Thursday, October 30, 2003

"Paging Johnny Truant..."

I'm in a serious state, my friends.

A book has taken over my mind, and I can't stop thinking about it.

I finished House of Leaves last night, and was kinda depressed because I knew that I have only scratched the surface of understanding it.

Today, I went to the House of Leaves Forum online and found that there is so much more that I have missed. Whole discussions of codes and symbolism, conducted by countless people more well-versed in mythology and literary criticism than I will ever be. I was quickly overwhelmed. And now I'm more depressed.

And like our dear Zampano, and the ever truant Johnny, I becoming more and more obsessed with the labrynth that is the novel.

Odds are, I'll read it again. And again. And again. Because I have to find some sort of resolution. Understanding. Like Navidson, I plunge onward, into the void, and risk falling.

It's a shame i have no karen to catch me.


If you're totally confused, that's okay, so am I. The point is, House of Leaves is the most engrossing novel I have read in a while, probably ever. If you feel up to the journey, I must first warn you that there is rampant profanity and "adult" content, but if you can get past that, The most stylistically and technically complex and confounding work I've ever seen. It is either genius or madness, and the line between is nearly irradicated by this novel. There are some who will observe the internet furor and laugh it off as "people taking it more seriously than it deserves." And this is true. But damned if it isn't the most mentally-stimulating reading experience I've ever had.

You know what? Nevermind, don't read it. I can only think of one, maybe two people who have ever read this site who should even attempt to read the book. The rest of you (my beloved readers) would be too offended or confused. Trust me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I couldn't agree more...

When pressed to defend why he consumes "adult" beverages on a nightly basis (and more than once has come in hungover), my co-worker pondered momentarily, then with a frustrated shrug replied, "I'm the mood for sobriety."

Quote of the day honors go to you, sir.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Now you're working, building a memory...

I have really vivid sense memories. Certain things, smells mainly, transport me to crystal-clear places and moments in the past.

Today was one such event.

The smell of cold. It's incredible. When you breath in with your mouth, and you can almost taste the cold. It's a wonderful thing. That's why I gave up cinnamon gum for winterfresh. Yeah, it sounds stupid, but try it. Chew a piece of winterfresh gum while breathing through your nose. Then, close your eyes and breath in through your mouth.

Quick: what month is it? My point exactly.

Anyway, the smell/taste of cold. So I'm sitting in my cubbicle (no typo, I call it the CUB-icle), when a gust of cold first floor air finds its way through the elevator to the four of us up here in the tower. And instantly, I'm in tenth/eleventh grade. I'm walking, in jeans, Parker polo shirt, and a jacket (probably my old denim/canvas mix) with a group of CCCS comrades. We're making our way up from the (Wilkinson's?) van, walking toward the entrance to the Galleria**. It's December, and chilly. And I'm excited, because before us is a day of window-shopping, ice-skating, and weak attempts at catching the attention of certain female classmates. Me and Brent, Nathan and Josh, Mike and Phillip, Mark Bice flirting relentlessly with Becky, Sarah J. and Cynthia talking, Mr. J. and Mrs. Wilkinson, taking the lead. We're walking uphill (on the second story incline of the parking garage).

By the end of the day, I will have not gotten Becky to notice me, but I will have purchased a "limited edition" issue of Beckett Magazine celebrating the career of "retired" superstar Michael Jordan (whom I didn't even like, but I considered the purchase an "investment"). I will have eaten a large slice of pizza at Sbarro's, watched people skate, marvelled at how beautiful Becky was, and probably dropped a couple bucks on arcade games. And then we'll go home, with no homework, until finals, the following week.

It was a good day. A day without worry.


I have the strong desire to go to the Galleria this afternoon/evening. But I won't. Because if I go by myself, I'll be very lonely. And the disappointment of not being able to relive the memory will displace any fun I may have there.

I have another memory of the Galleria. Of my being stupid and pig-headed and making a very special person cry. One of quite a few memories like that. But I keep those to myself.

Anyway. There you go. Winterfresh, smell/taste of cold, memory. Have a good evening, friends.

**The Galleria was Houston's premier shopping mall. Three stories, ridiculous price hikes, and an ice-skating rink year-round made this mall THE place to go for all-day holiday school outings. The Galleria area of Houston is known for its high-end shopping and premier dining (including the renowned Capitol Grille). Unfortunately, progress marches on, and the reputation of the Galleria mall has waned in recent years, especially with the construction and completion of Houston's new supa-dupa-mall, Katy Mills (part of the nationwide "Mills" chains, which have several other malls with the EXACT SAME LAYOUT AND DESIGN in other parts of the country). Since then, while the area around the Galleria has stayed at the cutting edge of consumer technology, the mall itself has begun to lose its former lustre. Like most things.
Holy Crap! It's Cold!

Or at least it was. Yes, that's right, here in Houston, at the doorstep of Hades itself, we had a beautiful chilly Sunday, where the temp never exceeded the mid-fifties. It almost felt like fall for a while there.

This morning was chilly too. And while this afternoon may not have been that cold (near 70?), tonight's low is 46.


As if we were in the Mid-west or something. That's Vince-Lombardi-giving-a-halftime-pep-talk weather. That's Cubs-win-Cubs-win-holy-cow weather. That isn't yee-haw-ain't-it-a-mite-chilly weather.

For a while there, I thought I was transported to Oklahoma for a day or so. Which would have been nice, cuz I miss you guys.

Friday, October 24, 2003

The funniest thing I've read all week...

You MUST read this because it's, quite frankly, a work of genius. My deepest and sincerest thanks to McSweeney's for another hilarious essay.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

I'm feeling kinda basic today...

For some reason, I felt the need to post, this afternoon. Don't know why, really. I don't have anything much to say. Nothing's going on. And yet here I am. Curious.'s it going...

Seriously, I don't have anything pressing to say...

I'm reading a good book. It's called House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. Those of you who've read it will be pleased to hear that I'm enjoying it immensely. One of the most thorough and stylistically aggressive debut novels i've ever read. Plus, it panders to my Eliot-like obsession with footnotes. It's disturbing and beautiful.

I'm playing a lot of video games. Too much, I think. I have embarked on my own personal conquest of Kingdom Hearts. Those who have read the previous book will remember my previous encounter with Kingdom Hearts, and my attempted (adopted) conquest of it. Well, now that I have home-field advantage, so to speak, I can devote more time to it. ...Sad, really.

Piper would call that a wasted life. Then again, Piper makes me feel guilty for not being called to be a missionary. So I don't know exactly how much I weigh Piper's admonitions.

But then again, he has a point, and I'd be lying if I said otherwise.

See, cuz everything that is not related to Kingdom building is a waste of time. That's what Piper says. And Piper's right, cuz that's what the Bible says.

So what do I do with my shiny new toy? Or my television? My tickets to movies and concerts? Do I give it all up? Spend all my time ministering to the poor and needy? Is that how I'm supposed to go through life?

Apparently, yes. Cuz if I don't, then I'm wasting my life. Living for the world. Or whatever you like to call it.

It would be the pinnacle of selfishness to continue to live like this. To repay the sacrifice of Christ by fawning over "must-see-TV".

But at my core, I am a selfish, sinful person. And I'm having a hard time trying to change that.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll get back to my book.

Friday, October 17, 2003

The Friday Fourteen

Again, mad props to Manders for list selection:

Fourteen Websites that I Recommend Highly

(in no order, as always)

1. The Living Room--Even though Manders failed to mention me in her list, I will drop her name into mine (thereby causing her to feel very very guilty. Gwahahahaha...)

2. Relevant Magazine--God. Life. Progressive Culture. What else do I need to say? Very hip, moderately orientated (politically speaking), and always interesting. Check daily, as their "Slices" change almost daily.

3. Seth Woods--One of my new fave singer-songwriters. And proof also, that I'm totally indie.

4. Oklahoma Baptist University--Much love to the old alma mater. Not the best college in the world, but certainly not the worst.

5. The Onion--Okay, if you are really easily offended, don't bother. Otherwise, check out this site for the best social commentary and satire around.

6. Sarah Hatter--As I have stated before, I read this post often, because her abilities with the written word never cease to amaze.

7. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center--this is where I work. Voted the number one cancer hospital in North America the last two or three years in a row.

8. Counting Crows--the best band in the world. If you can't appreciate their greatness, spend three hours at this site, and soak it all in.

9. Book Magazine--one of my favorite publications, with very interesting articles on the publishing industry and the lives of various authors.

10. Stephen King--all hail the King. You may think he's creepy (quite), you may be convinced he worships the Devil (he doesn't), but love him or hate him, you have to admit he is very very good.

11. Outpost Daria--this is the best fansite I've seen for my favorite cartoon of all time. MTV's own Daria Morgendorffer--the cynical, anti-social, strikingly perceptive loner that has lifted up the stone of high school life to reveal the squirmy disgusting underbelly of... nevermind. The show is awesome. I'll leave it at that.

12. Chicago Cubs--I'll avoid bitter commentary here. This is the official MLB site for my team. There's always next year.

13. Project Gutenburg--I think this is absolutely rad. Full text of many classic books online. Rocks my face off.

14. The Return of the King--I'm counting the days, man. I'm counting the days...

Thursday, October 16, 2003

That fan, that fan, that fa-a-a-an...

Oh, come on, obvious Lauren Hill reference.

Yeah yeah yeah, so everyone in Chicago was outraged. So the television and radio stations stalked the guy, and he couldn't go to work.

And the guy, who was a youth baseball coach and life-long Cubs fans, should have been paying attention, and should have known better. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

But come on. Do we really believe that he is single-handedly responsible for the Cubs not reaching the big dance?

Apparently, yes.

Because in Chicago, we still blame goats. And we still dream of hearing from beyond the grave, "Cubs win! Cubs win! Holy cow!"

Well, all we have left is the Cub fan's October mantra: "There's always next year."
"Do you understand...the dream is over..."

Well, there it is, I guess. After all the hoopla, all the predictions disproved, all talk of goats and Waveland Avenue and "that fan." After the listing off of various amounts of time (fourteen years, fifty-eight years, ninety-five years). After the uber-hype about the hot hands of the pitching aces. After the three-one lead, and the almost assured victory. There it is. Another World Series to ignore.

As the last out was caught, I stood from the green recliner in my parents' living room. My mother said, "I'm sorry, honey." And I replied, in true third-generation-fan style, "Well, you know, at the end of the day, they're still the Cubs."

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Coming Soon

Coming Soon, in our next issue:

A cover story on the meteoric rise, troubled fall, and phoenix-like revival of the greatest alt-folk-rock-punk band to come out of the Sooner State, ROSCO-90.

PBB's Dave Mitchell will take you through the history of the legendary band, incuding a look at their entire catalogue of hits. There will even be an interview with some of the band members (if we can get any of them on the record). Plus, never-before-published photos from the band's "Smells like Dorland" tour. And, one lucky reader will be selected to be a roadie for ROSCO-90's upcoming "RIP Rhetta" ten-city stadium tour.

So keep your eyes peeled for the next issue of Perfect Blue Buildings, hitting a desktop near you October 17th!
Author's Note

A brief complaint against technology, written in blank verse:

O, why why why did the computer feel
The need to change my words' formatting so.
I wrote them diff-er-ently, sir, for real,
Than how they ended up on my last post.
I spaced each line particularly "e."
So that my joke would be more clearly seen
But now it seems the joke has fallen short
Because the comp does not like comedy.
So now, I sit, upset, left-justified,
And missing most of my poetic grace,
Well, here's my best attempt at paying due
To one who did so much for my career.

Not much of a career it yet has been,
But soon, I hope the real one will begin.


[And it turned into an unrhymed sonnet. Man, I have no control over this stuff.]
happy birthday, e.e.

Today, people all over the literary community will honor the accomplishments and career of one of modern poetry's greatest voices.

e.e. cummings.

And so, to honor the poet on this special day, here is a tribute, written entirely off the top of my head:

"happy freaking birthday, e.e."

so it's your birthday
i hope you are hap:py
and that you re:
ceive lots of
And if you decide
after all the ce(lebratio)n, that you
would prefer not to get older
take comfort
in the know!

that you are (in fact)
already dead.

[I hope he likes it.]

Friday, October 10, 2003

"Sweet Jane, sweet sweet Jane..."

I've decided for no apparent reason, and have felt for the past few weeks, that I need to find a girl named Jane. Could it be the music I'm listening to? The cruel trap laid by The Velvet Underground, Cowboy Mouth, Cowboy Junkies(covering Velvet Underground), Barenaked Ladies, and others? Could it be the subliminal messages coming out of my television?

This strikes me funny, considering a series of events occuring to me during the winter of 2000. There was a girl, who was enamored with me, even though I didn't feel the same way. She kept pursuing for a while, and finally I sat her down and said, "We're just not a pair. I'm "Jack" and I'm looking for a "Jill", you know? My match." She asked, "Then who am I?" I said, scrambling to maintain the metaphor, "You're Jane. And you need to find your John." "Sometimes, people named John go by the name 'Jack.'" "That's not the point, you know what I mean."

I know that she wasn't the one, by any means, and we would have slowly destroyed each other with too much devotion and mutual worship. But it's funny to remember that conversation in the light of this new resolution of mine.

If my longing for a Jane is related to the television show, one could argue that I had already found one. But I'm hopeful that one day, I'll stumble across another.

"You can't talk, you're not holding the conch..."

So the word on the street is that my generation is moving away from the typical family unit and resorting to more of a tribal system. Which makes me a double loser since i have no girlfriend OR tribe.

(I really wanted to work in a Lord of the Flies reference, but it's just too early in the morning. So pretend I said something incredibly clever that included Ralph, Piggy, Jack, SamAndEric, and/or Simon, laugh accordingly, and I promise I'll deliver next time.)
"Will the fight for our sanity be the battle of our lives?"

Hey kids. It's 9:47 am and I want to go home. Work bad, sleep good.

I'm debating whether or not to go see "Kill Bill (Volume One)" tonight. There are obvious reasons to do so:
--I loved "Pulp Fiction"
--I enjoy the action movies
--Uma, Uma, Uma
--Swords! ... Swords!

But then again:
--If I watch this one, I'll *have* to see the second one in February
--It's been called the most violent film not to get an NC-17 rating in recent memory
--I think "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" maxed out my blood-letting budget for the month
--paying full adult rates at the googleplex
--isn't Tarentino kinda cliche at this point? No, he's not. Nevermind.

So, yes, the jury's still out. If there's a good flick at the dollar, I'll go there instead, cuz, seriously, it's a buck fifty. I love paying a buck fifty.


Waterdeep (at least Don, Brandon, and the current Bass player) are working a short tour through middle America while Lori is getting bigger and bigger at home (the brand new Chaffer debuts sometime soon). The band will be in Dallas the day after my birthday. Sadly, that's a Wednesday. Double sadly, I can't cut out of work cuz it's our big ugly meeting day (and it sounds like this one will be bigger and uglier than ever). This coming weekend, the band is in Colorado, and next weekend they're in KC. Don says this will probably be the last tour for a while. And now that I have a job, I can't make it up to see them. Which is frustrating. But really, I'd rather listen to their CDs while I'm paying my bills and living in my own apartment, thank you very much, new job.

I got my first birthday card yesterday. It was a perfectly chosen card, made specifically for the early-mid-twenties (or late-early-twenties). As I am turning 23, I found it humorous and applicable. Thanks to Manders for brightening up an otherwise sickly and overcast day.

The official word from my digestive system is a complete veto of all Uncle Ben's Pasta Bowl products. And I'm happy to go along with that.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Thursday Thirteen

This list topic was so good that, yes Manders, I will actually go to the trouble of putting on my own site.

"Thirteen Books (other than the Bible) That Have Shaped Your Thought"

Actually, I'm gonna tweak this a little to include shaping my approach to writing also.

(In no order, except for how they come to my head)

1. Shakespeare, Hamlet
Already, I hear eyes rolling. (Yes I can.) This play explores the themes of meaning, purpose, free-will, and loyalty. Hamlet is a young man at a crossroads, grappling with two opposed worldviews. I think that would make it relevant.

2. Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
A book that I wish I had written, this one challenged how I understood what a narrative is. Dared me to think and write outside the lines.

3. Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
Through the grasses and early morning dew you hear them, feet barely hitting the ground. "The boys of summer, running." This book reveals the magic and mystery of the everyday, and makes you appreciate the simple beauty of childhood summers.

4. John Eldredge, Wild at Heart
This book really helped me understand what being a Godly man means. And it was really liberating.

5. Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman
The ultimate American tragedy. For a long time, I identified with this play on a deeply personal level. I would find myself quoting phrases from it when I talked about the future, what I wanted and what I definitely didn't want.

6. Edmund Rostand, Cyrano De Bergerac
The one thing you can carry with you throughout your life is your honor.

7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
Okay, so I'm a geek. This book (because it's a book, not a series, really) is the ultimate epic, conveying a tremendous sense of history and importance and reminding us that nothing good comes without sacrifice, and that loyalty can truly save lives. Sam is my hero.

8. Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
" 'Tis a far, far better thing I do, than I've ever done before; 'tis a far better place I go, than I have ever gone." Loyalty and sacrifice, man. That's what it comes down to.

9. Steven King, On Writing
Probably my favorite book on the steps necessary to write as well as you are able. I've read it maybe two or three times.

10. Jane Martin, Keely and Du
Another play. While I was in this production, I really had to confront the dangerous power of dogma. And while my views on certain social issues didn't change, my understanding of perspective did. And I think it made me a better person.

11. Frank Peretti, The Oath
I haven't read this in years, and if i read it again, I may change my mind. But if nothing else, this book served notice that Christian writers can come up with super-cool creepy stories. And I think it proved that Christian novels don't have to have the happy-ending, total-redemption formula to be effective. And that was a relief. Cuz I write scary things.

12. Tim Lahaye, Left Behind
...Just kidding. Cuz it's so not true. Okay, maybe it affected me because I despise it so much.

I can't think of any more right now. I mean, there are more books that I liked, but I'm struggling to find any that "affected" me. Lemme go home and find a few more, then I'll get back with this. Cuz, let's face it, we both know some of these choices were kinda crap anyway.

Interesting to note: Only two *Christian* books made the cut, not counting LB which is up there purely for humor. Amanda had what, like, eight. I'm so unspiritual. No, really, it's just that I don't really read Christian books, I stopped seeking them out. Now I read what interests me, what is recommended by people whose taste I trust. Frankly, I think a good 60% of the Christian book market is crap anyway. Fiction and non-fiction. What's the use.

Also worth noting: a third of the list was made up of plays. I would have put more but I'm trying to stay within the bounds of the assignment, you know. I may whip up another list of just plays, so i'll feel better.

Let's do that now.

Thirteen Pl-- no, wait, hang on

Thirteen Plays that Dave thinks are Important for Being a Halfway Decent Person
Much better.

1. Shakespeare, Hamlet
2. Miller, Death of a Salesman
3. Rostand, Cyrano De Bergerac
4. Martin, Keely and Du
5. Eric Bogosian, Suburbia
6. Beckett, Waiting for Godot
7. Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author
8. Williams, The Glass Menagerie
9. Shepard, True West
10. Mamet, Oleanna
11. Wilder, Our Town
12. Miller, All My Sons
13. Beckett, Endgame

Ah, much better indeed.

(Notice, I said plays, not musicals, otherwise you'd get things like Godspell, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Chess, and a bunch of other stuff.)

There, two lists. I'm done.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Remember, ladies, it's what we can't see that intrigues us...

It seems that the Muslim world has found its own symbol in the children's toy market. To compete with the overtly-curvy and oft-improperly-clad Barbie, the new girl on the block is Razanne, who wears long dresses and a head scarf, and is "less buxom" than her Western counterpart.

The stated purpose is to help Muslim girls understand that Allah and good Muslim boys look at the inner beauty instead of the outer.

But you know that all the Muslim Ken dolls are wondering about is what's covered up.

Okay, so that may be going too far.


I am half-tempted to make a crack about a few of the dolls blowing themselves up when you put them in Barbie's sports car with her, but that would just be in bad taste.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

From the "Signs of the Coming Apocalypse" File

I don't know if I should be troubled or dumbfounded.