Harry and the Quest for Everlasting Awesomeness

“…And Harry doesn’t mind if he doesn’t make the scene
He’s got a daytime job, he’s doing alright…”
Sultans of Swing’, Dire Straits

To give some backstory, Sultans of Swing is a song by Dire Straits. As far as my literary analysis goes, the song is about a small band and all of its members. It doesn’t paint the small band as anything particularly amazing or anything particularly sad, it is just a small band of people who get together and play music.

The lyric above was and probably is still one of my favorite music quotes around. It perfectly illustrates a man who hones a skill as a hobby; he plays an instrument and has no desire to make it big. Harry has a daytime job, maybe a family, maybe a dog, cat, who knows? What we do know though is that Harry is pretty alright at guitar and he has no intention of devoting his life to it.

It’s refreshing in literature and art to create a person who is so uninspiring. If it were a novel or play, Harry playing guitar would never show up, in fact super boring Harry would probably be at best a side character who is notable for being mundane. His guitar playing would never change his life, or the story, and so they would never put it up on stage. Playwrights don’t put things on stage without it actually having an effect on the story, as illustrated by Chekhov’s gun.

Yet in this song, in this band, there is a completely normal guy who understands his limits and understands that he has a stable job that he shouldn’t risk on some mediocre guitar playing.

Now here is my side of the story, this quote used to define me, in fact I would go as far to say it used to inspire me. The idea that I only need to worry about my daytime job and then I can be as mediocre at whatever else I want to be sounds very tempting.

I used to be like that, I used to be daunted by tasks and just strive for mediocrity. This quote drove me to shut down on trying things just because I was sure that I would fail and then where would I be?

I wouldn’t be the best. Who cares about the guy who gets the silver medal?

The fact is most people aren’t going to be astronauts, most people aren’t going to be billionaires, most people aren’t going to master an instrument or a sport. Do not let this discourage you.

Harry probably isn’t the best guitar player there is, and he came to that conclusion, and that’s fine. I bet you though he practices a couple of times a week and he tries to get better.

Life isn’t about being THE BEST it is about being the BEST YOU CAN BE.

I have seen people who have tons of raw talent and don’t apply themselves get greatly surpassed by those who have nothing and put their heart into it. Most people would be surprised to see the best they can be is much better than what they thought they could be.

Have goals, and shoot for the gold, there is no reason to settle for mediocrity. Also know your limits, there is no reason to beat yourself up for being second best, because that is still better than ~7 billion people (as of now).

There is no reason to worry about being the best there is, only the best you can possibly be. Harry realized that. He realized he probably can’t make it big, but it’s fine because he’s got a daytime job, he’s doing alright.

Racquetball and the Top 4 (NOW WITH PICTURE!!!!)

When I arrived at college I found out that we had racquetball courts that were free to use. I’ve never played racquetball in my life, the closest I ever got to it was tennis, but I had a deep desire to learn to play. It seemed like a fun game, basically wall-ball but way more intense, so my friend and I started playing. It is in fact a fun game, and I have a few fun stories that I can share today.

The first story starts when my friend and I started playing and ends about 6 months later. We barely did any research into racquetball when we started playing so it is safe to say we played by some wrong rules.

First, let me explain the rules.

You have a court that looks like this.

The basics is this:

  • Hit the ball from inside the solid box, making sure to hit the front wall and landing it back across the solid box.
  • You cannot hit three walls during your serve.
  • Once your opponent returns the ball, the only objective is to keep returning the ball by hitting the front wall before the ball hits the ground twice. (or once you hit the ball it has to hit the wall before the ground)

Essentially the only rule where you can’t hit three walls applies only to serves. Sadly for my friend and I, we applied it to everything. We turned a game that revolves around speed and power into a nightmare of refereeing. I would love to lie and say that we only did it a few times, but we did it for a solid few months until we played doubles against 2 people who knew what they were doing.

That was embarrassing, but luckily I have something triumphant to balance that out.

My school hosts an intramural competition, which is just a school wide competition, in every sport. This includes racquetball which amassed a solid 19 people. We all get tossed into a bracket and start fighting our way up. According to that bracket I am now the 4th best person in racquetball in my entire school (or at least the people who signed up for intramurals).

This is where the plot thickens, I got to 4th place without ever playing a single game!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please, don’t let my undeniable glory blind you.

The very first game I was supposed to play, my opponent didn’t show up, even after we scheduled a match, which was quite rude. This moved me up 1 spot on the bracket, placing me in the quarterfinals. Then the two people who were fighting it out to be my opponent in quarterfinals didn’t even schedule with each other, so they both were disqualified. This meant that without playing a single game I moved on to the semifinals and gained the rank of 4th best in the school.

Sadly I lost that game and 4th is where I will stay this semester.

That is all the stories I have for right now, but as I keep playing racquetball I might amass, and you can be guaranteed that I will share.

The Grind in Gaming, a Far Cry from Fun

The title is actually kind of a lie, much like me saying that I would post on Wednesday and then actually just post in the middle of the night on Friday night. I do in fact enjoy the grind in gaming.

First let me explain what the grind is.

“The Grind” is a term used for anything that involves exerting a large amount of time for. Used in the life, people usually say their work is “The Grind” or that their exercise routine is “The Grind” or that trying to get their typing speed by doing 10 races on typeracer.com is “The Grind.” (Please don’t judge me)

Most related to our topic today is adding the element of “The Grind” into video games.

This is pretty much a standard formula in video games nowadays, even though it does have its highs and lows. The implementation of “The Grind” is used to make the player feel a sense of accomplishment when they are done sinking hours of relaxation time into their video games.

Key examples of this would be:

Runescape: This game is essentially an idle game where you sit at your computer and tap on trees and rocks to gather resources to sell. Or maybe not even sell, maybe you just decided to gather resources to get better at gathering resources.

Minecraft: Speaking of gathering resources, this game is currently one of the most popular games in the world. The game is built around gathering resources and building or shaping the environment to anyway you want. Building cool structures is only half the game though, since if you play in survival mode you have to gather all the resources needed to build your magnificent structure.

Skyrim (or any of the Elder Scrolls games): One of the most popular open-world role-playing-game that has ever been released also isn’t excluded from “The Grind.” Want to swing your sword better? Want to build armor out of Dragon Bones? Want to be able to sneak up to a person looking directly at you and start looting the contents of their pockets? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you better get to grinding those skills.

“The Grind” can be a fantastic element to add to many games since it allows for the player to spend time playing the game and relaxing as intended, as well as add some level of achievement to the player. That said developers can easily go over board with “The Grind.”

One notable example of this is actually one of my favorite games. The game is called Far Cry 2.

This game has it all:
– Enemies that respawn constantly
– Small amounts of health
– A map that would take an hour to walk across
– A map that would take 15 minutes to drive across
– A map that has no fast travel (basically)
– Missions that send you entirely across the map
– Missions that are all basically the same

This game takes dozens of repetitive hours to beat and for that reason alone I never have beaten it. It is “The Grind” in the most perfect form. It forces the player to keep doing the same thing over and over again, for hours.

But Maxwell, why is it your favorite game then, if you haven’t beaten it? Well, I enjoy “The Grind” …









…Would be a half-lie. I do enjoy playing video games for the utility of de-stressing, so that is part of it, but this game actually had a pretty funny multiplayer that my best friend and I played hours on. But the point still holds, this game kind of went overboard, and if you aren’t willing to do the same thing over and over again for hours on end in the name of entertainment (which is most everyone) then this game is not for you.

That’s all I really have to say. Who knows, maybe one day I will beat it, if I do I’ll probably livestream it, that would be funny.

Supertramp and the Super Best Music

First off, I wanted to apologize to the non-existent people who read this blog, I said I would put a post up every Wednesday with my recommendation for something and I already failed that. Hopefully it won’t happen again, these sub-par recommendations are of the upmost importance.

So for my next recommendation it’s another band (I promise next week I won’t cop out and do another band).

The band this week is Supertramp, an English rock band who has a killer pianist. Many of their songs contain intricate rhythms and fast-paced piano playing and to say anymore would be overstepping into music taxonomy. All I can really do is show you some of their songs which have found their way into my heart.

First off the song that actually got me into Supertramp was Cannonball, this is the epitome of what I was just saying. It is faced-paced, energetic, and best of all, lasts a while in case you don’t want it to end (which I hope you don’t).

If you are a fan of the TV show The Office, then you might know the song Goodbye Toby, but what you might not know is that it is a parody of Supertramp’s Goodbye Stranger. The fact that Goodbye Stranger is about one night stands only makes the comedic impact of Goodbye Toby that much funnier.

Another song I would recommend giving a listen to is Lord is it Mine. This song is much slower paced then all the other songs I have listed but it has its merits elsewhere. The piano playing is meaningful, the vocals are on par, and the instrumentals kick in at just the right times to make a difference.

And finally my personal favorite… Drumroll please… Asylum. Although this isn’t one of their critically acclaimed songs, like Breakfast in America or The Logical Song, this has turned out to be one of my favorite songs in existence.

Asylum has:
1. Interesting Lyrics
2. Fantastic instrumentation
3. Slow parts complemented by fast parts
4. Rapid inflection changes
5. A live version that goes much faster

In fact it was actually the live version that I heard first and I grew to love. When I first heard the studio version I thought it was greatly inferior to the live version. Then it grew on me and now I have 2 spots on my favorite songs list filled by the exact same song.

Although this post was probably just an elaborate plug for Asylum (otherwise known as the best song in the universe), I definitely do recommend listening to the rest of their music, it’s a treat to any percussionists out there.