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Taking it straight

(11/17/04 5:00am)

In a motley motel room 20 miles east of Memphis, where the only thing cheaper than the beds was the liquor we spilled in them, I stood staring into a rusted mirror behind a bathroom door which on another night had been broken in violence. Outside, my companions drank their shares of the night’s conquest and smoked to the rhythm of lo-fidelity music spitting from crappy laptop speakers.

What's a fingerhut?

(11/03/04 5:00am)

For the past several months my life has been hijacked by CNN and MSNBC. I am an election coverage addict. So deeply in tune with the oscillations of the news cycle, I could scarcely be bothered to leave my couch for trivial things like classes, meals and bodily hygiene. And today, with election results coming in, and the cable channels unveiling a 24-hour parade of Wolf Blitzers, Chris Matthews and Anderson Coopers, I surely couldn’t be bothered for something so menial as voting.

Intellectual condoms

(09/08/04 4:00am)

Last time I checked, scientists had not documented any conversationally transmitted diseases. Yes, despite a culture of rampant diversity and multiculturalism set in an era of unprecedented information flow, it remains safe to entertain mind-altering discussions with any number of different partners night after passionate night. And yet, instead of experimenting with new and unfamiliar situations, instead of rolling the dice on the chance of intellectual ecstasy, we are content to trade exotic romance for another night of cold pizza, cheap beer and old friends in a symbiotic circle-jerk. While there is a certain comfort in familiarity, at a certain point one must question the motivation for continued abstinence from new experiences, especially given the apparent lack of consequences. Why, then, do we continue to practice safe syntax?

Commentary - A game theory of relationships

(01/20/04 5:00am)

Allow me please to paint a picture; a picture most of you have probably experienced at least once or twice and perhaps many more times than that. You meet someone, and start hanging out with them on a regular basis. Weeks pass by and you continue to enjoy the company of said someone. Somewhere along the line, you start to wonder about the romantic prospects of your budding relationship. You suspect your someone is having similar thoughts, but despite any evidence you might have seen you insist that you cannot be sure. It becomes increasingly clear that a conversation looms. Sooner or later the two of you must fess up to your feelings or watch the relationship die away. For the sake of argument we'll assume that both of you do like each other and would ideally like to pursue a romantic relationship if all goes well. Eventually, one of you utters the fateful words: we need to talk. Thus, the trap is set.

Column: Flood Durham and Sack Chapel Hill

(10/16/03 4:00am)

One cannot read The Chronicle editorial page these days without happening across another claim of racism or cultural insensitivity levied by one interest group against another here at dear old Duke. From the maelstrom surrounding the Sigma Chi party and the subsequent demands to the more numerous and less severe claims of social segregation and media bias that dot the daily opinion landscape, it seems we are a campus divided against itself.

Column: When mulch was hot lava

(09/25/03 4:00am)

Over the summer I worked as a summer hire for the Department of the Navy. The command I worked for, like any good Navy command, had a summer picnic where the families of the sailors and civil servants came together for an afternoon of beer, burgers and good, clean, American fun. After hob-knobbing with my coworkers for a bit, I became tired of the formality and expectation of adult conversation and went in search of an activity somewhat less boring.

Commentary: Deep fried twinkies and the American dream

(06/12/03 4:00am)

As hot summer air settles in across the American landscape, the sweltering masses flock to their favorite leisure venues in search of the latest innovations in underwhelming entertainment and overpriced food. Being the good citizen that I am, I followed the smell of grease and the sound of cheering straight to my local minor league ballpark. Walking through the concourse on the way to my seat, I was assaulted by a myriad of food and beverage choices. All of the usual suspects were there: the hamburgers, the hotdogs, the cheese fries in the mini batting helmet, but I was in no mood for ancient and ordinary. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw a sign: Deep Fried Twinkies.

GUEST COLUMN: The symptoms of the poser

(05/29/03 4:00am)

Economists say that the middle class in the United States shrinks every year. As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, those left in the average income no-man's land struggle to come to grips with an American dream fading faster than the paint on a mid-90's Ford Tempo. The storied middle-American ideal of the two-story house with the white picket fence in suburbia is no longer a fortress of solitude for the average man. It has become the cave of the unwilling hermit, hiding from the polarizing socio-economic forces that threaten to tear his world apart.