Music in Dissolve

I don’t listen to much music. Well, not anymore. I have to start off by letting you know that I do understand the depth that music can entail — I appreciate it as an art. Unfortunately, it’s an art I don’t have time for. In the twenty-first century, the world is overflowing with art. We have music, films, television, advertisement, videogames, board games, books, sculptures, paintings, drawings, dances, sports — by the beard of Zeus I could go on forever. No one can consume everything. Except, maybe the moon from Majora’s Mask.

To make matters worse, I’m a staunch believer in perpetual amelioration. I need to learn, constantly, and endlessly. I hardly ever focus on anything that won’t strengthen my familiarity with a subject, or, teach me something new entirely. There is only so much time in a day that I spend with headphones in my ears. Most of my free time is spent reading articles, playing videogames, or watching movies. Now you should know I’m a slow reader, and I try to fully immerse myself into the world of every videogame I play. Where’s the time for books? Books don’t fit in with my lifestyle, because, as mentioned before, I’m a slow reader — so I listen to audiobooks for the most part. Anytime I don’t spend listening to audiobooks, I fill with podcasts, or audio-documentaries.

I still listen to music every so often — about once a week really. Even then it’s maybe four songs in row, and only because I’d like something nice stuck in my head before I go to work. My middle-school self would simply sit in his room and listen to the latest metal or punk artist’s album for hours on end. In high-school, I would listen to music while commuting and pick up new songs from friends. But when I got into university I just… stopped. Not exactly sure why, but for me, music doesn’t serve as much of purpose anymore. I still love music in films, and videogames — it can really set and impose atmosphere. However I can’t keep up with new music, and I don’t know even know what to do when actually listening to music.

Jigglypuff, upset.

I’d like to apologize to this upset starlet.

That’s another thing, I’m a ridiculous multitasker when I’m not playing videogames. If I’m listening to something, it’s an accompaniment to a more tangible task. For instance, if I’m eating, I’m either listening to a podcast, or watching something. If I’m gardening, I’m most likely listening to an audiobook. My lifestyle — and I’d like to emphasize my — doesn’t hold listening to music as a productive activity. Unless you’re completely submerged in music theory, writing, or integrating it into another art, then I don’t see how it benefits anything. I guess it can also be cathartic, but again, I have other means of catharsis, namely exercising and writing.

I love music, but I can’t just listen to it. I need to be productive, and manage as many of my interests as efficiently as possible. That means tying podcasts and documentaries to my physically demanding tasks (I’m using ‘physically demanding’ in the most liberal sense possible). For that reason, I always feel like I’m losing something when it comes to merely listening to music — like I’m missing an opportunity to learn something new, or hear an opinion I don’t share. As said before, I know there’s a lot that can be learnt from listening to music, especially if you’re well versed on the topic. But I’m not. I wasn’t very interested in music classes in middle-school, and I never took them in high-school. I could learn from scratch today, though without an interest, I can’t build a foundation to appreciate all the work that goes into the art.

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Floral Calendars

When it comes to summer, time passes without notice. I’ll wake up on a Monday morning, drink a cup of coffee by the window, look to see if I can spot the bird responsible for the nonstop chirping, and think to myself, — I have my whole week ahead of me. Nay, month. Nay, summer. I don’t look at my calendar much in the summer. During school year, I kind of have to. But in the summer, unless you’re working full time, there’s not much an incentive to finding out what the date is.

For me, weekdays pass, and that’s all I see. I know the month as well — it’s kind of hard not to, but I never know the actual date. Because I have a backlog of movies and videogames, there’s even less reason to pay attention. Though since the great Canadian spring ended, I’ve found a new way to watch time progress.

Everyday I step into my backyard and look at the plants. Everyday they’re changing. So I instantly compare them to how they looked the day before. This shows a sense of progression going about the world, while I’m just relaxing by playing my 3DS or rereading Shakespeare plays. Real talk: I’m not writing this as some deep statement about life or my feelings about my summer lethargy. I just really like to see those plants grow. I’m not sure what is, maybe catharsis? It’s quite infrequent compared to my window dazes, but I do find myself going outside to just look at the trees and plants, to see how they’ve changed.

A time lapse of plants growing.

So I’ll admit this four days apart, but it’s still quite the development!

It’s a shoddy way to tell the time, especially with plants eventually reaching a point of maturity that they can’t overcome, but I like it. Until that point I can still look to plants to see the profits of nature’s hard work, while I sit about the garden reading. Stems elongate, leaves widen, flowers blossom and in the end they fall apart. You can see the entire life cycle of an ecosystem proliferate before your eyes, and then witness their death as they prepare for the next generation.

I’m not watching them with malevolence, mind you. I’m not particularly sad to see plants die each year either — I’m uninterested in that respect. It’s their development I find mesmerizing. I’m fascinated by biology as a whole, and this effortless monitoring of a plant’s growth is just a product of my intrigue. For me, botany is a riveting field of science, and at the same time serves as an account of nature’s autonomous development. Well, semi-autonomous. I don’t want to discredit the hard work of blue collar workers like bees, wasps, flies and the like — all cooperating as a contingent for the good of their ecosystem. And of course the fine folk responsible for the zoochory when summer winds down. All for me to watch a clock without hands and a calendar without numbers.

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The Tip of the Post-apocalyptic Iceberg

So let’s get this out of the way: AMC’s The Walking Dead is quite the disappointment. I can usually distance adaptations from their source materials, but when it comes to The Walking Dead, I can’t help but sigh. The comics weave a smart, dense, and depressing drama. You’d think the writers of the show may have taken some notes. Though instead of developing interesting characters, it relies on cheap drama, contrived simply to make the audience empathize with the social roles they represent. There’s a lot of gripes I have with the show, and as result there’s a lot I can go on about. But what I find most irritating, beyond the overall tepidity of darker themes, are these gimcrack tactics to incite emotion, which assume the audience to be mindless, and susceptible to any superficial manipulation of societal roles.

Spoilers follow.

Carl, son of Rick Grimes, plays the shattered innocent. He has little character, if at all, and serves no purpose than to burden the rest of the group with his antics. Now anytime I tell people how barren his persona is, or about how his asinine exploits are used to deliver tension to otherwise monotonous activities, they always give me the same answer: He’s a kid. A boy. That’s it?! The writers used a ‘corrupted innocence’ character arc; a quick, simple, and tried manner to depict how cutthroat post-apocalyptia really is. Doesn’t matter how desiccated this amoeba may be — no, not at all. What matters, is the surface value: boy meets world.

Then of course there’s the mother. Ah yes, the mother. She represents care, forgiveness, and… the mother. There you go. The writers have another chance to avoid building an interesting character, because this societal role — like a child, is prime real estate. Everyone has, or has had, a mother. So everyone would feel bad if they saw one die, regardless of whether she’s interesting. That’s the mentality these writers seem to harbour. Beyond the first season, Lori Grimes barely develops at all. She went from a mother caught in a love triangle, to a mother upset with the results of said love triangle, to a pregnant mother. That’s it. But the writers must salivate at how easy it is to make people relate with her, because, she’s a mother. They must be beaming with joy to have banked on a societal role, rather than put any effort into her personality. How she died, I’ll admit, was gruesome and effective. However all that momentum is rendered mute, because her character did nothing for the show or the audience. Unless of course, her final scene is impactful merely by the default surface value of Lori being a mother, and Carl being her son.

An undead Sophia.

Much like dear, darling, Sophia. I’ll admit I was surprised to see a decaying little girl shamble out of a decrepit barn. Though the problem I have with Sophia’s startling reveal is that the same ploys are utilized to make the most out of nothing. See, Sophias’ death would have been impactful, if she had a personality. But there’s no gravity to her expiration because there’s no weight to her character. Perhaps more modestly than in the show’s illustrated counterpart, a spark of puppy love is lit between Sophia and Carl. This could have been further explored, adding at least an ounce of depth to her character — but digress, my point is that this light romance is all that Sophia had. She had a mother, she liked Carl, and she’s a little girl. Note that if she was a teenager or an adult, and that’s all you knew about her, the irrelevance of her death would have been further aggravated. But the writers of the show profited, not from writing off a relevant and interesting character, but killing off a poor, altricial, little girl.

It may seem like I hate kids, and that’s not the case. They’re curious, open minded, creative, and as a result, glow with personality. At work, I had a nice conversation with a seven year old boy who told me how much he loves Minecraft, because “there are no rules, and I can do whatever I want.” For those of you unfamiliar with the computer game, imagine a world of lego, where you could build whatever you want, with specific blocks that have specific effects, explore the preset world, or create your own. The game encourages discovery, creative problem solving, and self expression. That’s why he loves the game, he wanted his voice heard, and to have said voice, entails a personality to be expressed. The Walking Dead only uses societal roles like children, to pull on the audience’s heart strings. As far as my social media feeds go, it seems like it’s working. Unfortunately, I’m not giving the writers a free pass. They have to learn to write compelling roles, and lose the superficial claptrap they’ve been scribbling down for the past few years.

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I find the nomenclature behind ‘daydream’ intriguing because it contains the root dream, as well as the time of said dream. Yet when we sleep and have a dream, we don’t call it a sleepdream or a nightdream, it’s just a dream. You may argue that they’re two different states of mind, and I’d agree. On the biological stratum of oneirology, they are completely different as far as I know.

However on a conceptual basis, I think they’re providing the same function. My only knowledge of psychology comes from what I’ve heard, or anything I happen to remember from my first year of university, so this may be a bit rough. There’s apparently many reasons behind why we dream. But I’m particularly interested in the idea that what we see in a dream, is just our brains piecing together the events of the day. You’re mind is bored. That’s all. So, how does it cope? It just makes up a story. It’s like a taping together a disassembled book.

Daydreaming is the same, isn’t it? You’re just in a situation you rather not be in, and your consciousness simply removes the pressure by conjuring another presence, whether that’s a space and time you rather be in, or merely a different scenario. Shouldn’t we just call it dreaming? Is there really much of a difference as far as the idea goes?

Well, kinda. Adding the prefix ‘day’ does add some context to a conversation. But imagine saying “I had this dream where dancing pink elephants encroached my personal space and sang about this parade they’ve organized.” Could this have been a daydream? Personally, I don’t think that’s possible. To have a dream as bizarre as Dumbo had you’d have to be in a deep sleep – most likely part of a REM cycle – or be as drunk as our elephant friend was in his titular film. But, that would mean the context given by adding the prefix ‘day’, becomes redundant simply by the subsequent description of said dream. By virtue of learning and the human experience, we’ve all dreamed while awake and asleep. So we already know what to expect from a dream that occurs while we snooze, and one that occurs while our eyes are wide open. What’s the point of adding the prefix ‘day’? There isn’t one as far I’m concerned. It’s a syllable without reason.

Talon sleeping on the job.

Though if the content of the dream is what specifies the state of consciousness, the state may be rendered ambiguous if the subject matter is ordinary, like dreaming of watching a movie. This problem is solved by context given in a statement, purely by the innate descriptive qualities of conversation, in an age with narratives sewn into all forms of media. When you talk about a dream you had while awake, you will state and/or imply the location. For example “At work, I dreamt about all the useless things I’ll be doing on the computer when I get home.” Or “I dreamt of making snow angels while my boss yammered on about the dangers of being barefoot in the workplace.” In both of those sentences I either overtly placed my story in a location or implied an event that transpired, letting my partner in discussion assume that I was in fact, awake.

Again, there is virtually no reason to indicate your state of mind when describing a dream, as the description and context of it has already been, or will be established, by the nature of narration. I don’t plan on supporting my stance on the word daydream as I really don’t think it’ll catch on. Also, I feel like I’d disorient anybody listening to me if I didn’t specify the time with that worthless prefix. I don’t feel that’s a contradiction of my thoughts, because if I were to push the idea of dropping the prefix it would be widely ignored, given the nature of humanity’s refusal to change, as well as the word daydream already being a part of everyone’s vocabulary. But hey, it would be cool if they didn’t teach kids in school about the word daydream (I don’t know if they overtly do). Not because I want everyone to share my views on the uselessness of the word – but because it would just be another itch to scratch with creative young minds, as they focus on the meaning of the word itself (dream), and the power of implication as a means of description.

Here’s a fun fact. I wrote this kind of like a dream. This whole post is a byproduct of me dreaming about the concept of the daydream while looking around my kitchen for something to eat.

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Window Rabble

People are great. I don’t mind people most of the time. But I get somewhat annoyed with anyone walking about beyond my window.

I’m not sure why, but I really enjoy windows. Maybe it’s some psychological thing about watching the world from a secure location. Probably stems from my fascination and fear of marine life and outer space.

Whenever I’m in some deep thought about whatever the day provided, or coming up with solutions to problems long after they were relevant, I most often wake up from my trance in front of a window. It’s probably some visual escapism. Not that my life is all that difficult, just that’s it’s that grass is greener on the other side mentality that my fragmented mind must subconsciously flock towards.

Conscious or not I love staring out windows. Wouldn’t change this odd behaviour (if it even is uncommon) if I could. But when it comes to windows I don’t like people walking around outside. See, part of looking out of a window in complete bliss is to watch nothing, as nothing watches back. People walking around outside ruins this paradise though, as they stare at me staring out my window as if I’m the object of the situation. Or at least that’s how I feel.

My perspective.

My friend’s mother is always jogging down my street, and I  always fear that she may catch me staring out my window. Now I’m told she hasn’t jogged in a long while, and this idea of cautiously looking out my window is all in my head. Mind you I don’t do this any perverse manner. I just look out without reason or goal. My bedroom window holds the same annoyances. Neighbours practicing layups on their regulation size basketball net is yet another situation I’m vexed by. I have a desk by the window, where I write/read or spin in my computer chair as a means of exercise. But then there’s my neighbours jumping around outside and me trying not to think about whether they’re looking or not while I disorient myself.

Look, I’m not saying people can’t walk around outside whenever they want, or that they can’t walk by houses. I do it all the time. Personally, I just feel like walking around outside is natural, where as walking around my house and suddenly realizing I’ve been staring outside of a window for the past thirty seconds, must seem even stranger to someone looking in.

I’m making it sound like I’m really insecure. Really I just don’t like the idea that people may be watching me while I behave in a manner I don’t fully understand myself.

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Banana Slamma Poetry

Poetry is something I really didn’t enjoy in elementary school. Like most grade-school arts you’re kind of forced into expressing yourself by someone else’s rules, whether that be painting, music, writing or the many other ways. Though as I got older I began to appreciate the non-subtlety of metaphors and personifications.

A few days ago I was writing a post in a Facebook group for my part-time job, asking someone to take this shift that overlapped with one of my classes. But I realized my post was somewhat rhythmic and very familiar. It was kind of like…. a haiku! That dreadful BS I had to suffer through grade after grade. With this fire of nostalgia I started reading some of the countless haikus littered across the internet.

There’s a beauty in their simplicity that I never absorbed as a preteen. That great quotation from Hamlet about how “Brevity is the soul of wit,” (which I love even though I contradict in everything I do) really rung home this time, having only applied the concept to narratives and essays in the past. I think I read haikus for an hour straight after that Facebook post.

Point is, I was hooked. A few minutes later I started scribbling down some of my own haikus just to see if I can spark up some fun pieces from video games. The ones I conjured are somewhat similar to riddles. For some of them I thought “What emotion did I feel?” Or “How would I describe that thing’s base value?” So they’re not really poetic or thought provoking but more riddle-like and descriptive. Some are pretty specific and some are pretty open ended. I was just writing to kill time and to see if I could actually spit out some lines outside of an educational environment. T’was for kicks.

Millions are dying
Lives traded for currency
Don’t eat slowpoke tails

We’ll get them this time
We’re blasting off again
A star shines above

His zig-zag mustache
The mustard motor cycle
That obnoxious laugh

Chasing fruit is life
Our foes become our children
Power in numbers

My brother’s missing
The house creeks, but nothing moves
The owners are home

Footsteps of a blast
Trumpets command destruction
All remains are gold

Following orders
Strike by the white of his eyes
I am but a shell

Steps flow crimson
Kind steward trapped in heaven
Each painting, a home

She escapes the hold
Darkness exposes weakness
It was but a dream

A soul defends his kin
Xenophobia is bliss
Peace in unity

The absence of light
Distant growls of wollywogs
Remember the lost

Minds are in blossom
Kindness, a silent friendship
Guided by wonder

Pikmin on barbwire.

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Another Voice

It’s Friday, my day to catch up on Community – you know, that show still struggling to maintain its character since Dan Harmon was exiled. But closer to the end of the episode, I notice the ridiculous advertisement of yet another reality show: The Voice.Now I don’t watch reality TV and I’m not against them in any way, but I’m fascinated by their demand and even more so by how many there are. Particularly the talent show titles where people sing and judges criticize. I understand the appeal. Most people love this concept of performance, to be good at something, to be lauded for your efforts in something everyone relishes in: music.

But hey, we’re not all that great. Because of that our minds (I’m speaking for humanity in the Western world) turn to these talent shows where we perform vicariously through another vessel and live that moment for ourselves. If they’ve got talent, we’re happy with them. If they stink, we laugh and criticize with the judges. It’s the best of both worlds really; being proud of your talent or laughing at the lack there of. You can also see this in shows like Jersey Shore or any of those programs about “rich kids living together have problems too” that dispel the anxiety people have of being judged, by subverting attention to these objects, these charactertures of people you may know. It’s shows like these that are of some importance (I guess) because it let’s people feel good about themselves; security in judging instead of being judged.

Nicki Minaj sitting with her betters.

Nicki Minaj got lost, and decided to sit down with the rest of these folk.

Even sitcoms like Friends carry this core idea of the reality show, but subtly implements it by the use of characters like Phoebe or Ross. The manic pixie dream girl and the virgin-like academic are just a couple of “those” characters that are funny because they’re cartoon versions of people in our lives. Some shows aren’t as subtle, like say, I don’t know…. Big Bang Theory? A sitcom that’s in actuality a reality show pretending to sympathize with “geek” culture. I won’t even touch the subject matter, but here’s the gist of it: four losers in a confined space with an objectified portal for the audience.

I guess I’ve rambled on for too long and should probably get to my wonder (which will likely seem pretty short in comparison) of how many talent-based reality TV shows there are. Being the ludophile I am I see a lot of well done games that still appeal to the masses. But then I see their copycats. The shameless clones or brand new “innovative” titles throwing in any buzz words they can with their box art of a rugged young man appearing upset with a weapon in hand. The same thing is happening on TV, with cop shows and talent-shows but yet, they survive? It’s amazing honestly. In the video games industry studios are shut down, people are out of jobs and millions of dollars are lost because of clones and their inability to differentiate from their contemporaries. However, cable channels still churn out those nine thousand imitations of American Idol with new skins every year. I’m not sure what the ratings are with these copycat shows but apparently it’s enough to make a profit, which baffles me because I can’t imagine how many people are watching these imitations for them to still survive. The reason why this came to my attention was because how I don’t know much about reality TV and I don’t know how many are out there. And then I see this stupid advert of judges smiling at the base of my screen and it just hits me: I’ve been ignoring these talent-show commercials forever and never fully realized how many there are. I guess thats the… magic of television?

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