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Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

Monday, February 20, 2012

Music as a Writing Aid.

This week was a big week for me back to 2005 as I wrote a good chunk of chapters that would eventually go into Finding Kansas. While, once I started to write, the words came easy I always needed help to get the snowball running. Back then I could stare at the computer screen for an hour and nothing would happen. However, I found a trick that somehow bypassed the block in my brain. What was it? Music.

And this music wasn't just any music. I have the music from Gran Turismo to thank for helping me write. Each night as I was wanting to write I would put in GT4, go the classical music, and off I went. It was the same play list each night and the first song in the list was Air on G String by Bach and there was something about that song that just let me emotions flow.

I always knew that my emotions were there but processing them and expressing them were always difficult and more often than not impossible. There's something about music though that allows me to access the emotions. It's always been that way and maybe this is why I am so private with my music likes. I always thought it had to do with the "associative memory system" but maybe also it has to do with the strong emotions evoked by music. Whatever the case may be even now, when I'm suffering a writer's block, all I need to do is listen to the right songs and the words simply flow without effort.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Order Lost

What if you were to wake up in a world where red was blue and blue was red? It would be a confusing change, but what if you were the only one who noticed this changed and when you spoke about it nobody cared? This example is somewhat, well, extreme but I had an experience like this on Saturday.

Last Saturday the first NASCAR race of the year, the Bud Shootout, was run. Fox Sports is in its 11th year of broadcasting NASCAR and much like all other sports on all other networks Fox has had specific music to go along with the opening of their broadcast.

Music is very important to me because it is one of the biggest ties to memories. My sports world was flipped upside down, much like the color changes I mentioned, because during the intro of the race Fox played their football music.

If you have ever seen a football game on Fox then you probably have heard the song. They have used it for a long time and I even believe this song was the music for the videogame Madden 95! It is clearly a football song, but here it was on the opening to the NASCAR race.

I instantly thought it was a mistake. I mean, this to me was has bad as red being blue. The order of the world had been turned upside down.

I continued to think it was a mistake, but then they played it as they went to their first commercial break and I was in an internal frenzy. What strange world had I awoken to?

Needing a sympathetic, or understanding ear I went to my dad who really, I think, couldn't have cared less. I sent a text to a person at the race and he sent back the generic message of, "lol." Then I sent another text to another person and they, I think, couldn't have cared less because I got no response.

Nobody else cared. The music Fox has played for almost 20 years for football has invaded NASCAR and nobody seemed to notice. While this extreme misuse of a musical composition is limited to one network, to me this would be as extreme as if NBC's chimes were on CBS. There are just certain things that shouldn't happen in life and both of these examples, football music and chimes, fit that category of NEVER!

Did anyone else notice or care? Probably not, but to someone that has so many memories triggered by music this was like being excited for a race but anxiously awaiting the opening kickoff.

What will the future hold? I don't know. Maybe Fox Sports is going use their football music as the Fox Sports anthem. Or maybe their new music for NASCAR wasn't ready.

Sunday is the Daytona 500 and I am almost as anxious to know what music will be played as I am for the green flag to fly.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Musical Dream Come True

If you've been to one of my presentations this year you may have heard me talk about things that I became fixated on in the year 2009. This part of my presentation isn't given every time, but when I do I mention that in 2009 I was fixated on Chess for a while, then North Korea. I like calling these come and go fixations the, "suburbs of Kansas".

I did say there were three things and the #1 fixation of 2009 was, of all things, the music from Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. Yes, I know, a very obscure thing to become fixated on, but with Asperger Syndrome there isn't a willful choice as to what will or won't become a suburb. (In case you don't know my Kansas concept I state: If you paralyzed in every state except Kansas, where would you want to live? Kansas is or are the thing(s) or activities that us people on the spectrum will think about non-stop, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else. Some people may just have one thing and that's it, myself I have auto racing and my job as the "capitol" of Kansas with many revolving suburbs).

During the final six months of 2009 I watched every episode of the US Syndicated version. I didn't do this because of the questions, although I must admit I do love the game, but rather the music. When the show wasn't on I would head on over to YouTube to listen to the music. There was one video that had all the music from Season 8 of the syndicated version in order and I think I must have accounted for 80% of the video views because I watched in non-stop.

I may have been able to watch it at 10PM on KDNL and I may have been able to listen to fragments of it on YouTube, but one night in my extensive research of the game show and music I cam across the fact that there was an album of the music. There was a slight problem though; the soundtrack I found was on and the price... $200! I was jobless and even if I had a job at the time I don't know if I would ever pay $200 for a soundtrack... then again I am on the spectrum and maybe, just maybe, I would.

I was discouraged and went to and put in the title and there it was, an album for $.01! I felt like I had cheated the system and I purchased it and watched the mailman slowly work his way to my house each day.

One week later the package came and I had trouble putting the disc in the tray because I was just so excited. Once I did the screen said, "13 tracks". I was confused as the album I saw on the UK Ebay site said 76 tracks. The music started to play and it was not the same album. What I purchased was and what I wanted was Same name, but much different discs (I don't know where the 13 track disc is anymore... I was mad).

After that episode I sort of lost interest in the music of the show and I stopped watching the show. I hate to say this because it may seem like I am shallow, but getting that 13 track disc was one of the bigger disappointments of my life. This, right here, is the power of Kansas. Kansas can make things seem more relevant, or make other aspects of life less relevant. This disappointment was enough to change the flow of what my interests are and that takes a lot of power.

Every so often I would look on the internet for the actual Album and one would appear on now and then, but the prices are always high (there is one currently at 39.99 British Pounds). Then, on a hail Mary chance, I looked on the US Ebay site and lo and behold there it was! a WWTBAM album that didn't have Regis Philbin on the cover (no offense Regis, I am a big fan of you work on the ABC Primetime show for all those years, but the album your face is on saddened me) and was the official album. But wait, what was the price? "Twenty dollars!?" I said aloud. "$20!... YESSSSSSSSS!" I didn't hesitate and I bought it and I waited.

My interest was spiked once again and I went back to the YouTube site to listen to the music. The seller had a low feedback rating and I was worried that this was some sort of scam because some of these discs have gone for $200 and I got it at 10% of that. I mean, if it's too good to be true...

When I got home from work yesterday I had a package. Opening it was difficult because I was just so excited. I held my breath that Regis Philbin's face would not be greeting me as some sort of inputting error or false advertising of the product and, when I finally got the jewel case out of the package, there it was! the actual album.

Since getting it yesterday I have listened to the soundtrack many times and am utterly amazed at the greatness of the music. I could go on and on about how the soundtrack to the game is much like a movie soundtrack or the subtle differences between the $32,000 and $64,000 question, but I am not a music critic. I am just a person of odd musical choices and I know I will be enjoying this soundtrack for some time to come.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What's In a Song and Why It Is Important

If this were an episode of the game show "Jeopardy!" this would be the equivalent of an Audio Daily Double. To start this blog I want you to listen to the video that is below. Yes, it has video, but the video is irrelevant. The relevancy is in the song itself.

What did you hear/are you hearing in that song? If you grew up with the original Nintendo then you may be reliving the days of Bo Jackson running around the field untouchable, or Joe Montana throwing 90 yard passes. The game was Tecmo Bowl and is still considered, by many, to be one of the best football experiences ever.

This blog post is not about the first football video game to incorporate real names, but rather what it means to me. That song may sound old and simple compared to today's orchestral scores in video game, but to me this song represents something special. No, it isn't memories of video games of old, nor is it those memories that some people have of the innocence of childhood. For me, this song reminds me of ways I bonded with my dad. Now you are probably confused. How could a song from a 1989 football game represent something so major?

I have no clue as to how other children bond or do any of that sort of stuff, but for me everything revolved around what I was interested in. I'm sure other kids have this, but being on the spectrum and having "Kansas" be so important I think it is magnified.

The first time I rented Tecmo Bowl from G&M Video I was enthralled. I loved it, but I knew nothing about football nor the teams. As a six year old I realized that is was a very good opportunity to get my dad involved in the game. What did I do? Each new game I played as I was up against a new team I would go to my dad and ask him if that particular team was good or not.

Game after game went by and I am sure he got tired of hearing, "Is this team good?". It may have seemed as if I was trying to get an edge against the team I would be playing against but that wasn't the case at all. What I was trying to do was establish a joint interest.

Joint interests are vital! Because I was immersed in this game I wanted my dad to not nessacarily join me in total immersion, but in the least be a part of it. I'm sure I may have been a little annoying in my persistence of wanting the scouting report on the opposition, but the scouting report had nothing to do with what I was trying to do. I can't bond by just being around someone and there must be an activity and for me, at the age of six, asking about NFL teams was my way to do it.

The point of this entry is that, for one, that song has a lot of power. I have talked about the memories that are connected to songs and this one is a powerful one. Secondly, and finally, if a person is exhibiting a behavior like mine, they may be trying to establish that connection that isn't normally there. We may seem like we are pestering you, and I'm sure my dad was on the verge of never wanting to be asked if a team was good ever again, but for us we are just trying to establish that connection the only way we know how.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Red Bull and the power of taste

In one of my earliest entries on here I talked about the possible "Inappropriate Attachment to Objects" that may come along with an autism spectrum disorder. I've been thinking about this for the past month and this phenomenon is not just isolated to physical objects, but rather senses as well.

For those of you that are friends with me on Facebook you might remember the story of me trying to find Red Bull Cola last November on my way to and from Washington D.C. What was so relevant about this cola? My story with Red Bull dates back even before I discovered the cola version.

I have account of this in my book, Finding Kansas, but want to share it again. The first time I ever had Red Bull was on my way to Las Vegas when I was to be an instructor for a month. I drove out on I-70 and stopped in Denver for the night. I awoke at 2AM and could not go back to sleep due to excess excitement and left the hotel and got a full tank of gas and then a Red Bull.

I don't know if anyone likes the taste of Red Bull the first time they drink it. I, honestly, thought it was nothing short of repulsive. Something funny happened as I drove through the tunnels with Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird playing in the background; the taste wasn't that bad. Call it one of my "firsts" but the taste wasn't that bad anymore.

Slowly the ritual became that ANY time I left in the morning I had to have a Red Bull. Each weekend I flagged for the Saint Louis Karting Association I would stop and get a Red Bull as the sun came up.

With each drink I relive that trip through the deserted tunnels of West-central Colorado. With each drink I relive the Sunday's spent at the kart track. It's not about good taste, or about an energy drink, it is about the memories tied to it.

My first taste of Red Bull Cola wasn't the best. I was walking to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2009 for the Indy 500 and a Red Bull car thingy (you know, the cars when the big can on the back. They look weird and deserve the term "thingy") was handing out free drinks. I tasted it, expecting a Red Bullish like taste, and I hated it. I discarded fast enough that no "first" would be established. I made sure no memories would be tied to that drink.

Flash forward 6 months and the 2009 SKUSA Super Nationals in Las Vegas. Red Bull was a sponsor and was the only energy drink on-site so I was thirsty when we had a break and a Red Bull Cola was brought to me. I thought about asking if there was anything else, but thought better of it and gave the Red Bull Cola a second chance.

From that second chance I drank more Red Bull Cola than should be legally allowed. I couldn't get enough of the stuff, but again it had nothing to do with taste. Just as Red Bull had been associated with the freedom of heading out into the unknown, alone, Red Bull Cola was about leadership and the hardest flagging job in the world that is the best five days of the year for me.

Red Bull Cola isn't the most readily available drink on the market so when I find it I make sure I stock up on it. As I think I mentioned in my Jefferson City article, I stop every time I pass the Kingdom City exit West of Saint Louis because the Petro station there has some. With each drink I feel connected to my memories. My memory is already videographic, but think of it this way, through the taste I experience it again with fuller detail. Not only can I see it, but I can taste it.

Those are the positives about sense of taste. For the good there are also bad. These aren't a sensory issue, but rather they invoke unwanted memories of times I don't want to live again.

I know for a fact I will never, NEVER, try gazpacho soup as it will be associated with Linda and the experience I had in Minneapolis in 1999 (read my book on this issue). Also, I have a hard time with Black Cherry soda for the same reason. I still drink it, but I occasionally will have a hard time handling my emotions during those times.

Tastes are powerful, almost as powerful as the sense of smell, and I have never shared this associative memory system in terms of taste. I'm sure we all have this to some degree which is why places claim to have food, "just as grandma used to make it" because taste can take us back to a better time. Like many other issues I believe this is taken to the extreme for me. Certain foods or drink will take me back to the highest point in my life, or other tastes will bring me to the realization of what was and no longer is. If I refuse a food or drink it may be because I simply don't like it. Then again, I may not want to relive the memories that are associated with it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Q and A Friday on a Sunday afternoon

Due to the pressing matters on Friday and Saturday "Q and A Friday" is today. Today's question comes from Ryan in Tyngsboro, MA:

When someone asks why you like something or like doing something, do you know why or do you just like it because that's what you like?

I often wonder what makes something liked and something disliked. Take racing for example. I have liked auto racing since before preschool! Why though? What is it? As I think about it now I know I enjoy the competition of it, and the closeness.

When it comes to racing I will answer, "because it is all I know" but racing isn't the only thing I like. When asked if I like/dislike something I will typically give an "I don't know" because letting someone know what I like/dislike exposes a lot about me.

Beyond the ultimate like of racing I have room for other interests. Last year I became obsessed with this one track in Germany, and then after that the music from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. I can't tell you what causes those interests. I can't even tell you if I enjoy those things. Read that again. I don't even know if I enjoy those second areas of defined interest. I don't know what starts them, I don't know what keeps them going, and I don't know what ends them.

An interest will begin and then I will read everything about it. In 2008 I became obsessed with North Korea. I did research every night and looked at pictures from Google Earth, but I don't know if I enjoyed it. I researched it because I had to because that's all I knew at the time.

So to answer the question, I will be very private on what I like or dislike because it will expose a lot about me, but also, I may not be able to answer the question at all because I don't know if I do like it. I may do it because, at that point in time, much like racing, it's the only thing I know.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Song From the Past

A couple days ago my friend Ryan talked me into playing Project Gotham Racing 2 over Xbox Live. I hadn't played the game in 5 years, but since Microsoft is shutting down the servers for all Xbox 1 games I felt compelled to play it one last time. All the time playing it I stated how much better Toca Race Driver 2 was, but this blog entry is to not debate what Xbox game was better, but rather what happened when I played the game and heard one song.

Music has a mysterious effect on me and when I heard this particular song from PGR2 it took me back in time. The memories that flashed from it were a shock and almost overwhelming. The problem is I can recall every song I've ever heard. Granted, I may not know the words because in a lot of songs I can't heard the words over the instruments, but the tune is enough. This one song I heard though was the first song I wrote to.

To assist in my writing I listen to music. The majority of "Finding Kansas" was written to the classical music that was on Gran Turismo 4, but the PGR 2 song had the lines, "You don't mean anything to me". I realize how false that was, to me, as I wrote the chapters Emily and Linda, but it helped get the emotions out.

Going back to a couple nights ago I was taken back to that February night in 2005 when I first started to write. For me, hearing the song in the present, I had a hard time realizing what year it was. All the emotions that poured out onto my keyboard when I firs wrote was reawakened. This got me thinking about other examples and it sort of scares me just how much power music has.

I think we all have this ability for a song to take us back to a different time, but is it common to become so overwhelmed because it's like that different time is in the now? Every song I heard at the VooDoo Lounge at the Rio hotel in Las Vegas is remembered, and every time I hear one of them I am instantly right back there at the SKUSA SuperNats.

I am very private about what songs I like. I will not tell you what songs I heard in Vegas, or what songs I write to now, or even what tracks of classical music I preferred on Gran Turismo 4. If I do, in my mind, it will be as if you know everything about me. Music is remembered more so than any other sense for me, and while corrupt politicians have skeletons in the closet, I have music hidden away, and I can tell you, I fear you knowing my music more so than the politician fears his skeletons.