29 May, 2010

Celebrating Memorial Day. With Zombies.

The biggest perk about living in a big city is that there are so many people around and so much going on so that at any given time all you need to do is wander around and you will inevitably meet up with at least one cool unexpected thing.

Today's cool unexpected thing was witnessing a zombie strike. Yes, a strike. Put on by zombies. Zombies that were striking for zombie rights. Their cheer: What do we want? BRAINS! When do we want it? BRAINS!

You gotta give them points for cleverness.

This is Jeremy. Jeremy is an articulate undead spokeszombie for the Zombie Rights Campaign (ZRC). In spite of the gaping wounds made by a broken record in his skull and chest, Jeremy stopped to talk with me about the march. He told me that they, the zombies, were marching down Boylston Street to raise awareness for zombie rights everywhere. The zombies weren't asking for much, he said. They just wanted the simple right to exist, and to maybe eat the brains of their children. Who was I to deny them that? Speaking with Jeremy made me realize, "Hey Em, why are you so anti-zombie? Sure, you don't want someone to eat your brains, but should that allow you to judge or dictate the pastimes of others, even if those others happen to be undead?" I think we can all agree that the Zombie Rights Campaign represents a powerful undercurrent of prejudice against the undead and maybe even backlash against the Twilight phenomena. And these modern-day teen wolves, too.

There were a surprising amount of people that marched for Zombie Rights, and they easily numbered into the hundreds. Marching side-by-side were the undead and, counter-intuitively, zombie hunters. (Many zombie hunters were equipped with plastic swords and nerf guns. Not what I'd want in a zombie raid, but to each their own.) The fact that they marched together down the main thoroughfare of bustling Boylston on a busy Saturday afternoon is nothing short of a grand gesture of unity. If the zombies and those who seek to kill them can put down the (literal) hatchet, why can't Republicans and Democrats become party-blind and reach across the aisle to collaborate on an end to America's precarious dependency on non-renewable energy sources?

Though a non-traditional way to acknowledge the Memorial Day weekend, America is founded on the basic rights for all of its citizens, be they black, white, gay, straight, dead, undead. God bless America.

EarthFesting It

Last Saturday, May 22nd, local awesome radio station, 92.9, and local sometimes awesome grocery store, Whole Foods, hosted the free concert series they called "Earthfest." Earthfest was held on the lush Esplanade of the Charles River, the most perfect place to sit down and enjoy a concert in Boston. Tie-dye and teenagers ran amok, reminding me of photos I've seen from Woodstock, though happily Earthfest had both clean bathrooms and a full water supply. Another fundamental difference was the presence of many young families with little children rocking out on their parents. Notably (and deliciously), there were dozens of environmental (and pseudo-environmental) companies on hand to promote their cause and give away free food, stickers, and tattoos. Well, except for the sausage stand that was both not free and was only there, as the sausage guy told me, "bug the vegetarians."

Many concert attendees did not seem to notice nor mind that the event was held exactly a month after the real Earth Day. I like to believe that this is because people live a little bit of Earth day in their lives, everyday. But the rampant marijuana usage could have played a role in the feelings of social harmony and environmental respect, as well.

Though hailed as an event to celebrate the Earth, the free samples, many of which were encased in a nice layer of thick plastic, was a bit counter-intuitive to the event's truest aspirations. But it's hard not to feel happy and earth-loving when you're given free ice tea, bread, hummus, greek yogurt, and even (slightly randomly) green peppers. But one shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, even if that gift horse is wrapped in non-biodegradable plastic. Besides, I like to believe that Mother Earth would want me well fed, so that I am fully energized to go forth and do her bidding. Or something.

Earthfest had an awesomely rad set list if you ever were a radio lover during the years of 1989-1996. Collective Soul, Gin Blossoms, and Marcy's Playground. My seven year old self was ecstatic. Sadly, the only reaction to Marcy's Playground for some was "who?" An actual conversation:

Friend: Oh, they were the people that sang that song about sex and candy or something, right? What was it called?
Me: Sex and Candy.
Friend: Right.

Excellent 90s music, free food, hours spent lounging under the sunlight (with only minimal sunburns), and a slight contact high: everyday should be earthfest.

20 May, 2010

Bravado Can Only Get You So Far

Back in my reckless youth I went on a few really cool trips. I battled waves on a tiny schooner in the waters off Nova Scotia, swam through shark-infested channels on a remote island of the Bahamas, camped near absurdly prolific spiders up in Canada, and bushwacked through trails in middle Appalachia. I fancied myself a true adventurer. And while I thoroughly enjoyed doing these activities at the time, I am very happy that they are in the past. For you see, the past is a delightful thing you can play around with and mold to how you see fit. The distance between the time of the event and now provides a safe comfort zone that takes away the sting of the very real danger and the youthful ebullience that will probably get you into trouble in the real world.

There is something profoundly satisfying about telling tales of death-defying danger and intrigue when you yourself happen to be wearing your favorite tee shirt and sipping on a Corona. There is no secret as to why Man Vs. Wild with Bear Grylls does so well on the Discovery Channel. And while I sincerely hope my future holds many more adventures for me, at the moment I am perfectly content to live in an urban center where the biggest risk of my day involves getting hit in the face by an over-excited toddler. In addition, this downshift in real-life risk makes the "dangerous" adventures that beckon around every corner at the Aquarium seem that much more dramatic.

One of these adventures involves a snake. A few months ago at the Aquarium a mature anaconda, Kathleen, gave birth to 16 squirmy baby snakes. (Initially my boss said that there were 17 snakes accounted for, but with the official count topping off at 16 he just told me that I should be on the lookout around the gallery where I worked. I am pretty sure he was kidding.) While doing some research at the desk in the Freshwater area, my friend Jimmy came over to ask me if I wanted to play with the baby snakes. It helped them get comfortable and acclimate to human contact. (What, this doesn't happen to you at work?)

I needed to stretch my legs, so I welcomed the change of pace and wandered off towards the closet in the intern lounge that is currently home to three baby anacondas. The snakes are inventively named A, B, and C. I'm told that they won't be named until they are shipped out to their next home, another aquarium where they will hopefully be loved enough to named. The babies are still three to four feet in length but nowhere near their mother, who clocks in at 15 feet. "Babies" is a relative term.

"Want to hold her?" Jimmy asked, baby "A" held ever so gently in his hands. Her tongue flickered a little too much for my pleasure, and I was sure she was staring straight at me, taunting me. Jimmy told me that she was the tamest of all the baby snakes, and therefore the least likely to strike. Her eyes suggested otherwise.

"No thanks, I just wanted to see her." I lied, thinking to myself that simply being in baby A's presence surely was enough of a risk for one day. But then I thought over the fact that saying no to Jimmy was, in effect, denying the full advantage of my aquarium experience. My friend Ko always talks about the importance of being, as she calls it, "open to the universe." How many times in my life will someone ask me if I want to handle an anaconda? I could probably count it on one hand. Maybe one finger. So against an instinctual yearning to walk away, I forced myself to walk forward. "Actually, sure." I told him. "Why not."

Though I wouldn't necessarily want to have a sleepover with one, I wouldn't say that I had a big fear of snakes. It's more like a healthy respect. I am quietly fascinated by an anaconda's amazing musculature, its ability to eat a capybara (fun fact: we feed them guinea pigs and baby bunnies) and, of course, the alien-like tongue flickering. This fascination is the same kind of fascination that one might have with a tsunami. While I would prefer to not be intimate with one, I think they are fantastically captivating. But I just prefer to be fascinated by them when there is a distance of at least ten feet or more between us. More so with the snake. That's just how I roll.

Immediately my heart switched from reticent exhilaration to adrenaline-pumping terror. My thought process, though colorfully punctuated with silent shrieks of nonsensical horror, went more or less like this:

"This is gonna be pretty awesome. It's totally no big deal... Oh. Oh. I don't like this anymore. I was just kidding. I was really just kidding. Ok ok don't freak out, just play it cool. It's just a baby. But maybe babies can't control what they bite. What if my hands smell like food. Does my hand smell like lunch? No no no, just play it cool and breathe. Snakes can sense fear just like bees. Oh my god, my heart is starting to pound. Stop it, heart. Stop it! The snake can sense that. Oh my god, can the snake sense that? Deep breaths. Oh my god it's going up my arm, oh my god oh my god. Dear lord just stop freaking out oh my god it's squeezing my upper arm oh my god oh my god it's looking at me play it cool play it cool playitcoolplayitcool. I can't do this oh my god I will start going to church again, just please do not bite me pleasedonotbiteme pleasedonotbiteme."

This inner monologue took approximately 10 seconds, or .42 seconds longer than Usain Bolt ran the 100m in 1999. That's fast. Throughout those absurdly long ten seconds, I tried to maintain my composure as best as I could. Freaking out doesn't help anyone, and in the world of unpaid internships an intern that's freaking out because of a snake isn't exactly the one that you want to bring on a collecting trip to Brazil. So I tried to joke around with Jimmy. I talked about snake maintenance as though I had studied the subject. I used a lot of unfamiliar words and may have broken into tongues at some point. I don't know, I wasn't really paying attention. I was just desperately trying to convince myself that I wasn't holding a snake. And the snake that I definitely wasn't holding definitely wouldn't bite me. But there is a fine line between being cool with something, just trying to play it cool, and then crossing over into the realm of not caring how calm and collected you seem anymore. I gave myself away a little when I practically yelled (much too loudly for the little closet) "Jimmy, just take it away takeitaway takeitawaytakeitaway." I know I scared him a little bit. But at that moment I just wanted it off me, so I could resume being fascinated safely from a distance.

The more I learn about wildlife, the world at large, and my own fallibility, the more I just want to stay inside on my couch, safe and cuddly under my snuggie*. It's nice to be able to say that I handled an anaconda, but the anaconda-free zone of my apartment feels like pure heaven right now. At least, it will feel this way until the horse of adventure beckons again, at which point I will probably join that collecting trip to Brazil. Where there most definitely will be anacondas. But an adventure is an adventure, and you can't exactly say no to Brazil.

*I do not have a snuggie. Yet.

18 May, 2010

We're gonna need a montage

There are some moments in my life when all I want is a fast-forward button. Though I try to be a great proponent of living every minute to its fullest, of throwing off those bowlines, of carp'ing the diem and saisir'ing the jour (if you will), there are just times when I look at the situation I find myself in and think, "pass." Unavoidably, there are times in every person's life that aren't particularly enjoyable. Standing in lines. Riding the commuter rail. Grocery shopping. Any period of time that you wouldn't be able to relate to someone else in a funny and engaging can qualify. "And then corn was on sale, 5 pieces for $2 dollars! And I bought an artichoke!" It's not exactly the stuff of which dreams are made, but they are the basic inevitabilities of day-to-day living in this busy world of ours. I understand that, I do. I just believe, down in the deepest depths of my star-gazing soul, that there should be a montage option.

Years before I paid good money to see Team America World Police, I grew up feeling that there had to be montage capabilities in my life. There just had to be. I thought that, if I just concentrated hard enough, I would have the ability to transform the next few moments (hours, days, whatever) into a condensed, effective, and inspiring bit of bite-sized life. A slice of life, where I could glean the important stuff, take home all the take-homes, and then come away a bit more inspired than when I started. Add in a few sweeping panoramas, some dramatic scene cuts, a background song that really encompassed the feeling of the moment, and voilá: perfect montage. It would make life so much better.

There is nothing more inspiring than a montage set to "c'mon guys, we can do this!" kind of music. Think the montage scene of all montage scenes, the fight scene from Rocky III. We get Rocky training, boxing, losing, becoming determined, and then winning, all in 3 and a half minutes. Do you know how long a boxing match takes in real life, let alone the whole training process and finding that inner resolve to work and train harder? I don't, but I would bet good money it's longer than 3 minutes. (Probably?) THIS is why montages are great: I want to live my life, but live it in a more exciting way. A montage would enable me to fast-forward the boring stuff, with the added bonus of possibly making the boring stuff even better. Because how much faster would you type out that report if "Eye of the Tiger" was playing in the background? How quick and excellent would your walk to work be if "I Believe I Can Fly" by R.Kelly swelled in from the background? When "My Name Is Lincoln" by Steve Jablonsky starts up as you do crunches, clean your bedroom, write cover letters, even taking a nap, would anyone have any question in their mind as to whether you will or will not succeed? No. No they would not. And with a montage, you won't even have to endure the endless tedium of crunches. It's a win-win.

This is why I violently want the montage option to be real. If I will it into existence, it will come. Studying, walking, and even washing some dishes- by god, it will all seem suddenly heroic. Though I can't find any homemade youtube videos out there that support me in this belief (really youtube? really? nothing?) one day I hope to make my own inspiring montage out of really boring menial tasks. Washing windows. Swiffering the floor. Standing in line at the bank. Reading a newspaper online. If you'd like to help me in this endeavor, let me know. (Here is what youtube did give me, and for that I am thankful.)

In lieu of an actual montage button (sigh), my music player does get me halfway there. By acting as my own personal soundtrack against the world at large, listening to (good) music makes any long-ish task seem suddenly incredibly important, introspective, worthwhile, and dare I say it, epic. And because good music should be shared, I've compiled a few of my favorites.

The Bravery, Believe. I've been using it when applying to jobs and/or the search for meaning in this crazy world of ours. When lead singer Sam Endicott sings, "So give me something to believe 'cause I am living just to breathe/ and I need something more to keep on breathing for/ so give me something to believe" my heart pangs in a kind of kindred spirit recognition. It pangs.

Sometimes when I'm commuting I need a little reinforcement. Jay-Z provides that, with his collaborative cover of Linkin Park "Numb" called "Numb/Encore."

Elton John, My Father's Gun. Aside from my undying belief that Sir Elton can do virtually no wrong (and thus naming my iDog in honor of him) this is a perfect song to listen to if you are forced to undertake any superfluous chore. When those first few chords come in you suddenly feel a bit more bluesy, a bit more to-hell-with-the-world, no-one-understands-you. But then you realize that it's all going to be ok. (Or so the song makes me want to feel, anyway.) Hypothetically, if you are forced to shop at Whole Foods (because hypothetically it's the only supermarket within a 20 minutes radius and you don't have a car), this is an incredible song to feel a "no one can understand you" kind of unique, setting yourself apart from other organically-minded high-end food-shoppers. Are those spandex-wearing young business professionals going to be listening to the Tumbleweed Connection on their ipods? Doubtful. Very doubtful.

Kaiser's Orchestra, Maestro. Alternative rock straight out of Norway, sung in Norwegian. It doesn't matter that you can't understand the words. For instance, I listened to it perhaps 4 or 5 times before I thought to myself, "hey, are they singing in English?" and would have been convinced of any language you told me. The words don't matter. Kaiser's Orchestra demonstrates that all you need is a catchy chorus and passion. And maybe some subtitles, too.

14 May, 2010

Back in Black calls out Beck

Lewis Black delivered quite possibly the best "Back in Black" segment on John Stewart's The Daily Show on Wednesday night. Two thumbs way, way up.

(at 4:10)
Lewis Black: I'll give Glenn Beck this. He's got style. He can even make a paranoid Nazi comparison using poetry.
Beck (footage): You ever heard the old poem, 'first they came for the Jews'? Well, first they came for the banks, then it was the insurance companies, then it was the car companies.
Lewis Black: Glenn- get a grip. There's a difference. They came for the Jews to kill them. They came for the banks and the car companies to give them 700 billion dollars. If that's coming for them, then come for me! Hell, for 700 billion, I'll go to you!"

12 May, 2010

A simple exercise in gratitude

There are many days when I take my relatively clear vision for granted. In fact, I'd say most days, nay- nearly every day has fallen into this category. It's always that way with the essentials- you don't realize how good you have it, until you don't. Cheap food (damn you, Whole Foods supermarkets), clean drinking water (damn you, Aquapocalypse scare), and good vision. Never, ever will I forget to be grateful for you again.

It all started Tuesday morning on the commuter rail. As some other train passengers riding the rails do, I fell asleep on my morning commute. Napping on the commuter rail is an innocuous, simple, and usually satisfying pastime. This Tuesday would be different in a terrible, terrible way.

I fell asleep somewhere between the Bravery's "Believe" and the Antlers "Kettering" playing on my shuffle (thanks Jon!) When I woke up twenty minutes later, riding through the greener pastures of the North Shore, I made a terrible discovery: I could not see. As in a blurry, eye-blinkingly painful lack of vision. While there are very few places in the world where I would prefer to have this happen to me, public transportation does not rank high on the list. I panicked.

Struggling to the front of the train, I blindly groped around for the edges of seats that would propel me forward and off the train car at (what I hoped) was my stop. I tried to do this while maintaining an air of grace and sophistication, but I could feel other passenger's eyes on me. I am sure it was not a pretty picture. So I shot looks that said "maybe I am just too cool to keep my eyes open, okay?!" at what I hoped was a person and not just someone's jacket hung over a seat. Glaring at a jacket, I'm sure, would not help my case.

The conductor on my regular morning train is jovial man, known for winking and occasionally letting me ride for free. Today he laughed at me, "Hey there, Lucky. You tired today?" (Side note: he calls me Lucky for my history of hopping on the train seconds before departure. Regardless of whether I leave my apartment 5 or 20 minutes before the train is scheduled to leave. This ability amazes even me.)

"Must have got something in my eye." I laughed too loudly, overcompensating. If I had been able to see, I would have been met with a confused, possibly scared look. "Public transportation is never safe!" I continued. No, I am not sure what I meant by this. At this point I was running on blind auto-pilot.

My day only got worse from there. Driving on the road, trying to play "airplane," coloring inside the lines, and playing hide and go seek were not in the cards for the nephews that day. (It's not so fun to play Hide and Seek with a blind person.) So that day I was the sad creature in the corner, eyes closed, responding to what I thought the boys were doing, and trying to act like it was all normal.

Quinn (choking his little brother Cole by wrestling him to the rug.): "Ha ha! Auntie Emma, look at me!"
Me: "That's great, buddy!" I told him, staring off somewhere into the kitchen and saying a silent prayer to not step on anyone.

Finally, after avoiding any sunlit spot in the house and squinting in sightless agony like some weird sort of bat pirate, my sister and I decided I should just go home and try to sleep it off. I drove to the station, maxing out at around 5 miles per hour and using all my willpower to keep at least one eye open and avoid anything pedestrian-like. To add insult to injury, a complete lack of parking spaces had me cursing the sunlight and circling the station until I missed the train. I was forced to sit in the car for the next two hours waiting for the next inbound train to come, lest drive back to the boys and risk hitting something/someone. It was not a shining moment in the history of me. I fell asleep, my eyes watering extravagantly, as I tried to sing along with the words to distract myself from the pain. When a person came up to me to (most likely) ask me to move my car, they were met with a crying girl, rubbing her eyes and singing CCR perhaps a bit too loudly. While they didn't exactly run away, they didn't stay long enough to make a new friend, either. And that was okay with me. Better them thinking that I was going through some deep emotional life crisis through song than to know the real, pretty lame truth: my eye really, really hurt. No, I am not proud.

After mercifully falling asleep, I awoke up two hours later, clutching my chest and gasping for air. As my brain usually works, I was confident that my eye problem had manifested itself into some full body infection that had traveled to my lungs and would effectively end me. But a minute later I soon came to the realization that I had only failed to leave the window open a crack. A bright sunny May afternoon spent in a black car would suffocate anyone, but now at least I can empathize with dogs left out in the car during grocery shopping. Talking with my sister later, she told me she was positive that she was going to get a phone call from the police about a suspicious dead person parked for hours in her car in the train station parking lot. It was not a moment that I would want to be depicted in the movie of my life.

But I made it onto the train successfully, and somehow, after staggering and tottering through downtown Boston like a hung-over reveler in the wake of mardis gras, I made it back to my apartment where I now reside, using my sense of touch to leave my bedroom and get to the fridge. Though I may look like a drunken bat, I think I can ride it out from here.

It's not all bad. Besides a total crushing blow to my ego, I've learned to enjoy music in a new way. Last night I was so bored of not being able to see anything that I turned on my iTunes and just closed my eyes. It was a way more interesting experience than simply playing music in the background. Then, when I was so fed up I declared my lack of vision would no longer hold me back, my roommate and I watched Glee. Watched is a very generous term for what I did, but I think I got more out of the images I saw in my mind than Ryan did by actually watching the show. At the ripe old hour of 10pm I turned in, for lack of any useful activity that didn't necessitate vision.

Today, as I sat in my apartment fearful of the sunlight and hoping that the worst was over, I decided something: I needed to make a big gesture to the gods in order for them to restore my eyesight. That was why it hadn't come back yet! So, in the name of eye health everywhere (and especially in me), for the next thirty days I will not consciously take my eyesight for granted again. And by taking it for granted, I mean the hours I spend looking at foolish and foolishly addicting websites. Goodbye, chatroulettetrolling.com. Au revoir, graphjam.com. Adios roflrazzi.com. Ciao ciao, thesuperficial.com. You shall be missed. Hello, vision. How I have missed you.

07 May, 2010

Lyrical Analysis: Justin Bieber's "Baby"

Today we're going to take a look at Justin Bieber, the 16-year old Canadian who's mother once upon a time put videos of him singing up on youtube and the rest, as they say, is history. He now rules the air waves with a Disney-esque vibe, dreamy side-swept hair, and a very high voice that the girls just dig. Bieber has had seven songs from his debut album, "My World," on Billboard's Hot 100, being the the only artist to ever have done so. This is a true testament to the power of tweens everywhere. His song "Baby" comes off his "My World 2.0" album, and has given him international pop clout. Let's take a look at the lyrics behind the hair that makes underage hearts the world over swoon.

Justin Bieber's "Baby"
Ohh wooaah, ohh wooaah, ohh wooaah
You know you love me, I know you care/ 
Just shout whenever and I'll be there
You want my love, you want my heart/ And we will never ever ever be apart

That's a lot of "-evers". Personally, I find independence rather attractive and need my own space every once in a while. But then again, I was not born in the 90s and am not the target demographic for the Beebs. But as I prefer boys to spend less time on their hair than I do, I'm ok with that.

 Are we an item? Girl quit playing/ We're just friends, what are you saying
Said there's another, look right in my eyes/ My first love broke my heart for the first time

It does make sense for your first love to be the first to break your heart. Gotta hand it to him though, he is striving for lyrical clarity. He could have just said that his first love broke his heart and I would have been all, "but did he have his heart broken before?" Now I don't have to.

And I was like baby, baby, baby ohhh, like baby, baby, baby noo
Like baby, baby, baby ohh, I thought you'd always be mine, mine
Baby, baby, baby ohh, like baby, baby, baby noo
Like baby, baby, baby ohh, I thought you'd always be mine, mine (oh oh)

No offense J. Beebs, but maybe she broke up with you because you didn't actually say anything to her. You were "like" "baby" 18 times in the first chorus alone, so she was probably getting out to save her sanity. Valuable life lesson: pet names are useful, but they don't actually work better when they are compounded. It rings a bit insincere. As Shakespeare said, the lady doth protest too much. What are you trying to gain, dreamboat?

For you, I would have done whatever, and I just can't believe, we ain't together
And I wanna play it cool, but I'm losin' you/ I'll buy you anything, I'll buy you any ring
And I'm in pieces, baby fix me/ And just shake me til' you wake me from this bad dream
I'm going down, down, down, down/ And I just can't believe my first love won't be around.

Justin Bieber inadvertently provides a cautionary tale of how not to act in a relationship. Keep calling her "baby," even if she has already broken up with you. Suggest that her love can be bought with jewelry. And because women of all ages love the smell of desperation, tell her you need her to "fix" you. You may be only 16, Mr. Bieber, but you've clearly endured a lifetime of relationship advice and self-help books. Brava.

And I'm like baby, baby, baby ohh, like baby, baby, baby noo
Like baby, baby, baby ohh, I thought youd always be mine, mine
Baby, baby, baby ohh, Like baby, baby, baby noo
Like baby, baby, baby ohhh, I thought you'd always be mine, mine

Dear god, we get it. This song is a bit boring by itself, so I found the music video to watch instead. The video follows the trials and tribulations of J.Beebs while he chases a girl, who we can assume to be his old love interest, around a super club-y, super awesome, totally realistic looking bowling alley. There is excellent lighting, sexually tense bowling-a-strike competitions (inuendo?), and dance-offs in the bowling lanes, though none of the dancers seem to be wearing bowling shoes. What kind of bowling depravity is this!? But Justin Bieber is clearly the coolest kid in the alley, and ergo- the world. Now back to the song.

[Ludacris solo]
Luda! When I was 13, I had my first love, there was nobody that compared to my baby,
And nobody came between us or could ever come above, she had me goin' crazy,
Oh I was starstruck, she woke me up daily, don't need no Starbucks
She made my heart pound, and skip a beat when I see her in the street and,
At school on the playground, but I really wanna see her on the weekend,
She know she got me gazin', cuz she was so amazin'/And now my heart is breakin'
but I just keep on sayin'...

I love that Luda always says his name before he starts speaking. LOO-DAH! How awesome would it be to be able to do this in real life?

At a bar:
"Hi there, can I buy you a drink?"
"EHM-LEE! Gin and tonic, please."

At the store:
"Paper or plastic?"
"EHM-LEE! Actually I brought my own bags, thanks."

At the park:
"Excuse me, are you done with the swings?"
"EHM-LEE! Im'ma be another ten minutes."

In terms of the lyrics, I love when people say things along the line of "nothing ever came between us," after they have already broken up. Something was clearly amiss then, no? Discontinuity aside, this is the best part of the song. But then J.Beebs comes in again.

Baby, baby, baby ohh, like baby, baby, baby noo
Like baby, baby, baby ohh, I thought youd always be mine, mine
Baby, baby, baby ohh, like baby, baby, baby noo
Like baby, baby, baby ohh, I thought youd always be mine, mine

I'm gone, Yeah, yeah, yeah (6x)
Now Im all gone, now im all gone, now im all gone
Gone, gone, gone, gone
I'm gone.

How meta: Justin Bieber says that he is "gone," and then he really is gone 'cause it's the end of the song. He, my friends, is operating on another level entirely. And that level is sheer genius. In the last fourteen seconds of the song he says the word "gone" ten times, an average of once every 1.4 seconds.

Justin Bieber song tally:
"Baby": 54 times
"Yeah": 18 times
"Oh": 17 times
"No": 6 times

54 times for the word "baby." Wow. If we assume that it takes approximately 1.5 seconds to sing the word "baby," if one were to randomly tune in at any point during the 3 minutes and 28 seconds of the song "Baby," one would have a 38.9% chance of hearing Justin Bieber singing the word "baby." Over one out of every three times. That is a lot of babies. And an extremely aptly named song.

Related and amusing website: Lesbians who look like Justin Bieber. It's the hair thing.

03 May, 2010

Surviving the Aquapocalypse

We are three days into the Boston water crisis of 2010, or the "Aquapocalypse" (because it's not a real crisis until the media foists said crisis with a clever name). An underground pipe that was funneling water from the Quabbin Reservoir in Weston to basically everywhere else burst apart on Saturday morning, prompting Governor Deval Patrick to issue a "state of emergency" in the Boston and the greater Boston area. More than 2 million people are without drinking water, myself included. The pipe is being worked on around the clock, but Gov. Patrick was on record yesterday stating that it may be "days, not weeks" before water could be tested and hopefully given it the clean bill of health for drinking. Or cooking. Or brushing your teeth.

Governor Patrick's statement of "days, not weeks" is a little disconcerting, because it implies that the timeline including weeks was, at one time, on the table. (Gah.) So at the moment, it looks like our immediate futures will be heavily dictated by availability of bottled water. While boiling water is a viable option, boiling requires the use of a stove, and the burst water pipe is flawlessly timed with the arrival of summer in Boston. 80 degree weather, humidity, and a small old fourth floor apartment without air conditioning does not a great equation make. So while the inner-environmentalist in me dramatically dies a little bit each time I use bottled water to wash a dish, I persevere. Because personal sadness is almost always preferable to personal projectile vomiting. Sorry, nature. You seem to be on the losing end, lately.

Water concerns are on the minds of the multitudes and has made urban living strange and eerily dystopian. As I was setting out on Saturday evening to meet up with some friends I met a city truck that was driving five miles per hour down the main road, lights flashing, and a man yelling into a bullhorn alerting the (probably already intoxicated) citizens of the area to not drink the water. People were flocking to local marts and food stores to buy water bottles en masse, and the giant local 24-hour CVS was already out of them. I was forced to buy a seltzer. But in spite of the impending obstacles in the hours after the water pipe debacle, spirits were high that evening. Many times I overheard people advocating alcohol's sanitizing effects proudly and loudly. Though hardships came in the form of a few ice-less drinks, many people that night danced and were merry in the face of adversity. And then most likely woke up hungover as they weren't supposed to drink the water. Irony.

The water crisis is affecting business as well. As shown in the first photo, Boston-area Starbucks are not brewing coffee. Let me say that again- Starbucks is not brewing coffee. We might as well just shut down as a city. As Anton Chekhov said, "any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out." And a day without coffee is barely a day at all.

I live near three CVS's. (Urbanity at its finest.) This picture is from the one located across the street that had just received a huge shipment of only one thing: Poland Spring water. Crates upon crates and stacked wall to wall of Poland Spring bottles, inside the cargo load of an eighteen wheeler truck. And this was their second shipment of the day. You do the math. It's a great time to be in the bottled water industry. It's a less good time to be... most everyone else. Water is flying off the shelves, as are paper plates and plastic forks and cups due to the recommendations not to ingest anything that was touched by the contaminated water. My roommate and I were forced to buy higher-end plastic plates, adding to a painful stab to my inner environmentalist's last dying breaths.

Though we are, for the good of society and general interaction, allowed to shower, it is highly recommended that we don't do many crucial daily survival tasks. I'll break it down for you.

Things We Can Do:
  • Buy bottled water.
  • Boil water, risk heat stroke via stove top, be forced to drink bottled water.
  • Whine.
Things We Can't Do:
My roommate and I have come to terms that our probability of projectile vomiting in our future is nothing short of incredibly high. We helped a friend move into her new apartment and thus required water to assuage our collective thirsts from the aforementioned heavy lifting. Regrettably, we learned of the water contamination hours too late, as did many friends I have talked to. But science says water-born illnesses can take a week before they present symptoms, so there are reasons to remain hopeful, at least for the time being. We have been boycotting anything but boiled or bottled water since Saturday afternoon, so the only real threat lies in  running on autopilot and forgetting to not brush your teeth with faucet water. (I've had three near misses and one successful failure the morning after the state of emergency, because it's hard to be cognizant in the morning, especially hard when I haven't had any coffee.) We remain cautiously optimistic about our health because the media says that it won't kill us, just incapacitate us for a little while. Most importantly we have each other, (hopefully) robust immune systems, a case load of bottled water, and netflix. We'll be doing just fine.

This crisis is maybe a scratch on the surface in terms of being an actual life-or-death crisis for most people, but it has raised some issues for me. Never before have I experienced first-hand how crippling life would be in a world where water access is restricted, which was only brought to my attention because of the extremely mild inconvenience of having to go out to purchase some cheap and fully available bottled water. But there are cool organizations, like The Water Project, which you can donate to for only $10 dollars and that provides one person with drinking water for 10 years. So instead of spending money on yet another case of bottled water, I'm going to donate and then risk the heat stroke by boiling my water instead. Because life is infinitely more interesting when there's an element of danger. And when you're living through any kind of crisis where the media feels the need to add the suffix, "-pocalypse."