Tuesday, June 30, 2015

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 30: A Song You Discovered This Month (During The Challenge)

They say all good things must come to an end, and since today is the last day of June, it's time to put the finishing touch on this year's 30 Day Song Challenge. If you're interested in going back to check out my previous picks, I've collected them all at this link. I had a lot of fun mulling over, listening to and writing about music again this time around and I'm already looking forward to next June.

Today's prompt asks for a song that you discovered this month, while doing the challenge. I actually doscovered a lot of new music this month, mostly thanks to friends far and wide who were playing along with me on Facebook, Twitter or on their own blogs. So it's funny, I suppose, that I "discovered" my pick for today right in my own backyard.

I'm really super-excited to share this song and this artist as the grand finale to my 2015 30 Day Song Challenge.

Monday, June 29, 2015

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 29: A Song You Want Played At Your Funeral

IT'S A TWO-FER TODAY in the 30 Day Song Challenge!! I couldn't pick just one so I'm giving you both of my picks for today. That may be kind of a sad commentary on the things I think too much about, since today calls for me to pick a song that I want played at my funeral... but, whatever. This has been the most fun category so far.

And I'll go ahead and say that it was very hard for me, like a lot of people I'm guessing, to NOT choose "Another One Bites The Dust." Hey! They're gonna get you, too!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 28: A Song From Your Childhood

Only a few days left in this year's 30 Day Song Challenge and as much as I've enjoyed participating again this summer, it just got considerably more difficult to do so as I am now swamped with other blog-matters (specifically, my post regarding the recent SCOTUS "marriage equality" decision).  Thankfully, today's prompt is a simple and fun one.  Ahhhhh, childhood.

Like most people my age, I was in part raised and educated by the PBS children's program  Sesame Street, As you may or may not have heard, the early episodes of Sesame Street have now been released as a multi-volume DVD collection entitled Sesame Street: Old School.  For those of us who grew up watching the show, the collection offers a healthy helping of nostalgia and probably several hours worth of hilarity for the next time you and your friends have had a few drinks.  Be forewarned, though:  you'll need to send the kiddies to bed before you watch,  because (according to the warning labels) Sesame Street: Old School is FOR ADULTS ONLY.  Now, you're probably thinking to yourself "WHAAAAA??!!  WHYYYY??!!" as I did when I heard the news.  Is this the edict of some Helicopter Parent? Have the PC Police overstepped their bounds?  Surely there was terrible mistake at the labeling factory!  Did some poor intern mix up the Sesame Street:Old School boxes with The Wire boxes?

A Half-Million Thanks

Sometime late last night, this blog reached a major milestone: we passed the HALF-MILLION UNIQUE VISITORS mark!  I want to express my sincere gratitude to and appreciation for all of you who have stopped by this little corner of the Internet.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

The aim of my work here has always been to cultivate a space for pubic discourse about philosophy, politics, music and pop culture, to contribute in some large or small way to those discourses and to do my part to, in the words of Gilles Deleuze, make stupidity shameful.  I have learned a tremendous amount in the course of doing so and in conversations with many of you here.

RMWMTMBM will be undergoing some cosmetic changes over the next few weeks,so keep an eye out for our new "look" (to be unveiled, if all goes well, late-July or early-August).

I leave you with the full Deleuze quote (from Nietzsche and Philosophy) referenced above:
"Philosophy does not serve the State or the Church, who have other concerns. It serves no established power. The use of philosophy is to sadden. A philosophy that saddens no one, that annoys no one, is not a philosophy. It is useful for harming stupidity, for turning stupidity into something shameful. Philosophy is at its most positive as critique, as an enterprise of demystification. And we should not be too hasty in proclaiming philosophy's failure in this respect. Great as they are, stupidity and baseness would be still greater if there did not remain some philosophy which always prevents them from going as far as they would wish, which forbids them — if only by yea-saying — from being as stupid and base as they would wish. They are forbidden certain excesses, but only by philosophy."

Saturday, June 27, 2015

My Sad Trombone Blows For The SCOTUS Decision (Which Also Blows)

Love did NOT win on Friday when the Supreme Court declared (so-called) "marriage equality" a Constitutional right in its Obergefell v. Hodges decision. Make no mistake: there were a lot of people/interests/agendas that did win yesterday, innumerably more that lost, but "love" wasn't even a lowly grunt in that battle. Neither were "dignity," "respect," "tolerance," "acceptance" and least of all any progressive sense of "equality."

The War on/for Marriage of the last decade was only ever a series of battles between Marriage1 ("traditional" marriage, between one cis-man and one cis-woman) and Marriage2 (also "traditional" marriage, but the cis-woman can swap out her cis-man for another cis-woman, and vice versa). So color me not-at-all-surprised that the protracted-- though, historically speaking, quite abbreviated-- denouement of this War was brought to its finale with SCOTUS' pronouncement that (shocker!) marriage won the contest against itself.  That is to say, a fundamentally exclusive, overdetermined and state-sanctioned cultural institution-- which bestows civic and economic rewards for thoroughly undemocratic reasons entirely unrelated to merit, right or desert, which does so at the expense and to the detriment of more than half our democratic citizenry, which has no governing interest other than the managerial consolidation of private property and the compulsory regularization/normalization of sexual behaviors, familial structures and gender expressions-- has now been marginally modified by the highest court in the land to be a slightly-less-exclusive exclusionary institution.

Color me also unimpressed.

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 27: A Song You Wish You Could Sing

I play guitar and there are plenty of songs that I actually can't play (because I lack the skill/proficiency) but wish I could.  Like, I can't even play those songs badly. Singing is different than playing an instrument, I think, because anyone with a voice can sing any song, even if they do so poorly.  Today I'm picking a song that I wish I could sing well.

I have a low-alto singing voice.  My vocal range is not too shabby, comparatively speaking, but the higher I get in that range the more I tend to cheat and rely on "belting." That is to say, I don't have as much control in my higher registers as I do in my lower ones.  But even with the cheat-belting, there comes a point when there are notes I just can't reliably hit without switching to falsetto, which almost always sounds awful when I do it.

Friday, June 26, 2015

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 26: A Song That Is An Earworm

Earworms are funny creatures, really. When you find yourself infected with one, it can be either a blessing or a curse. Earworms feed on our obsessive-compulsive tendencies, they activate whatever tacit proclivity for addiction lies deep within us, and the only cure for bad ones is to replace them with good ones. It's kind of like the former heroin addict who becomes a marathon runner: the behavioral impulse being indulged is the same, it's just transferred its energies to the service of something healthy rather than unhealthy. But even healthy obsessive-compulsions are still, in the end, obsessive-compulsions.

I'm going to err on the side of positivity today and choose an earworm-experience that was not a miserable one, though it was a protracted one. It happens to be an earworm with which I was infected for a full-- and I counted-- ten days back in the Fall of 2013. Unfortunately, I can't remember what finally broke the spell, though I am sure that it must've been some other earworm.  That's just how these things work.  Here's the story:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 25: A Song With Utterly Mysterious Lyrics

There was a brief moment of time, after the demise of albums with liner-notes and before the Internet, when it really was possible to be genuinely stymied by a song's lyrics. Now, of course, it's easy to find the words to any song, no matter how muddled or garbled they may have been delivered in their recorded version.  I kind of miss the days when we could argue about what a singer was really saying, though (thankfully) the availability and easy accessibility of correct song lyrics has done little to diminish people's hilarious mangling of the same.

See: "Rocket Man"

There remains a number of songs, of course, with lyrics that are "utterly mysterious" in that other, more meaningful, sense: songs that were probably written while tripping or hungover or heartbroken beyond the point of communicability. Or songs that are just magnificently, creatively and incomprehensibly weird.  (See: "What Does The Fox Say?"). Those seem like too-easy picks for today, since the majority of them, I suspect, were intended to stymie the understanding. So I'm taking different approach.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 24: Your Favorite Song This Time Last Year

This time last year, I was blogging (the 2014 iteration of) the 30 Day Song Challenge, as I've done for the last several summers. So I was listening to a much wider array of music than normal, and a lot of songs that were not necessarily "hits" at the moment.  One of the serendipitous things about doing this Challenge every June is that in the process of searching for songs that answer each day's prompt, inevitably I find myself stumbling upon something new. My pick for today isn't something that was released this time last year, but rather something that I "discovered" this time last year.

I do remember that I was going through a Hall & Oates phase at the moment, an 80s duo whose music I truly love. One of my friends, I don't remember who-- if it was you, please let me know so I can give you credit-- introduced me to a truly fantastic EP of Hall & Oates mashups/remixes by The Melker Project titled Ballin' Oates. (I'm now a huge fan of DJ Scott Melker.  Check him out.) At any rate, that discovery sent me in search of more of the like. For what it's worth, I recommend that everyone go down a musical rabbit hole sometime; you will find some really awesome stuff tucked away among the detritus cluttering the less-frequently-visited corners of the Internet.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 23: A Song You Want Played At Your Wedding

Because I'm still catching up on these challenge picks following my elbow surgery, it just so happens that I'm writing today's post on June 26, the day that the Supreme Court announced its decision declaring a Constitutional right to (so-called) "marriage equality."  I don't want to blow my sad trombone today, on a day when so many people of good conscience have good reason to be celebrating, so I'll just say for now that I think this is a Pyrrhic victory. My reasons for thinking so are many and complicated, but that is a post for another day... a day when I have full use of both of my arms and can actually type.

In re today's prompt, though, I should probably first note that I have no intention of ever getting married. That said, who doesn't love a wedding? And who doesn't really love a wedding party?  I may be critical of the fundamentally exclusive and unequal institution that is marriage, which hands out civic and economic rewards for no reason related to merit or desert, but even I have a real beating heart, which is warmed by the pronouncements of love between two people and the promises of their community to affirm and sustain that love. .