stranger things 2 sucks, and snipers are glorified murderers

jenn and i just finished watching stranger things 2. i think it mostly sucked. of course there were elements i liked, like the many nods to classic fantasy/sci fi/horror tropes and how they continue to nail so many small details about the 80s, but overall i think this season was really muddled and half-baked. there were so many subplots and relationships between characters that were introduced and then never explored or resolved. there were also a bunch of new characters and none of them were given any development. it was just like, “time for a new bully. steve is out, billy is in. that is all.”

i’ve got so many specific complaints, mostly about undeveloped or unresolved things, that i’m gonna list ’em.

  • eleven’s jealousy of/dislike for max — came up several times, nothing happened with it.
  • mike’s dislike for max — came up several times, nothing happened with it.
  • sexual tension between billy and mrs. wheeler in the last episode — came up once, a lot of time was spent on it, it was fun but it didn’t go anywhere.
  • billy’s abusive father — came up once, sort of explained billy’s bad attitude, seemed like it was going somewhere, but didn’t.
  • nancy and steve — are they broken up or not? never explained.
  • nancy and jonathan — are they together or not? never explained.
  • how did steve turn from the school’s biggest, toughest badass to a wimp overnight, getting picked on by the new tough guy and getting his sensitive heart broken by his girlfriend? that’s ridiculous.
  • kali and the chicago punks — what the hell was the point of that? a whole episode just to show how eleven learned to focus her anger to intensify her power? then we never see kali or her lame gang again — utterly pointless.
  • while i’m on episode 7: eleven showing compassion for her enemies when she almost kills that retired lab guy, then doesn’t — that seemingly important element never comes up again.
  • another episode 7 complaint: the retired lab guy says dr brenner is still alive but nothing ever becomes of this incredible news. i’m assuming this seed is being planted for a major plot line in a subsequent season of the show but i think if that is the case, there should really be some other hints or evidence of it peppered throughout this season the show.
  • billy’s vaguely racist feelings on lucas — seemed like it was going somewhere but didn’t.
  • when the “demodogs” are loose in the lab facility, why do they kill everywhere but dr owen? he’s only got a few minor flesh wounds. how absurdly convenient.

now, i like art to have a healthy amount of ambiguity. i don’t like things spelled out, i want to use my brain, be left with some questions, fill in the blanks. but there is a clear line between being artfully ambiguous and being inept and lazy, and this season of the stranger things was definitely the latter.

really, the thing i liked the most about stranger things 2 was the fact that our new kittens liked to cuddle with me on the couch when jenn and i watched it, and the show provided a vehicle for that. i definitely didn’t hate the new season but i don’t think i’d recommend it to anyone at this point.

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very disappointed with the show but jeez, this is a great pic. what a bunch of good looking kids, on top of the world and enjoying it. you have to be happy for them. will looks so much better without that fucking bowl cut.

new topic: it occurred to me today that military personnel are trained and given the implements to kill people — despite the fact that murder is illegal in most countries, and the death penalty is becoming increasingly rare. that strikes me as really odd. especially trained military snipers, they specialize in being ruthlessly efficient killers, but if they did the same thing outside of their military jurisdiction they would be persecuted, jailed, and possibly even killed themselves. it’s an incredible double standard. who gets to say when it’s ok to kill someone, and when it’s not, when killing is absolutely illegal for 99.9% of us?

i’d like to see the names and faces of military officials who authorize the use of deadly force, and the names of faces of people who carry that stuff out. i want to look in their eyes and see if i can discern any hint of a god complex or some similar psychopathic disconnect from the world that most of us live in. i wonder if sanctioning murder or being a sanctioned murderer weighs on the psyches of those folks the same way it might on the mind of a common criminal, despite having some sort of social license. do they wrestle with it? do they feel guilt? do they feel justified? do they view their ‘targets’ (what a cold term for a fellow person) as nothing more than that? do they have to turn off any sense of empathy in order to do their job?

i need to meet a sniper and have a chat with them. i have a lot of questions.

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i bet he has some problems at home.

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the curse of having a hit song

when chris cornell died a few weeks ago, i watched some live soundgarden performances and was surprised to see how bland their setlist was. soundgarden was always one of those bands that i felt did their own thing and didn’t have many casual fans, so i imagined them being like the cure and playing all kinds of obscure deep cuts from their catalogue at live shows. but nope, there was all the expected big hits. i like soundgarden but have never liked spoonman, it’s so boring and straightforward (save for one syncopated drum section in the breakdown) compared to a lot of their other shit so i was disappointed to see it was still a staple of their live show. i can’t imagine playing that song at every show for about 20 years. that would suck.

then a few days ago, i was looking up some primus stuff. i was aware of primus back in the 90s but never followed them so watching wynona’s big brown beaver in the year 2017 was a pleasant surprise. i hadn’t heard the song since high school so i thought, “wow, what a hidden gem from that long lost era. i bet it’s rare anyone even thinks about this song anymore.” but then i looked up live performances of the tune, and guess what — primus is still active, and still trudge through that fucking song with absolutely zero passion at every show. but you can’t blame them. we’d all be sick of playing the same song hundreds of times per year for 20 years, but that’s what the majority of fans seem to get pumped to hear so you’d probably keep playing it too.

these two examples just reminded me of how shitty it must be to be a popular musician that had a hit song at one time in their career, because no matter how often you have had to roll your eyes and go through the motions of that tired old track, the audience will still want more of it. most of them don’t want to hear your new shit or some obscure old stuff that you think is actually really cool, and that sucks for the artist. the artist ends up being a fucking monkey on a leash, doing expected tricks for children who clap and cheer. it’s a sad fate.

no, better to quit while you’re ahead and avoid a ‘greatest hits’ setlist, or say “fuck you” to your fans and just do whatever you want and end up with a tiny fanbase, or toil in obscurity for your entire career so no one ever has any expectations of you. those are clearly the superior options to making boatloads of cash while being annoyed on stage for an hour or two every other night.

the advice of a pessimist.

i’m consistent

jenn and i watched david lynch’s blue velvet a few nights ago. i watched it way back when i was 19 or so, long before i became a fan of lynch’s work. back then, i wasn’t that into the film. i had heard lots about it and wanted to see what the buzz was about but i thought most of it was pretty boring and senseless.

since becoming familiar with lynch’s style and generally loving it, i’ve been meaning to re-watch blue velvet to see what i missed that first time. but the second time around, almost 20 years later, i still feel exactly the same about it. i thought a few parts were neat but it largely seemed unfocused and incohesive, like a whole bunch of relevant scenes were missing. and despite all the acclaim, i think dennis hopper is pretty lousy as frank. a few of his lines are delivered well but most just sound like he’s trying really hard to fit “fuck” into every sentence. plus the part where he dry humps dorothy is really stupid. i mean, he gets high and turbo horny and starts beating and molesting her…then dry humps her and acts like he just had an orgasm? are we supposed to assume he came in his pants, that he doesn’t actually need his dick stimulated to cum? i found that really annoying.

anyway, my point is that even after becoming a huge lynch fan and coming to appreciate more subtle, abstract, and artsy films, i still agree with my 19 yr old self: i still don’t like blue velvet. and that’s interesting. i like that i can still relate to my young self, that i still respect that person’s taste, that i can mostly rely on things i thought or felt even 20 years ago. i like me, even the much younger version that i’m sometimes dubious about.

of note is that i can only immediately recall two pieces of art that i have changed my mind on: the entombed album clandestine, and the sepultura album beneath the remains. these are both records i had when i was about 14 but neither of them did much for me. at ben’s request a few years ago, i revisited them and was amazed to find that they are both actually fucking wicked. i remember that i didn’t like fast drum beats back then because i found them confusing — i couldn’t find the down beat, the “1”, the odd numbered beats, however you want to describe it, so all the parts with those beats were lost on me. now i understand those beats and love em, so i guess that was just a case of me being too dumb to appreciate those parts back then. now i can, and my life is richer for it. so thanks for making me reconsider them, benny.

nothing ruins a song faster than words

i recently stumbled across a band i’ve never listened to before, and have had one of their songs stuck in my head for a few days now. i’ve been totally enamoured with it because of the power and strange mysteries it conveyed to me. here it is.

i couldn’t decipher the lyrics, and knew that i shouldn’t look them up since i was very likely to be disappointed by them. but my curiosity got the best of me, and yup. very disappointed. there are no lines that stand out as particularly bad and worthy of me posting them here but they are generally uninspired, typical, boring. just metal heads trying to write typical metal lyrics about typical metal topics.

i have a hard time finding much music i like, and i have an even harder time when i also have to consider the lyrics, especially in metal. it seems like lyrics are a second thought to most metal musicians, like they first come up with music that they like and then feel obligated to put some vocals over top of it so they throw some trite words together and use that. and i’m sick of that approach. words don’t have to suck. words don’t have to be so plain and dull. they don’t have to sledgehammers, driving home the point of your dumb statement. the right combination of words can be as abstract and interpretive as any music. they can paint swirling, multi-textured scenes if you use a finer brush.

and i prefer that. i want more depth in my art, more layers, more to consider. i don’t want to read grade 8 history reports presented as lyrics to a song. that’s dumb.

if people really suck with words, they should stick to instrumentals or get some help with their lyrics. shit, you don’t even have to use real words. you can just make sounds, or make up your own words. fuck it, it’s art, you know? no rules. i’m just tired of people ruining perfectly good music with their garbage words.

but i guess i could have just never read those lyrics. then i could have still liked the song. i guess i have to accept my part of the blame for this mess. shit.

karate

babymetal just released a new single and i think it’s fucking awesome.

i love how their shit continues to mix seemingly disparate styles and feelings. to me, this song is serious, silly, fun, catchy, heavy, whimsical, and touching — all at once. that’s amazing.

i’ll never understand how babymetal’s detractors can fail to see any value in what they do. i think it’s vastly more interesting, more multidimensional, and more fun than 99% of the bonehead garbage i hear in metal, or any other genre, for that matter. how could anyone not want to simultaneously bang their heads and copy the girls’ dance moves when listening to this stuff??

can’t wait for the new album.

oh god, i want to cry

i love a great piece of art, especially one seemingly wrought from a tortured soul purging itself. today i saw the video for voices’ ‘last train victoria line’ and was blown away. which is kind of funny because not much happens in the video, but there are a lot of details that really stick with me. one thing that surprised me is how great a job the blonde woman does of being trashy-hot, and lip-syncing along with the chorus. when that started, i thought “oh god, this is corny and kind of gross to imagine her with that man’s voice,” but her performance was bang on with the vocals, both in terms of timing and delivery — it actually looks like she could be singing/screaming those parts. and the pigeons, the masked pointing man, how he crumples when she offers her hand to him, how she then wears the mask, how she fades away…it’s all perfect. it’s so tremendously sad to think of whoever wrote the song and video, to think of where that inspiration came from, to think of the deep personal turmoil they are giving voice to. and it’s weird that such profound darkness, confusion, and grief can create something equally awful yet be beautiful on some level to the viewer. maybe the beauty is in the fearless honesty of a heart-breaking story being told by a damaged human.

i don’t think anyone else will be as moved as i am by this but fuck it, watch it anyway. the screams are awesome and the chick is sexy.

why live music is dying (or part of the reason, anyway)

i fucking hate electronic music, or EDM or whatever you want to call it. basically, if some loser with a laptop and mixer in front of them is just pressing ‘play’ on their computer and then pulling this stupid move

i’m loading a gun right now

as if they’re actually playing music, as if they’ve actually created something unique and interesting, i become homicidal.

but it’s not all EDM’s fault. live music — live rock and metal music in particular — have been doing some fucking corny stuff for years and years and years, and even still continue to perpetuate the stuff, so i can’t blame people for wanting something different, something new. my first complaint is big light shows.

oh wow, COOL, i love lights

light shows are fucking stupid. maybe coloured lights were cutting edge back in the 50’s when people still used tins cans and string to call each other but wake up, it’s 2015. and the worst part is that all those expensive lights and their crazy controllers can’t compensate for a boring fucking live band. just look at the pic above. imagine it with normal room lighting. it would be boring as all hell because the band is all just standing there, doing nothing. throw some lights on it and guess what. now it’s red and blue and still boring as all hell.

and smoke machines. give me a fucking break. who thought smoke machines were cool in the first place, and why? did they think it looked like a seance, like a demon was being summoned? it just looks like a corny fucking magic show at a kid’s birthday to me. i honestly don’t understand what vibe or ambiance anyone is trying to achieve with smoke. plus it dries out my eyes, nose, and throat like crazy. it’s basically the equivalent of clapping a bunch of chalk board erasers together — it’s shitty, especially for the people on stage singing and playing instruments.

if i was a caveman, this smoke might add an element of mystery or danger to the show.

and it’s the same thing as the lights — take the smoke away, and is the show entertaining? get that band playing in broad daylight, is it still exciting? because if it isn’t, if a band is relying on tired old fucking gimmicks as a pathetic attempt to inject some energy into their live shows, they’re a fucking disgrace. smoke and lights do not an exciting show make.

artists and performers who love and believe in what they are doing make an exciting show.