To: Loser Boy 
Subject: lit-l: Re: I hate microsoft 
In-reply-to: Your message of "Sat, 24 Apr 1999 00:59:10 CDT."
Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 03:26:27 CDT
From: Josh Kortbein 
Precedence: bulk
X-UIDL: 748bd2fd263e9b1d2ff2f501ba5b76ba

Loser Boy writes:
>So I'm working on my paper, on my laptop, in the privacy of my own bedroom,
>sitting in my big comfy roomy brown armchair. My mac is out in the general
>basement area for my family to use. So it's not the best thing on which to
>do work.
>So I'm using MS-Word, since that's basically the only word processor I've got
>on my laptop, and, well, to tell you the truth, I've slowly been getting
>used to it throughout the last year. Mind you, I haven't mastered it, haven't
>gotten it to do things that WordPerfect let me do, but, all in all, I've 
>been able to get it to do the mostly simple things I want to do. Which 
>shouldn't be too hard, since Word is supposedly the great word processor 
>that mankind has ever known.
>The format of my paper is pretty much laid down. The lefthand column should
>contain the scene we're trying to stage. So it's all Shakespeare. The right-
>hand column should contain our comments (many lines of comment per one line
>of text, so the column of Sh. text will be populated with much white space).
>In other words, they're supposed to be side-by-side columns, not newspaper,
>wrap-around to the top of the page columns. I can't figure out how to do it.
>Finally, after much experimentation with the plethora of column break options
>Word provides, I resort to the online help facilities. It says that I 
>shouldn't use regular columns; I should use a blank table, two columns wide,
>and then fill it with text instead of numbers. So I try to do that. Still 
>won't do what I want.
>Now, I don't believe I've ever done this side-by-side thing before. At this
>point, I was wishing I owned pagemaker. I decided to fire up my Mac and see
>if maybe WordPerfect or ClarisWorks or NisusWriter (or even BBEdit!) could
>do this seemingly simple task. Took me about two minutes to figure it out in
>WordPerfect. Nice little radio buttons in the Columns dialog box: newspaper,
>side-by-side, extended. Side-by-side worked, but only for a single page. So
>I chose extended, and now everything's hunky-dory. 
>Btw, do you know if there are any WYSIWYG word processors based on TeX? I
>always thought that would be kind of a cool program to have. Even though I've
>never actually used TeX. But I hear it's supposed to be pretty good...

This is mostly first-time writing, things that I've wanted to
get on paper for a while now. On reflecting after writing, I
think it's not at all what I wanted, but having it down will
allow me to think about the material more.

Of course, I listen to music constantly. I listen to music while I
wait for the bus, I listen to music on the bus. I listen to music
while I walk around on campus. I listen to music while I read,
while I write proofs, while I eat lunch. I listen to music when
I program. I listen to music at Anna's. I listen to music when I
read my mail and news.

Of these I think that the music I listen to while reading my mail,
at home in my room, is that which I most want to share with my friends.
Not that that music is necessarily really different from the music
I play at other times. But sometimes it's quiter, or more contemplative.
Mostly listening to this music makes me want to share it because,
even though there was music that, say, two years ago, really moved me,
since then I've found so much more music that moves me so much more.
It's sometimes slightly lonely that I don't have much chance to share
that thing that I find special. I think maybe one could draw a parallel
between this and, say, programming, or writing, but that this is a
special case because though listening can have an active component
it can also be done passively - and more importantly, without (much)
preparation. That is, it's much more _possible_ to share my music,
and hence myself, with my friends.

Tonight I'm listening to the Red House Painters' _Songs for a Blue
Guitar_, which is sort of strange for them in that it contains
lots of acoustic and barely-electricly-backed ballads, laments,
waltzes, dirges, and such, but also contains three roughly-ten-minute
songs containing (quiet, in a sense) noisy guitar freakouts - two
of which are (very distinctively RHP-ish) covers of Yes's "Long Distance
Runaround" and Paul McCartney's "Silly Love Songs."

Now, one thing I love about this disc, which I haven't had very long
[consulting database] - bought it this year, sometime after ISU went
to the UMKC Shootout - is how fragile and delicate it seems. I _must_
have some classical music that I might characterize as fragile and
delicate, but none really come to mind. Bach strikes me as too intricate
to be those things. Most later Germans and Germanics are far too
heavy. Mozart, interestingly, seems to have too much motion. The
songs on this CD seem to often have _some_ urgency to them, yes, but
also a reserve, a hanging-back, which gives me pause. Satie is
perhaps similar, but I would only agree when comparing the album
to his Gymnopedies, and only then Debussy's orchestration. I haven't
heard the original piano version but I imagine them to be much more
like his solo piano works than I would prefer (I like them for different

And another thing that gets me. This fragility seems to owe a great
deal to the sparseness of the arrangements - down to the very spacing
of the guitar notes, the way the chords break apart. If I compare
RHP in this way to the music of Low, in which I find a similar attitude,
I find some kind of verification. _I Could Live in Hope_ is really
strongly produced, compared to _The Curtain Hits the Cast_ and
_Songs for a Dead Pilot_. _Hope_'s sound is much smoother, more homogenous -
the production adds a bit of a ring, and notes connect more to other notes.
_Curtain_ is much sparser, sonically - guitar notes become more separated.
Not due actually just to the production, but also a different style
of writing. 

One reason I group this disc with Low is the moods in which I find myself
when listening to them. The cause and effect are not really clear to
me at the moment. It's not clear that they ever could be anyway. At
first, Low simply sounds "quiet" or "slow." Well, at first, before
repeated listens. At some point, Low started sounding "sad." Later
I realized that was overly simplistic. In the ultra-slow, quiet music,
strange things began to happen. Slight dissonances, perhaps taken as
modus operandi in your standard modern rock song, become wrenching
at times. Combining these with "sad," I begin to hear resignation.
Violence - not the death metal / goth / grindcore variety, but the
subtle sort that has taken its toll over time, in small superpositions.

But also hope. Anna once went to a Christian type get-together with
her friend Anna. She said that when talking to someone in the band,
she mentioned that they sounded like Low (I bought her a copy of
_Curtain_ - more hopeful sharing). The band member was surprised to
hear it, not because he didn't think so, but because most people have
never heard of Low. The reason I think this is interesting is that
Low make for some very spiritual, sacred-sounding music at times.
This is not to imply that they're some sort of religious group,
in the sense that DC Talk or their ilk are. To the contrary - Low's
lyrics are generally very secular (the only exception I can think of
offhand is the song "If You Were Born Today (Song for Baby Jesus)"),
and often sort of fragmentary and disjoint, which suits the songs well.
For me this "spiritual" and "sacred-sounding" refers to the music,
the sound itself. This is something I never heard in church music.
Perhaps that's partly due to my background and upbringing; Methodist
hymns don't really approach, for me, the mythical ideal of sacred music
of old. The music of Hildegard von Bingen, sung by Anonymous 4, does,
somewhat. After that my listening choices are somewhat limited anyway.

The lyrics do have something to do with this. The Dirty Three are
not too similar at all musically to these two groups, but I group
_Ocean Songs_ as somehow near Low and Red House Painters, conceptually.
The major thing separating the three, for me, is that the Dirty
Three have no vocals, and hence no lyrics. Then again, I don't
understand Latin, so von Bingen's lyrics don't do much at all for
me, except perhaps in terms of the phrasings implied by the words
she chose (and the ones with which Anonymous 4 supplemented hers).
Perhaps the distinction might be that the Dirty Three provide more
perspective; their music seems more like memories from the past,
whereas Low's and the RHP's seem more direct.

Back to the moods. An important aspect of them is that they're
not uniform - Low offer both sides of the coin, though it's not as if
the binary opposition were the proper one for me to make. Rather,
they're rich; multifaceted; interconnected. The Red House Painters
offer something similar, as do the Dirty Three.

And as for TeX, TeX is antithetical to WYSIWYG, and furthermore, you
don't want to have to learn that much to write a paper anyway.
Though I thing I've seen some heretics offering solutions of the
sort you want.


Is that a real poncho or a Sears poncho?

How do YOU take off YOUR shirt?