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Tuesday, August 31
 
I've been thinking about doing an entry on why I'm not religious, and I might as well go ahead and do that now. Mind you, I'm not against religion. I'm against some of the actions committed in the name of religion, and against people trying to force their religion on others, but I'm not opposed to religion itself. Indeed, there are times when I wish I could be religious. I'm just not, though. I don't really see adequate proof that God exists, or that following any particular moral or legal code is going to get you into God's good graces. It's fine if you do, but I have a different opinion on the matter.

I have heard of Pascal's Wager, which basically states that you should believe in God because you have everything to gain if you're right, and nothing to lose if you're wrong. The main problem I see here is that it seems to support PRETENDING to believe. It's hard to force yourself to believe something. Even if I went through the motions of religion, I would still know that, deep down, I don't really and truly believe. And if I'm not fooling myself, surely I'm not fooling an omniscient God, either! I guess I'm more of an agnostic than an atheist, because I don't necessarily dismiss the idea that God could exist. I don't actively believe, though. If that's a prerequisite to salvation, then I guess I'm not going to Heaven. I can only hope that, if there really IS a being who judges everyone, this deity will have pity on generally good people who just can't believe. I'd have to say that I consider such people to be more worthy of eternal life than those who claim to be religious but simply go through the motions, or those who commit atrocities in God's name. I doubt my opinion would really matter to this god, though. I just don't have much respect for the "Believe what I believe or you're going to Hell!" philosophy.

The other problem with Pascal's idea is that it doesn't take other religions into account. What if you become a devout Roman Catholic (Pascal's religion), and it turns out you're worshipping the wrong god? I get the idea that a lot of people follow the religion in which they were raised. If you're constantly told by your family, friends, and preachers that a particular religion is the right one, you'll often come to believe it as well. There's nothing necessarily wrong with this, but I get the feeling that some religious people essentially believe a particular thing out of ignorance. I've seen people argue that casting doubt is a bad thing. I refer you back to this entry for an example of this. As I said then, isn't someone who evaluates the arguments of doubters and still believes in a particular religion a more loyal follower than someone who only believes because they don't know anything else?

Many religions give the role of creator as one of God's most important functions. The Bible starts out by saying that God essentially created the Universe out of nothing. Apparently, God is infinite in time, but the Universe is not. It's pretty much a cliché by this point to ask, "If God created the Universe, who created God?", but I think it's still a valid point. Why is it so much easier for some people to accept the existence of one eternal being than to think that the Universe itself might be eternal? This certainly doesn't disprove the existence of God. It's possible that creation was a local phenomenon, or that God came into existence WITH the Universe. This does, however, cast some doubt on the "God is worthy of worship because He created the Universe" types of arguments.

I could go on about what I find to be inconsistent, unlikely, or outdated in the Bible, or probably just about any other holy book, but I won't. Not right now, anyway. I certainly could be wrong, and maybe I'm destined for damnation because of it. I have my reasons for not believing, though, and I thought you might be interested in them.


Monday, August 30
 
Just today, I finished reading Harry E. Mongold's Button-Bright of Oz. It was a pretty good book. In the story, Trickolas Om, an evil magician who had previously appeared in painted form in John R. Neill's Lucky Bucky in Oz, tricks Button-Bright into searching for a magical platinum mirror. As is typical for him, Button-Bright ends up getting lost. He teams up with the newborn Needlepin Prince Plop; and Packer, an ivory collector and self-appointed "first-rate worrier." Packer's pessimism makes a nice contrast to Button-Bright's cheerful, optimistic attitude. The contrast becomes less pronounced as the story goes on, and, towards the end, Packer's complaints start to seem kind of forced. Still, Mongold does a good job at keeping everybody in character, as he also does with the already established celebrities of Oz. Mongold's take on Trickolas Om is a good expansion on the character we meet briefly in Lucky Bucky, with his laughing trickster attitude retained, and the added trait of using candy in his magic.

There are several interesting magical items in the book, which is always a nice touch in an Oz story. The magic mirror has some interesting properties, and we also see a foghorn that produces fog, and some new tricks from the Wizard of Oz. The characters also visit some clever new locations, like a rotating forest and a garden inhabited by both plant and mathematical roots (the latter seeming somewhat like something out of The Phantom Tollbooth).

I have to wonder when this story takes place. The Royal Timeline of Oz places it in 1979, the same year it was originally published. A lot of the characters don't seem to be familiar with Trickolas yet, though, and Lucky Bucky says he used to be the second biggest menace in Oz after Mombi, or something like that. If that's the case, surely the celebrities of Oz would recognize him, and not let him run a candy shop within the Emerald City itself. Trickolas himself says that the Wizard "doesn't know good old Trickolas," while the Wizard is quite familiar with the villain's tricks in Neill's book. On the other hand, there are a few hints that people DO know who Trickolas is, so I don't know. If it does take place before Lucky Bucky, it must not take place that long before, since Number Nine is working for the Wizard, and he doesn't start doing that until after the events of The Wonder City of Oz.

When I received the book, I was told to pass it on to anyone else who might want to read it, so, if you're interested in it, let me know. I probably won't send it out for a week or so, though, since I still want to make some notes on it.


Sunday, August 29
 
So, as I'm sure you know from my previous posts, Beth and I spent the majority of this weekend at the Monster-Mania Convention. We saw several movies and panel discussions, and had a good time overall.

When we got to the hotel, we exchanged our tickets for armbands, which we had to wear throughout all three days of the convention. Kind of an odd system. Some people there had badges instead, which made more sense. I guess they must have bought their tickets in a different manner.

The first film we saw was Halloween 2, which I had never seen before. (Of that series, I had previously only seen the first and the unrelated third one.) Dick Warlock, a stuntman who played Michael Myers and a cop in the movie, introduced it. I thought the movie was pretty good. I liked Donald Pleasence's part in it, and it revealed why Michael was after Jamie Lee Curtis' character (although the explanation for why no one knew this in the first movie was a bit ridiculous).

At some point on Friday, we examined the dealers' tables. I didn't expect to buy anything, but I ended up finding something I didn't expect: an Oz lunchbox with art by Eric Shanower. That was a nice surprise, and I did end up buying it.

Later on Friday evening, we saw Freddy vs. Jason, with an introduction by Ken Kirzinger, that film's Jason. We then stuck around for the midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, complete with a live cast and audience participation. I had seen it with the audience participation before, back at school. That was actually the first time I saw it, which was probably a mistake, since it's harder to get the audience's jokes when you're seeing the movie for the first time. I had never seen a live cast performance before, though, and Transylvanian Nipple Productions did a good job. Dr. Frank-N-Furter killed Eddie with a Freddy Krueger glove, which was an amusing touch.

On Saturday, I had a hell of a time finding a parking space. I ended up dropping off Beth and then driving around Cherry Hill, ending up parking at a shopping center a fair distance away. I had to miss Tony Todd's introduction for Candyman, but I did get to see the movie again, and got to hear from Tony later (as you'll find out shortly). After Candyman, we attended the Women of Modern Horror panel discussion with Betsy Palmer (Mrs. Voorhees from Friday the 13th), Lisa Wilcox (Alice from Nightmare on Elm Street Parts 4 and 5), and Danielle Harris (from the fourth and fifth Halloween). That was interesting, although I thought the panelists were a bit mismatched, with Betsy coming from a completely different background from the two younger actresses.

While waiting for the next movie to start, we sat through a panel featuring musicians from Blue Oyster Cult and the Alice Cooper Band. Since I'm not a fan of those bands, the panel wasn't as interesting as it might have been. I did kind of like the one Alice Cooper guy's take on theatrical rock shows. He said that, when a band just plays their songs on stage and doesn't make any effort to put on more of a show, you might as well just sit at home and listen to their albums. I don't necessarily agree with him in all situations, but I could kind of see where he was coming from.

Anyway, the movie that we were waiting for was actually the original Nightmare on Elm Street, with an introduction by Robert Englund himself. He told us a story about a scene they didn't use, and mentioned that there were several endings floating around. Since he had mentioned alternate endings, I was kind of disappointed that it had the same ending it does on the video.

After that came a Vincent Price tribute, and then the Men Behind the Mask and Makeup panel discussion with several horror actors: Dick Warlock, Gunnar Hansen (the original Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Tony Todd, Sid Haig (Captain Spalding from House of 1000 Corpses), and C.J. Graham (Jason from Friday the 13th Part 6). They had some interesting things to say, including some rips on the presidential election of 2000. I particularly enjoyed Gunnar's criticisms of the Chainsaw remake. He said he didn't like that Leatherface was explained as being essentially "a kid from Columbine"; and that Leatherface's family was too big, without the clearly defined roles the different family members had in the original.

Next was another panel discussion, this time with Robert Englund and Ken Kirzinger. The room was totally packed for that event. Robert, especially, had a lot of interesting stories to tell. He made a few comments on how the horror genre was often unfairly stereotyped as having endless sequels and remakes, when that's also true for many other types of movies. Finally, after dinner at Friendly's, we ended the night with a midnight showing of Chainsaw, with an introduction by Gunnar.

Sunday was a shorter day, but still fun. We attended the tail end of the Women of Modern Horror panel, as well as the Mask and Makeup panel again. We had wanted to see Lisa Wilcox introduce Nightmare 4, but she must have started early, so we missed it. After Nightmare 4, we saw Freddy's Dead, the only movie besides Halloween 2 that I was seeing for the first time at the convention, and it was pretty amusing. I appreciated the crazy teacher, the Nintendo jokes, and the development of Freddy's back story.

Anyway, the whole thing was pretty cool. I would never have gone if it hadn't been for Beth, who's more of a horror fan than I am. I'm glad I did go, though.


Thursday, August 26
 
The Bullshit! episode about Alcoholics Anonymous made a point of explaining how the organization taught alcoholics not to take responsibility for their own actions, instead turning to a higher power (like Hebrew National hot dogs, I guess). Some people insisted that a "higher power" need not be a god, and could be a rock or a tree (one person's actual examples), which is pretty ridiculous. Beth had told me about the religious aspects of AA before, but I have to wonder how many people are aware of them. It isn't something I associated with AA in the past. I guess if I ever become an alcoholic, I'll have to find a different way to sober up.

Beth and I are going to the Monster-Mania Convention this weekend. It sounds like it should be fun. Expect some comments on the convention in the near future, as well as a review of Button-Bright of Oz. (I've made it through eighty out of 123 pages of Button-Bright, so I should be finished reading it pretty soon.)


Wednesday, August 25
 
My dad's old printer, which is what I have hooked up to my computer, has stopped working. I hope I don't have to buy a new one. I don't really even know how much they usually cost. Probably cheaper than getting an old one fixed, but more than I can afford.


 
Last night, I had a dream where I was using a computer, and, when I started it up, there was some weird quiz based on the contents of the hard drive. There was also a dream about getting lost in an area I should have known well, and one where Beth told me about HER dream, where her dog Dewey made friends with himself as a puppy.

Anyway, I mentioned that I might go into more detail on some of the issues that were addressed on Bullshit!, so I might as well start now, with the one on curse words. They talked to a few people who thought cursing was bad. One lady, who was a drivers' education teacher, advised using OTHER words in place of curses, which struck me as kind of silly, if you're using them in the same way you'd use curse words. A man thought that people who cursed were insulting his intelligence. Now, I've heard the argument that people who curse a lot are uncreative, and I guess I can see that in SOME situations. For instance, if someone says "fuck" for every other word, the word loses all effect, and the person probably does come off as sounding less intelligent, or at least less creative, than if they'd show a wider vocabulary. On the other hand, this is true if a person overuses ANY word, not just one that's been determined to be "bad." And there are times when a curse word is more appropriate and effective than a clever substitute.

I certainly think there are situations where certain words should be avoided out of consideration and politeness, but just saying, "These are words you should never say, because they're BAD" is kind of dumb. Personally, I tend to curse out loud quite a bit when I'm angry, but I rarely curse in writing, unless I'm quoting someone, or I really find it necessary. What I'll never really understand is when someone blanks out letters from a curse word. You know, like "f**k." What, they think people who might be offended aren't going to be able to mentally fill in the blanks?

Penn and Teller also brought up the FCC, but that's another subject entirely. I do have to say that they often come across as bullies, though.

I've started reading Harry Mongold's Button-Bright of Oz. It's been pretty good so far. I'll probably write a review on it soon, which I'm sure no one will read.

I'm listening to XTC's Skylarking, because I thought I should listen to it before the summer ended. I always associate that album with summer, not only because of songs like "Summer's Cauldron," but because I first bought it when I was taking summer classes. I was just getting into XTC at that point, and I quoted "The Ugly Underneath" (which is from Nonsuch, not Skylarking, by the way) in a paper. It turned out that my Research Writing professor was a fan. Who would have known?


Tuesday, August 24
 
Yesterday, Beth and I went to Clementon Park. It was fun, and they gave us free passes to come back another weekday, since their new roller coaster isn't running yet. On pretty much every ride, somebody was yelling that they wanted to get off as soon as the ride started. I don't know whether it was a running gag from a certain group of people, or just individuals thinking that was a funny thing to yell. With that in mind, it surprised me that someone honestly DID want to get off the Ferris wheel, and they let her off. I agree that Ferris wheels are pretty scary, since they stop in the air and all. The one at Clementon is much smaller than the one at Great Adventure, though, so it didn't really bother me. I do have to wonder why they now have seatbelts (and very tight ones, at that) on the carousel, but not on the Ferris wheel. I mean, yes, it's unlikely that anyone would fall out, but it seems like it would be easy for some crazy person to jump out, and wouldn't the park be held liable for that? Oh, well. I guess the safety regulations people know better than I do.

I had some weird dreams last night, including ones that took place on New Year's, the last day of school, and a day near the beginning of the school year. In the latter, I was trying to find where my German class was being held, but the sheet of paper I had listed several different classrooms. There was also a dream where I was seeing a band live (I think it was supposed to be the Talking Heads, although they were nothing like the actual Talking Heads, who aren't together anymore anyway), and they had an annoying little boy and girl doing a song-and-dance routine in between numbers.

I don't know how accurate this is, but someone on one of my Oz mailing lists linked to this page. They're apparently considering Hilary Duff for an upcoming Muppet version of The Wizard of Oz. Seriously, why is that girl famous? She can't act, and she can't sing.

One interesting line from the rumor article:

"L. Frank Baum fans that I've spoken with about this proposed casting actually seem cautiously optimistic. Why for? Because -- should Hillary Duff sign to play Dorothy in 'The Muppets' Wizard of Oz' -- this will be the first time in Hollywood history that Baum's heroine is portrayed just as L. Frank originally envisioned her ... as a blonde!"

That might actually be questionable, since Baum never identified Dorothy as a blonde in his books, and W. W. Denslow didn't draw her as one. On the other hand, John R. Neill did, and Baum frequently incorporated illustrators' visions into his views on Oz (even though I believe he said Neill's drawings were nothing like he imagined the characters), so it's quite possible he came to think of Dorothy as a blonde, even if he didn't in the first place. I believe he had blonde girls play Dorothy in his own Oz films.


Monday, August 23
 
Yesterday, I went to see two movies at the theater, which is some kind of new record for me, or something.

In the afternoon, I saw Napoleon Dynamite with my mom. I didn't much care for it. It was pretty dumb and slow-moving. Other people in the theater were laughing, but I didn't think it was all that funny. Kind of ridiculous, sure, but that's not automatically funny. About the only part I really liked was the opening credit sequence.

Oh, and according to the credits, Hayley Duff was in it, as a popular girl.

In the evening, Beth and I saw Exorcist: The Beginning. I thought it was pretty good, if not as much of a true horror movie as the first one. (Neither Beth nor I had seen the second or third ones, by the way.) I guess it was more of a religious-themed adventure movie with some horror thrown in. The actual exorcism was nowhere near as difficult or impressive, but I guess that made sense, since otherwise it would have been sort of a rehash of the first film. I did like the fact that there was a red herring in terms of who was actually possessed. It worked pretty well as a prequel, and I'd say it's worth seeing if you liked the first one, but it wasn't really all that scary, I guess.

Some people in the audience during Exorcist were really annoying. There were people talking loudly during the movie, laughing at inappropriate parts, and getting up and playing Musical Chairs for no apparent reason. Come on, people! When you go to see a movie at a theater, be respectful of the rest of the audience, okay?

I suppose I should also mention some of the previews. Before Napoleon Dynamite, there was a preview for something called First Daughter, about the President's daughter wanting to live a normal life. I wish I could remember this one line, since it was one the most clichéd lines ever. Before Exorcist, there were previews for TWO different zombie movies. Granted, one was a spoof, and the other a video game turned into a movie. Still, though, how many zombies can the movie-going public take?

After the movies, we went back to Beth's house and watched a few episodes of Bullshit! that we had missed before. I'd heard (or, in most cases, read) most of the arguments in the Bible one already, but I still liked the way they were presented. The ones on curse words and Alcoholics Anonymous were also good. Maybe I'll have more to say about them later, but I think this particular entry is long enough already.


Saturday, August 21
 
The hot weather we've been having around here recently has been kind of annoying, but I'm sure I'll be longing for it when it gets cold again. I do wish I could stop sweating, though.

I accidentally dropped my guitar pick inside the guitar while practicing today. I had a hell of a time getting it out.

Practicing the guitar is getting to be somewhat of a chore, and I don't even do it that much. I just wish I could get really good really quickly.

Anyway, according to The Road to Oz, today is Queen Ozma's birthday. I'm sure everyone who reads this knows I'm a big fan of the Oz books. I read my first when I was eleven, and it took me about ten years to read all of the more or less "official" books (often called the Famous Forty). I still read unofficial Oz books and stories whenever I can, though.

Outside of some very specialized channels, like the International Wizard of Oz Club and various Oz forums, I haven't known very many people who were interested in Oz. Most people seem to consider the books too corny, childish, old-fashioned, or something of the sort. I guess I can see these things, but they've never bothered me. I guess I like corniness, to a degree. I've known other people to say they liked the Oz books when they were younger, but were no longer interested in them. I suppose tastes change, but I have a hard time believing that I'll ever lose my interest in Oz. The books just strike me as the perfect mix of fantasy, adventure, and humor. They're light-hearted, but still engaging and exciting in their own way. I don't think I ever get immersed in other books as much as I do the Oz series. Oz is a place I'd definitely want to visit, and perhaps even live in, if it were real.

Oddly enough, Tori Amos' version of "Over The Rainbow" came up on Winamp. I suppose I should mention that I've never been a huge fan of the 1939 MGM film. It's good in its own way, but it just doesn't have the same appeal for me that the books do. It kind of bothers me that the movie is universally known and well-loved, while not that many people know or like the books. It's not that I deny the movie's right to exist or anything, but I think it gives people preconceptions about Oz that don't really apply to the book series.


Friday, August 20
 
Why, when I copied my files to CD-Rs and then put them back on my hard drive, did they all turn into read-only files? It's annoying.

I really don't have anything to write about. I was thinking of volunteering at Longwood Gardens today, but it's too busy there.

I'm not even going to bother cross-posting this entry to my livejournal. That probably means no one will read it, but so what?


Thursday, August 19
 
This library closes an hour earlier than usual tonight (10 instead of 11), and then I don't work again until September, except on Q&A NJ. That's unfortunate, since I could use some more money. I guess that's the drawback of working at academic libraries, though. They're usually closed when the school is.

Since I'm going to have a considerable amount of time off, I should probably do something fun. Beth and I are planning on going to Clementon Park, and probably Great Adventure again as well, since we have season passes and all. Any other ideas as to what we can do? (I'm sure no one will suggest anything, but I figured I might as well ask anyway.)

I read some more of my World Mythology book, and apparently there's also a flood legend in China. I wonder whether the scholars who associate Noah's flood with a flood of the Black Sea have taken this into account. Really, it's not too unlikely that multiple cultures would have come up with a flood myth on their own. Floods are pretty devastating, after all. The myths aren't necessarily all referring to any one actual event.


Wednesday, August 18
 
Am I to assume that it's the new "next blog" feature that leads to my getting search referrals from other blogs that don't mention mine at all? That's kind of annoying, because at first I thought people I didn't know were linking to me. No such luck, I suppose.


 
Yesterday, I went with Beth to see her newborn baby cousin Samantha. That night, we watched the episode of Penn and Teller's Bullshit! about love and romance. For some reason, it wasn't available On Demand back when it was new, but it is now. I thought it was pretty good, although I think there are more monogamous animals than the show said there were. I believe it only mentioned vultures and tapeworms, but I think that geese also mate for life, and I'm pretty sure there are other species that fit that qualification. The episode made fun of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and The Rules, which was cool. (Incidentally, I just recently found out that the title of the former book refers to the fact that the male and female symbols are the same as those for Mars and Venus, respectively. At least I assume that's where the title came from. That's the kind of thing you'd think I would know. I DID know that the symbol for Venus is a hand mirror, which makes it kind of sexist when also made to apply to the entire female gender.) I'm hoping I'll be able to see the Bullshit! episode on the Bible, since I was looking forward to that one (as I'm sure you could have guessed, based on past entries {g}), and it also wasn't up On Demand before.

We also saw part of Feardotcom, which Beth had already watched and hated. I can't say that I liked it any better than she did. Even the scenery and imagery came off as tacky. I'm sure they were trying to go for a creepy, run-down kind of look, but it ended up looking kind of cheap and bad-music-video-ish.


Tuesday, August 17
 
Beth and I were going to go to Clementon Park yesterday, but they closed it all day because it rained in the morning. Never mind that it didn't rain at all in the evening, which was when we would have gone. They have an odd inclement weather policy. We did go out to eat at Friday's, though.

I saw a little bit of the Olympics the other day. I'm just not interesting in sporting events in general, though, so they don't really hold my interest. I have to wonder if they're still as popular to the world in general. The whole idea sort of strikes me as outdated, but I AM largely out of touch with the rest of the world, so I don't know.

Beth is excited about going back to school. I, on the other hand, am glad that I won't have to deal with school for a while, if ever again. That's not to say that there aren't a few things about school that I miss, or that I would necessarily mind taking a few more classes. I hate having obligations, though, and school is all about obligations. Not to mention that you have to pay them all kinds of money. It's just not enjoyable. I do sometimes wish I could go back to college knowing what I know now, but even then I wouldn't be too eager to do homework and write papers.

I wish I could catch a darner dragonfly in Animal Crossing.


Sunday, August 15
 
It's getting hard to keep coming up with stuff to write. I sometimes wonder whether I should keep writing at all. I'm begging for attention, when I really don't have anything interesting or original to say. Maybe I should wait until I've actually done something before coming up with entries. As of late, I've mostly just been working and looking at stuff on the Internet.

It's really quiet and empty here at the library today.

When you get right down to it, the world is a pretty depressing place. There are always wars and natural disasters all over. I mean, I hear about hurricanes destroying people's houses down in Florida, and I just think that's something I'd never be able to handle. And that's far from the worst thing that happens in any given day. That's not to say that I'm depressed right now, but I sometimes find it hard to believe that humanity manages to cope with such an overall dreadful place. I guess that's one reason why some people turn to religion, or try to escape reality through ways regarded as both good (like imagination) and bad (like drugs).

See what I mean about not being able to come up with anything interesting or original? That last paragraph, while true, is trite and obvious.

In lighter news, the Olsen Twins' "dorm" is going to be an enormous Greenwich Village penthouse. Seriously, how did those stupid twins get so rich? Just by saying, "You got it, dude!" a lot when they were young?


 
The other day, I read some idiotic posts from the LiveJournal community dedicated to Beth's school, and it got me thinking back to my own college experience. Overall, I guess I was kind of lucky. I was in the first class of the Honors College at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (dumb name, I know), and I think it worked to my advantage that the whole thing hadn't been totally organized yet. I actually think I might have ended up having an easier time of it than if I had taken non-honors courses for my basic requirements. I remember talking to people who were sophomores and freshmen when I was a senior, and the classes already seemed to have gotten much harder.

The majority of the Honors College lived in the same dorm, and I think that helped me with socialization, since I knew most of the people there from the honors classes. It was probably the time of my life when I was the most sociable. That's a very relative thing, of course, and I still had a lot of social anxieties. It was rare when I was comfortable enough with someone to actually seek out their company. More often, I would just talk to people when I ran into them. Still, I probably wouldn't even have done that if I had lived in one of the non-honors dorms. I know there were some charges of the people in the honors dorm being elitists, but I always thought that was based on ignorance. Being insular doesn't necessarily imply elitism. And, of course, not everyone in the dorm was insular. I was, but that's my way.

Since I lived in a specialty dorm, it was rare that they would move in new students in the middle of the school year. I somehow managed to scare away three out of my four roommates, and every time I ended up with a double all to myself. That was lucky for me, but I do have to wonder if I was really that horrible to live with.

One part of the college experience that I never, well, experienced was that of going to parties and getting drunk. I DID go to a party where some people got drunk and thought "couscous" was the funniest word ever, but it was at a professor's house. I never attended the stereotypical college party, where kids drank three times their own volume in beer, and the cops had to break it up. I never wanted to, either. In fact, college turned me off of alcohol, since I associated it with rowdy parties. I'm not as much against it now, because I've since met people who could drink without being rowdy. That's not to say I don't still realize that drunkenness and alcoholism are serious problems, or that I drink at all regularly now; but I don't mind alcohol in general as much as I did back then, and I'll drink an alcoholic beverage on occasion.

A somewhat unrelated thought I have about college is that it's largely become an institution. It's no longer a place for those interested in further scholarly pursuits, but sort of a second high school for young adults (meant in the literal sense in that they're people who just became adults, not in the way book publishers use the term). I never really thought of college as something I had much of a choice in doing, and I think that's a common idea nowadays. People say they go to college to get a good job, but, while that might still be the case for those studying in certain fields, so many people have college degrees and jobs that they could have gotten with a high school education or less, if they have jobs at all. After I graduated, my first three jobs were at a toy store, a frame store, and Kmart. College isn't the only factor in this, I'm sure. I understand that the economy is horrible, and I'm not all that aggressive in pursuing work. I don't really think I should have to be, but that's a different topic altogether. I do think, however, that college degrees are becoming progressively less valuable.


Friday, August 13
 
Hotmail has finally started allowing more storage for their basic accounts. I guess that means I'll be able to start receiving attachments through there. Not that I'm going to open messages with attachments unless I've received advance notification of them.

Speaking of e-mail, I haven't received a single real message since I went to bed about eight hours ago. I hate it when I check my mail for the first time during the day, and there's nothing new. I guess it IS a lot earlier than usual, but still.

I need to come up with something else to write about. I hate posting really short entries. Actually, I have no problem with blogging short things, but I don't like to put them in my LiveJournal. I guess it has something to do with the fact that an LiveJournal entry just strikes me as a bigger production. My original plan was to only cross-post my longer and/or more significant entries, but I'm getting to the point where I don't see that as making much sense. As it is, people who read my journal in only one format are missing out on stuff (not that they're likely to care), while those who read both (if there are any) have to see most of the entries twice. I'm not planning on changing my posting format, but I've been steering away from having blog-only entries as of late, and I'll probably continue with that trend.

I suppose that, as someone who spends a lot of time in New Jersey, I should address Governor McGreevey's resignation. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure why he's resigning. I've seen some mentions of a planned lawsuit by a former aide, but the few articles I've read mention that only briefly, instead focusing on McGreevey's affair and coming out of the closet, neither of which has anything to do with his performance as Governor. From what I've read, I like McGreevey's tax policies, but his rejection of gay marriage comes off as quite hypocritical, knowing what we know now. Kind of the textbook example of a repressed homosexual, I guess.


Thursday, August 12
 
It's depressing that it's become so late in the summer. I kind of feel like I've wasted the season. I mean, I've enjoyed it a fair amount, but I don't know that I've done all I could to take advantage of the long days and warm weather. Oh, well. I guess it's not totally over yet. Time does go by so quickly these days, though. I hope we don't have another bad winter. I hate ice and snow, as you could easily tell from going back and reading any of my posts from past winters.

I had a dream last night that I attended some kind of event where I got a bunch of free CDs, including something I didn't have by either the Young Fresh Fellows or the Minus Five. There was another one where I was staying in some hotel that had over 1000 floors, and I was riding in the elevator for no real reason. I wish the former dream had been real, but the latter probably would frighten me, since I'm scared of heights.

I made it through Leviticus and part of Numbers yesterday.

This entry was pretty pointless, wasn't it?


Wednesday, August 11
 
I haven't written in some time, have I? There really isn't anything much I have to say. I've been spending most of the last few days on the Internet, looking up stuff that I'm sure is of no interest to anyone else. On Monday night, Beth and I went to eat at Denny's, which was good.

I wish I could find a full-time job. I like my part-time jobs, but I'm just not making enough money. Anybody know of a library job I could have? I didn't think so.

Nonestica has been officially shut down. No big deal, I guess, but I hardly think the problems there were all that severe.

On at least two different forums, I've seen people criticize the trend of Bush-bashing. Fortunately, Bush supporters seem to be in the minority on both of those forums. That's not my main problem with that, though. The bigger issue is that these people seem to present bashing the President as something new and undesirable, when it's been around for ages, and is actually a large part of the basis for the country. I mean, if the Founding Fathers had just decided to sit back and support King George III, the United States as we know it wouldn't exist, right? So why should Americans sit back and support our own King George? Never mind that a lot of the people who think we should stand behind the President criticized Clinton all the time, and often for dumber things. A healthy lack of trust for our leaders is part of what makes this country great.

Yesterday, I finished reading Exodus, and got through part of Leviticus. I really do plan to read the entire Bible eventually. I've read bits and pieces of it, and I read the entire books of Daniel and Revelation for my Apocalyptic Literature course in college, but never the whole thing.


Saturday, August 7
 
I've gotten to the point in my beginning book on guitar chords where it talks about the syncopated strum. It strikes me as awfully complicated. I'm really not very good at playing chords in general. It takes me too long to switch from one to the other, and my finger positioning could be much better. I do think the up-down strum is more fun than simply strumming down on each beat, though. I guess I'll get better if I keep practicing, but, while I try to practice every day, I don't always succeed.

I've been doing more casual research on mythological matters, especially the connection between the planets and the days of the week, and of the planet Venus to a fallen angel. It's well-known that "Lucifer," the Latin name for the morning star (i.e., Venus), is often used as another name for Satan, but I also found a mention that the Hebrew name for the planet was "Khazazel," a name closely resembling that of Azazel, a fallen angel mentioned in the Book of Enoch (which I read back when I was taking an Apocalyptic Literature course in college), and mentioned somewhere in the Torah in conjunction with sacrificing goats (the "azaz" part presumably means "goat"). A Google search for "Khazazel" results in so few results that I'm not sure how true that part is. I guess it requires more research.

According to this forum, Scott McCaughey, Carolyn Mark, and Jon Langford played some shows together in the Pacific Northwest recently. I know nothing about Langford, but it would be really cool to see both of those other people in the same night. I guess it's not too surprising that they know each other, since Scott mixed the Corn Sisters' record.


Friday, August 6
 
I filled out an application at a bookstore today. It asked a few yes or no questions, and they all had a "Yes" check box and then a "No" box, with one exception. The question asking if I'd been convicted of a crime had the "No" box first. Are they hoping people will slip up and admit to crimes they didn't commit? Or are they just trying to see if you're paying attention?

Anyway, to get to the main thrust of this post, I generally consider myself to be a fairly tolerant person, but there are some behaviors that I just have trouble accepting. A big one here is drug use. I have trouble respecting people who do drugs. Is that wrong? I mean, I can justify it to myself by saying that it's a matter of choice, and drug users made a stupid choice. I'm sure there are people who can do drugs without hurting anybody, and who can still function normally. It still makes me uncomfortable, though. Maybe it's largely my incredibly sheltered life. Drugs were just never part of my paradigm, and it's disturbing that they are for a significant portion of society. Am I being intolerant through ignorance? I have to wonder about that sometimes. There are other kinds of behavior I tend to be intolerant toward, like sleeping around, for instance. The drug issue is the one I seem to keep coming back to, though.

I've been looking up stuff about similarities between the Bible and pagan religions. There are some interesting comparisons out there. Not that they'd be likely to interest most other people. I'm so boring, aren't I?


Thursday, August 5
 
The moderator of the Nonestica discussion list is shutting it down as of the end of this month. I don't agree with his reasons for the decision, but what are you going to do? Besides, there's another Oz list in place, so I can still get my fix of Oz discussion. Still, I've been on that list and its predecessor for nearly eight years, so I guess it's sort of the end of an era, or something.

I've been reading the mythology book that I bought a B. Dalton a week or so ago. I've been interested in mythology for a long time. I think I was around ten when I first started getting into it, and it's still a significant interest of mine. The book I'm reading touches upon many different cultures, and it's interesting to find out how much different mythological systems have in common. I knew there was a flood story similar to the Biblical one in the Epic of Gilgamesh, but they apparently had similar stories in Greek and Indian mythology as well. I also learned that there's a Celtic goddess named Epona, who must have been the namesake for Link's horse in Ocarina of Time.

Today, Beth and I volunteered at WHYY in Philadelphia, stuffing envelopes for the kids' birthday club and pledge reminders. After that, I had some Chick-fil-A, and rode two trains home, due to some kind of technical difficulties or something. The delay was only a few minutes, so it's scarcely worth writing about, but, really, what else do I have going on? {g}


Wednesday, August 4
 
I finished reading L. Frank Baum's Animal Fairy Tales at work today. It was a short but interesting read, being made up of nine short stories about animals. It' s interesting that three of the stories feature an animal challenging another animal for the position of King. In one of these stories, the animal who is challenged is a buffalo who has made a deal with the Evil Genius, who is portrayed as a sort of buffalo Devil. There are also the familiar Baumian concepts of an inanimate object being brought to life, and an alleged wise man (or, in this case, ape) being exposed as a fraud. There are clearly shades of the Frogman, Kwytoffle, the Wise Men of Gotham (from Mother Goose in Prose), and even the Wizard of Oz himself in the story of Chip-Cheloogoo. The stories aren't Baum's best by any means, but they were fun to read.

On Queer Eye for the Straight Guy last night, they played part of the Pixies' "Here Comes Your Man." That was pretty cool to hear.

Today, I bought a used copy of a Replacements album for $3. I've had mixed feelings about the Replacements songs I've heard, and I've seen comments to the effect that some of their albums were really good and others really not-so-good. If I don't like it, though, it was only $3, so that's no big deal.

The people working at the used CD store were apparently really against John Kerry, and one of them was telling the other one about how Kerry's campaign party didn't actually EAT the Wendy's food they bought a few days ago. This demonstrates how Kerry is an elitist who wants to be seen as a regular guy, or something. Hey, maybe they could make a scandal out of it! How does "Wendysgate" sound? I guess it's about as relevant to someone's performance as a leader as that whole Monica Lewinsky thing, after all. I'm willing to give the campaign party the benefit of a doubt, though. Maybe they didn't realize Wendy's had changed their chicken sandwich until after they'd gotten back to their vehicle.


Tuesday, August 3
 
I reinstalled The Sims and the first expansion pack on my computer last night, and played the game for a little while. It's still kind of fun, but it's very much just going through the motions at this point. There's really nothing new to do. I guess I still haven't really explored the last two expansion packs, but they didn't run very well on my computer. That was shortly before the hard disk crash, so maybe they wouldn't have as many problems now. Maybe I'll try reinstalling them, but as of now I'm thinking that can wait until the mysterious and possibly never-to-exist time known as When I Get A New Computer. Superstar really didn't strike me as that much fun anyway. It seemed to be too much work for very little reward. I'll probably still try making a Sim famous someday, though. Makin' Magic had more potential for fun, I think. I kind of long for the days when just playing the regular game was interesting and exciting. Then again, I remember not getting much else done back then. I've heard that The Sims 2 is coming out soon. I wonder what they've changed for that.

In other news, Camper Van Beethoven is scheduled to play at the TLA in September. At least, Pollstar says they're supposed to; the concert isn't listed on the band's own site. I guess I'll have to keep checking for information. I was hoping that a combination CVB/Cracker show would make it to Philadelphia, since I still haven't seen Cracker live, but CVB alone isn't too shabby. (Hmm, the letters "CVB" are right in a row on the keyboard. Never noticed that before.) If all goes as scheduled, this should be after their new album is released. It's annoying that so many shows I want to see are at the TLA, though. I guess that's because they're all too big for the Trocadero, but too small for the Electric Factory or Tower Theater. The Trocadero and Tower are close to public transportation, though, while the Electric Factory has relatively convenient parking areas. The TLA really isn't that close to anything. More convenient than the North Star Bar, I suppose, but still.


Monday, August 2
 
Isn't it annoying when music books tell you to play songs in different ways from how they sound on the actual recordings?

On a totally unrelated note, I'll admit I don't know much about relationships, but I will say that I'm all for certainty in dating. I mean, I can see how there can be some confusion before a couple starts officially and exclusively dating, but it seems like too many people have confusion AFTERWARDS as well. You know, "I'm kind of going out with this person, but I'm sort of going out with this other person too." My thought on the matter is that, if you're officially "partners" (I hate that term, but I don't know a better one), and not simply casually dating, there shouldn't be any confusion. Beth has said she sees a relationship as an oral contract, and I can definitely see that. If you've agreed to be in a relationship with someone, you're obligated to stick with it until what time, if any, you break up. Cheating is never okay. Granted, different couples can define cheating differently; it's a relative thing. I suppose a couple can even agree to have an "open" relationship. I'm not necessarily morally opposed to that idea, but I do think it's impractical, for many reasons, jealousy and confusion being two major ones. Still, if that's what you want to do, I'd advise against it, but I don't think it's immoral per se. Open relationships are very rare, though, while cheating and "I don't know if I'm this person's boyfriend/girlfriend" confusion seem to be unpleasantly common.


Sunday, August 1
 
It's been so hot and muggy as of late. I guess I wouldn't have the humidity problem if I lived in New Mexico, like my dad does.

Anyway, last night, Beth and I watched two movies on demand: Bowling for Columbine and Wendigo.

Bowling for Columbine was pretty good, but I liked Fahrenheit 9/11 better. Bowling made some good points and explored some interesting issues, but I thought it wasn't organized that well. Fahrenheit had a better flow. There were definitely some common themes in both films. They both emphasized the current of fear in the United States, as well as racism. I thought the comparison of the killer bee scare to racism was clever, even if it wasn't strictly relevant. I also thought the Marilyn Manson was particularly good. (I vaguely recall hearing that the shooters in Columbine weren't really even Manson fans, but I could certainly be wrong about that.) There was also a part explaining how stupid "zero tolerance" policies are, and I couldn't agree more. Not only do some of the rules make no sense, but insisting that one set of rules should apply to all situations is quite absolutist. I also didn't know that the day of the Columbine massacre was also the heaviest day so far of the American bombing of Kosovo.

I did find it a little mathematically sloppy that Michael Moore gave raw numbers instead of percentages when talking about gun deaths in various countries. I don't necessarily think this was intentionally misleading, just not the best way to present the data. Speaking of statistics in the documentary, I find it kind of hard to believe that only 18% of Canada is non-white, especially when you consider that the majority of the people in the nothern parts of Canada are probably non-white. I guess there aren't very many people there, though. Of course, if the true figure is higher, that would actually prove Moore's point BETTER, since he was trying to debunk the myth of Canada being racially homogeneous (not that I ever believed that anyway).

I guess my own view on guns is similar to my view on drugs. I think they're both bad, but a total ban probably isn't the best solution in either case. It's largely a cultural thing, I suppose. I do think it shouldn't be so easy to get guns, though. I mean, just look at how easy it is to get one at a gun show, for instance.

By the way, the film played "Take The Skinheads Bowling" during the opening credits, which was pretty cool. It was a cover by Teenage Fanclub, rather than the Camper Van Beethoven original, though.

The other movie we watched, Wendigo, was, to put it bluntly, boring. It kind of struck me as being an overly long (and it was only ninety minutes, so that's saying something) amateur student film. It was packed with symbolism, with images of Indians and deer popping up everywhere. There was also a lot of use of sped-up and slowed-down footage. I think that footage was supposed to be what was going on in the kid's mind, but it reeked of cheap, easy special effects. By the way, the kid was played by the boy who plays Dewey on Malcolm in the Middle. I thought it looked like him, but I figured I was just seeing a resemblance where there wasn't one. I thought the same thing about Hal Sparks in Spider-Man 2, though.

I had a dream last night where Beth and I wanted to get notebooks with Game Boy Advances built into them. I really DO want a Game Boy Advance, but I'm thinking maybe I should wait until the DS comes out. And I might want an iPod even more. I'm not sure.

Did anyone else get a notice from PayPal about the class action suit that's being filed against them? Did anyone actually understand it?