JRock3x8's Life Musings

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Stress - A Commentary

In my opinion, stress is the physical manifestation of thoughts that trouble us. For example, if you're worried about a deadline at work, your stomach churns, you grit your teeth, you get a headache, etc.

What I have come to realize about stress is that is all self made. There is no stress that anyone can push onto me. It is all dependent on how I react to the situation. Christians being fed to the lions in ancient Rome sang until the very end, praising Jesus. That is true belief in my opinion. But the same can and should be true of all of us.

How much more productive could we all be in our everyday jobs if we chose not to react negatively to every piece of news that crosses our desks? It's a battle I have been confounded by throughout my professional career. Joining in the bashing is not the answer. I can speak from experience when I say that joining the cause of those who choose to react negatively to new information only brings a more difficult circumstance upon oneself later.

That is not to say that all stress is negative. Stress that assists you in completing a project due to a time or resource constraint is very positive and has fueled much of the success that America enjoys today.

But like everything else in life, there is too much and then there is just the right amount - a common balance for all. We should all strive to find the balance that suits us best.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Kelly Clarkson and the "Star" effect

In 2002 (I believe), a little known performer from a small town in Texas burst onto the scene in a new television show which is now a mammoth enterprise known as American Idol. Her name was Kelly Clarkson. Kelly was a little heavier than your average up and coming starlet but her voice was pure gold. Everytime she took the stage, it was plainly evident that this girl had the voice to be a star.

And while her first CD, Thankful, debuted at number one, it was widely panned by the "cool kids" as crap and made American Idol into a running joke. Kelly's first album was far from radio "cool", but it was extremely well done. I can recall listening to that CD two or three times on the way down to my mother-in-law's house and being more impressed each time through. It didn't fly with the younger generation though, and the "buzz" surrounding the album quickly fizzled.

Then she went quiet for about a year. You stopped hearing her name so much on the TV show as Clay Aiken was making a name for himself. She released another song, "Breakaway", for Disney's Princess Diaries (or was it the second one?) The song fit perfectly with the first CD and masked the storm that was to come.

Kelly's second CD, "Breakaway", was unleashed on the music world in 2004. While the title track was anything but a break from her first CD, the other tracks were incredibly dark and filled with everything her first album was not - rock guitar tracks, screaming enraged vocals, and a deep sense of mood. Anyone who listens to the CD can tell that she was clearly trying to turn the page in her career.

Then she shows up at the VMA's in bare feet (sort of weird) and the crowd - the SAME crowd that PANNED her two years before - LOVED her, screamed her name. Her bleached hair, washed out appearance and new thin physical appearance only solidified her stance as a "pop star". When asked about American Idol, she confirmed forever the status of a pop star by dodging the question instead of paying tribute to her beginnings. And behold, the awards flooded in. VMA's, Grammy's, you name it.

And I say that this is all a very sad commentary on American pop music. Kelly's first album was no less interesting from a musical persepctive than her second album. But her change in appearance to something "weird", her disregard for the people who launched her career and her new deep moody music all played a much bigger part in her sudden rise to popularity than she is willing to admit.

I don't blame her for it. In fact, I admit myself to enjoying her second CD more than her first. I am a victim myself to the strange upside down world of popular music where image and flash come first and real music only when absolutely necessary.

Change in Theme

Starting today, for all six people who read or have ever read this blog, I am expanding the horizon to topics outside of videogames, because as much as I love video games, I also enjoy music, movies and literature.

So now my readership is probably back to one - me! Which is fine because I treat this blog more as a diary than any form of publication.