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The Only Way I Can Express Myself

I’ve been working on this song well over a month now and I’m so happy to have finished it. I started out with just the chord progression and built the rest from there. There were some exciting accomplishments with this one. In my opinion, it has my first ever successful build-up and climax. And it used a vocal loop as well, from my friend Taylor Gruye’. I like the end of the song quite a bit more than the beginning. And at the end of the song, that would be Taylor telling me, “don’t… don’t put that on the internet.”

Hope you enjoy. =D

Posted in Blogging, Music by Preston on January 17th, 2012

“I know.”

I stood at the register, my feet holding the ground solidly beneath me. I wore a slight smile, the kind you can wear all day, as customers passed me by like waves, my hands pulling the cans of tomatoes and stalks of broccoli and celery over the little red eye in seeming slow-motion. Like a meditation, it was so simple, only the moment existed and I knew it, yet, secretly, I was indifferent to it. Every passing breath as empty as the moment that held it. Until a familiar man and woman came to the register. When I had first met them, many years ago, they were children and so was I. But here they were, before me, smiling, jolly with holiday cheer, ignorant of the moments passing before them, splashing them in the face.

I greeted them. They looked like they might be a couple, now, after all these years, and they’re together. 10 years in the same school. It’s enough to make this big city seem like a small town. They weren’t paying together. She just wanted a few chocolates, he wanted a soda. It was christmas eve, home for the holidays, holiday spirit. We must imagine each other to be such ordinary folk, but really, you, I, and our families, are as dainty and civilized as our cheap, tawdry smiles.

Of course, none of that really matters anymore. We’ve all grown up. I work in a grocery store, they live their lives. I couldn’t ever forget they’re faces, even now. Signs of age and maturity emanated from their pores. Let them have their life, I thought. Enough time has passed. Like moments, we move on. Still, the sight of them made my name-tag feel suddenly heavy on my collar.

“Is your last name Palmer?” he asked me. He had to ask me. I was surprised he hadn’t asked sooner.

“Yes. It is.” Here we go.

“We used to go to school together.”

“I know,” I said, maybe hoping to surprise them, confuse them. They’ll enjoy chatting about it later, I figured. Yes. I know we went to school. Do you remember? Do you remember how we related to one another back then, in those halls and classrooms. I remember it all, but I’m too old to hold a grudge, and too old to pretend like we’ve ever known each other any differently.

“It’s been a while,” I say, taking a $10 bill from him and making change in the drawer.

“Yes it has, how are you?”

“I’m alright, in school, you?”

It feels strange. I hope they don’t consider this “reconnecting with an old friend.” 10 years together and we have always been strangers. But the boy you knew then is a stranger to me too. I just cant seem to help myself here, smiling like a man with too much to say, saying, “well, have a nice holiday,” as you walk away.

Yes. It’s fun to see a familiar face after such a long time. Perhaps when we meet again, instead of stopping, when you see me, you will walk silently by, your hand in hers, moments washing over you like rain. And I will be fine, making my own friends, who remember when they first met me, who know who they are.

Posted in Blogging, Stories by Preston on December 25th, 2011

Nothing® The Game

Back in 2005, when I was a mere sophomore in highschool, my friend Taylor Gruye’ and I would always sit at the same table as a group of kids who would regularly play a game of Magic: The Gathering. Most of them were our friends, or friends via association if nothing else. But Taylor and I were both amused and annoyed by these immense card games. The playing card concept seemed banal and trite to our highly advanced, creative 15-year-old minds. And so we decided to come up with our own game that would mock and satirize playing cards. We, of course, called it Nothing®. I cut a pack of 50 index cards in half, and split it between the two of us, and these were our trading cards.

One day, our friends showed up at lunch time to find me trading my Hideous Monster card for Taylor’s Washing Machine of Death card. (A far superior card, of course.) We spread our cards out on the table and began playing, like a playing card version of Calvin-ball. For a few weeks we were the talk of the lunch-room.

For a short time, I though the idea might even be marketable. This was right around the time when commercials for kids toys started to seem extremely obnoxious and stupid to me. But they inspired me. I figured, if they could sell all the crap they sell to kids now, why couldn’t I sell a pack of blank white cards? I could even sell special Premium packs, with just 7-8 “special” cards. $9.99/each. You’d buy that for your kid, wouldn’t you?

It’s a real improv game, through and through. And it really was quite a bit of fun to play. When you held the cards in your hand, you had to think totally differently about how you would use your cards because, of course, there was nothing on them, they’re blank cards. Winning and losing was something more of a mutual agreement between the players than something tangible. And in the end, we were playing more as entertainers, so we had to be able to get into one another’s minds to figure out how the game would play out.

Unfortunately, the idea was short-lived and was forgotten until just now, when I was looking through some old papers and the game instructions showed up. So, here it is for all to see.

– – –

Each Player begins with 50 Nothing® Cards

Potions-Effect foundations, actions, or animals, can only be played once, unless summoned from discard pile using a side effect.

Animals– The main cards

Effects– Change the game play

Side effect– Can be played with an effect

Actions– A battle between all animals in play for points or other

Foundation– An effect that lasts one turn can only be played once unless summoned from the discard pile using a side effect or a potion.

Armor– Protects animals.

Character– The character card is a person in real life

To Begin: After determining a point total to play to (i.e. 10 or 3.14159265), each player draws five cards, the first to finish drawing begins their turn.

Game Play: Each player must have six cards at the beginning of the turn and less than five cards a the end of their turn, if that is not so, then a card(s) must be sacrificed from the player’s hand.

Nothing®: The Game

Potions: Potions can be played to make simple one-turn effects that cannot affect any future plays. They are played with the card they are affecting for the turn of the effect. They are placed face down in the bottom row until used.

Effects: When an effect card is played it modifies the way both players play Nothing®. The effect lasts until a potion or a foundation is played or if another effect is played. No two effects can be in play at the same time.

Side effects: Sometimes when effects are played a player will play a side effect that is in effect as long as the effect is. It can affect animals, armor, actions, or the effect itself.

Foundations: When a foundation is played it changes the game play for one turn.

Actions: When an action card is played both players’ animals must fight each other in a battle that the Action card describes. When an action card is played, the battle must occur two turns after the action card is played, no sooner, no later. Both players must battle regardless of their situation.

Character: When a character card is played, whoever the card is, determines the players following moves for as many moves as the player decides. Any move made by a character card cannot be stopped by any card. Character cards are the rarest and most powerful cards. Each deck is only allowed one.

All cards on either side of the field affect each other. Only cards protected by another card are safe.

All plays must be spoken aloud.

No game can last under 8 minutes

To win: The first person to the total number of points determined at the beginning of the game wins. OR if one player loses all of her/his life points, they lose.

Posted in Blogging, Diversions by Preston on December 20th, 2011

Learning Everyday

This is how I procrastinate. I have a test in Spanish on Monday. Okay, granted, I still have two whole days to study. Nevertheless, I made another song using Audiotool that I’m proud enough of to share with the world.

It utilizes two elements. One is called an LFO, short for Low-Frequency Oscillator, which creates a sweeping effect, generally, but I applied it to the filter so it ended up splitting the sound almost like a piece of glass bends light, which makes that tinkling sound at the beginning and end of the song. Then I learned how to use the amplitude envelope to give the chords in the background more of a beat and rhythm. It still isn’t that great, in fact I like my other song better, but I feel as though it’s another check-point in my progress in learning this software.

Posted in Blogging, Music by Preston on November 18th, 2011

11-11-11 but really just another day

Leaves on the Hedge  –  Red Leaves

Today, poetry means nothing
as the sun sets, the day
ends, metaphors pass on
the meaning of nothing, and the
meaninglessness of grasping, of
reaching, and trying to get one’s
fingers around it.
Today, the universe is
elusive, hard to put my
finger on, like trying to find
the significance of an old
story; it disappears and
reappears like a mirage even
though, all the while, my heart is
fluttering and aching, passion
dripping from it like saliva, as
I sit, calmly perplexed by this
inner turbulence.

– – –

A poem from the day. Laced with meaning, but that wasn’t even the intention. These poems are usually meant  to be more for me than anyone else.

Posted in Poems by Preston on November 11th, 2011

If It Happens, Kill Me

Over the past few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my future, and what I want to do. At this point, one thing is certain, I want to be in education. That sounds simple enough. The trouble comes when I start saying I want to jump in the sandbox and get my hands dirty and start working towards making our education system a better one. Of course, who wouldn’t say something as empty as that.

Last week I saw a movie called Waiting for Superman, a very informative documentary on the issues revolving around our Education system and education reform. But the film gave me a weird feeling about my own future. One day, years from now, I could be a talking head, in a video just like that. And I wanted to ask a favor of you, my friends, that if that happens, kill me.

The list of people fighting to make our education system better could go on, but here are a few big ones. Bill Gate’s Gate’s Foundation, George Lucas’ “Edutopia” out of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York, former Washington D.C. superintendent Michelle Rhee, DoneWaiting.orgDoris & Donald Fisher Fund, the Foundation for Excellence in EducationThe Bush Foundation for Education. And I couldn’t forget Perpich Center for Arts Education, could I.

The trouble is, when I look at that list, I don’t see a huge group of people working with one another to make education better. What?! You say. I know. What I see instead is a pile of football players, all clambering to get their hands on the elusive “better education.” And I’m afraid, terrified, that I’m going to end up in that same pile, come 2014.

I have a lot of ideas, and a little bit of a plan. Right now, this very minute, I want to be a fly on the wall of the Ed Department of U, where they are currently doing studies and discussing education reform. I want to be contributing to discussions, offering my opinion, actually doing studies of my own, and writing grants, and lobbying, and organizing, and having meetings with heads of unions, and congressmen and women, and doing press conferences. I want to have that Masters in Education and have a book published about how terrible things are, how we need to do something about it. And goddammit, I will not give up, I will not give in to pressure from any side.

All those foundations I named up there are awesome, amazing, incredible organizations that are doing really good, important things for our country. I wont deny that, but I’m still seeing a complete lack of competence and efficacy here in the real world. I will be writing more about my own stand on this issue in the following year and so on. But until then, I’m imagining myself, 10 years from now, like so many before me, at a town-hall meeting, or a board meeting, or a union meeting. And I’m sitting there, silently, as people talk bull-shit and banter, and I can see it happening, right there. My heart breaks and falls in a pile of mush on the varnished wood floor, and suddenly, from there on out, the fire in my eyes is gone, my words sound empty, the machinations of a forgotten dream.

And if that happens, please, break into my house, put duct-tape over my mouth, drag me to the basement of some dark, far away, abandoned house, and tie me to a chair, and leave me to die.

I wont stand to become just another talking head.

Posted in Blogging, Soapbox by Preston on November 10th, 2011

Wrong Choice, Adam

I’ve always wanted to write a never-ending story, but I never have, so here is my own version of one. I feel like it says some very interesting things about the nature of writing and the nature of life itself. At a certain point in writing this, I realized that the only thing that could allow the story to be never-ending was by forcing the character to make that decision. Certain loops can be forced into a story by means of extraneous information, but if the character himself decides to go through the whole thing again, even if he made the decision unwittingly or forcefully, I feel like the story carries much more weight. Poor Adam, unfortunately for him, he cannot write his own story. He is a slave to my pen. Perhaps we are all just slaves to some mysterious hand’s pen. Or perhaps we really do control our fate. Regardless, it certainly is eery when things start to repeat themselves…

You can technically begin the story anywhere and just scroll back up to the top when you reach the bottom, I decided to start it at the same place I started writing the story. What do you think, is there a better place to start the story? Does it even matter?

Click here and read more after the jump…

Posted in Stories by Preston on November 3rd, 2011

Cashier’s Conceit

I am a cyborg attached
to a computer by a thick cord
that comes out of my wrist.
I can feel the metal in my arm,
the little divots
that allow it to bend freely
as I twist and move. Inside the cord,
wires spiral into me, around my spine
and into my stomach.
I feel like a rebellious zombie, in
the way I smile
whole-heartedly
at the kids in the stroller,
and the old lady
reaching for two pennies in her purse.
Soup, they all seem to be making,
but I’m just standing here
punching in numbers and
asking the same questions, wondering
whether the universe needs the receipt
or if I should recycle it.

– – –

I wrote this about a year ago, as I was getting settled into working at the Coop. Much of it still has meaning. Though, I assure any wandering eyes that I have no mal intent for the wonderful place I work, and the wonderful people that I work with. I think just being a cashier necessitates a degree of derision.

Posted in Poems by Preston on October 26th, 2011