25 December 2013

Did the Baby Wake?

The setting is Seattle, the weather meek and mild
The characters: A maiden, a man, and a child.

But wait! There's still one more, and our setup is complete
The maiden's jealous sister, whose name I won't repeat.

The sister was a witch (yes, it seems that we still have them)
The maiden was with child, but the witch's womb was barren.

The Warlock would not be pleased if he had not successors
So she devised a plan much akin to her ancestors.

She made a shopping trip to Pikes Place (yes, witches do this too)
To buy a few ingredients for a potion she would brew.

Some flying fish, some foreign dish, a busker man's dread-lock
And a couple soggy worms that she picked off from the side-walk

She threw it in her pot, she made it froth and foam
And did every single thing that you should not try at home.

When the vile stew had boiled, with an odor that would kill
She gathered the remains of it, and put it in a pill.

If you exit off of 405, and drive past WaSU college,
You'll find house 17, that's the man and maiden's cottage.

The witch dropped by one day, just to see how things were going
The maiden was not doing well, for the baby was still growing.

"Does it hurt, honey, when the baby grows inside?
Here, take this ibuprofen, I'm sure it will subside."

And when the time arrived for the baby to come out
He rushed her to the hospital, but the midwife was in doubt

Sweat trickled down the maiden's cheek, she writhed and groaned in pain
She pushed and pushed and pushed, but the baby never came.

"I'm sorry," said the doctor, "for you and for your wife.
The fetus that's inside her womb has shown no signs of life."

The man knelt by his mistress, and kissed her fevered head
The girl let out an anguished cry, "my baby boy is dead!"

Now this may seem fantastic, you'll have to take my word
The following stanzas are most dreadfully absurd.

He pressed his ear against her belly, and cried "his heart is beating!
Our baby is not dead, my love, he is only sleeping!"

"In every single family, you'll find this rascal pup
That lazy little child who simply won't get up!

His father tries, his sister tries, his brother tries it too,
But alas! No one in the family knows exactly what to do!

No living man on earth can arouse that sleepy head
A mother is the only one who can drag him out of bed!"

The maiden disbelieved it, but for his sake she tried
She whispered lovely things to the sleeping boy inside

Of happy summer days, of birthday cakes she'd bake
And countless other things they'd do if only he would wake

The games, the songs, the fairy-tales, the plates that he would break
And all the messes she'd clean up if only he would wake

The friends and enemies he'd meet, mistakes that he would make
And countless other tales to tell, if only he would wake

The wife that he would marry, the paths that he would take
Of all the life he had to live, if only he would wake

You have never seen a mother who has longed so much for pain!
If only he would kick and scream and be alive again!









Did the baby wake?








Did
 
The

Baby 



Wake?







And then I woke up.





16 December 2013

Why Militant Creationists are Stupid

This post is a bit of a mouthful. You might wanna take a break and go Christmas shopping halfway through. But if you read all of it and share your thoughts in the comments, it counts as a Christmas present. :)

You've probably heard the basic arguments against Darwinism:

-Life cannot come from non-life
-Nature is so complex it can't have evolved from chance
-Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to take a long walk off a short dock

That last one isn't exactly an argument, but it's a favorite from both sides of the debate. And here's a head's up, Darwinists. Every creationist argument is a variation of these three.

With that said, I have been less sympathetic to the creationist crowd than the atheists.  I am a Christian and have no intention of becoming anyone else, but there are sects of people (whom I will refer to as militant creationists) who are more antagonistic than their professed arch nemesis, namely Richard Dawkins.  Here's one example.

Probably the worst history course I took was World History in "Christian perspective".  The teacher was fine, but the textbook certainly shouldn't be on the shelves. From the very first page, I knew something was off. The first historical event discussed was the seven days of creation.

Guys, THAT IS NOT HISTORY.

Here's the dictionary definition of history:


his·to·ry
ˈhist(ə)rē/
noun
noun: history; plural noun: histories
  1. the study of past events, particularly in human affairs.

What's the emphasis here? Human affairs. Where were the humans during the seven days of creation? Who was there to record it?  Where were the eyewitnesses? Any historian will tell you that an event in which no humans were present cannot be taught as history. This is the first mistake of militant creationists: intelligent design cannot be proven.  No matter how many scientific references you find in the Bible, the Bible is not a science textbook.

So what do you call the seven-day story of creation? A myth.

That sounds a little weird coming from someone who believes in the Genesis account, I know.  But that's because we all have a skewed idea of Myth. Most people tend to think that mythology is for tales around the campfire and to get the cooks to go hunting for Sasquatch. Although it can be very useful in this respect, we've got to clear this misconception out of the way. What is a myth?

Here's the best definition I've found. Owen Barfield was a close friend of C.S. Lewis.  He was a huge inspiration for the Narnia books, and a brilliant writer and scholar. This is how he defines a myth:

“Myths congeal multiple levels of meaning from a time before there was any recognizable form of history into a single poetic narrative which has an intuitive correspondence with experienced reality transcending time.”  

In other words, myths are explanations of things that happen where no humans are present. In science, myths are called "indirect observation". We can't see atoms, but if we assume they exist, it explains the nature of things like fire and water.  Actually, the majority of things taught in science (the core of the earth, black holes, and everything in between) are explanations of things where humans are incapable of physically observing. By this definition, science is glorified mythology.

Now that's different than saying "Christianity is a myth" which many materialists like to proclaim. There were over 500 eyewitness accounts of Christ's resurrection, and men and women will still suffer the pain of death in his name 2000 years later. There is no question that Jesus existed and had a significant impact on world history. Even if you don't believe he was the Son of God, you cannot deny that he existed. Fairy-tales can last for millennia, but nobody, however deluded, would die for a fairy-tale.

But, back to the militant creationists. After this textbook came in teaching this myth as fact, they made a rather rude inference to evolutionists. The following pages were dedicated to "Evolution, humanism, and the destruction of man".

Is this snooty or what?

The writers claim that "this idea cannot explain the beginning of world history, and it gives a false impression of man".

Forget for a second whether this is true or not. The question you need to be asking is, "is this a sermon or a history textbook?"

This is the second mistake of militant creationists, of historical and scientific background: evolution cannot be disproved.

Evolution is also an explanation of something that happened outside of human experience; therefore, it is also a myth. You could say that the apes were eyewitness accounts, but then again, they had the unfortunate disadvantage of being apes. After all, the idea of writing things down did not occur to them till at least 40 million years later, nor do we have the liberty of sitting down for coffee with our ancient ancestors and debriefing the origin of our existence. (Evolutionists are equally guilty of teaching myth as fact, but that's for another post).

No matter how much evidence you find supporting either side, neither can be taught as fact. With that, let's move on.

After this textbook had sufficiently irked me, the writers went on to praise the great scientists like Isaac Newton, Galileo, and Albert Einstein--much less for their actual work than for their Christian faith (even though Einstein was most likely a deist).  Then, for some reason, they decided it was worth our time to dedicate an entire chapter on evolution, titled, in big bold letters, "DARWIN: A THREAT TO MODERN SCIENCE."

The opening paragraphs reads:
"Around the middle of the 19th century, a number of foolish errors arose from the failure of scientists and other men to keep their thinking in line with God's word. The error that was destined to affect the thought of great masses of people by the dawn of the 20th century and to detour many scientists from their true work was Charles Darwin's theory of evolution."

Every single sentence in this paragraph is dripping with groundless bias. "Foolish errors", "detour" and "their true work" are all subjective statements, and here they are being taught like the law of gravity.

Read on:

"Darwin did not possess the intellectual gifts that helped to make the great founders of modern science remarkable. 'I believe that I was considered by all my masters and by my father as a very ordinary boy,' he wrote, ' rather below the common standard in intellect.'"


They go on to insinuate that Darwin was an idiot because he didn't like math. Darwin writes, "I attempted at mathematics, but I got on very slowly. The work was repugnant to me, chiefly from my not being able to see any meaning in the early steps of algebra." The historian writes:

"Without ability in mathematics, Darwin lacked the chief tool of the great scientists."

Again, forget whether the statement is true are not.  The problem is that they are using this as an attack on his credibility and intelligence. In other words, because Darwin was an ordinary boy, he was obviously incapable of any contribution to science.  When I read that, this is what I saw:

"Well kids, if you don't have an unnaturally augmented brain like Einstein and can't do trig problems in your sleep, you might as well give up on making a difference in the world, because only the prodigies and geniuses are useful to us."

Even if Darwin's mathematical inadequacy did affect his scientific career, Christians have no right to talk. David was a shepherd.  Gideon had never fought in his life. Moses couldn't speak in public. Jesus Christ was a carpenter's son.  Militant creationists will loudly proclaim that "God uses ordinary people to accomplish His purposes" but dismiss Darwin because he was "ordinary".

Militant Creationist Mistake Number Three.

With that said, Darwin made some profound and scientifically sound observations on his trip the Galapagos Islands. Animals do adapt and evolve in accordance with their environment. Stronger species do stamp out the weaker species. Evolution and natural selection does, in fact, happen.  Whether this explains the origin of man is a different story. Like the account of Jesus, you cannot deny that it exists, and like the account of Jesus, Darwin's conclusion must be taken on faith.

So there you go. That's three reasons why militant creationists are stupid.  You could say that I simply got a bad history textbook, but I could have give you several more examples from other curriculums or conferences I've visited, that all express the same ideas. I found this history textbook the most concentrated example of those ideas.  Understand, I believe that every single atom in creation points towards an intelligent Creator. I could go on to say why atheism is stupid too, but...I'll leave that to the militant creationists.


-The Minstrel Boy

(Next post is a continuation on the flip-side of the subject and a followup of "A Fault in the Soul", which has received some confusion and warrants elaboration.)

12 December 2013

A Non-Subjective Song about Humans and Other News


 YAY FINALS IS OVER AND I CAN MAKE ART AGAIN!!!




First try at sound mixing. Don't throw up. (And thanks to John-Luke for telling me that the ocarina was out of tune).

Inspiration goes to  Hard Times by Charles Dickens and my frustration with Bellevue College.

"Louisa was impelled to throw herself upon his breast, and give him the pent-up confidences of her heart. But, see to it, Thomas Gradgrind must have overleaped at a bound the artificial barriers he had for many years been erecting, between himself and all those subtle essences of humanity which will elude the utmost cunning of algebra until the last trumpet ever to be sounded shall blow even algebra to wreck."

 Also, a drawing about the human condition:


Are you scared? You should be. This is a scary drawing. It's probably the scariest thing you'll ever see on this blog. 

 And need I inform you that HANNAH IS COMING HOME IN FOUR DAYS.  Anyone who wants to come over and party is welcome.  Right now I'm trying to find a seamstress to make a Hannah-sized dress that looks like this:


Which is a marionette puppet I bought from the Czech Republic (only 40 bucks!! wowzers!!) along with THIS little rascal:


I call him a rascal because he took a week to get him untangled. In case you've been wondering, I'm working on a music video, which will hopefully be coming out this Christmas, including but not limited to marionette puppets and Hannah-sized dresses.


 Sometime I'll post videos of the speeches I've been competing with this year. They're loads of fun. Anyway, I'm off! Have a great Christmas y'all! Swing by here sometime, will ya? 

-The Minstrel Boy




26 November 2013

The log in your i


Matthew 7:3
"Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?"

I should have read this before I took the test.


20 November 2013

The Begin Button

I close my eyes and slowly breath in
And say "Wake me up when I'm awake again."
When I'm done giving up and I'm done giving in
I'll push the red button labeled "begin."

Although it's not quite as red
As the clergyman said
The batteries dead
And the parts not included

When running on reruns
(Because people are lazy)
Then pushing red buttons
Isn't actually that easy

Said some total jerk
That life isn't tough
And I could get it to work
If I push it enough

Have you ever fought?
Have you been in the grime?
Do you think life can be bought
For $1.99?

I've come to the conclusion
That there is pushing involved
But the big red button
Is not, I've resolved.

26 October 2013

I AM ALIVE




Something that interrupted my music theory homework today. I actually don't know if the fellow is a boy a girl. But wherever he/she is, it's where I wanna be.






Burn the land
Boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me

-The Minstrel Boy

18 October 2013

Who's afraid?

Made for my sister, who's at Wheaton now, and this happens to be her birthday.



After all, who's afraid of a drooling girl-eating monster? I'm not.

Love you Hannah.

07 October 2013

Looking for the Perfect Fit (and not finding it)

As usual, I'm about to give advice on something I know nothing about. But I've been around long enough to be convinced that I am right.

Now that we've reached the 21st century and we're practically at the pinnacle of human evolution, people are pretty sure that they've got life figured out.  If you want to be successful and happy, find the schtick you love and don't stop doing it till the day you die. To those who actually succeed in getting their dream-job, their dream-spouse, their dream-home, and their dream-car, we have only one thing to say:

"You're lucky."

As if superlative happiness can only be enjoyed by those select few to whom things just "work out" for.  What I've heard more than anything in reference to a successful marriage is "I'm so glad it worked out for you." Aren't you a lucky duck? After all, happy marriages don't just happen to anyone.

What our culture is telling you is that if you just find the standard of living that suits you perfectly, you can live up to your fullest potential as a human being.  I know so many high-school seniors who squirm and fret over all the countless colleges to choose from, because somewhere in the back of their minds they are convinced that if they choose the wrong one, they're screwed for life.

Colleges know this too. After I took the PSAT, my inbox got swamped with all sorts of spam from universities saying things like "Joseph, University of Montana wants YOU!" and "Tulane needs UNIQUE talent!" and so on and so forth. One of them wanted me to fill out a personality quiz so that their supercomputer could match me up to the "college of my choice".  And how does my personality have anything to do with this?

Not to mention that there are well over two-hundred majors and careers to choose from, and you are told that somewhere, somewhere buried deep in that pile of knowledge, there is one path that was made just for you.  It's your THING, and if you look hard enough, you'll find it.

The same mind-set is behind modern courtship. Take online dating. You're asked to set up a profile for yourself. Punch in your hobbies, your likes, dislikes, your political views, and click, click, click! You're paired up with somebody on the other side of the world who happened to punch in the same thing.  And then people start doing a little jig in front of their computer screen saying "She's the one! She's the one for me!" Predestination at its finest.

But it doesn't work. My sister Hannah was elated when she got a job teaching both piano and gymnastics. It was two of the things she loved best, and now she was getting paid for it. It was the perfect deal.

But it didn't turn out that way.  Later she told me, "there's something you lose when you get paid to do something you love. It's no longer something you love. It's work."

And so it is. Don't get me wrong, Hannah still loves piano and she still loves gymnastics.  And yes, she'd be a much happier pianist then she would be a dentist.  ("Open wide now"...gzzzzzz gzzzzzzz!--I personally don't see how anyone could have fun doing that). But don't start thinking that "doing what you love" means fun and games for the rest of your life.  God cursed Adam to toil and sweat, and if we're not toiling and sweating, we're not really working.

Perhaps the earlier generation was on to something when they put duty before choice.  Back when a girl married not because it ensured her personal happiness, but because she did what was best for her family. Back when boys became farmers not because they wanted to, but because their fathers were farmers before them.  Am I suggesting we try to live the way they did back then? No.  But maybe choosing the perfect college isn't as big a deal as we thought it was.

If we're expecting the world to give us what we want, we're expecting too much.  Our sustenance comes from Christ alone--if we're counting on anything else for that sustenance, we're only going to be disappointed.

So what do we base our choices on? I haven't lived long enough to test my theory, but here's what I think. I think we'd all be a lot better off if we're looked for a complete education rather than a specialized one, a sturdy house rather than an expensive one, and a good spouse rather than the "right" one. Not the one that is right for us, but the one that is right whether we like it or not. The rest, I think, is up to God.

-The Minstrel Boy


07 September 2013

~In Which~ The Minstrel Boy tells a lovely little tale to Christopher Robin

The Minstrel Boy: Time for bed now, Christopher Robin.
Christopher Robin: Mr. Milne lets me go to bed at 8:00. It's only 7:30!
TMB: Well Mr. Milne's not here. Get to bed and I'll tell you a story.
CR: Are you going to tell me how Eeyore got his tail back?
TMB: No. That is strictly Mr. Milne's property, any expansion thereof would be copyright infringement.
CR: Technically I'm copyright infringement too, but whatever.
TMB: Hush now. I'm telling my story.

In a very distant galaxy, there lived a boy. His name was Rockie McDowell.






CR: He looks like you.
TMB: Shut up.
CR: He looks like you at a speech tournament.
TMB: He has blue eyes. There's a difference.
CR: You just wish you had blue eyes.
TMB: That's not true! Anyway, he doesn't look like me.
CR: Whatever. Where did he live?
TMB: A distant planet in the milky way. It was called--
CR: You said it was in a distant galaxy. A very long, long time ago too, I suppose?
TMB: Since when were you such a snoot?
CR: Since Disney.
TMB: You know, I think all this publicity is getting to your head. Where'd your childhood go?
CR: All they do nowadays is mooch off of Pixar movies and sell pink backpacks for six-year-olds with Miley Cyrus's face on it.
TMB: That's a harsh way of putting it, but I can't exactly argue.
CR: My point is made. Get on with the story.
TMB: *Ahem* Rockie McDowell lived on a very far away planet. It was called Planet Mundae. It looked like this:

CR: Planet Mundie?
TMB: No, Planet Mundae. It's pronounced like Monday.
CR: Then why isn't it spelled that way!?
TMB: Because it's Old English.
CR: Oh.
TMB:  This is what it looked like from far away:


Planet Mundae is not exciting.  All they ever do is brush their teeth. All they ever eat is oatmeal, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


CR: Why does he have a balloon?
TMB: I'm getting to that.

It is always cloudy.

There is no fun, there is no sun.
There are no trees, there is no breeze.

It is always wet.

All the Mundaneans carry umbrellas, even though it never rains.


Except for Rockie. He carried a balloon.
CR: Haha, I see what you did there. Mundane-eans.
TMB: Now you're catching the vision.

Rockie was different from the other boys. He would go to the library and come out with dozens of books. He loved books. He would read fantastic stories about strange and lovely things...
CR: What?! The Legend of the Sunny Afternoon? Sandwiches and other Exotic Foods? What's so fantastic about that?
TMB: Exactly. This should give you an idea of just how boring Planet Mundae was.

The other boys thought he was silly. His parents were worried.

"Now there, Rockie," they would tell him. "You know very well there is no such thing as sunny afternoons, or rain, or trees. This world is all there is."

Rockie knew there just HAD to be a world outside of Planet Mundae.

 CR: You know, that reminds me of that quote by C.S. Lewis: ""If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
TMB: You're a clever little sucker.

But things were about to change for Rockie. For on the other side of the Milky Way, there lived a girl named Isabelle Merriam Dandelion.




CR: Why did I have a feeling she was going to be a redhead?
TMB: REDHEADS ARE AWESOME YOU CAN'T TOUCH THIS!!!!!!

She lived on a planet called Planet Impossible. It looks like THIS:





 CR: I didn't know "Amazing" was a sound effect...
TMB: And how sweet a sound it is.


On Planet Impossible there are thunderstorms, sunshine, and purple clouds. People there eat dinosaur eggs for breakfast. It's very dangerous.




To travel, they hitch-hike on tornadoes.




 CR: But they'll have no idea where they're going!
TMB: Exactly. This should give you an idea of just how exciting Planet Impossible is.

Isabelle was a very ordinary girl. She helped her mother and took care of the younger ones. Her family lived in the wildflower meadow. She was very happy.



CR: You stopped coloring them.
TMB: You try using acrylics.


And so it happened that for the first time in 250 million years, the the orbits of Planet Mundae and Planet Impossible began to draw closer to each other....


And closer...


and CLOSER....


 Rockie was walking to school one morning when an enormous shadow passed over him.



He looked up....

There was Planet Impossible, bursting through the clouds and rolling past, right above Planet Mundae!!

CR: LENS FLARE!!!!!
TMB: I KNOW RIGHT!!!!

 As Rockie stared up in wonder, he saw a girl. That girl was Isabelle. Just at that moment she looked up. She saw Rockie.

Without knowing it, Rockie let go of his balloon. It sailed up, up, up...


And down, down down....


Christopher Robin: Then what!?
The Minstrel Boy: [smiling] Then what. [turns out lights]
Christopher Robin: What happened to Rockie? Did he get to live with Isabelle on Planet Impossible?
The Minstrel Boy: Maybe.
Christopher Robin: You know, I kinda feel like this is some jacked up metaphor for your life.
The Minstrel Boy: It is.
Christopher Robin: I like it.
The Minstrel Boy: Me too.
Christopher Robin: When do you start school?
The Minstrel Boy: September 23rd. I'll be pretty busy.  Speech and debate, music theory, pre-calc, chemistry, Chinese, history...it's a heavy load.
Christopher Robin: You'll come back, right, and finish the story?
The Minstrel Boy: Of course. As long as you promise to never grow up.
Christopher Robin: Don't worry. I'll be here.
The Minstrel Boy: Goodnight, Christopher Robin.
Christopher Robin: Goodnight, Minstrel Boy.

[CURTAIN]



28 August 2013

Now and For Always.

This is this most beautiful thing I could ever fathom. As far as I'm concerned, this is what Lord of the Rings was ever about.  It brought tears when I read it, and it brings tears when I hear this.  This kind of friendship is immortal and invincible and indestructible.  It's now and for always.



[SAM]
Sing me a story of heroes of the Shire
Muddling through, brave and true
Stubborn as bindweed and tough as old brier
Never too showy or grand
Year after year they persevere
Now and for always
Harfoots who planted, and Stoor folk who ploughed
Bred to endure, slow but sure
Fallohide blood in your veins makes you proud
Sturdy and steady they stand
True to their aim to stay the same
Now and for always

[FRODO & SAM]
Sit by the firelight's glow
Tell us an old tale we know
Tell of adventures strange and rare
Never to change
Ever to share
Stories we tell will cast their spell
Now and for always

[SAM]
Sing me a story of Frodo and the ring
Fearless and bold
[FRODO]
Tired and cold
[SAM]
Sword at his side
An elf blade called sting
Crossing a miserable land
Wouldn't retreat
Just followed his feet
Now and for always

[FRODO & SAM]
Sit by the firelight's glow
Tell us an old tale we know
Tell of adventures strange and rare
Never to change
Ever to share
Stories we tell will cast their spell
Now and for always

[FRODO]
Sing me a tale of the bravest of them all
Comrade and guide, at my side
Stouthearted Sam who wouldn't let me fall
Holding my life in his hand
True to the end, no finer friend
Now and for always

[FRODO & SAM]
Sit by the firelight's glow
Tell us an old tale we know
Tell of adventures strange and rare
Never to change
Ever to share
Stories we tell will cast their spell
Now and for always

13 August 2013

Suspension

So my sister Hannah just left for Wheaton College in Illinois.  She's majoring in piano pedagogy, or piano teaching in layman's terms, which is what she's been playing since she could talk. She once told me her favorite chord on the piano was the "suspension chord", which if you're a layman like me, it's really hard to explain unless you hear it. But it sounds like it's name. You know, suspended. Unresolved. She loved that chord because that's what she felt like, just sitting on the precipice, knowing the resolution was coming but not knowing exactly how. Well, it's a weird emotion to explain. I wrote this song for her. Maybe you'll understand what I mean.





(I know the sound overdrive is atrocious, trust me, it didn't sound that bad in real life...maybe I'll record it again sometime...)


 Verse 1:

Hello Mr. I-Don’t-Know
It’s time to face your age-old foe
Oh I know I kept you waiting
But today there’s no debating

Hello Mr. Apathy
I’ve been writing a rhapsody
You took away my heat and you talked to me sleep
But today I’m waking up

Listen close now, to that infinite sound
The water-drop note before you hit the ground
A heartbeat strung in the upbeat song
Before the number sing along



(Chorus)

Cannonball out of the nowhere-zone
You’re on your own, far away from home
Cannonball into the great unknown
We’ll build our wings as we take off

You’re suspended in midair
Oh yeah, I’ll meet you there
Where the flowers are bloomin’, your friends all singin’
Na na na na na

You’re sailing in the dark
Sail brave, you’re Joan of Arc
So don’t you stop till she sinks to the rocks
Na na na na na

Verse 2:

Yeah you’ll know it when you hear it
It’s the calm before the storm hits
After the verse, before the chorus
There’s a promise waiting for us

Like Moses facing Pharaoh
Or the whistle of a thousand arrows
Like dawn’s light growing hotter
Or silence underwater

(Chorus)

Verse 3:

I can’t answer Mr. I-Don’t-Know
That doesn’t mean that I won’t go
It’s the tipping point in history
The fall of Mr. Apathy


Listen close now, to that infinite sound
The water-drop note before you hit the ground
A heartbeat strung in the upbeat song
Before the number sing along

(Chorus)


-The Minstrel Boy

08 August 2013

Because no matter where you are, no matter how lonely you are, the same stars will be shining down on you, like memories burning an infinity away

Here's something my friend Nathan wrote, about a summer night not very long ago. Read it, and then go to his blog and read his poem and other diddles of his that are coming later. 

***

My friends and I used to lie on the grass in the middle of the night and name the stars after people. We’re teenage boys, so most of the stars ended up being girls, but that’s beside the point. It’s been a while since those nights, but recently the idea of naming the stars came back to me. It came back to me in the midst of graduation parties and conversations about colleges and the realization that many of my friends are moving on. Almost all of them are older than me, so I’m kind of left behind with two more years of high school to finish.

Anyway, back to the stars. I like the idea of all those stars being named after people I know. Because no matter where you are, no matter how lonely you are, the same stars will be shining down on you, like memories burning an infinity away. You’ll meet new people and it’s likely you’ll forget about others, but either way you’ll all be jumbled together in those constellations of faces, living and smiling and crying in some kind of galactic dance.

Think of a sailor out on the open sea. The night is reflected on the waters; he’s sailing on stars. But this sailor is lost. He doesn't know how to get home. He can see all the faces waiting for him there. Maybe they can even guide him back. But either way, they are there. That’s the only thing that matters. They are there. He can always look up to the sky and see a swirl of forgotten days shining down on him.

Imagine that your life is just one night, one night with all those stars. The morning will come sooner than you think. The sun will rise, the sky will turn light, and everything in that twinkling canopy of night will fade away. This might be your only chance.

Your only chance to do what? I don’t know. But I hope you will know it when you come across it. And when you do, jump out and take hold of it and don’t let go. It might seem awkward, it might seem impossible, but it will be worth it in the end. When the sun comes up, you’ll be glad you jumped.

I don’t really know what I’m trying to get at, and I didn't write this post with the intention of presenting some kind of motivational, blatantly allegorical “live-your-life-to-the-fullest” mantra, but I think it’s something like this: pretend like all you've got is that one night. This is your only chance to name new stars. This is your only chance to remember old ones. Just stop messing around and go for it. No matter what happens, the sun will still arrive on time. 


07 August 2013

AHAHAHYAHDAHHARMANICABANJOHAHAHAHAHAHA

Found this guy off the street and asked him to play this dumb song with me. He had a harmonica stuck in his mouth so all he could say was "fhhththhuuuuuh!" But he said it so eloquently I took it as a yes.






01 August 2013

Elise

There once was a widow
Who spent what she earned
On one boy and three little girls
She went into town to buy some bread dough
And the widow never returned

No one gave a damn for her family
Or the debts that she had to meet
There was Michael, Renae, and little Margie
And the eldest one's name was Elise

Elise was thirteen when the widow left for bread
And the farm was her own to run
For the widow once said "Oh Elise, when I'm dead
Take care of the younger ones."

To the girls she said with trembling lips
That Momma had gone on a very long trip
But Michael had outgrown the fortunes of youth
To him Elise told the truth

Her soul was serene for a girl of thirteen
Her spirit was fierce as a bear
Pushing the plough and milking the cow
And brushing little Margie's hair

She kept in the heat and she kept the house neat
She was the queen of absolutes
When Michael came in, she said "Take off those boots
And wipe off those filthy feet."

And when Renae cried
She sang lullabies
The songs of her mother before
Till the tears crystalized
In her tired grey eyes
And Elise fell asleep on the floor

No one gave a damn for her family
Or the debts that she had to meet
Before the sunlight poured in
She was at it again
The virgin mother of three
 

She was a simple mind, and left no one behind
When the economy forced them to run
She just shook her head, for her mother had said
"Take care of the younger ones."

She was the same woman still
When they reached Hooverville
To the children who had lost their homes
For now she realized that her mother's demise
Did not just apply to her own

Well the widow never mentioned
This unplanned extension
Of whose mother Elise would become
Elise shook her head, for her mother only said
"Take care of the younger ones."

She fed and she washed and she cleaned
Just like she did at thirteen
When she raised Michael, Renae, and Margie at four
Though now she raised twenty-three more

Word spread far of the young maiden
With gold hair and twinkling grey eyes
Who looked after all the children
Whose courage was love in disguise

She was nineteen when he entered the scene
Awakening her with desire
She never dismissed her mother's last wish
But her heart still had room for a lover

Said Jack, "Elise, I've watched you
I've seen no one like you before
If you can love twenty-seven
Do you think you could love one more?"

Said Elise,"Dear Jack, as sure as the sun
Of course I can do it again
If I can be the virgin mother of twenty-seven
I can be the mother of one."

Elise remembered the words of the widow
"Take care of the younger ones."
But twenty-eight was one too many
And she died giving birth to her son

I know that by the strength of her life
She would have raised me well
She would have made a wonderful wife
If death hadn't rung his knell

Long before the war had ended
A greater battle was won
A thirteen year old had so bravely contended
To take care of the younger ones.


16 July 2013

Hey guys, remember Julian Smith?  He made funny videos where he died in nearly every single one. And I died too. Then he stopped making them for like two years and I figured the glory days had ended.

BUT HE'S BACK AND APPARENTLY HE'S STILL A GENIUS.  It's totally different from anything he's ever made and it surpasses all.  And the world must see it. I haven't been so blown away since I don't know how long.








 If you're me, you've already watched this ten more times.
-The Minstrel Boy


04 July 2013

If you were me

Life seems to be just as it ought
That you are you, and I am not
Our paths are laid, for good or ill
Conveniently within God's will

Say, perhaps, it was our lot
That I was you, and you were not
Say, one day, we woke up in
The body of the others' skin?

Not to mention different faces
We'd have tans in different places
I'd even have to shave your beard
And brush your teeth, oh gosh that's weird.

Maybe, first, I'd call up you
And say "What's up?" the way you do
You'd say, "It's 5:00! I'm not awake
Enough to go fishing in the lake!"

And I'd be like "Chill out, dude,
Do I always wake up in this mood?"
Says you "I sure would" (the proverbial me)
"If I always drank this disgusting tea."

"Wow, I can do WAY more reps!"
"How do you LIVE with these biceps?"
"I didn't know you owned a car!"
"I didn't know you played guitar!"
"Wait a minute, who is this girl?"
"Are you poking in my journal?"

I'd have fun, and you would too
If you were me, and I was you
But eventually, we'd drop the act
And we'd both scream "I want me back!
I don't like me from this end
I'd much prefer to be your friend!"


02 July 2013

To boyhood






And may it never end.



Question is, would you rather be the girls getting chased away with wooden swords and shot in the face with plunger arrows, or would you rather be the boys who have all the fun and then get grounded for a month?  The girls still win. They always do. 

But I would rather be the boy. Always.

27 June 2013

Consistency

I wrote a story a while back about a salesman who tricked the world into never letting anything grow old.  It was a little abstract, so I'm going to explain it.

My friend Laura once went to an art museum with modern paintings. If you've ever been to a modern art museum, you probably saw a painting or two that you were sure was made by your two-year-old brother.  Anyway, she found this one that was literally a white sheet of paper with a straight line drawn across it. She asked the guide, "hey, what's the point of this one?"

And this is what he said. This is really what he said.

"There is no point."

She asked, "then what is it doing here?"

"Because it's art. The artist conceived the idea in his head and took the time to create something beautiful. We'll never know what his original intentions were, we simply enjoy the art he created."

Someone took the time to draw a line across a sheet of paper. I took the time to go to the bathroom this morning. Does anyone want to frame that on the wall?

I took a Critical Reading class last winter at Bellevue College,  where we read articles and books by a woman who called herself a "science fiction" writer but was really a political activist with a weird imagination.  I won't go into all of her rants on black woman's rights written under the guise of space travel, but there was this one book that went along the lines of giant insects living on the moon that mate with human males so they get pregnant with half-insect children.

I couldn't help but bring the question up in the group discussion. "Does anyone else thing this is seriously gross?"

The question was flung back in my face. "It's creative!" one of the girls said.
"Yeah," said someone else, "have you ever thought of a story like that before?"

I wondered whether I there was a good reason why I had never thought of that story before.

Don't get me wrong, the girl who said that was actually a pretty cool person and was generally fun to be around. But I think what she said represented the mindset of the culture, and it's against this mindset that I make my accusation.

The point is, the modern mindset is that it doesn't matter what you do as long as it's "never been done before". It's stupid. We're is obsessed with it. It doesn't even matter if the colors don't go together, or if the music has no theme or rhythm, or if the pants cut off all the circulation in your lower extremities. None of that matters anymore. I blame it on the salesman, but it's really just because the 21st century is as bored as heck.

It's a vicious circle that can only exponentially increase: the more replace something, the faster you get tired of it, the faster you get tired of it, the sooner you crave something new.

Come on, doesn't the world get that the human soul doesn't crave senselessness but consistency? Isn't that what makes life bearable? No matter where you go, you're going to hear someone tell you that you are unique, you're an individual, and there is no one in the world just like you. Why do we make such a big deal about how every fingerprint is different, and somehow manage to forget that we all, nonetheless, have fingerprints?

An amateur writer will exhaust the thesaurus trying to find new words to say a very simple idea. But a good writer knows that a repeated word doesn't suggest unoriginality, it suggests a theme.  It implies that something is important and needs to be paid attention to. The same way a skilled musician looks for the superhuman note, and a good musician looks for a human chord.

Consistency is even used as a culinary term. It means holding together and retaining its' shape, as in, "when the dough has enough consistency, it's ready for baking."

It's also part of the scientific method. If a certain experiment consistently matches your hypothesis, then it becomes a scientific theory. If it continues to be consistent based off of generations of data, then it becomes a scientific law.

History repeats itself. A nation grows, the government grows corrupt, the people rebel, they break off and start a new nation, that nation grows, and then that government grows corrupt. And so we have the story of the Roman Empire all the way to today.

How do we gain trust? Consistency. How do we maintain a relationship? Consistency. How do we tell the day from night, the summer from fall, or the winter from the spring? Consistency.

Are you catching the consistency here? Aren't you glad that life repeats itself? What would we do if it didn't?  In a world bursting at the seams with diversity, isn't it refreshing to find something common?

Don't be afraid of old things. Let the vines of time grow free--let them twist and tangle in accordance with the oldest laws of the universe--in rhythm with the dance of reality...trust me, it will surprise you every time.
-The Minstrel Boy

23 June 2013

It certainly wasn't advice I intended to follow...

A little story I've been working on...don't expect more any time soon though. ;)

Prologue

It was my sophomore year when she entered the scene.  She had the quietest presence of anyone on campus, and that’s probably why she created such a buzz.  But when she spoke, it was enough to make you laugh.

“She sounds like a twelve-year-old.”
“She talks like Queen Elizabeth.”

Usually it takes years to earn a nickname at Halle--you’re lucky if you get one at all, even luckier if you get a kind one--but for Leah it only took a week. And that’s exactly what they named her: Queen Elizabeth, the royal genius. And rightly so.

“Is there anyone who still uses ‘inasmuch’ and ‘hereafter’ and ‘verily’?” I would hear the gossipers say, giggling obnoxiously within an indiscriminate radius of her. That last one was a hoot for the gang. They started using “verily” as a kind of slang.  She was interesting, and interesting meant likable at Halle. She had the sort of character that naturally attracted friends, but she denied herself them, that martyr. The way she briskly walked through the hallways with her head bent down and books clutched tightly to her chest, the way she never wore makeup and never let her hair down, clearly implied that she was here to learn and get out. Nobody would have guessed she had run away from France at seventeen under the false identity of Leah Parker.

You never realized how pale her face was until you saw her standing next to someone else, which was a rare sight. That’s how I picked her out when I saw her for the first time in the cafeteria. My, how she stood out--her face looked puny when framed in that enormous bouquet of dark brown hair piled and pinned up behind her.

Hey buddy!
“Hm?”
“If you wanna check out girls, I’d love to eat that for you.”
“Check out who?”

And that’s exactly what I was intending to do at the moment, until Scottie poked his annoying face in front of me and forced me to pay attention. Scottie got his name because he had some distant relation to something Scottish, but there was no trace of anything Scottish in him whatsoever, and nobody cared how it got started or what his real name was.  He didn't even write a last name on his papers, just “Scottie”. The professors didn't have a problem with it, because everyone loved Scottie.  I found him so irritating that he was on my list for reasons to transfer (it was a long list too, for the record). How did he manage to keep that grin on all the time?  Did he do face pull-ups or something? Maybe he got the inside of his cheeks pierced and stuck a safety-pin in it, maybe he got in a car accident and his jawline never healed,  maybe he was plastic humanoid alien spy from outer space, maybe...

“Come on, bud, just point her out to me. It’s the tall one with the blonde hair, isn’t it?”
“What?” I tried to direct my eyes in the general direction he was pointing to. “Uh, yeah, that one.”

Scottie proceeded to tell me that her name was Valory and that she was his lab partner, you know that? He then started telling me this story about he dropped acid on her leg and burned a hole in her pants, and then how they both like the Vietnamese restaurant downtown, blah blah blah, and then moved on to going to her soccer game, blah blah blah, and then she said, blah blah blah, you know that?

 “No, I didn’t know that,” I said. The bouquet-hair girl had left the line now, with the most pathetic plateful of salad I’d ever seen. You could eat that in two mouthfuls. No wonder she’s so pale.
“Hey buddy, you still there?” Scottie had already taken up to eating my lunch. “You know, Ross, sometimes you’re so out of it I think you’re an alien spy from outer space.”

I looked at him vaguely. “Takes one to know one.”

Scottie laughed loudly, although I’m not sure he got it. “You’re a real character, Ross, you know that?”

But I didn’t answer, because right then the bouquet-hair girl sat down at our table. I normally wasn’t this bold, but right then I was looking for any means of escape, so I spoke. I spoke the Queen Elizabeth.

“That’s a pretty small lunch.”

The Queen answered not. She had her head bowed down over her plate, hands folded, eyes closed. There was a long silence, a kind of silence I wasn’t used to. Scottie wasn’t used to either, nor was he used to someone changing the subject while he was talking. He turned to his left to see who I had addressed.

“Aw yeah girl, is that all they eat from where you come from? You could fit that whole thing in a teacup. Where are you from, anyway?”

I wanted to slap my forehead. Even Scottie should have been able to see that this wasn’t the time to talk to her! But she was finished now. She looked up and serenely observed the two of us staring.

“I beg your pardon?” She said.

There it was—that voice everyone was talking about. She had spoken barely louder than a whisper, but that gentle, childlike sound was so different from anything else you heard in the general cafeteria buzz that every word cut through the air like a drop of ice water in the desert. It was a spell I didn’t dare break, but someone else did.

“I said you could fit that whole thing in a teacup,” Scottie replied eagerly, not wanting a pretty girl to miss his profoundly clever comparison, especially since he made it up himself, on the spot.

The girl assessed the situation quickly, looking down at her plate and back to Scottie, then said:
“In more inviting circumstances my appetite would go unchecked; however, in regards to the seemingly primitive qualities of your culinary arts, it is prudent to warrant careful deliberation in terms of quantity and selection, inasmuch as I might stave off parasitical infection or unnecessary acute attacks of indigestion.”

When people encounter something they don’t understand, their natural reaction is to laugh it off.  The urge was welling up in both of us, but I sensed that the girl was completely serious when she said this, so I grabbed a can of Pepsi and started chugging it casually. Scottie was less experienced in the art of disguising laughter, letting out a loud choke-snort and displaying his confused grin at her.
She knew we were laughing, and spoke thus:

“I am well aware that such duration and unmediated exposure has served to dull the sensitivity of native stomachs, and for this I do not hold you accountable. However I fail to see how this merits mirth, and the noises you are producing have a disquieting effect on my ears, therefore I humbly entreat you to cease these noises, for they are not at all befitting to a gentleman.”

“Huh? No, it’s not that.” I said.

It was the truth, but I didn’t want to say any more. She kept on staring at me, so I kept on chugging my Pepsi. Since I had just explained to her that what we were laughing at was “not that”, I suppose she thought that she was entitled to the whole truth, and was waiting for it.  People feel bad about not telling the truth, so if you can equivocate it by explaining what the truth isn’t, somehow you think you’re justified.  Nobody told Leah about this particular trait of human nature, so she didn’t say “Oh, Haha!” and shut up.

She was supposed to be the butt end of the joke, but she had just made capital of us, and I was still trying to find out how. Most people would have given in at this point and started uncomfortably laughing at the unspoken joke that was themselves. But Leah, as I was going to find out later, would only laugh at something if she thought it was funny.  This would often have the effect of inverting the scale of discomfort to the inflictor in place of the victim. Kind of like how Joan of Arc burned at the stake with a smile on her face, thus owning up the whole Church and making them look lame.

It was entrancing to watch her eat, forking up neatly organized shreds of salad and popping them in her mouth, chewing each bite twenty-eight times and completing the transaction with a graceful swallow. All other attempts at conversation fell flat, and I ended up chatting with Scottie about classes, something I never do if I can help it. Somewhere in the middle of it, Leah picked up her empty tray and tried to make an inconspicuous exit. She was leaving way too soon.

“Hey, nice to meet you,” I choked out desperately.
She nodded. Then to my surprise, she smiled.
“What’s your name?”
“Leah.”
“Nice name,” interjected Scottie, which is what he said to everybody. But she was already gone.
Scottie grinned at me. “God, those Frenchies. Gotta stay away from them.”

“Yeah. You should definitely stay away from her.” It may have been a warning, or a challenge. But it certainly wasn’t advice I intended to follow.