Saturday, December 17, 2011

Of Lust and Love

One day a man turned to his companion and said:

“Friend, you have been like a brother to me for almost my entire life. We tell each other everything and are as close as two friends can be. But in all this time, I do not think I have ever seen you truly happy.”

The other looked at him with a blank expression and, lifting his hands palm-up, replied:

“What does it mean to be truly happy? I have lived out my entire life as I have seen fit, and I have enjoyed it all. Is that not happiness?”

“Yes, it is true that you have always done as you please, but what have you to show for it? You have thrown away any chance at success in life to pursue your petty interests. What of your future? How will you provide for yourself? How will you provide for a family?

The man simply shook his head, a disappointed expression on his face.

“You say I have thrown away success? You say I will never be truly happy? This existence is but a mere instant in the passage of time. Is it wrong for me to squeeze what pleasure I can from it while I have the chance? We are all but specks on a speck in the sea of countless specks that is the universe. Why should I plan for the future, when it is not promised to me? It is promised to no one. Rather, I would live for today, everyday.”

“But what of love, my friend? How can one hope to ever love and have a family if you make no plans for the future?”

At this, the man shocked his friend with a bout of biting laughter.

“You fool! Love is such a silly thing. It is nothing more than a fleeting lie. Rather, give me lust, for at least I know that to be true. We were created to lust, not to love. It is simply the nature of humanity, and yet we combat it with religion and morality. Therefore, when someone lusts after me, they must be sincere, for why would one affirm something we have branded so taboo, if it were nought but a lie? No, my friend, love is the lie. It is no more real than time or God.”

“So now you say you believe in neither time nor God!? How can you speak such fallacy?”

“Time is but a construct that we as humans have created for our convenience. Were we not here, time would not exist. Are you really so foolish as to believe that without us, the universe would cease to be?”

By this point, his friend had lost his temper.

“And God? What of Him? How can you say there is no God when we stand here now? We must have been created somehow!”

“To that I would simply say; evolution.”

“And from where did these beings from which we evolved come?”

“Still lesser beings. And then from lesser, and so on until the dawn of life. And before life, we were chemicals. And before that, other chemicals, and so on until forever!”

“But then, my friend, let me ask you one last question. From where did that original bit of matter you surely speak of come?”

Turning, he said over his shoulder with a smirk on his face:

“The same place as your God, I suppose.”


Conor - Why Does My Head Hurt So Much Right Now

Ooooooowwwwwww. Ow ow ow ow ow ow.

I fell asleep in Jenni's car on the way back from the airport and my head was like "surprise, we're made of pain now." I ran into Jenni Austiff at the airport in Dallas! How crazy is that. I always look at every passerby in the airport, and there's always some point where I say to myself "this is silly. I do not know any of these people and I never will." That thought isn't usually followed by running into a friend from my hometown, but I guess it sometime is.


It's like this throbbing pain. I'll represent this in how I dictate my ow's from here on out.


I pulled an all nighter on Wednesday. My mom always said that lack of sleep would come back and hurt me. Here it is, Mom. You've always been right. About everything. Once in high school I brought home my girlfriend at the time for the first time, so first impressions and what have you, right, and my Mom stops me as we're leaving and in all seriousness warns me not to go into seaside caves at low tide. You were specifically right about that, Mom.


It could be that I'm watching Nick play Sonic Adventure 2 Battle for the Nintendo Gamecube. Jesus Christ, Nick, you're 19 years old.


My head doesn't hurt anymore. I was considering continuing this lie, but I can't do that. Not to you guys.  After all you've done for me.

Which leaves me in a pretty weird spot when it comes to this Classic Brian post.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Well, that's it, semester 3. Took my last final today. Woot.

Grades up in the air, life up in the air, rain up in the air, falling down, I'm not going home tonight. Or tomorrow. I'm sticking around a few days to tie up loose ends with friends and enjoy a few free days in Chambana that I thought I'd have experienced before the semester's end.

It was a busy semester, holy shit was it busy. I tried to read books, I tried to listen in classes, I tried to edit stories, I tried quite a few things. Once again the dynamic changed — with the influx of transfer friends — like the third season of an enticing television show. Life has this funny natural progression to it. The more you think you've solved things, the more you end up having to solve.

And so I am taking a couple days, Chambanning, and organizing myself, collecting my thoughts and my things before I go home for winter break. I look forward to it, but as usual I also feel a want to stay. I like my life here, it's occupied, explorable, and productive. My life at home is relaxed, easy, and slothlike. It's amazing how hard it is to choose between the two.

Shout out to Jing, Professor Unger, Rashard Mendenhall's aunt, and Lance for teaching me a bunch of cool shit this semester. Shout out to History, Journalism, and Black Women in U.S. Contemporary Society for being interesting and math for being easy this time around. To Kaplan and Jewf, for being really easy to work with, and all my writers, for not being a bunch of dicks. Especially Emily Bayci, with whom I am apparently no longer feuding, and actually reads this shit blog, often commenting to me how she likes people's posts other than mine. Shout out to Illini sports, there are more boring things out there, and Steve Jobs for being No. 1 celeb death this semester (which was a crucial moment for our football team, they've been winless since his death). Shout out to the Communications library, see you soon, and to my SHIT I NEED TO DO whiteboard, this is the first acknowledgment I've given you in weeks.

College is like, you have this stack of problems and you just do whatever. That's been my experience thus far. And, oh yeah, definitely don't be a math major.

--Eliot Sill


Today I took 6 hours worth of math exams. So.

Also I'm currently reading a book for physics I was supposed to have finished before Thanksgiving break, and all I have to say is space is really really cool. Like, you thought it was cool when you were little, and you were right. It's crazy cool. Oh, and there are satellites that measure gravity and can detect tunnels underground, like the ones from North Korea to South Korea big enough to fit a tank, and can give us a picture of the buried crater that resulted when an asteroid hit the Earth and killed all the dinosaurs!!!    !!!   !!!

Don't be a math major!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Nick - Overboard

I paced back and forth across my quarters, over and over again. I felt the rocking of the waves, gently bobbing the room and the ship up and down. I heard the faint whistling of the wind pushing vainly against the outside of the ship. I stopped and silently listened to the creaking of ropes and the clomping footsteps of what little of the crew was left at work above deck.

I was getting impatient.

I took my hat off, and placed it on my desk. I admired its grandeur. It was, truly, the perfect hat. And it was all mine. Because I am the captain, and this is the captain's hat.

The door of my room creaks open, and Argyle pokes his head in, his beady little eyes looking frightfully at me.

"You're late," I growl menacingly, "by the number of times I've refilled my lantern, I'd say I sent Gordon to go retrieve you more than two hours ago."

Argyle bobs into the room, Gordon carrying him in, completely off the ground, by the back of his shirt. Gordon drops him on the floor. Argyle says nothing, but he nervously fumbles with some papers as he unfolds them and spreads them out on my desk.

"We are, um, we are short," Argyle mumbles.

Argyle is the chef, and by extension, he is in charge of the storeroom. And he was supposed to give me the summary of the inventory days ago.

"Why are we short, Argyle?" He makes no response; he simply looks down at the floor nervously. "Is it because you've been sneaking food for yourself? Or using more for the crew, against MY ORDERS?"

The echo of my last words ring out in the small room. Still silence.

"Gordon," I say very quietly, "Throw him overboard."

I turn my back. I only hear Argyle's pathetic struggles as Gordon drags him above deck. The noise is brought to a halt by one faint splash punctuating the soft creaking of the ship.

I look to my compass, and see that it has swung from north to east. Why would he have changed direction? Why would he have changed directions when I, the captain, specifically said to head north? I march up to the deck, where Gordon is standing next to One-Eye, the navigator.

"One-Eye!" I shout as I approach the pair, "Why has our course been changed!?"

One-Eye turns his head to me slowly, as if thinking, as he always does. "Feelin' a storm." He says gruffly.

"And why wasn't I consulted!?"

"Didn't see the need," One-Eye responds, constantly in the same bored, uninterested tone.

"You didn't see the need? You didn't see the need to consult me, THE CAPTAIN?"

One-Eye's response is concise. "Eh," he says.

"Gordon," I say very quietly, "Throw him overboard."

Gordon looks at me, and then grabs One-Eye by the back of his shirt and drags him over to the edge of the ship. One-Eye doesn't really resist.

Gordon stands, looking at me. He doesn't move.

"Gordon. What is the hold up?" I say in my most dangerous, scathing tone.

"...He's the last one left."

I stand silently for awhile, looking back and forth at the empty ship.

"How dare you disobey a direct order."

I push Gordon into the water; he tumbles off the side of the ship, One-Eye falling quickly behind him.

I walk back down to my quarters. I pace back and forth, over and over again. I feel the rocking of the waves. I listen to the wind feebly rushing against the outside of the ship. I stop and listen to the complete silence coming from above deck.

I take my hat off and place it on my desk, right next to the compass, the arrow of which is now drifting slowly and aimlessly. Truly, this is the perfect hat. And it is all mine.

Because I am the captain, and this is the captain's hat.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Robert - DIE HARD

Spoiler Alert

Novelist Roderick Thorp decides a Christmas theme would be good for his new book, Die Hard. Hell yeah. That'll be an awesome edge, he says. He crafts a Christmas Eve backdrop that permeates the setting. Yeah, that's good. Eight months later, Thorp finishes his book and then realizes that he's completely forgotten to really incorporate the Christmas theme into the plot in any significant way. "Oh well," says Thorp, and he publishes his book anyway. Here's a synopsis.

The story begins with John McClane on a plane. A stranger advises John to curl his toes up into feet fists when he gets off the plane, to unwind the plane stress. The stranger never appears again. Much later in the movie, John heeds his advice for a slow ten seconds. The scene then immediately moves on and is utterly forgotten, providing no cause or effect on the plot whatsoever.

John arrives in what is eventually revealed to be LA. He is driven around town by a limousine driver, a rambunctious young black male who is given by far the most vivacious spirit of any character and sees plenty of camera time to display this. His role in the movie is first and foremost to get trapped inside the empty parking garage sealed off by Euro-terrorists and do absolutely nothing but sit still when the camera flashes back to him every five minutes or so. This eventually culminates in him punching an unarmed runt terrorist at the end of the movie and smiling goofily.

The terrorists. McClane enters the building, finds his estranged wife and immediately reseduces her just in time for a gang of 12 sophisticated terrorists led by Professor Snape to seal off every exit and entrance and shoot a lot of bullets into the ceiling. Their collective characterization is a hybrid between the heist finesse of Ocean's 11 and the Aryan blood lust of Drago from Rocky IV. After they infiltrate the building, murder countless guards, hack the mainframe, fire rocket launchers at the police, announce their international terrorist ties, wire the entire building with explosives, and demand the release of international prisoners, they finally reveal their ultimate evil plan to nick some money and hang out at the beach.

McClane, having studied guerrilla warfare superheroism in the NYPD's police academy, nonchalantly performs numerous feats that would make Nathan Drake from Uncharted 3 scoff in disbelief en route to stopping the bad guys. His intricate knowledge of elevator shafts, ventilator systems, and Macgyvering multiple grappling hooks out of AK-47s and fire hoses comes right out of Chapter 1 in New York's Intro to Policing textbooks.

McClane gets his hands on a walkie talkie that connects him to the terrorist leader Snape, police sergeant Al Powell, and somehow the limousine driver in the basement of the building. Powell is featured heavily throughout the movie, and he is in constant communications with McClane and continuously tries to counteract the LAPD police chief's recklessness. In the end, his effect on the actual plot itself is literally nothing at all, except to be a megaphone for blatant story exposition and a blank reflector for McClane's own character development. Like the limousine driver, he gets six seconds of limelight when he overcomes his uncommon police fear of excessive force by repeatedly shooting the last standing terrorist.

The plot itself. McClane spends about half of his alone time crawling stealthily through a building whose blueprints he understands startlingly well considering he's never been in it in his entire life. He spends the other half of his alone time screaming at the top of his lungs, throwing chairs through windows, or just shooting guns at nothing, usually managing to do all this without attracting the attention of the terrorists, who repeatedly trickle out assassins to kill him in easily defeatable groups of 1, 2, or in one instance 3. There's about a 15-minute period of brilliant plot where unarmed Professor Snape meets McClane face-to-face and tricks him by pretending to be a hostage, but the excellent dialogue that follows is quickly and smartly drowned out by a one-minute scene of Snape and long-haired Drago shooting about 30 clips of bullets into a panorama of glass panels. They then leave the scene, allowing the very murderable John McClane to meander away from his cornered position with nothing more than cut bare feet.

Soon after, McClane notices that Professor Snape has wired the entire roof with C4 plastic explosives. The purpose of the explosives, it is revealed, is to "make it appear as if the terrorists died so they can escape without being sought after by the government." Yeah okay, director John McTiernan.

What a bold move by the director to include this artful nuance into the film. Yeah that's a helicopter in there.
The movie ends shortly thereafter. McClane reunites with his hostage wife and drops Snape off the side of the building. The scene outside the building is one of jubilation, and we get an odd little world-slows-down, eye-contact-across-a-fast-crowd love moment between McClane and police sergeant Al Powell, who have actually never met before and have no way at all of being able to recognize each other visually. The oft-mentioned limo driver explodes out of the barred parking garage into the crowd, to little or no attention. He swings on over to John and his wife, who is sure to suffer worse injuries later that night than any one of the movie's villains, and he proceeds to drive off into the LA sunset, John Wayne-style, without even the possible thought of dire medical condition or sanctions for millions upon millions of dollars of unnecessary property damage.

Overall, 4.5 stars out of 5. A must-see.