Sunday, August 28, 2011

Approximations of Popularity

When I was at BYU I formed what I called the DVD United Order. Basically I made a website with all of my DVDs, categorized by name, genre and rating. Because I love categorizing something fierce. Then I got others to add their DVDs to my list and I entered them on the website. Eventually we had a list of a thousand or so DVDs amongst my friends and ward members. So when you wanted to see a movie you could look on the list and see if someone around you had it, and then you could watch it together or borrow it, or simply judge people for owning Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Which is a horrible example because that movie is great.

It worked well at the time. Everyone lived within a minute of each other and we all had no money. Now my friends are scattered throughout town and we have some means. More importantly, the age of Netflix, torrenting, Blurays and other such modern wonders have rendered this venture obsolete.

But 5 years ago when I moved to Ohio, the idea wasn’t entirely antiquated. I tried to get another DVD United Order started, but was stymied. My bishop gave permission for me to send an email around, but the person in charge of the email list refused to allow it. Now, I don’t agree with her ignoring the bishop’s permission and wielding her limited authority like a cudgel of fun-hatred. But she was right about one thing: my intentions weren’t entirely altruistic.

It’s often seemed odd to me that girls don’t have more movies. Most of the contributors to my DVD United Order were men, though there were select ladies who contributed generously. But in general, men accumulate movie collections and women not nearly so much. Part of this is a certain predilection men have to visual stimuli in general, and film in particular. But part of it is simply about having something wanted.

In every prison movie you’ve ever seen, there’s a guy that can get you whatever contraband you want in prison. Perhaps the most famous example is Red in The Shawshank Redemption. Now admittedly, Red would probably be popular in his own right. But otherwise, these characters become popular/important due to their supply of goods. Providing a service towards others increases their social standing.

I love movies, but I don’t rewatch them overly often. I’d say a great many of my DVDs I’ve only seen once, if at all. Why do I have them? To show to other people. Part of this is to share something that I have enjoyed. But realistically, there’s always been an element of wanting to be Red. Wanting to have something that others want, and forcing an association because of it. It’s never really been intentional, but I think it’s always been there. I find myself wanting to buy things, then realizing I have no real reason to have them. I just think others might want them, and I could be their source.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a movie collection, or that you shouldn’t share what you have. It’s just something that I think we all do. Maybe we collect movies. Maybe we collect board games, that we can’t possibly enjoy independently. Maybe we have coffee table books that are there purely to grab others’ attention. These aren’t bad things, or bad reasons to have things. They may simply be purchases that we subconsciously hoped would lead to human contact. A better course would be to focus on the socializing, and let the purchasing come naturally thereafter. But don’t let MGM know I said that.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ununlikable: Music Monday

Oh blog, my August stats are going to be something terrible. Luckily, I no longer check them. And I'm going to blame the fact that I live in Arizona in August, and living is all that can be expected of me.

One of my strengths in trivia is that I have a pretty good understanding of what is common knowledge, and what is uncommon knowledge. Trivia tends to come right from the boundary of the two. Similarly, I think I'm pretty good at knowing what will be commonly liked, and what will only be appreciated by a niche audience. I'm not using common to say lesser or base, only universal. There are things that most everyone should like pretty well. I'd reccomend Community to most anyone, but Louie to only a select few. I'd reccomend Ender's Game to most anyone, but Clockwork Orange to only a few.

I'm far too late to give you the indie endorsement of Foster the People; I think they're on the radio and even commercials by this point. I saw Fright Night this weekend (niche endorsement to fans of horror comedy) and they popped up in the soundtrack. So if you're at all current with music you've likely heard Pumped Up Kicks. What I would like to say for them is that the whole album is quite good. The songs are all quite varied, which is both good and bad. I like that you can always tell that a song is a Pixies or Offspring or Flaming Lips song. I think having a certain sound is important. Each track on Torches sounds like a different band, whether it be Death Cab or The Eels or Spoon or nearly a dozen others. And while I appreciate the diversity, I do hope they settle on a particular sound by their next album. Anyway, most everyone will like Foster the People.

Another band that most everyone will like is Cults. They've been pretty heavily buzzed over the last year, so if new music is your thing, you probably already know them. But if you don't, you should get to know them. They're fun, and if fairly innocuous, they have a good sound. I'm always a fan of female vocals and the washed out Supremes sound present on most of the tracks is endearing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Another reason I'm not famous

I wouldn't want to work my way through scenes like these:

Indie Cred Revoked

It's very possible that I have no indie cred. I'm a SUV-driving chubby Republican physician, living in the Southwest, who owns approximately zero vintage clothing. But if I do have any indie cred, I may have traded it in last week when I went to a Katy Perry concert.

There are mitigating factors. I went with 3 girls, and I feel most any behavior is validated if you do it with multiple women. I want to say that I went to The Decemberists the next week to balance it out, but sadly I had to work that night so missed the concert. The fact that I was working rather than seeing the Decemberists is probably another strike against me. But the most important mitigator (surprisingly not a word) is that the opening act was Robyn. So in my mind, I went to a Robyn concert and Katy Perry happened to be there.

Robyn is awesome for several reasons. First, she sings pop that isn’t popular, which is my favorite kind of pop. She’s Scandinavian, which is always a plus. She has sweet hair. She sings at least 4 songs about robots. She sang last year at the Nobel ceremony. You’ve got to be doing something right when they ask you to be the entertainment at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Or it could have been because she lives down the street from the convention center.

In any case, Robyn is great, and she was great in concert. It was a short set, but high energy and fun. She dances much like Thom Yorke, ie not at all with the music. Which is odd, considering she is performing the music. But it emphasizes her independent spirit. The audience clearly didn’t understand what was going on, but they clapped politely.

The audience was a major benefit of going to the show. Where else can you see hundreds of people, mostly girls but not entirely, dressed like Katy Perry? How weird would it be to be an artist and have people dress EXACTLY like you at your shows? Some were “run of the mill” with some kooky hair and a wedding veil but there were a surprising number of girls wearing only candy, and whatever adhesive was required to keep it in place. Maybe only sugar. There were a lot of girls dressed for the club, a gaggle of tweens and somewhat disturbing number of kids 4-10. Seriously parents, you suck.

Katy herself was Katy, which is to say, attractive and fairly entertaining. She showed up on stage with spinning pinwheels protruding from her breasts and singing about feeling like a virgin and I had a moment of sadness for her parents. Then I enjoyed the show. It’s ridiculous, frothy nonsense, but it’s fun to hear and fun to watch. She show occasionally devolved into overt weirdness (giant pork chops floating down from the rafters?) but was generally just bright colors, energetic if uninspired dancing and irresistible hooks. Although it detracted from the overall audio quality, it was fun to have the entire audience "singing" along. I didn’t take any pictures or video, as every picture I’ve ever taken from a concert has been complete rubbish, but you can image what it was like. And if you can’t, you can probably get tickets for when she comes to your town.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The most important things I learned today

Things you probably didn’t know about Clue:

Outside of the US, Clue is known as Cluedo. This is a bizarre play on words, as they call it this because ludo is Latin for “I play.” This is not obvious, not entertaining and honestly doesn’t make much sense in the first place. Congratulations on America for changing it to Clue.

The original name was “Murder!” Hey kids, let’s all play Murder!

It was invented in England as a game to play to pass time during air raids. Let’s distract ourselves from the possibility of being killed by playing a game about somebody being killed.

There were originally 10 characters, including Mr. Brown, Mr. Gold, Miss Grey (cat lady?), Mrs. Silver, and Nurse White. The VCR version of the game included M. Brunette (hermaphrodite?), Madame Rose, Sgt Gray and Miss Peach.

Other weapons included in the original: axe (messy), bomb (messier), syringe, poison, shillelagh (I need a better vocabulary) and fireplace poker.

Mr. Green is Reverend Green in some versions. Figures.

A remake of the movie is scheduled for 2013. The director is the guy that made the Pirates movies, which may make you more or less excited at the prospect. He makes movies out of amusement park rides and board games. Originality thy name is not Verbinski.

In 1997 a musical version of Clue started off Broadway. The audience chose cards to determine the ending, meaning there were 216 different versions of the play.

There have been hundreds of versions of Clue, some of the sillier ones including Simpsons, Dungeons and Dragons, Disney, Scooby Doo, Harry Potter, The Office, Seinfeld, 24, Juicy Couture, and Biblical artifacts editions.

The movie made 14 million at the box office. It cost 15 million to make.

There was a British tv series based on Clue in the early 90s. Each season a different cast played the characters, including one British celebrity. But the British threshold for celebrities is pretty low.

Other board games that will soon be movies: Candyland, Monopoly, Ouija and Battleship. The world will end soon after the Battleship movie is released.