Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Highlights from New York

One fine day over the summer, I went to New York. I met up with Dave and wandered Central Park. The main goal was to photography the Central Park Carousel for when I teach Catcher in the Rye later this year. It was somewhat successful. The sunsets are the end are from when I got stuck going over the Oceanic Bridge. I had the top down on my Jeep and stood to take them. If you want any copies sent your way, let me know. For some reason, you can't click to see a larger image.
These shots are blurry on purpose to represent Holden's confusion.
This is where Tom Cruise lived in Vanilla Sky.
This one reminds me a ninteenth century France.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Oldie but Goodie, Vol. 5

Note: I cannot, for the life of me, remember who this poem is about.  

On A Pretty Little Thing,

        or An Affirmation


You know the one-

She's what you keep your eye on

During the boring lecture.

There's no reason for you to speak

Nor is there a reason for

A poem that is vaguely about her.

But Mr. Bloom says, "Hurry with the kidney,

Butcher!  I need to watch her walk."


She puts on her coat, sticking her

Petite breasts into the air,

Adulating form while decrying reason

Only to make you look down,

Stuck under your Puritan Shame

And the well-worn yoke of duty.


It is innocent and would never happen

And the attraction is only fleeting

But she is so damn cute and

You are so damn in love with your own

Pretty little thing.



Thursday, September 25, 2008

Song of the Week

This week's song come courtesy of Joe.  Also, this band has become one of my new favorites in the past 48 hours.  The lead singer of The National has such a deep, powerful, soulful voice.  He is able to get across so many emotions by sort of just... speaking his lyrics.  
   The first time I heard this I was instantly reminded of Vanilla Sky.  Yes, Tom Cruise is in it.  Yes, it is a fantastic movie.  Please, please, please see this movie.  I'm sure Pete will agree with me on this point; it is a visually stunning film.  The director, Cameron Crowe, says in "Prelude to a Dream" that the film is like a puzzle, with each shot, each line, meaning something and it is up to the viewer to catch it all and put the pieces together.  
   This is like "Fake Empire."  What the hell is this song about?  I went and looked it up (thanks internet!).  Is it about America, the obvious answer?  Is it about being lost in the early stages of love as some message boarders find evidence for?  The author, Matt Berninger, seems to be wishy on the meaning himself.  "Some of the imagery is obviously iconically American; apple pies, lemonade, etc. But a lot of it is fairytale imagery like bluebirds and diamond slippers. The idea was to create a surreal, “fake” atmosphere/environment as a means of escaping reality. I don’t really think of it as a political song but I can’t deny that there are political undertones to it" (Carr for Paper Thin Walls).  Interesting.  And I'm in love with this song.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


This baffles me. Has Mr. Bush forgotten the war he started a few years ago? How is Russia not justified in securing Georgia? If a country feels threatened then, according to Mr. Bush, doe it not have the right to neutralize that threat before it become a problem? I might be off in my analysis here but it just doesn't look like this is getting the attention it deserves.

In addition to the quote below (I can't figure out how to get it out of blockquote-format after), please view this article about the Russian Navy and Venezuela. Old "Cold War proxy battles" with the United States? Just because Russia used to be communist and Venezuela, along with the rest of Latin America, are currently swinging Marxist, do we have to denigrate ourselves by using such terms? Yes, America is on a steady track toward losing its world superpower status, but the power vacuum should be filled with an international governing body rather than a single country. And, if we look at history, power vacuums only lead to more struggle. Great.

Mr. Bush’s focus on the economy was relatively brief. While leaders
including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran looked on, Mr.
Bush reprised familiar themes, issuing broad criticisms of countries such as
Myanmar, Iran and North Korea. He said there was still a sharp difference
between countries who supported freedom and those who repressed their citizens
or sponsored terrorism, and he issued a sharp rebuff of Russia for its military
invasion of Georgia last month, saying it had violated the United Nations

-"At U.N., Bush Reassures Leaders on Economy,"
Steven Lee Myers and Graham Bowley
The New York Times
September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oldie but Goodie, Vol. 4

Doug just requested this one. It's kind of my college magnum opus. I read this at a college reading and all my friends where there and that's the first time I really felt like a million bucks.

Note: This has remained largely unedited since the day I wrote it; it has errors abound.

"Running in Place"

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. –H.P. Lovecraft

I know a dangerous secret that they don't tell you growing up.

No one wants you to know it, not your teachers and especially not your parents, but there are people out there who are smarter than you. And of course you never find this out until you get to college and they're all in your same class and your high school stardom means nothing anymore when juxtaposed to the most brilliant minds the world can muster.

When people ask me what I'm studying I like to say that my major is Piracy, when they ask what courses I say "Swashbuckling 201", "Cartography 324", and "Methods in Treasure Burying 499". Then they look at me weird and I laugh and say that I'm an English major, matey, but that's just a cover. Truth is I'm really studying in laziness and getting my B.A. in bullshit.

My teacher told me a story just before I laid down for my second nap and it was circling in my head, preventing me from reaching the state of restful sleep I needed to make it through the day. I had a diner dinner date in a little and this mental tossing around wasn't helping. He told us about these little people who live in Indonesia or someplace like that who have these miserable lives and they can't do anything about it because the government doesn't let them and America sucks. Why this was keeping me up I don't think I'll ever know, but the paper that was due in three days on the subject might have had something to do with it. I got up from the bed, tired with being tired and not being able to do anything about it.

My roommate laughed at me as I took the books off the shelf, the dust from their covers filling the light from the desk lamp in the way you see snow falling against a streetlight. I started to write. He had a terrible sense of humor for an art major but when our collective creative juices were flowing we were a force to be reckoned with and we put a good many people in their place. We knew that we were better then them, or at least that's what we told ourselves. We knew that we had a future ahead of us, somewhere, whether it was computer graphics, novel writing, or serving French fries at the diner.

* * * *

The diner was a special place where I took people who I really cared about. It was an escape into a movie, the low hanging chandeliers made of cheap plastic and the tableside jukeboxes never working. But the food was amazing and the waitresses lovely in that down-and-out failure sort of way. I loved them for their perseverance and terrible eye shadow, the excessive rouge on their cheeks getting caught up in their wrinkly face as they smiled at me when I asked for more coffee and a slice of apple pie. They were the epitome of perseverance. It was nice to think about them at home, leading mundane lives with a dead-beat husband and fifteen children running about screaming at each other. It was nice to know that you helped them out with the five dollar tip you left, maybe the kids could get something to eat this week or maybe the abusive dad would get drunk again and add to the brood. Either way, you felt bad for the waitress, even if it was only you imagination playing around. But that's what we do to make ourselves feel better. For all we know, they might be the happiest people on the planet and we're sitting there getting served our grilled cheese feeling sorry not really for them but for ourselves. I love the diner.

* * * *

I was sitting down with an old girlfriend and we were talking about collegiate paper writing and the inherent differences between it, high school level papers, and the upcoming work on a short novella that all writers were destined to pen, the "great American novel" in not so many words. Our stories of survival on the mean streets of suburbia and how we had to fight the constant onslaught of boredom in order to keep our sanity intact, chronicled in a single paperback volume. She said:

"You know what I hate the most about college? Overachievers."

"Oh really? Like those girls who are all pretty with their blonde hair and attractive curves that write fifteen-page-eight-to-ten-page papers and nod and laugh at everything the professor says?"

"That's them."

"Me too."

She then went into how God hates overachievers too and there's no way that they were going to get into Heaven so they should just stop trying now.

"I mean really," she said, "Look at God. He's an underachiever Himself. He did like what, one thing a day? Then He took an entire day off? If He really wanted things to be good He'd have put in that extra day, done a little overtime. Existence is God's senior thesis that he started the night before it was due."

I thought about that for a minute and realized that there was a lot of suffering in the world and that she was right, spot on. He messed up big time, if He even cared at all anymore.

"I have to write a paper about these people in Indonesia or someplace like that who have these miserable…." I went on telling her about this stupid project I didn't care about but my mind was still caught up with suffering and grilled cheese.

* * * *

I got an email from Ibn Mohammed al Farhid asking for help on behalf of his cousin, who was taken prisoner by African mercenaries. He offered me stock in his growing computer software company if I sent him one hundred thousand American dollars and my social security number, in order that he could pay the ransom on his cousin. It came from the same guy who told me that I had won the Irish National Lottery the week before and that he needed my social security number to access my account and transfer the money in.

I felt real empathy for Ibn Mohammed al Farhid and his poor cousin, but more so for the African kidnappers. What could possibly have been so bad that they needed to go from the Sudan all the way to Abu Dhabi and kidnap a poor fourteen-year old girl? Why didn't they just ask for help, I'm sure they would have gotten it, eventually. Then I realized that this was just their cry for help. Ibn Mohammed al Farhid didn't really have a cousin who was kidnapped, but he did have a family to feed and this was how he was doing it, by trying to extort money from me, a distant relative (or so the letter said). Everyone needs to get by somehow. Poor Ibn Mohammed al Farhid, I feel for you in your fallacy, your poor attempt to make me send you money has failed, though you have gained a friend. "Good luck with the kids and I hope your cousin is safe somewhere in the Upper Transvaal or on the shores of Lake Victoria," I sent him in a reply mail, with a made up social security number but no money.

I like to think that maybe she escaped from the kidnappers, Ibn, maybe she's free and roaming the African countryside right now, making her way home and into your waiting arms, expecting a lovely dinner. Maybe she's hiding out from lions and dodging poachers, afraid that the truck with all its flashbulbs snapping like lightening is not a rich wasp family on safari but rather the kidnappers in hot pursuit of their quarry. Run, cousin, run from your salvation! It's not worth going home anyway.

* * * *

The bill came to the table from our beautiful waitress and we left an ample tip, feeling sorry for her. She was nice and I had wanted to know more about her, who her family was, if she was married, where she grew up, stuff like that. I never learned it. We paid the bill at the cashier and got in the car, driving the five minutes in the cold early December night. It was understood that we would not be spending the evening alone.

"So what do you want to do when we get back? I think I have some liquor left over if you're interested," she said, reflecting about last night's extravagancies. "We could break open the bottle of wine my father gave me."

We were twenty so we had to be saddled with what was purchased for us from the old generations who had been here before. The mention of her father made me think that my own father hadn't called in a while and I always worry when he doesn't call. Mom could be expected to and also be expected to talk for hours but if she never handed the phone over to Dad I just didn't know. I wanted to call him right there, my provider. It was almost a sense of duty to the clan that made me have the urge, a pack mentality that I needed to talk to him, something was wrong or he had to tell me something. I told myself that and I believed it.

The smell of Mom's cooking came into my nostrils but it was really the heat from the car being brought up, that warm delightful scent of subtle burning. I hadn't had Mom's cooking in a long time it seemed and I got tremendously homesick. Bah who was I kidding. I hated going home.

"Yeah I'm down for whatever. Let's go back to your house, you know, watch TV, pass out, et cetera. I miss hanging out with you anyway."

* * * *

One of my favorite pastimes is watching horses and lions run at top speed in slow motion on television. I never miss a good episode of Wild Discovery. The way the muscles move in such patterns and shapes is fantastically interesting. It's like they're trying really hard to get somewhere but they go so slow that they never really reach their destination. The rippling flesh pulled taut over the bulging, heavily taxed and toned shoulders, the strong thighs pumping in pursuit or flight. It was beautiful, this encapsulated and quarantined fury of nature. Sometimes, on the shows about lions and cheetahs or tigers, they would catch something unsuspecting like a sick water buffalo or an antelope fawn and there would be a burst of dirt to cover the slaughter which settled about a scene of grotesque beauty - dirt mixed with sweat and blood mixed with fear and triumph and death. If you look real close, you can see Heaven, or at least wherever it is that you go when you kick the bucket, in the eyes of the wildebeest as the lioness' massive jaws squeeze ever tighter around its throat. I'm sure that the same look comes over a guy who trips and falls off his roof hanging Christmas lights and slams his head on the driveway, Heaven and light and red-brown blood. It's always red-brown blood.

* * * *

That night we got drunk and reveled in God's D paper.

* * * *

My hands smelt of latex as the potential children fell from them, sealed in their sheath, into the garbage. The decaying corpse of a Catholic inside me cried while the pragmatist guffawed at God, who didn't seem to care too much, he knew I couldn't care for a child now and he also knew what it was like to be filled with lust and desire. After all, he had humor enough to create hope.

I thought about how I needed to call my father who I hadn't talked to in a long, long time. I needed to know if he at least still cared.

She fell back into the sea of ruined and soiled sheets, our own private pool of youth. Her eyes caught mine briefly as they steadily closed, her will to wake diminishing in the late morning as nap time inched up. I got dressed. My paper was due, regardless of it's half-finished status, and the poor people from Indonesia who would never see the light of an enforced democracy began to rejoice on the other side of the world, content with their fate, their eyes wide in wonder and amazement as they closed shop. I knew of who they were now, but the rest of the world took no notice of them.

Somewhere, a zebra was being eaten by a Middle Eastern girl who had come to live with a pride of lions.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Song of the Week

This has been a nuts week so far.  I broke my nose Tuesday night at practice, went to the nose doctor Thursday, and have been just a general bum since.  Sorry.  But because no one reads this anyway, my guilt at not posting a Song of the Week on Thursday is wasted.

Anyway, I found this song a week or so ago while trying to relive lost summer moments.  I have only recently made up my mind about the summer jam "American Boy."  I like it.  When I like something, I tend to find out more and went hunting Estelle songs.  Then I found this gem (like jam, but better).  The silky motown beat and vocals are a welcome change to some harsher hip hop charts to come out this summer.  I hope this song makes it; it certainly has potential.  

A sense of "motown revivalism" is not necessarily a new thing.  Amy Winehouse tried it on a few of her songs but, and I am going to be candid here, I fucking hate Amy Winehouse.  I do not care about her doing coke on stage, she is a complete mess, and the media needs to let fade away so we don't have to glorify her crackwhore lifestyle anymore; the more publicity she gets, the cooler she becomes to kids.  And she sucks.  "Rehab" was overplayed and just annoying.  

But this is not about how I detest Winehouse; rather this is about my new-found love for Estelle.  Keep up the good work lady and keep bringing those sly British beats to this side of the Pond.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Beautiful Little Fools

So we've started reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby in my junior Modern American Lit class.

So I've started watching Gossip Girl (purely as a social experiment).

And I've noticed parallels.  

What is Gossip Girl except a modernized version of Gatsby?  Think about it for a second.  In one we find self-obsessed rich people who are involved in destructive love triangles, entangled in financial scandal, and possess a complete neglect for "the rest of us" who are not old money.  In the other, we have adults.  To our grandparents, the events in Gatsby, namely sex, drinking (gosh!), murder, etc., were perpetrated by an upper crust which, through hard work and self-sacrifice, perhaps their children could join.  To today's youth (I set myself outside of this demographic for reason to be explained), we see the rich on Gossip Girl or The Hills as something we wish we were; totally aloof and apart, without cares, drives, or needs.

This is incongruous.  Not to our grandparents, they were not yet burned out with trying to get to their dreams; rather, the youth of today who frequent these shows as escape are the very people the characters denounce.  In one scene from Gossip Girl, one of the attractive brunettes who was trying to woo a British lord (long story) throws a party in which she ridicules her "help" for assembling a sub-par guest list.  What viewers love is the flippant foppishness with which Blair (I think) dismisses her more-than-apologetic housekeeper.  First of all, she is supposed to be eighteen.  What the hell does she need a housekeeper for?  What does she need her own apartment for (the answer to this comes later, promise)?  More importantly, how does she treat people like such scum?  I am sure we all realize this point and are telling ourselves, as we diligently watch each week, that we "would never treat someone like that!  Who does she think she is?  If I had money I would be so nice with it and give parties and donate and whatnot."

But the dirty little secret is that you wouldn't.  I wouldn't.  We all know it.  Enter our man Gatsby.  He acquires his money for the soul purpose of winning over his life love, Daisy Buchanan.  Gatsby throws party after party in the hopes that one day she will come over, see him, and they would run of together and make a million babies.  Gatsby throws money away like there is no tomorrow and he does so with such an attitude of success that it leaves a bitter feeling in the reader about his secret passion.  Is it really love he feels for Daisy or is it desire?  Has Gatsby become more obsessed with his obsession then with his aim?  Either way, Gatsby gets what he wants.  Great.  But what about Daisy's husband?

Tom Buchanan is the Blair character of Gatsby; he does what he wants and damns the consequences.  He has a mistress with whom he shares an apartment and a dog in New York.  She calls him at home during dinner.  He takes her out, in public , and is not ashamed to flirt with other women.  Tom has his mistress' husband pump his gas.  They even have friendly conversation while Tom's tank is being filled.  This is the ultimate insult, his Blair-du-grĂ¢ce, if you will.  

If you keep drawing out Gatsby, you can almost see Blair being a descendant of Tom.  This is why Blair has (and needs) her own apartment; Tom couldn't possibly care for a child.  And yet he has one.  Daisy is the only character (apart from Nick Carraway the narrator) who takes pity on the young thing.  Daisy sees her future in a way and wishes the baby to grow up a, "beautiful little fool."  Why?  Fools do not feel.  The baby will not, unlike Daisy, realize the futility of her marriage, of her life.  Daisy, at the start of the book, has already given up.  Yet she drives on.  Literally.

What is it that makes people read and watch?  We love to see characters treat each other like dirt.  If we entertain to be removed, then what could be more removed than doing something so social unacceptable as being rich?  We live in a world today where there are so many expectations placed on people with wealth that to see them not live up to what we want is truly a treat.  It shows us that they too are people, that they too have faults.  But who cares about their faults?  They're rich and, as long as we're striving for honesty, money can buy you happiness.  

Earlier I removed myself from my the regular viewers of Gossip Girls.  At the start of Gatsby, Carraway says that he can only describe these events to us because he is removed from the type of people the novel is about; Nick is not from the Hamptons and is mearly visiting for the summer.  Similarly, I like to think I am only visiting the world of Gossip Girl for the time being, preforming "research" into the mind of the modern youth to better educate my classes (which I know is a lie and will likely watch in secret every week).  But if The OC was an indication, this show will only stay strong for two seasons, stretching to make it past four with such convoluted plot lines only a Ph. D. could follow.  And not too many Ph. D.s watch The CW.  Maybe they should, maybe we all should just force ourselves to do something so stupid that it hurts.  For me, this is watching terrible(-ly addicting) television.

Today's society is masochistic.  Chuck Klosterman blames John Cusack, Chuck Palahniuk blames credit cards, Chuck Norris blames Conan O'Brien.  But no one is ready to stop trying.  Klosterman does not give up on love; Palahniuk carries a Visa; Norris still hunts fame (only to kick its ass, mind you).  All of these guys know they are not going to find what they want right away and they know it is going to hurt to get there.  That's the American experience; "happiness" is not granted.  It is up to you to find passion, like Gatsby, in the pursuit.  Keep watching Gossip Girl and reading The Great Gatsby, always expecting to see someone being reamed over something trivial.  

Although, this is not a uniquely American obsession.  It seems to be the world over, throughout time.  Tracing mocking of the wealthy is no new thing; its just human nature to poke fun I guess.  

Whatever, I still know I have to marry for money.  Good thing I'm pretty.  

Monday, September 15, 2008

Oldie but Goodie, Vol. 3

After saving The City for the umpteenth time, Our Hero

longs for something else.


Our Hero is jostled and suddenly bewildered while

The sharp cries of a baby waft through the morning air,

An airplane pilot safely brings his charge to the ground,

The deafening whirls of chainsaws break the calm 

                 of the forest morning

            And the animals scurry and flee for their lives.


Our Hero rolls deftly and swiftly from his back to his stomach while

            Someone has an out of body experience,

            An old man can't pee,

            A woman gives birth to a baby

            And neither knows the father.


Our Hero powerfully yet alone fights against this injustice while

            The chicken soup burns a patron's mouth,

            Rings and words join two people,

            A grandmother dies alone

But the television is still playing the game show.


Our Hero painfully but steadily extends his arm while

            A drowning ship finds its way into the deep blackblue,

            Two nonplussed hikers see Bigfoot,

            The twang and bump of the bed on the floor above

            Increases in intensity and slows, stops.


Our Hero skillfully manages to find the snooze button.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Song of the Week

This week we're all about covers. From keeping the covers on our Jeeps because of crappy weather to covering our butts over the LHC to finally having to throw on the cover becuase it's getting cold at night. Now, I know a lot of people (my sister) don't like KT Tunstall, but ever since I used to have to lifeguard for the women's swim team practice (redundant, yes) at 6 in the morning during my tenure at TCNJ, I have had a soft spot for the Scottish street performer. Her song "Suddenly I See" has always reminded me of the girls chatting with each other during their 300 kicking drills or doing 1000 yard backstroke drills or whatever. KT actually records all of her beats before she starts to sing and has them programed into her footpads; where regular guitarists use the footpad for key changes, she cues her own backgrounds. This stems from her street performer days. She is just a talented individual.. And yes, it helps that she's kind of cute.

Anyway, I have also always had a soft spot for this song. I just love the intro so much. Sue me, I'm a sucker for MJ (up until "Black or White" at least). And having the whole instrumentation to back him up, priceless. Great song, great cover.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It's the End of the World as We Know It, and I Feel Fine.

Interesting that the Large Hadron Collider (which could potentially end all life as we know it by simulating the Big Bang) goes on line the same week that Spore (a video game about creating life from the start) is released.

Does anyone else see a correlation here?

Since the opening debates about the construction and potential use of this master/monster of particle physics began in 1984, no amount of conjecturing on the part of scientists should be enough to put you at ease. As I am writing this, I am fully aware that it could be the last thing that I do before I take a shower and go to bed. I am terrified.

Yes, the world collapsing in on itself because of a man-made explosion so great that it melts the very mantle of the Earth from its foundations is a little far fetched, to say the least; however, this is an untested, not fully understood realm of science we are breaking into here, people. We are truly treading new ground. The things we learn from this could be fantastic and answer all questions ever asked about the origins of, well, everything. Or melt your face Raiders-style.

But does that make it right to venture here? Should a handful of scientists really get the chance to kill us all? What about what you want I want? Forget me, what about what you want to do with your life? It could all end early this morning (around 3:15 EST) and you would never know, apart from the probable millisecond of rumble and screams of absolute terror that foreshadow the approach of certain, painful, burning doom.

If only we had some way of knowing, for certain, what was going to happen. I remember a Bradbury story out of my youth, found in The Illustrated Man. "The Last Night of the World." That would be peaceful, and in a sense much more comforting, than waiting to see if we all wake up in the morning.

If we don't, at least I had the opportunity to feel somewhat self-important blogging about this. It just makes everything seem so inconsequential, so useless, just thinking about what could happen after they press the start button and send those protons around the Franco-Swiss Border Roller Coaster Loop of Calamity Physics.

In the end though, I will be content with whatever happens. What I preach in school to the students is "don't let the little things get to you." And, while I may be hypocritical much of the time (as is human nature), I know that some things you just cannot do anything about.

If we do end up down in the morning, at least I'm happy on the way out.

See you tomorrow when I will be off my high horse.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Oldie but Goodie Vol. 2

Ode to T.—P.—


I sit wishing you were here with me

O! for that I would give anything!

You my dear are White and Clean, filled with

Grace, compared to my filthy desire and lust for you

Without you in my life who would explore the void?

None other could be so bold, so strong, so daring

None other could work as well as you without

Destroying under the stress, coming to a horrible end.

Often I have found myself in praise

Of your ridges, like great snow-capped peaks

And low frost-covered pains

That dot your ivory surface

As a cushiony pillow of clouds is soft

So are you

And the patterns that weave about you

Designed by your maker

Just for me.

Praise be to your creator, He had great vision!

From necessity He created you

And gave you to me

And I need you

And I miss you,

My toilet paper dear.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

So this one time...

I took a course in college called "Women in American History."  I was grossly outnumbered, being one of three guys in the class.  On the first day the professor, who was also the only man-hating lesbian in the Women and Gender Studies faculty, asked who was a feminist.  Nearly every hand in the room shot up, including the two other boys who where obviously so shit-scared by the question.  Along with a few other ladies, my hand stayed on my desk.  

"Mr. Russoniello," she asked (we had name tags), "why is it that you are not a feminist?"

"A few reasons, I suppose.  If you mean, 'Are you in favor of placing women in a power position over men,' then I most certainly am not, because that would obviously put me at a disadvantage.  No, I am not a feminist.  I am all about equality.  I am baffled that we still do not have equal pay for equal work, that we are lacking women in major areas of political power, and that women who choose to assert themselves are seen as 'crazy.'  I am not a feminist if it means replacing one power group with another.  I just don't think gender should be an issue."

This is the point when I thought I had failed the class on the first day and was about to be publicly castrated in front of a group of co-eds.

Rather, the professor was delighted with my response.  "Mr. Russoniello, I think you get it." 


Now with McCain having chosen Sarah Palin of Alaska to his ticket, it only makes sense to jump on the blogsphere bandwagon and throw in my two, totally useless and otherwise unimportant, cents.  

I have no problem with Palin being a female candidate in the same way that I have no problem with Obama being an African-American presidential nominee.  All points aside, this will be, in my opinion, the most influential election since the first few when we were trying to work things out; after November passes, the doors to the "whited sepulcher" of 1600 Pennsylvania will no longer be barred against anything but old white men.  And this is a good thing.

Palin comes on the ticket doing a few things right for McCain.  She neutralizes the "progressive ticket" aspect of Obama's campaign by adding that little "spice" most seventy-something year-old whities just do not bring to the table.  Palin has proven herself a capable leader, having run her state in a very basic (as in strong focus) Republican manner which has seen her make policy along her party's lines.  I'm not saying she's correct in her decision making, nor am I agreeing with Republican politics, I'm merely attesting to her adherence to her party's beliefs (and I am going to leave out a zing about her daughter and teen mother program spending [thought by saying I'm leaving it out aren't I really putting it in {and isn't this an excessive use of parenthesis?}]).

My real beef with Sarah Palin has absolutely nothing to do with her having lady bits or being librarian-esqe attractive.  While I align myself with a more liberal outlook, do not for a second doubt my patriotism.  I am absolutely, head-over-heels, in love with America.  I am fascinated by the idea of the system, how it is supposed to work, and the foresight of the founding fathers to get shit done in an effective way that has remained relatively unchanged for a few hundred years.  When we come around to reading the Constitution, my heart goes all a-flutter and I get weak in the knees.  Just imagine it for a minute - each state is basically an independent country; if New Jersey wanted to, we could survive in the world all by our lonesome.  However, it is the conscious decision of the states to lay themselves before a higher law, before the federal government, that makes the whole thing work.  To me, the idea of working together for something greater than ourselves is such a powerful vision that if I could I would back in time and enlist in the Union Army just so I could have the chance to tell some Johnny Reb to step off, your states' rights crap is nuthin' but a bull.  Go build some railroads, fo'.  

My gripe with Palin lies in her courtship of the Alaska Independence Party.  For a state which will become so central to the economy of the United States in the coming decades, she has a lot of nerve to think it's OK for her leave us when we would need her.  Her state should check it's history - they were useless to the Russians and they needed money, the United States bought her because we figured the state "might have potential."  We took a gamble and found some gold out of it.  Now we need you again for oil (which I do not want to see drilled but it might become a necessity) and you think about leaving?  No card?  No phone call?  Just like that?  

Thanks Sarah.  I thought we had had some good times together.  Remember Call of the Wild?  Did you forget about Balto?  Stone Fox?  Santa Claus?  He's an American by now, right? 

The long and short of it is all you Republican voters out there need to ask yourselves if Palin, regardless of hotness, loves America enough for you.  I for one am doubting her commitment.  

Oh, I got a B in that history course because I didn't do any reading.  

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Oldie but Goodie Vol. 1

With my old Fujitsu POS computer nearly done for and my Mac Word-less, I will be keeping my writings here for the future.  This way I can have them readily available when The New Yorker does their bio puff-piece on me. 

Also, looking back on old work makes me realize how bad it really is.  Blogs are so cathartic, I see why people love to talk on the internet.  Here everyone is an authority.  I am no exception.

Sum Ergo Sum.  or The Diabolical Dialectic 

    (I haven't decided).


The Snake has had a bum rap -

    He was not evil.

He was the freest character in

   King James' Cast.

Liberating and Liberated –


Then Someone got pissed.

   (After all, what good are

'Divine Laws' if they could be

   Thrown so idly away

Without Punishment?)


A bite (yum!) and Suddenly:

  Thesis!  Antithesis!  Sin this is!

And things would never be so good

   (Or so nude) again.


What's worse than finding a worm

   In your Apple?

Realizing that someday, they will eat you

   (The other half is irrelevant).



I'm a goddammed Ezra Pound.

Song of the Week

This was the iTunes song from a few weeks ago.  It brings to mind a Killers-wannabe feel.  The video, on the other hand, is stupid.  The guy at the start with those lightsabers?  Kind of freaks me out.  Look out for that lightning!  Oh man he's a badass!  Though a short song, it is catchy and does have a nice little guitar thing going for it.  Almost Polaris-y, for those of us who remember Pete and Pete.  Wow.  That reminds me - I downloaded the entire Pete and Pete series on my computer and have not finished watching it.  What the hell is wrong with me?  That was like, totally the best show ever growing up.  Mmm... Orange Julius....  Go Wellsville Fighting Squids!

Two honorable mentions this week have been haunting me since the Sandy Hook Banquet:
Only reason these aren't the song of the week is because the videos are so gay, I have to look at boobs for a half hour and go buy some power tools after watching them just to feel like a man again.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tonight's Goal

My room needs to be straightened up.  Here is some evidence.  

I cannot possibly start the school year with my room in such disarray.  There is a saying that, "a creative mess is better than tidy idleness," but this is beyond compare.  How can I live and work in such an environment?  My writing table is all messed up, as evidenced here, and Dudley is so cramped in his little corner.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

On the Next Few Months

Today was the first day of school.  Sort of.  Today was the first day of teachers sitting around, setting up their classrooms, checking student's names against the inter-teacher database of "trouble students," and reacquainting ourselves with our friends made last year.  In our first faculty meeting of the year, we all sat together in the library.  When you put a bunch of teachers together, you'd think that the collective minds of academia would have nothing to discuss but the newest works of master authors or the area of circles; but no.  when you put teachers together, you get high school with bigger people.  Everyone has their own little clicks, their own inside jokes, their own things to do.  There are the overbearing teachers, the overachieving teachers, the overeating teachers, the cool teachers, and it goes on.  But we all share one common fallacy: we all think that we are about to embark on some kind of learning experience where the students are ready, eager, and willing to gobble up everything that we say, to leave our rooms each day beaming with contentment at having learned.  

Then you realize that's all bullshit.  No one actually cares what you have to say and all your passions have been wasted on kids more obsessed with skateboards than Shakespeare.  You really can't help but laugh; they are just in love with themselves.  They're teenagers.  There is so much that they'll be missing.  

Still, there is something bittersweet about leaving behind such an excellent summer.  This has, honestly, been one of the best summers (even if it did take until the last two weeks to achieve that status).  And I, like so many others, do not feel ready to let it go.  Yesterday as I was walking up North Beach to the shack for a lunchtime nap, there was a feeling that the summer was, in fact, finally closing out.  When I came back in an hour, there was nothing but sad oldies in the WCBS-FM 101.1 Top 500 Listener-Voted Memorial Day Countdown.  "Glory Days."  "Let It Be."  "American Pie."  It was an utterly depressing two hours.  I worked out on the beach for the last time on my afternoon break.  A little jog, some sit-ups, a push-up set.  My heart just wasn't in it.  When I came back to the stand, put my belt on for the last time, I had a feeling of moving on.  Turning in that same belt at the end of the day, seeing everyone together as guards for the last time.  It was hard this year.  Yes, I'll be working weekends, but that's not the same.  It's skeleton crew.  

 On the ride home yesterday, listening to some songs from the slideshow, it all melted away.  I thought about today, about being in the library at school and seeing all familiar faces, the challenges to face, the faces of the students' half asleep Thursday morning, and it came together.  This is not going to be a problem.  You can do this.