Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nothing


When I was younger (Grade 8 maybe) I happened upon this fantastic play on the CBC called White Mice. I taped this play and listened to it over and over again as it ripped apart things like capitalism and whiteness and, though I had no idea what it meant, its ideas affect me even to this day.

There was this one line in it where the characters discuss how people in western society have so much leisure time that they don't feel relaxed but at the same time don't get anything done and so they've developed the ability to talk about nothing, thus explaining the popularity of Jerry Seinfeld and the show that carries his name.

Nothing is what I've been doing for the past week or so. My family all came, there were children running about for a few days, and we told a lot of silly stories but they all went away and now I've been sitting around my parents large, suburban home with very little expected of me.

This reminds me of a song my friend Tyler wrote.... called Nothing

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Live from the Library


As I write this in the basement of Douglas Library at school, I wonder if, at any moment, someone might peek over my shoulder and ask me what I'm doing. Such is the joy of exam season.

I'm currently only about 72 hours away from freedom from school for a couple of weeks, and while I may still have to plow through some Greek catch up over the break (I'm not sure if I passed my exam) I'm looking forward to the prospect of enjoying time at home with my family, and being able to play some music. I've been so swamped by school as of late that I haven't really had time to do much playing as of late (save recording a Coldplay cover I promised for a friend).

The break is going to be nice, but first I have to study....

Friday, November 21, 2008

Curry

My coat smells like curry. This reminds me of my old friend Jimmy.

Wait, Go back.

When I was a little kid my neighbourhood had a bunch of kids and we formed a little club of sorts. There were about 10 of us and we all knew each other pretty well, we had all been in each others houses, we all spent a lot of time together, especially in the summer. Curry reminds me of this, because one of the friends in this group was Jimmy. Jimmy’s parents are from india and his house always smelled of curry. One day they got a central air system, and I thought Jimmy was trying to surprise me, but then I discovered that it was just the central air system pumping out the smell of curry.

Curry is one of those smells that you can never really get rid of. I once read a book in which the main character’s mom had a marijuana grow-op in her basement (don’t ask…) and when she had to refine her crop she always made curry to mask the smell of pot. I think that makes so much sense because curry fills the air with its scent, and it lingers. My housemate made curry for supper, and all of the clothes I own that were in the general vicinity of the kitchen, now smell like curry, and will probably continue to smell that way for a while.

Now that I look back, I wonder if kids still do the whole “neighbourhood club” thing that we did back then. We were a really tight group of friends, based solely on our geographical proximity to each other, and we shared a lot of sweet times together. I can remember staying out until late evening playing hide and seek and having to be told to come in because it was time for my bath. I remember hide and seek being awesome because there were enough of us to make it fun.

Oh man, this reminds me of this one time when there was a girl who I had a massive crush on and I was trying to start this conversation with her and go deep and I launched into this whole “don’t you miss childhood” think on MSN and I’m pretty sure she thought I was a total weirdo. That’s actually the only msn conversation I’ve ever had with her.

All of this to say that memories come back to me so easily sometimes. All it takes is a whiff of curry and my brain is filled with memories and thoughts to write down here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Why there Seems to Be a Loss of Creativity Over Here

Sometimes I get depressed.

This is not related specifically to anything in particular that's going on in my life. I like to think (at least right now I like to think) that things in my life are going poorly all of the time and it's my perception of those things that indicated whether I'm depressed or not.

Example 1. I do not currently, and have not ever had a girlfriend. Sometimes this doesn't bother me. Sometimes it bothers me a little bit but I'm able to push it aside and enjoy the multitude of friends that I do in fact have. Sometimes I'm thankful that I'm not tied down by having a girlfriend at all. But when I'm depressed, this fact bothers me to the point where it makes me very upset. It causes me to reevaluate everything about my life, it makes me angry at God, and it makes me upset when I have to spend time alone and bottle up the troubles I'm having because I don't feel like I have anyone to confide them in (remembering of course that I'm depressed while I think these things).

Example 2. Usually, I like to spend time with people. Usually I enjoy hanging with people and enjoying their company and serving and working and all those wonderful things. Usually I like having deep spiritual discussions with people. When I'm depressed I want to do things by myself. I want to read emotionally involving books, I want to watch movies that are entertaining and that I haven't seen in a while. I want to play video games. I want to make up sombre songs on my guitar and play jazz. I want to listen to "Sigur Ros" and "Christmas Time is Here" over and over and over again. I want the world to stop bothering me.

Example 3. Usually, I spend time caring about things in life. I care about school, I care about chores, I care about the cleanliness level of my room (arguably....), and I care about doing jobs well. When I'm depressed, I care about very little. I care about my immediate needs and how to fulfill them with as little energy as possible. I care about finding things that are instantly gratifying. I don't care that I have a lab to do on Tuesday, a Greek quiz on Wednesday that I will no doubt fail, a bio quiz on Tuesday that I'm not ready for, and a chemistry assignment that I will have to prepare for. None of these assignments seem particularly urgent, nor particularly pressing.

Sometimes I wonder why I get this way. It's not like anything specific sets it off, my brain just decides to work slowly. And it's not like you'd notice. Somehow I manage to force myself to feign emotions long enough to appear "usual".

In the words of a popular song "You'll have to excuse me, I'm not at my best".

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

That Old Timey Music

When I lived with my parents we had this kind of unspoken rule in the house. Christmas Music was not to be played until at least November. Any earlier than that and I ran the risk of driving my mom crazy with pre-christmas induced madness (by the way, pre-christmas madness is a disease characterized by a sudden onset of stress as a result of the things that need to be done in relation to the holiday season and the lessening amount of time to do them). When I was a kid this wasn't really a big problem because as a child I didn't have the vested interest in music that I have now, and I never really liked any of our Christmas music anyways. I didn't really want to "have a super duper Christmas with Jesus this year"(fact: that's an actual lyric from one of my parents Christmas CD's). I love Jesus and everything but I can't take that kind of attitude. I needed something more...real. So I continued to be blissfully ignorant of the Christmas Music law.

Then one day my sister Alison brought over the soundtrack to "A Charlie Brown Christmas". At the time I didn't really listen to a lot of Jazz but I remember enjoying it a lot. Then Christmas came and went, and I forgot about this "Vince Guaraldi Trio" business. Then about 2 years ago when I was in Grade 11, I remembered this Vince fellow and went out and purchased "A Charlie Brown Christmas". My mom was rather unhappy with me that year because she doesn't really like jazz music and I must have listened to that album a billion times that Christmas. I LOVED it, and I dug it out at every possible opportunity.

Every Christmas since that day, I've dug out that album on November 1st and taken the time to enjoy it's playful tone, and its flighty piano solos, while also appreciating its subdued manner and the feel of songs like "Christmas Time is Here", and "My Little Drum". This album pretty much sums up everything about how I feel about Christmas in instrumental forms and I love it.

I think somewhere back home, my mother is happy that she doesn't have to hear it again until I go home on the 13th.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

We Now Return to Our Regular Scheduled Programming

Thanks for putting up with my brief political interlude. Part of the reason I posted it in the first place was because I was sorely lacking in post thoughts as of late. I also posted it because I actually feel like the world is a very different place now and I couldn't think of a different way to express it than simply stating how I felt about the whole thing.

Part of the reason I posted it is because supporting Barack Obama is the hip thing to do these days.....

Sometimes I wonder why celebrities get behind similar political figures all the time. Whenever you see videos about supporting a particularly liberal politician, they always have a huge truckload of celebrities behind them. Case in point? "Yes We Can".



That video has a truckload of celebrities in it. And you would think that among all of those celebrities at least one of them would support McCain or go the other way or something but they all support Obama. What is that? Is it actually them all supporting him or are they just doing it to make themselves look good?

Here's to supporting people out of honesty because, let's be honest, nobody wants to make themselves look good by copying me. I have poor PR skills.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can!

Yesterday the world was a bad place. Yesterday I wasn't sure where life was going. Yesterday I felt cynical, dissatisfied, and had a low level of frustration with the way things were happening.

Yesterday a Black Democratic man was elected President of the United States of America.




Now I don't expect Barack Obama to fix all the problems in the world, I don't expect him to be a savior, and I don't expect him to be perfect, but I must say this. His election has cured me of my cynicism. For once in my life, I've seen people turn to someone who appears to honestly be trying to make a difference and chosen him as their leader. So what am I trying to say?

Yes we can.

Friday, October 24, 2008

An Evening of Homelessness


I'm supposed to be studying psyc right now (if I had a nickel for every time I started a post like that....) but my mac is busy so while I wait, I'll give you a summary of an evening of homelessness.

The idea for this evening came out of a Tuesday meeting where we were discussing plans to have an evening of homelessness in conjunction with a showing of a new monasticism documentary. Sadly, the documentary showing was cancelled but we decided to go on with our night of homelessness anyways, choosing to combine it with the birthday celebrations of Jason and Brendan instead.

The evening began with a celebratory meal at a brew pub in Ottawa where we ate, drank, and enjoyed each others company. Then we split up and set out, Brendan and Jason heading off together, and Todd, Chelsea, Taylor, Liz Nolan, and myself heading off in a different direction.

As our motley crew of 5 stopped for a moment to discuss what to do, we decided to split up the tasks between us. Taylor and Todd were both ready to panhandle so they split off from myself and the girls, in search of some money to hopefully buy us some food or something. (It's worth pointing out at this point that we had ditched our wallets/purses to make it through the night with only whatever we could scrounge. Todd tried approaching generous looking people and asking them for money in the market (he recieved 2 bus tickets) while Taylor tried sitting on the sidewalk with his hat in front of him in a club area(he managed to accumulate $4).

While Todd and Taylor were off doing that, Liz, Chelsea and I set off in search of a place to sleep. This isn't as easy as it may sound because Ottawa has this thing about people not being allowed to sleep in parks and such, so we had to find a place that was sheltered, soft-ish, and secluded. We searched the grounds of parliament, under a bridge near some steam vents, and the forest next to a pathway and decided on the pathway. It was impossible to see down to, had enough space for all of us, and was reasonably soft.

After we had completed our respective tasks, we met up again and headed down to make camp. Todd and I weren't ready to try and sleep though so we headed across the locks in search of a place to sleep if it were to rain. We scouted some woods and eventually found that we could get underneath one of the bridges to Hull. I mulled around under there for a little while before we decided to head back to camp.

When we returned, we all bedded down as best we could. Todd brought a sleeping bag, I brought a rather light blanket and was wearing my winter coat, and Taylor was going to try to go without anything. He used a few pieces of news papers to insulate the ground but that was it. I managed to get a little comfortable by wrapping the blanket around my knees and pulling my arms inside my coat, and I slept on and off from about 2:30 until 4. At 4 though, the temperature had dropped considerably (to about -4 C) and my blanket ceased to be useful. So I gave up on sleeping and headed out to walk around and try and find a place to warm up.

I wandered around the market area of downtown Ottawa looking for anywhere to get in from the cold and maybe use a bathroom. In my hour of walking around though, I found myself with no options except a parking garage and that wasn't particularily helpful since I could see the security guard on duty, ready to kick me out, as soon as he realized that I wasn't there for parking.

It got so cold that I ended up hudling against the exhaust vent of the NAC parking garage for 20 minutes because the air coming out of there was just a few degrees warmer than the outside air. Then I headed back to our camp to wait for the morning light now that it was about 5 AM.

When I got back Todd asked me how I was doing. When I told him I was still freezing, he offered me his sleeping bag out of the graciousness of his heart. I cudled inside, laid back, and managed to doze for another half an hour or so. I started listening for the chimes of the peace tower clock to tell me when the night would be over.

I was so cold that I actually felt as if I would never become warm again. I was so tired that I felt I would never sleep again. And I was so hungry that I felt as if my stomach was eating itself.

Finally though, the morning light came, everyone got up, and we began our trek to a place we had agreed to meet for breakfast. We met up with Jason and Brendan and we all happily ate breakfast together, glad to finally be warm and fed.

One last note, for a few days after our night, whenever I would feel a slight chill, my body would instantly feel so cold it hurt. It's amazing to see how the body reacts after just one night of cold shock.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Point Form Power Packed Post with Proposterious Potency

What a weekend. Let me tell you all about it. 

On Saturday night my housemates and I headed out to Ottawa for a birthday celebration. Now this wasn't just any old birthday celebration. Sure, we went to a pub for supper, but once that was done it was time for a birthday celebration house famous style. On Saturday night we were homeless for a night. I won't recount the evenings events here because they're likely going to be posted on the house famous blog shortly (check the link "A community of friends and believers" in the sidebar) but I'll give you a brief rundown of what I learned from the experience in point form (because I have to go write a greek midterm in 5 minutes).

-Downtown Ottawa is very busy
-businesses are much less friendly when you don't have money/aren't buying anything from them
-October nights are cold
-a sleeping bag is a wonderful invention
-as soon as you don't have a permanent address, the police become the biggest pain in the world
-nothing is open at 4 AM when you can't sleep because it's so cold
-panhandling is the single most humbling experience in the world. Even just the act of sitting against a wall on the sidewalk is humbling
-a bed is the greatest invention in the world

If you're curious about exactly what happened please ask in a comment. If enough people want I'll post up a full summary of the evening.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This is Embarassing

I just realized that my link "Older Writer Sister Alison" has been misspelled for months as "writier". I am an awful person.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"You're Definitely In It Right Now"


A couple of years back I discovered that I could get up on top of my roof if I pulled the screen  in our bathroom out, and climbed up around the side. Now, you would think that this wouldn't really be that big of a deal. I mean, after all, if you were to ask your average person where getting onto the roof of their house ranked on their list of priorities, they'd probably just laugh at you and go about their business. But not so for me in this case. This was a huge deal for me.

See, I had always had this secret ambition of climbing up onto the roof of my house (now my parents house), sitting there, and just watching the neighborhood go by and thinking, and watching the birds. Now I had a way of doing that, now I could get up to a place where I could be alone and I could do something that I had always wanted to do.

Another time, it was the middle of winter and I was lying in bed and I couldn't get to sleep. For some reason I had some thought stuck in my head or something and here I was, late at night, still awake. And so a thought came into my mind. I thought "I want to climb the tree in our front yard".

Now a little background here might be of some assistance. This tree is one that I had climbed tons of times before (one summer I began timing the speeds of my climbs), so climbing it was nothing special, and this was the middle of winter, there was snow everywhere. But for whatever reason I really wanted to climb this tree. So I snuck out of bed, put on my coat, some mitts, and some boots, and I climbed that tree and sat in it for almost an hour.

The thing is, my parents are probably the only people who've ever heard about these two stories, the first because my mom asked me to stop because I almost broke the window and the second because I woke up my dad when I was heading out. If these experiences are things I really hold special to me then why does no one ever hear about them until much much later.

The reason is this. Sometimes we do things just for ourselves. We get up early and watch the sun rise, we stay up all night to say we did, we run there instead of walking, we hike that trail. We do these things, not because we think it's useful or necessary, or because it will gain us popularity or friends, but because we just want to do it for us, and that's ok. Because not everything in life has to make sense or serve some kind of grander function. Sometimes we can just be, and do whatever it is we want, and that's ok.

Monday, October 13, 2008

How Embarassing

Sometimes I look at pictures of people on Facebook. Now you may be wondering what's unique about this particular activity, and some of you may even be thinking "Well Mr. Gresik, I do exactly the same thing". The reason I bring this up is because sometimes I look at pictures of certain people on Facebook and see the contents of said pictures and the activites recorded therin and think to my self "Well that's disappointing".

I catch myself doing this a lot now, partly because I spend more time on Facebook as a weapon of procrastination and partly because I seem to have more friends who do things that make me think these things. It causes me to stop and wonder why in the world I do this. What is it about males and females that I know dressing up and going to town in a variety of ways that causes me to be disappointed in them.

I know what it is, it just saddens me that this is how I think. It all ultimately comes down to the fact that I wasn't allowed to participate in said activities and automatically thought that those who did participate in them were doing something bad. Now this isn't to say that sometimes when I find pictures disappointing it's only me, sometimes they are actually making poor choices, but the root of my reaction comes from this lengthy period of time where I wasn't allowed to "go to parties" or "hit the bars".

Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever get over these kinds of gut reactions/thoughts.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Stalling

I'm supposed to be deriving trigonometric functions right now but my brain is running on a severe shortage of both sleep and glucose so I'm gonna go ahead and say I won't be doing anymore deriving until after supper.

Once upon a time I used to have a blog that I started in Grade 10 that actually went on for a while. I feel like I had varying levels of success with it, mostly because it balanced somewhere in between being an outlet for my random philosophical moments and a summary of my daily events. I'm thinking that the quality went south whenever I leaned towards the latter. I think that people read blogs when they want to hear what you're thinking, not what you're doing. If they wanted to know what you were doing on that particular day they probably could have just called you up and asked or sent an email or something. 

The problem with running a blog on philosophical musings though is that it leads to an erratic and inconsistent level of output (as evidenced by some of my one sentence posts during the summer). It also has a tendency to make me want to use a lot of big words (as evidenced by the previous sentence...).  So where does one strike the balance between careful thought and consistent content.

I think I had it right a few times when I would be doing something and I would come up with ways to blog about it in a creative way. Silly, I know, but effective. I find that unless I think someone else is going to look at them I sort of just let my thoughts run free and I tend to learn lessons slower because I don't process them.

So in conclusion, this is now my public outlet for examples of my stupidity or lessening infancy. I hope you all enjoy.

PS. Thank you for reading a blog about blogging. You have my utmost adoration and respect.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fantasies, Chick Flicks, and Kids shows

You're probably wondering how in the world I'm going to combine those three things and to be honest I'm not totally sure. My writing skills have been pretty steadily declining as of late but this is my attempt at putting them into practice once again.

Once upon a time, when I was younger than I am now, I used to read this book called "Ender's Game". It's about a time in the future when humanity is at war with aliens and takes to training young children from the age of 10 to be military leaders, based on a screening process. Ender is one of these kids who goes through this screening process and he gets selected to go off to this place called Battle School where he meets new friends, and has some crazy adventures.
When I was younger I used to read this book obsessively. I read it all the way through in 4 days the first time and then I read it over and over again after that. There was one point at which I had it in the bathroom and while I was in there "doing my business" I would read 4 or 5 pages because I loved that book so much.

I don't think I'm alone in getting really crazy about things like this. I had some friends in High School who would watch some "chic flicks" religiously like "The Notebook" or "A Walk to Remember" (something about that Nicholas Sparks guy). What was it that made them latch on to those movies so tightly and love watching them again and again?

And to be honest, Ender's Game wasn't the only part of my childhood that I got really into. This is sort of an embarassing story but when I was kid I got really intimately involved in the show "Digimon". I watched every episode of every season multiple times and would sit up at night wondering how it would be possible to make life like that and how cool that would be. I was obsessed.

What is it that makes me or anyone else for that matter so obsessed with some things? Do all of these things have something in common? I think they do. See, I got really into Ender's Game because I was absolutely enamoured with the idea of getting on a space ship and flying to a completely new place where all the rules for things were totally different and you were put in a place where you could have this amazing experience. Chick Flicks are all about a new guy/girl showing up and taking you to places where you've never been, leading you on a totally new experience. And as lame as it is, Digimon was a show about kids being dropped into a completely diffferent world with all new things.

I feel like myself and others latch on to this idea of completely new experiences. People want to get out of wherever they are right now and go somewhere else. People want to hop on a plane to California, Vegas, British Columbia, or Europe and start over again. We love the idea of being dumped into something totally new and having adventures as a result of this.

I don't know where this realization/discovery gets me. I'm still stuck here for at least the rest of this year without hope of complete change, but at least I rest firm in the fact that lots of other people feel the same way I do. They'd like to get on a spaceship and go to battle school.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lying on the Bedroom Floor

I feel like I've heard that line in a lot of songs or something.




I'm pretty much just lying on my bedroom floor listening to music and doing nothing and for some reason I feel like this would be a good time for a post. This idea seems counter-intuitive to me though because I don't really have anything to write about except lying on the floor.

I guess I could tell you about the music I'm listening to right now.... Once upon a time I was enamored with a little thing called anime. And in my time in this particular state I happened upon a show called "Samurai Champloo". The show was interesting in that it had this whole anachronism thing going on with this strange mix of feudal (Edo period) Japan and samurai culture, and then all this influence from hip hop culture. It was a really sweet show and I'd recommend that you check it out if you get the chance (subtitled of course. Down with Dubbing!). However, as I watched this show I got really into the soundtrack and discovered that a good chunk of it was done by a Japanese Hip Hop producer/artist named "Nujabes". I started downloading and listening to his stuff on and off all over the place and quite enjoyed it mostly because it was largely instrumental hip-hop which meant that I could just kind of chill to it without having some kind of message thrust at me.

So recently I went and looked up some of his albums and decided to check them out and have fallen in love with them. Nujabes style is such that pretty much anyone can get sucked into the music, partly because it has such a strong groove to it and it's largely lacking in rapping and what is there is really well delivered which makes for some sweetness.

I'm particularly fond of a track called "Sign" which is just a guy rapping about all the signs he sees and what they meet and whether people are paying attention to them. It's been making me think about what's going on in the world and what I'm seeing around me and whether I'm doing anything about it.

The moments where I connect with music the most is when I feel like it speaks some truth that I can grab a hold of.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm Listening to The Frames Right Now.....

So if this post seems a tad melodramatic then you'll know why.

I feel obligated to update this thing more often than I do right now, partly because this is the only real place where I write anymore, and partly because I hate going to peoples blogs and finding that they're not updated time after time. I find that gratingly annoying. I also feel obligated to write about music more because that was the whole point of this thing in the first place so I'm going to make an effort to do both of those things.

I've been trying to organize and write songs more as of late. It's hard because I just started university, and seldom think to pick up my guitar and sit down and work on a song. Despite this, I've still been able to write 2 more "song pieces" in the past couple of weeks which is more than I can say about the summer so that's encouraging.

Still, though I've been able to write guitar parts and fills, I haven't been able to write lyrics for anything I write as of late. I think it's because my heads been all crazy and occupied with business and school and less occupied with feelings and reflections. In order to remedy this I'm going to try doing some more journaling and poetry writing just to try and get myself back into the mode of writing out my thoughts in a semi-abstract manner and to practice putting my thoughts down on something.

It's frustrating that the only reason I don't work on writing more is because I don't have any lengthy periods of time to just sit down and really work at it. I have tons of thoughts floating around in my head from the summer and things I've been thinking and if I sat down and really worked at it for a week and forgot about school I could probably put together a solid albums worth of songs but instead I have to try and squeeze my songwriting in amongst all of my schooling and other activities. I need another RPM challenge where I push stuff out of the way for music.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Higher Education (Possibly with the emphasis on the High part depending on who you are)

I hope whoever's still reading this thing has gotten used to the fact that I really only ever post when something hits me hard enough to sit down and try and sort it out in a coherent manner. This just happened to be about 2 minutes ago so here you are, a brand new post.

It's been almost 2 weeks since camp is over and I feel like camp was months ago. It feels like it's been a very long time since I was there.

So why does it feel like this? I think it might have something to do with the total discontinuity between camp life and my life here in Kingston. Allow me to provide you with a list of the things that have changed in the last 2 weeks.

-lost some friends
-gained a whole pile of new friends
-met lots of new people
-participated in "Frosh Week" activities for 6 days straight immediately upon the end of camp
-completely changed academic environments
-completely changed religious environments
-experienced nothing but good things
-haven't had any negative experiences with anyone in a position of administration thus far

That's kind of a hard to follow list but basically there was a clean break from my head space in the summer and my head space now. I think that's contributed me to feeling like the summer was much longer ago than it actually was. I like it though. I think that I'm going to like university life much more than I enjoyed camp life....which seems backwards but if things keep going the way they're going then this year looks like it's going to put camp to shame.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thought of the Day

Why have 3 out of 5 people I've worked with this summer not made it to the end of their term of employment?

Friday, August 15, 2008

And You Thought Summer Camp was Glamorous...

One hour and thirty minutes-The Amount of time I will have today where I am not working

Three Hours-The amount of time off my contract says I will receive "On Average"

One Hundred and Twenty Six Point Five-The Number of hours I will have worked by the end of this week

One Hundred and Twenty Five Dollars-The amount of money I will receive at the end of this week as compensation

Seven-The number of children under the care of myself and my cohort this week

Three-The number of children under my care whom I would like to lock in a room somewhere for the rest of the day if it wasn't in violation of camp policy and numerous federal regulations.

Anger-The emotion which occupies my brain for the majority of the day

Wednesday and Friday-The days on which I have consumed coffee on this particular week

Fifteen Days-The number of days I am contractually obligated to remain here.

Tired-How I am right now


Despite all my complaints camp is OK but I'll be thinking long and hard and approaching it much differently before accepting an offer of employment next year.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Reevaluation

Things happen at camp and it always leaves me hating camp by about this point in the summer. Last year it was a little bit later because I was in the throes of CREW at this point of the summer last year, but it still came hard and I just wanted to get out of camp. So naturally, I find myself trying to figure out how to make camp less crappy for me at this point in the summer. The easiest way for me to do this is to make my self really busy because I only get frustrated with administration and all that crap when I don't work a whole lot.

But this summer I'm trying a different route this year. I'm trying to help people. This week I've been trying to be around other people's cabins a lot, and I've been jumping into my activity leading (firebuilding....no I don't have any formal training but I had a crash course this year) in full force. Then next week and the week after I'm doing something I told myself I'd never do again; cabin leading. Under normal circumstances I probably wouldn't have volunteered myself for this particular job but we're really short staffed and people that are burnt out were going to be forced to go back in cabin because there was no one to replace them, so I volunteered to go in cabin for Squeeze 2 and Rock on Rock. You guys might want to start praying for me now because if it's anything like my last two consecutive weeks in cabin I'm going to be toast.

Ben

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Complaining

I feel like the only times I ever post on here as of late is when I'm pissed off or upset or tired or not happy or something. I feel a little bad about it but then I remember that if I didn't complain here I'd probably complain in regular life a lot more. I apologize for making you, my fine readers, into an audience for my discontentment.

This summer has made me wonder why camp makes me frustrated, or upset, or angry or whatever about all this stuff that I've been posting about. Why do I only get upset at my friend for not spending time with me when I'm at camp and living in close proximity to them? Why do I get angry about my job and how lazy it makes me feel only when I'm here doing a job that should feel like a lot of fun? Why do people's personalities grate against me so much at camp when there seems to be no problem with it normally? Is it possible that too much time spent together just brings everyone's anxieties straight out to the forefront? I think so.

Which makes me wonder. Can I solve all these anxieties by using some of the things that I learned in the house, or am I destined to fret for the remainder of the summer? Stay Tuned.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Friends...

I often wonder if I have unrealistic expectations of some of my friends here at camp. I don't think I do but for some reason when I expect that because I'm friends with someone it means I will occasionally eat meals with them, will see them more than once a week, and will receive some kind of updates as to how they're feeling, I am constantly disappointed. I feel like I'm being reasonable here but I guess some people think that I require too much.

Sincerely
The Ever Critical
Ben

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No One Left on my Team

It's been an interesting couple of days here at camp and the result is that I'm left at my own team. I don't really know what to do when I'm standing around with no warning and all of a sudden everyone on my team is gone. I feel like I'm all alone in a massive crowd. I'll make it through somehow but it was nicer to have other people working with me.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thought of the Day About Camp

An organization is only as good as the amount of people its administrators are accountable to.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Dark Dark Knight Night

J and I are going to see "The Dark Night" tonight at midnight with a few friends. Crazy, I know, but we felt that it was important enough to have to go and see it as soon as possible. We also wanted to go because the house is going to a new monasticism conference this weekend and we might not be able to go to see it. Tomorrow is going to be a very long day.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Responsibility

I hate being responsible.

Being responsible means forcing other people to follow the rules when I want to break them just as much as they do.

Being responsible means that I have to actually plan ahead for things instead of being able to enjoy the joys of spontaneity.

Being responsible means that I have to think about others needs and put them ahead of my own sometimes even if it means that I feel like poop as a result of this.

Being responsible means not telling people how I feel about them even though I really want to get it out of my system.

I hate being responsible.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mail!

Hello friends, if you want to remain my friends you must send me mail (not really but if you want to be really nice then send me mail). In order to do this send mail here.

Chapman C/O
Camp Iawah
304 Iawah Rd. RR#2
Godfrey, ON
K0H 1T0

If I recieve mail from you, you will have my love and affection for as long as I can remember that you mailed me stuff.

Ben

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thoughts About Endings and Beginnings

In 3 hours I will be finished High School forever....for real this time, and I must say, it's about time. This year has been so drawn out and frustrating at times that I'm super glad that in about 3 hours I won't have to go back and deal with those people in that building ever again. A word to the wise, don't ever go back for a victory lap in a new school if you're switching from Grade 11 to Grade 12 courses halfway through the semester. You will have no friends.

At the same time though I'm glad I did it. I feel like this year I made some pretty big leaps towards changing the kind of person I am and I think that next year will be better because of it. So here's to endings and new beginnings.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Single Greatest Creative Unit Ever Invented (or, The Band for short)

Songwriting is a tricky business. You first have to deal with the playing of an instrument, and then you have to deal with chords, verses, choruses, all the forms of the current song form. Then once you've got your music written, you've got to put some lyrics in there, and then you've got to deal with all the other parts of the song, the arrangement, the instrumentation, it's an exhausting business, especially when you're trying to do it all by yourself.

I've been pondering all of these things this weekend as I attended 2 nutter days of concerts featuring Stars, Death Cab for Cutie, The National, Modest Mouse, and R.E.M. "How can I write songs that connect with people like this? How can I create something like this that I'm proud of? How am I supposed to live up to people as talented as this". I wasn't really sure how to answer these questions before this weekend but it kind of hit me, sometime between when the National finished their set and when Michael Stipe said "I sweated today and as a Georgian I F***ing loved it". The reason that all of these bands I was watching had all of these songwriting skills and sounded cohesive and every part was great was because they collaborated on their music. There were singers who wrote the lyrics and the melody, there were guitarists who wrote guitar parts, there were horn players who wrote horn parts that filled things in quite nicely, there were bass players who had created basslines that brought things together, and there were drummers who created beats that complemented what everyone else was doing very well.

Each one of these individual members of the band each had something to bring to each song, be it a riff or a beat or a line, and while individually they may have been able to create some good music, together they added up to create something amazing. In the case of The National it was belting out a huge sense of passion, for Modest Mouse it was getting people dancing, and for R.E.M. it was getting people to scream over a mandolin.

So as I come away from this I have decided that I must find a band in order to be happy with the music I'm making. Because I am not as gifted a lyricist or singer as some other people, and I am quite good at making beats. So here's to starting a new band.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Wednesday Evening Post

I really hope you guys aren't to bummed about the irregularity of my posts now. It's just that I'm not always super motivated to blog in the morning. Sometimes I really just want to lay around and do nothing, or sleep, or think about writing poetry.

Speaking of poetry I was thinking about writing some today but then I didn't. I don't know why I didn't because I totally had a sweet really romantic poem idea but obviously my inner artist was too busy loafing around and drinking beers to get off his proverbial butt and write something useful down. In my defence, I took a bath instead. Ok, so taking a bath is not a valid excuse for not writing something creative down but I like to think that it is......let's move on.

School is nearly done and I am struck by my logic about my choice of university program. My lowest 3 4U marks in High School are science courses and yet I'm in a science program (and quite a tough one from what I've been told). This just confuses me. Why didn't I take math (91, 95) or English (86) or History (85) or even Geography (84). But instead I took science (80, 78, 80). This now makes me wonder why I'm even doing it in the first place.

I've been playing a lot of Jazz music as of late. I've been playing with a lot of jazz chords on guitar and then I've been playing along with "In a Mellow Tone" because it's the only jazz song I have right now that I can figure out how to improvise over the chord progression (And now I've lost 3/4 of you....).

On a final note, though I don't listen to them very often, I love playing Barenaked Ladies songs on guitar....they're just so well written. It's wonderful. And now I will go.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sometimes you want to Buck the Schedule

I've been thinking again and I'm starting to wonder if I should get counseling or go see a psychiatrist or something. See...over the last couple of days, I've heard a few people say that you shouldn't just bury your past and never deal with it. Now this makes perfect sense to me. Of course you should deal with your past, it's only natural and healthy. I'm just not really sure how to go about that though. I don't think I need to go see a psychiatrist because I'm not having medical issues but a counselor might do me good for trying to figure out why I do some of the stupid things I do or why I feel a certain way sometimes.

I also hate how wishy washy I get. Well actually....that's a lie. The fact that I change back and forth on things often doesn't bother me but it bothers me that it bothers other people that I'm wishy washy, and it also bothers me that I care what these other people think. This takes me back to my counseling thought but why do I let other people dictate the way I do things and how I feel about myself so heavily. Why am I not able to exist as a person outside of the influences of other people? And why do I always fail at escaping this influence when I try to avoid letting others influence my actions? Is this even a bad thing?

And also, why do I have no spine when it comes to authority figures?

I need some help....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Wednesday Evening Post

I know, I missed my deadline but I make the rules here and that's the way it goes.

I watched the movie "Penelope" last night and had a stunning realization; I really like a lot of chick flicks.

Now this in turn got me thinking about myself and my oddities and I started thinking about how I always end up breaking people down into complexes like a psychologist or something crazy like that. Then I began to wonder why I did this and ended up breaking myself down into complexes. Here are some of my complexes.

The "Everyone who doesn't talk to me every time they see me hates me" complex: I discovered this one today. I have this thing where I think a lot of people hate me when they actually don't, they're just too busy to talk to me. I like there's this girl at school who I know and we talk sometimes but we haven't talked for a while and she hasn't really waved at me or anything recently and so I thought she hated me but then we had a talk in the hallway because she was on spare and I was just on my way out the door. I think I feel this way because earlier in life there was this girl who I was really good friends with but then she just stopped talking to me because she hated me suddenly and then I just transferred that over to the rest of people.....this one complicates my life right now.

The "How Could Anyone Ever Like Me" Complex: This one is one I've known about for a while. It means that I wonder why people would ever want to be my friends often, and leaves me feeling like I will never get e girlfriend/wife. It also affects my music because I feel very self-critical about my music and then I smother it and hate it and stop listening to it. It's kind of frustrating.

It's possible I have more complexes but I really don't want to think about anymore right now because I would like to sleep well tonight.

Living far from home is going well....I hope things continue this way.

Sorry for the short post. I'm super un-motivated today.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


"So Ben, why are you here today on my couch?"
"Well I've been thinking about things and just generally feeling rather poorly as of late"
"That's no good to hear. Would you kindly tell me about these things that you're thinking about."
"I'm a fairly socially awkward person. I've been getting better at small talk in the last little while, but I still don't really know how to respond to people I don't know when I'm forced to spend time with them. Do I ignore them, do I try to make awkward small talk, etc. It doesn't really help my confidence in these situations when my father and my best friend can both cut down awkward silences as though they were long grass being whacked away by a machete. But this isn't really much of a problem since I've gotten through life completely fine with my limited social skills anyways. My problem is that I feel that my limited social skills are preventing me from making friends who are willing to socialize with me outside of whatever activities it is that we normally take part in. I've been going to Frontenac for nine months now and other than a few people I know from camp, I have never hung out with anyone from school outside of school hours. This seems weird to me because I went through 4 years at QCHS and did tons of stuff with friends and non-friends outside of school hours and that was pretty normal wheras now I pretty much have made no friends at school.
Now I understand that this is probably just due to the fact that I'm a victory lapper dropping in out of nowhere and showing up in a school of 1200 kids so that may contribute to my lack of new friends but it still worries me because what if I end up in a simmilar situation next year at Queen's. I understand that it's impossible for me to not meet people but what if I end up with a whole bunch of friends who just don't hang out with me outside of school for whatever reason. That worries me considerably. So there's my dilemma right now."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The (Almost) WMP

Well it appears I've missed the deadline thus making this the wednesday noonday post instead of the wednesday morning post but I hope you're all ok with this. Here is my life in five paragraphs or less... GO!

I moved out of the room I've slept in since birth over the weekend. It felt really good. It was time to leave the nest and now I get to spend inordinate amounts of time hanging out with fellow morning post writer J-Woods. It's pretty sweet.

I take the bus all the time now due to the fact that I can't walk to frontenac anymore and I must say....the bus is absolutely awesome. More people should ride it because it's a fun and economical form of transportation.

The House and I went to see Iron Man on Friday and then Jason and I went AGAIN last night (it was cheap night) and it is awesome. I'm really pumped for the incredible hulk and all the avengers movies now so....it's gonna be sweet. Also, if you go see Iron Man wait around until after the credits are over and your brain will explode. It's epic but you will recieve no details unless you go see the movie.

And that's all for now. Enjoy your day folks.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Wednesday Morning Post

Friends, I come to you at a time when I am quite ill to present to you the Wednesday Morning Post, a summary of what has happened to me this week. That's dedication.

First I must bring you some somewhat sad news. The script, while it was going well, will not be finished today. I still have 34 pages left to do and no desire to write any of them so I have decided to leave the script with a more open ended deadline. It will be finished someday but not today.

And now on to better things. This will be the last Wednesday morning post that I write you from this home where I have lived for the last 18 years and 8 months. As of May the 3rd I will now reside at the wonderful residence of 49 York Street with rival Monday Morning Post writer Jason Woudsma, Brendan Lorrimer, Todd and Chelsea Stelmach, Ian Whalen, and Chris Napier. It's going to be kind of ridiculous but really awesome at the same time.

I used to play a lot of videogames but not as much anymore. I sort of stopped making money and then was unable to purchase new games so....I just didn't play them anymore. However this week was different. This week my parents computer was magically upgraded, thus making it capable of playing the game "Bioshock" which I have been itching to play for a while now since reading reviews of it and such. Let me tell you, this game is all about the story. That's not to say that the gameplay isn't fun but the gameplay is pretty average and the game wouldn't be very good were it not for the absolutely awesome story and world that surrounds the game. It's also got a nice plot twist that's sure to leave your heart pounding late on a tuesday night. I think I'm getting near to the end of it and so I probably should be finished it soon.

I've recently taken an intrest in trying to play jazz music again. It's one of those things that comes and goes in my mind because I get doing other things (drunmming, playing bioshock, etc.) and then I lose interest in working on it again. I'm hoping that this time it'll actually stick since I'm applying a lot of the stuff that I've only been taught about before. We'll see how long it lasts though.

My body is telling me to go do something else instead of sitting on the floor writing about this crazy business so until next time friends.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

CHALLENGE #1: Write a Song in the Style of.....

Welcome to #1 in a series of self imposed challenges. These challenges will involve me writing and recording a song in two weeks with my computer microphone so it will have crappy sound quality but you will be able to hear the basics. These challenges will take different forms. They can either be to write a song in a specific style, or to write a song about a specific subject. This next two week's challenge is....

Challenge #1: Write a song in the style of Tokyo Police Club!

What does this mean exactly?
1) The song cannot be more than 3 minutes long but must be at least 1:30 long.
2) It must include 1 old school keyboard, 1 drumset, 1 bass, 1 reverbed guitar, 1 sore-throated vocalist, and should include gang vocals and hand claps.
3) The lyrics must be somewhat ambiguous but may have sci-fi undertones or may be vaguely about youth. In general they should sound like someone's messed up dreams though.
4) Most of the song will involve a "two chord assault" which is a riff on Keyboard that bounces back and forth between two chords creating an instantly catch song. Then the second part of the song will be slightly more complex but will be short lived.

Starting now I have 2 weeks to write, and record this song so as of 9 PM on Saturday May 10th it will be uploaded here for your listening pleasure. In the meantime enjoy this seizure enducing video from Tokyo Police Club.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Wednesday Morning Post

Hello friends, here we are on another fine Wednesday morning. I must make a confession before I launch into this post. I almost forgot today was Wednesday. The days of the week are all garbled in my head at the moment. "Was yesterday Monday, Is today thursday, what month is it?". These are the questions I struggle with at the moment.

So what is new you say. Well first off I have read the first ever review on Pitchfork Media that I've actually agreed with. See I purchased the debut LP from Tokyo Police Club and expected to be blown away by it but instead I was confronted by averageness and a loss of the shinyness of early TPC stuff. And so today I read the review of said album and found that they were saying the same things. How fortunate that Pitchfork would not be victim to hype and would instead identify this album's averageness.

Scripting continues with fellow monday morning post writer Jason Woudsma (he didn't even really say anything in his last post. I think he's trying to be hip). We're writing together a lot over the course of this week and are making headway into how we want things to progress. I have the rest of the story mapped out in my brain and Jason continues to charge forward in his. I think we will both finish but it will be difficult.

My time at home is rapidly coming to a close. We are exactly 8 days from my move in day at 49 york Street and my brain is having difficulty believing that I am in fact vacating the room where I have lived my entire life. I think my head might explode upon move outing.

I have begun part time work at Camp Iawah in their kitchen which is excellent. This past weekend I made lasagna and Sandwiches for 70 people with instruction from Rose and Jim Lane. It was pretty much awesome. I stirred meat for a really really long time.

I'm not working this weekend though due to the fact that I'm headed to Ottawa on Friday to see my friend Liz Nolan's photography exhibition and to hang out with my other friend meaghan Madge. It ought to be an excellent time of excellentness.

Well....I'm going to go hop in the tub now, hope you all have an excellent week.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Wednesday Morning Post

Ladies and Gentlepeople, as of the writing of this post, a rivalry has begun. A rivalry between "The Monday Morning Post" written by my friend Jason Woudsma (which you can read hereand this here, "The Wednesday Morning Post". Words and insults will be slung and this rivalry likely won't end until one of us kills the other in their sleep.

But we will not speak of death for now. Instead we will talk to scriptwriting, songwriting, 43 things, and concerts.

First up is Scriptwriting. Now you might be asking "Ben, since when do you write scripts?" but may I remind you that 3 months ago I had never written a song in my life and now I have a CD. When you take on a challenge to do something in one month you tend to discover skills you didn't know you had. This month I am working on a challenge known only as "Script Frenzy" and it is going splendidly. I am 40 pages in (so technically I'm 13 pages behind but that's ok) and am getting to some good stuff. The story's a bit stalled right now because I just finished writing a big emotional character development scene but I'm going to try and introduce a new conflict today and hopefully get the ball rolling again. All this to say that I will finish this script and someday you may get to read it.

Songwriting. I periodically write about songwriting because it's such a sporadic thing but yeah..that is also going better than I thought. I have 3 demo tracks on my computer right now that just need a little more thought put into them and their arrangements and they could easily rank among some of my favorite self-produced work. Perhaps I will consider posting one of them some time in the future.

43 things is a website which I have recently rediscovered after reading somebody's blog post about lists of stuff they want to do. 43 things is basically a system of organizing the things you want to do into a list and then sharing it with other people, cheering other people, and updating people on how you're doing on those goals. It's a really cool website and I reccomend you check it out at http://www.43things.com

And finally concerts. I have a pile of concert tickets sitting next to me. It all makes for a crazy weekend of concert madness. First up there's Death Cab for Cutie with "The Stars" on Toronto Island on June 7th. I'm going with my sister Joanna for a fun filled day of Joy in the sun on the grass. Then the very next day I'm headed to a crazy triple bill featuring R.E.M., Modest Mouse, and The National with Jason Woudsma at the Molson Amphitheatre before we all head home. It's going to be an epic weekend.

And that's all for today....until next week.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Live from the Restroom

"Ben....what are you doing?"
"I'm blogging"
"....."
"Yeah, it's a good thing you're not a real person self-interviewing alter ego because otherwise this would just be awkward."
"I have some news for you Ben."
"Yes?"
"This is awkward."
"Ok well.....you'll live. You're just a figment of my imagination anyways."
"I'm just going to pretend you didn't just negate my existence and start asking the questions"
"Ok"
"So what's this screenplay business all about?"
"Well there's this thing called "Script Frenzy" that's run by the same people who run "Nanowrimo" which I've written about before. And so in this script frenzy business people are challenged to write a 100 page script in the 30 day month of April. It can be for anything that requires a script (movie, play, TV show, etc.) and it can be about anything but it must be a script and it must total 100 pages. So I'm currently 27 pages into my 100 page script."
"Care to give us a glimpse into what you're writing about?"
"Well it's a character Drama about a very bitter guy who has a serious superiority complex and how he comes to soften up and learns to enjoy life."
"sounds interesting"
"Well...we'll see how it turns out. Right now I feel like I'm just speed writing to keep up with the deadline because I'm about...9 pages behind where I should be so I'm sketch writing right now. The brunt of the story is there but not all of the dialogue is as polished as I'd like. It's ok though because I'm not having any difficulty following the story."
"Well that's interesting. So are you doing anything special when you're writing this script?"
"Why yes. My friend Jason Woudsma and I are both participating in Script Frenzy together and we've started a tradition of going to Starbuck's once a week and writing while we're there simply because it keeps us both motivated enough to puch through and get stuff written. It's nice."
"Nice. Anything else you'd like to add before we close up this interview on a toilet?"
"Yeah, watch for the Wednesday evening post (rival post to the Monday Morning Post posted at http://smoothecity.blogspot.com/ ) on wednesday evening."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The End of a Famine

"And there was a famine in this great land"
"Ben, what are you mumbling about"
"I'm just writing an epic about my spell of writer's block and how it's over"
"...."
"Yes, self-interviewing alter ego I am weird and I enjoy it"
"Moving on....so tell me about this spell of writer's block"
"Well I finished my RPM album which should be up on the RPM website in a couple of days and I realized that I hated like...half the songs on it. This made me feel like I had wasted a lot of time and energy and just basically made me frustrated that I couldn't write what I wanted to write and instead was stuck writing....Army Brat."
"Yeah....but your mom likes it."
"This is true. My mother has gone on record to state that Army Brat is her favorite song on the album but I'll be totally straight with you here. I haven't listened to it since I finished mixing the album like...a month ago so I kind of wish it would go away."
"It won't."
"I know. Anyways, so I've been feeling really self critical and then I started hammering something out yesterday and it was sounding good then I got up and promptly forgot the rhythm and just got frustrated when I tried to come back and play it again later."
"Well that sucks. You should probably write your music down if it sounds decent so that you won't forget it"
"Don't worry I do"
"Good"
"So then I figured it out in bed last night and worked with it some more today. I finalized it with some help from my sound defining space echo pedal. (I love that thing. It writes songs for me)."
"Sounds like you're cheating"
"I am but I really don't care. So then I was thinking in the car about how "Ashamed" was a song that I still really like but it sounds kind of....empty with just delayed-reverbed guitar so I thought "What if I added Sax melodies to all of my songs" so I wrote a sax melody for ashamed and one for the new song I'm working on"
"That sounds cool. Maybe your father will stop getting angry at you for not playing the saxophone now"
"Yeah, that'd be nice. So that's how I got out of Writer's Block. I'm feeling a writing Frenzy coming on over the next few days."
"Good, maybe you'll become less self critical as a result because....that's just not healthy."
"I know. I'm working on fighting Jason to take out some of that self-critical energy and it seems to be working but I now have a big bruise on my chest from where he asserted his dominance over me last time we fought."
"That doesn't sounds good"
"Mommy it hurts!"
"Oh dear..."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cleaning Up

"Ben, where have you been? Did you take up drinking or something?"
"No I didn't. In fact the last time I had a drink was January or somewhere around there. There was this one time I wanted to have a celebratory beer after I finished my album but when I went to hunt for it, I found that someone had already taken it from me"
"OK....so what have you been doing in all this time?"
"Well I've pretty much been doing nothing as of late. It's been a nice change of pace from audition preparations and all that business and it's given me some time to sort of digest what I'm doing musically."
"So what's that supposed to mean?"
"Well I've been listening to some different music as of late"
"Like..."
"Well I finally listened to "Hail to the Thief" which has been the missing piece in my Radiohead puzzle, and then I've also been listening to "Castaways and Cutouts" by The Decemberists and...oh I listened to "Broken Social Scene" for the first time in about a year and a half, and I must say before we go any further, that that album makes me angry pretty much every time I pull it out now."
"I see. So what does all of this mean?"
"Well it means that I'm thinking about the songs I'm writing. I've been thinking about the stuff I wrote during RPM and all the other musical sketches I've laid out post-RPM and wondering where to go from here. So I started listening to this music and thinking about what to take away from it and basically making my head spin"
"Sounds....."
"Yeah I know. So today I stopped thinking and cleaned out my looper. See....one of the things I do is I come up with these short chord or riff patterns and guitar harmonies and I lay them down on my looper and then save them and they just sort of sit there and are forgotten so I have to clean it out every now and then. It's always interesting though because it always has a few surprises in store for me. Today for example I found my original recording of "Regrets" that I used so I wouldn't forget it, and then I dug up some more stuff that's been on there for a while and once it was all cleared off I felt like I had a better sense of what I want to do for my next batch of songs."
"So what is there to be expected of the next batch of songs then?"
"Well, they will be less complicated, less structured, less forced, less lyrically dense, and less sensical. What this basically translates into is that it will be more the music I want to make rather than the music that I think other people will want to hear. It's possible that other people might like it but that's not the point. The point is to allow myself to be free in my expression of my current musical ideas."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Lyrics

I'm feeling some lyrics typing coming on so here's all of the lyrics from "Prior Peter" with little notes about the song.

Army Brat
I wrote a riff for this song randomly and just needed words to go along with it and when I recorded the Demo take for it, I just called it "Army Brat" because it moves around a lot. Cheesy lyrics were written shortly after.

Let me tell you a story about an army brat
Moving cross the country, and other stuff like that
Oh how he hated his life, army brat
He had one constant friend
That was his guitar
He played it in cold lake, he played it in Petawawa
Oh Army Brat
But then one of his moving days, the movers left behind
his precious guitar four provinces down the line
He shed many tears over his loss
He locked himself in his room unable to go on
Then one Day a package Came Express and Very Large
He Opened it up and it contained a brand new guitar
oh New Guitar

Depersonalization
I was monkeying around with 7th chords and this is what came out. It makes me feel like I'm ripping off the tangible ears. I'm not happy with the drum beat but that's what it is on the album so I have no choice.

I look outside my door
but I
see no friendly face
folks are
all strangers in this town
they don't
they don't wave or smile

I go walking down the street
look ing
for a soul to greet
no one
looks me in the eye
they all
look away or hide

de per son al i za tion
Oh how I de spise you
you make me feel so lonely
and you love it don't you

The Move Out
It's the only heavy song I wrote so it feels really out of place and also it's too high for me to sing but vocal ranges be damned I will yell on my album if I want to. It's modeled after Rage Against the Machine.

The time has come
to move away
to another house
somewhere dar away

I've grown too old
for this suburban life
I need the city
to free me from this strife

Cause it's hard to live at home
when your soul
desires to roam
your parents don't gel well
with you
after 18 years it's time to move out

pack all my stuff
in a carboard box
make sure
nothing gets lost

rent a big white van
throw it all inside
go somewhere else
leave that old house behind

Dark and Dawn
I wanted to write a song about driving by an old friends house and it sort of twisted into this whole "girl leaving" song which is cool too. This is pretty much a straight rip off of "Shiny" by The Decemberists so after I wrote it, I took the drums and bass from Shiny and just plopped them into this. It's my 3rd favourite song that I wrote during this whole business.

I drive by your house
all is quiet in your house
when it's dark it's dark

I look across the lawn
the memories haven't gone
in the dark the dark

I wonder what this life has done to us
I wonder if I could have kept your trust

you have moved away
gone outwards looking for a way
to see the dawn the dawn

I wish that you were here
then maybe I could hold you near
and watch the dawn, the dawn

and I wonder what this life has done to us
I wonder if I could have stopped this loss
I wonder if we could have made a home
I wonder if I'll survive on my own

Is our innocence all gone
were our younger years really not that long
is it possible that I can still atone for all the things that I've done wrong

to you

Three Wishes
The guitar recorded poorly for this song so it doesn't sound as good as I had hoped, and I also think the vocals are (again) out of my range but that's what came out so there it is. The music was sorrowful so I wrote some personal sorrowful lyrics to go along with it.

IF I had three wishes, let me tel you what they'd be. First I would wish to take all your pain away. Cause it hurts me inside to sit here and watch you cry. With this first wish all the tears would be wiped from your eyes.

For my second wish, I'd wish your past away. No more solem regrets, life could be a brand new day. For my last wish, I'd wish for your heart, cause though I care for you deeply you've never loved me from the very start.

But I don't have these wishes, it makes me hurt inside. Cause this whole deal makes me empty, makes me want to give up the fight.

Lost in Westport
Originally was "Lost in Moncton" but I've never been to Moncton so I changed the title. Sounds a lot like the first half of "Holland" and the last half of "Sister" both by Sufjan.

it's midnight in westport
the car rolls along
the stores are all closed up
and dark

The street lights are quiet
their bulbs seem quiet dim
they all semm to say
You're lost

ah you're lost
ah you're lost

thumb up on ashpault
the semis blaze by
they never look over
or stop

the birds in the forest
they chirp quietly
I think that they're saying
I'm lost

Ah I'm lost
Ah I'm lost

5 Long Years
This whole song is about this guy that I used to be friends with but have since drifted away from each other and he goes to my school but we don't talk.

I can't help but wonder how it would have been. Would you still have me over? Would we still be friends? It's been 5 long years now since we last spoke. I want to say sorry, I want to call your home.

But I burned all the bridges between me and you. We'll never speak again. It's sad but that's the truth.

I walk right by you almost every single day. Out of the corner of my eye I see you look away. Do you recognise me, have I really changed that much. The long hair and glasses seem to hide me from your thoughts.

Regrets
I wrote this and "Ashamed" 2 days before I recorded and they were both good enough to replace some crappier songs that I wrote. This is my second favourite song that I wrote and fits better into the sound I'm trying to create with the rest of my songs. It's about making a mistake and wondering if it's to late to go back and try when you feel like you've missed and opportunity.

Four years together, I must have been blind to not notice you in all of that time. The reason is I Was preoccupied but I feel like a fool since you're now on my mind.

One day together is all that it took to make me take a good second look. You live hours away, how could we make this work, but I'll still never tell you, I'm afraid it would hurt.

Well damn you regrets, you make my heart hurt, I should have just let you come in and work on this heart so torn and blinded. She might have helped stop this mistake.

But there's no sense crying over so much spilled milk, I'll just have to start trying, believe that this could work. Do you share my feelings? Someday I might ask. Can I work up the courage or will I just pass.

Ashamed
My favourite song on the album. It's just about feeling stupid about your past.

I am discouraged at all I've done wrong, my past makes me blush, makes me wish it was all hgone. So much wasted time that I could have saved, had I not been so foolish in the first place.

Some men look on their past in a positive light, me and my past we just want to fight. So many months I spent waiting around, so blinded by love as I ran myself aground.

Is it my fault this happened? Is there anyone to blame? Will I ever let go or will it always bring me shame? Can I find someone to help me forget? Must I forever carry this painful debt?

This is The End
I think a lot of the songs on this album talk about unrequited love which has been something that I've experienced a lot in my life so I wrote this song about giving up on unrequited love.

I called your house just the other day, someone hung up on me. And I know you don't love me but that's no reason to be rude. I was trying to tell you that I'm giving up on you as of today. So now that you know, stop trying to hide from me and running away.

It hasn't been easy, trying to get you to care, that's why today I am saying this is the end.


So there you have it. Now you know what I'm saying and why I'm saying it. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Ok, I'm Gonna get Nerdy For a Second Here

So....that's my pedal board. Now you may be wondering "Ben, why in the world are you posting a picture of your unplugged pedal board with your webcam". It's a good question. It's unplugged because the webcam wouldn't reach my amp and I had to use a webcam because the digital camera seems to be gone with my parents. But this isn't about the picture this is about my pedal board. Why is it important that you know about my pedal board? Because it's
linked to the kind of music I'm making now.

You see....I always figured I'd be doing acoustic stuff and then I started listening to Sigur Ros and then my friend Tyler came over and recorded some sweet stuff with a delay pedal of his and I was like "Ok self, I Think you want some pedals to expand your creative possibilities" so I started buying pedals.

The first pedal I bought is the shiny red one you see on the left of the picture. That's a looper (the little black footswitch you see attatched is the stop/tempo button that I also use in conjunction with the looper). A looper is a pedal that enables you to record things and play them back immediately in a loop. So for example....actually just watch KT Tunstall do a demo. She's fricking awesome



Bye the way, if you pay attention to nothing else, watch that video.

Then I bought a tuner which is the white thing on the right. It's not that exciting, it tunes and provides power to the looper and to the....

SPACE ECHO! Doesn't that just sound like an awesome name for a pedal? I think it does. But anyways, this is the important pedal on my entire board. You see, before I had this I played with delay a little bit but once I got this thing it changed the way I write and record songs. It's bascially determined the kind of songs that I write now because I like the sound of it so much. You can hear what it's doing to my songwriting on "Ashamed" and "Regrets" on my album. Coincidentally those are the two most recently written songs that I have so that's what my sound is starting to evolve into.

Then the two big black pedals in the middle are not really that exciting but they get used sometimes. The volume pedal on the left is for doing swells which allow you to get a pitch without actually hearing the attack. If you listen to Nothing you can hear Tyler doing swells in his random guitar solo at the end. Then the pedal on the right is a Wah Wah which is for making crazy noises on. I used it randomly in the bridge section of "Army Brat" but it does some other cool things when you run it through the delay rig.

Anyways...that's probably all I'll ever say about my technical stuff (actually I'll probably post about my MBox2 when I actually make enough money to get it but that won't be for a while) so if you found this post boring, FEAR NOT for I will never do this again.

Friday, February 29, 2008

While You Were Out

I know I haven't updated since like...the first week of RPM so here's all of the updates at once. RPM went awesomely. I finished the album on Wednesday night with 2 days to spare. I ended up renting equipment and doing all of the tracking and mixing ahead of time but because I had spent all the time writing and arranging, tracking took very little time. I was writing right up until the very last second. Two songs on the album (8 and 9) were songs I wrote the Saturday and Sunday before I started recording and they're actually the tracks I'm happiest with.

This whole experience was overwhelmingly positive. I will definitely participate again in it next year but I'll try to not record everything all at once this time. If you want to hear this year's results though you can download it HERE! I hope you all enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed writing it. My parents want me to post lyrics so I'll dump all of the lyrics here today or tomorrow.

Friday, February 1, 2008

ágætis byrjun

I'm going to be cutting and pasting blog entries from my blog over at RPM challenge to save myself the trouble of constantly writing separate entries so if you've somehow managed to find me over there then don't worry about reading this one.

This morning has been pretty productive. I ended up being up until 2 last night talking to a friend and while I was doing that I ended up writing the chords to another song so I recorded the temporary tracks for that this morning as well as another song which I may go back and modify the structure of.

I'm planning on doing this entire thing in two stages. The first stage is just me recording everything on a computer mic so that I have some sort of base to record over top of and then once all the rough trachs are in I plan to rent some proper gear and redo all of the tracks in about a day or two.....should make for an interesting weekend.

All things are on track thus far though. It's an alright start.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

After-Practive Feelings

Well we finally got together for the first time in like....a month as a band. I didn't think it would be that exciting but it's really exciting. We had a very solid practice and assembled 3 new songs. That puts our total at 12 which is close to what we want before we start looking to actually record.

Joe and Owen have been gone for a while but the grooves and riffs of this last practice still linger in my head. I'm still banging the drum beats to one of the new songs out on this desk as I write this blog and I can't help but think that I'm not the only person in the world who finds this stuff catchy and enjoyable.

We set a goal for ourselves to write three more songs before the end of February so that will put our grand total at 15 and we will begin preparing for recording "The Album". It's funny to think that we've discussed it for so long and we've done a demo and we've played 3 shows and we're finally at the place where we have almost enough songs to go into a studio and do them all up right and get it replicated and start sending it to labels and stuff.

I honestly hope that this band is just not running off the enthusiasm of our friends. I hope that we can actually have people connect with the music we're making. I want people to dance in their living rooms to our music and play it at parties while they're off getting drunk and having a great time. I don't want it to just be...our thing.

damn I sound optimistic...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Reving High

I was going to set this post up as another interview with myself but then I decided I should probably break that until I have another good question to ask myself. So putting that on hold for now let's talk about something awesome I discovered today.

My sister introduced me to this thing a while ago called "NaNoWriMo" which is just crazy writerspeak for National Novel Writing Month. It's this crazy month where writers are challenged to write a 40,000 (I Think. She'll correct me if I'm wrong in the comments section) word novel in the month of November. This is crazy for two reasons. First it's insanely difficult for the average person or even the average writer. I think only something like 2% of the people who actually sign up end up finishing. Second, it's an incredible wake up call. It involves a community of artists all independently trying to do the same thing and there's an incredible sense of motivation from other people and from the weekly emails you get from the NaNoWriMo headquarters. And then recently I discovered that there's another thing like this called "Script Frenzy" where you write a 100 page script in April. Again, same craziness, same positives.

So I was browsing the internet today and I discovered something even more awesome. It's called the RPM challenge and its simmilar to NaNoWriMo and Script Frenzy in that it lasts a month and involves creativity but its point is to create an entire album (at least 10 songs and at least 35 minutes long) instead of writing a lot.

So I'm taking the RPM challenge as sort of a way to jumpstart my solo project (currently called Prior Peter although that might change...we'll see) and as a way of getting a head start on my 2 hours thing.

I'll keep you folks updated as to how things are going and such from this blog come February 1st and we'll see how this madness progresses.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Questions I Wish People Would ask Me: Part 2

"Hey Ben"
"What do you want?"
"Whoa don't sound so angry. What's the matter?"
"I took a jump and bailed really hard knees first and slid down a hill rather far"
"That sucks"
"Yeah and then to top all of this off a snowboarder who didn't spot his jump before taking it cleared me by about a foot and a half while I was retrieving my skis"
"wow..."
"yeah so if you're a snowboarder and you ever are in a terrain park please spot your jumps or I'll have to curse at you loudly. But I'm being grumpy due to this large bruise on my knee. What did you want?"
"Oh right well I was just wondering what you've been doing since O nO! went on hiatus. Any side/solo projects or anything like that."

Well let's talk about that. The last O nO! related event was like....4 or 5 weeks ago now with that crazy house party which was pretty sweet but sad in some ways due to the fact that it signaled the end of O nO! for a while.

However I haven't really stopped moving with the music since then. Two days after the O nO! party my friend Tyler came over. Tyler is one of the few friends from high school I still try to keep up with. Last year shortly before school ended we got together and recorded some songs partly out of my desire to learn how to record stuff and such and partly because Tyler is an awesome songwriter and has some really cool ideas and he had a really strong desire to record some stuff before he finished High School. So the result was "A Productive Mess" 8 songs that we recorded in a weekend all of varying quality with a few covers thrown in to Tyler's original songs. So a summer went by and then October rolled around and Tyler sent me an email saying he wanted to record a few more songs around Christmas. So we set a date, I rented some equipment, and on the morning of Wednesday December 19th I drove to Belleville and picked up Tyler.

The remainder of the day was spent recording four songs (one cover and three originals by Tyler) all of which were very high quality and sounding really good. We called this second collection of songs "More Productive Mess". You can download the four songs we recorded together from here
Kerosene (The Stuff that Blows Up)
Nothing
Take a Walk on the Wild Side-Lou Reed
Untitled

So that's my side project. Just for further information me and Tyler named ourselves "VanGrzesik" and I play drums and chimes and sax and do a few backup vocal things here and there and Tyler plays all the fretted instruments and sings lead on everything.

As for a solo project from me that's something that's been stewing in my brain for the past couple of days while I've been out here. See....I've got some loops sitting on my looping pedal at home but I didn't really know what to do with them. They're pretty layered and definitely far from anything I've done with O nO! and distant from most of the jazzy stuff I've written for acoustic but I like the layered sounds that are coming out so much that I've decided to just go ahead and start working with them anyways.

So while I was thinking about this looping pedal stuff I was also thinking about some other things that I've written in the last year and I came to the conclusion that I should at least attempt to record some of this stuff for future reference or whatever. So in the last couple of days I've resolved to try and record 2 hours worth of songs. I don't know if I'll make it, I don't know if I'll get close, and I don't know how difficult it will be but that's my goal and we'll see where it goes from here.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Questions I Wish People would Ask Me: Part 1 of a series

"Hey Ben?"
"Yes?"
"You're into music aren't you?"
"One could say this is true"
"So what would you say was the best music for this year"

"Well now... I think it's about time for Ben's lengthy list of music he thought was excellent this year.

I'm going to do this in terms of songs as opposed to albums because I don't think I actually bought 10 albums this year that were new....maybe I did I dunno

All of these songs have only one thing in common. After listening to them a bajillion times I still love them to death.

Selfish Jean-Travis
You may be wondering (as you will with many other tracks in this list) who is Travis? But this question is irrelevant. All you really need to know is that something about this song is excellent. It probably has something to do with the multi pronged onslaught of the driving drum beat, simple but catchy baseline, wailing vocals, and a very catchy high guitar riff.
Kitchen Sink-Amon Tobin
Some people make music. Amon Tobin is not one of these people. Amon Tobin is an uber arranger. He takes samples of other peoples music and then reorganizes it into a song of his own creation mutilating the original samples beyond all recognition. For his most recent album Foley Room Amon decided to abandon his practice of using vinyl samples and instead recorded sounds; lots and lots and lots of sounds of everything from machinery to experimental string arrangements to motorcycles. I'm sure his microphone got a workout. Anyways this is one of my favourite songs off that album because it's a song made entirely out of water related noises and it sounds awesome. IF you ever can't pee go listen to this song and you'll be running for the lavratory in minutes.
Finer Feelings-Spoon
I've read many a review of Spoon that says their music is great due to their minimalistic approach to music making and the simplicity of their songs and some other stuff but that's all a load of crap. Spoon's music is great because they have sweet baselines. In fact, that's the only reason any music is ever sweet; because it has a sweet baseline. That's why having an excellent bass player in your band makes you so much more commercially viable. Anyways, this song has a sweet baseline and the singer does some cool things with his delivery of the vocals. He makes me think of.........someone.
Florida-Modest Mouse
Everybody listened to Dashboard off this album and they were like "oooo Dashboard, it's the best song on the album". Much like Spoon being good because of minimalism, this is a load of crap. The best song off "We Were Dead Even Before the Ship Sank" is Florida. I've listened to it a kajillion times and it's still my favourite song of that album. I will never get sick of it. Why? (other than the fact that it has a sweet baseline of course) I don't know but I'm going to go listen to it again to try and find out why.
1 2 3 4-Feist
Ok so it was on an iPod commercial and now it's a huge hit and she's up for a pile of grammy's but before all that happened she played this song on a stage on Toronto island and I loved it and I still love it. It's so happy.
Kreuzberg-Bloc Party
It's my favourite song off Bloc Party's new album because it has a catchy guitar riff and it's about people who feel ripped off by the world. What more can you ask for from Bloc Party?
No Cars Go-Arcade Fire
Ok so this is kind of cheating because I've been listening to No Cars Go since Funeral came out because it was on Arcade Fire's original EP but the remake somehow makes this already great song even better. It makes me want to pick up a marching snare and start wailing along with it.
Floorplan-Tegan and Sara
This is one of those songs that will stay stuck in my head for extremely long periods of time due to its catchy guitar riff and Jason McGerr beat. That Jason McGerr....he has his own style of drumming now.

And that's pretty much it I guess....look for part two of this series sometime in the future.