Saturday, June 16, 2018

New Blog Direction: How I plan to change the world by changing myself

Image result for dreams and reality 

The original reasons I began this blog no longer exist. In 2010 I felt I had much time to bide, as I focused all of my energy (mental and otherwise) on the raising of two other human beings.

I am currently in what feels like the last leg of this twenty year commitment I made (the boys will both go off to college by 2021) and I am using this time to prepare myself to launch into the world in a bigger way than I have previously ever attempted.

If I had to guess what people who know me think about my life choices up to now, I imagine I come across as a weird combination of stubbornly unstable (due to my lack of any risk-aversion and abbreviated tolerance for geographical locations) and rock solid (as I've very rarely said I was going to do something and then flaked/ failed/ flunked out*). *Marriages aside.

Routinely I come up with a cockamamie scheme that includes an enjoyable journey to the ultimate goal, usually in response to solving a problem. Once I moved somewhere, on a whim, that I'd never lived, knew no one, with no job - it got easier each time, until it is just the way I move along in the world. 

So - I designed a journey to get me to the Peace Corps (a lifetime goal). It involves completing a BA, that I have never had time to finish, and generally using the next three years to become a more useful person for the world. I believe we all have a responsibility to others to live up to our full potential. If there is a meaning to life, I think that using all of your resources to their maximum capacity to help shape things positively for others is a crucial component.

But my plan will be hard, and to accomplish my goals I need to change many things (because the person starting out on this quest isn't actually equipped to complete the journey as I am).

Real change as an adult is very tricky.  You have to start by understanding what makes a person what they currently are, and why it is so hard to change.

I am not a religious or spiritual person (I am a little on "the show me the data" side of things when it comes to the pursuit of enlightenment), but I do make a lot of important decisions based solely on intuition. Intuition to me is not magic; it is very fast-firing synapses coming to conclusions based on past experience faster than my mind can consciously follow. It is me trusting "non-thinking Kit", in the same way I implicitly trust "future Kit" and "past Kit". "Future Kit" has my back. "Past Kit" had her reasons. "Fly-by-the-seat-of her-pants Kit" has access to data I haven't had time to analyze. She is rarely wrong. Note: "Romantic relationship Kit" is defective and not to be trusted. She is on a forced moratorium.

Step one: Inspiration

I heard a radio interview with Drew Houston (co-founder of DropBox) in which he talked about the philosophy that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
This theory resonated with me, and I thought it really answered so many questions I had in my life about how people I had known seemed unable to change, despite them voicing their intention to. Imagine: you are married, have 3 children and visit with your mom several times a week. Your 5 influencing personalities are locked in - seemingly forever. That probably makes change extremely difficult, as those people will change very little over time. It's why it's so much easier to completely change your life after divorce, moving and changing jobs.

Step two: Implementation

I have the 2 kids and they're locked in, and there is a co-worker I spent most days with, and she's a fine person - but I still have 2 empty slots open to fill with personalities to help me change.
I am not a social person, and I do push myself to do things outside the house (like go see old movies, attend informational meetings on the Peace Corps or a local "Paint nite") but none were resulting in bringing an inspiring person into my life to a level that it would change me.

So I thought I might be able to find a public figure that inspired me; someone who blogged or vlogged enough each day that it would affect my decisions and actions.

I searched for inspirational and influential people and researched each to see if they inspired me. The first candidate I settled on was Tim Ferriss (an author of some self-improvement type books and a tech angel investor). I'm not recommending him for you- I just happened to relate to how he compiles data (mostly from interviewing very successful people), analyzes it, trouble shoots some real world routines based on that info and then recommends daily routines to emulate the results. I was inspired to very quickly change my diet and some bad habits based only on his ideas, so I think my experiment is definitely working do far.

I don't find his life particularly inspiring. I really prefer to find a humanitarian type with bigger ideals and less focus on financial success as a measure of life's success; but I do concede that it may be easier to be in a position of influential power in conjunction with financial power, so I'm not going to dismiss the idea that rich people have much to teach.

Anyway, that's the beginning of this thing and I thought I'd write it all down here as I go along. 


Monday, April 2, 2018

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

That reminds me of something...

I can't stand it when one song sounds like another song. It drives me bananas, and I go around searching the interwebs to see if other people hear it and are also angry - just to see if I'm crazy or not.

It doesn't matter if both songs are good - it just makes me unable to enjoy either until I know exactly what's going on. Because, despite what Nickelback would have you believe (when two of their hits were mashed to expose they were pretty much the same song,  the band suggested there may be a formula to hit songs and it was a coincidence) there's no such thing as coincidentally writing a song that already exists all on your own by mistake. You sir, ripped someone off. Even if it was yourself.

So, after years of being perturbed that Amerie's 1 Thing (2005), JLO's Get Right (2005) and Beyonce's Crazy in Love (2003) all sound the same I decided to investigate.

And I'm not crazy! Because guess what? All written (or co-written) by the same dude, Rich Harrison, who is also really only best known for these three songs, all of which were hits (written within 2 years of each other), and really - no other hits. Ever.

He wrote Crazy in Love first and says "I had it in the chamber, I had not really shopped it much, because sometimes you do not want to come out of the bag before it's right. People do not really get it and you will leave them with a foul taste in their mouth." Beyonce approached him about using it and together (With JayZ) they put the finishing touches on it in. It was released in May 2003.

In May 2004 Harrison started writing "1 Thing" using the sample from The Meters Oh, Calcutta!. Amerie helped finish it and recorded it but the label "didn't get it" and wouldn't release it. JLO was interested in using the song on her album - when Amerie and Harrison leaked it. When the studio couldn't squash it (and radio began playing it) it was released on Amerie's album

Harrison actually wrote "Get Right" first as "Ride" for Usher, but it didn't make it onto Usher's album. So Harrison reworked (c-o-u- jacked it -gh) it for JLO to sound even more like "1 Thing" and JLO released it.

Usher was not happy.

Rich Harrison found a formula with Crazy in Love in 2003, and then shamelessly duplicated it for JLO and Amerie (and Usher) at the same time.

All three songs are influenced by Go-Go (a regional style of funk originating in DC - where Harrison is from).

All three songs take samples from 70's albums (Chi-Lites (0:13) for CIL - 1970Maceo and the Macks (0:57) for Get Right - 1973/ The Meters (1:46) for 1 Thing - 1969).

Later, to make them all really mix and match, Fabolous is featured on versions of both JLO and Amerie's songs.

So, although Harrison is really only ripping off himself, it's still creating perturbing ripples across the universe which annoy me.

1 Crazy Thing Mash Up. 
1 Thing to Get Right Mash Up. 
Crazy in Love Get it Right Mash Up.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Monotone Master Bedroom Makeover on a Budget

 First; here is the Pinterest Board of all of my inspiration.

The objective was to create a room that feels like a vintage photograph. I'm not done, as I have  the master bath to finish, and I still need to figure out the paint (I want it to look like vintage concrete/ plaster).

I dry brushed matte grey paint over a black mirror frame, highlighted the details with chrome spray paint and distressed it using chrome spray paint (and over spraying vinegar). Tutorial Here.

I dry brushed a lighter grey over a black chair, and reupholstered the seat with a thrift store blouse.

I replaced the hideous 1970's recessed lights with pendants. First painting molded plastic medallions with dark grey, then dry brushing lighter grey over that. 

We built the small shelves from a salvaged teak patio table and new brackets (I white washed them for a soft look).

We picked up a free, composite sofa table circa 1983 (it used to be a creepy 1980's fleshy shrimpy color and had a missing glass top). We fitted the top with reclaimed planks of varying types of wood (creating a multi-color look). I stained the boards with a grey stain, and did about 5 coats of varying grey paints on the base to get to this look. You can't even tell it's not carved wood any more.

I dry brushed matte grey over an antique dresser that was black, and spray the drawer fronts chrome.

I used a super long charcoal burlap curtain set to create one medium length set and one cafe length set (9 bucks at Next Tuesday - or whatever that place is called - I always want to say Ruby Tuesday or 'Til Tuesday...). The thermal blanket covering the old recliner was also from there. The owl pillow was $3 from Goodwill.

I dry brushed a $3 Goodwill frame from Goodwill and filled it with romantic, vintage photos (from Pinterest).

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Kaufman/ Jonze Rambling

One of my favorite movies is Adaptation;  a film about a writer trying to write a screenplay (of the film you’re watching), from a book that should just stay a book, and the neuroses the writer subjects himself to. To distract himself he indulges in all manner of digressive fantasies (written into the screenplay - of the film you’re watching - as reality). Even writing himself into the screenplay (twice - once as his non-existent twin brother). Ultimately the book’s story does get told in sync with the dizzying offshoots. 

The duo that made that movie (as well as "Being John Malkovich", also critically acclaimed), Charlie Kaufman (writer)  and Spike Jonze (director), are two halves of a perfectly flawed being. But left each to their own devices they are so broken that they cannot make a film that comes even close.

In 2008/2009 each made movies alone that would have benefited from the other.

Jonze made “Where the Wild things are” - one of the most terrifying films ever made. It somehow encapsulates everything that is frightening about dealing with others while trying to live on this planet. It is all about perceived fear: and how we either live in fear of another, based on perceived danger, or unknown possible danger, or bluffing ourselves into a position of power by getting others to fear us. It’s about how precarious this system based on fear is, as the tables can turn at any moment - and we may then be in real peril. It captures the menacing feeling of anxiety in a primal way - based on imminent bodily harm. There is no intellectual counterpart to talk anyone down in the story. The characters are monster/children functioning on only rudimentary decision making skills - basing choices on temperature, hunger and physical safety. The fact that it is presented as a children’s story only makes me more uncomfortable when I watch it.

At the same time Kaufman made “Synecdoche, NY” - a sprawling, neurotic epic that explores the feeling many intellectuals have of not actually being here - a constant questioning of existence, and purpose. Time slips, health is subjective, things get very very large and very very small. Lives swap and get confused and there is always this persistent feeling of having missed something - lost something - forgotten to remember something. It is the opposite of Jonze’s work - all ego and no id. It is navel gazing on the grandest scale. In fact the movie turns out to be a parody of the exact idea it’s exploring; “Can you make a piece of art that addresses the enormity of life on Earth entirely?” No.  I kind of love/ hate the movie (and although I have watched it a hundred times I would never recommend it to anyone because they might hate me for subjecting them to it). It is retardedly long, insanely complex (the character name puns and obscure psychological references are quietly input at every turn). It’s one big inside joke for Kaufman. But I fantasize about the film it could have been if Jonze could have been there to poke some fun - to interject perspective while Kaufman spun down the rabbit hole. Although the ideas are supposed to explore “the big picture” - the meaning of life, the whole picture is exactly what’s missing, depicting a boring, depressive, myopic view of a tiny world.

I also imagine a different version of Wild Things, with Kaufman there to inject nutty sidebars - snippets of humanity to help make the anxiety and fear easier to sit through, like we all like to do to get through day to day life. No one, even a prisoner, can live in total fear for their physical safety every moment. All humans need a reprieve inside their own imagination from their circumstance, no matter how unstable. Because the film is presented as a kid’s story, based on a 10 sentence picture book - it doesn’t feel compelled to explain anything about where we are or how we got here. Kaufman would have dug and exposed the character’s souls, keeping them from being walking, toothy stuffed animals (including the kid).

I know what people see as genius in Jonze is his ability to elicit instinctual emotion (That Ikea lamp commercial!). I don’t, personally, find unchecked emotional manipulation to be that interesting. It can be exhausting. Emotion must be tempered with intellect to create drama or comedy.

Conversely Kaufman’s movie suffers from lack of the ability to admit that sometimes you need to let stuff go. Thinking hard and deep and long inside your own head, without outside interference, is a great ride until you’ve forgotten to pull up. It’s why we need other people around.

While thinking about all of this I came across a YMS 4 part unfinished review of "Synecdoche, NY" that was very interesting: