Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pet Peeve: People Who Tell Me About Their Dreams

I'm not sure why this is, but we as a species are under the impression that dreams matter. So much so that every single dream depicted in media (be it books, movies, or television) is prophetic and important. But that's just how dreams are in pop culture. It does not mean that dreams are this way for normal people. Hell, I can't even remember 99.99% of my dreams, so if they were important I would be screwed.
"Simba, I'm totally just a projection of your subconscious." -Real Life Mufasa
So since dreams don't really matter in the real world, can people please stop telling me about them? I get it. A weird thing happened in your dream. Dreams are like that. No, I don't care. I'm only putting on the thinnest facade of interest so that I can show you that I'm listening, but in reality I care even less about the dream you had last night than I do about soccer.
Soccer: Popular because of convenience, not quality.

It might be different if I had the exact same dream as you and we could both talk about how wild it was, because then it's basically a shared memory. But since I wasn't in your dream, your recounting of it to me is the epitome of a "you had to be there" moment.

Pop Culture: The Kings of Summer

This movie is awesome. It's the story of three teenage boys who build a house in the middle of the woods and live there for a whole summer. It's like Stand By Me, but way funnier. Filled with heart and so amusing I laughed out loud while watching it alone, this movie is great to watch with your family, provided your family is cool with the occasional F bomb.

Other notes:
-Nick Offerman from Parks and Recreation is in it and is hilarious.

-Alison Brie from Community is also in it and is not that funny but really good looking.

-Everyone should watch this movie so that we can all talk about it. Because it's just tremendous.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pet Peeve: People that Use the Pool at the Beach

I've spent the past two weeks at the beach with my family, and have fortunately been able to forget my usual frustrations with society in general, but there is apparently no place devoid of the depravities of humanity anymore. Every day on my way to the sand, ocean, and book reading that I so enjoy, I pass by a pool. Every time I wonder who in their right mind would use a pool when there is a perfectly good ocean not 100 meters away (I'm not afraid to give distance in meters, haters) and every time the pool has had patrons.
This is what you get when you google "beach pool." This is not what you get when you go to the pool at the beach.
The only people allowed to go to a beach pool should be people with small children, and them only for 20% of their vacation days. The ocean is good for you. It's science (probably). And it seems like a waste of money for someone to pay to stay at a special house so they can make use of a body of water that exists in places other than the coast. Pools are all well and good, but to me they are the ocean's substitute teacher. Fun for a little while, but ultimately not as good at providing what you're there for.
Substitute teachers still think that Clip Art is relevant.
So stop using the pool at the beach because it is not only a waste of money, but lame. All kinds of lame.

Pop Culture: Star Trek: Into Darkness

This is a movie that I greatly enjoyed, not just for the movie itself but for the brilliance that J.J. Abrams applied to it. First, the way that he payed homage to Wrath of Khan by having Kirk die (as opposed to Spock dying in the original) in the nuclear reactor was very cool. It allowed a gap to be bridged between the old and new Star Trek universes, and it was definitely a touching scene just like the first one was.

Second, this movie just confirms how brilliant Abrams' decision to create some parallel universe mumbo jumbo in his first movie really was. In his first movie, it just seemed like a weird way to go about messing with the way that things actually happened, but it took on a new life in his second installment. Abrams can now recreate stories that old school Trekkies know and love for a new audience while simultaneously keeping those selfsame old schoolers engaged and guessing because nothing has to go the same way that it went in any of the original material. I can't think of a better way to make everyone at least moderately happy (there are still many vehemently opposed to the idea of an Uhura/Spock relationship), and it makes me optimistic to see what Abrams can do as the series continues and as he embarks on continuing other classic film series. There is a possibility that the Star Wars universe need not be marred by the debacle that was Episodes 1-3.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Pet Peeve: People Who Add/Mix Letters to Words

"Warshington" is neither a state nor a statesman. How has this even become a way that people say "Washington?" They added a letter. Why the hell would anyone add a letter? It's not easier. It doesn't roll off the tongue better. It doesn't make sense why this has become a thing. Stop making it a thing!
This is not what I meant by Freedom of Speech.
"Calvary" is the hill on which Jesus was crucified, not a type of military unit. This one at least makes a little bit of sense, because "cavalry" takes a little bit more effort. But is it really so hard to enunciate that we use another word instead? Next we'll have people saying that the United States placed Japanese Americans in "internet" camps because "internment" is just too much to say. Come on, people.
Pictured: soldiers on horses?

Pop Culture: 42

I went to see this movie a couple weeks ago, and it is worth the trip to the theater. I'm not saying that it was ground-breaking in terms of either a sports movie or a film about racism, but it should still be watched. The best thing that I took out of it was Jackie Robinson's struggle not to fight back against the people who stood in opposition to him. His ability to check his ego and just play baseball must have been quite impressive indeed.

Alan Tudyk's performance as Phillies' Manager Ben Chapman was quite good in that he really showed a good image of what other people in the game would do to try and antagonize him. Probably the opposite of Chapman was Pee Wee Reese, played by my man Lucas Black, who made a great effort to embrace Jackie (both literally and figuratively) as just another member of the team. Where Tudyk left me feeling angry, Black made me optimistic and reminded me that despite what happened in the past, both baseball and the world have become more accepting. Good performances on both sides.

42 is certainly nothing new or original, but that doesn't mean it's bad. On the contrary, I quite enjoyed it. I'm also excited to learn more about Jackie Robinson's life via Eric Metaxas' new book 7 Men.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pet Peeve: Listening to Other People's Problems

I like people. I like to talk to them, spend time with them, and learn about them. With that comes the need to talk about more than what happened on TV last night, and occasionally to discuss issues that are less than pleasant. I'm fine with that, I think it's valuable and necessary for quality relationships. What I'm not great at, however, is listening to people's problems.
This scenario has never happened in real life.
Maybe it's just me, and maybe it's an issue that only I have, but I'm terrible at making people feel better. If someone comes to me and shares their problems, I have very little to offer them other than "Oh, that sucks. Sorry, man." They know it sucks. They're going through it. How can my assertion that yes, they are indeed in a difficult situation possibly do anything to help?
I see that you're about to fall to your death. That must be challenging for you.
This is not to say that I'm not a good person to talk to about your problems. On the contrary, I am able to offer a great deal of wisdom, knowledgeable advice, and personal experience (also, tons and tons of humility). But what I can't do is try to sympathize. The best response I've been able to come up with that is not advice is "I hate that for you." This may be one of the most useless platitudes around. How does someone respond to that? "It's very nice that you hate that for me, but I am doing a pretty good job hating it all by myself. Do you have anything of substance to offer? Perhaps a picture of an adorable kitten?"
If this doesn't cure your broken leg, I don't know what will.
So instead of attempting to sympathize with problems, I think it might be better to just listen to the situation and say something like this: "Your situation is clearly quite difficult, and I'm sorry that I can't fix it for you, but I would like to offer you the following advice: [insert wise advise that is available only from years of experience or extreme narcissism]. Does that help?" It'll help. It always helps.

Pop Culture: Jack the Giant Slayer

I saw this movie a while ago with my brother, and it fueled a great discussion between us. The movie was as mediocre as would be expected, but what got me was that it just tried to do too much. There were just too many things going on throughout the movie for me to be able to concentrate and appreciate any individual aspect. My brother, who has an excellent opinion on movies, wrote this off as one of the many problems with the movie, and wanted to leave the subject be. That's all well and good for him, but I make it a point in my life to over-analyze movies. For some reason or another, it's important to me.

Jack the Giant Slayer could have been much better than it was. That's a pretty safe statement, as any movie could be better, and to say that is to say very little indeed. But for the sake of over-analysis, I have some thoughts: Ian McShane plays the king in this movie, and despite the fact that I love Deadwood, The Pillars of the Earth, and even Kings, I think that McShane's role should've been minimal. I don't need to see attempts at politics or humanizing kings in a movie about Jack and the Beanstalk. Take out most of his parts, and we've got some room to work with. Room that could be filled with making me give a crap about the relationship between Jack and the princess. This is perhaps the area in which the movie should've spent the bulk of its time, because its the driving force for most of the plot. Instead, they focused on other stuff, for some reason. Give me more relationship building and less argument about whether or not to cut down the stalk and we're in business.

So, Jack the Giant Slayer. It's got Ewan McGregor, who is cool. It's got giants, who are interesting. And it's got a whole lot of other stuff, which was not engaging. And that's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pet Peeve: Trucks Driving Next to Each Other

We've all seen it. Cruising down the highway, trying as hard as possible to make "good time" even though everyone else in the car is begging for a rest stop, when suddenly you car goes from 79 mph (because the cops will usually let you go if you're under 80) to a sloth-like 55. What has caused this tremendous impediment to progress? Has there been a wreck? Is there roadside construction? Is there a family of ocelots crossing the street? No. It's this:
Ocelots aren't usually found north of Texas.
Two trucks side by side on a highway may just be the bane of any driver's existence. The right lane was created so slower vehicles could stop being jerks and let faster, better vehicles go along their merry way without having to suffer undue amounts of road rage. So what does an 18-wheeled semi think it's doing there? They move about as fast as a Snorlax and they know it.
Couldn't have said it better myself, big guy.
I understand that there are instances in which one truck is being so absurdly slow that a rival big rig just has to get ahead of him, and while I'm not opposed to anyone passing one of these gargantuan snails, there should be a rule stating that trucks trying to pass other trucks must do so as quickly as humanly possible. That means they signal, change lanes, slam on the gas as hard as they can without spilling their Big Gulp, signal again, and get back into the right lane before too many people give them the finger.

Instead what happens is the truck moves from the horrible person/minivan lane and into the nice/upstanding individual lane, only to attempt to pass the more evil truck as slowly as possible. There is a special level of Hell devoted to truck drivers who do this. I don't know if I've made it clear, but this is something I really can't stand. And if this business happens on an incline, I get so mad I go Super Saiyan (or I would, if that was a thing).

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pop Culture: Why Kids Movies Need Villains

As the oldest of seven children, I have been watching kids movies way longer than is healthy or reasonable. For this reason, I think I can provide a pretty good perspective on that type of movie, both as someone who loved them as a kid, and someone who still watches them as an adult.

What makes kids movies great is the characters. They're quite possibly the most loveable people/animals/cars/toys in movies, and they are great at showing the children watching them the right thing to do without the annoying recap at the end found in children's television.
Pictured: the right thing to do.
But as I look back on these movies, there are some seriously evil villains doing some downright dastardly things. Maleficent turns into a dragon to kill a dude who is trying to wake up a girl that she put a spell on just because she wasn't invited to that girl's birthday party. Steel from Balto tries to kill Balto for attempting to help bring diphtheria antitoxin to a small, dying child. Captain Hook repeatedly tries to straight up stab Peter Pan (this one is moderately justified because Peter Pan did cut off Hook's hand). Jafar tries to stab Aladdin when he brings him the lamp, even though Al was bringing him the lamp because he asked for it. And the dude from The Rescuers Down Under kidnaps a child and locks him in a cage so he'll tell him where an eagle lives. There are some nefarious beings at large in the Disney universe, people.
Cody should've learned not to get scooped up in a sack by strangers. It's his own fault.
When you think about it though, it's important for children to see that there are bad people in the world because guess what? There are bad people in the world. While trust is certainly a good thing to teach little ones, an equally, if not more important lesson is that not everyone has your best interests at heart, and it's necessary to be wary of such people.

But kids movies don't stop there. They don't just have the main characters face adversity against evil and then have the ones responsible apologize and go about their business. Scar gets thrown off a cliff and devoured by hyenas, Ursula gets ship's broken prow plunged into her chest, and Gaston falls to his doom off of a ridiculously tall castle. Why don't we teach the younglings to forgive and forget?
And that's why you don't stab bear-ox-wolf-men, kids.
This has another important lesson in it. There is evil in the world, and sometimes it can't simply be stopped once, but must instead be annihilated. We didn't teach the Nazis to forgive. We punished them severely and put their leaders to death. We teach kids through these movies that good can, should, and usually will triumph over evil, and then we teach them that said evil needs to be stricken from the earth.

These sound like harsh things to teach children, and they are. But by showing them these movies we are also showing them why we have armies, police forces, and hall monitors (okay, maybe not hall monitors). Forgiveness is great and should be put into practice (for evidence, see Veggie Tales), but there comes a time when people have to fight for what's right, and that's what Walt Disney is trying to teach us when he sends the Witch to her death (via cliff-fall-off-ing, because originality isn't that important) for trying to kill Snow White because she's too pretty.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pet Peeve: Same Side Boothers

We've all seen it. We're at a nice restaurant like Bojangles or the Waffle House (those are nice, right?), and there is a couple there "enjoying" their own fried, greasy, delicious meal before it comes back to bite them in approximately twelve hours. But this couple isn't sitting normally in their booth, with one person on either side. No, this couple has made the incredibly poor choice of having both individuals share the same side of the booth.

No matter how much fun they think they're having, they're not. They're just not.
What those old people pictured above are doing is being fools. Old, loveable, apparently drunk fools. How can they be properly partaking in their meal if they insist upon using only half as much booth as they were given? Look at them, they're crowded in there like two crowded people being crowded (I'm still working on my similes). And the question that should immediately come to mind is: Why?

I've heard the arguments. And they are all untrue. Better conversation? False, it is much easier to have a conversation when you're looking directly at the person with whom you are conversing, instead of having to crane your neck like the Finding Nemo seagulls or just talking straight in front of you at nothing. Physical intimacy? If you're so concerned with being close to another person, go to any club in New York City and you will never again feel the need for that kind of togetherness. And what's wrong with footsie (I know what footsie is only because it was explained to me by a sinful friend, mom)? If the only way you can think of to be close with your significant other is to have your shoulder against theirs, you may need counseling.

"We are having so much more fun than those old people from before!"
The most logical argument for the Same Side Boothers (or as they shall henceforth be know, Satan's Sitters) that I've come up with is that it's not for them, it's for us. They sit uncomfortably, looking at the empty booth and bumping their fork elbow with their partner's knife elbow (or both knife elbows if one is a lefty) not because they enjoy it, but because they know we're watching and they want to show us how great their relationship is. But we see them. We see them and we hate them. We hate them with a passion that burns with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.

Look at them over there, pretending to be happy. It makes me sick.
So the problem may not be foolishness, but a misguided idea that the general populace cares whether or not you're in a good relationship. Because we don't. So quit it.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Pop Culture: Argo

So Argo won Best Picture at the Oscars last week. I watched it. I thought it was really good. I liked that the girl from Season 9 of Scrubs got a decent role. That's it?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pet Peeve: People Who Wear Running Shoes But Aren't Currently Running

If you understand this picture, you don't need to read anymore of this post.

This one is pretty straight forward. Running shoes (Brooks, Asics, New Balance, even Nike Frees) are great for running time, but not acceptable for regular time. These kinds of "work out" shoes need to be kept with "work out" clothes, i.e. mesh shorts and some form of t-shirt. Otherwise you look ridiculous.

"Jeans would make this so much harder. Good call, Jim."
One of the main problems I have with this is that everyone I've ever talked to in life about this issue has agreed with me, and yet I still see it all the time. Something must go clearly awry in between when I talk to people about how awful running shoes look with jeans and when they're standing in front of their closets trying to choose the right ensemble. They must look at their running shoes and think "these shoes may look bad with what I'm wearing, but they have so much mesh that I can't NOT show them off."

Look how much mesh there is. Loafers don't have nearly as much mesh.
I will concede the point that running shoes are more comfortable and supportive than not-running shoes. But based on that same argument, why aren't people constantly wearing workout clothes and whatnot whenever they go out? Why aren't the clubs packed with dudes in Under Armor and girls in sports bras? It's because at some point, we made the choice to look good at the expense of a small amount of comfort instead of being a comfy troglodyte. This is a key point that some people are apparently missing, or at least trying in vain to have the best of both worlds.

Ryan Gossling puts it well in Crazy, Stupid Love (and looks great doing it, by the way):

So keep the sneakers for working out, but know that every time you try to "pull them off" with something else, Ryan Gosling dies a little inside. And no one wants that.

Pop Culture: Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

This post is brought about by something that I never would take place: my dad recommended some music to me. I love my dad, and I respect his opinion, but I've never known him to be "hip" or up to date with the music of today. Needless to say, I was hesitant when he suggested I listen to Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, until he mentioned that he had been informed of them by a family friend whose daughter is friends with the eponymous Drew. This pitch was much more convincing.

After listening to their new album "Good Light" on Spotify, I determined that I should support this group and thus purchased the album. Since I bought it on Saturday, I've listened to it probably three or four times. I think it's really good. They've got a sound that is kind of a mix between the Civil Wars and the Lumineers, so naturally I made a playlist with all three of those bands. It's really awesome.

So yeah, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. Check them out because my dad said so.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pet Peeve: The Oscars

The Oscars were last night. I watched them, and enjoyed parts of them. But what gets me about the Oscars is not the occasional ups and downs typical of an individual show, but the things that keep reappearing and frustrating me to no end.

Seth MacFarlane should stick to his day job.

People We Don't Care About Talking Too Much

People only really care about five, six awards max during the Oscars; the four acting awards, Best Director, and Best Picture. We care about these because they are only things that we, the viewers, noticed when we watched the movie. Sure, I pick up on the fact that Anna Karenina had some good costumes and, of course, Les Miserable had some cool music going on, but I'm not going to lose sleep over how those smaller categories turned out, just like I'm not going to rush out and buy Life of Pi because of its original score.

So I'm frustrated when these awards I don't care about are handed to not-famous people I don't care about, who then try and take up an inordinate amount of time thanking even more not-famous people I don't care about. Unless you're one of the top six awards listed above, you should be confined to thanking your production team (as a whole, not individuals), the director, your family and friends (as a whole, not individuals), and God (which, I noticed, no one did last night. Ang Lee thanked the "movie god," but that was as far was we got. What a shame). This would drastically cut down on time and fluff, making the Oscars a more enjoyable experience for everyone.


I know that no one would watch the five-hour-long awards extravaganza if they handed out the important awards first, but they could really stand to space out the stuff we care about a little better. Last night, for instance, they started by presenting the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Christoph Waltz), and then they waited another hour and a half before showing us another acting award. Then they crammed four of the most important awards together at the end, which sucked because they had to cut a lot of the good stuff short. So here's my proposition: give us a good award, then three bad awards, then another good award. That way I can at least have something to look forward to while I'm listening to some random guy talk about how grateful he is that his short, live action film won.

Picking the Wrong Host

Seth MacFarlane is known for his cartoon show (where we can't see his face), and the various characters he plays in that show (which don't sound anything like him), so why was he picked to host the Oscars? I have to imagine that everyone over the age of 30 had no clue who they were being offended by, and the people that knew who he was were just expecting Peter Griffin to show up in a tux.

I would've really liked to see this, actually.
This isn't the first time this has happened either. Chris Rock wasn't exactly a wise choice, and they followed a good show by Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin with the unproven James Franco and Anne Hathaway. It seems to me like we just need to stick with people who have proven to be good hosts (get Hugh Jackman back!), or pick people who aren't famous for being offensive.

So the Oscars have some problems, and those problems will annoy me until they are remedied, but I'm still going to watch the show, which is the biggest part of the issue.

Pop Culture: The Oscars

The Oscars were last night. They went from 7:00 pm to 12:00 am, and I watched all five hours of the action. By the time they got to the good parts, I had been holding in my bowel movement for two hours. My discomfort was not, however, the worst part of the show. Seth MacFarlane's "We Saw Your Boobs" song has that honor. While I found it to be amusing, it was definitely not the kind of thing that should be sang at the Academy Awards. But the rough patches didn't stop there:

-Jennifer Lawrence completely ate it on the steps walking up to receive her award (and then Hugh Jackman tried to help her up, which was a really cool/manly thing to do).

-Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy had a very long, very awkward dialogue about how neither of them have received any movie offers in a while, which I wish was true because I'm starting to get sick of both of them.

-Anne Hathaway's acceptance speech was really long, longer even than the people who got the hilarious "Jaws" theme played for them.

-All of the people nominated for the sound editing award (who cares?) had ridiculously long hair, showing that it is incredibly possible for bad looking people to be in show business.

While there were plenty of things that made me cringe a little, there were also some pretty awesome moments:

-The Les Miserables cast singing "One Day More" gave me just as many chills last night as when I saw the movie

-Shirley Bassey came out and sang the theme from "Goldfinger," which was cool.

-Ben Affleck's acceptance speech started out annoying and frantic, but became very poignant about halfway through.

-Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron can both dance pretty well.

-Seth MacFarlane tossed George Clooney an airplane bottle of whiskey, which Clooney then cracked open and presumably drank. That was really funny.

-Daniel Day Lewis' acceptance speech was the funniest thing that happened all night.

So there were ups and downs, which is to be expected. Now I've just got to wait patiently for next year's Oscars. We'll see how well that goes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pet Peeve: People Who Automatically Think Something Is Stolen

I'm having trouble thinking of a witty introduction for this post, so I'm just going to get started: I dislike when people can't find an object or something, and automatically assume that it's been stolen. I know so many people that do this that I'm legitimately afraid for the future because we'll all eventually just go around accusing everyone else of stealing our crap. And no one wants that.

No one but this guy.
It's not that it's impossible for someone to have stolen your precious thing that you can't find, it's that it is at least 95% more likely that you just misplaced it (that statistic was completely made up and is pure hyperbole). And since you probably didn't have that item taken from you by some nefarious being, it really only shows me two things:

1. You are too lazy to search for the thing you lost,

which is fine, but

2. You are somehow uncomfortable with people knowing that you're too lazy to look for something, so you hide it by placing the blame on some imaginary third party,

which is a very poor reflection on you as a person. So don't just assume that someone else has taken the thing you can't find, go ahead and take a look around.

Now, where did I put my dignity? I swear I just had it.
This brings me to my next point (didn't think you were going to get a double-dose of pointless ranting, did ya, reader?), people need to be better about looking for stuff. If you're like me, when you were a kid you pretended to look for something for a while, then went and asked your dad to find it. This strategy worked great for the first eighteen years of my life, but I no longer live with my dad, so now I'm stuck with trying to find my own crap. This means that, since I spent my developmental years avoiding looking for stuff, I have no skill in this area.

Someone's got to help me find my binoculars eventually.

In the three years I've been gone from home, I've developed a relatively good system for finding stuff I misplace. I just have the following conversation with myself:

"Hey, so Past Me is a pretty smart guy."

"Yeah, he's probably at least as smart as Current Me."

"Exactly, so I just have to think about where Past Me would have put *insert object name here*, because I'm sure he put it in a place that Current Me would be able to find now."

"Sweet. Past Me is a genius. And really good looking, too."

"Damn right he is."

And that's basically how I go about finding things now. This doesn't really tie into my initial point, but I just figured I'd share that.

Also, how the hell are there this many pictures of good looking people in suits holding binoculars?!

Pop Culture: Warm Bodies

Because we don't have enough paranormal romance stories these days.
This weekend, my siblings and I went to see Warm Bodies. I had heard very little about this movie, so I immediately looked it up on Rotten Tomatoes. It got a 78%. That's pretty good. Do you know what the five Twilight movies got? 49%, 27%, another 49%, 24%, and 48%. So going into it, I was hesitant because it sounded really dumb, yet hopeful because I kind of like Twilight.

The first half of the movie, I couldn't help but think that the whole thing was entirely stupid. It all just seemed like a bad spoof. But about halfway through, I started thinking that it wasn't so bad. There were some pretty funny jokes, and I liked the girl (played by Teresa Palmer, who is very good looking), and it wasn't such a bad story after all. Towards the end, I actually found myself liking the movie quite a lot.

The movie is at its best when it's making ironic comments about the undead like when they bump into each other and say "excuse me," and I especially liked how it was essentially an analogy for people today being so dependent upon technology that we aren't able to function or interact socially.  It made for an interesting discussion on the ride home.

One thing that could have been done better is Palmer's relationship with her boyfriend David Franco, but there was a lot of other stuff going on, too. It's difficult to give adequate time to developing her previous relationship, being captured by a zombie, finding out that the zombie isn't so lifeless after all, developing feelings for the zombie, and fighting off other undead beings. So there were some things that had to fall through the cracks.

Overall though, I thought that it was a pretty good movie. And that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pet Peeve: Songs With Unnecessary F-bombs

I enjoy music. I don't really have a favorite genre, and the shuffle button on my iPod is my close friend. For those reasons, I often listen to and enjoy music with "swear words" in it, which is fine. I'm a 21 year old man, so I'm legally allowed to do anything I want except maybe rent a car in certain states (take that, mom!). But I don't like a song just because it has profanity, nor do I listen to it specifically so I can hear a bad word. I'd like to think that people listen to music because the lyrics mean something, or because the beat sounds nice, or because the dub is really steppy (still not sure I get that genre).

But what always baffles me is when there is a song that's got a good sound, nice lyrics, and a single, inappropriately placed F-bomb. NOTE: All linked songs have had their f-bombs edited over.

Like this song (who the *expletive* wants to die alone):

And this one (read between the lines, what's *not really muffed* up):

This one too (she could see from my face that I was *not really flying* high ):

And let's not forget this one either (them mother *expletive*s don't know how to act):

Clearly we have a bit of an epidemic on our hands. All of these songs are good without their unnecessary, often problematic profanities. I can't think of anyone who listens to the edited version of these songs and thinks "y'know what this is missing? One F-bomb. Just one." I still would have known that James Blunt's fleeting encounter with a beautiful woman was sad without understanding to what extent he was visibly high. And what's wrong with J.T. saying that the "other boys" don't know how to act, which is what he says every single other time except one?!

I would really like to not have to worry about profanities hurtling at me without warning like that potato that almost blinded Almanzo Wilder, especially while I'm riding in the car with my younger siblings or other impressionable youth.

Not sure if you caught it back there, but I totally just made a Farmer Boy reference. It was awesome.
So, music industry, stop putting f-bombs into songs that don't need them, just for the sake of having them. It's very annoying, partly because they don't make sense in the song, and also because iTunes doesn't really do edited versions of those songs so I'm stuck with it unless I download it illegally. It's a big hassle.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pop Culture: Where Have All The Westerns Gone?

I'm a big fan of Westerns. I like the raw manliness of the Clint Eastwoods and John Waynes of the world, I like the idea that the only thing standing up against evil is a man with a six-shooter, and I especially like how freakin' cool it all is.

The Wild West: where annunciation isn't nearly as important and stoicism.
But where have all the Westerns gone? Have people stopped liking movies about manly men doing manly man things? Can people somehow be brought back into the realm of sanity, or are we destined to live without gunslingers for all eternity? Back in the day, there were so many Westerns that there were fifteen subgenres, each with different characteristics of ass-kickery. But now-a-days we've substituted the dystopias of the Wild West with post-apocalyptic zombie romances. Gone are the heroes who drink, smoke, and dip, only to be replaced by Ryan Gosling, whose only redeeming quality is his smoldering, smoldering gaze.

If I stare silently long enough, they'll forget about the Mickey Mouse Club
But our move away from Westerns doesn't make sense, because they're actually exactly what we want to watch, we just think they're not. Sound confusing? I'll elaborate. It seems like these days we don't want protagonists who are entirely good (like John Wayne), but are instead looking for morally ambiguous antiheroes looking for redemption (like Don Draper, Tony Soprano, and Walter White). So what would be better to bring back than Clint Eastwood's character in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly?

Similarly, we don't want cut and dry plots, but prefer shocking twists, ambiguous villains, and uncertain odds. While it's true that there are a number of Westerns that do not fit this description, Two Mules for Sister Sara, Tombstone, and The Outlaw Josey Wales all offer intricate, entertaining plots. So it's not that we don't want Westerns anymore, it's that the ones we want have become more specific.

Now, it's very important to note that a lot of the recent attempts to reinvigorate the Western genre have fallen flat because they don't focus on the crap I just mentioned. So if our goal is to jump-start the resurgence of Westerns (and you'd better believe it is), what needs to happen is a director comes along and gives us the kind of movie that focuses on the qualities that people want today, which were always present in the old ones. We don't need a gritty reboot or an homage, we need a back to basics Western.

Now that I've come up with the idea, someone get out there and make it happen!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pet Peeve: Bumping Into Close Friends

I like to think that I'm a relatively sociable guy. To quote the great Ron Burgundy, "people know me." And when I pass my acquaintances while walking to class, inside an academic building, or just around, I'm good about saying hello and making a quick quip to them before going about my own damn business. It's a practiced skill.

"Working hard or hardly working, eh Bill?" "Shut up, Ron. Just shut up."
 But as good as I am at making passing conversation with people who I vaguely recognize, I'm always at a loss as to how to go about bumping into one of my close friends. It shouldn't be a problem, because I see them all the time and we are great at having conversations together, but when we're passing each other in the hallway, I have no idea what's appropriate to say. Do I hit them with one of the useless greetings I give random people? Do I try to stop and have a conversation? Can I get away with acknowledging them by simply inclining my neck like one of the Urgals from the Inheritance Series?

If I were as adorable as this little guy I'd be able to do whatever I wanted with impunity.
So what's the protocol? I am good at talking to acquaintances in passing as well as hanging out with my buddies on purpose, but what the hell am I supposed to do when I see my buddies in passing?!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pop Culture: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

There will come a day when I embed an image that isn't a movie poster, but it is not this day!
Earlier today I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which is all about a young boy named Charlie who struggles through the high school experience alongside his friends. I found this movie to be enjoyable, but also terribly sad as it brought up a lot of truths that are so rarely captured by typical high school movies. Struggles with sexual identity, popularity, the search for friends, and even abuse are all revealed, and no character is safe from suffering. And while this may hit a rather morbid note for some, was your time as a high school student so different? I liked this movie because it dealt with things other movies are afraid to. Most importantly, it showed me things that shocked me, but then I remembered that I had already seen and been a part of similar stories in my own life.

I know that there was a book first, and I read it before watching the movie. I am usually quite insistent on reading the book first. I loved it for the same reasons I enjoyed the movie, though I did approve of some of the very subtle changes that author/screenwriter/director Stephen Chbosky made to the character of Charlie. In the movie, Charlie is not quite as oblivious as he is in the book (great job by Logan Lerman, by the way), which was a nice change because I was often frustrated by his naivete in the written version of the story.

Overall, I found The Perks of Being a Wallflower to be a wonderful journey, and I will be listening to the soundtrack for a long time to come. Here's Asleep by The Smiths, the most referenced song in the movie/book:

We are infinite.

Pet Peeve: Mismatched Actors Names on Movie Posters

This one can really drive me off the wall. So you're looking at a movie poster, or the cover of a DVD or something, and you see a picture of two or more actors who are in the movie you're staring at. Then, you look directly above them, and see the names of these actors. But the names aren't directly above the actor to which they correspond, and are instead on the other guy. Like so:

I think they were both in the Star Wars prequels, too. One was Padme, the other was JarJar Binks.
Now, it isn't too much of a problem when it's two famous people that are clearly quite different. But what if there were more people, with more similarities?

Morgan Freeman's shirt is made out of his own hair in this picture.
It starts to get more and more complicated, but still not a hassle if you have a vague knowledge of famous people. But still, couldn't the movie industry, which spends millions of dollars on advertising just take a little time and put the right names in the right places? Especially when it gets complicated:

Jeremy Irons: murdered his brother in a G-rated movie. The Lion King.
 Seriously?! There are eight people on this poster, seven of whom are wearing suits, nine names, and none of them are even kind of matched with the order the people are shot in. That gets confusing for anyone. All I'm asking is for a little bit of time and a minimal amount of effort to be put into something that should not even be an issue in the first place. It doesn't seem that hard. Just look at how well the Bucket List did it:

The sunglasses hide Jack Nicholson's evil, evil eyes.

P.S. Most of these images were initially noticed (and then later used by me) on a recent article which, when I noticed the naming mismatch, fueled my unbridled rage.


I'm not overly confident about my writing ability, nor do I think that the things I have to say are particularly ground-breaking or even amusing. However, I do know that I have a lot of opinions, and that I love pop culture. I'm all about movies, books, television, and music. It's really becoming a detriment to my schoolwork, as even now I am writing this with a major graded event looming over my head tomorrow. But regardless of the quality of my thoughts, I am going to share them, as my friends haven't seen nearly as many movies and don't care nearly as much as I do about them, and they don't think my incessant references to pop culture are nearly as funny as I do. Hopefully the internet will feel differently.

Although I love all things related to pop culture, there are a number of things that I don't like. These are primarily social idiosyncrasies, problems with stuff and other objects, or any misalignment of  human nature that I find irksome. These will also be discussed.

When I thought about whether or not I should try to write a blog, my first question was simple: "Should I write a blog?", to which I promptly responded: "Sure."