Sunday, February 21, 2010

Oh Crap...

My birthday is in 3 days and I haven't given much thought -- okay, ANY thought -- to what my bday resolutions are going to be for this year. And this is the year I have to come up with 40. Damn. I suppose I should also check up on how I did with last year's -- maybe the ones I didn't keep I can just use again.

So I have had Olympics hangover every day for a week, but just as I was beginning to grow a bit weary of the games, there came this weekend, during which no events that interest me were broadcast in the evenings. So I took a break. Sadly I did not take a break from television altogether, and spent the entire day today catching up on DVRed episodes of Big Love, and watching that movie Adam, which Rob got from Netflix because it's about a guy with Asperger's. I joked that they should have just called the movie "Rob" instead of Adam, but Rob functions way better than the man in the movie -- just like the at the end of the movie, Rob has been forced to be on his own and learn how to cope for a long time; he wasn't sheltered the way the man in the movie was. Unfortunately, in general the movie wasn't very well done, so it was kind of disappointing. For about half of it, I felt like I was watching an after school special called You Can Be Friends With the Asperger's Kid!

Anyway, I was going to comment that I now get raging headaches if I watch too much television. I think it's the position of our chair and sofa in relation to the television. I always have to slightly turn my head to see the screen, and it's enough to create a crick in my neck and that turns to a headache if I zone out for the whole day. Sigh. I guess that means I'm going to have to start doing something more productive on my weekends...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I don't know why I'm surprised.

I can't remember the specific Olympic games, but am recalling this morning that NBC really botched their coverage in recent years... wait, it was the 1996 summer games in Atlanta -- there were all kinds of shenanigans going on with true competition timelines and lack of coverage for many events. And so I don't know why I'm surprised that NBC completely screwed up last night's opening ceremonies for half of the United States, but they sure did.

First of all, it wasn't being aired live in the Mountain and Pacific time zones. How do you NOT air it live?? I turned on Olympics coverage at 6:30pm MST, and for two hours, they messed around, interviewing athletes, showing other stuff, nothing terribly interesting, and didn't being the coverage of the actual ceremony until nearly 8:30. At that point, the ceremony had already been going on for an hour and a half in real life, and everyone I know in the Central and Eastern time zones had been enjoying it for that long. A full hour and a half before I got to see the cauldron being lit, everyone I know in those time zones had already seen it, tweeted about it, and gone to bed. Instead of the inane messing about, NBC could have just aired their live feed here too, and messed about after.

Second of all, Bob Costas. I keep thinking that at some point he's going to get his shit together and not make an ass of himself as he commentates on yet another Olympics Opening Ceremony. But oops! He's done it again. There was a huge lack of explanation for what was going on and why; Matt Lauer would ask thought-provoking questions and Bob would just ignore them; no explanation was given of who half the people participating in the ceremony were and why they were there... it was ridiculous. And yet I know the information was out there, because I got it from the Vancouver 2010 website... which I had to do because Bob Costas is a moron. I mean, this is the SAME dude who brought us the "Beef: It's what's for dinner" comment during the SLC 2002 opening ceremony, while Aaron Copeland's Fanfare for the Common Man played, so I don't know why I'm surprised, yet here I sit... surprised. At how bad it was.

And of course NBC cut actual parts of the performance out, and aired way too many commercials. Wayyyyyy too many. Which made the performance make less sense to anyone watching at home.

I bet the opening ceremony was totally awesome. I wouldn't know for sure -- I only saw part of it.

Is this what I can expect for the next two weeks -- an hour and a half delay in everything I'm watching from the evening's Olympics coverage? Fantastic.

Thanks for nothing, NBC.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Now we're going to hate on Taylor Swift? Seriously, people?

So last Sunday night at the Grammy Awards, someone sang out of key. And now the whole fucking world is going to spin off its axis! Batten down the hatches...

Look, I am 39 years old, going on 40 in a couple of short weeks. Out of my 40 years, I have seen approximately 26 or 27 Grammy Awards shows. On those shows, there have been an average of 10 live musical performances per show. Of those performances, roughly half suck. So that's 130 sucky performances in the last 26 Grammy Awards shows -- and trust me, I'm being conservative. The main sucking point is usually that the band is playing in a key far different than the lead singer is singing in. In general, it's because the quality of the talent isn't that high. But more often than not, there is an OBVIOUS issue with sound, and the singers clearly can't hear the backing music. Presumably, too, there's a lack of rehearsal time. Some of these people have a lot of other things going on. And sometimes, good bands and good singers just have an off night, on national television.

What's interesting is that, until now, no one ever calls them on it. But now we're going to hate on Taylor Swift. Because she sang poorly during a duet with Stevie Nicks. Who is apparently a perfect goddess who has never sung out of key a day in her life (10 years of cocaine abuse notwithstanding, apparently Stevie Nicks is so magical that she was a perfect performer throughout).

I have news for you, people: Stevie Nicks was ALSO out of key during the very same Grammy Awards performance. Her voice is definitely not what it once was, and she was struggling. Also? The Black Eyed Peas were out of key. And we've seen them in concert, and they were freaking awesome, and totally not out of key. And yet no one is going on about how crappy Fergie is for singing out of key on one night. Also? Green Day. Not quite in tune. But I guess they get a pass because it's totally punk rock to not be in tune.

What disgusts me though is the overall tone of the picking on Taylor Swift. This tone of she's only won all her awards because people felt sorry for her after the whole Kanye West incident.

Um, no. Just because some of you were living under a rock and didn't notice that she had the biggest selling album of 2009, or the biggest video of the year (Single Ladies dances moves notwithstanding), doesn't mean that it didn't happen. Just because you failed to notice doesn't mean that Taylor Swift hasn't connected and touched a nerve with a massive audience. And THAT is how you win awards. Awards don't go to the best technical singer, or the band with the most proficient drummer, or the guitarist with the most amazing and original riffs. Awards go -- and have always gone -- to the people who lead the music industry at any given time. And whether you like it or not, Taylor Swift is currently leading the music industry. It would have been shameful NOT to give her all the awards she's been getting, and trust me -- people would have bitched about that instead.

She's not a powerhouse singer. She isn't a Beyonce or a Jennifer Hudson. Never has been. Her thing is music and lyrics. Her voice is more akin to the pop singer-songwriters, like Ingrid Michaelson or Sara Bareilles (ew) or Norah Jones. Since her thing is country, it is easy to forget this, and to assume, having never heard her sing before, that she's going to come over all Faith Hill or Martina McBride (who, incidentally, has sung out key, in public, on national television, on more than one occasion). But that's not who she is.

When you listen to her songs, if you really know how to listen, you'll hear that the backing vocals are always from bigger voices than hers. Hers is the smaller voice out front. She's never belting out giant notes. She's just sharing her thoughts and strumming her guitar. If anything, she's the victim of the overproduction that characterizes today's mainstream country music.

With the popularity of American Idol, suddenly everyone thinks they know some shit about music and singing and what it's like to do it and what it's supposed to sound like. Even NPR has entered this debate about Taylor Swift. Personally, I think NPR has better things to do with their time, but whatever.

Consider this: She already knows she's not the very best singer in that room. She's 20 years old, and still nervous about how people she admires perceive her. She also suffered the embarrassment of the Kanye incident -- sure, he did a douchebaggy thing but what if he was just saying what a bunch of other people were thinking? And she's singing with a legend, Stevie Nicks, someone who gets a free pass because she's been so admired for so long. And to top it all off, the sound quality onstage isn't great, and she can't hear a damn thing.

You'd sing off key too.

Yes you would.

But in the end, Taylor Swift is a nicer person than probably 80% of the people slagging her off. She has more going for her. She has millions of fans who believe in her. She writes awesome songs. She isn't some mental case wannabe prostitute who's going to have a nervous breakdown in the middle of Sunset Boulevard 8 years from now. She has grace and style, something most people know nothing about (see: aftermath of Kanye incident, where she refused to indulge in name-calling or the vilifying of Kanye). She doesn't really need your approval.

If you don't like her, fine. Get over it.

But for fuck's sake. Don't pretend you actually know anything about music. You'll only hurt yourself.