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Miscellaneous

Where The Crawdads Sing Book Review

There’s honestly nothing better than sinking your teeth into a fantastic book over summer break. I picked up “Where the Crawdads Sing” at their airport before a family camping trip on a whim and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Published in 2018 by Delia Owens, the novel, set in the late ’50s and early ’60s, follows the life of a girl named Kya. Left to fend for herself by her family, she lives completely alone in the marsh of North Carolina, surviving off mussels, fishing, and her love of nature. Around Barkley Cove, the small town she lives by, she’s known as the “Marsh Girl,” and is generally shunned by the community. Her isolation continues until her teens and early twenties when two young men stumble upon her shack hidden in the marsh. When one of these men is murdered, Kya is suspected immediately. As quoted by the New York Times Book Review, “Where the Crawdads Sing” is a “murder mystery, coming-of-age narrative, and a celebration of nature” all at once.

Kya is a fascinating character. After being abandoned by her family members one by one, her complete isolation leaves nothing but nature alone to raise her. As a result, she is highly intelligent to the environment surrounding her, despite her inability to read and having never gone to school. But, as all humans do, she craves love, touch and companionship, leading her to enter into two relationships with the boys from the Barkley Cove. She learns trust, heartbreak and love from these encounters, but it is apparent the neglect she faced throughout her life will forever mark her as “different.”

Delia Owens, a wildlife scientist by profession, wrote “Where the Crawdads Sing” as a reflection of her time spent in Africa, where she was completely isolated for months on end while doing research. Though “Where the Crawdads Sing” is neither about Africa or wildlife scientists, Owens wanted to write about what would happen to a woman left utterly alone for nearly her whole life.

The way she crafts the novel is fantastic, jumping back and forth between the murder investigation in 1969 and Kya’s adolescence in the ’50s. It all comes together in a satisfying, heartwrenching and completely unexpected way. I won’t say any more on that, but just know that your pulse will be racing and your jaw will be on the floor.

“Where the Crawdads Sing” is by far the best book I’ve read in a long time. It has a little bit of something for everybody and is beautifully written. If you’re looking for your next summer read before fall officially sets in, look no further.

Happy reading,

toad maiden

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Blog Miscellaneous Music Education Playlists

Oh, To Be At A Party

Parties. There’s nothing else like them. After a long week of classes, work, and stress, dancing and talking without having to put in much effort is a welcomed experience. Beyond the space, people, drinks, and lighting, one of the most important aspects of a party is the music.

I don’t claim to know how to make the perfect party playlist, but I do have a few ideas. First, make it collaborative. When there’s multiple people contributing to the playlist, you’re almost guaranteed that there’s going to be enough variety to satisfy everyone at the party at some point or another. Second, a good mix of electronic, grunge, throwback, and joke songs (that aren’t really joke songs because everyone loves them) makes for a great time. Finally, I’d recommend keeping the music loud enough that you can’t make out anyone’s conversation but your own, but quiet enough that you don’t get a noise complaint.

For some party playlist ideas, check out my playlist below (inspired by a real collaborative party playlist I recently made with some friends):

  1. “Bicep” by TR/ST
  2. “A.M. 180” by Grandaddy
  3. “Opus3” by dapurr, The Hellp
  4. “The Book Lovers” by Broadcast
  5. “Celestica” by Crystal Castles
  6. “Tu Tu Neurotic” by The Hellp
  7. “Rapp Snitch Knishes” by MF DOOM, Mr Fantastik
  8. “PHONKY TOWN” by PlayaPhonk
  9. “Miss Camaraderie” by Azealia Banks
  10. “Motion” by Boy Harsher
  11. “999” by PlayaPhonk
  12. “Go2DaMoon” by Playboi Carti, Kanye West
  13. “Linger” by The Cranberries
  14. “Idioteque” by Radiohead
  15. “What’s Important” by Beat Happening
  16. “Disparate Youth” by Santigold
  17. “Lake of Fire” by Meat Puppets
  18. “Hunker Down” by Corbin
  19. “EAST” by Earl Sweatshirt
  20. “Brick” by Alex G
  21. “Going Deeper” by Tree Threes
  22. “Melaleuca” by Yu Su
  23. “Call For Help” by Pearly Drops
  24. “Can You Feel It” by Mr. Fingers
  25. “vs Reality” by AYA GLOOMY
  26. “DotA” by Basshunter
  27. “Making Up” by Dead Mellotron

Click here to listen to the playlist on Spotify.

Here’s to Emma, Molly, and Gabe for their epic contributions,

Silya Bennai

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Miscellaneous

“Tweet Cute” by Emma Lord: A Book Review

“Tweet Cute” is a charming, captivating, and impressive debut novel by Emma Lord that came out in January of 2020. Lord brings a refreshing and new take to the world of YA romance novels. 

The main characters of this novel are Pepper Evans and Jack Campbell, two high school seniors living in Manhattan, New York. Pepper and Jack’s lives are intertwined in many complicated ways, some of which are unbeknownst to them as the book unfolds. But foremost, Pepper helps run the Twitter account for her family’s big fast-food chain restaurant, Big League Burger; similarly, Jack runs the Twitter for his family’s small business, a grilled cheese restaurant, Girl Cheesing. When Big League Burger launches an item remarkably similar to an item on Girl Cheesing’s menu, a Twitter feud begins, and it quickly becomes larger than life. Between the feud and them being the respective captains of their swim and dive teams, they’re spending more time together than ever before. As time progresses, their feelings toward each other become more complicated and they discover more secrets than they were ever expecting.

To me, what sets this book apart from others in the genre, is that it remains grounded in the fact that the main characters are teenagers. Oftentimes, dramas and romances across mediums will forget how teenagers act, either dramatizing them into caricatures of themselves or treating them like they’re full blown adults. Lord does an amazing job of capturing the awkward and tense essence of adolescence, never once wavering in this ability. Covering topics like family drama, college applications, unrequited crushes, competition between peers, and feelings of inadequacy, “Tweet Cute” fully captures the mindset of a teenager. 

This book is narrated by the both of them, flipping back and forth between their perspectives throughout the novel. Lord does an amazing job of writing both characters’ point-of-view distinctly and develops their individual voices with ease.

This book is just too cute. Granted, I love romance novels, but the plot alongside the romance was just as interesting as the romance. Although not far removed from my adolescence, this book took me back and put me in the mindset of my 17 year old self. 

I rate “Tweet Cute” five stars, I mean, how could I not? I highly recommend this as a fun and fast read. If you haven’t read in a while, this would be a great book to get you back into the swing of things.


Happy reading,
Caitlin

Categories
Miscellaneous

The World of Song Sorting

Around the age of 14, I stumbled across the Tumblr blog jesseepinkman (named after a Breaking Bad character), and on this blog there was an array of something called “song sorters.” The premise of song sorters, essentially, is to find out your personal ranking of tracks on an album or an entire artist’s discography. How? You choose between two songs and tell the sorter which one you like best, and then through a long and extensive process of choosing between many different pairs (for the updated Taylor Swift one, it’s over 800 questions total because of the heftiness of her discography). You can say that you like both songs and thus can’t choose, or that you don’t have an opinion, but that’ll mess with the definitive ranking (some songs may be tied). There’s even a masterlist of topics that have been done before. While jesseepinkman isn’t the only Tumblr page to make these sorters, I would venture out and say their page is the most popular hub for song sorters.

The ranking process is fun and lengthy, as I usually like to listen to both songs back to back before I make a choice; it’s neat to analyze your personal rankings and to be able to share your opinion with friends or other fans of the artist, but in some cases the feedback to rankings can get borderline hostile. In certain social media communities (TikTok and Twitter spring to mind), it’s a popular trend to share your rankings of certain albums or discographies. Some commenters will often make hasty assumptions about a person based on their rankings. A popular presumption goes along the lines of “You don’t like [sad song]? You must not know what it’s like to be sad.” Comments like that are slippery slope arguments, to say the least, and seem counterproductive to what music is all about.

When an album comes out, or you’re examining the whole of an artist’s discography, it’s normal to have favorites and least favorites. Even my favorite bands and artists have worked on projects that I don’t enjoy, and that’s perfectly fine. Your least favorite tracks will be someone else’s favorites, that’s just how the cookie crumbles.

With that being said, it is so much fun to do, and if you’re ever bored and wanting to spice up your normal music listening experience, try a song sorter. Try searching up the name of the album/ band/ artist you’d like to rank, and then “song sorter” on the search engine of your choice to find what you’re looking for. 

Happy sorting,

Caitlin

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Miscellaneous

Ologies with Alie Ward: Podcast Review

Recently I’ve been obsessed with Ologies, a science podcast from Alie Ward. The episodes are hour-long forays into niche topics with incredibly knowledgeable experts. Alie is an amazing host, she asks the questions I am most curious about and also takes time in each episode to have listeners send in their own questions. She is great at getting fascinating stories out of every scientist (ologist) on her show. As someone searching for a career in science, hearing from people in wildly different fields has helped me in narrowing down my interests. Although, every episode is so engrossing that I often think about switching paths completely. Ultimately this is the perfect podcast for long car rides. You will definitely come across at least one new concept that will get you through awkward silences and conversation lulls.  

Episodes to get you started:

Wildlife Ecology (FIELDWORK) with Corina Newsome

Really loved hearing about the good and bad about field work. The bird calls were really interesting and made me want to get into birding. 

Sparklebuttology (FIREFLIES) with Sara Lewis 

So wild that these little bugs use bioluminescence to attract their mates. Basically the wholesome summer nights of catching fireflies are slightly more scandalous now. 

UFOlogy (UNEXPLAINED AERIAL PHENOMENA) with Sarah Scoles and Kate Dorsch

Ok so UFOs are real. Let that sink in. People have been seeing unknown objects in the sky for as long as we can remember. What was most interesting to me in this episode was that what we believe UFOs are changes based on time period and culture.  

You can listen to Ologies HERE on Spotify 

Hope you check it out and find something that excites you.

-DJ lil witch

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Miscellaneous

‘Work It’ Lives Rent Free in My Head

[This is image of Missy Elliot is by Josh A Katz, and is epic btw]

We’ve got a track review for you today. Well, less a review and more of an archeological dig because this song boggles my mind. You’ve probably heard “Work It” by Missy Elliot before, or at the very least you’re aware of the lyrics “I put my thing down, flip it, and reverse it.” Well, if you haven’t listened to it recently or deeply, give it a spin, because 1. It’s always the correct time for Missy Elliot and 2. This song is so freaking weird.

Let’s start out with the thing that drove me to make this an article: the sampling. I’m usually the last person on earth to notice samples, but this song’s sampling actually caught my ear because I had heard the song in question not five minutes before. The rhythm track is taken from Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” which incidentally is one of my favorite songs ever, and it’s a pretty good if unsubtle pull. Samples I didn’t notice include Run D.M.C.’s corny rhyming dictionary classic, “Peter Piper,” and the opening from obscure beyond old school song “Request Line.” The cumulative effect of this is a sparse but busy instrumental that feels older than the actual song. This song is only from 2002, which is about ten years younger than I had thought.

The production, like in all of Elliot’s work, comes courtesy of Timberland, who absolutely kills it. He brings musical ideas in and out at a speed that rivals Missy’s machine gun approach to lyrical topics. The early 2000s were the peak of Timberland’s powers, and this beat is one of his very best. The pop appeal is there, but the song is still steeped in hip-hop culture, and the sounds are just cutting edge and alternative enough to evoke his work with Beck and Bjork around this time.

But none of this is why “Work It” has so thoroughly lodged itself into my brain. This horrible affliction is all because of Missy Elliot. She is just not normal. I’m tempted to try and litigate all the beautifully psychotic bars on this thing, but we don’t have all week. Highlights include Lil Kim dating a pastor, Missy’s butt going “BUMBOMBIMBOMBUMP,” her strange lyrical riffs on “Puerto Rican Chinese boys,” her even stranger “Roots” references, and the clean version’s brilliant use of elephant noises (don’t ask). But honestly, none of these come close to the way she weaves between lines in forward and reverse playback. If you put the average song in reverse, the lyrics and tone turn into mush, but Missy’s flow is so incredibly tight that it forms more than a few bars that are perfect palindromes, and thus can be reused backward to disorienting effect. This includes the chorus, which is just one impressively long rhythmic loop played backward and forward to create a full stanza.

Alright, having listened to this song probably a dozen times in the past 24 hours, I keep noticing new details. Like how the outro is just hard cuts between downbeats of other sections in the song and the “Heart of Glass” sample being played on triangle and handbells, which should not work but absolutely does. However, if I keep going until we’ve talked over every strange detail it’ll drive us both insane. So, with a heavy heart, I must listen to other songs now. Needless to say, this song holds up to repeat listens, so uh…listen repeatedly I guess?

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Miscellaneous

Sitting On My Shelf: Album Reviews

My record collection has been gathering a lot of dust recently, I’ve been neglecting them in favor of new releases on streaming platforms. Today I decided to revisit my albums and spin my favorites again. I inherited most of my vinyl from my mom so there are a lot of 80’s new wave artists on my shelf. 

My Top 3 80’s Records 

Kate Bush – Hounds of Love

Kate Bush’s album Hounds of Love taken by author

This album is so special to me. Kate Bush’s vocals are ethereal and blend perfectly with the textured synths. Everyone should listen to this album all the way through. My favorites songs from the album are “The Big Sky” and “Waking the Witch”.  

The Sugarcubes – Life’s Too Good

The Sugarcubes’ album Life’s Too Good taken by author

The Sugarcubes might be best known for their lead singer Björk. Their debut album “Life’s Too Good” explores experimental, post-punk, indie rock and electronica. My favorites of the album are “Motorcrash” and “Delicious Demon”. 

The Clash – Combat Rock

The Clash’s album Combat Rock taken by author

This classic album is full of fight songs. A mix of rock and post-punk, “Combat Rock” remains The Clash’s most critically acclaimed album. My favorite tracks are “Know Your Rights” and “Straight To Hell”.  

My Top Recent Record

Ohioan – Empty / Every Mt

Ohioan’s album EMPTY / EVERY MT taken by author

Visually and sonically one of the prettiest albums I have. The twangy folk-rock inspired tracks have experimental elements that draw the listener in. The lyrics paint a picture of Appalachia. My favorite song on the album is “BAD ALTITUDE”.  

Hope this inspires you to dust off your vinyl and rediscover old gems. 

-DJ lil witch

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Miscellaneous

Tips and Tricks for Moving

I have lived in the same house my entire life, so when it came time for me to go to college in the late summer of 2019, I had never moved before. Granted, I have an older sibling who also went to college, and my parents have moved a countless number of times in their lives, so they were able to help me with that process. However, because of the pandemic, I had to transfer all of my belongings six (soon to be seven) times within the span of two years– and although the process never gets any less stressful, I have learned some tips and tricks along the way.

1. 30 Gallon Trash Bags are your best friend.

Especially if you’re not spatially aware (like me) it’s nice to have giant bags you can just throw random stuff in. They are especially useful for bedding (even when it’s folded, it takes up so much space) or clothing. I would advise against putting anything fragile in one of these but for fabric items, they work just fine.

2. Your belongings are probably not going to be organized the way you want them to be, and that is okay.

Once you come to accept that the whole process is going to be extremely stressful no matter what you do, it takes a lot of the pressure off. Obviously there are things that you can do to make the process easier (as that is the goal of this blogpost) but chances are, logistics will get in the way of perfect organization, and that’s alright.

3. Collect cardboard boxes in the few weeks/months before you’re about to move out.

If you don’t have room for boxes or don’t want them cluttering your space, collapse them and then reconstruct them when it’s time to start packing. 

4. Storage units are also your best friend.

If you’re going back and forth between two places (as is common for college students), the ability to not have to lug non-essentials back and forth is amazing. They can be somewhat pricey, but if they’re within your budget they are 100% worth it. 

5. Distract yourself with podcasts, television and music.

The process will not be fun, so you may as well make it bearable with media of your choice. Just be sure it’s not something you want to pay too close attention to, because you will be packing/unpacking your belongings and thus won’t be able to watch the screen the whole time.

6. Ask for help.

Along the same vein as the last tip, having help from family, friends, and/or roommates is indispensable. They can serve as a distraction, help or even just companionship along the way.


I hope these tips are helpful, and if you’re in the process of moving right now just know that you’re not alone. Hopefully one day we’ll finally invent teleportation and that’ll make everything 100% easier. 

Until then,

Caitlin

Categories
Miscellaneous

New Pants Track Review: 没有理想的人不伤心

If you’ve taken a foreign language in the last decade, you’re probably familiar with a very specific side effect where Google, unable to distinguish between homework and bilingual users, will give you recommendations in a language you cannot read for years. This is very annoying, and the type of thing you’d expect to be repaired by machine learning, given how much of our data is collected for targeted advertising, but it has some upsides.

Today I would like to introduce you to one such upside of my six semesters in Chinese language courses: New Pants. The Chinese band 新裤子乐队 which literally translates to New Pants Band (or, if you play with Google Translate enough, “Unused Breeches Orchestra”) was suggested to me by a still confused YouTube recommendation system, and I am entirely here for it. They play a unique blend of dance punk, indie rock, and new wave, and have been going strong since the late 90s. This makes them approximate contemporaries with American bands like The Strokes and The Flaming Lips, both in terms of age and musical style. However, the New Pants have seen relatively more commercial success and longevity than their English analogs, partially because, to the best of my admittedly limited knowledge, traditional rock music seems to be more successful in China than in English, Korean or Japanese markets.

I really don’t have the cultural context to do a full artistic profile or even album review for this band, so I’m going introduce you to my favorite song by this band: 没有理想的人不伤心. That phrase, “Meiyou lixiang de ren bu xiaoxin”, is made of some pretty basic words, to the point that I can roughly understand it has having something to do with imperfection and feeling sad. Google Translate gives something along the lines of “People without ideals don’t feel sad” which is a translation I’m suspicious of, but it ultimately doesn’t matter. The music gives a pretty good idea what it’s about, even if the exact lyrics are unclear. The song is raw and wistful, and it builds to a crescendo of the lead singer belting the chorus, which switches between the first person to express his feelings in pretty unmistakable metaphors. ‘I don’t want to stay underground,’ or ‘Ants scrambling around,’ etc.

The sentiment is, as near as I can tell, a bit more poetically expressed in the Chinese version, there’s a few pieces of wordplay to pick out, the rhyme scheme is complex, but it’s still a pretty simple song. It’s a power ballad about feeling trapped, the bread and butter of alt-rock. The quality of these kinds of songs rests on the emotional vulnerability and the expressiveness of the instrumentals, and those aspects come through regardless of the language.

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Miscellaneous

The Book Nook Pt. 1

If you look inside my closet right now, I have three full shelves dedicated to my collection of books, records and magazines. I know this doesn’t sound like a lot, but my closet only has four shelves total. Meanwhile, my clothes are haphazardly shoved into the remaining drawer and crammed onto coathangers.

I’ve invested a lot of time, energy and, to be frank, money into my little library. As I was reorganizing it last week, it seemed a shame that it was banished to the inside of my closet, never to reach the light of day. That’s why I decided to start this little series on my favorite books that I’ve collected over the years. Since most of them are music-related, I figured the WKNC blog would be the perfect place to do it. Without further ado, here’s this week’s installment of The Book Nook:

Book: Crossroads—The Experience Music Project Collection

Date Published: 2000

Rating: 9/10

Summary: Described as a “time capsule” by the Experience Music Project’s (now known as the Museum of Pop Culture) Director of Curatorial and Collections, Chris Bruce, this fantastic coffee table book is a glimpse into the history of modern pop music that defined cultural movements. The Experience Music Project was originally founded by Microsoft Co-Owner Paul Allen in 2000 as a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. His success at Microsoft along with his passion for classic rock allowed him to acquire an amazing collection of rock n’ roll memorabilia. This book is a compilation of essays written by the Experience team and photos of the most notable memorabilia the Experience has to offer. From the birth of rock in the 50s to the emergence of hip-hop in the 80s, “Crossroads” catalogs pop music in a fascinating way. Now, the Experience Music Project is known as the Museum of Pop Culture, and its exhibitions range from sci-fi movies to rare audio recordings of famous musicians throughout time.

Best Part: “Crossroads” first captured my attention when I saw Jimi Hendrix’s lyrics to “Belly Button Window” scrawled over the front cover in his signature messy handwriting. The third chapter, which is dedicated to Hendrix specifically, has to be the best part. After flipping through the pages, I was immediately hooked. I’m such a geek for anything Jimi Hendrix, and they dedicate a huge portion of the book to showcasing his many guitars, outfits and writing samples. Not only are the photos impeccably arranged, but also thoughtfully paired with informative essays.

Choice Photos:

From the chapter, “New Day Rising: Punk and the Birth of Alternative Rock”
From the chapter “Northwest Passage: All Roads Lead to the Mountains, All Driveways Lead to the Garage”
From the chapter “Experiencing Hendrix: Two Curators on the Meaning of Jimi to Experience Music Project, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Modern Culture”

Happy reading,

DJ Butter