Song Spotlight 6

“Paradise” by Coasts.

Coasts is an English rock band. This record was one of their singles for their second album, called This Life, Vol. 1 (2017). Their eponymous last record contained songs like, “Oceans,” and “Your Soul.”

I just want to start with how much I enjoyed their first album. I didn’t love it all, but the songs I did enjoy were pretty incredible. “Oceans,” “Modern Love,” and, “Wolves,” were some of my favorite songs last year.

I chose this song because I’m hearing it now and it strikes me as the kind of song that will resonate within me for probably as long as I’m alive. It’s not as uptempo and high energy  as, “Heart Starts Beating,” (my other favorite from this album) but its steadiness and melody fit like gears. The arrangement is more electronic than their usual record, which is a nice sign of variety and balance. The chord progression only includes chords from I-IV-V-VI, which makes it easy to love but also to fall into the trap of sounding like many other pop rock songs out there. Honestly, this song is a pretty stark departure from their bigger hits, but I really enjoy that the elements that make their band’s sound discernible are still present in this track. It makes the song, despite its difference, feel like inalienable part of their discography.

“We come to life when we’re side by side,” is such a brilliant first line. I’m positive it’s been written somewhere else in the annals of prose and songwriting, but that doesn’t make it less ideal in this song. And the line that solidified this song’s place among my lists: “I’ll play your favorite record on repeat.” Because who doesn’t want their partner to know their favorite record AND play it on repeat when it fits the moment?

I have a playlist of songs that sound like summer, songs that I want to blast while I drive down the California coast on a warm day with the windows down, songs that I imagine I’ll hear in my head when I’m holding a pretty girl’s hand. This song is on that playlist.

Thanks for the tune, Coasts.

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How my book may start/end

“This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen,” she said under her breath.

“I think I said the same exact thing when I first saw this,” I replied.

The man on the stage looked like he was just about done pulling anal beads out of his conjoined twin’s anus. I mean, I could only hope he was close to being done; he’d been pulling for what felt like minutes. I know, I know, minutes doesn’t sound long at all, but one must consider the act here: a man is pulling out some anal beads. How long must the whole thing be for it take minutes? Sure, a deuce taking minutes is a person who is too fast or didn’t go at all. Sure, finishing all your homework in minutes means you didn’t have much or you did it completely wrong. But anal beads? Minutes? That’s an eternity.

I talk about important television in my life

Every day, there’s usually one or a few things that remind me of some very important life lesson I’ve learned through TV shows and have been reinforced through very defining circumstances in my life. I want to credit TV shows. It seems they are so quickly and easily dismissed. You watch them and think the world of them, but as soon as you reference them, it suddenly becomes this marker that highlights you a very odd color.

So with respect for all the work that goes into writing, directing, and acting out a truly great show, shout out to: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Boy Meets World, Scrubs, How I Met Your Mother, The Office, Community, and Dexter. I am positive that most shows have something, or many things, very valuable to share, but these shows have influenced me greatly. If I were to be truly blunt right now, these shows have had the same degree of influence on my character that my family and friends have.

I’m going to try to succinctly sum up the value of these shows in my life.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, (1990-1996): For all that this show was and is and will be (which is, easily, simply brilliance), I think it has shown me how to enjoy everything in life, to see the jokes and the ironies and the beauty even, and perhaps especially, when I’ve lost or am losing something or someone.

Boy Meets World, (1993-2000): This show so easily displayed the value of a group of friends who are decent people that it’s easy to miss it under something like the genius of Mr. Feeny. The show so believed in the power of connecting to someone with whom you resonate emotionally that it makes perfect sense to describe what Mr. Feeny was to the crew, above all else, in one word: friend.

Scrubs, (2001-2010): Somehow this comedy program seemed to be at its best when it was not funny but when it was dramatic and serious and brutally honest. I think, to be as concise as possible for such a great show, I’ve learned about the power and importance of inner thoughts, mental preparation, and honest-to-God reflection.

How I Met Your Mother, (2005-2014): In many ways, this show is very similar to Scrubs to me in that it was at its best when it wasn’t necessarily funny but when it was poignant and hopeful. It has shown me many ways we can have and experience love. More importantly, it has shown me, though naive as it may be, that patience isn’t always rewarded, but the reward can be pretty sublime. And that Puzzles is the perfect name for a bar.

The Office, (2005-2013): “There’s a lot beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?” Life is what you make it. One of the shows I’ve re-watched the most.

Community, (2009-2015): This show was good for many reasons, but I think the strongest among them was that it never seemed afraid to do what it wanted. And through all the straying and experimenting, it was resilient; it always came back to be a little weird and mostly honest and maybe too obscure. I think Abed said it best: “When you really know who you are and what you like about yourself, changing for other people isn’t such a big deal.” I live by that.

Dexter, (2006-2013): Aside from all the cool kills and amazing timing moments, I think this show has a lot to offer. It reinforced in me the idea that, “Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It helped me understand that I could, on some level, identify with a (fictional) serial killer. It helped me realize that sometimes all it takes to do good is to channel your bad appropriately. It showed me that smart and aware television characters exist. Other stuff, too. But I’m trying very hard not to just keep writing “cool kills, cool kills, cool kills” over and over.

Alright, I’ve finished. I don’t think this list is comprehensive. It consists of shows that have already concluded. If I need to add more shows, I’ll probably start a new list.

Thanks for reading!

On Relative Time

Peoples’ lives are like clocks in the way they are counted. We call everything up to halfway through as counting up and everything after as counting down. Time moves differently for a man in his 20s than it does for a man in his 50s. The weight of time bears down more heavily on the young man (this young man) because there is so much to do that the idea of wasted time chips away at the mind every day. But this does not mean the old man is not, too, carrying the weight of time. He’s had time to do what could be done, whether or not he’d done it. But now time forces itself into his thoughts and says, “I’ll be gone soon.” And this thought forces him to decide to either do more or reflect on what he hadn’t done. And this thought carries the weight of the world as the world carries its weight.

I wrote this two years ago, and I’m re-reading it now, and it’s so bad that it’s good but not very good at all. In my opinion. I’d recommend your best local therapist.

I talk about a new holiday

The new clicheé with Valentine’s Day is the notion that one “should show their love every day instead of just once a year.” And it is not that people are not doing this; admittedly, it is not daily but it is way more than once a year (anniversaries, birthdays, CHRISTMAS). However, the general consensus is that people are often so caught up in the ins and outs of daily life that acts of love seem to slip through the cracks, and it is only by the next Valentine’s Day that the differences are noticeable; things that change gradually never receive attention until there is nothing else to give it.

So why not help the general public? Establishing a second Valentine’s Day could be beneficial for the opinions surrounding the health of the institution of marriage. One of every two marriages ending in divorce is such a staggering statistic that trying to comprehend it in the scope of its occurrence in the United States is like trying to picture every single dollar bill one would receive if they were to win the lottery. (Not that damn Powerball. That would be ludicrous.)

Forcing people to tend to their relationships several months apart is not exactly micromanaging them, but it is a definitely a nice push in the direction of happiness, if we define happiness as dependent on a well-managed and well-tended relationship. What seems to go wrong for most marriages is that people lose that initial spark and subsequently lose all hope for their marriage or they get so jaded by their partners and their own lives that revisiting the foundation of their relationship ends up being like trying to live back at home with mom and dad at 45.* Allowing people to think about something important more often is key. I understand from personal experience that consistent reinforcement is the only way to develop a habit; heck, everyone knows that. The old (and possibly unfounded) saying is that it takes thirty days straight to make a habit. It is not thirty days, but twice a year at months a part seems like the next best alternative for the 120 million-ish married folks in the United States alone.

I am not saying this is absolutely necessary; hundreds (thousands? millions?) of couples everyday find ways to create joy in their lives. However, people are forgetful, or rather, they adapt so well that new things can sometimes lose their glow. Reminders without a snooze button have their way of convincing people to get off their asses and move.

So. The technical stuff. I suggest that this holiday be around the middle August. Maybe second Friday of August. It should be called something related to its purpose, like Nous Day (“We” Day). Obviously not a federal holiday. The representative colors for treats and stuff are red and goldenrod. Or maybe like some lavender and navy.

* I have absolutely no idea what marriage is like. I don’t think this was my worst guess, but it certainly wasn’t my best. This is my moderate-level guess.

I talk about bad writing

Bad writing may be just as valuable as good writing. Honestly, I do believe that it is just as crucial as good writing. I don’t know the proportions, though.

Actually, as I think about which of 51/49 or 60/40 or 75/25 is most appropriate, the idea that it doesn’t necessarily need to be constant is dawning on me. Maybe writing can actually be 75% bad writing at the beginning, at which point it hits 60, then 51, then 49, and so on. And then maybe writing peaks, and then it falls but not nearly at the rate that it rose, and surely it won’t ever fall as low as when it started, right? I can’t imagine a person writing for so long and somehow just becoming bad at writing (again).

Anyway, I started this post with the intention of saying that I want my writing to be bad right now. If it’s not, awesome. If it is, then I’m glad; I want to be a great writer, and the way most people improve, myself included, is by first being just garbage. I want to get my mistakes out there so I can learn from them more quickly.

I talk about a song on the Moana soundtrack

I think there’s a certain thrill in anticipation of listening to a song for the first time, expecting to like it, particularly when the song starts just the way that’s right for your ears and only gets better.

I have abundant expectations for Moana. A Polynesian princess? Hell yes! And for the soundtrack, Alessia Cara recorded How Far I’ll Go, which is pretty fitting considering the state of the popular music world right now. She has a unique voice in that the timbre is the appeal, not necessarily her sheer singing skill. She just sounds good. The song has clear EDM influences in its production, and the chord progression is very common in pop music. So it’s easy to like if you don’t completely abhor EDM music and its subtypes. My only complaint is that, though the key change is not unwelcome, it was not very well done; the transition could’ve been much smoother.

This kind of music, specifically the mood the chord progression creates, particularly in the context of a Disney film, make me excited to fall in love with another story.

On Sparks

“We were never in love, but oh, God, we could have been.”

You are the last to leave my room, though I tried to nonverbally the whole evening to ensure that this was not my intention. We stand and talk about nothing, but it all sounds so clear when you say it. I do not know why you are still here in my dorm room or why I do not know what I am feeling. I am usually so able to remain outside my consciousness and stay logical, but right now I understand only that our words are knocking on a door we are not allowed to open. What we are doing is not flirting; at least, it is not flirting in the form that I am so used to seeing.

You see, what we are doing is the ghostly, also intangible version of flirting; whatever normal flirting is, cut in half, minced, ground, and then grated through a cheese grater after the customer says “Enough” after 0.5 seconds. It is so light that I can barely see it is there. I have only the slightest hint of confirmation when you say you should shower so you step outside my room.
You are standing in the hallway when you bend down to tie your shoe. I bend down too because I plan on untying your shoe because I want you to smile at me. But as I crouch down, waiting eagerly, starting intently at that damn shoelace, I notice you look up, your face much closer to mine than I think either of us expect, and your eyes are wide and outshine any other feature on your face. You stare at me with a slight grin on your face. This is when I know. Bad timing though because this knowledge takes over me and I freeze. I do not know where to look so I stand.

I do not think moments like this happen every day. We had moments of sparks while we spoke of nothing in my room, but this was a flare, brighter than any spark and just as quick to evaporate. But flares can leave scars on the surface. That is what you have done.

I want to think that this was all coincidence and that my search for something remarkable is polluting my thoughts, but I have to believe this was a real moment of electricity.

I talk about water families

Family in the important sense of the word.

I have a very good friend whose family basically adopted me, but the thing is that even if I were never to have met them, they would be my family anyway.

My friend has always been my sister, and her brothers and sisters my brothers and sisters, but even though we did not meet until about a year and a half ago, people like them have been the world for decades.

I think that is the beautiful thing about family. They have been family all along.

On Nights

Nights without stars do not interest me.

The moon knows this and so once a month she shines beyond all the stars of the night.

It does not say much of me to dismiss a starless night, but it says less of the moon who thinks she must wait a month before shining her light wholly and brilliantly.

Though, I can say the moon is held highly because who else can brave the unending army of stars and appear to us even brighter than a universe?