Reblog: The Sanity of Insanity

Love this – simple but brilliant! Credit to the author, A Modestly Obnoxious Serb

A Modestly Obnoxious Serb

Some of us were blessed with insanity

In order to keep the sane

From simply sinking into the mundane.

The bane of the sane

Are then reminded of their humanity.

-JM

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Law, Lore and More

I appear to have taken a 10 day hiatus from publishing anything. I’m happy to say that this has only dawned on me due to a couple of my readers highlighting that they haven’t seen any new entries in that amount of time. I suppose that is evidence that I have a few people keeping current! There is no reason to be concerned (because I’m still alive…), I’ve just been busy.

Trafalgar Law
Creativity struct at 3am, so let’s just roll with it (Trafalgar Law, One Piece)

I suppose that I should start by confirming that I have secured a placement at university to study English & Creative and Professional Writing (cue Rip Taylor). Little under 3 weeks ago I thought it wasn’t even possible to go to university (I mean, I don’t even have A levels), and yet I was offered a place for this coming September just over a week ago. I’ve been working on the book I mentioned before a lot too, and naturally it’s taken some time to talk my way into university, so between the two I’ve had plenty to be doing.

I’ve told a few people about becoming a student, some of who (I now realise) I haven’t spoken to inuni road
quite some time. I have had mixed responses, varying from “I always thought you should do that” to “Oh, what made you want to go back to university?“. That last one is double-edged for me. Part of me is flattered that I come across as though I’m worldly and educated enough for others to assume that I’ve already got a degree under the belt. On the same note, it’s made me think back to the time I should have been thinking about doing this in the first place.

I know for a fact I was too much of an angsty teenager to ever make the kind of life choices that I can now (although I’m not all that much better 6 years down the line!), and I know for a fact I would have laughed so hard to think I’d have any interest in studying English. At school, I always breezed through the subject, often writing essays in a single draft, half hour sitting, and achieving good grades without much attention or interest. I suppose that’s partially down to teachers (who more often than not I was butting heads with), in that I didn’t have the respect for them, their material, or anything that I produced. In total honesty, I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I have some ability to weave words into a body that impresses others.

Back pages of text books from school, age 14-15, that I recently found.

So I’ve sketched a few things onto my canvas for the coming year. Obviously, university is the major milestone. I’ll be jumping the London ship for a few months in preparation for that, saving money and moving back in with the folks. Thinking about it, I never thought I’d be packing up and heading back to Peterborough after 6 months (or back to Peterborough at all), but then again I never thought I’d be going back into education either. So with my remaining 13 days in London, I best say some goodbyes, and take advantage of all I can whilst I can. I know I’ll be back in a few months, but everything will be different, in a new area… I guess it’s more of an opportunity to say thanks to people who’ve helped me get this far as much as it is to say goodbye.

I’ll be sure to keep in better touch in the coming weeks…

Image Source: Drawings by me, photo of a street sign in London

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Heart Over Mind Over Heart

You hear that in a battle of heart and mind, that often the heart will win. In a lot of metaphorical circumstances, this reference alludes to the mind wanting to do what’s right, or needs to be done, and the heart telling you what you really want. I’m listening to ‘Not Strong Enough‘ (Apocalyptica ft. Brent Smith, mentioned in Tracks and Tunes), and it got me thinking, is that always the case?

I know it’s wrong, and I know it’s right,

And if I try to win the fight,

My heart will overrule my mind,

And I’m not strong enough to stay away.

Not Strong Enough lyrics

I recently had to go digging through some old stuff in my trunk (affectionately to be called Heroin Diariesmy ‘toy box’ now), and I found my copy of The Heroin Diaries – A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rockstar. The introduction gives a brief ‘Alternative Medical Dictionary’ (pictured right). I think these are examples where it may well be that the heart wants the right things, and the mind is telling you, through fault in cognitive processing, what it needs.

Perhaps I’m wrong. I can’t say I’ve dealt with Cocaine or Heroin addiction/withdrawal. However, I think that depression and addiction in particular are mental afflictions, and it’s your ‘heart’ that wants nothing more than to be free of them. Your mind wants to give in to the need to abuse a substance or follow a dark train of thought to nowhere, and that’s how these afflictions take hold in the first place. The metaphorical ‘heart’ is what gives you the strength to think differently and break the cycle.

In saying that, it can work both ways. Emotional distress can cause a release of hormones that effect your actual heart and cause physical pain (i.e. heartache/heartbreak). In those circumstances, the ‘heart’ can drive you to any escape from the pain, be it drugs or alcohol or any other kind of self-abuse. In this situation, you have the genesis of ‘faulty thinking’ or of, as the song goes, heart overruling the mind.

It seems that the mind is mechanical – that is, if you consider it to be nothing more than a processor for empirical data, and separate from a metaphoric ‘heart’ which processes emotional information. If that is so (then let it be so), then the ‘heart’ is both the poison and the cure. If it is not so (you realists, processing all in one mind), then our thoughts are doomed to be forever infected with emotional input that potentially corrupts our thinking, and forever saved by the joy that same input brings.

My thoughts on this are that it’s not worth thinking about too much. If you can process right and wrong as two separate bodies, and feel emotionally settled with the difference, then by processing the empirical and emotional data you can make a decision. If you can’t, then you don’t have enough empirical information to work with and you need to see and do more than just think about it.

Image Source: Google Images, photo of The Heroin Diaries

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Tunes and Tracks (17/04/2016)

I’ve noticed a few trends in my pursuit of new music. Sometimes it’s a discovery/rediscovery of an artist I like/liked. Sometimes it’s a cover of a song that makes it really novel. Whatever it is, it either passes like a phase, or falls into the rest of my collection to be played whenever shuffle settings allow, rather than be a starting point when I go out and put the headphones on.

So I thought I would share the songs that I’ve been listening to a lot over the last week or so. Firstly, it will be interesting to chronicle what I was listening to at a given time in the future, and secondly because I recommend giving each a listen if you aren’t familiar with them. As much as I wanted to call this a playlist, it really isn’t because the songs don’t really work together. With the exception of the Counting Crows track and Paper Moon cover, it’s on the rock side of things (with a little anime flare), and I’ve included links in the titles.

So, in no particular order…

Why Don’t You Get A Job – The Offspring

I love this song, and I just wish I heard it earlier in life. I think it could have likely talked me out of a bad relationship far sooner! Punk and Ska bands really do have a way of addressing negative issues with clever rhymes and great beats! Get ya reggae vibes here (and lose that bitch/dick). I really ought to get a job, thinking about it….

 

All Bad Things – Motley Crue

I heard this, and saw the video, only about 2 weeks ago. I don’t have a clue how it evaded me for so long, given how much I love Motley Crue. Still gives me chills to think this is the last song they ever put out together, and seeing the history of the band in montage is cool.

 

Run – Sick Puppies

This song is really growing on me, and I don’t really understand why. You could say the lyrics are relatable, but I’m not entirely sure that’s all it is. I think there’s something in the beat that is has a ‘driving’ effect, coupled with really smooth but powerful vocals. Worth a listen, and quite a contrast to the usual Sick Puppies sound.

 

Rise – Sixx:A.M.

Yeah, this isn’t the most recent single for the upcoming album, but this one has stuck with me as a musical motivator more than ‘You Have Come to the Right Place‘ or ‘Prayers for the Damned.’ It’s exciting hearing where Sixx:A.M. are exploring musically, moving on from Modern Vintage (which was 70s pop inspired). So much talent in the trio, would recommend listening to the aforementioned tracks as well as checking out the back catalog.

 

Coz I Luv You – Slade

I actually stumbled onto Slade when I was looking into The Jam for a previous post (see here) – which reminded me that besides ‘Merry Xmas Everybody‘ I didn’t know anything by them (Fun Fact: I will not acknowledge that it’s Christmas until I have heard this song somewhere at least once). This is a track I had in fact heard before, and now I know what it is I keep playing it!

 

7Seven – FLOW x GRANRODEO

So this is the end theme to the anime 7 Deadly Sins (it’s on Netflix, check it out) and it’s so catchy. I have been blasting this to try and get some energy going to do anything. It’s been fairly effective, but doing anything slowly whilst it’s playing just feels wrong! Maybe it’s just me, but it’s on here all the same.

 

Not Strong Enough – Apocalyptica ft. Brent Smith (of Shinedown)

This is just beautiful. I may not be as big a fan of Shinedown as I was when I was 16, but the combination of the melodic Apocalyptica with Shinedown’s vocalist gets me right in the feels (similarly for ‘I Don’t Care’ with Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace).

 

Paper Moon – Tommy Heavenly6 (AmaLee & DJ-Jo cover)

Another anime entry, this is the second opening theme to Soul Eater. However, Amalee and DJ-Jo have remixed it and covered it in English, and it sounds pretty cool. Nothing appears to have been lost in translation, and Amalee has pipes! If you like this, it’s worth checking out other covers she’s done.

 

Mrs Potter’s Lullaby – Counting Crows

‘If dreams are like movies, then memories are films about ghosts.’

I really like this song. It’s been consistently on playlists since Christmas when I got the Greatest Hits album. I don’t know if it’s possible to not like this. I don’t fully understand it, but I don’t care. It’s a dream like song that just resonates with me. A real gem.

 

Don’t Let Me Down Gently – Reel Big Fish

Reel Big Fish are the band that got me into Ska-Punk. For the friends of mine that are bigger fans, I don’t care if you don’t like Candy Coated Fury. It’s a solid album that won’t fail to pick you up. Plus, lyrically, it’s hilarious. I highly recommend it. Just listen, I haven’t really got anything to say that the music doesn’t say for itself!

*I Know You Too Well To Like You Anymore will also hold a special place in my heart, also worth listening to with the amusing animated video: here.

 

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You Have Come to the Right Place

If you’re the last on Earth
Feel like you’re damned or cursed
You have come to the right place
And if you have lost yourself
You can escape the hell
You have come to the right place

The lyrics above are from the latest Sixx:A.M. single, ‘You Have Come to the Right Place.

Whenever I’m writing an entry here, the thing that usually sets everything in motion is music. There will be a particular track that just puts all the pieces in place. Maybe the chorus/title just gets your mind thinking along the path that makes you think ‘Shit, I need to start writing now.’ Sometimes it’s just a a beat that’s in time with the rhythm of your thoughts.

I have just finished a chapter in the story I’m writing and I looked at the clock. It’s 2.30am…  I am starting to see a trend in when inspiration actually strikes (see my post: Heroes, and Writing in the (2nd) Wind) and I think I may just have to accept that I think better at night, when the world is sleeping (well, not the whole world but my small part of it). I guess dreams seep into my conscious thoughts – and that’s when magic happens.

I am aware that artists get their ‘buzz‘ from different sources, but I’m starting to think that mine is depravity. If I starve my body for a little while, then the line between reality and make believe fades enough for me to play in both parks. Putting aside the fact that this isn’t particularly healthy common practice, I know it’s a right place and right time deal. I was pulling my hair out (literally) about not being able to find the words I needed to continue my story. I was bummed out about it to the extent I didn’t really want to write a blog post at all. I gave up.

I sat and played Kingdom Hearts for more or less 7 straight hours, then watched a couple of Sixx:A.M. interviews (seriously rock fans, these guys are amazing, and you should check them out if you haven’t already). This led to YouTube auto-loading their songs whilst I struggled with how to continue where I had left off on Word (guilt and frustration had drawn me back to looking at it). Then, whilst the songs played through, my typing gained momentum. Before I knew it, I had typed the closing sentence of the first big event of the story. This is when I got to thinking about where this inspiration came from and why. This is when ‘You Have Come to the Right Place’ was playing – and  when I realised, I had to laugh.

So I now understand better how to get to the ‘state of Me‘ that really has the ideas, and I have learned that sometimes you need to just let go to get to where you need to be. Now I just need to investigate how to be the most efficient. In all honesty, I know I should be going to bed (it’s 3:12am as I am typing this) but I’ve woken up a part of me that lives for the graveyard shift. I have finally got to where I need to be and I want to get as much as I can out and recorded. The sun rising will be symbolic of a new day’s worth of problems and obstacles, so why would I want to waste the dark hours when I can play God with my own universe?

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Who Do You Think You Are?

It’s actually pretty easy to be something you’re not, or simply bury a part of yourself, in front of someone else. Have you ever tried? Do it for kicks sometime. Convince someone that you’re a character of your own making. It’s not so hard, provided you understand what you’re doing and who you’re trying to be. What’s really hard is convincing yourself you’re something you’re not, or hiding away a part of what makes you ‘you’ from yourself (confused yet?). Worse yet, is when you’re not even sure who you’re supposed to be. I wonder if young actors experience this…

I think one of the most vital things when presenting something in a public medium – whether it’s in a blog, an interview, or any other format – is confidence. There’s a rule of sales that I apply to almost everything: You sell yourself before you sell your product. The one thing that causes me to hesitate in writing (whether here, or for personal projects) is my faltering faith in my writing ability. What gives me the right to write something and expect people to read it? What gives me the right to decide what would make a good story?

It’s something that is proving difficult to overcome, and despite my own belief that an original idea I have had could make a good story I am stalled by the weight of “what if you’re the only one who thinks this is a good idea?” I’ve had a couple of story ideas, one of which I’m working on now and seeing where it goes, and sometimes they really stick. The characters or scenarios playing around in my head. One reoccurring idea is about Lucifer challenging the Devil to claim his throne (wait for it…), losing, and being exiled to the land of the living for 9 lifetimes – as a cat. This cat can communicate with this guy who takes him in, and just generally causes trouble for the guy with weak demonic abilities in everyday situations. I think about scenarios for this that actually make me laugh (and kind of think of Garfield sketches on acid).

It’s random ideas like this with the corresponding thoughts that make me wonder if there’s something to them. Is there some way of making it work as a story. Sure as hell could be better story than Twilight, right? Perhaps that’s too bold of me to say at this stage, especially with no published work to back up the claim. In any case, I think it’s important to just try and see a story through, and look at the finished product for criticism rather than just the concept.

We shall see what comes. In the mean time, I will continue to write (and write and write and…). I think a word of thanks is in order to those who’ve provided the feedback I’ve received thus far in my blogging endeavors, and also to my regular readers. You guys are great, and your encouragement means more than I can say.

So Thanks.

Yours Faithfully,

Me, Myself and I. 

 

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The Jam, The Whole Jam, and Nothing but The Jam

Where to START! (I’m not even sorry) with The Jam ?

Normally I’d like to focus on an album or period but, let’s face it, The Jam was just non-stop progression from 1977-82. To pull apart and fixate on any one point in their career is… well, it’s too hard for me to do. What makes the group amazing, is the full journey of the band.

I’ve been a Jam fan since I was a kid, and in hindsight I think that was the START! (I promise I’ll stop doing that) of my love of punk and new wave: the genres that are defined by their clever lyrics and in-your-face sound. Growing up with a natural rebellious streak and always wanting to read between the lines, it was love. A love I consistently cheated on with metal and hard rock, but a love I always came home to, and shared me with glam (a sweet relationship, right?)

So, this was a recommendation. Instead of picking an album, I’ve been watching videos of Weller’s genius and listening through what they’ve done over 6 albums. This was better than commenting on hits I already know word for word, and learning some history. It only dawned on me how definitely British the group is (yeah, yeah, Weller’s voice NEVER gave that away). I mean more in terms of their success. The songs are all written about working class life in England, from “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight” to “Town Called Malice”, and the more you listen to the albums (not just the “hits”) the more you hear the influences in the sound as well as the lyrics.

Paul Weller grew up in an environment where most people only wanted to mirror what their parents had – a 3 bed house, a family, a stable job – and this fueled his writing. I think the rejection of mediocre dreams is something that always resonated with me. Although this is a foundation block to the punk movement, what he had to say in his music always hit home more than Sex Pistols or The Clash ever did. It has always been easier to relate to, particularly as I got older and now that I’m getting into the London groove.

In terms of how they got from “In The City” (1977) to “The Gift“(1982) is amazing. There are countless bands, needless to name (you can fill the gaps), that take time to find their sound and a lot of music (or quality thereof) is lost in transition . The Jam is a real rarity in that nothing was really lost and each album was great at moving from strength to strength. It makes it harder to admit, having said this, that “Going Underground” and “Beat Surrender” are still my favourite songs as they were at the end of their career, but gems like “The Eton Rifles“,  “Pretty Green” and “‘A’ Bomb in Wardour Street” that came along the way will never die.

I suppose that although I have been comparing them to punk acts, The Jam are more in the new wave (some say Mod or prog-rock, whatever) movement. However, it’s easy to draw that comparison from their influences – The Who, The Clash, Sex Pistols. I’ll always pool them with my punk albums though. Even looking at their albums, they are tight at 30-40 minutes long, with no filler, and always challenging the status quo. The same could be said of their lifespan, cranking out 6 albums and all of their singles landing in the charts, finding their sound and always maintaining relevance until the end, and beyond, all in 5 years. That’s pretty punk, but yet they’re not. 

In summation (having really not said all that much), The Jam is deserves a place in British musical heritage and was revolutionary. If nothing else, they make me want to pick up my bass and play along more than almost any other band.

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