Something New

It’s true that I take a hiatus from blogging for a few months, here and there.  It’s also true that I have yet to find that one project that I can honestly call “ongoing.”  I’ve left a string of projects behind me, each with a clear cut start date and a slightly foggier ending date.  I almost thought this blog would be my last project, one that I could contribute to indefinitely, without worry of content or style restrictions.

Yet here I am again, contemplating a new start.  I’d like to work on a blog that isn’t connected to games — I’ve even played with the thought of putting my real life content on it.  I’ve considered that maybe it’s time to grow up.  But let’s not be too hasty.  After all, here I am now, making a new post.  Only just today, I was looking through a bunch of old game screenshots.  Maybe it isn’t quite time to give up this ghost.

One thing is clear though:

SomethingNew

“Something new” is going to be another blog.  I’m going to try writing different types of articles instead of just the usual ramblings and poetry.

Here’s what it looks like so far:  kikotsu | musings

John Frusciante – Favorite Songs

Two of my current favorite songs are off of John Frusciante’s 5th solo album “Shadows Collide with People” (released 2004).

John Frusciante

John Frusciante

In the song “Carvel,” his vocal style simultaneously evokes the conflicting emotions of pain and exultation. It calls to mind what I envision surfing must be like — riding a wave of barely contained passion, he lets out enough to flow and really express himself, while still maintaining control. And yes it does make me want to eat a Carvel cake.


“Carvel”

When I try I force it out
Never looking in only out
Now is the time for millions to lose
Never the same since I lost you
Running me out of town
Wishing the best around
Would only get off my back
Heaven receives you and throws you back

Sending a dummy to my God

Driving to eat a Carvel cake
Somewhere you know isn’t where you think
Have you gone away
Have you gone, have you gone away already
(come back, come back, come back, come back)

All the good times are on their way
Up and down that’s how energy stays alive
And I wouldn’t have it any other way

 

I’m one of those people who listens to music as a mood altering tool, and I’ve found that nothing helps a low mood like pleasing harmonies and a beautiful melody. And since I’ve always had a soft spot for acoustic, which is supplemented with a little electric here, this song really does it for me.


“Song to Sing when I’m Lonely”

A song to play when I’m lonely
Win and never play a game again
No one to face when I’m falling
Holding tight to dreams that never end

I’ll be you
I do
I’ll be you
No one’s afraid to be called by another name
No one dares to be put down where they don’t belong
Nowhere’s anyone reason
Everything dying and leaving
Out with these faults and you make me baby
Faking a movement but no one’s seeing it
No one always finds peace flung
No one chooses to beat my pride down

Symbols pierce right through me
People fail to be drawn up
Sunlight to fate accumulates
Loving pain to be clung to

 By luminous bodies
Only waiting for long signs to be wrong
And true to us
Out of place in my own time
Drowning thinking that I’m dry
Holding onto facts that’ll never be proven
Faking an action cause no one’s looking
Hello when I’m crashing
Feel nothing when my life’s flashing before my eyes
You should’ve threw me down
Is the content so much

Beautiful Sounds – Musical Saw and Volume Swells

It was back when I was a teenager that I first saw the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”  The story impressed itself upon me deeply.  I could relate to the main character, who became my personal definition of an anti-hero, and his fight against a system that appeared to be doing good but may have been a tad misguided. Although his methods may not have been correct, his actions brought hope to the struggling people around him.  I still identify with the main theme of freedom of the human spirit. But more than the plot or message of the movie, today I’m thinking about the intro music. It was the first time I heard the unique, beautiful sound that is the musical saw.


Somewhat related but not entirely, there’s a song intro which I absolutely love. I think part of what I like about it is that it reminds me of a musical saw. The other part I like is that it’s music straight from the soul of John Frusciante. Here’s a clip of the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing “Don’t Forget Me” live in France. The song itself is alright, but I’m much more taken by the intro and guitar parts. I’ve been known to watch the first 1 minute of this video over and over — you can see the peace and love on John’s face as he’s playing.


If you want to hear the other guitar parts, they occur:
from 2.44 – 3.00
from 4.01 – 4.33
from 5.03 – 5.37
Or you could also watch the whole video (please disregard people fighting invisible ninjas).

 

And last but not least, here’s a moving rendition of “Ava Maria” by Austin Blackburn on the musical saw.

John Frusciante

Serendipity brought me back to John Frusciante.  Although I was a fan of the free-spirited energy of the Red Hot Chili Peppers back in the 90’s, I hadn’t listened to their music since then.

It wasn’t until I started making Spotify playlists that ‘Pretty Little Ditty’ reappeared.  Overcome by a wave of nostalgia, I went to YouTube to watch a live version.  There’s this great video of Flea and John, foreheads pressed together for a moment, playing with what can only be described as brotherly love.

The emotions that arose were so deep and real that I was compelled to watch more Chili Peppers videos, if only for the purpose of hearing John’s soulful playing.  It was then that I discovered everything that’s happened in John’s life in the decades since I’d last tuned in.  Like many who walk off the beaten path, what Frusciante experienced during that time was truly life-altering.  Some might say that it’s a miracle he’s still alive.
(to read more about John’s life, see his wiki)

“I used to always see things in the outside world as being ‘the enemies of an artist.’  I don’t see it that way anymore.  To me, everything an artist needs is inside of himself, and it really doesn’t matter what’s going on in the world. Nothing else matters.  You don’t need to have things perfect, you don’t need to have a lot of money or a beautiful girl.  If your job in life is to create, you can find inside yourself what you need to make beautiful art and beautiful music.  But you might have to clean yourself out, spiritually or physically.  You gotta constantly purify yourself, living in the city, around human beings.  There might be people close to you who affect you inside yourself in such a corrupt way that it screws with your ability to do what you do.  But if you make sure that the people who are close to you are good people who are there for you and love you, you can create your temple everywhere you go.”

Not only did I become interested in hearing what he’d been up to musically in the years that had passed, I also had a growing interest in him as a thinker.  His originality of thought pointed towards a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of music and existence that I found compelling.

“Music is not something that you are in control of.  It comes from somewhere else.  If you’re that middleman between the cosmos and the real world on Earth that the music comes through, you are very lucky.  When you record music, it’s not your job to try to control anything.  It’s more about being in the right place and flowing with the energies that are in the air around you and with the people that you are making the music with.  The second that someone thinks music comes from themselves, and that they are the ones responsible for it, is when they go off track.  The most important thing you could realize is that you are the least important part of the whole process.  Music is going to be made whether any one artist is here or not.  If John Lennon or Jimi Hendrix had disappeared, music still would have gone on, changed, grown, and been the beautiful thing that it is.  You take away the music, all you have are the individuals, and they don’t mean anything.  The individual is nothing, it’s the music that’s in the air all the time that’s important, and you have to be humble in the face of that.”

In reference to the media and their fascination with image, he had this to say:

“It’s not because Jimi Hendrix looked the way he looked.  It’s not because Jimi Hendrix danced the way he danced.  Or because his name was f**king Jimi Hendrix.  It’s like these things are just meaningless, yet the way the business uses these media tools has perpetuated this idea that what’s important is that he’s the greatest guitarist ever, and he’s Jimi Hendrix, and there’s his picture, that’s him.  And it’s like, you know, the only real picture of him is his music.”
(to read a synopsis of this July 16, 2008 interview, click here)

His solo work is just as riveting as his life story.  It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to anything that has had the evocative power that John’s music has had on me.  He’s a natural artist with a real penchant for melody and arrangement.  Here’s a song from his album “Curtains,” called “Anne.”  Currently one of my favorites, the album has simple but beautiful acoustic guitar.

Time to Wake Up

Been gone awhile…  It’s time to wake up from my 7 months of hibernation.  There have been some subtle inner adjustments that may very well equal bigger changes in the future, but for now the main difference is that there are some new things on the radar these days.  I’ll just briefly hit the high points:

I’ve started watching more movies.  Thanks to Redbox and Netflix, I have access to new releases as well as goodies from the past.  This was a great boon during the phase I recently went through, where I was watching everything I could that Tom Hardy had been in.  What a talented fellow!  He has a commanding presence and an almost palpable charisma, but it’s not until you see him in a few different movies that his acting ability truly becomes evident.  The first few times I saw him, it didn’t register to me who he was, as he’s one of those actors who disappears into his characters.  I came to appreciate his range and intensity of emotion after seeing him play diametrically different roles.  I recommend “Stuart: A Life Backwards” and “Bronson” as contrast.

As Tommy Conlon from “Warrior”

 

After much anticipation, Guild Wars 2 was released this past August.  I’ve been playing it quite a bit since then, and am only just now taking a little break.  In the months that it’s been out, I’ve met some new friends through the Wayrift [WAY] guild and leveled my main character Gavin Whitehawk to level 80.  As for the game itself, it’s visually stunning.  It has a different style of graphics that appeals to my sensibilities, somehow stylized and realistic at the same time.  The gameplay is engaging and dynamic, and while you’re playing you get the feeling that the developers wanted players to really enjoy their experience.  By that I mean, a lot of little aggravations that are customary in games of the past are noticeably absent.

Gavin and a land-bound ship

 

Lately I’ve been treating my ears to the  emotive stylings of John Frusciante.  He is simply amazing.  My favorite songs are from “Curtains” and “The Will to Death,” and I can safely say that his guitar playing must be what love sounds like.  You can feel that he’s putting every ounce of his being into his music and it’s heartbreakingly beautiful to behold.  He’s a true artist and I have a profound respect for his work.  Thank you for existing!

Been listening non-stop for the past several days.

Looking For Motivation, Self Invite

Some days, it’s difficult to get started.

In an effort to beat the doldrums, I did a search on bored kitty and unmotivated kitty images.  I figured I might stumble onto a fitting pic, since cats naturally seem to have that disinterested look.

Although I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, I did end up chuckling for a bit.  (Thanks for the laughs, LOLcats!)  After spending about half an hour perusing silly kitty images, I picked a favorite.

Something about the way this cat is sitting has me convinced that he understands how I feel right now.

I’d like to write a post about new content updates in both Guild Wars (Winds of Change) and Maplestory (Chaos).  But the quest for inspiration is on pause for now.  Like this kitty, I’ll also be “waitin for cheezeburger man.”

Kakashi Love Song

Almost everyone who follows the Naruto/Naruto Shippuden series naturally begins to have a favorite character.  I have more than one, since there are so many interesting characters, but Kakashi stands out as the top favorite. Like some anime reviewers, I am intrigued by the duality of his personality — the laid back, easygoing teacher and the serious, intense shinobi.

But this isn’t an ode to my feelings for Kakashi; rather, it’s an opportunity to talk about the episode that bears the same name as this post.  So, last week, I got a fortune out of a cookie that immediately made me think of “Kakashi Love Song.”

On it’s own it sounds like a reference to Kakashi’s penchant for passing time at a particular Konaha Memorial Grave Stone, and how his past has affected what he chooses to instill in his students.  But within the context of the episode, the possible interpretations become more universal.

Been awhile since you’ve seen it?  Here’s the video, Episode 191 from Season 5 of Naruto Shippuden, on Hulu.  (If you’re new to Hulu, be prepared to sit through a couple of 30 second ads.)

If you’ve ever been in love, I’m sure you can relate to that nameless feeling Kakashi must’ve had while standing on that cliff.  It’s the quandary of having two very separate yet simultaneous emotions.  On the one hand, he is bound by his sense of duty to complete his mission.  And on the other hand, he is filled with a sense of mourning for someone who used to be important to him but no longer has a place in his life.

To me, this simple fortune, “We must always have old memories and young hopes,” encapsulates a way of dealing with these kinds of dual emotions.  It creates a place for old memories to exist as they were, while granting the freedom to hope anew.  And that’s how it should be.  Somewhere behind Kakashi’s detached demeanor, in the remote hills of his mind, he sits with a girl as they both gaze at the clouds.

Naruto Shippuden

Although my interest in anime has survived all these years, the time I can devote to finding and watching new episodes has drastically dwindled. One anime that I still make a point to follow is the Naruto Shippuden series. Luckily, the internet has made it much easier for me; the ongoing series is updated regularly, and can be watched at the Official Viz site.

The story continues from the original Naruto series, with an older and more seasoned cast. If you’re one of the few who are just now tuning in after the original, you can be relieved. The immature antics of young Naruto and his classmates are mostly gone. Instead we have young adults whose will and vision have been tempered by suffering, and forever altered by the passing of lives and time.

Enter the protagonist Naruto. No longer the “#1 Hyperactive Knuckleheaded Ninja,” the fiesty fellow has come into a calmness born of mastering his Jinchuriki. He remains a devoted villager, a tenacious fighter, and a loyal friend. Now more than ever, Naruto seems ready to fulfill his vow to one day become the Hokage.

Naruto Shippuden – Naruto Poster Print, 22×34 Poster Print, 22×34

But what is a hero without a nemesis? Sasuke, once a teammate and friend, has set off to pursue his own agenda. Armed with mysterious powers and a new group of allies, Sasuke’s presence in the series serves as constant suspense. When will Naruto finally get the chance to confront Sasuke? When they battle, whose jutsu will come out victorious? And perhaps foremost on the minds of Sasuke fans everywhere, will the young Uchiha prove to be a good guy underneath it all?

Naruto Shippuden – Sasuke Poster Print, 22×34 Poster Print, 22×34

Read more about the series on the Naruto Wikipedia page

Kettlebells

Kettlebells have been around for hundreds of years, but have only recently become accessible to the everyday consumer.  What makes this uniquely shaped weight different from other weights?  Because the mass of the weight hangs beyond the hand, kettlebell exercises often utilize swinging motions that work multiple muscle groups at once.

And why is this cannonball-with-a-handle becoming increasingly popular with the fitness minded?  Quite simply, the kettlebell delivers results.   You’ll build endurance and flexibility.  You can rehabilitate your injuries.  You’re able to strengthen and condition your whole body with one piece of equipment.  Training with a kettlebell will even improve your grip strength. Talk about efficiency.

Whether you’re passionate about working out, or just getting started, kettlebells are worth looking into.  They come in a variety of different weights, from 10 lbs to 100 lbs.  And since there are many out there who are well-versed in kettlebell training, tons of resources are available to you — from basic guidelines to more advanced moves.

Enter the Kettlebell! Strength Secret of the Soviet Supermen

The Purge by Akismet

Ever since I started my journey with WordPress, I’ve grappled with a thorny question:  Is this a real comment or a spam comment?  After about a year of blogging, I still find myself asking the same question.  I’ve pored over hundreds of comments, yet am still often unable to negotiate the fine line between spam and legit.

So, at some point not long ago, I decided to activate a neat little plugin called Akismet.  According to the light blue badge located at the very bottom of this page, it’s caught quite of lot of spam since then.  Nowadays I spend very little time sifting through spam.

Looking back on all those comments that were haphazardly approved when this blog was still very young, I have to wonder why I didn’t implement this plugin much sooner.  …  And it turns out that I can’t justify doing otherwise — it’s time for the great purge.  By that I mean, it’s time to delete all the comments.

My apologies to any legitimate comment posters whose comments get lost in the process.  From this point forward, Akismet will be doing most of the cleaning for me.