A/V Club

VIDEO CONTAINS FOUL LANGUAGE! You’ve been warned.

Great video from my favorite song by one of my favorite bands. They’re actually only kind of a band. Gorillaz is only a pseudo-band, but they’re absolutely excellent.

I have to say that I think that song captures how I feel more often than not. There’s almost never a time when I don’t want to hear “Clint Eastwood”, and it always seems to suit whatever mood I’m in. I first heard that song over a decade ago in high school, and I think it has aged quite well.

The chorus goes:

I ain’t happy, I’m feeling glad.
I got sunshine, in a bag.
I’m useless, but not for long.
The future, is comin’ on. Is comin’ on, is comin’ on, is comin’ on, is comin’ on…

You know I feel like that a lot. I feel content, I feel like I’ve got all I need with me. I also feel useless and unfulfilled. I expect it to get better in the coming days.

That can be a bad way to look at things. Always looking for the future to be better than the present can have a tendency to make you unhappy all the time. You wouldn’t want to be the only cause of your own unhappiness, right?

I do think that I am not as skilled as I would like to be in certain areas. I really wish that I displayed an aptitude for something that interests me. It would give me an idea of where to focus my efforts. It would give me some hope that whatever skill I was trying to develop might actually progress forward.

I tend to not be great at sticking with difficult, skill-based things. I seem to make a few large jumps at the beginning and then I hit a decent wall and I  just can’t ever get any better. That definitely contributes to my feeling like I’m useless sometimes. I mean, think if every time you tried to do something that interested you, you found out that you probably weren’t good enough to ever  get any better. Cooking, baking, writing, drawing, music, singing. Something that you enjoy and consider yourself adequate at; What if you just learned ytht you were actually pretty bad and never seemed to get better?

That is just how it feels when I try something and get stonewalled.

Oh well, someday I’ll find my niche. Until then, I’ve always got the Gorillaz to keep me company.

Jukebox Hero

In an extension of my eclectic-ness discussion, this morning has been strange for me, musically speaking. I have gone from thinking about 90’s rock music(thank to @HPBasketball on Twitter last night), to a hardcore rap mixtape that released yesterday, and now I’m listening to a 90’s pop mix at work. Overall, it’s been weird.

I know I’ve ranted about my old collection of musical tastes before, but  that wasn’t my main reason for bringing it up this time. Yes I like quite a range of music. Johnny Cash to Wiz Khalifa. So really everything. What struck me this morning while listening to the new Machine Gun Kelly mixtape – Black Flag was how unexpectedly music can affect us.

You know when listening to certain songs or genres what to expect from them on an emotional level, generally speaking. Throw on Black Sabbath, you’re getting Dark, Heavy, Supernaturally-Themed music. Put on Jack Johnson and you’re headed to the beach with a bonfire and guitars. Sometimes even music you know pretty well can thoroughly surprise you.

I put on Black Flag expecting the strong lyrics Machine Gun Kelly is known for, with a mostly political tilt. I didn’t even make it 2 songs into the album on shuffle before I got goosebumps. I won’t get into specifically what it was about, but if you are interested you can download the mixtape free here. Yes it’s rap, and yes there is likely to be foul language. I’ve warned you.

What really struck me about all of it was how touched I was. I was surprised at the depth of a song that I only generally had expectations about. I expected personal experience or heartfelt determination, based on previous mixtapes and his debut album. I got a touching story that contained profound sadness.

I just wasn’t expecting it and that made me enjoy it all the more. I wan’t to hear something unexpected. I love popping in music and finding something special there. It’s like a secret that I know, that people who dismiss that album or artist will never learn. I love that feeling with my music. I really want to find something else new to listen to now to keep discovering the unexpected.

It’s cool to know that some of who I listen to are as crazy-eclectic as I am.

This Might Be Dangerous!

I may have made a huge tiny mistake. I am really intent on getting this post done this morning, and I have ingested lots of coffee in a short amount of time. I have unleashed myself on a keyboard all jacked up on caffeine. This might be dangerous.

Brain scanning technology is quickly approachi...

Brain scanning technology is quickly approaching levels of detail that will have serious implications (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not worried. I think that the two halves of my brain can successfully wrestle one another into some sort of stalemate with regards to crazy vs. responsible. I think I actually have two brain halves that work relatively well together.

I would classify myself as a creative person. I have a good eye for art and colors, even if I’m not always the best at creating them. What you might call “right-brain” things. I would also say that I’m pretty intelligent. I’m good with numbers and patterns. Things one might consider “left-brain” activities.

I have never been great at focusing on one activity or set of skills so I never really latched on to one side of my brain and got great with it. I tend to bounce between the two as required. Lot of people I know are definitely more suited to one or the other.

Not me. I am all sorts of unfocused! In a good way, right? Not always. I think that this sometimes leads to my inability to get organized, even if I like organizational systems. It also leads to a difficult time for  learning new creative activities.

While I’m happy for the adaptability this provides me (people who know me best are cleaning up the beverage that they just spit all over the screen). What I mean is adaptability in my approach for problem-solving. I’m able to approach lots of activities with a unique perspective.

I appreciate this, but sometimes I would like for it to be easier to just plop down and really focus on a particular thing with out soon getting distracted by a shiny object or moving picture(Ooo! Piece of candy!) Well I suppose that life is generally a zero-sum game, and I can’t be good at everything. If I want to be able to be adaptable (sorry for your screens again) Then I can’t also be super focus-able. That’s not a word. I don’t care because I’m creative, remember?

Well, on that note I’ll end this caffeine-fueled ramble about sides of my brain. I hope the rest of the day goes as smoothly and free-flowing as this post did. I feel like it won’t.

Are you right-brained or left-brained?

Bowties Are Cool…

Do you have any idea how hard it is trying to be cool all the time?

No, I’m not really implying that I’m cool all the time, or even most of the time. I was just thinking how hard you have to work to get people to think you’re cool.

Eclectic

Eclectic (Photo credit: joshwept)

I’ve always been the kind of person with varied interests that might seem a bit strange at first glace. As if none of them really go with any of the others. “He’s Eclectic,” you might say. In an effort to indicate ‘weird’ in a nice way.

I find so many different things that interest me, that I end up looking in to an incredibly varied array of strange subjects. This applies to music, movies, books, shows, photos, art, and hobbies. Basically, that one thing you enjoy learning about or doing, I probably once got curious about it and looked up a bunch of random facts about it.  That’s just the way I am. I’m Eclectic.

Being cool requires an element of mystery. You are good at something interesting that is difficult to do. Maybe you know someone famous but you won’t tell who. Sometimes being cool means being the first to do something. being a pioneer makes you cool. Assuming other people wish that they could o that thing. Sometimes it requires an air of arrogance about these things.

If you aren’t naturally a person to try all these new things, or naturally possess that attitude, being cool is hard work. You have to go out of your way to try to hear new music so you can share it with your friends. You have to see lots of weird movies so you can introduce your friends to the good ones.

Sometimes being weird or eclectic lets you stumble into a cool new thing. That’s super convenient. Say, the band Vampire Weekend. I heard a couple songs that I liked. I downloaded them, and eventually the whole albums. This was 2 years ago, before ‘Holiday’ got used in a Christmas commercial. I told a couple people about this cool new band I found. They nodded and said “Oh I’ll have to take a listen…”

Then ‘Holiday’ gets used in a commercial, and everyone says “That’s pretty catchy.” I responded with “That’s Vampire Weekend. I told you about them. That song really isn’t about holidays though. It’s about vacations. They’re British, so ‘Holiday’ means vacation.”

To which they respond, “Okay. That’s weird that you know that off the top of your head.”

That’s pretty much how I’m cool in a nutshell.

Are you cool naturally? Or do you have to try real hard? Or do you only ever stumble into it like me?

An Exercise in Frustration

There’s something about the Human Mind that forces us to act irrationally and participate in thought patterns that serve no purpose.

How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just the other day, I wrote about my bad habit of getting too caught up in nostalgia. Well, I was watching an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” and it brought me back to a topic I’d previously discussed with a friend of mine: What If?

‘What If? -ing’ is just a hypothetical version of nostalgia. You take a time or turning point in your life an attempt to extrapolate it out into an entirely alternate reality. It can be a fun little exercise or diversion sometimes, but most of the time it’s just an exercise in frustration.

I think it’s pretty obvious that as I said before, there’s no way to ever try to recreate those previous circumstances. There’s no way ever know what would have actually happened because so many different things can affect our personalities and experiences that there’s no way control the environment. Sometimes all that ‘What If? -ing’ just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

It can be such a dangerous little rabbit hole to fall into. By engaging in the very exercise, you start with a morbid kind of curiosity, or worse a dissatisfaction at your current circumstances. That means that everything you think about will be colored with an idea that “everything would have been better with just this one little change.” You’re setting yourself up for more disappointment at your current situation and and extra helping of frustration at your inability to actually know if that is what would have happened.

Which brings me to the real thought that got me interested enough to post about this: Do you really want to know? That was the twist in the television episode I watched. You can ask ‘What If?’ as much as you want. Sometimes, there’s an actual answer to that question. Sometimes there’s a reason that you didn’t make a different choice. You might not want to know that reason.

That’s the problem with asking too many hypothetical questions and always examining every little detail of your life: sometimes you might not like the answer. I’m sure that there are times when we might need a jolt like this to make a proactive major change. There are more times when it might cause you to open a Pandora’s Box of problems that needn’t have ever been touched again.

This is the sort of thing that is hard to remember when you have an active imagination. ‘What If? -ing’ seems like it would all be in good fun. You have source material, personal experience, and lots of curiosity. “What could it hurt?” you think. It’s a hard activity to avoid.

Just something to consider the next time you catch yourself thinking ‘What If?’ You might just be in for more disappointment. More importantly, do you really want to know the answer and the reason?

Bad Habit

I have a bad habit. Well, I have lots of them. This time I’m referring to a particular one that I think a lot of us share.

Nostalgia's not what it used to be

Nostalgia’s not what it used to be (Photo credit: marc e marc)

I tend to spend a lot of time think about “how it was.”

That’s not such a big deal sometimes. We all get nostalgic from time to time and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem that some of us run into, is that we start thinking that things ‘were better when…’

There’s a serious flaw in that logic. Things may have been better at a previous time. The difference is, that we are never that person again. Not exactly, anyway. Whatever event it is that we’re trying to re-live or re-create changed us in some way. Every little event acts in concert to turn us into the people that we are at this very moment. Going back wouldn’t allow you to take all the knowledge you’ve gained and the person you are back to that previous time.

We are ever-changing entities. Life is a series of moments. The Doctor might argue that time is “A big ball of wibbly, wobbly, timey, wimey stuff,” but that doesn’t stop us from perceiving it as linear. Since we perceive it as linear, then it makes a lot more sense to view everything as operating in series, as opposed to in parallel. That means that at any given moment, you can never be what you once were. It’s impossible because every situation, every decision, every action no matter how minute changes us.

As an ever-changing creature it’s sometimes hard to decide if we are growing or sinking, better or worse, than we were just a few moments ago. The biggest issue with thinking this way is that you’re always perceiving everything through a macroscopic lens. Everything looks huge and it’s hard to see where on thing ends and another begins. We’re too close to the graph line to figure out if it’s headed up or down or neither. The best thing we can do its to take a step back every so often.

In order to see the bigger picture or the graph, you have to take a step back and do some evaluating. For instance, It’s hard to say whether I’m overall a better person today than I was yesterday, but I can tell you almost for sure that I’m better than I was 2 years ago. You might call it perspective, but the goal is to try to look at things on the whole as opposed to on a moment to moment basis.

It’s just something to think about the next time you ind yourself not just nostalgic for someone or something from your past, but really wanting to be back there. Even if you went back, it wouldn’t be the same. you’d just end up disappointing yourself. So enjoy those feelings of nostalgia, but remember that you are an infinitely different person than you were even last week. It can just be hard to see that until you can look at it over a larger period of time.

Do you ever catch yourself doing this? Do you try to re-capture it? or just enjoy the moment?