Rap killed the spoken word star

Posted September 8, 2008 by RidgewayWilliams
Categories: crap rap, music, rant, rap, rap music

Tags: , , ,

I love all types of musics but I have a growing hatred for pop rap. By “pop rap” I mean over-played, gangster rap. I still appreciate the talent and time it takes to make a good beat but why are there so many weak lines out there that no one picks up on? Have we just stopped paying attention to lyrics?

Now back in his day I am sure Shakespeare was a thug (if he or she was real person). His lines were tight and given his rhymes about the ladies I am sure he was a pimp. I imagine him spitting some fresh lines to dimes all the while G-ed up from the feet up (rapping to hot girls and dressed nicely).  Most of his lines are timeless and can be used by anyone regardless of race or class. Now lets see that scenario in the modern times. Just imagine an elderly and sophisticated British man saying the following.

Lil’ Wayne- Lollipop
Uh Huh No Homo…
Young Mula Baby
I say he so sweet
Make her wanna lick the rapper
So I let her lick the wrapper

Okay, Jeves that is just Creepy! Please Ying Yang Twins, restore my faith in rap stars. Surely, you must be clever with your reference to the ancient Asian (oldest example actually found in Korea) symbol representing the duality, perhaps representing the duality of humanity a la Full Metal Jacket. I’ll let the reader decide, try to imagine a Korean child saying the following.

Ying Yang Twins- Wait (the whisper song)
Ay bitch! Wait til you see my dick
Wait you see my dick
Ay bitch! Wait til you see my dick
Imma beat dat pussy up
Like B-AM, B-AM, B-AM [… etc]
Beat da pussy up, Beat da pussy up

Holy break-dancing Christ, you kiss your mother with that mouth? Well, this could go on and on, my next targets would be Dizzee Rascal “Dance with Me” and Usher’s “Make love in this club”. Usher, seriously, “make loving” and “public areas” only mixes for exhibitionists, for the rest of us a hook up in the club is followed by regret, a trip to the VD clinic and children, or so I hear *tugs at collar*.

I think you get the point, most pop rap sucks. OK, technically “Wait” wasn’t a single by the Ying Yang twins but their single “Salt shaker” was and it also deserved to be flushed like the turd it was. Any song that has the word “skeet” in it is referring to ejaculating and is therefore not contemplating the inner workings of the human soul. I enjoy talking about the funny things about being human, as I have a very dirty sense of humor, but is “coming” on someone or something really what you need the world when the spotlight is briefly on you? I don’t hate rap, but I hate that I have to search harder and harder to find good rappers. Here are a few I can think of.

Shad- he’s Canadian and up for a Canadian music award (a Juno if I remember correctly). His intelligent mind and playful sense of humor comes together beautifully in his album “The Old Prince” which I bought over the Itunes store awhile back. Deep songs such as “Brother (watching)”, which tackle race related stereotypes are intermingled with humorous songs like “The Old Prince Still Lives at Home”, which is practically a theme song for cheap student living. The mix is perfect as it is thought provoking with out overwhelming or depressing the listener. I really hope he gets the Juno, talent like his should be brought to the forefront. Link to CBC Radio3 website which hosts many of his songs here.

Talib Kweli- proof that you don’t have to be underground to be deep. I first found Talib Kweli through his songs like “Get by” and “Listen”.  “Listen” (music video here) expresses my anger over a lack of “real rap”. I need to invest more in his albums as the more I hear the more I like. I hear he’s doing well for himself, oh and hes also in some Kanye West songs.

Brother Ali- proof that you can be white and rap. Apart from Eminem and the Beastie Boys we white people got nothing (main stream that is). Brother Ali is a great freestyle rapper whose duels can be found on youtube, and he has a great anti-war rap called Uncle Sam Goddamn (video here). Abdominal is another good white (and Canadian) rapper. Check out “Fast Food (Fry Antics)” its another funny song, you can find many of his songs here.

Now a fantastic parody of gangster rap is Jon Lajoie’s “Everday Normal Guy” (video here). He’s Canadian and has a lot of other funny stuff, I like the cut of his jib and I hope he goes far.

*In the voice of a sterotypical burly Turkish man* I’s out y’all


Somewhere after the party/ early life crisis

Posted September 8, 2008 by RidgewayWilliams
Categories: archaeology, battlefield archaeology, geophysics, scotland

Tags: , , , ,

I submitted my thesis last Monday and my body is slowly coming to terms with the cessation of the partying. Now I find myself asking the same question that my personified liver would pose, now what?!  It seems that this question is just the tip of the iceberg; some of my Scandinavian friends call this the beginning of the ‘early life crisis’. My parents noted that this would be the first time I am not going back to school in almost 20 years.

Sweet jesus, now I have to get a job. Sadly, it seems that the “credit crunch” has significantly effected development (or at least new jobs in the archaeology sector) in the UK so I will be returning to Canada. If I had EU status, it wouldn’t matter but given that I have to spend a hundred pounds just to stay on with a work visa I think its becoming too financially taxing. From the sounds of things the mythical “archaeology factory” is still running strong in Alberta, a Canadian province, economical, drunk with oil (they have more oil than Iraq does but please don’t tell our Yankee neighbors). Ok the “archaeology factory” is kind of an inside joke which mocks the job instability and unpredictable nature of professional archaeology.

I am now looking for, an archaeology-based, job until November.

If anyone is interested here is the abstract from my thesis.

This paper is composed of three sections. The first section will discuss the advantages of employing geophysics surveys on military sites followed by an assessment of the role geophysics fills within the context of other techniques employed by archaeologists. The second section will discuss the advantages of studying war graves and then will employ published geophysics surveys to assess the ability of the three most widely used geophysical techniques (resistivity, magnetics and ground-penetrating radar) to detect war graves. The third section will employ published geophysical surveys to provide examples of different features that can be detected on military and conflict sites from prehistoric times to the modern era.

If you are one of the hundred or so people around the world who is knee deep in geophysics and would like to learn more about my topic just ask and I can fire off a PDF copy of my dissertation. With feedback from the internal and external markers, I can polish that puppy up and perhaps publish it in one form or another.

Parkour is more than a pastime

Posted August 19, 2008 by RidgewayWilliams
Categories: Parkour, scotland

Tags: ,

Well I have submitted all three chapters of my dissertation to my supervisor and I am left with a gap in my life. I am currently filling that gap with exercise and Parkour. I have changed my exercise regime to cater to my weaknesses in Parkour so I am just dedicated to Parkour. After watching some interviews with Parkour practitioners or “traceurs”, I realize that I view my environment very differently. One “traceur” stated that you develop the eyes of child; the urban landscape suddenly becomes your playground and you’ll see new fun activities everywhere. Kids haven’t learned social norms and often just play when and where ever and you have to follow their lead, even when people give you funny looks or take pictures of you without asking.

Here are a few clips, which illustrate its true awesomeness. Note that these videos features pros, I am not that good, I do not claim to be a “traceur” (yet).

Here is a good documentary/intro into Parkour, from the Vancouver Film School (VFS), hurray for Parkour in Canada!

Parkour is not a male dominated sport, here are some of the ladies of Parkour Generation taking to the streets of London. One of the best constructed videos with just the right amount of humor.

Parkour seems in is element in chase scenes, there is some great games of tag on youtube.

Good collab- the shirtless guy is David Belle a co-founder of Parkour, part of the Yamakasi school, he is also featured in the movie District 13

Ok, here is one of the best chase scenes, ever, from District 13, this is hardcore Parkour, most Parkour is not that high risk

There is a lot more on youtube
“Parkour generation” has a lot of good videos which show the hours of practice that go into video/photo shoot jumps (such as “behind the jump”). You develop a sense of familiarity with your training grounds and it feels very weird to suddenly see it on youtube. “Rottenrow” is my turf, and there are a few videos which feature the spot.

Bibliography referencing software- please bear my children

Posted August 8, 2008 by RidgewayWilliams
Categories: bibliographic citation software, rant, solutions to problems, useful tools

Tags: , , , , ,

I love technology when it creates useful tools for me and bibliography referencing software is truly one of those gems. You only have to type in the important referencing information once (like author, journal, pages etc) and with one click of the mouse the software will reformat ALL of your citations to almost every reference style. As mentioned earlier, I am writing a dissertation and it has already saved me about a hundred hours. I am using EndNote X1 (through a university license) but there may be better options out there.

I am simply trying to bestow this newfound awesomeness to others as I remember a Classics professor made his class type up a bibliography, oh, and then an Archaeology professor did the same thing. They were to be completed in different citation styles and they were due around the same time. Clearly, I was in both classes and my apparent disrespectful misplacement of periods and commas, as I was unable to separate the two styles in my mind, cost me marks.

I know technology can solve many of humanities issues, however, I don’t think THIS problem is entirely necessary. Here is an anthropological solution for this problem. Why don’t we only have one reference style? Seriously, why are those damn many ways of presenting, essential, the same information? Say, why don’t we take the spokespersons from the most widely used reference style and have them battle it out. It can be an academic battle or one to the death, I know which one I’d rather watch. The winner of this battle royal would be the sole style used. Anyone caught using a rogue style would be forced to watch the “academic” version of the battle in the style of Clock Work Orange. I call it the “Universal citation style”. I imagine it written with the text used on Metallic album covers and drenched in the blood of its enemies. I don’t like to ring my own bell but seriously, I’ll make an awesome politician one day.

Sorry, I’ve been busy (Scone excavation!)

Posted August 8, 2008 by RidgewayWilliams
Categories: albino peacock, archaeological ethics, archaeology, scotland

Tags: , , , , , ,

I have been plugging away on my dissertation and it has been absorbing my life. It is due September 1st so you can see that I need to buckle down. I am working on the applications of geophysics on battlefield sites. I am talking about locating war-graves, and a through time (aka chronological) perspective of battlefield characteristics and what can be detected with different geophysical techniques. Normally, I’d say ‘please don’t rip me off’ but given the time frame I will instead say ‘good luck ye intellectual pirates!’

Well at the end of last month, I helped to excavate Scone (not pronounced like the baked good, more like Schooner without the ‘er’), which was the seat of power in Scotland and the site of a medieval abbey. I also did a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey there a few months back.

I was there for three days and I did the following. I helped uncover the abbey floor, I excavated a 500 year old mother and child burial (well the “mother’s” gender has not be confirmed), I found more scattered (AKA “disarticulated”) human bones then I would have liked and I helped to backfill the trenches. Going back to the disarticulated bones, sadly, looters and 19th landscapers simply dug through burials, and managed to both scatter and shatter the bones.

I have pictures of the eight or so burials that we encountered, however, I will not post them out of respect for the dead. Speaking of the dead, it is very interesting to see how the tourists reacted to the visible presence of human remains. Children, well mostly children, would race up to you and ask ‘where are the skeletons?’ I got so blasé about pointing out the best viewpoint to see burials that after informing a group of people I was shocked when one lady indigently replied “Oh, how macabre!”

The questions people ask you when you are working on a burial never cease to amaze me. They range from “are they going to be reburied afterwards” to “are those real”. I’ll just assume they were talking about the burials. Here is what I wanted to say – no people, I spent hours creating mock burials so I could spend even more time “back-breakingly” and publicly excavating my own forgery. Ain’t I a stinker!

Jokes aside, spiritually and religion is always on the forefront of many questions. Many would ask if we could determine the religious beliefs of the dead; others would ask about crystals and spiritual alignments. Hey, it takes different stroke for different folks.

While the dig was on the peacocks were malting so many of us archaeologist were carrying on with feathers in our caps. Well, at least I was; just call me Yankee-doodle-dandy. On second thought, please don’t. Oh and here is a picture of one of the peacocks from the last time I was a Scone.

The Albino peacock complex

The Albino peacock complex

Right, back to Roman sieges, and their components that are visible to different geophysics techniques. Hell, if I get good enough grades on this puppy I will post it.

Cultural Spit Swap!

Posted July 9, 2008 by RidgewayWilliams
Categories: Canadian Music, Cultural Spit Swap

Tags: , , , , ,

No, sadly, this post is not about sexual toursim, I just thought it was a cool sounding title. I am personally tired of Canada’s music being only associated with Nickleback, Avril Lavigne, and Celine Dion. I am sure there are other nations out there who bow their head with shame when that one overplayed stereotypical song comes on the radio and all eyes fall on you for your geographical association.

In response to being associated with songs I don’t even like, and didn’t like the first ten thousand times I heard them, I am going to recommend some tracks to refresh your audition view of Canada. Later I am going to move on to some tunes from the UK that I quite fancy. Lets all get involved, let’s not just export commercial crap tunes. Currently, it seems like there is there some kind of tariff on originality

Oh, if you click on the names of the group/musician it will link you to a site where you can listen to their songs for free.

My personal favorite The Awkward Stage (rock singer songwriter)
With some of the best lyrics (meaningful, dark and funny all at once) I have ever heard, the leader singer, Shane Nelken (who also works at a funeral home) inspires my confidence in Canadian Indie music. Hell, he makes went want to move to British Columbia (a province in Canada) so I can live in his bushes and calculate how to steal his thoughts.

Listen to this gem “West Van girl, delicate and frail, I will read your skin like braille in your suburban hillside jail.” (Note that West Van is referring to West Vancouver, a city in the province of British Columbia NOT the capital as I foolish said please forgive me oh great CAPITAL city of Victoria)
Try– The Morons are Winning, Anime eyes, and West Van Girl

Pop paradise Two hours traffic (alt pop)
These guys may be from the smallest province in Canada (Prince Edward Island) but that doesn’t stop them from plastering a smile on my face and unconsciously forcing me to tap my toes. Don’t be afraid of the term ‘pop’, it doesn’t mean that they’ve cut back on the lyrics. Given that their band name is a Shakespearian reference I think you can put two and two together.
Try– Stuck for the Summer, Heroes of the Sidewalk, and Jezebel

Electric excellence Junior Boys (electronic, maybe a bit minimalist)
Hamilton, Ontario you have never sounded so good. Junior Boys (and MSTRKFT and The New Deal) stretched my music enjoyment into the world of the electronic. That lot also simultaneously prepared me for the UK’s love of the electronic dance music. I could not get the song “In the Morning” out of my head for about a month and before I learned I could electronically download Canadian albums (via the Itunes store- I don’t advocate pirating the underpaid, the lesser known and the truly original) I simply continually listened to the same CBC radio 3 podcast (with Grant Lawrence). I played that same podcast so much that when I try to play it now it sounds like a dusty record from the 1800s.
Try– In the Morning, Bellona, and Double Shadow

Personal thanks to CBC Radio 3 for having an awesome website. Really, isn’t that why the Internet still exists so we can piggyback the hard work and coolness of others? Listen to those tracks and you will know the truth, those scientists at CERN (who actually created the internet- sorry Mr. Gore) just really craved some Canadian beats.

Geophysics! With enough money, and insanity, you can do it at home!

Posted July 8, 2008 by RidgewayWilliams
Categories: archaeology, geophysics

Tags: , ,

Geophysics is like most TV archaeology programmes, the majority of the work is behind the scenes and unglamorous but important if any work is to be done. So how does one go about conducting a geophysical survey on an archaeological site?

What you’ll need
At least three people – one person to use the machine and collect the data and two “line monkeys” (and eventually one person needs to be able to use the software to view the results)
Many measuring tapes- preferably fiberglass and 60M long
Bamboo “canes”
At least 2 clotheslines with one meter intervals marked off with colored tape
Ranging rods (large metallic rods with alternating colors)
A geophysics recording device- resistivity or magnetic device depending on what you are looking for (Geoscan and Bartington are the two largest producers)
Interpretation software- geoscan seems to have the most widely used software
The right conditions- preferably flat, well drained and non magnetic soil with no brambles or flesh craving insect to be found

How do you get started?
A major concept to get your head around is the idea of a “baseline”. No, I’m not talking about the mating call of middle-class guys that you can hear before you even see their Jeep TJ or their Honda Civic. A baseline is a centerline that acts as the backbone for your survey. If you are doing a larger scale “landscape survey” then you would have a very long baseline which would be in the center of your area of interest, say a Rome fort. You are using this line to divide the landscape into smaller grids of 20 x 20M or 10 x 10M.

From this centerline you measure, or subdivided the line into, 20M intervals (or 10M ) and the triangulate the other two points. Yes that’s right, you have to use math in archaeology. Kids, remember to learn trigonometry and geometry. You have the length of two known points, how do you learn the unknown point(s)? Help me Pythagorean theorem! If you are making 20 x 20M grids then here is a hint, you make a triangular with measure tapes with one tape measuring 20M and one measuring 28.28M. Then you switch the tape measurements, make another triangle and now you have your first grid!

Now use the bamboo canes to stake in a tape along the base line. Imagine you have made a giant square on the earth and one side is now measurable. Stake in a tape opposite to the measurable side of the box and now you would have the “line monkeys” use the tapes as guides and stake the clotheslines over the tape. Now the data collection/fun can begin.

Simplifying matters (for those who aren’t experienced geophysicists), the surveyor would carry the geophysical device and collect data when the machine was over the colored tape of the clothesline. When one line is complete, they would move over a meter, turn around and start the process anew. Meanwhile the “line monkeys” would perform the “ritual dance” of unstaking the clotheslines and moving them into the next position. The line monkeys have to move around the surveyor so that the data collection is not stopped or compromised, least they have to redo the data collection for that line. Once the grid is complete, the tapes on either side are moved to the next grid, much like the movement of two inchworms, and the process begins again.

I hope that you understand some of the basics of a geophysical survey. Now here are some complications that occur. When you are working on a slope the tape measurements become inaccurate and the wind can catch the tapes like a sail and rip them out of your hands. When doing a magnetic survey the ends of the tapes have metal in them and have to be kept at least 2Ms away from the machine. As if thats not bad enough many farm animals enjoy chewing on the fiberglass tapes and knocking over the canes. Don’t believe me? Check out this picture.

Not the bambo cane!

Not the bambo cane!