Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cinnamon Dinosaur: vol 1.0 issue .50- Mix Tapes + Futurescapes

Cinnamon Dinosaur: Word Vomit for Break Time
vol. 1 issue .1 
Mix Tapes + Futures

The creation of a great mix tape is something that shouldn't be rushed. In fact, the creation of the mixtape is not unlike that of a relationship- you meet, flirt, determine the relationship, and then you are in a relationship. It becomes complicated when you find out later that maybe you didn't take enough time getting to know one another and now you feel like a jerk because you don't know what to do to resolve it. This is still about mixtapes by the way. I unfortunately almost always get impatient when it comes to putting together a solid mix and I end up throwing a bunch of songs that I want to hear "in the moment" on a burnlist that ends up getting listened to about one time before I realize it wasn't what I really wanted, and then ends up getting tossed in the trash when I don't know what to do with it. If your creative endeavor has any "soul" to it it makes a difference. Think of it like a Pablo Neruda poem or a really existential thought given by someone with great insight (charlie sheen doesn't count).  When you finally begin to understand why you are doing something in the first place, the actual creative process does become a whole lot easier.

When I was in High School I didn't have a CD burner. I used to write down songs that I wanted and compile them into elongated lists which I would frequently peddle around- begging for someone to burn for me. I was poor, as most High School kids are, and devastatingly living (in my opinion) without a computer that allowed access to such things as NAPSTER or even CD ripping, I was stuck recording them onto cassette tapes as soon as they came onto the radio, which usually was at the spur of the moment and usually without the conveinance of actually recording from start to finish, instead of actually buying the full CDs like someone with money would do. Those lists I was mentioning would literally go through about 10 different variations before my best friend in High School, Kyle Gettman, would agree burn them for me, usually in exchange for my lunch. When I finally got the CD from him, which always seemed to take like 2 months to actually process, I was always blown away by how well the songs actually fit together. In this day and age we have been spoiled by PANDORA, iTunes GENIUS, and other similar systems that setup algorithms to determine the best ways to pair our favorite aritsts or songs. But if we really want to create something with our own sense of personality, we have to be able to put those "shortcuts" aside and determine how to take the journey somewhat blind. That's the hard part, and it sucks sometimes. Sometimes I would actually give up halfway and wouldn't make another mix for months because of it.

The truth is that: My girlfriend is much better at creating mixtapes than I am... But if you have a remotely sensible head for music on your shoulders, what you really need is a motivator. Creating a great mixtape isn't really about the mixtape at all, its about facing/encountering an emotion, or an idea, or an event, or a person and then expressing what you want to say about such things through the creative talents of other people.... pretty original.

 "You have to go in with a theme, an idea, a premise-- then you let it work its way into something really solid, something solid-ifiable."

Today I sat down to try and come up with a concept for a mixtape. The last three that I have down were thrown together in about 5 minutes each and I think I may have just tossed the disc after a single listening experience. It took me about an hour to really come up with a good concept, because like I said it really comes down to what you are "encountering", and ironically it was inspired by a bunch of bands that I really hated in High School. Its ironic that dwelling on music you hate can help you remember all of the music that you used to like, or that you still do like and tote around in front of others reminding them of how long you have actually been a fan. Now even if you have been a fan forever there will always be those people who love to fake it to win friends in conversation, for e.g.- I had this friend who used to go around saying that they had been listening to Radiohead since Pablo Honey but secretly only picked up In Rainbows at Starbucks last year and wanted to seem "indie". That seems kinda fake to me, and also a little bit shameful- shame on you man. So as I was beginning to narrow down my variety of options I actually found a few songs that I used to love and actually still do! That was  a real challenge as my musical tastes have changed more than Gaga's dress's at the VMAs... yeah I went there.

"With all the Bieberfever going around, I better get my shots up to date."

So after finally burning the disc, I got in my car and I drove... I drove all the way until the mixtape finished and had used up the remaining $10.00 of gas that I keep putting in my car. My choices ranged from Brandon Flowers to Weezer to Rage Against the Machine to Rod Stewart to Jimmy Eat World to Meatloaf and on through to Leonard Cohen. As I traveled, to a destination unknown, I was intent on finding something new and exciting to write down and share on this blog. Unfortunately in my haze of enjoying my accomplishment and the unintentional postmodernism that regularly creeps into my mind when attempting to nail something down, I came out on the other side feeling like I didn't really learn anything new. I had mentioned on my other blog (over at that I have been itching to drive cross country, and perhaps attempt to do something like what Klosterman does in "Killing Yourself to Live", but without a real sense of time/money to apply to such an endeavor makes it difficult to decide when that will actually happen. Regardless of whether or not I actually found "myself" or whatever it is that I am trying to say, those 55 minutes in the car did make me realize a few things. I realized that the actual experience of having no identifiable destination, regardless of the amount of time you spend on it, is actually kind of a destination itself. I know that Klosterman talked about that in his book, sorta kinda, but it didn't really click with me until today. I guess that when you have a motivator to fall back onto, in this case a mixtape, you feel compelled to answer those questions that you with greater triumph than you would if you simply went at it out of obligation. Perhaps we determine our destinations just like we determine what goes on our mixtapes- through careful precision and open mindedness. Or something like that.

2011- Cinnamon Dinosaur

Friday, March 11, 2011

screen captures reel: series 1: Jason and the Argonauts

original screen capture

revised color alterations + vector changes= win

So as you can see I had a little Photoshop action going on this morning and decided to post the end result because it looks so freaking cool! I am very proud of this little alteration and as I become better attuned to the Adobe suite I will be putting together a portfolio of adjusted screen captures as a kind of fun challenge! I would like to work with black and white and turn it to color but I think I will stick with alterations first. Leave a comment below and shout out your thoughts! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Weekly Update: March 10th 2011- "Facing the Shadow" (slightly revised at 4:00pm)

I found a bunch of scribblings as I began the process of clearing out my tiny little room yesterday. Its amazing that I still have so much junk even after 4 different moves since April 2009. These thoughts don't necessarily reflect exactly where I am at this week but they are a good reminder of where I have come from and where I will be going. Today I really was hit with a sense of longing for friendships that have either gone by the wayside or are isolated in other places that I am not. It made me kind of wish to be with them, wherever they are, but I know that what ultimately makes reunions all the more powerful is your ability to see how far you've come in the time since you've last saw them. I was listening to Mumford and Sons just a few minutes ago and a line from "Awake my Soul" kept resonating with me, it goes like this:

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies you will die- where you invest your love, you invest your life ("Awake my Soul" by Mumford and Sons)
That I believe is truth. That I believe is a more powerful example of honest- truth than any I have accepted in recent days, and I sit with it as I write this out. 

This came about only after I had driven to Starbucks feeling a weight upon my shoulders. I knew that such a thing was commonplace in this day-n-age, but to not feel released from such burden weighs on your sense of freedom. Seeing nothing but icy snow, with no sign of the sun, probably has something to do with it. So I popped in an old album, "Much Afraid" by Jars of Clay, and I began to listen to words that I have barely heard since I was 17. That's strange... to think how far back that was, but perhaps now I have achieved a distance to really evaluate how I feel about this album without a slant towards some event or even a person. Music has that effect on you. It can literally rip your heart out, piece it back together, and create emotional distance all in the same song and yet we run to it in times of discomfort, in times of joy, and in times of anger. Its kind of like the universal medicine, lap to cry on, and punching bag all in the same tense. Anyways, a line harped up on track 5, which I think was called "Frail", and I just had to write it down: "Convinced of my deception, I've always been a fool. I fear this love reaction, just like you said I would." ("Frail" by Jars of Clay) That hit me because I so often make excuses as to why I can't do something- and it shows up more often than I would care to admit.

Its an understatement to say that I find myself complex, and in just thinking that I have come up with about 20 different reasons why that it is true. But love... somehow being in love isn't complicated, its harder to actually be loved, I think. I have found love where I thought I would not, which is the essence of discovering not only the part of yourself that is missing but the path to which it shall transcend, and then walk in that love everyday. Though I will fail at times, I know that that love isn't an epilogue to a Grimm tale showcasing a sense of morality as a sign of weakness, nor is it a catchy tune meant to sway on emotion alone, but instead it is something to not only embrace but to fear. The entire concept of fear is a topic unto itself, but in the context of what I am saying I think that in America we tend to always view fear as negative. The fear of God is something that is resonating with the complexity of mysterious movement, mysterious love, and mysterious being. We embrace that resonation with fear because of how immense it truly is, and because we seek to run and hide in defense. Love is then this big mysterious other that we are submersed within and yet cannot define. Falling in love with someone has its ups and downs, but even in the lowest moments you just feel that persons heart and soul in your every momentous action. To throw off the ties to past failures is to shed the shells that contain you, break you, and seek to define you not based upon your own ability but on the account of that which you wish could/would/should not be you. I felt a terrible burden for so long and in the last 6 months I have freed myself from its shadowy bonds and ran. I feel lighter everyday, I feel happier everyday, and I understand that what one might call love in such hard times, can really be a manipulation of "wants and gives."

"there will come a time with no more tears and love will not break your heart but dismiss your fears. get over your hill and see what you find there with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair and there will come a time you'll see with no more tears. and love will not break your heart...."("After the Storm" by Mumford and Sons)

So here are some writings/musings that correlate with burdens, love, mystery, and fatigue... may they help to show my heart and perhaps help you to look to yours.

"it is when people do not allow the God of the universe to show up through them that the world collapses upon itself... to destroy and maim the remainder of what once was you"
"concern strikes out in half hazy dreamed photos of a face i wish i could relate to... at this time it doesn't make sense"
"i left because i wouldn't have the right to object to such truths, the bare essentials have become my support as i seek out help in places and people that were all around me and yet i did not want them. what a fearful fool i have been. i strip away the blockade and parade the white flag to show my lies... please be gentle oh friends of old...please be gentle"
"corporate wolves eat helpless lambs... but the lion... he stalks the doorway as means to destroy us all... us and all that we deemed worthy... a pile of soiled papers and bags of burdens and bludgeoned egos"
"as all is yet to be determined, so much so lets unravel it. when everything feels predetermined until chaos becomes creation, lets light up our cigarettes and in the wind lets run until we cannot find the ground- the ability for spontaneous combustion."
"love that you may find what love will do for others... for you have been loved and thus every day that light (however dimmed by your own shortcomings) should shine"
"drink in the day and sleep through the night, and if I could free myself from your possession I would and perhaps one day I will..." (and I did)

I will leave you with the video for Joe Pug's "Hymn 101" which I think perfectly summarizes exactly what I hope this reflection accomplishes for me... Thanks for reading. Leave a comment and wait for that sunrise.