I, like the millions of other college students out there, listen to music while I study or do my homework. However, I’ve noticed recently that if the music has lyrics or some type of vocals that I will probably get distracted. I’m most productive when I listen to instrumental music, so I created another playlist for all you college students out there studying your brains out for finals. I recommend anything by the Piano Guys, particularly their “Love Story Meets Viva La Vida” (it’s not on Spotify). Share what songs get you focused while studying in the comments below!
“Love Story Meets Viva La Vida” by the Piano Guys:
Warning: “Shenzou” from the Gravity soundtrack and “Czárdás” may be too epic for your studying session, depending on what you are studying.
When I was a junior in high school, we had a project where we had to make some sort of satire (just like the movie Mean Girls, which is coming to its tenth anniversary…jeez, I’m getting old). There were many forms of satire we could attempt, but I ended up choosing to “mock” a popular song. Basically I had to take the melody and rhythm of some popular song and make fun of something.
Obviously I chose to utilize Beyoncé’s “Halo.” Like, how hard would that be.
As it turned out, incredibly hard. As a male with a deep voice, singing any kind of Beyoncé, let alone “Halo,” is not an easy accomplishment. The funny part is that I did not realize this until the night before the project was due. I had decided to record the song to see how I sounded before I would “perform” my hit in front of the class. When I listened back to my recording I was all:
I’m not a terrible singer or musician, I’m just not Beyoncé (sad face…sort of), and I was trying to be…make of that what you will….
Needless to say, every time I hear “Halo” I’m reminded of that disaster and I always cringe. Which is why I can only listen to Beyoncé’s music in small dosages…any prolonged listening session reminds me of the night I decided to become Beyoncé.
Tonight, however, I decided to listen to “Halo” on repeat. Apparently I’m a masochist.
Actually, no. I’m tired of running from my fears or my mistakes. I’m tired of being embarrassed of things that may or may not have happened. I know life is too short to worry about things, but until now I never lived with that PHILosophy (see what I did there…my name is Phillip…philosophy…PHILosophy….hehehe). I’ve just decided in the last five seconds that I’m not ever going to hide myself again or avoid being myself in the company of others. A group of idiots may have had a problem with that when I was in high school, but you know what, I don’t care anymore. It’s like what Hagrid says in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:
“There’s some who’d always hold it up against yeh … there’s some who’d even pretend they just had big bones rather than stand up an’ say — I am what I am, an’ I’m not ashamed.” (HP4)
So, I may not be Beyoncé. Who cares? I’m Phillip. And I think he’s pretty awesome.
P.S. I decided to name "Halo" by Beyoncé as #PhillipsSongOfTheDay because of the above story, but also because I think Ryan Tedder did a #fab job with the production…the drum beat and piano really make the song, in addition to Beyoncé's vocal performance.
The other day, my friend and I had a discussion about why HarryPotter is considered a children’s book and not an adult book, given the rather lengthy nature of the prose, the darker themes (Rowling said once in an interview that her mother’s death was “splashed” across all the pages), and the violence (particularly in Deathly Hallows) in the books. Ultimately we concluded that the magical environment of the Harry Potter books sort of align with fairy tales and could, rather lamely, be considered “childish.” We did, however, argue with this conclusion given that other fantasy/science fiction books, like The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, were classified as either young adult or adult even though they held magical/fantasy elements. So what kind of book are the Harry Potter books?
Today I walked into the children’s room at the library where I work and the children’s librarian, as usual, said “So, how are we tonight?” The children’s librarian is fairly new to our library, but we both happen to work Monday nights (I shelve in children’s where she works) and we have started having rather deep, in-depth conversations. It’s not uncommon for these conversations to be about Harry Potter, both of us being huge fans and both having been sorted in Hufflepuff in Pottermore, so I said to her “I have an argument I need you to settle.”
The librarian who was half way looking through an older book trying to decide if she should get rid of it looked up startled, “Oh?”
“My friend and I have been having a debate on whether Harry Potter is a children’s book, and, since you’re the children’s librarian, I want to know why,” I boldly stated.
She marked her place in the book, set it aside, and sighed, “Well, part of it comes down to the fact that she intended the books to be written for kids. A lot of it comes down to the intent of the author and publisher, like Scholastic doesn’t publish adult books.”
“So, for example, The Hunger Games books are young adult books because Suzanne Collins wrote it for young adults, and even though the violence level should make it an adult book?” I asked.
“That would be part of it, but you have to remember that the characters in The Hunger Games are teens, and in Harry Potter they’re kids who face kid problems. Like, the Harry Potter characters are still in school, they think like kids, and face similar emotions. It’s not like it’s written as a flashback or told from an adult perspective, the stories are told from the kids’ perspective.” She paused for a moment, shuffled her books, then continued, “Also, adult books tend to have people versus people, young adult books tend to have teen versus society, and children’s books tend to have kids versus some cause. So, The Hunger Games have Katniss taking on the Capitol and the revolution, and Harry is facing the usual growing pains while taking on Voldemort.”
“Okay, ” I said, trying to catch her off guard, “but don’t forget the books are incredibly long, arguably longer than most adult books. Even her writing style, word choice, and descriptions are more adult style. A lot of people think the books progress to be very dark and violent. Like, why is Game of Thrones considered adult when it takes place in a fantasy world and holds violence like Harry Potter” (if I had long hair, this is where I would flip my hair…also, I haven’t read/seen Game of Thrones, this is just what I heard about it).
“They don’t get long until Goblet of Fire, so the first few are manageable for a kid. And the themes of Harry Potter are darker, but they’re not like Game of Thrones that holds more violence and, from what I hear, a lot sex. And people often underestimate what kids can handle in terms of violence in books, I think it goes back to the idea of kids thinking themselves invincible.”
She then paused, reached back for her book, and said “Huh, that’s some good food for thought.”
I want to change my bio on Twitter (follow: @phillipjspencer), but I just don’t have the balls to do it. Currently it reads, “Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve – J. K. Rowling,” a quote from a Harry Potter book, and one that I hold dearly because it gives me hope that I may possibly achieve something someday. But then I was thinking how a quote, while important, does not stand out or grab a potential follower’s attention (which may be the reason I only have fifty-seven followers). I once read a bio of a Twitter page of a friend of a friend that read “I’m an eighty-year-old woman in a twenty-something-year-old body” and I just thought it was hilarious. Why can’t I do that?
While in this process of trying to create a new, fantastic bio, I finally thought up “All you have to do is sit back and be amazed.” I was impressed and inclined to make the big change, but then I started to think about how it may actually be received by audience members. While I thought it was intriguing and witty, it could potentially come across as conceited or arrogant. I intended it with humor, in an almost sarcastic way. In a way, the bio was meant as an indicator that my subsequent tweets would be both hilarious and serious (which they are, in my opinion).
However, I did have the fortune of taking a positive psychology class last semester and found that people who are more optimistic in life (and in their writing) tend to be more well liked and more successful. Since taking that class, I’ve realized how cynical and negative I tend to be – like complaining to acquaintances about school instead of championing a common interest. So remembering this got me thinking, is my new bio snarky/sarcastic? Would that win over potential followers? In a reading for a class I’m taking this semester, I learned that it’s better to be gracious and humble so that people will respect you more and relate to you better. Again, am I doing this in my new bio?
The answer would honestly be “no,” because while the new bio would represent my wonderful humorous side, it also does hold that deeper, darker passive aggressive side that would deter people, I fear. So it would appear that the hunt is once again on to create a fantastic new bio. In the mean time, I could always test out this new bio and see if my fears are actually right. If they are, then a change is always just a click away.
"Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve." – JK Rowling