My Distinct Lack of Music

I’m a daydreamer. It’s bad—I would say I’m daydreaming nearly half of the day. If you see me, and I’m being quiet, I’m definitely somewhere deep in my mind imagining vast battles, heroic triumphs, or solemn goodbyes. This is especially true if I’m listening to music.

Cutaway to tiny Daniel sitting in a movie theater with a bowl cut and a slack jaw. Watching [insert movie] and getting caught up in the climax. Those pivotal scenes always punctuated with a score that enhances those moments. The crescendos when the protagonist wins, and the diminuendo when all feels lost.

Half the time, I wouldn’t remember the exact scene in the movie, but whatever song is was gets stuck in my head for the rest of time. This still happens to this day—certain scenes in shows and movies and games have a score or soundtrack that just fucking crushes it.

Furiosa being stabbed and desperately trying not to drop Max.

Raiden facing off against metal gear Ray.

Colonol Mustang bringing his enemy to their knees.

I look at the image and I can hear the music. I know not only the song that plays, but  very nearly the exact part of the song that is playing.

I think I was 12 when our parents bought me my first portable CD player. I listened to CD’s laying around the house for a while, but I soon learned to burn my favorite songs to CD’s. Dad showed me KaZaA and how I could download my favorite songs and then burn them, and that moment basically defined my imagination for a long damned time.

This gave way to MP3 players which I used until 2014. I still have one or two of my borked MP3 players in a box somewhere. For a good long while I used my PSP as my music player. I can remember walking around the adidas campus, listening to music, and daydreaming about stuff.

Then I was given my first smart phone. This changed everything. Not only could I store my own music on my phone, but I could stream music to my phone. My daydream game had been improved significantly.

It’s been a couple years now. I still get lost in daydreams all the time, usually about Rogue Trader, Dungeons and Dragons, or some other thing I need to write. I listen to music and try to carefully curate music for when I’m running a game for my friends. The problem I’m facing now is that I am basically out of music. I’ve listened to everything I have way too many times.

Now that I can search for a song from my phone, I don’t discover music anymore. I’m always listening to the song I was thinking about. I don’t listen to the radio, and I don’t see enough movies or shows to really find more. Now when I find a song I really like, I listen to it on repeat for sometimes hours until I’m over it.

I’ve been using things like YouTube Music and Amazon Music to help me branch out and explore, but it doesn’t really help me find more because that requires me to listen to the music.

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I am simply terrible at listening to music and enjoying it. Songs take me somewhere—somewhere I’ve been before; somewhere I want to be. New songs struggle to do that. Most of my favorite songs and albums were accompanied by something else, and I’m taken back to that moment while I’m listening. It’s really difficult for me to find new music because it frequently feels soulless or that something’s missing. I think this is a big reason why I don’t like rap and country—it’s hard to daydream over it.

I’m sure someone reading this is like, “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” And I agree! I frequently wish I could switch it off and just enjoy an album for what it is. But that album needs to inspire me, or take me somewhere in my imagination for me to really want to listen to it again and again.

There was a massive period of my life where I was listening to a lot of symphonic metal (black metal or heavy metal depending on who’s categorizing it). Bands like Epica, Nightwish, Kamelot, Within Temptation—most of their songs are metal but include symphonies or choruses. It just makes it feel epic—like a soundtrack. And that really clicked with me. I couldn’t even tell you what half of the songs were about, but the melodies, crescendos, and diminuendos all played nicely to whatever scene was playing out in my head.

I have trouble finding new genres that make me feel that way. I will sometimes stumble upon something, but I wear it out way too quickly.

I wouldn’t really call myself a music lover, but music is critically important to my imagination and my inspiration. Half the time when I’m trying to write a quest for one of my games, I need to find the right song first. I’m not sure what music means to all of you, but in many cases I feel like music is an I.V. drip to my soul, and without it my imagination begins to dry up.

#SendMusic

—DTM

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An Open Letter to Critics

Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  The whole point of an opinion is that it can’t inherently be wrong.  Your opinion is correct to you.  My opinion is correct to me.

The greatest part is that we can disagree and be civil and have awesome discussions.

That being said- the recent ratings with Suicide Squad have made me realize something: people have their expectations way too high.  I know that systems like Rotton Tomatoes are kinda biased and I shouldn’t treat them as the final grade on my term paper, but it is a good frame of reference.

I want to bring it up because I feel like its a good example of critics being- well uh- too critical.

It’s their job to critique things, and even though I don’t have a prevalent voice on the web, I understand that it is easy to write about things that are bad and its more difficult to write about things that are good.

This, I feel, causes critics to slant everything in a bad way.

Read this:

Suicide Squad is bad. Not fun bad. Not redeemable bad. Not the kind of bad that is the unfortunate result of artists honorably striving for something ambitious and falling short. Suicide Squad is just bad. It’s ugly and boring, a toxic combination that means the film’s highly fetishized violence doesn’t even have the exciting tingle of the wicked or the taboo. (Oh, how the movie wants to be both of those things.) It’s simply a dull chore steeped in flaccid machismo, a shapeless, poorly edited trudge that adds some mildly appalling sexism and even a soupçon of racism to its abundant, hideously timed gun worship. But, perhaps worst of all,Suicide Squad is ultimately too shoddy and forgettable to even register as revolting. At least revolting would have been something.

-Vanity Fair

That’s a single paragraph from Vanity Fair.  Now, if you haven’t seen Suicide Squad, that’s gonna sound fucking vicious.  Vanity Fair just pimp slapped that movie while it was sleeping.  The reason, I believe, that they released this review August 2nd (3 days before the movie was out to the public) was because the movie wasn’t terrible at all.  The movie was pretty good.

This isn’t going to end up being a review of Suicide Squad but for those are curious on my opinoin: the movie was perfectly fine, had a few good moments, had a few things that I probably would change.  It was a great, middle of the road, enjoyable movie.  I’ll probably buy it when it comes out!

The reason I personally give it that rating is because I don’t think the movie was trying to be anything more.  It knew what it was aiming for.  It knew it was going to be a summer blockbuster with some recognizable DC characters, and wasn’t trying to change the game.

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Some people take games way too seriously.

And that’s what I wanna clumsily segue into: it’s fine for movies to aim for a passing grade.  Think back to the 90’s.  Think of those fun movies you remember that weren’t trying to get Oscars, Emmys, Academy Awards, Goldon Globes, Graham Crackers, or whatever other arbitrary awards we give to stuff.

Think about movies like Rush Hour, Liar Liar, Fifth Element, Hook, and Shanghai Noon;  there are tons more.  Those movies are pretty fucking awesome, but I believe we can all agree that they definitely aren’t going to win awards.  We had fun watching them.  They told their story and that’s about that.

Starting in the mid 2000’s we had a very important thing happen: the Harry Potter movies started coming out.  They were a crazy grand slam that made their studio a ton of money.  And it fucking brought in money for years after the first one because there were seven fucking books.

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The Boy Who Lived Large.

This set a precedent for having long sagas of movies and also for having a money making formula.  If a movie couldn’t cash fucking checks was a failure, even if it made its money back.  The hype had to be real.  More and more trailers were being released for stuff and they were trying to make sure that movies were highly anticipated.

This changed the formula.  Movies had to be carefully planned hits.  Carefully planned media presence and rushed trailers.  Everyone was trying to be the next huge series.  Which was bad for many reasons.  Everyone started holding everything to a really high standard.  And we lost sight of the middle ground movies that didn’t want to try and be a huge blockbuster hit.

But, but- movies have to make their money goddammit.  Wait- we aren’t sure it will?  Cut the finale into two parts.

When we grade everything on some crazy gold standard we become unfair to anything not competing for the gold.  Critics grade even harsher because they can use fancy words.

It’s simply a dull chore steeped in flaccid machismo, a shapeless, poorly edited trudge that adds some mildly appalling sexism and even a soupçon of racism to its abundant, hideously timed gun worship.

The fuck is a soupçon?

 

The movies that want to continue having film be a storytelling device get low scores because they didn’t want to kill themselves building space mansions out of money. Think about movies like The Boondock Saints, A Night at the Roxbury, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), and Waiting.  These movies were telling simple stories with a handful of characters.  They didn’t have massive effects budgets and weren’t trying to blow minds.  They were aiming for their target, not the moon.

So why do they grade them like they were trying to?

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Waiting

Notice the audience scores.

 

So, to any critics who are reading this for some absurd reason: when you take the time to write your review, I implore you to think about what the movie is trying to do.  We separate our Olympics by gender, size, style, and difficulty- but we hold all movies to the same standard?

I’m not trying to say that those movies deserve A+ for aiming for the middle, but the gap between what critics think and what audiences think seem to be weirdly far apart.  Yes, you may be grading it against a guide that you learned about in Critic School (the comment section on Youtube) but they all can’t be the greatest.

Small studios can do amazing things, but its hard for all of them to trying to be the best like no one ever was.  We are able to appreciate the grandeur that some movies go for because we have middle ground movies to base it against.  I love the Rush Hour movies, but they can’t be held up against Mad Max.  Waiting is a pretty funny movie, but I can’t possibly say its on the same level as Tropic Thunder.

Mad Max Tropic thunder

I just had the greatest idea.

-DTM