The Writing Game

Over break Peter taught Tim and I this game, which, for lack of a better title, I call the writing game. It’s not really a game, in the sense of having a winner or loser, but it’s a good way to get people thinking and having fun (“hey guys, lets sit around and write short fiction” usually doesn’t work too well). The rules of the game are simple. One person picks the title. Another person picks the first sentence, and another person picks the last sentence. Then all the players have 10-30 minutes to write a story with the given title, first sentence, and last sentence. It really is fun, and it is my new favorite game to play. I haven’t written fiction in so long, and it felt really good to get my mind working in that way again. Below are some of the stories that I have written over the course of winter break. Enjoy.


“Big booty Hos!” The spearkers blasted the rude rap lyrics, base bass sounds falling dead against the walls of the darkened room. Sam shifted his gaze momentarily to the ray of light peeking through the closed shades of his windows before returning it back to the bare, colorless walls. He didn’t remember turning the radio on, hell, he didn’t even lik rap music, but it was better than silence. It seemed that was what filled his life now. Racous noise, any noise, anything to fill the silent void that seemt to have hung over his house, his life for almost a year. He listened as a note played, disrupting the song. He stopped and listened carefully. No, it wasn’t a note from the radio, it was the doorbell.

Sam slowly pshed himself off of his bed and trudged wearily down the stairs. The living room, like his bedroom, was still dead and shrouded in artificial darkness save for a few bands of light holding particles of dust captive in their rays. Captive, silent. The room was sterile, not the room of a young family, but like that of his grandparents when he had visited them long ago. The bell rang once more as Sam quickened his steps across the room and to the door. He opened it just as he saw a small green clad figure turning to leave down the porch steps.

“Hey, what do you want?” he called after her.

“Oh, someone’s home,” the young girl replied. “I wasn’t even sure if anyone even lived here.”

“Well, yeah, we live here,” Sam replied. “What’s up?”

“I’m selling snacks for my girl scout troop. Would you like to buy some? We have, umm, cookies, obviously, and some other stuff.”

“Do you really like to wear that uniform?” asked Sam.

“Well, not really,” blushed the girl, her eyes darting furtively as if her words had somehow betrayed some solemn vow. She smiled, “yeah, I guess its kinda goofy. It makes me feel like a little kid. I mean, I’m almost eleven. It’s ok though. A couple of my friends are in girl scouts with me and we have fun on camping trips and stuff.” “Umm,” she blushed again. “Sometimes we’ll go sneak off and hang out with the boys at other campsites. Last time one of the boys gave me a cigaretter, it was kind of gross. I didn’t really like it.”

“Well, smoking’s a bad hait,” Sam replied, the pack of Camels hidden in his pocket suddenly feeling heavier than lead. “You shouldn’t do it.”

“Yeah,” replied the girl.

“Yeah,” said Sam, smiling a little.

“So, umm, my mom is the one who usually buys this shi–, err stuff, but she’s not here right now,” said Sam.

“Oh,” replied the girl, pouting slightly.

“But, umm, what’s the cheapest thing you have?”

“Well,” said the girl, “there’s this cajun crunch mix. It’s only four dollars.”

“Ok, put me down for one of those,” he said, his hand fishing through his pocket for four crumpled bills. He handed the bills to the girl adn her pout now turned to a smile. “It’s so easy for them,” he thought, “no worries, no idea of what’s lying ahead, and no cares even if they did have an idea.”

“Thanks,” smiled the girl. “Hey,” she asked, “do you have a little sister my age or something? I saw a girl’s bike propped up against the garage.”

“No,” the boy paused, “that belonged to someone who used to live hear. I guess she just left it.”

“Oh,” replied the girl. “I guess I should get going. I still have a lot of stuff to sell if I want to go to camp this summer.”

“Okay,” said Sam. “It was nice meeting you.” “Oh yeah,” he called as she walked away, “stay away from those cigarettes.

Sam walked back into his house and shut the door. The room was dark and still once again. He walked towards the stairs but paused as he noticed a beam of light reflecting off of the glass covering of an embroidery piece hanging framed on the wall. It read, “From whence we have learned, the knowledge we have perceived to use in a world such as ours.”


So there I was, naked behind the strip club. Well, not completely naked, but it is doubtful that the ragged strips of cloth that now hung on my body would be considered clothes by anyone. My overcoat, the only article of clothing that had survived the incident intact was now covering the tiny, shivering, mass crouched behind the dumpster.

“Damn her,” I thought, “damn her to hell.”

I had often spoke ill of my college’s school paper. “Juvenile drivel!” I would often shout as the others in the lecture hall would roll their eyes or avert their glance. But when a friend finally became tired of my whining, she dared me to join the paper and do something about it. It was then that I realized how time consuming it is to publish a paper, drivel or not. The reviews of the awful bar bands, the openings of trite plays directed by anorexic black clad theatre majors, the petty debates over tuition hikes, that became my world for the quarter. It seemed there was little opportunity for muckraking at the school paper. Hell, this place was really as boring as we all complained. I wanted to write something powerful, something that would expose some great social injustice, some horrible wrong. Sure, there were things like binge drinking, cheating, probably things like rape too, but that was old-hat. Rather, it seems, that most of my peers had grown callous to these issues, as I myself had only smirked at the half-hearted attempts of past college journalists to decry these everyday attrocities. So, I was sitting at my desk in my room, trying to finish up some write-up of the football team’s latest victory when I got a call from Tom. Tom was one of my ex-fraternity brothers that I had known the last year before I decided that my 2.5 grade point average probably wouldn’t get me into even the most mediocre gradauate school.

“Hey Tom. What’s happening?” I asked in a bored tone.

“Aww, nawthing much,” he replied, his speech slow and slurred. “Whh-Whassup dawg, a hehe?”

“Not much,” I replied. It seemed even three years of higher education hadn’t made much of a mark on this boy.

“Umm, me an somofda guys, uhh, we were gonna go to that strip club in town, and I was like, hey why don’t I call Mark, he was always one for the ladies. So, choo wanna come?”

I sat for a moment. Now I’m no angel. I’ve fucked my share of girls and have sat impassionately through my share of porno movies, but had never been to a strip club. It always seemed too real for me. It was easy to watch the debauchery while on my couch, but it seemed that it would be harder to escape real images of flesh and lust. “What the hell, I’ll be over in 10.” I heard myself reply into the mouthpiece of the phone. Oh well, I thought. Maybe I could get a story out of it. “Ha,” I laughed to myself as I pictured the headline. “College males flock to local strip club.” Considering the content of our paper though, it could probably even get printed, at least on the back page.

I walked down the snowy streets of the town, branches lining the streets seeming like the arms and fingers of corpses. I quickened my step as I jammed my hands deeper into my coat pockets. Past the drugstore, the bookstore, the coffeehouse, all closed at this hour. I turned the corner, off the brightly lit street of cookie-cutter commercialism and walked a few blocks more, my mind noting the marked change in scenery that came with only a few hundred yards of distance. As I went over the crest of the hill I saw the old neon sign below. It read, “Live ude Gils”. As I neared the bar I noticed Tom and another boy I had known playfully punching each other and throwing snow. Tom noticed me and shouted, “hurry up you faggot, let’s go see some titties.” I stifled my laughter and went into the smoky bar. I looked around. The three of us were the youngest inhabitants of the bar by a good twenty years. Most of the men were old enough to be my father, hell, my grandfather even. I sat down as an overweight girl, fat spewing forth from her two sizes to small skirt, came to take our drink orders. I looked then, for the first time at the stage. It was a sad site indeed. The women on the stage was far from the breathless harlets of my pornography collection. No, she was older, at least thirty, beutiful once, to be sure, but her sorry form now telling a story of too many late nights and hard years. She moved slowly and deliberately, her slithering form and pouted lips almost a parody of eroticism. “Come on, take it off,” shouted a man, seemingly clad entirely in free Marlboro clothing, as he spilled beer on himself resulting in a fit of laughter. “Yeah,” spouted Tom’s friend, “take it all off.” Tom leaned over to me and said, appologetically, “don’t worry, it gets better. They always put the old bags on first, you’ll get to see some hot ass all right, just wait.” He looked at his friend again, and then they both started laughing, “Take it off baybeeee, take it all off.” The pumping, bad house music faded and the lights dimmed. I returned my gaze back to the stage as the men up front began to howl, their voices now no longer even reminiscent of the basest human instincts. Their voices were bestial, something less than human. As they whistled and laughed, a slight figure, wearing what, had it a few more yards of fabric, would have passed as a dark blue evening gown. She sauntered up to the pole in the middle of the stage and smiled viciously at the men in the front of the room. Quickly deftly, she straddled the pole and then spun rapidly around it, the gown somehow falling, as if it were liquid, from her pale flesh. As she turned again to face the meager audience her eyes burned with false passion. But as I looked, I noticed the fatigue behind the facade of lust. As she tossed her long blond hair and arched her back, thus forcing her prominent breasts to protrude even further to the delight of the old leches, and my companions, I came to a sudden realization. I knew this girl.

I didn’t even remember her name, but she had been in some of my classes freshmen year. She had struck me as odd. She wore the makeup and the designer clothes that were so popular of the prettier college girls, but at the same time, her gaze always maintained that strange intensity, that seriousness. It lacked the bored, blank, emptiness of many of the girls in the class, and also the flirtatiousness possessed by the rest as they stole glances at the football players carrying on in the back. I had even been to her dorm room as we had been assigned to work on some project together. I remember that she had ignored my attempts at gentility, she was all business.

I returned my gaze to her as she twisted and writhed in mock ecstacy, her form now completely naked, a small pile of bills already formed before her pulsating figure like an offering to some dark goddess. For a moment our eyes met, and I saw a look of shocked recognition, but it only lasted for a moment, before it turned to a sneer of contempt. I quickly averted my eyes, as did she before sprawling onto the floor of the stage, beckoning to one of the drooling audience members. “See,” spoke Tom, “I told you we’d get to see a nice piece of ass.” “Did you hit that shit?” asked his friend. “Naw,” he said, “but you better believe I’m gonna.” They both laughed. “What about you? I bet you would like to fuck her,” said Tom as he turned to me. I remained silent. “Ha,” laughed his friend, “I bet he’s just a faggot.” They both laughed. The music had stopped and a cadre of scantilly clad girls suddenly appeared to refill the glasses of the customers. “We’re going to go across the street and get some forties, this place is too damn expensive,” said Tom. “Yeah, some fotaayys,” giggled his friend in horribly done ebonics. “Ok,” I said, “I’ll wait here.”

“Suit yourself,” said Tom.

I got up and walked to the bathroom. I went to the sink and washed my hands. Suddenly feeling excessively dirty, I splashed water on my face. It didn’t do much good. I still felt dirty. I exited the bathroom and was rounding the corner when I ran into the girl who had just danced on stage. “Hey,” I said. “Do you remember me, I think we were in the same English class or something.”

“Oh,” she replied, her words dull and cold.

“You know,” I said, “most girls get a part time job at the library or the mall.”

“Well,” she said, her words still cold, but now twinged with a dangerous sharpness, “some girls don’t have parents who buy them SUVs for their birthday, and don’t give them cash so they can spend it galavanting around strip bars.”

“Ouch,” I thought as she pushed past me.

I returned to my table in the bar. Another girl was strutting up on the stage illiciting another round of whoops and cat calls. She was beutiful, but at the same time lifeless, plastic, like a real-life Barbie doll. Her eyes seemed to be little more than painted glass. They seemed to lack any emotion whatsoever, neither lust nor contempt.

I waited for another 15 minutes for my companions but they never returned. I paid the waitress, both for my drinks and theirs, and then turned toward the exit. I was almost to the door when, overcome by sudden embarresment, I turned and walked back trhough the bar to the rear exit. I openned the heavy metal door and as the door swung open, I was struck both with the harshness of the frigid air and with the sounds of drunken laughter breaking the silence of the night. I turned to see Tom and his friend standing over a body crouched against the wall.

“Come on, yeah give it to me. Yeah, I saw the way you were looking at me in there. I know you want it.” Tom panted, pressing the shuddering figure up against the wall.

“Leave her alone, lets get out of here,” I shouted.

“Oh, come on, we’re just having some fun. Aren’t we baby?” he grunted.

“I said leave her alone,” I said more forcefully this time. I moved towards them. “Walk away,” I thought. “Just walk away.” I kept moving towards them.

“Oh, I’m sorry, how rude of me,” Tom said as his friend broke into a series of guffaws. “I didn’t offer you any.” More laughter. “Do you want a turn on her? Sorry that you’ll be getting sloppy seconds, but I saw her first.”

“Get the fuck away from her,” I shouted, my steps turned to a jog.

“See,” laughed Tom’s friend, “I told you he was a faggot.”

I reached the group, and grabbed Tom, trying to move his massive form from off the girl. “What’s the problem faggot? You got a problem with a couple of guys just having some fun?” spouted Tom’s friend, drenching me in saliva and tobacco juice.

I didn’t even respond. I pushed him to the ground and becan to kick him. My blows falling heavy against his ribs, his neck, his head.

The panting behind me had stopped I turned and saw, to my horror, the girl from my class. Her lips parted, as if to scream, but no sound came forth. Tom turned to me, and spoke, suddenly sober, “hey, I thought we were friends.” I tried to block the blows which came next. I think I might have gotten some punches in. We must have rolled around a bit, among the filth and refuse of the gutter. I realy don’r remember. All I know is that I eventually blacked out before waking here. Broken, naked in an alley with a stripper shivering beneath my overcoat.

I turned and started running, cutting through the back alleys of the town, behind the halls where I would have my classes the next morning, hoping to god that I wouldn’t be spotted by someone I knew, or worse, by the campus police. “Well,” I thought, the journalism building standing cold and resolute as I darted past it, “this night would make one hell of a story.” “Frat boy rapes stripper.” The inside scoop, the story to lift the veil of innocence from our eyes, to expose us to the dirty secrets of our boring little town, our boring little collegiate lives. Then again, I thought, it probably wouldn’t even make the back page. There is, after all, a big game this week and the administration is talking of making a zero tollerance alcohol policy in the dorms. No, I thought, no matter how much we wish, no matter how we desire, things never turn out the way that we expect.


“Scooby Snacks are tasty.”

Or that’s what I thougt I heard from the back of the room. What the fuck is that? Some kid acting like a damn five year old trying to make some drug reffrence in the worst impression voice I’ve ever heard. I roll my eyes to the back of my head and hope that maybe this time they’ll stick there giving me an excuse to get out of this prison. Or, at least I wouldn’t have to look at Miss Carleson or her short skirts and makeup flashing smiles at the male students. I think hers is the only class where the jocks sit in the front of the room.

Unfortunately, my eyes do not stick in their sockets so I instead turn my head back into my textbook. Textbook, ha! At least that’s what Miss Carleson things. Instead, I employ a trick that I’ve been using since third grade and hide a paperback novel between the tired textbook pages, against the heards, obscenities, and doodles that would make Larry Flynn blusg. It almost makes the period bearable. It doesn’t matter how much authority little miss evil power master in hot pants thinks she wields, she hasn’t mastered mind control yet!

It’s hard to focus on my book amidst the buzz of the broken florescent lights. The dull white light and the dull white waslls and row after row of dull yellow desks dull my senses. Help! My brain is being sucked out. She is the evil power master and this is her torture chamber. If I don’t crack from boredom, I will surely find a way to commit ritual suicide if I hear one more bad Scooby-Doo impression. I can’t help but giggle out loud. The thought of that stupid bitch screaming her head off as my bloody corpse, number 2 pencil portruding from my jugular, slumps onto the desk, red blood filling the grooves of “Sarah Loves Tom,” and “FUCK Y,” etched into its surface is too much for me to resist. I must have laughed too loud because I hear her footsteps. She descends on me like a polar bear on a baby harp seal.

“What have we here, Barret?” she cackles. “Do you think you’re too good to read the assignment like the rest of the class?”

“No,” I mumble, “I just prefer to read something that isn’t comprehensible by my 8 year old sister.”

“Well then,” she smiles, her voice dripping with sacharine sweetness, “you are welcome to leave, young lady, but might I remind you that you will miss today’s quiz and that will seriously endanger your chances of getting your precious A in this class.”

Damn! I close the book taking care to mark my page, and slip it into my bookbag. I would love to stamp out of the room, flashing an insolent smile at the evil power master and her minions, but the risk is too great. That’s okay though. There will be other battles, and I will be victorious in the end. Through all this, I find one thing is true, life is full of choices.


I have a certain distaste for the vegetables of my youth. Cauliflower, brocolli, brussle sprouts, all those cursed foodstuffs that my mother forced upon me still disgust me as an adult. Indeed, I think it’s not just a hated food that persists from childhood to adulthood but many other things. Think what you will of Freud, but I think he was onto something. Surely, the person I am now is defined by the experiences of my childhood. Just like a fine piece of marble under a sculpters hands, once the first chips are made, there is no going back.

I remember that summer well. It was just as our small town had become a bedroom community for the major metropolitan area an hour south of us. Our small hamlet had become a boomtown with new houses, appearing, as if from thin air, on a daily basis with their strange, exciting inhabitants following shortly after. It was not only the new houses that were filled with these strangers, but the established neighborhoods as well.

It was mid-july when her family moved in. I recall peering through the slits in my blinds as the U-haul truck pulled up to the curb and the family station wagon pulled to a halt in its wake. She was second to exit the car and she took my breath away. I was only ten at the time, so my thoughts had not yet slipped into the depravity of male adolescence, but hers was a beauty that transcended sexuality, and unfortunately the years. I remember as she played in her yard, long black hair flowing behind her, the tall green grass in stark contrast to her dark skin. That memory, that fleeting vision of innocence will haunt me until my dying day.

Over the course of the summer, we became fast friends. Our parents didn’t talk much. Her father, an engineer recently immigrating from India was a small, terse man in sharp contrast to my own father, a large good natured man who worked at a local factory. Still, I went to her house often, romping through the odd new world with all its bizarre sights and strange new smells. I would show her my world as well. We spent many a summer afternoon amongst the crude tree forts or hideouts constructed of tires, logs, and rusted out oil cans. We would sit in the shade of this crude childhood architecture and talk for hours, her of her apprehensions for the rapidly approaching school term, I of my plans for baseball season. I was enchanted. I hung onto her every word. We rambled through our magical world. Like Adam and Eve lost in our own paradise. But as was the case in the biblical tale, our paradise came to an end. One week before school started, her family was gone, the house sold, my love gone. All my life I’ve searched for that lost innocence. And that is why I am a pedophile.


New Years Eve Madness

Though there was a big party going on in Columbus, I opted to spend my New Years eve in PA. I was going to get in an extra day of snowboarding, but Tim was lazy and didn’t want to go. Damn him. Luckily, I made some cash doing some computer work for a local family. That night I went over to Kevin’s for some good, clean fun. The other benefit of spending New Year’s Eve with Tim and his friends is that I don’t have to see any of my friends drunk. I just can’t bear it. Seeing drunk people just makes me incredibly sad. All of the things I like about people just doesn’t happen when they’re drunk. So, I spent the night having the kind of raucous immature fun that I really miss from my younger days. We started out by gorging ourselves on pizza. We then whipped out the trivial pursuit board. Tim, Kevin, and I whipped up on Peter, David, and Kevin’s brother adding another tarnishing loss to Peter’s trivial pursuit record. Then someone had the bright idea of going for a run through the neighborhood. We ran, slapped some stop signs, and Tim set off some firecrackers. It was fun, but left us all feeling a little quesy. After the run, it was back to the basement where we played some Tekken and Peter read from a choose your own adventure book called “War With The Evil Power Master”. At that point Tim came out in his long underwear, boxer shorts, a pillow case over his head, and a nerf weapon on his arm proclaiming, “I am the Evil Power Master.” I quickly ushered him back into the room and insisted that he let me write “Evil Power Master” on his t-shirt. He came out. We died laughing. Kevin took pictures. We then played some game that was similar to the 10,000 dollar (or whatever the heck the monetary value is, i don’t sit glued to the gameshow network) pyramid. It was fun, but we soon grew tired of it and instead decided to play the perenial classroom favorite, QUIET BALL! Well, our game wasn’t exactly quiet, and the game takes on an interesting new dimension when you play it fully grown (hurling footballs in close quarters gets a bit frightening) but it was big fun. I took pictures. We headed upstairs to watch the countdown on MTV while some bad butt rock band played and drunken girls slutted about on the screen. Tim and the kids ran out into the street at midnight and shouted happy new year into the cold night air. Then it was back to the basement to grab the arsenal and then out to the field across the street. Tim has somehow ammassed a pretty amazing collection of illegal fireworks and we had a load of fun shooting off mortars, bottle rockets, and roman candles. We also tried to use a ton of Black Cats to blow up David’s 3 Doors Down CD, but it didn’t work. Obviously 3 Doors Down has made a deal with the devil. After the minutes of mindless destruction we watched a pretty bad anime called Sin, laughed at amihotornot.com, played the writing game and then joked around for a while before I got super tired, remembered my impending 6 hour drive, and got David to drive me home. It was crazy fun, it was youthful, innocent fun and the most fun that I have had on new years in a long time.



This applies to 12/29/2000

This is written some days later from the 29th as the morning after the show, I was far too tired to think clearly enough to write anything. The night culminated in a late night car ride, thankfully snowless back to PA, returning to Carlisle at something like 5:30 AM. When I was hanging out with Patrick a few weeks ago, Andy came in and invited me to an upcoming Dismemberment Plan show. Andy was the kid who invited me to the first Plan show I ever went to, two summers ago in DC at Ft. Reno. At the time, I was completely unfamiliar with the band, but after seeing their excellent live show, they quickly became one of my favorite bands. So, I was quick to sign on to the offer to go see the Plan as well as the rocking band Les Savy Fav. Then when checking the Plan’s website, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was another opening band, Boston’s Cave In. As Travis from the Plan said at the show, it was a “crazy line up”. It is interesting to note that the Plan was playing the next night as well, this time with Enon and The Slackers. Another crazy bill. Thinking back, the best shows I have been to are the ones with the bizarre lineups, all bands providing a unique and different sound to move the kids.

We drove up early and hung out at the house of one of Andy’s friends before we hit the Tasty Diner in Silver Spring for some quick eats. I’m a big diner fan, and the Tasty has the cool old-school metal stylings that get marked up as an added bonus in my book. After that we went to the club and waited in line to get into the show. We met some of Andy’s friends at the show. I didn’t know anybody, but it was still fun to go to a show with a big posse of kids (something that, to my dismay, I never get to do at school). From the bantering, to the inside jokes, to the games of slapjack in the bitter cold, it was a refreshing experience.

Cave In played first, and I was blown away. They sounded like a completely different band from the two times that I had seen them last spring. Though still having an unconventional style, they had twice the vocals as last time and a somewhat less metal and more “rock” sound. It was fun watching them and seeing their musical transition firsthand. Though their prior sound was interesting, I like their new stuff somewhat better. I think it’s really a bold step musically as the hardcore kids which have been one of their staple audiences can be a bit intolerant of change.

Les Savy Fav played next. I saw them before when they toured with the Plan, and just like the first time, I was blown away. They play an interesting brand of post-punk rock and roll, which I can’t really describe very well. They sound good on the album, and they sound good live, but they are almost overshadowed musically by their stage performance. Their lead singer, in particular, is a maniac on stage. On this night, he stomped out in winter coat, mittens, and these insane teched out sneakers with like 5 inch soles. He shed the coat revealing this amazing t-shirt that said “Dance”. Their set was crazy and fun.

Standing next to Andy, it’s hard to call the Plan “my” band as he’s seen them something close to 20 times, but even from my short history going to Plan shows, it’s clear that they’re getting pretty popular. The show was more crowded than any Plan show I had been too, and it was very very disconcerting to hear statements like “I really want to see fucking Coal Chamber”, and “Remember the Snapcase pit at the Warped Tour, It fucking ruled!” (Remember, that’s not even “Snapcase ruled.” The “pit” “ruled”.) I guess it’s a double edged sword. I think its great that kids are listening to better music, but when they start jumping around like they were in the mosh pit at a bad butt metal show, one hopes that they learn a thing or two lest things go downhill quickly. Still, there were clearly a lot of devoted Plan fans at the show, and in my oppinion, the band did not disappoint. The reason I like the Plan so much, and the reason I like them live, especially, is that it always seems as though they are having a great time. Andy mentioned to me that they have largely been playing material off their last full length for the past couple of years, but from the shows I’ve seen, they seem to keep these great songs fresh and alive. I can’t do a very good job of describing the Plan’s music, but it transcends genre’s and labels. It is musically interesting and they do a great deal with different rhythms and time changes, but at the same time they have a very tight sense of melody, catchy, intelligent lyrics, and a great number of sing along choruses. Its weird going to a Plan show because they are one of the few bands that get the crowd genuinely dancing. That’s dancing without and prefix like slam or hardcore. It’s really bizarre at first, but eventually one can’t help but get into the groove. I had a great time at the show, and it left me exhausted for the car ride back to Carlisle.

We drove back, talking about music. Andy is pretty passionate about music and it’s always fun to hang out with him becuase he is always pushing the new bands that he’s heard and really enjoys. We talked about music and he played me a band called Don Caballero which is really, really good. We also talked about the central PA music scene, the bands we played in during high school and the difficulties of starting new bands before I conked out somewhere on rt. 15.



I think this applies to 12/26/2000

I hung out with peter and tim today. It was good fun. We went to the coffee shop and talked and worked on a project called The Big Media List. The Big Media List is a compilation of our favorite movies, music, and books, along with summaries and analysis of why we think its so good. I really like making lists. It was fun, just sitting around the coffee shop shouting out our favorite movie titles, and bickering about what should and should not make the list. My friends at school often seem dismayed about my quickness to argument, but Tim and Peter embrace this and we have big fun. A bit later Ms. Billick showed up. She is a number of years older than me, having graduated when I was still in jr. high. However, I played soccer with her oldest brother, and played in a band with her younger brother, and she was my younger brother’s favorite substitute teacher so we were well acquainted. She added a few additions to our list and then we jumped into trivial pursuit. It was a rousing game, full of smack talking and heated competition. My brother and Peter take such games seriously it seems. I got off to an early lead but Tim and Ms. Billick soon caught up. Peter, a previously undefeated TP player went scoreless for much of the game. In end, to Peter’s dismay, Tim stole the victory, but it didn’t much matter. It was good fun. We then hit up Taco Bell for some nourishment. Between Patrick and Tim, I’ve eaten at Taco Bell more in these past weeks than in the whole last year. No problem though, it makes it seem like old times. We all went back to my house and watched Blue Velvet, which Ms. Billick had recommended. Tim and Peter hated the movie, but it really grew on me. I wrote a review of it over at the big media list. After the movie, we hung out and talked, and Peter made us play the writing game, where one person picks a title, another a beginning sentance, and another a final sentance and all players have a given time limit to write a short story with the given title, beginning sentance, and ending sentance. After the game, we talked for a bit before Tim fell asleep and I drove Peter home.



I went snowboarding yesterday for the first time this season. While it was bitterly cold, the cool weather has allowed the resort to blow large quantities of man made snow over the substantial (at least for this time of year) natural snow we have received of late. As any skier knows more snow is always a good thing. The cold also seemed to keep the slopes relatively bare of other skiers making lift line non-existant. I was still a bit fatigued from the previous day and night’s foray to Philadelphia, but the cool air entering my lungs did a great deal to revive me. As I took the first run down the slope, I thought of one of the things I most love about sport. That is, the feeling of one’s body as it remembers how to peform a certain motion. There is the initial akwardness, the slipping of edges upon the ice before instinct, or rather years of prior repetition kicks in and balance is regained. The feeling is intense, slithering quickly between the moguls, making fast, sharp turns before exiting in a wide, sweeping turn leaving a mist of powder in your wake. I cut through all the slopes that I had boarded on so many times before, my body remembering their steepness and returning to the old lines found in seasons past. It was freedom, or as real and embodiment of such an abstract value as can be had for 16.20. It would have been significantly more were it not for the discount card I borrowed from my brother. As the card is officially non-transferrable, I thought that there might be a problem as the card has his picture on it. His solution, to simply tell the person at the ticket counter that the picture on the card was taken “before the accident!”

Unfortunately, the reason that I was able to use Tim’s card was that he was stuck at work. I tried calling my old bandmate and my ex-girlfriend, but Adam was financially strapped, and Lisa had to work. Snowboarding alone is a bit odd. Its certainly not as fun. The slopes, after the initial re-learning period, quickly lose their challenge, and its always more fun to have a buddy to start a race down the slope or challenge one to some large jump. At the smae time, riding alone gives one a lot of time to think when riding the lift. As I sat, my face wet from my running nose and the melting snow from the blowers, I found myself fixated on the move I had seen the day before, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Not only that, but I was fixated on one scene in particular. One of the key characters in the movie is the young daughter of a wealthy official. While seemingly living the traditional role of a young chinese girl, she secretly trained to become a martial arts master. In one scene, while traveling through the breathtaking Gobi desert, her caravan is attacked by bandits lead by a charismatic young horseman. He steals from her a jade comb, and she spends the next minutes of the movie chasing him down and attempting to pummel the shit out of him to reagain her comb. I wish that my friends could have seen this scene as they might better understand my insistence that, in rare occasions, violence is the only way to accurately express certain emotions or ideas and that sex is not the pinnacle of intimacy or some right of passage in a relationship. As soon as the drawn out chase/fight scene begins it is clear that the two combatants have the hots for each other. The scene is one of the single most erotic things I have ever seen. Action and violence seem to be the perfect expression of that excitement that one feels when one is deeply attracted to another person. Similarly that sense of competition, the sparring, the blood and the sweat exemplify what I feel the perfect relationship would be. No, not someone to kick me around, but someone who challenges me, someone who makes me want to be better than I am, someone who fascinates me and captivates me by her skill and prowess. Later in the movie, there is a more traditional love scene, but it seems (and I would thing purposely) anti-climactic. It is clear that the two characters have already discovered and explored each other in a way that transcends the traditional role of eroticism. Sexual activity is an afterthought, a formality, something paling in comparrison to a larger expression of love and admiration. Thinking about that scene, I realized “that is what I want, that is how I want to feel, that is how I want to fall in love.” And there have been times I have experienced something like that feeling. When I have been talking to a girl and felt challenged and envigorated and alive. However, it seems, instead of rising to the challenge of sparking something mutually exciting, I sketch out, freak out and act stupid, afraid of the way such a girl makes me feel impressed and excited. Other times, my thirst for that competition, that challenge, becomes twisted into animosity which is, obviously, completely counterproductive. I don’t know what the solution is, and I don’t know how I can stop myself from continually shooting myself in the foot. I do, however, from my frosty contemplation, have a heightened awareness of that which would make me truly happy. As images of cinema and wisps of memory combined, they formed, for a moment, an image of perfection and of perfect contentment. The question, I suppose, is whether this idealization is, in fact, able to be solidified in reality, and moreover, if I will allow it do so.



Originally Written 12.22.2000

Its rather late, and I just got in the door from a pretty darn epic day. My brother, along with two of his friends and myself spent a fun filled day in Philadelphia. The main objective of the day was to check out the newly released (at least in the states) martial arts film, Crouching Tiger, Hiden Dragon. While one might think it odd that we would drive so far just to see a movie, this film was well worth it. I love martial arts films, but this film really is one of the best I’ve seen in this genre. The fight scenes are choreographed by the same person who did the fight scenes for The Matrix. However, I feel that the fight scenes were far superior to those in the Matrix for two main reasons. The scenery used in the film is breathtaking. From ancient chinese villages to haunting deserts, to bamboo groves, these beautiful locations provide the perfect backdrop for the action. The second reason why the fight scenesare such a joy to watch is that the fighting seems to reflect the passion and the conflict of the actors. With a cast featuring such asian stars as Chow Yung Fat, Michelle Yeoh, and Zhang Ziyi the line between quality action and quality acting is a thin one indeed. The plot is also highly entertaining. It draws on elements of adventure movie, epic, and love story, even interspersing comedic segments. Watching the movie, I felt it ended far to soon. It was such a joy to watch. Again, the acting is incredible. I wish american action movies had plots and actors this good. This film had two of the best female protagonists I have ever seen in a movie in the action genre and it is really unfortunate that American movie producers can’t follow suit. Furthermore, issues such as violence and eroticism are done so passionately and tastefully it was really refreshing. While there are some mild love scenes involving one of the female protagonists, an action sequence proves to be the most erotic element in the movie. The action is simply staggering with minimum bloodbath factor and leaves one dizzy and amazed. If you see one movie this holiday season, this should be it. Drive two hours if you have to, its worth it.

In addition to seeing the movie, I got dinner at my favorite place in the whole world, the Singapore Vegetarian Kosher Chinese Restaurant in Chinatown. Good food, good service. Awesome.

After dinner, we went to a hardcore show. Schoolyard Bully played even though I heard a rumor they had been stuck in the south after their gear trailer broke down. I was glad to finally get to see this band, but they seemed a bit off fdue to the fact that they were using a replacement drummer. Dark Day Dawning played first and I thought they were pretty good. They’re from philly and played standard hardcore with some interesting melodic parts that reminded me a little of dillinger. Glasseater from FL played and they rocked really hard. Their punked-up hardcore was a nice acompanyment to the other bands who played that night. American Nightmare played an intense set, but I didn’t catch much of it as I was too busy trying not to get kicked in the head. Good Clean Fun played last. They were, well, good and fun. They played a number of my favorite songs like Coll-edge, A Song for the Ladies, Who Shares Wins, and the crowd was siging along for all of their set.

So yeah. It was a good time. A day I wish I could have over and over again.



Originally Written 12.21.2000

I’m running in total sleep deprivation mode and need to get some sleep soon. Last night was hella fun. In the afternoon, I gave my debate presentation for the hs kids. It went pretty well. Peter showed up and he was a big help as he was more familiar with the resolution and was able to give some concrete examples of the theory I was discussing. I think my presentation might have b52’d most of the kids, but hopefully it will at least give them some better perespective and exposure to some of the more challenging areas of debate so they won’t be defenseless in a round.

After that, I came home for a bit before I went out christmas shopping with one of my friends. We hit some of the book stores and toy stores and I was able to finish up much of my holiday shopping. It was pretty cool. My friend is a fun guy to hang out with regardless of the activity. Like tim and peter, he has such a huge knowledge base that any given event can prove to be the catalyst for a winding and interesting conversation. After shopping, we went back to panet and to taco bell for some late night pseudo-mexican cuisine. Aww-yeah. Its odd, my friend has such a repoir with people be it peers in his field or fast food workers at the taco bell, he can draw them into a conversation and be perfectly at ease doing so. In that respect its sort of exciting to hang out with because he is able to break down many of the barriers against communication that we as a society have built up thereby making life that tiny bit more like a richard scary book or something. After taco bell, we played zork for a bit. The thing about my friend is that he always seems to have a new passion or at least something new that has piqued his interest. This fact makes things unpredictable, interesting, and fun. His latest thing is this old-school, text-mode, role-playing/puzzle game called zork. The came takes natural language commands from the player to move the player through a virtual world where they player has to solve puzzles to navigate the realm and score points. Even for someone who was too young to really get into computer games before they were graphical masterpieces, I found the game instantly addictive. Unfortunately, I doubt I have the attention span to ever beat the game. We shall see, however, how that might change when I am back at school, looking for yet another reason to avoid doing work.

The other thing about zork that is cool, is that it is a good catalyst for discussions about how to extend the game, and for discussions concerning computers and natural languages and artificial intelligence in general. When this other employee who is also hella smart showed up, we had this great, just completely nerdcore conversation, and it was terriffic fun. We stayed up until the wee hours of the morning doing a system upgrade of some of the ISPs boxes and talking about various computer, programming, and logical topics. It was big fun. However, now it has left me rather tired. I need to go get some sleep because tomorrow I go off to Philly to watch crouching tiger hidden dragon, and to go to a hardcore show. More on this later …



Originally Written 12.21.2000

I was just thinking about hanging out with one of my friends a bit more. He went to a local university this quarter and absolutely hated it. When he first told me this, I jumped to the conclusion that it was just a cop out. He never really enjoyed school too much. However, his disdain for university life was very similar to what I am experiencing. That is, being fed up with frat boys and other sheep and being bummed out at the boring, homogenous culture that many universities offer. Luckily, my friend is going to the local community college until next fall and then transfering down to a much more liberal and hopefully more interesting school in north carolina.

That brings me to another interesting issue. When I talked to him about his experiences at college. He spoke with great disdain about the drinking scene at his school. This really took me aback. I mean this kid was one of the most hard-core drinkers I knew. Talking to him more, however made me realize a difference between kids who I grew up with and were friends with and came from Carlisle and most kids at universities. There was a good deal of drugs and alcohol growing up, and a lot of people, including many of my close friends, partook in these things. I think, however, coming from a small town, most kids who do drugs and alcohol do it because there really isn’t a whole lot that one can do. When the community could care less about the youth, when school gets boring that’s what some people turn to. The people I cared most about however, in my mind, never seemed to lose sight of the fact that there were better things to do than get smashed. There was skating, and music, or just crazy random fun of the kind that only really bored kids from small towns can come up with. When you go to college, you run into kids who drink for the sake of drinking. You run into kids who have convinced themselves that using drugs is the coolest thing in the world to do and who define their identities by that activity. The thing is though, most of these kids don’t know the first thing about substance abuse. I know kids who drank every day throughout the latter part of high school. I know kids who bit off a bit more than they could chew when it came to drugs. Most of the kids I know at college are just playing. They don’t know the first thing about drugs or booze. What they miss is that drugs aren’t something you do for the sake of doing. They’re a last resort. Even my friend who is by no means straight-edge recognized the stupidity of people drinking their way through college. Particularly for me, I mean, I go to school in a big city with a million and one things to do, and all a lot of college kids want to do is go out and get drunk or high. What the fuck? Why pay big bucks to go off to school to do something that you could do for next to nothing in a million and one rural towns across america? I don’t get it. College is supposed to be a time when you grow, when you have new exciting experiences in new strange places. When you have a chance to explore unencumberred by parents or teachers. But it seems like so many people are oblivious to that fact. It reminds me of when I went on a high school trip to europe. Some of the kids were trashed for most of the trip. I didn’t understand it. You paid thousands of bucks to go see this continent with such great art and such old, exciting cities and all you want to do is someting that you could do for 5 bucks back home? Its fucked up. I’m someone who hasn’t had a lot of exciting opportunities. I think of kids who went frequently to exotic places or went of too prep school and I am jealous. I have been around enough, and have had enough opportunity, however to understand that the world is a big, exciting place and that one ought to soak up everything they can in their short time allotted on this planet. That’s why I get so angry when I see people squander what is one of the few times in their life that they can be largely free doing something so banal as drinking or doing drugs. I just don’t get it.



Originally Written 12.18.2000

Got a call from my friend and ex-bandmate this afternoon. He wanted to have a bit of a Fallout reunion. Unfortunately, Alicia, the bass player is off studying art in Rome, and Mark, the drummer is busy working for a software company. So we got one of Adam’s friends to fill in on bass and Adam played drums. It was a good time. The playing was a bit sloppy, and I was embarrased at my lack of improvisational skill and overall technical proficiency with the guitar, but I still had fun. It’s amazing to just sit and watch these guys play. After the session, we went to another kid’s house and my friend brought along his guitar and played there as well. Growing up, there were always guitars everywhere and we would play and listen and sing. Hearing my friends play reminded me of that. Its crazy. Every time I hear them play it seems that they’re better and better.

Its odd seeing my friend again for the first time in 2 years. We were pretty tight, in fact he was the first kid I met in third grade when I moved to PA. However, after I got a girlfriend and went off to college, we grew apart. The cool, and slightly odd thing, which I’ve found to be universal to many of my experiences coming home, at least with friends, even old ones, is that there was no awkwardness. It was as though we just picked up where things left off 2 years ago. Certainly we’ve both changed and I was very surprised as my friend seems to have gained a heightened perspective on life. He’s back in school and making plans for the future which is really cool. I hate to see people get stuck in Carlisle when they have so much talent.

So after the jam session, we went over to another kid’s house (who I had also not talked too in years) and hung out, talked and watched some football. It was really cool and indicative of the social scene. These are kids that I knew, but was never super tight with, however there was no awkwardness and we spent a fun couple of hours doing what we always used to do, sitting around with nothing to do making the best of a boring town. A little later, one of my good friends showed up which was a definite bonus. Eventually, we got bored and left to try to find a fire in town that had been reported by the news. We didn’t find the fire, so we went to an all night diner and ate some food while talking about various goofy things. I really miss the charismatic, witty convesation that I had so often growing up and it was good to be able to just hang out like old times. This is really the first time that I’ve been home for more than a week in 2 years, and I’m glad that I got together with some of my friends. As we grew apart, I was really a bit afraid to get in touch with some of these kids because I didn’t want to deal with akwardness or have to face the fact that important friendships were completely over. However, tonight once agian supported a reality that I still have a difficult time accepting: its better to just confront potentially uncomfortable or painful situations. Sure, things could turn out bad, and one’s worst expectations could be confirmed, however avoiding such things also means that one misses out on a great number of things. I’m glad that I didn’t miss out tonight.



Went out with Tim and my mom to get a Christmas tree today. It took significantly less time than when we used to go with my father (he was a perfectionist who could never decide on the right tree). Tim and I wrote a haiku about the tree. Here it is:

norway spruce stands tall
pillar of forest beauty
bushy green phallus