Tag Archives: random

Before Karma there was Karma

Oh yes, before Taylor Swift graced her die-hard fans and her casual fans with her song “Karma” from her new album Midnights, Taiwanese pop-singer Jolin Tsai put out a song called “Karma” for her adoring fans in 2019.  The songs have different melodies and styles, so this post is not about why Taylor couldn’t have picked a different word for her song (Neither “fate” nor “destiny” have the same ring to it).

The Chinese title of Jolin Tsai’s song is “你也有今天,” which literally means “you also have today,” and I’m wondering if there’s also a connotation of “you’ll get what’s coming to you.”  None of my Chinese school teachers ever taught us how to talk about “karma” in idioms, so I can’t be sure.

If you have no idea what to make of the shirtless men, sometimes fighting, sometimes dancing, and clearly making Jolin feel very uncomfortable (in the context of the mv) only to have an “oh, okay, that happens” at the end of it, the clues are the quote and dedication at the beginning of the video:



Who is the Queen of Anatahan?  Atlas Obscura will tell you all about her and the island.

Though Jolin’s “Karma” does not make me think of Taylor’s “Karma” at all, it does recall this Cpop song called “Trouble” by XIAO featuring Jacob from the no-longer-active Kpop group VAV.


Whilst I’m still on the topic of different songs in different languages that came out some years apart with the same title, before there was Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face“, there was Ayumi Hamasaki’s  “Poker Face.”

Anti Your Own Sweet Nothing

When Taylor Swift announced in late August that she’d be releasing a new album called Midnights on October 21 (aka midnight between October 20 and October 21), it gave me something to look forward to, a certainty that something would happen in the near future that I could rely on for some positivity.  The montage of music video clips that first aired at the top of the third quarter during Thursday Night Football (where the New Orleans Saints lost to the Arizona Cardinals 42 to 34) packed a healthy dose of anticipation.

And then in the morning the music video for track three, “Anti-Hero,” came out on YouTube:


The optimism increased.  I didn’t complete my post-wake up ritual and went to the nearest Target to see if they’d have physical copies of the CD in the store.  They did.



And yet, after popping the disc into the CD player in my chariot and running some errands, I found myself not beaming with ecstasy.  My initial impression was similar to Reputation and Lover (of not liking it that much).  The overall production style and energy is very 1989 and Lover.  “Anti-Hero” is a very good first choice for a music video, but the rest of the album sounds like variations of “Afterglow,” “I Think He Knows,” and “False God” with “Mirrorball” and “My Tears Ricochet” as seasoning.

After listening to the CD 3 times through (the third time on my discman), my evaluations are as follows:

Love: “Anti-Hero,” “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” and “Sweet Nothing.”

I like fine: “Lavender Haze” (very catchy), “Maroon,” and “Question…?”.

Don’t like: “Midnight Rain,” “Labyrinth,” and “Karma.”

Indifferent: “Snow on the Beach,” “Vigilante Shit,” “Bejeweled,” “Mastermind,” and “Hits Different.”

As for the 3AM edition, my initial thoughts:

“The Great War” — indifferent
“Bigger Than The Whole Sky” — I like, makes me think of Evermore.
“Paris” — nope
“High Infidelity” — indifferent
“Glitch” — nope
“Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” — I like, also very Folklore and Evermore.
“Dear Reader” — indifferent

I’m sure the more I listen to the whole album (the standard one, not the Target Exclusive), the more I’ll grow fonder of the tracks that didn’t evoke an immediate oh-I-like-this reaction.  I’m still eagerly awaiting the rest of the music videos for her new album.

FYI: Speak Now is the only Taylor Swift album in which I liked every song upon first listen.  I liked Debut enough (after I’d listened to the original Fearless and Red albums enough to admit that I was a fan) and have grown to love it in the last year.  I liked 1989 quite a bit when I first listened to it but it didn’t fill me with glee.  I loved all of the vault tracks on Fearless and Red Taylor’s Versions when I heard them.  Folklore and Evermore incited much love quickly (even when I didn’t like all of the songs until a month later).

When Taylor Swift finally is able to release her versions of Debut and Speak Now, I will die happy.

Pic creds: Target, yours truly, YT screenshots

On the road to Nulle Part

I saw two dead woodland creatures on my travels today.  The first one was a raccoon in the middle of the road.  Its tail was on the left; I assume its head was on the right.  I had no choice but to drive gingerly over it and hope the wheels on the driver side of my car didn’t smush the tail.  What struck me, no pun intended, about the corpse of this raccoon was the color of the punctured body.  It was like bright red licorice…strawberry-red in the midst of gray.

I glimpsed the second dead animal twice (the first time with it on the right side of the road and the second time with it on the left side of the road).  When it was on the right side, its head was closer to the asphalt and the rest of the body was on the grass.  It could have been taking a nap in a very dangerous place.  On the return drive, though, it became apparent that it did not have a face anymore.  In contrast to the raccoon’s mid-section, the hue of where the deer’s face had been was more similar to roast beef.

I will never look at red candy or medium-rare steak in quite the same way again (not that I would stop eating the latter, ’cause bovine flesh est délicieux).



Pic creds: Filip Mroz @mroz (red licorice), Justus Menke (roast beef), unsplash

Is That All You Got?

Green Day wants to be your “Dominated Love Slave” at the same time the Refreshments have “gone to the hardware store” and will procure “a really big hammer” because they want “Girly” eventually to “beat [them] till [they’re] black and blue, and [they’re] hanging by a thread.”  Meanwhile, Florence + the Machine insist on a “Kiss With a Fist.”  There’s plenty of corporeal bruising and property damage, isn’t there?  Not much self-confidence either.  I mean:

You can spank me when I do not behave
Smack me in the forehead with a chain.”

I’m gonna buy you a really heavy baseball bat
Girly won’t you knock these thoughts out of my head

A kick to the teeth is good for some
A kiss with a fist is better than none


On a completely unrelated note, the reason why employers, acquaintances, coworkers, and random strangers may want to know where you grew up, where you received any form of education, and what you like to do in your free time is because familiarity and shared appreciation of an experience or cultural text are shortcuts to intimacy.  However tenuous and superficial it may seem, just knowing that your new hire, new boss, potential new friend, or the other side of a customer service interaction is fond of or has heard about your alma mater, hometown, or comfort music can generate a field of trustworthiness where there previously was none.

I went to get groceries today from a Fresh Market and had entered an aisle when I noticed the employee, who was stocking shelves at the time, was grooving to some kind of music.  It was in a nuanced way, evidenced by some hip and leg motions that may not have registered with someone who isn’t fluent in the visual language of the way rhythms and beats compel the human body to react.  He saw me approach; I smiled even though I was wearing a mask.

“What are you listening to?”

He hesitated.

“What genre?”


“What decade?”


“Ahh, the good stuff,” I said, my voice softening to convey a mental high-five.

His demeanor softened and brightened.  He praised my jade pendant, asked if I was finding everything all right, and to let him know if I needed anything.

Of course I have no way to confirm what he was thinking when he saw me walking towards him, but the shift in his body language and facial expressions suggests to me that he had assumed as neutral a presence as possible upon seeing me, was ready to move closer to one side of the aisle if necessary, and didn’t know what my opinions were on any genre of music, and thus, didn’t want to have an unpleasant interaction.  It was low-key marvelous to see the change in his posture and countenance.

On an even more unrelated note, NFL Films has a segment on “Cordarrelle Patterson’s Journey in the NFL.”  His first name is pronounced like “core-darryl” not “core derr-ell.”


Pic cred: YT screenshot

The Opposite of a Catcall

Similar to other whimsically random experiences I’ve had over the summer, I had an interaction with a stranger whom I’ll likely never see again that would not have occurred if anything about my morning had unfolded differently (and down to seconds).  It wasn’t even morning when I went outdoors; it was midday.  I was at an intersection with a red light; I saw a construction worker (hard hat, a tight-fitting neon chartreuse long-sleeved shirt, and jeans) on the opposite side of the street waiting to cross in my direction.

The light turned green.  I crept up, assumed an almost-turning position, and looked at him to gauge if he was going to be a slow-walker or a mindful pedestrian.  He saw me and smiled.  I smiled back, he smiled bigger.  Time felt like it slowed down on one of the busiest intersections in midtown Atlanta.  He kept walking and I turned left.  Other pedestrians in other parts of the city have made eye contact with me and then hustled across the crosswalk, which is as it should be, but this encounter was different.

This construction worker acknowledged my law-abiding and consideration of his right-of-way by giving me one of the most radiant smiles I’ve ever seen on another person.  It was one of those just-had-the-best-sandwich-of-my-life or omg-just-passed-the-bar-exam types of smiles.  I’ve never been catcalled and have no desire to be, but whatever I’d simultaneously witnessed and participated in was the anti-catcall: non-verbal communication between two people without lewdness or unecessary sound effects.

If I ever found myself garnering the attention of men taking a respite from or in the midst of manual labor, how would I react?  I imagine doing my best impersonation of Professor Henry Higgins, but in reality, I might just stop and stare…then shout, “You can see me?!  Gawd, I was beginning to think only dogs and cats could see me, well, maybe not dogs because they tend to sense a disturbance in air molecules, and then go about their business like I’m not standing right in front of them.”

I have known the unexpected and marvelous sensation of making eye contact with someone, exchanging grins, and feeling as if the minutes were holding their breath to let the moment continue for as long as possible.  I’d thought the gods had already spent their deliciously serendipitous morsels on me and there’d be none left for the rest of the year.  It would seem, though, that they just took a long lunch.  I’ll take this kind of fleeting encounter over marathon sessions of ego-boosts.