Awarding Thievery

Twistedsifter.com

Based on my series 10 Bands You’ve Probably Never Heard, I’m sure it’s fairly obvious that I’m not a big fan of pop music. I never listen to music on the radio, and I couldn’t care less about Katy Perry or Rihanna’s latest. Yawn.

I have Kanye West’s latest album from 2013, Yeezus. I’ve tried listening to it more than once and it’s absolutely awful. Black Skinhead is the only almost listenable song (I can almost listen to the whole thing before skipping it). The whole album is so auto-tuned that I’m not even sure that Kanye West is a real person and not a robot.

Screen shot 2015-02-09 at 11.35.21 AM

I also have Nas’ penultimate effort, Life Is Good, which for some reason, brings all the background noise to the front and drowns his voice entirely. Who did the mixing on this? It’s terrible. Why are the violins louder than his voice?

I have the latest Daft Punk, too, which swept the Grammy Awards in 2013. I admit that Get Lucky is a catchy song, but it’s also predictable and a far cry from the sound that made Daft Punk famous in the first place.

I bring forth these examples to prove that I do, in fact, try to listen to popular music; I just find it boring and so auto-tuned as to be unrecognizable as a human voice.

I didn’t watch the Grammy Awards last night, but I heard about them this morning. It seems that they were swept by Sam Smith. His song, Stay With Me, that raked in all that Grammy bling, including Song of the Year, was partially stolen. Sam Smith acknowledged it when he agreed to pay royalties:

The settlement reportedly included a 12.5% writing credit to both Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne (ELO). The song’s credit on the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) now lists Smith, Petty, Lynne, and Jimmy Napes as the chief songwriters.

Smith said, “I am 22 and I’ve never heard the song.” He’s never heard a multi-platinum song that has never stopped getting radio play, has been covered 20 times by everyone from Pearl Jam to Johnny Cash, and used in everything from presidential campaigns to sports arenas in the more than 22 years it’s been around.

The Grammy for Song of The Year was awarded to Jimmy Napes, William Phillips and Sam Smith, with no mention of Lynne or Petty, either by Sam Smith or the Recording Academy.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Bill Freimuth, the Recording Academy’s senior vice president of awards, said this before the show:

Since Lynne and Petty did not do any new writing for this work, we are considering their original work to have been interpolated. Lynne and Petty will not be considered nominees nor will they be considered GRAMMY recipients, should the song win. Rather, they would be given certificates to honor their participation in the work, just as any other writers of sampled or interpolated work.

Meanwhile, Tom Petty has never won a Grammy for either Song of the Year or Record of the Year, and Sam Smith now has more Grammy awards than Tom Petty has won in his entire career.

This is hardly the first time that a major American awards show has congratulated plagiarism.

If you’re familiar with this blog, at this point, you’re probably going to want to roll your eyes, since I’m going to talk about my favorite example of awarding thievery, The Departed.

I watched that movie in 2006 not long after it was released. As I was watching, I had a strange sense of déjà vu that I had seen it before. It took about 30 minutes into its tedious 151 minute run-time to realize that The Departed was, in actuality, one of my favorite Hong Kong movies, Infernal Affairs.

Infernal Affairs has a better cast, it’s shorter (by 50 longass minutes) and best of all, it’s original. I’ll take Andy Lau or Tony Chiu Wai Leung any day over Leonardo DiCraprio. Most of you probably have no idea who they are even though they’re hugely successful Hong Kong movie stars.

Let’s strip all the best acting, picture, editing, directing, etc. awards, and just deal with the thievery.

The Departed won the Academy Award for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay and it was nominated for the best screenplay at the Golden Globes where there was zero mention that it was adapted from Infernal Affairs. It also won or was nominated for best screenplay at twenty other awards shows, out of which, eight of them don’t mention that it was adapted from another source at all. Over 40% of its writing awards and nominations fail to mention that it was not original and it already existed as another movie released only four years prior. But, that movie wasn’t in English, so I guess it doesn’t count.

The Departed‘s writer William Monahan contributed 50 unnecessary minutes which dragged things out by adding lots more ‘splaining, because Muricans are dumb and couldn’t possibly follow a plot unless we’re spoon fed. There was little mention of the movie’s real writers, Alan Mak and Felix Chong, who by the way, won a ton of Asian awards for their original writing, but none in America.

Go watch Infernal Affairs and tell me it’s not a better movie. I’ll disagree every time. To be fair though, perhaps had I not known what was going to happen in The Departed–a supposedly new movie when I watched it–before it happened, I might not hate it so much. It was the last Scorsese movie I ever watched.

End of The Departed rant.

So, yeah, I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear that Sam Smith won a ton of awards for a song already written by someone else. Nor was I surprised to hear that he didn’t even acknowledge Tom Petty or Jeff Lynne (who was there) any of the times he was on stage accepting awards. Disappointed, yes, but not terribly surprised.

It seems the American public doesn’t care about creativity or originality. Most people don’t even know that a lot of their beloved pop idols’ songs–starting with Britney Spears’ …Baby One More Time all the way to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off–were actually written by a 43-year-old Swedish dude. Max Martin has written more number-one hits than anyone besides Lennon and McCartney, plus, 58 top ten hits in the United Kingdom and 51 in the United States, yet no one knows who he is.

A middle-aged man wrote Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl and no one cares.

Kinda puts a different spin on it, eh?
Kinda puts a different spin on it, eh?

So, y’all go on with your popular stuff. Buy yet another pale, unoriginal imitation. I’ll keep listening to bands who write their own songs and watch movies you’ll probably never see until they’re remade into Murican English for no goddamn reason. Just keep on leaving Tom Petty and me out of your celebrations of theft and unoriginality.

6 Things American TV Shows Should Stop Doing

old-television

I don’t have cable and haven’t had for about eight or nine years now. I have a digital antenna, but I’m too lazy to hook it up, so I don’t even get network television, which means I missed all of the Olympics. I don’t even know who won.

Anyway, I haven’t watched American television in a very long time. I’ve recently been into watching television shows, because they allow me to not watch television while watching television. The result of getting an iPad is that I have the TV on in the background while I’m doing something else. You don’t generally have to pay all that much attention to television shows.

I’ve been watching foreign shows, a lot of them BBC, like Copper (BBC America), Ripper Street, Whitechapel, Sherlock, the Aussie show, Underbelly, etc. But, I’ve watched all of the newer non-American shows I can find and most of the older ones, too. It’s either watch all of the ninety different versions of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or find something else, so that leaves American television. Sigh.

I will say that some American television isn’t half bad. I’ve even watched some American shows that made me put down the iPad, like Game Of Thrones, Sons Of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, and Hell On Wheels, but the good shows are few and far between.

This is a list of a few things I’ve noticed about American television that they really should stop doing. There are spoilers, but they’re all contained in the examples. If you are worried about spoilers, don’t read the example bit.

The “Oh, shit! We’re canceled!” cliffhanger

Canceling shows seems to happen a lot with American television. Television shows are expensive and studios are greedy. If shows aren’t making enough money right now, they get canceled, regardless of whether they’ll be a hit later or not. Television is a business like any other.

The problem is that these shows are canceled mid-season. Instead of building story arcs over the course of a season or the entire show, they can only write in bursts of fits and starts, because they never know when they’ll be canceled. It sucks for us, the viewers, because it means the writing is compromised.

Imagine you’re writing a novel. You’re about 2/3 through it when someone tells you that you only have one day to finish it. Oh shit! You can either choose to sloppily wrap it up in a few pages, not at all the way you wanted to, or you can choose not to compromise your artistic integrity and leave a cliffhanger… forever.

Example: Firefly

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Fortunately, Firefly was able to have a feature-length movie to wrap it all up, but it just wasn’t the same. The show ended with a confusing wimper and that’s unfortunate, because as far as sci-fi television shows go, aside from the terrible title song, it was one of the best.

The “Oh shit! We thought we were canceled but we’re not” weird-ass storylines

Imagine you’re writing that novel again. You’re about 2/3 through it when someone tells you that you only have one day to finish it. Oh shit! So, you wrap it up as best you can. Then, that same someone tells you that you can finish writing it after all. Hooray! However, you’ve already written the compromised ending and you’re not allowed to change it. You have to start from where you left it and continue. Uh, what?

It makes for some pretty damn confusing viewing. You have all your characters going their separate ways and saying goodbyes, only to have the next episode act as if nothing had happened at all. It’s like waking up hungover and naked next to your roommate and choosing never to speak of it ever, but we all know it happened.

Example: Leverage

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When I had the flu, my sister gave me this one to watch. It’s pretty good. It’s suspenseful, dramatic and funny. It goes a little top-heavy on the interpersonal relationships for my liking, but there’s enough other stuff in there to keep my interest. Halfway through season 3, they were informed they were canceled. Then, they were told, they weren’t canceled after all! Move along. Nothing to see here!

This push me/pull me destroyed the flow of the show and ruined the whole season. The worst part is that, towards the end of season 3, they really were canceled, so they had to do the weird wrap up again and it’s awful. I’d recommend watching seasons 1 & 2 though.

The ridiculously obvious product placement

I don’t mind unobtrusive product placement–characters usually have to drive some sort of car or drink some sort of beverage. That’s not the kind of product placement I’m talking about though. I’m talking about the kind where they weave it into the show. When characters stop talking about the plot and talk about the awesome features of the new Toyota Prius, that’s a problem.

If you’re not a car salesman, have you ever had a conversation that went something like, “This roomy, newly designed Toyota Prius, rated Car & Driver’s best hybrid, has voice activated GPS”? No, if you really were in a Prius talking about the GPS, you’d say something like, “Awesome GPS on this thing.” You wouldn’t mention what kind of car you’re in because the person you’re talking to just got into the car. They had ample opportunity to notice it was a Prius from the outside and nobody cares what Car & Driver thinks unless they’re car shopping.

Example: House Of Cards remake

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Netflix’s House Of Cards remake is a commercial-free commercial. It was about as covert with their product placement as a ninja decked in a lighted, bright red Coca-Cola suit with bells wearing squeaky clown shoes, and one of those hat headlamps while singing the Coca-Cola jingle through a megaphone. That is to say, not very subtle at all. No self-respecting ninja would do that.

This is no way to ninja, son. image from northernsafety.com
This is no way to ninja, son.
image from northernsafety.com

Plus, the original House Of Cards is way better. The writing is better. The acting is better. The story is better. The characters are delightfully evil and there is absolutely no product placement. Boooo on the House Of Cards remake. I didn’t even care enough to finish season one, let alone watch season two.

But, the House Of Cards remake starts off as a pale imitation of the original and never gets any better. It’s the kind of show I don’t even care enough to finish watching. If it’s stupid from the get-go, it’s really not harm-no foul since I’ve made a minimal investment. That kind of show doesn’t irritate me as much as another kind–the gradual decline into stupidity.

The gradual decline into stupidity

Premises are hard to maintain. Most television show synopses are a sentence or two. It’s how they sell it to the studio. It’s the same sentence you see on Netflix or IMDb that makes you want or not want to watch it.

The problem is, a lot of shows don’t really have much substance beyond the original premise. They may have a season or two written or in the works, but beyond that, due to the “Oh shits” mentioned above, they don’t really know where it will go. If somehow, they manage not to get canceled, to keep from being repetitive, they have to venture into stranger and stranger territory, farther away from the original synopsis.

Because shows with viewers make money, they can’t just cancel them when they have nothing left to say. Instead of going out with a bang like Breaking Bad, they just keep flogging that dead horse and it gradually devolves into stupidity.

Example: Bones

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This show starts off kind of far-fetched, but the science and characters are interesting enough to make me continue watching it. The first couple seasons of that show are actually rather good. There’s a good balance between drama and funny.

Then it gradually gets dumber. They turn one of the main characters into a cannibalistic killer, yet he keeps coming back. They replace him with an ever revolving cast of characters, none of whom are as good as the original character. They break up a couple with three sentences worth of discussion and then bring them back together. There are comas and dream sequences.

Dream sequences really are the death knell for any form of entertainment. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road starts with a dream sequence if that’s any indication. Bones just slowly got so dumb I couldn’t watch it anymore and that’s a damn shame.

The Slaughterhouse Five

You read the synopsis for a show and think to yourself, “Alright, that seems like something that might be reasonably interesting to not watch while ipadding.” So, you start watching it. It goes along like the synopsis for a while, and then it takes a Slaughterhouse Five turn.

Slaughterhouse Five is my least favorite Vonnegut book. I sum it up with “…and suddenly, ALIENS!” and “Bah.” Unlike the gradual decline into stupidity, a Slaughterhouse Five show is a sucker-punch. It starts off one way, then takes a turn into the supernatural, paranormal or otherwise odd with no warning.

Example: Alias

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The IMDb synopsis for Alias: “Sydney Bristow is an international spy recruited out of college and trained for espionage and self-defense.”

The Netflix synopsis for Alias:Jennifer Garner redefined armed and dangerous in this spy series as a double agent CIA operative on a mission to destroy a global crime syndicate.”

Seems like a spy show, right? She’s a double agent spy. Alright then. Do you see anything in there about 500-year-old prophecies, body doubles, mechanical hearts, immortality, angel-like figures, pulling strange things from tubes implanted in her while she was missing for two years during which her boyfriend got married to someone else?

No, you don’t. This is not a spy show. It’s a dumb show where dumb things happen. Had I known it had preternatural elements up front, I might not have minded, but there is no mention of that tomfoolery. It sucker-punches you into strange and hopes you don’t mind.

Her best friend and roommate is killed and replaced with a body double and Ms. Superspy doesn’t even notice. If some other person pretended to be my best friend without any of her memories and personality, I’d notice and I’m not even a paranoid double agent who’s trained to notice things like that. Some spy you are, honey.

I only made it through the first season and a couple of episodes from season 2. I can only imagine what happens in season 5. I would be willing to bet that there’s an episode where “…and suddenly, ALIENS!” happens. Bah.

The romance that drags on forever

For some reason, shows about spies, dead bodies, forensic science and science fiction, hell, even shows about mass murderers (I’m looking at you, Dexter) all feel the need to have a love interest. Why? Why do we need love interests in everything? Love isn’t really interesting. Science is interesting.

I tolerate all the interpersonal drama from television shows because real life has interpersonal drama, but never once, in all my years on this planet, have I ever seen mutual attraction take five or six years to pan out. If two people like each other in real life, they tend to do something about it. They don’t drag it out for half a decade before they even kiss. They make with the bang bang and either get married or break up. It’s really rather simple.

Examples: Bones, Alias, Firefly, etc.

Why is it that these shows feel that it’s okay to drag a potential romance through every possible mud puddle along the way from characters living out a romantic fantasy while in a coma (Bones) to waking up two years later to find your boyfriend thought you were dead and got married to some other hooer (Alias)? Real life doesn’t work that way and if it does, it’s an anomaly.

I realize that part of the reason some people even watch these shows is because they like the unfulfilled chemistry between characters and that would be lost if they got together, but really, people, dragging out flirtation over a decade is dumb. Get a room already.

All images in this post are from IMDb.

Tattoo Trends That Should Stop

Image from cnn.com

The worst trend in the 00s that has continued into the 10s was everyone, and quite literally, their mother, getting tattooed.

Tattoos should be personal. They shouldn’t be part of a trend. Seriously, when did trends in tattoos become a thing? Tattoo trends shouldn’t be a thing. Tattoos should be completely personal and completely you. You shouldn’t get one just because your favorite celebrity has one. You should get one because it means something to you. Today, I’m going to talk about my least favorite tattoo trends.

Author’s note: I’m not sure why so many of you care what I think and troll me on it. I’ve had a bunch of strangers call me out, because people should be able to get any tattoo they want. You know what? I AGREE. This post is about trends, as in people getting tattoos just because they’re trendy. I have no problem with people getting any tattoo for personal reasons. That’s pretty much what I said in the previous paragraph, but no one reads intros I guess, so I’m spelling it out here.

Tribal

White guy sporting a tribal tattoo. Image from tattoosku.com
White guy sporting a tribal tattoo.
Image from tattoosku.com

Otherwise known as the frat tat because it was most common among young, white college boys. Fortunately, you see less and less of this lately, but there’s still a ridiculous amount of people walking around with gigantic ugly-ass tribal tattoos. Unless you are part of an actual tribe, like Polynesian, Maori or Yakuza, don’t get a tribal tattoo.

Dream catchers

Miley Cyrus and her dumb dream catcher tattoo. Image from tattooforaweek.com
Miley Cyrus and her dumb dream catcher tattoo.
Image from tattooforaweek.com

Unless you are part of the Ojibwa Nation, don’t get this tattoo. It seems most common among young, white girls. Haven’t we stolen enough from Native Americans? Must we turn their culture into dumb tattoos as well?  Thanks, Miley Cyrus.

Bows on thighs

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Image from missarianna.com

Otherwise known as an easy way to pick a stripper out of a crowd. There are few other tattoos that make you look as trampy as this one. The worst part of this tattoo is that women who have it feel the need to show it off all the time by wearing ultra-short shorts and skirts. This is not cute.

One word statements

Image from boards.weddingbee.com
Image from boards.weddingbee.com

Really? You need a reminder to breathe? Your body does that automatically. Unless you are on life support, breathing is an autonomic function.

Any other statements that can be summed up with one word, e.g. love, believe, live, strength, hope, etc., should be easy enough to remember without having to tattoo them on your body. Just sayin’.

Quotes

Quote Tattoos Tumblr_24
Did this guy really get Whitesnake lyrics tattooed on him forever?

Having writing on you sucks, because people want to read it. Unless you enjoy people grabbing you and trying to read it–and they will just grab you–don’t get words tattooed on you. Besides, getting someone else’s words tattooed on you seems rather gauche, but maybe that’s just the writer in me talking.

Chinese characters

In case you can't read that, his tattoo says, "At the end of the day, this is an ugly boy."
In case you can’t read that, his tattoo says, “At the end of the day, this is an ugly boy.”

You know how many Chinese people there are? As of 2012, there were 1.351 billion Chinese people in China and that’s not counting people of Chinese descent in the rest of the world. That means that there are at least 1.351 billion people who can read your tattoo while you probably can’t.

Swallows

Image from tattoo-artbody.blogspot.com
Image from tattoo-artbody.blogspot.com

This is one of the oldest tattoo designs. The swallow tattoo was a symbol used historically by sailors to show off their sailing experience usually tattooed on the chest, hands or neck. According to legend, a sailor tattooed with one swallow had traveled over 5,000 nautical miles (9,260 km) and a sailor with two swallows had traveled 10,000 nautical miles (18,520 km).

Unless you are a sailor, this is a dumb tattoo for anyone to get since it’s got fuck all to do with anything if you’re not a sailor.

Anchor

Popeye_The_Sailor_Man
Image from popeye.wikia.com

Like the swallow tattoo, this is also a nautical tattoo showing off your sailing chops. Popeye had two anchors on his forearms, because he was a sailor. Unless you are a sailor, this is a dumb tattoo because it has fuck all to do with anything if you’re not a sailor.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a badly drawn anchor tattoo on my ankle. It was done by my boyfriend in the tattoo shop where he worked on one slow, drunken afternoon. My boyfriend was a piercer, not a tattoo artist and it shows. It’s my worst tattoo.

Wings

wings_tattoo

As Tyler Durden wisely said, “Sticking feathers up your butt doesn’t make you a chicken.” Tattooing wings on your back doesn’t make you an angel or a bird or a plane or whatever else it is that you’re trying to symbolize with wings. Those wings will not make you fly. If you’re going to get wings tattooed on you, get the rest of the animal as well.

Finger tattoos

You got a mustache tattooed between your fingers so when you hold your index finger under your nose, it looks like you have a mustache! Aren’t you so clever and original! Except not…

screenshot of image seach for "mustache finger tattoo"
screenshot of image search for “mustache finger tattoo”

Not cute, not clever and so very much not original. Is that a child with a tattoo near the bottom right?

Tattoos on children

Image from tatto0.com
Image from tatto0.com

Speaking of child tattoos, I don’t care who you are, don’t ever tattoo a child ever. You do realize that will be there forever and they’re not done growing yet, right? Personally, I don’t think anyone under the age of, say, 30 years old is capable of getting a tattoo they’ll be happy with forever.

Portraits

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Portrait tattoos are awful. Even if they’re done well, they’re awful. Most of them are not done well. When they’re awful, they’re really awful, like the picture above. Skin has a tendency to move and sag as you grow old. In a few decades, that ugly baby will look like a melting ugly baby. Don’t get a person tattooed on your person. If you really want to permanently put your child on your body, tattoo their name.

Bracelets/Anklets

Image from findembassy.org
Image from findembassy.org

There’s no way that tattoo means anything other than decoration. Decorative tattoos are fine, but whenever I see one of these, I can’t help but think it’s sad. You could tattoo literally anything and your imagination extends only to a piece of jewelry.

Dollar signs

image from www.tattooblr.com
image from tattooblr.com

Specifically tattooed on the palm of the hand. These tattoos are the gold chains and spinning rims of today. It’s not clever. It’s not original. It’s materialistic and dumb. I cannot stress this enough, people, that will be there forever.

“Funny” tattoos

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Have you ever heard a joke more than once and still thought it was funny? Well, imagine having a joke tattooed on you forever.

The tramp stamp

Ummm...
Ummm…

Otherwise known as lower-back tattoos. It’s sad really, because it doesn’t matter what you tattoo there, it’s trampy. You could have “grandma” tattooed there and it will still make you seem like a ho bag. The only way having your lower back done isn’t trampy is if it’s part of a larger piece.

Face tattoos

Image from cnn.com
Image from cnn.com

Otherwise known as the “I’m unemployed” tattoo. Unless you are a circus performer or a tattoo artist and it doesn’t matter whether you have crap on your face, or you are part of a culture, like the Maori, where face tattoos are a thing, don’t get your face tattooed. It’s not cute. It doesn’t make you look like a rebel. Only a small percentage of people think it makes you look more attractive and those people probably have crap on their faces, too.

______________

I’m sure there are more trends out there I’d like to bitch about, but I think I’ve bitched enough for today. What’s your least favorite tattoo trend?

Where Is The Scary?

Image from www.dreamsville.net

I suppose I am officially old now. You know why? Because I don’t get the next generation’s music.

There was a time, most of my youth, when I spent the vast majority of my free time searching for new music. Finding new awesome bands I’d never heard before was like a hobby or a part-time job. I still search for new music, but not as obsessively as I once did. Nowadays, most of the new music I find is from artists I’m already familiar with, have ties to artists I’m already familiar with or are in genres I’m already familiar with. There’s a lot of familiarity there.

I have incredibly diverse taste in music. A lot of people say that, but I really mean it. I have over 30,000 tracks in my library from nearly every decade, genre and country on earth. Some of it is sung in languages I don’t even speak, but I sing along anyway. Sorry for mangling your language, Japan.

This morning, as I was on my way to work, I heard an interview on the NPR with the guy from The Shins and Danger Mouse who just finished a new album. As I was listening to snippets of this new music interspersed throughout the interview, it struck me that it’s not scary at all.

While I’m not commenting on the music itself, it seems derivative to me. There’s nothing in there that is scary. They use synthesizers for crying out loud. Synthesizers are not scary.

I’m sure you’re wondering what the hell I’m even talking about and I’m not sure I can really voice it effectively anyway, but I’ll try.

I would expect, since I’m no longer in my 20s, that I would find the next generation’s music to be terrifying, because throughout the entirety of the 20th century, that’s what happened.

Older people in the 1920s were horrified by flappers with their short hair, short skirts and weird dances.

image from womenof1920s.wikispaces.com
image from womenof1920s.wikispaces.com

The older generation in the 1950s was appalled by Elvis Presley’s gyrating hips.

Image from en.wikipedia.org
Image from en.wikipedia.org

Parents were terrified of their teenagers’ weird Beatlemania obsession.

Image from photosofwar.net
Image from photosofwar.net

Those same Beatlemaniacs were horrified by Woodstock.

Image from www.dreamsville.net
Image from dreamsville.net

Hippies didn’t understand heavy metal. Disco was scared of punk. Punk was weirded out by death metal. And so it goes.

This is what I listened to when I was a teenager. This is my generation, the generation of 80s hardcore…

A new, faster, more aggressive breed of metal…

And rap that was so in your face that people would lock their car doors if you played it next to them.

My parents were pants-shittingly terrified of the music coming from my radio and I guess that’s what I’ve been waiting for. I’ve been waiting to become the old-fashioned adult who is terrified of the music that kids listen to these days, but in all these years, it hasn’t happened and I’m not sure why.

The 80s were about pushing boundaries in every genre. The 90s were about grunge and alternative. The 00s were just the greatest hits of the previous century: swing dancing came into fashion again along with day-glo 80s colors, grunge, and even hippies made a comeback. It’s now four years into the 10s and I’m still waiting for the next genuine and original trend to emerge.

Granted, it’s hard to be scarier than hardcore, thrash metal and gangster rap, but where is the scare? Where is the music that makes me feel old because I just don’t understand? Where is the latest new–not derivative, but genuinely new–type of music?

It could be that it’s out there and I’m just not looking hard enough, but there’s nothing scary, or even all that original, about Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Pitbull, Beyoncé or Pharrell. And this auto tune bullshit has to stop. There’s not a single pop tune in the last five years that I’ve heard and thought was blow the doors off awesome and/or pushed boundaries.

Or am I just too old to get it? Younger generation, you’re not scaring me with your music; you’re boring me. Kids these days. Get off my lawn.

I Don’t Care

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I don’t care about your pop stars and your top 40 music. Not since I was only four feet tall in the 80s have I cared about what everyone else cares about in the form of popular culture.

I haven’t seen the Miley Cyrus video. MTV broadcasts about as music television these days as I do, which is to say hardly any at all.

I am vaguely aware that there is a celebrity called Miley Cyrus who is the daughter of some country star and was on a children’s show some years back when she was a child herself. She might be some sort of singer.

That’s about as much as I know, and honestly, it’s more than I’d care to. Does anything in that paragraph about Miley above effect my life whatsoever? No. I do not care about your Cyruses, your Kardashians or your whoever else is in the tabloids these days. I don’t even recognize half of the names and faces. If Miley Cyrus mugged me at gunpoint, I would have an impossible time picking her out of a lineup if she wasn’t making this face:

The only way I recognize Miley Cyrus.
The only way I recognize Miley Cyrus.

By the way, I used to have that haircut. Way to be me fifteen years ago, Miley. You’re so edgy. You’re a rebel, whoever the hell you are. Bah.

So, that’s pretty much my answer to this week’s Mind The Gap poll:

Picture 2I plunked my answer on the “Miley Montana who?” box, but I am also pretty much in the agreement with the “She ain’t the only one. Madonna, anyone? Remember the great wardrobe malfunction?” camp.

This is not new or news. This is not someone crossing a line. This is someone wearing more clothing than I’ve seen on your average beach-goer in Los Angeles doing a stupid dance and making faces. This is not interesting. This is a bunch of people talking about nothing.

Who cares? A lot of you do I bet, but not me. I don’t care about any of it. Out of some sort of misguided yen to know what was what, I listened to that Blurred Lines song (not linking because you all know what I’m talking about and if you don’t, you aren’t missing a thing). It’s awful. It’s watered down pop crap with a hip-hop interlude. It’s not interesting, new or even vaguely good.

This is why I don’t listen to pop music. I never have. The incredibly low caliber of pop music that people actually found palatable used to infuriate me. It pissed me off that people were actually giving money to these hack artists when so many good musicians were out there making excellent stuff.

I got over it. People will always gravitate towards the lowest common denominator. People instinctively want to be part of the crowd. I get it. I used to be that way, too, when I was four feet tall. Humans want to like what’s in and own what’s cool. They want to be lauded for their excellent taste in liking what everyone else does.

Like whatever you want. It is your right. But can we, please, put this idiotic topic to bed now and get on with more pressing matters? I am way more interested in what’s going on in Syria or Egypt than I am about some teen pop star’s hoochie dance. People have been gyrating their hips since they first learned that they could. It’s not controversial. It’s not new and it sure as fuck ain’t news.

Real People I Don’t Want To Drink With

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In the conversation I had with some friends regarding fictional characters we don’t want to hang out with, inevitably we came up with some real people we’d rather poke in the eye than share a cocktail with. Originally, I wasn’t planning to post these for libel reasons, but what the fuck? If any of these people actually come here and read this crap, I’ll take them on (or more likely, just take the post down). Bring it. I ain’t askeered.

I’ve decided not to post pictures of these people like I did in the fictional character post because I don’t want to look at them.

Quentin Tarantino

Number one with a bullet. I can’t think of a single more annoying person than this guy. Even though I like some of his films, I can’t stand to see him on screen or hear his nasally voice. He should never act. He should never do director commentary. And most of all, he should stop stealing from other people.

Glenn Beck

Gah! Kill it! This guy. What can be said about this guy? He works for Fox News; that pretty well sums it up. Everything that comes out of his smarmy mouth is just sickening. Just the thought of being in the same room with this turd makes me never want to be in a room. I’ll live outdoors in a lean-to and make friends with the deer and bunnies instead.

Bill O’Reilly

The mouthpiece of idiots. See Glenn Beck.

Bill Maher

Unlike Beck and O’Reilly, I actually agree with some of the things Maher says. Some of the things he says. However, I can’t stand to watch his lips flap. He is so damn smug that I’d want to punch him in the face as soon as he opened his mouth. He needs to just write the things he says down and never be where I can hear him or see him.

Oprah

While I admire Oprah’s entrepreneurial savvy, I can’t stand the woman, mostly because of the way she chooses to wield her mighty influence over womankind. Her book club is pathetic. Her “I’m okay, you’re okay” sheep-herding mentality makes me ashamed to be female. “Everyone stand up and pat themselves on the back! Now pat your neighbor on her back! Now cheer! WOOOOOO!” Fuck off.

Zooey Deschanel

I don’t really hate Zooey at all. I just hate the fact that she’s everywhere. She seems to be this ideal of what women are supposed to be like these days. While I think she is very cute, she doesn’t represent me nor does she represent an ideal that I want to be. Granted, I haven’t met her so this is all supposition, but she has the type of personality that would grind on my nerves after about fifteen minutes. It seems to me that she is the same person on screen as off. “Zooey Deschanel plays Zooey Deschanel in another film about Zooey Deschanel!” She’s wearing out her welcome rather quickly.

Leonardo DiCaprio

While I don’t hate Zooey, I have an unrestrained and mostly unfounded loathing for Leonardo. I cannot stand his smug little face at all. I become irrationally angry whenever I watch one of his films, which is why I don’t watch his films. I realize it’s completely unfair of me to say he’s a shitty actor when I haven’t seen him act in anything since he was like twelve, but there it is. I can’t stand Leonardo DiCraprio for reasons even I don’t really understand.

Martin Scorsese

And while we’re on the subject of DiCraprio, I don’t really want to drink with Scorsese either, except that I would like to ask him why he keeps using DiCraprio in his films. I haven’t seen a Scorsese film in eons because of his obsessive love for hiring that pissant. I don’t really think I’m missing much though. I had a dream once that I was Martin Scorsese, through which I annoyed myself. I didn’t enjoy being prolix and short.

Tom Cruise or any of the Scientologists

I am irreligious to a fault really. I don’t like any of them, mostly because religions are responsible for wars, bigotry, killing, sexism and discrimination. Scientology, while technically a religion I suppose, is actually more like a brainwashing cult. These people scare me. I’ve walked past the huge Scientology thing on Hollywood Blvd. and have been asked to take a test to see how happy I am or whatever. Half of me wants to take it just for curiosity’s sake, but the other half of me is already in screaming in retreat like a little girl confronted with a huge spider. At my last apartment, the person who lived there before me was on their mailing list.  Since she hadn’t lived there in four years, I got their propaganda instead. I used to read it at arms length for a giggle, but there’s really nothing funny about Scientology. It’s scary and it needs to stop.

Halle Berry

She’s gorgeous; I’ll give her that. However, like Zooey, Halle plays Halle in everything she does and I’m not quite sure I like it. Although, I would like to know why it is that she got away with several drunken hit and run accidents (between 1997 and 2007, there were three) with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. If she wasn’t Halle Berry, she would be in jail. If I did end up drinking with her, I’d make sure she took a cab home.

Kathy Griffin

I find most comedians to be not funny, especially, for whatever reason, female comedians. I think it’s because I don’t relate to their jokes about kids, marriage, PMS or shopping, and it seems that I’m supposed to, because we both have vaginas. I am a female, but I don’t really think of myself as one. I hate gender stereotypes and most female comedians fall right into the trap of promulgating them. I’m not saying that Kathy Griffin does or does not do that, mostly because I have no idea what she says because I can’t stand to hear the words coming out of her mouth. For whatever reason, irrationally, like Leonardo, I cannot stand this woman. I’d rather have a week-long sleepover with Halle and Zooey than hang out with Kathy Griffin for even an hour. It would get ugly.

Quotable Movie Quotes

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There are too many movies that I quote. Sometimes, it seems as if I don’t even have my own words. A lot of times, I’ll quote from a movie and can’t remember which movie it is. Some quotes that I use all the time are as follows:

“Some day, this war’s gonna end.” from Apocalypse Now. I usually replace “war” with any other noun that’s germane to the conversation.

“You’re killing me, Smalls.” from The Sandlot. I’ve only ever seen this movie once and I remember nothing about it, but for some reason, that line stuck with me and I say it all the time. For a long time, I had no idea what movie this was from and had to look it up.

Boring, Sidney, boring.” and “What about the farewell drugs?” from Sid And Nancy.

“You owe me for one jelly donut.”, “They’re payin’ for it, you eat it.” and “Too beaucoup.” from Full Metal Jacket, along with about a bazillion other lines from this movie. It’s infinitely quotable.

“I’m not here to make a record, ya dumb cracker. We ain’t one-at-a-timin’ here, we mass communicatin’!”, “She done R-U-N-N-O-F-T” and “But we’re kin!” from O Brother, Where Art Thou? This movie also has about a billion lines that are quotable.

“Phone’s ringin’, Dude.” and “This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass, Larry!” from The Big Lebowski, among many, many others.

“Let me tell you about my mother.”, “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die. ” and “Wake up, time to die!” from Blade Runner.

“It’s like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.” and “This one goes to eleven.” from This is Spinal Tap.

“This [noun] is dildos”, “Brutal.”, “We are here to make coffee metal. We will make everything metal.” and “food libraries” when referring to a grocery store from Metalocalypse.

Any of the make-believe words Anthony Burgess thought up in the book A Clockwork Orange and Kubrick eloquently put on screen, i.e., “gulliver” (head), “droog” (friend), “bog” (god), “glazzies” (eyes), “yarbles” (balls), “cal” (crap), “prestoopnick” (criminal), “cutter” (money), “pee and em” (dad and mom), etc.

“Don’t touch that! Your primitive intellect wouldn’t understand alloys and compositions and things with… molecular structures.”, “Well, hello, Mister Fancypants.” and “We can take ’em… with science!” from Army of Darkness.

“You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” from The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly.

“These were not the hoof prints of your average God-fearing junkie. It was too savage. Too aggressive.” among others from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

“In the quiet words of the Virgin Mary… come again?” and “D’ya like dags?” from Snatch.

“What’s your function in life?” from Survive Style 5+ said in Vinnie Jones’ very Cockney accent.

“Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.” from Fight Club, but you could just as easily pick any random line from that movie and odds are pretty good that I say it all the time.

And there are still a million Simpsons quotes rolling around in my brainpan.

I could go on forever, but these are a few of my favorite movies, lines from which have made their way into my vernacular. They are a part of me and help make up who I am.

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An Alternate Ending

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My favorite movie endings are unexpected. Any film that doesn’t end “happily ever after” wins in my book. If there’s a surprise twist that leaves me staring at the credits dumbfounded, that film will likely be a favorite of mine. A couple of examples that pop to mind are Oldboy and Fight Club. Both of those movies, when I first saw them anyway, took the wind right out of me. I have watched both films dozens of time since, even though I know exactly what’s coming.

Then there are the movie endings that are just perfect without a surprise twist ending like Casablanca, Gone With The Wind and Once Were Warriors. They perfectly encapsulate the way life really happens without all the nice, neat resolutions. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” is just about the most perfect line ever uttered. None of those movies conclude with boy gets girl or riding off into the sunset on a horse.

Hollywood used to do things right. They used to make a fair number of movies with unhappy endings, or at least, endings that weren’t ridiculously happy. There used to be a note of reality to cinematic storytelling, but those days are mostly gone in the big studios. If Casablanca were made today, Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart would have most assuredly ended up together and there would have been a few more CGI explosions.

It seems that reality has little place in film making anymore. The American public is perfectly happy swallowing the same, clichéd storyline over and over again. Hollywood’s main products are just repackaged foreign books or films, comic books or old television shows. Creative thought is almost nonexistent in American mainstream cinema. It doesn’t make money. Why take a risk on something new when you can clearly resell the same old tired crap and know it will make money? I am not alright with that. It’s part of the reason why I rarely watch Hollywood films; I refuse to give money to a system that promotes rehashed mediocrity and shuns creativity. I know that my measly $12 for a movie ticket doesn’t count for much in the vast sea of complacent movie viewers, but it’s my own tiny  protest. I prefer to spend my money on creativity.

Somewhere along the way, America seems to have lost that spirit of ingenuity for which we were once known. We have become fat, unthinking and indolent. Americans will greedily watch, read or listen to whatever flavorless, repackaged composite is put in front of their gaping maws with abandon. The fact that most of the movies made in this country these days are just remakes of something else proves this to be true. Americans spend billions of dollars a year to entertain ourselves with things we’ve already experienced.

So, when you ask for an alternate ending of a film, I go the way of the cop out answer and don’t select one, but most. If I were the head of a major Hollywood studio, I would stop throwing money at repackaged material. I would have my staff scour the world for scripts that no one has read. I would sift through countless words to find projects that are original or real. I would prove that creative thought is not actually dead. I would prove that originality can make money, too. The unhappy ending would make a comeback.

Goldfish's Death & Variety Hour

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If you had your own reality show, what would it be called?

First, I don’t have cable, which means I don’t have television. New televisions don’t have rabbit ears anymore. I haven’t watched a television show in over two years. I haven’t seen a commercial in nearly as long. Have you any idea how pleasant it is to live a commercial-free life? It’s totally worth not having cable just for that. Although, I do miss The Daily Show. Yes, I know I can watch it online, but it’s not the same.

Second, even when I did have television, I didn’t watch reality shows. I really hate the concept. Hollywood has had a paucity of creativity ever since the writer’s strike in 2007. Although, to be honest, it started well before that, but the strike certainly didn’t help matters.

I’ve already written about my loathing for reality television in the post 10 Things I Hate Part 3: “Some people know every stupid reality show since the Real World. There are people who could tell you every winner of American Idol, but couldn’t name even one Supreme Court Justice. If you want a reality show, go outside. There’s tons of reality all around you. Camp outside a liquor store before it closes on a Friday night and you’ll see a reality show starring drunken frat boys and homeless drunks. If you give the drunks a dollar, I bet they’d even do a dance for you.”

Third, as I’ve already explained numerous times, I really would rather do anything besides be in the public spotlight. I can imagine no worse life than having every move I make recorded, edited, and spewed forth into the ether for the whole world to watch. I am a very private person, with the possible exception of my writing, and that would be absolute hell. So, I don’t want my own reality show. You can have it.

However, maybe I’m being too hasty about this. It doesn’t say I have to actually star in it. I could produce one instead. In that case, I might like to put something on the airwaves that actually means something and does a public service. In answer to another prompt asking what I would do if I were in charge of the world for a day, I came up with this brilliant concept (which was actually slightly borrowed and modified from the film Battle Royale by the masterful Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku):

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“For the good of the public, anyone who makes really stupid decisions on a regular basis can be nominated for a new reality show. Anyone can be nominated, but there has to be proof of repeated stupidity to get on the show, e.g. anyone who has ever been arrested on the show COPS, as judged by an independent and random jury of their peers. If you have enough votes and the jury deems you sufficiently idiotic, you will get on the show where you have to fight to the death with wits and weapons. The last man standing wins the prize of getting to compete again.”

We could open up the field a little bit to include, not just stupid people, but really bad people, too, like pedophiles, murderers, Wall Street executives, pyramid scammers, politicians, etc. Who wouldn’t want to see Bernie Madoff running for his life and ultimately failing?

I think it would get very high ratings. It would be like days of old where the whole town trundled out to the square with tomatoes and rocks to watch a public execution. People love watching other people’s despair and misery, as evidenced by the nightly “news” and the sheer number of reality television shows. Why not take it to the next level and do the public some good by getting rid of unnecessary riffraff along with providing high-quality entertainment? In between all the death, we could have performances by good bands, science facts and intellectual debate. People could edify themselves while they watched. I might actually watch that show.

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Celebrities… BAH

Mmmmmmmmmitchum.

Who is your celebrity crush? Why?

Again with the celebrity questions. Haven’t we already hashed and rehashed the fact that I don’t know nor care about your celebrities? I don’t know who half of them are or why they are celebrities in the first place. I don’t know them; they don’t know me. They wouldn’t come over to my house on a Tuesday night to play poker. They wouldn’t come pick me up in Bakersfield at 4AM if my car died. They are not my friends.

Most celebrities are probably insane anyway. You have to be a little on the crazy side to want to go out and perform in front of people. Personally, I can imagine no worse fate than being on display. I don’t even like going to zoos. They make me sad to see all those animals living their lives in public view, but at least the celebrities chose their fate, unlike the zoo animals. I don’t feel sorry for celebrities since that’s the life they chose.

So, with all the blathering and I don’t cares out of the way, I do have some celebrity crushes from back in the day when men were men, but they’re all dead or impossibly old now, and consequently, not so crushable. I find this new breed of Hollywood stars to be ridiculous. I already wrote about sissy Hollywood movie stars in the post 10 Things I Hate, so I’ll just copy from there:

“Two words: Robert Mitchum. Name one star working in Hollywood today who’s comparable. Yes, there’s Clint Eastwood, but he’s like 90 now. And we still have Russell Crowe, but by and large, the masculine, manly stars of yesteryear, the Bogarts, Mitchums and McQueens, have all been replaced by girlie, hairless mini-men. Hollywood is populated by Lilliputian, teenage-looking, effeminate boys whose voices are higher and whose hair is longer than mine. Even their names are laughable: Leonardo, Orlando and Shia. Really? Where did all the testosterone go?”

It’s not just movie stars either. This emo, boy-band nonsense is pervasive. I’m very tired of these androgynous, pretty boy idiots that you see in everything from music to movies. I wish they would all take a long walk off a short pier. To quote myself again from the post If I Were In Charge…:

“If you are a supposedly heterosexual dude and you’re girlier than me, if your name sounds like a French pastry, if you’ve ever sung in a boy band, if your 90 year-old grandfather has more testosterone than you, if I can beat you up (and I’m a girl), you have to die. Sorry. Those are the rules. I don’t make them up. OK, in this case, I actually did, but it’s still a good rule.”

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