A convo about rap and poetry.

You may find this conversation interesting. The difference, as far as I can see it, between rap and poetry.

MeHere: Okay, then. Some rappers, I’d say a great many of them, are poets. I fail to see a difference between a rap and a poem other than the way it is presented. Now I’ve seen or heard bad raps but poems can be bad too. It’s subjective, really. To one person, either work of art may be just scribble on a page. To another, that same scribble is felt and has flow and substance.

Steve: She speaks the truth.

Skrappybiskit (me): Actually, there are concrete things about a poem that makes it a *good* poem, at least as the poem relates to form. However, there’s always that mysterious something that you can’t put in a textbook that makes one poem better than another, or a slightly badly written poem seem better than a stiff well written one.

In that sense, there is and there isn’t subjectivism in art. From a technical standpoint, some are good, some are bad. From a personal standpoint, some touch, some don’t. The best art (and not a lot of modern art, imho) combines both of those things.

Which leads me to believe that most rap isn’t art. It’s skillful (sometimes) and relevant (at its best) and can be technically well-performed and well-written in relation to its genre but in the end falls short of true technical merit. Like much of pop culture.

Steve: But I could rap the above poem to a good beat and then you have a good rap. Are you telling me that’s not poetry?

Me: Of course you could. But the presentation does change the art form, correct? If you film a painting, does that make the film art? Not necessarily. The poem, in its written form, is a poem. Spoken over a beat, it’s rap. That changes it, at least in my view.

Besides, the question of whether or not someone *could* rap this poem is academic: almost no hip hop performers rap actual poetry. They perform a mutated type of poetry that is well-suited to being spoken over a beat, something normal poetry rarely is.

Again, I’m not saying that good rap is easy. I know it takes skill (I’ve written and performed a bit myself). But skill isn’t the sole determiner of whether something is good or “high” art.

Me Dutch. Have lots money. Not give you any.

Okay, since Sarah addressed Dutchness, I’m going to have to as well. Too beautiful a peach to leave hanging.

I mean, our Dutchness (at least amongst the youth) has generally devolved to the point of it being butt of jokes more often than a source of pride. Though I do know a few guys who swear by their frilly lace curtains. But I don’t know about them. Really.

But there’s still these old hardcore people out there that just love the fact that they have this enormous heritage. Maybe they’re compensating or something. But I always ask, what heritage? There’s good things, sure. But there’s a whole lot of bad in the mix. Certainly not something to be horribly proud of.

I mean check out this Calvin guy. The hero of every Dutch Reformer. For goodness sakes, people, the man was French! It seems in the five hundred proceeding years of history, the Dutch people co-opted this Frenchman and his theology and made him theirs.

So what else have the Dutch people done that they deserve our eternal and undying ethnic gratitude? Have they fought bravely in wars? Sure, but not many of them. Have they explored the world? Some of it. Have they produced musicians without number? No. They do, however, have two painters. Rembrandt and Van Gogh. Who apparently tore his own ear off.

I’d have to search the internet, but for Holland’s comparitive contribution to the world, we’re doing pretty badly here, aren’t we? England’s just a bit bigger, and they conquered most of the known world, from America to India and back again. They left their influence everywhere they went, and India still owes them a huge debt of gratitude for the advancements they provided to that once-backwards country.

Dutch East Indies? Is that the one? Ah. Nice empire. Feel free to flame me now, but at least the Germans can claim to be everlastingly evil. I come from a background of almost-runs.

Witticisms from the last day of the month.

Here are some witty samples of what I hear around work. And what I say.

Me: I need to have more tolerance for idiots.
Stu: On behalf of idiots, we thank you.

Lisa: (while showing off an apendectomy scar) You should always try to find a girl with scars!
Me: All my girlfriends have scars. From knowing me.

Me: (tasting spaghetti from an anonymous co-worker) Hmmm. No onions.
Him: You know my wife never cooks with onions.
Me: You need to get her out of that “no onion” box.
Him: Hey, yo, don’t dis my ho!

Brian: I see you’re wearing your hat backwards! Steve’s started a trend!
Me: *edited for content*

Brian: By any chance, have you seen the ladder?
Me: It’s in my back pocket.
Brian: Really? *looks at my back pocket* (Okay I made that last bit up)

Me: (holding two popsicle sticks) *glares at Stu*
Stu: *burps loudly*
Me: Aaahhh! My +2 popsicle sticks are nothing compared with your +5 burpaga!
(Yes, that was for RPG fans…)

Stu: *filing a block of metal by hand*
Me: This is why we’re worl-famous… quality workmanship.
Stu: Yeah, me an my double-sided bastard. (The file was made by Bastard Tools)
Me: I can photoshop an endmill in there, and we could put in on our website.
Stu: Could you make me thin?
Me: I’m not that good.

My small non-interactive review of Gmail. Thank you.

Okay, so I got a new email account, and a Gmail account at that. I call it [redacted]@gmail.com – and you can feel free to email me there if you wish for some reason that I don’t understand.

But I thought it might be expeditious if I gave a small review of the service here.

First thing off, Gmail claims to be a different sort (pun!) of email service, and for once, the claim isn’t just hype. What you’ll see, instead of an inbox and folders, is an inbox, archives, and labels. No sorting into folders. Just a convenient search, and the ability to label things if you so wish.

You can mark messages with a star to denote that they are indeed special emails, and that label has its own pseudofolder. Otherwise, all your mail eventually gets archived in a catch-all psuedofolder, which you can search a la Google.com to find a particular past email.

The best feature that I can see is that fact that emails are sorted into conversations instead of each being delivered as a defacto email to your inbox. If you think that not having folders makes things a bit cluttered, this feature is one of the reasons that it’s not. I have a conversation (which is formatted much like a chat session) reaching upwards of 10 emails.

Gmail is also very fast, except to load, which takes about as much time as a normal email service like Yahoo! or Hotmail (I spit upon thee, Hotmail!). But inside the account itself, nothing takes more than a split second to perform, from sending to archiving to expanding a conversation so you can see each message separately.

So, mostly positive, right? Well, not really. While the frontend is feature-rich and very user-friendly, it’s going to take a while for people to get used to the Gmail system of starring and archiving in lue of folders and a proper inbox. Searching is a great feature, something other email providers need, and now. But the greatest drawback is in its Contacts features (or lack thereof). There’s no nicknames or short names, and the information you can provide is limited at best. It also has no way to import or export addresses, which would be a great feature. Especially for those of us that are using Yahoo! mail right now; it would be a great thing if I could import a CSV file of exported Yahoo! addresses. And I have a large contact list. You could even set up something that would import a XML file such as a MSN Messenger contact list export.

Other than that, Gmail gets a 8 out of 10. It’s clean, fast, and truly revolutionary. The ads are small and out of the way, something I can’t say for Yahoo! or Hotmail. And though the 1gb of space you get is its most trumpeted feature, I’d say it’s merely the icing on the cake.

A Fairy Tale (Hold the Fairies, Please), part 4.

The prince was practically begging. “This is a stupid idea,” he said. “Stupid. Who cares if we can find our way back if we’ve been turned into toads? We’ll like it here! This will be home!” But she kept stopping to cut marks in trees. “You’re hurting me,” he told her. “You’re hurting the trees! Greenpeace would be horrified.”

“They’re busy chaining themselves to the smithy,” she replied primly, even as the sound of breaking foliage and snapping sticks grew nearer.

They ran for a bit more, breaking into a clearing, where Mackenzie decided to make another mark in yet another tree.

“Don’t put a mark in that tree,” came a voice from behind them. They whirled to see an aged man sitting in a rocking chair, rocking back and forth. “I’m a certified member of Greenpeace, and I’m afraid I can’t allow you to do that.”

Mackenzie began, “Are you…”

“… the wizard that talks to trees?” the wizard who talks to trees finished. “Yeah, sorta. I mean, they do most of the talking, and I kinda just sit by and translate for the flowers and such.”

At that moment the prince’s evil stepmother broke through into the clearing and waved her wand at them menacingly. It was a fresh wand, too, and a very nice model recently featured on the Shopping Channel.

Nothing happened. “Sorry,” the old man said, rocking in his chair. “Your magic won’t work here.”

“Well, I can still kill him with my bare hands!” the queen shouted, scowling at her son. “Open this book for me, prince, or die knowing that you could have opened this book for me!” She realized as soon as she said it how stupid it sounded, but she scowled extra-convincingly to make up for it.

“Can’t you help us?” cried the prince to the wizard who translated the words of trees. “She’s going to kill me!”

“Nope,” the old man said, pulling a soother from his vest pocked. “I’m a pacifist.” He jammed it in his mouth, as if to make his point.

The queen’s frown morphed into a picture-perfect evil smile. The grandmother of all evil smiles. She took the book from her evil napsack pushed it toward him, and said, “Open it, fool!”

Looking down at the cover, the prince was taken aback. Where it had once said “Imagination”, it now said “Sheep”.

“Why did that book just say sheep?” the queen asked, stepping back. But not fast enough: the prince opened the book in a lightning, or at very least a 1969 Ford Mustang, movement, tossing the dust contained inside over her.

There was a small flash, and in the middle of the clearing stood a sheep. A black sheep. “Did you do that?” asked the prince of the wizard who listened to the words of trees.

The little man in the chair shrugged. “I needed a sweater.”

* * *

Book of imagination in hand, the prince and Mackenzie followed the trail she had made back to her Aunt’s house. They argued the entire way about whether or not his natural male sense of direction would have been enough had they had no markings. He almost instantly regretted sprinkling the imagination dust on her, as some of her comebacks were remarkably witty.

Eventually, they got married, so as to carry on the arguing more conveniently, but not before the prince had spread the dust of imagination throughout the land. Strangely, it never seemed to run out; no matter how much he gave out, there was always more to be had. Which, conveniently, is the moral of this story:

You can never get rid of dust.

Oh, and they all lived happily ever after. Until they died.


PS: Okay, I lied. The moral of this story is that imagination isn’t a static quantity that you can somehow exaust. There’s always a bit more beyond the next bit of writers block. Or, for you people that enjoy carving, carving block. You may all groan at that pun. I should know this. I began this story, got half of it done in about an hour, and then finished the rest up six months later with fresh ideas, and much too much diet ginger ale.

Bike riding, life, etc.

I rode my bike to Subway for lunch today, only to find it took a great deal of time due to extreme headwinds. Which inspired me to write a poem comparing riding a bike and headwinds to life and how sometimes you get so busy that it seems like everything’s taking forever. Ironically, I haven’t written it yet due to the fact that I’ve been so busy.

Obliogatory election followup.

Well you can get it from the CBC, Canoe.ca, the always-biased Globe and Mail.

Of course, there’s not really much to be said. Martin wins a minority government, but barely. Even with the NDP, the Liberals don’t have enough seats to actually rule properly, which means that we can expect another election on the inside of two years, if that. But the clincher of this whole story — as always — is that vote-rich Ontario blah blah blah is constantly re-electing the shitty Liberal government over and over again. Ontario is as redundant as that sentence was. What exactly do you need? Writing on the wall? God to step down and tell you how much that government sucks? Can you tell I’m a tad bit upset?

Goodness. Final tally (well, almost… some are being counted):

Liberals: 135 seats.
Conservatives: 99 seats.
The Bloc: 54 seats (who cares?).
NDP: 19 seats (also, who cares?).
Other: 1 seat.

Make your own Hollywood trailer!

Have you ever noticed how Hollywood trailers are often so faceless and generic? Especially for action flicks? Of course, so are the movies, so you kind of expect it, but c’mon people! You have a chance to be creative in restraints and you don’t take it. Goodness.

So I’ve decided to write a “Make Your Own Homebrew Trailer”. I’m not going to have any film for this, so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

“Generic Trailer” (by Dax)

(A man who has smoked one million cigarettes begins speaking.)

In a (time / place / land / town) where (evil has triumphed / nobody breaks the rules / thus and such is forbidden) one (man / woman / group of adventurers) will (stand and fight / challenge the status quo / fight for his/her/their rights) and (change the world / alter history / begin a revolution).

(Jonny Q. Hollywood) and (Sally Q. Ho) star in a movie critics are calling (Action packed! / A thrillride! / High-octane!) and (The best action film since thus and such! / A triumph! / Heart-breaking!).

Don’t miss this (summer / winter / fall / spring)’s motion picture event, (dramatically name film), coming soon to a theatre near you!

And this is supposed to make me want to watch the film. Pshaw.