Friday, April 24, 2009

Is Music REALLY Your Life?

I'm sure you've seen them. The "Music is Life" shirts, hoodies, bags,and other paraphernalia that seem to be sweeping the youth like a California wildfire. Kids talk about music. They listen to it. They watch it. They appear to be truly dedicated to the cause of music, doing everything they can to support their favorite musicians and artists.

If you are one of the people who wears this apparel or makes these claims, what you need to ask yourself is this: Am I truly dedicated to music as much as I think and say I am?

Let's administer a test. I'll ask you a series of music-based questions. Tally up the amount of "yes"'s and "no"'s you gave. I don't need to know how you answered. Only you do.

Do you spend (literally) hours a day listening to music? Can you name off your top 10 favorite albums of all time in under a minute? Do you search for new artists on a daily basis? Do you go to record stores? Do you buy albums? Do you go to shows? Do you know what a show is? Do you know what "getting signed" means? Do you hate any bands? Do you know what kbps stands for? Do you know what vinyl is? Do you know what an EP is? A split? A 7 inch? A demo? A full-length? Do you actively play a musical instrument? So you support artists through purchase of merch? Has a band or song or album ever changed your life? Has it really? Do you avoid listening to the radio? Do you have a record player? Do you read zines? Do you know what a zine is? And most importantly: Does music make you feel like nothing else in the world, like there is no word or phrase or movement that could ever describe the euphoria you get from listening to your favorite song?

Because if you answered "no" to most of these questions, chances are that music is not your life. Chances are that music is just another minor form of entertainment to you. No more important than TV, or movies, or sports. You aren't dedicated to music. You just think you are.

So do yourself a favor and get rid of that T-shirt you got from Hot Topic. It makes the people who actually are dedicated to music look bad.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Four Reasons that Family Guy Sucks

4. We get it, Seth. You're a liberal.

Seth MacFarlane(creator of the show) seems to feel that he is the sole purveyor of wisdom on the entirety of television. He thinks he needs to show the world how stupid conservatives are via predictable plots involving conroversial subjects(immigration, abortion, vegetarianism, etc.). But the fact is that conservatives don't watch the show. They don't even care about it. The only thing that comes from Seth MacFarlane's attempts to show the world his intellect is another boring, predictable storyline that ends with Brian or Lois stating a view that they present as a fact. And, from this, his liberal 13-20something-year-old fanbase gets a smug sense of superiority and thoughts like, "Boy, I bet those conservatives are soooo pissed right now!"

Note: I am a liberal. I agree with almost every stance Seth takes on such issues. I just don't want to see 20 minutes of Republican-bashing presented as funny.

3."Uh oh, this joke isn't funny." "Well, then, let's make it 3 minutes long."

Never before have I seen a show that does this so frequently. Instead of actually coming up with something funny, Family Guy drags something out for minutes on end and hopes to get a nervous laugh. I'm sure that anyone who is familiar with the show will know what the "Chicken Fight" joke is. An event is interrupted by Peter fighting a giant chicken for a reason that I'm sure most people can't even remember. They fight. And fight. And continue fighting. It eventually ends with the chicken appearing to be dead, although at the last second, he opens his eye, ensuring that the already god-awful writers can use him again if they need to fill up more time and they don't feel like being creative.

Of course, this is only one joke. There are numerous running gags throughout the show that abuse this idea, and yet people still seem to find it funny. Why? I cannot understand.

2. A Complete List of Every Family Guy Joke Ever

Family Guy's writers are so uncreative and unimaginative that I can list every type of joke it has ever used without breaking a sweat.

1. Angry monkey
2. Family hates Meg
3. Musical (These aren't even jokes. They're just songs.)
4. 1980's pop culture/sitcom/movie joke
5. Sexual innuendo, courtesy of Peter
6. Neighbor joke (Joe = disabled, Cleveland = black, Quagmire = nymphomaniac)
7. Modern pop culture/sitcom/movie joke
8. Non-sequitor joke
9. Callback to an older episode
10. Stewie wants to fuck Brian
11. Failed attempt to be edgy
12. Someone falls down really quickly

Every episode of Family Guy uses a mixture of these premises to produce one tired, recycled joke after another.

1. "Like the time I..."

Yes, I realize that South Park made this point very clear three years ago, but the point has only become stronger since then.

I'm sure you've all noticed it. Every 30 seconds, Family Guy makes one of those completely random jokes that have nothing to do with he current situation. They'll reference an 80's sitcom, make fun of a celebrity, or have a character's flashback. These jokes have no bearing on the current storyline, nor do they derive anything from it. Most of the time, they don't even have a point or a punch line. These jokes are tired and interchangeable, and Family Guy makes them so often that it makes watching the show less of an enjoyable experience and more of a chore.

Well, there you go. There are dozens of other reasons that Family Guy sucks, but these are the ones that I feel most strongly about.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Musical Eclecticity


For many years, this was my answer to the ever-asked question, "What kind of music do you like?" I listened to metal and not much else. Meshuggah, Behemoth, Slayer, At the Gates, and everything similar were my bands and that was fine by me. Everything that I needed, I got from metal.

But over time, I began to question my unwavering faith in metal. What else was out there? Was metal really the end-all be-all form of music for me? Could I enjoy other forms of music? Looking back, I see how ridiculous these questions were. Of course there were other things to enjoy. It would be silly to think anything otherwise. But at the time it was a serious issue, one to which I had not the answer.

I experimented with listening to punk and hardcore. Remembering Never, Dead Kennedys, and things like that were what I first got into. You know, bands that were still good even though they were pretty well known. Then I took music recommendations from a friend of mine named Dant. He showed me numerous bands that eventually came to be some of my favorites, like Foxy Shazam, Test Icicles, and Band of Horses. And, funny though it may seem, Rock Band actually got me into a lot of classic rock. I downloaded The Who's greatest hits and found them to be quite amazing. That's when I started listing to things like The Police and Michael Jackson.

As of now, my answer to the musical tastes question is a resounding, "I don't know. A lot of random stuff." I have no specific genre that I say right off the bat, and I like it that way.

See, I think that more people need to broaden their musical horizons. Most people I know are like me. They listen to a lot of things and don't really have one genre that they prefer. But I also have many friends that like one genre and one genre alone. That's all they listen to, that's all they've ever listened to, and chances are good that that's the only thing they're ever going to listen to. And that's sad to me, because I know that they'll never even give other music a chance. They'll never know the endlessly amazing musicians out there that make truly good music and don't really tie themselves to a specific genre.

I guess the point of this whole post is to try and show that great music exists outside your immediate field of vision. You should give other music a chance. You might just find that it's better than you thought.