Consummate dilettantism!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Review of Arcade Fire's "Funeral"

My word! This album is terrible - ludicrously overhyped. I wanted to like it; I really did. I tried. I listened to all the songs on this stupid album repeatedly, but have yet to find anything of musical value. It's merely cacophonous - none of the songs are melodious in the least, and none have anything that recommends a second listen. The album makes a stab at being "artistic," but the only thing I find at all artistic about this album is that it's suckered so many ostensibly "intelligent" people. Seriously, though, if this album "brings you to tears" or "changes your life" (Jesus Christ...), you've got to get a life. Am I taking stupid pills or something? This guy can't sing! He wails! It's nauseating! LaaaLAaaLAAlalaalALAala...sounds like a dying cat or some barely pubescent 13-year-old. Pretentious discordance is not and will never be "artistic."

The question then arises as to why so many people like this album. I suspect there's a severe case of groupthink - a few well placed people praise the album highly, using such words as "lush" and "beautiful," and what amounts to a placebo effect is created. In other words, people assume the album is supremely fantastic and make sense of the white noise herein, never bothering to check their assumptions or realize that there isn't an ounce of harmony or melody or decent chord progression to be found.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gay Marriage in California

This picture is intensely dramatic and intensely moving. Whatever you think about gay marriage, just have a look.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

While We're at It, No Country for Old Men was Superb

The movie was beautiful. Tommy Lee Jones was such a wistfully sad and pitifully pathetic character. The psychopathic assassin was handsomely witty, his deep, mysterious Spanish accent topping off his darkly macabre performance. "Unstoppable evil" returns in full force indeed; there is nothing anyone can do to stop him and his captive bolt pistol. Gloriously suspenseful and ceaselessly profound, this movie deserved those Oscars.

See, here's the thing: this movie was real and it felt real. Juno felt like a Fisher-Price toy.

Juno is Really Bad

As in nauseatingly bad. There are few movies that are so horrible as to cause me to leave the room, and Juno is one of them. The dialog, especially Juno's, is risibly overdramatic. The acting is likewise terrible. The movie is boring. What are they doing? What is the movie about? Where is the entertainment? Ellen Page just looks and sounds like an absurd caricature of some 1990s caricature of some stupid hippie! I couldn't stand her! Blah blah blah "Sonic Youth" blah blah blah "old horror movies"! Shut up! You sound like a pretentious know-it-all retard! And it wouldn't even be so bad if her interests weren't so stereotypical! It's as though they wanted to make the title character unique by giving her every non-conformist stereotype there is! We get the point!

It's still going on downstairs. I can hear the stupidity and pretentiousness wafting up to my room...

Please excuse me, I have to vomit.

EDIT: Someone agrees with me! Praise the Lord!
I do know that I didn’t like the lead character all too much, with her condescending and smart-alecky comments, and her fast-talking “extremely mature for her age” dialogue. Straight up, man…how many 16-year old girls today know anything about “The Stooges” or rock ‘n roll from the late 70s? This girl was quoting things most people in my generation haven’t even heard of…but someone born in 1992 apparently has smart-ass remarks about Soupy Sales and Franklin Roosevelt ready to go in her back-pocket?? Give me a break.
Most of her dialogue also felt very “written” as in films like HEATHERS, but that type of wording works in a “fantasy” movie in which co-eds are getting killed and such, but this picture was based in reality, so there are only so many of these exchanges (Friend: “So what's the prognosis, Fertile Myrtle? Minus or plus?” Juno: “I don't know. It's not seasoned yet. I'll take some of these. Nope...there it is. The little pink plus sign is so unholy.” Friend: “That ain't no Etch-A-Sketch. This is one doodle that can't be un-did, Homeskillet.”) that one can take before you say to yourself: “You know what…today’s kids just don’t talk this way!!” No surprise, the film’s screenwriter is a 30-year old woman, seemingly trying to write like a 16-year old. Aaaaaaaah! Dialogue issues aside though, I never really got emotionally involved in this film either, seeing as I wasn’t really into the lead character, who despite starting off pretty harsh, did “soften up” a little by the end of the movie (thank God!). I did enjoy the Bateman/Jennifer Garner storyline though (this storyline felt more real) as well as Juno’s rapport with her pops (played by the awesome J.K. Simmons), but unfortunately the film focuses on Juno, who unlike Max Fischer in RUSHMORE, just seemed a little too mature for her age, but more importantly…unrealistic and somewhat annoying.
And another!
But it also has a script, by Diablo Cody, that ties itself in knots striving to be cool enough for the young folks. Every time a character comes out with another up-to-the-minute reference or expression (“Oh my blog!”), “Juno” feels more like Hollywood’s desperate bid for the fickle attention of the YouTube generation.
As if to assure the audience that “Juno” will resemble television shows they already like, the movie begins with a cameo by Rainn Wilson, the nerdy Dwight of “The Office.” Here he plays a prying pharmacist who, as Juno inspects the plus sign on her pregnancy test stick, utters the chastening words, “That’s one doodle that can’t be undid, home skillet.” “Juno” consists not really of dialogue, but of zingers, an endless stream of them. [Thank you! Thank you! - Ed.] When Juno’s parents (the estimable Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons) learn that their daughter is in the family way, Mom immediately deadpans, “I was hoping she was expelled or on hard drugs.” All that’s missing is the laugh track. Characters are reduced to wisecrack delivery systems, and Juno’s part itself resembles a mercilessly extended stand-up routine.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Where Art Thou?

I say to thee, to whom are given
all the joys of earth, I am driven

o'er hills and vales, lakes and seas,
groves and dirt, ground and trees,

that I may find, in all the world,
some glorious message, sign unfurl'd:

"To him awaiting, search no longer,
for it is found: be you stronger!

She seeks thee out, have you no fear,
Stay where you stand, shed nary a tear!"

Alas, however, I know 'tis true
that that which I should ever pursue

must be sought by me and will not come
until I myself be not so mum!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"What's Wrong with Communism Anyway?"

This refrain is disturbingly common. I hear it quite often from people who haven't given the matter much thought. But herein I hope to dispel the common notions that nothing is really wrong with communism, that it is a fairly benign form of government, and that if indeed it has its flaws these are no greater than those of any other form of government. Young people especially tend to suppose that the "hysteria" over communism in the 1950s in this country was at best an exaggerated reaction, stirred up by McCarthyism and bottled and sold as fear, to the rise of the Soviet Union. It's not their fault, really; public school teachers have left them with this assumption and haven't bothered to examine it at all. So what's wrong with communism, anyway?

I. The individual has no power.
Communism as defined by is
a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.
Essentially, then, individuals are not individuals - as they have no private property, they are forced to settle with whatever is provided to them by the "community." They may individually have "votes" as to what is allocated, but their resources are ultimately determined by the majority. Thus is very easy to see the fundamental flaw inherent in communism - it does not guarantee minority rights. If the majority wishes to allocate property only to itself, there is little barring it from doing so. In other words, with the communal ownership of property comes the utter evisceration of individual rights. As we shall see, however, often property is owned not by the "community" but by the state, and thus revealed is the second fundamental flaw of communism.

II. There is no effective check on the power of government.
It becomes difficult under any communist system for the community to decide the allocation of property. A community of all persons in a state cannot create the far-sighted plans necessary to power the vast apparatus of the communist government (the sole employer). As such a task is nearly impossible, then, it is inevitable that there will arise a group of people whose task it is to administer the functions of the state. But the powers of such a group must be unlimited, for this group owns (or allocates) all property. The ownership and allocation of property necessitate economic control of the nation; and as F.A. Hayek has convincingly demonstrated absolute economic control leads to control over individuals (if you cannot choose what to own or how to spend your resources you cannot truly control your life in any real sense). And regardless of whether there is democratic control of leader selection or not, the leaders certainly will not relinquish their unlimited power voluntarily (and they indeed have the power not to do so).

These two flaws together create a hideous concoction, a viciously monstrous state apparatus whose powers are unlimited and which cares nothing for the rights of the individual. It is little wonder, then, that the horrific slaughter perpetrated by communist regimes around the globe has resulted in at least 85 million direct deaths, likely many more. Our human rights record certainly isn't flawless, but this stuff...

Murder is naturally endemic to communism. That number is staggering. (For comparison, the Nazis gassed, shot, or otherwise executed about 10-12 million civilians directly.) The basic point is that whenever a state has unlimited power and does not respect the rights of individuals, it is free to slaughter at will to execute its plans by any means necessary.

(I should also note that this attack on communism is absolutely my own. I haven't read much on this, but I can tell you that there are many, many more reasons why communism is very bad - this is just a brief criticism, and one that is far from exhaustive.)