What An Opportunity

Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

Beauty.

In Life on December 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm

 

Winsome array of pigment on leaves

She holds her hand on her first day of school

Laughter in the activities that bring us together

 

Beginning snow, through the glass, close to the flame

Satiated hunger…a place of warmth for him before walking the streets again

Anticipation pulling the child towards the chimney on the twenty-fourth day

 

Paths taken in light rain

Swallow’s song that gently lands in the ear and accompanies the heavy clouds

Flashes of the aureate and flavescent

 

The most wonderful shade of blue

The mess of ice cream before her mother takes notice

Walking through those fields of flowers in full bloom

 

That which persuades your heart

That which captures your wonder

That which makes you consider how you ever got along without…

 

That, which tugs at the strength of eternity, is beauty.

2 Chainz: the non-sequitur king of the world

In Culture on December 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm
2 Chainz is tearing up the mainstream hip-hop game right now, but I'm onto his method.

2 Chainz is tearing up the mainstream hip-hop game right now, but I’m onto his method.

I have a confession: while I’m working out, I enjoy “ratchet rap” – the in-your-face, ignorant hip-hop that is in no way intelligent or even moderately thought-provoking. Hip-hop gets me going in the morning and puts me to sleep at night. The genre is a major component of my life, and I consider it a true form of expression and a pivotal outlet for many kids who need the positive distraction. Some of hip-hop’s deepest modern artists – like Lupe Fiasco and Macklemore – send my head spinning and leave it in motion for days.

But some of the stuff just doesn’t make sense, and 2 Chainz is the leader of the tomfoolery. 2 Chainz is one of the hottest mainstream hip-hop artists right now. He even has a new Champs Sports commercial. Lately, as I’ve been running around my neighborhood or lifting weights in the gym, his illogical music has pierced through my headphones and left me thinking, wait … what in the world did he just say?

I may be the color of mayonnaise, but I’m onto you, 2 Chainz, and it’s time to inform the world.

The phrase “non sequitur” is Latin for “it does not follow.” As Wikipedia states: “In a non sequitur, the conclusion could be either true or false, but the argument is fallacious because there is a disconnection between the premise and the conclusion.”

When 2 Chainz is featured in songs – notably hits “Mercy” by Pusha T and “Bands A Make Her Dance” by Juicy J – he sticks to making obscure food references (such as ketchup, cheese, and bread) while discussing women in extreme detail, referring to alcohol and drugs, and displaying extreme affection for his coupe. But his most popular individual songs follow the formula below.

Step One: Come up with a really catchy beat

Step Two: Propose some deep, reflective question

Step Three: Respond to the question with a completely irrelevant, shallow line – videlicet, a non sequitur

For analysis, let’s look at his two biggest songs of late.

1. “I’m Different”

True difference is respectable and, quite frankly, it’s rare among stars in modern society. As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” So for acknowledging your difference, 2 Chainz, I salute you.

However, it’s unclear just how you are different. “I’m different, yeah, I’m different,” he raps in the chorus. Good! I’m glad to see that. Now tell us how you’re different.

“Pull up to the scene with my ceiling missing,” ummm, “Pull up to the scene with my ceiling missing.”

Question: what is so different about driving around in a convertible? Plenty of people do that. You just leave me wondering and never answer the question of how, in fact, you are different, 2 Chainz.

2. “Birthday Song”

Once every month at the student publication I run, The Spectrum, a few of the arts editors put together a Mixtape Monthly in which they review the hottest hip-hop set to release. In October, they described 2 Chainz’s “Birthday Song” as follows: “That song alone will have you ready to flip glass tables and throw diamonds into the crowd. If you have subwoofers in your car, we highly recommend playing this song as ride up music for anywhere you go.”

I agree! It’s amazing pump-up music, and it’ll probably get you more hype than anything from Lupe or Macklemore. But it’s from 2 Chainz, so does it make sense? Of course not. Look at the chorus.

“They ask me what I do and who I do it for.” I’m sure a lot of people have wondered this, 2 Chainz. Who do you rap for? Who was your influence, your role model to get caught up in this high-octane rap game?

“And how I come up with this sh** up in the studio.” You do think of some absurd lines. So what’s your answer? Who IS your inspiration? And how DO you come up with “this sh**?”

“All I want for my birthday is a big booty hoe.” Come on. You can’t be serious, man. “All I want for my birthday is a big booty hoe.”

I mean, if that’s what you really want, enjoy your birthday, but you still didn’t answer any of the questions you posed.

If that sequence doesn’t prove it, I don’t know if anything will: 2 Chainz is one of the all-time masters of the non sequitur.

Twitter’s Indelible Impact on Sports

In Culture, Life, Sports on December 14, 2012 at 11:59 am

Since its creation in 2006, Twitter has become nothing less than a societal phenomenon. Everyone, it seems, from famous athletes and celebrities to your corner grocer is tweeting and following others, trying to share their thoughts on the state of the world, stay up-to-date on their particular flavor of news or gossip, or just trying to rub virtual elbows with the rich, famous, and influential. The sheer number of people using Twitter today inherently provides the service with a tremendous amount of power; with a great reach to a vast audience comes immense opportunity. Social media  is a profoundly effective tool when utilized correctly, and what arena could be better-suited to take full advantage of these resources than sports? No entity’s success is more dependent on its engagement of the population than a sports organization, and no entity provokes the same kind of loyalty and passion within its affiliates. Indeed, a sports organization’s very existence is predicated on a mutually gratifying relationship with the fans. As a result, any athletic brand with some semblance of forward thinking is working hard on improving its social media profile today. It is critical to winning over the fans.

Consider Notre Dame Football’s Twitter profile as an example of social media’s evolution. One of the newest practices in college sports is to essentially tweet the play-by-play of an athletic contest.  @NDFootball tweets frequent updates during Irish football games, often maintaining a furious pace. ND Football tweeted 102 times on October 13, 2012, the date of Notre Dame’s overtime victory over Stanford; this was a vital date for Notre Dame because that win catapulted the Irish into true legitimacy on their way to an undefeated regular season, #1 BCS ranking and a berth in the National Championship game. These kinds of play-by-play tweets are such a cool way for fans to connect with the team, because unlike following on GameCast or another reporting service, a team’s official Twitter account has the element of being explicitly connected to the team itself, and the game updates are presented from this perspective. All this is very important to a shared fan experience. ND Football also live tweets from Brian Kelly’s press conferences on Tuesdays and his radio show on Thursdays, sharing information directly from the source with fans who hang on every word but could have never gotten into a private press conference. These kinds of things accentuate the strength of social media by emphasizing the immediate availability of inside information for fans.

If I could define Twitter in one word from a sports fan’s perspective, that word would be “access.” Access to this inside information, access to contact with athletes, access to places that were never navigable before. The thought of interacting with one’s favorite football team is incredibly exciting for any die-hard fan; yet via Twitter, this is a very distinct possibility. In a revolutionary turn of events, anyone has the ability to interact with any other person who has a Twitter account, including famous athletes and celebrities. I just imagine if someone would have told me ten years ago that I could have insight into the day to day thoughts of my favorite NFL players, and that I could tell them exactly how much I admire or revile them, I would have said that was crazy. How wrong I would have been. Twitter has brought fan, team, and player closer together, and this is truly a great thing for both parties.

Twitter has also revolutionized the sports world and its media outlets because of the nature of news. In the journalism business, arriving first to a story is a significant victory, but social media has taken breaking news to the point of near immediacy. As a result, the watchful eye of national/local media outlets can catch what insiders on these Twitter sites are divulging, and must be quick to immediately jump on the story. The staggering impact that social media has had on the reporting of information cannot be overstated. With Twitter, you do not have to wait a day for the local newspaper to digest the game and spit out a form article covering its events; you can follow it in real time, through the lens of an official affiliate of your favorite team. It is now rare to not have access to a blow-by-blow Twitter account of any major sporting event. That is a radically different and awesome opportunity that has not been around for very long, but it is spreading like wildfire.

Indeed, the impact that social media has had on the sporting world as a whole cannot be overstated. For fans, sponsors, and media outlets alike, through its immediacy and intimacy of information, Twitter has revolutionized athletics in an astonishingly short time. Twitter feeds share a common importance to fans; inside information. Sports fans rabidly consume information that they perceive as exclusive or special, and firsthand accounts from a source closely affiliated with an athletic organization definitely qualify. News has become nearly instantaneous. We can have virtual conversations with our favorite athletes. As a fervent sports fan, this is an exquisitely beautiful world to live in. Thank you, Twitter.