Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I learned my first song besides Mary Had a Little Lamb which I knew from piano lessons years ago. I feel so proud of myself. Positively giddy.

It turns out my blog has a readability level of:
blog readability test

Which happens to be exactly where I'm at. How anticlimactic. I am average. Yeah, neither of the essays I've published scored A's. Both were in the B range. I have a complete inability to follow stipulations when it comes to essay writing, something that holds me back academically, but I feel is perfectly justified from a writing standpoint.

I think I may have mentioned this before, but I'll say it again: my interests variate almost daily. I will find myself hooked on a particular philosophical quandary or physical activity for a week or so and move on to another by the weeks end. They do return eventually, after it has been long enough for the idea or activity to seem new to me once more. For example, right now I'm off both reading and writing. Neither of them interest me in the least. I'm interested in music, right now. most specifically learning to play it legitimately, but I also just downloaded a bunch of Korean rock (which turns out to be awesome). About a week ago, this day, I was intensely interested in trying to write poetry. A week before that it was rereading Stephen King's Insomnia (my favorite novel of his, I found it for a quarter). And so on.

I really am sort of odd.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I confess

I don't actually know how to play the piano. I know the basic theory behind rhythm and a few chords, but when I play, I play solely tunes that I make up spontaneously. I often miss notes or hit the wrong ones. I think I'll rectify this horrid mistake. By the end of this year, I will learn how to read sheet music. I may buy another Bass while I'm at it. My upstairs neighbors play loud electronica music well into the nine o'clock hour, so I'll find a way to drown them out.

I actually worry about this somewhat. My upstairs neighbors (let's call them MUNs for short) have a two year old and a 6ish (I forgot) month old baby. They're both pretty young and throw parties once a week or so. I worry about the kids, since really, these people are not anywhere near mature enough to have kids. I hung out at one of their parties, and witnessed this little dude run around, hit people, throw tantrums for all sorts of things, attempt to throw a pet kitten (madness!) off the balcony twice, and generally be a nuisance. I did catch him and got him to read a book with me, which he seemed to enjoy. The baby was in a little bumper thing right next to a speaker, which is what worries me most, since I myself have bilateral hearing loss possibly caused by the same sort of thing (when kids are young and not diagnosed early enough, it becomes a tossup as to the cause. In my case it could have been damage through auditory extremes, [my mom is into hardcore rock] birth defect, bacterial damage [had tons of ear infections as a toddler], or some other unexplained cause). But of course, it's their kids and their life; and if they're happy with it, who am I to disrupt?

I've been listening to That handsome devil quite a bit lately, I bought their first album for 2 bucks at an Amoeba Music in SF. Turns out they're a great band. I will do my civic duty and spread the word (and the link) here. If their only link is a myspace page, does that make them underground? To be fair, they've had it since 2005, when the whole trend of band myspaces was only barely started. Personally I hate the idea. It seems like a dumb method to "get in with the youth" by evil soulless corporations.

There, I wrote a whole long post without a bit of interesting original material by me. Now to start a cult of personality. Love me, Internet! Love me!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Veiled Appearances

Well, another essay to put up here. I can't seem to get myself together enough to write in a particularly serious manner most of the time. This is a bit of an exception. It's a shame I finally figured out my thesis in the last paragraph.

This is a comparison essay on Carmen Vazquez's "Appearances" and Maysan Haydar's "Veiled Intentions." Funny thing is, when you google them, you get hundreds of links to finished essays and the like. I'll be glad when the semester is over and I can take a more advanced english class. I would say the present one is equivalent to a tenth grade class. Unfortunately it is mandatory, and I wasn't able to get the AP scores from last year in to counseling in time to switch classes. I guess I don't mind. Much. I apologize for any formatting errors. Cut and paste isn't exactly the best method for this. I now realize I am apologizing to the threeish people who visit my blog, none of which I feel the need to show off for. So I take it back. Yes, I will subject you to my formatting errors. It is no more than you deserve! >:V

“Appearances” by Carmen Vázquez is an essay on the common misconceptions derived by perceptions of couples’ sexual orientations from their outward appearance, while “Veiled Intentions” by Maysan Haydar focuses on the same common perceptions of a Muslim woman who chose to wear a Hijab, a traditional head covering. On the surface, the similarities are clear. People have certain stereotypes and expectations of LGBT couples just as they do of Muslim women. The similarities continue into the essays as one can see how minority groups are insulted, misrepresented, and marginalized by society as a whole.
Despite the vastly different backgrounds of traditional Muslims and LGBT people, they share a commonality in their minority. The majority of the nation does not identify itself as Muslim, nor do they identify themselves as LGBT. By pure virtue of the smaller size of the group, the majority can claim the right to abuse the minority by democratic process and further by social standards. Despite the whole of the minorities in America actually being larger than the traditional white male majority, minorities continue to allow this subjugation. The majority is very much interested in staying the majority. Because of this, they put forth a great deal of effort to divide the minority and emphasize the differences through social means, such as biased news reporting and politicians referring to one or more other minority groups, for example white bankers giving loans to Korean businessmen to open up shops in predominantly Black neighborhoods. When the riots in the early nineties destroyed hundreds of Korean businesses, naturally they blamed the Black folks for rioting instead of the White folk for inciting the riots. Minorities are linked by a common enemy, the majority, and thus often share common traits, such as similar forms of persecutions and responses. Before the Gulf War, Muslims were relatively ignored. Americans had little experience with them and had yet to form strong opinions, unlike their well developed, historically precedent opinions of African Americans or Jews. The Gulf War changed this. Perceptions of Muslims as dangerous extremists began to form and admitting that one was a Muslim became as unfashionable as, say, admitting to partaking in an S&M lifestyle. It wasn’t taboo, and not particularly looked down upon, but was indeed considered distasteful, and often preceded an awkward silence. 9/11 changed everything, however; immediately post 9/11 Arabic men and women were targeted for reactionary violence in America, especially in New York City. This newfound animosity further emphasized the similarity of Islamic faith and LGBT persons.
Gay men are stereotyped thoroughly as effeminate, ineffectual “girly-men,” a stereotype that is often the only contact the average person has with homosexuals, as vicarious as it is. Similarly, the stereotype of Muslims as extremists with odd religious habits, strange deaths and phrases like “durka durka” or the traditional Muslim warrior’s trilled yell is often the only experience that the average protestant American has with Muslims. These stereotypes are advanced and extended through American popular culture and nearly all forms of media. Many of the misconceptions of Muslims were created simply due to the nightly news constantly reporting the most grisly and macabre incidences in the Middle East. It focuses on the one person who chose to express his beliefs violently instead of the hundreds of weddings, hundreds of celebrations of life, and hundreds of small kindnesses that Muslims do for each other every day in traditional Arabia. On the same evening news, reports of gay marriage shock and awe the nation, with men and (to a much lesser extent) women kissing members of their own sex and dressing in a flamboyant, outlandish manner. Both of these misrepresentations continue off of the news and into the entertainment Americans consume. From “politically incorrect” comedians like Carlos Mencia to “edgy” shows like Family Guy, to even relatively normal reality shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, the character and identity of both Homosexuals and Muslims are clearly, if erroneously, defined. This shared misconception is a commonality the separate groups can claim.
I want to switch tracks here. This year is an election year, which always makes for a fascinating change of pace and a dredging up of issues that normally remain under the radar. Recently, as an attack against Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin said “This is not a man who sees America as you and I see America…” This statement, besides its inherently silly nature, reveals a sort of homogeneity of thinking that is assumed to exist. There is indeed a “Model American,” and that model does not, apparently, include Barack Obama. This Ethnocentrism, this idealized view of America is one of absolute morality. Generally the Idea of an American is similar to the earliest settlers in America: a white, heterosexual, protestant male, one who emphasizes absolute freedom where it does not conflict with the moral codes of the bible. Neither Muslims nor Homosexuals conform to this ideal identity, and are thus Ignored or deemphasized by the mainstream. Both groups have put forth great effort to advance their ideals and gain some measure of tolerance in this nation, but this sort of advancement has created a great deal of resentment and backlash from the “typical” white communities.
The essays themselves share little thematic similarities, “Appearances” being written as a scholarly documentary of occurrences and “Veiled Intentions” being written as a personal anecdote. In both of them, however, a major component is that of clothing. Both Muslims and Homosexuals have, as a part of their stereotypes, a certain appearance they are expected to conform to. From the turban of the Middle Eastern to the skintight Lycra pants of the modern male homosexual, how an individual dresses labels who they are. In both “Appearances” and “Veiled Intentions,” the way the people dress is misunderstood to identify with a particular method of thought as discussed earlier. This confusion is the primary similarity between the two essays.