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Archive for the ‘Gripes & Tirades’ Category

Pop Culture Nostalgia: A National Concern

October 29, 2010

I’m gonna strap on this guitar here and just JAM for a second. Feel free to pick up that bass and join in!

Leafing through my “Junk” feed on Google Reader this morning, as I do every morning, I clicked on a post featuring fan-made Star Wars posters. This is pretty standard — the sites I subscribe to means new Star Wars posters pretty much every day — and in most cases, something I look forward to. The Internet has only democratized creativity, to the point where anyone, anywhere can share their work and expect some kind of feedback (even if it’s from a family member). A good thing! But then Glass-Half-Empty Henning perked up, remembered some questionable developments of the past few months, and considered the posters in another context. An ALARMING context. The bullet points came all too quickly:

– Back to the Future celebrating its 25th anniversary with a new Blu-ray release, videogame, and…Playboy spread.
– The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 35 years old, recreated for no real reason on Glee. (Editor’s note: …And it is — shockingly! — still NOT VERY GOOD.)
– The Sound of Music (45!) cast reunited on Oprah. Because that’s just something the people want? Okay.

It only gets worse after the jump!

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BDA: ‘This American Life’ Drives This American Crazy

October 22, 2010

This American LifeWhen you’re behind the wheel of a fuel-efficient hatchback for over 4000 miles and your musical tastes are expansive, but not that expansive, you’ve got only a few options as far as dealing with boredom go. There’s the classic “License Plate” game (46 of 50 states!). Tractor trailer pickle. But no matter what you come up with — no matter how finger-paintingly creative you are — you will eventually (begrudgingly) find yourself turning to the Podcasts menu on your USB-connected iPod. Then thumbing your way down to a little show called This American Life. You’ll listen to an episode. Maybe several. And only afterwards will you arrive at the central issue that’s been unconsciously nagging at you the entire time: you know this is good for you in some weird way…but does it have to be so DOUCHEY?

To be answered in the next part of this post (maybe).

Thank God The Harry Potter World Doesn’t Take Place In America

August 15, 2010

There’s nothing that wasted college kids, retired school teachers, and seven-year-olds love to talk about more than Harry Potter. The endless debates about the death of Dumbledore (sorry, that happens in book five), how hot Emma Watson is, and what house you would be sorted into if you attended Hogwarts will never end. And for good reason. J.K. Rowling has done more than write a handful of children’s novels about magic; she’s created a living, breathing world that exists in movies, merchandising, and now a theme park. The other day, as my mind wandered to the world of muggles, potions, and Butterbeer, I started thinking about what it would be like if the world of Harry Potter was set in the United States. It’s an important distinction that the Potter-verse resides on the other side of the Atlantic, where people have a long history of getting wasted at footy matches civilized behavior and unbridled, worldwide imperialism royal traditions.

People in the United States are lazy. Sure, people in the UK are lazy too, but not on the scale and depth Americans have achieved. As an avid reader of the Harry Potter series several years ago, I would always wonder what my life would be like if I had the ability to practice magic in the confines of my own home. Countless times I imagined saying “Accio Remote!” lying in a state of atrophy, surrounded by Cheetos to no avail. Or shouted “Expecto Patronum!” at a party in hopes of impressing the hot girl in the room with your Elk/Bear/manly animal patronus. This is when I realized that as Americans, we would inevitably use spells and magic solely to make our lives easier than they already are.

Examples of which will be explored with Granger-esque thoroughness after the jump.

YouTube No Longer The People’s Republic of Video?

July 28, 2010

In the last week  I’ve been reading more than I’ve been watching videos. Lord knows, I’m no bookworm: the last book I successfully read before I plugged myself into the Matrix was assigned to me by a teacher. Instead of watching videos, I’ve been reading cease and desist notices, and “content removed by ____”. This past week I had a hard time enjoying videos I’ve come across on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, et al. because it seems as though YouTube is no longer the fountain of free content that I, along with the billions of other people on the web, have come to trust. Exhibit A:

Click for bigger version

Two weeks ago I attended a tremendous concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Kings of Leon did more than just impress me and my set of low expectations, they played a few new songs from a forthcoming album. New material from a band that’s been touring on the legs of a platinum selling album for several years is always worth noting. One track in particular, called “Immortals” was the highlight of the entire set for me. I was excited to upload my first HD video, shot on my new iPhone 4 because the audio quality came out great. Several days after uploading, I received an email and when I tried to visit the video’s page, I saw this (above). Don’t worry, I posted it on Vimeo instead. See below for face melting rock:

As someone who still avidly pays for music, something most of America can no longer say, I am in support of artists’ right to profit as the next 75 year old music industry executive. But let’s consider the facts on this: the song HAS NOT BEEN RELEASED in any form that requires money to obtain. Therefore, all I am doing, by publishing a live video of Kings of Leon KILLING IT on a new track, is providing the band, it’s record label, its management company, etc. FREE publicity at my own expense. If, let’s say, the video becomes popular (not double rainbow popular, but popular), there are hundreds of thousands of people watching a free promotional video of the Kings of Leon doing what they do best. Not to mention if someone sees the video and says “I wasn’t going to go to see Kings of Leon on this tour but if they are playing new material it will definitely be worth it!” You’re welcome, LiveNation/Ticketmaster/Budweiser/t-shirt vendors.

So why such flagrant acts of corporate tyranny these days? Just the other day I went to check out the iPhone 4 vs. EVO videos that have a BestBuy employee in hot water and got a similar message. I’m not surprised by these messages, they’ve always been there every time I went to watch a classic Will Ferrell SNL sketch, but I have definitely been seeing them rear their ugly heads more frequently than usual. These might be glitches in my browser or the Google servers, but if Chrome can’t load embedded YouTube videos on the regular, there’s no hope for anything working correctly. This is just another example of how completely misguided major entertainment companies are in their quest to make a profit off of YouTube. They want  to charge people for something they are accustomed to getting for free, if they can’t charge them for it, they take the content down. Despite what they might think, this is not a business model.

2010 Winter Olympics: Not Boring! (Part FIN)

March 4, 2010

Well, they’re over.

The 2010 Vancouver Games ended on Sunday night not with a dull whisper but with The Marriage Ref a boisterous, nonsensical roar — the most fitting capper possible to a two-week competition that, at every turn, proved more weird and entertaining than it had any right to be. Lifting Fog spent a few days during those two weeks celebrating the people and events that made this happen — see here, here, here, and here — but the Olympics being a HUGE INTERNATIONAL affair, we only really scratched the surface. What did we miss while we were doing keg stands at the Holland Heineken House?

It’s all after the jump!

While Ke$ha Sets Records, Uffie Actually Produces Music Worth Bumping

February 1, 2010

Recently I’ve been exposed to the creative juggernaut that is: Ke$ha. Before you say you’ve never heard of her, stop… you have. And if you haven’t you’re probably someone who still considers the Moody Blues a contemporary artist. In 2010, Ke$ha has already been busy breaking music industry records. I consider this about as impressive/telling as setting a new hi-score in Contra, Paperboy, or any other game on a long outdated medium, but it’s worth noting nonetheless. Just about a week ago, she set the record on Billboard’s Pop Songs radio airplay chart with a mind-numbing 11,224 plays inside of one week. What does this speak less highly of: commercial radio or mankind at large? Let’s pause to digest the magic that enabled the young, blonde artist to become the 12th woman in history to “…send her debut single and album to No. 1 on the Hot 100 and Billboard 200, respectively” (Billboard.com):

Digest that? Let’s move on.

Nintendo: So Many Fans, So Little Time Spent Rewarding Them

October 19, 2009

Wii is Boring

My guess is that by this point in time, anyone still bothering to read the Fog is either looking for porn in the wrong place (sorry!) or a Nintendo geek… or both. In case you haven’t noticed, the Nintendo loyalty around these parts is nothing short of unending. SPOILER ALERT, this post is going to be about Nintendo, but before you 360 whores turn your attention elsewhere, hear me out: this is not a puff piece. In fact, as a dedicated Wii user and longtime Nintendo fan, it breaks my heart to have to write such harsh things about a company I have grown to love over the years. But I’ve gone quiet for too long. Despite containing a market share of nearly double any of its competitors, the Wii platform has done little to stimulate its fan base on any sort of level. What was the best game you played on the Wii? Oh yeah, Twilight Princess… a LAUNCH title.

The Nintendo Wii was released to eager consumers in the prosperous time of 2006 when people still trusted banks and CNN was still a “news” outlet rather than a mere pawn of social networking websites. Yes, those were the days. On that fateful November day, I waited in line in the freezing cold at Walmart with people like this, anxious to get my hands on some new, exciting video game hardware before the rest of the waking world. And boy was it sweet, taking control of Link in an epic, 40+ hour game that I had yearned to play from the time it was promised to be released on the GameCube. But what have you done for me lately, Nintendo?

Not a whole lot, as the post title suggests. Find out exactly how little after the jump!

‘Entourage’ Plot as Boring as its Characters’ Lives

August 3, 2009

Oh how clever those writers at Entourage must have felt when they outlined the plot of this week’s episode. Like some well edjumacated film and television critics, I understand that real art occurs when the plot of a fictional television show transcends the veneer of ‘entertainment’ and manages to convey issues or stories that mimic real world problems or issues, enabling a viewer to connect to a story on a deeply personal level. Like when the writers of White Shadow were able to effectively reflect the absurdity of their own position, writing dialogue for “urban” (read as: black) teens, by depicting the white coach of an all black basketball team as a father figure. This was considered by many as ground breaking television. And now we have this week’s episode of Entourage to consider. (more…)

Hulu Isn’t As Good As It Should Be, Right?

May 21, 2009
Who were the ad wizards that came up with this one?

Who were the ad wizards that came up with this one?

As soon as any new tech wave breaks from the vast, endless sea of start-ups, gadgets, and Twitter trends, I am always the first one to ride. For whatever reason, I was late to the Hulu party but now I’m not quite sure why I bothered RSVPing, let alone attending. Here’s the theory: offer easy-to-use online streaming of popular television shows and movies and support the typical advertising backend with embedded short, socially conscientious promotional material. Man, I have to say, that sounds AWESOME! And now the reality: HULUFAIL. Last night I wanted to watch some quality network television dramatic programming on the internet. To my horror, Kings has yet to post another episode beyond Ep 5: Judgment Day. The wheels in my head began turning: what is a new show I was mildly interested in watching  but missed the premiere of? Joss Whedon’s next attempt at Buffy success, Dollhouse was the first thing that came to mind. And what episodes of the show was Hulu featuring? Episodes 8 – 12. I’m sure I can figure out what’s going on by starting with Episode 8 of a highly complex, sci-fi geek-out show about people who exist in multiple worlds at the same time… oh wait… I can’t, because my IQ isn’t 300.

(It’s closer to 176, but still.) Keep reading!

Kindle 2 Should Warrant the Closing of All Libraries Around the World

April 22, 2009

WARNING: This post may include satire!

Doesnt to kindle mean to burn things?

Doesn't "to kindle" mean "to burn things"?

It’s official, Gadget Gurus and Electronic Book Evangelists. Kindle 2, Amazon.com’s update to their wildly successful electronic book system, has been released and is actually obtainable without long wait times. Finally, the time has come to close every library on the planet to make room for more Amazon shipping facilities. And it’s about time! I’m sick and fucking tired of waiting the maximum 24 hours for my Blu-Rays and vacuum cleaners to ship; I want to enjoy both… NOW. I think we can all agree that the “utility” of libraries has become somewhat diminished with the advent of, I don’t know… the INTERNET. With colleges around the country accepting Wikipedia as a viable bibliographic source (Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1993? He did as soon as I change the entry), it’s time to get rid of all those dusty old book shelves wasting precious warehouse space.

Keep (e-) reading!