Friday, December 23, 2005

The 'O' Antiphons: Emmanuel


The sumup is here.

* * * * *

O Emmanuel, you are our king and judge, the One whom the peoples await and their Savior. O come and save us, Lord, our God.

* * * * *

I will not be posting over the next ten days, and I don't expect I will be spending much time reading your blogs either. I want to spend a little time away, to visit with family and friends, to tool around Flint and Zanesville and New York, and not worry about the books to be read, stories written, or posts blogged.

As is typical, I feel like I've dropped the ball with this blog over the last several weeks (months). I've had such high hopes for it, not as a public forum (though I would like it to become a more articulate voice for all things Gothic and Funky) but also as an inconsequential but complete record of my own thoughts and day-to-day activities. I don't know if I've expressed it here, but I really maintain two journals. One is very spare and written longhand: my personal journal, where I only write what I'm not comfortable sharing at large. The other is this blog, and I really hope to archive it as a record for myself in years to come and to share with friends and family in future times. That's a lot of information to process, and while I've kept up the "daily" posts, and have written some on religion and politics, there are many things I've never gotten to:

- December 8. The Immaculate Conception (~ "original sin" is something activated by our own sins, past, present, and future... if we find ourselves in grace the "originality" is irrelevant.)
- December 11. Gaudete Sunday (~ The limitation of God in choosing a single perspective is a necessary aspect of identifying with and becoming one with humanity. Our own limitations give our actions force, meaning, and relevance.)
- December 12. The Feast of the Lady of Guadalupe (~ God's lack of a single ethnicity/race/gender is a doorway to all sorts of observations typically ignored by the status quo, with widespread implications in favor of universal salvation, and the common threads between religions/philosophies. As long as we are all seeking out...)

- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Go see it. Not as good as #3, but just as viscerally and emotionally engaging.
- Brokeback Mountain. I haven't seen it. Want to.
- King Kong. I haven't seen it. Want to.
- Memoirs of a Geisha. I haven't seen it. Want to.
- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Watching it again.
- The Lords of the Rhymes. Download them. Awesome. Invokes the lyric "light up like a silmaril."
- "Lazy Sunday" SNL. Download that, too.

- Alito.
- Bush's spying on American Citizens.
- The torture fiasco.
- Ongoing drama between Delphi, GM, and the UAW. (I *will* be posting on this shortly).
- New York City's three day MTA strike.

- Going Home. How home is home, how I'm relieved and excited to be going back to the midwest, if even for only a week. How I will be seeing family on all sides, and Sam, and perhaps the Crawfords and others. How to mwe, tall buildings and density is not my favorite substitute for pastures and trees, though there's plenty of power in tall buildings and density. How I regret that there isn't time for a trip to Chicago, and it's been tearing me apart all month. Streets that I miss by name: Kenmore, Kenwood, McKinley, Gold, Brighton, Corunna, Miller, Court, Pierson, Flushing, 59th, Kimbark, 57th, Lake Shore Drive, James P. Cook and Robert T. Longway, 55th, 53rd, 51st, West Main, Maple, Dorchester, Ballenger, Friendship, University, Dort, Liberty, Ellis, and Beecher.
- Coming Home. How not home is home, how while New York can never be Flint or Chicago or Zanesville, it can be home for awhile, and maybe I can settle into that finally, a little. How I finally felt, during the last week, a small twinge of alliance to this place where I am living these two years. I was in the midst of the MTA strike, when I was walking about ten miles each day, crossing a vast windy river at several hundred people with some ten thousands of pedestrians. Later, a New York Times article discussed the media coverage of the event (as ideal, being a 24-hour coverage disaster with essentially now death or carnage) and observed that tantamount to public response to the events were the "objective" take of New Yorkers themselves, that is: "complete astonishment with their own resilience." As usual, this city thinks quite highly of itself, which has always had my grudging respect. This time, the notion didn't seem self-congratulatory so much as genuinely startled. There's something adolescent in this response, something endearing. It was a response to which I did not roll my eyes, and with which I might even associate myself.
Keep walking, New York. You can see for miles and miles. You can see for miles and miles. You can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles.

Also, I've fallen behind in three blogs which I usually follow religiously: Tom, and Gemma, and Damien. They are wonderfully prolific and in-depth, which always challenges me during a busy week or month, but I strongly urge you to check in with them over the next several week, as they're usually intense and full of brain-stretching brainfodder.

This is what I haven't done.

Now I'll tell you what I have:

I've maintained this blog more-or-less since settling in two months ago. I hosted my sister-in-law for Thanksgiving and visited my brother in Rochester for his recital, I've gone to church, I've worked at two jobs, I've completed all nine credits in my first semester at New School. I'm on track to keep my scholarship and get my MFA and Creative Writing teaching certification on time. I played a game of Risk. I hosted a ghost-story party. I went to Frederic Tuten's innovative fiction workshops. And I've read these books:
- Peasants and other Short Stories, Anton Chekhov
- Paris Stories, Mavis Gallant
- The Chaneysville Incident, David Bradley
- Mao II, Don DeLillo
- A Pale View of Hills, Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Emigrants, W.G. Sebald
- The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
- Nightwood, Djuna Barnes
- This is Not a Novel, David Markson
- And thirty-nine workshop submissions.

I'm proud of myself this semester.

But not so proud to kick back for long.

I'll be back in one week. Mark me.

* * * * *

In the meantime, here we are, the day before Christmas Eve. Have a Happy Christmas, Hannukah, and New Years. The world is changing fast. It's when we press the pause button and look at the lights, voices, textures in motion around us that we can really apprehend where and who we are. I'm looking forward to taking a few moments of stillness.

Happy Holidays to all!


The 'O' Antiphons: Rex


The sumup is here.

* * * * *

O King whom all the peoples desire, you are the cornerstone which makes all one. O come and save man whom you made from clay.

If you don't mind something blatantly Christian (I didn't growing up Unitarian, but then, I may have not been the most discriminating audience at eight), I highly recommend the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.


The 'O' Antiphons: Oriens


The sumup is here.

* * * * *

O Rising Sun, you are the splendor of eternal light and the sun of justice. O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

I don't know what the status of peoples' knowledge of the real roots of Christmas is, but Christ was most likely born in the springtime. Rather than create a Super Triduum that would combine the Jewish Passover, and Christ's birth, life, and death, when the Church came under the auspices of the Roman Empire (or was it vice versa) the holiday was moved to the winter solstice for both economic (it wouldn't interfere with Spring planting) and dimplomatic (converting the pagans) reasons.

Still, I cannot help but think that this is an auspicious change. The causes may or may not be more than coincidence, but even if the timing is out of sync with the literal truth, there's a deeper, symbolic truth to the location of Christmas at the winter solstice. If an image of Christmas is that of Christ being born into a dark world, nothing can better and more naturally represent that fact than celebrating his holiday at the darkest time of the year. Moreover, in the last several centuries, Christmas has been celebrated worldwide with a profusion of light. This probably began with the use of candles as a part of prayer and religious service... more prayers and religious services (and a need for more light in the cold and dark) would have led to more candles. With the use of the advent wreath and Christmas trees, lights became even more profuse, and when electricity made such effects both affordable and safe.

The result today is that we can walk down most city or suburban streets at Christmastime, the darkest time of the year, and find a unique profusion of all kinds of lights.

Yesterday morning, when the transit strike was still on, I walked across the Manhattan Bridge to get to work. The sun had just risen about an hour ago and its glare was sharp and bright, silver and gold, off the East River. Ten hours later, when I walked back to Brooklyn and took a stroll around the Fulton Ferry, the wooden pier was worn down, a dull brown. But I was flanked by Christmas trees and wreathes, and their light was echoed across the river, mirrored far away in the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan, and both sides echoed soft and glimmering, green and blue, off the East River.

This light, light spanning day and night but unique to day and night is one of the irreducable features of Christmas. It may be construed as a symbol of technology or the secularization of a religious holiday, but if a truth can be gotten at, if the world expands, than something worthwhile has been accomplished.

I like my Christmas with light; the light of many "rising suns."


Noctus 2, 28.


Kids, don't look at this! Santa flaunts his coke habit.


What are your plans for the holidays?


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Noctus 1, 28.


Kids, don't click on this. The miracle of cloning successfully addresses the technical limitations of labor capacity.

Project Gutenberg, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.
I have many fond memories of this book... it probably makes my top 10 list of "books I've read the most number of times."

What aspect of Santa's existence and profession do you find the most irreconcilable, and how did you come to be satisfied with its reconciliation?


Wednesday, December 21, 2005



Yahoo! News: Commuters pack the Brooklyn Bridge.

Olives or pineapples?


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

CNN Update


I know this is getting to be more than indulgent, so I won't post on it again, but if anyone was going to watch, they bumped us back to 8 PM.


The 'O' Antiphons: Clavis


O key of David and scepter of Israel, what you open no one else can close again; what you close no one can open. O come to lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.


Necrus 30, 28.


- Turn on CNN at 10 PM to see Jess and me talking about the MTA strike.
- No, I'm not kidding!
- The camera crew arrived at 7 AM this morning and filmed me making coffee and Jess packing her backpack... if you want to find out more, you'll have to watch.
- In other news, last night I had my final workshop session. We ate cookies and drank wine, and when it was all over, we went to Spain for beer and cheap food. I enjoyed hanging out with the workshop kids one last time, and wisdom was dispensed in large doses as we picked apart the final three readings of the semester. Tomorrow, the 23rd, will be the last Seminat of the semester with Jeff Allen. I wonder, with the holidays coming on and the strike ongoing, how many of us will be there... hmmm.

- "Go away. I'm all right." - H.G. Wells (1866-1946)

- What is your preferred mode of transportation: boat, bus, car, train, or plane? Assume you're not at the wheel, etc.


Weird... we're famous.


As you may have heard there's a transit strike going on in New York. Jess has a very hefty commute (just under two hours each way on the best of days) and so she posted on Craigslist asking if anyone would be able to help her with the commute. She received an answer from CNN of all sources, asking if they could cover our commute for a piece.

And so, at roughly 7 AM this morning, Winnie, a reporter, and a camera crew filmed our reaction to news of the strike and followed us through our morning routine. Ironically, things went remarkably well... Jess was able to hail a cab after a few minutes of trying, and I hitched a ride with some other commuters. We'll see if I feel so optimistic when it's time to get home at 5:30 tonight. For the moment, however, things are going smoothly. I wonder if it's enough of a story for them.

At any rate, Jess and I will be on CNN at 10 PM tonight, if you're interested in watching.


Monday, December 19, 2005

The 'O' Antiphons: Radix


The sumup is here.

* * * * *

O stock of Jesse, you stand as a signal for the nations; kings fall silent before you whom the peoples acclaim. O come to deliver us, and do not delay.

There is a repetition of the "humble roots" theme throughout the Bible. Jesse was a simple shepherd at a time when his tribe, Judah, was a sort of "country cousin" to the more wealthy and sophisticated tribes of the north. He was, moreover, the descendent of Moabite (via Ruth) which was just as politically compromising. David, who was to become the king, was the youngest of Jesse's sons. Saul, on the other hand, David's king and eventual rival, was from Benjamin, one of the most prestigious tribes.

Of course, the connection to David would've given any descendent a favorable sheen, but by the time we churn through one thousand plus years to arrive at Jesus, both Samaria and Jerusalem had been sacked, the Jews had been deported to Babylon and brought back again, followed by the horrors of the Selucid reign and then the Romans.

In short, we're still at a distance in the third antiphon... still discussion salvation in terms of abstractions and distance. Nevertheless, calling upon Jesus as the "step of Jesse" not only draws many parallels, but it expands the derivation of earthly royalty from earthly poverty to divinity arising from earthly poverty. In short, we're already moving away from a "traditional" messianic view of a savior as a distinguished military and political leader, and toward a limited and universal understanding, one that is consistant with, and even emphasized through, poverty.


Saint Andrew


Among the various holidays and feast days I completely blitzed past in the last month was the Feast of St. Andrew on November 30th.

Depending on your preference for John or one of the others, Andrew was either picked up initially as a follower of John the Baptist or abruptly snatched away from his fishin enterprises. The former account would make him the first of the twelve disciples, an original of sorts, but I prefer the second account.

4:18. As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. 19. He said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." 20. At once they left their nets and followed him.

I'm intrigued by this scene particularly because of the almost innumerable questions it raises. Some questions are almost incidental, and apply mainly to the way I visualize the scene as I read. For example: how close is the boat to the land. Does Jesus have to shout, or are they close, or is it a creepy divine-type things where he speaks softly and they hear him just fine. Do they reply as they're bringing the boat about? And how much of this "fishing for men" is really understood. I've always been a little entertained by the possibility (real to me) that Peter and Andrew thought they were joining in on an economic venture, only to learn to their (initial) disappointment that they were prostheletizing.

Other questions cut closer to the heart of whatis going on here, and most of them are left completely unanswered. Are Peter and Andrew leaving family behind? As two able-bodied male fisherman, it would've been economically devastating to most families to lose two members at once. Do the two have misgivings? If so, how does Jesus address these? How quickly does this departure happen... less than an hour, we gather from the reading, but "right away" could mean one minute, or five, or fifteen. Were their goodbyes? Were they tearful? Did either of these young men ever see them families or their livelihood again?

Scenes like this have always marked a point of tension for me... partly because the gospel message argues so strenuously of our responsibilities to others, yet the scene depicted her (and the next with the sons of Zebedee) sound as if they must have caused someone great pain.

In the end, we can only speculate, because the text does not even consider these questions, much less answer. The one thing that is directly communicated here is the necessity of leaving. There is no indication of doubt or regret, nor is there any question of returning. The gospel could then be pointing to the need for a decisive response when the truth is explicitly known, an observation which is consistant with the gospel's logic.

But I prefer not to think of this loss as being exclusively joyful, as an unambiguous triumph. Remember, these same two young men will abandon their teacher in his hour of most desperate need. It seems that their must have been some sense of sorrow and loss at this early parting from a well-known and well-worn life. Without loss, sacrifice is meaningful. With loss, even in the unspoken lines of families and relationships in an almost tossed-aside passage, the tension in self-sacrifice, the willing self-erosion of our loves and dreams takes on meaning. God sacrificed himself in part so that we might know when to do so ourselves. Saint Andrew would be crucified himself one day.


Necrus 29, 28.


- Called in sick today. Just about to go back to sleep.
- I had a wonderful weekend, and it the highlight was Jessica and Sunday.
On Friday we stayed in, and on Saturday we managed to get a lot of thank-you notes and reading done. On Saturday night, after dinner, we met up with Mattand Peter and a group of NYU grad students at an Alphabet City restaurant, and from there we went to a party in a SoHo apartment that must have rented for 3K a month. I've never seen so many hipsters in my life. Jess and I stayed until a little after one, then we left. As it was, we didn't get home until nearly four. Matt and Peter, those crazy cats, are probably still out partying right now.
Sunday got off to a mundane start: I got up and went to church. I'd discovered a new church, however, the Oratory Church of St. Boniface, and the two masses I've attended have been among the most truly beautiful I've witnessed. The church is over 150 years old, and the preists belong to the Order of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, which should perhaps mean more to me than it does. (Know anything about them, Damien?) The mass, while in English, was more traditional in feel than what I'm used to, in a number of details, from the presence of incense at every mass through the surprising punctuality of the parishioners. For all this, however, the place doesn't feel stuffy or over-formal. The interior is wood, painted white, with a rows of marbelized columns running up each side. The shrines at the front are simple, even austere, and the crucifix above the altar is a rough woodcut with blurred features, cut in earthtones. Instead of pews, there are rows of wood chairs with wicker seats. But most outstanding is the music, rich, complex choral music. Many voices blending together in the small space. They also avoid a habit that makes me nuts in some churches, where they'll sing the entire song except the last one or two verses. The homilies have been short and to the point, but nevertheless poetic. Sunday's, for example, dealt with the limitation of human choices... and the fact no single life (Jesus, in this case) would allow for a truly difinitive incarnation (the homilist admitted this was "scandalous"). Limited perspective is an essential aspect of human experience that God would have to take on in becoming human. Likewise, our own limitations are valuable, because they give our statements and choices value through particularity. To love someone, you must love them, individually and isolated in time and space, which makes the experience valuable and unique on both ends.
I left church feeling refreshed, and when I got home, set out on a four hour cleaning blitz that included dishes, scrubbing, vacuuming, scraping scum out of the stovetop with steel wool, dusting, rearranging, and as a culmination, Jess and I set up our little Christmas tree. Jess fixed dinner: Macaroni and Cheese and homemade tomato soup, and we decorated the tree. To our first surprise, we discovered that we'd actually accumulated about a hundred ornaments, mainly as gifts from our families. Our second surprise was finding enough room on our little tree for all of them. I stop at the corner deli and bought a star and some Oreo Ice Cream, and when the tree was all decorated, we took a couple pictures (I'll post one up here) and watched It's a Wonderful Life, which I'd never seen start-to-finish before.
It was one of the most astonishingly beautiful films I'd ever seen, and probably even makes my Top 5 list. I'd expected something far more simplistic and saccharine, but there's too much good to say about that film to cover it right now.
After the film, I finished reading my last assignment of the semester, The Emegrants by Sebald, though I'll now have to go back and time and read the four I missed along the way: Swann's Way by Proust, Hour of the Star by Lispector, Gold Fools by I-forget-who, and Rails Under My Back by my teacher, Jeff Allen.
- Check out the New of the Week this week. It goes under the category of "things that should have people more pissed off than it does."
- And now I'm going to bed.

The New York Times: Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers without Courts.

When you're sick and feeling wretched, what kind of soup works most magically for you?


The 'O' Antiphons: Adonai


The sumup is here.

* * * * *

O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power.

The second antiphon invokes God as the authority on Sinai who set down the Ten Commandments.

I'm listening to musical interpretations from the SNES game Earthbound. In particular, I'm in love with SnowBound, Sky Runner, Flying Man, and especially Sweet Dream Lullaby. These songs, like the sounds from games such as Mega Man II (think MetalMan and Wily 1 & 2) and Ninja Gaiden II always struck me growing up with a sound that I was finally able to describe in 7th grade as a sound of necessity. Castlevania II. Final Fantasy IV. These were just video games. What gave video games such a prerogative on this one kind of music, and why did I want to describe it as "necessary" of all things.

There is no ambiguity in these games. The objective is clearly set; you maneuver a fictitious character through a typically 2-dimensional space and vie against enemies. The music, above its goal of establishing a mood, is meant to stir you, to keep you moving, to keep you playing. This is why the Sky Runner has such a frenetic forward momentum on Earthbound and why the pulse of Wily 1 in MM2 (possibly the greatest video game song ever) for all its intensity and bombast has a plaintive, almost pleading quality. Because the music is able to assert most fully what exactly is a stake: what will happen if Guygas, or Wily, or Ashtar, or Dracula, or Zemus... wins.

I usually have a few minutes each morning when I feel myself filled with this energy. I know what I have to accomplish and I understand fully the consequences of what will happen if I fail. When I feel this way, I feel important, decisive, necessary. I might be writing the Great American Novel or leaving for work a few minutes late. I don't know. It might be the caffeine.

I look at this antiphon as an opportunity to attribute this energy to something more human and fundamental. If wisdom tells us that there is order to the universe, that the more-than-casual interest of Adonai, the Lord of Israel, can invest our actions with a bearing upon that order.


The 'O' Antiphons: Sapientia


Warning. Religious posts ahead. It is that time of year, after all.

I've allowed myself to slide behind, and some of these posts will be late, meaning the relevant date has already passed. Still, it's the spirit and thought that count, or that at least directs me in a more favorable direction, so I'm going to write these posts anyway.

The O Antiphons are seven prayers each beginning with the word 'O' followed by a title of Christ as Lord. They are traditionally sun in mass prior to the Magnificat on the seven days leading up to Christmas. It's an explicitly coded prayer, in that that first letter of each title for Christ in each installment (Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex, and Emmanuel) listed backwards for each installment is "Ero cras," that is, "tomorrow I will be there." When recited from the 17th to the 23rd of December, on the last day "tomorrow" is the Christmas Vigil.

I am beginning this prayer one day late.

* * * * *

O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High.
You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner.
O come to teach us the way of truth.

Wisdom, in the Biblical Sense, is described almost as common-sense informed by divine inspiration. It was actually, perhaps, the original awareness of the Holy Spirit as envisioned in the New Testament, in the sense that the Spirit of Wisdom, especially in the Book of Proverbs, is an entity that is supplicated to and treated with something almost akin to autonomy. The Catholic interpretation, of course, identifies the Holy Spirit as a definite component of the Trinity; as an entity that is indivisible from the greater being of God, but that nevertheless fulfills a distinct role.

* * * * *

What does it mean to come forth from the most high? A figurative interpretation goes a long way to explain most contemporary readings of the Bible: the work is divinely inspired. This is the ground of arguments of "Biblical Infallibility" today. Ironically, the idea is even more exciting when described literally.

The earliest records of the Hebrew YHVH describe him as a god of wind and storms. Life is consciously imparted through the act of breathing, while earth is simply the substance used to construct light. Language, the understood backbone of civilization, and certainly a consideration among Biblical writers, is tied to the mouth, and throughout both the Old and New Testaments important figures are inspired by, struck by, or even taken away by great winds.

The idea of breath can also be considered from a non-Biblical perspective. Speaking personally, I've always been tempted to consider the Big Bang and aftermath, including inflation, as a sort of great exhalation. If wisdom "fills" all the universe and holds "all things together" than a literal readon consistant with science also embodies wisdom as the basic forces of our universe, strong and weak, electromagnetic and gravitation, that impose order or, to put it (perhaps) more correctly, modify the rate of entropy.

I'm interest, incidentally, on Damien and Tom's take on this, from a theological perspective, and Michael's, from a scientific angle.

The O Antiphons were formalized during the Middle Ages, if not prior. It is highly unlikely that the writer intended to draw a parallel between Biblical wisdom and the Big Bang. The parallel, however, is present, and it is the ability to frame religious writing in new and sometimes quite different contexts, that makes the writing applicable and universal.

With this in mind, wisdom might also be described as hope. If attractive energy is what binds particles together, ultimately allowing for stars, galaxies, and life, and if attracive forces represent the degree of order in a system, than wisdom is essentially divinely inspired common-sense: it is rational behavior based on evidence of order. If there was no order to our behavior, if our actions had an arbitrary impact (which, examined closely, pretty much rules out self-consciousness in the first place), then there is no reason to prefer any action over another.

All this navel-gazing has a point. The more we consider not so much the specific choices we make, but why we feel strongly about those choices, why we feel strongly about ourselves and the world we live in, why we are convinced of our ability to make accurate observations about reality, the fact that the evidence we collect can be accurate and informative, and even allows interpolation, the more we come to understand the scale of the universe and our places in it. This awareness leads to premeditated, conscious, and informed choices. It allows us reason with leftover room for awe.

I'm not convinced that the "acquisition of wisdom" will necessarily lead one toward Christianity or religion in general... I think this is a tool available by many different routes. The point, is rather, that if we know how to tell the forest for the trees, we can see much more of the forest than we might expect. Inflation theory and not scraping the Teflon surface with steel wool have more in common than we think.

The night is young.

* * * * *

Tonight was one of the most pleasant I've had in a long time... probably since last weekend when I saw my family in Rochester. After church I came home, and spent most of the afternoon cleaning. After dark, Jessica and I set up the Christmas tree and decorated it with all of our ornaments. We ate macaroni and cheese and Jess' homemade tomato soup for dinner, ate ice cream and I saw It's a Wonderful Life for the first time.

A very wise film.

Later we set out by our little tree and I finished reading the Emigrants for class. And now Jess has gone to bed, it's after three AM, and I'm typing this.

Tonight has felt important.


Friday, December 16, 2005

A Tale of Two Strikes


I've wanted to write about this for some time, but it's far enough down my list and there simply isn't time. I'm more galvinized by the developments at Delphi, and I'm pretty sure they're less accounted for on the Blogosphere. So where does that leave the MTA Strike? I'll say these two things:

1) A Union that cannot and does not strike is a Union with no power. Because it's the only raw check to which they can resort, public convenience is necessarily a secondary concern when it comes to determining if and for how long a strike should take place.

2) Strikes are, nonetheless, not independent entities that only affect one company. Strikes affect anyone whose activity is dependent upon or influenced by the product being struck. For this reason, a strike must be (or seem) well-justified, in order to have fruitful results without negative long-term consequences.

In short, I support the right of MTA workers to strike at any time with the approval of their union, but I am not necessarily convinced that a strike right now is either necessary or useful to the long-term future of the MTA and its workers.

This strike, incidentally, differs from a potential Delphi strike in almost every way.
MTA has drawn a surplus for one year which workers insist part of be applied to wage increases and pension benefits.
Delphi, on the other hand, is a bankrupt corporation trying to reduce overhead among rank-and-file while putting out pay increases and incentives at the highest levels. Delphi has also suggested that most of the hourly jobs in question have a limited future nevertheless.

The MTA strike, therefore, is driven by a question of adequate compensation, while the Delphi strike is motivated by the demand for equitable negotiations, sane business sense, and basic survival.


Necrus 26, 28.


- YESTERDAY - Typically, Tuesday is a "business" day... that is, I finish work at 2 PM, so I'm able to spend the afternoon catching up on homework, cleaning, and anything else I'm neglected Monday through Wednesday (when I'm out from 8 AM 'til midnight). Yesterday was the exception. After I finished work at the writing center (where I had to work with some of my more quarrelsome students of the semester), I walked two blocks to Bowl Mor for the Facts on File party. They know how to throw a Christmas party. I enjoyed the Ophthalmology Christmas Party last year, but given the abundance of whiskey and the lack of bowling, I was soon too smashed to talk and ended up sleeping on the Red Line all the way up to Howard. Yesterday was a bit more dignified: I was concentrating on pushing my score toward 100, and while I never broke that glittering digit, I managed to not come in last-place as well.
Afterwards, some of my coworkers were heading out to a bar in the East Village, and I wanted to go along, but I had another party tht evening and was exhausted from not getting sleep. I walked back to New School, talking with Amy who is also in the NS writing program and works at FAF... she's from Boston and lamented an earlier time working with Yankee Consulting which was, you guessed it, set up by a Yankees fan exiled to Boston. (Kids, there's an Orc in the Shire.) The basement lounge of the 12th Street New School building is no match for the Reynolds Club McCormick Lounge for sleeping, but I improvised, sidding in one of the chairs, wrapping myself tight in my coat, and pulling my hat over my eyes. I managed to sleep for almost an hour in that position.
The reading was fun, and for the first time was weighted toward fiction. Several friends of mine read: Reinhardt and Christine, and Brian from my workshop, and this may have been the best student reading so far, in terms of quality. Afterwards, there was the requisite beer and pizza, and after hanging out for awhile, Jess and I returned home. There, we watched the finale of the Apprentice. I don't know what came over me, but I've been intrigued for the last several weeks since learning that one of the final two participants had gone to the University of Chicago, and auditioned for a play that I directed. We fell asleep halfway through Leno.
This morning I have a headache, and don't know why.
- MTA STRIKE - I was going to post on this here, but the entry became too long, so I'll add a new post subsequently.


Which continent is most valuable to hold in Risk?


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Necrus 25, 28.


- Yesterday, I worked through the day, then dozed and read between work and class. At class we discussed The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald and several others read from the homework featuring different POVs. The I stopped at Spain for awhile, and headed home.
- Tired. Not wanting to go to work today. Sigh.

UFO PHOTOGRAPHS. The truth hurts, don't it.

Assuming the assurance of survival and the guarantee of a sweet view, would you prefer to be caught in a 7.0 Magnitude Earthquake, a Type 5.0 Hurricane, an F5 tornado, or a volcanic Caldera eruption (ie. the most severe forms of each disaster), which would you most like to witness?


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Weird... I'm not famous.


As it turns out, the official City of Flint website lifted their Quick Facts page directly from a draft of the Wikipedia article, particularly the part I wrote my self. The code is open, so I have no objection to the usage, but it's ironic that the description is not limited to positive reportage, and that they didn't take the extra step of factchecking the article. That article's been updated a few dozen times, and I know that at least a couple of their facts are incorrect.


Watching Closely... 5.


"I think it will take shutting this country down." - Marguerite Elder

The run down is here.

Update #5 is:
The Flint Journal: Angry workers map out moves.
The Flint Journal: 350 attend UAW rally.

Not much to say... just watch and wait and see if this tropical depression becomes a hurricane. If Delphi strikes, it'll make the front page of national newspapers in one or two days tops.


Necrus 24, 28.


- Yesterday, I worked until 4 AM, then went to sleep for four hours.

A prehistoric rendering of intergalactic travel? Nope, it's just a stromatolite.

Do you believe in UFOs? Either way, shore up your opinion.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Necrus 23, 28.


- DREAMS - I had strange dreams last night. This might be because I just got three decent night sleeps in a row. Can't remember the last time that's happened.
- I'm eight days from being finished with the semester. Yay!
- Check out Gothic Funk Manifesto #5, below.

- "Me mudder did it." - Rothstein, Arnold "Mr. Big" (?-1928)
Arnold Rothstein was the notorious gangland money man who made a fortune on the 1919 World Series fix. Rothstein, a partner of Meyer Lansky, was shot while playing poker at Park Central Hotel in New York City on November 4, 1928. He was taken to Polyclinic Hospital where despite intensive police questioning he refused to name his killer. He appears as the fictional character, Meyer Wolfshiem, in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby. - LAST WORDS -

- What was the last dream you can remember?


Gothic Funk Manifesto #5: Declaration


The army simmers in the December steam. It will coalesce in the cities, coming out of front porches and down the side streets to converge in civic centers and central business districts before marching out along the most important roads. It will slowly turn its way through the countryside, the hills and valleys, farmsteads and suburbs, bending towards its destinations. The destinations may be Chimney Rock. The destinations may be Stonehenge. Continue to supply: fill in the blanks with proper nouns. Persons, places, and things. It is essential that the army move out this December, with fireworks and tickertape in every pocket and books and photos under ever arm, food filling every backpack: hot dogs and spinach and Marshmallow Supremes. There are hallways to be filled, and pictures to be sucked up on the walls and chalkboards in sunlight. The army moves west, always following the sun, even though it is often overtaken and surpassed. The spore beats the prokaryote at the end of the race, but the propagation is close. It is essential, then, that the army move out this December, circling south out of Michigan, Flint, Pontiac, and Saginaw, to meet up with Detroit. Ann Arbor is on the move. Jackson moves out with Battle Creek. The effect trickles west: Kalamazoo and Benton Harbor, than creeps north and south along the shore: Muskegon. Chicago is on the move: they radiate out in all directions, north to Marquette, west to Des Moines, southwest to St. Louis, and south to Memphis. All these cities are on the move, in this country and in all country. It is a willfully nomadic existence. The armies are outfitted with armies of parkas and mufflers and songs, Christmas Carols and hymnals and the ubiquitous Led Zeppelin, motorcycles, hot chocolate and coffee thermoses, model airplanes, and potatoes, and sunglasses to match the careening sun. It is essential, absolutely essential, that the army move out this December.

You need writers, speakers, movers, actors, builders, engineers and conductors, electrical conductors. So be these things. Remember: in four million years we've evolved to saturation. Do you expect the human race to abound in a million years? In one hundred thousands? In ten thousand? In one thousand? If you've even a modest doubt, you need to get in on this project.

We'll be gone someday, and our remnants with us most likely. It is essential, then, to find a way to inscribe our essence upon the stars, say they can be found and imbibed by Others.

Cthulhu. Maximilien. Out out. Remnants. The Battle of Evermore. Broccoli and Cheese. Wax pop bottles. Map and Compasses. Etc.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Necrus 22, 28.


- Entries have been short due to the impending end of the semester.
- WEEKEND - On Friday, Jess and I stayed in, making cheeseburgers and watching our O.C. DVD Special Features. We needed this downtime because the rest of the weekend was running on a different agenda. Cody (my brother) graduates from the Eastman School of Music this year, and so the 10th was his recital. Jess and I were able to attend.
- On Saturday morning, we got up and took the subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan to get our Enterprise Rent-A-Car for our trip to Rochester and Eastman. Alas! When we arrived, our car had been given away. The website did not mention that reservations must be claimed at the appointed time or be given away. We discovered this at 10:30 AM, which gave us time to work with, albeit limited time. The desk worker "arranged" a vehicle for us at an office deep inside Brooklyn, and so we took a cab (to the tune of $25). Alas! When we arrived at the Brooklyn office, we discovered first that the car would have to be rented in Jess' name because I don't have a credit card. Since Jess is 24, that meant an additional $25 per day Aw, nuts. Second, they had to charge us for two days instead of one because Enterprise evidently operates on a completely different system in Manhattan than Brooklyn, and in Brooklyn the car cannot be dropped off on a Sunday.
The cost of the trip had essentially doubled. Jess got upset, I got angry, and we eventually managed to wrangle a deal that would closer approximate out budget. And so we finally got on the road at about 12:30. I still wasn't fully comfortable with my Brooklyn geography to take the BQE, so instead we drove along the Avenues from 64th street to the Manhattan Bridge, and from there wormed our way through Manhattan to the Holland Tunnel. The tribulations hadn't stopped. While driving east in New Jersey one is almost certain to end up in Lower Manhattan (wherever she's coming from), driving west has the opposite effect. You could emerge near Newark or Siberia with equal ease.
After about three wrong turns we escaped from New Jersey and made good time through Pennsylvania and New York to finally arrived in Rochester at about 7:30.
We met my parents, brother and sister, Peg, and Caitlin's boyfriend, Craig at the Microtel (as it was called), Jess and I each changed and had a slice of pizza, and we rode down to Eastman for the recital.
I'll discuss the recital itself in a later post (I want to devote more space to it than I can here) but we met my Aunt and Grandma at the auditorium, the performance went very well, and afterwards we quickly setup a reception for Cody and his friends. Interestingly, we'd intended to serve Irish coffee, but somehow the whiskey had never been picked up. My dad drove off to get it, and just after he left, Cody's friends informed us that one cannot buy liquor after 9 PM. After about twenty minutes, the kids started clearing out, and ten minutes after that, the custodian turned the lights out on us. We stumbled about, mostly in the dark, cleaning up, and finally made it down to the car.
We stayed up that night for awhile, joking and telling stories, and then went to bed.
- Sunday had a couple complications, but went much more smoothly than Saturday. Jess and I packed up our things, and drove with the family into Rochester to hear Cody sing choir at the Universalist church. It was a nice service, and I'm struck that Unitarian churches, interestingly, are similar to Catholic churches, in that commonalities are set off by variations in detail that establish completely different moods. My father described this church as feeling more "spiritual" and Flint's as more "intellectual." I would personally have described Chicago's First Unitarian as "intellectual," maybe even "gothintellectual" and Flint UU as "solticeful." But I digress.
After the service, we went to have brunch at Jay's diner outside Rochester, got gas, and started home by two. A snowstorm hit in the Appalachians over Pennsylvania, but the mountains were beautiful, and we'd made it back to New York City by 7:30, and had dropped off the car and rode the subway home by 10:30.
- I was exhausted and went to bed without finishing my homework. That was probably a mistake.


The Flint Journal: Angry workers map out moves.

What kind of music did you listen to at the tender age of twelve?


Friday, December 09, 2005

Watching Closely... 4.


" But rather than walking off a cliff in full fury, these union members would be better off letting a bankruptcy judge decide what their compensation should be in an atmosphere of labor peace." - Flint Journal editorial, 12/9/2005

The run down is here.

Update #4 is: Striking Delphi, a Flint Journal editorial, 12/9/2005

As usual, the Flint Journal is taking a moderate, conciliatory tone, essentially their response to any local dilemma whether pertaining to education, municipal government, or economics. The fact of the matter is that:

1) A union that cannot strike is a union without power.
2) A union that does not strike in response to eggregious, unscrupulous, and self-destructive corporate behavior is tantamount to a union that can not strike.
3) The editorial is directed to the UAW as if it is the sole agency here, but the fact of the matter is that not only is Delphi administration responisible for the bankruptsy in the first place, but Delphi administration has the most options to reopen negotiations on terms more amicable to the workforce.

By refusing to strike in a "march off a cliff," the UAW would be only briefly postponing the inevitable decline of American automotive companies, while accelerating the erosion of labor that has been afflicting this nation for the last fifty years.

Delphi Automotives, on the other hand, has a special opportunity to reconcile with the UAW, and forward their own agenda to reduce overhead, by eliminating golden parachutes and sweetheart deals that are clearly unproductive and unreasonable given the present situation. Delphi must seek to recruit management looking to list a company's salvation on their resumes instead of relying upon the security of a "get out of jail free." Such individuals are available for the taking, and frankly are more qualified to save a corporation in the brink of bankruptsy.

The UAW, on the other hand, must fight for its workers' rights, and surrendering or postponing that obligation for the short-term reward of placating a suicidal leadership will not save jobs in the long-run, either in Flint or elsewhere.

In short, there is no solution to Delphi's crisis that does not involve sharp sacrifice and calculated risk on both ends. This is a high stakes game of chicken, and this time, the UAW cannot afford to turn aside first.

If they do, they cede the right to race.

Their bargains would become moot.


And by the way...


I'm getting kind of tired of the some of the New York Times political cartoons.

Not Jeff Danziger, Doonesbury, Tom Toles, or Ben Sergeant who are consistantly awesome (and liberal).

Not Pat Oliphaunt who's keen but left us with the idiotic "Scalito" cartoon for a week.

Not even Rudy Park and Tony Auth who are almost always obvious and rarely worth a smile.

Specifically, my beef is with GLENN McCOY. As (one of?) the nation's premier newspaper(s?), the New York Times should present us with at least one well-thought out, persuasive, and clever conservative cartoon, and Glenn McCoy's transparent, histrionic rant aren't teaching anyone how to understand conservative American values, much less how to grapple with them for inconsistancy.

No wonder we liberals struggle to sound beyond the choir.

Are we forgetting how to argue?


Necrus 19, 28.


- Ahh, yesterday. Work went well. I came home. I was less uniformly succesful getting work done than I had hoped, though I did succeed as finishing the very-gothic Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro (Remains of the Day). Actually, I really recommend this one to anyone who likes a good ghost story with socially charged allegorical content. And I mean that in an exclusively (exhaustively) positive sense.


What is the first law you pass as supreme dictator of the world?


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Necrus 18, 28.


- Later, friends, later.


From whence to you launch your global assault?


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Wait! I didn't mean it!


Don't be angry, Billy! I'm just frustrated because I've put all my chips on your Thirty-Three, and it doesn't seem to be spinning in to place in awhile. And... I am disappointed that you've seemingly dropped the "Confessions." Please send us some love, or something.

~ Connor


Necrus 17, 28.


- YESTERDAY - Was very strange. I hadn't gotten much sleep in two days (only six and four hours, respectively) and things happened in just unusual enough a sequence to give the sensation of a first impression to activities I'd been doing for months. On my way to work, I took a different subway exit that, unbeknownst to me, opens into the bottom level of a mall. It took about ten minutes to find my orientation and leave. At work I was too tired to read up on the news or work on the blog much on the side, so I mainly kept refreshing my inbox and waiting for emails. On the way out, I got into a conversation with Jean, a coworker who I'd shared the elevator with, and then accidentally got on the B train instead of the Q. The B got me close enough to New School, however, so I got off at the Washington Square Park stop, got a slice of pizza (more on this in a moment) and ate it as I walked to class. I don't normally have class on a Tuesday. This was a make-up session for the class cut from Thanksgiving week; my literary seminar. I hadn't read one of the books on time, so I spent most of the time parsing context and taking extensive notes to use later on (when I have read it). We were in a different classroom, narrow, old, cracked, white, with long narrow windows and walled radiators that coughed out dry heat. I was reminded of Wiebolt. Afterwards, I got home in time to curl up in bed during My Name is Earl and The Office. Then I slept through Law & Order and the local news. But I woke up for the first half of Leno. Strange day.
- TODAY - I'm optimistic. Much better rested.
- PIZZA - Having decided that Chicago pizza is a superior meal, but observing Gemma's comments on the social aspects of eating a New York style pizza, I've been nonetheless disappointed with the pizza I've had since getting here. I frankly think I've just been eating at all the wrong places, because something people make such a big deal about shouldn't be so mediocre, right? Essentially, the "New York" style pizza I've had has been like messy, large, flattened Dominoes. Well, I was right about something, because the pizza I ate yesterday on the walk to class (in the cold) definitely looked like the other NYC pizzas I've had, but tasted like something bigger and better. The trick was in the cheese. Slippery and gooey, hot and dense it was almost as saucy and spicy as the tomato paste, and combined with a brittle bready crust, I could see why someone might get all worked up over this stuff.

PICTURE OF THE WEEK New York City pizza.

When you embarked upon your campaign of global domination, what was your secret weapon?


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Dammit, Billy.


Where the Hell are you?

There's no word on the runification, your autobiography is languishing, and you haven't even logged onto your MySpace account since August 23rd.

When I type your name into Google News, it only gets 27 hits. That's sad. Perry Farrell gets 86, and Trent Reznor gets 99. Kurt Cobain has you all trumped at 490. Beaten by a dead guy. Heck, Connor Coyne gets 21 hits. You realize that your multi-plantinum ass is only 6 Google News hits ahead of an unpublished writer from Michigan.

Whatever happened to Glass and the Ghost Childrens? Where's the White Spider? Where's to the Atom Bomb?

Whatever happened to that revolution you promised us on all the T-shirts?

~ Connor


Necrus 16, 28.


- YESTERDAY - My productive streak continues, or so it seems. I had my last presentation of the semester at workshop last night, so now I can breathes a sigh of relief. I also read the first six chapters of Helena Parente Cuhna's Woman Between Mirrors and attended a fiction forum with Emily Barton and David Schickler. Today, I have to crank through Lispector's The Hour of the Sun. Tonight, I'll read Katsuo Ishiguro.
- SNOW - More snow! More snow!

Dickinson, Emily (1830-1886)
"- the fog is rising"

Why did you embark upon your plan of world domination?


Monday, December 05, 2005

Miss Witherspoon, by Christopher Durang


On Saturday, Jessica and I attended the Playwrights Horizon's production of Christopher Durang's new play Miss Witherspoon. This is the second installment of our season tickets given by Hallie at our wedding.

I liked the play a lot. In general, I would describe it as fun, if not deep, with the exception of one aspect. And truthfully, the play is about what one should expect whenever she hears the reverberations of that relatively known name, Christopher Durang. The piece was filled with funny moments and absurdities... something familiar that struck me like well-scripted Dada colliding with a sitcom. This is, for many of us, quintessentially Durang. And of course, the human drama was completely surrounded and submerged in a thematic (as opposed to philosophically rigorous) exploration of theological issues. This also was quintessentially Durang.

The premise of the play is refreshing and direct, albeit almost atemporal. It might be classed postmodern (the setting is "the earth and not the earth," "the past and the foreseeable future" except for a strong moral position that doesn't imply cynicambiguity. Essentially, "Miss Witherspoon" is a soul who constantly reincarnates without progress due to a constant string of suicides. The action is divided between her (generally miserable) terrestrial experiences and various afterlives. Her "bad attitude" and refusal to participate draws increasingly powerful figures to intervene, beginning with the effervescent Maryamma, and building to Jesus (in the form of a black woman), and finally Gandalf. The plot, then, is more thematically driven than event driven, though the script does not fully commit to this approach.


I chastized Sarah Schulman's play for not living up to its own ambitions, and while Miss Witherspoon was a better piece of writing overall, there wasn't much that was mind-blowing in the script. That said, I don't know that the script was striving for something greater than fun. Inasmuch as it achieves what it set out to do, it must be considered a success.

Where the "fun" distinction becomes truly relevant is the balance of emphasis on the script over the production. That is, a straightforward play, a living room play, a Manic Flight Reaction is constrained by austere production limitations and a psychologically binding premise. The writing then is either unambiguously successful or conspicuously bad. Against such a measuring stick, I might describe Miss Witherspoon as "entertaining," which falls short of "fun." Why does it? Because television and books and the internet are all entertaining, all of which I can access from my apartment, and none of which braving the Saturday night crowds and winds in Times Square.

Fortunately, the script does not demand an austere production nor psychological rigor any more than the play presents philosophical depth. The text is musical, but doesn't overwhelm production choices, and this allows the acting, the set, the music and sound enough levity to provide their own depth. In this production, the choices were consistent with Durang's story, evocative and suggestive of sleek magic. The acting was energetic, committed, and hyperbolic in its interpretation of cosmic emotion. The play danced through its ninety minute, intermissionless running time at a tempo that seemed breezy for a play where time has little meaning. The set, I will discuss further below...

In short, the depth and beauty of this production, its sense of magical fun, was largely composed of production choices that moved around and hinged upon the script. The words themselves didn't resonate with mystery and meaning, but the production could not have done so if the script had not encouraged such investment.

In this sense, Durang's writing served as something closer to a musical score than literature. Miss Witherspoon is a script that makes the argument against theater as literature; the was much more impressive onstage than it could have ever been on the page. (Perhaps this, too, is quinessentially Durang).


The play was not without its problems.

For the most part, these were moment to moment problems that did not spoil the arc of the play. They typically broke down to characters executed with a panache that did not compensate for their glaring contradictions.
Chief among these were "mom 2" and "dad 2" who seemed to be designed as the Everyevil Parent, but were not rendered with the primary color consistancy of other incarnated characters (such as the dog owner, mom 1, and dad 1). Mom 2, in particular, who benefited from generous stage time, was an admixture of evangelical fanaticism, doped-up slackery, and redneck hostility. Perhaps two of these traits my coexist, but the three together
presented a mess of contradiction that was absent from other characters in the play.

Another problem was in the final dramatic appearance of Gandalf, who manages to trump both Maryamma and Jesus for onstage effect. While I have no doubt that Gandalf was a deliberate anachronism, and while I personally endorse such an angle, he didn't carry the import he should've. He mentioned Middle-Earth once, timidly, and acted primarily as a cheerleader to balance out the other two; less brusque than Jesus, and less complacent than Maryamma. Ultimately, if you're going to put Gandalf in the Afterlife you'd better PUT GANDALF IN THE AFTERLIFE, with references to Rings and Valar and all.

These incosistencies notwithstanding, I believe it was the devil-may-care of the text that suggested the risk and audacity in the other production choices, which together elevated the play to something more than entertainment. If this is the case, then these concessions were worthwhile.


I'm deliberately vamping off the recent Vatican document now in my abuse of this word.

Still, I can't dance around the point:

The script was entertaining, the acting was free and bold, and the direction was adventuresome and fun.

The set, however, was profound.

If artists and sculptors tempered their ultra-conceptual zeal with the pragmatic and eye-catching priorities of the set designers on Miss Witherspoon, I'd be a more frequent visitor to galleries and museums.

When we entered the space, both Jess and my attention was immediately arrested by the performance space. An old fashioned reading chair, with dented rungs and a fine, if worn, cover and stray threads sat next to a small table. Astroturf modeled grass curved in two lines, almost fractal in their slightly irregular curves and clides off to the left where a small flower bed was filled with a row of tulips conspicuously marked by a single absence. The missing tulip rested in a vase on the table. Behind this, however, bowing up and away, were brilliant, radioactive blue screens. They flaired out at the bottom and shot to a straight verticle quickly, allowing the space to alternately suggest a bowl when the actors were clustered at center, or a traditional room when they were arrayed along the edges. Projected or painted (I never could completely decide) on the wall were bunches of clouds, and upon these were projected a series of squares, "windows" that had distinct borders but an insubstantial dimension that made it unclear whether one was looking out at the sky, or in on a sky that was mysteriously "interior."

During scenes in afterlife, incense holder lamps were flown in and the sound of wind-chimes floated through the space, while the terrestrial scenes were accomplished through the insertion of essential, if minimal, set pieces. These setpieces, however, were small enough so as to not eliminate the blue sky / window effect.

This set was one of the most effective, beautiful, and affective stage sets I've ever seen, and it did a lot to drum up the drama of the production a notch.


Necrus 15, 28.


- WEEKEND - What a weekend it was! First, I actually managed to accomplish a respectable percentage of things I needed to get done, meaning I may have momentarily halted my slide into oblivion, and even began to take back some ground. We discussed Don DeLillo's Mao II in my seminar, and I finally finished the Sound and the Fury. It was beautiful, but I barely comprehend, and know I need to read it again...
On Friday, I bought Risk and set up for the "party" Jess and I had decided to hold at the last minute. Matt and Peter came over, as did Reinhardt and Scott from my workshop, and while six isn't exactly a bash, it meets any dormitories standards for "party," and we managed to make a go of it until after 3, without invoking Risk.
On Saturday, Jess slept in and I spent the first part of the day "being productive." Later on we went out to see Christopher Durang's Miss Whitherspoon at Playwrights Horizons, which was totally sweet (thanks Hallie!), and out with Matt and Peter, which was an ill-fated adventure that ended up with me misplaced on Canal St.
On Sunday, I went to church, and took a nice long nap when I got home. Ah, life can be so romantic. In the evening, I worked on finishing my various projects, but finally gave up around 9:30. And here I am!
- SNOW - It finally snowed in New York for the first time yesterday. Bit, warm, wet, fat, fluffy snow that hugged the curbs and puffed up from all the windows and fire escapes. Lovely. We've only two weeks left of autumn, now.
- NEW OF THE WEEK - Check it out today. Certain parts of the world are slammin on the breaks, but slowly, country by country, this issue is being transformed.

BBC News: 'Gay weddings' become law in UK.

Write something that encapsulates the essence of the word "maudlin."


Saturday, December 03, 2005



Sheepishly. Several posts in the last month have had appreciable grammer and linking errors. I've corrected a few:

Important Issues: The Price of Economic Polygamy?

NYC Post #10: Brooklyn - Downtown Brooklyn - Fort Greene / Clinton Hill - FORT GREENE


Story #1: January 1998.


I didn't jump into exploring Chicago nearly as quickly as I've started on New York. My first couple quarters quickly overwhelmed me, and I only left Hyde Park/Woodlawn once between the end of Orientation and Thanksgiving of that year. I started to get restless however, so on one night at the end of January, when the temperature soared into the thirties, Wanderlust took over.

I started by crossing the melting snow of the midway, already guaranteeing that my feet would get wet, that my socks would steep in water. Then I crossed through campus, gray and bustling with scarved-and-hatted people coming and going from the evening's events. I passed through the Reynolds club, walked east a block on 57th, just as packed with students and seminarians. Then I turned left, passed the First Unitarian Church and all the big brick houses on Woodlawn. I crossed 55th and passed the grimy tenements leading up to 53rd. This was familiar territory. This was where UT parties were held, where I met with my cast for Thanksgiving dinner; where I tasted gin for the first time.

Then, I crossed the plaza at 53rd, and passed the modest, tidier tenements to the north, and crossed Hyde Park Boulevard into Kenwood. I'd seen the big mansions up here once or twice, but this day was the first time I got a closer look. They were beautiful, but of course, the gardens were tangled messes, and I could chase from my mind the thought that one of these houses was where Leopold and Loeb had happened. I passed Louis Farrakhan's house, and just imagined what Hell I'd raise if anyone asked me to cross the street, as some paranoid student had warned me.

I crossed 47th street, and entered North Kenwood. The houses almost immediately were more run down, less conspicuously kept, but some had clearly been maintained for decades, and I'd read about the gentrification that was already transforming this area. My experience was so limited that I could only access things in comparison to Flint and Flushing. That is, these brick houses, though elegant with cut limestone. But they seemed skinny, standing tall and alone with vacant lots on either side: lonely. I thought about how I was taking this walk alone, how I was alone myself, and how the various girls who'd mesmerized me since I'd arrived in Chicago seemed somewhere between oblivious and underwhelmed by my presence.

In South Kenwood, the yards had all been empty, but up here, people were out on the sidewalk and in their front yards, taking advantage of the warm day. Walking or jogging, and fiddling aroudn their houses. Several said "hi." It seemed more special to them that they might exchange a greeting with someone walking down a sidewalk on an unusually warm day.

I crossed 43rd street, and the neighborhood changed again. Now I was in a tenement district essentially out of reach of rehabilitation and without Kenwood's glamorous lecacy. Race-consciousness kicked up a notch. That is, I felt self-conscious, and feeling conscious of being self-conscious, guilty and exposed, which made me more self-conscious. Woodlawn had merged with Lake Park. I passed tenements, and there were kids sitting on the porches and a group of men and women congregating in front of a supermarket with brightly-colored verticle panels. Nobody noticed me as I walked past.

I passed the tenements and into the range of the soon-to-be-demolished Ida B. Wells homes. Just blocks away, the homes huddled close together, low towers with half their windows slapped with sheets of plywood, while nearby loomed twelve story ranges of concrete and window flat concrete expanses empty between them. At Pershing road, the high-rises were brick and traingular.

I was out of familiar territory, and the sun was starting to go down, so when I saw a middle-aged woman in a heavy coat, elegant but casual, I decided to ask her how to get to the lake. She told me to turn right on Pershing and follow it over the tracks and Lake Shore drive. I thanked her. Somehow we got into a conversation and she explained that she lived in the triangle-shaped tower and was part of the tower council. I still don't know how the tower related to the Wells projects, because it's still standing today, even though the rest have been demolished.

I crossed the bridges, and for the first time discovered the concrete twists and whorls that define Burnham Park between Promontory Point and the McCormick Place. I hadn't realized such bursts of creativity had been brought in such rudimentary materials to this thin strip of grass and trees between the lake and the drive. I walked along the bedrock walls set back from the lake for several blocks, and switched to the concrete path when the rocks ran out. I walked back south. To my right, the sun began sinking behind first the Ida homes, and then the brownstones and brick homes of Kenwood. There were joggers on the path, and a man squealing around a parking lot in a black Cadillac. I found a wallet discarded in the snow.

When I reached the crossover at Hyde Park Boulevard, I crossed over, and made my way between the big residential towers, their windows angled squares of gold in the swelling sun, and turned left onto Cornell. This was a part of Hyde Park completely new to me, cold and professional, dense and tall, and it made up for its lack of intimacy with the energy of traffic jams and brisk pedestrian traffic. I passed by the Amoco on Cornell and marveled at the number of people clustered there, and the variety of tasks that brought them there. I admired the umber brick apartments with their neat windows and arcing branches twisting wet and elegant under their windows.

Quite different from the familial warmth of the University, of Woodlawn and Kimbark south of 55th.

I walked south on Cornell, keeping the 1700 E. 56th Street in my site ahead and to the left, wondering were it stood. I'd not noticed it before. Now I counted its forty-odd floors, and realized it was twice as tall as the tallest building in Flint. I reached 55th, and looked right and left at the Morrey's Deli and the Thai restaurants. Even though I'd been here before, I'd been wrapped in conversation. I didn't realize how many Thai restaurants there had been. How the buildings here, in my neighborhood, in Hyde Park, pulsed with a wakefulness and congestion just as student-dominated, but more bass than caffeine related. I would live over here in a few years.

Still not totally familiar with my bearings, I continued south on Cornell to 56th, turned and past the Brett Harte school. I remembered reading his writing in 11th grade. I turned onto Stony Island and walked down to 59th Street. The whole way, kids in their teens were crowding on and along the sidewalk, laughing and talking in loud voices. I was alone among them, aloof. I turned right onto 59th street, crossed under the Metra tracks, and was firmly in familiar territory. I walked past the Lab Schools and the stoic University buildings, cooling now that the sun had set and twilight was coming on, and empty now that the last classes had let out.

I crossed the Midway again, and was back in the dining hall. I ate dinner and played a game of foosball with Armand and Ben. Then I got online and looked up the phone number of the person in the wallet I had found. I called him and explained that I had found his wallet in Burnham park. He told me to bring it to him. I explained that the distance was too far and I didn't have time, but if he liked, I'd leave it at the front desk with a note. He said that was fine. I gave him the address, wrote a note for the desk attendant, and dropped off the wallet. I don't think it was ever picked up.


Friday, December 02, 2005

Necrus 12, 28.


- Finally, mid-October arrives on December 2nd.
- We're having a small-scale party tonight... at least I think it will be small-scale. I will report back on this pseudo-first shindig at the Laurelton.


Which muppet is the toughest?


Thursday, December 01, 2005



I recieved a comment from alan1 under Watching Closely... 3:

I was wondering if anyone else saw that recent USA Today piece that was highly critical of Wikipedia? I do not in any way mean to critique Connor or his analysis, as I feel that he is uniquely qualified to talk about the GM issue and that, for the most part, Wikipedia is the greatest thing to ever happen to the web. And I have confidence that it is accurate in the vast majority of cases. It just, for me anyway, raises a number of questions unrelated to GM about how we, as a technologically connected society, gather, disseminate, and control information (think Fox News). I found the peice on under their Opinion section, titled "A false Wikipedia 'biography'".

This is an insightful point, or rather, a galvanizing invitation to discussion. While I'm unable to devote a lot of time to the question right now, I'm happy to make a couple general observations and then see how the conversation progresses in the comments.

A quick description of Wikipedia for the unfamiliar. It's billed as "the free encyclopedia," and is surely more comprensive than any other database ever compiled. The list of contibutors is likely in the tens of millions (if not more) because, essentially, anyone with internet access is enabled to contribute. Anyone can search for an article by entering the term in the search box, and anyone can write or edit an article simply by clicking on "edit this page."

Does this have the possiblity for abuse? Certainly. There are no specific confirmations that an article is run through before going live, so there is literally no verification of the accuracy of an article. The Yahoo News article presents a scenario of a highly-damaging and person fabricated bio. This could to anyone... any of you, for example, could create an article on "Connor Coyne" and talk about how I was caught using inappropriate charms on a goat.

There are safeguards of a more indirect nature, though I doubt most users take advantage of them. Chief among these are the discussion pages and histories. Every update is archived along with the ICP of the computer from which is was logged. In this way if an entry is contentious or its content is disputed, anyone accessing Wikipedia can see what changes are made, when and from which computer. These, of course, are no guarantees, but in my experience they've come pretty close. The most convincing articles come replete with external authoritative sources (often online) and the contributors who include these features are typically most active in maintaining an entry. (I have this relationship myself with the article on Flint, Michigan, which I've largely written myself, and which I continue to monitor for inaccuracies). The presence of an active and rigorous contributors in recent revisions of any entry, then, gives a very high correlation to accuracy.

Still, given such an array of possible quandaries, what is the advantage of Wikipedia?

It's the size of the project and, since its created by a massive body of contributors, willingness to extrapolate on subjects typically outside the range of more traditional reference sources. For example, I've never found a published encyclopedia with an article on "CBGB" but Wikipedia gives me all the information I need to know.

I use Wikipedia for casual reading and reference. If I'm making an argument or posting on this blog, I'll typically fall back upon a more established source to confirm my data. In the case of the recent GM postings, I've used Wikipedia to confirm specific figures about which I've already had a specific idea. For example, I knew that Delphi was spun off of AC Delco in the late nineties, but I used Wikipedia to determine the exact year.

I recommend use of Wikipedia as long as one is aware of its limitations, and doesn't rely upon it for anything absolute. Bear in mind that more frequently visited articles (New York City, or Saddam Hussein) will be visited more frequently and be more carefully scrutinized, and therefore corrected more consistantly. The more obscure the article, then, the more important it is to independently corroborate facts and impressions.


Necrus 11, 28.


- DELAYED RESPONSES - Getting to this late in the day, I know. I have tutoring at 9 AM sharp on Thursdays and don't get out until 2 PM, and today I had to stop at Target and buy underwear and RiskTM, and I've been responding to emails and generally being highstrungsincethensojustdeal.
- I feel I have to lighten things up a bit after posting on the Vatican, GM, and existential angsty ennui in the Big Apply NYC.
- :)
- WEATHER - The Big Apple was a more healthy 39 degrees today, though that's still hopelessly late October in my book. It looks like the midwest is getting some real weather.
- This is going to be the Best Movie Ever.


No trailers. No taglines. The thing sells itself. You don't have to ask "what's it about?"

It's worth repeating: Snakes on a Plane.

- What should they call the sequal to Snakes on a Plane?