January 11th, 2009


Stores of the Mind

In this post, I'll briefly discuss two movies and two dreams. The first movie is Needful Things, which bethje and I watched last night. I've never read the book (or ANY Stephen King book, for that matter), but I enjoyed the movie, and thought it had an interesting concept. Nice variation on the theme of mysteriously appearing shops, too. The other movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, was better received by the general public, but not by us. {g} I liked the idea pretty well, though, and I have to give Jim Carrey props for playing the main character convincingly. I never once expected him to start yodeling out of his butt or flailing his arms and yelling. I think the main thing I learned from the film, though, is that guys who own memory-erasure businesses shouldn't hire kids who get drunk and high while on the job.

As for the dreams, the first one I remember involved my really wanting to buy a Dungeons & Dragons manual, despite not having an opportunity to play the actual game. (The sad thing is that I might actually do something like that. I remember when I stayed in a beach house with my dad, and THEY had a D&D manual, which I read quite a bit while there.) I rode the bus to a store that I think was both Target and Toys "R" Us at different times. I overheard someone talking about a woman bringing a horse on the bus, and the horse pooping while on board, but I never actually SAW said horse. I think the woman was in the seat in front of me, though. Later, my family was on board, taking my sister to the airport so she could fly to Ohio. And in the store were two cats, one tortoise shell and one black Maine Coon (looking a lot like the late Anderson, but with a different mouth).

The second dream started out with me in some house where a British guy was hitting on his maid, who was quite similar to Mary Poppins. His wife eventually came back home, and let their several dogs outside. There was also a cat, who walked outside but then came right back in again. Later, I was swimming in a pool that was partially in the same house, on both sides of the front wall and windows. Beth was on the other side of a window from me, and I did some trick where I created a massive wave that both of us rode into the air and then back down.
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I'm not gonna say they're great, I ain't gonna say they ain't

Whatever happened to the search function on LiveJournal? I know it was a third-party application, but did they just remove all of the links to it, or what? The thing is, I have a nagging feeling that I might have used this post's title before, but I don't feel like going back and checking. I'm sure nobody but me really cares, though.

Anyway, the subject this time is the solo work of John Linnell, the bottom half of They Might Be Giants. He only had one solo album released in record stores, and that's State Songs, a project in which he wrote songs based on the names of states, but not on the states themselves. Kind of confusing, huh? Read on for the individual songs.

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The only other Linnell solo release was an EP called House of Mayors, which he did for John Flansburgh's Hello Recording Club. The goal here was to write songs about New York City mayors. Unlike the State Songs, most of these were instrumentals.

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Next week, I think I'll move on to another band. Unless I receive some better suggestions, I'll probably go with my second favorite music group, XTC.

[1] I seem to recall a quote from a Linnell concert in which he said that Horton had three songs about Alaska. I know one of the others is "Springtime in Alaska," but if John is correct, what's the third?

Sympathy for the Devil

While I certainly wouldn't say Satan is a nice guy (after all, his whole point is that he's the source of all evil, right?), I can't help feeling somewhat sorry for him, at least as he's portrayed in popular culture and religion. I mean, if the Bible is correct, he obviously knows the scriptures and is aware that he's going to lose in the end (which can't seem that far away to an immortal being), but he just keeps soldiering on anyway. I guess the Norse gods were sort of similar, in that they all knew they'd die at Ragnarok, but still went on with the deitizing. It's one of the worst kinds of fatalism, isn't it? Mind you, Satan certainly keeps busy, what with his ruling Hell, running the music industry, controlling most of the world's religions (all of them except whatever one the person talking at the time believes in, apparently), disguising himself as every pagan deity, corrupting the world's governments, AND still being willing to make personal appearances in order to tempt relative nobodies and gain control of their souls. So what does he want with all those souls? Yeah, he tortures them, but you'd think it would be a tad bit difficult to torture someone with no physical form, and it would have to get boring eventually, right? If he's the evil genius people seem to think he is, sticking pitchforks into people's asses couldn't possibly be particularly intellectually fulfilling for him. Really, the fundamentalist version of Satan HAS to be bored, if he's going out and doing all this stuff on Earth despite getting most of humanity's souls by default.

While there really isn't much detail about the Devil in the Bible itself, popular theology has painted him as God's favorite angel, who was cast out of Heaven when he tried to steal the big guy's throne. But was he simply greedy and power-hungry, or did he honestly want to make some changes in the way things were being done? What with the vengeful, destructive way God is always acting in the Old Testament, I could see a group of angels resorting to rebellion after their polite suggestions were repeatedly shot down by the boss. The Qur'an actually says that Iblis (the Islamic name for Satan) was cast out of Heaven after refusing to bow down to Adam, even though there doesn't seem to have been any particular reason for him to do so.

Once again, the serpent in Genesis is not explicitly referred to as Satan, and was more likely intended to be an actual literal snake (the story about the serpent being forced to crawl on its belly and eat dust as punishment for its transgressions has a definite air of the "how the leopard got his spots" type of fables). He's popularly identified as the Devil, though, which would mean Satan was responsible for bringing wisdom to mankind. Wait, if Satan is the one who tempts people toward evil, yet he was the one who gave them the ability to tell good from evil in the first place...that doesn't quite add up, does it? Or maybe it's just further evidence of his having to take entertainment where he could find it. I think the Gnostics might have been on to something after all.