Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Moves Like Dabo*

Did you know that there is a phrase in the college football consciousness "pull a Clemson"?  (Search for that, or typical Clemson, or something along those lines...)  Basically, it means that your goal is yours for the taking as long as you do what you're supposed to do and don't screw up -- but you do anyway.  For as long as I can remember, that's been emblematic of the Clemson football team, because I'm not old enough for the big days of the 80s when Clemson was busy being awesome on the gridiron.  This year, though, actually looks different.

It's a funny thing how that "always been there" kind of attitude affects you.  I cannot believe I am going to reference the Sing Off two posts in a row, but when Vocal Point, a talented group of Mormon boys, sang Ain't Too Proud to Beg on the show, I looked up from my smartphone where I was doing something completely unrelated and manly like reading about football and monster trucks and said, "This sounds really white."  (In the interest of full disclosure: I am allowed to say that, because I am really white.)  It made me appreciate the Rolling Stones in a way I never really had before, because they had always been the Rolling Stones -- this icon of music in a way that you just don't understand unless you know that they were one of the pioneers that broke barriers by making it ok to listen to music that black people made by trying to sound like them, like Elvis and other white blues musicians.  While that may sound vaguely racist, it was a revolution in all the positive ways that art is supposed to be revolutionary by sharing white and black experiences (which ultimately, are the same experiences, which wasn't really universally accepted in 1966, when the Temptations first recorded that song).

This lack of perspective is why people think that politics are the ugliest they've ever been right now or that Justin Bieber is the greatest musician in the history of musicians.  (Clearly Rick Astley is ahead of him.  [Interesting note: Rick Astley also covered Ain't Too Proud to Beg.])  It also leads to the strange acceptance of the status quo that Christians feel about their faith and what it really means.

Just like I've never known a world where Clemson didn't choke away ACC title opportunities or an undiscovered Rolling Stones, I've always been exposed to the Christian message that by faith and faith alone we are forgiven.  There's never been a discovery kind of moment like the first time you see HDTV or taste real vinegar barbecue sauce and think, "This changes everything." 

That's how Christianity is supposed to feel: revolutionary and liberating.  Christ's arrival changed the way that men and God could relate and broke down barriers that separated men from one another.  Those are no small things and because we've been steeped in the culture it's really easy to look at church and see something stodgy and establishment, like seeing Sir Michael Jagger and Keith Richards, cultural icons, rather than two kids from Kent trying to sound like Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley.  Most of us probably have never even heard a song by Muddy Waters or Bo Diddley.

Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley are key parts of the Rolling Stones' story, as 1981 and Frank Howard (and the football wilderness of the 1990s and 2000s, for that matter) are to the Clemson story.  The inaccessibility to God before Christ (and God's desire to bridge that gap as explained by the prophets) and the Greco-Roman concept of class are parts of the Christian story, too.  And it makes the whole thing look bigger.

*Title from this edsbs.com blogpost
**I just had to.  Here's the actual link.  It's not bad, really.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Singing off of what?

Dr. Sighted loves the Sing Off.  In the mornings, she occasionally makes me watch a Capella versions of Queen or Britney Spears or Daft Punk.  There are few things she likes more than people singing pop songs without music, and one of them is competing in things that aren't appropriately competitive.  So, really, this is a match made in heaven for her.  Or, at least, a heavily focus grouped Los Angeles boardroom.

It's actually a pretty entertaining concept, when they do a good job.  One of the groups did Video Killed the Radio Star that was better than the Buggles.  I don't remember if I saw it live or on Dr. Sighted's phone in the car.  The best part, though, is the talking from the judges and the host.

Nick Lachey hosts, and for a guy who used to be in a boy band and married to Jessica Simpson, is surprisingly wooden with every obligatory pun that he reads from the cue cards.  I don't know if he's thinking, "Dammit, I'm better than all of these jokers!" while he says, "We're going to see if the Ball State Ballers are going to get caught in a trap with this Elvis tune -- using only their voices!," but he is not acting like he is having fun, and quite frankly, that makes me have fun watching him.

The judges have their moments, too.  Shawn Stockman is like the wacky guy who has positive things to say.  He's also the most boring, because he's nice..  Ben Folds is also there, and I can't help but think that he's really Dana Carvey dressed as Ben Folds.  I know who he is and all, but I'm not convinced that he's a real person.  Ben Folds never fails to talk about the groove in every post-song commentary.  Every single one.  I have yet to know what any of them mean.

The best, without question, is Sara Bareilles.  I'm still not quite sure why she's famous.  Dr. Sighted has repeatedly told me that she sang, "Not Gonna Write You a Love Song," but I'm pretty sure that song is actually by Colbie Caillet.  (I saw her in concert by accident once.  [Isn't it weird that they both have unnecessary i's in their names?])  She is sarcastic, occasionally nonsensical, and sometimes mean.  Just tonight, she said something like, "I'm not sure if the reason I didn't like your performance was because you were trying to hard or your stage props but I just wasn't into it."  And then there was Nick, right on cue, saying, "Thank you judges.  And next we'll see if we can resist Vocal Point's version of the British Invasion -- using only their voices!"*

*None of the quotes in this post are real.