I Got Me Some Horses, To Ride On… To Ride On…

So, you of course know my most recent obsession, Tori Amos. I almost feel like I’ve kind of missed the train here, because I’m discovering Tori here in 2010, after she’s released 11 albums, but I have honestly found that my favorites have been her earlier albums. I like many of the songs on her debut album, Little Earthquakes, which has a lot of dramatic songs on it, and dramatic songs are my favorite. I discovered Tori when I first heard a live performance of Precious Things, and I was under the impression that a lot of her material would be like this, but I was surprised that I really had to hunt for more precious things, as it were.

Precious Things appeals both to my love of dramatic songs, and it’s in my key. No, I don’t claim to have a monopoly over any key, nor do I want only to play songs in that key, nor do I want to continue making new songs in this key right now. As it happens, however, two of the songs I’ve written have been in this key, and various other favorites of mine from a few points in my life (Hollow Bastion, Hello) have been in this key. I’d tell you what key it is, except that I don’t know because I haven’t quite figured out how to tell what key something is in. I can look at a piece of music and see that F and C are sharp, but I can’t tell you what key that is. That’s the key in question, by the way. Any idea what key that is?

I feel my key-talking has become boring, and the last thing I want is to bore you, because this is what I am referring to in my mind as an “entertainment” blog post, and I’ll save the ranting for a personal one. I’ve been meaning to talk about the things I’ve bought recently! Oddly enough, some of them seem to tie together, as fate would have it.

So, I got to take a trip to the bookstore last week, and I shamelessly managed to bargain my way into getting two new books by claiming they were overdue Birthday presents. Don’t hate me because I’m resourceful. The first thing I got my hands on was Inuyasha. For those of you familiar with the anime that’s become popular in America, you may have seen the show, which has been running on Adult Swim for at least seven or eight years now.

I got Volume 1 of the BigViz editions, containing the first three volumes. Whose more menacing, the demon or the all-too-Japanese schoolgirl?

Inuyasha is a manga series by mangaka (that’s the Japanese word for a comic artist, add it to your ever-growing list of mental trivia you’ve possibly obtained here) Rumiko Takahashi, centering around a girl from modern-day finding herself transported to the Sengoku period of Japan (that would be the Warring States period. I’m not pretentious, I just enjoy that I actually have some knowledge on the subject, be it from Samurai Warriors and Wikipedia articles or not). She does not, as you might think, find herself permanently trapped there: she arrives by way of an ancient well housed in her family’s shrine-home, and can return to the present at any time by travelling back through the well, with certain conditions.

The girl, Kagome, meets a young man, part human, part dog-demon, named Inuyasha (which literally means Dog Demon). Though there are about a billion plot points in Inuyasha, and it’s hard to make out which is truly the central plotline thanks to a million sideplots, the central story revolves around Kagome’s quest to recover the fragments of a sacred jewel that gives infinite power to anyone who posesses it. Where did this jewel come from, you might ask? Well I can’t give away the whole plot of the first issue, then you won’t want to buy it and find out for yourself!

I probably only wanted Inuyasha for nostalgic reasons; my brother who’s about six or seven years older than myself moved in with us when I was about thirteen, and he introduced me to the series. Nontheless, it’s an entertaining read, if for no other reason than that it’s a visual read, there are pictures and visual action and I don’t have to imagine the action. Besides, I think reading from right to left is cool, that doesn’t make me a poser, it means I like things that are different. Right to left actually feels more natural to me anyway, probably because I’m left-handed. You know who else is left-handed? Imogen Heap. Haven’t heard about her from me in a while, have you?

That’s because I haven’t really been very interested in her lately. If I were to go and watch some of her video blogs, I’d probably enjoy them, but I think I enjoy Imogen Heap most when I combine her music with her personality; her music alone doesn’t really satisfy me. I’m not much of an electronic person, and I think that her work is inventive, but probably not exactly my style. I have bought just about everything she has available in the US iTunes store, though. I think she’s a very good pianist, but that’s just it: it’s the piano I love, and the piano shows up very little in Imogen Heap’s music (except perhaps for her first album). I’ve never heard a song from her as good as Hide and Seek, and I even burned myself out on that one after listening to it (and a lot of covers of it) often enough.

Hide and Seek still was an important song in my life though. I view the day I heard Hide and Seek as the day that my life started to change. It seemed to set everything in motion. I began to finally feel creative again, I felt raw and emotional, but also uplifted. Admittedly, I let my priorities get seriously rearranged, I dismissed my boyfriend and unfortunately drew back from him, but I came back, and he both was and still is there for me. We may have had our problems, everyone does, but he’s always shown me that he wants to be with me.

So, yes, Hide and Seek is an autobiographical song for me, not because it necessarily tells the story of my life or anything, but because it sparked something in me, it inspired me. And besides, it’s got a lot of great harmony.

Let’s get back on track, shall we? Otherwise I’ll never be able to find the right pictures to pepper in between the paragraphs and keep you reading. While Inuyasha didn’t necessarily tie in with my recent Tori Amos endeavors, the next book I tricked my mother into buying for me does.

I was browsing through the manga section, and I saw a huge book called “The Art of Vampire Hunter D.” It didn’t seem too interesting to me, but I picked up a copy of one of the Vampire Hunter D novels below it and immediately recognized the art style from the cover as Yoshitaka Amano.

An example of Amano's character design in the Final Fantasy series. I picked this one both because of it's colorful and flamboyant nature, and because everyone loves Vivi.

Yoshitaka Amano is the character designer for the Final Fantasy series; if you’re a Final Fantasy fan and you’ve ever seen any of the concept art, he’s the one who drew it. He has this very odd way of drawing characters, I believe they’re all in watercolor, and their skin is completely one hue, for instance characters with white skin literally have perfectly white skin in his illustrations.

I especially like the pretty cursive chapter titles.

So back to my story, I looked to see who was credited as the illustrator, and of course there he was, Yoshitaka Amano. I found the first novel in the series and was so intrigued by Amano’s cover art and the beautiful formatting of the cover as well as the book, that I decided I wanted it. I still have not read it, I have virtually no idea what it’s about except that vampires and werewolves are involved (and this time, let’s hope they’re respectable vampires. You know, the kind that burst into flame in sunlight, rather than sparkling). I still didn’t recognize the cover art of that Art of Vampire Hunter D book as the Amano I’m used to, but that’s probably because it was referring to the art of the anime and manga, not the novel illustrations.

I’ve also noticed that within the book art some illustrations, but they’re all in very hard to see black ink, like those packets of paper stapled together that your high school English teacher would photocopy from the workbook. It makes me wonder if perhaps there’s an edition of the book with full color illustrations, or at least one that can be easily seen. But perhaps they’re just drawn that way. I’d guess not, but I can’t say I’m sure either way.

This ties in to Tori-related activities because I learned today from visiting Neil Gaiman’s website that he and Amano are friends. But Jesse, how does that have to do with Tori Amos? Clearly, since she’s your current obsession, we want to hear all about her. Right you are, nonexistant fans. Neil Gaiman is an author, many of whom’s books have been made into films: Stardust, Coraline, Mirrormask. He’s also a close friend of Tori’s. See? It all ties together.

You may have read an earlier blog post where I mentioned that I got a copy of Tori’s third album, Boys For Pele. One of my favorite tracks on the album is Horses. The song grabbed me immediately, I was hooked from the moment it began, which is actually about a minute and fifty seconds into the first track, because it’s introduced by a song called Beauty Queen. I can’t say that I really know what Horses is about, or that I know what most Tori songs are about, or especially songs from Boys For Pele (which is considered to be her most poetically obscure album), but I know that I like it, and the pretty words all sound nice together. I hope I’m not making it seem as though I dislike the album, in fact I think I’m going through a Boys For Pele phase right now, the album is wonderful. I’ve been imagining myself performing the album in it’s entirety along with my nonexistant band (sometimes, in my fantasies, I have a band. They may be my touring band, or I may just be a part of the band myself) to a sold out secret show of both Toriphiles and my fans (many of whom are both).

But that’s fantasy. Here in reality, Boys For Pele has been around since 1996. I’ve often thought to myself that I don’t think I could musically survive if I’d been my age in the nineties, I like so much current music that I wasn’t so sure nineties music could do it for me, but since discovering Tori I think I would have been having a great time, especially since my favorite Tori albums so far are the first three: Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink, and Boys For Pele.

Didn’t I have a point I was trying to get to a few paragraphs ago, before I lost myself in lengthy asides? The albums first song, Horses, has a line in it:

“And if there is a way to find you, I will find you
But will you find me here,
When Neil makes me a tree?”

As it happens, Tori at one point lent Neil her house, in which he wrote the first chapter of his novel Stardust. She asked that in exchange, Neil make Tori into a tree in his book, and so there is a character of a tree in the novel who is directly based on Tori. Neat, huh? I so envy that conversation, I just see these two masterminds talking to one another, she asking to be made into a character in his novel, and when he asks what kind of character, Tori with a whimsical, yet devilish smile, saying “Oh Neil, I want to be a tree!”

Apparently these two often inspire and reference one another in their respective works. Tori has mentioned Neil’s name in several songs from various albums, written a song based on his Sandman character, and probably been inspired by Neil a million times. Neil, similarly, has written stories for the tour books of Boys For Pele and Scarlet’s Walk, a letter for the American Doll Posse tour book, and a poem for Tori’s daughter Tash, before she was born, called Blueberry Girl, which was turned into a children’s book by illustrator Charles Vess, who also illustrated several of Neil Gaiman’s works.

Only Tori would inspire cover art like that.

Neil also wrote the introduction for another Tori-related book, which I saw on the shelf across from manga in the same aisle, and lunged for, called Comic Book Tatoo. This book is a massive collection of comics inspired by Tori Amos songs. And when I say massive, I’m not referring simply to the amount of comics contained in the volume, but the sheer size of it. It’s gigantic. I believe it was between twenty and thirty dollars, which I found very reasonable considering the size of the book, which was so big that I had to sit on the floor to turn the pages.

And there you have it, today’s issue of me advertising things I find interesting. I’d like to think that this blog is educational on the subjects I enjoy, and that if you read it, you can take away knowledge on a particular artist that will serve you at least as a fun fact. This is how I operate. I find my artist, and I study. It’s surprising to me that though I’m not in school, I find myself educating myself on the things I’m interested in. And the funny thing is, the majority of my information comes from Wikipedia, which I think gets a really bad rep that it doesn’t deserve as being unreliable. Yes, anyone can edit the pages, but the pages are also moderated. Every change someone makes it catalogued, and “meticulously edited” or deleted altogether if proven to be untrue. There are also sources listed for a lot of the information, and just about nothing I’ve ever learned from Wikipedia has been disproven to me. If you don’t trust their information, it amounts to, at the very least, rumors. And rumors can have some truth to them. If nothing else, it’s a way to familiarize yourself with a topic, and if your information is incorrect, then let it be disproven and you can learn the truth, but sometimes, learning something is better than nothing.

Besides, in my case, information on artists and albums tends to be, from what I can tell, true for the most part. What reason would someone have to blatantly lie about something like, “This single was released in 1996, containing three B-sides from the album and one alternate mix of this track.” Perhaps a misinformed person could publish their misinformation, but I still don’t think it’s enough reason to avoid reading Wikipedia altogether. I find it funny that I never could quite figure out how properly to use library research tools, but I literally read Wikipedia for entertainment.

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself,and maybe learned a few things here. Have a great day, and remember that love is both divine and eternal. No one should should choose anything but love when given the oppurtunity. Let someone know that you love them, I certainly intend to, and I for one am infinitely grateful to have love in my life. Peace, confidence, and happiness to you.

 

The elusive glasses in question

Oh, one more thing! Earlier this year, I was kicking myself for not buying a pair of sunglasses from Hot Topic that were Lady Gaga replicas, because they weren’t on sale in Gaga’s online store or Hot Topic’s anymore, and were pretty much impossible to find anywhere on the internet. Ot at least I thought they were, upon further reflection I might not have been observant enough. I thought that since the lenses shown seemed to be tinted purple, they couldn’t be the same glasses. I might have either mistaken the lense color of the glasses I found, or I might not have factored in that sunglasses look different depending on how the light’s hitting them.

These are the mystery glasses, whose origins I can't quite ascertain.

(UPDATE! Turns out that the glasses in question, which she’s been seen wearing around town, are fact Vintage Versace #676, and only about ten pairs were made.  Damn, Lady Gaga has expensive tastes. Luckily, I’ll be getting a ten dollar plastic replica from Hot Topic, which as it turns out gets the point across for much less cost. Some people are saying that the glasses she wore in the videos for Just Dance and Bad Romance, are Pucci, hand made in France, model number 89850, and that they were given to her by British model of America’s Next Top Model judging fame, Twiggie. However, my own deduction on the matter is that the glasses from the Just Dance and Bad Romance videos are a different pair altogether, they have traits of both the Pucci’s and Versace’s, but they don’t seem to be either. My replica, however, is of Versace 676. There are currently a pair of animal-print replicas in Gaga’s official webstore, but I’d go for Hot Topic, they have black and white framed glasses, and the black-framed look more like the originals.)

At any rate, I ordered the sunglasses, along with a copy of the Telephone remix EP. Also, the Alejandro remix EP is available for pre-order now, and it’ll be released the 28th of June if I remember correctly.

Just PICK one Tori! We know you're a piano goddess, but that doesn't mean you can't play one at a time!

That reminds me, Tori has a new DVD coming out! It’s a Barnes and Noble exclusive available for pre-order now called Live From The Artists Den, featuring songs spanning her entire career, a twenty minute interview, and here’s my favorite part: a thirty-four page hardbound booklet in the packaging. I’m shivering with excitement at that bit of information. I know it’s going to be great, and as of right now you can pre-order it for twenty dollars, which I intend to do very soon. It’s going to be available July 13, 2010.

Bottoms up, Mama Griffin

Also available for pre-order is an autobiography by Kathy Griffin’s mother, Maggie Griffin, called Tip It! The World According To Maggie. And this is cute, the cover is a box of wine with Maggie and Kathy on it, next to a glass of wine, and if you know Kathy’s routine, you know that she’s made her mother famous with her bit about Maggie loving boxes of wine. Here’s another thing I think is cute: up at the top it says The Star of Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. Kathy always makes jokes about her mother being more famous than she is and she herself being the sidekick on her own show. Altogether, it looks like a cute read, and if you’re a fan of Kathy’s or have read her autobiography I’m sure this will be as appealing to you as it is to me.

I actually found a paperback copy of Kathy Griffin’s autobiography in the bookstore the other day, and I think it’s so silly how when a new book comes out, there’s always an extra chapter tacked on in the paperback release. This is frustrating because in the grand scheme of things, harback is suppossed to be superior to paperback, and more valuable, and now I have to sit here figeting because I want the harback because it’s so much more regal, but the paperback has more content that I won’t find in the harback! Of course, I see the marketing ploy here, but still, it’s annoying.

Well anyway, there’s my news for today. I’m heading off to the beach tomorrow with family, we’ll see how that goes, since I don’t like my family and don’t particularly want to spend five days in a hotel room with them, sleeping in a room with my mother and her boyfriend. I do have my own bed though, but I think I’m going to try and negotiate myself into a seperate room, or at least try and convince my mother to take the seperate room and let the kids share the larger room with two beds. Altogether, I’m looking forward to some quiet time for reflecting in front of the ocean; maybe I’ll bring the laptop out and do a blog, maybe some writing, describe the sound and atmosphere of the ocean. I’ll probably try and do some reading, and maybe a little drawing. But I’ve got to get packed because we’re leaving in the morning, and it’s almost 3:00 now and I still haven’t taken a shower, so I’m going to leave you with that. If nothing else, you can always say you get ideas of things to buy from me. Unless of course you’re not interested in anything I’m saying, in which case, I applaud you for hanging around for the last 3,296 words.

Goodnight everyone, or good morning, but have a great day nontheless!

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Katy Perry, You Should Be Ashamed of Yourself

I’ve just lost so much respect for Katy Perry.
 
And upon further review, I probably shouldn’t have had any respect for her in the first place.
 
Let me set the scene for you properly. Lady Gaga premiered her new video for Alejandro, the third single from The Fame Monster. The video is great, it’s about homosexuality, and it represents the struggles the gay community face in so many ways. It’s also about relationships, the admiration Gaga has for the gay community, and a representation of the religious intolerance that homosexuals face constantly.
Katy Perry, apparently, feels that the video is “blasphemy as entertainment.”

Really? Really, Katy Perry?

This coming from the woman whose first single, “Ur So Gay,” was about a metrosexual boyfriend who acted far too feminine for her taste, and whose second single, which solidified her as one of 2008’s top pop acts, I Kissed A Girl, is a peppy anthem about a little innocent pseudo-homosexual flirtation. Which, by the way, never actually happened. Katy Perry never did kiss that girl, she just wrote it about girls kissing girls. Katy Perry makes a career out of appearing to be a brainless pinup model, a modern day Betty Boop. In her more recent career, Katy Perry has appeared in songs with 3Oh!3, a bitchy psuedo-hip hop group, Timbaland, and in her recent single California Gurls, Snoop Dog.

Maybe if I make this porn star face, they'll buy my music!

I haven’t seen the video for California Gurls (ahh, misspelling on purpose, that really shows off that intelligence with which you weigh in on a deeply symbolic music video from a true icon), but I’m told it involves Katy shooting whipped cream from her nipples. And then of course, the whole song is filled with boring, uninspired lyrics about slutty California party girls who want to “melt your popsicle.”

Katy Perry is also engaged to Russell Brand, a pretty foul-mouthed comedian, with whom she posts lots of fart jokes on her twitter. And THIS is the woman who is going to call Gaga’s new video “blasphemy?”

Seriously!?

Look Katy, someone's using sex to EXPRESS A MESSAGE!

If you haven’t seen the video for Alejandro, go watch it. It’s not particularly my favorite Lady Gaga song, but the video is well done, and it’s full of religious and social symbolism. Katy Perry is a run-of-the-mill pop artist whose career may last a couple more years at most (obviously it isn’t doing too well now, she’s been whoring herself out for guest appearances and collaborations with anyone who she thinks might be the next big thing), whereas Lady Gaga is truly a pop genius, and truly an icon.

"Oh dear, look at this surprised expression on my face! I'm too dumb and brainless to do anything other than ride a giant girly tube of chapstick, I'm just a woman after all, tee hee!"

Where Katy Perry represents the negative steretypical view of women being brainless, air-headed, and size-zero thin, Gaga fights stereotypes, she represents the beauty of androgeny, she embraces the human spirit, showcases the good elements of humanity and represents the evil of religion. Where Katy Perry releases bland songs with all-too-expected pop lyrics about sex and money with no real underlying message, Gaga makes music that’s about something, Gaga writes about her love for her fans and her hatred of fame and money. Where Katy Perry parades around on stage in a tiny bikini singing at the top of her lungs (horribly, I might add) surrounded by giant blowup tubes of lipstick, Gaga creates a true art presentation and both tackles her own personal fears and tells her fans how much she loves them every chance she can.

Are they jacking off to my picture yet? This will sell records for sure!

 Where Katy Perry is obviously terribly indoctrinated (go and look up her first album, a Christian Rock album under her real name, Katy Hudson), Lady Gaga fights stereotypes, breaks boundaries, and celebrates the freedoms of expression and love that all human beings are entitled to. Where Katy Perry goes with whatever pop trend she thinks will get a quick listen from people, Lady Gaga fights convention and presents music and performances that are far beyond her time. Where Katy Perry makes music for the dull, brainless masses, Lady Gaga makes music specifically for her fans.

Where Katy Perry releases one album and then goes on a two year hiatus, Lady Gaga released her first album and had written her second within a year, and after the release of her second album completely wrote and recorded her third within 7 months. Where Katy Perry goes off the grid after releasing one CD, Lady Gaga has been touring nonstop since her career began, beginning the Monster Ball once the Fame Ball was over, and adding over a year of tour dates. Where Katy Perry wears and does whatever pop culture might like to see, Gaga and her team invent the video glasses, the disco stick, the sparking bra. Where Katy Perry behaves like a media whore, writhing and flirtatious, Lady Gaga rarely ever wears pants and still shows class at all times. Katy Perry is a questionably talented, brainless pinup girl, and Lady Gaga is a true lady, with dignity, class, and vision.

In short, Katy Perry is not fit to lick Lady Gaga’s gorgeous fashionable boots. She has no right to criticize a video that is so obviously about the struggle of the people who made her famous! I wonder how many striaght men there are who are massive fans of Katy Perry. Now let’s see how many gay men support her. Face it: gay people make pop culture. All the true greats have always been gay icons. I’d watch how I talk about the people who put food on my table, Katy Perry.

Someone's completely naked for a REASON! It's almost as if she's expressing something! But of course, women are too brainless to have opinions to express, right Katy?

Lady Gaga is brave enough to challenge the religious organization and defend not just one group of people but all of those who love her and who support her. The devotion of her fans is a blessing to Lady Gaga that she would never give up, and that she counts herself blessed to have. Katy Perry presents herself as a ditsy, brainless, female stereotype, and apparently now an oppresive religious mouthpiece.

It’s just really ironic and stupid that she would have anything negative to say about someone who’s far better in every way than she is. And one more thing: declining intolerance for freedom and self-respect is not blasphemy. As usual, another indoctrinated tool of the Christian organization rejects self-expression to keep the power of their organization intact, so that they continue manipulating the masses.

Katy Perry is just solidifying Gaga’s point: there is no religion that doesn’t condemn some group of people.

Feminism

I was just watching an interview with Lady Gaga, in which she said that she’s a feminist. She talked about the ways that women are perceived, and how she rejects it, she talked about the beauty of women, she championed them. Similarly, Tori Amos talks about the special experience of being a woman, the magic and the beauty of it. Most of the artists I enjoy champion women. I don’t know why, I can’t explain it, but it just makes me feel…hurt. These people who I’ve invested so much time and energy into, they’re not necessarily anti-male, but I feel left out. I feel like I can’t understand their message because it’s that women should be uplifted, but men are either spoken of as the enemy, spoken of as neutral, or not spoken of at all. There is no one who says that we should all be human, that we should embrace who we are as human beings, not as male or female. There’s no one who advocated “humanism,” it’s just becoming anti-male.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to appreciate women, or to see their beauty. And I’m not here to rant or berate anyone. I just feel hurt. I see Lady Gaga talking about the beauty of women, and the perception of women, and I hear a completely one-sided thing. It makes me, as a fan, feel left out, feel rejected by her. And I know that’s exactly the opposite of what Lady Gaga wants, of what her message is. She wants only to spread love and peace. I don’t know why, but I’m near the point of tears because of this exclusion of the male and championing of the female. Men have for generations treated women badly, but does that mean that all men now are the same men that deprived women of their rights for hundreds of years? Can there be no hope for men?

Why can there not be someone who embraces what it is to be male, who doesn’t stereotype us as pigs or sex-addicts, why is there not one fucking person who says, “Look at me, I’m a man. This is much more than what society says it is to be a man. I have layers, I have emotions, I’m beautiful.” The way society paints men is just as wrong as the way it paints women. I understand that there’s a stigma, because women have had to claw and bite their way through the film of cheauvanism to have equal rights, but why does it have to be one side or another? Why can there not be humanism? Why does it have to be feminism or masculism? Why does it have to be all or nothing? This is practically war! Why can we not say, “Hold on. Let’s not look at JUST the feminine or JUST the masculine, let’s look at them together. They were made to be together, let’s look at them that way.” There is feminine and masculine in everyone, and they are meant to be together in that sense. Obviously, since I’m gay, and intelligent, I’m not going to go spreading some stereotypical Christian bullshit.

I just feel hurt. I feel somehow abused, and somehow betrayed. I know that Gaga doesn’t mean it that way, and I don’t fault her for that. I just feel like I’m left out, because I’m male. I feel like there’s no voice saying, “Not only is the social concept of the feminine wrong, but the social concept of the masculine is wrong too. Men are beautiful creatures, and they’re not at all the way society paints them to be. They’re not uncouth and reckless, they’re not warlike and unintelligent, men are just as beautiful as women. We are EQUAL. TRULY equal. There is no feminism or masculism, but humanism. Embracing ALL people.”

Just because one group was oppressed doesn’t mean they should now become the oppressors, or the cycle will repeat. It’s not fair for anyone to have dominance, everything needs to be equal. People need to behave with maturity, love, and compassion.

I can’t explain it, I just feel hurt.

Father Lucifer, You Never Looked So Sane

Hi everyone! I haven’t done a blog in a while of just me being personal and talking about my life, and this blog should be personal! Some day, someone’s going to enjoy reading it, I’m sure… So! I’m feeling very calm tonight, which is a good thing, because my life has been somewhat hectic over the last couple of weeks, due to what I shall only refer to as “family issues” in the interest of being vague enough not to name names. But for the moment, things seem to be pretty calm. I didn’t have to work today, which actually isn’t a good thing, but because I am lazy, I enjoy having off days; even though most of my days are off days since my job isn’t an official one. I did make a decent amount of money, or at least decent in comparison to what I usually make working for my mother.

I’ve bought two new CDs, and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this on here yet but I pretty much put a stop to my CD horading habit (or at least cut down the current hoard), and I did it in stages. First, I took my entire collection, which consisted of CDs I’d bought bought in store, online, and secondhand, and seperated what I felt was essential to keep from what wasn’t. The fact is, I had (I technically still have them, but I’d like to find some way to get rid of a lot of them, preferably at some profit) at least 50 CDs, and I only really enjoyed about 10. I mentioned that I did this in stages, and not because I decided to do it that way, but because this was an unhealthy collecting habit that wasn’t really doing me much good and I was slowly breaking away from it without really realizing it. First, I took from the collection nearly all the CDs I’d bought “secondhand,” i.e. from the thrift store/”yard sale” place. Then I removed from the collection the CD singles, which consisted of 4 Lady Gaga singles and remix EPs, Paramore’s CD single for Ignorance, and Glee’s CD single for Don’t Stop Beleivin’. Then I laid out all of the remaining albums and decided which ones I really liked, and which ones I didn’t. That eventually became me deciding on CDs from four or five bands that I wanted to keep, and pretty much no others. Ultimately, the My Chemical Romance, Paramore, Imogen Heap, and Evanescnence albums stayed, the Fall Out Boy albums stayed (with the possible exception of their Greatest Hits collection, which I don’t particularly like), my new Tori Amos Collection, Tales of a Librarian stayed, and there are a few that are on shakey ground and may or may not remain: albums from Frou Frou, The Hush Sound, Adele, Kelly Clarkson, Madonna, The Used, Relient K, and the Nightmare Revisited compilation. I also decided to put Lady Gaga’s The Fame away as a keepsake rather than display it: the “Lady Gaga” period of 2009 lasted from about May to December, and during this time I spent much of my life obsessing over Lady Gaga, being numb and uncreative, confused, and without much faith or hope. I didn’t realize how bad off I was then, but I know now how bad it was. However, because I do enjoy the memories attached to the time at which I first bought the album (near my birthday), I decided to keep it as a keepsake, but upon writing this, I think getting rid of it might still be a good idea. I kept The Fame Monster, it’s a nice album and it conveniently contains the contents of The Fame on disc 2, so I get to have my cake (no more The Fame on the shelf), and eat it too (the music is still there, but packaged in such a way that it doesn’t illicit bad memories).

I will only touch on this briefly, mostly because this area of life scares me: it seems that a lot of musicians have been coming under scrutiny lately for including perceived symbolism in their music, music videos, dances, etc. These people are talked about as being “Illuminati puppets.” I don’t really want to know much about this, because religion scares me, and the symbolism associated with this topic has to do with religion. I did read an article describing Gaga’s perceived symbolism, and though I found some of it to be legitimate observation and some of it a bit farfetched, I think it’s possible that the “symbolism” used in Lady Gaga’s music and music videos is just her own form of art; i.e. it’s symbolic of things that pertain only to her, or the themes and contents of her music videos are things that have special meaning to her personally or represent whatever she wants to represent. For instance, if you wanted to pick out all of the things in one of her music videos that seemed “random” or “unusual,” you could probably attach any kind of symbolism to it, after all, just about everything has been used as a religious or ritualistic symbol at some point. The only thing about the article that really stood out to me, and is the reason why I include it now, is that it said that the central theme of her music seems to be mind control. Her name, themes, images, lyrics, videos and music being things that represent numbness, hypnosis, empty-headedness, and mind control.

I just mentioned the “Lady Gaga phase” of last year, and honeslty, those were the things that I felt. I felt that there was something drawing me to her, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I felt that there was something unique about her, but I had no idea what it was. Everything about her was vague and shapeless, and I felt numb, hypnotised, and possessed by her. I didn’t just invent those feelings after reading that article, it’s almost an exact description of the way I handled her music. I still don’t know what it is about Gaga that seems to sometimes draw me to her: are her performances based on shock value? Do they have some deeper meaning? If they art artistic, then they probably only have meaning to her, and while that is still definitely art, there’s something about her that is inaccessible. She’s a conundrum. For about 7 months, I listened to one album constantly, an album in which I only really enjoyed one, maybe two songs. But all that I could do was watch Lady Gaga performances, play Lady Gaga songs, and through it all I felt completely devoid of inspiration and creativity. She seems to do her best to be creative, but the effect it had on me wasn’t that it made me more creative, it sucked every bit of creativity right out of me. I think 2009 would have been a much better year if I hadn’t been so hooked on The Fame.

Of course, I would not go so far as to say that The Fame actually is actually mind controlling, or Lady Gaga, nor would I say that I could blame my own personal shortcomings on a pop star I don’t know, or say that my life was so profoundly affected in a bad way by an album I chose to listen to, when no one was forcing me to. I like to keep an open mind, and consider things. If you think you hear me make judgement on someone, I’m most likely expressing something I feel could be a possibility. While conspiracy theories are silly, this conspiracy theory just happened to mention mind-controlled hypnotic numbness and lack of feeling, which is exactly the way I felt for 7 months, and about which I’d never felt because of any other musician in my life.

Of course, I do have a tendency to be obsessive. It’s in my nature, and it’s a part of who I am. I move from musician to musician, video game to video game, television show to television show, obsessing over them as I go along, allowing them to become a cornerstone in my life and direct my attention. Perhaps each of those obsessions to some degree gives the obsessor a level of detached numbness, as I’ve experienced plenty of times before, but perhaps with Lady Gaga, the sheer lunacy of it all, or some key ingredient in the formula of her music and performance sucked the emotion right out of me. I don’t know, and all of this sounds very strange and abstract, I don’t want to act as though I could blame a bad period in my life on something I chose to do, but I know that Gaga-obsessed part of my life was a really bad one.

And that’s that. Moving on.

I did finally break down and download some Tori Amos albums: Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink in their entirety (I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I’ve been kicking myself for not buying Under the Pink when I found not one, but two perfect condition copies of the album in the thrift store, along with a copy of the Crucify EP). Tales of a Librarian was actually a really bad place for me to start, for me personally the album is random and puts the songs together in a way that I think makes all of them less appealing. Great songs like Way Down and Mr. Zebra are completely out of place here, and honestly, all of the songs are out of place. They belong on their respective albums, and I don’t think they blend together well here at all. Furthermore, though the songs are remastered on the album, they seem to be very badly remastered. For instance, Cornflake Girl sounds a lot better on Under the Pink. The general quality and volume of the song may be lower than the remastered version, but in the remastered Tales of a Librarian version, the layers all seem to be out of place: the lyrics of the bridge are almost impossible to understand because the background vocals are overpowering the main bridge vocals; from the very beginning of the song, the music doesn’t seem to flow nearly as well as the original version, something about the way the layers were all perfectly where they needed to be is ruined in the remastered version. The weird random tracklisting combined with the bad remastering just ruins this album, which on the surface is beautifully formatted and wonderfully packaged. Cornflake Girl is the best example of bad remastering, or at least remastering that isn’t completely true to the original; I’m not sure if the other songs are that bad, but this leads me to believe that listening to originals rather than remastered versions of songs is probably a better way to go. It seems like the songs that are presented on the iTunes digital albums are remastered versions as well, even on the older albums, for instance I downlaoded the Crucify EP, and the version of Smells Like Teen Spirit I have sounds like lower quality than the one on iTunes. This could be that I downloaded a lower quality version, often with downlaoded songs the quality is greatly diminished or destroyed, but nontheless iTunes could be changing the songs when they’re added to a musicians catalogue.

I wonder if I sound to you as cryptic and confusing as I do in my head right now, writing this.

That Illuminati Lady Gaga explenation really makes all of her randomness make sense, doesn’t it? At least it gives it all some meaning, something tangible you can put your finger on. Then at least it presents a clear message, something you can grasp, rather than a vague, blurry, formless shape. And even if she was using all of this supposed symbolism, so what? It’s not like it would make her music suddenly “evil” or anything. As an open-minded person, and especially as a person who’s so dissapointed with the actions and opinions of the Christian church as a whole, I shouldn’t be approaching this from a standpoint of fear, or judgement; and honestly, I don’t want much to do with any other religions either. I want to have my own personal relationship with God, and leave it at that. I don’t want to preach any gospels or try and convert people, I don’t want to join a church or really even go to a church, because other people can’t tell me what my own personal relationship with anyone, much less my supreme omniscient God is going to be like. Really, the whole idea of church is ridiculous. What is “fellowship”? What can a preacher really “teach” you? They’re just giving you their own interpretation of the Bible, or someone elses interpretation. And the Bible itself is just an interpretation, it was written by people, people who are capable of human error.

Besides, the modern Bible is apparently just a selection of books put together by the Catholic church a long time ago, consisting of the books they felt were the best to show people, and we’ve seen how manipulative they can be, so why would modern day Christians put their trust in something handed down from the Catholics? Especially since from what I understand, the people who came to America seeking freedom of religion were attempting to escape from the Church of England, which was just a copy of the Catholic church without the pope. I realize that a lot of my facts could be wrong here, but if they’re correct, I think my questions still stand.

The mind-control thing just stuck with me because feeling the way I felt back during my “Lady Gaga phase” is something I’m kind of afraid of and wouldn’t want to repeat. But now I know that if I just stay focused on who and what is really important my life, I’ll be fine.

So, there you have it, some of my thoughts. I’m getting tired, and when I get tired things start to become a lot less coherent, so I think I should be going now. Goodnight everyone, have a blessed etc. etc.