Monday, April 27, 2009

On the Subject of Music Snobbery

A blog written, rather than a research paper done, or a biology exam studyed for. The bio binder is open, the flash drive is within reach, but...... Well, read on.

Everyone knows a music snob. They are that frustratingly, irritating, higher-than-thou scene kid who asks you what you are listening to. You don't want to answer, because you know that they have ulterior motives than just being curious. But you're polite, you won't just say "None of your business!" and scamper away. So you divulge. And they react without really doing anything. Maybe it's just a syllable. "Oh," They reply. Or maybe it's just a nod and a quick turning away. Either way, they have made you feel like crap without actually doing anything. They haven't said a word against your musical choices, but you know they disapprove. And you may not even like them, but suddenly their opinion really matters.
I hate that.
Music is important to me, but it's really not an important aspect of a human being, their personal music taste. It doesn't make a friendship, relationship, etc etc, any less compatible, except maybe on a long car ride. Even at my most snobbiest, I'm only wondering how on earth you enjoy listening to rap, or anything on the Top 40. I may get a little twinge when I hear a band, especially one I thought I discovered ahead of the crowd, on a television show*, commercial or (do I dare speak it?) MTv**. But I won't stop listening to it. Despite what you may have heard, I am not that fickle, or maybe its just that I don't have the tremendous willpower it takes to just stop liking something because other people do too. I like having people to share interests with. Some things are better enjoyed by all.

So why are people like this? I don't know. (If you came expecting answers, you were woefully misled.) Personally, I like people to know what kind of music I like. It feels like a defining characteristic sometimes. It's not, but still. I wear every other trait on my sleeves, why not that one? So I'll hazard a guess, and say that music snobs like people to know what they like.
Moving on.

Another aspect of music snobbery I dislike, is the need to put everything into lists. Best Albums, Worst Songs, Best Frontmen, Top 5 Bands I'd Go Back in Time to See, it doesn't really matter. My tastes change and shift so often, I just don't understand the impulse to solidify such subjective things.
Lists have no point in the music world. Music is purely subjective and personal. Nobody likes all the same things. So what happens when you make lists? Well, no one agrees with you, someone will always think the Rolling Stones are better than the Beatles, and it all ends in heartbreak. No one really cares that you think Radiohead is the number one band of all time. The only reason they looked at your list, was to see if your tastes agreed with their tastes. Which they don't. Cue discord. So what's the point?

So not only do music snobs what you to know what they like, but they want you to like it too. The irony? Diverse music (music snobs tend to be indie kids, I'm working under that assumption), narrow mindsets. How did that happen?

I think the Animal Collective is insane, but I'd never judge Ali for liking them. (Make fun of, never judge.) I think Hannah Montana and High School Musical is soul-sucking, but I'd never judge Molly and Jesse for liking them. (Make fun of, never judge.) And they'll make fun of me for my tastes. But I share them with them, because they won't judge me. I won't get that vague, uncomfortable feeling when they ask me what I'm listening to, and I hope they will never get it when I ask them.

Can't we all just live in harmony?




Please file this under "things I have no right to be angry about", in the subcategory of "when i should have been doing other things". Thank you.

*Don't judge me, but I once heard Sherwood on Kyle XY.*** It was the first time I'd ever met (well, figuratively) someone else who had heard of Sherwood. (Of course, my high school is pretty music-deprived. We had a big Avril Lavigne epidemic last year. I know a girl who's first favorite band is Avril Lavigne, and second favorite is Def Leppard. Whaaaat?) Anyway, it was a total, "But they're MY band!!" moment.
**Still basking in the glory of new love, I heard the strains of Vampire Weekend's "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" on an MTV commercial. I dropped to my knees and yelled, "NOOOOOO!" and then got back to watching Next.***
***Don't judge me.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Everybody's Gettin' Tasered, Yeah!*

As a calm, cool, collected, and savvy young individual, there are very few things I get really nerdy about.
Now here's my definition of getting nerdy about something. It is not quite the same as being obsessed. It is getting way too wrapped up in the characters, but not pretending that you are them or that you know them, or anything that has to do with fanfiction ever. Don't even get me started. It is knowing characters', places', animals', etc whole histories. Knowing when something happened, who it happened to, who was involved in the happening. Being able to just rattle this off at unexpected times. It is knowing which song is on which album, which event is in which book, which death is in which season. It is watching, reading, listening, etc it religiously when it first comes out, then again when bored or just because of a craving for it. It is having cravings for it.
Now, here are my vices, in no particular order. Harry Potter (probably the biggest and most chronic one), Lost, Heroes, Doctor Who, The Beatles, The White Stripes, Pirates of the Carribbean, The Mighty Boosh.
These are a few of my favorite things. (Sorry, couldn't help it.)

The things I wish to focus on are the television shows, namely Lost and Heroes. I have a very special relationship with them. Basically, they jerk me around, write confusing storylines, don't follow logic, go back and forth through time both literally and with flashbacks, and cause me emotional stress. For my part, I make the vow every week that i am going to stop watching them, and then come crawling back the next week, thereby successfully completing the cycle. But I just have to know what happens.

For the past few weeks, however, I had broken the cycle. Sitting on the tivo was a backlog of about six episodes each of these television series. I hadn't watched them in a month!
Enter my sister, on her spring break, which just so happened to coincide with my own. She was also backed up on her series. But she had the motivation to catch up, and the persuasion to get a companion to catch up with her.
Me.
And thus I was sucked in again. I really do love these shows, and am very excited for the prospect of knowing that when Lost is over, I will have watched it all the way through, not like those people who heard how awesome is was two seasons in and had to marathon watch. But unlike Harry Potter, I don't think I'll be having sad pangs when its over. I'll mostly just be relieved and, hopefully, satisfied. All questions answered. (I'm crossing my fingers.)

Then there's Heroes. The first season? AWESOME. I loved it immediately. Season two was a bit slow, but I stuck with it. It was the first half of season three that really broke my determination. The volume was entitled "Villians" and not wrongly. Suddenly, all my favorite** characters were becoming bad, or losing their powers and then becoming bad out of, I don't know, lack of better things to do. To top it all off, one of my favorite bad guys of all time was getting neglected in light of everyone else's newfound evil.
But I humored my big sister, and watched the new volume with her. Like the fickle viewer I am, I become entangled again, getting much too worked up about it. I cheered when Sylar says lame and ridiculous lines that should not be menacing, but he does it just so, and they totally are. I lament when Claire sends a hot nerd boy to Albequerque to save him and then never goes to visit him. I hate myself a little for it, but secretly, I really love my vices.

I'm not really sure where I was going with this. Maybe I just needed to vent. It's a little sad and pathetic that we as a human race get so worked up about fake things. Television shows, movies, books. These things that have never happened, but we watch intently, brood about, cry about.***
Because there aren't enough interesting things in real life? Maybe it's just that real life isn't as predictable, not as exciting, and definitely not as safe as it is watching action on a screen.
So, how about this for a deal. I'll stop vowing every week that I'm going to stop watching, and instead embrace the part of myself that really needs to know what happens at the end. But I won't ever allow these false realities to take over for my own. I will watch intently as Sylar cuts open another person's head, but I won't go out and do it myself. I will, however, go out and do something. I won't just wait around for the next episode. Promise.

Speaking of, I just watched the new episode of Heroes, and it was Sylartastic. AND I LOVED IT.


*After viewing the first episode of the new volume of Heroes, my sister and I were marvelling on how often the characters were tasering each other. We decided it was so often, that it should be the new theme song. We wrote two verses.
**Coincidentally, I was watching this really dumb, unintentionally hilarious movie on the Sci-Fi channel quite a while ago. It was called Cursed, and this was the moment I realized that Peter from Heroes and Jesse from Gilmore Girls were the same actor. Needless to say, I enjoyed the moment quite a lot. Ahh, crappy sci-fi movies. There's nothing quite like them. I recommend this one.
***I mean, I don't. But, you know, some people might. You know, um, complete wusses. Phh.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Life in a Box is Better Than No Life At All

My favorite class of my senior year, and quite possibly my entire high school career, has been without a doubt AP English. The teacher, the fellow students, the books we read, the movies we watch, the ridiculous and serious conversations we have, and the amount of time we spend trying to learn the dance to "Thriller" are all things that serve to often make 3rd period memorable (and sometimes 5th!).
I could go on and on about how this book has made me think differently, or how that harkness (aka, discussion table) so easily changed my view on a point, or how hysterically I laughed when another student said something absolutely ridiculous. (Examples: "Do you think Ophelia is named that to sound like "Paedophelia?" "No, Mary Tilford is a super baby-genius!" "It isn't as important when old people die as it is when young people die..") Suffice it to say that it's been an enlightening and entertaining class.
But lately we've been making our way through the "Theatre of the Absurd", and existentialist drama. We began with Stoppard's, "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" and are now into the mind-boggling "Waiting for Godot".
"Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" is a play that takes two very small characters from Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and places them in the forefront of their own story. (Hamlet is in it very seldom, which is disappointing if you, like me, discovered you have a crush on him. Whoops. Good night, sweet prince.) It is very absurd, indeed; they fall in and out of Hamlet's story, don't seem to realize what is going on and can't remember what they had for breakfast. It seems so funny at times, like when they are playing a game of Questions, forgetting their own names, or trying to figure out which way the wind is blowing. But delve deeper into the story, and although the characters are still likable and the play a pleasure to read, suddenly it no longer seems so humorous. Ros and Guil are not the masters of their own destiny. They are pawns in the much larger story that is "Hamlet" but can't see that, wrapped up as they are in the plot in which they are the main characters. They can't escape it. "If we happen, just happen to discover or even suspect that our spontaneity is part of their order, all will be lost," Guil says once it begins to dawn on him. They are spokes in a wheel inside a bigger wheel, etc, on and on. Every now and then in their nonsensical dialogue they stumble upon a deeper truth, but it is quickly passed over, or cut short with an odd joke. In Act III, when the two friends realize that their purpose is, quite simply, to die, the play takes its turn from not-so-funny to tragic. "Who would have thought we were so important," they ask, and they still do not realize that they have been disposable all along.
But they accept their deaths peacefully. Ros admits that he's relieved, really, and then disappears. Guil does not even finish his sentence- "Now you see me, now you-" and then he's gone too. They echo a speech Guildenstern gives about death earlier on, "It's just a man failing to reappear, that's all — now you see him, now you don't, that's the only thing that's real: here one minute and gone the next and never coming back — an exit, unobtrusive and unannounced, a disappearance gathering weight as it goes on, until, finally, it is heavy with death."
The tragedy is in the realization the no one is much more than a spoke in a wheel, part of something larger. Inside your own head, it is easy to believe you are the most important. But outside, no one may even be paying you a second mind. I guess that's existentialism for you. I was led very much astray by I Heart Huckabees. I thought existentialism was a fun thing.
I'm only thirty pages into "Waiting for Godot" and whether I'm still feeling the effects of the end of "Ros and Guil", or whether I'm officially corrupted by AP English to look too deeply into things, it already tastes strongly of sadness. Estragon and Vladimer seem tragic characters, waiting and waiting for something they are not even sure will come. They don't know what to do with themselves, they contemplate suicide for lack of anything better to do.
But, as depressing (see: "Death of a Salesmen", Act V: Scene II of "Hamlet", etc) and soul-search-inducing as this English class can often be, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. Not the time someone compared the ending of a book to the ending of Men in Black II. Not all the funny looks we've gotten from Mr. Crowe for singing Come on Eileen or Paradise By The Dashboard Light, or for falling out of our chairs, tripping over things, or taking way too long to write something down. Definitely not when we were doing "Macbeth" and Mr. Crowe opened the door, painstakingly moved all the chairs out of the way, went out into the hallway and ran back in yelling "THE KING IS DEAD!!" to demonstrate how Macduff would have given that news, since we were not reading it with enough emphasis. I would not even give up all the AP review questions.
And especially not the times when someone who is not part of our little tight-knit group (we're all going to prom together...) walks in when we're doing something particularly stupid, and Mr. Crowe says half-exasperated, half-joking,
"Yes, folks. This is the AP class."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Decreasing World Suck

I have a problem.

I mean, besides being in love with Conor Oberst (I just made a giant poster of his face... crap), and besides still being awake at 1 o'clock in the morning when i have to be up at 8 o'clock in the morning, and besides the fact that sometimes when I minimize the internet on my computer it does not go down on the start-bar but rather disappears altogether never to be seen again except for when it randomly pops back when I least expect it.

No, my problem is none of these things.

My problem is www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers

It's no secret that I spend way to much time on YouTube, especially for someone who doesn't even have any videos on it. But there exists a form of blogging called video blogging, or vlogging, and it is actually a really cool idea that I would like to get into if I were at all interesting or eloquent.
But, anyway, the idea behind the vlogbrothers began with "Brotherhood 2.0". This was a project that Hank and John Green (author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns! Author!! This increases the awesomeness of the project SO much! What else increases it, is that I had read the first two books of his before realizing he was a YouTube celebrity, and really liked them) thought up, deciding that for the next year, the two brothers would only be able to participate in textless communication. That means no e-mails, no letters, no text messages. Only the occasional phone call and principally, a video blog. They alternate days, and take off weekends. Sometimes they have to do punishments if they miss a day or accidentally use text to communicate, they can challenge each other to do crazy things such as eat 100 peeps in under 6 minutes.

Pretty cool, right?

Here's what's uncool. This project started over two years ago. That means there are, count 'em, 460 videos that have occurred before I ever heard of it. I've been watching one every now and then when I get a chance, but as I get more and more interested, this threatens to take over the down hours of my spring break and maybe, if I'm not careful, my life.

And this is my problem. I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Serious Questions

Q: Sunday's on the phone to Monday, Tuesday's on the phone to me. Oh yeah.

A: Paul thinks he's Wednesday?



First day of spring break. Awesome.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Few Words On Love and Hate


Now, I don't know much about anything. But I love music, and that sometimes makes you feel like you can explain away the world. You can't obviously, but it's still nice to to spend the time it takes to play an album believing you know everything's place.
This particular mood is brought on by my latest musical obsession: Bright Eyes. I'm late on every band-wagon (Conor Oberst, the main musician of Bright Eyes and my future husband, was born four days after my oldest sister, has been writing songs since he was thirteen, and he is now a lovely 29) but once I'm on it, there is no getting me off. I jumped this particular band-wagon not even very long ago, a few weeks at the most. Late, late, late, I think, what was I waiting for? Where has Conor been all my life?
And then I think about how up until recently, I used to mock Bright Eyes. I refused to listen to the songs, and told everyone who hailed him as the best songwriter since Dylan that he was obviously just an emo whiner and could not possibly measure up to Bobby D. And besides that, in any picture I'd seen of him, he looked as if he was thinking "Oh God, please don't give me another swirly!" The only song I'd heard, "Lover I Don't Have to Love", gave me the heeby-jeebies for reasons that I can't describe, and it still does.
And then, one day, I heard the song, "Easy/Lucky/Free". And the weird part? I liked it. But, I figured, this is a fluke. I was still not a convert. Then, my sister had me listen to the false interview at the end of "An Attempt to Tip the Scales", and then months later when I listened to it again, I happened to listen to the rest of the song. And I liked that too. But I still did not get the message. Later, on a holiday break, that same sister and I were looking up songs we could learn on the guitar. I had rebuked her attempted Bright Eyes come-ons many times, so she was pretty much done trying. But she decided to learn to play "First Day of My Life". And I would sing it, but Aimee's version, because that was the only version I had ever heard. And would you believe it? Still, no fan-girling.
I suppose the real conversion happened after a friend and I started singing "First Day of My Life". I knew the words, but I didn't learn them from Conor Oberst. She referenced another song, I stared blankly. So soon after, I looked up the video, and found it was very sweet, and that I liked the song just as much in a boy's voice (and guess what? I can play it now too). And then I did the math. I like three Bright Eyes songs. Maybe.. just maybe... I should try out some more?
So I got an album ("I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning"). And I loved it. Then I got another, ("Fevers and Mirrors") and I loved that too. And then I filled out my Bright Eyes collection, and here I stand, an entirely changed person.
Now here's the really weird part. My strong feelings towards the music began to stray. I looked up one morning.. and realized I was in love with Conor Oberst. It was a total accident. Last month, I used to think he looked like he should be beat up. Now, suddenly, I see a picture of him and swoon at his apparent innocence, his dark-hair falling in his earnest eyes, his prettiness without trying, and that oh-so-heartbreaking look. And it was not the first time this had happened. As it turned out, in suddenly becoming obsessed with the band, I had accidentally rekindled one of my best friend's interest in it. And then something strange happened to her. She looked up one evening... and realized she was in love with Conor Oberst. We can't explain this phenomenon, although we have decided that it will mean we will go to college and fall in love with fixers; scrawny and pale, dark-haired boys, prettier than us, their emotional baggage out-weighing themselves. And they will break our hearts, but maybe they'll write songs for us along the way.
Dr. House once said, "No, there is not a thin line between love and hate. There is, in fact, a Great Wall of China with armed sentries posted every twenty feet between love and hate." But this strange happening, this refusing to even look at a band only to find out that I actually can't stop listening to it. And you know, maybe I'm just at a different point in my life musically, maybe even if I had begun listening in depth years ago, I still wouldn't have liked it. And then I never would have tried again, having already tried and failed and being influenced by previous judgments, and I would never even write this blog, because I wouldn't have Bright Eyes playing right now, or a picture of Conor Oberst on the background of my mp3 player. Who knows. What I do know, is that it was so easy to cross over from refusing to give the band a chance to listening to it non-stop. It was easy to one day suddenly stop thinking that the musician looked like a whiner, and find him attractive.
So, maybe House is wrong and the bridge between love and hate really is a fine line. Or maybe I'm just a really excellent climber.

Did I say "a few words"? I meant, "a novel".