Tuesday 29 December 2009

A Short Stack of Soul Searching with Rainn Wilson

When was the last time you felt both freedom and fear? Why do we fear looking our age? Is music a conduit to spiritual ecstasy? Who were you before laptops and iphones?

At Soulpancake.com, you can ask, be asked, explore, and discuss such questions.

The Office's Rainn Wilson founded this site with others including, according to this Twitter (yes I follow him on Twitter), his son Walter. Wilson follows the Baha'i Faith, a monotheistic religion founded in Persia that is accepting of most world religions, and focuses on the spirituality of all human beings. That said, soulpancake.com is does not push religion, or push away from it. Some of the questions cause you to simply reflect on your own life (eg. "Renovate Yourself: List 5 changes you want to make to yourself. No Spackle required.") while others are what the site calls "Life's Big Questions" (eg. "What do you have to lose by believing in a higher power?").

Expression can come in all forms on Soulpancake.com, as users upload photo and video as well as written responses. Some "Creative Challenges" ask you to upload a picture or work of art that represents something to you. Users can also submit questions into the "Collective".

So if you're getting tired from mindless Farmvilling, or you're finding textsfromlastnight just aren't as funny as they used to be, Soulpancake.com provides a eccentric, goofy way to soul search with others. If anything, the site's strange, sometimes creepy wallpapers are enough to entertain me for a few minutes.

Thursday 24 December 2009

Some Christmas Fun

The first is a clever spoof of Apocalypse Now, the second is my own little tip of the hat to Dave Matthews Band (who, interestingly, isn't even Christian). Enjoy!

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Old McFacebook Had A Farmville

My Farmville self, proudly harvesting peppers and adoring her pink tractor.

Walking out of a crowded class one day, I heard a very normal looking boy complain, "Come on, let's go, my rice is going to wither!"

He, no doubt, was one of the many of my peers to fall victim to the addictiveness of FarmVille.

My curious self could not let this social phenomenon go without my own turn to experience it, and I created my very own virtual farm. I was soon bombarded by neighbor requests and generous gifts from my fellow farmers, including several of my college friends, some of my high school friends, and some of my much older, married (with kids) cousins.

Figuring out the logistics of the game, I tried to find how exactly one earns FarmVille cash, rather than coins. There are two ways, that I've learned. 1. Move up a level or 2. pay money. REAL MONEY.
People actually send in money for their virtual farms. What do they get? Satisfaction and pride of a superior farm, I suppose.

This isn't the only game that gives you such an option. Most Facebook games do this: Happy Aquarium, FishVille, School of Wizardry, PetVille. I know this because, yes, I have played them all. While you can certainly play the game without spending money, the very fact that it is an option, I feel, is crazy.

Does it not seem a bit pathetic that people are not only wasting their precious, limited time on earth playing these ridiculous games but are also spending their hard earned MONEY to succeed at them?

I confess, I have on several occasions spent hours of my time playing these pointless games with my suitemates, and often times enjoyed it very much. If there is anything to be said of Facebook games, it is that they at least have a social aspect: you can interact with your friends as you play. But it seems to me that, just like junk food is a waste of your daily bread, online games are a waste of your daily life; you're filling up your small bit of time on nothing great, nothing you'll look back on fondly.

For this reason I've convinced myself I should delete my FarmVille. Whether or not I'll go through with this, I'm not sure I'll publish publicly.

Sunday 20 December 2009

I Like Dave Matthews Band and I'm Not a Bro.

Talking to someone I've just met, we find we have similar musical tastes: bloc party, Band of Horses, Beirut.. and I then I add, "Oh, and I love Dave Matthews Band, I've seen them live 5 times."
I get the shake of a head and a disappointed look.
"Nah, I don't like them much, I've never seen them live... too many 'bros'."

I've felt quite a bit of discrimination as a Dave Matthews Band, stemming from this "bro" stereotype of DMB followers. I studied music quite a bit in high school and continue to play several instruments; I like to think I'm a bit musically inclined and can judge when a band is talented or not. This strong dislike of Dave Matthews Band bothers me, then, because I appreciate them for their talent and high quality music.

For kicks, I looked up to see what urban dictionary had to say about the relationship between Dave Matthews Band and Bros. Here are the cleanest posts:

Dave Matthews Band: 1. A band that each of it's new releases is welcomed (along with the latest abercrombie & fitch catalog) by middle-class white kids.

Dude #1 - "hey bro, did you get the new Dave Matthews Band cd yet?"
Dude #2 - "yeah, man; it's great. let's go to the mall".

2. A painfully generic band usually found on the music interests section of Facebook.com.

Normal College Kid 1: Hey bro, what are you listening to?
Normal College Kid 2: Oh, just some Dave Matthews Band. I also like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, radiohead, John Mayer, and O.A.R.
Normal College Kid 1: Oh no way Bro, me too!

Bro: 1. A caucasian male, typically ages 15 - 24.
A Bro prefers Birkenstock sandals, polo or rubgy shirts (typically with the collar popped), and baseball caps with a pre-frayed brim for their usual attire. Bros are attracted by shops such as Lacoste, Ralph Lauren, Abercromie, and other similar outfitters.

Musical tastes typical for a Bro include Dave Matthews Band, Oasis, Jack Johnson, John Mayer, and Travis. Bros will also, on occasion, listen to the latest rap, and on even more rare occasions, punk rock.

If Dave Matthews Band comes to your city, expect bros to be out in large numbers. Proper bro repellent includes emo behavior, excessively loud grunge metal, a shortage of beer, and to constantly be in a state of high stress.

2. A Bro is a guy that thinks he is way cooler than he really is. A Bro can be seen in pics making a face or a pose where he is trying so hard to look like hes not trying. A Bro will call all the other guys bro even though noone likes the bro. Other people would refer to a bro as a douche bag.

Look at that absolute Bro with his stunna shades on inside and his white blazer.

I am not a bro. Obviously, because I'm not male. Now, I cannot deny that Dave Matthews Band does seem to have a large following of this young, white, preppy male demographic.

While my cry, my plead may be in vain (or go unheard, and very few people read this blog), I just WISH that people would not judge a band solely on the few people they know who listen to them. Admittedly, I sometimes do the same. But Dave Matthews Band is one of the most UNIQUE, talented bands out there today. They blend jazz, rock, pop, and southern American and African styles -- how many other bands do that?

So young Dave Matthews fans, beware of the pigeonhole you will soon be placed in when you get to college, and for the rest of you, give Dave Matthews a chance, and if you don't like him, leave me and other innocent DMB fans alone about it.

Friday 18 December 2009

Bon Appetite!

Tonight I watched Julie & Julia, a movie about two women who find themselves through cooking. Throughout the movie, I craved practically every dish they made. I felt like just getting up and cooking.

As I watched them carefully prepare their dishes, from poultry to fish to sauces or desserts, I reflected back upon the two boxes of Goldfish my friends and I consumed late last night sitting in a dorm room at RIT. I thought about the Pop Tart I had for breakfast, the mini bagel pizzas the boys microwaved at 4 a.m. I realized how much we waste calories.

I'm not talking about nutrition here, at all; in fact, butter played a somewhat significant role in this movie, and in real life, Julie gained weight from her cooking endeavors. What I mean is, we breeze through food, taking no time or effort to prepare it, other than to hastily tear apart the plastic wrapper or the cardboard box that contains our sugary, processed, mass-produced meal. We put no thought into our food other than what we feel like, what is accessible, and what is economical.

I've heard it said that Americans eat differently than the rest of the world, in that we are too sanitary with our food. We do not like contact with it; we don't like to know exactly what's in it, where it came from, who made it, or how it came to be on our plate. Rather than being something that will soon become part of our very bodies, it's something distant and separate, that at some point, will disappear into our mouths, never to be seen again and quickly forgotten.

So while I'm home from college for 30 days, perhaps I'll try to get more involved in this ever familiar process of eating: less unwrapping and more cooking. My hope is that I'll stop missing out on the quality of food and the creative process behind creating it; that it'll be one more thing in my life a little bit more authentic, unique, and real, rather than processed, ordinary, and fake.

Thursday 3 December 2009

Fate or Facebook?

Social networking has come a long way the past five years or so, when putting personal information in the Internet was something to be frowned upon and cautioned. Now it's anything short of a way of life; without Facebook, one seems to be less of a real person. Six years ago, when adults constantly advised us to conceal our identity online, I never imaged that I would be trusting the Internet to an extremely important decision: the person I would live with my freshman year of college.

I joined the UAlbany 2013 group, I posted the roommate surveys and I made my own. I looked for my UAlbany residential soul mate: a female with good taste in music, interests in matters outside the material world our generation lives in, a person who would go out with me but wouldn't go completely crazy. Lil' Wayne and Nickelback caused me to mentally reject the majority of my classmates as potential roommates, but that's a decision I do not regret at all. Taste is music can sometimes summarize a person better than anything else... that's my philosophy.

Everyone that seemed to fit my criteria was taken. Worried I wouldn't find anyone, I posted on the group something of a "WANTED" ad... and I got a response from Bridget O'Brien, whose bed I now sit on in my pajamas, watching Disney channel, blogging, and wondering what supreme force (besides Facebook) brought us together as roommates.

I have yet to find roommates who are closer than we are. We're by no means the same type of person, but we're a perfect match. On the third night of school I crawled into bed with her... of all the examples I could use, this seems to sum up our relationship pretty well. I consider her a "best friend", after our Superbad moment last Friday night -- "You're my best friend and I want to shout it from the rooftops."

Was it some all-knowing, all-mighty force that brought us together to share in the most perfect roommate bond the universe has seen? Or was it seemly the all-revealing power of Facebook? Perhaps my unhealthy addiction to the social networking site has sharpened mine - and Bridget's - ability to interpret people online, to see what the write and accurately judge them based on how they portray themselves. We, like much of our generation, speak Facebook thoroughly. We know that boys who list "Interests" as "girls, parties, cars, chillin", are not worth knowing and anyone whose music taste consists of only things on Top 40 radio don't have their own music tastes at all, and therefore must be unoriginal. Bridget's Facebook was perfect: I imagined her to be pretty much exactly how she is.

However, had she not messaged me I'm not sure at all who I would be rooming with, I was getting a bit too picky. All the Facebook-reading skills in the world wouldn't have helped to find her in the first place, so maybe it was some type of Irish luck that brought us together after all.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

The Word: How I Learned The Importance of Free Press

Upon entering high school, I was quite excited to finally put my love of writing to use: I could write for the school newspaper.

So I joined the Newspage Club. Notice it says Newspage, not paper. This is because a school newspaper does not exist at Le Roy High School, only a program allowing students to write articles for the local paper twice yearly. These "articles" are more like public relations measures for the school -- negativity is not allowed. Of course, I took advantage of this opportunity.

I did not cease to ask my teachers and administrators why our school did not have a newspaper, but I never received much of an answer. I believe their (perhaps unspoken) rationale was this: a newspaper would require too much work and could bring about too much controversy.

This frustrated me, and junior year I found like-minded friends (like Sam Bortle), who, unlike myself, were actually motivated and proactive enough to confront our principal. Their efforts were in vain, but they did not abandon our idea of a newspaper. About five of us combined our creativity, skills, and finances to create The Word. Taken from the Beatles song, our tiny, once-monthly newspaper was completely our own. We distributed it at school between classes, knowing that if it was banned, we would have no problem handing it out ourselves in our small town. Content was nothing too serious -- mostly music, book, and movie reviews, and some feature articles, opinions, and editorials on subjects like applying for college or recent football games.

Looking back, what we created was remarkable. We never ran any controversial stories, we never investigated wrongdoings in our school or community, we never criticized teachers or administration or examined relevant social issues. However, if we ever needed to report such important information or voice concerns, we had the means to. If we felt Le Roy High School was being undemocratic or violating student's rights, we could write about it and print it and let everyone know. At a relatively young age, we recognized the necessity for a free press, specifically in our own small community.

The Word was just that - free. Free of school interference or control. Somehow, the stubbornness, laziness, or tyranny of our school system (which ever you prefer, or a combination of all three) benefited us by not giving us a school newspaper and forcing us to create just a newspaper.

Now we're gone, and so is The Word, which only lasted a handful of issues. My co-creators and myself all keep our own personal blogs, but sadly, Le Roy High School is still without a form of student media, independent or school-run. It's a crying shame. Every school, every community, EVEN Le Roy, New York, hometown of Jell-o, population 4,000, needs a newspaper.

Sam Bortle's blog can be read here. She was the editor-in-chief, I wonder if she put it on her resume. (I recently used The Word on a resume.)

Sunday 29 November 2009

The Golden Age of the 1990's

Wearing a flannel shirt and jeans, listening to Len's "Steal My Sunshine" and Sugar Ray, reminiscing about Giga Pets and Furbies, my friends and I realized how much we miss that wonderful time, when everything was perfect and the streets were made of gold: 1990's.

Were the 90's really a golden age, when everything was better, or does it just seem that way because it was the decade and culture in which we (myself and my peers) grew up? Does the grass seem greener only because we're now on the other side of the millenium?

The clothes were more comfortable: basically anything you wanted to wear, have no concern whether or not it matched. Overalls, flannel shirts (which, in response to my frequent prayers, God has brought back into style), scrunchies, plastic jewelry, minimal make up; it was all about convenience and individualism. Then again, if you do some research (watch Friends or Boy Meets World), sexy women's clothes meant gratuitous amounts of leather.

Music from that era has not yet been forgotten, and perhaps it's because mainstream radio has been taken over by drastically different styles. Rap, which gained popularity in the previous decade, has changed drastically in subject matter, beginning with celebratory party jams and becoming poetry about violence, sex and crime. Everything I hear on the radio seems to be about getting money and fucking hoes.

On second thought, any popular mainstream music today holds not so distant roots in music trends of the 90's: Destiny's Child has lived on through Beyonce, who is as popular as ever; The Jonas Brothers are picking up where the Backstreet Boys left off; Lady Gaga is our generation's Madonna. Some 90's legends are still on the scene, as Third Eye Blind just released a new album, Hanson is touring, and Dave Matthews Band is still alive and well (with the exception of LeRoi Moore, may he rest in peace).

Stupid, useless toys of our childhood have merely changed form: they no longer exist as hard copies and have moved to the internet. Spending hours on a screen keeping something alive? Giga Pets and Farmville are essentially similar, if you think about it.

It's not the same though. Have you ever been in a big room (or drunk bus) of people singing Third Eye Blind's "Jumper"? Current songs don't compare, right? If you had a Furbie with you right now, would you not have twice the gratification than playing Farmville? How much more comforting is it to watch an episode of Seinfeld or Friends after a long day than watching Two and a Half Men, or whatever the current sitcom is? Aren't this year's fashions just as comfortable as those of 1999?

I believe that the only difference between that blessed decade and the present is nostalgia. While I'll always look back to those times with adoration and longing, the truth is it wasn't any better or worse: it was long ago, and so our memories have, as to favor the past, erased the bad and glorified the good. My generation is now getting to the age that we can look a little further into the past and remember, we can now compare and contrast, laugh at old trends and scoff and new ones.

It won't be long, perhaps, until we look back to the past decade and wish we were once again in the 00's, when life was good, Lady Gaga ruled with world, everyone watched Gossip Girl, Farmville was a way of life, and Uggs were in style.

Thursday 19 November 2009


Come home, pass out, wake up paralyzed, hallucinate: story of my life.

Right now I'm sitting here with this headache, which is most likely caused by the three hour nap I just endured - yeah, endured.

At several points I woke up, thinking I should get up and get moving, studying for my test tomorrow or writing an article. I couldn't. It's not that I'm too lazy or I was too tired, my legs wouldn't move... and neither would my arms, or my fingers, or my toes, or anything.

Once during this nap, I thought my dad was trying to wake me up. I tried to tell him that I couldn't, because I couldn't move, but he didn't understand. Of course none of this actually happened, because I'm in Albany and my dad is in Rochester. Was it a dream then?

No, it's sleep paralysis, the most bizarre part of my life. I wake up, cannot move for a few minutes, and then either fall back to sleep or regain movement. During these episodes it's not uncommon for me or anyone else, let me stress, to see hallucinations or hear voices. In fact, these hallucinations often cause people to pass such experiences off as dreams. At a young age, when I would wake up immobile to images of monsters and the like hanging over me, I certainly thought I was simply cursed with horrible nightmares. Most people experience sleep paralysis at least once in their life. It doesn't mean anything serious, health-wise, unless it happens often.

Since I've been at college, I've experienced this at least twice a week, and sometimes several times a day. I struggle to go a whole a day without napping, and sometimes awake totally disoriented and confused (and my roommate Bridget will tell you, sometimes incredibly bitchy). I even had a Tyler Durden moment: upon waking up, I had a full conversation with Bridget one night before falling back to sleep. I had no recollection.

What does this mean? Well I think it means I'm narcoleptic. The frustration of this is waking up at 4 O'clock in the afternoon, after lying down to watch TV for a moment, finding myself out of it and dazed. It's frustrating to wake up at 5 O'clock, to a dark sky, when I planned on running around campus that afternoon. The most frustrating part is when I actually do make it through an afternoon, and I finally get to spend time outside, being productive, doing something with my day; I realize everyday could be like that, but for me, it isn't. I'm an active person, but this issue makes me feel as though I'm sleeping through life.

Hopefully I'll get some answers when I go to my doctor over Thanksgiving. This is a big step for me - anyone who knows me knows I'm not a fan of asking for help.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Woes of an Upstater

"Western New York? There is no such thing as Western New York."
Someone has actually told me this.
"Rochester? Oh, so you mean, you're from outside of the universe."

Oh, the surprises of wandering from your home region.

Upon my arrival at UAlbany, I learned an important geographical fact: that Long Island is the center of everything. Prior to this, I had considered anything that wasn't directly connected to the large part of the state to be the same thing. In other words, Long Island, New York City, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, Staten Island... all the same to me. No difference, whatsoever.

Yet here I am, an upstate-dweller, at an upstate school, the regional minority. I get labeled a redneck and a farmer and sheltered because I'm not familiar with the greatest city on earth. Downstate kids deal with probably more intense labels - although the few that like to advertise their home as "Strong Island" certainly do not negate their labels of "douchebags" and "assholes".

Sometimes I wish I could take everyone at UAlbany to my hometown, Le Roy, for a day. While we might not have sky scrapers or exciting clubs, there is undoubtedly a charm and romance to living in a rural area, as I've described in several previous blogs. Maybe some day these downstate kids will visit Western New York and learn not only that it exists, but also that it's not such a horrible place to grow up. Until then, I'll just have to live with the frustration of my portion of the state being invaded by southerners.

Monday 16 November 2009

copper, you're my best friend

Born like sisters to this world
In a town where blood ties are only blood
If you never say your name out loud to anyone
They can never ever call you by it

If I kiss you where it's sore
Will you feel better,
Will you feel anything at all?

Regina Spektor

(my first attempt at an artsy style post)

Saturday 14 November 2009

Albany: Yankees Fans Haven

I wrote this for the Albany Student Press, but sometimes newspapers mess up and have two people writing the same article.
Luckily, I have my own publishing means.

If you were wondering why there was toilet paper all over the fountain Thursday morning, you must have been one of the few to sleep through the raging Yankees fans’ celebration the night before.

Immediately after the win, students on Indian began running through the halls and cheering outside. The noise could be heard from the 21st floor of Mohawk Tower.

Fans were cheering, chanting “27!” and playing “Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z outside the tower, toilet paper flying and energetic boys running around shirtless in the cold Noember air.

“More people joined as the chants grew louder, and more people showed up. Then all of a sudden everyone started running towards State Quad,” says Freshman Tim McGreevy.

At State, fans celebrating inside heard the noise and joined the mob outside, which continued to Colonial and Dutch Quads, and finally ended at the fountain. The rowdy crowd managed to cause some havoc, knocking over some garbage cans.
“They got pretty much every trash can on the way,” McGreevy recalls.

Singing Queen’s “We Are The Champions,” the middle ring of the fountain was packed with students, with more standing around it and on the stairs.

The celebration continued well past 1 a.m., when the ecstatic students finally began to return to their dorms.

“It meant the world to me, it ended all the frustration of no World Series wins since 2000,” says Jordan Schantz, a freshman.

Not everyone was elated over the win.

“It was hard to sleep through,” said an unhappy low-rise dweller.

What about the seemingly few non-Yankees fans on campus?
“Well I was kind of confused why they were yelling ‘Red Sox suck’ when they weren’t even playing the Red Sox in the first place,” Taylor Bulman, a Boston fan remarked.
“I only know one other Red Sox fan on campus,” said Bulman.

The large amount of students from downstate and Albany’s proximity to New York City makes UAlbany a haven for Yankees fans.
“I don’t think another team’s victory would bring on a celebration of that caliber, I don’t think that can be topped,” says Schantz.

Hometown pride was strongly displayed, as many native New Yorkers were especially passionate about the victory.|
“I’m not a bandwagon Yankee fan, I’m a true fan, so when I saw all those people out there a rush of adrenaline just shot through me cause I knew all those people felt the same way I did,” says Ronald Baez, who is from Brooklyn.
“All in all it was just a beautiful experience and I’m glad I got to see that.”

Saturday 7 November 2009

weezer please!

I love Weezer very much.

Therefore, all SUNY students should be voting daily for this, so Weezer can come to our school and blow our minds with their hardcore nerd pop rock.

If you DON'T think you need to see Weezer live, here's a video to change your mind featuring not one but TWO cover songs, one being MGMT. (!!!!)

OH and check out their new album Raditude, I like it, then again I'd like anything Weezer created. You can stream some of it off their MySpace right now.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

The Saints Aren't Coming to Albany

Sunday was All Saints Day. In theory, I should have now seen Boondock Saints: All Saints Day.

This is not the case.

After waiting 10 years (slight exaggeration), I could not even see the sequel to my beloved violent cult classic the day it came out. Why is this? Because God hates Upstate NY. All Saints Day is only playing in Manhattan & Long Island, as far as NYS goes.

They could have given me warning, could have told me it was going to be in select theatres. Might be something nice to include in the trailer.

Then it hits me, though: why I am making such a big deal about this? I never saw the first one in theatres... it was never in the theatre. My optimistic approach to looking at this ultimately grim and disappointing situation: perhaps Boondock Saints was not meant to be seen in theatres.
Maybe this is a way of continuing the cult-ness of this classic.

Also, if it was in theatres near Albany, I would have written a review on it, that would without a doubt have been incredibly, incredibly, biased.

Friday 30 October 2009

Swine '09: The Vaccine

Seems like everybody wants a needle in me this week.

It's been about 27 hours since I got vaccinated and I have not yet dropped dead. My head still functions, I'm not twitching, and I can still walk. My friends remind me, however, that it takes about three days to set in.

Seriously though -- no bruise, practically no soreness. I don't feel dizzy or disoriented or tired. I'm not coughing or sneezing or throwing up.

So far, those horror stories I heard from my peers are pure (dramatic) fiction. Meanwhile, back in LeRoy, my mom is surprised when I tell her of these rumors; they apparently are not circulating at home. One must wonder if my small town is ill-informed or, the more likely case: college students are a bit more dramatic in the face of crisis. The fact that we're all living together, constantly conversing and interacting, makes information - and misinformation - spread like lightening. Likewise, sicknesses are passed around rapidly - including swine flu.

It's hard to sift through the sensationalized media to get to the truth of this epidemic. I personally believe that, while dangerous, swine flu is not as big of a deal as the media makes it out to be. And I believe, hope, and soon will be able to tell you first hand, that the vaccine is not dangerous. From what I've gathered, the nasal spray is a live virus, however, and sickness can be anticipated or expected with that. I opted for the injection, which is made with a dead virus.

A final note, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute reported that it's students were quickly spreading H1N1, and beer pong was the culprit. Careful students might not realize the obvious places they spread germs - drinking games is a huge one. A word of advice to the party-goers: use your own cup.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Someone Else's Blood

I took me a couple years and one persuasive friend, but I finally did it: I gave blood.

Being a bit squeamish, the idea of blood rushing of out my body into a tube never seemed like a good idea. I held a fear that I'd pass out, freak out, or hurt myself... until I stopped being so dramatic, finally lay on the table and let them stick that needle in me.

I breathed frantically for a little bit, overwhelmed with stress, paranoia and self pity. I kept thinking that, over on that side of myself I dare not look, a tube was carrying blood from my body to a plastic bag. After about a minute, I told myself to suck it up, and I got over it.

That blood may someday be used to help save a life. Somehow, that notion escaped me for several years. Perhaps I was too self-absorbed to think beyond how that action would effect me to think about the good it might do for someone else.

For anyone who hasn't, but is able to, I suggest giving blood. Set any invalid accuses aside, and just do it; you'll be helping others and feel great about it. It might be crazy and slightly morbid, but the thought of my blood in someone else's body is incredible. In a small way, it brings you a little bit closer to everyone else - all those people you know and all those you'll never meet.

And then you take that love you made

And stick it into some

Someone else's heart

Pumping someone else's blood.

-Regina Spektor

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Back in Business

Not to make myself appear to be: friendless, a loser, a stalker, a creeper, lame, or bored.

But my fellow bloggers have actually been posting blogs lately, and it's like an early Christmas.

They can all be seen on that massive list of blogs over there <---.
Not included on that list, however, is Joe & Drew's Podcast, Off the Record. I would recommend listening to these two brilliant minds debate today's important issues in the most entertaining way. Give them a visit!

I was also excited to see a few European posts from Cassette Musique - they're all studying abroad this semester, so posts are few but from a quite different perspective. Good stuff!

Children Don't Grow Up

Tonight I sat at my computer, listening to Wilco, explaining to my roommate what "Where the Wild Things Are" is about.

Sidenote: I'm dressed like Max.

Dressed like a boy dressed like a wolf dressed like a king.
Halloween is days away.
This may be a prime example that children don't grow up. (1)

The book is very much about how in the face of fear, children become wild things. The movie takes this a step further and assures us that adults do the same.

Go see this movie, and it will tell you about yourself.(2) It will tell you that we all have a wild side, and when the world gets too overwhelming, we visit it... and still make it home in time for supper to be warm.

(1) Says the Arcade Fire. I was extremely disappointed that they didn't appear on this soundtrack.
(2) Other reasons to see this include: Spike Jonze is a film god, Max Records is perfect as the role of Max, and the music is super. (Even without the Arcade Fire) (Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs nails it)

Monday 19 October 2009

Comedy: The Only Way to Make Us Pay Attention

As a journalism and political science student, I have been made incredibly aware that young people no longer read the news. While perhaps this can be generalized to Americans in general, it’s much more fun for teachers and adults to criticize the upcoming generation, and attempt to scare them into political and social involvement.

The most important thing to teach an aspiring journalist, it seems, is that journalism and the news industry are dying. News has been taken over by Entertainment (cleverly dubbed Infotainment). What are we to do? People are uninformed and apathetic, participation in government is dropping, and democracy is dying!

Along come two comedians to save the day. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, the geniuses they are, seem to be the only people that can make young adults pay attention to current events. Their ridiculous bias makes their shows hilarious and entertaining to watch but, wait, isn’t bias something that should not be found in news?

Many feel that it is a crying shame that our generation’s main news providers are these two mock-journalists. I think, that while there are downsides to this type of “news”, comedy news is doing some great things.

Right after South Park, and before Tosh.0, a witty Jewish man from New Jersey pops up on the screen to deliver the day’s news and controversies with an incredibly liberal bias. Between the mocking of public officials and replays of their mistakes and mess-ups, the sarcastic observations of current social events, hysterical outbursts of frustration, and extremely uncomfortable interviews with real-live distinguished politicians, authors, and public figures, Jon Stewart might surprise you. What, what was that? Yes, it was, in fact, a moment of sincerity. Now and then, if only for a minute, Stewart’s acting talents slip him and his true beliefs and passion show through. It’s refreshing and somewhat incredible to see a journalist, if you can call him that, poke fun at an issue to lighten the mood and then actually deliver a point.

Immediately after, follows a egotistic “mock” super-Republican, Stephen Colbert. Actual Republicans, beware: he is not sincere. Stop nodding your head in agreement. He stole the words right out of your mouth? Republicans, I’m hoping you know and I don’t mean to insult your intelligence, Stephen Colbert is mocking you. He is, in fact, liberal (gasp). If you’re offended by this paragraph, thinking, “Of course I knew Colbert is liberal!”, well I’m sorry, but I’ve met several Republicans that were sincerely hoping that Presidential bid would work out for him.

The true danger of shows like the Daily Show and Colbert Report are just that – people who don’t catch on to the sarcasm, who don’t understand that things on that show are biased for the sake of comedy. Most people my age are still trying to sort out politics, and figure out what they believe in. Shows such as these could impact their developing views drastically, if not taken in the right light, or in union with other news sources.

Personally, I would love to see a similar show from the other side of the spectrum. Stephen Colbert does NOT count as a conservative comedy news show, and I would like to see someone poking fun at liberals (someone who is not a real-life liberal).I’d like a mock-liberal news show, in the way that Colbert is a mock-conservative. I’m surprised this niche has not yet been filled, although I’m not sure what network would carry it. However, when taking the rest of the conservative media into account, I’m not sure I’d really like to add to that pile of extreme, incredibly biased programs. I suppose that Glenn Beck provides enough entertainment from that ideology. Sadly, most are laughing at, not with, him.

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Keepin' the Peace

It's always made someone sound like a demi-god - "Nobel Peace Prize Winner... ". To rank up there with Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Ghandi, you must have done something pretty extraordinary, must have made a huge impact on the world.

Suddenly, it's a bit less impressive.

Personally, it would not surprise me to see Barack Obama with a Nobel Peace Prize... someday. Someday, after he's executed the many promises, hopes, and goals he's told the American people about. He has great plans, and their success could lead to great things, and he'd be worthy of a Prize.

For the first time (at least, that I'm aware), we see this Prize as less of an award and more of a, well, guilt trip. It seems Obama was given this Prize not in honor of what he's done, but in hopes that he will do something worthy to deserve it. This puts quite a bit of pressure on our President to act as peacefully as possible, when the most peaceful choices might not always be the most beneficial to our nation's security.

So if I were to talk to Obama I'd tell him congratulations, sure that while he's flattered and honored, he's probably also a little uneasy about this burden.

Sunday 11 October 2009

And Dance Forever-ever-ever

I've always been a fan of dancing, whether it's at a school dance, birthday party, wedding, prom, bonfire, or my room. Since I've arrived at college, this habit has only increased. (1)

Dancing, to me (and I think many others) is the ultimate form of celebration. Classic rock or hip hop, M.I.A. or Miley Cyrus, it's all good as long as it makes you move.

I think these two videos demonstrate exactly how a wedding should be celebrated. Hopefully, when I get to that big day, I'll have friends that like to jam as much as I do. (2)While a classy, traditional procession might be sweet, it seems like a waste. Why walk slowly, when you could be dancing?!

*The Office spoofed this, it was almost as awesome (I cried)... but this is real life.

(1) Heavy on the "in my room"... or suite, now, I guess. Sometimes the best part of the night is our jam sessions as we're getting ready.
(2) More importantly, I better find a groom willing to dance like this.
(3) I'm not a fan of Chris Brown, because of his abuse of Rihanna, but I can't help but love this song. Why does Rihanna always make her way into my blog?!

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Crazy for Swayze

This may be incredibly corny. But the first time I saw this movie, I was completely smitten. So let's all take this moment to acknowledge the talent Patrick Swayze possessed. Not only is he an incredible dancer, but he's been breaking teen girls' hearts for 25 years and counting.

Thursday 10 September 2009

Desegregation of Music

If you've read my blogs on music, you know I don't like things along the lines of hip hop or rap. I grew up with music of a very different sort, and for a long time didn't even consider it "music", let alone music of quality.

Which is why when I first decided to give the artist Girl Talk a try, I immediately rejected it. All I heard, at first, was rap, or hip hop, or whatever kind of music other people listen to on popular radio. This was a big turn off, and I gave up on it.

Upon arriving at SUNY Albany, we learned that this fall's musical guests are Reel Big Fish (!!!) and Girl Talk. Of course, I had to give them another try. My music tastes have changed quite a bit in the last few months as well, as I've been listening to a lot of electronica (justice!) and even some techno (basshunter).

I made a horrible mistake when casting Girl Talk aside. Girl Talk is not a girl rock band (which would have been badass) but one guy, mixing up different songs he did not create himself. The result is mashing old and new, different styles together, to make unlikely but pleasant combinations. The song, "Set It Off" for example, consists of, among others:
  • Rihanna feat. Jay-Z's "Umbrella"
  • Radiohead's "Paranoid android"
  • Mary J. Blige's "Real Love"
  • The Guess Who's "These Eyes"
  • Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion"
  • DJ Kool's "Let Me Clear My Throat"
  • The Spinner's "The Rubberband Man"
  • Dexy's Midnight Runner's "Come On Eileen"
  • Bubba Sparxxx's "Heat it Up"
  • Rare Earth "I just want to Celebrate"
Mixing up things I would normally despise with songs I love (Come on Eileen!) make genres I don't care for much easier to swallow. Girl Talk creates an excitement in listening to his music; you can't wait to hear what comes next, and when it's something you like, it's like getting something you wanted but didn't ask for on Christmas morning.

A few weeks ago I was at a Weezer concert and out of the blue, heard MGMT's "Kids", one of my favorites, go into "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga - a song I normally don't care for. Strangely enough, the two songs fit together so well, you would have thought they were one. Indie rock and mainstream pop came together and it was unexpectedly amazing. Girl Talk stands for an incredible appreciation for music as a whole, not favoring one genre over another. No need to discriminate, because when you're listening to Girl Talk, Metallica, The Carpenters, and Souljaboy are all the same anyway.

Check out Girl Talk over there!! <----

Wednesday 9 September 2009

A Sunday Song

The thing about late, eventful Saturday nights is they are always followed by peaceful Sunday mornings. Some might say I'm cursed, but I think I'm lucky to be unable to sleep past 10 a.m. most days. The world, or this campus at least, is dead, as students hide from sunlight and noise their heads are not yet ready for. One of the few brave souls to wake up and walk across campus for food, I was calmed by the serenity of a campus of over 1200 in silence. I had nearly reached my destination when a loud, startling sound pierced through the still air. Bagpipes, playing cadence to arms for a dead, unresponsive audience. I desperately wanted to know where they were coming from, so I walked briskly in that direction. Slightly straying from my path, I didn't quite mind wandering to the fountain, where a young man was standing alone, playing music for his fellow early risers. I stood and watched the water in the fountain a minute, taking in that music I've come to appreciate so much, enjoying the bright morning sun despite my own grogginess and hunger. I left and continued to breakfast, reassured that while my world and life had changed, things from my past would always seek me out at moments I need it most.

Sunday 23 August 2009


To add a little to my previous post concerning the drinking age, an issue that I tend to get a bit heated over:

At the age of 18, one is considered an adult. They can be tried in court as an adult, punished as an adult, face adult consequences. Anything negative that can happen to adult, can now happen to this 18-year-old.

Yet, said 18-year-old does not have all the rights as other adults in the nation. They are withheld the right to drink alcohol.

Unconstitutional? I think so.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Coming out of the Country Music Closet

(I might lose friendships for this... or at least, weaken a few.)

In my life, I've spent quite a bit of time making fun of country music... and I've spent an equal or greater amount of time singing it.

It's the genre I grew up on, but it was incredibly uncool during my adolescent years (and, arguably, now). While, in some ways, it can't compare at all to my other, superior, more intelligent music - indie rock, experimental, prog rock, whatever - country music has something going for it. It has a huge following, and an exceptionally large closet-fan base. I'm among them - don't often broadcast my love of country music. I'd rather be seen as a girl who likes the Dropkick Murphys, or Feist, or something. Truthfully, I would choose a Garth Brooks concert over ANY of those artists. Hands down.

I always thought country music was supposed to be only for southerners and Western New York tried to steal it. The truth is, as I wrote below, that simple way of life talked about in this genre doesn't only apply to the south. It exists anywhere there are wide open spaces, hard working people, and an appreciation for the more genuine things in life.

The first video goes along with what I just said extremely well. It's about enjoying the good things in life: a little bit of chicken fried, cold beer on a friday night. The second one, if you actually enjoyed the first any, is an incredible video of my man, Garth Brooks, performing one of my favorite songs EVER, Callin' Baton Rouge.

Sunday 16 August 2009

Wide Open Spaces

This weekend I took a camping trip with some of my buddies as our last time together before we all leave for our respective colleges. Some of my peers from the city might have been out clubbing with their friends, or at a crazy party on the beach, but I think I'm the luckiest. I got to grill my own corn in a fire pit for dinner, sizzle some bacon for breakfast, snack on peaches that came from my backyard. We all sat around the fire all night, sometimes adventuring out into the wilderness (or the next site over), or just chatting while making s'mores and smoking some strawberry cigars. We finally all passed out next to each other, in a row, under the stars in the clearest sky we'd ever seen. While others my age might have been glamorous in their dress jeans and silky tops, their glitzy jewelry and manolos, I wore the same jeans for about three days and broke my four year old flip flops. I wouldn't have had it any other way.

On the way there, I glanced out the window to see a fairly common scene: a field, some trees, the sky. Knowing that I'm not going to be around open spaces like that in a week, though, made me see it a little differently. At first it didn't seem like anything worthy of a picture.

After I impulsively took it, my mind was changed.

Wednesday 12 August 2009


This entry really isn't political at all. With all this talk about our new Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, I thought I might share another kind of Justice that I've been into lately.

Try to figure out who this song is a tribute for, I'll give you a hint: you've seen a gross amount of tributes for him lately, and like four of his songs are mentioned. It's a tough one, I know.

Friday 7 August 2009

Up and Coming

This week, two blogs have been born which will surely be worth reading. I would like to take some bit of credit for encouraging, inspiring or suggesting the creation of these soon to be masterpieces.

You may have seen Andrew "Beans" Stebbins leaving ridiculously lengthy comments on my blogs (the last two). He is both very knowledgeable and opinionated, so this blog should be interesting. I, and I'm sure many others, would agree that Beans needs an outlet for his thoughts and opinions of current events and issues. I would be willing to bet that most of his blogs will be based on politics and baseball.

Different things can be expected from Sam Bortle's blog, as, while she's also very knoweldgeable on the world of politics as well as passionate for her beliefs, she's quite interested in pop culture and such things. I could be wrong, but I would expect book, movie and music reviews as well as political and social ideas (something like Damanta Maith)... all of which are bound to be written in her own entertaining, often humorous voice. While she's been a fellow writer of mine for quite some time (she was editor of our leroy best seller, The Word), she's definitely been someone to look up to! I would expect great things from Sam.

I have several other talented blogger friends, and all of them can be seen on this page. Some update frequently, while some tend to go portions of years without posting more than school essays (coughjamescough). Check them out! Most people reading this are probably on that list, actually, but if you aren't... you should be! Get a blog! Talk about things and pretend people are reading it! :]

Thursday 6 August 2009

Republicans: Please Get Shit Done.

Once again, your party and I are put in an awkward situation.
I agree with your feelings towards public health care. It's no good. I don't like the idea. Bad move. We agree on this.

However, once again, you don't know how to get shit done. You say, "No public health care!" That's all fine and good... Until Democrats say, "Ok, what's your plan?"

"...huh. Umm... yeah... no public health care!"

That's not a plan!
Make a plan! An ALTERNATIVE.
Because I think it's clear that if Democrats have a plan that they like, it's going to pass eventually.
It shouldn't pass without a decent amount of debate and speculation... but it will pass.
So you're doing a good job of slowing it down, and talking it over... except, you're not really talking it over.
You're just saying no.
But "no" isn't going to keep us away from public health care.
Another idea of how to reform problems in the health care industry is what we need.
So come on, let's go. You're embarrassing conservatives and people who agree with you.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

The Sound of Republican Orchestration

Damn Republicans, "orchestrating" this movement against a bill they don't agree with! How dare they educate the public on their side of the issue, encourage their supporters to become active in the debate, and ask them to make their voices heard! It's outrageous. People are protesting and it's all the GOP's fault. Democrats would NEVER provide information that is favorable towards their side, advertise their ideas, or encourage their members or supporters to act upon their opinions.

I mean, this is a democracy. Why would a party encourage ANYONE to voice their opinions?!

Monday 3 August 2009

Overcoming Melophobia: The Arcade Fire

I'll admit, I'm a stubborn person and sometimes that leads me to miss out. I spent a long time declaring my hatred for The Arcade Fire, and now I'm ready to say I've turned 360 into a fan. This trailer is one reason why!

Friday 31 July 2009

Sarcasm: The Language of Friendship

So I see my friend, Kraig, that I'd met earlier that day at orientation. I'm all, "Hey Kraig! Having fun?"
"He doesn't want to talk to you!"
I am informed by a girl I've never spoken to... or seen, until about thirty seconds prior.
For a milisecond, I am confused, and awkwardly try to figure out what she meant... but only for a milisecond. Then I know. She's like me.... she's sarcastic.

It's a wonderful paradox, hard for some to swallow and harder for others to practice. Being mean is the best way to make friends.

For example, my Orientation Assistant (OA), Helen, and I "clicked" pretty quickly, and it's probably because we were both constantly making fun of everything and everyone around us, including each other.

It's easy to be nice to people you've just met, to ask them where they are from, what they are into, and how they like orientation so far. However, it's way more fun to ask awkward questions that poke fun at them... just a little.
Like making fun of the girl from Mexico... , New York.
Or making "townie" jokes about the kid from Colonie.
Or refering to the Serbian kid as "Serbia".

Sure, now and then you might meet someone who isn't really into getting made fun of, or doesn't understand your sarcasm. Personally, if someone can't take sarcasm, our friendship wouldn't really last too long anyway. There's a line between sarcasm and being offensive and it doesn't take too much common sense to know where it is... so don't cross it.

Just keep in mind that sometimes a sincere compliment does not go as far as, "um wow, you're cool!..."

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Past and Present Evils

From the time we are children, until our teen years, we are told not to do impolite, rude, or improper things. Our elders are appalled by the TV we watch, the music we listen to, and the language we use. So it begins, the belief that the past was not as socially corrupt as the present.

Yesterday I began working in a 154 year old house, or "the mansion" as I refer to it. This house is gigantic; with three fireplaces, more bedrooms than I cared to count, and bathrooms all over the place, you could easily get lost. Every time period left behind one artifact or another there, including photo albums, almanacs, even fan mail to an artist who lived there. While scrubbing the residue of years past off the hardwood floor, I wonder in awe about how much this house has seen: grandeur parties in the roaring 20's, the evils of slavery before the turn of the century, and probably the most comfortable lifestyle in town during the Great Depression.

Just being there makes the past more real. The last 154 years are no longer simply fictional scenarios described by history books... They were lived through, lived in - just as that house was - by people not so different from you and I. Being there, and realizing this, assures me that past decades were no less corrupt, no less evil, than our present day.

Monday 20 July 2009

Venturing into Emofest

It was a heafty price for an incredible reward. I am by no means a fan of "emo" culture, and have a short fuse when it comes to so-called "scene" kids. Despite this prejudice, I found myself in a sea of spiked green hair, eye liner, and 3OH!3 shirts on Thursday. I recieved judging looks from vain girls wearing plaid, and bows, and sometimes plaid bows. Feeling quite out of place and a bit embarrassed to be there, I wished I had a sign to wear reading: "I only came to Warped because I am a Flogging Molly superfan."

Steve, Eric and I grudgingly endured the Devil Wears Prada crowd in order to secure a nice spot for Flogging Molly's show. We encountered boys that seemed sure they were the toughest around, although I'm almost positive they would have fled at the first indication of an actual fight. Eric now sports a battlewound recieved during a fight over DWP drum sticks, during which I actually lost him. After I found Steve, Flogging Molly eventually took the stage and rocked the place with Paddy's Lement... although, I barely got to enjoy most of the music they played, because I was a bit busy. I had to focus all my energy to remain standing up among a packed crowd of swaying and pushing. I lost a flip flop, and got hit on the head several times with waterbottles and the like. Worst of all, the body of someone who thought it would be cool to crowd surf was thrown on me every 15 seconds, and with my height and strength, they more often than not ended up nearly hitting the ground. Once, I felt my shirt tugged on and turned around to see Steve on the ground, eyes wide, horrifyed, as he was getting stepped on and fallen on by those around him. My hair was pulled, my toes were stepped on, my head was kicked. It didn't seem worth it and Steve and I began to make our way out of the crowd, sideways.

That's when I ran into a girl I'd met earlier that day, a short, spunky chick who had sat in line with me for FM's signing (about an hour and fifteen minutes, we were first!). She was with several enthusiastic, energetic boys, and althought they too were getting shoved left and right, and were holding up bodies of crowd surfers, she was finding time to dance and jig inbetween the chaos. I joined her, singing and dancing when we could and trying to hide behind our larger male friends. Finally, during the last song (What's Left of the Flag), things began to look up. The crowd surfers were smaller in number, the crowd calmed a bit. The boys around us began to jig (or attempt to) and formed something of a kickline. Steve joined, as did random others, while we laughed and took pictures, and eventually danced along. Those two minutes of nearly uninterrupted celebration were worth every kick I recieved to the head, every bruise I got, the flip flop I sacrificed. That short time was filled with the purest feeling of celebration I think I've ever experienced. It was not drug nor drink induced; simply music, singing and dancing, with some friends we might never see again. We shared that short time together and parted ways to drive home and sleep for ten hours or more.

It might be a bit arrogant to say that Flogging Molly was the only band at Warped Tour that could provide such an experience... I'll say it anyway.

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Drinker's Education

Last night at the Kid Rock/Lynyrd Skynyrd concert at Darien Lake, law enforcers started to actually care about underage drinking - 96 arrests for this alone, on "The Hill". It would be that parking lot across the street from the venue, which often becomes one gigantic party, a haven for underage drinking.

I've always supported the idea of lowering the drinking age in the US. The general view of alcohol consumption in this country is, in my opinion, unhealthy. Instead of being a normal, natural part of life, it becomes frowned upon in most situations, for people of any age. Minors are told to not look at, touch, or think about drinking until they are of "age". This age requirement is older than that to get married, or to serve in the military. This implies that drinking alcohol is a more serious decision than marriage or laying down your own life for you country!

Most other cultures, anywhere in the world, have much better outlooks on alcohol. Teens are TAUGHT how to drink RESPONSIBLY, instead of being left to experiment for themselves in unsafe situations. Would you rather your child drink for the first time with their family, or at a shady party?

It is time for the drinking age to be lowered. While I don't think our nation is ready for it, I really like Scotland's system: at 14, you can have one drink in a restraunt with your parents/gaurdians, at 16, you can have one drink in a restraunt by yourself, and at 18 you can buy. I think this successfully eases teens into drinking responsibly. If high school drinking is such a concern, make the age 19. Whatever happens, it needs to happen ASAP, for two reasons: We need to change alcohol's place in American culture, and I want to be able to drink at concerts without getting arrested.

Monday 6 July 2009

Standing By Iran

While Iran is in the midst of a crisis that will change their nation forever, the worldwide community is watching, wondering how they can help. It's obvious militial help is not the best option at this time, so anyone wanting to express support for Iran must do so in a creative manner. Here, Jon Bon Jovi has teamed up with Iranian Superstar Andy Madadian to record this version of "Stand By Me". It's available for free download here, in hope that it will be passed around and shared with the people of Iran, to let them know that the US as well as the rest of the world is watching their struggle and supporting their cause. I would love to see this inspire others to do similar things in support of Iran's revolution!

Thursday 2 July 2009

I just set blogger up to my cell phone so i can text blog now! I have no idea when i would use this, but i think it's pretty sweet. :)

Sunday 28 June 2009

On A Rainy Night in LeRoy

I've been loving you a long time
Down all the years, down all the days
And I've cried for all your troubles
Smiled at your funny little ways
We watched our friends grow up together
And we saw them as they fell
Some of them fell into Heaven
Some of them fell into Hell

I took shelter from a shower
And I stepped into your arms
On a rainy night in Soho
The wind was whistling all its charms
I sang you all my sorrows
You told me all your joys
Whatever happened to that old song
To all those little girls and boys

I'm not singing for the future
I'm not dreaming of the past
I'm not talking of the fist time
I never think about the last

On the eve of the last day of school, the last real "school night", I stayed up half the night talking to my childhood best friend. We'd gotten into different groups and interests in high school, but managed to stay close, even if we didn't talk often or spend much time together. We sat in the gazebo next to the creek until about 2 in the morning, talking about high school and the future and our fears and ambitions. We realized how lucky we were to still have each other after all those years and changes in our lives. Some of my peers will struggle to remain extremely close with all their friends; others might never be seen again. I think this Pogues song gives a great outlook on this subject; on leaving friends and cherishing memories without holding onto the past.

People come and go, some go onto better things and some go onto worse. While you're together, enjoy the ups and comfort each other through the downs. Old friends bring part of your past into the present, but know that not every friend will be permenantly held onto. Don't spend too much time dwelling on the past, or planning for the future; instead, take a quick look around, see who is there with you, and be thankful for them. To the class of 09: enjoy your summer before college, and time in college, and after college... Just enjoy it all, and be thankful for any friend that happens to be around.

Friday 26 June 2009

Fallen King of Pop

Upon exiting this world, the light in which people are shown often suddenly changes hue. Michael Jackson has been viewed as an incredible humanitarian, a wretched child molester, and a performing demigod.

Of course, in the past 48 hours, the words associated with his name have frequently been "icon", "talented", "compassionate", and "revolutionary". While my generation may have more or less missed the boat on Jackson and his music, it's obvious, even to me, that he was both exceptionally talented and active in bringing social change. It doesn't take much speculation to realize he was an incredible dancer, singer and performer. My AP English class learned that this year as we attempted to learn the Thriller dance.

Several of his songs expressed the need to accept and celebrate diversity, one being "Black or White". He not only participated in, but actually wrote the song "We Are the World", performed by a supergroup of popular artists, which benefited Africa and promoted the need to end Africa's poverty and hunger. The King of Pop was also a conservationist, writing "Earth Song" about the need to save our planet and minimize our damage to it.

Prior to his cardiac arrest yesterday, many had recently viewed Jackson in a considerably different light. Between the well-known child molestation charges, his large amount of debt, altering his appearance to be relatively grotesque, and his obvious personal turmoil, he could easily be seen as creepy. I think the child molestation trials alone ruined the image of him for me, and many others. So while he was talented, it's hard to honor a person who was associated with such horrible things.

Anyhow, it's often the case and rightfully so that people are viewed as their best after their death - it's how you would want to be thought of, right?

One thing that does bother me, however, is how Farrah Faucett's death was overlooked by this. We're told Farrah was a strong, brave woman, who was willing to be completely honest and open while creating a documentary about her battle against cancer. Her death occured just hours before Jackson's. This morning on one talk show or another, I saw a slideshow of photos of BOTH Faucett and Jackson, which I think is outrageous. I would absolutely hate to be associated with Michael Jackson forever just because of my - or his - untimely death.

In conclusion, we all have good and bad characteristics and things we've done. This is even true of the King of Pop himself.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Advice to the College-Bound

If you're starting your college search now, you're about to be subject to a whirlwind of information, deadlines, propaganda, and emotions. Don't lose your head.

When you visit schools, they're going to: 1. show you the campus 2. talk about dining, housing, classes, extra curriculars, and study abroad 3. mention big name bands and celebrities that visit campus (these will include third eye blind and John Stewart... always.) 4. ask you to ask yourself if you can "imagine" yourself there.

Some schools will tell you that your task is to find the school that fits your personality. This is completely false. As you will find out, probably around April, is that you're actually looking for a school that fits your career ambitions and your checkbook.

I would suggest looking at all sorts of schools - small and large, near and far, private and public. You might initially think you need a small school because your high school was small... this isn't always the case. Personally, I think going a few hours away is a good idea - you'll be isolated enough to not hang on to your old life, and you'll make new friends while learning a new area.

While the social atmosphere is important, know that wherever you go, there are bound to be people that you'll get along with. This is especially true at a large school. Obviously, if you're into partying, you shouldn't be going to a quiet christian school, and if you're really into nature and the environment you probably shouldn't be headed off to an urban campus. Just don't read into everything too much, because chances are you could make yourself happy at almost any school.

Sometime in the spring of your junior year, the FAFSA will give you this lovely little number of how much money you are able to pay per year for college. It will probably make you sick. Almost every college you apply to will then give you enough financial aid to meet that exact number. "Financial aid" will consist of scholarships, grants, and LOANS which you probably shouldn't really count. You'll then do the math and figure out how much debt you'll have at each college you're looking at (and there will be debt).

Then you decide what school is worth what amount of debt.

I would advise everybody to apply to a SUNY (or state school, if you're not from NYS). That's what I landed on, it's a good education for a good price. Of course, that's just me; it's different for everybody. Just take comfort in the idea that whever you end up, you'll make friends, and you'll meet people with interests like yours. If you don't, you can transfer. While it's a big decision... it won't make or break your entire life. Probably.