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Saturday, August 30, 2008

"I'm looking for something....subtle" "It's going to be real...colorful"

Good morning! I know in my last post I said tomorrow, but...well, I distracted myself and then the day was gone. My apologies. Also, I apologize in advance as this post isn't going to be nearly as long or analytical as usual. I'm actually going to set it up and let you guys take it away and then bounce back to it when I'm a bit more awake.

Pop Culture Versus Culture - what is it that comprises a societies cultural identity? I think I could objectively define it as books, music, movies, television, video games, print media (newspapers, magazines), art (painting, sculptures, 'modern'), celebrities and sports - not only in what is produced in this society, but also what is popular. Given the recent Olympic games (which I think deserve a post of their own if someone wants to throw out their perceptions from the recent games in Beijing), I think I'd like to focus on sports for at least the first part of this post. Sports, as a whole, I think are underrated, or at least looked down upon by other "cultural elitists" as a simple clashing of two physical entities in frivolous games. First and foremost, let me get this out there - every aspect of culture is frivolous on every measurable scale. That being said, I think culture not only makes up an important aspect of every society, I'd go as far as to say that it is a required element if any society is to thrive. Culture brings entertainment to the masses, keeps morale high and everyone knows, happy workers work while unhappy workers don't...or at least don't do as good of a job. All work and no play make America a dull nation. So back to sports - sports offer society an outlet for our competitive nature. We have an inherent need to feel as if we are the best, but of course, most of us...aren't the best. Therefore, we personalize ourselves with a team or an athlete and through their achievements and success, we achieve and succeed - we feel like we a part of it. And sports and much more complicated beast than people give it credit for. Sports are constantly evolving, always attempting to find that edge over the competition, and just as one trend becomes universal (see NFL spread offenses over the next two season), something new comes along. While every other cultural medium I listed flows seamlessly with trends or fads, sports are the constant sine wave that follows our society, changing much more slowly, like our economy or our political environment. I speak specifically of football, as that's the sport I follow most closely, but I know we could find fans of every sport that regardless of the age of the sport, or the traditions we typically associate, have evolved and adapted for a greater competitive edge.

Music, I think, is the second most important aspect of a society's cultural identity and this is because music is the most diverse of the cultural aspects, which is even more impressive given the relatively similar roots all music has derived from. Somehow, between classical music and traditional, tribal drum-based music, we have achieved an amazingly eclectic tree of musical genres and sounds. In addition, music proudly utilizes the most recent technological advances to bring something new to the table...always going for the latest or the newest sound. Music also is in the unique position of having changed society, or having a major impact on large scale societal changes. Music often represents the sound of the streets, or the sound of the masses, but really - there is a music for everyone, music is universal in that it doesn't discriminate. However, this is where my topic really hits it's stride - pop culture versus culture. Is there any difference, value wise, in some indie production with strong, meaningful lyrics aimed at political or economical issues or some pop song constructed for the soul purpose of selling records? How would one even measure the worth of a cultural entity? Number of people reached? Lasting impression (test of time)? Message? I think completely excusing "pop culture" - the items produced and marketed for the sole purpose of sales over content, is a mistake. I think this is as vital a part of our cultural imprint as anything done in order to invoke change or express strong opinion.

Then there's the cross pollination of culture - the instant celebrity of Olympic heroes like Michael Phelps, Shawn Johnson and Usain Bolt. Then there's the flip-side, like Ashley Harkleroad posing for playboy - positive or negative? This actually leads into my next area of discussion - celebrities and a little insight into their train-wrecks they call lives, but that's for next time I reckon.

So that's my diving board - take it from there people. I'll probably have more at some point in time, possibly even in the next week, but no promises.

Also - Heather and I came up with an awesome idea for an ongoing game or conversation starter that we can kind of finish (or start) each post with. Current song of the moment (what song do you find yourself listening to more and more these days) and this song makes me feel...(list an emotion or feeling, and what song really captures that for you)...then simply elaborate. I'll go first.

Song of the Moment: Belle & Sebastian - Mary Jo. Off their original record, Tigermilk, this little diddy closes the album with perfect ease. It's simple tune and could easily fade into any background comfortable, but where is exceeds - as with all B&S songs, are the melodies and the subtly strong lyrics. The key lines are "Mary Jo, no one can see / What you've been through / Now you've got love to burn"and then ends with a fading round of "Life is never dull in your dreams / A sorry tale of action and the men you left for / Women, and the men you left for / Intrigue, and the men you left for dead." The song is essentially about the regrettable lose of youth and innocence, which I think all of us go through in that moment when we realize...we aren't kids anymore, we are guilty beings (and I didn't even need Catholicism to tell me that one), and we've made mistakes. Our own mortality becomes apparent in that moment - we make mistakes, and through mistakes, it becomes evident that we will someday die (maybe I'm the only one who makes that connection, but either way - it's there).

Song That Makes Me Feel...Nostalgic: The Elected - Greetings in Braille. One of my top songs (actually has been in the top five since I first heard it), this captures perfectly that idea that we aren't who we were when we were kids anymore, yet simultaneously, we aren't really ready to handle what the world has to throw at us yet either. Key line - "And I miss Tara and Melissa, Allen and John. / And you'll never have friends like you did when you were young. / But our bodies were pulled away and swept out to the sea / And I'd call and say hi if I thought you'd remember me." It'll be interesting to see how the Internet effects childhood friendships as we all grow older, already we're seeing a difference as I've kept up with more people through the Internet (all of you, for example), than I would have ever imagined and definitely wouldn't have had this option not been here. However, even as the Internet is changing the way we view and react to friendships, the sentiment is the same - the friendships when we were young were unbeatable, and even if we stay in touch or we keep contact with those individuals - those bonds of friendship we shared when we were young, they will never be matched, they will never be replicated and it's very easy to miss those, to regret wasting those days away - but it was wasting those days that made them so memorable. Perhaps that's a missing lesson in all of this - the most memorable days are those we wasted.

That's all I have. I recently got the Sims 2 IKEA Stuff and the Sims 2 Apartment Life, so I'm going to fiddle around with that for an unhealthy amount of time. Ta.

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