Monday, January 29, 2007

Minty Breath

I discovered the following on my laptop today. I don't actually remember writing this, but I'm pretty sure that I am the author, as it incorporates the four main themes of my life: Bob Dylan, blueberries, renaming myself, and Wikipedia en español. I kinda like it, so I decided to post it here. The full title, unfortunately, did not fit in the Blogger title field. Instead, the title appears immediately below.

A Group Of Words Which Might Resemble A Bubble Released Into Water By The Exhalation Of A Diver With Minty Breath: Less Substantial Than That Which Surrounds It, But With A Slightly Different Scent

Whenever I meet a prospective student on grounds, which, fortunately for the University, does not occur often, I tell them not only to not attend UVa, but not to go to college at all. When met with questioning looks, I explain that I plan to drop out as soon as possible and get to work on fulfilling my great goal in life: becoming Bob Dylan.

After many years of thought, I have developed and patented the three-step plan to become Bob Dylan:

  1. Learn to play guitar (and harmonica)
  2. Sing
  3. Change your Jewish last name to something that sounds cool

The last step is clearly the most difficult. If I had to change my first name, I would adopt the name José faster than a small rodent would flee from a hungry owl. But change of this name segment is not part of the plan. Deviance from the plan will not be tolerated. Apparently, Dylan named himself after one of his favorite poets, Dylan Thomas. Or, as Spanish wikipedia puts it, "Es en este momento en el que cambia su nombre por el de Bob Dylan, para lo que, según algunos, se inspiró en el poeta Dylan Thomas, aunque el propio Bob Dylan siempre ha negado este particular." I would follow this path in rechristening myself, but, I'm not gonna lie, I don't really read much poetry. Now some of you might have a problem with this last sentence. Wasn't Dylan famed for his poetical lyrics? How can someone with that type of attitude towards poetry become Bob Dylan? But you are focusing on the wrong part of that sentence above. Wasn't Dylan also famed for the honesty of his lyrics? Maybe not, but you can at least pretend so until you finish reading this something. When viewed in light of the fact that you are currently pretending to be true, the sentence in question shows how fit I am to become Dylan. Not only does it show that I can become Dylan, it also shows how the only possible course in my life is to become Dylan, that I have no choice in this endeavor. Which means that I must choose a name.

Bob Dylan liked poets and I like ninjas. Therefore I should name myself after a ninja. But I like other things besides ninjas. How do I know that I should name myself after a ninja, and not after, say, a blueberry pie? I like blueberries a lot because of their magical properties. After countless observations, I have discovered that blueberries can disappear. You can verify this fact yourself with the following simple experiment:

  1. Put a blueberry on the ground
  2. Walk about 30 yards away from the blueberry
  3. Look at where the blueberry once was

You will find that you can no longer see the blueberry. Because of this disappearing property of blueberries, I can only assume that the "dark matter" that physicists say makes up the majority of our Universe is actually large numbers of invisible blueberries. (It would require about one octodecillion of blueberries to account for all the dark matter in the observable universe. And octodecillion is actually a real word.) I have reason to believe that Bob Dylan was also aware of the berry-ific nature of our Universe. Examine the following lyric:

The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keepin' on like a bird that flew,
Tangled up in blue.

The "bird that flew" is clearly an interstellar space craft "tangled up in [a cluster of deep space] blue[berries]." It's true. Do you know what else is true? I still don't know what to name myself. Suggestions are welcome. Conclusions are not.

Monday, January 15, 2007

An Enemy

I've drawn a comic!

(Panel 1)

(Panel 2)

(Panel 3)

(Panel 4)

(Panel 5)

(Panel 6)

The comic has been somewhat mangled by JPEG-ness and scaling (the coloring of the hat is off and so are some of the nuances of the hair), so you should check out the comic in all its uncompressed, full-size glory.

An analysis of this comic follows, but the author would like to note that the following analysis is non-normative and should not be considered the definitive interpretation. The author recognizes that since the comic portrays with great accuracy the entirety of the human experience, many meanings will arise and become apparent to readers that were not intended by the author, and that these meanings and interpretations are equally as valid as those discussed below. This author believes strongly that holding the exclusive rights to interpret this creative masterwork would be pure fascism. The author is hesitant to publish this criticism at all, fearing that though his readers have read this disclaimer, they will not take its message to heart and will be biased towards the author's own interpretation. However, he has faith in the intelligence of his readers, and thus, it follows.

In Panel 1, we meet our unnamed protagonist. He is being harassed by a waiter who appears to be grasping the table, ready to pick it up and fling it at our hero if he does not reply promptly. Our hero peruses his menu, unshaken by the violent presence standing two feet away from him. Note the fact that neither the sitter nor the waiter has a mouth. This deformity raises many questions. How do the speakers speak? How does the sitter eat or drink? Initially, we wonder whether the waiter simply wishes to taunt our hero with his opening line. We imagine the exchange going something like this:
[unseen in the background are the waiter's buddies, keen to observe the scene, anticipating a few laughs when our hero gets riled up by the waiter's comment, which will needlessly bring attention to his facial abnormality]
"And would you like anything to drink with your meal, sir?"
[a few snickers from the peanut gallery]
"Excuse me?"
[the crowd is disappointed that the sitter has not lost his cool. but, they figure, it is only a matter of time.]
"Oh, wait, you can't drink anything. You don't have a mouth, do you? Wouldn't you like to have a mouth like I do, you worthless, mouthless alley cat?"
[the crowd looks in awe upon their leader for the magnificence speech he has just presented]
"You don't have a mouth either."
[they realize the truth of his statement. crushed and embarrassed, they turn the other way and pretend not to know the waiter]
However, this is not actually what happens, of course. The rest of the comic makes it clear that the waiter's comment is indeed serious. It appears that unnamed protagonist can indeed drink, even without a mouth. We must look for a figurative interpretation of mouthlessness. It is apparent that this anomalous face relates the plight of the common man, as represented by our hero, to that of the hungry ghost. The common man must live his entire life with his desires unfulfilled, while the wealthy sit in their mansions of decadence, satisfied to paralysis. This cannot and will not last forever. Soon the proletariat will rise up and overtake the capitalist pigs. Though in this scene, the waiter is the enemy of the unnamed protagonist, they are united in mouthlessness, and will soon put their differences aside and fight united on the battlefield of the imminent class war.

Not much changes in Panel 2. The waiter still stands on the verge on violence and our hero remains deep in concentration, contemplating his beverage of choice. However, despite the lack of plot advancement, the richness of the art in this panel can not be overestimated. It is also important to note the changes of hairstyle that our hero experiences throughout the comic. In Panel 1, his hair most closely resembles that of Bob Dylan, but as the scene progresses, this similarity fades and his hairstyle degenerates into an black, anarchic, shape-shifting blob. As Bob Dylan is a famous creator of pseudo-intellectual qusai-poetical verse, so this progression clearly represents the growing popular anti-intellectual sentiment and the the increased emphasis on raw strength and violence which accompanies this.

In Panel 3, an important development occurs. The waiter removes his hands from the table. The sitter has apparently telepathically communicated with the waiter, explaining their common predicament of mouthlessness, and convincing him of the need for friendship and cooperation between members of their class.

There is a great controversy over the meaning of Panel 4. The interpretation that most scholars favor is that it shows the result of a miscommunication between the protagonist and Ryan Church. Due to this miscommunication, Ryan thinks that the initial attempt to convince the waiter of the need for brotherhood and peace among the mouthless has failed. Using his powers of extreme stealth, he is able to dress the waiter in a green sweater without being noticed. He then steps to the side of the table and introduces himself. However, his words are spoken in a menacing manner, and the fact that he is holding a bat makes it clear that he is threatening the waiter. The green shirt symbolizes money, and the pursuit thereof. The bat symbolizes the beating he will receive if he continues his pursuit of money. Of course, this whole scene is unnecessary, as the waiter has already been converted.

All this confusion is cleared up and the sitter finishes his order, as shown in Panel 5. The waiter has grasped the table again, but this is merely out of habit, rather than out of malice. The fact that our hero has only ordered water indicates that he must avoid luxuries such as soda and alcohol.

Panel 6 shows the deep friendship that the sitter and the waiter will enjoy in the future.