Category Archives: Pop Culture

Take the Midnite Special and DubStep Into Deafness

Due to some house guests that I had to attend to for the past three weeks I haven’t been able to blog at all. Plus I’ve been feeling a little depressed recently and usually when that happens I drop out of things and disconnect from other people. Things are looking better though, I had a great visit with my son when he came up for a week over school break.

When I drove to Cape Cod to pick him up I also dropped off my two brother-in-laws. I get along pretty well with them but after a couple of weeks was happy to be driving them home. My fatal error was bringing the cable I have that connects an ipod to the car stereo. My brother-in-law hooked up his ipad and took control. He’s into, and I mean REALLY into, this reggae band called Midnite. They come from St. Croix, not Jamaica, so that immediately sends up red flags for this Reggae purist and aficionado. Have you heard of “jam” bands like Phish and the Greatful Dead? Well Midnite is basically a reggae jam band. Their songs are like ten minutes long. Supposedly they come out with three albums a year, so much for quality over quantity. My brother-in-law breathlessly exclaims that at the last show he went to in New York they played for four hours straight with only a short break. Uh, no thanks. I’ve never been into that kind of music, so I’m not faulting Midnite fans, it’s just not for me. In any case we all had to listen to how “Rasta to the bone” the lead singer was and other ramblings accompanied by some pretty generic and forgettable riddims. This was at a volume that surely voided any warrantee on the speaker system. I did get turned on to a Reggae artist from Guyana called Natural Black. He’s been around for a while but I never checked him out. He has a nice song called “Life be Same” on the Istanbul Riddim that you can watch on YouTube here.

After that I got to pick up my son and enjoyed a couple of memorable road trips back and forth from the Cape with him. On these drives we got a chance to talk a little about random things that interest twelve-year-old boys. Part of the time was spent educating me* on the new music “gamers” are listening to. They call it DubStep, It sounds a lot like techno to me but I’m just not hip anymore. At least there are no annoying lyrics like you get from pop these days. My son is amused that I’ve become interested in DubStep, and I found out why after reading about it on Wikipedia. Apparently it originated in South London and is derived from “Drum and Bass” and Reggae Dancehall Dj styles. The emphasis is usually on the third beat, just like Reggae, and most DubStep songs include a “bass drop”, which is also employed in many Reggae riddims. My son hates Reggae, and it probably kills him that DubStep is related.

It was sad bringing my son back to my ex’s house after a nice week together; but he had a lot of fun skiing, bowling (the only thing I can beat him at), shooting a shot gun, and exploring the woods with me. He’ll be back for more visits and I’ll get to see his hockey tournament in a couple of weeks too.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year to all!

* Playing his ipod through the car’s speaker system at decibel levels approaching a space shuttle launch.



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Google Trends: Miley Cyrus and Jesus Neck-In-Neck!*

*Alternate Title: The Evil Index and the End of the World

I spend a lot of time on Google trends ( plotting various search terms to see how their popularity has changed over time. Maybe I’ve mentioned that I’m obsessed with charts and graphs? Anyway, Google trends will show you what search terms are “hot” on a particular day (of interest to online marketers) as well as how different search terms trend via a nifty chart.

You can learn things from these charts. For example, enter “cookies” into the search field and you can see how much people all around the world search for my favorite food. Cookies show a strong seasonal trend, with searches spiking right around this time of year.

The really cool thing, to me anyway, is that you can plot multiple search terms on the same chart. Take the above example and plot “asparagus” and you can see graphically the relationship between cookies and asparagus and how it basically stays the same over about a decade. Link to chart here.

Don’t feel like clicking on links? The chart shows that asparagus (big surprise) has a much lower popularity than cookies. It also shows that asparagus has a seasonal trend as well, peaking during asparagus season in the early summer. Hmmm…very interesting. My curiosity encouraged me to search multiple combinations of terms to look for other relationships and distinctions.

Enter:The Evil Index TM

What would happen if you plotted something evil, something so hideously evil and abominable that nothing else could equal it? Well, I tried. I plotted “Satan” and it was comforting to see that interest in this search term had gone down over time. So are things so much more hunky-dorey today than they were six years ago? I don’t think so. Something must be going on.

Next I had to find a search term that measured something good, and holy and uplifting like puppies or Jesus. I entered “Jesus Christ” and waited. It took Google a few seconds to plot the results. I got anxious, was Satan going to beat Jesus Christ? The comforting answer came, Jesus kicks Satan’s ass! See link here. I breathed a sign of relief, that good had triumphed over evil, and so resoundingly. Why then, did Satan’s influence seem to wane in the past few years? If good so out-searched evil, why is the world still so shitty? Something must have replaced Satan as the most evil thing on the planet. I only needed to find something even more hideous and terrifying to chart.

All would be revealed when I started plotting celebrity names. Most of the time Jesus won out by a landslide, but there was one interesting development. It turns out that while Satan’s popularity may be decreasing, there is another icon of evil emerging: Miley Cyrus.

001 (3)While Jesus is still much more popular overall than Miley, the twerking demon has shown some strength in the past. Late in 2008, when the country was still reeling from the banking crisis and economic malaise, Miley’s popularity briefly exceeded Jesus. This was a dark omen. From there until late 2010 Miley and Jesus traded places on top of the search list several times, and then, Miley’s chart began to go the way of Satan’s, her influence seemed to fade. That was until the “incident” at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. I’m grateful that I don’t watch TV, so I was not directly exposed to this unholy spectacle, but the internet was on fire with Miley the next day. Thankfully interest in her has only very recently dropped off, but she is still almost dead even with Jesus in search popularity. This can not be good.

So I propose The Evil Index TM. Anytime Miley’s search popularity exceeds Jesus the index turns negative–the apocalypse is on it’s way. Anytime Jesus beats Miley it’s a positive measure, and we can feel hopeful that Judgement Day has been temporarily averted. I’m working on plugging these values into an excel spreadsheet and working out an algorithm to come up with a nice neat number for the index that I can chart.

The fate of humanity may depend on it.

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