Friday, December 31, 2010

The Plunge Into Grunge

So..the new year dawns!! That means I need to moving I guess and I'm excited to do so! Many thanks to every single one of you who has read, commented or supported me in this project..I hope to make it a fun, rewarding ride for you and me both.
  Now, lets get down to business...for the month of January my musical focus is going to be the band Nirvana. The choice to tackle them first, and in some ways the idea for this whole project, started with a conversation I had with my wife a few motnhs back. Kurt Cobain and his death came up in conversation some how and I was astounded when she told me that it had a profound effect on her college campus. People stayed home from class, bars were full and people were really, truly mourning the loss. I remember hearing about it but my thoughts ran more along the line of "Aww, another poor little rock star junkie couldn't handle the pressure of being rich and famous..maybe the douche bag needed a hug". Yeah I was an asshole, get over it. I had no idea that other members of peer group were actually mourning. So after that conversation with Mandy I asked around and yeah..alot of people were genuinely upset and a few I talked with even went so far as to compare the impact of his death to that of Elvis Presley. Granted, taking a shotgun to yourself out of melancholy defiance is a tad  bit cooler then croaking on the can with a belly full of qualudes and a half of a peanut butter and bacon sandwich clutched in your cold , dead fingers but still...this is the King of Rock and Roll he's being compared to here! So I asked around even more and people whose opinion's on music I respect very much had nothing but glowing reverence for the man and his music. Again and again I kept hearing how Cobain was the voice of his generation, that he represented the disenfranchised youth and was the spokes person for Generation X. It wasn't bad enough that his death was compared to Elvis in terms of tragicness but all of a sudden I start to get that the last time an artist stood up to represent the ideals of the worlds youth it was John Lennon. Really? Elvis AND John freaking Lennon? How did I miss this musical renaissance? And what exactly did it entail? That my friends is my mission for the next month..I'm gonna sink into Nirvana and see where it leads me.
I probably won't do this with all my monthly choices but in this case there is clearly ma beginning, middle and end to Cobain's career so I'm going to listen to and report on each of their three primary albums one at a time in order of release in the next week or so and then add in all the xtras, B sides, unplugged etc to help round out the bigger picture.
So next time; Bleach!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Project 2011; The Musical Mystery Tour

Ok, the time has come. Just what the hell do I have in store for 2011? Well, there are some people who have music in thier viens. You know who I'm talking about. They can learn a songs lyrics the first time they hear it, thier feet are always tapping to a mysterious personal beat and it's quite possible a theme song is playing in the back ground of thier brains at all times. not one of those people. I like music and listen to a little every day but it's not the medium I use to interface with my creative nature. For me, a heart and soul reader and bibliophile, the true path to the muse has always been through the printed page. I've read all of my life and consider myself well versed on books of all themes and genres, even those outside my area of preference. Music however is a different matter. I like what I like and know what I know but have some giant blind spots in my internal song book. Key artists and in some cases whole genres are mysteries to me and I have no clue about them whatsoever. For all I know Rush could be a high octane energy drink and David Bowie could have died at the Alamo. Now, many people go through life and pick up what crosses thier path, enjoy what they find and go to thier graves with no regrets, having found a few gems and not wanting for what they didn't even know they were missing. That's the easy way out but alas Johnny Cash won't let me settle for that. It's true. To what you might ask could I owe to The Man in Black that would call me to task in such a manner? The sad truth is that growing up I was a small minded ninny who snubbed anything that didn't fit my limited idea of what was cool and because of this I missed some real gems. As an adult I discovered and fell in love with Johnny Cash and everything he's ever done. Now you may wonder whats so bad about becoming a born again shit kicker even if it was later in life? The answer is nothing but the timing. My discovery came months after the legend died and along with not taking care of my teeth, not seeing Johnny Cash in concert will always be one of my great regrets.
  So how does all of this tie into my 2011 project? Well to try and round myself out and maybe fill a few holes in my musical knowledge I'll be picking an artist/genre each month of the new year and devoting all of my listening time to that choice. If I'm listening to music it will be my monthly choice. I plan to immerse myself and see what happens. For January I'll devote myself to Nirvana and then in February we'll vist the strange land of polka. We finish the first quarter with Snoop Dogg and the rest of the year is up for grabs.
I'll see you after the new year begins and for sure I'll be smelling like teen spirit!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Project Me?? Project You!!

Ok, bear with me for a second. Choose a number from 1 to 42. What? No, don't call me...I don't need to know the number yet...just write it on a post it or something and put it somewhere safe. All set? Good, we'll get back to that in a bit.
   Now in a few days I'll be posting my intentions for 2011 and what my new project entails and a few days after that we'll be into the new year and moving full speed ahead. Before we get there though lets talk about you. Yeah you heard me. If I can talk about myself for a year then the least I can do is give you the same opportunity. I encourage you to think about taking up a project of your own. I'll show you mine if you show me yours and we can even discuss ideas for potential projects right here. Hell, I can even do one better. You still have that number we talked about earlier tucked away somewhere? Good!! Take your number and find it on the chart below...

1Choose to learn a skill or ability that no one would expect from you.
2Take a Skill or ability you are good at and teach it to someone else.
3Every month for a year choose a book that has been on the NY Times best seller list and read and review it.
4Every month choose a year out of a hat and watch then review the movie that won the Best Picture Academy Award for that year.
5Every month choose a year out of a hat and read the book that won the Pulitzer Prize that year.
6Choose an Actor, Actress or Director that you know little about. Spend the year exploring their works. 
7Set up and host weekly Wii work shops at your local retirement home.
8Create a list of thought provoking questions. Each month interview a random person with those questions and share the results. 
9Create a Bucket List and try and get at least 3 things on it accomplished this year.
10Wikipedia has a random entry posted on it's home page  every day. Commit to reading them every day for the next year.
11Choose a different country each month for a year and learn to make a type of soup native to each area. Share your recipes, critiques and maybe have an international soup party at the end.
12Choose a TV show that you've never watched but have heard a lot about. Buy, borrow or rent each season and watch the whole thing to completion. Review and critique as you go.
13Choose to only use products made or produced in the US for one whole year. Share your experiences and challenges.
14Every week make a different kind of grilled cheese sandwich. See how many you can come up with. 
15Learn to play a sport or game you know nothing about.
16Create your own board or card game. Teach at least 3 other people to play it.
17Every month for a year invite someone  vastly different from you to dinner. Share your experiences, what you learned and how you chose your guests.
18Start a collection.
19Ask some one you love to teach you something you don't know. 
20For six months become a mentor to someone half your age. For the next six months become a companion of someone twice your age.
21Learn about a historical event only from people you can talk to personally and only from people who were alive when it happened. After a year see how much you know about the subject.
22Each month choose a different genre of books and read the most popular recommendation from each. (Choose stuff you wouldn't usually read like romance, graphic novels, cook books, etc)
23Learn something interesting from a stranger every day.
24Become a food critic. Create a web page and use it to post  your reviews of local restaurants.
25Every month choose a word and see how many different languages you can learn to say it in. 
26For one year only give gifts that you've made yourself by hand.
27Every month choose a style radically different from your own and compose a look/buy an outfit to fit you into that style. Go out on the town and experience the places your alternate identity would enjoy..
28Set your Netflix Queue to "random".
29Every month for a year ask a stranger what the last book they enjoyed was and read it.
30Even if you have no intention of going on it apply for a reality show. See how many you can get accepted on in a year. 
31Review a random blog every day and write a blog about it.
32Every day for a year learn a dirty joke and memorize it so you can retell it.
33During the next year learn about and celebrate at least four holidays not normally practiced in your country/area/region.
34Choose a natural disaster, serial killer or cataclysm and devote your year to learn everything you can about it until you’re a master on the topic.
35Design a class and then teach it at a local children's center.
36Choose something that you're bad at and become good at it.
37Choose your favorite holiday and host a party themed around it at a local homeless shelter
38Every week for a year choose a word or phrase and learn what it really means, what it's origins are and what it's usage was originally for.
39Pretend your back in school. Do a book report every month and post it on line to be "graded".
40Every month write a letter to a business critiquing or praising their products/services. The funnier the better but you can be serious if you want to!
41Learn a new dance every month for a year and make sure to go out and show off your new skills.
42Ask a 10 year old to tell you about their childhood and write a blog about what you learn. Every month interview someone 10 years older until you reach the oldest person you can find and learn about what being a kid was like for them.

Wallah!!! Instant project!!! And if the one you chose at random sucks then choose any one you want or make up a new one! I'm excited to see what you decide to do and would be really happy to be a part of it!!
So...tell me, tell me....what does the future hold for Project You??

Monday, December 20, 2010

Oscar, NASCAR and the Prohibitive Cost of Banjos or How the Tale Begins

Before my 2011 project begins in a few weeks lets talk about the seed that eventually grew to become the tree we are about to climb. Just about a year ago the chest nuts were roasting over the open fire, the stockings were hung by the chimney with care and I was dodging an awkward question from my wife. "Will you make a New Year's Resolution with me?" doesn't seem like it should be so scary but I couldn't help but cringe. I hate the New Years resolution. It just seems so forced and disingenuous. It's really easy to make a promise to live a better life while the champagne glasses are clinking and Auld Lang Syne is playing in the back ground but I don't know too many that survive the day to day drudge of the rest of the year to come. I figure that if someone really, really wants to lose weight, quit smoking or make some other world changing life style decision they are going to do so regardless of  where they are in the annual cycle of days. So I hemmed and I hawed and changed the subject hoping she would forget about it. She did but I couldn't. The idea that a yearly project could be rewarding if done right stuck in the rafters of my head and flew around like a very persistent bat.
  When my wife and I met, very early on in our relationship, she asked if I'd like to watch all of the Academy award winning films for Best Picture, Actor and Actress with her. We started pulling a year out of a hat every few weeks, watching the movies that correspond with that year and awarding each with a number of stars and our own personal reviews.We've watched over 80 movies and it has been not only a great way to bond with my love but a very unique and satisfying way to get an education on cinema. This was the sort of project I could get behind as a replacement for the morally ambiguous and loosely committed to resolution that's usually the norm.
  So I knew I wanted to do something creative but had no idea what. I was sitting in my living room eating stale Christmas cookies and just channel surfing. Click, click, click. Munch,munch, munch. I stopped on a random channel so I could run into the kitchen and grab a few more cookies out of the tin. When I got back I noticed I was on a stock car race of some sort. A car had just pulled to a stop and as the driver got out and took of his helmet it wasn't a he at was a beautiful dark haired young woman and it really caught me off guard. Not that a woman  can't drive race cars, but I didn't expect it and to be able to do something that no one expects of you seemed really powerful to me. In a random flash I had my quest; to master a skill or ability no one would expect of me.
   After hours of thought and polling the people around me I came up with a short list of three. 1. Learn to play the banjo 2. Learn American Sign Language and 3. Learn the game and become a football fan. The former was the most appealing to me but surprise, surprise banjos are actually pretty damn expensive. I bought a sign language dictionary and tried to learn a few signs but with out formal classes it quickly became apparent that mastery would elude me. That left me on the football field and in the last 12 months I not only immersed myself in the game and learned the rules but really came to love and appreciate it. It really did change my life in some surprising ways and was such a rewarding experience I not only decided to commit to another project in 2011 but also to share it with you guys and maybe convince a few of you to join me with Project Me's of your own.

This is Greg's Blog

testing 1, 2, 3