What is your normal?

The title of this alludes to what I want to discus today.

We speak of normal as if there is a ridged and long lasting definition for what it is. If we went by the first time I heard it in relation to someone’s life, it would include accepting the Gulf War and Bill Clinton is the president of the USA. Human rights were discussed but not universally implemented, smoking was far from being ban in most countries, and grade 13 still existed in Canada.

Social changes are inevitable, so what does it mean to lead a “normal” existence? It could be argued that the nuclear family, a steady paying job, and aspirations that are achievable are normal. Ironically, that cuts a huge swath of the population out of the definition. I mean, by definition, single children families, single parents, and the disabled would all be cut from the definition. Collectively, they make up a greater majority than the sample size. Would they no longer define normal?

This is why I choose to define normal for myself, in that I just define it as being comfortable in life.

Now, where this gets tricky is when people decide to compare and contrast. All because I cannot walk does not mean that I cannot have a normal day by my standards. This leaves me to wonder by what metric people are gading “normal” when it does not exist?

There are plenty of studies showing how 99% of the wealth is held by 1% of people (cite). Their lives are the ones portrayed in movies and TV shows, so are they the definition of normal? If majority reigns, normal should be living in destitute conditions under a communist regime. (looking at current populations of China and India [India is not communist, but does have a large population in poverty according to the World Vision poverty calculations])

I vote we all define our own normal. Our own place to keep our minds at peace. We have to survive this world, we should be able to dictate what we consider normal.

Something Old

This is a video from 14 years ago! LOOK AT HOW SKINNY I AM!!!!

I miss playing in this band. It was incredibly fun and formative. Not just as a musician, but as a person.

Being in a band teaches you how to interact with people. You have to get along with bandmates, you have to get along with promoters, and you have to get along with fans.

This show, in particular, predated our last album.

A Trite Existence

I wake up to the cat clawing at my face. He wants to be fed, and lets it be known. I have food to feed him, so I do so. I then go into the kitchen to make myself a coffee and some toast.

I am ravaged by guilt.

I am able to afford breakfast. I have pets because I can afford them. Barely, mind you, but I can. I even have a roof over my head and access to necessities. Lucky me.

I am white, male, and straight. It is horrible, but I feel so badly about it. I feel like life dealt me a hand of four kings, and I am complaining because there are no aces in my hand. There are days when I forget there are things for me to take advantage of because one day I need them, simply because I never need them.

I have been in a wheelchair for 6 years. Approximately 1% of people in the world are bound to a chair. So, for every small population that you can think of, that percent of the 1% is all there is in my world.

Does this give me the excuse to feel entitled? Should I just give up on everything and beg the world for hand-outs?

The biggest difference between my situation and most others is that, no, I was not born this way. No, I didn’t put myself in this situation. No, I refuse to look at anyone less for either doing so, or being so.

Yesterday, I found out that my ex-girlfriend has brain damage sustained during a foolish maneuver performed while being a teen aged girl. I have been trying to find a way to compartmentalize that since she informed me. It is not a case of accepting: it’s a fact that she has to deal with. I never would have known if I didn’t ask. We dated when I was 10 or so. It’s not like we’re super close and it would be stupid to have any sort of bad blood.

Accepting. That’s a term that I have a hard time believing that people cannot do. In some situations, being upset or angry will not change a thing. Most things are carved in stone, and refusing to let them become part of your life is detrimental. Refusal to adapt will literally make life unbearable.

I am sorry this post was so scattered. I got thinking about my friend and how gracefully they seemed to adapt to their situation, then I got thinking about the people who have the hardest time accepting my own situation even though it does not involve them. I’ll figure out something more organized soon.

Sing Along

Do you ever find lyrics that you just want to share with someone?

I have been listening to New Design and Kennedy on loop. They both create the same affliction to me: I want to sing with someone. I know very few people who have heard of these bands, let alone know them well enough to belt along with someone.

When I say “sing along”, I am only half meaning that on a literal level. I just want to be able to type the lyrics in a window and have someone respond with the next line. I want someone to appreciate the deft use of language as much as I do.

I was having a fantastic conversation with my friend Corey, and we both came to the conclusion that we’re the same with lyrics usually. They play little rolls in our appreciation for music, which can be detrimental when we enjoy something degrading or offensive. I, myself, only realized recently how important the lyrics of the band I was in during high school were. So, Kev: you deserve more credit for being a poetic genius.

I understand the cognitive dissonance in me saying how I do not comprehend lyrics right after talking about how two albums have some of the best lyrics ever. If anything, it should illustrate how impressive the words are. They permeated the barrier that I didn’t mean to install. All said: I think only 10% of my music I actually get what they are trying to say. I hear the words, I just cannot always connect what is being said with actual messages.

Thus, the me realizing how misogyny some of the words that bands I am affiliated with have been.

For that, I am very sorry. Especially if you gave me a heads-up at the time and I blew you off.

Are We Friends…?

The title of the piece is the eternal question for someone who spends all of their time online. I am constantly fighting with myself, trying to decide whether or not someone is a friend or just an entity online. It raises the question: can someone who you never meet or talk to on a regular basis be a friend? I would argue yes.

Most likely the person is in your feed because you appreciate their input or you enjoy what they produce. Where it gets dicey is having too many people in your feeds that just agree with everything you post, causing your opinion to never be pushed or strained. This causes an almost utopian existence.

Tell me my opinion is shit. Well, only if you can back up why with evidence or statistics. I will always hear out alternate opinions that are not just trolling for trolling sake. The idea of never having my opinion tested is actually a fear of mine. I make sure to read something that goes in the face of what I believe pretty close to daily. Worst case: I learn how right I am to have that view.

Do I always do this? Is my mind truly open and accepting of every view, even if it contradicts my own views?
Hell no. I do try incredibly hard to keep my mind open, but some topics I have a very hard time challenging my opinion. That only doubles if I think an alternate way of thinking is detrimental to the human race.

Religion is one place that I am steadfast even if it is easy to disprove my opinion on a matter. I believe that the end is the end, and there is no further existence outside of what we have right now. I will fully admit, a big part of that is a fear that my actions will have further repercussions down the line that I never intended. I need to think that when I die, I no longer have any attachment to this mortal coil because I cannot fathom hurting those in my life. Even if I die a natural death and there is no immediacy in my passing, I do not want to dwell on the people who might be negatively affected by my passing. Not that I put much emphasis on my importance in others lives, but I worry about how my parents would deal if I went before them. I worry how my wife will cope, if anyone will help her out, and what happens to my dogs.

Thankfully, in my mind, we die and nothing that happens after matters. The book I have been writing for months? Lost in the files of this computer I am currently sitting at. If I worried about every facet of my life, I would be a wreck. I actually take comfort the most of my friends live far away from me: if I die, they might never know.

I digress.

What is a friend? Someone who you are happy to know that they are still alive. Someone who’s words matter in your day to day. Someone who you can honestly say you love.

Total Collapse

I have been ruminating on writing this for literal weeks. Not because I am afraid of offending people, the people who would be offended somewhat need to be offended. No, simply because there is too much that has been going on in my head.

I hate the culture of ignorance around this pandemic. It feels like there is willful ignorance and too many fake professionals giving their two cents. If I hear how horrible it is that Canada hasn’t opened its borders to the US again, I think I will actually lose my voice screaming at the screen. Same goes for letting kids back to school, or how the vaccine has a microchip, and the most egregious: how the mask is inconvenient.

I get the allure of having kids go back to school. “Free” daycare so parents can go to work. There are so many things wrong with these sediments, but the easiest rebbutle is that this will cause the pandemic to spring back up in numbers. Kids are gross and needy. They will touch each other, no matter the precautions that are put in place. This puts teachers lives in danger. This puts families lives in danger. I cannot even express how blind and arrogant this whole idea is. Again, I understand the want. I just have a hard time accepting that we (as a society) are ready when we just have quintuple digits worth of new cases spring up in some places in the states.

Do you have a license? Do you have pets? Do you notify the government when you move? Do you collect mail? Do you have a cellphone? Do you belong to a country with universal healthcare? Do you have a bank account?
If you answered yes to any of the above: THE GOVERNMENT DOESN’T NEED TO MICROCHIP YOU.
There is nothing that they cannot access already that they could learn from checking your blood. Health records are accessible to government agencies, so they know everything from your blood type to your diet.
And no: you cannot figure out sexual orientation or physical disability from blood. I HATE THAT I HAVE TO WRITE THAT.

The states have literally created an Orwellian police state. Here is a video showing and explaining much better than I could.

Wear your fucking mask. Just, wear the fuking thing. Yes, it can be uncomfortable, but there is no excuse whatsoever. If you think there is, then doctors shouldn’t wear one when they do surgery. Wear your fucking mask.

I am not an expert. I am just sick of being assaulted constantly with so much misinformation that I don’t know where to start my tyrades.

Classic Album Review :: The Flaming Lips — Embryonic

Little text explaining why I am doing so many reviews right now. The world, or at least North America, is fucked. Everything is breaking (because it needed to) and there is little happy that I can find to be exposed to. So, I focus on coffee and music. Since it would be boring to just keep reading about how great my black coffee is, I hope that you aren’t too sick of the music!

Interesting bit of information: I have almost exactly 38 days worth of music on my computer. I deleted about 3 days worth of stuff I either will never or have never listened to: so, biased as the claim may be, I only have the best the world has to offer!

I had my full collection on random yesterday, and was reminded of this album. It could be argued that this album isn’t old enough to be placed in the ‘classic’ category yet, but 2009 is a while ago. In my broken mind, I can justify it being two decades old. I can do simple math, I know it’s not. Shut up.

ANYWAY: This album borrows greatly from the ’60s psychedelic sound that the Flaming Lips have always used. I actually watched a video compilation using a song from this album over footage from the original Woodstock, and it fit rather nicely. I cannot decide if the Flaming Lips are in the wrong decade, or if they are just really good at appropriating sounds of the past. They fuse old sounds and ways of composing with new technologies and methods. It creates this almost timeless kakophonie. The sounds leave the listener in the middle of a miasma of ideas.

Of course, I am a huge fan of the drums on the album. They are really kinetic and almost lure the listener into a kind of trance. Most songs sport a simple 4/4 pattern, but there are deviations. The song ‘Your Bats‘ comes to mind, where it adopts a 6/8 in a way that isn’t noticeable at the start. Or, at the very least, I didn’t notice it. Maybe my mind is simple, I’ll let you be the judge.

The vocalist takes some getting used to. If you can accept his very high voice, it becomes impossible to consider any other style over the band. If someone cannot get over how shrill his voice is, however: it can render the album almost unlistenable. I could never fault anyone for being unable to get over it. I would pity them, however. It is far from a slight to point out how every instrument being played is being done so by a deft hand.

I mean, if I wanted to do a full career retrospective, I would be writing forever. This band has been producing albums in some capacity since 1983. The band has been through 16 members, with only the bass player staying absolutely consistent in his role. Even the individual who is now the lead singer didn’t start off that way. I really recommend reading the Wikipedia page about them, it’s fascinating!

this post is not depressing

The idea that “things will always get better” is a lie.

Hear me out.

It’s not a bad thing that things change. Yes, at times it can seem, or even be, daunting. To wallow in a mindset where things could be better is just as debilitating as the event could be.

Take me being in a wheelchair. Yes, it sucks. Yes, the healthcare system has all but failed me. Yes, I do make attempts to get my body back to where it once was. I never think that things could be better, because the idea of better is so damned subjective.

Will I walk again? No one has been able to give me a conclusive reason why not, so I’m going with a softy ‘probably’ for now. Do I want to? Of course I do. That’s why I try to walk everyday, only held back by the brain damaged I sustained that left me epileptic and has caused my muscles to react strangely to stimulus.

Do I really want things to be better?

Better than what? I have gone on rants discussing how I think the term “better” is bloody horrible. To paraphrase: Better than what? If your response was my current condition, then I have good news for you! I have gotten a lot further in some form of recovery! I mean: I still have brain damage and cannot walk on my own, but to dwell on that fact is futile. I’ll walk when I walk, and I won’t stop doing things until it starts to happen. Then, I’m planning on taking a four week nap and punching cute things endlessly.

I play. Of course there is no end to “improvement.” I do prefer that word over ‘better’ because improvement in quantifiable, but I digress.

So, why make the claim that things don’t get better over time? There is a chance that the person wants help instead of just sweeping proclamations. Instead of basically saying “stop bitching for now”, offer a hand. Even just the offer is all people want some times. If they turn it away, calmly and quietly leave the situation. There is a good chance they just need to vent in a semi-public fashion. Like screaming into the night and your neighbour accidentally hears you. FaceBook is just a way that the police will not get involved for public disturbances.

In eventual conclusion: no. I do not think things will get better. You just get used to the situation around you and learn to cope with it. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it means you’re learning! You’re adapting! Just know who you can turn to. There is no shame in asking for help.

Once more for the people in the back:

THERE IS NO SHAME IN ASKING FOR HELP.

Classic Album Review :: Broken Social Scene — You Forgot It In People

I have no idea what inspired me to tackle this album. This is one of my favourite albums of all time, and it will be very hard for me not to say “just listen to it because”, but I will write something more substantial because you should listen to it.

You Forgot It In People came out of nowhere on the Canadian music scene. The early 2000’s were an amazing time in Canadian Indi and pop rock, and this album helped cement that statement as true in multiple ways.

First off, and most importantly, is the pedigree of musicians on this album is amazing. Though this band does not hold the record for the most performers, it still holds 18 credited actors. I say credited only because I would not be surprised if someone did clapping on the song “Stars & Sons” and they just forgot to give them a shout-out.

The part of this album I love the most is the flow. The album starts with an ethereal string portion, track two begins with roughly ten seconds of simple guitar mixed with violin then launches with a kinetic energy from the percussion that I have never found prior or since. Track three is very subdued compared to track two, and this album continues this tug-and-pull between being calm and chaotic.

The lyrics are this strange combination of being incredibly important and highschool poetry by that guy who thinks he’s deep. It works beautifully. The reflective nature brings to mind someone who has finally identified the last parts of their sexuallity.

Standout track has to be “Looks Just Like the Sun” simply because it’s the sore-thumb track: it doesn’t quite belong in the mix, but dares you to not pay attention. It relies on almost jazz chord progressions and a very laid-back drum track. Again, not a great example for the album as a whole, but easily my favourite track in the mix.

I usually drop hints on my person FaceBook as to what album I am going to write about next, so I posted KC Accidental on my wall. My friend pointed out how “Cause = Time” is his favourite, so as I write this, I am listening to that song over and over again. The song is kind of great at accentuating the overall message of Kevin Drew’s collection of lyrics which are sexual exploration and a dower look at law enforcement. Far from police bashing (unfortunate choice of words, but I’m going to leave it there), but does belittle the institution while expressing the potential for an abuse of power.

In summary: just listen to it because.
It’s amazing,

They uploaded the whole album, so you don’t have to spend the money. Do so anyway.

Music Comparison :: Pretty Girls Make Gaves v. Mars Volta

I am not saying these two albums are one-for-one. In fact, I am not even saying that they are remotely the same. I am claiming that fans of one can find something to appreciate about the other.

The Mars Volta seemed to come out of nowhere. Unless you were a fan of Sparta, these two seemed that they came from a cave and released probably one of the most original albums of that time. De-Loused in the Comatorium was a force to be reckoned with from the ambient track one right through until the end of track ten. It is kinetic with how involved every instrument is placed. Nothing feels like an accident. The mix is beautifully orchestrated. It’s hard to discuss this album without diving headfirst into individual tracks and dissecting the music theory knowledge involved. I mean, the ending of track one (bleeding into track two) changes time signature nine times on top of simple standard time time. The album then launches into a chaotic 3/8 and then does not let up until track nine.

Pretty Girls Make Graves (hearbye known as PGMG because I’m lazy) evolved out of the emo scene in the early 2000’s. They take elements of punk and mix it with almost art-house/ambient rock. This album stays pretty well in the same energy level through most of it. None of the instrumentation sticks out, particularly. What makes this album so incredibly important is how much it impacts the listener. I know very few people who have heard this album that have not loved some part of it. The vocalist sings over a calamity of orchestrated noise that has a purpose to lull the listener into a sense of pure bliss. Though Èlan Vital is not their first, or last, album, it remains one of my favourite albums of all time.

De Louced in the Comatorium is the Mars Vota’s first full length, though they had a very decent EP prior to that. There is not a lacking member on the record. Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers is on bass and he is (arguably) the weakest member of the crew. This album feels like you are listening to a performance instead of listening to an album.

Èlan Vital is, in comparison, very simple. They share aspects of the same ethereal plain, but they do not have much more in common where instrumentation comes into play, except for their use of onenote progression used several times in both recordings.

Now, I am positive there is a music theory reason for this progression. It probably dates all the way back to songs of olde. Back when the progression was far from news and, instead, was used by every minstral from here to Eden.

However, this is not the time of olde. This progression is not used often any longer, and I hate that I don’t know enough to give a name to it. It’s a huge part of Bullet Charm (which is the PGMG song I am going to link below) and is very prominent in the song “Eria Tarka” from The Mars Volta. This note progression, plus the emphasis on ethereal soundscapes, makes the comparison between the two bands more apt.

I made a big deal about track nine on De Loused in the Comatorium then dropped it! The song is Televators, and was the first song I had heard from the band. It is also acoustic and has little to do with the rest of the album. Even though it has little to do with the rest of the album, it will still be the track I place for Mars Volta below.

I’m not going to lie, a big part of why I wrote this is just to have an excuse to listen to these two albums over and over again for “research”. Also, I feel like PGMG have vanished from the collective consciousness, and any excuse I can find to talk about them feels important.

I’m posting this being well aware that I am going to get a bunch of shit from people saying how I’m wrong.