Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Break

I had an enjoyable Thanksgiving Break from Concord University. The reason I enjoyed my break so much was because I spent it with my girlfriend, Candace Nelson. She traveled from Morgantown (at the top of West Virginia) all the way to Princeton (at the bottom of the state) and stayed there all week with me.

This was Candace's second trip to Princeton. She stayed for 3 or 4 days in August before the semester started. I usually make the drive to see her, as it's easier to adjust my schedule than it is hers. But for the break she had the entire week off from work and I had most of the week off, so she came to see me.

I like getting to see Candace for extended periods of time. Usually we just get to see each other for the weekend and there's not really a lot of time to relax. We're so excited to be around each other and then it's time for me leave the next day. We had an entire week together so we could relax and not be so rushed to have fun with each other.

A few things we did:

- took a trip to Brush Creek Falls
- went to Danny's, a local sports bar
- went to a strip club
- introduced her to my mom
- had Thanksgiving with her parents (5-hour trip from Princeton; 2nd time I met them)
- ate at the coolest truck stop diner ever
- made rice krispie treats
- introduced her to several of my friends
- met one of her friends (weird coincidence that her friend from Morgantown was also in Princeton)
- and several, several more fun & exciting things

It's rough not being able to see her as much as I'd like. But this week with her was fun. And, the winter break from school is coming up so hopefully we'll get to see each other a lot more. We'll see what happens.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Top 50 - complete list

Below is the complete list of the Top 50 most-played songs on my computer's iTunes. The list is as of May 12, 2010.

1) "Hey Hey What Can I Do," Led Zeppelin

2) "Strip My Mind," Red Hot Chili Peppers

3) "Especially in Michigan," Red Hot Chili Peppers

4) "Readymade," Red Hot Chili Peppers

5) "Hero of the Day," Metallica

6) "Gimme Shelter," Rolling Stones

7) "Good Riddance," Green Day

8) "Jigga What/Faint," Jay-Z & Linkin Park

9) "Ronnie," Metallica

10) "Bleeding Me," Metallica

11) "She's Only 18," Red Hot Chili Peppers

12) "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seatle," Nirvana

13) "Emit Remmus," Red Hot Chili Peppers

14) "Redundant," Green Day

15) "Polly," Nirvana

16) "Better Man," Pearl Jam

17) "Death of a Martian," Red Hot Chili Peppers

18) "Pruno," Stone Temple Pilots

19) "The Unforgiven II," Metallica

20) "Serve the Servants," Nirvana

21) "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," Smashing Pumpkins

22) "Glide," Stone Temple Pilots

23) "Where Did You Sleep Last Night," Nirvana

24) "Black," Pearl Jam

25) "Where the Wild Things Are," Metallica

26) "Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll," The Killers

27) "Church On Tuesday," Stone Temple Pilots

28) "Violet Hill," Coldplay

29) "Ziggy Stardust," David Bowie

30) "Hello," Oasis

31) "Turn It Again," Red Hot Chili Peppers

32) "Sitting Waiting Wishing," Jack Johnson

33) "Savior," Red Hot Chili Peppers

34) "Desecration Smile," Red Hot Chili Peppers

35) "Heaven & Hot Rods," Stone Temple Pilots

36) "Black Math," White Stripes

37) "Yellow," Coldplay

38) "King Nothing," Metallica

39) "MC5," Stone Temple Pilots

40) "Hitchin' A Ride," Green Day

41) "The Jean Genie," David Bowie

42) "Rockin' in the Free World," Neil Young

43) "No Rain," Blind Melon

44) "Casey Jones," Grateful Dead

45) "Heart-Shaped Box," Nirvana

46) "This is the Place," Red Hot Chili Peppers

47) "I Got You," Stone Temple Pilots

48) "What It Takes," Aerosmith

49) "What's This Life For," Creed

50) "Soul," Matchbox Twenty

1 - "Hey Hey What Can I Do," Led Zeppelin

I know what you're thinking - "Really? This is number one?" And, yeah, it's a little random if you look through my list. Most people were probably expecting Red Hot Chili Peppers or Metallica to be on top. This always gets a mixed reaction with people. They either think this statement is weird coming from me, or they think it makes perfect sense. I like Led Zeppelin. I think they're pretty cool.

"Hey Hey What Can I Do" doesn't sound like a typical Led Zeppelin song. They have a few slower songs that are accoustic-ly based, but this is the closest Zeppelin comes to recording a country song. That's probably another reason why it's puzzling as to this being on my list, as I really don't like a lot of country music.

As I have stated several times, this is not a list of my favorite songs. This is a list of the songs I have listened to the most on my computer and iPod. "Hey Hey What Can I Do" was a song I heard a lot when I was a kid and enjoyed it. It was one of those songs I forgot about over time, even as I amassed my Led Zeppelin discography collection over the years. It's the only song that was never released on an official album. It was finally included on the re-issue of the Zeppelin B-side album Coda a few years ago.

After re-discovering "Hey Hey What Can I Do" I listened to it a lot due to childhood nostalgia. Then, I started listening to the story of the song, something I didn't pay attention to as a kid (and wouldn't have understood anyway). Those two factors created multiple plays for "Hey Hey What Can I Do," bringing it to the top of the chart.

Lyrically, the song looks to be about lead singer Robert Plant falling in love with an unsavory woman. Some interpretations put her as being a prostitute. He loves her, but knows he shouldn't be with her, prompting his thoughts of "Hey hey, what can I do?"

Musically, I like how "Hey Hey What Can I Do" builds throughout the song. It starts out slow and gets a little louder and faster as it goes. The background vocals of the rest of the band repeating "Hey Hey What Can I Do" are heard throughout, and the song reaches its peak when Plant finally belts out the title of the song near the end. A subdued beginning, with the trademark loud, high-pitched Plant/Zeppelin lyrics to close things.

2 - "Strip My Mind," Red Hot Chili Peppers

The final song from the Red Hot Chili Peppers on my countdown. They finish up with 10 of the 50 most-played songs on my computer's iTunes. They were also featured on the list in spots 3, 4, 11, 13, 17, 31, 33, 34, & 46.

"Strip My Mind" is a slower, really trippy song from their Stadium Arcadium double album. The uniqueness of the song is mostly from former guitarist John Frusciante, as his guitar work and backing vocals give "Strip My Mind" most of its identity. It's just a cool, mellow song to close your eyes and sway your head to.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

3 - "Especially in Michigan," Red Hot Chili Peppers

Number 3 on my list of the Top 50 most-played songs is another selection from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I've stated it enough times, but I'll add it again - Stadium Arcadium is one of the best albums of the last decade, and probably one of the best in longer than that. There's so many unique sounds and styles featured on the two-disk double album.

"Especially in Michigan" is similar to RHCP's earlier hit "Californication." Not musically so much, but more in meaning. "Californication" talks about the seedier side of California, which is where lead singer Anthony Kiedis lives. "Especially in Michigan" has more of a positive tone about Michigan, which is where Kiedis spent the early part of his life and where most of his family still lives.

It's one of those songs where you hear it and it sounds confusing. The words don't mean anything and it's just gibberish. After initially hearing this song I did a little research and - as the title would suggest - most of the lyrics have a lot to do with Michigan. "A mitten full of fishermen." People say Michigan is shaped like a mitten. "Lions and Tigers come running..." Those are sports teams. And you can find several such references throughout "Especially in Michigan."

Musically, this song is so unique. It doesn't sound like anything else right now. It has a sound all to its own, with the guitar solos and distortion throughout. That's ironic, considering that "Readymade" was accused of stealing a Jane's Addiction baseline and "Dani California" was accused of stealing a Tom Petty guitar riff. As a side note - I recall reading a Rolling Stone interview with Tom Petty and the RHCP riff was brought up. He said something to the effect of "There are so many songs out there, a few are bound to sound alike."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

SGA Transparency

As I've written a few times now, I have a night class every Wednesday at 4 p.m. that has kept me from being able to attend Student Government Association meetings, which are at the same time. I didn't have to attend the Sept. 22, meeting of my night class, so I went to that meeting (which I blogged about here). Other than that, I have had to keep up with the SGA through secondary means.

The problem with that is that there aren't really any good "secondary means" around campus. There are three main secondary means of getting information about the SGA on campus - The Concordian, the SGA's Facebook, and the SGA's Twitter.

The Concordian is kind of here-and-there with its SGA coverage. Sometimes it's decent, sometimes it's not so decent. Those in charge of the paper don't see the SGA as being as important as I did when I was in charge of the paper. The paper seems content to mostly cover events in Princeton, Beckley, Hinton, and Morgantown that have little effect on Concord's main campus.

That's cool. I don't need The Concordian to find out about the SGA. The SGA have their own Facebook and Twitter accounts. I'll just go there...

Oh wait, can't do that. They don't update their Facebook or Twitter.

This was an issue last semester, as I wrote about it in an entry titled "Transparency." Here's the fun, full link - http://chrisslater.blogspot.com/2010/03/transparency.html

That entry talked about how Jeff Yeager's SGA was not as transparent as he had promised. I also wondered why the SGA did not have a Facebook account. This was back in March. The problems seemed on their way to being a fixed after I posted that blog. A new Twitter account and a new Facebook account had been started.

The Yeager administration faded out and the Belcher administration took power this academic year. At the Sept. 22, meeting that I attended, the Technology committee gave a report. I don't remember who the chair was. I recognized her face, but I didn't know her name. She said something to the effect of "We're looking into ways to utilize the Facebook and Twitter."

In that "Transparency" entry I linked earlier, I wrote the following:

The key to making both of these accounts matter is to post relevant information. If they post nothing but weekly updates along the lines of "the SGA meets every Wednesday at 4 p.m. Stop by," then nothing will be accomplished. These accounts are for people who don't want to go to the meetings.

The Facebook account should publish the minutes in the "notes" section. A tweet should say, "Amendment 030310 passed. It [does this]." A Facebook status update should say, "What do you like about Spring Fling?" and let people get involved.

The biggest way for this to be seen as important is for the current SGA members to get involved. In that Spring Fling status I just mentioned, there should be 10 or 15 members of the student senate debating the subject. That shows the regular students looking at this, that the Facebook account is a great way to get informed about something, and also a good forum for the expression and discussion of ideas.

What have the Facebook and Twitter posted? The Twitter account hasn't posted anything since March 2, 2010. There are only two people who follow the SGA on Twitter - me and Robert Elsaid. The SGA only follows three accounts - me, Bill Lewis, and the old Concord SGA account that nobody ever deleted.

The SGA on Twitter is kind of a lost cause; I'll admit that. Some people just don't "get" Twitter. I'll just wave the flag on even trying with that.

The SGA's Facebook, though, that is a different game.

Why the SGA has no relevant or pertinent information posted on its Facebook account is beyond me. While I won't say that EVERY Concord student is on Facebook, I feel confident saying that NEARLY EVERY Concord student has a Facebook account.

Here's the last update from their page, which was posted Sept. 8:

SGA held a meeting today in the stateroom @ 4:00. It was announced that two senator positions are now open, one of the positons are for a commuter senator. If you are interested in being a senator please stop by the SGA office and pick up an application and return it as soon as possible. SGA meets every Wednesday in the stateroom at 4:00.

If you don't know much about what the SGA does, that update means nothing to you. It just boggles my mind that they can't update their Facebook in a way that can entice student involvement; or at the very least, just let students know what is going on.

There's nothing else to really say on the matter. A committee shouldn't spend months trying to figure out how to work a Facebook account.

Will things change? It did the last time I complained about this, for a little while at least. Will things change again? It would be in the best interest of the SGA and the student body if they did.

* * *

Here's my disclaimer (which used to be a constant in my blog but that I haven't needed to break out in a while):

I import these blogs into Facebook. That gives me the option to "tag" people, sending them an e-mail notification. I tag people for two reasons - 1) if I mention you by name & 2) if I think you will find this interesting. If you are tagged and don't want to be, let me know. If I don't tag you & you'd like to be tagged in the future, let me know.

There is a comment feature on this blog & I don't mind if you use it. It's cool to disagree, as long as it's kept civil. Anonymous comments are allowed, as long as it's relevant & mildly profanity free.

4 - "Readymade," Red Hot Chili Peppers

Number four on the list of the Top 50 most-played songs on my computer's iTunes is "Readymade," by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This is one of the faster-paced songs on RHCP's Stadium Arcadium album. I've read both a lot of praise and also a lot of criticism leveled against "Readymade." Most of the praise is directed at John Frusciante's guitar work, particularly the solo in the middle. Some criticism I've read has been that the bass line seems too similar to a Jane's Addiction song, the intro sounds like an Audioslave song, and that the word "Readymade" is used too many times.

When writing about song #6 on my list, I noted that one thing I felt was missing from music was a sense of realism, and that too much stuff was post-produced in the studio. "Readymade" features a spontaneous moment that shows the band was just in the studio performing this song together, as Anthony Keidis yells "Clean it up, Johnny!" to Frusciante right before his guitar solo. It's nice to hear something that's real.

5 - "Hero of the Day," Metallica

As I mentioned in my previous Top 50 post, this is not a list of my favorite songs, but rather, a list of the most-played songs on my computer's iTunes. That's why there are a lot of Metallica songs in the list - I was in a mood last summer to listen to Load a lot. With all of that said, though, "Hero of the Day" would rank high on the list of my favorite songs. It's the highest-ranked song from Metallica on my list, and would have been on this list even if I didn't go through my "Load phase" back in 2009.

It's just a really cool song. It follows that same pattern that I like about Metallica from this era (mid-90s) - slow intro and conclusion, louder chorus/middle. Lyrically, it's kind of vague. What is a "Hero of the Day"? Is it somebody we want to look up to? Is it somebody we should look up to? Somebody we do look up to, but we shouldn't? Is it even a person? Draw your own conclusions.

Metallica released a version of "Hero of the Day" on their S&M live album. Get your mind out of the gutter - it stands for "Symphony & Metallica." They played their songs with a symphony backing them. Click here to listen to that version.