Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Know Your Barry

1. He was born to a Kenyan father and American mother in Honolulu. As a child, he lived for four years in Jakarta with his mother and Indonesian stepfather. After high school, he moved to Los Angeles to study at Occidental College, and then transferred to Columbia University in New York City. He currently lives in Chicago. If elected as US President, he would be the first Hawaiian-Indonesian-Californian-New Yorker-Illinoiser to obtain the nation’s highest office.
2. In 1990, he was elected as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review.
3. He met his wife, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, when he worked as a summer associate for the law firm Sidley Austin (where she was a full-time assocaite).
4. He taught constitutional law (part-time) at the University of Chicago Law School from 1993 to 2004.
5. Is Barack Obama Muslim? No.
6. When Jay Leno asked him if he had smoked pot, he responded, ‘Not recently—that was in high school.’ ‘Did you inhale?’ asked Leno. ‘That was the point,’ Obama said.
7. Senator Obama has voted with a majority of his Democratic colleagues 96.7 per cent of the time during the current Congress.
8. During his Presidential campaign he has been endorsed by authors Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, comedian Larry David, actress Scarlett Johannson, wrestler Hulk Hogan, and former Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry. Oh, and Oprah too.
9. The current favourite to be his vice-presidential candidate is Junior Senator Jim Webb, followed by Senator Hillary Clinton.
10. At Pleasant Valley Lanes, Pennsylvania, he took seven frames to bowl a 37. His shoe size was a 13½.

Footnote: After publishing this post, I received this attachment in my inbox, with the invitation to use it as I wished.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

You know the drill, even if you have only imagined it. You’ve turned away, and you’re about to walk out the door, when suddenly you hear music behind you, and this voice telling you, begging you, to ‘stay’, possibly accompanied by kneeling and other theatrics. So what do you do? Well, it all depends on the song that’s being played – with over 700 songs entitled ‘Stay’ to choose from (at least!), the choice is crucial. Fortunately, I’ve come up with a quick guide to some of the more well-known variations. So let’s go (or don’t go, it’s your choice, right?)

Stay – Frankie Valli

Mr Valli set the standard for kneeling and pleading and other theatrics with this overwrought ditty. With each subsequent appeal to ‘stay, just a little bit longer’, his voice breaks through another sound barrier. In between, he tries to soothe his intended conquest with assurances that ‘your daddy won’t mind, and your mommy won’t mind’. Uh… yeah, right. That voice is impressive though, even if it did spawn thousands of bad imitations.

Action: Stay just that little bit longer, but only if he has back-up singers.

Stay (I Missed You) – Lisa Loeb

If this song was written by a man, it would be two lines long: ‘I stuffed up. Take me back (grunt).’ Since it’s written by a woman, and what is more, an intelligent one, it spirals off in five directions at once, not having the decency to stick to utilitarian constructs such as verses and choruses and guitar solos and so on. At least it can be said that anyone who goes to this much effort must be a keeper. Or is that someone you keep because you’re just too scared to lose? Heck, who knows? Grunting is so much easier.

Action: First, take her hand and calm her the hell down. Then look her in the eye and say ‘Er… so you want to move back in, dear?’

Stay – Shakespears Sister

Shakespears Sister may be best remembered as a pop band (if at all), but this is one dark and unsettling tune. The lead (Marcella Detroit) tells her beau that ‘I’ll go anywhere with you, just wrap me up in chains’ and that, in his dreams, he ‘must only think of me, there can be no in between’. Yes, the poor woman is a little devoted. The Cruella de Vil interlude sounds a tad camp nowadays, but its existence is validated by the absolutely spine-chilling scream that erupts at the end of it. A beautiful song, but my god, don’t play it if you’re alone and desperate.

Action: Hold her in your arms, let her cry herself to sleep, and then run like the wind.

Stay (Faraway, So Close!) – U2

Of all the songs about sticking around and whatnot, this one has the most appropriate structure, since it’s basically all leading up to a single moment. For the most part, the band just ambles along, and every so often build up a little… (is this it? No…) Bono narrates in his empathetic tone about a woman (I’m guessing) who is in far from the best of relationships. While his intentions seem pure enough, the earnest one gives the game away by saying that ‘if I could stay, then the night would give you up’. (This could be it… no, we have to wait another verse…) For good measure, he recites a list of cities that he could whisk her off to in his private jet: ‘Miami, New Orleans, London, Belfast, and Berlin’. Wait, here it is… ‘stay… with the demons you drowned, stay… with the spirit I found…


What a climax. I don’t think they heard you in the Andes, Bono.

Action: If you like being treated like a queen, you probably won’t get a better opportunity than this. Otherwise, make your exit and try and avoid the falling debris.

Sway – Bic Runga

Oops, it’s called ‘Sway’, not ‘Stay’. How could I make that mistake?

Action: Be careful. Someone is trying to fool you.

Stay – The Blue Nile

After the party, the comedown… For me, this song has a distinct early morning feel; tired, sad, a little numb, but oddly comfortable. ‘Stay, I will understand you’ goes the chorus, which is a very mature rejoinder to the ‘damn-it-all-let’s-make-love’ subtext of similar pop songs. (Of course, the singer may still be after sex, but he has a pretty way of hiding it.)

Action: Have that second cup of coffee, and chat until dawn.

Stay – Oingo Boingo

As befits their name, Oingo Boingo take an otherwise maudlin concept and infuse it with horns and an infectious beat. Eighties pop tragics will find it near impossible to resist the bouncy chorus (‘Go, don’t you go-oh-oh, won’t you stay with me one more daaa-aaay-ooh?), despite the fact that the song doesn’t make much sense. It’s not a party, it’s not a classroom, it’s not a funeral, so what is it? Either this is a truly unique relationship, or Oingo Boingo have been indulging in some ‘weird science’ again.

Action: Dance until midnight, then decide if you want to catch the last train home.

Stay – Eternal

When I was a young boy, I was seduced by the pretty harmonies and good-looking chicks. Over a decade later, I can now see it as pure pap. But let’s not be too harsh; it’s obviously a song delivered by teenagers for teenagers. There is even a knowing wink with the line ‘they say that love will come and go, but your love’s indispensable to me.’ Insert a rap verse and it could still be a hit.

Action: Stick around until the end of the school day, maybe tomorrow even.

Stay Away – Nirvana

‘Monkeyseemonkeydo, arrrrii! Grabametobacool, arrrrii! Henalihensarime, arrrrii! Hairsenoroneisblind, arrrii!’

Action: I’d do as he says.