Friday, September 2, 2011

On the Island of Atmosphere

Yeah, another blog post, and only a few minutes later after the last one. What can I say? When it rains, it pours. :)

Always wonder why some people are more finely attuned to atmosphere and its effects than other people? I have. :)

I think there are several factors at work: Upbringing, cultural factors, creativity, sensitivity, genetics, and the wiring of the human brain itself.

I grew up in a household where music was everywhere, and in my own specific culture, music was a central part of our specific community as well. I learned to sing certain melodies as a child, and their cadences and rhythms have stuck with me through the years. My mom also played music to me when I was in the womb. So, maybe that's why I like a lot of music from the sixties. LOL.

Then, came the seventies and the eighties of my childhood and early teens, and that formed me as well. And to be honest, sometimes I find myself even enjoying songs that I disliked as a kid. Now that the songs have become dusted over with age, they seem to hold more appeal. That's the strangest phenomenon, don't you think? Of course, part of that has to do with nostalgia, but also sometimes we re-examine our musical tastes, and find that, as we look back on these songs, we now have a newfound appreciation for them. They can even hold new meanings for us in hindsight. And, if our musical tastes expand later on in life, which they hopefully will do (!), this can also explain our new embrace of these formerly disliked tunes. Now, we've hopefully come to appreciate so much more music and also a much wider range of music, so I guess it's not that unusual for this to happen.

Of course, musical tastes are largely formed by memories and the associations we make with those songs from an early age. Then they hopefully expand and morph into new planes, new genres, and new ways of thinking about music in general.

Some people are more apt to stay at fixed points in their musical tastes, and well, let's not mince words here, also their musical development. ;) You know the ones I'm talking about, the ones who only listen to classic rock or are stuck in the eighties. ;)  Needless to say, while I might be able to relate to them in general as human beings, I don't really relate very well to these souls on a musical level. Maybe that sounds harsh, but I'm just being honest.

Whatever decades of music people have embraced, there's no denying its effect. It can completely alter the way we move through the world. It can affect our attitudes and sometimes even alter our philosophies and belief systems. Yes, it does have that kind of immense power, even if it might not be consciously realized at the time. The music does its work, and we respond in ways we might not yet even completely understand.

And this is what I love so much about it. It has the power to help our minds to grow and evolve. This has been proven on a scientific level, but we really don't even need to be told this, because intuitively we know this to be true. We can feel its effects in so many different ways.

I am one of those souls who is deeply affected by music, that is, if I so choose to give into it at any given moment. One of things I love the most about listening to music is enveloping myself in its atmosphere. Sometimes I like to just bathe in the pure emotion of it all. The music creates the mood (or enhances the mood I'm already feeling), and I just let its waves flow and wash over me in a wide swath. That effect can be like a small ripple or a tidal wave, depending on how much I want to respond to that energy and mood. Sometimes I want to deeply connect with the meaning of a song and let its every aspect seep into my pores while other times I tend to just want to hear something catchy without getting too deep into the mood or lyrics of the song.

I'm a musician, and even though I do sing, I tend to be focused on the music more than the lyrics. That's what I find overtakes me the most. Sure, lyrics can be powerful, and I'm not denying that fact, but for me, it's all about the music itself. The melodies, harmonies, background sounds, the blips and beeps, the thrashing guitars, the whoops and the screams and the guttural growls, the soft incantations of sound, the pulsing throbs of bass and beats, the riveting drums that strike right into the heart of me, etc. It's all about the way the music makes me feel. It taps into a deep reservoir in that nonverbal space of my mind. That private zone where I can just give into my emotions without anyone even knowing. :)

Cocoon

Yeah, I know. It's been like ten eons since I wrote something here. Been just a tad bit busy. Blah blah blah. LOL. Think every blogger has probably resorted to writing something like that at one time or another on their blog. ;)

Over the past few months, I've been in a cocoon -- writing, writing, writing, and OK, doing other stuff as well. ;) Also, I must confess that up until today, I haven't been feeling very social, but rest assured, it's not a personal reflection upon others in the bliposphere -- I love my blip buddies -- but rather, it's more about time constraints. I really do enjoy conversation with my blip pals on Blip.fm, but I've been so dang busy that I've been in a blip coma by necessity. I prop and RB, but sometimes I just want to blip, blip, blip, then prop and RB, and then let the tunes roll through my stream.

And also, since I seem to be in a confessional mood today, I'll say one more unbelievably candid thing: The last few months I've been stewing in my own juices a bit as well. Not a full-on pity party mind you, but perhaps just a little dab of melancholia, due to some specific events in my personal life that I'd rather not get into. So, that's made me withdraw a bit too. Anyhoooo, I'm mostly over that feeling now, so here I come, flying out of the cocoon. I'm BACK, baby!

OK, that's enough personal revelation for one day. ;)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Let's Play Musical Free Association

On a few occasions, I've played a musical free association game with some friends on Blip. (I'd created the game several months ago, but am only just now getting around to posting about it.) Since people seem to like playing the game, I thought I'd list the guidelines here for future reference, which'll make it a whole lot easier to explain how to play. If you feel like playing and would like to explain the rules to someone, then all you have to do is just send them a link to this post. :) (I've tried explaining before within a blip or two, but of course, it can be a challenge to explain the object of the game in 140 characters. ;) )

So, if you'd like to play the game with me or with others, here's how it works:

(1) The object of the game is to blip songs that link to a player's previous blip in some way. Here are the ways in which each song can link to the next:
-->You can blip a song that has the same word or group of words within the song title or in the band's name itself.
-->It's also perfectly legitimate to blip tracks from the same artist as the previous player's blip, or even remixes or covers of the same song.
-->You can also choose to blip different songs with the same or title or a similar title.
-->You can also play tracks from band members' side projects if you like. That's still a link, so it counts. :)
-->You can also a blip song that has a potentially less obvious link to the previous song. For example: Maybe one song is by the wife and the other is by the husband. Or, maybe one artist has dated the other. ;) Or, perhaps one song inspired the creation of another. Or, perhaps the title of the band was named after the title of another band's song. You get the idea. :)
-->As long as each blip bears some association to the previous one, it's cool. If the link isn't obvious between one blip and the next, just clarify the connection in blip itself (or put it in the next blip, the other player asks for clarification in their next turn). That way, people can also learn something about various aspects of the music world. :)

(2) Rules of Play: The game is played by blipping selections back and forth between you and one other player. (It'd probably get too complicated if more than two people play. If there are more than 2 players, you'd probably have to establish the number of players who'll be joining the game from the outset, and then take turns going in a particular order. I guess it could be done.)
-->The person who initiates the game starts with a blip of their choice. It's probably a good idea to put the blip game announcement in the first blip, so people know you'd like to play the game. :) Example: "Anyone up for a little free association blip game? If you'd like to join me, here are the rules of play: http://bit.ly/dHYDCX."
-->Once the players have been established, the first player blips something & then replies to the other player to let him now they've begun playing. Example: ""@username: Tag, you're it."
-->Of course, you can still blip stuff that's unrelated, that falls outside the parameters of the game, while the game is still running. To avoid confusion, be sure to use the @username convention addressing the other player, so they know it's a game-related blip. If you're only playing with one other person, it should be pretty obvious that your reply blip is a game-related blip just by the title of the blip itself. :) Of course, by virtue of blipping a selection to the other player, you are also now indicating that it's now their turn to play.
-->You can play for as long or as little as you like. Of course, just let the other person know you're done playing, so they don't hang around waiting for your reply blip. ;)

And that's pretty much it. Enjoy playing!

Cheers,
MM

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Musical Secrets

I'll admit that I like some groups or artists that I'm "ashamed" of liking. I might prop them when they show up in other people's streams, but it's a rare occasion when I'll actually reblip them. ;) Then, there are other times when I'm feeling extra brave, & don't give a rat's ass if I lose a few followers just because I've just blipped something that completely shatters what most people have come to expect from my channel. LOL. (Listener expectation also can depend on how often people tune into Blip.fm or what time of day they're listening to my channel; if they've gotten accustomed to hearing a particular genre the last time they tuned in, they might be in for a rather rude shock the next time they drop in for a listen. ;) )

Don't worry, I'm not going to profess an undying love of Justin Bieber's music. Haha! I detest that little twerp's cringeworthy music & will continue to do so ad infinitum, as most others my age will undoubtedly concur, or at least those with taste. ;) While I'm not exactly a closet fan of Barry Manilow, Kenny G, or Michael Bolton either (LOL!), I still do like some artists whom I know don't possess the commonly sanctioned "coolness" factor, at least not as that's defined by the majority of people in my age group who are connected to the modern era. ;) Examples: Barry White, Exposé, Wham!, Falco, Toto, Olivia Newton John (particularly the Xanadu album -- extra points for cheesiness there!), Hall & Oates, etc. Heck, I'll even admit to liking a Britney Spears song or two (i.e., Toxic, Womanizer, Gimme More, etc.), even though I don't particularly care for her as a general rule. There are even some limited selections from the Bee Gees that I enjoy, particularly their soundtrack contributions (i.e., songs from Saturday Night Fever & Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band). OK, these admissions are starting to veer on embarrassing. You see, I've probably already said too much already! Good thing I'm anonymous here & on Blip.fm. LOL!

The funny thing is that some of these older, formerly "uncool" artists have, in recent years, suddenly become "cool" again. Or rather, they've been (rediscovered & then) covered by some rather fearless modern artists in a fun & unique way. And then, of course, the younger generations not surprisingly go back to the source material & find that they actually enjoy this stuff. ;) The Bird & the Bee's Hall & Oates cover album is a particular example that comes to mind. Also, Chromeo has a similar fixation with Hall & Oates. I don't know, maybe it's the signature, furry, caterpillar-like 'stache. ;) (Yeah, I know he got rid of it, but you've got to admit, that thing has staying power in pop culture's collective unconsciousness.) Both groups have covered their songs & also played with either Hall or Oates, or both. :)

So, while on some level I'm sure people will probably respond to the above remarks by saying something like "you should like what you like & to hell with others who can't relate," there's still a certain part of me that can't help but balk at the "uncool" factor. I guess it's just ingrained in my subconscious; and also, my mate teases the hell out of me for liking some of these groups. Then, I remind this person that they like openly like New Age music & the Andy Bell period of Erasure, & furthermore have several of the albums to prove it, and then they shut the hell up. ;) Sure, if I was from another generation & listened to Easy 101 FM (Hahaha!), or lived in another part of the world, maybe some of these preferences would be forgiven. ;)

The movie equivalent of this would be the French & their love of Jerry Lewis movies. Or how some people -- particularly those not connected to the pulse of what's currently happening in music right now -- still think MJ's music is hip. No offense, but his music hasn't been hip since the late 80's. ;)

Of course, there are also some people who would argue that this "coolness" factor is relative, depending upon one's generation, cultural background, & other influences. While Rick Astley might be revered as a deity in some circles, he's far from hip amongst the 20-45 crowd in the US. ;)

Now, on the flip side of things, there are those artists whose "coolness" factor isn't defined or limited by any particular era or age group, that is, unless you're 90 & are still rambling on about that "darned, cotton-pickin' rock 'n' roll music" & how it's the "devil's tool." ;)

For example, the following artists are considered to be perpetually cool, & probably will continue to enjoy this reputation until the end of time. Also, it probably goes without saying, but if you blip following artists, you are almost GUARANTEED to get props (at least amongst the 20-45 crowd):

The Cure
New Order
Joy Division
Bauhaus
Peter Murphy
Gary Numan
Siouxsie Sioux & the Banshees
The Smiths
The Ramones
Radiohead
The Velvet Underground
Dusty Springfield
Nico
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
The Killing Joke
Mission UK
KMFDM
Front 242
Frontline Assembly
Covenant
VNV Nation
Sisters of Mercy
Rammstein
NIN
Depeche Mode
Daft Punk
Tom Waits
Ministry
Metallica
Violent Femmes
Massive Attack
Public Enemy
Beastie Boys
Peter Gabriel
Kate Bush
Annie Lennox
Eurythmics
Placebo
U2
REM
Black Sabbath
Ozzy Osbourne
The Clash
The Specials
The Jam
Thievery Corporation
Sneaker Pimps
Poe
Hooverphonic
Björk
Tricky
Jill Scott
Morcheeba
Gus Gus
Saint Etienne
OMD
Simple Minds

(I could go on....)

You know it's true. :) The people who blip or prop many of the above artists might not have been living when these artists made most of their hits, but they full well know the effect of their staying power & influence on modern music as it exists today.

And then, if you want to extend the age group to 50-60, go ahead & blip some classic rock &/or classic soul/Motown & see what happens. For starters, try The Beatles, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Golden Earring, Pink Floyd, Janis Joplin, The Commodores, James Brown, The P-Funk, EW&F, Al Greene, Sly & The Family Stone, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Ike & Tina Turner, or even Johnny Mathis, etc. Prop, prop, prop. :)

Then, there's the newer crop of "coolness," which includes (but is not exclusively limited to) some of the below artists:

Gorillaz
Gnarls Barkley
Mark Ronson
Kate Nash
Adele
Duffy
Lily Allen
Madcon
Ladyhawke
Ladytron
Phoenix
Combichrist
Broken Bells
Peaches
Bat for Lashes
Late of the Pier
MGMT
Metric
Temper Trap
Silversun Pickups
Mystery Jets
Zero 7
Yeasayer
The Kills
Muse
Paramore
M83
She Wants Revenge
Linkin Park
Tool
Incubus

And then there are the "genre" people. You know who I'm talking about. The people who only prop things in their little "windows" of "acceptable" genres. People who only listen to alt.rock or pop or electronica or metal, etc. Sure, it's their prerogative to do this, but frankly, I'd rather not be limited by any one genre. Frankly, it'd just bore the crap out of me.

Of course, not everyone fits so neatly into these little boxes, & honestly, I just love it when people break the "mold" and destroy other peoples' musical expectations. People like @CargoCulte or @redoctopus, who don't let their age define their musical tastes. Or people like @Totengraeber, who, just when you think he's all about darkwave, industrial, new wave, & gothic rock, blips something completely different that doesn't fit into any of those genres. Or, people like @romanus and @BluJulius, who blip such a wide variety of genres that it's always a treat to see what they blip next. The nice thing about Blip.fm is that there are enough blippers who blip cross-genre selections to keep things interesting.

Also, there are a lot of people who blip international selections, regardless of whether or not they live in that song's country of origin. There are even some blippers from my age group that also blip songs that make me feel better about some of the corny songs that I've blipped. ;) And then there are also some blippers who have replied that they've enjoyed some of my more embarrassing selections, & then we shared a good laugh about it. Also, if you get to know a DJ's taste well enough, you'll also realize when they're blipping something merely as a joke. :) All of these factors certainly keep Blip.fm fresh & exciting.

Updates, Et Cetera

First, a few FYIs:

--Some of you know that I have a Twitter account & follow me there. Again, as previously mentioned on this blog & elsewhere, please note that it's NOT @musicalmind. This is someone else, & I don't even think they are on Blip.fm, at least not under that particular username. ;) Also, those of you who follow me on Twitter, please note that I'm not on there a whole heck of a lot, so if want to get my attention there, please DM me instead. Thanks!

--If you'd like to connect with me on Twitter or Facebook, you're welcome to leave your contact information in the comments section of this post. If you'd rather not do that, you can also DM me your Facebook profile link in Twitter (that is, if you're already following me there) or click on the "Follow on Twitter" link in Blip.fm's drop-down menu, either from my profile page or on any of my blips. If I know who you are & we are already friends on Blip.fm, chances are good that I'll accept & follow you back. :) Please note, I don't currently accept follow requests from people who I don't already know. On that note, if your Twitter username isn't the same as your Blip.fm username, please let me know in Blip.fm (via a blip reply) that you just sent me a follow request, so that I don't accidentally deny or block your request. ;) My Twitter account is private, so if you select "Follow me on Twitter" via Blip.fm's interface, it only sends a follow request. I still have to accept the request. :)


Next, a few changes of note:

--If you've frequented this blog in the past & have just popped in for another visit, you may've noticed that I've just given this blog a much-needed facelift. It was time. :)

--Also, I've created a Facebook page. If you "like" this page, new blog updates will then show up in your Facebook news stream.

--I'd considered connecting Blip.fm to my Facebook page &/or account, but decided that due to the frequency with which I blip, it was probably better to leave this feature disconnected. ;) The same goes for Twitter; if I want to send a particularly good song there, I'll send a selective blip instead of clogging up the stream with a zillion blip tweets. ;) This information shows up on Blip.fm, which is good enough for me.

That's about it for the updates.

Technical Garbage Resolved: It's OK If You Didn't Notice ;)

For those who care about technical details, please continue reading. All others, please feel free to skip this post. ;)

I just noticed that this blog's posts weren't displaying properly in Feedburner's RSS stream, due to a configuration error. (Only the first four posts were showing up in the feed!) Please note, this issue only affects those who've subscribed to this blog's Feedburner feed, & probably didn't affect those who are following via the Google Followers interface, (which has a its own separate RSS stream), but at any rate, this issue has now been resolved.

Also, due to the above error, none of the original feed streams (including Google Follower's RSS feed) were redirecting to Feedburner's feed, which wasn't my original intent. ;) Of course, due to the correction, now all feeds, regardless of format -- RSS, Atom, etc. -- are now being redirected to Feedburner. :)

Yes, all is well again in this blog's mini-universe. You can now exhale a big sigh of relief. LOL. Since most of you are probably following via the Google Followers widget, you probably wouldn't have noticed any of these changes anyhow, unless you'd also subscribed to the Feedburner feed for some unknown reason. ;)

I did, however, notice something strange with the recently corrected Feedburner feed: All blog posts, save the first four posts (all written in January), are now showing up in the RSS feed with the date "February 2, 2011," which of course is inaccurate. :) Also, the post, "That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles" is showing up as the latest post with today's date, i.e., at the top of the feed, even though it was actually written on February 5, 2011.

I suspect that the former issue was caused by the fact that, due to the recent correction, Feedburner's RSS feed is just now picking up the latest items it couldn't find before, & is now posting them with the date it found the posts instead of the actual dates these items were posted. And with regard to the four initial items, these were probably cached items that were found by Feedburner when it was initially configured. You see, I originally wanted to use the URL, http://musicalmind.blogspot.com, & had initially tried to burn Feedburner's feed to this address. However, since someone else had already taken that address, I was forced to change the address to http://ofamusicalmind.blogspot.com; and although I'd changed Feedburner's feed address to match the actual blog address, it looks like I'd forgotten to also change the original feed address on Feedburner's end, which Feedburner needs to redirect the feed. Oops. ;)

If you still have absolutely no idea of what I've been talking about above (maybe you didn't see my initial warning - LOL!), then the only take-away you need to be concerned with is that there was a problem with Feedburner's RSS & it's now been fixed. :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Feel the Love: Unending Props for You & Me

I love how props get recycled into credits that you can then give away to others. Props are the gift that keeps on giving. ;)

As a rule, I tend to be a very generous propper. There are so many people to give props to, so why hold back? It feels good to give them out. Most of us have accumulated enough props by now that we can afford to be generous.

Are you a generous propper? What's your philosophy on propping others? Do you care if you accidentally prop a song that you didn't mean to prop? Or, are you happy to give them away to people, even if you didn't intend to prop a particular song? ;) Do you ever give props out for songs you know you like but haven't actually clicked on to play? When someone props you, do you then go to their profile & give them reciprocal props? Do you care if you give a zillion props to someone but they don't give as many props back, or could you care less about this? I know I don't give a fig if I prop people but they haven't propped me back. I follow some people who don't follow me back, and vice versa, so I'm not in their stream or they're not in mine. They might prop stuff if I give them a shoutout, but I certainly don't expect to get props from them. If they do, it's an added bonus. :)

One thing that drives me nuts is when people reply with the same song over & over again to get my attention. OK, saw your blip the first time. No need to overdo it. ;) I mean it's OK if they're RB'ing a song back to me because we're having a conversation, but some people can get rather heavy-handed with the repeat replies. Please, for the love of all that is good & holy, stop doing this or I swear I'm going to block you! There's only so much of this that a person can take. It's really a courtesy thing. Stop clogging up other people's streams. It's inconsiderate. We actually want to see new blips, as well as blips from other DJs, from time to time, OK?! ;) Somehow, I think I'm probably not alone in this sentiment. ;)

However, most blippers thankfully behave themselves on this front. And I think most tend to be fairly generous with their props too. Sure, we can all get wrapped up in our blip comas & forget to prop sometimes, but usually this state isn't permanent. ;)

One thing I do wonder about: Do those who "ask for props" by putting 5 zillion names in their replies also remember to give those very same people some props?! I really hope so. After all, if you keep the good vibes going & propagate the props (LOL!), you're sure to be well thought of on Blip. Plus, generosity is like wildfire. Pass it on & watch it flourish in others. Just my two cents.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sex, Drugs, & Rock 'N' Roll & The Current Cultural Compass



Everyone has their moments. There are times when I relish in the sexuality of music, and other times when I can't run away from it fast enough. I'm as compelled as I am repulsed, but not usually in the same moment. :) Generally speaking, I don't typically get sexual charged by things that repulse me. Rather, I get hot & bothered over charismatic, confident, intelligent people who are comfortable with their own bodies & thus, have a significant physical presence & know how to express themselves. :) Sometimes I like a little danger, but it's not necessarily the thrill of the forbidden that gets me going. That is something I got over quickly. After all, I'm not a teenager anymore. ;)

As an adult, I don't typically flinch from the explicitness of a lot of music out there. There's a wide range of sexual expression in music, & it takes a lot to disgust me. I'm not a prude, nor am I some sex-crazed being. It just doesn't phase me. I'm an adult. I've accepted these expressions as part of life. They are as old as humanity itself.

It probably goes without saying that I'm against censorship of these expressions as well. If adults want to choose certain paths, paths that don't cause serious bodily harm to others, then I've got no problem with it. It's their business.

We're at an interesting juncture in our cultural history. As most people already know, societies go through periods of freedom & repression. The pendulum swings one way & then it swings the other, usually in keeping with corresponding political shifts (from liberal to conservative political trends & back again). If you want to gauge where we are as a society at any given moment -- as a litmus test of societal mores concerning sexual conduct & the our perceptions of where the outer edges of where 'acceptable' sexuality lies -- just take a snapshot of our culture's depictions of eroticism & sexuality at any given moment. That will tell a detailed story right there. It's not just the political arguments & fights to steer the society one way or the other or what's shown (or not shown!) or being talked about in various spheres - i.e., online, in film, or on TV, but there's also a nonverbal expression of it -- through art, music, dance, & other expressions -- which often expresses individuals' true feelings on the matter, no matter what they might publicly insist to others. Those gestures are often just lip-service gestures constructed for appeasement, self-protection, or for show. The real zeitgeist & the true core of many of our feelings about sexuality often lie in the hidden realms of the mind, which often can't help but come out as musical expressions. :)

I think we are at a crossroads which could go either way. In America, the religious right is up to its usual antics, trying to repress and mold others into their tiny little boxes. We can't be what others want us to be. It's not natural, nor is it right to expect that of others. Don't they know that by now? Control, control, control. They control others because they obviously can't control their own desires. Congressmen coping a feel in the men's bathroom ring a bell, anyone? A sh*tload of Republicans in office have turned out to be secretly gay. And this revelation wouldn't be such a big deal to most people (with the exception of a good number of their more uptight constituents), except for the fact that their existence is an utter sham & a lie, & also, most of them already have spouses of the opposite sex. ;) And then some have twisted their suppressed desires into a penchant for little boys or girls, and all because they couldn't channel their sexuality through regular channels. Just get over repressing yourself, and then you won't be repressing others or get carted away for pedophilia or some other perverse act. Sheesh.

They always seem to be on the wrong side of social progress. First, it was the slavery issue, then women's rights, and then African-American civil rights. And this time, it's the last frontier: Gay rights. As a society, we are doing a hell of a lot of headbanging in that department. And I'm not talking about rockin' out to heavy metal music. ;) Even though the majority of the population, particularly amongst the younger population, have an accepting attitude towards gays & many are certainly ready for gay rights to become a political reality, American politicians still haven't been able to pass very many laws to this effect (health coverage for gay partners, etc.). They are still doing the same old stupid things that haven't worked in the past, and this is certainly not limited to gay rights. ;) They are deadlocked on a lot of issues pertaining to sexual freedoms in general, and hopefully that'll change soon, but until the society's attitudes towards sexuality moves a little bit more to left, as it keeps doing on various different social issues, there are going to be some fierce battles still up ahead. It's about time for the Republicans to unplug the butt plug from their collective assholes for chrissakes. ;)

Thankfully, there has been some progress with the repeal of that stupid-ass "don't ask, don't tell" policy that the military's had in place for years. Of course, the other side's fighting to repeal the new policy, but I sincerely believe those Prop 8'ers and the rest of those backward-ass folks are ultimately going to be disappointed in the end. Change will come, whether we have to bring the rest of them kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

As a society, Americans are so behind the rest of the world that way, with maybe a few exceptions -- i.e., the Middle East, for one. Europe is light years ahead of us on that front. If you consider the various civil rights fights for emancipation that've cycled through our history, Europe has taken the lead on almost every single one. Now, to be fair, their history is certainly much older & further along, and perhaps in some ways, they have benefited from that knowledge in ways that American society has yet to learn. Also, generally speaking, they are a far more secular society, with the possible exception of the Muslim populations there.

Of course, the massive & relatively recent influx of Muslim immigrants into Europe has been a source of friction, & it'll be interesting to see how that gets resolved. Hopefully, without violence, although if the current situation is any indication, I'm not betting on it. Part of the issue is that these immigrants haven't done much to assimilate into the existing culture or even to actively participate in society at large. Also, a lot of them send money back home & so it's not being pumped back into the native economy. As a result of this, there's been a lot of resentment on the European side, particularly from conservatives.

Then, there's the attitudes of the incoming populations themselves to consider as well: It's not just that many of them unbending in their ways in terms of their own lifestyle, attitudes, & daily practices. They have also extended their ridigity to the way they look at their host countries. Many of them judge the existing societal structures at large by their own standards, & in many cases, have even tried to make it bend to their values, instead of the other way around or better yet, just leaving others be. And by others, I mean primarily the people who do not share their values. The way I see it, Muslims can't expect the rest of European society to conform to their ways, since a lot of them are transplants living in an existing societal structure. As the expression goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." I know they are who they are, & that the majority of them don't want to change that, but if you're the newbies, you have to learn to be a bit more accepting of the larger society into which you just entered & also of any noticeable differences in lifestyle between your habits & those of the established, already-existing culture in that country. If I lived in a Muslim country, I wouldn't expect them to bend their culture to my whim either. Sure, as a Muslim living in Europe, you might not choose to party in your neighborhood's Bavarian beer halls (i.e., in Germany), and that's certainly your prerogative as drinking isn't an activity sanctioned by your religion, but those establishments were there first, not you. Also, a lot of those areas with beer halls weren't originally residential to start with anyhow. They were business districts, but due to overcrowding from incoming external populations, they've more recently had to accommodate residents. Don't like living next to a beer hall? Then move to another side of town, to a place where you won't be bothered by that sort of thing, or to a completely different town altogether. Simple as that.

This kind of inflexibility needs to be contained & confined to their own spheres of existence. Likewise, those inflexible persons foisting their ways upon others seriously need a reality check.

The same goes for museum exhibits. I'm thinking of one London exhibit in particular, where Muslims protested the sexual nature of one exhibit. Um, really?! How about just choosing not to go to the exhibit?! Don't push your prudish, narrow morality on others! As new residents, it's a bit unrealistic for them to expect London to suddenly change its nature to accommodate theirs. European society has been living this way for a very long time. This kind of stuff just makes me want to scream. Also, people who choose to go to the exhibit are adults, not children, so "quit yer whinin'." In response to public outcry from Muslims, the museum yanked their exhibit. This was shocking to me, because London is one of the most sophisticated, cosmopolitan cities I know. They are typically urbane & nonchalant when it comes to this sort of thing, especially amongst the artistic & educated crowds there. Not to mention, when it comes to the artists themselves, those Brits really have a pair on them. :) (Of course, I applaud this, thoroughly.) Most times, museum events of this nature barely register on this city's Richter scale of societal significance. Why they would choose to cowtow (!) to public pressure exhibited by a single social/religious group is extremely baffling to me. What the eff is going on here?! Are they that afraid of the consequences? And if so, why? Muslims are certainly not in the majority there. This is definitely a step backward (for social evolution, freedom of speech, & sexual freedom in general.) Even though the English can be of two minds when it comes to sex, just like Americans, the museum's reaction just doesn't seem fitting somehow. Have some freakin' guts & stick to your principles! Modern art is supposed to push boundaries, and not just sexual ones either. It's there to make people think, to feel, and reimagine ourselves in progressive ways, not retrograde ones from a dying world. Let's let the old relics of a bygone era describe art from previous generations, and not the mindsets of our current culture. ;) The past is the past; we are moving forward, and people need to accept that.

As for an explanation for reasons behind the acquiescence, that still remains to be seen. Sure, The Sun might post nude pics, but maybe the museum heads balked because somewhere within the British psyche there's still a lot of prudishness or feelings of shame & embarrassment within the culture itself?! Wonder when they'll get over that. It's something we Americans & Brits share in common. Oh, joy. ;) Time to let go of those puritanical ways. Or, maybe that's not it. Maybe it's just their infamous sense of reserve getting the best of them.

The above ordeals beg the question, "so, what's considered 'normal' sexual expression & what's not?!" Ask someone to define the borders of acceptable sexuality. It can't be done, because no one really knows where those boundary lines really are. People are still trying to figure that out to this day, and probably will be doing that until the end of time. But isn't the prerogative of the individual to decide that? OK, maybe the FCC has drawn some boundaries for the general public concerning exposure & consumption, and there are certain general views propagated by religious institutions and governmental law, but when it comes to private practices in the bedroom, who's to say where those lines are drawn? Certainly not the government. They have no business in any of our bedrooms. Again, as long as we're talking about consenting adults here, and no one's being hurt against their will, it's anything goes.

And as for other organizations who lobby to ban gay marriage, I don't know why some people feel the need to police other people's sexual practices. For chrissakes, the whole of society isn't going to crumble just because two gay people are getting married. I don't understand how that affects, or more accurately, threatens (!), heterosexual people. If someone wants to get married, whether gay or straight, then let them get married. Who are gay people harming by getting married?! The sanctity of marriage is a question for the individual, not for the government.

As for other people & their sexual hang-ups, I think it's high time that we just freakin' relax about other people's sexuality, and just worry about our own for a change. Instead of being motivated by fear, let's just chill out and not get so excited about controlling other people. How about if we think about our own desires and why we are attracting to certain people & behaviors. That would certainly be a study that would keep most of us preoccupied for a while. LOL.

If we just relax about our sexual desires, we will find freedom. In some ways, it doesn't matter whether we personally choose to disclose choices or our ideas of desire to the world or not. The ironic thing is one the mystery & the stigma is removed, the forbidden no longer holds any appeal. You release the tension, remove its power, and in some ways, the whole thing becomes non-erotic and unattractive as a potential proposition. ;) But it takes courage to push for that in the public sphere. Hopefully, tolerance will win out over the desire to control others & decide what's best for them.

You see this struggle being reflected in our music to some extent. And on TV. While videos have definitely gotten more & more sexually explicit, almost to the point of parody, that doesn't mean that the wider public has embraced all of these concepts; and by that, I don't necessarily mean that in the personal sense of their own practices but in the sense of general acceptance of these practices on a societal level. Of course, some of the concepts portrayed in music & in music videos aren't necessarily meant to be acted upon; some are strictly consigned to the realm of fantasy, but nonetheless, I think that each successive generation to come will build on the next until almost nothing is shocking anymore. ;) Sure, the practice of repression probably won't end anytime soon. It's still going on in the 21st century, no doubt, but the last few decades have done wonders in big and small ways to open up the frontiers, bit by bit. The limits of tolerance are ever-expanding, and music will continue to push and test the boundary lines, maybe until sexuality is no longer such a big deal. I really don't think we still need the "flashing lights" of it all. It's just a part of life. That's all.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Beauty of Blip.fm

Right now, Blip.fm has been my refuge. There's just so much going on right now in my life, & I'm frankly a little bit overwhelmed by it all. Of course Blip helps to soothe and relax me while I work. (Geez, that makes it sound like I'm an old fart listening to elevator music or Easy 101 FM or something. LOL.) These days, I'm mostly just giving people props & RB'ing songs from others that I love.

I don't know if I need to apologize for this but I know I've been a little quiet there in terms of conversation. There are some really cool people there that I love talking with both on Blip & in other social media spaces. I think part of it is that I'm just feeling so drained right now, due everything happening outside of that space, that I've actually run out of things to say there. And when that happens, I'd rather keep quiet until I have something of use to say or I'm ready to chat again. Maybe you can relate.

Sometimes I feel really verbal there, & other times not so much. I think everyone gets like this, and depending on how verbal or extroverted are they are to begin with, this can vary widely. ;)

Also, there are some people I know are just not going to be verbal there. Maybe they just aren't "talkers." Or maybe don't have anything to say at the moment, either in general or to others. And then, maybe they don't really care about talking with others in general but are just there to listen to the music. ;)  And, then again, perhaps sometimes they're quiet because they are just overwhelmed by the amount of replies they get on a daily basis, and they just can't keep possibly up with it all; so they figure, why bother trying. ;) They are just feeling massively overloaded by the flood of responses, especially the ones with zillions of followers. There's just too much to process. I know this happens to me.

I wish Blip.fm had a way to put replies in two separate categories. One just for conversational replies, and another for people who just want you to give them props. LOL. I don't know how they'd distinguish this. Maybe they could allow the users to put different DJs they are following into certain category "buckets." These categories wouldn't necessarily have to be set in stone. The categorizations could be temporary as people's "relationships" and conversation patterns change with each other. Those who tend to be conversationalists could be put into one category & the people who are just trying to share music with you in another. Yeah, that would work.

The beauty of Blip.fm is that most people seem to accept others' tendencies there. I have people I follow who almost never reply to what I say to them but they'll give me props, unprompted, which of course I appreciate. That's fine. And then there are others who are really friendly & chatty. Some of these people are my top proppers & some just enjoy our conversation. I'm fine with it all. I'm not there to garner attention or rack up props. Sure, it feels great to get them, but lately, I haven't been putting a zillion usernames in my blips because there are times when I just want to blip & don't feel the need to get people's attention. Also, I know that people will see my blips when they are on there, and if they feel like giving me props for those songs, well then, hey, that's great. Also, I realize that other people's reply streams are also flooded as much as mine, and there's a good chance they probably won't even see those replies. ;)

This happens even when I'm chatting with people there. Most of us can't be on there all the time to catch all of the incoming messages, and sometimes I feel badly when I miss those replies. It can really be overwhelming & honestly, sometimes I feel a bit frantic and anxious that I'm missing replies from friends I'd like to give props to or just want to keep up our conversation. Again, this would be another reason to argue for the "categories" idea I mentioned above. I might even mention it to the powers that be that run Blip.fm. What do you think about this idea?