Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What's Portuguese for Opossum?

Back in July I was plagued by a problem—there was a noise I needed to recreate and I had a limited schedule of rehearsals of Cat in the Hat to figure it out. This was aside from the other initial problem I had when first approached to do the show, which was not knowing whether it was a book about a cat inside a hat versus a feline with fashion forward style.

It was an easy mistake, people. Also seriously, children's books have LONG SINCE jumped the shark, with such notable titles as these: "Mommy, Why is There a Server in the House?" and "It Hurts When I Poop!And my personal favorite:
Is it wrong that what I actually find offensive about this is the father's hair?

Needle is to Haystack as Noise is to THE WORLD

Now back to the noise.


I tried asking friends who are musicians. I went to local music shops that specialized in unique instruments. I tried the larger chain stores that promised to teach its incoming patrons to be a genius on guitar in ten lessons or less. And in attempting to imitate the noise with my voice, I got a lot of strange looks and very little else in return, outside of an offer for the first guitar lesson for free so long as I'd stop scaring the other customers.

I came back home and tried to Google it. But, that in of itself surmised my problem: how do you Google a noise? How do you describe a sound?

I'm Copyrighting the Idea for the App for This
Time was creeping by. I was working under multiple hats for the show (sound designer, composer, live musician and sound effect maker) for an amazing local theatre company, Bay Area Children’s Theatre Company. They do wonderful work and I was lucky to work for them. There's no punchline coming up with this paragraph, btw. I am unabashedly plugging BACT. Go see a show and see why it's worth it to pay for live theatre again.

If you know your Dr. Seuss, you’ll understand why I was on the hunt for noises that sounded like chaos; I was looking for sounds to help underscore the moment when two characters, Thing 1 and Thing 2, destroy everything in a house. I had several noises in mind, noises I had access to (discordant toy piano, cymbals crashing, off-tempo booms on drums). But, this infernal unknown noise kept popping up in my head as a potential alternative. Rehearsals were flying by and the rest of the design continued on, leaving my anonymous noise in the dust. All I wanted was to Shazam my my voice and call it a day. The technology is there but my app--YouToot, as I like to think of it--doesn't exist. Yet.

A Seal Giving Birth or a Manakin Mating Call?

He is. Just watch him dance.
I couldn't let it go. Even long after the show ended, I kept looking--er, hearing for it. When asked, I described the sound as, “somewhere between a tropical bird honking and a harbor seal having a baby.” If you Google that you immediately get routed off to the Everglades National Park Flora & Fauna website, which was interesting but not exactly helpful. 

One thing that occurred to me though, upon reading about the size, weight and nautical speed of an alligator, is that the sound I was convinced existed (contrary to the raised eyebrows I got when describing it) sounded organic: it sounded like a living thing. And therefore, could be created through some form of friction, either air passing through, quickly, or a skin of some sort was being stretched and rubbed for the effect of an exaggerated squawk. This was the first clue. 

So, in combination with the fact that I knew this instrument wasn’t your average string, wood or brass instrument, I started to look up weird percussion instruments, and just for fun, weird percussion instruments that you’d find near tropical birds. This in turn brought me to the courting noises of the manakin bird and this illuminating video of animal noises in different languages, which reminded me of David Sedaris' Christmas essay 6 to 8 Black Men.

Now you see how this process easily could get off track. Eventually though, I stumbled onto Brazilian Samba percussion instruments, which finally brought me to the cuíca.

Meet Caluromys Philander, the Bare-tailed Woolly Opossum, aka La Cuíca

This little weird creature wrapped in what looks like green leathery felt (we're coming full circle now with animals and clothing) makes an odd, high-pitched sound. It's native to Brazil, and as such is called 'la cuíca' colloquially. I'd like to note that on the possum's wikipage it is classified as "Least Concern" on the scale of conservation status. Aside from the offensive nature to being a least concern to humans, I feel like taking the International Union for Conservation of Nature aside and pointing out the incredibly fertile ground for new, creative naming opportunities they're missing out on here. How about, "We didn't even know you existed so that's probably why you're still alive! Yay!" which pairs wonderfully with the updated extinct status, "We didn't even know you existed so that's probably why you're now all dead!" and the ever-hopeful, "You shit gold, therefore you shall become our idol. Praise thee, non-humanoid creature." By these new naming standards I've just come up with, I would like to knight the Bare-tailed Woolly Opossum with the conservation status of, "There are too many of you to kill and we don't eat your meat that much. Go, thrive."

Meet Puíta, the Brazilian friction drum, aka La Cuíca
Not the lady. The hand drums next to the lady. Focus, people.
Anyway, going back to the unique sound this animal makes, there is an Afro-Brazilian friction drum, a cuíca, which (you've guessed it) apparently sounds just like its namesake, the cuíca opossum.


The way the instrument works is there is a piece of wood stuck in between a regular cylindrical open-ended hand-drum, and the friction of rubbing the wood stick up and down with a cloth causes a vibration into the skin of the drum. These vibrations ripple outward, thus creating a series of tonal noises and screeches, depending on the strength and pressure of the strokes. If you Google it, you’ll hear my tropical bird and/or harbor seal giving birth, although sadly there aren’t many demonstration videos of its opossum namesake. Here's a professional cuíca player:


After all that, I was content I didn't end up using the noise. For one, the good quality ones are expensive and even the fake ones involve using two hands, which I was not able to spare while playing discordant piano noises, crashing a cymbal and kicking a bass drum. But, knowing what it was felt cathartic—I hadn’t been going insane, this was something that existed and continues to be a vibrant, if not quirkily unique, addition to musical world.


Sound is Stories
After going through this round robin research it ocurred to me that if I had had the name cuíca to begin with, I would have had my answer weeks in advance, whether or not the sound was appropriate. For three months all I wanted was to Shazam my description or my voice and call it a day. I know the technology is there--but my app, YouToot, as I like to think of it, doesn't exist. Yet. However, even the process of finding this sound has now in turn become a story to tell. Kind of meta when you think about it. When I told Dad about this he gave me this book for Christmas. Fiona gave us mudmasks. 
A Baker Christmas: Pores and Patents
The issue of not even having a language to describe all the noises we experience every day gets to the heart of why it is I love expressing stories with sound. It is a fluid processs of discovery. While I didn’t end up using the cuíca as part of my design, it is just one of a myriad of instruments I’ve come across while trying to find the most fitting audio to tell a story. For many people, stories are considered as existing solely within the domain of words. Yet, the first stories were all heard and memorized, passed audibly from group to group. Kind of like... the story of Jesus.... and how that was first told and retold. 

What? I'm trying to link this to Christmas as much as possible, guys. 

Sound is Community
But, seriously. Think about it. The birth of Christ was first experienced aurally. Well, not for Mary. I'm pretty sure she felt that one (although you could argue hearing is feeling--I'm sure pregnant women everywhere would argue there's a difference between music and your vagina passing a baby). For the rest of us though, the most important story for the majority of the Western world was aural in nature for the first 1200 years of its existence. Gutenberg's and Luther's Bibles weren't printed until the 1450s and 1534, respectively, even though requests to the Holy Roman Empire for colloquial translations started as early as the 8th century. Not to hammer the point home, but when you think about it further--and this is the part that warms me to the core--each Sunday this story is still being told. As opposed to an hour of quiet reading time at Church, we're hearing this story each week. 

Sound is communal in nature. And I find personal meaning in openly connecting and re-connecting myself over and over with the aural world. It's why I am a sound designer. It's definitely why I am a musician and a performer. In my ever-growing search for the right sounds I am comforted that there is probably a noise--or measured silence--to tell even the smallest stories. The question now is how to find them--and how to hear for them. 

-Beryl


p.s. the average speed of an alligator has been clocked around 10 mph. But, consensus is that they can go much faster in short bursts. And if you are more than welcome to test that theory.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Body Aware, Part 2: The Civil War Veteran I Owe My Life To


For the record, I don't identify as female. I'd feel weird if people suddenly tried to call me "Mr. Baker." So, I am somewhere in between. And when I think of how see myself today, this is what comes to mind:


The Pinterest of my manhood: a fox, a Beatle, British schoolboys, and Mary Martin.


But, when I came out it was another story altogether. Two solid facts were the bane of my adolescence: no, there wasn't a switch that was going to flip on that would make me crave boys. But, more upsetting than that was my body: I had boobs, and a butt, and some chub on top. Oddly, being a little overweight wasn't so much the issueno, no, what was devastating was that I had a classic hourglass figure: I was far from looking like my inner-boy. Meanwhile my inner-girl suddenly had a lot more assets (ha) on hand than she knew what to do with. 

It was time to make a decision.

Titian, Eat Your Heart Out. 

I made the wrong decision.
Damn, I wish I was your lover.
Seriously, though, I got rockin' curves—if I wanted to become the world's next best thing to burlesque I probably could have traded in my dapper hat for some pasties a long time ago. Initially though, I tried to placate the assuming eyes around me—for several years—and went in the exact opposite direction of what I desperately wanted. But, instead of going ultra-feminine, I still played it safe, and even worse, went unfortunate-feminine:





Between 1996 and 2006 there was a dramatic increase in my wardrobe of sad Mervyns' blouses--you know the type. The ones with "inventive" takes on the button-up shirt, so as to make something deemed masculine queasily feminine by adding such darling embellishments as pre-cut 3/4 sleeves, billowing frills on the front, dramatically pinched-in sides, scooped necks, and belts sewn into the waist. 

Long jean skirts happened. Shapeless jackets with smatterings of embroidery that looked more like stains than decoration happened. Off-putting and not-color-coordinated dangly necklaces happened. There were broaches, bracelets, anklets, gaudy rings, toe rings--all just for the sake of portraying "feminine."

It was like if life-size Barbie got a paint-by-numbers makeover. 

Not you, Toddy. You're lovely.
And it was bad.

Disguise, I See Thou Art a Wickedness

I know, I'm making it sound like torture when it really just sounds like an elongated episode of What Not to Wear. And you could easily blame this all on the 1990's.



However, that chapter of playing woman still stings; it's when I made my first entrance into the world of sexuality and gender—and I chose to reject myself. Failing to stand up for myself, coupled with thinking I was gross for wanting to date girls, was a raw deal. It left a mark. I still have a hard time looking back at pictures of myself during those years.

Eventually I found my confidence and it helped to have family that did not treat me like I had a third arm growing out of my chest for being queer. And for what it's worth, I know there is much more to a person than what they wear. It's just that for me, what I choose to wear makes me feel free of being a “woman.” And that freedom is priceless. I even remember that when I began choosing clothes for myself I felt like a gender refugee, wondering if I'd ever meet anyone else that had escaped, too.

So, years later, when I learned about Albert, I knew I had to share.

The War of White People Aggression 

Oh you know he would've worn them.

As an historical event The Civil War always seemed somewhat daunting to me. When I was a kid I just remember feeling overwhelmed by it as a subject of study: there were so many stories written down and photographed for the first time in history that it just felt too heavy, which is silly considering that portable cameras were only invented a few years before. Technology wasn't that fast-paced; this war was far from being live-tweeted. Yet, even the NY Times is wrestling with this behemoth by hosting a Real Time blog of the Civil War. It's entitled "Disunion." There's also an exhibit going up currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the photography of the Civil War. I think it's safe to say Americans are still uncomfortable about the reasons behind and outcomes of this war. And for years I instinctively shied away from dipping my toes into it.

Then one day I saw Ken Burns' documentary "The Civil War" pop up on my Netflix. And then that turned into 14 hours of my life spent absorbing pious version after pious version of Ashokan Farewell, gorging myself on box after box of white cheddar Cheezits. I became entrenched (ha) within the world of this War. Obsessed. And now I see every inch of our society coated in the anger, the entitlement, the shameless racism, and the abhorrent egos that got us involved in attacking one another in the first place.

But, I'm not discussing all of that today. No, instead, I'd like to focus on one person—one private in particular.

Meet Albert D.J. Cashier

Albert was born in the small fishing village of Clogher, Ireland in 1843. A Capricorn, he hadn't yet turned 18 when South Carolinians fired on Fort Sumter in April of 1861, which effectively kicked off the War. At the time of the infamous attack, he was living in Belvidere, Illinois, working in a shoe factory. Albert had a history of working the family farm in Ireland and knew grueling labor. And when war broke out, he enlisted.

He was small for his age, contracted chronic diarrhea, but did "as much work as anyone in the Company," according to a fellow Union soldier. He managed to survive the war and was honorably discharged at the end of it, almost exactly three years later in August 1865.

Oh, and also, Albert was born Jennie Hodgers.

Clothes Make the Man

No, I don't know what Albert's sexuality was. No, I have no secret letters written between him and a lover named Annabelle, whom he met during the War after she had fled her overbearing father's plantation when he discovered her fooling around with her childhood schoolmate behind the levee, and how Albert had run into her while she was fleeing late one beautiful hot summer night, and taking pity on the beautiful, but obviously Confederate, woman, Albert taught her how to fish using a technique he learned growing up in his old fishing village—the same village whose constricting Catholic dogma drove him to flee for a new beginning, just like Annabelle, only to be thrown into the tempestuous emotional fires of Civil War—

...but, it'd be a kick-ass romance novel, wouldn't it?

ANYWAY, to be clear about what IS known: Albert D.J. Cashier's family knew full well Albert wasn't born Albert; they knew he'd be more likely to get a job (and earn more money for the family) as a man. So, they encouraged it. Moreover, Albert chose to identify as male, as exemplified by what he did next.

Note: I am calling Albert, Albert--not Jennie, not her, not zim/hir/zir/em/per—Albert. Or D.J. if I'm feeling nostalgic for Full House.

Just stop it, already.
Regardless of how he was indoctrinated into living as a man, Albert chose to live the rest of his life that way...and as militantly liberal as it sounds, I want to respect that. 

Cars Break the Man

So, 50 years go by. Then, as is wont to happen in life, someone hits you with a car and everyone freaks out that they’ve been having dinner with a transvestite.

By the turn of the century, Albert had built a life as a handyman in Saunemin, Illinois. He had a small house to himself and did not marry, and worked for years for one family in particular, the Chesbros. They became close; they ate together.

One day in 1913 while at the family's house, working presumably, Albert got hit by a car, which broke his leg. Now, given his unique circumstances, Albert had avoided any formal body inspection by doctors.

Even while sick during the War, Albert avoided treatment for fear of being discovered. He went on to apply for veteran's compensation, but upon being asked again for a health review, he chose to go without for decades. Eventually he fought for (and won) compensation without a doctor's prying eyes. But, the broken leg led to his secret being revealed, first to the Chesbros, then to local doctors, then to the press, and then to the Federal Government.

Soon thereafter, the state of Illinois declared Albert insane for being what we would now simply call gender queer. Albert died less than a year later in the Hospital for the Insane in Watertown, Illinois.

Wait, Wait, Wait. I Need Something Positive From This.

Thinking that Albert had been taking advantage of The Bureau of Pensions (the US Department of Veterans Affairs wasn't formed until 1930), the Federal Government did a formal investigation. They interviewed his comrades to corroborate his work as a soldier and good standing/qualifying status for veteran's compensation. Amazingly (this was 1914, people) every single surviving comrade stood by him—and demanded that he receive a true soldier’s burial, in uniform, with full military honors, no less.

And it wasn’t as if the family just handed Albert over to the Feds. They actually tried to keep his secret a secret, knowing full well the negative repercussions its revelation would incur. But sadly, the Chesbros couldn’t maintain proper care for Albert in his poor health and old age. So, they admitted him to the Soldiers and Sailors Home in Quincy, Illinois—he was a veteran after all—thinking he’d be safer there. However, once moved to the home, Albert’s “true” identity spread like wildfire.

Unlike the Federal Government, you see, the people that surrounded Albert saw him for who he was—beyond the clothes and beyond what he had underneath them. They saw Albert as…well, Albert.

The Craycray Agenda


What caught my eye with Albert is that unlike a lot of other Civil War non-cisgender soldiers, he dressed male before and after the War, which is why it surprised me that historian Elizabeth D. Leonard persisted in calling him Jennie Hodgers and/or “her” when describing the vet. One passage in particular from her book All the Daring of the Soldier* stung the most:
During her time at the state hospital, Hodgers was also required to resume the attire of a woman. According to a nurse who worked at the hospital at the time, Hodgers, who she described as a “dear and loveable patient” never could accustom herself to wearing a dress…the nurse reported, with the obvious confusion of pronouns that such a situation produces, Hodgers “would pull his skirt between his legs and pin it together to make pants.” [p. 189]
Leonard speculates this nurse that cared for Albert was afflicted by an “obvious confusion of pronouns” in that she persisted to call Albert a “him” and not “her.”

But, I beg to differ.

I think this nurse knew exactly who Albert was. 

Boys Do Cry

After reading and imagining this old handyman in an asylum, trying to pin his dress down into the shape of pants, I just broke down and cried. I sobbed openly in my tank top and boxer briefs until my eyes got puffy and my nose snotty. I cried and cried because staring back at me in a dingy photograph was someone I understood a bit better than most, hell, even modern-day historians can. For better or for worse, Albert and I have something in common—except he was a lot braver. I was never in danger of spying doctors, death or imprisonment. My family was supportive—is supportive. Last week for my birthday they gave me these:

My family in a nutshell: they think they're hilarious.
The point is I live in a city surrounded by supportive people, most of whom I don't even know. But, all of these people, my family included, wouldn't know to be supportive had people like Albert not existed. He demonstrated that the quality of his character couldn’t be judged solely by his exterior, but instead by his actions and ethic.

So, thank you Albert. Thank you for going for it. You might not have won that last battle, but for queers like me, you won the war; you proved we were here. We were always here. And we keep coming.

It’s time to start telling our stories.

-Beryl

*Leonard, Elizabeth D. All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies. (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1999. First Edition), 185-189.





Saturday, July 27, 2013

Body Aware, Part 1: Mommy, Daddy, Don't Look!

I was two....ish.

And I was old enough to walk, albeit with a wobble*, and could piece verbs together with objects. But, I also had a problem with understanding tone and that there was a time and a place for raising the stakes on a situation. I just hadn't quite mastered the art of reacting appropriately to varying degrees of distress.


But, I had to pee, like REALLY bad.

Coincidentally, my bedroom shared a wall with the bathroom. But, with those wobbly toddler-old legs, I couldn't be trusted to get there in time. And I had... a history... of being slow on the potty-training-train, so I was sensitive to disappointing my parents (again) in this particular area.

Luckily, both of my parents were fully distracted in conversation.


Ipso-facto, I could get away with peeing and they wouldn't know right away...if I was sneaky about it.


However, I was SO proud that I had learned the Always Use the Toilet rule (finally), and I wanted to share this moment with them.


But, I also didn't want them to know that, even after remembering this rule, I was still choosing to not follow it.


So. I came up with a brilliant idea.


And you can guess what they then did.


They failed at following my brilliant idea.

...So, Yelling at People, "Don't Look at Me!" Gets You the Opposite Result


When you don't want people to look at you, it's generally understood you DON'T call attention to yourself by yelling at the very people you want to hide from. This concept was new to me at the time of twoish.

And sadly, I have to report, I still haven't quite learned that lesson. And Facebook just enables this.

I posted this slightly-crazed plea the other day, thinking it was totally normal to use a social media networking sight to state my gender-queer issues and sensitive sense of self-identity.


To be fair, it was in part because I had received lots of messages/random prods from lots of random people about photos that had started to pop up on multiple peoples' Facebook accounts of a show I'm doing. In that sense, I was then targeting the same forum that had begun the unwanted attention.

Even so, right after posting this, I realized my fateful, familiar flaw:  that there would be a slew of questions/curious and confused comments on what exactly I was talking about in the first place.

Luckily, I know a lot of rad people who just took the high road of not asking what it was I was wearing in the first place.  And hey friends: thanks for taking the high road! Because I failed at doing so.


 But, then the comments kept coming.


 And coming.

 And coming...

And in the classic American-guilt sense, I was suddenly aware of the fact that by the very act of asking the masses something, I got a massive response. Even if the request was, "Don't talk to me about this."

Apparently, I still need to work on my methods of communication. Or, just buildinganeffingbridgeandgettingoverit.

However, the discussion on projected gender identity, as it is obviously very important to me, whether or not I want to admit it, I will discuss in an alternate post, soon to come up, that will tie in both a historical queer figure AND come full circle with my own weird issues on clothing.

But, in the meantime, just remember:



Sometimes you get exactly what you ask for.

-Beryl


*What's the adverb of "wobble" ? Wobblingly. That's right. Now you know why I didn't use it.




Monday, July 1, 2013

Sir Mix A Lot v. Robin Thicke

I've been having an issue.

It's with the latest song "Blurred Lines," Robin Thicke's catchy summer hit.


You've heard it.

If you haven't, then you've decided that the internet does not exist. Or you don't listen to the radio outside of NPR because the classical music station moved to South Bay and the radio reception is terrible. In which case you're my mom. Hi mom.

In order to explain my issue with this song, and basically with Robin Thicke's latest image in general, I'd like to use Sir Mix A Lot to illustrate my point.

Do you remember Sir Mix A Lot?


Now you do.

And yes, that's him standing on a cartoon butt.

I LOVE Sir Mix A Lot.  Love.  Him. I love "Baby Got Back." I love this song so much I actually cannot handle talking about it without listening to it while typing. And while it has a measly 6 million views on Youtube in comparison to the 75 million views Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" supposedly has, if you asked the average 20/30/40-year-old-American, they'd be able to quote the first 50 words of "Baby Got Back" word. for. accurate. freaking. word. And I'm not even talking about the spoken monologue in the beginning. Now THAT'S a marketing impression. And a pop/rap music legacy to respect.

Meanwhile most of Robin Thicke's 75 million listeners would just know a four-word line in particular that is repeated over fifteen times. I'll come back to that later.

Score 1 - Mix A Lot.



I Know I Want To Look Like It.


So, Robin Thicke is an attractive guy.



He's got the smoldering eye look down. He's got the bad-boy thing going. He's got the hair that isn't thinning anytime soon. He's attractive. I completely agree. Being a dyke doesn't mean I'm handicapped when it comes to male sexiness. If anything, as a baby butch I'm probably more painfully aware of male fashion trends than you will ever be.

So, I agree:  he's hot.

But, his song is disturbing.

Look at His Lyrics


I'm not the first person who is cringing slightly whenever this song comes up. (See this tumblr.)

I think the average pop music aficionado would say the two songs "Blurred Lines" and "Baby Got Back" are pretty equal when it comes to objectifying women. I think most would argue that the music videos aren't much different, either, when it comes to women scantily dressed dancing and gyrating in the background of fully clothed dudes spitting lyrics.

But, I disagree.

Let's just go for a lyrical comparison:

MIX: I like big butts and I can not lie / You other brothers can't deny / That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist / And a round thing in your face you get sprung 

THICKE: If you can't hear what I'm trying to say/ If you can't read from the same page / Maybe I'm going deaf, maybe I'm going blind / Maybe I'm out of my mind. 


So far? Approximately a similar conversational tone, demonstrating the male gaze. But by the middle of each song, they take a dramatic shift away from each other. 



MIX:  I ain't talkin' bout Playboy 'Cause silicone parts are made for toys .... I want 'em real...I'm lookin' at rock videos...Knock-kneeded bimbos walkin' like ho's...you can have them bimbos I'll keep my women like Flo Jo 

THICKE: Okay now, he was close, Tried to domesticate you, but you're an animal, baby it's in your nature...You're a good girl...I know you want it, I know you want it, I know you want it 


Mix A Lot goes on to not only states he's against female cosmetic surgery but also manages to criticize the music industry's portrayal of women AND fits in a reference to African American Olympic medalist and fastest recorded woman of all time, Florence Griffith Joyner.

Robin manages to make it clear that he knows she's a good girl. But, she's an animal. Therefore, she wants it.

Score 2 for Mix A Lot.

...and 4 Olympic Medals for Flo Jo.

DEM NAILS

"If You Tell A Lie Big Enough And Keep Repeating It, People Will Eventually Come to Believe It" -Said Someone You Really Don't Want to Be Compared To


Robin Thicke says "I know you want it" about 18 times in the song. So, he's gotta be right, right?
She must want it if he says it enough. Or at least, it makes anyone of sane mind hearing it over and over again for four minutes and thirty-two seconds to think of all the scenarios in which a girl would somehow hint to a guy that it's okay he grinds up on her--and woah, woah, wait a minute, I'm justifying the number one classic rape line. 

And I'm a feminist...?

Oh, he's good.

Btw, the above quote comes directly from Joseph Goebbels.

The Nazi propagandist.

And yes, in bringing him into this argument I broke Godwin's law again. It's just so easy, you guys.

So, to review:


Yes.


Awkward.

For the people who are currently nodding their heads to the above image of that sexy, sexy Robin going, "But... I do want him," or "But, I do like it when my partner/fuck buddy is confident like this..."

Let me be clear: I agree he is FINE. Confidence is hot. 

But, just ask yourself:  what if a strange, ugly-ass dude came up to you and said this in your ear? 

I guess Robin Thicke really does get a Get Out of Creepy Card for being attractive. Which is superficial. But, more importantly, it's also about intent--Robin Thicke is (obviously) not really going to come after you and whisper in your ear that he knows you want it. He's just an R&B singer who does love songs and was handed a hit.

But, as life and art imitate each other on a routine basis, the problem is there is a group of individuals spread all over this country that really don't have innocent intent--that really aren't about being goofy and harmless, that really just want to get themselves off, regardless of who they're running over to achieve that goal.

I'll admit:  since I don't personally feel an attraction for him, I guess I don't quite understand the complicated nature of the appeal. I just have a visceral response to this particular performance of "confidence":  it screams self-absorption, it screams selfish. It screams I get off before (and regardless) if you do.

Women Do It, Too.


Ugh.

I hate admitting this.

I've definitely come across a slew of women who creep. me. the. fuck. out.

There was the girl who liked to crow that she could "convert" straight women and that everyone was secretly gay. There was another who bet a friend of mine money she could get a drunk straight girl to make out with her. And she actually asked for the money the next day.

Creep. Y.

So, I'm not just picking on Mr. Thicke:  REGARDLESS of who's doing it or why or where, if another WOMAN was being this forward/creepy I would be just as offended. 

Close friends of mine have been literally shoved around/grabbed/kissed by some idiot who has convinced him/herself my friend wanted it. And I mean said friend was just sitting down, watching tv, or leaning against a bar or just HAVING A FREAKING CRÊPE and from that, the take-away was THEY WANT IT NOW ?

Seriously?

So, Mix A Lot, you win. 


You didn't assume what the object of your desire wanted--you just were up and honest about what YOU wanted.

And you made some funny pop-culture references while doing it.

Kudos.



You Know You Still Want It:  It's Okay. I Do, Too.

For all the people who are creeped out by this song BUT STILL LOVE IT, I'd like to make something very important clear:  I don't think it's Robin Thicke's words you're loving.


No, I think you're loving the foremost melody and beats maker of our generation, Mr. Pharrell Williams. 


This man is actually a musical genius. 

He built this Billboard hit song.

And this one.


This one just came out 2 months ago.

And he's been working on hits for at least two decades, for example, he helped write on this 1992 hit.

Pharrell is really what made this song actually continue to get airtime on a massive scale. Male R&B singers are a dime a dozen (see: American Idol, seasons 1-12). But, producers who can create THE most seminal melodies and beats of our generation's youth? And have the financial backing to market the frack out of it? 

That's why you can't stop listening to this song. It was served up to you in the most accessible, enjoyable way possible. So, you want it.

And I don't mean this:


I mean this:



Which makes him hot.

But, not as hot as this:




-Beryl



p.s. Next week an analysis on how Mystikal's "Bouncin' Back" is one of the best recovery/self-empowerment raps since Thich Nhat Hanh's "Peace is in Every Step."