Mixtape Marathon

"In vacant or in pensive mood..." I am: Bekah; 24; Law Student / Favorite Things: Carbs (so there!), Johnny Damon, Smiling at babies, Grilled cheese, Comfortable silence / Favorite Supreme Court Justice: Brennan / Favorite Wilson: Owen by an inch / Today's Special: Song: Elliott Smith, "Bled White"; Quote: "You know, there's like a butt-load of gangs at this school. This one gang kept wanting me to join because I'm pretty good with a bowstaff." Please love me: mmbekah@yahoo.com

February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 September 2005
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
What the "hell" is "up" with "misuse" of "quotation marks"?

When did it become ok to put quotes around anything and everything for no apparent reason? In elementary school, I learned that we generally use quotation marks when recording a statement by another. This allows a writer to set off someone else's words from the rest of her piece of writing. Like if I wanted to report to everyone what Owen Wilson said when we met, I would organize it something like this: Sighing wistfully, Owen murmured, "I can't believe I've found the woman of my dreams already--right here in the poetry section of the neighborhood bookstore. Luke is going to be so jealous." As you can see, I used the quotes in that situation because that's what Owen actually said. There is also the equally acceptable ironic use of quotation marks. That would be something like: Freshman girls at this school wear clothes that don't fit them and drink a lot of "happy juice" on Thursday nights. See, "happy juice" is in quotes, because Freshman girls don't actually drink happy juice; they actually drink lots and lots of booze and then go do "laundry" with their "friends" at the frat house. Thus, the ironic use of quotes usually comes in handy when you're describing something metaphorically or with some other associational method.

The problem is that this ironic use of quotes is being severely abused. I think it's because people don't understand what irony actually is. When you have a takeout menu that says sandwiches "to go," you are misusing quotation marks. Quotation marks are not meant to place emphasis. That is what italics are for. I think part of the reason that misuse of quotation marks has reached epidemic proportions is the growing prevalence of air quotes. People just throw air quotes around without any thought. It's quote overload. Someone came to a party last year and said he brought three kinds of ice cream: vanilla, coffee, and "chocolate" (in air quotes). But you see my friends, the ice cream was in fact chocolate! Stop with the air quotes! They're "pissing" me the "hell" "off"!

I'm hoping that most establishments that use quotes on the menu are simply mistaken as to these grammatical fundamentals. Otherwise going to a Chinese restaurant that serves "mixed vegetables" will be much more disturbing than I'm prepared to deal with.

Saturday, June 19, 2004
Control Freak

Working in a small firm this summer (and by small I mean 4 lawyers, not 57; this is not New York) has taught me a few things about myself, and all of them boil down to one basic conclusion: I hate not being in control. In this post, I'm going to try to explain the feelings I've been having at work, but I should warn you now that the words may not come out right and I may come off slightly more obsessive/psychotic than I actually am. So bear with me.

It started out with little things. I don't like not having my very own desk, organized the way I like it, with my own clients and my own case files color-coded and numbered in my own way. I don't like having to use a system I'm not comfortable with or having to roam around the office like a nomad, using a hole-puncher here, a phone there, and a computer in the back. I don't like doing piecemeal work either: drafting a motion for one client here, making a trip to court for another client there. None of it lets me follow something through to its conclusion. I don't feel invested in any of it. I understand exactly what Karl Marx meant when he described people as feeling alienated because of their assembly-line jobs. The result of their work has nothing to do with them, and it makes them sad and distanced from their lives. It's the opposite of the farmer who gets to sit down to dinner and enjoy the fruits of his own labor.

But my biggest work gripe is something much simpler. In school, I've always been used to working at my own pace on my own time. I have always hated study groups of any kind. I never wanted to do peer reviews of essays; I simply didn't care what the other students thought of my work. The only time I liked working with others was in math class, because I could just ride on my friend J.D.'s coattails and pretend I knew what was going on. Now, when I need to study for exams, I make my own schedule and sit by myself, away from any scrutiny by the professor or other students, and I figure things out on my own. In the law firm, I have to figure things out right before the lawyers' eyes, and that's just not natural for me. I hate learning under pressure. I get intimidated and nervous, and common sense goes right out the window. And that lack of common sense carries over into other daily tasks at work. Once, a woman came by to pick up a huge ink cartridge for the copy machine, and I retrieved one of the firms return-address stamps for her instead. What? It looked cartridge-like to me...

So in analyzing all of these feelings over the past few weeks, I've finally decided that this basically means that I don't like to share. When I think about possibly practicing law, the only thing that appeals to me is a situation where I'm in constant control. Where I'm in charge of my very own clients, and I make all the organizational and legal decisions for myself. The scary part is, these conclusions are not based on any feeling of analytical or administrative prowess on my part. I think I could benefit from collaborative efforts. So maybe I just need to be in a situation where I feel completely invested in what I'm doing, and who I'm doing it with. Anyway, it's stuff to ponder. Is anyone else who's working in a firm for the first time experiencing any of this?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004
The Envelope, Please

Ok, this was an extremely tough decision, and I have to say that I tossed and turned, pondered and cogitated, mused and meditated, for close to seven whole minutes to finally make my selection. No, seriously, I thought hard about this, and I'm pleased with my choice. To all who entered the contest: thank you very much for your suggestions, most of them didn't suck. Oh, I kid, I kid!

And so, without further ado, I present to you the winner of the BIG FANCY EXCITING CONTEST. And the winner is...Steve, for his suggestion of "All Medicated Geniuses" by Pretty Girls Make Graves. Contrary to various indie-overload warnings, I think the choice adds a needed female voice to the mix, and, even more important, it fits very nicely in the spot suggested (between New Pornographers and Jayhawks). So CONGRATULATIONS Steve! Gimme your address and you'll get a copy...eventually.

More posts to come, I promise.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Non-Celebrity Playlist

Alright, I've finally compiled a new mix that I'm pleased with. Yes, it is predictable in some ways, and no, it is not by any means completely representative of my musical tastes. It is not a "best of" or a comprehensive list of favorites. But it's what sounds perfect to me at this particular moment, and that's good enough for me. Hope you enjoy. Be gentle.

The Walkmen: Wake Up
The Postal Service: The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
Guided by Voices: Drinker’s Peace
The Shins: Saint Simon
Built to Spill: The Weather
Jackson Browne: The Pretender
The New Pornographers: Ballad of a Comeback Kid
The Jayhawks: All the Right Reasons
REO Speedwagon: Keep on Loving You
Elliott: Calvary Song
The Pixies: Here Comes Your Man
The Stills: Lola Stars and Stripes
Wilco: Kamera
Mae: Embers and Envelopes
David Bowie: Rebel, Rebel
The Wrens: Hopeless
Belle & Sebastian: Stay Loose (It’s a record we’ve been listening to and enjoying, Barry.)
Beulah: Wipe Those Prints and Run
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: We Came Along This Road

You'll notice that there are only 19 songs. Most cds can hold 20 or 21. This leads me to make the following proposition: I am, today, starting right now, going to hold a BIG FANCY EXCITING CONTEST open to all readers of the Marathon, new and old. Here's the deal. I am opening the phone lines (and by phone lines, I mean my yahoo email box or comments function) to all suggestions for the last song to be added to my mix. You must tell me the following pieces of information: 1) The song's title, 2) The artist, 3) The album/albums on which it appears, 4) Where on my mix it should be placed (Note: do not say first, second, or last; you will lose. Those places were very meticulously filled by me, and it would hurt my feelings), and 5) Any other information that may be pertinent/entertaining. The winner of the BIG FANCY EXCITING CONTEST will receive (drumroll please) a brand new copy of this very mix, mailed to them by me. When I told J my idea, he said, "What if they don't want a copy of your cd?" The answer to that, my friends is this: If you don't want a copy of my cd, don't enter my stupid contest!

Good luck and godspeed. And if any little comedian suggests Hey-Yah, I will not be amused.

Game Two Blues

Me: I hate Kobe Bryant. Even if he is great and wonderful and everything. Big deal. No one should be playing that well if he's on trial for rape. He's pure evil.
Dad: Don't playuh hate.
Me: Ha!

Monday, June 07, 2004
The Day The Music Died

Today is a black day. Nothing will ever be the same for me again.

My Dad, after kindly informing me that I was "starting to piss him off" by not blogging enough lately, told me that I should check out the iTunes celebrity playlists and comment on them. I thought, "Hmm, those could be fun to look at. I'll give it a shot." Instead, looking at those playlists was the worst thing I could have done. (Or maybe the best, in that right now I'm about to spew forth a serious rant for your reading pleasure/pain).

Celebrities in all of their various incarnations are like gods, whether we want to admit it or not. They are either seemingly flawless, or glorious and fascinating because of their flaws. For me, musicians that I like can very rarely do wrong. Yes, there are some albums I like more than others, but if I like an artist, I'm invested in him and generally approve of all of his work on some level. (This infuriates my sister, among others, but I can't change who I am: an unconditional lover). In addition to this general acceptance of all of my musicians' original works or attempts at greatness, I used to have a sort of naive appreciation of their respective musical tastes. I had this vision of Michael Stipe sitting around listening to Neutral Milk Hotel, or Weezer bopping around to the Wrens. Because I loved them, I just knew that they loved the music I loved.

I am now painfully aware of how mistaken I was. The playlists weren't just disappointing or bland or predictable; they were actually depressing. I'm trying to pinpoint my exact emotional response, and the best I can come up with is that I feel equally horrified and betrayed. My horror comes from artists who I didn't really care about anyway, and whose musical taste doesn't actually surprise me, but annoys me anyway. For example, Avril Lavigne puts "Rape Me" by Nirvana out there (such a rebel), but tops it off with Hey-Ya and Wonderwall. Chunks...rising...

Here are a few examples of my betrayal:

1. Susanne Vega. She has a John Mayer song first on this list. Dear god, that is so depressing to me. God. I can never listen to Solitude Standing in the same way again.

2. Michael Stipe. Um, I don't really know what to say here. I know he's friends with Cameron Diaz, so that might excuse the Justin Timberlake song (and I can excuse that anyway; I've been known to throw a little Justin into my mixes from time to time). But to choose "Beautiful Day" if you really have to pick a U2 song? And "Thank U" by Alanis? If you ask me, no song that Michael Stipe chooses should have teenagers' internet abbreviations in the title. (Although didn't Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" have the same thing? Then I can let that part slide, I guess...that's a good song). Michael's also got DMX "Who We Be" which is just blatantly trying too hard, and t.A.T.u's "All The Things She Said" which is just inexplicable...and Mary J. Blige...I just don't know.

3. Liz Phair and John Cusack (who have a list together, how nausiatingly pretentious--Liz opines in her "notes" on the list about she and John sitting around shooting the shit). To be fair, Liz Phair's betrayal occurred long before this (read: the "Extraordinary" load of crap that was her latest album. Hey! I guess that's an example of a time when I actually did hate an album by an artist I used to love. Even I can't deal with selling out when it's done in such a terribly predictable and embarrassing way...) Anyway, Liz and John's collaborative mix is just unimpressive. It's 18 songs long, and filled with doubles (two songs by the same artist in a row). Basically, John is reliving the High Fidelity soundtrack with a few unremarkable changes. What, you can't think of 18 separate artists who might actually allow you to achieve the goal of a MIX tape, in that you are supposed to have some sort of variety? Geez.

So, that's that. I can't bring myself to write any more, or to look at any more celebrity playlists. Stay tuned either today or tomorrow for a mix from ME filled with music that I think I would like. I've been wanting to make a new mix for a long time, and now is the perfect opportunity. I'll get on that...

Note: If anyone after reading this post just wants to say, "Screw you, Bekah, let people like what they like and stop trying to be an irritating music snob when you really don't know anything about anything, not to mention the fact that you couldn't even play 'Free Fallin' on the guitar to save your life you miserable talentless wretch" that's fine. You're probably right. But I can't help the way I feel.

Small Update: The playlist by Ryan Miller of Guster is actually really good...for the most part. It's also like 40 songs long. Let's keep things realistic people...