Apr 20

Contemplating the Nihil

Saturday evening, 10 pm. Due to a bad bipolar day I’ve done exactly jack shit today. As of this writing I’m eating my first meal of the day: chicken nuggets with ranch.

In other words, I have …

“Stupid! You so stupid!”

As I suggested last weekend, I’m seriously considering making SB a strictly Monday through Friday venture. Today, well … today I gave myself a swift kick in the ass in that direction. Another craptacular post like this will seal the deal.

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I’m just about to this level of futility myself
Image credit:
The Trentonian

Perhaps it’s time to watch Weird Al Yankovic’s masterpiece UHF again. I just need to forget Victoria Jackson is in it.

Apr 08

Resetting the Circadian Rhythm

For years my sleep schedule has been off. Every few months or so, it gets so FUBAR I find it difficult to function during daylight hours in any capacity. I’ve found the best remedy for this is to stay up all night and as much as possible the next day, completing tasks as I go. When I was in college I occasionally extended these “reset” sessions to 60 hours, but I can’t do that anymore.

Well, the time has come to make it happen. Again. My agenda before any thought of sleep is as follows:

– Take care of the daily SB post. If you’re reading this, check.
– Stay up until at least 11 am.
– Call the paramedics and answer their questions about my head injury.
– Pick up a prescription and get some stuff at the supermarket.

That’s it. It may not sound like much, and frankly it isn’t. But when you’re bipolar and on the down side like I am right now, it’s a busy day. I don’t want to let any of this go until Tuesday, y’all. If I let myself sleep until 5 pm again, it probably will.

With that in mind, here’s the timeline of the previous night … and the day. Yup, this entry is going to be even more stream of consciousness than usual.

12:52 am

Caffeine plays a major role in these resets. I have some Cherry Coke, but soda doesn’t really do the job. Nope, this calls for a hot caffeinated drink, and lots of it. My caffeine of choice for a situation like this is Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend coffee.

Unfortunately, I’m out of Peet’s. The only coffee I have in the Command Center at the moment is a contemptuously cheap, obnoxiously bitter store brand “100% Colombian” blend I unwisely bought a couple years ago. Juan Valdez’s goat wouldn’t touch this stuff.

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And it’s seriously expired too. Score.

Well, I guess I’d better try tea. I know I have some of that around here somewhere ….

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Dammit.

Next attempt, an unopened box of Fred Meyer Tea Bags. The date stamp was very faint, too faint to photograph. I think it said … “BESTBY AUG2606.” Holy shit, I haven’t even been on my own that long. That’s bad even by my standards.

One more shot: the Red Rose Earl Grey.

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Qapla’!

A truly embarrassing trip to Jackson’s avoided, I press on.

2:27 am

On my third cup of Earl Grey, I began playing Civilization IV: Warlords, which is a great way to kill a few hours. With my Pandora app up, it’s time for some empire-building. Yes, I’m well aware there’s a Civilization V and has been for several years. I’m not much of a gamer.

7:24 am

Wow, that worked better than I expected. These Civ IV games eat up time, but rarely last five freakin’ hours. I won. Then again, I always play on the easiest setting because I’m a wanker like that. Ha ha.

Mao

Chairman Mao thought he could take me on. He was very sorely mistaken.

Time to change the Pandora station. The likes of Yes, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd – as much as I dig them – are getting old. Some Erasure perhaps? Nah, too poppy for my current state of mind. Gabriel & Dresden it is.

7:39 am

Contact lenses aren’t meant to be worn for this long, at least as not as far as I’m concerned. Switched to glasses. Also changed underwear. I’m not incontinent or anything; it’s just those damn chafing waistbands ….

8:29 am

The paramedic office has been contacted. I’m glad that’s out of the way.

10:02 am

I’d say I’m about seven cups of tea into things at this point. I started coming down with a headache and a sore throat, so I took some ibuprofen to knock that out. It seems to be working. In the meantime I verified this site with Google, Bing, Pinterest and Alexa. I really don’t get the appeal of Pinterest, but whatever.

10:36 am

Went downstairs to check the mail and take out the trash. I figured this would be a good time to see if there was anything else expired in the kitchen. Turns out there was. To wit, cappuccino mix, microwave popcorn, rice, Pasta Roni, a loaf of bread, horseradish, three cans of soup, two bottles of pancake syrup, mini ravioli, peas, olive oil, garlic pepper, Italian herb seasoning … and a can of spicy Indian poppadum chips. Yeah, buddy.

Saltmill

Apparently salt doesn’t go bad. That’s probably just as well.

11:40 am

Just read Margaret Thatcher died. In recognition I’ve been watching old Spitting Image clips.

Why can’t they import this concept from the UK instead of crap like American Idol?

1:07 pm

The day’s stated agenda is complete. As an added bonus I changed the cat box and did the dishes. My supply of Peet’s is replenished, so I can dispense with the Jean-Luc Picard schtick.

Although it’s rather crisp outside, for the first time this year I saw noticeable leaves on the neighborhood deciduous trees. The HOA also had the sprinklers going. That was a nice way to end things for the day. I’m going to try to stay up a few more hours, but I daresay mission accomplished.

I just hope I don’t have to do this again for awhile.

Mar 21

Riding the Thunder Broom

I recently bought a bass guitar. I figured at this point in my life it would be a good idea for me to take up a new hobby or two. Beachy also wants me to be a “rock star” when I grow up. She approves of this purchase.

Music is not an entirely new thing to me. Dad was a guitarist in a few local bands in the 60s. I took piano lessons when I was in elementary school, although my passion for that was halfhearted at best. Most of my friends in high school were band geeks.

Strongly influenced by said band geeks, I acquainted myself with the works of Mike Watt, Geddy Lee, Les Claypool and others as a teenager. I’ve been interested in taking up bass for a good 20 years. Bass should be a good instrument for me. I fancy myself loud and low, and I think in terms of single notes rather than chords.

There were two main obstacles to that though. First, I’m left-handed. VERY left-handed. Dad tried to teach me guitar on a standard right-handed model, but I just wasn’t picking it up. Everything seemed upside down to me. What’s more, locating an affordable left-handed instrument in the pre-World Wide Web days was about as easy as picking up a bottle of Bacardi 151 in Riyadh. It just wasn’t happening.

The second obstacle – and probably the more important one – was my strong tendency to set the bar unrealistically high for myself when undertaking any new endeavor. If I wasn’t able to be a virtuoso in a relatively short period of time, it wasn’t worth it to me.

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And when I say “set the bar high,” I’m not dicking around here.

I’m a perfectionist by nature. It wasn’t until quite recently that I became somewhat comfortable with the concept of not having to be a world-beater in absolutely everything I did. Having your ass handed to you by bipolar type II will do that to you. That and the miracle of e-commerce finally convinced me to take the next step.

So despite being 39, well past the age many people take up these sorts of things, over Christmas I found a left-handed bass online and had it shipped to the local Guitar Center. Of course, not wanting to drop a ton of money on something I wasn’t entirely sure I’d take up in the long term, I went for – shall we say – a low-end model. It’s made by an outfit called Main Street Guitar Company.

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The Chinese call it quality!

Over the next couple months I picked up other necessary items, such as an amp, a cord, a shoulder strap and a gig bag. I’m ready to RAWK!

Well, I would be if I had anything resembling dedication. Everyone tells me, “Man, you need to practice every day or you lose your touch.” I have no reason to disagree with that. However, I play maybe twice a week at the moment. Never mind CORRECT notes. At this point I’m happy with CLEAN notes which don’t sound like hitting a metal coil with a sledgehammer.

I can play the bass line from “Once in a Lifetime” fairly well, but that’s about it right now.

A couple days ago I compared learning the bass to learning to type. Honestly I don’t know how valid that comparison is, but as a writer it seems logical to me. Music theory as traditionally presented has never been one of my strengths. I get the basic concept of such things as notation and time signatures, but I’ve always found anything but the simplest sheet music absolutely confounding.

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Yeah, this does nothing for me.
Image credit: Hyacinth

It seems to me it would be easier to think of notes as “letters” and bass lines as “words.” One needs to learn where the various notes are on the bass. After that it’s a relatively simple matter of constructing the line in much the same way one types a word on a keyboard. I understand this theory doesn’t take into account important things like tempo. I tend to view that as something one picks up innately.

Perhaps I’m over-thinking this and trying to unnecessarily re-invent the wheel. That’s another thing I’m notorious for.

Mar 14

The Indifference Strikes Back

“A blog entry every day, no matter what.” I swear sometimes I’m such a bitch to myself.

“And make it funny, dammit!” Yeah, yeah, yeah …. This is easier said than done when one is battling bipolar depression, insomnia and cats who want to sit on one’s face at three in the morning.

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Yes, I’m looking at you, Sneferu.

Today I’ve been thinking about the benefits of carbonite as depicted in the Star Wars series. For the benefit of the three of you who have never heard of Star Wars, it’s a series of science fiction films involving good guys, bad guys, terrible laser gun shooting, something called the Force, curious swordplay, and of course explosions and shit. As a four-year-old I declined an invitation to see the first (fourth?) movie when it first came out in 1977. I thought it sounded stupid.

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A good cereal notwithstanding, C-3PO needed to be slapped, repeatedly.

Anyway, carbonite. According to the august, authoritative Star Wars database Wookieepedia, carbonite “was a metal alloy that was made from carbon. It was mixed with tibanna gas, compressed, and flash-frozen into blocks for transport.” In addition to its industrial uses and thanks to several convenient leaps of logic, carbonite was an ideal medium for placing people, and presumably other living things, into a state of indefinite suspended animation. Han Solo was placed in carbonite towards the end of The Empire Strikes Back.

Too bad it’s not real. Given my chronic sleep issues I’d love to place myself into suspended animation from time to time. Today being a perfect example. At least as far as my experience is concerned, depression isn’t a constant state of sadness as much as it is a constant state of “fuck it.” Of course, if it were real I’d probably have to pay royalties to Disney, as they own Star Wars now.

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Behold your corporate overlords.

Personally I’m more of a Star Trek fan. The technology featured in that franchise strikes me as much more practical overall. I’d love to see a real-world transporter in action. Space travel wouldn’t be necessary to appreciate its benefits; you could just as easily use it for those nasty commutes.

startrek transport

“I’m going to Albania for the afternoon. See you at 5.”
Image credit: tkksummers

Of course, the airline industry lobby would delay transporter technology for years.

All right, so I’m in the 400-word range with this. Good enough for me. I’m going back to bed now.

Mar 05

The Muse is a Bitch

Much like yesterday, there are days when shit bloody nothing happens here at the Command Center. I can only watch the Pyramid Brothers lick their asses for so long. Yet I have a commitment to write every day. That’s a big reason why I do this. I’m finally feeling better after a long illness, and I’ll be damned if inactivity is going to pull me down again.

So I can relate to the guys who create, or rather created, Homestar Runner.

homestar

You know, this guy.

The Brothers Chaps, who envisioned the aforementioned character, were incredibly productive for a very long time. Check out the Strong Bad e-mails for verification. They were working with Adobe Flash and and such happy horseshit too. You know, words AND images. They did it every week for years. I just steal images from Wikipedia and write snarky comments about them.

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… is nobody’s baby.
If you get the reference, especially if you’re a single female, I love you.

Anyway, the point is after about eight years or so the entire Homestar Runner site stopped providing new content. Just freakin’ stopped. The last update there was well over two years ago. I don’t mean to denigrate them in the slightest. They had a hell of a run few of us will ever duplicate. Shit, I haven’t even made it a month here and I’m already feeling that heat.

Hell, History Wednesday is tomorrow. I know what I want to write about, but I don’t even have a draft yet.

Back in the dark ages of Milli Vanilli I was a cross country runner. It was said during practice that after a few runs your quality would drop off sharply, only to progressively get better as time progressed. That was with continued practice, of course. I happen to believe that’s true. My experience with writing strongly suggests the same rules apply.

I hope the Brothers Chaps aren’t done. I hope I have plenty left in the tank myself. I can only get away with bullshit like this for so long ….

Mar 04

A Tale of Two Wesleys

In 2002 when I lived in Las Vegas I had a chance to see Wesley Willis. At the time I figured, meh, I could see him later. Well, I was mistaken. Willis died suddenly at age 40 in August 2003.

If you’re not familiar with Wesley Willis, you should be. He was a Chicago-based proprietor of awesome. Willis was responsible for some of the most inspired stream of consciousness observations of all time. He imparted them with the help of a cheesy keyboard too. He wasn’t a musician as much as he was a modern-day Muse. Sheer freakin’ genius.

NSFW, but still bloody brilliant.

By coincidence my first name is Wesley too. I’ve just gone by my middle name, Lane, my whole life.

Wesley Willis was schizophrenic. That was common knowledge among his fanbase. Indeed, some have accused his handlers of exploiting him as a result.

You know what? I call bullshit. I just happen to be severely bipolar. Nevertheless, I’m a published author, a former candidate for Congress and – if I may be so bold – a damn good writer in spite of it all. Indeed, perhaps BECAUSE of it all. I’m also a member of Mensa (albeit one who hasn’t paid dues recently). I use this blog to express my stream of consciousness in much the same way Willis did with his music. SB in many ways is my therapy.

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Being a bit off seems to be a prerequisite for good art.

By the way, as much as I respect Willis I don’t like being called Wesley myself. Please call me Lane, or at least something else. It’s all much appreciated.

Rock over Boise. Rock on Chicago. Franz, the good bread!™