May 28, 2004


This afternoon I was driving my car listening to music when I had a sudden epiphany. There I was driving a convertible with the top down listening to a band called Garbage perform "Only Happy When It Rains." Thinking about that made me laugh quite a bit.

Posted by Randy at 02:13 AM | TrackBack

May 26, 2004

Freud and Silent Hill 2

I just completed the game Silent Hill 2. I must admit that the game blew me away. This game contains a very rare blend of action and intellect that is hidden beneath a dark and twisted storyline. For those of you rolling your eyes because I'm talking about a video game, do not judge this post so quickly.

The entire plot of this game seems to revolve around finding the truth about the past. This truth is altered and distorted by the twisted mind of the protaganist, James Sunderland. All we know at the beginning of the game is that his wife Mary died three years ago and that he has somehow gotten a letter from her asking him to come to the resort town of Silent Hill. By playing through the game, interacting with several key characters, encountering disturbingly deformed monsters, and experiencing strange locales, the player can infer a great deal of information about the relationship between James and Mary.

In order to truly delve into what my title implies is coming, I must divulge a great deal of information about the game. If you do not care about the spoilers that will be following, please continue to read. I should warn you, though, that what follows is quite long.

Before I get into what follows, I need to make a quick note. The majority of the insights and inferences you are about to read I did make on my own. A few, however, I only noticed after reading one plot anaylsis by Da Dood at GameFAQs.

By the end of the game, the player learns that James killed Mary because he was tired of dealing with her disease. This knowledge helps to prove that his whole Silent Hill experience is his punishment for his deeds. James does not realize at the beginning of the game that he killed his wife. However, the first video after starting the game shows James looking into a mirror. This is the first clue to the player that whatever follows is still centered around James' psyche. The first thing that James encounters upon his arrival in Silent Hill is a heavy fog. This hints towards how James is intentionally clouding his mind to the truth of what happened and is hoping to find his wife in Silent Hill.

We also learn that James is a rather selfish and shallow man whose life seems to center around his own sexuality. Before I get into those details, however, let me describe the other characters in the game. There are only two other real people that James meets in the town, but even they help James on his mental journey.

Eddie is a young man who was constantly mocked in his younger years for being overweight. Like James, he is drawn to Silent Hill to receive punishment. Eddie even compares himself to James. Eddie becomes a murderer whose deadly actions contrast the actions of James. After Eddie's first murder, the player meets him in a bathroom where Eddie is puking. He quickly gets over this squeamishness. He kills at least two more times before he turns on James and attempts to kill him. Eddie kills for vengeance. He sees everyone as against him.

Angela is a woman who comes from an abusive family. The player is told that her father sexually abused her rather frequently. The player also learns that her father is dead, but Angela seems to block out that information. She lives in fear of her father and of the world in general. In one striking scene, the player sees the world as Angela sees it--wrapped in constant flames that try to consume everything. Angela appears to have come to Silent Hill to prepare herself to commit suicide. Near the beginning of the game, she gives James a knife because she is afraid of what she may do with it if she keeps it. Near the end of the game, she asks for the knife back. When James refuses to give it back, Angela accuses him of saving it for himself.

Eddie and Angela are the two real people that you will meet in the game. This is confirmed by the fact that you will later find open graves for James, Eddie, and Angela. I believe that these next two characters are created by James to help lead him to the truth about the past.

Maria is a woman who looks and sounds exactly like Mary. James finds Maria in the park he thought Mary wanted him to go. How do I know that Maria is not a real person? She is killed three different times. Maria reflects everything about Mary that James loved, and she shows the player the shallowness of James. Maria is beautiful, fun-loving, and bold. She is wearing revealing clothing, and she has a tatoo of a hummingbird in a rather prominent position. It is implied that she was an exotic dancer. Maria is everything that James wants in a sexual partner.

Laura is an eight year old girl found in town. She seems to persecute both Eddie and James when she finds them. She claims to have been a patient in the same hospital that Mary was in and that she and Mary became friends. She is searching for Mary, but by doing so she leads James to discover the truth about himself. It seems to me that Laura is made of everything of Mary that James did not like. The fact that she is a young girl implies that James did not receive sexual satisfaction from this side of Mary. Laura's bratty tendencies reflect Mary's actions while she was in the hospital. These actions were what caused James to hate and to kill Mary. Laura's hatred of James also reflects Mary's anger towards him for his pity and attitude while she was in the hospital.

Now that I've discussed the characters, I want to move on to the monsters encountered in the game. I'm going to start with the lowest and move up to the big boss.

The first monsters encountered are called the "Patient Demons." These are humanoid creatures wrapped in what appears to be a form of straightjacket that vomit acid at James. The whole "illness" motif surrounding this enemy could be a reference to Mary's illness. Her life and her attitude were both deformed by the disease.

James then encounters "Mannequins." These monsters are basically two sets of female legs stuck together, and they attack by kicking out with the upper legs. This monster is an obvious reference to James' sexual appetite. The first time he sees the monster is in a room that contains a (headless and limbless) mannequin wearing the exact same clothing as Mary wears. In that same room is a memo that says that a man in a relationship should never turn to another woman for comfort.

Another interesting monster is the "Nurse Demon." These are found in a hospital, naturally, and they attack with steel pipes. The "Nurse Demon" is yet another reference to Mary and her time at the hospital. The "nurse" aspect of this monster also plays to the common male fantasy involving female nurses.

There are a few other monsters as well, but the most important one left is the "Pyramid Head." This monster is shaped like a human except that he has a huge red pyramid-like structure where his head should be. He attacks with a very long, very large knife. The knife is clearly phallic in nature and the fact that the monster uses this knife as a weapon indicates the oppresive sexuality of the character. This monster can be seen as James himself. The first time the player sees "Pyramid Head" he is standing still in a hallway behind some metal bars. If the player positions James to be facing the bars, it can be seen as a mirror. The monster never shows his face. This implies that he feels shame about his acts. During the player's first close encounter with him, "Pyramid Head" appears to be raping a "Mannequin." This ties the sexuality of James to the monster. James can even use the big knife the "Pyramid Head" uses as a weapon. James and the "Pyramid Head" run towards the same siren sound at different points in the game.

By the end of the game, however, it appears that all of the monsters and many of the locations existed solely in the mind of James. Everyone but James and Maria can move around freely throughout the town without encountering the monsters. James does save Angela from a monster once, but from her reaction after being "saved" it could be argued that James imagined the monster in the first place. James travels through a twisted labyrinth not found on any map in the game. He jumps down his own grave in order to get to one location. He runs down a staircase that seems to go down forever.

Few games can successfully intertwine action, puzzles, and psychology. Almost none have done it at cleverly and as seamlessly as Silent Hill 2. I can't wait to get my hands on the other games in the series.

Posted by Randy at 06:07 PM | TrackBack

May 21, 2004

Crazy Week

This had been an interesting week.

On Monday, my mother had a doctor tell her that she had a suspicious lump in one of her breasts. They decided that they wanted to remove it. On Tuesday, I found this out while driving my parents and another couple to Lufkin to eat at Red Lobster. On Wednesday, the surgery took place. The lump was successfully removed, and the doctors believe it was benign.

Before all of that happened, my mother, her parents, and her sister decided to go to Vicksburg, Mississippi, to see her brother. My mother decided she still wanted to go on the trip. I decided to tag along. I will not be doing that again any time soon.

We left Wednesday afternoon (after her surgery). I was driving. I ended up driving the entire trip to and from Vicksburg. My uncle drove while we were in Vicksburg. While some people seem to enjoy driving, I am not that big a fan of it when I have two or three old relatives trying to tell me how to drive. Unfortunately, the did not only give me driving tips. I was also bombarded almost the entire trip with their curious (read: ignorant and racist) views on a variety of subjects. I will not be reliving that in order to divulge more specifics to you. Let it suffice to say that I had to try very hard to not pull over the car and scream accusations and insults at them. "Could you please stop that bigotted tripe and at least pretend that you are a decent human being for a few minutes?" almost passed my lips on more than one occasion. I was able to hold in my rage. I wonder how much would have changed if I had not done so, however.

We visited the Vicksburg battleground park and museum. We went to the massive cemetary near it and to a separate museum about a boat sunk during the Civil War that was salvaged from the Mississippi River. I took a number of photographs from each location. My family then left me at the hotel so that they could go to the casinos in Vicksburg. While I was irritated, I was able to get some reading done.

I am ready for a vacation away from my family.

Posted by Randy at 10:46 PM | TrackBack

May 18, 2004

Photographs from a Cemetary

Using a disposable camera, I took twenty-seven photographs on Sunday when I went to visit the graves of some of my recently deceased family members. Of those twenty-seven, I scanned fourteen into my computer and made an effort to reduce their size. Of those fourteen, I have chosen ten that I want to share with others.

This is a bench that someone placed in front of the graves of my sister and the others who were killed in April 2003.

For the sake of those of you with slow bandwidth, the rest of the photographs can be seen if you continue to read this entry.

This is an angle view of the four headstones for the four who died in April. The headstone for my grandparents can also be seen.

These are individual photographs of each headstone of the four who died in April '03. The names are Mandy Ross (cousin), Jessica Ross (sister), Justin Roeber (sister's boyfriend), and Ples Kropp (Justin's half-brother).

This is a better view of the stone book that is between my sister's and her boyfriend's tombstones.

This is an angel that was placed at the foot of my cousin's grave.

This is a little sculpture thing placed in front of Justin's headstone. There is a sculpture similar to this near each headstone.

This is a cross with roses that was placed in front of my grandparents' headstone.

I took a number of other photographs of the cemetary itself that I would like to share, but those would be best saved for a future post. I actually had an interesting time walking around the cemetary taking photographs of things which caught my eye. I'd like to do it again.

Posted by Randy at 12:18 AM | TrackBack

May 16, 2004

A Grade Change?

My grades were mailed to me yesterday evening. I did not rush to open them or anything because I thought I knew exactly what all of them were. When I did open it, I found a little surprise.

According to the little sheet of paper, I received an A in Computer Science I. I decided to check to see what Blackboard said about this, and it still claims that I earned a B in the class. While the news that I received an A makes me quite happy, I'm still a little confused.

As far as I can see, one of three things must have happened. The professor listened to my complaints and decided that I deserved an A, the professor accidentally put down the wrong grade for me when he turned the grades in, or whoever is responsible for mailing out the grades recorded my grade incorrectly. The last two options are unlikely.

Either way, that A increases my GPA to a 3.39. I am one hundreth of a point away from keeping my scholarship. It is still going to be reduced.

Posted by Randy at 10:15 AM | TrackBack

May 15, 2004

22 Greatest CDs

I just finished watching MTV2's 22 Greatest CDs. It is a rather impressive list. As the list was created from MTV fans, I am really quite shocked by actual quality on the list.

The result of the fans voting is listed below. The selections in bold are CDs that I would like to own. The selections with an asterisk after them will be discussed if you decide to continue reading this post.

22) Garbage - Garbage*
21) Live - Throwing Copper
20) Foo Fighters - The Colour and the Shape
19) Janet Jackson - Rhythm Nation 1814*
18) Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine
17) No Doubt - Tragic Kingdom*
16) Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine*
15) TLC - CrazySexyCool*
14) Radiohead - OK Computer
13) Dr. Dre - The Chronic
12) Bruce Springstein - Born in the USA
11) Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique
10) Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory*
09) Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP*
08) Pearl Jam - Ten*
07) Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
06) Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik
05) U2 - The Joshua Tree*
04) Metallica - Metallica (better known as the Black album)*
03) Guns 'N Roses - Appetite for Destruction
02) Nirvana - Nevermind*
01) Alani Morissette - Jagged Little Pill*

Let me start by saying that I do not pretend to know a great deal about music. I am not the greatest judge of artistic ability or creative talent at really anything. However, I know when I personally like or dislike something. Please realize that all of the following commentary is purely my opinion. Also, since I am writing this at 4 AM it would make me happy if you did not point out any grammatical errors that may occur in the following.

22) Garbage - Garbage
Despite the joke-inducing name of both the band and their self-titled CD, I have really enjoyed what I have heard from this group. I love Shirley Manson's voice. It blends together beautifully with the music played by the rest of the group. My favorite Garbage song is "Only Happy When It Rains."

19) Janet Jackson - Rhythm Nation 1814
From what was said by the music "experts" they interviewed on the show, this is apparently the best CD ever put out by a Jackson. As I have never been a fan of any of the Jackson family, I am not in a position to comment on that. I am rather pleased that Micheal didn't make the list, however. I'm fairly certain that I would have loved the CD if it had been given to me back when I liked pop music.

17) No Doubt - Tragic Kingdom
I have heard a good deal of No Doubt's music and I believe that this CD contains the very best of it. "Don't Speak" is the most powerful song on the CD, in my opinion. I do not know why No Doubt decided to head into the "pop" direction with their latest projects, but I think it was a very bad decision on their part.

16) Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine is another band that I have never enjoyed. The cover of this CD pretty much sums up what the band seems to be about. They have powerful messages in their music, but I just do not like how they sound. If the music and the singing does not sound good to me, it is impossible for me to like the band.

15) TLC - CrazySexyCool
I once owned this CD. This was back when I enjoyed this type of music. I really enjoyed the song "Waterfall" and was given the CD as a gift. I think I would still enjoy this CD if I listened to it again today. TLC's sound has always been appealing to me for some reason.

10) Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory
In my opinion, this is the greatest CD I have ever heard. Words can not express how much I loved this CD. I had every single song memorized at one point. I was infuriated when I lost my copy of it. The songs flow together perfectly. The songs each spoke to me in a powerful way. I am extremely happy that it made it into the top ten of this list. I really want to get another copy of it.

09) Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP
It is no secret that I hate Eminem's music with a fiery passion. Unfortunately, I do have to admit that this CD was a work of art as far as rap goes. The lyrics are quite powerful, despite the fact that I hate them. As much as I don't like to admit it, this CD does deserve a spot in the top ten of this list.

08) Pearl Jam - Ten
I had no idea that about a quarter of the songs on this CD were Pearl Jam songs. I found that out by watching this countdown. As I really like a number of the songs on this CD, I would really enjoy owning it.

04) Metallica - Metallica (The Black Album)
Why don't I own this CD? All of my favorite Metallica songs are on it.

01) Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill
This really surprised me. I would have expected a good number of CDs above this one. I once owned this CD, in fact, but somehow it was lost. I would like to get another copy of it because I still enjoy a number of the songs on it. I believe this is Alanis Morissette at her very best, but I have not heard a great deal of her newer material.

Posted by Randy at 04:09 AM | TrackBack

American Candidate

A serious post about music is in process. I'm currently gathering material concerning it. Don't worry. That will be explained.

Right now, however, I want you to go check out American Candidate.

"Coming on Showtime in Summer 2004, American Candidate is a ground-breaking television series in which the American people will identify a People's Candidate that they would like to see run for President of the United States. ... Over the course of 10 weeks, those 12 [contestants] will face-off against each other in a series of challenges designed to test their presidential mettle and to show viewers what really goes on in the making of a presidential candidate."

Great. We now have a political version of Survivor. If nothing else, it could be interesting. How does one test "presidential mettle" anyhow?

Posted by Randy at 03:02 AM | TrackBack

May 14, 2004

Political Poll

My house was just called by some polling place. As I am currently the only person home, I got to answer all the questions.


I must say there were some interesting questions.

For example:

Who is the better leader, George W. Bush or John Kerry?
Do you think America's best days are in the past or in the future?
Do you think that America should do more of what its allies want, or should America's allies do more of what America wants?

Unfortunately, either-or answers aren't going to give my real opinion for any of those questions. I still had fun, though.

Posted by Randy at 06:51 PM | TrackBack

May 12, 2004

Political Poetry?

I wouldn't mind getting my hands on a copy of this CD featuring this collection. Who would have thought that Donald Rumsfeld could be so poetic? I'm fairly certain if they could get him to free-style they would have a comedy hit on their hands.

You can find out more by reading this news article.

"[Kong] thinks President Bush's statements lack the necessary substance, while Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry would put people to sleep."

Posted by Randy at 04:26 PM | TrackBack

May 11, 2004


It finally happened! The computer at my house has FINALLY crashed!

*Dances out of complete and utter glee*

I had to set up the dial-up to run through my computer. The difference is amazing. Despite it being the same connection it is about three times faster. I thought I had cleaned out the majority of the junk on that old piece of crap, but I was obviously wrong.

Now maybe I can convince my parents that a new computer is needed. Maybe I can convince them that a better internet connection is also needed. Maybe I am finally rid of Windows ME.

*Continues dancing*

Posted by Randy at 12:47 PM | TrackBack

May 10, 2004

A "New" Scam?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the story of some Middle Eastern or African country's royal family and their troubles one of the older scams on the internet?

Why should seeing someone who claims to be a Saudi Arabian princess make it any more credible? People are so gullible.

Posted by Randy at 05:41 PM | TrackBack

May 09, 2004

Computer Science I

I am rather infuriated with a certain professor at the moment. Please let me explain why.

Out of the six programs written for the class, I received a grade of 100 on four of them. I received a 90 and a 93 on the other two. Out of the eleven labs we did for the class, I received a 100 on ten of them and a 0 on the other one. On the three tests before the final, I received an 82, 86 and 90.

All of those (excluding the one 0 which should accout for less than 1% of the total grade) are great grades. These grades take into account 80% of the final grade for the class. Somehow, these grades were weighted so that I just barely had an A (a 90.1) before the final.

Let's review: program average of 97.17 (25% total), lab average of 90.91 (10% total), and test average of 86 (45% total). This gets me a total average (pre-final) of 90.1.

I believe that is a screwed up way to weight the grades. The programs take a great deal more work and more accurately reflect a student's ability in CS. They should be worth more than just over half of what the tests are worth. It is true that some students might try to steal code from others, but when the professor tells the class that the majority of "real" programming is copying code made by others that shouldn't matter!

I typically have no problem with the final taking the last 20% of the total grade, but I do believe that if it is going to be worth that much it should be comprehensive. I do not see the logic in making the final test worth extra if it is nothing more than a "glorified" chapter exam which the professor himself doesn't even bother giving.

In case you haven't figured it you, I made a B in the class. I received an 87.4 as my final grade.

I'm a bit upset about it.

Posted by Randy at 05:36 PM | TrackBack

May 07, 2004

S*P and Christian Culture

Once again, something positive presents an issue and an opinion I agree with greatly.

Basically, televangelists and the modern Christian culture are really degrading to Christianity as a whole.

Posted by Randy at 10:30 PM | TrackBack


I have officially completed my sophomore year at college. I know all of my grades except for one class (Comp. Sci. I). I've gotten an A in everything so far except Human Anatomy and Physiology. Naturally, I get a B in the class worth four credit hours. This is going to raise my GPA, but it doesn't raise it enough for me to keep my current scholarship. It is going to be bumped down from the Presidential. It is going to be raised a great deal in this next year, though, and the scholarship will be restored eventually.

The majority of my things have already been taken to my parents' house. Basically, everything that was too big to stuff into my car and a few boxes filled with things I knew I wouldn't need was loaded into my mother's Navigator Wednesday. This leaves me without a television or a refridgerator until Saturday evening.

I must say that this has been an interesting semester. I've become friends with people I never would have expected, I've had conversations I never would have imagined, and I've experienced things I never will forget. It is all too possible that some people might be walking out of my life forever.

There is quite a bit I am looking forward to this summer. I have two months with no responsibilities at all. I have a good number of books that I want to read. I have a trip to China that I can't wait to start. This summer is going to be a much-needed break.

Unfortunately, this break means separation from some of the best friends I have had in my life.

Posted by Randy at 02:03 AM | TrackBack

May 05, 2004

May I Borrow a Comb?

X-ray of where a federal corrections officer was stabbed in the eye with a comb. No gruesome photographs are included, but it is painful enough if you know what all that comb had to go through.

It was shoved through all of the eye, past a thin bone, and straight into the cerebrum. Ouch.

Posted by Randy at 02:51 AM | TrackBack

May 04, 2004


Rumsfield: Prisoner Abuse "Un-American"

Right. Because we Americans have a long and glorious history of not exploiting our fellow man.

Letters of reprimand should be enough punishment, right? They were only "following orders," after all. I was under the impression that guards could do whatever they wanted in order to get information from a prisoner.

What? There are rules for POW treatment? But they are the evil bad guys fighting us noble Americans. Why should we give them any decent treatment?

Posted by Randy at 02:26 PM | TrackBack

Unanswered Questions

At what point does trusting in God's plan degenerate into spiritual apathy? This is something I've been churning around in the back of my head for several days now, but a conversation I had with Michelle (girl on China team) earlier today forced it to the front.

When my sister died last year, I had a spiritual crisis. The easiest way to explain it is to compare it to the way C. S. Lewis' character in the play Shadowlands feels after Joy dies.


"God knows, yes, God knows. I've no doubt that God knows, but does God care? Did he care about [her]?...We're the creatures. I've no doubt that the experiment is for our own good, eventually, but that still makes God the vivisectionist."
It took me a good bit of time before I finally accepted that God does have a plan and that I am most likely not going to be told it ahead of time. Crap is going to happen to me, but, if I am going to make it through life with my sanity, I have to trust that God knows what He is doing. Once I accepted this I felt good. I felt prepared for whatever was in store for me down the line.

My acceptance of this surprised me over this past weekend. As I was preparing myself to go home, I thought that some of that old anger and bitterness would return at some point during the visitation or funeral. Neither anger nor bitterness visited me over the weekend, though. Instead, I felt mostly acceptance of my grandmother's death and respect for God. I almost felt as if I was betraying my grandmother for not being mad at God for her death, but that thought did not occupy my mind for very long.

Total acceptance brings another question to my mind. Why should one pray if God already has a perfect will? This is also addressed by Lewis' character in Shadowlands:

Paraphrased: "Prayer doesn't change God. It changes me."

It's good advice, but it isn't all that comforting. At least, it isn't to me. If it's true, I find it depressing. If it's true, the only thing prayer can really do is affect our spiritual life.

At what point does this acceptance turn into apathy? Where does acceptance of God's will change into despair over a total lack of control? When does believing in an omniscient being change to not believing in free will?

I don't have any answers.

Posted by Randy at 01:46 AM | TrackBack

May 01, 2004

Away Message Fun

Checking three separate AOL "Buddy Profiles," I constructed the following from the away messages:

"Wandering...with anna...out and about, wreaking havoc. Again."

Interesting group of friends I have.

Posted by Randy at 11:47 PM | TrackBack


I think I am becoming numb to death. I must say it is a very weird feeling. Why do I believe I am becoming numb to death, you ask?

As I was sitting at my grandmother's house with the rest of my father's family, a strange thought kept running though my head. It shocked me at first, but I started thinking through it and it kept me occupied for quite some time.

As I sat there gazing at my relatives, I was thinking: "Who's next?"

As I'm sure you've picked up by now (if you come here often, anyway), a large number of people I've known have died in these past five or so years. I started to wonder what relative of mine would probably be the next to pass away.

Turning my eyes toward different family members, I analyzed risk factors surrounding all of them (including me) with a degree of coldness and a sense of objectivity that frightened me. The amount they travel, the content of their diet, the amount of exercize they get, the unhealthy things they do, and the risky things they go through formed lists in my head at an almost uncanny speed. Based on those lists in my head, I have guesses on which family members of mine will pass away next.

This all seemed to be very natural and calming when I was doing it. Looking back at it, however, makes it feel morbid and quite disturbing.

Posted by Randy at 01:09 AM | TrackBack