Monday, October 22, 2012

Plot Holes and The Avengers: What Gives?

This is my second blog devoted to The Avengers.  But I realized something last night that should be addressed:  How does a blockbuster movie like that get away with such glaring plot holes?

Let me first say that I liked the movie.  A lot.  It was a fun ride.  I enjoyed watching the Hulk smash things especially.  For some reason, that was particularly pleasing.  

A month later, I saw The Dark Knight Rises.  I liked that movie too.  A lot.  But suddenly, I realized that I was holding Batman up to a different standard than The Avengers.  Why?  What was different?

I mean, let's be straight up honest here.  The plot holes in The Avengers are too many to list, and GLARING.  To name a few:

- How on earth does the Hulk, who doesn't even know why the team bonded in the first place, gain control of himself?  And think/speak coherently?
- Since when did all aliens turn into Droids and die when the "power source" is destroyed (and when were we going to be informed of this convenient fix to a seemingly fix-less debacle)?
- In the ridiculous scene where Thor fights Ironman, why didn't Loki run away?  

More and more and more.  All of these are beautifully documented in, so go there to see the honest portrayal.  

And yet... we liked it!  Can you imagine if The Dark Knight Rises had those holes?  Wouldn't we have lambasted Nolan for ending Batman in such a ridiculous fashion?  We would have thrown our hands in the air and shouted and yelled and punched things if Nolan had taken such creative "liberties."  Funny thing is, Nolan couldn't escape some seemingly slight holes in the final movie, and thankfully, nobody seems to be crucifying him for it.  At least he didn't put these two characters in his movie.

So what gives, then?  Is it really just a matter of expectations?  Did I approach The Dark Knight Rises incorrectly, or did I approach The Avengers correctly?  Or is there more to it?  Am I being too harsh on The Avengers?

To be honest, I really don't know.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

In an airport, everyone loses. A diary.

This is my play-by-play analysis of my latest experience in an airport, a simple flight to New York (JFK) to transfer there to Syracuse.  What a DOOZY.

10:00 pm: I arrive with my luggage, only to find a super long line to check your bags and no “online check-in” option available.  So I wait in the line, like all the other poor suckers there.  As if the airlines needed to start us on any worse of a note, as they only have 4 workers visible to the human eye. 

10:45 pm: Proceed from that line to a (thankfully) much shorter security line, where I go through the slick new machine.  As someone who has been frisked by airport workers at every single airport every single time I have tried to fly since the tender age of 11, I say to all naysayers to the new technology available in the security line: get over your privacy.  Some of us enjoy the quick 3 second scan, a much more pleasing alternative to the 10 minute patdown (“I’m going to use the back of my hand in this area…”)

11:00 pm: I arrive at my gate.  TROUBLE!  The flight has been delayed by 3 hours.  What on earth could possibly be the cause of an 11:35 departure time turning into a 2:10 am departure time?  Not a cloud in the sky.  It’s not Christmas either.  I’m too tired to find out.  I watch this cool documentary on the NBA that Shinster downloaded for me and fall asleep. 

2:00 am: Exciting news!  The plane is here.  Finally.  I also find out that the cause of our delay was that there was no available plane for us to use with a crew that hasn’t flown across the country a thousand times today (and hence cannot legally fly us to NY).   But they found a plane!  Hooray!  Finally we shall be on our way.  Flight attendant makes the preliminary “we will board the plane IN ORDER, even though everyone has a pre-assigned seat and will take an age to stuff their luggage into the overhead bins, thus eliminating any possibility of us actually changing the law of entropy on an airplane” speech, as well as a crack about waking people up so they don’t miss the flight.  I’m tired, and not very cranky (yet).

2:05 am: Very non-exciting news.  The plane is here.  The crew is new.  Except the crew is missing the pilot.  Yep.  You heard me right.  They realized the Captain is not fit to fly again (legally he cannot do anymore flying for the day), so he’s out.  Literally.  He’s probably home in bed by now, out like a light after a long day of flying.  As for the rest of us, we are left to sit and ponder 1) if we are actually going to depart by 3:00 am like they estimated, and 2) how in the DEVIL did they not figure this out sooner??? Did the plane land, and the crew got out and the new crew got there and looked around and said, “shoot, we forgot we’re a crew with no captain!”  I mean, in all seriousness… HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?  This is the equivalent of the Miami Heat showing up for the playoffs and realized they left Lebron sitting at a bus stop somewhere.  I’m actually not upset at this point – just bewildered.  The flight attendant is equally bewildered, as she stutters and stammers her way through the message that sounds something like this, “the flight, folks, is NOT cancelled, I promise maybe… there just isn’t anyone in the vicinity of Utah that can fly this plane, and the TSA is closed.  I’m sorry.”  The TSA closes at night!  How about that! 

2:10 am: It hits me at this point that my connecting flight will no longer be available (assuming we leave by 3 am) unless I literally jump out of the plane while still moving, knock the guys with the headphones off their train and speed like a Wildman across the runway, until I catch up to my connecting flight to Syracuse and hold on to the wheel Toy Story Style and head to Syracuse with my 50 pound suitcase.  So I head to the front of the gate to talk to the flight attendant.  Unfortunately, the next flight to Syracuse is 12:05 pm on Saturday, which works, but totally screws up my ride plans, but what other option did I have, Earl?  NONE!  While I’m waiting for this lady to switch my ticket (literally just like Meet the Parents – she types for about 2.5 hours before successfully switching my ticket over to a later flight, leading me to  imagine what she could possibly be typing while I waited.  Was she writing in her journal on a different screen while my ticket “buffered”?  Was she having an animated discussion on gchat with her boyfriend or husband about whose job sucks more?  Maybe she had to program my ticket in full javascript), I see a few angry people coming up to the line to let them have a piece of their mind, as if these two ladies had ANYTHING to do with the problem (answer: nothing).  Here are a few of the people I noticed as I stood up there:

Small Asian lady, continuing to cite when Jetblue did something differently to fix the current situation, despite the same apology from the flight attendant (“I’m sorry that’s just not possible, ma’am” about 8 times).

White lady with reading glasses, swearing to everyone in line that she will never fly on JetBlue again.  Hard to blame her here.  I mean, don’t you want your planes to come with pilots?  She also lets the flight attendant know that they just lost her as a customer (as if she cares at ALL).

Old man (good-natured), wondering how he will get to Boston.  When she successfully books him to a later flight, he asks, “is that one going to be delayed too?”  I laugh out loud and offer him a blue potato chip. 

Angry man (looked a lot like someone in academics), suggesting to the flight attendant that compensation is REQUIRED of all passengers and that such a situation is “egregious”.  This definitely qualifies for the word of the day, and I’m also quite sure the flight attendants didn’t know what that word means.  I did, however, almost point out to him that we were compensated in snacks, including some cookies that look and smell like cookies, but crunch like chips.  And not a good crunch either. 

Small Asian lady again.

Small Asian lady for a 3rd time.  I’m not joking.  She came up 3 times.  Her English was very good too.

More people trying to go to Boston.

Finally, I have my ticket.  The typing has stopped.  At least we would get out of her soon, I think grimly, 
although I know from my experience being within earshot of the flight attendants for the last age that we still don’t have a pilot and TSA doesn’t open until 4 (although they predicted the 3 am departure probably because she doesn’t want all Hell to break loose here – oh wait, too late).

3:17 am: We still await word as to whether or not we have a pilot.  So far, the answer is no.  This place is like a graveyard.  There are at least 8 people sprawled out on the floor as if their lives had been drained out of them.  The airport seems to be able to do this to you – I mean, it’s not that bad of a place, you get free wi-fi and all sorts of snacks, but man alive, it probably ranks as one of the top 3 least favorite places for a human to be, right after the Dentist and Hell.  How did Tom Hanks do it?  Oh yeah.  His character didn’t exist.  Oh no!  Movies are starting to blend with reality.  I’m so tired.  That’s maybe why I’m not mad yet.  Oddly enough, we are all total strangers to each other, but everyone who wants to fly to NY with me has become somewhere between stranger and intimate family member.  I feel a kinship with them, created from the terrible delay.  I glance up to the counter, and I see the small Asian lady up there.  She has set up a tent and is smoking some s’mores by the flight attendant, which would explain why she’s up there for the 4th time.  I think she’s trying to rally a mob maybe to fly the plane over to NY out of sheer willpower, hoping to give her youtube fame (as this would inevitably be filmed), possibly even nicknamed “the Asian Sensation of Aviation” or something.

4:00 am: The pilot has arrived!  He struts in like a reluctant superhero – obviously he isn’t too happy about the situation either.  Doesn’t he realize we are in peril???  As we board the plane, he reports that he has been at the airport this whole time – less than 100 yards away.  TSA is the chosen scapegoat, but who knows who is to blame.  Incompetence seems like a sure-fire winner.  I get to sit next to the lady in the reading glasses and, despite the $100 vouchers we receive as compensation, says another 2 times, “I’m never flying on JetBlue again.”  I curl up in my chair with my insanely dorky looking neck pillow around me (it’s even purple!).

I hate airports.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Shia Syndrome

**Spoiler Alert!  Do not read this blog until you have watched The Avengers.  Seriously.  Don't read it.

This post is about movies, and how I think about them too much.

Recently, I wrote a post about Ironman Syndrome, in which the superhero is faced with a supervillain that is exactly like him, just bigger and stronger. I refer to it as a Syndrome because it's a challenge faced by many movies due to a director who, unfortunately, is unable or just doesn't care to make the movie more complex. 

There is, however, another syndrom I would like to reference in this blog: Shia Syndrome.  The name of the syndrome is referencing one of my least favorite actors in the history of acting, Shia LaBeouf.  Disturbia, Indiana Jones, Transformers... the list goes on and on as to the movies he has singlehandedly ruined.  However, this blog actually isn't about his poor acting skills.  In this case, it's not actually his fault. 

I speak of Shia Syndrome, which is, in effect, the decision of the director to focus and give extremely important roles to non-essential characters.  Transformers seems to be the best example for this, hence the name Shia Syndrome.  I can't count the number of scenes in which Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, or some army dude was playing a super-essential role in defeating the Decepticons.  Michael Bay took this to the extreme at times, even slowing down the non-essential character scenes for super slow-mo (and super YAWN) shot, trying to capture the "human" struggle.  Unfortuntately for Bay, many of us just wanted to see Optimus Prime and co. smashing Megatron and co. in the face.  We sometimes wondered why Bay needed humans in the film at all

Finally, Transformers was ending, and you could only hope to see an epic Megatron vs Prime duel for the ages.  Unfortunately, Shia snuck in again, and in perhaps the worst "how to end a movie" decision of all time, he rammed a cube into Megatron's chest, finishing him off (while Prime sat on his haunches).  That was it.  Not only had Bay given non-essential characters gigantic roles, he had given Shia the "I'm the guy in the movie - not a robot, mind you, but a guy - that finishes off the baddest of all Decepticons" role.  To me... this sucked. 

Enter The Avengers.  Director Josh Whedon took a page out of the ol' Michael Bay handbook.  Fortunately for us, the characters were a little more skilled than a kid with a Strokes t-shirt, but to say they were essential is quite a stretch.  The characters I speak of specifically are Black Widow and Hawkeye.  Granted, Hawkeye was one of the 4 original Avengers, but the movies didn't pay enough attention to him to merit even a mention.  Captain America, Thor, and Ironman all got their own movies, as did the Hulk (heck, Ironman got 2 movies).  Hawkeye?  How else could the audience view him besides some sharp shooting archer?  And that was it.  No special abilities, except super cool arrows.  Black Widow, too, seemed to go into every fight with one ninja move (jumping on someone's head and flilpping them over) and one pistol.  And we were supposed to believe she would play a vital role in helping Ironman?  In helping the Hulk?  Really?

Black Widow went so far as to save the day, just as Shia did.  Whedon couldn't let Captain America figure it out, or Ironman figure it out (he was extremely equipped to do so).  Meanwhile, Captain America, despite Whedon's efforts, is playing a less important role "controlling the ground," as he said, while Ironman, Thor, and Hulk do the real heavy lifting.  Couldn't his role be reversed with Black Widow? 

My problem, to be clear, is not that Black Widow and Hawkeye were in the movie, but that Black Widow and Hawkeye, at times, were the movie.  They dominated too much of the screen for my liking - classic Shia Syndrome. 

As far as the movie was overall, I actually liked it a lot.  I thought it was an action packed blockbuster that lived up to what I expected - lots of witty lines, a shallow at best plot, and superheroes punching things.  Shia Syndrome, unlike Transformers, didn't ruin the movie, fortunately. 

Notice the picture that starts this blog.  Notice the superheroes in the picture.  Notice the ones not in the picture.  You probably instantly thought, the Hulk should be there!  Hopefully you didn't instinctively cry out against not having Black Widow and Hawkeye in it.  Clearly, the picture's illustrator didn't feel the need to paint them in either. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Top 10 Most Beautiful Songs in Movies. Ever.

Here I am, chilling with the Caped Crusader himself.
I warn those about to read, this will be a big waste of your time if you are not a fan of movies, and more specifically, movie soundtracks. If you aren’t, seriously, stop reading.

For the rest of you...

I LOVE movies. Love love love. Anyone who knows the slightest about me knows this, and they also I know I tend to be a bit critical. One thing I tend to pay particular attention to is movie scores and soundtracks. I LOVE movie soundtracks.  Love love love.

At this point, I need to clarify what I'm going for here. I was looking for the 10 most beautiful (not necessarily powerful) movie songs of all time. Unfortunately, this turned out to be harder than I thought. It felt a bit like going out to a high mountain during a beautiful summer night and picking out your favorite stars, or choosing your favorite siblings, or picking your favorite moment from Dumb and Dumber. So I made a rule to make things a bit simpler: a composer can only have 1 song on the list (although I may list a few honorable mentions).  So, here's the list:

Barely Missed the Cut:
  • "Spring Training" by Jerry Goldsmith (Rudy)
  • "Main Titles" by Randy Edelman (Dragonheart)
  • "Main Theme" by John Barry (Dances With Wolves)

The Top 10

10.  "I'm Listening" by James Newton Howard (I Am Legend)

James Newton Howard deserves a bit more credit here, as he has had his hand (cool alliteration!) in many scores as a co-composer, such as The Dark Knight. The soundtrack for I Am Legend is one of the more underrated scores out there, and there are many songs I could have put here just from that score. 

Honorable Mentions by Howard:
  • "Lucious, I'm Back" (The Village)
  • "It's Over" (The Fugitive)

9.  “The End” by Harry Gregson-Williams (Man on Fire)

Gregson-Williams and Gerrard really hit a home run here (admittedly, I’m assuming it was a collaborative effort, so I’m giving both of them the credit). This was one of those songs that really thumped me on the head while I was watching the movie – as if, despite the movie being cool, the song was yelling, “hey, I’m cooler than this scene."

Honorable Mentions by Gregson-Williams:
  • "Evacuating London" and "Narnia Lullabye" (The Chronicles of Narnia)

8.  “End Credits” by Dario Marionelli (Pride and Prejudice)

This list is turning out to be tougher than I even originally intended. Good Grief! Our next song comes from someone I’m not super familiar with, although as soon as I heard this soundtrack, I fell in love. Everything about it makes sense. I’m not sure a theme from a movie fit the character (in this case, Elizabeth) more than Marianelli’s theme here. This song seems to embody what someone would want out of a relationship. I’d better stop talking about this song or I’ll really start showing off my less-manly side.

7.  "Truman Sleeps" by Philip Glass (The Truman Show)

Just when you thought a Jim Carrey movie couldn’t possibly get on this list… Philip Glass saves the day! It’s hard not to picture in your mind Truman sleeping on the projector screen, while this dude plays this song on a little keyboard. Fitting for a TV show about a man’s life? Perhaps not. This song feels just a bit larger than the projector screen. Then again, the movie was fantastic. So who can say? In a nutshell, this song is just plain superb (so was Ed Harris).

6.  “Eptesicus” by Hans Zimmer (Batman Begins)

Zimmermania seems to be the rage in the soundtrack world at the moment. I recently found (on Grooveshark) a song called “Zimmer Mega Mix!” that included a total of 2 Zimmer songs (a bit disappointing). Indeed, Hans Zimmer is known for his powerful and commanding scores. From Pirates of the Caribbean to The Last Samurai, his movies somehow capture the actual power of the movie itself. Here, we find a lighter, softer side to Zimmer's traditionally powerful anthems, a side necessary to capture the essence of Bruce Wayne’s childhood. Implicit in the song is the relationship Bruce shares with his father, and you can picture the stethoscope scene (if you are Batman-knowledgeable enough). This was one of my tougher picks, because Zimmer has, to be frank, more songs to choose from than you could fill a batcave with. But this one tops ‘em (and also solves the argument as to which Batman movie has the better score). It's also worth noting that the songs in Batman Begins were all named after different species of bats. Which is super cool.

Honorable Mentions by Zimmer:
  • “Honor Him/Now We Are Free” (Gladiator)
  • "Time" (Inception)
  • "A Small Measure Of Peace" (The Last Samurai)
  • "Election By Adoration" (Angels And Demons)
  • "Chaveliers De Sangreal" (The Da Vinci Code)

5.  “Feather Theme” by Alan Silvestri (Forrest Gump)

Silvestri is a lesser-known composer who had done some pretty decent work at composing. This, however, is his gem. I don't need say anymore than this:

“Hey Forrest. Don't... I wanted to tell you I love you."
“I love you too, Daddy."
“I'll be right here when you get back."

Honorable Mentions by Silvestri:
  • "Main Theme" (Cast Away)
  • "I Believe Her" (Contact) 

4.  “You Are The Pan” by John Williams (Hook)

This song, frankly, is just so underrated it’s sickening. Some may laugh, some may mock my choice, but then they will go listen to this song, and think of the smallest of the Lost Boys who discovers Peter Pan and helps him remember Neverland. It’s as if Spielberg and Williams decided, together, they were going to stick it to adulthood. Give this song a listen before you cry out in protest. A tough pick? I’ll say.

Honorable Mentions by Williams:
  • “A Tree for my Bed” (Jurassic Park)
  • "Flying Theme" (E.T.)
  • "Toy Planes, Home, Hearth" (Empire Of The Sun)
  • "Luke And Leia," "Yoda's Theme," "Anakin's Theme," (Star Wars)

3.  “The Breaking of the Fellowship” by Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings)

One of my favorite things about the score for the LOTR movies is that Shore titled the songs after chapters of the books. That is just one of many, many things I love about this soundtrack (my cousin Doug once called it a modern day Symphony – I think it transcends symphonies). Honestly, how could I choose one song from such a gold mine? In this song, however, the beauty of perhaps my favorite scene from all 3 movies is fully captured:

Frodo: "I'm going to Mordor alone!"
Sam: "Of course you are!  And I'm coming with you!"

Frodo and Sam form one of the strongest friendships in literature and film, and this movie, ironically, refers to a bond such as this as a “breaking” of something else. Clever. Here are some other songs I nearly chose from LOTR.
  • "The Bridge Of Khazad-Dum" (the last minute of this song is memorable)
  • "The Steward Of Gondor"
  • "The Gray Havens" (heaven, anyone?)
  • "The Return Of The King" ("my friends, you bow to No one...")
  • "The King Of The Golden Hall" (is there a better theme in film than the Rohan Theme?)
  • "Samwise The Brave"

2.  "Casper’s Lullaby” by James Horner (Casper)

Those who may scoff that such a terrible movie could have the #2 most beautiful song of all time… need to stop and listen. This song is so unbelievably beautiful, and at the same time by far the most difficult decision of the whole list. I mean, I’ll just stop talking and show you the list of honorable mentions. If you don’t like my pick, go make a list of your own (but listen to this song first, and do it without tearing up). 

Honorable Mentions by Horner:
  • "Epitaph To War" (Glory)
  • "Freedom Theme," "For The Love Of A Princess" (Braveheart)
  • "Creating 'Governing Dynamics'" (A Beautiful Mind)
  • "Whispering Winds" (The Land Before Time)
  • "Main Theme" (Field Of Dreams)
  • "Diego's Goodbye" (The Mask Of Zorro)

1.  "Schindler's List Theme" by John Williams (Schindler's List)

Ok, so I cheated. I chose Williams for two spots. I figured, since he is the greatest movie composer of all time, he deserved it. This one tops the list. It tops them ALL. I mean, are you kidding me? To really understand the full scope of this song, you really need to see the movie. Spielberg, Neeson, Williams, and Perlman all combined for this song, and frankly, what more could you ask for? A perfect movie? Debatable. A perfect final scene? Plausible. A perfect song? Without question.



Sunday, March 25, 2012

On Suffering

For fans of Calvin and Hobbes, this picture will be very familiar. Calvin, upon meeting a day full of challenges, would often don his lucky underpants (to little or no avail).

In another comic, Calvin, upon finding no butter in the butter dish when his toast pops up, laments, "Haven't I suffered enough???"

Sound familiar?

The 4 main tenets of Buddhism are known as the "Four Noble Truths" and are as follows (in a nutshell):

  1. Life is Suffering.
  2. Suffering is caused by a constant craving or thirst that we attempt to satisfy by something outside of ourselves.
  3. Through diligent practice, we can put an end to our craving or thirst. That state where the craving, or suffering, has ended is referred to as Nirvana, or Enlightenment.
  4. The Eight-Fold path is prescribed as a means of relieving the suffering and achieving Enlightenment.
The purpose of this is not to go into the Eight-Fold path or talk any more about Buddhist teachings. Rather, it's to merely point out that Buddha was on to something!

I think life does a very good job at making us forget that it's supposed to be hard. Everywhere you look, you see ads that ask you why you aren't happier than you could be. Is it because you aren't wearing the right jeans? Or maybe you haven't seen a certain movie yet? Or you haven't opened up a bottle of Coca-Cola, who claims to "Open Happiness"?

Is life supposed to be summed up as easily as Buddha did as suffering?

The Prophet Joseph Smith wondered the same thing. While in a tiny jail known ironically as Liberty Jail in Missouri, he asked, "Oh God, where art thou?"

I, too, have asked this question. I've wondered for myself, "What is the point of all this suffering? Doesn't God want me to be Happy? Why me?"

Here are some observations from my own "days of suffering":

  • Suffering causes you to isolate yourself. John Donne points out that "no man is an island, entire of itself," but when we suffer, it sure feels like we are alone in our suffering. The question isn't "why am I not happy and pain-free?" but rather "why is everyone else but me happy and pain-free?"
  • Suffering seems to be endless. Just like a Hydra, just when you seem to be free of one massive obstacle, two more pop up. The fun never ends!
  • Suffering is sometimes caused by your own shortcomings, but even your best efforts don't always stop the pain from happening. In a world where everything revolves around power, it can quickly make you feel powerless, helpless, and vulnerable.
  • Suffering alters your daily routine, which can knock you out of a "good thing" you had going. Life can quickly feel like it's spiraling out of control.

I don't claim to be Job. I don't claim to have suffered even a fraction of what many in this world suffer today. But I do know one thing: the amount I have on my own plate is insurmountable without divine help. Maybe that's why I'm grateful for my own version of the Eight-Fold path. Buddha points out that the way to alleviate suffering is through
  1. Right View
  2. Right Intention
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration
Now, ask yourself this question: "What role does God play in my life?" For most of us, the answer is not enough. In all 8 areas, I have room for improvement. In all 8 areas, I have more to learn as to how attunement to that area can actually help me ALLEVIATE PAIN in my life.

As a Christian, I do, however, have one major advantage to the Buddha: I don't have to do this alone. Here's my modified 8-fold path:

  1. Eternal Perspective (the ability to see the End from the Beginning)
  2. Real Intent in Sincere Prayer
  3. Right Speech
  4. Charity in my Actions (forgetting myself and my own problems)
  5. Healthy Lifestyle
  6. Diligent Effort (Enduring through the Storms of Life)
  7. Teachable Mindfulness (What can I learn?)
  8. Right Concentration and Meditation
I didn't change all of them. But I see room in all 8 for Christ. To me, this is the key to suffering. This is the way through. This is the only way through.

I saw a book title once. It read: "If Life were Easy, then it Wouldn't Be Hard." Makes sense, I guess.

Sorry for the ramble. It feels good to write about suffering. At least it's easier to write about then actually go through.

And for those who might be wondering: God's response to Joseph? "My son, peace be unto thy soul, thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on High... all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The elusive question: Greatest Band Ever?

For the past few years, I have had many animated discussions with close friends in regards to this question: Who is the Greatest Band of All Time?

I'm determined to answer this question. Clearly, this is going to be based merely on opinion, so I can't state any of my opinions (although heaven knows many of my opinions SHOULD be facts).

I was going to list a bundle of statistics that prove my point, as well as countless quotes from musicians and artists that would all concede the same point I'm trying to make, but I'd rather take a more unconventional approach. I will simply complete this statement: Your band is the greatest band of all time when... (here you go)

1 - All 4 members of your band (including the drummer) are recognizable and regularly referred to by their first name only

2 - You walk into a bookstore (NOT a music store, but a BOOKstore) and see an entire stand devoted to your band

3 - Your band name is more recognizable to fans than their own mother's name

4 - There have been multiple full-length feature films done revolving around your music (despite the lack of anything more, including depth, plot, and character development) and people actually watch it

5 - Entire movies (Across the Universe, I Am Sam) are scored with covers based entirely on your music

6 - Entire movies (Nowhere Man) are based on the popularity of a member of your band

7 - Your band breaks up and each band member starts his own band with hits of his own (Band on the Run, Live and Let Die, Instant Karma, Imagine, My Sweet Lord, It Don't Come Easy, to name a few)

8 - In less than 10 years, your band records more hit songs than any band has ever had (I'll go toe to toe with you here if you wanna dispute this - they just have MORE HITS than anyone)

9 - When men's hair gets a little long, people often comment, saying such things as "Hey, Ringo!" or "You look like George Harrison!"

10 - Your band creates bands of its own (Sergeant Pepper)

Now, I will admit, this band I am talking about (I will continue to let it remain nameless) had some serious advantages. Bands came later in the 70s, 80s, and even the 90s had to deal with more competition than the Beatles (oops!) ever had. However, it's hard to imagine a time period in which the white noise surrounding the musical landscape could have possibly drowned out Let It Be, Ticket to Ride, and A Day in the Life (perhaps the greatest song of all time?).

I am very excited to hear feedback, along with how you could possibly dispute this claim.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

BYU vs Utah: the Aftermath

I turned the game off after Heaps' second fumble in the endzone. I don't ever remember turning off the BYU-Utah game before until it was over. I wasn't mad. I wasn't disgusted. I felt... nothing. Utah fans didn't even send me scathing messages like last year, realizing, probably, that we had suffered enough. Even they pitied. Even they were shocked.

Indeed, 2011 marks a stunning new chapter in the Holy War, and in the world of college football. Utah's move to the Pac-10, BYU's counter by going independent, and major conference realignment (and the ominous threat of the formation of super conferences) made the season especially anticipatory. Even the teams losses to USC and Texas, respectively, in two games they both should have won didn't ruin the appeal of the Holy War.

This year, it was different. It meant MORE. More than just a mere MWC championship. More than a shot at a big time bowl game. This time, it was all about PRIDE. BYU was finally going to prove to Utah that they, too, belonged in the Pac-10, that they were still the premier team in the state. BYU was going to prove, once and for all, that they belonged. Utah had already proven it, time and time again (BCS, anyone?). Now, they could show it off with the new Pac-12 symbol, while BYU, like a little brother who doesn't get the same treatment as the older brother, scrambled to Independence.

The stage was set.

Quickly, BYU fans are now waking up to a new reality, a reality many fans STILL refuse to admit:

1 - BYU is now 2nd tier to top-tier Utah. The gap is now apparent. Utah belonged in the Pac-12, and BYU didn't. It's that simple. Utah is the BETTER TEAM.

2 - BYU will continue having serious recruting obstacles, while Utah's recruiting class will get stronger and stronger.

3 - The quest for perfection is the quest each year, as BYU can only go undefeated for a chance at a bowl other than the Armed Forces Bowl, or something equally lame. As for the rest of our schedule... does it matter AT ALL?!? 10-2, in my book, is still a losing season.

4 - Conference Realignment will only hurt BYU, especially if Texas and OU join the Pac-12. BYU is going to be on the outside looking in.

#4 is especially scary, in my opinion. Remember SMU? Remember when they were good? I don't either. As conferences shift towards the power teams, BYU may just get the short end of the stick, with absolutely nothing to play for, no one to recruit, and no chance at winning.

Now, I know there are still many positives in BYU's favor. Our independent contract obviously has some benefits ($$$!), as does our Mormon appeal and audience, as well as our strong tradition of excellence. I just fear that I may be first to admit that this era may be ending.

In other words, it may be time to start cheering for Utah.