I’m the evil sensei; it’s my evil dojo

Most of my friends are in Sunriver this weekend, leaving me plenty of time to fritter away on nothing in particular. (Well, actually, I chose this fate myself: they’re going to be either skiing or playing video games. I don’t ski, and an entire weekend of video games isn’t my idea of a fun time.) I did use about a half-hour of the day to start purging old paper from my desk (one of my few productive acts of the last 24 hours), and three things caught my eye while glancing through that stack of paper.

First: I really took advantage of cheat sheets when they were allowed. Mechanical pencils allowed me to write tiny, clear letters—and I filled up any pages that were given me. Densely. [That actually helped me more that you might cynically think: I seem to learn by writing things down. I lose things almost immediately if I just listen (names are always a struggle); reading is somewhere between the other two, but more towards the listening side than I’d like.]

Second: I got a 94 on my essay about Keats’ Ode to Psyche for an (honors) poetry class. This is notable for a multitude of reasons (and being noted here simply because I’m recycling the paper itself): I actually took a poetry class in college—something those who know me might be surprised to hear—and I actually was halfway competent in it—something those who know me would almost definitely be surprised to hear. That 94 was earned, by the way: the professor had obviously set the bar higher because of the “honors” in the course title (despite the 100-level of the course).

Third, and finally: with friends like mine, I have no need for enemies. Back as high school seniors, Brian wrote a paper on my true, evil, nature. He commemorated that moment by giving me that essay, and I unearthed it today while cleaning.

No, I did not throw it out. I really ought to.

Nowadays I openly sing along to the start [and the start only, mind you] of John Kreese’s theme, The Way of the Fisting—from the musical entitled It’s Karate, Kid. (Think the the title of this entry.) Back then, however, my True Nature was a well-kept secret that Brian blew the lid off of.

Presented below, in its almost-entirety (little edits and such) and completely without Brian’s permission (recall that I am evil), is that historic essay.

Brent: Shy Charmer or Worldwide Menace?

I can go no further. I can no longer stand aside while our thoughts, emotions, and actions are manipulated by a seemingly innocuous boy. Veiled maddeningly beneath the guise of a sweet 17-year old, always acting so pleasant, always festering beneath the skin, lies a true evil, and the name of that evil is Brent.

I am enraged at the playful acts this charming demon puts on. He twists our perceptions to meet his twisted needs; wars and plagues occur that Brent may profit. He turns our best intentions into the very plans of Satan himself, and the unthinking masses blindly follow.

It is a well-known fact that a full 83% of the world’s problems are caused directly or indirectly by Brent. So why do we stand by while he rapes whole countries and spreads his hands of suffering to block out the very sun? How does he maintain his twisted façade?

Those who follow Brent’s twisted ways, his slaves, control his images. They create his sound bites; they control what we see and hear of Brent. We are constantly spoon-fed the mundane, ignorable kindness of Brent, and thus fail to see that he creates our misery for his profit and his purely evil pleasure. His minions know the true damnable mission that Brent has, and instead of rising up against him, use his plan for themselves that they may, too, profit in the destruction he creates.

If we are to stop the monstrous evil that is Brent, we must realize that we have too long been complacent and that we have too long been taken in by Brent’s unmitigated evil. We must rise up against him and crush his reprehensible establishment and overthrow his machine of the devil. We must cast out his soul-selling followers and destroy the unspeakable crime that we foolishly call Brent. Only when Brent has been driven from the land can the world begin to heal.

And I would have gotten away with my profitably evil plan, if it wasn’t for that meddling kid!

Compliment day

Today someone came into my cubicle at work and told me, “you know, you’re a good guy.” Of course, this was related to something I did at work (we’re not known for dropping random compliments); I just hope it works out as well as this person thinks it will.

Then, this evening at the ballroom dance practice (where—get this—I actually danced), Connor informed me that I’m a good dancer—and that I wasn’t allowed to question it.

That’s reassuring to hear, because—as Barry and I talked about tonight—I never watch myself in the wall of mirrors that is a prominent feature of the room. Barry feels (and I mostly agree) that it’s a rather Narcissistic thing to do; the downside to that opinion is it means that you never have any idea whether or not you look like a total fool.

(Unless you’re doing the polka, in which case you know you look like a fool—and you love it.)

Of course, this was the same Connor who earlier had put on a far-too-small pink sweater (female, of course) and then danced a lindy hop. So, um, take that for what you will.

Otherwise, today was pretty much characterized by me rocking out to (erm) Michael Bolton’s Dance with Me. (The song’s actually much cooler than the singer would indicate. Really!) I’d alternate between that and a variant (I think) of Rockapella’s cover of Shambala. Both are fun West Coast songs, in my book.

Dancing foibles

It seems I lose what little balance I have when I don’t get enough sleep. It also seems that lindy hop involves lots of kicking, and it seems that kicking involves only having one foot on the ground. As they say in Spanish: ¡Uf!

Additionally: six hours of sleep (I didn’t get more because I’m incredibly dumb) isn’t enough for my body to repair itself. My legs are absolutely killing me, and there’s really no reason why I should be so bad off. In lindy hop we basically practiced a whole bunch of twirling moves, which should (and did) reveal my susceptibility to dizziness much more than destroy my legs.

For all the dance-related screw-ups and lack of sleep and whatnot, today was actually a pretty good day. I learned that I might not have shot myself in the foot by speaking up at last week’s work meeting, and Connor actually bothered to show up at our west coast class tonight—so I got to chat with him and others after class for a good while.

Chatting is fun, and I don’t actually do it all that often now that I don’t hang around OSU all the time. It was through chatting with Johnny that I learned this is Marco’s last term at OSU; his departure is going to be a huge blow to the dance community. I first met Marco in my basic ballroom classes, where he was progressing through as a follow while I was learning how to lead (dancers sometimes learn the opposite role from their traditional one, as one way to improve their skill; you can lead/follow better if you also know how to follow/lead). I then pretty much saw him in every other class I took, where he was helping the instructor teach the class.

I’ll miss watching him dance, most of all. Sometimes he’d notice me (or others; I’m not the only one who’s impressed with how well he dances) watching him, and he’d pull out some really fancy trick for his audience. Not to show off, really; more to entertain. Amazing guy, and quite friendly.

[checks clock] I should really work on this whole “sleep” thing.

Internet vacation

Taking a break from the internet is nice. I haven’t cut myself off completely—far from it—but I’ve made deliberate efforts to keep myself from investing all my free time in front of the computer. Alas, I have time-wasting powers far beyond that of the mere internet. Still, at least I’m not working as much on my geek tan.

Had a great meeting at work on Friday, where the new company slogan was unveiled:

Our spare is unusable. You will do it again.

I displayed my youthful indiscretion by pointing out that management had just ripped that line out of Evangelion; I’ll probably pay for that insolence by being assigned the pilot of Unit 03.

Saturday Brian and I watched a bit of Azumanga Daioh (I enjoyed the heck out of it, despite having seen those episodes recently) and the first episode of Read or Die. We were both bowled over by the lines—whether meant by the Japanese, or simply poorly translated—uttered by the Bad Guy as he was being pursued by the heroines: This sucks! I’m not happy!

(Come to think of it, those lines also works as the official office response to that Friday meeting.)

While away from the computer, I actually read small portions of these nifty objects called “books.” It’s been a long time since I last read of my own motivation, especially if you disregard the Stephen King horror stories I have a propensity towards. I can’t say that my general avoidance of books has been tamed (I’m not sure why I don’t read anymore; as a kid I used to love it), but this is a positive step.

I also thought some more about cleaning my room. It seems that I have to do an inordinate amount of preparatory thinking before I actually move on that task; all I can claim I’ve done so far is to have thrown out my remaining notes from college.

Yes, I can be a bit of a pack rat. I’m not horribly afflicted, however; you can see my floor and move around my room, which various TV shows have shown me cannot be done in some people’s houses. I possess no rusted-out car parts or portions of medical devices. The ever-growing idea of having to move my stuff, someday in the not-too-distant future, is incentive enough to get me started on purging my less-necessary possessions.

Actually, time makes the purging of objects easier for me. I like to hold onto things that remind me of past events, but the passage of time—especially when combined with the iron sieve that is my memory (“first it leaks, and then it rusts”)—soon renders many objects meaningless. So, while I save them at first, they often get purged the next time I clean.

If there’s ever a next time I clean, that is.

I hate DHL

My day was going decently (I managed to catch up on quite a bit of Lindy hop in a short amount of time, which was nice) until I came home and saw a pre-collections letter from DHL.

You see, I bought five audio CDs from Amazon Japan a while back. Under the harmonized tariff schedule, which determines duties paid when you import goods into the United States, audio CDs are duty-free. There’s also a catch-all category for digital CD-like products (think “if it’s not any of the above, then…”) that is charged a 2.7% tariff.

DHL hires its own customs people to help speed their international package delivery—or so they like to advertise. Guess which category they put my five CDs into?

Not only were they catch-all CDs, but there were apparently 10 of them. That was news to me, as well as my Amazon Japan packing slip.

And, since DHL was kind enough to spot me the money to cover this duty they assessed, they want an extra fistful of bucks for their trouble. Needless to say, I called DHL when this first went down—in November. After getting a bit of a run-around, I finally got a helpful gal who took care of the whole mess.

Except that now I’m getting this pre-collections letter. I guess I get to foam at some random customer service rep tomorrow; it’s funny, inasmuch as at work I often hear the other side of the conversation I’m about to have.

So, my assessment: avoid DHL at all costs, if you possibly can. They may be “lean and hungry” (as their latest advertising campaign asserts), but that just means they’re that much more tenacious when they get a hold of your wallet.

Last day of isolation

The progression of life recently forced me to evict the little plush Maromi (from the show Paranoia Agent) that until now had been happily residing in its associated artbox. The doll’s actually rather small—and seems rather cute—so I wound up putting it on the corner of my monitor.

I hear that those who have seen Paranoia Agent find Maromi to be quite creepy. As I haven’t yet gotten to watching the show, I’ll just continue on in my happy ignorance, pondering the world with a little pink dog (I think) on the corner of my digital life.

I continue to convalesce, but this darn cough (the same one that started everything off) refuses to die. Rather than be social and cough constantly, I’ve been keeping to myself: after finally beating the internet on Saturday (and that bash.org guy is right—the end guy is hard), I turned my sights to my dusty GBA and the long-neglected copy of Metroid Fusion it contained.

I beat Fusion last night. Waah. Now what am I supposed to do?

My (far too belated to be useful) opinion of Fusion? It’s a pretty good Metroid game, but far from the best. Controls and graphics and whatnot are all solid, and I can’t imagine the amount of time that was spent designing the world (it’s hella intricate, and I try to refrain from using the term “hella” too often), but the heart of the game is being repeatedly told to “go to point X to do Y”—and that ain’t what Metroid’s about. For all the pretty graphics and bigger story and whatnot, the game fails to capture the feel of being one person exploring an elaborate, hostile land. (Don’t mock me for writing that.) I welcomed the end of the game, for all the wrong reasons: the middle just dragged on with one tedious “kill boss in this room” assignment after another.

Still, there are worse ways to pass the time when you’re sick. Like, say, looking at another damn web page. (Yes, I’m interneted-out.) I’m so glad I get to dance again tomorrow.

Battling the X

That was a nasty little experience. You see, this thing dubbed the X-parasite infected and nearly killed me. It took a week, and a vaccine derived from the much-maligned Metroid, to beat the bug (well, all but this smoker’s cough I still have). I was then sent to exterminate the X; only later did I realize that the parasite mimicked those it infected, and so I had a full-power version of myself wandering around. Hunting me. What a bitch.

And I also had this damn annoying computer telling me what to do the entire time. “Brent,” the AI would say, “it seems that plants have jammed up the generator. Find the plant monster responsible and execute it.” “Oh noes! Teh self-destruct si been activatared!!!!11 Shut it down before we all burn!” “My boots haven’t been licked in twenty minutes. Fix that.” And so on.

While recovering from Albert’s X-infection, I also managed to pass it on to my entire family. Oops.

There’s something disturbing about seeing your folks and sister fall ill at the exact same time. Especially when “falling ill” means sleeping the entire day, with breathing that sounds more like moaning and less like breathing. That appears to have been the worst point, though; now they’re just sleeping without moaning.

Or else they’re sleeping without breathing. Maybe I should check on that.

I don’t want to know how much I missed in my lindy hop class, and I don’t want to face the pile of paper that’s waiting for me at work. This illness has left me with the feeling that I’ve just skipped forward a week—and for good reason! Now I have to pick up the pieces of my life; fortunately, my life’s not all that big and can’t possibly break into that many pieces.

Perhaps the most entertaining thing I passed my unblinking, glassy eyes over during my X-infection were these papers that were supposedly turned in for grades:

Biography: Walt Whitman

Plains, Trains, and Plantains (hat tip to Brian for this one)

Additionally, the coolest thing I came across immediately prior to falling ill was this illustration of how cool our postal workers can be: camera mail.

Stop the pain

The nice thing about being sick enough to stay home from work (two days running, now) is that you discover that there’s a whole lotta time in the day.

The not-so-nice thing about that is that, by definition, you’re sick enough so that you don’t feel like doing a damn thing.

Heck, I should be kicking my heels at the existence of a cheap mac—but I’m not. I just want the fire in my throat to subside.

Is that too much to ask?


Fever (implied from chills): check

Blood-soaked cough: check

Dizziness: chezzeck (ugh)

Missed the free dance (after promising my attendance to multiple people): check (not that they’d want me to keep my promise in my current state, anyway)

Bitched at Brian for introducing me to his sick housemate: checkity-check

Ah, time for bed.

I’m not sick, dammit!

So I headed over to Brian’s new digs on Friday evening, where I helped to rearrange his constipated room (his word, not mine). That’s right: I am a secret feng shui master.

I also met Brian’s second housemate, Albert. Albert, as it turned out, was sick. Today I woke up to discover myself similarly ailed.


There’s a dance this evening, and like hell am I going to miss it over some stupid chest congestion! Needless to say, I’ve been pumping myself full of everything that might aid my recovery in some way. Next up for me: a nap.

CSI: Brent-style

So my dad and I are watching CSI right now, and the crime lab just determined that a guy was innocent because the victim’s blood on the guy’s shoe only consisted of serum—no blood cells—and therefore was planted.

To which I said: damn. It’s a good thing the crime lab works on the side of good, and not evil.

I then thought, if I were a CSI writer:

The first season would have our group of intrepid crime lab people solving a variety of mysteries, much as CSI is today.

At the season finale, one of the cast would disappear—and over the course of the episode the others would discover that (get this) the missing cast member was actually a rogue CSI agent, and had screwed with every case they had “solved.” (Of course, you would have to write the show so that, upon rewatching, viewers can notice where the rogue agent screwed with things. That would be key for DVD sales, later.)

In the second season, the crime lab would both revisit every case from the first season to find the actual killers, and they would hunt down their rogue teammate. Of course, they meet up again in the season finale, where guns and sharp tongues are drawn.

The third season, in contrast (if people were so foolish as to give me a third season), would feature my intrepid crew overworked and underpaid. Rather than one case an episode, they’d have ten; mistakes would be made, and evidence would be confused. Witty comments about the killer(s) they’re tracking would turn to bitter comments about their position in life.

I figure that if you’re going to drag something out, you might as well make it painfully obvious that that’s what you’re doing.

The power of dance

Lindy hop, according to my instructor, is hard to do while looking refined. Sounds all right by me. My class is a good mix of familiar and new faces, so it should be good fun—I don’t really know yet, since we’ve just learned the “Charleston kick.” (I also demonstrated that I have no balance and no ear for breaks in the music—but I’ll cleverly ignore that.)

West Coast is almost entirely made of up of new faces, with two notable exceptions: Sara (Suzanne’s friend from BITD), and Kristina. Yes, “Brent totally wants me” Kristina. Funny stuff. I’m gonna have a blast there—and hopefully I’ll get beyond my current curse of blowing the first WCS I dance each evening.

More on those as events develop. Ha.

Tonight was the first Wednesday night practice of the term, however, which was where the real fun was. I saw a ton of friends and danced a little, and came away totally rejuvenated by the experience. Like “ran across an oasis while crawling through the Sahara” rejuvenated. Like “walked in cold and frozen and beat down, walked out radiating heat and vitality” rejuvenated. (One might go so far as to say I found—temporary—salvation.) It seems I really missed my friends from dance over winter break.

You can thank that salvation for the multiple posts this evening, FWIW.

I also saw Connor, for the first time in ages. (That also lifted my spirits; Connor’s darn hard not to like.) Met his new girlfriend, too, and promptly forgot her name. Dang.

New Year’s recap

Nick’s New Year’s party was quite enjoyable, and wound up being well-attended. Some highlights, in incoherent sentence-paragraph form:

Nick asked me about how I had such dedication to school while at OSU. My flippant response: “years of practice.” My actual response: “put school before all else.” (It works, but it sorta cramps your social life.)

Andy and Myles conspired to steal a pot from Nick’s living room to hold a tree Andy had received for Christmas. I was later greatly amused to look down later that evening to find that the pot was gone; I have no idea how they pulled that off. (I mean, I waved to them as they left!) They returned the pot the next day, and Andy’s girlfriend commented that they shouldn’t have stolen something so obviously belonging to Nick’s fiancee.

A drunk girl on the lawn below Nick’s patio (he lives on the third floor of his complex) gave us her interpretive dance of being a firework (namely: jumping into a curled position, and then “exploding” before falling to the ground).

Only one guy puked, and in the process somehow instantaneously teleported from an uncomfortable sleeping position on the couch to Nick’s patio. There he discovered that another guy was sleeping outside, and (furthermore) that he was on the third floor—and so he instantaneously jumped to the bathroom. The speed with which he moved was downright astounding.

Dick Clark’s Rocking New Year’s 2005 was in fact titled that way, despite the fact that Dick Clark was still recovering from a stroke and Regis was actually hosting the show. Before we turned on the TV for the New Year’s countdown, people were almost to the point of placing bets on whether it would be “DC’s RNY2005 hosted by Regis Philbin,” or simply “Regis Philbin’s RNY2005.”

After most people had left, those who remained watched a DVD of the best of SNL featuring Christopher Walken. His “The Continental” skits were either hilarious or just painful; it took many people a good bit of time to figure out the double-entendre of his Colonel Angus skit. Ugh—don’t ask me to explain, please.

On New Year’s Day proper, Eric, Brian and I first bought doughnuts at Krispy Kreme. We then proceeded to wander around a mostly-dead garden of roses, the local Vietnam War memorial (what a way to make one somber), and then rode the Max—Portland’s mass-transit system. We got suckered in by the chance to ride an elevator deep into the earth and then hop on a subway; the elevator surprised us by being a damn fast elevator, and the subway (which soon after would permanently emerge from its underground route) was vaguely reminiscent of the metro in London. I had acid flashbacks, at least. (The biggest problem with Max is that it doesn’t cover all of Portland, and so fails to be a complete mass-transit solution.) Still we rode all the way out to the airport—because we could—before turning around and heading home.

Rambling thoughts inspired by a cute girl

There’s this gal who occasionally works at the local Subway (Marin and I tend to eat Subway for lunch; it’s almost cheap if you can split a foot-long with someone) that I think has a crush on me. Call it a hunch.

Aside from begging questions along the lines of how well you can get to know someone simply by chatting sporadically for a few minutes at a time (and then spiraling out to even larger questions such as how well you can actually know anyone, and how well you actually know yourself), this raises an even more basic issue: this gal is 18.

(If that didn’t strike you, then know this: I’m 24, and pushing towards 25. If it still doesn’t strike you, then I say: feh! you are more worldly than I.)

In high school I had this self-imposed rule that I wouldn’t date anyone younger than my sister. (I mean, I would have thought, that’s just sick!) As I’ve gotten older, my “acceptable dating age” limits have broadened (something that was inevitable, as my sister is a mere year-and-a-half younger than I)… but still! I know what I thought about male college seniors/graduates dating high-school-age gals (oddly enough, college gals don’t usually seem to go for high-school guys).

Even overlooking my prejudices, the idea of this cross-age crush gets me thinking on another line of thought: for being essentially the same person I was when I graduated high school, I am a completely different person. Despite going to college in my home town, and thereby missing giant swaths of the College Experience, I have still experienced a whole lot more in life than I had when I was fresh out of public schooling. And though none of those experiences were life-defining, their cumulative effect has been enormous.

How much is that experience worth? How big of a chasm does it make? Perhaps more importantly: how would dating someone who has already attended college affect one who was just starting?

Many years ago, now (though it really doesn’t seem that long to me), Katie wondered aloud what kind of advice I would give to incoming freshmen. Even after graduating, I don’t know what all I would really say. Imagine the weight added to that question if the people you would be advising actually listened to what you said!

I’m not even sure that anyone else will understand what’s eating at me, here. (That’s reasonable, since I’m not sure of it myself.)


The one-two punch of extremely late nights and helping Brian move into his new place has totally destroyed me. Even Mountain Dew can’t save me now.

Tomorrow I start dancing again (yay!)—I only hope I have the wherewithal to survive the day. Dancing is fun; dancing with a sore back might not be. I also intend to chronicle my weekend adventures, once I have regained the strength to press down on the keys of my keyboard.

In the meantime: it has come to my attention that some of you might not know of the little perversion of the web that was known as the Dysfunctional Family Circus. The DFC consisted entirely of captionless pictures from the innocuous Family Circus comic strip; unsavory characters from the internet would then supply their own caption for the scene, which would be collected underneath. While the full project was torn down long ago, I have managed to find a sample of what used to be.

In some ways it was like a protozoan Bash.org, except with copyright infringement.

Happy [belated] New Year

A good New Year’s party means you didn’t get anywhere near enough sleep on New Year’s Eve, and requires that you go to sleep far too early on New Year’s Day.

I attended a good New Year’s party, and so think I’ll be hitting the hay about now. Hope y’all had some fun as well.

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