Monthly Archives: July 2009

Shakira’s She Wolf Cromulence

Shakira - She Wolf

Shakira - She Wolf


The first time I listened to Shakira’s She Wolf, I loved the sound, but the lyrics really stuck in my craw. There’s just something off about them. The rhyming missteps and the more-than-occasional inanity lead to a particular feel that I can only describe as incromulent (i.e. lacking cromulence).

Let’s inspect the song line-by-line.

A domesticated girl that’s all you ask of me

Fine, an easily understood complaint.

Darling it is no joke this is lycanthropy

Great start! A fancy word for werewolf completes a rhyming couplet.

The moon’s awake now with eyes wide open

A little inane, but one could appreciate the personification of the moon in a song about a she wolf.

My body’s craving so feed the hungry

Here’s where things start to go off the rails. The first insult is the rhyme scheme. I thought we had established rhyming couplets as the pattern, which leads to a hard jab to the ears when “open” is rhymed with “hungry.” And the phrase is just awkward. Together these two lines sound like a machine translation of a better written song in some other language.

I’ve been devoting myself to you Monday to Monday and Friday to Friday
Not getting enough retribution or decent incentives to keep me at it

No problems here except the word “retribution.” Again, it sounds like maybe Shakira wrote this song in her native language, and relied a little too much on Babelfish for the English version. Retribution has a negative connotation. It is not something you want. People often use it as a synonym for revenge. Here are two good definitions for retribution: 1) Punishment inflicted in the spirit of moral outrage or personal vengeance. 2) A justly deserved penalty. One typically does not complain about getting too little of such things.

Do I need to call attention to pairing the easily rhymable “Friday” with “at it?”

I’m starting to feel just a little abused like a coffee machine in an office.

Awesome metaphor! This is the infuriating thing about She Wolf. It feels like some thoughtful poetry fell into a blender with some Madlibs, someone hit puree, and then this song fell out.

So I’m gonna go to my closet and get me a lover and tell you all about it

This is the first mention of the closet. Apparently the she wolf is hiding in there. But the she wolf is also in disguise. The she wolf has a lot of issues.

Again “office” to “about it” – maybe we’re done with the rhyming couplets?

Sitting across a bar staring right at her prey
It’s going well so far she’s gonna get her way
Nocturnal creatures are not so prudent
The moon’s my teacher and I’m her student

Nope, first verse after the chorus, and the rhyming couplets are back.

To locate the single men I got on me a special radar

Note to the she wolves out there: special radar is not required. A short skirt will do just fine. In fact it is preferred to military hardware.

And the fire department hotline in case I get in trouble later

I would give credit for the near rhyme of “radar” and “later,” except that Shakira goes out of her way to pronounce the vowel sounds differently.

Not looking for cute little divos or rich city guys I just want to enjoy

??? I don’t know what this means, so I will just mention that Devo was an underappreciated band. There is more to them than Whip It.

I’m having a very good time behaving very bad in the arms of a boy

Several places offered different takes on this line. This one sounded the best to me, although its eloquence (out of place in this song) suggests I may just be helpfully mishearing.

Well, I’ve given the song a hard time, but I only criticize because I love. She Wolf is an infectious tune, sure to be with us for many years on many dance floors. Thank you, Shakira!

One last thing, though: Is it not possible to breathe in a closet?

Full lyrics to She Wolf by Shakira:
SOS she’s in disguise
SOS she’s in disguise
There’s a she wolf in disguise
Coming out coming out coming out

A domesticated girl that’s all you ask of me
Darling it is no joke this is lycanthropy
The moon’s awake now with eyes wide open
My body’s craving so feed the hungry

Ive been devoting myself to you Monday to Monday and Friday to Friday
Not getting enough retribution or decent incentives to keep me at it
I’m starting to feel just a little abused like a coffee machine in an office
So I’m gonna go to my closet and get me a lover and tell you all about it

There’s a she wolf in the closet
Open up and set it free
There’s a she wolf in the closet
Let it out so it can breathe

Sitting across a bar staring right at her prey
It’s going well so far shes gonna get her way
Nocturnal creatures are not so prudent
The moon’s my teacher and I’m her student

To locate the single men I got on me a special radar
And the fire department hotline in case I get in trouble later
Not looking for cute little divos or rich city guys I just want to enjoy
I’m having a very good time and behaving very badly in the arms of a boy

There’s a she wolf in the closet
Open up and set it free
There’s a she wolf in the closet
Let it out so it can breathe

SOS she’s in disguise
SOS she’s in disguise
There’s a she wolf in disguise
Coming out coming out coming out

SOS she’s in disguise
SOS she’s in disguise
There’s a she wolf in disguise
Coming out coming out coming out

There’s a she wolf in the closet, let it out so it can breathe

Miscommunicating in the Antipodes

Today I asked my officemate “How do you spell center?” By which I meant “How do YOU spell center?” I asked because I was finding it strange that my Australian copy of Word was red underlining my spelling of “center” and insisting on “centre” instead. In the U.S., at least, both spellings are common and accepted. I was surprised Word was marking “center” flat-out wrong. Not knowing the Australian viewpoint on the matter, I asked the nearest Aussie, my officemate.

Her response was that I should Google it. This also struck me as odd. I tried to explain that “er” versus “re” was the question I was after. Still, she insisted that Google would provide the answer. Slowly I came to realize that her take of the situation was that I truly did not know how to spell the word “center” and was asking her for help.

I had failed to communicate that I was curious about local spelling conventions. Instead I had somehow given the impression I was an utter, drooling moron.

There I was, making notes on an experiment, calculating frame rates in my head so I could program a Matlab routine to display stimuli for the right number of milliseconds, and the person sitting next to me blithely assumed I was a subliterate bogan.

People miscommunicate all the time. I miscommunicate all the time. But I don’t know if it pains other people as much as it does me. Even when the miscommunication does not (as it did today) involve the other party assigning me a single-digit IQ, even when the miscommunication is simple and slight, I feel it as a loss, as a deep pain. How can words fail me so often? Why do I find it so hard to connect with people?

When in Crazytown, eat what the Crazytonians eat.

Aussies are a creative bunch. Especially when it comes to food. Curry on pizza. Kangaroo steak with pumpkin.

I hadn’t seen anything until I visited the Queen Street Mall, however. Waiting there was a culinary offer I could not refuse.

Beef Stroganoff Crepe and Flat White

Beef Stroganoff Crepe and Flat White

It was the Hot Dog Crepe that initially caught my eye. But it was the Beef Stroganoff crepe that sealed my fate. If I knew nothing else, I knew I would be eating lunch at the Crepe Cafe.

Now, I love crepes. And I love beef stroganoff. Together, though? I wasn’t sure.

So how was it? Well, biting into a crepe and finding the taste of beef stroganoff is like kissing an angel that just ate some chocolate chip cookies. Which is to say, IT WAS AWESOME. If my heart could take it, I would eat this every day.

Blessed be the crepe-makers.

My Three Seashells

In Demolition Man, police officer John Spartan is cryogenically frozen and revived in San Angeles, a utopian/dystopian repressed future Southern California. After using the facilities, Spartan searches for toilet paper and finds instead only an enigmatic set of three seashells.

The movie (wisely) never explains how these are to be used, leaving the audience just as puzzled as the protagonist.

In Australia, I’ve encountered my own version of the Three Seashells.

Australia Toilet Buttons - My Three Seashells

Australia Toilet Buttons - My Three Seashells

Every toilet down under has two buttons. In the example pictured there is a smaller button and a larger button. On others one button is labeled with a filled semi-circle and the other a filled circle.

One might guess at the proper use of the two buttons, and one might be right. I’m still not sure.

As one hypothesis, I thought one button might produce a bidet action. Upon testing (standing well back to be safe), I determined this was not the case.

Failing some special function, it seems implied that one button should produce a stronger or longer flush than the other, but on casual inspection I would say if this is the difference, it is a subtle one.

I was hoping one button might provide a proper Northern Hemisphere swirl pattern for us Yanks, but sadly I’ve found most toilets here produce no swirl at all. So much for witnessing the Coriolis effect. (Yes, I know it doesn’t really work that way.)

So, the purpose of two different buttons remains a mystery to me. It may be better that way, as you really do not want to know how the three seashells are supposed to work. Really, I’m warning you not to click on that link. It will take you to a blog called the Poop Report. Consider yourself forewarned.