Discovering Stromae and Learning Languages


Buzzfeed featured this brilliantly crafted commentary on social media from Stromae, “Carmen.”


My significant other found the video on Facebook and thinking I would like the song, shared it with me. I enjoyed not only the music, but the full package of artwork and theme. Seeing it was written and directed by French animator and comic writer Sylvain Chomet (known largely for animated films: The Illusionist and The Triplets of Belleville) was a bonus, and won more points with me. “Carmen” piqued both our interests in Stromae, but I became distracted and didn’t look further. My SO did and before I knew it, linked me to another song this time, “Tous Les Mêmes.” This video served as the catalyst for me diving into his work as well as background. I assumed he was French, from both of these songs, but learned Stromae (a stage name) is instead Belgian and a lovely blend of Flemish and Rwandan that latter proving to be significant in how he approaches his music. I soon realized I didn’t know much about Belgium or how strong of a French presence it has. For whatever reasons, when I thought of the country, I thought German or Dutch and almost never French.
After my latest reading endeavor, this felt a little less happy coincidence and more dancing in the realm of uncanny, as if both the reading and my listening to his music were fate.

While “Carmen” is fantastic, my favorite song of Stromae’s is actually this one, “Papaoutai”


As it turns out, we both lost our fathers at young ages, anything touching on the relationship of father and child usually speaks to me. The video is done in such an illustrative fashion that those without French fluency, or any French understanding can still get an idea of what the song is about. I love the combination and all the videos I’ve watched so far use different styles of short film in the telling of stories. It’s refreshing to see someone in a more popular genres of music being an artist and not just an entertainer which has become so common in the United States. A few articles mentioned that scientists have gone into researching the decline of Pop Music over the years and it’s not just in our imaginations.  The genre has actually been dumbing down. I assume physical record sells have also declined resulting in a stronger push for record companies to make that money. Leaving us with commercialism and repetition over talent and artistry. Fortunately, not everyone interested in making music is behind the cheapening of it and continue to treat it as a craft.

I haven’t analyzed Stromae’s lyrical content, yet. But even if he didn’t have the most in depth lyrics, he’s singing in French (and quite possibly bits of other languages). By him doing this, English speaking listeners such as myself, or others who don’t know French can pick up pieces subconsciously. Many songs have catchy hooks, that are clear and repeated and it presents the language in a more interesting way. Since French happens to be one of the languages I’m learning, I plan to make a conscious effort of looking up his lyrics while listening to the songs and focusing on natural pronunciations. If I want to be really ambitious, I can work on translating them into English myself instead of shortcuts. This article highlights eight tips for learning language through songs and music. Even though it specifies English, most of the tips make sense and should be applicable to learning others.

So, while social media poses threats of doom and gloom if we let ourselves get too absorbed, it still has productive uses. Like introducing me to an array of artists I might not have discovered any time soon. And by being open to this discovery, much like reading, I can get sucked into new worlds giving me the opportunity to learn about myself and others along the way.

Currently Reading: Danzy Senna


L.A. Lanier

https://igcdn-photos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfa1/t51.2885-15/11007866_734440263321218_1803698160_n.jpg © L.A. Lanier via Instagram

The debut novel Caucasia by Danzy Senna caught my eye at a clearance sale event. I was unfamiliar with her name, but read some of what was on the back cover and decided to hold on to it. Seeing a work that isn’t a text-book covering matters of race by having biracial main characters or those of mixed ethnicities has been rare for me. Not that I have thoroughly researched, but I guess the fact I believe I would have to research in order to find more works and writers touching on the subject reiterates my point.

I’ve noticed that lately diversity/inclusive reading and writing is encouraged more and more. A concept I consider a good thing (as long as it avoids tokenism, which I’ll save for another time). But from my view, when discussing minority groups* the emphasis tends to be specifically in reference…

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A Day


I look forward to the day that the plural of ethnicity, ethnicities is not met with a red squiggle line.
“Ethnic groups” is often not the wording I want to use.

Aw come on brain


Almost every night I’m not completely exhausted.
Subliminal quibbles at their best.

kelzbelzphotography

image

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Ghostwriting My Life


L.A. Lanier

When I think of having someone write my biography. My first thought is why wouldn’t I want to write my own memoirs, plenty of authors & writers do or have. I’m not, nor do I expect to become, a celebrity. Nor do I consider myself incapable of doing so. That aside, would I still be interested in seeing how someone else would paint my life? Sure, why not? And given the option of any author living or dead. I give my knee-jerk vote to…Richard Castle.

Screen capture via amazon.com

Why Richard Castle? Not only is he ruggedly handsome (or so I’m led to believe), but have you read his books? They’re action packed, humanizing, engaging, maybe even a guilty pleasure (to some, not moi), and his journalistic experience means he’s thorough with his research. Not to mention he’s dedicated to his pieces. His ego wouldn’t allow him to do a…

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Reading Russian



Does anyone else think “man, I really wish I could read Russian?
I don’t even need to write in it or be fluent, yet. Just read it.
As some may know, I’m in the process of learning a few foreign languages. One thing they have in common is a familiar alphabet. Whether or not I have learned the words I can come upon any paragraph, sentence, caption etc. and have some idea of what it could be saying. Attempting to read words I don’t understand is an enjoyable process for me because it feels like it’s adding something to my brain.

Not so much with Russian. I mean sure, I’ve seen the alphabet thanks to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, but it’s left my head just like anything else that has to do with Winter Olympics.
“You bet I’ll keep up with all the international figure skating competitions!” an eager fan once said.
I even looked it up online to get a more thorough idea since they were so fast during opening ceremonies. Unfortunately, without having any real grasp on the alphabet or the language, it might as well be Japanese.

Why do I wish I could read it?
Because just like any other culture in the world, there’s beauty in it and it’s a way to connect. Be it through art, literature, music or just thoughts. And when I follow or interact with people who share their art and parts of themselves, I don’t scoff and think “wish they’d write in English sometime.” I think, “dammit, wish I knew more languages.”

Sleeping Beauty?


In honor of #WorldPoetryDay, and maybe a classic animated film that was on earlier, I came up with this…

https://subliminalquibbles.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/f3053-11085158_381608205369754_1414052162_n.jpg?w=284&h=284

© L.A. Lanier

Sleeping beauty?
I could be
For someones close
Each said to me
They found a joy
To watch during sleep
Because I was
Elegant and Graceful
Breathing softly
Without a peep
And I guess it makes
A bit of sense
To say the least
One of the only times
I ever feel at peace