Rambling, eclectic reflections


in Daily updates, Music, Oxford

Blackwell's poster shop

Today, I did quite a lot of reading, sorted new music, and – in listening to older music – had my love for Tori Amos re-emphasized. If there is a greater musician alive, I haven’t heard them. The raw, impossibly emotive content of Tori Amos songs is enough to induce an adoration that quite transcends the rational. It’s little surprise that her live shows are a kind of super-sensory dream; something I described three years ago as watching a “semi-divine creature pound… her piano keys into us.” I really must acquire her Beekeeper album.

I remember first listening to Tori on the CD that Jenny made for me, back in high school: when Napster was young and my musical experience was confined to the boundaries of Edgefest concerts. One night, about seven years ago, I remember riding the bus to Victoria and missing one sailing of the ferry. During that two hour wait, I recall reading the issue of The Economist about Ariel Sharon’s election and listening to the overpowering live version of “Precious Things.” I remember the particular amber hue of the reading lamps on those Pacific Coach Lines buses, the lingering smell of cigarette smoke, presumably from when such activities were permitted onboard. I remember listening to “Silent all these Years” and “Crucify” while walking through rainy London streets, five years ago. I remember the way the brick wall across from the room where I was staying began to streak, as the afternoon rain ran down it, and how my collection of miscellaneous pamphlets on London attractions grew and reproduced in all the corners of the small room.

Oxford is getting cold. Sweaters, those awkward scratchy things I would never wear in Vancouver, are emerging from bottom drawers and into the normal rotation of worn clothing. I suppose having one wall composed entirely of windows (looking into the panopticon), and only an odd, gurgling radiator for heating contributes to these matters. Walking to the SSL at five-thirty tonight, clad in jacket, down vest, and gloves, there was a chilling sharpness reminiscent of cross country skiing, though without the warmth that comes with that activity’s exertion. Darkness before 6:00pm is normal enough, but real cold at such a time is novel. I shall consider it training for Tallinn. In the end, I far prefer cold to excessive heat – it is much more easily remedied. Exothermic bodies can be insulated and energized much more easily than their thermal capacity can be dissipated. Something similar explains my over-riding preference for shade over sunlight.

As I have meant to explain before, one of the things I like most about the M.Phil in International Relations program is how cooperative it is. There is a real sense that it is the 28 of us against the program, working together in a way that is both unfamiliar and quite valuable. Part of that may derive from how, aside from the sometimes quite arbitrary-seeming marking of the statistics assignments, we are not being numerically assessed on anything. That helps create a culture where notes and ideas are shared, essays are mutually read, and discussions serve to advance everybody’s understanding. It’s obvious that all of us will end up in circumstances where collaboration is essential, so it only makes sense to begin now.

At various times in the past few days, I’ve wandered through the random blogs provided by the ‘Next Blog‘ function on the Blogger toolbar. This was prompted partly by the fact that so many people seem to find my blog by this route. Also, I wanted to get a better sense of the overall content of this ‘blogosphere’ that some media outlets seem to champion, while others deride. Having now wandered through a lot of random sites, I am falling in more closely with those who are critical. Not to hold myself up as a paragon of fairness, but there are a lot of blatantly partisan or incorrect blogs out there. When one sticks to the clusters of one’s friends (of the skillful bunch that are the Oxford bloggers) one doesn’t realize how much vitriol and misinformation can be found out there. These blogs may not reach the level of crazy achieved by the masterful Time Cube1 but, well, caveat lector.


PS. I’ve been listening to a lot of The Smiths today, since I gained access to it over shared iTunes folders on the Wadham network. While it ranges between reasonably good and quite good, it is all very similar. It goes better when interspersed with something a bit more energetic.

[1] Quite possibly the high water mark of internet-crazy, which is saying rather a lot. This site is definitely worth a look if you haven’t yet seen it. Feel free, also, to nominate challengers for the title of most insane, strange, or paranoid website via comments.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous November 13, 2005 at 11:18 pm

The home page of the real, living Peter Pan scores highly for ‘strange.’

Blue Plastic Straw November 14, 2005 at 1:18 am

I’m fairly certain that I acquired this from you, but Dinosaurs in the Bible is a good source of hilarious/discomforting (depending on if you take it as satire or real) weirdness

Anonymous November 14, 2005 at 2:42 am

“What’s so amazing about really deep thoughts?”

Lauren VP November 14, 2005 at 3:08 am

peter pan is awesome but my favourite is http://www.tedjesuschristgod.com

Ben November 14, 2005 at 8:51 am

Yeah, it’s pretty cold now. Must dig out the old college fleece…

I think graduates are supposed to learn as much from each other as their professors. Whether thinking of yourselves working ‘against the system/department’ is healthy or not, it does encourage solidarity – and is an almost natural reaction to their levels of bureaucratic competence…

Anonymous November 14, 2005 at 10:07 am

“What’s so amazing about really deep thoughts?”

“Boy, you’d best pray that I bleed real soon. How’s that thought for you?”


B November 14, 2005 at 2:16 pm

Surely homeone there has a copy of The Beekeeper that you can borrow for a few minutes. Failing that, surely someone can convey the mp3s in your direction?

I don’t have the album, so I cannot, but someone else should step up to the plate.

Anonymous November 14, 2005 at 6:21 pm

For those who haven’t been keeping track, here is a timeline of the whole Sony digital rights management (DRM) debacle.

Nick November 14, 2005 at 8:24 pm

I agree sweaters are itchy and awful. Just be thankful you’re in Oxford. Norway is significantly colder this time of year, not to mention dark by 4:30pm!

jo_jo November 14, 2005 at 8:35 pm

whoah. That cube thing is gonna give me nightmares.

Anonymous November 14, 2005 at 8:41 pm

Glad you’re enjoying the Moz, at least a little bit.

-A salad-eating Smiths listener

Milan November 14, 2005 at 8:43 pm

Ms. Beta,

It was your endorsement that led to my seeking them out to begin with.

Gene Ray November 14, 2005 at 8:47 pm

My name is Gene Ray. Not
even a god can deny that I
have squared the circle of a
static Earth and cubed the
Earth sphere by rotating it
once to a dynamic Time or
Life Cube. Only a false god
or academically brainwashed
indoctrinated mindless moron
would deny that the Earth
lacks the top and bottom, the
front and back, and 2-sides
physical dimensions of a Cube
that spirals a 4-season quad
helix around the Sun – creating
a swirling of 4 simultaneous
years as in a separately created
year for each of 4 seasons.

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