Thursday, May 12, 2005

The word is what it means...

Though I like to consider myself a progressive, forward-thinking lad, I sometimes cry myself to sleep pondering the fate of the English language. Now, I'm not some spoilt Victorian child upset with the peasants; the great fun of words is how maleable they are. (Ah, Jacques Derrida, rest ye well.) But signifying is considerably different than sloppiness, and it makes my kidneys fizz with contempt when I hear language not just butchered, but in Dan's words, "mashed barefoot by child slaves from Guatemala in a vat for three months until it finally festered and turned, the bacterial culture within having eaten through all that was salvageable and left nothing less than a bubbling mess of my own steaming hyperbole."

For example, let's take a look at the word "factoid". This has fascinated me since high school. You know what the word means, right? Do ya? I've seen network news bumps that display topical trivia, in dynamic computer-animated prime-time graphical fabulosity, under the heading "FACTOIDS!" So it's, like, knowledge in fun-size, right?

Ahem... Pull out your dictionaries, dolts. It's "a piece of unverified or inaccurate information that is presented in the press as factual, often as part of a publicity effort, and that is then accepted as true because of frequent repetition." Take note of the suffix -oid: it means "similar to"; for example, how androids are kind of like people... but they're not because they're friggin' ROBOTS!

Similarly, (or, perhaps, -oidally) this godforsaken quagmire of id-juice known as the internet has ruined one of my favourite words: meme. The word now stands for little more than a survey of inconsequential minutae ("What was the last show you TiVO'd?") for people to post on their blogs because, goddammit, they're so amazingly special that their friends would loooooooove to look at the corns on their feet.

Fuck off.

But as I angrily wag my finger in shock, SHOCK, please ignore the poker chips I slide into my pocket as the karma police kick down the door. (I'll buy you a drink if you can name the film I'm referencing.) I found this survey - not meme, thank you very much - on the Vinyl Mine music blog. So I've got a spine like a string bean, so sue me; I'm a sucker for making lists about music. What good nerd worth his horn-rim glasses doesn't? Feel free to play along and post a reply. It's always more fun when there's fightin' words.

Five Lyrics that "Move My Heart"
Move my heart? Yeesh. I usually ignore lyrics, so here's a few songs I (a) remember, and (b) can relate to...
-"And you may tell yourself, well, how did I get here?" ("Once In a Lifetime" by the Talking Heads)
-"Face right down to the practice room, with intentions of fame and a career..." ("Cut Your Hair" by Pavement)
-"The answer is there, but 'there' is not a fixed position" ("Long Distance Runner" by Fugazi)
-"Got a truck full of amps, motherfucker" ("Truck Fulla Amps" by Self)
-"Type and file, I'm not paid to understand that this position was always in demand" ("Y Plus Girl" by Q And Not U)

Top Five Instrumentals
-"Dear Spirit, I'm In France" by Oxes
-Untitled interlude after "Honey Power" (from the Tremolo EP) by My Bloody Valentine
-"Blood Money" by Primal Scream
-"O Venezia Venaga Venusia" (from Il Casanova score) by Nino Rota
-"Super Going" by the Boredoms

Top Five Musical Experiences
-Sitting in the basement of the Roseland in NYC, singing old doo-wop songs with members of the Ramones, Black Flag, and the Misfits, late June, 2001
-Fugazi at Fort Reno Park, July 1, 2002
-Q And Not U at the Talking Head, February 13, 2003
-Two Oxes shows at the Velvet Lounge and the Ottobar in late April, 2004
-Making it through a show without breaking any strings, drinking Guiness out of an ashtray, and accidentally beaning the doorgirl with a can at Kecak's penultimate Baltimore performance, March 9, 2005

Five Artists You Think More People Should Listen To
-The Fall
-Fela Kuti
-Nino Rota
-Saul Williams
-Drive Like Jehu

Top Five Albums You Must Hear From Start to Finish
-Fantomas' self-titled debut
-Man Overboard by Buck 65
-Loveless by My Bloody Valentine
-VooDoo by D'Angelo
-Alice by Tom Waits

Top Five Musical Heroes
-Mike Patton
-Kevin Shields
-Guy Picciotto
-Frank Zappa
-Tom Waits

Top Five Rock Lit Books that Should Be Made Into Movies
Don't know that I've read five "rock lit" books, so here's all that come to mind...
-Please Kill Me: the Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
-Let It Blurt: the Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic by Jim Derogatis
-Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital by Mark Andersen and Mark Jenkins

And, in keeping with tradition, I will finish by adding my own category...

Top Five Musical Quotations Made In Song
-"When I say I'm in love, you best believe I mean I'm in love, L-U-V!" (the Ronettes quoted by Ian Svenonious of the Nation Of Ulysses, in "Today I Met the Girl I'm Going to Marry")
-"Can't ask for more, so why unfilfilled?" (Fugazi quoted by Travis Morrison in "Born In '72")
-Bassline from "Powerhouse" (Raymond Scott sampled by Soul Coughing in "Bus To Beelzebub)
-"I got a letter from the DMV the other day..." (Public Enemy paraphrased by the Pharcyde in "Please Mr. Officer")
-"Young hearts be free tonight/Time is on your side" (Rod Stewart quoted by the Constantines in "Young Offenders")

UPDATE: Courtney of the MSftG added her own category to the survey; in the interest of avoiding obsolesence, I decided to tag it to the end of this post.

Top Five Artists Who Take Up The Most Room In Your Music Collection
-Mike Patton (in various collaborations & incarnations)
-Frank Zappa
-PJ Harvey
-TIE:The Fall & Nino Rota


Raaaaaaaandy said...

Well, fuck it, I'll comment.

"VooDoo"? Really? I dunno Seb, I gotta call you on that. "Devil's Pie" is good, and maybe the instrumental at the onset, but the rest of that record is naptacular.

New QOTSA is good, no?

Seb said...

I'll grant you that VooDoo is one of the sleepier albums in my collection, but I'm addicted to how deep in the pocket the grooves are.

So deep the bassist fell out a hole in the bottom. DAMN.

The new QOTSA is rather good, yeah. It's interesting that with each album, Josh Homme's riffery gets a little less swampy & dirgey. There's more of a crack in his whip as he gets further away from Kyuss. I still think Restricted is his best work, but he's not fallen off.

Courtney said...

Thanks for the link. Very interesting answers yourself. I could add rock books I've read (Our Band Could Be Your Life, Azzerad; Sonic Cool: The Life and Death of Rock and Roll, Harrington; Mainlines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader).

Jakob said...

Dude, it's TRUNK Fulla Amps. Not truck!

It's forgiveable, however; you like Self. So I like you. Carry on.

Seb said...

Sir Jakob, apologies that I cocked up the Self lyric. It's honestly been quite some time since I threw on "Gizmodgery" for a listen, so being as lyrically uninclined as I am, I was bound to fuck it up. It's good to see that Matt Mahaffey's fan base extends beyond those who heard him in college in the late '90s.

Jakob said...

There are Self fans scattered in small pockets around the country, I've found. Unfortunately, their new record Ornament & Crime will never be released (tied up in red tape at the label)...but definitely throw Giz into the CD player again sometime, there's a ton of quality tunes on there. Give me a buzz if you ever wanna hear O&C...