On One Hand

August 30, 2006

Closure

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 8:10 pm
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It’s a good idea to end articles and essays with something profound and snappy, so then, as a writer, you seem poetic and thoughtful. It’s allright if the ending has little to do with the content of the essay – floury endings rarely fit perfectly, but if the image is intense enough it doesn’t matter. Remember you’re hitting for the emotive section of the reader’s brain, not the rational eye. So from now on everything I write will conclude with the following line I came up with today while running to the gym:

“So she cut open those walls of twilight, to beyond them find a hundred new days waiting to be born.”

Observe how the line enhances everything it is added to. First, I spliced it on the following article published in the Campus Press on Tuesday, January 24, 2006 (Cut drastically for Length):

“Spring recruitment successful despite lower numbers” By Matt Pizzuti, Staff Writer

About 341 women received bids to join sororities at CU in the face of unideal circumstances Wednesday night in this year’s formal recruitment, said Membership Recruitment Coordinator Bailey Donovan.

Panhellenic President Katie Matthews, a senior integrative physiology major, said deferred recruitment has put sororities at a disadvantage, explaining, “we miss a full semester of getting membership dues.” She noted that the money lost can reach up to $30 thousand a year in some houses.

“Our numbers are lower now,” she said. “I still think fall recruitment is best for this campus. The sororities will try to go back to fall recruitment sometime.”

In spite of inconvenience, CU’s greek community is hopeful. Together they can cut open those walls of twilight, to beyond them find a hundred new days waiting to be born.

Along with news articles, the snappy closing line can add to a serious letter. Here’s a semi-formal email I wrote to my student newspaper’s editor this morning (without the addition), with the hypothetical closing sentence added to strengthen the message:

Stephanie, I was wondering if you were planning on making old articles written during Spring semester 2006 available on the current website in the CP archives. I was searching for my old articles with links I’d saved and found that the links no longer lead to anything on the new site. I’d also like to know if new articles written from this point forward will have permanent links that will be reliable for years to come. I think that all of us, as reporters, would like to see that happen since we can’t cut anything out of a physical paper to show for clips when the article is published only online – and if we can’t count on the articles surviving on the website we have no future evidence that our articles were even published. I’m hoping we can cut open those walls of twilight, to beyond them find a hundred new days waiting to be born. Thanks, Matt Pizzuti

The benefits multiply when the poetic verse is added to the most informal of letters, adding a sensitive and compassionate touch to messages that might otherwise come across as bitchy or unnecessary. Here is the line added to a note one of my roommates scribbled to the rest of us about the appearence of our house:

Hey, guys, right now the house looks like shit, especially the kitchen. Could we all try to find a time to get together and clean it up? Also, I paid the cable bill and need $18 from all of you ASAP. Lets cut open those walls of twilight, to beyond them find a hundred new days waiting to be born.

Last but not least, the line can stand alone in naked decontextualization to enhance notices for important transitions in a person’s life. That includes wedding invitations, obituaries, first communion announcements or baptisimal certificiats, to add a heartfelt touch to an otherwise plain and uninteresting schedule of events. For added significance the line can be attributed to one of the parties involved in important occasion.

An example, a generic fictional text of a remembrance card commonly handed out at funerals, with the special line added in to make the message not-so-generic in the end:

Lucille Allen
1937 – 2006
Loving mother, sister, grandmother and aunt,
schoolteacher and inspiration to many.

“She cut open those walls of twilight, to beyond them find a hundred new days waiting to be born”
– Lucille to a former student three weeks before her death

Clearly the line is a boon to any sort of writing. I encourage anyone reading this to come up with your own little signature prose and use it whenever necessary. I know I will – with the line I will cut open those walls of twilight, to beyond them find a hundred new days waiting to be born.

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August 28, 2006

On biceps appearing enlarged on shiny convex surfaces

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 10:43 pm
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Damn, might i mention I look really good reflected on this blank TV screen.

Come over baby
you know want to
come snuggle in my bed
we can
watch Charlie Rose
all night baby
oh yeah, that’s the spot
a middle-aged man
on a round table
(its round, right?)
with poets and philosophers
asking benign questions
at 12am
u like that?
I like that baby
lets do it
come over
for Charlie Rose
and we’ll put it on

August 23, 2006

Protected: I swear it’s not a soap opera

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 9:54 pm

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August 21, 2006

JonBenet

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 12:21 pm
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With my roommates I live in a rented house four blocks away from the house were JonBenet Ramsey was killed. Outside the Boulder Justice Center is a city of tents and news vans that resembles a local fair. The millions of media dollars being spent and earned on this event that happened over ten years ago, long before I lived in Boulder, is an eerie consideration. This news story is known around the world and its epicenter is literally down the street.

This spring I was in an upper-division undergraduate class called “Media and Public Opinion” with professor Michael Tracey, the journalism professor who is now all over the news because he had been emailing John Mark Karr for four years leading up to Karr’s recent publicity as a prime suspect in the JonBenet Ramsey case. The class was small and very intimate (less than 20 students), and focused largely on the Ramsey case, including information about our professor’s emails with Karr. Much of the information we studied then is now being publicized in an unfolding news story that takes up more than half of all broadcast time on cable network news. My understanding is that professor Tracey’s conversations with Karr are largely what led to Karr’s arrest, since the arrest and subsequent media frenzy occurred shortly after Tracey turned his emails over to local authorities.

I don’t claim any special knowledge about the case because I studied under Tracey for a semester, but I will tell you that I see incredible amount of irony in recent media events given what I do know about the case and Tracey’s involvement in it.

Tracey is a Media Studies professor, who basically researches the news and media to see how information found in mass media influences society. The Ramsey case was interesting to him because it is so widely known and spoken about, and everyone had an opinion about it even though very few had sufficient information to take a stand.

In the months following JonBenet’s murder, the media and public focused on the Ramseys as prime suspects of the murder case even though, in Tracey’s opinion, the evidence against the family was relatively weak. In the words of John Ramsey himself, of course the family should have been suspect, but in no way should they have been prime suspects. Common people mentioned how John Ramsey “looked like a pedophile” or how Patsy Ramsey “just seemed really guilty,” and cited these groundless facts as reasons they were sure of the family’s guilt. When new evidence arose that implied that JonBenet was killed by an intruder, newspapers and news channels bypassed the information as uninteresting, while any piece of evidence implicating the family was discussed publicly to the point of exhaustion. Everyone in the country seemed to know the family was guilty, while the facts about the case were not nearly so clear-cut. Tracey spoke of individuals he talked to who were so passionate about the case they were moved nearly to tears at the suggestion that the Ramseys were innocent.

The public’s interest in the case had a chilling effect on the Boulder Police Department, and according to Tracey, very suspicious individuals who should have been investigated were passed by because the police department was already focused on the Ramseys, feeling the public pressure to stay the course. The public’s opinion was so strong that political strings were pulled and a district attorney who was more neutral toward the Ramseys was forced to recuse himself from the case.

Tracey came across John Mark Karr as a matter of chance four years ago, and was in occasional email contact with him ever since. Tracey followed a number of individuals who had eerie infatuations with JonBenet and seemed far more implicable than the Ramseys were. I don’t think Tracey was intending to solve the case, but he did want to demonstrate that there were good leads that the Boulder Police Department failed to follow because they were so focused on the Ramseys.

Interestingly enough, now that Tracey’s emails have lead to a new arrest and a resurrection of the past media frenzy, the public mind is once again following an irrational and sensationalistic course, this time with Tracey himself near the center.

People have asked Tracey what he thinks about John Mark Karr. I think they should be asking him what he thinks about the fact that on Sunday, August 20, cable network news took 45 minutes to describe, ad nauseum, exactly what John Mark Karr ate on the plane on from Thailand to the United States, with details about “clinking champagne glasses” with a companion and “crushing a beer can with his bare hands.” America is once again drooling over minute details related to this case, and once again, people are forming deeply heartfelt opinions about Karr’s guilt or innocence. They claim to see into his mind, his motivations and his character with precious little information about him or his activities.

Now that news stations can clearly see how they messed the case up by focusing on the Ramsey’s in the 90’s, one might think they would take the lesson gracefully and refuse to make the same mistake with a new suspect. In one sense the news seems slightly more nuanced when referring to John Mark Karr’s possible involvement in the case, but stations are still, just as much as ever, focused on the end result. “John Benet Ramsey: A Murder Solved?” Is he innocent or guilty? “Is he capable of cold-blooded murder?” They’re jumping months ahead on that question, once again apparently failing to learn the lessons this unending case should have taught them.

It’s all very theatrical when it’s presented. A deep male voice, speaking with exaggerated intonation seeming to arise straight out of a murder mystery, narrates over bold black letters and the shadowed face of a pretty little girl killed ten years ago. The red letters beneath the main title are stamped across the screen in a font designed to resmble blotchy printing and evoking the image of blood. Smooth computer-animated graphics lunge across the screen to loud mystery music and then the broadcast jumps straight into vouyeristic details about the way the murder suspect looks when he smiles, painting a detailed picture of a character that would seem to better fit in a movie or crime scene investigative program. The news ticker says “John Mark Karr emailed CU Professor Michael Tracey for four years before his arrest. Karr ate fish and pate on the plane from Thailand.”

It’s not impossible for people to suspend judgment, or to base judgement only on relevant facts, but something about American culture or media creates a world in which people fail to do it. I think that in one sense our media’s insistence on Final Answers encourages people to form a tentative opinion right away rather than wait for events to unfold, and then that opinion strengthens into a firm conviction in a short time, before anyone can really know the truth. There might be something unique about the American character that rushes forward, unincumbered by doubt or skepticism. They did choose a president who is known for moving for conviction rather than reason. People take a stance and then, as a group, maintain that opinion as facts continue to filter out. And peoples’ opinions DO influence the media, probably even moreso than the media influences public opinion. News companies have ads to sell and ratings to gather and cannot afford to waste time releasing information that offends advertisers or puts viewers in an uncomfortable place. One such uncomfortable place is a suspension of judgment: if people don’t see the far-reaching answers right away, they change the channel and the other station’s ratings go up. The result is media that solve crimes themselves before the police ever get the chance to, and that is exactly what we see happening today.

August 7, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:31 am

This summer is the era of not following through. Guys are giving me their phone numbers without me even asking, but when I call they don’t pick up and don’t return. People are offering to start projects with me and then putting it off indefinitely. People are making plans and then disappearing.

What’s the solution? Keep flying through the numbers. I meet new people every day, so if only one in 20 actually turns out to be something, that’s still good odds.

This is karma for last summer, when I blew off more people than I can count. So I am not angry, or even frustrated. I am happy enough with myself since I’m gaining weight and looking good.

I gained 15-20 lbs since I started working out. Does it show? Sort of. When a girl says she loses 20 lbs, it’s always fucking obvious, because she looks like she’s 40% smaller. I gained 20 lbs and you can hardly tell, I guess because muscle is denser than fat and because I was so skinny to begin with. My old pants no longer fit because my thighs are a lot bigger, and most of my smaller t-shirts are really tight now. But I don’t see much difference, maybe because I look at myself every day and the change is gradual, maybe 1 1/2 pounds per week. My parents, on the other hand, are telling me I look bigger, and I’m getting a lot more tips at work.

At the rate things are going, I’ll be 160 by mid September, and that’s awesome. I’m about 153 right now, more than I’ve ever weighed in my life, and I’m just elated to be consistenly above 145 every time I weigh myself.

I met a guy the other day who is an insane combination of opposites. He’s around 6’3″, bearded and had long, curly black hair, with a middle-eastern appearence. He’s straight but pretty effeminate when he talks, and manic and giddy, never stopping for breath, so he’s a weird juxtaposition of extremely masculine and extremely feminine attributes. I thought he was fucking attractive, and I’ve never liked someone so randomly in a long time. It’s mostly his extremely genuine and considerate personality that got me, but he’s also intelligent and very good looking. The thing about him I wanted to know was how he gets in shape: he’s he’s extremely muscular, 200lbs and not an ounce of fat on his body, but told me he doesn’t work out at all – he just eats 18 eggs a day, plus stays active because he doesn’t stop moving. So I started eating fucking eggs. I can eat 4 at a time but anything more makes me sort of sick. I got these questions in while he was hugging me and lifting me over his head, which I suppose is what you can naturally expect when a 200 pound guy has a serious case of ADHD. So I’ll put ADHD on my agenda and maybe I’ll gain a few more pounds, as long as I eat enough.

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