Kylo Ren’s Lightsaber Combat

I was going to post this as a reply to a Youtuber, but I thought I would make it more visible and permanent.

There are plenty of people who complain about Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens being good at everything. This is to be expected, as it’s a new character with no training suddenly going toe-to-toe with an enemy who is presumed to have great training. So why is Rey the victor in the fight on Starkiller Base?

A sucking abdominal wound that’s still bleeding profusely tends to distract just a tiny bit. This isn’t even to mention the fact that in every lightsaber fight Kylo Ren is seen engaging, he is clearly using a very clumsy and under- or untrained lightsaber combat.

Within the movies, lightsaber combat is, at best, inconsistent. Until TFA, it was assumed that a normal humanoid with no real connection to the force would be unable to wield a lightsaber without losing a limb. TFA clearly shows that anyone can use one, even a washed-out stormtrooper. Kylo Ren, on the other hand, is supposedly a weakly-trained jedi padawan who fell to the dark side through some yet-unspoken means. It’s likely that his training never progressed to lightsaber combat, and that his master is not well-versed in said combat either, thus his relative inexperience with the weapon, as is heavily evidenced by the poorly-constructed nature of his own lightsaber. Not only does Kylo Ren’s lightsaber waver abnormally, but he had to redesign his lightsaber to include vents for excess plasma, leading to a “crossguard”.

So, we have a severely injured, emotionally-conflicted dark padawan wildly swinging his poorly-constructed lightsaber around being defeated by a confident nascent Jedi with significant weapons skills learned over years of personal protection. This isn’t even a first.

Luke’s training on Dagobah was initially exposing him to the ways of the force. He learned about the nature of it and its great power, though he himself didn’t believe. He had nothing in the way of actual lightsaber training before running off, well before his training was over, to Cloud City to rescue his friends. Despite this, he held his own remarkably well against a man who was already understood to be skilled with a lightsaber. Granted, Darth Vader was “more machine than man” at that point, and likely had delayed reactions to typical combat, but he still knew what he was doing far more than Lukedid, or likely ever would.

Kylo Ren was never a master of the lightsaber. He used it largely as an intimidation toward those who didn’t use them. It was likely seen as barbaric and excessively brutish. Every time he’s shown using it, he has little in the way of flair or competence, relying on brute force and the darker emotions involved in accepting the dark side instead.

Despite all this, he was clearly able to outclass a relatively normal human using the force, and generally maintained the upper-hand against an untrained force-sensitive.  Rey is naturaly gifted in many ways, though.  She was able to unwittingly pilot the ancient Millennium Falcon after getting used to the old girl’s eccentricities, was able to glean an understanding of subtle mind-tricks through stories handed down, and realized that she was force-sensitive.  While I hesitate to bring up the prequels, it was stated that the reason Anakin was so good as a pod racer was the fact that he was so strongly force sensitive.  This could easily translate to Rey being extremely talented at whatever she wants to do.  Remember that Luke, a pretty average force-user, was able to fly a relatively-unfamiliar X-Wing with minimal training, and was even able to land the killing blow on the Death Star using his nearly-untrained force abilities. He was also, again, able to hold his ground against a trained lightsaber combatant, his father, relatively well, despite having almost no lightsaber training.

We really have to step away from the EU now, because it makes storytelling nearly-impossible for new writers.  TFA is based almost entirely on movie canon, and not at all on books.  They may borrow ideas from the EU, but Mara Jade and Kyle Katarn do not exist here, nor does Luke’s eventual mastery of the force.  We have a Jedi who is barely trained, finding his own way, and now training new force-sensitives. The complex ways of the Old Republic are now gone, simply relying on the limited training he received from Yoda and the unimpressive support he’d be able to gain from the force ghosts of his father, Yoda and Obi-Wan. Luke would have never experienced a trained lightsaber battle, and probably never learned much about the different forms.He’s going off instinct and a vague idea of what the Jedi stood for to make his new order.

Ultimately, Luke is not the best teacher, and Supreme Leader Snoke doesn’t seem like the purist sith type. Kylo Ren’s ability with a lightsaber is likely to be barely above what the average Stormtrooper might know, and possibly even worse.  Rey developed a martial art style all her own, surviving in the desert against violent, angry competitors, while Finn most certainly was trained in hand-to-hand combat as part of his stormtrooper training. Had he no affinity toward the force, apparently granted by his mother, Kylo Ren would have likely had his ass handed to him by either Finn or Rey, both of whom were proficient in melee combat.  He was beaten by an untrained girl because he was equally untrained.  His form was not dissimilar from Luke’s untrained brute-force wailing in Episodes V and VI. There’s no grace or finesse here, on either side. The force is the only advantage, and it requires some level of concentration, which is easily disrupted when you have a gaping wound in your stomach.

Give The Force Awakens a little credit.  The acting was certainly better than the original movie, they easily mixed practical and CGI effects, and the story isn’t the same as A New Hope.  It has callbacks to the original series, but it is wholly its own, and it stands up well. Starkiller Base is more than just a Death Star on steroids.  It’s an offensive weapon being used against an enemy proactively, rather than as a show of power. Rey is well-aware of the legends of Luke Skywalker an Han Solo, while Luke himself was vaguely aware of the Rebel Alliance and barely knew anything about the Jedi or the force. Jakku is a desert planet with a struggling population, not a dual-sun outer-rim planet ruled by the Hutts.  There were callbacks, but that’s to be expected. They don’t harm the story, and ultimately, the characters are taken in new directions. Is it the best Star Wars movie? Of course not. Is it a fitting sequel to the original trilogy? You bet. It was played very safe, but still did some things that could have ruined it, but it worked very well.  Taken on its own, TFA is an enjoyable movie. It may not be the best out of the series, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad.

Rey winning a lightsaber fight against a powerful force-user who has nearly no real training isn’t that impressive. What is impressive is that the whole scene is very well-done, despite the possible failures.  In the end, it’s the force. Learn to enjoy a movie for what it is, even if it isn’t the most accurate portrayal based on the EU.  That’s the past, and entertaining movies are the future.

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Published in: on April 10, 2016 at 11:49 am  Leave a Comment  

PC vs. Console!

PC gaming and console gaming both have their ups and downs.  With a new generation slowly being drug out to replace the current-gen systems, we’re going to be seeing a lot of improvements in both sides. 

The differences between the two platforms are actually relatively small, but the advantages are fairly strong on both sides.  The same goes for disadvantages.  I’ll try to list the best of both worlds as best I can here and talk a little about how these affect the overall enjoyment and why some people choose one over the other.  So, here’s a simple list, and I’ll explain a few of these things in-depth afterward.

For consoles:

+ Low initial cost
+ Easy operation
+ No hardware or software incompatibility issues
+ Low power usage
+ In-person socially conductive
+ Easy gifting for others
+ Used games and rentals
+ Portability
+ Small shelf space
+ Excellent controls for most types of games

– High unused game cost
– General lack of backward-compatibility
– Competing consoles create exclusives, almost requiring a purchase of all three major players
– All-in-one, few if any user-serviceable parts
– Possible paywall (subscription fee) for additional features
– Poor controls for first-person shooters, many newer RPGs, RTSes, sim games, and anything else that requires precision movement
– Few (if any) options per manufacturer
– Non-upgradeable
– Single-purpose
– Typically lower-quality graphics after a short time

For PCs:

+ Lower upkeep cost
+ Extremely deep sales for digital games
+ Easy organization of games
+ Better online social interaction due to keyboard
+ Gigantic library of games, including emulation
+ Many free games created by indie developers
+ Greater range of control options (X-Box 360 controller works with Windows, plus many other input options, including touch-screens)
+ Budget systems can be built into high-end gaming systems with relative ease
+ Components can be replaced, rather than an entire system being bricked by one small hardware failure
+ Much higher-quality graphics generally
+ Additional game features depend on the game maker, not the system
+ Multiple-function
+ Expandable functions
+ Highly customizable

– Slower to get into a game
– Few if any used games
– Typically high starting cost (mitigated through sales and shopping)
– Higher technical knowledge required
– Compatibility issues, both in hardware and software
– Large wait times for console-exclusives to reach your platform
– Higher expectations by developers, leading to greater system specification necessary
– Greater choice means greater possibility for defect
– Bulky/non-portable
– Fewer AAA exclusives
– Typically high energy-consumption
– Requires an additional monitor, keyboard and mouse, speakers, and generally, a power strip

Now, both platforms are excellent.  Some of the issues with both can be mitigated, while others are simply “there”.  Games for the PC have to be registered, for the most part, and used or rented games are fairly-often damaged these days.

Some consoles are completely compatible with add-on control schemes, even including a keyboard and mouse.  Even the Super Nintendo had a mouse available, but they’re rarer and require a lot of fiddling for systems like the 360.  All the systems have add-ons available, such as third-party controllers, but they’re not necessarily as good as the ones created by the console maker.

Obviously, after some time, most games do go down in price, either for PCs or consoles, but PCs tend to get gigantic discounts, through Steam/Origin sales, Humble Bundles, and GoG sales.  This is partially offset by the fact that consoles are capable of playing used games and rented games, which makes shorter games less of a hassle, and leads to a “try before you buy” sales technique.

PCs certainly do allow for some social gaming in-person, but they’re far more geared toward online or LAN multiplayer, rather than split-screen, since most PC games, including many ports, don’t offer a split-screen play-style.  The advent of the motion control for the Wii, and later Kinect and Move for the 360 and PS3 respectively were all huge advantages for social and active gameplay, even though the Kinect works somewhat well for some PC games.

Exclusives is a hard one to call a true negative, as they exist for PCs as well, but they’re not quite as competitive as the console market.  Obviously, anything that’s an exclusive for one console isn’t likely to hit the PC market very quickly, and some entire game series are blocked for PC, including the Halo series (other than CE) and most Nintendo franchises.  That said, many exclusives do end up being ported to PC eventually, and they’re usually modified for more content and bug fixes.

Upgrading a PC can get expensive, especially for people who want to stay on the “cutting edge” compared to the console market.  Something like the upcoming GTAV will likely require at least a video card update when released for PC, but if played at 720p, no anti-aliasing, low shadow quality, and a few other graphics options turned down, it will likely run just as well on a current PC as it will on the PS3.  Consoles, on the other hand, are a package deal.  The components are basically set in stone, and a bricked console is essentially dead, regardless of what’s wrong with it.  If it’s in the warranty period, it will likely be replaced, but after that, it’s off to the store or Amazon to drop another $200-$300 on a full new system.

That brings up the price for PCs.  Now, the price for a high-end PC can easily exceed $1,000, but that typically includes components that will play games from the futuuuuure at extreme-quality grahpics.  There’s another problem that’s rarely discussed much when it comes to PC gaming, and that is the fact that a large chunk of the price can be ignored by considering the fact that a PC is a typical part of everyone’s life now, and the extreme gaming hardware has to have the base cost of the computer considered as well. Sure, a high-end processor might run $300, but at least $100 of that has to be negated for the core computer itself.  The same goes for memory, hard drives, motherboards, power supplies, mice and keyboards, monitors, speakers, disk drives, and all of that.  Most of those components are absolutely necessary for a basic computer in the first place, and you’re paying a bit more to future-proof it in most cases.  The biggest difference between a decent work/home computer and a gaming computer is the inclusion of a separate video card.

Back in the 90s and earlier, a video card was a nifty addition that would make your games more awesome.  These days, they’re pretty much a requirement for gaming.  A halfway-decent video card can run around $150, with some even breaking the $1,000 barrier.  There are certainly choices there, and that’s part of the problem.  Do you want AMD or nVidia?  What’s the best card for your gaming needs?  Are all those technical specifications really worth anything?  The answer to the last question is: Not particularly.  Yes, higher specs are always nice, but unless you’re trying to play the cutting-edge games with brand-new capabilities added in, a mid-grade card, not overclocked, with no frills will probably run you around $100-$200, depending on just how mind-blowing you want your game experience.  The same goes for powerful CPUs, fast RAM (and lots of it), fancy motherboards, and even gigantic cases.  If you add up the components purely based on the total cost, it starts to sound insane.  A lot of it, however, is the base price for these components, with the higher-end added on.  And i7 or AMD FX sounds expensive, but if you subtract the basic cost of the components, you’re not typically paying that much more for these things.

In the end, consoles are certainly easier to get into.  The technical knowledge to build a PC is fairly high, but it’s not hard to learn.  Used games are a huge boon, but when a year-old game goes on sale for $5, it’s hard to hate that price.

There are advantages and disadvantages for each platform, but it really doesn’t make either better.  It’s all dependent on your preferences and needs.  The term “gaming PC” is fairly meaningless, because any PC can play some games.  In any case, just enjoy what you’re playing.  We’re all gamers, and neither is necessarily better.  It’s just about what you’re looking for in a game experience.

Published in: on September 9, 2013 at 9:59 am  Leave a Comment  

What the Hell, Disney?

First off, let me applaud Disney for the fairly awesome Marvel movies lately.  Though I may disagree with some of the obviously antagonistic choices they’ve made, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has provided many hours of well-done superhero movies.  We’re out of the darkest of ages and into some well-made blockbusters featuring Marvel heroes.  No more Daredevil-type movies.  Sure, there have been some unsure steps along the way, like the questionable decision to make a sequel to Ghost Rider, but that’s mostly out of their hands anyway.  The same goes for the dodgy Spider-Man reboot.  Not that it’s a bad movie, it’s just… way too soon.  Sony’s responsible for those decisions though, so I can’t blame Marvel or Disney.

I’m hoping Fox realizes what bad things they’ve done in the past and reboots Daredevil and Fantastic Four as GOOD movies.  Even X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men 3 are decent movies, if a bit flawed.  The rest is entirely up to Disney/Marvel Studios to not screw up.  I’m looking at you, Guardians of the Galaxy.  You couldn’t have at least gone with the Defenders or even the Great Lakes Avengers first?  Oh well, maybe it will be fun.  Rocket Raccoon should be an… interesting character on-screen.

What I can’t abide by is cancelling excellent cartoon series.  Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Wolverine and the X-Men were both well-done shows that took from both classic and modern continuity, spiced it up with some movie stories, added in classic comic arcs, and even dropped some Ultimate Marvel stuff for flavor.  They both got cancelled way too soon, though.

Now, first off, Wolverine and the X-Men gets a pass because it aired on Nickelodeon.  They don’t get to control what other networks play or pull.  That sucks and I understand it.  Nickelodeon can make its own mistakes, despite my hating it.

Avengers: EMH though?  That aired on Disney XD and online.  As far as I can find, it did quite well and had positive reviews all over the place.  Why would someone cancel a show that was quite positively-reviewed, pleased older fans (bringing them to Disney again), and was probably quite profitable?  I honestly don’t know.  The ratings were even great, it was in a decent time-slot, and it was leading up to more and more excellent arcs.  There are many, many great arcs in Marvel’s history for the Avengers.

I just don’t get it, I guess.

Published in: on September 4, 2013 at 7:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Pop Rocks?

What exactly the hell happened to pop music?  I don’t just mean the commercialization and general lack of talent – That’s been there.  Even pop of the past has been capable of being entertaining, catchy, and consistent.  I’m not even complaining about “kids these days”, in terms of just not getting it.

Now, don’t get me wrong here.  I’m 30, and I understand that I’m just never going to “get” newer music.  I know that I liked stupid crap growing up, including both MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice, simply because they got tied into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles through the most awesome movies ever made.  I also know that new forms of music are scary and unfamiliar to me, but come the hell on.

First, I need to point out that I find Lady Gaga, Psy, and The Lonely Island to not only be quite well-done pop music, but catchy as well, if not enjoyable, in the case of Lonely Island.  What can I say? I like satirical rap, despite hating almost all other rap and hip-hop.  Now that that’s out of the way, what the actual fuck, guys?

Now, I get that some of the stuff we listened to in the 90s, and what my brothers listened to in the 80s, and my parents in the 70s and 60s, was fairly grating on older audiences.  Shrill guitars, overly-happy melodies, insipid and pointless lyrics, weird instrumentation, and the occasional douchebaggery that was associated with pop in the 90s, all of it pretty painful to listen to, simply due to the shame of enjoying it unironically.  That doesn’t really excuse modern pop, though.

Maybe I’m just getting old, but it seems like every single female pop artist today is doing her best to do an extremely bad impersonation of the very worst parts of an Alanis Morissette song, amplified by 11.  I can’t help but notice that in every song I hear blasted over the supermarket PA system has a woman basically yodeling, poorly, while autotuned, over hideously derivative beats.  Now, the derivative and autotuned stuff I can deal with.  That’s certainly not new, and while it’s a little grinding, it’s just part of the factory-made pop we have today.  It’s the high-pitched, grating yodeling I can’t stand.  I won’t subject anyone reading this to the horrors of cracking pop-singer voices, but I will link the hilarious, and far superior goat edition of the worst offender.  Here is Katy Perry’s Fireworks, with goats instead of pubescent voice-cracking.  There are many other examples, but that, to me, is the worst offender of the lot, and it’s still played in supermarkets.  Except Grocery Outlet.  They play music from before I was even a sperm.  I’m okay with that.

That’s not enough though.  Of course not.  Beyond the horrific warbling of giant-chested pop-stars, we have to deal with obvious ripoffs.  Now, don’t get me wrong; this isn’t new.  Vanilla Ice ripped off David Bowie and Freddie Mercury for “Ice Ice Baby”, and the ever-annoying Papa Roach absolutely ripped off Iron Maiden’s “Genghis Khan” for their godawful song “Last Resort”. This is just insane, though.  There’s absolutely no doubt that Train has completely ripped off a goddamn musical for their “50 Ways to Say Goodbye”.  And yes, this is another song I’m subjected to in the grocery store, every time I stop in.

Yes, I noticed this.  No, I don’t generally like musicals.  Why?  Musicals tend to grate on my nerves pretty heavily.  Why did I immediately recognize this ripoff?  Because for some strange reason, metal bands love it.  Iron Maiden loves it. Nightwish loves it.  Iced Earth loves it.  I don’t get the obsession.  Even the damn Chipmunks got into it!  No, I can’t find the video for that on Youtube.  Thank me for that.

Regardless, this is a song that is in the public consciousness.  I can’t imagine that even 12-year-olds are unaware of the melody of at least the title song of that musical.  How did these guys think they could get away with ripping off the melody of such a well-known song without being called on it?  I don’t know how to segue this one, so I’ll just say that such a ripoff makes your ass look horrible.

Oh, you know what else looks horrible, considering that godawful, completely uninspired segue?  That’s right, I’m actually joining the mob and commenting on Miley Cyrus’ ass during the VMAs.  Did I watch the VMAs?  Jesus no.  Did Reddit show me the worst part of it?  You damn well know it.  Here I am bracing myself for some general pop-star sluttiness and overall enjoyable-with-the-sound-off gyration, but am instead subjected to a pair of singers who seem to have abandoned all hope of being capable of live performance.  Cyrus wiggles in with these horrifying teddy bears and kinda sexy backup dancers, getting me all hot and bothered, then she jumps out in what I can only describe as “Jesus, did you blow your wardrobe money on meth and male hookers?”  It was bad enough while she had a shred of her dignity intact, but then she started stripping off the horrible clothing.

Somehow, it managed to get worse.  Let me point out that, despite absolutely despising tattoos, Lady Gaga was far sexier by comparison at the VMAs.  Nice backside, toned body, and clothes that worked for her.  Miley Cyrus looked like a pound of chicken squeezed into a Ziplock snack bag.  She stuck her tongue out like she thought it was a mating call, and wagged her ass like a cat in heat.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  If I saw someone like Scarlett Johannsen making these moves in her Avengers leather outfit, I would have been cheering.  This, however, was beyond unsexy.  The bottom of her ass cheeks hung out the bottom of the latex underwear like a poorly-packed sausage, and there was nothing sexy about this show.  That said, it wasn’t really that disappointing.  Female pop stars have made plenty of mistakes, including the once-admirable Janet Jackson revealing her horrifying, pierced breast on national television, but this was just painful to watch.  Honestly though, the most grating part came after Miley’s strange wiggle-routine got through the first act.

I wasn’t offended by this horrific mess.  It was like watching an episode of Cops, which is always fun, because I enjoy schadenfreude.  What came next was actually somewhat offensive, though.  No, not the gyrating and thrusting.  On a better person, that would have just been kinda hot and fun to watch.  No, the part that *really* made me groan was the performance provided by Miley and her “dance partner”, Robin Thicke.  Thicke isn’t a 19-year-old kid starting his career.  Indeed, Thicke is 6 years older than me,and fairly experienced in the industry at this point, I’d assume.  While I can’t stand his musical style, he has vocal talent.  That, however, did not show in the clip I watched.  I saw a hideously malformed caricature of a female form grinding against Beetlejuice, while they both warbled completely off-key in front of a panicked audience.

I’ve seen people try to justify this terrible phoned-in travesty, saying “well, it’s the VMAs.  It’s not about the music – It’s about the image”.  I call bullshit on that.  Those are not mutually-exclusive goals.  I don’t care for Lady Gaga, but just to compare, I checked out her performance at the same show.  She sang a goofy song dismissing her critics, stripping from a very bulky outfit down to a bikini, while apparently singing quite well the whole time.  She had that tiny bit of bluesy voice added to her standard pop-singing sound.  Again, not my thing, but damn, I cannot deny her talent in this case.  She even got pre-recorded “boos” to accompany her.  In any case, she put on a fairly spectacular show that I can admit, while i’m not all that attracted, was pretty sexy for the modern generation.  All the while, she hit every note perfectly.

Now, maybe Gaga used pre-recorded material or some kind of auto-tune, but that’s not exactly an excuse for Cyrus and Thicke.  They’re pop stars.  Nobody expects them to be singing perfectly.  For a normal live show, I can see them putting forth a sub-standard vocal performance, due to being tired or sick, but this is the fucking VMAs. If there’s a point where people should expect a “best performance” out of a modern over-produced pop-star, it would be at the VMAs.

Again, Gaga, despite her annoying, catchy tunes, put on a spectacular show for her audience.  Her stage show was well-done, her singing was either pre-recorded or done extremely-well live, and she presented something worthwhile for the kajillions in ad-revenue that event gathered.  I admit, I didn’t expect that much from Thicke, since he’s another in the long line of white-friendly latin music, but Cyrus?  Sure, she’s not amazing, but she can certainly sing.  Yes, that’s likely incredibly over-processed, but really, is there an excuse with all the live-performance help available for this multi-million-dollar event?  After all, this is a studio-style video, but what about her doing the same damn song, live, with the original performer?  You know what?  I can’t trash on her singing with Dolly on the very live version.  She kept up with the female country singer on her own territory.  Sure, she pulled the bullshit random note warbling, but it was well-done.

So, honestly… What. The. Fuck. Happened?  We get it, Miley.  You’re not Radio Disney anymore.  You’re not a little girl, and you want to show off your flapjack ass.  Why does that mean you can’t sing well anymore?!

Anyway, this is a lot of crazy ranting.  I don’t care for the popification of country to begin with, but Miley had a voice.  Train could have come up with something slightly less obvious of a rip-off.  Katy Perry could hold back on the horrifying screeching.  I wouldn’t complain about this, but I can’t escape it anymore.  I don’t listen to music radio stations anymore.  I don’t even tune in to the rock stations if I can help it, because I get tired of hearing Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”, but there’s no escaping this garbage anymore.  With XM/Sirius, there are thousands of wonderful choices.  There’s even an Elvis station if necessary, yet almost every store pipes in canned music of modern shrill pop music non-stop.  I can’t escape high-pitched music, and I’ll be honest: This isn’t helping the store.

A bit of a tangent at this point, but I need to make it clear that putting music over the PA speakers in a store has a purpose: Getting shoppers to relax and spend more time walking through the aisles.  Obviously, the store has little control over the woman with the constantly screaming baby, but they do have control over what they play for music.  A nice, slow, smooth song will lull shoppers into walking slowly and exploring the aisles.  Most people in grocery stores are probably in their 20s at the youngest, but more likely their 30s.  We’re not too keen on modern pop, and it’s really distracting and annoying.  Throw some “All Star” by Smash Mouth or “I Will Buy you a New Life” by Everclear on there.  They’re slow, boring, mindless, and, for most shoppers, very nostalgic.  That’s the kind of thing that will get shoppers to sing along, or at least revel in the memories of school, making them walk slower, filled with endorphins.

Thus, I think I’ve come full-circle, bringing things back to the topic-at-hand. Both Smash Mouth and Everclear were annoyingly catchy, nothing I’d listen to relax to, but they were soothing.  It’s not just a nostalgia thing, either.  Most popular music in the 70s was aggressive and horrible to relax to, unless you’re under the influence of something fairly strong.  the 80s was full of cheesy electronic music, much of which was dark and depressing, while the 60s had some extremely positive-sounding music.  Again, I’m 30, but I think that the 60s and the 90s had the best “get you happy” music.  I don’t hate depressing music.  I actually like it if it’s deep and thoughtful.  I just don’t understand the prevalence of discordant, unmusical songs with shrill women screaming at you for four minutes when you’re trying to buy soy sauce and Maypo.

I know, it’s a pretty petty complaint, and one that will never be addressed, but I needed to rant.  Pop has become something ridiculous, and there’s just so little redeeming about most of it these days.  As I said before, Lady Gaga, while not my thing, is well-done pop music.  Some of the dubstep is nicely-done for repetitive electronic music, and there’s a ton of funny comedy music available now.  I just don’t get why something like Miley Cyrus’ phoned-in, poorly-done performance is acceptable, when we have so much technology to fix flaws.

I don’t expect pop artists to play their own instruments.  I don’t even really think they need to be completely original, but for God’s sake, mix up your musical theft a bit.  And when it comes to being a pop-star who only sings, at least get that part right.

Published in: on August 29, 2013 at 9:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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Microsoft, Get Your House in Order!

Oh, hi there, Microsoft. Avid fan and supporter here.  For once, I’m not writing someone to whine about personal slights, but rather to speak in a rather befuddled manner, questioning your sanity.  I fear for your future, Microsoft, and I’m sure you know why already.  Your OSes, business practices, and even your new console are kinda confusing us all right now.

First off, to be clear, I only own an original X-Box.  The idea of buying something for $300 that will likely brick itself right after the warranty is up never really appealed to me.  “Red Ring of Doom” indeed.  Honestly, I don’t think that was entirely your fault though.  Not only did the 360 get more press coverage over its hardware failures than your competitors’ entries, but it was kind enough to very clearly show that it’s failed.

(more…)

Published in: on June 9, 2013 at 5:38 am  Leave a Comment  

AT&T and Comcast: You Owe Me (LOTS)

Dear AT&T and Comcast, as well as other local oligopolies in charge of internet service for my local area: You’ve been paid in full, and it’s well past time for you to deliver the goods you’ve taken payment for.

What am I talking about?  Why, the billions of dollars in subsidies you’ve received from governments, both federal and local, to roll out greater connectivity to rural internet customers.  We are getting shafted by your absence, very badly.  I currently have a 1.5 megabit connection that costs $40 a month.  We get a grand total of 50 gigabytes of bandwidth.  This is the kind of service that even the Australians refuse to deal with.

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Published in: on June 6, 2013 at 7:01 am  Leave a Comment  

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means

So, as is my addiction, I was looking around on TVTropes, just reading random articles, when I came across this little gem: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RickRoll Yes, it’s a discussion about the “Rickroll” phenomenon.  In the article, there’s a link to a mash-up between the well-known “Rickroll” vocals and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.  Somewhat underwhelming, in my opinion, but it works.  Why does it work?  The poster claims it’s simply because the songs are inexplicably in the same time signature.

Considering that a statistically insignificant number of pop and rock songs are written in anything other than 4/4 time, there’s absolutely nothing surprising about the fact that both songs are written in the same time signature.  For the boring technical details, simply know that time signature refers to the number of beats in a bar and what note constitutes a ‘beat”.  Western music in general is written in 4/4, meaning four beats per measure, and a quarter note equals a beat.  It works.  It’s easier to be catchy, and it seems to be a great way to keep track of where you are in a song.  That’s why most western music uses either 4/4 or 3/4 (which sounds “waltzy” to most people), but pop is typically in 4/4.

Now, what could make it more dramatic is the fact that both songs use the same number of measures for each verse and chorus, if it weren’t for the fact that that’s pretty standard too.  Frankly, what’s almost surprising is that two popular hits actually weren’t in the same key.  The mash-up, frankly, sounds terrible, due to the disparate key signatures of the two songs.  If two songs are written in, for example,the key of E (probably the most common key for rock and pop, since 6-string guitars and 4-string basses are tuned to E by default), 4/4 time, and contain the standard verse/chorus/bridge arrangement, it’s pretty easy to mash them together.  Some speeding up or down is sometimes required, since tempo is one of those things that isn’t as natural as key signatures and time signatures, but many songs tend to default to around 95bpm.

Does this mean it’s not pretty cool to do a mash-up without it sounding like absolute crap?  Not at all.  It’s just not that impressive when the original songs are pretty standard.  Even less so when the songs maintain the same time signature, key, and tempo throughout.  From personal experience, a sudden change in time signature alone can really throw off lyrics written for the song.

Published in: on March 14, 2012 at 10:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Food Important Though

This isn’t going to be funny or weird.  This is going to be pure venom-spewed hate and anger.  This isn’t going to be right-wing vitriol and constitutionality, this is going to be me being pissed off at certain people that I see as complete assholes.  You’ve been warned.  If you’re looking for pure hilarity and entertainment, go back an article and check it out.  Better yet; go back two.  The last one was weak.  Anyway, first the picture, then the break.

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Published in: on July 9, 2011 at 9:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Bow Down

Okay, this is pretty old news, but I still have to chime in on it.  A while back, President Obama was filmed bowing to both the Queen of England and a Saudi King.  The right made a huge deal over it and the left excused it as politeness.  I’m going to go with the “honest mistake” route, because, well, fuck both the left and right.

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Published in: on July 7, 2011 at 11:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Top 6 Stupid Trends (That Aren’t That Stupid)

I’m 28 years old.  I’ve seen a lot of idiotic consumer trends through the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s.  Farting Hondas that can’t outpace a stock Camaro, neon everything, “organic” foods, goofy movies based on slightly less goofy TV shows, a resurgence of zoot suits, rat tails (guilty), and taking pictures of boxes, desaturating them, and writing something in Helvetica on them.  There have always been stupid trends.  There was a time when slicking your hair back with grease was cool.  After the hundred or so years of stupid trends, there were very few that were actually good, and the modern age is no exception.  Trends like… (more…)

Published in: on July 5, 2011 at 12:52 am  Leave a Comment