Sunday, May 10, 2009


I am slowly starting the process of preparing for the move to Syracuse. I'm not actually moving until July, but I know how slow I can be when packing all my earthly belongings and I really would like to avoid the inevitable situation on June 29th where I look around and say "hmm, maybe I should pick up some boxes tomorrow?"

Right now most things seem easy to condense and move, but I'm not sure what to do with some of my books. Academic books and the fiction will either go with me or get stored at my mom's new place (oh yeah, my mom is getting a new house, woo!) but I have no idea what to do with what I like to call the "expired" books. A Leonard Maltin movie guide from 1995? Course catalogs from Oberlin? A GRE prep book from before the test changed formats? I don't want to just throw them away, but no library is going to want them. Are these sort of things recyclable? And what about the text books that I don't want and can't seem to sell online? I really don't want to continue schleping these things around, but I can't draw the line between discarding books and burning them -- it makes my soul say "ouch".

Any suggestions?

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Play List: Blarney

I still don't know if I like the song "Poker Face". Theoretically I should -- Lady Gaga seems to be a hybrid of the positive attributes of Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. The first few times I listened to the song it passed the American Bandstand test ("It's got a good beat and you can dance to it"). I heard the chorus once as a ringtone and it sounded like something I would enjoy, though I couldn't fully distinguish what was being said. Something along the lines of "hee-ba-hi, hee-ba-hi hee-ba-ho-bi-ba-na-de-daadaaa (huminana huminana)". It wasn't until one of the students on my staff included it on a mix CD that I was able to put all the pieces together (and rip the track for my own purposes). Yay, now I can have the song on my Shuffle and get the real translation of "hee-ba-hi".

And that's where the problem lies...

With the song playing directly into my ears, I can actually listen to the lyrics and...they're not good. Like, at all. It reminds me of the "poems" that people would write in my high school creative writing class, though to Gaga's credit her metaphors aren't as thoroughly mixed. I realize it is pop music we're talking about here and expectations are low. It's not like this song will be passed to future generations, but the lyrics are so bad that it actually detracts from the listening experience. It's hard to get my dance on when I keep on stopping to say "that's dumb".

There are plenty of instances of this bizarre phenomenon in pop music. Here are some examples:

"A Horse with No Name" ~ America

"There were plants and birds and rocks and things"
"The heat was hot"

"MacArthur Park (Abridged)" ~ Donna Summer


"The War Song" ~ Culture Club

"War, war is stupid / and people are stupid / and love means nothing / in some strange waters." Besides being absolutely insipid, I think this may be a protest in response to the Falkland Islands conflict.

"Video" ~ India.Arie
"Keep your Cristal and your pistol / I'd rather have a pretty piece of crystal"

These songs, with the possible exception of "MacArthur Park", are perfectly serviceable but have the occasional lyric that makes my earholes say "ouch". I have a couple of theories as to the causes of these errors, though it is hard to pinpoint what exactly happened. I can't tell if the songwriter painted him/herself into a corner and didn't want to have to undo an entire section (India.Arie maybe). Or, in America's case, they may have come up with the riff and cadence first and then tried to see what would fit in with whatever story they were trying to tell. A thesaurus might have been handy, but a lack of one didn't stop them. As for Culture Club, this just screams "filler track", though if it was released as a single that might explain why the group dissolved not too much later. Sadly, I think Lady Gaga is expecting people to not pay that much attention, which is fair since it is a great club song -- just keep it off your iPod.

Are there other songs that you have encountered where one word choice or line makes you cringe, affecting your reception of the song?

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Idol Rules: October Surprise

Tamyra Gray. LaToya London. Chris Daughtry. Tonight's elimination is going to add someone to that infamous list of 4th place finishers. What makes this year's fourth place different is that it is going to be epic no matter who ends up getting bounced. Seriously, set your DVR's, VCR's or watch tonight's elimination live, because it will be the most amazing elimination ever...

Part of my premise is based on the fact that I don't believe we are going to get the inevitable Adam Lambert-Danny Gokey finale that people have been predicting since February. Allison and Kris have proven to be quite capable and deserving of reaching this stage of the competition, and the complacency of the voters is going to shake things up.

I think the only person truly safe is Adam, since there was the wake-up call provided by his appearance in the bottom three (though not necessarily bottom two) last week. Although I didn't care for either of his performances last night, they were the most universally well-received so he has quite a big safety net. BUT if he does get eliminated, most likely because of complacency, we may see an entire auditorium shit themselves on live TV.

Eliminating Allison Iraheta will create an interesting scenario. As the last female and contestant-of-color, it's going to annoy quite a large group of viewers. However, based on this week alone, I think her elimination would be the most surprising. Adam and Kris were on the bubble last week. While the individual performances of Allison and Kris were not well received, her duet with Adam did earn her bonus points. I think the consensus would be along the lines of "she didn't deserve to go this week".

The awesomeness of a Kris Allen elimination will have a delayed effect. Besides being saddled with Gokey and a terrible song choice (Styx, seriously?), he then had to immediately follow up that performance. The cards are not in his favor, although his performance was my favorite of the night. What is interesting is that both Kris and Gokey have been attracting the "cougar" vote, a term that makes my poli-sci heart turn ice cold. I have no idea how valid that particular political cleavage is, but there must be some reason that some went with Danny and some with Kris and I don't see them jumping sides. In other words, if Kris is eliminated this week, I can see there being quite a bit of backlash against Danny next week.

And then there's Danny. Everything about the performance, from song choice to execution, just blared "Bad Idea". I haven't had an Idol WTF moment like that since that girl crying for Sanjaya during British Invasion week back in Season 6. Based on this week alone, Danny deserves to go home. However, can you imagine the reaction if one of the presumptive finalists is eliminated this early? Best of all, if Danny does get the boot, he has to do "Dream On" as his sing-out. How awesome is THAT going to be?

What do I think will happen? Kris and Danny will end up on the Seal, but beyond that I'm just not sure. I want Kris to stay (and perhaps win) but I think I may be clinging to a hope that just isn't there.

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