According to Spotify Stats,Swimming by the late Mac Miller was my album of the year. Cocky and laidback, assured, but self-conscience, this album has the right tone for my writing sessions. Mix in lyrics about ambition and party favors and it's fuel for a head-nodding listening session. Make sure to check out: Ladders, Jet Fuel and Self-care.
This idea of self-care was never something I paid attention to until recently. In the last couple years, I've taken more salt baths and rolled out my legs more than all the previous decade combined. Why?
Dog walking, especially in the way I was doing it, gets grueling day to day on the knees, hips, and back. Since every dog is a different size and temperament, I have to adjust to their being. That means every walk is different as well as the muscles worked and reworked strain in different ways. Hence the salt baths and the stretching.
This new daily, methodical preservation of my body gives me a different mindset. I drink more water and I stretch more. There are degrees of difference in my day when I make sure I drank a large glass of water when I first wake up (which I learned from this book) and stretch the night before. I creak less. I'm more limber. I'm lighter on my feet. The only way I know this is through my own experimentation. Trying to identify those points in my day where I could feel better led me to this routine.
Self-care isn't a grandiose treat yourself day, though that can be it. It's a daily routine and it's a little different every day. A way to stay healthy in face of demands. It's finding those spaces in your day where you can focus on yourself and only yourself. It can be a walk, a bath, a stretch, cooking, etc. Whatever it is, make sure your self-care is free from tech, tv, and time. By allowing yourself to feel your self again, your body and mind heal while you continue to grow.
- Eric Maus
"Move it, stretch it, nourish it, hydrate it, pay attention to it—The better our bodies feel, the happier and more productive we are.” Jen Sincero, You are a Badass
Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend introduced me to a whole new sound and a whole new lifestyle in 2008. The quintessential teen-punk-indie bopping album done by a band of Columbia students gave my universe a synth, smart lyrics, and a songs about school. Perfect for those high school grads in transition into college like myself at the time. "Oxford Comma" and "Campus" are the hits, but "M79" and "Walcott" come in punching. At 34 minutes, this album is best enjoyed in one dose through then multiple doses throughout the proceeding weeks.
There are albums that contain those feelings of nostalgia. Times and places linked to the rise and fall of the sounds bursting through those headphones. I can almost see the students walking to class on the UW campus or feel the cold snow beneath my lunch tray on the hill. Moments of joy, moments of despair too. Receiving my first 'F' on a exam, getting dumped by a girl. Those daydreams of a certain future too. The talk of falling for professors, hanging with friends who soon change, and all the simple moments in living for no other reason than to live.
Music has that way of centering us. I use it for writing (obviously) as a gateway into certain emotions. It colors time and fills the room with its evaporating meaning. The Ups and Downs, the feelings, all can be contained in 3:33 song. By writing to music, I relive the feeling even if I'm not feeling sad or angry at the moment. Songs are filled with the joy of daydreams, a time of earlier innocence, and anytime I want to feel these times again I put on Vampire Weekend and listen.
You can be 24 and to continue to live like you're in college, or even like you're in high school. Or you can put on a shirt and tie and pretend you're an adult."
Ruff & Tug - Commercial
I came to Pity Party by Curtis Waters through listening to his hit song "Stunnin'" with Harm Franklin. Such a solid song, I figured I'd check out the album. This is my first time listening through. It has that youthful sadness of a frat party at midnight. So much night ahead, yet you're feeling like going home. The lead singer has a voice like the lead singer of Blink-182. That being said, the songs don't resonate as much.
We had a massive snowfall yesterday in New York City. About 12 inches in the end. Today, the sun is doing its work against it and turning the ground into a slick sheet of ice. So it goes. The beauty of a first snow, especially before Christmas, heightened everyone's mood. All day yesterday, there was the scrapes of shovels and powdering of ice against frozen pavement echoing around the city. Tucked inside my apartment, I had the day off from dogwalking and took the time to edit the latest video for Ruff & Tug. Which will be released today!
This change from pure white bliss to mounds of grey slush is how life goes.
Watching it come down, playing in it, and enjoying the feeling of coziness amidst the frozen world that's what makes the first snow so wonderful. It's the pure creation untouched by the slush of others trodding over it.
Now, though, now is the grey slush, that feeling of scrambling to step forward without falling. Today, I reckon with what I created yesterday. The things I didn't see. The things that didn't land. The things that people don't care for. All of it before the world, ready to be turned into slush. In the process, I hope not to turn into ice too.
It's hard seeing my work going out into the world. Always initially because of the thought, do people really want to see this? The answer is it doesn't matter because I want to see it. That's the most important thing. The things I'm sharing are the things that I want to create. It's the whole Build It and They Will Come strategy. So far, I'm waiting for those people to come see. I spend so much time creating these things, but my worse fear is no one will see them.
It's true. I've been working hard on these things for months. Many days spent straining my neck in the editing room for about 100 views. I appreciate every one of them, but I want more reach.
That said, it's this pity party that I remember that I make these things because I love to. It's not if you'll watch them, read them, or give me money for them. It's me sharing what I have so that you may see a different perspective. Knowing that, as long as I live, I can rise with ten-thousand suns and create something new for me to love.
What's something that you love to do every day?
- Eric Maus
Beware, for I am fearless, and therefore powerful. - Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley - Frankenstein
In Search of the Lost Chord
In 1968, the Moody Blues released In Search of the Lost Chord. In 2017, Eric found the vinyl in a record shop on the lower East Side. In fact, it wasn't even he that found it. A girl he was trying to impress handed to him. That night, Eric found the lost chord...The album plays like a hippie rock opera. If I was doing LSD, I'm sure this album would give me a lot to think about. Alas, a good glass of whiskey will have to do. Close your eyes and listen to the colorful music take you on a journey through life and death. You'll learn of Timothy O'Leary. You'll feel the sunshine on your skin and ride the astroplane. In the end, if you listen real close, you'll find the chord you're looking for.
Today marks my return from vacation. With the holidays abounding, it was high time to head to Wisconsin for an early Christmas celebration. I loved returning home this year. Normally, I work for a couple weeks with my parents at their jewelry store. Except this year, they retired! Good timing too given the whole pandemic situation. With that, J and I only visited for five days. It was plenty. Good food, filled to the brim beer glasses, and so much cheese. Wisconsin does it right. That's why so many people are fat there. It's heaven for jolly gluttons.
Memories of passed lives lived, haunt the halls of my home. With J, a conscientious observer stepping into my family history. She listened to the stories of old dogs, hiccups, high school, and the friends who've passed through our places. In giving her the history, I joined her understanding. From an older perspective, those things that most felt impossible like moving to a different state, asking a crush out, or acting in front of people-- these things that younger, shy Eric was too scared to try. With these experiences now conquered by older Eric. It brings joy and a little regret. Like why did it take so long to see?
Growing up. That's how it goes. For some people, they navigate it quickly because of natural audaciousness or by being prodded into it by parents or situation. For the shy, like I was, in a small town, it was difficult to be prodded. In a city like New York, I imagine I'd grow up quicker because there is always so much going on. Even now though, I still find myself hiding at times, which in the future, I'll look back and think why? Why did it take so long? It's finding those times when I feel like I'm hiding, I try to identify. Those pain points are where I need to grow the most. I'm getting better at it. Meditation helps. Whether intentionally sitting or typing in these words, an outside perspective looking inward helps find the problem. Even then, I, like you, will never be perfect. There will always be moments where I wish I could've done better.
Back in NYC, I'm happy to be at my desk. Those memories I think of, make up my history, those younger Erics simply stages in my life. It's a slow process growing up and finding one's way through. From everything I remembered in my days in Wisconsin, I know deep in my soul that sharing my writing and my stories is my chord. If I could say my chord in one word: Connection.
What's the chord you're searching for? Does it have a word?
- Eric Maus
Two notes of the chord, that's our full scope
Are you as surprised as I am? Me recommending a pop album? That's crazy. But Miley Cyrus' Plastic Hearts is the type of music you want to listen to over and over again. The first two songs are without a doubt the best -- "WTF Do I know" and "Plastic Hearts." Her radio hit "Midnight Sky" will get your blood pumping. What's her secret spice? It's got to be the 1980's rhythm she connects together like Lego pieces. Vulture agrees. A little Stevie Nix influence here, a little Blondie there. All of it a cornucopia of music existentialism. Cyrus' ability to connect these rock dots gives the album its swagger. I could imagine my parents bobbin' their mullets to this.
So much echoes from the past. The things we forget in the sand of time only to be dug up again to make us new again. There's often times I find myself searching for what I want out of things I've already had. I let familiarity guide my internal compass towards the thing I most need.
Most recently it happened with Moby-Dick. Melville's novel resonates with me on a deep level because of the themes he explores. Themes like manliness, a narrator seeking adventure, existentialism, and ambition.
Here's a fun way to find out what themes resonate with you. Write down your top 30 films, movies, or plays. Think about the characters and your thoughts on what the film means. Do that for all of them. You'll soon soon the parallels. It's a bit heady, but it'll show you your path forward. Better yet, figure out elements you loved about them and use those ideas in your writing.
Tarantino watched B-movies to inspire his work. In fact, his whole catalog could be a long running B-movie. His ability to build out of the parts is what makes him an A-lister.
Same could be said of Miley Cyrus' Plastic Hearts. It takes its inspiration from the '80's, but only Cyrus can make it come alive in this matter.
That's what it means to be an artist. To create the new out of the old.
When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, 'no, I went to films.' - Quentin Tarantino
Rolling Stone Best Songs of 2020
It's that time of year where all the listicles of 'Best of's" come out. This one comes from Rolling Stone.
What I like about this list as opposed to other years is the utter variety of the sounds. Ranging from country to disco-pop, most genres (sorry metalheads) are represented. Who knows if it's a head nod to the great Bob Dylan (who just got PAID!) is truly the best song or more of an ode to the greatness, but the man got number 2. Either way, it's inspiring to see a year of songs with range. 2020 was crazy time and it deserves a solid dive into music because for a lot of us, it got us through.
By year's end, I'll have my own list of ten songs that made a difference to me in 2020.
One trend I'm noticing in the industry is the continuous mashing of genres. The best example is RMR doing a sampling of Billy Ray Cyrus and country rapping over the top. I look forward to the day when Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" gets shoved into oblivion replaced by solid rappers taking country rap to the next level. For now, the genre is in its infancy, but soon enough, we'll be hearing southern drawls crooning over trap drums. Who knows Country Rap could be the thing that brings us together as a nation. It's the perfect combo of pick-up trucks on paved streets.
-- Eric Maus
As I grow yearly. I can see things more clearly, that's why they fear me." - Nas from 'Hero'
Adele's 21 is an album for the ages -- top to bottom powerful songs ranging from ballads to pop. Her voice carries so deeply across each track. It makes you wonder how big an idiot the guy was that left her for someone else. Such an immense talent. She rumored her new album in 2021. She says she won't name it after her age. It's too bad since we're about the same age. I love how I grow up with her.
When I think about 21, I think of a boy dreaming of big things and drinking himself into a stupor every night. Thus, was college at Wisconsin-Madison. Such a miserable way to spend the day, but it's what all the students did, or, at least, my friends. We didn't concern ourselves with the future or how we could manifest anything we want instead of just cheap vodka and keg parties. So it goes.
At 21, Adele released a smash. Obviously, she's talented in voice. Yet, she would be nothing without the cast around her. Who is playing horns, guitar, drums? She knows. Without them, she would have nothing just a singer in a smoky empty room belting out words. With her crew, she elevates. A backing beat, a backing cast, belief in her prowess to steer the listener wherever she wishes to take them. In the depths of a captivating voice, backed by a group, she becomes Adele.
Much in the same, I feel now that truth. My work is nothing without a cast of characters behind them. I am the talent and they are the ones who believe. With the new band, Ruff & Tug, and the new writer's group, I'm building something bigger than the sum of its parts. That's true alchemy. If only Newton would've known that it's collaboration that creates gold from coal.
I will never be Adele. I'll never be Hemingway. We won't be The Beatles. Shakespearian plays will not arise out of our group. Nor do I want to be. I am and we are a product of these things, but we can never be them. They are where they are because of who they were. They had their own algorithm of people who built them into their respective names. Without those believers, I stays I.
It is impossible to succeed in this world without the help of a community of friends, family, and strangers. From the moment we are born, we are born in the arms of others.
-- Eric Maus
If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants. - Isaac Newton
Blak and Blu
I first discovered Gary Clark Jr's music in 2013 when Rolling Stone Magazine did an expose on his first album: Blak and Blu. It opens with a kick -- "Ain't Messin' Around" followed by my personal favorite, "When My Train Pulls In." I love his "The Life" rap too. His Live album from 2014 is my favorite of his of all time. He's a solid mix of classic blues with modern guitar riffs that tear into your soul. As he grows as an artist, he is becoming more politically active and for good reason, the color of one's skin should not be used as a weapon against them. Beyond that, he has the rare claim to be the musician I've seen the most live. I'll see him any time he comes around. He's cool, he's hard-nosed, and he can do anything on guitar. Check him out if you haven't already heard.
Music is a way of coloring time. In the background, the rapacious echo of some long lost lover croons. It's easy to ignore and easy to remember. The drumbeat of the human spirit marches two and two together with the single rhythm of the heart. Some maestros have it and others want it. What is it then that makes one cool?
Being cool is something that comes naturally to some people. Whether its their inherent good taste or just simply confidence, the thought of being seen as cool is something that at some point in everyone's lives they must contend. Here I am now, it's been a full week of posts. My first such writing streak in a long time. I haven't vocalized my work done thus far because I don't know the direction per se. Yet, here I am now, being cool about it. I'm letting the work lead me wherever it is to go. So far, it seems a dictation on memories begot from the albums I love.
Confidence. Singularly in self and affectation. Being cool does not necessitate acting. It is. And only in being called cool does anyone really ever ascend the throne of Coolness. Self-proclaimed Cool is problematic because it makes claims in an arena where others be the judge. No. To call oneself cool is the opposite. It is lame. With such a tricky scenario then, the real coolness comes solely from within. Out of the vast ocean of our soul, our coolness rides like a ship sailing across some times calm or some times tumultuous seas. In either case, only the captain of the ship can maintain the crew of coolness. It is done through confidence to reach distant shores.
So then where does confidence come from?
It rises from the connection between mind and body, between soul and spirit. If we are each one body in the whole body of the human race, then confidence in one's place will be like a pillar to the rest of us. That confidence is built up over time and over discipline. For there isn't a confident person who does not have his or her boundaries. Confidence is a place to be free. Confidence is a feeling of power of self. Confidence is an expectation into what is right, in the face of what is personally deemed wrong.
Can confidence be wrong? Of course, it happens all the time.
In failure, confidence is the ability to raise again what is fallen. Like a broken egg, the pieces are the same, but the construction changes. In so much, we are broken eggs remade over and over throughout our lives until we reach our very pinnacles. In those great heights, our confidence reigns. Only to collapse again, endlessly. When the very core of confidence is shaken, it is the fall where coolness comes.
Cool to take the hit and keep moving forward, cool in the ability to laugh off the lost time, cool in the recognition that we are fallible primates, who's thoughts and actions will eventually wither into dust. The Cool then is likened to death. Untouchable. Understated. Confident in its ability to execute.
Being cool then is to be alive in spite of all the odds. Confident in striding forth unencumbered by the weight of time. Sure in body and mind that what can be done shall be.
To be cool or not? It is a worthless question to the cool ones and a worthless obsession to those that feel they don't belong. None of us belong, yet we all do in our way. And that's cool.
-- Eric Maus
Man, sometimes it takes you a long time to sound like yourself. Don't play what's there; play what's not there. Do not fear mistakes - there are none. It's like, how did Columbus discover America when the Indians were already here? -- Miles Davis
How to: Love, Friend, Freefall
Rainbow Kitten Surprise may be the worst band name of all time, but their music is great. I discovered their music in 2017 and I've been an addict since. Tom describes them as a cross between Kings of Leon and Lumineers. Not a bad comparison. Certainly that folk sound and the singer's voice gives it that southern twang. It's hard to choose what my favorite song is. Between Mission to Mars, Fever Pitch, and Matchbox, it's tough. Moreover, this is a short album, about 30 minutes. It's easily ingestible on repeat. Every. song. is. good.
When I think of the shoot yesterday and the changes I made to my facial hair. My cheeks feel the sunshine. After all the costume changes, I believe four in all alongside changes to the shape of my beard. We started with the normal beard, moved to the Rasta-beaded beard, then the gregarious mutton chops (my personal favorite and I'd be a disaster), to the curled moustache, then it was done. I shaved the 'stache, nearly breaking my buzzer with all the wax, and there it was -- my face.
I look much younger. Yet, older too. It's not the same face that entered the pandemic fresher. I guess I don't know how to describe it. Maybe it's because my hair on top is a mop. I look like Keith Urban now with it swung over one eye. My plan is to get it cut upon return to Milwaukee at Groom. It's the best hair place there is. The barbers know what they're doing. It's expensive, but so is waiting six months to get another haircut. Can't wait for that. You can check out my pinterest for the styles on I'm looking at.
The shoot went well. Camille and I have a good report on camera. Her Jamaican character was a treasure. I can't to share the short with everyone. My biker character made my day. I've been watching it on repeat.
I'm nervous about watching my version of "Free-Fallin'". Performing in front of the camera for the first time with all the lights, the video, the fog, and Camille playing the drums. It was intense. My fingers weren't as rhythmic as I'd liked. My voice was good, but cracking at times. It'll be what it is. A lot of fun to do, but it shows I have a lot more practice to do at guitar.
Beyond that, the writer's group is going strong. We table read a comedy pilot. Hearing her words out loud is such a great opportunity for everyone involved. We want to be better actors. We want to be better writers. Acting and listening is so much more engaging especially since we're only hearing it for the first time. It's like watching a show you've never seen before. You want to like it, but you don't trust it.
I plan on hosting more writer meetings. I have the Zoom account and it's a fun way to meet people. Since I don't have a lot going on tonight, I could host one. I have the house to myself. Getting even one person to join could benefit both of us. Ideally, 8 people or more would help.
Beyond that, I feel tired in a successful way today. It's a good day for self-care. My chest bruise is healing. Soon, I'll be able to lay on my side or stomach without pain. Giving myself time to heal is important. Part of me believes the bike accident was a way of slowing me down. With everything I was trying to do with writing and how I was feeling about money, I hit the pavement and gained a moment of repose. The body is the most important thing we have. I don't appreciate it enough even though it is the vessel which carries out my life. Without it, I'd be nothing.
Today's a good day to say thanks.
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. - Ralph Waldo Emerson