Indie Queen - Marvelous 3 (mp3)
Disappointed - Connells (mp3)
In this wild life of ours, those of us with an unhealthy love for certain portions of popular culture are destined to be disappointed on occasion. Even those, like myself, who are very careful and selective in our obsessions can frequently find ourselves disappointed in ways and to degrees we never imagined. In stupid pop culture stuff!
So here are just a handful of disappointments that went well beyond the acceptable level:
I recently spent three torturous nights getting through Richard Kelly's follow-up to Donnie Darko, a 2 1/2 hour epic film called Southland Tales. With an ensemble cast culled from every corner of the pop culture universe -- Booger from Revenge of the Nerds?? The short fat lady from Poltergeist?? Nora f*#kin' Dunn from SNL?? -- even someone as unschooled on the critical lambasting this film had received could sense that Kelly was flying towards the sun with mere wings of wax.
But Southland Tales is no run-of-the-mill failure. It takes the simple notion of box office failure, tacks on 45 minutes of head-scratching randomness, throws in a scar-faced Justin Timberlake, and comes out with something that makes Showgirls look downright Oscar-worthy. Let me put it another way. Timberlake might very well have been one of the best things about the movie.
Some critics gave it props for being "ambitious," whatever the hell that means, but last I checked, an ambitious turd is still a turd. Maybe it is to movies what Ulysses is to novels, which is to say shitty and incomprehensible but so full of geeky biographical and referential goodies that it finds a fan base sometime in the future.
I'm what truly obsessed Peter Gabriel fans would call a poser. Like most folks my age, I didn't discover the guy until he came out with So. But after discovering it, I went back and got a few of his previous albums and also loyally purchased his 1992 follow-up, Us. The album was thick with sound, and although it wasn't thickly morose, almost every song felt passionate, expressing some deep emotional baggage.
As I was in college in the early '90s, my technological distractions were minimal, so I could safely waste hours in my room listening to albums over and over, and this one got heavy replay. Except for the song "Steam," which felt like Peter was writing a song specifically as some kind of sequel to his two big hits from So, "Big Time" and "Sledgehammer."
When word of his next follow-up, UP, came in 2002, I'd had a decade to build up my excitement. It only took six or seven patient, start-to-finish listens to conclude I hated that damn album. What made me angrier is that, half a year before Up was released, Gabriel had come out with "When You're Falling," a song with the Afro Celt Sound System, a song I wildly adored. (Unfortunately, the song also came out shortly before 9/11, which wasn't the time for us to hear about the celebration of falling large distances.)
My point is, Up sucked. If you liked it, great. I don't mean to piss on your parade. But for me, there wasn't a damn thing redeeming about an album that required 10 years -- a decade of precious life -- being that Gawd-awful. Go buy "When You're Falling," and you own something better than anything on that album by a loooong mile.
As previously mentioned, I love comic books. I love the mythology and notion of superheroes. Anything exploring these notions is guaranteed to earn my attention if not my devotion, and I willingly give such things the benefit of the doubt.
So Heroes was virtually guaranteed to impress me. It was taking the genre seriously. It had a plan. And it had a healthy budget.
The episodes were compelling, and I was enthralled. Granted, it never quite managed to overtake my love of Lost, but that's partially because Evangeline Lilly could only be in one series at a time and partially because I felt loyal to J.J. Abrams for casting Locke from Alias and Jack from Party of Five, two beloved shows of mine.
As the series finale edged ever closer, I started getting nervous, because what had been paced so deliciously and delicately over the course of 20 episodes was starting to feel rushed and crammed. And not in the good way that the latter half of Lost's third season did. It felt like they rushed it because it was poorly planned. Maybe not planned at all. And the "epic concluding battle" between Sylar and the do-gooders was so wildly pathetic in its special effects and so underwhelming in its scope and direction that I watched it a second time just to make sure it sucked as badly as I thought it did.
It did. It totally sucked.
CHINESE DEMOCRACY BY GUNS 'N' ROSES
OK, so it never actually got released. Maybe it never got finished. But anything that carries that much hype, with the guaranteed sales of coming from a band named Guns 'n' Roses, but never makes it out of the production booth... well, it was bound to disappoint. It was a stone cold lead pipe lock for suckage. I'm frankly glad it never came out so idiots like me didn't insist on giving it a chance to kill what teensy bit of hope exists that maybe it could have been good.
A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES
I can't really think of more than three or four books I've read to completion that I despised. Mostly because if I'm halfway through a book and don't remotely like it, I just won't finish it.
...Dunces is one of the exceptions to this rule. I kept reading because I kept working to convince myself that maybe I was missing something in it, something essential to enjoying it. Lots of folks whose opinions I truly respect love this book. And it's supposed to be funny. And it's all based in New Orleans. These are HUGE factors and ones I kept in mind whilst pushing myself deeper into my own misery.
But the closer to the end I got, the more I was confident that I totally "got it," but didn't remotely like what I'd "gotten." Understand that one man's trash is another man's treasure, but it sure as hell wasn't my treasure, or my pleasure to read.
But at least it taught me a lesson that I continue to believe firmly: Sometimes, for reasons beyond comprehension, you ain't gonna like something most others you respect adore. It's neither a defect on your part nor a brainwashing on theirs. It's merely the mystery of taste, and it's what makes life truly worth living.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION TIME!
OK folks. Kick in on this one. Disagree with any of mine? How about offering one of your own? I'd love to know some examples in your own time of encounters with pop culture that were galactically disappointing.