Archive for June, 2010

8:14 (40)

Posted in eight fourteen, emo on June 30, 2010 by darryl zero

Of all the things I was mortified I’d lost during my three-year odyssey of dating Erin, that which I feared most was the complete loss of my ability to write. The things I’d write (publicly and otherwise) had begun to take on a level of understanding and wonder that I’d sought since the second I first wielded a pen. In retrospect, I realize before I met Erin, I was in a similar place I was now; unfocused, unmotivated, completely disinterested in life, with no grasp of anything other than the beauty of different moments and a need to capture them in words before they slipped from my unreliable and clumsy memory. I’d been damaged by a woman, of course, but that was just the ending of a stretch of time I’ve yet to take the time to adequately name; really, it was simply the absolute finish to my post-graduate idleness that stretched far, far too long.

Naturally, I was unaware of this at the time; in fact, as the idyllic fantasy of Erin gave way to a grimmer, far more reliably stagnant reality, I even tried to link the relationship I struggled through to everything else. Denying myself blogging proved to be more disastrous than it was helpful; without the structural limitation of knowing people would have access to my thoughts, I found it difficult to string together anything. And yes, I guess it’s a sign of weakness, knowing I always have a conscious metaphorical (if not metaphysical) eye toward an audience; still, what is the proverbial unexamined life but a series of lost opportunities?

[Time’s up, but I’m going to continue:]

I essentially quit writing for a while, beginning when Erin found my livejournal; I tried to use paper journals, of course, an experiment that proved to be as disastrous as it was completely unfulfilling. Again, looking back on it now, the reason was simple; I thrive in restriction, and cannot go in any direction in which there isn’t some potent opposing force, but at the time I worried that I’d permanently lost something I valued, if only because it provided me with insight into things that could potentially save me from my cyclical descent into nothingness. I know that sounds melodramatic, but I mean that in as abstract a way as I can: having denied myself my ability to create on my own terms completely hamstrung my ability to do anything else. Instead, I did nothing. The moments in which I did allow myself creative expression were somewhat fruitful (particularly “Kyle Orton,” a rock instrumental piece constituting the first time in years I’d been able to communicate my frustration and sadness to a degree at which I felt as if I were actually representing myself as an artist), but they inevitably led to stalled efforts and ideas frozen in space.

I wrote “Mirabella” shortly after I left Erin. It was one of the rare nights in which Alcoholic Stripper Ex actually managed to put herself in physical proximity to me (a rare occasion); as luck would have it, Erin appeared outside my doorstep an hour later, banging on my door and forcing AlcStrEx and me into my bedroom for peace and quiet, at least enough to dissuade her from pestering me anymore. Unsure of what to do, we talked aimlessly for an hour until Erin finally decided to go home. The only other thing about that night I fully remember is picking AlcStrEx up, testing my newfound strength (I was about a year into my first workout routine and was marveling at the things I could do I hadn’t been able to before). I don’t remember if it was later that night or some other day, but I do remember having a vocal melody in my head and, picking up my Telecaster, plugging it into my Roland Blues Cube and RAT, cranking the fucker up and thinking “I’m writing a Kurt Cobain riff.” The only words I could think of were “‘I feel alone today,’ she said.” I played the first verse while freestyling other things over it, until I stopped and thought about Erin’s and my first date, which was at the same place AlcStrEx and I had gone for our first date. I then remembered the weirdness of the night, and how all of it reminded me of the first girl I’d ever fallen in love with. I sat down and wrote all three verses with the guitar still around my shoulder, amp buzzing in my darkened apartment, before backtracking and writing a chorus criticizing my own penchant for repeating my mistakes by name-dropping the first song I’d ever written (“What Happens To Everything”).

It took me a long time before I could really get the rest of my writing interests back; it would be two more years before I’d next complete a short story, and even more before I’d properly started to blog again, something I’d struggle to find the time to do until I forced myself to do these fucking exercises.

god, is it still part of the exercise if I can’t adhere to the timeframe?

fuck it; it’s meant to stimulate my brain in a way that doesn’t involve me fantasizing about things that can’t ever happen.

Which, of course, is a promising sign; my writing exercise is forcing me to be concretely contemplative again. Ponderous with purpose, if you will.

I just wish I didn’t have to dig so deeply to feel passionate about anything.

Funny, how things reveal themselves to you.

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8:14 (39)

Posted in eight fourteen on June 29, 2010 by darryl zero

I’ve never been a big fan of the beat writers, Hunter S. Thompson, Charles Bukowski, or most of the other writers favored by those who exist on the same side of society I find myself. Never really got into the idea of people getting thoroughly fucked up on any given pharmaceutical, regurgitating nonsense on a page and, once they’d looked back on it and decided it had some meaning, went on to extrapolate from that arbitrary meaning some grand insight into humanity. It’s not necessarily that I dislike the writing, per se (well, it’s mostly true in Bukowski’s case), but it’s more I don’t know how people can trust themselves if they can only find artistic inspiration when under the influence of something–and, even if that’s the case, I find blatant broadcasting of that message to cheapen the underlying meaning of the work.

I suppose that makes me a bad 30-something (I don’t care if I still have six weeks before I hit that milestone, I’M CALLIN’ MYSELF 30-SOMETHING IF I FUCKING WANT TO), but it’s true. I look at the different images of excess I see in my various incarnations, particularly through the arts, and I try desperately to figure out what people see in these things that makes them so significant or revealing. I’ll parrot until my dying day that Jhumpa Lahiri says more in her examination of people living “real” lives than Thompson ever did in his hallucinogenic fantasies. I can understand what makes people fear real life (gods know I’m mortified of it), but I likewise can’t understand why people can’t do something like pet a dog, or build something, or stand under an umbrella while rain and wind pour all around you and not feel that deep vibration that comes with everything else that just plain feels right. I don’t know what any chemical would do that would reveal more than that.

But maybe I’m just saying that because I’ve never touched the shit.

Time’s up.

shit.

Posted in Uncategorized on June 28, 2010 by darryl zero

A word of warning: those with fragile stomachs, an aversion to frank discussions of bodily functions, or the propensity to say “T.M.I.” will probably want to avoid this entry. I’ll give you until the next sentence to stop reading:

“It was less-akin to awakening, Reykjavik decided, than it was to understanding, a gradual acceptance of the passage of time from then-to-now, sleep-to-awake, night-to-day (or vice-versa) and the subsequent modification of behavior to reflect that which is appropriate.”

Still there?

Okay—

I defecate at least once daily, not necessarily because I have to. I force the issue sometimes, largely because I want to create a semblance of regularity for when my body starts to break down worse than it already has. Also (and, perhaps, more importantly), like my father, I’ve discovered the only place a man can truly find any peace and quiet is when he’s taking a shit.

I first learned the importance of a good dump at the age of four. I grappled with constipation issues for a while around that time period, during which my mother fed me milk of magnesia just often enough for me to come to hate the very sight of the bottle. At the time, I thought it was a game, until one fateful night in which I painfully had to poop, but couldn’t. My father earned one of many parenting gold stars that night, and I decided to be proactive about my regularity from then on.

Probably my first milestone relative to pooping was when I discovered masturbation; realizing privacy was essential to my achieving what was, at the time, the most interesting spectacle of my existence, I made sure to maintain a regular pooping schedule. So it continued into my late teens, when, at college, I staked out the perfect toilets on campus—my homes away from home, if you will.

By the time I hit my twenties, I had been living with a longterm girlfriend for a while, and I realized I couldn’t stand one type of woman: she who was apprehensive about feces. The woman that couldn’t stand all things intestinal was usually riddled with likewise insecurities about the rest of her body, or anyone else’s—needless to say, someone I couldn’t live with. Maybe it’s the sort of thing that triggers my instinctive “can I procreate with this lady?” reflex, I don’t know—but a woman that fears shit can never truly have the Darryl. (Hysterically, the one woman I’ve met who not only did not fear shit, but also didn’t fear childbirth, or metal, or poverty, did fear the idea of being with me. I guess you can’t have everything.)

These days, I’ve found my regularity to be so important, it usually coincides with moments of extreme artistic inspiration. After years of only getting good ideas while in the bathroom, having access to both laptop computers and even smaller handheld devices with word processing programs had enabled me to take advantage of my toilet inspirations and make them reality. I suppose that does cross a line, the one that says “does one really need such immediate access to information?” to which I can only offer this REO Speedealer quote in reply:

“Shit yeah, Johnny.”

8:14 (38)

Posted in eight fourteen, music, nerdiness on June 26, 2010 by darryl zero

I feel bad about saying this, particularly given the context in which I’ve met some people who have access to this page, but there is precious little that occurs on a karaoke stage that genuinely impresses me.

I know, it makes me sound like of of those “clearly you have issues, because why else would you be here?” kind of musician-douches (you know, the ones you usually find behind the counter at any Pacific Northwest/Liberal Arts College Town record store or behind the bar at any Southeast Portland hipster hangout), but it’s true. I’ve hashed it out a few times before, but it warrants mention again: I patronize karaoke spots not because I’m there to be astounded by vocal performances, or even because I enjoy the attention that invariably comes when I sing. I go there because I like to see people enjoy the visceral act of making music, even if it’s not their music they’re making.

Even if it weren’t a philosophical bone-of-contention for me, I’d still consider it worth mention because I’ve made money in and around karaoke for the better part of seven years and, with some notable exceptions, I’ve seen and heard damn near everything there is to be seen and heard. I so often encounter people who ask me questions about their performance, or the performances of others, looking for some qualitative assessment, forgetting that part of what makes me good at what I do (because I am, for your information, a damn fine KJ) is that I completely block out anything that may transpire onstage. I’ll notice something that amuses me at times, for good or ill, and I’ll occasionally make a comment, but it’s generally best that I don’t know what’s going on.

[Time’s up, but I’m going to continue:]

In my long and sordid history behind the board, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that there have been exactly two people who have legitimately and remarkably impressed me on a karaoke microphone. The first was this wonderful woman named Adonai, a lady who was a preschool teacher who came in and completely nailed Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson”–all the parts–seemingly without trying. I don’t even remember what she sang later on in the evening, but I do remember it was completely different. The other was the woman who would later become my ex-girlfriend Jen, who killed Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone” so scintillatingly I almost forgot how smokin’ hot I found her.

That’s the trick to really being a dynamic karaoke performer–it’s not whether or not you can do that amazing rendition of that one song over and over and over and over and over and over again. It’s what else you can do. Some people can get over their lack of discernible talent through turning the stage into a pro wrestling ring, conquering the crowd through showpersonship–that only sometimes works, as it often results in people being really fucking annoying, especially if they do the routine more than once. The really interesting, entertaining folks, though–they do something completely different. Soulful renditions of songs that require them certainly indicate some degree of vocal skill, but there’s a difference between vocal skill and sounding good.

I see and hear a ton of people that can do a pretty damn Janis Joplin/Glenn Danzig/Pat Benatar/Steve Perry/Ann Wilson/Usher. But none of them can do it in three octaves, which is pretty much the only thing that makes me say “damn.”

But, really, the fact that I think about this at all makes me the biggest loser in the room.

8:14 (37)

Posted in eight fourteen, emo on June 25, 2010 by darryl zero

I spent this entire week drifting in-and-out of consciousness and the desire to face it, taking advantage of my lack of discernible obligation to do the one thing I often feel like I’m best at doing: nothing. I concluded this uneventfully eventful week by hanging out with a friend for far longer than I’d spent time around anyone not my girlfriend or roommate in a bit. It ended up being a lot better for me than I realized it would be, not because of the relaxed “oh-my-fucking-Gods-I’ve-found-someone-I-can-nerd-out-about-sports-with” euphoria that comes when you run in circles populated by people with lingering resentment toward athletes but more because it was nice to simply interact.

Unintentionally, I’ve noticed my interactions with my friends and close ones to have taken on a greater weight–because I’m so rarely able to sustain active relationships with people owing to my schedule over the past three-or-so years, I have to schedule time with absolutely everybody; not only does this run contrary to my desire to escape temporal obligation, it also means I feel as if I have to coax every possible ounce of meaning from every encounter with my close friends. While I don’t mind this (gods know I love making more of what’s there than is necessary), it does make each encounter somewhat draining, emotionally and, in some cases, physically. It’s nice to meet up with the other people whom I care about; there are tons of them, and in many cases the infrequent collisions of time and space are delightfully liberating.

Tonight’s lengthy conversation concluded with an exchange in my car, a brief airing of concerns of the present and future. While I hate to see anyone going through what I’m going through, it’s always nice to know you’re not the only one that’s trying their fucking damndest to make it work, only to discover your best just ain’t good enough yet.

Time’s up.

8:14 (36)

Posted in eight fourteen, emo on June 22, 2010 by darryl zero

I’m stuck in a familiar place, the place where I can’t motivate myself to do anything of substance, and all I can do is come back to places like here, where I’m not running any risk of being something other than what I think I am.

Clearly, this is what keeps me in poverty, or at least incapacitated by my own limitations.

I have guitars swirling in my head, the kind that I used to listen to while walking around in Seattle, waiting for it to rain. I find myself legitimately wishing I could re-live that time of my life. I would give all of it up, all the people I’ve met, all of the things I saw and appreciated, even the little moments like the one with my grandmother outside the post office when the little kid spoke to us in sign language or the first time I had sex with Anastasia, if I could just have made a right decision so that I wouldn’t end up where I am now, staring at a computer screen intentionally darkened and isolated as if the knowledge that the only thing staring at me is my own creation were somehow consolation.

I finally broke down and went to visit my grandparents today for the first time in months. It’s hard to talk to them now, knowing I’m worse off than I was when I wasted that year-and-a-half living with them. My grandmother’s declining physical health is probably the worst part, and the biggest reason I stay away; how do you tell someone you wish you could just give them all of your live and youth? How do you tell someone hurting that you wish you were dead? It’s a shitty, unfair, fucked-up thing to say.

I sometimes can’t decide if feeling this self-loathing and depressed is better than feeling nothing, but then I realize I’m describing the exact same emotion. It’s a fucking miracle I can activate myself long enough to type stuff like this before I shut down again.

If you are reading this, you’ve probably read the rest of this series. Whether this makes you a sadist or a masochist is not for me to decide.

Time’s up.

i think about some irrelevant shit

Posted in nerdiness on June 20, 2010 by darryl zero

Nitpicky Nerdy Things That I’ve Held In For Too Long:

In Identity Crisis #3 (DC Comics, August 2004), there’s a scene in which the Justice League (minus Wonder Woman, Superman & Batman) take on Deathstroke The Terminator, who’s been hired by Dr. Light to protect him. Deathstroke begins by detonating three explosives directly around him, which the Flash runs around, only to accidentally impale himself on Deathstroke’s sword (which he’d been able to manipulate into place at the exact right time). The entire scene is narrated by Green Arrow, who thinks that Deathstroke “may not be able to outrun [the Flash], but he’s quicker where it counts;” the detonation-stab sequence is supposed to take place in the amount of time it takes Green Arrow to verbalize the word “don’t.” (Check out this forum for images of the battle–you have to scroll through some dumb anime discussion first, but the scene in question occurs on the first two pages.)

I think this is probably the first point at which the comic really lost me, because it’s a textbook example of a writer being so uncreative with a story line that the only way he can propel it is through bad writing. I’m willing to buy that Deathstroke’s “uncanny” enhanced reflexes are so fast that he’s able to both activate a remote detonator with one hand and use the other to whip his sword around his body faster than Green Arrow can say a one-syllable word. (His abilities are not thoroughly canonized in the DC Universe.) What I don’t buy is the idea that the Flash, a character capable of propelling his body at speeds beyond that of light, is somehow capable of evading three separate explosions, yet unable to avoid a sword. Even the Green Arrow’s description of the action makes no fucking sense: if the Flash’s body functions have been accelerated to a point at which he can run as fast as he does, it should stand to reason (and has, in fact, been established in DC continuity) that all of his bodily functions have been accelerated, including his brain functions.

In short: nobody can think faster than the Flash. If the Flash were simply a normal-speed brain in a super-speed body, he wouldn’t be able to do things like, for instance, change direction, without processing it at normal slow speed. And yes, thoughts occur pretty quickly, but if you’re traveling at, say, a thousand feet per second (slower than the speed of sound and well within the Flash’s abilities) and it takes you a quarter of a second to decide you want to turn, you’ve traveled 250 feet before you make that turn. Having reflexes that slow with a body that fast would be more of a liability than anything else, and if you were saddled with that kind of problem, you wouldn’t be able to run anywhere that you weren’t comprehensively knowledgeable about.

So, yeah–that scene should have been over in one panel: Flash pushes Deathstroke on top of one of the explosions, Deathstroke gets caught off-guard, all the other heroes pummel him to a bloody pulp. End scene.