Come On, Come Out

As mentioned previously, I have been dealing with quite a bit in my personal life. I’m going through a major period of flux with a lot of uncertainty over the next few years. I’m making some moves and some choices with some pretty long tails on them and I can’t take them too lightly.

Those of you who know me in real life know that I’m wound pretty tight and am pretty serious about things at times. I sometimes lose sight of the simplicity I so desire in my world and let it get away from me. Today, thankfully, was not one of those days. Today I just had an incredible amount of peace and clarity.

I had to go to the store to pick up a new TV today (my previous TV had some technical issues internally regarding HDMI inputs and being able to switch signals thus rendering my PS3 unusable). We had absolutely gorgeous weather this evening. It was mid 70s, give or take, the sun was shining with some great periodic, fluffy cloud cover, a wonderful blue sky…and I just enjoyed driving around. I took the scenic route to the store (which is normally a 20 minute drive). I drove up through the country and just enjoyed the wind blowing through my hair and the warmth in the air and having my stereo up.

I love to match my music to my mood or to my surroundings. While I was initially enjoying the Hell out of some 90s Janet Jackson, I needed something a little better. Enter one of my favorite go-to records, “One Cell In the Sea” from A Fine Frenzy. Pretty much wherever I find myself or whatever I am doing, I can put that record on and get my mind right. It was almost too obvious and too perfect a song, but it really set the tone for my peaceful journey. “Come On, Come Out” has been one of those songs that sticks with me for a variety of reasons and I always use it when I am experience a shift in weather.

I absolutely love her. I love her voice so much and, frankly, she’s rather nice to look at, too. So much talent, though.

And I just peaced out to the record and enjoyed the whip of the wind and scent of woodsmoke in the air. I didn’t allow the moment to pass. There was, however, only one suitable end to it all.

Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” is one of those tracks I loved as a burgeoning young man and have really come to appreciate as I’ve entered into my older life. What can I say? I enjoy female vocalists in that indie, singer-songwriter, wonderfully dramatic, and sometimes smokey sound. Before you can ask, yes, I remember and still love Lisa Loeb.

It was so nice to have such a peaceful evening. I just enjoyed it so much that I wanted to keep driving. I just wanted to fill up the gas tank and drive until I couldn’t go any further and start a new life wherever I ended up. Had I had this song on the flash drive it would have been perfect (both in tone and keeping with the above theme, plus this unreal use in the final episode of “Six Feet Under” – obviously if you haven’t seen the show don’t click the video, less you be witness to spoilers).

Fearless

I had a number of things I wanted to talk about, but I’ve been having a bugger of a time putting things into words today. I started writing a different entry this morning. I just haven’t had the focus I needed to put into words what I was thinking. Unfortunately, that feeling is nothing new to me. It has been one of those things I’ve had to deal with before and I like to keep reminding myself how much it sucks. Good for a little perspective at times.

Originally I was going to post about my pond I’ve been working on (I promise I will and will post the photos soon), but it felt a little lazy and disingenuous, especially when compared to some of the other things I’ve discussed. Outright I didn’t have the concentration or ability to work on a new Pens Preview. I really enjoy writing those, but they require some serious focus and dedication to examining details and working through tons of stats and various numbers. I’m feeling edgy right now, no way would I be able to write one of those.

Then I saw something that got me going. Grant Imahara of Mythbusters fame Re-tweeted a link to a video early today. He linked to this video.

Generally speaking I avoid listening to commercial radio and/or Pop music/Top 40 type stuff. Just not really my style (that, my friends, can be another post where I get on my snobby soapbox about the lack of talent, or more appropriately, the inability to sell a record based on talent because the consumer is a tasteless assclown). Honest to goodness, the most exposure I get to pop music is when it is covered by the people on Glee (haters gonna hate). The most exposure I had to this song was from Glee’s rendition of it or the random and sparse occasions when I would be in a shop or someone else would have a radio tuned to a top 40 station. With such limited exposure to it I never really considered the lyrics or, frankly, who the artist was. I had to look up that the track is one of Pink’s songs. What makes that even more depressing is that I really enjoyed Pink’s 1st record and was so-so-to-happy with her second major release. She just kinda fell off my radar as time went on, but that’s nothing new to any who know me.

I watched the video and I really enjoyed it. So I watched it again. Then another time. Each time I was noticing something about it, but it wasn’t about the actual video of the people featured in it. I was noticing the lyrics to the song. As mentioned previously, I don’t often find much value in pop music. In all likelihood this song, too, will be forgotten in a relatively short stretch of time, but I wanted to give it a few moments of my time because it speaks to something I like in my music, literature, etc – it empowers.

You may laugh, and I may look like a fool for saying so, but it is a song that I feel is something of an anthem for people, or at least a rallying call. Obviously there is a party element to the song, but I see it all as a carpe diem type mentality. More importantly, I see the call for individuality and being oneself. The repetition in the chorus calling for all the underdogs and those who are “wrong in the right ways.” This is a common thread with those of us who are a one-off type personality.

I am an odd bird. I don’t deny this. I pride myself on being, well, a little strange. Those who have come to know me over the years can attest to the fact that, well, I’m pretty darn weird. Not a bad weird or a creepy weird, just…odd. I don’t often see things the way others do, nor do I often have a popular opinion on things. I am a self avowed geek of all trades. I don’t deny it and I was one of the few who embraced being an oddity at a younger age. It worked for me and I try to encourage people to be themselves in this life instead of what other people want them to be.

The song, however, really caught my attention when I saw it paired up with the video of the cosplayers from the Comic-Con. Comic readers, cosplayers, video game players, etc have been at the fore of groups deemed socially unacceptable and generally seen as a strange underclass of weirdos that nobody likes. I grew up reading all types of comics. I am a video game collector. I’ve been to a number of E3 conferences. I go to toy and collectible shows. I’ve even been known to dress up for events before in costume (William Howard Taft being one of my more famous appearances). I know the looks I’ve gotten from people for being, well, all of those things I listed. They are even more shocked when they actually talk to me and realize I am sociable, rather intelligent, don’t smell like dirt that’s been humped by a hobo, and cast a wide net when it comes to things that interest me.

This video, though, got me really thinking about how these people, my people, really are wrong in all the right ways. We don’t belong but we also don’t really care. We are, as the song says, a bunch of “dirty little freaks.”

The people featured in this video are everything I like to see in others and like to see in myself when I can. These people are fearless.

They know the type of reactions they get from the general society and just how many people could possibly see them lip sync-ing to a Pink song on Youtube and they all said “fuck it” and just went with it because of being sure of who they are and what they do for themselves. I admire the Hell out of all of them for doing as such and I wish more people were confident in what they do in this life. It is like the old saying of sing/dance like nobody can see you. Just go out and do your thing. Be yourself. Be empowered. Be fearless.

I know that some of this has been poorly worded and phrased. I apologize for that. Like I said, I’ve been real edgy and unable to focus. Additional apologies as this has gone from one idea to the next. It’s been one of those days. In light of yesterday’s events and the milestone marker it was, I’m surprised I’m as together as I am. I also want to take a moment to thank everyone for their kind words and their thoughts over the last few days. I know I allow myself to get down about things and sometimes lose the perspective that I do have a number of good people in my life who genuinely care about it. It doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated, even if I am terrible at expressing it sometimes. But that’s who I am and you all have accepted me for who I am, just as I try, try, try to accept all of you for who you are.

Fearless. Not cocky, not covering up shortcomings, not a sleight of hand. Unafraid of what criticism may come and being in one’s glory. What a feeling. I hope I can continue to be fearless about things in my life. I hope you all, too, get to experience that. Be without fear and you will live forever.

There Was A Time…

When I sat down to work on this entry, I was having a very, very difficult time deciding on a topic. I wanted to say something profound, but, frankly, I’m not all that profound even when I am saying things with meaning. Profundity comes to me, not comes from me (or, at least, that’s how I see things, but I’m also my harshest critic). I had this want, this need, to say something Earth shattering that would rock everyone’s world, and I realized that if I tried to do that then any actual usefulness and insight would be lost because it wouldn’t be genuine. I would become what I despise about people like Augusten Burroughs – everything would be phony and forced for the sake of shock or lulz or sympathy.

Then I remember my events today while I was rotting in traffic coming back from taking a Civil Service exam. I want to tell you a little story.

I am a big fan of the alternative country/Americana/singer-songwriter genre. One artist I got into over the last few years is John Doe. His record from 2007, “A Year in the Wilderness,” is a grossly under-appreciated album, and it has a few songs that really pull me in and get to my core. One of those songs I have a variety of attachments to/with, but today listening to the song while sitting in traffic resulted in breaking down into tears.

For those playing the home game, it is no secret that I have been fighting off the urge to have kids until I can get my life in some sort of order. Right now I am living and breathing through Wallace Stevens’ “The Idea of Order at Key West.” (You can find it here: http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/Poetry/Stevens/The_Idea_of_Order_at_Key_West.html) I have been fighting off the urge for children for sometime because I know I am just not ready for that responsibility and it would be nothing less than unfair to the children if I could not provide the absolute best case scenario for them. As a male, I am conflicted over whether I want a boy or a girl more. Ultimately, I just want a healthy child and will be happy with that, but if I had to give an answer, I honestly want one of each, but I think I want a daughter more. I know, I know. I’ve heard the horror stories, but I’ve also seen the powers a daughter and father relationship can have, and I want to be able to give my daughter away some day and revel in the father-daughter dance (don’t get me wrong, I want to build things with my son and take him fishing and talk to him about girls and play hockey with him). I have been fighting the urge, but it continues to grow stronger and stronger.

I was listening to the John Doe record and the track “A Little More Time” came on.

Here is the song being sung by John Doe with Cindy Wasserman (the album version features Kathleen Edwards, who I think does a better job and I have an unmitigated love for)

 

 

I once put this on a CD (old school, right? I know.) for a girlfriend. I also explained “well, I understand the finer points don’t really apply here, and they actually are kinda creepy if you want them to be read that way…,” but I wanted the bigger point to come across (it did). In the present, though, I was listening to this song and I had a moment, a revelation, if you will, about just how powerful the song was for me and how closely it tied in with my wanting a daughter. I imagined playing this song for her as a baby and telling her about it as she grew older, and then holding onto those memories fondly as she began to resent me in her teen years, and then sharing a moment once we’ve gotten closer again as she became an adult. I considered the power a song like that would have if it were played at an important moment, or if she grew up and had a family of her own and played it.

All those thoughts came rushing in and I was so overwhelmed by the immensity of it all. It washed over me and I was fast reduced to tears. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I really, really hope that my sitting in traffic has given me indication of a potential pass-it-on-to-the-kids type of tradition. I hope I can look back on this time in my life and be able to say, with a longing, but somewhat fulfilled, regret that “there was a time…”

What to expect…kinda

Hello everyone.

I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone who helped me come to the decision recently about getting back into the blog game. I had discussed the ups and downs of doing this with a number of people. For various reasons, many of which may or may not become evident as time goes on, having a blog is a potentially dangerous thing for me professionally. Obviously I made my decision and here we are.

I was not 100% certain what I wanted to do with this initially. I didn’t want to commit myself to simply a sports blog or a video game blog. I didn’t want to just do one thing or another, but being spread out is hard, too. I have a lot of things I like to discuss. I have many (strong) opinions, but I also like to hear what others have to say. I am hopeful that this adventure will be as fulfilling for everyone else as it is for me.

To lay out some general expectations, there will likely be a number of posts about the aforementioned sports and video games. I have been involved in “New Media Journalism” for about a decade (before it was ever called “new media journalism”) as a video game writer. Regrettably, those days came to a halt a number of years ago because of technical issues and some, erm, staffing problems. By the time things had gotten back on their proverbial feet, the season had passed and I was involved in some other things. I want to get back into that some because of how much I enjoyed writing about the things in the world I liked. Video games have been a huge part of my life and I want them to stay that way.

Sports. Boy howdy. This is always an area where people tend to get bent out of shape. I will lay it out there for everyone – I am a hockey and football type of person. My teams in their respective sports are the teams from Pittsburgh, the Penguins and the Steelers. The usual internet protocol of “haters gonna hate” pretty much applies here. I will write about them. I will write about things going on in general. Even though the blog is named after a fantastic baseball film reference, there will likely be very little baseball talk.

I will try to stay away from politics, but it always finds a way in. That, my friends, is a bridge to cross at a later date.

Personal life blogging will be a recurring event, too. Names and events will be modified to protect people’s identities, but you can expect some stories from my personal world. This is, after all, the blog I created in the hopes of providing an outlet for my thoughts, feelings, etc.

I will also talk about music. Jesus, God in Heaven, there will be music talk. Music talk will basically be this:

Yeah, I’m a music snob (with debatable snobby tastes).

There will also be baby animals. Oh, yes, there will be baby animals.

You can also follow the blog on Twitter. It can be accessed at http://www.twitter.com/AvoidingTheClap or, simply, @AvoidingTheClap

I hope this experiment works out. Hopefully everyone enjoys what I throw against the wall. Hopefully this can, in fact, live up to the billing of “a blog of (good) advice.”

 

Here goes nothing.

 

-Walt

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