The New York Timesreported Friday on a new requirement in the Common Application, the admissions application used by 400 colleges: personal essays can't go over 500 words. Is that enough? I don't know, but if you write long and start lopping, be careful. Learn from my mistake.
Rapping is very meta. A lot of rapping is about how good you are at rapping. Or about how successful and wealthy you are—thanks to being good at rapping.
Sometimes you think rappers might be rapping about something other than rapping, like The Genius here in "Liquid Swords":
I'm on a mission that niggas say is impossible, But when I swing my swords they all choppable. I be the body dropper, the heartbeat stopper, Child educator plus head amputator.
But it's all just a metaphor for rapping. The next lines in the verse:
Cause niggas' styles are old like Mark 5 sneakers. Lyrics are weak, like clock radio speakers.
GZA amputates your head lyrically. The "s" in "swords" is merely stylistic.
When rap is completely meta, just a pure feedback loop devoid of any story or lesson, the fun lies in the rapper's creative flourishes, the ornamentation on the perpetual motion machine. There are uncountable ways to say "I'm good (at saying I'm good (at saying I'm good (at saying...)))"
But even given rap's overwhelming self-referentiality, I was struck recently when I re-listened to the R&B song "Feels Good" by Tony! Toni! Toné!.
Here are the lyrics to the rap interlude.
Mosadies the Mellow, quite a nice fellow. Met three T, hit a rhyme acapello. They had the rhythm and I had the rhyme, So then I hit it that one more time. It worked out and then they worked it in. Tony Toni Tone has done it again!
As you can see, nearly the entire rap (five of the six lines) is about the arrangement and recording of the rap. Explicitly. No fancy (s)wordplay of note. (Unless you count "it worked out" as brag-worthy braggadocio.) What I'm saying is, I think this might be the most pointless rap interlude ever.
My roommate Tracy and I started watching America's Got Talent this season because we know some people who tried out for it. (For example, ArcheDream for Humankind, who have spent years producing blacklight shows that are much more rich than the cool but gimmicky stuff put on by the Fighting Gravity frat boys who are now in the semifinals.)
One of my favorite acts on the show has been ArcAttack!, whom I saw performing a scaled-down version of their electrifying show last year at Gizmodo Galley 2009 . In any case, Sharon Osbourne, one of the judges, uttered a pretty hilarious racial slur this week. Due to their Frankenstein theme, I think she meant to call the members of ArcAttack! a group of "geeks and ghouls" or "geeks and spooks" but instead called them a group of "geeks and gooks."
"Geeks and spools" would have been more technically accurate.
I realized recently while writing about blogging protocol that spell-checkers do not recognize the word unpublish. Odd, I thought at first; it's an essential part of my vocabulary. Then: Of course it's not in dictionaries! Before the Internet, unpublishing a piece of writing made about as much sense as undropping an apple. Sure, you could cease publication (Stop the presses!), but once a book or newspaper is out there, it's out there.
I learned today that the New Oxford American Dictionary named unfriend its 2009 Word of the Year. Unpublish would have served as a less gimmicky option (although maybe gimmickry is part of the criteria for selection). Unfriend in common parlance is restricted to social networking sites. Further, as a general concept, it's not novel. Friends have become enemies for millennia.
Unpublish, on the other hand, signifies one of the largest revolutions in communication since one could publish in the first place. And it's not restricted to getting back at a Facebook acquaintance who uninvited you to her killer birthday party.
Unfortunately, Web publishing may be headed toward one of the words Oxford considered and rejected: paywall. Now there's a surefire way to unfriend your readership.
Conspiracy theorists drive me batty. They distract everyone from the truth. Like those people who think the government brought down the World Trade Center on September 11. When the real cover-up is much more subtle. Everything happened exactly as the government says it did… but on September 12. Memory is so malleable, we don’t even remember that. They shaped the media portrayals because it’s much easier to sell a war when the twin towers graphically line up with the date.
Yes, I’ve heard all the conspiracy theories about Michael Jackson. Murdered by Mark Sanford’s cronies to take the heat off the Argentina thing. Not really dead. Etc. All baloney. I’m something of a conspiracy theory debunker, and the facts are as plain as day. He overdosed on painkillers given to him by a doctor. One who happened to be in the deep pocket of the guy who’s been playing Paul McCartney every since Paul’s death in 1966. I mean that guy’s had a vendetta ever since Jackson bought the Beatles catalog and hawked use of “Come Together” to Elmer’s. I’d be pissed too.
Of course the other big conspiracy theory this summer was that Obama wasn’t born in the United States. That his birth certificate is as forged as the Constitution. What a joke. This one is the work of Tom Hanks, high on his blockbuster Da Vinci Code documentaries. His people are already developing a script. Word is that he’s in a race with Robert Downey, Jr. to break the blackface barrier at the Oscars.
Sarah Palin must have been relieved to have the attention taken off her. That lady is a speculator’s dream-come-true: Trig isn’t hers; she secretly reads the Times. Leaving the governor’s office has sparked more rumors than ever: she’s starting a WNBA franchise (the Wasilla Wombats); she was fired by Donald Trump (his Miss Universe Organization being the true power center of the New World Order); she hopes to make more money marketing a line of lipstick. Look, can’t we just stop assuming that there’s some elaborate conspiracy of detractors attempting to assassinate her reputation with lies, and just assume that there’s veracity to all of these claims? Occam’s razor, people.
And then with the 40th anniversary of the moon landing you had all these nut jobs doped up on fluoride claiming it was faked. I don’t believe it. Neither do I support Malcolm X’s contention that we never actually landed on Plymouth Rock. I have been to Plymouth, Massachusetts, and human civilization is clearly in evidence. Was he implying that all those souvenir shops selling pet Plymouth Rocks are staffed by space aliens? Perhaps suggesting that we didn’t land on the moon, but pieces of the moon have landed on us, sent through space from E.T. moon-miners to E.T. souvenir-vendors who pawn them off on us in an effort to increase the Earth’s mass so that it becomes too difficult for us to launch our fat asses out of Earth’s gravitational pull and discover their home world full of eager-tentacled virgins and glowing pet rocks?
No, no, no. Nothing will keep the Miss Universe Organization away from those tentacled virgins.