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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1399999
by Jeff
Rated: 18+ · Book · Biographical · #1399999
A blog for my assorted thoughts and rambling inner monologue.
Welcome to my blog!

I would make some sort of clever introduction here, but most of us already know how blogs work; if you like me and like my writing, you might also enjoy my personal ramblings. If you don't like me, you're probably not reading this anyway... and if you're undecided in your opinion of me, I invite you to read as much or as little as you like and decide for yourself.

Please read on and, if you find something worth discussing, don't be shy about submitting a comment! *Bigsmile*

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January 2, 2020 at 5:15pm
January 2, 2020 at 5:15pm
#972495

Written in connection with "Note: 48-HOUR CHALLENGE : Medi..." - 923 words, excluding lyrics dropnote




Lyrics


Panic! at the Disco is a band that I never really appreciated when they first gained popularity, but have started to grow on me in recent years. The song "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" off their first studio album never really struck a chord with me, and it was actually this song from their latest album Pray for the Wicked in 2018 that really caught my attention. This song, along with and a handful of other appearances, notably their cover of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" for the Suicide Squad soundtrack in 2016, and Brendon Urie's most recent collaboration with Taylor Swift on the song "Me!" off the latter's 2019 album Lover.

As I was researching this song, it didn't really have a deep, fascinating backstory... a handful of the writer/producers originated this song at a writing camp in Aspen, Colorado in 2015. It was sent around to a number of different artists and Panic! at the Disco expressed interest in putting the song on their next studio album, at which point Urie collaborated with the original writer/producers to make the song what it is today.

I suppose not every origin story is a memorable one. *Wink*

The part of this song that really catches my attention at first is the part of the chorus that says:


Had to have high, high hopes for a living
Didn't know how but I always had a feeling
I was gonna be that one in a million
Always had high, high hopes


I've always been fascinated by humanity's tendency (including my own) to assume that we're going to be the exception to the rule. Whether we're buying lottery tickets, applying for a limited number of slots at a highly-competitive and prestigious university, or - for those of us who write in hopes of being published - that our work will become a bestseller, or an award winner, or both.

One of the podcasts I listened to this past year talked about a research project that analyzed why so many individuals in the middle class are reticent to vote for increased taxes for the wealthy (even when that money would be apportioned to the middle class), and the study found that a lot of people essentially vote against their own current economic interests because there's an inherent belief that we're just one great idea or one lucky break away from climbing out of the middle class and into the ranks of the elite. It's a belief that's almost uniquely American, and tied to the American Dream and the belief that anyone can change their circumstances and make something of themselves regardless of any odds, data, or historical precedent to the contrary.

I fully admit that I'm in that group of people as well. I grew up in an upper middle class family that never wanted for any of the basics, but also didn't have the money for the luxuries that some of my friends had growing up. When I was younger, I had dreams of attaining those lavish luxuries: fancy cars, a big house, lavish trips all over the world, etc. For a long time, I assumed I would have these things because I was that exceptional person; that one in a million rarity.

Over the years, I've had a lot of those notions dispelled, as many of us do when we move from the naiveté of youth into the realities of adulthood. Nobody was going to do the work for me; nobody was going to pluck me out of obscurity and raise me up to the heights of success. Now that I'm a little older, and a lot more realistic about the way the world works, I find the following lyrics from this song more resonant:


Mama said don't give up, it's a little complicated
All tied up, no more love and I'd hate to see you waiting
They say it's all been done but they haven't seen the best of me
So I got one more run and it's gonna be a sight to see


As a writer and someone who works in the entertainment industry, I do have to have high hopes for a living. I have to believe that the things I work on have the chance of being that one in a million difference-maker. I have to believe that eventually the things I'm working toward will happen, because the alternative is to get discouraged and not do anything at all because I spend all day looking at the long odds and thinking, "Nah, that seems a little too risky" or, "Maybe I should do something else that has better odds of success."

It's not about the odds. It's not even about the success. It's about doing what you love, not giving up, and accepting the fact that it's complicated and may not end up exactly how you imagined it. And, at the end of the day, I have to believe that the world hasn't seen the best of what I have to offer because I'm constantly learning and evolving and growing. I tend to be an optimist by nature and therefore always believe that my best days are right around the corner. Am I going to be that one-in-a-million in terms of wild, fantastical success? Maybe, maybe not. But at least I can be that rare person (whether it's one in a million or not) who loves what they do, continually pushes to be their best, and - as the song so eloquently says - has high, high hopes for what the future holds.
January 1, 2020 at 12:44pm
January 1, 2020 at 12:44pm
#972380

It's the end of 2019, which means it's time to review all the reading and listening I've done over the past calendar year. Overall, it was a mixed bag... similar to last year, I listened to a lot of podcasts (though not nearly as many as last year), hit my book reading goal (just barely), and didn't get into too many screenplays or comics this year. Here's how 2019 breaks down:


*Star* = favorite
*ThumbsUp* = also really enjoyed


Books (click to expand full list)

I just barely managed to surpass my goal of reading 100 books this year after starting the year strong and on pace for a record-setting reading year, then having my reading habits decrease dramatically in the second half of the year. Apparently having kids in the house really cuts into your personal reading time! *Laugh*

I had a lot of favorites this year in both fiction and nonfiction... overall, it was a really good reading year in terms of finding books that I really liked. There were some standout standalone works (Daemon, Bluff, Catch and Kill), some exciting new authors that I discovered (Barry Eisler, Brene Brown), and quite a few familiar authors and series had new installments that didn't disappoint (Michael Lewis, Malcolm Gladwell, Gregg Hurwitz, Mark Greaney).

However, I think Barry J. Hutchison wins top honors on my reading list this year for being a new author I discovered and whose backlist I voraciously devoured. His Space Team serious is hysterical (and I highly recommend the audiobooks which include narrator outtakes starting about halfway through the series). Who would have known that humorous sci-fi would be such a hit? (Answer: pretty much anybody who knows me *Think*)



Podcasts (click to expand full list)

I cut out a lot of podcasts from last year, especially the daily news podcasts (and the actual play tabletop RPG podcasts after getting tired of them a few months into the year), and started skipping individual episodes of a lot of podcasts that I wasn't particular into. I'm a bit of a completionist so that was difficult for me, but I really tried to value my time more this year and not spend it listening to a podcast episode on a topic that didn't particularly interest me. Mostly, my favorites from last year are still my favorites this year, although a few of them are growing a little tedious. I'll probably listen to fewer podcasts next year, or at least look for some new ones to keep things interesting.



Comics (click to expand full list)

I didn't read a single comic book or graphic novel this year. *Wink*



Scripts (click to expand full list)

I'm not putting any favorites or highly recommended on the script section of my reading list because a lot of the writers on this list are my friends and/or colleagues and I don't want to play favorites with my friends and business associates. *Smile*



TOTALS: 102 books, 1,061 podcasts, 0 comics, 15 scripts


According to Goodreads, my book reading resulted in the following stats (based on the 98 books found on Goodreads):

         Total Pages Read: 27,964
         Average Pages Per Book: 285
         Shortest Book: 82 pages
         Longest Book: 864 pages


That's it for my 2019 reading... time to see what 2020 has in store! *Bigsmile*
August 9, 2019 at 2:06am
August 9, 2019 at 2:06am
#963955

Written for the "Note: 48-HOUR CHALLENGE : Medi..."




Lyrics


It's funny how sometimes a song can just completely capture everything that you're feeling in a particular moment. I'd never heard of this song (or this band) before this music challenge, and now it's something I've been listening to on repeat ever since I first gave it a listen. Maybe it's because I have a lot going on in my life right now (new parent, job uncertainty, struggling to get back to my writing and back to being active here on WDC), but whatever the reason, I've been thinking a lot about when people stick to their guns on something, and when they choose to run away or let it go.

In a way, I suppose that's a lifelong pursuit, trying to figure out when we need to keep going and when we need to walk away.

Ultimately, I think it's tempting for all of us to want to run, initially. That primal fight-or-flight reflex often encourages us to disengage and keep a safe distance rather than stick to it, right in the middle of the fray when things are toughest. But it's often that fray that, once we get through it, provides the experience and sense of satisfaction that we come to appreciate so much after the fact.

Still, it's important to know when to cut your losses, or to know when it's not a fight you can win. I like to imagine this song is about those moments, when you realize that there's plenty of time to learn that particular lesson or fight that particular fight, and that it's okay to remain where you are for the time being. I feel like that's a pretty universal experience we go through when we grow up and transition from childhood to adulthood; we desperately want to be older and get to the next phase of our life, but in retrospect we always seem to have a sense of nostalgia and wish that we had taken more time to be in the moment and enjoy our childhood just a little longer.

I don't know if that's anything close to what the band had in mind when they wrote this song (and for once I'm not going to do any research about the song or the artist for one of these challenges), or if I'm reading too much into it, but this was definitely one of those songs that made me think as I listened to it over and over again.


April 27, 2019 at 6:08pm
April 27, 2019 at 6:08pm
#957686
I haven't updated the 'ol blog in a while (since "The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge, apparently!), and today feels like a good day to catch up a little. And for the past week, I've really only had one thing on my mind:

Avengers: Endgame is finally in theaters this weekend and I can’t help but feel a little nostalgic about my time at Marvel. The ten films I’ve worked on over the past three years have been surprising, exciting, tough, emotional, and incredibly satisfying. I’ve never worked harder or been prouder of a professional accomplishment.

Like the movie that’s tearing up box office records this weekend, my Marvel journey's taken some unpredictable turns, but ultimately exceeded any and all expectations I had going into it. And, one way or another, I did it… I made it to the Endgame. #WhateverItTakes

With a new phase on the horizon, whatever that may have in store, I can’t help but feel a sense of profound gratitude for having the opportunity to play my small part in Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I love these movies and all the people who work so hard to make them. It’s been a bucket list-level experience, for sure.

I hope you all enjoy watching them as much as I’ve enjoyed working on them.
February 28, 2019 at 9:52pm
February 28, 2019 at 9:52pm
#953443
DAY 28

"Farewell"
by Rosie Thomas




My final sound of the 2019 Soundtrackers event is called "Farewell?" It's almost like I planned it that way! *Smirk*

I found this song not too long ago on a season finale of the show Bosch and just completely fell in love with it. The song is so haunting and beautiful at the same time, I've put it in regular rotation on my "sad songs" playlist for when I just need some time to ponder things or mope around. As much as I enjoy energetic and active songs, there's something to be said for the beauty in simplicity and I think this song is a perfect example of that.

Fun Fact: Rosie Thomas, in addition to being a singer-songwriter, is also a stand-up comedian who performs as the character Sheila Saputo, an accident-prone pizza delivery person. (I bet you weren't expecting that, were you? *Pthb*)

In retrospect, this month kind of got away from me and I ended up cramming a bunch of entries in at the very end... and while I'm glad I got it done, I'd really like to have another shot at taking some time with it. Since I'm the one that's running it now, maybe I'll make it a biannual event. Or come up with something else to scratch that musical blogging itch during the long summer months between Soundtrack of Your Life and Resurrection Jukebox in the fall. *Wink*

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Written for "The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge
February 28, 2019 at 9:45pm
February 28, 2019 at 9:45pm
#953440
DAY 27

"Dancing On My Own"
by Robyn




I mentioned this song of Robyn's in an earlier Soundtrackers entry this month, but I'm including it here because it's also kind of an anthem I listen to from time to time. I like the sentiment that no matter what happens, she's still dancing even if it's on her own. As someone who often tries really hard to fit in and conform to the expectations people have of me, I sometimes like to remind myself that sometimes it's okay to go off into a corner and do my own thing. Plus it's kind of an upbeat but sad song, which is totally in my "combine disparate things" wheelhouse that I mentioned a couple blog posts ago.

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Written for "The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge
February 28, 2019 at 9:31pm
February 28, 2019 at 9:31pm
#953437
DAY 26

"Sweet Disposition"
by The Temper Trap




I may have blogged about this song before, but it's definitely one of the songs that carries a ton of emotional weight for me. I included it as part of an "In Memoriam" montage that I assembled for my grandfather's funeral service when he passed away several years ago. At the time, I was having a really hard time processing my own feelings about the loss. My grandfather had always been a pretty stoic person and while I have some amazing memories of him, feel like I never really got to know him all that well. He went rather quickly (although not entirely unexpectedly), so this was the first time that I had lost a relatively close family member and also lost someone that I didn't really have a chance to say goodbye to.

While I was going through all of these emotions trying to figure out how I felt about everything, I ultimately decided to put together a montage for his memorial service and had family members send me all kinds of old photos from their collections. I put them all into a presentation, and that act of doing something to honor my grandfather really helped me process his passing and feel like I was able to give something to him in recognition of all the things he did for our family over the years. It was also one of the only times in my life that I think I really truly felt a deep emotional connection to a song (I literally still think of my grandfather every time this song plays) that goes so much deeper than just "I really like that song" or "I remember good times when I hear that song." This is a much more visceral, "This song got me through something" feeling.

If you're interested, you can check out the memorial video I created for him here  . "Sweet Disposition" is the second song, the first was one of his favorites.

-------------------------
Written for "The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge
February 28, 2019 at 9:15pm
February 28, 2019 at 9:15pm
#953433
DAY 25

"Heart of Rock and Roll"
"Heart and Soul"
by Huey Lewis and the News




This album is one of my earliest musical memories. My parents had Huey Lewis' album Sports on vinyl (when vinyl was a thing the first time around), and my parents would let us drop the needle on the record and then dance around to these songs over and over again until we were so exhausted we collapsed on the ground. It's a particular fond memory for me because my father isn't a particular emotive person and doesn't express himself a lot, but I remember him seeming particularly happy when we would rock out to these songs and run around to this soundtrack. To this day, while songs like "Hip to be Square" and "Power of Love" and some of Huey Lewis' other hits are far more popular and well-known, these tracks and the rest of his Sports album will have a special place in my heart.



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Written for "The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge
February 28, 2019 at 9:07pm
February 28, 2019 at 9:07pm
#953432
DAY 24

"99 Problems / Points of Authority"
by Jay-Z & Linkin Park




This is probably one of my all-time favorite EPs of all time. I remember when it was first announced, everyone thought the idea of combining two different styles was crazy... but they ended up really complementing one another and created something new and amazing. Every song on the EP is incredible; I think they actually enhance each other's contributions. Ultimately, the idea of a "mash up" or combining two disparate elements is something that's always appealed to me, including in my writing and other creative efforts. I don't consider myself one of the raw, exceptionally talented people who can come up with "out-there" concepts out of nowhere... but I am someone who likes to find ways to make different kinds of puzzle pieces fit together.

For me this song (and the whole album, really) are a kind of proof of concept that the kinds of things that I'm creatively drawn to can work. There's value and innovation in finding new ways of exploring old standards, so every time I listen to a song from this album, I'm reminded that the thing I creatively like to do most can be done, and it can be done well.

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Written for "The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge
February 28, 2019 at 8:55pm
February 28, 2019 at 8:55pm
#953431
DAY 23

"Beautiful Trauma"
by P!nk




While I don't pretend my life is nearly as traumatic as those of others, I think this song resonates with pretty much everybody. When P!nk released this song (and the album of the same name), she was quoted as saying, "Life is f---ing traumatic. But it's also incredibly beautiful too. There's a lot of beauty still and beautiful souls." And that's pretty much my worldview in a nutshell. Now that I'm closing in on middle age and leaving the earlier years behind, it's become so abundantly clear to me how incredibly rough and tough life can be, but how incredible and amazing it can be... sometimes even at the same time.

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Written for "The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge

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