What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Rawls and Understanding Update on RedefinED

November 11, 2013

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

I updated the “forced reincarnation with the chance to pick your state” thought experiment with NAEP 2013 data over at RedefinED.

Bonus Elvis C:


Random Pop Culture Apocalypse: Video Mix Tape

April 3, 2010

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So Mrs. Ladner once again took the Ladner children to visit their relatives in New Mexico, and once again, rather than pile up pizza boxes and watch a bunch of college basketball, I have taken off to hang out in NoZo at the Raven Cafe in Prescott.  When this happened last year, a mocha overdose resulted in the first Random Pop Culture Apocalypse post on cover songs.

As my blood caffeine level once again reaches dangerous levels, I’ve decided to make a tradition of this. This year’s model: mix tapes.

Just to begin with a “in my day we had to walk to school 5 miles in the snow uphill both ways” story, it used to be difficult to make a mixtape. Back when they were actually tapes, that is. I remember going to libraries to check out cds, raiding the collections of my friends, buying used cds, recording the one song I wanted and then selling it back at a loss, etc. etc. etc.

Ah, and then Napster came along. The great thing about Napster was that they had all kinds of random stuff that you couldn’t buy, like Sammie Davis Jr. singing the theme song to Shaft (I love Sammie, but it sounds like a SNL spoof) or Ozzy Osbourne goofing around in the studio and covering the Bee Gees Staying Alive with Dweezil Zappa. Now the mashup artists are doing cool stuff.

High Fidelity memorably included a discussion of the dos and don’ts of mixtaping. In my opinion, the key to a good mixtape is awkward transitions between songs. Often this can be achieved by juxtaposing songs from completely different genres, but this is not always the case. For instance, I had the following two songs on a mixtape from the mid 1990s:

Followed by:

Ah Rednex, it’s so hard to find a good Swedish electronica/hillbilly band these days! But I digress. Electronic music that takes itself seriously followed by purposely absurd electronic music = awkward mixtape transistion, a delight to be savored.

Mixtapes can tell stories by matching particular songs. I found an old mixtape I made back around 1998, which contained two songs which spoke to a certain political scandal of that era. First the desperately pathetic intern begs for affection:

The male, a practiced liar with an air of menace, responds:

For some reason I used to like to pair Rancid:

with ABBA:

Well, it made sense to me at the time. Still does. Here’s another awkward pairing  of the beautifully elegant Stacey Kent:

with the delightfully inelegant Joan Jett:

So you get the idea, now it is your turn. Post your favorite video mixtape pairings in the comment section, and tell me why it works for you. Person submitting the best pairing wins a JPGB No-Prize.