All posts by Brandon Machado

At What Point Does Everything Become A Boring Lump of Clay?

After watching the documentary and reading the article assigned for this blog I can only help but ask myself “where is the fun!?” I guess working hard at things isn’t too much fun to people – not everyone likes to organize their record collection in protective plastic sleeves alphabetically and continuously take part in the maintenance that is required to “respectably” house a collection nearing 500, or however many I own. I think that this is all part of the joy and love that I have for record collecting, the tangibility of it all. Sure, convenience is nice and accessibility is great for many, some need it just to be able TO DO.

I’m fortunate enough to have working everything (I’m certain, if anything lacks let me know). So why not try to enhance the act of doing the thing rather than enhance the capabilities of ease in which that thing can be achieved?

I don’t think that machine and vinyl would go well together in the practice of an AI de-dusting, and whatnot, maybe – I doubt it. I wouldn’t trust my rare marble pressed copy of Kate Bush’s ‘Hounds of Love’ with it. No way. But then there comes the element of physical storytelling. To me there is a human quality (to more reference the article, whereas I was more so referencing the documentary prior) that is unparalleled to what an AI can accomplish.

I care so much for Will Ospreay’s crushing defeat to Kenny Omega because the story told, while predetermined in outcome, the consequences of defeat is real to WILL OSPREAY. Everything he expresses in the post-match press conference happened to him. An AI cannot replicate that. I don’t care about whatever it endures according to its programming, it doesn’t either. Will Ospreay is such a fascinating character, person, and professional wrestler because HE does what HE does.

The first four minutes of this interview, featuring Ospreay, represent professional wrestling in as real of an emotive state as it gets. Blood, sweat, tears, sacrifice.

When the AI beat the humans 4-1 in that Go game, and all of the tech people were cheering it like a legitimate victory, I cringed. Why are we so obsessed with our tools? I don’t cherish that copy of ‘Hounds of Love’ because of it being a tool that plays music, I care because of the human art it contains. The 12″x12″ art print that houses the record, is a beautiful photograph compositionally and contextually in-relation to the art housed. Vinyl is a cool tool and all, but the experience is one that is tangible. Getting a computer to make music for you is not, at least in a romanticized sort of essence that I’m leaning towards.

Getting an AI to draw experiences from is questionable to me too, it is fun, and may enlighten research and whatnot, but where is the authenticity of influence being acquired there? When I sample ideas from film and music in my work – professional wrestling, whatever – I am sampling from the lexicon of my own perspective, and those around me.

Depeche Mode/New Order/Brand New/Converge/etc. all represent the record store clerks that I used to hang out with as a teen at Vintage Vinyl in Fords, or the teachers that would guide me through my high school journey. All of this represents a part of me. I might take from it, but it’s based off of the environment that has crafted my own life. An AI is not my life.

Some Quotes From the Documentary that Made Me Churn:

“A driverless truck would not have that limitation.”

“I wish i had drawn that graph.”

“Overcoming the limitations of our minds.”

An Interview With Minoru Suzuki that Makes My Soul Flutter:

“Interviewer — I see.

Suzuki: Do you, though? Look at what makes a great wrestler. Tall, muscular, can kick, can throw hands, can suplex people, can tap them out, can fly, is charismatic. Get all that together and you have a cleanup hitter. That’s the kind of guy that makes hacks like you, or the fans in the crowd give them the nod.

Interviewer –Right. The total package.

Suzuki: But make an all star team of guys like that, and they’re the most boring team in the league. These days, you can make your own characters in the videogames, right?

Interviewer –Yes, they have edit modes.

Suzuki: So some kid with their video game goes and makes their dream promotion, and it’s full of those aces right? But a baseball team that’s full of cleanup hitters won’t go anywhere. It’s the same for wrestling promotions.

Interviewer –So, even though he was successful in the major American leagues, Jon Moxley is by no means the total package as a wrestler, in your opinion.

Suzuki: It’s a bit of a paradox, but it’s because of that he got chances in WWE. There’s nobody else like him, right? Nobody in the majors in America is like him. So he stands out. Nobody gets that.

Look. An absolute all-round perfectionist, the perfect complete player, tens in every category? Not even Tanahashi is that. Naito isn’t that. They don’t exist.

Interviewer –Those slants, the weaknesses make strengths stand out, and made Moxley stand out.

Suzuki: Hehehe… Everyone in this business is a mark, you included. You fans have this idea of ratings, of skill points. You put all those points in a hexagon graph and calculate an average; ‘oh he’s a good wrestler, over 80 overall’. BS. Who the hell will pay money to buy a ticket, and see a guy who’s a perfect hexagon, 8 out of 10 or above in all areas? The guy with zero overall, the guy who can’t do anything at all, he’s a better draw.

Interviewer –Moxley is a unique breed? Organic, you mean? Real?

Suzuki: Why is Lance Archer popular? Why does Zack Sabre Junior have the support he does? Because there’s stuff they can’t do. Nobody in this goddamn business understands that. Wrestlers don’t understand that. Trainers, people teaching these kids don’t understand that for crying out loud!

Interviewer –The system wants to create all rounders.

Suzuki: So the kids go in, and they train, and their trainers find what the gaps are in their games, and they try to fill those gaps right up. So you have this perfectly smooth, grey lump of boring trash. Fill in those holes on a wrestler and there’s no way in hell he’s filling seats with asses. It’s up to us to make people talk, to make them disagree. Make them argue. So Moxley? It’s because he can’t do s**t that he’s a good wrestler.

Interviewer –So you actually rate him quite highly?

Suzuki: He has something very special about him.”

Interview Link:

Go-Time Y’all

Okay, so you see the three generations of wrestlers there – where the guy on the left (Shota Umino) is the youngest, the guy in the middle (Keiji Mutoh) is the oldest, and the guy on the right (Hiroshi Tanahashi) is somewhere closer to the guy in the middle? I feel like the guy on the right. My time here is almost up, and it all feels impendingly SOON for me to wake up as the guy in the middle.

I think that the time I’d like to put into this project, for my own fulfillment, needs to be much longer, meaning after a summer break and one more semester on top of what I actually have left. I have no hesitation that I’ll get this project done in time, and done well. I will, but time-wise I feel like there is just more to spend to really feel like my time was FILLED here as an MA student.

I felt the same way high school. Everything socially and academically seemed at a better place the 2nd half of my senior year, and then it just ended. Maybe that’s because you realize that all that sucked you just allowed to suck, idk. Like how every paper that I stressed over could have been completed just as well had I not let myself stress so much – or didn’t take what that person or this person did/said so seriously.

Which I guess means that this is actually the end of my road here at KEAN – or as a COLLEGE student. Either way, this is more of a mindset blog than a what I got done blog because I want my next one to hold me accountable. I want to get a good chunk of writing done over the next week or two. So expect the next blog to come later in the week than this one does. That was a calculated decision.

This writing I’m not measuring in pages, but in sections. I want to have two well-drafted sections of my project done by the next blog post. This does not have to be my best work, but it needs to be good – by my self-loathing standards AT LEAST. So, you reading this, hold me accountable.

I also have to find some essential photos that will help me fill out my writing, and one that is astronomically essential to the work, as I see it. I’ve been looking for it for months – I won’t spoil it, but I’ll let y’all know when I find it.

There are other goals throughout this week related to the next class and whatnot, but I think I typed enough so I won’t clarify here. Someone just walked into my office to talk to me, so I’ll see y’all here next week.

Introduction 3.0

Alrighty, so for those of you who have been following this blog in the past, cool. For those of you new to me (I hope that there are a few) I’m Brandon. Most of my friends call me by whatever insulting name comes to mind – that’s our sense of humor. You can call me WHATEVER you want, I like personable, unique, nicknames.

I’m a huge film/music/professional wrestling nut (you’ll see constant references to each throughout this blog if you pay close attention), and really wear my interests on my sleeve. I really dig expression and boldness, and never understood why people reserve themselves. It’s weird. If someone is going to like you allow them the opportunity to like you for you, otherwise the relationship (in whatever form it takes) is probably going to crack much easier.

Besides all that I’m quite impulsive and hyper and whatnot, but I don’t necessarily view that as as negative as I did as a kid. I think over time you tend to work with those kinds of details and refine them to be positive factors of your ability/personality. Still, I find that I grate people sometimes. Like how run-on my writing can be and how scattered my ideas are expressed here, such is essentially a representation of how I speak in real time.

Oh, vulgarity! I can be pretty vulgar too. I’ve always been a big fan of shock-schlock. I love old exploitation films and really questionable corners of the music world. I’m still waiting for some super ironic GG Allin TikTok resurgence. Not because I’m a huge fan of Allin, or even his music, but because I think that Irony is A bit of Dead Scene, and like to laugh at how absurd it gets – even if those causing it are completely unaware/unironic.

As for this course I’m pretty excited for it. The students that I already know I think are an enlightened and engaging bunch, and my new peers seem like the kind to bring a different perspective to the table. The content itself seems to be pretty intriguing – especially the focus on artificiality in the sense that I want to look closer regarding how near or far such a thing really is to our own human core.

More Project Progress…

I have started the recording process for my progress, which I have changed to more of a photoshoot than anything else, though they are live photos so we will see what I can do in regards to transferring those to my digital map. Some challenges have come forth, the most notable being that a bunch of twenty-year olds reenacting fight scenes outside of elementary, middle, and high schools during school hours (sunlight is limited this time of year) is a bit risky and inappropriate – so the weekend it is. We have needed to reschedule some “scenes.”

Besides that the updates are not monumentous, there are two main components to this project, and I am confident that I will get it done well and on time.

E-Lit Project Progress…

Okay, so it has been a really slow week for my e-lit project. I want to include a video component to accompany each of the locations on my “Brawl Locator Map” (working title) and while that is all grand and all, and most certainly feasible, I need to work with more bodies than just mine. I need at least two, numero dos. Basically I am waiting on a couple of friends to mane camera and serve as example (you will all likely find out what I mean by that once the project is complete, hehe, haha).

For the time being I’m just focusing on layouts and whatnot, and what color-schemes/other cosmetics I think would enhance this project on a visual level.

That is all for this week, really, though I am certain that next week will be far more productive. I tend to work on things in order, and my backlog of other work was quite hefty.

Blog #10: Trauma Dump

(real menacing-looking teenage boy right here ^^^)

This was quite the eye-opener for me, and I think one of the more timely and presently urgent pieces of e-lit that we have experienced thus far. I have always had a fascination with unjust punishment, and whether or not most punishments fit certain crimes. I think that this comes from my early love with Iron Maiden’s Hallowed Be Thy Name as a pre-teen – which presents the narrative of a man on death row for a crime he did not commit. 

Still, throughout this piece, and as I shifted through each case, I tried to envision and fill in certain unanswered gaps with my own imagination. What crimes could have been committed? Murder? Assault? Petty theft? I tried to run an entire span from what I may consider to be petty little crimes to severe offenses. Regardless, I felt a great amount of empathy, and not even just for the prisoners who may or may not have committed whatever crimes assumed or not, but just for human existence within this whole societal system – I felt sympathy for the whole.

I feel a sense of paranoia for how slow and lacking in progress the powers that be, whatever you might wanna call them, are in ensuring a just outcome. The consequences of their justice system weigh down more than just the offenders, and whoever they most potentially think is an offender, they weigh down those surrounding them. Friends, family, extended acquaintances, people they may not even know. To view certain people as a social currency, a most valueless one, during a pandemic is absurd to me. They get sick, a guard gets sick, their family gets sick. The lack of care itself is a disease, it spreads, it consumes, and it gives nothing back.

In high school I remember being assigned the task of creating a video essay on WW1, one that I intended to convey how the horrors of what happen to soldiers on the front line (which are often propagandized through uplifting motivational packages that feed into the ego death phenomenon or whatever), but more so how they affect those back home as well. So I spliced authentic WW1 footage with the barber shop scene in Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou, where a woman emotionlessly gets her eyeball slit by a razor blade. My AP English class was disturbed and confused and some appalled, but I thought it was a success in challenging students’ perceptions of this trinkling of suffering idea that I was getting at.

Coincidentally, that same day some students were talking about Columbine in a class that I was in, I never found out who said this, and who reported it, but the students were making some sort of list of students that they thought were most likely to “shoot up the school.” I topped the list, which is not completely a shocker to me. I was very brash, edgy, and looked like I could have roadied for SLAYER back in ‘83. All of my band tees had pentagrams on them, my hair was long and nappy, I always seemed on-edge unless you tried to talk to me, and my brother was missing from school for over two years at that point (mental health issues and bullying due to sexuality led to him being transferred, not my business to share).

Apparently, the teacher who reported me reported me as “threatening to shoot up the school,” and the woman who ran the behavioral department ran with it, and an investigation through my submitted school work commenced about half-way through the school day (my presentation was during second period). I was called down to the office (a rarity that confused the class and the teacher I had, I think it was 5th or 6th period) and told to sit in a room, facing the wall. I was told that I was there for some threats that I made, then told that I was there because some students were listing off names of school shooters and their teacher confronted them once my name was mentioned. Very muddy waters. What really was it? I’ve had to piece it all together because the people questioning me and reporting me absolutely didn’t know all the details. What the fuck?

I was in that room for hours when the woman running the behavioral department told me that she came to the decision to send me to Trinitas to be evaluated, and that if things didn’t check out right then I would be committed. Terrifying for me, I don’t want to get too personal, but if you read prior closely you can piece things together, and I knew the nightmare that that was. The idea stressed the living hell out of me. She began typing up a police escort on her computer, trying to hover the screen away from me, but I saw the time request that she put, and called her out on it. “2:35, isn’t that when school lets out?!?” I panicked. She tried to act all nonchalant about it, and explained that that is when I was to be escorted out by the police at the front entrance of the school.

Great, she is making an example of me, everyone is going to see the cryptic metalhead edgy kid getting shoved into a cop car at the time of day where parents and students and faculty surround the front of the school. Why? The time she set wasn’t even an hour plus! If I was some school shooter wouldn’t they want me escorted ASAP? She was visibly frustrated when I exclaimed “can’t a parent or guardian come pick me up and escort me instead? I can call my mom!!!” Turns out that was a rule! Why are you throwing a visible temper fit because I can’t get escorted in front of everybody by the police?

Anyway, I sat staring at that wall for four hours, and my teacher, who was not fond of the video I submitted herself came by, crying. Apologizing because she had no choice but to show them the video. I almost cried, I didn’t like seeing such an important and influential person in my life that stressed, even though I was a tad miffed earlier in the day that she didn’t get the edginess of my video entirely. While in the room I overheard her arguing with the principal at the time and my IEP case manager, they were all heated. I was shocked, it sounds like the other two are defending me. That almost made me cry. The phrase that did make me cry was her shouting “I do not know this kid, I have never seen this kid, I don’t trust the way he looks, I do not trust this kid!” If you never saw me shouldn’t that be a good thing!?!

To make things worse, the woman saw the video (which was praised by the principal for being “college appropriate” by the principal at the time, but not necessarily high school appropriate”) and through him I was told that her big problem with it was the anti-semitism she saw in it, and that she was upset about my inclusion of Nazi’s burning Jews in concentration camps. Interesting. I immediately told him that all of the footage that I used was simply WW1 footage found on YouTube of American soldiers fighting in trenches, an art house surrealist film, and Opeth music videos that show Satan. When he got back he and my case manager apologized for the confusion, they were visibly frustrated, and annoyed with this woman – I had a sneaking suspicion she had wrongly sent kids to Trinitas before … after telling this story many times in the seven years since I have learned that she did.

I thought I was in the clear, they looked back at the video and knew that she was lying, but by this point school had ended hours ago, and had long gone home. Apparently once she submitted the report only she can take it back. A few moments later the principal came back with a black and white polaroid from the 90’s of two white boys and I shuddered in fear. “Oh no, is he about to randomly turn against me?” He asked me if I knew who the two young men in the photo were, and I legitimately gulped that I was so shitting bricks. Before I could answer “Erik and Dylan” he told me. “That’s me in high school,” he softly revealed, “I know what you’re going through.”

My new hero.

My mom eventually came. Don’t think she didn’t haul ass because she did, she just worked a few hours away that day, and left work instantly and as early as possible to save her Baby Bear (so edgy amirite). She took me to the Trinitas in Elizabeth after, where I would sit in a chair for four-plus more hours, staring at another wall because it was either that or Family Feud, and nah, I hate Family Feud. Note: my case manager was such for my IEP, which I had because of my ADHD. He knew how excruciating all of this chair sitting was for me. 

It was scary sitting there. Every now and then some kids would pass by, all of which were there for reasons that nearly made me cry. It was sad sitting there. I felt violated, ashamed, and insulted – just for being. My evaluation went well, the two women evaluating me were shocked that I was there. My mom recognized them from last week, actually, which was funny because when they asked me about mental health in my family, I answered none whatsoever. I was really scared. 

On the ride home I kept thinking about how mad I was that I had to go through over eight hours of 16-year old paranoia, which is very exaggerated, and while sitting at Trinitas the woman who sent me there was at home enjoying her night, eating dinner, watching television, whatever. Simply because of a wrong accusation and her lack of trust in my appearance, she cost my mom pay, wasted hours of her co-workers time, made an educator cry, and further stigmatized me for simply being. Did she ever face any sort of consequence for this? Not because of what she did to me, that’s for sure, but simply because she deemed me a bad kid I was suddenly disposable and expected to be humiliated and made an example of, regardless of whether or not she actually had the time or presentation to prove whether or not I was actually intending to, or did, any of the things that I was being falsely accused of. A cynic she made of me.

Blog #9: Sucks to Suck

While reading the preface to this one I made the decision to go through this game of life-styled work as truthfully as I would go about it in reality, and boy was this one a real guilt-feeder. It really had me feeling like a sad-boy Shakespearean ass or something, every choice was like a slap in the face that made everything worse.

I mentioned in class last week (and in a blog that I didn’t realize I posted for the wrong class) that I had experienced some big losses during COVID. I always struggle with the whole death thing, which surprised a good lot of people, because I very much have an “it’s always funny until someone gets hurt, and then it’s just hilarious” outlook on life, but I really don’t like NON-existence. It’s gross. Everyday since I lost my dog has been gross at some point, I feel like I’m in Groundhog Day in a lot of ways.

While this piece isn’t literally cyclical and whatnot, it sure feels as inescapable as Groundhog Day. It is so taxing, as loss is, but with interest. The situation provided here, one that was just another news story that I couldn’t be bothered with when it happened, is amplified into an event that I am now invested in – because it is presented as my own. Selfish. It is guilt and frustration with interest, both of which never really leave you when it comes to loss. As a side note that pain never really leaves, I don’t think. The worse and worse I seem to get as time passes on by, the more I feel people are looking down on me for my incapability to “push forward.” Maybe that’s because I am male and we’re always expected to not be vulnerable. Time can’t heal every wound, especially those that piece both ends of the soul.

This piece is arduous, and the worst part is how badly I wanted to escape the task of going through this-which is also the best part about it. It got a really sincere experience out of me. The further I got into things the more intimidating the downward spiral got, the more clueless I made choices, the more scattered and crowded my thought process became, and the more heated my physical state became. I wanted it to be over repeatedly, but then another page and block of text or a complicated nuanced decision needed to be made. Exhausting given the situation.

This Sucks

(I accidentally posted this in a different blog last week)

Aghhh this one was pretty hard for me to get through, I’ve lost a good amount in the past few years, two of which were two of my absolutely favorite people. Neither were soft blows, and both were incredibly brutal to watch – life degraded and decayed these two so suddenly right in front of me, and there was nothing I could do. Or could I? I think so. I don’t know though. Shit is really hard. It was fucking ugly.

Every single time I see a picture I break down a bit inside. I went to the movies and a character had the same name as one of them. This past weekend one of my best friends checked on me after the film to see if I was okay… two hours later and that was the first thing that said friend asked. Said friend didn’t even sit near me, they saw no reaction. But they knew that these wounds still fucking tear. I’m spilled open, defenseless. 

I can’t even imagine compiling such an e-lit work for one’s own mother, I don’t know, I suppose that it’s therapeutic. I have pictures of my last moment with one of my two big losses on my phone, and I will never delete them, but I try my best to scroll past and      avoid them. I just found an old camera from high school, it’s crazy how much has changed in 6-plus years. Those two are ghosts in that roll. 

The pictures here are tender, joyous, and admirable. They represent simple slice-of-life joys and organized social activity based on – the photo. These photos were taken well before the digital camera boom, so I suppose that taking a picture was a cool thing, exciting, lively! An all eyes on us or me or them sorta thing. Now ghosts of a past.

I can’t even finish reading a majority of the text involved here, it pressures me to put my own – their own – horrors into words. That scares me. I still, more than two years later, wake up with a wet pillow whenever I dream about them. Sometimes I can’t see with any clarity when I open my eyes because I guessuppose that I cried too much. There is that search, neverending. Where some have the capability to obtain some sort of closure through creating, I have no idea where to search for mine. Fuck. You’re literally to my right, in my room. I can’t even look at you, guilt is a bundle of hard shit. 

I’m going to submit this, roll over in the opposite direction, and go to sleep. If you aren’t in my life when I wake up tomorrow, please don’t visit me in my dreams tonight. I’m not in the mood to run away right now. I just can’t take it.

To Here Knows When

SUPER obvious reference here.

Sentimentality is something that comes forth most prominently, I think, when we feel a sense of intense mutuality with another. We are social beings, and crave the idea of being one with another. This is notably represented in the chorus to that one perfect Kate Bush song that a certain nauseating Netflix series has caused a shift in cultural notoriety (here in the states) for, where the perspective that Kathy provides is one of a lover so in love that they desire to swap bodies with their lover, to be as close to them as they possibly can.

Thus simplicities such as specific kinds of mushrooms or glass shapes/widths become strong sensory memories while entwined with another in a romantic situation – whatever the standards of “love-life” one leads. “The shortest distance between two points” as represented within this work of e-lit humorously redirects back to the beginning – “a kiss.” I laugh at this because it caused me to reflect upon first kisses, a moment that usually feels more heightened than most, and one where vulnerability takes control. I always find them joyously awkward. They’re like meeting someone for the first time and giving them a multi-step handshake. 

In the same way that some first-time handshakes can feel a little … physically clunky, kisses seem to be that way too. Of course it is rare to indulge this information to the other half committed to the boundary breaking deed during, but a new glove always takes some getting used to. I could give a pro handshaker the best handshaker my best handshake, but it will likely (note: likely) not feel as natural as the ones I give my closest pals. The same works with the titular subject here, not that I’ve gone to great lengths to kiss my pals, or anything like that, moving on. A new experience is a new experience – simple.

This is not to devalue the heft of such an experience, because it always is. Time always seems to stop regardless (unless it’s really that bad), and perhaps this can just stem from my long-standing strife (strong wording but I’m romanticizing a bit here) with my own hyperactivity, but surroundings become ever so clear. Eyes open, eyes clear, it’s like an exchange of energy – or an exchange of power. How strong that energy or power becomes results from the strength of connection shared, or something abstract like that. 

I really like that all of the little ideas that accompany, I assume, each kiss within this work are accompanied with varying (in length) tangents, be it some description of an item’s functionality, or a fun-factoid about some animal, or whatever. This helps to enhance the every minute is a mile void that accompanies true closeness, where everything else is moving too slow or moving by fast, lost in the central focus that is – the two. 

Perhaps there is a tab that I missed where the tender moments showcased here turn harsh, linger bleak, and tear at the soul, but I think it is pretty favorable towards experience. What I get most from it, and the little Editorial Statement provided prior to engaging with the text, is that we grow greatly in these moments. During, we are almost majestically interweaving our own existence with another person. We come out different than when we go in, and a part of that person is very likely to stick with us, even long after. Over time this scaffolds and builds and builds, I guess depending on the consideration and length that we provide and spend two spend together.