Friday, January 25, 2008

Ozymandias Watches From 1 Million Screens*

I have never been a big fan of the news, and for a while, I attributed that to youth and how the news was "boring" and unnecessary for someone as young as I was at the time. But now I feel as I have somewhat of a point of argument versus just blaming my lack of age, and that argument is the over abundance of news. Once in a while, I'll get curious or attempt to better myself, and visit a news site (say, thinking that reading about world issues and what's going on outside of my immediate life will make me "better". But once I get there, I'll probably be lucky to read 3 whole news stories that arent about some new fangled technology, or advice on how to invest my money. THERE'S JUST TOO MUCH INFORMATION.

Seriously. Go to any of those websites right now and just look at how many different links and how many different news stories there are to choose from ( does somewhat of a better job; as in less links from the home page). Do you not feel overwhelmed? Where do you begin? Obviously, there are headlines: the one main one that's usually accompanied by a picture, but then next to it, maybe 10 other headlines that they deem more important than the rest. For me, it's simply too much for my senses to take at one time. How do I "test the waters" of reading on current events? It's as if they unleashed a CIWS** of information on my ass (over 3000 rounds per minute). I've reached the point of no return.

Similar, no?

What I've concluded from this (but have yet to prove) is that the good ol' fashioned newspaper is still the best way to receive the news. Of course, there are the factors of regionalized news (for example, I currently live in Pensacola, FL, but the happenings of the state of Virginia would probably interest me more) and whether or not you think the newspaper as an entity is more conservative or more liberal (I can never tell, really), but overall, I THINK I'd prefer reading the newspaper rather than going to the SAME newspaper's website. The reason? It's much neater. Obviously, the newspaper is bound by the limitations of physical paper. It isn't online, letting the company stuff as much information as they want on the page, but on the flip side, I think that forces the paper and it's editorial staff to pick and choose what is important enough to print. And THAT is what I want to read (again, yet to be proven). Reading from a physical newspaper is like quadruple distilled vodka. Only the cleanest and most filtered of news stories.

That's right. They know what's up.

On top of that, the newspaper is physically divided into sections! As I'm sure everyone knows, there's the current/world news section, finance/business section, the ever-popular and pertinent sports section, the comic section, the lifestyle section, and the media section (sometimes these last three are actually in the same section). And all of these sections, while grouped together to form the paper was a whole, are independent of each other! You can ignore the first 2 and just go straight for sports if you want! In fact, you could THROW AWAY all the other sections and ONLY read, say, the comic section! I know, I know, most of the websites for these news companies are ALSO grouped and archived based on the same headings (current/world news, finance/business, sports, etc.), BUT (and this is a picky "but"), even as you click one of those specific headings, the rest of the headings remain available to you; right there, in your face. And as I say "out of sight, out of mind". I guess I could also speculate, that though you are in a specific heading, there are no less news stories reported than if you were just on the home page, but this remains another point that will go unproven (I wish I had a facts checker working for me).

Now, there are websites like and what not that list even MORE headlines, since they take their stories (not just news; sometimes online media a.k.a. videos like that on youtube) from other online sources (some of which are the other major news companies I've previously mentioned). But despite all that, they are able to condense their information beyond simple headings. For example, Digg allows their readers to rate whether or not they are "digging" the article. If so, they can click they digg it, so that the next time a person navigates to the Digg home page, they can see "Oh hey look, 300,000 people digg this news story" and think to him/herself, "oh I'm sort of interested in that news title, and 300k people thought it was a relevant article, I guess I'll read it." You might think this might help me enjoy my online news, and you'd be wrong. Because the stories come from so many different sources, and sometimes they're not even NEWS stories (videos about what some dude did in his off time do not count; unless he discovered cold fusion or cured AIDS/cancer), I do not count sites like Digg as credible sources to receive news. It may be a fickle matter, but it matters to me.

In the end, I feel that I may never grow interested in current news. I know, it's a crying shame that I care so little about what's going on around me (especially since I am an active military member), but I doubt I'm the only one who feels this way. If I had to wager, I might say that I may be in the majority. And that may say something about society today, but I don't know what that argument might be nor do I want to get into it. All I know is that on those days I have to go to the dentist or the doctor, or maybe sometimes in a library or when I wake up to have breakfast in an eatery of sorts (McDonald's, Waffle House, take your pick), there's nothing like picking up a good ol' fashioned newspaper (until you realize I'm just reading Calvin and Hobbes; right before I move onto the Best Buy ad).

*A reference to Alan Moore's "The Watchmen" ( Don't know what it is? GO CHECK IT OUT BEFORE THE MOVIE COMES OUT.

** Wikipedia on the CIWS:

Friday, January 18, 2008

Get On Up (stay on the scene, like a sex machine)

Yesterday, I was feeling pretty good about myself, having jumped in the pool to swim (re-preparing for API since I have hopes that I'll start IFS before the month ends, and thus wont have any time to work on my water survival besides the time I have now) and also getting a bit of the AH-NOLD workout via Summer '07 back into the groove. It must've been the endorphins or something, but I felt like I needed to continue this trend of goodness in the day by watching what has quickly risen to become one of my favorite movies ever: "Almost Famous".

I had seen it once before when it was first released and garnering acclaim from all the critics and people who nominate movies for all the classy awards (who I don't typically buy stock into, seeing as I'm not them; I'm a "user critic" if I could borrow the term from, and for some reason, it didn't really stick with me all that well. However, despite that first opinion on it some 5-6 years ago, I decided to pick it up when the local Hollywood Video was having a going-out-of-business sale (they actually DID close, not like all those other stores that fake it), and to my surprise, I LOVED the movie*. I didn't just like it; I LOVED it. The movie follows a 15 year old boy, William, who wants to be a rock journalist, and gets to follow one of his favorite bands on the road, observing what it's really like on the inside of rock stardom (circa 1973). The story is semi-autobiographical of the director, Cameron Crowe, and his experiences during the 1960s-1970s, when he was writing for The Rolling Stone**.

I think my newfound love for "Almost Famous" has something to do with my growing up and living more life and thus experiencing more things. I know myself better than I did 5 years ago. After having gone through high school and college, and now having a "real job" and living out in the "real world", I have a better idea of the things I like, the things that make me happy, what I wish I did/knew before, and what I want for myself now.

Just today, literally, about an hour ago, I had a talk with my friend, who basically served as my wingman throughout my college classes career. We were talking about our work ethic and basically "reaping what you sow" while we dragged our feet through the Department of Systems Engineering at the University of Virginia. We brought up the point that in our Espionage class (the ONLY class at UVA that I took and really wanted to take), we were able to achieve A's versus the B/C/D's we were accustomed to in the E-School because the method of learning was we were good at (rote memorization). This sparked my old line of thinking that I had I been in the College instead of the E-School, I would've enjoyed myself more and would have graduated with a much higher GPA. My friend begged to differ, leaving me surprised and intrigued. He said I would have been more miserable taking those College classes than I was taking my E-School classes because I would've been bored. While thinking of a response to refute his claim, he continued on saying, "I think you would have had to do something analytic: comm school, econ; but I couldn't see you doing the other stuff." I assumed that the "other stuff" were things like history, IR, any type of science, English, Sociology, Psychology, etc. And it was weird because it was like he re-opened something that I had heard before. Like hearing a song you used to love 10 years ago, and remembering how that felt. This wasn't the first time I have heard this; a few teachers and professors along the way recognized this analytical side of me that I hadn't really thought about before, but realized as soon as they said it. Like it had always been there and I knew it was there, but it took someone saying it out loud for it to become real.

After my eyes were opened, I agreed with my friend, telling him that if I could rewind the last 4 years and re-do college, I'd probably want to major in Commerce with a side of creative writing. He agreed, and we joked that I could then write humorous articles about finance, basically like a Bill Simmons for Wall Street. It was in jest, but I really thought about it. Is that something I could do? Of course I wouldn't be able to do it for maybe another 10 years or so, but it might be a career I could have, right? That'd make me about 32, 33 years old. For some reason, I keep thinking that's really late in life, but maybe it isn't. Maybe that's the perfect mix of what I see as two different parts of me constantly at war with one another over how my life should go. Like I said, it won't even be relevant for at least another 8 years or so, what with me being in Flight School and all, but I must say that the idea fills me with a small hope and excitement that I may actually become happy in this life because of something that really does make ME happy, rather than being happy just because of life. And that's a feeling that I've been missing recently.

*Favorite scene in the movie: The band just picked up Russell from a house party where he tripped out on acid, and as the band drives along in silence on their tour bus, the bassist starts singing Elton John's "Tiny Dancer". Soon after, everyone just sort of "gets it" and they all sing together happily. I have heard the song before, but this time I really listened to the words, and the scene that it was used in was just mind-blowing. Then William says "I have to go home", and Penny Lane does her weird hand-to-the-face thing and says "You are home", and I was just done after that. PERFECT.

**After reading about this, it sparked memory of John Cusack's character, Rob Gordon, from "High Fidelity" (a movie I have seen and love, a book I might get to eventually), who has "writing for The Rolling Stone during the 1960s, 1970s" listed as one of his top 5 professions. Other reference, in Entourage's third season, episode "One Day In The Valley", Vinnie Chase goes up on the roof drunk at a party a bunch of high school kids are throwing during the summer. Quite similar to the scene in "Almost Famous" where Russell goes on the roof of a high school kid throwing a party, tripping on acid, and proclaims "I am a golden god.... I'm on drugs!"

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Busy As A Bee Cant Come Soon Enough

I've been out of sight, and now I'm sure I'm out of mind. I'm open to the best and worst feelings one might feel. And I'd crawl on my knees for it all back despite Logic telling me what's painfully obvious.

10 Jan 2008, 0550: couldnt sleep again. when will i get a full night's rest?

"Losing all hope is freedom." - Fight Club

Maybe it is all my fault. Not that it's no one's fault and that there's no blame and sometimes people just fall out of love, but that maybe it is all my fault. She's just not vindictive about it. She's just.. done with it all. Like when you've just come out of a movie that had some enjoyable points, but overall, you just thought it was ok. You probably would've just rented it at Blockbuster on a night you didnt have anything better to do.

14 Jan 2008, 0428: woke up again and couldnt get back to sleep for a while. dreams... i wont call them bad, but maybe for me.

15 Jan 2008, 0430: man, what a crazy yet interesting dream. my subconscious is fcked up or something. but i guess it wasnt so bad..

strangely enough, i'm beginning to enjoy tomatoes in a variety of dishes... still a big no to pickles though.

mm.. i guess the sliver of hope wasnt anything more than an itch. further evidence to not get your hopes up in life, kids. or maybe it's just "busy as a bee". back to the grind. i dont know

"never give up on what makes you smile."

she said "i didnt mean it. you just made me mad."

lots of times i wish i could just rewind the last 3 months, but that's life i guess.

would i be a fool to wait for something that may never happen?

i wonder who this "and you :)" is that she "loooove"s...

22 Jan 2008: I knew it'd be a bad idea to look at profiles right before bed.... but man, if only dreams could come true, it'd all be so easy...

23 Jan 2008: It happened again. And all was well, better than well, and then I woke up. I no longer stay up thinking about it; it comes in my dreams.