Top Five Favorite Beatles Albums

This is a ranked list, meaning each album I mention, I liked better than the previous album on the list. Or, in the case of the first album on the list, I liked it better than all the other Beatles albums that do not appear on the list. Speaking of the first album on the list,

#5. The Beatles (The White Album) (1968). This is a weird one. But taken as a whole, it’s a goddamn experience, and I love it. A couple non sequiturs, but mostly really good Beatles music. This came out after the excesses of 1967, and in many ways it was a counterpoint to Sgt. Pepper’s. The production was a little more subdued on the White Album, and it’s a nice contrast.

#4. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). Balls to the wall psychedelia. This was the album where they really stepped out into it. Or maybe not stepped. More like a jump. The kind of jump where you land stomping on both feet. Preferably in some kind of puddle. In the case of Sgt. Pepper’s, the puddle was a puddle of cultural inevitability. So how’s come it’s only #4? Well, I’ll tell you.

#3. Revolver (1966). Revolver is a dynamite album. They were taking their first forays into psychedelia and hard-core experimentation that was the hallmark of Sgt. Pepper’s. I’m guessing (this is pure speculation on my part) that Revolver was the first album after they got turned on to LSD. I know the song “Doctor Robert” is about a guy who sold LSD, so they were definitely doing it when this album was being written and recorded. I guess the timing doesn’t really matter.

#2. Abbey Road (1969). Abbey Road is the best Beatles album. It is the crowning jewel of their catalog. So why is it only #2? Because this is a favorites list, not a qualitative list.

Honorable Mention. Rubber Soul (1965). Wanted to stick this in here before I reveal the #1. This was the first album after the Fab Four were turned on to weed. As such, it serves as a bridge between the two phases of the Beatles. The first phase was the poppy stuff (but still good), and the second phase, which commenced with Rubber Soul, was the good stuff (but still poppy).

And finally,

#1. Magical Mystery Tour (1967). But that’s not a real album, I hear you saying. Maybe not. But it has the most iconic songs in their catalog. Let’s list a few of the heavy hitters that appear on this album. “I Am the Walrus”, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Penny Lane”, “All You Need Is Love”. Those are the Beatles songs, man. They fill it out with the likes of “Flying”, “Blue Jay Way”, “The Fool on the Hill”, “Hello, Goodbye”, “Magical Mystery Tour”. Are you fucking kidding me? This album is astonishing! I also like that they put out Sgt. Pepper’s, and then they did Magical Mystery Tour which is in every way a continuation and a culmination of that earlier project.

I love it when bands do this. U2 is another example. They came out with Joshua Tree, and everybody flipped their shit. So they came out with Rattle and Hum, which is my favorite U2 album, and which is a continuation and culmination of Joshua Tree. Along with some live tracks which are greatly appreciated. Man, I like Rattle and Hum.

But we’re not talking about U2 here. We’re talking about the Beatles, which is a different thing, though the two are not entirely dissimilar. So that’s my top five ranked list of Beatles albums. How about that.

SilencedHippie

Sunday, July 17th was Sasha’s (SilenceHippie’s) 30th birthday. I told her in the livestream that her 30s were her reward for surviving her 20s, which is a saying I came up with when I was her age, seventeen years ago. She saw it, and totally dug it, read it out loud to the stream, texted it right then to her boyfriend and other people she knew, and posted it on her Instagram, 57.9k followers. And didn’t give me any credit. Of course I’m kidding. 🙂 I’m tickled pink that something I wrote was that well-received.

So technically, I said it to the chat in addition to saying it to her. I think there were about 150 people on the stream at that point. Then she tells it to family and friends, and she says it to 57,900 Instagram followers, and sha-blam. I’m gonna live forever. Not in name. But my words will persist. I take no small satisfaction in this.

While I’ve got you here, let me tell you more about Sasha, now that you know how old she is. I’ve been wanting to write about her for years, but I was keeping my herbal pursuits on the down low. Sasha, as mentioned, is SilencedHippie, one of the old-school WeedTubers, that is, YouTubers who feature cannabis content. That’s the fancy way of saying it. The unfancy way of saying it is, they film themselves smoking weed and post it on YouTube. Non-stoners might wonder what the appeal is there, but as a stoner I can tell you that we are starved for representation. Or at least I was at the time. Seeing media of people actually smoking weed (not movie smoking, the real fucking thing) was electrifying the first few times. Then it just became comforting. People who are attractive and/or engaging can garner subscribers who want to watch them smoke and be stoned. Subscribing to a WeedTuber’s channel is a little like having a smoking buddy. That’s how it started. The WeedTube scene has morphed, shifted, and matured over the years. Sasha is a “cannabis influencer” now.

However, Sasha has recently sorta shifted her YouTube focus to a different channel, one that can be monetized. This means it will not have weedy content. This is the SashaLee channel. It’s still finding its legs. Mostly it’s been gardening content, which is good, I’ve really enjoyed it. But a lot of her audience is particularly drawn to the weedy content. So they are gonna take some winning over. Personally, I’ve already been won over. Weed was what drew me to Sasha’s channel in the beginning, but I’ve stayed because of Sasha. You see, to me, Sasha is like serotonin in cannabis influencer form. Her content is universally peaceful, calming, and full of love.

The old videos where she does bong rips and talks about her life and hangs out and stuff are all still at the SilencedHippie channel. New content in this vein has moved to Twitch, a livestreaming platform. That kind of “hang out and smoke” content is a perfect fit for Twitch. And there’s a whole community of people who do weedy streams. On Twitch, Sasha is SashaHippie.

I’ve been regularly looking in on the Twitch streams since April. The first time I went on, there was a giveaway. I entered on a lark, and I won! Thus guaranteeing that I would seek to win another. I haven’t yet. There have been a few. Perhaps someday. I did come in 9th place on one recently, but that’s the closest I’ve gotten.

I never thought I would say this, but the best SilencedHippie experience is on Twitch these days. I resisted going to Twitch from YouTube; I no longer remember why. Twitch is so much better than YouTube for this content, and Sasha streams six days a week. On YouTube, you’re lucky to get one video a week, that’s maybe 10-15 minutes long. Sasha’s usually on for at least an hour when she streams. An hour of calm, peace, serenity, and quiet joy.

Happy birthday, Sasha. I find your content to be therapeutic, and over the years you’ve helped me get through a lot, so thanks. You make people’s lives better.

The Scale of Stonedness

Here’s the scale for reference. Essay to follow.

0. Not Stoned. You are not under the influence of cannabis in any way.

1. Slightly Stoned. You’re starting to feel it a little bit. This level also covers those weird hangover feelings.

2. Stoned. You have arrived. You are beyond buzzed and have entered the room of stonedness.

3. Well Stoned. You are more stoned, and it feels great.

4. Very Stoned. You are starting to get/are getting significantly impaired. Still feels great, though.

5. Too Stoned. You wish you had maybe done a little less.

When something happens to you, it is sometimes helpful to quantify that experience. How many times have you encountered the phrase, “On a scale from one to ten”? Particularly in the medical field, they’re always asking you to rate your pain from one to ten. And they do this because it forces you to take something that’s in your head and describe it in terms that others can understand and work with. Assigning a number value to your experience helps them help you.

And here’s the thing. The medical scale is useful because it is subjective. When somebody gives a 7 for their pain, the doctor doesn’t know how much pain they’re in. Instead, the doctor knows that the pain feels like a 7 to this patient, and they can work from there. It’s not a rating of pain, it’s a rating of how the patient perceives their pain. I think this is interesting, but I’m afraid maybe I’m getting sidetracked by semantics. Let’s go to the next paragraph.

It’s not at all surprising that stoners have attempted to apply the 1-10 scale to recreational cannabis consumption. But most of the scales I’ve seen fall short of being useful. Typically, they list specific symptoms (head buzz, red eyes, etc.) or degrees of severity of said symptoms, and assign a number. Then, presumably, someone who has memorized the chart, can analyze their symptoms and pick an appropriate number. Right. What actually happens is, they pick a number based on how they feel. So even though it’s predicated on objectivity, its use is primarily subjective.

I say, skip right to the subjective. The Scale of Stonedness does not care how red your eyes are. It’s just a list of overall impressions of how you’re doing. Use the Scale of Stonedness, and anyone who knows the scale will be able to gauge what condition your condition is in. Or at least, they’ll know how you think you’re feeling.

“But you can do that by just talking,” I hear you say. And that’s very true. However, this scale was invented in 2011 for use in my diary, where it is very convenient to have a single-digit shorthand for how I’m doing. I find it incredibly useful.

Some notes on the specific levels.

3. Well Stoned. What exactly does “well stoned” mean? Well, here’s a subjective metaphor. At 2, as was mentioned, you have entered into the room of stonedness. At 3, you have kicked your shoes off and are lounging in an enormous purple bean bag and sipping a complimentary beverage in the room of stonedness. It’s more/better high, that’s all.

5. Too Stoned. You are at level 5 when you wish you had done less weed for some reason. It could be because you are all fucked up/physically sick or some shit; or it could be circumstantial, like a situation where you didn’t realize you were gonna hafta give a speech to a hundred people, say. If you had known that was gonna happen, you wouldn’t’ve done the weed, right? Of course right. Welcome to level 5.

Finally, a discussion of descriptors.

Sometimes, you have a 2 that is more strong than the average 2, but you don’t consider it a 3. Likewise, you may have a 3 that is less strong or slightly diminished, but you don’t consider it a 2. This would be a high 2, and a low 3, respectively. “high” and “low” are the terms I use, but any terms can be substituted.

These are descriptors that qualify your level. 0-5 is a good start, but if you say you’re at a high or low 3, people know more about your situation than if you had just said you’re at a 3. Descriptors are completely optional. I use them all the time and find them quite useful.

Lithium

Lithium. I’ve been taking lithium well over a decade now. What does it do for me? Well, there’s the shakes. I have a slight tremor in both hands that prevents me from being able to do detailed work with my hands. I can’t make the pictures I used to make, I can’t put together Blood Bowl miniatures, I can’t hold a camera steady, and about thirty percent of the time I do something on a touchscreen, I miss. Thirty? At least twenty.

Then there’s the weight gain. When I went on lithium, I rapidly gained sixty pounds. I was fat before, but now I’m really fat. So there’s inconveniences all the time when you’re my size, from buying clothing to fitting into fucking chairs. It’s a big stressful hassle.

Then there’s the stupid. Lithium blunts my intellect. I’m still smart, but man, I used to be sharper. Quicker. When I first went on the lithium, there was a noticeable diminishing of my cognitive mojo. Since then, I think my brain has been learning to work with the issue, and there have been improvements. But my mental capabilities have never come all the way back after going on lithium.

So how do I know it’s the lithium, and not the weed, that makes me stupid? Well, I wasn’t on weed when I started lithium. I hadn’t smoked for years, and I would go on to not smoke for years more while I was on lithium. Weed makes me a little stupider as well, but in a different way to the lithium. And it seems to be more focused on when you’re stoned, and then when you’re not stoned, you’re closer to fully functional. But not quite a hundred percent. This isn’t about weed, though.

Lithium fucks with my thyroid. I’m now on thyroid hormones to keep my shit regulated.

Lithium causes increased thirst and increased urination. This manifests by ambushing me when I drink. I’ll nonchalantly grab a water bottle, meaning to get a swig and move on with my day, but then the water feels so incredible going in, and it shoulders its way down my throat, and I let it happen because it just feels so good. Over time I’ve mastered this side effect as well, sort of. I “manage” it by drinking a shitload of water. I’m not sure how much exactly, but I know it’s over a gallon a day. (Incidentally, I know the risks of over-consumption of water, and I know I’m not at risk for that.) And of course, the flipside is that when I’m at home, it feels like I pee every fifteen goddamn minutes. But I don’t mind peeing, for the most part. I do worry some about my kidneys going out. I’m on Risperdal, and that’s hard on the kidneys as well. But this isn’t about Risperdal.

I know there was one other thing lithium does for me, but I’m having trouble remembering it. Oh, right, I remember — IT MAKES LIFE WORTH LIVING. I had occasion to reduce my lithium dosage for six months recently. We were checking to see if I really needed to take 1350mg when 900mg might do the trick. Spoiler: yes, I need 1350mg. With lithium, it takes a while for things to normalize after a dosage adjustment. So for six months I had reduced side effects, but I also had reduced effects. I was a basket case by the end of that six months. I saw a glimpse into 2008 that I did not like at all. In the end I went back up on the lithium, and everything is much, much closer to fine now.

That’s the dilemma of all drug treatments. Weighing the benefits with the negative side effects and making a call. Oftentimes, there’s no clear-cut “good” call. In the case of lithium, I do feel that there’s a good call. And that call is, I’m not willing to go without it. If some force or entity takes away my lithium in the future, it will be done without my consent.

The Dude Abides, and So Do I

Introductory paragraph that acknowledges that the name of this website, Ethan Abides, is a Lebowski reference, since somebody asked.

For the record, I am similar to the Dude in four respects.* First, we’re both unemployed. Second, we both smoke weed. Third, we both don’t like the Eagles. Fourth, we both abide. There, I’m afraid, the similarities end.

* I mean, beyond the fact that we’re both cis-het white middle class American men, and the raft of similarities that come with those designations.