Friday, September 08, 2006

A Short, Vivid Reminder

Crystal Morning, a short film edited by Evan Coyne Maloney from video shot by David Volger and audio dubbed from 911 calls and NYPD/NYFD dispatches.

Download or stream. Tell friends.

(h/t: Professor Reynolds)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

One Man, One Floor, One Day, One Life

I have a hard job to do this weekend. It should be easy, quick, simple, but it isn't. It's like one of those toys you'd get as a kid, where the packaging shows it in action, but when you open it up there are hundreds of different small pieces that have to go together in just the right way. And no matter how close you pay attention to what goes where, you always end up with a stray piece.

It should be easy to write a short memorial for a man on the fifth anniversary of his death. But there are two pieces to this task that make it hard:

1. I didn't know the man personally.
2. He died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, trapped on the 106th floor of Tower 1.

His name was James F. Murphy IV, 30 years old, married, an account executive with Thomson Financial Services attending a breakfast during a trade show at Windows on the World. Shortly before 9:00 on that beautiful fall morning, when the sky was a bright shimmery blue, the hijacked American Airlines flight 11, piloted by Mohammad Atta, smashed into the building. It cut a jagged hole from the 93rd to 99th floors.

Jim and his colleagues never had a chance.

Laura and I have singed up for The 2,996 Project, where bloggers will honor victims of that day on September 11. We were assigned victims randomly when we signed up. Jim Murphy is mine. We are told to remember the victims, not their murderers. And for me that brings in a third difficult piece of the task.

Five years haven't dulled the rage I feel down into the cores of my bones every time I think about that day: a mass murder of nearly 3,000 people in the span of two hours. My rage deepens when I think of the apologists for the killers, the ones who say we deserved it, especially the academic fraud who impugns someone as friendly and outgoing and warm as Jim, calling him and others who died in both towers that day "Little Eichmanns." Minds who concoct such intellectual smegma in the name of "speaking truth to power" deserve nothing less than the public humiliation they suffer when they are confronted.

And the killers themselves, the blood-simple sociopaths living the twisted fantasy of a martyr's glory. Especially the man who ran the plane into Tower 1: Mohammed Atta. If you look closely at the picture of him, you'll notice the eyes. They're the ones you'd see in bad dreams. Behind them they burn with a cold white flame of hatred.

Charles Starkweather had those eyes. So does Charles Manson. Perhaps Jack the Ripper did, too. They are the eyes of a killer.

But he was just one. There were 19 in all. And that same sociopathic hatred burned in every one of them.

I've been thinking about an Avengers comic I read in my early teens, and I remember one panel in particular. In it Iron Man had been killed and Kang the Conqeror was involved with his death. Thor was in the panel I still remember, and it was drawn from Kang's point of view. Thor has his hammer raised to Kang's eye level and says, "For this thou shalt surely pay."

For taking Jim from his family and friends, and for taking all the others, indeed, the ones remaining who wish to continue with what the 19 murderers did on September 11, 2001--

They all shalt surely pay.

This Woman Is Vile!

And really, really stupid.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

So Why Do We Love Music?

This piece in the Boston Globe has a few answers.

Overall, it says, our primitive ancestors created music for probably one of three reasons:

1. For males to impress females ("Hey, babe, nice fox hide. Say, I'm in a band. Yeah, we just jam together, bang a few rocks, blow through a few hollow bones. . . .")

2. Lullabies mothers sang to soothe their children as they worked a few short feet away ("Baby mine, don't you cry, I'm over here picking rice. . . .")

3. Community anthems ("Our Grass Hut is a great Grass Hut. . . .")

But if we're to believe the historical accuracy of this, from James Lileks' site, music was one of the things that filled the time people suddenly had because they no longer had to always hunt for an animal to kill and eat: all they had to do was harvest grain, let it dry, grind it up, and turn it into beer, which they drank so they could, according to the Official Bread Story, get up the nerve to go to the next cave and steal their neighbors' bread.

And a few pages later, we find the astounding direct connection between bread and music. The connection between beer and music had already been well-established.

Next up: why we love sugar beets.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Happy 60th Birthday, Freddie

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality.

Honor Freddie Mercury today: shake your boa in the face of some prude. And Keep Yourself Alive!

Monday, September 04, 2006

So Why Do They Call it Labor Day Weekend?

I guess because of all the labor that you have to do when it finally rolls around.

Corny, yes, but our weekend was spent staining furniture. No, not like cats. More like "re-staining" furniture. I have four of those fold-down bookcases, real solid stuff, made of pine, where the sides fold out and the shelves fold down. They're the stackable kind. I bought them from Barnes & Noble's catalog division (back when they had one) in 1999, a month before I moved into a condo in the Old Louisville neighborhood. I stained them some kind of light oak color, which made them look like the inside of a hollow pumpkin.

So to finally improve the decor of our bedroom, Laura and I used this to stain them (in Brazilian Rosewood). We divided the duties: I sanded every piece (the shelves came apart), then Laura slathered on the stain.

It took the better part of two days to finish the job. We went through three paintbrushes, a pack of rubber gloves, a half-dozen of my old handkerchiefs (clean, of course), a large blue plastic painting tarp left over from when Laura and I painted the condo about five years ago, and what seemed like a ream of sandpaper. They look beautiful, though. The gel stain dried to a lustre that reminds us of dark chocolate cut through with strands of caramel.

I creaked out of bed this morning from all the sanding and staining yesterday. I expect the same'll happen Tuesday morning.

Next up: we give the same treatment to a writing desk we bought from a place that rents office furniture.

My New Hero

Eugene of Live from an Isreali Bunker. Seventeen years old, an Isreali, a survivor of the attacks from Hezbollah, and already a member of the esteemed Pajamas Media.

Go. Read. Learn.