Friday, August 20, 2004

I'm Just Rollin' Off To Sleep, Doin' Some Bloggin', Sippin' On Thin-ned Juice

As my title would suggest, I'm struggling to keep my eyelids open. I ran across Miguel's post and grudgingly realized that I couldn't go to sleep with that last post sitting there with it's tongue hanging out like a brain-damaged marmot.

I'm also drinking some orange juice that I watered down with, um, water. Wow, I am tired. It's a refreshing concoction that Sibbitt introduced to me the moonless night he, Donovan, and I decided that it would be a great idea to duct-tape flashlights to some mountain bikes and hit the trails along South Mountain.

It was good times.

That wasn't what I was going to talk about, though. Oh, yeah. I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR) on my way home. I casually listened to a segment about listening to yeast cells. The following is part of what I heard:

"UCLA scientist James Gimzewski positioned a sensitive instrument called an atomic force microscope over a cell to try to detect its motion. To his surprise, the microscope picked up regular vibrations. His team then looked for a program that would could convert the data into a sound file. Gimzewski thinks what they hear is the sound of tiny molecular motors inside the cell, moving things around. The researcher likened it to sitting outside a living factory, and listening to the wall. When they changed the temperature, the sound would speed up or slow down, as if the cells were running faster or slower" (NPR, August 2004,

Presumably, this technology could be helpful in detecting, say, pre-cancerous cells. Hey, I'm for that.

The scientist went on to hypothesize that the sounds could also be a method of communication for the cells. Communication...of cells.

A gear in my head slowly began to turn, shedding flakes of rust...

Music is hailed as a mysterious force; a force on par with such concepts as love and art, with the unnerving ability to influence our mood, thoughts, and behavior. I briefly touched on this a while ago, likening a dance club to boiling a pot of water.

I remember brushing up on Ayn Rand and discovering that there was one topic that caused her to balk: Music. She admitted that she could not satisfactorily explain why music seemed to have an intrinsic (and I think she actually used "intrinsic") ability to stir such intense feeling.

She isn't the only philosopher that has tackled the problem, but I can't think of one that has ever succeeded.

I had accepted that I didn't understand this quality of music either. My best theory was that emotional responses to music were conditioned, even though I knew it didn't explain listening to responses illicited by music of other cultures with radically different, um, music theories(?) (I don't know much about musical terms or theory, but I know that there is usually a dominant...groundwork on which the music of a culture is built upon.)

My conditioned theory didn't satisfactorily explain hearing entirely new sounds made by entirely new instruments (i.e., Radiohead). Eh, I'm saying "satisfactorily" because it may be that the new sounds are reminsiscent enough of the old sounds to which we've already attached an emotional response, but I'm not convinced.

I feel as if I'm trying to explain more than I can chew. Hmm...

I know of a story that describes the universe and the whole of existence as a vast musical composition. An eternal orchestra; a celestial symphony. Anyway, Satan existed as a part of this universe. He was a musical note, just like everything else. He wasn't bad and he wasn't good; he was a note. But what he was doing was sounding when he wasn't supposed to; essentially playing the right note at the wrong time to create chaos and dischord.

It's a story that makes a lot of sense to me. Time is a measure of relative movement. Our vision is sensing the movement of light.

We hear sound. Sound is a vibration; a series of movements that specialized structures in our ears pick up.

From my own experience, from what I've been told, what I've read, from what I've put together, and from observing the experiences of others, I've decided that sounds, music especially, can and do invoke profound emotional responses.

Slow, deep, foreboding drums, or the mournful wail of bagpipes, for example.

Back to the article: If cells are indeed communicating through these vibrations, these sounds, then that means (obviously) that sound is a form of cellular communication.

Cells, the building blocks of our entire bodies, are microscopic sound receivers.

The gears begin to turn a little more quickly...

Plants that grow better when they are played music. The hearbeat rhythm in Shakespeare, the stress-unstressed meter. A heartbeat rhythm that is also in the most popular classical music. The vibratto sung by opera singers that is hailed as "stimulating." Soothing lullabies that hush children. Rock music that sways hips.

We could very well be responding on a cellular level that we are unaware of. What if all this time, music hasn't only been hooked up to emotional memories like boxcars behind a locomotive?

What if these vibrations are literally an unseen hand reaching into our minds and flipping a cell-sized switch to turn on happiness, sadness, anger, fear, or hunger?

Well, probably not hunger.

Is music the universal language of all cellular organisms, a language that existed long before the Tower of Babel divided people forever. Is music the only language that still binds us, simply because it works so subtly that it escaped even the notice of God, so to speak? Subtle enough to elude Man until this very moment?

This idea is not new, I've just been told. Noam Chomsky had a similar theory.

I didn't think this idea was new. Hell, I think we've all had an inkling of it.

What I'm excited about is that now we have the technology to measure cellular response to sound. With this science, this system of testing and understanding to gather and share information, we may be able to unlock an entire universe of communication.

Imagine the possibilities. One day, a musician struggling to express to an audience the resulting emotion from losing everyone they love due to an addiction to heroin may be bent over a desk, pencil in hand, not writing notes but doing the math.

A suffering mother in a foreign land, her child killed by bombing, may be able to e-mail a sound file that, when heard, will cause a president to sink to the ground, bury their face in their hands and ask in a hoarse whisper "What have I done? What have I done?"

Then there's always the dark side to consider. Technology that can control your feelings? Emotion control? Well, I'd say we already have very similar mechanisms in place. Think about how many times in a given day that you are made to feel guilty, whether or not you deserve to be. Think about how many times you are made to feel afraid. Think about how many times you are made not to worry.

There is one solution.

We'll have to learn to distinguish between what we feel and what we're being made to feel. Sort of like what I recommend everyone do now: distinguish between what you think and what you're being made to think.

Yeah, I know. Hey, nobody said this was going to be easy.

Hmm...a society where the people are controlled, placated, rewarded, and even incited to violence using technology based on sounds that control cellular communication. The rag-tag group of rebels that gets wise, do something needlessly symbolic like burst out their own eardrums, and then start a silent revolution.

There could be a science fiction novel in this...

Until then, I say pump up the volume.

On NPR, of course.

[Note: It's incredibly late, I'm tired, due to the virus my spell-check doesn't work, I still haven't found the logic-check, and half-way through this post I ran out to the bar to meet my friend Amy whom I haven't seen in a couple of years.

The pointing out of my errors will be much appreciated.]

Thursday, August 19, 2004

boss away computer at home virus-ridden worm-infested blogging future uncertain must go now risking losing job/money for school love anda peace

teh gurg

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Billy And His Goldfish-like Memory*

Billy And His Goldfish-like Memory*

*The original title of Memento. No, seriously.

[The following is an excerpt from the original short story that became the screenplay for Memento. It is in no way about me and the events of the past weekend.]

"How dare you?! You don't know me! You have no idea what I'm like!" The ferocity in her words seemed foreign to the dainty, glitter-glossed lips from which it issued. Her eyes narrowed into deadly slits and a snarl curled up one side of her mouth, turning a lovely face into a mask of venom. "Who the hell do you think you are?!"

With a start, I realized that I was the focus of this vehement interrogation.

My jaw fell slack as I struggled to understand my current situation.

I'm talking to a girl. A pretty girl. She is sitting in a chair. We are in the corner of the room, away from the others. This appears to be a party. I have a cup in my hand. She's still sitting down, yet appears to be weaving from side to side...along with the rest of the room.

I must be drunk.

She must be upset with me. But why? As she pointed out, I have no idea who she is. I don't know why I'm talking to her. I don't even know what I've done to make her so upset.

Just stick to the standard plan; the one that works best in this type of situation: Act natural.

"Uh, I, um, well, that is...what?" I managed to stammer.

She continues her tirade as if I've said nothing, which, essentially, I haven't. "You are wrong! Completely wrong!"

Aha! I've said something and I am wrong about it. This could be the key.

"I'm wrong? That's great!" I smile brightly at her.

Now her mouth is the one hanging open slightly, just more prettily.


I beam at her. "If I'm wrong, then you can tell me why!"

"Tell you..why?"

This is going well. She isn't yelling anymore. I think she understands. Now she'll tell me what I said.

"Yes! So please, explain to me: How am I wrong?" I smile my most winning smile.

Her face screws up like a baseball pitcher about to bean me with a fastball. Her lovely mouth begins to open and I cringe instinctively-

The room begins to go dark, as if bunch by bunch, velvet-black flowers are springing into bloom
all around me...

Rocks are crunching underneath my chest. My arm hurts. Something is scratching me. Something is brushing me. I flail; I hear rustling. There is more scratching; more pain.

It is warm here. Too warm to still be indoors.

I think I'm in some kind of bush.


No, it's not the end. I just talked to Sky tonight on the phone. The girl who I'd been attempting to speak to was Megan's friend. It was Megan's birthday party that night; hence the partying.

Megan is in New York City right now and she met up with Sky during a break in his insane work schedule. She had mentioned the incident.

It appears that the girl (whose name escapes me) had been sitting in the corner away from the rest of the party-goers looking rather aloof. She hadn't been socializing with anyone much. Apparently I had noticed this and had gone over to her. I had asked her a single question, but it had been enough to arouse considerable interest:

"Why are you trying to be someone you're not?"

I had been feeling bad all this time, trying to figure out what I had done to this random girl to anger her enough to make her yell at me. Honestly, I had been dreading finding out.

I was a little relieved when Sky explained it to me. And, also, a little proud.

I may have set that girl onto a road that will lead her to a better place in life. A road that will bring her to stronger relationships. A road of honesty; of understanding.

And I pray to every god that I can think of that I don't ever find myself on that same road, as I doubt she would even hesitate to run my inquisitive ass down like a one-legged opossum.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

"Good? Bad? I'm the guy with the blog."

The times they are a-becoming much different.

I've been browsing through the settings on my blog and have discovered some interesting options.

And some interesting, less optional features. The Blogger Nav-Bar is up now, whether I like it or not. Since I'm using a template designed by David, the Nav-bar is taking a little too much off the top of my blog, like a barber going through heroin withdrawal.

As soon as I figure out how to correct that problem, the Nav-bar will be a welcome addition. Now, anyone searching for incriminating information will be able to search just this site. Bless you, Google. Bringing down empires one link at at time.

But it beats the hell out of digging through the archives. Especially since I can't even get to my archive link right now.

Feed This!

I am now a feed-site. This is an option that allows people with cell-phones, palm pilots, Blackberries, and the plethora of other technological devices that I don't understand, to download my content without all the green. I think.

The link to the feed is off to the left, under my AIM name. Says "Gurg Feed Site." Pretty clever, eh?

Let me know if you figure out exactly how it works. I think it's powered by elves. The Keebler Elves, perhaps. Those sylvan bastards have been lying low for a while...

I Rarely Say This, But "Yargh!"

This morning at work, as I was happily browsing through Google News, I was informed that, starting immediately, we are no longer allowed to use the internet. Not even during our break periods.

When I regained consciousness, I pondered this development.

My midnight posts have become scarcer and scarcer as my body has been reverting to it's more primitive, day-walking state. I've been using my lunch hour and breaks to catch up on my reading and on my blogging.

It was a definite change of pace. I think the greatest impact has been that my posts have become more haphazard, as I have less time to figure out how to express an idea. This isn't entirely negative. Writing with a deadline is a whole different world. It has certainly helped my focus, which has been extremely lacking lately. I tried to convince my boss to give me Ritalin just in case I have Attention-Deficit Disorder. He laughed, but he'd probably take me more seriously if he had seen me diving into the large, blue, plastic recycling bin in which we throw all the envelopes.

Well, he wouldn't have seen me, really, just my wildly-kicking legs sticking out of the top as I searched for an envelope that shouldn't have been thrown away. (I hadn't thrown it away, I was getting it for a friend. She was too short to reach all the way inside. Come to think of it, so was I.)
What was I talking about? Right, no internet. At first I thought, "That means no blog, unless I want to start staying up late and sleeping in my car during my lunch breaks again."

But then something niggled in the back of my brain. Methinks had told me some months ago about being able to blog via e-mail.

I checked it out on my settings just now. All you have to do is type out whatever you want and then send it to a "secret" blogger e-mail address. It should appear on the blog. Should. I haven't tried it yet.

But this e-mail option is crucial to the plan that was forming out of the mist in my head like cigarette smoke curling into words.

My work, in it's infinite wisdom, has set up an inter-office e-mail system. We all have our own little e-mail addresses just for work.

Currently, there is no restriction on e-mailing as long as one is using the inter-office service. To the casual observer, that is exactly what I will appear to be doing. "No trouble here, suh, just writin' this ol' inter-office e-mail."

I'll be able to do the same restricted activity I was doing before without fear of reprimand.

This is why it pays to study philosophy. You learn to master the ancient art of the loophole.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Sunday Morning
10:30 am.
Mai's couch.

I awoke to the sound of knocking. I untangled myself from my awkward heap on the couch. I made a half-hearted attempt to smooth out my clothing in a vain effort to appear as if I hadn't spent night passed out on couch. It was to no avail.

I stumbled over to the door and opened it. I squinted at the flood of sunlight. Two men in black suits, dark sunglasses, and forgettable ties stood on the doorstep. One carried a small briefcase. "May I help you?" I rasped.

"Mr. Lopez? Am I speaking to Mr. Guillermo Lopez?" the one with the briefcase asked.

"What's left of me, yeah. But who are you guys?"

This time the man with the more forgettable tie spoke. "FBI. May we come inside?"

"FBI? But you don't look like FBI agents," I lied. (They did indeed look like FBI agents.)

"Mr. Lopez," said Briefcase. "I believe I understand your confusion. We are from the Federal Bureau of Intoxication. May we come inside?"

"Oh, right, that FBI. Huh, I thought that form I filled out was a joke. But uh, I don't think I can let you in. This isn't so much my house as it is someone else's house."

"I see," monotoned Briefcase. "Very well. We shall discuss this on our feet, then. Tell me, Mr. Lopez, are you carrying your drinking license?"

"Well, yeah," I blinked. "It's right here." I took the drinking license I had received in the mail 4-6 weeks after I had filled out the form. I held it out to Briefcase, but Tie took it instead.

Tie looked at it. "This is you?"

"Hey, lay off," I protested weakly. "I was sixteen when that picture was taken."

"This says "William."

"Oh, yeah, that. It's sort of a long-"

"And what's with the hair?" Tie asked, a raised eyebrow peeking out over his sunglasses.

I didn't answer.

"Mr. Lopez," Briefcase droned. "Due to numerous transgressions, we are hereby revoking your drinking license until such time as your case can be reviewed. As of this moment, you are no longer allowed to consume alcohol. It is the hope of the Bureau that this will prevent any more of these 'antics,' as you refer to them. It is vital that you no longer be allowed to disgrace drunks across this great nation."

I narrowed my eyes. "Sir, I don't have any idea of what you're talking about."

"Do you recall the events that transpired prior to your lay-over on the couch?" Tie asked.

"Certainly. I hung out at the party, we went to the bar, we came back, I said goodbye."

"Do you recall exactly how you said goodbye?"

"Sort of. I was already outside and I made some clever remark and then walked off to find my car."

Briefcase pursed his lips. "Close." He flipped open a pad of paper and read from it. "You stumbled out the door. Your 'clever remark' was actually a rather snide remark and instead of 'walking off' you fell into a nearby bush."

I blinked at him. He continued. "You floundered in the shrubbery for a bit before freeing yourself, whereupon you were lost from vision. You were discovered some time later in the parking lot, sprawled in your car, quite incoherent. The door was still open and you had thrown your keys underneath the front seat."

I opened my mouth to protest, but then closed it again. His account would explain the scratches. And the aching all over the right side of my body.

"Your friends were kind enough to bring you here."


"Thus, you are suspended indefinitely." I caught an evil glint from behind those sunglasses. Briefcase opened up his briefcase and dropped the pad of paper and my drinking license inside.

I hung my head and glowered.

"Will you be home on Tuesday?" asked Tie.

"Yes, around five. But I won't be there long; I'm going over to Jaclyn's."

"That window of time is acceptable. Expect another visit."

"I don't think I'm looking forward to seeing you guys again."

Tie laughed. "You will not be seeing us again very soon, Mr. Lopez."

"Then who's coming over on Tuesday?"

"Shakespearean Mis-Quotation Regulatory Services."

They turned crisply and strode away.

"Drat," I said to nobody as I slowly closed the door.