Digital Melodia: Musical Shifts

Music.

It’s the one of the things in our lives that can either bind us together in harmony (puns already!) or cause discord (I swear I’ll stop) and tear us apart. People can become very passionate about their musical tastes, and in this passion we find a number of different kinds of musical aficionados:

The Casual:

Listening music is an enjoyable past-time when the opportunity presents itself. While no particular genre is chosen, they tend towards easy listening and (if feeling bold) some cool rock. Nothing too rambunctious or peppy… just smooth.

The Nostalgic:

While aware there are new styles of music out in the wild, this individual would rather listen to the same familiar music they’ve enjoyed for the past 20 years. Occasionally they might dabble in something new, but typically their playlist is what most people now would refer to as “classic” or “oldies”.

The Underground:

Listening to music that most people may have never heard before, these individuals choose artists and bands that play in small clubs, hidden venues, and concerts that normally don’t show up on Ticketmaster. They enjoy the live performances and the intimate atmosphere they create. They don’t do it to be “hipster”, they do it because the music makes them feel things that commercially produced music that gets pumped out en masse could never do.

The Classicist:

You guessed it: Classical music is the bread and butter of this individual and the charming dulcet tones of violins with a piano’s tickled ivories (get your mind out of the gutter!) are what drives their musical mojo. Eschewing all other types of music in favour of this well-aged auditory art form, they are more than happy to stick with strings and brass for the rest of their lives.

The Eclectic:

Anything and everything is fair game. No musical style is off the table and they believe that every genre has something new and exciting to offer from country to grunge-polka-metal-ballet (if thats not a thing, give it a couple of years… I’m sure it will be). They may not know the names of every band, artist, or full discography out there, but they enjoy almost any music they come across. They may have their favourites, but they’ll never say no to trying out something new.

And in closing…

I find that regardless of the type of music you listen to, we can all find common ground somewhere. After all, isn’t music about enjoyment and expression?

Lets all get tuned in.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye: We’re Live!

Today I have a big announcement:

The website is live!

Thanks to the good people at WordPress, we’re now a .com and feeling footloose and fancy free! (note: We didn’t get the domain package for free. We still paid… but they have great prices.)

Some things still need shuffling around, but the format will stay the same and after some tweaks and such we’ll be running more efficiently (which just means we’ll actually have more things to navigate towards).

We’re glad you could be here!

Ringtone of Silence: Call Me Crazy

Cell Phones.

We all have them, basically. We use them every day for simple things ranging from making phone calls to checking a text message, but we also slam to the other side of the spectrum and delve into games, augmented reality, and video conferencing around the globe.

I’ll bet when the Finnish company Mobira Oy introduced the first car phone in 1982 (called the Mobira Senator NMT-450), they never would have imagined their 22 pound device would eventually branch out and evolve into the digital time-sink we all seem to can’t live without (at least for more than 10 seconds, 2 feet away from us).

Over the years as cell phones have morphed and changed into making and taking calls on the go into a full computing platform, we’ve come to develop a condition that many people experience, which has been dubbed as Phantom Vibration Syndrome.

As mentioned in the above Wikipedia article, there are other charming and colloquial terms such as “ringxiety” and “fauxcellarm”. While not an actual syndrome, essentially it’s when we experience a tactile hallucination where we believe we have heard our phone ring, vibrate, or chime to let us know we’ve received a call or notification when we in fact haven’t.

I tend to experience something a bit different.

While at work, I have my phone on silent/vibrate so if a call or notification comes in, I don’t hear it. I have enough happening at work with phones ringing: I don’t need my personal phone jingling at me as well.

One day not long ago, I put my phone in my pocket before I left the house and drove to work. As the day went on, I went about my business and had a fairly productive day with the standard amount of phone calls, messages, customers to assist, questions to answer, etc. Something wasn’t quite right however, and while I couldn’t pinpoint what it was, I simply shook it off as fleeting paranoia about something I couldn’t deal with at the moment.

After my shift was over, I grabbed my coat and satchel (YES I HAVE A SATCHEL DON’T JUDGE ME IT LOOKS COOL… I THINK) and started to head out the door. My smart-watch battery was dead (another article for another day) so I pulled my phone out of my pocket and went to flick the silent switch off… but it was already there. I checked for any calls or texts that I may have missed during the day, but there was absolutely nothing.

While a lot of people I know would be horrified at the idea of not that their phone was on full volume all day, but that they didn’t get any texts/calls/notifications AT ALL.

As I stood in the doorway (probably blocking people from coming in the building), I had a sense of calm and quirky satisfaction come over me. Not because I thought nobody cared enough to reach out to me during the day, but that I didn’t have a (seemingly) hundred texts, calls, and notifications to get back too. I realized that it was really ok to not have my phone “blowing up” (as the kids say… I think) only to have to spend a half an hour or so responding to everything.

Call me crazy… but silence is my favourite ringtone.

 

Channeling Society: Rebooting Television

When I was a kid in the early 80’s, “television” was something we did in-between bouts of playing outside until it was dark and winding our way through Jupiter’s Landing on the Commodore Vic-20. Television was something that we either watched Knight Rider or MacGuyver on, or played some classic Atari or Super Mario Bros on.

The Television (lets just call it TV from this point) was never something we sat endlessly in front of to fill our time. We didn’t have what seemed like hundreds of new shows to fill our eyes and minds with. We had maybe 6 shows that the height of TV popularity, with the rest going quite literally unnoticed. One of the most important aspects to early TV, was a simple concept:

Escapism.

When we watched Micheal Knight jump into K.I.T.T to go save the day, we could never imagine something so cool happening in real life. MacGuyver making an explosive device out of gum, mint tooth floss, a paperclip, and a match? Nothing in our wildest dreams could prepare us for that. How about the gang from Happy Days? We would have arguments as kids about how much cooler The Fonz was than Batman, Superman, or Hulk Hogan.

We watched these shows to escape to another world very different from ours, despite not knowing this as kids. As we grew up, TV became more action packed and serious. Gone were the days of Airwolf and the A-Team which, while action-oriented, had moments of comedy and levity that kept our kid-brains from being too scarred. TV when we were teenagers were delving into more serious fare, like Degrassi (the original, of course) and Beverly Hills, 90210.

Sure, we had sitcoms galore… but TV was starting to take a more adult turn towards the issues and scenarios teens were facing. Party of Five, Dawson’s Creek, and My So-Called Life. These were shows that most teenagers of the day watched, riveted by the stories and lives of the characters on screen that seemed to mirror some of their own experiences, worries, and concerns. TV was slowly becoming less of an escape and more of a socieital reflection.

The 2000’s brought us The Wire, Freaks and Geeks, Friday Night Lights, and even Veronica Mars. While some of the shows in the 2000’s had some comedy and genre-busting qualities, TV was now something that we weren’t quite escaping too… but becoming attached to as a way to try and cope with our own problems and situations, hoping these fictional characters had the answers we were looking for in our own lives.

Now in 2018, TV is starting to move away from its sometimes dark, definitely adult tones into something else: Retro.

People online have been complaining about all of the remakes and reboots of some of their favourite shows: X-Files had been resurrected for a couple more seasons. Will and Grace has come back. A reboot of Charmed is in the works, and even Murphy Brown is returning. I honestly believe that this is not going to be a bad thing, due to a side of this that people are completely missing. Something that society needs, not as a way to ignore what is happening in the world and the things affecting our lives, but as a way to maybe de-stress and distract our minds from the constant anxiety and fears we face every day:

An escape.

Kung-Fu Movies: Real Life Translation

First off, I love a good kung-fu movie.

In highschool, kung-fu movies were all the rage. We were forever comparing the martial arts prowess of Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris, debating for what seemed like hours on the technical merit, power moves, and unlikely battle scenarios of each action star. A passerby might catch the occasional “But all Chuck Norris has is a round-house kick!” or “Bruce Lee could NEVER win a fight without his nunchucks!” coming away from the heated conversations.

Because we were completely saturated with kung-fu, wu-shu, and every martial art we could greedily shove into our eyes, we often fancied ourselves experts-by-proxy… including many hilariously awful demonstrations to each other of our imagined prowess.

The one aspect to this that we did not expect in least was That Guy.

You know who I’m talking about.

That Guy everyone knew, no matter the city or town you lived in, that took kung-fu movies WAY to seriously and honest-to-God thought he knew martial arts simply because he watched every movie in the genre available to him. That Guy would swear up and down that he “totally for real bro” knew how to execute all of the moves or had a cousin in another town (“yeah you wouldn’t know him”) that taught him these sweet and deadly skills.

Naturally, That Guy would be the first one to find you and your group of friends talking about some action movie you’ve just seen recently and decide to launch himself into the discussion (unwanted, of course), complete with hand movements and wobbly leg kicks (“yeah I’m off my balance this morning from all of the chi exercises last night!”). The worst was yet to come.

After regailing the group with tales of his kung-fu adventures and skillful exectution of “body poetry” (his words, not ours), That Guy decides to up his game and insist that someone, anyone come at him so he can “totally for real bro” prove he knows what he’s talking about. This is where the worst has arrived.

One member of our group of friends had enough of That Guy’s kung-fu bluster and accepted The Challenge of taking him on. After all, That Guy had his honour to defend and mastery of the arts to display. However, That Guy didn’t realize that his opponent was, unbeknownst to him, an actual martial artist. Thats right: a true blue 4th-degree black belt in Taekwondo.

He never advertised it because he was a pretty humble and quiet guy, rarely talking or contributing to our kung-fu discussions, despite being the only one who actually knew what he was talking about and could easily kill our fun (and us) by pointing out every flaw in our logic… but he didn’t. We all just knew he was quiet, deadly, and we swore to each other secretly a ninja, so we felt a sense of “nobody is going to mess with us while he’s hanging out” type of security.

That Guy didn’t realize that his adversary was about to impart some ancient wisdom on him in the first few seconds of their confrontation:

“Don’t Poke The Bear”.

Our friend warned That Guy that he would not attack him first, that no action on his part would be taken unless provoked, and that if attacked head-on he would have no choice but to take it as a threat to his personal safety and defend himself in kind. It was like the kind of disclaimer one would hear right before you’re about to touch a bolt of lightning and Zeus tells you “Its going to hurt, you’ll probably scream, throw up, then black out”.

It turns out Zeus’s disclaimer was spot on for what was about to happen next.

That Guy launched himself at our friend with a comically off-pitch “KIIII-YA!” and swung his open hand at him in what he must have assumed would be a fight-ending neck chop. What happened instead was our friend quietly slid to the side out of the way, grabbed That Guy’s arm, did some kind of too-fast-for-the-eye movement, and ended up spinning That Guy around… only to jump in the air like a gazelle, and round-house kick That Guy in the chest.

That Guy must have read Zeus’s disclaimer before hand (and promptly ignored it) as he definitely looked like he was hurting, he screamed something we can only imagine That Guy thought was Japanese, he threw up on the ground, then blacked out… right on cue.

Of course all of the commotion That Guy had caused drew a crowd, and at this point it was a couple hundred high-schoolers watching in abject fear and awe that this normally quiet and unassuming kid just martial arts-ed the stuffing out of That Guy. The principal had run out of the school to see what the heck was going on, and only caught the tail end of the encounter. Everyone had heard our friend give his own warning to That Guy before-hand, and vouched for the fact that he didn’t start the fight but boy howdy did he ever finish it.

The principal took both our friend and the now waking up and shaky That Guy into the office to call their parents to find out what to do with them as fighting wasn’t allowed in our school. It was a short conversation when the parents arrived. Our friend essentially got off free and clear due to the self-defense case, and That Guy’s parents took him home for a few days to rest up and think about his actions.

The next week we saw That Guy walking towards the group, only to have him spot our friend and do a complete 180 degree turn and bolt in the opposite direction. I guess he had all the kung-fu he could handle and didn’t want seconds.

To this day, when ever I watch a kung-fu movie, I think back to our friend and the time he was set upon by his nemesis: That Guy.

KIIII-YA!

Punctuality: New Concept or Old Hat?

Time.

Its like internet bandwidth.

We barely give it a second thought. We believe its unlimited and that it’ll never run out. We believe that as users, we have a right to whatever it has to offer.

What we fail to realize is that (in this analogy), time is not unlimited and it will eventually run out for each of us. As human beings (“users” for the sake of the same analogy), time is a privelege. We need to respect it and treat it with care, because once its gone, its never to be retrieved.

One facet of time that society has adopted is punctuality.

According to Wikipedia, “Punctuality is the characteristic of being able to complete a required task or fulfill an obligation before or at a previously designated time. “Punctual” is often used synonymously with “on time”. It is also acceptable that punctual can also, be related to talking about grammar, mean “to be accurate”. In cultures which value punctuality, being late is seen as disrespectful of others’ time and may be considered insulting”.

I was raised to understand that when two people agree to meet somewhere at a certain time, it is expected that both parties will arrive at the agreed upon place at that time. If one or both parties are unable to meet that deadline due to unforseen circumstances, it is expected that they give each other proper notice in advance so other plans can be made without disruption to any further appointments either party may have.

What is not acceptable in today’s society is showing up late by arriving after the agreed upon time and place. Also not acceptable: not showing up at all and informing the other party that you will meet them elsewhere at a certain time that works for them… and not you.

Apparently punctuality is not being taught to anyone BY anyone, as more and more people believe time is like our bandwidth. Forever there with no end, and not worthy of a second though.

Its time to unplug the modem.