The Social Experiment

As some people saw, I released a poll asking what the content of the next update should contain. It was a success in some ways, and a miserable failure in others.

So, why am I calling it a failure if I got some input? I only had 13 votes, and that kind of hurts. It kind of tells me that there is a very small portion of people who read this, and possibly even less that actually care. I DIGRESS! To those 13, thank you. I really do appreciate it!

The winner was the topic “something else”. I have had a recommendation by the amazing Katie Maz (that should be your superhero name) asking me to do a book review. I think that’s a neat idea! There is a catch, however: I haven’t read a book since I ended up in a wheelchair. I would love to, but the damage to my oculare nerve makes it hard to focus on reading. Even typing this, I barely look at the screen, and proofread at the end. Red squiggly lines make that part easy. I will try, regardless. I mean, I will do my favourite book. I remember most of that one pretty well.

Can you guess what my favourite book is? You would be forgiven if you guessed 1984, especially because I yammer on and on about how amazing that book is. No, my top spot is filled by Rant by Chuck Palahniuk. The best part is, even if I read it today, I would still only be able to talk about half of it because it’s so full of twists and false-flags.

The word of the book takes place in a dichotomy of two existences. You have the people of the day: very similar to what we have now, and there are the people of the night: think midnight shift somewhat permanently. The two planes of existence rarely intermingle. Not by any expressed issue that may incur, but by just happenstance. It feels more natural than a government force imposing some sort of anti-mingle rule.

The story follows around the character of the title (Rant) as he experiences the world around him. He is accompanied by a collection of misfits and weirdos that he calls friends. They enjoy destroying things, and lead a very normal (or, “normal”) life.

The book becomes surreal when time travel comes into play. I am NOT going to go any further into the plot because it will ruin parts, but my GOD the path is worth it. To give an example of how convoluted (in the best way ever) this book is, it is NOT a massive spoiler to say that he is his own grandfather.

That’s right: him being his own grandfather is NOT a massive spoiler. More of “well” as opposed to a “NO WAY” when you read it.

The writing style is what you can expect from Chuck Palahniuk. Grotesque, unnecessary, overly descriptive, and completely perfect. One thing that I have championed for a very long time is that he is my favourite author. To call him unique is underselling his works, and also short-changing his very stark look on society.

Like Fight Club before it, this book has a way of looking at society. It is not bluntly chastising, nor does it feel like he is going out of his way to attack. It simply feels like he is focusing on aspects as literary expression as opposed to critical commentary. It’s more of a “this is how things are” as opposed to “look how things are.” The difference is how he doesn’t explain things: doesn’t try to fix them.

I will be keeping the poll open for the next little bit. Vote on it, and if I notice much of an interest, I will adapt.

You don’t need to see.

Okay, this sounds like a no-brainer to me, but maybe I’m biased.

If I you don’t see something, it does not mean that it did not happen. We cannot see electricity powering a device, we cannot see water moving through pipes, and we do not see our body metabolising energy. All of these things happen in the background and we do not question their existence.

With all of these things in mind: if someone says they did their recommended exercise for the day, BELIEVE THEM.

I have been, for months, dealing with people in my life not believing me when I say that I did ‘x’. I am just going to put ‘x’ because there are many different things that have been brought to question.

No, there is not always physical proof that ‘x’ happened, but it did. My promise should be enough. Especially when it involves a thing that only benefits me.

I get it: people have an interest in me walking again. People have this idealised fantasy where everything is the same as it was seven years ago. Well; news flash! Even if I walked TOMORROW I might never be able to get my license back. Even if I walked TOMORROW I could be turned away from my old job. In that situation, I would come out much further behind than where I am now.

Now, let’s play positive-guy for this paragraph. Assuming that I did my exercises proper and everything went the way half the medical community says that it should, I am still six weeks off ON THE SHORT END of being able to kind of walk. Assuming my medication continues to work as predicted and my body does not create some sort of immunity, I could avoid seizures wrecking my day, but they are to be a constant in my life.

I didn’t write this as a pity-party for myself. I wrote this on behalf of everyone who feels pressured to do something they are doing already and having no one believe them. I am writing this for everyone that feels overburdened by people who have this strange vested interest in their health, even if it really doesn’t affect them. I am writing this for every person who has been told there is a 5% chance of recovery.

DO IT FOR YOU. NOT FOR THEM.

And for “them”: fuck off. We are doing our best, even if you don’t believe us.

Writer’s Block is Weird

I find myself at a bit of a stop in my next book. I am proud of what I have so far. It comes out just over 20 pages. Strangely, I am able to think of a blog post to write, but not a continuation on my writing.

Why does the brain do this? Yes, blogs are a little more auto-biographical usually. That, or they are explaining from a very biased (in my case) source. My stories are usually birthed from reality. They are all situations that I have either lived through, or exaggerations on events. No, I have never been part of a terrorist organization, nor have I taken a bullet for my cause. I have been publicly ridiculed and emasculated for my beliefs. No, the comparison is not one for one. It could be argued that being publically hung to dry is worse than being killed. At least, when you’re killed, you don’t have to keep surviving in the hellscape that comes after.

On that note, at least if you don’t die, you can patch and fix your image. It may take a long time, but it’s doable.

On a very unrelated note: I got a new chair! I’m not using it! Thanks!

Okay, details: I have been using the same chair for 6 years at this point. I have learned many things about what I want from a wheelchair since I put together my initial order, and grew out of certain things that were put in place all that time ago.

Unfortunately, the chair I received until they have constructed mine has a misplaced centre of gravity. Small imperfections in my movement would result in me suddenly tipping backwards. Luckily, wheelchairs have anti-tip bars in the back. They saved my life on multiple occasions, but I hate having to rely on them. Due to this, I moved back to my old chair with a new seat cushion: at least for now. I hope that all is sorted before August.

The quotes

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you will notice that I have started releasing out-of-context quotes from You’re Not Dead.

It’s very interesting. I haven’t read the book since I finished editing it, and this is a great way to A) renew interest for other people and B) Revisit my work without feeling like I am under any real pressure.

Below is what I have released so far, but please let me know if you have a better line in mind for me to put to the masses:

  • For that hour, the Hero felt like he was drowning above water.
  • What is even the point in self-improvement if I am not to enjoy whatever I achieve?
  • Maybe it was for the best that he was alone.
  • Luka hugged him./He tried as hard as he could to hug back./He tried to call her a fool for thinking he was gone/He tried many things.
  • In a hospital near you, a heart monitor squeals./In a town far away, a girls heart breaks

New Book

As some people have heard, I am working on a new book! I started only recently, so timeline is a bit ragged at the moment. I have an idea of where I want to go, as well as at least two characters flushed out.

SURPRISE! It will not be a happy read. For the people who have read, what I dubbed a, WIP: I have scrapped about half of it in favour of continuing this new direction that I pieced together in my head.

The one of two things I am keeping from my initial 20-or-so pages is the theme of survivors guilt. I have a character that is dealing with the death of her children by blaming herself for their death on a legal level. I am not spoiling much, as even I don’t quite know where her story will end up.

My goal is to have the book be about 200 pages long. I am not going to put more restraints on myself, for fear of not measuring up to my own goals.

Do you want to be in the Thank You list? Check out my Patreon. Anyone who donates even $1 a month will get their name immortalized at the end of the book!

Check out my already released book here! If you do not feel like giving monthly, buying a copy of You’re Not Dead helps out a tonne.

Your Caring is Showing

I have been keeping quiet with all of the political turmoil going on. Not because I disagree with it, or am worried that someone will not like my point of view, but because I am woefully uninformed and do not wish to spread false information. Some of my friend would say that saying nothing is as bad as being on the wrong side, but I disagree.

To spread propaganda or hate based on ignorance is unacceptable. I have been making efforts to learn as much as I can over the last few weeks simply so I don’t spread false claims and sweeping allegations. Unfortunately, there have been so many reports of events as of late, the knowledge I gain is outdated before I finish learning it.

It got me thinking about sympathy v. empathy. Sympathy is feeling a way about someones situation. Emphathy is more understanding the feelings. So, in the case of the #blacklivesmatter movement, I sympathise greatly. As a disabled adult, I kind of empathise, but I will not pretend that is entirely true. To truly empathise, I would need to go through all the things that are being protested about for a similar, if not the same, length of time.

I have not been able to make it to a rally, though I would love to. I hate that I have seen this bubbling for the last two decades, but the police (especially in some cities in America) have clearly been over-funded. That is a selfish Canadian boy looking through his computer screen making that observation. We are talking about a country that monetized and glorified it’s police tactics by making a reality TV show based on exploits taken.

Personal confounded moment: why are there still so many racists? On that topic, if you’re going to say or do something racist, why not own it? We all see, we all hear, we all feel. There is a difference between accidental racism (saying something out of honest ignorance while having the best of intentions) and just being completely in the wrong. Have you learned NOTHING from WWII?

I get why they say there is no point in fighting irrational hate. I have sat with my keyboard in my lap trying to come up with a second paragraph on my previous point. I have thought about the scientific discoveries and debunking of the past 50 years, I have started mapping out charts and graphs showing how ‘X’ does NOT equal ‘Y’ in this instance. I gave up when I realized that this information is VERY available and far from news. It literally takes IGNORING facts to carry down that road.

Know what? I find it sad that it took the destruction of the world to realize just how wrong we have been about everything for everything to be considered being fixed.

 

Why I write about music.

I am very certain I have written about this topic before, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to search through hundreds of self-indulgent words mixed in with only a small amount of importance.

First and foremost; I think music is THE most important thing in life. I realize that you cannot consume it for nutrients, therefore it can be argued that food is the most important. This is MY blog and I will make my sweeping statements that cannot be backed up in anyway!

AHEM: I make that claim trying to keep my past out of the equation. It’s not a secret that I spent more than a decade working very closely with the music industry. Hell, I worked at a record store for seven years. I was playing on albums and playing shows since 2005. I produced a few albums and EP’s. I have almost 40 days worth of music sitting on my hard drive. I ran a record label. I review albums because it’s fun and I think I don’t suck at it…

So, why put music above everything?

It’s the one medium that collaborates every aspect of the arts while being recognized by every single culture.

What about the deaf?
They can feel beats and rhythm, and can even tap out an approximate flow if they can focus on the direction of the metre. As far as writing guitar or piano, if they know their music theory, they can easily do that. Not to mention that, if they went deaf later in life, they can probably remember things that sound good together.

Now, to elaborate on my claim about combining every art. To combine poetry and music seems like a simple task, but after watching others do it for years, I now can confirm that it is not as easy as one might think initially. You need to keep flow and metre in mind, as well as emotional weight and emphasis. That’s two of the arts down.

Let’s keep going.

Album art takes care of the visual arts, on the surface and immediate level, anyway. Again, I ran (a very bad and unprofessional) record label for years. Visual representation does generate sales, as shallow as that sounds.. If the album cover is appealing, people are more likely to pick it up. I am under the impression that is why vinyl came back in a large way: the larger cover plus the appeal of having something tangible.

(That’s what drew me in, anyway.)

Let us not forget music and lyric videos. Though music videos have kind of shrank in importance, the few that come out can greatly add OR detract from the appeal of the music. Lyric videos are huge.

Stage performance is a kind of acting. Even the “roots” acts one may see have cultivated that image, whether it be intentional or not. I have played with many acts who (consciously or subconsciously) do a full change when they go on stage. As a musician, you learn to play off the crowd expectation. That could be reactions to a previous move you make, or observations on how the other acts that evening maintain the attention of the masses.

So, after explaining all of this: let’s get back to the initial question of why I write about music so often!

  1. I love everything about music. The concept, the sound, the feel… Every part of music makes everything in my life have context, and it’s very hard for me to go a day without thinking critically about it in some way.
  2. I think that it is important. Whether it is in regards to mental or physical healing, the effects that it has on a being cannot be ignored. I cannot be bothered to source all the facts I know, so I’ll just bring up the emotional well-being it brings myself. I know that music makes me happier, and therefore I try to do things in life. Without music, I would have little context for waking up in the morning.
  3. I’m good at it. Well, I think I’m good at it. I at least find it fun to do, and if you don’t like it, stop reading my blog.

With all of this said, if there is a topic that you would like me to explore in further depth, please get hold of me somehow. I have been contacted by .no funeral. records to examine a few of their releases, and I am excited to roll those out over the next bit.

The Trolly Problem is Broken

I love “The Trolly Problem” and have for a very long time. I will stick with the version I know best, but Saania proposed a fantastic version involving a mad man and some theatrics that is very much worth your time.

The concept is simple: you are the conductor of a trolly. Driving your route, you notice that the breaks are out. Ahead, there are three people working on the tracks. Their equipment makes them completely unaware of your impending vehicle, and, the way they are situated, you will surly kill them all.

You then notice that there is a fork in the track that you are able to activate and take advantage of. Unfortunately, there is a solitary person sitting, enjoying the view away from you, clearly unaware of the impending doom. Of course, if you switch the track, he will surely be killed by the metric tonne of steel you drive.

The question that is supposed to sit at the end of this situation is “What do you do?”

Do you kill three to save one? Or do you go the path of sacrifice one for the many?

I have noticed that in every version I have seen of this conundrum, you are always given a situation that is out of your control. It has been my experience that people will rationalize and find ways to avoid blame.

It’s the mechanics fault. He should have checked the breaks better.
It’s the cities fault. They shouldn’t have workers on an active track without notifying the right people.
The solitary man should know better than to be near the tracks at that time.

This brings you to now, where I am trying to solve this issue with a situation that can not be thwarted.

The exercise is supposed to be about where the value in a human life sits. Is it actually better to kill three? Or is it better to destroy one life?

I really enjoy how The Good Place illustrated it.

The episode kept swapping out the solitary man or the workers for people the protagonist knew. One time, it was his mother or three important people from history. One time it was a mother with a stroller vs. a collection of nuns. It quickly became greater than one life vs. many and became more a question of morality.

Does one appearance matter more than another?

Again, my frustration with the question is that it is in a bubble. There is no credence placed on the guilt that forms after the event. No ramifications of resulting law suits or familial issues arise.

To be fair; the problem was devised to see what people would do in one situation and there was never supposed to be emphasis placed on any long term issues that arise. MIT released a version looking more in depth, but it still avoided “the next day” in every version that it brought up.

None of the issues detract from how much “fun” the thought experiment is, though!

Five Paragraphs

The “Five-Paragraph” essay style is just a framework. One cannot rely on that being useful for everything that they do. For example, I tend towards more of a conversation style when I write my blogs. The reason for that is simply that is how my brain works. The five-paragraph setup seems like a decent way to organize thoughts, but it has a few flaws.

One such flaw is that because someone has the intent of going with that style, they beat points into submission. I understand that this is to elaborate on a thought, but it bogs the reader down with information about a topic. Unnecessary details muddy up an otherwise clear purpose, and other points are left with little to no information at all.

It especially hurts the ‘essay’ because the points are all supposed to be mentioned in the initial paragraph. Again, I know that they are supposed to be sussed out in the subsequent words, but it feels redundant. It feels almost patronizing. The worst part is that it inhibits the author from expressing themselves creatively by playing with formatting. If the writer runs out of points for a topic, the reader can expect them to fill the space with text like this, or with recursive thoughts on the points already expressed.

The point of the third paragraph is to drive home the point before the conclusive paragraph is expressed. To force the writer to have another point when they feel like they have already proven their purpose is silly. This paragraph will just waffle about having no real purpose. There is also a good chance that this will be the paragraph with the most grammatical errors. But I digress.

So yes, the five-paragraph system is a bit silly. As a teaching tool, it works pretty well. It expresses the importance of organizing your thoughts, and the importance of planning ahead. To use this method as an adult shows an ongoing issue in regards to planning out ideas. Therefore, I am not saying that we should do away with this concept, but am saying that we should not expect it in every bit of writing. Especially when the writing is informal or opinion.

NOW, FOR ALL OF THAT THE WAY I USUALLY WRITE

So, can we all agree that the five-paragraph way of writing is silly?

It forces the repetition of ideas, stifles any form of opinion, and seriously hampers creativity. As a teaching tool, it’s a great way to start. As a crutch, it stifles ideas by forcing the writer to sit on a point for longer than may be necessary.

Maybe I’m alone in that. There is a good chance that my writing is unattainable and confusing. My language may be obtuse, and my opinions irreverent.

Damnit, there is a very good chance that I just don’t like being told what to do! I am, after all, just an old child. Forever having the mind of a thirteen year old who wants to do what they want to do and you cannot tell them otherwise or you will initiate the flood of hate and malice that comes when I am “forced into a box.”

Hey! I made my previous point in a much shorter line of words!

Anyway, fuck the five-paragraph setup. Fuck rules in writing that stifle creativity and originality. Fuck doing things for other people when you don’t want to.

Classic Album Review :: Nothingface — Skeletons

I posed a question to my Facebook asking whether I should do a comparison between this and Mudvayne’s End of All Things to Come. The response was just to do the review of LD50 that I did the other day, but there were a few people that said I should just focus on this album.

This album sits in a strange place in regards to all the other metal from the early 2000’s. It starts with a pretty series of chords then quickly devolves into chaos. Ironically, in a bubble, the first song is probably the weakest on the album. That really is saying something when it slaps so fucking hard.

The best part of this album, in my opinion, is how it feels like a pop’d up David Botrel production. For those who don’t know, David Botrel is famous for the work he did with Tool as well as various other emotionally heavy albums.

What I find interesting, also strange for an album that I hold in high regards, is how the vocals are the centre of the mix. It is actually mixed like a pop album that way: where the instrumentation takes an almost backseat to the vocals. Most metal I listen to is very much the opposite, and this makes the lyrical dynamics much more important.

This is a double-edge sword, however. Some of the lyrics are (for lack of a better term) stupid. On that note, I do get the over arching message this band is trying to portray. They tend to lean in heavy on the idea that society is messed up. Unfortunately, the phrases they choose to highlight sometimes fall flat (see the repetition of “Kill That Motherfucker It’s All That I Think About”). It tends to quash any respect this band might have garnished from the general public.

On that note, some songs are amazing lyrically. Ether stands out as one of those, where the content is talking about the systematic disillusionment of the masses starting at a young age. Songs like this save the album from coming off like it is written by a 15-year-old who can’t get a girlfriend.

I cannot talk about this album without bringing up the drums. On first listen, they are not impressive. All the songs (minus the occasional hit) are in simple meter, so one can be forgiven for thinking that the accompanying rhythm would be simple, as well. Once you sit down and try to figure things out, it is quickly apparent that this drummer is a beast.

I say simple, but the song “I Wish I Was A Community” opens with oppressive crushing hits that do not, in any way, sound simple. Actually, before writing this retrospective, I had forgotten about this song completely. Not my favourite on the album, but damned close.

I comfortably put this album in my top list of all time, though I never bring it up as an example for my taste. Not because I’m embarrassed to admit it, but simply because it is a outlier. Very few things (that I have come across) have this sound. You can find things that have elements, but nothing that has the complete package.

Talking to a couple of friends, they pointed out that Violence is the better album, and I fully admit that I don’t know that album. I have probably missed something amazing, and if this album is any indication, I should probably go back and check that out. IN THE MEAN TIME, enjoy.