The Beginning...

The Beginning...

Monday, June 27, 2011

They killed my Spiderman

This made me sad.

Background and Context - a little more than 10 years ago, Marvel started a new line and continuity of comics known as the "Ultimate Universe". Basically it was for a more comprehensive and realistic (as realistic as super hero comics get) line of stories without the 40+ years of back story that may make it difficult for new readers to understand what's going on. It began with Ultimate Spiderman. It was far superior to the Spiderman comics that have existed since the 60's which, frankly, haven't been very good for many years. But that original Spiderman has nothing to do with this. Unfortunetly, ever since that hack Jeph Loeb decided the Ultimate line is expendable and could be used for shock value (he also wrote Heroes Season 3 in case you were wondering how bad a writer he is... what, am I the only one who got past season 2?) and taking risks that no one would dare do to Stan Lee's characters - no one was safe. He didn't write this but still... I blame him. He started the publicity killings. Now someone else will be Spiderman and I will now mourn the passing of Peter Parker. I've got the entire collection on my book shelf and now at least I don't have to take up any more room with it.  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why do you like the music you like?

I'm reading a book called "This is your brain on music". The chapter on why we like the type of music that we do has been very interesting so I wanted to write out some of what I've learned here. I'm not really satisfied with the answer "because I do" for any question. So it's nice to find the scientific explanation for behaviours that would sometimes have that as an answer. I want to write out the points I found most interesting but it is hardly an explanation for the entire picture. Any behaviour is much more complex than to explain it away with a simple if A then B statement. (Also known as a modus ponens for logic nerds like me). That being said - here goes:

It all begins in the womb. Long story short, research has found like babies prefer music that they were exposed to in the womb. The auditory system is fully functional after 20 weeks and will be taking in all sorts of sounds. Traffic, conversations, heart beat rhythm and of course, music. On a similar topic, the "Mozart Effect" has many scientific flaws. It claims that making your child listen to Mozart for 10 minutes each day will increase their intelligence - specifically with spatial-reasoning tasks. Now there is a correlation between classical music and intelligence (also a correlation between rap and well, the lack thereof) but the directionality is questioned. Is it the music causing increased intelligence or is it parents that prefer that music create learning environments to foster intelligence. Most scientists in the field do believe that music with greater complexity enhances cognitive functions but would be hesitant to say as an absolute.

Social Consequences. This a a product of Western culture but as Western values permiate the rest of world it certainly is spreading. Musical preference becomes a mark of personal and group identity. This is a very strong influence mainly in the teenage years. You identify with a music and it becomes a part of you while another type may be seen as an attack on your values and thus despise it - even to absurd lengths. Remember Tupac and Biggie Smalls in the 90's? Gang wars over hip hop styles. To a large degree, this is determined by chance factors. For example, in the 60's CCR was huge in northern California. But if you went down south as a CCR fan you wouldn't fit in among all the surfer/Hollywood Beach Boy fans or David Bowie followers. Adolescence is such a critical period of growth that these distinctions become hardwired into our thinking. Much like language and mathematics which have only a limited time for the brain to pick up (if a child doesn't learn a language by the age of 6 or so then they likely will never learn and math by the age of 20) so it is with music. If your brain thinks it doesn't need something then it goes through synaptic pruning and that portion dies off so energy can be used in the areas that get used. So the teenage years are very important for connecting identity and music. Culture and environment are very much chance factors.
Balance between simplicity and Complexity. Now complexity is very subjective. What one finds insipid and simple, another might find difficult to understand based on whatever their previous experience and schemas are. If a musical piece is too simple we tend to not like it. Childrens songs are great for young developing minds but we all know how much adults wanted to kill Barney the purple dinosaur. Also, if it's too complex we don't see it as being grounded in anything we are familiar with and find it too unpredictable to be enjoyable. All art for that matter, needs to find a balance between simplicity and complexity for its audience to enjoy it. It's the same with games. Some games have complex rules that turn off many people from continuing (perhaps board games like Hero Quest or War Hammer) but games that are too simple aren't stimulating enough (Maybe checkers or tic-tac-toe). When complicated music (or games) are given continued exposure, an appreciation can develop as your brain develops landmarks for it and understands the rules. When you don't understand the rules all other types within the genre sound the same. (As with the game analogy - all RPG games may seem the same to someone unfamiliar) A common criticism of rock and roll during it's infant years (1950-60's) was that it all sounded the same. People who are not fans of any particular genre today still use that criticism. But to someone who has learned the rules there can be a vast difference among not just bands but also from the same song writer. Nirvana and Pearl Jam were polar opposites in the grunge scene but to someone unfamiliar with grunge may think they sound the same. (Poppycock I say but then again I'm familiar with it) In short - unfamiliarity leads to frustration or simple lack of appreciation. It can be graphed as an inverted U.
The X axis represents complexity and the Y represents how much you like.

Pitch plays a part also. Some people can't stand the low beats of hip hop and other hate the high pitch whininess of violins. This is part of our physiology. Different ears transmit different parts of the sound frequency spectrum causing someone to experience a sound as pleasant and to another as aversive. To add the influence of previous mentioned things - physiology is affected by development in the womb, the culture you grew up around (microspheres to chronospheres) and development during puberty and what was used to identify with.
As with other preferences, musical preference is influenced by previous experience. If there is a good memory attached then you are likely to enjoy the music. If a negative memory is attached then you may not like the music. It's like if you eat broccoli and then throw up you will likely be hesitant to try another broccoli recipe. But if it was positive then you may be willing to experiment with unknown recipes that use broccoli. (Personally, rap music makes me metaphorically puke)
Then there is safety. We surrender ourselves when we listen to music. We trust the composer with a part of our hearts and our spirits; we let the music take us somewhere outside of ourselves. We allow them access to our emotions on a level that few ever open up to. It is unusual to become so vulnerable to a complete stranger but its music that brings us together. A great composer will make you feel one with them and what they feel. This can be positive or negative. Think of the purveyors of some pop music that is blatently crude, sexist, racist or worse. You allow those attitudes into your deepest emotions. These connections influence our preferences. Think of someone like Johnny Cash who cultivated the outlaw image and played many shows in prisons for the inmates. It turns out, people who have spent time in prison or appeal to the outlaw image are more likely to enjoy his music then someone who wants nothing to do with that lifestyle. If you like the artist on a personal level and value what they do then you will more likely enjoy the music. Same goes for the opposite. If you think Marilyn Manson is a horrible human being then you probably won't enjoy his music. You preference may even be changed when learning about an artists personal life. "i didn't like so and so until I found out we had this in common" or "I use to enjoy whats-his-face until he said this about blah blah".

In conclusion, there are developmental, physiological, experiential and environmental factors that determine what music we like... Ya, it get a bit complicated. Hope that all made sense.

PS - I have the bestest wife in the world! I love you Mrs. Sollywood!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The "What's New" Post

So we have been looking at apartments to rent in Hamilton. We don't have a huge budget and want to be close enough to a major bus line so I can get to school and that has limited us a bit. For example, one apartments tried to sell us on how they have only had a prostitute come to the door once. Oh and we should get to know the local beat cop. He'll take care of us. But what if we don't get to know him...and there's only been cockroaches once. These are the selling points. There was also a place that I liked and may be the one so it's not all a complete joke. It's got a garden out back, nice storage attic but no dining room. None of these apartments have dining rooms. Don't people eat in places that aren't in front of the t.v.?

Now watch this:

Grab onto our tongues Charlie!
Sometimes I just can't sit here and type more than this

Monday, June 20, 2011


Father's Day is pretty sweet, this year we shared our two year anniversary with it (TWO YEARS!!). Crazy town. But as that will only happen every 7 years (except when the leap year messes that up), we thought that our Dads should get that day.

I love my Father. He is such a calm gentle soul. I think it was from him that I learned about unconditional love. He is so proud of me (which feels awesome, but slightly undeserved because I haven't really done anything awesome.) But it is strange the things he is proud of in me. It makes me realise his priorities and reminds me what mine should be. My father William David Manley, can not have a conversation with me without tearing up and telling me that he is so proud that I have a belief in Jesus Christ, and that I try to follow Him. He is a man who loves the Lord. My father always tells me how beeyewtiful I am and how I must get it from him because he is so good looking himself (which is totally true, he is a handsome man). It was hard for me to change my last name because it reminds me so much of my Dad. Dad has built a solid and good reputation with that name and ever since I was a little girl I have wanted my name (our name) to mean something too. It may seem odd to you but at 16 and 17 I would stick out my hand for a shake and say 'I give you my word' (and in my head add 'as a Manley') and when I do that I keep that promise. To this day my handshake is my solemn promise. I love my Father from his white hair, to his squinty twinkly eyes to his big round belly and deep into his heart. Happy Father's Day Daddy.

I have a step-father too. Maybe you didn't know that. I became his step-daughter when I was around 11 years old. We fought a lot when I was a teenager. But as I have (finally) matured I realise that he is a good man. William Carl Sauer treats my mother well, he loves his family and is a hard hard worker. I learned to work hard from his fine example and I love him. I wish that I could undo those years of being a ingrate.

My father is law is awesome. He is a very serious man, or so I thought. But I have come to realise that anyone who likes to drive fast while listening to rock, eat ice cream from the container, and get down on the ground and play with his grand kids can not be all that serious. I think that my favourite thing about David Walter Solomon is his smile. He loves people who are happy and he just beams at them back. He smiles so often this big fantastic smile. You should see it! He is a good husband and father, He has taught (by example) my own dear husband just what to do. I will be forever (we are sealed in a Temple of God for eternity) grateful that he has been such an amazing example of what a husband, father, man should be to his son(s).

My own dear husband. I am so excited to see him become a father (when it is right for us). He is so adorably nervous around infants and such a 'terrible' example to our nieces and nephews. He has taught my mild mannered and quiet nephew how to smash cars, rawr with dinosaurs, splash others with water and run around the house screaming to the horror of my sister and brother in law. But MAN do I love that about him.

There are many good men who have helped to raise me to be the woman I am. Christian Smith and Neal Schoen being among the greatest not mentioned above. I am fearful of the trend that is leading men away from their homes and families. I have relied on and cried with more 'fathers' than I have 'mothers'. I am a Daddy's girl. And I know that it is because of these good men that I can stand strong and be whatever I want. Career woman, leader, helper, commander, mother, wife, daughter, whatever. To good, honourable men!! Huzzah!

Friday, June 17, 2011


I went apartment hunting the other day. Tuesday. When Mr. Sollywood and I lived in our first place we looked at exactly one apartment which a family friend owned and we loved it and rented it. It was three houses down from our Church, fifteen minute walk to both our jobs, and the same to University (also main bus lines went to all those locations every 15minutes. Prime, that place was prime. Also it was spacious and inexpensive ( I love our landlord Walter!) So Tuesday, was not like that place at all. So many places far away (thirty minute drive from the school is not 'close to the university'), dirty (ants, bugs, dirt- you name it), tiny (the master bedroom was smaller than our bed!- granted it is a king BUT STILL), expensive, creepy/sketch all around no good. And when I say no good I really mean no good no goodnic.
Also the kitchens are awful, some were so small that I could barely move around in them and I am a thin person. Do these tenants just heat up food rather than making it? Mr. Sollywood would legit not have fit in some of these kitchens. Just walk into your nonwalkin closet and you've got yourself a kitchen 'near' the University. But today is a new day and hopefully something will turn up. Fingers crossed everyone!

*try not to mock my paint skills

Monday, June 13, 2011

Evil Bunny... ate my strawberries

Yes, exactly. An evil bunny ate my strawberries. They pack the right combination of helplessness and cuteness to catch you off your guard and then they take your children. Or in this case my strawberries. It's a good thing I don't have kids yet. But I do have a mature strawberry bush that was blossoming beautifully recently. Until this morning I realized the horror... it was picked clean. Not a single survivor. Blood red strawberry juice all over the snow white fur. Sins as scarlet indeed...

Friday, June 10, 2011

We are moving... again

The thing about this past week is that a weird thing happened. My face basically exploded from the nose down, and also the left side joined in a few days later for kicks. Lots of hives, lots of swelling, lots of itching, (no scratching though, I am hardcore about no scarring), and lots of peeling, and ..... leprosy (or so it looked like.) I am allergic to pineapple, strawberries, and (newly discovered) mangoes.
Which means that tonight whilst Mr. Sollywood is at work, I will be home alone listening to our newly acquired Star Wars record. I love vinyl. And packing up some of our things. Because Mr. Sollywood got into a sweet and hardcore Masters Program at a fancy University!!!!!!!!! Bet you would rather have had details about that than about the allergies eh? Let's see how long it takes him to post about it shall we? Here is one little tidbit though; he looked almost as excited as this picture