April

A to Z 2013 : UNDERACHIEVER

(An A to Z 2013 Challenge Entry)

I’ve spoken about this topic briefly in my first posts when I began blogging. I wasn’t the type of underachiever that would cause a scene in class (with exception of Spanish class) and be disruptive. The “bad boy” (that would be hilarious) who skipped class, smoked in the bathroom, and got into fights (though, those were — are — the type of guys a lot of women seem to swoon over; I blame Hollywood lol). I didn’t throw aside my homework and get terrible grades.

I did, however, try to do the bare minimum that I could. I never found school particularly hard, just boring. It didn’t help that I grew up in a small town with a graduating class under 100 people, where the lack of fun, creative classes was rampant. Art, Photography, Music, were classes many picked partially due to their ease. Some considered them slacker classes.

These weren’t slacker classes for me. I loved to draw, take pictures, and sing. So learning about these various topics was exciting for me. I guess I viewed Home Ec as a slacker class, but over time I really liked learning about cooking and crafts. Regardless of the class, I put in the least amount of effort needed.

Greater Expectations

Hmm... It’s possible that I’ve used that header before.

I may have put little effort into school, but I ended with good grades (minus that final year where I really slacked off... oops). Usually a Straight A or B student, honor rolls, finished all my homework, good test scores, blah blah blah. Everyone expected me to attend college. It never seemed to be my calling, though. I never felt a strong desire to go to college. The cost and thought of endless nights studying were enough to deter me.

I’d have to say I think most of my brothers are also underachievers. Only one (besides me) attempted college, dropped out (like myself), and eventually took massage therapy classes. I still classify him as an underachiever, though, being he takes the perceived easiest route to make money. I sometimes call him Easy Money.

Only a handful of us are happy with where we are at, and I believe that is what differentiates some underachievers from others. Some people don’t care where they are at, some enjoy it and are truly happy, while others loathe their place in life. Big dreams of moving up the corporate ladder, turning a hobby into a career, etc etc. Sometimes you just want more. I want more. To all of those who don’t give a damn, that is fine. Kudos to those who are happy, that is wonderful and I am, therefore, happy for you.

“This Will Never End ‘Cause I Want More...”

For myself? I want more. It feels like I have a void within — not of a spiritual, absence of “God”, nature — manifested by the lack of happiness associated with my place in life. I am content, but want more. I want to be a writer, to be doing what I am passionate about. I’d love having a gaming shop selling/buying cards, and I could write while doing that. Even blog/write about that specifically if wanting. A lot of my hobbies would blend together and have synchronicity.

I am attempting to take the steps to make this dream/goal a reality. This blogging is a move in that direction. I hope to get back into my gaming, and this time simultaneously begin my other blogs on those topics. I’ve also plans to start podcasting. It seems Blogger isn’t the best format to place a podcast on; the standard codex (did I say that right? Or is it just code?) isn’t supported and many tedious workarounds have to happen to make it possible. Then there are the Youtube videos, which I may start with my brother at some point.

It definitely seems like this may be biting off more than I can chew, but many of the alt blogs/podcasts/videos would be sporadic as material becomes available. In the end, though, they will hopefully all flow together and offer a variety of outlets where I can create without becoming completely bogged down with one genre/topic/aspect.

And my fiction? That goal will be to continually work on it, as well. After the A to Z, I will have an easier time following/writing blogs, commenting/replying, and writing fiction when there aren’t daily postings. Perhaps some I follow will continue daily, but I am assuming the majority will downshift to one or two postings a week, maybe three. The overwhelming stimulation of the event will have at least died down.

So, these are a handful of my creative goals in the coming weeks. We’ll see how far along I get. I hope to upgrade from an underachiever.

From an underachiever to an underdog, because seriously... let’s be realistic here. And besides, I’ve always rooted for the underdog!

Have you ever considered yourself, or anyone you know, an underachiever? What are some of your short term goals in the coming weeks? Long term? Do you (or have you) dabble in podcasting or creating Youtube videos? Do you root for the underdog?

A to Z 2013 : TAURIELLO

(An A to Z 2013 Challenge Entry)

Once again, I deviate from the planned path after a new random idea comes to me. I was going to share a handful of trailers for movies I’m looking forward to this year. I am a movie trailer buff afterall!

Instead, I thought I would share some information I learned about a piece of art I’ve had for some time now. One that has always, for inexplicable reasons, drawn me to it. I will randomly think about it and become curious of its origins. Preferring not to have anything on my walls — they have been bare white for almost seven years (minus the posters and bats placed up for my ex’s son) — this is one piece I wouldn’t object to placing up. I’ve no real idea why I haven’t ever done so.

Goddess

I found this piece of art at a garage sale years ago. I have this odd thing where if something continually draws my attention (usually art) then I end up buying it, if I can afford it. This was one of those pieces. As soon as I saw it I felt a “connection” of sorts, and I wanted it. I avoided it for a bit, walking around checking out the rest of the merchandise. It made no sense for me to buy it, I never hung anything on my walls anymore.

But, like I always do, I bought it. It was cheap. Like $3 cheap, so why the hell not? Did it ever go up on my wall? Nope. I still felt a deep resonance with it, and I began associating unrealistic qualities with the painting. I titled it “Goddess” and thought of her as my Guardian Angel and Muse. I had a dream once about my supposed Guardian Angel and I will perhaps talk about it sometime. Maybe I had this dream close to this period of time? I can’t recall.

Either way, I never hung it up (only partially due to not having a real frame), and I never left it out to inspire any of my writing (which I wasn’t doing at the time anyhow). I guess I figured a Guardian Angel could do their work from the closet. They must be able to, because I’ve had a few close calls.

This weekend I was cleaning out my closet and trying to condense — purge; some changes are coming up that I need to have a bit more available space for — some of my belongings, and I came across this piece again. After so many years, I thought it was time to investigate its origins. It is a print (I assume) and not an original; back is listed as 648. I know close to nothing about art, though, beyond what I fancy and what I don’t.

Frank Tauriello
Source: http://www.leonloard.com/
I made the mistake of misreading the name as Taurielb (the L and O blending close), which caused some initial frustrations. Once figuring out the correct spelling of his last name, though, the frustration didn’t end. I wasn’t able to find him or any pieces of his work. I tried simple descriptions, and looked up multiple sites. I must be getting bad at Google. Once locking down his full name I found only a handful of sites with his art up, most of which being eBay.

I did, however, find a few blog posts and forum threads about him. It seems a handful of people were seeking out information about the artist of works they had found; some describing the same print I have. From here I found postings from Frank’s daughter giving information about the passing of her father, and about a memorial site currently in the works.

His work seems to have been distributed by Leon Loard Commissioned Portraits (though, I saw someone listing another distributor: Donald Art Industries/Company; again I know nothing about art!) and this is what they had to say about the late F. Tauriello:
Although a New York native, Frank Tauriello is known as a noted California portraitist, where he resides and teaches. Born in Rochester, New York, he received a bachelor of Fine Arts degree Cum Laude from Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York. His graduate work spans four years at the Art Students League of New York under Frank J. Reilly. Tauriello spent the next twelve years in New York working in the areas of painting illustrations, murals, and restoration of paintings. Currently, he has put his full attention on portraiture work and the conservation of art.
           
From 1963 to the present, Tauriello has been a private teacher, demonstrating instructor and juror for the California Art Association and the American Society of Portrait Artists. His portrait subjects vary widely, including children and families, state governors, jurists, business executives, and celebrities such as actor Clint Eastwood and television personality Merv Griffin. He has exhibited in numerous art shows around the country, and has won many local and national awards. Tauriello also holds membership in the Salmagundi Club of New York, National Cowboy Hall of Fame, and is Board Emeritus of The American Society of Portrait Artists.
           
Strength, dignity, and realism all shine through in a Tauriello portrait. His straightforward yet sensitive style of painting emphasizes his expertise in achieving simplicity in design and composition, along showcasing his intense ability to recreate his subject's persona on canvas.
I nice contrast from the obituary. He was a very talented artist (amazing really, I love what I’ve seen so far and I can’t even accurately describe the connection felt with the one piece I have in my possession) and it’s a shame he has passed. Not because I would have ever sought him out, but that his current art is now all that is left and he will no longer be bringing new creations into the world.

Then again, perhaps he will. By means of those he inspired through his years of work and teaching, his legacy can essentially live on. I hope it does. I’m sure it will. Not even necessarily in terms of painting(s).

“The Goddess” inspires me in more of a spiritual way, but even that is an extension of F. Tauriello’s art. I know his art has also connected and inspired others, as well. So it isn’t even a matter of “hope” or “certainty” of an eventual ripple effect. Just the fact that it has and already is living on.

I should see about getting it properly framed, or at least hanging it up, and see if that Muse factor can’t give me a little nudge.

Do you happen to be familiar with Frank Tauriello and his art? Do you have any favorite artists? What artists or pieces of art inspire you?

A to Z : SCARE TACTICS

(An A to Z 2013 Challenge Entry)

Lately I’ve been writing about some of my encounters with ghosts, haunted houses, and/or just creepy places (and situations) in general. Then I read about some rather elaborate pranks/lies some fellow bloggers have endured from family and friends. It reminded me of a time I blended both of these elements together.

Having grown up with three brothers, sometimes the sibling rivalry ran deep. What better way to pass the time than to argue, wrestle, and scare the hell out of one another? What was my mother thinking having four boys? The odds were definitely not in her favor.

Now, we never really had any major pranks pulled on one another another to any large extent. Sometimes you hear of families where this is the case, and they each try to “up” the last to get even. I’ve always been fond of pranks — sometimes initiating them now and again — but usually kept mine around obvious dates like April Fools Day. They sometimes lose flare that day, being most expect it, unless you do it right.

Run, Run As Fast As You Can

Back in the day my pranks were more cruel, in the sense I would try to scare people. I think attempting to scare one another is just something many people enjoy doing. People obviously like to be scared on some bizzare level, otherwise horror movies/novels/etc would hold no place in our entertainment field.

One of my most memorable attempts at this occurred way back at the Stanchfield House (site of those hauntings) when a teenager. During the Summer, I was sometimes assigned to watch my brothers while my stepfather and mother were at work. Mainly, I was to watch the youngest of the bunch. At one point our youngest brother fell asleep in his room, and I had an idea come to mind.

I would scare the hell out of him.

That’s about it. Sounds pretty solid right? I thought so too! So how would I accomplish this? I mean... our youngest brother was maybe eight or so years old. It isn’t really hard to scare a kid. But, sometimes you just want to do it right.

So the prep work included getting some fake blood (from Halloween), and applying it to my other two brothers and a fake plastic cleaver. I believe I applied a handful to myself, as well, for some added effect. Then there was the positioning of the “bodies”. One brother was sprawled out on the stairs (our bedrooms were on the second floor), while the other was placed in the doorway; half in the room, half in the hallway.

Once the scene was set, I put on my game face and got to work. I jumped on the bed screaming — channeling Christian Bale’s Batman before its time — waking our brother up. I was hovering over him with the bloody cleaver in one hand, and told him I had killed his brothers. There was a little resistance at first, even though he was clearly afraid — eyes wide — still fighting off the grogginess of his deep slumber.

I told him I was a demon and had possessed his brother’s body. He said my name and I responded with, “Jak isn’t here anymore. He is dead like the others!” I think when he got out of bed and saw one of our brothers laying on the ground it started to register more. I grabbed him and said, “You’re going to be next. You better run.” Paused and then yelled, “RUN!”

And run he did. He took off out of the room, into the hall, down the stairs — past the “bodies” of his brothers, now deceased — and then the front screen door slammed. Then he was gone. My brothers got up and we all laughed and had a good time with it.

At this point, I don’t recall if we ever thought or wondered about what exactly to do next. Maybe we thought he would just eventually come home. What I do know is that our mother was on her way back home from work and picked up our crying, traumatized little brother who was still making his way down the dirt road.

He was crying and telling her how everyone was dead. Needless to say, she was pissed off — more at the fact he was walking down the country road all alone — and laid into us when she got home. More so me, being I was the oldest and on babysitting duty. Thankfully, I wasn’t grounded or punished much. I can’t recall how our youngest brother reacted after the fact, but I’d imagine he was really upset as well. It blew over fast, though.

I thought our mother even laughed a bit about it soon after. We certainly all do now, years later. It makes for a good story from time to time at family gatherings and the holidays.

Have you ever pulled a prank on (or really scared) anyone? If so, what? Ever have one done to you? If so, what?

A to Z 2013 : RANDOM REMEMBRANCES

(An A to Z 2013 Challenge Entry)

I’ve sat here, once again, attempting to think what exactly to write. As I was shoveling for 4 hours last Thursday, when Mother Nature decided to dump another load of snow, I came up with what I Recall being a great idea for today's post. If you Remember, I’ve been having this issue consistently throughout April. I tell myself to write it down each time, but then convince myself that I won’t forget. Then, low and behold, I forget.

This inability to remember things has becoming quite problematic. Most of those memories are from my childhood. I still have the ability to remember major current/Recent events just fine, but it's the little things that get lost. Did I lock the door? Did I put the gas cap back on? Did I already take my vitamin today?

When I can’t accurately recall these things it starts to drive me mad, because they are simple. Why would I forget them? Especially when they are within daily Routines.

My gaps in memory from my childhood make more sense to me. A lot of people don’t remember things from so far back. Other memories are gone, possibly buried due to trauma. This is just a guess, but it seems viable. I am actively exploring that possibility, in attempts to unlock some of these.

The 6th Day

When I think about memories, I wonder about some older topics people discussed dealing with cloning. Would said individual turn out the exact same? Would they be soulless?

I always believed that it would be impossible for any clone to turn out exactly the same as another due to the difference of experiences. They would look like a twin, but possibly act/think completely different. I guess I feel like experiences completely make us who we are. A clone would be lacking all of that.

It makes me curious about how cloning would work. Like a computer with an empty hard-drive you could upload whatever information you wanted; imprint them (memories) on said clone.

Then I think about amnesia, and how it is said those individuals act nothing like themselves, which makes complete sense; they don’t know who they are, how to “normally” act. These types of disorders — though, I believe the legitimacy is questioned by some —  intrigue me greatly. Cause I would then ask are our “souls” nothing more than memories? Without them, are we just blank slates?

I don’t believe that, but it makes me think. I believe this is why I really like the movie The 6th Day. Instead of attempting to explain this movie I will post a trailer below. Not many people talked about the movie, but I loved it and the concepts within. Essentially it touches on  the very topics of cloning/souls/memory.


What are your thoughts on cloning? Do you believe they would have souls (Do you believe in the “soul”)? Have you ever seen The 6th Day? As aging, have you already noticed your ability to remember things begin to fade?

A to Z 2013 : QUOTES

(An A to Z 2013 Challenge Entry)

“In quoting others, we cite ourselves”
- Julio Cortázar

I thought I would take a relaxing moment and share some quotes. I’ve been up all night listening to developments in Boston, and it is depressing, exhausting but yet addicting. I need to tune out for a bit (I say as I have multiple live feeds and threads open on the incident). Some friends following along are in the same boat, but at least — unlike them — I got some sleep. It’s worth noting, though, I spent 4+ hours shoveling snow throughout the night.

I am a huge movie buff, so it is very common to find me quoting some of my favorite movie lines. I do the same from books and songs, but not as frequent. I’d like to think I am decent at creating my own phrases/words that eventually get used by those exposed to them; integrated into their daily dialog, sneaking in unexpectedly.

No real format here, just a few quotes I like. Short and sweet...

“The purpose of life is the expansion of happiness.”  - Deepak Chopra

“Love is the only reality and it is not a mere sentiment. It is the ultimate truth that lies at the heart of creation.” - Rabindranath Tagore

“All human beings are also dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind together.” - Jack Kerouac
“There are books full of great writing that don’t have very good stories. Read sometimes for the story… don’t be like the book-snobs who won’t do that. Read sometimes for the words—the language. Don’t be like the play-it-safers who won’t do that. But when you find a book that has both a good story and good words, treasure that book.” - Stephen King

“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”  - Stephen King

“I wonder if I’ll be held responsible for this.” - Lucas (Empire Records)

“What’s with today, today?” - Lucas (Empire Records)

“This place is dead anyways.” - Charles (Swingers)

And one I thought was pertinent (always) to recent events:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are hundreds more, but that would take ages to both put down and read. The movie quotes may seem “off” but they are some I’ve used countless times over the years.

Do you have a favorite quote and/or movie line? If so, what?