11th Hour, 11th Day, 11th Month

On this day, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, in A.D. 1918, ended what is possibly the most catastrophic event in human history. The Great War, as those involved called it, or the First World War, involved some of the most brutal fighting mankind has yet engaged in.

The word “tragedy” is overused in describing public events, but the Great War certainly fits, because most of those involvedĀ  were scarred, emotionally if not physically, or killed through no real fault of their own. Most of the combatants were drafted, and while most of the major wars in modern history have at least some pretext, the Great War was astoundingly unnecessary and wasteful.

Though the number of living veterans is now small, the impact of the war remains. Even the war’s political ramifications – great as they are – gradually dissipate. What, then, is the Great War’s relevance to the modern world? I can think of two reasons why the war is still relevant.

First, as one of history’s best reminders that the government is not your friend.

Second, its impact on art and literature. Very few writers of the early twentieth century were unaffected by the Great War, and its impact can be felt in most major works from the years following the war. Some of the greatest poets of their generation were themselves veterans, such as Siegfried Sassoon. Others were killed in the fighting, such as Wilfred Owen. No doubt other great men died who never had any chance to develop and share their talents, whether in poetry or another field, and that is possibly the greatest tragedy of the war.…

Read More 11th Hour, 11th Day, 11th Month

‘Tis Better to be Brief

One thing that I’ve learned in the last year is the power of brevity.

Now, I’ve known this, to some extent, ever since I read The Elements of Style back when I first got interested in writing in middle school, but it wasn’t until relatively recently that I realized just how condensed a written work can be. I refer you to Ezra Pound’s famous “In a Station of the Metro.”

Here’s a poem that consists only of two lines and a title. Not only that, but the two lines aren’t even a proper sentence – there’s no predicate. One can say, literally, that nothing happens in this poem. Personally, I was somewhat puzzled by this poem when I first encountered it, and remained so until last year when I had to write an essay on a work of my choice, and chose this poem.

That nothing happens is almost certainly intentional. This is an example of imagist poetry, which, as one might guess, emphasizes the importance of imagery in a poem over high-sounding, elaborate language and flowery description. “Metro” is an extreme example, but that Pound is able to convey any idea at all in a single image is remarkable.

So, what is that idea? My guess is that the poem is an ironic statement on the hectic environment of a metro station. Go to a big-city subway, and see how many people come and go. Quite frenetic, right? Yet, not only does this poem not really describe the action, but as stated above literally nothing happens. There is also a contrast between the people in the crowd and the man-made setting against the natural images used to describe them. The irony is great, and the poem ends up much more powerful and memorable than if Pound had taken the more traditional route and described the metro in longer, more elaborate verse.…

Read More ‘Tis Better to be Brief

Into the Unlearned, Uncharted

As I’ve said elsewhere, lots of people have blogs. Most of them are inactive, doing little more than taking up space on the internet. Honestly, mine has been one of those for the last nine months or so.

Up until now, this has been a blog in search of a topic. The main problem for me has been that there is little that I have to share that would be worth sharing. After all, I don’t care for personal blogs, so that idea is out. As for politics or literature or some other such topic, there are several people who know more than I, so there’s no reason for me to add what would mostly be noise to the noise/signal ratio. I am still learning about all these things.

That, then, is where I have my idea for what this blog will henceforth be about – intellectual growth. Rather than telling the world what I think, I will merely share what I’ve been learning. Hopefully others find it interesting. If not, this will at least be something for me to look back on. I’ve learned a lot in the last year about history, literature, religion… surely others can relate, and perhaps share their experiences.

I will find out.…

Read More Into the Unlearned, Uncharted

The Art of the Obvious

Today, here’s a little original poem inspired by a real classmate of mine. You’ve probably met someone similar in any discussion-heavy classes you’ve taken.

The Art of the Obvious

There’s an art to stating the obvious.
You’ve got to make it long;
You’ve got to make the point.
You’ve got to do it often;
You’ve got to time it right.
You’ve got to give proper credit;
You’ve got to take what’s yours.
You’ve got to know the fact;
You’ve got to know it don’t matter.
You’ve got to keep it relevant;
You’ve got to roam around.
You’ve got to sit up front;
You’ve got to know your place.
You’ve got to make sure the world notices.…

Read More The Art of the Obvious

On the Flipside

You know something that should really be banned? Dual-sided DVDs.

Seriously, I can never tell which side is which. There’s usualy a label on one side saying something like “Widescreen” or “Side A.” What really makes these things so bush league is that there’s usually no way of telling whether the widescreen version is the side with the label, or the reverse, since that’s the side that’ll be read by the DVD player. Even worse, I encountered one disc today that had the label “Fullscreen” followed, on the same label, with “Widescreen (flipside).”

“Hey, thanks,” I thought when I saw that. So, I put the “flipside” face-down, and found that the label lied to me.

Actually, this problem could be mostly solved if we could get a ban of fullscreen edition movies. Why would anyone prefer that to widescreen? Do there exist people who like to have the edges of the screen lopped off to fit standard television screen ratio? Get it together, people.…

Read More On the Flipside

Summer’s End

Ladies and gentlemen, my eyes have lost the glimmer of youth.

For me, the betrayal of my childhood has been a slow process, one that began in high school when I took a part-time job. Income leads to money, which leads to responsibility like paying for one’s own entertainment, in addition to gas money.

The second event that led to the end of my childhood was college. Now, that’s an external force, not treason, and in any case is only dangerous in combination with other forces. In my case, getting to school requires a car, which in turn requires I keep that part-time job. Between school and work, I no longer have any hobbies. That’s what it feels like, anyway.
So, the only time left for being childlike (or childish) for extended periods is summer vacation, and that is where the final blow has been struck by a summer class.

Now, summer is supposed to be a time for doing nothing, but instead I’m taking exams, reading textbooks, and, as mentioned previously, writing critiques. My summer is a season of drudgery!

Man, that post was depressing. I’m sorry for being so out-of-character. Here, have a Jill sandwich (NSFW) to cheer you up.…

Read More Summer’s End

On Critiquing Live Music

So, right now I’m trying to write a critique of a live concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for a class I’m taking.

The problem is, all I can really say about it is that I enjoyed it, though it suffered from some problems to be expected from an outdoor concert. Somewhat unclear sound, sirens from a passing fire engine, and some other miscellaneous distractions. However, I made the critical mistake of not taking notes at the concert. Even driving home from the event, I could scarecly have said much about the early pieces performed (out of seven or so total). Since I got home a bit late and had to wake up early the next morning, I made another mistake in not writing anything down before going to bed.

Lesson learned for the next assignment, though.…

Read More On Critiquing Live Music

How to Claim a Landmark Post

A while back, I wrote this little article on how to claim a landmark post in a message board. It was intended for users of the Megatokyo forums, “Story Discussions” in particular, but since it can apply to most other boards and it was located in a somewhat obscure place, I’m moving it here, with a few minor changes.

Corrections and suggestions are welcome.


{Cue obnoxious tutorial mode music}

A common ritual on the Megatokyo Forums, and many other boards, for that matter, is owning landmark posts. This simply means that a particular person has the honor of having, for example, a forum’s thousandth post, an individual’s 500th post, or something else of that nature. This page is concerned with the second example, and there are three methods by which one may “claim” a post:

First, a person receives ownership if he is quoted in the landmark. For example, if MajorGeneral quotes Todd P. in his 500th post, Todd receives that post. If Major also quotes Pokeball, then both Pokeball and Todd receive partial ownership. This is the oldest and most widely accepted method of receiving ownership of a post.

Second, a person may give his landmark to someone as a gift. For example, if WyndyDay reaches her 500th post she has the option of giving it to a particular person or putting it up for grabs. The first simply involves saying either within or shortly after the landmark that it’s given to a particular person, perhaps a friend or as an exchange for a favor. By the second option, whoever asks for the landmark first receives ownership. If two people claim it, the person who posted first receives it, unless he decides to be nice and let the second person have it. Disputes are settled by the poster of the landmark. This method is newer and less accepted than the first, and should generally be used only if nobody is quoted in the landmark, or if the person who is quoted doesn’t care about such things.

Third, a landmark may be given to someone in advance of its posting. If Palad1n notices that he is approaching post number 500, he may offer it to whomever he wishes. This is the newest and least accepted method, and takes some of the fun out of it. Do this, and _Ocelot will hunt you like a wumpus, so don’t do it, foo’.

Finally, what constitutes a landmark post? A few things:

First, posts that are multiples of 100. Special value is given to posts that are multiples of 500 and 1,000. As one would expect, higher numbered posts are the most valued.

Second, posts that have numbers in some way considered cool. For example, posts allowing a change in title, post number 12,345, or 1337, etc. This isn’t an exact science, though – any number could be considered a landmark for almost any reason, but it’s best to be conservative.

Third, multiples of smaller numbers. In a small forum, or if a person is not prolific, one may consider a multiple of 50 or even 25 a landmark. Again, be conservative about this – past post 200 or so, it’s best to stop considering these multiples to be landmarks.


Note: This information is based primarily on personal observation, but also with comments from Izuko and SpyderGreywolf over at MT.…

Read More How to Claim a Landmark Post

Rock Site Reviews – Genesis

In the tradition of blog reviews of random things, this post introduces a new feature here at O.K.! – Rock Site Reviews. What I’ll do is, with each installment, write a review of the official website of some rock band. Given the wide range of styles, and even wider range of quality, of different official websites, I figured this could provide minutes of fun.

Since I cannot comprehend passing up the wordplay, we will begin at the beginning, which is Genesis, whose official site is genesis-music.com. Just <genesis.com> was taken by some computer company, apparently.

Anyway, as soon as you load the page some links come up, a television falls from the sky, a moon floats around the top-left corner, and some deformed dude runs across the screen. If that’s not enough to grab your attention, the letters in the name “Genesis” change font as the mouse hovers over them. It’s a subtle touch, but I spent about ten minutes playing with the letters before I finally clicked something.

Let’s start with the News section. Now, websites devoted to older bands often struggle to maintain a news section, since many don’t even tour, and you can forget about albums. Luckily, Genesis seems to still do the occasional tour, including one that started last year. Genesis-music seems to update with some regularity, and was even nice enough to link to a fansite’s contest. In a further show of generosity, they also link to several tribute bands. Another nice touch is the articles and reviews about the band all the way from the early 1970’s on. It’s definitely nice to have such things available, but unfortunately they’re organized like the news – that is, most recently posted on top. The database is searchable, but why they aren’t organized by topic instead of date is puzzling. There’s also a Press section, which seems to be just like the News but more formal and not updated as often.

Browsing along the convenient navigation bar atop the screen, just under the stylish banner, we progress to Contests, which just takes us to a relevant post in the News section to a contest that ended last year. Okay, whatever.

Skipping Community for a moment, let’s check out the the most critical part of any band’s website – Discography – and what an elaborate Discography it is! Not only do they have the release information, tracklisting, and lyrics for all of Genesis’s albums, they have such information for each member’s solo material. Way to go above and beyond the call of duty, and I must applaud them including lyrics. They’re such an obvious thing to have, but as we’ll see over and over later in this series, many sites don’t even do that. Alas, all is not perfect. Each song tantalizingly displays a drop-down menu offering “Lyrics,” “Description,” “Artist’s Comments,” and “Personnel,” but lyrics is the only one with any content. Allow me to state the obvious, “What is the point of having these sections if there’s nothing in them?” Maybe they’re planned, but I couldn’t find any songs with any description or comments. Oh, well.

Moving on, the Multimedia section has some videos, as well as some photos and images of their album covers.

Where genesis-music really shines, though, is in the FAQ section. Now, most of this stuff is fairly straightforward answers to common questions, but it’s very convenient to have. Impressively, though, they also field more potentially awkward questions like “Is there animosity between Steve Hackett and other members of the band? Is that why he left?” Amazingly, in the Genesis General FAQ section, they actually answer the inquiry

How do I find out what bootleg CDs / DVDs / VCDs / VHS are available and how do I get hold of them?

(emphasis mine)

Now, here you’d expect the basic RIAA line about how bootlegs are illegal so don’t do anything with them. Instead, genesis-music links to an online guide to Genesis bootlegs, and then continues

As for how to get hold of the recordings: start by joining the Yahoo Group “Genesis Trades” […]

Otherwise, try asking in the “Boot Info and Exchange” forum! More often than not, someone will be only too happy to help you out, or explain to you how to get started in trading.

Only one rule – Don’t buy or sell (that includes eBay.) Anything that you may have seen for sale on eBay, at record fairs, or elsewhere is available for free through trading or weeding. It should also be remembered that the versions circulating amongst collectors are always superior to those being sold, often with better sound, extra tracks, lovingly created artwork and so on. Don’t waste your money!

All I can say is, wow, and wow again. o_0

Not all is well, though. Returning to the Community tab, we’re greeted with a list of most recent topics in their message board, some statistics for the same, and a poll. To view the boards, however, you have to register.


First of all, I don’t want to. Secondly, how do I know if I want to join if I can’t see what I’m getting? Playing along for a moment, though, the “Join Now” button tells me all the things I can do as a member, which do look pretty good, except for one thing – a “Premium Membership” costs $35.


Does anyone do that?…

Read More Rock Site Reviews – Genesis