Whose World Is This?

I’ve spent these last few weeks reflecting on the people, places, and things 2013 has gifted me with and how different my life and mentality has changed compared to one year ago. In doing so, I’ve compiled a short list of things that I’ve worked very hard to change in my life, all of which have drastically impacted how I approach my every day. With the help of motivational speakers (such as Les Brown and Zig Ziglar), new (and old) friends, my parents, exercise, fresh opportunities, and reevaluating my priorities, I am happy to say that these tools have combined to hold my hand through the lows and push me to new heights. Here are a few I’ve learned in the past year:

  • Dream HUGE, but don’t overlook or skip the small steps.

Any dream you strive towards takes a large amount of time to create and countless baby steps that are necessary to get there. Although a very small amount of people are able to obtain their end game quickly and with little turmoil, that is not the case for most of us. Steady the course and don’t overlook the finite details needed to make today better than yesterday. You can do it if you believe.

  • Don’t put ‘all of your eggs into one basket’.

Be flexible and don’t hold tight to a constricted view that only one way is the right way. A willingness to learn, the ability to adjust accordingly, and the drive to continue moving forward will be crucial in your overall success and general sanity in this life. You must have faith that if you continue to work hard at the things you want, opportunities will present themselves.

  • Don’t fixate on the endgame, enjoy the journey.

One of the top reasons people don’t follow through with their dreams (or even New Year’s resolutions) is that they expect, and desire, immediate results. Heck, we all do. But riddle me this: if you began playing football today for the first time, would you expect to be Dan Marino by May? If you are indeed chasing your dream, you should ideally LOVE what you do. If you don’t you WILL quit or give up. No matter how ridiculously satisfying it may be to see your album on the shelf of a record store or watch your film on the big screen, it will be tenfold more rewarding to see the end result as both complete and its best. Don’t rush it.

  • Don’t let fear dictate anything you do or don’t do.

A slogan that is constantly brought up in motivational speeches is the concept that “fear is a construct of the mind”. This statement is completely accurate. Why not write a letter to your favorite author, singer, or movie star? Why not apply for a job that is “way beyond your qualifications”? Why not ask the prettiest girl or cutest guy in the office out on a date? Why not tell a friend “thank you” when they constantly provide support and simultaneously push you further? It sure does take a lot more courage to look back on your life and say “I failed” as opposed to saying “what if”. Chances are if you shun fear and continue to stay after it, with your goal clearly in sight, those failures will propel you to a success you never imagined could ever exist.  

  • Be malleable to change and take criticisms.

This one is insanely hard, but tough skin is required if you want your work to stand out and be its finest. Yes, it is always nice to hear supportive comments and positive cheer leading from friends and family members but it is extremely difficult to make anything better if you never challenge it to be better. Put your work in the hands of someone you know is going to shred it, rip it apart, send it through the meat grinder. Even if you don’t necessarily agree with their standpoints, it will encourage you to open your eyes to new insights and perspectives you never had before. And, eventually, your work will become its strongest.

  • Work at your dream and goal EVERY SINGLE DAY.

This is the top reason people don’t achieve the goals they set for themselves. It’s too easy to “take a day off” or “give yourself a cheat day” or “start doing _____ on Monday”. If you ask me, there is no such mentality  You want change? Make it happen TODAY. This may sound a little like a spitting-angry, bald-headed drill sergeant, but I believe this to be absolutely, without any reasonable doubt, 100% factual. Pushing through the mental, physical, or emotional pains makes you so much stronger, even if it’s just “one of those small steps”. Making a determinant effort every day to do the things necessary for a brighter future will encourage you to develop a ‘groove’, a strict self-regimen that you love and couldn’t imagine being without. Trust me, the results will follow. 

 

If you’ve made this far, I’d like to close with one short personal story that changed my life in a constructive way.

After my second knee surgery in 2010, I weighed almost 210 pounds and was easily the heaviest I’ve ever been (I’m only about 5’8, on a good day). Growing up with athletics all year round, the inactivity and weight gain I experienced was something that not only upset me, but was also foreign and completely terrifying. After I was cleared to move again, I knew this wasn’t the life I wanted for myself and I had to make a change. I started this process very slowly, at a crawl if you will. After 15 minutes on a stationary bike I was exhausted; but I continued to push forward every day. For weeks I remained at that 15 minute mark which, to most, is nothing. Maybe even a waste of time. After a while, I started incrementally increasing the duration of my workouts as well as the intensity. Before I knew it, I was shedding pounds like a sumo wrestler who fell asleep in the steam room. Months went by before I experienced any results I deemed “rewarding” but I kept getting after it day, after day, after day. Regardless of how much I thought weight loss would never happen. Despite how much I let fear and doubt take the reins of my life. Despite the little voice in my head whispering “you can’t do it”.

You can do it.

Believe in yourself. Trust in your vision. Create your own opportunities. Achieve your dream.

Best of luck to all of you in 2014.

“The world is yours”.  – Nas

Christmas Tree Push Back

“I guess it’s that time of the year”, he said,

Lugging the Christmas tree behind the shed.

“One more day and it will be totally dead”,

“Time to put this withering sapling to bed”.

.

Looking down to find his shoe was untied,

He put the tree down and sluggishly sighed.

When he looked up he was weirdly surprised,

That the Christmas tree somehow ran back inside.

.

He stomped in his house, looking for the tree,

By following the trail of pine needle debris.

“This is impossible, no, how can this be?”

As his eyes were engulfed in a colorful sea.

.

His wife and the children were gathered around,

With their 3 cats, 5 birds, and 2 big bloodhounds.

Their mouths were wide open, not making a sound,

“Didn’t you just take this Christmas tree down?”

.

This wasn’t a question he wanted to hear,

But the new solution was now crystal clear,

He went to the fridge and grabbed a cold beer,

“This thing is staying up for a whole ‘nother year”.

Ice Cold Milk: Sunday Showcase with Walter Mitty and His Makeshift Orchestra (P. 1)

Milk

Milk Flud has been an ongoing, never ceasing source of support and encouragement to me for about 3 years now. Upon our first encounters, his many talents and laid back demeanor were blatantly apparent in the way he carried himself. His genuinely positive attitude and tender actions towards others makes him a consistent pleasure to be around. When he isn’t welcoming guests into their 740 square foot slice of heavenly utopia in NE Portland, he and close friend Dustin “Dusty” Hayes create music under the pseudonym ‘Walter Mitty and His Makeshift Orchestra’. Not to be confused with the blockbuster film starring Ben Stiller, Walter Mitty is nothing short of a fanciful masterpiece of folk punk proportions. Its melodic and soothing instrumentals perfectly couple with its thought provoking lyrics hinted with revolutionary inclinations. Milk Flud enjoys spending his remaining free time making breathtaking beats, caring for dogs, and eating pasta.

I had the divine privilege of sitting down with Milk for a brief Q & A discussing his aspirations and desires for the future for WM, his instrumental career, and his hopes for humanity. Stay tuned for Part 2 with Dustin Hayes next Sunday.

Tell us a little bit about Walter Mitty and his Makeshift Orchestra. How did you guys initially meet each other and get started? With the incremental success and positive buzz in regards to your last album ‘Overwhelmed and Underdressed’, can all the WM fans out there anticipate new material soon?

WM FeatureWell, I wasn’t actually there at the very start of Walter Mitty so I don’t know exactly how it all went down. Something about Dustin and Kris playing acoustic songs in their underwear. I met Dustin in a class at community college in San Luis Obispo. When I asked him for a ride home one day and even though we had very different tastes in music we jammed frequently and some of our hobbies were instrumental in forming the first part of our friendship. It took me around 7 times of hanging out with Kris for him to remember my name. There is definitely new WM album coming in the near future, read the back of the Group Picture zine (discussed below).

 

There’s been growing chatter around the instrumental side projects of Milk Flud (A.K.A. Milk Beats). Are you working on anything new as of late? Would you ever toy with the idea of live sets?

Wet GlassYes, yes, yes to all of that. I have been making beats since the early days of high school but have taken a step back from it with all the other band stuff going on. The goal is to have some type of hip-hop project out this year whether it’s all instrumental or with vocals, or one of each. I also really want to get into creating more visual stuff like a short film or something. There will DEFINITELY be live sets happening. I’ve wanted to do it for far too long and now it’s time to actually make it a reality. Just have to wrap up a couple of other projects first and then it’s once again time to focus on solo material.

 

‘Goat Cheese’, ‘Wet Glass’, and ‘Overwhelmed and Underdressed’ were released on digital download and purchasable cassette tapes. In a music world that seems to be reverting back to predominantly vinyl releases, why do you guys elect to push your music to cassette tapes? Has this choice impacted fan consumption of your music?

Haha well Lauren Records did the WM discography cassette release, and then I did the others on tape just for fun because I had a tape duplicator and enjoyed making the covers with Dustin and our best friend/intern/roommate Kate. I didn’t really expect anybody to buy them, but people actually did which was awesome! Vinyl is my true love in terms of format and my goal is to get to a point financially where I can consistently get MakingNewEnemies releases on Vinyl. But for now, I’m cool with donation based releases on Bandcamp.

 

Walter Mitty releases and promotes their music with the help of record label Lauren Records. However, you guys also proudly display your musical work on your website (Making New Enemies) along with the creations of friends and counterparts in a variety of other mediums such as photo, video, and acrylics. To the naked eye, Making New Enemies is a fun and enjoyable website for artistic collaboration. Does it carry a deeper meaning to you?

Lauren Records did the WM re-release of ‘Overwhelmed’ on vinyl and the WM discog tape, other than that we haven’t worked with any other labels or anything, and I’d like to keep it that way. Huge shout outs to Aaron (who runs Lauren Recs and plays in one of my favorite bands Summer Vacation and makes killer lo-fi pop songs under the name Peanut Butter Cups). He has been essential in getting us to where we are now and has helped us out so, so much.

However, in the future I want to be totally in charge of everything we do because I have incredible anxiety and am a control freak about these types of things. MakingNewEnemies is basically an “online art drawer” where we can store our dumb little projects so they have a place to rest eternally, and if people are into it then that’s awesome! In our travels we have met quite an eclectic cast of characters who are getting more involved which is awesome. It’s all I really care about at this point of my life. All of my life decisions are based off how I can improve MNE.

But we have so many plans for MNE in the future and with more people are getting involved as most of my friends are experiencing what I call the “weird 20’s” post college limbo and starting to do more radical things and creating, which I firmly believe is the most honest way to interact and interpret the world around you.

You guys recently debuted and showcased “Group Picture: Vol. 3” on Christmas a few days ago. What is the purpose of this project and why have you guys made it for the last three years?

Group Picture is an annual compilation that MNE does to showcase and encourage the work of all our friends and people we have met on our travels. This was the 3rd year we’ve done it and this one was especially special because it was the first time there was a zine associated with it. It stems from the belief that there no such thing as “bad” art and if it came authentically from you, then it is automatically the greatest thing ever made.

There is no better feeling in the world then being truly inspired by something, and what personally inspires me the most is seeing the amazing things my friends make. Group Picture is something incredibly special to me and I hope to one day be curating Group Picture Volume 50 with an album, zine, book, film, theatrical play, 5 course meal, performance art theater, best in show dog competition, etc.

Explore, Learn, Create.

 

Take a sip of ice cold Milk and follow his journey (and Walter Mitty’s) at:

MNE

Twitter: @makenewenemies

Instagram: @makingnewenemies & @milkflud

Facebook: Walter Mitty and his Makeshift Orchestra

 

The Meaning in Process

As I carefully place every plank,

Each more perfect than the last,

I already have the understanding,

My desires won’t happen fast.

 .

It’s a lot of tiresome, hard work,

It’s a lot of frustrating time spent,

Patiently sanding each square inch,

Forgetting about dollars and cents.

 .

Although sometimes I ponder and worry,

Is there real beauty in patience?

Then I realize my goal in sight,

Is worth all the fussy maintenance.

.

But I find myself always looking up,

Sometimes I have to convince myself,

That anything you want is worth chasing,

And should never be placed on the shelf.

 .

My hammer pounds endless nails,

And that yellow sun comes and goes,

Forget about all the stupid cons,

And keep focusing all on those pros.

 .

I occasionally take one step backwards,

Two, three, and sometimes even four,

I close my eyes and quietly say,

Can this soul really take much more?

 .

Though with this delusional attitude,

Empowered by optimism and love,

I’m able to recognize the progress,

And continue to rise above.

 .

Till one day I’ll find comfort in knowing,

While I nervously bite my thumb nail,

It’s finally ready, the deed is done,

And my ship will cast off and set sail.

Mountainous-Mint-Igloo-Icicle Pie

I woke up this morning to pleasantly find a joyfully ironic turn of events. Santa Claus, in all his jolly and wonderment, left ME a letter after his pit stop at our house in the silence of last night. Written on a piece of yellow construction paper using a “Royal Sash Purple” Crayola pen, he left me a creative and insightful message that I couldn’t help but share.

Kyle,

 

This letter contains lots of holiday cheers. You’ve been a good boy for so many years. The way you treat others is kind and polite. This characteristic is a heartwarming sight. For this, I’ve brought you something neat. It’s a soft and sweet and delicate treat. This came straight from Mrs. Claus’ North Pole oven. Made with a dash of care and a half-cup of lovin’. This is a ‘Mountainous-Mint-Igloo-Icicle Pie”. It will make every one of your taste buds fly. Relish this unique and flavorful delight. For now I must fly off into the night. The greatest gift you can receive this season. Is spending time with those who give living a reason.

-S.C.

  

I would like to wish you a Cheery Christmas, Crazy Kwanza, Happy Hanukah, and all in between. Regardless of your personal beliefs or practices, I hope you all experience endless glee and holiday ecstasy.

A Shift In Holiday Priorities

Happy,

Snow,

Sappy,

Glow.

.

Christmas sweater,

Holiday cheer,

Nothing better,

Santa’s near.

.

Tucked and snug,

Prayers are said,

Sugar plums dance,

Inside my head.

.

The fire is roaring,

Give stockings sweet heat,

Mr. Claus is exploring,

Searching for his treats.

 .

Reindeer patter on our house,

The milk is getting warm,

Santa tiptoes like a mouse,

He avoids the noisy swarm.

 .

Tinsel, twine, the Tristmas Twee,

With lots of presents stored beneath,

Many gifts for you and me,

All I want: two front teeth.

.

I have neither partridges nor pear trees,

But nostalgia I have plenty in excess,

Moms cookies weaken me at the knees,

And chase away my work day stress.

 .

As this year’s festivities come to a close,

And all my family members’ bellies are full,

My cheeks are brighter than Rudolph’s red nose,

In my sweater made from Grandma’s soft wool.

 .

Thankfully, Santa Claus can finally rest up and sleep,

He let the elves go home to their kin,

The North Pole is undergoing a silence so deep,

As they bask in their hard earned holiday win.

.

Though I come back for the family that raised me,

The end of December will forever remain a delicious treat,

My strongest desire is that one day all will see,

Though presents are nice, the people are just as sweet.

.

An Early Stocking Stuffer: Sunday Showcase with Alex Crawford

AC

Young dreamer, wishful visionary, and filmography ‘swiss army knife’ Alexander Crawford has been a good friend and faithful constituent of mine for several years. In his college days at Oregon State University, he spent the majority of his leisure time entertaining countless people by mentally enthralling them with endless humor and wit. Currently, when he isn’t operating the operating sound boards for ESPN Sports Radio 1080 The Fan, he spends his time and efforts towards telling the historic story of the 1967 Oregon State football team commonly known as the ‘Giant Killers’. He and director Riley Hayes are combining their efforts towards fundraising to transform this ideal thought into a sports documentary masterpiece for all to enjoy. Help Alex achieve his dreams by following him through this exciting time and viewing the trailer at the link provided below. Trust me, you’ll want to.

I had the pleasure and honor to sit down with Alex for a brief Q & A regarding his dreams, wishes, and some general opinions of the film industry. Please enjoy.

Tell our viewers a little bit about your current project? How can they help?

Legend of the Giant Killers is a documentary that will tell the story of the 1967 Oregon State football team. That team, to me, is the most iconic team in Oregon State history and their story has come to embody the “sense” of what Oregon State is about as a university today. With this project I want to explore how one football season becomes part of a university’s or a state’s history and how that history becomes legend that grows bigger and more important as time passes.

Right now we are in the preproduction stage: getting donations and investors so we can reach our budgeted goal of $42,000 and make a documentary that is of the utmost quality. We want to make a film that immortalizes this team so that their story, one of the greatest and most inspiring sports stories to ever come out of the state of Oregon, is not forgotten. Few will remember or want to view an average production multiple times.

You can watch the extended trailer below.

If you could spend one night with any film director or producer of your choice (either dead or alive), who would it be and why?

I know it may sound cliché but I’d have to say Quentin Tarrantino. It’s been said “Good artists copy, great artists steal,” and I think no filmmaker better embodies this saying more than Tarrantino. His movies are like a collage of film noir, 70s exploitation stylized violence, and revisionist history. If I could make just one film that is anything like a Tarrantino multi-layered masterpiece then I could retire and spend the rest of my days riding my bike up and down the Newport Beach boardwalk.

Also, he uses music in his films better than anyone else and I think that a movie without a killer soundtrack is like a non-alcoholic beer, you’re not getting all you can out of it. It’s an incomplete product.

Do you ever feel your personal film standards, ethics, and goals clash with the expectations of the current industry?

To be honest, this is the biggest film project I’ve undertaken. Everything else I’ve done has been somewhat recreational so, on Legend of the Giant Killers, I haven’t had to deal with expectations of anyone except for myself and the group of individuals I’m working with. If anything, because this is my first foray into the film industry, no one is expecting too much out of me so when we finish this film, everyone is going to be blown away. 

What is one retroactive piece of advice the ‘almost 23-year old’ Alex Crawford would give to your 18 year old self?

Stop hitting on every pretty girl you see and just focus on one at a time. Either that or I’d want my 18 year old self to realize that no one in this big bureaucracy we call the world has any real idea what’s going on. Too often in the past I let myself get intimidated too easily by the obstacles in my way and I think a lot of that stems from thinking that everyone else has a total grasp on what path they need to take to reach their goals. In reality, everyone is just kind of free styling as they go.

What is the largest obstacle impeding your path on the road to achieving your dreams?

Money. I know it sucks to say that but for me, the biggest obstacle right now, is money. I have the motivation, I have the supporting cast (on Legend of the Giant Killers, Riley Hayes is my director and I have the time but , as I think everyone finds out, to make your vision become reality you need some financial support.

Follow Alex’s Journey:

Twitter: @dr_crawf

Instagram: @thedenimdemon

Facebook: Alexander J. Crawford

Vimeo Trailer:

Sid: The Squirmy, Sock Stealing Squid

There’s a very common misconception,

A wrong and foolish misguided perception,

That your average washer and dryer,

Cleans your socks and offers protection.

 

For a very long time, we humans knew not,

Confused and lost, the answers we sought,

Where are my socks disappearing to?

There were just here…now they’re not.

 

Some strange theories foretell the place,

Where socks will virtually go missing in space,

Tis a miniature creature inside your dryer,

Who will never, ever show its face.

 

Well…

 

Here is some exciting news for you,

I found where our socks have vanished to,

A beast inside your washing machine,

Is hiding just slightly out of plain view.

 

Sid, the squirmy, sock stealing squid,

Grows irritated and utterly livid,

Electing the land of splish and splash,

From the surface world where it’s forbid.

 

It forms a bungalow with stolen socks,

Pocket change, lint, and, sometimes, rocks,

And it chuckles all day while you’re away,

And waits to strike like a ravenous fox.

 

It’s flat, magenta, and microscopic,

Its tentacles are long and fiber optic,

A brightly vivid creature, indeed,

Thieving socks is a really mean trick.

 

Now I have no matching socks to my name,

And I know exactly what is to blame,

But until we find a way to stop Sid,

This “Missing Sock” story will remain the same.