- It seems that when it comes to the US election, it's all in the family. George Bush and John Kerry are ninth cousins, twice removed. In geneaological terms, that means Bush is more related to Kerry than 99.99% of people on the planet. The conspiracy theorists are going to have a field day. Personally, I'm simply amused by the names. Hannah Anna? Waite Still? Priscilla Whippo? And people today complain about weird/terrible names?
- A couple of days ago, I happened to notice a story that 380 Imperial tons (pretty sure it wasn't metric tonnes) of explosives had mysteriously vanished from an Iraqi munitions facility on the USA's watch. Since then, I've caught barely any news and when I did see the story, both sides of the debate were spinning it their own way, so I still don't fully know what to believe, but whatever the case, if this story is indeed becoming huge on the basis that the US managed to lose enough weapons to cause a Lockerbie a day from now until mid-November 2005 or a car bombing a day for 200 years, then Bush will not be re-elected. One can only hope for such good fortune. If Bush does get himself re-elected, I think the vanishing explosives will reappear in, uh, typically explosive fashion.
I'd also like to see some expressions of interest regarding debates on this journal. There have been two in the past that I have greatly enjoyed, and I would like to hold them more regularly if anyone is interested. Feel free to suggest topics or better ways to conduct the debates. I don't think we really went anywhere with the last debate, so if enough people are interested, I propose that the next debate return to the topic of 'that there is a monotheistic deity'. Who would like to join in?
This evening, we had the semi-finals of the speech competition. Yes, we got lost on the way there. Yes, we were still the first to the room. Yes, I'm punctual even when I get lost. It's scary. (Yes, on the rare occasions that I'm late, I'm late in style. Yes, by 'in style', I mean by at least two hours. My record is seven.)
Everyone else soon turned up, and it was most amusing to discover that out of the six speakers, FIVE of us were presenting speeches on the decline of Western civilisation. Even more interesting is that we all offered different perspectives. Afterwards, Mum observed that mine was the most intellectual, and I quickly followed that with "and it was also the most pessimistic." That was possibly the closest speech competition I have competed in; all of the speakers were either very good in their manner or matter, or both. The judges took ages to make their decision, and when they returned, we were somewhat surprised by the decision. I didn't make it to the final, which didn't bother me too much because I'd already had my fun and if we were finished early enough (i.e. did not progress to the final), I got Subway out of the deal. What surprised me is the one person who did not speak on the decline of Western civilisation (in typical Axver fashion, I failed to catch her name) failed to progress. I frankly think her speech was the best of the lot. The only reason I can create to explain why she didn't make it is because perhaps the adjudicators saw it as more of a performance than a speech. Out of the two who did make it, one was from AB and thus it is no surprise he got through, and the other girl ... she probably wasn't the best, but she quoted Sunday Bloody Sunday, which in my books merits instant progression (or not, but it was still pretty neat to hear someone other than myself quote U2). I actually wanted to talk to her afterwards to ask if she was a fellow fan, but as it was, I ended up talking to the girl who I felt should have made it and her sister (of course, I failed to catch her name too). We ended up having a great conversation and it was a shame to leave. Yes, be amazed, I actually enjoyed a social situation with someone I did not know. Is there a blue moon out or have pigs learnt to fly or something?
On the drive there and especially on the drive home, Mum and I cranked The Unforgettable Fire up REALLY LOUD. I'm telling you, that album is a masterpiece and it begs, absolutely BEGS to be blasted out over the landscape, from the peaks of the mountains into the deepest valleys. It's so wonderfully anthemic and atmospheric at the same time, and crafts some of the most awesome sonic landscapes. Would those people who only know U2 as "those Beautiful Day/Vertigo guys" even recognise this album? It's sad that they wouldn't, because it's a masterpiece. And really, if you don't recognise Pride, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN FOR THE LAST TWO DECADES? If you were old enough to have watched Live Aid in 1985 and don't know Bad, WHERE WERE YOU? We roared down the motorway with Pride up as loud as our ears could handle, and shot through the suburbs to the tune of Bad.
Besides Where The Streets Have No Name and possibly New Year's Day and (the song) The Unforgettable Fire, I believe Bad is arguably the best song ever made. You need to hear it live to truly appreciate it. This desperation, desolation, separation, condemnation, revelation, isolation, RELEVATION! ISOLATION! REVELATION! ISOLATION! LET IT GO!, uh-huh, and so faaaade awaaaaay, to let it go, uh-huh, and so fade, fade, fade awaaaay! If you look at the music to this song, it's actually very simple; Edge, for the most part, plays just two notes. But it truly is the very zenith of minimalistic guitar. It is the song on which Edge perfected his craft and set the benchmark for every minimalist to follow. You don't need to play a lot of notes to craft a brilliant song. And the live performances! This is the song that was approximately six minutes in the studio but became up to 15-16 minutes live. They just kept playing. My two favourite versions would be the twelve-minute one from 5 February 1985 or the nine-minute one from 8 November 1987 (that's on the Rattle And Hum movie). It's such a magnificient song.
On that U2-ish note, Mum is saying that a good idea for me might be to defer university by a year and follow U2 around overseas (namely in the States). She says that her and Alan will help me along, and ... I can't say I am opposed to the idea. One song I am very much looking forward to hearing live (or even a complete studio version!) is Original Of The Species. I'm sure the U2 fanatics on my friends list are already well aware that a minute of a live performance by Bono and Edge has leaked, and I must say that it sounds fantastic, much like UF meets Passengers/Original Soundtracks 1. When I heard the title, I thought it would be a rocker, but Edge is on piano, and I think it will be stunningly beautiful. This album shall be amazing, that is for sure.