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I am a mess

Posted 27 October 2005, 2.43 am by Solitary Observer

I thought I would know how to start this. But I don't.

But luckily I can send this (almost) anonymously, if I will send this. Because I'm a mess. And I don't know how totell that to anybody. And that really means everybody I know. I am a sad person because I can't trust anybody. I have a cage inside my mind.

Can you imagine how that feels?

What do I have for comfort? What do I have that has kept me going unto this point? I think. About the whole world, and what is going on in it. And I'm quite sure I'm not the only one who feels the same way I do.


And, when I think about it all, I conclude I have a problem. A problem about My Identity. But, I don't think it is really my problem. The problem I sense in the form of my unhappiness and the feeling of unsecurity is caused by a problem in the whole world. The world (as we know it) is formed by the nature, and the people is only a part of it.

And the part of the world, which has became aware of itself (i.e. the people?), is, at the moment, shattered. It has lost the sense of what it is as a whole. Or, maybe it never had that sense, and is just gaining it trough pain?

Anyhow, that (the whole thing I described in the paragraph above) manifests itself in people in certain ways. And one of those ways is that people come too individualistic. They trust in nobody. They believe that every individual make their own future by the choices they make. And, in a sense, they believe, those who fail, must have made the wrong decisions.

But I sense differently. I feel I am nothing by myself. I need other people. But still, I somewhat feel uncomfortable among them. As I said, "I can't trust anybody". But I also sense there is no way I can continue that way.

Every mind cannot feel itself complete unless it has gained the priviledge of being a part of something greater than the individual.

In Memory

Posted 19 October 2005, 1.38 am by Andy

Yesterday I watched Terminator 3 for the 11th time and, for the 11th time, forgot the name of the actor who played the character of John Connor. Having the movie practically memorized, I didn't feel too bad drifting off into an internal tangent and trying to sound out the guy's name in my head. Is it Ed? Eddy? No, that was the guy in the second movie. Jack? No... John? No, that's the character's name. Mark... Mike... Michael? Michael Biehn! No, that's the guy from the first movie. Ugh... he's creepy. I think he was in The Rock, too. Hmm. Charlie...Tim... Jack... no, I already thought Jack. Damnit! The most frustrating part was the fact that I knew that I knew it; it was somewhere up there in the web of my memory banks, just waiting to be untangled and set free, only to be captured again in the week or two of time until I watched the movie again.

But memory can be like that sometimes. Why do I remember what I had for dinner last night (salmon) when I can't remember the first time I heard my mother say my name? Clearly the latter is more important (though it was good salmon), so why isn't it as important to my brain? Isn't it still up there, somewhere, waiting to be unraveled and admired? Memory is literally everything a person can remember -- whether you remember it or not. What this means is that everything that your brain has the capability of recalling at any given time is your memory. So what was the name of the girl on whom I had my first crush? I don't know. Ask me tomorrow. Maybe I'll remember it then.

The word "memory" itself is really quite versatile. For example, something can be held in your memory, or that same thing can be your memory; your memory is both the act of remembering something and the act of storing that something for later remembrance; memory is at the same time everything that you have ever remembered and the few things that you are remembering at any given instance; it is both a noun (as in, your memory) and a verb (as in, the act of committing something to memory), and the one part of all of our computers that we hope to be infallible ("my dog didn't eat my homework, but my computer did").

So then why can't I, a 23-year-old college student in the early stages of alcoholism, remember the name of an actor I have seen perform a dozen times, when I remember Billy Stender's birthday party when I was in the fourth grade? I suppose it could possibly have to do with the fact that the latter was more traumatic, and therefore more memorable. We were playing hide-and-go-seek and I was running my ten-year-old ass off trying to make it to the woods behind Billy's house before he finished counting to 100. I remember thinking it was strange that no one was running in the same direction as I, but it didn't matter; I was going to have the best hiding spot on the property. I could've camped out there for weeks... had I ever made it. It seems the reason no one was following me to my destination was because there was a nearly invisible metal wire fencing in his parents' property just a few feet from the tree line: an electric fence which I found -- and remembered -- after it clothes-lined me, electrocuted me, and simultaneously knocked the air out of my lungs. I lay there gasping and twitching for what seemed like hours (but was merely seconds) before regaining myself, ducking under the fence, and climbing behind the nearest tree. It was a really good hiding spot.

I guess, then, it must come down to the reasons for which we remember something. I remember everything about my first kiss, but I don't remember anything about my latest (don't tell my current girlfriend). And yet, I remember my most recent day of classes far more vividly than my first day of school. I can recall with almost perfect certainty every kind of beer I've ever consumed in my life, but can no longer remember exactly what my grandfather looked like without a picture in front of me. It isn't fair, when you stop to think about it. It isn't like my mind asked me at some point "so, should I save this for later or just hide it for your therapist to dig out some day?" We simply have no choice in the matter.

I blame the inherent fallibility of our human minds. I suppose, had I trained myself from early on, I would have been able to begin focusing on the small things; the things that we are all bound, as humans, to forget. But who could have known? Looking back, I would have never guessed that I would have forgotten all I have, and remembered so little, and I can only imagine that it is -- slowly but surely -- getting worse. Just as Nick Stahl's name escaped me, the writing of this paper will someday do the same. Wait a minute, Nick Stahl! That's it! The guy from Terminator 3. Not the girl I liked in kindergarten. That'd just be weird. OK now, where was I?

Using SMS to increase profits

Posted 17 October 2005, 7.01 pm by HockeyGod

One of my old employers used to constantly bring up 1800-flowers when talking about positive customer contacts. After sending his mother flowers for her birthday, they sent him a reminder email next year saying "Mark, don't forget Greta's birthday next month. Order some flowers today and we'll make sure they arrive on time".

In fact when it comes to customer contact points and encouraging repeat sales, few companies do better. You're ARE using follow up emails right? Of course you are!

Well, it's time to take that concept to the next level. How many of you use SMS to contact customers? In fact, how many even know what SMS stands for?

SMS stands for Short Message Service, and is nothing more than those cell phone text messages your kids constantly send back and forth. While they are responsible for providing us with a ton of internet slang, bad grammar, and "wrds tht r typd wthout usng vowels 2 save kystroks", it can be used for beneficial purposes too.

Recently, hospitals have started using text messages to remind patients about appointments. A patient signs up for the text message reminder service, and is sent a text message an hour or so before the appointment reminding them to show up. Since it rolled out, hospitals have seen a 30% decrease in missed appointments.

People must actually be reading these!

Now, imagine if instead of his email, Mark got a text message to his phone saying "Don't forget your mom's birthday. Call us at 1800 Flowers or visit us online to view our birthday bouquets." If your customers are anything like me, they'll appreciate you for taking time to remember their mother's birthday. (If they're really anything like me, they'll have forgotten completely about it until getting your message.)

SMS is simple, fun, personal, way more likely to be read than email, and just as easy to send. In fact, most cell phone providers support sending text messages via email. This means your current mailer program can send an SMS without having to make any changes. (Just keep your message under 140 characters to be safe.)

If you want to see how well they work for yourself, you can use a website like textmemos.com to send yourself a free text message reminder.

Start offering text message reminders today as an added service and watch as your highly targeted, personal messages increase your sales in ways you never imagined.

Poppies

Posted 27 September 2005, 11.54 pm by Waldo

God-damned human-beings. You fucking apes. Monkeys in monkey suits. You violent, tribal cock-suckers, even now. Civilization only increase the size of our idiocy and desire. We’re murderers, things of passion and quietude. But in as much as we’re social animals and conflicting ones we’ve that darling war with us. That horseman.

So long as there’s society there’s war, the massive struggle of the blind acted out by the faceless. Were it not physical we’d find another way of acting it out. The struggle, our struggle

And there are those who say we shouldn’t at all. That recognizing our oneness in humanity is paramount, that to do so would be Progress (ignoring the boons of war and not just for the victor in the matter).

Is Germany better now than if they’d won the second World War? I’ll leave that the man in the High Castle, but I’m inclined to think “Yes.” for whatever reason I’ll cast next.

But perhaps that is unfair, perhaps putting those words in the pacifist’s mouth is unfair and paints him poorly. The fundamental, inescapable proposition behind any pacifist is this: My life is more important than any idea. It might go differently clothed, but that’s the heart of it.

Wars are fought for whatever reason the blind should wish. Land, resources, “They’ve the wrong color skin and are poor,” “My polls are slagging off! Nukes to the ready!” and on and on. They need only invent and lie. Or open their mouths. But there is such a thing as a just war.

So long we hold concepts high there will be. We’ve seen wars of liberation, of independence and the death of kings. Rome even freed herself and those thousand Greeks held off the well learned Persians. And these ideas are significant. The freedom of Rome had vast, infinite really to human eyes, consequences ever since. History makes and murders us all and the idea of a Republic came into the middle of the Italian peninsula and burst over everything.

But we might not re-write history. Would any of our beloved modern rights and privileges survive the fall of Rome to Carthage? Would Xerxes re-write Title IX? If some blameless sniper puts one through Washington’s palate do only the richest princes of Europe own a personal computer?

So set that aside. Fuck history, the bitch isn’t useful for anything else.

Let’s murder each other. Let’s agree to for the sake of our principles. Is it worth dying to save the vote? Even if it doesn’t last, is it worth a life so that some society might be freer as we define it?

The pacifist says no, he says that nothing matters more than that his own two lungs remain free of metal and blood, that his precious heart keep going on until cold and alone with the natural, scarless corpses of his family in his mind he passes like a flat, warm turd from this world. The pacifist values nothing beyond himself. He is selfish and blind beyond himself and should be spit upon, that the impact might bring some awareness.

Surely not all wars are just.

Had the second World War gone the other way it might be called just, it did then after-all save us at least from the horrors of Jewish traitors and manipulation. Those damned filthy kikes. And give us a world free of communism and capitalism, those great exploiters. The great fascist, the man of action who needn’t’ve thought a day in his life, stands to show the way. Dear Leader!

But we say that the war against the Nazis was a good one, one for freedom and peace, while the war begun by the Nazis, the war of extermination and conquest (for surely we didn’t intend to conquer anyone and remake them as we best saw fit), carried out in the name of peace and freedom, was unjust, was criminal in fact.

Again, I’ve wandered into history.

Ideas are what matter, ideas change things and need to be fought for in minds and bodies. Should any think different they mustn’t value their world beyond themselves and mustn’t have any sense of the future but only themselves. Those selfish twigs, less than worthless things they do more than drag us down but do damage. Foul creatures. Spit on them.

Should we cease dreaming? Should we die in our minds and live only in the world? Progress is earned and measured in pints and white crosses. To give up on war is to say that so long as it’s bearable, life is good. What foulness to stain yourself with, what an appeal to the lowest possible thought, the egoism and selfishness of it. Not everything is worth dying for. You needn’t love your country or your neighbors or even hate the fellows you’ll be sent to murder (to say that war isn’t a sort of murder is to absolve all sides of any moral foresight and destroy the idea that commanders can be held accountable when their soldiers rape the countryside or butcher or gas and burn prisoners, war is nothing but full of murderers) to find a reason, you might only think that the principle of democracy is significant or that fully half the population of Iraq shouldn’t be disenfranchised but theocrats, nevermind also the ethnic atrocities political and other.

If life is to have meaning, we must have war, we must have ideas and give them the significance they demand. To remove war as a justifiable option is to take down whatever meaning life has.

Baghdad or Bust

Posted 26 September 2005, 4.56 am by Duncan-O

So we put on our desert cammies this week. They’ve been balled up on the floor of my closet since they were issued about four months ago. I pulled them out the other day and took them to the cleaners to get them starched and pressed so they’ll look all nice up until we leave for the sandbox. After I wear each set (in this cool weather, they’re good for two or three wearings before the creases fall out and they start to get a little funky), I’ll soak them in this stinky permethrin solution they issued us to keep the bugs away. The pesticide, in addition to being a carcinogen, lasts about 6 washes before the clothing needs to be retreated. It’s a very useful chemical – it’s credited with saving thousands of young lives in Africa by way of impregnated mosquito nets. It may smell like turpentine, but it sure beats Leishmaniasis or malaria or sandfleas or any of the other nasties just waiting in the Iraqi desert to feast on my tender white skin.

The new uniforms are significant in the way that only those units that are about to deploy or those who are getting back wear them. People have been looking at us differently. In a town chock-full of people in camouflage, I guess we stand out. But the uniforms are also significant to me in that every time I look at myself in the mirror or check my watch and catch a glimpse of my shades-of-tan sleeve, I am reminded of the enormity of what I’ve taken on for myself. Will I make the right choices?

My greatest fear, other than my mother endlessly weeping, is dishonoring myself. After that, it’s Cindy Sheehan sticking a shitty white cross with my name Sharpie-d onto it into the dirt in Crawford, Texas. Or Sean Hannity telling his listeners that I sacrificed for Freedom. Fuck you, fuck all of you who claim to speak for us. You claim to “support the troops,” yet use the blood and agony, the full-body burns, the severed limbs and severed lives, the infidelity and divorces and broken families brought about by long deployments; you use all of this to support your own agenda. You think you know. You think you have a fucking clue, yet you use death as a paving stone in the road of your good intentions.

Because I joined, maybe presumptuously, to make a difference. I joined because I thought my judgement, my skills, my brainpower might help alleviate the suffering caused by this clusterfuck we’ve been aggravating in Iraq since I was a child.

I joined because it’s my responsibility.

Why Recycling Is Bad For Our Musical Environment

Posted 18 September 2005, 12.02 pm by Alexander

So, we’re all aware that recycling our household waste helps save the planet and keeps the cost of my dolphin-skin loafers down, but the practice of recycling musical ideas helps no-one.

I’m getting increasingly annoyed with the lack of imagination, and just plain laziness, evinced by bands recently. All too often, the same riffs are knocked out under the guise of “influenced by” or “homage to”, when really what the bands should be saying is “yeah, we tried writing our own and they just weren’t as good”. If the rest of Led Zeppelin were dead, you could wrap copper wire round their spinning corpses and use them as a power source.

As musicians, are we that afraid of failure that we’d rather tread a well worn path, jump on an already full bandwagon, than actually do something different? And if it’s not the artists to blame, it must be the record buying public. Why do they listen to Franz Ferdinand and not Gang of Four? Why do people listen to Razorlight (at all)? Could it be that cynical record companies prey on the ignorance of the punter to keep selling them the same thing in different packaging?

It’s important to remember that music doesn’t have a half-life, so all these young’uns who weren’t around when the levee broke, could just as easily go and buy the back catalogue, listen to the roots of the “new music” and draw their own influence from it - pick it and choose it and respond to an original rather than a cheap photocopy. I’m not saying we should all listen to Robert Johnson and disregard the Stones, but we should recognize that Jagger et al owed much of their success to Howling Wolf, and go back and rediscover the source. And don’t worry about robbing today’s bright young things of a living – bands like Bloc Party and The Libertines should be giving their royalties to The Jam anyway.

Pop really will eat itself, and this constant in-breeding, this regurgitation of the same signature guitar chops and vocal stylings just serves to water down any kind of personality, feeling and meaning the music was supposed to have. Okay, there’s only seven notes to play with, but they’re supposed to be put in a pot with your worries, your experiences, your passions and served hot and fresh. Not reheated from a crackly vinyl LP you found in your dad’s loft.
It all comes down to taking risks, and I would much rather watch a band try something new and fail, than succeed in aping their heroes. And with the exception of Stars in their Eyes viewers, so would everyone else.

The Song's the Thing

Posted 12 September 2005, 9.52 pm by Alexander

As a songwriter there’s one thing I aspire to – the perfect song - writing a collection of thoughts, notes, rhythms and dynamics that affects someone else. It’s really that simple. That’s the reason I started making music, because I want to have an emotional impact on other people, as my heroes have had an emotional (and often philosophical) impact on me. When people say to me “I’ve had one of your songs stuck in my head all day” it’s fantastic – one of the best feelings in the world is renting out a portion of someone’s subconscious, even if they could just as easily say the same thing about the Crazy Frog.

I believe fundamentally that a good song transcends it’s treatment – it’s arguable that Bob Dylan couldn’t really sing, or play guitar, but he’s written some of the most timeless songs in musical history. I believe a truly great song could be played on a kazoo, and still be great. This is how Abba survive the horrible 70s production, and countless 80s bands have songs that are rediscovered continually, despite the mullets and flecked jumpers. You just can’t kill a good song, unless you’re the Crazy Frog perhaps.

But OK, where does this leave artists like Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, SPK, Throbbing Gristle, Boyd Rice? Things get a little more complicated now – these aren’t karaoke classics, you can’t sing along, but yet qualitatively they’re just as important as David Bowie or Jimi Hendrix. Why? Because music is a form of communication. Just as we communicate using body language, nuances of speech and implication, so music communicates through emotion, artifice and intent.

A week or so ago I attended a metal gig, four bands playing incredibly heavy, loud hardcore. Not usually my cup of tea, but it was definitely interesting. The vocalist of each band would give the crowd the long and involved song title, then proceed to grunt, scream and shout unintelligibly for four or five minutes. One of the bands was from Sweden, and I swear I couldn’t tell you which one. I was left thinking – what is being communicated here? Of course I was looking in the wrong place – the message wasn’t necessarily in the sounds being produced, but the energy and aggression and intent of the musicians. The message quite literally was FWAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHH. I’d been a fool. It was awesome.

So yes, the song is the thing, but the song is no longer a story told around a campfire with an acoustic guitar. It’s drop D tuned guitars and five string basses, tortured samplers and asymmetrical fringes. Like our own vocal chords, music has evolved.

What's My Motivation?

Posted 4 September 2005, 12.20 pm by Alexander

First off, let’s start with a warning. If you’re the type of person who sneers derisively when someone mentions art, or thinks calling yourself an artist is “pretentious”, you might want to turn the page, because I’m going to talk about the role of the musician and why it’s so important that the people we allow on our stages have at least a transitory grasp of how special they are.

Music transcends language, culture, geography and any of the other barricades humanity has erected between itself, making it perhaps the most powerful tool for communication we have. Music is an art form, nobody would argue that. So doesn’t that make musicians artists? I reckon so. Just as DuChamp’s urinal is – arguably - as artistically valid as Picasso’s Guernica, it makes no difference if you’re peddling three-chord punk nonsense, bewilderingly self-indulgent math-rock or oh-so-earnest singer songwriter mewling, you’re communicating with your audience and essentially creating art. This puts you in a very privileged position. You’re on stage in front of a mic, guitar in your hands, you open your mouth, raise your plectrum, then…?

This moment is the sum total of all the decisions you’ve made to get there. All the rehearsals, band meetings, drunken ramblings, trips to Top Man – this is the point at which you say to your audience “this is what I have to say, this is what I am and this is how I have chosen to use my art”. You’re making a million subconscious statements just by the way you walk on stage.

This is why music – and live music in particular – is so utterly fantastic. It’s this wall of decisions hitting you, the band image, amp settings, gauge of guitar string – none of this is really accidental, if you think about it. A band is nothing more than the sum of its parts, and one of the best things about seeing a band for the first time is waiting for that first note to be struck.

The back of my band’s T-Shirts read “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom”, which is a quote from Soren Kierkegaard, a 19th century Dutch philosopher. In a nutshell, this means we have so many choices, so much freedom to do or say or sing about whatever we like, that this in itself causes us stress. This could be why bandwagon-jumping is such an ingrained practice – by following in someone else’s footsteps you’re reducing the number of choices you have to make, but as artists we should revel in this anxiety.

We should use this wealth of options to its fullest extent because the only limits are those which we ascribe to ourselves. This charged battery of potential is something incredibly special, and if you’re in the singular position of standing in front of a roomful of people, at least some of whom are paying attention, you’d better not waste it.
If you’re making music, you’re an artist and don’t forget it. Have fun for christs sake, above all have fun, but treat your art with the gravitas it deserves and it will thank you for it.

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In 2018 I started painting again. This was one of a series of acrylic sketches I did to relearn techniques and revisit my skills from art college.


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Props to Green Mamba for bringing the weirdness

Hmph

80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!

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