“Non-Musical Silence” by Marilyn Manson (The album Antichrist Superstar consists, in addition to the regular tracks, of 72 tracks of silence, each four seconds long, followed by a song called “Untitled”)
“You Can Make Your Own Music” by Covenant (a 4 minute and 33 second silent track, in reference to John Cage’s song “4′33″)
Ever since they instated that you witness your own funeral on your 45th birthday, everyone had a much easier time being middle aged.
Excessive sports cars sales plummeted. Marriages went unadulterated. Thousands of children spared embarrassment.
It was hard not to pick out the flowers that I actually wanted, though. It was hard to put on a suit they picked out for me, one with pointed lapels, when I never liked pointed lapels.
My wife pulled me in close to her. “You were wonderful. You have a wonderful funeral.” I appreciated this, especially since nobody was supposed to talk to me, but I didn’t agree at all. The flowers were wrong, the suit was wrong, the guestlist was wrong.
This is why I realized that it’s not really the funeral that matters. It’s the afterparty to the funeral, when you can get drunk, when you don’t have to worry about the stupid little flowers, when you don’t have to worry about the stupid wrong suits. Sitting in the front row, though, looking at my imaginary self in the coffin, I shuddered and racked my brain:
A team of researchers in England wasted our time determining which is the catchiest song ever made.
After carrying out “under-cover data collection in night clubs across the North of England,” which is coincidentally what most of the scientists did on their weekends, the scientists “did a musical analysis of a large subset of songs regarding the vocal performance on the recording as well as the structure of the songs.”
After not curing cancer, they concluded that pop songs are catchiest when sung by a male singer, for historically, males led people into battle, so the male vocal register incites the same psychological reaction. Additionally, if he usees his “high chest voice, pronounces the consonants of the lyrics clearly and puts a lot of vocal effort into his performance,” even better. No one wants to try to sing along with someone who makes it look easy, because then who feels like the asshole? An example of a ‘high effort’ male singers included Jon Bon Jovi. The researchers actually determined that.
Miraculously, the scientists found that UK residents were likely to sing along “if it is late at night, if it is a weekend and if the song has been in high up in the UK charts at some point.” What these scientists might discover if applying their brilliance to another field, such as quantum physics or neuroscience, we can only fear.
“We hope that our study will inspire musicians of the future to crack the equation for the textbook tune,” opined musicology expert Dr Daniel Müllensiefen, who was probably really excited to use the phrase ‘textbook tune,’ a term he’d been hard at work refining for months (at night clubs across the North of England).
The Top Ten Catchiest Pop Songs (As Determined by Dr. Müllensiefen’s Team in England)
After staring at my computer screen for several seconds, I started to panic. I had just checked Gmail, then Facebook, then Twitter successively, with no further plan. To do so again in such a short amount of time would constitute madness, so to throw myself a curve ball and hopefully derail my inevitable typing of the letter “g” into my Firefox URL bar, I found myself Googling “I can’t stop eating cereal” instead. The results were surprising: all 4,910,000 of them.
This post contains a lot of links, only given to display the impressive number of these cereal addiction cases — so no need to click on all or any of them. Google came up with plenty of sources, but cited the UK and US versions of Answers.com as the top two results. There, I found myriads of concernedconsumers (consumers in the “I down a whole box in one sitting” sense of the word) who had feelings ranging from mild fear to overwhelming guilt about their breakfast cereal consumption and inability to stop. Most of the voted upon “answers” were of course overwhelmingly unhelpful, both the sympathetic (“When I was pregnant I ate like a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch every day!”) or the, well, assholes (“Well…. that stinks”). Thankfully, there is some actual advice given at more weight-loss oriented sites.
Truth is, like any addiction, the best way to overcome it is to not give yourself the option of relapsing. Do not buy yourself cereal. Do not have milk in the house. If you think that may be too harsh, you can try keeping only one kind of cereal in the house. The lack of variety will help you from going back to it again and again. A third option would be to restrict any sort of eating after a certain time, say, 10pm, or only allow one bowl a day. The more black and white the rules, the easier it will be to follow them. The only danger is yo-yoing. I’ve gone without cereal for a few days only to bring home a box of Cheerios and down 5 in a day.
Yo-yoing can be used for good effect, however, if you are trying to build muscle or doing intense exercise. If you plan on cutting carbs one day, and know that an inevitable flood of CTC (Cinnamon Toast Crunch) will be soon entering your mouth the next, try to plan those bowls after your workout.
Let’s not be too hard on ourselves. Cereal is so amazing. The reason why it’s easy to keep eating is because a) there is huge variety. Sure, it’s basically made from the same stuff, and it all tastes like cereal, but as long as there are puffs, flakes, grains, crunch, pebbles, Charms, wheats, oats, bran, and O’s, there will always be something craveable for the next meal. b) It’s easy. No cooking required, and nothing to heat. c) Few people still believe that cereal is good for you, despite the Lucky Charms boxes that blare “Whole Grains” at you in bright blue, but the truth is, it’s not bad enough that eating it constantly will cause disease. Depending on your poison of choice, there is enough fiber, fortified (artificially added) vitamins, and sometimes protein to poorly mimic a balanced diet. The problem is that excessive use will inhibit any chance at weight loss — the sugar will cause insulin spikes and the carbs may leave you lethargic and increase cravings and hunger later on in the day.
All this aside, I will never stop eating cereal. I will try, I will fail. I will stop trying.
Writing this article has made me hungry. There is a box of Corn Flakes in the cupboard, a half gallon left of skim milk in the fridge, and I went to the gym today. I’ll be in the kitchen.