Thursday, October 4, 2007

Theatrical Ambitions for Monroe's Newest Stars

If you haven’t seen any of the SAS Drama Club’s dazzling performances yet, then you’re missing out. But seeing as this talented crew of thespians only formed about a year ago, it’s no surprise that most of the school has yet to hear about them. Having had put out two wonderfully successful productions in the last year, the Club is now working on their third for the Fall 2007 semester. But with such remarkable talent, it’s hard to believe that the group formed from such humble beginnings.

Unfortunately, Monroe had been lacking a drama department, and students longing for theater were left with no options – which is why president and co-founder Jasen Talise established the Club in July of 2006. “To us, something was lacking, and no one was doing anything to provide. So, we went for it.”

Talise, along with a small group of bright-eyed students, found English teacher, SAS Coordinator, and drama buff Dr. Leigh Clark to sponsor and direct the Club. And although they didn’t plan on producing anything until the spring semester, the quick and fortunate start had the crew ready around Halloween. And what better way to celebrate the holiday than with an aptly themed play: The Werewolf’s Curse? With a humble crowd of about 60 people, the dark comedy about lycanthropes, vampires and belly dancers had the actors prepared for bigger things. “In retrospect, the plot was pretty corny and the characters were stereotypically ridiculous, but we made it work.”

With a stronger cast and a bit more experience, the Club decided to take on Georges Feydeau’s The French Have a Word For It, a racy French farce that caused a bit of controversy around the school. “Being centered around love, sex, and scandals,” proclaimed Talise, “it seemed a production too fitting for high school to pass up.” The difficult play featured a 20-character cast, about 3 hours worth of intricate dialogue, and wild, flamboyant characters. And the Club had their own problems to worry about: “It was stressful. It was impossible to get all the cast members that we needed at rehearsals and people wouldn’t memorize their lines! And it didn’t help that one of our main characters told us two weeks before the play that he wouldn’t be able to do the show.” Nonetheless, everything turned out well. In fact, great. School administrator Mr. Opfell said it was the best play he’d seen in his 13 years at Monroe. “We set a higher standard for ourselves… I like to think we reached it.”

With such an impressive record, the cast can only look up, as they prepare for Neil Simon’s Broadway hit, Rumors, to be shown on October 11, 12, and 13. About a dinner party that erupts when a scandal breaks loose, four aristocratic, snobby couples go insane as they try to cover everything up and save their own precious reputations. A new year has left the Club with a condensed and refreshed cast, more experience, and ambitions of theatrical proportions. Many members speculate this may be the funniest and most successful of the SAS Drama Club’s productions. And we certainly wouldn’t be surprised it if is.

*The SAS Drama Club meets every Wednesday during lunch in B1. Any student interested in theater, acting or backstage work is heartily invited.
*Rumors shows 6:00PM-9:00PM on Oct. 11, 12 and 13 in Odin’s Hall at Monroe High School (9229 Haskell Ave., North Hills, CA 91343): $4 general admission, $3 with any student I.D.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Cherry Coke Dream

I just woke up from perhaps one of the strangest dreams I’ve ever had, probably because I also had one of the longest sleeps. Extremely deprived for the past week, I was out for sixteen hours (seven to eleven). And like all dreams, I can see the elements of my mind come together in a strange, randomized hash. Some of it I can recognize, some of it I have no idea. But I really don’t know where to begin, to be honest. The dream seemed so long it’s as if I don’t even remember the entire first half, or large intermitting portions of it. It’s always hard trying to recall or retell a dream as vividly as you experienced it.

I do remember one scene where I was at a pool party, and the sky was gray like it was yesterday morning, but the only people I could remember there were Paco and Jude, and the pool was covered in layers of broken ice. Paco was swimming, and I thought he was insane. There was even a metal slide that led into the water. Some random APO adult went down it, and he never came back up out of the water.

It was sunny now. We were in a giant grass field, with a mountain of some sort to our left. And there was an improvised boundary separating the field (neon tape, etc.), and one massive group of APO was on my side (including Jude and Paco) and another massive group was on the other (including, I only remember, Gil Chris). We all had these long wooden sticks with a curved point on the end that bent to the side, like a scythe but much less dramatic. And some of us also had tennis rackets. We were volleying a light balloon-like ball between our groups, using our scythe-like sticks pointy ends (the ball never felt like popping), and apparently, I was really good at it, so we had an intense, noisy match.

I guess later a few of us went into that mountain I mentioned earlier, which reminded me of one of the old APO camps, where the campsite was a huge slanted hill. Anyway, it was now dusk, and to the side of the area, there was a nest, with a trench that led to a bigger nest on the higher end of the mountain. It was orange, and littered with white straw or bird waste – I don’t know, but it was white, I even remember wondering this in the dream. Unfortunately and strangely enough, I know a lot of my dream revolved around this area, and there were a lot of people featured in this part, but I don’t remember a thing about what exactly happened here, or with whom exactly I was with. There was a lot of hanging out around this area, and a lot of fear of the place – something perhaps gruesome or haunted lingered around the nests.

That night, the setting shifted at one point into a city. The buildings were large (to be honest, they kind of reminded me of those cheesy custom maps from old video games I used to play), and Jasen was coordinating a massive fireworks event. I don’t know why. Nonetheless, he was doing a good job. I left the noisy area to retreat to a quieter spot, and walked along the side of a building that was more like a massive block of concrete. And I sat by a light pole calling my girlfriend because I wanted her to be there. She wasn’t picking up, but on the bottom of the building, a good distance away, I saw Beatrice in a car trying to yell something to me. I don’t know what she was saying. But eventually, we hear Jasen’s voice booming on a microphone that seemed to reverberate through the entire city, and he was counting down the fireworks. But it wasn’t a normal count down. Rather, every time he said a word, a firework went off in a random place along the horizon. I don’t remember what he was saying either.

The odd night ended with Jasen, Tiffany, Beatrice, and my parents around a table eating cake in a small, yellow room, lit by a chandelier, with the city viewable through a couple windows. I remember my dad asked, “What did you use?” and Jasen responded, “Cherry coke.” I have no idea what that meant, or what it referred to.

I woke up, home alone, only able to think about the dream that just ended. I decided to write about it because I don’t want to forget it. For now, I guess I don’t remember the rest. But I do know I’ll go about my daily life and randomly remember parts of it I forgot to mention. That happens to you too, right?

And seeing as to how informal this entry is, I might as well shamelessly plug a play I’m going to be in! Come to Monroe High School (9229 Haskell Ave., North Hills 91343) from 6:00pm-9:00pm on October 11, 12 and 13 (Thurs, Fri, Sat) to watch me play the part of a paranoid politician in Neil Simon’s hilarious Broadway hit, Rumors! Bring your friends, bring a date; it’s only $3 for students and $4 for general admission, and we’ll sell food and drinks there for you. Maybe even cherry coke.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Oh Please, That Was So 2001

When it comes to that whole thing about what happened on that one day a few years ago, it’s really pathetic. And I’ll admit: I wasn’t all that moved by the whole movement. That sudden rush of patriotism and faux-“In God We Trust” attitude reminded me of deceitful wartime propaganda, and the people that follow that mindless nonsense reminded me of the Revolutionary War’s wonderful loyalists.

What makes me even more sick is that the perpetrators of this disaster got exactly what they wanted out of the American people: fear. I glimpsed over today’s Daily News’ front page to review their obligatory special on the issue, and found a module listing peoples’ replies to questions about the event. One 66-year-old woman said, "I am always scared. We have to be more vigilant."

Always scared? Is she serious? Ma’am, you lived through the Cold War, and you should know better. There’s nothing to be afraid of, and this vigilance you’re talking about is only setting your grandchildren up for worse, because as we continue to attack people that don’t deserve our vengeance, we’re only asking for more in the future. It’s about as ridiculous as mercilessly bombing the nation of Afghanistan and violently invading Iraq because ten guys from Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the United Arab Emirates did something bad. (Oh, wait.)

“[Name withheld upon request], 24, of Woodland Hills, a doctorate student, said, ‘I don’t feel safe anymore. I’m constantly thinking about what they (the terrorists) are up to. They keep on sending pictures and messages to us so it scares me because there are so many groups against Americans right now. I’ve become more cautious with certain groups of people. People are becoming more racist against Arabs. I personally don’t like them.’”

Apparently and evidently, terrorism actually works! And with people like [Name withheld upon request], it’s no wonder “so many groups” are “against Americans right now.” Clueless morons like her are the reason this pointless war is still going on, and more Americans still have to suffer. I’m not just talking about the countless troops that are stuck in the Iraqi desert right now, or about the American military deaths that greatly overshadow the ground zero death toll, I’m also talking about our hapless Muslim community (and Arab community, due to ignorant racists like [Name withheld upon request]). An interviewed Chatsworth student said, "I’m more self-conscious now and I try to keep a low profile because I am a Muslim."

It’s sad, really. We all get so scared and become so evil because an event that, when thrown in the big picture, seems so little. It was bad. Seriously, it was awful, and the victims of terror all around the world deserve our deepest respect. But we have to understand that how we’re “resolving” things the way right now is not the way to do it. From that event, 2,752 died. From the “war on terror,” over 80,000 people so far have lost their lives. What are we even fixing, especially when we’re in a country that had nothing to do with the crime?

Joseph Stalin once said, “A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” And we’ve blown this single death all out of proportion. That day pales in comparison to what we've done since then, and so many people don't realize it.

Are we still blind from the flashes of those explosions? Who’s the true enemy here? Who's the real terrorist, and who's the bigger murderer?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Consuming Folly

Now pretty much all my life my family has trusted the Green Giant when it comes to quality canned corn. And so since tonight we're once again feasting on my mother's delicious fried chicken, I grabbed a can of niblets in the cupboard to enjoy my meal with.

But to my utter surprise, my dad already had a can out - a can of DEL MONTE WHOLE KERNEL CORN. Discerning the shock in my countenance, my parents attempted to comfort my woes. My mom told me it's better. My dad tells me, "It's FreshCut!"

I look at the can and, well, my dad is absolutely right: It's "FreshCut"! There's some fancy word art slapped on the can that says "FreshCut" in some corny pseudo-semi-asian font.

Ummm... what does "FreshCut" mean? Does it mean the corn was freshly cut? So, like, when was fresh, and how was it cut?

The thing that's so funny about advertising is that you can take a pointless, meaningless, vague or even nonexistent aspect of a product and play it up to sell something. I have a half-gallon of Breyers ice cream sitting in my freezer. Half-eaten because it's delicious, but that's not the important part. The important part is that my mom bought it because since "All Natural" is in such big, showy script that ices over any other text on the carton, my mother was left to be the lovable victim of this chilly exploitation of the health food trend.

Mmmm... all natural. What can be bad about all natural? It's not that anything is bad about it, it's just that when it comes to grocery store ice cream, almost all ice cream is all natural (excluding the notoriously cheap and sticky generic imitations that taste like runny, milky spit). Pretty much all your favorite brands are, surprisingly, all natural. It's harder finding something that's not.

So while Breyers pride themselves on being "THE ALL NATURAL ICE CREAM" (see the Pledge of Purity on the side of the carton), what they don't want you to know is that their entire advertising scheme is all based on something rather meaningless. Other ice creams may be all natural too, but Breyers' creative department already took that idea!

And even though I'd still buy Breyers just because it tastes so damn good, how many others would too if it were merely sold along the lines of being delicious? I doubt "THE DELICIOUS ICE CREAM" or the Pledge of Tastiness would do so well. Unfortunately, tasting good just isn't good enough anymore.

Flavors can get pretty ridiculous too. Have you ever had New York cheesecake-flavored something? How about pink lemonade? Anything "flaming hot"? What do all these adjectives mean, anyway? What makes cheescake "New Yorkish," and lemonade taste pink? What makes Cheetos... flaming? The answer is: nothing. But there must be a reason French vanilla tastes better than plain vanilla...

Nowadays, all of this market competition has driven contesters to advertise some of the silliest features. Companies come up with witty gimmicks and conjure fashionable fads, overspeculate hype and attack one another in their attempts at topping the rest. I care less about your "commitment to quality" or how many slogans you've trademarked than I do about about how your product actually is.

Sometimes I wonder how shopping would be if ads and label designs were gone. Trips to the grocery store would be bland, but then again we'd probably be able to find better stuff without the tight grip of sly advertising, tempting pictures, clever artwork, and believable lies.

p.s. If you were wondering, I still trust the Green Giant.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Who is Me?

Chapter eight of Voices of Wisdom asks you to categorize 12 things into the material group or the immaterial group. Most were simple: chairs, trees, cats, stones, atoms and space are material; ideas, seeing, anger and time are immaterial. Although it was difficult for most people to decide which one God fit into, what seemed even more controversial to me was "you." What am I? I decided immaterial. I, as in my mind, am immaterial; however, my body is material. So is my mind some sort of separate entity, cradled in my skull?

I believe my body does not belong to me. What right do I have to my arms and legs, my heart and lungs? I stole these carbons from the cosmos, and turned them into tissue for my own use. So simply put: "my" body is merely my mind's tool of expression. My mind uses my body to use its eyes to collect images, olfactory system for smells, auditory canals for sound vibrations, nerve endings to feel, and tongue for tastes. It then sorts out all this information gathered by my loyal body and makes something out of all of it.

However, isn't my mind just my brain's tool of expression? And again - doesn't my brain not belong to me?

Who is me?

p.s. Thanks to Jason Waskey for the great brocade background.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 accordance to some specified standard or authority

"The most violent element in society is ignorance. " -Emma Goldman

Our fears scare us away from the truth. When we're afraid of something, we lose our ability to judge that subject with fair reason. When we let our fears or lack of knowledge control our ideas, we become closed-minded. Sometimes we accept ideas because they're the only ones we've been exposed to, the only ones we've been raised to learn, or the only ones that certain other people follow. Oftentimes, we don't take the time to explore the other options. Unfortunately, if we do not learn how to explore on our own, then all we're doing is growing into a mold that's been formed by the people around us and above us.

If you don't learn how to think for yourself, someone else will do the thinking for you. The masses of followers are slaves and tools of the creators of the conventional system.

When you have become so comfortable with your belief system, you've grown distant from the other options. When you have become so comfortable that you have become adamant, then you may forever be stuck in a state of unyielding change - even if that change may be good for you.

As human beings, we are innately stubborn. But are we so stubborn that all we can do is merely affix ourselves into molds and settle into their shapes? Surprisingly, it takes a lot of courage to think your way out of this one.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Acting, Bicycles, Cutlets

One week ago, the SAS Drama Club was scheduled to perform The French Have a Word For It. Three weeks ago, we learned that a cast member could not be there for production dates. Quick to recast, I took his role. I went from backstage historian/handyman to sailor-mouthed, karate-expert Spanish/French businessman. I’d gotten myself into quite an event.

However, when I was told I had to ridicule myself with a cheesy martial arts performance and a stupid top hat, I cringed. Could I do this? Could I loosen my collar and let go of my artificial dignity? Would I be able to memorize my lines in two weeks, and not screw up the play saying them? Would I even have the time to? This was my first acting experience – I was full of doubt.

But as we had only a few days left until the showings, the pressure was magnificent. The Club managed to achieve quite a lot – from building doors and buying costumes to choreography and memorizing three hours of intricate dialogue. In the midst of the hubbub, I stopped worrying about myself. Rather, the entire production, and what would happen on the evenings of April 12 and 13. I was absorbed; we were all absorbed.

And it was incredible. The tumult backstage grew, as 6:30 drew nearer. The green room was lush with fervor and excitement. Literally, figuratively, we were jumping in our pants. Twenty hearts beating and forty eyes lined, we all held hands with an impatient vigor. It was one of those moments that you never forget: one of those moments where you forget everything else. Soon enough, the curtains opened and the stage lit up – so did we. I’d lost all my inhibitions and I, in fact, loved ridiculing myself. Everything was worth it. Everything was wonderful.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Henson & Clinton

In 2001, Keith Henson was arrested for picketing a Scientology complex on the count of "interfering with a religion." Living as a fugitive for six years, he has now been put under the law, awaiting his hearing in May. (I refuse to use the word cult to describe a religion, because all cults are religions. It's not up to the government to decide what is and what isn't one. Just as a side note, there are more "honestly good" cults then there are bad ones, it's just the bad ones get the publicity and earn the prejudice of all toward "evil cults." Every religion started out as a cult anyway, including yours. But God be damned, Scientology is profoundly dumb, and is perhaps today’s leading “evil cult.” But I won’t get into that, just visit one of the links at the end of this for a synopsis of their dogma and form your own opinion.)

What is "interfering with a religion" anyway? With such muddled laws, there is no point for our rights. How the hell do you define "interfering with a religion"? If this were possibly enforced fully, everyone would be arrested! I would be arrested for interfering with Buddhist principles whenever I swap a fly, the entire government removed from office for interfering with Islamic Jihad. It is impossible to live without contradicting another religion.

So what makes it right for Henson to be culled from the bunch of dissenters? The definitive answer is that the Church of Scientology has been on his case ever since he was on theirs, pleading to authorities while labeling him a terrorist – armed with the First Amendment and a picket sign. California disarmed the poor man, deciding to side with the newly tax-exempted organization, for the sake of avoiding activities “interfering with a religion.” How unfortunate.

Henson has been a staunch long-time critic of “the study of truth,” openly sharing his opinion in order to reveal what many (including myself, but I said I wouldn’t get into it) consider dangerous. He has spent years protesting Scientology and professing its evils.

Who cares?

Freedom of speech is freedom of speech. I am bewildered to know that a man simply questioning another belief is persecuted for such innocence. I am enraged to know how loosely constructionist we are of the Constitution – so loose that the government manages to get away with twisting the near-holy The First Amendment and snapping it into pieces. This hypocrisy is killing me, and terrorizing society. These loose laws give the government the uncontrollable power of doing just about anything they want, citing these for justification. With this system, they are unstoppable! If we don’t stick to the Constitution, then we won’t stick to anything. We are ruled by tyrants, and we don’t even realize it.

Ambiguous laws are completely unjust. Another example: the law states that any member of the executive branch may be impeached for acts of "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Other high crimes and misdemeanors, what the hell are those? So like, having an affair with an intern?

The Lewinsky scandal led to the impeachment trials of President William Clinton, on the counts of perjury (lying about having an affair) and obstruction of justice (not helping the police reveal his lie). Notice how they cite random laws to justify their claim. The House of Representatives did not approve of Clinton’s moral conduct – not perjury or obstruction of justice – so they found whatever excuse they could to impeach him. What really was his high crime or misdemeanor?

We need concise, specific laws. Get rid of this trash. We need lawmakers who don’t create ambiguity to give themselves the chance to re-interpret justice, because we should be the ones in charge of ourselves. People pull things out of their asses to win cases. The law book should be simple and easy enough for anyone to read – no loopholes, no secrets. Without some strict constructionism, we’ll be in chaotic mess. In fact, we are in one.

Further reading: Official Scientology website Free Keith Henson Blogger Wikipedia: Scientology Anti-Scientology website

Update: The day after I wrote this, I talked to a friend who just came back from a Christian concert festival called Battlecry in San Francisco. Basically, her and about 25,000 other youths screamed their lungs out praising the Lord in an exhausting, unforgettable experience.

I was shocked, however, when she told me of a motley group of militant atheists that would parade around the event condemning Jesus and all of his followers. A debate, platform and all, even formed in front of San Francisco City Hall between the Battlecry organizers and the atheist leaders. Like all religious debates, there was no winner; nonetheless, I am still shocked by this outrageous occurrence.

If the California government is going to stop a man from picketing an extremely questionable Scientology complex (a woman had just "mysteriously disappeared" from the area recently), then why aren't San Francisco authorities stopping these atheists and their blatant religious interference? They even allowed them to debate in front of City Hall - talk about time and place.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Freedom of Choice

The motto of the the Democratic Review is "the best government is that which governs least." It's been a while since I first heard this saying paraphrased by the late Henry David Thoreau, but the quote is always ringing in my mind. Only now has it really meant something to me.

Imagine a world where everyone could do anything they wanted, free from government interference. Yeah, I support speed limits and littering fines, but don't tell me what to do when it comes to living my life according to my credence. The government is up there to punish us for doing something that negatively affects other people - hell I don't want to share the road with stupid drivers or walk in polluted parks - but it is unjust when they make up extra things to punish us for, things that may be against our personal beliefs. Get out of my personal life! I want to be able to do anything I want, as long as it does not directly affect someone else.

Let us implement individual sovereignty when it comes to individual practices. Our lives are constricted and limited to the boundaries of the law. They do not have faith in us as people; they think we can't control ourselves; they think we're idiots. We surrendered our powers to the government so they could regulate it, so they could fight corruption and power monopolies - on the streets and in the skyscrapers - and allow us the space to live and breathe. Our personal lives are not in your jurisdiction!

Do not support the government's beliefs. Support your own. Isn't this country all about individualism and freedom? How un-American is it that we pigeonhole ourselves into a model society? How un-American is it that the only way to be "patriotic" is by relinquishing your unalienable rights? How un-American is it that we would let someone else think for us just because they're "authority"? WE ARE THE AUTHORITY - isn't this a democracy?

I am pro-choice - on everything. If what I am doing does not affect anyone else, leave me the hell alone. The government's job is to allow us the opportunity to live with freedom, and without oppression - not only from foreign aggression, but most of all, themselves. Right now the government is the biggest enemy, because they are the ones threatening our freedom.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Simon Bolivar in Alaska

I've been studying WWII, and I found that at one point, Japan seized control of Attu and Kiska, two places you've never heard of. These are islands on the Alaskan Aleutian archipelago. Although this was very briefly mentioned in my textbook, The American Pageant, I decided to delve upon this issue, because it seemed to contradict the widely-held claim that the last battle on American soil was during the Civil War. It infact, does. Known as the "Forgotten Battle" (it happened at the same time as the Battle of Guadalcanal), no wonder I've never heard this theory before. I think I just pulled a Howard Zinn - I made a discovery that opposes popular opinion! It feels good. Then again, perhaps I am wrong, because this was more like American snow.

As a self-proclaimed nerd, I also found this even more interesting because a while back, while reseraching Simon Bolivar, I read that a Confederate general was named after him: Simon Bolivar Buckner, who was famous for losing Fort Donelson to Grant, another figure I've researched. It turns out that Simon Bolivar Buckner's son, Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., a commander as well, was a brigadier general of the Aleutian campaign, who helped to retake Attu and Kiska. Even creepier, I found the Buckner official family website:

I love finding completely random connections.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


"My deeply held belief is that if a god anything like the traditional sort exists, our curiosity and intelligence are provided by such a god. We would be unappreciative of those gifts... if we suppressed our passion to explore the universe and ourselves." -Carl Sagan

I want to thank my girlfriend for being so patient with me. She gives me space when I need it, and completely understands. But besides that, she's patient because I'm really stubborn. Last night we got into another philosophical discussion; this time about the ubiquitously moot topic of evolution and religion. She claimed that we owe our complex emotions all to the Omnipotent. And although I tried to explain that our dispositions are derived from our will to survive, and that everything else is just a "side effect," she did bring up a nice point.

I thought Mr. Sagan said something that would make her happy.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Boat Noodle Soup

"The world is a fine place, and worth fighting for" -Ernest Hemingway

I was on my way to visit a friend in the hospital, stopping by the Thai temple to eat. Actually, my parents wanted to eat. I just followed, I thought. I strolled about the courtyard, with Elysia blazing my ears. But then at a certain point, I caught a nice view of the temple. It was beautiful. Frustrated that camera phones aren't as good as a pair of eyes, I just admired the bright gold accents, the sharp and dramatic edging and the waving roof tiles. And then I turned to my left and I saw a little girl in a puffy pink jacket, waving an incense stick at a statue. It was a statue of an idol, I'm assuming, despite my limited knowledge of Buddhism, that had two fronts of a body stuck "back-to-back", sitting indian-style, and four faces, one for each direction. Surrounding the shrine were dozens of elephant figurines of variegating styles. The little girl was imitating her father, who was doing the same. They would bow and wave their incense, and repeat the process until they'd paid their religious respects to all four faces. They stuck their sticks into a holder situated at the idol's base and went back off into the courtyard. The fragrance they'd left was calm and sweet, like the chamomile tea I had earlier at church. My eyes followed the two as they walked away, holding hands. I took my earphones off to invite the world.

I love the sound of life. We're social creatures. Last night, a close friend told me about his brother, who'd just moved out, and hated the loneliness of his new home. Solitary confinement must be a horrible punishment.

Sundays at the Thai temple are vibrant, and it had been over a year since my last visit. This visit was one of serendipity. It's overwhelming comprehending the fact that every single person there, just like me, has a life, all their own, completely unique. Our lives were all converging on that one afternoon. I wonder where they were before, and how they were after. Certainly not hungry. The food there is amazing, and I was tired of playing observer. So I bought a bowl of "boat noodle soup" and ate it amongst the crowded tables, al fresco.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Extremely Rare Snark

I was looking up on Wikipedia to find out what "§" is called; I found out it was just called the "section sign." How boring. I was looking forward to finding something more impressive, kind of how like "&" is "ampersand." But anyway, as usual on Wikipedia, I began rambling about and I stumbled upon the irony mark, which looks just like a mirrored question mark (؟). The interesting thing is that it was proposed by a 19th century French poet named Alcanter de Brahm (alias Marcel Bernhardt) who also proposed symbols for doubt, certainty, acclamation, authority, indignation, and love. I think that's a great way to express tone in sentences, wouldn't you agree? Sometimes I'm writing an essay for one of my courses and I feel the urge to put a smiley on the end of one of my sentence to express, well, whatever we express whenever we use them nonformally; but of course, that would be improper [indignation mark] Just some thoughts.

Here's the link, so you can actually see them:

P.S. Kick me the next time I say "anyways."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"You, Heretic Christian, Come Wash the Dishes"

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretched out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. -Isaiah 40:22

I think it was Alice Cooper who, when asked in a post-career interview "What's the most rebellious thing you've ever done?" replied, "Become a Christian." I saw this during the Alpha Course - an 8-week program that's meant to harvest some souls for Him. It makes it really appealing to be a rebel, doesn't it? What if I want to rebel from these rebels?

I think about the evolution of the Christianity that I'm "a part of." First the Jews, then the Catholics, then the Protestants, then the Baptists. I think about our great mistakes. All of the wars we've caused, and all the blood that's been shed: Israelite versus Philistine, Crusader versus Infidel, Christian A versus Christian B. We were kind of stupid, huh?

The fact is, most people have made, with popular approval, mistakes that are now highly regretted, with popular approval. Japanese internment camps, Jim Crow (although even that was a considerable step up), the Rwandan Genocide, the Holocaust. Back then, people believed in Zeus as much as some people do today about God. Perhaps even more. How could people believe in Zeus!? And in the future, a schoolchild might ask, "How could people believe in God!?"

And the question is, if I decide not to believe what the Christians "with popular approval" believe, can I still be a Christian? Or am I a heretic Christian (which my mother just called me a few minutes ago)?

History shows a trend where most people were wrong and some people were right, but then the right people came out right, and all the wrong people finally lost their ways. For God's sake, even Christianity came out from under the boulder like that.

If todays Christians were all deployed in Massachusetts circa 1700, we'd all be roasted on the stake. If Christians from three centuries into the future (assuming we'd still be around) were deployed into today's churches, they would all be condemned heretics as well.

When do we know when we've found the perfect balance of conservatism and liberalism? Every time we progress, we frown upon the past. But everytime we progress, we also frown upon the potential future, which may be our next standing position.

Don't get me wrong though. I don't think my radical opinions are all absolutely correct. Every day I look forward to being corrected. I have more questions than I do answers. Some Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings, I really do learn things that make me rethink my beliefs. Most of the time, I don't. Thusly, according to a common Christian, "a true believer," I would probably not be a very Godly person. Especially because I prefer to use my brain more than my heart. What a curse!

You might have wondered what the verse that heads this rant was placed there for. The thing is, while rapping about politics, science, religion etc. with my mother, I started expressing a point I'd heard in class: that "the same way we see gay marriage now is exactly the same way we used to see interracial marriage a century ago, and in the future, we'll look back on gay marriage the way we look at interracial marriage now." I talked about how the supposedly all-knowing Vatican denied the roundness of the Earth until recently. I talked about how religion versus science is faith versus facts. My mom tries to tell me that scientists are evil, in their attempts to refute everything the Bible says. And she tells me, "to read Isaiah 42, I think," because it shows that God knew, all along, that despite what the science of the time professed, that the Earth was round the whole time!

"He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth"

Now this is where I hate the Bible - the AMBIGUITY. People translate the book to fit their interpretations of it! So if this passage was written millenia ago, and it was, are you telling me that the Christian minority, all along, knew that the world was round? Then damn Columbus, damn Archimedes, damn Aristotle and all the rest of the philosophers that we give credit for discovering the roundness of the Earth. The Christians knew it all along!

But see, this is my point. People read "circle of the earth" back then without thinking about it twice. I doubt that any man read those four words, and deduced, "THE EARTH MUST BE ROUND!" No, people read it now, and say "duh, the Bible knew it all along." The Bible has so many metaphors, you never know what's what. That's why there are so many denominations. That's why there has been so many wars. That's why there has been so much bloodshed.

What a cruel joke for the Creator to make His Word so cryptic.

I'm going to go wash the dishes.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pilot Post Sans Obligatory Introduction

I caught myself laughing out loud in class as I read over this:

An Inuit hunter asked the local missionary priest: "If I did not know about
God and sin, would I go to hell?" "No," said the priest, "not if you did not
know." "Then why," asked the Inuit earnestly, "did you tell me?"
Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

It is annoying how we can't ignore things once we know them, huh?