Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Ok, someone needs to help me figure this out, because I swear that I’m not a math nerd.

It’s physically impossible—I haven’t even taken a math class in almost seven years: I was always proficient, but it’s not like I really got math. When I had to take the compass test at UVU, I couldn’t for the love of Dr Pepper remember the slope formula.

In fact, anytime I want to put myself into a there-is-no-spoon existentialist dilemma, all I have to do is think about the 360 degrees in a circle and wonder why the hell some Greek guy came to that conclusion and somehow brainwashed humanity into thinking it was a truth (360? Could there be a more random number?).

I have a delightful sense of humor, I listen to rock n roll, in many cases I believe that the form of something is infinitely superior to any function. I’m able to carry on interesting conversations with others. All of this points to the conclusion that I am nothing akin to a math nerd.

I should be more comforted by this, but there’s unfortunately some more information that I haven’t disclosed that might leave you less than persuaded of my innocence.

Like the fact that when I was counting up my spare pennies to turn them into larger coins for soda consumption, I did things that no self-respecting non-math-nerd would do. 

First, I sorted them into piles according to the decade they were minted. I then recorded the number of pennies in each respective pile. Before I even added them all up for my grand total, I first found the percentage increase of pennies per decade (i.e. there is a 600% increase of pennies minted in the seventies compared to those minted in the sixties, but only a 50% increase from those minted in the eighties compared to the seventies). It was only after I had crunched the available data in every conceivable form that I got around to finding my grand total of pennies and turning that total into soda purchased.

Do you understand the significance of that? I was more intrigued by the stats than I was in replenishing my soda supply! I’m gravely concerned.

Do not, I repeat DO NOT ever bite down on a big chunk of peanut brittle with your front teeth. They just weren’t built for that kind of abuse.

In my down time at work I was reading someone’s reflection on Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” (my favorite of her novels) and my eyes started to well up. 

I was alarmed, thinking a) I cannot start crying at work, that's both awkward and unseemly. Plus I work with women who would probably try to, I don't know, talk it out with me or something. And that is not the Shurtz women way. b) this is very disconcerting, I feel like I'm having an out-of body experience, because I don't feel particularly sad for Anne and Captain Wentworth's plight right now. Am I that out of touch with myself that my physiological responses are this drastically out of sync with where my mind is?  

Then I realized that the welling of the eyes was due to the fact that I needed to sneeze. Emotional crisis averted.

Friday, December 18, 2009

When Doves Cry

Rick Springfield is such a sex god. He successfully rhymed "cute" with "moot." He could wine and dine me anytime.

Ok, so I started this blog to rant about music, but then I ran out of steam about three sentences in.

Suffice it to say, I believe that people who think that my love and appreciation for artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Nirvana is a demonstration of my degenerate nature and hints at hidden desires to die of an overdose or drown in my own vomit are horrendously off base.

I believe in knowing the history of the music I claim to be a fan of, I think it’s important to know what statements artists were making in the cultural context of their times, and I’m not na├»ve enough to think that their lifestyle had no effect on their creations. However, just because I know all these details of their personal life, I don’t consider that a reason to either a) stop listening to their music or b) follow their example and shoot up. I would think that all of these tragic early deaths in the music industry would serve as deterrent enough.

What it comes down to is that I don’t consider rock artists to be different from masters of any other art form—they are people, messed up more often than not, who have an ability to create something that transcends their own small context as an individual: what they create speaks to people that the artist has never met, have little in common with, and who in the end will be alive much longer than they will.

Despite my scholarly desire to meet any of the great artists of the past, when you get right down to how I spend my life and my priorities other than art, I doubt I would have much to do with Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Mozart, Poe, Dali, Beethoven, David, Dickinson, or Rossetti.

Except Edna St. Vincent Millay. I bet we’d be buddies until she started hitting on me.

But that’s besides the point.

All of these past masters have histories of mental instability, difficulty in and with society, immoral behavior, and other eccentricities—if eccentricities isn’t too mild a word. And they certainly aren’t the only people in the world to have such messed up lives. But, each one of them possessed a gift of creation. Instead of condemning those creations to obscurity as a statement that I disapproved of their personal choices, why wouldn’t I treasure them as a sign that even in a dark and troubled mind there is still a spark, a glimmer of genius, a way for someone to rise above what would be a life of insignificance and despair and still say something. This presence of creation in such a hostile environment should be celebrated, not looked upon disapprovingly.

So when I’m wearing my tattered Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze t-shirt, I don’t think it is beyond the potential of my peers (and more significantly my parents) to believe that I am not peddling a lifestyle of crack and promiscuity. I’m honoring the fact that Jimi combined rock n roll guitar with blues to create a sound that is both stirring and profound, soulful and adrenaline-pumping. I’m wearing it to say I'm glad that he lived until 27 so that his works could influence the works of other serious musicians for generations. Also, it’s a colorful and aesthetically pleasing graphic, why wouldn’t I wear it?

Hey, look, I didn’t run out of steam after all! How fortuitous for all of you, you didn’t miss out on being lectured and sneered at. By the way, Poison is just one of the best things that ever happened to the 80’s. Anyone who can sing the lyric “look what the cat dragged in” and follow it with a feline yowl is just golden in my book.

Also, my first real exposure to the season this year was from the proprietor of Osakas who last week handed me my take-out order and in her warbly old voice and broken English startled me right out of my bad mood with a sincere, simple, and painfully enunciated "Merry Christmas." It was beautiful.