Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Profound thoughts on a skibob

I've been writing this post in my head for weeks, but I'm only just getting around to getting it out of my head and putting it on the screen. I'm wondering what kind of direction this post will go? The reason I've been dilly-dallying is my thoughts are unorganized. I feel like I'm on the cusp of something very profound, but I'm afraid I'm going to miss the boat.

It's actually more like a skibob that I'm going to miss, rather than a boat (some people say skido. Same thing. It's a skibob to me). But whatever you call it, you know what I mean, right? The yellow, floaty, bullet thingy that you pull behind a boat for the people too chicken (or not athletic enough) to waterski. Yeah, that thing. Well, you know when you fall off and have to figure out how clamber back on while it's bobbing in the swell? You're floating awkwardly, lifejacket up around your ears and shivering violently, and you try to throw your leg over like you're getting on a horse. But since you're floating in the lake, and the skibob is on the lake, even getting your leg up six inches out of the water (and staying vertical while you do it) is a ridiculous challenge. More challenging then trying to get on a thoroughbred without a mounting block (it seems). You manage to catch the edge of the skibob with your foot, but as you're hanging there, trying to figure out what the heck you're supposed to do now, you start falling backward in slow motion, pulling it with you. Then all of a sudden you're horizontal and the skibob is scissored between your legs until your wet heel slips off the side and the skibob pops out and shoots away, taunting you with its serenity and lazy, drifting spin. Once . . . twice . . . after the third try and a lot of dramatic splashing to cover your swearing, you decide to switch tactics. Now you're trying to jump out of the water like a dolphin and land across the skibob on your stomach. But before trying it for the first time you have to debate how it will look less stupid: from the back or the side? You do some test runs and decide definitely the side. Thinking graceful, dolphiny thoughts, you LEAP! out of the lake. But you can only make it partway out of the water and cling to the skibob stubbornly a moment before sliding off, then rolling under. You keep your grip and the skibob is upside down when you flounder out from under it, and then you have to figure out how to get it turned back over. And all the while everyone is watching from the boat while waving that damnable red flag that seems to scream "Dummy over here!"

That's what this post has been doing in my head. Round and round the mulberry bush, eventually you have to side-stroke over to the boat, towing the skibob along, and use the ladder to get back on from the back of the boat. Although honestly, as a kid, once I got to that point I usually just kept going up the ladder and got back on the boat. "Are you done?" my mom would ask. And I would quake out, "Uh huh," between blue lips. Mindy was always much more of a skibobber than me (uh, but she can waterski too . . . that crack about not being athletic enough to waterski was just for me).

Anyway. Back to my profound skibob thoughts. Thought. Whatever. Let's throw the analogies out the window and just see how it comes out.

First of all, I think this is going to be one of my last posts about the garbage I hear on the radio. Which is a little bit sad! I've been forced to listen to the radio for the past few weeks because my iPod has been broken. But Apple replaced it for me, so soon I'll be jamming to my own music or listening to books on tape. Sans DJs! Ah, heaven. The only glitch is that the computer that has our iTunes library on it is on the fritz, so I have to wait for Danny to work his magic.

That said . . . I was listening to the radio a couple of weeks ago, and the DJs were chattering about the annoying things people post on Facebook. As always, I have no clue what station I was listening to or who was speaking. But one of the DJs started ranting about how annoying he thinks it is when Facebook people post the lyrics of their favorite songs.

My first reaction was surprise. I guess I figured that, as a DJ, he would be appreciative about that kind of material in a Facebook post. Isn't that what being a DJ is all about? Enjoying, celebrating, promoting music (and music artists too, I suppose)? Isn't Facebook the perfect forum for lyric-posting? We all have enough Spam in our e-mail inboxes . . . if people are going to be posting lyrics somewhere, then I would prefer for them to be posted on something like Facebook; it's one less thing in my inbox.

However, I don't think the DJ cared or thought about song lyrics as potential spam. I think the point he was trying to make was his annoyance with the people who are posting song lyrics, and that they have no original thoughts of their own to post instead. He side-stepped around saying it explicitly, but he was basically accusing anyone who posts the lyrics of a song on Facebook--rather than writing their own--as plagiarizing, idiotic fools. He was annoyed at the decline of our society.

I wholeheartedly disagree.

Not about the fact that our society has declined. Ha freakin' ha . . . can we say: "Grammar musings"? I think I write about grammar (and lack thereof) enough that this next comment should not be a surprise: our society has totally declined.

So it's not the state of our society that I disagree with, but rather I disagree with the idea that people who post song lyrics are plagiarizing, idiotic fools. I think that is a completely unfair, inaccurate assessment. I do think it's sad, but for a wholly different reason that has nothing to do with the intelligence, supposed intelligence, or alleged lack of intelligence of the lyric-posters. Hey, if they include the songwriter or at least the person who sings the song, then they're obviously not plagiarizing. Plagiarizing is defined on Reference.com as "the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work." If the Facebook-lyric-poster is including someone else's name, even if the person doesn't know the songwriter, and even if their English teacher would have marked points off for incorrect bibliography format, I still give them an A for Effort. Because regardless of formatting issues, they're obviously not plagiarizing or trying to pawn the lyrics off as their own. I wish I could have said to the DJ: "Cut them some slack!"

Plagiaristic issues aside, I think that song lyrics have just become a new form of poetry for the masses. Back in the day, especially before television was around, poetry was a form of entertainment for all. Families would sit around the fireplace and read poetry by the light of kerosene lamps. Not just poetry, dur, but remember my whole point is that I'm talking about song lyrics. Other types of literature are a whole separate matter I'm not getting in to at this time!

Okay, okay, okay. It wasn't that long ago. My joke about television was an exaggeration, if only a slight one, about how long it's been since families and other groups would read poetry aloud to each other. Some families still do--mine, for one. But one can't deny it is dying out as a form of entertainment, and that (finally!) is what I think is so sad.

I don't think we should pick apart the citing method of Facebookers, nor should we crucify someone for sharing song lyrics instead of Emily Dickinson or Edgar Allan Poe. If people aren't reading the famous poetry anymore (aloud, at all, or as much), at least they're still getting some kind of pleasure from the written word. At least they're not just humming dumbly along, unaware of the words. At least they're doing some research outside of school. Sure it would be more culturally beneficial if people would read a little Shakespeare, perhaps post a sonnet to their Facebooks instead. But if song lyrics are all that we've got, then we should just be glad that people are still sharing and rejoicing in the words, even if now it's electronically instead of verbally.

I think it's a "take what you can get" type of sit'iation.

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