Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pointless Pondering

These are worthless subjects on which I waste an inordinate amount of mental energy.

-The annoyance of changing my email address and username on social networking sites if I were ever to become "Internet famous," since I use my full name in all of them.

-Ways in which I could prove my lost iPod is in fact mine if it were in a lost and found. For some reason the person in my head who works at the lost and found is incredibly belligerent and I would give them details of incredibly obscure bands and play counts of songs that only the true owner of the iPod would know.

-Money laundering schemes.

-The fact that football should change its name to downball. Each team gets four downs to get another set of downs, a play ends when a player is down, and the most important aspect of the game is the touchdown. Everyone knows not much time is spent kicking the ball. Most of this time is spent trying to convince an imaginary member of this debate's opposition why it would be a great idea, how it would really clear things up between football and soccer, and how we, as a nation, could pull off this difficult change.

-Excessively detailed hostage rescue scenarios, optimally executed by myself or a group, in varying public locales.

-Which countries would be on which teams if World War III were to break out and why.

-Finding a way of sending secret messages to my family in an Al-Qaeda video. They often make videos of people they have captured and force them to say they are being treated well. I need to come up with certain words, phrases, or body signals that could be interpreted by my family or friends to indicate my well-being. My family or friends could then inform the government of the truth in the situation.

-How I would utilize the powers of Magneto from X-Men.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Avoiding Lamesauce Insults

As a non-confrontational individual, I naturally avoid heated, argumentative situations. I honestly don't want to make other people feel bad, and also do not enjoy being pummeled. I do however, enjoy watching the quality delivery of a particularly deserved burn. Unfortunately, the execution of insults today lack intelligence or creativity. Two people in an argument pull their verbal arrows from the same small quiver. These phrases are meant to be shocking and hurtful, but most people I know have heard them hundreds of times by the time they graduate from junior high.

No one recently called a son of a bird* has emotionally broken down while thinking, "Oh no, has my accuser rightfully bestowed this title upon my mother as a consequence of an unpleasant social interaction? In suggesting my mother lacks character, does my opponent imply I have been raised improperly and am thus a bad person? This shocking revelation of the deficiency of my moral fiber forces me to question every decision of my life so far, including the current point of contention. I concede defeat." The act of being called a piece of corn* has never produced this train of thought: "Am I truly now being compared to excrement? Another human being thinks I not only share physical characteristics with one of the most agreed-upon vile substances in existence, but also the personality of an inanimate object. Profound changes must be made in my life to redeem myself."

If you decide to enter this verbal fray, a true insult should draw attention to flaws in his character, causing self-doubt, shame, or anger. A well timed, specific, and hurtful phrase can cause many different emotional responses, depending on the character of the insulted. Many will choose to avoid further conflict by ending the conversation, while the more violent types will choose to end the conversation by furthering the conflict in the form of a violent beat down. Through the strange combination of hastiness and cowardice, dolts respond with one of the meaningless, overused phrases mentioned earlier, revealing that they have been verbally bested.

No one applies these cop-out phrases to themselves or feels hurt by them. Insecurity causes one to spew them at strangers, hoping to instill fear in those who could physically hurt, or distance from those who could emotionally damage. They also exist to express displeasure in the words or actions of an acquaintance in a way that make the speaker seem tough. Saying, "I'm very sensitive about the way I look and now feel hurt; please don't comment negatively on that subject in the future," takes more openness and courage than most people possess, so they instead decide to advance the intellectual discourse of our country with a courteous "Go enjoy* yourself."

If an argument is unavoidable, think about what you really mean to express. Inform this doofus of his ignorance, ugliness, personality flaws, etc. in a way that he will remember the next day instead of dodging the issue with dime a dozen catchphrases. If you receive an intelligent retort, then we've got a prime argument on our hands.

*This word has not been censored by The Man, but by the author, in accordance with my previous post regarding censorship.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Music Censorship, Part II

After those in power stopped caring about messages of cultural or governmental change in music, only the listening audience remained as censors of music. Immoral lyrics pushed radio stations to remove songs from the airwaves to avoid offending the sensibilities of the general public. Apparently incapable of writing about non-reproductive subjects, this potential ban led artists to create cryptic verses that only hint at the true meaning. The Beach Boys "Wouldn't It Be Nice" appears to be an innocent love song from a star-struck youngster. Take a closer look at a sample of the lyrics:

Wouldn't it be nice if we were older
Then we wouldn't have to wait so long

You know it's gonna make it that much better
When we can say goodnight and stay together

Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true
Baby then there wouldn't be a single thing we couldn't do

You know it seems the more we talk about it
It only makes it worse to live without it

The actions in other portions only go as far as holding and kissing, but it appears to me as if these lyrics are entirely about a man wanting to copulate with an underage girl. An outright statement of this intention would upset parents everywhere. This artist chose to censor his adult and possibly criminal desire into a message acceptable to everyone, avoiding a negative public reaction. Concealing the song's deeper meaning welcomed kids, along with their innocence protectors, into the listening audience. A decade later, Foreigner's lyrics were so uniform in their content, the band may as well have changed their name to Fornicator. However, their less disguised allusions were still ambiguous enough to avoid public relations problems. This allowed adults old enough to say things like, "Young people these days..." to not object, and possibly even enjoy what they're barely hearing.

As society got used to increasing vulgarity, topics of this nature started to be discussed openly in song. "What's Your Fantasy" by Ludacris basically lists dozens of ways in which he plans to give his lady friend the time. Lil' Wayne's "Lollipop" consists solely of the aforementioned rapper striving to get a Bill Janklow* from a female bar patron. Even if you ignore the parts where he says outright what he wants her to do, no one above the age of 12 thinks Lil' Wayne is going out of his way to encourage a woman to enjoy candy. Only specific vulgar words are censored, but no disguises are created for moral messages.

I suspect that artists who take advantage of this continuing loosening of censorship will lose a large portion of their potential fan base, and will become creatively lazy. Why bother coming up with a clever and sneaky euphemism like "Baby, you can drive my car" if you can get away with a shocking and overt one like "I want to friend* you like an animal?" Why not skip euphemisms altogether and describe outrageous behavior in the clearest way possible? Many people formed assumptions about that aforementioned clever lyric of The Beatles' "Drive My Car," but listeners could understandably have interpreted the words literally. Many years later, the song's creator stated what he truly meant, but the phrase fit into the song's vehicular context so well that some people still didn't believe him. To those who can't relate in your intended message, this ambiguity enables them to give the song a meaning they can identify with or enjoy your tune as simple fun. Only people who don't understand English will get anything other than the intended meaning of "When Ludacris get to the bed then start baking*," and those innocent kids and grumpy old people I mentioned earlier won't ever even hear about it.

In an ideal world, music would have a positive, clean message, and would need no euphemisms or censors. Artists who must communicate this kind of message have a choice. Say exactly what you mean and catch the brief ear of the the youth, or censor yourselves and grip the attention of the nation.

*This word has been censored by The Man

Music Censorship, Part I

The act of sneaking messages through the censorship of oppressors has been popular in music for generations. Spreading a controversial message under the seemingly unimposing form of music keeps oppressors from catching on. Songs like "Follow The Drinking Gourd," according to legends, were sung among slaves hoping to escape to freedom. Its seemingly vague lines offered to those who remembered its words geographical directions to a starting point on the Underground Railroad. They learned the safest season to embark on their journey and which rivers to follow or cross. Forbidden from learning to read, repeated singing embedded life-saving details in determined minds. The consequences of such a song being decoded by authorities would be so disastrous, that everyone involved set new records for being outrageously hardcore. I speculate many more musical numbers concealed massive burns against slave owners.

The abolition of slavery granted all the right to literacy, meaning dissidents could now spread ideas in writing. This took away music's usefulness for memorizing instructions, unless very small children are planning something devious. However, music still carried the burden of publicly spreading a message of change that newspaper or book publishers shied away from. Folk group The Weavers braved the Red Scare of the 1950's, trying to improve worker's rights through music. Even after diluting their political message to appeal to a wider audience, the FBI claimed they adhered to communist beliefs. The entertainment industry began blacklisting The Weavers and many other artists after scrutiny from The House Committee on Un-American Activities. Termination of their record contract and removal of their songs from radio play proved The Man still worried enough about the influence of music to censor it.

After the country came down from the bad trip that was McCarthyism, artists were finally free to speak their minds on subjects of political or cultural change. This of course leads us to the whiny, dirty hippy era of music, which I am gracefully skipping over on my way to gangster rap. NWA announced their hatred for cops and accusations of prejudice against the justice system with their hit single, "Hug* tha Police." Deciphering their top-secret message to listeners must have been difficult for those in power, with such ambiguous wordplay as, "I'm a sniper with a doozy* of a scope, taking out a cop or two." Things like this are generally frowned upon, so the government was understandably upset. However, the retribution only consisted of stern letters from the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI, which are probably framed with pride next to NWA's gold albums. Removal from a few concert venues and a short ban from Australian radio provided more publicity than financial harm. Despite the controversial and threatening statements, the group was never in any danger. The Man's interest in censoring messages that could damage him faded.

The invention of the Internet allows any and all contentious directives to be spread easily throughout the nation in secrecy. This has caused The Man's concern for scathing music lyrics to die completely. Even with messages of enjoyment in illegal activities, the oppressor of free thought, whoever you consider him to be, doesn't care anymore. Reggae artist Sean Paul seems to exclusively express his love of marijuana with such hits as "Ever Blazin," "We Be Burnin'," and in a new level of blatancy, "Legalize It." No one cares, and The Man probably hasn't noticed. At this point, a detailed, step-by-step single entitled "How To Overthrow The U.S. Government," could be released without consequence.

This once dangerously awesome theme in music has devolved to Green Day beating the dead horse of the Bush administration's popularity to increase their sales. Musicians no longer fight The Man, because The Man has exited the ring. I'm glad we are all literate and don't have an imposing government, but using music to secretly spread information concerning an uprising is infinitely cooler and more meaningful than political debate with instruments. Anyone who won't pay attention to a message of change unless it has a cool beat behind it isn't in any kind of mental shape to be voting anyway.

Since the voice of the oppressed no longer requires the mask of music to hide behind, protest music is dead. If you have a message to spread, ditch that mask and just write the message on your face. That would get people's attention.

*This word has been censored by The Man

Monday, March 1, 2010

Doing Puns Write

To incorporate puns into your blog, follow these instructions and they will be out of site!

1. If you believe puns to be a childish or low form of humor, write them off completely and move on, but not to step number two.

2. Avoid the obvious. A post claiming the newest zombie movie "totally bites" usually fails to go viral. Only those who want for brains could crave a joke this dead.

3. No writer makes note of other jokes they've made, so why give puns referential treatment? Tacking the phrase "no pun intended" onto the end is nonsense, since an unintentional pun is actually a malapropism. This outwrite attempt to draw attention to an author's own cleverness should be punished. Those who enjoy puns will appreciate them more if they find them on their own, and pun haters will prefer never to have noticed them.

4. Puns need no apology. When a writer has to state their inability to resist after their joke in parentheses, this fool clearly didn't follow my first three steps of using puns wisely. If the readers don't like your quality wordplay, it's their loss. Don't pander to your audience too much. Fitting a pun into this step is proving to be difficult.

5. Have pun with it! Now there's a quality pun right there. Wait, you didn't like it? Sorry about that; must redeem myself... uh... puns are a worldwide... punomenon? That one was good, right? No? That might not even count as a pun? Surely you can't be serious. No, I'm not calling you Shirley (I couldn't help myself; that one's a classic). Alright, this has become a disaster, so just forget it. Puns are for hacks anyway.