Thursday, October 25, 2012

Procrastination and Spookyness: Things I Did While Trying to Come Up With Other Things, Partially In Order of Spookiness, Partially In Chronological Order, All of Which Really Just End Up Being A Documentation

So I don't know what the problem is but I thought that people giving me prompts to write about would actually give me focus, but everything always derails back into me talking about what I do when I procrastinate. I guess I vascillate (which I do not know how to spell) between very type A and very type B.

So I belong to this group called the Self-Publishers of Chicago (SPOC) and we do things together like publish zines, help each other with encoragement for problems we deal with in the world of independent publishing and culture, support each other in our creative endeavors, eat Clancy's Pretzels Rods from Aldi (only because there's an Aldi near my house, so Clancy's is sort of our unofficial sponsor), and and um, go out for margaritas, the latter of which sounds like we're on Sex and the City of something.

Anyway, so we did a Halloween zine, but my contribution is of course, in only a tiny way related to Halloween. Lucky for you, I have included it here. I'm sure you're on the edge of your seat. P.S. I'm reading at a release event of sorts for this zine thing on Tuesday at Uncharted Books. Won't you join me for some spooky Logan Square action? More info here.

Things I Did While Trying to Come Up With What I Would Write About For This Zine, Partially In Order of Spookiness, Partially In Chronological Order, All of Which Really Ended Up Being What the Piece I'm Writing For This Zine Is
by Liz "Spooky" Mason

-Listened to 36 of 90 tracks on the CD that accompanies the book EVP: Electronic Voice Phenomenon: Massachusetts Ghostly Voices and enjoyed the author's use of the terms "singularity" and "other dimension"
-carved pumpkin to look like Britney Spears at age sixteen, but with creepy missing eyes (see photo below)
-listened to obese black cat wheeze
-Discussed with roommate how far the radius of rabbinical prayer extends to qualify as effective in blessing food to make it kosher, and if the determinate radius could be measured in some way that is similar to radio frequency territory
-started reading pdf titled "Reducing Long-Term Catastrophic Risks from Artificial Intelligence" courtesy of the Singularity Institute, get totally derailed by the excitement of sudden inspiration for halloween costume which required google search for "Britney Spears Toxic video halloween costume"
-Ate leftover pita with tahini sauce
-made coffee
-watched major talking points of previous night's foreign policy election candidate debate
-made more coffee
-drank more coffee
-helped myself to an additional serving of coffee
-Put on "A Little More Personal (RAW)" by Lindsey Lohan and thought "This is actually kind of a good album in a junior high girl kind of a way."
-Youtubed TRL live version of Lindsey Lohan's "Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father)" followed by the official music video and enjoyed that even though the video was from 2005 there was commentary from less than 24 hours ago, quote courtesy of political critic TrollMCTrollinMAKKY: "Why you endorse Mitt Romney? Do all drugged-up Hollywood actresses like you make poorly choice decisions?" Scrolled down further and enjoyed the Yoda-like quote from sage cultural critic krazyashlee101: "She wrote this song, so obvious it is."
-ate 2 (two) pieces of candy corn, proud of my caloric restraint in an attempt to lead healthy low fat lifestyle
-considered working out
-ate huge-ass ice cream sandwich
-Freaked out that I had to be at work in .02 minutes, annoyed with myself that I waited all fucking morning to get ready at the last possible minute and then, combined with the anxiety from consuming too much coffee, had a near heart attack and ironically, proceeded to pretty much have an entire workout what with the sweating and freaking out and getting to work on time
It's Britney-O-Lantern, Bitch

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fake-Out Fade-Out Pop Music Singularity

So you're listening to a song and it gets all quiet and then boom! It comes back full force. In Britney Spears' Till the World Ends, there's that part about three-quarters of the way through, where the music gets all compressed sounding, all quiet and muffled? Then it reopens and comes back, spreading itself back open. (Sort of appropriate, considering the "world ending" topic of the song.) What I like about it is that it's more than just the typical  "Fake-out Fade-Out" device used in pop song construction (like Madonna's Hung Up) because of this subtle little extra noise they add in Till. It's the sound almost of the buzz you hear for a second when you turn on or off the TV. And then when the music reopens, you hear a Britney sex-kitten breath out, like this ahhhhh, that reminds me a little of that Philip K. Dick quote from The Divine Invasion:
You are the breath of your Creator, and as he breathes in and out, you live. Remember that, for that sums up everything that you need to know about your God. There is first an exhalation from God, on the part of all creation; and then, at a certain point, it starts its journey back, its inhalation. This cycle never ceases.
Interestingly, at the end of the Till video, you see Britney push the grate off the sewer where the all night dance party was (and during which we see the world explode). I'm noticing that in Britney Spears videos, that's an example of this common thing that happens where "It's supposed to end -- BUT NOT REALLY."

What I mean by that is that I remember reading somewhere that the video for Everytime she was supposed to die (in a bath tub, after sustaining a head injury) and reborn as a baby. But then NOT REALLY. Her head rises out of the bathtub and IT WAS ALL A DREAM. There was somebody who must have decided they couldn't show Britney dying. Who are we kidding though? Everybody talks about her being dead in the eyes anyway.

Last Scenes of Till the World Ends

Last Scene of Everytime

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Technological singularity" is a thing.

While I was searching around the internet to see if anybody has written a book about the cultural history of the conept of singularity, I found what looks like someone's academic paper about technological singularity.

A "technological singularity" is when a technological advance happens, and that advancement is so complicated, that if you were to take that technology back in time and show it to somebody in the past, they wouldn't understand it at all. That is to say, the technology is too difficult for anybody that came before it to understand. (A dinosaur wouldn't understand a computer etc.) Sometimes it can also mean that AI overtakes human intelligence in a Matrix-y kinda way.
That pretty much explains any TV show or movie about going back in time. What happens if you transplant a caveman in Encino? He doesn't understand the slurpee machine. (And certainly, nobody understands how Pauly Shore could be funny.) What happens if you play Van Halen on headphones to a teenage boy in the 50s?! He thinks its an alien. And so on.

I found a good site about singularity tropes on television, and it made reference to the concept of technological singularity as being "The rapture of the nerds," which I took to mean, when the revolution comes the nerds will be the elite few with the brains and know how to understand technology that the rest of the mindless sheep have not woken up to, also very Matrix-y.

By and large a lot of the writing about technological singularites sems to be about reaching a point where there's no going back; things have gotten either so chaotic or so unpredictable and complicated that the feeling of safety in believing in cause and effect is unreliable. Mmmm... Chicken or egg omelette? Neither. Who wants to eat a chicken omlette? That's like asking if a pig can be kosher.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Singularity Questions Not Really Ever Answered

One Singularity Sensation

The idea of some type of consciousness making an actual decision to cause the singularity to explode into some kind of big bang is interesting to think about, and I would like to believe it. But nothing has ever fully convinced me. My hunch is that most people think when they die they'll get all these big questions answered about god and other relevant topics. But just because you die it doesn't necessarily mean you'll get all those questions answered. And even if there is a god it doesn't mean you'll get the lowdown on him/it/her/they.

What if god was there the whole time in plain sight but we don't have the type of senses we need for god detection? Maybe it's like those people that are missing the part of the brain that makes them recognize people's faces, so they might see the same person everyday and they have to rely on context clues when that person shows up to tell them who they are. Maybe it's like we don't have God goggles or something.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How many times?

So when everything is over (the universe), does it (the universe? reality?) all fold in on itself? How many times has that happened? Isn't that what the cylons believed in the reboot of Battlestar Galactica, that everything keeps happening over and over again? I can't remember what episode it was in and I can't figure out what to plug into to find the quote, but I did find it intriguing that the cylons were the bad guys and they are monotheists and the humans are the good guys and they're the polytheists. Hip hip hooray for some good ol' pagany mother earthy touch-with-our-roots theism.

It makes me think of David Eagleman's book Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, one of the stories is about how one theory of the afterlife is that right before we are reborn, we get to decide what kind of a being we can be for that life. Specifically, we can decide whether we want to be a simpler being than we were in the past life. But here's the thing: you don't get to remember what you were before. So let's say in this life you're a human. After you die, right before you're reborn, you can say, "Wow, life was really hard as a human. Maybe I'll become a simpler being for the next life, like say, a horse." And as you're turning into a horse, you're thinking "Oh no, what have I done? I'm losing my essential human-ness, who? what?  Hee haw HEE HAW" and then you're gone, all memory of the subtleness of humanness disappeared, gone forever...So if, each time, we decide to become something simpler, then what were we before? Before all the simplifying started?

So...Do we keep starting over and over? Is it the same thing? Do we get simpler? More complex? Do we reach a state of complexity where we use up all the everything and fold over? And start over?

Sort of unrelated note: David Eagleman is a neurologist/writer. Also the consultant for the show Perception and a bunch of other super interesting brain-related endeavors.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The First and Also, The Glorious Common Feeling of Falling

So the topic I seem to be preoccupied with lately is the concept of singularity.

There's a variety of TV shows, movies and video games related to the word of singularity. It would be cool if somebody did some kind of anthology about the concept of singularity and how it captures the public's interest in the topic, and how those concepts play out in our media. There are definitely websites that touch on some of this stuff (historical singularity -- when life has gotten so chaotic its impossible to predict what might happen, technological singularity -- when technology is so advanced that anybody who came before it wouldn't understand it or when AI overtakes human intelligence etc.) But I feel like I keep encountering the concept of singularity in my own media consumption and state of mind as of late, almost as if I've been surrounded by a cultural history of the topic.

So but this singularity, let's start here...

What came before the Big Bang? Clearly I am not the first person to think about this. But specifically, I am really caught up in thinking about how the universe supposedly started from a singularity. A singular what?  This is the part that causes me a great deal of both anxiety and wonder. I love thinking about this but it also makes me nauseously butterfly-stomached. I recently learned that this compelling sick fucked-upness feeling manifesting physically, specifically in reference to this concept of "what came before the before?" is commonly described as the "feeling of falling." (I also have the same feeling when I think about "if the universe is always expanding what is it expanding into?") I was delighted to learn that THIS IS A THING. It was very exciting to me that other people experience this wonder in the exact same way I do. And then I thought, But of course! If we're talking about singularities, we all come from the same, er, thingy. Of course we might experience things in the same way as each other. (Sometimes. Maybe?)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ray of Blight #3 Celebrity Smells, Now Available For Your Listening Pleasure

Ray of Blight is the podcast I do with one of my friends, and this episode focuses on celebrity fragrances. To collect fragrance samples we did a guerilla smell recon mission with the aid of index cards, plastic bags, a pen and a whole lot of giggling. Also, we have another installment of *NSYNC Fan Fiction, as well as Oops I Did It Again performed karaoke-style with lyrics transcribed by Google Voice Mail. Then we got an equipment upgrade!

A small sampling of relevant subtopics, as discussed: Britney Spears' Radiance and inner death, celebrity dust and genetics, drum and bass notes, the many extremes of Christina Aguilera, Taylor Swift's eyes, Everybody Wang Chunging, Perfume the movie, Faith Hill and synthetic grapefruit crossover fruit smell, boring ladies named Heidi, Paris vs Perez, Alicia Bridges, Beyonce, Justin Bieber's vulva-shaped fragrance bottle, soda suicide, CĂ©line Dion, Seal's forehead, celebrity perfume marketing, Lady Gaga, a drop of blood and a femur from Angelina Jolie, The Flame by Cheap Trick, The Dollhouse, Jennifer Lopez's Love & Light vs Love & Glamour, SJP mannishly horsin' around with Matthew Broderick, Crazy Train, confusing John Candy with Usher, Innocuous by Phil Collins, Rihanna, the smell of plastic bags and index cards, Hilary Duff's Whipped With Love, spirit mother of Kohl's Daisy Fuentes, Mariah Carey's festive Tinkerbellian Perfume, bubble gum-ish body souffle, retail therapy, nightmares on Fantasy Island.

Go listen to it now! And we're on Facebook too if you want up to the minute news. You know, late breaking celebrity smell updates. Extra! Extra! This just in! The above picture is just a sampling of what took over my kitchen table for the project.