Thursday, August 09, 2007

birthday copy paste happy fun time

Rhett's birthday was yesterday and my mind's been so soggy lately that I wasn't able to continue writing our future adventures I began right here.

Instead I'll share a couple of bits of correspondence between us.

Rhett's interest in popular and new wave 80s music has, thanks to me, increased since we've known each other. Yesterday Rhett asked me to comment on and rate six fairly random 80s songs, which I am copying and pasting below:

1. "The Promise" by When in Rome
i used to love this song a lot more. it was a little bit more meaningful before it was on napoleon dynamite and became somewhat campy. but i totally loved the dreamy chorus the first 500 times i heard it. it's good emo imo.
7 thumbs up

2. "Suedehead" by Morrisey
my favorite morrissey song and i probably like this song more than any other smiths song as well. it begins with a sort of sweeping guitar refrain that puts it in a nice place between ballad and rock. the lyrics are priceless. "why do you come here when you know it makes things hard for me?/ why do you come?/ i'm so sorry." then it gets really hilarious when he sings: "you had to sneak into my room just to read my diary/ it was just to see just to see/ all the things i'd written about you/ oh, so many illustrations/ oh but i'm so very sickened." anyway, i hated morrissey when i first heard him, but it's one of those things that you like way more once you're used to it.
10 thumbs up

3. "Uncertain Smile" by The The
i don't know very much about this band, but i do know this song and it's pretty good. i know they outsourced the piano work and it's pretty groovy listenable jazz piano. i think there's an extended version that really showcases the piano. the chorus is very easy to sing along to. i've sung "i've got you under my skin where the rain can't get in..." to myself many many times. the other song by this band i really like is actually called "infected." i was excited when we got guitar hero, but that "infected" is bad religion's.
9 thumbs up

4. "A Forest" by The Cure
when i saw the cure a couple of years ago, this was their final encore. it's made the halloween cd before. the cure were a lot more simple back then, but probably more haunting. the bassline that runs through the song is very very basic, but it evokes perfectly the feeling of running through a forest at night. ammon told me that someone once asked robert smith what the metaphorical meaning of the forest was and he said, "nothing, it's just a forest!" the song is about pursuing a chick that you can never get to, so that makes sense.
8 thumbs up

5. "The Killing Moon" by Echo and the Bunnymen
this one is way better after seeing donnie darko. the movie opens with this song. for some reason having visuals go with it really helps it out. the 80s weren't known too well for guitar work, and i can easily understand that. this song, though, has some really awesome guitar. it isn't obvious. it isn't awesome guitar as in, "wow, they're really wailing!" it's more like subtly keying out a certain mood. that opening guitar phrase "ba na na na... na..." acts more like a personality than an instrument. you should know these guys because they cover the doors' "people are strange" on the lost boys.
9 thumbs up

6. "Age of Consent" by New Order
new order does no wrong. ever. this is a pretty unique one though. they have bigger sounding songs, but this is a pretty good showcase of how well they were able to program the music. kind of a slow build on top of what sounds to be stream-of-consciousness singing. they did a lot of these little high tempo light excercises. i think this one was in the movie marie antoinette. i think it was the good part. new order were a "normal" band in that they had guitar, bass and drums with a heavy augmentation of synths and computers. another difference, however, is how important the bass guitar was. i think peter hook was notorious for not really knowing how to play bass, so he pretty much played it like a guitar -- high and with a pick. anyway, i also love the title of this one.
9 thumbs up

Later yesterday when I actually talked to the guy I asked him why those six songs. He told me that someone asked the Boston Sports Guy what songs did the best job at defining the 80s, or something like that, and he responded with those six. Here's a link to Rhett's blog. A short time after he reads this he should have a link to the Sports Guy (I'm really amazed he doesn't have a link to him as I type this).

The other email Rhett sent me had to do with an Eric Snider article about free theater screenings of the tv show Firefly, which is a great show. I think I'll buy it tomorrow. Anyway, included in the column, was a some kind of treatise by a sort of super-geek. I guess it's become quite a rallying cry amongst the internet nerds. Here it is right here (here):

What a geek believes According to Rick Emerson
I believe that Han shot first.
I believe that Ally Sheedy was hotter before Molly Ringwald cleaned her up.
I believe in miniatures, models, claymation, and not revealing the shark until you absolutely have to.
I believe that George Lucas, for better or for worse, changed the way we see the world, each other, and ourselves.
And I believe that we will someday reach those stars that he himself made visible.
I believe that George Lucas is also a narrow-minded, money-grubbing pig-headed slave to the now, who ought to be locked away from his own creations, lest he do them further harm.
I believe that Jean-Luc Picard is the better Starship Captain, but I also believe that James Tiberius Kirk is infinitely cooler.
I believe that a child standing in line to buy a book at midnight is fantastic; I believe that reading makes you smart — it’s schools that make you dumb.
I believe that any episode of Futurama is better than any program featuring a precocious teenager who’s wise beyond their years.
I also believe Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be the sole exception that proves this rule.
I believe that comic books are an art form, and will someday be recognized as such.
I believe that good shows die too young; and crap shows last too long.
I believe that Eddie Izzard is the funniest man alive, and I don’t care whether you’ve ever heard of him or not — it’s still true.
I believe that a girl who likes movies about zombies is hotter than whoever is on the cover of Maxim this month.
I believe that Belloch ate that fly,
I swear to God that I heard Luke call Leia “Carrie,”
and I believe that Samwise Gamgee never quite got the credit he really deserved.
I believe in magic, I believe in dreams, I believe in the power of music, movies, and the untold worlds inside an everyday library card. And I do not believe that geeks will inherit the earth; I believe that we already have.

Rhett says he knows about 80% of what this guy is talking about and wanted to give me a crack at decifering the whole thing. So here goes.

Actually, before I decifer this, I'll just say that I'm pretty sure that half of the items on the list aren't specific to a movie or comic book, but are just broad statements and should be taken as such. I think the guy did a horrible job of mixing up the specifics and the generalizations, thus making it seem that the generalizations were inside jokes when they actually aren't. Anyway, I counted up 18 statements. Let's look over them.

1. "Han shot first"
In the original Star Wars, Greedo the bounty hunter has Han Solo at gunpoint at a cantina table. Han talks to him and then slyly shoots him underneath the table without Greedo realizing it. When George Lucas remade the Star Wars movies in 1997, he changed the scene so that Greedo actually fired at Han, but somehow strangely missed from like two feet away and THEN Han took the shot that killed Greedo. The theory is that Lucas didn't want Han to shoot first because he's really a good guy. Most geeks will tell you that they like Han badass, not cool. Plus the scene looks completely ridiculous in the changed version. Oh boy, I hope all 18 aren't this long.

2. "Ally Sheedy was hotter before Molly Ringwald cleaned her up"
In the movie The Breakfast Club (which I just happened to catch again at the Tower midnight show on Saturday), Ally Sheedy plays a sort of proto goth chick. At the very end of the movie Molly Ringwald, the prom queen, dolls her up to look more preppy. She supposedly succeeds and Ally gets some action from Emilio Estevez. The music that plays during this scene is cute, but geeks tend to love goth chicks not cheerleaders. Plus, it really takes away from one of the movies' themes which is about the importance of actually standing up for who you really are.

3. "Minitures, models, claymation and not revealing the shark"
This is laced with quite a bit of irony. I believe that he's talking about the superior benefits of "real-world" special effects that are actually physically there rather than the adding of CGI later. Strangely, geeks don't love CGI, although geeks are no strangers to computers. No doubt it's geeks that actually DO the CGI work that all other geeks complain about. The part about the shark has to do with the movie Jaws (yeah, pretty good guess, I know). When Steven Spielberg made that movie the mechanical shark kept malfunctioning and/or most of the footage they got with the shark looked absolutely unpresentable. So he was forced to use very few actual shark shots. Most people feel that this strategy actually made the movie far more riveting than if we were to see a lot of the shark the whole time. There is one shot long into the movie where we really catch the first glimpse of the shark and it comes out of nowhere. It's breathtaking. Strangely, Jaws blazed the trail that Star Wars would follow the next year, setting the stage for the mindless Summer effects-driven blockbusters that this particular geek is so fond of dissing.

4-6. "George Lucas has changed the way we see the world (for better or worse), we will someday reach the stars, Lucas ought to be locked away from his own creations"
These three are pretty much a long-winded way of saying "the first three Star Wars movies were absolutely amazing and the three that came after that horrendously suck." Something has to be said about Lucas changing the way we see the world, though. Even if you've never seen a Star Wars movie, chances are George Lucas has still affected you. For example, have you ever seen a Pixar film? Pixar was started as part of Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic and Steve Jobs bought it in 1986. Here's another example. Did the Soviets nuke us at the height of the Cold War? No, they were too freaked out by Reagan's "Star Wars" bluff about orbiting satellites defending the United States with lasers. Sound crazy? No way. Not after seeing Jedi five times in the cinema. Still speaking of Lucas, the fact that the geeks who deified him for his works are the same geeks who will likely crucify him for his works is probably going to be the subject of many graduate theses over the next 50 years. It is strange for a group of people to demand the divorce of the artist from the art. Of course we geeks do have a very legitimate point on this one. Sometimes the artist really is just plain dead wrong.

7. "Picard, better captain; Kirk, cooler"
I like the way he put this. Since the first day of the internet, geeks have debated which Star Trek captain is better: Kirk from the original series, or Picard from The Next Generation. I've always said Kirk; but most people I know say Picard, which is totally silly. I guess I've always had "cool" as the primary criteria. Picard never really made a bad decision. He was like Iceman. Actually, that's why I don't like him as much. I find the character boring and unrealistic. Picard needed to make more mistakes, be more alpha male and maybe have a few more girlfriends to really compete with Kirk.

8. "Child standing in line at midnight, schools make you dumb"
No doubt he's talking about all the midnight release parties of the Harry Potter books. I'm betting that the whole "schools make you dumb" thing is just his opinion and he's not quoting from some classic geek source... unless it's the video for Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall."

9. "Futurama better than any program with a precocious teenager who is wise beyond years"
This phrase speaks for itself, although I'm not sure why he made this specific comparison. Maybe it's because Futurama's protagonist, Fry, isn't a teen-ager, but actually acts like one.

10. "Buffy is the exception"
This one is self-explanitory, but I will go out on a limb with my geek cred and say that I think the movie is way better than the tv show.

11. "Comic books are an art form"
Self-explanitory. Many are appalled at this statement, but not NEARLY as many as a few short years ago. It is kind of obvious if you think about it. Literature and visual arts are considered two of the highest forms of art already anyway. Sure, sure most comic books are just comic books. But trust me, there are sublime pieces of work out there that quite possibly fit into whatever narrow definition you squeeze art into. You just haven't found it yet.

12. "Good shows die young. Crap shows last too long"
This is general and could probably be taken that way. It may specifically be in reference to the show Firefly which sort of probably sparked this whole hoo-ha. Firefly was actually cancelled before it finished its first season despite the anguished cries of its small, yet devoted following. At the same time, Stargate SG-1 was on for something like 11 years and most sci-fi geeks find this show kind of sci-fi white trash.

13. "Eddie Izzard is the funniest man alive"
I don't know much about Eddie Izzard, but imho, he's nothing to write about really. He was one of the recurring characters in the Ocean's 11 movies, he's somewhat of a comedian and I know he's in this new show on FX with Minnie Driver about a couple of con artists; but other than that, I'm not too familiar. I'm pretty sure he's just a part of the geek creed's author's personal taste and doesn't really belong in part of a geek passion diatribe.

14. "Zombie girls are hotter than Maxim girls"
True, but a little of both is alright too.

15. "Belloch ate that fly"
There is a scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where it appears that a fly goes right into the mouth of the actor who plays Belloq. The actor doesn't respond to presence of the fly in his mouth at all. There is a debate about whether he really did eat the fly or if it was some kind of accidental illusion in the filming process. Geeks feel he really ate it since the rest of the movie is so freaking cool anyway.

16. "Luke called Leia 'Carrie'"
In Star Wars after Luke blows up the Death Star and gets out of his X-Wing Fighter while a Princess Leia-led crowd comes running toward him, he lets out an exhuberant yell which sounds suspiciously like "Carrie!" Princess Leia was played by Carrie Fisher and many people feel that Mark Hamill, who played Luke, broke character during that take.

17. "Samwise never quite got the credit he really deserved"
This, of course, is dealing with the character played by Sean Astin intThe Lord of the Rings movies. The author is probably saying this because most of the other important people in the movie went of to Elf-land while he stayed home (wait! did he? oh no. oh well, I am so over those movies and books. we all really overdosed on them). Anyway, he also may be speaking of how Sam really was the only ring-bearer who had the constant focus and never wavered from the goal of destroying the ring... unlike that whining pansy Frodo.

18. "Magic, dreams, music, movies, library cards. Geeks have already inherited the Earth."
Unfortunately geeks have inherited the Earth. But I kind of liked things better when there weren't so many of us.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Maria - not on my computer

Well, I've got my reading in for the day. Very well done analysis as usual Jon.

I want to run out an listen to each song you described - gotta love the 80s.

I think that there is only the appearance of a lot more geeks. For some reason it has become popular to be a self proclaimed geek lately. I know a bunch of people out there who call themselves geeks but they really are not (Not you honey, you are a geek - never second guess yourself!).

August 10, 2007 11:08 AM  
Blogger John said...


I think that it's time you write your own 80s pop culture manifesto. You might think about starting a web page completely dedicated to the 80s. You clearly are obsessed with this decade. And while time machines have not yet been invented yet. there's noting like the virtual reality of the internet to relive the past. However, does your obsession with this decade prevent you from thinking seriously about your future? Hope that question doesn't sound too harsh, we all have our escape outlets. Just don't become another Uncle Rico.

August 13, 2007 10:30 AM  
Blogger clint said...

i didnt know any of those trivia bullet points that you talked about. interesting.
in defense of the next generation though...i think worf could kick spocks A.

August 13, 2007 11:40 AM  
Blogger joN. said...

strangely i look toward the future with the same enthusiasm as i did in the 80s.

August 13, 2007 12:16 PM  
Blogger laura said...

It took me three or four sittings, but I finished this post. YAY! (OK, I kind of skimmed over the Star Wars part because I knew I wouldn't get it anyway).

All right, I'm done being proud of myself. Very impressive Jon! And I always thought it was lame how Molly Ringwald dressed up the goth chick too.

August 13, 2007 4:24 PM  
Blogger John said...


I read your movie review of Harry Potter. I just recently started reading the Harry Potter books for the first time. I have to agree with your take on magic being without purpose and the characters lacking personality, especially Harry. If you want to read some fantasy which I think might be up your ally, try Niel Gaiman's novels, American Gods, Anansi Boys, and Neverwhere. I think you would like them.

August 16, 2007 3:21 PM  

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