imagrownup

by @kelsocks

Category Archives: Art & Entertainment

Keeping Up With Things Is Hard!

Consistency is a real bitch to master. I was supposed to be keeping up with this blog to prove my ability to keep up with anything, but it fell by the wayside as more pressing concerns took center stage like trying to feed myself and maintain personal relationships and a healthy lifestyle and a cat and pursue comedic endeavors….

There’s just too many goddamn things to do in the world and I want to do them all. The scatter-brained nature of this blog is a testament to my mildly ADD curiosity. This is to say I’m going to start branching out with content. I like my previous writing style, but its not all I want to do so fuck it. Here goes whatevsville.

Kicking off the new style is this dumb drawring I made today. Boom.

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Number 40 (or 40 Lessons In 40 Posts)

In celebration of my 40th disjointed post, here’s a disjointed list of 40 things I’ve learned since starting this blog (the author recommends enjoying while drinking a 40):

40- I’m going to die sooner or later so I need to hurry up and do all the awesome stuff I’ve ever wanted to do. 

39- Being physically fit will make you happier, and the inverse is just as true.   Luckily, exercise is an antidepressant that will fix part of the problem instead of just treating the symptoms.

38- Quinoa is as delicious as it is difficult to pronounce: Very.

37- Humankind is inherently good.  At least based on how everyone rushes to make way for ambulances.

36- Humankind is inherently evil.  I forgot it’s against the law to obstruct emergency vehicles, so people have to move whether they want to or not.

35- Humankind is hard to figure out.  Fuck it.

34- Making memories is widely underrated. Did making two costumes and driving 8 hours to a music fest for Halloween weekend substantially complicate my life and require a great deal of time, energy, and money to execute? Yes. Was it fun as fuck? Definitely. Studies have shown that the happiest people are those who purchase experiences instead of things, so go do stuff.

33- Those Sally Hansen stick-on nail polish strips are awesome.  They should invent a way to create custom designs. Maybe sell blank sheets of polish that people can decorate and peel off..? I don’t know, I’m just spitballing here but someone should get on this.

32- I’ll miss being forced to read books I wouldn’t normally encounter. Por ejemplo, Joseph Conrad is a pain in the ass to read but brilliant when it comes to using language and exploring existential crises and moral dilemmas.

31-  Cities are beautiful, dazzlingly complex embodiments of the best and worst of man’s accomplishments. And living in them is fun.

30- Find people you can be yourself around.  It makes everything easier.

29- Weird kids turn into awesome adults. They also have hilarious weird kid anecdotes.

28- You can gain a lot from spending time with people different than you. Like, for realz.

27- Skydiving is awesome. Do it.

26-Institutions of higher education just want your money, but you can still have a valuable learning experience if you take advantage of the opportunity.

25- Almost everyone is lonely.  Some are better at hiding it than others, and some don’t think about it because they’ve filled their time with enough people and things to distract, but everyone wants to feel connected.

24- My joints are feeble as shit, and dealing with athletic injuries is really annoying so use good form, y’all.

23- Throwing ice cream is fun. Fact.

22- Everyone deludes themselves from reality in some capacity. Whether it’s justifying past decisions, rationalizing present circumstances, only seeing what you want to see in others, self-medicating, or self-theologizing, most people prefer their own version of things to the truth.

21- Consistently generating content is hard. 

20- I need to find a reasonable income if I’m ever going to afford that great white shark cage diving trip.

19- It is important to know when to hold and/or fold ’em.  A few little risks here and there in the name of fun is one thing, but actual danger is not worth the consequences. Shark dives don’t count, they’re mostly safe, although honestly if I’m going to die I wouldn’t mind getting eaten by a shark.

18-Lachrymose is a good word.  It means tear-inducing/weepy, FYI.

17-If everyone is cool, no one is cool.  Being hip is a mass produced cultural trend, so basically everyone is average. Which is redundant.

16- There are artificial estrogen-mimicking chemicals in air fresheners.  [source] Probably to keep women in constant nesting mode buying products like more air fresheners…

15-Routines are incredibly efficient. Not having a routine is the opposite of that.

14- Nobody’s business is anybody’s business. 

13- Our generation didn’t create the fucked up world we’re inheriting, but it’s still our responsibility to make it better.

12- If hell exists, it’s probably run by towing companies.

11- Dancing is undervalued. 

10- A lot of people seem okay floating from one societal threshold to the next without worrying about why they’re doing what they’re doing.  You can get a lot out of self-reflection and evaluating your motivations.

9- Balance is the key to just about everything.  Yin and Yang had that shit down.

8- Thinking up 40 things I’ve learned recently is harder than I expected. And most of this shit sounds like clichés. But clichés are clichés for a reason so…

7- Water your friendship plants regularly.  Some are delicate violets and others are durable cacti, but it’s important to take care of them.

6- Putting creative work on display is an embarrassing but necessary evil.  I hate rereading old posts but fear of embarrassment is a too common roadblock to creation. Everybody sucks at first, you just have to keep going.

5- The War of Art is an incredibly useful book. Everyone, especially creative types, should read it.

4- Laughing is the best. More, please.

3- We naturally gravitate toward the things and people we need in order to grow. Just like plants!

2-Better to look like an idiot trying something new than to never try anything.

1- Settling is for suckers. Don’t do it!

Lessons From The Missing Piece

Shel Silverstein is one of my all time favorite children’s authors.  His absurd wit, childlike illustrations, use of language, and deep philosophical themes combine in several timeless stories and poems that are still relevant to adults. A fantastic example is the story The Missing Piece Meets the Big O.  I wrote a paper about this book for one of my first college English courses, so the following is essentially a paraphrase of that paper.

In case you forgot (or haven’t read it), The Missing Piece Meets the Big O is about a wedge-shaped character called the Missing Piece who is looking for its corresponding shape it imagines has a void the exact size of itself where it can fit in.  The first line reads, “The missing piece sat alone… waiting for someone to come along and take it somewhere.” Over the course of the story, it roams around looking for the perfect match with the right size hole to fill. It joins up with one piece, but soon outgrows it. Several failed attempts to find a match later, the Piece meets the Big O who has the ability to roll around on its own.  The Big O rejects the Missing Piece who becomes inspired to try rolling alone, too. After a while, The Missing Piece flops and rolls until its edges wear down and it becomes round like a circle.  Only then is it able to reunite with the Big O so the two wholes can happily roll along side each other.

By now, the true meaning of The Missing Piece Meets the Big O should be obvious to adults (and honestly probably impossible for a child to comprehend).  It’s about growing out of the naïve view of love as the coming together of two soul mates like puzzle pieces who compensate for each other’s voids.  At the beginning of the story the Missing Piece is lonely and thinks he needs to fill the void in another person who will “take it places.”  Through its journey we see several archetypal relationship situations: the couple that grows out of each other, the pairs that are simply bad fits, attempts by the Missing Piece to make himself more attractive to a mate, those with too many pieces missing (too many emotional voids to fill), or those that “didn’t know a thing about fitting” aka how to have a meaningful relationship.

The allegory demonstrates how we must be whole before we can be happy and sustain healthy relationships.  It’s our own responsibility to take ourselves places instead of relying on someone else to do it for us or fix us.  Otherwise, when we fill our voids with each other, we make our happiness dependent on them and often fall into the trap of codependence.  Codependent relationships are unhealthy (with the exception of parent-child relationships) because they’re based on need, not want nor choice.  Two people grow so entwined in each other’s existence until the thought of separation is too painful, yet neither is happy or whole because they’re sustaining themselves off each other– draining the life out of one another. It becomes a situation where they are together because they need to be because the alternative is unpleasant, not because they want to be.  As soon as one party no longer needs whatever the other was providing– be it companionship, sex, money, transportation, or whatever– the codependent relationship falls apart.  The Missing Piece should be a reminder to us all: to be happy with another person we must first be happy with ourselves.

Workout DVDs, How I Love Thee

Let me begin by saying I spent the first 19 years of my life avoiding any kind of exercise.  Then, as with most of us, as I grew up my metabolism slowed down so I began to take fitness more seriously.  Spurts of athletic enthusiasm and periods of guilty procrastination punctuated the first several months of my attempt to get in shape.  This was my basic strategy: 2-4 days a week begrudgingly attempt jogging or one of my mother’s outdated workout tapes. Then, feeling a false sense of accomplish having gone through the motions of working out, overeat and destroy any potential benefit I may have had from exercise.  Needless to say I wasn’t getting the kind of results I wanted.  I had no idea what it took to be committed to a healthy lifestyle.

Then, as cheesy as it sounds (I hate the fact I’m about to publish this– I sound like a fucking infomercial), I came across a workout series that changed my life. I received Tony Horton’s P90X as a gift (shoutout to Rocks).  I’d seen the infomercial late at night and was intrigued by the straightforward, no shortcuts, results-based approach to fitness.  Unlike so many frivolous As-Seen-On-TV products promising unbelievable results, Horton’s attitude of was different. He didn’t try to sugarcoat the amount of work it takes to get fit.  Soon after consistently integrating P90X workouts into my routine, I started seeing the results that have since kept me motivated for the long term.

For the past four years I’ve kept it tight using at-home workout DVD series like P90X, Slim in 6, TurboFire, Chalene Extreme, and Insanity, and I can’t praise them enough.

Here are 5 reasons why DVD workouts are great:

1) Privacy.  These workouts are fantastic for the socially retarded, gym-shy, and the self-conscious because you can do them in the privacy of your own home.  Most of these workouts require little equipment (weights or bands and a yoga mat will suffice) and a minimum of about 5×8 square feet of floor space.  For the past two years my gym has been a square of carpet next to my bed.  It’s not fancy but it works (and it’s free).  You also don’t need to worry about looking gross or stupid so you can more fully concentrate on what your body is doing.

2) Engagement.  With so much competing for our attention these days, one roadblock to fitness can be having to disconnect from the world to focus on physical activity.  These videos help curb athletic A.D.D. by grabbing your attention in much the same way any other TV show does– dialogue, music, quick cuts, catchphrases– all there to keep you engaged in your fitness.  I can’t speak for everyone, but if I try sitting in a quiet room to count off squats or crunches by myself, I always magically end up sitting back at my computer fucking around on the internet, so it’s extremely helpful to have cues provided by an instructor.

3) Accountability. Part of why these DVDs have so many success stories is because they create a sense of accountability towards oneself and the program that will keep you coming back each day until it’s a fully integrated habit. Not only do they provide calendar style workout plans, but the fitness gurus will keep you motivated toward consistency.  They’re charismatic, positive, educational, and inspirational (although not everyone will like every instructor’s personality– it’s important to find someone you can stand listening to for an hour a day).

4) Thoroughness & Versatility.  A lot of people get going with fitness but poop out from boredom when they hit a plateau. Sometimes this is because we get in the habit of only working on the things we know we’re already good at (Runners only running, weight lifters only lifting, yogis only yogiing, etc.) because we feel confident in those areas.  It’s an easy trap, but we can only improve if we get out of our comfort zones.  That’s easy to forget if you’ve been active for a while because when you do the same thing over and over, you get so good that you can’t remember what it feels like to struggle.  These DVD workouts involve an array of activities to keep the body challenged (cardio, strength, martial arts, dance, yoga, plyometrics, interval training…) as well as tips on how to intensify each workout to challenge you as you progress, thus warding off dreaded plateaus.

5) Education.  Finally, and perhaps the most important key to long term success, is how these programs attempt to educate viewers so they have the tools to make healthy decisions on their own.  Being healthy is a 24 hour job, so that’s 23 hours away from our instructors that we are free to sabotage their good influence.  I’ve found that these programs not only provided useful information (by way of the literature included with the DVDs as well as the tips given throughout each video), but they also catalyzed a desire to learn more on my own.  I’ve since taken fitness and nutrition classes and read up on the subject on my own.   It is only by getting educated on health and fitness that you can learn how to make smart decisions by yourself.

These are a few of the main reasons I love workout DVDs.  Having said all this, it’s important to remember the following:  First, check reviews of workouts.  Obviously the more success stories there are the more likely it works (or maybe it just has great marketing…).  I’m particularly biased in favor of Beachbodys programs because of my own success with them.  Of course if you do any fitness consistently you’ll see results, so no one “needs” these series per say, but they are helpful.  Secondly, don’t forget about the great outdoors!  It’s good to mix up your routine by getting active in actual sunlight doing real things– running, biking, hiking, rock climbing, swimming, whatever.  Sprinkling in these fun activities will help keep you on track with a healthy lifestyle. There are also some things you simply can’t do in your living room, like improving your distance run, so don’t forget to take to the streets.

I hope this has been the slightest bit helpful to someone.  After all, fitness not only improves your physical well being, but also your mental health.  It reduces stress and builds confidence, so get moving!

Freedom of Speech in Comedy

Why do we laugh at such terrible things? Because comedy is often the sarcastic realization of inescapable tragedy.

-Bryant H. McGill

As the purpose of comedy is to correct the vices of men, I see no reason why anyone should be exempt.

-Moliere

Rhetoric does not get you anywhere, because Hitler and Mussolini are just as good at rhetoric. But if you can bring these people down with comedy, they stand no chance.

-Mel Brooks

Recently I heard someone say flat out that there were at least two subjects they would never make a joke about.  My gut reaction was a suppressed eye roll followed by disappointment that this individual couldn’t understand how comedy is a healthy way of confronting the worst parts of existence.  If we can’t talk about these things in the pleasurable medium of humor, how much harder will it be to talk about them coldly and seriously?  Laughter helps us cope with tragedy. Have you ever seen someone so furious, crestfallen, or full of despair that all they could do is laugh at their situation? It releases tension and brings us back from the edge (serotonin or whatever).

As I mentioned in my post I Fucking Love Cursing, I believe that when we designate certain words, or in this case subjects, as off-limits and unmentionable, we cede them control over us.  If we’re afraid to talk about them, then these concepts have the power to hurt us.  That’s why Harry Potter doesn’t pussyfoot around like the rest of the wizarding world by allowing the taboo of Lord Voldemort’s name frighten him. Adoy! Furthermore, the more taboo a subject is, like say erectile dysfunction or girls pooping or (ready?) abortion, the more shame is experienced by those whose lives are affected by those subjects.  Another example is how shame-based religions that refuse to address sex in an honest, healthy way can create sexually dysfunctional individuals that are afraid of the subject (That’s probably the point, but I digress…).

Comedy is not only indisputably intertwined with tragedy (there’s about ten million BrainyQuotes on the subject), but it’s also sewn into the fabric of truth.  There are different reasons things can be funny, but one thing for sure is that we like relating to jokes.  How many times do we basically think “that’s so true!” in reaction to a good comedian?   We like it when they talk about things relevant to our lives, and sometimes there’s a lot of terribleness in people’s lives– so why ignore the truth? We also use jokes as a way to say what we really think under a the guise insincerity.  Just think of the ol’ sassy-remark-followed-by-“just kidding.”

The primary requisite for comedy is observation.  Comedians look at the world and point out the (many) ridiculous things about it which can be a huge benefit to society if it inspires them to think differently or if it gives a voice to the voiceless. Names that come to mind are Bill Hicks, David Cross, Louis CK, Tina Fey, Dave Chapelle, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Rob McElhenney and the Always Sunny writers, and a shitload of Saturday Night Live.  They can reach people and make them think about issues because when we’re relaxed and enjoying ourselves we’re more willing to hear an opposing viewpoint than if we were being sternly debated.  Humor helps people lower their guards and open their minds.  It can make a huge difference; just consider how SNL’s portrayal of Sarah Palin affected the entire 2008 election.

Consider the welfare state.

In sum, comedians should be able to talk about whatever the hell they want with one stipulation: it should be funny.  I realize what’s funny is subjective, but the goal should be to amuse, not to hurt.  No flat-out-meanness or irate rants without a sense of playfulness.  My dad once told me a quote and although I have no idea where it’s from (and Google isn’t helping), I think it nails down this issue completely: “The only joke that’s in bad taste is the one that isn’t funny.”

Humor As Your Worldview

Humor is the affectionate communication of insight.

-Leo Rosten

Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven.

-Mark Twain

Comedy has to be based on truth. You take the truth and you put a little curlicue at the end.

-Sid Caesar

I think comedy is about empathy.  I can’t laugh with people I don’t like.

-Ricky Gervais

Do you think this is funny? If you do, you'd probably have a few things to talk about with anyone else who finds it funny too (hint: not this gal). Side note: how did Christopher Lloyd get tangled up in this mess?

Ever notice how the people you laugh with the most tend to be the people you have the most in common with?  Our sense of humor stems from how we view the world– our values, beliefs, assumptions, culture… pretty much everything. It’s also a lens through which we see that world.  When we laugh, we acknowledge the same perspective on an issue or observation.  Humor can bond us together.

Because there are so many different kinds of people, not everyone finds the same things funny.  The more personally specific a joke is, the narrower its appeal. But how rewarding is it when we encounter someone else who finds the same obscure thing amusing? That’s basically the definition of an inside joke.  Think of all the inside jokes you have with your siblings and closest friends. For me it’s one of the most rewarding kinds of personal connection.  I know that when I reference Jiggy Nye, Merrylegs or Ken V., there’s only a handful of people in this world who will know what I’m talking about, and that makes it special.

But beyond the concept of inside jokes which stem from overlapping experience, when people find the same thing funny (for the same reasons) it means that everyone involved has the same framework of perceptions/evaluations/knowledge about the world (or at least finds them reasonable and/or relatable).  Consider the Ricky Gervais quote from above.  If comedy is about empathy, that necessarily means comedy is about “the ability to understand and share feelings with another.” The common ground is necessary for the joke to appeal to a group.  This is why some people are offended by certain jokes: because they don’t agree with the principles behind it, they can’t allow themselves to empathize with the humorist’s perspective, ergo they don’t find it funny.  Because of this, sense of humor can be an excellent barometer of how much you have in common with another person.

Consider a scene from season five of 30 Rock.  Surprised to hear Liz plans on breaking up with her longterm boyfriend Carol, Jack exclaims, “You two seemed so happy. The other day I saw you in the lobby laughing together..” to which she explains, “A guy on crutches bit it in the revolving door and he was so scared…” The primary characteristic of Liz and Carol’s relationship is that they’re extremely similar, hence why they laugh at the same things even if it is a bit cruel.

This leads me to my next topic: a dark sense of humor. I know I have it, and most of the company I keep has it. Some of the best comedians have it, too.  But unfortunately I see a lot of people confuse this brand of comedy with just being negative.  If a sense of humor is a manifestation of a person’s worldview, then a dark sense of humor which confronts the undeniable and abundant darkness in the world is the most in touch with reality.  According to the most reliable source on the internet, Wikipedia, black humor is an offshoot of “gallows humor.” Gallows humor is defined as:

 …the type of humor that still manages to be funny in the face of, and in response to, a perfectly hopeless situation. It arises from stressful, traumatic, or life-threatening situations, often in circumstances such that death is perceived as impending and unavoidable. (source)

Thus, it seems that a dark sense of humor follows from the acknowledgment and acceptance of the uncontrollable things in life i.e. our own mortality.  Personally I think that’s beautiful, and I’ll be laughing at my own decaying body all the way to the grave.

Aside:

Black humor is also a great genre of film/TV.  For excellent examples, see stuff by the Coen brothers, Wes Anderson, Tarantino, Simon Pegg/Nick Frost collaborations, I ❤ Huckabees, Beetlejuice, Trainspotting, Dr. Strangelove, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Little Miss Sunshine, and lotsmore.

bonus:

http://www.hulu.com/embed/sy9JKpz0JBjsuVfox0bvjQ

Dr. Dog @ Stubb’s 2011 (photos)

This past year Dr. Dog played Stubb’s and it was a helluva good time. They’re coming back around this spring, so in anticipation of what will no doubt be a great show, here are some live photos I took last time.

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So What Shitty Music Do You Like?

Understanding another person’s music taste is a great way to get to know them, but a while ago I had a conversation with a young man who only listed legends like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Hendrix, and Joplin as his favorite artists.  I realized you can’t actually tell much about someone based on these bands because pretty much everyone likes them.   Most people (self included) list universally-considered “greats” among their favorites as a reflection of their own taste, but these artists are already so revered that it would be more abnormal to not like them.  Therefore, I hypothesize that you can tell more about a person based on the unpopular music they like.

We all have a few albums that, despite lingering forever in our iTunes catalogue, we won’t play around other people (or maybe just around those who know us best).  Whether weird, obscure or “uncool,” it’s in these songs where personality forms.  The act of holding onto them despite not sharing says, “I know most people don’t value this, but I do.”  When there’s no prestige associated with liking something (like how it’s cool to be into bands from the 70’s), you can be sure someone is a fan purely because they enjoy it and not because they think they’re supposed to like something since everyone else does.  So what do your guilty pleasures say about you?

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“THANKS, INTERNET!” -Cats

Some things in this world go together so well it’s a wonder they were ever considered separately. One of these timeless couplings is a personal favorite: Cats and the Internet.

Corollary to the rising popularity of the internet has been the rising popularity of public cat fanaticism.  I argue that this is because the internet has allowed the mass proliferation of positive portrayals of cats. Prior to this phenomenon, cats in pop culture were treated with neutral and often negative attitudes. In mainstream cartoons, cats have historically been manipulators, troublemakers, sneaks, and bullies who pray on innocent birds and mice and cause harm to nobel canines (see: Lady & The Tramp, Sylvester, Tom & Jerry, etc.).

Now cats are all over the place, and internet culture thrives on cats. It’s practically a hipster thing now. Just see any of the following gems:

I Can Has Cheezburger
Maru
Cats For Gold
Cash Cats

How can we explain this sudden shift in popularity? Consider the difference between “cat people” and “dog people.” Generally speaking, and this is definitely generalizing like a mofo, cat people (and cats for that matter) are associated with introverted qualities, while dogs and dog people are more extraverted [source].  While neither is superior, it is much easier to get friendly with extraverted types than the introverts who require more time and personal interaction to become comfortable with.  Therefore, it’s easier to quickly and positively evaluate dogs/dog people than cats/cat people.  But because of the internet (via silly videos and adorable memes), people have seen a side of cats they may not have known otherwise.

Do I sound like I’m full of shit? Well, psychology research on the effects of the Internet have shown that it does help shy, inhibited children socialize more effectively, so there is substance to an argument proclaiming the positive effects of the internet on socially retarded people/animals. Boom. [source]

Most of the time when you hear someone explain why they don’t like cats, their list has one or more of the following reasons: “they’re mean,” “they don’t do what they’re told,” or “had a bad experience.” To be fair, the exact same descriptors could be used about people.  Luckily we know that cats, like people, can also be playful, loyal, and even consoling:

So, as a cat person and a socially retarded person (the line is blurry), I’d like to thank the internet on behalf of cats for boosting their social acceptance.

5 Favorite Obscure Old Video Games

5. Sewer Shark

You probably don’t remember this trash heap because Sega CD was not the international sensation manufacturer’s had hoped it would be.  This first person shooter takes you on a futuristic journey beneath the streets in one endless tube.  Your job is to blast various crawly creatures inbetween unreasonably long cut-scenes. I don’t think I ever got past the first two levels.   To be honest, this game was garbage but I still count it as a “favorite” just because of how hard we forced ourselves to enjoy it.

4. Day of the Tentacle

Back in the 90’s, CD-ROM games were all the rage (or at least that’s the generalization I’m making based on my own experience).  LucasArts was one of the most prolific creators of computer games, many of which could have made this list.  However, I chose Day of the Tentacle for it’s emphasis on investigation/creative problem solving, as well as it’s twisted animation and age-inappropriate humor.

3. Yipe

This little action adventure game was chalk full of imaginary beasts, hidden features, and wacky sound effects. And it was addicting to boot.  Luckily it’s still available and you can even get it on your iPhone now.  Hint: I recommend starting with an intelligence or magic-based character.

2. Blasto

This classic PlayStation platformer stars macho space explorer Blasto, voiced by the legendary Phil Hartman, on a quest to save the galaxy (and some hot babes in the processes).  The game is worth playing for Hartman’s comments alone, but it also doesn’t hurt that the gameplay is an engaging mix of puzzles and action set in fantastical environments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Starship Titanic

An adventure game that takes place in a futuristic luxury spaceship created by Douglas Adams and voiced by various Monty Python cast members that allows you to get sassy with robots? Yes.