24 March, 2010

Confessions of an MTV Generation Traitor

Those who haven't heard the story before, and know what a big part of my life music is these days, might be surprised to learn that I didn't even start listening to music until at least halfway through high school, when I finally turned on to the music my parents had subconsciously planted an appreciation for in my head, by playing it throughout my formative years. That, of course, would be the music of their generation, focused on the late 60's and early 70's. Guitar-based rock n roll, with a heavy blues flavor (which is a refinement I later picked up on).

As for the music of my generation, it never really hit me. And I also, to an extent, consciously distanced myself from it because I've always associated it with my peers, and I never felt particularly like I could relate to my peers. But that doesn't mean that a song or two wasn't able to break through my defenses now and then. I have, in fact, (a while ago now) collected a disc's worth of those songs together in a compilation that I'm not especially vocal about having - because, although I might "like" these songs (albeit not on the same level as the songs I'm more vocal about liking), I don't want to give people the impression that I like this kind of music, because I don't especially, and I'm not exactly eager to get a bunch of like-minded recommendations. After all, these are mostly songs I noticed before I realized what it was I liked about music (which also implies that these songs don't have it, at least not nearly to the same extent (and if I had to take a guess as to what "it" is, I would say compelling electric guitar leads)).

But in the spirit of Satanic Thoreau's recent foray into pop music, I thought maybe I'd dust these songs off and pull them out of hiding, once and for all. Though instead of pop, most of these are probably what would be called "alternative".

Ironically, this collection is titled "Modern" even though, by now, all of these songs are at least a decade old. I guess nothing stays modern for very long. I'll take suggestions for a new title if you've got any.

No Doubt - Don't Speak [1995]
To me, this was a powerfully emotional song. Just in the way it sounded and the melancholy lyrics and all. "Don't tell me cause it hurts." Unfortunately, whatever respect I may have once had for Gwen Stefani was tossed out the window with Hollaback Girl. I don't know what a "hollaback girl" is, all I know is that I want her dead.

Garbage - Push It [1998]
And this is what I thought of as an "intense" song back in the day. I always liked the line (and the way it was presented in the song), that goes, "this is the noise that keeps me awake; my head explodes and my body aches", and then bam! "Push it, make the beat go harder."

Pearl Jam - Do The Evolution [1998]
Despite my stance against admitting Pearl Jam into the pantheon of Classic Rock this is one song by them that I've always liked. It's a pretty good rocker, and I like the vocals, and I remember it having a pretty neat amazing animated music video that caught my attention once upon a time. "It's evolution, baby!"

Rammstein - Engel [1997]
German band with a kind of "industrial" flavor. It's a pretty good song, and I like the dynamic that exists between the male and female vocals. (I won't mention the topically relevant Eva AMV).

Radiohead - Paranoid Android [1997]
Radiohead - Karma Police [1997]
These Radiohead tracks were added later on, as I have no recollection of being aware of any Radiohead songs specifically when Radiohead was fresh (although I do recognize the video for Karma Police (the video for Paranoid Android just confuses me - and not in a good way - but the song is good)). My only connection to them really is through a guitarist/friend of mine I knew in college. I didn't quite agree with him that Radiohead was the logical progression in bands to listen to after the likes of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd (generation gap, anyone?), but I certainly don't hate these songs. (Fake Plastic Trees came a little bit later still).

Natalie Imbruglia - Torn [1997]
It's funny, because this song also turned up on Satanic Thoreau's Immaculate Pop collection (linked above). The one thing about this song that really stands out is the lyric "lying naked on the floor". That was all it took for me. Also, though I don't usually go for the short hair look, I have to admit Natalie is pretty cute in the video. Interestingly, I remember when she first came on the scene, and in an MTV news break, Kurt Loder (I presume) came on to inform us all that the 'g' in "Imbruglia" was indeed silent.

Madonna - Frozen [1998]
I was too young for Madonna's first wave, but I remember her "comeback". Although I've never invested much time or attention into Madonna's music, I always quite liked this particular song. I remember at one time thinking that it could be enhanced with some passionate guitar licks over top (or even in place) of the humming. I still think so. Beautiful video, by the way. "You only see what your eyes want to see; how can life be what you want it to be? You're frozen, when your heart's not open."

Soundgarden - Black Hole Sun [1994]
In truth, this is a good song, but even if it wasn't, I'd still like the title, because it's a fascinating concept. I recall the music video being pretty surreal, which adds to the appeal. But the idea of the sun, giver of all light, changing into a black hole, to suck everything away, is deliciously fatalistic. "Hang my head, drown my fear, till you all just disappear."

Orgy - Blue Monday [1998]
I would say that this is merely an okay song, but the driving beat and repeated line "how does it feel" is pretty infectious. Also, I like the distortion. Very fuzzy.

Fiona Apple - Criminal [1996]
This was, hands-down, without a doubt, the sexiest music video I had (and still have) ever seen. For a long time it was a guilty pleasure not because I didn't want to admit to liking the song, but because I was afraid to admit to watching such a sexy video. But damn. Ok, so it's kind of sleazy, but wow is it hot. And the truth is, the real point of this entire post was to give me an excuse to admit that. Yep, I just had to come clean. "What I need is a good defense, 'cause I'm feelin' like a criminal." And I'm not even kidding.

Fastball - The Way [1998]
I don't even remember the first time I heard this song, but during the Summer of [Shattered] Dreams, it was played in my presence, and to my surprise, I recognized it, though I knew not from where. Regardless, it's not a bad song. If it has a kind of dull, plodding atmosphere, the lyrics make up for it. Nothing like the dream of picking up your bags and heading off into the sunset in search of "eternal summer slacking".

Metallica - Nothing Else Matters [1992]
Being in the "metal" vein, which I've always eschewed for rock (even before I got into rock) Metallica is a band I've never really gotten into, although I have come across some songs of theirs that I like. This is one of them, and like the Radiohead songs, it came in a bit later than the rest. I also like Fade To Black, which I heard two guitarists perform at an Open Mic at college, but it's this song's lyrics that spoke to my sensitive heart during my "unrequited love" period.

Bush - Comedown [1994]
I recall hearing this song on the radio in a half-sleep daze, and getting stuck on the chorus - "I don't wanna come back down from this cloud; it's taken me all this time to find out what I need". For some reason, I was caught on it, so I hunted down the song. It's not a bad song. Strong bass line.

Godsmack - Voodoo [1998]
Ok, this is a pretty repetitive song, but like the snake's venom, it sinks into your veins and you just can't get it out. The repeated lyric ("I'm not the one who's so far away...") is like a chant that refuses to cease. I had it stuck in my head a long time ago, then I forgot it, then I heard the song again in yet another half-sleep daze, and it got stuck in my head again, so I had to seek out its source. It's kind of hypnotizing.

If I were to add another song, I might consider Nine Inch Nails' Closer, just for being so damn ballsy (it's better with the equally ballsy video). Going back and watching all these videos, I should make this a DVD compilation of video clips rather than a CD comp. I'm actually impressed with how much the dates for these songs matched up. They're all from the 90's, with the majority from around 97/98. Which makes sense, as that was about the time - plus a year or two for the songs to get airplay - that I discovered classic rock and switched over, never to look back. Maybe at that time, even before I switched on, my body was craving music. And these were the best I was stuck with until I found what I was truly looking for. Interesting.

I'll also mention here, since it's relevant, that I'm a fan of Alanis Morissette's album Jagged Little Pill from 1995. Although I like a good female vocalist (see Janis Joplin), this isn't really the type of music I listen to, but the conviction shines through on this album and it really makes a difference. Ironic is probably the popular pick from the album, but my personal choice would be You Oughta Know.

Also, there was a time when I enjoyed listening to Mariah Carey, believe it or not. I've heard her get a lot of flack from people who like the kind of music I listen to, but I liked the way she sang. And I thought she was pretty attractive too. It's strange, because that whole aesthetic isn't really my scene, but for some reason she was an exception. I recall a particularly interesting video involving a jet ski chase.

More than anything, MTV teased me with a glorified view of having a social life - with shows like Real World and Road Rules, even if I don't like to admit I ever watched them, and the idealistic dream world of Spring Break, where it's warm, you're on the beach, watching a live outdoor concert, and you're surrounded by bikini-clad beach babes, and people are doing crazy things that often involve getting naked, and Girls Gone Wild is probably somewhere nearby, too. I simultaneously despised that world - the social world - and I desired it. I blame biological programming, but I've never been satisfied with the loner life I've lead out of necessity. For the little bit of time that I let it, MTV gave me a chance to be a tiny bit closer to that world that I was missing out on.

But there are better worlds, after all, to discover. Worlds I am more suited to.

[Postscript: Reading the comments on these videos is enlightening. Hearing people wax nostalgic about the 90's and how today's music ain't got the same soul really puts my own 60's/70's elitism into perspective. There's no question that the music from those decades had something that's lacking in most music today, but that's not to say that today's music isn't as good (except, of course, on a subjective level), it's just different.

And of course, growing up with music really helps to imprint it on your mind. I wonder how I would feel about the music I love if I hadn't listened to it as an impressionable infant. And yet, I'm mad about bluesmen like the three kings, and I'm pretty sure my parents weren't blasting records by them, so there's some element to my taste in music that isn't purely nurture.

Perhaps I was just lucky to be exposed so early to music that complemented my tastes so well. I suppose it's just a shame it took me so long to realize that. If I had gotten into music earlier, it might have changed the whole course of my life, potentially. I might have had a band in high school! :o

They flutter behind me, my possible pasts...]

19 March, 2010

Still, Waters Runs Deep

I was browsing photos of pretty girls on flickr, and I came across one that was titled Empty Spaces, which, incidentally, gave me a craving to listen to the song of the same name (I haven't really listened to Pink Floyd a whole lot in a long time). Anyway, because the live version of Empty Spaces is more complete, and I love the What Shall We Do Now? part that doesn't show up on the studio version, I loaded in the live version of The Wall to listen to. And at the end of The Thin Ice, I thought of two things. The first is that, in perfect counterpoint to Gilmour's fluid leads, Roger Waters has a great talent at writing lyrics (and singing them in such a way) that makes them very singalongable. The other thing I thought, while listening to the final lines in the song:

Don't be surprised when a crack in the ice appears under your feet. You slip out of your depth and out of your mind, with your fear flowing out behind you as you claw the thin ice.

was that Roger Waters has an uncanny ability to describe quite horrific experiences in not only a poetic language, but he sings them in a way that almost belies their terror. Not to say that Waters' voice isn't capable of matching the horror of his lyrics (it certainly is, and frequently does), but then there are cases like this one, and when he sings about nuclear holocaust in Two Suns in the Sunset (the meaning of which would have completely escaped me, by the way, if it weren't for my brother's more lyric-oriented approach to listening to music) -

Like the moment when the brakes lock, and you slide towards the big truck (oh, no). You stretch the frozen moments with your fear. And you'll never hear their voices (daddy! daddy!), and you'll never see their faces. You have no recourse to the law anymore. And as the windshield melts, my tears evaporate, leaving only charcoal to defend.

which is sung in an astonishingly calm voice (once you realize what's really going on). And that's just part of Roger Waters' charm, itself only part of what makes Pink Floyd such a great band. And with that thought on my mind, I can't help thinking that I really need to learn a good David Gilmour solo once and for all.

18 March, 2010

Raptors ate the hall monitor!

I had a dream last night that involved an infiltration mission into my old high school, after it had been infested by dinosaurs. Interestingly, among the people in the team that were headed into the danger zone were some of my college professors. The infiltration was as scary and as exciting as you could imagine. I had to dodge and try to outrun velociraptors in the hallways, using decoys and such. Some others seemed to have an easier time outrunning the raptors ("you just have to lead them on and keep ahead of them"), but I wasn't very confident in my ability to out-velocirate a velociraptor. At one point, I ducked into a small room to hide from danger, and found a rather large kitchen knife (larger than any kitchen knife I'd expect to find in real life, but still in the style of a kitchen knife). Turns out that room was Party Guy Marty's hideout, who I had passed previously in the hall (he returned while I was in the room).

That dream gives a whole new meaning to the term "hall monitors".

13 March, 2010

Anime Chekku

What with a certain anime convention coming up in just under a month, I figured it was a good time for me to watch some anime to really get in the mood. Here's what I've been watching recently:

Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei

First up is the fourth incarnation of one of my favorite series, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. I've been waiting for the right moment to watch this since it aired, before the holidays. As expected, Zan is on par with the rest of the series' incarnations, and is very much more of the same (which, if, like me, you like the same, is a good thing). If you're unfamiliar with Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, it is, in my opinion, the perfect blend of social satire, cynical humor, psychological disorders, and adorable moe. And if you think that last element sounds out of place, you may be right, but that's precisely the reason I adore the series so much. And because the art is so good (and the girls so cute), here are a few more screen caps:

Moving on...

Mongolian Chop Squad

Er, that is, Beck. Despite the premise being quite obviously right up my alley, and in spite of the recommendations I've received, I've been slow to catch Beck, and the reason is in the title. Although I could see it being a reference to revered guitar god Jeff Beck, the fact is, my first reaction is to think of a decidedly different Beck who, though I'm not actually familiar with his music, kind of turns me off. In fact, even within the anime series, when the band debuts in America, they have to come up with a different band name (which ends up being Mongolian Chop Squad) for (I think) that very reason.

In any case, it was a good series, about the initial tribulations surrounding the formation of a Japanese rock band. Featured in the band is a hot young guitarist who spent some time in New York, and played alongside another musician currently in a more popular band, and a high school student who turns out to be something of a musical prodigy. Together with the other members of the band, they struggle to make it both as performing and recording artists. Though I liked Chiba's character, his hip hop approach to the vocals wasn't really my style. Koyuki's singing style was better, but still more ballady. What that band needed was a rock vocalist.

The liberties taken with the story of the guitar Lucille are hilariously patchy, though I'm sure that was intentional. But Sonny Boy Waters? The character with the best taste in music was the guitar teacher/humorously awkward old guy, who is a fan of old British rock - he even mentioned the Yardbirds! There were a few minor time jumps in the story that felt a little awkward, but it was nice to see the passage of time that was covered. I wasn't really satisfied with the stilted development of Koyuki and Maho's relationship, though. For the characters who spoke some English, the accents were (mostly) expectedly bad, which was kind of distracting. And to end on a good note, the band's performance at the music festival near the end was really inspirational.


Toradora! is a story of romance, involving a fragile-looking but aggressive girl named Taiga (tora = tiger), and a boy with a mean face but a gentle heart (representing the dragon = doragon). It's one of the many series featuring a tsundere character voiced by Queen of Tsundere Kugimiya Rie, who also voiced hikikomori (and yes, tsundere) Nagi-ojousama from Hayate no Gotoku, who I am rather fond of.

To my surprise, Toradora! featured a number of other familiar voices, including Maria (Tanaka Rie) - also from Hayate no Gotoku (and to my complete surprise, also the voice of my beloved Chii) - as the sensei. I recognized the distinct voice of one Nonaka Ai, who plays Kafuka Fuura in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, as one of the minor characters. One voice I [shockingly] didn't recognize was that of Horie Yui, playing one of the supporting characters, who also voiced two characters I've had my eye on in the past - Sawachika Eri from School Rumble (<3), and Narusegawa Naru from Love Hina (now I'm showing my age ;_;).

I kind of didn't want to like Aisaka Taiga at first, because to me, she was just a character trying to usurp the voice of Nagi-ojousama (like how Kannagi's Nagi usurped her name), but I got to like her in the end. Although I missed Nagi's usage of "zo" at the end of her sentences. Even though I have the impression that it's more of an aggressive male pattern of speech, I always thought it was cute when she used it. But Taiga doesn't use it.

I think the thing I like about tsundere characters, is that I can relate to their reluctance to show their feelings, especially when those feelings are embarrassing (which usually involves admitting that you like someone). And while I may not have the violent or downright standoffish fronts associated with tsundere characters (at least I hope not), I find that attempt to shield their vulnerabilities immensely attractive (at least in fantasy).

But hiding one's feelings can have painful consequences, for yourself and for those around you. And the way in which this series deals with those consequences is what lifted my appreciation for it above merely a fun show to watch. When I got to the end of the "intervention" scene, it was so good, I went back and watched it three more times in a row before continuing on (I'm not sure I can even remember the last time I've done that). The ending may not have been perfect (or completely satisfying), but that confrontation was worth the price of admission alone.

10 March, 2010

A couple Neil Young lyrics

Yesterday I heard a cover of Motion Pictures by an unfamiliar band on the blues radio stream I like to listen to. It was a pretty faithful cover, I'd say. It's not really my style of song - kind of "country mellow" - but hearing it on this station, surrounded by blues songs, and covered by a blues band, reinforced my feeling that it's a good song. Of course, having heard my brother perform the song in the past has helped to polish my appreciation for it, as well. Although it still doesn't hold a candle to the other songs from On The Beach that I like more (especially the title track). :p

Switching gears, let's talk about a lyric from Cowgirl in the Sand, a song I've been playing regularly for years, before which I spent some time listening to it obsessively. While playing the song recently, I got to the second verse, where the line about "rust" comes into play. But it's the part just after that that I want to talk about:

After all the sin we've had,
I was hoping that we'd turn bad

Sometimes I'll sing or listen to a lyric for a long time and not really think about it - whether I understand what it means or not - and then suddenly the line will hit me. Well, I've always been slightly confused about this particular line (and it's not the only line in this song that's confused me). It's just - I'd think to myself - if we've had all this sin, then are we not bad already? Isn't the reason we've partaken of all this sin because we turned bad in the first place?

Or perhaps it goes something like this. We tried out all this sin, just for the fun of it. And then we were expecting it to turn us bad. But it didn't. We remained good. So maybe we turned out not to really like the sin all that much in the end? Maybe we ultimately found out, to our disappointment, that we weren't cut out for the sinful life after all?

Well, the "revelation" that hit me the other day, was to take the phrase "turn bad" as having the connotation of spoiling, like with food. We tried out all this sin, hoping that it would turn us bad, in order to reinforce our beliefs - handed down to us through religion - that sin destroys man. Sort of a proof that sin is bad. But after trying all this sin, we didn't turn bad. We were perfectly fine. Which actually disproves the religious angle, and instead suggests that sin isn't all that bad, isn't a big deal after all. It's not something we have to avoid, because it's not going to turn us bad...

The other lyric I wanted to mention is from the song The Last Trip To Tulsa. I've had this thought more than once while listening to the song. It has to do with this part:

I was driving down the freeway,
when my car ran out of gas.
Pulled over to the station,
but I was afraid to ask.

The service men were yellow,
and the gasoline was green.
Although I knew I could not,
thought that I was gonna scream.

When I hear this part, I can't help thinking that it's a perfect description of social anxiety. You've gotta get gas but you're too afraid to talk to the men at the station. Anxiety creeps in, and you start noticing the little details - like the color of the gas. The stress overwhelms you and you feel like you wanna scream, but you know you could never actually draw attention to yourself like that.

I know the feeling. And it's the fear of it that keeps me from taking trips to Tulsa more often.

Spring Forward

March is the transitional month. That's not to say that it's a complete and flawless transition, but April is clearly more of a spring month, and February is definitely more of a winter month. March is somewhere in between.

I remember learning when I was real young that March "comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb". Which makes some sort of sense. The cold, blistery, winter weather is aggressive like a lion, whereas the mild spring weather is gentle like a lamb. I, however, always thought that they got it backwards. First of all, the lion's bright golden mane reminds me of the sun, whereas the lamb's soft white fleece seems a perfect symbol for the snow. And furthermore, winter is the quiet season, whereas the summer (which follows spring) roars with heat and activity.

I noticed that Daylight Saving Time is coming up - real soon - and that reminded me of a lyric/poem I wrote a while ago. You can find it on my website (if you know where to look), but I'll repeat it for you here. It's a blues, sort of a parody of B.B. King's Three O'Clock Blues (although I borrowed the rhythm for the bridge from another song - I think it was You Upset Me Baby), which is one of my favorites of his. Perhaps if I learned how to play that song, I could just switch in my lyrics, and I'd have a song to play every time Daylight Saving comes around!

This lyric was actually written for fall, and not spring, but maybe it'll help you to appreciate that winter is finally ending.

Daylight Saving Blues

it's four o'clock in the evenin', baby
and I can't even see my way
four o'clock in the evenin'
an' I can't even see my way
sunset's gettin' earlier,
earlier every day

shadows are risin' higher
and the days are gettin' cold
yeah, shadows rise up higher
and the days are gettin' cold
one more year is passing
and I fear I'm gettin' old

I can't go out after dinner
I can't play with the boys next door
I knew a girl named Sandy
but she don't live 'round here no more

it's four o'clock in the evenin', baby
and I can't even see my way
four o'clock in the evenin'
an' I can't even see my way
sunset's gettin' earlier,
earlier every day

fall back, fall back, fall back
fall back is what they say
yeah, fall back, fall back, fall back
fall back, is what they say
you might just spring forward,
on some bright and sunny day

I like falling back more than springing forward, because I'm much fonder of the idea of gaining an hour than I am of losing one. But, there are other benefits to springing forward that make up for that. For example, the promise of summer, in place of the dread of winter. And also, setting your clocks ahead one hour is a lot easier than setting them back, which requires you to cycle through nearly a whole day just to go backwards...

Never fall back!

07 March, 2010

Supply & Demand in the Job Market

I saw a commercial on television advertising IT jobs, and one of its selling points was that those kind of jobs are in demand and on the rise (seeing as how technology is constantly becoming a more and more important, and integrated, aspect of our lives). That's all well and good, but there's something that really disturbs me about this idea that in order to be successful and land a job making good money, you have to get in where the zeitgeist is located. It's like investing, which, to me, is just glorified gambling (and I'm not particularly fond of gambling) - buy in with the right people at the right time, and you'll become rich. Otherwise, you're screwed.

I'm not saying there's anything intrinsically wrong with the concept of supply and demand - where there's demand, supply has a tendency to fill in. I'm saying the problem is associating it with market economy and the American dream - which, in this context, means the dream of getting a good job, making lots of money, and living a happy life. Because then what happens to the people who aren't suited to those industries? A really talented artist, for example, living in a very non-artistic-minded world, may be forced to lead a rotten, poverty-stricken life.

This is precisely what I dislike about the idea of capitalism and competition. Granted, in a world where resources are not abundant enough to provide for all, there has to be some degree of competition - how to decide who gets the goods and who has to starve to death. This idea fuels the whole "working for a living" model. Pay your dues to society, and you get a paycheck in return which entitles you (through money-based transactions - after all, money is essentially a promise for goods/services) to have your "fair" share of the world's (or the country's) resources. [We'll neglect the corruptions of this system, which result in many people working for a living, and then still not getting their fair share].

This is not a perfect system. Perhaps there are people out there who would argue that it is - I would have to disagree with them. Others are likely to suggest that, hey, maybe it's not perfect, but it's the best we've got. And maybe they're right. Maybe. That still doesn't mean we should stop looking for something better.

Consider a world in which resources are abundant enough to provide for all. Nobody has to compete for those resources because there is more than enough to go around - everybody can afford to get their share without leaving anybody wanting. What would be the point in working for a living? You wouldn't need to work for a living, because that living would be provided for you, free of charge.

Now this doesn't mean that nobody would work, or even that nobody would need to work. The emphasis would change from working for a living, to working to keep the system in balance. Instead of selfishly working to provide for yourself and the ones you care about, at the cost of leaving other people in the world poor and starving (as occurs in a capitalist world without sufficient resources for everyone, or where some people take more than their fair share at the cost of leaving others wanting), people would be encouraged to work for the benefit of the system, which in turn, means the benefit of all.

If you're a capitalist, you're probably thinking, this would never work. People aren't so good-natured that they'd exert effort "for the good of all mankind", or certainly not as much effort as they'd exert "for their own good", as they are encouraged to do in a competitive capitalist system. And maybe you're right. I'm not so optimistic that I think people are generally good and selfless at their core (although society has a strong ability to mold people's disposition - people raised in a competitive system, where competition is encouraged, are much more likely to become competitive, since it's required for survival - call it self-selection). But I think there are other, perhaps less obvious benefits about a resource-abundant system such as the one I've described.

If people are selfish, then imagine this. A person works for the good of the system. But instead of looking at it in terms of what the system provides for all, one could look at it in terms of the benefit the system provides for each, individually. In other words, what does the system do for me? And the answer is, the way I imagine it, a much better quality of life.

(By the way, for anyone who thinks I'm against "the Establishment" for superficial reasons - like that I don't like authority or whatever - this is evidence that I don't like the Establishment not simply because it's the Establishment, but actually because it's a bad Establishment. :p)

First of all, imagine getting everything you need without the stress of having to work for it. Okay, so there's the possibility that people will lack even the motivation to do the work necessary to keep the system running when they're not being directly awarded for it, in the form of a paycheck. But there's more.

What will people do with their lives? If they don't have to work for a living, what will they spend their life pursuing? The answer is - their dreams. Imagine a world where people have the luxury of being able to pursue their dreams. Instead of working all day at a boring dead-end job in order to put food on the table, you could work all day on something that truly inspires you.

Maybe this is still being optimistic. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and perhaps progress happens more efficiently in a cutthroat environment, where solutions are required for survival, and failures are quickly weeded out. Maybe. But think for a second about all the things that haven't been invented, or haven't been invented yet, simply because nobody has had the time to focus their efforts on it while working to stay alive, and because it simply wasn't a completely necessary invention. We don't need flying cars to survive, but couldn't things be better if we had them? Couldn't, perhaps, life be more enjoyable with a few frivolous extras? Computers are certainly not required for survival (at least not before they were invented, after which point we've begun to depend on them), but look at all the things we can do with them - and do better, and easier!

The point is, maybe my vision of a better world isn't a better vision in everyone's mind, but that doesn't stop me from thinking it's worth a try. And even if everybody else disagrees with me, I, personally, would prefer to live in that world than in this one. And I think I'd be able to live a much happier, and much more enjoyable life than this one, where all the competition and struggling, instead of making me a better person, only serves to drag me down and distract me from the creative, inspirational impulses I have.

01 March, 2010

A Sandy Cowgirl

I had another amazing dream last night. Skipping to the good part, I was wandering around at Burning Man, when I came across a camp where a girl was building some sort of machine. She was petite, total DFC, completely topless, probably wearing hotpants (I was focused more on what she wasn't wearing than what she was). I was captivated by her at first sight. I found out somehow that her name was Tara (pronounced like Terra).

She was putting a large flat panel in place, which was covered in dust (desert dust). She pounded on it to get it securely in place, and the dust coming off of it covered her completely. The machine then swallowed her up, as it was apparently operational, and it apparently had a shower facility somewhere inside (it was big, but I still couldn't help wondering how in the world she could have fit inside it).

Meanwhile, I chatted with the machine operator who was sitting off to the side. Finally, the girl came out, all clean, and started complaining that the machine tried to shave her (fortunately, she still had a full head of hair). It was obvious to me that the operator was the girl's boyfriend, and she started going on about how he tried to make the machine shave her as an excuse for him to cheat on her (because it would make her ugly? I really don't know).

Anyway, because I was chatting with the guy while she was in the machine, the girl asked me if her suspicions were right. The guy hadn't told me anything to suggest such a thing, and I was eager to allay the girl's suspicions, but I was also hesitant to get in the middle of this quarrel. So I kind of just stuttered. She told me I was scary - I guess, being the random stranger - although I don't think she was being completely serious (even with all the quarreling, she seemed more in a playful mood than anything else). I told her I was just scared, and that she was the one who was scary (you know, because pretty girls scare me).

But then she told me that being scared just meant that you were confessing something. So I asked her, "does that mean I'm confessing to you?" She was leaning in close to me at this point, and she smiled very sweetly. Then she kissed me, right smack on the lips. And in full view of her boyfriend. I was totally flustered; the guy was enraged; and the girl seemed delighted by the mischief she was causing. I politely extricated myself from the situation, trying to apologize but the guy would hear nothing of it. I left the camp feeling like I was sitting on top of the world. =)