Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Raconteurs and The Real Definition of Torture: Why I Found Myself Loathing the American Political System After a Morning of Reading Chomsky.

It's begun to snow again. What a shame. Monday it was quite warm, nearly 60 degrees. The following day, Tuesday, within the early hours of the morning there was a dramatic drop to make an entire afternoon composed of blizzardy winds, snow, and temperatures of around 15 degrees. Walking from building to building, my eyeglasses iced over, and my hair got matted down wet and iced from the snow. Yesterday it was okay, however, today the snow had begun to fall yet again. Therefore, I am stuck indoors today, listening to The Raconteurs. I don't really have a reason for putting them on, but they seem to be fitting . . . I guess. I'm actually not a big fan, or really any sort of a fan, of Jack White, but I'm forgoing that at this point, because I like Brendan Benson enough forgo it.

I'm still working on the Noam Chomsky book. I'm only a fourth of the way through, and it seems like I'm not making any progress. Once I got about thirty pages in it stopped making want to fall asleep and instead began to make me slightly angry. At that point he was pointing out that the legal advisers of Bush sent him a memo noting to him the legal definition of torture, so as the administration could use that little factotum as a defense legally to ward off claims and charges under the international law set by the Geneva Convention regarding war crimes and torture.

It states, "In 2002, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales passed on to Bush a memorandum on torture by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. As noted by constitutional scholar Sanford Levinson: "According to the OLC, 'acts must be of an extreme nature to rise to the level of torture. . . . Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.'" Levinson goes on to say that in the view of Jay Bybee, then head of the OLC, "The infliction of anything less intense than such extreme pain would not, technically speaking, be torture at all. It would merely be inhuman and degrading treatment, a subject of little and apparent concern to the Bush administration's lawyers."

The text goes on to the further state that Mr. Gonzales advised the President to rescind the Geneva Conventions as to "substantially reduce the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act." Chomsky then goes on the broaden that the US called for the adoption of this more "interrogator-friendly" definition of the term so they could "justify the torture of detainees in Guantanamo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and elsewhere as well, it appears."

Furthermore, when I began to read that the Bush administration's 'tactful' legal advice from Gonzales was proven sound, due to the cause that in November 2004 they began a campaign with a preliminary bombing with the intent of driving out all but the adult male population out of Falluja. The text goes on to say: "While the preliminary bombing was under way, Iraqi journalist Nermeen al-Mufti reported from 'the city of minarets [which] once echoed the Euphrates in its beauty and calm [with its] plentiful water and lush greenery . . . a summer resort for Iraqis [where people went for] leisure, for a swim at the nearby Habbaniya lake, for a kebab meal.' She described the fates of these bombing attacks in which sometimes whole families, including pregnant women and babies, unable to flee, along with many others, were killed because the attackers who ordered their flight had cordoned of the city, closing the exit roads."

It goes on and on and on. I could go on and on and on. I suppose it is upon reading such things that I lose faith in the government, the administration, those that violate and manipulate law to prove and become to the benefit of their own unjust causes. In addition, I guess, if everybody read people like Chomsky, or even watched his lectures that on film if they're not into reading, everybody would realize their strong-seated ignorance to support a political cause for the reason of one being labeled "Democrat" or "Republican." Either party is as twisted as the other and neither deserve to have a place in the high office.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sleater-Kinney, Noam Chomsky, and a Dozen Baked Goods: Why I Found Myself Awake at Three A.M. Popping Roasted Chicken Out of My Oven.

This weekend I have found myself in one of those, angry girl moods, and therefore decided to satisfy my repression by turning the music on Sleater-Kinney because . . . well, they fit the mood. I've also been having problems with my sleep patterns lately (my sleeping pills don't seem to be working anymore) and I've found that at 3 in the morning Sleater-Kinney works. Not that it puts me to sleep or anything, but it, works that magic and soothes . . . makes me feel not to crazy for pulling out the kettle and putting some tea on . . . or pulling out the chicken I bought at the market the previous day and roasting it, like I did this morning at 3 o'clock.

I was having one of those cravings. I cooked some pasta and made a broccoli and cream white sauce. In the dessert category, I managed to finish a batch of snicker doodle cookies and two cakes, one chocolate and the other vanilla, before 8 o'clock this morning. Once finished, I rung John up and told him to find his way over because there was no way that I would be able to eat all of the food without vomiting profusely. He got here at about 9 o'clock . . . it didn't take him long since I mentioned cake and cookies . . . really who could refuse?

We watched some movies. I read my book, Failed States . . . after my Ginsberg kick I found y way back to it. Its still pretty intense . . . a lot of . . . words . . . and facts . . . supplemented by more words. But, I'm pulling my way through it, just like I pulled my way through all the other Chomsky's that I read before it. It's just going to take awhile.

There is one sure thing, though, whenever I read Chomsky I always find a way to fall asleep, sleeping aids working or not. I passed out about ten pages after I began reading, whether it was influenced by pure exhaustion or the words I was reading, I'll never know.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Beatnik Mood: Three in the Morning Come a Bang Bang Bang while I'm with You in Rockland.

Today, I was set on mixing things up a bit, therefore I woke up to the sound of a cowbell in the first seconds of "California Waiting" by King of Leon. It was actually quite refreshing, you know, after being so keen on the melodic side for the past few days (excusing maybe the couple "intense" moments that Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Belle & Sebastian, and etc can have) I just wanted to break free and experience something else . . . you know something that fit the mood I was and am currently occupying.

I suppose the entirety of my mood was set into play by the current material that is presiding on my reading list. After my wonderful stint with Darkness Visible by Golding, and that short period I spent with Running with Scissors, and then onto a conquest into the mind and world of junk in Junky by Burroughs, I was kind of on one of those kicks. You, know those, beatnik kicks, where you just want to run out get some morphine and become a user yourself. To calm that urge and rid myself of those "unhealthy" thoughts, I pulled out the old standby, Noam Chomsky. In a sensible world, I would never own a copy of any of his works, however, the world is not sensible, and alas! I own more Chomsky than I could ever wish to. This one was entitled Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy, from the title you might be able to assume how intense the read could be . . . I it a fourth of the way through before I had to stop. My eyes were bleeding . . . metaphorically, not literally.

It was after that heavy read that I found myself in another beatnik mood. I wanted something with passion, with words for life, and inspiration for . . . something yet to be described. In most situation like this people would look to Kerouac, however, as stated previously, I am in a fit with him and all of his pretty passages. In dire need, I finally pulled off the shelf something that had been discarded long ago, out of a certain . . . uneasiness towards poetry. At the time, I could withstand Plath and Browning, but as a purely fiction girl I'd was just beyond breaking point if I read anymore stanzas. However, now, I am on a total and complete Ginsberg kick. I had like a handful of his works on the shelf mailed to me by my brother when he was having a inspirational crisis/revelation (yes, my brother mails me books as well as music . . . but, again, he still can't use the tele. I think he finds some sort of simple pleasure in using the postal system.) I looked through the first couple pages and stacked them on the shelf.

Here, now, I am completely crazed about his poems. The wondrous flow of words, the repetition, and the unsurpassed singular beauty of them. He makes me feel alive somehow . . . or maybe its the music. Could be both.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ding Dong! A Silly Song, Sure Do Say Somethings Wrong, Smile Awhile, Forget the Bile, And Watch It All Come Down.

I have really no complete idea of why I have recently picked up the knack of writing about my current listening choices, but for some reason its what I feel like doing, so I'm going to stick to it. Today I kicked off the morning with Bonnie "Prince" Billy. I was in the mood for country and I really love his voice. Its so . . . soothing, like it makes me want to lie in a down of feathers and sleep eternally. It that nice melodic tone, not folky enough to be folk just country enough to be country . . . except he isn't one of those commercial country artists that can do nothing but sing about their dog, their booze, and their woman.

However, I have a problem with my Bonnie "Prince" Billy album. So, I got it from my brother, he mailed me a burned copy like he does every once in a while when he uncovers a gem . . . (Yeah, its weird . . . He won't call me on the telephone and as of last year I hadn't talked to him for years . . . but every once and a while I would get packages of mixes and CDs in the mail from him for me to listen to . . . just music, maybe once and a while a note scribbled on a napkin . . . what a strange relationship we have . . . but anyways.) The only problem is that since the disk is a copy my computer doesn't immediately recognize it, so I have manually search for the album information, however, in my case, the CD has an extra unknown track at the beginning of the disk. I have searched and searched and for the life of me cannot figure it out. Its really unnerving. So if anyone has any information about why my copy of "I See a Darkness" has 12 tracks rather than the normal 11 or the bonus Japanese version of 13, please comment and give me some answers.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Oh Yeah, She's Losing It.

Today, Essex Green is gone from my play list and I and since switched to Belle & Sebastian. I'm in one of those pure and innocent kind of moods and well, that is what Belle & Sebastian is for me, pure and innocent, which in all cases I know it is completely untrue but I like to to make myself believe it. Right now I'm onto their album "The Life Pursuit" and previously I was listening to "The Boy with the Arab Strap" and next it is going to be "Tigermilk. Whoo. Who. I found this cartoon online depicting lines from on of their songs. Its really kind of cute.

In other news, I finished Running with Scissors. I don't understand the hype. It was a quick read and had some good moments but also some particularly bad moments. I would never good as far to call it good literature or anything. After I finished that last night, I picked up the better Burroughs this morning and started to page my way through Junky: The Definitive text of "Junk." Its an easy enough read and because its written more as a personal narrative, it makes it better to understand. I also don't think that he uses his cut-up method for this either . . . which in some ways is a loss but in others its a plus.

In some ways I kind of find it lacking that certain spark that his novels like Naked Lunch and The Soft Machine and The Ticket that Exploded had. They just were so . . . inspiring in their crazy convoluted style. I am the only person among my group of friends that particularly cares for Burroughs. They're all Jack Kerouac kind of people when it comes to the Beats. I on the other hand would put Burroughs before Kerouac any day. He has so much more promise to me and everything takes a second look to understand. Kerouac is less convoluted, easier to intake, and then coated with pretty passages with "deeper" meanings. He's too transcendental, too Thoreau. If I wanted to read something that sounded like Walden I would have read Walden not Walden under a different title with a subtext of drugs, sex, and everything else that came with the Beat Generation.

But, whatever.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Why the Kite Runner is Awful Compared to William Golding and the Essex Green.

I am still on my Essex Green kick that began in the later hours of yesterday afternoon. Since early this morning I have been listening to their albums Cannibal Sea and The Long Goodbye nonstop with exception for around 10 o'clock when I broke away for awhile to listen to Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah. I had this strong urge to sing along with "Satan Said Dance." You know the words, and if you don't, well, you should. Well anyways, I had one of those urges, you know, to hear that mumbling voice. Its kind of soothing. However, after only a couple of song from Some Loud Thunder, I switched back to Essex Green. I suppose I'm just in a melodic kind of mood . . . and oh yeah, I'm posting today a real picture of them, rather than those very green photos of Essex that I posted yesterday.

Along with listening to Essex Green, this morning I finished the book I was reading, Darkness Visible by William Golding, the master of all things wordly. If you haven't figured out I am a complete and total Golding fan. When I found Pincher Martin on the shelves in some used bookstore I had a mini-frenzied-joy-attack. I started jumping up and down in the aisle, because you would believe how hard Golding's work is to find, almost all of it is out-of-print, so the only way I have made my way in finding the collected works was to search out of print book sellers on the Internet. So anyways, more to the point, I finished Darkness Visible and it was either beautiful, wonderful, mind-blowing, or everything, I can't decide. It was just so poignantly written . . . it evoked every emotion in me . . . stunningly.

Here's a passage from the text:

"The figure was a child, drawing nearer. As they picked their way past the new crater they saw him plain. He was naked and the miles of light lit him variously. A child's stride is quick; but this child walked down the very middle of the street with a kind of ritual gait that in and adult would have been called solemn. The captain could see --and now, with a positive explosion of human feeling --why this particular child walked as it did. The brightness on his left side was not an effect of light. The burn was even more visible on the left side of his head. All his hair was gone on that side, and on the other, shrivelled to peppercorn dots. His face was so swollen he could only glimpse where he was going through the merest of slits. It was perhaps something animal that was directing him away from the placed where the world was being consumed. Perhaps it was luck, good or bad, that kept him pacing in the one direction where he might survive."

And another:

"Matty was now fixed in a different position so that skin could be transferred from one part of his body to the other. It was a condition of some absurdity and the other children in the burns hospital, none of whom had much to laugh at, enjoyed his plight. Grown-ups came to entertain and console him but no woman held his undamaged side to her breast. She would have had to contort herself to do so. His smile went unused. There was rather more visible now to the casual visitor; and these, hurrying to their own unfortunates, were repelled by the sordid misery in which Matty passed his days, and they flashed sideways at him and uneasy smile which he interpreted with absolute precision. When at last he was cut loose, and having been as much as possible repaired was set on his feet, his smile seemed to have gone for good. The blasting of his left side had given him some contraction of the sinews that growth had not yet redressed, so he limped. He had hair on the right side of his skull but the left side a a ghastly white, which seemed so unchildlike it was an invitation by its appearance of baldness to discount his childishness and treat him as an adult who was being stubborn or just silly. Organizations ground on round him for his benefit but there was little more that could be done with him. His background was probed and probed without result. For all that the most painstaking inquiries could find, he might have been born from the sheer agony of a burning city."

Weren't those so . . . powerful? Now just imagine the entirety of the book being like that, as these passages only came from the first chapter. For me, they seem to be proof enough that Golding was and is the Master of prose, and well-deserving of his Nobel Prize for literature. The only thing that irks me is that most only know him for Lord of the Flies, and treat him as if that was the only book he ever wrote, because he wrote much more, and in some cases his other works are undoubtedly more poignant and powerful than Lord of the Flies. My personal favorite is The Spire . . . I think it demonstrates everything he demonstrated in Lord of the Flies only it was better.

Now I am in the beginning chapters of Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. A friend of mine gave it to me, because she said that it was wonderful. I, of course, had heard of it, but was never much into it . . . I wasn't even into the movie when it came out, so I never saw it. However, I thought I should read it anyways . . . for the experience, if not, just to be nice. I will say that the only Burroughs for me is William Burroughs, though, he fills the spot completely.

I just keep telling myself that it won't be as bad as The Kite Runner, which was one of those mainstream books, now turned movie, that everybody loved . . . except me. I hated it . . . no, I slightly loathed it. The situation was one of those comparable to the Seinfeld episode where everybody but Elaine loves "The English Patient" and as a result they shun her for it. People would go, "what? you don't love the kite runner? why not? are you crazy? its great! oprah loves it! you should to!" It would actually get very intense these verbal sparrings that others and myself would have . . . I would defend myself continually pointing out everything in the text that I . . . disliked . . . and they would with things like "well, the new york times loves it and they're smarter than you," as if that was an actual defense.

I'm hoping that this book doesn't do turn into one of those . . . the beginning is okay . . . I hope it gets better.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Snowflakes Falling in My Eyelashes.

I just keep looking out the window to see little flakes fluttering on the the other side of the window pane, falling down into the pit of the city below, with all the walking people (as rare as they are even) sheltering their faces from their specks of wetness. I went out in the weather earlier to get to work and then walking to and from building and building. Driving, or moreover, commuting home was a sullen trip with all of the sad drear that the overcast sky was shedding on the world.

Right now I happen to be listening to Essex Green which I suppose doesn't fit the white and grey mood that the atmosphere is setting for me. Of course being the kind of person I am, typed in Essex Green into a stock gallery to get some stock footage of Essex Green to put in this post. However, they really didn't have a way for me to get the disambiguation away from Essex in England, and separately, green as color. This is the best thing I got. Of course, I'm using the images anyway, because I'm in need of something to lighten up the mood. Its a little too drear around here.

I think that now I am going to go and make some soup and lentils. I bought all the ingredients at the market last night. John is supposed to be coming over later after he gets off of work, and if I don't start preparing for dinner now it will never get done. I'll fall asleep and before you know it John will be shaking me awake asking where the supposedly wonderful dinner is. I would hate to disappoint him after all the soup he's made for me.
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Pretty City in the Wintertime.

Today is a nice day for a walk outside. I'm not saying this because the weather is particularly nice out of doors, but rather I am saying it because it feels like one of those days, you know, the shout in the air, wind in your face, beautiful being kind of days. I just wanted to fall asleep in it. Of course, now that I am think I am kind of glad that I didn't fall asleep in it because seeing that it is only 25 degrees outside and there is and abundant amount of snow on the ground, I might have caught a cold.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

. . . What can I say?

The quiche I made last night for dinner turned out quite well . . . so did the babka. However, I ended up roasting the chicken a tad bit too much, so it ended up being a little . . . rough. The snow peas were a mistake in themselves, because I picked them up not at the all natural organic produce market like I always do with my fruits and vegetables; instead, I went a little nuts and decided to just pick some out at the produce section of the supermarket. It was a bad mistake because they tasted like trash. I can't decided whether it was my rather . . . shifty . . . cooking ability that made them so, or if it was because I've been eating fresh produce for so long that I actually taste the difference. On a further note, I ended up brewing some splendid tea that washed away the bad taste in my mouth.

I suppose I have just lost my touch in picking out good vegetables and fruits. The fact is that I haven't had a single good wholesome meal since finals ended. Its been a severe series of overeating mixed with a craze of snacking. I even cut out fruit . . . This morning I picked up a banana to have for breakfast and it felt like I had never tasted one before. I suppose I just forgot that biting sweetness of a not yet entirely ripe green banana. In less words, it was the best thing I had tasted for awhile.

Of course, I'm glad that I didn't pick these bananas up at the supermarket. John brought them over because he said that I needed to start eating healthier foods, rather than the crap that I had so recently been shoving down my throat. He also brought over some pears . . . which are fruit that I have not always been privy to . . . but I had one for lunch today and it was quite delicious. It had the right amount of juice and flesh to make it just succulent.

Along with not eating any fruit I've also caught a case of the lazies . . . as I've mentioned in the previous posts. I've into the habit of lying in bed all day, drinking tea, and reading these monstrous books, while falling asleep . . . even if its the middle of the days and the sun is shining bright through the neighboring window. Sometime after I woke up for a munch on a breakfast banana and sometime before I ate that pear for lunch, John came over and had to pull me out of doors. He pulled me along with him through the park and and to some shop he wanted to visit and then back home so I could fall dead back onto my mattress.

Well, anyways, bad habits will die tomorrow . . . or at least I hope they do . . . I don't think I can keep this up for long.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Error of My Ways.

So I suppose I could say that I have been a little . . . distracted. Over the past weeks I have spent more time sleeping and reading and lounging and being than I have ever in the entirety of my existence. I now am beginning to realize error in taking up all of these bad, lazy habits . . . because in a few short days, I will be back to the grindstone, working. For now, I am going to treasure these last remaining moments and try to break the mold vacation had given me.

On a lighter note, I finally made it to the grocery market today, and have fully stocked the previously stark cabinets. Tonight will be a wonderful dinner of spinach quiche and roasted chicken breast complete with snow peas and decadent dessert of chocolate babka. I'm going/went a little crazy in the kitchen tonight . . . I'll tell you how it tastes later.

Friday, January 4, 2008


I have finally gotten around to writing a new post . . . things have been a little busy, or if not busy then just kind of hectic in the holiday rush and whatnot. Just to say, I finally made it back to the city only two days ago and from there I had to unpack the car, the suitcases, my coat pockets, and myself. I have just spent the better length of a week with a family speaking tongues I could not understand, eating family delicacies that I would never dare to put in my mouth, and feigning ignorance to all the prying questions touching on the nature of my and John’s relationship with each other. I mean, what does one say to an aging grandmother that is trying with all her willpower to ask in broken English when the wedding was taking place? I felt a little said after telling her that we were in fact not getting married and that we were not even really dating. Her face went a little flat . . . of course, and then she waddled over to John and with what sounded like very fierce words that were later translated to me as her demanding him to tell her why we were not getting married. Crazy, I know.

Other than those sorts of same mishaps, the week was . . . interesting . . . oh and Chicago was wonderful. The big city was booming as it always is. It was weird spending Christmas day in a hotel, but it wasn’t that bad. Mother was as good as she could be . . . had a little bit of lichen growing on the tombstone, but hey, it’s granite so it’s a natural process that should be occurring.
The flight back was nice. I slept, because well hotel beds do not provide as much comfort as one would expect.

Well, now I am going to settle onto the couch and take another nap . . . maybe I’ll read or something before I fall asleep . . . at least that would be a little bit more productive.