5 Things That Can Do No Wrong In My Book (And 2 Other Related Lists)

Some of the things I love come under intense fire and scrutiny, and I am forced to intensely defend them.  Conversely, there are things that I am done defending – they have crossed a certain line of mediocrity that I cannot follow.  And then there are a few things that certainly have made mistakes, but I have not given up on yet.

So, because, as you know, I love lists, after the jump you will be treated to five things I constantly defend, five things I’m done defending, and five things that I feel still deserve defense, even if they’ve slipped up recently.

Five Things That Can Do No Wrong In My Book

1. Green Day

Can we stop already with the bullshit?  I’m so sick of the sell-out argument.  Of course Green Day sold out!  You would too in their position (i.e. the position to make millions of dollars playing music).  And they did it in 1994!  Get over it!  Are they still punk?  What’s punk?  Define it for me.  If punk means doing things your own way, always evolving, and giving it 110% and sticking to your guns no matter what others may want you to do, then yes…Green Day is fucking punk.  Sure, they’re older now and their sound has changed – they now resemble the big-rock of the Who more than the Sex Pistols.  But times change.  People change.  Punk has changed.  Music has changed.  And I am proud to say that I have changed with them.  Yes, I love old Green Day.  I also adore new Green Day.  American Idiot is a masterpiece.  21st Century Breakdown is great.  I can’t wait to see the musical.  I can’t wait to see them again this August.  And I can’t wait to listen to Insomniac again, for the millionth time.  Call them what you will – Green Day is still kicking ass.

2. Beatles

This should be a no-brainer.  I just love running into people who feel the need to be so different and pretentious that they dare to say that the Beatles are not a) the greatest band ever, b) an awesome band whom they highly respect, or c) a really great band, even though they’re not fans.  Anything other than those choices is mindless.  What could I say that hasn’t already been said?  It’s difficult to argue with these kinds of people because they obviously are not genuine music fans, or they’re simply making a statement in order to run against the grain, or whatever.  Dude, go back to 1976.  We’ll stay in the real world, where the Beatles are seminal, and everyone is thanking them for making music awesome and getting rid of Elvis.  In the meantime, listen to Abbey Road and shut the hell up.

3. South Park

A show that has run as long as South Park will always run into criticism for jumping the shark – maybe the writing has become stale and samey, or the comedy isn’t there anymore.  But these arguments are inherently false.  I recently read a blog post out there in the mighty Web arguing that South Park should end its run because all the episodes deal with current events.  What’s wrong with that?  That’s what the show has always done.  Do we need more character development after twelve years?  What do you NOT know about the kids in this series?  If anything, the show has gotten better.  The ideas are original, and the stories are hilarious.  A Facebook/Tron parody?  Randy getting testicular cancer just so he can smoke medicinal marijuana?  And did you see the 200th episode?  They threw back to old episodes without rehashing old jokes.  And they still push buttons, recently with Tiger Woods and the Muslim prophet Muhammad (again).  I hope they renew after next year and keep the show going; there’s just too much stupidity in the world for Matt and Trey not to be around to make fun of it.

4. Lubbock bands

Lubbock bands are the most independent, talented, and hardest-working musicians out there, and if you disagree, you haven’t met the boys in the Numerators, La Panza, Thrift Store Cowboys, Diamond Center, and One Wolf.  There are so many others, too.  When these guys get bad press, I am on the computer starting a flame war.  When someone claims a band is too weird or slow, I am pissed and retorting to an idiot with a short attention span.  People just don’t get it – Lubbock bands come from a place mostly devoid of relevant culture, a little city in the middle of nowhere, and they’ve put together a scene so fantastic and unique the world should take notice.  Even when Lubbock bands emulate others, they end up doing it better.  Because we’ve got the time out here to perfect what you couldn’t.  I’ll watch a Dry Heeves show over Abe Vigoda and the Strange Boys any day of the week.  Lovers of music all around will appreciate and envy the sounds of Lubbock, a city that has more going for it than you would imagine.

5. The 90’s

I love this decade.  Grunge, punk, hip-hop, euro-dance, decent country music, and a plethora of one-hit wonders that were unforgettable.  Sure, no decade is perfect, but name a better one – the noodling, over-idealistic 60’s?  No thanks.  The slow, aimless, overproduced 70’s?  Nope.  Wanna defend the hair metal and Culture Club worship that was the 80’s?  I didn’t think so.  No, we had it good in the 90’s, and the quicker people realize it, the better.  The music was awesome, the Simpsons were actually funny, and the economy was so good our President was getting blowjobs.  I really adore those ten years – truly, madly, deeply.

Five Things I Am Done Defending

1. Weezer

Sorry, guys.  Raditude was the final straw.  I stuck with you through the Green album, and I thought Maladroit was pretty bad-ass, and that’s more than most people can say.  But when Rivers got married and fell off the deep end, the music got bad.  Really bad.  Like, a mid-life mundane kind of bad.  Make Believe was fucking painful.  I tried to love it – I did.  But it was no use.  The Red album?  Horrible.  I couldn’t even get through it.  Maybe I just don’t get it anymore – some bands you grow with, some you don’t.  But Weezer have done the opposite – rather than progress, they regressed – so much that they do Lady Gaga covers live and write songs that imitate bands that were originally imitating them.  Blue and Pinkerton will always hold special places in my heart, but these guys don’t even sound like that band anymore.  They sound lost.  And I’m done being lost with them.

2. The Office

This show jumped the shark a long time ago: Jim and Pam are married, they have a child, and no one else is really that interesting in comparison.  Sure, Michael, Andy, and Dwight are all funny, but it’s all been done – the shtick has been revealed over and over and over.  So when someone says this show isn’t that great anymore, I’m inclined to agree with them – at this point, they’re treading water.

3. Eminem

I’ve had a lot of patience with this guy – more than most.  It’s because those first two albums were so mind-blowingly amazing.  But then came the over-serious Eminem Show.  Then the juvenile Encore, featuring an over-done Pee-Wee Herman imitation and plenty of toilet humor.  So when Slim Shady took a break, I was very happy – maybe he would get his shit together.  But, alas, last year’s Relapse was a mess – a sloppy comeback record I felt like I had already heard.  He’s got a new one coming out in June, but I won’t be following.  His rapping has not taken a beating – the man is still one of the best rhymers out there.  It’s what he’s rapping about, and the leftover beats Dre decides to churn out.  Marshall needs a new producer and a makeover.

4. Tim Burton

Alice In Wonderland wasn’t the first time you let me down, Tim.  Big Fish, Corpse Bride, and the Planet of the Apes remake were all sub-par efforts from such a great director.  You’ve used up every bit of talent Johnny Depp has; he’s probably sick of your phone calls, and, frankly, you’ve made him a little typecast.  Helena Bonham Carter, too.  Now I hear you’re going to remake your classic Frankenweenie – say it ain’t so.  You’re already Hot Topic’s answer to Stephen Spielberg, don’t become their answer to George Lucas, too!

5. Tom Morello

Rage Against the Machine is one of my favorite bands of all time.  Morello’s guitar playing is classic – he’s one of the finest shredders of the past twenty years.  So why can’t he get his shit together?  After the disaster that was Audioslave, Brad and Tim knew to lay low until the reunion shows, but not Tom.  He started the generic Nightwatchmen project, then followed it up with the stale Street Sweeper Social Club.  He needs to take a different direction altogether, because the has-been badge isn’t as bright as those burning American flags.

Five Things I Haven’t Given Up On Yet

1. Saturday Night Live

The show has had its ups and downs for 35 years now, but since Will Ferrel left, no one has really stepped up to the plate and made SNL that dynasty it once was.  The last ten years have been touch-and-go – the best moments have been the political bits with Tina Fey as Sarah Palin and the Digital Shorts featuring Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake.  But I have high hopes – the cast isn’t terrible, and the show hasn’t been at an unfunny low like that of 1980 and 1995.  So I’ll keep watching.  After all, I’m really looking forward to Betty White hosting later this season.

2. The Strokes

The side projects were all mediocre.  Julian’s album was only halfway good, neither of Albert’s albums were that great, Nickel Eye was boring, and Little Joy was only cool for a short amount of time.  I was pretty mad that they left us on hiatus with such a disappointment like First Impressions of Earth, but I’m ready for this year and the new, hopefully awesome album coming up.  Maybe, with all their powers combined, we’ll get something as decent as Is This It? again, or maybe even as phenomenal as Room On Fire!  Knock on wood.

3. David Fincher

Fincher hasn’t done enough to abandon my defense of him.  He’s directed plenty of great music videos, and his movies have always been favorites of mine.  His future projects look intriguing as well.  There’s only one name that irks me that Fincher is associated with: Benjamin Button.  That film was atrocious.  Forrest Gump on rewind.  But I’m willing to look past it.  Because overall, the track record of this director is better than most in the business.  One bad movie does not trump a career of greatness.  But Brad Pitt’s on thin ice.

4. Clipse

After Lord Willin‘ and Hell Hath No Fury, two revolutionary coke-rap albums, we were treated to the banality of last year’s Til the Casket Drops.  But the boys are great live and still hardcore, so I’m hoping they dish that out more the next go-around in the studio.  Until then, I’ll sit patiently, listen to “Ride Around Shining” one more time, and move ‘caine like a cripple.

5. Barack Obama

I don’t like to get too political around here, so I’ll make this quick.  The media, especially Fox News, obviously, treat Obama like he’s the worst president we’ve ever had.  Dubya, anyone?  How quickly we forget this guy is cleaning up someone else’s mess.  And there’s not a doubt in my mind he’s doing the best he can.  He was a lame duck until about a month ago when he got HCR passed (you’re welcome, America).  And on his watch, we’ve made slow progress with the economy and jobs.  So give your shitty approval ratings and biased propaganda rhetoric to a President that deserves it.  Obama is working hard, and the public sees it.  That’s why Republican approval ratings aren’t faring much better – even people that hate Obama for no reason know that the GOP can’t help us.

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