Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"Accidents Will Happen"

I've been thinking a lot about creative process lately. The May 15th issue of The Nation has been floating around the house for a while and keeps showing up wherever I sit down. I had read the article on Bob Dylan by Richard Goldstein and the one on Hitler and Osama bin Laden by Raffi Khatchadourian when the issue first came out. I assumed it was something from the Goldstein article that triggered my creativity tangent, but looking back I'm having trouble finding a line or idea that lead to my conclusion. Perhaps what happened was, the article got me thinking about the documentary, No Direction Home about Dylan's early life. I'm sure something from there could have triggered what I came to conclude while watering flowers outside the house. The truth is I've let too much time pass to write this.

So what I've come to believe about creativity is that one of the greatest gifts an artist can have is the ability to know when to let accidents happen. When a mistake is made, when we accidentally diverge from our initial intent and course, we instinctively try and correct it immediately. Often that's for the best when you have a spelling error or something, but at other times, what we are doing is eradicating the seed of genuine creativity. I agree that genuine creativity is a concept for the antonym of a cynic, and perhaps too presumptuous for reason. What I really mean is those evolutionary leaps in an artistic progression, the things that come to define periods and make profound what could have been mundane. That form of creativity that is improvisational.

Like all good improvisation, be it jazz or another medium, one must first have an initial deep understanding of the medium. A jazz musician has hundreds of chord relationships memorized, those amazing solos are not simply an act of randomly playing notes. Though I do like much of the works by artists like Jackson Pollock (who people overlook the fact he did create many paintings that were more than throwing paint on a canvas) but overall I agree with the concepts of skill and refinement. The secret is reaction. When something emerges that was not initially conceived, the ability to recognize it and nurture it when there is the potential for something more. When artist talk of instinct and intuition we forget that instinct is a product of experiences that have become ingrained (and inherited) in the central programming of our thought and reactionary processes.

(I just recalled what it was from No Direction Home that sparked this. It was during the recording of "Like a Rolling Stone" for Highway 61 Revisted and how the organ came to be used as it was with that strange one beat behind everyone else. Everyone should check out that film that haven't. You don't really need to even like Dylan to apreciate it.)

So I'm not saying that great art is anarchy or anything like that. But like Albert Camus said:

"All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on the street corner or in a restaurant's revolving door."

The trick is being aware of them.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Recently: about a black snake and other stuff.


Been awhile. I've not listened to much music. I haven't kept up with a lot of local happenings either. Still very excited about the LEC reunion though.

Mostly my days have been busy, busy, busy. Lot of post semester cleaning finally went down for real. Still a bit to go actually. Got a lot of outside work done, helping my sister, working at my job. It's been hot as hell lately and I've not really been equipped for it. Haven't slept much either. When I do settle down I mostly try to watch movies, but often sleep through them. There just hasn't been much mental activity of late beyond being goofy on my Neosamurai85 blog. Some day I should explain that silly name. It's a caricature of sorts though it wavers between me being a geek and me satirizing geeks.

The idea that I should write film reviews (serious ones... not the goofy Opossum stuff) part-time for one of the papers was impregnated into my head this weekend, but the reality that they are all well staffed nipped it in the bud pretty quickly. Kinda feel like that Paul Curreri song from his live album... which is a fantastic album by the way.

I caught a black snake today. He was hanging out at the goldfish pond. There are three things that people tend to forget to mention about blacksnakes.

1) They smell very bad.
2) They have ticks.
3) The big ones are usually pretty chill and the young-ins are vicious little bastards.

Actually the one I had was about thirty inches long and surprisingly chill. Big ones are five to seven feet. I've never seen a seven-footer, but Tim says they exist. I guess he'll have to have me over next time he finds one. (Sounds like my kind of wrangling!) Anyway, I'm sure the dip in the cool water helped mellow him out a bit. He did get feisty for a moment, but that was my fault. I mucked up for a second. People were watching and that makes me nervous. I'm decent with snakes. Had a few pets growing up and would catch them all the time. When I was about ten I caught a five-foot black on my dad's land and horrified my mother when she came to pick me up. The only time I was ever bitten was when some people were watching me and I couldn't focus.

Fortunately, as I said this little guy was pretty chill. Smelt a bit but no ticks were sighted. I took him off in the woods and let him go by a rotten log. Didn't even need to hold him by the neck at that point. Snakes rule!

That's all I'm up for tonight.

Take it easy.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

About LEC reunion

With my E-mail down I'm not able to hunt down some of the folks I normally would be the first person anyone would bet had already told them about the reunion coming up. I'm also slightly swamped right now and though I have a few numbers I can call. I'm terribly afraid I'll forget someone. So if any LECer's are reading this, My advice would be to flat out assume I'm NOT contacting anyone and make the calls you know. I mean, I've obviously contacted Eric and Tim from my unholy trinity of chaos, but beyound that... nada. Plus a couple extra calls might be a good push to get some folks out of the woodwork. (Ya-all know who you are!)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

E-mail down

So... um... yeah... what he said. Except for the bit about contacting him. Don't contact my brother-in-law to reach me. That would be a world of wrong. If you need me, call my cell of drop a message below or something.

Friday, May 19, 2006

¿Tu hablas español?

(Note: If you have no interst in my troubles learning Spanish, please jump to the fifth paragraph, where the topic changes to ideas about immigration and education before you stop reading. Thanks.)

So... on a lighter note, it's setting in that the semester is, and has been, over. More so, as I sifted through mass of papers that clutter my room last night, sorting them into piles of lyrics, notes, drawings, math assignments and other collage papers... it is setting in that I AM DONE WITH SPANISH! After four classes I have completed my foreign language requirements for PVCC and should never have to take another language class again unless by choice. This... delights me. Learning Spanish was the hardest thing I have ever done academically. I went from straight A's to my first C and an additional three Bs. I have always been a difficult student, primarily because I like to learn things my way and on my watch. I was a very late reader as I've said before and really didn't get going at it until I taught myself. I'm not sure if I've ever been in a class I was so incompatible with. After 101, I'd much rather have learned sporadically. Give me light reading like poetry to translate, heavy conversations and every time I hit a bump, let me study it. I know that's not a practical way to learn, and I'm not suggesting the class be altered to accommodate it, but it is how I tend to learn. I jumping in and sorting out the mess gradually over time. Throw a bone now and then from someone who knows what they're doing, but basically leave me to my cave. I've also heard time and time again that the only way to learn how to speak Spanish for real is to go live somewhere where it is spoken for awhile. I believe it, and I think it would work well for even me with all my eccentricities.

When I was little, I had a mild speech impediment. It still lingers but is usually only detectable if I'm really tired or excited. Basically, my pronunciation gets all gummy. I recall being a pretty shy kid, but more so I was quiet because it took me forever to figure out how to say what I wanted to say to someone. I had a terrible time finding words and then once I had the sentence structure figured out, there was the insecurity that I'd pronounce it all wrong or not know what to say next. Taking Spanish 101 through 202 was like starting all over again. All of a sudden I didn't know how to word things or pronounce them. I felt like the class idiot for a lot of it. I hadn't taken Spanish in high school, and though this was the beginner's course, some of the students had FOUR YEARS under their belt. So it was frustratingly hard to keep up at times. Eventually, with personal dramas added to the mix, I kind of gave up on it and resulted in last year's C.

The fact that I'm horribly attention deficit doesn't help either. When you listening to someone lecture, because it's in your language, you don't have to fully listen to them. I'm not talking about daydreaming or anything disrespectful. What I mean is you can listen to them, and think, be it other things or simply what is being said. When you're as ADD as I am, you can easily entertain yourself for an hour looking at the patterns of vertically cut rings in a wooden table. Every movement in your peripheral vision is hard to ignore, and every conversation five tables back comes in loud and clear. That's all fine if the lecture is speaking your language. You can catch what you missed and generally understand without having to process every word. When the lecturer is speaking in a language you don't know well, you have to listen and process every word clearly and recall what it means and how it relates to the other words in the sentence. That takes a level of focus that is hard for me to keep up in a chatty classroom for an entire hour or even a half hour.

So it's no secret among friends that Spanish was hell for me. That said, I actually enjoyed many of the classes. My frustration is by no means a reflection on Professor Decker's skill as a teacher. He taught all four of the classes, and I highly recommend him to anyone taking Spanish at Piedmont. I particularly liked his linguistic insight, taking time to look at the roots of words and historical influences such as the Basque. I actually do intend to pursue Spanish further, but not through college. I'm going to take the gathered resources I've acquired and pursue reading so that I can tackle Spanish literature and film. During the first semester I was exposed to Julio Cortázar's work and would love very much to someday read Hopscotch in Spanish.

I must admit with the workload I had this winter semester, I've found myself in the dark on the heated immigration debates. Like Waldo, I don't feel informed enough to state any grand opinion on it all. However, as someone observing from afar, there are a few things that disturb me. One more than any other but the slave trade in America is the growing since of nativism in this country. A majority of my exposure to it has probably been from radio talk shows (which... from stuttering whiny hippies and backwoods Revelationsist, to the let god sort'em out right-wings and scripted wax-faced praise givers of the host... always draw out America's finest) but I have seen it elsewhere. The biggest issue of this nativism has been language. Time and time again I've heard bellyaching about the dreaded threat of the Spanish language and how if you're coming to this country you need to learn to speak American... uh... I mean English.

Now when the radical in me hears this, it wants to shout out, "Yeah? Well, can you speak Crow? How about Cherokee? Cause if there's one thing American history has shown, it's that it's ok to come here from afar and take over with complete disregard to those who lived here first." but I know that's not going to change anyone's views. It also implies a few things I'm really not for. But the thing I can't get my head around is, what's the big deal about having to learn Spanish? Sure, what's the big deal in learning English is a reasonable response. I'm not against immigrants learning the majority language of this country, but there is this - if not too strong a word - repulsion among some at the thought that in our lifetime, Spanish will become a second language in the United States of America. I simply cannot understand what the problem is with that. After all I've said about how hard it was for me, I still have to ask what is the big deal? What is so horrible about learning a second language for so many Americans? I'm not naive about the amount of time required, or the demands on many citizens with regard to raising children, maintaining income and other things. I'm not saying every citizen needs to drop everything and do this. Spanish is not going to become a second language tomorrow. It will definitely be in our lifetime, but that doesn't mean that it will affect all adults too drastically. This is a matter that will really concern the younger generations, the youth.

There are places in Africa where children speak five or six different languages. In some places Africans speak many more because of the close proximity of diverse tribes. At the very least, I believe we should strive to see it mandatory that children are taught Spanish; though I also believe they should learn French since the two would cover our primary border languages. It's common sense really. The people of any country ought to be able to speak the languages of those that at least directly surround it. Besides, there are benefits to learning other languages. I've learned more about the English language from studying Spanish than I have from all of high school. We simply do not teach grammar anymore, and even when it is taught, the necessity rarely sinks.

From my work in poetry and songwriting, I've come to take a deep interest in linguistics and words in gerneral. Rhetoric being a particularly interesting branch, you can find that language has many loopholes for deception, manipulation, and seduction. Anyone from a theologian to a Sorensen Institute graduate can attest to that. The mechanics of any one language are often too culturally specialized and as a result form perceptions and formulas of logic that can fail to accurately portray many variables of reality that may in fact not be irrelevant to a given situation. It's the hardest thing about politics for me. Though I know no better solution and am barely even able to define them abstractly, there are social, logical and... well... political structures that seem to inhibit what at times seems right. There is a game to it all, and the rules are flawed in a manner that human nature seems bent to corrupt, yet are too set to revise.

Looking at language, at times a single a word can be so abstract as to corrupt and overcomplicate what one would deem a simple matter. It may seem cliché, but take for example the immense complications that arrive from the obscurity of the word "love" in the English language. Who hasn't been in a relationship of some sort where that annoying four-letter word hasn't been a headache in regard to how it applies and what it means?

I'm not saying that learning Spanish and French will make all of these messes go away. For one thing, both being romantic languages, they'll offer little difference from one another. Taking on something like Japanese would probably be a real eye opener. That said, English is actually a pretty strange language. It's not very specific and apparently it's one of the more difficult to learn. So even though Spanish and French are similar in that they share many words and have others that sound very similar to their English counterparts, the structuring and approach to detail is quite different. So though you're not going to suddenly be enlightened, it is a very eye opening experience that can show you some potentials of language that could perhaps never be acquired any other way.


Good times... not really...

You know you're going to have a really good day when it starts with a headache, finding out Silent Hill is no longer in theaters, and while calling your friend to tell 'em they'll have to wait for already late birthday trip to the movies... your grandmother falls and the nurse says she has to leave early today.

And that's all before 10:00 after being up most of the night trying to do things I said I'd get done so I could go to the movies.

This is my happy face.

My grandmother is ok. She's having one of her bad days in regards to Alzheimer's, but no serious injury has been detected.

As for the lesser of the two, I'm really annoyed with the recent trend of zipping movies through the theater. White Chicks was in the theater longer than Silent Hill! Same thing happened when V for Vendetta, came out at a busy time for college students. When my friends and I found mutual time, it was gone! It's like they don't want people to see the movies! I know Silent Hill was not a popular release... but again... WHITE CHICKS! Remember when you would be walking around the Downtown Mall and see a movie up in Regal Cinema and think to yourself, "That's still playing?" When Jurrasic Park came out (which I admit was a much, much bigger deal) it felt like it was in the theaters for over a year. This really bums me out. The Neosamurai85 Show was going to do a big thing comparing Silent Hill to Mirror Mask and other films and look at the games and their roots. Now I've got to wait till it hits Jefferson.

Seriously though. I know in the past few years with college and life I've found less time for things like... wait... no... in the past three years I've probably been a more active moviegoer, and in general left my cave for non school related things, than I've ever been in my life! So it can't just be me. They're rushing films, and not just the bad ones. I get that theaters are having a hard time in the face of DVD and home entertainment systems becoming more affordable, but I swear they're simply not trying. I don't even need to get into the same old same old of sticky floors and annoying kids. But when you have a movie that's largest demographic is academically swamped and don't even give them a chance... I don't know. I'm in a bitchy mood.

I need coffee.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

LEC Family Reunion!

Howdy. Been a really sleepy day. Trying to clean up, fight off those mutant tea mugs lurking behind the monitor of the computer from finals. Can't think of much to add. Technically this is the second LEC family reunion. The first followed Sue's passing. There was a feeling that LEC needed to regroup and collect itself.

This is an interesting time for me because unless I'm mistaken this graduation will be the last of students I was affiliated with. From here on I'll be going to visit faculty. Still I have a feeling this party is going to really be a blast.

Here's Ernie's e-mail:


Hello, you darling ones! This is a shout out to all LECers past and
present, inviting you to the first annual LEC Family Reunion! We hope
that you will come. We also hope that you will help us spread the
word. In this technologically savvy age, we are happy to be able to
contact many of you by email. However, there are many more past LEC
students who we do not have emails (or even current phone numbers) for.
If you know of the contact information for any other past students,
would you please pass on this invitation and also send us their current
contact information? Also, if you are a parent receiving this
invitation, we are trying to contact your child through you. If you
could please forward this message on to them and also forward us their
current contact information, we would be very happy and thankful. Read
on for the party info, and we look forward to seeing you there...

You are cordially invited to join the family and friends
of The Living Education Center for Ecology and the Arts
Friday, June 2
In the first-ever
LEC Family Reunion
Celebrating everyone who's ever
Been a part of LEC!

Music provided by
students of LEC
past and present.

Please come and see
who we are now and from where we've come.
There will be dancing, revisiting
and the obligatory glitter.

Join us for Graduation Ceremonies
for the Class of 2006 at 6pm,
Our "End of the Year" Potluck at 6:30pm,
and Family Reunion Party from 7-11pm.

You know where to come:
Old Michie Building
609 East Market Street
Charlottesville, Virginia.



So yeah, if you know an LECer of old that probably doesn't know about this. Let'em! Would be pretty cool is we really did get people from all the generations.

Brady Earnhart wrote a protest song!

Brady Earnhart needs no intro by me. Though I'll give him my praise anyway. He's been one of my mentors for a few years now, always willing to give feedback and honest no punches pulled criticism about my lyrics. An amazing singer songwriter and excellent teacher for anyone with the opportunity.

To say that he is not a protest songwriter may risk understatement, but I'm certainly not the first to point out that Something About Him may be more effective than any gay rights protest song ever written.

Well, it seems Brady might just finally have had enough.

If I stopped to think of all I'd want to say on this, I'd probably get around to posting this blog entry a week from now. So I guess the best thing to do is copy and paste the e-mail Brady sent out to his readers and say I'm completely against the prohibiting of gay marriage. (If you really want an attempt at a "brief" version of my beliefs, see below the letter.)



So I got this last-minute gig (see below), & while I was at it I thought I'd let
y'all know about a new song on my site: "Thank God Virginia's On Our Side," a
protest against the anti-gay-marriage amendment that I hope everybody in VA is going
to vote NO on this fall.

It's at (top of the page).

I'm usually not that much of an activist, but under all its noble rhetoric the
amendment really strikes me as gratuitously hateful--a way of reassuring voters that
their government thinks homos are icky.

The wonderfuls Paul Curreri, Chris Ruotolo, and Lance Brenner (the last two of The
Naked Puritans) are all playing with me on this (shamelessly Neil Youngish electric)
version of the song. The mp3 that's up is just a rough mix, but I got impatient. A
sleeker, shorter, trashier model will take its place after Lance & I finish mixing
next week.

Fredericksburg Locals: I'll be playing at The Loft tomorrow (Thursday, May 18)
night, with Ryan Little. Show starts at 9:00. C'mon out.

Hope to see Chicagoans this Saturday at Alt Q!




Regardless of my personal feelings, trying to figure out the role of marriage in modern society and for myself, I find it deeply disturbing that government tries to set parameters with regard to gender. Age I can understand, but as for consenting adults... nope. I fully respect a church's right to choose not to marry a couple if they feel the union somehow contradictory to their personal beliefs, but I fail to see how that should involve the government. Marriage in America is not a religious union. It can be adorned in religious ritual, but at the end of the day for it to be a legal union it comes down to the certificate. I don't mean that in disrespect to any religion or it's ceremony, I'm just stating a fact. Atheists can legally get married.

One of the things that really disturbs me is that though most religions recognize only heterosexual marriage, the movement to constitutionally define marriage in the United States as only between a man and a woman has been driven be a clear and unapologetic favoring of certain religions and their stance. At the time I write this (which is an ungodly late hour of the night), I'm at a loss to present concrete examples of religions that include (let alone favor) homosexual marriage in their structure. I can only allude abstractly to Native American tribes and New Age practices, but this is of little importance. What concerns me is not so much the smothering of minority religious beliefs as the obliviousness to alternatives. What's a constitutional amendment modeled off of Christianity mean to an atheist, or agnostic, or even a Native American that practices otherwise? What does it mean to good decent people who structure their morals by means other than tome or scroll? By means like reason, utility and practicality... or even by articles of faith such as what their hearts tell them? And hey, while we're at it, what are some other things we should be modeling off of what someone else says God wants?

As I've suggested above, I have some conflicting issues over marriage. At times it really strikes me as an obsolete means of social union. Its history has long been one of selling (dowry) people as commodities and prearrangement for the monetary gain of families, businesses, kingdoms, countries and etc. There is a long history of women being predominantly subordinate by the agreement, if agreement is even a permitted factor, of the marriage. Regardless of romanticism marriage purely out of love is still arguably a modern (in fairness, I'm using the word "modern" loosely) concept. This is not to say people weren't or didn't come to find love in marriage prior, but the idea certainly wasn't part of many early (pre-biblical) forms of marriage I've ever read about. If there is a future for marriage in this country, I think it's in the love category. To this day there are still too many lingering elements of marriage as a business deal. So if two people love one another and want to spend the rest of their lives together and have that be legally recognized, I say let them. Their marriage is in no way going to affect mine, should I choose to someday get married.

Regardless of how you feel about gay marriage, this amendment is about more than that.

And just for the record, if any of this seems radical, please understand I'm not trying to attack the family unit or anything like that. And if it matters, my lifestyle is hardly fit for scandal.

Ok, I'm sleepy.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I got a question (about Rob Schilling)

You know... I tend to keep out of local politics. Or maybe that's not the best way to put it, but I'm in the thick of exams and my brain ain't quite running full steam right now. Writing eleven poems (and trying not to let them suck) for an Eastern Thinking final in 2 and a half hours will do that to you. So for now I'm going to leave it at that and blog on it proper later.

Anyway... I've got a question for all the democratic bloggers out there. Heck even the republican bloggers! All of ya-all!

Why are there not more Rob Schilling V for Vendetta jokes?

Really... look at the guy... he don't even need a mask! Just spray-paint his face white! If there was some kind of political costume ball and he went as V, I would find a new respect for him. Until then... what's the deal? Did I just miss the bandwagon on this and there were lots of Schilling/V jokes?

I want answers dag-nabbit!