Thursday, August 28, 2008

Shall I compare thee to a Scrubs episode?

A while ago, I assisted my friend Alicia in writing a epic poem about scrubs for her English II class. Sadly the teacher did not like it (obviously failing to see the true genius of it). To keep this poem alive, and just for laughs, I felt like posting it here. In doing so Alicia can always remember that bad grade she got in English and the fun times it was writing such a literary masterpiece.

Scrubs: The Epic Poem
by Alicia and I

Sacred Heart is the place to be

Turk and JD Loving oh so manly

JD is the white lightning

To Turk's chocolate bearness

They exhibit their guy love

So prideful and fearless

They'll be with each other until they die

Like a black and white chocolate pie

They like their rap music and Eddie Murphy too

If you have a heart attack they might save you

Their love grows everyday

Just accept their new way

Matching bracelets is the way to go

Turk and JD forever fo sho

So don't gossip and stare

It's just Guy love between white lighting and chocolate bear

The Death of Music?

Long has the audiophile waged war against the evil Steve Jobs and his iPod. The poor sound quality? The compressed music? BLASPHEMY!!! At least in the eyes of a audiophile. Audiophiles are, as urban dictionary defines, one who listens to the stereo rather than the music. Perhaps this is true, but one must consider their viewpoint. They figure that quality music=happy ears. This of course leads to happy audiophile and/or selling one's car to purchase a stereo which makes one ears happy. A truly vicious cycle indeed. I for one consider myself a semi-audiophile, or as I like to call it, an audiophile who has no money to buy a $5000 stereo system.

This debate about the quality of music has lead me to ponder deeply about music and its seemingly deep roots in the culture. With this my first thought was "man, new music has sucky sound quality". After reading Rolling Stone, I am glad that I am not the only one who believes that. Many people feel that today's music is just "too damn loud" and they are right. By analyzing the modern songs, Rolling Stone magazine has found that even the loudest rock from back in the day is nothing in compared to loudness. This so called "Loudness War" is meant to make the casual listener of today's music (ie the kid who turns his iPod to full and explodes his cheap plastic white iPod earphones, or the kid who has some crappy computer speakers) pay attention to the blasting sounds coming out and damaging their ears. Try listening to even rock intended to be loud such as Nirvana and compare it to some modern band. There is a distinct noticeable difference. The louder, newer modern music lacks the small nuances that makes the older music much more textured. This is partly due to the mastering of the audio, which like I said before is meant to catch one's attention by blasting out of lower end audio equipment.

After discovering these facts, I proceeded to think about how this shift in listening to music occured. Personally I think that the shift from actually sitting down and listening to music (yes back in the day people actually just sat and listened) vanished due to newer technologies and the speeding up of our society. Just like the railroads of the 1800s that sped up America, portable audio players were perhaps the beginning of the end. Apparently some editors at share my ideas in a way. Steve Guttenburg feels that, "

...when CDs came out people immediately used the format's longer playing times to do other stuff, they were no longer tied to the music and stopped listening. Music was just there, filling up space.

Fast forward to the present and now they don't even have to think about the music they want to play. They hit shuffle and let the iPod program the music. And once music is relegated to the background sound quality is no biggie."

I have had personal experience with this. If anyone has ever played a LP vinyl record (yes they still make them), it completely changes the musical listening experience. An LP gets the listener involved in a way no CD can. There is no track skipping (totally serious here) and in the middle of it you actually have to flip the sides (yes way). This involvement in the actual playing of the music emerges the listener in a much more personal experience that cannot be had with the modern iPod.

Though sound quality and the times have changed, I am glad that we still have music. At least we haven't evolved to the point where all music would sound like this:

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Scanner Darkly

In our society, we tend to try to categorize everything. Personally I think movies and music tend to have the most genres and labels slapped on them. Many people, especially those of the teenage variety, tend to associate people with music they listen to or movies they like. An example of this would be the assumption that someone who likes Cheech and Chong movies does drugs. Even if they do participate in the use of various illegal pharmaceuticals, many seem to judge them before they can get to know them better and find out that they actually do those things. The only good thing about labels is that it lead me to A Scanner Darkly, a 2006 film by Richard Linklater (also director of such great cult classics like Slacker, WAking Life, and Dazed and Confused). The film was introduced to me by someone stating it was a sort of indie stoner film, but it is much more than that.

A Scanner Darkly is not the average limited release film. A Scanner Darkly is a thrilling tale of drug addiction and conspiracy. For an independent film it also has a few heavy hitter actors, including Winona Rider, Keanu Reaves, and Robert Downey Jr. What really separates this film from the norm is the visuals. The entire film has a cartoonish visual that is created by taking every frame of the movie and using a method called rotoscoping. Rotoscoping creates a truly unique feel for the movie and goes very well with the futuristic setting of the movie. Though at some parts of the movie, the graphics feel a bit awkward the director seemed to manage to make it work. The use it to their advantage especially on the drug trip scenes when hallucinations occur. I would urge anyone interested in cult movies or animation to watch the film. The unique style is not easily forgotten and is a good escape from some of the duller more predictable mainstream films that have been coming out in the last few years.