Friday, November 21, 2003

what's on my mind?

Another Friday arrives on the plains surrounding Lake Michigan, against the expanse of wind-blown clouds hovering over Evanston, Illinois. I am visiting Northwestern, to determine if I should study here next year. I am not quite sure what attracts me to this place.
It is cold here - compared to my adopted San Francisco home. The broad, flat landscape that marks the greater midwest can be uniform and unimpressive. The gothic architecture of some buildings here appears more stern against the flatness, like rising proctors of a stretch of university buildings. And many of the administrative buildings are framer houses from the early 20th century, matronly and perching themselves to watch students from across the street.
So, this is what is on my mind - standing at a computer terminal, wondering what the next two years of my life would bring hanging by this long, flat lake pushing in to the long, flat land. I think that it would be an adventure, and another life adventure.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Work Drags

Some days - like today - I just stare at the computer screen. It flashes in blinking applications, up and down scale the windowpanes of colored data, and the day flashes in blinking patterns that follow the flow of the whirling windowpanes. I am having problems focusing on the work that unfurls before me in reams of documents that need creation. The silly thing is that as much as I might capture better thoughts in my journal than lurk on the pages of these data sheets, these data sheets are published for abundant profits while my journal entries hover in the poverty of my diary. A pauper never begs for the rewards that the artistic mind can offer, only dreams for the dirty profits of a king's ransom of consulting fees.
Such is life, I suppose, and maybe both paths converge in a happy medium of worthy thoughts and valued publication. I can wish so much, but today I can only master the idea that work drags.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Attention to Deficit

I am trying to pay attention to the tasks that I need to complete for work, but I find this as difficult right now as counting all the rain drops that flicker the window in my room. This is mostly due to the tedious nature of the work that I need to complete, a series of documents that contain line-by-line items of necessity for technical people to interpret and build into software applications that pile screens of code that can be viewed in some far-away, dark, and cooled room full of white boxes of plastic and silicon chips. But I get ahead of myself - I am deconstructing the path of the line-by-line items of necessity that I need to write, from the recesses of my head to the computer screen which I see filling with its own sets of lines of characters and text. Such as this account, which piles on other lines of text that organize themselves into areas on the screen, some text in different colors and sizes, other text underlined and ready for a click and a whoosh to another page of text and colors and sizes. Endless - but I get ahead of myself again.
So, I guess that I am having difficulty paying attention to the minutiae that is required for the documents that I need to write. What an empty process, though, and even less fulfilling - I feel more attention to deficit.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Listen to Rufus Wainwright

I don't tend to listen to conventional music, and I hardly listen to the radio - except for years back living in LA and listening to the Santa Monica Community College radio station, which played a wide mix of independent and electronic music. Some people have commented on my eclectic taste in music, which tends to favor lyrical music without a broad following. Sometimes, the interest is prescient - case in point, my interest in Oasis and Coldplay before they "hit it big." But generally, I like to listen to music that I stumble upon in music shops, followng influences and my tastes.
One discovered artist that I recommend - I hardly remember how I find certain writers and authors any more - is Rufus Wainwright. He has uniquely blended folk, pop, and orchestral touches to create a sound that is unmistakeably his own. His parents were classically trained musicians of their own repute - Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle - and he was interested in opera at a young age. As his influences gelled, his style also emerged, this theatrical mix of musical influences that props up a vibrato voice that sweetly pierces his recordings. His new album - "Want One" - is the first of two ("Want Two" will be released in the spring of next year). But also check out his first album, self-titled, and his second album, "Poses", as great examples of what is good in pop music these days.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Off to a run

Somehow, the hours disappeared into 6:45pm, and I'm going to be late for a dinner date with a welcome friend around the bend (or three blocks over in modern parlance). I have to go for a run before I am considered done - for today, at least. Off to a run, I say, and leave the rest for another day, namely tomorrow. It will come regardless of what I tell myself or what I do in between. So off for a run, which makes more sense anyway.

Monday, November 10, 2003

The oddities of capitalism

On a watercolor sunshine afternoon, a wonderful friend and I walked along the bay towards Fort Mason. For those more familiar with San Francisco, the wind was only purring (sometimes it roars like a lion along the Marina Green), and the forecasted rain hung heavy in the beautiful clouds; we saw none of it, only the glorious colors of the sunset. We walked to the Annie Leibovitz exhibit in the Herbst Pavilion, "Rewarding Lives", a collection of her photography that captured famous cardmembers of American Express (the company, I might graciously add, footed the bill for the free exhibit - you can follow the link here: http://www.fortmason.org/spotlights/2003/1003/1003-spot1.html). The Moderns, a creative agency, dreamt the translucent pods that housed various collections of photos; the icons enchanted the lens: Muhammed Ali, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis, Jr., Gwynteth Paltrow and her morther Blythe Danner, I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry, Greg Louganis, Tony Hawk, and 73 other various personalities.
The experience was spectacular until we encountered a photograph of the great filmmakers or our era. There was Martin Scorsese, Stephen Spielberg, an unmentioned man, and George Lucas. The unmentioned man was the one who helped Lucas start his feature film career in the film "American Graffiti" and a true Bay Area creative; however, he was not mentioned, we presumed, for his lack of an American Express card. Looking at the placard below the photograph, the other three were named, with a placeholder (or actual representation) of their American Express cards. Francis Ford Coppola, on the other hand, was not even recognized as appearing in the photograph.
Perhaps we harped on that one photograph too long - the rest of the exhibit was moving, the collection striking, if sometimes the written placards were a bit spotty. Still, the omission of Francis Ford Coppola affected us. Does this mean that a distinguished figure who is not a customer of a company sponsoring an artist exhibit does not exist? Obviously, many of his friends do, as evidenced by the photograph in which he was unmentioned; is he considered without substance (or even existence) for not becoming an American Express cardmember? Certainly, the point of the exhibit was to highlight Annie Leibovitz's photographs - and the immense influence of American Express. I think that the exhibit made its point, but did it have to disregard Francis Ford Coppola? Perhaps the back-story - as the build-up to the main story in movies is called - is more complicated than an omitted name on an Annie Leibovitz photograph.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Back again, a week on

Sometimes, the days sneak away - as if I was not paying attention and they slipped past like accomplished thieves. It has already been a week since the last day that I happened upon my thoughts, so here I am again.
Today, I am visiting another university campus to consider more graduate programs. There is something thrilling about walking about with students, the spirit of an American college. The mind opens to the ideas that charge the grounds. Professors and students talking, working out life's virtues and new research that dispels old assumptions. Everything is new again, and the mind is alive. I like these environments because they bring new energy to tired thoughts. There is something about the American college...