22 February, 2010

'Round the neighborhood

Taking the commuter rail out to the 'burbs a few times a week is always a good time. I get to enjoy the nice walk downtown, the picturesque vistas from train, and the last minute sprint to make it onto the platform before the train pulls out of the station. I've discovered that regardless of what time I actually leave my apartment I get to the commuter rail within 30 seconds of train departure. It's gotten to the point that one of the regular conductors, Bob, has taken to calling me 'Lucky,' as in the lucky girl who reliably almost-misses-yet-still-makes-the-train three days a week. He says it endearingly and with a slight bit of awe (most likely because the probability of me missing the train is so high in theory and so low in actual occurrence) so I'll take it as a compliment. I am, if nothing else, consistent.

Also, before my phone departed to the big cellular tower in the sky I downloaded some photos off it from adventures around town. This is what I saw.

The first is taken off an electrical box in Cambridge. It's a reindeer sticker, with the words "You Need News glasses" taken out from its sticker body. I'm not sure what it means, but the juxtaposition of reindeer and that phrase could be anything, but it is something we can all agree on: very deep.

Then there was a sign near downtown that was clearly put up with care and consideration. It reads "Trucks Excluded." Or rather, it would "trucks excluded" it were put up in not upside down. Your tax dollars at work here, people! Oh, how we laughed.

Lastly is what very well may be my favorite camera phone photo in the history all history. Some background for those not Massachusetts savvy: Boston has many brightly different colored train lines that get you where you need to go. One of my favorite (and perhaps the most superfluous) is the Blue line, which has many stops that seem made up (Maverick and Wood Island, por ejemplo.) The last stop on the Blue line lies Wonderland, sounding all magical and disney-esque. I'm told it is a pretty typical outer-city suburban area- I do not care. Wonderland sounds fantastical.

The other day while waiting for the blue line train to take me home I noticed a new addition to the subway map. Someone had added a sticker of a horse and, to add joy to the magic, had drawn on a pink horn on the horse. Thus it became the unicorn of Wonderland. Someone should write a book. It makes me want to go experience Wonderland even more. Bring the kids!

19 February, 2010

But what do I do with my hands?

There are some downsides to interning at an aquarium. Oh sure, the perks are pretty nice. There is an assortment of cute crustaceans and charismatic megafauna that I get to play with whenever I please. There are free passes to the aquarium. (It would be kind of a bad gig if I didn't get them, to be fair.) There's the rocking polo shirt with the logo emblazoned on the chest. (But while there's a really cool shirt the outfit is paired with terrible khaki pants. Why do all the nonprofits of the world seem to prefer to clothe their employees in khaki pants? I must know.)

There are definite hazards to the job, though. No, I'm not talking about getting stung by jellyfish or pinched by crabs, that's just a daily fun phenomenon. (Funomenon!) I'm speaking of the definite potential hazard to technology.

It's a salt water environment. There are many open tanks, tasks that take place around and near these tanks, and a need to communicate with one's boss by phone because of the largeness of said aquarium. This combination has always meant a ticking time bomb for my cell. And yesterday it's time was up.

Having a internship that calls for you to feed out brine and other such fish food to some tanks that are six feet tall is a fun experience. (Funsperience? No, perhaps. No.) Sure there may be a ladder, but where's the adventure in that? My boss prefers the climb-and-grab approach: climb onto the tank,  hold onto at least one side of the tank, do your work, and you'll be golden.  Cell phones in pockets were not really factored into this consideration. So yesterday, like every Wednesday when I climb up to feed moon jellies in the top tanks of the aptly named Wet Lab, my cell phone inexplicably slipped out of my pocket and fell into the salt water. It then proceeded to sink to to the bottom gravel next to one very startled horseshoe crab. And then, in its final swan song, my ring tone sounded, L'il Wayne's gospel-like intro to his song "Let the Beat Build." Then it went "pffft" and it was over, the quickest of all kamikaze missions. Maybe it had heard what was inevitably coming to it. For you see I am Flynner, the destroyer of cell phones.

I don't mean to kill them. I love them! I loved all my cell phones, quite literally, to death, all in a great variety of terribly unfortunate and amusing circumstances. There was the time I got tossed into a pool (it happens), the one I lost while traveling in an airport, the one that got smashed in the quad at college, the one that inexplicably stopped working from no influence of my own. (And that is my final statement, officer.) You get the idea.

My parents had purchased me a new phone to celebrate Christmas this year, fa la la. However, when my parents actually bought the phone the phone company, AT&T, politely informed them that they couldn't purchase the insurance offered with the new phone. But why, AT&T? Because they saw me as a liability.

A liability. You make four little mistakes in two years and suddenly you become a cellular company pariah. In my young life I have had no less than seven cell phones (at least the ones I can remember.) Everyone messes up sometimes. But they won't take any chances on me even if I want to pay them extra money. C'mon AT&T- that's not what makes our nation great.

In the wake of my cell's sudden passing I have been forced to walk around the city and ride public transportation with neither a cell phone nor an iPod to accompany me. (My iPod also met its tragic end, a hardware glitch that resulted in me losing thousands of songs. See previous entry, Edge of existence Why yes, I am referencing myself. It is my blog.) Being disconnected from all these distracting tools has left me with a very stripped feeling as I walk and ride around town; suddenly every noise and movement is so present, in my face and demanding attention. Where as before I'd be strolling along listening to Passion Pit or Temper Trap on my morning walk downtown (I have been in a alternative mood as of late) I am now discovering that things actually go on around me when I pay attention. Real things, real life happening all around me. For instance, yesterday I heard a woman in front of me talk about the pants she was wearing for three minutes. Three minutes! They were black pants. I learned a lot. Then there was the couple that was calling each other cutesy pet names and giggling. The guy referred to his girlfriend his "little Jewish cactus." And just think: I would have missed that had I had my iPod on. But I still want to know the backstory. I love me a good backstory, especially those involving cacti and God's chosen people.

Quitting all this technology cold turkey feels eerily similar to those anti-smoking ads I used to see on television. Now that you've quit and no longer need to hold a cigarette, what do you do with your hands? Substitute cigarettes with my cell phone. Most of the time the transition from enjoyable walking experience with cellphone/iPod to the quiet boring walking experience it is now has been pretty seemeless. But there are still a few moments when I seriously question what I should do with and where I should put my hands now that they're empty.

There was always something in my hands as I walked. I was a very busy person. At any given time I could be changing to the next song, talking, texting, beating the high score on Brickbreaker, and other highly important things. Even when I wasn't actively using these things I was still flipping the device in my hands or rubbing it reassuringly to know that, if I so desired, I could be using it. Just the idea of knowing that something is possible is very comforting. My toys had a familiar weight and feel, like a good skipping stone or a lucky rabbit's foot.

But then I went and bathed my social crutch in a bath of cold horseshoe crabbed salt water. Now I am conscious of being uncomfortably aware of my hands. What do I do with them? Did they always hang to my side like this? Every word and action I encounter seems immediate and pressing, uncoddled by any distraction that might have diverted enough attention to make events, long walks, public transportation pass by smoothly and quickly. Stripped of even the reassuring act of holding those tools I am very exposed. I catch myself over compensating for not holding anything as I walk down the street by pumping my hands flamboyantly. These movements feel exaggerated, like they are on display and people are going to be watching what I do. And judging me.

"Oh, she's crossing her arms over her chest. She seems inherently unbalanced, especially as she's taking that corner. And where's the style? I give it a 4. "
"Hm, she went for the double hands in the pockets approach.  Clichéd, overused, but classic. Very James Dean. Maybe a 6.5."
"Is she clapping her hands together right now? Really? That's just not natural, especially if she's walking. A 2 from Russia."

This has been a recurring theme in my life lately. I took a latin dance class with some friends just last week. The dance teacher, an energetic asian woman teaching the art and soul of salsa, was a goddess at movement. She made everything look natural. Her hand movements were purposeful and it all made sense with the dance. Though the mental desire to dance well was there, my body wasn't really into the whole "cohesive graceful movement" vibe I was telling it to exude. I was a fish out of water. An over-thinking, awkward handed fish. But when the class unexpectedly turned from latin dance into a strippercise routine (as they do?) I was right up there with the instructor all thanks to a well-rounded high school eduction. (Public school dances. Enough said.) My hands moved in harmony with my movements, even as we were writhing around on the floor to techno beats.

So maybe it's all about conscious thought, then. Once I was back in my element (...stripping?) I stopped focusing so much on the action. After that everything just came naturally. Maybe my reliance on my cell and my iPod will fade out and I'll be left with the natural ease and solitude that comes from being disconnected from technology. (At least while I'm walking, anyway.) According to my Discovery Kid magazine in middle school it takes 30 days to enforce a habit. Not that I can go 30 days without a cell phone, that's just impractical. And boring. But it is a good life experiment.

I said hello to a policeman on my way to the commuter rail the other day. The rush of interaction and excitement I got overwhelmed me. What if he didn't say hello back?! Is this how the older generations interacted with each other? On the street, in real life, LIVING? How did they let other people know about all these interactions if they couldn't text them afterwards? I am simply fascinated. There is real life happening everywhere, all around me now.

Perhaps I should be grateful to the salt tank that took the life of my phone. And I should definitely apologize to the startled horseshoe crab that lost a few months off his already short life when L'il Wayne started rapping. It happens.

16 February, 2010

Tweet tweet, quoth the raven

This is going to sound awfully hypocritical coming from a girl with a blog, but there is an astounding amount of inanity flowing around the interwebs today.

Specifically I'm talking about Twitter. Just what IS twitter? Well, unless you've been doing something productive with your life you'll know it's only the most awesome real-time text-like super-connected 140 character-limited "revolution,"* (so say the Wall Street Journal, anyway). Twitter is the social networking platform that lets any person write posts, or tweets (the past tense of twit?) within a 140 character framework. All this from the diaboloical mind of Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter eons ago in 2006. The namesake for the platform itself is defined as "a short burst of inconsequential information" and "chirps from birds," which Dorsey referred to as being the perfect definition for the social site. Inconsequential information and bird chirping? Modern age, I knew I liked you. Let's explore!

Now I know I'm late to the game to really examine what Twitter is about, but just by doing a small amount of "research" I found some gems that Twitter users have offered up to the international web-browsing community. What follows is a representative sample.


c.) CrystalKylaa: No God?! Dumbest tt ever. If you opened a bible and read you'd figure out THERE IS A GOD. stupid science.

Fascinating. Twitter has clearly called the intelligentsia to action in full force. And by the intelligentsia I mean anyone that can that has access to a qwerty keyboard. And by action I mean chirping, inconsequential posts. Don't worry, that strikes a familiar chord with the revolutions I learned about in school in me, too.

Sure, sometimes** in our sound byte culture we crave constant stimulation. We need just a little snippet of info, some pretty lights on flashy commercials, sweet new-fangled technology to keep us in connection with others, and Lady Gaga's myriad of outfits just to get us through the day. As a collective culture (well, most of us anyway) we have developed a deep need for instant gratification. Even a half hour sitcom is a commitment sometimes. (But not you, Ghost Whisperer. I still adore you.)

Don't get me wrong, I hold a deep affection for the internet. Spend too much time there in fact, stumbling upon and doing random google searches. (Do you ever do the one where you type in the beginning of the question and see what random things people have asked google? Good times, good times.) The ease and quickness with which questions can be immediately researched and answered is awe-inspiring, as well as (potentially, if used correctly) academically and culturally furthering. And it sure is fun! But Twitter, oh Twitter... My verdict is still out on you. Any place where you have the anonymous factor of an instant message, the complete lack of inhibition of a youtube comment, the access to a following that can make anyone feel like their utterances are profound and meaningful, as well as a complete lack of spell check, perhaps it is not an entirely safe combination.

But maybe I just don't care what ramblings are knocking around the heads of celebrities. (I have better things to do, like getting educated observations about said celebrities' thoughts from Jezebel.com). Even friends and family, the very same who lie near and dear to my heart, are not saved from this numbness caused by the sheer amount of information and the over-saturation effect that a Twitter-like network brings. I personally want some mystery involved in my relationships. I don't want to find that my really cool friends are, in fact, inane. Boring. Republican. (Just kidding, EG! I already knew you were.) I don't want that. You don't want that. The world doesn't want that.

For me, there were a few technological revolutions that changed the way I interact with the internet. First there was Myspace. I liked Myspace. I had a few pictures. I had a few inspirational quotes (mostly Mark Twain, as I was deep.) I had a couple posts from friends. Jason Mraz was even my "friend***" on Myspace! So that was all well and good. Maybe I didn't like the spam comments from random accounts asking to friend me and then re-posting on my wall. ("dynOmite gurls, click here!!! lol kthxbai") But you know what? I dealt with it. I accepted its flaws, and still had a vibrant (well, as vibrant as it could be) myspace experience. Nevermind that myspace has devolved into what is now largely pre-teens and pedophiles, it was very hip in its moment.

Then there was Facebook. Facebook, now there is a social networking platform. Call me old-fashioned, but Facebook used to be a privilege. A privilege! After getting the highly anticipated college acceptance letter I still checked my mail religiously every day for nearly two months until the (possibly) more anticipated letter came from my college that contained one sacred thing: my college email account access information. With this occarina's flute I could now enter into that glorious world of college students. There was a modicum of respect involved with a Facebook account: it was self-selecting, as one had to have an active college email account. This little caveat guaranteed that most of facebook's early users fell into the realm of 18 to 24 something young adult. Facebook had enough restrictions to be exclusive and was young enough to not be desirable (yet) by the old generations. My peers, my people. There was the one profile picture that I was allowed to adorn my "page", my interests section (I was an highly interesting individual), a wall that other people could add to or delete (who thought that was a good idea, Facebook Version 1.0?), music quotes, my religious, relationship, and affiliated statuses. And more! Yes, it was a lot of information and most of it pretty inane, but it painted pretty good picture of a person. A snapshot biography, really. Twitter loses that aspect in their micro-blogging. It has a lot of content but very little context.

Twitter. As though people were so good at expressing themselves before, they can now do it while constricted to 140 characters or less limit. Maybe (unlikely, but maybe) the word constraint is a good, creative thing. Like the six word memoirs of National Public Radio's Not Quite What I Was Planning, where people write a six-word form of their personal life stories. (My favorites- William Shatner's: Failed SAT. Lost scholarship. Invented rocket. & Graeme Gibson's: Thought I was right. I wasn't.) But maybe Twitter will pull a myspace and fall into oblivion, becoming only accessed by pre-teens, pedophiles, and spammers. I give it 'til at least the next month. That is, if people can keep their attention span on it that long.

*The only accurate excerpt part of that statement was the word that lies between the quotation marks.
**All the time. 

13 February, 2010

The 95th percentile loves the rap

I went to a college where a shocking number of people own a Northface jacket. There, Ugg boots are a staple, popped collars are not unusual, intellectual discussion is held while reading Kant in the coffee shop on weekends, and during the week social time is spent over thought papers and annotated bibliographies in one of the libraries, of which there are five. These are not necessarily bad things, and of course there are exceptions. But when coupled together the effect can prove somewhat overwhelming.

There is a saying that I've heard many people use, the "work hard, play harder" mantra. As a friend once said, "I work hard during the week and so I can forget it all on the weekends." Hey, there should always be a light at the end of the tunnel. But perhaps the most dazzling aspect of this culture is when the light at the end of the tunnel involves intoxicated dancing to ridiculously explicit and very specific song lyrics from rap songs. (How else would I have learned what to "Superman" someone was, if not from a rap song?)

I enjoy the occasional adult beverage. I love to dance. But it is always an experience (good or bad? verdict still out) to see good, well-mannered, college-educated kids shouting out the lyrics to L'il Jon and the East Side Boyz' "Get Low,"  which happened a lot at parties. A refresher on the lyrics:

To the window ([Shouted]: TO THE WINDOW), to the wall, (TO THE WALL)
To the sweat drop down my balls (MY BALLS)
To all these b*s crawl (CRAWL)
To all skeet skeet motherfriender* (MOTHERFRIEND*) all skeet skeet gosh darnit* (GOSH DARNIT*)
To all skeet skeet motherfriender* (MOTHERFRIEND*) all skeet skeet gosh darnit* (GOSH DARNIT*)

Shortie crunk so fresh so clean can she friend that
Question been harassing me in the mind this b* is fine
I done came to the club about 50th 11 times now can I play with yo
Panty line club owner said I need to calm down security guard go to sweating
Me now n* drunk then a motherfriender* threaten me now

**Swear edits with asterisks mine: this is a family blog. 

Some questions: Why is L'il Jon so angry? What exactly is "50th 11 times?" Is that kind of like when Saturday Night Live had celebrity jeopardy skits, and Norm MacDonald was playing Burt Reynolds in an oversized cowboy hat and the final jeopardy question was "Just write a number. Any number." and Norm-as-Burt wrote "Threeve?"

I especially like when girls start shouting out the part about "b*s," and other such euphemisms for a female dog. It's like embracing the negative turns it into a positive! (Now where have I heard of that phenomenon before...) But have I done it before at a party? Of course. Is it still wrong to subjugate women into being anonymous vessels for the sake of a pretty terribly written, mostly slang-driven rap song? Perhaps.

Another song that falls into this category (the drunk kids-dance song category) is the new club (bar/ birthday party/ ivy league/ future bar mitzvah?) favorite simply titled, "Shots," by LMFAO.

Shots shots shots shots shots shots
Shots shots shots shots shots
Shots shots shots shots shots
everybody (x2)
If you ain’t getting drunk get the friend* out the club
If you ain’t takin’ shots get the friend* out the club
If you ain’t come to party get the friend* out the club
Now where my alcoholics let me see ya hands up
What you drinkin on? 

(**Edits mine. See aforementioned asterisk reasons.)

You're telling me that SOMEONE, either one of the LMFAO hair twins, the producer, or anyone member of their entourage, took one listen to the beginning chorus consisting of the word "shots" being repeated ad nauseum and felt it... needed to be repeated? Is there a purpose, or do they just like sibilance? Secondly, any song that asks people to proudly identify as an alcoholic is clearly not written or targeted at actual alcoholics. Because I hear that is a disease and that there are groups for that, groups outside of clubs that play songs that demand you take multiple shots or leave. However, I'm sure bartenders love it. There is nothing stronger than the drunken power of suggestion that demands you jack up that bar tab. Don't they know we're in a recession? In the last line LMFAO asks, "what you drinkin on?" Is this a serious question? Just listen to your chorus, man.

Last weekend I went to a party of a friend of a friend with a small group of other kids. We were outside the friend circle, but we were all happy and game to meet new people. When we walked into the apartment it was a slightly different crowd than we were really used to. More wine-sipping and less Berkshire Brewing Co drinking. More modern dance and less hip hop. More plaid shirts and intellectual glasses. While everyone was decently nice, it was clearly an apartment party for close friends. My motley crue group of friends and I felt a little... well, like we didn't really know anyone. So we stationed ourselves at the doorway between the kitchen and the living room for the majority of the night. This is the ultimate destination for people who don't know anyone at a party: it gives you the most options for interactions with other people (they have to get by! you might as well say hello) in addition to not taking up prime realty in either room from more deserving people who actually know the host of the party. The party makeup was a lot of girls in their young 20s and, interestingly, men who appeared to be around 35 and 40. I don't ask questions. So while everyone was ok with us being there, we pretty much stayed in our little kitchen-living room doorway huddle, with my friend Weber feeling increasingly more ill-at-ease and turning red as the night wore on. As we were deciding our next move (tempted to stay because we didn't want to leave our original friend, but also not wanting to stay in a doorway all night) one of the girls decided to put on music.

Now, if you were at this party, what song would you expect them to put on? My money was hands-down Fleet Foxes, or Sufjan Stevens, or any other like-sounded melodic indie rock. (woot. woot.) Heck, even Vampire Weekend would have been appropriate. And then Jay Z's "99 Problems But a Bitch Ain't One" came on. To say the least, we were not ready for it. It caused me to ask myself, "what did these people know about 99 problems?" Even though a definite part of my high school experience involved friends and I driving around town and listening to the Black album (or the DJ Danger Mouse's version, the Grey album- so good). it's not that I can really relate to the music, not really. Problems? My worst problems lately are the existential angst that comes from attempting to seek out my life calling and that my iPod broke. Poor little rich kids. Gots an education, gots career problems, gots lots of taxes, why doesn't anybody understand me! But I guess that wouldn't make a very good rap song. Too MV and Tea Partay.

The most interesting part, for me, was that people didn't really react to the music. It was as though any ol' song could be playing, when in fact Jay Z was explaining in lyrical prose how the police racially profiled him on the highway and suspected him of drug cartel. Jay Z does make great music. And music should be able to be appreciated by everyone, because music at its truest form is made for entertainment. It was just unexpected for the setting, s'all.

My friend Weber nearly lost it. And then, when L'il Jon and the East Side Boyz came on at the party with their seminal hit "Get Low" we decided we had to go. We were dancing to the music, singing along to the lyrics, and, for whatever reason, not jiving with the crowd that night. No one even yelled the lyrics. You can't play "Get low" and not yell the lyrics. (TO THE WALLS.)

Music is an outlet, this much is true. Rap seems to be a way to act out aggressive and sexual fantasies for many kids that, in all likelihood, will not experience the very things the rap songs are extolling. And what is music if not for entertainment? But I still think having all these kids dance to things like David Guetta ft. Akon's "Sexy B*"(She's nothing like a girl you've ever seen before/ Nothing you can compare to your neighborhood friend*/ I'm tryinna find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful/ Damn Girl, Damn, you's a sexy b*.") is hilarious. Especially if they are wearing a Northface.

*Thank you to TIP, for knowing more than a tour guide, and to Matt for grammer correxshuns.

10 February, 2010

At Best, A Murky Ability to Differentiate Fiction from Reality

I used to get kind of carsick. And by kind of, I mean the ten minute drive towards downtown was an ordeal. So for the long family trips that we used to take (to such far away exotic lands as Washington, D.C.) my parents bought me a gray anti-nausea band. The band was simple stretch gray cotton with a white plastic ball embedded into one side, that was to be placed on a pressure point located on one's left wrist. When the band was worn and the pressure point depressed car sickness was supposed to magically evaporate. Some might dub this supposed relief simple mind over matter or the placebo effect, but I was young, idealistic, and years away from learning those phrases. Naturally, it worked miraculously well.

However, I hated wearing the stupid carsickness band. No one else had to wear one, not even my twin! And that was just genetically unfair. So to make the band seem cooler, I told myself that by the nature of the white plastic ball that was depressing the pressure point, the white plastic ball also triggered magical powers that could be released. If not for my carsickness, I would never have been discovered my magical powers! Never mind that I hadn't worked out what special powers the band actually did release (that was very far advanced, even for a car sickness band.) Thankfully my parents knew what was up, and their buying me the band was just a subtle acknowledgement, a nod of the head if you will, to let me know that I was special. My twin didn't have to wear one because the genetic dna sequence for supernatural abilities just wasn't bestowed upon her. Genetics can be an unpredictable thing.

Every person wants to be special, to be unique. Call it wishful thinking, call it escapism. Call it a deep appreciation for and total saturation in science fiction novels and other books about kids with supernatural abilities that, if you read enough of them, eventually blur the line between fiction and reality. (Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher or the Girl with the Silver Eyes, anyone?)

When I was growing up a lot of the shows on television and novels marketed towards my age set played along the theme of young adults who met their destiny through one (or many) supernatural abilities. There was the ability to speak with ghosts (Bruce Coville's The Nina Tanleven series), the ability to change into an animal (K.A. Applegate's the Animorph series), inhuman abilities and the unavoidable trek towards the battle for saving humanity (Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time and Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, both), or simply the ability to transform into a surprisingly agile silver puddle after getting hit by an out-of-control truck carrying radioactive material (The Secret World of Alex Mack). Though I lacked most of these general requisites for serious adventure and possible humanity-saving, I still held firm to the belief that I had (have?) special powers.

When we would travel and stop along the highway at food courts and gas stations, I made sure t prominently display the carsick band like it was my own personal red badge of courage. I wanted people to ask about it, so that I could respond with an answer that I hoped would only picque their interest and cause them to think me a sophisticated and alluringly unusual girl."Oh this? It's nothing." Because there is nothing so intriguing as a carsickness band worn by a ten year old girl. In glasses. Reading her young adult sci-fi book.

The car sickness thing isn't an issue anymore, worked through by many a road trip in my past (Hilton head '09!) But sometimes I wonder what people thought when they saw that skinny girl waving her wrist conspicuously in front of the cashier at Subway. Did anyone notice? Why didn't my parents, my sisters, my friends even, say anything to me? Maybe because they knew that I knew, in my heart of hearts, that the band made me special. They understood that others could somehow sense that aura of the supernatural about me. The human mind can be tricked into great things.

While I don't (really) believe that a band can give me special powers anymore, with books like Twilight and shows like the Ghost Whisperer gaining popularity and permeating our collective social spheres it is still hard to resist the inexorable desire to want to be different and have others take notice.

Or maybe I just need to start reading some different books.

08 February, 2010

Google wins my heart

Google's advertising masterminds are in a league of their own.

There are no spoken words or actors, simply search themes typed into a Google search engine. Over the course of only twelve searches, the ad follows a young college student who studies abroad in Paris and falls in love with a Parisian. If a commercial can give you chills, you've clearly done something right. Google with the win.

07 February, 2010

Intel has the saddest robot~ Superbowl Commercials Pt. 4

In the Intel Inside commercial, a man is sitting down to lunch with a few other workers talking about a new product. The man is boasting about how the new product is the best ever. "The greatest thing that we have ever made!" The best! He is adamant! Everyone else looks rather embarrased, a bit ashamed, and away from the speaking man. It is because a robot is behind him the whole time. A robotic Intel worker! Who's artificial intelligence was clearly an invention of Intel at some point in the past. The robot looks sadly down, drops his tray, and wheels away. Egg on THAT guy's face.

There is nothing that gets to me like a sad, ostracized robot. Even if the Intel people have an a capella version of their jingle where twenty of the Intel "workers" are staring right into my eyes (too aware, Intel) it's still a well done commercial. Sad robots! Oh, Intel.

Correction: I initially thought this was HP. I was distracted by the a capella.

Shape-Ups Might Be Liars

In the fifth round we have Sketcher's "balance ball" shoes, the Shape-Ups. They are supposedly designed in such a way that your legs and butt get even more exercise from daily activities (stairs, walking, etc.) However, you still have to be walking and doing a modicum of exercise in order for them to work. As in, you are already exercising. It reminds me of the comedian Kumail Nanjiani's stand-up comedy act about the Mid-western drug called Cheese.

In Kumail's words, "Cheese is tylenol pm and heroin. it's mostly heroin. Heroin's doing the heavy-lifting. It's not a new drug. It's mostly heroin. So to make cheese you still need heroin. You still have to have the heroin."

So you still need to be walking to lose weight. You're still doing exercise.

And secondly, they use a Joe Montana quote. Sketchers wants us to believe that Joe Montana: a) bought a pair of sketchers; b) liked them; and c) liked them so much that he decided to write in and tell sketchers that although he was a professional football player, sketchers actually affected his posture and strength. Sketchers? The same people who made the commercial that accused a woman's boobs of being jealous of her butt? Hm. Hm hm hm.

OH! Now we've hit a good stride! Superbowls part 2~

So- Round three of the Superbowl commercials appears to be the strongest yet.

For Doritos, a man fakes his death in order to get his dying wish: a casket filled with cheesy Doritos. We're shown his funeral and the guy, very much alive, who is munching on his Doritos and watching a football game on the tv in his casket. His friends talk about how he can get at least a week off from work. (Hi 5!)

But then! The man starts getting really excited at a great play. The casket is shaking. The casket stand is tipping. And then! The whole shebang falls and the man rolls onto the floor, Doritos falling from his mouth and a deer-in-the-headlights panic in his eyes. His friend stands up, singing a high A and pronounces, "It's a miracle!"


And then we have another world class Bud Light commercial. While their first round had to do with a house made of Bud Light bottles (meh) their third uses not only a guy inviting his friends over by having his voice modulated with autotune but T-Pain also makes a guest appearance. T-Pain! It's funny, 'cause all of his songs use auto-tune! And white guys singing about getting their friends together and partying in autotune is just hilarious. Because white guys don't party! Or autotune?

Bud Light. So far, the clear winners of the Superbowl Commercial creativity war.

Liveblogging some Superbowl Commercials

And by live blogging, I mean commenting on the commercials in an almost real-time fashion.

Bud Light- The end of the world
Easily the best commercial so far. A group of scientists clad in white lab coats finds out the world is ending by asteroid impact. So in the spirit of that Jimmy Buffet song lyrics, "the bad news is that the world is ending. The good news is that there's a party", they decide to celebrate with Bud Light! Just like how I did at the end of my finals periods. But I was in college, poor, and familiar with terribly lowbrow beer. If the world was ending, wouldn't you at least have a Stella Artois? A Leinenkugel? Bud Light? Ok.

However, when they find out that it was NOT, in fact, an asteroid, but a little space pebble that hits the glass and falls anticlimatically to the ground: oh my- a real reason for a celebration. Don't you just love beer?

However, it is hilarious. And compared with the terrible professional football players "dancing" and making references to have a "tight end" wearing a real (and shown) leopard print thong... Bud Light wins by leaps and bounds.

03 February, 2010

An Owl City "Fireflies" Lyrical Analysis

The musical project entitled Owl City consists of one man, Adam Young. Adam wrote music for his album "Ocean Eyes" while dealing with an unsatisfying job, unsatisfying insomnia, and living in his parents basement. Unsatisfying. The astounding hit off of "Ocean Eyes" was the chart-topper, Fireflies.

If some person were to look at every indie rock "feelings" type of band, take out all the horrible parts, the bubbly synth, the tinkly melodies, and the middle-schooler lyrics, say to themselves: "You know... I think we got something here," combine it all in a big musical blender and listen to the result, the song Fireflies would be born.

And so it was. (Probably.) While the song hit #1 in its tenth week on the US charts in October 2009, the song had debuted on the Billboard top 100 at number 97. As in, the song Fireflies still was able to crack a Billboard chart. Fireflies achieved a goal that talented musicians that spend their whole lives living and breathing music don't even get a nod at. And have you heard the song?

However, I like to keep an open mind. The real clincher of most good songs is their lyrics. So let's go:

You would not believe your eyes
If ten million fireflies
Lit up the world as I fell asleep

You're right Adam, I would not believe my eyes if ten million fireflies lit up the world. Because the bible had a passage about that, and you know what they called it? A PLAGUE. A plague of that proportion is most definitely a sign of the apocalypse. How on earth can you fall asleep during the apocalypse? (Unless you're a fainting goat, but that's a genetic disease. What's your excuse?) However, as 2012 is nearing and the Mayan's day of doom slowly approaches, perhaps Adam may just be trying to be prophetic. Is that considered indie now, too?

More Intro:
'Cause they'd fill the open air
And leave teardrops everywhere
You'd think me rude
But I would just stand and stare

Do fireflies have the ability to cry? Or even have feelings? I'm calling your bluff, kid.

But the image of such cute little innocent bugs crying is rather... sweet. Unrealistic, but sweet. How could you not feel moved by such a grandiose expression of emotion? There are ten million of them! That's a lot of little sadnesses. And yet Adam states that he feels nothing. Assuming that there would ever be a situation where ten million fireflies were communally crying, Adam clearly demonstrates that he has an ice box for a heart. So I'm gonna have to go and dock more points.

I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly
It's hard to say that I'd rather stay
Awake when I'm asleep
'Cause everything is never as it seems

Actually, our blue planet turns rather fast. If you compare it with the other eight (nine? I love you, Pluto!) planets in our solar system, Earth has the fifth slowest rotation behind Neptune, Saturn, Uranus, and Jupiter. Ergo- we have the fourth fastest (if you include Pluto, which I do.) We are mediocre-ly fast comparatively. I don't care that he wrote that part as a metaphor for wanting to slow time down, his thinking is factually inaccurate and as a listener I'm just not able to get past that.

The second part of this little excerpt is just so... predictably convoluted. He took nearly twenty six seconds to state the cliché that 'things are often different from what we think they are'. But because he preceded it with "but it's hard to say" it's really like he's not saying anything at all.

Verse (-like thing):
'Cause I'd get a thousand hugs
From ten thousand lightning bugs
As they tried to teach me how to dance

A foxtrot above my head
A sock hop beneath my bed
A disco ball is just hanging by a thread

Why does every insect you interact with come in groupings of ten? I'm not even mad, just amazed.

In the second part the lyrics consist of him just naming random dances the fireflies could be doing. Ok. But a disco ball hanging by a thread? Because it's so small because it's made for fireflies? Aw that image is kind of cute I guess ...Oh, I'm sorry, he said lightning bugs here instead of fireflies? It's just so hard to keep these incredibly talented bugs straight. Stupid me.

Another Verse-like Thing:
Leave my door open just a crack
(Please take me away from here)
'Cause I feel like such an insomniac
(Please take me away from here)
Why do I tire of counting sheep
(Please take me away from here)
When I'm far too tired to fall asleep

This part was redeeming for me. The lyrics didn't rely on throw-away metaphors, the lyricist didn't seem to be trying to be lofty or deep. Lyrically, I could get behind this. Let's see what comes next...

To ten million fireflies
I'm weird 'cause I hate goodbyes
I got misty eyes as they said farewell

But I'll know where several are
If my dreams get real bizarre
'Cause I saved a few and I keep them in a jar

Back to the weird fireflies metaphor! Darn, I thought we got some real good forward motion going there. But maybe we did get a little bit of change, as Adam here states that he "hates goodbyes" and got "misty eyes" when the fireflies/lightning bugs left. This is the same guy who stood there staring at them crying in the beginning, but asked that you not think him rude. So, progress, even if it's toward non-conscious beings. This part shows Adam has developed (maybe) some semblance of affection. Aw. But I seriously doubt his ability to use this newfound emotion to woo a lover because the other songs he wrote on "Ocean Eyes" are called Vanilla Twilight (wasn't Tom Cruise in this movie?), Meteor Shower (Lame.), and interestingly enough, Dental Care. Boy, curve balls just abound, don't they? But it's hard to say, as Adam says, because everything is never as it seems. Deep words.

Lastly, if PETA hears about Adam's locking up fireflies in a jar and then publicly parading that fact, they are likely to be upset. And after they just taught him to dance! Also, I'd like to point out that he will only take out the fireflies if his dreams "get real bizarre." Let's sum that up: Adam is going to take out the fireflies that he has captured from the plague because he believes that they can teach him to dance underneath their tiny discoballs.

Seek help, Adam.

The rest of the song is more Chorus. And then instead of ending the last line of the chorus with "because everything is never as it seems" he ends with the unusual twist, "because my dreams are bursting at the seams," which is actually rather sweet and nice. But I still will never purchase it because, as a vegetarian, I do not support firefly cruelty.

01 February, 2010

Ryan's Unlawful 23rd & the Sock Police

Last Thursday was my roommate Ryan's big 2-3. She can now officially be said to be in her "mid-twenties" (which I plan on doing all the time, as I still qualify for the youthful sounding "early twenties." At least for the next month. Success!)

To celebrate the joyous occasion of her birth, we had a dinner party Friday night. We started a dance party at previously non-dancing bar. We threw a blow out Saturday night at our apartment, complete with a ton of friends, bottles of classy (ish) beer, and a even a guest appearance from Boston's finest. And no, they were not just strippers in costume. (Though for a brief moment when I opened the door to the three policeman that idea did cross my mind.)

Around 1:30am, still practically early evening in some parts of the world, three police officers knocked on our door because of a "noise complaint". Firstly- it wasn't noise. It was just really involved dancing set to some compelling pop dance hits. And secondly- what kind of person doesn't like Rihanna's Disturbia?

Life in the puritanical and newly Scott Brown'd commonwealth of Massachusetts does appear to have a few downsides (in addition to the Rihanna-hating). Why is last call at 1:30 am? Why does the subway shut down before last call, at the early hour of 12:30am? (A real aside- taking away a public transportation options seems to be a poor way to discourage drunk driving). And lastly, must all fun be concluded before 1am? Is all fun that occurs after that time strictly prohibited? The city of Boston (or at least the police) cause me to ponder.

While Ryan's bass-heavy speakers are most likely to blame for the police visit, Eric's fly dance moves, Mijon shaking it like a salt shaker, and Denise madly twirling probably didn't help any. Or my doing of the worm (amidst riotious cheering, might I add. Really, how could one pass up an opportunity so fine?)

But at the end of the day we must ask ourselves, what better way is there to celebrate a friend's birth than to have the event honored and attended by Boston's finest?

While dancing at the party I also was forced to say goodbye to another pair of socks. The hardwood flooring in my apartment- the same flooring that sounded so nice on paper- has successfully devastated my entire sock collection. Rogue nails haphazardly hammered in (it would seem) catch my feet and cause me to trip around the room more than I already do. There's nothing like making a klutzy girl more entertaining than giving her a vindictive floor.

Many a weekend morning has been spent with me, hammer in my hand, obsessively scouring out the rogue un-embedded nails and then pounding them into submission. While my roommate laughs. Though equipped with a pair of sturdy-bottomed slippers (a conscientious gift from my sister who is familiar with my sock woes) I sometimes get lazy and indignant. Why should I be forced to wear shoes in my own apartment? I will do as I damn well please, woodfloor. I am bigger and stronger than you. You can take my socks, but you can't take my free will!

My roommate doesn't seem to have this problem. She's lost lost two, maybe three socks in total. I've lost 20. (Or more.) She thinks I am crazy. I think the floor has some vendetta against me. It's a hard argument to win, though. It's not a bad enough problem to validly complain about, but it is just bad enough to irk me. Five times a day. I loved my socks.

Now I am down to about six pairs of socks. Those that remain are riddled with an complete set of tiny, nail-ravaged holes. Yes, there are worse things in life, but I have felt a lot of emotions in terms of the sockwear I've lost. This normally wouldn't be included in polite conversation, except for the fact that my nephews are obsessed with my holey socks. Obsessed. They are the sock police of Boston.

Every time I come into their house they ask to see the holes. They ask to touch the holes. Throughout the day as we are playing with cars, trucks, markers, and stickers they like to bring up the holes in my socks to talk about them. Why do you have holes? Are there any others? Can I touch them again? My toes are prodded and tickled daily by two extremely interested toddlers. But at least they find me amusing. Auntie Emma and the hole-y socks: it would make an excellent kids book. Or an indie rock band.