Monday, February 28, 2005

I was able to get my hands on a partial list of the items contained within the goody bags given to each actor nominated at the Oscars (with thanks to John Derbyshire and Google for helping me compile this list):

-hotel and resort getaways
-spa treatments;
-cashmere PJs
-designer slippers
-bottles of olive oil
-steak dinners
-a hair dryer
-kitchen appliances
-an exclusive new high-tech phone not yet released to the public


I'm pretty sure these are the same people who bitch about how we don't give enough aid as a country and pat each other on the back for giving out handshakes and maybe a bread crust or two to starving crippled children in Sri Lanka. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I pledge to demolish Hollywood if I'm ever elected president. And when I say demolish, I don't want to conjure up images of bulldozers or wrecking balls or anything.
I want to conjure up images of F-117 Stealth Bombers over the skyline of L.A.

(x number of actors were not available for comment as they were busy eating a steak dinner while talking over their new cell phone to arrange their getaway vacations.)

Sunday, February 27, 2005

I just want to go on record as saying: I CANNOT STAND THE OSCARS. It's already akin to paying Hollywood to masturbate all over everyone, but when girls watch it always ends up sounding like this:

"Ohmigawd she's so ugly...why is she with him? He's so hot. Oh but her dress is so you think I'd look good in it? Green is so NOT her color...and her boobs are too big...she's probably had surgery. Ugh...and her hair...that's so tacky." That's when I want to grab a heavy object and proceed to stomp ass. If I wanted dumb commentary I'd read movie reviews in the student newspaper.

Okay, that's it. My rant's over. I promise, really. Anger has been successfully discharged.

...For now. :-P


Not really quite sure what to say. I'm not always sure who reads this blog on a regular basis, and since I tend to be an open book in real life I prefer to be somewhat more enigmatic on here.

That being said, I guess I should be feeling a lot of pain right now. Racking, soul-searing pain. But I don't. It's not that I'm not sad, or upset, or disappointed. But I just don't seem to be able to summon up the strength to sustain that kind of grief. Howard Roark said in The Fountainhead "Maybe it hurts so much that I don't even know I'm hurt. But I don't think goes only down to a certain point and then it stops."
And I don't think I'm numb. I think I'm just ready to move on.

Don't you know that I go crazy
But I've nothing left to give
Though I'll miss you for a while
Don't you know that I go crazy
But you're on your own tonight
Though you know I'll miss your smile...

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Adventurer Makes His Culinary Debut

I decieded the other night, after cooking spaghetti in Spotswood in a fit of hunger-induced desperation, that it was time for me to learn how to cook pasta. Also, I wanted to cook pasta with a sauce that was something other than canned. So I asked Dymphna the best way to cook an alfredo sauce and got some high-quality intel.
So yesterday I went to Food Lion and got the following things:

-italian seasoning
-rotini (12 oz)
-fettucine (16 oz)
-two pints of heavy whipping cream
-parmesan cheese
-a four cheese tomato sauce (hey, sometimes the canned stuff comes in handy)
-three broccoli crowns
-a bag of baby carrots
-garlic bread
-ginger ale

My surefire method for cooking vegetable alfredo rotini:

Put one pint of the cream on the stove at a fairly low temperature. It's really up to long as you're whisking the stuff pretty well it won't burn. Put the rotini in a big pan and fill with water. I don't have any truck with the measurements of water they put on the pasta package, so I would recommend filling the pot up with water until it seems right to you. If you overfill--eh, it just takes a little longer to boil. Cook the rotini on HIGH. (Add a couple pinches of salt while it's cooking if you so desire.)

Get out the seltzer and a can of juice and mix self a drink. If one is living in somewhere other than a substance-free dorm, beer is also a good choice. I would recommend Heineken or Amstel.

Make sure the cream isn't getting too hot too quickly, then cut up a broccoli crown and some baby carrots. Again, it's up to you...I kind of guesstimated. One crown was enough for 12 oz of rotini--it's better to be generous with vegetables and meat, in my opinion. Fifteen baby carrots or so should be plenty, but it's really your call.

Put the vegetables in a pot of water and bring to a slow boil. Add basil and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese to the cream sauce and whisk vigorously. (I actually added more cheese to the sauce than was called for. If you like your sauce to have lots of body--and I do--then knock yourself out.) Check the rotini--if they're boiling, turn the knob to around MEDIUM or so. I'd suggest dipping into the pan and getting a few noodles out to test the texture.

When the rotini seem to be at a good texture, you can turn the knob to OFF. If the vegetables aren't boiling or don't seem soft enough, you can wait for them. Add a bit more basil to the cream sauce and keep whisking it. Once the vegetables are boiling, drain the rotini quickly and then put them back in the pan. Have butter and olive oil waiting. I would suggest two "chunks" of butter to the mix, a chunk being about a quarter of an inch in thickness. If you don't have a ruler, then use your own judgement. Same goes for the olive oil...I didn't even use a measuring device on this one. After adding your own personally preferred amounts of olive oil and butter, pour the cream sauce over it and stir it like crazy. I don't have a pasta fork so I made do with a mixing spoon. Toss the pasta until the sauce is spread evenly throughout.

Open ginger ale, apply liberally to tonsils and esophagus.

Add oregano/italian seasoning/salt/potrzebie to the pasta. If you're making a large batch (and you probably are, since these are directions for enough pasta to feed a family) then you will probably have to add a LOT of spices to make an overall difference to the flavor. If you're unsure, add a little at a time and keep taste-testing until it's a flavor you like.

Heat garlic bread in microwave or pan for a little while to get it nice and hot. Get another ginger ale. Collapse on futon to enjoy the triumph of one's culinations.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

And poor Ben, whom I mentioned earlier. My heart's been battered and bruised over the years--but his is being broken right now. And there's fuck-all I can do. I left a bag of candy bars and a note on his door the other day. I just wish there was a way to reach out to him right now--even though I really don't have any comprehension of what he's going through.
Hold him in the light (as the Quakers would say).

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Went over to Spotswood last night to pester Sasha. We made spaghetti at 3 AM. It actually turned out really well...I was proud of myself. It's interesting; I've had an interest in learning how to cook for some time, but I was always too--nervous, I guess. Too edgy to experiment and possibly fail at making something. And God knows everyone makes mistakes cooking at some point or another.
But it seems sometimes that when I'm around Sasha my fears become somewhat diminished. She laughs at them, but kindly--not in a "don't be such a coward" way, but, in a way that says (as she does) "You amuse me and I like you because of/in spite of your quirks." And having someone to laugh with you at your fears helps to take the edge of them.
So I whipped up a batch of spaghetti out of the stuff they had lying around in the cabinets. Olive oil, garlic salt, butter, Prego--voila, I had myself a post-midnight snack.

Only got about six hours sleep, and I was a bit concerned about how that would affect my presentation, but it didn't really matter. I knew in the long run this brief wouldn't make much of a difference, but I still detest speaking in front of other people. At least Capt. Mensch liked what I had to say. To the extent that he interrupted me every other sentence to add something or give a personal anecdote.

The past day, two days, week or two, I've been thinking about the surety of things and whether I'm certain about what I want. I've been thinking that passion is a really flawed way to approach romance. It's superficial and energy-consuming and it's blinding. Passion doesn't know any reason. It glosses over flaws and imperfections, choosing instead to see only the good in a person rather than the interactions between a person's faults and strengths. I mean, if I'm going to wake up next to the same person for 50+ years, I don't want it to be passionate relationship. That would wear me out emotionally after about a year. Passion is as easily destructive as it is constructive; but the calm, enduring love that I have yet to see is the strong rock upon which to build a life together.
Or maybe I'm trying to build up my hopes yet again. Everybody's got their drug. Mine is either caffeine or idealism, I can't tell which.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The longtime girlfriend of one of my Taliaferro friends just broke up with him. They've been going out...phew, three years now. So please keep him in your thoughts. He's a really good guy and it's completely thrown him for a loop. We're all kind of rallying around him to make sure he gets through it okay.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Today I got up at noon. For those of you who know me well, you will realize with some shock that this is anywhere from one to three hours ahead of schedule for me. After lunch with Sasha I did my homework while listening to a Guster album, resolved some differences with Hank about use of the futon (civilly, I might add--I apologized and Hank was a perfect gentleman about the whole thing), arranged a phone interview with Col. Hank's Dad pertaining to my MiliSci presentation, got dinner and watched Aqua Teens while waiting for my laundry to finish, went with Hank and Alan to Wawa, and folded my laundry and neatly put it away.
So why do I feel that I've been so unproductive today? What am I guilty about?

Maybe I'm just nervous about that damn presentation. Captain Mensch tore the last group to shreds and they had a really good presentation. He's a good guy, but he can really pummel you when he's in the mood. For instance, my good friend Steve Draheim was giving his presentation thusly:

Draheim: So we see that...
CPT Mensch: Wait a minute. Rewind to that last slide. [Cdt. Purser does so] What's that weapons system that the Marine on the right is holding?
Draheim: Ah, that's an AT-4, Sir.
CPT Mensch: And what kind of gun is that soldier holding?
Draheim: A .50-cal, Sir.
CPT Mensch: Okay. Keep going.

I mean, if this were MLSC 401 I could see being that hard on a guy. But MiliSci 102? The thing is, Draheim is one of the more capable guys in our class. You think Mensch would pick on a loser like Gopon. Or maybe he sees more potential in Draheim and wants to put him through the wringer to make sure that Draheim achieves said potential.
At any rate, as Sasha and I agreed last night, it sucks royally for Draheim and isn't what he deserves. He's a really good guy and I hate to see him like that. Especially since I know I'd probably cave under fire like that from a superior...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Oh yeah. Let's hear it for playing guitar. Spent the evening in the lounge practicing and pretty soon a bunch of people (mostly girls) came over. They had been having a birthday party for one of the guys on the other end of the hall and the ones that weren't getting drunk stayed to listen to me. The ones who were drunk (or getting there) wandered off eventually.
Oh, and the awkward moment of the year...having two people sitting next to you on the couch start making out while you're in the middle of a song. What do you do? Keep playing? Smile and roll your eyes at the people around you? Stop the song and whack the making-outers?
When I finished, the guy (either hammered or really, really, stupid, or both) said, "Play somethin'. We'll make out to anything you play."
Me: "Gee. I can't tell if that's an offer...or a threat."

But yeah. It just goes to show that women love a guy who can play guitar, even if his verbal skills when not singing are rivaled by those of a guy with a mouth full of bread crumbs.
(Really, you should hear me when I'm around a group of girls that aren't my good friends. My diction and enunciation get shot to hell. I sound like a cross between Elmer Pig, Daffy Duck, and Bill the Cat. Ackk thppth.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005



Monday, February 14, 2005

Today was rainy. Rainy and cold. I woke up late for Physics and had a test in Chemistry (that I was prepared for, thank God, but still, tests don't rate high on my list of things to do on V-Day). Now I'm sitting in the Grind while my roommate is in 108 with his girlfriend, with coffee all over my lap from where I spilled it in surprise after burning my tongue on firey mocha.
I'm not superstitious, but I think Cupid has it out for those who don't respect him.

Can we please fast forward to spring?

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Military Ball

I decided earlier this week that instead of paying $10-13 for a ticket to a dance for which I didn't have a definite date, I was going to a dance that I wouldn't have to pay anything to get into and for which I had a definite--and somewhat eager--date. As the title would suggest, this dance was the Willim and & Mary Revolutionary Guard Battalion's Military Ball at Fort Eustis. How did it go, you ask...?

A bunch of female cadets decided to embarass Major Caughley (left) and Master Sergeant Beemer. A bunch of people begged me to put this picture up, so here it is.
(Note: the other three pictures are of me and my date Sasha. The officer in the middle picture is our MLSC102 professor, Captain Mensch.)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


I realize I'm going to get a lot of "I-told-you-so" from a certain person about this post. I know who you are, you know who you are--just assume I've already done my "Yes, you were absolutely right" speech so we can get to the important stuff.
For a long time I've approached life from a position that basically regarded every problem as a code to be cracked. There has been a history in my family of codebreakers, analysists, and so forth, so it's probably environmental as well as implicit in my character, but it can wreak havoc on your life if you're not careful. Approach a math test as a code to be broken and you might get an A. Approach a professor as a code to be broken and they might come away with the impression that you're a self-serving, slimy, jerk. At any rate...the way this applied to the past years in my life has been thus:

I. Fear

"Fear is the mind-killer," as the line from Dune goes. Fear will short-circuit your dreams faster than anything else. Fear is what keeps the inventive mind from doing something, and pushes them into a mold of merely being someone. I operated from a standpoint that if I didn't try too hard and didn't make too big of a splash, no one would notice me and I wouldn't get hurt too badly. This also translates into getting lost between the shadows and the dreams. Living life in a gray twilight will hurt you more than getting your legs cut out from under you in the long run.
Analogue: "There may be a Holy Grail out there, but I might get killed looking for it."

II. Curiosity

Something eventually happens that defeats--but does not vanquish--the fear. For me, it was the proverbial blank slate of college that broke me out of myself and made me want to be around other people. I made a decision that I was going to make an effort to find people that liked me and wanted to be around me, and whom I wanted to be around. I was coming out of my shell. However--and this is somewhat crucial--I was still contained by the shell. I was merely not confined by it. The curious person usually has a belief that there is something he is looking for or that he must find, and that doing so is the endpoint of a phase. Subconsciously, he is looking for something to define a new epoch in his life--a point at which he can say "Things are changing" and understand what is changing.
Analogue: "There is a Holy Grail out there, and once I find it I can stop looking for fulfillment."

Now comes the final part. Though to restrict it by using words like "part" or "phase" or "level" or "final" really doesn't do it justice. It is a general area of awareness that is ongoing, and it requires a tremendous amount of dedication. It is:

III-infinite. Breakout

The person not only discards their shell, they smash it and reconstitute a new way of thinking from the shards. They rebuild their perception to suit the environment, instead of attempting to change the environment to suit their point of view. This may seem like a reactive move, but in reality it is extremely freeing. People who are limited by their perceptions will only be able to see what they want to see. People who have adapted their perceptions to meet the situation will be able to see what is, what has gone before, and what can and will happen. They play the game, forcing it to adhere to their rules. The game no longer plays them. This ties into the idea of virtue being its own reward. Working for your environment or for someone else implies that you expect compensation, rewards, or attention. Working for yourself implies that you are doing what you love because you love it; that, in essence, you are a self-refueling engine, a perpetual motion machine. By refusing to break the code, by changing your code instead, you have rendered the code--and the attached problem--irrelevant, leaving it to suck your dust and wonder what the hell hit it. You have broken the problem's OODA loop.
Analogue: "There is no Holy Grail--but that doesn't mean I should stop looking for it."

Friday, February 04, 2005

One of my dad's friends once posited a theory that one cannot experience panic within a submarine, as panic is only possible in a place where there is a possible or at least an imagined escape route. Because there is no escape from a submarine, he explained, there is no true thing as panic when one is fully submerged.
Which ties in nicely with a theory I came up with, that the elimination of the fear of death brings perfect freedom. The opposite of perfect freedom, I believe, is perfect fear; for nothing is so restricting as fear. Most negative emotions are complex expressions of fear. Anger is fear expressed in an agressive and explosive way that is either defensive or offensive, depending on the cause of the passion; envy is fear that someone may have more than you; cynicism is the fear borne of the realization that the world isn't perfect; sadness is the fear that one might not be happy again for some time. So the more one refuses to let fear rule their actions, the freer they are in so many other regards. There is a freedom from anger and stress, a freedom from reactiveness and tension...a freedom from one's own demons.
So why am I writing about this? Because fear is what I struggle with every day. It is my irrationality. My fear that I will die alone, that I will make a fool of myself, that I won't get enough credits to graduate, that my friends don't really like me that much...I could go on. But the panic sets in when I start to think or imagine that an escape route possible, "if I only do [x]." Panic is the feeling born of desperate and forlorn hope that somebody or something besides ourselves can fix us and make us feel better. (The realization that that one person/thing doesn't exist can lead to despair, resignation, or determination.)
So I can tell when I'm being ruled by my fear. I still, however, have no power over this affect, as Spinoza would say. I am in bondage to the more primal aspects of myself; and sometimes I start to think that my analysis and introspection only makes it worse. But fear and overanalysis are two main parts of my can I free myself from their grasp?
So yeah...last night/this morning.

I had been waiting for this girl I met recently (at a College Republican's meeting) to get online. She had told me after I suggested going out to take pictures of the snow that she wouldn't be back until after 9, so I waited around and did various stuff--I don't have much to do on a Thursday night anyway. So eventually 12:00 rolled around and she IM'ed, apologizing for not getting back to me earlier; she'd been out dancing much later than she had expected. I jokingly suggested some kind of midnight adventure, something involving hot chocolate and me playing my RA's guitar. I can't remember, but I'm pretty it was me that suggested a serenade, and she coyly went back and forth between the oh-no-don't-you-dare and oh-well-why-not stages, until finally I told her I had to get up fairly early. At which point she teasingly called me a quitter.

I told her that just for that, I was coming over to her dorm and was going to yell her name until I found her window (which is what I had suggested doing earlier). She still didn't believe me, even as I was walking out the door with Mark's guitar. I dashed across the street to Spotswood and walked around it once, calling out until she opened the window of her neighbor's room. She was pretty well gobsmacked--I don't think she expected anyone to come out on a freezing night at 1 AM to play the guitar under her window. Her neighbor, however, was very enthusiastic and urged me on, and I played "Wish You Were Here"--the first time I think I've ever played in the snow.
After which the girl invited me in for hot chocolate and I played her another song in Spotswood lounge. It was a nice time, and I honestly don't think anything could make me regret it. Right before I had left my dorm, I thought to myself,

"When I'm 80, I'll either regret not doing this or I'll look back on this with fondness. There's only a certain amount of time I get to do nonsense like this--I might as well take the chance that's given to me and sing the damn song."

So yeah. I've got more guts than I usually give myself credit for. (And more guitar playing skills than I usually give myself credit for, too.)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

This is what happens when a snowflake falls in front of a camera with the flash on.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Squalor...or just Male College Life?

I like this picture not in spite of the fact that my room looks like Hell on a Monday, or that Danny and Hank are sprawled in such slothful and indolent positions, but because of those facts. Messiness, disorder, and general unloveliness are the hallmarks of male college life. Girls tidy up their rooms every week, do laundry, vacuum, sweep, whatever--I shake my rug out every so often and vacuum when the dust kittens have evolved into full grown dust panthers. Plus, there's the "coffee table" up on cinderblocks, which is so incredibly College Kid chic that if you don't get it, I can't explain it to you.
So yeah, if you were thinking of commenting something along the lines of "GEE WHAT A DISGUSTING ROOM!!!!1 LOLZ" then sorry I beat you to the punch. You're going to have to come up with something more original.
Time for another one of Will's Ten-Minute-Reviews-Before-He-Runs-All-The-Way-To-Class. This one is Five Alive!, a live album with recordings by no other than...

Carbon Leaf!! The best Celtic/Folk group I've heard in a long time (out of Richmond, VA, no less!). My dad should take note: they do live versions of both "Toy Soldiers" and "Maybe Today," which they claimed didn't always make good live tunes. However, the crowd seems to love them anyway. Maybe they should try those two more often.
They also do an amazing cover of Black Sabbath's "Crazy Train," likely the only cover with a mandonlin accompaniment. Barry Privett's voice to me is a lot more attractive than Ozzie's, so this song has a lot going for it.
I haven't listened to the entire album yet, but "The Boxer"--their big hit and the first song of theirs I ever heard--sounds as awesome live on this album as it did when they played it in Charlottesville. So, in closing, if you like Irish/Folk/acoustic covers of metal songs, buy this album! Hell, buy it anyway...expand your horizons.