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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Love Songs and Monster Songs' LiveJournal:

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Saturday, February 7th, 2009
2:42 pm
the weather
I wonder why, as a culture, we use the word "supposed to" when describing the weather. As if our attempts to predict the weather have led us to believe it will obey our forecasts. We walk around saying that it's supposed to be cold or warm next week, but we have it backwards. In reality, the weather will be what the weather will be, and there's nothing we can do about it. I'm not saying I'm immune to this (I can't even think of another phrase to use besides "supposed to"), and of course it's kind of silly to examine such a common phrase, but these days (that crazy Midwest February weather!) I'm noticing it more and more.
Thursday, April 3rd, 2008
11:44 pm
Being sick seems like something to blog about.
I'm sick today. And yesterday, and the day before that too.
Monday, March 10th, 2008
8:48 pm
Mostly I enjoy eating at Subway for the air of contempt they have for their customers. It makes me feel at home when I go down the street to my video store job and hate all the customers.
Thursday, February 14th, 2008
11:53 pm
Tuesday, December 11th, 2007
4:10 pm
I'm in the basement of the student union finishing the last paper of my undergraduate career. Every few seconds a door swings open and I hear someone shouting "girl!" from what sounds like the kitchen. This is a happy time.
Wednesday, June 20th, 2007
11:50 pm
Friday, June 8th, 2007
12:26 pm
Thursday, May 3rd, 2007
4:16 pm

I'm done with finals. No horrid town of Charleston, IL for 3 whole months! Celebrating in style with SpiderMan 3 at midnight and if it sucks I'll see The Host for the 3rd time. But I'll probably do that anyway.
Wednesday, April 25th, 2007
10:19 am
I am starting to love the rude noises my flip-flops make in this rainy weather.
Tuesday, April 17th, 2007
1:18 pm
I really gotta stop reading the news.
Tuesday, March 27th, 2007
6:44 am
So, Kyle, I mean Jacob, I mean Dan, had a meme where he, at someone's request, put up his top 10 songs that begin with C. If you left a comment on his journal, he'd assign you a letter, and then you do your top ten with that letter. I got Y. I also stole this text directly from his entry, so blah blah blah...

Yellow Yalta Yahtzee!Collapse )
Wednesday, February 14th, 2007
10:39 pm
Friday, February 9th, 2007
10:51 am
The Silent Cry
I can't find a decent picture of the 1960's Silent Cry cover that initially intrigued me (maybe it's just me, but why must the American editions of Oe's novels always be so boring and tacky?), so here's a charming little picture of Oe instead.

The Silent Cry-Oe Kenzaburo

This is probably the most difficult book I've read in 2007, and I'm not at all sure what to say about it. I feel that I understand this book but I can't explain it, but I'll try. After a series of increasingly bizarre tragedies, two brothers return to the village of their childhood to sort things out. One brother brings his wife, who has recently placed their first child, a mentally vacant "idiot vegetable", into a mental hospital with little prospect or desire of seeing him again. Not long after they arrive, the brothers become aware of a growing plot by the villagers to sabotage the village's only grocery store (owned by a mysterious and enigmatic Korean named The Emperor). This revolt is secretly being masterminded by a group of strange villagers, including a 300 pound woman who commands a small army of her own children to do her bidding. It isn't long before the two begin to trace startling similarities between these new developments and a military uprising that occurred in the same village 100 years earlier, and before long the brothers realize they are reprising the roles of their village ancestors. The wife becomes adulterous, the brothers become opposites, and soon everything goes to hell.

There are so many mirrored tragedies in this novel, all of them shocking and meaningful, that my head starts to spin when I try and map them all out: Two gruesome suicides (both involving fruits and vegetables), two mentally handicapped children (though their fates are handled very differently), two violent and pointless rebellions (both stemming from petty nationalism and anti-Korean superstition). Fortunately, there are only three major (living) characters to deal with, but the wife is so distant and the brother is so utterly fucked up, it is at times rather difficult to keep track of what is going on. Characters that commit suicide in this novel do not seem to go away, nor do those locked into institutions, or those from the distant past. Though the narrator initially seems fated to a life of introspection, the near constant threat of the village (particularly the throbbing festival drumbeats and thieving children) propels the story forward and keeps him constantly on edge.

Much like Imamura likes to focus on the "lower half" of Japanese society, Oe likes to draw attention to the hauntingly primitive aspects of it, often drawing strange yet undeniable links between ancient village customs and modern civilized behavior. The Silent Cry has the exact same feel as his early "mountain people" dramas like Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids and Prize Stock, but for once the protagonist is a mature, rational being instead of a child. Also interesting is the portrayal of his alcoholic wife, one of the few instances I can think of in Oe where a female is given such a significant, independent role (A Quiet Life, which also deals with unspeakable tragedy, being maybe the only other example that springs to mind). Her self-analysis of her own drinking problem as she quietly descends into a personal hell is amazingly vivid, and her "resurrection" at the end is one of the only comforting things in this otherwise dismal powerhouse of a novel.
10:36 am
Acts of Worship
I've grown tired of constantly updating this entry, so starting today, I think I'm going to start posting a lot of book reviews in this journal. Plus, I like pictures. Hope nobody minds!

Acts of Worship-Mishima Yukio (the image above is from the back cover)

Acts of Worship is a collection of 7 short stories from postwar Japan's greatest author, though this status is growing more and more debatable the more I read, simply due to the fact that the period produced so many top notch writers. So far in my experience, Mishima has not failed to live up to his reputation, and this collection is a perfect reminder of why he is considered the best. The first and last stories ("Fountains in the Rain" and "Acts of Worship", respectively) were probably my favorite, both displaying impeccable control in building up to seemingly minor moments that stand as staggering climaxes. The punchline of "Fountains in the Rain" contains a rare moments of comedy in Mishima (and it's actually pretty funny) about a boy basking in the joy he is experiencing after dumping his girlfriend, who it turns out didn't even hear him (she has been crying this whole time for a different reason). The overtly comical imagery of fountains operating even in times of rain and sadness is priceless.

The story "Acts of Worship" is about an aging master poet who takes one of his promising students as a maid instead of an apprentice, barely letting her practice writing because she must constantly tend to his fussy needs and endure his constant insults and criticism. He then takes her with him on a vacation, and she is forced to watch as he ceremoniously buries the keepsakes of his presumably now deceased lover. Subtle and controlled throughout, the story ends with an absolutely masterful final brush stroke. He has taught his servant about poetry, dragged her into his own emotionally tumultuous past, and is now leaving her (her!) with the task of turning it into art. The woman's otherwise homely face is described as "radiant" as she finally learns what it is exactly that her master has chosen her for. Just as in "Patriotism" (found in the collection Death in Midsummer) Mishima paints a clear, almost gorgeous picture of devotion, and what it means to be a completely devoted woman in the still linear Japanese society (though the similarities end there). Dealing with gender issues in this type of story is difficult, as Mishima can present himself as quite the traditionalist, even ultraconservative, but there is no mistaking the beauty he sees, not necessarily because of, but certainly present in, this voluntary dual act of subjugation and submission.
9:42 am
shameless promotion for the dvd industry/elderly violence

One of my favorite movies ever is coming out on DVD! The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On is a documentary made in 1987 about a Japanese WWII veteran who decides to film his mission of tracking down the incompetent and corrupt army officers who were responsible for the cruel and unnecessary deaths of several of his comrades. The history lesson here is that a lot of the Japanese refused to stop fighting even after the emperor surrendered, including an unfortunate unit of soldiers in New Guinea, who this film is about.

The men are all, of course, in their 60's and 70's by the time this movie is made, and the way these confrontations go down is so completely absurd and bizarre, you have no choice but to alternately laugh and stare in silence. The climax is brutal: the man finally meets with an exceptionally stubborn Commander who refuses to apologize, and so he proceeds to beat the shit out of him. It is all captured in one long take and shown without commentary.

The print I saw of this was so old and decrepit that it looked like a bootleg (it actually broke a couple of times, too). I always thought this kind of added to the experience, though. Like this wasn't footage you or anyone else was supposed to be seeing. Seeing Michael Moore's name on the DVD cover is only slightly less annoying than seeing Tarentino's, but the DVD release is nevertheless exciting, and I can't wait to see what kind of extras they put on it (Imamura produced the film, and supposedly made a making of feature...if this isn't on the DVD I'll flip).
Wednesday, February 7th, 2007
10:11 am
Anybody want to take a road trip to Brooklyn?
Sunday, January 28th, 2007
9:31 pm
Thursday, January 25th, 2007
4:48 pm
I've discovered I like the taste of vodka after I brush my teeth.
Friday, January 19th, 2007
10:15 am
mer-maid mur-dur
A homeless man outside of the gas station told me I looked like "that kidnapped boy they just found that's been in the papers", so of course I had to look it up.

I'm pretty sure I don't look like this, but it still kind of bothered me when he said "Y'all got the same look in your eyes." I mean really, what a thing to say! Usually people just tell me I look like Spiderman.

Current Mood: disturbed
Sunday, January 14th, 2007
9:54 pm
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