Archive for the ‘rant’ category

Rap killed the spoken word star

September 8, 2008

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
Ow…
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

Advertisements

Bibliography referencing software- please bear my children

August 8, 2008

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.

10,000 things wrong with 10,000 BC

March 26, 2008

*Warning this post contains movie spoilers*
I love movies. I love watching them and I love critiquing them. From an archaeological/historical standpoint 10,000 BC is just asking for it. It is a horrible inaccurate movie. Suppressing my inner archaeologist, the movie still sucks. My personal scale of movie watching ranges from ‘sell your friend’s, non vital, organs to see this movie’ [see ‘Iron Man’ trailer] to ‘ignore this movies existences, perhaps employ damnatio memoria (removing all traces of a person or event- I believe the Egyptians first used it, but I only remember the Roman equivalent) [DON’T see ‘One Million Years BC’]. 10,000BC falls towards the later perhaps in the ‘download illegally’ category, I don’t advocacy video piracy but this movie is so bad and has already made enough money to warrant not giving them anymore.

A favorite website of mine is the International Movie Database (www.imdb.com) and they were oh so nice enough to compile a list of historical goofs. Here is just a few.

1) Where the hell is this sole white tribe from? They are near the snowy ‘mountains’; a week’s walk away a rain forest and a short trek to the desert surrounding Egypt. What is this the land of mother natures menopause? The only mountains I know that are South of Egypt are in ancient ‘Nubia’, and we all know they are know for their abundance of white people. Seriously, why is there one group of honkies surrounded by all black tribes? What are they the ancestors of the ‘White trash clan’? I don’t think they would be sexually racist considering the size of their clan. I have never seen a comparably large pile of mammoth crap until I saw paintings of Aryan Jesus, it looked like he stepped off the cross and into Hitler’s mental image of a super race. Jesus was not white! He was a dark skinned! Get used to it!

2) Where did THIS come from? Here white travelers, enjoy some hot peppers and corn, oh and watch out for those ‘terror birds’. It is a real shame that all of these things were originally from Central/South America. Peppers and corn didn’t make their way to the ‘old world’ until the 16th Century. Is the lone white tribe secretly time traveling Portuguese/Spanish traders who suffer from amnesia?

3) What the TIME is it? The technical term is ‘anachronism’ which is something from a different period time placed in a historical setting. Classic movie reference/anachronism- the digital watch on the wrist of an extra in Ben-Hur. There are at least six of these ‘chrono-boo boos’ (including the chili peppers and corns).

Bad guy- “I have an idea. Lets get take slaves using our horses. Transport our slaves, in metal shackles, via sailboats up the Nile to our evil den. Why do this? So they can help out the mammoths who are building the pyramids.”

    Wow, where to begin. Lets just say apart from slavery, sadly, existing and people having stupid ideas none of that is historically accurate. The innovation of metal work, sailing and animal domestication coupled with the building of the pyramids all happened at a much later date. How far are off is the movie (all dates rounded)?  Metal working- 5,500BC, sailing- 4,000 BC, animal domestication- horses 6,000 and mammoths NEVER and building of the pyramids 2,630 BC. It also needs to be said that there is no archaeological evidence for slaves being employed to build the pyramids. Thats right, the book of Exodus is full of it. (Mark Lehner 2003- http://harvardmagazine.com/2003/07/who-built-the-pyramids.html )

Sexism, as well as historical ignorance, rears its ugly head too. While mammoths were never domesticated as pack animals and are now extinct, we can compare them to their closest surviving ancestor the elephant. Sometime during the movie one of the characters states “that one is the lead bull”. Ops, turns out elephants, and by association mammoths, are matriarchal, that’s right, big momma is in charge of the herd. Your sexism makes fictitious ‘Aryan-Jesus’ cry!

This rant could go on and on but anger clouds the mind and makes people stupid. If I keep ranting, I might actually become so dumb that just before my brain shuts down I will reverse my opinion about this movie. Instead, I will talk about why I hate movies like this.

Why does this movie invoke hatred in my soul?  It is part jealousy and part being witness to the corruption of everything I know to be true. I say jealousy because Hollywood can shape, and potentially educate, the public in a way archaeologists never will. As if being confused with a paleontologist on a daily basis wasn’t enough, now, I will have people asking me about the domesticated mammoth. As for the corruption, I will never look at the Sphinx, or domesticated crops the same way. In the movie the Sphinx is actually a saber-toothed tiger and the hero is given a bag of seeds (with corn kernels) to take back to ‘white mountain’ with the directions ‘plant these, they will feed your [honky, likely inbred] clan’. I have tried my hand at growing crops and its not easy, apart from making farmers look like lazy bastards, the film makes the social transition from hunter-gather to agricultural look like it happened over night. Well it didn’t; it took at least 500 years and the change was not a totally beneficial.

Perhaps what angers me the most is that I love movies and its crap films like this that push me away from that which I love.

For more information of the inaccuracies of the film, go to; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443649/goofs .

To live and bike in Glasgow

February 21, 2008

To be cyclist in Glasgow you have to be partially insane. That being said, I’m certifiably nuts because I love biking in Scotland. I have always loved biking and I always will. Yet to own and continually use a bike in Scotland makes you a rare breed indeed. Last week hosted an incredible stretch of great weather. I mean like ‘Am I still in Glasgow?’ great. During this week, it seems that bikes had multiplied like rabbits and we regular users were forced to lock our bikes up in very un-regular places. Pushed away from bike racks and bike sheds, our metal steeds were hitched to trees, fences and even benches. Yet environmental selection would rear its ugly head and today, in the pissing rain, there were approximately 4 bikes at my regular spot and if my bike could talk I’m sure it would know them all by name.

Now to bike in Scotland I suggest the following things.
1.    A helmet-this device turns someone opening a car door in your path into a joke about winning the ‘door prize’, and hey you may meet your soul mate while they are picking glass out of your face.
2.    Lights-atleast two one if the front and
3.    Two jackets-one should be light and water resistant (I roll with gortex) and one should be waterproof. Yes there is a BIG difference.
4.    A balaclava or ski mask-buy one from an outdoors store, they keep the wind and rain out of your face. It also keeps you cycling in the winter. Be sure to take this off when going into a bank though, you don’t want to be known as the first eco-friendly bank robber.
5.    Gloves-a set of biking gloves, that cover all of your hand. are worth their weight in gold when you hands are freezing cold and you have to stop quickly, say, to avoid someone opening their car door in your face. Many also have padding and added grip, which really help when it is raining, which is almost always around here.
6.    Water proof trousers (pants = underwear, lead to some funny misunderstandings)- saved me from getting hypothermia numerous times. I suggest light trousers, a Velcro strap around the bottom allows you to tighten them so your gears don’t eat them which is likely to cause accidents.
7.    Mudguards- you NEED these to reduce your jacket-washing from daily to monthly. Also if you don’t get the front mudguard you learn how to identify city streets by taste.

There are many additional items which are nice to have but not necessary for your biking experience. A set of clear sports goggles keeps the wind out of your eyes, which allows you to stop squinting (likely my next purchase). A backpack with the water-bladder feature keeps you hydrated and feeling like you should be in an advert.

So, what makes us cyclist crazy apart from weathering the weather? How about continually using nutty road system (ops, I’m now flying down a one way street, which may or may not lead to the afterlife). Maybe it is continually being sandwiched between pedestrians (who love to hand talk and cut out in front of you like a mentally handicapped deer) and drivers who consider you an annoyance and no more than a speed bump.
God I can’t wait to go out for a bike tomorrow!

How did they manage an empire?

January 22, 2008

Through out my blog I have been generally very happy about my travels in the UK. I must note that through out my adventures there have been moments, which I hold my head in my hands and wonder, “how on earth did the Brits gain and then successfully control an empire?” (yes, I am lumping the Scots with the Brits in for simplicity’s sake). Here are a few examples.

While watching the Junior Hockey championship go into overtime at a university run pub the channel was changed. This is fine considering most Brits don’t know hockey and the probably assumed the game was over. However once we convinced the bartender the game was going to continue he decided to help us change the channel back…by picking up the phone. This is no lie, in order to change the channel back the bartender had to call downstairs to the other bartender who had control over the remote control. To complicate matters it seemed the bartender downstairs was dyslexic so by the time the right channel was rediscovered the game had ended and we were informed through a telephone call from Canada that team Canada had in fact won.

Heres a couple more examples. Imagine arriving at a bus station with a reservation slip in your hands and then finding out that piece of paper does not actually mean anything accept that you pissed away some money and have to find another way home. Imagine taking mandatory courses that claim to promote ‘fundamental academic skills’ which are only offered in the second term. Imagine trying to recycle (HA!) and finding out that in order to recycle glass you have to walk another block and put it into a separate bin. Another bin is however positioned right beside you , its called the rubbish bin (garbage dumpster).

Imagine receiving numerous threatening letters, straight out of ‘1984’, from the TV licensing bureau, which swears up and down that you have a TV and that they are going to get you. Now imagine calling the telephone number they provided which states ‘report that there has been a mistake (and you have no TV)’ only to find that there is no option in their elaborate phone system to actually allow you to report that you don’t have a TV. I am still under investigation apparently, and don’t have a damn TV.

Now I have no answer as to how they achieved so much with such a frustrating system and judging by the abundance of frustration humour in Monty Python I assume it is not simply because I am an outsider. I did have one hint, unexpected and random violence which occurs under the guise of a seemingly reserved civilization. This occurred on Friday when I was walking with a friend of mine from a place of business which serves alcohol quite late. We were walking towards home when, ahead of us, we heard a loud mob of drunken males from the street we had to turn down. We waited until we thought they had passed only to turn down the street to find another mob of drunken -and seemingly angry- Scots. We were now  out numbered, surrounded, and my friend was on crutches. They sneered at us and asked ‘wh-air yah fromeh?’ ‘Canada’ we sheepishly replied, this changed the facial expressions of many in the mob from ‘I want to see you bleed’ to ‘Oh! I got a cousin who lives there’. “Whatc’ah doin-out hure?” another asked. My friend piped up “Where’s the nearest chippy (chip shop)? Milliseconds later a cheerful chorus of directions and pointing gave us a socially acceptable escape. With a block between the mob and us, my friend stated, “dude, we almost died”. “Yah, thank god for Canada and Chippies,” I stated. No sooner had the words escaped my mouth but a traffic pylon nosily landed 25 meters away from us, the mob had struck again. Please note that this is not exclusive to Glasgow or Scotland, hell its probably not exclusive to the UK but I’ve heard more tales out of the UK that involves people getting beat up for no reason than anywhere else in the world. I hear the fear of violence is also an effective method of controlling the masses. I’m just saying…there was likely a historic link there somewhere.

On an up note, I went to Edinburgh last weekend. It had beautiful sites, awesome people and parties and more importantly it had a violence free setting! I’ll talk about that tomorrow though.

Culture shock and awe!

September 18, 2007

Everyone I talked to before I left warned me about culture shock and indeed I have felt it. First, it is easy to detect like when you look the wrong way for traffic; however, you do learn the local curses this way from the angered drivers. The regional dialect comes into play when words like hello yes and little become hi-yah aye and wee. The weather also doesn’t help however because of my six years in the Maritimes I barely notice how fickle Mother Nature seems to be. Currency sizes vary from nation to nation and soon you find yourself fumbling over change in a store or chippy (chip shop) with the grace of a teen aged boy attempting to undo a bra mid make-out session.
I am in awe over the beauty of Glasgow. Many times I find myself stunned by the stonework in the downtown that surrounds the everyday institutions we frequent. I also continue to disbelieve that such a beautiful campus would be functioning little alone allow ME to attend University of Glasgow tower. The subway is also incredibly efficient with a train arriving every 8-6 minutes with the later for busy stops. It that kind of efficiency that kept the British Empire going, if only some of their banks would follow suit.

Looters- big booms badges and burials

August 20, 2007

The archaeologist in me has to go on a rant here for a minute. Please stop looting! Now there is a clear difference between human curiosity and looting. Looting is actively seeking and take all the artifacts or ‘goodies’ from an archaeological site or sites. Looting includes but is not limited to metal detecting, field walking or actually digging sites. Looters usual take the goodies for their own personal collection.
Looting is bad for numerous reasons. A selfish reason is that it can make my job very boring. Looting also removes any historical implications that a trained archaeologist can conclude. For example if you give me a cannon ball and ask me about it, I can’t really tell you anything about it apart from which nationality possible fired it based on measurements. However if my crew or myself finds a cannon ball ‘in situ’ (meaning left as it was with out being moved modified etc) we can tell which direction it was fired from, what type of cannon fired it, battles it will likely associated with, and in a perfect world which unit fired it and with the right historical records the names of the men or women in that unit, and an approximate time it was fired.
Another important reason to leave artifacts where they are is that they can tell us where important sites are so they can be documented or at least saved from destruction. With native or ‘Indian’ artifacts these could indicate sacred land that may host burials. Christians mostly believe that a dead body is simply an empty shell as the soul is gone; however native groups (such as the Huron and Iroquois) believe that the soul stays with the body (they actually believe humans have two souls, one which leaves for a heaven type area, one which stays with the body). Natives then feel that if you disturb the body you disturb the soul and its afterlife. Now it is hard to overcome a religious difference but here is a little analogy to show the anger a native person would likely feel if a native body was disturbed.
On Internet auction sites, EBay etc, you can bid on and buy military badges and buttons. While the majority of these badges are likely heirlooms there are cases of grave robbers digging up dead soldiers simply to sell their military equipment for personal financial profit. Now no matter what nationality you are it is understood that soldiers who have fallen in battle paid the ultimate price and they are deserving of respect. This kind of disrespectful treatment for those who have laid their life on the line can make you angry. Take that anger and now imagine by digging up the body you jeopardized their chance of getting into heaven or paradise, that’s probably close to the anger the natives feel.
Now to pick up something and wonder about it is natural. However if you do find something you should leave it where it is and notify archaeologists through local museums. You can also note where you found the object and what it looks like. It is really the respect and willingness to share with others that separates an amateur archaeologist from a looter; the rest simply comes with training and experience. Artifacts can tell us about a different culture or about ourselves and I personally feel they should be shared and in the words of one Junior Indiana Jones, clearly the most famous archaeologist, “They belong in a museum!”