Thursday, April 29, 2010

Beyond Riveting

Due to a recommendation made by Janet Reid on her blog, I picked up Dave Cullen's newly-released-in-paperback Columbine. I have to say that I cannot remember the last time I was so affected by a book. Or a movie. Or anything really.

I remember the Columbine tragedy, of course. I remember the news coverage and the horrible realization that two teen boys could perpetrate such an unspeakable act. I vaguely remember the reports of a girl who was killed because, when asked by one of the killers if she believed in God, she said yes. I remember the theories that these two boys were victims of extreme bullying, that they'd been pushed around so much that they'd finally snapped. I can remember wondering at the time what kind of parents could raise such monsters.

Come to find out, many initially believed "facts" about Columbine were in actuality falsehoods that were picked up by the media during those first few chaotic days and then cemented in the public consciousness for a variety of reasons.

For me personally, I was physically far enough away from Columbine that after those first few days of 24/7 media saturation, the event slipped into a dark corner of my mind where I file those sorts of atrocities. I never thought to ask any questions about what I'd been told. And truthfully, finding out that the facts were different than what was initially reported wouldn't have made much of a difference to me. Beyond my compassion for the victims and their families, my interest in Columbine at the time was something between rubber-necking and sadness at yet another bit of proof that mankind can sink to some pretty horrible depths.

But stumbling upon this book recommendation, my curiosity was piqued. I toddled on over to Borders and picked up a copy. And then I didn't put it down for two straight days. It was that riveting.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Nickelback Is Eeevil

I don't get it. Why does everyone in the entire web-verse hate Nickelback and, by extension, any group that sounds similar to Nickelback? You simply cannot escape the vitriol that is aimed at this band, sometimes with such heated disdain that you feel the need to move a few feet back from your monitor.

And this sentiment isn't limited to individuals who are simply expressing their taste in music. I read it all the time on professional entertainment sites. The supposed-professionals of musical taste make no secret how they feel about Nickelback and its contemporaries.

It seems that the worst possible thing you can ever say about a group and/or singer is that they sound like Nickelback.

People who listen to Nickelback are unrefined, backwood rubes who wouldn't know good music if it magically grew beneath their noses like a handlebar mustache. Clearly these people are not only deaf and illiterate but stupid and ugly and prone to wear white after Labor Day.

Nickelback is single-handedly responsible for the sucky state of the economy, the Cubs having not won a World Series in over a hundred years, earthquakes in Haiti, and America's inexplicable continued fascination with John and Kate Gossling.

I simply don't get it.

I mean, I get not liking a particular group/singer because the sound they produce is nails-on-a-chalkboard in your opinion and you personally can't understand why they became such a big thing in the first place (Gnarls Barkley, Jason Mraz, Neil Young).

Or you find the lyrics of their songs to be only slightly less coy and ridiculous than those you might find in a 1st grade class's Book of Our Poems (Closing Time by Semisonic, anyone?)

Or they are so overplayed you'd rather listen to religious radio than turn on the local Top 40 station (Black Eyed Peas, Taylor Swift).

Or they annoy you by trying too hard to be A Unique Artist (Lady Gaga, Ke$ha).

Or that they actually scare you and cause nightmares (Marilyn Manson).

Or maybe it's just a style of music that you don't like (rap/hiphop, country, insert obscure musical genre here).

Or maybe you refuse to buy anything produced by a Disney animatron or YouTube superstar (Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, any cast member from High School Musical).

Or the artist has proven him/herself to be an incredible douche and you refuse to support him/her financially regardless if their music is otherwise decent (Kanye, John Mayer).

But in this case, it seems like the reason so many hate Nickelback is simply because, according to the web and Very Smart Industry Insiders, it's very uncool to like Nickelback.

Or Lifehouse. Or Hinder. Or Creed. Or Live.

Seems a lot more uncool to tell people what they should or shouldn't like. 

Of course, I'm not a professional arbiter of what is musically good or bad, so what do I know?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Clash of the Motivations

Since I was so stoked that they'd decided to remake the 1981 B-movie classic, Clash of the Titans, of course I had to go see the final result on opening weekend. I'd really expected to like the new version better. Heck, the improvement in special effects alone should have been enough to send Titans '10 up the movie quality ladder by magnitudes over Titans '81. Not to mention better acting, better sets and costumes, a higher budget overall. The upgrade had tools at its disposal the makers of the original probably couldn't have dreamed of, and for that I'd figured Titans '10 would smear Titans '81 to dust.

Weirdly, turns out Titans '81 is actually the better movie. And it's all because of motivation. Who would have thunk that story could end up being way more important than flashy CGI, better acting, cooler sets and costumes and a much higher budget?

Below are major SPOILERS, so stand warned if you haven't seen either version and wish to do so spoiler-free.