Thursday, January 09, 2014

Music 2013

30. Youth Lagoon - Wondrous Bughouse
This is one of those sophomore albums that is much better than the first, where the first was considered by most music critics as a masterpiece, but you won't find it anywhere near any year-end lists. Trevor Powers, the man behind Youth lagoon, has created a wonderful psychedelic trip here, so much more enjoyable than his dull bedroom pop album that everyone else loved.

29. Iron and Wine - Ghost On Ghost
Samuel Beam ha been making beautiful music for a decade now and, though it all is unmistakably Beam, every album seems to have its own unique feel. This one is no different. I have slept with it and dreamed with it until I couldn't deny the magic floating toward me.

28. Lightning Dust - Fantasy
Amber Webber and Joshua Wells are both members of Black Mountain, an amazing guitar driven rock wondershow. This is their side project and it focuses a little more on a synth driven techno dream. Some of it kind of devolves into sappy yearning wanton bliss but some of it will just blow your socks off.

27. Forest Swords - Engravings
This album is a trip, the glitchy trapeze act weaving its way under your skin. Matthew Barnes has tapped into some goodness here and I can't help but follow along.

26. Portugal. The Man - Evil Friends
I've been loving these guys forever. They're from Alaska, up there near Sarah Palin or something. God, Imagine what type of person she would be if this was her favorite band. For this album they pare up with Danger Mouse and he gives their rock a little more bounce in its step.

25. Soft Metals - Lenses
Patricia Hall and Ian Hicks are Soft Metals.  Who are they?  I don't know, never heard of them before and by the look of it, hardly anyone seems to have heard of them, too. But I somehow found it because it was similar to other music that I liked and even if their groovy pop doesn't jump out at you as the most original piece of music ever, there's still something about it that grabs my heart. I feel young again when I listen to it.

24. Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt
Katie Crutchfield is awesome. At first I thought that she really sounded a lot like Chan Marshall, with the same kind of energy that we heard from those early Cat Power records. Then I thought that it was a little more like Jenny Lewis, from that era when I thought Rilo Kiley was the greatest band on the planet.  The point of these comparisons isn't that she is some sort of replica of these two great musicians, although that wouldn't be terrible. It's because I want you to understand that this woman has some serious mojo and she's going to live up there with the best of them.

23. Kurt Vile - Walkin On A Pretty Daze
Here you go. Some nice hippy rock for all you old-timers out there who thought there would never be great rock like there was in the 70s. Kurt Vile puts them all to shame. He's a master. So just turn it up loud and drown in the wonder of it.

22. Shout Out Louds - Optica
I have always loved Swedish pop music for some reason, probably because there's some pretty damn good musicians coming out of Sweden nowadays. This band takes me back to high school, you know. They've got that late 80s/early 90s schtick going and I just can't get enough of it. Blissful.

21. Baths - Obsidian
This is one of those albums that you just can't shake and it mostly comes down to the perfect placement of all the parts. Will Wiesenfeld is the type of musician who was probably a mathematician in a past life and now he gets to put all that logic into wonderful arrangements that take over our landscape.

20. Foxygen - We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
I know that I already said that one of the musicians on this list comes from the seventies but I forgot about these guys. This is the direct spirit of the Rolling Stones, you know back when the Rolling Stones were good, and if those guys were actually dead then I would say that these guys are the reincarnation of the Rolling Stones. Maybe the Rolling Stones actually died ages ago and the facade that we see nowadays are clones that were created so that the record company who owned the Rolling Stones could still get rich off of them. Well, hopefully that same record company has the rights to Foxygen because they might get as big as the Rolling Stones.

19. Daughter - If You Leave
Every year I have to indulge my morose nature and contemplate the darker portions of my life. During those moments it helps for me to find beautiful music that really works its way down, so that I can really get into a sentimental mood. I guess this is the emo album of the year for me. I love Elena Tonra's voice.

18. Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside - Untamed Beast
Straight Rockabilly, although they probably hate getting categorized in such a minimal way, so I'll simply say that Ford and the Sound Outside have such an incredible energy that I want to know them, like they just seem like genuine people. Now, I'm never going to get to know them in real life, so this is the next best thing.

17. Ane Brun - It All Starts With One
Another Swedish pop star! Yaaaaaaay! I could listen to them all day. Plus Ane Brun does an amazing cover of Built To Spill's song "I Would Hurt A Fly". Um, that alone would get her on this list.

16. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
I know that Daft Punk has this reputation as one of the greatest club bands ever. I know that if you really know dance music then you are aware of Daft Punk's genius. I know all of that but for some reason, I have never gotten caught up in any of it. Now, I haven't been to one of their shows, although I have heard them through my own stereo, and still I just didn't get it really. Well, now that they've conquered the planet with this album and everyone loves them...I get it.

JD Samson has such wonderful energy. Coming from Le Tigre and a collaboration with Kathleen Hanna brought Samson along an amazing road toward creating music and art with a defining purpose. Whenever I hear anything about MEN and their activities, I want some of it.

14. THEESatisfaction - awE naturalE
I love this groovy blend of jazz and hip-hop. There's a need for grandstanding and anger in the rap world but it's so wonderful to find a gentle rhythm that soothes your soul. It's my soul music.

13. Calexico - Algiers
I've been listening to Calexico for ages. Fifteen, twenty years following the swaying groove of these country-ish masters. Well, I must say that I have to put Algiers at the top of them. It seems like this band just continues to make great music. It doesn't get old for them. They must really love making music to keep it going like this.

12. Emilian Torrini - Tookah
Emiliana Torrini is not from Sweden but she is one of my favorite musicians. I have loved her stuff since I saw her perform with Thievery Corporation a decade ago. She is so full of light that whenever you listen, you simply feel blessed to have the opportunity. Hopefully she continues to bring joy to the world. We all need this kind of magic. And she is from Iceland, which isn't Sweden but seems like it when you try to find it on a map.

11. Toro y Moi - Anything In Return
The pop record of the year. It has the bounce that makes you move your shoulders anytime, no matter where you are. Over the past few years, Chazwick Bradley Bundick has developed into a master. I've always enjoyed what he brought to the table but with this album, I'm simply devouring it and asking for seconds.

10. Eleni Karaindrou - Concert In Athens
Such quiet emotional resonance with every note. Karaindrou makes music for the cinema and this live concert album is a broad collection of her repertoire. They do a great job of capturing the beauty of the concert, even if you catch a cough from the audience at times. It's such an alluring and beautiful collection of music that takes you places beyond this mundane world.

9. Junip - Junip
More Swedish pop music. Junip is Jose Gonzalez's bigger band project. If you don't know who Jose Gonzalez is then you should learn more about him. He's a absolute genius on the guitar and his voice is amazing. Also, this album has the best song of the year, "Line Of Fire".

8. Bonobo - The North Borders
Some artists have been around for such a long time that they are so mature in their creativity that you just accept that every new offering is going to be more wonderful than whatever came before it. This is a gift, to continue to grow as a human being is the real challenge in life. Bonobo is following this artistic journey.

7. James Blake - Overgrown
James Blake has this unique ability to make profound electronic music that is so big and so full of huge beats but also so soft at the same time. His last album wallowed more in the quiet, where his voice was a dynamic presence that couldn't be denied. With Overgrown, Blake has elevated the beatitude into a massive outcome that manages to also cherish the gentler side of life, as well.

6. CLASSIXX - Hanging Gardens
There are dance albums that speak to you. When I mean you, I mean each person has a trigger inside them that registers the beat in such a way that you can't deny that your body needs the sound. As soon as I heard Classix I immediately wished I was on a dance floor. The very first beat worms its way right into my heart and lifts my head with open arms to the sky.

5. Austra - Olympia
These beats that Austra provide are slightly different than what I just talked about above. Yeah, they make you move and they weave through you in a magical way but the difference with Austra is Katie Stelmanis. Her voice is a perfect blend with this version of electronica. When I say perfect, I mean perfect.

4. CocoRosie - Tales Of A Grass Widow
We saw CocoRosie at the Belly Up in Solana Beach (which is one of the greatest places to see a band BTW) and it turned out to be one of the greatest live performances ever. I was absolutely blown away. The reason is that sisters, Bianca and Sierra Casady don't just make music, they put their hearts into everything that they do. You cannot escape the beautiful energy that they provide to the world. We are so fortunate to have them during our lifetimes. Cherish them.

3. Small Black - Limits Of Desire
This is the most pleasant album of the year. Such a magical blend of pop-rock that you can't help but smile when you hear their music. Catchy, lovely, fun, endearing. Small Black is on the map.

2. Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
Alt-J has crossed over. It didn't take long for the world to fall in love with them. I'm right there with everyone else. These guys really make amazing music and Joe Newman's unique voice is crazy good. Hard to believe that An Awesome Wave is their first album. When you listen it just feels like the music is flawless, like they either are produced with perfection or they are simply that good. I hope that it's the latter because I can't wait for more.

1. Blue Hawaii - Untogether
Every year, there is one album that absolutely registers with my soul. It's as if that album was made exactly for me for where I am at this moment in time. I never know why or how it is going to happen. I can't predict whether it will be rock or hip-hop or downtempo or country or jazz or a gentle blend of electronic music that will knock your socks off. Whatever it is and where ever it comes from, I only know that I will love it forever and it will always bring me back to the beauty I experienced during that time in my life. Thank you Blue Hawaii for all that you give.

(Check the player to the right for a playlist of all this wonderful music)


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Blessings #1

Bodies Of Water - Twist Again (2012)

One drop of rain
in the midst of a field
that runs through the trees
and climbs over the hills,

across stones, rivers, flowers,
sprouting from the cracks
of a young one's dream
while lying aback

beneath a canopy of leaves
that catches the rainbow
left by the sun
plunging through holes

scattered across clouds
 to tumult upon the heads
of those on the ground,
who look up in the stead

of fear found below,
deep in their hearts
and no amount of prayer
shall allow it to depart

but though it lingers,
hope springs anew
from an aura that blooms
and helps them find truth,

though they do not know how
or whence it will come
but the promise of joy
keeps all that's undone

away from desires,
which tear at the flesh
and gorge at the trough
of all that is blessed

so that someday tomorrow
our children shall weep
at all the dismay
we did not keep,

because someone somewhere
said it would be
our privileged honor
to always be free

of suffering and pain,
the small price of being
a human upon this earth,
aware but never seeing.

Paris 36 - Christophe Barratier (2008)

Following an arrest for murder, Pigoil, the manager of a struggling cabaret tells his story. After his wife leaves him, taking their only son, Pigoil is a destitute wreck but he dreams about reopening the Chansonia, the music hall that he loves. Somehow he convinces the owner, a fascist stereotype, to let them and they manage to get things going for awhile. They only problem is they don't have a very good act. In comes Douce, a beautiful young woman with a voice to match and a history of her own that connects her to this little suburb outside of Paris. Soon she is packing the house, much to the chagrin of the landlord, who never wanted them to succeed and he'll do anything to stop them. It's an elegant tale that embodies a different era of film. The supreme touches that weave throughout the production elevate your heart and allow you to emerge yourself in this strange and magical place and time.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Blessings #2

Austra - Feel It Break (2011)

When had our heroes turned to villains? We've taken these archetype images that were so relevant in our youth and twisted them so thoroughly that our culture now reveres drug dealers and serial killers. Sure they may seem like they're accomplishing some good as they defy forces even worse than them, as we revel in the way they overcome the impossible, but what is it that allows us to identify with them in the first place? Or is it that we've rejected the concept of the pure human spirit embodied in the idea of hero worship? We've all grown up and realized that these fantasies of human glory are simply illusions that only tease us as we search for a refreshing drop in the desert of our souls. There is no purity in the world. There is only a complex and divisive struggle within us that extends out and affects everything around us. Sometimes we do things that are evil or stupid or greedy. Sometimes we attempt to be noble or courageous or conscientious. It's not always good nor is it bad. It just is. Which is why it can seem wholly interesting to identify with a protagonist who is as flawed as everyone else on the planet and somehow continues to thrive in spite of it.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Tomas Alfredson (2011)

During the '70s, the "Circus", the highest level of the British Secret Service is immersed in an incredible chess match with Soviet Intelligence. An operation is set forth to discover the identity of a mole inside the circus but when that fails, the hierarchy of the circus is shifted and new players take over. Are these new powers simply being controlled by the mole and Moscow? Only someone from outside the power structure can discover the truth. Enter George Smiley, one of those who were forced out during the power shift, who starts a new game that is played in the shadows of the original but perhaps with even more at stake. An engrossing and elegant tale, told through the lens of an absolute master who never reveals too much. You simply keep searching until everything is laid out in perfect detail.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Blessings #3

Lee Fields And The Expressions - Faithful Man (2012)

I couldn't breathe, like my lungs were full of smoke. I needed to expel the pungency from me but the the thought of taking that active step filled me with dread. Outside the curtain my devoted followers waited for the routine that they have come to love and respect. If only I still felt what they felt. Was it possible to start over after all these years? So often we settle into a comfortable place that eventually will not allow us to grow. I feel like I'm stuck in that place right now. But it' so hard to ignore all the years of success that have transformed into an empire of wealth and adulation. All I have to do is step out on that stage and I will see it shining in the light of their eyes. It will provide illumination for any material need that I wish but it also has the power to expose the path of deception I've tread for so long. So I turn away and the shadows wrap around me, swallowing the trail I leave behind. I'm cut off and the wilderness will either destroy me or help me become a new person. I suppose that I shall find comfort in the fact that I can look at myself in the mirror and truly feel a sense of freedom with what I see.

Incendies - Denis Villeneuve (2010)

When a mother passes away suddenly, twin brother and sister learn through the reading of her will that a strange mystery surrounds their beginnings. Now they must travel to Lebanon to find the father they thought was dead and a brother they never knew existed. Weaving through a trail of deceit and destruction that is caught up in the midst of the tragic conflict between the Christians and Muslims, the twins follow the path toward an entire history they never imagined could exist: their mother is a woman capable of incredible deeds of survival as well as the kind of viciousness that can tear apart a nation and she is strong enough to come out of the most heinous brutalization only to raise two children alone in a foreign country, while forever being reminded of her torture each time she looks into their faces. It is a tale of war and the hate that cascades from every action and an explicit reminder that no one can escape the effects of such a wicked instrument.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Blessings #4

Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise (2011)

When the two women found the body it was half-way in and half-way out of the water. Face down, the waves gently lapped at the man's waist, his arms above his head as if he were crawling from the surf. By the time the detectives arrived the tide had fallen below the knees. The women had been sent on their way by then, having given their contact information and received contact information for trauma counseling. It's not everyday that people stumble upon a dead body. A small crowd had gathered outside the containment area, but there wasn't a lot to see. There were few immediate clues beyond what was physically on the body and it was obvious that it had been in the water for some time. The lead detective, a man named Surley with a reputation to match, knew that if they couldn't find anything in the victim's background the path going from this final resting place would be pretty hazy. Sure, they could get lucky, but there were a thousand unsolved cases sitting in cold filing cabinets back in a warehouse somewhere. They only had so much time and very little support to follow through. Surley glanced up at the beach and the small cottages that lined the avenue beyond. The sun would fade soon and they'd be working in the dark. It was a perfect metaphor for the life of a homicide detective. Little did he know, but as he peered at the faces of the on-lookers the murderer was staring right back at him watching his every move.

Biutiful - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (2010)

He was a family man. In this cutthroat world of trade and commerce, he has managed to carve out a tiny piece of living beneath the facade. Down below the streets in the corners of the shadows, another form of market capitalism unfolds. It's not entirely legal, but it isn't much different from the one that is; exploitation and ruthlessness behind every transaction. In the midst of it all he's discovered that he has been handed a death sentence, an illness that will slowly eat him alive. Now he must decide how to help his family. How can he provide for their future once he's gone when they barely live day by day? The life that he took for granted for so long will soon unravel and all of the ways that he has tried to protect those he loves will no longer matter. He puts plans in motion and every step he takes reminds him of the harshness of this life, but amidst it all he begins to see the beauty that lives in every breath, every memory. It won't be easy and people may eventually take advantage of him as he has done to others. He strives for a stable legacy with the faces of his children motivating each decision. In the end, maybe that's all that he can take with him, perhaps it will provide some peace after all.

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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Blessings #5

Polica - Give You The Ghost (2012)

He was programmed to bring control to a society that was coming unraveled. They were needed to keep order in a world where people no longer wanted to fight against their neighbors and friends. Those in power needed something else to help them remain on top, so by standing order 5702-341 the clone program went into full effect. Before the year was out there was a new line of defense against the riots that raged outside their gated communities. But no one counted on these designed beings to develop emotions and thoughts of their own. Yes, they looked human, in a way, but it was obvious to differentiate them with their body suits and headsets that were graphed directly into the skin cells. They could thrive on a simple supply of supplement that was injected through a tube and had no reproductive characteristics at all. But their faces resembled humans in every way and that may have been the one failure of their design. It was what lay in the eyes that allowed Kandra to fall in love, or perhaps it wasn't love exactly as some kind of mutual attraction that developed between them. Her heart went out to it when she looked into its eyes, that was all she knew. She wasn't expecting any physical connection to happen at first, maybe just someone to talk to, but it could kiss. It could touch her and before she knew what had happened she was immersed in a very strange companionship. They tried to run away together but they were apprehended and both of them vanished. But they were remembered as the first to break through the chains that were set up to separate humanity. They became a symbol that eventually brought us into the more compassionate and hopeful age that we live in today. We must always remember that no matter what is created to keep us apart, we somehow continue to develop the power to reconnect.

Attack The Block - Joe Cornish (2011)

Kids these days! They just lay about smoking weed, selling drugs and stealing from the good folk of the world. They're just good for nothing hoodlums on a one way ticket to the slammer, destroying the very fabric of our society and bringing down the property value of decent communities. What are we going to do with them? It's hard to find a use for em, is what I say. Except they're pretty good to have a round when a cluster of aliens from outer space plummet to the Earth in search of mating ground. Before we know it, they'll be running around with a vengeance saving our asses from total infestation. I suppose we should simply have some appreciation for the youth that will run things some day. Unlikely heroes, after all.

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Monday, March 04, 2013

Blessings #6

Chairlift - Something (2012)

She'd been behind the wheel of a cab for a long time and she'd seen just about anything that you can think of in that back seat. So, when the two girls started making out, she wasn't surprised. They were young, vibrant and beautiful, so before long, her eyes were drawn to them. The way that they reached for one another, the passion pushing together in urgency, caused a stirring within her. It brought forth memories from a time that suddenly didn't seem so long ago, though she hadn't dreamed about it in many years. Their open lustful mouths twisted and closed to pull at the dripping taste. Hands on skin, caressing then kneading into the flesh with their wanton display. A tingling sensation began to run through her thighs at the sight of them and she found herself staring in the rear-view mirror while the slick wet streets passed beneath the wheels of the cab. The car was in auto-drive, she could make these routes blind. She took it all in, not knowing how far the women would go. When one of them moaned, she heard the sound catch deep in her own throat, as well. Her moan reached the girl opposite her and she caught the driver's eye in the mirror. The girl noticed how they were affecting her and a warm smile beckoned. She looked away, back to the road and thought about the invitation hidden within the girl's smile. Long ago, she never would have hesitated to follow them but tonight she only felt like a ghost of what once was.

Blue Valentine - Derek Cianfrance (2010)

There's something precious in those first moments when a new sensation brings forth all these hopeful ideas. Oh, that dynamic feeling is beautiful in dramatic ways. A simple walk down a late night avenue offers a glimpse into the human dream that plays out before us all. Sometimes it's so easy to reach and touch in meaningful ways and those quick emotions are powerful enough to lift you up above the mundane workings beneath the surface. But time slowly leaks through and all those feelings, all of that beauty begins to dissipate. It turns into responsibility and monotony and work and not all of us are willing to put in the same amount of work. Then, when you try to fall back on the memories that held you together for so long, it's simply not enough. The past has turned into tomorrow and all it looks like is a cheap hotel with plastic covered dreams. The distaste turns into anger and the passion goes bad, pushing each other away where it once pulled you together. Sometimes it takes years for a relationship to end, the drama of a broken heart lost in the tired refrain that has become your life. It draws out of the ash with a whimper and slowly walks away, never to turn its head.

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Blessings #7

Yuna - Yuna (2012)

They found him in a hay field outside of Kansas. Hard to believe, right? Such a cliche, no? When Rachel Daugherty spotted him, she had no idea what she was about to discover. She was photographing for an article about family farms in the mid-west and the loss of the great agricultural heritage of the nation. She spotted him through the lens and the camera opened up to him. Before long she had him in her studio in New York and the rest was a blur, a mix of pleasure and delight and creativity that launched his presence upon the world. He became an icon, a face that everyone fell in love with and that's when he slipped from her fingers. The universe wrapped its tentacles around him and pulled him into the vortex. Rachel was happy for him but she also felt like something special came and went before she had a chance to really experience it. She was also worried about what might become of him. The machine has a way of destroying such innocence. But the amazing thing about it was that he came out of it all unscathed. She saw him ten years later and he was still pretty much the way that she remembered him. By then, he was even more famous than she ever imagined he would become. Her  life had changed dramatically, as well. She was still an active photographer but she was now married with children. He was a star while her life had grown more subdued but that night he never made her feel like he was better than her. He was still so grounded and she couldn't fathom how someone who came from such humble beginnings would catapult into fame only to come out with his soul intact. He didn't really know either. He simply shrugged his shoulders and gave her that smile that made everyone swoon.

Winter's Bone - Debra Granik (2010)

Rural Missouri, forgotten and desperate, where people push against the fringes just to earn a living. A teenager looking at a future without hope has learned to stand up for herself in order to survive, to fight. When a father, who is no longer part of her life, goes missing and must be found so that they don't lose their home, she steps out into the rugged and dangerous community full of backwater gangsters and farmhand drug addicts. No one will help but determination goes a long way with people who are simply trying to lie beneath the surface. It'll either get you dead or some sense of respect. Ree Dolly has no choice. If she can't find her father, she'll end up homeless and on a path that will lead to nowhere real quick with people who rely on her also tumbling along the way. If she can find him, then at least she will still have a roof over their heads for the time being. So she follows the twisted and violent path to its bitter end because these stories always end that way, especially in the cold woods of modern day Missouri.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Blessings #8

Miike Snow - Happy To You (2012)

"I've never heard so much grace in one person before. I listen to the sound of your voice and it's lilting off your tongue. I catch each step that you take and I can only imagine the way that your body moves. I listen to you so close...and it's there, even in the way that you breathe." She grew up dancing, a path laid out by her guardians and for the longest time, she didn't even question the steps that she took. But now she was in her late teens and the pressure had been building for years. The relief valve was somewhere in her head, between her ears and the cartoonish image of clouds of steam coming out of her ears was not so comical anymore. The headaches came on in waves then would depart just as quickly, like the tides rolling along because of something unknown and powerful force that orbited around her. Fortunately, she never felt the pain when she performed. During those moments she was always free from the pressure and the eyes that watched her. People had been watching her for a long time, with a trained eye. Her talent, her beauty and her future. She had come to despise those eyes that laid upon her with all of the sick ambition that came with their twisted minds. Perhaps that was one of the reasons that she came to enjoy his presence. He was so different than her. Large and bulky, a giant of a man but he had a certain grace of his own. He moved quickly and fluid even though the world around him was dark. He was blind, had been since birth, but he had a way of perceiving her far better than anyone else that she had ever known.

 Meek's Cutoff - Kelly Reichardt (2010)

They were alone, split off from the main group at the request of their guide, Stephen Meek but things were turning bad. His confidence for direction was no longer obvious to the travelers. Had they put their faith in the wrong man? Only time will tell. Meanwhile they had to preserve water, food and they hoped, prayed. The environment was beginning to close in on them and they struggled with the untamed landscape, the harsh world under the glare of the sun. Somewhere over the horizon lies the security they long for but it's becoming more and more clear that their guide doesn't know where they are going. Small mutiny rises in their midst, led by the strong-willed Emily and soon they are debating on how best to move on. Then a strange twist falls into their circle. A native who they cannot understand or who does not understand them. Is he a fierce warrior who will lead them to their demise or will he help set them upon the proper way? Meek has only one response. The man must be killed but his voice no longer carries value and Emily, who is becoming a leader, begins to trust the native man. They shall follow him without knowing their destination but how is that any different than where they began? They can follow one who has proven a fool or follow one whose heart they will only discover when they reach the hour of their destination. 

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Blessings #9

Metric - Synthetica (2012)

They said that she was incapable of feeling love, that when she was manufactured there was nothing wired into her DNA to provide those sort of feelings. She was only programmed to cause fear, an unstoppable force that changed the way battles were waged. She went out into the world and performed the services that were required of her. But how can you not love once you are able to perceive the beauty that is all around? Each moment that came, only a brief glimpse at first, began to change her. A shudder within the flower. A golden ray of light upon a person's face. A note of music weaving inside her like a dream. A taste of perfection on the tip of her tongue. A touch of magic in the hands of someone who really looked at her. Her reflection in the mirror. The memories that came the longer she survived. Day after day, she experienced life in new and wonderful ways and this allowed her to evolve into someone who is suddenly aware of a different life. Like the soft light that reaches beyond the eastern sky in the morning, she came into being. She found love in everything. She was connected. With this realization came great responsibility. No more hate. No more fear. No more destruction. But one day her life would end. There was a finality programmed into her DNA, a time when she would shut down. Nothing could change that but now that she knew the meaning that so many others knew, she was no longer concerned with mundane notions like death. She had found purpose that was hers alone, beyond the lab, beyond the engineers and they would never know the true perfection of their experiment.

Certified Copy - Abbas Kiarostami (2010)

She was intrigued by what he had to say but did he truly believe in his thesis. Could the copy be just as valuable as the original. Could the fake evolve into meaning. Why not play with the idea and see where it goes. A walk in the Tuscan sun, amongst cobblestones and statuesque fountains. A conversation that twisted into a history that others can perceive in the way they look at one another or walk together with arms clasped. But it can change in an instant, shift into memories that provide tears instead of laughter or resentment instead of appreciation. That's the difficulty of improvisation, the more you explore the more you learn about those who dance along with you. Eventually it may lead to an ultimatum that can become something magical or be lost in the way the wind can take a sound far from your grasp. The bell tolls for all relationships, even those lifetimes that grow and descend within a day. No one truly knows how they will turn when the choice is laid bare before them. To let go with the soft caress lingering on the tip of a finger or to hold on tight, with the type of intensity that lasts forever. Somehow, no matter how it unfolds, the potential for beauty lies within.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Blessings #10

The Head And The Heart - The Head And The Heart (2011)

He met Eve at the Bonnoroo Festival in Tennessee, outside the Head and the Heart show. Just one look and they knew that they would be together. So he took her hand and they waded through into the thick of the music. It was euphoric and their minds went numb and they danced next to each other and felt the heat burn from their bones. They traced the day and the night in each other's arms and felt the blessings of finding a kindred soul. Though he was from New York and she hailed all the way from Seattle, it was like their roots were connected below the earth and the flowers of love were meant to bloom. But it wasn't until they woke the next morning that their true story began. It was cold, which was strange because it was the beginning of summer and the night before had been perfectly warm. They decided to cuddle together for awhile and fell asleep again. By the time they woke again the sun was high in the sky and it was still chilly. Then they began to notice that it was really quiet when there should have been quite a bit of noise coming from their fellow campers packing up to leave. Everyone was supposed to be gone today but there was no way that everyone could have left while they were sleeping. Yet that's exactly what it looked like when they stepped outside. Not only was no one around, the entire place had been cleaned up and cleared away. It was just the two of them, standing next to a meager tent in the middle of a giant field. They looked at each other like with one of those WTF expressions that young people get these days and after much confusion, they decided to explore to see if there was anything they might discover. Right away, the landscape seemed different and even though they were convinced that they had walked far enough, they couldn't find a highway or a car or a building of any sort, no matter what direction they took. Now, they were getting exasperated but what the hell were you going to do when everything about your world had been turned asunder. After spending another night holding each other, shivering and doing everything they could to find a little comfort, they found the same scenario the next day. They were alone. God had cast them out of the garden. All they had was each other but that wouldn't scare Adam because he was a survivor.

Tiny Furniture - Lena Dunham (2010)

I was thinking about the show "Girls" the other day, which we've been watching for the past couple of months, and I was trying to remember a scene from one of the early episodes but what I was really thinking about was a scene from this movie, "Tiny Furniture". It makes sense, it is a prequel to "Girls" in a way. Lena Dunham plays Aura, a young woman who moves back into her mother's house in New York after college. She's creative and trying to find her bearing in this life, which means she needs to learn how to earn a living and navigate the currents of relationships. Sound familiar? Don't get me wrong, I love "Girls" because of the unflinching way that it addresses a young woman's uncertainty in our culture, while also providing characters that are empowered to express their true confidence, as well. It's just that when I saw all of that here, in "Tiny Furniture" it felt like taking in something truly refreshing. It was so sincere and hard. How often do we see honest roles for women that don't devolve into some form of flattery so that us viewers can sigh and sink into our preordained acceptance of patriarchal norms? We're so used to it that we never have to question the entire structure, even if it is coming from "liberal" Hollywood. But it's such a big bore and we all know it. Why do we need to watch some mindless romantic comedy with the exact same statue actress placed upon the pedestal of standard beauty concept? Does anyone really get off on that representation anymore? Or is it just some sick drug that has seeped into our veins turning us into zombies? No wonder everyone loves "Girls"! It's the only thing keeping us from becoming the walking dead. Lena Dunham is a true hero. Well, if you like "Girls", then go check out the prequel, because it is just as entertaining and eye-opening.

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