i have a question...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Music Explorers, vol. VI

I was so excited about tonight because I was in charge of a whole section of the evening. The volunteers trickled in and I gave them all the planned agenda. It was nice to notice how confident I've become in presenting the ideas and my philosophies about this project. It's totally a new niche for me.

We had about 10 kids tonight, some of whom I recognized and some of whom were new. We started with a story game, to reinforce the rhyming we'd covered last time. Then I had my big debut, where I presented these lyrics from OutKast's fabulous song, B.O.B.

In-slum-national, underground
Thunder pounds when I stomp the ground (Woo!)
Like a million elephants and silverback orangutans
You can't stop a train
Who want some? Don't come un-pre-pared
I'll be there, but when I leave there
Better be a household name
Weather man tellin' us it ain't gon' rain
So now we sittin' in a drop-top, soaking wet
In a silk suit, tryin' not to sweat
Hits somersaults without the net
But this'll be the year that we won't forget

I wanted the kids to keep the beat, but that didn't go over so well, so I did it to a Casio beat. And I was a huge hit. Then we reviewed which words in the song rhymed. The harder part was getting them to understand the metered writing. So my Co-Leader suggested we just take the last 4 lines. I kept the beat and we all repeated it together several times. Then, a couple brave kids got up and of course did it perfectly. It's always so magical when you think they're not understanding and then they prove you wrong.

Their goal for the evening was to write at least 4 metered rhyming lines. We had 2 kids to each volunteer, and I had the best time walking around and peeking over hard-working shoulders. I cannot get over how talented these kids are.

Crystal, 9, wrote
Today I went to the park
I heard a dog bark
I went home to take a shower
I went out to see the twin towers
I went home to watch TV
I was eating cream cheese

Amaney, 6, wrote
Today I went to the park
But it was too dark
I took something to eat
I had a sandwich with meat

Samson, Moises (who was freaked out in the beginning because he can't read yet), and Tommy (a volunteer) wrote
Samson and Moises woke up today
Samson ate blueberries, Moises wanted to play
Samson went to a party, it was fun
Then he took a shower and had to run

I was very impressed. And I think I counted 4 hugs goodbye tonight.

Next time, they'll write their own words over "On Top of Old Smokey." I want them to write blues songs at some point too.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

sorry, kids

Family calls. No music column today.

Don't cry.

well, bully for her

Miss South Carolina Teen USA: 'I Made a Mistake'

Miss South Carolina Teen USA Lauren Caitlin Upton – whose answer to a simple competition question had her reaching all over the map Friday – gave this explanation: "I made a mistake."

Appearing on Tuesday's Today show, Upton, 18, discussed her mangled answer at the nationally televised beauty pageant when she was queried on why she thought one-fifth of Americans are unable to locate the United States on a map.

Today's Ann Curry suggested that everything must have come at Upton at once, to which the beauty queen (third runner-up in the contest) replied, "Yes, everything did come at me at once. I was overwhelmed, and I made a mistake. I'm human."

As for the pivotal moment, "right when that question was asked to me," she recounted, "I was in complete shock, and I was just overwhelmed." Upton says she thinks she heard only one or two words of the question itself. "I drew a blank," she said, "I misunderstood."

The pageant's TV host, Mario Lopez, tells PEOPLE that as the meltdown was occurring he wanted to help Upton but was told that he couldn't talk to the contestants while they were answering questions.

"It was a very intense moment," Lopez said. "It's live TV. You don't know what the question is until you get up there. And I believe that she misunderstood it. She went down the wrong road and couldn't figure out how to get back to the right one. I felt really badly for her."

Sitting in the Today studio, Upton also noted that she was nervous about appearing again on live TV, but then said, "I'm sitting here, laughing at myself ... because I'm thinking, is that really me [on the TV clip]? It's like I'm not in my actual body."

Upton, who said she plans to take graphic design in college and then move to Los Angeles with the hope of a career in movie and TV special effects, was then given another chance to answer the question.

Her reply: "Personally, my friends and I, we know exactly where the United States is on our map. I don't know anyone else who doesn't. And if the statistics are correct, I believe there should be more emphasis on geography in our education so people know how to read maps better."

(from People.com)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

some may call me a cynic

But I stand by my conclusion that most people are dumb.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

everyone, take note

This is what I want for Christmas.


You Are Death

You symbolize the end, which can be frightening.
But you also symbolize the immortality of the soul.
You represent transformation, rebirth of a new life.
Sweeping away the past is part of this card, as painful as it may be.

Your fortune:

Don't worry, this card does not predict death itself.
Instead it foreshadows the ending of an era of your life, one that is hard to let go of.
But with the future great new things will come, and it's time to embrace them.
Mourn for a while, but then face the future with humility and courage.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Infinity On High

Fall Out Boy’s latest album Infinity On High begins with applause and Jay-Z’s invocation. The boys from Chicago seem to know they’ve made it, and this album is confident in its cleverness and catchiness.

In my humble opinion, the hero of this album (if not the band—I’m not a connoisseur of theirs, but I can take an educated guess) is the lead singer, even if he’s not “the cute one.” (Pete Wentz is the bassist. Patrick Stump is the one second from the right.) He’s sincerely a white boy with soul. His voice carries weight and grit but can also soar into a strong falsetto and his riffing skills are addicting.

On “The Take’s Over, the Break’s Over,” he invokes Adam Levine (and I mean that in the best way possible). His battle cry on the rock operatic “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s a Goddamn Arms Race” aches for an arena. (In fact, it ends with an intense call and response.) His falsetto on “Hum Hallelujah” impresses. On the bridge of their current single, “Thks for the Mmrs,” accompanied by Spanish guitar that comes out of nowhere, he growls “Get me out of my mind/Get you out of those clothes.” And his riff at the end of “Bang the Doldrums” soars the track to its incredible climax.

There’s an interesting element on this album too, courtesy of incredible production. Not only are Stump’s vocals the star, but the background vocalists often steal the songs. They take over during the straight-from-Leonard-Cohen “Hallelujah” chorus during “Hum Hallelujah,” and the effect is striking. On “Golden,” the piano ballad on the album, the simplicity of the song itself is intense in contrast to the other harder driving songs, but the chorus and piano take it to further intensity as it concludes. “Thks for the Mmrs,” includes techno-like “One. Night. Stand. Oh,” which seriously makes the song for me, even though I can’t necessarily explain why.

The band’s inspirations are obvious. “The Take’s Over, the Break’s Over” is heavily Maroon 5-influenced. “Bang the Doldrums” sounds like Green Day, and “You’re Crashing, But You’re No Wave” begins with drums that sound like a Strokes track and a baritone part of Stump’s range we haven’t heard earlier on the album. There is serious 80s influence on “The (After) Life of the Party,” and the beginning of “I’ve Got All This Ringing in My Ears and None on my Fingers” sounds like the beginning of the finale in Fame.

Plus, these boys are clever. (My favorite track name is “I’m Like a Lawyer with the Way I’m Always Trying to Get You Off (Me&You).”) And by the time the applause at the end of the album is followed by the robotic voice, I can’t help but obey it. “Now press repeat.” I do. Over and over.

away messages, ed. 2

Here are some more witticisms, courtesy of my Gmail away messages:

If Gmail were a dude, he'd be so hot.
Sometimes we take chances/Sometimes we take pills.
I'm tough, grrrrrrrrrrr. x-(
Mz. Kee, if you're nasty.

Monday, August 20, 2007

unbeknownst to you and despite me

You've taught me how to keep secrets.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Music Explorers, vol. V

I was especially excited about tonight's project because we were going to have the kids write their own raps. It was something that had been mentioned the first night as an offer so kids would come back, and I convinced my co-leader to follow through with the plan.

We started by reinforcing what rhyme was, and all the kids (only 6 of them tonight) enthusiastically yelled out some easy rhymes, when we brought up words. Then we all went around the table and introduced ourselves and something we like that rhymes with it. I like my friend Danny. (I figured I couldn't mention my fanny.)

Then we broke down "Hey Diddle Diddle" and "Hickory Dickory Dock," had the kids point out the rhyming words and established the difference between reading them and reading them to a beat. My co-leader also wanted to introduce a bit of coordination, so we stood in a circle and did hilarious variations on the step-touch. Kids are funny.

And brilliant. When we brought up the creative task of the night, they all jumped in head first. We assigned them to write at least a 4 line "rap," using rhyme, beats, and writing about their favorite hobbies. And then each and every one of them got up and performed them by themselves. This part of it is a bit of a triumph because we have witnessed some crippling shyness from a lot of kids--they do well in a group and then when they're singled out, they clam up. Perhaps it was the smallness of the crowd and the enthusiastic support of us and the volunteers, but they all did SO well. And honestly wrote raps with less self-consciousness and angst than any of the grown-ups.

Here's mine:
"I act and write/Don't like to fight/And I watch my TV each night.
Annie's my name/Teaching's my game/One day I'd like to have riches and fame."

Next week, the plan is to challenge them a little more and expand on their growing knowledge of rhythm and rhyme by teaching them about accented and unaccented syllables. I'm very excited.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Anybody else remember these guys?

Last night I was at Wood Ranch, a BBQ restaurant near my cousins' house in Los Angeles. It's very family friendly, so we brought the grandmother and the one-year old. (It's their regular spot, in fact.) When our waiter came up to greet us, I recognized him immediately as Trevor from O-Town. (He's the one singing "Cuz you...and I, etc." in that video and in the red shirt and strange blond dread things in this video . God, these songs are awful.)

He was incredibly sweet, a gifted waiter, in fact, and after I ordered a Sierra Nevada, that's what he called me. I think he was a little surprised that I recognized him, flattered even. I was determined to ask him if he was still singing and apparently, he's singing and acting here in Los Angeles and even still in contact and working with the other boys.

It was the only celebrity sighting I've had so far in LA. Most of my time here has been spent chasing after a one-year old and napping in the afternoon. Oh, the glories of a true vacation.