Friday, August 24, 2012

I wrote something somewhere else

Hey, I did a guest review of Mack & Mabel, one of the shows I saw while I was in London. It's on @MildlyBitter's excellent blog, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in THEATAH in New York and beyond.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I hate the Beloit College Mindset.


Supposedly it's "a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall." I'm not buying it (even accepting that "students entering college this fall" means "17-to-18-year-olds," which, come on). Mostly it serves as a "YOU SO OLD!" reminder for professors, I guess. I'd rather watch I Love the 90s, thank you.

So, instead of doing a nice write-up of my vacation, I present you: my annotated version of the Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2016.

1. They should keep their eyes open for Justin Bieber or Dakota Fanning at freshman orientation.
I don’t know what this means... Is the Biebs going to Beloit? I would have thought he’d at least take a gap year. If you were Justin Bieber, where would you go to college?
2. They have always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of “electronic narcotics.”
Have they ever even heard the term “cyberspace”? I guess it’s better than “Information Superhighway.” Librarian pro tip: if you search for “cyberspace” or “information superhighway” in your library’s catalog, you will find SHELVES of stuff to weed. I will not comment on "electronic narcotics" (because I'm too busy playing Angry Birds).
3. The Biblical sources of terms such as “Forbidden Fruit,” “The writing on the wall,” “Good Samaritan,” and “The Promised Land” are unknown to most of them.
As opposed to... who? Fun anecdote: last spring I sang William Walton’s “Belshazzar’s Feast” with a local chorus and orchestra, and many of the singers (including myself) were interested to discover that the phrase “the writing on the wall” comes from said Biblical story. Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin, folks.
4. Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes “American Royalty.”
5. If they miss The Daily Show, they can always get their news on YouTube.
Yeah, those kids, always looking for news stories on YouTube. Also, The Daily Show is on Hulu, yo, get with the program.
6. Their lives have been measured in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds.
7. Robert De Niro is thought of as Greg Focker's long-suffering father-in-law, not as Vito Corleone or Jimmy Conway.
I guess this is probably true? Full disclosure: I haven’t seen Goodfellas.
8. Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge.
I guess? I mean, he was president until they were like five years old.
9. They have never seen an airplane “ticket.”
Probably true. Although, you know what, I actually bought a paper airplane ticket from a travel agent a couple of years ago. It was on the Greek island of Kastellorizo - you should go, it’s very peaceful. And if it’s not siesta time you can walk into the travel agent’s office and pay cash for an airplane ticket.
10. On TV and in films, the ditzy dumb blonde female generally has been replaced by a couple of Dumb and Dumber males.
Eh. I’m sure someone at Beloit did the research and checked out the number of “dumb guys” to “dumb girls” in movies pre and post 1995. Right? They wouldn’t just make stuff up.
11. The paradox "too big to fail" has been, for their generation, what "we had to destroy the village in order to save it" was for their grandparents'.
I guess since I am neither of these kids’ generation nor of their grandparents’ generation, I must have missed out on paradoxical aphorisms. Can anyone think of a good one for the early 90s?
12. For most of their lives, maintaining relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world has been a woman’s job in the State Department.
I don't understand why this sentence avoids using the phrase "Secretary of State."
13. They can’t picture people actually carrying luggage through airports rather than rolling it.
When *I* was a child we had rolling suitcases but they just had tiny wheels and a leash! Things were so different. Oh and actually I don't use wheeled luggage myself.
14. There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
This may very well be true. I would not know.
15. Having grown up with MP3s and iPods, they never listen to music on the car radio and really have no use for radio at all.
Is this true? I guess it could be. For me, sometimes I listen to the radio because it is just too much work to plug my phone into the AUX jack, but I was born on the Gen X/Gen Y cusp, with the moon in Slackass, so that’s where I’m coming from.
16. Since they've been born, the United States has measured progress by a 2 percent jump in unemployment and a 16 cent rise in the price of a first class postage stamp.
But I bet they don’t spend much on postage because they’re always sending their messages with the BAUDS.
17. Benjamin Braddock, having given up both a career in plastics and a relationship with Mrs. Robinson, could be their grandfather.
This really says a lot more about the people this list is aimed at than the people this list is supposed to be about, doesn’t it?
18. Their folks have never gazed with pride on a new set of bound encyclopedias on the bookshelf.
19. The Green Bay Packers have always celebrated with the Lambeau Leap.
I don’t know what this is. The Packers are the ones with the horns on their helmets, right? (KIDDING! Get back, cheeseheads!) But Beloit is in Wisconsin, so I will defer and assume that this is indeed a cultural touchstone there.
20. Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction to be corrected quietly by well-meaning friends.
Also, wedding dresses have always been strapless. Actually I don’t know if that’s true. But it could be. Put it on the list!
21. A significant percentage of them will enter college already displaying some hearing loss.
Is this different from my generation? Or my parents’ generation? Is it all the iPods? Increased diagnosis? I don't think you can just lay this out there without a cite.
22. The Real World has always stopped being polite and started getting real on MTV.
True story: I thought that The Real World had gone off the air years ago. I think I was thinking of Road Rules, or possibly Real World/Road Rules Challenge (which is back!!!!)
23. Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles.
24. White House security has never felt it necessary to wear rubber gloves when gay groups have visited.
Gay men have never been allowed to donate blood. Oh, wait these aren’t supposed to be downers, are they?
25. They have lived in an era of instant stardom and self-proclaimed celebrities, famous for being famous.
Yeah, this is probably true. I think it’s connected to 22.
26. Having made the acquaintance of Furby at an early age, they have expected their toy friends to do ever more unpredictable things.
Ah, Furby. Would Kids These Days even remember Furby? Was Furby all that great?  I remember a couple of my friends having Furbies senior year, but I still get Furby mixed up with Funzo, I’m not going to lie.
27. Outdated icons with images of floppy discs for “save,” a telephone for “phone,” and a snail mail envelope for “mail” have oddly decorated their tablets and smart phone screens.
That is odd, isn’t it? Do you think that’s going to go on forever? What would make more sense at this point? Is this how ideographs happen?
28. Star Wars has always been just a film, not a defense strategy.
It's too bad they didn't start doing this list until 1998, otherwise they could have busted out, “Star Wars isn’t just a film, it’s a defense strategy,” circa 1990.
29. They have had to incessantly remind their parents not to refer to their CDs and DVDs as “tapes.”
This seems highly specific. What parent of an 18-year-old contributed this one?
30. There have always been blue M&Ms, but no tan ones.
This gives me great insight into the lives of college freshmen.
31. Along with online viewbooks, parents have always been able to check the crime stats for the colleges their kids have selected.
Again, I just don’t see that this offers a lot of insight into the lives of freshmen, especially given that there haven’t been any amendments to the Clery Act (which requires reporting of campus crime statistics) since 2008. Maybe this was on the list last year, too. I don’t know. I’ve spent too much time thinking about this already and I'm not even halfway done.
32. Newt Gingrich has always been a key figure in politics, trying to change the way America thinks about everything.
God, it seems like Newt Gingrich HAS always been a figure in politics. Well, except for that period of several years when he was kind of off the radar. But still.
33. They have come to political consciousness during a time of increasing doubts about America’s future.
So this is maybe a thing they have in common with the aging boomers who write this list.
34. Billy Graham is as familiar to them as Otto Graham was to their parents.
Those kids! With their Billy Graham! (Otto Graham apparently played football in the 40s and 50s. As in, MY parents wouldn’t remember this guy, never mind the parents of 17-year-olds.)
35. Probably the most tribal generation in history, they despise being separated from contact with their similar-aged friends.
Not like those earlier generations of teenagers, who were always angling to hang around with the elderly.
36. Stephen Breyer has always been an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Is this an aid to understanding the class of 2016 or an argument for Supreme Court term limits?
37. Martin Lawrence has always been banned from hosting Saturday Night Live.
Did you know Martin Lawrence was banned from hosting SNL? Seems kind of unnecessary now, doesn’t it? Am I banned from hosting SNL? Is that why they never call?
38. Slavery has always been unconstitutional in Mississippi, and Southern Baptists have always been apologizing for supporting it in the first place.
You guys, was slavery constitutional in Mississippi in 1994? You could tell me it was and I would believe you. But I’m guessing this is about the Southern Baptists. I feel like I remember something from around that time.
39. The Metropolitan Opera House in New York has always translated operas on seatback screens.
Oh, yeah, the kids go crazy for those seatback opera screens! (FOR SERIOUS, WHO IS THIS FOR??? I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT THIS AND I GO TO THE OPERA A COUPLE OF TIMES A YEAR, though not at the Met obviously.)
40. A bit of the late Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, has always existed in space.
Sometimes I feel like they just went to the Wikipedia page for 1994 and picked things at random.
41. Good music programmers are rock stars to the women of this generation, just as guitar players were for their mothers.
What are we talking about here? Like the people who create the beats over which sweet raps are laid down? Or people who book clubs? Or, like, that guy at Clear Channel that decides what music everyone in America is going to listen to? Also: music programmers are male, and boys kiss GIRLS, Lisa.
42. Gene therapy has always been an available treatment.
And the kids just eat it up!
43. They were too young to enjoy the 1994 World Series, but then no one else got to enjoy it either.
Just couldn’t wait until next year to work in a reference to the MLB strike, could you?
44. The folks have always been able to grab an Aleve when the kids started giving them a migraine.
I need an Aleve if I’m going to get through this list.
45. While the iconic TV series for their older siblings was the sci-fi show Lost, for them it’s Breaking Bad, a gritty crime story motivated by desperate economic circumstances.
Do kids watch Breaking Bad? Really? On AMC?
46. Simba has always had trouble waiting to be King.
I remember watching this movie with kids I was babysitting in high school. So yes this is true. I guess.
47. Before they purchase an assigned textbook, they will investigate whether it is available for rent or purchase as an e-book.
Or for illegal download from a torrent site.
48. They grew up, somehow, without the benefits of Romper Room.
49. There has always been a World Trade Organization.
Yeah, 17-year-olds just can’t get enough of the WTO! Amirite!?
50. L.L. Bean hunting shoes have always been known as just plain Bean Boots.
Those kids and their Bean Boots!
51. They have always been able to see Starz on Direct TV.
Movies, movies, movies, movies, movies, movies, moooovies! Movies, movies, movies, movies! When I want movies I wanna see STARZ!”
52. Ice skating competitions have always been jumping matches.
No artistic bla bla kids these days with their tire irons, hitting girls in the knees.
53. There has always been a Santa Clause.
54. NBC has never shown A Wonderful Life [sic] more than twice during the holidays.
I don’t know why, but I suspect someone wrote this as “once” and then they fact-checked it and actually it was “twice” and they were like, “huh, twice really isn’t as strong as once,” but then they left it in anyhow.
55. Mr. Burns has replaced J.R.Ewing as the most shot-at man on American television.
This is poorly-phrased; please rewrite.
56. They have always enjoyed school and summer camp memories with a digital yearbook.
You know what *I* think is interesting is when you explain to Kids These Days that a facebook used to be an actual physical book that you would get with pictures of people’s faces in it. They are TOTALLY SURPRISED. Seriously, tell an under-20 this, or better yet dig one out and show them. You will BLOW THEIR MIND.
57. Herr Schindler has always had a List; Mr. Spielberg has always had an Oscar.
It’s funny because Schindler’s List came out in 1994.
58. Selena's fans have always been in mourning.
If you said Selena to a Kid These Days I bet that Kid would think you meant Selena Gomez. That’s why it’s important to use Selena’s full name: Slain Tejano Singer Selena.
59. They know many established film stars by their voices on computer-animated blockbusters.
I just. I mean, stars have done animated voices for a long time! Not on computer-animated blockbusters,  I guess.
60. History has always had its own channel.
But how long has that channel been showing Ancient Aliens???
61. Thousands have always been gathering for “million-man” demonstrations in Washington, D.C.
I guess. Whatever.
62. Television and film dramas have always risked being pulled because the story line was too close to the headlines from which they were ”ripped.”
Like, accidentally or on purpose? I don’t understand this one. Probably because I don’t have the right mindset.
63. The Twilight Zone involves vampires, not Rod Serling.
This item would be 50 times better if it included the word “sparkly.”
64. Robert Osborne has always been introducing Hollywood history on TCM.
They love Turner Classic Movies, those 17-year-olds. They watch it because they want more blonde bimbos and less Dumb and Dumber guys.
65. Little Caesar has always been proclaiming “Pizza Pizza.”
Has he, though? I feel like Little Caesar’s heyday was during my sleepover days, circa 1990. I haven’t heard “Pizza Pizza” in 10 years.
66. They have no recollection of when Arianna Huffington was a conservative.
Not like previous generations of 17-year-olds, who were deeply clued-in to Ariana Huffington’s political past.
67. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has always been officially recognized with clinical guidelines.
And therefore is being successfully cured! Oh, wait.
68. They watch television everywhere but on a television.
Except when they’re watching TCM, the History Channel, or Breaking Bad.
69. Pulp Fiction’s meal of a "Royale with Cheese" and an “Amos and Andy milkshake” has little or no resonance with them.
Please write a 250-300 word reaction piece on the resonance the "Amos and Andy milkshake" holds for you.
70. Point-and-shoot cameras are soooooo last millennium.
Because of the phones, I guess.
71. Despite being preferred urban gathering places, two-thirds of the independent bookstores in the United States have closed for good during their lifetimes.
This is a peeve of mine. I mean, sure, there are GREAT independent bookstores out there, but there were also a lot of crappy ones. Most of the independent bookstores in the United States were not "preferred urban gathering places."
72. Astronauts have always spent well over a year in a single space flight.
I did not know this. Like, I didn’t know that all space flights take a year. I guess it’s because of the space station?
73. Lou Gehrig's record for most consecutive baseball games played has never stood in their lifetimes.
Two baseball references and two football. Can we please get some hockey up in here? Maybe some basketball?
74. Genomes of living things have always been sequenced.
Yet my colleagues don’t want to throw away our DNA sequencing books from 1995.
75. The Sistine Chapel ceiling has always been brighter and cleaner.
And that really says it all, doesn’t it?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Things I would have tweeted on the way to Maine if I dared text while driving

circa 11:07: On the road at last!

c. 11:20: Lots of disabled cars on the Mass Pike. Tough start to a holiday weekend!

c. 11:45: Yikes! My bike rack is slipping big time! Better stop at McDonalds to tighten the straps!

c. 1:25: OMG this traffic is making me want to die. Time for a McCafe break.

c. 1:30: Life is much better with a fresh iced latte in my cupholder.

c. 1:45: Traffic was from a broken down RV on a bridge! Hooray for the open road.

c. 1:50: So much for the open road. Stopped again. #killmenow

c. 1:55: I should have just started riding the bike instead of tightening the straps on the bike rack.

c. 2:35: I don't care if it's only been an hour since the last McCafe, I'm stopping again.

c. 2:40: Took an inadvertent tour of charming historic Amesbury, but I've got a full tank of gas and another iced latte, so who cares!

c. 2:50: My "Queen: Greatest Hits" album seems to be missing a lot of their greatest hits. Whither "Bohemian Rhapsody?" Whither "Radio Ga Ga?"

c. 3:00: Listening to "Don't Stop Me Now" while you're stuck in traffic is more depressing than not. #makeasupersonicwomanofme

c. 3:20: Getting off of I-95 to take route 1 instead is an interesting idea, Google Maps, but I'm not falling for your tricks.

c. 3:45: Only 4.5 hours to drive 170 miles! That's almost 40 mph! In medieval times people would have thought I was a wizard! #stupidpeasants

Friday, July 1, 2011

A post about farms, bumper stickers, and shared cultural touchstones

Around here I see a lot of cars sporting "No farms, no food" bumper stickers. It's the slogan of an organization that works to protect farmland from development, which is a pretty popular position around here, where the quality of the soil and the short growing season make farming even more of a dicey proposition than in many other parts of the US. Add to that the fact that New England is pretty heavily developed already, and it's not hard to see why a farmer in Western Massachusetts might be willing to sell her fields to Wal-Mart or something.

Anyway, over the past week or so I've seen two variant bumper stickers. One said, "No farms, no beer," which is funny (beer!) and more accurate than the original sticker - after all, we could always fish and hunt and gather, (though I wouldn't like to do it myself) but making beer exclusively from wild hops and barley seems pretty unlikely. The other one was a more positive, but less grammatically parsable "Yes farms, yes food." Would "Yes farms, yes food" make sense to someone who wasn't already familiar with the "No farms, no food" sticker? I've heard of (though I haven't seen) yet another bumper sticker that says, "Know farms, know food," which is another nice take on the topic AND possibly a riff on a popular religious slogan - "No God, no peace; know God, know peace"* but again, not something that makes a whole lot of sense on its own.

Which reminds me of a great bumper sticker I saw last year at a gift shop near Baxter State Park in Maine. It said, "This car climbed Mt. Katahdin," and I thought it was hilarious (I didn't buy one and I'm still annoyed with myself about that - next time I am at Baxter I am 100% definitely getting one). Now, in order to find that bumper sticker as hilarious as I do you have to be in a certain shared cultural space with me.
  1. You have to be familiar with the "This car climbed Mt. Washington" bumper sticker, reasonably common in New England, advertising the prowess of cars that have ascended New England's highest peak via the (genuinely treacherous) Mt. Washington auto road.
  2. You have to know that the peak of Mt. Katahdin is accessible only by foot.
  3. And for good measure, it helps to know that although Katahdin is about 1,000 feet shorter than Washington, it's an absolute bastard to climb, and significantly more difficult (and vastly less popular) than Mt. Washington.
Anyway, what I'm saying is, bumper stickers don't have a lot of room to get their message across, and so the best ones use not only catchy slogans but also cultural in-jokes and shared understanding. I'm coming to appreciate the genius of the clever bumper sticker, and thinking it might be time to get some for my as-yet-sticker free car. If you're heading up to Baxter pick one up for me.

* With assorted variations like "No Jesus, no love," etc.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Crowdsource the anthem!

So, I didn't watch the Super Bowl last night because I am a Bad American, but I did at least get to hear Christina Aguilera's version of The Star-Spangled Banner on Hot 93.7* this morning. And you know what? I think on the whole, we are better off just singing our national anthem our own damn selves. It is time for all patriotic Americans to reclaim control of our national anthem from the "singers" who, let's face it, haven't exactly been doing a bang-up job with it.

Exhibit 1!

The crowd at Fenway Park picks up the tune when a disabled man dissolves into nervous giggles (also, note that this man gets further into the song without making mistakes than Xtina does!). Everyone sounds great.

Exhibit 2!

The crowd at a minor league hockey game in Virginia finishes the anthem when a little girl's mic cuts out. They sound even better than the Fenway crowd!

What I'm saying is, yes, The Star-Spangled Banner is kind of a difficult song for any one person to sing, but it actually sounds good when sung by a crowd. Which makes sense, given that the tune comes from a drinking song. Who sings drinking songs as dramatic solos?** And even if people mess up the words, there are enough other people singing to cover for it.

I'm not saying a solo version of The Star-Spangled Banner can't succeed - I've got a soft spot and a half for Rene Rancourt***, for example:

To me, the most successful performances of The Star-Spangled Banner are the ones that let the crowd sing along! But no, no one just sings the damn song straight, everyone wants to show off! I wish we could have the singer(s) get the song started and then let the crowd take over. I think the main barrier is not the difficulty, but just that it's a long song - I don't know if everyone would stay in for the whole thing (without an adorable child or intellectually-challenged person to support).

And it's not going to happen, because people want their chances to show off, and even with eleventy-million professional, semi-pro, college, high school, and peewee sports games being played in the US every year, there eleventy-one million stars, starlets, kids, acapella groups, military bands, and state troopers itching to perform their souped-up versions of the national anthem. And maybe because we've all been taught that The Star-Spangled Banner is too difficult for ordinary people to sing.

But it's not! Really! Together we can perform this song! Let's do it! We'll sound great!

*Connecticut's #1 for Hip-Hop and R&B - I'm mostly an NPR girl, but I can't stand Cokie Roberts' "analysis", so every Monday morning when she comes on, it's Hot 93.7 all the way.

**Ooh, now I'm tempted to record an extended, melisma-filled version of, I don't know, "The Irish Rover" or something.

***Although really I think I like Rene Rancourt's O Canada even better than his Star-Spangled Banner. Observe this fabulous example of classy passive-aggressiveness exhibited by Rancourt and a Garden full of Bruins fans after Canadiens fans booed the Star-Spangled Banner in Montreal:

Friday, January 7, 2011

Buying woollen things

I said I would write more about Iceland and then I forgot. Whoops! Here goes, then - I did a bunch of shopping when I was in Iceland. I am not much of a shopper when I'm at home, but I do like visiting shops in unfamiliar places, that carry unfamiliar goods. I don't always buy much, but it's fun to look.

Iceland has a reputation for being very expensive, and this is true to some extent; food and alcohol are especially high-priced (with the exception of fish, lamb, and brennivin), and a lot of the items in shops would be much cheaper anywhere other than in Iceland. Check out these Silly Bandz knockoffs selling for almost $3 a dozen!


I don't shop for Silly Bandz regularly but I hope that's not how much they cost in the US, because if so all those poor kids are getting shafted.

But there are bargains to be had in Iceland, especially on wool. Did you know that in Icelandic the word for "money" and the word for "sheep" is the same word? That's what a shopkeeper told me, and this online English-Icelandic dictionary backs me up.

One nice thing about buying wool products in Iceland is that if you export them you can get all your VAT (something like 15%) back, no matter how much wool you buy. These yarns cost about half as much in Iceland as they do in the US, so there are great bargains to be had for knitters. They also have wool for felting at what appeared to be an excellent price, though I am not a felter so I don't know how it compares. I bought a lot of yarn at the Handknitting Association of Iceland shop, enough to fill my small suitcase (fortunately, I had brought an extra suitcase in anticipation of this event). Most of it was for me, but some was for a friend. I swear! I wish I'd bought more.


The Handknitting Association also sells great handmade Lopi sweaters, which are very, very popular in Iceland, though I think most of the ones you see Icelanders wearing are not just handmade but homemade - all Icelanders learn to knit in primary school, and Lopi sweaters are not difficult to knit, so pretty much any grandma or aunt (or uncle or whatever!) has the know-how to make one of these. Non-knitters can skip the rest of this paragraph, but knitting nerds may be interested to know that Lopi sweaters are knitted from the bottom up, in the round, from bulky weight Icelandic wool, and they feature a stranded colorworked yoke, often featuring 3-4 shades of the same color (grays, browns, or blues, for example). Pullovers, buttoned cardigans, and zip cardigans are all pretty popular.

As a knitter, I chose to buy the yarn and knit my own, but if you don't knit but want a great souvenir of Iceland, I think a Lopi sweater is a great choice - they're very attractive, unmistakeably Icelandic, and super-useful (I use mine in place of a jacket in fall and early winter). They're scratchy, but they're also nearly waterproof, and pretty durable. If you can't afford the prices in the tourist shops, check out the Icelandic Red Cross thrift store on Laugavegur in Reykjavik - you might luck out and find a used one you like there.

In addition to the yarn, I bought two scarves, one fancy and one functional, both of Icelandic wool. I spent way too much on the fancy scarf but I love it. It's by a small Icelandic brand called Kurlproject (WARNING: site plays music automatically, ugh). It seems like everyone in Iceland is either a clothing designer or a musician. Or both.

I also bought an adorable felt Christmas ornament:


The brand on this one is Kata Handverk, and the crafter had loads of different types of ornaments and figurines, all the same basic shape. I wish I'd gotten her little nativity/creche! It was so cute. On the other hand, I don't really have any spare surfaces in my apartment that I want to turn over to a nativity scene and I'm not really religious. So, maybe I was right. I like buying souvenir Christmas ornaments, because you don't get used to them - you get to rediscover and remember them every year when you trim the tree.

I bought some other stuff but it was mostly junk. The main exports of Iceland are fish, fishing-related equipment, aluminum, software, and woolen goods. I don't really need any aluminum or fishing-related equipment, software I can buy pretty easily from home, and I can't legally import fish into the US. So woolens it is! Oh, and some cute little hand-carved wooden sheep for a toddler cousin.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I think a lot of people have the experience where they're dreaming but they're frozen - unable to move to run away from something or towards something or whatever. This makes a lot of sense, since when you're in dream-stage sleep all your muscle movements are frozen, and just like a light or noise from outside of your brain can sneak into your dream (I once had a dream that a friend was excitedly telling me about the Red Sox home opener, which turned out to be my clock radio telling me the same information), the feeling of paralysis can sneak into your dream as well (I think! Any stray sleep scientists stumbling across this blog, please correct me as necessary!).

I had a weird variation on this experience the other night. I dreamt that I was on a subway with some (ill-defined) friends, and someone started singing the Hallelujah Chorus (sort of like one of those Hallelujah Chorus flashmobs you see on YouTube). I tried to join in on the soprano part (because no one else was singing it), but I could only make choking, squawking noises. I strongly suspect that if anyone had been in the room with me, they would have complained to me in the morning about how I had been waking them up with my weird chokey squawky noises. I think my sleep-paralyzed vocal chords weren't responding to my brain's message ("Sing 'King of Kings!', dammit!") and I worked that "my voice doesn't work" feeling into the dream. I can't think of another time when I've dreamed about singing; I wonder if this always happens?