this blog is my sculpture in an empty desert

I’m taking a break from dusting. That’s a lie, I’m actually just looking for other things to do besides dusting, because I hate it so much. Even though our place gets dusty as all hell due to our wood stove and dry, sandy yard, I can only muster the motivation to dust the house once a year. I’ll let our ceiling fan turn black before I finally wipe the son of a bitch off. That’s how much I hate dusting. And did you know there are no good vids on youtube on how to dust quickly? It’s true. You think some clever bastard would have devised an ingenious method for dusting your whole house in 10 minutes flat, but no such luck.

And that’s why, once a year, I have to spend a few hours doing this fucking job, and then break it into smaller chunks with some blogging in the middle of it to distract myself from the slow death water torture of dusting.

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“Wow, this job fucking sucks.”

Speaking of my blog, I wrote a post the other day that slayed me. I laughed a lot as I was writing it. That always feels good, to create something that I like so much. It also gets me excited for what my six friends who read this will think of the post I enjoyed writing so thoroughly.

But since I wrote the post, how much traffic has my blog seen?

One. One view, and it was probably a bot (based on the country the view is from, the viewer’s name, and lack of info).

On one hand, that’s a little disappointing. But on the other hand, it’s perfect, because I have an obsession with people creating stuff that no one (or very few people) ever even witness. I even blogged about it here, and that’s what my blog essentially is: this is my solitary fire flower in an abandoned world, my TV and video games in the lonely desert night. It’s just sitting here, doing its thing despite virtually no one being around to see it. The only difference is my blog exists in the cold, vast theoretical emptiness of the internet instead of the dark of night in a desolate landscape.

That’s awesome. Just like the fire flower and TV and video games, it’s sad, lonely, tragic — if you just stumbled across it, you might wonder who made this thing, and who did they make it for? Why is it here? Does the creator know virtually no one cares about it, and do they care about that? What’s the point of this thing just sitting here in the middle of nowhere?

But the thing is, the answers to those questions don’t matter. What matters to me is that I create stuff I like and toss it out into the empty art gallery of the void, where it can inspire such questions on the few unfortunate souls who happen across it from time to time.

So, mission accomplished.

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These giant monoliths in the desert are an apt comparison to my blog. Perfect.

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so much to say, so little time to fuck around on a computer.

there’s been lots of stuff i want to blog about lately but i’ve been too busy l-i-v-i-n-g — helping friends with renovations, getting firewood, exercising, fixing crap around the house, blah blah blah. which is good, i like doing stuff. i certainly don’t feel guilty when i neglect this blog but it’s also nice to have time to sit down and let the seething rage flow through the keyboard and out to the whole world.

let’s see what’s been on my mind.

  • i went to a few slideshow parties last week after encouraging a few friends who recently returned from traveling to host them. they were both lovely, almost exactly what i had hoped for. it’s a great reason to get together with people we don’t see often enough, hear what they got up to on their adventure, learn more about places and the people there. great stuff.
  • i LOVE doing firewood. it’s a bastard of a job sometimes but there’s something immensely satisfying about it. something i remembered particularly enjoying was stacking it and wondering if i would remember the history behind each piece. i often think about that. like, “will i remember that this arbutus came from the tree i took down for barb? will i remember what a prick this piece was to split?” i also like thinking about the day i finally put a certain piece in the wood stove, how it will patiently sit for a year or so for the day it finally does what it’s been waiting to. it’s kind of beautiful, poetic.
  • i heard someone use the word ‘vivacious’ today. i hadn’t thought of that word in many years. god damn, what a great word. i want to try to remember to use it sometime.
  • today i saw a box of saltine crackers and was blindsided by the memory of a few snacks i used to eat all the time as a kid but had completely forgotten about. i would place nine saltines on a dinner plate, cut nine pieces of cheddar cheese and put one on each cracker, and microwave it for 10 seconds. i loved that snack, wow. i also remember putting peanut butter on saltines. the microwaved cheese snack seems super trashy to me now, but the peanut butter snack is ok. it’s funny how things that can be so big and omnipresent in your life can vanish from your memory like that.
  • speaking of memory, our pal kate told us about an activity she was part of in a university psychology course she took many years ago. the course instructors had allegedly spoken with kate’s parents about three strong childhood memories her parents thought kate would remember. the instructors then asked kate about each of these memories. kate said she could recall the first two but the third was hazy. she was asked to keep thinking about it for a few days and let them know if anything came back to her. bit by bit, details came to her, until it was a fairly cohesive recollection. then she was told that the first two were legit memories while the third was completely false, just something they made up. the point of the exercise was to illustrate the fallibility of memory, how easily manipulated it is,  how real that false memory can seem to us, etc. i thought all of this was both fascinating and horrifying. i wonder if i were in the same activity, would i have bought into the false memory? of course, i like to think i would not, but like anyone else, i probably would. i hate to admit that.
  • van morrison sucks. i’ve never liked him, and i still don’t like him. this came up yesterday and someone said to me, “oh, maybe you’ll like him in 30 years,” implying that maybe i was too immature or inexperienced to appreciate his craft, that maybe i would understand his genius in time. i think that’s a terribly condescending thing to suggest. it’s art, FFS. it’s like pizza: some people like hawaiian, some like meat lovers, some like vegetarian. you wouldn’t say to someone who doesn’t like hawaiian, “you’ll come around when you grow up. you’ll love hawaiian once you are ready to understand it.” some people just don’t fucking like hawaiian, and that’s all there is to it.
  • i want to build a cabin in this style, like a log cabin but built with lumber. like a house made of jenga. mine won’t look this nice but this serves as good inspiration.

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that’s all for now.

i don’t like the suggestion that art should avoid any particular topic

i watched a film called irreversible a while ago. it’s a french flick that is infamous for a brutal rape scene in it. a friend told me about the film and said it was really good, but pointed out the rape scene was tough to watch because it was so convincing. he said it was quite long, like 10 minutes or so, and done in a single, non-stop shot. my pal found it hard to stomach but felt that there was a purpose to both the scene and how it was done. he felt that such a horrific event shouldn’t be edited or stylized, that it should be shown unflinchingly to try to communicate just how ugly and awful it truly is. i thought that was really interesting.

then i was chatting with another friend (a film studies graduate) about the same film, and mentioned all of this to him. this friend seemed to disagree with what my first friend had said, suggesting instead that no acting, directing, or anything else could come close to communicating the real horror of rape, and it was offensive to attempt to simulate it for the sake of film.

i can understand both arguments and think either position is reasonable, but i think the rationale for the second one is kind of flimsy and over-generalized. you could use the same argument and posit that any art about any sensitive issue trivializes it, and is offensive to those who have actually experienced it. i think war films are a great example of this: anyone who has been in ground-level combat will likely tell you that war is hell, so by my second friend’s logic, wouldn’t it be offensive to veterans to see a bunch of artists dancing around on a staged set, trying to imitate something horrible that they have not experienced and couldn’t possibly understand on a visceral level? sure, i think so.

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i love the deer hunter but i bet that if i had survived being a POW in vietnam, i’d probably find its depictions of war cheap and inaccurate.

that wouldn’t make the offended veteran’s opinion the ‘right’ opinion though. there would probably be just as many veterans who felt the opposite way. my point is there’s no consensus on what’s offensive so i don’t think it’s fair to say any subject matter should be taboo due to its sensitive nature.

i think that, like most things in life, this is not something you can make a blanket statement about (even though those are my favourite kind of statement to make). i think each case must be judged on an individual basis: was that art exploitative? did it do justice to whatever it was trying to recreate or communicate? was it being respectful to the subject matter? each viewer should be critical and think about these kinds of questions, come up with their own answers, feel what they personally feel about a piece of art, and accept that other people may feel differently.

to each their own, for fuck’s sake.

stranger things 2 sucks, and snipers are glorified murderers

jenn and i just finished watching stranger things 2. i think it mostly sucked. of course there were elements i liked, like the many nods to classic fantasy/sci fi/horror tropes and how they continue to nail a lot of small details about the 80s, but overall i think this season was really muddled and half-baked. there were so many subplots and relationships between characters that were introduced and then never explored or resolved. there were also a bunch of new characters and none of them were given any development. it was just like, “time for a new bully. steve is out, billy is in. that is all.”

i’ve got so many specific complaints, mostly about undeveloped or unresolved things, that i’m gonna list ’em.

  • eleven’s jealousy of/dislike for max — came up several times, nothing happened with it.
  • mike’s dislike for max — came up several times, nothing happened with it.
  • sexual tension between billy and mrs. wheeler in the last episode — came up once, a lot of time was spent on it, it was fun but it didn’t go anywhere.
  • billy’s abusive father — came up once, sort of explained billy’s bad attitude, seemed like it was going somewhere, but didn’t.
  • nancy and steve — are they broken up or not? never explained.
  • nancy and jonathan — are they together or not? never explained.
  • how did steve turn from the school’s biggest, toughest badass to a wimp overnight, getting picked on by the new tough guy and getting his sensitive heart broken by his girlfriend? that’s ridiculous.
  • kali and the chicago punks — what the hell was the point of that? a whole episode just to show how eleven learned to focus her anger to intensify her power? then we never see kali or her lame gang again — utterly pointless.
  • while i’m on episode 7: eleven showing compassion for her enemies when she almost kills that retired lab guy, then doesn’t — that seemingly important element never comes up again.
  • another episode 7 complaint: the retired lab guy says dr brenner is still alive but nothing ever becomes of this incredible news. i’m assuming this seed is being planted for a major plot line in a subsequent season of the show but i think if that is the case, there should really be some other hints or evidence of it peppered throughout this season the show.
  • billy’s vaguely racist feelings on lucas — seemed like it was going somewhere but didn’t.
  • when the “demodogs” are loose in the lab facility, why do they kill everyone except dr owen? he’s only got a few minor flesh wounds. how absurdly convenient.

now, i like art to have a healthy amount of ambiguity. i don’t like things spelled out, i want to use my brain, be left with some questions, fill in the blanks. but there is a clear line between being artfully ambiguous and being inept and lazy, and this season of the stranger things was definitely the latter.

really, the thing i liked the most about stranger things 2 was the fact that our new kittens liked to cuddle with me on the couch when jenn and i watched it, and the show provided a vehicle for that. i definitely didn’t hate the new season but i don’t think i’d recommend it to anyone at this point.

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very disappointed with the show but jeez, this is a great pic. what a bunch of good looking kids, on top of the world and enjoying it. you have to be happy for them. will looks so much better without that fucking bowl cut.

new topic: it occurred to me today that military personnel are trained and given the implements to kill people — despite the fact that murder is illegal in most countries, and the death penalty is becoming increasingly rare. that strikes me as really odd. especially trained military snipers, they specialize in being ruthlessly efficient killers, but if they did the same thing outside of their military jurisdiction they would be persecuted, jailed, and possibly even killed themselves. it’s an incredible double standard. who gets to say when it’s ok to kill someone, and when it’s not, when killing is absolutely illegal for 99.9% of us?

i’d like to see the names and faces of military officials who authorize the use of deadly force, and the names of faces of people who carry that stuff out. i want to look in their eyes and see if i can discern any hint of a god complex or some similar psychopathic disconnect from the world that most of us live in. i wonder if sanctioning murder or being a sanctioned murderer weighs on the psyches of those folks the same way it might on the mind of a common criminal, despite having some sort of social license. do they wrestle with it? do they feel guilt? do they feel justified? do they view their ‘targets’ (what a cold term for a fellow person) as nothing more than that? do they have to turn off any sense of empathy in order to do their job?

i need to meet a sniper and have a chat with them. i have a lot of questions.

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i bet he has some problems at home.

the curse of having a hit song

when chris cornell died a few weeks ago, i watched some live soundgarden performances and was surprised to see how bland their setlist was. soundgarden was always one of those bands that i felt did their own thing and didn’t have many casual fans, so i imagined them being like the cure and playing all kinds of obscure deep cuts from their catalogue at live shows. but nope, there was all the expected big hits. i like soundgarden but have never liked spoonman, it’s so boring and straightforward (save for one syncopated drum section in the breakdown) compared to a lot of their other shit so i was disappointed to see it was still a staple of their live show. i can’t imagine playing that song at every show for about 20 years. that would suck.

then a few days ago, i was looking up some primus stuff. i was aware of primus back in the 90s but never followed them so watching wynona’s big brown beaver in the year 2017 was a pleasant surprise. i hadn’t heard the song since high school so i thought, “wow, what a hidden gem from that long lost era. i bet it’s rare anyone even thinks about this song anymore.” but then i looked up live performances of the tune, and guess what — primus is still active, and still trudge through that fucking song with absolutely zero passion at every show. but you can’t blame them. we’d all be sick of playing the same song hundreds of times per year for 20 years, but that’s what the majority of fans seem to get pumped to hear so you’d probably keep playing it too.

these two examples just reminded me of how shitty it must be to be a popular musician that had a hit song at one time in their career, because no matter how often you have had to roll your eyes and go through the motions of that tired old track, the audience will still want more of it. most of them don’t want to hear your new shit or some obscure old stuff that you think is actually really cool, and that sucks for the artist. the artist ends up being a fucking monkey on a leash, doing expected tricks for children who clap and cheer. it’s a sad fate.

no, better to quit while you’re ahead and avoid a ‘greatest hits’ setlist, or say “fuck you” to your fans and just do whatever you want and end up with a tiny fanbase, or toil in obscurity for your entire career so no one ever has any expectations of you. those are clearly the superior options to making boatloads of cash while being annoyed on stage for an hour or two every other night.

the advice of a pessimist.

i’m consistent

jenn and i watched david lynch’s blue velvet a few nights ago. i watched it way back when i was 19 or so, long before i became a fan of lynch’s work. back then, i wasn’t that into the film. i had heard lots about it and wanted to see what the buzz was about but i thought most of it was pretty boring and senseless.

since becoming familiar with lynch’s style and generally loving it, i’ve been meaning to re-watch blue velvet to see what i missed that first time. but the second time around, almost 20 years later, i still feel exactly the same about it. i thought a few parts were neat but it largely seemed unfocused and incohesive, like a whole bunch of relevant scenes were missing. and despite all the acclaim, i think dennis hopper is pretty lousy as frank. a few of his lines are delivered well but most just sound like he’s trying really hard to fit “fuck” into every sentence. plus the part where he dry humps dorothy is really stupid. i mean, he gets high and turbo horny and starts beating and molesting her…then dry humps her and acts like he just had an orgasm? are we supposed to assume he came in his pants, that he doesn’t actually need his dick stimulated to cum? i found that really annoying.

anyway, my point is that even after becoming a huge lynch fan and coming to appreciate more subtle, abstract, and artsy films, i still agree with my 19 yr old self: i still don’t like blue velvet. and that’s interesting. i like that i can still relate to my young self, that i still respect that person’s taste, that i can mostly rely on things i thought or felt even 20 years ago. i like me, even the much younger version that i’m sometimes dubious about.

of note is that i can only immediately recall two pieces of art that i have changed my mind on: the entombed album clandestine, and the sepultura album beneath the remains. these are both records i had when i was about 14 but neither of them did much for me. at ben’s request a few years ago, i revisited them and was amazed to find that they are both actually fucking wicked. i remember that i didn’t like fast drum beats back then because i found them confusing — i couldn’t find the down beat, the “1”, the odd numbered beats, however you want to describe it, so all the parts with those beats were lost on me. now i understand those beats and love em, so i guess that was just a case of me being too dumb to appreciate those parts back then. now i can, and my life is richer for it. so thanks for making me reconsider them, benny.

nothing ruins a song faster than words

i recently stumbled across a band i’ve never listened to before, and have had one of their songs stuck in my head for a few days now. i’ve been totally enamoured with it because of the power and strange mysteries it conveyed to me. here it is.

i couldn’t decipher the lyrics, and knew that i shouldn’t look them up since i was very likely to be disappointed by them. but my curiosity got the best of me, and yup. very disappointed. there are no lines that stand out as particularly bad and worthy of me posting them here but they are generally uninspired, typical, boring. just metal heads trying to write typical metal lyrics about typical metal topics.

i have a hard time finding much music i like, and i have an even harder time when i also have to consider the lyrics, especially in metal. it seems like lyrics are a second thought to most metal musicians, like they first come up with music that they like and then feel obligated to put some vocals over top of it so they throw some trite words together and use that. and i’m sick of that approach. words don’t have to suck. words don’t have to be so plain and dull. they don’t have to sledgehammers, driving home the point of your dumb statement. the right combination of words can be as abstract and interpretive as any music. they can paint swirling, multi-textured scenes if you use a finer brush.

and i prefer that. i want more depth in my art, more layers, more to consider. i don’t want to read grade 8 history reports presented as lyrics to a song. that’s dumb.

if people really suck with words, they should stick to instrumentals or get some help with their lyrics. shit, you don’t even have to use real words. you can just make sounds, or make up your own words. fuck it, it’s art, you know? no rules. i’m just tired of people ruining perfectly good music with their garbage words.

but i guess i could have just never read those lyrics. then i could have still liked the song. i guess i have to accept my part of the blame for this mess. shit.