Category Archives: Opinions/Rants

Moontower > ACL + SXSW

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Austinites have a love-hate relationship with festivals. Most people who live here hate them because they don’t attend them, and it causes traffic problems and closes roads, and denies them access to their own city. A smaller percentage attends the festival, and either has a great time or has a terrible experience.

After living in Austin the last four years, I finally understand all of these perspectives. I attended ACL last year (I’ll make a post about that another time), and got very ill from being caught in the rain. I will never attend ACL again. Okay, maybe for one day if a band I really like is playing. I would rather watch the livestream, thanks!

SXSW is a hassle. I can’t get time off during SXSW because it’s busy season at my office. If I do get a day off, it’s a pain to take the bus downtown, fight the crowds, look out for drunk bros and drunk basic bitches and keep my sanity. Because SXSW is held during spring break, I’d say over half of the crowd is just there to scam free booze and food, and doesn’t care about the music. I’m a serious music fan and it drives me nuts when people are chatting during a show.  It’s already a huge problem in Austin, but is 100 times worse during SXSW. I might not even do SXSW at all next year, or if I do, I’ll keep away from the 6th Street, Rainey Street and Red River areas.

Moontower Comedy Festival is the BEST festival in Austin, hands down. Maybe it’s because this was only the third year of the festival, so it hasn’t been overrun by giant Doritos vending machines, drunk frat boys and sorority girls, and people who are only there to be seen. I’ve been to Moontower every year, but this was the first year I had a badge.

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 I’d never pony up the money for a SXSW badge. There’s so many free parties, it’s not worth it. The Moontower ACE badge is totally worth it. Not only can you attend any of the comedy shows around town for free, you get tickets for four shows at the Paramount. The cost of four shows at the Paramount is more than the price of the badge, so you’re already ahead. The best part of the Moontower badge is that YOU GET FREE PARKING DOWNTOWN. That’s right – free parking. FREE PARKING! For four nights! What is this madness?

At ACL, I walked two miles to my car in the rain and got sick. At SXSW, I took the bus and had to wait in the rain (it only rains during festivals) for the bus. Free parking is like a golden ticket.

Even if I had to pay for parking, it wouldn’t matter. Moontower is still the best! I saw over 30 comedians in four days. When I went to ACL, I think I saw less than 10 bands in two days (it was rained out for the third day). I got to sit down and enjoy the shows at Moontower in air conditioned bars. At ACL, it was so hot we didn’t even go until evening. At Moontower, I was handed a ticket to see four headliners, and was given orchestra seating without waiting in line. At ACL, if I wanted a good spot for the headliner, I had to get there an hour early and ended up missing other bands I wanted to see.

Kids in the Hall wear wedding dresses

 The vibe at Moontower is really laid back. I was walking around downtown and spotted Bruce and Scott from Kids in the Hall, enjoying themselves and not being bothered by fans too much. I went to get a burger at Wholly Cow and ended up seeing Mark and Dave from KITH, as well as Brody Stevens. I almost had a nervous breakdown but they did end up taking a photo with me, and they were really nice. No one is rolling VIP (or even VVIP) with an entourage at Moontower.

The quality of the entertainment was amazing. I laughed so hard that my ribs actually ached for a couple of days afterward. Some of  the shows I saw were Kids in the Hall, Maria Bamford, Hannibal Buress, Andy Kindler, Brody Stevens, James Adomian, Rory Scovel, Bobcat Goldthwait, Ari Shaffir, and on and on and on! The most unique act that I saw was Puddles the Pity Party Clown. You’ve just gotta see it to believe it, so I’m adding a You Tube clip at the end of this post. If you see Puddles around, give him a hug. He’s a good hugger.

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I will definitely be attending Moontower next year. A wonderful experience from start to finish.(And no, this is not a paid endorsement!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Netflix vs. Entitlement

Since one of my regular features on this blog is my Netflix Instant Pick, I felt obliged to weigh in on the Netflix pricing controversy. 

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 24 hours, Netflix raised its prices yesterday. I was previously enrolled in the package that lets you stream as much as you want, and borrow one DVD at a time. The old price was around ten dollars a month, and now I’ll be paying another $6 a month for the same service.

As you can imagine, customers took to the Internet to complain. The topic #DearNetflix was trending on Twitter most of the day yesterday. Maybe it still is, but I haven’t had time to take a look and see. If you’re feeling brave, you can click here to read the complaints.

Maybe it’s just because I’m an old fogey, but I wasn’t mad the price increase. I think the reason I wasn’t angry is that the day before prices went up, I saw this article on CNN that discussed the upcoming contract renewals for Netflix’s licensing of streaming content. After reading that article, I was worried that Netflix would be unable to generate enough revenue to keep the movies that were already available for streaming, let alone add new ones. Once I read that article, I knew that price hikes were inevitable.

I know that there are other options besides Netflix streaming, such as Hulu Plus, Apple TV, and just plain old piracy. However, I don’t own a laptop or an iPad, and I hate watching TV and movies on my computer while sitting at my desk. I prefer seeing them on my HDTV while sitting on my couch with my neurotic cat. (She hates it when I am sitting at the computer, because then she can’t get attention from me.)

I don’t think that Netflix is too costly, anyway. I remember last summer when I first moved to Austin from Phoenix, I didn’t have Netflix at first. I was going through a phase where I was obsessed with getting caught up on the TV show Fringe, so I went to the local Blockbuster. I rented 3 DVD’s and it cost me FIFTEEN dollars! After that gouging, I found out that Netflix was much cheaper at ten dollars a month. I’m not upset about paying fifteen dollars a month for unlimited DVD’s and streaming. It’s a small price to pay and there are no late fees.

Of course, to today’s entitled gotta-have-it-now generation, paying for music, movies and TV is an unheard of horror. Yes, you can pirate everything if you’re determined not to pay for it. I’ve seen with the music industry how things can end up when piracy takes over, so I pay for all of my music. I don’t want the same thing happen to the movie studios.

If you want to blame anyone for being “greedy” you should blame the studios who are asking Netflix to pay them more money so that they can license their content. Netflix is not the one who asked for more money, the studios are. And if you were surprised that this happened, then you are in for a shock if you ever leave your house, because apparently you live in a bubble. 

If you compare the price of Netflix to the cost of going to the movies, renting videos elsewhere, or renting/streaming movies on iTunes or Amazon, you will soon see what a bargain it is.  Yes, it’s STILL a bargain.  Stop whining and take a minute to think about the fact that if you are complaining about this, you’re probably living in a fantasy world.  Everything has a price, and the cost of Netflix is still less than one night out at the movies, for the most part.

The problem with turntable.fm

Have you crazy kids tried turntable.fm? It’s the latest music streaming website, but it’s interactive! The idea is that you and your friends are in a virtual club, and you can DJ music while your friend’s avatars bop their heads to the beat.

Doesn’t that sound amazing? Doesn’t that sound like so much fun?

I love to make playlists and I used to have one of “those” mp3 music blogs a few years ago. Sharing new music or just making a playlist is one of my favorite things, and I even consider it to be my superpower.  Naturally, when I heard about this new website, I immediately joined and started exploring.

I only joined a few days ago, and I’m already giving up on it.  First of all, I should say that you can only join turntable.fm if you have a Facebook friend that is already a member.  I’m sure anyone hip enough to read this blog is hip enough to get into the site.  Am I right?

Actually that is the problem with the site.  Everyone who is a member is a snooty hipster and won’t let anyone else play.  The only room that a newbie has a remote chance of DJing in is a room like “Play 3 and Step Down”, where there is an orderly queue of people waiting to DJ their 3 songs.  Most of the time you have to wait for over an hour to get a chance to play songs, though.  If you just want to stream your choice of songs, you can’t create your own room and play by yourself, because you have to have two DJ’s in order to hear anything besides a sample.

If you can’t DJ, you can’t earn points and change your avatar to a Deadmau5 or other fun stuff.  Also it’s just fun to DJ and see everyone enjoying the song, or to get a chat message that you made a cool choice.  A DJ also can earn “fans” which is validation of uber-hipster coolness.

Maybe it’s because I am not an aggressive person, but I can’t get in to a DJ booth to save my life.  I am a very impatient person and I hate waiting around for someone to leave.  I don’t have hours and hours to spend in the turntable rooms waiting for the unlikely moment that someone will step down and actually let me play some songs.

In a moment of desperation, I made my own room tonight, and only one of my friends took pity on me and came in to listen.

Either everyone who reads this blog needs to join turntable, and become my “fan” (DJ name: mekkalekkah), or I should just forget turntable.fm and move on with my life.

I leave it to you, dear reader, to decide my fate.  THIS IS SO IMPORTANT YOU GUYS.

No, no, I’m just kidding – but I would like to know if anyone reading this post has used the site, and what their experiences have been.

Postscript:

While I was writing this post, a bunch of people came into the room I created and now I feel all better.  I’m still posting this though!  So there.

Singers who can’t sing

Why do aging hippies and young hipsters love singers who cannot sing?  Sometimes it’s charming to hear someone singing in a non-conventional way, but most times we just need to face facts and admit to ourselves that there are some people who should not be recording songs.

I am about to utter some thoughts I have held for a long time which will shock and dismay many of you.  Yet I feel it’s time to say it.  I can’t hold it in any longer.

These three rock stars are beloved by many, and revered by a few, and barely tolerated by me.

1.  Bob Dylan

I suppose it’s actually become pretty commonly known that Bob is a mush-mouthed mumbling whiny horrible singer.  Really he’s not much worse than he was as a young man.  There are a few songs of his that I enjoy, and I did like the Traveling Wilburys project too.  However, over 80% of his back catalogue is unlistenable whiny bullcrap.  I don’t care how good his lyrics are.  If his lyrics are so good then he should just publish books of poetry and hire someone else to sing them.

Evidence:

Whiny, pitchy, and intolerable, it just plods along while you slowly die.

Here is a cover by Jimi Hendrix:

Suddenly this is a SONG, with some kind of purpose and sung by someone who has emotions and feeling.  You can finally understand the story Dylan wanted to tell.

2.  Lou Reed

Oh, God, how can anyone listen to Lou Reed and enjoy it?  The man is one of the worst singers of all time.  Do I really have to say why?  Listen to him and you will know pain.  Why can’t anyone just come out and admit it?  Why does everyone pretend he is some sort of musician?  He’s not.  He is the most pretentious sack of crap that ever lived, and he proved it by marrying Laurie Anderson, who’s another one of those singers who just talks and makes noise.

Again, this is someone who has some great songs in his back catalogue but he needs someone else to sing them and make them something that humans can enjoy.

Evidence:

Note that this You Tube clip says “Best Live Version”.  If this is the best, I never want to hear the worst.  I get itchy just thinking about Lou Reed’s voice.  He makes me want to smash things.

In contrast, here is a cover of the same song by a band that made it into something beautiful and heartbreaking:

3.  Iggy Pop

I don’t hate every single Iggy Pop song, but when I hear someone cover one of his songs I realize how much better the covers are.  Iggy is an amazing performer and a compelling figure, but his vocal chops aren’t the best.  He’s legendary for many things – none of them are his singing voice.

I can’t hate on Iggy too much, because he is an interesting guy and seems like he is nice and fun to be around.  I love him in the John Waters’ movies, but I really don’t enjoy hearing him sing.

Evidence:

You can tell that this song has potential, but the vocals are so muddled and fuzzy you can’t really appreciate what you’re hearing.  It’s like a block of stone that has the potential to be a great sculpture.

I’m sure that everyone reading this has heard David Bowie’s cover of this song.  Bowie polished it up and made it into a pop gem.  He added some coherency and a backbeat, thanks to Nile Rogers.  Iggy should thank David every day for the mint he made off of this cover.  (And also, I imagine, for the great head.)

Now, this is only my opinion, and not the word of God.  I realize there are those who will disagree with me, and that is their right.  I am speaking for the people out there who think these singers sound like crap and have been afraid to voice their thoughts.  BE HEARD!  YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

I suppose that all this post might actually prove is that I prefer glossy pop songs over messy punk songs.  That’s true.  After all, I was raised in the Yacht Rock 70’s and was a teenager in the New Wave 80’s.

I love me some pop music, is that so wrong?

Google +/-

Google’s trying again to make a “Facebook killer”.  Remember Google Buzz?  Google Wave?  Those attempts both failed miserably.  Google’s ready to try a third time, and the third time’s the charm, right?

Hmmm…maybe not.  I was lucky enough to get a Google + Invite the day it launched. I sent invitations to some of my tech-savvy friends, but not all of them could get in. Google declared that it was “at capacity” and could allow more users at a later date.

Obviously, Google is trying to raise some demand, but tactics like this are not wise when you’re trying to build a social network. Google + is a lot like Facebook, in that you can share your thoughts, photos and web links with your friends that use the service. However, if you only have six friends who were allowed into the service, then there isn’t much to look at. It’s like being in a huge auditorium and only the first row is full. Everything you say goes into an echo chamber and you feel more alone than ever.

The main differences between Google + and Facebook is that you can compartmentalize everyone into groups (called Circles), such as Family, Friends, Acquaintances and any other category you can think of. It’s very user-friendly to create the groups, and it solves the problem of adding your mom to your friends list. Another exciting feature of Google + is the “hangout”, which allows users with webcams to create a group video chat. I haven’t used it yet, but it seems like a fun idea for someone like me, who has lots of friends scattered all over the globe.

Other than those two things, it’s pretty much the same as Facebook. Instead of a “like” button, you have a “+1” button, which you click to show your appreciation of a post.

One huge drawback for me is that Google + doesn’t have those games that everyone plays on Facebook. I am addicted to Pet Society, and don’t you DARE try to take it away from me! (Harry Potter theme next week, you guys!)

Based on the few days I have been using Google +, I predict another failure on Google’s part. Trying to launch a social network based on the theory that it’s only for the “cool kids” who got invited is a minus, not a plus. A full public offering would have been best, although I know that’s what Google did with Buzz and that was a huge failure. However, Google + makes sure to show your privacy options up front. The problem with Buzz is that even if you didn’t want to use it, you were forced into it.

Hey, Google, how’s about letting everyone try Google + if they want to? Don’t force everyone into it, but don’t make it an exclusive club for the elite either.

Reverse poseur

Everyone has run across the type of person who pretends to have seen a movie or read a book or heard an album that they have not spent two seconds with.  Let’s be honest here – sometimes we are that person.  In the 80s we (meaning Anglophile girls who love Brits with mullets) would call that person a poseur.

However, I hold a certain pride in the opposite position.  I like to openly admit that I haven’t seen important pop culture touchstones.  I love telling people that I haven’t seen these movies or TV shows on purpose.  They are usually shocked, stunned and amazed at my restraint.  To be honest, I really have no desire to see any of these things.  I’m very contrarian and I like being that way.

I do have a friend who hasn’t seen any of the Star Wars movies, but she has seen Spaceballs.  When I heard that, I was pretty weirded out until I realized she was only doing my favorite thing in the world – shocking people with her pop culture ignorance.  If she’s anything like me, she’s secretly proud of the reaction she gets from people when she tells them she hasn’t seen the Star Wars movies.  And just think, this means that George Lucas never raped her childhood!  (I envy her.)

Here is a list of the movies and TV shows that I have never seen, and never will see, and enjoy telling people I have never seen:

1. Titanic – I have a tendency to cry at movies.  Sometimes it’s better for me to wait and watch a movie at home where I can cry until snot runs out of my nose and no one will see me and/or point and laugh.  I’m sure if I saw this movie, I would cry that hard, and I really have no idea why I would want to put myself through that.  Look, we all know the story, and the whole “I’m king of the world!” bit, and the necklace.  Isn’t that all I need to know?  Why do I need to watch an entire ship full of people drown in icy water?

2. Jurassic Park – Little kids love dinosaurs.  If I had been a little kid when the movie came out, I would have been excited.  (I guess.)  I don’t think I was a dinosaur-phile, actually.  The only reason I might want to see it is because Jeff Goldblum is in it, and I think he’s a long tall glass of sexy nerd-water.

3. Dancing With The Stars – I learned from American Idol that talent shows are rigged and I’m sure this one is no exception.  I have watched a few clips of it, but I have never sat and watched an entire episode.  The winner is always the former athlete and/or former professional dancer.  There’s no reason to obsess over it and theorize over it and make conspiracy theories over it, and that’s what the fun of these talent competitions is for me.

4. Law & Order (in every permutation) – This is the type of show that my mother would watch.  Therefore, I have avoided it for half of my life.  Apparently this show has been on for twenty years?  I really have never heard about it until a few years ago.  I know I’m missing out on a lot of sexy dudes and weird serial killers and 90’s fashions, but I figure, why start watching it now?  I’m way too far behind.

5. CSI (in every permutation) – Gore really makes me uncomfortable.  I watch House and have to close my eyes during most of it.  I also enjoy going to a hotel without having to bring a black light along to look for cum stains.  I’d rather not know what might be going on.  I have enough problems in my life.

Honorable mention – I have to put The Simpsons on this list, although I have seen a handful of episodes.  When that show premiered, I worked at night and I never had a chance to watch it.  By the time I had a regular schedule, it had been on for so many years I felt like I was way behind.  Now it’s been on for so long, there seems no point in starting to watch it now.  I have Googled most of the pop culture references such as I, for one, welcome our robot overlords so I can figure out what’s going on if people talk about it.  I wish that someone would just make a Best of Simpsons DVD so I could consume it in an unhealthy binge weekend.

Although I have never spent any time watching these worthy shows and movies, I did read the entire Twilight series just so that I could intelligently make fun of it and argue about how shitty it is.  (I think I’ve already made the intelligently/Twilight oxymoron joke so I’ll give it a rest.)

I think I need to get my priorities straight.

Didja miss me?

This is the obligatory post that every blogger has to make about how they didn’t feel like blogging.  Blogging about not blogging is something every blogger has to do, and I’m ready.  I’m ready to blog about not blogging.

I didn’t feel like blogging so I didn’t blog.  Blogging is really just talking to the wall, and the wall didn’t inspire me.

However, I’m ready to face the wall and start blogging again.

Blah blah blog.