Backstabbing Central: Survivor Cagayan

Look… I did not think I was going to like this show as much as I do. I couldn’t stand the rain, so I decided to start watching Survivor – just to see what all the hype was about. I started on Season 28, the most recent on Netflix, which hosted three groups: Brains, Brawn, and Beauty. 

SPOILERS AHEAD

Eventually, Brawn and Beauty wiped out Brains in a series of challenges, diminishing their size against the other two, leading to the first merge: each member drew a color and was assigned to a new tribe, some with nearly complete strangers, others with their whole group staying as a collective with some stragglers.

Tony, Woo, and Spencer were some of the most interesting players. Woo, a taekwondo instructor, played with the most integrity I have ever seen. Never once did he maliciously lie, cheat, or steal in order to pull himself to the top two: he brought himself up on his own by being a reliable player with respectable loyalties.

Tony bled into the opposite end of the spectrum: he played a ruthless game and sabotaged every single person at camp in order to get there, except for Woo. He swore on his badge as a police officer, his wife and children, and his father’s grave: and he still broke them. He had no respectable characteristics except for his sheer hustle to get into the top two.

While Spencer didn’t make it to the top two, I have to give credit where credit is due. Even the host of the show didn’t think he’d make it as far as he did. He strategized with other players as often as he could and as efficiently as he could, and he knew when to make the moves that other players didn’t want to. My favorite thing that he said was at the beginning of the game when he was forced to vote a fellow member of the Brain tribe out. He said something along the lines of, “the fact that you have a PhD in nuclear engineering scares me,”

In the final episode, Tony and Woo faced the jury, consisting of members that had been voted out beforehand. With an overwhelming number of votes, Tony won Survivor: Cagayan, and rage has never filled my body so quickly.

Personally, I believe that Tony was a backstabbing, two-faced liar who didn’t even deserve to make it as far as he did. The entirety of the finale led to an entirely too drawn out discussion of whether you should vote for the player who played the best game or the player who made it the farthest without stabbing anyone in the back. If it were the latter, Woo most certainly should have won.

My Love/Hate Relationship With John Mayer

You are an expert at sorry
And keeping lines blurry,
Never impressed by me acing your tests,
All the girls that you’ve run dry
Have tired, lifeless eyes
‘Cause you burned them out
But I took your matches before fire could catch me,
So don’t look now,
I’m shining like fireworks over your sad, empty town

Lyrical genius Taylor Swift poured these words from the very deepest crevices of her heart, and the world went crazy. Justifiably so, because this is one of the best bridges Blondie has ever released. Various twitter polls have confirmed that it’s a fan favorite, partially due to the whole song being an absolute masterpiece, but also due to the nature of her growing lyricism.

Blondie released “Dear John” as a loud and clear callout to John Mayer, down to the name. At just 19 years old, Taylor found herself between the grips of 32-year-old John. As history has proven, the law is not a gauge for morality. 19 is a pivotal time in any young person’s life, especially a young woman who had spent over 5 years in the spotlight.

The rest of the song goes on to explain in vague detail how he took advantage of her, and how she consistently felt like he was just using her. Looking at their age gap from the outside, it’s not hard to believe her and not uncommon for similar instances to have happened in the industry before. The song also explains how he acted like a completely different person all the time, implying that she had to walk on eggshells all the time for fear of upsetting him.

Against what I would hope to be his better judgement, John joined Tik Tok in March of 2021. Better late than never, right? Well… he was promptly met with a slew of Swifties ready to aim fire at his every move. As a proud Swiftie, I would like to say here and now: I took no part in either side of the altercation.

Until September of this year, my one (1) guilty pleasure was that I listened to and enjoyed “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” because hello?? It’s so good, and for what? Anyways, a good friend of mine recommended some songs to me, and because I’m desperate for new music, I reluctantly obliged. I was… regrettably and pleasantly surprised. To the surprise of absolutely no one, spoiler alert: none of these highlights are “Why You No Love Me.” Just putting that out there right now.

– Rosie –
At first, I had no idea what to think. It was either going to be very very good or very very bad, no in between. Until it was. “Rosie” is the in-between song, but its status makes sense for what it is. It’s written from the point of view of a man who ruined his previous relationship with alcoholism. He shows up to her doorstep, drunk, asking for another chance, and she doesn’t give it to him. However, the lyrics also apply to various situations, including the narrator’s knowledge that Rosie has moved on with another man. He’s okay with making bad decisions, even though he knows he’ll regret it in the morning. The versatility of this song is incredible, and I wasn’t expecting it to hit some of the mental spots that it did. It’s not an absolute 10/10, but it’s for sure a song that I naturally gravitate toward – maybe a 7.

– Half of My Heart –
Ironically, this song features Taylor Swift herself, and it’s lyrically fantastic. I will say, the foreshadowing to real-life events is a bit eerie, but because Blondie is featured, I guess I’ll let it slide. The story follows a man who has to swallow his pride in order to let go of the woman he loves, because he knows he can’t love her to the depths that she deserves. On par with his versatility pattern, it could very well be an allusion to relationships where one party still has lingering feelings for someone else, and they decide to cut ties with the current partner. Regardless, it’s a uniquely selfless song (considering the artist), and I’d give it a 9/10, including the added point for Blondie.

– Shouldn’t Matter But It Does –
This song came as a specific recommendation, and honestly I’m still kind of mad about it, because I did not need to wallow in this for as long as I did. It reminisces the end of a relationship and his hesitation to admit how he feels. Arguably, it’s one of his most complex lyric compositions, balancing ideas of toxic masculinity, blame, regret, and the white-knuckle grip you can have to something of the past. Most importantly, he focuses on his own introspection, asking himself why he’s still struggling and why he feels the way he does. He beats himself up about having normal human emotions, and it speaks volumes about the way men’s mental health is approached in society. Overall, 10/10, no exaggeration.

– Something Like Olivia –
Great, so this song is, in fact, the polar opposite of the selflessness observed in “Half of My Heart.” It speaks from the perspective of a man who spends his time searching for someone, particularly a woman similar to the one he speaks about in the song. She very clearly has a boyfriend, and he doesn’t act upon his desire for her, but his allowance for mental roaming is… questionable. However, the longing for someone who is similar to someone else is a quite universal experience, so I can’t really fault him for that. Despite being somewhat unethical and selfish, it’s a fantastic reflection of human flaws and our tendency to want things, but having the moral consciousness not to act on it. I’d give it a solid 7.5/10.

Part II available upon request…

an adhd reader’s executive dysfunction

my original title was going to be “wow i need to read more,” but i think that speaks too much for itself and leave’s no room for writer’s interpretation. while the writing department has blessed my eager heart with great literature from my peers, it has left me with a generous second and a half of free time weekly, which is not nearly enough to read a book that isn’t obligatory. 

however, i have gotten into some really good music lately, and i’ve conjured up some recommendations (pulled directly from: my fall 2021 playlist)

better friends – abby cates
“better friends that won’t remind me I’m a bit alone, better characters who maybe won’t let me down,”
little repetitive, but honestly a vibe. explores the themes of needing to feel understood by those around you. it addresses the inner thoughts of someone who feels like an outcast, even within their friend groups.

army – lauren weintraub
“my friends all say i dodged a bullet, but they don’t even know it, no… i dodged the whole damn army,”
unreleased as of right now, this is sadly not released, except for a 30ish second excerpt on lauren’s tik tok. it has a vibe that crosses avril lavigne with hayley williams, and i’m not even mad about it – i’m just excited for the release date.

tartarus – ghostemane
“let me put kerosene all on my past and let it all go up in flames,”
less lyrically inept, but a good song to have in the background for getting ready in the mornings, being in the shower, mindless tasks and the like.

lotta true crime – penelope scott
“y’know dennis rayder and david parker ray actually sit together in hell, shaking, quaking, terrified that someday, somehow, someway– they might meet me,”
this song has been trending on tik tok for a while, but that absolutely has no effect on its value. she goes into why she listens to true crime (presumably podcasts or youtube videos) and why it’s way deeper than the surface.

two week notice – leanna firestone
“if you wanted to freelance, i don’t know why you ever applied to a 9-5,”
leanna firestone is also an artist from tik tok, but she has so much talent. this song compares an old relationship to being “his job,” using a two week notice as a parallel to how things changed before the actual breakup. she also uses “better hours or better pay,” as a means to say that someone else will take less of his time or worth more than her, and “better management” as a way to say the new girl might be easier to deal with. overall, great use of metaphors and other figurative language.

hmu if u don’t like me – ashley kutcher
“my love language is destructive, i want guys who just want nothing,”
inspired by a tweet from blackbear, this song is applicable to so many situations that people find themselves in, particularly the idea of only wanting people who don’t want you back. however, many of the lyrics can apply to being in a situationship that you don’t want to be in, being afraid of relationships, and just generally having really bad taste.

washing machine heart – mitski
“i know who you pretend i am,”
yet another example of me stealing lauren’s brand, this song is about entering a relationship that you know will destroy you, but doing it anyways. particularly, it’s two views of a relationship where someone is not wholeheartedly invested in the other person – just the feeling of it. 

i think that’s everything i have for today, but stay tuned for my really bad music takes sometime soon – hey, maybe i’ll recover from the bullying and uncover some good country ones. 

spilled milk… or water

figurative language is not my strong suit. now, i can read, write, and otherwise comprehend it well, but i haven’t always been able to. i always struggled particularly with popular idioms that had no real significance.

for example, i grew up with one of pretty much everything: mom, dad, sister, brother, cat, and dog. my parents would always talk about my sister and i fighting like cats and dogs, and i was confused because… my pets hadn’t fought a day in their lives. come to find out, it was just an expression and i was just autistic. 

i also never understood the “don’t cry over spilled milk” sentiment.

last night, i sat in the cafeteria, playing a video game. granted, it was a humiliating one because it was made for literal children, which led a few of my friends to be very concerned about my mental well-being (and rightfully so). two friends sat down while questioning my life choices (i don’t blame them), and right in the middle of the cafeteria at an underwhelming 8:45 at night, i started sobbing. not for no reason, there were circumstances, but there didn’t appear to be. 

my two friends tried to console me, but nothing helped. i sat there playing my game for an hour longer, trying to distract myself from what was going on in my crumbling life. to no avail. and so, i spent the rest of the night after curfew… still crying. it seems i’ve been doing a lot of that lately; final exams are tough, as well as settling with the realization that our seniors are leaving. i’m not sure if anyone feels this as deeply as i do, but i’m not ready for the beginning of next year without the people who are closest to me. 

this morning, i woke up early. i snoozed my alarm for 10 minutes, then forced myself out of bed to take a shower and do my makeup. i was doing okay, until the realization of last night set in. i decided i had spent too much time on my makeup to be crying it off so early in the morning, and i went on with my day. i walked to first block.

i could feel a familiar throbbing in my forehead, that i quickly reached for a tylenol to subdue. i opened my water bottle, and as i reached for my bag, promptly knocked over the open water bottle. 

to put it simply, that was the last straw. that was the morning equivalent of dropping your keys in front of your door, of getting all the way home before realizing they got your order wrong, of going to the pool and realizing you didn’t bring a towel. 

i started sobbing in the middle of the ji hallway, which was not my proudest moment. river and gracie helped me soak everything up with mediocre paper towels from the bathroom, all while telling me it was okay and that it was just water. i thought back to when my mom told me “don’t cry over spilled milk,” as a metaphor, and i always thought it was stupid. again, the figurative language thing, as well as not knowing what spilled milk was actually a metaphor of.

i felt the dampness of the wooden boards, and i finally understood. you CAN cry over spilled milk. because it’s not just milk: it’s your scratched floor, the glass that just broke, the money you spent on those things. everything leads up to a tiny moment that can send you spiraling. don’t overwork yourself. allow yourself to be as graceful with your mistakes as you are with others. and remember that what’s done is done.

do i want it to end?

for lack of a better term, it’s been a hell of a year. it simultaneously feels like it’s been 4 years in one and just yesterday i was unlocking my door here for the first time. i longed for this school for a year and a half before i arrived, tugging at every ounce of it i could manage. i remember coming to my papaw’s house down here, then the biggest smile rushing to my cheeks as i saw the side of the SLC in passing. i knew i would be here when the time came, and as my intuition often goes, i was right.

this year has been amazing. i made some of the best friends anyone could ever ask for – the kind who want the best for you, no matter what – the kind who see past your flaws and love you anyways – the kind who spot you when you need it, and the kind who know they can come to you no matter what. i won 4 submission opportunities, put works in the school’s literary journal, printed a collection of my poetry and sold 15 copies, and experienced a lot of “firsts…” and “lasts.” i’ve loved a lot, maybe more than is healthy for me, but it’s the truth. 

i’ve also lost. i lost more than 15 literary journal submissions, i lost a bond i thought would last much longer than it did, and i think i lost my fair share of hair clumps from stress in the process. my grades and mental health began to slip before halfway through the year, and just as i was picking myself back up, the realization set in: half of the amazing friends i made this year… are leaving.

come august, my snap maps will have bitmojis scattered from new orleans to new york, and of course i’m excited for them and their journeys, but part of me is terrified of how empty the halls will feel without them. it may be different if this were any other school – if i knew the majority of them would be at the local community college for at least 2 years to come, within close enough proximity to not miss them so much. i’ve spent more nights than i’d like to admit crying over the possibility of losing touch with all the people i love.

but, as the cookie crumbles, i know next year will likely be so much worse – being the one leaving this town, on to something better. i’ll likely join my best friends (hello ayden and madalynn) at mississippi state, but maybe i won’t. maybe i’ll go to the u********* of m*ss*ss*pp* and check out their writing program, stray a little farther from home. maybe i’ll say “screw it” and take a spot at LSU, leaving everything in mississippi behind.

in any case, i’ll be off this campus. i won’t be studying behind the column of cooper like i know i’m not supposed to. i won’t be reminiscing bittersweet memories on the side-steps of JI, i won’t be pouring my heart into a google doc on the second floor. wherever i am, i won’t be here, and that scares me to no end. 

do it before you get here

as i approached my wits’ end, searching for submission opportunities on the godforsaken website that is submittable, i noticed a… suspicious lack of organization within my writing repertoire. i had three folders, each with separate subsections and an ungodly amount of categories – somehow i ended up with two poetry folders? 

so, in the middle of class, i organized my entire laptop. and boy, do i wish i would have done it sooner. for the upcoming juniors reading this post, i’m telling you now: find your organization. if you need a template, that’s why i’m here.

for starters, i took note of all of my pieces and gathered them into an excel spreadsheet. the table should look something like this:

title type content style line/word count submitted to accepted by

title: obviously this is the title of your piece. i like to keep this horizontally organized, keeping my poetry at the top and long-form writing toward the bottom. 

type: this notes any special formatting, such as if a poem is a sonnet, sestina, haiku, etc. 

content: you will produce works that need content warnings or notes. if something has foul language, insinuations, or otherwise alarming material of any sort, this is where to note it. additionally, you can keep themes in this section as well (grief, love, etc.)

style: this is totally optional, but i go back and forth between works that are appropriate to keep lowercase and those that require proper capitalization, so i usually note that here.

line/word count: self-explanatory.

submitted to: note any time you submit something. many journals will ask you not to submit a piece that is being considered elsewhere, but others may want you to note that on the cover letter. 

accepted by: these are pieces that have been accepted and can no longer be submitted anywhere, but they need to be kept on the sheet in order to mark it somewhere later. this is very useful when compiling a literary resume. 

next, i keep all of my work in folders on my desktop. this is completely optional, especially if you’re using google docs, but i find it makes finding my work so much easier. i have a few different ones.

pending: pieces that i’m currently writing, working on, or editing.

posted: everything altogether. included in this are subcategories.
– poetry
– playwriting
– flash fiction
– short stories
– blogs
– exercises for class (a lot of these will fall into an awkward category that can’t really be submitted).
– miscellaneous

when i tell you this system has saved me on more than one occasion, believe me. i’ve submitted to 6 different literary journals within the past two days, each considering a different theme. now, instead of shuffling through every folder on my laptop, i consult my spreadsheet first – skimming over the titles and seeing what’s most appropriate. it also allows me to see which works i’ve neglected and/or paid extra attention to in my submission process, leveling out my likelihood of submitting pieces. i have some that are being considered in 5 places, others that aren’t being considered at all.

many submission opportunities have a line or word count minimum/maximum, so that column is especially helpful for weeding out qualifiers.

overall, i’m extremely disappointed that i didn’t have something like this to guide me through scholastics, and i definitely recommend beginning a healthy organization habit sooner, rather than later. it’ll likely save you more than once.

ricky manning was right

at the beginning of my sophomore year of high school, i started longing for msa more and more every day. i, along with about 20 other fellow prospective students, anxiously awaited the opening day of applications for this fine school. we had become close friends over the course of a single week, and kept in touch ever since. at the time, these were the only people in my life with shared interests and values; they were nothing like those from my 3 previous schools, and i was more than ready to share a space with them.

i started making a playlist to keep me going through the hard times of rankin county, starting strong with “home” by daughtry, then quickly followed by the instrumental version of “ocean eyes” by billie eilish, because it was the song that ms. genevieve kelley played beautifully on the 3rd floor piano. this playlist was dedicated to every emotion the thought of msa made me feel, and it’s turning out to be a large source of comfort throughout my time here as well. 

sometimes, the music isn’t so good. it can play “the lucky one” by taylor swift just as easily as it can play “tongue tied” by grouplove, and i think the distinction between the two lies in the very thin boundary that is “la is lonely” by ricky manning. it talks about how he’s in los angeles and he’s lost his way, he doesn’t know what he’s doing or why he’s there. he feels alone and scared, and he wants to make friends, but no one else seems to.

the lyric that hits home most for me is “nobody tells you when you go chasing your dreams that it’s much harder than it seems on the screens. fake magazines on the shelf, you’re only left with yourself,”

and while that lyric resonates with my anxiety at times, it’s also a gentle reminder that i’m not only left with myself. i have great friends that i’m thankful for beyond belief, and i’ve written about them a thousand times, but i simply don’t believe that i can do it enough.

if it weren’t for azya, i would probably spend much less time in my dorm than i do. she makes me want to come back to my floor and laugh at really REALLY awful jokes, and for no reason. she’s so much fun and the light of my time here.

ms brianna cox should not ever allow herself to have any other favorite color than yellow, because the hues of sunflowers and honey fits her like nothing else ever could. she is bright and vibrant and has an abundance of love that can make anyone’s day better.

callie is… for starters, a walking goddess. she is the epitome of kindness, talent, and grace. her fashion is impeccable, and she’s a good person at the core of her soul. she does so much for others, but that’s not even her defining trait. she is good for herself, and that is so so beautiful.

maple has been a pillar of strength this whole year. he may not have all of his stuff in line, but they make it work, and they deserve every good thing he receives in this world. they are endlessly talented, and i cannot wait to see the places he’ll go.

maleigh is, for lack of a better term, a badass. mrs. msa and mrs. senior class president and mrs. editor-in-chief-for-the-most-productive-school-newspaper-i’ve-ever-seen has the brightest smile in the room. she is a great roommate and an even better person, and i am so proud of everything she’s done for this school and for herself.

katie, katie, katie, The Girl Who Plays the Cello and Holds the Title for Walking Goddess: Alternative Fashion Edition. she is one of the best writers i know, and her care for others has never disappointed me. i look up to her in so many ways, and i am so proud of everything she has done to take care of herself, because she deserves it.

stephyne… lord, where do i begin with the first msa senior whose energy and beauty sparked awe in my little prospective student heart? maybe i should start with her award-winning works, or maybe with the magazine she has worked so hard to uphold and pull off. or i could end with her countless philosophical ideas that bring miracles to our literary classroom.

morgan love, ms. poetry out loud champ, sga attorney general, and strong woman central. i will always adore her, for her talents and contributions, as well as for the love she has for her friends and family. she is beautiful and worthy of everything she desires.

msa is not easy. it is hell and a heartbreak, and i’ve wanted to give up more than i can count on a single hand. but the pillars upholding the school are the vibrations of love that pour from these senior literaries’ souls. i am so so proud of every single one of you, and i cannot wait to see what’s in store for you. i love you so, so much.

Bones of Hollywood

Sources:
www.huffpost.com/entry/jennette-mccurdy-eating-disorder_n_5c812d61e4b0e62f69ea8363
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Nickelodeon
https://screenrant.com/nickelodeon-shows-most-episodes/
https://www.distractify.com/p/is-jennette-mccurdy-in-icarly-reboot
https://adri.substack.com/p/what-we-dont-talk-about-when-we-talk

Content Warning:
Eating Disorders
Sexual Harassment

In 1977, in Columbus, Ohio, Dr. Vivian Horner created the first Nickelodeon series: Pinwheel. The creation of this pre-school show jumpstarted the massive TV network that we know today, and at the hands of corrupt directors and producers, it was all downhill from there.

At the ripe old age of 14 years old, actress Jennette McCurdy was signed to a lead role in Nickelodeon’s upcoming show: iCarly. The majority of Nickelodeon shows run for a limited span of four seasons, but iCarly stayed along for an extra two seasons. According to ScreenRant, it contains 97 episodes – 32 more than their rival network Disney Channel’s maximum.

Jennette played the role of Sam Puckett, whose most prominent traits are aggressiveness, loyalty, and a love for food. Her character’s tendency to eat and overeat is shown throughout the entirety of the show, manifesting itself as an obsession with fat cakes, fried chicken, bacon, smoothies, root beer, and tater tots. This doesn’t seem like such an egregious trait – especially for such an eccentric character, but when inspected a little bit further, it brings a necessary microscope onto iCarly’s producer: Dan Schneider.

Schneider worked for Nickelodeon for 24 years, before parting ways in 2018. He was fired “at a natural time,” but coincidentally, soon after coming under fire for sexualizing the feet of teenage girls, specifically those who were under his lead in television. Amanda Bynes, for example, who was recruited by Schneider at the age of 9. She joined the cast of “All That” – a comedy sketch for children. Amanda Bynes is thought to be one of the first subjects of Schneider’s perversion and abuse in 1996, and Jennette McCurdy is supposedly one of the last, parting from Nickelodeon in 2014 at the abrupt conclusion of iCarly’s spinoff Sam and Cat.

Aside from the sexual harassment and abuse, Nickelodeon took a toll on Jennette and her self-image. She disclosed in an article written for HuffPost that she knew she would get more roles if she maintained a child-like figure. In a moment of realization in the car with her mom, who assisted in Jennette’s disordered eating, the actress knew she was too far in to stop. She had booked 6 roles in the year, all younger than her real age.

After being cast to iCarly, Jennette’s habits began to spiral more and more. The constant pressure of always being in the public eye, either by social media or by the growing popularity of her TV show, really took a toll on her. There’s a gap in the HuffPost timeline, but rumors circulate that iCarly and Dan Schneider’s direction only exacerbated Jennette’s disorder. As previously mentioned, Sam Puckett’s most identifiable trait is her love for food. It’s not a stretch to assume that Schneider was aware of Jennette’s struggles and chose to ignore them. A source cited by many as proof of Schneider’s abuse is the following picture of Miranda Cosgrove, visibly distraught by the presence of Schneider near her.

His role in Nickelodeon’s network, and the length of time he was allowed to remain employed there speaks volumes about the industry and its priorities. Schneider was never held accountable for his actions, and it’s paving the way for past, current, and future abusers to get away with it.  Hollywood does not take care of its people, and it’s up to the public to hold the industry accountable for the way its children are treated.

life is, in fact, not like a box of chocolates; not everything is figurative.

maybe i should stop trying to make everything symbolic. it’s just snow. it’s not the universe’s way of telling me that something or someone is fading from my life, it’s just snow. it’s just a dirty puddle in the middle of my parents’ driveway that my sister’s car used to hover above, and it’s just an angry result of our ongoing climate crisis. nothing else,

and i wish that i could keep speaking those things into existence, but there’s always going to be a part of me that dies a little bit inside when i see the pinecone on my bedside table. it’s not a physical reflection of the final trip home before everything went to hell; it’s just a pinecone. it is prickly, not even pretty, and sometimes it hurts my fingertips when i go to pick it up, because it’s… a pinecone. i avoided them as a kid, and now i can’t even bring myself to dispose of one properly, because it’s symbolic,

but i should stop making everything into something it’s not. i should stop seeing memories in the window of my local trading post, because it’s just a gas station. it’s my first stop on the way back to school, and it’s my favorite place to get breakfast from in the morning; it’s not the first place we went in my hometown, it’s just a trading post. i keep telling myself that,

but there are still tire tracks in the dirt beside my house, and i don’t think they’ll come back any time soon after the next good rain. i’m sure my sobbing didn’t help the impressions such a small car was denting in my driveway, but i couldn’t help it. while i’ve been trying to reduce my metaphors to something less philosophical, i don’t think you can withdraw philosophy from the idea that the physical representation of my suffering contributed to the permanence of it,

but it snowed last week. and i haven’t been back home, but there are two parts of me right now. one of them is hoping that the weather has preserved all that’s left of a vehicle’s presence. the other is hoping that the melted tragedy takes the tire tracks with it, because it cannot bear to look at them any longer.

fast cars and freedom

unfortunately, this blog will not encompass the lyrical masterpiece that is the fifth track of rascal flatts’ “feels like today” 2015 album; it will actually be about the tragedy that came from a former racecar driver’s dream: big machine records (and the cuffs they keep their clients in).

scott borchetta founded big machine records in 2005, but not before he approached taylor swift in a cafe in nashville, offering her a place on the roster of the record label he was about to begin. taylor swift was the first person signed with big machine records, and 15 years later, this decision proved to be two pivotal moments of her career at once. 

first, the basics. ownership of creative property is a little bit tricky, especially in the music industry, so:

  1. artists own all of the technical components of their music – the lyrics, the instrumental, and everything in-between. they are theirs to use as they please, because they created these specific aspects.
  2. record labels own anything that was released under their label name: any recordings and remixes that say “big machine records” are legally owned by big machine records, and they profit from the royalties.

what this means for taylor swift:

  1. everything she’s written from her debut album through reputation is hers. she owns the lyrics and all of the technical components.
  2. big machine records owns what is called the “master recordings” of these albums – every track that’s played on the radio, signed to a movie or tv show, or streamed on a service.

anyone who doesn’t live under a rock is well aware of the ongoing feud between kanye west and taylor swift, but… what you may not know is kanye’s association with a man named scooter braun. kanye and scooter have been friends for a while, and scooter even worked for kanye there for a time, but even after the employment was terminated, they remained industry friends. based on all of the context clues, it’s safe to assume scooter and taylor don’t get along well, especially not where kanye is involved.

for quite some time as her career has skyrocketed, taylor has wanted to buy back her master recordings from her original record label. in 2014, she brought this proposition to big machine records, and they gave her an ultimatum: they will grant her immediate ownership of her master recordings…. if she signs a contract to stay with the label for 10 more years. this doesn’t seem like a half-bad idea, until you do a little more digging.

at the same time taylor’s proposal was being considered, big machine records was up for sale. taking into account her place as a prominent artist, it would not benefit taylor to sign 10 years of her future to a buyer she doesn’t even know. she declined the offer.

as it turns out, who else would end up buying the label but the infamous scooter braun – the one who teamed up with kanye to ruin taylor’s career before? and in that moment, every master recording that taylor swift had produced under big machine records lied in the hands of someone who had previously tried to ruin her career.

as the powerhouse woman she is, taylor decided to tell her fans exactly what happened and exactly how she would handle it. thus, the announcement of her re-recordings. 

taylor swift will be re-recording all 6 albums: debut, fearless, speak now, red, 1989, and reputation; though not in that order. if all goes well, these releases will be treated as the master recordings, so not to give scooter braun any recognition for taylor’s success. they will also be released as “taylor’s version” of every song, and the existence of any other version will be promptly eliminated from loyal fans’ minds.

until we meet again… on april 9th… when i cry listening to white horse – taylor’s version.