Do Soup.

Winters can be brutal.

You’ve got to keep warm, leave early, brave the winds, activate X-Ray vision to see through the snow, perform the most elaborate rituals to ensure a snowstorm brings down that crucial midterm taking place tomorrow…

It’s definitely an elaborate season. And running around all the time, it’s easy to forget to breathe in, even when you can see your own breath in front of you, and Moreno importantly, to keep warm, in spite of the numerous white reminders tapping on your forehead.

So I decided, in the general spirit of doing good, to make people a little reminder.

I drew it up on a particularly snowy day in my residence dining hall while studying French from a library textbook, and I did, for two whole minutes, seriously consider returning the book with an added token of gratitude slipped inside.

In fact, I’m warming up to the fact again.

(See what I did there?)

So be a nice person today.

Pass this around and remind your friends to keep warm, and above all: snort soup, dress warm and snuggly in your velvet mystic robe, and practice them dark arts of snowing days in!

I’m Done

I’m so ready for today to end.

I’ve yelled at a toilet seat and have two midterms tomorrow.

As Green Day sang on Brain Stew,

My eyes feel like they’re gonna bleed

The clock is laughing in my face

My mouth is dry

My face feels numb

And goodnight.

Sound of Music

I can’t get enough music these days: I can’t always find time to separately listen to music, and I’ve sort of lost the ability to successfully do anything along with music, except for music (which might shed light on my problem, wouldn’t it?)

Perhaps I can escape the music by turning the volume down low. But I can’t escape lyrics that invite me to follow a story. After all, one thing that anyone can confirm I am, is a storyteller.

(And like, also a musician, but I’m trying to make a point here. So for five minutes now, we will all sit with fingers to our lips and not talk about how I begin dissecting the music I hear when I hear it and end up not getting any work done. Deal?)

So I’ve found a loophole. I’ve started listening to French rock music, where I still get the music, but at low enough a volume to keep my focus on the proof I’m reading (we actually lay a decent focus on reading and understanding someone else’s proofs as well in my CS class), and without the words telling me a complete story.

Of course, the odd phrase will sit in my head, but it isn’t as bad as English where every word basically finds a match in my head straight away!

But you see, the trouble is, I’m actually making an effort at French in class and might soon enough have passable enough French to understand what’s going on. I have already found I’m able to pick out words distinctly, even if I don’t know what they mean.

So soon, I’ll find myself in the same situation as I’m in now.

I guess I’ll have to start hunting for a new language then.

Perl here I come.

Surely there’s a lot of other good rock music out there, and I can’t wait to get right at it.

Next stop: Finnish metal bands.

(Truth be told, I’ll probably start following just the sound of the language because, you know, you could call it music too.

I think I’ll eventually be stuck with Last Ride In by Green Day (it’s instrumental).)

Here’s A New Comic To Keep You Company

Just a little something I’ve been working on instead of studying, which is something I’ve should really really do given I’m 48 hours away from TWO midterms.

But really, people just panic first and never bother trying to charge their phones.

Must be fun being in the IT department.

Then again, it must be fun writing proofs to show people your code must run alright all day.

Cheers from the Dazzling Department of Computer Science!

(drowns)

The Death of The Album

Circa 2014, rock band Muse declared the album dead. One of music’s most lasting legacies since the emergence of recorded music, the longest format, with its relative simplicity, the band claimed, in the face of the digitalisation and ubiquity of music on the internet, had perished. 

They weren’t entirely wrong. A statistical study published on the website Statistica recorded the annual music album sales from the year 2007 to 2017 (with ‘album’ including “CD, CS, LP and digital albums”). Most years, total album sales fell lower than their preceding years. Between the years 2016 – 2017, album sales dropped by 9.4 million units from 205.5 million albums being sold in 2016 to 169.1 million in 2017. In fact, only in the year 2011 did album sales see a marginal bump up from its predecessor (from 326.2 million to 331 million, a rise of only 1.5%). Overall album sales had fallen from just above 500 million units in 2007, to under 200 million in 2017. With streaming today giving many people the choice between paying $20 for 12 tracks or $10 a month for access to a seemingly infinite music database, the shift is hardly shocking. 

In today’s age of digital music, where the number of streams and views on a song online is bigger news than an album’s garnering platinum success, the standalone single has emerged as the most popular format. It’s almost logical: give a time-pressed world a short three-minute catchy song with a video that looks good on YouTube (but perhaps not in your mother’s hands) and sticks in their head, and the world will reciprocate with its attention. It’s as simple a thing as giving people what they need. The radio will take care of the rest. 

Will it run for forty minutes?
Credits: thrillist.com

In today’s age, people want variety, entertainment and familiarity rolled into one, and they want it quick. 
The fifty-minute Length Play can hardly keep up with anything less than a traffic jam. The concentration asked of most experimental records won’t keep your eye on the road during your morning jog. And it’s no fun trying to keep up with something completely unfamiliar in rhyme or rhythm in the shower or on the dance floor. This is where the album, with its structure, discipline, and some may say, conformity, loses out in 2018. It’s also where your curated Spotify playlist wins. 

Listening to the modern chart radio reveals a few patterns.
 Either in the contents of the lyrics, vocal and tonic technique, baselines or drum machine patterns; something seems homogenous. Something sounds familiarly like the last fifty songs you’ve heard. Something in the song knows what makes your foot tap from past trials and is here to serenade you again. 
Out-of-breath crooners are back in fashion. Trance baselines have been in for a few years and stubbornly refuse to leave the charts alone. Acid bass drops get you moving. Minimalistic drum taps interfere the least with your dance floor groove. (As a disclaimer, this is all terminology coming from a rock music listener who’s spent way too many holiday car trips with the Tops 40’s radio.)
There’s always a story, either vocal or instrumental, that you’ve heard before  and it becomes easier to fill in the rest. 
But there’s always something almost obligatorily new: a synth melody in a new key, a different chord progression (Hmm, perhaps playing ‘A#-D#’ this time instead of playing ‘D-A’ will sound extremely novel), a new instrument thrown into the mix; something to make a case for your argument in favour of variety. 

What this sums up, to me, is a tired, wary society. We like our variety, in fact we’re wired for it, but only in micro dosages. We cling to familiarity and will take our blankets and pillow along with it. This is a generation that has seen more than its fair share  of experimentation and variety in life and wants no more hard surprises. Yes, you can dye the cat purple for all I care, maybe the colour will even look good on her. Just don’t let me know that I can’t afford my rent this month. Don’t tell me my student debt has doubled and that I’ll probably never be able to retire. Keep the papers away. Oh, and while you’re at it, don’t mess with my music. 

Pop music—historically short for popular music—is in this sense still quite a good reflection of society and its current mental state.
 Most of today’s adults the teens and preteens of the mid-00’s, a generation that grew up under the dominant reign of Disney Channel. This decade’s rise in (or perhaps, resurgence of) Disney artists in the popular music charts could well mean a generation of now-grown kids holding onto the last of their childhoods—a time when things seemed simpler, or were at least taken care of, and there seemed a lot more to look forward to in the future than they grew up to realise—through their childhood stars. 

So are we holding on to something that’s over and smearing its remains onto our music– a large aspect of our cultural lives and legacy? Does the ‘death’ of the longest format of music represent a breaking down of barriers, the handing of the reigns to the listener to modify their listening experience to their own comfort, the result of our collective wishes as a generation to find familiarity; or is it the death of music as we once knew it?

Loosest Stuff I Could Piece Together: Anyone Can Write Deep Poetry Series

Come on over and write yourself the next chart-buster. Anyone can do it, no lie!

First up, welcome to the Anyone Can Write Deep Poetry series. 

Have you spent all day and all night, listening to Pink Floyd, obscure French music and frantically pulling up your old English notes from school searching for all the phrases and idioms that may have passed you by in twelve years of worthless education, and sit there scratching your head wondering where deep, meaningful poetry comes from?

Are you walking around town in low-waisted, ripped jeans with shades and a bedhead with a purpose, looking around for someone to pass you a few tabs of acid to unlock the sheer poetic creativity that sleeps passively in your soul?

Are you following all the latest yoga fads and rewatching every John Lennon interview in existence to find the meaning of life and finally turn it into that soulfully-worded song you know you should have written by now? (Come on, you’ve been searching for a year already!)

Well, fear not, for I have ended your woes!
Here is a step by step guide to getting in the frame of mind most fertile for sprouting pearls people will quote for years, read and reread to really grasp the inner meaning of, that people will cry upon deciphering. 

Basically, I’m gonna turn you into Radiohead. 

So let’s begin. Echoes 2.0 ain’t gonna write itself. 

What time is it? 
Did you just get back from work? Are you tired of the structured life, does the hypocrisy of society frustrate you?
Yeah well, you’ve already tried writing about it. 
And yelling, “down, down, down with the governmeeent!” clearly hasn’t helped your SoundCloud grow. 

Try the indirect approach. Orwell neatly shrunk society into a farm. Look at how many musicians quote his books. You want that, don’t you? 
What can you come up with?

Ditch the obvious! The LSD ain’t gonna help your head if it isn’t thinking!

Here’s a start: you think people shy away from self-contentment, don’t you?
Let’s find you something a level beyond “We’re all sad fucks.” 

What’s the least obvious thing that could represent fulfilment?

Yes, now you’re using your 3 AM brain, good work!
Cream cheese.

Why not? 

Satisfaction is cream cheese. You know it’s what Jagger wanted. But none of you can get it, you sad fucks, you’re afraid of getting it! 

What would shake up society more anything else?
That’s right, someone getting it! And not just getting it, but enjoying it!

Attaboy, my Dylan! You’ve got yourself a full verse already! Should’ve come to me last year, don’t you think?

So here’s your first verse. 

Cream cheese is good
Real good food
I put it in my mouth
Until it’s all gone

What’s more torturous than just getting, and enjoying good cream cheese?
Getting it again! And again! And again! You rebellious soul, what will you do to the planet!?

You loop it. You say the same thing, again, and again, and again. You drive your bloody point home. You’ve got some fucking cream cheese out there. And you’re gonna eat it, period. 

What a symbolic middle finger in the face of the establishment. 

Yeah, how’s your acid working out for you?

Freedom can be trippy. Make sure your listeners—and the damned Establishment—know it! 
Put the trip and the trap into your music: echoes, delays, fades, until you’re so high on your own freedom that no one can hear you anymore. 

You’re a quick learner.
 Let’s put that onto your draft now. 


Cream cheese is good
Real good food
I put it in my mouth
Until it’s all gone

Yeah, cream cheese tastes good!
Is real good food
I put it in my mouth
Until it’s all gone!

CREAM CHEESE IS GOOD, YEAH?
Good food, yeah?
See me put it in my mouth
And watch it be all gone!

YEAH CREEM CHEEZE IYYY OOODD
EEEZZZZOOOODDD FOOOODDD
PUUUIIINN MAAA MAAAAAUUTHH
TILL ITS ALL GOONNEEE

Now, you and your group break away: there’s strength in numbers! Free your mate, and free your girlfriend, free your neighbour’s dog! Give ‘em some cream cheese. 

(song continued)

And my mate likes good cheese
My girl says it’s good food
We put it in the dog’s mouth
Until my neighbour’s gone

How’s that for emancipation of the people, sir? Could the establishment have an answer to that? Now all you need is to seal this with a kiss. 

I rise up, raid the pantry!
We rise up, raid the factory!
Wake up, eat up, 
Wake up
Wake up!

Who’d have expected that? You’ve got the critics in tears, reviewers raving; you’ve put together something nonsensical enough for the radio, deep enough for the underground, heady enough to score you that dream collaboration with Post Malone, you star!

Take a look at your final product and be proud. 

Cream cheese is good
Real good food
I put it in my mouth
Until it’s all gone

Yeah, cream cheese tastes good!
Is real good food
I put it in my mouth
Until it’s all gone!

CREAM CHEESE IS GOOD, YEAH?
Good food, yeah?
See me put it in my mouth
And watch it be all gone!

YEAH CREEM CHEEZE IYYY OOODD
EEEZZZZOOOODDD FOOOODDD
PUUUIIINN MAAA MAAAAAUUTHH
TILL ITS ALL GOONNEEE

And my mate likes good cheese!
My girl says it’s good food
We put it in the dog’s mouth
Until my neighbour’s gone

I rise up, raid the pantry!
We rise up, raid the factory!
Wake up, eat up, 
Wake up
Wake up!

Now, about the music, jeez, aren’t you exhausted? This song’s already a chart buster, why don’t you send your A&R guy to sample the neighbour’s dog pissing? It’s so meta, I can’t even. It probably even sounds good on record. About the actual rhythm section? Scratch some pads, man, anyone can make music. 


(In case the point was lost, this was pure sarcasm. If you actually do write a song about cream cheese, and if it actually does hit the charts, I want in.

This is not a generic attack on lazy songwriting, and is neither a diss on any of the songwriters mentioned above. 

Except maybe Post Malone. But whatever.)

Schrödinger’s Snowflake

As my assignment deadline grows nearer and nearer, I am officially getting closer to the rabbit hole.

At this hour of the day, I can’t recall the exact details here, but some aspects of physics don’t really work the way you’d expect them to when you get really close to some powerful landmarks.

Let’s just say my upcoming assignment deadline is a landmark.

Does this look the same to you as it does to me?

According to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, you can never know the exact velocity and position of an object. At this point, I’m pretty close to the deadline’s position on my calendar and my momentum is spiralling outwards and out of control.

It suffices to say, things aren’t looking very normal.

Welcome to my city, a place where we simultaneously experience summer and winter. (I refuse to answer any follow up questions about this “summer” I speak of) Sleep deprivation and insomnia. Panic and procrastination. Dead and alive, and Schrödinger and his cat. And my assignment due.

Although fair to say, the whole city doesn’t have an assignment due. But then again, this close to the deadline, I can’t even be sure. What if they do? What if all this mounting ice we’ having is nothing but the entire city crying over their share of my CS assignment? No wonder the snow tastes salty here.

Pass me the maple syrup please!

It’s probably an error, and with the winds it’s probably no more than -7 degrees anyway, and it’s not going to change the fact that we are living in the centre of a giant skating rink that isn’t nearly melting as quick as it piles up, but there we go, this forecast fascinates me. It’s my current state of mind. On repeat for the last five days or so.

Once this is over with, I am so out. Out cold!

Too Many Symbols In One Picture

Right here, in a single frame, are two iconic landmarks, both representative of the same place I’ve come to grow used to, but my word, both such contrasting figures.

Set against a foreground of what’s miraculously more ground than snow and ice, is the stone memorial Soldier’s Tower, a landmark erected in honour of soldiers who died in the two World Wars, with the CN Tower in the backdrop.

And behind the camera is an ancient relic, so old, withered and tired and falling to pieces, that the two towers might feel like budding roses next to it: me, walking home at 8.

I am so ready to get my assignment done with. I’m so ready for reading week.

I’m so ready fo—

(This post could not be completed as the author dozed off mid-post.)

Rewind

Know how we spend half our energy hating on the movie adaptation of a book just because it absolutely cannot be good?

It seems half the excitement of watching a movie adaptation is having read the book and being the fact geek at the table going, “and if this were ANY like the book, then character X would have said BLAH! And what an iconic line indeed. It’s a bloody shame to have cut that out.

The movie’s no good!”

Sure, sure, say what you like, you love doing that too. And you live for when someone adds to your practically screaming chorus, especially when in unison.

But apart from movie adaptations being a twisted horror story’s version of regrouping and unity, I’ve just realised I might have a real reason to be thankful for shit movie adaptations.

For one, they make for brilliant author disses. Author Max Brooks has said about the movie adaptation of his acclaimed book World War Z, that the only thing the book and the movie had in common was the title. It was also pretty much a sheer delight to read a snippet of Rick Riordan’s letter to the makers of the Percy Jackson movie adaptation outlining his very discernable concern about how they were taking his book and killing it, turning it into an absolute nightmare. (I haven’t been able to find that letter anywhere ever since. Would any know?)

That’s pretty much the author sitting on your couch with you during your movie dissathon, stuffing their face with popcorn and slamming their fist down on the table with you and shouting up louder, except this time, your couch has the added edge of smug self righteousness, and you feel reprived. Oh brilliant author, save me from these madmen who ruined my favourite book!

“Ruined my favourite book, hell right! I wrote that stuff!”

But movies do have a much wider reach than books do. You won’t see a repetitive blockbuster-scale commercial on air every five minutes with JK Rowling popping up and shoving her latest book in your face.

So one cool thing about shit movie adaptations are that they seem cool enough without the book to introduce you to a good idea and lead you to a better book, and because the director gets high enough on their own story to completely change the ending, they end up doing me a service: I still have a really good, suspense filled book to read!

The only real spoiler? The book isn’t going to end that stupidly. (For reference, go read Fight Club. Then come back and talk to me.)