Thursday, April 29, 2010

Meeting His Honour, Lt. Governor, David Onley

Too tired to type up a full entry right now. Yesterday, I met His Honour at the reception for the Opening Ceremony of the Southern Ontario Model United Nations Assembly (SOMA), organized by the grade 12 students of UTS.

It was fun.

Today, we opened the first day of model assemblies and it was very fascinating to watch. Kids these days are so smart!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Life is a Ballgame by Winona Carr

As I was driving to church this morning with my dad sitting beside me, listening to the CBC, I heard this song.

Life is a ballgame
Bein' played each day
Life is a ballgame
Everybody can play
Jesus is standin' at home plate
Waitin' for you there
Life is a ballgame, but
You've got to play it fair.

First base is temptation,
The second base is sin
Third base tribulation
If you pass you can make it in
Ol' man Solomon is the umpire
And Satan is pitchin the game
He'll do his best to strike you out
Keep playin' just the same.

Daniel was the first to bat
You know he prayed three times a day
When Satan threw him a fast ball
You know he hit it anyway
Job came in the next inning
Satan struck him in every way,
But job he hit a home run
And came on in that day.

Prayer will be your strong bat
To hit at Satan's ball
And when you start to swing it
You've got to give it your all in all
Faith will be your catcher
On him you can depend
And Jesus is standing at Home Plate
Just waitin for you to come in.

Moses is standin' on the side lines
Just waitin to be called
And when he parted the Red Sea
He gave Christ is all-in-all
John came in the last inning
When the game was almost don
Then God gave John a vision
And he knew he'd all ready won.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hands Held High by Linkin Park (Explicit)

Turn my mic up louder, I got to say something
Lightweights steppin' aside when we come in
Feel it in your chest, the syllables get pumping
People on the street then panic and start running
Words on loose leaf sheet, complete coming
I jump in my mind, I summon the rhyme I'm dumping
Healing the blind, I promise to let the sun in
Sick of the dark ways we march to the drumming
Jump when they tell us that they wanna see jumping
Fuck that, I wanna see some fists pumping
List something, take back what's yours
Say something that you know they might attack you for
'Cause I'm sick of being treated like I had before
Like it's stupid standing for what I'm standing for
Like this war's really just a different brand of war
Like it doesn't cater to rich and abandon poor
Like they understand you, in the back of their jet
When you can't put gas in your tank, these fuckers
Are laughing their way to the bank, and cashing their check
Asking you to have the passion and have some respect
For a leader so nervous in an obvious way

Stuttering and mumbling for nightly news to replay
And the rest of the world watching at the end of the day
In the living room, laughing like, "What did he say?"


In my living room watching it, I am not laughing
'Cause when it gets tense, I know what might happen
The world is cold, the bold men take action
Have to react to get blown into fractions
At 10 years old, it's something to see
Another kid my age drugged under a Jeep
Taken and bound and found later under a tree
I wonder if he had thought 'the next one could be me'
Do you see the soldiers that are out today?
They brush the dust from bulletproof vests away
It's ironic, at times like this you'd pray
But a bomb blew the mosque up yesterday
There's bombs on the buses, bikes, roads
Inside your market, your shops, and your clothes

My dad, he's got a lot of fear, I know
But enough pride inside not to let that show
My brother had a book he would hold with pride
A little red cover with a broken spine on the back
He hand-wrote a quote inside,
"When the rich wage war, it's the poor who die"
Meanwhile, the leader just talks away

Stuttering and mumbling for nightly news to replay
The rest of the world watching at the end of the day
Both scared and angry, like "What did he say?"


With hands held high into a sky so blue
As the ocean opens up to swallow you


There are several reasons why I love their music, among them: their music rocks hard; they have sections of rap that is ennunciated clearly; and they write meaningful lyrics. Recently, I started listening to Linkin Park again and I was disheartened to find that some of the songs in Minutes to Midnight contain explicit lyrics. This never was the case in their first two albums, Meteora and Hybrid Theory. I acknowledge that there is a place for using explicit language in contempoary mainstream music, and if it's used appropriately the effect is moving rather than disgusting. One of the songs on MTM that can be considered as such is "Hands Held High (see lyrics above)."

For other reasons, I find this song quite sad and troubling, if I've understood it correctly. Clearly, the song is commenting on the Bush's administration and the war in Iraq. It's a call to arms to Americans to stand up and think for themselves, and not just eat up whatever propaganda the government and media dish out on a spoon. It talks about how people in the US are living in their own version of poverty, resulting in a slew of social problems. How can the Bush administration talk about taking care of problems in other countries when the US has their own to deal with? It also points out that innocent Muslims in the Middle East are suffering from bombings, too.

Then I hear this part of the lyrics about a man who carries a red book. I wonder, which red book? I have a Bible that has a red leather cover, but is that what Mike Shinoda was referring to? I looked up the quote that was written on the back of the red book, and it's by Jean Paul Sartre. There is one fellow who claims that it's by Karl Marx and that's just grossly misinformed. That quote is from act 1 of the play, The Devil and the Good Lord (1951). The red book is probably not a copy of the play because the quote was handwritten presumably by the brother, and not printed by the publisher. Is the little red book referring to the Mao Zedong's book? The quote by Sartre actually makes sense in this context because Mao's communist campaign was all about bringing down the rich and wealthy capitalists whose sole interest is in exploiting the poor. "When the rich wage war, it's the poor who die."

What did Mike Shinoda mean when he wrote those lines of the lyrics? Some think that he's projecting socialism as a solution to some of the problems in the US. Others think he's idolizing Mao and Communist ideology, which I find skeptical. What is clear is that the brother who carries that book is portrayed in a sympathetic light in the song.

Then there's the part where "Amen" gets repeated over and over again. And then the lines "With hands held high into a sky so blue / As the ocean opens up to swallow you." The imagery in the first line is beautiful, and in the second, terrifying. When I read the first line, I think of people who are at a Christian music concert, or at church, who have both hands raised high above their heads. This is how Paul the Apostle prayed, and probably many more like him and before him. Is Shinoda making a comment about Christians, then? Is he saying that Chrstians are praying and believing in something that appears so beautiful, but in reality it's something that will smother us or swallow us up? Is he saying that Christians who believe in praying to God are no less blind than the people who believe in the anti-Muslim/anti-Islam propaganda? Is he saying that praying is an ineffective way of addressing current societal problems?

Even if Mike Shinoda were sitting right in front of me, and if I were to ask him these questions point blank, I doubt he'd answer them directly and succinctly.