“choose happiness,” said the miserable sod

my grandmother divorced from her husband when she was in her 50’s. she once told me that for years after the divorce, she harbored great bitterness and resentment towards him, that she often imagined what she would say to him if she bumped into him around town, or how she would have handled various events in their marriage if she could only go back in time. she said that eventually, though, she realized that all the negative feelings she kept revisiting never had any impact on him, but they did have a huge impact on her. she realized that she was making herself miserable by continuing to dwell on negative things that she couldn’t change or didn’t intend to follow through with.

once she had this epiphany, she simply stopped giving it any thought. after that, she felt much better.

similarly, a long time ago, my wife jenn said to me, “choose happiness.” i was super annoyed when she first said it because it sounds like something a yoga hipster woman would say, but the more i thought about it, the more i liked it. what “choose happiness” means is, when you are driving home at a respectable 10 km/h over the speed limit and you come up behind some son of a bitch who is putting along just under the speed limit, you have a choice. you can choose to fume and gripe out loud, maybe swerve slightly into the oncoming lane as if to pass the slow driver, perhaps lay on the horn, and get right worked up about this minor inconvenience — or you can realize that you actually aren’t in a big rush for any justifiable reason so you may as well take a deep breath, slow down, and relax.

for whatever reason, we give ourselves a lot of leeway when it comes to embracing anger and frustration. we allow ourselves to stew over tiny, insignificant things and make ourselves miserable. i see people do it all the time. i do it all the time myself (except i usually like to do it). but we have the ability to become more self aware, notice when we repeat negative patterns, and work to break those patterns. i actually frequently think “choose happiness” to myself now as a mantra when i want to snap myself out of yet another loop of rage. i even say it to jenn occasionally, which she absolutely fucking hates.

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“don’t you EVER use my own pretentious, mystical advice on me!”

i’m writing about this now because i was bothered by something else when i got stuck behind an insanely slow driver. i had to remind myself that the slow driver wasn’t what was actually bothering me, and letting myself get worked up about them would only make me even more unhappy. so i relaxed and slowed down and felt better for it.

it’s nice when this kind of stuff actually works. which is only maybe 50% of the time, but that’s still way better than nothing. i welcome any mitigation of my misery with open arms.

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nowhere left for rednecks to get coffee

bill, riley and i used to go to robin’s donuts in duncan. we loved it because it was darkly lit, had a gross orange and brown 70’s decor, and was mostly frequented by kinda rough people — working men and the like.

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drool

generally speaking, we liked robin’s because it was shitty in a funny way, and unpretentious.

but it’s long gone now. the old robin’s building has been a ‘serious coffee’ place for many years, and they of course cater primarily to yuppies and other people who like to pay $5 for skinny caramel macchiatos with extra whipped cream — in other words, detestables.

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i don’t want to hang out at places like this, with people like this.

so when bill and i were talking over the last few days about finding another gross coffee shop to go to, i realized that there are no more gross coffee shops around here. why? because while our town used to have a lot more rednecks and working class types, it has slowly gentrified (well, a little bit anyway) to the point that there are more yuppies and hipsters than working men. there’s not enough business for the dirty, gross coffee shops of the 70’s. they’ve had to get with the times and pretty themselves up, get wifi, and start making frappuccinos, or get left in the dust.

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ah, the good old sayward mall. home to…well, nothing, anymore.

that bums me out. it’s just another reason to move north sometime, to find another place that still retains its working class roots, even in the year 2016. a place like sayward or woss. a place where we can get coffee and baked goods around people who are comfortable making inappropriate jokes, people who aren’t terrified of offending every hypersensitive dickhead. simple folks who aren’t so fucking irritating.

i sure do miss robin’s donuts.

“whole alternatives” is a whole lot of bullshit. so are big film awards.

fuck these guys

i haven’t had popcorn in years and have been watching lots of crappy stephen king flicks with dana recently so i decided to pick some popcorn up. there was all the usual big name stuff but then i saw some stuff with “USDA CERTIFIED ORGANIC” and “GMO FREE” writing on it, and it was on sale for less than the big name stuff. i like organic shit and think monsanto is an entity of pure evil that cannot be trusted (although GMO’s themselves may have some place in the world) so i gave this upstart popcorn a shot.

but it sucks, and that sucks.

the god damn stuff didn’t pop worth a shit. after the instructed time in the microwave, less than half the bag had popped. it tasted fine but i felt ripped off that i got such a paltry amount of popcorn. i didn’t lose my shit over it though, i just thought, “maybe that was a bad bag,” and dana and i continued watching the first episode of the 1997 made-for-tv version of ‘the shining’ (which was awful).

then last night i tried to watch an old jack nicholson film, ‘the passenger.’ it earned some awards back in its day but it sucked. i turned it off halfway through, so boring. you know what i’ve learned? basically, if a film gets academy awards or anything like that, it’s a guaranteed piece of shit. for instance, the whole motivation of nicholson’s character in ‘the passenger’ was unclear from the start. he stole a dead man’s identity but i wasn’t sure why until i read the story online afterward. that’s dumb. shit should be clear, unless it’s an abstract art film. then nicholson met a young girl and she asked who he is. he said he used to be someone else but traded him in. then he asked the girl what she’s doing and she replied that she’s talking to a man who might be someone else. this was not delivered in an abstract, interesting way. it was delivered like two normal strangers just talking, even though what they said was far too unlikely, too implausible, to be a casual conversation. and that pissed me off.

dialogue like that is so fucking pretentiously artsy in the lamest, most flaccid way possible. it’s the sort of shit that gives wannabe art losers boners. it’s for the sort of turds who watch the academy awards and think that they really matter. that’s the sort of people who would say “wow, what great dialogue.” suck my dick. it’s not good dialogue, it’s smug and simpering. it’s shit.

the sort of idiot that thinks limp, unrealistic, vaguely mysterious and romantic dialogue is clever and intriguing.

now think about all the amazing films that didn’t clean up at any awards — akira, eraserhead, the exorcist, mad max, the shining, eyes wide shut, edward scissorhands, bladerunner, batman (the michael keaton/jack nicholson one), polyester, the tenant, repulsion, blah blah blah. i could go on. i think all those flicks are a lot more interesting, more multidimensional, more thought-provoking than anything the academy awards has ever gushed over. my point is that any movie that has any edge to it, any aesthetic other than soft, benign, unobjectionable, any film that is not palatable for mass consumption in some way, is overlooked by the major awards. major awards are just a way for a bunch of phony fucking industry types to pat each other on the back and get drunk on champagne. it’s a sickening thing.

ANYWAY. so i was watching that lousy fucking film and i thought, “maybe some popcorn will make this bearable.” i threw a bag of organic, GMO-free popcorn in the microwave for 3 minutes, like the directions said. and by the end of it, nothing had popped. nothing. the bag was as flat as when i put it in. i had never encountered such a faulty bag of popcorn before so i didn’t know what do do. i put it in for another 3 minutes and the stuff popped intermittently but by the end, the bag looked pretty full. i shook it, opened it, and found once again that less than half of the stuff had popped. i thought, “fuck,” and ate it because it was getting late and i needed to get through this god damn movie. i was left with a half-full bowl of popcorn kernels staring at me, mocking me, reminding me of my wasted $4. so i put a plate over the bowl and put them back in the microwave for 4 more minutes. by the end of that, most of them appeared popped. i tried one and it was bland as all hell. that was it, i gave up. i threw the shitty popcorn out, turned off the stupid fucking movie, and went to bed.

it was a bad night. i considered it.

do you know what really pisses me off about the popcorn? not my wasted $4. i can suck that up. what pisses me off is that other people who may be on the fence about supporting organic and GMO-free stuff might try this popcorn, have the same shitty experience as me, and say “holy fuck, organic stuff sucks. i’m just going to stick with cheetos and their chemicals and unsustainable palm oil farming practices.” i’m worried about this crappy ‘whole alternatives’ brand giving organic, GMO-free food a bad rap.

so i went to their website, which is so terrible that it looks like a fake site. i clicked on ‘contact us’ and expected to see an online comment/complain form, but nope. just a phone #. that’s ridiculous since no one talks on the phone anymore. but i called anyway, and guess what. wrong #. it went to some lady’s voice mail who does not appear to have any connection to ‘whole alternatives’ whatsoever. so i’m not sure how i’m supposed to complain to them.

don’t buy this junk. or better yet, find a way to contact them and give them shit. i sure as hell can’t.

and that’s how i wound up here, bitching at great length about my terrible popcorn and film experiences of last night.

first world problems.

i’m so embarrassed that i used to like nightwish

nightwish is a super shitty finnish ‘metal’ (i use the term very, very loosely here) band. about 15 years ago, i heard their version of the gary moore song, ‘over the hills and far away,’ and really liked it. then i checked out their album, oceanborn, and liked it too. i mean, they always had an embarrassing “i’m a passionate poet” aspect to them, but there was lots of great music to make up for it. here is oceanborn.

it has tons of power metal, classic metal, and progressive metal elements to it, so the operatic vocals didn’t sound terrible to me. they were just a new twist on other tried and true metal styles.

then i checked out everything else by them, and it’s all sucked.

the album before oceanborn sounds immature, unprofessional, like the band was still obviously growing. and virtually everything nightwish has released after oceanborn is 100% disney metal. no joke, it’s usually about the beauty and the beast, angels coming to life, magical worlds, that sort of thing. christ, it’s like they’re making heavy metal aimed at a 3-8 yr old demographic, except it’s not aimed at a 3-8 yr old demographic. it’s just what they like to do, and that level of sulky goth-ness makes me sick.

also, all of their songs since oceanborn sound EXACTLY THE SAME. for any aspiring disney metal artists out there, i’ve broken down the formula for you. here it is:

  • pretty keyboard intro
  • guitar and bass and AC/DC drum beat come in, everyone acts like it’s super heavy
  • guitar and keyboards drop out — just bass, vocals, and AC/DC drums during the first verse
  • guitar and keyboards come back in for chorus
  • repeat verse, this time with some subtle keyboards or guitar for added tension
  • chorus
  • some crappy bridge (anything will suffice, really)
  • move the chorus up a whole tone

that’s it, the secret to nightwish’s success! now every overgrown disney goth can have it!

the main dude behind the band, tuomas holopainen, is unapologetic about his garbage creations. he thinks he’s a great artist, calling his songs “a labor of love, the fruit of dedicated hard work and of the highest quality.” here’s a pic that i think really illustrates the kind of pretentious goth horseshit artist he is.

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that makeup, the smirk, the down-turned face, the sparkly scarf, the poor man’s pirates of the caribbean hair and beard…good grief.

 

and now for the worst parts: i’ve seen nightwish live. and not once, but twice. i know, i’m sorry. the first time in seattle, i had the excuse that i wasn’t too familiar with their post-oceanborn material, and was expecting lots of power-prog metal. i actually don’t think they played ANYTHING from oceanborn at that show despite my screams for it, but they did put on a really good show. then they came to victoria so i went to see them again. this time though, i guess there was lots of turmoil brewing in disneyland and the band was not so enthusiastic. it was a lackluster performance, with none of the awesome songs i wanted, and get this: there was a part in one song where tuomas played by himself, and then at the end of his part, he broke down into tears on stage. as if this particular part of his song was so deeply personal, so intimately connected to his teen goth anguish, that he had to have a good cry, publicly, right there in front of everyone. i almost puked. then to make it worse, the rest of the band came over and hugged him as a show of support! i almost double puked.

and that was the end of me showing any support for nightwish. at this point, i want nothing more of them than tuomas to listen to some more judas priest or iron maiden and get back to making half decent power-prog metal, or else get kicked in the guts by his pet unicorn, rupture his liver, and die of internal hemorrhage. after 15 years of the same song, ceaseless drama with singers, and subsequent public airing of dirty laundry, it simply must end.

i want to close with a great recent quote from my good friend, riley:

“Every time i hear about Nightwish I just listen to South of Heaven again because life is too short.”

i think the greatest achievers are often the most unlikeable weirdos

i have a theory. it started out in early 2007 when i became intimately acquainted with the rollins band album, ‘the end of silence.’

i was going through a difficult period of change (not like a sex change or anything, just personal growth) and that album suited my state of mind at the time really well. it spoke to me so clearly, it applied to me in such huge ways that i felt connected to henry rollins, like we shared some powerful core experience. i became really curious about henry rollins on a personal level and i checked out a number of his interviews, like this one with nardwuar, the human serviette.

and i realized, “jesus christ, hank rollins is an asshole. i wouldn’t want to hang out with him at all.” i was shocked! i couldn’t believe this man who had been instrumental in helping me through such a difficult time could be such a dickhead.

then i started thinking about some of my other favourite artists, like prince. i think prince is god-like. i firmly believe he is a michaelangelo or davinci of our lifetime, he is truly a living legend. but same thing, he’s a fucking dink. he’s so esoteric and smug and pretentious. and the same goes for a lot of other great artists who are geniuses but really fucking unlikeable in a great variety of ways — sting, mike patton, david lynch, stanley kubrick, marlon brando. i could go on but i’m sure you get the idea. it’s a shame but i think it’s largely inherent to any artist who ventures out on their own, doing something new and interesting and genuine. they have to be strong, proud, stubborn individuals to do something unique and crazy and be successful with it. but those qualities don’t usually make for good buds you want to go for dog walks with.

then i saw the olympics a couple years ago and watched an interview with some world class athlete. i can’t remember who it was but it was a young, beautiful woman who was one of the best in the world at some obscure, essentially useless talent. i thought, “wow, so accomplished, and what a babe. i wonder what lucky dude she’ll end up with.” but then i listened to the interview and she talked about her rigorous training schedule, nutritional regime, how hard she had worked to get to this point, that sort of thing. her entire life from like age 8 on had been all been nothing but buildup to olympic level shotput or high jump or breaststroke or whatever, and i realized that despite the things i admired her for, she was a horrifically imbalanced individual. she had never had the time to make lasting friendships, to date people and learn about love and romance, to party, to hang out at mason’s in the summer and drink discount kick sodas…

it was a poor man’s jolt cola that no one bought, so they sold it for next to nothing. we bought it up like hot cakes.

…and she wouldn’t be any fun to hang out with. she and most other olympic athletes must be so stunted from living with such a singular purpose that i actually feel bad for them. they are on top of the world for a few weeks out of their lives, and the rest of the time they are missing out on the things that make life worth living. or things that make my life worth living, anyway.

and that’s how i came up with this theory that the people who seem the most talented or have achieved the greatest things are probably the most imbalanced, odd, and unpleasant to be around. we average schlubs may not make it into any history books but i’d way rather spend late nights dancing with my pals at seedy bars and house parties than doing anything at all with prince, henry rollins, or david lynch. i love their shit but those guys are weird as all hell.

every new hipster song has a chorus that goes “oooooh oooh oh oh ooooooooh ooooh”

i hate going to big stores. one reason is that they play the worst music. lately it’s all that phony laid back surfer vibe shit, like jack johnson, train, etc. i think they play it because it’s supposed to be the least objectionable stuff they can think of. well, i hate it.

bring earplugs

but you know what trend i noticed recently that is really pissing me off? it’s songs for hipsters that are sort of folk but are also really driving, like ‘folk that all the kids can shake their asses to.’ mumford and sons is the most obvious example of this i can think of. it’s just so fucking pretentious. it’s like a bunch of 20-yr old wienies who grow beards and wear vests and irish-looking caps and play banjos and feel like they’re suddenly older and worldly and wise. what a cruel fucking joke. nothing could be further from the truth.

what a perfect example of the stupid phony assholes i’m talking about. that one freak is even wearing the goddamned hat.

i think the part that irritates me the most is how the chorus of so many songs performed by these brain dead hacks is just a bunch of them all going whooooaaah oooaah ooohhh ooooooaaaahhhh. it’s not that i have a problem with singing non-words, not at all. my problem is that everyone is doing it right now, and i have no doubt that this is going to disappear as quickly as it showed up, just like the big band resurgence trend of the 90’s.

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remember these assholes? do you care? of course you don’t. no one gives a fuck about the cherry poppin daddies anymore, just like they’re not going to give a shit about hipster folk bullshit next month.

of worthwhile note: i found the track below by searching for ‘hipster folk’ on youtube. after just a few vids, i found one with a whooooaaah oooaah ooohhh ooooooaaaahhhh chorus! my seething is thus justified.

another awful hipster music trend is to have a male and female lead sing the same vocal line in the chorus. i think it’s supposed to sound touching and romantic in an old world kind of way but it just sucks. what’s wrong with an interesting harmony, you lazy sluts? FUCK. these clowns do it in this song.

and another thing! bands ripping off 60’s culture! check this out, i like this song…but only because it sounds like it was recorded in the 60’s, the performers dress like it’s still the 60’s, and it sounds like it could be an authentic neil young b-side from back then. making this in 2014 is pathetic! get your own schtick, you hacks!

fuck all this garbage, die die die die die die die die die die die die die die

once is enough.

i first went to burning man in 2009. it was mind-blowing, an absolutely fantastic time. it was tough due to the heat and sun of the desert, and jenn and i had a few big fights there, but overall it was great.

there’s a ton of hype but BM actually is really cool. i think everyone with a remotely open mind should go, but only once.

we went again in 2011. it wasn’t as mind-blowing this time, and i still struggled with the elements, and jenn and i had some more big fights. i enjoyed going out at night with my pal dane. it was his first time there and seeing and doing stuff with him made me kind of see everything through a first-timer’s eyes again. that was really cool.

jenn and i went again this year and this time, i was prepared for the elements and handled them pretty well. i was also more into dressing up in costumes, more into taking part in some respects. jenn and i had had lots of time to reflect on why we had relationship issues at the previous BM’s and were well prepared for this year, armed only with better communication skills: we didn’t fight once! that was great. and we camped with some friends that i don’t see often enough so it was really nice to get to spend so much time with them.

but i didn’t like BM as much this time.

jenn felt the same way, and so did a few of our pals. none of us could really put a finger on why though. it seemed like all the ingredients were there for another mind-blowing time, and i certainly had a good time. but it just wasn’t as good as the first time.

then i was talking with a friend at work and she mentioned that when she does something amazing — like going to burning man for the first time — she never repeats that experience. she does this because she thinks the subsequent times will lack the magic, the wonder of the first, and ultimately pale in comparison. i totally agree with her. i also believe that even if you say to yourself, “this year i’m going to do burning man totally differently than before, i’m going to go with an open mind,” or some other different approach, you are still naturally going to compare that time with previous ones. you’re still going to the same place to do similar things so it’s virtually impossible not to compare them. i know that’s the case for me, at least. the same thing happened with a death metal festival i went to for the second time last year, the maryland deathfest: the first year was amazing, the second year was ehhhhhhhhh…ok.

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you couldn’t beat this lineup with a stick. did i mention i saw bolt thrower not once but TWICE that year, and jo bench smiled at me when i made a heart shape with my hands at her? unreal.

so i don’t think i’ll be going to burning man anymore. i’ve gotten to the point where i can do it relatively easily and comfortably but the magic of that first time just isn’t there anymore. now when i see pretentious wannabe hippies ‘meditating’ (aka burning out in a drug-fueled stupor) to the sunrise, all i want to do is kick them, whereas that first year i may have found them amusing in some way. i’m also going to try to apply this ‘only once’ approach to other super special things, like death metal festivals and whatnot.

boy, it sure sounds depressing when one of your lfe goals is just to mitigate your disappointment. this might be a new low for me. just kidding, i think it’s a great goal. it just sounds funny.

but if a whole troupe of my closest pals decided to go to BM, i would probably go. that would be awesome.