Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fashion is Fascism!

I remember that somewhere around late middle school to early high school, back when I thought that I would actually achieve something by 25, I had this idea to write a song about how Fashion and Fascism were virtually the same. Draped in a leather trench coat, sporting hair below my waist, and mixing various shirts my mom felt flattered by rotund torso with band tees and black jeans, I suppose that I may have been the perfect awkward candidate. It was to be missal to all teenagers and twenty-somethings imprisoned in the gyves of popular culture: an anthem for those fleeing its yoke. After all, weren't the Nazis' uniforms pretty sleek? Fashion! Checkmate.

I never fit into any particular clique in high school. Sure, I listened to Metal, had long hair, and wore a trench coat; but I liked to smile, be silly, and was religious, so I didn't really fit in completely with the Freaks. I loved the Internet, books, science fiction, and fantasy; but I was horrible at science and mathematics, and didn't really play any video games except for Age of Empires and GoldenEye, so I was not a solid nerd. By the end of my high school career, I was even on good terms with the preps and suburban thugs. The assortment of kids I did hang out with were similar, having nowhere better to sit at lunch or breakfast — not so much outcasts as loose ends. In middle school, we had come to name ourselves The Reject Table, and even drafted a constitution/manifesto of sorts, at one point going so far as to exiling a member to what we called The Reject Reject Table; the high school equivalent, however, was much more amorphous and carried no such fidelity.

I saw that the multitude formed a rigid construct of darkness, writhing blinded and motionless in its own labyrinth. We imposed self-segregation, and our balkanisation had led to docility, and the docility to the devolution of civilisation. The divide was clear, but I never had any real ambitions of saving them. The goal had always been to rage forth, assaulting their groomed and manicured sensibilities with a simple plan:
  1. Form a band;
  2. Get famous;
  3. Get on an MTV awards show;
  4. Play 'Fashion Is Fascism'.
They'd laughed at me because I was different, so now I would laugh at them because they were the same! I think that 14-year old me would be stupefied as to why such a simple plan never panned out. After all, how hard could it be to get famous? But I never foresaw the obvious: that I and those like me are the punchline of the human condition.

Perhaps there was something to my angst.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I am a bibliophile. In some circles, I suppose it might be more apt to say 'bookaholic', but I'm not an idiot. My collexion of books is so vast, that I have actually taken to building towers of new purchases atop my crammed bookshelves, awaiting their inevitable collapse upon the floor in a show of cracked spines, bruised covers, and smashed pages. I cannot seem to help but amass an amateur library in my already-cluttered bedroom. Usually it is under the auspices of promising myself that I will read the new addition with some ludicrous haste, deceiving myself as to the actual length of the serpentine queue coiling the empty or flat spaces. Or perhaps I am subconsciously trying to drown myself in a sea of paper.

I could wax on about the philosophical nature of my booklust ad infinitum, but I honestly don't care. My primary concern rests not with the quenching of my mania, but rather in the conquest of scriptora incognita (also, pretentiously riddling my writ with Latin phrases). Which brings me to the whole point of this post: people like me will easily procure a vast library of books only to realise that we cannot read them all, or are far too lethargic. However, what if there were a way? What if, by some freak accident at Burning Man, the gods of fire and dishevelment were finally appeased, and granted us the ability for Osmosis? Or, say, we lived in a far nerdier universe where Mountain Dew didn't rot your teeth out, Cheetos were equivalent to vegetables, and the Matrix existed (because, let's face it, all would would have to coincide for even one to fathom theory). Anyway, I propose the theory of osmosis in connexion to acquiring the knowledge of acquired books.

The main argument here will erupt in fiction vs non-fiction. Where non-fiction is meant for the strict absorption of facts, works of fiction are crafted in a way that the reader is entertained in the progressive unveiling of plot, etc. If the work is to be acquired by osmosis, then the the intricacies of crafting are jeopardised. To be honest, this can even extend to works of creative non-fiction, like the works or Ian Mortimer or GK Chesterton, that take the time to engage the reader on serious topics that would otherwise elicit a few hundred yawns. With the contraction or development of osmosis, the efforts of countless writers will be laid to waste, as reading in and of itself will be seen as a leisure activity at best, at worst the hobby of the bourgeois. Like the internet and recording media, pure information via osmosis will single-handedly take down the entire institution of the written word, which at the current time is going an evolution from the physical to the digital.

At some point, we will have to question the relevance of wordcraft itself in a world of instantaneous knowledge. It'll be relegated to the course position of hobby, drawn up in free time and passed to a group of select deniers of progress or enthusiasts.It may even become that prestige becomes tied to reading slower, so as to somehow gain more enjoyment from the work, like sipping aged brandy. Or possibly by whatever hipsters will be called in this parallel future.

So, in the rarest of chances that somebody ever asks, that is my opinion.

Post Scriptum:
You know what? Let's throw bookahol in there, too. It might as well exist in this new dimension of wild possibilities.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Best Qualities: Carrying out Ideas

As you can all tell from the frequency of this weblog, I am a master of setting priorities and sticking to them. As a matter of fact, my original idea for this post was to just leave a blank post beneath the title; but I decided that that might be slightly too meta/pretentious/high brow, and likewise a cheap cop out. So instead, possibly months after my last post, I'm pulling together (somewhat) to lazily concoct another installation of my bland series.

Actually, that's all I've got. Sorry.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tiny Tower: What hath Man Wrought?

All I was looking for was a simple way to pass the time with my iPhone. Having neither money nor credit card, I was relegated to perusing the free apps, searching for something more than an alley cat who'll parrot your every word with a speech impediment that makes him sound like an emphysema patient. I'll admit, it's not easy when it comes to video games: most of the apps that I've downloaded are for social networking on the go (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Goodreads, etc), news, or a dictionary. If someone were to steal my iPhone and hack through the security code, they would probably pity my mega-exciting life of memorising word definitions and keeping up with archæo-linguistic discoveries while listening to reruns of WGBH Jazz Decades, and think about returning it before laughing at their foolishness and formatting my auxilliary livelihood.

Like any other normal human being, when I first got wind of Tiny Tower, I found the concept silly: isn't this just a vertical Farmville? I refused to even consider deigning such an activity. Not so much because my time is valuable (it isn't), or because I was low on space (free apps and pictures of my dog don't take up that much room), but because the mere concept of the game seemed to offend my matured tastes in digital hobby.

Ennui quickly drowned any inkling of connoisseurship and enslaved me to the pastime I once found pedestrian. I noticed that my friend had downloaded the game via the Orwellian iPhone game centre; I started remembering playing Maxis's Sim Tower and how interesting I had found it for about the span of two days. It became clear to me that by downloading this aberration, I could relive some nostalgic jiffy of time and possibly cure my first-world tedium in between actual tasks. What I was treated to was an authoritarian horror that unleashed its avaricious claws into the fabric of my daily schedule.

Upon opening the game/app, I was immediately manhandled into a tutorial with loose instructions binding me into premature failure. Somehow, I made it through by building a pizza parlour and residential apartments where my pixellated tenants could live and work as I pleased. I quickly put my first three tenants to work tossing dough and exchanging workout stories at the parlour, while the other 2/5 of my residents were scoffed at for their laziness and lack of entrepreneurial chutzpah as I constructed a second suite in which to recruit more unemployed lackeys of apparent welfare state of Tiny Town. Soon enough I finally got the hang of the game, installing a few more businesses at which I could employ my tiny wards. Then the honeymoon ended.

What I didn't realise is that the game perpetuated play into all hours of the day, whether one actively pursued it or not. Like a Poean phantasy, the constant chiming of re-stocked floors called me back to the game, groping for my iPhone in the dead of night in order to answer its lonely whimper, checking in on my sleepless 8-bit avatars. I could never be safe from this clingy application: it followed me like an incompetent stalker, uncouthly bringing attention to its loneliness any chance that I had to myself or was engrossed in another activity. It wouldn't have been so bad, had there been some end goal, some destination to which I was nearing, but it seemed that instead I had thrust myself into a never-ending cycle of construction and commerce, dragging my digital building into the heavens like some twenty-first century Tower of Babel whilst concurrently optimising the centres at which I would accrue the funding to continue my perverse mission.

I had to break free. I had to find a way out of this obligated hell I so ignorantly enrolled myself into. I knew what had to come next: deletion. I had to delete the game from my phone! but the ding, the ding, the constant ding - it called me to it, dragging me forever back to its addictive shores... until the day came that I was able to purchase a priced game, at which point my free hours became the seat of rope cutting, apocalyptic gardening, and catapulting birds into sundry debris. Yet Tiny Tower remains, quietly biding its time, taunting me through its app updates, waiting for curiosity to kill the cat.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Best Qualities: Sleeping with the Door Closed

I can never seem to fall asleep calmly with the door to my room open. Any time I try to shut my eyes, this looming shadow of worry seems to pounce on me like a ravenous lion, and envelops me until I can groggily slip out of my bed and walk over to the door to close it. It doesn't have to be locked, just firmly closed. I don't know if this could be traced back by a team of psychotherapists to some childhood trauma that I involuntarily suffered from, or some kind of Jungian instinct that was ingrained by the forefathers because of some kind of spiritual connexion that we unknowingly share. I'm pretty sure that neither of those can be true, because what this really boils down to is two primary fears: homicide and zombies.

The first, I suppose isn't so irrational, since anyone could really just slip into my house and start a Murder Party with all the unconscious bodies just laying about. I guess that it couldn't be that hard. At least, not to me. I can't really think of anything I could do if I woke up to some masqued mouth-breathing former mechanic stretched over my body with Thanksgiving Turkey on his mind. After all, he has the knife or ax or serrated screwdriver and is ready to check my organs for life; all I have at my disposal are two pillows and building incontinence. I suppose that the second might give me a small window of surprise, in which I could take my pillows and force him into a comfortable nap - though I can't see many serial killers suffering from narcolepsy. It would just take forever to finish a murder; not even worth it in the end. Now, a killer with sleep apnœa is a whole other story: at least you could hold off your rest until after you've finished desecrating the body; and then you can just lie down in whatever least-bloody part of the bed you can find and take a short nap. But I'd be dead either way, so it doesn't necessarily matter too much to me in the end.

The second fear is zombies. Yes, I know: I'm buying into the zeitgeist! Way to feed memes with cliché deep-seated fears! Don't worry, my inner hipster has already done enough scoffing at my reptillian brain, where you all should feel comfortable in your passive disgust for my general character. However, this doesn't change the fact that sometimes I fear that my casually-ill mother will at some point shuffle into my room, and I thinking her just having woken up in the middle of the night, will attempt to engage her in conversation, at which point I will die. Well, maybe not die outright, but she will probably lunge at me, lacerating some part of my exposed flesh, at which point I will lock myself in the bathroom and eventually attack and cannibalise some downtrodden, unsuspecting survivors holing up in my house for protection. I don't necessarily mean to single out my mother, as my father also has a penchant for roaming the corridor in the middle of the night, so he could as easily lumber into my room and ruin my already-dwindling track record with life. Sometimes I'll even replay the scene in my head indefinitely from the time I lie down to when I slip off into whatever bland dreams follow horrific panic-induced plotting. I can never get to the part where I'm eventually overpowered and consumed by the very people who gave me life - mostly because I already know it'll end that way, no matter how many laundry bins and office chairs cascade into them.

It should come as no surprise, then, that as of today I have still not finished Max Brooks's Zombie Survival Guide, because every time I begin reading it, I starting getting nervous only a few pages in. I get similarly nervous watching or reading anything else zombie-related, but can otherwise finish the movie/show/book without problem, only realising as I lie down in my bed that the virus can hit at any time. Obviously, I realise that it's pure fantasy, that as of yet there is no such thing as that kind of infection; and even if there were, I should be able to take comfort in the fact that my slovenly person would not make it more than a few steps outside of my home in case of such an epidemic without being surely and quickly ended.