Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hey Folks; Song of the Week #3! How to See the Sun Rise by Ben Sollee

Ok, so my first instinct is to apologize for not posting in a while. But no! I will not become one of those people, the kind that think they absolutely must post regularly because people actually read their blog, and if they don't post, said people will be up in arms. And I won't let myself become one of them. So no. I'm not sorry.

But on to the topic of discussion!

So I'm guessing a good amount of you know Ben Folds, but I'm guessing not many are familiar with Ben Sollee. In a sentance, Ben Sollee is to the cello what Ben Folds is to the piano. A sort of vag-rock, with bass, drums, voice, and cello.

Ben Sollee -- How to See the Sun Rise

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

One thing that I love about Ben Sollee is that he doesn't push his instrument to the front. The cello is hardly noticable, just a very nice repetivie background figure, like drums or bass in most songs (including this one).

I don't really have a whole lot to say; I don't really consider this song a masterpiece due to its simplistic structure and overall lack of ingenuity, but it certainly makes for some nice listening.

(note: I was going to have Ghostland Observatory's 'Freeheart Lover' be song of the week, but I couldn't find it online. Still, I encourage you to go buy it, it's freakin' sweet).

PS: I'm going to try to put a quotation on every post from now one, just because I absolutely love quotations and there are so many good ones out there that few people know. So consider this also as an invitation: if you see a good quote, lemme know. Maybe post a comment. If I really like it, maybe I'll even show you one from my private stash.

"What Youth deemed crystal,
Age finds out was dew."
Robert Browning

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Song of the Week -- Week 2-- A Kiss to Build a Dream On by Louis Armstrong

Moving away from rock this week, we'll take a look back to the golden age of jazz. And who better to demonstrate that than Louis Armstrong?

Case in point: A Kiss to Build a Dream On

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

I really don't have much to say about this song. Gotta love Armstrong's vocals, and there's that absolutely fantastic trumpet solo in the middle. And the dixieland clarinet behind is just the icing on the cake.

(Anecdote: I actually found this song on the Fallout 2 soundtrack; it's the music for the intro video, which is quite humorous. I highly recommend it.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

College Reps: A moment of your time, if I may--

Dear College Reps:

Stop sending me crap.

I know that this is a difficult concept for you to grasp. I know and appreciate that you want me to go to your school. I'm sure that you've got a whole panel full of smart, zany people just waiting to review my final as soon as you have my official ACT scores.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Social Networks And Desirability!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Note: Number of exclamation points is directly correlated to the interestingness of the blog post.

So I've wondered for a long time what the optimal number of friends to have on a social network (I'll be focusing on Facebook) is. It's important, of course, to have enough friends to exude popularity (or at least the fact that yes, you do have friends), but on the other hand, you don't want to be seen as one of those people that not only accepts all the friend requests you receive (regardless of your relationship with the sender) but (heaven forbid!) you friend request people that aren't actually your friend!

So today, when I should have been outlining my English paper, I began an exhaustive study on this very subject.

I began research with a thoroughly scientific mass-text survey (If you were a recipient, I apologize and thank you for your reply if you did indeed give me one, if you weren't, don't take it personally; I just like you less). I do realize that this limits responses primarily to high-school age white kids, I've tried to accrue sufficient data to come up with at least a ballpark estimate. And while I would like to have thousands of data points, covering people of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs, I simply don't have the money. I also don't actually care that much.

I've also collected a fair amount of data off of my facebook friends. Again, that's limiting, but deal with it, or get the hell off of my blog.

So my first question is about the number of friends people have, as it relates to their age. I figured it'd be a sort of a bell curve, a bit like this:

Sorry for the blur.
But I figured that the friend number (y-axis) would peak at about age 19, the tech-savvy generation who has also seen high school and college.

Using the meager data of younger people (freshman and below) and older people (30 and above), my averages are:
Younger people -- 117 friends
Older people -- 122 friends
Regular people (those surveyed) -- 292 friends


So now we move on to the much more difficult question of the socially optimal number of friends to have. We're going to be looking mostly at the category 'Regular People' for this one, so assume that it's nearly all 17-20 year-old folk. My original hypothesis was that there would be a correlation between friends and predicted number for social optimization. It makes sense, doesn't it? One would think that people would want to believe themselves to be the norm. So of the people I surveyed, I also checked their own number of facebook friends. Here are the results:

So, as you can probably see, there's not a really strong correlation. Hell, there's not really a correlation at all.

  • According to averaging copious data on opinions, the most social optimal number of friends to have on a social network is 165
  • The average number of friends is 292
  • Thus, most people find themselves not socially optimal
  • I have WAAAAY too much time on my hands

Friday, December 12, 2008

Song of the Week -- Week One -- Magic Hours by Explosions in the Sky

Alright, so I'm going to try and do a weekly 'feature' type thing, creatively entitled "Song of the Week." My plan is to expose you (the loyal reader) to a new song, and hopefully band, that you haven't heard of before. It's my goal to try and vary the genre, and I'll TRY and update regularly, but if I forget, let me know and I'll put a new one up.

For the first week, let's take a look at a band I'm guessing none of you (save Alex?) know of: Explosions In The Sky. They're widely considered a post-rock instrumental group with sweeping pieces. Live, they consist of three guitars and a drumset (though one guitarist often switches out for bass) and they tend to stick to that in all of their stuff. And, as a plus, it's entirely vocals-free :D

The song I'd like to share is called Magic Hours. It's an eight and a half minutes long masterpiece, a musical journey. It starts of with a guitar ostinatto that's repeated for the first minute, during which time bass, drums, and a second guitar enter. After, drums drop out, and... Well, I'm not going to describe the whole song to you. Just listen for yourself:
(NOTE! This link is posted for educational purposes only. If you like the song, buy it.)

This is probably my favorite EITS song, and one of my favorite post-rock songs. The second half, starting at about 3:23, they introduce the new ostinato figure that sticks with it for a long time and starts the four-minute crescendo till climax, which is beautifully done and is virtually unparalleled in modern music.

The use of distortion that starts at about 6:15 is absolutely brilliant and only adds to the... freneticness. Also, for those of you familiar with music theory, I love their use of suspended pitches..!

See you back in a week. If you like their stuff, GO BUY IT. If I catch any of you downloading it semi-legally, I'll punch you in the gut. Seriously.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Twilight Review!

Twilight, for a long time, was an enigma to me. And, far as I could see, an enigma it would remain. After all, I had no urges to join the tween girl phenomenon. But eventually, through forces beyond my control, it was pushed into my hands and I was forced to read. If you're pressed for time, here's my review in four words: What's the big fuss?

I suppose it's easiest to compare Twilight to the Harry Potter series. While this comparison does have some merit, it isn't entirely accurate. In fact, it is closer to plain inaccurate. To me, Stephenie Meyer is an underdeveloped JK Rowling. Her style is very similar, almost to a fault, just not quite as distinctive.

The similarities are more easily noticed than the differences. Both authors seem to bestow upon their protagonist a sort of likable dislikability. Bella is meek when you want her to be assertive in the same ways that Harry is self-centered when you want him to think of others. In the real world, this would, of course, make you rather unlikable, but merely makes the both of them all the more endearing. Both take a genre (fantasy) not oft-visited by the masses, particularly with the teenagers they're targeted at (and even more so with female teenagers, with Twilight) and make it appealing by diluting to, for fans of the genre, an almost sickening extent.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

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