Monthly Archives: August 2009

Love and Transience: Antinomy Unreconciled

I’ve always been something of a romantic. Even at the height of nihilism, a relatively newer friend was able to see this truth and call me on it. The day has come, however, where love is stranger and less real to me – perhaps I should elucidate by narrative.

Four years ago, I met a woman with whom I became quickly and entirely enamored. We had been having a wonderful evening, though she knew nothing of what I felt; and at its close she told me that her sleeping-space was occupied by a roommate’s parent – she needed a place to crash. I offered her my
roommate’s bunk, beneath mine, and proceeded to elude sleep for time unmeasurable.

I remember needing her; my soul crying out not ten feet to the angel beneath me, coming to suspect that the fulfillment or the ruin of my universe was entirely dependent on her place within it. I remember struggling to sleep and even to breathe, as if my lungs had gone on strike until their friend the heart had been fulfilled. I remember agony.

She never went for me, though it can’t be said I didn’t try. If I knew then what I know today, of women and of love, I might have been more successful. Perhaps I am delusional in thinking this, but the point is hardly worth disputing – there is no rewinding, and the memory stands. When I came down from my first official bender, I went to on to love again, surviving more highs and more lows up to the present day.

One of these lows was, in a number of ways, the last straw. A recent relationship devolved into the sort of trainwreck which, upon explosion, erupted into vast mushroom clouds of bad karmas, raining down upon myself and those around me to pollute and singe us all. I survived.

Sorrow is a guru; mine has taught me self-reliance and impermanence. Everything beautiful dies. In the wake of this knowledge, however, I simply cannot fathom what divine being could once more find my heart and leave it breathless – that sort of needing has escaped me now.

What has transpired here? Is this a newer, less juvenile face of love, or have I inadvertently scarred and calloused parts of me unto the point of deadness? I don’t much mind – it is peaceful here, like the great Dr. Manhattan sitting solitary in a sea of crimson beauty. Moreover, I trust that if love can come, it will. All is waves and currents, crests that follow troughs that follow crests.

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Please Die Already

Rage.

Rage.

There has been quite a hullabaloo recently about the healthcare reform bill, incited mainly by this man and this woman. Why are they ranting and raving about Democrats creating “death panels” that will decide whether or not the elderly† or mentally disabled‡ continue to receive medical treatment? Can’t they see that America is chock full of people ripe for Death’s annual picking?

The Democrats want people to have access to “end of life counseling.” That is a nice way of them saying “we want to encourage you to die without eating up millions of millions of dollars in care.” And the elderly and infirm DO eat up millions of dollars; 80% of the money you spend on healthcare will be spent during the last three months of your life. Is it really worth it? To spend hour after hour, barely breathing, barely thinking, hooked up to life support with a feeding tube in your gut?

Americans have become highly sensitive to the issue of death. I thought that the whole reason behind this mushy Christianity stuff was to make people comfortable with the idea of dying. “Oh, don’t worry, there’s always the afterlife! Feel free to pass away as you wish.” Nope. Christian evangelicals and conservative Catholics are amongst the most adamant individuals who support your right to clutch on to your existence by any means; even if your body and mind have rotted away to nothing.

Actually, they’re not even supporting your right to life; they’d keep you alive regardless of how you feel.

"Sir, we have found you to be too goddman crochety old for the State to continue financing your life."

"Sir, we have found you to be too goddamn crotchety old for the State to continue financing your life."

What about my right to death? Listen to me: people need to die. People have been dying for millions and millions of years. Its natural. It happens all the time. The problem is that no one has instructed us on how to cope with and move past these tragic events.

Wait. Tragic? It shouldn’t be tragic; it should be joyful. The joyful passing of your loved one. We are so far removed from our natural state of being that we no longer value death… excluding the deaths of our enemies; that has always been joyous.

Lion King

Even Disney supports death panels.

Human bodies were not designed (intelligent or not) to last forever. Our cells stop regenerating as well, our joints become rigid and sore, our systems fail to save over and over again until it gets to a point that your body just dies. All of this extensive healthcare is in denial of the natural ‘Circle of Life‘. Certainly the deaths’ of those who did not live up to the prime peaks of life are tragic; they died too soon. But that only covers people up to about age 40; if you live past that point, I will be joyfully celebrating your passing with explicit glee.

So lighten up. Embrace death (the insurance companies have been running death panels for years now). Maybe even buy a t-shirt. It’ll balance the budget for Christ’s-sakes.

You don’t want to be alive for the zombie apocalypse anyway…

†‡Not that either of these groups really qualify as  being ‘that alive’ in the first place.

jakefunc is a contributing writer and editor of projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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Maps.

Maps.

-:-

While we sit here knowing,
but not comprehending
why we are so different,
we stare at the sun.
Blindly, we forget–
it’s the same one.
Looking at our friends–
each one has a heart
bound to find us
happy?
We’re not so different
after all.

You’re one thing I can’t let go of…
you’re one person that I
cannot bear to lose.

Please don’t pick me away.
If I can’t be anything to you,
at least, let me scar you.
I just wanted to love you.
Ever since I knew you
I wanted to love you.

I remember the way you were
when you became angry.
You’d speak fast and you would storm
when you walked.
Something about you
empathized with me.

If I could say one thing, it’d be
I miss you, but most of all I wish
the best for you.
And I want to be free, but I feel that I cannot,
without you here.

My dreams may only be dreams,
but you stand there
in real life.

Our moments– speechless as they are,
feel like an eternity
in a different world.

Are you going to hold me again,
and tell me how I made you feel?
Or must I always imagine
the words you might say?
Was it all just a dream,
or did I grapple
through your words, through the way
we moved, that hey…
you loved me?

JadeAmethystt is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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True Blood: The Vamp Show That Didn’t Bungle

Whilst killing time at my amigo’s flat, the hour inevitably came when the bars were closed and we had played all the Smash Brawl we could reasonably stand. Calling my attention to a small, white box with mildly erotic cover art, he suggested we watch an episode from the first season of “True Blood,” his latest vampire-infused TV fetish.

I immediately recoiled, as if repelled by garlic or by sunlight. I’m really not much of a television enthusiast, truth be told, and rumors of Twilight’s blatant donk-canery had soured my taste for any attempts at mainstreaming the vampire genre. (Sparkling vampires? Stake through the heart. Or maybe a kukri knife, a la the original Stokerian epic.)

Due to boredom, masochism, or the perseverance of hope, I decided to give it a shot. After five or six hours of viewing time over two subsequent evenings, I am happy to say that my doubt has been laid to rest – the program is well-written, engaging, and most importantly, does not reduce the vampire to a glittering, Hot Topic-esque pissant conceived to arouse fifteen year-old emo chicks.

This does not imply that the show does not have its sensual moments. The vampire has long been a symbol of sexuality and deviance, and I cringed at first for fear of half-assed soft-core or soap-inspired shamefulness. Never you fear, gentle reader – True Blood rides the line between Steeleian cliché and pleasant sexuality like a drugged up fang-banger straddling their first vampire lay (puts “v-card” in a whole new light, doesn’t it?)

Outside the bedroom, the show continues not to disappoint. A host of believable if routinely traumatized characters (it is, after all, a drama) bring the town of Bon Temps to life, infusing the program with a down-homey, colloquial flare. While the dialogue’s backwoods simplicity was alienating at first, repeated exposure charms the viewer like a southern belle; drawing the audience into the more human aspects of a fantastic world. This is a strong claim coming from me, as a lifetime of exposure to Bush-era redneckery has embittered me toward anything that drives a pick-up and listens to Toby Keith; but it is true – seeing relatable characters in such familiar surroundings actually did much to assuage the shame brought on by my humble Midwestern origins.

And speaking of politicizing, I should applaud the satirical elements of True Blood. The message is subtle yet undeniable, as background programs host chattering about vampire-rights legislators and the struggle to legalize vampire marriage. Pricelessly, a Fellowship of the Sun cathedral even sports a bright yellow poster reading “God Hates Fangs.” If that doesn’t get you off, well, then I simply have no comment.

While the action scenes are not uber-abundant, they certainly occur often enough to maintain interest. The violence is intensely fast-paced and often over quickly, which upon consideration is better than the drawn-out, cheese-ridden excuses for melees that so permeated the genre’s prior failures. Also, as the name implies, the program is suitably ensanguined in other aspects, from vampire intercourse to the snorting of vamp blood to induce psychedelic journeys.

All in all, this is the program that got it right. While it is not my favorite drama of all time (bring back The Riches!), it is a masterful forward leap for the vampire traditions, honoring the genre’s hallmarks without trespassing into the cliché. The show maintains an aestheic homage to metal and gothic aesthetics at points (such as at the vamp-bar “Fangtasia”) while keeping Bon Temps and its residents believably normal – the only inconsistency is that landscapers and wait-staff walk around in high-end, sponsor-evident fashions. Also, I am proud to announce that HBO’s vampires balk at running water, recoil from sunlight and silver, and are precluded from entering private dwellings uninvited. And, once again, they don’t fucking glitter!!!

Red Pill Neo is a contributing writer for Project Group Think. He apologizes for the late post, citing an impending move back west brought upon by perpetual nomad-ism. Follow Neo and his PGT pals on Twitter – once again, we’re PGTblog!!!

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Fuck you, shipping and handling! (a review of Hello Fascination)

I feel like a real album reviewer right now. Whether it was done due to error or as a reward to those of us who went for the fanciest pre-order package for Hello Fascination, the new Breathe Carolina album, I know not, but the fact of the matter is that while the album hits shelves today, I’ve had my copy since Friday. I suspect it was through error though, since when I stuck the CD in my computer on Friday, eagerly ripping it to my itunes library, itunes had no idea what I’d put in to my computer and I had to add all the album information by hand.

four days in advance! wicked!

four days in advance! wicked!

Excuse me while I open up wikipedia. Now search keywords “Breathe Carolina”. Ah, there we go.

Breathe Carolina, who hail from Denver, Colorado, started as a myspace band in 2007, which is to say, they made music with no intention of playing it live, purely existing on myspace and through digital release. The music that the at the time two-piece (Kyle Even and David Schmitt, not exactly “rock star” names) was a sort of electro-pop club sound with a hardcore influence. Yes. A hardcore influence. Much like the bizarre “cybergrind” genre, Breathe Carolina ambitiously attempted to put to fuse electronica and screamo (which is a definite improvement over cybergrind’s attempts to fuse electronica and grindcore) in a way that would be equally appealing to a raver or a hardcore fan. This somewhat unique sound was not what grabbed my attention, though. What made me turn my head was the fact that Breathe Carolina’s widely praised debut album It’s Classy, Not Classic (no, I don’t get the title) was recorded entirely in a bedroom with Apple’s standard package music software, Garage Band, which is more than a little impressive

Seriously, change your names to like, Kyle Awesome and David Schwing or something, I dont know

Seriously, change your names to like, Kyle Awesome and David Schwing or something, I don't know

It’s Classy, Not Classic was truly a breath of fresh air in a scene grown far too stale. While somewhat similar artists such as the dreadful BrokeNCyde (fuck those guys, seriously), only manage to make the genres they fuse more cliched, Breathe Carolina was able to take the cliche and make it interesting again. The melodic, swirling synths, largely vocoded vocals, and pounding beats, combined with the the occasional burst of screaming made for an album that had no trouble getting your attention. The album felt poppy and familiar in a good way, like listening to your a playlist of nostalgiac dance tracks. While the screaming isn’t for everyone it takes the album from a level where it might be easily forgotten to a place where it stays stuck in your mind. While at first I wasn’t terribly impressed, the album was infectious (especially “The Bird and The Bees” as well as “Diamonds” and after a while it became hard to listen to anything else. Simply put, it was an album of parties and one night stands, an album of dancing all night and living with no regrets, an album of pouring your heart out, from your tenderist moments to your most frustrated. Okay, that wasn’t simply put at all, but I can’t help myself, it was a good album.

While far from my favourite album from last year (maybe a top # albums of ’08 is n order while there’s still some ’09 left?) it was good enough that I decided to pre-order Breathe Carolina’s second album. The price was right, the pre-order package came with t-shirt, sticker, signed poster and CD for 24 dollars, which I would honestly pay for just a t-shirt. Of course, once you add in the absurd 10 dollar shipping and handling (WHAT THE FUCK?) it’s not quite so attractive, but still, it was worth it to me. Seriously, fuck you, shipping and handling, ten dollars is absurd. Even with all the stuff if in this package it still wasn’t any larger than a fucking vhs tape. RAAAAAGE. AND THAT WAS THE CHEAPEST S&H AVAILABLE. RAAAAAAAAAGE.

Sorry.

Musically, the album steps in to new territory, with a much more full and diverse instrumental section. This is due to, in large part, the addition of three new bandmates. Kyle Even and David Schmidtt (names guys, I’m gonna say it again), still do all the primary song writing according to the liner notes, but clearly these musicians are contributing to the writing process at some stage, since this album, unlike its predecessor, features guitar work. The instrumentation is probably the biggest improvement over the last album it’s fun and dancy, but also holds up to close listening. The album opens strongly with the title track, “Hello Fascination”, a which follows up perfectly on the sound of It’s Classy… but builds upon it at the same time with the addition of guitar. It doesn’t take long to notice how much more polished the music is. The instrumental parts are more distinct, the vocals sound really well-produced, and the beats sound infinitely cripser, but besides that and the guitar the song doesn’t tread a lot of new territory. The lyrics are a little more ambiguous and less party-oriented, but still fun lyrics about the confusion of romance. The whole song sounds vaguely Family Force 5-esque, which you couldn’t say as much about the old songs, but even this doesn’t significantly set it apart from the first album.

The second song, however, definitely crosses in to new territory, even just witht he length of its title. “I’m The Type of Person to Take it Personal” has more words in the title than any song on their previous outing, not sure what this means, but it’s a good song title none-the-less. And it’s a great song, the sound is somewhat reminisicent of Innerpartysystem, which is an awesome thing to be compared to. This song sets the tone for the album, int hat it explores a much darker harder sound, and sets a standard of covering new ground that the album will continue to follow.

From total dance hits like “Take Me To Infinity” and “Welcome to Savannah”, to genre pushers like “I Have To Return Some Videotapes” (probably the album’s best song), the album rarely misses a beat. One thing I have mixed feelings about, however, are the vocals. There are a lot more clean vocals (no vocoding/auto-tuning or screaming) than on the previous effort, which is a definite improvement, but some of the unique vocal flares of the previous album such as harmonic backing vocals that featured so prominently on tracks like “No Vacancy” on It’s Classy, Not Classic. While these unique features aren’t gone entirely, they are less present and are definitely missed. The problem comes down to the fact that, in polishing their sound they’ve managed to over-produce in places, which is a an understandable problem for a band that went through the transition that they went through. In going from having nothing at their fingertips, to having a pretty amazing array of resources they’ve managed to go a bit too crazy in places, losing some of the features that made their first album so remarkable. I imagine that as they continue to put out music they will probably realize this and get in to a comfortable groove with their music where it’s neither overproduced nor underproduced. A good example of this starting to happen is the song “Can I Take You Home?” which is a real return to form for the band and stands out as being one of the highlights of the album.

Not every song on the album lives up to the overall progress, either. “Tripped And Fell In Portland” could have easily been the best track on the album with it’s anthemic guitar and hardcore vocals juxtaposed next to off kilter electronic sections that serve to perfectly break things up and keep it from being a straight rock song, but is ruined by the terrible hyper-typical pop-punk chorus. The only thing the chorus has done right is to include some swirling snyths that don’t fit the pop-punk style, but aside from that it sounds like any other song out there and completely fails to be interesting. The last song on the album, “Rescue” also fails to deliver anything interesting, and as soon as I reach it, try as I might to make it through the song, I usually end up going back to the beginning without listening to it all the way through.

Pop is a funny word. For some reason there is a prejudice against pop, and I’m not exactly sure where this prejudice comes from. It seems as though as soon as music becomes fun it stops being cool in a lot of circles. While I can understand a certain amount of the pop hate that goes on out there, there is certainly a place for pop in this world, and in my heart for that matter. While older reviews that I’ve done tended to be more focused on reviewing obscure acts, often highly experimental in nature, lately I find that I enjoy listening to and reviewing pop music. Not all pop is worthy of my listening (most isn’t) but I do try to give it more of a chance now than I did in the past. While your average pop album has less musical complexity than just one song by, say, Tool, there’s something to be said for music that can make people want to dance. There’s something magical in dancing, in letting a song move you and just being a part of the moment. Breathe Carolina have not released anything near a perfect album, but they have released something that makes you want to dance, and maybe that’s good enough for a sophomore album. Perfect or no, I would recommend this album to anyone, and have no regrets with my purchase of the album.

That said, I think I’m going to review something weirder next just to shake things up lest these pop reviews become too much of a habit.

HelloLion some how got a hold of access to the project groupthink dashboard and he refuses to relinquish control! You can follow us on twitter @pgtblog (which he also has the ability to update, sneaky devil).

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Moving And Scott Hamilton

This past Friday I moved to Bowling Green to start my Master’s program study of Public Administration. It is, to say the least, a big change. I don’t know anyone, I don’t really know where anything is at, and I feel awkward on a daily basis. This change of faces and scenery is also an opportunity, however, to further my progress as a human being towards that inevitable point B.

Some of my friends remarked that my move was “a chance to reinvent” myself; I have to disagree with them. Not because they’re wrong—you can certainly reinvent yourself somewhere where you’re about as notorious as a circus flea—but because I don’t want to reinvent myself. I like who I am. I like who I know. Reinvention speaks to me of some kind of abandonment of my identity, my personality, whoever it is that I am that so dearly clings to this existence.

The problem of my past is the potential for success; there wasn’t any chance of me achieving that potential in Freedom Township USA. I’ve got great ideas for this world and I need a bully pulpit to project them from. I need eyes and more importantly ears waiting in anticipation to receive me. I need welcoming curiosity, not the hard dick and bad attitude of borderline-inbred numbskulls.

The university is one of the last places in this nation where intellectuals can express ideas freely. Yes, there are still constraints, but nowhere else can you find such a level of brainpower matched with open minds for progress. I may very well make my home at a university sometime in the future, assuming that a cat doesn’t catch my tongue at my upcoming first lecture (gulp).

Bowling Green was not my top choice; I was a top pick for them. I was one of hundreds who applied for a spot in their Political Science department as a Graduate Assistant. Credit was finally paid where it was always due. I’ve never been awarded a scholarship (or even a Student of the Month in high school, geeze).

Anyway, I live on 2nd St. South of 2nd is 5th. Yeah, 5th. And North of 2nd is Scott Hamilton. You read me right—Scott Hamilton. I had no idea who that was, but he most sure be something special.

175px-Scott-Hamilton-Golf

Scott Scovell Motherfuckin' Hamilton. Golfing while skating. Sick.

I had to go do some registration stuff today, and I ended up speaking with some rather aged ladies about the peculiarly named street. Apparently Scott Hamiltion was raised in Bowling Green, fought off some crazy disease, and then went on to win 4 U.S. Championships and a Gold medal in the 1984 Winter Olympics. Now he does commentary on skating for ABC or some crap.

Believe me, my jaw was loose, my mouth a gaping hole of wonderment at the amazing feats of Scott Hamilton, and in that moment I realized that if I really, truly put my mind to it, I could accomplish anything. And have a street named after me. Maybe even in Bowling Green. I don’t even have to combat a freaky virus while I’m being ambitious. I only hope that you’re there, watching, waiting for the triumph of my ascension.

jakefunc is a contributing writer and editor of projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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Sorry Satan! The internet has already consumed my soul!

I always figured that if there was a hell I would be dueling Satan on a fiddle for the rights to my soul. In the age of technology there will be no souls left for Satan to devour once we all parish. The internet has already consumed my soul and likely yours too.

I just went 36 straight hours of straight internet outage, and I almost pulled my hair out. I could not do my school work, browse various free streaming porn sites, or even check the good ole’ time consuming facebook.

Without the internet I felt out of place. I felt awkward if you will. I had no clue what to do. Sure, I can take Ethan to the park, read a book, do some cleaning, but for 36 hours (7 ½ which I was asleep)? I could not plow my facebook Farmville fields and plant fresh virtual plants. Honestly, the world could have ended, and I would have been left here clueless because I could not do my daily browse of various news sites.

Honestly, how the hell did we ever make it through life without the web?

The internet is our passport for anything we want in life. Read anything you want. Need friends? Join some social-networking sites.  Want to hear your favorite music? Screw music stores and paying for music. Download them illegally, and for free. Buy yourself some airline, concert, or sporting event tickets. Do anything you want, or find anything you want because it is the internet.

I honestly have no clue how life would be without the web. I was 14 when the internet made it’s debut in my household, and I haven’t looked back since. Most of us hardly remember a world without Myspace, Amazon, AIM, eBay, and facebook.

What hell did people do prior to 1994? I was a kid, so I remember running around outside playing football and baseball. What are kids doing these days? Are they sitting on their asses becoming mob bosses on facebook’s Mafia Wars like me? What did our parents do? What did college students do without facebook? How the hell did you contact your dealer without facebook, or even a cell phone?

The world would be a strange place without the internet. Would we live in a better place?

ElTigreTom is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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