Friday, February 11, 2011

Accolades, Equality, and the Lies of ZZ Top

At long last, the Rhapsody Concert has been scheduled. It was bit more of a strenuous process than it usually has been, but it's scheduled and I can look back upon those hoops and hurdles jumped with the fondness of a child remembering their first visit to the dentist.

Speaking of Rhapsody, we're blowing the dust off a few old songs as well polishing up some new tracks this semester which is always really cool. We're even giving former member and good friend of mine, Dennis "Gloves" Madden an impromptu and super mysterious solo. The suspense appears to be killing him. Apparently, he's not as excited by the idea as I am. I don't doubt the experience will culminate into my perfect Rhapsody send-off and a regrettable, but worthwhile end to a four year friendship. The juice is worth the squeeze.

Final Rhapsody note: I'm in the process of setting up our yearly baseball fundraiser with the Revs. The actual implementation of this community service takes place predominantly next semester. Also, shrinking space here at YCP have forced Rhapsody to book its concert dates a year in advance. I'm currently working on that paperwork, having already selected the dates for next fall and spring respectively. I get a chuckle that in my last year of presidency, I'm indirectly completing the dirty work for a group I won't actually be a part of by the time the dates themselves roll around. I'm considering putting Rhapsody President 08-12 on my resume.

Speaking of my resume, it appears I have a new accolade to add to it. I was selected by York's radio station WVYC to represent them as a nominee for "Most Creative Show Format" at the National IBS Conference in New York this year. It's a tremendous honor and I'm thrilled to be considered. It goes to show that not everyone can combine the NBA, jazz, and classic and folk rock as smoothly as I can.

In all seriousness, I'm super honored and I have to believe I have a shot. I think what my senior year is coming down to is the realization that no one else can do what I do, the way that I do it. Be that with radio, writing, the NBA, and various blends of the three aspects of my life. I'm beginning to realize just how unique my skills set is, and the potential I have as a person. I apologize if I sound a little arrogant, but for the first time in my life, I feel like I'm on the verge of self-actualization in the professional world, and that's a feeling that's exciting, scary, and powerful.

Anyway, I'll be recording my next few shows and between those and the couple I already have archived, my friends will help me edit the piece down to a five minute segment that will showcase the flavor of my show that will be submitted. I'll keep you in the loop.

Advice of the Day: Unless you are blind, or very uncomfortable with the appearance of your eyes, never where sunglasses indoors. I promise you, you look like a fucking moron. (I don't swear very often.) No matter how cool you may feel, no matter how cool the world may look tinted, and no matter how big of a Corey Feldman fan you may be, you look like an idiot. I can rant all day and night about that but hopefully I've said enough. Fluorescent lights don't give off UV rays, you'll live.

Thought of the Day: Proof that we are all created equal can be found in the restroom. I'm not trying to gross anyone out, but today in the bathroom while I was washing my hands, a professor whom I hold in high regard walked in and greeted me with a warm nod. He then proceeded to enter a stall and take care of his business. In that moment, the admiration and revelry that I held towards this man briefly vanished. In that moment, he became a mere mortal, just like me, who happened to be making some strange noise that made me want to leave the room as quickly as possible. Whenever you're feeling down on yourself and inferior, take solace in this thought.

Song of the Day: Nobody's Child - Electric Light Orchestra
Jazz Song of the Day: El Bozo Pt. III - Chick Corea

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More Amusing Than Mangoes, Oui?

College life and lack of anything more to say than "daily summaries" have prevented me from posting as often as I'd like.

With that said, it's good to be back at York, and with the exception of feeling like your personal preference of human waste this weekend, York being a pain in the ass about scheduling this year's Rhapsody concert, and charging a phantom 60 bucks to graduate (not including the fee for cap and gown), it's been a lot of fun to catch up with good friends and get back in the habits of singing with Rhapsody, DJing for "Fanfare" and "Corn" respectively, and being productive in the way of schoolwork. I've also picked up a weekly NBA column for the school's newspaper. My first article focused on some of the more underrated players in the NBA with a focus on the Clip-Show's Eric Gordon. I feel like it came out awesome.

Obviously, it's a subject matter I really enjoy, but what I think I really like about my articles is that I genuinely believe that no one in the world can present the information like I can. In short, I write sports articles in a manner that makes them at least semi-enjoyable and interesting to even those who don't follow the respective sport. It's this unique style of presentation that makes me believe that I may have a real future in this in some medium on some level.

Two things of note, but not worth a paragraph:

1. Going to see the Knicks play the Sixers on Friday with the Kernel and, hopefully, Gloves. Should be a great time. Both teams are much improved from last season, and the Sixers have really been hitting a stride of late. The Knicks have been a bit inconsistent, but are coming off a nice Mozgov-fueled trouncing of the Pistons.

2. Found some old Rhapsody shirts from about 2003. They're hideous. No wonder there were so many extras. I admit I got us shirts that might as well be sails for sea travel, or a light blanket to snuggle under with your significant other in the summertime, but at least they were fly looking. I think any Rhapsodian would at least grant me that.

Advice of Day: When extolling the virtues of humility, always consider your audience.

Thought of the Day: For my Senior Seminar class, I'm reading a book entitled, The War Against Grammar, by David Mulroy. This book, at least to this point, focuses primarily on why the American educational system has suffered since the adoption of the mindset that grammar is not only unimportant to writing, but impedes the writing process. This is not an argument a necessarily disagree with, but I do take issue with his thoughts regarding the study of Foreign Languages in college. I'll start with one thing he said which I agree with:

1. Efforts to maintain interest in foreign language courses have resulted in content centered more around culture than the fundamentals of that language, and quite honestly, the relatively global grammar rules. This does nothing but perpetuate the perpetuate the problem that actual language/grammar is not being taught and, consequently, learned. (Paraphrased, of course)

However, his reasoning for why enrollments in foreign language courses is as follows:

"My hypothesis is that the problem lies not in the way that languages were or are taught in college, but in the fact that fewer students are given the foundation in grammar in grade school that is necessary to succeed in the later study of a foreign language, however it is taught." (13)

To be frank, I think this hypothesis is totally bogus. Mulroy himself states that enrollments in Spanish courses have remained constant in terms of percentage of total college population enrolled while...

"In terms of absolute numbers, there were 189,032 fewer American college students taking French in 1198 than in 1968 even though the college population had increased by more than seven million. Similarly, there were 127,253 fewer taking German and 16, 905 fewer taking Russian. Between 1965 and 1998, there was a decline of 17,553 students studying classical languages, while the pool of college students increased by nine million." (12)

Mulroy's reasoning for Spanish study remaining constant? "Spanish has long enjoyed a reputation on American campuses as being the easiest of the foreign languages to learn as well as the most usable." (12) Mulroy, in my opinion, implies that Spanish is foreign language of the simpletons and seems to bypass what I consider to be the most important point of his sentence, and indeed, his entire argument. Spanish is the most usable.

As much as the idea that the study of these languages is falling by the wayside is unfortunate and borderline heartbreaking (says the former student of both French and Italian, but before you get too impressed, I'd like to note that was tres mal at French) let's view this conundrum in a practical light.

With the amount of money the average student spends on higher education, he or she is going to invest their time and energy into the study of something that can be useful or lucrative to them in the future (too often those two words come to be considered synonymous). I admit to being no expert, but that essentially means that unless you plan to teach the language or work in the area where that language is prevalent, the languages are rendered monetarily useless. This point of view is quite cynical I admit, but it's also not entirely false. In my opinion, enrollment in Spanish courses has remained constant due to the language quickly becoming more and more prominent as a fixture of American interaction. Becoming bilingual in English and Spanish has become not exactly essential to life in this country, but it is a heck of a feather in your cap in certain areas of the professional world (public relations, police work, and pretty much any other profession that starts with a "p" to name a couple) especially in the south and in metropolitan areas throughout the nation. There's no real use for those other languages in the workplace except for very specific circumstances.

Furthermore, judging by conversations had with business minded peers, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see the amount of American students learning to speak Mandarin increase dramatically over the coming years, as China continues its economic prosperity, and Mandarin continues to become the language of business. The desire/need to learn foreign language is indeed still present in America. However, students today are realistic enough to have a end-game or goal for their foreign language education. A goal that evidently cannot be fulfilled by German, and the romantic languages.

I feel as though Mulroy is overlooking some arguably more important cultural reasons for the decline in collegiate foreign language study.

Song of the Day: Two Step - Dave Matthews Band (The '95 version with the Boyd intro and rockin' Tim jam with more subtle percussive presence from Carter than more recent incarnations.) THAT'S A FRAGMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jazz Song of the Day: You Are Too Beautiful - Thelonious Monk