Music

A Film Festival And A Dance Battle

Found this great roundup of the recently concluded Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (ttff).

Great to see the films being appreciated, but even better to hear sound critical advice. Yes, our film-makers need to come from a more critical place, especially when making documentaries. We are presenting positive overviews right now, but I suspect as the industry matures, creators will worry less about offending sensibilities and start doing more to reflect the realities of the Caribbean experience, and start conversations we need to have before we chart our future.

I also came across this amazing dance battle on Twitter yesterday, filmed at the Montreal Swing Riot by Alain Wong. Street dancers faced off against vintage/swing dancers and the results were magical. It’s a bit long, but you won’t regret watching the whole thing.

Keep dancing your cares away, my friends!

Yes, Virginia, There Are People Of Colour In Your European Past

Been following this awesome Twitter account called Medievalpoc for a while now. The writer does amazing and important work identifying people of colour in European art history, especially during medieval times.

(Source: http://medievalpoc.tumblr.com/)

A lot of people have studied history and art and not been taught just how integrated the world was, and continues to be (do yourself a favour and look up the Silk Road). It’s a huge reason why when shows like ‘The Musketeers’ are produced and have people of colour as a main character, people come out of the woodwork to declare it ‘unrealistic’ or ‘inaccurate’. Truth is, we have the Victorian era to thank for erasing a lot of the multi-cultural eras that came before it, along with a lot of cherry-picking by historians who were more interested in finding ways to make the past fit their present.

Just so you know, ‘The Three Musketeers’–you know the book the series was based on–was written by a black man. Yes, Alexandre Dumas was black.

Star Trek Patrick Stewart animated GIF

Anyway on both Twitter and Tumblr, Medievalpoc has been working hard to compile evidence from the art and documents of times long past showing that the world has always been, and will always be, inhabited in every corner by people of colour. It’s important work, and fascinating, and I’ve learned a lot.

Take a look for yourself and tell me you’re not surprised and amazed by how much you didn’t know.

Have fun, and stay thirsty, my friends!

The Music Industry Needs A Black Box…So Does Publishing

Hey, the music industry operates a lot like the Big Six.

A really thoughtful article about the state of the music industry now, and the changes needed to grow it. Chief among them–transparency. Particularly about who pays who for what, and how much.

Sounds like the very thing authors–new and old–have been asking for from the publishing industry. Hence sites by self-published authors and blogs by other writers who try to breakdown payments to give new writers an idea of what to expect. Still, like the music industry, it’s big picture info we really need.

It’s time to admit that it’s probably not for the sake of authors that the publishing industry–just like the music industry–holds on to this culture of secrecy regarding how much authors are paid. Sure you have to respect contracts and obviously Stephen King doesn’t need me up in his business.

Disgust reaction gifs

But I can find out how much an entry level job at Google pays, and I can’t find out how much the average author at the Big Six made last year. Which probably leads to both unrealistic expectations and the ability to underpay deserving writers in some circumstances, if you ask me.

And it makes for some pretty low cheques in the music industry, apparently.

Oh well…not my circus, not my monkeys, right?

Right?

Disgust reaction gifs

Enjoy the weekend and remember to have one on me!

So You Think You Can Dance – Alien Robots!

I just had to share this.

Last night I saw what is one of my favourite routines of this cycle of SYTYCD, and probably one of my faves of all time. Virgil and Hailee are definitely two dancers I’m rooting for, but Hailee came in on the Stage team, while Virgil came in on my personal fave, the Street team. Hailee admitted just before the routine that she has training in Hip Hop. Boy does she ever! Check out their amazing alien robot routine below.

And because I can’t just give you one moment of amazing art, here’s a routine called the Hummingbird and the Flower, from season 3, which was just voted one of the all-time greatest routines on the show.

Stay thirsty–and keep dancing–my friends!

Trinbagonian Words And Phrases For the Expert Tourist

Some of you may have seen this clip of John Oliver calling out Jack Warner over the FIFA bribery scandal:

Needless to say, it did not necessarily go over well with all the citizens of my country. Many of us are embarrassed by the whole Warner thing, and some people felt Oliver was using our own language to mock us. Although I respect that view, I was more amused by his use of our slang. It had clearly been fact-checked by a Trinibagonian. That was, as I remarked on Twitter, advanced level Trini slang. Not the sort of thing you can grasp if you search Google for inspiration, or spend a week here.

However, I’m sure most people had no idea what he was saying. So this fun post was born, in which I break down the words and phrases used here, as well as throw in a few others for emergencies.

  • “Family, watch meh for ah minute nah.”  –  Family is a general greeting for strangers. Yes, I know, but that’s what it means. You would never refer to your real family by that word as a greeting. In fact, most people consider it slightly insulting if used–as it usually is–by men to draw the attention of a woman they find attractive (“Family, yuh looking nice”), but can also be used as a unisex word. When Trinis say ‘watch meh’ they mean, ‘pay attention’. We also like to say ‘listen nah’ for the same reason. ‘Ah minute’ is our standard phrase for a short time, and ‘nah’ is a general addendum that is just for emphasis (like, ‘you hear’ might be for an American Southerner). However, in other cases, it means no.
  • “Whas the scene?” – How are you? How are you doing? What’s going on with you? What’s going on here? What’s happened with you since I saw you last?
  • “I know yuh getting tabanca right now.” – Tabanca is a word to describe love-sickness, or the general malaise of someone who has lost their love and is deep in despair. It has come to mean anyone who’s in a deep depression over an issue, usually–but not limited to–affairs of the heart. Here, the tabanca is over the whole Warner / FIFA issue, of course. You can say someone ‘has tabanca’, but we also say they’re ‘getting’ it.
  • “Real dotish, ent?” – Really stupid. ‘Ent’ is another way to say, ‘right’, but with an emphasis on the word as though you are asking a question instead of stating a fact.
  • “Buh aye aye…” – Here, the last too words should be pronounced as though saying the first letter of the alphabet twice, only drawn out slightly. It’s a general phrase for ‘what the hell?’ or ‘what is this?’
  • “Doh hut yuh head.” – Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry over it. Don’t think about it.

And for extra credit:

  • “One time” – Immediately. As in, ‘I leave one time.’ This is also usually used in conjunction with ‘buss out’, which means to leave somewhere in a hurry. A common phrase is, ‘When I hear dat, I buss out one time.’
  • “Doux-doux” – Pronounced ‘do-do’, it means sweetheart, or honey and is derived from French patois. This one is less commonly used now than in years past. Your grandmother, or great aunt, is more likely to call you it than your significant other.
  • “Macajuel Syndrome” – The macajuel (ma-ca-WELL) is a large snake that lives in Trinidad and Tobago’s forests. Like all snakes, when it eats a particularly large meal, it will lie in one spot for hours or days, unable to move, in a type of lethargy until the meal is digested. When Trinbagonians say this, they are referring to sleepiness, particularly the sleepiness that comes over people after a large meal, or just after noon. We will say, ‘How yuh looking sleepy so? Like yuh have Macajuel Syndrome?’
  • “Lime” – Although we do have the citrus fruit, this is also a verb here, meaning to hang out or party. Someone will say, ‘Ah going an lime by my cousin in Couva. Coming back later.’
  • “Badjohn” – Someone you don’t want to mess with. A criminal or bully, or just someone who thinks they’re tough. Pronounced by running ‘bad’ and ‘john’ together quickly as one word, with the emphasis on ‘bad’.

And that’s it for now! I might do this again if people like it. Heaven knows we have enough slang to fill many, many posts 😉

In the meantime, enjoy a little bit of Trini music to ‘lighten the scene’ (make things fun):

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Taylor Swift Is Alright With Me

I like Taylor Swift and I’m not ashamed to say it.

I don’t, in fact, think she writes bad music. I like her tunes, I rock out to them all the time, and her Bad Blood video was everything, dahling, just everything.

Does she sometimes come across as the branded version of every good American girl a good American guy ever lusted after in a John Hughes movie? Sure. But it’s not her fault she happens to be blonde, talented and beautiful. And good for her, she also comes across as someone who has a sense of humour about herself and doesn’t really let what others think of her change what she likes about herself. As a feminist, I enjoy seeing a young woman move through the world confidently, living life as exactly the kind of woman she wants to be, and although the music industry famously warps everyone, Taylor still seems to be the same kind of likable girl we met when she was in her teens, despite the best efforts of most tabloids. In that, at least, she has beat out Miley, Lindsey, Hilary and a bunch of others.

However, what really made me like her recently is her stand against not being paid for what she does. Few artists have used their likability and success to actually stand up for principles that benefit the little guy. Most just use it to bankroll themselves. But twice now, Taylor has taken a stand against systems in the music industry that don’t pay performers properly for music. Withholding her massively popular album has served to spotlight practices at Spotify. And now, she has done the same thing with Apple, who intended to withhold royalties from artists whose tracks were downloaded during a user’s free three month trial period. Her latest stand against Apple was brilliantly explained. Apple does not give away its services for free, so they should not ask performers to do so. Only someone possessing no heart could fault it.

I never thought Apple had a heart (or rather, if it had one, it was a monstrous, misshapen entity, made up of the madly beating nerd hearts that gave out while standing in line for the newest variation of iPhones and iPads). But heart or not, they actually responded to her elegantly stated position by changing theirs.

This is big. Really big. Because for too long now, the internet has encouraged an entire generation to believe that entertainment should be free. Piracy is rampant in the music, publishing and film industry and in order to combat it, some industry leaders have tried and failed to plug leaks, while others have simply made as much content as possible free, at least for a time.

Giving away work for free is not a solution. What it does is enrich corporations, who can wait for profits, while seriously hurting artists, who are often on the bread line before they see a penny back from those long hours in a garage putting together demos and tracks. In the case of writers, it takes years to get novels done, and we already get paid a fraction of the sticker price of our own work unless we jump on board the Smashwords and Apple train, or sell our soul to sites like Amazon.

Problem is, Amazon is also a big company who can wait for profits. So it does things like arbitrarily reduce royalties on audio books after buying up Audible. Or change the rates on a programme because writers, you know, joined it. It can change the way it decides to price or market your book in KDP select without any consultation.

This basic disrespect of content creators comes in part from the false ideas that everyone can be a writer, and readers will pay for any book because they don’t care where they came from, they just care about the book. That’s not true anymore, if it ever was. Frankly, not everyone can be a GOOD writer, and most readers would like to pay for something that’s good.

There is some evidence that ebook sales are leveling off. More importantly, self-publishing and making money from it are not, and have never been, the same thing. Still, every writer should choose the path to publication they are most comfortable with because every path has drawbacks and positives. For me, not getting paid has never been something I’m comfortable with. I love writing. I want to do this full time. But I have a family who depends on me. If writing doesn’t pay my bills, I will have to try something else and let writing remain a beloved hobby. I’d rather not do that.

The creation of content, written, audible or visual, demands real money, time and work. Just because you can get something without paying, doesn’t mean it cost nothing to make. Artists deserve to be paid for it the same way everyone else gets paid for their work. Deciding that because it’s on the internet it should be free is simply a way of saying you don’t care what it takes to create content and you don’t want any more of it. If you like something, the only way for an artist to produce more is if they can feed themselves and their family doing it. If they can’t do that, why should you expect them too keep feeding your hobby? To keep entertaining you for free?

So I’m with Taylor. If you want to give people a free trail, do so by all means. But bear the cost yourself. Don’t ask artists to do it. If you want to enjoy an ebook, or music, or a film, consider buying it first. Respect the creator enough to acknowledge their right to earn a living from their own work.

But if you really can’t do that (writers and musicians are just a subset of broke people, after all), then at least advocate for what you love. Help boost the signal. Leave reviews for books on Amazon and Goodreads. Tell friends about your favourites. Someone with the money to buy the product might see your review and give a new artist a chance.

Support your habit. Support artists. Pay it forward. Because I suspect Taylor Swift is totally down with that too.

Taylor Swift Zendaya animated GIF

Stay thirsty my friends!

Carnival Time Again

It’s Carnival time here again in Trinidad and Tobago and if you know me, you know I love to talk about my country’s biggest festival. It literally sweeps everything from our mind and gets the body moving to the music. It’s just one week away, with this Friday being Fantastic Friday and I’m looking forward to the long, long weekend as I’ve taken vacation for the entire week! I might even go to town and chip with the bands on Carnival Tuesday this year because I’ve got time to rest and recover.

In any case, as with every year, there are new tunes out for the season. I haven’t done a music post for a while so I thought I’d treat you to a few of the more popular Carnival tunes this year. See which you think will be the most popular and win the people’s award–the Road March!

(Hint, it’s the first one up lol.)

Enjoy and stay thirsty, my friends.

 

 

Good Quotes– A Brief Guide To Extempo Calypso And Some Epic Insults

I have always been addicted to quotes and a good insult. Must be the Trini in me. We love to end an argument by just shutting it down. We even have a form of improv calypso that we call Extempo. It’s two contestants getting on stage with no idea what the topic will be. The only know the tune. When they get the topic, they have to rapsodize on it better than the other guy. Extra points for skewering your opponent’s answers in an insulting way in the ensuing back and forth. As you can imagine, it requires you to be very smart, very aware of current events, and very quick-minded. When you get two good contestants, whoa, watch out.

When I started studying European history for A levels, I found myself admiring Disraeli, Churchill and the like. Once upon a time, people really knew how to debate in Parliament without giving an inch, I tell you.

So when I found this I just had to share it. I’m giving you the gift of truly great insults for your New Year.

You’re welcome.

Quotes I Love

Soca Music on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’!

Yep.

One of the routines on Fox’s dance competition, So You Think You Can Dance–which I am a huge, HUGE fan of as a former dancer myself–actually featured a very popular soca tune that played a lot during Trinidad’s Carnival season.

Although it’s not sung by Trinidadians–who actually invented soca–it’s definitely very familiar to all of us. So as part of my Friday feature (sorry I bugged out on you last week!), enjoy this taste of Caribbean music.

I can’t say the routine was all that great. The show has definitely featured better, including some on this season. Like this one:

And this awesome group routine:

Amazing right? Even if dance isn’t really your thing.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

I Don’t Like Cricket…I Love It

Yes, you read that right. I am a die-hard cricket fan.

For those of you from North America out there, I can see the puzzled looks on your faces.

For those of you from Australia and India, I know you are nodding sagely because you know that anyone from the West Indies is most likely a cricket lover. And even if they don’t love cricket, they follow the West Indies team and have an extra bounce in their step when they win.

I have a reason for bringing this up, and no, it’s not to clue my blog friends into just how uncool I am (because you probably figured that our already). I bring it up because right now, my mind is pretty much focused on cricket 95% of the time, and I’m fairly sure it will affect my blog posting, at least until Sunday.

That’s because the ICC World T20 tournament is winding up to the finals this weekend, and my team, the West Indies, has two semi-finals tomorrow. The women play the second best female team in the world, Australia, early tomorrow morning, and after that the men play the second place team from the last tournament, Sri Lanka.

West Indies is one of the most beloved teams in the world of cricket, and once upon a time, for a very long time, we were the undisputed best team that ever walked the earth. But now we are trying to rebuild our lost legacy, and the newest cricket format–called 20/20 or T20–is giving us a chance to do just that. Eighteen months ago, we won our first World title in a long while in this very competition. There were doubters then and now, so it is very gratifying that we have once again made it to the semis, and more gratifying that once again,  both the men and the women have qualified.

However, these matches will be very difficult, and if we win, I will be on tenterhooks until Sunday, so don’t be surprised if I don’t post much after this.

If we lose, I will be crying into my beer, and be completely unable to post due to my soul-crushing sorrow.

So do me a favour. Whether you’ve ever really heard of cricket before this or not, feel free to say a little prayer for my teams tomorrow. Every little bit helps, after all.

And as a little thank you, enjoy the sounds of 10cc and one of the most popular cricket songs ever written below. If you’re from the Commonwealth, you know it already, so just sing along with me:

I don’t like cricket…ah, oh no. I love it!