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Friday, September 18, 2009

On the Plains of Marathon

Week Two
Goal: To run four miles per day, culminating in a long run of five miles on Saturday, 19 September, 2009

Mile Total: 25
Actual Miles Run: 20

Endnotes: This was a difficult week for reaching my Goal because of various factors, most notably the weather was crappy all week* and I simply didn't have much time to devote to four mile jogs. So I improvised and shortened my daily runs to three miles so I could fit them in everyday. I also flip-flopped the Saturday dates for my five mile run and just got it out of the way on Saturday, 12 September, 2009. What I realized by that long run is: 1.) I need to make sure my mp3 player is up-to-date because there is nothing worse than realizing half-way through a five mile jog that you now have to listen to the same batch of songs you just finished up** and 2.) I am still way too out of shape to pull off four mile jogs everyday***.

But this week of running, while physically taxing, paid enormous dividends in the thinking-crap-up category. Among the various brainstorms that passed between my ears were a short story collection project that I will be starting with my friend****, just about everything that was featured on this blog this week, as well as several other features for the coming weeks. All in all, not a bad way to spend an half hour every morning.

Hopefully this upcoming week I will be able to get up to four mile jogs at least for a few of the days. Here's to strapping them shoes on. Cheers!


Week Three
Goal: To begin the running week with another five mile jog on Saturday, 19 September, 2009 and then run 4 miles per day after that.

Mile Total: 25



*The best props I can give myself for this somewhat lackluster week was that I actually got out there and ran three miles in the rain on Wednesday. What a trooper, right? Right? Anyone?
**I realize this might seem strange to anyone who's entered the 21st century and owns an iPod but I still have this crappy no-name brand mp3 player which only allows me to store about 2 or 3 hours of music, which after a week of listening to the same songs gets really old.
***Ah ha! So there you go, this is the real reason I cut back to three miles a day this week, because I am getting older and I am still out of shape. Plus my back has been killing me from lifting what seems like a 400 pound baby all the time.
****Wait for it...this is gonna become a major feature of this blog, the progress my friend and I make in writing, editing, and self-publishing our own short story collection and novella. I suspect it will be difficult, but that is why we're doing it. Plus it will be loads of fun and a great experience for us. We will for sure keep you all updated on our progress, where you can get the book, where we will be promoting it once it comes out, etc...

Weekly Top Five

Beatles Edition!

1. "A Day in the Life"
Lennon/McCartney
Released on the album "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band" 1 June, 1967



When “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” was released in June of 1967 it was an instant critical and commercial success. Building on the experimentation of “Revolver” “Sgt. Pepper’s” took that sophistication and refinement to such an intense degree that the album became an instant classic*. The album was a whimsical and wide-ranging collection of songs that broke the mold for what could be included on an album together, but no song captured the fractured and disparate feel of the record quite like The Beatles penultimate masterpiece, “A Day in the Life”.

Formed from the combining of two song fragments, one from Paul McCartney and one from John Lennon, neither fragment would have stood quite so tall by itself, and yet once combined they took on a life of their own, creating a tour de force the like of which has seldom been equaled.

It’s fitting that the best Beatles song ever recorded would be one of the few that actually featured significant songwriting contributions from both Lennon and McCartney. The bulk of the song is Lennon’s folk piano ballad referencing several personal and contemporary stories in his classic mid-career postmodern surrealism, which straddles McCartney’s up-tempo vignette.

But it is the monstrous, swelling cacophony that splits and ends the song that is the most iconic. With nothing to go on but the vague instructions from Paul to “make it sound like the end of the world” George Martin, in one of his more ingenious turns, had an entire 40-piece orchestra play all at once, moving steadily up their scales in whatever manner and speed each individual player felt like. What emerged was a terrifying, all-encompassing shriek that builds and builds until finally, when it seems it can’t get any shriller, resolves to what has to be one of the only single piano chords that can be recognized without any context. The chord trails off for nearly a full minute leaving the listener awestruck and the power of the previous 4 minutes.

“A Day in the Life” is a singular achievement that was only made possible because all involved were so immensely talented at what they did. Lennon and McCartney brought to the table catchy and interesting song fragments, and legendary performances, Martin helped splice the ideas together into a cohesive and extraordinary whole. And in the end the five of them created one of the most brilliant recordings of all time, and certainly the greatest of The Beatles’ short but staggering career.

There you go; the five best Beatles songs of all time. What do you think? Did I hit the nail on the head? What songs should have been included?

5. "Paperback Writer"
4. "All You Need is Love"
3. "Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever"
2. "Yesterday"
1. "A Day in the Life"



*For instance the weekend after the album came out Jimi Hendrix, who had already become obsessed with the album, covered the album’s opener, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band”, at one of his shows in London.

Word of the Day!

And now that Katy got me thinking about this, I've decided to dedicate today's Word of the Day! to yet another oft-misused word, the infamous irony.

irony [ahy-ruh-nee, ahy-er-]
-noun, plural -nies
1. the use of words to convey a meaning that is opposite of its literal meaning: the irony of her reply, "How nice!" when I said I had to work all weekend.
2. Literature.
a. a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually ostensibly stated.
b. (esp. in contemporary writing) a manner of organizing a work so as to give full expression to contradictory or complementary impulses, attitudes, etc., esp. as a means of indicating detachment from a subject, theme, or emotion.
3. an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.
4. an objectively sardonic style of speech or writing.

Sheesh! I can't possibly understand how people get this wrong all the time, it's soooo straight-forward*. I guess we'll sort of sort this out one bullet point at a time.

1. The example given is really a very good one. Sarcasm is usually a good example of irony, and is of course used in about 99.9999% of Generation Xers' day to day conversations, but while sarcasm is almost always ironic, irony is not always sarcasm. It's just the manner that our generation chooses to employ irony most often. For an interesting discussion of this distinction go here.

2a and b. The best example I can think of right now of irony being used in this manner is the book "Slaughterhouse Five". In this book Vonnegut continually uses humorously detached language to depict extraordinarily horrible events (i.e. the transport of thousands of sick Allied soldiers into German Concentration camps). The tone is completely incongruous with the subject matter and hence ironic. Another good example of this sort of irony is just about any postmodern author after about 1970**, with an especial shout-out to David Foster Wallace's gorgeous "Infinite Jest"***.

3. This is the trickiest of the definitions because it leads most people to what I've dubbed the "Alanis Fallacy". In her song "Ironic" she lists a series of situations that she claims are ironic when really all of them are simply darkly coincidental. For example she says that "an old man turned 98, he won the lottery, then died the next day" which on the surface appears to, in fact, be ironic. But here is the subtle difference that actually makes this coincidental: His winning the lottery in no way contributed to his dying the next day. See? The ironic event has to somehow influence the outcome in some sort of twist. If she had said instead, "An old man turned 98, he won the lottery and was so overjoyed he had a heartattack and died on the spot" that would have been ironic.

4. This is more or less repeating definition #1 in a more generalized manner.

Well, there you go. I hope that helps clear that up. TTFN!



*See people? I'm being ironic.
**Delillo, Easton, et. al.
***I will be posting about my experience reading this book hopefully next week. Don't be fooled by DFW's extensive use of irony in IJ, he uses it to such deft effect that rather than being detached a cold, this book is one of the most emotional and heartfelt pieces of literature ever. He uses irony, the dialectic currency of our postmodern generation, in order to get us to accept honesty and sincerity. It's brilliant in ways I will never fully understand.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Word of the Day!

In honor of my friend at Katy Streams Her Consciousness, I have decided to make today's Word of the Day! busybody.

busybody [biz-ee-bod-ee]
-noun, plural -bodies.
a person who pries into or meddles in the affairs of others.

I, for one, have misused this word my entire life primarily because I never bothered to look it up and my internal definition of the word seemed to gel with everyone else's. I think the reason why this word is so often misused is because the actual meaning is very different from the combination of the two words that make it up. "Busy" has seven different definitions, the most often cited being "full of or characterized by activity" while "body" is obviously most often referring to the "physical person of an individual" hence the literal definition implied by the connecting of these two words would be that a busybody is one who is unable to refrain from physical activity. That is how I have always understood the word.

But apparently I'm incorrect. It seems that the real definition of busybody utilizes a far rarer definition for the first root word: "busy: officious; meddlesome; prying". This understanding of the word "busy" combined with "body" then takes on a different character, one far more suited to the actual definition.

Thank you, Katy, for calling my attention to this misusage.

Weekly Top Five

Beatles Edition!

2. "Yesterday"
Lennon/McCartney
Released on the album "Help!" 6 August, 1965
Secondary release in the US as a single on 13 September, 1965
A-Side; "Act Naturally" B-Side

So, what sort of person simply dreams up one of the most popular, and covered, songs of all time? Sir Paul McCartney, that’s who. McCartney has repeatedly insisted in interviews that he woke up one morning with the now-classic melody of “Yesterday” stuck in his head and, after spending all day trying to find out where he’d heard it from, finally resigned himself to the fact that he’d just dreamed up one of the greatest songs of all time.

When he took the number to George Martin for possible inclusion on The Beatles fifth studio album, “Help!”, Martin chose* to support McCartney’s quiet, melancholic tune with only a sparse and subtle string quintet, and it is largely that choice that has made for Pop music history, for the arrangement allowed the beauty of the melody (the song’s strongest asset) to emerge. As the first Beatles record to feature only one member, “Yesterday” is practically a McCartney solo record, and yet it is a testament to The Beatles’ fidelity to one another that no toes were stepped on when Capitol chose to release the record as a single.

“Yesterday” stands at a seminal point in The Beatles evolution from Pop Music moptops to true Rock pioneers: it was the first record to feature only one member; it was the first to feature exclusively non-rock-canon instruments; and it, along with John Lennon’s “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”, signaled a darker edge to the duo’s writing. The Beatles had recorded and released several now-classic anthems before “Yesterday” but none achieved the same sort of instant celebrity that is reserved only for the most unrelenting of musical masterpieces. It was the type of song that takes on a life of it’s own and instantly establishes itself as a classic piece of Pop bliss. It truly was as if it had always existed and Paul McCartney simply channeled it into existence.

Now, 40 years after it’s first release, and nearly 1500 covers later, it is sometimes hard to see how incredibly beautiful and haunting “Yesterday” is, but hopefully with the release of the new stereo master recordings last week classic songs like “Yesterday” can take on a new life and spawn 1500 more covers.

5. "Paperback Writer"
4. "All You Need is Love"
3. "Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever"
2. "Yesterday"


*wisely I would say.

Picks of the Week

Even though this blog is supposed to be dedicated to being creative, as you can see I’ve already strayed a bit from the formula to include various political or personal topics of interest. And since I all but bleed college football in the fall I figured I would throw in a little of the ole’ pigskin flavor as well.

So, every Thursday for the rest of the season I’m going to make my predictions for who is gonna win the top biggest games of the weekend and my justification* for the picks.

Sorry I missed Weeks One and Two.

Here goes:

No. 14 Georgia Tech at No. 20 Miami (FL)
Georgia Tech is gonna have to play smarter than it did against Clemson last week in order to pull one over on Miami. Miami has worked hard to get to the position they’re in and with the game in Miami I don’t think Tech can rely on a 24-point lead going into the 2nd quarter. Still, I give this one to Georgia Tech because I don’t think Miami is quite there yet.
Georgia Tech 32      Miami 24


No. 8 California at Minnesota
As much as I’d like to root for the Big 10 in this match-up I would be insane to suggest that Minnesota has the goods to get past Jahvid Best and his Golden Bears. Cal runs away with this one.
California 45      Minnesota 17


Eastern Michigan at No. 25 Michigan
I shouldn’t even be commenting on this one because the bias factor is so high, but I think it’s fair to say that Michigan, helmed by true freshman phenom Tate Forcier, should be able to win this one by a couple of touchdowns. Watch for a possible upset though after the Notre Dame victory and the toughness Eastern showed against Northwestern last week.
Michigan 35      Eastern Michigan 17


Tennessee at No. 1 Florida
I’m sorry to all my peeps in the Volunteer state but y’all gonna get creamed. I hate Florida as much as anyone, outside of the state of Florida who doesn’t wear cut-off jean shorts, but they’re stacked this year and despite not actually playing an even semi-decent team yet, they will come with everything they have…and that will be more than enough to bury the Vols in the Swamp.
Florida 45      Tennessee 24


No. 3 USC at Washington
This probably will be a blow-out but with Washington holding tight to LSU and then winning it’s first game in about a billion years and USC coming off it’s huge win against Ohio State, look for a possible upset here. Still, I think USC is one of the best teams in the country and I don’t think they will lose here.
USC 35      Washington 14


No. 19 Nebraska at No. 13 Virginia Tech
This one is gonna be interesting. Both teams have a lot to prove: Nebraska that they are back in the hunt as a Big 12 contender, and VT that they are still in the National hunt despite the crippling loss to Alabama. Given the relatively equal merits of both teams I’m forced to simply decide based on that X-iest of factors, home field advantage.
Virginia Tech 35      Nebraska 32


No. 18 Utah at Oregon
Sorry Oregon. Just because you can beat Purdue at home by a field goal doesn’t mean you can get passed this tough-as-nails Utah squad. I think you get your jocks handed to you.
Utah 28      Oregon 10


Michigan State at Notre Dame
Probably no one outside the Midwest cares about this game, especially after MSU choked against Central Michigan last week, but this game has pretty big implications for both the Big 10 and for Notre Dame’s season. ND for their part got bit hard by the choke bug last weekend against Michigan and should be looking to exact revenge against any team with Michigan in their name. MSU just needs to win or else risk being “that team that people thought was going to be a player in the Big 10 and ended up just losing like usual”. I think Clausen is on point and the home field advantage messes with MSU’s head.
Notre Dame 35      Michigan State 21


No. 17 Cincinnati at Oregon State
Five years ago no one would have cared about this game, but what a difference a few years makes. Cinci is the front-runner in the Big East right now and Oregon St. could really use a good statement game before they head into the USC-Cal gauntlet they’ll have to face to win the Pacific Coast. I think Oregon St. is the sleeper and will bite Cincinnati where it hurts.
Oregon State 28      Cincinnati 21


Florida State at No. 7 Brigham Young
Brigham Young is on a roll and Florida State almost lost to Jacksonville State. BYU takes it by two touchdowns.
Brigham Young 35      Florida State 21


No. 23 Georgia at Arkansas
Apparently Arkansas has had this game circled since the spring, which should have ole’ Uga shaking in his collar. Winning last week against South Carolina should help Joe Cox have a little more confidence in his own scoring ability but I think Arkansas is gonna bring it hard and tough to the Dawgs. Still, I don’t want to upset my wife so I’m gonna have to say the Dawgs win this one on the road.
Georgia 38      Arkansas 35


Texas Tech at No. 2 Texas
Ah sweet revenge! Texas will be looking to make up for that last minute touchdown last year by beating the living tar out of Texas Tech at home. And I think they’ll do it. Expect a classic Big 12-style shoot out with Texas the school left standing.
Texas 52      Texas Tech 45



*Sometimes my justification will be nothing more than guessing. Other times it will be sheer bias. I’m a graduate of University of Michigan and I am a Wolverine through and through so you will never, not once, see me predict a Michigan loss. Furthermore, my wife is a Georgia Bulldog so I won’t probably be predicting any of their losses either. Sorry for my lack of journalistic integrity.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mes Bons Mots

I loved you before I’d even seen you, when you were nothing more than a thought and a whimsy and a fluttering in Your Mother’s stomach, when you were a piece of news to tell friends and family and a reason to clean house and get serious about moving to Atlanta. I loved you when you were a staticky rhythm, a heartbeat, heard through a tiny mids-heavy speaker. I loved you when you were a black and white image on a screen in a doctor’s office, a recreation of the radiographic waves sent there and back and displayed on a monitor in the pulled-Venetian darkness of a Nashville afternoon, winter. I loved you from the moment you were an alien thud and ridge of the skin of Your Mother’s growing belly. I loved you during those moments when you were this spectral something, amorphous and undetermined but like something more than in our heads, that lay between Your Mother and me even as we held each other tight from fear and expectation and excitement and awe and hurting backs. I loved you as I shuffled, bleary-eyed, late night, to the hospital kitchen and piled small cartons of cranberry and orange juice into my arms for Your Mother, because the contractions were too close together and she hadn’t slept in 27 hours. I loved you even as I held Your Mother’s hand and as she screamed and as I saw the top of your black-haired head and the lights were turned on bright in anticipation and as the doctor instructed Your Mother to push and she did and she screamed and she did. I loved you all of those times, and I loved Your Mother all of those times too, and I loved what we’d made. Together.

*

…but then I saw you, on the table, under lights and heat and alive and eyes open and not just some idea in my head but real and alive and eyes open, and just then, at that moment, I realized that I’d never actually known what love even was, that I’d been a man who didn’t even know he was drowning until the lifeline was in his hands. I’d never known. Not until just that moment…

*

And then I loved you all over again but this time with the fullness that I’d never known was there but which you found in me and which is all yours, and will be yours forever. I loved you unashamedly, fiercely, without pride, without expecting anything in return, without worry of how I looked, or concern for my hair or clothes or weight, like the man in that raging sea, lifeline in hand. I surrendered my helplessness gladly, to you and to us and to Your Mother and to everything that will come later. I surrendered whatever I’d known about myself before that moment, realizing that everything that had been was like a beam of light that would forever, gloriously, be bent by the prism of you, alive, eyes open.

I loved you because I had no other choice but to love you. You are you.

And I love you.

Word of the Day!

kismet [kiz-mit, -met, kis-]
-noun
fate; destiny

Also, kismat [kiz-muht, kis-]

Tonic Water

Just in case y'all were freaked out by the Jokerish nihilism of Anonymous here’s a little tonic for your upset stomach:

from Guardian UK
The Untergunther
Wikipedia

There is of course an ethical issue here* but it seems to me that whatever qualms one might have about private citizens trespassing on prized public lands should be outweighed by the very fact that these private citizens then went and did what the custodians of the property (the state) were incapable of doing. If these properties are for public use then the Public has the right to demand that they be taken care of, no? Any thoughts?


And, here's another interesting phenomenon:

from Denver Westword
RLSH
from CNN

See? The world isn't such a bad place afterall.



*Like, for instance, whether it is ok for people to trespass and tinker with public property because they think they are doing good? What if they'd screwed the Pantheon up, ya know?

Weekly Top Five

Beatles Edition!

3. "Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever"
Lennon/McCartney
Single; released 17 February, 1967
Secondary release on album "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band" 1 June, 1967
Double A-Side

Either one of these songs would deserve a spot on this list on their own but when The Beatles decided to release them as a Double A-Side single in February of 1967 the two songs were inextricably linked in the minds of Beatlephiles across the globe. The choice to release them as co-headliners though is not as bizarre as it first appears since the two songs are almost like different sides of one coin. The subject matters for both were taken from very real places in John and Paul’s native Liverpool (the Strawberry Field Salvation Army orphanage and the commercial district Penny Lane) but in both cases the songwriters used these iconic places from their youths as springboards for their new-found drug-fueled surreal explorations.

Arguably the most celebrated of the two, John Lennon’s contribution “Strawberry Fields Forever” was actually the least commercially successful Beatles single up to that point, only reaching #8 on the US singles chart*. But what it lacked in initial commercial support it more than made up for in critical success.

From the moment of its release “Strawberry Fields Forever” was a polarizing song, instantly alienating much of The Beatles younger fan base with it’s oblique, Post-Modern lyrics**, trippy, slow-mo vocalization, and diffracted orchestration, while grabbing the older, college crowd with exactly the same qualities. The Beatles had been hovering on the fringes of drug-culture cool since “Rubber Soul” but it was this song that really blew the doors wide open and revealed The Beatles as the head of the new guard of pop musician.

“Strawberry Field Forever” is the penultimate psychedelic pop song and it immediately became the de facto template for all psychedelia that followed. Created from the combining of two disparate recordings, which George Martin combined by speeding one up and slowing down the other, “Strawberry Fields Forever” displays brilliantly the sort of Alice-in-Wonderland diffraction that would become a hallmark of 1960s psychedelia. Seemingly incongruent elements float in and out of the song in dream-like repose, and yet the over-all feel is not necessarily calming, rather there is a bit at the edges that is at once refreshing and discomforting. This bite gets free reign in the last few seconds of the song when the fade out morphs into a dissonant cacophony that smashes the dreaminess into a million bits.

The supposed sugar that makes the psychedelic medicine of “Strawberry Fields” go down is “Penny Lane”, a jaunty, infinitely infectious tune which, due in large part to it’s catchiness, is often denigrated unfairly as the more disposable of the two songs****. This is a common complaint with Paul McCartney-penned songs, that he was too interested in melody than creating interesting soundscapes or dealing with difficult subject matter, but in the case of “Penny Lane” this assessment would be a bit shortsighted. There is far more going on here than meets the eye.

For one, the orchestration of the song shows McCartney’s increased interest in creating songs that could not necessarily be reproduced on stage—an interest that would yield impressive results six months later on “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” but was only getting tested here. Unlike 98% of the previous Beatles catalog, guitars are relegated to the background in lieu of pounding pianos, various bells, and a horn section that is just as recognizable as the mellotron at the beginning of “Strawberry Fields”, combining to create a song that is at once fresh-sounding and yet quintessentially Beatlesque.

Secondly, “Penny Lane” proves a significant step forward in McCartney’s evolution as a lyricist. While John chose Post-Modern obfuscation and irony to express loss of innocence, Paul delved further into the surrealism he’d started experimenting with on “Revolver” in order to highlight the joys of white-washed joys of childhood. It is the subtlety of Paul’s experimentation that makes his songs so easy to downplay, but with lines like “Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout / a pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray / and though she feels as though she’s in a play / she is anyway” highlight a complexity of thought and a penchant for phrase-turning that has been a hallmark of McCartney-esque surrealism ever since.

In February of 1967 The Beatles released on an unsuspecting public one of the most iconic and revolutionary singles of all time, one that was at once nostalgic and progressive, and which has held the fascination of music lovers for over 40 years. “Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever” is one of the greatest musical achievements of the 20th century, and certainly is the most impressive display of psych-pop sensibilities that will ever be displayed.

5. "Paperback Writer"
4. "All You Need is Love"
3. "Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever"



*"Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" despite being on the same single were "released" seperately to radio stations and so the town songs had different chart positions in the US. "Penny Lane" reached #1.
**To my mind "Strawberry Fields" might be one of the first cases of Post-Modernism, which was pretty new at the time, in pop music lyrics. The whole song is ironic in that the music and vocals are dream-like and evocative of childhood, yet the lyrical content itself is fraught with self-doubt and loss, even sadness. Lines like "Always, no, sometimes, think it's me / but you know I know when it's a dream / I think I know I mean er yes but it's all wrong / that is I think I disagree" show a great deal of confusion as well as utilize the idioms of actual speech which had been heretofore unheard-of in pop music.
***despite the fact that "Penny Lane" was the higher charting of the two, it is today the less talked about.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

None of us are as cruel as all of us

A few years ago a grand thought occurred to me. I realized that my generation and I exist at this historical nexus of technology, global inter-connectivity, and violent tension that is unprecedented in all of humanity. Never has Man had simultaneously the wealth, technology, and infrastructure that we do today; anyone can essentially talk to anyone instantaneously no matter what part of the globe either individual is located. Ideas and creative expression and images and news can be transmitted and processed in real time with none of the lag-time in propagation that earlier generations even thirty years ago had to deal with.*

In the past people were divided by the very real physical boundaries of space, and distance, and language but today the only divisions that exist are conceptual ones (i.e. religion, politics, lifestyle). To make this period in history even more unique the percentage of the global population under the age of 35 is nearly half of the total population, which means this demographic could have an enormous influence on global politics, wealth distribution, propagation of violence, etc.

So this begs the question: With all of this global influence, wealth, ability to communicate real-time with one another, and with language no longer a viable barrier to communication, what would happen if every person on the planet under the age of 35 were to agree to certain terms in regards to the aforementioned oft-debated topics? For example if such a large group were to, say, agree to never, in their lifetime, no matter what happened, fight physically with one another, would not the massive influence of 50% of the world’s population exert such enormous pressure on the other 50%** that the political and economic forces that drive war would cease to exist?***

It is an enormously idealistic thought, but one that raises my spirits about the possibilities for my generation. We are so often told that everything’s already been done and that there is little to nothing left for us to do, and yet here is something that could be done, some positive mark that we could leave on the world; something that could never have been done before this exact time in history. The one resource our generation has in spades is sheer numbers and if those numbers were used for the benefit of humanity there is literally nothing we couldn’t do.

Numbers, that is the key. Large numbers of people getting together to effect change.

Numbers.

And then I read these:

Bitch Magazine

Nine MSN
Wikipedia

Numbers. None of us are as cruel as all of us.








*Take the recent Iranian elections as example; no matter how hard the government tried to crack down lots and lots of images and news was leaked out of the country via social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook and much of the world was able to practically witness the election and ensuing fallout first hand.
**Assuming that the other 50% would not also be united.
***Sort of like the hypothetical question: if all of China was to jump in the air at the same time would they create a massive earthquake when they landed?

Little Crow's Eye View

My First Daddy's Day

Well, my first Father's Day came and went and I gotta tell you it was a bit of an anti-climax. I guess no one really explained it all to me properly because I was under the impression that on Fathers Day you got to pick out a new father. Something involving a stork or some such, I never really understood the details.

But that isn't what happens at all, let me tell you. I mean, maybe that's what happens when Fathers Day happens to fall on opposite day* but real Fathers Day is balls. Seriously, here I was all geeked up about getting rid of that bearded freak, DT**, when I woke up to find that not only was DT still my daddy but Fathers Day was actually some government-sanctioned festival celebrating the very bearded layabout I'd so looked forward to giving the boot.

Needless to say I was ticked off, and to make things worse M insisted I wear this horrible mess of a onesie declaring my affection for the Ginger-haired ape. I protested my shabby treatment by blowing gas bubbles onto my lips, but neither of them seemed to notice my displeasure. So I pooed my diaper. I know, I know, it was uncivilized and base but I had no other choice. If I hadn't done something quickly M and DT might have done that face touching thing that so disgusts me.***

Anyway, after my diaper change and some gift exchanging DT put me in the 'car seat'.**** After the way I had been treated all morning I was fully primed for a good ole fashioned meltdown. I wasn't gonna let this go down like that so I was moving the arms and kicking the legs and doing my little coughing thing, you know, really starting the car (insert video of starting car) and just as I was about to really start screaming M showed up with a bottle of The Formula. Damn that woman! It's like she has telepathy or something. How does she always know when I'm too hungry to repel The Formula's powers? I need to do more research into this...

Well, I tried my best to keep the tantrum going but there was nothing I could do, I still have no defenses against The Formula.***** And to make things worse I couldn't keep my mouth closed because I still have that damn sucking reflex and I was so hungry. Oh body how you betray me! Well I tried to resist but slowly I was overcome by the power of The Formula and I was lulled into a deep trance filled with blobs of color and hideous bearded faces.

When I woke M and DT had transported me to a restaurant. Another restaurant!****** I don't know the name of the place******* but trust me you don't want to eat there. The place smelled like pancakes and there wasn't a single good sucking boob in the whole darn waitstaff. M and DT seemed to like it, but that isn't much of a recommendation. You should see the crap they eat. I shudder to think about it.

How do you like them stinking apples, Beardo!?

I don't know why but I was feeling rather generous (perhaps it was the after effects of the Ambien in The Formula) and so I sat politely by while M and DT finished their meals, using the time to try to figure out what exactly those crumply things on the sides of my head are for.******** Fortunately the restaurant portion of the day was mercifully short and before I knew it M pulled out another bottle of The Formula (honestly I don't know where the heck she's storing it, but she seems to have a never-ending supply of the stuff) and soon I was drugged again. When I woke I found myself in the most disgusting, dazzling, bizarre display of corporate hubris I've ever seen: the World of Coke.

And that my friends is another story altogether. Stay tuned for the whole tawdry tale. Next time. Next time, my friends.

Until then, that's the word.

Little Crow




*which is another thing I must not understand properly. When the hell is opposite day? From what I can gather it starts whenever M asks DT to take out the trash.
**My excitement level was so high that I even magnanimously forewent soiling my diaper in TJ Maxx when M and I were buying a gift for what I thought at the time was my new daddy. I told M to get the beer stein gift set^ but she ignored my suggestion and went instead with this ridiculous 'I Love My Daddy' blah blah blah onesie. I told her I wasn't gonna wear that gaudy crap^^ but she acted like she didn't understand me and I was forced to submit eventually to M's domineering will. Just wait til I can lift my head on my own. Then you will know my wrath, Devil Woman.
^I mean, what guy wouldn't want beer steins, right?
^^Being a baby these days is all about aloofness and wicked cool not crazed parental partisanship.

***after all I don't know who DT thinks he is but Moms is mine, all mine, no matter how insufferably obnoxious I may find her sometimes.
****which, for those of you who may not know what I'm talking about, is a medieval torture device used to subdue babies for transport to and from bars and restaurants.
*****Just what the 'formula' is I haven't been able to find out yet, but I suspect it has trace amounts of liquid Ambien and possibly a bowel relaxing narcotic.
******I swear, I know I haven't been here long but I am astounded by the range and variety of these feeding troughs for adults. And none of them, not one, serves an ounce of BM! How do they stay in business!?*******To be honest I didn't pay much attention. I scanned the menu for a moment but wrote the place off when all I saw was biscuits and muffins. I mean I like carbs as much as the next baby but I prefer mine from the Boob.
********Update: I overheard a conversation the other day between a 2 year old and her mother and it seems as though these crumply things are called 'ears' and they are used for 'hearing'. Whatever the heck that is.

Little Crow's Eye View

Yo Gabba Gabba!


I'm sorry to do that to y'all right out the gate but I figured that little mindbender of a clip can do more to introduce you to my little corner of this blog than some dumb-magumb "My name is..." post.*

A few important details that you can glean from the preceding doozy:

Firstly, I'm one adorable little man, ain't I? And I can beat all y'alls babies in a dance off any day. Come wit' it.

Secondly, my parents** have no qualms about bending the norms of American society as it relates to Child Exploitation especially when it comes to entertainment. Seriously guys, you didn't even wait 3 months to become stage parents.

And lastly, DT has a seriously unhealthy fascination with the creepily psychotropic sesame-street-cum-futuristic-dance-competition show Yo Gabba Gabba. For the uninitiated this show is one of the most screwed up things I've ever seen in my life.***

But I digress. Yo Gabba Gabba. So, yeah, like from what I can gather apparently a homosexual clown in a multi-colored spandex suit and afro like hangs out with monster toys and hosts bizarre future-dance-offs between children, who are obviously blown on amphetamines, and the whole thing is like in the name of education. Apparently. From what I can gather. But I'm gonna tell you, after 3 weeks of watching this mushroom trip of a show, I honestly haven't understood a single f-ing word that clown or his monster friends have said to me except Yo Gabba Gabba. Yo Gabba Gabba. What does that even mean!? Ahhhhhh! If I'm supposed to be learning something from this I'm not sure what it is, unless of course it's to stay the heck away from clowns with multi-colored afros carrying boomboxes filled with singing, dancing monsters.

Because they'll make you dance too.

If any of you would like to actually check this stuff out then here's a link: Yo Gabba Gabba.

Be warned, though, this show is apparently highly addictive to adult males between the ages of 21-30, so if you have one if those in your house make sure to poop your diaper or throw up right before it comes on to save your household the embarrassment of an adult watching a kids' show.

So, anyway, that's what you need to know about my little section of this blog for now. To recap:

1.) I'm hot and a great dancer.
2.) My rents are shameless.
3.) Yo Gabba Gabba is really messed up.


Word.


*But here are the details anyway: My name is Collins and I'm 3 1/2 months old and DT gave me this slice of his blog to chat about what it's like to be his kid^. I will be popping up periodically, whenever I get the chance, to update you on the life and times of the littlest Crow.
^Further proof of what an arrogant, self-centered bizarro-bags he is.
**who will be herein referred to as Moms and Daddy T, or M and DT for short.
***which has admittedly only been about 3 months so there isn't much that doesn't blow my mind right now. I mean, just the other day I realized those white blobs that keep scratching my face are my hands. My hands! Talk about a mindf**k.

My Name is Collins and I Like to Dance!

Word of the Day!

puissant [pyoo-uh-suhnt, pyoo-is-uhnt, pwis-uhnt]
-adjective Literary
powerful; mighty; potent.

Weekly Top Five

Beatles Edition!

4. "All You Need is Love"
Lennon/McCartney
Single; original telecast 25 June, 1967
Secondary release on the album "Magical Mystery Tour" 27 November, 1967
A-Side; "Baby, You're a Rich Man" B-Side

Arguably no Beatles song has quite captured the idyllic zeitgeist of the 1960s quite like “All You is Love”. Released in mid-1967, the song was written by John Lennon as The Beatles contribution to a live global telecast that brought together 18 different countries in one celebratory, and historic, satellite feed. Recorded and broadcast completely live the song would be worthy of a spot on this list for any number or compelling reasons: the historic occasion of its creation, the iconic opening*, the classic fade-out which features Paul singing a brief snippet of the earlier Beatles hit “She Loves You”. But what really sets this song apart from the rest of The Beatles’ stellar catalog is the optimism and singularity of its message.

In multiple interviews through the years Paul McCartney has said that “All You Need is Love” is his favorite Beatles song because it perfectly encapsulates what he feels is the over-all message of the band: that Love is the only thing on Earth which is powerful enough to defeat all manner of evils. Though on the surface “All You Need is Love” appears rather banal, it’s sing-song melody and backing vocals and simplicity of lyric belies a remarkable depth of message. Lines like “There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known / nothing you can see that isn’t shown / there’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be / it’s easy” exude the sort of anything-is-possible attitude that characterized the Summer of Love and yet are universal enough** that generations of music listeners have been able to hang whatever meaning they want on them. It is the universality of the message, which remains as true today as it was 40 years ago, which has made this song one of the most beloved pop songs of all time despite the relative pickling of attitudes through the years.

Furthermore, “All You Need is Love” is a textbook example of 3 minutes of pure pop genius. Nearly every moment of the song is iconic. From the aforementioned intro and outro to the doo-wop backing vocals; from the jaunty, jazz-age horn section to the pitch-perfect lyricism of George Harrison’s guitar solo, “All You Need is Love” is a song that seems both to exist in a specific time and yet outside of time entirely***, existing both as an idyllic and potent symbol of the Love Generation and a symbol of optimism and stubborn idealism in the face of a steadily growing tide of cynicism.

There is more than enough distrust and hate in the world and as much for that reason as any of the previously mentioned, “All You Need is Love” is my pick for 4th best Beatles song.

5. "Paperback Writer"
4. "All You Need is Love"


*Lifted from the French National Anthem.
**and contain a certain Lennon-ish underlying darkness in my estimation. I mean, “No one you can save that can’t be saved”? That’s a classic Lennon kiss off if I’ve ever heard one.
***As all great songs do.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Weekly Top Five

In honor of all the craziness surrounding The Beatles over the last few days I've decided to dedicate this week's Top 5 to the Fab Four from Liverpool. I can't actually fully articulate how much this band has meant to me through the years, but since I first discovered their aural charms well over a decade ago they have become musical, literary, fashion, and lifestyle icons for me. Nearly everything I've done in any artistic capacity has been informed by their generation-spanning musical range and unprecedented mix of whimsy, psychadelia, lyricism, and good ole fashioned fun. They are the first, the best, and the last, and I am overjoyed that they have found a way to bring their music to a whole new generation of fans.

I realize Top 5 lists are a bit cliched so I wanted to steer away from something that would be too easy for me to do (i.e. top 5 Beatles albums, top 5 Beatles moments, best 5 members, those sorts of things) and instead go for something that would make me sweat a little in the making. So, I've decided to dedicate this week's Weekly Top Five to the five "best" Beatles songs. Considering The Beatles recorded and released well over a 300 songs during their 8 years as recording artists I figured this would be sufficiently difficult, and controversial. Since The Beatles wrote very very very few bad songs I've decided to focus less on how good the song is and more how important it is/was to pop music and/or their career, and how clever it was in regards to the craft of songwriting. This is by no means meant to be a definitive list so let me know how you feel about my picks. Trust me, I won't be offended if you disagree. the Beatles are like a Rorschach test, reasonable minds can very much disagree.

So, here goes:

Weekly Top Five: Beatles Edition

5. "Paperback Writer"
Lennon/McCartney
Single; released 10 June, 1966
A-Side; "Rain" B-Side

Like "Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever" a year later, the one-two punch of "Paperback Writer/Rain" heralded a drastic change a'comin in the Fab Four's sound. In the psych-pop firestorm that was "Revolver" many would forget that it was actually the fuzzed-out guitars and Beach Boys-on-acid harmonies of "Paperback Writer" that got the inferno started that heady summer of 1966 when The Beatles officially came out of the drug closet and waved the banner of psychadelia high and proud. Featuring a fuzz-guitar sound that bands have been trying their damndedest to replicate for 40 years, and a lyric that seems at once throw-away and deeply poignant, "Paperback Writer" is a classic Beatles track from the first multi-tracked syllable.

The 10th #1 single in a row for The Beatles, "Paperback Writer" was the current hit as the boys criss-crossed the globe on their last world tour before calling it quits and focusing exclusively on their studio output. So, the song not only exists as a sort of John the Baptist to "Revolver's" Jesus but it also signals the end of an era of Beatles music which could be dutifully replicated on stage by just the four of them (their next single, and the last before the earth-shattering "Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever", was "Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby" whose songs' orchestrations are so complex that there is no way either song could ever have been satisfactorily recreated on stage without lots of extra musicians).

Aside from it's unique position in history, this song was also ground-breaking in it's construction. It's a rocker whose backbeat is one of the most propulsive in all of Ringo Starr's illustrious repetoire, belying the influence of heavier acts like The Who and Jimi Hendrix who were beginning to emerge in the underground London rock scene (but who were relative unknowns in the US) and were by all accounts bending the ear of Rock royalty like The Beatles and The Stones. It features an all-vocal breakdown that is at once classic early-Beatles and also strangely, psychadelically unsettling, upbeat and subtley sad. The bass was so thumping and complex that engineers at the time thought that it would make the needle skip when played too loud, so in the original mix they boosted the mid's to mask the urgency of the low's.

But above-all "Paperback Writer" is downright catchy. I defy anyone to listen to those first few seconds and not have "Paaaaperbaack Wriiiiter!" stuck in your head all day. It's pure psych-pop genius, and that is why it is the 5th best song The Beatles ever recorded.

Word of the Day!

bucolic [byoo-kol-ik]
-adjective Also, bucolical
1. of or pertaining to shepherds; pastoral.
2. or, pertaining to, or suggesting an idyllic rural life.
-noun
3. a pastoral poem.
4. Archaic. a farmer; shepherd; rustic.