Sunday, November 27, 2005

I'll Tell You What I Want

Adolescence can be a scary thing. Being 14 years old, a freshman with raging hormones can cause us (particularily men) to do some wacky things. And sometimes we end up paying our penance 12 years later. I was at that tender age when I was faced for the first time in my life with the undaunting task of telling a young lady that I prefer the company of someone else to her company. Being at that age and a complete coward, I figured the best way to let her know was in the form of a note* (although some may argue it was really a dissertation). I spent a great deal of time carefully choosing the words to quote-unquote, let her down easy. I delivered the note and figured we'd all move on with our respective lives. Well sometime fate throws a cruel wrench or two in the situation. Wrench 1: I became pretty good friends with said girl. Wrech 2: Girl holds onto The Note. Well in the 12 years since the writing of The Note, it has grown to be somewhat of a legend in our circle of friends. It had been years since I last saw The Note and entered into a little wager with the friend -- if The Note could/could not be produced, one of us would have to entertain the crowd with a karaoke performance.

A few days ago I was informed that The Note had been found and that I better get ready. I arrived at the bar in anticipation of the event and began to consume the amount (a lot) of fermented & distilled beverages required for me to get through this ordeal. Friend was not there and there was still hope that 1) Friend would not show, 2) Note really was not found, and 3) Song was not available on Karaoke. Well shortly, Friend showed up and proceed to produce the note, pass it around to our group of friends. Everyone (including my new girlfriend) was able to read the elegant words I wrote and complimented me on my tact and choice of words. In order to fulfill my destiny, a Karaoke slip was filled out and submitted for me. My heart was pounding in dueling bouts of fear and anticipation of what I had to do. A couple of people had sang when I heard the fateful words of the DJ calling my name.

I strolled up to the microphone, saw the title "Wannabe by the Spice Girls" and downed my drink in order to numb my experience. As the song was cued up, a sense of calm came over me as all fear left my body. Instead of running from performing this song, I decided to run with the song. The whole 4-5 minutes seemed like a blur as I entered a trance like state. The words were lighting up and I was following along, word for word, beat by beat, right on cue. I changed voices as I adopted one Spice Girl persona for another. I was dancing and providing choreography. I had rhythm -- a rhythm that has been absent in all previous dancing, but I reached down into the depths of my genes (thank you Lusins) to garner it for all it was worth. The screams from the crowd were deafening. I kept going, doing karate kicks after each "Zigazig ah." I pushed forever upwards into a realm of performance art that may not be duplicated again in the history of karaoke at Corky's. As I ended I knew I had reached a new level of entertainment. The patrons of the bar had gone in looking for some drinks with some friends and enjoy a song or two. They left with the satisfaction of having seen one of the greatest karaoke performances of all time.

*Will be known as The Note for the rest of eternity

Monday, November 21, 2005

Wake Up Kids

I orginally wrote a post the other night but forgot to save it and lost it for all of posterity. It contained lots of fun (that's for you to decide) links. In a nutshell, last weekend (the 11-13) I traveled back to the land of the Cuyahoga. I brought with me a female companion (psst...that's her on the right) and introduced to to Cleveland, Ohio. We spent some time over at the campus of ol' Case Reserve. We checked out the new dorms and I showed her Spartan Stadium. Upon walking into said stadium she remarked "You call this a football stadium?" Her only experiences of American Football are attending two games in the other Spartan Stadium. Quite a difference. By the way, for you Case readers, they've having a Throwback Weekend in February featuring uniforms of the Red Cats and Rough Riders. I should contact Uni Watch.

In other happenings, I had a group presentation today. We've been sitting through these each day for the past 3 weeks or so. All the groups have been very monotone, lack excitement, and didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. They would go up there and talk for a half hour going from one group member to the other. Very unimpressive. Being the lone grad student in the class, I made sure my group (me and 3 girls) was up to the challenge. Our topic was "Sports and Media," and we decided to have some fun with it. We did a mock ESPN SportsCenter. Myself and one of the girls were the co-anchors and the other two were "guests with expert knowledge" who we did Q & A sessions with. This was augmented by a PowerPoint presentation that featured audio and video video clips. We also had slides that flashed "Applause" after one of our "guests" had finished. Given the topic, the style we did it in was all quite appropriate. Some of the things we featured: voice inflection (what a concept!), talking between group members (vs just going through each member and them presenting their topic), and we dressed up! Yeah I like to look good for presentations, but people would go up there with sweats on. C'mon folks, get with the game.

So yeah after the presentation our professor always asks for positive, negative, and positive feedback (she calls this the "feedback sandwhich," get it? get it?). Lots of positive feedback and she told us we were "marvelous." Basically, we kicked ass. To keep the whole sports metaphor going, it is akin to a competition where participate one at a time (think diving, gymnastics, ice skating, slam-dunk contests). We set the bar so high that the other students (athletes) just responded in disbelief and thought "how did they do that?" and sat there, deflated. There is a look in a competitors eyes when he knows he still has a shot...there is also the look when they see how well someone else does that they are now competing for 2nd place. We'll see if wednesday's group takes any cues from us.

A couple of minor things went wrong. I had sweet ESPN font for all the headings of our slides. Since the font was not installed on the computer that we used, it was not visible. :(
We also had a clip from the 1972 Munich Games in which we talked about how sports media can negatively impact real news events. The DVD was not cued up properly and instead of waiting for things to get resolved, we (me and my coanchor) said "we're having some technical difficulties and will move on." We did a good job on the improv. And to close it out I said "Keep it classy KIN 445."

Turkey Day is 3 days away. I. Cannot. Wait.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Get Those Old Records Off the Shelf

This may be a bit of rant, so I apologize in advance.

I'll get it out right now, I hate cheesy wedding music. And for this moment I'll admit that I'm an elitest "holier then thou" prick when it comes to music. Since I'm at that age where lots of people I know have been getting married over the past year or two I've had to endure evenings of dancing to horrible music. There was one exception to this and I'll get to that in a bit. First, let's check out some of the main thorns in my side.

Number 1, with a silver bullet
I think the all-time worst offender of the wedding-music genre is Bob Seger and his Old Time Rock & Roll. First of all, the song sucks. There is no getting past that fact. Secondly it serves as an invitation for all uncordinated middle-aged white guys to come out and dance. It never fails. For some reason you put an average uncoordinated guy on the dance floor while that song is on and it's like an exponential function into the upper stratosphere of uncoordination. At least with a lot of more dancy stuff, you can fake it and not look ridiculous, but this song is just the daddy of them all. And for some reason when it comes on, the MAWGs (that is on HELL of an anacryonm, and you heard it here first folks), think it is one of the best songs ever and get up and dance. Horrible, just horrible stuff.

Number 2
The Electric Slide. I never learned this dance. I don't see the appeal in line dancing the same 16 steps for 5 minutes. A good time to vist the bar and get a double-shot of Wild Turkey. Side note, to you LHS alums, how many times did you do the Macarena and say "hey, we were doing [basically] the same dance to Personal Jesus (and a superior song) way before this crap."?

Number 3
Celebration. Can you believe that the same geniuses behind Jungle Boogie also came up with this offender? How many weddings haven't played this one within the first 10 minutes of being at the reception. Yes, it's a wedding. We ARE going to have a good time and you know what Mr. Kool? We are celebrating. We don't need you to tell us.

Number 4

The Love Shack. Now don't me wrong here, I rather enjoy this song. But it is way overplayed at weddings. The song has been devalued due to its association with the other songs on this list.

Number 5
Any cheesy slow, slow-rock/kenny g/etc crap for the father-daughter/mother-son/etc dances that we are forced to sit through.

Number 6
Any Country. This should actually be higher up, cause I'm at a wedding and I don't want to hear about how sexy your tractor is.

So there are your prime offenders. There are more, but I don't go to weddings to list down all the songs that suck. Since I'm on the topic, how offensive are wedding DJs that play this crap? They all have those classic crappy radio voices, trying to encourage people to dance to the stuff they choose to play. Sometimes I wonder how clued-in they are. I've been at more then one wedding where the DJ screwed up the introductions of the bridal party (including the bride & groom) -- just wrong man. And sometimes they play songs that no one knows and just clears the dance floor. Don't do that, it ain't cool.

Probably the best wedding DJ I ever experienced was this past summer at Gellin-Alexander Fest 2005. They chose to have a friend of ours (Mr. Michael Monaghan) DJ the wedding. Mike asked for us (the Case Swimming Alums) to provide mix CDs of songs that were a big part of when we were in school. We came prepared and there was a steady mix of 80s classics along with the songs (Shimmer, Veronica, etc) that had actually meaning to us. Add this to the fact that Mike is an actual DJ and mixed the songs was a great time.

When I get married (whenever that may be), the music will be important. Really important. Being a music snob you will not see any of the above songs played at my wedding. Of course in my dream world I'd have R.E.M. serve as the wedding band, but that is my dream world, and not reality. I like the idea of having a friend serve as DJ or having a live band. In the few times I've experienced a live band at a wedding, it didn't go wrong. Yeah, you miss some of the fun Rap/RnB/dancy songs (Baby Got Back, Bust a Move, etc) that are hard to replicate in a live setting, but you gain so much more from having a live band. If for some reason I do have to hire a DJ, I'll be very particular and probably give him the list of songs that I want to be played and will additionally give him a no-play list. Some may not like it, but hey, it's my wedding and I'll only be doing it once.