Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hot Damn! Two Posts In One Day!

Senate Bill 3 is going before the Indiana House of Representatives today. It would allow pharmacists to refuse the dispensing of birth control and emergency contraception.

Being a citizen fully supportive of women's rights, I emailed my Representative, Democrat Terry Goodin:

"Representative Goodin -
As your constituent (raised in Seymour), I urge you to consider women's reproductive rights as Senate Bill 3 is called for another vote.

Indiana law already protects all citizens, including pharmacists, from participating in an abortion against their will. SB 3 seeks to go further. As written, it's an attempt to redefine birth control and abortion, and force one morality on all Hoosier women. This is not right, as giving pharmacists the option to dispense birth control constitutes legislation of morality.

We cannot allow a law to stop a woman from filling her valid prescription or buying emergency contraception. Birth control is basic health care. I know you may very well be opposed to abortion and emergency contraception, but surely you can respect the need for it to remain legal.

Remember, if the abortion pill's availability is limited, the process of terminating a pregnancy will still exist, albeit illegal and unregulated. Can we really afford to put the health and safety of women at risk because of moralistic sexual politics? Does the idea of women considering a coat hanger a legitimate medical tool as opposed to an actual doctor strike you as an ethical alternative?

I urge you to consider all of these factors as the bill goes up for debate.

Alex DiBlasi"

I'll be sure to post a response if there is one.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Gloves (And Muzzle) Come Off

I've avoided politics way too long on this forum, and it's time I bust out my old soapbox and start screaming. This is my equivalent of Samuel L. Jackson yelling, "I've had it with these motherfuckin' snakes on this motherfuckin' plane!"

I am sick to death of seeing candidates on both sides tearing each other apart rather than promote themselves. We are seeing the ugly sides of our candidates, all of whom are engaging in what could be called "Un-Presidential Behavior."

Let's start with my sworn enemies: the Republicans. One candidate, Tom Tancredo, ran exclusively on a platform of immigration policy. (You can guess where he stood on the matter.) Needless to say, he fizzled out by year's end in 2007.

Ron Paul, widely known as a Libertarian, has garnered a large cult following on the Internet and as consequently among my age bracket. He has made it clear that he is the only Republican who wants an IMMEDIATE troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Before I carry on with Dr. Paul, I've got a thing or two to say about the situation now in Iraq. Either George W. Bush is a complete blithering idiot or a member of the upper echelon of great political strategists, as he will be leaving office with his successor in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" position. If our next President opts to stay the course in Iraq, the liberals will ride his ass like a child molester on his first day in Cell Block C. If our next President orders an immediate troop withdrawal (or even a delayed removal of troops over the course of several months and/or a year), the conservatives will see this President as weak on foreign policy - though the international community will give our commander-in-chief a resounding high five.

My solution is a gradual troop withdrawal, and for the United States to call on the UN to assist in establishing the new Iraqi government. Meanwhile, we allow our volunteer army three months of paid vacation. Then we invade Darfur, again with assistance from the international community. It would be humanity's greatest hour as we liberate the tormented populace, victims of mass murder, starvation, and diseases that in many parts of the world have been eradicated with vaccines.

The very idea that the genocide in Africa has once again been sidestepped as a campaign issue is a travesty of sickening proportions. The continent itself is a sleeping giant, which if roused and modernized, could become a major player on the global scale. But what needs to happen first is the removal of these sociopath dictators who have kept their citizens enslaved since independence was granted to their respective countries.

Back to Ron Paul. The only remotely sound policy he supports is a troop withdrawal. However, its immediacy is troubling. We won't benefit from making Baghdad this century's Hanoi. We created this chaos in Iraq, and as such letting it sink or swim would be a very callous move on our part.

Other than that, Ron Paul supports such practical mainstream ideas as the complete removal of federal taxation (appealing to the average nitwit) and the reintroduction of the gold standard.

Thankfully, he doesn't have a snowball's chance in Hell.

But then again, a year ago many Republicans would have told you that Rudy Giuliani was a surefire winner of the nomination and (possibly) the candidacy of the highest office in the land. There were people projecting that in the wake of 9/11, that he appeared the most presidential and should consider a bid for 2008.

However, the nation realized all he had to his name was the fact that he could appear calm, stoic, and inspirational behind a podium atop smoldering rubble. Once forced to drop the whole "I was there on 9/11" angle, he performed dismally in the polls.

We turn now to Mike Huckabee. His charismatic appeal as a Baptist minister means that this guy is appealing to the lowest common denominators of the conservative base: Christians. Throw in Chuck Norris' endorsement (hey, only two years after the whole "Chuck Norris beat Mr. T's ass and built the Colosseum in one flick of his wrist" fad on the Internets), and this guy has potential to win. He entered the public eye with his victory in Iowa, though he has not garnered the pole position in any subsequent primaries.

Despite this lack of success, his staying on in the race shows that he is hoping to earn some major victories on Super Tuesday. And that makes sense: a majority of the Bible Belt (including his native Arkansas) have yet to cast their votes. This could very well turn the tide for him and his fellow candidates.

Policy-wise, he's dominated by rightist stances on gay marriage, abortion, building the border fence...but his support of the replacement of the federal income tax with a national sales tax sounds like a surprisingly practical solution. It is but one gold nugget in a pile of shit, though.

Mitt Romney. Oh, this guy...his victory in Michigan was based on the lie he told out of work employees of the automotive industry, that with his experience as a businessman he could rejuvenate a dying industry. In light of the fact that European and Asian cars are surpassing American ones in efficiency, he might as well have told the workers that the Car Fairy was going to descend from Mount Olympus and help get them back on the job.

He's a liar, he's a phony, and I cannot support any political candidate who makes the bawdy claim that this country is better off having a President with experience in running a big business. Moreover, he is making this claim as a put-down to fellow candidate John McCain, who has been a senator since 1982. We need someone with legislative experience running this country, not some handsome CEO-type prick who put Massachusetts in the dark ages with law prohibiting gay marriage.

Senator John McCain is the only Republican who in a parallel universe would get my vote. He believes in immigration reform, supports stem cell research, and when he was asked a little under a month ago what he thought about President Bush saying we may be in Iraq for fifty years, he had this response: "Make it a hundred. We've been in Japan for 60 years, we've been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That'd be fine with me as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. That's fine with me."

So he's a crazy war-hawk. Next!

I was a proud Democrat when I was opposed to the war in 2003. I did a point/counterpoint in the school newspaper where after that "Mission Accomplished!" photo op, a fellow writer titled his article 'The Beginning Of The End.' Mine? 'The End Of The Beginning.' I predicted that the conflict would become more drawn out over time, that public support would dwindle - especially since we were told it was over in May - and that civil war among the Iraqi factions would break out.

I had people telling me I was an idiot, unpatriotic, and that I had little faith in America.

But here's the thing: not only would I be the first to tell you that I AM an idiot, that I AM unpatriotic, and that I DO have little faith in America - I've been right so far. Joke's on you guys for supporting it.

I supported John Kerry as he campaigned against President Bush. I was ashamed when on Letterman he was asked if he would end the war in Iraq upon election, and Kerry dodged the question. When Letterman called him on it, I was all the more ashamed that he STILL was dodging the question. But it didn't matter to me - a vote for Kerry was a vote against Bush.

Allegations of corruption in the 2004 Election aside, Karl Rove's maneuvering along with the Swiftboat Veterans (let the record state: they were LYING through their teeth) meant we got four more years of Bush. On a technical note, because of his illegitimate victory in 2000, he could very well enter the race one more time. I do breathe a sigh of relief as he coasts through his last year as our leader, possibly in a constant state of inebriation, and remains (possibly even more unapologetically) the most un-eloquent leader this side of the stuttering Roman emperor Claudius. (But at least HE had half a brain...)

My faith in the Democrats remained steadfast as the Congressional majority shifted. But then Pelosi and Reid were unable to back their promises. Senator Barbara Boxer, whose inflammatory anti-Bush rhetoric should have been accompanied by a dramatic orchestral score, has disappeared from the public eye. Despite my constant wish for it to be so, she didn't enter the race for President.

Instead of ending the war, the Democrats cut a deal with the Republicans to delay such legislation.

And what of the movement to impeach President Bush? All that has happened thus far is Congressman Kucinich's proposal to impeach Vice President Cheney...which Pelosi shot down, saying that "Impeachment is not on our agenda."

Thanks for nothing, pussies.

Jack Cafferty on CNN posted this question on his blog. Writing my answer prompted my rant.

When it comes right down to it, why won’t we vote to really change things?

In two words - complacency, familiarity.

In more words: The American public, despite its outcry, is lazy and afraid of change. We have known Hillary since 1992, and McCain has been in the public eye since 1999 when he began his run for President.
Republicans don't like Hillary, some don't like McCain.
Democrats don't like McCain, some don't like Hillary.
I could wager that the last few elections have seen the populace casting their votes AGAINST the opposing candidate, rather than FOR their candidate.
Rather than read about how the other Democratic candidates besides the three (now two) front-runners held more experience, the public is in favor of candidates who would rather make the election a personal feud. Never mind that it's been apparent since 2003, when Hillary's book came out, that she's been intent on running.
And the media/elite have been intent on making it happen.

My answer ends here.

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards all hold the least experience among the other Democratic candidates.

Senator Joe Biden is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. He previously ran for President in 1988 and briefly considered running in 2004. Many considered him a candidate for Secretary of State in a Democratic administration.

Senator Chris Dodd has been in the Congress since 1975 (and a Senator since 1981). He is chairman of the Banking Committee and was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1995 to 1997.

Governor Bill Richardson served as Congressman from 1983 to 1997, at which point he became the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. He later served as Secretary of Energy under Bill Clinton from late 1998 to 2001. He has been Governor of New Mexico since 2003.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich was considered among the worst mayors in the nation's history until it was found that his refusal to sell Cleveland's utilities out to a big business had actually spared the city $195 million dollars between 1985 and 1995. He's got an admirable record: voted against the USA Patriot Act ("because I actually read it," he contended at a CNN debate several months ago), voted against the Iraq War before it was cool to be opposed to it, and as previously mentioned has put forth legislation to impeach Cheney.

Senator Mike Gravel (yes, he is still in the race, despite the lack of media coverage) served in the Senate from 1968 to 1980 and while not successful at the time, he campaigned against the draft and the Vietnam War. Thanks to his filibuster where he read the Pentagon Papers aloud, by submitting them into the Congressional Record, he made them public. This man exposed corruption in the most liberal Democratic administration this country has had (besides FDR) - AS a liberal Democrat.

Let's be real, here. My support of Gravel is primarily symbolic. He is staunchly opposed to Senator Clinton - the enemy of my enemy is my friend - and called Hillary out for voting to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, which technically means military action against Iran can be authorized.

I have no quarrel with Obama. Nor with Edwards, though he announced his withdrawal yesterday afternoon, which after the withdrawals of Kucinich and Richardson narrows my support down to Obama.

The Clintons are waging a dirty campaign against Obama. Earlier this month, Hillary arrogantly proclaimed that while Martin Luther King was a great public figure, but that "it took a president" to put the Civil Rights Act into effect. What was she trying to say? Was this an attempt to discredit Dr. King? (If so, I've got a carton of eggs with her name on it.) Was this an indirect jab at Obama, who is also black?

On top of this, Bill is tarnishing his own legacy, going from the best foreign statesman we've ever had to a pushy jerk, sticking his finger in reporters' faces and accusing them of covering only the mudslinging.

Hillary has also said that terrorists will be quick to "test" our new president, and that her experience makes her more qualified to deal with such a situation. This is the same woman who jumped all over the Bush Administration for playing the fear card. And now - she's engaging in the very same practice. Just because it's wrong doesn't mean it's ineffective, I guess.

On the subject of experience, she served (duh.) as First Lady...then moved from a state where she couldn't have garnered a victory if she went door to door giving out free Klansmen robes to New York, where she is now (duh.) Senator. I knew this was fishy from the start, and referring again to Letterman, their occasional "Word Of The Day" was sponsored by "Senator Hillary Clinton - SHE LOVES NEW YORKERS!"

But what did she do BEFORE Bill was elected President? Oh, that's right - the bitch was a corporate lawyer for Wal-Mart! WAL-MART - you know, that American corporation founded and based in America that takes the idea of labor unions and takes an almighty dump on it? That institution that for me represents everything that is wrong with this country? Yes, that Wal-Mart.

Oh, and her crying at that New Hampshire press conference? Probably staged. The lady who asked that question ended up voting for Obama, funny enough.

And what of all that claptrap during the Nevada debates (which was in actuality a casual round table discussion) where she talked about the Democratic Party being a "family?" Guess that was just another ploy...

What happened with the Whitewater scandal? Are we going to just let that slide?

Is it too late for Al Gore to announce his candidacy? Or John Conyers, Barbara Boxer, Jimmy Carter, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, or Noam Chomsky?

If that horror of a human being gets the nomination, I am voting for Róger Calero. He is running as a candidate for the Socialist Workers' Party. (And I actually support his platform 100%.) Sure, voting third party is like taking the ballot and wiping my ass with it, but in my mind I'll be wiping my ass with the ballot and then smearing it all over Hillary's plasticine-sculpted, Botox-injected, soullessly grinning face.

Vote. It's your duty.


Monday, January 14, 2008

The Year 2007 In Review

So it's after my any of you still read this, anyway?

I've got to say that where 2006 was hit (falling in love, meeting Eric Condon, becoming really close friends with Graham) and miss (summer in Seymour, the religion debacle) in peak and valley proportions, 2007 was hit and miss in terms of mountains and ditches. In other words, a very good year with only minor bumps and bruises.

And so follows, me doing a recap (it is mainly for nostalgic purposes) and also some definitive lists.

+ New semester
+ Turn 20
+ Fall in love with 'The Office'
+ I quit The Heliocentrics, Eric and I form Hobbyhorse

+ Two break-ups with Shelley
+ Alex's Speech
+ Cocktail party with Forrest in tow - an interesting night
+ Hobbyhorse MySpace online

+ Beatles Mash-Up
+ Break-up with Shelley
+ Sick during Spring Break
+ Video project #1 for C335
+ Learned my parents had read my blog from January 2006 to the current date, I go offline for for five months

+ Video project #2 for C335
+ Purchasing Lather reignites my interest in the music of Frank Zappa, hot on the heels of my registration for the Zappa class
+ Nick in Mr. SHS Contest
+ I crash the Renaissance fair dressed as a knight (think Bam Margera on 'Jackass') and get kicked out for interrupting a fencing match armed with a plastic sword
+ Meet Shelley's mom after an already awkward relationship was established via several phone calls and emails
+ Move in with Eric and Keeler for the summer

+ Final break-up with Shelley
+ Chance meeting with Luke Hollingsworth yields a vast quantity of Frank Zappa music I didn't have that he had acquired
+ Lots of late nights on the Internets at the library
+ Lots of afternoons on the Internets at Shelley's house

+ Begin dating Melanie
+ Begin being a total horse's ass towards Shelley for a few weeks
+ Summer Session I ends - Writing Media Criticism
+ Summer Session II begins - Motion Picture Production

+ Spend July 4th in Bloomington
+ Break-up with Melanie (*cough* rebound dating *cough*)
+ Started being nice again to Shelley
+ Began following the Presidential campaign
+ Move out of the house and into Smallwood with Eric for one week

+ Blog back online
+ Summer Session II ends
+ Gulf Shores, Alabama
+ Fall semester begins
+ Eric's graduation party

+ Met Jimmy Carl Black & Simon Prentis
+ Exchanged emails with Arthur Barrow
+ Kate and I start seeing each other
+ Home recording, my MySpace goes online

+ Skipped Oktoberfest because I'm awesome
+ Auditioned for Joel Barker's band Overhand
+ Started the grad school application thing
+ Befriended Laura
+ Signed for the apartment

+ Kate and I break up
+ Shelley begins shooting her movie
+ Brought Charles Jiang home for Thanksgiving
+ Took the GRE
+ Decide specific area of interest for grad school (Rock Music Films)

+ Home for Mom's birthday weekend
+ Shelley completes her movie, I Am Woman, Hear Me Whimper
+ I adapt The Kinks' Preservation into a full-length script
+ Andy's concert @ The Bluebird
+ Eric (brother) gets engaged
+ Online application to George Mason University screenwriting program
+ Down to New Albany to record drum tracks for Hobbyhorse album (Release TBA)

So I ended 2007 just as I had started it: in New Albany, with Eric Condon...that was a lot more poignant and a lot less gay before I typed that out.

All right, now let's get cracking on the all-important list of music.

Let me first say that in terms of modern music this was the year of "Well, it's about damn time you put out another album!"

The White Stripes' Icky Thump was a logical successor to Get Behind Me Satan, both a continuance of the innovations of their 2005 album and a return to the bouncy, distorted tunes of Elephant. Their cover of "Conquest" is nothing less than bitchin'.

After a year recording and touring with Rob Zombie, resulting in my favorite album of 2006 (Educated Horses), the surprisingly eclectic (and if you heard him on The Golden Age Of Grotesque by Marilyn Manson - more on him in a bit - the surprisingly TALENTED) John 5 put out The Devil Knows My Name, which, being available only online (or as a thirty dollar import at $am Goody - get it? The S was a dollar sign because they're greedy!) means two things:
1.) Too few people have heard it.
2.) I, unfortunately, am not among that few yet. What I've heard so far is flawlessly executed, melodic guitar-slinging. But would we expect anything less from a man who learns a new song every day as practice?

The Smashing Pumpkins, if that's what you'd like to call them (I prefer Zwan-minus-the-shitty-music), did Zeitgeist, an album which, were Billy Corgan to drop dead tomorrow morning, serves as a far better swansong than TheFutureEmbrace (which has one of the fruitiest album covers ever) and Machina - either part, both suck.

The big album of 2007 for me was Marilyn Manson's long-awaited return, some four years after The Golden Age Of Grotesque, an album which still has yet to make a lasting impression beyond a few standouts. However, Eat Me, Drink Me marked a turning point for Manson. The socially charged lyrics of Holy Wood are nowhere to be found. However, this is hardly a complaint. The lyrics on that album work for the context of that album, as is the case with the new release.
Since his 2003 effort, Manson has gotten married, divorced, and found new love - hence the album's delayed release. It was worth the wait, as this might be Manson at his most poetic. There is no image associated with the artist on the disc like on the self-proclaimed triptych (Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals, and Holy Wood), nor is there pretense (as on GAOG, which was the lyrical equivalent of a Brakhage film: stupid, self-gratifying, and pointless). The Antichrist turned glam rocker turned revolutionary turned cokehead Weimar wannabe has let his guard down for once and shown us the man beneath the makeup, beneath the cheap contact, and beneath the screaming vocals.
The only shame with the album musically is that it isn't John 5 melting the fretboard on the eleven tracks; he left the band in 2005. This shouldn't interfere with your enjoyment of it, though. Tim Sköld is a very talented musician, filling both guitar and bass duties. It's strange that though every drum track on this album was programmed through a machine, Eat Me, Drink Me has a pulse, while the live drums on GAOG are about as cold as Ronald Reagan's corpse.
Lots of great melodies, and though there lyrics that might be a bit too personal for the casual listener (for me it was most likely right place, right time, as my personal life was headed for disaster), they are his sharpest and most mature to date. All this after "Coma Black," "Disposable Teens," "Man That You Fear," "Rock Is Dead," and "The Speed Of Pain." It might be a lofty claim, but with Manson putting his heart into his work rather than a barrage of cultural references more obscure than Dennis Miller ranting about Dadaism during 'Monday Night Football' I can easily liken this album to John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. I'm not going to ask you to agree with me on this, like I said, even I think that's a bit bawdy.
It's not all about his feelings, though. "Mutilation Is The Most Sincere Form Of Flattery" gives the MySpace generation a literal "Fuck you!" in its chorus. Anyway, this album rocks, it has lighter-waving anthems, and dare I say it an eerie beauty that we haven't heard in seven whole years.
Ladies and gentlemen, Marilyn Manson is back.

News just came my way that Tim Sköld is out of the band (amicably, to the point that they may still collaborate) and has been replaced by his old cohort Twiggy Ramirez, returning from Nine Inch Nails after not being in Manson's band since 2001. They are already in the studio to work on what will be the band's seventh studio album.

For me, though, I still prefer looking back not on the releases of 2007 (well, music, anyway) but instead the top 3 songs I had in rotation each month.

1. "Sigillum Diaboli" - HIM (Greatest Love Songs, Volume 666, 1997)
2. Requiem For OMM2 - Of Montreal (The Sunlandic Twins, 2005)
3. "Agent Versus Agent, Spy Versus Spy" - Messer Für Frau Müller (Triangle, Dot, And Devil, 2006)

1. "You Know The Drill" - Hobbyhorse (Untitled Album, 2008)
2. "Bama-Lama, Bama-Loo" - Little Richard (Single, 1964)
3. "I Just Want Something To Do" - Local H (The No Fun EP, 2003)

1. "Bohemian Like You" - The Dandy Warhols (Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, 2000)
2. "Strict Machine" - Goldfrapp (Black Cherry, 2003)
3. "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" - The Sex Pistols (The Great Rock 'N Roll Swindle, 1979)

1. "Disco Boy" - Frank Zappa (Baby Snakes, 1983)
2. "Lose You Tonight" - HIM (Deep Shadows And Brilliant Highlights, 2001)
3. "Overture - My Roots: Money (That's What I Want)/Messin' With the Kid" - Todd Rundgren (Something/Anything?, 1972)

1. "Heart-Shaped Glasses" - Marilyn Manson (Eat Me, Drink Me, 2007)
2. "Panic" - The Smiths (Louder Than Bombs, 1987)
3. "Nobody Rides For Free" - Grant Hart (Good News For Modern Man, 1999)

1. "Cheepnis" - The Mothers (Roxy And Elsewhere, 1974)
2. "Psycho Killer" - Talking Heads (Talking Heads: 77, 1977)
3. "Dead Girls Of London" - Frank Zappa (Any Way The Wind Blows, rec. 1979, rel. 1991)

1. "Never Talking To You Again" - Hüsker Dü (Zen Arcade, 1984)
2. "Flakes" - Frank Zappa (Sheik Yerbouti, 1979)
3. "Toxic" - Local H (Alive '05, 2005)

1. "They Said That Hell's Not Hot" - Marilyn Manson (Eat Me, Drink Me, 2007)
2. "T.V. Eye" - The Stooges (Fun House, 1970)
3. "What Difference Does It Make?" - (The Smiths, 1984)

1. "Supply And Demand" - The Hives (Veni Vidi Vicious, 2000)
2. "Debaser" - The Pixies (Doolittle, 1989)
3. "International Feel" - Todd Rundgren (A Wizard, A True Star, 1973)

1. "Hello It's Me" - The Nazz (The Nazz, 1968)
2. "Dead God" - Tim Sköld (Dead God, 2001)
3. "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" - The Monkees (Single, 1967)

1. "Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy" - The Mothers (Bongo Fury, 1975
2. "Preservation" - The Kinks (Single, 1974)
3. "The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution" - Frank Zappa (Sleep Dirt, 1979)

1. "All My Friends Are Dead" - Turbonegro (Party Animals, 2005)
2. "Like A Rolling Stone" - Bob Dylan (Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)
3. "Amnerika" - Frank Zappa (Civilization Phaze III, 1994)

And you know what? So much has been going on, I'm gonna go ahead and call
1. "Cinnamon Girl" - Neil Young (Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, 1969)

Trust me on this one. It will be number one for January 2008 twelve months from today, too.

On Saturday, January 12th, I submitted my application to the CMCL graduate program. I should hear back from them by at the earliest February 8th. George Mason will notify me in the middle of next month; in other words, after I have heard back from CMCL. Let's hope it's me having to pick between two schools. Or at the very worst, saying, "Well, guess I'm moving to Arlington, Virginia!"

I have spent a little too much time posting this...I need to rest a bit, then do laundry, and enjoy the last little bit of the four-day weekend I have every week. Not having classes on Monday and Friday is probably the best way to have my final undergrad semester.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

"I've got to admit it's getting better..."

Um...Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year.

So, how was my break? Pretty good. I finally was able to go down to New Albany and help Eric complete the Hobbyhorse album. There's lots of mixing and stuff to do on his end, but I'll certainly keep you posted with any updates.

Now, let's cut to the current event:

On the eve of my birthday, I have virtually completed my application to grad school. Recommendation letters, obtaining my transcript, taking the GRE, and the finishing touch - writing my statement of purpose.

It's been the mental equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest.

I checked several online resources, as well as conferred with a CMCL grad student about writing a good statement of purpose. All across the board I encountered these same rules again and again:

(Forrest - you're grad school material. I hope you're reading this!)

+ Take everything you ever knew about writing a formal paper and/or letter and chuck it out the window. This is because your paper needs to stand out, and the average applicant might make a formality out of it.

+ Start with an anecdote. Explain your love for what you want to study, but go beyond just saying you love it. Why do you love it?

+ Describe what you want to study. Even six months ago, I would have thought this was going to be as hard as picking a major is for the average college freshman. I owe it to several people (in CMCL and elsewhere) for inspiring me to go into studying what I have chosen.

+ Explain why you want to study your desired field at the indicated school. That might seem self-explanatory...but it's a tough question to answer without some thought.

+ If you've got some explaining to do for any academic hiccups, now's the time. What I have in mine (we're all human) is hopefully easier to rectify than an off semester, but still. Reinforce your abilities and assure your audience that whatever the slip-up was is in the past.

+ Mention potential faculty that with whom you would like to work. Home court advantage...there were a couple professors I've had whose area of expertise overlaps with my intended field, as well as another professor that I didn't have for a class. This might really only be helpful if you have some familiarity with the faculty. I can't imagine doing this on an application for a school on the other side of the country.

+ THE CARDINAL RULE: Keep your statement of purpose at the core of your statement of purpose. It's in the title: you are stating the purpose for your continued education. Stick to it and omit any excessive fat.

I would post mine, but I'm shy.

Knowing that there are on average 300 applicants for 10 slots, you better believe I'll be nervous until I get a reply. If I get accepted, I learned, I cannot stay at IU to pursue my PhD. I can only get two of the three degrees they offer here. Though I could get my M.A. somewhere else and come back for my Ph.D., but I think it would be best to stay here for my Master's degree as I become acclimated to grad school.

Now, if I don't get in, since by June or August (jury's still out on all that bullshit) all of my College of Arts & Sciences requirements will have been met, I could declare a second major and spend the 2008-2009 school year fulfilling it. During that time I can re-take the GRE and look into other grad programs, never mind that a second degree at the Bachelor's level alone opens up a lot of doors.

I love both of the minors (History, Slavic Studies) I have, but Slavic Languages & Literatures requires for the major study of a Slavic Language. My concentration has almost exclusively been film courses through the department. I would look into the West European Studies Department, Telecommunications, maybe an Individualized Major. (Anyone reading this whose name rhymes with "orrest," "elley," "aura," or "aham" could probably take a guess as to what that would be. I've got a hint: I would need to check with an instructor whose last name rhymes with "ollinden" to determine its feasibility.)

Anyway...kind of a lot on my mind. This semester has already gotten off to a great start. I don't want to bore you with all the details, but let's just say my last (expected) semester as an undergrad is going to be the best.