Monday, February 23, 2015

Oscars.

I just watched the Oscars, y'all. I have thoughts.

NPH did ok as host. Does anyone ever really do great at hosting these things? They always look so goddamned stressed. Emma Stone looked amazing and did you know she's in "Birdman"?! I guess I begrudgingly have to watch that now? Cate Blanchett also looked radiant as hell. That woman is a class ACT. Jared Leto was missing something from his '70s look: a ruffled shirt! What a missed opportunity!

Patricia Arquette won best supporting actress and talked about wage gap while fellow nominee Meryl Streep fist-pumped.

There were a couple of moving music performances: one highlighted how slow our progress has been in the civil rights movement (John Legend and Common) and the other was Lady GaGa singing a medley from "The Sound of Music". Should I see that movie too?

Graham Moore, writer of "The Imitation Game", wins Mixtress Rae's Oscars for most inspiring speech by encouraging weirdos to "stay weird". That was really super sweet and I can't wait to reblog endless gifs of that moment on Tumblr later tonight.

John Travolta presented an award with Idina Menzel and he touched her a lot and it creeped me out. John Travolta always creeps me out.

Everyone called Wes Anderson a genius, but I stopped watching "The Grand Budapest Hotel" after an hour in favor of a bath because it doesn't pass the Bechdel test and the main character compared women to meat (wow, how much more cliche can you get?). I want to like Wes Anderson because I like the dry deliveries of his actors and the set design in his movies, and because he looks like Beck, but the parade of white men in his movies is tired. Seriously Wes, if you have room for 27 white dudes in every movie, you can squeeze in a couple of dozen other races and genders, don't you think?

Now for the best picture nominees and my limited and oversimplified understanding of what each film is about:

WHIPLASH: an abusive conductor and his relationship with a student
AMERICAN SNIPER: something about how hard war is and PTSD and stuff
BIRDMAN: a film about how Michael Keaton thinks he'll never move past playing Batman
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL: a Wes Anderson movie set in a hotel
THE IMITATION GAME: a movie about a very accomplished man that wasn't recognized for his genius because he was gay
SELMA: movie about civil rights in the '60s and Martin Luther King, Jr
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING: a movie about Stephen Hawking
BOYHOOD: a movie filmed over the course of 12 years about a boy growing up

First of all, EVERY SINGLE ONE of these movies is about men. Men men men. At least four of these movies are about men that aren't straight (The Imitation Game) and white (Selma) and of able body (The Theory of Everything) and mind (American Sniper).

But guess which movie won fucking best picture?!?! The one about a straight white cisgender beautiful actor (Michael Keaton) whining about no one knowing him as anything but Batman. REALLY?!! Really? really?


The overwhelming struggle of how hard it has been for Michael Keaton to move beyond his role as a superhero in the hearts and minds of America. What a struggle.

Overall, I see that we are in a revolution for civil rights, gay rights, and feminism. Things are changing and the voice of weirdos (perceived and real) is getting louder. The white man is going to kick and scream on the way to being taken down to the level of everyone else. It's going to get really really ugly. But another victory for a type of person (white, male, cisgender, straight, actor, etc) that doesn't need any more victories right now is still a disappointment.

Unfortunately, the worst part is that I wasn't surprised.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dollhouse.

I'm rewatching "Dollhouse" right now and, as it always does, it's making me philosophize a whole bunch.

For the uninitiated, "Dollhouse" is a TV series that ran from 2009-2010 (only two seasons). Joss Whedon (creator of "Buffy" and "Firefly") was the showrunner. The show's premise was this: A person signs a contract for 5 years of their life to have their brains wiped in order to create a blank slate for other personas to be imprinted into their brains, for a price. A client can order any sort of person for any sort of job, then a "doll" is chosen to fulfill the client's order. When an Active (the doll) isn't on an "engagement" they are left in their brain-wiped state doing art, getting massages, doing yoga and generally kept in a calm and happy state. After their five year contract is up, the person's original personality is returned to them and they are left rich for life with no memory of what happened to them in that five years time. It's a pretty great show and yes it's on Netflix.

Now the questions start coming. Is this prostitution? Would you do this if all your financial burdens would be nonexistent afterwards? Would you be a bad person for ordering a doll? Would you order a doll but draw the line at having sex with them?

The show deals with all of these questions. It even gets into the complicated issues of the realness of the imprinted personalities. Sometimes an Active gets imprinted with a personality for a long-term engagement and doesn't want to give up the personality that feels real to them. Is that personality any more or less real than the one you were born with?

And then there's the societal questions. In the show someone figures out how to do a "remote wipe" wherein an Active can be returned to their blank doll state via a radio frequency. If someone can be wiped remotely like that, someone could create dolls en masse. Someone could create armies en masse. People would become nothing more than programmable computers.

The whole show is one big question: are human brains any different than computers?

Later on in the show, we're given a nightmare vision of a future where remote wipes are commonplace. Half of the population are wiped dolls. Another large percentage are trained to wipe the Actuals (anyone that still has their original personality). There's a group of vigilante dolls that carry imprints of different personalities they need to survive on flash drives they carry around their neck, ready to upload skills they need in any given moment they need it.

Another question is that of immortality. If you could back up your brain to be uploaded into another human being indefinitely, you could live forever. And would that be ok in a situation where someone has signed a contract to be a doll? You could just keep their body for the time of their contract and then move on to another. But people with money and power would exploit this.

Whatever good could be done with this kind of technology, it would ultimately go so VERY VERY wrong. People would be wiped without consent. People would be imprinted without consent.

One of the Actives in the show was forced to sign the contract to become a doll by a man she had rejected in life. He became one of her regular clients, imprinting her with the fantasy version of her original self so that he could have sex with her. That sounds like rape to me, yeah?

Is any sex with an Active rape? Presumably they signed up for this but they're not THERE, you know?

I don't know of any other television show that has made me have as many thoughts about morality and philosophy than this show. It's a shame it got canceled after two seasons. At times, the storyline is confusing and feels rushed.

The fact that the whole thing can also be seen as a metaphor for acting and how actors feel taking on personas for the entertainment of our society is not lost on me, either.

I feel like I'm poor enough that I would consider becoming a doll. But I would ultimately say no because I couldn't be assured that those in power would truly do everything in their power to keep me safe. In the show, the house is run by mostly good people truly looking out for their Actives, but in the real world you couldn't trust people in power. In real life, heroes probably just don't exist.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ready Player One: a rant about a thing I love (SPOILERS)

**SPOILERS ahead**

So, I'm about to bitch about a thing that I intensely love from beginning to end. This is a thing that us nerdly types do. We nitpick a thing that is 95% perfect for that 5% that fell short.

So, here's the 95% good of this book:

*The book includes rigorous details about '80s culture, of which I love.

*The book includes painstaking minutiae about video games and arcades and movies like "Real Genius". It makes references I get and mostly identify with, as a nerdly-type hewwwMAN.

*Of the four main characters in this book there are TWO people of color, one mayyyybe transgender/non-binary character, one gay individual, two overweight peeps, one possibly asexual character and TWO women. These other-than straight white male cisgender characters are treated, mostly, on equal footing with the straight white male cisgender character...other than the fact that the straight white male cisgender character is the one that is the main protagonist and won the contest at the end.

Here's the other 5% of the book that I take issue with:

*Most of the "other"ness character traits were thrown into ONE character. Aech is an overweight black gay woman that plays a man in the simulated online world of the book. She probably did this solely to gain respect and not because of gender identity, which I think is a great nod to feminist issues. Throwing almost all diversity into one character is a minor complaint. Art3mis is overweight and has that scar on her face and Shoto is Asian, but seriously. Ok, maybe I can let this one slide.

*The BIG problem I have with this book is the love story. I'm completely ok with Art3mis and Parzival having a love story. The problem I have is how Parzival handled it. One, when Art3mis told him to back off, he pulled a Lloyd Dobler and PUSHED the issue. Cline could have EASILY just kept the hounding-the-girl portion of the story out of his self-loathing after she cut things off.

Second, the LAST SCENE OF THE BOOK! I dislike MANY things about this last scene. Ok, so Parzival had to find Art3mis in a garden maze, for one, like she was the final prize in the video game of the entire plot. Ew. THEN, when he sees her in person for the first time he tells her she's beautiful and she's all like, "really?!?" and acts all timid like she'd NEVER been in any other part of their relationship. Because she has a birthmark on her face. There was a lot of buildup to her "disfigurement", how she cut herself off because she was so hideous when it was just a damn birthmark on part of her otherwise gorgeous face. Why not give her an actual disability? Why not NOT make the first thing Parzival fucking says to her about her beauty? Gross! So gross.

And THEN he tells her he wants to spend his life with her. Whoa. Hold up there, buddy. You are literally meeting in person for the first time. Yes, you know her really really well online and it's safe to THINK you want to spend your life with her but she has withheld a lot of affection from you. For all you know she just sort of wants to date you at this point. Don't tell her you love her and want to spend your life with her yet! Calm the fuck down! This whole time she's still being all timid and shy, in disbelief that he could possibly hold her in that esteem when she has proven herself to be, on multiple occasions, way more of a badass than he is. Ew. And then they hold hands for awhile. That part is sweet. It should have ended there, but then there's a kiss. Again, they JUST met. I could overlook that part if the "beautiful timid girl" shit hadn't happened, but I cannot. I just want to rip out the last five pages of the book.

Or rewrite it. If I rewrote it it would end with Art3mis taking her walk outside, but not hiding at the end of a maze. She's not a fucking conquest. Then, they'd meet and be all shy and awkward, because it's the first time they've met face to face IRL but Parzival would say nothing about her beauty. She wouldn't be more timid than the situation itself would warrant. She would be her usual badass take-no-prisoners self. They would absolutely take a walk and then maybe hold hands on a bench, but no kissing.

Overall, I reread one of my top five books of all time this week in the form of an audiobook read by Wil Wheaton and it was super lots and lots of fun. Last scene aside, I'm in total love with this dystopian Matrix-y gay romp in a video game world of a book. I'm sure I'll read it at least ten more times in my life. Yay for things that are awesome.

They are SO going to fuck it up with the movie, though. You KNOW they will.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ghostbusters 2016

So, if you don't know...

There's going to be a remake of Ghostbusters out next year made by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) with an all female cast. That makes me all kinds of happy and I've known about it for awhile now. The cast was just announced.

There were three things that I wanted when thinking about the cast of this movie. I wanted Kristen Wiig. I wanted some racial diversity. I wanted Melissa McCarthy.

Guess WHAT, you guys?!?!? EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of those demands (uttered by me only to my mom and husband) were met.

We get Kristen Wiig.
We get Melissa McCarthy.
We get Kate McKinnon, a talented lady from SNL's cast.
We get Leslie Jones, a new SNL cast member I haven't seen in action yet, but who happens to be a woman of color.

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!

Do you know what this means, you guys? I am beginning to trust Paul Feig almost as much as I trust Joss Whedon to deliver ladies as human beings in movies and television. I am so happy. So SO SO SO happy, you guys!!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Thoughts about Dexter.

My mom and I have had a night every week since like 2006 that we call Gilmore Girl Night. Every Thursday we watch several episodes of a couple of different shows. It started with "Gilmore Girls" of course, but it has also included "FRIENDS", "Will & Grace" and most recently we agreed to finally endure the entire run of each of our respective Favorite Shows of All Time. You know what MY favorite show is, of course, and my mom is enjoying it WAY more than she thought she would. My mom's Favorite Show of All Time is "Dexter". Being that it has less episodes in it than "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" we've already finished it and I have a few thoughts.



I enjoyed the show. A lot. I really didn't think a show about a serial killer's inner monologue would be that endearing to me. I went through the Serial Killer Phase in high school (American Psycho and Exquisite Corpse being two of my favorite items of serial killer fiction) and I'm pretty much over the romance of that whole thing.

The inner monologue of the main character, Dexter Morgan, was pretty heavy-handed pretty much all the time, but I got used to it and eventually found it endearing. The constant appearances of the apparition of Harry, Dexter's deceased father, were a never-ending source of frustration. Every time Harry appeared onscreen I yelled, "Shut the fuck up, Harry!" I wish they would have phased this aspect of the show out.

Overall, the show's plotlines, though often as heavy-handed in bald symbolism as Dexter's inner monologue, made sense to me and kept me interested.

***SPOILERS after the gif of Deb.***


However, I came away from the entire 8 seasons of the show ONLY caring about 3 characters: Debra Morgan (Dexter's sister), Dexter, and Angel Batista (eventually Lieutenant of Homicide where Deb and Dex work). Several other characters throughout the series I was SUPPOSED to care about, I never did. I never cared about LaGuerta or Hannah or Rita really either, though I don't hate her as much as my mom does. I HATE Harry. Masuka was present throughout the entire series and depth was never added to him, unless you count his surprise daughter showing up in the last season, and I DON'T. 8 whole years of a show and I only care about three characters?! That's sad. Several casting decisions in the show were bad ones, though generally the show is racially diverse and the female-to-male ratio isn't atrocious.

As characters go, Jennifer Carpenter as Debra and Michael C. Hall as Dexter were the best choices casting made. They blew their wads on these two, and I'm glad they did. Both of them consistently delivered believable performances and a range of emotion most actors couldn't deliver. Their performances singlehandedly kept me interested. They both deserve armloads of awards for this show if they didn't get them.

I feel like the show's writers consistently asked only two questions when writing the scripts for each episode: "What else can Dexter get away with?" and "What else can we put Debra through?"

EVERY SINGLE EPISODE has Debra being put through a load of ridiculous bullshit most normal people wouldn't live through with their sanity intact, both emotionally and physically. Conversely, each episode involves Dexter getting away with murder in the nick of time and the suavest of schemes. He is forever the golden child while Debra deals with his fallout, most of the show while not knowing her brother is a serial killer. I kind of hate him for everything he put Deb through and thankfully, he hates himself for that too.

So in the very last episode Deb dies and Dexter takes her out on his boat and dumps her in the water. He did kill her, but only in the pulling-the-plug way of her being braindead from a stroke caused by a gunshot that wouldn't have happened without Dexter, though he's not the one that shot her. He then steers his boat into a frickin' hurricane attempting to kill himself, thus abandoning his girlfriend and son. Then, epilogue time! Somehow this hurricane doesn't kill him and the last shot of the show is him dressed as a lumberjack (hawt red beard) hiding out on some fisherman island somewhere.

This is the last shot of the entire series.
On one hand, I get the ending. The entire run of the show was a journey toward humanity, not happiness. Dexter didn't think of himself as a real human until the end of the series when he was planning a move to Argentina with his son Harrison and girlfriend Hannah wherein presumably he would no longer need to kill, because he now has love and family in his life. But he couldn't live with himself for letting Deb die. He ruined her life consistently throughout the series and things were just beginning to turn around for her as he was preparing to exit from her life (save for her occasional future visits to Argentina). It couldn't have ended with him being with his son and girlfriend forever while Deb moved on with her life, and DEFINITELY couldn't have ended with Dex happy while Deb is dead. I think it makes sense that his life as he knows it ends with her. But no one knew Hannah had Harrison (because she's a serial killer too, and on the run). They were waiting for Dexter in Argentina when he calls her from the boat (!! all the time Dexter was making phone calls from that boat...yeah, right, like there would EVER be reception out there!!) to tell her and Harrison he'd be there soon and that he loves them, etc. And no one knew Dexter unplugged Deb and took her out of the hospital. So what does everyone think when Dexter's boat is found and he is presumed dead? Do they assume Deb was with him? Do they assume Harrison was with them? WTF? Poor Batista. Poor Hannah. Poor Harrison. Poor Quinn (Deb's boyfriend). Poor Dexter. POOR DEB! I loved her the most! So much tragedy and loss in this series but also worth it, I think.

The answer to the series' two main questions are as follows:

Q: How much can Dexter get away with?
A: everything

Q: How much can we put Deb through/how much of Dexter's shit will Deb take upon herself?
A: ALL OF IT!

My final summation is that this is a really good show, but I cannot believe that BASTARD lived through throwing himself into a goddamn hurricane when Deb dies! It is SO not fair that Dexter gets to live after ruining his sister's life! I suppose he will suffer forever for this, but so will his abandoned girlfriend and son! He does look cute in his red beard and lumberjack outfit, though. Super cute.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The 79cent therapist, #347

A long time ago I read in a book about journaling that a journal (namely, any one subject notebook that probably costs 79 cents) can be your therapist. I've been a believer in the concept ever since. There's nothing in my life I haven't been able to gain insight from by writing it out. I may not solve an issue, but any stack of papers with room to scribble upon has the capacity to begin a psychological healing journey.

We all have some forgotten half-filled notebook somewhere in our desk drawers, right? And surely everyone has a cup with pens and pencils in it. Of course one can just as easily use a typewriter or a word document on their computers if typing is your preferred mode of writing.

The hardest part is getting started. Deciding to sit and write is the biggest hurdle to using your 79cent therapist, but you CAN jump it. You don't have to have a goal. Just write. See what comes out. For me, I adopt a superhero mentality when journaling. By that I mean I pretend I'm Buffy or some other super, often mythological, version of myself. This allows me to not blame myself in my writings to myself. It allows me to explore the idea that things aren't my fault and then work problems from the angle of that assumption.

For you maybe your writings can be directed as letters to yourself or to another person in your life, even if you'll never give them the letters. Or maybe you want to write fictionalized versions of what happened in your day, or maybe you just want to document how your day went in one sentence per day. Maybe you burn your journals after you write them, choosing never to actually read them back to yourself. Maybe you create a blog that no one knows the username to and post your darkest thoughts to the internet publicly.

It's your inanimate therapist. Use it however you like.

Friday, January 9, 2015

MixtressRae's Top Ten Shoes of all time.

I've had an idea formulating in my brain for some time now. An idea of minimalism. An idea of comfort. An idea of quality footwear. The idea is that I really only need 10 pairs of shoes. That it doesn't behoove my wish-I-was-a-minimalist heart to have more than that. That if I can suss out the good quality shoes for all seasons and situations, I would never have to think about acquiring shoes again, save for hunting down a replacement pair every 5-10 years when one of my ten dies the inevitable sole-death.

I've known for months WHAT these categories of shoes will be. I created rules of shoe conduct for myself months ago as well, but it wasn't until last week that the final essential category of shoes was acquired. Now I can begin my life of shoe minimalism.

The rules are thus:

1) From now on I will only acquire replacements for the shoes in my top ten categories of shoes.
2) I don't have to get rid of any of the extraneous pairs I already own (four or five pairs of heels and wedges I only wear for brief periods of painful-feet inertia), but when those shoes perish they are gone forever.
3) I've decided not to count slippers as shoes, though I will probably always have a pair of those for the cold months trudging about the house, plus that backup pair I keep clean to take with me to Jill's because she makes me take my shoes off in her house. Hippy!

I'm pretty proud of this idea of shoe frugality. I will feel like some sort of zen monk of feetness following the silly rules I've set for myself. Each pair of these shoes (except #10 which is just a category that can't be avoided) has been thoughtfully chosen and will be well-loved. Here's my countdown:

#10 -- Category: Flip Flops
Function: for the pool or the beach only
Brand Preference: cheap
Brand of Current Pair: ??
Lifetime Estimation: until the ferret chews them into a new shape or hides one or both of them permanently.
#9 -- Category: Heels
Function: for a night out of fancy dress and minimal movement, or maybe photography situations
Brand Preference: cheap 
Brand of Current Pair: Solanz (I think it's a Shoe Carnival brand)
Lifetime Estimation: probably forever because I wear heels like once a year for an hour, mayyyybe
#8 -- Category: Flats
Function: pair of basic slip-on shoes for work 
Brand Preference: sturdy
Brand of Current Pair: cushe
Lifetime Estimation: 1-3 years
#7 -- Category: Brown Boots
Function: for earth-tone outfits that don't match my superior pair of Doc Martens black boots
Brand Preference: none
Brand of Current Pair: Target
Lifetime Estimation: 1 year (I really like these boots so when they wear out I'm going to take them to a professional to see if they can be resoled.)
#6 -- Category: Running Sneakers
Function: workout/run
Brand Preference: well-rated budget trail running shoe
Brand of Current Pair: New Balance Women's 110 Trail
Lifetime Estimation: 3-5 years
#5 -- Category: Hardcore Boot
Function: hiking, snow-trudging, outdoor work, cleaning out your house after a tornado, lumberjacking your yard after an ice storm destroyed all your trees, etc
Brand Preference: Vegetarian Shoes 
Brand of Current Pair: Vegetarian Shoes; this particular pair has steel toes and was bought 11 years ago with barely ANY wear to the soles. Definitely worth the high price tag.
Lifetime Estimation: forever
#4 -- Category: Mary Jane
Function: work, cuteness
Brand Preference: Doc Martens 8065 Mary Jane
Brand of Current Pair: same
Lifetime Estimation: a couple of decades, at least...I'm hoping
#3 -- Category: Everyday Sneakers
Function: everyday comfort (especially in temperate seasons)
Brand Preference: Converse Low Top
Brand of Current Pair: same
Lifetime Estimation: 2 years
#2 -- Category: Sandal
Function: hiking, everyday summer
Brand Preference: Chaco ZX/2
Brand of Current Pair: same
Lifetime Estimation: forever, though the straps and soles will need replacing every 5 years or so
#1 -- Category: Badass Boots
Function: everyday 
Brand Preference: Doc Martens 1460 Boot
Brand of Current Pair: same
Lifetime Estimation: forever if I can get the soles replaced. I have a backup pair for when the current pair dissolves because I'm THAT obsessed with this shoe.

If you'd like to enter a giveaway for a pair of skeleton high heels and/or see even MORE details about my top ten shoes, see the video below:

Thursday, January 1, 2015

stop. making. sense. // a tattoo story

Last night I was asked if there's a story behind this tattoo. I'm TERRIBLE at telling stories, so this blog is an attempt to tell it better than I did almost 24 hours ago...

When I was a teenager I had a subscription to Alternative Press magazine. Back in the mid-to-late nineties, it covered music that was actually pretty good. They sent out sampler mix CDs every season during 1998. Man, that was so awesome. It was the only year they did it (while I was subscribing, anyway).

One day, I assume because of my subscription to AP, I received a simple postcard in the mail: black background and the word "STOP." in red typeface. Some time later (I think it was a week) I received a second postcard just like it with the word "MAKING."; "SENSE." followed another increment of time later.

I was fascinated. I taped the postcards together and put them on my bulletin board by the computer desk in the dining room. Those postcards moved with me, usually displayed by my desk, until weather took them away from me. I can't find images of them on the internet, but I swear I didn't make them up.

I sometimes have this ability to enjoy things for my own made up reasons without wondering why they were created. The back of the postcards must have explained that they were a promotional tool for a Talking Heads concert DVD being released (1999), but I don't remember wondering what the postcards were advertising. I didn't know it had anything to do with Talking Heads until many years later.

I like Talking Heads. They're my #34 artist according to my last.fm stats. I don't mind the few people that recognize my tattoo as a Talking Heads reference thinking that I got the tattoo because I'm a fan, but I didn't. I've never even seen the concert DVD!

The reasons I was enamored by the postcards and the reasons I got the words tattooed on my arm are entirely because of my personal conceptions of the words and the way they were delivered to my consciousness. I truly enjoyed the anticipation of waiting to "make sense" of what the postcards wanted to tell me. When the final postcard arrived and the idea that it wasn't supposed to make sense was revealed to me, I placed an ironic meaning into it. I kept those postcards as long as I could to remind me not to place meaning in life. No one I've ever talked about these postcards to remembers receiving them. It's the coolest piece of promotional advertisement I've ever seen, though obviously it didn't have the intended effect on me.

I got the tattoo because I no longer have the postcards. I got the meaningless tattoo to remind me of the ultimate meaning of life...that there is no meaning to life...except 42, of course. :)

So that's it. I like Talking Heads, but I like reminding myself not to take anything seriously more. I quite like being a meaningless speck in a gigantic and spectacular universe. There are a lot of us and some of us are pretty cool.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

It's that time again...

To assess the year past and plan for the year future.

A trip to Springfield to see my BFF Kim today started sorting out the analysis. The smoke (or "fog bank of twat mist" if you will--you probably won't, but that's a hilarious phrase I heard last night from a Patton Oswalt comedy special) of my brain cleared and now I know five things about 2015 I didn't know before.

 one  // I'd like to focus on less fragmented attention. For example, when I'm enjoying a bit of entertainment on a television screen, I'd like to not also be checking Instagram and Facebook. When I'm listening to music, I'd like to spend the visual part of my senses reading lyrics, walking, writing in a journal, drawing, or simply sitting in one of the many spaces in my house designed for enjoying sound (attic space, chair by the stereo in the dining room, etc). A scattered attention span can make a person feel spread out like a sticky film...clinging unpleasantly to the world without being OF the world.

 two  // My most important priority this year is friendships and family, especially Kim. She just moved from Florida back to Springfield. Gas is cheap right now. I work part time. Kim is my best friend in the universe and she's close again. It's too easy to let real people slip by as if you have all the time in the world. I could easily spend a day a week with her, and if I do, I'll laugh more, I'll engage with the universe more...a universe with people like her in it. I'm on the precipice of a great era of my life, and I don't want to miss it.

 three // I'd like more music in my life. Not only in quantity, but in quality. I'd like to subscribe to Spotify as many months as I can afford to do so this year. I'd like to spend more time listening to music for the sake of listening to music and reveling in the kind of meditative thoughts that accompany pure listening environments. I'd like to spend more time listening to my iPod, cassettes, CDs, and records instead of listening from devices with distractions (iPhone, Mac). In other words, get to know the 10,000 songs I already own BETTER.

 four  // I'd like to write a lot more than I wrote this year. Namely, I want to create a schedule for updating this blog that includes writing in it at least once a week. I'll put out two or three zines in 2015 too. I'd like to do at least two of the three NaNoWri Months (April, June, and November). I'd like to get back into personal journaling, my "79 cent therapist".

 five  // There are a few things I started this year that I'd like to continue on a more regular basis: I'd like to run two or three times a week. I'd like to put up a video on my YouTube channel at least once or twice a month. I'd like to read at least 40 books. I'd like to continue to put time and effort into the radio station because it's the most rewarding creative project of my life so far and I really love it.

Eventually, I'll start MAKING my own music, but I still don't know if this is the year...if I'm ready. I did open and use GarageBand yesterday for the first time ever to record radio intros with Michael's fancy new microphone. I do consider that step one, but step two could be months off. I don't know if DJing is for me either, but if more opportunities present themselves this year, I'll take them until I know for sure.

I accomplished almost nothing I set out for myself for 2014, but I did a few big things I never planned (new more rewarding job at the library, started the YouTube channel, started the radio station, and I DJed three different gigs). I feel good about 2014 but even better about 2015.

Let's do this!

Monday, October 20, 2014

self-curated creativity

I'd like to get something off my chest. Like most goals I made for myself in 2014, I failed at not buying the new iPhone. In the end, the desire to stay in sync contract-wise with my partner weighed out my determination to accomplish something. And I sort of accomplished something by doing it anyway. The steps I had to follow to get the new iPhone (paying off the 5C, paying for the new iPhone) were expensive upfront, but will save me about $20 a month on my cell phone plan, and that's a good chunk of money. I don't regret it, though I'm now dealing with two other first world problems.

First, my computer is starting a decline. I've already decided upon a solution, and it is a rational one. I will replace the hard drive with a solid-state drive (no moving parts! extremely fast, everyone says) and I will double the memory (RAM) while I've got my dear Honeycrisp under the knife. I will do these upgrades myself armed with the vast knowledge of the internet. If you'd like to help me afford these upgrades, feel free to send some $$ to the PayPal account in the column on your right...scroll down a bit.

Second, my fitbit (pedometer/fitness tracker) has met its end as well. I've had it a year and it will no longer hold a charge longer than 12 hours at the most, meaning I can't properly track my steps!! AAAAAHHH. This shouldn't be a tragedy except that the only reason I go for walks and get my steps EVER is because I get credit for it. That's so unbelievably lame, but it's true. I don't yet know what my solution to this issue will be. I might buy a cheaper fitbit model. I have already emailed the company because I should be within warranty, but I'm not hopeful I'll be able to resolve this the easy way. My new iPhone has a motion processor. It can count my steps, but only when I have the phone on me. So, I could just take the phone with me on walks and runs and call it good. That idea sounds the most rational because it won't cost a thing, but do I ever take the rational route anymore? I feel I've lost my grip on the rational.

Buuuuut, I hadn't meant to whine about which electronics I do and don't need. I meant to talk about something much more positive.

I'd like to talk about one way in which our society's progress has been towards the good. Yes, we have too many screens/too little focus on the world around us. Yes, we're getting older. Yes, our private lives are online, but this has its advantages.

Everyone can do everything these days. If I wanted to publish a book, I know exactly how to do it myself. If I wanted to make music, I'd upload it instantly to soundcloud. 24 hours before my first DJ gig I downloaded software called VirtualDJ, learned a bit about it and used it immediately. If I were an artist, I could sell my stuff on any number of websites without any intermediaries aside from the web services themselves. If I wanted to make movies, I could use my phone and an internet connection to upload them to YouTube.

When I decided to create a radio station, I downloaded a program (later had to pay a licensing fee to use the program beyond the trial period), signed up for a free server (later decided to pay $17 every three months for a server capable of being listed on shoutcast directories...so I could be on the Tune In app) and started broadcasting. It took a lot of research to get everything working together, but I finally got it up and running and it's my favorite thing I've done all year.

A person doesn't need a record executive anymore to get their sound heard. A person doesn't need a gallery to get their art seen. Sure, no one makes money anymore, but did we ever? Probably the same amount of people "make it big" as ever, it's just that now the rest of us can do our thing too. We can put our art out there in whatever form(s) we make it at no cost to us or our audience.

I really like the way I put my art out there. I make a zine and don't charge for it. I have a radio station that's free to anyone with an internet connection. I have a YouTube channel that's free too. If I ever publish a book, I might make that available for free as well. I can do this because I have no expectations of ever being able to promote myself enough to charge people for what I do and because largely everything I do costs me nothing but time.

All of the things I do can be done for free or nearly so. All of the creativity you can ever possibly exude can be put onto the internet. Anything you'd ever want to learn can be found on the internet. Here's a few short tutorials:

BLOG: Go to blogger.com or wordpress.com or livejournal.com or tumblr.com and sign up for an account and start typing your thoughts. When you feel like you're done typing, press "publish".

You're now a writer!

RADIO STATION: Sign up for an account on myradiostream.com. Download a program called Nicecast if you're a Mac user and SAM broadcaster (or something similar; Google it) if you're a PC user. Do lots of research, do a test broadcast, then tell people how to find you and play some tunes!

You're now a radio DJ!

ZINE: Put things on paper by whatever means necessary (computer printout, typewriter, Sharpie, collage, drawings, comics, etc) then make copies of that paper and hand them out to friends and family. Google zine layouts if you have more than one page and want to get fancy with staples and folds and shit.

You're now a magazine editor!

YOUTUBE CHANNEL/VLOG: Sign up for a Google account. You probably already have one. Record a video on a device you probably already have (phone, tablet, digital camera, webcam on your computer, etc). Use whatever means necessary to transfer that video to your computer (USB cable, email, Dropbox, etc). Go to youtube.com and select "upload".

Several hours later (unless you have AMAZING internet speeds or you only uploaded a 5 minute video) you're now a video producer/vlogger!

DJ: Download a program called Virtual DJ. Look up a few tutorials on how to use it on YouTube. Play with transitions and beat-matching and sound effects or whatever else you want.

You're now a DJ!

I firmly believe that being a DJ or a writer or whatever other creativity-creature you want to be doesn't have to be a prescribed set process. Doing it in whatever way makes you feel comfortable is still doing it. I've stopped doing many things in my life because someone else told me I was doing it wrong. My process in general has always been to jump in and see how it feels (usually after hours of research, but still). I go from not doing it to putting it up on the internet in no time flat. Some would say that's rash. Some would say I don't know what I'm doing. They're right, but I'm figuring it out. Becoming anything you want to become isn't sacred, or rather it is sacred, but the process isn't up to anyone but YOU. You hold the sanctity within yourself. YOU place the meaning on what you're doing. Don't let anyone else dictate your path. Everything can be done by everyone. The pressure to be "the best" at things causes us to not start things, not post things while we're still in the process of becoming...

well, guess what? We're never DONE becoming who we are. I hope to someday make music. I hope to someday write a novel or two. I hope to get better at DJing and see if I like it. I hope to keep making zines and posting blogs and vlogs and radio shows. These things are done by a perpetual amateur, but love me how I am or don't love me at all.

You know?

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