Guy on the outside

I just read a wonderfully prescient post over on Sass & Balderdash.

You should go read that, so that you have a baseline for where I’m going.

I’ll wait here…

Glad to see you back. It was a wonderful post, was it not?

I feel like I have a lot of experiences that involve these ‘Chamomile Characters.’ I don’t always mean to be the person on the outside of popular pinions like that, but I tend to form my opinion quickly. I let it be until something happens to change it.

I like to think of myself as open minded. I try to be an accepting person, and I try not to let my opinions on one thing cloud my overall opinion of a person. I try to be friendly, because I like open and friendly people and I would like to be one.

There’s a caveat here. I also tend to make quick judgements,  and then proceed to see these through until I have cause to change them. Let me give you an example of one that always gets me strange looks: I don’t really like The Beatles. I like a few of their songs, I respect them as musicians and artists, and I acknowledge there huge contributions to the music world. Still don’t really want to listen to them.

The Beatles (No. 1)

The Beatles (No. 1) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will still give a song of theirs a chance if I’ve never heard it, or if someone tells me to listen for something specific. I have no problem giving something of theirs a listen. I probably will not agree with you if you just tell me that ‘The Beatles are the greatest and everyone should love them.’ Nope. Not convincing.

Sometimes I think that my tendency to make these snap decisions limits my experience of the world. I suppose with things like music, books, and movies, as long as I am open to giving them another shot I’m not really missing out on anything. People might be a different story.

I do sometimes make those same snap judgements about people. It’s a lot like Sass & Balderdash said: I just kind of decide that I’m not a fan. I’m content to not really interact with them. I’m okay with being like that, as I feel like it makes my life simpler. Other people do not always agree.

I usually run into problems when it’s someone that I have to see on a regular basis or on major holidays or something. I get some disapproving looks when I mention that I am indifferent about spending time with that person. Maybe I even indicate that I’d rather not if given thew choice. If I’m not given the choice, I try really hard to make the best of it. I go do whatever is on the agenda and I try to have friendly conversation while I’m there.

I try to give those people a second chance as well. Especially when someone gives me a good reason to. It doesn’t always work out though. That’s when I begin to wonder if I’m some sort of anti-social hermit. Everyone else seems to do okay, why am I the one that seems to dislike the people no one else seems to mind?

According to Sass & Balderdash, I’m not as crazy and Hermit-like as I thought.

 

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Observation

My super-skills seem to have diminished.

SuperHeroes

SuperHeroes (Photo credit: Sugar Daze)

I’m not being as observant as I usually am. I don’t have super strong hearing, smell, or sight. In fact, some people would say that those skills are a little sub-par. I am usually very observant. I pick up on context clues and tonal qualities that some people can miss. I’m usually very good at reading people and situations.

Recently, I think I may be slacking off a little bit. I’m not quite as sharp as I used to be. Once you realize this, you kind of feel like you’ve been wearing blinders and earmuffs.

I generally like to be completely aware of my surroundings. I’m not sure if it’s leftover hunter/gatherer instincts or what. Knowing that I haven’t been as completely aware recently leaves me with a feeling of vulnerability.

Even when I don’t have any use for all that situational information, I like feeling like I know everything that I need to about where I am and what I’m doing. Maybe that’s why I’m more uncomfortable when I don’t know what the plan is when going places. I like to be completely informed.

Eh, I might just have to give myself some practice at being hyper-observant again. It’s nice knowing so much about the circumstances one find’s oneself in.

Under Pressure…

I owe a certain artist an apology.

Back when I did my other post based on his artwork, he was working on a piece based on a prompt that I gave him. After completing this, I was then to take the prompt and his work based on it and write another post. This was supposed to be an awesome collaboration that produced fun and unexpected results. Right about the time he finished, my story posts started. Here we are way later than it should be.

 

You’re gunna want to be more careful with those things! Copyright Eric Meister 2013

The prompt was ‘Tension’.

The first thing that came to mind here was the overwhelming amount of pressure that exists for most of us on a daily basis. It’s almost too much when you really take the time to lay it all out. Especially when you consider that most of these things are continuous and they overlap.

For instance, say you’re talking about someone working as a waiter in a casual dining restaurant, with a long term significant other, that lives in an apartment. That certainly doesn’t seem like an overly complicated existence. Let’s look deeper: Pressure to perform at work, to be accurate, quick, and friendly, all while getting paid not enough and dealing with difficult patrons. There’s pressure to make enough money to afford rent, and other assorted bills. To make enough to have spending money, but you shouldn’t be working too many hours. You have to leave time for that significant other. You also have to leave time for yourself to be able to recharge.

Without adding in any sort of grand life plans, or internalized pressure, it’s beginning to look a little daunting. I know what some of you are thinking, “That’s nothing. Life is just like that. We’ve all got to juggle lots of balls and we make it work. That doesn’t seem like that much. Don’t complain.” That’s not the point.

The point is, should it be that way? It really does take a lot to survive the overly pressurized society that we all live in. Most of us are taking on to many things, while also expecting results of a level we may not be capable of. That doesn’t matter. If it’s not right, we’re a failure. So we take on more to prove to someone, maybe ourselves, that we can handle it all. Wouldn’t it be nicer if that wasn’t how it had to be though?

I wasn’t thinking about this because I’m especially stressed or anything. This is just a long-standing query of mine. What are we all working so hard for? Most of us work so hard or so long that we are actually inefficient. As a society, we don’t get enough sleep or relaxation time. We plan every minute and we organize ourselves to structure our stress.

I’m not trying to tell everyone to slow down and take more vacation days. I was just noticing the culture that has been created. Wouldn’t we all be happier, and therefore more productive, with less stress, less pressure, and less tension?

Sometimes that much tension causes you to drop something…

 

Kids These Days!

But this isn’t really about the kids.

Compact audio cassette Français : Une Cassette...

Compact audio cassette Français : Une Cassette audio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know how everyone over the age of like, 23 complains about “Kids these days”? You know how it’s always the same complaints, generation after generation? No work ethic, disrespectful, lazy, have it to easy, music is crap. Well I’d like to take a moment, as a 28 year old, and complain about the middle aged crowd.

 

Weren’t expecting that, were you? You lot haven’t been complained about since the 80’s have you? Well I’m here to tell you that there are quite a lot of people in that group of people between 35 and 50 that are acting worse than the “kids these days”.

 

There are people in this age bracket that are some of the rudest, most entitled, most disrespectful human beings on the planet. I would say that all things considered, there are middle schoolers with more decorum. I know this must all be so confusing for you.

 

People aren’t used to being complained about once they get out of their mid twenties. That’s when they start getting less tolerant of the younger generation. They can start agreeing with the next older group and they can all hate the teenagers together.

 

Well that’s crap. As much as I may see things that I don’t like in the younger generation, I see more frightening things from that 35-50 crowd. It’s especially awful because they’re raising children! As expected, though, they don’t see anything wrong with their behavior.

 

They’re actually acting like spoiled children that never learned their lesson. Maybe they are. Maybe this is what a world of “Participation Awards” and ridiculous political correctness is leading us to: Spoiled brats raising more spoiled brats, while complaining about all those same qualities in a group of younger people.

 

Well that’s a scary thought, isn’t it?

 

Does It Matter?

I say no. I say the form that it takes makes no difference to… I never told you what we’re talking about, did I? Whoops. Let’s back up.

I know it’s late, and for that I’m sorry. I also know that I missed Friday. I suspect no one was waiting desperately by their computer, refreshing over and over again waiting for my post. It is a goal of mine to post something every weekday right now, and I’m annoyed that Friday got away from me, even if you aren’t. So let’s get back to my original point.

Does the form that a story take make any difference in regards to the quality of the story being told?

I say no.

Cover of "Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1: Scott Pi...

Cover via Amazon

I just finished reading the whole first compendium of The Walking Dead. I also just finished the 3rd book in the Scott Pilgrim series which I am just now getting, one book at a time as they are released in color. These got me thinking about if the fact that they’re technically comic books has any effect on the story. I claim that if I enjoy they story, then it makes no difference if it’s a graphic novel, traditional novel, young adult books, fantasy, sci-fi, romance, television show mini-series, short film or feature length film. What really matters is the quality of the story, and more importantly, how I feel about it.

I love the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World Movie. I also love the Graphic novels. I really think it’s got an interesting blend of story, and whimsy as well as a large amount of pop culture references. I also happen to think that the humor is especially hysterical in a way that only causes me to laugh harder when someone thinks that it’s stupid. The movie seemed aimed at a more generalized young adult crowd, while the graphic novel seems more specifically targeted. The main point being that the story is excellent.

If you’re an adult and you really seem to get the most enjoyment out of young adult or teen fiction books, who cares? Did the author write an engaging story that entertained you enough that you wanted to keep reading and enjoyed the entire time? then who cares what section they keep it in at the bookstore?

Do you feel silly reading “comic books” because you’re an adult and “those things are for kids”? Doesn’t matter if the author captures your imagination.

It’s no real secret around here that I am a giant child, and I am unapologetic about that fact. I devour stories, in all their forms. Almost everyone has some form of media that seems to speak to them in a way that the rest don’t. Don’t let someone’s arbitrary cataloging turn you off to something that you enjoy because you’re worried what someone else might think. Be a man who reads romance books, or a lady who likes high fantasy. Be a teen girl that likes aliens or a young boy who likes Agatha Christie. Doesn’t matter.

Let whatever kindles your imagination start a fire that never truly dies. Keep that fire burning in embers until the next thing comes along to help you stoke it back into a roaring blaze. Most of all, don’t let anyone else tell you what to stoke your fire with.

Anyone ever tell you that what you were reading/watching/listening to wasn’t for “people like you”? What was it?

Ow.

So, today I went straight from work to go have a discussion about a problem I was having with the furniture store. I got all amped up about it because I didn’t know if they were going to

An old Stiga lawn mower. Its almost broken, wi...

An old Stiga lawn mower. Its almost broken, with the start cord pulled off (Got to be started with a electric screwdriver directly on the engine). Really old model. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) NOT REALLY ME OR MY MOWER

pretend it wasn’t a real problem. Everything went fine, so not fireworks there.

Then I came home and had to mow the lawn. It’s been way too long so I had to bag the clippings. This adds extra work to the whole experience. I’m not overly fond of mowing in the first place, and bagging really just takes it to that next level. Two important things happened while I was mowing: First, I think it was the bagging, but I’m now so sore I can barely move, and second I like rap and people find that weird.

I like certain rap and hip hop artists a lot more than some people think I should. I think I need to give you some back ground here. I generally don’t listen to the radio. I find music I like and I buy it and listen to it via some magic wireless device. So I tend to not be overly familiar with ‘What’s Hot’. This means that when I like rap or hip hop that it isn’t just because everyone likes it and it’s on the radio all the time.

I prefer to make my own music judgments. I have a few friends that I can take what they say about music pretty much as gospel. If The Artist says I ‘ll like it, I can just go buy that album. If The Rockstar tells me to listen to something, I have got to give it shot and it might broaden my horizons. Otherwise, I could truly give a rat’s ass what’s ‘popular’ on the radio. Give me Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” over whatever hip new rock act is in. Give me The Righteous Brothers “(You’ve Lost) That Lovin’ Feelin'” over Taylor Swift any day.

One thing that weirds people out though is that I legitimately like some rap music. This is confusing to them because I am a middle-class white male who grew up in a middle class white family in a smallish town. Nothing ties me to hip hop. I never had any friends big into hip hop or anything like that.

Personally, I think it’s the rhythm and the lyrics. I always really enjoyed songs with a story to tell. That’s why I like The Decemberists. Creative storytelling. I mentioned the other day that I have a soft spot for anything with and awesome beat. Combine those two things, especially in a rapper with great lyrical skills and I’m hooked. I’ve been loving Macklemore pretty recently, and I’m a big fan of Machine Gun Kelly. I’ve always liked Ludacris.

It might be a little weird, but I’m nothing if not a little(or a lot) weird.

Do you have any hobbies or interests that just kind of make people scratch their heads?

Wimps! Wimps I say!

As I have shared before, I am a fan of the Cleveland sports teams. That includes the Indians, who had an excellent weekend sweeping the Kansas City Royals during their first home stand of the season. There were also some theatrics on Saturday night that got me riled up about the state of sports and what that says about us as a country.

Top of the 3rd inning, Shin-Soo Choo of the Indians gets hit by a pitch. Choo yells at the pitcher, people meander out of the dugouts, lots of yelling and jawing at one another. Warnings are issued by the umpires (we’ll revisit this in a moment). Bottom of the 3rd inning, Indians pitcher Gomez drills Moustakas from the Royals, benches clear. Jack Hannahan of the Indians lets all the Royals know how he feels about all of this. End result: Gomez, Hannahan, Manager Manny Acta tossed from the Indians.

Seems like a fairly routine set of baseball interactions when someone gets hit by a pitch that may have been not really on purpose, but certainly didn’t upset the pitcher who hit someone, right? That’s exactly the problem. The whole issue I have is that the warning by the umpires always comes as soon as someone gets hit and tempers flare. The umpires tell the adult men, “You’d better behave or we’ll punish you!” Personally, I think the adults can handle it themselves.

Yes, in this particular instance, “Handle it themselves” means someone from the other team gets drilled with a baseball at 90 MPH. I don’t actually see a problem with this. It would have been handled, and if at that point, the umpires want to let everyone know that it should be over and they wont stand for anymore shenanigans, so be it.

As has become the norm for violence in all sports, only the guy who retaliates gets punished. Where’s the problem? You might say, of course he should be punished, retaliation should always be punished. WRONG!

Especially in sports, where people are talented and passionate, and emotions run high, people ought to be able to handle their business on the field/court by themselves. Anyone gets hit by a pitch in baseball, warnings and the next guy who hits someone purposefully or otherwise gets tossed. In football, people start shoving one another after a play, second guy gets flagged. Someone takes a cheap shot or late hit on your guy, you can’t say boo to the guy that did or you get flagged. In basketball, if a guy takes a cheap shot at your star player, you can’t so much as get in the guys face before technical fouls are handed out all around and the first one to complain about that gets a second tech and is thrown out of the game. Even in hockey, where they allow fighting and always have, referees are beginning to limit it to one fight a game, and they only allow a couple punches to be thrown before they step in.

Most people don’t see the issue with limiting the amount of blatant violence allowed in the middle of a sporting event. I’m here to tell you that limiting that reaction is causing us all to become wimps.

Lots of us are taught from the time that we’re little things like: No fighting, violence isn’t the answer, hitting people is wrong no matter what. The problem with that is that there is always someone who will take advantage of someone else who won’t fight back. That applies to people, animals, families, countries, and just about every other interaction that involves living things with instincts.

I’m not saying people should be ready and willing to jump up and fight over every little slight that they might experience. It truly is more admirable to be able to say, “I don’t need to retaliate to this, because I am alright.” If someone never fights back though, someone else is bound to notice and find a way to use this to their benefit.

We are finding ways to try to show everyone, all the time, that fighting back is wrong. You should always “Be the bigger person and walk away.” In an ideal world, yes you should. Our world is far from ideal.

What we should be teaching is how to tell the difference to a minor insult or slight, and an attack on someone/something you believe in/care about.

This is one of those things that categorically sounds like a good thing to teach people. To not retaliate or escalate a situation, but I bet each and every person could think of something that they feel is too much to resist fighting back for or about in a split second.

To me that’s just further proof that somethings really are worth fighting for, and knowing the difference is something we should be learning.

Wanna tell me I’m an idiot? That I should be the King of the World? Comments are at the bottom.