Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


You know what really grinds my gears? People who are close minded.

On a personal level, it's infuriating when people around you constantly give you flack for things you might like watching or listening to or reading or what have you.  I realize not everybody likes everything, and that when in a relationship - whether it be familial or platonic or romantic - you aren't subjected into a contract where you need to share everything in common.  I love Lady Gaga, but I'm a minority among my friends; likewise, my bleeding heart friends (haha I kid) might love indie-ish music or Grey's Anatomy or Taylor Lautner, but I don't.  On that basis, we aren't NOT friends - I haven't ditched them because they aren't keen on the Gaga; on that basis, whenever I talk about Lady Gaga they don't go "shut up, stop talking, I hate her, etc," and so on and so forth.  You get the gist.  Similarly, I don't shove Lady Gaga down their throats; I don't tie them to a chair in a locked room playing Bad Romance for 48 hours until they convert.  I respect what they enjoy, they respect what I enjoy, and while we may talk about the things that don't quite overlap on the enjoyment spectrum, we don't force them upon each other nor do we talk down on each other for liking the things we might not.

Kind of in a similar vein, it bothers me when people force their interests on you as if it's rule.  Like I said above: a relationship of any kind isn't based on sharing every single interest.  Opposites attract, don't they?  Cliche, cliche.  But yeah, I do agree that there are SOME similarities between party A and party B to lead them to WANT to stick around each other, and yeah, not all of your favourite musical artists or activities may line up with theirs.  Keeping with the contract idea: you aren't contracted to like all of the same things, nor are you contracted to HAVE to like the same things.  It's only natural; as I've already said, I may not like some of the things some of my friends do, but that doesn't give me the right to constantly talk about how much I may dislike them.  I respect what they enjoy, as much as I would hope they respect what I enjoy/Gaga.  (fuck, everything comes back to her)

Of course, it's in our fibers to want to share the things we love.  I try my hardest to sneak in a Gaga song here and there on a party playlist; on those lazy summer days I consent to watching a few hours of the Family channel after finishing a movie that was chosen by a vote that wasn't unanimous.  That being said, I don't share these things (whatever they may be, I'm tired of using Lady Gaga as my example, since half of the things I've said I really don't do, but it helps to make my point clearest) with effort to force them upon others.  I respectfully note their indifference or what have you to the matter at hand, and truthfully, I stop if I'm told that really, Bad Romance is just really, really offending them or inappropriate or (more seriously, as those weren't really) annoying.  (okay see Gaga crept back in)

On a society level, of course, the close minded things like racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, this, that, they all truly bother me.  I feel like if I were to launch into that type of discussion I'd be opening a whole different can of worms, and truthfully, it would just look stupid only one or two paragraph breaks away from my previous, more superficial ramblings.  Same philosophy, though; it frustrates me knowing that people force their opinions as if they were set in stone.

Anyways.  That's enough of you looking into my mind.  PROTEGO!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Confessions of a paranoid neurotic

I have a ton of quirks and weird habits.  Some with reason, some just too strange to look into.

  • I can only get in my bed from the left side.  If I don't... something doesn't seem right.
  • Every time I go into the bathroom upstairs I need to pull open the shower curtains to make sure that there's nobody there.  I think it stemmed from seeing that movie Thir13en Ghosts, since there was that one naked ghost who had Exorcist-like cuts all over her body and who hung out in a bloody bathtub.  That's irrational, she doesn't exist.  But murderers do.  Therefore I check the bathtub.  At any hour of the day.
  • The first day of class is always the most crucial: the way that I write my notes that day will set the norm for how I write them the rest of the semester.  If I write important terms in red capitals, I write important terms in red capitals all semester.  If I use dots (like this list) this is how I do it all semester.  It's very stressful.
  • I don't do well with spontaneous plans, I much prefer to know exactly what'll happen.  Being friends with the people I am have got me to loosen up with my spontaneity.
  • Like any other obsessive compulsive, I hate when my food touches on my plate.  I eat the simplest forms of food with the least mix and mash of ingredients.  Hamburgers from McDonald's?  Plain.  Nothing.  No condiments, no lettuce, nothing.
  • I can't fall asleep unless my closet doors are closed.  An axe murderer could be in there, you know.
  • This one is.. very, very morbid.  When my parents (or anyone) say that they're going out for an hour and end up being out for longer, I immediately think that there's been a horrible accident and that the police haven't been able to contact me.  I logged "Home" as a contact in my blackberry just in case that ever happened to me.

I'm crazy.

    B-B-Born This Way

    Two Gaga posts in a row?  I know, I know.  I really can't pass this up.  Not that I have a defined plan for this post at all, I think it'll be all over the place.

    Do I love the song?  Absolutely.  The beat is unbelievable, the fast pace is refreshing (if not a little TOO fast - but I think that's just because for the past six months the slow tune of the chorus sung at the VMAs has been stuck in my mind and I'm used to it), her vocals are as good as ever.

    I'm glad the song is doing extremely well on its first day of release.  #1 on iTunes in 20+ countries around the world - awesome.  I'm more than confident that the song will debut at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.  If it's any signal, every radio station in the area (and upon my research, in the country and in the US) has been playing the song every hour.  I am beyond excited for the Grammy performance of the song.

    Now for the negatives.  Oh, yes, there are always negatives.

    I'm worried that the song will fail, commercially if not with reception.  Gaga fans alike have expressed a dislike for the song, and countless sites and media outlets are calling the song out as ripping off Madonna.  I'm concerned that the revolutionary sounding dance beat isn't overly commercial, and that the general public may not receive it overly well on the radio.  That's just foolishness now, though, looking at the sales and radio airplay.

    My main problem with the song, though: I've grown bored of the whole inspirational wave of music on the radio - We R Who We R, Raise Your Glass, Firework, Fucking Perfect (Fucking Perfect is a really really gorgeous song though).  We get it, it's a great message to send to listeners.  Love yourself.  If not for the overload, I'd still like the idea.  In fact, I don't have a problem with the message in Born This Way at all.  It's problem is that it's a bit too heavy-handed.

    Gaga's new song comes across as nearly TOO specialized.  (I'm opening a can of worms here) The thing is, given her outspoken stance on the issue and lines like "don't be a drag, be a queen," the song feels far too much like a gay anthem.  Yes, yes.  She addresses race and religion and beauty and what have you, too; in fact, race plays a big role in the spoken word bridge of the song.  Like I mentioned, though, the fact that we know Gaga is a massive gay rights advocate and that people like Elton John have branded the song as "the new gay anthem," the song feels like nothing but that.  Again, I don't have a problem with that.  I don't have a problem with the song being a gay anthem.  My problem is that the song seems ONLY like a gay anthem.

    Consider, say, Ke$ha's We R Who We R.  Dreadful song, I know.  But that song, too, is a "gay anthem."  Its lyrics are largely applicable, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Ke$ha herself stated that she wrote the song in response to the influx of gay teen suicides.  Here's the difference: the song isn't "exclusive." (and I really, REALLY loathe using that word, but it's the only way I can make the point clear enough)  What I mean by that is sure, a young gay teenager can take the song and apply it to themselves; so can a straight male teenager, "they are who they are;" so can a female teenager, straight or gay; so can those with self esteem issues; so can those of varying races.  The song's lyrics, however poor as they may be (poor in this example.  For the sake of this you can ignore it all and use Firework as this whole example), are general, so general that ANYONE can relate.  Born This Way, on the flip side, as I've mentioned, seems a bit too focused and specialized.  Maybe it's just me.

    Either way, I truly do appreciate Lady Gaga for the heart she puts behind her lyrics.  I appreciate her growth as an artist; definitely in her sound, but more specifically in her subject matter - she's gone from songs like Money Honey to Born This Way.  I only hope that her album isn't full of her political agenda - yes, while I like the growth from singing about the superficial to singing with meaning, I DON'T want my enjoyment of the songs clouded by an overbearing message.

    Born This Way, though, seems like it might be just that.

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    The Gaga Effect

    We've come to an era in music where nearly everything and everyone is being compared to Lady Gaga.  Rihanna's wearing weird clothes?  She's ripping off Lady Gaga.  Nicki Minaj is wearing a crazy wig?  Gaga wore it first.  Oh, their music sounds like Lady Gaga.

    To be honest, as a huge Gaga fan myself, I've usually been one to say such things myself.  In fact, I'm probably going to play both sides of the argument right now, since I half agree with what I'll be complaining about while half think it's just bollocks.  And so, the central theme of hypocrisy once again shins through on this blog here of mine.

    As I said, I'm one to call out similarities to Lady Gaga.  In her absence, though, I've looked to other music to pass my time.  I came across a certain Natalia Kills, and I quite like her.  She's only just getting radio airplay here with her song Mirrors, and I'm sure you've heard it if you aren't familiar with the title.  Naturally, I wanted to hear more from her.  I came across the music video for her song titled Zombie, and I couldn't help but notice the video had a very Alejandro vibe to it (dark imagery, big white block letters at the beginning, etc etc).  I then moved onto the comments: nothing but slanders about how she's just a huge Lady Gaga ripoff, about how it's a copy of Gaga's Alejandro video.

    Here's the interesting thing.. the music video for Natalia Kills' Zombie was released on March 15th 2010.  Alejandro was released on June 8th.

    This is, perhaps, one of the better examples of this: yes, Lady Gaga is unbelievably amazing, but SHE DID NOT INVENT MUSIC.

    I will agree that since the Gaga Revolution many artists have been greatly influenced to change their image.  Ever since Lady Gaga, image, overall, has become more edgy and unique.  I wouldn't call that mimicry or stealing though; it's merely a sink or swim reaction.  Cultural revolution doesn't happen with one person's action; a change at all happens with one large motion, not by one instigator.  Change doesn't happen with everyone remaining static.  Yes, everyone out there seems like Lady Gaga now; that's because she was the biggest and first motion, and everyone soon followed her.  It isn't ripping her off, acting a bit like her: she didn't invent her music style, she didn't invent the idea of shock imagery, she didn't invent high fashion.

    Even she drew inspiration from other people.  In this world, it's absolutely impossible to be 100% unique: in your writing, you'll find you'll use cliches since they're the easiest way to say something; in the way you dress, it'll reflect what you saw and liked on other people.  And that being said, I reiterate that Lady Gaga didn't invent music: as her songs or image may look a great deal like artists in the past, the artists of the future will bear some resemblance to her own.

    On the flip side, though, there are blatant motions of mimicry.  These instances are a bit more inexcusable: Lady Gaga, instigating change, doesn't DEFINE what change is; therefore it's up to everyone after her to interpret her change and apply it to themselves.  Therefore releasing a video that looks a bit too much like Bad Romance is an undeniable copycat move (I'm looking at you, certain unnamed once popular female singer).  Aside from that, yeah, I scratch my head when I see Katy Perry's chest emit fireworks, or when I see absolutely every recent music video start with a title card.  Even still, they aren't blatant attempts on ripping Lady Gaga off; they merely reflect her huge impact each time (the level in which they reflect her impact may be a bit too obvious, though).

    I could launch into so many more topics about the so called "Gaga Effect" - for one, how difficult it may be to be a straight fan supporting her whole Born This Way era, but that's a whole different and much more touchy subject - but I figured I had to say something about how over the top and easy it's become to write off new talent as a Lady Gaga ripoff.  If everyone were to come to a halt completely and accept Lady Gaga as the be all end all of difference, then we'll never see anyone else shine.

    EDIT: It's kinda funny now how Born This Way is under fire for sounding too much like a handful of Madonna songs.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Mr. Nice Guy

    Hi, I'm Matt.  This here is called the Haus of Matt, my blog, and I publish blog posts here often!

    (just in case you've forgotten, of course, since it's been AGES since I've contributed something meaningful)

    Think to yourself: when you think Matt, when you picture my smiling mug in your mind, what's the first description you think of?  Aside from maybe funny or tall (or jokingly rude things, and I'm looking at you, you handful of funny people), you may think "nice."

    Am I being egotistical?  Absolutely not.  I think it's common knowledge that I'm a nice guy; in fact, I pride myself on it.  It's one of the better things about me, I'd say.

    Is there a point where I'm TOO nice?

    I've been trying to evaluate this about myself as of late.  I put it in my best effort to be a really good friend: do I put my friends so far ahead of me that I forgot about myself?  I try my hardest to be as nice as possible to everyone I know, from close friends to not so close friends to acquaintances I see often: is there I point where I come off as a pushover?  Do I send off the message of Hey, walk all over me?

    There isn't a defined answer.  If "yes" to any of it, what would I do?  I wouldn't consciously decide that to "change" myself - that is to say, I wouldn't decide to start acting more rude.  In fact, I don't know how to act any other way; my "too-niceness" is the norm for me, and to act any differently would be completely superficial.  Does that show that I was born naive, thinking that everyone in the world is good enough to deserve kindness?  Or does it show that - pardon this if I sound full of myself - I'm really THAT good of a person, so nice that it's sickening?  Who knows.  Like I've already said I don't have an actual answer; instead I have more and more questions.

    Here's another: is this issue actually destroying my life?  Pish posh, of course not.  I'm not overly bothered by this.  It's merely some Matt food for thought.  Hopefully it's tasty.