Carlo Aaron

Archive for 2012|Yearly archive page

I’m in a complicated relationship…with my undergraduate research.

In academic, Uncategorized on June 30, 2012 at 3:29 am


This is how I feel right now. Like a crazy person who hasn’t slept in days and eats ramen noodles for breakfast. Thankfully that’s just how I feel–my sleep is significantly reduced and I still have faith in the nutritional value of cliffbars– but if I don’t stop soon, I’m heading in that direction. Who am I that I should have such a bleak future, you ask?

An undergraduate researcher.

I’m one of the hundred of thousands of undergraduates in the country that sees no other hope for their future aside from graduate school (or whatever…I’m not actually sure how many people want to go to graduate school, but that figure feels about intimidating enough to be accurate). I’m also one of the many who have realized that I need to be as academically actualized as I can possibly be by the time I start applying to graduate school, thus, summer research program.

Don’t get me wrong, I highly recommend summer research. I really love the experience I’m having, and am very grateful for this unique program (MURAP at UNC Chapel Hill–look it up!) that combines GRE prep with research, among other things. One of those other things I am being exposed to, however, is the relationship one is likely to have with their research topic. This PhD comic is an apt representation of my feelings at the moment:

I feel too young to get PhD comics, but there you have it. One minute I’m all gung-ho over my obscure humanities research, the next, I am banging my head against the wall wondering why I thought this thing could ever work out. (We’ve been together for so long, dammit, but Rick Scott must be right, you are useless!) Honestly though, I do love what I am doing and it is totally worth my blood, sweat and tears…or really, just the tears.

So the reason why I’m posting this nonsense instead of something interesting and insightful about the world is because I feel like there must be some undergraduate out there that is suffering through the same thing. If you have found me seeking solace young undergraduate scholar, if the algorithm gods have responded to your sacrifice of several desperate keywords, then you know you are not alone. There may not be much hope for a future of sanity, but…well, we’re all going to die anyway. (I’m pretty sure that saying doesn’t actually fit here, but whatever YOLO.)

Here’s a list of things that might help you through your research experience:

  • Remind yourself that you are not going to die.
  • Don’t analyze your mentor/professor’s email for hidden criticisms.
  • Don’t analyze your mentor/professor’s email.
  • Eat food several times a day.
  • Don’t analyze your thoughts for latent insecurities/desires.
  • Calm down.
  • Don’t get hung up on potentially contradictory information that only might possibly undermine your research to the point where you can’t sleep and you email the author of the text who doesn’t recall what he wrote ten years ago because he’s like seventy and senile.
  • Shower regularly.

Cheers to a potentially bleak, but mentally fruitful future!

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Things that are Good and or Rock: Earth Fare

In Uncategorized on April 4, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Ok, so if you live in the South and you haven’t been to Earth Fare, you probably don’t know how good life can actually be. This is not a hyperbole. This is real life.

If you’re into organic, vegetarian, gluten-free,or maybe just actual food, but don’t have the kind of money rich people do to spend on groceries, Earth Fare is a godsend. No, it’s not a co-op, but that means that nobody smells poorly and there is much more variety. Also, Earth Fare is obsessed with customer satisfaction and coupons– think Publix Greenwise tenfold. To give you a concrete example, my last visit at Earth Fare I saved $11.50 in discounts (this is my couponing at it’s best), got $7.50 in Fare Deal Savings (things that are on sale at the store), and received free Earth Fare veggie burgers (this was for signing up for their mailing list…from which I receive NO SPAM).

Let me break down their discount system for you:

  • You can opt to receive discounts via text and email (these coupons/discounts are different from one another. Usually they are coupons for FREE THINGS)
  • There are booklets jam-packed with coupons… seriously, there are dozens of coupons within your reach (on another note, they have delicious jam)
  • Something is always on sale.
  • You can enter cute little contests on their website for a chance to win $50 or $100 gift cards.
Earth Fare is also really into being involved with their customers. Their CEO has a blog called “You Don’t Know Jack.” So cute I just wanna die. Plus they have an Earth Fairy that they make criminally underwatched videos with. So creepy. I love it.

In conclusion, love Earth Fare because rich people shouldn’t be the only ones who can eat actual food. Is that fare to say?

New posts coming soon about actually exciting things… like New Orleans, SXSW, Nick Offerman and Edgar Wright, so ya’ll come back now!

 

P.S.- No, Earth Fare did not pay me to write any of this stuff.

I’m In Love With Lana Del Rey

In Uncategorized on February 20, 2012 at 2:03 am

I recently (a few weeks ago; I’m a slow blogger) bought Lana Del Rey’s album, instead of downloading it, when it first came out, because she’s an artist that I believe in and I wanted her to have a good debut week for the charts.  Unlike me though, a lot of people seem to have some sort of beef with Lana Del Rey.

File:LanaDelRey BornToDie.jpg

Pretty much every bad thing I’ve read about her has to do with the fact that she changed her name and appearance and musical style to develop this ‘Lana Del Rey’ persona.  I’m not sure why this is such an issue with people; she’s one of the most interesting personas in Pop music since Lady Gaga (who also changed her name, appearance and musical style).  Maybe it’s the fact that she’s catering to a more alternative crowd than Lady Gaga and alternative is supposed to be more legitimate than pop? If that’s your thought pattern you’re mistaken.  Or maybe it’s just that she seems ‘fake?’

For me, the fact that she seems to be putting on a front, that she seems uncomfortably poised, reserved and cold; that she seems ‘fake’ is what’s interesting about Lana Del Rey. It gives her some mystery, and in general it’s interesting to have someone in the pop music industry who seems to be thinking about what they’re doing or saying. But if you have doubts, just listen to the album, I promise there’s nothing fake about it.

The album itself has an amazing combination of vocal samples, and melancholy strings which work amazingly with Lana’s sultry voice.  The album taps into some nice modern Mid-Western/Southern themes, and is filled with this longing for an older time.  The lyrics themselves are great, and Lana herself says she’s a writer before she’s a singer and it shows. There are some songs that aren’t as great (Dark Paradise is a tedious song to sit through), and it’s not too upbeat which causes the album as a whole to lag, especially near the end but it really is an album worth having in your collection and is a great slection of tracks.

Standout Tracks:

 Born to Die
This is a really great track on the album with a smart, chic music video.  The sampling in this song really makes for an interesting musical landscape, especially paired with the symphonic strings that open the song. This song is the perfect opener for the album.

Off to the Races

The lyrics on this track are probably the best on the album (Video Games gives it a run for its money).  The scenery is so tangible and it’s one of the more upbeat tracks on the album.  I would really hope this one becomes a single; it showcases Lana Del Rey’s amazing writing skills, and it shows a different side of her that I think audiences would respond well to.

Video Games

Don’t need to say much about this song; it’s amazing and I think almost everyone can relate to it if not the idea of it.  The video is great as well (just don’t expect the same production values as the video for ‘Born to Die’) and I was surprised to learn that Del Rey made the video herself.

National Anthem and Radio are definitely also worth listening to.  Both are great tracks that really embody the strings/samples/vocals mixture that Lana Del Rey has crafted on this album.

 

I’m still listening to the album everytime I get into my car, and I’ve yet to get tired of it.  After a few listens even the slower songs like Dark Paradise and Summertime Sadness become more bearable, and I’ve started to really appreciate their place on the album.  I’m really excited to see what Lana Del Rey does next and where she goes from here.

Seven Hours

In reviews, Uncategorized on February 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      When I have to drive from my home in South Florida to my place at school in Tallahassee it takes me about seven hours.  This can get tedious, but I enjoy the time to be able to sit and think, uninterrupted for a few hours, and I usually download a few albums for the drive.  On the most recent trip I took I downloaded Big Sean’s Finally Famous, The Cool Kids When Fish Ride Bicycles, St. Vincent’s Strange Mercy, The Weeknd’s Echoes of Silence, Patrick Wolf’s Lupercalia and tUnE-yArDs’ w h o k i l l.

 

            Finally Famous is surprisingly good.  I wasn’t expecting much; I haven’t listened to that much Big Sean and it was the Nicki Minaj “Dance (A$$) Remix” that got me interested in hearing the album.  The tracks on the album are catchy and the musicality of the songs is great.  I wish Big Sean would’ve pushed more on flow and lyrics, because I’d really fallen in love with his enunciation on his “All of the Lights Remix” with Lil Wayne and Drake, and his Supa Dupa Flow.

Standout Tracks: I Do It, High ft. Chiddy Bang and Wiz Khalifa, Marvin Gaye and Chardonnay ft. Kanye West and Roscoe Dash.

Rating: 4/5

 

            I was less than impressed with The Cool Kids’ When Fish Ride Bicycles.  I was really crazy about their work when they were first getting big, and I guess I was expecting something more in that vein.  Instead of the throwback flows that made them so distinct in the past they sounded kind of bland.  That being said, they’re still great and after listening to it a few times without the expectations I’d set myself up for I could appreciate a few more of the tracks, especially the instrumentation on “Penny Hardaway” and “Roll Call” (the Asher Roth verse on the latter tack overshadows the Kids though).  “Bundle Up” is terrible though.

Standout Tracks: “Roll Call” ft. Asher Roth, Chip tha Ripper, and Boldy James, “Rush Hour Traffic,” “Penny Hardaway” ft. Ghostface Killah

Rating: 3/5

 

            St. Vincent is a fucking weirdo and I love it.  In addition, she’s a great instrumentalist and creates music with layers for days and amazing timing, texture and grandiosity and she doesn’t disappoint on Strange Mercy.  Every track on this album is genius.  The thing about St. Vincent is that there’s never any instant payoff, what I mean by that is that you can’t just turn on one of her songs and love it, you have to sit there and listen and then when you get an amazing guitar riff like on “Cruel” or “Chloe in the Afternoon.”  The only song that comes close to an instant payoff is “Northern Lights.”  The best album I listened to on the car ride.

Standout Tracks: All of them.  But I’ve got a total boner for “Cruel,” “Northern Lights,” and “Hysterical Strength.”

Rating: 5/5

 

I’m not a big fan of the Weeknd (or R&B in general) but after hearing the great work on Drake’s Take Care, especially on “Crew Love”, I figured I’d give his latest work, Echoes of Silence, a shot.  I was unfazed.  I think there’s a lot of good instrumentation on the album, but it all seems to fall flat.  The “Dirty Diana” cover works well and the song “Initiation” was worth listening to more than once but I’m pretty bored by the rest of it.

Standout Tracks: “Dirty Diana,” “Initiaton.”

Rating: 2.5/5

 Patrick Wolf Lupercalia Album Cover

            I never know what to expect with Patrick Wolf, because he’s such a versatile artist often dipping in and out of great acoustic songs or electronic bits or Pop melodies; he’s all over the place and I love it.  However, I heard “The City” when the music video came out and I was not a fan, so I wasn’t sure I how I was going to feel about Lupercalia.  When I downloaded the album and heard the track in context of the rest of the album I understood it, and really came to appreciate it.  The album is more acoustically driven, although there is some great synth work on it, and each song is really fantastic.  A beautiful piece of work and probably Wolf at his greatest.

Standout Tracks: “William,” “The Falcons,” “House,” “Time of My Life.”

Rating: 4.5/5

 

            I’d never heard of tUnE-yArDs before downloading the album w h o k i l l, which I found on some list from either Pitchfork or Stereogum and I figured ‘why not?’ so I gave it a listen and I was more than thrilled when I decided to play it on the drive to school.  There album has an amazing mix of drums, saxophones (an instrument I loathe) and layered vocals (I was astonished to find out the lead singer is a female).  That being said the vocals really work best when Garbus lets herself get really loose and loud; when she tries to be more tender the songs tend to lack the energy they need.  The time changes in a lot of the songs are genius as well, definitely worth a listen.  I heard they were up for a Woody award this year and I hope they definitely deserve one.

Standout Tracks: “Gangsta,” “Bizness,” “My Country.”

Valentine’s Day for the Pragmatic Soul

In holiday idea, Uncategorized on February 12, 2012 at 11:01 pm

What do you do when your valentine doesn’t like chocolate, flowers, or receiving romantic attention on national Hallmark Day? You could ignore the giant, imaginary hearts that float around the heads of couples everywhere and tell your loved one that you respect his or her decision to essentially be ignored, or you could recognize your baby cakes in a homorous and pragmatic way that says, ‘we are way too cool to participate in a celebration that rewards high schoolers for their hormones with giant balloons, so I am going to give you a gift that simultaneously mocks Valentine’s Day and proves how attentive I am to your  needs.’

Here is the pragmatic V-Day gift I prepared for my honey boo boo child:

 

 

 

 

Toiletries are a great way of saying that you want your sweetumz to stay over and be comfortable, or at least that you’ve accepted that they will anyway. It’s practical and good for the both of you– nobody likes a stinky partner. I don’t care how ‘hip’ it is…that’s gross.

 

 

My baby-poo struggles with cooking, like most people under 30. I started a folder of recipes for him, specifically because he asked I do so. If your valentine has asked you to do something before and you never got around to it, this is your moment to shine. If I gave him the recipes on any normal day, I would be doing him a favor. If I do it on v-day it’s like I remembered! Few things are as important in a boring, monogamous relationship as remembering.

I also got him a planner because…well, he doesn’t have one, and I think that’s nuts.

 

Reminding him of important dates!

This is Isasmella’s reaction to receiving such a practical gift (too bad I’ll have to take it away):

 

 

Good luck with your Pragmatic Valentine’s Day gift! Remember, if your relationship is struggling and it’s your fault, add mixed CDs and “date coupons” to make it look like you put in more effort.

 

LUV,

 

Coco and Isasmella

Fashion Icon: Denise Huxtable

In Fashion on February 6, 2012 at 8:54 pm

I don’t know anyone, fictional or otherwise, who pulls off “failure child” quite as well as Denise Huxtable. Unlike Theo, she did it fashionably and with a considerable amount of doe-eyed sass. Forget Bill Cosby and the molestation allegations– he had some fashionable fake children.

So you might think to yourself, ‘how do I become as fashionable as Denise?’ The answer is: you can’t. If you tried, you would probably look dated and crusty. But you can come close with these accessories.

Scarves

(The last one is just crazy awesome. Couldn’t resist.)

Scarves are essential to the “ethnic” look. Look for geometric patterns, as well as earthy colors. Wrap one around your neck for a modern look, or around your head for something more Denise. Scarves are a wardrobe staple for me, and I like wrapping all types of them around my head, sometimes with bows on top or bottom.

Me trying to be cute like denise with my beauty queen baby momma. If you want big hair like us, add some mousse for a quick boost (Aussie is cheap and great smelling).

It’s like we’re twins.

Jewelry

The great thing about a Denise or “ethnic” look is that not a lot of people can differentiate between different cultures. While it’s really sad that the extent of your peers’ cultural knowledge is probably, ‘pizza is Jersey and drums r Africa,’ it’s fashionably advantageous.    People will think you’re cultured, and for no good reason.

While it is unlikely that many people will be able to appreciate the cultural variety in your outfit, they will be able to appreciate your style. A lot of Huichol jewelry is especially colorful, and could pop against a solid top. I provided links to some wholesome businesses that support marginalized (not to mentioned severely abused and traumatized) peoples, so click on the pictures to learn more.

Cute and Chill Attitude

Finally, a big part of the Denise-look is attitude. Not the ‘I say what I want give me a tricycle, Bud,‘ attitude, but the laid-back ‘I think it’s my life mission to join the peace corps and build an orphanage in Zimbabwe, nbd,’ attitude. If you’re a little high-strung and eighteen, head to a locally-owned tobacco shop and get yourself a bowl or pipe to wind down on weekends.

Tobacco use only, of course.

Good luck getting cute!

-Coco

Blackrtastic on Popularity

In Uncategorized on February 5, 2012 at 1:06 am

Things That Are Good And Or Rock: Botan Candy

In Uncategorized on January 26, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Recently I found myself inside an Asian Market for the first time in a year; I had no intentions of blowing off all of my errands and responsibilities for an impromptu visit to this paradise of Asian delicacies, but hey, sometimes it just happens.

After grabbing what might have been 5 car washes worth of merchandise (and of course, my car is still caked in dirt from a bonfire that took place several weeks ago, but hey, a vehicle can stand to have some character), I noticed something wonderful and colorful by the register: boxes and boxes of botan candy. Unable to resist the lure of nostalgia (a dangerous lure, I admit), I shelled out my 99 cents.

‘What is this botan candy?’ you might ask. Oh, I don’t know. Only the COOLEST CANDY EVER. Not that it’s the tastiest or the healthiest, it’s just the coolest. They’re these chewy, little, pink things wrapped over twice– once in plastic, and once in rice paper. When you offer them to friends you get the best reactions, because most of the time your friends won’t believe that they can eat the rice paper, and wonder for a few moments if they can melt it with their eyes  (this way they can say, ‘Hey, crazy! Did you just see that?! Guess I’ll just have to eat the candy part of your weird, foreign poison!’). They end up looking stupid and you look generous. Successful interaction? Yep.

And while you’re at the Asian market, you might as well look around (especially if the ethnic aisle in your local grocery store sucks). A lot of times vegetables are as cheap as they would be at Wal-Mart and are also edible, which is unusual. Also, sesame seed oil, rooster sauce, and canned lychees are irresistible Asian Market goods suddenly within your reach. If none of this is enough to get you to your local Asian Market, Botan candies come with strange little stickers: