Sad: Accordingly, I'm on a "99 Red Balloons" kick at the moment, a mere 19 years or so too late. It's a beautiful song, though ever so sad. You can get a better, full .mp3 near the bottom of here, modulo linkrot. I want to know why it's quite such a sad song, other than the obvious ("it's about nuclear war") - or, generalising, why some songs can be so sad and yet so effective. Here's what I've got so far.
- The internal rhyme structure, possibly benefitting from translation, is deliberately childish and similar to a nursery rhyme with the occasional made-up word - the best example being "To worry, worry, super-scurry / Call the troops out in a hurry".
- The deliberate contrast of the childish, fun nature of the image of a red balloon with the war and its aftermath.
- The first couplet emphasises the minor nature of the initial incident; "You and I in a little toy shop / Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got." - emphasis on the small size of the toy shop, (by implication) how inexpensive the balloons were and how generally weak a purchase "a bag of balloons" is from all the purchases that could be made in a toyshop. </li>
- The contrast between the happy, upbeat tune in a major key and the sad lyrics.
- The holding-back cadence used for the tune of the last line of the first three verses - compare with the more natural cadence used with the different pitch for "red" in the last line of the fourth verse, which is then repeated for emphasis.
- The ethereal, faint, wispy accompaniment to the first and fifth verses.
I want to throw in another poll at this point. Apologies for its assumption that relationships must be between exactly two people - more power to those of you who can make larger relationships work. I think the options are close to mutually exclusive but not actually completely so, thus: tickyboxes!
How important is it that you and a relationship partner have similar tastes in music?
Happy: Giving good gifts makes me happy, though I only feel I can manage it one or twice a year compared to several more workmanlike presents. Now please do argue with me on this one - convince me I'm off-base if you think I am - but there is a time and a place to give heartfelt presents and another time-place combination to give token gifts. Heartfelt gifts: whenever the opportunity and inspiration present themselves, without occasion or excuse being required. Token gifts: birthdays, Christmas. Mentioning no names at all and emphasising just how common this is: when people in a relationship have problems buying gifts for each other, that's a problem. Being able to surprise your partner (or even your friend!) with a perfect gift is wonderful, but people cannot surprise on demand and it's unrealistic and unhelpful to expect friends or partners to do so. Communicate about gifts! Enjoy the discussion!
There's a simple way around it: wishlists, wishlists, wishlists. Sometimes I see wishlists as a bit cheeky, a bit presumptuous that anyone might ever want to buy you a gift, but on balance I think they're a public service. Now I bet most people, on thinking wishlists, think Amazon - and some people, on thinking Amazon, think "one-click patent boycott" and think noamazon.com (which seems to be down). With respect to at least the one nice person I know who works at Amazon, I'm going to plug two meta-wishlist services which don't tie you down to a particular retailer: TheThingsIWant.com and WishFish. Other, more generic, non-automatic wish lists are also good solutions.
Sad: I definitely don't speak to my parents as much as I used to (in the long term) and I think I've identified the reason why. Nobody likes discussion where there's an undercurrent of "well, it's very nice that you're taking an interest, but due to the different experiences we've had, you just don't get it". Unfortunately, this seems to be creeping into my LJ experience more and more. I don't have anyone specific in mind; one of the nice things about LJ is that people are generally happy and prepared to evangelise and explain about their passions. Looking at this the other way, I know I often talk about things so obscure that people feel they can't really talk about them because they know they just don't get it in the same way. I can't really think of a way around this, except everyone's LiveJournal being read by ten times as many people, and I don't think anyone's actively doing anything wrong here - certainly not deliberately so. However, that doesn't stop it being perceptible and sad, though.
Happy... and Sad: Given that I've started a new poll, time to wrap up the old one - the "happiest LiveJournal" poll. The result: a seventeen-way tie for first place with one vote. Your winners are, in alphabetical order: anthologie, aome, bisonbaby, vardebedian, calliaume, cmshaw, heart_of_wine, foxmagic, gnimmel, lambertman, jaq, lisekit, mooders, solcita, venta, zonefox and zorac.
I think these are interesting results. 17 votes over a weekend is slightly down on what previous polls had received, but it certainly was a very tricky question when taken seriously. (Anonymous as promised, except that I didn't vote, and the people who I was thinking of voting for weren't nominated.) Many thanks to those who answered. A couple of people whose LJs I don't follow but who I recognise as tending to seem happy in their comments, a few people who I recognised as being certainly pretty content with their lot in life but who I hadn't thought of as being proactively happy and several other LJs which summon up no immediate images in my mind. I wonder how any of the nominated people feel about being nominated as happy, that their current state of happiness may be as happy as it gets - or, at least, as happy as it gets on someone else's Friends list?
On the other hand, I have a suspicion that the existence of this poll may not have been entirely happy for everyone. As wonderful as it is to celebrate those who are particularly happy in their lives, and as likely as I am to add some of the nominations to bring some extra happiness into my LJ life, I have a suspicion that the contrapositive of this poll is that there is a sense in which it could be said to deprecate or invalidate those who are not so happy, either in their life or in their LJ. Sometimes I find it difficult to think about the concept of not being happy and whose who are not happy. Drawing a slight veil, certainly I don't like the conclusions that I tend to draw when I think about these issues and try to take them to their logical conclusions. It wasn't my intention to rub it in to those who are unhappy.
Finishing on a Happy note, reasons to be cheerful:
- Paid users now get 20 syndication points rather than 10. Hurrah, especially as I peaked at using 10.2 of my permitted 10. I remember when the limit used to be 5...
- Kasparov played textbook anti-computer chess (or, perhaps, specifically anti-Fritz chess) to level the match at 1½-1½ and set up an exciting conclusion. Action starts at 1pm EST tomorrow on ESPN 2 or online.
- How's thee father? All right!