Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Another Election Year

The Republicans are going to lose. This is not opinion, this is fact. I like Ron Paul pretty well, I'll probably vote for him, but he won't win the nomination. He's too far from the Republican establishment. Mitt Romney's too close to the Republican establishment for most people. Plus he's Mormon, and Mormons face a ton of prejudice. Every other Republican candidate's an idiot. It's like the Republican party isn't trying to field a good challenger to Obama. They had McCain last time. It reminds me of 2004. Everyone hated Bush then like everyone hates Obama now. People always hate the incumbent. But every Democrat candidate sucked, so they went with the least worst, Kerry, who nobody hated but nobody liked either. Romney's going to win the nomination because he's got standard Republican views and some connection to reality. But nobody likes him. He's everything the Republicans want to get away from.

Meanwhile, most Obama supporters try to see how annoying they can be. You get the occasional nice liberal, but most of them are snobby assholes. Usually it's the Republicans who hate random people - this time it's the Democrats. I don't want a thing to do with the Democrats. If you're too polite the Democrats mock you. Hell, the Democrats I know mock people more than they offer any solutions. Or they offer their solutions, then mock you if you disagree. Obama doesn't come across like this. What is it about Obama that attracts stuck-up pricks? Ron Paul gets this too, but not as bad as Obama. I have a little respect for most conservatives I know, but none for most liberals. If a conservative says they care about others - and most of them don't - they're honest. If a liberal says they care about others, 9 times out of 10 they only care about themselves. It's a smokescreen.

Everything comes down to idiots vs. assholes. Should I leave my ballot blank this year? Probably not. It's like this every four years. The only reason they put elections in leap years is so we get an extra day of political torture.

EDIT: I'm harsh on here a lot, but this post was harsh even for me. I'm sorry for stereotyping. I saw about five annoying left-wing Facebook posts in a row, got real pissed off, and wrote this post. A lot of Democrats are very nice people who really do care. However, a lot of them aren't. I thought about writing a similar post about conservatives but I decided not to. Once again, I'm sorry.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Maximalist Rock and Minimalist Rock

Zaragon, an Internet music critic, says there are two main "camps" in rock music, maximalism and minimalism. If you got a few minutes, read thru this link from his blog. If you got a bit longer, try this one. These two articles he wrote explain the differences between maximalism and minimalism. If his writing style confuses you, the maximalists build on the basic elements of rock while the minimalists deconstruct them. In short, it's the difference between the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Velvet Underground's The Velvet Underground and Nico. Both albums pushed the boundaries of rock, but they did it in very different ways.

As you can tell, Zaragon's biased toward maximalist bands. I would complain, but most rock critics are biased toward minimalism. I share his bias anyway. Here's his list of minimalist bands:

The Stooges, The Shaggs, The New York Dolls, T.Rex, Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers, Neil Young, Graham Parsons, Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Faust, Can, Patti Smith, The Ramones, Pere Ubu, James Chance & the Contortions, The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Smiths, Wire, Bauhaus, Gang of Four, AC/DC, Nerdvana (sic), Violent Femmes, Suicide, Throbbing Gristle

Most of those are critics' favorites. And he really hates Nirvana. I kind of like them but I won't push the matter either. It's a diverse group but there's something a lot of those artists have in common. A lot of indie fans have that taste. Now look at his list of maximalist bands:

Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Emerson Lake & Palmer, The Who (post-1968), Jethro Tull, Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire, Deep Purple, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, Mike Oldfield, PFM, Tangerine Dream, Magma, Harmonium, Supertramp, Al Stewart, Boz Scaggs, Rupert Holmes, Queen, Electric Light Orchestra, Steve Harley, 10cc, Styx, Kate Bush, The Stranglers, Ultravox, Magazine, Japan, U2, Simple Minds

Most of these are bands critics hate. There's progressive rock, hard rock, jazz-rock/fusion, and the technicolor pop the Beatles launched, along with a handful of new-wavers that critics also hate. And U2. A lot of prog fans like the non-prog artists on this list.

I used to wonder why punks went into singer-songwriter territory and metal bands went into progressive territory. This explains it. Most singer-songwriters are minimalists and most metal is maximalist. With lots of exceptions of course.

Where I disagree with him is he thinks maximalism ended in the 1980s. It's alive and well today. Modern maximalists include: Radiohead, Muse, Coldplay, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Flaming Lips, Blur, Porcupine Tree, Sigur Rós, The Mars Volta, Dream Theater, and Faith No More among many others. Some of these are questionable but so are some of Zaragon's picks.

I like a few minimalists like Kraftwerk and Brian Eno, but most rock artists I like are maximalist. There's more possibility there. There's more emotion. There's more extremes of beauty and ugliness. There's more power. There's a lot more color - the minimalists are so gray-toned. I like complex things better than simple things.

It's a simplistic view of rock music. A lot of artists fit in both categories. A lot fit in neither. But it makes sense to me. And if "maximalist" artists between the mid-60s and mid-80s interest you, check his Rate Your Music page. It includes best album lists for every year from 1967 to 1985. Be warned: He hates modern music. He ignores 99% of everything made after the mid-80s. He dismisses lots of albums solely based on their release date. If you can deal with that, check it out.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Positive stuff?

I want to write more positive stuff. It's hard! Being negative is easy. Being positive is hard. It's easy to bash people and hard to offer solutions. I'm good at bashing people but I never have the answers.

I used to be more positive than I am now. Then I hit my twenties. Most people are jerks in their twenties. Teenagers believe the world can get better. Twentysomethings believe everything sucks and we're screwed. I know teenagers who are so positive about the world. I fear for them. They'll get out in the real world.

Here's an example: A college student decides he wants to make a difference in the world. He's a political liberal with plenty of money. He's part of a "mainline" Christian denomination, the Presbylutherans or something. He's a straight white guy but he's aware of his privilege. He wants to change the world! He wants to end poverty around the world. And the Democrats will do it! If it wasn't for those Republicans the world would be a better place. He won't consider the Republican view on anything. Despite his middle class background, he identifies with the "working class" and their struggles. He graduates from college having never met more than a few working class people. Then...

The economy sucks so he gets a low-paying part-time job. That's all he can afford. He still lives with his parents. His co-workers, most of whom are "working class", look down on him for being from a well-off family. They think he's a snob, which he may be. He's mad at them for voting Republican, shopping at Wal-Mart, driving gas guzzlers, etc. like Stuff White People Like wrote about. They hate him for being holier-than-thou and not enough of a Real Man. Eventually he realizes he doesn't know jack about the world and stops caring. He gives up all political views and barely holds on to his religion. It's easy to have convictions when they're not tested.

That example was not me, but I based it loosely on my experiences. The people at my jobs have always been nice to me regardless of social class. I grew up with very little money. I was a liberal in college but I grew up super-conservative.

I need to be less prejudiced against the working class. There are lots of awesome working-class people. But working-class culture is anti-intellectual. Something your average college Marxist will never admit, because Working Class = Good and Middle Class = Bad. I grew up "working class". Poor people aren't stupid or inferior but the culture tries to keep them that way.

See? I want to be positive, but when I try, I can't! The world's a horrible place and I'm convinced it won't get better. I'm also convinced it won't get any worse.