Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rest In Peace: Tony Sly

I've been trying to write this blog for a little while now. Ever since I found out about Tony Sly's passing, but it's been hard. I've never felt this much grief over the death of someone I've never even met. It hit hard. I know that I said I was going to post a few blogs that weren't about music before I made more that were... well about music but this isn't about music. This is about a man who is gone way too soon. This is about someone who inspired generations and made records regarded as classics in their genre. This is my experience with a great person who I never met and the impact he had on me, personally.

The first time that I was introduced to No Use For A Name was when I was probably around 15. I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to getting deeper into really good punk music. Around that time I'd started listening to some of the older school, more independent bands like Rancid, NoFX, Lagwaggon, etc but I was still quite a bit on the "pop" side of "pop-punk". I can't honestly say that NUFAN was the single band that brought me over to the punk side but they were a big part of the growing push.

The first record I got my hands on was 1999's "More Betterness!". Something about it hit me hard. It wasn't the hard technical punk, there was a lot of melody but it was fast and felt really good. Really punk and this was at a naive, stupid point in my life when I gave a damn what was punk and what wasn't. A point when I unironically used the word "poser". I cringe at that time in my life but I think I needed to go through it in order to learn that I was stupid.

"More Betterness!" was an important record in my life and it remains so to this day, as do all of NUFAN's records. They aren't one of those bands that represent a time in my adolescence that I look back on nostalgically, they have remained constant. Those albums don't remind me of a particular point in my life, they represent them all.

Tony's solo career is equally as important to me. It feels like right around the point in my life when I was starting to shift toward playing folk music, Tony was doing the same. Actually, it was slightly before that I suppose when he released the first acoustic split with Joey Cape. I bought that CD at an FYE (this was something that people used to be able to do) after I heard about it and I listened to that record over and over. That was the first time that I realized punk rock didn't need to be electric. Passion didn't need to be shouted.

After that he eventually released "12 Song Program" as well as the fairly recent "Sad Bear" and a second acoustic split with Joey Cape. His music, all of it, has been a huge influence on me. On my life. On the type of musician and the type of person that I am, and as silly as it may sound to say about a person I didn't even know, I am going to miss him.

Rest in peace, Tony. You were a legend and you left too soon.

Toy Story: Plot Holes As Noticed By A Crazy Person


Let me state first and foremost that I genuinely love the Toy Story films and everything that Pixar does. They respect all of the aspects of a film as an art piece and their stories are always creative and smart as well as beautifully animated. All of those things being said, I have a two year old daughter, so I have seen each Toy Story film around a hundred times a piece.  In these repeated viewings I’ve noticed some rather large plot holes that don’t really distract from the story so long as you suspend disbelief, enjoy the story, and aren’t a nutter… but are there there none the less.

#1: Buzz’s Willful Ignorance

Movie: Toy Story
Scene: The first three quarters of the movie

How is it that Buzz doesn’t notice that his wrist communicator is just a sticker? If he is the real Buzz Lightyear then he must be a person in a space suit. Does he not notice that he has no feeling of a body inside of the exterior suit since he is solid plastic? Why doesn’t he notice that his space ship is made from cardboard and lacks any kind of mechanical parts?

#2: How does Woody not know his origin?

Movie: Toy Story 2
Scene: The premise of the movie, primarily the scene where Woody finds out he is based on an old TV show called “Woody’s Roundup”.

In the second film we find out that Woody is a priceless antique. He is a licensed property based off of a presumably popular television show from decades ago. The show is called Woody’s Round Up and is in black and white and done with puppets (reminiscent of The Thunderbirds) so it’s safe to assume the show is from the 1950’s (particularly since it is stated that the show’s popularity waned because of the launch of Sputnik). We also know that the show’s popularity, though intense, is short lived because it was cancelled on a cliff hanger.

This makes for a limited window of time in which Woody could have been manufactured and sold.  It also means that Woody is around 50 years old at. Andy’s mother states that he is a family heirloom, so he has to have had multiple owners yet he acts as though he doesn’t understand the idea of the child getting older and growing out of him.  He has to have been handed down around 4 times. Does he not remember any of this? Why?

#3: Where does toy sentience begin and end?

Movie: All of them
Scene: All of them

This is the big one and perhaps the most insane for someone to be thinking about. We have seen multiple times that toys can be dismantled and remain sentient. Buzz loses his arm and doesn’t display any kind of pain. Woody also loses an arm. Toys can be broken and fixed without any real consequence to the toy’s “health” or “life”. Where does it end? The only time that any of the toy’s display pain is when Sid burns Woody with a magnifying glass and even then he’s able to remain inanimate. This one instance seems to contradict established cannon.

In the first film, Sid completely dismantles toys and puts them back together in different ways and they remain alive. Is he creating a new toy? A new consciousness? These are often made of different toys put together, which personality does that “new toy” have? Is the consciousness in the head? In the end of the third film when the toys are about to slide into the incinerator at the dump, they’ll be turned to ash, but since the toys have been dismantled without dying or displaying symptoms of pain it’s reasonable to assume that ash may still have some kind of sentience… that is a horrifying thought. How does a toy die?

Additionally there is the question of where the consciousness begins. If I make a paper doll is that doll alive? Does the act of drawing a face on paper make that face self aware? At what point during the manufacturing process do the toys become living?

#4:  Woody can control the pull string talk box that’s in him… when it’s convenient to the plot.

Movie: Toy Story
Scene: Woody and Buzz are attempting to sneak down a hallway in Sid’s house quietly when Woody’s pull string gets caught on a piece of stair railing and activates the talk box, alerting the dog to their presence.

Okay basically just read the bit where I explained the scene right there. Why can’t Woody just make the talk box stop? It’s demonstrated later on when the toys are revolting against Sid that he has control over it whether the string is pulled or not.

#5: Why does Buzz go along with, what he interprets as, a pointless charade?

Movie: Toy Story
Scene: Most of the movie.

Why does Buzz “play along” with the idea that he’s inanimate in front of Andy if he believes that he is a space ranger? I mean, he believes that the fate of the entire universe relies on his getting off the planet quickly doesn't he?

#6: Illogical plans for plot's sake.

Movie: Toy Story 2
Scene: Whole movie.

It’s demonstrated in the first Toy Story that there’s really no adverse effects to revealing their sentience to a human. Why can’t this same plan apply to Al of Al’s Toy Barn in the second film? No one’s going to believe him and he’s alone in that store. I mean I know that as far as plot is concerned this would be repetitive but logically in the context of the film it would seem like it would be the most logical plan for the toys.

In summation:

Well there you are. The observances of a crazy person with regards to the Toy Story franchise. I hope that you have enjoyed this list and that you can continue to enjoy these wonderful films despite my insanity.