Time to complain: Actually, I should be reading either Doktor Faustus or The Painted Bird, but for the sake of entertainment and relaxation, I figured I’d complain a bit—this time about other people.
I called Andrew last night, and the night before he called me. Anyway, at one point we briefly discussed the topic on online poetry, and how—for the most part—it sucks. Actually, I believe the question was “What do you think is harder to write, poetry or prose?” I responded with a question—Do you mean good poetry (or good prose)? For indeed, it is quite easy to write schlock. Crap. Cheese. Drivel. Trust me—I write lots of it (and you find much of it on this site!). (Note: Andrew got to repeat the unintentional rhyme “ample examples” several times ...) It is easy to write putrid poety and to compose painful prose. Someone I chatted with online the other day mentioned that she writes lots of poetry—love poems. She can’t be with her sweetheart, who is joining the army (to get away from her?), and they live several towns apart. They can’t be together, so she writes love poems. I haven’t read any of these poems, and I don’t want to—I would be willing to bet that the majority of these poems are saccharine enought to rot out all my teeth. Evidently she had submitted a collection of poems to a publisher and hasn’t heard from the publishing house yet—take a hint! (Note: I mean, keep writing—it’s a personal thing, etc. and good for you, but face it—no one is going to want to read that stuff).
Another example: little teen goth chicks and guys, with they black webpages and attempts at goth humor. They write little goth poems about death, blood, love, this and that. Melodrama has never been in style, and despite their supposed attemts at humor, they seem to actually take this all rather seriously.
Now, on to the example which sparked my interested in jotting down these rambling thoughts in the first place.
We’ve got ourselves a Hemingway here, but whereas Hemingway’s dry, short sentences are terse in the sense of effectively concise (see: The Random House Dictionary), this text is almost painfully juvenile. In addition to the single-clause sentences, we have imagery and events straight out of characteristically bad fantasy, sci-fi and adventure stories (“I don’t see any—” and then Five arrows slammed into Rick’s pudgy stomach.). Perhaps I’m being too harsh here, but to further argue my position, I would like to present more evidence from the same site—from the same story.
Let’s move down a few lines to the sentence “Then fell on the ground, creating a pool of blood.” Who fell, who created the pool of blood? I guess it was Rick, who in the previous sentence turned to John and attempted to say something. A simple “he” would have satisfied my desire to know. A few lines later we see John again: “After taking a deep breath, the opened the door to the outpost, and ran like he had never ran before, while screaming his lungs out.” I suppose the author meant that “he opened the door,” so I’ll grant this typo status—after all, I create many typos myself, and often I don’t catch them until my pages have been online for days or weeks—sometimes even longer. The introduction to the story, however, removed all doubt from my mind about the prose-writing-capability of this author.
Our wonderful introduction begins: “In the year 3145, the citizens of Earth decided it was time to leave the planet. They had totally ruined it. No plants, no animals, no nothing. Except humans.” Inspiring I’d say. But wait! It gets better with sentences such as: “Many not to make it.” and “Earth was no more, so the shuttles hyper out.” I am particularly fond of “But diaster came in only twenty years. Scientist found a large asteroid, the size of Europe, being pulled right at the planet (who’s core was one big magnet).” And, let us finish taking exerpts with the concluding line of the introduction: “Despite their lost of most tecnology during the ’Hiding Peroid’, the surviving people began colonzation again, but at a medevil stage.”
I admit, when I write term papers, I rarely get around to proofing them for errors. Furthermore, I don’t proof the stuff I post on this site. And there are many, many errors in the e-mail letters I sent to friends, etc. However, I’d say that most of my prose, while not terribly exciting, doesn’t make you want to leave the (web)page right that moment. Against my better judgment, I decided not to leave immediately, and instead, I read more of this story—I’m sorry, but even when I was doing my cheesiest fantasy stories in the 6th grade, I was a bit more creative than this author. For the purpose of giving this author his due credit, here is the website where (as of April 4, 1999) you can find the story from which I quote: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Ithaca/4467/.
Perhaps this is why I don’t post my own stories and poems online—do I really need random people ripping them apart? Or, do I need people ignoring them? With my random coments and such I can at leat tell myself that the quality of the prose isn’t too important—these are just random thoughts, not well-formulated arguments, so I don’t have anything to be ashamed of.
That said, I have some ideas for presenting some writing online, but I’m not sure if I have the time to pursue these projects. Having a partner in crime, so to speak, might ease the load a bit. Who knows? Perhaps I should think about it a bit more.
—April 4, 1999
It’s 3:38 pm: but it already feels late. Sundays are always like that—since I can feel Monday coming, all of Sunday feels merely like a prelude to that day. Yet it is not as if Sunday feels like the beginning of something to come; it is the end of the weekend. Thursday is the beginning of the weekend for me—occasionally it’s Wednesday. In either case, on those days I can say to myself, just one more seminar or something like that; then, voila!, the week is over, and freedom reigns. So it is that today is Sunday and although I have a lot to do, I have no motivation.
What sorts of things cross my mind? That would take too much time to write down—as much as I would like to write down as many of my thoughts as I could, such an activity would preclude me from actually doing anything. Anyway—I should fold my laundry and put it away; it’s been sitting on my floor for about a week. Call me lazy. I cleaned up a few other things earlier today, before going shopping, so that’s one thing out of the way. Still, I could and should pick up the books on the floor—many of them made it there (to the floor) last week when I was preparing my paper for the Thomas Mann seminar.
I also have this desire to redo my website—not so much the content, but the form. I like the table layout I’m currently using, but I am torn between the current near-colorless scheme and one which would include more colors. I was originally attracted to the idea of a site that was (is?) easy to navigate and which, while aware of the need to present an attractive front-end, focused on content. Something available to all browsers. I think I did a decent job of that—no frames, limited use of nested tables, graphics limited to pages of photos and such.
I rather like the simplicity of Bob Glickstein’s site, especially the care given to a simple, overall design—and latte. The idea of providing my content in a database of sorts and letting my pages be dynamically generated by a cgi script or such has great appeal to me. However, I don’t have access to the proper scripts and such, so that’s out of the question for now.
I figure I might move on to style sheets for the revised version of my site. As I would only be using them to set fonts, they would replace my current use of <font> tags, which—while proper HTML—are outdated and looked down upon in HTML 4.x. Furthermore, <font> tags add considerably to the length of many of my pages, especially those with numerous lists, etc. The question then arises, can I make sure that my site looks decent on older browsers that don’t do style sheets? I think so. Still, the amount of work involved could be considerable—luckily, a few strategic global search and replace commands should help out quite a bit. As for the question of color and such, I have a possible design which looks rather nice—the only problem might be my use of background graphic in the table cells. We’ll see.
On a further note: John is a fucking asshole. I removed a prior rant against John after he demonstrated—last semester—an ability to act in a civilized manner. Recently, however, he has turned into a complete and utter fuck, so now I don’t feel guilty about complaining about him. Note: John is one of my two neighbers. The other neighbor (is Kevin his name? I’m not sure) is just fine—he used to accidentally leave the bathroom door locked, but that hasn’t happened in a long time, and although quiet, he seems like a nice enough guy. John is the local sound-Nazi. If I have a phone call at night (meaning post-11 pm), he will knock on the wall or even say something. Admittedly, the walls are thin“however, that’s not my problem, and if he’s going to complain about me talking in my own apartment, then I have no sympathy.
What sorts of annoying things does John do? Well, except for his constant knocking on my door last semester—“Could you please turn it down?”—(the bass was off, the volume was low—he simply has no tolerance for sound) he hasn’t bothered me much recently. However, earlier in the semester he got up at about 1:30 am to go knock on the door of someone else in the hall. Knock knock knock. “Open up!” Knock knock knock. “Open up!” Etc. Pound pound pound ... I woke up - I had been sleeping fine until then; sure, I could make out “sound” coming from this other apartment, but it wasn’t any louder than the occasional sounds from outside. This happened several times in the ensuing months; once, when “they” (the inhabitants of the other apartment) failed to open the door and respond to him (I don’t blame them much), he called the police on them—the police showed up and talked to these other people, but I don’t know what came of it. Then, whenver the fire alarm goes off in the kitchen (a few irresponsible guys in the hall seem to use the fire alarm as their “timer”—once their food starts burning, they decide it’s done...), John is out of his room in a flash and pounding on someone’s door. Asshole. Hair-trigger. I was chatting with someone else in the apartment last week or so, and found out that John has also yelled at the people working in the apartment complex—vacuuming—simply because the noise disturbed him. So it comes to my most recent encounter with John. The other night he knocked on my door, asking me to turn the volume down—it was hardly “up”—which I did. Back in his apartment, a while later, my volume down, he knocked on my wall, wanting me to turn it down more, it seemed. I guess I was not that happy with this turn of events; I went to the equalizer (Winamp), and turned down everything but the lowest bass. And turned up the volume a bit.
I rather enjoyed his rabid scream of rage and hatred a few minutes later—“Turn it fucking down!” Luckily, John will not be renewing his lease here at the Saxony Apartments. I was informed that he is moving elsewhere. Although I cannot understand why he is doing so, I am pleased to hear that he’s moving to a student neighborhood—if he thought it was loud here, he ain’t heard nothin’ yet.
—April 25, 1999
Two words: see it. I have no more commentary on it. I will not answer questions about it.
—April 26, 1999
More notes: I looked at the Council Travel site last night, to see what fares I could find. I just want to go to Europe—anywhere; I don’t mind. So I checked the flights from Minneapolis and Chicago; Amsterdam or Frankfurt are where I want to go. $609—O’Hare to Frankfurt am Main, $679 to Amsterdam, with a stopover in Iceland would be just fine. So here I am Tuesday morning; what should I buy? I am wondering.
—April 27, 1999