Sunday, October 31, 2021

Happy Halloween!

Welcome back to a new year of Halloween weirdness. Hope you're ready!

It's been more than a bit trying for everyone over the past couple of years, but that doesn't mean we can't take a break to indulge in our imaginations a little. What better time than the day before All Soul's Day?

This year I'll share a few fun things you could do for Halloween, especially if you're planning on staying in and relaxing. It is the weekend, after all.

First up, for Cannon Cruisers this year we decided to cover a pair of American adaptions of Japanese properties with the Guyver movies. It was kind of a weird experience since we watched them back to back and topped it off with a watch of the first episode of the 2005 anime adaption of the 1970s manga. It was a lot of Guyver.

You can watch it here on the Cannon Cruisers site.

Up next, the Superversive Podcast is doing a Halloween Special of their own reading both classic stories and new ones. It's going to be jampacked with all sorts of people. I will also be on it reading the first part of Y Signal for everyone to enjoy.

The stream reservations is below:

Don't forget that they also have a spooky series of their own in Pinkerton's Ghosts. You can watch all 50+ ongoing episodes on the channel here.

Last but not least, I'm going to top it off with something you can watch with your kids and younger relatives. That would be the 1990s kid classic Are You Afraid of the Dark? which has the entire series up for free and perfectly legal on YouTube.

You can watch the entire near 100 episode series here, and a random episode is listed below:

I hope that's more than enough good stuff to keep you satiated this weird and wild day! Remember that it's all in good fun and that we've got even more exciting days ahead.

The year isn't over yet!

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Art of God

Have you ever woken up and had the impression that you are not where you're supposed to be? That this world isn't right, and that you're missing something that should be blatantly obvious, yet isn't? You probably have, especially these days. The world has changed so radically over the last decade and is changing even faster over smaller periods of time.

By tomorrow, everything we knew could be long gone and forgotten. And if it is, what can we do about it?

All the more reason why preparing for the future is paramount, probably more than it ever has been and certainly more than it has over the last decade. Nevertheless, one cannot prepare for the future without having some understanding of the past, which is definitely a weak point for many these days. Nostalgia has overtaken common sense, and product supersedes humanity.

It is difficult to connect with the past when you only see part of it, and the rest is obscured by nostalgics and propagandists. We are missing the bigger picture here.

The most tired aspect of modern culture is constantly dealing with and talking about nostalgia. It's a vicious circle that never ends as we consistently deal with echoes of the same issues we've been tackling since the middle of the 20th century. Where worship of the past was just about non-existent in mainstream culture in the '00s, it soon poured in from the fringes to make the 2010s a characterless blob of a decade with nothing original to show for itself. Why did this happen, and why are we still dealing with this exact same atmosphere in the 2020s? Certainly a new decade means change, right? That is what we were taught was supposed to happen.

But reality had other plans.

Truth be told, we all know Cultural Ground Zero is the marking of the moment of the end of 20th century culture and all that lead up to it finally running out of steam, but that shouldn't explain our drive to steadfastly ignore this reality. We still won't acknowledge the world has changed. We might say it has, but we definitely don't act like it. 

We spent the 2000s depressed at the state of the modern world, and the 2010s angry at the state of the modern world, leaving us with little future to think about aside from how bad current events are. All that really remains is the past, so to weaponize that is all that some of the less talented among us have left to offer. And rest assured, no one who tries to use the past as a sledgehammer against reality has anything inside them resembling good intentions. As long as they remain in charge, and as long as you give them any sort of approval or acknowledgement, this is what you will continue to get, forever and ever.

It is what happens when you give support to people who hate you. This is why no one throughout history has ever done this, aside from us.

Until we let the past, present, and future, be what they are, we will be trapped in this endlessly spinning cyclone forever. Imagine an old washing machine rattling endlessly in an old rotting house, the decaying floors and walls creaking against its jittering weight as it attempts to pointlessly do its job. We all know what is eventually going to happen in such a situation. The ones in charge, however, do not care.

It also doesn't help that most every modern man is a utopian at heart, believing that if everyone were to prescribe to one ideology in particular the world would reach Heaven on Earth. This doesn't even matter what your religion is (and yes, you have a religion even if you say you don't: learn what the word means) because everyone does this.

How often have to gone through it in your head? Certainly the school system worked hard to beat it into student's skulls, to the point that they can remember it far more easier than multiplication tables or where China is on the map.

The story is that the industrial revolution changed human nature forever and now pain and suffering would go away because of Progress thereby bringing in paradise and saving fallen humanity. It never happened and it never will, but no one can get it out of their heads. Looking back on it now, one can't help but see it for the farce it is. This attitude explains why a lot of the things people thought and did during the last century seems so bizarre from an outsider perspective.

Why did it feel like the majority of the western world throughout the 20th century was more obsessed with telling people Heaven was just a folk song and cry session away from arriving on Earth, instead of pursuing truth or building towards anything?

Did no one think to build new bridges while the old ones were rusting?

We've covered this on Wasteland & Sky many times already, from Hollywood to OldPub to current bombs like the comic book industry or the whatever is left of the old record labels. No one really wants to create--they want to enforce a narrative for a group that will enshrine them as high priests and build statues in their honor. They just have to get it through their soft brains that the Special People have all the correct answers for them.

Tearing things from the base, fetishizing what you like at the cost of all others, and cutting off anything else, is the main priority of today's supposed artist. Limit your audience intentionally and if they don't connect with you, well, that's their problem. You have something to say, and if they don't want to hear it then they are the ones who are wrong.

You must boost yourself up in order to stand on others. And as an artist that is your destiny--to be above the masses.

But this is the opposite of the purpose of the artist. It never worked this way before. The purpose is to find ways to share your experience of the world with the audience so that you can both come closer together in Truth and understanding of reality. In this aspect, creation is religious, because you are attempting to share the word with the world. You are trying to get them to come together, if only for a single second, for something bigger than what you each have individually. Forget all art being political: all art is religious.

Which brings us to modern "religious" art. This is going to be a tough subject to cover without offending anyone, but that would only be if the intent was to purposefully drive people away from the larger point here. If all art is religious, then what can be said about modern religious art in comparison to mainstream or "secular" art as they call it? 

The truth is that "secular" and "religious" art are two lesser halves of a whole. On their own they are only have a mere fraction of what they can be. If all art and entertainment is religious, and it is, then how can there be a separate "religious" and "secular" art?

That's just it: there can't be.

It can simply be told that there is no such division of religious and secular art and anyone who thinks there is has bought into a frame that never existed before the 20th century. Separate "religious" and "secular" art do not exist.

We're going to have to go through a real gauntlet to get through this subject, so please bear with me. First we must gather some perspective.

One thing we really do need to realize is that the 20th Century is not reality: it's an aberration. The invention of "religious" art as a product and wholly independent industry in modern terms is a misnomer. It isn't real.

Note that I am not talking about statues or paintings of religious figures or events--such things are still art, just of higher value to certain groups for obvious reasons. They are still art regardless of their origins or higher intent behind them. I am specifically referring to the idea that secular things have no bearing on religion and religious things have no bearing on secular things, which isn't true. Before the 20th century, nobody considered this division when creating. They didn't consider it because it didn't exist. We created this false frame ourselves.

Religion is about how one views your purpose in the world and what your role in existence is. Everyone has a religion because everyone believes they have value and purpose outside of themselves and in the universe they live in. If you didn't believe in a purpose you would join the unfortunately growing number of suicides creeping all across the western world. As the expression goes, it doesn't matter if you believe in God because He believes in you. The reality of it is that existence outside of yourself will push you onward and force you to learn, trust, and grow in the world you live. You will learn to believe in things outside yourself or you will die.

You are a creature of faith, even if you don't think you are.

Therefore, one cannot create a piece of art that is not religious. The subject is unavoidable. Every piece of art is embedded with what the creator believes, on some level. You are what you believe, in the end. The only way you wouldn't would be is if you were a complete and frothing nihilist, but even then you would be expressing your philosophy through the events in your work. It just is the way it is. It cannot be avoided, and for centuries before us it never was.

This idea of separates did not fall out of the sky, either. What happened is that the West became so comfortable with their vision of utopia coming soon that different groups of people pushed in different directions to steer the ship. One group decided to throw out everything that came before because the future was here and now, and the past was evil and to be forgotten. Once we throw off the chains of our horrible ancestors and burn them in effigy, and apparently do this over and over forever, we can finally Evolve into our next stage. Whatever that is we do not know. But it will happen someday. At some point. Definitely. Just you wait. Anytime now.

However, this is just one of the groups dealing with unreality. The other group that caused the division between the religious and the secular is the Christian Entertainment Industry stationed all over the Western world. They made the division deeper.

I can hear the objections already. How can a religious group forcibly divide religion and secular art? Wasn't it the utopians that did that? The answer would be that yes, they did. And the Christian Entertainment Industry is half of the cause. They are both to blame.

This divide was caused by the secular purposefully pulling away from the religious and the religious purposefully pulling away from the secular. The gap is so wide today because of this fissure that was deliberately caused so long ago. In many ways both sides just consist of different takes on approaching the "Americanism" heresy that believed a specific place and people on Earth were destined to create a new Eden.

Now, before we go any further I'm going to have to make a few things clear. This is not an argument against any specific denomination of Christianity or groups within said denomination. The subject is not specifically theological in nature which has little to do with what the issue we are covering is actually about. We are speaking of worldly problems and behaviors that caused the troubles which lead us to where we are today.

Living as a utopian is not dependent on where you spend your Saturdays or Sundays, it is about what you believe human nature will consist of hundreds of years after you are gone. If you believe it anything but unchanging and that reality itself can absolutely be warped by thinking the right thoughts and saying the right platitudes then you are a utopian. Since this is something everyone involved in the Christian Entertainment Industry absolutely believes, they are therefore utopian. And this is what we will keep in mind moving forward today.

Modern Christian Art is actually an incorrect descriptor. It is not particularly Christian, it is not really Art, though it is thoroughly Modern. I suppose 1 out of 3 isn't a total failure, though they did hit the worst of them dead on.

For an example of what we are talking about, we can mention any number of things. Movies such as God's Not Dead, books such as Left Behind, or music such as the heavily regulated and gatekept CCM industry, all exist to sell a prepackaged ahistorical soft serving of mid-20th century values and platitudes complete with their own religion heavily based on a modern view of the world that didn't exist before Industrialization and, to be frank, no longer exists today. Their framework is hinged on a time and place that was a waterdrop in the waterfall of history.

It is in fact the makings of a religion, but it isn't framed around Christianity. It is framed around safe, saran-wrapped modernist living for first world baby boomers that came of age over half a century ago. They are more or less 20th century Amish only still entirely dependent on the grid. They even have the three aspects one need to be considered a makeshift religion.

They have a cult: that would be "Bible-based Christianity" though a thoroughly 20th century view on what that means which is always different depending on the date of the calendar (but never before 1950 or so) and use their own "Christianese" language to speak to the ingroup. They also tend to call themselves "non-denominational" though sometimes Evangelical though that is increasingly rarer. The point is that they all share far too similar habits.

They have a code: a thoroughly modern baby boomer outlook on existence usually hinged, purely coincidentally I'm sure, on William F Buckley. You might as well look up to King Louis IX. He has about as much bearing on the modern age. More, actually.

They have a creed: this would be their stale and unchanging art meant to keep you locked down to one place and time while the world around them goes to hell in a handbasket. This would be the Christian Entertainment Industry, which fails at being Christian and fails at being Entertainment. But it does keep you complacent in modernism, and that is what matters more.

From what I can learn, the source of all this is the early evangelical explosion around the mid-20th century which brought up many figures from Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Francis Schaeffer, among others you still hear about today over half a century later. This group would go on to influence philosophical attitudes that later pundits would call "conservative" in outlook. Though, being a faith revival it wasn't conservative in nature, it was in fact very progressive in its ambitions. What such people are actually attempting to conserve today is this movement, social climate, attitudes, and all that goes with it.

It's looked at today as a big boom of Conservative culture, though it is in actuality a fairly modern movement stationed in a particular place and time meant to lead us to a utopia. Heaven on Earth. Much of this consisted of an explosion in Modernist Evangelical art and culture by the likes of Jack Chick or Focus on the Family which hinged everything on this new "Bible-based" movement that would be the handbook to a better future.

And this is the group the runs the Christian Entertainment Industry.

Now, to be fair, there is nothing wrong with a religious revival, nor is there anything wrong with people excited to share their new found discovery of the meaning of existence with everyone they can. To say otherwise would be juvenile and sophomoric. What is wrong is said people using their new found discovery as the art equivalent of soma to lull those around them into a modernist slumber of blandly being safe, fat, and happy. This is the real goal of the industry more than anything. Here they will give you guidelines you need to reach to be put into specialized Christian stores, otherwise your art is Not Christian Enough and is not fit to be consumed by the faithful. Disagree with their official doctrine? Well, you're on your own.

Given that no one believes in mid-20th century first world boomerism aside from a small gaggle of people, a lot of people are on their own. Where does connecting and reaching the world come into play here? That's the problem. It doesn't.

The issue with such a thing is that the standards this industry runs on is one divorced from the majority of Christians (Evangelical or not), the majority of the world, and the rest of history itself. Art is made to connect with the most amount of people possible--the above industry is very deliberately tailored to not do that. Instead they have made new standards to carve out their own special space not unlike the one Fandom used to destroy adventure fiction.

Actually, it is very much the same idea.

Admittedly, at least they didn't hijack another subculture to do this like Fandom did, but it doesn't change the realization that they deliberately made an industry that thrives off ignoring reality for pumping soma into a plastic bubble culture while the world around them goes to hell. This wouldn't be so bad if they didn't try to hijack in entire religion instead and alter the perception of it so badly that every knucklehead and Millennial uses this group as an example of your average Christian believer. This is actually worse than what happened to adventure fiction because it is affecting a several thousand year old religion in the process.

All for what? Conserving a false modern world that is currently on its death bed? We shouldn't be trying to save the 20th century. It's already dead. We should be letting it go.

Think about this logically. Is there a Hindu Entertainment Industry? No. There is Bollywood, but it isn't explicitly Hindu over being Indian. Why? Because it is prepackaged in the fact that it is based around India's entire national character, which includes Hinduism. Secular and religious are one and the same, because they naturally are. You can notice the same for every other religion: there is no entertainment industry fashioned around them to serve soma to cultural members. They are just naturally embedded in the art already being made.

They just make art. This industry cannot do that.

Of course the natural reaction to the above charge is reflection. We will then have to go on about how Hollywood/OldPub/whoever hates religion as a concept and wants nothing to do with anything that isn't modernist secular cultism. That is fair, they clearly do. They are very clearly a problem. Any objective analysis of their products these days shows that they definitely know less than nothing about religion. Everyone knows that.

But this doesn't excuse making the exact opposite error they made. Now we have two different industries that are at best half of what they should be and deliberately cutting themselves off at the knees to cater to shrinking demographics. Both sides are attempting to fashion a construct around themselves instead of engaging with reality as it is. If you want to know a source for the recent downturn in mainstream art and entertainment it is this truth catching up to them. Their time is at an end, and they deserve it.

A religion is not a cult. I know a lot of haha funnymen in the 1990s tried to convince you they were the same, but they are actually very different things.

Religions exist for the purpose of connecting life and purpose to a higher meaning outside of our perceived reality. We want to know more about why we're here and what it all means. This is a way of opening thought to wider and larger perceptions of reality.

Those who say "religion controls you" are wrong: religion offers guidelines and food for thought that allow you to better understand your place in the world. There is not religion on Earth that thinks you becoming a member will instantly make your life easy and give you a pass through hardship and strife. We used to know this before fedora garbage became common. Religion teaches you to work with and understand the world you live in--it isn't a toggle to turn on easy mode. This isn't what any religious person honestly believes. Frequently, joining a religion actually makes life more difficult, for many, many reasons.

However there is a certain type of group that does think that by following their rules to the letter that you will achieve utopia on Earth. All you have to do is turn your brain off and let the leader do the thinking for you. Once you do this, everything will work out. As long as you listen to everything they say, anyway.

The group that believes this would be called cultists. David Koresh, Jim Jones, the Rajneesh movement, and countless others, believed that giving them blind obedience was more important than considering your role in the universe or what you can do to improve existence for yourself and others. It is the literal opposite of a religion.

The very real difference between the two groups is that religion exists to connect you to both a higher power than yourself and others of the same beliefs with matching goals. Together you grow and understand the world better and in a more deeper and complex way than where you started out. Cults operate by figureheads that must be followed to the letter to achieve nirvana, and wouldn't you know it that following said person will make you happy and whole and all your problems will just melt away. You aren't growing: you're shrinking.

Using religious beliefs as veneer for cult thinking doesn't suddenly turn it into a religion. It's still a cult, and it's still trying to offer you something a religion doesn't promise you or the world. There is no get out of jail free card when it comes to reality: cults try to convince you there is and religions do not do this. It is very simple.

Cultists cannot create art; they can only create pamphlets for the cause. And is this not exactly the problem with mainstream art?

This group who runs the Christian Entertainment Industry does attach cult behavior to religion (then throws the word "religion" under the bus in the process, mind) and has in fact influenced many people's thoughts on art and entertainment in unhealthy ways that has stunted creativity over the past half century. This is inarguable.

For instance: rock n roll is not the devil's music. The devil has no music. The devil cannot create anything. You can take things that already exist and warp them to being a pale imitation and mockery of the original, but the core of the original creation remains intact. A musical style with roots in blues, gospel, and country, all of which are Christian musical styles to begin with cannot suddenly be evil and Unchristian because a 20th century boomer in a suit who knows nothing of history says it is. It does not work that way.

Instead they influenced many people (both with them and not) to eventually cut off a musical style and pruned it of its religious roots by letting nonreligious people dictate the rules for the genre, thereby ruining what was being made and released into the world. This is not living your faith: this is running away from the world after poisoning the pond.

This aversion to and hatred of art is an attitude antithetical to creation. And make no mistake: it is a misunderstanding of epic proportions. Religion is about celebrating creation; art is the act of creation itself. The two go together, because they were made to. Every other culture in the world understands this truth. A "religious" person telling you avoid an entire medium, genre, or style, because of preconceived notions they have built up in their head is objectively doing it wrong. They are turning towards cult behavior and damaging others in the process.

What this leads to is two separate cults battling for the soul of something they are both missing half the picture on. Where it was one whole it is now broken in half, and the chicken's are currently coming home to roost. This is why western entertainment has truly hit a nadir. We let this happen. Unless the pieces are reassembled, they will never become whole again.

If you want to build a safe space then go do it on your own. Creating a culture meant to reject reality was never going to end in anything but disaster.

That disaster would be Clown World.

It does not have to be this way, though. It won't be forever. We look to the good old days because we cannot imagine a good new future. Here we are, stuck floating in a stagnant sea of endlessly recycled nostalgia and misplaced memories. No wider hopes for the world, art, culture, or each other. Just a bunch of cults trying to pass their pamphlets around a dead wasteland.

But, as has been said, this isn't the way forward. We need a refresh, a real reboot in our thinking. Change this broken modern mentality and you can change the world. Hopefully for the better this time. I'd like to think we're about due.

We have a blueprint forward, we just have to finally use it. Things have changed so much recently that it is a bit difficult to truly comprehend where we've steered wrong, what we need to walk back, and what we need to keep. Nonetheless, we will figure it out.

The '20s are going to be a weird time, that much is clear. There is a lot to do and not so much left to save. We're going to have to focus instead on moving onward into a new future. Leaving the '00s and the '10s behind in the dust is going to be worth every moment of blood and sweat. Reattach to the past and move forward properly. We're due.

Cultural Ground Zero happened a quarter of a century ago. It successfully killed off the last bits of modernism and left us with the scrap heap of memories that we have used to prop up the pathetic state of the way things are for far too long now. That isn't going to last forever, and it is already falling by the wayside. When it finally goes we are going to need something else in its place: something better. And we know by now exactly what we need. We just have to do it.

Change is on the way, ready or not. Let us just hope we do it right this time. Who knows how many more chances we will be given before time is truly up.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

I Left My Brains in San Francisco!

Find it Here!

Since Halloween is just around the corner I thought I would highlight a perfect book for the occasion. There are so many choices, but there is a recent release that could very well scratch that itch for spooky fun. This is a comedy horror book not like much else you'll read today. Of course, I'm talking about I Left My Brains in San Francisco, a book in the Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator series. With a title like that you might understand what you're getting into.

Nevertheless, to truly understand this one, you're going to have to read the description. It is as weird as you'd think!

Zombie problem? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator--but not this weekend.

On vacation at an exterminator’s convention, she's looking to relax, have fun, and figure out her relationship with her boyfriend, Ted. Too bad the zombies have a different idea. They rise from their watery graves to take over the City by the Bay…and destroy any chance of downtime with Ted.

Can Neeta find time between lopping off heads to bare her heart?

Enjoy the thrill of re-kill with Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator. Get your copy now.

You can find the book here.

I hope you're all having a good Halloween season, readying yourself for All Saint's Day and the insanity that occurs during the upcoming holiday season. The year is almost over, but not quite! We still have quite a few things left, including some surprises!

Until then, have a good time. It's been a rough couple of years, and you deserve a break. Happy Halloween and I'll see you again later this week.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Weekend Lounge: Fall Edition

The weather is getting colder out there, but after the summer we had it is quite welcome. Sit back in your nearest comfortable spot and relax. Today I've got a few links for you.

The above is a recent superversive podcast episode on a superversive video game story called To The Moon. This is an older game, but it's still not that well known today so you might have heard about it. How is this one superversive? You'll just have to tune in and find out!

Up next, old school gaming channel Game Sack uploaded a review of every game released on the unfairly ignored Turbografx-16 console, which is the North American version of Japan's legendary PC Engine.

If you are a retro gamer, or just interested in old video games, it is worth seeing due to the fact that system is far better than you might have heard. I've also included the second system review episode they did a few years back as it is also one of their best works.

The console deserves to be more well known, so I'm doing my part sharing it with you today. The period from the mid-1980s to late-1990s is gaming's golden age, and the TG16 was a big part of why. Check the videos to find out why.

Finally, I wanted to thank everyone who backed both campaigns for Pulp Rock, who read Brutal Dreams, StoryHack #7, Y Signal, and the blog series on Fandom this year. I put a lot into all of those projects and I am grateful that the reaction has been as warm as it was. There are other projects still in the oven, but I can't tell if they'll be out this year or not. Nonetheless, thank you for lending the support you have. It is very humbling.

I will see you next week where Halloween finally hits then we move into All Saint's Day and the year's end! It's been a weird one, but it's not over yet!

We've got a lot left to do, so I hope you'll join me on that road. Next year's gonna be good, but I've still got a few more tricks up my sleeve.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Concurrent Year

It's 2021, but have you noticed? Does it really matter? Has it really felt like a new year yet, or do you still feel like you're trapped in an endless spin cycle of the same 365 years forever and ever? For all intents and purposes would it be any different were we still in 2020? In many ways we still are, but that is because we choose to be.

Entire industries live off hoping you stay there. This is a very good reason why it feels like modern art is so stagnant. It's because many of those in the old industries want it to be that way. If they stay in Current Year then they know the exact formula they can concoct in order to keep the gravy train rolling. In theory, this is how it should work.

In practice, however, it clearly does not. Either way, it has lead to a culture that continually worships the here and now and the expense of understanding yesterday and tomorrow. This is why we are stranded in this shallow ditch without a way back out.

Because of this unhealthy way of thinking there are a lot of people who top off every crazed demand and claim they make due to the year on their very modern calendar. They do this because of assumptions they were given by the system they grew up in about how the world works. We are now in Year One which means we should have this thing I was taught we should have by now. It's really that simple. There is nothing more to it.

What such people don't understand is that there is a partial truth to this assumption, but it doesn't lie in upturning the human condition for whatever fashion a celebrity on YouTube or degenerate in Hollywood tells you that you should want. Things do in fact change, which leads to attitudes changing, and therefore systems changing. But they do not shift because they "must" do so to achieve some poorly defined paradise that they got from people who learned it from someone as clueless as they are. Times change because every generation thinks their lives through at least a little differently than the last. First hand experience changes the way things are handled. Therefore, eventually the world will move on from what it is, if even just a little at a time. 

It's inevitable.

You might not get radical changes, but subtle ones do add up, and eventually your home will be lost to the mists of time for the next generation to pitch their tent in its place. There is a reason no era lasts forever and it isn't because some political leader made some bad decision and let utopia slip from his grip: it's because that's how we are as a species. We are always in conversation and doing battle with the ones who came before. You are no different just because you think you believe the "correct" beliefs that the plebeians don't. Change is inevitable no matter what era or age--even your own. Eventually your own paradise will look stupid to future children.

It's inevitable.

This is one reason why reaching any utopia is impossible: such thinking does not take in to account human nature and reality itself. We cannot achieve perfection because we cannot achieve it whether by design or by those coming up behind us who see flaws in what came before. This is why Current Year thinkers are always fighting a losing battle. Human nature can never change, has never changed, and will never change. We will always be searching for our place in the sun. It's how we were made, and it's how we will die.

The reason we are starting with this assertion of Progress above all is because the same people who regularly rant against reality, systems, and "toxic" attitudes, are themselves trapped in systemic thinking that they are locked into an unable to critique. 20th century attitudes are hard to shake, especially since this current century is only two decades old, but the antiquated thinking such unrevolutionaries possess is what is ironically enough keeping them stranded in the outdated times they so abhor. Your own belief in Progress is keeping you stuck in the past.

The best example of this busted thinking is in the world of OldPub. Nowhere can one find a better example of this attitude than this industry with no future. 

I have been dealing with the writing world since I first started learning to write a decade ago and it is funny how literally not a single thing has changed. This is most evident when it comes to "practical" advice or common sense on things "everyone knows" despite how different the world was a mere two years ago--never mind how vastly changed it has been since the '00s. People in the industry are still giving the same advice they did when I started so long ago. This, despite the obvious being that it clearly doesn't work.

Take the image at the top of the post for example. For as long as I've been writing, "professionals" in the business have never once offered advice that deters from that archaic point by point recitation as if it's some sort of pledge of allegiance. 

For people who pride themselves on being ahead of the curve, they sure do like to repeat outdated advice fresh from the maligned 1970s quite a lot.

But if social standards, expectations, attitudes, and the general state of living has changed, then why wouldn't an industry that has done nothing but shrink for half a century? Surely they must have learned something new.

You'd think so, if the majority of the people in the writing industry weren't under the impression they were some sort of higher class above the masses. They live in a hermetically bubble, sealed off from reality, and believe that the rules of the world don't apply to them. They live with the idea that your average person still thinks an artist telling them they are a writer is impressive instead of the common thing it actually is now. You can't throw a stone without hitting an amateur author these days, but somehow they think they are unique and a different class. Find anyone online under forty and almost all of them will tell you they are a writer, but also that they don't read modern books. It isn't exactly a rare thing to come across these days. Yet those in the industry very much think that it is. Take one trip to social media and you'll see it in all its glory.

They have this impression because of the dusty old fortress they have created for themselves called OldPub, formerly called traditional publishing or TradPub (as if there is anything "traditional" about it) where they and their friends can use dead brands and expended clout to give their pet projects from proper thinking allies exposure to an uncaring public at ever-decreasing sales. They have a future to build here--they don't have time to give audiences what they want! What do you think this is, a reciprocal relationship?

Nonetheless, despite reality, we have experts that still think OldPub is anything but dead. Aside from obvious shills looking to gnaw on the decayed corpse for some extra bucks, anyone paying attention can easily tell the industry is little more than a joke now. It's been this way for a long time, yet many inside of it are unaware just how out of joint they truly are.

How so? We can see this by looking at the list above. Yes, that was actually written in 2021. Hard to believe, but it was. I will sum up the points given below.

This is what makes OldPub superior to NewPub:

  1. OldPub pays you an advance, gives you free editing, a cover, and printing.
  2. OldPub has distribution power to get you into bookstores and into foreign languages.
  3. OldPub will give you clout.

Now let us destroy these molded over myths with some reality.

OldPub pays you an advance, yes. They do give you money to publish your book, though it significantly less than it used to be and gets smaller every year. Nonetheless, they do give you money up front. 

What the commenter does not disclose is that you have to earn it back in sales. Why he didn't say this is anyone's guess, but it is a pretty big difference in that it undermines the entire point of this outdated bit of advice entirely. It's especially egregious because advances are smaller than they've ever been, yet earning them back is still next to impossible. This is how much the industry has shrunken. For examples of this I would suggest conversing with any author that has been in the OldPub system. Your advance is not enough.

Essentially, OldPub taking your book from you puts you in the red instantly. You are paying for advertising that they won't give you, exposure that you won't get, and put on a bookshelf that is rapidly shrinking in space. Need I remind readers that the chain bookstores are dying? Part of the reason for that is OldPub doesn't attract new readers--they have all moved into new mediums and frontiers. OldPub is basically putting your book in a rusted old machine that pumps the product out to no audience. Chain bookstores are dying because the audience is leaving. This is what happens when you refuse to give them the products they ask for.

There is no longer any midlist, so your chances of reaching anyone is already astronomically low. When was the last time a new writer broke out big to be millionaire? You aren't going to be that exception. Sorry, but that's just reality.

Oh, and you also have to pay for an agent that looks out for the publisher instead of you. If that sounds like a scam it is because it is. You're already being drained of money and you haven't even had your books reach anyone yet. At what point does this sound appealing?

As for editing, boy do I have bad news for you. OldPub barely edits anything. You are paying for this with your advance and you can get a better job hiring freelancers online for far cheaper cost. These companies will not do anything for you that you cannot do for yourself, and yet you have to pay them before they even do anything. Does this also sound like a scam? That's because it, too, is also one. Your book will not get the care it deserves, and neither will your potential readers. Why would anyone subject themselves to this willingly?

You can get better results on your own, and you can spend far less.

Not to mention, have you seen OldPub's covers? There are videos on YouTube of people who can duplicate them in their spare time, and spending no money in the process.

People get paid money to do this

Let us sum this first point up. Your book will be put into a store no one will go into. Your book will be given no internal support, whether monetary or editorial, and it will be sent out to die with no fanfare among a small crowd of brand devotees. Then you will be left with an advance you can't pay back and books you can't release for years to come afterwards do to the contracts you signed to pay them money to do this to you. In other words, you are left with less than you started with.

And this is just the first point on that list.

You are getting nothing for free in this so-called deal. They have broad distribution power, alright. The problem with this is that they have broad distribution into dying stores no one goes into and foreign language distro that goes to the same capsizing brick and mortars in other countries. Not to mention, if their editing is already non-existent then how thorough can their translation work even be? It's the same people in charge of both, after all.

In essence, there is nothing to be gained by signing with a big publisher in 2021, and there hasn't been for ages now. You will get nothing from doing so and will take on all the risks for embarking on this foolish quest. All this to get a logo on your book that you remember seeing as a kid a few times. You want to be just look those names in your warm, happy memories, don't you? Of course you do! Even though none of the people from back then work at the publisher anymore and the employees who run it now hate what came before and wish to bury it.

You're putting your hopes in the wrong people. That childhood fantasy of yours is destined to remain just that. The old publishing industry is a fossil and clinging to it does no one any good. You're wasting your time even thinking about approaching them.

So then why does this image of a dying industry still being the barometer of quality in the artform remain with writers today? Why do they still have these misguided stars in their eyes? It must be more than nostalgia, and yet there are no other reasons one could possibly have to consider approaching OldPub these days. 

All this and we still have yet to cover the third item on that above list.

Is there any positive to signing with OldPub, or am I being unfair? Well, some comments on The Pulp Mindset said I was being too mean to this industry and that I didn't give them a fair shake. Surely they have something to offer! However, this impression assumes I have an axe to grind with this industry for no particular reason. Why would I dislike something I have no desire to approach or that I've never been in. It doesn't take into account that I've been looking into this industry for a long time now, ever since I first decided to do this. So I can tell you definitively what my advice is for those considering OldPub.

Don't do it. You can do everything yourself and you will have a far greater (though still small) chance at actual success. What's more is that you will get 100% of the proceeds from doing so instead of pointlessly paying a bunch of people slacking on what they are supposed to do for you. If you want to reach actual people with your writing then NewPub is the only way to go as the old ways fade away into the background. NewPub is the future.

In fact, it is inevitable.

This brings us to the final point about "clout" and the cultish nonsense that has attached itself like a barnacle to books for near a century now. This point is a far bigger problem than for people who want to sell books: it's a mentality that infects so many aspiring writers (and artists as a whole) like a terminal disease. Those who care about their "reputation" would be insane to think they can get it from OldPub, especially in 2021. Think about it for a minute and you'll see just how crazy it is to think they can give you this.

What clout do you get from being published by OldPub? No one buys their books. Their stores are closing. Their industry is hemorrhaging money and survives by the skin of its teeth. They have completely fumbled the biggest growth market (ebooks) and are willingly trying to sabotage it. This creaking machine isn't long for this world, and when it is gone no one will miss it. What "clout" would you be getting from publishing with them?

And, more importantly, clout from who?

Joe Sixpack isn't going to be impressed that you have a logo on your book from a company that doesn't put out things he is interested in to begin with. The people in charge are so incompetent that they chased readers like him away decades ago, so who exactly do they have clout left with? It isn't people that would actually care about reading your book.

What reputation are you hoping to attain from an industry that has no idea what it's doing? Who gave them the ability to give clout when they've done nothing to earn it and are seen as a punchline? How rich were you expecting to get from them, anyway? The people at the top aren't making money on what they do, so what chance do normal nobodies like the rest of us have in their broken system? Their reputation is in shambles and has been that bad for ages now.

Once again, we do not live in the 1970s anymore. This is the 21st century. These lumbering industries spent the better part of the last century melting down and deliberately turning away from Joe Sixpack. He isn't going to care if you have one of their logos on your book. He already isn't buying any books with their logos on it.

He isn't going to start now.

I suppose the reason today's screed is before you is that this sort of thing is just more than a bit old. It's tired. That doesn't mean this subject shouldn't be brought up again or reminded of, but it feels as if we are constantly spinning in circles over it. There is no forward momentum, just mindless recitation of failed 20th century ideas that have long since lived out their purpose for a world that no longer exists. When do we finally acknowledge it?

I wrote an entire book on NewPub and its ascendance in art because we need this reality to be shown for what it is. We are in the 21st century now, whether we like it or not. Things have changed. Shilling for dead industries, hoping to pick like vultures at the failure that was the 20th century, and strange pagan-like worship of art mediums given through you by advertising, needs to go. We have around a century as an example of how this process doesn't work.

Tomorrow is always coming, but we keep pretending it is just like yesterday. That sun has set, and it is not rising again. We don't live in that world any longer. You can't live on failed promises and expectations. Only ruin lies down that road.

In fact, the world we live in has a lot more promise than the one we left behind. Sure, we tend to focus on the political and social situations the world is currently in, and those admittedly aren't great, however we have more advantages in things such as art creation than we have ever had before. The old industries have abandoned the field of entertainment and the arts, leaving them behind forever for their impossible paradise. Now we can pick up where they fumbled the ball while they continue to struggle with their own bad plays. Heck, we can even make an interception and win the whole shebang. They've already taken a knee and think the game is over. For them, it already is.

We do indeed live in the current year, but it feels as if a lot of us are living in two different universes at the same time. One has built a rusted out Never-never Land shrine to their ego, the keys of the old kingdom given to them by people who didn't know how to repair the foundation, and the other group lives on planet Earth where normal people desire escapism and joy.

How this split occurred exactly is one that leads to many theories and debates, and it is a good discussion to have, but its out of the scope for the topic we are covering. The fact is that the Unreality group that runs these industries through nepotism has nothing to offer you, just as they don't for your eager readers. Pretending they do, or deluding yourself into thinking they do because of misplaced childhood memories of a world that no longer exists, is a waste of everybody's time. Those days are gone.

We have better days ahead.

We have much to look forward to. Yes, there will be hard times ahead, and even hard things accept, but such things have always been with us. As long as we trust in the Truth and in the endless possibilities we have been given to improve, we have a wide open path ahead of us. This eternal yesterday won't be with us forever.

Even despite how bad the mainstream has gotten, there are plenty of options going forward. Much of the old greats still have used copies of their works available, you can find just about anything online (for now), and there are plenty of creatives today in new channels striving to produce new pieces to wow you with. There is something around every corner, as long as you look. We have more options than we ever did before.

Stop looking to the advice of people who wish to sell you a utopia that will never come and whose possibility of happening died a long time ago. It isn't ever coming. Paradise on Earth is a fool's errand. It cannot be done.

We might be living concurrent years with our neighbors, separated with a bad framework crafted by people even more out of touch than the worst of us, but it won't always be that way. Eventually, reality asserts itself, and you will have to face it for what it is. How hard it hits you will depend on how hard you fight it.

And that reality is coming far sooner than some of us would prefer.

Nonetheless, you can get a jump on such things by embracing the truth now. Yesterday is over. NewPub is the way going forward, and we must learn to accept it.

Once we do we can finally leave the remnants of the dead hopes of the 20th century behind forever. Year One ended long ago, and it's time to stop pretending we aren't standing on the shoulders of giants who helped point us towards far greater things. We always have managed to reach higher despite it all, and we always will.

The future continues on forever. And that's the way is and always will be. There are no concurrent years: there is just one. 

Better get used to it!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Weekend Lounge: Spooky Season

Welcome to the weekend!

Today, the guys at Geek Gab will be taking a look at the newest online sensation in Squid Game, or whatever it's called. See the episode above to tell just what it's about.

There was also a recent Superversive stream featuring Cirsova talking about his upcoming works. You can find it here:

Lastly, Red Letter Media put out the last part in their John Carpenter discussion. This is another lengthy video but mostly centers on their top 5, of which is fairly contenious, for the most part. Though their #1 choices are fairly obvious.

While I might disagree with much of their list (Christine and Starman are way too high and In the Mouth of Madness and Assault on Precinct 13 are far too low) it is a solid discussion on a surprisingly influential filmmaker.

And if you want more talk about John Carpenter, we've covered nearly all of his movies on Cannon Cruisers. In, fact we've got one coming up in the current season. Stay tuned to the blog to find out just which one!

Speaking of Cannon Cruiser, we just recently released our 100th episode on Cannon itself! the movie was Jeff Speakman's Street Knight from 1993. We're well on our way to reaching 200 total movies covered so come check us out. It's a fun time had by all.

Lastly, Pulp Rock will be done in a matter of hours! If you haven't jumped on the train, you better hurry up. The campaign will lock up within a couple of hours of this post!

And that's it for this week! It's been a wild one.

Soon enough Halloween will be here, then All Saint's Day, and it's only a stone throw away to Christmas. 2021 is almost done. You're gonna make it.

So chill out on this day of rest and catch a break. Have a good time, relax, and put your feet up. You deserve it.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Feeling Lost Inside

It is hard to imagine 1995 was over a quarter of a century ago, yet here we are simultaneously looking back at it as if it were yesterday and as if it were a whole other universe away from where we are now. Both are technically correct, but neither take into account just why we desire to go back to it as much as we do. There is something there that we have failed to take forward with us and we are scratching in the dirt looking for it.

One such thing is rock music. The genre is definitely dead now, with its last gasp sputtering to an uncharacteristically lowkey and silent end by the time the 2010s rolled around. Name a great rock album from the 2010 and it's almost certainly by an old band or a new band trying to relive the '90s or early '00s. There isn't much there.

Choked to death by post-Nirvana nihilism, post-Radiohead pretension, and the weaponizing of corporate songwriters and producers grooming mediocre singers with computers to be prepackaged pop stars, rock became locked to dying independent labels that vanished not too soon after they vanished from the majors. They aren't coming back, either.

Because the music industry is dead.

In the 1990s, however, rock was still a force to be reckoned with, and one of those forces was the Britpop band Oasis. Formed 30 years ago in 1991, Oasis quickly made a name for themselves with local shows and an unlikely frontman duo in vocalist Liam Gallagher and guitarist and songwriter brother Noel Gallagher. Their escapades in the media would soon become almost as famous as their songs. And for a moment they were inescapable.

Their first album, Definitely Maybe, released in 1994 and quickly became one of the highest selling and most critically acclaimed rock albums of the decade. And it was well deserved. Definitely Maybe is a hard rockin' good time with plenty of pop hooks that runs the gamut of modern alternative rock filtered through classic rock n roll songwriting. It was written and played by people who love music and respect its roots and traditions. In an era of Forward-Thinking alternative rock, Oasis was staunchly traditional but with a mixture of modern energy and youthful exuberance. With one album they had already become superstars in their native England.

1995, however, would prove to be the year that would truly define them for the rest of their career. That was the year they wrote and recorded their second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory which would go on to be one of the highest selling albums of all time, and a worldwide hit of the sort an English band hadn't had since the 1960s British Invasion.

All of a sudden, English rock was back and it was here to stay. The surrounding movement called Britpop was at a fever pitch and it looked as if nothing could go wrong. For rock n roll aficionados, the early to mid 90s was definitely a high point. It still plays good today.

So why did Morning Glory blow up the way it did? In an era where dour grunge and gangsta rap were swarming the charts, how did a sunny movement like Britpop crack into the worldwide market when we were told that wasn't what people wanted to listen to? It's a mystery, but Oasis' second album blew up for a reason, and it was tapping into a zeitgeist no one really understood back then, or now. In short, it is a classic for a good reason.

And today we are going to see why that is.

You can find a track by track analysis for Morning Glory below that Noel Gallagher did last year for the album's 25th anniversary. He gives all ten pieces the attention they deserve. It gives some good background to the songs and general construction of the album.

Opening track Hello is a bit of an outlier on this album, and that's for two reasons. It wasn't actually written for this album, but for Definitely Maybe, therefore it has a very '90s alternative crunch to the album that the rest doesn't really contain, though it is filtered through the same sparser production the rest of the songs have. This makes it both a good rocker to pump you up, yet smooth enough to glide you into what's to come.

I used to think the B-side, Acquiesce, would have made a better opening track, but I've changed my mind in recent years simply for the fact that it is too energetic a song for opening Morning Glory. I think it was Paul that approached Noel about putting it on the album and he declined, despite thinking it is one of their best songs, possibly due to the fact that it would have radically changed the experience of listening to the album. It would have, too.

This is actually one of the album's biggest strengths, and one of Oasis' as a whole. They were one of the last bands to take the art of creating an album seriously. Even on Oasis' weaker records, they always had impeccable flow and knew how to keep you engaged the entire way through. Rarely is it that you want to skip a song for feeling off or out of place in sequencing. And such a feeling of excellent flow is perfected on Morning Glory. Starting with the Definitely Maybe-era Hello and transitioning into the next phase was paramount for setting the experience to come.

Bands used to know this. Unfortunately, it is now a lost art, especially with the death of the album format itself.

Now, I'll be honest and say one thing. The first time I heard Hello, I wasn't blown away or anything. I was a kid who had heard plenty of alternative rock, and wasn't even very aware of Definitely Maybe at that point (though I rushed to get it after this one), so it just sounded like 1995 to me. Looking back now, I can appreciate what the song was for and about, but back then it was just average. At least, that's what I thought.

Then track two hit, and everything changed.

I'm not sure if I can ever give proper due to Roll With It, for the simple reason that it has been one of my favorite songs of all time for over 25 years at this point. Being objective about it is going to be near impossible. I will try to do it, but as you can tell, emotional resonance is hard to separate from objective quality, especially when it comes to music.

The strongest part of Morning Glory, which is something Definitely Maybe didn't have, and the band itself wouldn't manage to replicate until Don't Believe the Truth and Dig Our Your Soul (their final two records), is a sort of timeless sheen to the songs. I don't just mean composition-wise, because all their best songs have that, but production-wise and the general choices surrounding instrumentation. It doesn't sound of its time.

Definitely Maybe sounds like the early 1990s. It just does, and there is no way around that. Be Here Now, their third album, sounds like 1997 Britpop in all its overindulgence glory. Standing on the Shoulder of Giants sounds like early '00s rock complete with the same electronic flourishes, and Heathen Chemistry sounds like typical mid '00s British rock music with slicker production. They all sound very much of the time they came out.

Morning Glory does not. You might equate the hit singles with the 1990s because you heard them there at the time they came out, but that is incidental to the larger point. Listen to them divorced from your memories or expectations and you wouldn't be able to guess when they were made. Roll With It is the perfect example of this, which contributes to why it stuck with me even as a fickle kid slipping through musical trends like a total poseur. It is a perfectly crafted rock n roll song.

One of the best songs of the '90s

Where the song succeeds is in how effortlessly it combines pre-metal rock music in a gumbo the band never really attempted before this. Psychedelic haze, traditional bluesy lyrics, country twang, power pop energy, all filtered through the band's hard rock edge (and yet masterfully softened in production to sound like a lost Kinks song from the 1960s) and a ramshackle garage atmosphere, all comes together to set a mood unlike any of that time. Where Hello sets the mood, Roll With It sets the tone and expectations going forward. It is the perfect second track.

But it turns out it was not the perfect single. It was released against rival band Blur's Country House where it infamously reached #2 instead of #1 and for years the band hated it for that. However, Oasis' album outdid Blur's The Great Escape album in both acclaim and sales and Roll With It aged much better as a track despite this. Nonetheless, this performance did start the early trend of the music press attempting to destroy Oasis at every opportunity and a strange obsession with rivalry they didn't have before.

However, most of us didn't know any of this at the time. The British music scene was a complete mystery outside of England, and here we just knew that this album was great. We couldn't really articulate why at the time, no one can for an album that was as big and influential as this one, even if the boomers and hipsters of the time didn't get it. The rest of us understood quite well.

Roll With It is essentially about learning to roll with the way the world pushes you around and how to find the strength to move forward, before beautifully twisting by the end about falling deep into yourself to recover a piece of your soul that you lost while steeling yourself to the way things are. It ends in a bit of escapism ("Take me away" say the background vocals as they drift off) showing the need for balance inside, and learning not to destroy yourself to deal with the world.

But how great was Roll With It for the band to play? The take they used on the album was only the second one they did. The only reason they did a second take is because they felt like it, and something was slightly better, so they used it.

For some reason, the making of this album went by really quick and all the pieces just seemed to fall into place.

And nowhere is this more obvious with the band's biggest song, and third track, Wonderwall. I don't even think I have to say anything about this since one listen tells you everything you need to know. It was a megahit. You've heard, I've heard it, everyone's heard it.

You even know this video

What can one really say about Wonderwall that hasn't already been said before? The band wasn't exactly known for trad rock, acoustic numbers, or pop, at the time. They were the heavy rock n roll guys for the cool guys in leather jackets. If anything, it was Blur who were known for the softer stuff. Then Wonderwall came out and blew everyone away.

It was written by Noel, who sat on an actual wall performing for a field of sheep when writing it. He even recorded himself playing it on said wall which you can hear a clip of at the beginning of Hello, the first track. This was a song which he had a strike of inspiration in both writing and recording, seeming to come out of thin air into his mind, and yet it ended up becoming their biggest tune. Inspiration is something odd.

What is Wonderwall actually about? The easy answer is that it is about nothing, but that isn't really how Noel wrote songs back then. As we've established, through to about 1996 or so when he fell deep into drugs, Noel had a very strong connection with his muse in a way he could never quite explain. You can hear it whenever he talks about the plethora of music he wrote back then. He doesn't know why things have to be that way but that he knows it has to be like that. Of course it lead to much conflict in the band and charges of large ego on Noel's part, but if one listens to him talk about how he made music back then it was obvious he put a large trust on something higher than himself when creating. I'm unsure if he would ever say it that way or in those terms, but it is clear he had a connection with something outside of himself that he knew how to perfectly filter.

This filter is essential in understanding Wonderwall. You can see the Beatles references in the lyrics, since the band were big fans of them, so you can process the rest through that. Wonderwall is the name of George Harrison's first solo work, a soundtrack, and it was a passion project that he loved dearly. Until the day he died he always held a soft spot for it and gushed to anyone who wanted to hear about it. Now that you know this, the rest of the song makes sense. What is the singer's Wonderwall? Not that hard to understand once you get where Noel was coming from.

It's also important to note that it was written for his girlfriend who would soon be his wife. This helps explain the tune's odd sincerity even more.

How would you even follow up one of their biggest songs ever? Why, with their second biggest song ever, of course. Don't Look Back in Anger is the fourth track on the record, and manages to be both a ballad and an energetic rocker at the same time. No simple feat.

What makes it work is how it always does--Noel taking inspiration from older artists and turning it into something better. Don't Look Back in Anger is the song that takes the basis for the evil and awful John Lennon song Imagine and turns it into a beautiful and touching ode to the process of grief and moving on to better times. It is a very effecting song, and very deservingly a monster hit. Again, from a band not known for material like this at the time.

How to spin straw into gold

Noel knew someone who had a tape of John Lennon in conversation with someone just before he died talking about "not letting your brains get to your head" which he used in the song, and is why he used the piano chords for Imagine at the start of the song. It is amazing how effortlessly he was able to package all this inspiration together into one track and make something better in the process.

This is what artists do, by the way. They take their inspirations, repackage and rearrange them, and look for new angles on what was already done before. No one works in a void, and much of the criticism of this album, and Oasis as a whole, comes from the fact that music hipsters always looking for a new fix do not understand this truth. Oasis was probably one of the last bands to really understand this outside of the '00s garage bands like The Hives, The Strokes, or The White Stripes. Music is a playground for inspiration, not a religious Cult of the New.

The video near the start of the post has Noel going into the equipment he used to record this song, which I recommend going into, since it emphasizes the above point. The reason the song sounds so good is because of the people who passed these things on to him. He then used them to create something new, and in this case, one of the best albums ever made.

We are almost halfway through this album and almost every song was a huge worldwide hit. I think it's easy to say that something was going on back in 1995. What it was, who can really say. But it was real, and it still sticks around to this day.

Listen to Noel talk about how he fumbled the first line of the song in a live performance and the crowd sang the entire thing while the band played along. This is the magic of music. You can really explain it, it's just something you experience and live through.

Hey Now, the next song, is more of a traditional rocker, but a break from the onslaught of anthems the album just set loose on the listener. You need breathers, but this song isn't satisfied just being a breather. It's five minutes of a good time. The song is about fame and how it can lead you by the nose into destruction, which was a lesson the band eventually heeded, though not at the best or most opportune time.

This is a good subject to cover since the first album was mainly about being a band that wanted fame, and the second is about after having achieved it . . . what's next? Hey Now, in other words, is the bridge lyric-wise between the brash confidence of Definitely Maybe to the more introspective thoughtful side of Morning Glory. Even the rocking going on during this track isn't as hard as it was on that album, being a more thoughtful composition and pared down like the rest of the songs. It could only have been made when it was. It wouldn't have worked at any other time.

And a weird tidbit about the song--there's a synthesizer on it and nobody knows who played it or where it came from since no one involved owned one at the time. There are lots of little weird things on this record like that.

For instance, there are excerpts from the B-side, The Swamp Song, on the album which tend to fade in and out to give breathing room and bridging to other songs. This is a kind of sluggish instrumental blues number which can be found in full on the excellent B-side compilation The Masterplan, but which adds a good flavor to this album. That undercurrent of pure savage blues is a good reminder of where this all came from.

Which is good because that first excerpt leads from Hey Now into the first single from the album and the first song on the second side of the cassette tape. That would be the heavy and inspiring Some Might Say.

Side 2 does not let up

Starting off with a heavy blues riff, making the earlier transition from Hey Now all the more welcome, the second side starts off with one heck of a bang. Some Might Say is one of the bands best songs with a craft most bands would die for. But how many times can I say that in regards to that album. All ten are this good.

There is no song here that is anything less than 10/10 material. It doesn't help that they've all actually improved tremendously with age, and sound even better than they did when the album first released. And they were already great back then.

Noel's explanation for this track is funny in how he admits he gets things stuck in his head, even from bands or groups he might not care about, but something inside tells him he has to let it out. Some Might Say is influenced from a song he heard from an old indie band no one remembers, but was one that stuck in his mind. He used that odd experience to write this tune.

It is interesting how he explains that he can hear one song and rip it off twelve times to write twelve different tunes out of it. Back in the '90s this was considered passé, but this is how it was originally done. Just look at the career of Led Zeppelin. Music is meant to repackage and reinvent. You need a tradition to pull from in order to do that, though.

"Everything that I do is a nod to something or other. I'm not a genius. I'm just a fan of music. Do you know what I mean? . . . Nothing is original. There's only 12 notes anyway." ~ Noel Gallagher

And this is the way it should be. We're all in this together, after all.

This leads into what might be the most overlooked track on the album, Cast No Shadow. This is the slowest track here, one inspired by Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. It's a song about someone trying to make a difference while the world pulls and pushes him back and it eventually takes everything away from them. No matter what they do they never seem to cast a shadow or make their mark.

The album dedicated this track to Richard Ashcroft of the band The Verve (you might know them from the megahit Bittersweet Symphony) though it isn't clear why. Perhaps he was going through a rough patch at the time since the band was breaking up. Someone not casting a shadow means they are not leaving a mark or an impact, and perhaps Noel thought his friend deserved more than he was getting. Who knows? Nonetheless, these days The Verve is looked back on as one of the best bands from Britpop era of music, so at least there is a happy ending to that story.

Nevertheless, this is probably the least popular song on the record, even if it works well as a bridge between two of the most lively tracks on the album. But to hear that clear country influence again is nice and reinforces just how classical this album is.

The following song, She's Electric, is a classic pop tune that wouldn't be out of place on an old '60s British invasion recording, though there is way too much country twang on this one for that to be the case. For whatever reason the British Invasion wasn't much for blues or country outside of The Kinks, but this is another thing Oasis (and most of Britpop, actually) did far far better than the forbearers. While the old guard were more interested in pop and chart hits, this younger wave of bands were more in love with classic forms and abandoned styles the record companies were attempting to erase. It is a shame that said things disappeared not long into the 21st century, but they were well alive here when this album was made.

The placement of She's Electric here as a beam of sunshine after the thematic low point of the record prevents the energy from stalling and allows the band to keep it moving forward. Which fits with what the song is actually about and the overall theme of the album which is moving on with hope despite things not looking too great in the now.

This is another old song saved for Morning Glory, but it definitely would not have fit on Definitely Maybe. Once more, this has a more timeless feel than anything on that album. Yet again, Noel knows how the medium works.

We then reach the title track which is, oddly enough, the only title track Oasis has ever done. No other album they've made has ever been named after one of their songs. but then again, Morning Glory is just that good of a song. They wouldn't have released it as a single if it wasn't! It's a good old fashioned rocker with plenty of energy to spare.

Named after a phrase a woman he met in America used (and one nobody else ever used, apparently) this is a tune that had the phrase shoehorned into it and the album title as a result. But it was worth it because the pure energy of the song and the lyrics about waking yourself up from a dead life, which is essentially what the entire album is about. The world is a grand place. Don't waste your life stewing about in the dark and letting the world roll you over. Get out there and experience everything for all it's worth.

I can attest to the quality of this song because I had it stuck my head for years. I still remember walking to my first day of seventh grade in September and having this playing in my brain the entire way there and the entire way back. I did this for months and I don't know why. sometimes music just sticks with you like that. This despite the song not being fresh in my head.

This would have actually been a great song to end the album with, if it wasn't for what came next.

After Morning Glory fades, we return to the pulsating blues of another Swamp Song excerpt before it melts away into a cascading sea drifting in endless space where everything else washes away. The sweeping waves of water are eventually all that is left, swooping in and out of your brain before it too fades away into the final (and best) song on an album full of classic tracks.

I'll just come out and say it, Champagne Supernova is the song that actually made me an Oasis fan (seeing that music video on TV also added to it) and has stuck with me since the first moment I heard it back on my CD copy. This track remains eternally embedded in my brain and I consider it one of the best songs of the 1990s and one of the best ever written. So once again, I can't be objective about it. I apologize.

There's nothing to say . . .

While it starts with a small nod towards the otherwise forgettable '60s pop song For What It's Worth by Buffalo Springfield (a song used for activism that isn't even about anything like that), Champagne Supernova starts low and muted before slowly picking up steam and energy and exploding into a full-out anthem before slowly drifting back down for the finale. It is a rollercoaster of emotions and manages to encapsulate everything great about Morning Glory, which is saying something because there is a lot of great things about Morning Glory.

There isn't any way to do this song justice without just telling you to listen to it, but the fact that it is nearly 8 minutes long and never once feels like it is through its entire runtime is proof as to how economical and sharp this piece actually is. The song needs those near eight minutes to reach its full potential, and that potential is massive.

While the song was originally referenced to be about drugs (the first verse seems to imply it) that is actually not the case at all. In fact, the line "Where were you while we were getting high?" has a double meaning in the context of the song. The first is that the song is about getting high of a cosmic sort--enjoying what life throws your way with everything you have and wondering what happens when you miss it. "Where were you while we were having fun?" essentially. That's what the band used to mean when they said it since they said it all the time. Were you using your time better than us? Were we using it right? How does it all fit together? What's it all for?

Life is full of mysteries and the track is essentially delving into this stuff. While the lyrics seem obscure, they are really playing with the concept of time and meaning. "Slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannonball" is a line few get (including the man who wrote it!), but describes a man out of time wondering what is fast and what is slow and where he is headed. Drifting in the "Champagne Supernova" and looking down on your position on life can give you a new angle on what we are actually doing. Are we living our lives to our fullest or are we wasting our time? There's only one way to know, and that is to do it.

Getting trapped in a landslide in the sky is a contradiction unless he is speaking as someone unaware of where he actually is. Which the narrator doesn't, in the grand scheme of things. Someday we will die in a way we probably won't understand. But when that finally happens, will everything have been worth it? Will we have made the right decisions and choices? Will we have made the best of what we had? Was "getting high" (in either context) the right call? Could we have done something different, something better?

You can say I'm overthinking it, but this is how Noel Gallagher wrote songs back then. He obeyed his muse 100% to deliver them the best he knew how. And as a final statement on an album about reassessing the world around you and finding your place in it, this is the invaluable final piece of the puzzle. It's a song no one else could have written, created at a time when nothing like it was being written. As a result, it is quite simply a perfect pop song.

What's weirder is how the band came into the studio with the song unfinished, because one listen to it and it all just sounds inevitable. Every solo, every break, and even the singalong gang vocals. Everything just merges into one long epic pop tune that ends note perfect, just like the album began--another strum of an acoustic guitar.

And this is how you end one of the best albums ever made, with one of the best songs ever written, sealing it as a classic album that will live on for a quarter of a century so far.

However, that was not the impression when it first released. There is a lot of revisionism now, but early reaction to Morning Glory was very polarizing among critics and fans for not being essentially more of Definitely Maybe. It was too soft, too poppy for the Gen Xer fans. Among boomers it was a Beatles ripoff. Among music hipsters it was not "experimental" or arty enough. Basically, it was just another generic rock record.

But for those of us Gen Y kids it hit a mark that was hard to define. Morning Glory's masterful mashup of past with the present was unlike anything we had ever heard before and was a gateway for many of us into new subgenres of rock.

For me, it was the first album I ever purchased. I still own that very CD to this day, and where other albums have come and gone since for various reasons, Morning Glory remains one of my favorites and the favorite of many others who heard it back in 1995. It would go on to be the third highest selling record in the UK of all time which no album since has surpassed despite a quarter of a century passing. The singles remain iconic, unable to be overplayed despite many attempts to do so. The production is pitch perfect. The compositions are note perfect. The art is basic, not flashy at all, and that is also what makes it perfect. It is what it is--honest. And we connected hard with it.

The album stood the test of time and has joined the ranks of the best ever made. Britpop would die only a few short years later, as would eventually the entire British music scene by the end of the '00s. In fact, the industry seemed to die with Oasis itself. There isn't really any scene anymore.

Now, Oasis weren't your typical one and done pop band. They kept the train going until 2009 when Noel and Liam finally had enough of each other and pulled the plug--but they weren't treading water that whole time. In fact, their career after Morning Glory is rather fascinating.

It goes without saying that Oasis was the biggest band in the world in 1996. Two monster hit classic albums, scores of top shelf B-sides, and very public figures, made them the center of the music world. It also led to a lot of bad decisions.

In late 1997, Oasis released their third album, Be Here Now, which was an instant success out of the gate and one of the fastest selling albums ever. Until it wasn't anymore. Because its sales tapered off. It did this because the album wasn't very good. In fact, it was bad. It remains to this day their worst album, and it almost killed their entire career. All in one fell swoop out of nowhere. It was actually stunning how fast it happened.

The best way I can illustrate the reaction to Be Here Now is my own reaction to it, getting it on a family summer vacation back in 1997 when I just happened to see it new at a music store. You have no idea how excited I was at the time to pick it up. Since we didn't have ways of knowing when new stuff came out at the time, I felt fortunate to be there when it first came out. It wasn't everyday when you were there for new albums when they came out.

So I put the album in the player and the very first song was a near eight minutes dirge of noise, shuffling drums, and no forward momentum at all and no real hooks to latch onto. It was like it was the anti-Champagne Supernova in how it got everything wrong that the older song got right. To this day I still can't listen to that song without wondering what Noel was thinking when he wrote it, why it was the first track, and why we needed 400 layers of over-processed distorted guitars grinding in my brain like a lumberjack saw without rhyme or reason. It goes without saying that it was bad.

Now, if this was just one song, then that could be forgiven and we could move on to the rest. However, like I said before, Oasis always used the first track to set mood, even if it wasn't the best song composition-wise. So perhaps the rest would be better. Hello was the worst song on Morning Glory, after all. But Hello was still a good song.

The issue with Be Here Now is that every single song except a small handful are like that first track. You can tell the band fell hard into drugs at this point because the album is pure nonsense that makes no coherent sense. It's too loud, has too many layers of noise, the lyrics are actually about nothing even in the context of the song, and the tracks are too long and have no structural reason to be so. It's an overindulgent bloated mess of an album that took the rest of the world a year or two to admit what I did on that first listen--Be Here Now is a terrible album. And there was no reason for it to be as bad as it was.

To be fair, I am not going to say that it was totally worthless. Somehow, a small handful of songs escaped production slaughter, particularly the ballads Don't Go Away and Stand By Me which are among the very best songs Oasis ever wrote, and All Around the World (written years earlier but saved for when the band had a budget to record it) remains one of their top ten tunes. So there is gold to be mined here.

Why wasn't this the first single?

But three great songs do not save a twelve song album that is over 70 minutes long. There is a reason these are the only singles on the album, in other words. None of the others were anywhere near good enough to be one. As a result of Be Here Now, the band's fortunes were changing.

By 1999, Bonehead and Paul had left the band, Liam and Noel were disappearing into drugs, and the band was quickly becoming a punchline, especially with the rise of angst rock and emo--music Oasis was very much not. Not to mention their record label closed and their producer had left. For all intents and purposes, the era Oasis came up in no longer existed. They considered hanging it up, but thankfully did not. Instead, they changed their approach.

Essentially, their fourth album, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants is a reboot of the band. Only the three remaining members (Noel, Liam, and Alan) play on the album, their sound is now a deliberate step away from the Britpop they used to play towards a more modern stripped down sound with elements of world, electronic, and more psychedelic influence with different varieties of instruments. In other words, it is a conscious step away from the mistakes of Be Here Now.

As a result you get the first Oasis album one can merely classify as good. It is not a classic like the first two, nor is it a disaster on the level of Be Here Now. It's just merely a good rock album with some good tunes. And considering it released in the creative dead zone year of 2000, it was a welcome one.

Even though their fourth record didn't set the world on fire it did allow the band to rewrite course and redirect the ship out of tumultuous waters. They soon received two new members in the form of Andy Bell (from the shoegaze band Ride) and Gem Archer who would stick with them until the band's dissolution in 2009. They even played in Liam's post-Oasis band Beady Eye together and Gem plays with Noel to this day (Andy went back to Ride) which shows just how embedded they became in the band during the '00s.

But Noel did eventually say that the problem with this album (and probably the next one, to be honest) was that he had no real passion making music at the time and just wrote because he was expected to put out songs. While he still cranked out some great tunes during this period, it was clear he was exhausted creatively, especially after quitting drugs. This is why after this album, Liam, Gem, and Andy, all contributed songs to the band which helped reinvigorate Noel's passion for making music since he had a friendly competition to outdo them.

The follow-up album, Heathen Chemistry, was the first where songwriting duties were split and also the last with drummer Alan White. Noel only wrote six of the eleven songs and as a result his concentration on a smaller pool of tunes allowed for a more focused effort with The Hindu Times, Little By Little, Stop Crying Your Heart Out, and Force of Nature, being great. The other band members contributed as well, with Liam actually emerging as quite a surprising songwriter with untapped talent. His track Songbird, specifically, might be the best track on the entire album. As a whole, though, it was just another good album from Oasis, though considering how dry the '00s was for rock it was still a good listen. This was another step in the right direction, but it wasn't quite on track yet.

But then in 2005 Oasis dropped their sixth record, Don't Believe the Truth, an album that most definitely on track. Because not only was Noel on fire again, but so was Liam also putting out bangers, his songwriting skills fully blossoming. This is the album the band had needed to put out since Morning Glory, and it was and remains a legitimately great record to this day. As for who drummed on it, well, they managed to get Zak Starkey, of all people. Turns out he was a great choice. He also drummed on their last album.

I still remember picking this one up for the first time. After getting past the mood setting, but quite good, opening track by Andy Bell, Turn Up the Sun, I was treated to Noel's first song on the album, Mucky Fingers. What I viscerally remember was my experience as the song was going along that my mood felt itself rise from cautious optimism to glee as it went on. It was a feeling I don't think I'll ever quite forget.

That feeling stuck with me for the whole album. Oasis were back! They finally got the spark back.

Only the second track

Noel's songs on Don't Believe the Truth were all easily equivalents to Noel's best ones, and that's saying something. Mucky Fingers, Part of the Queue, Let There Be Love, Lyla, and The Importance of Being Idle, are all incredible pieces that run the gamut from rockers to ballads and show a level of craft he hadn't been exhibiting in years. There was quite a bit of passion clearly put into these. He was on fire again.

At the same time, Liam especially had hit his stride as a songwriter. While Noel's songs were the best he'd written in years, Liam's were the best he had written so far period. He co-wrote the infectious Love Like a Bomb with Gem Archer, the quick and cool romp of The Meaning of Soul, and the surprisingly effective and meditative Guess God Thinks I'm Abel, which could almost be confused with a Noel track. Andy's songs too were the best he had written for the band so far with opening track Turn Up the Sun setting the mood and Keep the Dream Alive also feeling close to a tune Noel would write. It's a collection of great songs where every member felt like they were giving their all. It isn't quite like any record Oasis had made before.

As a whole, the album is cohesive with many individual great moments that turn into a legitimately great rock n roll record that is on par with their early work even if it is much different in execution. They could never have made an album like this in 1995, and that's a good thing. It showed that Oasis was more than the 1990s and had more to give.

But all good things must come to an end, and Oasis is no different. Though the band's second wind was strong, it couldn't last forever. And it didn't.

After the surprise success of Don't Believe the Truth, Oasis reconvened for another album, this would be 2008's Dig Out Your Soul, which would turn out to be the band's seventh and last record. This time where the previous album was more stripped down and back to basics, the next would be big and bombastic. Essentially, it would be like a redo of Be Here Now. That might have been worrying if they were the same band they were a decade prior.

The best way to describe Dig Our Your Soul is exactly like the above as a second go at the kitchen sink approach of Be Here Now, but I would go a step further and say it is also that album's opposite in every way, including quality-wise.

Like Be Here Now, Dig Out Your Soul is a dense album sound-wise, but the songs support the beefier production. The songs here are big sonically with swirling drums, tense basslines, and twanging guitars that sound like a hard rock band playing psychedelia by way of traditional country and blues. Unlike that old album from 1997, everything is layered for a purpose and it helps the impact of the songs allowing them to hit harder with a heavy weight.

It's also a big album conceptually. Where their 1997 effort was completely empty, their 2008 album is brimming with ideas. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the album's (and band's) final single, Falling Down. Noel writes about tripping and tumbling into despair in such a way that he manages to still retain hope despite it and the experience is gripping the whole way through.

"It's all that I've ever known"

In fact, all of his songs on this album are about such things. Noel wrote six of the eleven songs, with five of them on the first side, and all are about his place in the universe. It's quite an unexpected but very welcome turn for the band that a decade ago were singing songs about magic pies and dirty shirts under grating over-processed guitar noise and seven minute song lengths. Here, despite the ambition, everything is carefully crafted and given the attention it deserves.

But somehow the other band members managed to once again keep up with Noel, not just in quality but thematically. Liam's tracks hew eerily close to the same subjects Noel does, even in the titles (I'm Outta Time, Ain't Got Nothing, and Soldier On) and the other members doing the same with Gem's song titled To Be Where There's Life and Andy's The Nature of Reality. Where did all this heavy introspection come from? It was the logical place to end up.

Unfortunately, it was not to last, as the band called it quits not half a year after Falling Down was released as a single. But what a note to end on. Dig Out Your Soul was the type of album a band like Oasis always had in them and it was great to hear them finally put it out there. As far as final albums go you could do far worse. Most have. It's better to leave them wanting more than to leave on a low. It makes the recent talk over the band make more sense in retrospect.

While the Gallagher brothers might have found themselves with successful solo careers afterwards, as did Gem and Andy, one can't say the same for the British music scene. Oasis was more or less the last big band still standing when they called it quits in 2009. Whatever remains now is the same sludge that infected and choked out the American and Canadian music industries years back, and pretty much every other one in the west, with corporate-mandated sludge made in a factory on computers. The old industry is gone now.

But that is just the nature of things, isn't it? We don't know what's coming next or where we're going after this but what is important is that we keep soldiering on through it. Oasis showed it themselves how to find yourself even when lost in the muck--there is always a way out into better days. We just have to soldier on through the dark times and head towards the brighter ones. There is a plan in all this madness, we just don't see it yet.

One day we will. Until then, enjoy the ride. Who knows where you'll end up?