August 2, 2010

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:30 pm by Iain

I hate how repressed/constrained/fake my brother is and how paralyzing that is for his psyche.

I hate how lonely I am here and in Iowa.

I hate how I still don’t have a job.

I hate the mindless ennui that comes with having so many plans yet managing to disappoint every single one of them.

I hate how soulless I am sometimes and how many things that I should know that I don’t.

I hate how every member of my family has recently gone through my open door unasked, looked at me, peered around my computer screen to see what I’m doing, looked back at me, and then walked out, and though that everything that they just did was unconditionally and irrevocably okay. IT’S CALLED PRIVACY OASKDJFALKSJRGOIAJSDLKFJASLDKGJAOIJFSLD

I love how, a few days ago, my parents and I finally talked through parts of their marriage that my mom has felt too powerless to articulate to her husband for the past 40 years.


June 26, 2010

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:38 pm by Iain

I’m a person that can’t have favorite things. I don’t know why. I just can’t. However, I do think I can safely say that (500) Days of Summer, although not my favorite movie,  is probably the best movie that I have seen in my life to date. And for me, that’s saying something.

The movie does have its flaws (the title’s hip parenthetical ambiguity or the weird scene where the movie confuses Summer’s freedom to not be protected by sexism with being an uppity not-girlfriend), but the rest of the movie is pretty damn good. The music matches the feeling of the movie perfectly, the plot is spot on, and some of the scenes are so well done it’s like they’re your memories. And when a movie whose plot revolves around recreating a memory recreates your memory, well, I think it’s done pretty well as a movie then, don’t you think?

And furthermore! The reality / expectations scene is probably the single best scene ever created in the history of the universe! Nuts to you, future big-shot movie writers /directors,  you all suck. Quit trying.


1. O Brother Where Art Thou?

June 11, 2010

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:25 am by Iain

I was listening to some music on the way back from Ames today and for some reason it dislodged this random memory I have from my ultimate frisbee years.

I was riding in a car with two high level guitar bros and we were all discussing whether it was cool and progressive for musicians to emulate specific sounds through music. I think guitar bro A was talking about sweet the Red Hot Chili Peppers are while guitar bro B was explaining how painful it is to listen to Jimi Hendrix? – I don’t really know. It was all typical music posturing and hence, typical masculine hubris, so I wasn’t actually listening to any of the arguments. I think I also might have been a little drunk at the time, so that probably could have affected things too.

Anyway, in the process of all of thise I tried to make a point, but was instead silenced by that patron saint of circumscribed discourse, hipsterism. I know how silly it is for me to say anything about music (I am bad at listening to music), so my comment probably deserved to be squashed. But I still wish I could’ve articulated how I felt. I don’t tend to have many male conversations that actually communicate anything, and that was a chance, in a very small way. But instead of having a meaningful conversation with two other guys, I  instead had to wait a couple of years and self-disclose to my own blog. How depressing.

For posterity’s sake, I agreed, and still do, with guitar bro A. Not for his opinions on the Red Hot Chili Peppers (lolz), but because I feel like music should be about something that’s attempting to evoke something greater than itself. Sure I don’t really like Jimi Hendrix trying to simulate have sex on his guitar, but I can at least respect how well that encapsulates who he was and where music was going. Or in other words, I don’t have to like a person’s music to respect their creativity.

And right now, what I do like is the poignancy and sincerity that singers like Sufjan Stevens are able to bring out of their lyrics or the musical genius of a guitarist like Kaki King. Musicians likes Sufjan or Kaki make music that is so genuine and so beautiful that it’s almost impossible to not love what they’re doing. Case in point, the song I was listening to that started me on this whole thing, Kaki King’s “All the Landslides Birds Have Seen Since the Beginning of the World.”

June 6, 2010

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:20 pm by Iain

Oh look, another social commentary that does nothing to actually change society and just ends up serving as another bastion of privilege and whiteness. How entirely new and original.

Who gives a fuck if a bunch of middle-class white kids repeatedly broke the law to start a money-less freegan resort. It’s slumming; it’s what middle-class white people were born to do. All an article likes this really does is to make other middle-class white people proud to be white and middle-class. I mean, just look at all the quotes from all of the other “respectable” citizens. Every one stresses a cognitive dissonance between how poor they looked and how polite they were, or how really, on the inside, all those hippies are just cute capitalism embracing butterflies waiting to spring forth from their dirty freegan chrysalises.

Come on New York Times, it isn’t hard to read in between the lines there. “Wow they were so polite!” doesn’t translate to “wow good for them! but “good thing they were white and middle class, or else we would’ve hauled their freeloading asses off to jail!” How long do you really think it would take for something like this to be shut down if it was founded by a person of color or a lower class white person? A day? Probably even less? And don’t get me started on the phrase “decadent poverty, ugh.” Way to fetishize the oppression of an entire socioeconomic class, real classy stuff.

I have to say though, my favorite part of the article is easily page five. There the author quotes Tristram Stuart, one of the main apostles of freeganist thinking, and while the author seems intent on painting the freegans as social luminaries (he compares them to Thoreau a little bit later), Stuart doesn’t comply. He simply writes that although “freeganism serves a purpose, because it draws attention to a problem…it doesn’t offer the solution.” Or more bluntly, “this article is self-indulgent middle-class bullshit and frankly, you have much better things to do with your time.”

June 5, 2010

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:03 pm by Iain

I’ve been a rock climber the past 2 maybe 3 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever really written about it. It’s not to say that I don’t want to write about climbing, but that for some reason it’s just…hard.

It’s hard not to fall victim to all the cultural stereotypes that seem to have to use to speak about a lifestyle sport like rock climbing. You know, the mindless rock bum, frolicking upon the impoverished margins of society. The brand name nature bro, whose existence depends solely upon our lady Mother Nature™. Or the globe-spanning climbing celebrity, conquering harsh foreign landscape at his leisure. They’re all great stereotypes, don’t get me wrong. It’s just, none of those stereotypes are particularly apt. Also, I hate them.

Or more specifically, I hate this guy.

Read the rest of this entry »

June 1, 2010

Another day, another park

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:05 pm by Iain

I would have been spending some more quality time with Marv and his bench today, but ’twas not to be. Today was Memorial Day and Memorial Days in Cedar Falls tend to transform even the most pleasant of parks into an amorphous blob of sentient Iowan flesh. I don’t particularly relish amorphous blobs, let alone those of the pasty, gelatinous variety. Hence, Washington Park for the day.

Unfortunately, this right here is a picture of the abusive piece of shit that decided to take his son to Washington Park on his Memorial Day. Rather than something reasonable like, I don’t know, actually loving his son, this asshole came to the park to verbally abuse his kid while playing baseball.  It was all clear-cut power dynamic bullshit, like “CUT IT OUT, QUITE PLAYING LIKE SUCH A PANSY,”  “WOULD YOU BE WALKING IF THIS WAS A REAL GAME?” or “I’VE HAD IT WITH YOUR LAZY ASS, GET GOING” and finally “I SWEAR TO GOD, IF YOU SAY ANOTHER FUCKING WORD YOU’RE GOING HOME.”

First, what do you even do in a situation like that? Not just as an observer, but as a member of a relationship that could easily slip into violence with the slightest of changes? And second, gosh, what is it about this power dynamic that seems so familiar, especially in the context of Cedar Falls? A white guy in a position of uncompromising power, belittling another human being with no respect for that person’s dignity. Hmm, I wonder what it could be…

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May 30, 2010

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:53 pm by Iain

So there’s this bench at my favorite park in Cedar Falls. It’s a nice bench,  made of that cheap, blue, cross-hatched plastic you see on most other benches. It sits on a prominence on the park’s eponymous Big Woods Lake. The view’s great.

Picture forthcoming!

My favorite thing about this bench is the fact that it isn’t just anyone’s bench, it’s Marv Diemer’s bench. Yet it’s not one of those morbid benches created specifically so that someone can sit upon the loving memory of Phyllis G. Winthorpe or Hamilton (Hammy) J. Flint. Rather, Marv Diemer was the thoughtful  (and decidedly living) guy that decided to christen this bench with both name and poem. It reads:

Sit and rest for a moment. / Look at the sky, the grass, / the shape of the tree limbs, / the water in the lake / Feel the solid earth beneath / your feet.

For those that are not poetry inclined, let me summarize (those who are, skip to the next paragraph). So basically, Marv’s bench is a little bit pushy. It invites you to sit down upon it, only to further dictate to you how to correctly experience the surrounding sky, vegetation, water, and earth. When was the last time some bench invited you to sample its comfy bauxite exterior? When was the last time a bench highlighted the rigidly policed avenues through which our society feels are the proper ways to “experience nature?” Probably never. And if that’s the case, you should probably go sit on Marv Diemer’s bench right now.

The poem is great and all, but y’know, I can never help but feel as if Marv left something out. As if those banal park bench bureaucrats forced Marv to remove a sentence or two before granting him his bench. Callously holding his bench ransom, until Marv had to acquiesce and sully his otherwise pristine creative genius. Something like:

And yeah maybe ignore that highway too, / behind you. / It kind of ruins the moment.

May 28, 2010

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:29 pm by Iain

So I’m trying this new thing where I stop affecting apathy in my writing. Partly for my own growth as a writer, but mainly so that I force myself to confront my emotions with a candor that doesn’t hide behind humor or ambivalence to mask (or silence) its ramifications. It’s difficult. Not to mention a little bit ironic. I mean wow, it took me what, roughly five months for me to completely reject “I just don’t think it’s possible for irony to ever become a bad thing” just two posts down? Sure, I understood that something like this was going to happen when I said something so definitively, but five months? My life is a roller coaster. (Sorry Ali)

Anyway. I have officially graduated from the four year institution of my choice. Unfortunately, my life is just as meaningless as it was before I started, but things are alright, because things have changed. And as apprehensive as I feel towards those four years, I think I’m happy with the things that have changed. I know, I know, you’re probably a little worried that that was a signal phrase that is going to lead into one of those glowing recaps of my college experience posts. Let me be the first to tell you that this is exactly not what I’m about to do. What I am going to do is to tell you how much this post is not a glowing recap of my college experience, while all the while writing about my glowing college experience. Ah Northern Iowa, you’ve taught me so much.

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March 26, 2010

How to resolve everything in the world

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:59 pm by Iain

From one of the fine people at the anti-racism blog, Stuff White People Do:

I think most people get apologies wrong just in general. Fake apologies are like, reflexive or something. I used to suck at apologizing and I have to admit it still doesn’t come 100% naturally (god, I hate to be wrong), but someone, I wish I could remember who, taught me exactly how to apologize, and damned if it doesn’t totally work.

Ideally, it should take ONE SENTENCE. In this exact order: 1) specifically state the error; 2) express your remorse, simply; and then 3) stfu so the other person can consider whether to accept or reject. If you did it right, they’ll accept. Example: “When I said XYZ, I invoked a hurtful stereotype, and I am really sorry.”

Easy peasy! Now: don’t do it again.
The beauty is, it forces you to identify and address the actual wrong, and the other person knows you Sincerely See The Problem.
Note, the sentence cannot include bingo qualifiers. So no: “I’m sorry if it sounded like…” or “I wasn’t thinking and I…” or “Yikes! That came out wrong. I meant…” Even phrases that are short enough insert into a one-sentence apology are bingo squares. They’re still irrelevant explanations of intent, and they invalidate the entire apology. And they have a way of slipping in, even when you know better. Just suck it up and apologize. Risk the potential rejection. It takes effort, but it’s worth it. It get easier with time, and you tend to screw up less in the first place.

And it’s not as bad as you think. People would rather not be pissed, so you might be surprised at how they just move right on when you apologize. It goes a long way.

November 19, 2009

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:07 pm by Iain

I just don’t think it’s possible for irony to ever become a bad thing. It just won’t  happen.

Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace Episode One (Part One)

Part Two

Part Three

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