WINTER MUSIC

Oh man, another post I will spend way too much time putting together, while fully aware how rare it is for someone to listen to random songs on a random persons blog. LET’S GO!

In this hemisphere at this time of year, it means winter. And winter means cold. Granted, someone in Colorado might not agree with me on what qualifies as cold, but we can agree it’s colder than usual for all of us. Winter brings a lot of Christmas music, but that’s too cheery for this weather. It’s damp and cold. It looks depressing and, SAD tells us, it makes us depressed. That doesn’t mean the music has to be down, but maybe something that fits the mood better than A Holly Jolly Christmas. (yeah, Blue Christmas, Please Come Home, and Fairytale of New York are better, but still.)

These songs fit really well with the winter days. I like to go on walks with these playing in the headphones. Or play them on my fancy stereo to accompany the rain hitting the roof.

Nada Surf – See These Bones
Almost every Nada Surf song is great for winter (and rain), but See These Bones is perfect. See These Bones is a near perfect song. Day, night, hot, cold, whatever. The three melodies at the end of the song are beautiful. Everything is layered and still really clean sounding without being overproduced. Their album Let Go is a must have for every living person.

The Good Life – So Let Go
Wonderfully sparse song. It sounds pretty even though it’s a bit of a downer, lyrically. Turned up loud, you can hear every sound. Layered songs like the Nada Surf song above are great, but this sort of thing will always have a place in my heart.

Murder by Death – I Came Around
Very hard to pick a song by these guys. I loved their 2003 album Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them? and saw them in November of that year (with The New Amsterdams and Straylight Run). A lot of their songs are wonderful for slow, dark days. This stripped down live version is great, maybe better than the album.Oh, and a quick note about the name… it’s terrible. BUT it’s taken from a movie of the same name, so don’t hold it against them.

 

WINTER MUSIC

What’s your number?

Or AIM. We’re still using AIM right fellow kids?

I’m┬ástill at my parents house. It feels very lazy, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I also feel very young again.

I suppose it’s not the worst thing to return to these feelings. It’s awkward. I should be calling a girl and talking to her for the next 5 hours in an anxious whisper. Trying to tell her about the words and images I have bouncing around in my head. And trying to gauge what she thinks about driving as far as we can and setting up a new home wherever we stop. And coming to the realization that she’s not exactly as I to the idea as I am. She has matured a little faster than I have and her vision extends passed the next 12 hours. I’ll sort of see what she’s saying, but be less than convinced.

What’s your number?

Hey, Me!

What would you say to a younger you?

I’ve seen a lot of these posts. I thought I’d give it a go, just to see what comes out. I guess the point is that in taking the time to explain the little ways to deal with the world better, you are also reminding your current self to not return to those earlier and worse responses? I just don’t want to end up realizing that this current version is doing everything way worse than I was when I was younger. I’m gonna to talk to an around 15 year old me. Any time before that I was too alone for most of the social advice. All the other comments hold true for any of my younger ages.

Alright, let’s go.

1. School. You were pretty right on about school. Fuck that shit. Music is way more fun and it’s more important than the garbage they teach you. However, it’s a necessary evil because college can be awesome. While I still encourage you to skip class and have fun whenever possible, give your schoolwork a look every once in awhile. Not for grades, but for yourself. You do actually like some of these topics. You know that, but hormones and silly girls and independence and self discovery took over. All important things to explore at your age, though. Just keep in mind school is an option.

2. Girls. You were somehow too cynical and overeager to fall in love, at all times. I really don’t know how you were able to critically analyze everything about love and relationships while falling in love with every girl who had been to The Bottom of The Hill. I guess I’d say just calm down in general in this regard, but at the same time I appreciate those times. A little rough while experiencing them but teens are the right age to go all out. You never really get to love that crazy again, and for good reason. Try to enjoy it more.

3. Drugs. Way to stick to your guns here. Almost everyone you know is straight edge, and it’s nice to have that sort of reverse rebellion in common, buuuuuut, most of them are going to jump off that trend soon. They’re still cool, so don’t judge.

4. Friends. Maybe invest a little less in them. Friends are awesome but about 98% of them you won’t see again a year after high school. Watch out for the religious ones. They get super weird pretty soon. This should be a warning sign.
Again, enjoy it all more. Oh, and there’s gonna be some fights… try harder to make people get over that shit that ruins friendships.

5. Worry. Sorry, that’s not changing for you.

6. Ideas. These are good. Spend more time on these. They are everywhere but you tend to only pick up on the big ones. Give them all a look. It’s amazingly fun to destroy ideas. And good ones will help out a lot in your future.

7. Fashion. Cut your goddamn hair, a little. I know you don’t want people looking at you and it’s nice to separate yourself from the people who make fun of you, but it gets out of hand sometimes. Yes, you learned what gender deconstruction is, well done. You just don’t need hair that long. It’s a pain to keep looking nice and washing it wastes water. Keep it longer than most if you want, perfectly fine. Clothes-wise: I don’t know. I’m out of it still. Wear jeans more.

8. Parents. I swear they aren’t so bad. There’s not much I can say to you that would help. They want what’s best for you but also have their own ideas of what’s best for you. It may seem like they don’t understand, but they do, they simply hope you change your mind. It’s hard for parents. You won’t be one anytime soon, you’re welcome, but it isn’t fun to watch your child struggle. Listen, but don’t take things too seriously or too personally.

Hey, Me!

Thanksgiving

We are a few hours away It’s Thanksgiving here in California. I am alone in my apartment. It’s difficult to avoid thinking about the past in these situations. And since I will be driving to my parents house tomorrow, this is likely my only chance to write some words down.

My history with Thanksgiving isn’t fun for me to recall. It should be. When I was a kid, I spent every Thanksgiving at my grandma’s house. (My grandpa on that side died when I was a few months old. I’m told he liked me very much. I’m not sentimental towards family – though this post might suggest otherwise – but I am always disappointed I don’t get to have any memories of him. What I know of him is fascinating, and I’m sure it would have been nice to have him around during my childhood.) My family (mother, father, brother) essentially would wake up and leave for my Grandmas. My uncle and aunt would be there too, and very rarely, their children. I hate my cousins so I was always happen when they weren’t there. As for my memories of the day itself, I have a few, but almost none of my grandma. She would get everything ready, while my brother and I, and later just I, would run around playing. I have memories of playing board games with invented rules, and playing with hot wheels in the garage. They were nice times, but not much to look forward to, and I always complained about being forced to go. (Similar story for Easter, with a worse outcome that I will always regret.) I could have enjoyed myself more. I could have appreciated my grandma and parents. But I wanted to have more fun, or I wanted to be left alone, depending on the year. I rarely ever had an extended conversation with my grandma. Then she died when I was 12. It was really hard for me at the time because I felt I wasted my chance to get to know her. She was the first death I had to deal with. When I was a little younger my great grandma died, but I had only seen her once. I really didn’t know who she was and her dying didn’t force me to deal with what death actually meant. When my grandma died my whole world was redefined to include the concept of people never being around again. Someone can stop existing. Have fun explaining that to a child. That was tough for my little brain. And it was tough to shoulder that sort of regret and guilt.

The following years, Thanksgiving was a nonevent. I was moving into my especially confused teen years and we had nowhere to go, anyway. My brother soon moved out to go to college. For a few years, I didn’t even see him on Thanksgiving. When I was 17 and 18, I spent Thanksgiving completely alone. I had a few options, but they weren’t attractive to me and I decided to spend the day in my self-inflicted melancholy. One night, I ate at Jack in the Box on Thanksgiving night. All alone. Luckily, I had nice friends stop by to check on me later that night. Man… I really put them through a lot.

Eventually, I moved out of my parents house to go to college and definitely not to fuck about in a rock band… When I was serious about school again, I started going home more regularly and things got a lot better between my parents and I. A new Thanksgiving tradition-esque started.

In less than 10 hours I’ll be heading home to see my parents and my brother. I don’t have much extended family so that’ll be about it. We’ll talk about what I’m doing with my life. I’ll try to quickly move the conversation forward. We’ll talk about what my brother is doing. My mom will probably piss him off by asking too many questions. My dad will talk to me about science.

It’s a little strange not having a huge deal on Thanksgiving. I’ve been to friends places and there’s always 10-30 people. Extended families and family friends. Huge tables, gross amounts of food, and way too much noise. My day is almost like a regular dinner for most. Calm and fairly quick. Nothing like my friends or portrayals on tv.

I’ve rambled for FAR too long.

If someone makes it this far, amazing! For being such awesome readers, I’ll leave you the option of directing me to a band/song you love. And I promise I will listen to the song (or check out the band).

Thanks. Bye.

Thanksgiving

All Natural!

If you’re anything like me… I’m sorry. But also, it means you read a fair bit of science and pseudo-science. Everything from climate change to GMOs. There is endless “information” out there that is meant to mislead. One of the arguments I’ve always hated was the “it’s natural” argument, or the Appeal to Nature. You find it in people wanting to legalize marijuana, organic/health food supporters, opponents of gay marriage, etcetera. Then you see it when reading articles like this http://blog.amnestyusa.org/women/discrimination-is-not-natural-it-is-learned-ending-violence-against-women/

The headline is, “Discrimination is not natural; it is learned; Ending violence against women.” Besides being irrelevant to the topic at hand, the writer doesn’t even bother backing up the claim that discrimination isn’t natural. In fact, the only time nature is referenced at all is when the writer uses the same sentence in the post itself. Again, no details explaining the evidence we have showing the discrimination isn’t natural. The trouble is, there are very damning studies that show infants do have preferences when it comes to skin color and accents. This is just what I know off the top of my head, too. If an author is basing an entire argument over what is natural and what isn’t, then you can lose the argument without ever discussing the positives and negatives of the topic at hand. The appeal to nature argument is still prevalent somehow in everyday thinking when it doesn’t make any sense, whatsoever.

I hate this because it perpetuates lazy thinking and poor understanding. It may very well be true that discrimination isn’t natural (in humans?), but plenty of terrible behaviors are completely natural and that doesn’t make them okay! Just like completely natural plants can kill you, natural behaviors might not serve us any better. If you want to make a point, you can’t simply fall back on how you feel about it. That gets you nowhere because anyone else can resort to the same defense and you have a stalemate. If you want to hang your hat on this natural argument, then you better have a lot of data supporting your position. But even then, philosophically, it’s easy to destroy that argument. Simply ask, If discrimination were natural, would you then be happy to let it continue? Most people would say no because being natural is not the value statement you think it is.

The point that could be emphasized is how discrimination negatively affects so many people and how we should call on our reasoning abilities, even in the face of natural tendencies, to help put a stop to this. We humans have a level of awareness that is unrivaled. We can rebel against our natural feelings or behaviors when they do harm.

I’m a fan of Amnesty International. The blog itself isn’t terrible (although the bit about statistics isn’t exactly how statistics work, but I’ll let it go). It was just another example of a common and horrible argument.

All Natural!

Amateur

Caring is all out of proportion. I don’t think anyone would argue that they care more for their close family members than they do for the rest of the people around the world. There’s good reason to put more of your time and resources into your family, especially in our history, in terms of survival and thriving. To admit this is not to say we don’t care at all about everyone else. We certainly do, some more than others, and take time and money to support causes the world over, even other species. But undoubtedly, the great majority of people will be spending more money on family and close friends over the next month (or on their birthdays if you don’t celebrate any holidays). These family and friends are probably relatively well off in comparison to many people in the world. Yet, I’m still buying my best friend a comic book he’s capable of buying himself, instead of sending the money to a worthy charity.

Adam Smith captures this imbalance pretty well.

 

“Let us suppose that the great empire of China, with all its myriads of inhabitants, was suddenly swallowed up by an earthquake, and let us consider how a man of humanity in Europe, who had no sort of connection with that part of the world, would be affected upon receiving intelligence of this dreadful calamity. He would, I imagine, first of all, express very strongly his sorrow for the misfortune of that unhappy people, he would make many melancholy reflections upon the precariousness of human life, and the vanity of all the labours of man, which could thus be annihilated in a moment. He would too, perhaps, if he was a man of speculation, enter into many reasonings concerning the effects which this disaster might produce upon the commerce of Europe, and the trade and business of the world in general. And when all this fine philosophy was over, when all these humane sentiments had been once fairly expressed, he would pursue his business or his pleasure, take his repose or his diversion, with the same ease and tranquillity, as if no such accident had happened. The most frivolous disaster which could befall himself would occasion a more real disturbance. If he was to lose his little finger to-morrow, he would not sleep to-night; but, provided he never saw them, he will snore with the most profound security over the ruin of a hundred millions of his brethren, and the destruction of that immense multitude seems plainly an object less interesting to him, than this paltry misfortune of his own.”

 

To summarize, If you were going to have your finger cut off tomorrow, it would be the most terrible time for you that you can imagine, yet when tragedies befall those on the other side of the world, with absolutely no connection to you, you are perfectly capable of getting on with your life with minimal trouble.

It’s for good reason, too. Imagine if every tragedy crippled you emotionally. You’d never be able to get anything done, and would perhaps only be able to live with yourself if you heroically dedicated your life to helping others. A paltry donation and weekend volunteering wouldn’t cut it for you. So, having every death affect you as if it was your own mother isn’t necessarily a great way to live.

Even so, it’s sadly out of proportion, and perhaps a little more empathy extended to those we don’t know and never will, would improve the world in many great ways.

Amateur

Rude Comments About Holidays

Thanksgiving is in a few days for us Americans(!!!!!!!!!). The spirit behind the day is… who cares, really. It’s a holiday set up on an odd premise that everyone knows about but tries to forget because thinking about the people occupying this land before we, soon to be, Americans showed up and slaughtered them all to the point that they are so marginalized that most people forget of their very existence for about 11 months of the year, isn’t the most fun thing to think about. Now we have all their land only to become creepily xenophobic, when not flat out racist – love it or leave it. AMERICA! – and we spend our day, and week, remembering to give thanks. Something feels off.

It’s rare for a holiday to matter anymore. They’ve all lost their original meanings and are simply about spending time – if you are lucky enough to be a student and/or receive vacation days – with the people you love. The Winter Solstice isn’t so much the point anymore. (What’s that? People think it was about something other than the winter solstice? Weird.) Easter is about Bunny Eggs and chocolate (wait, what the fuck is that holiday about?). And now Thanksgiving is turning into Black Friday Eve, though somehow Black Friday starts on Thursday. But is it really that bad? Consumerism and wah wah wah, but we buy shit anyway, especially when the next month is Consumer-mas and I need to validate my relationships with other people in the form of material goods. It all depends, again, on how YOU choose to experience the day. For the last 4 or 10 years, I’ve gone out with my parents on Black Friday and picked up a few awesomely cheap movies and tv shows, as well as other random items. One year I got a camera, another I got an electric drum set and another I got a coffee maker for relatively cheap. All stuff I was looking for for some time, and had an opportunity to get at a decent price. Plus, record stores are now taking part in Black Friday so we get some special – though expensive – releases. Most aren’t my thing, but occasionally I get a rad new record. It doesn’t HAVE to be waiting in line for 10 days. People choose to take part in that. If that sounds terrible to you, then show up a few hours after the doors open and stroll through picking out what you want. Maybe the big ticket item will be sold out, too bad, but as conscious, thinking human beings we get to weigh the pros and cons and come to the conclusion that the wait wasn’t worth the price. Easy. Or, if it disgusts you that much, don’t go. Maybe there are some statistics out there, but I’d like to know how many Thanksgivings black friday actually ruins. Maybe you know hundreds of people who used to sit down with their family on Thanksgiving and enjoy a nice dinner with boring American Football (not the band) until Black Friday started and ruined their day. But I don’t. My guess is that those who are super insane about Black Friday and the types that didn’t have tons going on anyway. I know plenty of people who still sit down with the family. Have a lovely day of food and… forced conversation with extended family or family friends or significant other’s family. (Because we all love recapping what we’ve been up to lately to all those people we see 3 times a year and whose names escape us, right?). After all that catching up, who doesn’t need a new 90′ TV?

I’m checking amazon for their deals just after thinking about all the joy I’m about the experience.

Honestly, I love the holiday’s. I get to see my family, and my brother who lives a decent ways away. I pretty much only see him a handful of times a year. I get to sit down and feel like a kid again for a few days. The holiday’s themselves blend together. Their isn’t much meaning in them beyond that chance to relax and forget most of the chaos surrounding everyday life. A lot of my friends return home as well, and it’s a reunion of sorts. I enjoy that.

Rude Comments About Holidays