Saturday, May 5, 2012

Conor - Statistics, real and imagined

My best guess as to my stats thus far in life.

Days alive - 7394
    Days used wisely - 7
    Days wasted - 7390
    Days spent doing literally nothing other than playing Final Fantasy - 6

Real worlds I have saved from the brink of destruction - 0
Fictional worlds I have saved from the brink of destruction - I wanna say around 20

Highest combo in real life - 11
Highest combo in one of the Tony Hawk video games - 9,273,846

Longest Amount Of Time Spent On A Toilet - However long it took me to read that Calvin & Hobbes book

Shortest Shower - 2 minutes - 47% clean
Longest Shower - 63 minutes - Stupidly clean

Hours I've spent playing video games I don't enjoy with Nick Dietrich - Around 300

Statistics I hope I am never ever confronted with
Texts sent
Monster Energy Drinks consumed
Time spent on facebook
Amount of time spent talking about the Wire
Amount of time spent thinking about talking about the Wire
Classic Brian posts skipped

Times I've listened to Outset Island by Hot Freaks in the past year alone - 13,722 times

Hairs grown on my face -  97

Relationship status - It's complicated with Pickleman's Gourmet Deli

Percentage of time spent staring at my own video feed during skype conversations - 88%

Frisbees thrown - over 9,000

How many times I've said the word sick - 6,745, or, enough for it to be not ironic anymore

Days until I go back to Springfield for Summer break - 9 days
Days until then that will be hellish - the next 3
Hours I will sleep - negligible

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

At the Wheel

robert langellier

I can rejoice in the days when I can drive the two lane roads fast with the windows down and bright, banal pop playing. Those are the greatest days.
Tonight is not the greatest, it’s a pretty bad night, but it’s a hot night and the windows are down and I’m at least going fast.
            I work in the nursing homes. Or rather, I volunteer in the nursing homes. Or rather still, I invest in the nursing homes. Time, that is. I invest time. I put time in, and it is like volunteering, and I take out experience, and eventually when I’ve amassed enough of that I shape and mold and ball that experience up into a brilliant work of art, a grandiose, seminal masterpiece of magazine literature, which I sell for profit, and that is how it is like working.
            I choose nursing homes to invest in because they are a problem. They are prison-like institutions, which is a simile made to me by the majority of residents I’ve gotten to know. They are inhumane, identity-thieving places that treat breathing, sentient animals like nonbreathing, nonsentient obstacles. They are ugly monsters of bureaucracy, creatures foaming with regulations that tie sprightly elderlies to their unneeded walkers (falling is a liability) and throw pie-baking parties (the most exciting event of the month) to the dumpster because the granny smiths are not FDA-approved. They are waiting rooms for the funeral pyre.
            And it is a growing waiting room running out of chairs. Baby boomers are settling in today, and tomorrow, when the aging process is liable to have become even more arduous and desperate, I will be. That is why I invest in their improvement.
            I try to treat these elderly folk as people. It is a lot to ask of me, but I do it. I do not baby talk them because they are not babies. I do not yell unless they really can’t hear me. I do not talk to them about the weather, or about dinner. I talk to them about their histories and their happiness, and there is much and there is little, respectively. Nobody from this particular institution pays me, and so I have no need for pretending, no motivation for putting on airs. No reason to say, “Ma’am, it’s okay” when I really mean, “Ma’am, be quiet and go to your room if you do not need assistance.” I don’t say either of these things. I have no cause to advertise today’s daily activity as “fun.” I have no purpose toward bustling past a woman murmuring, “Help me…” because she is too frail to get back to her room in her wheelchair in less than ten trying minutes. I have no agenda to buff the appearance of the place. I have no agenda to convince these people that they are invalid and happy.
            My agenda comes from a different source. It comes from no administration, but from the cognizant mouths of residents who very ably tell me what they want and what they need and what they are capable of and how they feel about their environment. And there is a chasm between those two agendas.
            Tonight is a bad night, though, so let’s return to that. It’s draining work, what I do. It makes me happy that I may be doing something good, but it is the most depressing and lowdown feeling experience to be in the place, which makes me even happier that I may be doing something good. I hate being there. It is overwhelming and insurmountable and the unhappy atmosphere is crushing to anyone inside who has no motivation for putting on airs. Rarely do I feel good upon leaving the place. I didn’t tonight. On my way out, I heard a harmonica, and there is no music in that place so the blowing was enough to elate me. I meandered over to check it out, whereupon a desk nurse called me over.
            “Can I help you?”
            “I’m just listening.”
            “You like that harmonica?”
            “Yeah.” A man in a wide-brim Texan hat was sitting in a wheelchair by a side door, blowing. He wasn’t very good.
            “He’s been banging by that window forever now.”
            “Oh yeah?”
            “He lives down the hall that way.” She pointed.
            “Well, I love harmonicas.”
            “Are you leaving?”
            “Yep. I’m out of here.”
            “You wouldn’t mind taking him with you?” She grinned.
            “Sure thing.”
            I walked up to him, and after an awkward exchange, I convince him he ought to play by another door to “get a new view.” Convince is a strong word. I rather told him he should play by another door until he conceded, because it was difficult to make out what he was saying.
            I wheeled him across the hall and gave the desk nurse a nod of acknowledgement. Upon arriving at Pop’s room—that is his name—he requested to be stopped there instead of at the nearest side door. Inside he reproached me.
            “Why did I need to be moved?” Pop is old, but he’s big and he’s confrontational and he’s not taking my shit.
            “I just thought you might want to play at a different window.”
            “What was wrong with me playing there?”
            “I, uh, I just thought that, uh, you’d want a different view.”
            Now he began each word slowly, with seething emphasis. “What was wrong with me playing there? Why did I have to be moved?”
            “Well. The nurse told me to ask if you’d want to be moved somewhere else.”
            “The nurse?”
            “Why couldn’t I play by the door? Why did I have to be moved?”
            “Well. I don’t know. I, uh. The nurse just told me to ask if you’d want to move somewhere else.”
            “I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I was happy right there.”
            “Well you should’ve told me that. I didn’t know that.”
            “Right. Go along. You’ve done your duty.” Pop knew.
            And so I left then, having removed the obstacle from the nurse’s area. I turned the music on loud in my car, and I began driving fast, fast enough to shatter any fear of youth and speed and control that I had before having witnessed the dead, unholy opposite of it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nick - Saffron City Fighting Dojo

This is one of the first songs I ever wrote for guitar. I don't play that set of songs very much anymore, but for some reason this one sticks with me.

It's not even particularly good; the lyrics aren't witty, the guitar part isn't intricate. Maybe it's the title (my favorite song title to date) or maybe it's the zen feeling I get when I'm playing the guitar part. Em7 to D, over and over again. At any rate, this is the first time I've ever recorded it, so enjoy this shoddy recording.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Memory Audio

robert langellier

You don't have to read this. But that's what this is about, that's what inspired this thought. It's by Nadia Wiwatwicha. Do you remember her? I do.

A few years ago my grandparents moved. They lived in that Quincy, IL Victorian house my entire life, and most of theirs. When I visited then, I knew it was the last time I would see the building with my eyes. In a heroic attempt to capture the image of that particular "last," I decided to invoke that one thing where you listen to a song while something important happens and you associate that song with that moment in time and space forever and ever and ever. Except normally, that happens by accident. You just happen to listen to "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith on the way home from a 4th of July fireworks party where your first love stood you up. Or just by chance your mix CD breaks and it plays the first 30 seconds of of track 1 for the remainder of the entire summer. They are coincidences, and sometimes they don't even happen at exceptional times at all. Sometimes songs monopolize driving through a small city in the winter at night, or sitting in sand on the Atlantic coast. That's pretty greedy of those songs, in my opinion, but it isn't my fault or their fault because it's all just coincidence.

Anyway, on that particular day I decided to test if I could do it on purpose, if I could break the coincidence principle, because apparently being at my grandmother's house for the final time is something I recognize as probably important but that in reality I don't really trust myself to treat with all that much sacredness. At some point in the day, I walked around their backyard, probably billions of times, listening to "Thrash Unreal" by Against Me, which, for anyone who knows me, isn't something I'd typically listen to elsewhere because it has electric guitars and loud noises. ("No mother ever dreams that her daughter's gonna grow up to be a junkie.")

I walked around listening to that song, punching slow and heavy footprints into the low and wooden borderlines of my grandpa's treasured garden that I historically have liked to break things in. Repeat, repeat, repeat. ("No mother ever dreams that her daughter's gonna grow up to sleep alone.") This, until I felt satisfied. Maybe I should've chosen a less ominous and dually applicable song than one about the horrors of denying your own aging, but I did this until I felt satisfied. And you know what, it worked, god damn it. I actually have vivid memories of the menial task of simply walking in circles around a fucking yard. All it took was the simple decision to remember it, and then some merciless musical repetition. I completely intend to document the rest of my life in this way. My memoirs will be a Spotify playlist.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I'm the worst.

I know I haven't posted in awhile and I feel pretty shitty about that. I also know that when Tuesday night rolls around this week I will almost certainly forget to post again. Therefore, with your blessing, I'd like to post right now since I'm thinking about it. I know this isn't much of a blog post but I'm linking an album I put up on facebook as my post for this week. I put about as much effort into as I would a blog entry and I think it's somewhat entertaining. Here ya go:

Sorry if you're not friends with me and can't see it. Sorry if You're Robert and don't have a Facebook. Not sorry if you're anyone else and don't have a Facebook.

-The real Mada

Derrick Rose leaps, tears ACL, still up in the air

From the moment David Stern decreed that Derrick Rose was the No. 1 selection as chosen by the Bulls, Chicago's prodigious point guard has seen his career arc steadily rise with little alteration other than the slight (but expected) quiver of a botched crunch-time sequence or playoff defeat.

One thing Chicagoans could count on throughout the past four years: Derrick Rose was becoming a superstar.

Never had his output yielded any forthcoming of doubt or shrinkage of potential, his ceiling remained at a staggering height as he made drive after scintillating drive of contortion and finesse.

He showed toughness, too. He'd sink a backbreaking jumper (the length of which kept extending, at a rate that made it seem imaginable that he would be hitting half-courters with regularity by the time he turned 30) just when the United Center crowd would be begging for some to throw a dagger into the opponent's throat; he'd get mad at the referees — an anger shared by his true-hometown crowd — and play better because of it; he never made ceremony of demanding the ball in the game's final possessions, he just did it.

That steady career incline came to a jarring halt on April 28, 2012. With 1:10 left in the fourth quarter of Saturday's playoff-opening rout, the faith in the future held by Bulls fans turned back to hope, or worse yet — mere optimism. Simply put, we don't know where things go from here.

Derrick was developing in all facets. He was becoming smarter, he was shooting better, he was leading better, and even casting himself better in a social light (the cover of GQ, my man!). He was developing a competitive entitlement that nearly always produces championships out of players of his caliber. The ACL tear he sustained in Saturday's game is sure to compel Derrick to grow up further. But growing up doesn't mean winning NBA titles.

Who Derrick Rose is doesn't really matter. The basketball lover in me will be forever thankful (even if the injury's severity had required amputation of his leg) for the sheer entertainment Derrick brought the region of Chicago with the incredulity-inducing acrobatics he displayed on the court. I don't care if he is sheltered, boring, and a lesser superstar. The Bulls lover in me was just hoping he would be the kind of sheltered, boring, lesser superstar that retired with championship rings on his farewell-waving fingers.

Not to say that his career is over — he's 23. This injury, however, has cast his career into a frontier of sorts that haven't necessarily been played out in front of us. Remember that time Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Dwyane Wade all tore their ACLs before leading their teams to multiple titles? There's your path, D-Rose. Make it and walk it at the same time.

April 28, 2012 is a day Derrick Rose, along with his passionately adoring fans, will not forget. It will be remembered as the day "adversity" became more than just a synonym for the Miami Heat. It will be remembered as Rose's first backward step.

The impending recovery process will not let the injury be forgotten, at least not for about calendar year. From here on, it will be a journey to full strength, a detour the Bulls were under the impression they had just completed, not one they had just begun. The offseason will be mildly encouraging progress reports, and in certain moments some of us may forget that Rose is inactive. In free agency and the draft, the Bulls will ask themselves if C.J. Watson is a viable enough backup while Rose stocks up on fancy suits. Rose will employ this new wardrobe in the preseason and in the beginning games of the regular year.

We will be more frequently updated about his health, until it is to a countdown, and then Derrick will start getting into shape, working out and finally practicing. The media will volley questions around without possibly being able to answer them: Is Derrick Rose going to be the same? Can this story end like we were sure it was going to — in a league title and a heroic legacy? He will suit up, return to his spot in the lineup as the franchise face and last introduced at home games, and he will likely receive a tipoff from an amped-up Joakim Noah's fingers.

And sometime between when Noah smacks the ball and when Derrick retrieves it, the sports world will think back to Saturday's game and the tragedy of uncertainty will finally be felt, as a question will unanimously come into the minds of those watching who care:

Was April 28, 2012, the unlikely beginning of Derrick Rose's story or the bitter, bitter end?

--Eliot Sill