Monday, March 28, 2016

The Golden Age of Television and me

Hear me well, Internet*: I’m opting out of the “Golden Age of Television.” There are so many television shows, and the quality is great and so forth and so on, but TV is filling up my life, and I don’t know how it got this way. Why do I watch all the shows? Because there are so many good shows? Or I’m just afraid to miss out?

I never used to watch this much TV! When our first son was born, it coincided with the rise of streaming content. We had an 8 p.m. baby curfew and an infinite amount of stuff to watch. And it’s so easy to just… watch.

What bothers me most is this: When I look at my Netflix/Hulu/Amazon viewing history, I feel like I could’ve written the Great American Novel in that time. Several Great American Novels. All the things I could’ve done instead.

I’ll keep the shows I like, but I won’t take on any new shows, thank you, although I appreciate your recommendation. If one of my shows starts to suck I’ll give it an episode or two to right the ship and then I’m done. Eventually I want to get down to, like, one show. If that’s even possible.

Really I want to pare down my media intake in general. I’m not the most savvy consumer, but internet “news” is basically the same ten sites covering the same ten stories ad nauseum. Then there are the lists. And podcasts. And tweets.  I consume tons of “information” each day but only a small percentage of it is actual information.

A lot of people have talked about this subject already, and I’m not saying that anyone else need change their media habits. I am saying that for me personally, I just kind of want to rinse my brain out and remember what it was I used to do before streaming was a thing and I had phone in my hand at all times. Probably nothing special, but I want to remember anyway.

*No one actually cares about my TV manifesto, I just wanted to say “Hear me well.” Felt good.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

That’s Not Music!-“Stressed Out” by twenty one pilots

Installment #2 of my new weekly series "That’s Not Music!": Jaded Dad Reviews Pop Songs

This week's song: “Stressed Out” by twenty one pilots

Writers: Tyler Joseph

Chart Position (as I write this): #3 and holding steady

Amount of Times I’ve Heard This Song (Estimated): twenty one

Instrumentation/Structure: Verse, Pre-chorus, Chorus. And weird instrumentation. Synth-y. The band has a drummer, but I don't think these are real drums? How does that work?

Unforgivable Lyric: “My name's 'Blurryface'”

I guess it is a reference to the rest of the album, which is a "concept" album, and "Blurryface" is a character in it. Weird to reference it in your single, though. But points awarded to this song for being weird. Verses sort of reminiscent of a prepubescent Eminem if he read more books and was less angry, and pre-chorus and chorus that remind me of... Supertramp? Cool that they got it on pop radio.

I like that the song is written by the singer, that's pretty unique for a song on pop radio. Not a fan of Mr. Joseph's verses, though, but one white guy criticizing another white guy's raps is like... silly.

This song relies too heavily on nostalgia to not suck. That being said, I identify so much with the lyric "Wake up, you need to make money." Presumably so do a lot of other folks hence the song's success. Adulthood is the worst. Nailed it, twenty one pilots.

My kids’ opinion: Four-year-old loves it; 18-month-old is indifferent

My opinion: I didn't like it at first but it's grown on me; the uniqueness helped. I don’t change the station.

Other Notes: "twenty one pilots" is a stupid band name, and all lower case? Just, come on. You're from Columbus, man. Stop taking yourselves so seriously.

If you please, leave a comment and let me know what you think about "Stressed Out" or my review.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How does the human race survive?

Does anyone else have to plead with their children to eat and drink? My children fight eating like we’re trying to poison them with battery acid laced with cyanide. Their protests seem to say, “I hear you saying that I need to eat and drink to stay alive, but I’m going to pass.” Without constant begging, pleading, and yelling on the part of my wife and I, these kids would waste away.

I think this is something unique to the human species, and I don’t understand it. Are there picky animals found in nature? You never see a mother lion trying to force her cub to eat, like, “Eeeeeeat the meeeeeeeeeat!” Evolution has all these other species fighting to live and my children seem to fight being alive. Humans clawed their way to the top of the food chain and my kids are blowing it.

Before my children even touch food, they go through the five stages of grief.

  1. Denial: “Surely you don’t mean you want me to eat.”
  2. Anger:  “Why do I have to eat? Why me?”
  3. Bargaining: “If you don’t make me eat, I’ll poop in the potty! I’ll stay in bed! Anything!”
  4. Depression: “I can’t. I can’t even. This food is breaking my heart.”
  5. Acceptance: “Fine! I’ll eat it!”

Only no, they won’t. Once these five stages are complete, then another campaign begins. It goes through the following additional stages.

  • “I’ll put food in my mouth but I won’t chew it.”
  • “I’m going to hold this unchewed food in my mouth indefinitely.”
  • “I can do this all day. Can you, dad?”
  • “OK, I’ve chewed a few times, now back to holding.”
  • “Holding.”
  • “Now I spill the food on the floor and pretend it was an accident.”
  • Cry
  • “Now I cram everything into my mouth to give the illusion that I’ve actually eaten.”
  • Gag
  • Throw up

So that’s every meal for us. It’s exhausting. It’s a war of nutritional attrition and I think we’re losing.

Friday, March 18, 2016

That’s Not Music!-“Hands to Myself” by Selena Gomez

Installment #1 of my new weekly series "That’s Not Music!": Jaded Dad Reviews Pop Songs

This week's song: “Hands to Myself” by Selena Gomez

Writers: Justin Tranter, Julia Michaels, Robin Fredriksson, Mattias Larsson, Max Martin

Chart Position as I write this: #13 and climbing

Amount of Times I’ve Heard This Song (Estimated): One billion

Instrumentation/Structure: Pretty typical radio pop structure. Verse, Prechorus, Chorus. I like that the verses are kind of quiet and sparse and the chorus loud and groovy. Good contrast.

Unforgivable Lyric: “You’re me-ta-phor-i-cal gin and juice”

First, why does she pronounce it that way? It irritates me so. Second, why is your metaphor “gin and juice”? One lazy Snoop Dogg reference does not street cred grant. I guess “juice” sort of rhymes with “you” and “to”? Mostly I think the songwriters needed a certain amount of syllables, and words were kind of a second thought, which is pretty typical, I suppose.

Also, later in the song there are downers and uppers, and breathing stuff in, which would suggest inhalants or smoking marijuana. Pick a metaphor, man! Is this gin and juice OR pills OR huffing paint? Oh, it’s like substance use in general? The whole “our relationship is like a drug” idea has been done to death. Right off the top of my head I can think of: Huey Lewis (“I Want A New Drug”), Ke$ha (“Your Love Is My Drug”), Robert Palmer (“Addicted to Love”), The Weeknd (“Can't Feel My Face”), etc. etc. All better written than this.

My kids’ opinion: They don’t seem to care one way or another.

My opinion: The breathy little girl vocal delivery gives me the creeps, and the lyrics literally hurt me to listen to, but the melodies are strong. At the end of the day it’s pop music, not high art. I don’t change the station.

Other Notes: Who are all the Swedish people writing this song? Not that I have anything against Sweden. They seem to be, like, super-producers.

If you please, leave a comment and let me know what you think about "Hands to Myself" or my review.

“That’s Not Music!”: Jaded Dad Reviews Pop Songs

Me = old
My wife and I can agree on many things, but what music to listen to in the car is not one of them. For example, at one point she said to me, “I understand that Life In General was a watershed album for pop punk and that pop punk music is very important to white people who grew up in the suburbs, but I just can’t listen to it anymore.”

Plus, we always have the kids in the car with us, so we end up listening listen to a lot of Top 40 pop radio in the car. Any swears are edited, no screaming, no abrasive guitars. No fun.

I'm only 34, which I don't consider to be really old, but when I talk about new music I find myself sounding really old.

But this is my life now. I'm gonna start writing (hopefully weekly) about some of the abominations (and pleasant surprises) that have graced my ears and I will call it: “That’s Not Music!”: Jaded Dad Reviews Pop Songs.

Here is the first one.