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 Cracked.com 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."