Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Final Fantasy + Q-Tip

Hello everyone,
I have been listening to Q-Tip nonstop for 2 weeks or so. I'm becoming convinced that he has the best voice in the history of rap.

This song is a mash-up of Final Fantasy (Owen Pallet) 's "The CN Tower Belongs to the Dead" and Q-Tips "Work it Out". I'm in love with it.

And if you somehow missed this video, watch it now!

Q-Tip is so cool.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Another Story

I was just at the grocery store. I found some mangoes at a good price and was waiting in the checkout line. I'm sure that I looked very happy. The anticipation and the excitement of fresh, cool avo-mango mash was on my mind. I'm not exactly sure what it means to beam but I think that I was beaming.

I was carrying all of my stuff in my arms. I always do that because it limits the amount of things that I can buy. Today, though, I was really pushing the limits; rye crackers clenched in my armpits, 3 greek yogurts awkwardly griped in my fist, mangoes, avocados and other produce dangling in bags from my hands.....and more (you get the picture). I was a disaster waiting to happen.

The lady in front of me in the checkout line noticed my awkward bundle and quickly made a space on the conveyor belt thing for me. I swooped my stuff down onto it and, somewhere in the middle of all of that movement, I gave her a smile and word of appreciation. After I had straitened up I noticed that she was holding me in her gaze. She was smiling. At first I thought that she was just acknowledging the thanks that I had given her, but it went on for an uncomfortable amount of time. Finally, she said, "You must be going to school". - Now, keep in mind that this is all happening at 8:30pm - I was blown away by what she said. I spent some time trying to figure out why she would say such a thing but in frustration I gave up and asked, "Why would you say that"? - What about me made this woman think that I was going to school? It surely wasn't my strange assortment of groceries. Was it my age? Was it my glasses? - She didn't really answer my question but I caught her eyes darting down to my chest area. I was wearing a tie (sometimes I do that) and a cardigan. I looked at her really hard. I think that I had that squinting quizzical look on my face. Finally I ventured to carefully ask, "Do all people who wear ties go to school"? She shrugged, grabbed her bags, and left.

It was odd.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Buffer Zone

Today, I realized that when I enter a classroom and choose a seat I always try to leave at least a one chair buffer zone between me and the next person on the row. This happens without premeditation. It is instinct. As a result I feel separated from my neighbors and melancholy. I don't like it and I'm not sure exactly why I do it. I do the same thing when I decide which urinal to use in the bathroom but that is totally different. The bathroom is not a place of social exchange. It is a place of privacy and sanctuary.

Today I decided to fight this unfriendly and antisocial instinct. I came into class and chose a seat next to a girl named (as I soon found out) Stephanie. She looked at me strangely as I sat down next to her and then carefully proceeded to look around me at the empty chairs filling the rest of the row. I could feel her wondering why I was sitting so close to her when there were so many available chairs farther away. We sat in a strange and thick (soupy) sort of silence for a few moments. I then told her that my name was Ben and that I was looking forward to spending the rest of class in her close company. She took a moment to process what I was telling her and then laughed loudly (very). We quickly became friends.

As I was talking to Stephanie I noticed that people were flowing into the class in groups and dripping into the class in singles. They each chose a seat as far away from human company as possible.

In elementary school boys didn't sit with girls and girls didn't sit with boys. Speaking from a boys perspective, it was because girls were gross and I didn't wish to be contaminated. I'm sure that girls also felt that boys were gross and that they were probably a lot more accurate in that assumption.

I thought about this as I sat in that class and watched people treat each other like diseased zombies who might attack at any moment with decay-spreading virus-infected teeth and claws. The difference is that now, in college, gender is no longer a variable. Everyone avoids everyone.
It's so strange.

I'm glad that I am realizing this. When I got home I listened to LCD Soundsystem's "I Can Change". I can change.

Go make a friend.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sketch for Summer

This song really does something for me.

The Durutti Column is a band that is very easy to miss. Don't do yourself that disservice.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sometime Voices

This is the Author's Note from the beginning of one of my great uncle Sherwin's books of poetry Sometime Voices -

"In this hectic world, there is too little reason for people to read and even less for them to read out loud. As a result, I have a sometime hunger for hearing the sound of literate human voices reading careful, crafted words.

Television sets and ghetto blasters fill our homes and streets with plastic babble. But aside from occasional bedtime stories for children, the human voice reading intelligent words is rarely heard. This is unfortunate.

Reading aloud involves the intellect as well as the emotions far more intensely than reading silently. Even when done alone, reading aloud is more neighborly, stimulating, and involving. It is almost as if the audible voice becomes an additional interpretive presence that encourages human interchange.

One of the attractions of poetry, more than other forms of literature, is its invitation to the voice and ear to savor consonants, rhythms, and even silences. I believe that Sometime Voices will be better understood and felt if read aloud.

I have a friend who vows upon retirement to "save society" by frequenting bustling downtown corners where he will wear old hats (he says) and read some verse aloud to anyone who cares to listen.

I hope he does."

Sherwin battled melanoma and died in 2001. He was 65.

I have very few memories of Sherwin but the ones that I do have are very important to me. He seemed to know everything that a person could know. I remember going to California with my family to visit him. He was President of Deep Springs College (which is a unique and wonderful institution) and I remember thinking that he must be some kind of intellectual superhero to be president of an entire college.

Reading out loud is more rare now than it was in 1988 when he wrote the above passage. In fact, it is so rare that is sounds alien to me. I began reading his poetry aloud and a strange feeling filled my room. I felt more alone than I had in a long time. I struggled to continue and I am very glad that I did. Eventually the veil of awkwardness lifted and reading aloud became natural and made his poetry feel vibrant and alive.

Since then I have been trying to read many things out loud. It has opened up a new world of sensation to me. It's amazing. Try it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Citrus Mishap

Today I took an orange to school. It was a night class and the orange was meant to carry me over until dinner. I found myself hungry more quickly than I had expected and I attempted to peel the orange at all of my various bus stops. Unfortunately my hands were too cold to manage it. I thought about eating it on the bus. Eating on mass transit is forbidden but I can usually eat tidily with good conscience. An orange just seemed like an infraction too blatant and messy for me to stomach. So my stomach remained fussy until I got to class. Once in class I started to peel it. My hands were warm and my stomach ready. My enthusiasm blinded my eyes of everything other than the orange. Once the peeling was complete I took a moment to count how many people were jealous of my treat. There was only one person looking at me; the girl sitting next to me. She had a look of frustration and anger on her face. I looked at her notebook and realized that I had soaked it with orange peel mist and stained it in a fragrant and colorful way. It looked really cool to me but obviously she didn't agree. She did not accept or even acknowledge my million apologies. I even offered her a section of my orange (reluctantly). She made a snooty sound and looked away.

I make so many friends at school.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Freindship Muscles

At work today I was really friendly and really good. It was exhausting.

I was working on the counter. This means that I interact with customers and their differing attitudes and outlooks for five hours. I decided to try extra hard to be friendly and see how my day went. I made solid eye contact with each customer, smiled, asked them about their day in a sincere and interested manner and tried to strike up conversation with them if I had time. It was fun and I felt good. I also felt tired. It took a lot of energy to be so nice. I think that the muscles that I use to be friendly are out of shape. I don't have the endurance that I should.

As my day went on I felt like I was having an easier and more natural time of it. It's something to work on.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ghost Clothes

I just had a really surreal moment. I was looking through some old pictures of campouts and trips and stuff and I found a really good one. I was making a really funny face - the kind that wasn't meant to be funny but is. I was laughing to myself about the funny face when I realized that I was (and still am) wearing the exact same outfit in the picture and out of it. The picture was taken about 5 years ago. I can't believe that I still wear what I wore 5 years ago.

As I was wondering if there was a supernatural explanation for this odd moment, I google stumbled upon some very interesting discussions. A man asked about ghosts and their clothing. Ghosts are usually seen wearing clothes. How can ghosts wear clothes? Does fabric have a soul? Are our physical possessions linked somehow to our souls? I find this whole business to be very intriguing.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Deep Water

Attention is a precious commodity. You only have so much to give.

Some things, rare and difficult to locate, are extremely worth our attention. All of it.
Sæglópur is one such thing.

I love this song. It is my favorite song by Sigur Rós and that is a very powerful compliment.
I had never seen the video before today. It's great. The scene where the girl pulls the boy out of the water is one of the most beautifully filmed moments I have ever seen.

I have always had a fear of deep water. If I can see what is below me I am not frightened. It is when my feet are treading, kicking, and thrashing in a void of darkness below me that I feel uneasy. All of the movement and exertion that is required to keep my head above water is also summoning the unseen terrors that live in the darkest and coldest areas on earth. Anything could be down there. Size and power are not restricted. Deep water can feasibly house my most unreasonable and terrifying nightmares. Nightmares that I have had and have forced out of my surface memory - the secret denizens of my subconscious - live there.

I have heard that we know less about the deep waters of Earth than we do about the other planets of our solar system.