Monday, August 31, 2009

The Abolition of Loneliness

In an otherwise unremarkable review of Elizabeth Edwards' new book (not exactly at the top of my list), Christopher Hitchens writes of the internet,

"The importance of this medium in bringing about a great unspoken social reform—the abolition of loneliness—has not to my knowledge been better evoked."

That's not exactly how I'd describe the Internet's effects, abolition is a strong word after all. Still, I must admit that is one of its major appeals for me, along with the abolition of boredom and the quenching of curiosity.

And what a name for a Slouching Towards Bethlehem-style social dissection!

P.S. I found this by way of Mickey Kaus, who continues to nitpickingly celebrate the fact that he was right about the Edwards affair when many others were denying its possibility. And he deserves some credit for that. Just imagine that news breaking a month after an Edwards win at the Democratic National Convention.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Zrbo Doesn't Survive the Layoffs

Well folks, my turn in everyone's favorite Holocaust poem has come. They finally came for me. It's true. Maybe it was all the time I spent writing on this blog during work, maybe it was not having any enthusiasm for the job, or maybe it's because my manager didn't know how to manage, but I have been officially let go. Time to go line up and get my bread and soup. Hey, at least they gave me some severance pay!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Inglourious Basterds (Gilgamesh, 1793)

I'll start with the rating so you don't have to read this if you don't want to.

Yoggoth rating*: ***
Little Earl Rating: **1/2
herr zrbo rating: **

That's right, I reviewed it for the other guys too.

Inglourious Basterds is a collection of Quinten Tarantino's fantasy World War II movie scenes and characters. It's organized into six chapters and isn't long on dextrous segues. I don't know what your opinion of Tarantino is, but mine's pretty damn high. Best living director? When a few more old guys drop off, quite likely.

I was reading David Foster Wallace's article about David Lynch in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again the other day. He said something like, David Lynch did this and it's sufficiently entered the zietgeist that Tarantino et posse can rip it off. Look Wallace, I know you're dead and that's too bad but maybe if you spent more time watching Pulp Fiction and less time watching Eraserhead you might not have hung yourself.

Back on point, Inglorious Basterds is an odd war movie. Not only is it completely ahistorical in the details, it alters the historical timeline drastically. You could call it an alternate history war movie. And in this alternate reality the jews fight back, cinephiles wreak cosmic vengance aginst an uncaring world, and American heroes justify their cruelty with an unflinching dedication to justice. Traditional war movies are justified in their violence for entertainment trade by appeals to attenuated arguments such as: if we just knew the cruelties of war we wouldn't wage it, we must confront the evil done in our names, and we must understand evil to contain it. Ingloriuos Bastards doesn't work that way. Instead we get almost gleeful (yet somewhat infrequent by modern standards) depictions of scalping, bludgeoning, and point-blank-machine-gunning-to-the-face. The morality, you see, is in the differences between Englurous Basdards and reality. Tarantino gives us the action and violence he and we so obviously crave in the midst of fantasy world just a bit more moral than our own. The closest comparison I can think of is Casablanca, another movie that sacrificed historical fact for the sake of morality. So if you see any wayward Nazis on your trip home from work today, carve a swastika into their forehead and tell 'em the world just won't stand for that sort of thing. At least not Tarantino's world.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wonderful Headlines

Just now on the little bar below the Slate main story:

"XX: I Wish My Slutty Christian Friend Would Stop Praising My Virginity." Along with a picture of a cute blond woman.

In some crazy cosmic contest for headlines guaranteed to be far better than their stories this gets my vote.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Rowling, 2005)

It was the summer of 2002 and I was staying with a college friend at her aunt's house in Leiden, a small town halfway between the Hague and Amsterdam. One morning everyone left early to go into town to run errands and I was left with nothing to do. Scanning the bookshelves I saw this book lying there that everyone had been talking about, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. It looked like something that would be an easy read, it was a kids book after all. By the time I was ready to leave to fly back home a few days later I was already two-thirds through and was so enthralled I bought my own copy at the airport so I could read the rest on my way home. Thus was born my love for the Harry Potter series.

Soon the film version of the book came out and I eagerly went to see it, only to be let down as the movie, while good, simply could not do the book justice. Sure it went through the major plot points and got the fantasy and whimsical elements down fairly well, but the film lacked the nuances of the various characters personalities, their motivations, Harry's inner thoughts, and the all-too-important "just one more page" feeling the book invoked. This became a personal tradition of mine, read the book soon before the film was to be released and then compare the two. Honestly it hasn't been much fun, because the films have always disappointed me. They lack the depth and imagination of the books, and because they are constrained by time they leave what I consider vital motivations behind (such as in Chamber of Secrets - the film completely discards Ginny's motivations).

I've yet to see the new film, but I did just finish reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the penultimate book in the series, and I have to say, it was hands down the best book in the series yet, and is overall the best book I've read in quite some time. The book has a rather subtle plot - while there are several mysteries the characters are trying to figure out over the course of the book, none of them ever seemed to jump to the forefront. Instead the story was more of a character study, delving into the main characters' wants, desires, and even love lives. Without giving too much away, J.K. Rowling reels the reader in with segments that explore just who Lord Voldemort is and how he came to be. It was also fascinating how seamlessly she brought in events from the previous books and gave them startlingly new relevance. Before I knew it I was nearly done with book, and there hadn't been nary a fight or action segment.

Unfortunately the ending had already been spoiled for me, there is a rather now-famous death scene that had been spoiled by friends/the internet/TV - pretty much everybody. But that didn't matter because it was the scene before that which really grabbed me. I won't say too much, but the part with the cave and the lake and all that ensues in that scene was the most frightening thing I've possibly ever read. I mean, I literally had to put the book down because I was actually dreading having to read the next paragraph. I can't possibly imagine they'll be able to pull off this scene adequately in the film, but I'm intrigued to see if they can. From start to finish that was hands down the best chapter of the whole series.

Then there's the end, which, as I said before, I already knew about, and was also fantastic, but probably not as fantastic as I wanted it to be. The book certainly ends with a very somber tone, but I know it's all a setup for the final installment, which I'll read next year before the next film hits theaters, which I hear they've split into two separate parts. I'm excited to see them try to pull it off.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

An Onion Story for Little Earl

Newly Discovered Recordings Reveal Beatles Actually Terrible Group:

"'These songs are awful. That one sax solo alone has utterly negated the genius of Magical Mystery Tour and Rubber Soul combined. Certainly this missing link goes a long way toward explaining their solo careers.' In reaction to the discovery, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys has shown dramatic signs of improved mental health."

Now we know why Little Earl is nervous about reissues and Beatles video games! Ignorance is bliss, eh?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Hurt Locker (Bigelow)

Sadly, this is not a film about a moody high school football star and his tempestuous relationship with a metal compartment.

Honestly, what kind of a title is that? Not a very promising one, it seemed to me, but after several reviewers called the film "the first great movie about the Iraq War," I figured I might as well give it a shot. But what's the competition? Redacted? In The Valley Of Elah? Stop Loss? None of which are movies I have seen, of course, and in that regard I am not alone. Something about "Iraq War movie" just screams "yes" to certain Hollywood directors and "no" to me. My concern is: what is this movie going to tell me that I don't already know? Look: I didn't really think the Iraq War was a good idea. But nobody asked me what I thought, and I can't really do anything about it, so I really don't want to dwell on it in particular. It's not that I can't handle "difficult" material, or that I'd rather see G.I. Joe instead. I just don't think I'm going to get much out of it.

Here is what I will say about The Hurt Locker: it was very credible, realistic, and understated. I think the reason critics are calling it "the first great Iraq War movie" is because it is not preachy or heavy-handed. There is no obvious message. The main character, in fact, loves being in Iraq. So why have I completely forgotten about it until the composition of this review? I blame, once again, that shitty, "hand-held" cinematography. I don't like that look. It. Looks. Like. Crap. You can make a "realistic" movie that doesn't look like a low-budget documentary. I'm starting to think that the cinematography can make or break a movie for me. Are there any classic movies that are classic despite their sub-standard cinematography? I can't think of any.

Mostly The Hurt Locker made me realize how much I liked Sam Mendes' Jarhead. For some reason critics really ripped on Jarhead when it came out in 2005, but I thought it was hilarious and surreal and full of loads of off-handed insight into the American military mentality (even though it was actually about the first Persian Gulf War). Oh, and it also had great cinematography. The Hurt Locker mostly made me think, "OK, I'm glad there's not a draft and I don't have to do what this guy does." I figured that out in about five minutes, unfortunately.

Liberal guilt, I'm looking at you. Hopefully Kathryn Bigelow was not sitting around thinking, "I'm living a rich a comfortable life in California while other people are dodging suicide bombers in Baghdad. What can I do to make a difference?" That motivation does not a good movie make. I like movies that stem more from a filmmakers' own personal identification with their material. Not from, you know, their guilt.

Film critic rating: ***
Little Earl rating: *1/2

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Full Beatles: Rock Band Setlist Revealed

While not wholly confirmed yet, here's the leaked setlist for all songs that will be included in the upcoming The Beatles: Rock Band game. It was already announced previously that several whole albums will be released later as pay-for DLC including Rubber Soul, Sgt. Pepper's and Abbey Road. I propose a Cosmic American get together when it drops September 9th.

I Want To Hold Your Hand
I Feel Fine
Day Tripper
Paperback Writer
Don't Let Me Down

Please Please Me (1963)
I Saw Her Standing There
Do You Want To Know A Secret
Twist and Shout

With the Beatles (1963)
I Wanna Be Your Man

A Hard Day's Night (1964)
A Hard Day's Night
Can't Buy Me Love

Beatles For Sale (1964)
Eight Days a Week

Help! (1965)
Ticket To Ride

Rubber Soul (1965)
Drive My Car
I'm Looking Through You
If I Needed Someone

Revolver (1966)
Yellow Submarine
And Your Bird Can Sing

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help From My Friends
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Getting Better
Good Morning Good Morning

Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
I Am The Walrus
Hello Goodbye

The Beatles (White Album) (1968)
Dear Prudence
Back In the U.S.S.R.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Helter Skelter

Yellow Submarine (1969)
Hey Bulldog

Abbey Road (1969)
Come Together
Octopus's Garden
I Want You (She's So Heavy)
Here Comes the Sun

Let It Be (1970)
Dig a Pony
I Me Mine
I Got a Feeling
Get Back

Love (2006)
Within You Without You/ Tomorrow Never Knows

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Richie You Are A Stud Among Studs

Now it's been almost half a year since I last attended an AMG Guy presentation, so I thought I would track down Richie Unterberger's website and see what the world's greatest living '60s rock historian has been up to. Turns out I wouldn't have been able to attend any of his recent presentations anyway. Because he's been in England, promoting his new book on the Velvet Underground. Hell yes. According to his website:
White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day (now available on Jawbone Press), is by far the most comprehensive book on the Velvet Underground ever published. The 368-page volume details the group's recording sessions, record releases, concerts, press reviews, and other major events shaping their career with both thorough detail and critical insight. Drawing on about 100 interviews and exhaustive research through documents and recordings rarely or never accessed, it unearths stories that have seldom been told, and eyewitness accounts that have seldom seen print, from figures ranging from band members to managers, producers, record executives, journalists, concert promoters, and fans.
Not only do I want to see this presentation, I actually want to read this book. Honestly, if they've been taking up time he could be using to write more books like this one, maybe he should give the presentations a little break. But he seems to be balancing his various projects quite skillfully, so perhaps there is no need for concern. Unfortunately, I was not able to catch him at the Westminster Reference Library in Covent Garden, the Hornsey Library in Haringey Park, or the Leytonstone Library at 6 Church Lane, nor was I able to attend his slightly more North American presentations at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., or the Moonstone Arts Center in Philadelphia. Richie gets around.

Ah, but he appears to have saved the best for last, because on September 1 he will be at the Martinez Library in Martinez, California! You can also find him at the Albany Library on October 7, the San Ramon Library on October 8, the El Cerrito Library on October 22, or even (talk about boring) the Ninth Street Independent Film Center in San Francisco on November 19.

Yoggoth, you are not getting out of this one.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

That's our Slate!

Ahhh Slate, how you tease me with your headlines. Today John Hughes died. Checking Slate I see they already have an article with the intriguing headline "John Hughes, Closet Republican?". Hmm, this should be interesting, I naively think to myself. And in typical Slate fashion, the article doesn't address the headline at all, and in this case, there's not even an article! There's just a short paragraph announcing his death and a youtube montage clip of moments from the Breakfast Club. Thanks guys, keep up the great writing. Oh, how much do you get paid again?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (Kojima, 2008)

Last year in 2008 Hideo Kojima unleashed the final iteration of the Metal Gear Solid series onto the world. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was met with both critical and commercial success, with some reviewers naming it the best videogame of all time. The editors at Gamespot awarded the game a rare perfect 10 saying "It's difficult not to sound hyperbolic when discussing MGS4 because every part of its design seemingly fulfills its vision, without compromise. There is no halfway." This statement could not be more true. Over the course of the past year I decided to see what all the fuss was about with this game series. During that time I've written several pieces detailing my thoughts on each iteration, examining their messages, themes, and purpose. I've finally finished my goal of playing through all four games, and just like those Gamespot editors, it's difficult not to sound hyperbolic when discussing Solid Snake's final mission.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is a contradiction of sorts. At times it represents the height of what the medium has to offer. The story is larger than life, filled with grand themes and notions, bleeding edge game design, masterful production, memorable characters, and contains a sense of purpose like no other game. At the same time it is an overwrought, overblown mess, struggling to keep up with itself, and contains the most complex, complicated, most difficult to follow story in the history of videogames. There are moments where MGS4 is a colossal triumph, and moments where it reeks with overblown ambition.

I'd rather not go into the details of the story itself, as that would require it's own separate post (or several). Let's begin with the characters. In short, Kojima managed to include nearly every single character from every Metal Gear game into this game. And I mean everyone. Remember the poor soldier in the first game who was using the restroom? Yeah, he's in this game. It's like the War & Peace of videogames in terms of cast (the MGS database lists over 130 characters). But what's amazing about this is that Kojima actually manages to tie all these characters together into a (somewhat) cohesive story. The plot had been moving slowly until I reached the end of Act 3 (of five acts total) when suddenly Kojima managed to tie in the entire cast of characters, including those from the previous game which took place in the 1960s, in a move that showed just how deep his ambition was to tie all these threads together. It was like Kojima, instead of trying to corral this giant beast of a story into some pen, decided a better way to take control was to just grab the story by the balls and squeeze as hard as he could to force his will upon it.

As I said before, the game is full of contradictions. It speaks a message of peace and non-violence while simultaneously hyper-romanticizing the role of the warrior. At times the game strives to be ultra-realistic. Characters will go into painstaking detail about how a certain firearm works, or how a certain computer program functions. At other times the game gives way to guilty fantasy. This is most notable with the antagonists. The villians in the Metal Gear series have always been a bit over the top. This game is no exception. The main bosses in this game take place in the form of the Beauty and the Beast Corp., four lovely young women traumatized by war who've gone mad and are now instruments of war themselves. Each one has taken on a certain emotion, e.g. Raging Raven, Screaming Wolf. It's easy to laugh at the silliness of some of these characters. But if you look at it differently these characters are almost Jungian archetypes. Are they even meant to be real? Does Snake actually fight them, or could it be seen as Snake “fighting his demons”? There's a certain metaphoric quality to these characters. The way arch-villian Liquid Ocelot bristles with lightning, just as Volgin did in the previous game, could be seen not as an actual ability of his to wield lightning but as a metaphor for his power. It must be noted that the fantasy doesn't get in the way of the plot or is ever used as as Deus ex machinima. This quote from the Daniel Primed blog says it best: “While fantasy based elements are a rarely discussed staple of the series, these games use it only for metaphoric purposes and never to conclude storyline plot holes.” This leads me to my next point, these fantasy elements aren't really fantasy at all, but rather they should be seen as extended metaphors.

In essence that's what the whole game, the whole series even, is - metaphors embodied in characters. The whole series is just one big morality play, with each character taking on their part. This also means that nearly everything contains some sort of symbolism. Oh, is there ever so much symbolism in this game! One character could be seen as a stand-in for Christ, another the Virgin Mary (and simultaneously Mary Magdalene). A new character, Drebin, is the embodiment of the entire arms industry, even of capitalism itself, who also functions as a sort of Greek chorus/Cheshire cat, appearing to our hero in times of need to prod him along the path. There's even a bit of a Faust/Devil relationship between him and Snake. It's like an English major's dream manifested in game form.

The dichotomy of symbolism goes even farther. At times the drama is very Western (Shakespearian) at other times very Japanese. When I say Shakespearian I mean that in every sense of the word. Yes it contains those elements of great literature such as comedy, love, death, and tragedy, but it also appeals to the masses with it's occassionaly crude humor (lots of fart/poop jokes) and underdressed females. At the same time the game is very Japanese. The action sequences are straight out of a Hong Kong action flick (ok, not Japanese, but it has its roots in the martial arts). The females can occasionally act in a way Westerners might find old fashioned (like when one bride-to-be gets excited at the prospect of dutifully serving her husband). Occasionally there's that feeling that there's something you're not quite getting, like some cultural cue we're not familiar with. All together, it's this strange mix of Western drama and Japanese weirdness.

It's like the War & Peace of videogames in terms of cast.

To say the game can be melodramatic is an understatement. Since the whole game is essentially a vehicle for Kojima's message it can be nauseating at times when a character goes into an extended dialogue on the dangers of war or what have you. Like with the other games in the series, Kojima wants to make absolute certain that you get the message, so he'll have the characters speak these grand verbiose statements that go on and on and on. Kojima can be so blinded by his ambition that he doesn't know when to stop. Michael Abbott at the Brainy Gamer has an interesting piece on this aspect of Metal Gear and melodrama if you're interested in reading further.

I've spoken previously about Kojima's use of cinematic cutscenes in the series. It's an oft leveled criticism of Metal Gear that the cutscenes can be too lengthy, where it becomes less like you're playing a game and more like watching a film. This game is no exception. Before the game came out there were rumors about extraordinarily long cinematic sequences, so much that when publisher Konami let reviewers get an early version of the game for review purposes they were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement saying they wouldn't comment on the length of those cutscenes.

Oh, folks, are they ever long. Usually they run from a few minutes to 15 minutes, with a few clocking in around 45 minutes. But then Kojima really outdoes himself when after the final confrontation the game goes into an epilogue that technically qualifies as a full-length feature according to the Screen Actors Guild. All in all there are over 10 hours of cinematics.

Which brings me to the next point: Kojima needs an editor. It's not that the game or the cinematics are too long, or even the story itself. It's his obsession over the nitty gritty details of the characters' motivations. We don't need an hour long explanation of how and exactly why the villian plans on using some computer program to accomplish his evil deeds, you can just tell us "The bad guy has item X, and that gives him power, so therefore we need to stop him!". Yes, it's cliched, but it's more effective than overly long explanations that barely hold up logically and which are ultimately inconsequential. Once again, our friend at the Brainy Gamer has an excellent piece on Kojima and his over-the-top ambitions. At the same time I have to confess that I somewhat enjoy these long, drawn-out explanations as it's what gives the series some of it's charm. Yes it's tiresome, but at the same time, have you ever played another videogame, or even seen a movie, that went into such detail over the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty? I'm sure you haven't. So it's at times frustrating to have to wade through all of this talk just to experience the game, but at the same time, it's all part of the adventure. It's like going to a Tarantino film, part of the thrill is just watching the characters and their discussions on Big Macs and Like a Virgin.

The game contains all the usual flair that I've discussed previously in my other analyses. Both the graphics and the score are AAA in quality. In fact, the game has arguably the best graphics and presentation out there, I am convinced that those shots of Sunny cooking eggs are real. The locales and situations Kojima puts Snake in are amazing, from putting Snake on a cloak-and-dagger like mission where he must tail an informant in a foggy Eastern European city that recalls something out of The Third Man, to some extraordinary split-screen sequences that have you controlling Snake on one half while a glorious cinematic plays in the other half, the game does it like no other.

Like the other games in the series, the one seems at times self-aware of it's own existence, toying with the player through fake reboot screens and characters specifically mentioning the gaming hardware. The game also has a certain self-importance about it. Kojima knew he was crafting a huge finale to a wildly popular series, and this is evidenced in his song selection. The opening song is a pathos-filled dirge sung entirely in Hebrew; the closing song a cover of Joan Baez's "Here's to you" from the film Sacco and Vanzetti. It's like Kojima wouldn't settle for anything less than these heavy, burdensome pieces to give his work some sort of gravitas.

I want to say more but I'm not sure what I want to say. There's so many different points of discussion, one could write a dissertation or hold an entire lecture series on this one game alone. Hideo Kojima is perhaps the most gifted auteur in the medium, and the amount of ambition in this game is staggering. I'm just not quite convinced the game lived up to that ambition, though it is still far and beyond anything else in videogaming. This one quote I found online says it best:

“That’s not to say that MGS4 is a failure because it simply isn’t, it is one of the best produced pieces of media of our time which so happens to be under the control of a mad man.”

After playing the entire series all the way through I've come to the conclusion that though this game may have it's flaws, I just might consider it the best narratively-focused videogame of all time (as opposed to something like Tetris, which might qualify for the best non-narrative game of all time), though it's difficult not to take the series as a whole into consideration when making that claim. But this comes with the heavy caveat: for now. No one else has ever come close to what Kojima tries to accomplish in this game; his ambition is extraordinary and the fact that he can pull it off with only a few gripes is equally extraordinary. But as I said, this is just possibly the best videogame series for now. Another game developer with similar ambitions and creativity could probably do better if they could manage to just rope in their ambitions a bit. Well, that's it. If you've made it this far, I thank you for reading this. Till next time.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Don't Cry For Music Magazines (Argentina) AKA The Future Of Recorded Sound In The Postmodern World

When presented with the opportunity to cut at the heart of the matter, count on Slate to merely induce a paper cut. For example: Spinning In The Grave: The Three Biggest Reasons Music Magazines Are Dying. The author, Jonah Weiner, provides us with three key reasons for this supposedly unfortunate turn of events:

1. There are fewer superstars, and the same musicians show up on every magazine cover.

2. Music mags have less to offer music lovers, and music lovers need them less than ever anyway.

3. Music magazines were an early version of social networking. But now there's this thing called "social networking" …

Intriguing reasons, all. But I feel Mr. Weiner tiptoes around the most obvious source of music journalism's decline: There isn't any good music to write about.

You may remember me proclaiming that the rock band is dead. Well I will now go one step further. Popular music is dead. It's dead, my friends. It's free, it's downloadable, and it's dead.

But that's OK. Every art form runs its course. Classical composition ran its course. It evolved in endlessly fascinating permutations from the time of Bach to the era of Wagner, Debussy, and Mahler. Suddenly, in the early 20th century, composers started running out of gas, and the only way to make musical composition "new" was to make it "atonal" and "avant-garde," i.e. the strict province of university music departments, i.e. a dead art form. After Stravinsky and Schoenberg laid tonality to waste, the best "new" compositions consisted of pianists plucking the strings from inside the piano rather than pressing the keys with their fingers as Beethoven and Schubert were known to do.

But music gained new life with the invention of recording. Suddenly the act of record-making brought several new elements to the tired old compositional table: the manipulation of the recorded sound; the quality of the musicians' individual performing style; the sense of place and time. It instantly rendered all those boring old chord changes brand spanking new. It took a while, of course. Initially, musicians just looked at records as a means of capturing a live performance and multiplying it out to the masses. Recording was treated in this manner for more than fifty years. Only in the 1960s did The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Phil Spector, Jimi Hendrix, Motown, Pink Floyd, etc. begin to look that the recorded piece of music as the work of art in and of itself. That is why I think the music of that era was particularly strong. These artists were exploring the possibilities of a brand new art form. Of course, that art form had a lot of gas in it. And although the basic rules of that art form had pretty much been established by the end of the 1960s, clearly there was plenty of room left for exploration.

Until now. Honestly, I think the art of recorded music is finally out of gas for good. But that's OK! It's nothing that we need to mourn. It's just how the cookie crumbles. So the real reason why music magazines are dying is that there isn't any music out there that's really worth reading about anymore, and at one point there actually was. Weiner proves my point by attempting to name some of the few music superstars of today. He names Beyonce, Kanye West, and Kelly Clarkson. Man are we screwed. We're just screwed.

For music to once again be an exciting art form, it needs to take on a different ... form. If I could tell you exactly at this moment what that form might be, I would not be sitting here writing a blog post, I can tell you that. What I can tell you is that it needs to be as different from recorded music as recorded music was from classical composition. "3D music," perhaps? Plugging music directly into your brain? You get the idea. It needs to be so impressive that it makes 1960s rock sound boring and old-fashioned, the way that sound film made silent film seem instantly antiquated. You know there's a problem when music that's forty years old sounds not only better, but much better than the music of today. Old music is not supposed to sound better than new music.

Somebody out there better be working on this.