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The Lernen to Talk Show Goes Global

December 1, 2015

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Reader most fair,

if the Lernen to Talk Show is what brought you to this blog, I urge you to turn your attention to the following page: https://www.indiegogo.com/at/lernentotalk

And while you’re at it,

LIKE it:
http://www.facebook.com/lernentotalk/

FOLLOW it:
http://twitter.com/lernentotalk

EXPLORE it:
http://lernentotalk.com

Let’s do this!!!

-M.M.

My quest for the elusive 5-Minute Mile – Day 1.

September 20, 2014
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Photo on 2014-09-20 at 14.42

Ten years ago I ran a lot. I was on the cross country team and, for one season, the track team. That year, I ran my fastest mile time of 5 minutes and 16 seconds (I was never one of the best people on the team). About an hour ago I broke my ten-year-old record with a time of 5 minutes and 13 seconds.

I want to run a 5-minute mile. I cannot tell you why. But I want to. So I’m gonna train for it and I’m gonna write about it here and maybe in the process I’ll find a good reason for all the effort.

Favorites of 2013 (to be expanded)

December 31, 2013

Whoa that was fast. The craziest and most unpredictable year of my life is almost over. WordPress notified me last night that I only published 26 posts this year or something like that. Sorry I didn’t write more. I’m gonna try to get better at that, as usual. Anyway, I wanted to share with you a brief list of some of my favorite things from the year.

Top 10 Movies:

1. Pacific Rim

2. Upstream Color

3. Gravity

4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

5. Before Midnight

6. Into the Wonder

7. The Place Beyond the Pines

8. TheWorld’s End

9. Fast & Furious 6

10. The Grandmaster

I actually only saw three other movies in theaters, but I didn’t really like ’em. They were FrozenSide Effects, and something else. I forget. Oh right, it was Captain Philipps. That was pretty good I thought.

Top 9 Albums

1. Brother the Lights Don’t Work by The Rutabega

2. Horseradish by Nate Henricks

3. Reflektor by Arcade Fire

4. The Next Day by David Bowie

5. North America Ghost Radio Station by YOUNGEST CHILDREN

6. …Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age

7. Shaking the Habitual by The Knife

8. Eternity of Dimming by Frontier Ruckus

9. Chelsea Light Moving by Chelsea Light Moving

#10 would probably be the Nine Inch Nails album or the fourth Bronx record, but for some reason I haven’t really listened to them yet.

My New Year’s Resolution is to watch more movies.

Cordial Invitations

November 25, 2013

Dear Reader,

You are cordially invited to join me for an evening of rock ‘n roll this Wednesday evening at the Empty Bottle at 1035 N. Western in Chicago. I will be at your  service for all your low-frequency needs by playing the bass guitar in Jet W. Lee at 9pm sharp. Tickets are available for the low low price of ten dollars here. We will be opening the evening, followed by sets from The PhenomsThe Safes, and The Differents. I can’t promise you that you’ll have a good time, but I can promise you that if you don’t, it’s your own fault.

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But that’s not all! I also cordially invite you to join me (and many other inspiring presenters) for PechaKucha Night Chicago, an evening of “design, architecture, art, and beer” next Tuesday evening, December 3rd, 2013 at Martyrs’ at 3855 N. Lincoln Avenue. I will take the stage for 400 seconds to present The Lernen to Talk Show – Past, Present, and Future (or something along those lines). It’s gonna be awesome. Again, tickets are only $10! You can reserve yours by clicking right… here.

The date's wrong in this image, sorry. Actual date is December 2, 2013.

The date’s wrong in this image, sorry. Actual date is December 3, 2013.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving, everybody! See you on Wednesday.

-M.M.

Goofbone Zambonis His Way to a Sweeter Oasis

November 18, 2013
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My friend Chris drew a portrait of me today. He named it Goofbone Zambonis His Way to a Sweeter Oasis, which I feel aptly describes not only this illustration, but my life in general. Thank you very much for this, Chris.

Yes, it was drawn on a piece of cardboard. And yes, my wheels are heptagonal. And if you want to understand what I’m referring to in the picture, you should listen to The Best Show on WFMU.

May all your oases be sweet.

-M.M.

A Year of My Life

November 15, 2013

“I never want to forget another day that I’ve ever lived.” – Cesar Kuriyama

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About a year and a half ago, I was made aware of a project its creator Cesar Kuriyama calls 1 Second Everyday. It’s a simple concept, but seeing his first video moved me in ways I did not expect. I couldn’t believe how this frantic glimpse into a stranger’s life could evoke such emotion in me. I thought, “what if I actually were to know this guy?” And then I thought, “what if I was this guy?” How amazing would it be to have this six minute record of my own year? I share many of the misgivings Mr. Kuriyama articulates when describing the inspiration for the project in his TED Talk. My whole life I’ve hated the fact that I couldn’t tell you something I did on any given day in my past. I was keeping a daily journal, but days would inevitably slip through. Pulling a camera out of my pocket for an instant every day was something I knew I wouldn’t have an excuse to put off or forget. When I first saw the project last March I resolved to immediately begin my own second per day video.

But for some reason I could not properly get into the habit. I would film every day for a week and then I would suddenly realize I’d missed a couple days. This wasn’t such a big deal because I knew it didn’t really matter when I started, because I would start eventually. For months it continued to be that way. Starting, stopping, justifying.

And then in September of last year something happened that put me in a bad place emotionally. I found myself suddenly unable to enjoy the day to day, despite my day to day being very special. I was on tour with my brother’s band, playing shows every night and  getting to know my country again after a year away. I knew in my head that my life was wonderful, short, a gift meant to be enjoyed. But in my heart I was struggling to feel that. As much as I wouldn’t allow myself to admit it, I was depressed.

The funny (and by that I mean not funny at all) thing about depression is that it intensifies when recognized. I would feel terrible, and then I would feel worse because, well, “how dare I feel terrible? My life is good.” I was in the throes of this feedback loop when I remembered the one second per day project that I was still delaying. I thought about how the moments of those dark days were in themselves wonderful, beautiful. It was my own perspective that was distorting that simple truth. On September 28th I took out my camera and pressed a button twice, knowing that I would appreciate having that moment saved for me to look at later. On September 29th I did it again, and I continued doing it every day. I found myself looking forward to doing it. I found myself seeking images that were especially nice, and for the instant I had my camera out I knew that yes, this is a good moment. That daily positive affirmation became very important for me, and I knew that someday I’d be able to watch these moments and remember the day surrounding it and enjoy it, hopefully untarnished (or perhaps enhanced?) by the memory of the mood I was in.

I continued every day for a year and now I would like to share the result. I am pleased to report that my plan worked. I love looking back on days that I didn’t exactly love living at the time. And that’s a powerful feeling, because the other funny (read: not at all funny) thing about depression is that when it’s there, it does not feel like it will ever go away. But it does. It always does.

I know that talking about being depressed isn’t the coolest thing in the world. But I also know that helping people is the coolest thing in the world. That’s why I wanted to share with you not only the video I made, but the motivation behind it. Maybe someone will read this who doesn’t feel so good today, and maybe he or she will have a shiny new tool to use against that force so many of us don’t dare to admit we feel.

-M.M.

P.S. If you want to make your own video, Mr. Kuriyama sells what appears to be an amazing app that makes it very easy to do it yourself! I would totally buy it if I had a smart phone.

On Love

November 13, 2013

My body is confused. I woke up an hour ago at 10:30pm to the sound of what I thought was my alarm clock telling me it was 5:00am but was in fact my uncle calling me. I had been asleep since 5:30pm. All of this is undoubtedly the result of my recent decision to try Crossfit, a brand of exercise that actually brands itself by eschewing any notion of “brand” and leaving its participants’ bodies craving large bowls of Cheerios at 11 o’clock at night. (Note to self: investigate any possible correlations between Crossfit’s origins and General Mills.)

I couldn’t fall back asleep and instead turned to my ever-growing list of “things to check out later on the internet” and ended up listening to a commencement speech given by a lady by the name of Debbie Millman. In it she encourages the eager graduates to consider making choices that might not be so in line with standard expectations and instead, as seems to be required in commencement speeches, to “do what you love”.

The funny thing about “do what you love” is that the people who say that are almost always older and smarter than the people being told that. It’s a kind thing to say, much like “be yourself”, etc. But it’s also a completely meaningless thing to say to someone who hasn’t had the experience necessary to acquire any confidence in his or her passions. Before you can do what you love, you need to know what you love.

I’m trying to remember the first time it was presumed that I knew what I loved. I feel as though I’ve been told to do what I love for my entire life. It seems absurd to imagine a five-year-old me being given that advice, so it must have been later than that. You know, it was probably at my eighth grade commencement speech. It’s funny now to think about my middle school principal writing a speech for a bunch of kids about to go to high school, but I’d be willing to bet that he told us to do what we loved. What else could he have said?

I know what I would tell a group of fourteen-year-olds, should I ever have the honor to give a middle school commencement address: “Figure out what you love. From now on, a lot of people are going to be telling you to do what you love. It will be meaningless but you should thank them for the good advice and use it as a reminder to keep trying to figure out what you love. You’re fourteen. You don’t love anything. Well maybe you love Rage Against the Machine and low-cut t-shirts, but you don’t actually love those things. I mean, maybe you do, I mean, it’s all relative. But you’ll love other things more than that later in life. Or maybe you won’t. Oh jeez, I should have thought more about this before I got up here. Life’s hard and wait a minute, no it’s not. You are kids in suburban Chicago about to go to a high school that you can walk to and from safely. Why am I giving this speech again?”

Don’t worry about doing what you love. That’s a 21st century luxury that was invented by people who want to give commencement speeches and the kind of people who make stuff like this. Just love. The rest will take care of itself.

-M.M.

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