Negative Zone

Music, Books, Time Travel, and other ramblings...

Month: February 2018

Chicago, and Changing Who You Are

I believe my love of music comes from my dad.  Looking at his stacks of albums, staring at the album covers, they seemed like such an adult mystery to me as a child.  I clearly remember being mesmerized by Kate Bush album covers, but that’s for another post.

Chicago is one of my father’s favorite bands, and so I listened to them a lot as a young kid.  70’s Chicago though, not what they became in the years in which I grew up.

“Make Me Smile” was released on the Chicago II album in 1970, and I believe it encompasses the spirit of Chicago in the beginning.  Amazing vocals by Terry Kath, a founding member of the band and lead guitarist.  This is what I think of when I think of the band.  In January 1978, Kath was fooling around with some guns.  Not realizing there was a round in the chamber of his 9-mm, he died when he rested the gun against his temple and pulled the trigger.

The band, after wanting to disband, stayed together.  Now I don’t know the actual history of Chicago and what kind of internal politics were at play, but my perception is that the music shifted at that point.  Again, I’m no historian on the band of music in general, but the first album after Kath’s death was the first Chicago album not to be numbered (previous albums were Chicago II, Chicago III, Chicago IV, you get the drift). The music was…disco? Pop? Different.  And just look at what may be one of the goofiest album covers of all time.

Look at that smug Peter Cetera’s face looking like “yeah, I’m taking this band over!”  I’m kidding!

Most people know Chicago as releasing music like the following:

I forgot about that video…aww, 80’s punk love.  Music is completely different in the 1980’s as compared to the previous decade.  Sounded to me like a different band.


So what about people? How often does something “die” within us that we completely change who we are?  Or is it that this new person was buried deep down within us since we were born, and something changed to where we were finally comfortable allowing it to surface?  I know it’s popular to say “People don’t change”, but is that really accurate?

I’m not talking about a movie or novel where the villain in the beginning turns out to be a hero, but in real life how often does this happen?

From my experience in seeing people grow up in a strict religious environment, and then escaping said environment, I can say I’ve see people change completely.  But is this really a change?  I feel like it’s more of the case where a person’s inner self was so buried, so hidden even from themselves, and when they finally realize it’s safe to be who you are it seems as if they have become a different person.  Really, how they previously acted was not a true representation.

In a minor way we change.  Someone who hated green beans at the age of 10 now loves a good green bean casserole at the age of 30.  Another person hated opera at the age of 21 but now weeps while listening to Un bel di vedremo.  Is this changing who we are at the core though? Isn’t this just the refining of tastes and growing as a human?

What about a person who has a wonderful family life, grows up as a kind and caring person, but in their later years show themselves to be bitter and angry and full of rage.  Did they always hate people, or did something happen to them to kill the joy they had in life and replace it with fear?

I really don’t know.  I don’t even know why I’m thinking about these things.  We are, we act, we live.  Sometimes we start off as 1970’s Chicago, and become 1980’s Chicago.  Go listen to some music and think about who you were and who you are.


I wanted to say that I’ve always been interested in horror, but that’s not really true.  Fascinated and frightened, yes.  If I had to hazard a wild guess as to why, I think the easy target would be growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness.  Anything the religion viewed as occult was to be avoided at all cost, and the definition of occult was far ranging depending on who was giving their opinion at the time.  It could be anything from the movie “The Exorcist” to the cartoon “The Smurfs”, and I’m not joking.

Once I left the religion, one of the first things I wanted to do is start reading and watching things that before I would have thought of as evil.  One of the first things I did was start reading Stephen King.  My maternal grandmother loved reading horror and suspense, and I had been secretly wishing I could read some of his books.  Now I’m sure many Jehovah’s Witnesses read and have read books by King.  Again, evil is in the eye of the beholder.  In my particular situation, books written by people like Stephen King were to be avoided.  And the first thing I wanted to do was read something.  It was amazing, and freeing, to just read and watch what I wanted.  For some reason Neil Gaiman had been on my “avoid as evil” list but good god (yes, lower case) do I love his stuff.

Movies were great as well, but I found I wasn’t as much into the slasher/torture movies as I was the paranormal and psychological thrillers.  One of my favorite movies recently was The Witch.  Just amazing from beginning to end, and really represents the kind of movie that I love to watch and yet 20 years ago would never have dreamed of looking at.

I recently finished reading “The Witches” by Stacy Schiff.  It was a very detailed description of what went down in 1690’s Salem and the surrounding areas.  I found it fascinating that the sort of ultra-strict religious atmosphere that existed at the time really enabled the whole horrible ordeal to take place.   The only thing about the book I didn’t enjoy was that the author didn’t seem to tie any of the facts together to draw some sort of conclusion on why these events took place.

Perhaps she was doing her job as a historian and not inserting herself into the narrative, and I shouldn’t issue demerits for that reason.  But at times the book was a chore to get through, with a lot of names and dates that blurred together after a while.  Do not read this book if you are tired!  Overall though, it was very informative to read what happened without having the information twisted by trying to make it entertainment.

The truth is scary enough.  It did make me want to watch The Witch again, though.


More Thoughts about Writing

It really is tough to “just write”, at least for me.  When I said I would write more, I didn’t really mean on this website.

Two weeks ago I purchased a laptop in order to write every day.  This is what I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid, this is my passion, so why not do it while I’m not working.  Makes sense, right?  But the fear…am I good enough? Would anyone want to read what I write?

It’s easy to write on this website because I know nobody is reading it.  I originally had comments turned on, but stopped that because it was literally all spam.  The first comment got me so excited and then I realized it had a spam link on it and, well, sadness.

Writing a novel, or short stories, or submitting to a website or magazine…that’s a lot different.  There is true rejection.  And even if you are published, people can hate what you have to say or tell you that you’re not good at putting those words together.

So I bought the laptop, brought it home, and it didn’t work at all.  My brand new computer was so slow it felt as if I were on the first desktop I ever had back when I didn’t go on any websites, I dialed in to BBS’.  I couldn’t use it, had to bring it back to Best Buy.  I can’t write now!

That’s unconscious resistance.  Bullshit.   I went online and bought a new laptop, and this thing is amazing. I love it. And I’m writing.

Maybe you’ll never see what I write.  Maybe you will and you’ll love it.  Or think it’s complete garbage.

No matter what, I’m writing.  I sit down, and “just write”.  And a week in, I love it.

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