Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Couple of Unrelated Links

First, JA points out that Cinematical has a list of seven better roles for Kristen Bell. Having just suffered through Couples Retreat and not looking forward to When in Rome, I agree with this list. Those are the kind of roles K. Bellz needs to play.

Second, I wanted to point out this great new blog called Cartoons of 1939, in which a blogger called Ted is reviewing, in order, every cartoon that was released in 1939. It's a brilliant idea, and it's a great blog. You should check it out if old cartoons are your thing.

Oh, and just to mention, because I was enthused by this: Richard Williams is back in animation. At Aardman! How cool is that? I hope that's a collaboration that yields something mighty.

So Far This Season on Batman: The Brave and the Bold

A death race between DC heroes and villains. Baby Plas and Woozy Winks. The Green Lantern Corps. Aquaman on an awkward family vacation. The Justice Society. The Metal Men.

Oh, and...

Detective Chimp. For real, Detective Chimp!

Next week: Firestorm.

Also coming up: Professor Zoom and three different Flashes. Captain Marvel. Julie Newmar and Adam West as Bruce Wayne's parents (in an episode featuring Kevin Conroy as the Phantom Stranger and Mark Hamill as the Spectre!). The Haunted Tank. Doom Patrol. The return of Bat-Mite, this time featuring the Joker!


The Disney Meme

My political rantings are frankly irritating me and making me feel drained, so I'm going to do this meme I found on Tumblr and get my mind back on frivolous things where it belongs.

Also, I'm keeping this questions limited to animation films instead of the entire Disney output. Just streamlines it. Not that anyone's really interested.

Which Disney Princess film is your favorite?
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Although I did just love The Princess and the Frog quite a bit.

Which non-Disney Princess Disney Film is your favorite?
Bambi. I still think Disney's first five films (Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi) are the best ones.

Which Disney film makes you cry the most?
When I first saw Beauty and the Beast it destroyed me. Honestly, I think I've cried in about 95% of the Disney animated films, but I think Beauty and the Beast may have been the worst. That's a story that just connects with me, and especially seemed like my story when I was 15 (ugly, awkward guy who wants to be loved but is too angry and hurt to be open to it). Also, The Fox and the Hound makes me bawl.

Which Disney film makes you the happiest?
Lilo & Stitch. "This is my family..."

Which Disney film has the best music?
Bambi. If you listen to the score of Bambi on its own, it's like a series of tone poems. (Well, Bambi has the best original music; the two Fantasia movies have the best music overall, but come on: Stravinsky, Beethoven, Respighi, Shostakovich, Gershwin, Tchaikovsky...)

Which Disney film has the best love story?
They're all pretty good, but I tend to enjoy the post-feminist heroines a little more, so I'm going to say Pocahontas. Also, Pocahontas was one of the movies Becca and I saw together the first year we were going out, so there are a lot of other feelings I associate with that movie. I also dug The Princess and the Frog as a love story, because the two characters involved were so strongly drawn.

Who is your favorite Disney Princess?
I guess, in terms of pure drama, I like Pocahontas, assuming she still qualifies.

Who is your favorite Disney Prince?
The Beast.

Who is your favorite Disney animal sidekick?
Jiminy Cricket.

Who is your favorite Disney main character animal?
Stitch, if he counts. If not, then Bagheera from The Jungle Book.

Who is your favorite villain?
Long John Silver from Treasure Planet. But Long John Silver is one of my all-time favorite literary characters, so it was no contest.

What is your favorite Disney song?
"When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio. I realize that's entirely predictable.

What is your favorite Disney villian song?
"Hellfire" from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

What is your favorite Disney animal song?
As in, song sung by an animal? Well, not repeating my earlier answer for favorite song, I like "Best of Friends" from The Fox and the Hound.

What is your favorite Disney Princess song?
"One Song," from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

What is your favorite Disney Prince song?
You know, I'm not even sure who's a Disney Prince at this point, anyway.

What is your favorite Disney Prince/Princess duet song?
I guess "A Whole New World" from Aladdin. It also sounds really good when Nick and Jessica sing it. My problem with a lot of Disney "musicals" is that they're not really musicals very often, but movies with songs added into them that don't advance much. I'd like to see them do more true musicals more often.

What is your favorite Disney love song?
"I Bring You a Song (Looking for Romance)" from Bambi.

Huh. Just sort of stops there.

Say Goodbye to Outer Space

Looks like the Obama Administration is going to cancel the Ares, Orion, and Constellation programs. Just like the Bush Administration, when it comes time to talk cost, it's instead time to cancel, review, study, design, and look at other programs that are years and years in the future. In other words: delay.

When did we get so scared of doing anything in this country?

What did "Yes, We Can" even mean, really? Was it just about electing a black man president? Okay, we did that. Now how about "yes, we can" do something else? Like fix the economy, overhaul health care, end the wars, and get back into goddamn outer space?

I know, I know; there's never any money. Well, there's never any money for anything that would actually help this country out and improve the quality of life for not only ourselves, but also for others. Want to fight an endless war or two? Well, that's goddamn patriotism and needs to be funded forever and ever until it bankrupts the entire nation. Want to overhaul health care into a system that actually heals the sick and gets patients taken care of and makes medicine affordable and saves employers and businesses money? Nope, we don't know where the money will come from.

Fun fact: it would cost $5 billion to end world hunger for one year. That's the amount of money Americans spend on ice cream in a year. I'd gladly not eat ice cream for a year if it meant the rest of the world got to eat, too.

That's almost how much we spend monthly on losing the war in Afghanistan.

I wonder how many recruits radical terrorists would gain to their cause against a nation that stopped eating ice cream so that other nations wouldn't starve to death?

Not that it's going to happen. And going to Mars isn't going to happen, either.

Nothing's going to happen.

Happy 80th Birthday, Gene Hackman

A milestone in the life of a fine actor.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Obama Frustration Continues Ever On

So, Obama announced a discretionary spending freeze that doesn't really apply to anything that will save very much money. (Relatively speaking.)


Why is Obama caving in to deficit hawks when he doesn't have to?

If you want to save billions and billions of dollars a year, here's three things we can do: stop spending more money on defense than even Ronald Reagan did by ending our involvement in two wars that we will not win; stop funding our own agricultural collapse through factory farming; and give us universal health care.

If you want to save something like 1 percent over the next three years, you have a discretionary spending freeze on everything else.

Does Obama realize that he won the election by a majority? Why is he still sucking up to the Right? Doesn't he realize that they're never going to like him? Like, ever? This isn't going to appease them. Just do the job we elected you to do, already. By trying to grab more support, you're losing what you already had.

We elected Democrats to do more, not less.

Is Obama suddenly buying the right wing lie that government spending caused the recession?

Does he not realize that FDR tried to do the same thing in 1937 and it was a disaster which might even have extended the Great Depression by two or three years? Doesn't he realize you need to spend money to stimulate the economy? Is he unaware that the unemployment rate (as reported, not the "hidden" rate, which is higher) is at 10 percent while states cut funding and slash jobs?

The economy is actually improving; jobs always come after the economy recovers, but if you look at the numbers, the economy actually is recovering (slowly but surely) and the job loss rate has notably slowed. The bailout money is being recovered too. As much of a naysayer as I was, I have to admit, the stimulus worked. From a political viewpoint, it's been a Democratic victory that the economy didn't collapse and a further victory that the Republicans have been forced, in their attempts at obstructionism, to take stands against consumer protection and against middle class tax cuts.

So why give up ground that you don't have to? This is an enormous mistake. Especially when you consider that Obama the Candidate was against a spending freeze.

Jesus Christ, Barry; we want a healthy economy. Why don't you?

Personally, I was disappointed in Obama's SOTU speech. Yeah, he did say that because of the stimulus (or, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009), there were 2 million jobs saved that are, I think, essential to America: teachers, construction workers, police, firefighters, first responders, etc. He did point out that the middle class tax cuts helped American families. But I wish he'd taken more credit for it.

Only three Republicans voted for the Recovery Act; after all of those concessions to the Republicans in the name of Obama's pipe dream of bipartisanship, the Republicans still refused to vote for the bill. They dealt with Obama in bad faith after he tried and tried and tried to deal with them honestly. They voted against it, and the bill worked.

He should've said to the American people, in no uncertain terms, they had Obama and the Democrats and three Republicans to thank, and that the vast majority of the Republican Party had tried to stand in their way.

Instead, he just sort of pleaded with the Republican side to just, come on, already, play nice and be all bipartisan and I'll be your best friend, guys. He looked like a weakling. I think he must be the only person who gives a shit about bipartisanship at this point, and it makes him look like a fool.

The Republicans don't give a shit. And you know what? Politically they have practically no power, anyway. So quit handing them their petty victories and letting them play obstruction games when you can just ignore them.

Do the right thing because it's the right thing to do.

My God, champion something and god damn fight for it.

Results, not good intentions.

Stop playing it so safe.

You can't please everyone all the time. Stop trying and do your damn job. Lead already.

(Oh, and no points for mentioning how we need to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell. This is the second time he's mentioned it, and there's zero action happening there. If he wanted to end it, he could just end it right now.)

Happy 40th Birthday, Heather Graham!

Has it really been 13 years since she was Rollergirl? She's still wonderful.

Australia Terrified of Tiny Tits

My friend Phillip in Australia sent me a link that led me to a story that Australia has now banned pornography depicting women with small breasts out of a fear that men who like women with small breasts must be pedophiles.

I'm not sure who to feel more insulted for: men and women who like small breasts, or women who have small breasts. What the Australian Classification Board has essentially said with this ruling is that anyone who likes to look at a woman with a natural A cup must surely be a pervert, and any woman who has a natural A cup is somehow indecent.

This just sends all kinds of terrible messages. Ms. Naughty, an Australian adult blogger, puts it best on her site, saying in part: "Basically, it’s classing a certain normal female body type as obscene. It’s declaring all flat chests to be automatically juvenile, something that should not be viewed by anyone because of a fear that it will stir up 'base instincts' in certain people."

It's like all Australian women are being told they should have gigantic fake tits or else they're doing something wrong.

What is it with the Australian government's weird fear that there is a child molester hiding behind every tree, masturbating to porn with small-breasted women? I'm not Australian, so I don't generally keep up on their social problems, but is there some kind of wave of pedophilia sweeping through the land these days? And is the way to counter that really to treat every consumer of pornography as though they're automatically pedophiles until they prove otherwise? It's ridiculous.

Why not just keep women who are under 18 out of porn? It's called regulation.

Some guys just like smaller breasts. I used to work with a guy who loved women with small breasts, which was ironic, because his wife was an E cup. But you know, he wasn't a child molester.

Apparently, Australia has also banned depictions of female ejaculation because it's "abhorrent." So ladies, if you squirt when you cum, you're abhorrent. Nice one, Australia.

I wonder if the Australian government still thinks that the female orgasm doesn't exist, anyway. Queen Victoria's still on the throne, right?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Howard Zinn 1922-2010

Perhaps the greatest historian America has ever had died yesterday. It seems like all of our great thinkers and rational voices are succumbing to old age and there aren't enough men and women of reason stepping up to replace them. This is all to society's detriment. America just lost a champion of truth. How many of those do we have left?

TV Report: Ugly Betty Officially Canceled

The news doesn't surprise me, and I still haven't decided whether or not I'm actually disappointed. Not surprising at all is the news that the ratings on the show slid into the toilet when they moved it to Friday nights, which was entirely predictable. I think it's obvious that sometime over the summer ABC decided that Ugly Betty was finished and took the step of moving it to Friday in order to ensure that. I guess the move to Wednesday hasn't helped it, and with four episodes left to film, the producers and writers are now scrambling to come up with a satisfactory finale.

Ugly Betty had a flawless first season, but started to slide downhill in the second when they threw in that whole Betty-Henry-Gio love triangle. I hate it when the love triangles are forced on a show about a woman; I've seen too many shows ruined by that, and it's always disappointing. Heaven forefend that we have a show about a woman and her career where the main drama isn't being pulled apart by men she's attracted to. Since then, it's been small gains for every large disappointment, and even as I write this I'm just... you know, I'm just not sure that Ugly Betty getting canceled is that much of a tragedy. I'll miss it on some level, but there's this huge disappointment I've been carrying with the show. This season's been bad enough, with the show rather self-consciously trying too hard to take every character back to where they were in the first season as if they're trying to apologize to the audience.

In short, I don't think the producers know where to take this show, anyway. Better to end it now and let it go.

:: In somewhat related news, I wanted to mention that, once again, Heroes had its lowest ratings ever this week. They just continue to get worse and worse, and I know NBC is desperate, but I'm not sure it's desperate enough to renew a show that came in 47th on the weekly ratings. They got beat by wrestling this week. We're talking just under--under--4 million viewers. Ugly Betty had 5.3 million, and they got canceled.

Apparently the DVD sales of Heroes are still strong. Tim Kring is optimistic, but I've also read that the people who work on the show are trying to build in an ending and are acting as though this will be their last season. Frankly, I've been waiting since October to hear that Heroes is canceled. Hasn't happened yet, but that doesn't mean it won't.

I still watch Heroes. I still like it, too. The show has never been as good as it could have been, but neither have most of the shows on TV today. Still, I can't really defend Heroes, because no matter how much I enjoy it, I'm also keenly aware of how silly it is and how easily it can irritate a viewer.

Frankly, I didn't know the ratings were actually that bad. They lost 10 million viewers in four years. Ouch.

Oddly enough, I know I'll miss Heroes more than Ugly Betty, despite Ugly Betty clearly being the better series. Weird...

J.D. Salinger 1919-2010

I'm going to be honest and use the cover from The Catcher in the Rye, because it's the only thing of his I ever actually read. I don't know why, but I never read anything else of his. Still, like a lot of people, this novel really spoke to me during a tough time in high school, and has remained one of my favorite books ever since. So thank you for that.

Looks Like Geek Heaven to Me

Also, thanks, Dr. Monkey, for some recent advice that was crucial to this blog!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The 100 Cheesiest Film Quotes of All Time

Some I disagree with, some I fully expected, and a lot of them deserve the appellation.

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

I was hoping for dumb fun, but sadly just got dumb. I wouldn't call it a bad movie, but only because it doesn't try hard enough to be bad. It's just thoroughly unengaging and predictable. I think G.I. Joe doesn't really work in live action; making it something with real human beings just enhances how incredibly silly the whole thing really is, and makes the silliness look unforgivably stupid. I mean, it's not the many differences between the movie and the cartoon/comic book that irk me. It's the general stupidity of certain aspects of it. Aspects such as:

:: The idea that G.I. Joe is an international task force just because a couple of its members have accents, when everything else about it is so American. It's just pandering to the international community in an attempt to make it play better overseas.

:: The idea that G.I. Joe's existence is supposed to be a secret when we spend the whole movie watching them cause billions of dollars in property damage, including in one of the most high profile cities in the world.

:: The idiotic depiction of women as either vengeful harpies or emotionless robots/distant sex objects.

:: That the Pit--a good idea carried over from the comics--is under a desert. Who sweeps sand back over it when the canopy shuts?

:: That Dennis Quaid really needed the money this badly; all he does is stand, sit, grumble, give his lines a perfunctory reading, and practically asks where his paycheck is on camera.

:: The distracting vaginal lips bolted to Snake Eyes' face. They're just distracting and serve no purpose at all.

:: That the Baroness went in four years from Suzie Homemaker to terrorist killing machine, and that she spent all of that time working next to her long-thought-dead brother without ever once recognizing him.

:: That James McCullen actually needs to do a single thing he does in order to take over the world. Wouldn't it have been much easier and not gotten G.I. Joe involved if you'd just lied to the American government about how much the nanomite missiles cost and then siphoned off the cash to make your own? And what's with the constant bleating for money? Your entire organization seems to run as if money were absolutely no object, so what's the problem?

:: When McCullen and "Rex" blow up the ice to save themselves, how the fuck does the ice sink? Seriously, guys? Seriously?

:: That Marlon Wayans can jump in a plane no one's ever actually flown before and immediately start flying it with no problems whatsoever. Maybe he's just seen Firefox, since it's the exact same plane with the same voice-activated weapons firing technology. And then he can get from Moscow to Washington DC in 15 minutes, which would require him to travel 26 times the speed of sound.

Also, regarding the ending: so, Destro is now going to be a mind-controlled slave to Cobra Commander? Where's the conflict there? Why is Christopher Eccleston (the only decent performance in the whole thing, because he gets what the tone should be) wasting his time? And I'm sorry, but Tommy from 3rd Rock is just not a menacing villain at all.

This movie only exists to generate a sequel; Cobra is apparently so lame that the backstory of how they came to exist requires its own movie. As a result, there's no real story here at all, and Stephen Sommers never firmly commits to a tone. It's all over the place. You know, I watched The Mummy Returns again on cable this weekend, and that movie is awesome. It's big, it's silly, it's a great adventure movie, it has characters and a story--imagine if Sommers was still capable of doing something like that. It's like Van Helsing, one of the worst movies ever, either sucked away his talent or completely killed his confidence. A parody of this movie would use the exact same script.

To be fair, here are some things I liked about it: Ray Park as Snake Eyes, some of the action scenes, Rachel Nichols and Sienna Miller were at least very pretty, Eccleston was good in a role that was ill-defined, and I thought the nanomites were a good idea--yes, they were basically a magic tech that did everything the script needed them to, but that felt very G.I. Joe to me, and would've been easier to buy if everything else hadn't been so lame. I also liked the way they made Destro's mask out of it, making him look like the guy in the cartoon, as though he had a metal face and not a mask.

Oh, a rating. I don't know, * star?

THE COVE (2009)
A powerful documentary about dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. Apparently, every year, thousands of dolphins are driven into a cove there and slaughtered, then sold to Japanese markets labeled as other kinds of meat. There's the issue of this unconscionable animal genocide, but there's also the issue that dolphin meat is unsafe to eat because of an extremely high level of mercury poisoning (the mayor of Taiji was trying to get dolphin meat put in schools as part of the compulsory lunch). This is all part of a half-assed attempt to save Japan's whaling industry, because apparently their abuse of the "science capture" loophole isn't bringing them enough whale meat anymore--although, let's face it, it's because they're wiping out whales to extinction, and will now do the same to dolphins and porpoises which are simply the smallest whales. As the documentary shows, the sad part is that the people of Taiji--who will follow, harass, and outright murder people to keep the world from knowing about what happens in that cove--know that what they're doing is illegal, harmful, and morally wrong. That's why they go to such extremes to cover it up. This is heart-wrenching stuff, but the documentary wisely attempts to steer clear of direct moralizing and instead simply shows you, via hidden cameras and putting their own lives in danger, exactly what happens in that cove. Disturbing, but you need to see it. **** stars.

Like most Nicholas Roeg movies, this one is deliberately hard to grasp. That threw me for a while, despite the film's gorgeous visuals. Eventually, I just sort of let the dreamlike quality take over and was really taken by this film. Ostensibly, it's about a couple (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) who have lost a daughter to drowning and who have gone to Venice, where the husband helps to restore church art. The wife meets two sisters, one of whom claims to be psychic, and warns that Sutherland's life is in danger in Venice. He's got a touch of this psychic gift, too, and what happens after that and where it leads is surprising and very tense. I was not let down at all by the ending and what is revealed. **** stars.

Lifetime movie that's better than a lot of Lifetime movies. A bunch of 15 year-old small town girls all make a pact to get pregnant at the same time. It's pretty horrifying, actually, and surprisingly hard to watch, especially as the plot unfolds and the nice girl who turns up accidentally pregnant is revealed to be more and more devious as the film goes on. Thora Birch stars as a blogger investigating a story that gains national prominence, and is countered by Nancy Travis as a pro-abstinence-only education mom who is forced to confront reality. *** stars.

To my surprise, I kind of enjoyed this movie. It boiled a lot of the fat out of that horrible novel and made it much easier to swallow. In fact, the best surprise was that Kristen Stewart actually made Bella into a sympathetic character. Without all of the whining and having to sit for entire chapters watching her wallow in her own self-pity, Bella comes off a lot better. She still abandons everything in her life for a boy, but it wasn't as offensive as it was on the page. Robert Pattinson, however, is just awful, and his reedy voice mumbling every line was just douchey and emo. He is a block of wood and he has no chemistry with Stewart at all (although she never really seems to be into boys, does she? maybe that's part of the reason I didn't respond to Adventureland...), but has a surprising amount of sexual tension with Taylor Lautner (who is okay in the movie, but nothing special). Still, how much more interesting would a love story between an angel (let's face it, vampires are not integral to the plot) and a young woman have been without having to descend into the typical third act action puppetry, especially since the big fight between Pattinson and Cam Gigandet is so very poorly filmed? So, not terrible, not with a lot of what I hated about the book extremely toned down. **1/2 stars.

Nowhere near as bad as people have tried to get me to believe. I keep hearing how this movie is brutal and cruel, but really it's just kind of gross. I didn't hate it like I fucking despised Wolf Creek, a similarly violent movie. A group of teenagers goes into the woods and comes into contact with a hideous infection. It owes a lot to real horror movies like The Evil Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original, natch), and it's similarly intense. The movie doesn't really work, I think, but that's because of the tone: director Eli Roth is trying to do too many things at once--make a serious horror movie, make a comedy about culture clash, and make a deeper film about American readiness for a biological crisis--that don't really sit comfortably with each other. It's not a dismissible film in the horror canon, as far as I'm concerned, because it really tries to do something to comment on how America takes its safety for granted, which is what a lot of the best and most important horror movies have done. It doesn't work, but it tries, and that's really something. **1/2 stars.

Becca Talks Cerina Vincent

Becca and I watched Cabin Fever for the first time yesterday. Though she's barely ever seen her in anything, Becca loves Cerina Vincent. So, Miss Vincent being in the movie, Becca had this to say:

"She's so pretty. And she smells so nice! Jesus, that sounds like the kind of thing a stalker would say, doesn't it? Aw, she smell so puuuuuurdy. But she was a guest at WizardWorld this summer and I was standing about 10 feet away from her and I could smell the perfume she was wearing, and she just smelled as beautiful as she looked. She's just gorgeous and amazing. I'll stop talking now."


Oh, to Be 17 Again...

...and all over that boy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

No More Therapy for the Foreseeable Future

I haven't been able to go to therapy since November, and it looks like I won't be able to go any time soon. It's a financial matter; we're hurting right now worse than we have in previous years. And although Becca and I agree that therapy is really helping me get better, there's just no way we can afford to keep up on our bills and my medication and the rent and continue to pay for therapy. I know a $40 co-pay doesn't seem like much, but sometimes it's the difference between getting the power bill in on time or eating for a few days.

I don't like to talk about this much on my blog; my blog is for escaping my everyday problems and just talking about pop culture or politics or whatever, not for whining about how bad my financial situation is. I feel like I'm begging for sympathy. I'm really not; I'm just sort of venting my frustration with my current situation. With so many substitute teachers this year, work has been so scarce that I've barely been able to find any at all. If I was just working even one day a week, on a regular basis, we'd be doing so much better than we are now.

I just don't want to get all angry and crazy again, like I was before. The difference between me now and me just six months ago is like night and day. I'm so much calmer now, so much more relaxed, and I worry that I'm going to go back to totally dysfunctional. I didn't realize the strain it was putting on myself and on my wife until I was able to step back and look at it. I'm going to try as hard as I can to build on what I've already been able to work through (which is just the tip of the iceberg, if that) on my own while I'm trying to scrounge up some work.

Christ, they lie to you about how life will work out when you're a kid.


Jessica, Did You Twitpic This Just for Me?

I'm gonna say you did, my busty little mockingbird.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Who I Am/Kiss & Tell

I know 99% of my readers won't be interested in these albums, but I wanted to mention them because, usually, there's not a whole lot I like in the way of contemporary music.

It's no secret that I dig the Jonas Brothers and their 80s-influenced pop music. At first glance, Nick is the one with the most obvious musical talent, but even still I rolled my eyes a little when I heard he was involved in some kind of side solo project. He's one of the key writers in the band, so is this going to sound like stripped-down JoBros, or is this really going to be something different?

Turns out it's something awesome.

Let's put it this way: a lot of the members of the Administration used to be in Prince's New Power Generation. So he's got a fantastic band backing him up here. And an appropriate band, because this album sounds nothing like the Jonas Brothers, but a lot more like a combination of Prince, Stevie Wonder, 1980s Eric Clapton, Lionel Richie, and a bit of John Mayer (kids today are way too influenced by that goon). The Jonas Brothers are pure pop--good pop, but firmly pop (with a bit of that country crossover influence now and then). Who I Am actually manages to have a blues/funk feel to it, even a tiny bit of roadhouse, and a surprising amount of soul. There are soul-searching songs, sure, but he avoids that emo navel-gazing that's all too popular among kids today.

What's more, the album sounds like someone who has blues, funk, and soul figured out. Or someone who's at least serious about those genres. It firmly solidifies that Nick Jonas isn't some kid with a guitar who wanted to be famous; he's an actual musician who's quite serious about the music he wants to make. Serious, but not self-serious, because this is a fun and exciting and layered album by someone who knows what they're doing. And it's more mature than anything the Jonas Brothers have done so far. I was honestly surprised, but glad to be.

Good for Nick Jonas. I expect great things from him in the future.

I also really, really dug this album.

It may not be the best album by any of the Disney stars, but it's the one I dug the most. Selena Gomez isn't quite there yet as a singer, but she's not awful, either. She's got personality in her voice, and this album caters the songs to her strengths. It's also comparatively stripped down for modern pop, and sounds to me like a Blondie record.

It also helps that almost half of the songs are co-written by Gina Schock from the Go-Go's. So it's that kind of music. There are punkish leanings, and even if she is (like too many girls today) singing about being jerked around by boys, she's also singing about jerking them around right back, or about getting all kinds of revenge ("I'm gonna wipe that smile off your know-it-all face"). She manages to sing songs about being hurt without sounding morose, but instead has fun with them and basically tells everyone to fuck off. That goes a long way with me.

But it all comes down to the sound of the record, which tries and nearly succeeds to emulate the post-punk sound, one of my favorite sounds in music. I wish they'd release some of the punkier sounding stuff, like "Stop & Erase" or "I Don't Miss U at All" as singles instead of the more polished-sounding "Naturally" or "Falling Down." But whatever, this album is fun as hell.

The Disillusioned Youth Vote

I've been reading a bit lately about the results of the special election in Massachusetts and what this supposedly does or doesn't mean for Democratic chances in the midterm elections later this year. One person said that the Republican victory was actually a Progressive victory because it showed the Democratic Party that they're ignoring Progressives at their peril. If that's a victory, it's a Pyrrhic one at best.

What interested me was the youth voter turnout, or rather, the lack of it. Something like 15% of voters under the age of 30 showed up to vote. That's... wow, that's like nothing. Some of the people I'm reading are positing that this is also going to be disastrous to the Democratic Party because, the stereotype goes, young people favor Democrats. The implication has been that people in their twenties are so disillusioned with President Obama for not pushing through health finance reform that they're not going to turn out to vote. I think that's only partially the case.

I think the problem is not that young voters are turned off by Obama per se, but that they're disillusioned by the entire process. Is it disheartening that this president has decided to ineffectually float above the fray rather than getting his hands dirty on health care? You bet it is. But what's more troubling is the way we were shown in 2009 that it doesn't really matter who you vote for anymore, the only thing that changes is the names of the politicians being bought off by corporations. All politicians are out to protect their positions, nothing more or less, and that's always been the case. It's just that, so far this century, they haven't made any effort to hide it. It's just so obvious that none of them care, and it feels like whomever you vote for, nothing will ever get any better.

Hell, we have a Supreme Court that just decided to remove the spending limit for corporations--still legally persons under the law--to poison the well of politics.

I understand these kids not caring enough to vote. We've got another generation who has become completely disillusioned by the voting and legislative processes. It's not their fault. It's perfectly understandable that they feel like they don't have any power to change the world. The government has taught them that they don't.

I'm going to be very interested to see how low voter turnout's going to be in November. My guess is it's going to be like 1998 and people are going to have a very "Why even bother?" attitude.

It sucks, but... well, there it is.

Kristen Bell Mondays

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Song of the Week: "Naturally"

Screw it, I just need some Selena Gomez.

The Negativity Meme

Via Cal

Foods which disgust the crap out of me: Pork is pretty gross. Ham is gross, too. (Yet I love bacon.) Kiwi made me puke once.

TV show I loathe: I just saw an episode of Will & Grace for the first time, and I'm almost sorry for every negative thing I ever said about Two and a Half Men. That show may be brain-damagingly stupid, but Will & Grace is the most shrill, awful, and unfunny thing I've ever seen.

Movie I loathe: That would be a very long list, really. That's a separate post.

Music genres I loathe: Christian "rock," which has nothing to do with rock and all seems to be weirdly about how badly the singers want to fuck Jesus.

Magazine which annoys me: Maxim is pretty stupid, which is why it's so maddening to see Playboy trying to emulate it. Entertainment Weekly's lists piss me off, but it does make good blog fodder, so there's that.

Makes me cranky at restaurant: Obnoxious diners. I don't want to hear about your awesome party, especially when you're obviously still drunk.

Makes me cranky in public: When people who don't know where they're going walk in front of me, especially if they slow down or come to a full stop. I need a shopping cart with a battering ram on the front of it.

Makes me cranky in general: Telemarketing calls.

Pisses me off at home: My downstairs neighbors. My across the hall neighbors. My building next door neighbors. Any time is a good time to play pounding music far louder than it needs to be, apparently.

Pisses me off at work: Kids who are willfully stupid. Like they're proud of their ignorance. Those are the ones who need to be drowned before they grow up.

Pisses me off in general: The proud stupidity of America, it's resistance even to the change it claims to want, and the way politics has so poisoned daily life that no one can politely disagree on anything anymore. The drive in America to judge everyone's lifestyle and make sure everything's okay with absolutely everyone so that no one has privacy and nothing ever gets done anywhere. And that people seem to be okay with it.

Celebrity I hate: Oh, they all piss me off at some point or another.

Music artist I hate: Most of them, it seems like. I really can't narrow it down, but I'm especially annoyed with today's crop of Rob Thomas/Train/Nickelback/Daughtry crap-rock.

I could care less about: People who like something before it gets popular and think that earns them some sort of authenticity as fans of something. All over Tumblr I see "I liked Owl City before they were on the radio" or "I liked Lily Cole for years before she was in The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus" or "I liked Jon Stewart when he was on MTV" and I have to wonder what exactly that's supposed to do for them and for me. What the fuck do I care?

Blogger's habit that annoys you: I hate the way everyone acts like everything on the internet is content with some commercial value. Not always, guys, not always.

Feature on your blog you hate: I hate that I've used up 97% of my picture storage space over the last 5 years.

Movie star you despise: Again, there are too many to name. But Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts are a good place to start.

Politician that you hate: All of them.

Beverage you hate: I don't care for alcohol.

Night Fog

John sent over another great picture of that lamppost.