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Stop Whining About U2

ipodquadI don’t like defending millionaires. But people need to stop complaining about U2.

For all the people angry that content has been automatically included with new technology: did it bother you that Duck Hunt and Super Mario Brothers came with the original Nintendo system? Were you livid when Minesweeper came with Windows?

And for all the youngsters with the clever “what’s a U2” question. Do you think your kids are going to know who Drake is? Time only moves one way. Yes, U2 is an old band with old fans. Your youth will pass and you shall someday be old. Don’t be a dick about being young now and you won’t be bummed out about being old then. When you consider that the only alternative to aging is death it won’t seem so bad.

By the way, the funniest person to complain about U2 being old is Sharon Osbourne, who is married to a 1,000-year-old man who still sings “Crazy Train” at festivals.

For all you oldsters complaining that it’s not punk or metal music: “Kill ‘Em All” is 30 years old. Minor Threat broke up the same year that album was released. Your loud aggressive music is Dad rock. It’s just not in beer commercials yet.

For people complaining that the U2 album is coming up when they set their iTunes to shuffle: you know the big button with the two triangles that point to your right? Try clicking on it. All should be OK with the world.

Just realize how bitterly ironic your online moaning is. You are complaining with the same instrument that caused the situation. The Internet burped and inflates the cultural bubbles that make it possible to be inundated by pop culture without ever encountering U2, the most famous band in the world.

And it’s likely that Internet users created the need for the biggest band in the world to partner with an international mega-corporation to have their music not just heard but also paid for. Every song you’ve ever streamed, bit torrented or youtubed has led to U2 popping up on your music library. Congratulations. Well done. You have stripped music of its monetary value. Now the biggest band in the world can’t rely on selling records. Bravo.

And the Internet insures U2 can never happen again. The weird little band they were in the early 80s would never find traction. They’re hard to twitter. Pitchfork probably wouldn’t give care. They’d never register with American Idol Fans. Their second album was a disappointment so they’d look like a one hit wonder.

So when Metallica puts out their next EP of Misfits covers exclusively on Vine or something, remember it was probably you that put us all in this dumb position.

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The Lighter Side of Cult Deprogramming

vmk4bOcAfter 15 years of living in a cult, the unbreakable and wide-eyed Kimmy (Ellie Kemper, “The Office”) is rescued along with three other women, causing a national sensation that culminates with an appearance on the “Today” show.

That’s the first sentence in a description of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” a TV show NBC is airing this fall. They’re trying to go for a girl against the world thing—they even invoke the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” at the end—but that set-up is so unpleasant that it’s hard to get over.

The first thing I thought of was Ariel Castro, the monster in Cleveland who kidnapped three women and held them captive for over a decade in his home. The second was Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her bedroom at age 14 by a volatile religious zealot.

These are not stories where nice, sitcom-appropriate things happen to women. They are grim and troubling stories of violence and lost innocence.

To be fair, there’s a difference between the famous cases and the situation comedy background. The titular Kimmy Schmidt wasn’t kidnapped; she was in a cult. And cults are funny, right? They’re full of hilarious characters like Jim Jones, David Koresh, Charlie Manson and Warren Jeffs. They do funny stuff like hold armed stand offs with federal agents and committing ritual suicide while wearing Nike sneakers.

I kind of understand the thinking behind this. The star, Ellie Kemper, has a weird, chirpy energy. Her characters in “The Office” and Bridesmaids have been dimwitted and childlike. Stunting her character’s development would let her continue to use that kind of humor.

But the cult membership
is a dark way to arrest her development. I’m sure they’re going to do the TV thing where the cult is weird and silly but not threatening, like they worship a ray of light named Frank and always wear roller skates or something. But it’s still icky and there are probably easier ways to justify her acting like a 12-year-old.

There seems to be a much easier way just sitting there, waiting for the show’s producers to notice. I looked up Ellie Kemper on Wikipedia: she’s from some crazy old money family in St. Louis—her grandmother is the namesake of the city’s Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. Make her a rich girl who’s been coddled all her life and has to learn how to function as an adult when her family’s money unexpectedly runs out.

It’s easy and it dials down the creep factor to just over zero.

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New Song: “Nervous Music For Sexy People”

What if you created your masterpiece and didn’t like it?

That seems an unreasonably pretentious worry to have about a song recorded on free Apple software. But it’s the thought I’m having about “Nervous Music For Sexy People,” the song I posted on Sound cloud Sunday night.

A song that started as an exercising in rewriting Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” became an exercise in dynamics and increasing intensity inspired by DJ Shadow’s “Organ Donor.” The intro has a nice urgency and the song builds steadily. The mood is tense throughout. I like that the chorus power chords evolve from ZZ Top grit into Euro-metal drama. There’s a nice crisp sound overall and there’s nothing too jarringly out of tune or out of time.

It’s probably a verse too long. The kaossilator break might have been a miscalculation. The outro solo storms out of the gate but fizzles before the finish line, but I actually like the effect.

The bigger issue is the lack of a strong hook. The bassline/rhythm guitar part is so busy the melodies I tried to overlay on  it just got lost. I wanted to write a synth part but couldn’t settle on a sound. If I were a better singer I could have just sung something to tie it all together but alas, no.

But obviously I’ve thought about this song too much. I am satisfied with the effort and craft I put into the song but I have no idea if the song is enjoyable.

Anyway, if someone could let me know, I’d appreciate it. All criticism is welcome. Constructive, destructive—have at it.


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This Song Bums me out for all the Right Reasons

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Wes Montgomery, and Maybe we do Live in an Age of Miracle and Wonder

So I googled “Wes Montgomery live,” not really expecting much. And this whole thing popped up. 20 years ago you’d probably only be able to access this when a PBS station played it or you dug into the crates at a college library. Now, you can have it for free, instantly, on a whim.

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So I Spent Two Hours Listening to “Sledgehammer” on Repeat. Am I a Lunatic?

The other day I had to get some shit done. I was alone (the baby was with grandma) so I pulled my old school move of putting a single song on repeat for an hour. It’s a good technique if you’ve never tried it. You forget the song is on after the third time. It stops being a work of art and starts being a propulsive force. Once in a while you hum along. An hour feels like five minutes.

When I started working, “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel was in my head. Since I was on that groove already, and it seemed like a funny 80s movie montage tune, I pulled up Rhapsody and put it on repeat.

Later, I told my wife about my afternoon and she said I picked the worst song in the world for my work lunatic repeat trick.

Would love to get some comments. Am I a lunatic? Was my song choice crazy?

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June 18, 2014 · 8:58 pm

Apple Jacks Off its Earhole

iPhone-5-Bryce-Haymond-Creative-CommonsIf Apple does indeed get rid of headphone jacks on future iPhones, something of minor beauty will be lost.

The universal headphone jack is a rare example of shared technology that allows seamless sharing among otherwise disparate devices. You can buy a set of headphones for $4 and be assured it be compatible with expensive, advanced technology, like professional recording equipment or an airplane.

There’s a rumor that Apple boughtBeats by Dre headphones to replace the headphone jacks on Apple devices with propriety connections. Instead of plugging headphones into the headphone jack, iPhone users will connect them through the “lightning connector.”

The lightning connector currently acts as the charging point of the iPhone. An tech journalist speaking with NPR suggested that merging the power source and headphone jack on an iPhone will someday be a boon to consumers as headphones with features like noise cancellation or EQ boosting will not require batteries.

If you read the article on NPR’s website, the bullshit of the suggestion becomes obvious in the space of two user comments.


But beyond consumer annoyance, this will also have a negative effect on parts of the consumer electronics economy we rarely consider. This will wipe out an entire aisle of every Radio Shack in America. Dollar stores will lose half their tech section. Airport stores will no longer be able to overcharge for offbrand headphones. It will make home audio recording more difficult and expensive.



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