Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Danny says

Found this kicking around on my hard drive.  It was a rough draft for what I eventually did with the song.  The picture is of Deets.  R.I.P. Deets.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2013 wrap-up

For the records, here are the things I liked/listened to/enjoyed the most in 2013

Favorite Movies I saw this year:
1.  The Act of Killing
2.  Gravity
3.  12 Years a Slave
4.  Inside Llewyn Davis
5.  The Worlds End
6.  Blue Jasmine
7.  Frances Ha
8.  American Hustle
9.  Enough Said
10.  Much Ado about Nothing

Favorite TV:
1.  Mad Men
2.  Breaking Bad
3.  Veep
4.  Boardwalk Empire
5.  Game of Thrones.
6.  The Moaning Life
8.  Enlightened
9.  Parks and Rec
10.  Community

Favorite Albums:
1.  Saal, Serengeti
2.  Modern Vampires of the City, Vampire Weekend
3.  Muchacho, Phosphorescent
4.  Comedown Machine, The Strokes
5.  Nothing was the Same, Drake
6.  Dream River, Bill Callahan
7.  Big Wheel and Others, Cass Mccombs
8.  On Oni Pond, Man Man
9.  12 Ways to Die, Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge
10.  Outer Face EP, Matthew E. White

Honorable Mention goes to:  Random Excess Memories, Amygdala, Yeezus, Run the Jewels, Blue Chips 2

Favorite Songs of the Year
1.  Pink Rabbits by the National

2.  Instant Crush by Daft Punk

3.  The Wire  by Haim

4.  Step by Vampire Weekend

5.  Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus
Not posting a link for this video though, sickos.
6.  Reflektor by Arcade Fire
7.  Head On by Man Man

8.  Wave Forms by Islands

9.  Brighter!  by Cass Mccombs
10.  Karate by Serengeti

Honorable Mentions to Dance Apocalyptic, Worst Behavior, Down to Go, 50/50, Juice, New Slaves,

Books I read in 2013:
1.        Carter beats devil, Glen David Gold
2.        Kraken, China Mieville
3.        Manhood for Amateurs, Micheal Chabon
4.        Telegraph Avenue, Micheal Chabon
5.        CivilWar Land in Bad Decline, George Saunders
6.        10th of December, George Saunders
7.        Talulla Rising, Glen Duncan
8.        God who Weeps, Terryl Givens
9.        Swamplandia, Karen Russell
10.    Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland
11.    Price of Politics, Bob Woodward
12.    Six Gun Tarot, R.S. Belcher
13.    Wind up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami
14.    Braindead Megaphone, George Saunders
15.    The Crossing, Cormac Mcarthy
16.    Blood Meridian, Cormac Mcarthy
17.    Cities of the Plain, Cormac Mcarthy
18.    Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain, A. Lee Martinez
19.    The Infatuations, Javier Marias
20.    Jim Henson:  The Biography, Brian Jay Jones
21.    NOS4A2, Joe Hill
22.    Buffalo Girls, Larry Mcmurtry
23.    Soon I will be Invincible, Austin Grossman
24.    A Once Crowded Sky, Tom King
25.    Vampires in the Lemon Grove, Karen Russell
26.    In Persuasion Nation, George Saunders
27.    Mo Meta Blues, Questlove
28.    The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen
29.    Top Dog:  The Science of Winning and Losing, Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman
30.    The Pearl, John Steinbeck
31.    The Winter of Our Discontent, John Steinbeck
32.    Cannery Row, John Steinbeck
33.    The Terror, Dan Simmons
34.  The Son, Phillip Meyer

Of those I really liked Blood Meridian, Winter of Our Discontent, The Corrections, The Infatuations, The God who weeps, The Tenth of December, Manhood for Amateurs, and Vampires in the Lemon Grove the most.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Stuffs I liked this Year (lists)

Favorite Albums
10.  Life is People (Bill Fay)
9.  I know what Love Isn't (Jens Lekman)
8.  Heaven (Walkmen)
7.  C.A.R. (Serengeti)
6.  Gossamer (Passion Pit)
5.  Cancer for Cure (El-P)
4.  Skelethon (Aesop Rock)
3.  Blue Chips (Action Bronson)
2.  The Big Inner (Matthew E White)
1.  Mr. M. (Lambchop

(I also liked the new Brother Ali, the new Japandroids, and the new Beach House Album.  The biggest disappointment for me was "God Forgives, I don't", hahaha)

Favorite Songs of 2012

10.  Laura (Bats for Lashes)
9.  Manny Pacquiao (Kool AD)
8.  The Never ending Happening (Bill Fay)
7.  Sweet (Danny Brown)
6.  Gone Away (Matthew E White)
5.  The House that Heaven Built (Japandroids)
4.  & it was U (How to Dress Well)
3.  9/24/11 (Action Bronson)
2.  Never my Love (Lambchop)
1.  Climax (Usher)

Favorite Movies:

10.  This is 40
9.  Les Miserables
8.  Argo
7.  Anna Karenina
6.  The Avengers
5.  Dark Knight Rises
4.  Skyfall
3.  Moonrise Kingdom
2.  Lincoln
1.  The Master

(Still have yet to see Django, Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, Holy  Motors, Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild)

Favorite TV Shows this year:
1.  Boardwalk Empire
2.  Mad Men
3.  Louie
4.  Breaking Bad
5.  Veep
6.  Game of Thrones
7.  Parks and Rec
8.  An Idiot Abroad
9.  30 Rock
10.  Downton Abbey

Books I read during 2012:
All the Pretty Horses
Listen to This
Storm of Swords
Feast for Crows
Dance with Dragons
Anna Karenina
Sex on the Moon
The Last Werewolf
This is How You Lose Her
I'm Your Man
Ready Player One
Mocking Jay (hated it)
Catching Fire (hated it)

Some books I want to read this next year:
Carter Beats the Devil
Brothers Karamazov
Telegraph Avenue (Started it)
The Snow Child
Blood Meridian
Cannery Row
Thelonius Monk Biography
Mark Twain Autobio
American Gods
10000 years of Solitude
Some other stuffs.......

Happy new year all

Sunday, December 9, 2012

wedding, christmas things, lecter

Finally snowing for reals here in Utah.  It makes things prettier, but also very cold.  Yes, even though Alaskan, I reserve the right to complain about the cold.  Also, it is December and Egg Nog is back on the shelf, so that is something to be very happy about.  I got all my Christmas shopping done before December even hit and in one week I will hit the Christmas Break.  So life is good.  This last week I had my Endocrine and Circulatory test and that all went well.  We celebrated by eating an enormous 5 guys burger and about 10 pounds of fries.  Oh yeah, and my sister Lori and kids is coming to visit next weekend for a few days.  Plus I just got started reading Telegraph Avenue and it is great so far.
We had a fun weekend spending time with the Eltons, some of Natalie's friends from Vancouver.  The youngest Elton, Byron, got married on Saturday in the Salt Lake temple, so they were all in town.  The reception and Friday night dinner were a lot of fun and Natalie was in heaven.  We also got to spend a lot of time hanging around in Salt Lake at Christmas time, which is always a plus.  The lights at temple square never fail to get you in the Christmas spirit.  
We also stopped by a record store where I found a good copy of "In the Wee Small Hours" and the reissue of Donnie and Joe Emerson's "Dreamin Wild".  Good finds.
Tomorrow we are having a little Christmas party here for my study group at school, and we are going to do a white elephant exchange.  Should be a blast.  I have some great ideas for my exchange items.
This week for the Criterion pick I watched "Silence of the Lambs", which remains the scariest movie I have ever watched.  I still find myself covering my eyes at the scariest parts, even knowing what will happen.  I have never seen any of the sequel/prequel nonsense, and will probably keep it that way so that I don't ruin my idea of Lecter being the scariest thing ever and not an exaggeration of the first film's character.  Here are some of the things that stuck out this time.
-The characters, especially Lecter, are often delivering their lines directly into the camera.  They aren't really breaking the 4th wall, but they definitely are staring right at you as the movie's suspense builds.  I've often tried to figure out why this movie scares me instead of coming off as just cheesy or too much, but maybe this has something to do with it.
-All the acting is pretty great...including Buffalo Bill.  I can hardly stand to think about him either.
-Hopkins always states that somehow Lecter has gained "Boogie Man" status.  He is a villain without any apparent weakness.  He doesn't lose, he never even really comes close.  And the whole movie they repeatedly they keep telling you how terrible and unpredictable he is.  In the end when he escapes, all that comes to a head.  And then he doesn't do anything!!!  It was enough to just leave him out in the universe, because you know he is capable of anything.  He somehow feels like more than a human being, he feels like some otherworldly menace.  It's frightening.  Still doesn't make me want to see any other Hannibal movies though.
Next week I will be watching the first part of the Samurai trilogy.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cohen, Drown, Spinal Tap

I finished "I'm Your Man" today.  It was really well-written, and kept my interest for most of it's 500 some pages.  With all biographies of somebody that is still living, the end of the book kind of tapers off.  When I read "Life" by Keith Richards, he gets to the point where he is talking about his favorite foods and how to make them.  Because "I'm Your Man" is a biography, it doesn't have those self-indulgent qualities, but towards the end you just feel things dragging a bit as the author goes into details about Leonard Cohen tribute albums and concerts  The most interesting bits had to do with him recording with Phil Spector at the height of his madness.  The guy supposedly had guns everywhere and on one occasion held one up to Leonard's face and told him, "Leonard, I love you.", before running off.  He also had a habit of locking people in his house when they came to visit.  I also enjoyed the descriptions of his transition to making Casio keyboard inspired music, and how the book's titular album was conceived.  There are several great stories of other artist's becoming obsessed with "I'm your Man", including some really fascinating stuff from Frank Black.  Also, I found myself fascinated by his obsessions with various religions and his years spent becoming a Zen monk.  It's the kind of stuff that you might guess could be true from listening to the slow, deliberate, cyclic, and even meditative qualities of many of his best songs. 
I read Drown by Junot Diaz over the weekend as well.  The guy has a way of really getting deep-everything I ever read by him really depresses me.  I liked it quite a bit more than his newest book.  I stayed up late last night trying to finish it.  Next I've got Telegraph Avenue, the new Chabon to read.  Excellent.
Yesterday I made French Dips in the Crockpot and took them over to a Dental school friend's house for dinner.  They turned out real good.  Another friend brought chocolate cheescake that was pretty spectac too.  We played a card game and I think I came out the overall victor?  Natalie won one game and I won the other.
School this week has been great, I got to use my handpiece for the first time and drill on a learn-a-prep.  Also learned all sorts of stuff about Endocrine and the heart.  It's hard to concentrate fully, with Christmas break being so close, but I'll get there.
Tonight we are going to a little mini-TED talk conference and Natalie is speaking for about 7 minutes.  She's going to do great.
I have been listening to Handel's Messiah all day long.
This week for the Criterion pick I watched a movie I had seen a time or two before, "This is Spinal Tap," the 1984 mockumentary comedy directed by Rob Reiner, errr- Marty DiBergi.  I watched an interview with Stephen Colbert once where he was talking about the nature of good satire.  He said something about how the more ridiculous the news is, the less imagination he and his writers need to put it.  The perfect situation for great satire would be if he could just read the stories and presentation verbatim...the set-up would be the punchline.  He also said that the closer the news is to what he is doing, the less you should trust it.  I had that in mind this time when I watched Spinal Tap.  Maybe the reason the film resonates so much through the years is that they didn't have to stretch the truth really all the much-Spinal Tap didn't have to be more ridiculous than your average trend-hopping band that has found some sort of longevity.  Supposedly many musicians upon seeing Spinal Tap didn't find anything funny about it.  Some even thought it was a real documentary, others, (like Van Halen) related it to so much they stated that it could have been a movie about their band.  Several musicians pointed out the scene where Spinal Tap is lost somewhere backstage as something precisely that had happened to them.
I like This is Spinal Tap because it makes you want to take whatever you do so much less seriously.  I think a documentary of most people's lives would show us to all be petty and overly invested in the minute contributions we have to society.  That a fake documentary can make me feel this way is pretty amazing.  Here are a few of my favorite moments:
-Nothing beats the scene where the bass player gets trapped in the pod and gets out at the last minute just to have to get back in.
-I really wanted to hear more of the experimental jazz piece, Jazz Odyssey.
-Is it just me, or is Spinal Tap's Flower Child phase actually pretty good?
-I hope someday I can hear Shark Sandwich in it's entirety.
-I can't believe how strangely the movie is similar to the real documentary "Anvil".  I watched Anvil a couple of years ago and thought it was weird, but there are even more coincidences than I thought.  Particularly how they both end in Japan, being mildly popular.
-I wonder who has that mini-stonehenge model right now?  It's got to be in a museum somewhere.  Or maybe on Rob Reiner's mantle?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

pizza thanksgiving, crock pot, seventh seal

Thanksgiving was great.  We had Canadian Thanksgiving just like a month ago with turkey and potatoes and stuff, so for American Thanksgiving we just made a bunch of Pizza with one of Nat's friends.  We also set up our Christmas tree and listened to Christmas music all afternoon.  One thing we completely avoided was the shopping, thank goodness.  Today we are going to maybe go for a little bit in Salt Lake.
I studied a bit over the week and read more in the Leonard Cohen Biography.  I also worked on a few songs...one of which I posted earlier.  Monday it's back to the grind.
I got into cooking a bit with a crock pot this week.  I made some delicious Cafe Rio style pork, some chicken dish, and tomorrow we are going to try a pork roast.  I don't know why I didn't use the thing more in college.
This week I watched "The Seventh Seal", which is a 1957 Swedish film by Ingmar Bergman that takes place during the dark ages, specifically the Black Plague.  There is this card in a board game that we play that asks the player, "Would you rather live in Medieval times, the Old West, or Modern day."  Whenever this card pops up in the game we laugh about how much of a no-brainer the answer is.  Why would anyone ever choose a time in the past?  Maybe if you chose a time in the future, that would be a bit more complicated, but nobody would actually want to go backwards.  This movie reinforced this idea.  The time period portrayed in The Seventh Seal is so dark and despairing, I felt like I was watching a movie about the apocalypse.  Doing the obligatory wikipedia browsing after the film, I guess the tone is about right.  People literally felt that the world was ending.  I mean, 75 to 200 million died by the end of the 14th century.  You never knew who was next, and when you got it, you only had about a week to live.  Death was literally around every corner.  Things were even made worse because people couldn't understand why it was happening.  They didn't even know what a virus was.  Sickness was either from God or the Devil, and so the tendency was to either run into the shelter of religion or run out of it.  In this film, the self flagellation scenes were gruesome and difficult to watch even though they weren't all that graphic.  I find it disturbing that people could be so desperate that they would buy into the notion that by preemptively punishing themselves they could escape some sort of worse divine punishment.  And this is all only just the setting for the film's narrative.  Here are some things I enjoyed about the film:
-Death was a creepy character.  The costume and make-up was very simple but somehow  memorable.  I think much credit is due to Bengt Ekerot is due, he made the whole thing work to his advantage in portraying the character.
-I guess one of the lessons is that you can never really cheat death.  It knows your time, it doesn't matter how you try to distract it, or yourself.  You can't move the pieces back.  Somehow I had a hope that maybe Antonius would win the game during the film's opening.  You realize quickly that it's not possible.  Nobody ever wins, we are just on a reprieve.
-The other striking thing is that although the characters all thought differently about religion, politics, and love, the end result was the same.  Death comes the same way for everyone-it is a great unification.  We can all live differently, but we all have death in common.  It consumes everything uniformly, nobody is special. What happens afterwards is not part of the discussion in this film.  We leave seeing them all carried away with death.  All linked together.
-As mentioned above, if nothing else, this move made me really want to think about the time period and how it effected people and culture.  Yeah, I know Ring Around the Rosy is a song about the Bubonic, but I want to read more about how the people, culture, and attitudes were effected by the massive death toll.  Any good book recommendations?
Later I'll write about Spinal Tap.