Musical Monday #4: Tik Tok

Ok, so it’s not Monday, but I missed the last two weeks…and I’m in a musical mood.

If you’re just joining us, you can read here why I, someone who doesn’t know much about music, is talking about it so much .

Portland’s been doing that early-spring thing where it alternates between sunny and chilly (often in the same day), and right now it’s super warm and sunny. This season always makes me crave dancy pop music, so here we go!

“Tik Tok” by Ke$ha


So, I kind of love Kesha. I mean, I especially like her new album, but that’s a topic for another week, because right now what I’m feeling is her old stuff. The stuff that’s all beat and auto-tune and ridiculousness.

I’m not what anyone would consider a partier (I actually first discovered this song via this bookish parody by YA author Jackson Pearce), but Kesha’s stuff is always great to dance to. And there’s just something about the rhythm and catchy repetition that makes my brain happy.

If there’s any type of music I’m most self-conscious about liking, it’s probably pop music. I’ve always been self-conscious about it. As I’ve said before, it never seemed like I liked the right stuff at the right time. When my friends were into pop, I was still listening to oldies. By the time I’d caught up to pop, everyone had gone alternative. By the time I was figuring out what that even meant, indie music was all the rage, and I basically gave up ever understanding what constituted “cool” music. “Pop” music doesn’t feel intellectual, and at some point, that seemed to matter.

But adulthood has made me care less and less, and well, here we are.

Pop music is catchy. That’s what makes it fun. It’s repetitive and, usually, pretty simplistic. Dance. Drive around. Drink. Fall in love. It may be playing in to surface-level emotions, but sometimes you just want to drive around with your windows rolled down, singing along to the radio, and absolutely not caring what anyone thinks. And when you do, I recommend Kesha.

“Don’t stop, make it pop
DJ, blow my speakers up

Tonight, I’ma fight
Till we see the sunlight
Tick tock on the clock
But the party don’t stop, no…”

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Musical Monday #3: Fast Car

Welcome to the short, mostly-weekly series where I talk about the music I like…mainly because I can, but also because it makes me uncomfortable, and I think the things that make you uncomfortable are often the things you can learn the most from. You can read more ramblings about that in the first post, or just read on for this week’s batch!

“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman

Lyrics — iTunes

Man, this song. I first heard it on the radio back in high school, and it hit me hard. I don’t even know how I got a copy of it, since I know I never owned the full CD. How did we even get music back in 2002? (actually, I just went and purchased the full album on iTunes, because I’m pretty sure however I got single tracks of songs back in the early Aughts was not super legal)

Anyway, this song is such a story. I didn’t even realize how sad it was until I looked up the lyrics for karaoke a year or so ago, because it’s one of those songs that kind of lulls you into a setting, and then hits you at the end with some heavy feelings. I’m noticing a lot of these songs I love are about the bittersweet process of growing up, which apparently I was already keen on at 15. It’s a pretty universal thing though, am I right? How sometimes you go hard trying to get away from something, only to end up in the exact same place.

I love pretty much everything about this song. I love how visceral it is; how I can just feel myself cruising around in that car, desperate for some way to outrun life’s momentum. I love how deep her voice is. I love that she was once in a relationship with Alice Walker, one of my favorite authors. I love that I fell in love with this song when I was 15, and it still feels just as raw at 30.

“You’ve got a fast car
Is it fast enough so we can fly away?
We’ve gotta make a decision
Leave tonight or live and die this way…”

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Musical Monday #2: Makin’s of a Song

Happy Musical Monday! This is a totally small series I’m doing where I lean into the discomfort I have around talking about what music I like. Read my first post here, and buckle up for an odd combination of music and introspection.

“Makin’s of a Song” by Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson

Lyrics — iTunes

I’m not at all what you’d call a Country Music fan, but both my parents are from Montana, and we’d drive back every summer to visit family for a few weeks, so I guess you could say I built up an immunity. Most country is a little bit too melodramatic and twangy for my taste, and it tends to get associated with a ignorant and hateful mindset, which I’m definitely not about. But there’s something calming about country music.

Ironically, this song didn’t come to me during those summers as a child. My dad didn’t start really listening to Willie Nelson until I was in college, but he eventually stumbled upon the album Clean Shirt by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, and although we were taking far fewer road trips at that point, it quickly became the soundtrack to family adventure. This album may not be one I’m drawn to on the daily (I don’t even own a copy of it), but I’m happy to leave the cd playing whenever I borrow my parents’ car, and the songs have stayed with me.

The album is basically about growing up. Being older and wiser than you used to be, but maybe no less willing to have an adventure. And this song in particular reminds me of how I view experiences. Sometimes things can be horrible, but at least it gives you something to write about later.

“Always send a big guy for the money
Don’t give ’em no excuse to do you wrong
Even when you lose you’re still the winner
At least you’ve got the making’s of a song..”

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Musical Monday #1: Marilyn Hanson

I’ve always felt uncomfortable talking about music. It’s one of those “get to know you” questions a lot of people break out during awkward silences: “what kind of music do you listen to?” I hate that question, because it always seems like my answer is wrong. Too much oldies, too much pop; not enough passion, not enough opinions. But I do love music, I’m just very bad at keeping track of big groups. I know more about 90s pop now then I did when I was at prime listening age back in the 90s, but that’s still not a heck of a lot. And after writing, singing is one of the things I enjoy most.

But I’m not musical. I took a few years of guitar in high school, and before that a smattering of piano/violin/clarinet as my parents and the public school system tried to instill in me musical skills (and the responsibility of practicing regularly). I was in the nerdiest celtic band ever (we specialized in covers of video game music) in high school. I was in choir on and off, but never had any real, proper training, and always froze when auditioning for solos. My music-major roommate has desperately tried to explain music theory to me a number of times, and it just doesn’t sink in.

That is to say, I’m not terribly qualified to talk about music. But I’m going to anyway. I’m going to lean into this discomfort and try to just enjoy talking about the songs I love, so I don’t have to flinch away from that question every time. What kind of music do I listen to? Well, lets find out.

“Marilyn Hanson” by Hank Green & the Perfect Strangers


I’ve liked Hank Green’s music for a long time now. You may recognize him as half of the brother duo that comprises the Vlogbrothers (the other half of which is John Green, of The Fault in Our Stars fame). He does about a million things (including writing a book), but one of them is making and performing music. His song “Accio Deathly Hallows” is one of the early reasons he and his brother gained so much Youtube fame, and he specializes in what I guess I’d call nerdy indy rock? He does some wrock and some punk and a mix of other stuff. Incongruent is his fourth album, and I’d argue his best. It’s certainly my favorite. His solo stuff is charming, but the overall production quality seems so much higher on Incongruent, and he really flourishes with accompaniment. But, what do I know?

I’m mainly here for the lyrics, and although this song has a kind of humorous title, the tone is so…sad. Nostalgic, with that melancholy tug at the heart. I’ve found I really seek out this mood when I’m writing (and in my writing, I tend to pick at the idea of losing something ephemeral that was never really yours to begin with). This song embodies that; it’s all about looking back on a time you shared with someone, that maybe wasn’t perfect or significant, but that you can’t ever really shake the loss of.

When I thought of starting this blog series, this was one of the first songs that occurred to me. I hesitated, because most people won’t have heard of this song–but that’s one of the reasons I want to mention it. There are definitely other songs that embody this feeling, but I can’t stop listening to this one.

I’m not someone who can have music going when they write, but Incongruent is one of the albums that gets me in the right mood to dive into a story. It also picks me up when I need it, because although there’s this sadness to songs like “Marilyn Hanson,” there’s a sense of hope, too.

“Did you ever wanna go to back where we were before?
Smell that pot smoke wafting out from under your dad’s door
And the steak knives by the bedside
Jokes cracked in the black light
They were maybe not the best times but, well I’ve had worse
And I wouldn’t trade those memories for the whole fucking earth…”

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Dragon Ball Super is Ending, and I’m Not Ok

Alright, logically, I know everything will work out. But I’m still very much in my feels about this.

It’s been confirmed that as of episode 131 in March, Dragon Ball Super will be over…at least for the foreseeable future. Now what this means for the franchise is unclear, but it’s definitely not going away any time soon. There’s a movie slotted for December of this year, and I’m assuming they want all their energy focused on that. Once that’s done, my theory/hope is that they’ll be back with a new tv series, probably under a new name, which will jump past Super, landing on the other side of Z, after Goku’s gone off to train Uub. Super, which started during the ten year gap between the defeat of Buu and the end of Z, has always been working within a deadline.  They could only do so much, only get so far, because everyone has to turn up to see Pan (and yeah yeah, Uub) fight in that World Martial Arts Tournament. Granted, Dragon Ball has always been good at taking it’s time (I’m pretty sure the whole Buu saga pretty much takes place within a matter of weeks), but we’ve been feeling the drag on some characters, specifically the kids. This is a good opportunity to refresh the series, and get it moving forward and reaching new heights. (And finally de-canonizing GT once and for all)

But I really, really don’t want it to end.

Super has had it’s stumbling blocks, but overall, I feel like each arc has been better than the previous one (with the possible exception of the Golden Frieza saga). The Universe 6 saga opened up a lot of doors, probably the best being the introduction of an entirely new planet of Saiyans, and I enjoyed the Future Trunks saga a lot, even if it did stumble at the finish line. The Universe Survival saga has really blown me away–while it’s not been perfect, it’s surprised me at almost every turn, kept me engaged, and made the stakes feel realer than they have in a long, long time; and done this all without a true villain to speak of. I feel like Super has finally hit it’s stride. This is the show I’ve been wanting; in many ways, the show I’ve been chasing since I was a teenager.

And now, it’s ending.

We don’t know what will happen next. We don’t know that whatever magic is making this saga work will still be alive on the other side of the movie. We don’t know that we won’t lose other beloved talents, like we lost Bulma’s Japanese voice actress, Hiromu Tsuru, at the end of last year. Now, it could be for the best. It could be that if Super continued through the production of the new movie, that magic would be lost anyway, as attention and talent got split. But it feels risky to end it when it’s at such a high, and when it’s left so many possibilities still to explore, especially without a return planned. We’ve been promised a tour of Universe 6, and I want to see more of those Saiyans. I want to see more proud Grandpa Piccolo and protective Papa Vegeta. I want to, maybe, finally, see some character development forced out of Goku.

I guess for now, we’ll just have to hold our breath for the next Dragon Ball Z Abridged episode (and pick up a copy of Dragon Ball FighterZ).

I leave you with my favorite ending theme from Super (don’t worry, it’s not spoilery):

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2018 – Media Literacy Goals

A shot of Bruce Willis from Die Hard, with a building exploding behind him. Palette is mostly oranges, blacks, and greys.

Ok, I know February is a little late for New Years resolutions…but this is my blog, I’ll set goals whenever I feel like it!

I do have some general goals like “work out more,” “eat better,” and “update your damn blog every week,” but I wanted to do something a bit more interesting this year.

Like many people, there are a lot of books/movies/tv shows that I’ve somehow just…missed. Despite getting a Film Studies minor, I’ve still never seen Citizen Kane (though I’ve seen Casablanca more times that I can count). Sometimes that makes discussing popular culture difficult. This is a built up language, after all, and it helps if we’re all working with the same background.

So, to that end, my goal for 2018 is to fill some of these holes in my media literacy! I’m going to keep lists here of media I need to consume, and cross them off once I do. (I’m also cheating and adding a few that I got to in December…because I’m a rebel like that)

On that note, if you can think of something that absolutely everyone should have seen/read/whatever by now, let me know! If I haven’t gotten to it yet, I’ll add it to the list!

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Why Does Everyone Like Vegeta?

This image comes from a reddit thread by xXShatter_ForceXx.

I’ve run into this question a lot, both in trying to explain my love of DBZ to non-fans, and in commiserating with fellow fans. Vegeta is a very popular character. It’s rare to see promotional material without him, and he’s one of the characters that is most recognized by people who aren’t familiar with the show—even among those who don’t watch anime. And there are good reasons for this.

Of course, he has his haters. There are people who legitimately don’t like the character, and those that have been pushed into hating him by his sheer popularity. And they have their reasons. Despite being one of “the good guys” for most of the show at this point, it wasn’t until the later part of Z that he really showed any regard for human life, or even the life of his family and friends. He can get kind of one-note (“defeat Kakarrot!” “My pride!”). Although he’s softened a bit by Super, many feel like that’s been a bit out-of-character. But his popularity definitely isn’t an accident, and if you’re a Vegeta fan, you’re in good company.

First off, if you’re attracted to men, Vegeta checks a lot of boxes as a male character. He has a dark, tortured past. He’s full of machismo surliness, and gives absolutely no fucks (until he does, when your heart breaks). He definitely fits into a type that I myself am guilty of enjoying: reformed baddy who still walks that grey line between good and evil.

I assume these are also the reasons your “typical” Dragon Ball fan (heterosexual boys/men) like him; he’s badass, gives no fucks, and is just generally pretty cool. He’s also written with a lot of snarky one-liners, which always makes for good tv.

These are all perfectly good reasons to like him, whether or not you consider yourself a “fan.” But I don’t think they’re the most interesting reasons, so lets dive right in.

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