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Fashion that Needs to End

November 2, 2010

Hey!  Look at this!  A new blog post!

Sucka face

It’s been a ridiculous amount of time since I blogged last.  I’m gonna try to renew my fervor, but who knows…

Anyway, I figured I’d ease back into it with something pretty superficial and fluffy, so… Fashion!

Just to preface this post: I don’t really know anything about fashion.  Generally speaking, I feel like I have a decent eye for what looks good on people and what doesn’t, but unfortunately this does not translate into any sort of understanding when it comes to my own clothing choices.

I digress…

5 Fashion Trends that are Terrible

1.  Rompers

Oh god, Kill it now!Take a look at this picture.  That is a fairly attractive woman.  Definitely above average, at least.  So how come she looks ridiculous?

Answer:  Rompers are always a negative.  They always lower attractiveness and never raise it.  Can you look attractive while wearing a romper?  Sure! absolutely!  However, you would look better wearing pretty much anything else in the textile industry.  Some girls are going to be attractive no matter what they wear, but they will always look less good wearing a romper.

There are no good body types for rompers.  It looks bad on skinny girls, thick girls, dark-skinned girls and light-skinned ones.  It only comes close to being acceptable on some Asian girls because they’re often petite enough that the romper looks less like a one-piece–but even then it’s still a worse choice than pretty much anything else (considering it makes you look like an Aunty half the time).  It’s probably worst on white girls because the light skin makes the romper stand out a bit more.

Stop wearing them!  They are bad!

 

2.  Skinny Shorts / 3-Quarter Pants

GrossGuys, this one’s for you.

I’m not going to hate on skinny jeans because, well, do skinny jeans actually need more hate?  Are there still people who don’t hate on skinny jeans?  Seriously, though–how did we need to take one of the worst fashion statements of the last decade and turn it into something worse?  Skinny shorts either expose too much if you’re thick in the legs or show off the fact that you have pencil-thick thighs.

Currently Vomiting

 

3/4 pants are, and always have been absolutely retarded.  There are many fine  aspects of German culture, but fashion has never been one of them.  For some reason, I can always spot the German Ang Mohs whenever I’m out because invariably one of them is wearing 3/4 pants.  They’re not shorts… They’re not pants… you know what they are?  They’re high-waters!  Don’t wear high-waters when you’re not wading through water!  Your shins are not that sexy!

 

 

3.  Circlets/Headbands/Whatever you’re calling them

Oh god, and it's bug-eyed too!

Ladies: as much as I’m sure you love romanticizing the roaring twenties (I’m just going to assume that you’re not romanticizing their reappearance in the 60s because… yuck… hippies), but you don’t live in the 20s.  And, you know what?  They looked pretty retarded back then too!  Not only do you look like you’re hopping on the tail-end of the doomed-from-the-start hipster aesthetic bandwagon, you also run the risk of making your hair bunch up in really awkward ways and looking like this guy.

 

4.  Swoopy Hair

This one’s for the guys too.  Yes, thankfully the emo look is starting to die out (although not quickly enough in Singapore), but I think it’s really just evolving into a whole new kind of douchebaggery seen here:

A bag of douches in each swoop…and here:A smaller bag, but just as much douche

Come on!  I have students who sit there in class and try to emulate this look for several minutes, only to move their heads and have to start all over again.  One of the best parts of being a guy is not having to mess with your hair all the time, and you’re getting further and further away from this ease every time you use your iPhone as a mirror.  Ridiculous!

 

 

5.  Bag Dresses/Shapeless Empire-Waist Dresses

Dresses are supposed to have shape.  That’s why people spend so much time sewing them, altering them, taking them in, and other things that you can do with thread and a needle (I think?).  For some reason somebody said, “Oh hey!  Why don’t we take something that looks good and remove all the things that make it what it is” and now we have bag dresses and empire-waist dresses.  Fortunately for those who wear the latter, every now and then there’s somebody who has the right body type for an empire-waist dress–but the former is inexcusable.

 

Inexcusable

I don’t actually know what a bag dress is called, but they look kind of like mumus, which are what pregnant women wear to try and not look pregnant (which makes them look even more pregnant).

Almost inexcusable The empire waist can be done correctly and look pretty good.  However, I see a lot of girls wearing these dresses that just come straight down from the… empire… waist… giving them absolutely no form below their… empire… waist….  I mean, just look at these three ladies to the left.  Aside from being pretty attractive in general, the only thing they share in common is that their dresses look absolutely god-awful (I actually don’t know who they are, but assume that they’re celebrities… I guess they might have that in common also).

Guys and gals, fashion can do a lot for you if you know what you look good in (unlike me).  However, if you just blindly follow really stupid trends, you’re going to wear a lot of stupid stuff and you’ll end up looking… yup, stupid.  Not only that, but you’ll probably spend a lot of money in the process.  Please do the world a favor and learn what you look good in and–whatever you do–stay away from these absolutely abominable creations spawned from the urine of the last leper in hell.

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A Vaseline Nirvana

February 25, 2009

My pre-teen years were very influential for me, musically.  They represented my break from the well-beaten path of Andrew Lloyd Weber musicals and the oldies station to pop music.  It’s when I started listening to Ska and Punk Rock, and (more importantly), it’s when I first began to listen to Nirvana.

My good friend Zach, who I hung out with a lot as we started to learn the guitar together, first turned me on to Nevermind when I was about 11 or 12 years old.  While this would not end up being my favorite Nirvana album, it was the one I first became obsessed with.

While there were some very unfortunate side-effects of my new fandom, it was also a very big stepping stone for turning me on to new music.  This is where I actually get to the point of this post.

Nirvana’s album, Incesticide, was my favorite album of theirs.  “Why?”  You might ask–“it didn’t have any of their hit songs!  It was just a collection of B-Sides!”  It did, however, have a sound that was distinct from most of their music:

and

It had that persistent beat and high-energy 3-chord progression that I would later identify as “punk.”  I remember when i first heard these songs, I thought to myself, “Damn.  This is what electricity is supposed to sound like.”  This, combined with my increasing interest in 3rd Wave Ska, drove me head first into the world of Punk Rock.

However, it wasn’t until years later that I realized I had also been exposed to an entirely different genre during this period: Indie Pop.  No, no, not the twee indie pop that we’re familiar with today, but a more avant-garde version that remained fairly underground throughout its entire existence.

I was exposed to The Vaselines.

This was an important revelation to me, because I had known of their existence for years (seeing the parentheses after my much-beloved Nirvana songs denoting the fact that it was a cover song), but had never actually gone and sought out the original music.  Just before my college years, when I was delving more and more into indie music, I came across the name again, and was forced to evaluate my current taste with that of my pre-teen self.  This is what I was confronted with:

and

Quite a different sound, but I loved it just as much–if not more!  Not only that, but another of my favorite Nirvana songs (during my angsty days), Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam, was actually a Vaselines track.

It was amazing for me, that so long after my Nirvana fanaticism wore off, I was brought back around to face it once again in a new form.

Anyways, I thought I’d share this with you as confronting old ghosts has been on my mind recently.  Here’s a video of Eugene Kelly’s guest appearance during one of Nirvana’s sets in 1991:

 

I will watch the Watchmen

January 27, 2009

Well, I haven’t made a new post in a while.  Not only that, but I’ve been slacking on posting in general.  I used to have a new post every other day, but now it feels like I’m going 1 or 2 weeks without adding something new.  I’m going to try and change that.

Anyways, let’s get back on track:

I’ve never been big into graphic novels.  This isn’t to say that I disliked them at all, I just never took the time to get into them.  Sure, I had some friends who really liked them, and I’d read some of their copies every once in a while, but I never bought any of my own… until now.

For those of you aren’t aware (although I imagine that’s very much a minority these days), Watchmen is a graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.  It was published during 1986 and 1987 and has since been put into a single collection.  It is set in an alternate reality in which “costumed heroes” or “masked adventurers” are no longer fictional (although not necessarily common) and with several political events changed (the outcome of the Vietnam War, for example).

*Spoilers Ahead*

What I really love about this book, is that the plot is almost unnecessary.  The story is completely character-driven.  Not only that, but the book is a commentary on comic books as much as it is one itself.  It has a certain sense of self-deprecating humor while retaining a very realistic style in its satire.  There’s even some analysis of the super hero motif presented in the form of a ‘comic book within a comic book.’

This is helped along quite a bit by the various documents which are shown with each chapter.  Straying from the graphic novel style, it gives us a view of the Watchmen world which one might expect from actual literature.  In a certain sense, it becomes almost like metafiction.  The characters almost seem aware that they are playing parts within a graphic novel’s story.

My one gripe with the book is that of the ending.  While it makes perfect sense as an ending to the story, and it is absolutely necessary that it ends that way, I find that the transitions of the characters are ultimately unsatisfying.  This is annoying, for me, as the book is really all about the characters, and the story is the backdrop.

These tools work amazingly well within the bounds of a graphic novel, but how well might they translate to film?

Let’s take a look:

I must say, the trailers look pretty amazing.  However, some of the elements which I think make Watchmen a step above the rest (those literary devices I discussed earlier) are absent.  While I can understand this decision, as they need to market it to a wider, less patient audience, it leaves me a little worried.  Mostly, I’m worried that they’ll have to turn it into an action/super hero movie, and really, there is very little action in the entire series.

I also dislike the fact that they’ve modernized the costumes a bit.  I thought that the more traditional comic book hero appearance of the characters added to the satire.

From what I’ve read on the Wikipedia article for the film, there will be a second DVD which will be released when the movie comes out and will include the Tales of the Black Freighter in animated form as well as a mockumentary which will fill in the space of the backstory.  It’s unfortunate that time restrictions will make the joining of all these parts together an impossibility, but it’s nice to know that they’re at least attempting to stay true to the book as much as possible.

The one thing that really scares me is this quote: “ My Chemical Romance (whose lead singer Gerard Way is a fan of the comic) will cover Dylan’s “Desolation Row” for the closing credits.”

Do we really have to sink that low?

Sitting room only

January 8, 2009

If there are ever two things that should never mix, it’s rock & roll and seats.  However, at the Esplanade in Singapore the two are inextricable.

I’ve complained for ages and ages (read: a year and a half) that Singapore never brings good pop musical acts to its concert halls.  If you wanted to see live music, you had a few options:

  • See a “high art” show
  • Visit an expat populated bar where the band only plays U2 covers
  • See a local band (usually more “miss” than “hit”)
  • Wait for a huge band like Linkin Park to come through (and subsequently pour gasoline in your ears and light a match)
  • See Kraftwerk for S$300

There was absolutely no venue for popular indie acts.  Recently, with the advent of the Mosaic Music Festival, this has changed.  Great acts like Broken Social Scene, The Roots, Fujiya & Miyagi, Múm, Mogwai, The Bird and the Bee, Camera Obscura, Stars, Battles, Brad Mehldau, and Of Montreal have started showing up on the bill at the Esplanade.

Pop music fans of Singapore rejoiced!  Long sought-after indie/electronic/rock & roll bands were finally making their way to the Merlion-guarded island.

I rejoiced with these fans, and, althought I missed the 2008 festival since I was traveling in Thailand, I hit up Camera Obscura and Stars when they came through in late ’08 and early ’09 (despite the ridiculous price of at least S$50 for upper balcony seating).  The key word in that parenthetical is “seating.”  See, the Esplanade is an amazing venue, don’t get me wrong–the acoustics are incredible, the view of the stage is clear from all angles, and it fits something like 1500 people–but it is completely wrong as a venue for a rock & roll show.  There is absolutely no room to dance.

Yeah, sure, to a certain extent you can dance in front of your seats, but the mere presence of those seats changes the experience from a participatory one to that of only a spectator.

My experience seeing Camera Obscura was good.  They are great musicians, they played the songs I wanted to hear, and it sounded great.  However, everybody in the crowd was sitting until the encore.  I’m sure everyone enjoyed themselves, but at the moment it seemed completely absurd.  I chalked it up to the fact that the band is largely a soft rock, ballad kind of act, and thought that if a really rowdy band made its way to the concert hall, things would be different.

Then came the Stars show.

Just in case you’re not familiar, this is the kind of sound Stars brings to the table:

If this song doesn’t make you want to get up and dance, you may very well be a lost cause and you should probably throw in the towel (as far as having fun is concerned).

Anyways, I went to this show with my girlfriend in very high hopes (as Stars has been a favorite band of mine for 6 or 7 years now).  However, I was largely disappointed with how similar the crowd acted at the show to my experience with Camera Obscura.  On the plus side, everybody on the ground floor got up and danced, which made me excited.  However, the floor seats costed something like S$100, and I don’t make that kind of money.  The balconies were a much different scene: bodies sitting rigidly in rows.

I assumed that there was some sort of a conformity effect going on here where everybody was so afraid to disrupt the people around them that they couldn’t find the courage to get up and dance.  I figured that if a couple people got up, everybody would follow suit.  Once I finally got up the courage to do so, I was (very politely, mind you) asked to sit down by the people behind me.  I ignored them for a song (and actually asked them to stand up as well) but I had no luck in convincing anybody around me to join me.  After that song, I sat down.

This is how I imagine it looked from the band’s perspective:

However, at this point I was forced to consider alternatives to my own selfish idea of what a concert should be.  Was I wrong to want people to get up and dance?  Obviously they wanted to sit, so what right do I have to apply my own concert-going tendencies to them?  Even though I knew in my heart of hearts that they were having less fun as a result of their choice, shouldn’t I respect their decision to be boring?

More importantly, to what extent should I let this affect me?  If I just decided to care less, wouldn’t I have had a better time?  The music was amazing, and the band put on a spectacular show, but I couldn’t help but feel out of place sitting up in the balcony, trying to dance awkwardly in my seat.  It begs one to consider whether this is a result of the much chagrined expat perspective of Singaporean passivity, or if this is an honest facet of the people at the show.

I’m really not sure how to resolve this issue.  I can’t imagine seeing Of Montreal without dancing, but I’m probably still going to come this March.  I imagine Brad Mehldau and Battles will be better experiences, as they’re both  bands that are more passive-listening-predisposed.

I’ll keep you updated when this comes to pass, and perhaps I’ll try out the Singapore perspective and see if my enjoyment of the experience increases.

Nostalgia Music

December 22, 2008

Well, I’m back in the States for Christmas.  The last time I was on this side of the world was in January ’08 when my brother got hitched.  I was only back for 3 or 4 days that time, and I didn’t even make it to my home–only to DC, where the wedding was.  This time I did it up proper: 2 weeks home and the hope of seeing a lot of old friends and family.

Anyways, being home after being away for almost 2 years is guaranteed to stir up some old memories.  I was sifting through the old bootleg VHS tapes that my parents still keep (yes, they are the most frugal people in the world and would wait for a movie to come on TV and tape it instead of purchasing it) and noticed one of my all-time favorite movies: Stand By Me.

Not only does the movie have a pretty amazing cast (River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, Kiefer Sutherland, Richard Dreyfuss, John Cusack), a great coming-of-age story, a fantastic screenplay–it has one of the best soundtracks of last 30 years.  Many of the songs are personal favorites because I grew up listening to oldies (until I discovered pop music and then punk rock around age 13 or so).  Here’s the listing:

1. Everyday – Buddy Holly
2. Let the Good Times Roll – Shirley & Lee
3. Come Go with MeThe Del Vikings
4. Whispering Bells – The Del Vikings
5. Get a JobThe Silhouettes
6. Lollipop (Ronald & Ruby cover)The Chordettes
7. Yakety YakThe Coasters
8. Great Balls of FireJerry Lee Lewis
9. Mr. LeeThe Bobbettes
10. Stand by MeBen E. King 

…and those are merely the songs on the OST.  Their is so much more great music in the movie (Rockin’ Robin, for example).  However, this has to be my favorite song in the movie as well as my favorite song of Buddy Holly’s:

Ok, I’ll add in links to all those artists and update this post when I have a little more time, but right now I have to head out to see some friends.  If you’ve never seen them movie, give it a shot, it’s a must-see for some kick-in-the-pants nostalgia.

myDesensitiZATION@iSin(gap)ore

December 12, 2008

 

Stolen from Google Images

Stolen from Google Images

First, let me apologize to anybody who might be offended by this post (in true Singapore fashion!).  I’m having an amazing time living in Singapore, and I’ve grown quite fond of this little red dot.  However, I have to get something off my chest.

One of the first things that a foreigner notices when he or she visiting ol’ Singapura is the cleanliness.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, the second thing they notice are all the corny advertisements.  Granted, a lot of these are public service announcements and EVERY city has their fair share of corny ads of this ilk.  However, there definitely seem to be more than usual.

Exhibit A:10minec

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The main requirement for these ads is that they rhyme.  While this may be very effective for keeping them in our memory (as is their purpose), this technique yields some of the most corny expressions ever.

But the corniness is not relegated only to the public sector, plenty of private, big business ads make you cringe with equal effectiveness.

Now, it wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t so often try to sound hip by trying so hard to appeal to the internet culture.  You get so bombarded by “iSomething” and “mySomething” and “something@something” that you want to tear your ihair out.

My completely unprofessional analysis is that, with Singapore, we have a culture that is made up almost completely of Human Resources.  We all know how corny HR can be when they try to appeal to employees by sounding hip.  Imagine that one a nation-wide scale.  EVERYTHING is about PR.  Oh, did I mention the fact that you often find yourself drowning in acronyms?

The reason I’m making this post is not to bash Singapore.  Again, I love it here and I think it’s a great place in a lot of ways.  But I’m returning home to the States for Christmas this year, and I don’t know how I’m going to react to advertisements that do more than make me laugh at them.

Anyways, there’s one particular video that Mediacorp has been playing recently that I will post.  However, I cannot seem to find it on the internet, and will update as soon as I do.

Cheers, lah.

One lone Beastie I be

December 2, 2008

When I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, I always imagined that parties were all about making out, drinking, and listening to the Beastie Boys (and my parents wouldn’t let me listen to them).  When I was in middle school, I thought the Beastie Boys were about as lame as you could get (and I wouldn’t be caught dead listening to them).  In late highschool, the Beastie Boys were suddently hip again because of nostalgia (and I couldn’t stop listening to them).

Actually, it was right before the Beastie Boys became hip again that I was rummaging through my oldest brother’s cassette tape collection, and I found a bootleg copy of Paul’s Boutique.  I put it on, mostly for humor’s sake, and found myself listening to it 24/7 soon after.  I had only heard their big singles from Licensed to Ill before (you know… Fight for Your Right, Girls, Brass Monkey…) and the production & style of the magnitude that Paul’s Boutique churned out just blew me away.

Anyways, Paul’s Boutique eventually made its way to become (arguably) the Beastie Boys most critically acclaimed album.  It was ground-breaking in several ways, but most notably because of the dense layering that their sampling portrayed.

What I want to do here, is show you just how much sampling would go into a single song on that album.  For this to work, you’re going to have to become familiar with a number of songs, but most importantly, you have to know this funky jam called “Shake Your Rump”:

Ok, now that you’ve heard the Beastie Boys’ song, let’s find out what other songs went into the mix.

First off, we have the intro drum fill, which comes from the Alphonze Mouzon song “Funky Snakefoot.”  It’s also the intro to the song, so you can’t miss it.

Next, we have the basic beat for the song, which comes from a Harvey Scales song, “Dancing Room Only.”

Now, at about 00:11, a real funky bass line comes in which was sampled from a Ronnie Laws song that most of us are familiar with… “Tell Me Something Good.”  Again, this comes in at the very beginning of the song, so you can’t miss it.

Somewhere around 00:27, there’s a new drum fill.  This is a nice mid-drum sound and it comes from a collaboration of Jazz drummers: Paul Humphrey, Willie Bobo, Shelly Manne, & Louis Bellson.  The song is called Super Mellow.  Said drum fill, again, is the intro to the song, so there should be no trouble finding it.

Just before we get to a super low bass part (at about 00:37), the next drum fill comes in.  This is taken from a song by The Funky 4+1 aptly named “That’s the Joint.”

Immediately following that drum fill is the aforementioned bass swell (around 00:40).    It’s a song called 6 O’clock DJ (Let’s Rock) by Rose Royce.  It’s pretty obvious from the sample.

That bass section goes for some time until the next section comes in at 00:56.  This drum fill is sampled from none other than Led Zeppelin.  The song is called, “Good Times Bad Times” and the sample I mentioned begins at 02:28.

Once again, at about the 01:02 mark, we have that funky bass line from “Tell Me Something Good.”

Now, here I’m not exactly sure if I’m 100% correct, but I believe the sharp scratches from the DJ that come in at 1:12 are from the Average White Band song “Cut the Cake”  I think the horn bellows at 03:47 are what’s being sampled.

The bass line that comes in at 01:18 is from the Rose Royce song “Born to Love You.” Sorry again for the short sample, but it fits nicely because it begins with the section I’m talking about.

At 01:26 we have the Funky Snakefoot drum fill again, followed by the latter part of the Super Mellow drum fill.  Again, we have the 6 O’Clock DJ bass swell and the Led Zeppelin drum fill.

Clocking in right around 01:33, we  hear the namesake of the song as the music cuts out long enough for a sample from and a silly little James Brown and Afrika Bambaataa collaboration called “Unity:”

You can hear the sample at 0:22.

At about 02:10 there’s the Born to Love You bass line again, and you can begin to hear the Afrika Bambaataa sample with the woodblock percussion and the “woo-ooh-woo-ooh” noise (yeah, that’s what it is).  This is from the song Jazzy Sensation and comes in right around the 5 minute mark.

If you were paying close attention, you’d notice that right around 2:24 there is a familiar section for just a second.  Yes, it’s The Sugar Hill Gang with an extremely brief sample of their song, “8th Wonder.”

Then we repeat some bass swells and a small bassline, the basic drum beat and those Jazzy Sensation noises that we’ve heard before until…

THE END

Yes!  I know it was a lot of effort to click all those links, but I bet you had some fun if you did.  I really enjoyed putting together all those samples so that you can see where they come from.  I know I missed out on a few, but when listening to the song, I couldn’t exactly figure out where they were located.  If you want to check out the Wikipedia page for Paul’s Boutique, it tells you which songs were ostensibly used… maybe you can find the ones that I couldn’t.

Anyways, I gotta hit the sack, I have a lot of marking to do tomorrow.  Take care!