"To build and destroy...only you decide which joy." - Last Crack

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

10 GOTO 10

I hope I haven't jinxed myself, but I finally got a new cell phone.

Purchasing a new cell phone always seems to be the kiss of death for me. Let me explain. I rarely use the telephone, but when I do I always have a reason and get straight to the point. I never call someone up just to chat with them. It's a complete waste of time in my opinion.

The only occasions that I've needed a cell phone were prompted by work necessity. Sadly, it seems that each time I've bought a cell phone I either didn't use it at all or found myself seeking employment elsewhere within a matter of months. I'm hoping to break that streak and actually keep my new job for a while. Especially since I just signed a 2-year contract...sigh.

It's really amazing how far technology has come in the past 20 years. I remember my very first computer, the Commodore 64.

Commodore 64 w/monitor & 5 1/4-inch floppy drive

I also remember that I didn't even have a floppy drive to begin with, but had a tape drive instead. Talk about speedy access.

Vic-20 Cassette Drive

I thought I was really "uptown" with my fancy home computer. It's actually a bit of an eyesore though, isn't it? Without much in the way of games or true functionality (by today's standards, at least) I spent a lot of my time learning BASIC programming language and creating my own entertainment. I would be surprised if most of you don't recall this simple program.

20 GOTO 10

Brings back memories, doesn't it?

It's so funny how children nowadays react to technological blasts from the past, such as this. I recall a few years ago my niece discovered an old Beatles album and as she pulled it out of the sleeve, eyes wide with amazement, she said "This is the biggest CD I've ever seen!"

If that doesn't make you feel old, I don't know what will.

I'm sure that in the near future we look back at our current gadgets and gizmos with the same laughable regard. It turns out that my new phone surpasses the memory of my Commodore 64 by a massive amount (by about 8,000 times, if I did that conversion correctly). It has 512MB of memory, holds about 7 hours of music, takes pictures, shoots video, stores phone numbers, etc. If we consider the rate of technology, then in 20 years a cell phone will have about 40GB of memory and hold 720 hours (30 days) of music or approximately 6 full-length movies. There's no telling what else they'll be able to do, but I'm sure it will be nothing short of amazing.

If my Commodore 64 could send me a message right now I imagine it might look like this.

10 A$="HELLO"
90 GOTO 10

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to compile an appropriate response that won't take more than 64K worth of memory. Hmmmm....small words...small words.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Simple Explanation

Rarely have I ever given a simple explanation to anything and I'm probably not going to start now. This is more of a "simple explanation" in the way that it's not simple at all.

Just go with me on this.

I've had people ask me about the name for my blog "Lyrical Coma" and where I got it. Well, I'm all too happy to oblige considering I have no other topics of interest to blabber about today.

"Lyrical Coma" is taken from a verse of the song "A Fortune In Lies" by Dream Theater. If you've never heard the band I strongly suggest you check them out if you like progressive rock. I think the band is comprised of some of the best technical musicians, hands-down. I still enjoy them, but sometimes they can be a bit overzealous with songs that define the word "epic" by surpassing the 15-minute mark on a regular basis.

I still remember when I bought their first tape, "When Dream and Day Unite" in 1989. Yes, it was a tape. Compact Discs had not quite caught on at this point, and I couldn't possibly make my own mixed tape without my dual tape player. I was a junior in high school and had a reputation for finding obscure bands that wrote really good music. When I went shopping for new music (which was every week) I used to walk through the entire store, looking at everything along the way. It usually took a couple of hours, but I always took something home with me.

Pegasus Records is the store I bought the tape from. It was a dive of a store, but it was also the only place that carried a large enough variety of non-mainstream music to satiate my palate. This store took up the front lobby of what used to be a movie theater. The Ridge Theater had been in business for years and was the only one in Oak Ridge, TN. After awhile other movie houses more conveniently located and with more screens began to pop up and eventually put The Ridge out of business. I remember when I was still a kid going to see "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" at that theater. I also recall we were about 10 minutes late and had to stand behind the back row. I was upset for a few minutes, and then became absorbed by the movie. Nowadays, if I miss the previews for movies I can be very "difficult".

A lot of people have absolutely no clue where Oak Ridge is located, not even those who live in Knoxville (about 15 miles east). I tell folks "You know, it's where they built the atomic bomb," and they just sort of stare at me blankly, nodding their head with an "Ohhhh, yeah". Idiots.

Anyway, so I'm digging around for new stuff at Pegasus Records and the owner, some guy named "Wolf", turned me on to Dream Theater. Wolf was an amazing musician and he could make a guitar sing like you've never heard before. He was one of those guys that could play an absolute plethora of instruments fluently. Music was his language and he definitely spoke it well. If he thought something was good then you knew it was worth listening to.

I absolutely loved "When Dream and Day Unite" and one of the lines from a song on that tape really stuck with me over the years. The song is "A Fortune In Lies" and here's the verse.

I can remember when,
In the unity of our five-day sessions
Not even once did we hear the siren song
What kind of imagination
Asleep in some lyrical coma
Who's vain futile memory
Could have been so wrong?

In this passage "lyrical coma" seems to indicate an absence of thought, but to me it's always meant, "being expressive through a complete lack of expression". I know it sounds romantic, but the idea of expressing yourself by doing nothing at all has always inspired me. Sometimes it's what you don't say that tells the entire story.

Also, you may have noticed there's a quote at the top of my page "To build and destroy - only you decide which joy." Most blogs have some type of witty phrase accompanied by a clever explanation as their tag line. I think the quote for my page says it all though. This is another one of those things that's just stuck with me through the years and I even use it on my signature line for every forum I've ever signed up for.

The quote comes from a band named Last Crack. The song it comes from is "Energy Mind" off the album "Burning Time", released in 1991. In my opinion this is an amazingly profound line. It says to me that for everything created something else is destroyed and the choice is left to us. We decide which path to ultimately go down and every judgment will have an effect on those around us. Actually, I think the writer was referring to cocaine (and most likely taking it too) if you listen to the entire song...but hey, it's a hell of a line anyway.

As mentioned in a previous post, Lyrical Coma was also the name I used for a self-published book of poetry I starting writing in high school. I was so proud of this book I even hired someone to illustrate it for me. It turned out really well, but only serves to offer me a chuckle and brief interludes of nostalgia these days. I always had a difficult time writing anything with an upbeat theme. It too often seemed hokey and transparent. Perhaps the only way I could get rid of those darker emotions was to get them down on paper. Here's another poem from Lyrical Coma called "Forever Lost". Remember, "happy" is not my strong point.

Soldiers of thought march today
Vicious, cutting words at play
Killing in the kindest way
The wounded die and scattered lay

Looking out from sightless eyes
Reaching to white-mirrored skies
Sinful, dark, reflective lies
While beauty is what beauty buys

Playing midst life's rotten weeds
Sour, bloated are the seeds
Planting where the bramble leads
And gladly harvest bitter needs

Twisting truth at any cost
Slam the slide and tempest tossed
Bleeding, broken fingers crossed
And there to lie forever lost

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this "simple explanation" of my blog title.

Maybe in the future I'll tell you where the name "neonangel" comes from, but I'm pretty sure someone has already figured that one out.

No doubt I will be able to briefly expand on that description.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Lost and Found

I'm absolutely captivated by the television series LOST.

I don't think I'm quite as consumed as these folks, but I'm hooked, nonetheless.

Not only is the show a great drama, but it is filled with mystery and intrigue. Each week the show divulges fragments about the survivors lives that all factor into a much larger puzzle. Sadly, for each question answered the viewer is left with three more new mysteries.

The show plays heavily on two of my favorite concepts, which are, "everything happens for a reason" and "six degrees of separation".

The idea behind the former indicates a belief that every action you make, no matter how insignificant, is constantly shaping and affecting the world around you. Furthermore, every consequence of those actions (good or bad) exists to teach you something fundamental that you need to learn in order to grow and survive both mentally and physically. Most people will dismiss this as "metaphysical baloney", but if you truly examine where your actions have led you through life then you might consider the existence of this possibility. Sometimes things happen in your life that even foreshadow future events.

Many years ago I was working at a movie theater in Knoxville and one day some of the ushers were talking about a local radio DJ they listened to named "Ripley". They talked about how funny she was (mentioning something about big boobs) and asked if I ever listened to or met her. I had caught part of her show once, but I didn't really think about it too much. That night, after I got off work, I went to the sports grille next door to have a beer and unwind before going home for the night. I sat down at the bar and within a few minutes someone pulled up a chair beside me. It was a young, energetic, funny female that immediately struck up a conversation with me. Eventually I discovered that the girl talking to me was "Ripley". Perhaps it was all a strange coincidence, but it seemed very odd that I was having a conversation about her earlier that day only to meet her that night. We've been together for nearly 8 years now.

The other recurring factor in LOST is the theory of "six degrees of separation". If you are unfamiliar with this concept it states that anyone on earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than six intermediaries. There have been experiements to prove this theory, one using mailed packages to a target destination in 1967 and another using e-mail in 2001. Both experiements came to the conclusion that, in fact, it took betwen 5 and 7 intermediaries for the package/e-mail to reach its goal. This inspired the phrase "six degress of separation". On LOST every character is connected without them even realizing it. Some of these connections have been exposed, but I predict these unknown links go much deeper than have been revealed.Sometimes you can share multiple connections with other people without ever knowing it.

I was at a job interview once with a woman and after talking about work and experience we realized that we had worked together many years previously at the same location, although in different departments. As we continued to talk I noticed a picture of her children on her desk. I thought they looked vaguely familiar. We both suddenly realized that I had worked at the same elementary school her children had attended and actually taught them years before. These types of connections are always there, but most are never discovered. I guarantee that there is a similar link between myself and every person that reads this post. I know it sounds strange, but the experiments I mentioned have already proved its truth.

Much like the TV show LOST I believe that in our lives for every connection lost or forgotten another one is found. Likewise, for every choice made we are creating and affecting our world around us. The next time something seems bizarre or like a complete coincidence there may be more of a link there than you realize.

Until next time!

Your friend, of your roommate's, cousin's, neighbor's, aunt's, boss's nephew.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

One of Those Days...

You know it's a slow day when your news choices are:

44-year old stale crackers found in a Cold War bunker under the Brooklyn Bridge.

President Bush's Press Conference, which sounds suspiciously like a repeat of his last five speeches.

And a video of a cat falling 80-foot from a tree branch (psst - they finally realized it wasn't a real news story and took it off the site).

On days like these I like to visit a comic strip web-site called The Order of the Stick, which is based on D&D inspired characters. Yes, I'll agree it's an extremely geeky, guilty pleasure, but I find it quite humorous. Creator, Rich Burlew, has about 295 entries for the comic strip spanning over a few years. You will encounter some moments of RPG (roleplaying game) related humor, but for the most part you should be able to relate to and enjoy it just fine.

So be sure and check it out. It will certainly be more interesting than today's shortage of *news.

*News should be defined as "something that is interesting and affects a large group of people". It can also (and more accurately) be defined as "something that has been infrequent since the late '90s".

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Nothing To See Here...Move Along!

So the Shiites hate the Sunnis.

This isn't really surprising, but a lot of people don't understand why. The Arab Sunnis are a minority population in Iraq (about 20%), yet they were closely allied with Saddam Hussein while he was still in power. The Sunnis ran most everything and often used violence as a means to keep the majority Shiites (and Kurds) in line. Now the tables have turned and in the new government the Sunnis have a minority voice and are believed to comprise a large part of the insurgency.

The unrest between the two sects is partly religious, but mostly political. Although both divisions believe in the basic tenets of the Koran the shortest possible explanation for their religious differences involves who should be the leader of Islam. Politics revolves around power and if the new government succeeds then the Sunnis will no longer enjoy the dominance they wielded so freely under Saddam Hussein.

On February 22, 2006 a group of men dressed as Iraqi police officers entered the al Askariya "Golden Mosque" in Samarra and detonated explosives, thereby destroying the holy site. Regardless of whether or not the Sunnis were responsible for this attack seems completely irrelevant because this incident immediately sparked reprisal attacks from the Shiites and counter-reprisals from the Sunnis likewise.

Now weeks later, and with hundreds of Sunni and Shiite casualties, the American government tries to assure us that there is not a civil war brewing in Iraq. Perhaps one of my favorite quotes from the article comes from Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi when he says "There is no civil war here". It all seems very reminiscent of everyone's favorite "Minisiter of Misinformation" Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf (a.k.a Bagdad Bob).

One thing is certain and that is now we not only have to worry about protecting our own soldiers, but we have to protect the citizens of Iraq from each other. I'm sure this was all figured into Bush's elaborate and idealistic roadmap for peace. And like a roadmap (albeit a very bad one) it seems that President Bush is driving us to Texas...via Canada.

I'll leave you with a wonderful quote from "Bagdad Bob" which coincides nicely with what the Bush administration would have us believe.

They're not even [within] 100 miles [of Baghdad]. They are not in any
place. They hold no place in Iraq. This is an illusion ... they are
trying to sell to the others an illusion."

So are we buying the illusion this time?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

What We Create

Ever notice when you move from one house to another you seem to find a stockpile of junk that you had completely forgotten about? It's unknown (even to yourself) why you would still have this type of useless crap...yet there it is on the shelf in the closet.

Some of the junk I found:
grocery receipt from 2002
work shirts from a job 5 years previous
blue jeans I wore in high school
pencils with my name on them from 3rd grade
fossilized pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum from the Mesozoic Era

I also found loads of other crap too plentiful to mention (including a non-working Nintendo 64). Perhaps I thought these items would be "handy" to have one day. Maybe I was waiting for the day that MacGyver would come to my house and need that fossilized pack of gum, broken wire hanger and strategy guide for Final Fantasy III to create a lethal potato gun (with scope).

After hours of packing I gave myself an ultimatum.

"That's it! If I haven't used it in over a year, I'm throwing it out!"

Six trips to the dump later...

I finally got everything boxed up and moved successfully. Thankfully, the load was a bit lighter after excising the huge chunk of dead weight from my closet.

One thing I found that still held some interest was a book a poetry I had written when I was about 19-years old. Oddly enough, I had named the compilation "Lyrical Coma". Some of the poems really gave me a chuckle, but one struck a chord with how I feel about the war in Iraq today and the rest of the world's disdain for the United States.

President Bush's approval rating is so low and his credibility so far damaged that not even a photo-op with an entire team of autistic basketball players could hope to improve it. Now this week we even have to be subjected to more of the administration's popular "Look Over There!" tactic with Operation: Swarmer.

Alas, I digress. Here's the poem I found.

What We Create

Death is contagious
The lies are outrageous
Who's going to save us
From what we create?

Build our destruction
Through constant construction
We wade in corruption
Of sick, blackened hate.

We all praise ambition
Forget our condition
And sink to submission
And then contemplate.

We spread the infection
Ignore the defection
Avoid the rejection
But never escape.

Life still feels empty
In this crumbling city
Death is so pretty...
It's what we create.

Maybe next week I'll see what else I can pull out of the closet. Until then I need to get back to sorting paystubs from my old jobs in chronological order.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I Think We've Got A Pulse!

It has been QUITE awhile since I've posted anything at all, but I AM still alive after all. I'll give you an update on what's been going on in my life by way of a True or False quiz. So get your number 2 pencils ready!

1. Neonangel lost his job.
2. Neonangel lost his house.
3. Neonangel lost his girlfriend.

If you've answered TRUE to each question so far give yourself +10 bonus points for getting 100% correct.

It's been tough times lately, but hey, that's life.

I had quit my dual jobs at Blockbuster and Bailey's Sports Grill over a year ago to work for a long-time friend of mine at a game/hobby store. He offered me twice what I was making at both jobs, so it was sorta hard to refuse. Turns out he overextended his budget by hiring me at HIS suggested salary and after about 8 months I had no choice but to step aside. So what did I do?

I went back to Blockbuster.

It was at this time that my girlfriend's career in radio got blown all to hell and everything started spiraling downward after that. We both got behind in payments on the house and other stuff then we're suddenly faced with foreclosure on the place we called "home" for over 3 years.

Over time I find out from my girlfriend how severely neglected she feels as I start to spend more and more time playing World of Warcraft. This began a long series of fights which involved her possibly having an affair with a friend of mine and later turned into threats to kill herself.

Alcohol was her crutch and mine was World of Warcraft.

And we both HATED each others crutch.

Back to the story already in progress...

We were able to sell our house before foreclosure, thank God! We moved into our new apartment only 2 miles away from our house about 3 months ago. Although my girlfriend STILL didn't have a job after nearly a year and a failed attempt to start her own business, she finally decided to go back to school to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. Things were starting to look up again when suddenly me and my girlfriend had another HUGE blowout last month and I had finally had enough. I kicked her out of the house. Of course I immediately regretted it, but hindsight is 20/20. Truth is, she was going to leave whether I kicked her out or not...it just made her choices much clearer.

After about a month of her being in Oklahoma with her folks we managed to make some ammends, and she returned home. I'd like to say that everything is gonna be fine with us, but I honestly don't know what lies ahead. I think we still have a lot to overcome in our relationship if we plan on staying together. However, after being together nearly 8 years it is very difficult to accept being apart from one another.

My girlfriend started her CNA classes last week and is doing exceptional! She's very enthusiastic and frankly the happiest I've seen her in ages. Whether or not we remain together I am extremely proud of her and will continue to applaud her efforts.

Now I have started a new job working for a group of real estate investors. Oddly enough I met my new employer when I was going through foreclosure on my house. Further proof (at least to me) that everything happens for a reason.

Although I don't live in New Orleans the past year of my life seems like I've had Katrina in my living room. Now I'm starting the rebuilding process of my life and recovering things that were lost or forgotten (like this blog).

Life isn't always good...but it's not always bad either.