Strange, nearly unintelligible yet captivatingly shot, constructed, and directed videos hold a special place in my heart. Remember “Losing My Religion“? I was just floored by that video in 1991 when I was all of 16 years old, and I still have no idea how it relates to the song. No matter. It stands on its own.
Currently, Lady Gaga seems to be the reigning queen of incomprehensible yet dynamic music videos. That said, with the exception of “Bad Romance“, I always feel that Gaga’s videos are a bit contrived and inorganic. Enteriamamiwhoami. An electronica project led by singer/songwriter Jonna Lee, iamamiwhoami‘s videos are insane…and stunning. Conceptually, each video seems to contain repetitive symbols, motifs, and allusions that are yet to be explained: white/black contrasts, people in underwear, animals, numeric codes, sexual acts. All of it makes for some engaging visual stimulation. Yesterday, the group released their latest video via their Youtube channel: a track entitled ; john. A single viewing and subsequent listening to the track has me hooked.
Alright, I need to geek out for a moment. I love my HTC Desire HD for multiple reasons: unlocked, Android, insanely large screen (I sometimes feel like I am talking into a personal DVD player), not an iPhone. But, I must say, the touchscreen keyboard out of the box was horrible. I don’t even have big hands (no wisecracks), but couldn’t ever seem to hit the buttons I needed to consistently. Enter the beauty of Android as an opensource project (take that Apple!). Without even messing around with the core of my phone, I was able to install a new keyboard that is insanely customizable (color, key size, background). I can’t even begin to credit all those who put this together, so just find out for yourself. Here’s how I did it and am told, you can install this HTC version of a keyboard (considered one of the best) on any Android phone. Just make sure you select the correct operating system version (i.e.- Froyo – 2.2):
I have never identified myself as a pacifist. Nevertheless, I typically revolt against acts of violence of any kind, justified or otherwise. When the news of Osama Bin Laden’s justified killing fell across my computer screen at work, I simply felt emptiness.
Disappointment, however, has replaced this emptiness. Disappointment, sadness, and some anger. The celebrations that poured forth after the announcement from Times Square to university campuses to small towns in the West illustrate an incredibly simplistic view of the current world and situation we live in. The world is not broken down so easily into the dichotomy of good and evil. If we take this road, we only reestablish the unflattering, stereotypical image of America and its citizens as unsophisticated, over-zealos patriots who revel in anything that supports their viewpoint while displacing their responsibility and culpability.
We turn in disgust when we see our fallen soldiers dragged behind cars or burned in a riotous crowd and dismiss it as barbaric behavior. We find fault in dancing crowds who burn our flag and stomp on pictures of our president, our soldiers, and our iconic images. Yet, when the time had come, we decided to commit the same obscenities. Thus, instead of being a beacon of understanding and empathy, our actions these past few days convey arrogance and imperiousness.
For the past ten years, we have missed multiple opportunities to show ourselves and our nation to live up to our declarations of being a great country who embraces diversity, multiplicity, and tolerance. The killing of a major symbolic enemy was another. We did not have to show remorse or regret. We did not have to show sadness or pain. What we did have to show was solemnity and dignity for a situation that was made better because a person had to be killed.
For a relatively unknown band, this video from Hooray for Earth is remarkable and should be thrown onto heavy rotation on a music television station that actually plays music videos. Does anyone know where one of those is located? I love it when vision and talent constructs inspiring art with relatively little means. Beautifully shot and directed, the narrative molds with the music and provides exactly what a solid music video should do: enhancement to the listening experience. And on its own, the listening experience is quite good as well. Press play.
I am constantly amazed by what Yewknee.com produces on his website. I think I link to him about three times a week. This video is no exception. Just brilliant. If the rest of Danger Beach’s music and artistic merits mirror this, look for more of them on the Music page.
I love depressing novels, poetry and plays; or, at least, my students seem to think so.
Recently, both my 11th and 12th grade literature classes asked why all the texts I have chosen to make the last two years of their high school a living hell deal with death, show that life has no point, and wallow in the grotesque. I floundered for an answer, mumbled something like, “Well, that’s not exactly true,” and then was cut off with a barrage of good-humored accusations that I was an existentialist, a communist, an anarchist, a sadist…
I must say, it may have been one of my proudest moments as a teacher.
Nevertheless, the debate churned up some interesting questions: Is most worthy literature centered around negativity? Does drama or tragedy primarily rely on the fall more than the rise? Out of the canon of literature, how much is truly not dependent on the absurd, sad ironies of life?
Philosophical debates aside on whether, for example, existential thought is essentially positive or negative, the point my students seemed to be suggesting is that from the so-called existential texts I teach, The Stranger by Camus, Antigone by Jean Annouilh, and The Metamorphosis by Kafka, all may be illicit a cathartic response from the audience, all may have significant stylistic components, and all may be worthy of study, but all of them are also damn depressing. So why did I chose to study these?
If I look at the “great works” of literature available, I must say that it does seem ridiculous that most of the books I have chosen to study are not entirely uplifting. However, in truth, I never find them truly depressing. These are the novels and writings that speak to me, excite me, and inspire me. I also find them insanely entertaining because of their painful construction. My favorite moments from nearly all the books I teach are obnoxious: Vardaman drilling holes into his dead mother’s face in As I Lay Dying; the monstrous image of Gregor trying to kiss his sister on the neck and lock her in his room; Oedipus pushing the pins into his eyes. Each moment seems to suspend time and collapse the dual structure of tragedy and humor by illuminating the absurdity of existence while confirming the participatory element of the reader and therefore, reaffirming us as living. We, as readers, can be both moved by our empathy for the situation and our position outside of it that provides the room for us to not only critique but also enjoy the work. Perhaps this is what Nietzsche spoke of when he wrote of the “highest art in saying yes to life.”
Just for fun, here is a selection of more of the works I teach:
As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
Ceremony – Leslie Marmon Silko
A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf
Chronicle of a Death Foretold - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Leaves of Grass – Walt Whitman
A Defense of Poetry – Percy Bysshe Shelley
Paradise Lost – John Milton
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell - William Blake
The Tempest – Shakespeare
Waiting for Godot – Samuel Beckett
Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller
A Streetcar Named Desire - Tennessee Williams
And many more…plus, I do change each year…you know, to keep it fresh. Thoughts?
I probably can’t add much more than what Michael said over at Yewknee, but I had to post this. Providing enough stimulation for multiple “wtf” comments, I would love to know if this group is being satirical or not. Of course, the same could be said for Gerardo.
My recent quick trip to New York was my first return to the United States in nearly two years. From the moment I touched down in Newark, I encountered a slow growing culture shock which has prompted some reflection. Here are my thoughts:
People in the US are insanely polite. Even in New York, the area least likely to receive accolades for its friendliness, I rediscovered the cordiality of my compatriots.
Too many people are fat. The stereotype seems to turning into fact. I find this particularly poignant given the fact that I live in Germany, not the sleekest of countries in terms of height and girth.
Cars and trucks are huge. Our future as a co-leader with China as the largest emitters of Greenhouse Gases seems secure.
Our roads are shit.
The energy of the place is contagious. One feels alive in the US, a feeling unlike any other place I have been. Change always seems eminent.
The shopping is annoying. I went into Target and within a few minutes wanted to scream, pull my hair out and smash all the quasi-stylish home goods. Why does the US really need 5 Acre stores which have everything and yet, nothing?
Radio continues its streak of conforming to the status quo by pumping out the same five songs repeatedly according to whatever pop music genre it reportedly conforms to. Intermixed with this repetition is highly contrived advertisement for everything on public service announcements on how “Tax Fraud Pulls Families Apart” (seriously) to 1950′s style jingles on “The New York Family Circus” (the only circus with New York in the titles – if that doesn’t make you wanna go, what will?).
Overall, the US is cleaner than Europe. It really is. People actually know how to use a trash-can and pick up after their dogs.
Regardless of all the surprises, both positive and negative, Long Island still felt a bit like home with the sights and sounds mixing up nostalgia, and the comfort of my friends securing my tranquility. I can’t wait to get back to Wyoming in August to smell the air that will truly bring me back.