It’s time for another entry of the segment that proves that you can still make a deal on a present for your roommate and still give a good gift; thanks again roommate.
I’m going to jump into this next question because it’s a tough one and I have a terrible memory.
“Have you ever spoken up when you saw something going on that was wrong? Were you scared? What ended up happening?”
I struggle with this question particularly due to my struggle with “Facebook Activism.” Basically I don’t shy away from the political posts or the arguments with people I haven’t talked to since back when we didn’t talk in high school. I really get roped in, I type faster, I get fired up for things that yes, aside from trying to change random people’s minds on the internet or just sharing things with my friends who already agree with me, what do I do?
My GF keeps telling me I should volunteer more (read; ever) and I agree with her, but if you didn’t pick up on this last time, I’m actually fairly lazy. I enjoy my quiet evenings, I like my week not being full of obligation. I spend all my mental energy on just trying to keep myself going sometimes that when it comes time to contribute to society in a way I believe is meaningful I hear a little *ding ding ding!* in my brain as my fuel gauge hits empty and I just go catatonic.
It’s not that I do nothing for the community with my time. I help produce an awesome storytelling show in Cleveland (Story Club Cleveland— look us up!) where every show we sponsor a new local charity that we think will make Mike Pence sweat in his felt onesie at night, but Story Club is more the lady who created it’s thing than mine. I just help things run smoothly and collect the donations (and I make $40 a month helping out, so I’m not exactly giving selflessly of my time here).
In my head I keep ping-ponging back and forth whether or not I think I have depression or I’m just an asshole who’s self-diagnosing themselves and doesn’t know what they’re talking about. But regardless, the low energy, the poor memory, the inability to focus on things, the emotionlesness, I get it. It makes it really hard to go out there and seek out new and exciting opportunities to be tired.
It’s appropriate that I’m posting this around New Years, because I think “Stop making excuses for yourself” isn’t a bad one.
I could go on more about the time I valiantly stood up for one of my friends in 5th grade against the slanderous, baseless accusations of nose-picking– which as an aside, is like the elementary equivalent of The Crucible where you have a scandalized victim dramatically pointing the finger screeching “EEEEEW, [name] just picked their nose!” and the rest of the class acting like [name]’s head just started revolving despite their continued denial and there’s a Puritan judge in the corner maintaining that “Nosepicking is an invisible crime, therefore, who may possibly be witness to it? The nosepicker and the victim. None other. Now we cannot hope the nosepicker will accuse themself; granted?”– but aside from shamelessly hanging onto readers with comedy, what would be the point? That’s not really in the spirit of the question.
So let’s move on, this book has like 300 pages and we all got places to be.
“What is your favorite work of art? What do you love about it.“
Ok book, you clearly think you’re dealing with someone decisive enough to have favorites of anything. First of all, let’s narrow down this inquiry. If you think you’re going to get a deep and intellectual critique of fine art then man, what blog are you reading? Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week. I’m also going to decide that this question’s not going to pertain to any books, movies/TV, or video games, cause I could go on-and-fucking-on about Doctor Who or Spiderman. Those are whole posts in and of themselves and I do not have that much beer left.
Let’s start with the fact that as I mentioned above, I have a really poor memory, especially for thinking of lists of things. Even if you ask me for a list of my, like, say top 6 songs, my initial response is usually something like “…hmmm…yes…songs… I’ve heard of those…”
That said, I once heard it said that a good song is a song (and I’m going to extrapolate here for any sufficiently impactful work of art) that gives you goosebumps. Well, different songs will give you goosebumps in different moods, but I find that I generally respond to songs that have an eerie, ethereal quality to them. That’s just for casual listening that is, I listen to rock mostly, but then I listen to techno/futurebass when I write, alt-rock when I drive, and country only if you drag me kicking and screaming to a table, strap me down, and force me to Clockwork Orange style.
I want to single out two particular songs though since they won the race as the first ones to cross my mind when I saw this question and fit with each other thematically.
Pretty Little Head by Eliza Rickman: Quick note– HOLY SHIT THAT VIDEO IS WEIRD. I first heard that song as the musical interlude on an episode of Welcome to Night Vale back in college and was floored by the dark, eerie quality of it. I usually hate the songs that they have on that show and skip the “Weather” segment since it’s usually way to hipstery for me, but this one I actually went back and played again before continuing on with the episode. I liked the desperate quality of Eliza Rickman’s voice, the way it came across as shrill and whispered at the same time. In my head I’d always constructed a narrative of it being about a woman abducting a child, the “dirty mouth” in the chorus being a reference to the child talking back against her captor and her captor having an Annie Wilkes-esque reaction to bad language. It creeped the hell out of me then, but THAT FUCKING VIDEO wasn’t around when I first heard it, so having watched a decapitated body crying blood from its neck-stump over the loss of its severed head while cradling an urn with a face drawn on it, GUESS WHO’S NEVER SLEEPING AGAIN! That would be me, thank you Eliza.
Immortals by Fall Out Boy: This one I love because it is pure up-beat musical cocaine. Is it in good form to compare a song you first heard in a Disney movie to a drug that you’ve never done? Regardless, this was always the first song on my “get hyped” playlist and I’m sure you can see why. I don’t think it has any secret narrative meaning or anything, I just love the sound, the tempo, the hard-to-place quality just stretches my mouth into a grin when I hear it. For a very long time, Fall Out Boy was my guilty pleasure band. Back when I watched Fuse TV back in the day they would play Dance Dance and Sugar We’re Going Down Swinging and I would go nuts with it even though I was getting increasingly sick of my emo scene-kid middle school girlfriend’s shit and was gradually deciding that Linkin Park was as emo as I was willing to go. Despite eventually moving on to Chili Peppers and Metallica and actually enjoying to the classic rock my parents pushed on us from a young age, I’d always had a soft spot for those songs. When Immortals came out, that was when I actually decided that maybe Fall Out Boy was just good and I didn’t have to be embarrassed about it. (Don’t worry I Write Sins Not Tragedies, I’ve still got you as my guilty pleasure song, I’m still guilty about that one).
I’m gonna move on from music though, since when we all think of a “work of art,” we all collectively think of paintings because we all fear the day that someone out there classier than we are corners us and asks us about paintings and we have to pretend to be deep or else be exposed as frauds.
I would stick with the safe answer and say something by Van Gogh was my favorite, but in fairness I’m only familiar with a lot of his work because of that one episode of Doctor Who. Don’t lie, you are too.
No, but I actually do have an answer to this. I’m not going to say these are my favorite paintings ever since I don’t want you all thinking I’m some kind of creepy sadist– I promise, I’m a pretty light-hearted guy who just kinda gravitates to the morbid and terrifying artistically– but I read an article (this one, embarrassingly, but here’s a better one) once about a Polish artist who did a series of paintings depicting Hell and then was murdered by his cleaning lady’s son. His name was Zdzisław Beksiński and, while I won’t actually share his paintings here in case you already have nightmares from that music video, I think I’ve always been fascinated by the the macabre interpretations of life from a man who lived through World War II in the same way that I like to occasionally listen to famous actors read the poems written by WWI vets on Youtube. At the time I’d discovered these paintings, I’d been thinking a lot about the concept of hell too, an interesting subject for an atheist to ponder, especially when you’re forced to read Dante in college and the Inferno is the only part worth reading.
I was having some creative blockage trying to imagine what hell could possibly be like since I can’t imagine an eternity of anything, let alone an eternity of suffering. Also I think the idea of hell is poorly thought out because there isn’t anything you can do to a person that they can’t eventually fetishize given enough time (and, cough couch, eternity), but I took one look at those paintings and thought “Oh yeah that looks awful.” I couldn’t tell you why I was so hung up on hell either. Again, I’m not some death-obsessed Marilyn Manson worshiper, but I can also tell you that I’ve never just sat with a painting open in my browser window late at night listening to music and staring at any other paintings before. So hey, by the goosebumps rule, I guess you can’t pick what you respond to.
I think I also had some half-baked idea about writing a kind of fantasy-setting novel set in hell just because I had been writing about ghosts a lot and it seemed like the natural next step. Gotta milk that inspiration. Or not, I’m probably never going to get back to it now that my tastes have leveled out to a less macabre place. I swear I like fun and pretty things too, you gotta believe me.
Anyways, that’s all for now, stay tuned, cause I peeked ahead and the next prompt sounds like fun.