Thursday, August 6, 2009

Just a thought...

So while thinking about the nature of art, writing and various other things (seems to be the trend of this summer), I realized that I can define the goals of my interpretation of art. Phrased simply, an artist as I see it is one who seeks to create something that conveys who they are in such a way that it resonates with someone else. Anything I do with an artistic premise has the following purpose: To display as much of who I am to you without causing you to freak out over our differences of similarities. Individuals connecting. That's art, baby.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I took a long writing haitus, and for my return, I've figured out what's wrong with hip-hop...

It's all of the damn hating, but not the way the rappers would have you think. In fact, it's still the rappers that are the problem too.

If you listen to most hip-hop mixtapes these days (by using the term hip-hop, I'm only acknowledging people who already possess a decent amount of lyrical prowess), you'll hear a whole lot of complaints about critics and bloggers. "Bloggers hating...", "Ain't worried bout you lil n**gas bloggin..." etc.
I won't pretend like the advent of technology has been kinds to artists. It's been especially unkind to musicians. Blogging has really just become an entirely new realm of criticism musicians now have to withstand. That compounds with the threat/guarantee of bootlegged albums and illegal downloads to make music a much less lucrative field of artistry. Plus, rap today is all about the profits.

And that's the problem. Hip-hop today is more of a commercialized enterprise rather than an artistic arena. Everyone gets into it for the money nowadays rather than for fun or to say what's on their minds and in their souls.

Having said it, I realized that it's really just a rehashing of the whole "hip-hop's gone commercial" argument/criticism. Been done a million times. Seemed really ground-breaking and revolutionary when I realized it though. I guess, why I was so shocked when it hit me was how I saw it, which I think worth mentioning because it's a major phenomenon that really needs to stop. The "Quit Hatin'/Haters" plague.

Everyone in hip-hop likes to paint themselves as a victim of "hating." Many view their "haters" a necessary stride in legitimizing their endeavors and little more. No one ever stops to listen to what their "haters" are saying or concede that those dissenting voices may have a valid point. No one knows how to take criticism anymore. It's like no one understands that dealing with criticism is a necessary part of being a successful artist, be it monetarily successful or successful in reaching people. The real problem presented by the "haters" phenomenon is that it lays bare the fact that no one is in it for the sake of art or craft, but rather for reasons I would consider less pure.

And I hate it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

SesquipedALiEN Subconscious

So this morning, my mom did her usual and walked into my room to say goodbye on her way to work. She laughed asked she came in and asked me why I was sleeping in the fetal position... Damn my dreams.

I hardly ever remember my dreams, but I had a weird one that really tripped me out. It all took place around my house. My real house with very few dissimilarities to reality. It started off in the middle of the the night (like 3 am), with me taking out the garbages. For some reason I felt compelled to open the garage to do this. When I finish, my mom realizes the garage is open and tells me, "Well, since it's up, you might as well move out my car and sweep out the garage." That was real life at it's finest. For some reason, when I finish it's dawn. I close the garage again and walk into the house where my mom is finishing up getting ready for work. I realize that I left the car outside and how dumb that is with the neighborhood's (country's?) recent crime spree. I go outside and the car is gone. My mom calmly asks if I had left the keys sitting in the car as she tries to figure out how the car just up and got windy on us like that. Immediately after her question, my stepdad shows up—my conscious mind finds his appearance absolutely ridiculous since he and my mom have barely been on speaking terms since their divorce (and barely civil is on good days). Anyway, he suggests we look around the neighboring houses for the car. We walk outside, look both ways, then I suddenly finds myself parasailing/parachuting/on a kite flying around the neighborhood. After I had flown down a few houses, a black car passes by. I start descending and it comes back from the opposite direction 5 seconds later. It turns around and passes again. It becomes pretty obvious that the car is trying to stay very nearby for my landing. As my feet are about to touch the ground it passes once more and one of the two extra-hood-lookin' dudes in the car has a gun pointed at me. He pulls the trigger.

...and somehow I managed to duck and barrel-roll out of the way. They only fired once and I got a clear look at the shooter. He looked like a dude I locked up while playing pick-up ball one day.

Anyways, I woke up very shook. I was so shook that, in fact, someone seeing me would have ascribed my reaction to something much scarier. At the very least, a bonafide nightmare or dream in which someone was maimed, or at least had ACTUALLY died. Nope. I just got shot at. Still enough to put me in the fetal position for a few minutes though.

Really, I have no idea why my dream had me like that. Maybe it was the thought of dying in an act of such senseless violence. Or maybe, it's the fact that I've always believed that if I do die young, it'll at least matter—at least my death will be caused by something of importance, something of consequence. How arrogant, right?! How dare I presume the conditions of my own death. Like I really have any collateral to put up against the will of GOD. Shit, I barely have collateral to put up against an angry dude with a gun and a statement to make. What's funny is that my first intelligible thought upon waking up was that I wouldn't even get to graduate. What the hell are my priorities? Am I really developing such a huge entitlement complex?!

Maybe there's nothing behind the dream and I'm bugging out for nothing. Maybe it's my subconscious sayin' that I really need to stop going so hard on the hardwood; apparently the people I lock up and box-out really don't appreciate it. Or, maybe it's just my subconscious mind's way of punishing me for watching so much of the BET (Black Evil Television) Awards last night. (While I'm on the subject of the BET Awards, the part I found most disgruntling was the bullshit they tried to pass off as a tribute or respects to Michael Jackson. Joe Jackson should be slapped on Michael's behalf. Jamie Foxx should really be ashamed of himself prefacing a shameless plug for his tour with the phrase "This is for Michael. Quiet down y'all; this is for Michael." Granted it was terrible and really, WE GOTS TO DO BETTER!)

Why watch tv when the mind is far more engaging and creative, right?

Friday, June 19, 2009

My tongue bleeds easy...

So, I suffer from an inability to stay out of other people's problems. Or more precisely, whenever people near me are suffering from what I perceive as an injustice or communication breakdown, I throw myself in to mediate. I've figured out the cause: My tongue bleeds easily, thus I've learned to avoid biting it whenever possible.

Reason for this revelation is that I found myself mediating a couple things today. The most interesting of them happened while in line at Safeway. I was in Rossmore, an older affluent neighborhood, buying juice to hydrate myself after my first week of camp. The store is fairly crowded, and nearly all of the occupants are white senior citizens. I hop into a line, which had to curve around due to its length, and as I waited, an older lady stop on the far side of the line gesturing towards me, indicating her place in line is somewhere near me. I couldn't tell if she was trying to place herself behind me (where she would have rightfully been by her arrival) or in front of me. I didn't care one way or the other—I mean, it was the express lane and I had just collected my first paycheck from my excellent job. Another lady hopped in line behind me; bear in mind that the line is curved and I am taller than the average person, so she couldn't see the older woman waiting on the far side of the line. When she reached the older lady she did the logical thing and asked, "Are you in front of me?"
The older lady retorts very matter-of-factly "Well, yes I am. You can tell by looking." Her comment wasn't warm nor joking and the middle-aged women took it to be rude (reasonable, though not obviously the case). She pointed out that the older woman had been a bit short with her and replied, "It's fine, you can go ahead of me."
The older woman gasped, half-glanced at me and exclaimed, "I can go ahead? Well, can you believe that."

At that point, I couldn't really tolerate the older lady's condescending attitude anymore, so I turned around and said something to the effect of, "Ma'am, with all due respect, what you said could have been taken to be rude. I'm not saying you meant it that way, but I can absolutely see how this lady could have felt that way." The older lady looked a bit taken aback and then tried to justify herself by saying, "But then she said I could go ahead of her like—" I cut her off there, because I was not in the mood. I explained my perception of things again, saying, "Well, what she was saying was that she was just going to drop it and not make an issue out of the whole thing. Essentially, that she didn't really care." Then I turned around and paid for my juice. As I walked out, I turned around and the lady in whose defense I had spoken waved and mouthed a thank you. Totally worthwile. Also, I promise I did not go bad on an old lady in Safeway. I made a point of appearing as unthreatening as possible and speaking very softly. I may be bold/meddlesome but I'm no idiot about it.

I'm definitely being a bit less tolerant of people saying stupid shit at my job too. In perfect honesty, I've lost a lot of respect for someone I admired when I was in high school. It happens. Growing up will do that, I guess. Not biting my tongue. It hurts too much. My tongue bleeds easy and rather than let my mouth fill with blood, I'll just speak my mind when I need to. Preferably in defense of people. And, yes, I know that it should be "my tongue bleeds easily..."but I like the sound of my initial phrasing so I'll bypass my typical grammar freak mannerisms.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


So I just completed my first week at my summer job. I mean, since my mother and I are nowhere near rich, period, let alone well-off enough for me to bum around at home all summer without generating any income, work is pretty much a necessity. I'm working a basketball camp, and my team this week went 1-9 in games... pretty crummy. Factor in how competitive I get when basketballs are involved and you could draw a convincing argument for me moping around in a state of morbid depression.


My team lost nearly every game, and really wasn't very good; fortunately, the kids are between 8-10 and winning games at that age is really a function of having one or two advanced kids and finishing fastbreak lay-ups. Besides, winning isn't everything. Especially when you have a group of kids as adorable as mine. It was actually agreed upon, unanimously, by every worker that saw my team that my team was hands down the most adorable. Somehow, all of the shortest kids in the league wound up on my team, and at that age small=cute. It helps when the kids come to camp making fashion statements. Lil' D* is about 4-foot-nothing—seriously, he's 4-6 inches shorter than the average kid we played—and came to camp everyday in his over-sized camp shirt (definitely was longer than his shorts) and a black mouthpiece which was always visible either because it was hanging halfway out of his mouth or because he was grinning. J.S. came to camp the first day with a customized pinstripe basketball uniform, so legitimate it even had his last name on the back. He also wore black knee-high socks everyday :). Lil' Enrique (this nickname makes me laugh) came in a his equally grandiose camp shirt with a Nike swoosh headband turned so that the insignia is dead center on the back of his head, just like an NBA player's band. We had 2 more phenomenally short kids, R. Manbag and Kombat Boy. What was great about having all of these extraordinarily small/young kids was the effort they gave. They were team-oriented enough to know the value of setting screens at just 8 years old even though doing so put them in relative peril of being trampled, particularly when you consider their size relative to that of the kids whose motion they were trying to impede. They also dived on the floor for loose balls—no idea where they learned it, but they did and it was splendid!

Even when you control for size, my team was still arguably the most adorable. Every day, we'd shoot free throws after our games. Of course, they aren't great shooters at their ages and some are invariably better than others. One girl on my team, however, was a bit more deficient than others in regards to shooting—her first shot on the first day wentt about 8 feet before hitting the ground. A free throw is a shot from 15 feet away. Needless to say, some of the other kids started to chuckle, but ridicule ain't really too conducive to learning so I shut that down quickly. By Tuesday, the whole team was complementing how much closer see was than she had been the previous day, and when she hit the rim on Wednesday everyone held their breath. Thursday was the last day, and she made one! The whole team started jumping and celebrating. It was heart-warming. Between you and me though, I think the free throw line was a little close on Thursday; I had nothing to do with it nor did I have any way of measuring it, so heaven forbid I taint that moment.

I haven't, and will not, mention everyone that was on my team, though I really did enjoy having all of them. Despite the fact that it is the best summer job ever, it wasn't all roses. I mean, seriously, we freakin went 1-9. Worst record ever. And we should have gone 2-8 but we lost our last game. Why? Because my team also had a diva. She was hilarious and pretty good. She bad-mouthed the refs, ignored 60% of what I said and shot the ball every time she touched it (bear in mind, she's 10). She was fun too, but really, her shooting for 8 straight possessions without passing the ball in the last 3 minutes and not making a single shot (and no, you can't sub specific players in and out for performance during camp) negated a glorious 5-to-nothing run the team had orchestrated to tie. Lil Miz Thang wasn't even ghetto or anything, just hard-headed. But whatever. Focus on the good.

I definitely interacted with kids that weren't on my team and learned great things from them too. Particularly the other team I coached for free throws with Dy and Mateo.

Also, I've got data to support my claims on the relative adorability of my kids. 1-9. Crappy record. Despite this, 3 of the 7 individual weekly awards went home with kids from my team. Why would all the other coaches vote for my kids despite the fact that we never won if not for the cuteness?

I'm saying, BEST JOB EVER!!!!

*Names have been changed and nicknames have been created to maintain the anonymity of my camp kids.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Odd man out?

So (yes, I'm aware that "so" is not really a grammatically correct way to start a sentence and that I do it often—just consider it my counter to hundreds of people ending every sentence they say with "FML". After a parenthetical statement of that length, I might as well start over...)

...So this past Saturday, a friend of mine who attends Harvard but lives an hour away invited me to her sister's college graduation party. She's Nigerian, and I promise that is relevant. If you understand the relevance already, you may have an idea where I'm going with this post and if not, just read along.

Naturally, being present at the largely family graduation ceremony of a relative of a friend I scarcely talk to was not the optimal social environment (if you had to reread it just to figure out the relationships, good. Maybe you can understand how much more complicated it was being there). Factor in the fact that I had never met the sister or anyone there except my friend. I may have also been the only person present who was not Nigerian. Granted, none of these resulted in any explicit social pressure, but within the workings of my mind, I may as well have been running around in an orange jump suit—scratch that; someone might have been wearing one of those— I might as well have been stark naked with the body of a chicken—scratch that too, I kinda have "chicken legs"— WHATEVER! The point is I felt slightly out of place and like I didn't necessarily fit right in.

It really didn't help matters that I'm struggling to recover the social grace, or at least amicability, I used to possess. I was at my best before I understood how social awkwardness worked, which was of course back in the days of my childhood. Up until I started high school, I never had any problems being in unfamiliar environments; I would just go make a few new friends and fall right in with everyone else. Granted, it was easier since the only requisite knowledge was the last episode of Power Rangers (and I watched those fake ninjas with their megazord RELIGIOUSLY). I'm not so fluid socially probably in large part because I'm always afraid of doing something awkward or misrepresenting something I somehow symbolize. Work in progress... new mantra is something along the lines of iREP GFM (explanation later).

So as the party went on my friend had some things she had to attend to as well as emcee duties, so she dropped me at a table with a friend who's about to start college and told me to drop college experience on her. As soon as she told me she would be going to Howard, I realized her experience would be wholly different from mine and that I really had nothing to offer her. Eventually, her family (who is also situated at the table) starts talking to me a bit too and as interactions continued, I realized how hilarious they were. Clearly though, sitting at a family table did little to help my sentiments. There was a salutatory period in the middle of the presentation and I met a few people, including my friend's uncle who's name is "Good Luck"—still meaning to ask my her if that's her uncle's legal name, though regardless, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy since seeing him just inspires a grin.

After the get-to-know-everyone period I felt at little better, but still nowhere near where I should have been. Want proof? They started playing music (presumably Nigerian music, which I liked much more than you might expect), so naturally I'm sitting tapping my feet from my chair and bobbing to the music a bit, but I didn't get up to dance at first. People kept telling me to go ahead and hit the dancefloor (there were like 20 people already dancing) but I refused for a while. I was trying to avoid standing out and between it being a new type of music to me and my standard dancefloor conduct, I opted that rushing the floor was not really conducive to that goal. Eventually my friend came by and asked me if I wanted to dance and I was taught not to turn down women when they take initiative (someone might find this info useful at some point if she finds herself tryin' to holla ;]), so I obliged. Of course I stood out because on I go hard on the hardwood floor, rather it be to ball or ballroom. Get it? Basketball? Ballroom dancing?(not like I know how to do that yet, but that's beside the point).

Funny thing: all of my feelings of ostracism were completely self-imposed. After I popped out of my shell, more people seemed to try to get to know me and I started having a good time. There were 2 games of musical chairs with cash prizes: $10 for the under 13 and $20 for everyone else. I tried to moderate the younger game (you know how 3 year olds don't necessarily understand that they've lost and that it's not their turn anymore). When it came time for my game, I was going hard on the chairs—like I said, she lived an hour away and my finances are in dire straights so I was trying to use that cash prize as gas reimbursement. There was music, and you know that means I was dancing. I was also really trying to play fair and, you know, move the whole time, so I started running in front of people who weren't (this one particular woman was BAD about standing still). I wound up with a fanbase :) I managed to lose in the final 3 though because I got a bit too busy entertaining and the music cutoff while I was in the middle of a dance move and running around Miss No-Movement (thank GOD she didn't win)...

After that, I went to grab some food, which was ON POINT, and had one of those classic "Damn, I OLD!! moments. This 6'5" dude walks up to me and says, "Yo what's up... you recognize me?" And I no clue who dude was, but I had found him to be familiar looking and told him as much. He's a kid I coached during my senior year of high school. He's about to start his senior year now, though when last I saw him, he was 5'10" tops... I was flabbergasted.

By that point, people were just eating, socializing and dancing. Not too many ways I could go wrong there. There was also a performance by a troupe of kids who do traditional Nigerian dance—I'm convinced that being a Nigerian child may be one of the more lucrative things someone could do. I love that the culture "makes it rain" on children doing something positive rather than on strippers and rather offended that America managed to take and ruin yet another thing from Africa. Oh well, what can be done about it?

All-in-all, wound up being a very fun night and a great experience.

Also, iREP GFM means I represent God, Family and Myself. I'm done worrying about all those other things I let myself get caught on. Back to the roots.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

On Artistry

Why do people write, paint, act, make music? What is there to gain from an artistic endeavor? Weird question, right? I thought so a couple years ago, now, not so much. The more I see how much of a crap-shoot it is for anyone to "make it" or essentially be able to engage an art in such a way that they can financially support themselves (let alone amass fame and riches), the more I start to wonder what the purpose of art is.

Maybe I started thinking about this when I realized commercial hip-hop has become more of a gimmick than an art form, though checks have gotten far larger than ever before. Regardless of how much money he manages to stack, I will forever be unable to respect Soulja Boy as an artist with any talent. A great marketer, yes; an artist, absolutely not. That said, it's abundantly clear that commercial success really cannot be used to gauge artistic merit, right? What is that pursue but money?

That one was a joke. I detest the pursuit of money as an ideal and I think art does too. The way I see it is that art is really all about connecting with people. It's rooted either in idealism or an arrogant belief in the fact that one's craft and efforts will eventually touch someone in a unique way and cause them to experience a reaction unique to that piece of are. If an artist manages to get enough exposure and connect with enough people, then the craft becomes lucrative and, perchance, the artist goes on to be special.

Then again, I might just be rationalizing my music pirating after the fact.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Kids Again... and Artistry

I feel like the title is a bit off, but I like it. Read this without placing too much consideration on the title of the post please.

Art has always been a bit of a touchy subject for me. When someone asks me if I have any artistic talents, I simply shrug and half-jokingly say "words, maybe." In perfect honesty, I think I'm decent with words, and at the very least I really like them :). Outside of word related things, my faculties as an artist could be summed up by saying "I'm a bit of a natural actor." I have to add in the word "natural" because if I do possess any stage-related skills, they definitely are not anything I attained through sheer volume of production—including my middle school drama class, I have been in 6 functions I would consider production; two of them I've done in college and I played the lead in Thomas Stoppard's "The Real Inspector Hound" during my senior year of high school (complete with a crappy Cockney accent).

On top of the fact that I don't qualify as too much of an artist, I found art to be boring and weird when I was introduced to it as a little kid. Granted, this was fairly standard for my age. I mean, let's be honest, there are really way too many rules for a young child to really be able to enjoy a museum. For the longest time, I carried on with my thought pattern from my childhood days and thought that art was stupid.

Recently though, I gave art a new shot and realized that I kinda love it. Maybe it has a lot to do with my musings on literature, music and other types of intellectual property (I'll get into that after the anecdotal story of this posting). These days, I rather like art. This past Saturday I visited a friend of mine from school in San Francisco. She's pretty cool and very much an artist. In her case, art is definitely a family thing—her dad is a professional artist (perhaps I'd do better to say makes his living through art, but that too I'll get at later). The relevance of her dad's career as an artist is hat he's very much in tune with current art resulting in my friend having one of the most exquisitely decorated houses I have ever seen. I'm not saying that because of the house was covered with original or duplications of Picasso's, Van Gogh's and Monet's, but because of the impeccable style of the art. It was more an "urban art" motif than any other one style, and I loved it. I basked in it and felt my respect for artistry increase many times over. See, that art had two major effects. The first was allowing me to recognize that being an adult doesn't mean I'll have to give up everything I learned to love in my youth; hip hop has an elegance and an "adult house" can still be elegant. Maybe I won't have to scrap my hoodie collection at age 27 :). The second effect was letting me get a feel for just what art can be for me. I was like a kid in a candy shop, but my sugar was artistic innovation, my dyes were vivid colors and and aesthetic elements. I was still eating candy, but now I was gorging on an intellectual treat causing a sugar rush to my imagination. I would call it a rebirth of my inner child, but I'm nearly too in touch with mine as it is. Let's instead call it an assurance of continued well being, something equivalent to my inner child being guaranteed a spot a Yale.

I wandered around her house absolutely astonished absorbing every piece of art I could find (and there was a lot of it). So, yeah, years after the effect is supposed to happen, I have viewed art and seen that it is good. My thoughts on the purpose of art and intellectual property are gonna be a separate post. Why? Because this is currently shaping up to be more of a place for me to draft term papers than to blog.

Friday, June 5, 2009

"Anime Immersion" Lyrics + Explanation

My best friend had/will have a recording studio in his garage (it's currently lacking a mic, and is consequentially referred to in the past and future tenses). When I first got back home, he had me hop on a track he did called "Old Lady Groove." It's ridiculous and about us scooping older women to take care of us. It's ridiculous and I have no further comment. However, it was fun and made me realize how fun it would be to make MY OWN SONG for once (every song I've been on was, at least partially, his concept). So I got to thinking about what I could write a song about and have fun doing. The last track that was kinda my idea was a superhero based track where I just wove in a bunch of X-Men names and powers as a sort of love song. Great fun and extraordinarily revealing of my massive inner nerd. But in a cool way. I was wondering was other nerdy thing could I expose in a rap (negating a lot of the nerdiness in the process). I decided on anime, which I started watching when I was around 10 and still watch to this day. Hence, "Anime Immersion" was formed. I mention 5 shows in 3 verses. Character and organization names are capitalized and bolded. Anything just bolded, treat like a footnote. It's directly relevant to the show. I'll explain the anime references after the lyrics for each verse. However, my explanations probably won't mean all that much if you've never seen the shows (particularly the third verse), so do as I say in the chorus if you really want to get it—or at least read the wikipedia pages maybe.

Verse 1
Well my is simply VICIOUS like the villain in BEEBOP,
And the value starts to SPIKE just as soon as the beat drop.
I'm like EINstein hold the Stein add a bark,
Red-haired hacker mind will illuminate the dark.
JET past you cause I'm a jack of all trades,
And I shoot off this flow at least 3 different ways.
Call it a triple barrel, TRIGUN experience.
JULY when I blow the up in the city y'all get serious,
Causing a STAMPEDE but you cannot proceed
Till you get the 60 billion double dollars I need.
Hold the MILLIE-vanilly, Meryl Strep rap,
Cuz though I'm no street cat, my priest keeps the heat packed,
Machine guns and missiles tucked away in a steel cross

Ask the Heavenly Father if he thinks I'm a real boss.
I'll put you in a deep sleep, save the R.E.M.
In your dreams you'll the space I'm in and the star I am
This flow is hellish, but my arm is angelic
If you're buying what I'm selling then I swear I won't embellish
Don't want to see me get a rise, I advise
You to avoid my 6 gun shine
Been known to fight with KNIVES
But I'm nothing like my brother so I take no lives.

Chorus 1
Consider this here an anime immersion
Ya probably didn't know I was an anime person
In my childhood, time with the tv was time splurgin
So get to know my shows man, do it like it's urgent

Explanation of Verse 1:
First show is Cowboy Beebop, which is set in space and follows a group of bounty hunters. The main villain is named Vicious and the protagonist is Spike. Spike's crew has a pet dog named Ein, hence "Einstein hold the Stein add a bark." The person who takes principal care of Ein is a girl named Edward (yes, I know it's weird, watch the show to get it). Edward is a brilliant computer hacker with reddish hair. Spike's main sidekick is named Jet and is commonly referred to within the show as "a jack of all trades" because he does essentially everything. That's it for Cowboy Beebop in the song. (Once I finish with a show, there are intentional no recurrences).

Next show, same verse, is Trigun. Also set in space with a western theme. This explanation has story elements so it won't be a linear and clear as the last. Protagonist is named Vash the Stampede ("Causing a STAMPEDE"). He is wanted for inadvertantly destroying the city of July ("July, when I blow up in the city") with his special gun called the Angel Arm ("arm is angelic") and there is a large bounty on his head of 60 billion double dollars ("...I need"). People are always trying to capture him for the bounty and destruction always ensues as a result, leading an insurance agency to send two of its employees to follow him at all times; their names are Meryl Stryfe and Millie Thompson (not Millie-Vanilly and Meryl Streep, but that's as close as I could get lol). Over the course of his adventure, Vash meets a gunfighting priest named Nicholas Wolfwood who (you can guess it!) keeps guns and a rocket launched loaded into a gigantic steel cross he totes at all times. Vash is averse to anyone taking the life of another being ("take no lives") and was taught to believe this by his mentor/mother figure Rem Saverem ("deep sleep save the R.E.M."). His brother Knives ("fight with KNIVES") disagrees and wants to use his and Vash's power to destroy humanity ("nothing like my brother"). I think that's all of it. On to verse 2!!

Verse 2
What's my name? Call me the SesquipedALIEN
That's alien, like a SAIYAN is
I'll advise you by sayin this:
If you wanna battle research who it is you're playin with
See I flow like a gun and, yes, I call the Galick
But no, not short for Galatic because that there'd be some wack shit.
It's more Kamehameha with it
Turn this on up if you get what I'm sayin with this.
I ate a rapper but was feeling BULMA-lemic, so I excreted him orally,
Told him that he was boring me and to GOHAN-dle training, but, eh, deplorably
I caught him ice-KRILLIN me, staring at my chain
So I made him watch while I gamed up his main.
"FREIZA (Freeze-uh) honey, caveat
That RED RIBBON in your hair is kinda hot,
Your CHI-CHIs hanging out, yeah, kinda not
I could get you a ring so big, it's KAKARATS.
I've got a Magic Dragon always helps me cheat death
And the smell of Senzou Beans is always on my breath
You got a special CELL and a NAMEKIAN brain
But your Power level's too low to stop this onslaught of game.
You look like you could be a freak, Super Saiyan Level 3.
I got some DRAGON BALLS in my TRUNKS you might like to see.

Chorus 2
Consider this song an anime immersion
Don't think it's clever, you're an anime virgin.
A track about toons is like a hip-hop insurgence
Get acquainted with my shows, treat it like its urgent.
Explanation of Verse 2:
If you don't know that this is Dragon Ball Z, I appreciate the fact that you love me enough to indulge my nerdiness by reading this far into this esoteric ass blog. Thank you. To the other 80% of people who saw Dragon Ball Z growing up, not too much explaining needed. Saiyan is the alien race most of the shows characters were from. Vegeta's special attack was called the Galick Gun and Goku's was the Kamehameha Wave. Bulma was a supporting character who never fought and eventually married Vegeta, though not until after she'd had a tryst with Krillin. Gohan was Goku's soon, really weak in the beginning of the show (he was like 5 or 7), an absolute badass as a teenager and a flat-out pansy during the end. Krillin was the short, bald, and useless guy. Freiza was the super evil alien who blew up the Saiyan's home world and killed Krillin making Goku go Super Saiyan. The Red Ribbon Army created androids to try to take over the world. Chi-Chi was Goku's wife, and someone wore the pants in a relationship where she dated the universe's most powerful fighter. Kakarat is Goku's Saiyan name. The Magic Dragon is summoned whenever all 7 dragon balls are collected; upon his appearance he grants a wish (or tree) then makes the dragon balls inert for a year. Senzou beans are magical beans that automatically restore a person to full health/back up to fighting condition. Cell was another product of the Red Ribbon Army and nearly did destroy the world, only to be stopped by Gohan in his badass days. Namekians are Piccolo's (remember, the scary angry green guy) race. Power level was always used to gauge opponent's strength in the show until everyone went off the charts. Super Saiyan 3 was the highest level of power reached by any of the Saiyan's in this Dragon Ball series. The Dragon Balls are magical glowing orange orbs that make magic happen and I keep them in my Trunks :) Trunks is actually the son of Bulma and Vegeta; and one of the shows more G characters despite (or because of) his pink hair.

Verse 3:
In a rut, Oh never in a rhyme scheme,
"In" there was the letter.
Spell the word and you're defining
My current viewing pattern and this knowledge will behoove you
Cuz my sexy rap spit justu makes it likely that you'll splatter,
Or better cream, in the front your jeans,
But you get what I mean, so let's get back to the scene.
Call me a beat ninja quick to rush into the battle,
See I've got a bunch of clones always hiding in my shadow
But when I beast up they just get up and skeedaddle.
Turn tail and run,
How many tails do they grow? Between nine and one.
In the next line, the last show in this rhyme I'll speak
Because how you gon be clean if you ain't got BLEACH
Gun flow is HOLLOW a new metaphor I seek
The sword flow is drawn and ready to be released
Call it's name once, wake up from its sleep
Change form
though still fighting with the same beat.
Scream "Bankai" and it switches up again
But I'll just don a silence mask and bring this to an end.

No chorus, just silence.

Explanation of Verse 3:
Alright, I think I went too crazy on the first reference, because I told Brandon what the show was and he couldn't get it for a solid minute. "In a rut, Oh, never in a rhyme scheme/"In" there was the letter spell the word"
N a rut O= Naruto. Maybe not possible to see unless you're in the strange little word of my mind. Naruto is a show about ninjas fighting for control of the world and these special tailed beast which contain immense power. One of these tailed beasts, arguably the most powerful, is bonded to Naruto and uses him as a host. There are nine beasts and they increase in tails relative to their power. The protagonist is host of the nine-tailed beast. Naruto is a clown and in his early days create a ninja technique to transform himself into a naked (covered with clouds) woman and calls it the "Sexy Jutsu" ("sexy rap spit jutsu"). All ninja moves are called jutsu in the show. Naruto is hot-headed and idealistic and rushes into numerous battles. ("beat ninja, quick to rush into a battle"). His primary battle move is to make copies of himself, using a technique called "Shadow Clone Jutsu" (clones always hiding in my shadow"). At times Naruto loses control of the tailed-beast that exists within him, causing it to possess him, fill him with power and send him into a berserker state ("when I beast up"). When in this state, everyone stays back until he can be calmed. The tails manifest themselves and increase in number the longer he stays in his emotional state and they increase ("turn tail and run. how many tails they grow? Between nine and one.")

Other show is called "Bleach." There are people who act a guides to the after, like Valkyries from Norse mythology called Shinigami. If a soul dawdles too long in going to its new place, corrupted souls will come and consume it (or it will corrupt naturally) becoming a soul being known as a "hollow" (gun flow is hollow). The Shinigami fight the hollow with special swords. These swords have names and unique personalities which manifest as special attributes when the sword is "released" ("sword flow is drawn and ready to be released"). The sword are released by having their names call, at which point they undergo a physical transformation and acquire new properties and abilities ("Call its name once, wake it up from its sleep/change form"). If a person gets strong enough, they can attain a second release called a "Bankai" (which may literally translate to second release...big maybe on that); this second release is many times stronger than the first and always involves another form change. Eventually, some Shinigami are revealed to have hollow powers activated by donning a mask similar to those worn by the hollow ("don a silence mask"). These masks bring even more power and typically tilt the scales in the favor of their owners ("bring this to an end").

Well, thank you for taking this long excursion with me through the canals of my nerdy glory. Hopefully you enjoyed it. If you didn't think it was hot, watch an episode of the shows and try it again. Track recording coming soon! I'm trying to get a beat for it. I'm going to ask one of the dudes who makes beats for Brandon's group for something will a clearly Asian+hip-hop sound. Maybe sample the show soundtracks or something. If anyone reading this makes beats and would like to create one, please feel free.
Seriously, I hope you enjoyed it. Or if not it (the rap) then your trip into my world and the copious amounts of dirt you've just gained on me.

And here's a video of me rappin it over the focus beat...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Life Goal. . .

"I give a damn if any fan recall my legacy; I'm tryin' to live life in the sight of GOD's memory."
Mos Def "Thieves in the Night"

New favorite book?

So it's nearly 4 weeks into my summer, and I've just finished my first summer reading book. Let's for the time overlook the stack of 20+ books I told myself to TRY to get through. (Fortunately, I try to be realistic and as soon as I realized how many books I'd brought back with me I admitted that I'll consider it a minor-major miracle if I get through half. The beauty is in the effort.)
Book 1 was Lorraine Hansberry's To Be Young, Gifted and Black, and, frankly, if the other books are half this good or poignant it'll be tragic for me not to read them.

Before you read anymore of this, I'm gonna ruin the ending of this post. GO READ THIS BOOK! If you quit reading this blog post (or my blog as a whole) and instead decide to read this book, I'd consider it a fair and totally worthwhile exchange—this|deal|not|applicable|if|you've|already|read|To Be Young,Gifted and Black. (That last sentence is intended to be read as a list of medical side effect at the end of Prozac, Viagra or Valtrex commercials.)

So, whatever, I read a good book. Why in the name of all that is good and all that is time-wasting should that get a blog entry? The answer is hopefully found in excerpts like this one:
Part 3 Chapter IV Section 2

America as Seen through the Eye of the TV Tube

1. Most people who work for a living (and they are few) are executives and/or work in some kind of office.
2. Sex is the basis of all psychological, economic, political, historical, social—in fact, known—problems of man.
3. Sex is very bad.
4. Sex is very good and the solution to all psychological, economic, political, historical, social—in fact, known—problems of man.
5. The present social order is here forever and this is the best of all possible worlds.
6. The present social order is here forever and this is the worst of all possible worlds.
7. The present social order is all in the mind.
8. Women are idiots.
9. Negroes do not exist. . .

Hopefully you can see part of why I love the book just from this excerpt, which is possibly the only list in the book but thoroughly encapsulates L.H.'s (yeah, I will probably always call Lorraine Hansberry by her initials when it's not an academic piece). Maybe I'm trippin' but, I thought this list was hilarious. It's filled with commentary on the state of the entertainment industry (of her time) without taking itself too seriously. And by, "of her time," I actually mean period, unfortunately. The sex bit is hilarious—ly true—and applies to life in general (mine in particular)rather than just the tv industry. Plus she tackles extra heavy social issues without the jokes at the end, making them carry more weight. Beautiful, if you ask me.

Excerpt #2 also comes Part 3/3 of the book. (this blog didn't exist when I read parts 1 and 2.) This one's more a quick shot than an excerpt just so you can get a feel for the powerful things this woman writes throughout.
"I am thinking of a time when revolutionaries tended to be made out of idealism rather than cynicism."
"Well maybe that's what botched up the revolutions so far, Mr. Morris."

Written as a piece of dialogue between an African man of questionable revolutionary ethic and an American white man, this stuck to the surface of my soul. When I consider the reality of revolutions and revolutionary attitudes, I want all of them to be rooted in idealism—I try to live my life rooted in idealism. On the flip side though, that very same idealism would absolutely undermine the success of any intended revolution. I know that personally, as soon as I saw the tail-end of victory (whatever my goal may be) I would overlook lingering malice from those changed and blindly assume that change I brought was welcomed on all fronts. Clearly not the case, and clearly guaranteed to cause complications down the road when the defeated try to reclaim what they've lost. An idealist doesn't factor that attempted revival into the equation and omits critical preparations. So, yes, revolutions should be rooted in optimism, but if they are entirely idealistic I think they're doomed to succeed.

AND ALL OF THAT ON IDEALISM WAS A TANGENT... but it's directly relevant to why I love the book. The book isn't even really about race or revolution when considered on the whole. It's about people. Somewhere L.H. referred to people, on an personal basis, as "dramatically interesting." The women loves people and it oozes through her writing, even though it's clear that her love of people isn't perfect and that she too is most certainly human. It makes me love people too (or remember why I do). I'm trying to get on that Lorraine Hansberry status, from which if someone collects my work to sketch my autobiography, all that they find will invariably point to the fact that I love people. An artist with love as a legacy...

READ THE BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Caring and Hurt...

For the last couple days, I've been thinking on something. Abstractly, I'm trying to decide if it's "better" to care until it hurts then stop or not care at all until the weight of ignoring it causes a similar hurt. It's tough to articulate, and it's probably supposed to be. It pertains almost entirely to people rather than occupational tasks or anything of the sort, but I think it's an important question. And yes, better is in quotes for a reason.

Running with this question focusing on people, is it better to love everyone unexceptionally and bend over backwards to bring other people joy until they show that they can't be trusted with that? Or is it better to not give a damn until you're hit by an overwhelming desire to do any and everything in your power to help/assist/improve a particular person? I don't have an answer and the answer is probably in the middle (because that's where ALL the answers are, right?), but I prefer to think that both approaches have their merits.

Yaay for another cliche, irresolvable philosophical question regarding the nature of human interaction!

(For the record, I think I do one and that it would wholly behoove me to do the other, at least in moderation—it's all about moderation).

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kids These Days...

So today was a day filled by moments with children, both good and bad. I love kids. Passionately. Possibly entirely too much to be male. I think they remind me of everything I love about the world and the days when I felt so much love that I wanted to fix all the world's issues (yeah, every one of them) and refused to be dissuaded by the fact that that was not actually possible. Honestly, it doesn't really matter why I love kids, the point is that I do.

General synopsis of the day: Trip to Waterworld (water-themed amusement park) with Brandon and his family. His mom, grandma, godsister, younger brother and twin were all in attendance.

Necessary Background Info: Brandon's twin brother, Justin, and I have a relationship that could be described at tumultuous and tense at best—downright ridiculous at worst. Kid has some misplaced anger issues among other things and really lashes out in fits of rage from time to time. He and I fall out approximately every 6 months and right now we're on a good stretch. We're probably doing well because I decided not to be bothered with him more than I have to and to just accept that he and I really just have different ways of seeing life, masculinity, and pretty much anything of importance. Their kid brother DJ is like 10 or 11 and huge for his age, which makes sense seeing as Brandon and Justin are both bigger than me and DJ's dad is mammoth.

As things relate to kids

Experience set #1: While Brandon and I were waiting for his mom and grandma to get back to the house so we could leave, we were chillin with Justin & DJ. DJ is a little kid, thus very annoying to his brothers. On top of that he's always working to prove his mettle with his older bigger brothers. Probably unnecessary since Justin treats him like a really annoying grown-ass-man. Long-2-short, DJ told Justin to shut up, Justin took hella offense behind it, dared him to approach him and do it again. DJ, being a full foot shorter, 80 pounds lighter, and pretty smart for his age, did no such thing; instead, he yelled at Justin to shut up then ran out of the house. When he walked back in, some words were exchanged and Justin punched his brother in the chest and kicked him knocking him to the ground— mind you, DJ is a full 10 years Justin's junior. I was shocked and appalled, but DJ is (unfortunately) pretty used to this shit so he popped up and walked back outside. A couple minutes later he walked into the house, approached Justin and spit on him. I don't blame him for what he did, but it had some heavy implications. If you can't imagine what these might be, see the section titled "Relevant Background Info." Justin ran past Brandon and I (I almost stopped him, but decided against it since I was pretty sure that doing so would have led to me having to fight Justin—seriously, if you don't know the history on that call me and I'll fill you in) and started chasing DJ into the street. Brandon yelled when DJ started to run towards the street, but aside from that, no one made any moves to stop Justin. Brandon and I even chuckled at the fact that DJ was outrunning Justin. Their mom and grandmother asked us what happened and shook their heads as we talked about how Justin was prone to overreacting or being excessively physical. Still, it took a few seconds of them being out of sight before Brandon and I decided that we should check. By the time we started to move Justin was walking DJ back in a brotherly embrace... oh, nope, that's a headlock. And they're still 30 feet away, but I can hear DJ struggling to breath as his feet float effortlessly over the ground. Now the uproar starts, Justin goes in the house to finish getting ready and we all head off to Waterworld like NOTHING FUCKING HAPPENED! Actually, we made a conscious decision to let it go because, according to their grandmother, "We know how Justin gets."

Now, I'm trying to maintain peace but I really can't stand the sight of Justin waililng on DJ like a playmate his own age. Justin rode up with Brandon and I and started to talk about how crazy DJ was for spitting on him, but Brandon shut that down. I stayed out of it. Like I said, that's how I maintain the peace with Justin.

Anyway we got to the park, and we'd been there a little while. Of course, DJ eventually said something to irk Justin, who proceeded to walk over to the kid and grab the back of his neck. Again, everyone's there. At this point, I was thinking that I really couldn't stand to see this boy get manhandled again, so I walked over, grabbed Justin's hand and told DJ to get lower so he could get out of Justin's reach. Justin let go, and nothing more happened... well, actually, DJ stormed off mad (understandably) and was running from me when I tried to talk to him. Eventually, when I got him to communicate and use his words, I found out he wanted to hop in the lazy river. So Brandon and I went with him and I tried to tell him not to provoke his older brother. I thought the reasons were obvious and pretty compelling, but I have about 8 more years of dealing with Justin than DJ.

In short, experience #1 was not fun. Honestly, it made me realize that I don't know what to make of Justin or how to deal with him or reason with him. But damn, I really can't keep appeasing him like that. Just ain't me, or at least it just ain't the me I want to be.

Experience #2:Still at the waterpark, though at this point it's just me and Brandon running around. We were heading towards a ride and there was basically no line. We're casually sauntering towards the line when we hear a bunch of little kids running behind us trying to get to the top. We decide to clothesline them if they try to cut us (ride lines are no joke). One of them tried to get by me and said "Don't worry, we aren't trying to cut you." His friend ran past us both, screaming, "But I am!" So after I won the footrace up the stairs (longer strides make many things possible), the kid who admitted his intentions looked at Brandon and me and tried to educate us on how things go. He told us smugly, "I know how to cut straight to the front of the line—you just pretend like you're hurt." We both looked at him and laughed until he excused himself clear to the front of the line; at this point, we just started laughing harder and occasionally breaking from our laughter long enough to point out that "this kid is a thug." His two friends just stayed in their place at the back of the line waiting for Little Mr. Audacious (henceforth referred to as LMA) to get into trouble. LMA was just chillin at the top of the stairs though, pleading with his friends to come join him, and one eventually did just that. The other, whose name was Matthew, refused. Not only did he refuse, he tried to talk his friends back into the line. And he was adamant and wouldn't join them even when it became clear that no one cared and no one would get in trouble for the ordeal. They called him a whole bunch of names and taunted him for being "a pussy" (when did 12 year olds start calling each other that?!) When he realized they weren't coming back down, he just shrugged them off by stating loudly, "I don't know who they talking to. My name's not Matthew; it's Jeremiah." Brandon and I were astonished. We told Matthew how great he was for doing what he believed (and how his way would make sure he never came up with a criminal record). His friends eventually left him, but B and I left Matthew ride with us. It was kinda my honor actually. Funniest thing, when we got to the bottom, LMA was still waiting for Matthew at the bottom. At least he's a pretty good friend.

Long-2-short: Two kids I admire to day. One who'll probably grab life by the balls and have it bowing out to him and doing whatever he needs it to; he'll probably bring a few people along for the ride. Hopefully he learns to help people rather than just do whatever selfish things he wants. Another, more admirable, who showed me exactly what it means to have conviction and do what's right, for no reason other than the sake of it being right. Hopefully he can rub off on LMA and help keep him in check.

Experience #3: While in the grocery store today, I passed by 2 carts which had toddlers in them. They found me to be very amusing. I made faces at them and played peekaboo. I will happily forfeit whatever thug/masculinity points I need to for enjoying that so much. But, like I said, I love kids.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

And, a word from our sponsors...

Well, I don't think it's anything completely unexpected, but I decided to start a blog. Honestly, it's summer and I'm BORED. I haven't done much of anything these last three weeks and to add insult to injury of my sedentary situation, I'm hardly even thinking. Well, that's a lie, but all of the good and unique things I think are unfinished, underdeveloped or unshared. So I figured I might as well start a blog through which I'll finally write down a few of my crazy ideas.

A word about the title of this blog: It's highly subject change and may even regularly alternate between something involving the words "journey" and "mentale" (which isn't an actual word according to dictionaries, but I use it to essentially mean mind) or something involving my favorite word "sesquipedalian" or my deliberate misspelling of it "sesquipedalien." In case you don't konw the word, it can be a noun meaning "person given to the use of big words" or an adjective to describe such a person. The misspelling is just something to emphasize the fact that sometimes I really feel like I don't exist on a normal plane of thought—not to say I think my thought are better than anyone's or anything of the sort. I've just been told and believe that my way of thought and expression aren't really like most peoples. I'm fine with it. Actually, who am I trying to kid—I love it.

Subject matter: I'm not going to pretend like I expect this blog to focus on any particular topic. This is just a canvas I'll use to paint out some of the pictures flowing around my mind. If I were to guess at what I'll mostly talk about, summer topics seem likely to include the following: music, television, books, more music, personal experiences, rehashings of family talks... and girls. Actually this will probably just wind up being an outlet for my accumulated frustrations with the fairer sex and the way society messes up the ways I would prefer for the interactions to be.

With all of that out of the way, hopefully you've got a feel for what I'll posting on here. If if interests you (and if you're my friend, hopefully the inner workings of my mind intrigue you a least a little) I'd love to have you come along for the public exploration of my world.
As a corollary, please don't expect a deep, brooding analysis of the world at large. This is basically my new venting spot since my regulars decide to get out of country for the whole summer.