Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Random Thoughts on Television Stuff

Recently it was announced that Beavis and Butthead would be returning to MTV.  Mike Judge has mentioned that one of the main reasons for this return was watching Jersey Shore. He stated that after becoming aware of the show it was like a “godsend”. He knew he had to bring back Beavis and Butthead for this. He would have them watch reality television instead of music videos (since music videos are essentially dead. At least on MTV they are.) On the surface this sounds like a great idea, but after having it roll around in my noggin for a while, I think he’s completely wrong. Beavis and Butthead was a big deal to me in my younger years. I enjoyed the hell out of that show. To me, it seemed that having Beavis and Butthead make fun of music videos was more because the videos had to be there. MTV didn’t show anything without having music videos in it. That’s why they were called Music Television. This started to change around the time that Beavis and Butthead was at its peak. The show didn’t simply watch bad videos. They watched any and all videos. Some they loved. Some they hated. Some they didn’t even talk about, instead going off on some non-sequitur or hitting each-other. The videos served a purpose of making fun of youths in general. Beavis and Butthead are supposed to be exaggerations on 1990s youths. I’m not so sure that relates to 2011.
Also, reality television is probably old-hat by now to make fun of, isn’t it? Especially making fun of Jersey Shore. Isn’t that the whole point of the show in the first place? I thought the show existed as a joke. No one watches it because they are seriously invested in it. They watch it to laugh at it. Do we really need Beavis and Butthead to show us how to laugh at it? Besides, isn’t that why Talk Soup, now called simply The Soup exists?  Beavis and Butthead are probably best left in the past.

On a separate note, I’ve been watching Fox’s Terra Nova. It’s a show about our possible future where we’ve destroyed our ecosystem, but luckily have found a way to go back in time. So, we follow a family back in time to the time when dinosaurs walked the earth. Humanity gets a new start. Luckily, to avoid any Butterfly Effect, we are told that this is an alternate timeline. This also opens the door for the show to make up their own dinosaurs. It’s apparent from the first episode that they are going to ignore most of science just to fit in made up monsters. They introduce us to a Brachiosaurus, a Carnotaurus, and a “slasher”. Wait, a what? Oh, you made it up… so stupid.  They live in a refugee camp of sorts, but it’s incredibly clean. It doesn’t look lived-in at all. Where’s the mud? Where is the dirt? Another complaint I have is the time-period. Is it 85 million years ago or is it 85 million b.c.? The show uses both interchangeably and I can’t help thinking that that can’t be right. The show had some promise, but quickly(second episode) became bad SyFy channel crap.  We have each episode being reminiscent of the 1990s Outer Limits mixed with ABC’s LOST. I will continue to watch it simply because it has dinosaurs, but I highly don’t recommend it. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Super-Power Psych 101

I’ve been thinking about the perennial question that gets asked all the time: What super-power would you like to have? I’ve answered nearly the same way since I was first asked. I want to fly, but probably not the way most people would think. I would like to have wings. I want big feathered wings. I would also take the power of super-human agility. Like Spider-Man, but without the sticking to walls part.
            I’ve heard many different answers to this question, but I usually hear three more than any others: Flying, Telekinesis/Telepathy, and Invisibility. Flying is used more often than not, but I think it’s dwindling as it becomes easier and cheaper to fly anywhere. Telekinesis, if you don’t know, is the ability to move objects with your mind. Telepathy is the ability to read people’s thoughts. These are normally presented together because they are mind powers. Comic books group them together, so people tend to group them together.  These powers can say a lot about the individual that chooses one.

            Flying can be seen as active. To propel oneself through the sky is quite a feat. Whether you choose Superman-style flight or Angel-wings, both are very physical. Superman always looks like he’s straining when trying to fly faster. So, the individual is either a physical person or wishes to be. After thinking about this for a while, I realize that there is another reason for the flight answer. It could simply mean that you are a dreamer. You have your head in the clouds. Literally as well as figuratively. I think nearly everyone has had a dream in which they are flying.

            Telekinesis/Telepathy is a bit harder to explain, so I’ll split it up. Telekinesis, to me, seems like laziness. You’d like the world to revolve around you as compared to flying around the world. You sit on the couch and think a soda out of the fridge and into your hand. Then again, if you think of telekinesis like you saw it in the Star Wars movies, then you might think of it as a little more active. The Jedi and Sith use it to hurl objects at each other or throw people around. In the film Carrie she uses the power to kill people, but this almost seems involuntary; A moment of passion. It’s provoked and almost not very deliberate. She could plead insanity. Still, the thought of sitting in one spot and making the world move around you just seems self-centered and lazy. We all are capable of this. I’d love to sit inside on a blistering hot day and mow the lawn with my brain.  

            Telepathy, kind of, falls into the same category as invisibility for me. It’s an invasion of privacy. People love the idea of hearing something they weren’t supposed to hear, seeing something they weren’t supposed to see, knowing something they weren’t supposed to know. People love secrets. Telepathy allows you to get at these secrets. You can find out all those awful things someone has done against you. If you can turn invisible, you can go anywhere and see things that you shouldn’t see. It would be nice to slip into the boss’ office during a meeting and overhear conversations about who is getting fired. Of course, these powers also slip into depravity. With Telepathy, you can find out the secret desires of someone. You can find out all the dirty secrets someone keeps. With Invisibility you can go into the opposite sex’s locker room. Be behind closed doors when a couple is being intimate. I don’t think I need to give many examples here, they are already too numerous in your mind at this moment. We are all capable of wanting this. It’s based in desire and sexuality. Maybe you wouldn’t have thought of that right away, but it’s a possibility.

            All of these powers represent something inside of us all. The ones that rise to the surface show some of the more dominant traits we have. I’m a bit of a dreamer and wish I were more active. I know this about myself. I’m also a bit lazy and depraved. So, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that I would want to be an invisible, mind-reading guy who likes to float around and make snacks float into my mouth. 

(p.s. On a side note, I hope to be more regular with my posts. I'm gonna shoot for twice a week. Just so you know how often to look forward to a new post.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

where have all the Giants gone?

     I think one of the hardest lessons learned while growing up is that your idols are flawed people. The geniuses of the world are just human. My father always talks about the 1940s, 50s and 60s as a time “when giants walked the earth.” He talks about baseball players, musicians, writers and actors that were exceptional. That no one will ever compare to those people. They were, essentially, gods to him. I marveled at the things they accomplished. I wondered about all of these lost giants whom we’ll never see equal to again. Yet, now I can’t help but notice that they were all regular old flawed people.
            A friend of mine grew up when Ozzy Osbourne was considered a scary person. He was a god of Heavy Metal music. He was dangerous. He was crazy. He was something really cool to a teenager. This was all shattered when my friend saw behind the veil years later. The Osbournes debuted on MTV and showed the world how mundane, goofball and seemingly feeble Ozzy had become. It made light of it in nearly every episode. Now, it’s difficult for my friend to listen to the same rock music of his youth and not think about Ozzy spending an hour feebly trying to use a remote to turn on his television. The Hero-Myth completely busted.

            Today the internet has made it very easy to debunk any Hero-mythology that might start. People relish in tearing down any person that might get hoisted onto a pedestal. In fact, sometimes it seems like they intentionally put people on pedestals just to tear them down I can’t help but get in on a lot of it myself.. Children, who are ruthless and mean, are in on it more often than not. When I say children, I mean everyone under the age of 18. Message boards, Comment threads, blog posts, Facebook status’, Twitter feeds are all rife with kids potty-mouthing people. They are picking apart everything anyone does. No one is safe from crimination.

            Lately, I’ve thought about it more and more. I liked having idols and heroes while growing up. I liked the thought that there were once “giants” who walked this earth. I like to believe that “giants” may again walk this earth someday. I understand that these pedestals that we place them on are bound to be toppled over at some point in our lives, but can we try and keep it from happening to children at such a young age? 

Monday, October 10, 2011

2nd verse different from the first

I wrote this a while ago and didn't know what to do with it until now.

I like Lady GaGa. I genuinely enjoy listening to her music and watching her music videos. I’m a near thirty-year-old man who owns a few GaGa t-shirts as well. I’m not afraid to admit it. However, since the album Born this Way was released and I’ve been reading the reviews I’ve been considering what Lady GaGa means to music. Is she merely a media spectacle? Is she just a talentless attention whore? Is she the second coming? Is she just a Madonna clone? Is she really a genius? What is Lady GaGa?

I, at first, was repulsed by Lady GaGa and her poker face. The teenage metalhead in me instinctively reviled the pop music she was spewing. The hipster in me hated how much everyone loved it. It’s something I’ve been doing for many years. I can remember a number of bands that I “discovered” and later totally abandoned once everyone else knew who the hell they were. I hated all the popular music. I hated it because it was popular. I’ve since calmed down and learned to accept what I responded to by its actual content rather than its popularity. I started listening to all kinds of music. Some of my friends didn’t understand. Some still don’t. My point here is that I, like a lot of people, can be very closed minded. I think it’s easy to dismiss Lady GaGa as some media whore without much talent. I think it’s easy for people to say that she just wants to be Madonna. This reminds me of a time in the 90s when Marilyn Manson started becoming popular. People at first thought that his…shtick, for lack of a better word, was an Alice Cooper rip-off. He was essentially a more bombastic version of Cooper; a 90s version, for those that might understand what that means. By the end of the 90s he had shown that he was a little bit more than that, or at the very least, something else entirely. He used MTV to the fullest extent to get his face and music out there. The controversy that surrounded him only fueled the fame he received. Marilyn Manson became, what can only be called, a Rock Star. He was perhaps the last one we will have, but that’s a different discussion. Lady GaGa has essentially done the same thing. Love it or hate it. Now, in 2011, MTV is essentially meaningless. GaGa has used the internet and mobile phone applications to get her face out there to the masses since her initial breaking onto the scene.

The other point I’d like to make about Lady GaGa is that I don’t really see her as a musician. She’s more like an Artist. I was going to say that she is a Performance Artist, but I don’t think that’s so much the truth as she IS the artwork. She uses herself as a canvas for numerous works of art. Her music is only one part of that artwork. The songs, taken alone, are catchy pop/disco tunes, but not much more than that. To take the music without the full package that is Lady GaGa and her stage show is missing the point.  She is silly. She is awkward. She can be beautiful, but most times chooses to the strange over the pretty. I commend her for this. It challenges people. A lot of people will rail against it. A lot of people will love it. Some people won’t know what to think about it, but it will make them uncomfortable. This is what any artist can truly hope for. I like Lady GaGa. She has come very close to achieving something I have always wanted to achieve. She has found a way to meld her artwork (or someone else’s) with music to present a complete work of art to which people really respond.

Friday, October 7, 2011

First Rant about comics

Hello and welcome to my blog. I’ve been told numerous times by friends that I needed to start one of these, so now I’m finally doing it. I want to say, up front, that I don’t always have perfect grammar and I know my wife will loathe me posting anything that isn’t perfect, but it’s going to happen. I’m going to screw up.  Expect run-on sentences, comma-splices, poorly worded sentences, and all of it written in a conversational style. I hope this won’t detract from what I’m saying or drive anyone away. So, without further ado…

Lately I’ve been reading a number of back-issues of Marvel Comics Presents. I noticed a lot of talented creators getting their start in those pages as well as some established creators doing some nice work. People like Joe Madureira, Jae Lee, Sam Keith, Peter David, Tim Truman, etc… I started thinking about how there isn’t a good anthology book on the newsstand today. Scratch that…Dark Horse has revived Dark Horse Presents which is attracting a lot of great talent. However, it stands alone and I have no idea how well it’s doing in terms of sales. I picked up a recent issue because it had a Ricardo Delgado story; A new Age of Reptiles tale. It was great.
            I started thinking about the state of comics today. They don’t sell as well as they used to, but they also seem to be more in the public consciousness. We’ve seen a number of comic book based movies do very well at the box-office lately. So, how is Marvel welcoming new readers that might want to check out an Avengers comic once they see the upcoming movie? They can go to their local comic shop and find…Avengers, New Avengers, Secret Avengers, Avengers Academy…wait…what the hell? How the hell is that a good thing for a new reader to find? X-men comics are known for having many different titles since the late 1980s. X-Men: First Class fans can go to their local comic shop and soon find 8 different X-titles to choose from. Not to mention one-shots or mini-series that may be out there.
            What if they could have one book called Avengers and one book called X-Men? They could have a back-up feature that would showcase stories of the other teams. Make the issues have a higher page count. Hell, make it a double sized book containing two complete issues. My other idea is that you could have an anthology book outside of the main title. You could have an Avengers ‘family’ anthology. It could contain stories of the Secret Avengers, the Avengers Academy, and the New Avengers. Deadlines could easily be met by the authors and the artists because they are only doing eight pages or so every month! You could do a special issue every now and then that might focus more on one of the particular titles. Do the same thing with the X-family of books. Fans of the movies can go to the store and find the Avengers comic or the X-Men comic and not feel daunted by the thought of 8 different titles from which to choose.
            It just seems strange, to me, that with comic books selling less and less that the big companies are putting out more and more titles. Where is the promotion? Where are the commercials on Saturday mornings? Where are the banners and ads on the internet? The only places I see comic books promoted are on comic book websites. Do you know where I see promotions for pills, anti-aging creams, cat litter, mops and brooms, etc…? They are EVERYWHERE online. I see them when I look at the weather, video game news, world news or just silly videos. I see ads for all the things previously listed and more. Where are the comic book ads? Comic books try and sell more books by bagging them or having variant covers, but the only people who are buying those gimmicks are the people buying comics in the first place and that pool is quickly drying.
            I bought my first comic book at the E-Z Mart gas station by my house. It was the last chapter in a story arc. I loved it. I bought more. I was a little confused by things, but I made my way through it and bought more. I still buy comics today because of that issue. I wish companies would put comics back in front of children. Distribute them to places people go; the grocery store and the convenience store. I also wish comic book companies would quit rebooting things and putting out new number one issues to try and get new readers. It didn’t matter to me that my first issue wasn’t a number one. Trust your creators to be able to make an interesting story that will entice readers whether it’s the first chapter or the last chapter of a story. If people know about it, they will buy it. If it’s good, people will continue to buy it.