Why does Heroes suck?

If you follow my ramblings outside this here blog you may already realize that I made the big mistake of catching up with Heroes. Yeah, yeah, I realize you all stopped watching by the end of the second season – good for you. Me? I needed real confirmation that the writers never got their heads out of the asses. And boy did I get it.

So right now I’m watching the second episode of the final season of Lost – another “sci fi” show with an excellent first season that suffered through some down times – wondering how they managed to avoid the same pitfalls. And then it hit me – Heroes tried to be Lost, while Lost was content being itself.

While the writers of Lost have spent plenty of time (too much on occasion) developing characters, they realize that the driving force behind their show is the mystery of the island. As convoluted as the show gets, we’re all just sitting on the hypothetical edge of our seats waiting for the final pieces to the puzzle to be revealed. And that’s what keeps the show moving forward and, more importantly, keeps the audience interested.

Heroes, on the other hand, found such success in its first season thanks to the intrigue of watching people discover their powers all while moving forward to a singular goal. While there were some mysterious elements (e.g. “The Company”, who was really good or bad) that was all secondary. Yet they decided that, after a season of horrendous teenage love angst, those should be the driving force. But how many times can you really debate over whether or not Sylar is bad? (He is) Or whose side HRG is on? (His own) And its not just those characters, any new characters (or old ones brought to the forefront) get the same exact treatment. Did anyone, even for a second, buy that Nathan and HRG’s government agency was a good idea for anyone? Or that this stupid carny character was anything but evil? No. So why pretend that it’s a mystery?

And this is skipping over the fact that the writers seem to think intrigue is developed simply by characters not telling each other anything. Or that a pseudo-lesbian “subplot” was thrown in out of nowhere. Or that Sylar is practically unstoppable, yet every time he is stopped the “heroes” let him go. Or any number of other ridiculous plot devices bogging down what was such a solid idea all those years ago…

Will I watch next season? Maybe the same way I did the second half of this season – online while skipping through about 80% of it. But I’d rather they just cancel the series right now. Who cares if the finale left the door open for the next chapter. Does anyone believe the next one will suddenly stop sucking?

The day the (e)Music died

This post began as one with much lyrical prose attempting to explain how my methods of musical aquisitions have changed over the years. But that became tiring. And led to this not being posted for a week. Essentially I just want to rant about the recent changes over at eMusic. Changes that have me on the verge of cancelling my account after 5 years of membership.

For those unaware, eMusic is a subscription music service. But unlike streaming services from Napster or Rhapsody, you subscribe to get a certain number of downloads each month. Each download gets you one song. Why would you buy music in this method? Because it was freakin’ cheap. On my current plan I typically pay $2 per album. Of course the follow up question is how could they sell mp3s for so little? And that has 2 answers. First, it was primarily indie, classical, jazz, and international artists that don’t sell nearly as much as the major label acts. Second, well, apparently they couldn’t…

A week ago Sony became the first of the major labels to offer some of their catalog on eMusic. In celebration, eMusic raised their rates. Significantly. Now I have no problem admitting that their business model was probably threatened and that my 17 cent per song account could not last forever, but they managed to butcher the situation worse than just about anybody could imagine.

  • Even though the “announcement” of the changes was made at the end of May, not a single e-mail to subscribers was ever sent. The original letter from the CEO was actually posted to a blog that they refer to as “unofficial”.
  • That post only spoke about the introduction of the Sony catalog – it conveniently ignored that they had already begun to implement a massive overhaul of their pricing structure.
  • Sony… SONY?!?! They went with the most heinous of the 4 major labels? This company holds nothing but contempt for their customers and that’s who they go with? The company that saw nothing wrong with infecting their customers’ computers with malware?
  • Oh, and we won’t even get the latest from Sony. Just the stuff more than 2 years old that MOST OF US ALREADY OWN!
  • They don’t just end the grandfathering of old accounts (something they claimed they would never do) – they come up with a whole new set of them. My friends who were on smaller plans then me would actually be switched (assuming they didn’t cancel) to a better plan than I am allowed to chose.
  • A couple posts on the message board claimed that they were listening, but several important questions were ignored, which leads us to the biggest screwup:
  • Album-only tracks are introduced raising the costs of many albums to 12 based, not just on track length, but on popularity (that’s right – no cherry picking the good stuff from Bad or The Final Countdown). Despite several pleas from their subscribers to clarify the concept of album pricing before July, the eMusic PR person… well… lied. She said it meant a discount and never addressed the fears that some people had about 7 and 8 track albums suddenly costing 12 downloads. Which turned out to be correct.

Most of this is pretty meaningless outside of the eMusic message board, but that won’t stop me from ranting here. Fortunately they’re stuck giving me my old rate until February. But at that point I’ll see the cost of some 3 and 4 track jazz albums skyrocket from 50 cents to $5 (yes they needed a price increase – but not that much). Rather than downloading 8 or 9 albums a month, I’d only get 3 – for about the same price. I’m willing to accept a certain amount of change, but it is doubtful that they can rectify the botch job that was this Sony rollout enough to convince me to say. And that’s a little sad considering how much great music I’ve discovered over there these past few years thanks to the low cost of exploration.

Then again, after the loads of cheap and free music I’ve acquired over the last year in particular maybe it’s time for me to take a break from acquiring and focus on listening…

Am I the only one?

Seriously, am I the only one with virtually no interest in the latest adventures of Indy? I’m sure it made a crapload (damn you spellcheck – that is a word!) of money, and people will continue to fall over themselves to get to theaters whether the reviews are good, bad, or tepid; but the commercials and trailers leave me totally apathetic. The presence of the horrendous Shia LaBeouf certainly doesn’t help, but that’s not the only problem.

Maybe I should just get this out of my system right now – is Indiana Jones really that great? The first one? Absolutely! The third one? Pretty awesome! The second one? Ugh. The entire trilogy was on TV the other day and I was reminded just how mediocre The Temple of Doom was/is. That gives me zero confidence in the latest entry – especially considering the advertising has been so bland in my mind.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky. But coming from someone who actually enjoyed the Star Wars prequels, the idea of a long overdue sequel just doesn’t appeal to me anymore.

Slight rant…

No matter where I go on vacation… no matter whether I have a blast or just an OK time… no matter how much I miss my home… Once I get back in my car it takes about 2-3 minutes max to begin hating New Jersey again. This state sucks the life out of me that much.

Oh, and what’s with all of my chattering friends? I leave for a week and come back to 130+ posts to read – and that doesn’t even include the rest of my blogroll…

Another blog bites the dust

Scott Adams has decided he’s going to blog less. That seems reasonable. But now he’s also gotten rid of the full feeds, because the ad revenue just isn’t worth it for him. That’s right, the guy who created one of the most successful comic strips and has multiple best selling books isn’t making enough money off of his blog, so he’s decided inconveniencing his readers will help.

Listen, I get it. Advertising makes the world go round. But that doesn’t change the fact that every ad on his site is already blocked by – surprise, surprise – Adblock Plus. It also doesn’t change the fact that he could simply toss ads in at the bottom of his feeds anyway. And it certainly doesn’t change the fact that a very successful man is complaining to someone who is struggling with a mortgage that I haven’t bought enough of his books to support his financial demands. I’m not about to claim that I’ll never read or buy another Dilbert book again, but he put quite a bit of effort into showing just what his audience means to him all while painting himself as a martyr.

Oh well, that’s one less feed for me to keep up with…

I cannot emphasize how much I loath this state

If you were keeping score this week, I believe it’s something along the lines of New Jersey 5 Me 0. Let’s see, there was the ridiculously out of the way drive home Wednesday night. I managed to not be able to make it into the City to see Mike Doughty with a friend on Thursday night. And today I drove to Paramus twice – yes, that’s right, twice – and still couldn’t get to the Verizon office in time to switch out my TV box. Hmm, that’s 4 – I’m sure there was a fifth time New Jersey kicked my ass this week… we’ll just give it a bonus point. The state certainly earned it…

New Jersey sucks

For the second time this year, I found myself accompanying The Woman for a “musical experience” at NJPAC – that’s the New Jersey Performing Arts Center for you non-locals. The first one was an orchestrated version of Led Zeppelin – which was a lot of fun. This time it was Rain: The Beatles Experience. The group did a very good job impersonating The Beatles, and it was a lot of fun watching the progression from the teeny-bopper pop group to a mature band of psychedelic musicians.

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend any of you to actually go there. Why? Because Newark is a shithole. Yeah, I normally avoid words like that on this site but, seriously, how else can you describe 75% of Jersey. NJPAC is about 2 miles from I280, but it’s a royal pain in the ass to get back on going west. Even if I hop right back on the route we came down, there is no entrance for I280 West. This is a common occurrence throughout this lovely state – you can go in one direction but not in the other. You know what another common occurrence is? Not posting signs to major highways. Or, only posting enough to get your confidence up, and then not directing you the rest of the way.

Once again I ended up heading a few miles East for no reason other than there was no decent way for me to turn around and head back home. I swear, it would have been easier to just drive 25 minutes to Hoboken, spend 10 minutes looking for parking, and then take a 20 minute train over to the center – even though it’s technically less than 15 minutes from our house.