Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The End

Somebody pooped in my sandbox.

I never thought of myself as the blogging type. In fact, my constant, repetitious overuse of the word "blog" comes from my discomfort with with the very idea. Or, more accurately came from that discomfort. You see, I've grown to quite like this blogging thing.

JakeyPen began as a way for me to keep in touch with the friends and family I left behind when I set off for DigiPen, and that's all it was ever meant to be. It started adventurously, with tales of leaving my old life behind and photographic tours of my new city, then quickly petered out. I didn't want to be the sort of person who fills the Internet with accounts of all the mundane banalities that make a day, but I found that it's these little things that are perhaps most important to who a person is. Keeping touch is not simply about the big, spectacular events, but the trivial thoughts and even the stretches of boredom.

Looking back at the last two years, it's been... something. Okay, I've hated it. There have been good times, certainly, but overall... yeah, I hate this place. I feel like I'm gaining nothing, losing plenty, and the entire experience has been shallow, empty, and isolated. This dumb little blog, though, has given me some connection to the real world. I've made a few friends, maybe communicated to a few people I already knew in a new way, and, if nothing else, the acts of thinking and writing something - anything - has had a certain soothing effect.

And now, it's over.

When I started this blog, I was given a choice - private or public. Would I require any readers to sign up for an account, be personally approved for readership, and login each time they wanted to learn my opinions of which cereals had the worst box designs? No. I made that choice, knowing that anything I wrote would be available for all the world to find and read. I made that choice, knowing that the one person in the world I didn't want to have any part in my life would one day find it. I knew this venture was doomed from the start, and I did it anyway, so I only have myself to blame if things didn't go the way I would've liked.

Everything happened as I knew it would. I don't know how long ago I was found, but I decided to stick to the commitment I'd made and finish the Blog-Off! Today is the end of the challenge, and so it is the end of JakeyPen.

A cliché sentiment, but a true one: I knew it would end one day, but I didn't expect to be so sad to see it go. I never knew I would grow so fond of blogging. The were plenty of times when I didn't want to write, but, as a whole, it's been fun.

It was fun. Now, it's just uncomfortable. For the majority of my readers, thank you, and I'm sorry to end it like this. I can't keep this up, though. It's too weird. What was a pleasant way to let you know what was happening in my world, or often an excuse for me to ramble all these words out of my mind and hands, has turned sour and awkward, though, and I'm done.

Endings are strange things, though. In real life, they don't happen. After I post this to the Web, I won't go anywhere, and there will still be words and pictures and songs inside me, as well as the need to let them out. JakeyPen is over, but Jake will live on. Even under different circumstances, I think I might be a little burnt out on blogging after two years and two long challenges, and I'm ready for a break. Don't you cry. Maybe I'll be back again someday with a private blog or under an untraceable pseudonym. Maybe the blogging chapter of my life really is done, and it's time for me to find some new angle. I don't know. At the moment, I don't care. Can you picture what will be, so limitless and free? I'll figure out something.

To the loyal fans and the occasional readers alike, thanks for the support. You've been the flaming wreck to my bent metal. It's been much nicer talking to you than it would be talking only to myself. Even here, at the end, the goal is the same as it was at the beginning - keep in touch with family and friends. If you're a new friend and you'd like to keep in touch when I re-emerge wherever and whenever that happens to be, leave a comment and we'll work something out.

Much love,

Monday, June 29, 2009

When I wrote my last post about Michael Jackson, I went back and forth on exactly what to say because I hadn't yet come to the conclusion of what to think. I ultimately settled on the few things I knew with certainty - he was one of the greatest entertainers of all time and he was unusual.

Now, time has passed and I've had time not only to think about it myself, but plenty of chances to talk to others and read their thoughts. It's left me with quite a few thoughts of my own; so many that I feel compelled to return to this subject; so many that I haven't quite sorted them all out, so my apologies if this gets a little messy and disjointed.

The most interesting viewpoints I've heard so far are not those that try to capture what Michael Jackson meant to the world, but to the individual. My own experience with Michael was probably not uncommon for people my age until recently. By the time I was born, he was already heading for his denouement, and by the time I was old enough to care, he was a surreal fantasy and easy punchline. Save for a few "Weird Al" parodies, the music had been lost in my concept of the man.

Make no mistake, Michael Jackson was bizarre, and an easy target, and I was content to leave him at that. I heard the hits, of course, but I paid them little mind. In fact, for much of my life, I was so swept up in the scandal that I would get uncomfortable at the very sound of any of his songs. You guys know me, though. You know I'm pretty big on thinking for myself. At some point, I thought I'd put aside all I knew and just listen to the music. I was blown away.

Over the past year or so, I've rapidly grown as a fan of the music, and beyond that, I've begun to reevaluate my relationship with Michael Jackson, the person. I'll state it once more, in no uncertain terms: Michael Jackson was a loon. He was crazy, but it's unfair to dismiss him as being only one thing. He was complex, to say the least. Certainly we can all agree that the man had more than one side.

Going back to my pre-fan days, I got really into ABC's "Living with Michael Jackson" special. Regardless of how things may or may not have been skewed to tell a dishonest story, that was some fine entertainment. To this day, it may be the most amusing television event of my lifetime. How long was that thing on? Like, a week? I was so excited every night, just dying to see what sort of madness Michael would have in store for me. That's the great thing about Michael Jackson - love him or hate him, he could find some way to entertain anyone, even if it was unintentional.

Maybe that comes across as a little mean. People say you're supposed to respect the dead, but I disagree. I'll get back to this a bit later.

Anyway, whilst undergoing my transformation into Michael fan, I looked the special up on YouTube, along with other interviews from across the years. I watched it again, and what I found was a very troubled person; someone who didn't seem quite like he was on the right world. Listening to him speak about diregarding age as a basis for friendship, or about how he had no greater pleasure in life than climbing a tree, and observing the interviewer's disbelief, discomfort, and disgust, mixed with a sort of restrained awe and jealousy made me think that maybe Michale Jackson was someone less bound by convention; someone who could see further, dismissed as an idiot and a freak in his time, only to one day be revered as forward-thinking and ahead of his time.

Still, he came across as a very troubled individual, and deeply damaged. As I said, in my introduction, though, I'm not terribly interested in pontificating on a distant figure, and I'd like to bring this back to Michael as he relates to my own life, though that, of course, warrants some mention of a holistic view. (If you want my take on Michael Jackson, the person, see the South Park episode, "The Jeffersons" - it's hilarious and spot-on. He wasn't a bad person, and people treated him too harshly, but he may have let his own personal problems get out of hand, probably at the expense of the people who were important to him.)

When news of Michael's death began to spread around the office, it was met with immediate jokes, and I have no problem with this. Once you enter the public eye, you are going to be subject to ridicule, and even if you're not, I think it's the idea that everyone has to be totally serious and respectful just because you're dead is... stupid. Death itself doesn't bother me. I'm not ready to die, myself. I don't believe in killing because I don't think I have the right to determine whether someone's life should end. Death itself, though? It happens. I'm not going to get too upset about Michael's death. He hasn't done anything in life that's affected me in years, so the act of his dying means nothing to me.

Obviously, though, I have a lot to say, and I've been doing a lot of thinking.

The picture at the top of this post is of Michael's iconic glove and jacket, worn during the live Billie Jean performance/Moonwalk debut atMotown 25.

The glove and jacket are on display at the Experience Music Project museum, and I didn't really know what Michael's death meant to me until seeing them. Outside the EMP, the ground was covered in sidewalk chalk messages and flowers, and inside were tables covered in paper and notes of sorrow. In the middle of it all stood a jacket and one white glove. Behind that, on an enrmous screen, played the above video. All around me was a crowd.

The death itself didn't get to me, but this did, watching all of those happy, screaming fans on the screen, and being surrounded by a captivated audience in a more bittersweet setting. I know from talking to them that my roommates aren't Michael Jackson fans, but they stood there, too, and I got the feeling that the moment meant something even to them. The connection, the solidarity - it was... moving.

There have been a lot of celebrity deaths over the past week, but I overheard someone at work talking about how this was different that events that have come before. This news seemed to travel faster than anything else ever before. Everyone knew within minutes. More amazing than that, though, was there was no question of "Who's Michael Jackson?" Farrah Fawcett died the same day, and though the name was certainly known, there were people who weren't quite sure why they should care. Not so with Michael.

This is an interesting point in history. With all of the blogs and Twitter and text messaging, news spread as quickly as it ever has before; not just pop-culture/celebrity news, but news of any kind. I take it as an indicator that we, as a society and species, have now crossed a line, and there's no going back. We know everything exactly when it happens. That's weird.

It's this same culture and technology that unifies us and grants us limitless knowledge which may have a very different effect. It's the end of mass media. We all know Michael Jackson because he dominated TV and radio. He was the King of Pop, and the last big star. This idea of a person completely dominating music is relatively recent, I believe. We've had Elvis and the Beatles and Michael Jackson. Has anyone else, ever, been the cause of such hysteria? With the fragmentation of the market and the democratic approach to finding fans over the Internet, trillions of cable stations, satellite radio, and MP3 players, will we have another? It's tough to say.

All of these things have, however briefly, turned back to Michael for now. A week ago, calling yourself a Michael Jackson fan was dangerous. His albums have continued to sell, and his upcoming tour had sold out, so obviously there were plenty of fans, but it seemed many were afraid to admit it. How often did you hear a Michael Jackson song on the radio in the past decade, even on '80s stations? How drastically things have changed in the last few days.

What I'm writing is not about Michael Jackson' death. It is not, despite what I said, about my personal connection to his music and life. This is about stories.

Life is not like most stories because it has no ending. Regardless of what happens, something will continue. The universe moves on. The closest we come to an ending is death.

I have to go to work in the morning and this is getting lengthy and unguided. I'm going to have to wrap it up tomorrow.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Breaking News! All Racial Tensions Solved Forever!

Thoughts From the Grocery Store

  • The checkout line seems like an odd place to make out.
  • The robotic voice of the shelf checkout scanner greets people with the line, "Welcome valued customer," and this is so eerie.
  • I want to buy every copy of the latest issue of Globe and wallpaper my room with the cover.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

No, Blog, No

I have not stopped moving all day with the exception of 45 minutes spent waiting for a bus.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Attention Smokers

Please don't smoke at bus stops. It's dumb.

Better yet, don't smoke anywhere where I am, or might be.

Or just don't smoke.

Ooh, on the subject of dumb things, I discovered a movie the other day called Gamebox 1.0, and you don't even know how dumb it is. It's about a video game tester (just like me!) who gets a new game system in the mail. He tries it out and it all seems too good to be true - it's the most realistic game console in the world! What he doesn't know is that it is real - if you die in the game, you die in real life! I've only watched the beginning so far, but I think I might watch the rest of it tonight. It's on YouTube, and I don't mean a pirated copy that someone illegally uploaded to the site; it's one of the select movies that YouTube has acquired the rights to legitimately host. Most of YouTube's movies are documentaries, public domain garbage, or movies so bad that the rights holder is willing to give them away over the Internet. This falls into the latter category so hard, and I love it for that.

Gamebox 1.0
This ain't no game!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This Is the End of Your Life

Michael Jackson was one of the greatest entertainers of all time. Listen to his music. Watch his videos. Play his games. Speculate about his personal life and comment on his appearance if you must, but remember that regardless of his weirdness - and, yeah, he was a weird guy - he earned his place in history.