Sunday, April 30, 2006

Stephen Colbert: Man of the Year

Just got finished watching Colbert absolutely decimate the Adminstration with his White House Correspondents Dinner act. It was in a word: brilliant. Colbert elicited little laughter from the crowd, least of all the President and Laura who herself didn't bother to stand up or shake Colbert's hand after he finished.
His act was savagely smart and cruel. I could hear audible gasps from the crowd at several points at some of his most shocking lines. My jaw was on the floor, through the floor, and in the basement.

This, and the upcoming release of the "Strangers With Candy" movie officially makes Stephen Colbert the man of the year. Bravo.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

(Fake) C.S. Lewis on Snakes

SomethingAwful hits comedy gold again with their Philosophy Sunday, in which famous philsophers discuss random issues. Today's was snakes.

Here is their "contribution" from the 20th century's most overrated titan of pseudo-intellectual magical thinking, C.S. Lewis:
"Once upon a time a young boy was walking through the Land of Lollypops. He came upon a snake and the snake said, 'Follow me, for what other choice do you have?' So the young boy followed him through the Land of Lollypops to the Great Chocolate Waterfall where the snake told him to sodomize another young boy who the snake had already tied to the Rock Candy Boulder.

The boy was aghast and didn't know what to do. Just then, the king of the Land of Lollypops, Mesus Bhrist, appeared in the sky above him.

'Don't follow the snake, for he deceives you,' the King said in a booming voice. 'Follow me, and I will take you the Cotton Candy Factory in the Sky. But first you must get all the other boys and girls to follow me too, through whatever means necessary.'

So the little boy did as he was told and the snake was sent to the Molten Fudge Hell for Evil Sinners. And that is why it didn't have to be snakes, and it should never be snakes.

Also this story is only as Christian as you want it to be and I personally enjoy the well fleshed out characters and exciting action.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Greatest Song of All-Time

Let me start by saying this piece is in no way ironic. Sadly, irony died with Thomas Mann. It's not in my ability to bring it back. Thus I must speak my mind.

Me and my unspeakably talented and lovely friend, NYC rap extrodinairre Chaz Kangas have engaged in many long and spirted debates in the six years of our relationship. One such debate has always been the toughest nut to crack, or to put it another way, the toughest testicle to explode. We've debated it for years, from our hetero courtship in the musty walls of De La Salle high school in Downtown Minneapolis, to our presently Papa John's Pizza Collegiate stuffed selves. The question at hand is so herculean, so incredibly thorny, that many feel it's an absolute impossibility, and even an absolute absurdity to debate:
What is the greatest song of all-time?

On April 24th, 2006, in an internet conversation too long, and too vulgar, to post here, Charles P. Kangas spritedly named a song and quickly defended its merits. Little did he know that in this moment of mental agility behind his suggestion, for Chaz has the most agile mind I know, did he hit upon the one true perfect answer for thinking and feeling men to the question at hand.
His answer, and one I wholeheartedly agree with: The Greatest Song of All-Time:
Seal's "Kiss From a Rose".*

Seal's smokey voice, and Lunar-like face have always been close to our hearts. But in his "Kiss From a Rose", Seal takes his art, and indeed the limits of human expression to a level so divine it is impossible to put into mere words. It is a creation of sublime elegance, that like the laws and order of nature from the symmetry of the human body, the double-helix's spiraling case of DNA coding, up to the strong and weak gravitational forces and the intimate fabric of spacetime, is transcendent, without beginning or end.

The lyrics of "Kiss From a Rose", which truly are lyrics in the sense of Sappho, Horace, and later Milton, manifest in playful rhyme and snaky scansion, the oldest and most mysterious theme of all: Love.
Our journey begins magically with a polyphonic madrigal of acapella Seals, almost calling to the Muses to accept his gift of song so that he may find good fortune through his heartfelt expression. We are somewhere foggy and dense, a light rain gently pats the trees as the sea's briny depths spew forth unspeakable wisps of smoke and perfume. We are invisible guests at Seal Manner, where he alone walks the ancient grounds in pained and thoughtful silence. He is a lost soul, "out to sea" as it were, all alone in a castle of faded armor and black spiderwebbed corners. He wanders around the labyrinth of dead chivalry, a victim of a loveless existence, with only bats and rusty swords to keep him company in his reverie.

After the opening bars' solemn entreaty to the Muses by the acappella Seals (his fragmented self?), we are transported into a enchanting world of a bygone time. Perhaps the late Medieval era as evidenced by its sophisticated modality. Think Machaut meets Brian Eno. However, as the song goes on and Seal's tale spins its gorgeous web, the music evolves into a more firmly tonal base with an air of the Baroque: Seal has found what he was searching for. Love.

Still, we will only learn this later. It is the Hamlet-like Seal we are first introduced to as he broods and remembers his former self, astray and hopelessly alone:

'There used to be a greying tower alone on the sea.

You became the light on the dark side of me.
Love remained a drug that's the high and not the pill.
But did you know, the when it snows,
My eyes become large
and the light that you shine can be seen?'

Seal's love is a guiding light, and comes from the sea; a spendid inversion of the Lighthouse trope, in which Seal, the lost ship, is shipwrecked, and his love 'shines its light' from the cold and wintr'y sea where his gaze pondered the isolation of his kingdom behind its glassy veneer. Particularly poignant is the way his voice ascends to a light falsetto on the word "You" in line two, where he hangs on to the phrase as if caressing his love for one more brief moment.

Seal is a depressive protagonist, and this song still has an undercurrent of melancholy. This love, although life-altering, is still his "addiction", and his "pain". In the end, it's only a "light hitting a gloom on the grave": Prince Seal of Denmark is in many ways already dead.

*Runner-up and second runner-up:
The Police-"Everything She Does is Magic"
Cyndi Lauper-"Time After Time

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Strike Up the Band

Strike up the band
with careful sentiment
for the fruitflies
and peanutbuttery pinecones
and the burning glassblue skyline
between the two trees;
heat's milky pony.

Strike up the band
one, two and also three,
Play with gusto for the new life
the burning pale flesh
on the sidewalk
that walks crabwise
from the sweet ashen milky typos.

Praise him with Trumpets, Tubas, Snare Drums and Cymbal
Praise him with "Stars and Stripes Forever",
or Easy E's "Bitches Ain't Shit",
Praise he with the mistakes in the rocky book
who manuevers the appointed grid that sparkles
it's stony grains in the soapy sunlight
to the Mississippi's muddy edge
Swimming with the filthiest catfish
all for the girl with the checkered socks.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Charles Koechlin: A Dead Man Lives

He was a friendly man with the Tolstoy beard. Children would ask him why he grew his beard so long. "Because I like it!," was his response.

Charles Koechlin is finally getting some deserved attention on record 56 years after his death. Thanks to conductors like David Zinman, Heinz Holliger and the German record label Hanssler (who are currently committing many of the Frenchman's works to disc for the first time as part of an ongoing series dedicated to him) us ignorant bastards can put down the Mahler, another once forgotten composer, and listen to some of the most unique and fascinating music to come out of Europe in the first half of the century.

Koechlin has appeared rarely on disc since his death, and was mostly thought of as an eccentric loner who orchestrated Debussy's neglected ballet Khamma and his teacher Fauré's Pelléas et Mélisande (with it's famous 'Sicilienne') and wrote some complicated polytonal/modal orchestral music inspired by films and Kipling's The Jungle Book. He is also widely considered a large inspiration for many of Darius Milhaud's polytonal music. (Milhaud was a young friend of the elder master who was in many ways a mentor, and always had the utmost respect for him later in life.)
But after listening to some of these recordings it soon becomes indisputable that Koechlin is one of the more 'individual' composers from the first half of the 20th century.
His style, alternately coolly ethereal and schizophrenic, was borne out of an intense musicality. Koechlin mastered every academic style taught in French conservatories in the days of D'Indy but ultimately broke away from it to form a peculiar and inimitable musical language. In some ways a pedagogue later in life, he wrote thousands of pages on his idol Bach, Gregorian chant, fugue and chorale, and most famously, a gigantic orchestration treatise still highly regarded today. It has yet to be translated from the original French, but I have looked at the book (which is about 30 pounds and could easily kill a small horse if thrown from a few feet away) and found it interesting. Koechlin was an incredible orchestrator admired by no less than his friends Ravel and Debussy and his treatise is filled with examples drawn from his own orchestral works, Bizet's two operas, Debussy's Pelléas, Massenet, Lalo, Mozart, Berlioz, Wagner, Bach, Gounod, Stravinsky and even Schoenberg's Erwartung.
Upon listening to Koechlin's best known masterpiece, Le Course de Printemps, a sort of four movement symphonic poem drawn from his massive work inspired by Kipling's famous book, Koechlin's orchestration is the first thing that really draws you in. An absolute master of polyphony, layering, color and most of all harmony, Koechlin's large orchestra is a bubbling beast of entangled lines and strongly constrasted coloristic effects: an Alto saxophone mournfully sounds above a muted organ, antique cymbals strike up a choir of flutter-tongued woodwinds over a canon in the double-basses. This sort of thing is everywhere in his orchestral music. Koechlin is above all else a magician of sound. Orchestration and 'effect' are intrinsic to his music, which places himself firmly in the French tradition. His work sometimes has the Germanic testikels in it's brassy strength and fervor, much like Honegger, Roussel and that other fascinating and forgotten 20th century French musical magician, Florent Schmitt . Surprisingly, Koechlin usually wrote the music in piano form first (with usually three or four staves-much like Ravel). However, it is nearly impossible to imagine this music in any other form than what Koechlin writes for orchestra.
'The Spring Running,' the second section of Course du printemps, is a work of startling imagination and craftsmanship, and chugs along like a machine taking detours into everything from long modal woodwind chorales to rhythmically jaunty four-layer polytonal polyphony moving at different speeds (an apt musical metaphor for the jungle), to slow moving gigantic chords of fifths and fourths superimposed played by the strings with harmonics and mutes.

Koechlin's orchestral works contain most of his most inspired music, and the man had little time, or perhaps talent, for the theater. He loved film though, and wrote hundreds of pieces inspired by his favorite movies and film stars (almost causing a couple of Hollywood starlets to think of him as a obsessed stalker type), but his music is at its best when it tells its own strange tales. After all, this is a man who defended the symphonic poem as valid mode of artistic expression even till his death when Boulez and Stockhausen and their disciples were preparing to firebomb the establishment with total serialism in pieces with titles like "Stukken 2304.59" and "Anarchie X". Koechlin's so-called 'tone poems' can all be enjoyed as 'pure music' without any knowledge of what they are attempting to represent, but when the programs are found they actually show Koechlin's to be a quite talented 'tone painter' as it were, as the Debussy of Le Mer and Nocturnes.
His chamber music is more acidic and austere, though as his Epitaphe pour Jean Harlow for piano, flute and alto saxophone shows he could spin a light-as-a-feather 'French' melody as bittersweet and cutesy as any Poulenc. Some of his compositions for small ensemble seem to be a chance for him to experiment with his ideas on monody and chorale, and likewise bring new meaning to the term 'astringent' with their severe modal language and rate of change.
His piano music is also fairly interesting. A lot of it is terribly difficult to play, and does not always pay off for its challenges. His greatest piano work, a suite of Middle-East inspired meditations entitled Les Heures Persanes ('The Persian Hours') is a perfect example of why Koechlin isn't always for Grandma Mimma. Over an hour long, the work makes no attempt to seduce the listener with orientalist perfume. Koechlin's Middle-East, though a land of whirling dervishes, mysterious caravan phantoms in the desert night, Arabian rose gardens and muezzins calling for noon-day prayer behind the oasis, is mostly deathly slow, unmelodic and with pedal-points so long even Sibelius would be shocked. It takes many listens to be able to begin to understand what Koechlin is trying to do and most listeners, unless fantastically high on Afghani opium, will be bored to tears by 10 minutes. If you are in the right mood however, the piece creates an air of mystery that is hypnotic. The music itself, the careful performer with attention to the music's subtleties and the listener with an open mind and ample concentration will operate together in a sort of trance state. "Turn off the lights and light the Yankee Candle 'Desert Rose' bright burner and prepare to enter another world" as it were.
...Or be bored to tears.
Either way, its simultaneously archaic modal and harshly dissonant poly-tonal language combined with the almost ritualistically slow tempo and wandering rhythms Les Heures Persanes is quite unlike any other piano work from the 20th century and indeed is quite revolutionary in it's stubborn inward nature that is based on nothing but the composer's own idea of the fanciful subject. It's 'impressionistic' music that paints no elegant or pretty picture for you and your lover to frolic through.

Koechlin was prolific, but not incredibly consistent. Perhaps this is due to his eclectic but profoundly personal musical language. His biggest failings in hindsight seem to be the sections of endlessly snail-paced modal melodies over a harmonically static center, a rhythmic sense that often seems random and apathetic and a lack of melodic invention. The first half of his Le Docteur Fabricius is a perfect example of these nagging qualities. When writing a 40 minute orchestral piece, it is not always a good idea to make the first 20 minutes as dull as Rice-Cakes. Also, three Ondes Martenots might seem cool on paper, but when played at loud volumes 'presto' it sounds like a remote control car chasing a cat.
Koechlin is often at his best when his music is fast moving and polytonal, as his wonderful sense of harmony and brilliantly colored orchestration makes an exciting and curiously strange impression. His late symphonic poem from his 'Jungle Book' series, Les Bandar-log is a perfect example of what he does right. The music scatters and gathers itself together, instruments squeal and intone obsessed small fragments at fast speeds, stunningly beautiful chords played with startling combinations before disolving into primordial bubbling in the lowest half of the orchestra; Koechlin's jungle is alive as all get-out.

The best place to find Koechlin is still his Le Course de Printemps which has to be one of the most underrated pieces of large instrumental music in the last 150 years. Listen and be amazed you haven't heard this guy before. He can be that good.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Separated at Birth?

Zacarias "Didn't Start the Fire" Moussaoui

Billy "Master of the Long Island DWI" Joel

Monday, April 17, 2006

Ravel on YouTube!

My laptop is still sitting in a darkened room not being fixed and I'm sad to say I have nothing to say.

While you are waiting for me with wet lips and beating eager hearts I send you to the latest issue of the New Yorker for Alex Ross's piece on Kaija Saariaho's new opera, and to the incredible website YouTube to see the young sultry Martha Argerich make child's play of Ravel's Jeux d'eau.
If one day you wish to win my heart, and I know many of you do, be a hot Argentinean piano virtuoso who can play Ravel very well. I'll get my laptop back at the end of the week, so you have a couple days to get started on that.

*Also see an acceptable performance of the first movement of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G with Argerich and Dutoit. Every performance of this work always seems way too choppy, messy and uneven when compared with Krystian Zimerman's recording of the work with Boulez conducting. It's a zesty, clean and elegantly crisp Ravel that brings out the finer points of his late jazzy masterpiece. Accept no subsitutes!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Future Christopher Hitchens Titles

Christopher Hitchens is really getting irritating. At first his surprising rebirth as a Neo-Conservative hawk from quasi-Socialist contrarian was cute. But his pieces on Slate are becoming more and more pathetic in his obsessive defense of the Iraq war. Most bothersome to me, besides the articles themselves, are the smarmy titles. Here are some examples from the last couple months: Nowhere to Go: Stop the taunting, and let's have a real debate on the Iraq war (to which 'Get Your War On' cartoonist David Rees wrote this hilarious, spot-on response), Wowie Zahawie: Sorry everyone, but Iraq DID go uranium shopping in Niger, etc...

To spare you reading any of these sad-hidden under cocky bullshit articles in the future, I've devised some titles of Iraq pieces he's sure to write:
Naked in Persia: Why Saddam HAD to go

Puh-leeze: Iraq may be in Civil War, but what's wrong with that?

The Silliness of Numbers: So 5000 US soldiers are dead and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, but have we forgotten Saddam's rape rooms?

(some misused quote from Proust/Orwell/Russell/Wodehouse etc.) : Don't be a silly bitch, just support the war however bad it's going. It's very 'contrarian' and rebellious to do right now. I'm an intellectual. Give me booze. I'm fat and need a shave. Food.

Laptop Lameness

Oh does this suck. My beloved laptop, the one I've had so much trouble with, is dead and being fixed. While not only being my window to the world and perhaps more importantly, window to porn, my computer is sitting in a darkened room in Northeast Minneapolis. (Actually it's my window to homework and writing and music and news and pictures. And...I'll be honest. A touch of porn.)
Noticing little power was getting through to the back DC jack for a while I finally decided to find a computer repairman to fix the inch wide hole. Should be about a 10 minute job, right?

WRONG! First the kindly man told me it would take 3 days. 5 days including the Weekend. Okay. I can do that. I'll turn in some work late. Okay. Tuesday night I'll pick it up.

Tuesday comes...No call. I call him. "Yep. Not going to be ready till tomorrow." Okay. This is annoying. But whatever. I can do without Microsoft Word for another day. Wednesday night, no call. I call him and visit his shop. Even though the ad in the yellow pages says they are around 24 hours for help no one answers the phone and the shop is closed: Apparently this dude shuts down the shop for hours when he feels like going out for some Quizno's. Okay. Okay. This is irritating. I should have researched this shady operation first.
Then yesterday. He calls: "I'll be in the shop 6-9. It will be ready then. I'll call when it's done." Thursday comes.

Thursday goes. No call.

Then he calls today. He realized he needs another part. Won't come for 5 days. What does this mean? My laptop will be ready to pick up next Thursday. A whole week and a half later than he said.

If you read in the paper about a 20 year old murdering a chunky computer repairman in Minneapolis, keep my family in your prayers as this will be a difficult time for them.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Gabriel Fauré

Her friends retire into the autumn night
Their young daughter in the sapphire dress left a swan's wing on the
master's desk while he played the piano for them.
He sits down as the stars dimly blaze through the glass onto the 4 staves
The day full of October sun has been hard on his failing eyes and he closes them
head to hand and the lightest breeze picks up the wing and it flies out the open window.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Tim Heidecker: Stabbed!

I can't believe I missed this. Tim Heidecker, half of the staggeringly brilliant comedy team of Tim and Eric (along with Eric Wareheim), creators and stars of strange short films and the love it or hate it Cartoon Network's series "Tom Goes to the Mayor", was stabbed near his home in LA a couple weeks ago. He was trying to help a neighbor apparently when a young man in a PCP frenzy chased after him and stabbed him multiple times in the back. You can read about it in Tim's blog here.

Tim and Eric are great heroes of mine artistically and personally, and "Tom Goes to the Mayor" is in my honest opinion one of the greatest pieces of art to emerge in the last 10 years. The new season premieres June 4th. Be sure to watch it.

As for Tim, it seems he is doing fine. I have had the pleasure of talking with him online several times in which we would send bizarre pictures to each other in a contest to find the most hilarious and strange thing we could find on the World Wide Web. Heidecker and Wareheim are sweet guys and this is an example of why one shouldn't get high on dope, but rather high on hope. Rats off to Tim Heidecker, a great comedian, artist and humanitarian.
For a taste of Tim and Eric's utter genius watch their short film they made with Mr. Show's Bob Odenkirk, Encounters.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Read it and weep all you many creationist Biblical literalists who read this site!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Spring is Here

Well my contest is over and no one even bothered to guess. No one even downloaded it apparently either, as it is pretty damn famous (and pretty damn beautiful) aria I am playing from one of the greatest masterpieces in musical history:
Buß und Reu ('Guilt and Pain') from Bach's 'St. Matthew Passion.'

In other news I'm listening to Donald Fagen's new album Morph the Cat which is really quite good, especially the title track and "Mary Shut the Garden Door". Also revisiting Beck's Guero which I unfairly shrugged off after a couple listens when it came out. It dies after the first half, but "Missing" and "Earthquake Weather" are some of Beck's best songs.

Also working on some beats for the next Sam Kammerude/Kid Icarus rapsterpiece.

Glad that Spring is here. I'm celebrating it by revisiting Le Sacre du Printemps. Tonight I will find a virgin and make her dance herself to death. Or maybe go for a bike ride.
Can God Create a Debate More Shitty Than Any Debate He Could Create?

There is a scene in Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries where two young men argue and eventually come to blows over a disagreement on whether God exists. After they scuff themselves up and settle down, their beautiful young friend Sara ironically asks the two, "So...did you decide if God exists?".
This quote, besides making me seem quite smart by referencing Bergman, came to my mind after witnessing one of the more distressing spectacles in my young life. It was a debate at the University of Minnesota on the existence of God coordinated by the Campus Atheists and Secular Humanists (or CASH-get the money, dolla-dolla bill ya'll). The two debatees, atheist Dan Barker from the Americans for Freedom From Religion and young evangelical radio host Todd Friel, elicited whoops, hollers, laughs and cheers from a suprisingly large crowd. No converts to either side. Just lots of whoopin' and hollerin'.

Dan Barker

Barker, a former evangelical minister who had the advantage in the debate of knowing the Bible quite well, was a quiet, articulate but ultimately helpless little man who also had the disadvantage of mentioning a CD he recorded of "free-thought songs". Immediately embarassed this man was on my side, I momentairly converted to Seventh-day Adventist. But thankfully I came to my senses, and decided any harm done by "God-less America"was undone quickly by his opponent.

Todd Friel

Freakishly tall (I was sitting high up in the auditorium, but I would guess Friel is about 8'6/8'7.) and dressed with a blue polo shirt tucked into size 68 black khakis, Todd Friel looks a little like a bad 80s stand-up comic, which I was not suprised to find out he was .
He still in many ways is a comic whether he admits it or not; indeed, his apparently Ionescoian sense of absurdist humor was evidenced throughout the whole "debate". Host of the ultra-conservative Christian radio show 'The Way of the Master', a AM dial companion to the Kirk Cameron television show in which Kirk Cameron and a suspiciously mustachioed Australian gentleman bother people on the street and tell them they are going to hell. This entirely disagreeable enterprise of interupting people's lives in public to tell them they are going to burn eternally is sometimes known as "saving" people, or 'spreading the good news.'

Kirk Cameron

Cameron, who sometimes co-hosts Friel's show as Friel sometimes appears on the television 'WOTM', is absolutely on another planet now. And needless to say, Boner doesn't visit there much anymore. Star of the highly successfully hilarious "Left Behind" movies, Kirk Cameron's boy next door good looks have slightly morphed into a soulless gaze and robotic smile.
One show I listened to with Cameron co-hosting showed the former child-actor, though all actors are usually at some point former children, to be a strangely vacous and bland man who can talk a lot of brimstoned shit. An atheist caller tried to engage Cameron in a kind-spirited exchange of chit-chat which Cameron uncomfortably obliged with all-too fake niceities before diving right into the Jesus talk. Cameron is a goner. A loon. No hope of reaching him again. He's dead.

Quite alive in another sense, and as tall as a gigantic freaking white man, Friel is more blunt and bold under the 'I'm a cool guy too, kids!' guise. Where Cameron is 'oh shucks' and 'golly-gee', Friel will find a way to blame Hurricane Katrina on homosexuality, AND use the word 'dude'! But Friel's personality is still very much bad 80s comedian, or perhaps the super lame camp counselor with a dark side who seems like a fun, goofy young guy, but didn't mind beating you senseless behind the canoe shelter after he found out you ate all the smores at the weenie roast.

Even before the debate started, it became clear where the audience largely stood. Expecting a mostly college crowd, Friel and other local right-wing talk show hosts announced the debate on the radio the day before, urging evangelicals and devotees of ambiguous moral values to show up and show their support for their lanky representative (the one not hanging on the tree).

Salt of the Earth

And show up they did! See the ignorant and Fat, white, dumb and ugly men and women bring their screaming babies and 12 children for a night of fun! Rarely have so many Chilli Cheese Fritos-stained hands clapped for a awkwardly stated and haggardly argued form of the Ontological argument! Rarely has Patrick been so depressed!

Oh it was a great debate. Did I mention that? Oh that's right because it wasn't.
Dan Barker, soldier for reason and logic he is, mentioned philosopher Daniel Dennett current work in the wonderful "Breaking the Spell"(he proposes the concept of God or gods are evolutionary viruses we have yet to throw off) and other arcane and difficult propisitions about God before realizing that Friel wasn't there to split theological hairs. It then became a tennis match of clever one-liners and jabs. Friel started each of his answers with absurd non-arguments and then used his remaining time to urge us sinners to give up our paganism and "faith" in science and embrace the angry and righteous God. All he needed to prove his assertions was the Bible, which is technically the almost pataphysical assertion Christians and other religious people make with their holy books, "The Bible says God exists and the Bible is right because the Bible says God created the Bible". All this was phrased with the irritating skill of a used car salesman: What do I have to do to get you into a Heavenly Kingdom today?

Barker stood his ground and asked point-blank if the righteous and just God who Friel spoke of was justified in killing 3000 people on 9/11. Friel said with a straight-face: "Yes. They deserved it." (Uncomfortable but audible applause from the Christians and gasps from me and every other person with a head on his shoulders).
At every chance, Friel used the 'Watchmaker' argument which I, and everyone else with a head on his shoulders thought was dead. "Evolutionists would see a calf coming out of a mother cow and think it ran into the back of it's mom on accident". "Evolution has no evidence." "Homosexuality will equal death". All of this elicited huge amounts of cheering from the crowd. I honestly almost threw up in rage. And throwing up in rage is not as fun as it sounds.

Arguing over the existence of something that cannot be understood and has no real definition is
silly, but there are several real issues that can benefit from fruitful discussion between atheists and theologians. I studied with Catholic brothers who were Jesuit trained. Brilliant, brilliant men who could quote Aquinas, Nietzsche, and Darwin back and forth. They were believers. They were usually great guys. Fascinating guys. But they were also something a lot more important: intellectually honest. If something could be proved to them-they would believe it. People like Friel and his ilk are dishonest and liars. They will deny facts to remain fit their narrow-minded ideology. They are hateful, cruel and largely insane. Period. In fact, more than period. Menopause.


During the debate I sat next to a friend and a group of kids between 15 and 18 who were obviously part of some teenage Christian group that loved Friel's brand of jolly gloom and doom. They cheered on everything Friel said. They snickered at Barker's arguments without understanding them. They passed around a miniature bible and pointed out verses to each other. Everytime I laughed loudly at Friel's absurdity they scowled at me and whispered. For them, they know, I am going to burn in hell for eternity when I die.

I know the human mind has its limits, but does that make any Goddamn sense?