Daily Archives: January 25th, 2010

I can has grammar?

My writer's hat

Ever go back and re-read your previously written blog posts? I’m a glutton for pain and humiliation so I often do. For me, reading my own writing can be a lot like seeing a picture of myself or hearing the sound of my own voice. It makes me throw up a little in my mouth.

So I try to re-read my own stuff, mainly to make sure it reads well and I don’t sound like a friggin’ idiot. And you know what? I always do sound like an idiot! Some of the grammatical errors and typos are so glaring that a reasonable person would be forced to ask: Just what the hell was he on when he wrote that?

A good friend taught me long ago about the three hats of writing, and I’ve always tried to wear those hats when composing my blog posts. It’s somewhat sobering that even after that process so many typos and errors still remain. The goal of the three hats exercise is to separate the writing process into distinct and separate steps that force you to consider what you have written from different perspectives.

The first hat is “create.” You concentrate on writing without worrying too much about how it sounds, spelling, grammar and what not. Just turn it on and let it flow. Try not to over-think what you are doing.

The second hat is “edit.” You roll up your sleeves and mercilessly slice it up. You are looking for typos, bad grammar, checking facts, etc. When you do edit a sentence, perhaps moving things around a bit, be sure to go back and re-read, re-read, re-read! If I had a dime for every time I edited a sentence and left it sounding funny …

The third hat is “read.” This is where you clear your mind, let everything else go and try to look at the piece with fresh eyes and consume your work from a reader’s point of view. How does it flow? What is the tone? Are the ideas making sense and coming across the way you intended?

You’d think three hats would be enough, but the next day I go back and re-read the post and, “Gack! I can’t believe I didn’t see that. The whole world thinks I’m stupid!”

I just started my day by fixing five distinct grammatical errors in yesterday’s post about angry songs. Maybe I should have been listening to something more soothing.


My list of top five angry songs

Shouts go out to Jane at Theycallmejane’s Blog for the idea that prompted this post. She recently wrote about the Top 20 Songs Played on her iPod and one of them was an “angry song.” I’ve been thinking about making this list ever since. 🙂

I know it is hard to believe but there are days when I feel angry. Angry! I have a nice sound system in my car, so I roll up the windows (I’m no poser) and pump up the volume. I like a song I can feel pounding in my chest, one that jiggles the world behind me as my rear-view mirror bumps and grinds to the music.

The criteria for this list is simple. The song has to move with a nice up-tempo beat. It has to be a song I already listen to on a regular basis. It has to be a song I really like. It has to have harsh abrasive guitars and heavy bass beats that knock the wind out of me. And it has to be something that really gets me going when I’m angry. Some minor bonus points might also be awarded if the song is extra sick or creepy in some special way.

Picking only five and ranking them is hard. Damn hard. And I know I’m forgetting some. These are simply the ones that came to mind as I sit here knocking back shots of Hornitos Tequila on a Saturday night.

Note: Song information can be clicked to listen on YouTube (where available).

5. Still – Geto Boys
I wouldn’t even know about this song if it wasn’t for the movie “Office Space.” Mike Judge, for that I thank you. The lyrics feature “Die muthafuckas!” ad infinitum and the following little nugget of joy (which guarantees this song instant cult status on my list): “Back up in your ass with the resurrection – Is the group harder than an erection – That shows no affection.”

4. Bodies – Drowning Pool
Just a killer tune. Due to the thumpin’ sounds I was forced to rank it higher than the honorable mentions listed below.

3. Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting – Nickelback
Elton John version? More cute than angry. Nickelback version? Quite nice and one that prompts me to sing along until I damage my vocal chords. Nickelback’s version thrashes better than the original and contains some subtle tweaks to the lyrics that kick it up a notch. “I could use a little muscle to get what I need, I’ll drink a fifth of jack and scream out – She’s with me!” This CD is always in my car so this song gets a lot of play.

2. Killing in the Name Of – Rage Against The Machine
I think it is safe to say any song with 16 or more f-bombs is always going to have a good chance of making the cut. This song brings the f-bombs and so much more. I have mentioned this song in a previous post.

Honorable mention for another Rage Against The Machine song: Wake Up. (This is the song played during the closing credits for The Matrix.)

1. The Game – Disturbed
On another web site we played a little game.  The premise: If you could pick one song to take with you on a deserted island, angry or not, to listen to over and over again, what would it be? This song was my pick. It pretty much has it all – angry lyrics, killer vocals, and it sounds great. I never get tired of it.

Honorable mention for another Disturbed song that almost made the cut: Violence Fetish. (Bring the violence!)

Honorable Mentions
These favorites of mine didn’t make the cut, mostly because they don’t have quite the same edginess or another crucial ingredient, but they still rock. They are listed in no particular order.