Friday, July 27, 2012

The broad monster clouds the novice.

More rando. You know you were hungry for it.

There is no Muppet Movie soundtrack anymore. Sad trombone. Or at least, it's out of print, so you can find vinyl. I'm not dissing on vinyl. The point is: who, besides the committed audiophiles and accomplished DJs of our time, has a turntable?
This album was absolutely formative to me. I'd listen to it for hours on end, though I turned my nose up at the instrumental version of "Never Before, Never Again" (and for that matter, the sung version warn't all that much better). But I'd listen to "Movin' Right Along" over and over again, even though there was a crack in the record. It would skip about 6 seconds in, and the entire song was over in about 30 seconds. Always made me laugh uncontrollably. And then there was the heartbreaking "I'm Going To Go Back There Someday." This one deserves a retroactive Grammy or Oscar for Best Song of 1979. (It just barely beats out "Rainbow Connection.") This, coupled with learning how to ski at Buttermilk all those years ago, made for some of my best childhood memories.
Whatever can we do to persuade the powers that be that the world is not complete without this soundtrack?

StormdTheCastle. I thought I was concerned about my appearance? Nothing even close. This one is mildly amusing, to be sure...a guy who's extremely into himself, his workouts, and how he looks. I mean, who would document a 63/100 inch gain in calf circumference? How would you even do that? He does admit he has body dysmorphic disorder, so he's conscious of it. And speaking of BDD...

Noodles and Beef. All kinds of adorable, amirite? His happy happy joy joy appearance and attitude does grate, but at least for awhile, you can't help but be amused. Besides...muscles. And a great smile. Yeah, I'm shallow. I own it. (As for the BDD, he admits to it, too. I'm not projecting.)

The Power of No. I have had multiple sources tell me over the past few years that I am profoundly negative. And part of me protests: "I'm really not that negative! I just have a certain view of how my life should be, and I do not want extraneous bullshit to affect that view!" If you have a small "yes" inside of you, you sometimes need to protect it with a wall of no's. (God, that sounds nauseatingly "self-help lite.")
I thought this little phrase would be a good title for a book. Until I saw that there are at least three other books with that same title. The one subtitled "How to Keep Blowhards and Bozos at Bay" seems amusing; I may have to pick it up.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Music to mindlessly destroy yourself by.

Or: Perfect songs for lifting up heavy things and putting them back down again repeatedly, grunting all the while.

Far Behind - Social Distortion: Mike Ness has one of the most perfect punk voices ever. Raw, muscular, sounding like a buzzsaw welded with testosterone and cuts through you and doesn't give a shit. This brilliant fuck-off from SD's greatest hits plays nearly like a pop song, so conventional is its construction. But that's not a bad thing. Sonically, it's an awesome force of nature, jumping out of the speakers to grab you and smash you to the ground.

New Day Rising - Hüsker Dü: I defy you not to feel pummeled by this song...and that's just during the first five seconds of martial drums at warp speed, before the metallic guitars roar over you like a sonic wave. Punk as punk gets. Lyrics? We don't need no goddamn lyrics! Just howl the title over and over again. Primal.

Meantime - Helmet: Yeah, the whole album. I bow to the great Michael Azerrad, who encapsulated it thusly: "A marvel of precisely channeled aggression, Meantime could be the soundtrack to the mind of an NFL linebacker." Damn straight. Also, back in the day of grunge, depression, and Seattle, these guys provided a kick-ass retort to kids considering casting off this mortal coil: "Die young is far too boring these days."

Long Snake Moan/Meet Ze Monsta - PJ Harvey: These behemoths off of To Bring You My Love (WAAY recommended, by the way) will pulverize you. PJ simply gives a knowing "mm-hmm" at the beginning of Long Snake Moan just before a wall of guitar smashes you and doesn't let up until the bitter end. The banshee wails don't hurt, either. Then on Meet Ze Monsta, a mechanical goose-stomp provides the force behind some of the most muscular, forced singing you'll ever hear. You gotta hear these.

Master of Puppets - Metallica: Obvious, true. But there's a reason it's obvious: it fucking rocks. Can't believe I lived over 30 years of my life before hearing this one.

Thieves - Ministry: God bless Wax Trax for bringing us this immortal piece of derangement. Here, Ministry nursed its last vestiges of industrial before it fell fully into the sludge of metal below. Distorted yelling, exhortations to "kill, kill, kill," and a rhythm section that, at its best, provided the beat to deranged goose-stepping Nazi soldiers on speed.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Social Network

Mark Zuckerberg must hate The Social Network. He's portrayed as a virtual walking pathology: the monomaniacal, reclusive computernik with an almost autistic and ADD-like view of the world around him. Even Temple Grandin - no stranger to the autism spectrum herself - states that if the movie is indeed accurate, Zuckerberg may well have Asperger's syndrome. (I myself am more skeptical about this judgment.)

Zuckerberg is an asshole. By second 31 of the movie, that point's driven home with the force of a sledgehammer. You want to throttle this guy who is giving his near-ex verbal whiplash; he speaks at an auctioneer's pace and switches topics mid-sentence multiple times while studiously avoiding eye contact. Worse, all he cares about is getting into a Harvard final club and using said near-ex as a means to an end. But when he insults her lesser (Boston University) education, that's the last straw. She calls him an asshole and stomps off. Cue Zuckerberg's descent into a bloghole, wherein he tears her apart online. (And, of course, writes the code for the predecessor of Facebook, posts the website, and enjoys the fallout as thousands of students vote for which girl is hotter than the next, crashing Harvard's servers hours later.)

And throught the rest of the movie, Zuckerberg (or more accurately, Jesse Eisenberg) does little to change this view. His disregard for others around him other than as a financial or technological means to creating Facebook is relentless; his push toward success unbothered by the personal details around him. And when he goes through hours of depositions, his contempt for the opposing lawyers is witheringly heartless. Only toward the end of the movie does he begin to show a heart; his CFO and best friend is, courtesy of Napster creator Sean Parker (and unknown to Zuckerberg), suddenly reduced to virtually having no financial interest in Facebook, and when Zuckerberg finds out, he looks stunned. And, of course, he still has a soft spot in his heart for the girl who crushed him at the beginning of the movie, approaching her months later in hopes of making amends. (She flatly rejects him, of course.)

So why's the movie so amazing? I see it as a fascinating profile of the man and the circumstances surrounding the rise of perhaps the most pervasive cultural force today. The guy has vision...relentless vision. He follows it, picks up opportunities on a moment's notice, does what he has to to support his vision, and assiduously protects and supports the people who work assiduously for him. (If they're busy, he says they're "wired in," with the implication that they are not to be disturbed by anything.) Facebook is his baby (regardless of what the Winklevi twins say), and he will defend it to the death. Is Zuckerberg an asshole? Ennh...I'm not so sure that's up to me to say. I do find it interesting, though, that he is portrayed as such nearly the entire movie, yet once it's wrapped up, I find him more admirable than not. Maybe the anti-social intellectual side of me resonates with him...someone who was so true to himself that regardless of whether he ended up hurting people, he saw his vision come to fruition.