Friday, March 31

Arts & Letters Daily

There's a new addition to the 'must see' set of links to the left. It's Arts & Letters Daily, not so much a site as a gateway to a bunch of fascinating articles. The links are ordered under three categories; Articles of Note (typically shorter stuff), New Books (book reviews) and Essays and Opinion (longer stuff). Before I say anything else, I would like to point out that the site design is very clean and effective. You can find everything easily.

The articles are heart and soul of the site with such a wonderful variety of topics. With the anniversary of "Electric Kool-Aid Test" and "Selfish-Gene" there have a number of articles on those and their lasting effects, but the variety is wonderful. I have seen and read articles on "A Clockwork Orange," the economics of Fair Trade Coffee and the spat between Hume and Rousseau. If you have a half hour or so, check it out. You'll probably find something that piques your interest and make you think.

Thursday, March 30

Good people, really bleeding good people

My Mass Communications professor said sometime ago that there are two types of people in this world, those who build others up and those who are toxic and destroy those around them. I would like to add a third group of people to this list, those whom you perceive to be so good that they bring to mind your own deficiencies, causing, in a wonderul two-for-one hate towards them and feelings of depression in yourself, only accentuated by your hate for them. These people are the type who manage to be unimaginably intelligent, friendly, athletic, active, helpful and still volunteer obscene amounts of their time. Include a fair helping of humility on top of all this, and they're the perfect person to hate. In many cases, I can manage to transmute these feelings into an unspoken competition of sorts, an impetus for becoming a better person. Unfortunately, if I cannot see the flaws in these wonderful people, I cannot envision myself matching them. They are simply too far above me. I can reason through all the possible reasons for liking them, they're a decent person, they want to make the world a better place, whatever, and I still can't break free from my untowardly harsh feelings toward them.

What does this mean? What should I do? The eternal questions arise.

What does this mean? It means I'm not content or happy. I know that I can still become better, and these people are what I want to become. I realize how far away I am from becoming what I want to be, and that, my friends, is hideously depressing.

What should I do then? Depression is not a pleasant state to exist in. There are only two options that I can see. Either I can settle, admit that I am a flawed person and wallow in these lowering of my standards or strive to become like them. I think it's clear which I prefer. Now I just need to put that choice into action.

Tuesday, March 28

Good times, bad times

Last Friday a question occurred to me. Why is it that we remember the bad times, the horrific events in our lives the worst? When you ask somebody, they can tell you the exact place they were when they heard that John F. Kennedy was assasinated. Myself, I was in French class, right before our AP time started when our principal came over the intercom and announced that all teachers should turn on their TVs because something monumental was happening. I figured it was a joke of some manner, that Michael Jordan had publicly declared that he would be returning to basketball again until CNN came on, and I saw the Twin Towers smoking. Why is this? Why do these events stick in our minds so strongly? I believe that it's because we know and expect that good things are coming. Marriage proposals are the result of a long period of dating and courting. Championships come only after smaller wins. First, you take your region or conference, then state and finally the nation or, for some, the world. These good times don't arrive as shocks and aren't ingrained in our memories the same way.

This could all be trash though. When I threw this out to my friends at the lunch table, they could all remember when they first realized what was happening on September, 11th, but, when I offered the counter-example of Kerri Strug's sticking her final event with an injured foot to earn the gold for the American women's gymnastic team, quite a few of them remembered where they were because they were watching it happen.

Friday, March 24

Forever Midnight

That had to be one of the worst possible prom themes ever. Okay, I'll admit that saying that is hyperbole (the sophomore class at my old high school tried to have a HIM themed Holiday Ball with dead trees or something hanging from the ceiling, and the decorations were nice at the Forever Midnight prom). Come on though, where does one find any romanticism at the time of midnight? It's the witching hour! I, for one, find it rather difficult to keep love in my mind when thoughts of demons and unholy cults performing their profane sacraments keep intruding. Clocks striking midnight are not a symbol of happiness. They signify the final hour. After midnight has struck, the day is over and any deadlines you had that day are now missed. In superhero movies, when does that poor person need to be rescued from rape and muggings? At night.

If anyone is going to come down on me for not joining some committee and working for some superior theme, I would like to point out that Forever Midnight did not destroy my prom experience and making fun of it after the fact is a lot more fun.

Thursday, March 23


So, it took a little longer than I had initially promised, but I assure that the wait was well worth it for the first installment of the feature I have decided to simply call, "must see."

First up is Metaphilm, one of the most interesting, deep and hilarious sites I have ever found. If you're trying to envision it, think of a collection of movie reviews. Now forget the review part. This site's contributor's aren't concerned with how good or bad a movie is (How else do you explain the presence of Alien vs. Predator on Metaphilm?), but the true meanings of film, from movies as disparate as Fight Club, Akira and I Heart Huckabees, are. Connections are drawn between the conspiracy theories surrounding the assasination of President Kennedy and the board game turned movie Clue and between the celebrated comic Calvin and Hobbes and Fight Club. Both are personal favorites and make a visit worthwhile. Besides these interprative essays, Metaphilm also has a number of fascinating links which consider the purpose of film and the experience of watching it.

At a philosophical level this site's greatest appeal, for me, is its structure. Metaphilm's contributors look for and find meaning in everything. All movies, no matter how banal or excellent, are passages to greater understanding. For them, life has meaning and is very much worth living.

Okay, the last paragraph is a overly romantic, considering how sarcastic these writers can be and how lightly they treat some movies, but I still stand by it. If someone can find any redeeming worth at all in Gothika, it gives me hope for everything else.

Tuesday, March 21

New Feature

I'd don't have much time before my morning classes start, but I'd like to alert everyone to a new feature coming to Spice of Life, a listing and comments upon the best web sites I've found. As you can tell, I haven't yet come up with some clever name yet, but that is a good description. There's a lot of trash and worthless sites on the web but there are a number of good ones that exist alongside them, and I would like to share the best of those that I have found with you all. Hopefully I'll start this afternoon, but, in the meantime, I suggest you all install Mozilla Firefox and the Stumble! extension, available on the Mozilla website, which will take you to a random website based on some preferences you set upon installation and ratings assigned by other Stumble! users. It'll make every day of surfing the Internet a wild and crazy adventure or, at least, more so than it used to be.

Monday, March 20

Meaning of Names

I don't know how much more mileage I can get out of this topic, but I have to be getting close to the end of the line. Whatever the case may be, I'm going to drain every drop of thought I can from it.

This time I'm considering the meanings behind the names of people. If you have been with me for a while or were simply overcome with the urge to read my archives, you'll hopefully remember a post from a few weeks back on naming a baby. Likely one of the more distinctive facets of that post was my preference for demonic names like Mephistopheles and Baal. Clearly, there are some massively negative connotations associated with those names. Generally, I simply liked the sound of these names, but some of the other names like those drawn from mythology and I found pleasure in their allusions to these great figures. Now I'm asking myself just how important the connections drawn by these names are. Is it right to arbitrarily give someone a name with such a terrible history or does meaning not come into it at all?

First of all, I refuse to believe that names determine a person's personality anymore than their Zodiac sign or the lines on their palm. A person can always go by a nickname or last name or something. Still, what would it say if we were to completely divorce a name from any meaning whatsoever, appropriate the elements we liked and ignored the rest? Do we agree with and accept Bruce Willis' line in Pulp Fiction, "Our names don't mean shit," or do we seek and find meaning in all aspects of our lives? Something that ought definitely to be considered within the larger framework of our life philosophies.

At least one can always hope that people, in general, are too ignorant to recognize the source of these names and give the person any flak for them.

Sunday, March 19


Honesty is a rather big issue with me, but, as I grow older, this virtue, that was made so simple in Sesame Street when whatever monster comes clean and admits to breaking the other monster's new bike and immediately felt better and everything returned to normal, grows more complex. This post is devoted to investigating and trying to resolve my problems with it.

The best place, as always, is to begin at the beginning. Here it's the question, "What is honesty?," the answer being what all resulting thoughts must hold to. For me, the definition is two-fold. First, honesty requires one to tell the truth, or for many people their perspective on the truth, without making up events or exaggerating while the second aspect is being wholly open. Omitting a critical detail like you insulted the person before they punched your nose may not be a lie per se, but it's certainly dishonest.

Largely, I believe that the first part of the definition should be held to as much as possible. For obvious reasons, lying to avoid responsibility or punishment or whatever is not something one should do. Getting caught in such a lie breaks trust which is necessary to the healthy continuation of personal relationships. The only situation where I would advocate lies is in avoiding a convoluted, meaningless explanation that would only serve to confuse someone and not benefit them otherwise. Rather than go through and explain every step of why you were prevented from going to the library, just say that extenuating circumstances came up.

The difficulty with honesty really arises from the second part. First of all, it's impossible to be completely open at all times and neither should being wholly open be advocated. Can one even express their immediate response to everything that happens around them? I guess they could but nothing would ever happen. We'd spend hours discussing our reactions and counter-reactions and counter-counter-reactions and so on to every statement. Furthermore, our immediate reactions are rarely valid. We have all made bad first impressions and seen them. We don't immediately declare our thoughts to these people. We give them the benefit of the doubt, taking the time to fully consider the whole of our encounter, and hope they show us the same courtesy. We ought especially to be open about those things we aren't proud of. Keeping our sins close to us keeps us from seeing them in their entirety. We need to get them out there, so we can begin making amends.

Now comes the important part. Am I an honest person? Do I follow these criteria that I have spent some time considering? Well, for the first aspect of honesty, I do hope so. If a person asks for an explanation, I try my hardest to make sure I am fully truthful, though there are some issues that I will steadfastly refuse to answer, which leads into my difficulties. Am I an open person? Though I try, the answer is far from yes. As I said before, there are some questions (mostly concerning my attraction to those of the opposite gender and some of my personal failures or sins) from some people that I will simply not answer or reveal that I am lying through my teeth before giving an answer. This is not healthy. How can I expect to form a healthy personality if I'm not fully open and expose myself to other perspectives or advice?

Where this gets interesting is that I don't really mind people knowing these things. I just can't admit to them. If a person guesses right about who I'm attracted to, as recently happened, I own up. It's general, probing questions that throw up all sorts of resistance. Perhaps it's seeing the people as I reveal these things that messes me up. Maybe if I wrote my answers down and left the room, I could and would be a more open person. Something for me to consider and try and work towards.

New blog link

Check out the list under Blogs of Repute. It's ranks have swelled by one with the addition of a new blog started by my good friend from high school, Zach. He's an interesting person and knows other interesting people, so it should be fun. Visit it and find another perspective on life.

Saturday, March 18

Pride and Prejudice

Before I went to college, I never even considered reading a Jane Austen novel. Now, in the space of four months I have spent something like twelve hours watching Jane Eyre and the two versions of Pride and Prejudice, in three sittings. That's a lot of British accents and romance. Anyway, I thought that putting down my thoughts on the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice and the remake with Keira Knightley who is so terribly pretty.

I'll come out and say this now. I preferred the BBC version though it is really hard to approach the modern version after watching it since there are certain scenes and characters you become attached to that are inevitably cut out or given smaller roles. That's not to say that Keira Knightley's version was a disappointment. It simply wasn't as good. To a large extent, I preferred the BBC's actors, possibly because they were given more screentime and opportunity to develop their characters like Mr. Wickham who desperatley needed more time on screen because his was such an important character. With regards to the new Mr. Collins, I simply did not like the more serious and less comic take on him. Colin Firth definitely is the better Mr. Darcy, being able to portray prouder side than the rather mopey Matthew Macfadyen. Then we come to the showdown between Jennifer Ehle and the Oscar nominated Keira Knightley. As I see it, it's a battle between a more reserved, aloof take on Elizabeth Bennet from Jennifer Ehle and Keira Knightley's more passionate acting. I had a friend who said she hated Keira Knightley in the role because she was so aware of how beautiful she was and spent all of her time emphasizing that. I disagree and have to say that I prefer Keira Knightley in the role. She was simply more interesting than Ehle. Besides, Ehle's curls drove me up the wall.

Besides, the characters, who, of course, are the heart of this film, I have to give the remake the advantage in most everything else except for the few new scenes. The cinematography was far more interesting, for one thing utilizing a moving camera more than a few times and some great extended shots. At the very least, it made the dance scenes much more fun. Also, one thing that really bothered me about the BBC version was that it really didn't seem like the Bennets were that bad off and could have survived not getting their daughters married so quickly, except for a few scenes of father Bennet shaking his head over the accounts. The modern version shows the family in circumstances that are a bit more on the edge. One thing I particularly loved was the new color scheme. While the BBC stuck with a brilliant green for the outdoors and white and black for the indoors, the new version emphasized a mix of warm colors and neutrals all over the place. It simply looked better. I mentioned the new scenes earlier. Personally, I loved the shot of Mr. Bingley prepping with Mr. Darcy before meeting Jane again. It was truly amusing, but the Mrs. Darcy bit and that line before Elizabeth and Darcy's first kiss ("My hands are cold?!?!") were rather silly and far more suited for lighter fare.

There you have it. My thoughts on the film adaptations of a literary classic. Guess I should read the novel now.

Friday, March 17


My relationship with my hair is a complicated one. Of all aspects of my physical appearance, I guess that it is the one I am most vain about. My face isn't that great, though my eyes are okay, I guess, I'm rather pale and I have never had a defined set of muscles that made me want to go around without my shirt on.

Thus, I have long depended upon my hair as my most beautiful attribute, which is very strange considering how much I've neglected and abused my hair. If you've kept up with my blog at all, you'll know I had dreadlocks a while ago. Maybe two years ago, I dyed it a brilliant blue, which quickly faded to a rather sickly green. On top of all that, I get maybe two haircuts a year and buy the cheapest shampoos and conditioners I can find.

So, here I am with hair that I put about as little effort into as possible but still believe is beautiful. I guess this is the result of being told for years that beauty is on the inside, a message I took to heart so that I now put no effort into my appearance, especially that which I consider my greatest aspect. Maybe, if I'm not naturally beautiful, I shouldn't try and force it. I should remain the way I was made and not fight my nature.

Looking back, this is one of my stranger posts. Maybe I'll edit it later to make it more coherent or find some great, underlying message in it all. Have a happy St. Patrick's Day.

Wednesday, March 15

Here we go

Okay everyone. It's the fifth day of spring break, I've taken care of all the homework that I can do, and I'm feeling the urge to write. Get ready for insane amounts of posts over the next few days. I'm hoping to make ten new posts by Monday.

Also, if you haven't noticed, the first link to a fellow blogger has been posted on Life's Spice. It's to Compos Mentis and is maintained by a good friend of mine. Kind of a mix between a diary as he relates the events of his life and various theories he has come across or come up with. Has a strong community so there are a fair number of thoughtful responses made to his posts and more than a few viewpoints are presented. I strongly urge you to check it out, now.

Friday, March 3

Webcomics, Part 2

So, tomorrow turned into a week plus a day. You all may have missed my posts and experienced some minor, passing depression, but I certainly wasn't. I wasn't updating because I was too busy having fun with journalism and other wild craziness that occupied my time. Anyway, here we go again. The conclusion to a blogging epic, my thoughts on why you should read the same webcomics as I do.

Ctrl+Alt+Del (
Another one of the heavy hitters. It's been around since 2002 and recently announced that it would be producing professionally animated and voiced shorts available to its websites premium subscribers. Yeah, it's big, and it doesn't violate copyright laws as grotesquely as 8-Bit Theater, so it can get away with selling books of its archives. It's a little hard to give this a roaring recommendation to everyone because it's so topical and focuses on a certain audience, video gamers, but to those who keep up-to-date on the latest news in the gaming industry, it's gold. Still, for those who don't care about games, it's still strong enough to recommend to the adventurous or those with copious amounts of time. Of all the webcomics with the joke-a-day format I check, it has matured the most of them all. The illustrations have greatly improved since the beginning, but its strongest point is its characters. The relationships between them all are incredibly well-developed, and the writer has kept it interesting with major changes in the circumstances of the character's lives.

Sinfest (
This is, my opinion (which I won't call humble since I'm willing to post it for all the world to see), the greatest webcomic on the Internet. It touches on life's questions and avoids cliches. Come on, God and Satan are characters, and they're funny! What's funnier than the greatest good and evil in existence? A rather pathetic wanna-be player, a philosophical wanna-be whore, some break dancing bookish boy and God's and Satan's respective fanboys! And they're all together in the glory that is Sinfest! It's simply too much. I have laughed out loud more than a few times and take every opporunity to expose my friends and professors to Sinfest. There are flaws, flat characters and some repetitive strips in the past few months, but the current story arc, which is simply amazing, looks to upset this pretty big. Unfortunately, this comic has been on hiatus for the last month and a bit. Gives you all the more opportunity to catch up on the extensive archives. Big warning, lots of sexual innuendo and cursing and stuff that'll offend you if you take your religion seriously and don't like seeing it get made fun of.

Partially Clips (
A particularly brilliant webcomic, Partially Clips repeats a piece of clip art three times and adds speech. Hilarity ensues. It's a bit more hit-or-miss than some of the other, hits more often than not, but the brilliance of the gems can beat out anything out there. Be sure to check out Penguin Mom, Gun Fighters, Rock Star, Students on the Steps and Hot Air Balloon (as long as you aren't offended by a certain strong expletive). These are gold. A huge recommendation for this one to everyone in spite of many instances of sexual innuendo and cursing. It's high brow, and you to think about these for a little while. That and their style is just so original.

MegaTokyo (
Undoubtedly the comic which the most work goes into. The drawings are beautfiul and very professionally done for something being freely distributed on the Internet. They are simply wonderful. The characters are expressive and various angles and distances are utilized to great effect. The story is nothing to scoff at either, about people trying to get a grip on themselves and their relationships in the craziness that is Tokyo. My only real gripe against this otherwise great comic is its frequent use of filler material, stuff that has no bearing on the story. Despite these accolades, it's hard to reccomend. The archives go back several years, and you'll need to read them all to understand the story and the complex character histories and relationships at all. You'll lose a week of your life catching up on it all. It's not a joke-a-day comic either, more in the style of a soap opera than anything else, so it's not for everyone. Those willing to spend their time on it will surely be rewarded though.

Get Fuzzy (
To round out my list, I present to you the second syndicated strip I follow, Get Fuzzy. It's been around for a while and chances are good that you've seen it on a newspaper page at some point. It's offbeat humor, very sarcastic and mean-spirited at times but thoroughly enjoyable. I'm simply at a loss as to what to say because it's just so unusual. Of course, it lacks an archive, so you'll have buy the anthologies if you want to get all the Get Fuzzy goodness you can get. A worthy successor to the legacy of Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side as one of the few comics worth reading in a daily paper.