Spooky Times-An Album Review


downloadWelcome again to spooky time—the one time of year society encourages the exploration into scarier things. This year, I have something special for you. Not just another scary movie review or haunted house breakdown, and for the love of all that is holy, this blog is going to have ZERO to do with Stranger Things.

No my friends…today, we will be exploring spooky tunes, where it’s all about the spook, the whole spook and nothing but the spook. If you reach deep down into the obscurest of genres you may stumble onto the delightfully haunting sound that permeates Trip Hop and none have more trip in their hop than the English electronic band Portishead. Straight out of Bristol, the band delivers a devastatingly dark sound punctuated with the eerie bleating of the Hammond organ and a clever use of samples including everything from War to Isaac Hayes.

In 1994, Portishead’s debut album Dummy took spooky to a whole new level and nothing as of yet has rivaled it. Looking for something to croon in the background of your life throughout the entire month of October as you wait impatiently for Halloween? This would be the album for you.

The lead vocalist Beth Gibbons sends her voice to slither down your spine, chilling your very bones with a downright creepy sound that grips your attention, forcing your body to sway. The music video for the second track on the album “Sour Times” actually features spooky scenes from a short film made by the band (now that is dedication).

Lyrically hypnotizing, Portishead sings of forgotten dreams and imparts sage advice.

“You don’t get something for nothing…gotta try a little harder”

Strongly recommend tracks: “Sour Times”, “It Could Be Sweet” and “Roads”.

Bands with similar sound: Massive Attack, Radio Head, and Bjork

Advertisements

The Sacramento Sound-A Local Band Review: Face the Horizon and Occupy the Trees


image

The Sacramento Sound-A Local Band Review
Face the Horizon and Occupy the Trees

Sacramento boasts of being the birthplace of greats like Deftones, Cake, and Tesla, to name a few. If I try hard enough I can actually picture them on the cluttered stages of small suburban venues, fighting to differentiate themselves from the unceasing shuffle of sound. I am more than excited to be a part of sharing the beginnings of what I hope are the next generation of greats, starting with two bands I have some serious admiration for.

Occupy the Trees: A fun loving Sacramento Alt-rock band with curious deviations into the world of ska with a dash of skate punk

Charlie Sand-vocals guitar
Parker Barnes-lead guitar
Chris London-Bass
Nathaniel Wilson-Drums

Occupy the Trees held an opening slot in a recent local showcase at the Boardwalk; tasked with setting the tone, Charlie Sand and the band did not disappoint. They took to the stage with a gusto born of genuine boyish enthusiasm and it didn’t take long for the energy to catch on. Lyrically the band delivers an entertaining and relatable slice-of-life story full of satirical anecdotes. Sand on lead vocals has a catchy, adaptable style complemented well by a solid walking bass line and whimsical guitar riffs. Favorites of the night were the songs Words Like Bullets and Sorry, the latter was a blast live as the whole band joined forces to get the audience to sing along. Their musical style ranges from an upbeat punk/ska hybrid reminiscent of Sublime to the fast-paced melodic sounds of the early 90’s. Check them out on sound cloud!

https://soundcloud.com/occupythetrees

Face the Horizon: All the things you like from a heavy-experimental sound and none of the things you don’t

Robert Lynn-Vocals
Hal Trevor Williams-Guitar
Keywan Ryland-Drums
Chris Crimson-Bass

Front man Robert is right at home on stage, his charisma and obvious enthusiasm translates to the role of an entertainer well. He’s something like a heavy metal MJ, the passion for his craft is evident in every exaggerated move. Big kudo’s to the nod they gave the late Chris Cornell, pulling off an exceptional cover of “Like a Stone”. Cornell’s renowned range is not an easy one to replicate, let alone pull off with a grit and passion worthy of the man’s legacy. From twangy guitar solos and perfectly timed drum fills to the funk-rock heartbeat of the bass, Face the Horizon succeeds in putting the elements of their music together in a way that complement not competes. All in all they have made my ‘must see’ list and I encourage you to check them out when given the chance, you won’t be sorry. Check out a Face the Horizon original, “Cutthroat” on YouTube!

https://youtu.be/7JTubi_mOVk

-DJ Chy

 

 

 

 

 

 

p.s.

The journey each of us takes with music is an intensely personal one, my hope for this series is not to take away from your journey but to share my own. I will work hard to cultivate objectivity in the hope that it lends creditability to my opinion. But it’s just an opinion.

 

Why Are We So Mean To Drummers?


Why are we so mean to drummers?
Feat. A random assortment of hilariously mean jokes about drummers.

Drummers get a bad rap, probably because they are so difficult to understand. I mean, how can you relate to a person who can do more than one thing at a time? You can’t, unless you also have that talent, in which case we are not going to be friends.

What does a drummer use for contraception? His personality!

Wooow. Okay, joking aside, drummers are actually pretty awesome and people should endeavor to appreciate them more. One of the oldest instruments known to man is an ancient drum which used the skin of an alligator as the membrane! Mad props to those who had to first kill a freaking dinosaur to make some sweet beats. Does it then stand to reason that drummers are classically minded people, who are better in touch with our ancestors? Yeah sure that sounds good.

Why does a drummer put drumstick on the dash of their car? So they can park in the handicap spot!

Digressing, so really, why are we so mean to drummers? My theory: If we interpret band members in terms of a cute coming-of-age story rife with social dissonance and high school drama, the lead guitarist is a jock and the drummer wears glasses and is not a well-adjusted human.  The stereotypical depiction of a Jock is a loud lout whom people tend to listen to for no good reason at all, and because of their allegedly small brains they are incapable of understanding the maladjusted supporting character type. Perhaps lead guitarists have given drummers a bad name for all these years because they are incapable of understanding the way a drummer thinks or operates.

Will the musicians please come to the stage? Oh, and the drummer too…

The drummer doesn’t misunderstand his bandmates poor attempts at beat-boxing their ideas, he/she just thinks they are freaking idiots who have no rhythm. Some study put on by some half-baked Harvard intellectual types found that a drummer’s internal clock doesn’t move linearly like a real clock, but in waves. A similar wave is found in brainwaves, sleeping heart rates, and the nerve firings in felines’ ears. So when a drummer slips up, they’re actually just matching the elemental beat of the entire universe. Also, to be fair, guitarist are pretty awesome too, a similar study revealed that a guitarist’s brain power is statistically more intuitive and matches the firing pattern of someone claiming to have psychic abilities.

Now, to fix the issue. What is the best way to go about—not only being nicer to drummers—but fixing the problem at its root? The answer is simple, start spreading some superstitious voodoo nonsense about a dire consequence to the back bone of your mother every time something mean and untrue is said about a drummer? Of course not, don’t be ridiculous…that isn’t the best solution I’ve got at all!

The solution is to be more tolerant and less awful, obviously.

But drummer jokes are fun.

Those may stay.

Just…don’t sound super serious when you say them.

Also consider doing something nice for a drummer afterwards, as a show of solidarity.

The Best Advice we are the Worst at Following…


advice-500x336

The best advice we are the worst at following, and why. This doesn’t need a huge preamble…

  • Think before you speak
  • Attachment leads to suffering so do the right thing, and be not attached to the result
  • Do what you love, not what makes you money
  • Forgive but don’t forget-we do either both or neither

Think before you speak: I tend to take it too seriously—to the point that there are sometimes rather long pauses in my speech, which annoys people. People have been hypocritically giving this advice since the inception of speech, maybe even since the dawn of communication (no doubt a derivative of the caveman adage ‘think before you grunt’). As far as advice goes, it holds water, absolutely—words once said cannot be retracted once said and first impressions cannot be rewound, so being choosy with words is paramount, yet we find ourselves vomiting out whatever comes to mind and thinking ourselves clever. Why? Here are my thoughts.

  1. We are so enamored with our own ‘wit’ and have such faith in it to carry us along during a back-and-forth that we mistakenly give it free reign. Those are dangerous grounds, rife with opportunities say something accidently offensive, something we don’t mean, or—at best—appear a little dumb.
  2. It literally burns more calories to spend brain time in your Prefrontal Cortex (the center for higher functioning thought/intention) so it is plausible that we humans—in search of the path of least resistance—allow thought to originate in our Medulla, which governs reflexes and involuntary motor movements. If this is the case, then we must work harder to resist the apathy and begin committing to each and every interaction or we are no better than our animal brains

Forgive but don’t forget: I would argue that we do either both or neither of these, as a rule. There will always be the grudge-holder who won’t let it go, but more common is those of us who intentionally pull the wool over our eyes. In order to forgive it is so much easier to forget as well…to constantly hold on to the kernel of resentment could make the task of forgiving impossible, so people tend to forgive and immediately forget as a way to solidify and justify that forgiveness. I can’t pass judgment on any form of forgiveness but I will caution that forgetting opens us up for repeating mistakes, and no one likes that.

Attachment leads to suffering, do the right thing and be not attached to the result: I believe this is a difficult one for the mentality of our culture, where our pride and honor is weaved intricately into everything we do. The advice is sound, we really should take the better road just because we know it is the right thing and avoid getting hung up on the results but that just isn’t reality. Our culture tends to be found on the side of the argument that believes the things we do are a reflection of our self, which inherently hinders our ability to detach ourselves from attachment, and thus, suffering.

Do what you love, not what makes you money: This one is personal to my heart, a self-convicted practical major and practically boring job, I am such a hypocrite. But because of this it won’t take too much digging to come to the reason why we ignore this pearl: because money makes the world go round. If you like what you do, you will not work a day in your life, but if you make money at what you do you won’t sweat bullets every time rent is due. No brainier. But still, it would be ideal to love what you do.

How to Adult-The Interview


imagesWhat are we here for? Every time I am up until midnight writing some paper I find trivial and tiresome, I try and remind myself about the point of all this strife and struggle. We are here…to leave. I don’t know about you but I tend to get stuck in the worries of today and tomorrow and forget to freak out about the unknowns of next week, or the next step. Mind you, I am not advocating ‘freaking out’ as a best practice, but truth be told, there is a certain amount of comfort that comes from analysis coupled with preparation and what better way to prompt that very unlikely foresight then a good freak out over life’s what-ifs. So if we go to college with the eventual goal of getting the heck out, why don’t we talk a little about what happens next—since inevitably we all have to let the safety blanket of school go no matter how we go about doing so. Eventually, the majority of us are going to have to reach deep down into ourselves to try and salvage that freshman ‘eagerness’ (buried under layers of exhaustion and exasperation) to plaster it on our faces for our career interviews.

Whether it’s time to start freaking out or not, I’m going to give a crash course in the do’s and don’ts of that interview, you know, the one that matters so much you study for it.

  1. For the love of all that is holy, leave your smart phone in the car. Don’t even bring it into the office with you. In life, we all have stigmas to rise above and we have many as millennials. I implore all of my fellow twenty-somethings to be aware and surprise the world with our fantastic attention spans.
  2. Research! Know the company, its mission, and at the very least the job description of the position you are applying for. The benefits here are twofold: quote the mission statement in your interview and it says ‘look at me, I give a crap’ and when you really do your homework you should discover the most important thing…is this company a good fit for you.
  3. Be brave. TIME magazine tells us applicants that have an entrepreneurial background are going to win out against those with just a degree and an internship or two. It makes total sense when you think about how companies are constantly on the struggle-bus to innovate and be the most freaking awesome thing since the hover board. They are going to want self-starters and risk takers.
  4. Dig a little into your past and dust off some of those ice breakers and (appropriate) anecdotes about yourself—especially the ones that have a clear lesson or moral because if you are really good it’s interview gold to bring those stories full circle and apply them to the role you are seeking. It is totally normal to be nervous, and you will be put on the spot so preparing a few of these gives a person a go-to.

Gosh all of that sounds like hard work. Maybe I’ll just become a professor so I never have to leave school! Psyche! They have terrible panel style interviews and directors that sit in on lectures….yikes. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but seriously…the above advice aside, make sure your goals, personality, and moral compass are a good fit for whatever employer it may be. You’ll be happier.

I think next week we’ll talk about resume do’s and don’ts.

-DJChy

How to Adult-Improving a Credit Score


imagesSalutations, wonderful readers of the KSSU Blog. This is the second installment of our ‘How to Adult’ Series. In the last article, we explored how to build up a credit score if you didn’t have one. This time we are going to dive into how to improve a score. Improving a credit score is not always about having defaulted on loans back when you were 18 and now having to crawl out of a hole…there are many reasons to improve the magic number from purchasing your first home to getting that dream job. We talked before about how your credit score is—almost regrettably—extremely important part of becoming an adult because it is being used with increasing frequency in all aspects of adult life. If you want cable and internet…AT&T is going to check your score, renting a house…only if you have good credit, how about if you want power for the super swag pad you rented…SMUD is going to pull a credit report. Now for the kicker: that super kush job you spent 5 long years in college preparing for…yes, they are going to ask for permission to pull a credit report on you. You see, that annoyingly ubiquitous number is going to follow you into every facet of life whether you like it or not so improving that number is like improving yourself (as depressing as that is to say, it doesn’t make it any less real). But since you are reading this you are in LUCK! Let’s dive into some easy ways to improve your score no matter the circumstances you find yourself in.

  1. Be aware of your credit card balances: There are different categories of debt on your report, one of them being ‘revolving’ which means credit that is always available to you like a credit card. In other words when you use revolving debt you owe that amount back, but when you pay that debt you now have that credit available there for you to use again. A common factor holding down a credit score is improper use of that revolving line of credit, in fact there are recommended thresholds to this type of debt that really hurt you if you exceed them. Bankrate.com tells us that the optimum percentage of use is 30% meaning if you only have one credit card with a $1000 limit then you can only carry a $300 balance on it consistently without negatively effecting your score. I work for a small credit union and have this conversation with people all day, if you max out your credit and then only make the minimum payment it’s going to hurt you in the long run. I usually have two recommendations when I have this conversation to improve the amount of credit you are using, one being better than the other.
    1. The better choice: budget a three month plan to pay off existing debt while committing to not using the credit card. That is the ideal option obviously but if you are a starving college student like I am and cannot stretch the budget any further there is a second option
    2. A person can (again this is not the ideal solution) apply for new credit and not use it. How this works: you have a credit card for $1000 and you have totally maxed it out, this is 100% usage—70% over the desired 30%–but if you got another credit card for $1000 and never used it, you now have a total amount of $2000 available to you which reduces the ratio of use from being 100% to 50% since you have doubled the total credit allowed to you that reduces that ratio of how much you have used
  2. Do not close old accounts, even if you don’t use them anymore. Remember that Victoria Secret or Best Buy card you got when you first turned 18 and you were SO excited but now you never use the thing? That is a good thing, do not—I repeat do not close that line of credit. The reason for this is twofold:
    1. When analyzing your score the credit bureau is likely to look at how long—the tenure—of your credit. If you have had that one credit card for five years that means the bureau has five years’ worth of credit to rate. In this case more is so much better than less because it shows you can be responsible over time. If you close those account it limits the amount of history available to rate.
    2. That old credit card you are not using is improving that use ratio we talked about earlier. If you close it then we move in the opposite direction on that ratio e.g. you have $2000 total in credit card limits and you are only using $500 of that credit (25% of available credit is being used) but then you close that old credit card with a $1000 limit…you are going backwards with a new total limit of $1000 and that $500 balance becomes 50% usage.

That is as far as we’ll go today, it is a lot to take in. There are so many more ways to explore improving your score but I do believe these are the two most applicable to college students. I hope you found this more helpful than confusing! Check out our next installment: ‘How to Adult-Improving interview skills’.

-Djchy

How to Adult: Establishing a Credit Score


imagesWelcome to the first installment in my ‘How to Adult’ series. Today, we are going to focus on establishing a credit score. We live in post-recession times, and a major contributor to that recession was poor risk management by major financial institutions. Basically, that means banks and other lenders were handing out loans, even to people who couldn’t afford them. Consequently, when everything went to hell, the federal government (who can’t keep their nose out of anything) increased regulations which has made it harder to get a loan. This has greatly impacted those of us who want to get started building credit, which is something the real adults have been nagging us about forever. Now that the regulations are more stringent, lenders are not handing out credit cards to the inexperienced anymore, so we will explore ways to get credit, even when you have none.
First, let’s explore what a credit score is. There are three major bureaus (which are actually publicly traded companies…yea…put that in your pipe and smoke it) creating elaborate algorithms in order to determine if a person is lendable. Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian each have their own patented equations intent on turning a person’s nature into a number, and often times there are many equations that weigh factors differently in order to meet specific needs of a lender. Just in case having countless financial institutions, and three different credit bureaus isn’t convoluted enough, now we have to come to terms with having something like…30 different scores!? But fear not; we are going to work through this together.
First to build credit: My three recommendations to get you started.

  1. Get a low limit student credit card from a larger institution that won’t be overly concerned about taking a potential loss. From the perspective of the financial institution you choose, you having no score means they have no way to tell if you are a person who ‘makes good’ on your obligations. In other words, lending to you comes with higher risk. This is why I recommend a larger institution who may have a higher tolerance for risk.
  2. If you are like me, and absolutely loath big banks, but still need to get started building credit, fear not, because this will be the option for you. Find a smaller financial institution, like your local credit union, and ask for a secured credit card. The financial institution will ask you to put down on deposit all or some of the dollar amount limit on your credit card, meaning you put $300 into an account and allow the institution to hold that money. In return, they give you a credit card with a $300 limit. The money you put down is still yours, it is merely held just in case you choose to use the credit card irresponsibly. This means less risk for the smaller financial institutions which increases the likelihood of lending to an individual without a credit score. An excellent option to start building a credit score for those of us without a co-signer.
  3. Although this is by no means the last option to start building credit, it will be the last explored in this post, and the most simple: have a co-signer or qualified co-applicant. A family member who is willing to take responsibility for a person without a credit score mitigates risk for the financial institution, making it more appealing to lend to you. This is an excellent option for a person wanting a higher limit credit card, but does not necessarily have the money to put a large amount down.

Join us here on the KSSU Blog for the next instalment ‘How to Adult: Improving a Credit Score’ where we will take a deeper look into what the magic number means, how the bureaus come up with the numbers, and what to do if you need to turn that score around.

-DJCHY

Introduction-How to Adult Series


imagesWe live in the age of instant gratification, short attention spans, and even shorter sighted goals. The myriad of distractions available have such a hold on our generation—mind you, I am no exception— they can and often do usurp from our minds all things uninteresting and dull. What motivation do we have to spend any amount of thought on the practical when the time could be passed scrolling through social media while watching Netflix and simultaneously Facetiming our S.O.? It is human nature to take the path of least resistance, and we see this played out most dramatically in the lives of us young adults.  The problem is a snow-balling self-fulfilling prophecy; as college students we are aware it is happening, we understand that each moment willingly spend on the readily available distractions does nothing to improve the quality of self, yet we do not resist. That new cat video on YouTube is still more interesting after 30 views than some article about the election, or the pile of homework that never seems to go away, right? Arguably the most depressing part of that idea is not that we are such terrible people who don’t find academics and learning interesting, it is that no one creating curriculum tries very hard to make it interesting—or even relevant half the time.
As a collective, college students are stuck on a cycle of ‘memorize, regurgitate, forget’ and are unwittingly perpetuating the assignment of tasks that can be depressingly menial, all in order to beget knowledge that often times is never interesting enough to file past short-term memory. It is my hope though, that knowledge and learning that has a practical application to life will have ability to hold our interest in a way that a teacher telling us something is relevant does not.
All that being said, I am going to endeavor to do something here that should have begun in grade school. In a series of Blogs I will attempt to share important life skills—knowledge that will actually benefit the life of a college student, or anyone—in a brief and hopefully interesting way. It is my hope that these short, beneficial lessons on ‘How to Adult’ will be able to contend with those ubiquitous distractions and impact in a meaningful way.
Join me here on the KSSU Blog for our first instalment next week: ‘How to Adult: Establishing a Credit Score’ which will be a precursor to our second article ‘How to Adult: Improving a Credit Score’.