The Hollow Men

:::this is the way the world ends:::

Author: J.E. (page 2 of 6)


A Brief History of Violence

Thanks Ned for posting the Story of Stuff. I think that it is largely preaching to the choir (with emphasis on “preach”) on this blog but still it is good to know that there are people out there fighting the good fight. I’ve been thinking about these issues over the last few days. I hope to post a more robust response later this week.

So since I took twenty minutes of my time I ask you to take twenty minutes of your time to review this TED talk on A Brief History of Violence by Harvard linguist, Steven Pinker. Shotts if you are looking for an “popularized” science book, you can’t go wrong with anything by Pinker though I have only read The Language Instinct.

Anyway, this is sort of an evidenced based “feel good” story about how the chances of human being killed by another human have consistently dropped throughout history. Pinker talks about why we may believe that the opposite is true and what we may have done right in the last 400 years or so to make this possible. Please take time to view this. I think it’s really important.


Books of 2007

For reasons known to all of you, 2007 was a year in which I read very few books (though I shouldn’t feel too bad as I’m sure I read about 1000% more the national average.) Anyway here’s my rundown.

The View From the Center of the Universe by Joel Primack and Nancy Abrams may be the most influential book I’ve read since The Moral Animal. This book takes the popular understanding of the “scientific worldview” and turns it on its head by rescuing our cosmology from the meaningless void. As with most science and philosophy texts it takes a lot of work to get through but I highly recommend it. You should expect several bog entries in 2008 referring to View from the Center.

Martin Amis’s, Time’s Arrow tells the story of a man’s life backwards. It’s an old device but very effective. If found that after I had been reading it for a while and had to put it down and perform some task I had to “set” my brain back to “forwards.”

I as I think I’ve mentioned before, I highly recommend Susanna Clark’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell — a novel about English magic during and after the Napoleonic Wars. It’s a fantasy novel that reads like Jane Austen.

Oh yeah, I think I read something about Harry Potter and some stolen horses or something or other.

Music of 2007

Since I live the self proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World” it is only right that my musical tastes have been largely influenced by what I’ve seen in concert. I’ve included YouTube links if you want to see concert footage of what I saw. It’s not my video but there’s always some fan with a video phone these days.

One of the best albums and concerts of the year was Explosions in the Sky, “All of the Sudden I Miss Everyone.” This was the first rock concert (or post rock) that I’ve been to where I actually wanted it to be louder – just to see what would happen. Would my brain explode? Would me liver liquefy? Perhaps I wanted it louder because there are no distracting lyrics just music. Explosions in the Sky is music that builds you up – like getting a hug from the Iron Giant.

Seeing Bjork was amazing of course and she had a great new album this year too. As always, thrilling to the core.

M. I. A. was the discovery of the year for me. She is the complete artist: music, set design and costume design. I’ve always been a sucker for artists who do everything themselves. Somehow she is able to take on the hip hop megalomaniac persona but also make you feel like stands for something besides herself if not through her lyrics then through the whole of her artistry.

My guilty pleasure of the year is Interpol. There new album “Our Love to Admire” doesn’t really cover any new ground but I’ve enjoyed nonetheless. They clearly stand for nothing but they’re just so damn cool. Impossibly cool. You really have to see it to believe it.

Another great find was LCD Soundsystem and their album “Sound of Silver.” From the bravado of “North American Scum” to the more introspective “All My Friends” they are the sort of band you get stuck in you head for days and you don’t mind a bit.

That’s all for now. I’ll get to the rest of my year of media after I get the rest of this crown molding up….

I’m Thankful

I’m at home now prepping sweet potatoes and mustard greens (not together) for our Thanksgiving in Temple (an hour north of Austin). This wiil be perhaps a less joyous occasion than it has been in years past as Liz’s uncle Glen just passed away on Tuesday of heart failure. Nonetheless we will be thankful for the time we had with Glen and the remaining time we have with each other. We will express this thanks by drinking heavily and eating to excess.

And thank you all for a great year of blogging, debate and related shenanigans. I am thankful that we have this forum where my friends can continue you to influence my life even though I’m lucky to see some of you but once a year.

I am also thankful for (among many others):
Toby’s willingness to share the wealth of his musical taste,
Ned’s emotional honesty,
Peters’ repaired computer,
Shott’s commitment to reading hours of Harry Potter for the sake of debate.

And at the risk of stoking the fires of Ned’s unquenchable wrath against music videos I offer this:

Thanks to Graywolf

If you have not read Out Stealing Horses I strongly urge you to pick it up. You have already purchased it right?

I have always enjoyed Scandinavian literature. Many Scandinavian authors share a preoccupation with the formation of the self in the early years of life — a preoccupation we Hollow Men seem to share as well.

Wish I had more intelligent things to say right now but it’s just to late for that. Suffice to say, thank you Graywolf Press for publishing this fine translation and thank you to Shotts for being such insistent champion of it. Though it is too early to tell, I suspect Out Stealing Horses will have a strong presence in my literary consciousness for many years to come.

M. I. A.

More on globalism and pop music:

Liz and I went to the Hogg Auditorium here at UT last night to see M. I. A. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we saw M. I. A. at Austin City Limits festival as well but we didn’t get to see the entire set. I so glad we went back to see her even if we were some of the oldest people in the room. Let me know what you think. I’ll post some tracks if anyone is interested.

This my not be jazz or classical but it’s a helluva lot better than Britney Spears.

“Bird Flu” lyrics

“Boyz” lyrics

Jerod’s True Identity

We’ve all been led to believe that Jerod has become a priest. I have photographic evidence that suggests this may not be true. He is in fact touring with Crowded House, playing key boards and singing backup. That toupee isn’t fooling anyone Jerod.


The Hollow Simpsons

Please forgive me — I had some time to kill in Tucson. I’m not all together happy with these but there are limited options.  (Ned looks too mean, Shotts looks too relaxed and Toby doesn’t look devious enough.)  If you are unhappy with your Simpsons avatar then I suggest you make your own.

Hollow Simpsons

Potter 1-6 Spoiler Alert!

I forbid any discussion on the cultural significance of the Potter phenomenon.  If you want to discuss that, start another post.

Okay any last minute predictions?

Here are my odds:

Chance that Harry will die: 60%

Chance that Voldemort will not die:  20%

Chance that Snape will die: 90%

Chance that Snape is evil: 10%

Chance that Ron will die: 10%

Chance that Hermione will die: 10%

Chance that Neville will die:  40%

Chance that Wormtail assists Harry: 90%

Chance that Sirius communicates with Harry: 100%

I’ll try to provide support for these odds as I have time today.  In the meantime, do we all agree that Snape is good?  Why?

My Head Sounds Like That

So I owe you many YouTube Fridays. I know.

Here is one I’ve been saving up for a while. As I’ve been running around for the last month trying to remember everything I’ve forgotten I’ve often thought of this film. “Copy Shop” was shot and edited on standard 35mm but then each frame was individually photocopied and then reshot frame by frame. Hypercool.

I present to you “Copy Shop” parts one and two.

Protected: manythingsallatonce

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Hot Damn We’re Moving to Austin!

Liz and I closed on our new house over the noon hour today. We’re pretty pleased to be 15 minutes from work in living in Austin again. We’ll be moving in in a couple of weeks.

Now if we can just sell our house in Elgin….

Here is a photo of the front.


That’s right — I can skip stones in my back yard.


YouTube Friday — Freestyle Jet Ski

Ned, I expect you to have a better trick than “turning it turtle” this year.

YouTube Friday — Wayne Coyne and the Flaming Lips

Shotts once said that the Flaming Lips, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” was a “life saver.”

If you are not a Flaming Lips fan I hope that after you watch the first video of “Do You Realize” that you will become one and then watch Wanyne’s commencement address (parts one and two) at Classen High in Oklahoma City, his home town where he and his family still live.

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