Welcome to Darkside Daily

When I'm not writing about my experiences in this journey called 'life', I'm singing and uploading my own interpretations of modern music. Click on "Cover Songs" to hear them, or on the YouTube logo on the right to see my YouTube channel.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pardon Me, But Who Am I Again?

Have you seen the movie "Identity"? For those of you that haven't seen it yet, it's a really phenomenal movie that revolves around multiple personality disorder. Perhaps the story is a bit of a stretch to be taken seriously, but the underlying assumptions in the movie provide for some food for thought.

Not long ago I read an interesting and inspired short article about identity that got me thinking about my own. After a few minutes, I realised that it's rather amusing, depending on your sense of humour of course. Allow me to elaborate.

I am Sri Lankan.

I am half Indian.

I am a Christian.

I am a Tamil.

I have lived in Sri Lanka for more than 17 years and yet was considered an Indian for most of it.

I lived in India for almost 5 years and was considered a Sri Lankan through all of it.

Let me stop there, before I bore all (three) of my readers to death. As you can see, being born in Sri Lanka to mixed parents, english medium education and Indian food has somehow left me as a bit of an outsider in both home and India. I speak Sinhala (the local language) about as well as I belly dance; both induce either outbursts of laughter or feelings of nausea in anyone that has the misfortune of witnessing it. Yet being a Tamil, I should at least know that language well, but I don't even know a single word! So it was with some relief that I entered university in India; finally, I thought I could blend in with the crowd and be just one of the guys. Not so - apparently I was not just the only Sri Lankan in my batch, I was unofficially the first Sri Lankan in recent history to study at my university! Add to that the fact that I was also the youngest student in my batch of 800, and there was no real escape from the attention of the preying seniors, looking for someone to rag. Luckily though, ragging had ceased to be the terror that it used to be, and I had to endure little or no humilitation at all, save for a few bad jokes about "Shitty Lanka". Haha.

After the ragging period though, things didn't get much better. Now I was 'The Lankan', and was made to convert simple english phrases to Sinhalese at every other group lunch or dinner, like some kind of trained monkey with a trick - "Ooh! Do it again, do it again!!". Luckily for me, after a few years their interest in my language waned, and soon I finished college and returned home with nothing gained (save for a rather annoying India accent) and my 'Journey of Self-Realisation' a laughable failure.

In today's world, it's quite common to find people that are confused in their own identity and/or roots. Society is partly to blame, as there is so much pressure to conform to certain values and practices based on society's classification of us. It's quite prevalent in Sri Lanka, even if it is subtle - for example, the language in which your identity card is printed is dependant on whether you're a Sinhalese or a Tamil, thus making it quite easy for the authorities to make the distinction when physical appearances are deceiving. In certain government institutes and even some private ones, it is still normal to find the field labelled 'Race' in their various application forms. My uncle faithfully fills that line with the answer : 'Human'.

There are so many ways to define ourselves that we forget which one is the most important. There's nationality, race, skin colour, country of birth, religion, caste, political beliefs - the list is endless. If I applied that to myself, I could come up with so many different 'classifications' to fit into, most of which would be terribly inaccurate.

To quote Bruce Wayne from "Batman Begins" - "It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me". Interesting point of view, but is it really true?

Is it?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Speaking Someone Else's Mind

I'm all in favour of freedom of expression.

Hence the blog. Duh.

In today's day and age, we have grown accustomed to the whole we-have-the-right-to-say-whatever-we-want rantings of the general public. Hence we have protest marches, peace marches, gay rights marches and any other kind of march that you care to name. But for those who are a little anti-social, agoraphobic or just too lazy to march anywhere save to the kitchen for some beer, there are less tiresome ways of expressing yourself.

Let's start off with the "t-shirt message" - you know what I mean, those t-shirts that have something witty, funny or 'cool' written across them. Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against them; in fact, I love those kind of shirts and look for them whenever I can. My current favourite is my And1 t-shirt that has a picture of a guy dunking a basketball on the back and a message saying "You can't hold me; that's your girls job!". How true.

Which brings me to my point. I am an avid fan of basketball, and I've been playing it since I was 12. It is one of the few things in my life which I am extremely passionate about, to the level of obsession! So I feel I am somewhat justified in wearing a t-shirt that expresses my mad skills on the court (yes, MAD skills! Ladies, again, please, one at a time!). But when I walk down the street and see some seedy looking guy with a beer belly and the athletic ability of an arthritic camel, wearing a ridiculously expensive basketball t-shirt with some good ol' fashioned trash talk on it, my blood starts to boil. Maybe I'm being judgemental, you say, and a tad unfair; maybe he's a fan of the game too. You must remember that I live in Sri Lanka; basketball is about as popular a sport as ice hockey. So it's safe to assume that Mr.Wanna B. Baller is just a dumbass in badass clothing.

However, it isn't just trash talk and witty clever messages that capture the attention of these frauds; there are also the pointless and somewhat bizarre slogans too. Just last week I saw not one, not two, but three girls wearing the exact same top with the exact same nonsense written across it: "Dancer girl fun and cool". What does that even mean?!

Of course, there are other subtle ways that people choose to express themselves. Most of the time people opt for the implied message expressed by their choice of attire, rather than the literal one as mentioned above. In this case too we have the same posers, and they are just as easy to spot. For example, the backward baseball hat, bling bling, baggy pants, XXL football jersey and sneakers is the standard dress code among most of the hip hop loving youth of the country. Again, I have no issues with that - except, perhaps, when the baseball hat says "Titanic", the 'bling-bling' is the sort used to tie up stray animals, the XXL football jersey is his dad's t-shirt, the sneakers are rubber slippers and the baggy pants smell like something that even God would have thought was crossing the line when He was raining down plagues on the Egyptians. Then there are the 'rock stars' - equally easy to spot. They all have the black t-shirt with "Slayer" or some other pointless thrash band on it, some form of narcotic in their hand, a body-mass index equivalent to a toddler and the most disgusting eruption of frizzed out hair on their head. Whenever I see the hair especially, I feel like quoting a line from "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and saying "You could fall in love with an orangutan in there".

Last but not least, we have tattoos. At the risk of sounding annoyingly repetitive, again I must state that I have nothing against tattoos either. I've often been tempted to get one myself, but the fear of being disowned by the family has been a more than adequate deterrent. But surely there is a line one should draw before getting inked. Dragons and weird tribal lines are all cool if you're some kind of grandmaster ninja warlord assassin (I had no idea which order to type that out in!) but showing up to work with a forked tongue sticking out from under your sleeve is just a tad shortsighted. The ladies are no better; unfortunately only a very few women can pull off a tattoo and look sexy. I know a girl with a tattoo of a flower on the top of her foot, and it sort of freaks me out; the colours (yellow and green) when set against her skin make it look like she has some kind of rash.

Like I said in the beginning of this post - I have nothing against freedom of expression. But shouldn't we be expressing our own values and messages instead of stealing an idea out of 50cent's wardrobe? Do we need to pretend we're street ball players when we go shopping, even if we're as tall as we are wide? What's wrong in settling for a nice big "Fosters" t-shirt - an honest and appropriate choice, in my opinion. Besides, the colour blue is, err, 'slimming'. Ladies, don't settle for the 'tramp stamp' without actually thinking about it first.

And for the love of god, all you "Dancer Girls", the next time you plan on buying something at the pavement bazaar's, well, just don't!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Perfect Girlriend

After once again being bombarded by the ridiculous amount of boo-hooing about girlfriend issues, Darkside Daily went on a hunt to find the perfect girlfriend so that all the guys could work out who they should look for and all the girls could work out what they were doing wrong.

Well, we found her.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Gaming To Work - Working To Game

I still remember the day my dad brought our first computer home. Just like any expensive purchase of his, he thought it prudent not to inform the rest of the family about it until it was literally sitting on our doorstep. Legend has it that our first car simply turned up in the driveway in similar fashion, with my dad at the wheel and his incredulous and dumbstruck (and later livid) wife at the front door. I was six or seven years old when the stack of boxes that held our first computer were being carried into the house. It was probably an IBM 386; after a bit of research I find it had a processor speed of 40MHz, 116MB HDD and 8192kB of RAM! The only box I could carry was a small one with 'mouse' written on it, which I was told was a mechanical toy for our cat. I'm still hazy about some of the facts, but eventually it was set up and running in my dad's office at home.

I remember my initial confusion at the purchase of this machine. What could it do? Why did dad need it? However, all those questions disappeared in a puff of DOS based graphics as soon as I was introduced to the games available on it.

Sixteen long and painful years have passed since, yet despite vast amount of change in almost every aspect of my life, I still love gaming. Every year finds me desperately attempting to keep up with the stunning leaps in PC technology; every year I end up failing - miserably. Trying to keep up with the changing times is quite laudable in itself, but when the sole reason for my endeavours is the pursuit of happiness through the latest PC games, it is a bit harder to own up to. What's more, confessing that you love gaming is a little harder when you're in your 20's as compared to when you're still in high school and have a non-existent social life; yet my mind refuses to see anything wrong in it. I suppose my still non-existent social life may have something to do with that.

However, when compared with the rest of the world, my love for computer games is about as noteworthy as a postbox to the mailman. Somewhere between PacMan and World of Warcraft, gaming suddenly became an overnight celebrity so to speak. Online gameplay probably played a major role in this, and then the battle of the gaming consoles added fuel to the fire. I remember the days of the Nintendo 64, and the level of gameplay and visual brilliance it brought at the time; in just under a decade however, the N64 has evolved into the awe-inspiring Nintendo Wii. With so much to choose from, potential gamers literally drove themselves mad diving into the variety of games on offer for different platforms.

I was never a console gamer, and so this led me to pursue PC games with vigour. However, along came university in India, and my gaming was restricted to the 3 weeks I would get at home during the vacations. So now that I finally find myself with some time on my hands, I'm amazed at the savage intensity that some people have towards gaming. Just the other day I read an article about a boy who dropped out of school to pursue a 'career' in Guitar Hero gaming! Hello? Since when did gaming become a career choice? I felt like I had woken up in another dimension, one where Madonna was a legitimate role model and Miley Cyrus was the anti-christ.

But what really got to me was the Championship Gaming Series programme that airs on TV. What was once considered a past-time for teens and kids has now spawned into an international tournament, complete with media coverage, tv shows, national qualifications, general managers and the most bizarre thing of all - money! Yes these elite 'athletes' (I kid you not, apparently if you sit on a chair and rapidly move your index finger you are deemed qualified to be called an athlete!) not only have to go through 'intense physical and mental preparation' but are also required to 'display remarkable skill, reflexes, precision and commitment to compete and win on a level unmatched by other gamers'. Are you kidding me?! The most annoying thing about the show though is the general managers for the teams; watching them jump up and down in their suits and ties as they spur their team's on is just ludicrous at best! General manager of a team of teenage computer addicts without a life?! Yes, put THAT on my resume, thank you very much!

For the first time in a long time, I'm actually at a loss to express my complete and utter disgust at this so-called 'sport'! Yes, it's called sport now! What's next for gaming I wonder.

The Olympics, anyone?

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Art Of Writing An "About Me"

Despite all its flaws, Darkside Daily can at least say that it posts original material. However, we're going to make a small exception to the rule, and publish something I stumbled across that I thought was pretty darn neat!
When it comes to music, I have a large list of favourites, mainly because I listen to almost every genre of music (except dance and techno; though that isn't really music anyways!). One of my favourite bands is Incubus. Their music is funky, original, and has its own unique flavour that somehow appeals to me even though logically it shouldn't. Led by frontman Brandon Boyd and his 'stellar' vocals, they've got the whole package.

The following is a passage written in Brandon Boyd's Facebook Fan Page. It makes for a very long read, but trust me when I say it's written extremely well! Enjoy!

"My name is Brandon Boyd. I am a Los Angeles native, a Vegan sympathizer, an artist by day and come nightfall I sing in a band called Incubus. I am suspicious of religion, advertising and know-it-alls. My teeth will one day fall out from overconsumption of licorice. My closest friend on the Earth is a dog from France. I sleep diagonally until I have company, then I sleep lengthwise. I am straight, yet I adore sparkling mineral water. I have a bionic right leg as a result of a freak gardening accident. My right eye goes lazy after about 3am. If you feed me after midnight, I multiply. My name, when translated literally, means 'Broom-Hill' which I find horrifyingly exotic. I live in an old building that at one point in the 1900's was a working brothel. As a result, the ghosts of under paid and over worked prostitutes roam my hallways. So, there is a lingering smell of cheap perfume on the second story of my home after 3am, which might explain my occasional lazy eye. I am allergic to milk and as a result have never had an ice cream party. You may have just heard the sounds of very small violins playing behind that last comment, but don't feel bad for me; I have sorbet parties at every Equinox and spend about half a day thereafter happily cleaning the 'sticky' out of my fingernails. My right knee is named Chet and my left is Garrison. Everything I wear once belonged to someone else with the specific exception of socks and underpants. I am quite certain that in the above rant/ Myspace 'About Me' section there is a sizable window for you curious and or skeptical observers to peer through. I have always cringed at the thought of describing myself and my multiplying creative endeavors, but it seems as time wears on, that the personal 'Bio' is a necessary evil in the vast catacombs of the "I wish I didn't have to, buts..." of our strange culture. So with that veiled apology out of the way, I shall now recall (for those who desire to know more) a not so brief remembrance of my time in art thus far...

The first piece of art I can remember is actually now hanging in my kitchen. It is a self portrait my Mother did while she was in Art School. She was very pregnant with my older brother and thought it would be funny to paint herself as the Virgin Mary. So this painting, for all it's cracked and aging beauty, looks very pious and intimidating. It hung in the guest bedroom of my Grandfather's house that my brothers and I would bunk in when staying there. On more than three occasions, I woke in the middle of the night and saw the eyes of this painting alive and looking down at me! My Mother ( the Virgin Mary) in a very ominous voice would say, "Go back to sleep, Brandon!"

I started scribbling in very small pads with very small pencils as a child. I have since been scaling up exponentially. In Medium, content and size. As my mind grows, so do my sights on what is possible creatively. This has allowed me to reach into pen-ink, paint, pencil, photography, music, literature and lifestyle. All of which are as important as the next.

The kinds of art that have stood out to me have never really followed any particular pattern. I guess my eyes and my heart gravitate towards unusual, dark, absurd, sincere and beautiful works. I obsess over line work and flow.

I have no formal training; other than a few semesters at community college and some classes at the YMCA. I would very much like to return to school in the near future and absorb the myriad different techniques I have been missing out on! That being said, I was raised in a creative environment, and that does wonders for a young person's mind. I have always had a hard time in describing my creative style. I find the same dilemma when asked what type of music I play. But if I had to, I would say that I am doing my best to turn my mind inside out and see what it looks like framed. ;) Once you get past the gooey bits and the debris, there is the occasional sparkly gem that glows like the edges of Barbara Walters in one of her interviews.

My creative process is both complex and simple. The complexities arise when I try and understand what I am doing when I am doing it. It's like trying to describe the sensation of love; one is better suited just experiencing it for oneself. But it becomes simple when I let go into the process and don't question it so much. Kind of a surrender into right brian, as it were. But for clarity's sake, I have waves of creativity, followed by times of drought. In these times, I have learned that just reading, listening to music, and surfing a whole lot help to pass the time before the next creative pulse arises. It's been this way in my life for as long as I can remember.

I work predominately out of my kitchen. It looks like a kitchen, but it's actually...well, a kitchen. Things are cooked there, and things are consumed. But just as much paint is thrown into amorphous abstractions onto paper and canvas that reveal my inner perv and my longing for contact with extraterrestrial intelligences (not to be confused with one another) as there is corn chowder stirred and swallowed!

I like to allow any and all influence into my world. Cultural or geographic. Political, or emotional. As far as I am concerned, anything is game. I find that large parts of my work are observational in the sense that I am merely living as I chose and the art, in whatever form it takes, is the unconscious filter of my experience.

I think that to live a life of expressivity is paramount. To me it is the embodiment of freedom. I don't have a particularly specific statement that I am trying to convey; like the Romantic's Manifesto, or something akin. I am more interested in existing in a continual state of creativity. To be able to see the art in every occurrence. To find beauty in the mundane and in the otherwise trite and or trivial. My life, as it were, is not unlike one of my drawings; a continually evolving, bulbous, mass of thought, after-thought, absurdity, intention and enthusiasm. Scribbled happily in ink without pencil lines and signed at the bottom.

I am currently working on a new series of paintings on canvas in acrylic that I will have no idea how to talk about until they are hung and dry and my shrink is standing back from them with an inquisitive scowl.

I just did a quick proofread of this communication, and I am struck by how often I used the word, "I." To my count, it is repeated 63 times in this glorified Personals Ad. Cheese and Rice! You'd think I was a f****** rock star with these levels of self absorption. F*** it. I think that'll do for now. If anybody has anymore questions beyond art, music, haunted paintings, relevance, used clothes, literature, tiny pencils on tiny pads of paper, heartbreak, disillusionment, love, death, addiction, leather goods, lactose intolerance, the future, optimism, nihilism, idealism, plagiarism, environmentalism and the smell of turpentine, please don't Google my name or ask your "friend who knows about music". Call me at your Mom's house, I'll be there having a sorbet party on March 20th.

Your friend and lover,

Brandon Boyd"
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