Sunday, December 22, 2013

2013 End of Year Media Power Rankings

2013 is coming to an end. This year like every year has brought out a lot of new media. Some of it I liked. Some of it I spent a fair amount of time actually taking in. I listened to Daft Punk's Get Lucky a fair amount. I listened to Yeezus a couple times. Magna Carta/ Holy Grail has some listenable tracks. That's about all I'm too familiar with at the moment though. I tend to have a pretty insular approach to media. I usually spend most my time taking in stuff that I already am familiar with. All this great media is coming and going almost none of which ever comes up on my radar. The worst part of this is that I never get to take part in one of America's greatest year end traditions, the best of list. I never do a best of list, because I very rarely listen to, watch or read ten of anything produced in a year that year. But this year I'm saying "fuck it," just because I'm not the most up to date guy doesn't mean I can't put my dumb media opinions out into the ether. But since I don't have the references for a best of list I decided to a media power ranking instead. This isn't necessarily the newest or hottest of the last year, but who brought it the most in terms of making me happy.

Even though this is the first year I've done this, I can tell you there were some pretty big upsets this year. Meat Loaf isn't on there. It just shows that no positions are given away. I thought Jay Z really earned both spots in coveted top 5. I expect Meat Loaf will come back hard next year and show the world what he's got.

And remember, this is obviously very scientific and should be taken extremely seriously.

Music

#1 Adele - 21 



I would've loved to see a little more competition for the top spot, but honestly shit wasn't even close. I was unfamiliar with Adele until her concert video, Live at Royal Albert Hall played heavily at the Best Buy I was working at. I picked up both 19 and 21 and have been listening to them on repeat since. Both are good, but 21 is great. Completely listenable from start to finish. So much so that I do. A lot. If you're not familiar with it pick it up, I think you'll be impressed.

#2 Jay Z - The Black Album 




This year Jay Z released Magna Carta Holy Grail. It’s okay. I like a couple songs off of it, and I don’t think it’s awful, but it certainly isn’t the best. Whenever an artist releases something that’s not nearly as good as their former self it makes me want nothing more than to just listen to their best stuff. And I don’t care who you ask the best of Jay is The Black Album. I’ve gotten in more than a few drunken fights over whether or not Blueprint deserves top honors. It fucking doesn’t

#3 The Beatles - Abbey Road 



I’ve always been a Beatles guy. I think they were the first band I actually spent money on to buy their CD. I think I got this when I was sixteen. It was always good and enjoyed it’s fair share of airplay by me, but this summer it really stepped up it’s game. Track 6 through the end might be my favorite section of recorded music ever. I imagine you've at least heard of the album. If you haven't listened to it you're probably an asshole who chooses not to listen to The Beatles just to be a annoying contrarian. You're only hurting yourself.



#4 Neutral Milk Hotel - The Aeorplane over the sea 



I first heard this album eight or nine years ago and it pretty quickly became one of my absolute favorites. Even though this is the first of these I’ve done I’d say that this a strong favorite to have this same spot damn near every year.

#5 Jay Z - The Blueprint  



Despite what I just said earlier this is still a great album. This album is on here because of a number of drunken fights over whether or not The Blueprint was better than The Black Album. It’s not, but I did sit down and really listen to this one and it is great. Great enough to make this list. Keep it up Jay, you’ve got a bright future in this biz.


TV

#1 Breaking Bad 


I’m not sure if you have heard of this show, but pretty good. Most shows when they’re done I look forward to revisiting it in a year or so. I don’t know if I ever want to watch Breaking Bad again. As Breaking Bad was coming to an end I was talking about it with good buddy Brad Austin. I was lamenting the fact that I wouldn’t have Breaking Bad to look forward to any longer. His view was that he was almost looking forward to it being over. At the time I thought he was a fool who should never be allowed to have opinions. Even though he is a fool, as soon as Breaking Bad was over I saw his point. It was like a weight had been lifted off me. I didn’t need to worry about it anymore. I’d gladly welcome another show that can pull me in the way Breaking Bad did, but I kinda hope another one never comes along.



#2 Firefly



Opinions on Firefly fall into three distinct camps: People who fucking love it, people who haven’t seen it, and jerks who pretend not to like it because they're too wrapped up into their own too cool for schoolness to admit they’ve just witnessed greatness. This show is riding high as the number two spot. It's an early favorite to have number one next year since I can almost guarantee you I will not be revisiting Breaking Bad anytime soon. But I did just start on Game of Thrones so there'll be some heavy competition for Mal and the crew to contend with. 

#3 Star Trek DS9



Even Though this doesn’t have the top spot. Great show. The least Star Trekey of all the Star Treks in a good way. There are cheesy moments just like all Star Treks, but when it’s right there’s nothing that competes. Fun fact: The episode The Visitor has made me cry every time I’ve seen it. I usually skip over it when it comes up. 

#4 & #5 Parks and Recreation & How I Met Your Mother



Sometimes you don’t want dramas. Sometimes you just want to unwind with some comedy. Usually I treat sitcoms like well whiskey, sometimes you need a still 22 minute shot of some RJ Hodges to help you relax. There are sitcoms I love, but generally the shows I keep on going back to are dramas, space ones and other. I just saw Parks and Rec earlier this year. I don’t know if I'll keep on coming back to these shows or their placement on this list is a one off kind of thing, but they were good. Not good enough where I tried to watch them live or even close to air time, but good enough where I’m excited when I see their are new episodes on Netfiix. I look forward to seeing how HIMYM ends this year. Not enough to actually go out of my way to watch it, but still. I can't imagine these shows will be on this list every year, but goddammit they made me happy. And that's what this is all about. 


Movies

#1 This is the End 



Great. Just a great movie. Hadn’t laughed this hard in years. 

#2 Star Trek: The Best of both Worlds



2013 saw the release of two Stars Treks in theaters. The sequel to the 2009 Star Trek reboot, Into Darkness and a remastered theaticral release of two episodes Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Best of Both Worlds parts 1 & 2. Into Darkness was just okay. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t too good. Even in a year where I’m trying to rack my brain about how many movies I saw, it doesn’t make the list. The Best of Both Worlds on the other hand, GREAT! If they released every episode in the theaters I’d go see nearly every one. Actually I’d skip most of the first two seasons because there’s a lot of stinkers in there. But most I’d pay good money to see remastered with better sound. My one gripe with the event, why was in not remastered to be formatted for 16:9? Seems so silly. Why go through all the trouble of making something fit for high definition then still have it made for older TVs. I suppose they’ll do that next year and expect me to shell out money to see it again in the theaters. Something I will gladly do. 

#3 Serenity



The movie that got fans of Firefly to stop crying for a little bit. Granted it’s not enough, but it’s good. It had Firefly's wit. It was nice to see what was possible with a larger special effects budget. It was great to see some of the loose ends get tied up, albeit a little too quickly. Sometimes I was Serenity and I'm happy that I got to see a little bit of resolution to Firefly, sometimes I just wish it would've gotten a chance to get played out over a few more seasons on TV. Fuck you Fox.

#4 & #5 The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises



Don't let the fact that these two are towards the bottom of the list fool you. These are both great movies. Anyone who doesn't think so is an idiot whose wrong. I don't remember watching too many movies this year. I saw Flight. I liked it, but it's not one I'll be going back to over and over. I saw Taken. Thought it was brilliant, but that's another one I can't imagine watching repeatedly. I will however be there with bells on for Taken 3. I really wanted to like Man of Steel. I didn't really, but I wanted to. When trying to think of the movies I saw and liked this year I would be lying if these didn't trump most the other ones. I watched and loved both again and would be surprised if this list doesn't include at least of these two and Serenity just about every year.


All mentioned have had a strong 2013 and should be proud. Only time will tell where they rank next year. 2014, like every year will bring a lot of strong competition. Nobody on this list is foreign to competition, and I'm sure they'll all make a strong push to be back here next year. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Black Friday: Know Your Enemy

I’ve only got a couple more posts about retail life ahead of me, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say a couple words about Black Friday. I didn’t just capitalize that. My spell checker automatically did that for me. It’s a holiday now. It’s a holiday more than Thanksgiving is now. It’s been a long time since stuff replaced stuffing as that which we look forward to the most this time of year.

At Best Buy our schedules were pretty brutal for the two days. We opened up at 6:00 PM Thanksgiving evening and remained open until Friday at 10:00 pm. Most workers worked two shifts of about nineteen of those thirty hours total. I was given the 8:00 PM to 8:00 AM, little break, then back for 3-11. It was pretty goddamn brutal. You spend that much time at a place, any place, but work especially and you are going to get a bit cranky. I took a different approach I showed up angry as hell, mellowed out a bit, then got even angrier, switched to murderous rage, and kinda just rode that feeling out the majority of my time. When you’re angry you have to either go into self examination mode. Go into why you’re where you are and what you need to do to get yourself out of there. OR you can blame of other people for your shitty lot.
Well, Mr. CEO I hope you're ready for a business end of a blog!
If you’re like me you’ll come up with two main focal points for your rage. customers and the bosses. Listen, I’m not a commie (anymore). People need to make money in order to get by. In order to make money you have to trade goods or services. I’m fine with all that, but within there there’s a weird message given. The company says that they’re powerless in this whole effort. But they’re not. It’s their company. People will shop when you tell them to, because people are fucking dumb. If you tell someone a twenty dollar bill is on sale they’ll gladly give you fifty for it.
Three pennies for a dollar!
People lose their minds looking for new ways to give their money away. Idiots started waiting for stores to open to get in and be the firsts to give away money. Stores saw that these mindless idiots were pounding on the doors waiting to get in so they started opening earlier and earlier. Until one day a store is going to be open before it’s even closed and a rift in the space time continuum will open up and swallow us all up.

I'm just glad I spent this time shopping and not with people I loved

The Black Friday customers usually fit into one of three groups. There are the people who have absolutely no idea what the day is all about. They were just in the neighborhood and thought they’d look at some TVs. They’re usually impatient. They never know what’s going on and they usually haven’t bought a piece of technology since FM came around. They don’t seem to realize that there’s a bloodbath going on all around them. We also get a lot of the people who think we’re allies in the whole thing. They always talk about how awful it is that I have to work on a major holiday, but then will still patronize the place and support it with their money. Whenever these jackasses stroll in commenting how all the “other” people are going nuts, I know what they’re trying to do. They want to have it both ways. They want to shop and be a part of the mayhem, but their stupid NPR brains don’t want to think that they’re just as easily manipulated as the rest of these rubes. Then of course we have the animals. These are the people you see on TV. They’ll miss 72 hours worth of work so they can get a TV that’s they could’ve bought a better version of online had they just gone to work. These people yell, they scream, they smell weird, and are awful in just about every way. These people are tough to judge too harshly though, because a lot of them just don’t know any better. You really have to pity someone who waits a day and a half in order to buy the only 60” TV they can afford only to spend four times that on when they’re told that we’re out. Simply put, some people just aren't all that bright. It’s not an inditement of them as people. I’m sure they excel at things I’m no good at. I’m sure they’re great at beating their children on the bus, but shopping smart and behaving like a human being in public are not among them. It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for someone who will buy something just because some idiot put a small red “ON SALE!” tag next to it. That tag doesn’t mean anything in and of itself, it’s just a small plastic tag. I’m the jackass who put them out. I used to have to do it very early in the morning. I very rarely did a good or accurate job at it.
Saw an ambulance and thought I missed a riot. Some idiot just fell down. Idiots. 

When passing blame around it’s hard not to go after the bosses too. The nice thing about putting anger on bosses is that if you work retail chances are every person on earth is your boss. It generally seems that as soon as a new person is hired they would be above me in the pecking order. I used to answer to everyone from the cleaning lady on up. I know all those people aren’t responsible for the work schedule so I’ll just focus my rage on the highest of my bosses. Pretty much anyone who wears a cerulean tie as opposed to a blue shirt is suspect. They say we have to be open because other places are open. And the other places are open because we’re open. But really they’re all open because they know the mob will be there if they tell to be there. The thought is that the customer is always right and places should try to meet the needs of them. That argument, like the customers, is fucking stupid. Customers will come when you tell them to. You don’t have to cater to them. There will always be people willing to shell out money. Just tell them when and where to show up and tell them that they’ll be able to save some money. I had multiple times where people got angry because Best Buy didn’t sell fruit. People are dumb and very rarely do they know how to run a multinational electronics store. You, Mr. CEO do. Albeit in kinda a shitty manner.

I shouldn’t bitch too much because a lot was done for us as employees during the holidays. We were given extra pay when and only when legally mandated PLUS  the company was nice enough to give us access to crisis counseling via telephone! All holiday season they realize that you’re gonna be worked too hard and stressed and there’s no way all of their employees will be able to handle it so they better provide for them this way. They don’t want the kind of employees who should be able to handle working November through January without snapping and they sure as shit don’t want to pump the brakes on the whole shopping thing. They’d prefer just make sure there are grief counselors standing by. They certainly hope that we don’t get to the point where we tie some blue shirts together and hang next to the very tasteful non offensive multi denominational holiday display. However if we do they want to make sure that they’re in no way legally culpable and need something to point to that shows they don't want us to kill ourselves. How many people avail themselves of this program I have no clue. I guess in my 3 plus years there I didn’t see any suicides so I suppose that’s a victory of some sort. Hell, I don’t actually know if there were or were not suicides. I only knew like ten people’s names. Everyone dresses the same so it’s kinda hard to differentiate them. There may have been a rash of suicides all last christmas and everyone was just replaced with someone who was right around the same height.

You're ass better still be here Sunday

Of course the worst person in all of this is the jackass who lets this happen year in and year out. The CEO came in the week before Thanksgiving. I didn’t say shit to him. Hell, I even shaved. I came in at 8:00 and stayed for the next twelve hours because they told me to. I took a brief nap and came back the same day because I was told to. Never ask to know who the jackass is that’s responsible for your shitty lot, for the jackass is thee.