Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pyrography: Tree of Life

Design: Modified Celtic Tree of Life
Material: Ash Wood
Finish: High Gloss Tung Oil

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kanji Pyrography: Kotobuki

This is the second kanji that I have burned; this one is kotobuki which means celebration or long life/live long, depending on how it is used. This was actually the first Japanese word I learned, so I thought that it would be fitting to burn it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kanji Pyrography: Kami

A few days ago, I began to make progress on one of the items on my Old/Boring/30 list--learn Japanese. I do not have a ton of free time to dedicate to this process, but I am learning a word here and a word there when I can (I'm up to 9 kanji!). I decided to burn a couple of plaques to hang in my room, and this is the first one I did. The symbols are part of one of the Japanese alphabets (the kanji alphabet), and they form the word "kami" which means "God".

I may go back and oil this plaque, but for now, I am leaving it unfinished.




Note: Sorry about the inconsistent posting--school and work have both started getting crazy at the same time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thoughts on the Acoustic Movement

The Head and the Heart performing live

What does the acoustic movement in music tell us about ourselves?

It is a return to simpler, more natural things. In stark contrast to the heady excesses of the music in the past decade, marked by layers and layers of electronic noises, thundering drum pads, synthesized horns, and auto-tuned voices, the acoustic movement is marked by a simplicity. Many bands are simply a singer and a guitar or piano, unplugged, ready to perform anytime, anywhere. Even those bands with many members keep the music clean and clear.

The acoustic movement also shows an outburst of creativity. If you listen to the top 40 songs in America, many of the songs are interchangeable; the same artists dominate the spotlight year in and year out, the beats all run together, and the subject matter is reused over and over again. In fact, many bands design their songs to fit the standard rhythm and feel so that they may be easily mixed in a club for a continuous mix. Compare this to the acoustic movement; these songs span the spectrum of moods, tempos, rhythms,  and topics--many times within the same song! In addition to technical creativity, many artists are experimenting with instruments beyond the standard instrument line up. Harps, xylophones,  mandolins, banjos, violins, and harmonicas are just a few of the varied instruments used in distinguishably different ways, whereas when new instrumental filters are used in many top 40 songs, they simply mush into the existing lineup.

The acoustic movement also indicates a return to our roots, both musically, personally, and  culturally. The musical roots need no major explanation; simply look  up folk songs and other once-prevalent music forms.

On a personal level, many of these songs indicate a yearning to connect with the world as our grandparents and their parents did, to not simply reap the benefits of life, but to actively participate in the sowing. To stop punching buttons and staring at screens and instead create, tend, and care for things, whether that be through working with your hands as in farming or railways, or having a trade and a craft to take pride in, or simply admiring the world. Many people today feel unfulfilled in their jobs or like they are missing out, and many are discovering it is because it is hard to gain the satisfaction of seeing your hands create something or feeling your body strain as you solve problems and work by sitting and typing or by flipping burgers. This isn't to say the latter are bad--it is simply a psychological truth.

As a culture, we are beginning to embrace our past and cherish it. For many decades, each generation strived to distance itself from the previous, but there is a movement now that seeks out the older ways of living and preserves them. They do not let the ideas stagnate, but instead improve upon them while staying true to the spirit of the original instead of improving on them and attempting to recreate that idea in a brand new way.

One aspect of the acoustic movement that is particularly intriguing to me is the singers. When listening to these people sing, one thing that trikes most people is the rawness of the vocalists voice. These artists voices stand in direct violation of the unwritten law in music today that requires artists to auto-tune and tweak their voices until either they sound perfect or they sound like a robot. There are real people singing real songs about real things; they use their natural voices in all their beauty and flaws to bring that accessibility, reality, and simplicity to their works. Just as the slight irregularities in a handcrafted item let you see that it was not churned out of som e factory, but instead tenderly made by an artist, the unique voices of these singers allow us to connect on a deeper level than before. This trend is starting to  carry  over to top 40 music as well, with artists like Adele and Florence + the Machine bringing vocal anomalies to the front stage. I believe that this trend is indicative of this culture starting to become fed up with the plastic stars of hollywood and the facade that so much is done behind. Reality is unique, reality is not always pretty, and reality does not clone itself but instead has differences.

That is the heart of the acoustic movement, in my opinion; a culture striving for something real and accessible, expressed in music. For years, America has had 'perfect' people, lives, and cities shoved down its throat, and she's tired of it.

The acoustic movement tells us that we are learning from nature and older ways of doing things. We are embracing our heritage and exploring our creative sides. We are looking past the superficial and we are loving every second of it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Favorite Posts of 2011

2012 is looking to be a fantastic year! I'll turn 21, graduate college, get a car (finally!), become a billionaire, etc. But 2011 was pretty good too. Here are my favorite 10 posts from 2011 (in chronological order):

Velvet Nights and Gentle Waves (January) -- I love the city of Charleston, SC, and the last time I visited it, I was struck by the thought that this would be an amazing place to propose. It is beautiful, romantic, and classy; this thought came back to me one night when I was listening to a slow jazz piece, and an image formed in my head of a couple slow dancing under a wrought-iron street light by the water. I had to write it out.

Do You Fit In? (February) -- I actually had started writing this to complain about feeling different from others; I quickly realized that was a stupid idea and really boring to write or read (and immature, haha). I started thinking, and thought, "Everyone feels like they are the 'weird one' from time to time--what if someone really was? What would cause that?" I settled on insanity.

The Taxi Man (February) -- This was one of my first times writing in third-person perspective; I just like the imagery it forms.

Romance (May) -- I wrote this one in my head as I was driving home from work. It was a beautiful spring night; I had the windows down and was just enjoying the view.

Dear Culture (May) -- I wrote this around the time of the Royal Wedding; longing to be a princess was at an all time high, and it started to grate on me a little bit.

The Nameless (June) -- This is one of the few stories I have written with the express purpose of trying to impart a truth. Most of mine are for entertainment or for stretching the mind--this one (while hopefully doing both of those things) really was designed to be an analogy for our own lives. We spend so much time freaking out about the culture doing this or that, this is wrong in the world, don't watch that cause it will mess you up, etc that we miss the dark side of all of us that will run rampant as we focus on external sources. As a fun side note, I ended up writing another bit to the "Nameless" mythos, and I may revisit this world in the future.

All This Heart Needs (July) -- I'm not a poet, but I enjoy dabbling in poetry from time to time--sometimes you can say things through it that you could not express any other way. Can you imagine if I had tried to write that into a story or put it out as a 'thoughts on'? It wouldn't work.

Braided Leather Bracelet (July) -- This was a fun craft I did, and I'm quite pleased with the results. I wore that bracelet constantly during the summer, and will probably continue to do so in the spring and summer of '12. I have made several more (some for women, some for men) and have experimented with different styles. (If anyone would be interested in having one, I wouldn't be opposed to working something out.)

I Am.... (August) -- Everyone desires to be alone sometimes, but what happens when that desire becomes reality? Think of it as Home Alone, except not funny and a little bit terrifying (it really is when you think about it.) Just like with The Nameless, I have written another short in this world, and have actually written out a basic outline for a possible book/series off of it.

Pyrography: Monogrammed Silhouette (December) -- I picked up pyrography again in December, and this is probably my favorite piece. It is simpler than some that I have done, but I think that just adds to its charm. I really just love this gift.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Thoughts on Relationships


Culture tells us that when we reach our goals or become who we are supposed to be, we will find love. If this is not the case, then finding love will be the act that brings us fulfillment and puts us where we should be. From fairy tales to action movies to comedies to dramas this trope holds true.

It is an understandable occurrence—we all recognize the need for a soul-mate; we are not meant to be alone. Because of this universal longing and recognized need, it only makes sense that our legends and stories reflect this. After all, that is what the most successful stories do; they tap into widely accepted emotions or beliefs and affirm them in a way that makes us feel good about ourselves.* But is it realistic?

If you have had much exposure to me, it comes out that I love love. It is amazing, and I believe is the emotion through which we feeleverything else. It is so multi-faceted, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll focus on romantic love. Romantic love is a wondrous, precious thing that is perfectly normal and good to desire and seek, but by making it an expected reward for ‘succeeding in life’ or making it a necessary step in ‘becoming who you are’, we are cheapening it and replacing a beautiful relationship with a cheap plastic trophy to pick up on the way to becoming the ideal you.

I strongly support any story that promotes true love and functional relationships, and I love happy endings. However, must it be a requirement to get the girl for it to be a happy ending? Can one not seek love, be rejected, and still go on to live life to the fullest and be all that you should be? Can someone find fulfillment and success without falling in love?

By having love become a required and expected part of succeeding in life, we are hurting ourselves. With these expectations, is it any wonder that we have generations that are panicking when not always dating someone? We have been raised wearing drunk goggles, and we don’t realize we are wearing them because that’s just how everything is. We have accepted this distorted view of success and life as what the real world looks like, and as a result, we have become insecure, unfulfilled, and confused. I believe that this is part of the reason the divorce rate is so high—people seek relationships because that is ‘part of being a successful adult’ and so they settle for someone that isn’t the one for them. After a while, the relationship is just another section of life that they have yet to be fulfilled in.

So promote love! Parade it in all its glory and stir our souls! Show us the true way to love! But don’t degrade it by making it another box to be checked on the path to self-fulfillment.


*not all do. For example, Of Mice and Men leaves you with a profound sense of sorrow and loss—however, these are still universally felt emotions. Most stories do affirm you and make you feel good about yourself (or qualities you posses) however.



I hope that all of you have a fantastic year to come! I do have a post coming up with my favorite posts of 2011, so stay tuned. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Insanity


ohgod the world has collided and i fear that all HAS been lost for how canirun away from the monsters whenth e beast is INSide myhead thereisnosleeping or rest for the wicked yet the damned must feel rested comparedto the incessant pounding and throbbing of my skull I. talkscreamwhispersingshout ot thegirl on my (leftright?)begging Forgive me mistress i haveforsak!en yoursideand have thus deserted the worldof the reasonable dEAR logoswill you haunt my specteral grave for eternity the beautiful--;angel

                opens her terriblemuzzle and snarls in reply “Adam? Can you hear me, Adam?”
AAAAAAAAAAAIeeeeeeesieiaefljea;klvcn;kl Icannot hear you omonstrous angel perfect demon. Your face and words have                                 driven me to thisview of reality.opainful and dark? Fantasy I cannot escapetheworld anymore to my dreamsfor mydreamsha v e BEcomE the world.

Thethroabbing 

Thepoun  ding!




Poor, poor Adam....I wonder what got him to this place; last we saw him, he was blissful and content to live in a daydream, choosing to not live in reality.

On a different note, this is my 200th post! Yippee.  
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