Sammy the Seal

Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Time management

In Uncategorized on Monday, 30 March, 2009 at 23:55

I just realized that for every lengthy post like that, I could have done some real writing. I suppose I’m happy I’m even writing, but still. What I put into pontificating I could be more subtly and artfully infusing into a story or idea. I mean, in the end, one will be entertaining and expansive, the other a quaint little piece of insular, contained personal notes. Hmm…


Snob talk

In celluloid, funny ha ha, words, words, words on Monday, 30 March, 2009 at 20:04

Rather than have either an endless post, or a one-liner, I transcribed something and gave it its own page but am commenting here. The following to be read after you read the transcript.

I include the part about prefacing statements because it’s funny, but mainly because I tend to preface myself so much. While not so bitter towards acting, I wholehearedly agree with Jerry’s assessment that comedy, and by extension, writing, is wholly underappreciated. His implicit indictment of feelings, or at least, the emphasis on emotion, is correct, in my opinion. It’s easier to get someone to feel than to laugh. Objectively, emoting is a selfish act, whereas comedy, at its best, incorporates both the emotional or mundane, and the intellectual. What separates humans from animals are the abilities to emote and reason, making comedy, in my opinion, the purer and more human art form. If nothing else, it serves to lighten people up. (Hey, it’s healthier to laugh than to have breakdowns.) I in no way am saying I dislike drama or emotion, I’m just saying I have far more respect for comedy. If I think of my favorite movies, they all contain genuinely comedic and dramatic elements. I’ve always been a fan of balance. (That being said, Garry is right with his assessment of the core “need to be seen”. Artists are pretty dysfunctional people :-)) But I agree, Jerry— here’s to less yawning chasms of insecurity.

One other point, that Jerry didn’t go into really, was writing. I didn’t know too many details about the writers’ strike, but I definitely knew which side I was on. I am very democratic, and would never argue that one person is better than another, because if you’ve been part of any production process, you know how collaborative it is, but I’m sorry, folks, you can’t do shit without a script or an idea. I can’t think of anything more daunting and impressive than creating something out of nothing (which is also why I have the utmost respect for improvisation). That, and I just hate how actors are treated like hot shit, even though in many cases, they’re interchangeable. The writers, designers, and artisans (and to an extent, directors) create an entire world before the actor ever gets near it. (Honestly, like the previous paragraph, I have nothing against actors. That’s just college drama department experience talking.) I just think there are too many things and people in this world that go unappreciated, and these are just a couple of them. But maybe I pay attention to stuff too much.

Drink Me, Alice

In Uncategorized on Monday, 23 March, 2009 at 1:40

This one’s actually pretty interesting, moreso than one I took on f.b.

Which Biological Molecule Are You?

Which biological molecule are you?

You are water. You’re not really organic; you’re neither acidic nor basic, yet you’re an acid and a base at the same time. You’re strong willed and opinionated, but relaxed and ready to flow. So while you often seem worthless, without you, everything would just not work. People should definitely drink more of you every day.

Lost little kid

In Uncategorized on Friday, 20 March, 2009 at 19:38

An interesting little email exchange that got me a little choked up today.

Sam: “I had a strange question, but the whole umbilical cord story at my birth, is that true? How about my memorizing of license plates? I always accepted them, but then realized maybe you or mom were just propagating some myth about me… I hate to sound so cynical or revisionist, but in recent years mom has come up with some weird stuff about me…”

Pops: “yes, the story of the umbilical cord is true. i was there for the whole thing. it was an experience to remember. the memorizing license plates was one of my favorite memories of you as a small child. you were so amazing as a small child. there was no reason to exaggerate. there are a lot of other stories about you just as interesting. i don’t know if i’ve ever really sat down with and told you all i remember about you when you were small. it makes for some interesting stories.”
What ever happened to that boy? Somewhere in here still, I hope.

I’m moody

In Uncategorized on Tuesday, 10 March, 2009 at 15:41

Ha ha, I figured out why there was all this nonsense. Like many people, I’m prone to frustration. I need to wear a button, I think, to remind people to shrug me off and not take me too seriously. Especially when blogging for paragraphs on end.

The old-timey good place

In funny ha ha on Tuesday, 10 March, 2009 at 3:06

Can you tell I’m in a better mood? Anyway, this is one of David Cross’ finest performances in any Mr. Show sketch as beleaguered grocer Len Gibbons, but more specifically, he delivers for my money what has to be one of the finest, most perfect line readings in all recorded history. (Hint: it has to to with squash.)

“People say what reflects well on them”

In words, words, words on Monday, 9 March, 2009 at 16:23

Sadly, a quote that I couldn’t fulfill if my life depended on it. For better or worse, I tend to say what I think or feel. This lack of restraint is my nature, it  is independent of any person or situation. All I can do is hope people take it for what it is, and allow for a little slack. When I wrote about May I talked about how people like to fancy themselves “nerdy” or “different” in some way, which is fine, but I like to think if we’re serious when we say that, we make allowances for other people’s differences and behavior (especially if it’s an aberration), if only because by addressing ourselves as “different” we acknowledge our own imperfections or “weirdness.”  Anything else is self-stigmatization, and personally, that’s not my game. Played the whole “boohoo why can’t people see past my insecurities for the real me” self-pity shit in my early-to-mid 20s, before realizing how ugly, delusional, and, ultimately, unattractive it is. The whole thing about “think highly of yourself, the world will take you at your own estimate”— if that’s what you think of yourself, no one’s going to debate your expert opinion, so don’t be so hard on yourself. I think it’s what helps me to be compassionate, though misguided sometimes.

If this sounds defensive, well, gee, let me give you a cookie for being so perceptive. All kidding aside, it’s very frustrating to try to watch where I falter and still have people back off, as if any of us are perfect. Being a real nerd is not being afraid to show your “warts”. It’s not all quirks and cutesiness.  Recent events to the contrary, this is a longstanding issue, going all the way back to 2005 when a former friend disassociated herself from me by stating, in her own words, “you’ve been acting a bit weird lately.” How is that not some form of hypocrisy? I’m not perfect, but I try to not let my misperceptions and insecurities inform how I deal with people. I’m aware that I am open to a fault, but try to allow for certain circumstances and understand where a person might be coming from. At most, I talk or vent to myself or, infrequently, to my roommate.

Not to say I’m oblivious— actually, I’m quite aware I put my foot in my mouth. And every time, I try to explain myself, because I somewhat selfishly think it matters that the other person understands my intent, and maybe, I’ll get the benefit of the doubt. Of course, we can’t control how other people see us any more than we can effectively scratch our own backs— sometimes it’s easy to get to, sometimes you just can’t reach far enough and so wait it out. There is a quote about this, something along the lines of “you see the world you want to see”— meaning we’re all delusional and self-serving, I suppose. Optimistic, pessimistic, angry, paranoid, fatalistic, free-spirited, caged, bitter, etc. Personally, it’s a quote that I’m trying to disprove. Trying to look at people and the world through non-Sam-tinted glasses more often, in effect.  So if somehow this comes across as mopey or whiny (shame on you, interpretating me before I can defend myself!), it shouldn’t. Try to think about it, it’s confusing when you try to be sincerely decent, or apologetic, or respectful, and your intentions still get twisted. Or you fuck up once, and somehow that defines you. I guess how the bad is always news, and the good goes unheralded— way of the world, I suppose.

I’m not bitter. I’m pained, but I’m not bitter. All I can do is be patient, and try to be more decent and thoughtful, but hope people allow for my stumbles. If nothing else, I learned this weekend that I have at least three truly decent people in my life. People that somehow manage to care just enough to not take me too personally. I like to think they understand that we’re only ourselves, maybe we should cut each other some slack. I’m not ashamed to top this off  with a long lost Buffy line: “to forgive is an act of compassion. It’s not done because people deserve it, it’s done because they need it.” (Yes, I used to be a Buffy nerd. I will never deny who I am or was.)

Biomusicology (sort of)

In vinyl, words, words, words on Friday, 6 March, 2009 at 12:13

The concept, not the Ted Leo song, although that’s certainly a good example of the point I hope to make. Rather than keep replying to Lisa’s comment, I thought I’d clarify it here. (I know you weren’t trying to start a ruckus, but nonetheless, you got me thinking.)

I didn’t mean to piss off any poets or lovers of poetry, I meant to emphasize that while I love words, it is music that gives them their meaning. I mean, what’s more fun, singing and humming, or reciting? Lyrics without music are just words, poetry. Most of the time (though not all), esepcially these days, poetry/lyrics are personal or idiosyncratic— in effect, “this is what I’m thinking or feeling.” Ironically, this strikes even me, the king, as self-important. Reading a little about the concept of biomusicology, but not too much, as not to stay up all night, I came across an interesting perspective. It appears it comes from the New York Times a few years back:

But music has a power unique among forms of human communication: it can teach itself. Gradually over repeated hearings, without the use of a dictionary or any reference to the world outside, music shows how it is to be understood. The listener begins to hear patterns, repeated motifs and changes in meter and realizes that something is happening, that sounds have punctuation, that phrases are being manipulated, transformed and recombined.
Gradually, the listener gains a form of knowledge without ever referring to anything outside the music. Sounds create their own context. They begin to make sense. Similar processes with varying richness and power take place in all forms of music, which is why it is much easier to understand another culture’s music than another culture’s language.
Nothing else is quite like this self-contained, self-teaching world. Music may be the ultimate self-revealing code; it can be comprehended in a locked room.

Anyway, enough nerdspeak. I will certainly not deny that lyrical content is important, but think of any classic pop song from the 50s or 60s, especially. When you examine the lyrics, they’re rather innocuous and inane. But they’re timeless. We remember the words only because they belong to the melody. Music is its own independent entity. Granted, it takes a special, gifted person to compose and arrange music into singular and interesting permutations, but once it’s done, the song no longer needs the songwriter, so to speak.  “Okay, sir/ma’am, your job is done, thank you for your services.” Even though I am a fan of Dr. Frank’s writing style, it would be useless and uninteresting without his ability to compose and arrange melodies to carry them. Even though I have particular favorite artists, they’re all just hired hands, if you think about it.

I love words and writing, so it must be noted, of course, that I’m speaking of words in lyrical form. Words in prose or story form, are entirely different. But in the same sense, they serve to tell a story. Words alone, with no direction, are inherently self-centered. They are merely an extension of the writer. But put those words to use towards a song, story, or character, then they can suggest something beyond the person they came out of.

It knows nothing about me, and yet, my little peabrain is soothed or calmed by it. (That’s the main thrust of the article, by the way, the biological and neurological mechanisms of music.) In the spirit of the topic at hand, this is the long, confusing way of saying I love music. Why am I a very musical person? I have no idea. It’s in my blood, I don’t question it. It’s a hell of a blessing, when you think about it: whatever state we’re in at any given moment, it gets us out of our worrisome little heads and into a realm where you don’t have to think or ask why, because certain things, thank goodness, make sense of themselves. They just do.

(Thank you to Lisa, who inadvertently helped me get excited about writing this piece of meandering hoo-ha that no one cares about, I’m sure, BUT at least I’m out of my dramatic boo-hoo-ey little funk I was in the last couple of days. I always find the most effective way to calm down is to get out of your little head and think of something or one outside yourself. The perspective that comes with realizing how self-involved you are is utterly, genuinely liberating. It doesn’t solve my issues, but it makes it far easier to deal with. Reminds of two quotes, one attributed to Marcus Aurelius: “take away the complaint ‘I have been harmed’ and the harm is taken away.” Or to put it Björk’s way: “I’m no fucking Buddhist, but this is enlightenment.” No offense, Lise, I think that’s a funny line 😛 Grazie, dear.)

Self-reflection + insecurity = The Mr. T Experience

In vinyl on Thursday, 5 March, 2009 at 21:22

(Note: I’m trying to find a way to put the 1st song on here to hear to do the song more justice.)
Don’t let the mean little swear word put you off, “Fucked Up on Life”, like “Shut I Am Dreaming of Place Where Lovers Have Wings”, is one of the most absolutely beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, but for the opposite reason. Because it is personal, insecure, and heart-on-the-sleeve. And yet, the music is buoyant, the melodies plentiful. Listen to these songs (if you can find them), the music is a perfect counterpoint to the lyrical content (much as Elizabeth Elmore’s voice was to the things she sang about in the band Sarge). The last 1:30 of this song is everything a coda should be. Stunning, leaves me breathless every time.

I don’t have many friends
Just some pretty loose and dead ends
Even one can be
A bit much for me
And they call me but I never end up calling them back
They lose patience as I lose track
I don’t care any more
If I ever did before
But I’m not really paying attention
People say what reflects well on them
Everyone’s lying like rugs
And everyone thinks I’m on drugs
But I’m just fucked up on life

‘Cause it doesn’t add up and I never know what should be done
I know I’m far from the only one
I stay out of the fray
I figure I do less damage that way
I’m outstanding in my field and all I ever wanna do is just get plowed
I always feel outnumbered in a crowd
And if the truth be known,
I feel outnumbered when I’m all alone
If you’re wondering why there’s no affect
when I speak, when you look in my eyes
I couldn’t begin to explain
I’m almost perfectly sane
But I’m just fucked up, fucked up on life

I never know what I should do or say
Whenever words fail me
I react reciprocally
I’m just fucked up on life
I’m just fucked up, fucked up on life

This one, “Everbody Knows You’re Crying”, isn’t a personal favorite, but it’s in the same vein, plus, I still don’t know whether he’s being completely dramatic and wallowy, or savagely mocking.

Everybody says you shouldn’t cry
Everybody’s standing by
And everybody’s gonna roll their eyes, if you ever do
Everybody says it’s not too late,
you can still participate
And you take everybody’s bait, and everybody laughs at you
They’ll leave you crying all alone
They’ll say they wouldn’t have, if they had only known
But you see the reality behind their indulgent stares
Everybody knows you’re crying, no one ever really cares

Everybody thinks you’re a little slow
Everyone wants you to know
They went through the same thing long ago, and it wasn’t that hard to to
Everybody says they sympathize
You stand by while they describe
Someone you don’t even recognize, that’s supposed to look like you
But they never can explain
How to live with such spectacular pain
And when you’re at your weakest, they advise you to be strong
Everybody says they’ve been there, everybody must be wrong
Everybody knows you’re crying

They send their love, and love is loud
They feel it’s greatly to their credit, and they’re proud
of their compassion, and it’s true
But it doesn’t have a lot to do with you

And you can’t escape the conclusion, though you don’t like what it was
Everybody says they love you, no one ever really does