Ramble On

Monday, September 10th, 2012

So I just need to write today.  This is day off #4 and I woke up not wanting to write at all, but knowing that this is how it always goes and I should write something and post it even if I don’t tweet it out.

So let’s talk about what I’d like to write. I was planning on writing about the new show Revolution, which I want to be really good, but suffers from having boring leads at the moment.  I’d really like to continue writing about Silly Songs I Like for Serious Reasons because I think that type of writing is right in my wheelhouse.

I’d love to start writing about Community, but hesitate because A) I love that show and wouldn’t know how to be critical of it (or if I’d even want to) and 2) that show gets a lot of digital ink so a unique take on it might be difficult.  I still think I’m growing as a writer, so I’m fine with the idea of doing it just for practice.

The idealist in me wants to be fine with having the crappy stuff I write out there on the internet (hence putting this ramble on the internet).  It’s an ego check for me to know that at some point the extreme majority of writers suck.  But I also know that writing irregardless of mood, physical status, or bad breath is what matters most.  I should probably start developing stuff and be a little more meticulous with what I do.

At times I think it paralyzed me in journalism school because I wanted things to be great right off the bat, but there’s a happy medium in there.  I just need to learn to write and write and write, then analyze and analyze and analyze.  I think anyone who writes loves the feeling of everything flowing beautifully and every sentence owning its own natural rhythm, but some days (like today) you’re just not going to get that.  So I need to find the discipline to put my mind and focus on what I’m doing.


Music’s Beautiful Pompatus

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

I often get overly defensive about pop music (just ask me what I think about Nickelback).  I have a soft spot for perceived dumb songs with a fun heart and danceable beat.  I figure that if I love Weird Al’s “Party in the C.I.A.”, then some part of me also has to love the Miley Cyrus song he’s parodying. My secret to feeling this kind of love  is not really paying attention to the lyrics.
I mean sure, if I listen to a Ben Folds song enough times I’m going to gain something from the words of the song. And Ani DiFranco demands that I listen to her lyrics by singing the way she does.

But I couldn’t begin to tell you what A Long December is about even though I’ve listen to that song over a hundred times.  I do know that it never fails to make me sad or melancholy if I haven’t heard it in a while.  I’m perfectly capable if analyzing words that are meant to tell a story or have metaphorical meaning beyond their physical presence.  It’s just not my main concern when I’m listening to music.

I’m more interested in the way long comes out of Adam Duritz’s being, making it sound like the longingest long in the history of longs.  I’m hypnotized by the second sung note in “At Last” by Etta James, forcing me to feel something powerful every time I hear it.  And I love that the greatest note the Temptations ever sang has to be sung out of key or it would have been wrong.  The words are important in each of these instances, but it has more to do with the sounds they produce and less to do with the message they project.

In high school choir, we had a student director from Austin Peay teach us for about a month.  He tried to get us to learn this spoken word arrangement called “Geographical Fugue” that I initially found pretty silly (I found a rendition of this piece on the internet…performed by Italians!).  At one point the basses (go basses!) had to repeat the word Titicaca more times than any 16-year old should be expected to say that word with a straight face.  But when the song was working and every one had the rhythm of the piece down it could be mesmerizing.  If you’re like me and you find yourself constantly rapping in the shower, you’ll notice that sometimes the only way to remember the next word in a verse is to say the word right before it out loud.

I guess I’m trying to say that, at least in my world, rhythm has a language all to itself.  I’ve written about music in various forms on my last three days off, but when I read sophisticated music criticism, I have to admit that I’m intimidated.  I read things like this song is catchy but lacks the dynamic propulsion to make it great or the rhyme scheme is primitive at best and I’m baffled.  The part of me that likes understanding everything wants to be able to decipher their code and see the patterns that make this song brilliant and that song marginal, but I honestly, and possibly stupidly, have no idea what they’re talking about.

I do know that music is meaningful to me in a way that nothing else really can be.  Music allows me to escape my thoughts and immediately emote.  It’s a shortcut to feeling something different from the feelings I felt seconds earlier.  I know the words to a lot of songs, but I think I only understand the context of their sounds.

Silly Songs I Like for Serious Reasons

Friday, August 31st, 2012

I’m a sucker for a quirky girl with a cute voice who plays the ukelele. Not saying that this is my type. You can put down your “Mel Bay Learn to Play Fingerstyle Solos for Ukelele” book, ladies. My tastes are broader than that. But there is something about mixing sweetness with additional doses of sweetness that will hook me every time. Undercutting it with bluntness and eventual psychopathy only serves to shock and make you laugh.  But what drew me in was the sweetness.  What keeps me coming back is the beautiful fear.
This song is fantastic at capturing the hesitation and fear that begins every butterfly phase of (even one-sided….okay, especially one-sided) relationships.  Whenever I find myself feeling happy beyond reason, I immediately brace for a hard fall.  Infatuation is exactly like this, except on rare horrible, wonderful occasions you’re being encouraged by another person to ignore that future pain and embrace the moment.  But that doesn’t stop me, and I think most people, from over analyzing something as reflexively simple as sneezes or battling through painful bouts of self-doubt.

My favorite lyric is when Riki Lindholme sings “and I’ll try to be less of a loser.”  Sometimes if I’m being too introspective and self indulgence it’ll make me forget that I’m human, or to be more precise, that everybody else is too.  Quirky pretty ukelele girls are capable of crippling anxiety just like me, and for odd, possibly masochistic reasons this makes me feel closer to the world.
And I love the ending too, or at least like-like it.   Crude things coming from unexpected places are my favorite!  The best thing about the ending is that if you do find that person who encourages you, and you ignore the scarier aspects of their being, you can find that compromise and satisfy the instinct that prompted you to explore that person in the first place.

Dumb with Integrity

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

I’ve lately been trying to figure out why LMFAO feels different from their predecessors.  Dumb dance music is a known quantity in our culture. Tag Team and Lou Bega made songs that everyone danced to once upon a time.  But for reasons that I think have a lot to do with the era of their popularity, it feels (to me at least) that LMFAO isn’t going to go the way of Coolio.

Comparing the brilliance of any lyrics among typical dumb dance songs would lead ponderers to nothing but headaches.  Their collective words are more about the consonant and vowel sounds they make rather than their meaning.  These types of songs ignore your neocortex completely, preferring to take aim at your hips. Most of these songs feel like lightning in a bottle though.  If you can name off the top of your head (without cheating) another song by Bega or Tag Team, I’ll give you my whole collection of old McDonalds Monopoly pieces.

LMFAO songs feel lived in.  It may have more to do with the era in which they gained popularity, but I think the duo project authenticity, as silly as that sounds.  They remind me of those two, often funny, sometimes obnoxious guys who show up to a party and can make it or bury it depending on their mood.  They sound like a bit of our pop music past, even though the industry as a capitalistic juggernaut seems to be crumbling, but more unpredictable.

Now, according to my fifteen minutes of research, these guys are somehow related to the founder of Motown record, Berry Gordy.  I don’t know if this means that they have a natural talent for knowing what the masses want or if they have access to resources that pushed them on the public.  My hips want to believe the former.

Any music that gains popularity during this time of industry change has to possess a smidgen of democratic integrity. I’m not sure what LMFAO’s lowbrow message says about the virtues of democracy, but with the stakes this low I’m fine with it.  If people want a whiff of the past, then the youtube counter has spoken.  Thus it must be.

First short story

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

So this isn’t the first short story I ever wrote, but it is the first one I’ve ever posted to a blog.  I really enjoyed writing it, but would love to hear any comments or criticism of it.


Dear reader– If you want to enhance this story, try giving the narrator some sort of funny accent.


A guy is standing on a trash-covered corner bouncing a round orange ball.  Why is he bouncing a ball?  Because the ball is important.  The ball is everything.  The ball represents life, death, money, fame, love, hate, whatever.  It’s an amazing fucking ball.  And what kind of person doesn’t love bouncing a ball anyway?  Steve McQueen bounced a ball.  Are you saying you’re too good for Steve McQueen?  He confounded the Nazis!  He raced up and down the mean streets of San Francisco in a really sweet hot rod!  If bouncing a ball is good enough for Steve Mc-fucking-Queen then it should be good enough for you, you pinko commie jerkstore.

What?  You still have more questions?  Is the ball not enough for ya?  You dying to know previously unidentified man’s name now?  It’s Jim, but that’s not the point.  The point is that his name doesn’t matter.  You should still be looking at the ball.  Jim is just a schmuck, a pawn, a patsy, whose sole purpose in life is to make that brilliant orange ball bounce up and down.   His name could be Bob, Bill, Tom, Dick, or Harry.  It would have been Steve, but you’ve already stabbed that idea in the face with a rusty Lupus infected knife, didn’t ya? (note to reader: Lupus isn’t contagious)

Now all you recycle freaks out there are probably conniption-ing about the “trash-covered corner.”  Well, you know what hippie? Life is shit.  That latte you’re drinking, right there, costs five fucking dollars.  When Steve was fighting crime in his Batmobile of Justice, his coffee was black, encased in ozone killing Styrofoam, and cost 50 cents, max.  He didn’t have to tip that geeky 7/11 worker neither.  Steve stiffed that guy and he would knock your soy caramel macchiato right out of your hand.

The story seems to be wrapping up pretty nice, right?  Wrong!  You forgot one crucial thing, junior.  The twist ending.  Turns out that silly little ball that you threw away like those cheap condoms that always bust at health clinic WAS ALIVE THE WHOLE TIME! You know what that makes you? A murder. Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.  Bring your own tooth brush, soap, and learn to love that orange.

So that’s my story.  You probably didn’t like it because Bill Clinton was your godfather or something.  That’s fine.  You can bathe in your own narrow-minded pool of sorrow all you want.  But listen here, buddy.  This tale of love, hate, murder, and bouncing is mine.  If you don’t like it, write your own damn story.

Rambling (probably shouldn’t post this)

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

So I didn’t post yesterday because well…okay let me start from the beginning.  I a “stop BS-ing” alarm I like to set on goal oriented days.  Sometimes it works and sometimes doing nothing holds the right amount of nihilistic seduction.

It’s not that I get anything done during these “nothing” times.  It’s not even that I don’t regret it.  I just don’t really enjoy the beginnings of things (opposite of Don Draper).  Once I’m knuckle deep in typing something or researching something or whatever, I’m perfectly content to work through it.  It’s a problem.  I know this.  I hope to fix it.

End of Confession:

ANYWAY (this device was lifted from old Chuck Klosterman…he doesn’t use it anymore, so I will for awhile) I wanted to type about poetry.  I love it.  I used to enjoy writing it in high school, but it was atrocious.  It was emo before emo was emo.

Growing up has a way of teaching most people that it’s dumb to take yourself too seriously.  Now, I write poetry for a creative writing class and it’s always fun.  Also, I’m pretty good at it.  My problem is (and yes I’m whining) I’ve only ever written poetry when forced to.  I enjoy writing and want to continue it after I’ve earned my degree, so I think I have to trick myself into making writing a habit.

Quick Tangent: When I was deployed to the desert, I read all the time.  It was great.  There was no constant access to the world wide web and it was very easy to get lost in a book without the constant distraction of abundant information.

Sometimes, I’m tempted to throw my laptop on the ground and stomp on it until I’m forced to into some state of technological regression.  I don’t hate technology.  I do recognize that I use it to fill in the boring (perceived or otherwise) gaps in my life.  If I spent less time incessantly checking ESPN.com, I could probably be a more productive writer and reader.

For now, I will stick with you dear blog, dear reader of zero.  I want to start putting poetry here and have a pretty decent backlog of short stories and such, along with ideas that I could develop on here. We’ll see.

Discovering the Wheel

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

My friend told me that every generation has to rediscover the wheel.  We all think we independently reach conclusions that other eras have figured out or discarded long ago.  Yesterday I discovered my wheel.

I didn’t want to finish my ATTN #5 review yesterday because I got stuck after about 200 words.  Now, if this were an assignment I would power through and accept the mediocre prose or analysis and shrug that everything can’t be perfect.  But I wrote that short piece for myself, so when I ran into the incomplete thoughts and imperfect words, I wanted to stop.

Enter the silly disclaimer at the top of the review.  I know it shows a lack of confidence and might be non-essential to the reader, but that piece of expository information is for me, dear reader.  For whatever reason, I needed to type that stupid thing out so I could tell myself that it was okay to be a little lost.

Right now, I just want to write everyday for no other reason than I want to get better at writing.  I may repeat myself.  I may write irrelevant boring self-indulgent prose for the first month, but dammit I got to start somewhere.

Baby steps.


Auto-tune the News #5: lettuce regulations. American Blessings.

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

*Disclaimer: I’m not satisfied with parts of this review and reserve the right to revise at a later date.  I just want to get in the habit of writing everyday so I’m going to post the crappier version first.  No more fear of bad words.

In an interview with trendhunter.com, Rachel Bowman asked Evan Gregory what the goal of Auto-tune the News was.  Evan’s response (read full interview here)? “To get Joe Biden a record contract.”  They didn’t do Joe any favors in ATTN #5.

Don’t get me wrong.  Biden sounds phenomenal in the video above.  It’s his best performance on any of their videos and along with Katie Couric, he seems to have a voice that was gifted by God for the purpose of digital manipulation.  But when Congressman Steve Buyer breaks in to warn us about the hazards of smoking produce, Biden’s biblical proclamations are all but forgotten.

“It’s the SmOooOOOke, the SmOOOoooOOoke,”sung by Buyer,  stands out as the best segment of the video.  The musical scales explored during Buyer’s speech hint at a pop sound that actively wants to latch on to your brain, wants to challenge your vocal chords to reproduce the fluttering beauty of auto-tuned goodness.

Evan Gregory is equally great in this video, though his performances are intentional (so I guess he loses a few points for trying too hard?…maybe not).  The video’s comedic intro and end  give the it a cyclical feel.  We begin with the boring as Evan lays down his beat for the pundit who spits out things that seem equally true and ridiculous.  Both performances act as good foils to the vibrancy and awesomeness that becomes the previously mentioned Joe Biden space opera.  Evan particularly shines in his duet with the angelic voice of Katie Coo.

ATTN #5 shows the Gregory Brothers fine tuning their musical muscle within the medium they helped create.  The first four videos were very good in that different from anything at the time of their release.  But they tended to rely on humor and angry gorilla soliloquies.  In this video, the music is as important as the jokes.  Potential is realized. -fin


p.s.  If you’re reading this, HOORAY! If you’re commenting on this, HIP-HOP HOORAY! And if you know who Ana Marie Cox is and why she was awarded best intentional dancer on this video, I would love to know and make some kind of HOORAY related celebration in honor of your informing me.


Friday, April 1st, 2011

I need to write more.  I know it, you know it, the good American people know it.  And not just for school.  I’ve been reading “A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing” (chronologically because it has a narrative quality to it AND I’m anal like that) and a majority of the posts tell me the best thing to do is just start writing.

So this my attempt to reboot this old blog I started during Gateway at the University of Oregon.  I’d like to write some more music reviews, may put up some poems I write for class (I promise it’s usually not pretentious poetry) or for fun, and may just rant live journal style just to keep myself writing.

I know this will post on Twitter and the blog I’m reading says I should self-promote more, but honestly I have no idea if I really promote novice work, so any and all feedback from people who do read would be appreciated.  Hope to have a review of Autotune the News #5 up by tomorrow.

Blog Analysis: The Militant Ginger

Friday, April 16th, 2010

The Militant Ginger is an opinion-based blog written and run by Ronald Hulme.  It covers a wide variety of topics ranging from politics to beer consumption/appreciation.  The term ‘ginger’ refers to redheaded people and the term ‘militant’ in the context of this particular blog refers to the slightly contentious (though softened with silliness) tone the writer sets.  The blog is maintained through the Blogger website, but can be accessed by typing www.militantginger.com.  This gives the site a feeling of independence.   Autonomy is also achieved through the site’s layout.  The banner is made up of various active pictures that show the author being active and creative (sometimes approaching the previously mentioned ‘realm of silliness’).  The center of the webpage contains the opinion-based blog while the margins on each side are filled with information about the author and the author’s interests.  Access to the email address is placed in a prominent place, being the first item seen on the right hand side under the banner.  It creates a notion of accessibility.  Under the email address are pictures of the site’s editor (a one-eyed, one-eared, tie, and glasses wearing teddy bear) and copy editor (a cat who appears to be studying the dictionary).  This further establishes the silly tone that the blog content depicts and lets the reader know that the author acknowledges that his opinions don’t always possess a super-serious tone.  The left margin begins by showing a small portion of the author’s biopage and links to the full profile.  Under the bio is a list of blogs, webcomics, and an advertisement that appears to reflect things that author heartily approves of.

The Militant Ginger began around 2006.  There are 9 members in the militant ginger community.   The author’s profile has been viewed approximately 9550 times (as of 4:41 April 16th 2010).  The target audience for the author appears to be like-minded people ranging in age from mid 20s to early 40s (though I think it’s safe to assume Mr. Hulme wouldn’t turn away any interested reader) who enjoy quirky areas of popular culture and also have strong opinions about relevant current events while consciously maintaining an active sense of humor.

I personally feel a connection with the Militant Ginger because I’m also a fair-haired young(ish) man with very strong opinions and a healthy sense of humor.  As a personal blog used to express opinions and interests on life I think this particular blog works on every level.