Friday, November 30, 2007
No, wait. Better yet, forget imagining that you're a trucker. Just imagine whatever you think would be the the best thing a trucker might do. Now, any smart trucker is just going to go about his business and mourn the loss of life in a quiet way; he's not going to memorialize 9/11, at least not externally. No, you gotta imagine what a misguided trucker who left a few brain cells right next to the ephedrine on the bedside stand at Motel 6 might do.
So, if you're imagining a red, white, and blue 18-wheeler with murals on all sides, emblazoned with a slogan that reinterprets or even reimspiritinates "Never forget!" and "Always Remember!" and leaves them in the rhetorical dust, you're on the right track. Now, if there could be no greater trucker memorial than the one you're imagining, would it be only imaginary? Or would it be real? Or would it take the form of a miniature, radio-controlled semi sold at the Iowa 80 Truck Stop?
Of course, a real memorial is greater than an imaginary one, so if this really is the trucker's memorial of which there is No Greater Trucker Memorial (NGTM), then the NGTM must necessarily be real. Think of it this way: if you can imagine the NGTM as existing only in your mind, but you can also imagine it existing for reals, the former is absurd because the latter is in fact greater by virtue of its existence. Indeed, the only thing even better than one NGTM is the form of the NGTM also being impressed on hundreds of RC trucks which can be purchased for the bargain price of $89.99 each.
And in truth, that is precisely the case. I had seen the RC trucks, and just as "the fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'" I thought to myself, "This is so absurd it could not possibly exist in reality." How wrong both the fool and I were! It turns out that John Holmgren of Shafer, MN, has indeed created (or perhaps channeled) the NGTM, and here it is. The "Rolling Memorial." Check your local Love's or Iowa 80-affiliated truck stop for the RC version. Have you forgotten?
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Initially, I took this to mean that Graham was American and Osteen, Texan. Makes sense, right? Texas (or Mexas) is its own entity; as evidence I submit to you that I never recovered from the culture shock I got living in Dallas. But I think what Isaiah meant was something like this: Osteen is essentially American, and Graham is only accidentally so. The idea is, I think, that if American culture suddenly ceased to be, Joel would suddenly burst into a pleasant puff of pink smoke and naught would remain of his presence but a pile of dollar-colored dust. Billy, on the other hand, could have been born in Africa, Europe, China, or Mexico, and his gospel message would have remained more or less the same.
Maybe it's an obvious point. But I wonder if Graham's methods weren't distinctly American, too, just those of a different era. Maybe Graham was simply more modest. Certainly the message he preached had a very different thrust than the stuff of Osteen. Graham didn't buy a stadium to hold church in...he just rented 'em and broadcast the goings on via TV. I kinda think Ol' Billy was just as American as you, me, or Gary Johnston (double major in theatre and world languages at Iowa University). I don't mind it too much. Mostly I just like to think about Joel Osteen evaporating in pink puff of smoke and drifting out over the Pacific.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
To begin to understand this problem, we must first understand the nature of the Canadian Tuxedo itself. A Canadian Tuxedo is generally agreed to consist of a denim jacket worn with jeans. If there be any disagreement, please make it known. However, whether the Canadian Tuxedo consists simply of the jacket and jeans, or furthermore involves a denim button-down shirt and/or vest, I think the essence of the Canadian Tuxedo should be clear enough.
While the tuxedo analogy may be readily apprehended, what particular Canadianness pertains to a denim jacket/pants combination? It's popularity amongst our northerly neighbors? Is there any evidence that this ensemble is any more popular in Canada than say, in Croatia or even the United States? Based on the evidence of readily visible Canadians--Jim Carrey, Barenaked Ladies, Red Green--such an inductive argument would be hard to make. Even allowing for the proposition that famous Canadians by their famousness represent a group more likely to wear actual tuxedos, the contrary propensity of American-worn Canadian Tuxedos would serve to negate any particular Canadianness.
Perhaps we should consider what we connote when we employ the designation "Canadian." Doug Gibson has made an interesting case for referring to home-schoolers as Canadians. According to Gibson, home-schoolers may be properly be called Canadians because they share with Canadians a certain Otherness. Homeschoolers, like Canadians, possess and exhibit an ineffable Something that sets them apart from familiar society. Canadians possess and exhibit an equally ineffable Something; the nature of the Something does not matter so much as its distinguishing quality and social effect. Put another way, if one cannot put ones finger on what makes a newly-made acquaintance subtly but decidedly different, "He's homeschooled" or "She's Canadian" both confer the same comforting sense of illumination. One interesting facet of Gibson's logic is that, by extension, "Canadian" is a more accurate term for a homeschooler than "homeschooler," since (1) homeschoolers often attend co-ops, play sports for public or private schools, and/or attend community college and are therefore not strictly home-educated and (2) Canadian home-schoolers may, theoretically, exist.
At this juncture, we might conjure a feminine equivalent of the Canadian Tuxedo based on homeschooler attire, something on the order of a denim jumper worn over a blue denim blouse: the Canadian Evening Gown. This, however, would be fallacious. We must remember that Canadian in this context refers to a very definite Otherness, but not to homeschooledness particularly. This is not to say that a Canadian Evening Gown would not consist of a denim jumper over a denim blouse, only that it would be a logical error to arrive there via the avenue of home-education.
If the Canadian in Canadian Tuxedo only denotes quality x of Canadians (and homeschoolers),
however, we have made little progress toward understanding why denim is its source material. Consider George Constanza's emphatic insistence that he would drape himself in velvet were it socially acceptable. Now, while the precise social acceptability of draping oneself in velvet is debatable (in fact, a friend of mine once dated a man who draped not only himself, but his entire apartment, in velvet), it is certainly no less subjective than that of draping oneself in denim. If a known degree of social deviance were the essence of Canadian, we might call a Canadian tuxedo any ensemble fashioned of a material whose use falls outside the standard deviation. An outfit consisting of courderoy pants, jacket, and newsboy's hat seems as likely a candidate.
But intuitively we might want to call such a courderoy ensemble a Welsh Priest's Frock and a velvet one a Romanian Spacesuit. We must examine the essence and accidents (attributes) of denim if we are to solve the mystery of the Canadian Tuxedo. Essential to denim is its Americanness. This point cannot be argued. While the rest of the world has adopted its use, it has not adopted denim qua denim, but denim qua American Stuff, the denim fiber representing the most elemental of essentially American molecules.
As far as American imitators go, no country competes with Canada. Quebec aside, Canada looks, sounds, sings, drives, and acts American. At least as far as clothing is concerned, nothing is more American than denim. We associate it with the inventiveness of Levi Strauss, the rugged individualism of the Old West, and the too-cool-for-schoolness of James Dean. Therefore, denim represents the standard of perfection if one is to dress American. Yet, in principle, the closer a thing comes to accurately mimicking another thing, the more fraudulent it becomes. An accurately reproduced $1 bill is more fraudulent than a $6 bill of similar quality.
Indeed, one of the pitfalls of imitation is the failure to apprehend the true nature of the thing one imitates. Often, this manifests in an over-achievement. I would argue that the reason we think of a denim-jacket-and-jeans combo as a Canadian Tuxedo lies in the suspicion that the Canadian assumes that more denim means more American. Thus the Canadian, in an attempt to out-American the American, might wear nothing but denim. Furthermore, we suspect that the Canadian confuses the essentiality of denim with its transcendence. That is, the Canadian confuses the primacy of denim in the hierarchy of Americaness with a sort of primacy of in the hierarchy of classiness. Thus, it comprises his Tuxedo.
Of course, we Americans know that denim is elemental to our couture, but it is not its totality. It is also not the most noble of materials; in fact, I would argue that we are comfortable with that notion as a reflection of our culture at large, but that is a topic for another time. What is important is that we estimate the Canadian's fashion sense to be such that a preponderance of denim would join the apices of Americanism and fashion. This, I surmise, is why we refer to the denim jacket and jeans as a Canadian Tuxedo. It also suggests why Americans wear Canadian Tuxedos at least as often as Canadians; it simply represents a failure to grasp--due to hickness, fuddy-duddiness, or even homeschooledness--the nature of denim as it pertains to America and its locus on the hierarchy of couture material.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Early 11th century, Burgundy: Odilo is abbott of Cluny, a monastery dedicated to prayer. During a time when the best a needy Christian could do was petition a heavenly saint for intercession, Odilo and his brethren apparently had the guts to take their requests all the way to the Big Guy himself.
One day a foreigner arrived at the monastery with an unusual story. Shipwrecked on a presumably deserted island, the traveller nevertheless encounters a hermit. The hermit tells him of a place on the island where something mysterious happens. He invites the traveller to the spot and instructs him to incline his ear to the ground. The traveller hears demons conversing. The demons complain that the souls they afflict in purgatory are having their burdens eased by the prayers of the monks at Cluny.
Impressed that the prayers of ordinary monks proved so potent, Odilo declared the day after All Saints' Day as All Souls' Day to commemorate the efficacy of lay prayer for the living and limboed. His November 2 holiday spread throughout the region and was eventually adopted by the Church itself. Hooray for St. Odilo, and Happy All Souls' Day, friends.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I think the guy has a point, and I'm inclined to believe him. After all, appeasing my appetite for pizza would lead to health problems, and that would be bad if not immoral. But choosing to eat vegetables would be good for me. I got an appetite for mega mammon, but rather than just grab it from the nearest cash drawer, I must choose to show up to and work a job that's less than satisfying.
Aristotle would say that appetitive acts are voluntary, i.e. morally accountable. What do you think? Does it matter whether one acts from appetite or choice? Is one really better than the other? Does the Christian always act by choice rather than appetite? Can a person have an appetite for something morally virtuous or excellent?
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
I remember Diane Mezger making us TIME Team Leaders of 2000 write down 25 personal goals, goals for the summer and life in general. They had to be stated in the present tense, however, as if already accomplished. I wrote down the requisite number of affirmatives and filed ‘em. I saved that piece of paper and read my goals not too long ago. Some, like "I light up fine tobacco whenever I please" existed in a state of ongoing fulfillment (although right now this goal is suspended). Others remained more or less unaccomplished. But surprisingly, I still wanted to achieve most of the things on the list even more than I had when I'd written them down. My hastily jotted notes turned out to be truth sprung from my soul.
Then there's the essay I wrote for my application to UT: "The Ideal Classmate". That was the required topic, so I gave it my best shot and sent it in. I translated the qualities of an actual ideal professor into an imagined ideal student. But I reread it today, and I was struck by how much truth it contained. The words literally described an ideal classmate, but even more, seemed to embody my convictions about the ideal educational experience. The soul truth of the essay struck me the same way my old list of goals had. I believed these words more now than I had when I composed them. I wanted to shout "Hell yeah! that's what I believe!" Then came the question: had my subsequent decisions agreed with what I wrote? Was I living it?
"In the fall of 2006, I took my first collegiate government class. Ms. Olivia Garcia—an enthusiastic Latina with a strong liberal streak—taught the class and proved to be one of the most beneficial instructors I have ever taken. Her socio-ethnic background, political philosophy, and enthusiasm for government could not have been more different from mine. Although we had little in common, I learned a great deal from her. Our differences drove me to not only tackle the coursework but to expand my paradigm as well. Those from whom I stand to learn the most are most often those with whom I have the least in common, and I believe the qualities that made Ms. Garcia a great instructor would also make the ideal classmate."
Tastes like candy coating at first, but there's a delicious, crunchy, chocolate-covered peanut of truth at the center.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
#1 complaint about Wheaton so far.....................................Nobody freakin' says "bless you" when you sneeze! I sneeze all the time, in many varied circumstances and surroundings, so I feel my experience has been rather scientific, and I'll be darned if I've gotten more than one or two "bless you"s since I've been here. Would somebody please explain this disturbing phenomenon? Rob? Josh? Anyone?
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Ah, who am I kidding? I don't have a consultant uncle. The best Accord I could hope to afford for the next few years was made in '88. So goes the life of a college student who's best job ever has been waiting tables. Guess I'll keep driving my soon-to-be-rusty Ranger.
More pics of the new Accord here.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Wheaton's campus looks exactly like a college campus ought to look: great old architecture, beautiful landscaping, and a meticulously groomed football field. I didn't get to have any meaningful conversations with staff or faculty while I was there, but I think most professors' resumes speak for themselves. Also, as both the cheesy, squeaky-clean tour guide and the hip, dredlocked admissions counselor pointed out, Wheaton has some of the best college food in the nation.
Here's a picture of the Wheaton Mastodon (for Blogbarger). Chris, let's be sure to go to Metro Diner before I leave town to share a couple of Masterburgers.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
But not the aural variety that has proved so plentiful lately here in
In spring I visited
I pulled into my driveway, unloaded my mailbox, walked inside. I found a larger than average piece from
All I wanted to do since I started the transfer process was to attend
I head to
Friday, June 22, 2007
As someone who has been accepted to UT, I have the awesome privilege of using my electronic identification number (or EID as they say around here) to sign in to the uni's computers. Nice, especially since I haven't given UT a gosh-darn dime, registered for a single class, or even payed the deposit. Yet here I sit, using this fine academically-purposed Dell (by the way, Blogbarger, the faculty get Macs around here for some reason) for something purely un-academic.
Welp, I should probably track down that philosophy advisor before he takes off for the weekend. Hook 'em...us!
Thursday, June 21, 2007
A few nights ago dreamt that I was waiting tables at the Porch. I woke up in a half-daze and sat up on the end of my bed, believing I was sitting on a table at work. "Should I be sitting on a table when I have guests mid-meal?" I wondered. "And shouldn't I be wearing pants?"
A couple days later I dreamt that I was riding along in a car with some of my co-workers when we got pulled over. Instead of giving the cop his license and insurance, the driver grabbed a gun, gut-shot the man, and drove us off down the road. I don't remember who else was in the car, but the driver happened to be the one person I work with that's made a racist comment since I've started. I wonder at the psychology of that coincidence.
And lastly, two days ago, I woke up in the middle of the night anxiously wondering if I really ought to be dozing when I had open checks on the tables. Then I realized it might be a dream. But I had to deliberately reminded myself of each individual check that I had closed at the end of the night before I could drift peacefully back to sleep.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Monday, May 28, 2007
I got pretty bummed when I found out I'd be working the high-top tables in the bar tonight. Self-seating at these tables means less food and more drinks, often ordered at the bar. That can equal a lot of work and not a lot of reward.
I didn't make much money, but I did luck out. TXA 21 came by to do a profile of the Porch and they sat in my section. Plus, super chef and co-founder Nick Badovinus was working and I got to interact with him throughout the night. Of course, the TXA people loved the food. And I got some camera time. Tune in Sunday at 6pm for a show called "DFW 10" to check it out.
I work Wednesday (the 30th), Sunday, and Monday. I hope to see you soon!
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Come on over and have some brisket sliders, a grilled three-cheese sandwich and a cup of homemade tomato soup or a plate of braised short rib stroganoff. Or grab a 14oz cut of medium-rare prime rib and side of smoked ham mac'n'cheese to share. And give our farmer's market cobbler a try before the peaches go out of season. Sandwiches start at $10. I work tonight (the 22nd), Thursday (24th), and Sunday (27th). We open at 5; here's the map.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I’m tired of being physically worn out, sleepy, spent. I’ve exhausted every desirable permutation at Starbucks and can’t drink Gachet’s swill anymore.
I’m tired of procrastinating. I’m tired of last-minute, late-night, half-assed (or less) efforts. I’m tired of substituting Amp for sleep. I’m tired of turning in rough drafts the day the finished product is due.
I’m tired of being unable to express it. I’m tired of not being able to write about it. I’m tired of making a concerted effort to avoid “be” verbs, of employing alliteration (it’s a cheap trick), and of relying on a thesaurus. Tired of reading shit on the internet that’s written in passive voice and of wondering if I’m really any more talented than the jokers who contribute awful prose to Wikipedia. I’m tired of censoring myself. I’m tired of being slow to speak, slow-witted, a slow reader, and slow at my work.
I’m tired of waking up three days a week and doing a lonely job that only sorta pays. I’m tired of not being a morning person, of starting late and lazily ending early. I’m tired of slowly losing my sanity—laboring alone with my only thoughts and fragments of Fergie songs stuck in my head.
I’m tired of apologizing to my Lord every time I utter the word(s) goddamnit. I’m tired of saying goddamnit. I grow weary of trying to not sin, of forever losing the same battles, of my sinful nature. Mostly I’m tired of seeing large breasts with delicate, translucent skin poised to burst out of tank tops and partially unbuttoned blouses and so tired of trying not to stare.
I’m tired of these eyes that don’t see clearly, these yellow teeth, these knobby knees. I’m tired of this flesh.
I’m tired of struggling to form thoughts in a cloud, the meaning always hidden just beyond the fog. I’m tired of having to hear an idea, watch a film, or read a poem twice just to identify the subtleties that everyone else sees. Tired of being powerless to form a decent question or original thought.
And I’m tired of losing points when I do get it right—when I omit a comma after an introductory “and” or answer that Nixon wasn’t formally impeached. Tired of being rebuked, attacked, or punished on the rare occasion that I assert myself, go with my gut, or say what I really feel. I’m tired of being misunderstood, of being incapable of making you understand. I’m tired of my own self-protection, my own distrust.
Tired, too, of wanting to cry and remaining unable or unwilling to. I’m tired of feeling sorry for myself when friends are uprooting families and crossing oceans, when family members are counting the days until parents die, and when friends of friends are running from emotional abuse. I’m tired of being helpless to Free Tibet, Save Darfur, save even a single soul, or do positively anything else worth a damn. I get uncomfortable talking for more than ten minutes about anything that will perish with this world.
I’m tired of not knowing what to do with myself, of not wanting to work hard enough to contribute anything. Of my lack of passion. Of not being the Cool One, Talented One, or Fun One.
Guys, I’m tired of uncertainty, of not knowing the future but having to make decisions that affect it. I’m tired of making decisions based on money. Tired of being too poor to afford more than two pints a month at the Ginger Man.
I’m tired of only eating food that can be microwaved at home. I’m tired of fried food everywhere else. Tired of worrying about calories.
I’m tired of bitching. I’m tired of being all talk and no action. I’m tired of writing “I’m tired.” It must be awful to read.
I need a vacation.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
The ad would have been extremely effective except for one thing: I tend to deconstruct advertising, and something in the video caught my eye and distracted me completely. Right around the 41st second, I noticed something that could not have possibly been in the original Apple commercial--in the Clinton version the Runner wears what looks like an iPod on her waist. There's no way Apple was working on anything resembling the iPod back in '84, right?
I checked the original, and the iPod does not appear. Of course it doesn't. But somebody sure put forth a lot of effort to get it into the new one. Are we looking at new footage or frame-by-frame Photoshopping? More importantly, why add it to a political piece at all? What kind of conspiracy are we dealing with here?
The original Apple ad (L) and the same frame from the modified version.
Monday, March 12, 2007
But a few exist. Sony and Nintendo noticed the raging success of Xbox Live and created their own online networks. Nintendo's Wii even introduced customizable characters that serve as proxies in certain games. They resemble cute, animated weebles as they hop toward fly balls and bounce around tennis courts. I thought the concept was clever even though function clearly took priority over form. And then I saw this video.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Anyway, as I surveyed my first pool today, I cursed the wind storm that had deposited a layer of dust on the plaster of every single on of my pools. The dust means I have the awesome privilege of vacuuming every square inch of every pool--doubling the amount of work it takes to get the job done. I thought it couldn't possibly get any worse. But a little bit later I was transferring leaves from my pool serviceman's net (or "rake" as we say in the biz), things got worse as sense numero seis let me down.
I readjusted the placement of my right foot and stepped not on solid ground as I had expected, but in seven-foot-deep water. Time slows down when you're a pool serviceman and you realize you're about to go all in on a watery hand. I quickly realized what was happening and had just enough time to think "oh gosh, this is the big one, the one that ruins my cell phone" and desperately lean to the left. The slow-motion lean did the trick. It was not "the big one." Only my right leg got soaked. Disaster averted. Final verdict: squishy sock for the rest of the work day (my backup socks were in the laundry).
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Check out that last shot. Some of you might recognize it.