Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What Christmas Means To Me

Christmas is an expression of all human chaos, spangled, drawn out and molested by venturing capitalists, hunting bargainers and humbling shepherds.

Following tradition of the past couple years, I’ll go with some of my friends to the Indianapolis tree lighting. This time we showed up late, paid too much for parking, got separated in a tight crowd, couldn’t hear anything, had to respond to insane strangers, felt cold, all to see a switch flipped and quickly scatter to the nearest restaurant.

I also decided to do Black Friday, a thing we all made up to sell shower radios or something. I decided to go to Wal-Mart, and I wasn’t doing the Jane Fonda, “I’m gonna essay about this later,” but to buy a TV. Though, I did complain about it on Twitter.

Christmas is continually and cleverly trivialized. Every year we’re fed an idea of Christmas that’s insulting as it is impersonal. Canned is a good word for this. (TV tries to convince us people actually buy luxury cars as gifts.) There’s a lot of trying going on that doesn’t serve much of a purpose, precisely because compassion, empathy, and nurturance are given low priority in society, especially one of endless economic growth. The easiest way to make us try is to sell an idea, and the best way to do that is to present an ideal as the norm. It ends up feeling more packaged than natural, a predictable byproduct of a culture that asks that everyone stop what they’re doing and Christmas, not really giving us a good idea of what that should mean.

That’s what I mean by chaos, trying to do Christmas like they want us to and also the way it’s supposed to, trying to find out what both means while not doing either, the fretting that comes with the responsibility of expressing meaning for something that actually has meaning. I don’t know many things more difficult and risky than presenting importance. And yet Christmas should be the easiest thing of all to make out to be important! It’s a time to celebrate love and hope and peace with loved ones (few do), or if we take it literally, it’s a scheduled history lesson to allot emotional strength to religiously reflect (fewer do), or to buy each other some stuff to stand in for lapses in the former. No disrespect; I love stuff. Though stuff does a good job at collecting dust, and I can never enjoy a videogame as much as I enjoyed Banjo Kazooie.

But I love Christmas! I love Christmas, right? When people ask me, I’ll always say I love Christmas, even with all it’s traffic jams and familial dinners, the commercial expose, wanting and the gross expectation of getting, saying that this gift will come in handy, really, late church services and shouting empty canticles, Gloria in excelsis Deo!, and it makes me wonder if there’s any other way to be doing this and what all this work is even for.

And I think it all hit me at the tree lighting, as I heard every small child ever crying half as reaction and half as a request, a mother maneuvering her stroller through continually closing space, young punks slipping through past because they feel the right to live faster, the faintly audible chorus of a cloying jingle made spectacular and lifeless by the singers and backing band of the nearest mega church that values production value and mass attendance over individual reflection and growth, a reddened father mouthing that he had been nice to everybody all day, but some people are testing his patience and he just doesn’t know what he’s even gonna do…, the spoken and not regrets that everyone chose to come here at all, that it was just as bad last year, do you remember how it was last year, that it was exactly the same as it is now, wait, and that it’ll be the exact same next year, hold on, and that we’ll be upset about the same expected things and not, ok, and maybe that’ll be ok, and why am I smiling when I can’t control anything that’s going wrong with life, and why would I be crying if there weren’t people here, so what am I supposed to do, and so what, god shut up, and why is Kiotta asking me why I’m smiling, and why do I feel uncomfortable and serene all at once in this noise, and why do I feel as though this is really what Christmas is to me at all, entanglement and human chaos in a cavity of wanting and disappointment, and that even here, maybe only here in this arrant constant that I can feel love, and that I can feel hope, and that I can feel peace, and how I want so much to have it some other way, but not really, and how I wish you a Merry Christmas, with all its frith and frivolity. Flip that switch.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Favorite Albums of 2012

I feel fortunate to enjoy as much music as I do. You'll see this list is really all over the place. It's hard for me to be focused because there is too much out there that is great. I've never really understood when people'll claim to only be able to listen to one genre, or worse, artist (usually Drake) and judge quality on a scale of being similar to or different from that one genre or artist (again, Drake). A cool thing about music is that you can have a completely acceptable music taste and not listen to anything on this list, or any list!

But! Don't gloss over stuff you haven't heard of on this list! I try my best not to! It might even be good!

Albums are ranked on how much I enjoyed them/played them in my car.

I have video links of what I consider must-hear songs.

30.  Lonerism - Tame Impala

29. Red - Taylor Swift
28. Piramida - Efterklang

This is one of the more beautiful songs I heard this year. I really wish it wasn't in an ad to sell iPads, or whatever.

27. 1991 - Azealia Banks
26. Skelethon - Aesop Rock
25. Kindred - Burial
24. Coexist - the xx

Jamie xx, the rhythmic force behind the xx who uses only electronic instruments and loves making excellent remixes, really shines on this effort, so much the band feels like it's keeping up. He takes a lot from the recent movement of UK two-step (Burial, Four Tet, Flying Lotus, Radiohead), and it results in incredibly approachable songs with very complex bases. I feel this album has been under-appreciated (because yeah a lot of the songwriting sucks).

23. Hands of Glory - Andrew Bird
22. Silver & Gold - Sufjan Stevens

Every year for ten years, Sufjan Stevens recorded an EP of Christmas music. It began as an undertaking he released to friends and family, and later to the public. This collection, of the last five years, highlights the chaos and serenity of Christmas. It captures it in a way that is peculiar and completely makes sense and is the only honest Christmas album you will hear ever (sorry, Cee-Lo).

21. Voyageur - Kathleen Edwards
20. Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball
19. Norah Jones - Little Broken Hearts
18. Until the Quiet Comes - Flying Lotus
17. Shrines - Purity Ring
16. good kid, m.A.A.d city - Kendrick Lamar
15. Spooky Action at a Distance - Lotus Plaza
14. Life Is Good - Nas
13. Voyageur - Kathleen Edwards
12. Celebration Rock - Japandroids
11. Devotion - Jessie Ware

This might be the biggest smash hit in Britain for 2012, but it's only marginally popular in America, for reasons I don't understand. It is constantly playing on BBC Radio 1 through 40. Also one of my favorite videos of the year.

10. The Palace Garden - Beat Connection

9. Be The Void / Wild Race - Dr. Dog

Insanely consistent bands that are under-appreciated and are constantly compared to the Beatles should be cherished (also see: Spoon, Tame Impala).

8. Bloom - Beach House
7. Silent Hour/Golden Mile - Daniel Rossen

From the lead guitarist of Grizzly Bear (spoiler alert my #1) Almost unbearably sad and beautiful.

6. Break It Yourself - Andrew Bird

5. In Our Heads - Hot Chip

4. Threads - Now Now

Brief pointless brag/story- I was shooting a Margot and The Nuclear So And Sos concert this past Summer. Now Now opened for them and I didn't know who they were. Before the show I saw this girl in the crowd I immediately thought was very attractive. It turned out she was the lead of the band. I guess attractive people are in bands. Who knew.

3. Master of My Make-Believe - Santigold

2. channel ORANGE - Frank Ocean

Art continually needs to be refreshed, which is what makes art so good and sad. Frank Ocean deserves a lot for saving R&B for five years (see: six Grammy nominations).

1. Shields - Grizzly Bear

Albums I Thought Were Ok But Could've Been Better/Different

Cruel Summer - GOOD Music
Pink - Four Tet
OF Tape Vol. 2 - Odd Future

Hate OF, love OF, Earl Sweatshit's verse at the end of this kills. Also, Frank Ocean came out to be bisexual on this track before "channel ORANGE" even came out. And look at the fun they're having. Look at these punks. God, this track.

Centipeded Hz - Animal Collective
Swing Lo Magellan - Dirty Projectors
The Idler Wheel… - Fionna Apple
III - Crystal Castles
Sees the Light - La Sera
God's Father - Lil B

Lil B is all over the place, and fails most of the time. I relate.

Le Voyage Dans La Lune - Air
Trilogy - The Weeknd
51 - Kool A.D.
Believe - Justin Bieber
FANTASEA - Azealia Banks
Port of Morrow - The Shins
Sun - Cat Power
Words and Music - Saint Etienne
Visions - Grimes

Albums I Didn't Like All That Much, But You Might

Born to Die - Lana Del Rey

All of this is boring. It's true I generally dislike what I see as the culture of Lana Del Rey. She's this fake, constructed celebrity, variable but entirely inauthentic. I dislike the swath of young women who have taken to this brand of youth. It's a view of youth I find boring and setting itself up for self-superiority with age. To me being young doesn't mean you have to choose between selfishness and being old. I feel like I know people who grew up like this, assume everyone grew up like this, and therefore feels entirely superior to everyone young because of it. BUT, I also just dislike the music. Please debate Lana Del Rey with me in person. I love doing that.

The Seer - Swans

This is one of the boldest and brilliant efforts I've listened through all year. It's impossible to listen to and I hate it. Post-everything.

The Money Store - Death Grips
The Idler Wheel… - Fionna Apple
Love This Giant - David Byrne & St. Vincent
Clear Moon - Mount Eerie
Come of Age - The Vaccines
Confess - Twin Shadow
Blunderbuss - Jack White
Fragrant World - Yeasayer
Daughter of Cloud - of Montreal
End of Daze - Dum Dum Girls
America - Dan Deacon
Galaxy Garden - Lone
Neck of the Woods - Silversun Pickups
Valtari - Sigur Ros
Former Lives - Benjamin (c'mon, it's Ben) Gibbard
Tempest - Bob Dylan
Mirage Rock - Band of Horses
I Know What Love Isn't - Jens Lekman
Breakfast - Chiddy Bang

Stuff I Haven't Listened To Yet But Would Like To

True - Solange
Heaven - The Walkmen
Warrior - Ke$ha
Tramp - Sharon Van Etten
The Haunted Man - Bat for Lashes
R.A.P Music - Killer Mike
Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! - Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Live from the Underground - Big K.R.I.T
Reign of Terror - Sleigh Bells
Any one of the four albums Ty Segall put out this year
Old Ideas - Leonard Cohen
Nocturne - Wild Nothing

Comment with something I should listen to! Or text me! Or talking words in real human life!

Monday, November 5, 2012


Now seems like as good a time as ever to announce my candidacy for something! Watch my video to find out or just use basic context clues anywhere in this post to spoil it!

Join this Facebook page to further the cause!

Download this desktop background if you reallllly feel like going over the top with this.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Gina's Life

Update: You will never see "Gina's Life."

This is CWC's long-lost short film adaptation.

At creative writing club get-togethers, Matt O'Haver would read "Gina's Life," a lengthy story that somehow mixes modes of science fiction, fantasy, romance, and arguably historical drama. We would laugh a lot.

"Hahaahaaahahah." -us, listening to Matt reading "Gina's Life."

In 2008, Gabe Webb wrote an incredibly faithful screen adaptation. What you see above is what was on the page. Over the summer, he asked me if I wanted to shoot it. We made it and had a private screening at the CWC get-together. We agreed to not release it publicly, partly out of guilt, but also to not deter future inevitable bad submissions. (We also already had sort of a reputation of appearing exclusionary, so we didn't think putting this out there would help our case.) In 2010 I managed to get a copy of the video on a dusty DVD. The last time it was showed publicly was at the premiere of my movie "Return to Danger Mountain" in 2010.

This past week, soon after CWC posted their 100th video, Gabe sent me a message, asking me to loose this work unto YouTube, saying, "It's time."

Oh how it is.

Directed by Gabe Webb
Shot by Brandon Walsh
Edited by Gabe Webb
Executive Produced by Jordan Cox
Narrated by Matt O'Haver
Starring Aamena Ansari, Alex Carlisle, Ryan Padgham, Jacqui Sheehan, Alie Hansen, Jordan Cox, and Jessie Eppelheimer

Monday, August 27, 2012

Assholes, Bullies, and Critics

Light anecdote. So the other day I was visiting a friend who came into town. After I spent some time with her I tagged along to someone else’s house to pre-game (for those who don’t know this refers to the act of drinking before drinking in order to make any large party make any sense whatsoever (many of you probably know I never actually go to the “game” because I can never make it make any sense whatsoever)). Not long after I got there, a trio of freshman boys arrived with cases of alcohol. They probably got it from an older friend of theirs. His name is probably Todd. (I should note that the group of girls I was with are very attractive and likely won’t need to buy their own alcohol for years. They’ve got the game down.) When one girl observed how much they brought, a child sporting a chin strap and a neon green hat with “RAGE” written in impact font in all caps responded in the most appropriate voice, “Yeah, and we’ve got a hundred dollars worth of more alcohol coming later.” I immediately jumped into the exchange asking, “What does your dad do?” If he knew what I was actually saying, he did a great job of hiding it, because he replied with, “a contractor for something something incorporated” without missing a beat. I’m fairly confident that everyone else in the room did get how dickish I was being. My mind was giving all sorts of high fives to my tongue.

Overview. I like most other people would admit that I’m not fond of assholes. I think that asshole behavior should be recognized, evaluated, critiqued and made fun of in order to encourage better behavior that has more compassionate regard for human beings. In this way I’m a critical person. I’ll watch most movies looking for themes and originality and cross-reference with what I’ve already seen, I’ll reply to Facebook posts if I find the point mean, I’ll think at times when others may find that annoying, I’ll write essays about assholes, I’ll think in lists like these, and so on. Yet one of the pitfalls of being critical is that you run the risk of being judgmental, that you distribute your critique based solely on a higher moral ground, not considering the situations and experiences of others, that people may be different, that you may be wrong. In other words, people who critique just become assholes themselves. This is why there is such a disdain for movie critics, atheists, and anchors not on Fox News. So many think, “Who are you to tell me how to think? How to live?” Critique is a very personal invasion in that is forces us to evaluate that, and because it asks these very close questions, the critic is constantly at risk of bullying, even if not intended.

Conflict. This terrifies me because I hate bullies more than I do assholes. I define assholes as people who simply think of themselves before others, in effect hurting others due to their lack of regard. I think we all do this, but at wildly varying degrees. Bullies are worse than that. Bullies are people who’re either gifted with attention or deprived of it and first become an asshole. But, they take the extra step to learn how to abuse that attention (or lack thereof) in order to mistreat others. There’s a bubble of confidence and comfort (or lack thereof) that comes with being a bully. It’s a kind of bad learning that we should teach better.

Aside. Ok, so the thing about me defining stuff is that it makes me sound like I got a firm grasp on all of this when I really don’t. These are all malleable terms that if I ever stop reevaluating and figuring out then I’m all the more likely to be an asshole. I have been an asshole. I have been a bully.

Context. Part of growing up sucked for me because of assholes and bullies. Growing up I felt like an outcast that had a harder time experiencing things that other kids did with ease. I felt I had to always be proving my intelligence because I didn’t do the best on those tests that chose what classes you could be in and that made me feel inferior. I would joke because the alternative was despair, despair felt from people who were better at being mean and getting dates and starting false rumors about me, people who took advantage of my disadvantage. This has left an indelible scar I’m trying to make serviceable. Because of this I have a certain affinity for those with similar scars, those who’re informed of what they can’t do. I try to keep those people close to me and some of my other friends have a hard time understanding why.

Revisiting. I’m still not sure if it was right to act how I did towards the kid in the neon RAGE hat. He might be a great guy, but I reserve the right to assume it’s more likely that he’s just some young punk trying to get his dick wet. I believe in critique, but I also realize that hate breeds hate, a bully of bullies is still a bully, and ridicule without consequence serves nobody but the critic, but perhaps now you realize why I feel so strongly about this (because of that whole context part).

Recognition. I get why some people find critique exhausting, though I think it’s because they simply confuse it with mere judgment and aren’t comfortable having their lifestyles critiqued. This is what I enjoy about stand-up comedy, particularly live. To me there are few things more beautiful than your most intimate beliefs challenged and evaluated by a charged wit and loosed mouth behind a microphone. Stand up comics get more done with that than modern philosophers do with their degrees, than I do with my stupid blog.

Self-reflection. I started writing this essay believing I would never publish it because I didn’t think doing so would convince anyone who didn’t already agree with me (this happens every so often). It wasn’t until the revelatory ending I’m about to write that I even fully believed what I was saying. Revelatory endings are like that.

Extrapolation. I believe that thought can make what we do better, yield us kinder and more compassionate people, aware and unfettered by impulse, bullies, and those who do not represent the truth. I believe that truth is nourishing and should be a constant. I believe a part of that constant is that people should be respected and treated without criteria.

Continuation. If this sounds like I’m standing on a soapbox on top of a mountain I would agree with you without moving my head very much, though I may debate the altitude of the mountain in question. This all may not convince anyone, but for whatever reason I would like it to known that this drives every single thing that I do.

Application. And while this all sounds sweeping, the kind of things you only recognize at the tops of mountains, I feel it influences all the meaningless stuff we do: how we look at strangers, how we observe, the kinds of jokes we make, how we comment online, how confident we feel in public, how much milk we drink out of the fridge. I think the world could be a better place if we were. I don’t think being critical is about trying to do everything right all the time or even feeling that you are doing everything right all the time, but about honestly measuring how much we all take away and provide.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

You And Yours

To you and yours, to waking walkers and talking sleepers, to severance sentiment, the paid and also the rent, to those who let bygones be bygones not knowing what a bygone was, to the father’s daughters and daddy’s girls, to the whirled and unfurled, to the sharpened and dull, to the friends you haven’t talked to in a while, to the rhymed rhythmic patter of mutual silence, to the placebo, to the places you’ll never go, to the tonic moments between moments, the ludic self-convincing, that sonic slapstick, the lysergic, terrified faith, to the pledged allegiance, to what goes without saying, to those who choose to say “swag,” to the funny story about that time that that thing happened and you had to be there, really, to the notarized tweet, to the gullible rods and musty vaults, to who you can’t help but mythologize, to frith, to frothed division, to the ongoing horrible, to the arranged disasters and the natural ones, to those who’d rather be attention whores than attention sluts, to the women and children who went second, to the self-jailed, to those who think it’s going to be easier being young later on, to the moral judge, jury and executioners, to who knows everyone and befriends no one, to the dot-connectors, to the puppet-showers, to the tired, the poor, the weak, to those who got a B- in gym, to the acres of love unspoken, to the magnificent children worked in dropout factories, to the tepid aggressors and incensed mediators between the head and the hands, to those who talk about life more than live, to the anticipation of the coda, and so on-

Let there be distinction with deference, let the heads that are tired rest and let them wake when woke, let the toolbags be replaced with boxes, let some other time be the right one, let hope find its own way, let the rural sprawl, let there be no hiding from purveyors of hearsay, let there be no fear of losing what you never had, let there be no making the best of a good life you’re pretending is terrible, let there be more honesty, more lux et veritas, let clichés rise above raising eyebrows, let us speak more and say less, let the first thing happen be listening, let us not refer to cares as worries, let the haters do their thing, let loose, let sex appeal grow on trees, let it be known once again that God’s penmanship has been signed with the language called love, let life be pretty on the inside too, let aftermath be science, let us stop picking and choosing moments to care for one another, let us outsmart the streets, let the correlative defy odds, let words work, let unpredictable and fun be interesting again, let hugging become violent, let place and space be properly differentiated, let’s be ok that everything isn’t ok and think of how boring it would be if it were, let love precede like, let out what rolls around, let us be assured change is an absolute certainty, let cadence lilt, let God forget to vote, let us see wonderful things, let's dream of wonderful things, let there be light and let it scald, let’s toady to nothing, let tears come to the eyes at the thought of this being any different-

Let’s go.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Aguierredos, the Poliwrath of Goddish - A Documentary About Pokémon

Fullscreen it, 1080p on it.

Here’s a documentary I made about Pokémon, the game, tournament, people and culture. It’s a follow-up to a home video I made last year called “Snorlax Like Me.” This is all at the 2012 Pokémon National Championships at the Indiana Convention Center. I tried to be critical without being damning, which is a line you kind of have to walk blindly.

( If you found this particular style of documentary I do interesting, you may wanna watch this more extensive thing I did about a guy named Hank and college life and stuff- http://youtu.be/0O6RIASQN48 )

The title of this is a play on “Augirre, the Wrath of God,” pronounced “ahh-gee-ray-dose, the poly-wrath of god-dish.”

Here are 50 alternate titles if you don’t like the one I chose:

Apocalypse Meowth
Black Swanna
Parasectual Healing
Driving Miss Misty
One Flew Over The Hoothoot's Nest
The Waillord of the Ursarings: The Return of The Kingdra
The Girl With The Dragonite Tattoo
Professor Oakback Mountain
Geodude, Where's My Car?
Porygon With The Wind
Magikarp Mike
War Horsea
Todadile Recall
One Night In Paras
Cool Story, Slowbro
Tentacool Runnings
The Wizard of Onix
Kill Bill's
PC The Haunter Games
Up In The Aerodactyl
The Molrtres Amigos
Hotel Kadabra
Ho-Oh Brother Where Art Thou
Skitty Skitty Bang Bang
Chiddy Chiddy KlingKlang
Skitty Skitty KlingKlang
District Ninetails
Hitmontop Gun
Metapod World Peace
Staryu Wars
The Good The Bad and The Purugly
The Taming of the Sandshrew
Citizen Arcanine
Registeel Magnolias
Starly and Me
The Donphantom of the Opera
How To Train Your Dragonair
The Nidoking's Speech
Million Dollar Magby
Magmarch of the Penguins
Donnie Darkrai
The Green Lanturn
Winter's Cubone
Eternal Sunkern of Spotless Mr. Mime
The 40 Year Old Virizion
Crouching Gligar Hidden Druddigon
Black Beautifly

(Alternate titles thought up by Zach Dalton, Mike Newman, Brandon Walsh and Dustin Zimmerman on one giggly evening.)

“Augirredos, the Poliwrath of Goddish” – made by Brandon Walsh

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Trayvon Martin May Have Been An Asshole

So could George Zimmerman. As owners of television sets, we have the right to entertain these possibilities. We also have to accept that we won’t know enough to properly make that distinction. None of us knew these people. They didn’t even know each other. All the “raw” information we got was filtered and processed and ex post facto and vague and inconclusive. We don’t even know who was screaming for help in the middle of the street on recorded audio before the gunshot was fired. But so long as there’s Nancy Grace and people like her, all the information we’re given will always be enough for us to have an opinion on the issue. It’s shitty and self-congratulating that we are all able to have a precious and valid opinion about everything, but we’re pretty shitty and self-congratulating people (for instance, this blog is titled “The Adventures of Dusky Panther” and I am Dusky Panther and this is my valuable opinion which you have decided to continue reading, possibly because you think I called Trayvon an asshole in the title of this post).

Because what do we know? For a while I didn’t really care to find out. I was in the thick of school when it happened and the only exposure I had to the story was the surrounding hype on twitter, some brief articles I read online and one of my professors voicing how she felt (very un-journalistically, I should add). My opinion up until recent was this- George Zimmerman is probably crazy, I don’t know why this happened, and this whole thing is very tragic.

For whatever reason, I recently spent a couple hours reading into the case, listening to a lot of audio recordings and reading eye-witness accounts, and as with everything else, the more I explored the less I felt I thought I knew about it. You begin to realize that this is a very complex situation in a really simple case, the makeup of a great story. Both Trayvon and Zimmerman are minorities in this country. They both probably would’ve voted for Obama in November, or more likely neither of them would’ve voted. Maybe they liked the same music. George Zimmerman likely doesn’t carry a pocket Constitution to wave his Second Amendment rights in people’s faces to explain why he has a Desert Eagle in a Burger King. Trayvon probably wasn’t in a gang or an excessively violent person. Stuff like that would make it easier for people to understand, but with this there is so much to misunderstand. It’s probably more about human fear and decision-making than hoodies and Skittles.

I volunteered for the recent Republican primary and was talking about the Trayvon case with a Richard Mourdock supporter who was also kind of crazy. He, like many, feel that the media is biased toward liberalism, choosing to ignore the violence done to Zimmerman and sympathize with Trayvon, who he described as a “thug.” He made it make sense to him, but hopefully you can see how that can be dangerous.

It’s not easy to side on this case without saying something about yourself first. That’s usually the case with hyped crimes like these. It’s easier when race becomes a part of it. It’s even easier when we live in a society where everyone shares the deep and flawed belief that racism is only seen in neo-Nazis and Bryce Dallas Howard in “The Help” rather than something practically everyone is a part of. This is so ingrained; I took a race class and the grad student teaching us had this point of view. She said race was nuanced, but presented it in a way that wasn’t nuanced at all. Learning history at a collegiate level in a frame of modern superiority is just an expensive and time-consuming way to masturbate. I’m probably racist. So are you. So was Abe Lincoln. I happen to think that’s ok so long as we work to make the world a nicer place to live in.

Consider what is now the poster image of Trayvon Martin. What can you really gather from it? What does it make you feel? Do you think those questions relate? If he took it for a profile pic because he wanted to appear nice, what does that say about our reading of it?

Let’s say Trayvon was an asshole. He would’ve hated us without cause. Let’s say this 17 year-old kid would’ve continued to beat this guy against the pavement, if that’s even what happened. While I may think that would warrant a punishment for assault rather than murder, I’m less confident I can answer that question with resolute confidence, even with the hypothetical assurance of what I don’t know. I merely have to entertain the possibility that it’s just that, and in this way I have it easy.

Though after considering everything I’ve learned, my precious opinion is this- I don’t know why this happened, this whole thing is very tragic, and these negotiable situations probably happen more than we care to think about.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

You Mean You've Never Seen... - Something Really Long and Uncalled For

This video essay is about how I spent a week watching movies I hadn't seen before but should have. Each of the post-mortems contains observations, jokes, observational jokes, and so on. I think the essays are designed to be enjoyed even if you haven't seen the movie I'm talking about, but I'm probably biased.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hank - An Essay About Living With Yourself

This actually isn’t going to be about Hank at all, nor even the documentary I made kind of about him. I think I made something that speaks for itself, for fucking once. Though, there were some other thoughts hovering around it that I decided to cut because they wouldn’t make sense and decided this is a better venue for them.

A part of growing up, and there are a lot of parts to it, involves the knowing of how little control you have of how other people feel happiness. It’s always worth trying and this isn’t to say that trying to do good for others does not yield happiness, because of course people make people happy all the time but of course happiness happens mostly within and not out and of course people are going to do what they do. Human relationships aren’t about getting lucky enough to find people who fit how you do happy perfectly. You don’t need a weatherman for these things, and I’m definitely not one. I don’t even own an umbrella.

Don’t read what I’m about to say in some sort of revelatory, bloggy raw sentimentality that does nothing but call pity and attention to myself- I used to be severely depressed- dangerously so. See, if I wanted to make this really weighty and dramatic, I’d’ve put it at the end after building up some narrative tension and some long-running sentences, but forget that right now. I don’t even think it makes me special. Everyone has a time like that. The point is I slept a lot and it’s a private part of my life that has gone away. I can hardly even recognize that time; I can only faintly remember how much it sucked. It’s a kind of emotional Huntington’s that’s as bad as an actual disease, a disease that makes you hate living with yourself, which we have no choice but to do all the time. Though from my experience, the suck doesn’t come from knowing too much, from having “too many thoughts,” as is so often dumbly put, but from tragically not internalizing some important things. Clinical illnesses completely aside, depressed people aren’t stupid for being upset, but they are annoying and selfish. This is about learning important things and not being annoying and selfish, but I’ll work from the outside in.

A huge thing I’ve learned from living with people is the kind of imperceptible and unsexy responsibility you have for other people. It’s strangely empowering to learn that you actually have some real meaning in someone’s life. It’s hard to put to words but you know it’s there. As obvious as this seems I don’t think we think about this unless we’re confronted with it (as with everything else). We aren’t confronted with it often because we’ve learned to exist without confrontation, tweeting merrily along in our word of God bubble. Sometimes when I’m studying in public I wonder how long I’ve gone without looking at another human being, and I wonder if this is how it used to be, or if even then everyone was hunched over their typewriters. I’ve said things to strangers and it’s as if I’ve burst their bubble, and it’s because I have. Yet at other times, I’ve found myself growing in such a bubble (we don’t have a choice not to grow) but not really developing. Bubbles are great for coasting and they’re pretty. Popping a bubble isn’t nearly as destructive as you may think. As I’ve been growing my way and watching others grow their way, I see some who’ve coasted so much that they can’t help but stop and wonder how they got here and why things aren’t different and how such a repulsive world did this to them. I think those people are going to be ok. It’s the ones who’re waiting five to ten more shitty undeveloped years to have this rueful and bitter thought that I’m worried about.

God do we suck sometimes, especially college kids. We measure human worth on a Kelvin scale of how much you rub your clothed, gullible penis on strangers in a loud and mean public space where you can only enjoy yourself if you’re appropriately fucked up. I don’t mean to say that it’s bad, but it is strange if you think about it (which is totally against the point, shut up nerd). It’s 3:50 in the morning and I just heard some drunken douchebag yell and a self-entitled bitch laughing way too loud in the street. They’re annoying me and I know nothing about them. I’ve been led to believe I’m asocial for thinking such things, but the truth is they’re annoying anyone who’s awake right now. I know people are awake around me, but I just don’t know where, and because of this I think I’m beginning to see some one of the great challenges of my generation, that there are those not all that far from us we could connect with rather easily but are somehow unable to. It’s kind of hard to be connected with all this connectivity.

Let’s not forget the first half of the battle- assholes. I don’t know how things so emotionally nourishing like love and faith can exist when you’re an asshole. Let’s simplify “asshole” and define it as a misinformed person who deludes his or herself into believing that the shit coming out of his or her mouth doesn’t stink. Delusion is possible and we’re caring about the wrong things all the time. It’s really not that hard to see why. Love and faith are pretty similar in that they’re about not caring about a lot of things while caring very much about something to an illogical end. The same is true of addiction, also rollerblading, also a lot of other stuff worth paying the precious currency of time and effort and attention. It’s the kind of things that are hard to put to words but you know are there. Still we try to put it to words, and love, and have faith, and grow addictions, and rollerblade (somewhere these brave people exist). There is something to be said for that, though I’m not sure what, but there’s an underlying interdependence to it. We, meaning I, have to accept the possibility that the something we’re, meaning I’m, caring very much about might be wrong, and that’s hard. Growing up is hard. I really should buy an umbrella. I’ve been told it’s gonna rain soon.

So many people hate the mundane of “everyday life,” a part of adult life I’m only beginning to learn exists. I’ve gathered it’s about learning to live with yourself, something we all do but aren’t saturated in yet. This part of life is inescapable, even for those who do nothing else but surrounding themselves with others. They were quite popular in high school.

While most of our moral choices change the way we live and think, I’d go as far to say they don’t really change how we carry about our day. It’s hard to approximate people when you get to know them, but it’s impossible in the language of noise that is everyday life. And yet, microcosmically beautiful things are happening here all the time, but noticing them requires a lot of patience, and empathy, and energy, and resourcefulness, and I honestly don’t really know the list.

Even though there’s a lot I don’t know, and won’t pretend to learn simply because I get older (those people are the worst), learning to live with yourself probably doesn’t get easier with just learning to live with it. So often people confuse living with yourself with petty boredom, and this is simply wrong.

Let’s consider that after a lot of work we reach a peace of mind and do a great job at living with ourselves. We even learn to healthily love ourselves from time to time. While this may change how we treat other people, maybe actually improving the lives of others, there will always be those who we’ll have no control how they do happy. They’ll misunderstand labored sentences you wrote for them and overlook those constructed metaphors and probably too-obvious allusions you laid out for them. They’re just not going to get it, and you’ve got to get that if you want to live with people. When I was damn near suicidal I sucked at living with myself because all I thought about was myself, about what I wanted and the myriad of things people weren’t doing to meet my bullshit standards. Knowing why this is annoying and selfish is learning how to live with people is learning how to live with yourself.

At least, this is a part of it.

I just remembered I have an umbrella in my car that I haven’t been using. BRB.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

To My Hypothetical Children

To Emma and Eric (subject to change),

I will forgive errant ways. I’ll likely encourage them if it’s all for the best.

While I have thought of you for quite some time, it has only occurred to me fairly recently that you may actually exist, and whether with the increasing knowledge of this I’ll think less about what I think about now and more about, I don’t know, car seats and baby formulas and what TV shows will make you a genius and other garbage like that. So I’m writing from now, 2012, while I’m a 20 year-old college sophomore becoming increasingly aware of his own ignorance. I fear this is going to get flowery, but it's crazy how much you end up teaching yourself the more reminders you leave behind. Maybe you guys’ll do stuff like this when you’re older, but believe me, I will by no means press you to blog. A few hundred views a week is not enough to live off of.

I’m afraid and aware that when I get older, I’m going to act like I know more than you, which 95% I will, because babies are dumb and I have a college education. I might even wave it above your crib, if provoked enough. However I’m afraid I’ll likely not see when you have a different perspective the other 5%. After all time moves on and I can’t be a cool person and a good father. It’s just something parents do, so I think it’d be dope to talk to you the only time I’m not that. Plus, there’s a lot I struggle with with people right now. There are those who hate me, I hate, and those I feel so much love for I struggle finding an appropriate venue to express it (it’s often here, with words).

This isn’t to say that this is my guide to life, because if this is didactic and inappropriately wishful, then I will be a terrible father, the type of father who is calling you at 9 pm to get home from the roller rink because I’ve watched the news reports and I know the crowd that Jenny hangs around with and I KNOW her joke of a mother isn’t doing anything about the matter. Psh, parents are pretty LAME-O. Cowabunga.

A single tulip. It is difficult to suggest to others to care about things, especially in a time when caring is positively correlated with knowing how much things suck. It requires a certain faith, a believing in one thing with all knowledge pointing towards the opposite. With this said, you’ve got to believe in people. Or else you’re totally boned. It’s only then can you care about anything else. I’m taking a class right now that’s essentially about my cynical generation, about how we’re too afraid to engage with anything so we distance ourselves with reservation and condemnation and satire. When it comes to others, they’re not all that different from you when it comes to needs and desires. They deserve the amount of respect you give yourself, even if you disagree with the manner of which they pursue. They’re gonna smoke pot and fuck around and expect what they don’t deserve and lie and cheat and get wasted and reject critical thought more than you will. You will expect too much of them and they will hurt you, but you need them and you’ve got to be kind, you’ve got to care, and you’ve got to know how different those are from one another. It takes constant pain and work and reminders, but it makes life better. I’ve got to believe that love and respect makes life better. Keeping in mind there will be those who will never like you no matter what you do. I guarantee that you will not have the sperm count to fuck all the haters. If you meet someone new don’t don’t don’t mistake them for being perfect. That’s a setup for disappointment and hatred. People lie more in the middle of goodness than we want to let ourselves believe. "Hatred never ceases by hatred in this world. By love alone it ceases; this is eternal law." It’s not that you kill people with kindness. You murder them in the first degree with no damn witnesses. Do you want to go to jail?

A couple roses. Build schemas through deductive reasoning. What I mean by this is to create models in a complex reality in order to describe relationships between objects. I’m being abstract on purpose. Thinking like that helps you understand the concrete and not enough people do it.

I should stress that while this is preachy and about life, this isn’t my preachy guide to life. These are things I think about and struggle with every damn day. I can’t stress enough how much of a moron I am. I suck at the following things- baking, science, keeping my mind right, running, making art, handwriting, jealousy, crossword puzzles, sports, dancing, maturity, flirting (something that could prove problematic as far as you existing), reading, letting go, self-efficacy, and there are others, but this is getting sad and I’m supposed to be a superhero figure of sorts. The point is I’m working at it. While there are plenty who are, there are those my age who aren’t and you can tell if you’re looking. Most things aren’t that hard to see if you are. I want to be a good person so that I can be there for you, because compassion always ends up being about being there, and it takes a lot of living to learn what that even means, living that I haven’t done yet. While it is likely that you will face what I have a hard time with, know that you are not alone, that I was a person who is not all that different from you, and that I love you intensely despite the fact that you are presently products of my projections. What I know is that life is the guide to being a good person, and it’s entirely up to you if you choose to read it. I have a feeling you will.

I’ve spent half of my life wallowing in love with the idea that we can create something that myself and others will be able to continually learn from, look up to, live from, and I intend to remain stumbling. There’s something clumsy about faith, and I can only hope you’ll have the sight to fully appreciate the hopelessness of it, to flail your arms rhythmically and move your feet without regard for proper and appropriate directionality over what is certain is stagnant, uninterested, despondent, erringly concordant, merely correlative, tentative and seemingly small. I’d much rather the act of getting there to be a surprise than an accident. I will always be in love, but I fail to find reason why that should be a sad thing. I will watch you watch it grow. Bouquets of flowers.

-Brandon Walsh