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gorillaz demon daysA couple nights ago, I had a strange dream/nightmare where I was trapped in a large building. It was one of those weird dream combination locations: a hotel, a cruise ship, a large store, who can tell for sure? The “story” of the dream was vague as well, but a post-apocalyptic theme was certainly in evidence, where you never knew if you were going to run into good friends (Sven was there for a while) or something less than welcome (zombies just outside the door!). Of course, whatever I was trying to do or accomplish in the dream was always just vaguely impossible to do.

I can usually figure out where the images in my dreams come from, and this time, I had to blame Gorillaz. I had just spent that night watching their videos online and doing a bit of exploring at their post-apocalyptic-feeling homepage. Most of the elements from my dream came directly from there, though I know for certain, in that dream-like way, that the unseen zombies were not “Clint Eastwood” gorillas.

Gorillaz, if you are unaware, is a virtual group, a commentary on the fakeness of modern music. Think of any of those fabricated boy bands, and there you go. The creators of Gorillaz thought, well, if you’re going to go through all the trouble to create something artificially, why not go all the way? Why have any real people in the band at all? The end product is a band made up of cartoon characters. Not your “Josie and the Pussycats” or “Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels” kind of cartoon band, but something more along the lines of Akira meets Miyazaki.

Gorillaz was revealed to me as, sadly, most things are these days: through Apple. An iPod ad used a catchy riff from Gorillaz’s new single. (Aside: How does one go about properly punctuating a rap-inspired misspelling of the possessive?) Exploring the iTunes Music Store, downloading “Feel Good Inc.,” and viewing the video for said single, I was hooked immediately.

Now I own their first album and the just-released follow-up, “Demon Days.” The first album is fine, but “Demon Days” is infesting. The songs are dark in tone, but incredibly catchy and layered, and there’s something more playful about the Gorillaz darkness than, say, Radiohead darkness. The cartoon band members may be grungy and dark, too, but, hey, they’re cartoons. They are approachable bohemian low-lifes.

Yesterday, I decided to not listen to “Demon Days.” I didn’t want to get tired of it, and other fun stuff like Radio Paradise and the new iTunes with built-in podcasting was just waiting to be played with. But it turned out to be a dark day. A perfect storm—or, perahps more accurately, a slightly-flawed storm—consisting of job ennui, relationship vacancy, sexual inactivity, self-criticism, laziness, and frustrating tidbits of everyday annoyance flung me into a dour and unpleasant mood. My humor, which normally remains intact during such bouts, was 85% disabled, though I was able to use the remaining 15% to good effect during a business lunch.

Inevitably, after lunch, I pulled “Demon Days” out of the cedar chest it had been relegated to for only half a day.

I thought that perhaps the album and the associated grim imagery of the animated videos was helping to cap my unapproachable mood. Music can deeply affect. It was therefore my decision to listen to something that was perkier, something I knew well and could sing along to, when I finally left work and hit the 134 in my Civic. I chose “Afternoons in Utopia” by Alphaville. Yes, I like Alphaville. Your taunts will not hurt me, as I have wholeheartedly embraced this flaw in my musical taste. Alphaville’s idea of a sad and moving song is something like “Lassie Come Home,” which, considering my state of mind on the 405 once it got jammed at Sunset, was a ray of bright sunshine.

Last night was my first real rehearsal for the play I’m in, Antigone. It has been a year and a half since I last did any acting. Proof of my currently shiftless demeanor resides in my choice to audition for Antigone instead of the two comedies that go up right before and right after the Greek drama. Antigone runs for only two weekends instead of the three for the other shows, and the less my summer is interrupted, the better. This indolence, however, is offset—perhaps even cancelled out—by my choosing the Greek drama because I wanted an acting challenge. I can do comedy blindfolded, but true drama? Classic, hard-to-get-to drama? Wordy, expository drama? The only demonstration of the limit of my talents can come if I do something like this that scares the crap out of me.

Alphaville allowed me to sing in the car, in traffic, Culver City-bound, but the strangest thing happened once I got to rehearsal. “Demon Days” kept leaking into (and out of) my head. Vocally, I was thumping the beats from “Kids with Guns” for others to hear. But I was not brooding or unhappy or even cognizant of the mood I was supposed to be in. I was happy and humming.

Most of the night was spent learning dance moves for the opening of the play. The moves are primal and not meant to be precise. It was so much fun, my sense of humor returned 100%. During breaks in learning the dance, I got to start working with John, the fellow cast member with whom I will be battling to mutual death using six-foot wooden poles. There is nothing not to like about swinging and striking with a blunt weapon in the name of fun. The clack of the poles colliding was fantastic.

Dancing and moving and fighting with sticks. All the time, Gorillaz rhythms and refrains thumping through my head.

“Demon Days” was not making me feel down. I was down about the things in my life I have been wanting to change and have not had the guts to change yet. I was down because I’ve been feeling alone, falling for guys who are too wrapped up in their own worlds to show me any concern. I was down because I could care less about most of my “work” work. I was down because this is not what I thought I’d be.

I allow all these things have more weight than they deserve.

The balance of the “must” and the “want” were—still are—off. When I am not being creative, I feel it. When I remain staid and stagnant, doing only what I am “supposed” to do, I can feel a pressure, slight but intense, infesting me. I can feel zombies just outside the door, trying to get in. When I do not rebel, when I do not speak out, when I do not make waves, when I do not make others take notice, when I do not MAKE, I am not being me.

I went to bed last night listening to “Demon Days” in my headphones. I listened not to the darkness of the songs, but to how they are crafted. The sounds and words and artistry that were all involved in making the album feel so rich. The music absorbed into me until I fell asleep somewhere in the middle of track number 7, “El Mañana.” I don’t remember my dreams at all.


Rodney Expounded Thusly:

What a fascinating find. Sorry you have been feeling lower than a snake’s belly in the wet morning dew on warm summer’s…sorry, lapsed into Kentucky speak (no one I know actually speaks like that in Kentucky). I know how you feel, though. My personal pick me up this week was Bewitched Season One DVDs. I’ve been drowning sorrows in Elizabeth Montgomery and DIck York. However, Steve, you actually do offer a lot to the world. Your site is one example. It always draws me back in. I don’t believe for one minute you will be relationshipless for long. You are handsome, intelligent, interesting, and funny. I’ve never actually met you, but I’m glad I “met” you via your site. Many times I have lived vicariously through your adventures too. They always perk me up. So, thanks for that!

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005 • 6:04pm • Permalink

Grammarian Expounded Thusly:

Here is the answer to your punctuation dilemma, as proffered by the Associated Press Stylebook, the primary reference source for most newspapers:

Add ‘s: the church’s needs, the girl’s toys, the horse’s food, the ship’s route, the VIP’s seat.

Some style guides say that singular nouns ending in s sounds such as ce, x and z may take either the apostrophe alone or ‘s. See SPECIAL EXPRESSIONS, but otherwise, for consistency and ease in remembering a rule, always use ‘s if the word does not end in the letter s: Butz’s policies, the fox’s den, the justice’s verdict, Marx’s theories, the prince’s life, Xerox’s profitsreally weird:

SPECIAL EXPRESSIONS: The following exceptions to the general rule for words not ending in s apply to words that end in an s sound and are followed by a word that begins with s: for appearance’ sake, for conscience’ sake, for goodness’ sake. Use ‘s otherwise: the appearance’s cost, my conscience’s voice.

So, yes … there really is a properly punctuated word in the English language written as conscience’.

Can you believe I had to memorize a lot of this stuff for my first job back in 1987?!

Now, don’t even ask me how one would properly punctuate Lekowicz’ silliness.

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005 • 6:54pm • Permalink

Me Expounded Thusly:

Dammit. I forgot the after “Xerox’s profits.

I hate that.

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005 • 6:55pm • Permalink

Steve Expounded Thusly:

Well, thanks to both of you. Rodney, it’s fun to have you back. I’m glad you keep getting reeled back in! I always want this site to be interesting and fun (even the dour posts can be fun, right?). As for the “handsome, intelligent, blah blah blah, thank you very much. I have been accused more than a few times this year of “fishing for compliments.” Every time I hear that, I have to roll my eyes. What good are compliments if they are asked for? Really, I just try to say what’s going on and how I’m feeling, and there it is. So with that said (I hate that phrase, but it’s so useful!), thanks for the support. If I have indeed been those things all along, they must not help in having a relationship. But I’m always optimistic about that kind of thing in the end.

John, thanks for the punctuation lesson. It’s good to see my knowledge helped me get it right the first time! Though I have NEVER seen the possessive before an S word like that: “Patrice’ sinew.” Sorry, but that is just lazy punctuation. You can tell all the journalists I think so. Not that anyone is truly a journalist any more. I see my huge pet peeve, a possessive when it should be plural (i.e., 1980s), all the time at the New York Times online. EEEW!

Finally, what’s so interesting in writing a post like this is what gets left out. My life is definitely not bad. By no means! But we all get in slumps, and I truly have some to realize that I am denying myself the happiness I get when I’m creative. This site is about all I got now on a regular basis, and thank goodness for the play. I simply have to have the guts to get out there more and do more of what I love. I also have this dream of reviving Reviews on the Side as a podcast. The regular reviews woudl be up, too, but then I’d do an audio version for podcasting! I shudder with delight at that geeky prospect.

What I also left out for reasons of flow was that, after I got back from rehearsal Tuesday night, I got my mail out of my mail box and there was the latest issue of Wired. On the cover? Yes, Gorillaz! I love that kind of serendipity!

Thursday, June 30th, 2005 • 10:44am • Permalink

Rodney Expounded Thusly:

“If I have indeed been those things all along, they must not help in having a relationship.”

You have no idea how much that feeling has also been running through my mind lately. I don’t know what it takes anymore – what anyone wants. I am glad you still have faith, though, because I don’t.

Friday, July 1st, 2005 • 9:34am • Permalink

Steve Expounded Thusly:

That makes me sad to hear! I think optimism as regards relationships is necessary, though it’s hard-to-impossible sometimes. I have optimism when I see people I know who love each other and are married or, if not allowed to marry, in committed relationships.

I don’t know what it takes, either. I know I put my heart into something when I fall in love, but love comes less and less these days, and reciprocation is tepid at best. Granted, I also had to be on the other end, where I had to crush poor David by admitting I would not be able to love him.

But I know the match can happen. I do not know when or how it will happen, but it will, and I look forward to that day very much. Chin up, Rodney. As best you can!

Friday, July 1st, 2005 • 11:08am • Permalink

The Wren Forum » Oh, That’s What Ebullience Means! Expounded Thusly:

[…] certainly fits, huh? Monday, October 10th, 2005 • 12:25pm Write a Comment • TrackBack • NoComments […]

Monday, October 10th, 2005 • 12:30pm • Permalink • This is a Pingback

The Wren Forum » Bigger than Nano Expounded Thusly:

[…] I am enjoying the fact that “Demon Days” is on the box for this iPod. I mean, considering… […]

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