Sunday, August 11, 2013

WTF, Fall Out Boy?!?*

*I cannot take credit for that quote.  C.E. said it, summing up our feelings.

Fall Out Boy had a new single playing on the radio, and I was puzzled over the lyrics.  When C.E. was in the car, I subjected her to my rambling thoughts on the subject (I was driving; she had no choice but to listen or jump from a moving vehicle).  She's younger than I am, so I thought maybe her hip and cool knowledge would have up-to-the-minute information that I wasn't privy to.

"Have you heard that new Fall Out Boy song?  Is it about child abuse and molestation??" I asked.  The lyrics said (I thought), "My sons know what you did in the dark."

I had visions of the members of Fall Out Boy writing about some horrible childhood tragedy or abuse they had suffered, and the protagonist of the song telling their own children about this monster so the pattern of abuse wouldn't be repeated.  "Everyone knows what you did, creepy Uncle Bob.  Even these children are (rightly) judging you."  Then the chorus says, "So light 'em up," and I had further visions of turning on blazing metaphorical floodlights, lighting up the past -- no more secrets in the dark.

So C.E. whipped out her smart phone and looked up "Fall Out Boy lyrics."  SPOILER ALERT:  the song is not about child molestation.

The lyrics say (and the title of the song is):  "My songs know what you did in the dark."

Uhh, what?

"Is this song about rape??"  C.E. kept reading lyrics aloud:
"I'm just dreaming of tearing you apart
I'm in the details with the devil
So now the world can never get me on my level
I just gotta get you off the cage
I'm a young lover's rage
Gonna need a spark to ignite"

Cue C.E.:  "What the fuck, Fall Out Boy??"

WTF, indeed.  C.E. commented that she expected a full rhetorical analysis of these fucked up lyrics on her desk within a week.  But I'm not analyzing these lyrics, other than to say it is possible to have too many metaphors.  Metaphors need to work together, people, so your piece has some sort of coherent (but not necessarily obvious) meaning.  We are not making spaghetti here; you cannot just throw every piece of imagery you have at the wall ("because it sounds cool") and hope it all sticks -- tada! A song is born.
Not quite.

But no.  This piece is about the lost art of diction:
"the accent, inflection, intonation, and speech-sound quality manifested by an individual speaker, usually judged in terms of prevailing standards of acceptability; enunciation."
The words "song" and "son" should not sound the same.  They are even spelled differently in the IPA:  \ˈsŋ\ and  \ˈsən\

 Lack of diction in songs force my brain to try to figure out WTF they are singing, giving some strange interpretations to the lyrics, as outlined above -- usually giving the song's artist much more credit than they deserve.

Here are some other top contenders, in handy chart form:

What I Hear
What They Said
“Locked Out of Heaven”
Bruno Mars
“Your sex texts me to paradise”
“Your sex takes me to paradise”
Sexting to paradise is much less romantic, that’s for sure.
“Just Can’t Get Enough”
Black-Eyed Peas
“Can’t get enough / Wanna germ inside your love”
“Can’t get enough / Wanna jump inside your love”
Eww.  I don’t even want to know what “germ inside your love” would entail.
Anna Kendrick
“You’re gonna miss me by taco.”
“You’re gonna miss me by my talk – oh”
This is a good reason to switch these lyrics around to “You’re going to miss me by my talk / you’re going to miss by my walk – oh” when singing the song at karaoke.

Enunciation, good people!  It's not just for breakfast anymore.  Now go practice your tongue twisters and vocal warm-ups!  Don't come back here until I can hear every "K" sound in the following:
"You know New York
You need New York
You know you need unique New York."

Friday, August 9, 2013

DCtP: The Honeymoon Is Over

Well, my initial enthusiasm for Death Comes to Pemberley is over.  It may have even been, dare I say it, preemptive.

I finished the novel, and I'm left feeling...what?  Unsatisfied?  Misled?  James' "Prologue" is, indeed, rather brilliant, and for me, it may be the highlight of the book.  The rest of the novel proper doesn't contain that same Austen-esque wit and style.  While P.D. James is obviously quite familiar with the social conventions of Austen's time, the style of the book just isn't as lively (as either Austen or James' own prologue).  In fact, the opening chapters seem to have a Bronte influence*, a touch of the Gothic, "on a dark and stormy night" filled with foreboding until the actual murder is announced.

Now my misgivings with the book may be due entirely to genre; James is writing a murder mystery, not a drawing room comedy.  Her style might be entirely suited to the murder mystery genre.  I wouldn't know; I'm not a murder mystery afficianado and haven't been since I was obsessed with Lilian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who books in junior high.  It all felt much too fast-paced, but again, mystery book, not regency romance.  The resolution of James' plot is (un)suitably complicated and convoluted.  Is this typical for mystery?  It felt more like the wrapping up of loose ends in a farce than a period mystery.

More than that, though, is the fact that James' relationship with these characters seems too close and almost too comfortable and casual.  We are privy to their thoughts and feelings in a way we never are in Austen's world (especially Darcy).  There is no slightly distant ironic narrator.  I didn't care for that kind of relationship with the characters.

In short, the "Prologue" was the best part of the book for me.

(Snoopy courtesy of

*Don't  misunderstand me.  A touch of the Bronte is not considered a bad thing around here (pointing to Leonard's collection of Jane Eyre editions).  I just wasn't expecting it in this book.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Bechdel Test #1: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Two words:  Epic Failure.

I'm not exactly sure why I put this adorable, gorgeous film on the list as having passed the Bechdel Test.  It was still wrapped in cellophane, meaning I hadn't watched it (my copy) since I rented it from Netflix who knows how many years ago.  I think perhaps my logic was "Miss Pettigrew and Amy Adams must talk about her schedule, etc."  And they do, kind of.

Sadly, 90% of the movie is Miss Pettigrew and Amy Adams and Moaning Myrtle discussing the men in their lives and which man would be a better fit to get them what they want.  In other words:  a complete and abject failure of the Bechdel Test.

As I said, the film itself is beautiful, full of early 1940s glamor and fashion.  The comedy is right on as well -- wonderful timing of the farce variety with some physicality that reminds me of Blake Edwards' direction of Victor Victoria.  Amy Adams is adorable (as usual), and Frances McDormand quietly steals the film and fills you with warm fuzzies.  If you watch Game of Thrones, you might recognize Ciarán Hinds, although he looks a bit different in this piece.  The film is, of course, based on the 1938 novel of the same title by Winnifred Watson (what a great name!) that I now have to read.

Abject failure aside, here are some pretty pictures:

Amy Adams stop being adorable! 
(Photo courtesy of I couldn't make up that website name if I tried.)

Even in distress she is still adorable and glamorous.
(Photo courtesy of

Look at that flat!
(Photo courtesy of -- who is coming up with these names??)

And, of course, Frances McDormand.
Looks rather frumpy, doesn't she?  She does get a makeover during the film, but that's not important.  What's important and what this picture (courtesy of The Guardian) doesn't show is her impeccable timing, comedy, and brilliant facial expressions.  Do yourself a favor and watch this film to see how farce is done (without mugging).

On to the next Bechdel test candidate:  Beetlejuice.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

No Thanks to Hello Flo

In case you didn't notice, this little tampon ad called "Camp Gyno" has been taking the world of viral videos by storm:

And it's be receiving a lot (undue) praise, in my opinion.  I find the ad (and the company it's advertising) disconcerting for several reasons.  Let's break 'em down bullet-point fashion, shall we?
  • Camp Gyno:  It's a funny name, and you know I like the funny.  And if there was some summer camp called "Camp Gyno," I think it'd be hilarious.  But in the context of this video, the tween girl sets herself up as "the camp gyno," as in, "the camp gynecologist."  I find that wrong for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it is a licensed gynecologist's job to put his/her hand up my vagina, and I'm not comfortable with the idea of tweens doing that to each other.  "Camp counselor"?  Great.  "The Period Girl"? Fantastic.  "Vagina Drill Sergeant"?  Sure!  (Maybe.)  "Camp Gyno"?? No thank you.
  • Vag:  That same little tween girl says "vag."  That made me incredibly uncomfortable.  Her saying "vagina"?  No problem.  By all means, please call your parts by their names (I do).  But slang like "vag" coming out of a child's mouth struck me as unnecessarily vulgar.  They may as well had her say "snatch" or "cunt."  Also, from a comedic point of view, having her say "vag" early on takes away from the shock and funny when she says "the whole camp started getting friggin' care packages in the mail!"
  • Mixed Messages:  this is the important one.  It might take actual paragraphs rather than a rambling bullet-point.  So far, all the reactions I've seen to the ad have been along the lines of "OMG, isn't this so funny?"  and "Yay, a commercial that actually talks about our periods in plain language!"
    • ONE:  this is only online and not a breakthrough commercial on network television, and
    • TWO:  it's actually sending us right back to where we were:  full of shame and secrecy about our periods.
On the Hello Flo website, the author says:  "One day, after yet another lunch time run to the drugstore for an emergency box of tampons I decided there had to be a better way to manage my period. I didn't want to trek through my office with a practically see-through plastic bag with tampons." 

So the woman who is supposedly taking this revolutionary approach is just as embarrassed about her monthly flow as the rest of the industry has made us out to be.  I don't know what drug store she goes to, but none of the bags I've had from Walgreen's or the grocery store are all that "see-through."  Someone would really have to be squinting and looking hard to see my Playtex boxes through there.

Also, WHO CARES???  I'm adult; I have normal adult biological processes.  I gave up years ago trying to "discreetly" carry my purse or backpack into a restroom stall.  I take what I need out of my bag and put it in a pocket or my hand and go to the restroom like a normal human being, not like a crazed CIA monkey furtively trying to carry the last bit of fruit back to my nest before anyone can see me.

Hello Flo promises to deliver what you need for your monthly period "with care and appreciation for the sensitivity of this purchase," but I think it's possible to be "too sensitive."  Their FAQ even asks "Is the box discreet?" to which they answer, "Absolutely. Feel free to get it sent to your office," again reinforcing the stigma that periods are something secretive and possibly shameful, despite all the brave talk in their online commercial.

Last but not least (and I've run out of bullet-points), time management:  Hello Flo is basically offering to track your period for you because apparently we're too stupid to do it ourselves.
"There are plenty of reminder apps and a bunch of ways to have boxes of "fem care" products shipped each month. But neither really solves all the problems involved. Wouldn't it be great, I thought, if I had a reminder service that also delivered the right products at the right time? Why hadn't anyone created a customized solution like this for women." ("About,"
Rather, we're not too stupid.  We apparently can't figure out how to track our periods AND buy products at the same timeOr we're just lazy.  I find the insinuation a bit offensive and laughable at the same time.  It's not that hard to track your own period; you just have to be able to count up to thirty.  If I can do that, you certainly can (as everyone knows, Leonard doesn't do the maths).  I don't even use a fancy iPhone app.  I have a calendar and a pen.  Ta-da!  And those of you who take birth control pills?  IT'S ALREADY IN THE PACKAGE.

And one more thing!  This is the last one, really.  I promise.  Hello Flo offers to ship (in their "discreet" box) tampons, panty liners, and candy -- reinforcing yet another stereotype: that women need chocolate (or sweets) during "that time of the month."  I already discussed that I rarely eat chocolate, but this seems like just another way Hello Flo is trying to categorize us all into their neat (and "discreet") boxes.  Women are all different, Hello Flo, and you're just perpetuating over a century's worth of stereotypes, despite your fancy new packaging.

To sum up:  Hello Flo seems revolutionary, but really isn't, and Leonard doesn't like small children using the word "vag."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Ewoks!

That's right!  Today we're celebrating Ewoks.  I have fond memories of Ewoks as Return of the Jedi was the only Star Wars movie I saw originally in the theater.  And the first person who says that Ewoks are just as bad as Jar-Jar Binks gets a swift kick in the shin.

There were a handful of named Ewoks in the film, with Warwick Davis playing the most famous, Wicket.  From there, of course, spawned all kinds of merchandise.  When attempting to research this blog post, I made several horrific fascinating discoveries:
  1. There is an entire Star Wars wiki.  That in and of itself is not the important point; the fact that they insist on calling it "The Wookieepedia" is.
  2. There was a cartoon called Star Wars:  Ewoks, which I don't remember at all.  It ran for only two seasons (1985-86).  This leads to the third horrifying point:
  3. The Ewok I was searching for in particular has her own bio (courtesy of The Wookieepedia, of course), back story, and even some quotes on the page!
Damn.  All of that information is new to me.  I was just searching for cute Ewok  pictures!  Well, that's not true.  I was searching for specific product information on the Ewok that I used to own:
(Photo courtesy of

Isn't she adorable?  Her name is Kneesaa, and apparently she's not in Return of the Jedi at all!  At least, not according to the cast list on Nope, according to Wikipedia (source of all knowledge) she's a product of the aforementioned two-season cartoon.  Not only that, but she has a very tragic back story.  While she is a princess, royalty comes at a price:
"Her mother was killed by a Hanadak while protecting Kneesaa and her lost sister Asha, who was dragged downstream while trying to escape" (Wikipedia contributors).
What the hell??  I thought this was a children's cartoon?!

One year for Christmas I received Post-Traumatic Stress Care Bear Princess Kneesaa while my brother got the Wicket plush.

 Here is wee Leonard receiving the traditional Ewok gift:
  Later, we went to therapy together.

These days, Princess Kneesaa, even "loose" (that means "without packaging," you perverts!), runs upward of $45.  Just glancing on Google showed some even as high as $85.  I wonder where my Kneesaa is?  Oh yeah, she's was probably thrown out when my step-mother got rid of all of my things because she's a hateful bitch.  My step-mother, not Kneesaa.  I would never say such things about an Ewok!

You now have your choice of two videos.  You can either watch "Yub Nub," the Ewok celebration at the end of Star Wars:  Episode VI -- Return of the Jedi (UNremastered, thankyouverymuch!):

Or the incredibly repetitive opening theme song to the Ewoks cartoon:

Pick your poison.