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Monday, May 30, 2011

3-D Sucks

*(I figure if I'm going to point out something that sucks, I should point out something else that sucks)*
Going to the movies is obviously an expensive proposition. Tickets in most places cost near or over ten bucks. All of that goes to the impoverished film studios, who sadly only make billions of dollars a year, and can only afford to pay their actors millions. Because of this, a twelve-ounce coke at the concession stand can often cost the same as a downpayment on a house, just so the theater can turn a profit. Thankfully though, there is a way that we can give the film studios even more of our hard-earned money and cheapen our film experience at the same time!
When I was a kid, there was this horrible movie called Jaws 3-D. It was the butt of jokes for a very long time, not only because it was terrible, but also because it cheaply attempted to use 3-D as a gimmick to attract audiences. Thankfully, soon after Jaws 3-D's release, 3-D fell out of favor again. The goofy glasses and the use of 3-D to distract from a film's badness became a running joke, much as I'm sure it did in the huge gap of prominent 3-D film releases between the 1950's and early 1980's.
Every now and then the major film studios, who are all tied into corporate media, concoct a news story about how their profits are down compared to some abstract point in time. The truth, of course, is that they are making more money than ever. They have also decided that 3-D is the gateway to more money, and that every big film has to be shown in 3-D now in order to maximize profits.
That's it: the reason that 3-D is so abundunt in theaters now is not audience demand or appreciation--it's because the studios can make more money. Look at the ridiculous amounts of money that Avatar made because of 3-D showings. Also, look at how I put a colon and a hyphen in the same sentence.
I don't really need to go into great depth about the problems with three-dee (that's how I will refer to it from here on out for absolutely no reason), so I will just make a quick lazy list:
1. Darkens and blurs the picture so that you can't really see everything that well, just the main point of focus in the frame if you're lucky.
2. Have to wear annoying glasses that just make you look and feel stupid and can give you a headache.
3. Have to pay even more money to watch the film.
4. Movies are called movies because they are "moving pictures." A picture is, by its very nature, flat. People have been enjoying "flat" movies for years to the point that "flatness" is intrinsic.
Anyway, there is a surefire way to get three-dee out of theaters: don't go. If you make a point to only attend 2-D features, the theaters will not make any money from three-dee films. I know I will be making a point to see the new Harry Potter in 2-D. If the theater makes no money from three-dee films, they will be forced to stop showing them. If they stop showing them, the studio won't make any money selling them, and will be forced to stop making them. Then we won't have to have this stupid conversation anymore until people forget again how much three-dee sucks 20-25 years from now. Of course, the world could end before then, and also, movies might not even exist anymore, but I don't like to think about the future because it makes me depressed.
Also, Roger Ebert wrote about this same thing a few days ago, except articulately, mainly focusing on how theaters neglect to remove the three-dee lens from the projector, thus ruining 2-D showing of films as well.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gas Prices Going Up is Good?

According to this article, which is one of the most patronizingly stupid things I have ever read in my entire life (and this from someone who just devoted an entire post to the misuse of hyperbole), $5 gas prices are good for us! In fact, we should LOVE THEM.
This MSN article highlights why the Democratic party is so out of touch with the average American (and this from a Democrat!). It takes not facts, but wishes, and uses them for the basis of its argument. For one thing, not even studies, but ACTUAL REAL LIFE has shown us that despite gas prices going up, people are not driving less. People still need to get places in order to live their lives.
We "Middle-Americans" aren't just driving willy-nilly for the hell of it. In most places in America (outside of the four or five cities that most of the media that could possibly compose this article are based in), we have to drive to work, drive to drop our kids off at school, and drive to get groceries. Lo and behold we can actually afford a vacation or two a year, we have to drive there, too. There is no way around it. In the real, actual world we live in today, we HAVE to drive our vehicles on a regular basis in order to survive.
To drive our vehicles, we have to purchase gasoline. If gasoline prices are higher, we have to spend more money fueling our cars. If we have to spend more money fueling our cars, we have less money to spend on other things.
Case in point:
I love shopping at Whole Foods with my wife and 18-month old son. I love being able to purchase healthy, quality foods, even organic if I can afford it.
My wife and I both have to fill up our cars once a week. If gas is two dollars a gallon, we spend about $56 dollars at the pump a week, or roughly $243 a month. If gas cost five dollars a gallon, we spend about $140 dollars a week on gas, or roughly $607 a month.
I can barely afford that! With that kind of expense, shopping at Whole Foods is out of the question. Thank God my wife is a crafty chef and can still cook on a shoestring budget with stuff we get at Wal-Mart or from my brother's garden. Otherwise, we would be eating Burger King every night!
I could give many other examples of how high gas prices make my, and every other low or middle-class person's life worse, but the simplest way to put it is that most of us are looking at $360 slashed out of our budget that we were going to spend on something else, most likely something that would benefit us and the economy.
I haven't even mentioned the fact that all American's goods are delivered to us in gas-powered vehicles. This means that on top of us having to pay more for gas individually, we must also pay more for the products we need, due to the increased cost of shipping.
High gas prices benefit only those making a profit from the gasoline, whoever these mysterious people are.
For the rest of us, it's about as great as a hammer to the genitals.
So MSN, go hammer-to-the-genitals yourself.
Then try to write an article about how we should all love getting hit in the balls with a heavy, metallic tool.
Or you could just write your stupid article again.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pitchfork Sucks

Pitchfork sucks.
You know what else sucks? Hyperbole. In all honesty,, an "indie" music website, breaks a lot of good music news before anyone, and can be an important resource. Then again, they only have these capabilities because of the institution they have become. You wouldn't think "indie" and "institution" would go together, but Pitchfork has found a way: through the attention they've received from their hyperbolic reviews.
I will give an example of one of their most egregious offenses, but first let me defend my argument by having an imaginary entity question my opinion:
But, Nicsperiment, hyperbole doesn't get anyone any more attention than the truth does!
Sorry, imaginary arguer. You're wrong. An example as evidence:
Harold Camping
Harold Camping recently declared that Christians would be raptured on May 21st of this year. I'm still here. So is Camping. If he had just told the truth as the Bible explains, he could have simply said, "Repent because no one knows when Jesus will come back." Instead, he said, "THE WORLD WILL END RIGHT NOW!"
Which one of these two statements can garner more attention? Millions of religious leaders (or dare I say, all legitimate Christian Ministers) say the former. Only Camping said the latter. Have you heard any other preacher's name in the news lately? Has any other preacher single-handedly raised $18.3 million dollars in the last year?
Hyperbole is one of the greatest ways to achieve mass amounts of undeserved attention. This is where I turn my attention back to Pitchfork.
In 2004, Pitchfork reviewer, Chris Dahlen, awarded Travis Morrison's debut album, Travistan, a zero out of ten. That's a pretty low score. Actually that's the worst score you can get, even on the Kelvin scale. Travis Morrison is the frontman for The Dismemberment Plan, a much heralded rock band whose album, Emergency & I, Pitchfork gave a ten to (when the album was re-released, though they did say it was the sixteenth best album of the 90's). Giving Emergency & I a high rating doesn't exactly draw attention. Who isn't going to give that album a glowing review?
But say the Dismemberment Plan goes on an indefinite hiatus. Say the frontman decides to strike out on his own. Say he sticks his neck out by doing something a little different, something he knows will inevitably be negatively compared to the standout work he has been a part of before. Say this solo-album, while having its moments, does indeed fall short of the work the artist was a part of with his full band--something that has happened with almost every single solo-album ever released (and that is not hyperbole, it's a fact). The fair thing to do would be to give this album a five or six, write about its flaws and strengths and move on. Heck even a three or a four. This may not draw much attention, but it would be honest.
Pitchfork's writer did not do this. He gave the album a zero. That means that nothing could be worse than listening to Travistan, and that is just ridiculous.
Because of the clout Pitchfork suddenly wielded, the album flopped. Don't believe me? EVEN WIKIPEDIA SAYS SO. Don't want to just blindly take Wikipedia's word for it? Well, it's cited (and that guy says most of the stuff I want to say better than I'm saying it). Morrison's career took a hit, and it's not hyperbolic to say that listeners have probably missed out on a lot of music Morrison could have made had this Pitchfork ridiculousness not happened. Heck, look at what his website says now! Thanks a lot, Pitchfork! You helped wound a great musician's career, but I'm glad you got those extra 50,000 hits!
This highlights what I hate about hipsters. When I say "hipster," I mean a very specific thing: I mean someone who cares not about the actual intrinsic value or meaning of anything, but only the quick, meaningless aesthetic "cool" they can take from something before they quickly move on to the next. That is a hipster. If you actually care about things in a non-ironic way for actual reasons that you can thoughtfully articulate from the heart, you are not a hipster. Rambling abstractions do not count. That is all most hipsters are capable of.
The damning hipster characteristic is that they can't make their minds up for themselves. While discerning readers might check out the Pitchfork review for Travistan, realize the reviewer never actually talks about the music found on the album, and decide to check out the album to form their own opinions, the hipster reads the score, skims the first paragraph, and decides not to buy it.
Thanks a lot, hipsters! And again, thanks a lot, Pitchfork. Your consistency at making the world suck is astonishing! I give it a ten out of ten.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Explosions in the Sky -- Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

Please excuse the more personal tone of this review, but due to the nature of the music found within, I don't know how else to write this.
After two or three listens, I was willing to dismiss Explosions in the Sky's new album, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, just as I did Radiohead's King of Limbs. This Texas-based instrumental band seemed to have forgetten they were supposed to be making an album, and on top of everything they had even tossed in too many commas. The whole thing sounded too quiet. I even listened to Take Care in the dark with my headphones on to get the best possible effect. Still, I was bored, and I didn't really hear anything I hadn't noticed before. The minute or so of silence in the second track, "Human Qualities," was still silence, and the gentle guitar that comes out of it still didn't get my blood pumping. I went to bed upset that yet another band I had enjoyed over the years had lost their edge.
That morning I woke up with a melody stuck in my head. I realized it was the guitar riff that occurs about three minutes into the fourth track, "Be Comfortable, Creature." I popped the track on and listened to it only to find myself humming another riff from another track as well. The album had gotten into my head like that stupid Rebecca Black song that's gotten 142 million views on Youtube, but instead of wanting to stick my head in a jet engine to end it all while hearing something else, I wanted to live...and listen to Take Care, Take Care, Take Care again.
The genius of this album is that it creates a world for the listener to live in, much as the album artwork can be folded into a house (if you actually buy the physical release and don't steal or digitally download). Instead of six 8-minute tracks with five minutes of build up and three minutes of release, this album just flows. It gets loud sometimes. It gets quiet sometimes. But instead of just relying on loud/soft dynamics as EITS have in the past, and as many of their peers still do, they have created an instrumental album that breaks the mold and just enjoyably exists. Third track, "Trembling Hands," has no build up and is all release. Some tracks have no release at all. The loudest moment employed by ten-minute closer, "Let Me Back In," whose title betrays the literary nature of this music, comes and goes when the song is only half over. You don't want want to turn the track off when the loud parts finishes, though. After several listens, it becomes apparent that every second of every track is vital. This makes for an album one can move past just admiring (as I feel about several of this band's previous releases) to the point of actually loving. The only requirement is to drop the expectation that this will or should be yet another exercise in quiet/loud/quiet/loud dynamics. Take Care does its own thing, and in the long run fans of this band are only better off because of it.
On a final note, there are also some samples, loops, voice experimentation, and obscure instruments that EITS have never dappled with before. Nice to see they are willing to widen the amount of colors they use on their canvas, even if they only use them in subtle ways.

LAZY COMPARISON: Like six really long, awesome bridges from six different Appleseed Cast songs. Actually, I think these two bands are morphing into one another, and to be honest, I don't have a problem with that.

2011 Temporary Residence Limited Records
1. Last Known Surroundings 8:21
2. Human Qualities 8:09
3. Trembling Hands 3:30
4. Be Comfortable, Creature 8:47
5. Postcard From 1952 7:06
6. Let Me Back In 10:07

Friday, May 13, 2011

Philly Me Up is Better than South of Philly and Your Reason for Saying Otherwise is Baseless and Ridiculous, Jay D. Ducote, Writer for Bite and Booze!

Well, things really aren't working out that well artistically for me, so you know what that means:
It's time to diss every single thing and statement I disagree with in order to re-affirm my feelings of superiority, which will, as usual, most likely backfire.
This first target is otherwise respectable online food review publication,, and this review posted by website founder, Jay D. Ducote, which insists that South of Philly on Sherwood Forest Boulevard has a better Philly Cheesesteak sandwich than the far superior Philly Me Up on Jefferson Highway. That's right, Ducote, I'm coming for you AND your corporate mega-empire!!!
According to his review, Ducote visited both restaurants and tried the sandwich at both.
Well so did I, Jay!
According to you, the employee's at South of Philly, "... may have forgotten how to season beef. The steak itself lacked the customary salt and spices, and provided a slightly bland sandwich." Well, I have tried two Philly Cheesesteaks at this restaraunt and COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU. The sandwich was completely tasteless, even when I ordered the supposedly spicy "Tiger Steak," which cost me a whopping $11 and tasted like wet cardboard.
You then go on to describe the Philly Me Up sandwich with the damning phrase, "the beef at Philly Me Up tasted very nice. Each bite featured well-seasoned and tender, thinly sliced steak, and there were plenty of onions to add flavor." I agree. Both sandwiches I purchased there not only did not cost me $11, but also tasted like the chef actually wanted the customer to enjoy eating them. And I did! They were delicious!
So why do you go on to say that South of Philly is better? Because the person behind the counter at Philly Me Up didn't know what Cheez Whiz is. That's pretty much it.
I demand that you print a retraction, sir!
Here is why your argument makes no sense:
Say I run into two strangers on the street. I say to each, "shake my hand."
The first says, "What's a hand?" yet at the same time reaches out and gives me a nice firm shake.
The second points at my hand, says, "That is your hand," then punches me as hard as they can in the nuts.
Which one gave a better handshake?
Good day, sir.

South of Philly is located at 4353 S Sherwood Forest Blvd and will overcharge you for a tasteless hunk of barely digestable nothingness.

Philly Me Up is located at 8775 Jefferson Highway and will charge you a very fair price for a flavor-filled sandwich from an innovative menu (there is a sandwich with salsa on it that is particularly awesome!), and also they have these cheese-and jalapeno-filled french fry things that you should get when you win the lottery. Here is their menu.

Tigerbait Grill at 14546 S Harrell's Ferry Road actually has the best Philly Cheesesteak sandwich in the entire world, even counting Philadelphia, even though I've never actually been to Philadelphia and I hear it is really cold there, but they call it a Grilled Steak Philly at Tiger Bait, and if you ask them if they have Cheez Whiz they will probably just look at you like you are stupid, so just order the Grilled Steak Philly with everything and get some Cajun Curly Q's and some Iced Tea and think that there are people up in Pennsylvania who have to put salt on their driveways and eat "blandwiches" while you get to eat a sandwich with so much flavor, that dude from Flavor of Love actually ate it and changed his name to "No-Taste McGee" because he was ashamed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Truth?


Saturday, May 07, 2011

The Best Song I've Heard This Year

True Widow - "Boaz"
Well that ain't exactly objective is it?
Maybe I should say, "my favorite song I've heard so far this year." That doesn't sound definitive enough, though. I need to hurry up and pump out a review of this album.
I've miraculously kept my blogging promises this year (probably the only year I've actually done that), so I guess it will really happen. Maybe a review of the new Explosions in the Sky when I can finally make up my mind about it. What the heck is that thing?