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Benjamin M S/W a.k.a. <BalsaaTheMagicalGuruGuy>

[ website | The Purple Shrine ]
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[Links:| My new website (For Greater Consciousness songs, writings...) For Greater Consciousness on Myspace (a few songs, see main site for more) ]

zole.org: I Punch Things [Feb. 6th, 2007|11:36 pm]
Benjamin M S/W a.k.a. <BalsaaTheMagicalGuruGuy>
As someone who used to love designing video games, as well as someone who still enjoys thinking about video game designs and how they could be use to raise consciousness and awareness, I personally thought this fake one had a great concept.


I recommend this even if your name isn't John N., haha. I'd really like to see more video games that touch on more complicated worldviews than "Here, let's fight all of the enemies until the world is SAVED!" I mean, that's kind of the point of the game, but in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way that makes people think.

Sort of.

Or maybe I'm just trying to justify why I like this, when the real reason is that it's so very silly. :)
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three half-diminished chords [Feb. 3rd, 2007|01:14 am]
Benjamin M S/W a.k.a. <BalsaaTheMagicalGuruGuy>
Today I harmonized part of a song with three consequtive half-diminished chords. :D

That amused me when I noticed, but in general, today was a good day for songwriting in the key of F Major (and using borrowed chords that are NOT in F Major).

I'm (co-?)writing a song which promotes recycling while not being preachy. This means using humor and storytelling. Going at a point like this too directly, and you end up telling people how to live their lives. Get people to think, and maybe they come over to your side.

Of course, this also depends somewhat on people listening to lyrics!

There WILL be a YouTube video made out of this. People who want to be involved in the project (e.g. Lucy??), let me know. It will be a silly video.

Today was not a good idea for doing work, but it was a good idea for spontaneous snowball fights. There was much angst as the actors in Fate's Snowy Drama changed sides again and again, welcoming each other back each time, or going up onto the Co-op balcony to bomb the ground forces (cheap perhaps, but fun, and you are vulnerable as you go up and down the stairs).

People are concerned with the future of the Co-op, which is fair. But this is the Co-op's adolescence, which doesn't have to be a rough time but it's understandable if it is. One of our challenges is getting people from upstairs and downstairs to bond more, and (as I see it) to support each other.

Hrm, there was something else I was going to say. Ah well! My songwriting is getting more jazz-influenced. For Greater Consciousness is doing well, and is playing on February 9th at Kiva Han, 7-10pm (with other bands, we'll be 2nd or 3rd probably).
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showering [Jan. 21st, 2007|01:33 am]
Benjamin M S/W a.k.a. <BalsaaTheMagicalGuruGuy>
Hrm, so it has come (been brought) to my attention that, sometimes, I really smell quite pungent.

In order to continue my minimalist regimen of showering (which fluxuates between, approximately, twice a week and once every two weeks) - and thereby justify inconvenience other people with my natural body odor, which I may not consider unpleasant but mostly don't notice - I would have to justify it as a personal statement. A statement that: hey, I feel strongly that people shouldn't distance themselves from the way they smell naturally.

Or, I could just not care that it affects people, but that doesn't sound very pleasant of me. And there's also the more selfish and practical question of whether it affects my romantic life (and lack thereof) or just my social life (which seems not as big of an issue, because while I suppose it could be more wonderful in some way, I don't know how it would be - or what I would do to make it that way, other than hanging out with people more and interneting less).

Anyway, I'm not sure if that philosophical statement (while I do believe it) justifies that inconveniencing of others.

I guess the Libertarians would say I should shower, for after all, don't my rights end at the end of other people's noses? (I don't know if that's an actual Libertarian saying or not.)

Hrm. I don't know.
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In honor of MLK Day! (borrowed from an NSP email) [Jan. 15th, 2007|05:08 pm]
Benjamin M S/W a.k.a. <BalsaaTheMagicalGuruGuy>
[Tags|, ]

And in honor of the day, some words from a Network of Spiritual Progressives email (the woman who sends these emails for Pittsburgh is named Wanda):

"We honor the words of Dr. King who said that "the ultimate witness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it... Returning violence for violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars ... The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.""


"Stillness is what creates Love
Movement is what creates Life,
To be still
Yet moving ~
That is Everything."

Which seemed to be her email signature. I love positive, thoughtful email signatures!
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FGC shows / Internet-based joy [Jan. 15th, 2007|02:14 pm]
Benjamin M S/W a.k.a. <BalsaaTheMagicalGuruGuy>
I am ever-so-pleased to announce that For Greater Consciousness has three shows coming up in the next month-and-a-half.

- Fri Jan 26 @ Slippery Rock University, at an art department "coffeehouse" event... still waiting for details
- Fri Feb 9 @ Kiva Han (on S. Craig St. in Oakland)... still figuring out who will play with us! Talk to me if you want it to be YOU!
- Wed Feb 28 @ Garfield Artworks, 8 pm, Endless Mike & the Beagle Club, Little Brazil, For Greater Consciousness. $6. All ages!

Also, two wonderful things on the Internet:

- Adventure Time, which is a wonderful Nickolodeon short that John N. posted. Thanks, John! You brightened my day!
- Ben Folds is secretly a transpirate? in the music video/skits to Learn To Live With What You Are (accessible from that page). And if I'm not mistaken, he used the bridge idea that I came up with a while back... you know, where during the bridge of the song, you show an actual bridge. I was always thinking that it should be the band standing on a covered bridge, and I may go ahead and use it at some point, since I came up with it independently, years ago (maybe back when I was in metal band Special Guest, the long-extinct local one that is). But that's WONDERFUL. It's like a happy video about my dad (who's transgendered), starring Ben Folds.
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the show / fake (we hope) pickup lines, courtesy of Facebook [Dec. 18th, 2006|08:48 pm]
Benjamin M S/W a.k.a. <BalsaaTheMagicalGuruGuy>
Thanks to everyone who came to the show! It was really pretty exciting, I thought it went well. Haha, the tape of it is of dubious quality, I'm afraid, but we'll copy it next semester into digital form and hopefully Will can fiddle with it and make it sound slightly better. If not, ah well - some of the tracks sound pretty good anyway.

And, as it ended up, WE ended up taking the headlining spot. Bill Baird didn't want to play last, so, since we had the largest lineup (five people), we took the big spot usually reserved for the headliner.

We drew more people than we had in the band, which I was pleased about, haha. And there were between 20-30 people there watching us play, which is neat.

AND we have two more shows scheduled, for the third and fourth Fridays in January. January 19th at Kiva Han, January 26th at Slippery Rock University.


Yes, I am posting on LJ about Facebook groups, but bear with me.

I love the really silly unnecessarily technical pickup lines. I admit I am a proud (albeit not card-carrying) member of the Facebook group, "I'm a fermata - hold me."

And, from a thread of chemistry pickup lines:

"Is this Hess's Law, or are we heating up?"

"You're so attractive, you could strip the electrons from a fluorine atom!"

"You must be made of Thermite cuz you're taking my Oxygen."

"Baby, I want you to hydrolyze my GTP so I can put my G-Protein in your Adenylyl cyclase till we amplify cAMP."

SOOO wonderfully unnecessary.

Oh, there was some other really silly thing I was chuckling at recently, but I forget what it was.
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FGC show Saturday @ Garfield Artworks, one more time [Dec. 15th, 2006|02:07 am]
Benjamin M S/W a.k.a. <BalsaaTheMagicalGuruGuy>
Hey everyone!

Once more, my band/musical group/orchestra? For Greater Consciousness is playing at Garfield Artworks on Saturday (Dec.16th). The show starts at 8pm, and while they often start late at G.A. you should come on time anyway, 'cause we're one of the openers. Only six shiny dollars! (Just so long as they're shiny.)

Garfield Artworks is located at 4931 Penn Avenue, in Bloomfield, Pittsburgh, PA. I hope that you will locate yourself at Garfield Artworks for the evening! That is, if you think you will enjoy it, etc. etc..

I don't know if our rock will extend out to reach the suburbs, so you should come into town to witness it. This, however, is more a factor of the volume than of the rockingness of the music, which I assure you is EXTREMELY ROCKING.

For Greater Consciousness is an ear-conscious band, which supports turning the volume down!

...unless we're playing Bar Nun, in which case, well, it's extremely silly and rather loud. And hard on my throat, it turns out! Really hard. After this, I'm not playing it again for a while. It's too demanding.

THIS IS WHAT I DO FOR YOU! Anyway, come if you think you'll enjoy it, and have a good time regardless. And if you're sick, feel better. In fact, GET better, please!

Our setlist:
Gazebo - oh, daydreams of love!
Bottle of Escapism - a drinking song critiquing certain social uses of alcohol (of COURSE)
Sturtz is Waiting - Paul Sturtz believes in salvation by faith not by works but never learned that faith without works is dead
Sturtz's Connection - ...but finally finds meaning in life by empathizing with others
Geography Pt.s 1 and 2 - Leaving home, or friends, or wherever is sad, and guess what makes it sad? GEOGRAPHY. I believe the role of geography in all of this was first observed by Lucy and Lorelei...?
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Theories? [Dec. 14th, 2006|12:26 am]
Benjamin M S/W a.k.a. <BalsaaTheMagicalGuruGuy>
It is my theory that *part* of the reason why really cryptic shows like Lost and Neon Genesis Evangelion (is that the correct way to cite video? I forget) are so popular is that they make use of our underutilized capacities for wonder.

Sylvia Louise Engdahl's books "Enchantress From The Stars" and "The Far Side of Evil" contain a good bit of social criticism towards modern society, although (in the context of the stories, anyway) viewing them as things to be worked through rather than condemned. One of these bits is the idea that a sense that everything has been discovered and explained is a characteristic of societies at our level of development - that there isn't anything left to wonder about. We don't look upon the world with wonder, we study it.

In her books, more grown-up societies rediscover this sense of wonder, perhaps as a result of learning how wild the world really is, how many questions there are left to answer (and propagating this sense throughout all of society).

It's kind of a sense of know-it-allhood. We don't bother paying attention to the tree because we've already classified and written it off as a Tree, Deciduous, Pinemaplebirchstockingwood. We think there's nothing left undiscovered about it. Not that people only relate to the world in this way, but often people miss the richness of experience because they're too busy - as Alexander Technique would have it, endgaining, focusing on what's coming next rather than living in the moment. And I suppose it might also have to do with our media, too - digital media such as television and the internet lack such richness of experience. They contain lots of information, but sensorily it's not the same. They don't invite us to use all of our senses, or even use sight and hearing to their fullest extent, I think. And our society - or, I don't know, maybe it's just me - is saturated in media. I mean, what do advertisers do to get something out there? They saturate.

It's been said many times before, I believe, but I think silence and full-body listening are threatened by this culture. That's one reason why I don't view pop culture as my native soil. It can't compete with silence, with experience. Entertainment and information are different, and not that there isn't meaning in that too, but sometimes it gets lost.

Strict entertainment, or perhaps even closer to home for me, absurdism are good in limited quantities. But I believe I repeat myself by saying that I don't think they're enough. They work better as media (or mediums, if you don't know Latin^^) for finding meaning. Silly songs that have an important message, for instance - that's among my goals for songwriting (although I also like sincerity a bunch, but silliness fits into the bigger picture as well).

But back to my theory, it also applies to conspiracy theories, although they seem to also be tempting because of their ability to shift the blame for large quantities of wrongdoing onto a few unseen individuals (or many, depending on how sweeping a conspiracy it is). And they're kinda cool.

If you're among the people who's thinking of going to see Endless Mike and the Beagle Club (http://www.myspace.com/beagleclub) instead of us (For Greater Consciousness) on Saturday, I'd say that's a decent plan but they are playing at other places around Pennsylvania (not necessarily nearby, mind you) on their tour. This is the only time we're playing in the immediate future, as far as I know.

They sound good however and from what I hear you might like to check them out (haha, preferably not on that night, but *shrug* I guess I can't expect and perhaps don't really want people just coming to our show because they're friends or acquaintances of mine).

If you are going to see them when I'm not playing, you should let me know about it.
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salutations and hello [Dec. 12th, 2006|02:04 pm]
Benjamin M S/W a.k.a. <BalsaaTheMagicalGuruGuy>
Have I mentioned how you should all come to the fab show on Saturday (December 16th), 8pm, at Garfield Artworks? ($6.) Well, honestly, it's not that you should, it's that I would enjoy seeing you there, if you would be having a good time. So, if you think you would, come!

We're opening for Bill Baird, my group has five members (but Christopher is otherwise engaged! He's playing percussion for Washington Community Arts Choir), and EVERYONE WHO WANTS TO IS HEADLINING. Haha, well, to be more precise, Bill Baird invited us to play with him, and I assume with the other bands as well. Except I think the two other opening bands are singer-songwriters.

PLEASE do try to make it on time, we're possibly going first or second, I don't know. Haha, it'll be funny if the epicest band goes first, that's not usually how it happens, but yeah. W00t!


Welcome to the Co-op, Catie S.! I'm glad it worked out with you.

It's a little weird for me... you're going to be the first person here that I was good friends with before you became a Co-oper. Exciting times all around.

My goal for absurdism is to use it as a force for good, not just short-attention-span entertainment and instant gratification. I appreciate it, so I might as well try to use it, right? I don't know how much absurdism and other silly forms of humor would change the message they're paired with... that is a concern.

Having recently watched some Robot Chicken and Monty Python via YouTube, it is important to me to respect my own characters. Even in absurd, silly situations and cartoonish universes, I don't like seeing people die or get actually hurt. It changes the nature of things to something darker.

Good Alexander Technique lesson today. Maria told me several silly stories. I really want her to write some of these into stories or nonfiction accounts, I think they'd be excellent.
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(no subject) [Dec. 12th, 2006|02:31 am]
Benjamin M S/W a.k.a. <BalsaaTheMagicalGuruGuy>
Think of a body part. I noticed my teeth, and feeling in a spiritual high, I wanted to dedicate them to the highest thing possible, to something wonderful. So I thought, I'll think of my teeth and how they can possibly fit into divine purpose. Just consider that.

It did me a little good, I think. Try it, I think it's a neat exercise.

The atheist translation would be something like, envision what the optimal, highest purpose of this or that body part?

This site is beautiful: http://ourhomeplanet.org/index.htm I feel a connection to it, I don't know. A lot of it echos things I've heard and agree with, or which seem true to me, or which I've been raised with. I don't know. I guess a lot of these concepts are out there, and that doesn't necessarily mean anything. It's not necessarily true. But some of it sounds really sincere to me... the stuff about helping others to reach their own potential. The stuff about earthly existence as a training ground of course rings true to me because that's how I conceive the world.

Hrm, I was going to change 'conceive' to 'conceptualize', but to 'conceive' the world means to plant a seed, doesn't it? That's another concept that I think is really important. Mind affects reality - I don't know what the connection is exactly, but there is one. I think that even by operating under a scientistic view of the world (mechanistic, divorced from wonder, science-uber-alles - not the same as atheist or agnostic) I would conclude that there was some connection, even if it was only the-power-of-positive-thinking stuff. But that's not to be sneezed at. The placebo effect has been shown to account for around 33% of the effects of medicine/healing/treatment, I believe?

Too bad I'm not more coherent. Time to go to bed.
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