Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Plea To Enlarge The Rock

Northwestern University is always casting about for icons and traditions. We keep building things and sticking things in the ground and telling people they’re historical, but we’re not fooling anybody. What do you think of when you think of Northwestern? What is the physical definition of this place? What object will act as our representative to the world? Every likely option has serious shortcomings. The Technological Institute is too functional, Lake Michigan is too impersonal, and University Hall is frankly unspectacular. We erected The Arch in the glorious and thoroughly historical 1970s and, while iconic enough for parents, photographers, and visiting dignitaries, it has proven to be too modern and disingenuous to truly capture the spirit of our beloved University in physical form.

Lacking a more magnificent option, we Wildcats resort to worshiping The Rock, that ragged, chintzy flake of granite awkwardly plopped at a random south campus crossroads. The dubious and unwelcome “gift” of the class of 1902, The Rock was originally a fountain; naturally, it failed very quickly at this purpose, then failed again as a drinking fountain before administrators decided to cut their losses and just let it be a solid piece of stone. Even this rather modest role proved too much in 1989, when to accommodate new landscaping, The Rock was stripped of its remaining dignity and moved some 20 feet (The Rock should move us, not the other way around.) and dropped along the way: it cracked and crumbled and had to be glued back together like a broken lamp in a poor home, or some soulless, overgrown Humpty Dumpty.

For all its many deficiencies in historical value, moral character, and aesthetic pleasantness, if we could only correct the most conspicuous of The Rock’s failings I believe it could finally fulfill its purpose as the symbol of our University and lead Northwestern into a brave new era of light and justice. I speak, of course, of The Rock’s inferior size.

I for one am sick and tired of The Rock being so small. Our college’s rock should be grand and imposing and monumental, as big as the combined power, potential, and hope of every student and scholar at Northwestern. A glimpse of The Rock should fill each student with the same warm spreading feeling of pride and belongingness associated with barn raisings, World Series victories, and The Star Spangled Banner set to fireworks.

Every time I see my university’s rock I should think, “This rock has shattered my conception of vastness.” I walk by our current Rock and think, “This rock is about the size of a large van.” This thing doesn’t even really deserve to be called The Rock. It is more of a Rock, or just a rock, as in “There is a rock in front of Kresge Hall” or “I have a rock in my shoe.”

I want it to be vast beyond reason. I want people to mention it in whispers, if at all.

Imagine The Rock as it could be, a creaking purple monolith towering over campus like the maggot-polished skull of some elder god. It emits a curious odor with a hint of prestige, like graveyard soil and mulled wine. People seem drawn to the Rock, and when they walk by they move like iron filings in a magnetic field. Alumni snap off involuntary salutes. Passing eagles are moved to tears.

This is The Rock Northwestern deserves. This is The Rock Northwestern needs.

Like every goal worth pursuing, the expansion of The Rock will require sacrifice. This need has arisen when times are thin, resources scant, circumstances straitened. Buildings, jobs, and even lives will have to be given up for the sake of a larger Rock.

But can you put a price on pride? On happiness? As goes The Rock, so goes Northwestern. Let’s keep our University relevant and thriving. Let’s bring honor and majesty back to campus. Let’s enlarge The Rock.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Damn it!Somebody needs to take care of this thing

And it might be me.
If I get enough comments (at least from some of the "writers" on this blog), I will continue making posts.

Actually, I might still write just for the heck of it.

For starters, here is something I will brag about(relevant details in bold:


Since I know a lot of you are not actually click on the link, I will post the article anyway:

"Down by 60 points in the final, tie-breaking round of the intercollegiate quiz bowl, UCLA answered four questions in a row on Saturday to rally for the win in a narrow 170-160 victory over Arizona State University.
The UCLA quiz bowl team’s win brought the end of a 15-round tournament that had lasted for nearly 11 hours, said Ravi Menghani, a medical student at UCLA who helped to direct the event.

The four undergraduate students on UCLA’s quiz bowl team answered hundreds of trivia questions to beat 10 other teams from colleges across the western United States including USC and Stanford University, Menghani said.Teams competed head-to-head in a Jeopardy-style tournament that consisted of toss-up questions worth 10 points for a correct answer or negative five points for an incorrect answer.
Quiz topics ranged from academic subjects like history and medicine to general trivia and pop culture, Menghani said.

“We really did not expect to win,” said Tirth Patel, a second-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student who led the UCLA team.

In fact, the tournament could not have begun any worse for UCLA, Patel said.
“Our first game of the morning was just horrible,” he said. “We lost against Cal Tech, the final score being something like 395-40 points.”
The team recovered to dominate over the rest of the tournament, finishing the day with a 13-2 record.

The quiz bowl, which was held in Bunche Hall, is the first stage in an annual contest organized by National Academic Quiz Tournaments, Menghani said.
UCLA will go on to compete at the national level against 31 undergraduate teams in the Intercollegiate Championship held April 3-4 in Dallas, Texas.

“We fought very hard for this, and a lot of the games were really close. At the end
it was like an unexpected but pleasant surprise to get first place,” Patel said.
The UCLA team consists of Patel, third-year biochemistry student Jeffrey Buenaflor, first-year mathematics student Ian Drayer and second-year biochemistry student Chris Ngoon.

All are members of the UCLA College Bowl Club, which meets twice a week for two hours at a time to prepare for upcoming events, Patel said.
On top of this, Patel said he intends to spend added time working with his team to train for the national tournament, which he said will be “on a whole different level” from any event his team has participated in so far.
Despite the time commitment involved, Patel said college bowl is easily worth doing.

“Being a science major, I usually don’t get to take that many literature or art
classes, so College Bowl allows me to learn about subjects that I otherwise would not have studied,” he said.“I also get to meet people from around the country with different majors and different backgrounds but who all have an interest in college bowl.”Menghani, who helped found the UCLA College Bowl Club in 1999 as an undergraduate student, said he agreed.
“This is a great way to have fun with your friends and to learn about trivia in a non-stressful setting,” he said.

He added, “And you don’t have to worry about getting a bad grade.”

A certain Mr. Rezac's training might have helped.



Friday, December 19, 2008



I'm thinking about an art project where I choose 10 citations at random from 10 books in the library and then write an experimental research paper around them. Sources may include an exploration of Irish heroin culture, the December 1989 newsletter of the London Maritime Society, and an encyclopedia of prominent Japanese businessmen. I wonder what I’ll prove. Instead of filling in blank spaces in the web of knowledge this project will bridge gaps that don’t exist. Really, I suppose the only thing any of these sources will have in common (if I make the selection as heterogeneous as I plan to) will be the fact that they were all randomly selected by me for this project. Perhaps their synthesis will offer a glimpse into my subconscious. Or a Dada commentary on the pointlessness of artifice and human creativity. Or a waste of time and paper.

he's so dumb he doesn't even know he's alive

I’m slipping through a dark Wisconsin on a big silver train. My eyelids are heavy and the actresses on all the laptops and portable dvd players seem more beautiful than usual, as if they had just been born. Hair falls in perfect blond ringlets or even sheets of deep red, well-lit faces say improbable things. They’re like ghosts, strange phosphorescent spirits flickering on the laps of those too poor or too senile or too Amish to fly. Real girls are not as pretty and at the same time much more beautiful.
I am surrounded by sleeping women. Diana is dozing off to my left. A girl with an enormous Semitic nose and tight black jeans is spread across two seats on the other side of the aisle. She is still wearing her glasses, as is the middle-aged woman majestically napping in the seat in front of her. I could never sleep with my glasses on, unless if I were quite drunk and didn’t think about it. Even then, they would probably fall off and be crushed underneath me. The middle-aged woman is awake now. She’s wearing a lot of jewelry; her empty coffee cup has a lipstick stain on the mouthpiece. She looks across the aisle, out the window of the strange old man sitting in front of me. She has drawn the worn blue curtain over her own window. A male child stumbles by, corrupting the feminity of the scene. A gay University of Chicago student stands, stretches, and walks off. A sturdy bald man whose elaborate head and neck creases make him resemble a Star Trek alien walks briskly past. I am alone with the sleeping women again. Diana’s mouth is slightly open. The middle-aged woman is asleep again. I’m going to get a crick in my neck if I keep twisting to observe the girl with the big nose. Her nose seems to get bigger every time I look at it. She’s wearing black chuck tailors, and something about her ass seems right to me. I like when the female form seems appealing and complete in and of itself. Am I being clear? When it can’t be measured in inches and pounds. We’re passing through a small town, a little oasis of orange light in deepest darkest Wisconsin. It’s not very big, but it’s probably the biggest town for miles. Farmers come here to buy underwear. We’re further north now—the river is frozen solid. I normally spend my time in the observation car, but it was too full of happy couples. One guy even had a guitar. A woman in her late thirties looks wrong in a baggy blue American Apparel dress (she is just too old for the blasé ironic kissing boys and getting wasted ethos of that dress) and shepherds her three daughters past me to the dining car. Diana is dead to the world. The middle-aged woman seems to have found her groove, as the bizarre mechanical idiom has it. She raises a hand heavy with rings and bracelets to her mouth for a moment. Her shirt is made of some shimmery white material, maybe satin or silk but probably polyester. I’m going to try to sleep.

Let’s look into how breasts are used to sell things. Honestly I’m most interested in developing some sort of metric to classify the degree and type of breast exposure in advertisements for a variety of products, then applying that metric to a variety of ads and examining the results. I guess you could examine it from one direction or the other: either evaluate how people respond to breasts in advertisements, or look into how advertisers use breast imagery. I’d prefer the latter method, because A. it involves the examination of ads rather than a big psych study with a shit ton of participants and B. I find advertisements very interesting in the way they reflect and influence our society. Questions: what sort of breasts (size, shape, etc) and what sort of breast exposure techniques (i.e. exposed skin v. form fitting tops) are deployed for what sort of product and in what sort of medium? Obviously ads for beer, action movies, and other awesome things will feature tons of tits, but commercials for more family friendly products will often feature subtle but noticeable boobage. For example, the box for my parents’ new television features a little color graphic of a happy family of three basking in the high definition warmth of their new idiot box, mom and dad half-embraced (a full hug would of course obscure one person’s view of the television) with Junior tucked between them. Just to the left of Junior’s head, mom’s pink blouse has flopped open a bit, giving interested shoppers a nice view of about three quarters of mom’s left tit.
What sorts of products are most associated with breasts? Have advertisers attempted to create a mental parallel between their product and breasts? Does packaging or logo design reflect this intent?
What about breasts in motion? Can a jiggle sell products that a pleasing line simply can’t? Maybe the jiggle is appealing because it reveals something of the texture of breasts as well as their shape. Can still images be manipulated to create the impression of motion, and hence an impression of texture? Where are the tactile ads? I want to be able to pet that puppy on the toilet paper and cup that tit on the cardboard cut out.

Man I sat down at this computer ready to moan for man but writing that “tits in advertising” research proposal cheered me right up. Some days I think I should be an advertising executive. People need to have things sold to them. Probably good money if you’re smart. Plus it would piss Sam off.
New business cards, maybe just a triple card we could present to clients:
Max Kuehn: Idea Man. Josh Mattson: Grease Man. Sam Walker: Asshole Man.

I’m going to take your advice once more and get a shorter letter out faster instead of laboring over this fucker for another week and squeezing out one more page. I’ll probably be there to watch you open this.


Pretentious title: The Bridge To Nowhere: A Subconscious Research Project. The key to every thesis is a good pretentious title with a colon in it. I Can Count To Thirteen Backwards: A History Of Angry Drunks. End Days: The Apocalypse In Retrospect. Lubricity: A Hodgepodge Of Nonsense.