How CAKE Shaped My Personality or: How I Became an Ironic Boy

How CAKE Shaped My Personality or: How I Became an Ironic Boy

When I was transitioning from Junior High to High School, I, much like other kids that age, ya’ know, 13-14, didn’t know who I was.  I didn’t really have a clear sense of identity, I just kinda latched onto the stuff other people were doing and tried to belong as best as I could.  I floated to and from a few different friend groups, in these transitional years, totally unsure where I belonged.  I suppose this isn’t that crazy of a story though, I’m sure this is true for many people.  I mean, who the hell figures out who they are when they’re no older than 16?

But anyway, I digress…

When I was in my sophomore year of High School my uncle, who is more or less the closest thing I have to a dad, my dad killed himself when I was seven, brutal but true, and I know what you’re thinking, but I don’t need or want sympathy, it was a long time ago, and I’ve had more than enough time to grieve and figure shit out for myself.  Anyway, where was I going with this?  Oh, right, my uncle..sorry about that.  So my uncle came into my room (I was living with my aunt and him at the time), and asked if I had ever heard the band CAKE before, because I had showed him a punk cover of the famous Gloria Gaynor song “I Will Survive”, and they had done one as well in ’96.  Naturally I hadn’t heard of them, not many people have unfortunately, which makes wearing my CAKE shirt in public a little uncomfortable, since I have the delusion in my head that most people assume I’m advertising a love of the pastry, a sort of wearable billboard that says “this is how I got fat”.  I’m a little neurotic.  Anyway, I looked up their cover of “I Will Survive” on YouTube, and was presented with this:

When John McCrea started “singing”, I didn’t know what to make of it, I actually started laughing, and I remember looking at my uncle incredulously, and probably asked something to the effect of “is this for real?  He’s just talking!” At the time, I didn’t really understand their style at all, and I dismissed it outright as just being weird comedy music.  Later on though, I started listening to more of them, starting with what is arguably their most popular album, Fashion Nugget.

cake_fashion_nugget

Eventually I  understood the music more and more, their lyrics were ironic, and sarcastic, delivered in a deadpan monotone.  sometimes CAKE’s lyrics don’t feel like they match the delivery style at all, such as the song Pentagram, which is played like a country-folky-rockabilly…y jug band jam with trumpets thrown in, but has the lyrics

Your pentagram is down below our floor.
Your naked body shimmers in the night.
Dancing and chanting in a sacrificial rite.
Your feet are dry with the ashes from dead babies
Who have passed the test just like all the rest
But never really understood the reasons why
They took it in the first place.

Delivered in droll deadpan style of course.  But over the years, my personality began to kind of form around this band, more and more their style spoke to me on a deeply personal level.  I grew calmer, spoke softly, and boy howdy did I develop an appreciation for weird ironic humor and music.  I feel like it’s kind of weird to say that a band helped me develop my personality, but that’s exactly what happened, in fact I had a running joke with my friends and family, where if someone asked me if I wanted or had done something out of my general comfort zone I’d say “dude, I listen to CAKE”, as a way of saying, “nah man, that ain’t me, I’m just a calm little ironic man”.  Ironically enough, I just realized that this blog actually has a very similar vibe, calm, sometimes ironic and funny, and also like CAKE, has some artistic merit.

Anyway, that’s my little story of how CAKE helped me to figure out the kind of person I am.

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Us v Them: On Current Politics

I’ve been debating for awhile whether or not I’ve wanted to actually make this post, and have decided that I have to; not for anyone else’s sake, because I know the words on this blog carry no weight when it comes to the world at large, but for my own sake.  I am choosing to write this because I feel the need to do so, to get these words out of my skull and onto a glowing screen.

What I’m talking about are us against them politics, which seem to have taken over all forms of discourse when it comes to political discussion, and I know that it’s been like this for awhile, what with the right versus the left in the Obama administration, but I feel like it’s really come to a head recently, and I’m sick of it.  I’m talking about a few things here, such as the Alt-Right and the Far left, as well as how the Trump administration and his disciples view the Muslim population, as well as their ideological opponents.  We live in a deeply frustrating time for anyone who thinks people should be viewed as people, rather than boogeymen and enemies.

Although I probably don’t need to offer examples of this, as one’s own life is no doubt teeming with them, I will provide some anyway.  I was on Facebook the other day (actually this was about a month ago, but all stories seem to take place the other day regardless of when they actually took place), and I saw that one of my more right leaning acquaintances from high school shared a link titled GRUESOME VIDEO: Muslim Mob Tears 27 Year Old Woman Apart Before Killing Her Over False Accusation Of Burning Quran, with the self written caption #religionofpeace.  Now, I have to agree, the content of the video is absolutely horrifying, and the people who did that should be demonized for using religion as a way of propagating violence, but what I take issue with is the use of “#religionofpeace”, which shows to me that the person who shared the link didn’t care that a fellow human was violently slaughtered in the streets, but instead got a smug sense of satisfaction from it, because in his eyes it somehow proved his world view that all Muslims are violent, and that it’s us against them.  I can’t help but see this as a self masturbatory act of othering an already unfairly discriminated group of people, which is disgusting to say the least.

 

The last movie that made me cry

I’m not too sappy of a guy, and that being said it’s pretty hard to make me cry, but the 2016 film Genius managed to do just that.  Now, I’m just learning now that critics weren’t fans of this movie, but I really enjoyed it.  The film mainly focuses on the complex friendship between renowned book editor. Maxwell Perkins, and writer, Thomas Wolfe.

Now, I should probably give a little bit of context as to the state I was in when I watched this movie.  I had the flu, and was drowning my aches, chills, and coughs with NyQuil, so needless to say, I was just barely hanging onto lucidity.

Well, the main scene that really got to me was, at one point Maxwell Perkins invited Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda to a dinner party. During the party Wolfe asks Fitzgerald if Perkins makes him cut out anything from his work (Wolfe had to cut out substantial portions of the two thousand plus page novels he brought to Perkins in the film), to which Fitzgerald answers that he doesn’t have to cut anything, because his work is never as long as Wolfe’s.  This results in a blow out where Wolfe says that the only reason Fitzgerald doesn’t write as much as him, is because he can’t, essentially calling him a washout.

Now at this point in Fitzgerald’s life he was struggling to write anything, and his wife had only just recently been released from an institution, so Perkins takes massive umbrage with Wolfe essentially shitting on him as a writer.  Perkins takes Wolfe outside and berates him for his behavior, and asks him how many words he wrote that day (five thousand), to which Perkins replies with what I thought was a beautiful devastating line: “Scott wrote maybe a hundred, if today was a good day.  He needs to write as much as you do, he fights over every word!”

And it was then, laid up in my sick bed, in the grips of a fever, that I started to well up, because I know how it feels to need to write, to fight over every word.  I felt for F. Scott Fitzgerald in that moment, I ached for him, because I couldn’t and can’t t imagine being so talented, but unable to do anything with that talent, and to be criticized so heavily for it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Okay, this story doesn’t make any fucking sense.  I’m not talking about how like, the Grinch alternatively stole Christmas, I understand that, it is a kid’s book and all.  Okay, what I’m talking about here is- okay so Whoville is populated by Whos, who have a different physiology and culture from humans entirely.  This is further proven when we look at Horton Hears a Who, which takes place in the greater Seuss universe.  In Horton Hears a Who we learn that Whoville exists on a speck on a flower, further proving that Whos are not humans.

And yet, they celebrate Christmas; the story of Christ’s birth and resurrection.

Okay, stay with me here, this must mean that the Whos have their own version of Christ, a Who-Christ, who was a betrayed by Whodas, was a practicing Who-Jew, and was crucified by some sort of Who analogue to Romans.

But it goes deeper than that, this must also mean that the Whos have their own version of the bible, probably written in seussian rhyme, with lines like

“We’ll show this false prophet, we’ll beat him with ease!
We’ll beat him with use of our crucifixion machines!”

and

“With nails in his hands and one in his feet,
We’ll show this Christ that Romans will never be beat!”

 

Anyway.. How the Grinch Stole Christmas doesn’t make any goddamn sense.