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Ben “The Blenster” Hibben
I'm a geek! :-)
I'm a geek! :-)


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Over 350 songs and I haven't done one from The Chemical Brothers yet?

Here's something with some positive energy to wake us up and get us going today.

My kidney stone hurt bad enough I missed my second LVL1 Hackerspace Open Meeting in a row opting instead to head to bed early. Despite that I didn't sleep well due to the pain and I'm still exhausted and I could use the pep.

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Sadly Mac Miller died of an apparent drug overdose recently so I thought I'd share the first song by him I heard: Party On Fifth Ave

What caught my eye about this video is the sense of humor and fun they have with everything. Later I'd groove on Smile Back and Frick Park Market.

"Success" doesn't always lead to happiness, fulfillment, or an end to depression or whatever dark forces within that drives folks to self medicate with drugs (it varies) and sadly he is no longer with us. Please take care of yourselves my friends.

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Another Mazzy Star track I adore is Into Dust; this song is soft and melancholy, gentle and sad.

The song seems to be about depression and the end of a relationship, to me. She sings about "two strangers" and "broken in two" which may refer both to herself and the relationship.

She wonders about the future but feels hope slipping away. She seems to feel her future is at the mercy of "your fate."

It's so sad, private, and haunting. It really feels intimate.

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Once again I could swear I've posted this here before (and maybe I have, but not to this collection). Today's song is from the fantastic soundtrack to the movie The Last of the Mohicans and is from the Promontory scene for which it is named.

This movie remains a favorite of mine in particular because of the powerful soundtrack and the theme that he would do anything to rescue his love.

In this scene (spoilers for a 26 year old movie) the main character is fighting to save his love's sister with the help of his adopted family; he is essentially murdering his way up the mountain to save her from her captors (a renegade group led by someone who was essentially cast out of/left his tribe for his actions as I recall). These scene contains a lot of emotion, starting with the drive to save her at all costs and includes some painful moments. Immediately before this scene his love is rescued from an agonizing death by someone who loved her but she did not love in return; he literally gives his life for her (after not giving her much real respect beforehand, hence her decision not to marry him).

The powerful emotions are perhaps both why I love this movie and also why I haven't watched it too many times; it's a lot to take in. That said I can listen to this soundtrack all day.

I can empathize with his desire to do anything to save her, though as I grow older I find I have cause to reflect on how many people identify with these sorts of grand-gestures as deeply romantic (and they are, if we accept the cultural weight these have) but don't assign as much importance to the little things that are actually important/romantic in relationships.

It's not the bravery of his charge up the mountain, relentlessly pursuing her to rescue her that we should seek to replicate in some sort of grand-gesture when we are in a relationship with someone; while these may serve to start something they can't make it last. It's the little tasks, making them a beverage, cleaning up after yourself, a small thoughtful gift, a sincere compliment, etc. that make real relationships actually work. And work is the operative word there. A single grand gesture may feel like it ought to lead to a "happily ever after" but in reality it's the small things, added up over time, that make these dreams a reality.

This is reflected in another film franchise, the Die Hard series. John McClane is excellent at the Grand Gesture but terrible at the actual work, hence his family issues tend to be bad, get better during the moment, and then revert to the bad again.

I spend perhaps more time than I should pondering things like this and what lessons can be learned from them.

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Today's song is dedicated to my mom, who spells her name Joleen.

I've read that Dolly once met a cute young fan and this was her name; she also wrote this song based on her experiences with another woman, a bank teller who she thought her husband might have a crush on.

The lyrics express an insecurity many of us have felt and this may explain why it is so incredibly popular and why this song has been covered by so many other artists; it resonates even today.

Your smile is like a breath of spring
Your voice is soft like summer rain
And I cannot compete with you

That last line in particular sinks the barb in, doesn't it?

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Today's song is a classic, happy track that comes with a story.

Many years ago I got a "Dream Job" as a one-man multimedia machine. I got to do it all, the photography and videography, the editing, the programming, the design (both print and interactive), the educational content, and more. It let me flex a lot of skills rather than being trapped in just one niche.

Unfortunately on my way into the job on my very first day my car broke down. It had been making a harsh clunking originating somewhere in the drivetrain. Today would be the day it finally went from "intermittent very worrying noise" to "welp; time to spend money". I had a bet with my mentor and mechanic friend on which side had the issue, driver's or passenger, so I decided to crawl up under and see who was right. I was just discovering that I was right, as rare as that was when it came to betting against my mechanic, and that it was the driver's side driveshaft that had failed when I heard a young woman ask if I was OK.

I glanced over to see some cute sneakers; I was no longer alone on the side of the road. I slid out and found myself looking up at a rather attractive (and apparently pretty brave and concerned for others) woman in nice looking athletic sweats. My mind went back to this really cute girl I'd quietly, shyly flirted with in college, never working up the nerve to actually ask her out (I was so incredibly shy at the time; you'd hardly recognize me compared to today). I decided that this time I wasn't going to give in to my fear and shyness; this was a cool woman who cared enough to stop and check on strangers and that's a pretty cool indicator she's worth asking out to dinner, right? Right! So let's do this.

"Wait a sec..." said my fear. "Are you sure? Let's at least find out a little more before we do anything drastic."

With that my mind went to the lyrics in this song:

If her daddy's rich take her out for a meal
If her daddy's poor just do what you feel

I conceded the point to myself; let's take a look at her car and get an idea of what sort of date to suggest. This plan agreed to I began to talk...

"Hey, how's it going.... Officer??"

The plan died when I saw those red and blue lights. It was definitely not an appropriate time to hit on her. My shyness won the day and I quietly accepted a ride to work, showing up for my first day late and in a police car thinking to myself "Yup; great first impression there Ben... Great...."

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Today's song has invaded my dreams recently which earned it a spot on my music playlist where I've found I quite enjoy it.

As I've grown and developed over the years, slowly stripping the toxic bullshit taught to me by the society I grew up in, I have steadily became more and more supportive of various groups under attack. FIrst it was gay rights, then feminism, and then into trans rights and more.

I've never fit into the box society assigned me; I've always rankled at the notion that I should be a good little worker bee. I've pushed against these boundaries, taking Home Ec classes in school, embracing art, and learning how to fix and do as much as I can.

As a result I'm hard to describe, though my brother (+hal hibben) has described me as someone who has a giant 4x4 diesel truck, multiple chainsaws that I know how to use, and who crochets (though to be fair I haven't done any serious crochet work since high school; I keep meaning to do more though).

I don't think "traditional gender roles" have any real meaning and often end up doing harm to men and women (and other gender identities as well), though many men don't seem to realize that those who advocate for women (and others) are also advocating for them as well. Many of the toxic elements of modern notions of "masculinity" are deeply harmful to us as well.

There is a meme among the trans movement I've seen expressed a few times: frequently folks start as allies and then eventually decide to transition themselves. I can certainly see how this could happen; people who are internally conflicted on this topic are more likely to seek out this marginalized group and support them; they may not realize it but they have a stake in this fight. This is not the case with me, however. I have no issue being a man and have dealt with the bullshit roles by consciously deciding to ignore them for many years; I do not feel like a woman trapped in my body. I'm not going to transition even to attract the lesbian I mentioned before. I am who I am and I am comfortable with that. I will continue to sew, chop down trees, and fix all the things and do as I please, societies expectations be damned.

I love that this song attacks and breaks down gender roles while calling out their bullshit.

I'd like to dedicate this post, along with a sincere apology, to the trans woman I intentionally misgendered in college, before I knew better (at the time the research I had seen showed it was a mental illness -- this has been changed in more recent publications and I've grown up and learned to accept people for who they are -- this is one of several examples where evidence has changed my mind).

Let's step back from the question of identity vs mental illness, however, and look at this in a more simple framework: Are you their therapist? No? Me neither. What does it cost us to be polite and use the gender identity they prefer? Nothing, nothing at all. So why not be polite?

To do otherwise is to be a bigot and, now that you've read this, to do so on purpose, knowing that you're being rude intentionally.

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Today's song is another one of those "Wait, I didn't post this already?" songs...

While I love many Simon and Garfunkle songs this is my favorite. I love the original version and usually spurn covers, though Disturbed did a decent one.

I apologize for being somewhat quiet here lately; life has been getting in the way and I've had very little free time. In fact I only had a chance to sit at this computer again today for a moment due to someone else being late.

Sometimes life is like that and the best thing we can do is make the most of our moments.

Hello Darkness my old friend...

I remember those days still.

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Today's song is a two-parter. The first is an introduction track to the Burning Bridges EP called New Beginning Intro that's not available on YouTube (at least I couldn't find it) but can be heard here:
The lyrics, which are why this is part of the two parter, are here:

I got this album free from Google (thanks Google!) during a limited promotion but IMO it's well worth paying for.

Ludacris, the stage name of Chris Bridges, plays on his name in the masterful lyrics delivered with his typical expert flow (his raw skill at the game is undeniable). While all the lyrics in the intro piece are important for now let's focus on the outro:

See the only people I owe my loyalty to are the ones who never made me question it. Loyalty goes both ways but never push a loyal person to the point when they no longer give a fuck. There comes a time in life where you walk away from all the drama and the people who create that shit. Destroy what destroys you! You'll never see all the great things ahead if you keep looking at all the bad things behind you. They say the hardest things in life is know which bridge to cross and which ones to burn. So may the bridges I burn light yo motherfuckin' way!

This theme is echoed in the official song, Burning Bridges, from the album of the same name.

It is important to learn how to cast off the haters and hangers-on who seek to drag you down, to keep you "in your place" and stifle your creativity and your aspirations.

I've cut people out of my life after they've hurt me; I've had to learn to be more careful with my forgiveness. I had an awakening experience several years ago after my best friend (at the time) screwed me over (I remain pretty convinced I'll never see the money he owes me, even if he won the lottery) when he moved out and I started realizing how many chains he'd placed on my life with his negativity. I cut ties with a lot of people and ended up maintaining only two close friendships from before that decision. One of those would eventually stab me in the back and I cut off ties for around 2 years, when she called in tears and begged me to "come fix everything again." We picked up right where we'd been before and became even closer but eventually her ambitions led her to make a foolish decision and try to stab me in the back again over a project we collaborated heavily on. I may tell that story eventually but for now suffice it to say the point of this post is sometimes you have to make hard choices and cut people you have cared for for over a decade out of your life for your own good.

In this case it has paid off well for me; now that I'm not spending time and energy there on a non-reciprocal friendship my own projects have seen massive success far beyond what I had before.

All that said I want to stress one final point: one should not burn bridges unnecessarily. Indeed I often go out of my way to avoid doing so, even when leaving a toxic job or relationship, unless it cannot be avoided. This is not something you should do lightly or without careful consideration. In general I strongly advise against this course of action but, just because it is typically the "wrong thing to do" doesn't mean that there aren't times that it's not only appropriate but arguably a moral imperative you owe yourself. Learning to distinguish when it is and isn't appropriate is a part of life. For myself I let them light the fire; I just don't put it out and I don't forget that they held the matches.

No more abusive or one-sided relationships (friendship, business, or otherwise).

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If you've been following this collection for awhile it's no secret that I tend to go all in in a relationship (see: or or etc.)

I don't listen to a lot of country music, as you may have noticed, though there are definitely some samples in this mix. This song has always spoken to me. Even as a child I knew I was like this. If I fall for you it's for life.

This doesn't mean that I want to see/be with any of my ex's even though I'll never stop caring for them in some way or another. We're ex's for a reason.

There are currently four women that fit into the category this song is about; women I will love until the day I die. One died. One rarely speaks to me. One I cut contact off from when she grew too abusive. One just isn't into me that way.

Who will be number five? WIll I be so lucky as to find another? I do not know.
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