Archive for November, 2005

Tune of the Day

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

Mass Ensemble is an extremely interesting and captivating group. You should check them out. I saw them one summer when they performed within the Milwaukee Art Museum

Theosophical Society

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

Research paper for Western Civ II

In an era searching for its identity, spiritualism provided a fantastic alternative to traditional religion and science. From trends toward the occult in the nineteenth century sprang the Theosophical Society, developed by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott, based upon a combination of ancient religions. Blavatsky traveled the world studying religions of all types in search of a “body of truth.” Olcott was a Spiritualist convert who evolved to a Buddhist activist and hero. Overshadowed by showmanship and spectacle, theosophy was dismissed as an occult fad rather than a coherent philosophy. This essay examines the founders of the Theosophical Society and explores the society itself, including its fundamentals, attractions and criticisms.

Hagia Sophia

Monday, November 28th, 2005

Research paper for History of Western Art I

If a building can be metaphor for Christianity itself, Hagia Sophia is the Trinity, existing as a church, a mosque and a museum. The cathedral, also called The Church of the Holy Wisdom, was resurrected twice after being destroyed and burned. After the completion of its definitive form in 562, Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral for the next 1000 years and remains the fourth largest today. Attributed to Emperor Justinian I, this architectural marvel is also known for its beautiful mosaics and is the first building to use pendentives to support its large dome. It is located in Istanbul, named Constantinople at the time of the cathedral’s construction.

“Goodbye, Lenin!”

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

Research paper for West Civ II

How would you feel if you woke up one day and everything you knew and loved had been torn down? This is the question from which Alex attempts to protect his mother in the film Goodbye, Lenin! Living on the east side of the Berlin Wall, Alex’s mother (Mother) became a fervent nationalist and communist activist when her husband left and crossed to West Germany. Her children and her country were the center of her life. She married the fatherland, like a nun weds the Lord. Mother’s life was entirely nation-centric.


Saturday, November 26th, 2005

My holiday is not actually finished, but my brain is swimming right now, so I thought I’d expel some brain dross.

Monday, I got out of school early because my night class was cancelled. So I sat down to work on my research. It was slow going until about 9:30. Then I fell asleep. A little after 10pm, I started to work diligently. I finished my first draft of one paper at 5:45am and went to sleep.

Tuesday, I woke up about noon. I took my paper to my TA for a preliminary assessment. When I came home, I worked lazily on my paper. But we went to the home of some friends for dinner and hanging out until fairly late. When we got home, I attempted to start some work but failed.

Wednesday, classes were off for the holiday. I worked intermittently on my second draft and eventually completed it, but not until late.

Thursday, we went to S.B.’s grandparents’ home for lunch/dinner. We were gone most of the day. When we returned at about 8:30pm, we made grilled cheese and tomato soup and watched “Elf”. It was lovely and cuddly. But afterward, I tried to get start on the next paper but failed to focus. I also made a pie.

Friday, today, I got up early to hit the grocery. I quickly made another pie, but S.B. got called to do some work for a freelance project. We were almost an hour late getting to my dad’s place for lunch/dinner. My brother had to leave early for work, so 1. I felt bad about being late and 2. I was hoping to use his leaving as an excuse to leave at a reasonable time so I could whip myself into shape and work on my papers. We were there longer than I expected. I had planned on being home by 5pm, but it was about midnight. Then I made a pie that was a disaster. I have been in a foul mood this evening.

Most importantly, though, I found out tonight that my best friend’s wife had complications with her pregnancy and they lost their baby. I never know what to say when something tragic happens. I’m good for little let-downs, and I’m good for happy announcements. But I don’t think anyone (who has not been trained) knows what to do in this situation. I mean, you feel stupid just leaving big gaps in the conversation and meekly saying “yeah” when they say something, as if you can relate at all. Fortunately, he’s an amazing enough guy that he would ask me about how things were going on my end, so that I could convey light-hearted anecdotes to make him chuckle. I think I talked about how crappy I’ve been on my papers. He’s teaching a class this semester and said he was pretty sure his students were waiting until the last minute to do their papers as well.

We are going out for a movie tomorrow together. I want to give them a big hug, but I’m a bad hugger. I’m awkward if it’s just a good-to-see-ya hug, and if it’s a hug of importance, I may get blubbery. My eyes are watery now, and my face is tensed up in that sort of grimace that stops you from showing a specific emotion, just inexplicit discomfort made obvious my a rumpled forehead. I can tell I’ve been clenching my jaw, because it’s achy and my ears and throat hurt. And I’m beginning to feel the time. I better sleep this off and cheer up.

Paper Writing

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

I am still writing papers. Yes I am.
I’ve been working quite diligently as of late, but I notice that the more I do work, the more I want to say, so it takes just as long as if I were distracted; it’s just a better end product.
I am stressing, though, for I have four papers due with the next 12 days. One is nearly finished, one has been started and two have yet to be touched.

Anyway, I had some thoughts while working on one of my papers, but it is personal speculation and not suitable for the paper itself. Once I post my research on the Theosophical Society, you will understand that to which I am referring. But for now, this may not mean much.

The two founders of the Theosophical Society are Madame Helena Petrovna Blavtasky and Colonel Henry Steel Olcott. HPB was a psychic who traveled all over the world studying world religions. She reportedly was also a medium and capable of telekinesis (which according to her was really astral projection interacting with the physical world). She is a very interesting character and did a *lot* of crazy stuff, including getting shot by a musket and hit with a sword while fighting for the unification of Italy.

But the more I find out about Olcott, the more I think this guy is totally underated. He set up numerous free schools all over India and is responsible for a Buddhist revival in the East. It’s true that he may never have become the man he was if he had not met HPB. I can imagine what it’s like to be the inspiration for greatness but never actually achieve anything yourself. That would suck. But in this case, HPB gets all the credit, well, all the credit in the US and Europe. Olcott remains honored in India.

HPB was extremely charismatic, but her eccentricites seemed to make the whole Theosophical Society look like a joke. What would you do if some lady came up to you, claiming she could communicate with the dead and levitate items with her astral body? Would you think she was cooky? What if you asked her to give you a demonstration, but she couldn’t because it doesn’t work under pressure? And then what if she said, “Hey, you should really subscribe to my new philosophy.” Would you? Would you even bother to look into it? What if her philosophy ended up being a combination of Hindu and Buddhist principles?

In my head, it’s as if Martin Luther King Jr had delivered his “I have a dream” speech in a Muppet voice. The message gets overshadowed by spectacle, by ridiculousness. It’s the new adage- “Don’t shoot the message.”

First Real Snow

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

I awoke this morning to find- well, that my entire leg was numb and I had to walk like Frankenstein- but also that snow had actually accumulated on the ground. It’s quite pretty on the first snow, when it’s still white.

Tune of the Day

Sunday, November 20th, 2005

Lunachicks – FDS
These gals rock like the Babes, but with more candy and beer.
I saw Lunachicks in college (1996) when they opened for NOFX. Of course, we went for the ‘Chicks. My roomie and I used to always sing “FDS”, and I was very proficient in bleeping every swear word because I played it on my radio show a few times. But since I couldn’t just leave you with one song…
Bonus: Jerk of All Trades

Since the files are long gone, I have posted videos in their place.

Tune of the Day

Saturday, November 19th, 2005

Babes in Toyland – Jungle Train
I dig this song so much! These girls are awesome!
I’d use the word “core” but I’m not sure that term translates beyond the time/place when/where I first bought this album. I used this term c.1992-1996, often refering to things that were both awesome and badass. The urban dictionary has 35 definitions for this term, most of which do not apply to this tune or the group.

Since the file is long gone, I have added this video instead. Go to 3:00

Cultural Deviations: Food

Friday, November 18th, 2005

I live in Wisconsin.
I have done so all of my life except for my stint as an undergraduate in Boston.
So why don’t I like bratwurst?
More importantly, why am I obsessed with crab cakes and grits?

Oh, and blintzes.
And lox on a bagel with cream cheese.