Memorable ‘Injuries’

By: Campbell Petschke

Peter Griffin GIF | Gfycat

Currently listening to: Holy Fire by Foals

Crack-a-lackin

Everyone has their own personal injuries and incidents. This could be broken bones, scrapes, infections, cuts, etc. As much as heartache may hurt your inside that is not what I am referring to this entry (I’ll give y’all a break this time). I’m talking about the brutal, gory, and cringe-inducing battle wounds. That slip on the floor and hitting a table, the slicing of a finger while chopping an eggplant, the bruising of the brain while sitting through Pitch Perfect 2. As this section suggests though, I personally am ‘crack-a-lackin’ yo… I’ve never shattered a bone nor had to get stitches. Better believe I am knocking on wood after writing about this content. It’s the equivalent of saying you never get sick and then you’re nearly passed out at home the next day cuddling a waste basket next to your four empty bottles of lemon-lime Gatorade and half eaten sleeve of Saltine crackers.

Side note, you know that first time you throw up and how it’s almost equally relieving and draining that first puke? Ever look down and just be like man what the hell was I thinking eating all this mess? It looks like a mix of Mountain Dew infused cottage cheese with mystery meat and ______ <- (Insert soup of choice here).

Side side note: Is it just me or is it really funny when people throw up and also the way that people around them react? It’s always a collective ‘awww uggggghhhhh’ like they feel bad. I don’t know maybe I’m just cruel in the moment.

Okay, back on track… INJURIES!

You Broke a Bone? Cute, I Skid My Knee on Playground Pavement…

So why write this entry at all? Well, it’s funny you didn’t ask. About a month ago I had an epic stumble that won awards of all sorts while running to my friend’s car to grab my keys that I forgot. I wrecked my left elbow, hands, and especially my side where I developed a bruise as big as a small child’s head. It looked like a really bad paintball incident or a shark bite without the bite. Bruce wishes he could bite like that. Anyhow, I’ve since recovered for the most part, but it once again made me realize how lucky I was to have just get bruised and not break anything vital. Like I said earlier I’ve never broken, fractured, or needed stitches. The closest I’ve been is oral stitches from the copious amounts of oral surgery. Man what a dorky injury. Oh you got ten stitches on your head from your helmet shattering in a motorcycle incident? Well, I got my wisdom teeth pulled buddy, get well soon I guess.

This’ll sound so stupid to those who have broken a bone or received stitches, but as a kid I was always kinda jealous of those who did have injuries like that. I thought crutches were the coolest thing since interactive classroom whiteboards. You got to leave class early to get to the bus or next class and you had a glimpse of stardom. Given I wasn’t always thinking with my head as a kid and factored in, you know, part of your body is getting fucked up and that’s how you get the privilege of using crutches. To put into perspective where my mind was at growing up, I just realized three years ago that the logo for Fifth-Third Bank was the fraction 5/3rd’s and not just a cool design. I also thought Michael’s was Michelle’s for a little bit there too, but anyhow.

Fifth Third Bank Assists Its Customers and Communities During the COVID-19  Pandemic | Diversity Best Practices
The logo that was so hard for me to decipher.

The Free Pass

I don’t know if anyone else struggled with this in school, but when it came to ice-breakers at the beginning of the school-year or new semester I could never put to words what they asked of me. Not to mention I had terrible public speaking anxiety when I was younger too. The popular question that seemed to always be asked was ‘What’s something special about you?’ Now obviously there’s a lot of things that are significant to my character, but when you’re stressed the hell out about it being your turn to speak next you can’t think of who you even are. I’m thinking ‘well uh I have two feet! Wait everyone has two feet, shit… Um I go to school! Dummy why do you think everyone’s here??’

The one thing I knew I could say was that I have vitiligo, which is the loss of pigmentation cells in the skin making some parts patchy and white. I said this one time for 6th grade language arts and everyone including the teacher was confused and kept asking questions. Now when you’re terrified of public speaking the last thing you want to do is stay standing with everyone staring at you being asked questions and being considered the kid with the weird skin (I always liked my vitiligo, but when you’re nervous you think the worst as a kid). In the moment I thought maybe if I shit myself I can just get myself out of this mortifying experience. That would make for a good icebreaker answer in the future too. ‘What’s special about me miss? Oh well I can literally defecate on command to get myself to get out of awkward situations.’ Okay maybe not, but it was always a thought.

So how does this all relate back to injuries? Kids that broke a bone or got stitches had it so easy. When asked what was special about them they could just say ‘oh I broke my arm’. *BOOM* done. Well some of us less fortunate kids didn’t break their arm in three places, a-hole. Then they’d get asked the fun follow up questions like where did it happen and how old were you? They’d get a level of respect in the teachers voice too. Of course I thought it was cool too *sighs*.

I Like Waking Up to the Smell of Bacon, Sue Me

When you do get injured though it is an opportunity to have your moment of sympathy or even respect from your peers. Whether you seek this out or not is up to you. I think back to moments like when someone I used to work with kept purposely holding their hand weirdly around people and ONLY when people were around. Obviously you want me to ask what is up with your hand. So I did and naturally his face lit up so he could tell his heroic story of how he beat up this drunk guy that was hitting on his girlfriend at a bar. So after I got his autograph I thought wow this poor guy… really wants his moment of fame.

When situations like that arise I always think back to one of my favorite episodes of The Office where Michael acts overly affected and injured from burning his foot on his George Foreman grill that he sets next to his bed in the morning. Why? To wake up to the smell of bacon of course. Meanwhile Dwight gets a concussion in an attempt to ‘save’ Michael from crashing into the front gate to the parking lot. Dwight acts like nothing happened, while Michael requests special treatment and comes into work with crutches.

While I’ve rarely come across situations like this in my life I can’t help but think of people in the past that have over-exaggerated their minor injuries. To put into perspective, while working at a restaurant one of my friends had hot cheese from a grill fly into his eye one time and didn’t tell anyone. He just said, “I’ll be right back” and didn’t find out until his shift was over. Meanwhile, a different person lightly bumps the counter-top with their hip and screams as if they got hot cheese in their eye. Don’t worry the person that bumped their hip survived. It’s just funny how some of us want the sympathy and attention from our injuries like I did when I was younger and some just want nothing to do with that attention and feeling of pity.

Day 1: Michael Scott | The Office Amino

The Final Punch

This entry was just something fun to write, nothing meant to be taken with serious intent. I like to think that most of us, when it comes to injuries, know a Michael Scott and know Dwight Schrutes too. Some of us want the sympathy to help feel better emotionally and feel validated and some of us just want to live another day without anyone noticing.

I’ve never been in a physical fight outside of a few times where I’ve had to defend a friend/significant other, but luckily I’ve avoided any massive confrontation and/or injury from this too or had it escalate. I tend to steer clear of that whenever I can, personally I feel like there’s more to life than giving someone else attention out of anger and giving them what they want. Instead I just passively think about it later… for the rest of my life. Not really, but I do think of what the potential consequences could be, such as injury.

Injuries aren’t especially something to be desired as I’ve learned the hard way. I don’t have many scars or burn marks on my skin nor do I have any weaker bone structure from breaking bones. The closest thing I get to that is when people see my somewhat patchy, vitiligo hands and feel prompted to ask when I got burned and how old I was when that happened. I’m never bothered, but it is not attention I seek in the least. If I really wanted that kind of attention I would’ve put a George Foreman grill by my bed years ago.

I’m probably gonna jinx my entire existence after this and have the most embarrassing injury known to man. I can see it now… the next article where I discuss me tripping while going up an escalator, pants get caught on the belt of it dragging that and my underwear off and end up smacking my head on the railing and someone stepping on my hand with their stilettos on accident. All while being arrested for unintentional public nudity. Stitches in my knuckle, broken collarbone, and fractured dignity.

Media Cited:

https://aminoapps.com/c/the-office-amino-us/page/blog/day-1-michael-scott/r3Q7_nofeuM55ErePYmdlRPmW3pbRblBx

https://www.diversitybestpractices.com/fifth-third-bank-assists-its-customers-and-communities-during-covid-19-pandemic

The Songs That Shaped Me: Raised By Wolves by Voxtrot

By: Campbell Petschke

Voxtrot Break Up - Stereogum
Indie-pop group Voxtrot.

Currently Listening to: Headcase by Day Wave

The Origin

If you’ve known me for any period of time on a musical level, you most likely know that I am a ride or die Spotify user. I thoroughly enjoy how much detail goes into their special curated playlists and how much they give back to the listener throughout the year and at the end of the year. However, I do use a free Apple Music trial whenever the opportunity arises because they unlike Spotify they are terrible at creating playlists specifically to your taste. I’ll listen to 15 minutes of The Strokes and get the “if you like The Strokes” playlist which contains All American Rejects and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Huh?! It makes no sense, but believe it or not I have found some gems this way. White Reaper is one of my favorite modern rock bands and I found them in a random playlist for listening to My Chemical Romance, no correlation whatsoever. This is also the case for Raised by Wolves by Voxtrot.

It was my cousin’s wedding day in 2018 and I was sitting on the couch at home awaiting instruction from my parents on what the plan was for travel. I would be driving separate from everyone else because work couldn’t give me the day off so I would have to leave the reception early while my family stayed out there in a hotel. While I was slumped on the sofa in my baggy sweat shirt and athletic shorts I realized that I hadn’t used my free trial on Apple Music so I thought, what better time to redeem this and inevitably forget to cancel it a month later than now. Through 20 minutes of solid listening I heard a few songs that really resonated with me, Can I Call You Tonight by Dayglow (that’s right I knew about this song before TikTok, catch up society) and Freaks by Surf Curse, which will receive this treatment sometime in the future too.

After a few misses comes this magnificent opening of “I was going hungry and lazy here when you stopped me in my tracks, I was going crazy I was desolate and ready to kill”. What follows is a soothing guitar driven track that relies heavily on the lead singer Ramesh Srivastrava (you have no idea how many times that auto-corrected to Sriracha) and his passionate, almost desperate vocals. I was really digging the playful, very 2000s sounding ballad, but wait what’s this? The song switches flow out of nowhere! Is this the same song? Most definitely. This isn’t the last time that the song pulls that too.

The nearly five minute track around the three and a half minute mark hits the bridge which is my favorite of all time, the buildup with the increasing clashing of the cymbals to the emotional pleas of desperation that feel as though he is removing his heart to the listener and shoving it in one’s ear holes. It is a beautiful moment in indie pop. After that follows a very jangle-pop closer (the other sound switch I was talking about!) that almost reminds me of Dreams by Fleetwood Mac even though the two songs don’t sound much alike. The song ended, but the goosebumps followed after.

Why This Song Stuck With Me

Voxtrot had always been a band that just hid in the background for me. I had just seen their short lived career on my dad’s iTunes library back when I used my iPod Classic which if they modernized I would buy it in a heartbeat. Around that time I was just listening to fairly mainstream alternative and 2000’s pop punk so in between my shitty Green Day songs and Fitz and the Tantrums I didn’t have time for what seemed like just another indie band. I wasn’t exactly into paying attention to lyrics at the time yet either, that would take me a few more years, so I am grateful for coming across Raised by Wolves when I did. Plus if I did come across this song back then I would’ve compared it to Raised by Wolves by Falling in Reverse which I probably would’ve thought was better at that time.

2018 was easily the worst year of my entire life. My mental health was at an all time low, school wasn’t going in the direction I had hoped and had to sacrifice my summer to retake a class I had failed, and I was beginning to realize what life was like after high school. Lonely, cold, and expensive. Those 4 for 4’s at Wendy’s add up quickly believe it or not. Those reasons mixed with a few other complications made me a more vulnerable person I think as a result. When it came to music though it was almost like this newly-found emotional state was my super power. I thought every heartache, strife, and struggle someone sang about deserved shouts of “yes they get me!”. They didn’t. I didn’t understand what they were going through and let alone myself until looking back on it years later.

Raised By Wolves just happened to say the right things at the right time. The relationship I was in at the time confused me and made me question a lot of my own personal feelings and perceptions. I felt as though this song guided me through the journey of his fractured relationship. The song starts by telling the story of a man who compares his desperation for love and attention to that of a hungry wolf and the supposed love interest is his prey. The issue? She wants nothing to do with him. She is leading him on because she doesn’t know what she wants and therefore doesn’t commit. What follows is a string of lyrics that journals his attempts to make her fall in love with him since she isn’t giving him reason not to do so. Whenever he goes in for the kill though, she resists and ghosts him. How could she?!

Ramesh then goes on into the chorus to say that he will never live like her, but she will probably die like him “all lovelessly and empty”. He is fed up with her bullshit, but persists. The kind of lyrics that make you wanna scream ‘don’t do it man!!’. She continues to toy with his emotions and he finally releases that gut punch of a bridge:

And oh, don’t you wanna love?
And don’t you wanna feel?
I remember, you were reckless, you were hungry, you were real
You were so uptight
Listen, I don’t mind
I feel like I’m watching a car crash
And oh, this is how it ends
You will watch your friends
Take a moment, take a nothing
Then they’ll put it in again

The second time I heard this I had to stop and evaluate my situation. I felt as though I played the role of both characters without even realizing. I was only around my former significant other because it was convenient, I preyed like a wolf and struck to feel ‘complete’. I had no clue what I wanted. I was only thinking about what would distract myself from the pain I was going through long enough. I gave my all while simultaneously deep down giving nothing at all for myself. It took me a long time to figure out that lesson and learning to sit with my thoughts and figure out what I wanted and what I needed. I felt like how the song suggested, young and stupid.

The Real Reason of Why This Song is Great

As stated earlier, when I first discovered this masterpiece of a track it was my cousin’s wedding day. I listened to that song twice and it was stuck in my head the entire day even through the songs at the reception. For whatever reason the Cha-Cha Slide didn’t hit me on an emotional level that day. What this song does symbolize for me is change.

I practically had 0 to do with the whole wedding, I had no role to play other than sitting in the chair and being there for my cousin and his wife, yet it felt like life changed that day. Maybe it was because it was the first official wedding I had ever attended and I was in awe. Maybe it was the fact that my cousin and his wife were moving out of state. Maybe it could’ve been that this was the first time I had driven to an event of this proportion by myself and not with my family. Whatever the reason may be I do remember that day note for note and it sticking with me for a good few months.

I recently told someone that if music was playing at a certain day or time in the past my memory would be more vivid. I could tell you where I was the first time I heard Mr Brightside by The Killers or Vampire Weekend’s debut. Voxtrot’s Raised by Wolves is the perfect example of that. It is nearly impossible to listen and not think of that June day in 2018 and the lasting impression that it left on me.

I Will Never Live Like You… Again

Raised by Wolves has slowly dethroned The Cure’s Just Like Heaven as my all-time favorite song. I can’t think of more than maybe five songs in my lifetime that have affected me on the level that this beautiful song has. I can’t think of more than two that have made me have an epiphany on the same level as this one either. I constantly refer back to this song as my sign of change. A lot of great things have happened since the first time I heard this song two years ago. I got out of community college and figured out my passions to study, I combated a lot of negative energy and people (not with fists I’m a lover not a fighter), but most importantly I learned how to better accept change.

What really prompted me to write this article was due to a recent listen of the track when it popped up in a playlist. I realized how important it is to not be like the guy or girl in the story of Raised by Wolves. It taught me not to pursue someone that isn’t going to reciprocate those feelings and share your understandings. It also taught me to take a step back more often and realize if what I’m doing is hurting people around me and my own health too. The woman in the song is self-destructive and selfish. She is uncertain of what she wants, but makes that the narrator’s problem too. The narrator is thinking with his heart and not his head. He is desperate to create a relationship and meaning from a foundation of practically air and dust particles.

I can say with confidence that after listening to this song again before writing this entry I truly feel as though the changes in my life that have occurred since first listen have helped me become a person I always wanted to be. I am nowhere close to achieving everything I want in life, nor will I be anytime soon but I have learned to appreciate the journey. The sign of a good song in my eyes is being able to take your own life and experience and apply it to the lyrics or being able to take away something else that may have nothing to do with it at all.

I have finally taken a much needed step back and evaluated what I really needed/wanted out of life. Right now I have a firm idea of where I want life to go and that feels great to just type. Raised by Wolves has paved this path for me that I feel like I was destined to follow. A path that not only taught me not to compensate happiness for acting out of desperation to get a quick thrill, but also to take any change good or bad with stride. I went from being young and stupid as the song suggests and less of feeling lovelessly and empty.

Sure I’m still young and stupid sometimes, but I’m learning. I am forever grateful for the people who stuck around during the duration between 2018 to now. You saw the parts of me that I don’t think anyone deserved to see, not even me. I have nothing but massive amounts of love for those who acted like Ramesh and never gave up on me. I promise I won’t be like the girl and neglect or ghost you or do coke to feel something. I’ll just listen to this song again for that.

Celebrity Manipulation

A Kardashian Family Khristmas: Kimye Give North $65,000 Present, Sia  Performs at Their Party & More | Billboard

Currently Listening to: La Di Da Di by Battles

Intro to Extroverts

Nowadays in the era of social media domination and the culmination of jobs that arise from the platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and most recently TikTok, celebrities and ‘influencers’ have been a mainstay and unstoppable force. These people use these platforms to not only sell themselves, but also to promote products and services. Lebron James will post pics of last nights’ game against the Trailblazers while simultaneously promote his sponsorship from Sprite. Addison Rae of TikTok fame will be seen performing a dance on the popular video app while also promoting her partnership with American Eagle wearing their specialty jeans. They all have the one mission in common, to gain followers and to make a profit. In darker terms to get you to obey them.

These seemingly untouchable celebrities have created such a powerful following and draw for people to be like them that they pretty much have the world under their thumb. With every tweet, promotion, and picture they expect you to follow their every move because they are the ‘standard’. Every grows up looking to be like their hero. Hell, as a kid I looked up to Spongebob because of how affable and funny he was and now he’s on fruit snacks and mac and cheese boxes? F*cking sell-out.

Through a mix of massive egos and facade of charisma, celebrities have found a way to sneak into our daily lives and try to influence our behavior… and we eat that shit up like a fat kid in Legoland. This kid in particular eats Legos don’t question his way of life.

Why Write This Article?

If you’ve known me in any capacity for at least three months you know that I’m not a fan of Hollywood culture and the social hierarchy that it poses. It’s all a game of status and popularity that we all think we want to achieve because celebrities make us feel as though in order to be universally loved, you have to follow their every move. Well, maybe not every celebrity tries this, but as long as they have a loyal fan-base their followers will still attempt to copy that behavior.

Sure, there are some seemingly genuine, popular public figures that I feel are necessary for a lot of people. People like Malala and even Chance the Rapper ooze positive energy and motivate you to do what you believe in. They exist with the intention to do good for themselves, but also for the good of their communities.

Then there’s the negative ones. This is the reason I write this entry. Tekashi 6ix9ine, Bella Thorne, and most notorious and malicious… the Kardashian/Jenners. These are the people that have made it big and pose as nothing but negative images to the youth and the people that observe them.

Insincerity and Fraud

There’s very little that I find more disgusting and degrading than when celebrities talk about the real world. Sure, some may have an understanding of how the world works and what it feels like to work your way up towards something bigger and better. In a lot of cases though it is just by knowing somebody. I can rip on the Kardashians all day, but honestly give any natural disaster or death of a public figure and one of them will put one singular tweet ‘pouring’ out their every heaving notion of ‘heartache’ and then the next day promote their brand like nothing happens. What they’re saying is ‘oh that’s sad, next’ and ‘that doesn’t affect me in any way so I’m just gonna pretend that I care just so people think I’m genuine and worldly’. No way man.

This past weekend is a perfect example of this accusation. Actor Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther and 42) passed away from colon cancer. He falls under the category of celebrity that I do believe has good intent. Through his roles of playing powerful black figures in history such as Jackie Robinson and James Brown and starring in Marvel’s first black lead superhero movie since Blade as Black Panther, he posed as a role model for many children and young adults as someone they could look up to and learn from. He never flashed his state of being or made his cancer public because it wasn’t about him. It was about what he could do and I think a lot of people recognized that.

So many A and B list celebs tweeted about Boseman this weekend, pouring out their condolences for him and his family. You know what though? I don’t buy it. I don’t believe any of the celebrities that tweeted, posted on Instagram, or put out statements. With the exception of Michael B. Jordan, who put out an extremely heartfelt tribute to his close friend and Black Panther co-star.

Timothee Chalamet simply tweeted out “oh fuck my heart is heavy I can’t believe this”. 325,000 likes… I can just imagine the e-girls eating that shit up like it’s glitter on the floor of Hot Topic. So many people posting pictures with him, simply for clout like ‘hey I know him! I know the dead guy! I took a picture with him!’ This is simply to build credibility and for you to believe that they care. It almost seems as though if you’re attractive and/or popular enough people will buy into what you say. Hmm…

The Halo Effect

If you are unfamiliar with this concept I’ll be the first to break it to you… No it’s not the way you felt after first hearing the Beyonce song (even if it did shape me into the man I am today). The halo effect is where you have this idea as if someone is above you, almost godly in some cases, and feel as though based on what life has taught you, to believe most of what they say and do to be justifiable and true. Why? Because status and the way that characters in sitcoms react when a celebrity makes a cameo in one episode. KISS ADAM SANDLER’S TOES BECAUSE HE WAS IN AN EPISODE OF UNDECLARED!! Anyhow, off the toes topic, celebrities invoke the halo effect into a lot of their followers. I’m also trying my best to not make this all about the media because at the root of it all, the media outlets are really the underlying threat here and well that’s an entry for another day. Regardless, let’s get down to the nitty gritty!

The Kardashian/Jenners

If you don’t wanna hear my somewhat educated rant on this god awful family then skip this section I won’t be hurt. So first off f*ck this family. I can’t think of a worse group of people to look up to if I tried. At least 6ix9ine built himself up from something small (not defending him in any way, he is gross too). The Kardashians got famous for two reasons: Bruce Jenner and the Ray J sex tape. Hey children! Engage in coitus and film it for the masses and boom popularity! Haha! In the words of Michael Scott “No! NOOOOOOOO!! God!”

These buffoons can literally get away with whatever they please and will NEVER get cancelled. Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad? Dismissed. Any breakup that any of them have? It’s never their fault. You don’t expect me to believe that it is always the other person’s fault do you media? Kanye West, as controversial and irrational as he is at times, suffers from bipolar disorder. He went on an all out rampage on Twitter one day saying that Kris Jenner and his wife Kim tried to send him to a mental institution without his permission. Um… that’s illegal. The next day, tweets deleted, Kanye apologizes, Kim posts a long post on Instagram saying about how much he has done for the family and how bipolar disorder affects lives. Are you using your husband’s illness as a platform to educate the public to make yourself look like an advocate for mental health? F*ck you Kim, seriously.

Worst part is we forgive them. They are without a doubt the most powerful family in the world. I say that with dismay and utter disappointment. I truly believe that whatever happens, they will rise back up again to live another day.

Conclusion and Confession

Look, I’m not perfect whatsoever. I look up to some people that aren’t the best role models. One of my all time favorite artists is Kanye and he is not the best person to take life advice from. I’ve bought Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s Teremana Tequila because I think he’s a positive role model for a lot of people (and that is some very smooth tequila). I follow some celebrity news and I love movies and TV. I can’t write an article like this without admitting my own faults and admiration. I think that we can learn a lot from the people in TV and movies.

Words are often interpreted in different ways, some positively and some otherwise. Something that someone says could not make any sense to some, but could mean the world to others. It doesn’t even have to be a celebrity. It could be a random dude at Jewel Osco in the checkout line or a motivational speaker at a school assembly.

To wrap this lengthy entry up, I firmly think that we should all be more considerate of the words we choose and our actions. We learn a lot from the world around us, through thick and thin we develop character and behavior through what we see and hear growing up. I think it is appalling that companies cash in on our idols to get us to believe in order for us to be like our heroes we have to shop like our heroes. Whether or not you choose to buy into that culture is totally up to you. I will not look at you any different since we all develop different values.

Through it all, do what makes you happy and do what will pay off in the long run. Stick to your morals and beliefs. Don’t let anyone tell you your standards or code of ethics is incorrect without rational reason or threat to your character. Whether you know it or not, you could end up being the idol for someone who needs the guidance without even knowing. We have more power in our words than we could ever believe. Be the hero that you would look up to.

The Last Year of Summer Vacations

Sheppard performing at Lolla 2015

Currently Listening to: Dear Catastrophe Waitress by Belle and Sebastian

The Ghost of Summers Past

I’ve never been a huge fan of Sunday nights. In my eyes, the weekend’s true ending was Saturday night. Sunday was always a laid back day nevertheless. The most rigorous summer Sundays mainly consisted of either yard-work or maybe an early shift at the restaurant. When it came to those nights, regardless of it was a school night or summer, there was always a sense of dread to accompany. Parents went back to work, kids went to school/work, and dog became lonely until around three in the afternoon.

One thing is for sure though, nothing was worse or better than that last night of summer vacation. I can pinpoint any year of school and be able to tell you if I was excited for it or not. Spoiler alert: anything after 8th grade was anything but thrilling. Not that being greeted to the scent of high school pubescence in the halls wasn’t wonderful its just that I’ll miss looking into my eyelids at 7am instead of the back of some kids head behind a patched up seat on the school bus.

One thing occurred to me while on a FaceTime call this past weekend though that lead me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth. Ready for this phrasing? This past Sunday was my last last day of summer vacation. After this there would be no more school year anticipation and anxiousness to keep my late night thoughts company while staring intently at the ceiling or the wall next to my bed. This year was especially different given the crumbling state of our country. Summer 2020 felt like a summer when I was in elementary school. The kind where I practically stayed at home for a majority of it, the only difference was that I had work and there was a sense of ‘hey I can potentially catch an incurable disease out here if I’m not careful, haha!’.

Bummer Staycation

I’m totally not alone when it comes to expectations of what this summer would’ve been if not for the covid-19 pandemic. In early February I was infatuated with the idea of barbecues, baseball games, dinners out with family and friends, swimming, beach trips… you get the picture. Think of every single stereotypical summer vacation idea and I had hoped the world that those summer days would be in the future. Given that nearly none of that happened and summer vacation just kind of blended in with the morbid online schooling of spring 2020 semester, I was pretty much ready for my last year of college.

Although I feel prepared for the year ahead and have come to terms (we’ll see how long it takes for that to change) with this being my last year of school I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed that I was deprived of my senior summer. I felt like a whiny 16 year old girl whose idea of her sweet sixteen was nothing as how it turned out. Only difference is that I couldn’t exactly do much about it and that I’m not a 16 year old girl (sure you’re glad I cleared that up).

As stated previously though, I have never really been ready for summer to end, but this year I totally was ready. That is in no way a bad thing though because ever since I transferred to a university my passion for learning has come around full circle. I actually adore school now. Just goes to show how a few good professors can really influence a student’s perception of attaining knowledge (shoutout to Professor Swan and Semali).

Summer 2020 was still nevertheless enjoyable for what it was. As an adult, the past few summers were a bit less magical than in years prior since as a kid summer is a sacred thing that can’t be touched. When you’re a kid the only three times you can’t mess with are video-gaming time, bedtime, and summertime. I guess you can argue dinnertime, but even as an adult if you mess with any mealtime we may have an issue at hand that can only be resolved with a sing-off or dance-off. In all seriousness don’t mess with my food EVER.

Doing Backstrokes in the Fountain of Youth

I would give thousands of dollars to regain childhood wonder and magic. Those summers of going to the waterpark on Sundays, going out on Friday nights with my family, seeing my grandparents Monday through Wednesday, and going to concerts are memories that I wouldn’t give up for all the money or 17 grain bread in the world (bread isn’t exactly currency I just really like 17 grain bread). I always looked forward to the next adventure, the next activity, the next trip to the park, the next time I would get to go to Target. I just looked forward to any sort of summer excursion no matter what it was.

This isn’t to say that I don’t see magic in anything anymore. I still get excited to see my family, to go out with friends, to go on dates, even to see my coworkers. Finding the beauty in little everyday activities is the biggest relief of dopamine I could possibly fathom. Writing this entry itself gives me so much joy and comfort with how easily I can write this and not feel any weight of life push down on my sore shoulders.

Adulthood and childhood are two entirely separate entities and that goes without question or even a second thought. Both have their perks and their strains, but I will always have a special place in my heart for that wonder I felt on many summer activities in the past. The enthralling rush of anxiety I would feel before pitching a baseball game, the wonder I felt taking the train to the city and seeing the skyline, the beauty of seeing the lake front in the distance driving up the dunes, the euphoria I felt for my childhood friends whenever we would meet up with each other… I’ll just never take those memories for granted.

Looking Ahead

So even though this is was my last last day of summer and my last first day of school I can’t help but feel optimistic for future summers. Sure, it’ll most likely blend in with most other days given that schooling will be a soon memory of the past, but I have high hopes of what those days will consist of. The one thing I think about often is how much I appreciate how my parents introduced my siblings and I to so many different activities and places. I think about how when I have kids how excited I’ll be to take them on small adventures and do little activities that hopefully invoke some sort of love with each day that follows. To create traditions that follow for years to come. Even if the ‘childhood wonder’ is a thing of the past for me I’m sure it’ll feel just as good to give that feeling to my kids one day. In the meantime, I’ll stay content with the excitement I feel every time I see a cool sunset or come across a cute dog. I promise my life is more exciting than this heheh *sweats nervously*.

The Songs That Shaped Me: Dance Yrself Clean by LCD Soundsystem

This is the first entry in a series that captures what songs have shaped me into the person I am today. This could be contributed to my taste musically or just shaped me as personality wise.

Where It All Began

It was the first or second day of junior year in high school. I was sitting in the main gym on the steep, tan, stow away bleachers awaiting my fate of what type of gym class I would be get to take part in. Do I be ballsy and aim for the class that goes on frequent field trips, risking my chances of the second or third choice or do I play it safe and head to the team sports line? Either way I’m not going to get stuck in ‘walking P.E.’ with the rejects of 16 and Pregnant and all the too good for gym class kids.

While I awaited the inevitable hell of racing towards the front half of the gym, I decided to pop in my tangled, nearly frayed and browned Apple earbuds and search for an album to listen to. I was scrolling through my recommended page on Apple Music (I was a fool at the time, forgive me Spotify) and came across LCD Soundsystem. I had never heard of them before, but the name was intriguing enough to catch my interest. I decided to choose This is Happening as the album of choice. What I didn’t realize is that the wi-fi at my school was such shit it wouldn’t let me play the album without downloading it first. By the time the first track was done downloading class was over. Didn’t even matter.

I walk past the stench of cannabis and fresh Axe body spray to get to the narrow, mustard yellow school bus, which had a weird black fade to it making it resemble a very old banana peel. The bus and banana peels are also alike because I don’t care much for what is inside of them.

I plop myself down on the patched up seat next to some kid who probably wanted no part of me and decided to give this song, Dance Yrself Clean, a try for the way home. I understand why it took so long to download the song, it was nearly nine minutes!! For me at the time I was unaccustomed to songs longer than five minutes. Reluctantly, yet curious I pressed play.

The first few minutes I thought my volume was broken because, well, Apple earbuds suck. Turns out they weren’t broken. I thought the song was pretty minimalist, but enjoyable. It wasn’t until the 3:06 part of the song that my world was flipped forever. The beat drop that opened my eyes to a whole new world of music. I got instant chills. Singer James Murphy screams:

“Don’t you want for me to wake up?
Then give me just a bit of your time
Arguments are made from make outs
So give it just a little more time”

What?

That’s so stupid, but awesome!!

It took the whole ride home to finish the song, but it was the most memorable bus ride I ever had.

Why It’s So Great

LCD Soundsystem is no stranger to making deep cutting, relatable tracks that speak to people of all ages. Topics like aging and losing passion in what you’re doing now that you’re forced to do it. Dance Yrself Clean is all about relieving yourself of all the bullshit that’s around you, even if it is stuff that once made you who you are. It’s an emotional tune with one of the most passionate vocal performances that Murphy has ever produced. In an interview with NME, at the first breakdown of the song where he belts at a higher pitch he says that it wrecked his vocal chords. He even had to take steroids to prevent further pain recording the rest of the album.

Dance Yrself Clean of course speaks a lot of what my dad an I always call simple truths (moments where you’re like ‘huh yeah that’s sad, but kinda true’), but also with the instrumentation. In the buildup to the first breakdown another layer of sounds pile onto each following verse. Every time I listen to it I get the same level of excitement that most people have leading up to the guitar breakdown in the latter half of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s so emotionally prevalent and hard-hitting in all the right ways.

The Lasting Effect

Dance Yrslef Clean and This is Happening in general opened up this whole world of mid-2000’s indie music to my attention. I would discover groups like Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio, and Animal Collective to name a few. It also introduced me to the genre of dance-punk. One of my favorite groups in my high school years, Death From Above, fit this category perfectly and was in frequent rotation.

This also marked the point in my life where people were very judgmental of my music taste. My junior year history teacher was very fond of me and let me pick a Pandora station for the class to listen to while doing group work. I chose another song from LCD’s album, I Can Change. I received so much shit so fast. Collective ‘what is this?’, ‘can you pick something else?’, ‘Miss? Can I pick something else?’ spread like wildfire throughout the classroom. I probably just put on ‘Mr Brightside radio’ and that appeased the haters.

The summer following I was lucky enough to see LCD’s reunion tour at Lollapalooza and Dance Yrself Clean was the greatest moment in concert history in my eyes. It also was the day before I started the best job of my life. I have so many fond memories of LCD and that song. It is easily in my top ten all time favorites and wouldn’t put it anywhere else.

Remember, just because a whole classroom of 60 kids had a negative reaction to your song choice, doesn’t mean your song isn’t special. You don’t want those stupid teens to like it anyways. They’ll be jealous of your taste in a few years when they catch up to your maturity.

I Read a Book!

No this wasn’t written by a four-year old…

Currently Listening to: Self-Titled by James Blake

Quarantine has motivated me to pursue a number of things I felt I never had the time to do in everyday life prior. I started to work out regularly, I began to write again, started learning about spirituality, but my favorite thing I did over quarantine was read. Books and I have a complicated relationship. We dropped off for a number of years after introducing me to the characters in the atrocity known as Lord of the Flies. That was the last book that I ever read front to back and that was nearly six years ago. This was a massive downgrade after reading To Kill a Mockingbird, which is still my absolute favorite, for sophomore English. Ever since then it was either SparkNotes or page skimming.

They say that school kills creative ambition and halts kids from branching off into their own person. I mostly agree with that… to an extent. Up until college you are kind of kept to a strict enrichment diet of nearly impossible math homework unless you’re a child prodigy, nearly impossible math homework disguised as science classes, and being forced to read books you have no desire to read. Don’t get me wrong some of this curriculum is super great for reading into context and searching for deeper meanings of life. Without my senior year speech and composition classes I wouldn’t be half the person I am today. It helped me a lot with my public speaking and my essay writing. TKAM taught me a bunch of lessons about life and how to properly tell a legit story. Math brought me deepest meaning of all. How deeply I meant it when I said I wanted to drop out during calculus. Thank god I didn’t, but I digress.

What made To Kill A Mockingbird so great for me was that it educated me on a timeless lesson of racism in America and how to flesh out extremely likable and memorable characters. I wanted all books to be like this. I found a book that I actually wanted to know everything about and study in depth. Sadly, I never picked up a book like that again. That is until my friend loaned me The Truth by Neil Strauss, a writer for Rolling Stone magazine.

The Truth was a bold name for a book that also happened to take on the appearance of a white bible. Underneath the title was the subtitle in gold print “an uncomfortable book about relationships”. Who does this guy think he is? The Jesus of heartbreak? Turns out yeah he kinda is the Jesus of heartbreak. The book is an autobiography about how Neil once had the perfect woman, Ingrid, and blew it all for a one night stand. He then seeks out rehab for sex addicts and learns to love and appreciate what is around him… or so he thinks. His entire world seems to crumble around him as he digs deeper into what he thinks he wants out of his life. The book reads like the most insane romance novel ever written. Even Nicholas Sparks would be like ‘man this is fucked up’. There’s a ton of twists and turns and points where it felt like I was reading about a fantasy. On the way though he has a lot of wisdom to share and it’s all valuable information.

Strauss also wrote a book called The Game, which is about picking up women and serves as the polar opposite to The Truth. It is frequently referenced in The Truth that there’s a lot that he regrets in writing that book and how what he learned while researching for it brought him to where he is today.

So why did a book about a guy who is confused about typical relationship structure and has a sex addiction connect with me so much? It is because I love sex SO MUCH! Actually no, it is the journey that he goes on and where I was in life when I first began reading it. When I first was recommended The Truth, I was in a bad place. I had very little faith in the world of romance since my perception and track record was kinda damaged. Someone I had deeply trusted betrayed me and turned on me out of nowhere. I developed what some may call ‘trust issues’ and it took a toll on me no doubt.

Reading this book was part of my recovery. When you can relate to such a deep emotion such as love and attraction with anyone it engulfs you. That connection feels tangible. Though I didn’t go anywhere near the scale of Neil’s adventure, I felt as though I knew how he was feeling and he understood the type of reader that would pick up this book. I believe that it was meant for people like me at the time.

In my mind, that is what makes a book so great. I feel as though that is why people often say movies that are adapted from books never do the source material justice. When I pick up a book and I read a paragraph or read into a scenario I try to envision what that would look like in real life. If I can connect it to something in my imagination and in my vision versus what it actually looks like on the screen through someone else’s eyes I feel as though I gained more from it.

Schools rightfully should let their students pick their reading material and let them find their own story and meaning from it instead of following a rubric and having to search back through the book for quotes. It should be about what you can learn from what the author has to say and not what the teachers say. If students were allowed to pick up a book that catches their interest and end up having an experience like I did while reading The Truth, then I would have fallen in love for English class year after year.

Is There a Connection Between TikTok and ADHD?

In 2012, the world was bestowed a new way to make kids excited and adults groan. This time instead of hacky sacks or JUULs, it was an app that was taking the world by storm. This app was known as… Angry Birds Space. OH GOD NO!! Just kidding, it’s TikTok. Man, do I hate this app, but I also kinda love it? Let me explain

Background

If you have never heard of this abomination before let someone who probably isn’t the right demographic break it down for ya. TikTok is an app that started back in 2012, but didn’t really gain a ton of popularity until 2018 when it merged with the ACTUAL worst app of all time, Musical.ly, an app where the douchey, Hollister model kids would lip-sync to the worst shit you could find on Top 40 radio. The app was mostly just an internet joke to a lot of people. For some reason though, once it merged with TikTok everyone flipped and raved over the app making it the most downloaded app of 2018 and 2019. The platform provided ways to combine the old Musical.ly lip-syncing with dance trends, comedy, weird talents, and advertising too comprised in a 60 second video.

Speaking of advertising, the advertising team behind this app deserves massive props because I could not avoid their ads if I tried. Watching YouTube? BOOM! Six seconds of unskippable, cringe-inducing TikTok ads. Scrolling through your Snapchat stories? BOOM! You get a ten second clip of a girl lip-syncing from Good Luck Charlie. Even on free app store games I would get interrupted by a duet video of two guys admiring a girl from behind putting up her ponytail only to be shocked that the girl was actually a dude. Ugh…

My Downfall

It wasn’t until last summer that TikTok kind of made its way into my generations’ phones. I couldn’t tell if it was ironic at first, but then I would be shown videos on the app from some of my coworkers and some of my friends had it too. Some of it was surprisingly hilarious. I kept trying to convince myself, no Campbell, don’t do it. You’re better than this. When I returned to college, to my dismay, my roommates would practice dances and quote all the annoying phrases that would pop up in viral trends. I didn’t mind. As long as I wasn’t a part of it that’s totally okay. So now I’ve had TikTok for five months and I still hate it, but it’s so bad that it’s good.

I had become what I had feared for months. I spent hours watching stupid clips of people doing different variations of Spongebob scenes, Donald Duck impressions, putting their mouths over a two-liter of Diet Coke with Mentos in it. It would be about midnight and that is prime time for scrolling through this irresistible bullshit. It is also the worst time to scroll through it. On multiple occasions my roommates would ask why I’m so tired. My answer was always TikTok *shudders*.

Why Write This Article?

I know at this point we are all sick of COVID talk, but quarantine inspired me to write this article. This time in isolation has helped me notice things about me that I didn’t realize before. While still in online school, I would sometimes not be able to sleep at night and sometimes have small anxiety attacks. I’ve spent so much time in my room for hours before so what makes it different? Besides the obvious reason for quarantine, I think my attention span has shrunk. I don’t know if this is solely due to this time period or if it was a growing thing overtime, but I knew something was up.

In a film class I took a few semesters ago, my professor had proposed a conversation about movie length. With the release of Avengers: Endgame last year, the length of the movie became a hot topic. The movie clocked in a little past three hours, which is pretty long for any film to be fair. My professor proposed the idea that our society nowadays has an increased amount of people with ADHD or behavior at least, which puts a blame on technology and television to an extent. The amount of quick cuts that is inserted into TV nowadays is ridiculous if you really pay attention to it. Take a look at commercials for sitcoms. CBS will air Thursday night promos that are all formatted the same way: quick cut, laugh tracked, and with at least two jokes. All under 30 seconds. Songs and albums too are often overlooked if their runtime is too long.

Do I think I have ADHD? No. I don’t think I do. I think that being contained may have made me feel squirmy and uncomfortable as I’m sure it has with others too. The connection between this and TikTok is the amount of content and algorithms that are presented on the app. TikTok has something I call a “like based” algorithm meaning it will cater recommended videos based on what you like and who you follow. It will rarely exit outside that territory. The front page when you open the app is the “For You” page, which presents this addictive quality since the app ‘knows you’ and what you like. I like a lot of dark-comedy and music related posts, so that’s exactly what I’ll get in my For You page.

Users are constantly uploading content everyday and some even have this as their full-time jobs (which is the biggest load of garbage). To make things even more inconvenient, it also uses location so it’ll recommend people in your state or even area in your For You page.

The Threat

TikTok is almost too user friendly. All this fast paced content coming all at once in under a minute can totally contribute to some attention issues in the future, especially with the younger users. These videos aren’t always 60 seconds, some could be less than ten or even three on rare occasions. It could be possible that this could develop impatience in longer videos or content that isn’t straight to the point. This was a problem with Vine when it was at its peak too. That platform was usually just seven seconds at most. I also spent hours on Vine too back in high school, but for some reason TikTok feels different. Who knows why that is, but there’s probably someone smarter out there that can give a better answer than me.

Conclusion

TikTok is an app that is equal parts toxic and addictive. I think that it is a great way for companies and celebrities to reach out to kids and teens alike. It’s also a great way to spread your talents and abilities. Many artists have found good fame with their songs being used as background in videos. I would’ve never found out about the artist SALES if it weren’t for the song Chinese New Year trending on the app. Artists like DaBaby, Doja Cat, and even Matthew Wilder from the 80’s has seen a growth in popularity thanks to the app.

The way I see it, TikTok is like alcohol or junk food, better in small doses. It’s okay to have it every once in a while, but if used in excess it might end up causing long term effects on the body and mind. I try to only use the app once a day for 30 minutes at most. There’s so many more important things we all could be doing than watching someone else do something. Get off your butt and climb a tree kid. Get out of bed dude, it’s 3 p.m. and you’re watching videos of kids blowing up water bottles. Wake up girl, you fell asleep to people hydro-dipping their AirPod cases.

Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk I’ll do autographs in the tent outside the venue.

One of my favorite tracks from TikTok:

MGMT Albums Ranked

MGMT (or Management as some weirdos call them) has been making a splash in the indie-pop world since the mid 2000’s with the popularity of tracks like Kids and Time to Pretend. Growing up I always resonated with the song Kids. I had made a friend in middle school purely out of both of us knowing it. Out of curiosity I did what I always did when I liked a song from the 2000’s and checked my dad’s iTunes library and hope that he bought the album, Oracular Spectacular. Luckily, he did. I tried downloading the album to my iPod Touch, but since I had an obsession with free app store arcade games I could only download half the album. The rest is history. I have loved the band for nearly a decade now and with the release of a few new singles recently, I thought I would revisit their discography. So here’s my definitive ranking of a pretty wacky album collection.

4. MGMT (Self-Titled)

MGMT (album) - Wikipedia

While there’s nothing really offensively bad about MGMT’s third album, there’s just a lot missing. The charisma, the fun, there’s just no Kids or Brian Eno… The album starts off with a lot of promise. Alien Days and Cool Song No. 2 are among some of MGMT’s best. I loved the lo-fi sound that they were playing around with. Sadly, this was very much a one-trick-pony. The rest of the track-list collapses into each other. MGMT has always been very good at mixing up their sounds on their records in the past. You can tell when an album is amazing when you can hear the beginning of any song and say “oh I remember this one!” Maybe not out loud, but you get it. This can be said about nearly all of their other works. It also seems to be the only entry that lacks a theme. You can argue that it is an outcry to society and how people are sort of wasting life away, but it’s not continuous throughout (especially when another album does this better). With the record label failure and poor reception that Congratulations delivered, it wasn’t looking good for MGMT. This album was perceived as their worst to date. As stated previously, I don’t think it is bad at all it just lacks the personality and quirk that made me fall for the band in the first place.

Bump This: Alien Days, Cool Song No. 2, Introspection

Dump This: Plenty of Girls in the Sea

3. Congratulations

Congratulations (album) - Wikipedia

Regardless of how you feel about the album itself, you can’t deny… This album art kicks ass. I wasn’t really the fan of MGMT that I am now back when Congratulations dropped in 2010. I can honestly say though if I had been listening to Oracular Spectacular and patiently awaited for their next album to drop with all that anticipation, I would’ve been let down. Thankfully, I didn’t live through that and I really enjoy their sophomore outing. To connect back to the album cover, I’ve always believed that a record was better if the art matched the music. It’s just so wacky with a hint of psychedelic coloring that makes it memorable. Whenever I think of MGMT I see this album art. Congratulations ditches the sound that made them skyrocket to popularity and goes for a more psychedelic rock sound. Songs like Flash Delirium and I Found a Whistle are living proof that they changed their intentions. It’s no secret that the band’s art is heavily influenced by drugs. The album is basically one big acid trip for the duo as they make a show of how getting lost in your high can be a dangerous, yet mind expanding experience. Can’t argue there if you get results like this. The mother of all trips has to be Siberian Breaks which feels like three different songs in one and rocks! The nearly 13 minute track feels like a journey through space and alternative rock.

What I love about the band is also the reason this album doesn’t resonate as well as other albums of theirs and that is they’ll do whatever they want as long as they like it. Sure everything on here is great, but it’s kind of one big insult too. The people that really connected with songs like Kids, Time to Pretend, and Electric Feel were not welcomed on an album like this. In promotion for the record the lead vocalist, Andrew VanWyngarden, said they created the album with the intent that no one would be able to take a few key singles and just run away. He wanted to create something that requires a full album listen. Ben Goldwasser (other half of MGMT) also said hinted at this idea in an interview with Spinner discussing Brian Eno and the track named after him. He said that he admired how Eno would create the kind of music that nobody would’ve expected from him next “just because”.

Congratulations is a great record, but what prevents it from being ranked higher is the bigger ideas that the other albums present. I enjoy the album a lot it’s just not one I return to as much as the others.

Bump It: I Found a Whistle, Brian Eno, Siberian Breaks, Congratulations

Dump It: N/A

2. Oracular Spectacular

Oracular Spectacular - Wikipedia

The one that would inspire fans and other artists alike. Oracular Spectacular is a once in a decade kind of record. I always get this video whenever I visit Genius’s website called “MGMT’s Impact on Hip-Hop” and every time I see it I think, yeah this album really created something new. Of course when I see the thumbnail of the video I always am reminded of the iconic collaboration between them, Ratatat, and Kid Cudi on ‘Pursuit of Happiness’. Their influence is especially visible on this track and a few others on Cudi’s debut record, Man on the Moon: The End of Day.

There is a reason that 12 year old me wanted anything and everything to do with this album when I first listened to it. The synths and vocals were the definition of infectious. Remember earlier when I said that the sign of a good album is being able to recall any track and say “oh I remember this one” out loud like a weirdo? This is what I was referring to because every track on Oracular Spectacular has something significant about it that makes the album’s journey all more interesting. Time to Pretend has that grimy, slow melodic keyboard opening, Electric Feel has that steel drum sound and drum beat that progresses into the first chorus, Of Moons, Birds, and Monsters has the subtle The Killers synth lurking in the background and the fun bird chirps, and of course Kids has that amazing breakdown at the end and the now iconic beat that everyone has fallen in love with.

The drumming on this album has to be mentioned. Radiohead’s, In Rainbows, has Philip Selway’s drumming on full display, more than other albums of theirs. This is MGMT’s In Rainbows. The drum work on tracks like Electric Feel and Weekend Wars are impossible to fall for. Try not tapping your feet to the beat of half of these songs. My favorite example of how outstanding a role the drums play on this record is in Kids. My god, what a show. While it plays a predominant role in the chorus and the bridge/breakdown in the middle, my favorite part has always been at the end. The chorus is repeated about three times until the last time when the drumming gets louder and forceful. Talk about goosebumps.

What makes this album so great is its sense of nostalgia and aspiration. Kids and Youth are the obvious poster children for this idea of not taking your youth for granted and what the threat of adapting to social norms and stereotypical lifestyles will do to you. This theme along with drug induced states of mind and growing up are clearly somethings that resonate not only through their debut album, but their entire discography to date.

I adore Oracular Spectacular in every way possible. It is a greatest hits collection. Every time I return to this album or hear Electric Feel on the radio I am reminded of the effect it had on me growing up. Kids and Time to Pretend are among my all time favorite songs. Anyone should check this album out. There’s a reason that MGMT didn’t like how awesome this was.

Bump It: Kids, Weekend Wars, Electric Feel, Of Moons, Birds, and Monsters, Time to Pretend, Youth

Dump It: Are you kidding? Why even look here?

  1. Little Dark Age
Little Dark Age - Wikipedia

I never thought that Oracular Spectacular would be topped, especially after their self-titled didn’t do a lot for me. This changed when Little Dark Age dropped. I hadn’t heard any singles prior to the album drop so I went in completely blind. Upon the first five seconds of She Works Out Too Much I thought wow… this sounds a lot like Ariel Pink. At the time I had an obsession with his album Pom Pom and it definitely made me skeptical. That was until I found out that Ariel Pink was credited on the record. Not that it would’ve affected my overall view of the album, just seemed interesting at first. Anyhow! Let’s discuss why this is MGMT’s best record.

Everything I could have ever asked for is on Little Dark Age. The awesome synths are back, the passion is clearly visible, the topical aspects are very of the moment, the vocals are as great as they’ve ever been, and above all it is very weird. She Works Out too Much is a prime example of this. How weird is it to start off the record with a song about not working out and a women telling you “the only reason it never worked out was you never worked out enough”? Well, that’s what is great about this record. On its own, this track is amazing, maybe even their second best song next to Kids, but the song along with others discusses relationship issues and something I like to call lazy culture.

Lazy culture is a theme that isn’t brought up a lot in music. There’s this lazy component to society nowadays that makes us feel like life must come to us before we attempt to go forth on our own. In the case of She Works Out too Much, that is not willing to commit to the relationship because in his eyes he is looking for an issue with his significant other (working out) so that he does not have to put in the effort. These ideas are also explored in TSLAMP (Time Spent Looking at my Phone) and Days that Got Away.

To further this idea of lazy culture, depression is definitely a cause of all this. Most of Little Dark Age is spent analyzing how culture and politics have corrupted us into these sad, mopey beings that just go with life as is and are strangely okay with that. Little Dark Age (the song) discusses these themes as hiding behind things like music and humor to disguise happiness. This idea leads into other tracks like When You Die which has an awesome, playful guitar riff in the background at the beginning only to lead into topics of suicide and loneliness. Yikes.

As much as I don’t wanna write about politics, this album wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the 2016 election. Therefore we have to power through it. The track Hand it Over is about Trump and his condescending nature, almost them feel powerless. There that’s all I am going to say about it. However! What I think really seals the deal on this record is how ‘of the moment’ it was when it came out and how it still remains relevant to this day. The album is able to discuss politics, laziness, being distracted by technology (TSLAMP, Days that Got Away), and depression (Little Dark Age, When You Die, One Thing Left to Try, When You’re Small) and not make it the corniest thing you’ve ever heard. You can tell that MGMT thought these things through before putting it together. This didn’t just pop out of nowhere in 2016, this has been existent for a long while.

Little Dark Age also has some of the duo’s most emotional songs they’ve ever written. When You Die and One Thing Left to Try are very powerful moments. One verse in particular talks about the narrator looking into the fire, letting the darkness of night take over and have him realize he has one thing left to try to make him feel alive again. Committing suicide.

Little Dark Age is MGMT’s best album because it saved themselves as a band and brought the best parts of themselves to the table while creating new things we haven’t seen before. The instrumentals are great, the lyrics are truthful and emotional in the best way, and the relevance of the themes discussed will resonate for years, not just for me, but for someone who may need to hear the words that Andrew and Ben have to say.

Bump It: The whole thing

Dump It: Trump

Now what?

There have been a handful of occasions in my life where I ask myself the title of this article. Chances are you’ve asked yourself this question too. Maybe not out loud, but you’ve at least thought it. I have been wanting to write this entry for a while, but didn’t know how to go about it at first. I think with everything that is going on with the Coronavirus in the world today that writing this couldn’t feel more appropriate since a lot of us I’m sure are asking ourselves and our government “now what?”

This phrase may be a good thing. The one time I frequently associate with this feeling is when I first moved out to college. My mom and girlfriend at the time, as well as some douchey frat boys who I’m sure were just trying to get their service hours in, spent all morning dropping off boxes and bags upstairs into my dorm. When it finally came time to say goodbye, I gave my hugs and walked up the never-ending staircase because the elevators were broken (one of many times throughout the semester) and dropped my last bag onto the floor.

I remember looking around my room, scanning over the cardboard boxes and scissors I would inevitably have to access and then looking out my window. I stared intensely out the halfway jammed window and slightly yellowed window into the distance of the roadways and full parking lot. I returned into consciousness and thinking those magic words “now what”. I had never lived away from my family or my hometown, at least from memory, in my life. I left behind my job that I had worked at for three years, all of my closest friends and family, and my significant other who I was with nearly every single day at the time. I knew nobody who lived out here and I felt completely lost.

At the very least I was optimistic and entranced with the idea of starting this new chapter in my life. Luckily this turned to my benefit, but that’s for another entry. Point is, thinking “now what” is something that in my eyes should be asked more frequently. Not knowing what to do or what to expect is something that should be treasured. It’s fun to not know what is going to happen next. That is what makes books and movies most interesting. The suspense and curiosity is what makes life more lively.

However, there are some cases where “now what” can be seen as a phrase of hopelessness. Two examples come to mind when I think of a bad case of this seemingly hopeless question. The first being a more relevant example and that is the COVID-19 pandemic and the other being Avengers Infinity War, which in my eyes is just as vital.

With Coronavirus being something that absolutely NO ONE expected to come out of this new decade a lot of us are caught with our pants down. Raise your hand if you have never been through something like this before. 1… 2… 3… see at least the three people that will actually read this haven’t seen something like this before. With Stay-at-home orders dates that seem to only extend every other week and a diagnosis rate that only rises by the minute a lot, if not all of us have no idea what is going to become of this. Will it end?! Will I get to enjoy a frozen strawberry lemonade from McDonalds outside this summer? Will I get to see David Ross manage the Chicago Cubs for the very first time? Will I ever find true love???

The answers to all of those questions (hopefully the last one too) is yes. As bad as it may seem right now, things will turn around. Having this time to ourselves inside (if you aren’t inside then stop reading this and read the news dumbass) is a blessing in disguise. Sure, we are all probably wondering “now what” by the hour, but so much good can come from this “now what” situation. I firmly believe that as soon as the coast is clear or at least safe enough, a lot of us will not take our outdoor privileges for granted anymore. So many times I would come home from school or work and just collapse. Collapse into my bed and into the world of social media and Netflix marathons. This clearly isn’t a healthy lifestyle, but being forced to stay inside really makes me want to be outside. Maybe it is just humans natural crave to want what we can’t have, but I seriously don’t ever just want to spend a whole day inside unless I have to anymore.

On a less serious note, when I saw Avengers Infinity War I also asked the question “now what?” *SPOILERS* When Thanos snaps and wipes out half of the world’s population and just disappears, leaving all the superheroes speechless and just ending the film minutes after. This was just shocking, the bad guy won, and it seemed hopeless for the characters and the audience. I truthfully didn’t know what was going to happen after that.

When it comes to entertainment media, this question isn’t nearly as threatening as in real life, but I feel as though there is a lot we can learn from these forms of entertainment. To ask ourselves these questions like “now what” or “what happens next” leads to creative thinking and critiquing of what is to come. This is obviously a good thing.

I guess the main point I am trying to get across is don’t lose hope and asking the what ifs and focus more on the present or the “NOW whats”. There is a lot that we can learn about ourselves and each other by questioning where life will take us next.

Why ‘Us’ Should’ve Been Nominated for Best Picture

Jordan Peele has proven that he has the chops to produce, act, and front a major motion picture. In 2016, which seems like ages ago now, I went to the theater and saw the comedy Keanu, which he starred in, wrote, and co-produced. To this day it is still one of the funniest, underrated comedies in recent history. A year later he put out what many consider to be a modern horror classic and magnum opus, Get Out. I was skeptical of all the hype until I saw it as an in-flight movie. I understood the hype. Peele managed to create a film that both entertained and educated. Educated the public about what I’m sure there’s a better phrasing for, but I am going to say as ‘racial ignorance’. If you haven’t seen the movie *spoiler alert* the family in the movie tries to ‘be black’ and tries to get Kaluuya’s brain so he can see the world in his eyes. What an interesting idea for a movie! I didn’t think the movie was perfect, but it was very entertaining and original. Everyone I knew had seen this movie and very few disliked it. So you can imagine the excitement my friends and I had when the trailer for Us came out.

The trailer for Us gave off a terrifying, slasher movie vibe promoting the golden scissors the villains use in the film as murder weapons. A Jordan Peele slasher film? Sounds awesome. When the day finally came for Us to come out though, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Not only is Us better than Get Out, I think it is a perfect movie. The whole time I was watching Us I kept thinking “Woah this is really Hitchcock”. There are so many layers to this film that it almost demands a second or even third viewing. The setup is simple, a family all goes to the beach for a vacation where the mom (played by Lupita Nyong’o) used to go as a kid. However, when she was a child she had a very traumatic experience that left her scared of ever returning to the beach. Everything seems normal until one night a group of doppelgangers clad in maroon jumpsuits and bearing golden scissors comes to their vacation home at night.

Simple, right? WRONG. This film is different and eerie from the start. This is mainly credited to the amazing set design and performances from the kid actors. The boardwalk at night just terrifies and is grim from the start. Even teasing the situation is a Michael Jackson Thriller shirt that is won at the boardwalk. Nyong’o’s character ventures underneath the boardwalk to an unattended, house of mirrors like maze. There she walks down the dark, narrow hallways and eventually runs into a clone of herself where the last thing you see and hear is the child actors wide, shocked expression in utter silence. Then it cuts to the main plot. That is all you are given.

The best mystery and horror films lead with a question. Films like Poltergeist, the first Insidious, and Rosemary’s Baby come to mind. They all have these beginnings that shake you and make you question meaning and what is going to happen next. Us makes you question MULTIPLE things within the first 20 minutes. What happened at the boardwalk? Why does the boy always wear that mask? Why are these doppelgangers trying to attack them? Why does the mom snap off-beat to I Got Five on It? So many questions raced through my head while watching.

From there we are treated to amazing acting, wonderful film editing, memorable settings, a great set of villains, great usage of symbolism, and an amazing plot-twist that I won’t spoil. Trust me it is awesome. So this leads to my question… Why the hell wasn’t this nominated for an Oscar? No joke, this amazing, thought provoking film got ZERO nominations. CATS got more nominations than Us!!!! How did this happen???

In past years the film-making aspect of the films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars has been a big factor in whether or not it coins recognition. Birdman, The Revenant, Dunkirk, Phantom Thread, and La La Land all amazing on technical scale.

Think of La La Land. If you have seen the movie before you know that the story is told a lot through the costume and cinematography. The scene where Sebastian and Mia dance on the hilltop after going to find their cars is a great example of this. The lighting is dark blue with a glow of purplish-pink from the sunset and bright lights from the city below. Mia wears a yellow dress, symbolizing hope, optimism, and brightness. Her dresses change color progressively throughout the film as well as the color schemes. The scene where the two argue over dinner leaves Mia and Sebastian’s faces both in the dark of a pale blue light, symbolizing their fading love and dissembling of their relationship.

Us is a film that also relies on colors heavily. The usage of the color red and various shades of it promote a sense of danger. Adelaide (Nyong’o) as a child carried a bright red candy apple while walking across the boardwalk. Red is a color that symbolizes passion and love, but also is a color that raises blood pressure. When she ventures onto the beach, the redness of the apple is the color that is most prominent on screen. This is also demonstrated by the redness of the doppelganger costumes.

The symbolism in this movie is on a Citizen Kane level of greatness. The frequent use of rabbits, the verse Jeremiah 11:11, the golden scissors, and Hands Across America all contribute to the overall theme of the film and multiple conspiracy theories too. The power of great storytelling is being able to tell little stories along the way through imagery. This isn’t really that common in modern cinema with the exception of films like Inception and No Country for Old Men. In the past you had movies like Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, and A Clockwork Orange that perfected this method of storytelling.

If this film were to be nominated for anything though it is Lupita Nyong’o’s performance. You can argue that 12 Years a Slave is her best role, but no. In my opinion this is one of the best performances I have ever seen. Look at her facial expressions and tone of voice throughout the film. She genuinely looks terrified. her doppelganger was equally as terrified and creepy as hell. If you’re gonna nominate Joaquin for Joker then you have to nominate Lupita for Us.

My parents always told my older brother and I growing up that the way you tell that a movie is good is if you are thinking about it the next day. I thought about this movie for months. I watched hours of conspiracy theory videos and different interpretations of the plot to see if anyone had the same questions I did. I think the only other movie I did this with was Inception, but that’s a whole separate blog.

With all of these things in mind, it really does not make any sense that a film like Us wouldn’t be nominated. Black Panther was nominated last year and was a fine movie, but didn’t break any ground in film-making or acting. Us did more than just be a fine movie, it was a GREAT one. With all the Scorsese talk of what is and isn’t cinema, this totally is cinema.

Whether or not you are a fan of horror films or not, I highly recommend you see Us. It has a lot to offer and should be a film shown in classrooms in the future. You can analyze the life out of this movie and have a good time watching too.