August 23, 2010

Pink: the softest and girliest of colors. You think, cotton candy, tulips, lip gloss, Molly Ringwald and her homemade prom dress, the Pink Ladies in Grease, what have you.

Eye: the most integral of body parts. Gives you the power of sight, beholds beauty, you meet someone else’s to signify a whole variety of meanings.

Pink. Eye. Two beautiful words. Yet, you add them up together, and you’re left with the crustiest, nastiest, yet sissiest of infections. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my right eye and I have come down (way, way down) with a case of pinkeye.

Never had it? Consider yourself lucky. It sucks. Of course, it beats having something life-threatening and all that, but the superficiality of pinkeye is what leaves you feeling so… silly, really.

I woke up this morning and my right eyeball felt like just like a cooked marshmallow (i.e. gooey, sticky, with a crispy crust on the outside). I knew something was up, and one look in the mirror told me that it wasn’t going to be a good day.

I went straight to the eye doctor, and he asked me why I was there, and I told him what was going on, saying, “I think I have pinkeye.” His response as he checked on my eyeball with his big eye-checking machine? “Yeah, you’re probably right.” Probably??? Aren’t YOU the one with the big old medical degree? Couldn’t you at least make sure before you just take my word for it? Apparently not. He just took a quick look, prescribed me some eyedrops, told me not to wear contacts for a while, and took my money, in that order. Ugh.

Fortunately, life giveth as it taketh, and today wasn’t all bad. I received an e-mail informing me that one of my short stories has been accepted into the Seoul Writers Anthology book that’s going to come out in October. Basically, it’s this collection of stories and poems published by the Seoul Writers, the writing collective which holds the workshops that I attend every other Sundays. Any English-speaking person residing in Korea was eligible to send submissions, and from about 70 total works submitted, 20 were chosen to be included, and one of them is going to be yours truly. I can’t lie; it felt (and feels) very cool to get the news. It’s going to be my first time being published in a non-school-related collection, and it’s just nice to know that someone’s read your work and didn’t think it was completely crappy (Yes!).

My story’s called “What Do You Want To Eat?” and it was actually inspired from the time my aunt and I spent at the hospital when she had her big cancer scare (all is still good on that front, thank God). The story’s actually pretty sad, but I’m proud of it. I don’t think I’m all that great of a short story writer (I prefer working on the novel, where you have the time and space to meander while you’re digging deep), but I felt quite emotional while I was writing it, and I think it comes across. Anyhow, it was nice to receive the encouraging news, especially as I’m in a bit of a rut with my novel-to-be. I’m kind of stuck, and I think I need to take a step back and review (and likely re-work) much of what I have to make sure I’m staying on the right path.

Okay, I leave you now with several of my current musical obsessions:

(Top 101) #36. I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston

August 23, 2010

Kids, listen carefully. Don’t. Do. Drugs. Seriously. Watch the above video and tell me Aunt Whitney doesn’t have the greatest voice ever in the history of pop music. Then check out this recent performance.

Oh, it’s sad, so sad in fact that it kind of makes you want to do some drugs to feel better. Oh, such is the irony that life is full of so much of the time…

36. I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston

(Top 101) #37. Rearviewmirror – Pearl Jam

August 23, 2010

If you’ve been following this Countdown from its inception, you may have noticed that rock, especially hard rock, isn’t quite as well-represented as, say for example, 80’s ballads. It’s true; hard rock just isn’t my favorite genre of music. Some of it just hurts my ears, and the worst offenders (cough, Creed, cough, Nickleback) manage to be both unbearably noisy and whiny at the same time, which just adds up to be a big, fat LAME in my book.

However, a great song is a great song is a great song, which is exactly what Pearl Jam’s “Rearviewmirror” is. It positively roars, never letting go of its fury nor its focus. Rock on, Eddie; you bring the rock, and I’ll bring the hard place.

37. Rearviewmirror – Pearl Jam

(Top 101) #38. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

August 23, 2010

I was listening to some tracks from Katy Perry’s new album when I was seized by a question about the current music scene:  Where have all the smart girls gone? 

There was a time when you could turn on MTV and see the likes of Suzanne Vega, Paula Cole, Sinead O’ Connor (hey, angry and crazy aren’t mutually exclusive from intelligence), Fiona Apple (ditto), Sarah Mclachlan, Bjork, Tori Amos, Lauryn Hill, Alanis Morissette, and other female singer-songwriters who actually dared to write about more than getting shitfaced or hooking up with a hot guy or how much it sucks to break up with that hot guy.

Who do we have now?  Katy Perry (“Oh, I’m so nau~ghty!”), Ke$ha (“Oh, I’m so whacked out, which is so whack), Britney Spears (“Let’s dance and get slutty”), Christina Aguilera (“Hey, I can sing AND get slutty, too!”), Beyonce (“Oh, you WISH you were this fabulous!”), and Taylor Swift (“Love with a boy is so good, except when it’s so bad”).  Hmm, okay.  Remember, I’m not talking about the quality of the music here (superficial pop has more than its share of absolute gems), but the thematic variety and the depth of the songs.

The closest things to empowering female role models in current music are probably Lady Gaga and Pink.  But as much as Gaga talks about art, philosophy, religion, sexuality, and whatever bullcrap she does in all those interviews, it’s pretty much all rehashed Madonna quotes that don’t change the fact that her songs are the same old pop cliches just with a plethora of killer hooks (Pink has the opposite, more serious problem:  some real lyrical bite but without the hooks to pull you in).  Gaga recently described her ridiculous “Alejandro” video as her homage to the bravery of gay men who are repressed by religious figures and blah blah blah blah blah, but come on, take one listen to the song and tell me it’s not just about being hot for a cute Latin boy.

So when I hear a song like Tracy Chapman’s seminal “Fast Car,” it’s hard to believe that there was a time when such a smart, unflinching song could not only be critically admired but also prove to be a popular hit.  Hopefully, for all the young girls out there looking for someone to emulate as they bop their heads to their mp3 players, such a time will return.

38. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman