Monday, October 31, 2016

Monthly Music 2016: October

October has been good to me. And you can find out what I've been listening to all this month here!



Most of my autumn has been about sounds that are uplifting or have a good beat. Usually I find that I drift into a much more mellow sounds in the autumn, but for the most part I've noticed this season I've preferred not to really fall into that. Maybe I just don't want to get too sleepy at work.
  1. Heartstrings by Leighton Meester 
  2. Dead Alive by The Shins 
  3. Palm Tress by SWMRS 
  4. Misused Adrenaline by Dryjacket 
  5. Wake the Sun by The Matches 
  6. Starboy by The Weeknd ft. Daft Punk 
  7. Animals by Alex & Sierra
  8. Pink-Slips by Okkervil River

What have you been listening to?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Art vs. the Artist

(Source.)

In thinking about my fellow blogging community, and how we are all intelligent men and women - people who are looking for articulate, intellectual discourse - I realized that the best way to foster that community is to continue to build it.

So, you may see the tag "brunch colloquy" with select posts now. (You can also see what's included in that tag by clicking the like-named link on the right.) Imagine being at brunch, and having a deep philosophical conversation amongst friends. What would you talk about? What would you say? How lively would you be? That is this tag.

While comments are welcome all the time, it is with these posts that I want to see the conversation happen. I want to know what you think, and I want to have a real conversation about whatever topic with you in the comments section. Please don't be shy.

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This topic is one that I've been thinking about ever since I saw Savannah Brown's YouTube video about it.

I asked Twitter first: Can you separate art from the artist? I was happy at the amount of responses I received on the thread from my friends.

Some of those responses:
"[F]or me it comes down to whether the offending message is conveyed in the art and how that message might be broadcast by me."

"Doesn't usually bother me unless I dislike them enough that I don't want to give them my money." "Yes, but it's tricky. I don't have a great system for it. I love Ender's Game, but the author is a garbage fire." 

"[L]ike you have to practice what you preach in order for your work to really mean something. if its not, its just hollow." 

"[A]bsolutely. John Lennon was a fantastic musician who helped shape the future of music. But also a wife-beating homophobe. Soooooo."
For some, the purpose of still supporting the art despite supporting the artist can depend on what the art has done/does for them or for the craft as a whole. They recognize the faults of the artist's behavior, but they know that the artists' art speaks louder than anything else. For others, there is no separation. They can not reconcile supporting the artist knowing what they've done. It just wouldn't sit well on their conscious.

In Savannah's video, she analyzes a similar response. We've all been in a position - or maybe for some of us that time hasn't come yet - when the art we have grown an identity around, or have found refuge, is derivative of an artist who may be less than perfect or ideal as a role model. And of course, just like all art, these ideas are highly subjective. Yet, when faced with this reality, it can leave one in a personal crisis: What are you supporting when you consume that art? Is it the artist's behavior and entitlement, or is it the message and intention of the art?

My friend Nathan thinks that changing your consumption based on human error can limit conversation and exposure:
"[...]I don't like the idea of ostracizing someone whose views I don't like, it's... counterproductive. [...] The only thing I don't like are people who are absolutely for or against it. Absolutes paint people into weird moral corners."
What strikes me as the most provocative of that sentiment is that it falls in line with what I've always believed: Life isn't here to placate you, it's here to challenge you.

If you live a life without exposure, how can you ever grow or learn as a person? Sure, it's not easy exposing yourself to something with which you don't agree - especially if the acts of the artist are heinous - but you also discredit another human the chance to learn themselves, by introducing them to the possibility that they could be wrong.

By exiling an artist from their audience, they lose their connection to the world. If we instead use the energy to reach out, listen to their defense, and be a teacher on both sides, perhaps the self-destructive artist can find refuge within a world they've always been distantly creating for. There are no absolutes - not with the human condition, not with art. And as it's mentioned in the video, the idea that people are inherently evil - or that all intent is malicious - is a false qualifier. There is nuance to anything that we do. Usually those who are doing something destructive aren't always aware that their intention leads to destruction.

Not all dictators enjoy evil power. From their perspective, they are doing good for the world, they are just willing to do it in a different way than others before them. Does that make them evil? Or does that make them troubled?

There is another side to the argument that Savannah raised, even: Does your answer change if the artist is dead? Think about that before you answer. At that point, where are those funds going? The foundation of the same name? The family of the artist? The manager or producer of a label or brand?

There are so many sides to this argument.

I found that I sided with Savannah in that I want to continue to absorb as much as I can for as long as I can, and so long as there isn't a direct correlation between the art and the act, I can look at the art separate from the artist. And even still, I want to understand where it's coming from rather than censor it. After all, we are never guaranteed perfection in art.

What do you think?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Healthy Living: Alarm Bells


Alarms scheduled to change.

After not really having the best week(s) keeping up with changing up my food and exercise habits, I finally had an epiphany at around 3:30 a.m. last night. 

I decided that in order to keep going down the right path, I have to do much what I have done with learning Japanese: surround myself with it to stay motivated. I ended up down a very weird rabbit hole of documentaries on Netflix while I tried to work off the soda in my system. One of those was the Crossfit Games from 2015. That in conjunction with a documentary about childhood obesity, and a group of adults who all lost 100 lbs each competing in a Ragnar Run, just got me mentally back on the right track. 

I plan on waking up early tomorrow (now that I'm sitting here exhausted at 11 p.m. for some reason), and going for my first run in a while. I fell off of that boat, and I don't know how. Somehow my routine just got shaken up enough that I was actually scared to get back into it. But for about a month there, I had been seriously trying to run, and I was going to the gym every day to build up that endurance. 

Sure, I'll have to start at square one again, but it's nice to be here. It's nice coming in with a fresh outlook and clean slate. I've even got alarms set that will remind me to do certain workout tasks. I don't know about you, but when I want to, I will swipe away a calendar event if I'm comfy enough on the couch. But an annoying alarm? By the time I'm done being annoyed, I'm halfway to whatever I need to do. 

In terms of how I'm doing with my weight: I'm actually down about 5 pounds, but I had to spend another week losing it again because my brain went crazy for food the previous weekend. I'm not sure what came over me, to be honest. I genuinely wouldn't consider myself someone who has a food addiction - I mean, I love it to pieces, from cooking to consuming, but addiction? I'm not so sure about that. It's like a switch went off in my brain that weekend that said I need to consume everything, though. 

I'm thinking what will help - in the case that this is my fault, and I am putting to much pressure on myself during the week - is giving myself motivation and positivity throughout the week, then I won't feel so compelled to go nuts on my off days. I didn't think that I was doing that to myself, but maybe if I catch it early enough, I can stop it from happening sooner. 

I didn’t really burn as hard as I envisioned today when I did workout, but sometimes you have to know when your body is telling you no. But you also need to know when to tell your body to keep going. I’m working on that second part. To make up for feeling like I didn’t work hard enough after free weights and the exercise bike, I did a set of squats and push-ups. Not much, but when I was done I could tell that my body was ready for a shower and post-stretch.

Every day this week I plan on going harder and retraining myself to take the pain. I'm not really looking to become a crossfit fanatic, but it will be cool to see where I can take myself and what I can gain from all of this. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Autumn Walks

The other day, Ariel and I decided to get up and go walk around our towns. We live on opposite sides of the country now, so the best way to do this was through Snapchat. She walked through her town, showing off the art and culture and her favorite shops, and I did the same. Snap after Snap.





When Ariel first went off to grad school in her fabulous city, I remember envying her. But the more I had to show off to her, the more it made me realize how lucky I am to be here. This town has so much life and fun in it. Even a day off turns into a little adventure, when I take the time to appreciate it.

By the way, Molly Moon's is very good. Get the honey lavender ice cream, if you go. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Healthy Living: Goals

Hey, remember that time I said I was going to start posting about trying to be healthier? Oh-ho-ho. Time got away from me, didn't it? Okay, maybe it hasn't been that long since I posted that, but in blogging-time it feels like centuries between posts sometimes.

This conceptualized post was like this nagging thing that hung in the back of my mind when I would check for comments on Blogger or check my calendar. That mental reminder only went off for about 2 seconds, and then I would forget about it again. I guess that was a subconscious measure of avoidance, though, wasn't it?

I'm not scared,  you are.


Once I've put it out there, it's out there, though.

Last winter was when I gained my weight back that I had lost before. It was rough realizing that. I even remember the exact moment, and I didn't take it well. Ever since then, it's either been a bit more of a gain or just staying at the same weight, annoyingly enough. I'm over the predictability. I've been treating my mind and spirit well, but that can easily crumble if I'm not doing my part for the rest of me, too. At the point of posting this, I'm looking at my two favorite apps: Google Fit and MyPlate, trying to figure out a solid, permanent game plan. My goal is to drop back down to 150lbs, at least, because that was a good weight for me and my body type, but my first stretch goal is a 15-pound loss.

I did pretty good - prepping my meals and eating light, and I dropped 5lbs in that first week - but then my period happened. Ho-hum. Now that it's over, though, I'm back to working hard at it. It felt nice to be seeing results on the scale as I was, but I know it won't be that easy the whole time.

I've noticed an overall change in myself, as well, though. I just don't feel well when I eat some of the more terrible things I used to eat. I feel dehydrated, greasy and groggy. I don't like feeling that way. I like having energy and feeling motivated.

It's going to be hard to balance the comfort food with the healthy meals now that we're in the colder season, but I think I'm just going to go for more light alternatives of my favorites. As I mentioned before, I will try for a weekly check-in with some yummy snapshots of the foods I ate, and a counter for how I did through tracking MyPlate and Google Fit. If you have any goals for staying fit, hit me up. Comradery is important.

Monday, October 10, 2016

私は初心者です ♡

I've always really loved Japanese culture. It may not be that hard to tell; I watched anime most of my life, used to subscribe to Shonen Jump, and have genuinely enjoyed all that I do know of the fashion and characters that make up Japanese culture. Sure, it's a completely different place than what I'm used to, and I'm sure it'd be a crazy experience being there for the first time, but I love what I do know.

Now that I live in the Pacific Northwest, I'm actually more exposed to the culture than I've ever been - actually, I'm exposed to all of Asia. We have Asian-Pacific themed stores, restaurants and entire districts devoted to the transplants who come here for work, education or just to live in America. I am surrounded by more Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese people than I ever have been. (Not counting the summers with my Korean aunt who would invite all of her Korean friends from church over for a large BBQ. Shout out to Aunt Anne.) I am also surrounded by more people who appreciate Asian cultures than I ever have been.

Stores like Daiso Japan are super popular here. When you walk in one, you see Japanese families with little kids getting groceries and toys, and then tons of other folk getting some tasty, affordable Pocky and roaming around the decor sections.




Daiso is seriously one of my favorite things and places about living here. Down the street from one of our better Daiso Japan branches is a boba milk tea shop that has a wide variety of anything from plain milk tea, boba, to even tapioca balls. It's one of our favorite places we just recently found. And in that shop there are a bunch of slightly worn (but in the best sense for a library lover here) manga lining the shelves. It's like its own little library. And they're all in the original Japanese - likely donated by the shopkeepers and friends.

I live in the state of Nintendo and international cuisine. If there was ever a place to learn Japanese, it would be here and now.

So that's what I'm going to do!

We've talked about it for a while, but Tripp and I are going to finally settle down and learn Japanese. I've downloaded some great apps to start with - that had some awesome recommendations from users on YouTube who are presently learning Japanese, themselves.

I tried to finish out my fluency in French earlier this year, but I just don't have the drive for the language. I hope no possible French readers get offended by that. In a lot of ways, I think it can be a very fun language, but I had a rough start with it in that I was kind of forced to choose one or the other, and so I never really felt like it was something that I wanted. I do intend to finish it out eventually, and pick up a few others, but right now I know that I really want to learn Japanese. I always have. My best friend, Melody, and I have talked about visiting Japan together for a decade now, and I would love to be able to do that with her and Tripp, and be able to speak the language while I'm there. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

26






Yesterday I turned 26 years old. 

I spent it seeing Julia Jacklin, Landlady and Okkervil River. I swear, I love October.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Celebrity

I wonder about celebrity. That feeling of popularity, sinking into loneliness. Where you're always surrounded, but loved for shallow reasons. All the voices of admiration and affirmation drown out into white noise and you rarely hear them anymore - they can't comfort you the way the voices think they might. Every word you say is scrutinized and pulled out of context in a way that rarely happens in ordinary life. And then it's publicized.

Recently, I've seen some celebrities, who I enjoy as people, getting upset at their level of celebrity and wanting to just desperately take a break and do something real - something that matters. I can't say that I blame them. There is so much work that can be done when you have a loud enough voice, that spending it on the fragility of celebrity - a lush lifestyle - when you could help others seems silly. But it's not so easy to pull away when it isn't always your choice, either. You sign contracts, you have management, you are a brand. I don't know... I feel like that lifestyle is much harder than people outside of it give it credit for. Audiences expect these celebrities to serve them, rather than to create, and they aren't too keen on the service ending before they are ready.



Imagine being in that position? I feel like fall is the time to reexamine these things. Maybe I'm the only one who feels that way, but at any rate, it's worth giving celebrities a break from that life. Not that anyone will listen to me.