyway. So if you read this, thank you, I hope it helps you get to know me better, if not, you've probably stopped reading already, so :P~~~

1. The only book I read for pleasure between the 5th and 8th grade was The Forgetful Robot by Fairman, ISBN: 0030724155. I bought it many years later after the library withdrew it from the stacks. I know it's the same book cause I put my initials in it. :)

2. I've been writing on my Myspace blog for about 2 1/2 years, where I've written tons of stuff about everything. It's at this page. It's much better than writing in a journal, cause no one can read my handwriting anyway.

3. I am the oldest* male fan of Hanson, and I don't care who knows it. I wrote an article about it here. I went to their concert in Atlanta in 2000, and was deaf by the time I left.
*that I know of.

4. I hate geese. Due to some thinking I was food as a child.

5. The only way I have Star Wars recorded is on my BetaMax tapes, which I still have the player, and it still works. They say people can't do without their Tivo...well, before all this new-fangled technology, there was Beta, and it was good.

6. There were times, in the middle of a college class, that I had this sudden urge for Fiestadas, which they serve in Public Schools mainly. It's hard to get them outside of that.

7. I'm going to one day make a movie, it'll be called The 30 year old Virgin. It'll be a hit!! It'll...what....already been made?

8. One day, Kittens will be legal tender. Or'll be easier to control inflation that way.

9. I have a fiddle table, something with little nick knacks, like the sparkly balls they have at Borders. Cause I have ADD out the wazoo. Makes it hard to watch a movie on TNT, cause by the time they get through with the commercials, I've forgotten what it was I was watching.

10. Speaking of which, my favorite TV shows are Jeopardy! (which I always get the final question right), Star Trek, or House. It's odd, cause I hate hospitals, but I feel right at home in Princeton. House reminds me a lot of myself, which can be good or bad. The banter is amazing, and House's anti-hero character is the best creation on TV since DS9's Garek.

11. My internet name, and the name I use on video games, is Audoin, a name from Tolkien's The Lost Road. Full name is Audoin Errol.

12. I'm very picky about what I eat. It 's a texture thing. Mushrooms, Pecans, Coconuts, Pineapple... I can't eat them. Disgusting stuff. And no matter what the map says in a box of chocolates, I will always pick the Coconut one first.

13. I also can't stand Microfiber clothing. But I love polyester.

14. There's a certain physical response for sitting in the back seat of the car, on the left side, behind the driver. I can't do it. I also have to sit on the back right at a restaurant. It sounds crazy, but I've met other people who have the same feelings.

15. I'm allergic to Cantaloupe, and to some extent, bananas and kiwi. Makes the back of my throat itch, and milk is the only way to get rid of it. But I love all those fruits.

16. Apple Juice makes me.....well.... nevermind.

17. I've got a spoiled cat, Puddy, that we domesticated from the neighborhood. She's old, and ornery, and is definitely the alpha female in the area (she tries to stare down my mom, but it doesn't work.) See pics of "the Cow" in my profile pics, or on Myspace.

18. I found my mom's 1967 income tax information in the garage. Two words: Pack Rats. Thoreau would turn over in his grave if he saw our basement.

19. I dream about Transformers at least two times a month. I either am one, or am shopping for them, or am talking to them. My parents took them away from me in the third grade. Something about not telling Fantasy from Reality... .. I've got an Autobot symbol on my Jacket, and no one can argue that Optimus Prime is sexy.

20. I won the Associated Writers Press Intro Award for my poem "The Great Sleepers," which was about my dad. It was in the Mid-American Review in 98, I think. You can put the title and my name in Yahoo and find it. I wrote quite a few poems in college, but after I graduated, and got on Prozac, I haven't written any more. Can't write poetry and be on Prozac at the same time. (The reason for Prozac is a long story, but the gist of it was that I was trying to become a teacher.)

21. I want a Chevy Cobalt... a short squatty car that can make U turns in the middle of the road. I currently am driving my mom's 95 Buick, which is a limo.

22. I have a few close friends that I love dearly, and although I rarely say it, except for Christmas cards and Birthday cards, I do think of them often. Friendship is so important, especially in these times when it's harder to socialize with people outside of the Internet. And since I have no social life outside of that (girls have cooties... :) ), it's enough. It has to be.

23. I live an epicurean existence. James Taylor sung, "The Secret of Life is enjoying the passage of time." I agree. I will enjoy my pizza, and while I love swimming and walking, I have no need for useless exercising. But I'd rather live happily than live a frugal, caustic existence on account of some mythic beautiful body or some mistaken belief that being miserable in this life will make me happier in the next.

24. I'm a very nostalgic person. I love old towns, abandoned buildings (the old psych. building at GC&SU in Milledgeville). There is Romance (capital R) in the remains of human civilization. What was, and could never be again. Towns where everyone knows everyone else, where entertainment consists of a ball and stick instead of electronic gadgets. Where people sit outside and talk in their rocking cliches, instead of watch useless TV shows in dark rooms. There are still some places in America where that is possible. Unfortunately, those places are drying up, dying far from the interstates and big cities. (See my Nostalgia blogs on Myspace)

25. I am who I am. I'm happy with that. I wish I had an apartment, and someone to love, but for now, this will do. I also cannot predict the future, so, if this is all there is, then so be it. I am content with that. Happiness is something that you cannot traverse the globe trying to find. The best way to be happy is to, as Voltaire said, tend our gardens. Tend, and Love, and Be.

Puddy resting near Azalea at Twilight

Friday, January 16, 2009

Romantic thoughts from an Ice Cream Truck

There are Eureka moments in your life, the one's where something pops, synapses fire, neurons open up a whole new highway to someplace new. We're all far removed from the days when we were 8, and we spent each day wanting to get toys and what crack not to step on outside. And it's not those moments after you've painted your mailbox gray, or cut the leaves off of your mother's favorite plant, and your dad comes home furious. It's those times when the knowledge of something far more than what you knew suddenly opens up.

Summers in Georgia are filled with hot, sweaty, humid days, and there is nothing like hearing the tones of a ringing bell driving down the street in either a rhythm, or in short, staccato notes that toll of a break from July and a moment of December (in your mouth, at least) as the Ice Cream truck meanders down the road. And on the side of the road, are children, crumbling up the dollar bills placed in their hands by parents who want either a moments peace, or know that if one dollar can give their children a little happiness, then it's much more important than the dollar that goes to pay the light bills. Maybe there's a tinge of nostalgia in those dollars, as if the parents would be out there as well, shouting out "esta esta" while pointing at the colorful images of fudge bars and banana popscicles.

The ice cream truck business is, for the driver, not a very pleasurable experience. The trucks here in Georgia are ones bought from the brink of extinction, with no hint of an Air Conditioner ever having been installed. The motors may run...may not. And the coolers inside the trucks are the same way...bought from some dying grandmother's estate sale and coached back to life by some duct tape and some freon. So it is expected that successful, eager businessmen are not going to choose "ice cream truck driver" as their first profession. Instead*, this falls to the people who are down on their luck, swept aside by society, forced into such a job because there's nothing much more they can do, with drugs or mental conditions slowing their thinking capacities down so that it may be hard to make change for the tykes with the dollar bills. But that is not to say that ice cream truck drivers are reprobates and criminals. The ones I met are usually very normal, kind people, with the conditions that have brought them to that state being their only vices.

And so it was that my stepdad, now retired and looking for a way to contribute to the family budget, got in contact with the local ice cream truck service and became one of their best drivers. And while I never understood why he would rather put the dry ice into the coolers (which never did quite keep the ice cream cool enough) with his bare hands, I understood (or think I do, now) why he took the job.

The ice cream, you see, was not just high caloried milk and sugar, but rather bars of short-term happiness. We were bringing treats into neighborhoods that normally would never have gotten such things. For in the time that he drove the ice cream trucks, the best neighborhoods to sell from were the poorest socio-economically. But the parents were always willing to give a dollar, or 50 cents, to the kids to get something from the truck each day.

I went with my stepdad a couple of times, and marveled at the joy we could bring kids just by traveling down the street and selling ice cream. Didn't they know they could get more for a fraction of the cost just by going to the grocery store? But that would be ruining the experience.

So I remember sitting in the passenger seat of the ice cream truck on some hot Spring day, reading a book that my 12th grade English teacher (Mr. Nunes, a professor at Dekalb College, now Ga Perimeter), had assigned to us. And there, in that ice cream truck, I had what I call a Eureka moment (my second to that point, but that's another story.)

[*These statements are opinions based on experience only and are not endorsed by the Ice Cream Truck Drivers of America.]

Most people have no problem living without thinking deep thoughts. The most serious conversations might cover the attributes of the latest American Idol contestant or the Defensive strategies of the Chicago Bears (which is usually Urlacher, all the time). And for some reason, teachers hold out the really important stuff till you get to High School. I remember in 11th grade, Mrs. Cook teaching us American Literature. In doing so, I was introduced for the first time to the ways that people thought about the world. By the time we got to Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, I was awash in being able to think about literature in ways of symbolism, in the ways that people think about life. Earlier that year, she introduced a way of thinking called Romanticism. As she explained it, it was talking about things that were of Nature, thinking emotionally about the world, and dealing with the unknown in ways that accepted the irrationality of human existence. And that was okay, I guess. I read Thoreau and really enjoyed his writings, but never really quite got past that. All those meanings and thoughts meant nothing to me, not really.

But the next year, Mr. Nunes really got into the processes in which philosophers thought about the world during each period of literature. How that the unknown was looked at either with scientific assuredness that one day mankind would know everything, or in the supernatural wonder that there were things that we could never know, and only could grasp through the heights of mental thought. He showed us how Nature could be the trim, properly cared for gardens of Wordsworth's poetry, or the wild foreboding mountaintops of Coleridge, or the cold, uncaring Nature of Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat."

And so it was, I sat in the back of my stepdad's Ice Cream truck, reading a copy of Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther, a tale of forbidden love and the throes of emotional outburst and melancholy. The love interest of Werther being an already married woman, and the love that he felt he could only return as friendship, as society would not let him go further. And as the emotions welled up inside him, he delved into philosophical thought about life, about nature, about the world as Goethe would have seen it (through the beliefs of Immanuel Kant.)

It came to me, as I was reading, that the ideas of Romanticism, the yearning, the emotions that are brought back in times of quiet solitude (Wordsworth), that pain and pleasure are usually the same thing, and things that are not always obtainable, be it paradise, or love, or simply a warm touch, are things we must keep striving for, even if it drives us insane. We must keep pushing further towards those heights of feelings, and not live in the microcosm that is our own boring lives. I had on my front Myspace Page (and will again) a quote from the band Engima, "Open your Heart, and Push the Limits." This is the feeling I got in that Ice cream truck. It's the Eureka moment that said, "There's more out there than just video games and ice cream. The world is filled with experiences and knowledge that are just waiting to be slurped up. If only you would climb up to the cliffs of this world and look out over to the far reaches, to experiences and emotions still unknown to us in this world." My only regret is that I have not always striven to do this, as fear of those heights are as real as those a acrophobe has. We have to live according to society's rules, for the most part, and unfortunately, the laws are there to keep us safe, ere we fall.

One day, I will return to Goethe's masterpiece, and will refresh those feelings I had that warm spring day. And perhaps living in the Phenomenal world (as Kant would call it) is for the best, as there are few times in our lives when we can climb up to the apex. In the valleys, there is happiness and contentment, even if there is paradise on the mountain.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ann Coulter’s Legs, Talking Heads on AM

Conservative Talk Radio, what I listen to, and why.

I bring this up because, today, Ann Coulter's new book Guilty was released, with little fanfare, at least, here in this neck of the woods. Although I'm sure she'll be on Sean Hannity's radio show tonight, being as controversial and as arrogant as ever. One could easily have retitled the book, "Orgasms for Republicans," as this is her function in the Conservative news base. Her job is to be self-assured, obnoxious, controversial, and to keep her legs looking as attractive as possible for the viewers oogling at the TV screen. And while what she says might have some factual basis and be true, as far as opinions go, there are much more effective ways of conveying the information. I got to thinking about the Conservative Talk radio that I listen to, and I realized that each speaker has a different way of presenting basically the same points.

Take Sean Hannity (and his female counterpart, Ann Coulter). They are good basically for a cheap thrill. They yap over the radio the same thoughts, be they Conservative principles, or mathematical ways of making Democratic figures look horribly wrong, or spewing out references to ex-terrorists, fasicist leaders, and liberal philanthropes. They remind me of a poodle, whose bark is loud, but is too scared to bite much. They have very little influence in the true scheme of things. They are not where the truly original ideas come from, they are simply the loud air horns that blast the juicy parts into simple conservative folk's minds.

So where do we find truly original and inspiring ideas? Well, Rush Limbaugh has been on the radio for years now, and he definitely has influence in the Republican party. Bombastic and self-centered (which is his thing), Rush can intelligently analyze a situation and see the ulterior motives behind any Democratic strategies, whether they're actually ulteriorly there or not. I have always admired his ability to see the underlying causes to people's actions, although his predictions (especially in the 2008 election) are sometimes a little off. To him, McCain should have easily won the election. He was wrong. He's usually upbeat about things and he has a good sense of humor.

Which is the combination I wish Glenn Beck would have. I love listening to his show, as his ideologies are much closer to mine (Libertarian) than the true Republican beliefs that others have. His wit and sarcasm leave me in stitches (read my reviews of his Inconvenient Truth book earlier), and his analysis of things is sound and well thought through. His show gets tedious, however, when he starts with the doom and gloom of the coming economic downturn, as if we all can go out, buy a year's worth of groceries, and shut ourselves off from the present economy, along with all the gold we've bought from He gets depressed sometimes, which, if his ADD symptoms ring true, fits with who he is. But it's hard to listen to all of that when there's not a whole lot I can do to be other than what I am right now.

A more practical host is Herman Cain, a local host who ran for Senate and has been the CEO of companies that have turned around with his policies (see the Wikipedia article on him.) He gives out sound, practical advice and sees the conservative movement as independent from the Republican Party. He despised a lot of the things Bush did (especially recently) to increase spending in the government ranks when what he should have done was to make it easier for private enterprise and individuals to help themselves. Unfortunately, this doesn't always work, since Greed will overturn the most positive of motives. I will listen to Cain (7 to 10 on WSB 750 in Atlanta) much more than I will turn my new MP3 player on and drown out reality with music.

Which brings me to Michael Savage, who comes ..wards. He doesn't have any particular political leanings, only that he criticizes everyone who does something idiotic. He reminds me of Dr. House, in that he's brilliant, but he has a sarcastic outlook of the human condition, except for when he doesn't. I think he truly believes in the goodness of the human soul, but he realizes that society and the government corrupts those intentions. I would describe him as a hyper and angry Henry David Thoreau. And there are times I sit and listen to his ramblings, as he switches from history to literature to memorized passages of Shakespeare, simply and easily, and I can't help but be in awe of the ability he has. If only he didn't say things that throw audiences away in disgust. Although, sometimes that can be a good thing.

There are times when people need to hear the truth. Cold, unadulterated truth. And although in olden times, you would call them "shock jocks," there should be someone that could give their opinions over the air that would have an unwavering belief in the human spirit, and yet be appalled at the reality of who people are nowadays. Someone needs to tell the idiots and morons out there that they are just that. Although maybe I've just been watching House too much. And I guess that Michael Savage is about as close as we're going to get.