I spent the early morning reading Frank Herbert's Children of Dune. I've read it a few times before. The initial Dune trilogy always fascinates me, as the way in which Near East mysticism is woven into a future history truly intrigues. I used to feel that most science fiction had this power to explore different places, unfettered by the need to be "literarily correct", but as the years go on, Herbert's gifts seem clearer to me. I like in particular that he advances themes on different levels which mildly conflict with one another; it's the series of little-deaths of the intellect which drive the sense of destiny and desperation throughout the novel. I have much more to say on the theme of the "kwisatz haderach", but I will save that for another post.
I put the book aside to focus on putting a counter on my journal, fueled by suggestions from the poll I did. I found it easiest to get the sitemeter.com counter, and put it on my userinfo page. I'm already impressed with the "free" service. I was also thrilled that some good number of people asked for my little chess booklet, which gave me a project to do tomorrow.
I had some work to do today at my office. I got a fair bit done in pretty good order. An e mail arrived from one of the authors of the play we saw February 7, "The Signal Season of Dummy Hoy". It turned out that he was googling his play title, and ran across my recent LJ post about the play. He wrote to express his thanks, and I wrote back to express my appreciation, and soon his co-author was writing me, and it was all very nice. I love the way that internet connectivity can make people quite distant seem so close at hand and accessible. I wish I could do something as worthwhile as write a play which effectively spotlights a social issue, without the play being at all maudlin or movie of the weekish, as those men have done.
When I left the office, it was some seventy degrees. I drove home while channel surfing the FM dial. I paused on one of the several local "Christian alternative" stations. I don't mind at all Christian alternative, largely because I consider it a major advance from the also-popular "Christian contemporary" genre. I frankly don't find the lyrics "I was going to kill myself until Jesus saved me" all that less insightful than "I am going to kill myself because nobody saved me". But I do wonder why, if there must be Christian grunge rock, it must always imitate Stone Temple Pilots rather than Nirvana. I personally do not consider Nirvana a true step forward in music, but an interesting side road, but if one is going to do grace-as-grunge, it seems as though one should main-line the stuff. I thought tonight about a hypothetical song called "Smells like Holy Spirit", but that seemed unforgivably blasphemous, so I set the idea aside.
Then I switched the dial to the odd mainstream metal station "The Rock", whose station motto is, no kidding, "classic Texas rock that rocks". Suddenly, Kiss' "Rock and Roll All Night" came on, and for some reason, I found it expedient to turn the volume up from the sedate jazz-station volumes I usually use to level 9 or so.
Isn't it nice how pound-able those plastic auto interiors are these days? I always wonder if, in my forties, driving around singing myself hoarse and waving my fist is unbecoming to fellow drivers. I was dismayed to realize that I have forgotten some of the last verse of the song, which, given the simple lyrics to this old classic, is a bit hard to admit. During the break, a caller called to compliment the station for not pulling Great White from rotation, in light of the recent tragic club fire involving that band. I had kebabs for lunch at the new Persian place, and then took a walk at Bethany Lakes Park, where toddlers were feeding happy geese bread.
We had dinner at "The Ranch House" steakhouse, where I had a sedate soup in a bread bowl (sadly, I left a lot of bread behind) and a plate of vegetables. I hope virtue is its own reward. We then headed over to the movie house and got tickets to "Old School". We had a rather long wait, and, appropriately enough, they had an old school videogame available, "Ms. Pac-Man". I was amazed at how the years have made flaccid my blue-monster-and-strawberry-chasing skills, but I did manage to clear a few screens. I had less luck with the "Mars Revenge" pinball machine, where I only got the machine to say "take that, you cauliflower heads" to the aliens a few times. My wife gracefully ate a chocolate chip cookie while I silently longed for the Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy pinball machine of my youth.
The movie "Old School" was a tremendous surprise, an absolutely funny reworking of those old frat-movie themes. I went to one of those 'fraternity and sorority hell' universities, and have always disliked the "Animal House" type of film. But this movie, despite a few political correctness misfires, got us both laughing, and a good laugh is what this part of America needs right now.
I've never been good with that "fraternity and sorority" type of person. In my school, they were only 10 percent of the campus, but they voted at student elections while the rest of us had other things to do. They therefore controlled all the purse strings. I remember the year one fraternity house rigged the football tickets so that all the good seats went to them; of course, the administration, which would do anything for football players and frat houses, stood by silently. I remember the year the campus officer resigned in disgrace, amid rumours he had dipped into the United Way money. Last I heard, he was working the Edward Kennedy presidential campaign, but much water has flowed under the bridge since then.
Recently a friend asked in a poll question if I felt that I ever missed the life that more hedonistic choices might have permitted me. Certainly I have some sympathy with the old friend of mine who suggested that one regrets what one didn't do more than what one did do. But as catchy as the slogan is, that's not my own view. I've never regretted doing without chemical stimulation, as it's inessential to my well-being. I've got a lot of those odd contentment endorphins. As far as a more active social life, who can say? In my life, it seems as though in the main the choices have always been rather clear-cut. When someone calls, intoxicated, at midnight, then one must say "no", even if the invitation is cleverly suggestive. When something makes sense, relationship-wise, it was a similar "yes", as obvious as a wake up call. I've made my share of mistakes in life (though most of them are the mistake of being endlessly boring). I had my heart broken. I sadly broke at least one or two hearts. But almost every mistake I've made in my social life is a mistake I knew I was making when it happened. I suppose my only deep regret (other than one saved for an impending "dark side" post)is that to this day I cannot make small talk with anyone about anything, to save my life. I remember the curious woman in a singles bar a decade and a half ago, who offered me "constructive criticism". My glasses, she explained, made me "too intellectual". I think the story of my social life--where achieving my goal meant failing to achieve my goal--is summed up there, but I'm not sure the figures ever added up to much. A few times in these odd relationship things, the math was all wrong.
I suppose "Old School", a klutzy, sincere, obvious bit of wonderful parody, made me remember that I was never then, and shall never be, someone at home in that mainstream "fun" life. I suppose I must find my own fun.
I liked an article I read today in the UU World, which had this quote from activist Chuck Collins: "Every day I make five little choices. Do I take the subway or car? Do I go to the library or bookstore? Do I send my daughter to public or private school? do you build a wall of money around yourself to protect yourself, or do you invest in the commonweal?....I want to cast my lot with everyone I know. I would rather work for a society where people take care of each other and ot based on whether you can amass a small fortune to provide basic car. I'm working toward a time when the idea that I can drive as big a car as I want, use up as many resources as I want, just think about my kid and nobody else, will be unimaginable. I beieve that you shouldn't have to be rich to have a decent life in society". The Greek houses are forever closed in the campus of my mind.