Monday, September 21, 2015

"I Can't Feel My Face"

Whenever I'm in the car and turn on the radio, it seems pop stations are playing the same five songs over and over again. One of the tunes that's stuck on REPLAY is The Weeknd's "I Can't Feel My Face." It's a weird thing to say: Hey, I can't feel my face when am with you. And I love it.

So is this guy just so nervous about some girl who might hurt him, he goes numb? Is it cold outside? Why can't he feel his face? I was in the car with my teenager, and he decided to look it up. He started laughing and told me that this song is about...



This got me thinking about a bunch of songs that have similar hidden or ambiguous meanings. Here's a few of my favorites:

Harder to Breathe, by Maroon 5. This song just kicks ass. The lyrics just drip with anger and betrayal. To me, it was obvious that this song was about a girl totally breaking some guy's heart, and he's pissed. But later, I found out Adam Levine indeed did write this song out of pure hatred, but his angst wasn't directed at a woman. It was directed at the music industry. The record label kept pushing the band to add one more track at the last minute, and so the pressure got to him. And their breakaway hit was the result of that anger.

Closing Time, by Semisonic. This song became a huge hit when my wife was pregnant with baby number one. And for some reason, it resonated with me on a subconscious level. To me, the song's meaning was fairly simple. These guys are at the bar, and it's time to shut it down and either go home or go elsewhere. I was watching a Semisonic live show on YouTube, and the band's leader, Dan Wilson, confessed that "Closing Time" is a song from a baby's perspective of having to leave the comfort of Mommy's womb and be born. Ha!

Just a draw-ring!
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, by John Lennon-The Beatles. We all thought this song was about
LSD. I mean, they took it and loved it during 1967. So duh. The song's initials even spell out L-S-D. But John Lennon swears it's not. He said that the song was inspired by a drawing his son Julian had made in school of his friend...Lucy.

Take Me Home, by Phil Collins. I am a big Phil Collins fan. And I did a report on his song "Take Me Home" for music class in 7th grade. The lyrics seemed to be about a guy who's homesick and just wants to home. Right? But years later, I was at his concert, and he said that the song was inspired by the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." It's about a guy in a mental institution who wants out!

Love Shack, by the B-52s. Okay, this song's meaning is pretty obvious. But there's one line in the song that became practically iconic. Which line? You KNOW which line. Tin roof, rusted. What the hell does that mean? I was a sophomore in high school when this song became a hit, and I was told that this infamous line was some sort of hidden message about being pregnant. That made no sense, but hey, most music from 1989-1995 made no sense anyway. I saw in an interview where one of the band members admitted that one of the singers just blurted it out during an outtake, and they loved it. So they kept it.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Imaginarium 2015

Last weekend, I attended the Imaginarium Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. Last year was this creative writing convention's inaugural year, and the event continues to evolve in its second year. It's an amazing experience being surrounded by writers of all genres and mediums, although I'm pretty sure most of us were novelists.

Imaginarium included: panels from morning until night, a live rock concert on Friday night, a vendors hall, indie film festival, awards banquet, masquerade and costume contest, a gaming tournament, and all other kinds of fun stuff creative people love.

I had a table in the vendor hall, and I spent most of my time socializing with other authors. People came from all over to be at this event. A couple of authors were from New York, one from North Carolina, and several were from Virginia. I didn't sell a ton of books, but I did better than last year. What hurt sales was the fact that Half Price Books was holding a huge event at the Expo Center just across the street from us. Ouch!

What was really cool was getting to meet two blogging buddies: Julie Flanders and Tara Tyler! I bought a couple of their books, and we got to spend some time getting know each other face-to-face. As in real life interaction.

For the costume ball, I dressed up as Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). I decided to go all out and even get a fake mustache and beard, stuck to my face with "theatrical glue."

As I sat there during the costume judging portion of Saturday night, I started to get lightheaded. The glue was making me SO HIGH. Finally, I got up, tore the beard and mustache from my face, walked out of the room into the large convention hallway, and threw the damn thing away...

or so I thought.

Apparently, my sticky mustache didn't make it to the trash receptacle. It had landed smack dab in the
middle of the carpeted hallway. The event staffers came upon my mustache after I had left, and one of them started kicking at it with his foot, thinking it was one of those poisonous, huge caterpillars.

When they realized what it was, they picked it up and stuck it to a small glass table in the hall. When all of us costumers walked out of the room, they asked if anyone had lost a mustache. I couldn't believe it, and after telling them my harrowing tale, we all had a great laugh.

And I think my mustache is still stuck to that table...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

IWSG for September20115

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It's a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

It has now been a solid seven months since I've written anything new. This has to be my biggest dry spell EVER. Many of you know that I've been through a lot of personal (real life) stuff, so it's no surprise to me that my creative well is pretty empty.

Recently, I have felt the urge to get back to it, but I still lack the mental energy. This scares me. It's been so long, I'm wondering if any progress as a writer I've made the last five years will have gone down the drain after such a long absence.

Having finished a trilogy, I also have to admit part of this is a bit of a end-of-project-letdown. You finish a huge project you've been working on for years, and you're left wondering "now what?"

So as I head into September, and the seasons begin to change, my hope is that I overcome this massive writer's block.

Monday, August 24, 2015

"Limitless" Pill

In the movie Limitless, Eddie (Bradley Cooper) is a writer struggling with the worst case of writer's block known to man. His girlfriend leaves him, and he somehow gets his hands on a new pharmaceutical that will allow him to access 100% of his entire brain at once, making him a super genius.

Well, looks like real life is about to imitate fiction once again.

Modafinil is a drug that is drug for those suffering from narcolepsy,
sleep apnea, and other sleeping disorders. Here in the U.S., it's sold under the name Provigil. Like many powerful pharmaceuticals, however, people often take the pills for "off label" use.

Many college students have been taking Modafinil to increase focus and thinking.

A paper just published in the European Neuropsychopharmacology (phew, say that 5 times) last week reviewed several studies where test subjects took Modafinil and had their cognitive abilities measured. What they found was that this drug actually does enhance thinking.

Ruairidh McLennan Battleday, one of the co-authors of the paper, said that Modafinil does affect the "higher brain functions that rely on contribution from multiple simple cognitive processes."

Obviously, more research needs to be done to further examine what brain functions are enhanced, as current studies show that creativity isn't increased by those using this drug. Despite some of the unknowns and known side effects, college students will continue to take Modafinil to get an edge.

Is this what our country has come to? Back in my day, college students took drugs to get high. Now, they're taking drugs to get on the Dean's List!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Ear 'Ye, Ear Ye!

To celebrate my ten years of blogging, I'll be reverting to my old format for the month of August. This month, I'll be sharing the weird, the strange, and the funny...TRUE science stories. Why? Because oftentimes, science can be stranger than fiction.

An Australian artist, who goes by the name Sterlarc, has had an actual EAR surgically implanted to his left arm. The process has taken twenty years, and he's hoping to take the next big step with being able to make it an actual functioning ear in the near future.

The ear itself is made up of a combination of the same synthetic material used in plastic surgery and his own cells. It has completely fused and is a real part of his body now. Sterlac calls this endeavor his "Ear on Arm" project.

Yeah, I know...not very original. I mean, duh, it's an ear on a freaking arm.

Sterlarc is not a stranger to ways to artistically express himself. He's been big on cybernetics and dangling his naked body from hooks and wire. Please don't Google some of his projects. Definitely not safe for work.

Anyhoo, the next big step includes using his own stem cells to give his ear a real ear lobe and inserting some kind of microphone and transmitter that will connect his ear to the internet. Why? So people log on and listen to whatever Sterlac's third ear is hearing.

Sterlac also wants to enable his ear with GPS so folks can track where his ear is.

This project does sound a bit odd, yet fascinating. But I think there's an easier solution that Sterlac should have thought of. Instead of undergoing the tedious and expensive process of surgically growing an ear on his arm, he could have gotten one of these:

Since we're talking about Sterlarc behind his back, I wonder if his ears are burning...