Shot Of Rhythm

[ Wednesday, April 20, 2005 ]


A parable

This happened to me a few weeks ago, and I forgot to blog about it (which was my original intention):

I was in the Memorial Library InfoLab, aiming to print out a paper for seminar. All the computers in said lab have clever, pop-culture related names: there's the Lord of the Rings section (with "Frodo," "Aragorn" and the like), The Simpsons, Guns 'N' Roses, etc. I was at work on one of the Jackson 5: "Tito," to be specific. I tried to use Tito's print function, but - for some reason that I never figured out - Tito wouldn't print. Wouldn't even show up on the queue at the print station.

It was pretty packed in there when I was having this difficulty, so I couldn't just move to another computer. Instead, I had to walk up to the eager-looking desk assistant and utter the following sentences, sentences I honestly never anticipated saying:

"Yeah, I'm having problems with Tito. Tito won't print. Jermaine and Jackie both seem to be printing, but Tito won't print."

Oh, life's wonderful bouquet...

By the way, two more tidbits from the world of academic semantics:
-I finally used the word "vicissitudes," in a response paper last Monday. (See February's entries for more on that word.)
-Name actually referenced in seminar yesterday: Jiminy Cricket.

On the box right now: Flavor Flav, GREATEST HITS. I made this disc, a compilation of all of Foofy Foofy's tracks from Public Enemy's records. Really good, if a little crazy.


Dove With Claws [7:56 AM]

[ Monday, April 18, 2005 ]


Higher learning

So, in this one seminar I've got, we've been having a really crazy semester. The professor who was teaching the course had to take medical leave, which means we've had a substitute professor for the lion's share of the semester; luckily, the replacement is a great teacher and discussion leader, so it's worked out well. For the most recent book we read, though, a substitute for the substitute came in, a professor who's written about the book we were covering. So it makes sense, and he was a very nice and knowledgeable dude. We devote two seminars to each book, so he came in last week and this week. Nobody was regretting that he was coming in, but he didn't exactly endear himself to us when the first thing he did was hand out an assignment for the next session (a.k.a. today). Now, it sounds pretty whiny for me (or any of us) to bemoan the fact that he was gonna make us write a one-page response to the book, but it's not something that we've been asked to do before.

And how did my colleagues respond? Today, when seminar started, of the 13 people enrolled in this seminar....4 showed up. FOUR. Two more showed up late, but that still makes it less than half of the group. It was kinda embarrasing, quite frankly. The substitute-substitute professor was very understanding about it ("Yeah, I know, I'm a substitute, and it's nice weather"), but I can't believe that he felt tremendously respected or appreciated.

Now, before you think this is a self-righteous screed about the failed integrity of my scholastic peers, as opposed to my steadfast nobility, keep this in mind: I damn near didn't go either. I didn't want to do the damned assignment, I didn't feel confident in my abilities to write something good on the topic I'd been assigned, I have about 10 other projects I'd rather be working on, and it was really nice weather. But I went. And you know why? Because I didn't want to be that guy. I figured that everybody'd show up, except ol' CLH, and then the suspicion, at least, would be that CLH was trying to bail out on a measly little one-page response assigned by a dude who isn't even grading us anyway. I damn near did it, and - although I sincerely feel happy that I didn't contribute to the sub-sub's embarassment - I don't know that I would show up again if I had to do it over.

This is what we call academic integrity, my friends...

On the box right now: Busta Rhymes, BEST. Wow, this disc - which I bought for cheap - is way better than I was expecting.


Dove With Claws [5:25 PM]

[ Sunday, April 17, 2005 ]


Elvis is King

I saw Elvis Costello in Milwaukee last night. One of the best rock and roll shows I've ever seen. Two-and-a-half hours, 30-some songs, not one weak spot, and several major highpoints. He was in great voice, his song selection was top-notch (old favorites, more esoteric choices, new songs and covers as well), and the playing was, without exception, totally fierce. As big a Costello fan as I've always been, I've never really thought of him as a great guitar player...until last night. Some of his soloes - particularly on slow-burn blues like "Love That Burns" or "I Want You" - could have melted the room.

He was also an amazingly engaging performer, doing call-and-response with the audience and dropping in lyrics and melodies from other songs - from The Beatles to Toots and the Maytals - throughout the performance (in a way that reminded me very much of hip-hop sampling); particularly nice in this regard were his use of Smokey Robinson's "You've Really Got A Hold On Me" in his song "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror," and the meeting-of-two-Elvises medley of "Alison" and "Suspicious Minds." He covered Hank Williams, Merle Haggard and - major thrill - two Nick Lowe songs. One was "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," which doesn't really count since it's one of his most popular songs, but the other, "Heart Of The City," was totally unexpected. I was suitably impressed.

At the end of the show, he closed with his song "The Scarlet Tide," which he wrote for the COLD MOUNTAIN soundtrack. It's a beautiful ballad, almost Irish in its sound, and he sang the third verse with no accompaniment, and no amplification. Just Elvis and his guitar, on the edge of the stage, with no microphone. It was a stunt, but it was a beautiful stunt. Moving, really.

Anyway, it was absolutely fantastic. Every once in a while, I need something to recharge my rock and roll batteries, and this was absolutely it. Viva Elvis!

On the box right now: Elvis Costello, THE CLARKSDALE SESSIONS.


Dove With Claws [9:24 AM]