Monday, January 28, 2013

The Drug Talk

I don't know where I stand on drugs, every argument has a counterargument, it's all very complicated. I simply know what I will do, and that is to try no new drugs and take as little as possible.

So 'drugs' is a broad catch-all term that is borderline useless to the discussion. When I say I take drugs I'm talking 90% caffeine, and 10% alcohol. I don't even take painkillers, except when the hospital deems it necessary to put my shoulder joint back in the socket.

For example, one argument that swayed my staunch opposition to drugs was the observation that large numbers of drug users experiment with drugs, enjoy themselves and move on in life with no adverse effects. And these numbers are significant but forgotten in the face of fallen, broken individuals who used a lot of drugs.

But this argument has little relevance to me, if in the crucial words 'move on' we are explaining the large number of people who stop their experiments with recreational drugs because they stop being able to apply the word 'recreation' to their lives with any relevance, once servicing a mortgage and responsible for child rearing and what not.

Indeed in general the youth do not, or cannot look to their elders and conclude that there is more to life than the hedonic pleasure world they are seemingly drawn to. Except that this is a tiny phenomena restricted to the worlds most priveleged.

But the thing is you can't reliably look at the older generations and have the life-cycle bear up to any scrutiny, there's still significant numbers of people with families, mortgages and work life to hold up that binge drink and take drugs. You can't even reasonably conclude that getting married, owning your home and having kids yeilds more satisfaction with life than taking a bunch of drugs at a festival.

It is not enough to conclude that our parents got over taking drugs, and so shall we, so what's the point there must be more to life than feeling great? What about looking to those who inspire us?

Of more relevance to me are the host of musicians and artists whose life does not require them to be somewhere at 9am looking hygenically presentable. This world is littered with functional substance abusers.

Take for example, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, an amazing guitarist and non enjoyer of many illicit substances. Is this counterargument enough? You see somebody richer than anybody you are likely to ever know who has whole sections of his memory (indeed whole continents like Australia) wiped from his memory, yet he play amazing guitar.

I see the drug use, but I imagine Keith Richards wasn't some alcoholic lying in the street until Mick Jagger said 'put a guitar in his hands', Keith Richards rather is somebody incredibly fortunate to have played and at some point worked up an incredible guitar playing ability in his youth before his substance abuse started.

The same can be said of Eric Clapton, I see drugs sure, but I see a lot of work. Dave Navarro, Perry Farrell, Anthony Kiedas, Keith Moon, James Morrison, John Bonham, Janis Joplin, Sid Barrett, Jimi Hendrix...

I see a lot of work and dedication, maybe in somecases preexisting talent, I don't know leading to a lifestyle that could sustain drug use, due to having quite unrealistic incomes for the general population. Furthermore, while the amount of creative output attributable to drug use is questionable, the number of these artists that still had to beat a heroin addiction or died from drug or alcohol related overdoses suggests that continued drug use and occupations that allow for it have a much stronger correlation than drug use and 'creativity' or drug use and 'musical talent'.

As for comic book artists, I read Jim Mahfood's LA Ink Stains and am envious of how much of his life is seemingly devoted to taking drugs, going to amazing gigs, then eating fast food with beautiful women in the early hours of the morning. But for the most part, the artists I follow and attempt to emulate just draw 14 hours a day, are married, have a kid and move out of the city to a country for cheaper rent and bigger studio space. Few, very, very few ever mention drug use.

I think it's easy to make a case to point out that drugs, while fun, don't help anything. In fact, it is more or less exactly the same as pizza. Pizza never makes you life easier post consumption. You can take XTC and feel great, until it wears off, then your life is just as shit or good as it was before.

It says nothing. But where I feel my position will eternally be anchored, is that so many drugs, what they do is stimulate your brain into producing the chemical rewards normally reserved for actual improvements in your life. I don't want a $40 pill that feels better than sex, or kissing, or hosting a successful exhibition. I don't won't to inject heroin into my arm that feels better than any feeling I can achieve in my actual life.

Just like pizza doesn't make your life easier, the human brain, the most complex organ in the known universe, evolved for millions of years to give us specific rewards for specific events in life that are worthwhile. We feel a kind of ecstacy consuming refined sugar, because it is so rich in calories that if you stumbled across say - honey in the wild days of hunter gatherer it was a massive windfall. Now you can buy kilos of sugar and eat it by the spoonful. It's not good for you, and it's not indicative of any kind of good fortune or wealth like stumbling across some honeycomb used to. Just so, the ability to feel great via a pill or needle or crack pipe or whatever is not indicative of the hosts ability to throw a great party, or that you have made great decisions in life.

For me it is a fear, that even though taking recreational drugs doesn't mean you haven't made great decisions in life, it diminishes the hedonic impact those great decisions bring.

I just want the shit that is real, the really great stuff in my life to remain the best experiences of my life.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Robocop 2 deconstructed

I can stil remember sitting in prep in the proximity of Luke Nunn whom was asking questions about Robocop 2, and the teachers gave it a bad review. 'It wasn't for kids like the first one.' or something... maybe I don't still remember it. Maybe those teachers were just trying to do right by kids who didn't understand why we couldn't see a movie about Robots that kill child drug dealers whose characters are only 5 years our senior.

I remember it because Robocain fired my 7 year old imagination, in just the same way that I imagine Iron Man and Iron Monger from Iron man fired the 7 year old imaginations of 10 year olds today.

But having watched Robocop for the first time ever, then rewatched Robocop 2 and Robocop 2 is vastly inferior. What did they screw up?

I'm glad I asked me.

Robocop 2 has a bunch of good ideas - how many originate from Frank Miller's screenplay, and how many from the other writers that took it over.

But finale backwards, the big story arc is Robocop vs. Robocain aka Robocop 2, if there's a sequel to the remake then it's even money it'll be called Robocop 2.0. Anyway Robocain conceptually was a good nemisis, you had the original Robocop which despite it's christian themes of resurrection and Robocop as a fascist christ figure, could be said to be about 'what makes us human' much like any film about AI, robots etc.

And both screenplays feature heavy dialogue service to 'you're a product, not a person' so it was a good story - human's being individuals and products being mass producable - does the next years model render the prior one obsolete, or does the individuals character in the cyborg account for more.

And thus you had Robocain, the contender, the upgrade. The upgrade is conceptually easy and makes for a good action sequel too. It's a no brainer and not a bad one, bigger, more guns, more menacing. That part was easy, though it was given to somebody amazing to handle - Phil Tippet.

I mean Phil is an artist and a craftsman, and he put a lot of craft into creating the monster of Robocain from an amazingly simple brief. Robocain is just one of the best pieces of design ever, so good it makes me just want to give the fuck up.

But you have a plotting issue, if Robocain is bigger and stronger, how do you put the inferior mind into Robocain. You can't just make it inferior because it IS a machine, vs the human-machine hybrid that is Robocop, because that is Robocop vs the ED-209, which was literrally a stupid machine.

Frank Miller, based on the comic adaptation of his original screenplay furnished a good plotting solution - bring in the psychologist to deconstruct and hypothesise on the nature and character of Robocop.

So you have Dr. Love, who is almost the true nemisis - she contends that it was Alex Murphy's nature that made him the success story of the original Robocop project. She then draws up a psychological profile for ideal robocop candidates - Miller's solution was simple, almost premeditating the milatary security contractors employed controversially in Iraq (and possibly drawing from a long recurring history) he had the drug addicted psychotic mercenary 'Kong'.

The movie take drug baron Cain, and here working backwards the movie starts to get unstuck. Cain is a good character, but he has little in common with Robocain, they got in Tom Noonan who played the antagonist in the original Micheal Mann adaptation of Red Dragon - 'Manhunter'. He's a great on screen villain, creepy and he virtually reprised the red dragon/tooth-fairy role for cain. A spiritual nutjob - hence he fits Dr Love's profile and is more complex than Miller's Kong character. But a thug is what Robocain is, whereas Cain is so totally different, a mastermind, rather than a tough guy, or even the tough-guy-mastermind hybrid like Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

The one scene Cain exhibits any malicious side is pretty good, but by having a compelling character (if a little cheesy with lines like 'Jesus had days like this') he is just basically lost completely in the Robocain character.

And here you have the foundations of Robocop 2 going from a nice concise movie with something to say about the human condition to a 'bunch-of-scenes' movie.

The human condition aspect is also touched on nicely with the scene in which Murphy is harassed by lawyers and told to inform his wife that he is not murphy but just a robotic tribute to him.

Inbetween though you have this diversion where robocop is 'killed' again by Cain then reprogrammed by Dr Love, and you have this big commical short within the film of Robocop becomming a PR joke. And it's neat and funny in and of itself, but it just pads out the movie, it does serve as pretext for Robocop's character growth, where he relinquishes himself of his directives and becomes an independant being - Alex Murphy once more.

Miller's script works, fundamentally, although it ends up being an attack on psychology, with Dr Love being the symbolic face of evil 'talking through our issues' while Robocop represents the good 'man up and take action' .

So I don't think there was any real travesty committed in the rewrites, I think they recognised all Miller's great ideas, just like they carried over heaps of Paul Verhoeven's great directorial touches from the original.

It just remained waaaay busy conceptually, which seems a common downfall of most sci-fi-action films. Same mistake got made in Transformers 2, Iron Man 2, Spider Man 3... these films were made two decades after Robocop 2, so this mistake won't go away any time soon. I can't be sure if it's because Producers get carried away and demand more shit to wow audiences or whether they get overconfident and let the concept artists and SFX departments go crazy based off of the original success.

I just think storytelling is where it is at, and less is more with storytelling. Making a sequal to a good story is a hard fucking problem, because you need reasons to dredge up characters again, and you need to give them something to do - again. I think when making a film, comic, drawing etc. it is good to think about the audience, and there was this great piece of wisdom about sequals I was priveleged enough to read a long time ago now - people aren't going because they want to see a new film, they are going because they want to see the first film - for the first time again.

Thus for the screenwriter, you need to make the same film again but different some-way-some-how. It can't repeat, it has to rhyme. And even post-Miller's script there's a bunch of great sequal-rhyming solutions - like Robocop's directives preventing him from shooting Hob. It's not the same because while Hob is a villain, he isn't an OCP executive - engaging the secret 4th directive, but he's a minor hence Robocop can't shoot him. But as stated by some critic somewhere, the conniving child-drug baron just doesn't work, and Hob is perhaps the crazy concept too far in the film.

I think they did a good job of coming up with great solutions to the fundamental problems, just didn't trim enough fat.

I think the Judge Dredd remake is a fine example of a refined sequal, and instructive to Robocop who was in part inspired by Judge Dredd. The difference being that Dredd (2012) was a reboot of a flop in Judge Dredd (1995) which didn't make money. But Dredd just took two characters and put them in a situation, and the film though a financial flop is compelling. It moves well, it's simple, it has good characters and good story structure.

So, if the new Robocop production makes money, and somehow improves upon the 1987 original making fans demand a sequel, and assuming the new Robocop is again about Murphy's struggle to reclaim humanity, what I suggest is the following:

Bring back the obsolescence issue, OCP wants to release a new model of Robocop, and scrap the old Robocop.

Bring back Robocain - he needs to be made like a Marlow from HBO's 'The Wire' though, like a ruthless psychotic gangster, somebody you as the audience don't want to get any more power. He isn't a nut-job, he's actually good at his job. You then get the powerful emotional response from the audience in their relief that Cain is dead, then quickly robbing them of that by making Cain even worse.

Reduce the conflict to this - Robocop's struggle to regain free will and avoid obsolescence vs. OCP's desire to have a more obedient tool.

That's it. Leave it at that, a two act movie. The war on Cain is act one, the resurrection of Cain as Robocain is act two.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Need to take a break from doing studies, as in drawing studies. This was the one feature I looked forward to with my smart phone, and it's paying off.

Anyway, so random thought to fill the break - today I was thinking for some reason about the I-ching vs Confucious' Anelects.

I can remember literally nothing of the anelects, and almost every real world hangover of confucianism serves to not entice me back to reading it. I was told the Tokugawa government upheld a confucian ideal of warrior-scholars though, which possibly lead to putting the 'arts' into the japanese martial arts. I just can't remember any of the actual anelects.

I can remember racist Looney Tunes or early Disney cartoons portraying 'chinamen' offensively prefacing every sentence with 'confucious say...' but I can't remember any of the content of those sayings.

Whereas, Lao-Tzu, that's a different story alltogether. Considering I read both books at the same time easily over a decade ago, Lao-Tzu's sticks with me, just a little.

'The sage keeps their minds empty and their bellies full'
'he gives with this hand while he takes with that hand.'
'it is the part of the cup that is empty that makes a cup useful, it is the space between the spokes that makes the wheel...'

Sure, no doubt I'm paraphrasing, nor can I really read chinese characters, so maybe one was translated a lot more artistically than the other, but I suspect there's two possible causes for why Taosism stuck and Confuscianism didn't:

A) Confuscianism is highly unappealing to anybody raised under western individualism.
B) Lao-Tzu wrote in aphorisms.

I suspect it's a combination. But Lao-Tzu certainly if the translations are to be trusted, wrote short witty passages that are memorable, whereas Confucious said wordy almost witless value statements.

I selected a particularly bad example from wikisource, as is my want:

"The superior man bends his attention to what is radical. That being established, all practical courses naturally grow up. Filial piety and fraternal submission,-are they not the root of all benevolent actions?"

I have no idea what this means. Trim it down to the first sentence, and it seems appealing to my western mind. It means, pay attention to the risk takers. Coupled with the following sentences though it seems his idea of radical is 'listen to father', the last part is presumably a rhetorical question of which substantial research has been conducted and could now safely conclude for such an extraordinary claim -


Now similarly selecting at random one of the first excerpts from the Tao-Te-Ching on wikisource that I could determine was about something:

"All in the world know the beauty of the beautiful, and in doing this they have (the idea of) what ugliness is; they all know the skill of the skilful, and in doing this they have (the idea of) what the want of skill is."

Similarly science has rattified these extraordinary claims. It seems beauty is largely determined by symmetry, with some peppered evolutionary quirks - we for example all seem to share a preference for the reproductive promise of youth, but also we can find asymmetrical features such as scars attractive because they trigger a 'they must have good survival genes' response. Furthermore, MIT psychologists now know a lot about our frontal lobes ability to project, imagine and predict abscences of things among other brain tricks.

But my point really is that the simple form of the writing, means that aphorisms in the Tao-Te-Ching take much less effort to remember - just stuff like 'the beauty of the beautiful' is enough coding for our minds to reconstruct the essence of the statement... versus 'that being established, all practical courses naturally grow up.' this is how Kevin Rudd speaks, or any number of the politicians now adept at saying things that contain no information whatsoever but convey the vocabulary of an educated man.

This isn't any real or scholarly comparison of the two philosophies, just a mere comment on how one is written in a way that is easy to remember, one is not.

I don't know if eloquence is one of the compenents that generally makes it into the definition of 'intelligence' but it's a good thing to have.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time..

I watched 1987's Robocop for the first time ever, and then rewatched Robocop 2. Back in the 80's a long movie was like 120 minutes, max.

I like it, there's a great economy back then, every minute on screen was useful. One story, the movie told one story. In this post-LOTR movie age, now it's just like 190 minutes is the new normal, and you can have a fucken old dwarf just tell a pointless story about a pointless war to give backstory to a character that performs very little function if any. Fuckloads of exploitative or self indulgent scenes. I'm not saying mistakes or waste or compromise are bad, telling a story is hard, but I think for two decades now our answer to every problem has just been 'more' even though the success stories are always 'better'.

and now in the interest of not being hypocritical, it's over.


I've been in correspondence with an artist for about 6 months now and as of last night, finally met the man. It had been a long time coming and then suddenly it was there.

But back it up, easy back it up.

When looking for my first exhibition space, I found it, through facebook's now defunct 'friends' events' by inviting myself along to an exhibition. Later a friend of mine recommended I go check out the same space because they'd seen an exhibit in it that they thought I would like.

Acting on the recommend I discovered this artist. I took a business card and looked up their rss feed, added it to my google reader.

Eventually in the RSS feed the next exhibit showed up and I went along to the opening. I couldn't identify the artist in the room, as I was too late for any speaches and nobody seemed to be clearly the artist in the room.

I grabbed another business card, and then... then at a party somebody told me to contact an artist and ask for their feedback/advice and told me I'd never know if I didn't try.

So I did. Months and months later, just before my black exhibition. I emailed the artist and asked him to come to my show. He couldn't because he was going overseas for vacation.

I asked him a bunch of shop questions, he was kind enough to answer. Then later I commissioned him.

The commission is almost due, and I had already asked to go watch him paint it, as I'm trying to figure out colour myself.

But before that came the gig invite. So I went down as I do with all gig invites. It was only a dilemma in terms of having already pencilled in a gig southside that night. But I was able to do both thanks to friendly set times.

So I finally met him.

But fuck. That is weird, I am just some guy that on a friends suggestion went and checked out an exhibition, ended up following the artists career, commissioning a piece of work, and then meeting and exchanging numbers. Which it just occured to me, I looked up at the business card and it has his mobile on it... anyway.

The point is, one day something that weird will happen to me. I will correspond with 'younger' artists and shit, and then we'll meet, and the only thing that will bring us into contact is art. My art.

I look forward to it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Play that Fun

You meet someone, that someone has something, you like it, it catches you by surprise, you wind up thinking about them, thinking about you and them, in the future, laughing, skipping, singing, frolicking, eating at KFC and all the other fun stuff that comes with relationships.

Studies have shown, the more elaborately you anticipate a future with somebody, the less likely you are to actually ask them out in the next 30 days.

That lower expectations and lower standards lead to more hookups is not controversial I feel, I'm not here to talk about that.

It's just that most people anticipate a relationship to be fun. anticipate.

One of two things happen. You observe a stable lasting relationship and it doesn't look like any fun. You are constantly amazed at how much a couple can stay at home. They don't relieve this impression either when you do see them out and they say things like 'it's so great to get out for once!' and shit like that.

The other thing is that you wind up never mentioning that the reason you anticipate a relationship is for the fun, because it would be fun, because it would be an improved level of existence to your current solitary existence - somehow you wind up talking about feelings, emotions, problems and shit.

Chris Rock reduced relationships to 'you fuck, you get something to eat, you fuck, you eat, you fuck, you go to a movie, you fuck, you order in, you fuck, you go meet the parents, you fuck... etc.' which is a nice summation of the regular sex that goes on in most youthful trists, but that shit is fun.

I remember whilst engaged in one such youthful trist reading the glossy magazines my then girlfriend brought home from her job at Spencer Street Station that sex for most adults is the only form of play they engage in.

A relationship, for most starting out, is a playful affair, that over time either breaks up (which is fine) or becomes characterised by dependence, responsibility, boredom etc. when people stop working hard at the play side of things. (this is less fine)

Yeah relationships are hard, it takes rare constellations to get shit going on long term and sustainably. But I am optimistic that if you learn from experience you can avoid both the pitfalls of relationships - bitter breakups, or soul-crushing security blankets. It's just few go for that shit, in the same way that very few people chase their dreams.

But there's a strange paradox that maybe I lost as regards relationships, if you take them seriously, they are not supposed to be taken seriously. They are supposed to be your outlet to play, to be happy, to have fun. To have sex, which is fun, then talk shit while eating, which is fun. Just a naturally drugged up version of hanging out with any other friend whose company you enjoy.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


I'm always amazed at my ability to just make a decision and start losing weight.

I have always been a procrastinator, preferring stress situations to get things done, and the discipline I've needed to build up is actually acting ahead of time to work for the long term. But after a reclusive creative phase, which has been good for my art but incredibly lonely and bad for my dietary requirements.

I'm just getting back into the post holiday social shutdown and back to going and maintaing relationships and connections.

I'm trying to talk less and listen more too, and almost like a kharmic retribution system listening keeps handing me answers. Obviously a blog is not a 'listening' exercise, but here is what I'm hearing -

Procrastination can be incredibly productive if you are honest about it. If you know how much you are actually going to achieve, then instead of being at a desk not doing it, leave the desk, sit down only when you can work. You'd never sit down at a computer just to browse and look up shit for hours, you only do that when it feels like there's something you should be doing but can't.

Anybody pursuing a creative profession needs to exert a degree of rationalization to just survive the periods where there's no validation coming in - poor attendence at gigs, no money, parents don't respect you etc. which is problematic when you start getting that validation because it can send the ego into overdrive - you are now overcompensating, the energy you used to exert just to keep yourself going is now dedicated to alienating yourself from your peers and supporters if you aren't careful.

On rationalization, dilemmas between doing the 'commercial thing' and 'artistic integrity' are in practice bogus. Successful artists rarely feel compromised, they are simply making money from doing exactly what they want to do. 'integrity' is sadly often employed as a retreat rationalization for not reaching the audience.

There are differences between people's visual self-conception, for example, while I always view myself in future projections from a 3rd person viewpoint and never have a realistic view of my own physical appearance, other people actually project into the future in the natural first person perspective, which I find amazing.

You can claim costs of flights back from insurance if your reason for going somewhere got cancelled.

When collaborating you need to match ambitions, otherwise modest success is the death of you. A relationship between two collaborators is hard, the difficulty multiplies with the number of people you involve.

It's been informative. It's been real.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


I am sure in some sense friendzone exists. But it doesn't exist. So I broke character and read a news article today, editorial, on the shutting down of 'Nice Guys of OkCupid' mmmtopical.

One common characteristic of these 'nice guys' was a complaint about always being friendzoned. The editorial wasn't really enlightening to me, because my brother whom I outsource all my internet trawling to had told me about it, and the write up quoted by the editorial I actually read which is a way better read than anything I will write:

I just want to say to anybody who laments the 'friendzone' and subscribes to it's existence as some tangible, plausible object -

Fuck you.

Get over it.

The article linked establishes the gender bias in the very concept, and I agree in terms of the complaint. But if I think about the practical 'existence' or circumstances under which 'friend-zone' occurs, I feel following on from the principal of 'we are what we do' post a couple of days ago - I would 'friend-zone' far more often than I am 'friend-zoned', I am 'friend-zoned' in fact kind of never, I'm generally rejected. All the girls I like know I like them, some are in long term relationships or married.

Most of them I would describe as my best friends, and certainly the people I am most capable of being comforted by just by their sheer presence.

And yet, I have aspirations to be a 'Nice guy' amongst other things, to be kind and supportive, to invest my energy and attention in people, to go out of my way to do favors, buy them thoughtful presents or even a beer or lunch or some shit. The thing is, that if I have any angst about my aspirations to 'nice-guy' status, it's that it frustrates my love life because it would be hard for somebody I like to determine they are getting special treatment.

Because if you are 'nice' as in kind, you can't actually target that trait, you can't be a nice-guy or girl for one person and treat everyone else like shit, or less flatteringly, with indifference.

The above article does allude to the fact that women are denied the equivalent complaint of the 'friendzone' though I would say that as much as it can be said to exist for men, it can said to exist for women.

Because what is it? It's a sustained relationship in which one person is interested in physical partnership and the other isn't. And reasons aside, it is sustained.

Because a relationship, by western and modern western standards is required to be consensual it requires what Economists call a 'double coincidence of wants' which is a limitation of the direct trade system - you can only exchange your eggs for milk if the person with milk wants your eggs. So too with relationships - you can only have them if you want them if they want you too.

Like trade, if you have money and all you really want is sex - just trade money for sex. If you don't just want sex or it isn't really important to you, then here's the good news:

In any relationship you are going to spend most of your time engaged in the act of talking, it'll be like 80% of the relationship, over a long term relationship, probably more. If you are lingering in the 'friendzone' you are getting 80% of the relationship you desire anyway.

Here's more good news. Jealousy is perfectly natural, and it's just a feeling and it is non-lethal and so too is the grief or periods of sadness felt that accompany rejection - in the words of somebody, probably the fucking bard - 'this too shall pass'.

Being in a physically intimate relationship is also not likely to absolve you of jealousy or sadness, nor have the transformative effect on your life that you desire.

I had three years of intimacy and daily contact with one of my best friends in the world now, and it ended. Our relationship is so much better now, and I hope we are both better for the years we spent together. We had a lot of great sex (by my recollection anyway) in that time, and yet...

Yet I would look at other women and contemplate being with them. I would come home from my dissatisfying work and be mean to my girlfriend and be angry and frustrated at all the shit I couldn't handle in my own life and didn't even understand lacking the life experience and what not that I wasn't angry or dissatisfied with my relationship, but my job and career prospects, my health, diet, fitness, friendship circle, insular world and how I spent my evenings.

Really the one redeaming feature of my life in those years was that I had a really cool girlfriend.

All my girlfriends have been really, really cool. I've been really lucky to have dated a bunch of incredible women that have behavioural traits that are positive but not commonly found in the general population.

And they are just about the only people I have dated, the rest... I think about and enjoy their company, I converse with them, invest in them and their hopes and dreams and aspirations. But I don't want to let them into my personal world, to share my company in my private spaces - the rest of woman kind to me are just friends.

If any accused me of misleading them or being a vagina-tease or being vague about my feelings for them or whatever, (they never do) my rebuttal would be to ask why they hadn't bothered to ask me out. While I personally wouldn't mind the pre-emptive rejection, I feel a minority of people would accept me practicing them.

I've been asked out by a girl (unambigously enough for me to tell I was being asked out) 3 times, but (and I find it surprising to myself) most of my relationships I have done the asking, been the initiator (that really doesn't seem right to me, but my finger counting doesn't lie) the point being that A) my life is evidence that girls can ask out guys. B) the 'social contract' or stereotype that guys ask out girls, probably persists.

But here's the thing, I think the number of women any nice guy, or even douchebag arsehole has hanging around that want more from him than he is willing to give them is probably going to outweigh the number of women 'friendzoning' him, because a number of women (perplexingly to me) won't ever assume the risk of asking out, thus the practice of fawning but spurned women must greatly outweigh those complaining men.

Largely because a larger proportion of men, will assume the risk, and speaking from experience the devastating risk and fear of ruining not just one friendship but a bunch of proximate friendships by asking out the person they desire and accepting that that gamble has a downside.

So the friendzone is a farce, if they are scared of ruining the friendship, it means in truthful terms that the imagined payoff is not as valuable as the certain status quo. Furthermore, it is also a farce because - people routinely describe their partners as 'my best friend'. Thirdmost, if the situation was reversed you wouldn't have it any other way. You don't want to be with somebody on the simple (and lazy) basis of the person who is kindest to you.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Convergent Inspiration

 Yesterday everything reminded me of Mike Patton. Notably this interview which managed to crop up on my facebook newsfeed after months of fb not letting me see any of the content I'm actually interested in:

Reading about one of your idols is interesting, I mean the man will have a lot of fans, and many of those fans will be fans because they choose to relate to the man. I am sure I am no exception, but this was the first interview where I heard about his approach - and just generally we are the same, and again I'm sure a lot of people are.

But stuff like this:
And this is what I love about small-town bands or musicians. They gotta work hard to be inspired. There were no venues when I lived there. There was a bar and grill that played blues. There was a bowling alley for, like, five minutes. We would pool together money and rent out a grange hall, like an Elks Lodge type of place. We’d buy the insurance and put on a show. A few hundred people would show up and we’d be happy.

BLVR: How often do you think you’ve failed?

MP: Oh, all the time.

BLVR: Looking back, do you see mistakes in the music you’ve made?

MP: I have a hard time listening to my own music. Like, if you put on my record I’d just start cringing right now. Not because, you know, I’m Mr. Shy or anything, it’s because if I really were to sit down and listen, I hear the mistakes. You don’t hear the good things. But that’s changed a little recently. When you get older, you let go a little more. When Faith No More did a reunion tour, I had to relearn all the stuff I wrote when I was nineteen. And I actually heard more good things than I remembered. It made the entire thing really pleasant, like a homecoming.

BLVR: And then with a group like Moonchild, which is also with Zorn, is there written music?


MP: In theory, yes. But—

BLVR: But you’re not much of a music reader.

MP: No. Zero. I don’t read anything. But Moonchild is a specific thing. Normally, most of Zorn’s projects are very written and very structured—apart from this “Cobra” stuff—but Moonchild, when he started it, the way that he described it to me was that he wanted to use the oral tradition of rock music. He’s like, “I want to do it the way that you guys do it.” I’m like, “What do you mean, the way we do it?” He’s like, “The way you, like, hum each other a riff and then you jam it out for a while, and then you record it.” That’s normal for me. But for him that’s exotic.

BLVR: A lot of your recent music is specifically for film, but your whole career has cinematic influences, from direct references to covers to borrowing techniques from film scores. Would you say you think about music in a visual way?


MP: Absolutely. I mean, with pretty much every musical situation that I’ve been in, like Faith No More, especially, we always would say, “Picture Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas.” And we’d use moments like that. Or the pistol-whipping scene in Goodfellas. I recorded just a few weeks ago with Zorn, and we were kind of trying to come up with a vocal approach to a certain piece, and I said to him, “I’m kind of hearing, like, the narrator in Alphaville.” You know that Godard movie where he’s had his throat blown out in war so he’s got one of those electronic ones? And Zorn’s like, “Perfect!” So it’s a point of reference that you can use. Instead of saying, “Hey, a quarter note here and an eighth note there and a minor seventh…” No. To me it works much better to say, “Now picture this.”
Before I just go reproduce the whole article though, there was plenty of stuff that was different between Mike's methods and processes and mine. Obviously the biggest difference is that at the age of 19 Patton had achieved more than I am likely to in my whole career, but otherstuff like listening to music on shuffle, and yet other stuff was not different but just things articulated I never thought about before, like the approach the performer takes to the audience.

Anyway it's a great article go read it, apart from the token indie interview where they transcribe the subject going to the toilet or eating a hamburger or whatever...

Then while waiting to meet a friend on Gertrude and Smith I ducked into a record store and found a composer series CD that literally leaped out at me from the rack by Mike Patton.

Then when popping in on another friend afterwards I wound up watching a spanish band that had featured on the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction, and it was totally that, that Sergio Leone feeling of watching a film in your head as the music played.


Monday, January 07, 2013

We Are What We Do

Poeple also need to look at the way they are living with an eye to change. We are always talking about what we want, what we intend. These are dreams and wishes and are of little value in changing our mood. We are not what we think, or what we say, or how we feel. We are what we do. Conversely, in judging other people we need to pay attention not to what they promise but how they behave.
An excerpt from one of three books I read last year, 'Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart' that as a self help book I'm taking a risk on drawing quotes from it for my forthcoming action comic. I don't know if the two will go together, but hey. hmmm...

Bodhidharma sits down with some important Chinese prince or emperor or whatever, and the important dude asks Bodhidharma 'what's the secret to life?' or something and Bodhidharma says 'Don't do evil, do good.' and the important guy get's all eyebrow condescending and is like 'even a child knows that!' and Bodhidharma says 'then why can't you do it?'


Ideals are great, and self-examination and self contemplation are important developmental pursuits in the pursuit of happiness, just as strategising sessions are important to an organisation in a competitive world where resources are scarce. But strategy is the fun part, just as self-contemplation is. What get's rewarded in life are those that can actually implement a strategy, and those that upon contemplating their ideals translate it into effective behaviour.

But most can't even see the disconnect between who they think they are and who they are. Less so now that I work with young vibrant people, but when I had a more diverse workplace age wise there was plenty of misery to be observed in people that felt underappreciated and kicked in the teeth by life because who they thought they were and who they were didn't line up.

An obvious disconnect is between people who think they work hard but don't. This can be quite objective. Somebody has a job description, with quite measurable outputs, and much as they think they work hard (perhaps because their life is hard and they don't enjoy what they do) they don't actually produce much. It's incredibly common.

And these people feel under-appreciated when they don't get a bump in the pay packet from the boss. And appreciation is another more generally applicable example of the disconnect between who we think we are and what we do - aka who we are.

Is there somebody you truly appreciate? Now think of the last time you felt truly appreciated. Is there a difference in the effort exerted to make you feel appreciated and the effort you exert when you feel you appreciate somebody?

When you look out at all the people you know and count the ones that truly appreciate you, it will generally be based on some evidence, some behaviour that drew you to the conclusion. And yet, having access to your own internal thoughts, you probably feel like you appreciate some proportion of your friends approachng 100%. But if people don't feel appreciated can they reasonably conclude that they aren't?

I say yes. That's my verdict.

Think now, if you feel you love somebody, then intentionally hurt them (cheating, physical abuse, emotional abuse, economic deprevation... etc) do you love them? I would hope that question is rhetorical - the answer if you are struggling is 'no'.

No you don't, despite the long standing tradition of spousal abuse, domestic abuse and talking about your mother to your psychologist. The societal norm is what leads us to advise people 'if he really loved you he wouldn't have cheated on you.' etc.

And if you were really an artist you would produce art. And if you were really a writer you would write. And of course the first step is providing evidence to yourself, and in the case of a visual artist this might take a month to finish a piece, in the case of a writer it may take decades to finish a manuscript, but at some point you then have to go providing evidence to other people - they need some evidence to conclude you are an artist/writer/architect/investor/kind person or whatever else you claim to be or are convinced you are.

Thats all.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

The Spectrum in Self-Contemplation

Yesterday I was walking to the supermarket in an attempt to buy salad and as I was crossing high street, I looked up at a car that had poor slow-to-a-stop technique. I was suddenly hit with the idea that at some point I should write something about somebody whom I truly don't understand - namely the driver of the little hatch-back.

I've worked with this kind of person before, and I never spent much time contemplating them, firstly the number one thing that ensures somebody doesn't gain my attention is in abundance - complete inoffensiveness, non-threatening. Part of the reason I can't relate to them at all is because we simply are not competing for the same things in life.

I don't even know how to describe them. I'll try.

An overweight mid-30s to middle aged woman, 'settled' into a steady job they commute to daily, collects 'nice things', drives a hatchback, does or doesn't have a family, independent life non-descript, wheres makeup and makes effort to look inoffensive.

And I should say the term 'inoffensive' I employ somewhat paradoxically, I find nothing more offensive or unenjoyable than the inoffensive. To me a fundamental aspect of 'character' is that it is committed, and therefore devisive.

Anyway, in the moments I contemplated her life and what story could possibly be written about her, (one may note, they almost never are unless she is a device employed by the author to facilitate meeting a bunch of people much more interesting than her). But it is fascinating, I have only interracted with such when my workplace has thrown me together with them.

For example, one would be tempted looking at the careers they occupy, to label them as 'unambitious' but it's not that is it? More commonly my impression was that nobody had ever taught them to be ambitious. Conversations of this 'archetype' that I have overheard often leave me with the impression that the world is preventing them from having all the things they want in life (and the deck is stacked against women whom are past their prime reproductive age and peak attractiveness) like a victim of a conspiracy.

The conspiracy exists, it's just an unconscious one. For example, you will often hear a complaint like 'well because he [the boss] is a sexist pig, managements just an old boys club.' which is usually a factual observation of the gender make-up of management, but my point being the complaint is never 'my father never taught me how to shake hands properly, he also didn't teach me to apply makeup.' eg. the ambition is never taught.

So already I can't relate to how this character archetype winds up in their circumstances, and while I find it hard to concieve of say their group of friends meeting up in their downtime, and where and why they would want to do that, when I populate their working world I get back into familiar territory.

Who do they work with? Well, some young punk like me. Am I an ally in their story or an antogonist? Probably an antogonist I thought, from her perspective I would have been the heir apparant to the old-boys club, with resources being shovelled at me, and here comes the cruel failure of the thought experiment/creative exercise.

I never thought of myself as an antagonist before, but from her perspective I'm probably a smart-arse, domineering, cut-throat, conniving, manipulative ladder climber, as young ambitious men everywhere tend to be in offices. Because otherwise there is no point to being in that office, young men don't have mortgages to pay or young ones to look after. They seek intellectual stimulation, games to play.

And from my perspective she the focus of this story I'm trying to tell is just in the margins, politically uninfluential, in a position of low-value therefore high performance or low performance is irrelevant.

But where the young man archetype may be the antagonist in the story of the stagnant-career-middle-aged woman archetype's story, she would barely rate a mention from the reverse perspective.

This seems cruel to me.

'Antagonist' to me implies an active sense of antagonism, the young man archetype is simply a representative of a world denied to our protagonist, she is in fact as irrelevant to him as he is irrelevant to her current circumstances. Who then? The boss that calls her in and asks her to file some shit? Or emails her a press release? That does her semi-annual pay review and decides her work is not worth any more than it was before?

Again, I can see how boss (male or female) could be the antagonist, infact having the female boss and reinforcing from a female direct-reports perspective that sexist reality that women in authority have to worry about being liked, elsewise they are inevitably seen as a bitch could be interesting. But again, not dishing out a pay rise to somebody whose job statically contributes value (as in our protagonist may work 'hard' but not get any better at her work, nor does her work become any more important) is simple economics, it's what a boss is supposed to do, in order to do their job.

And the fact that the boss only delegates work like filing, press releases etc. I mean there's a possibility she could delgate more of our protagonist is an admin, or logistics assistant, or public relations officer, or accounts recievable, or the lunch lady. But so what? So their boss does too much work that they could delegate down the line? That makes the boss mediocre, not an antagonist.

And perhaps that's another key to understanding, our protagonist actually lives in a world where nobody is consciously antagonising them. There story doesn't get told because the antagonists they needed to overcome did their damage way earlier in life. The parents that reinforced the traditional gender roles while in a misguided modesty would always talk about how 'simple' 'plain' or 'dumb as a stump' they were, creating a self identity in their child that they were not intended for great things.

The antagonist is whoever, whoever taught a mode of thinking that equates to 'life happens to you, arseholes are everywhere, the rich get richer...'

This character is not my antithesis as such, my antithesis is actually pretty easy for me to contemplate, and also intrinsically fascinating. This character simply exists on a part of the spectrum that I don't find interesting, and rarely contemplate.

Her story is hard to tell because it lacks any catalyst for change to remain true. For me to simply take this characters circumstances and write the story of what I'd do if I woke up in her life, that would be cheating. The point is she doesn't suddenly wake up with the initiative to change her world for the better, and start acting like the young man a couple of desks across from her, eventually using her wisdom and non-threatening status to outwit his brash overconfidence.

Because that would be cheating, the point of her story is that she just grinds out her existence, seeking relief where she can in the usual ways - watching movies and tv shows she likes, hanging out with friends, eating nice food and buying nice things. And eventually she gets some respite from the unsatisfying job, and I don't know, lives out the rest of her days as pleasantly as she can, not dwelling on all the years she gave to a job she disliked etc.

I don't know if that is her story, I don't know how to tell it if it is. But it is at least useful for me to try and imagine her life, and how my own life appears through her lens, be it a fair representation or not. And I guess if you want to be true to the narrative you can't defend yourself when you pop-up in somebody else's perspective.

Anyway, be careful crossing the road.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Because He's A Good Guy At Sports

This post rather than being about sports, is about people who dislike sports, it is about you the person whom upon reading this sentence decides not to read this post under the presumption that it is about sports and there is nothing less you want to read about in the world but sports.

Because chances are once or twice or perhaps even semi-frequently you have been surprised at just who is into sports.


And each of these surprising interpersonal transactions was an opportunity to say to yourself 'perhaps there is something more to sports than I assumed.' and thus discover that there is indeed more to sports than one assumes. Perhaps.

Perhaps not.

For me it was watching Seinfeld as a child in the 90's, there's an episode where Jerry asks Peterman, Elaine's boss 'So do you like sports?' and later excuses himself from the dinner leaving George behind. Later it cuts to Jerry sitting on his couch eating a bowl of cereal and the TV announces 'don't you just love sports' and Jerry does a triumphant fist pump in the air.

For me, that was when I was like 'wait an unathletic comedian loves sports?' I had assumed that comedians liked world events, news and shit.

I would point out that I liked sports at the time, just not team sports, or sports that involved coordination. I was a runner. But that episode really opened up for me, the world of sport was one anybody could live in.

And I think about sports a lot, when not thinking about loved ones, I generally think about the NBA. The NBA is like the Tardis to me, it is a world, a universe that despite being contained entirely within our world our universe seems somehow larger on the inside. A world and universe of its own, as rich and complex and that somehow through observing it, it can unlock the secrets to my own existence, my own world.

To you this may sound like complete and utter bullshit. The stereotype persists that sport is for moronic neandertals, and yet, I am willing to bet money that if you subscribe to this belief, you will still come across philosophy professors at MIT that surprise you about being more concerned about the NBA playoffs, or World Series, or Super Bowl than they are with the latest publication on moral reasoning (or whatever the fuck it is philosophers think about when not thinking about sports).

I could at length go on about how wonderful and magical the NBA is. But I sense intuitively this is the wrong tack to take.

Instead some observations:

1. Sport is incredibly complex, it possesses so many variables that it is a collossal intellectual undertaking for those who would do it professionally. I am not talking about the collossal intellect of players of which the exceptions are many, but of coaches and management whom better reflect the sport fanatic fanbase than the athletes themselves do. You will never see two live sporting matches the same, due to the element of competition. Nobody. Nobody can anticipate what will happen on the field/court and yet, anticipation has its rewards and one endeavors for the holy grail of control. Sport thus, is more reliably improvisational than Jazz, although it offers the full spectrum between 'greatest-moments-of-your-life' type executions to the boring games where one team is simply and thoroughly outclassed.

2. The world of professional sports is one where virtually no progress has been made at bridging the gender divide. The gender composition of boardrooms has tipped more in favor of equality than the gender division in professional sports. The Grand Slam circuit is probably the only place where women occupy equal footing to men in terms of public adoration. Team sports are all still a man's world. And this is perhaps an oft overlooked by the lay person source of much male privelege. Women's role models in terms of newstand space (and tumblr content) now more or less literally models, and then musicians, a field dominated by pop, and pop remaining an industry where a model + autotune will trump a girl with nothing to trade on but raw musical talent.

3. Following on, sport is in some way a substitute for war. Many sports fanatacs mouth cliches like 'sport is my religion' etc. but cliches tend to exist for a reason. If an athiest were to attend church services, it would be the sporting stadium. Life frustrates us with it's meaninglessness, sport educates us that we can define the meaning of our own existence. Sport cannot truly be enjoyed until you take a risk on it, get yourself emotionally invested (I have also heard getting financially invested also helps), but where once I would have dismissed sport arbitrarily on its meaninglessness (a guy hitting a ball so he can run up and down a length of grass without having that ball knock over a set of sticks, five guys running up and down a wooden floor trying to put a rubber ball through an elevated basket, a bunch of guys trying to scoop up and kick a ball down a field to try and place it between two big sticks etc.) I would now say it is its most redeaming feature. You can wage something as powerful as war over something as meaningless as trophies, medallions and rings. People are brought to tears over this stuff, achieve despair over this stuff, have the best sex of their lives over this stuff. Sport is powerful if you possess the imagination and feeling.

4. The 'warfare' waged, the conflict and improvisation are rich metaphor for existing in a world where resources are scarce. There is so much to be learned and adapted by watching the microcosm of sport that if it remains male dominated, not just in players but in its fanbase, then so too shall the world. Greek Antiquity had the olympics, the Roman Empire had the collosseum and circus, the Monghols had their hunting, the Japanese had sumo, archery and the martial arts. Nietzsche wrote in The Genealogy of Morals his sweeping observation that there were two broad moral codes observed in the world. Those in charge generally had a 'warrior code' of ethics that extolled virtues like courage, loyalty, honesty... the glorious lion was the ideal. And then he had the losers codes, the ethics that arise from oppression - I don't still have the books but he described it as extolling everything contrary to the oppressor as a virtue - we are the lamb and the lion is our oppressor. Therefore everything lamb like is good and everything lion like evil.
From what I have observed in life, this code I would more likely describe as victim mentality, things happen to you. It isn't your fault it is your oppressors. And there are certainly times when we are victims of shit that is beyond our control, but shit beyond our control is not worth worrying about by definition. Sport I feel conveys this earlier set of morals that teach personal accountability, choice and responsibility, risk taking.

5. Sport contrary to popular belief, if closely observed teaches you that winning isn't everything. This weekend I watched the first TV I have watched in months and it was the story of the 1998 Denver Broncos repeat championship. As told by three of the players on that team. You realise watching their story what most sportsfans know, no sport ever avoids being a mindgame. They described the 1998 superbowl as the worst game you could play, if you won you did what everybody expected of you, if you lost you were tragic failures. They described winning the 1998 superbowl as pure exhaustion, but the 1997 superbowl as jubilation. Furthermore, I have watched some of the 'best teams' in history simply outclass the competition and win by large margins. These generally make for low points in their respective games. While you admire how well oiled the machine can become, and the onus is on the competition to lift their game to the new world standard, what fans and athletes alike always seek is a contest. A hard fought win is worth something, a one sided win is borderline meaningless.
Champions seek out champions, people want to be tested, want to be pushed. High performers are motivated by the presence of high performers, stars want other stars on their team and they look forward to the games where they face other stars. People in sports and out generally just want to reach higher and higher peaks of their own capability, want to be tested. Those who dominate crave nothing more in life than to be dominated, outmatched and outclassed on the highest level they can achieve.

6. The athleticism is spectacular, it is a kind of random dance. Not all sports are equal, for me it is the NBA for most it is soccer, but there will be a sport just for you.