Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Memories #19

Tord Gustavsen Quartet - Extended Circle

For the longest time, I didn't listen to jazz. My dad played it around the house when I was young but that was like, cheesy eighties jazz, Kenny G style. But, of course, if you are willingly searching for beauty in music, then there will be a moment when jazz enters your life. I discovered it in my late twenties, mid-day, lying on the sofa, under the flavor of marijuana, with John Coltrane's Love Supreme on the stereo. Listening to the softest drum solo that you will ever hear in your life, I fell into a half-dream state and discovered the heart of the universe. It was a magical moment that revealed to me how valuable my life could be and all I wanted to do was tap into the creative part of my soul that was the embodiment of that sound. Coltrane was a message riding on the wings of immortality and if you are ready to hear it, your life will change forever. Well, that was many years ago and now I actively seek out the type of jazz music that I can connect with in a similar fashion. Sometimes it's of the moment and sometimes it's eternal. I have a feeling that this album, Extended Circle by the Tord Gustavsen Quartet will be one of the latter. It is a gentle reminder that we need time to rest, hopefully on the couch in a state of life where our entire beings are open to the universe.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Memories #20

Samantha Crain - Kid Face

When I was a kid, my life revolved around baseball, BMX and wandering through the canyons near my home. One of the great things about the San Diego landscape is that the entire region is basically a bunch of hills and canyons. From the cliffs of Torrey Pines to the scrub brush of east county, you can't go anywhere without driving around, hiking through or climbing up to get a view from the top of a summit, the canyons splayed out below like veins rushing to so some primordial heart that most likely can be found beating somewhere near Mission Valley. When I spent my days exploring the canyons near my home, it often felt like I was in another world that was so far from our modern structures, even though the sound of the freeway jut over the ridge could be heard in the background. I would see a hawk floating overhead and instantly be transported to the wild terrain of the west during the 19th century, the struggles to survive playing in our minds, though a warm meal and a soft bed were just around the bend. It was a delight to travel so deep into my imagination whenever I wanted by simply stepping outside my door and wandering just a few yards away. When I listen to Samantha Crain, my mind immediately goes into deep canyons and begins wandering amongst ancient tales that take my breath away. She has the voice of a storyteller and the incredible yearning to express it. It's so pleasant to listen to these songs because my youth climbs into my heart, the abundant searching aspect of those days when I went searching for adventure and was able to find it.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Memories #21

Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband

Back when I was in my early twenties, back when I knew everything about everything and if anyone tried to tell me otherwise, well, they didn't know anything about anything. back then I was extremely satisfied with myself, with my indie rock version of the world and I imagined that I was at the leading edge of the cultural expanse of my generation. Well, back then, I met a girl whose perspective on life, so many aspects of life, well, she helped me to open my eyes and see the sun that was out beyond the umbrella I held over my head. This girl, who would later become my wife, would tell me, Oh, mi amor, I do so love your quirky music that is so wild and different but what about other types of music? What about world music? And jazz? And reggae? What about classical music? All of these musical voices have value to give. So I listened and my heart began to expand. But the one type of music that she loved the most was the sound that held a groove, a soulful thump that you felt deep inside, that made you sway. She loved the music that came with a smokey voice that was an element unknown to the periodical chart. It soon became an essential part of our collection and now, to this day, I love it just as much as she does. Little Dragon embodies so much of that style.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Memories #22

Jolie Holland - Wine Dark Sea

There comes a time in every person's life when we must discover our own voice. It's a rite of passage that all of us must experience in order to have a fulfilling existence. For me, I never knew where to go inside to find that honest expression until I started chanting Nam-Moyoho-Renge-Kyo. I was lost at sea but then I found a Buddhist philosophy that suddenly connected with the fundamental story that was my own. I began to believe in my vision and started channeling my energy into creating value with my life. What a wonderful feeling to discover who you are meant to be! When I listen to Jolie Holland sing, I immediately understand that she is someone who carries the same fundamental philosophy. She may not be Buddhist but she is a powerful unique voice in this universe. I marvel at the tone and honesty that comes from these songs and I can imagine a place where people respect one another and strive to build something of value. What a world this would be if we were all just as creative! It must look something like Holland's wine dark sea, a swirling beauty that lies beyond the mystique of the heavens.

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Monday, December 08, 2014

Memories #23

Milk Carton Kids - The Ash and the Clay

There was a time, a soft spot in the morning when the light leaked through the window, casting dust motes across the space of the room. Tiny starships floating through the air, hoping to find a habitable planet, away from the pain they left behind. Perhaps a place next to the sweet smell of the river, green plants swirling under the surface of the water, the rise of white sandy islands catching the propeller. We get out and lie on the particles, scratchy on my back, as the sun scorches our bodies. When it gets too hot, we run and jump in the water, cool against the red of our skin, then warm because the rays stir in the shallows all day long. Camp fires, crispy food, cold drinks and the lazy haze of the day drifting through our brains, causing our eyes to droop low against the coming night, the light drifting away, as if they were chasing the shadows or the shadows were chasing them. The soft warm of a comforter takes me away from all that came with the day, a smile on my face because the hoppy days of summer have infiltrated every part of me.

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Sunday, December 07, 2014

Memories #24

Dean Wareham - Dean Wareham

There was a time when I was like, yeah, I know who Galaxie 500 is but have I ever listened to one of their songs. Obviously not, because that's like deep college radio stuff, deeper than anything I was listening to on 91X. But then I was like, in my mid twenties where I'm digging through crates of used music, hoping to find something for nothing and I run across one of Luna's albums. I somehow knew that Luna was the band that came out of Galaxie 500's break up but I didn't really know the exact players in the game or anything like that. But since it was used, I was definitely up for a listen. Mind you, this was back in the mid-nineties, long before we had the type of access to music that we have now. I couldn't just go listen to them on soundcloud or watch one of their videos on youtube in order to find out if I really was into them. This was back when you had to guess half the time and hoped that you didn't get some album with only one decent song on it. Well, all I have to say is that Luna album (Pup Tent) was pretty damn awesome and, of course I had to find out more about Galaxie 500 at that point, couldn't put it off any longer, you know, and they were pretty damn awesome, as we all know now. It didn't take long for Luna to become one of my favorite bands and, to this day, I still think that they wrote the greatest pop-rock song ever. Of course, eventually Luna broke up, as well, but that didn't stop the guy who made both of those bands great from making music. Dean Wareham, everybody, and this is his latest offering.

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Friday, December 05, 2014

Memories #25

Lee Fields and the Expressions - Emma Jean

Back when I was just a wee lad, I was raised in a household with very little music. I wasn't required to understand or learn about music or how to play it. I was given a minimal introduction into the world of sound and harmonies. My mother didn't bring much of her tastes into our environment, aside for the occasional Christian pop album or mainstream easy listening. My father on the other hand, had a love for rootsy, bluesy style rock and folk music, which was quite popular during the seventies. Eventually he discovered jazz, as all of those who start out listening to rock learn to realize is connected to the roots of the music they love. I hated most of it, beyond appreciating a nice tune from Fleetwood Mac or Lynard Skynard but I did come to admire one of his favorites. J.J. Cale was one of the great guitarists and song writers of the 20th century. He took blues and softened it just right but didn't fall all the way into the sentimental type of folk music that drives some of us crazy. Cale was a master and so many great guitarists of the seventies and eighties emulated him or covered his music. Now we come to Lee Fields, who does a beautiful cover of Cale's song, Magnolia, on this album and captures it in a unique way that pulls every ounce of emotion from the tale. I've mentioned Fields before and, much like Cale, he presents a sound that takes so many elements of the past that we know, then gives us his magical blend that can't be found anywhere else. This is music that is easy to love because it is expressed with so much love. It also takes me back and reminds me of a time when I first began to love music on a visceral level, a time when I didn't know the real power of it, except when the twist of a melody skipped a beat in my heart making me perceive it all with such difference.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Memories #26

Porter Robinson - Worlds 

This Thanksgiving break, as we gathered with family and friends, my brother-in-law regaled us with a tale about a rave that one of the cousins threw back in the day. It was in a warehouse that they were renting and the lease was up, so they decided to throw a big bash before this prime spot was gone. Mind you, this was long before all the revitalization efforts that went under way here in San Diego back in the aughts, so it was quite an underground event. Well, apparently this was one epic rave and I'm sure there was plenty of music that pounded down on the all the sweaty bodies harbored under that roof. At the time of this occurrence, I wasn't really into dance music and never attended these types of parties that were becoming such an important part of our culture. Of course, by now music that thumps our hearts and bones in such a way is common and I have come to love it in my own way. Porter Robinson's Worlds is my favorite dance album from the past year, mostly because, even though the beat will drive through you in a way that is primal, Robinson also blends in the type of soaring beauty that lifts us over the crowd and into the heavens. Now, I mentioned that I never went to a proper rave of the kind mentioned this past weekend but the most impromptu party that I ever was involved with happened in my early twenties when I still lived out in Jamul. Some friends of mine had gathered at my place to appreciate the beauty of a weekend out in the countryside when my sister came to tell us about a band, going by the name Green Box, that couldn't find their party out there in the boondocks. We welcomed them with open arms and set them up next to the pool. Green Box spent the evening blasting us with nineties punk rock, while we all got properly wasted. It was such a spontaneous and intimate experience that I know I'll remember it forever.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Memories #27

Jenny Lewis - The Voyager

Did you know that Jenny Lewis was a child actor during the eighties and nineties in a bunch of lousy family films and a few interesting indie flicks. Most notable of all these films was the movie, Foxfire, which is notable because it was one of the early films in Angelina Jolie's career, when she was starting to get recognition as a presence. In the movie, Lewis plays a high school girl who is being sexually harassed (assaulted?) by a creepy teacher and even though she seems to be this quiet, meek type, Jolie's rebel character helps her stand up to the guy. The movie is pretty decent but I totally remember her in the film, especially because she was the cutest of the bunch. I had no idea that she would soon form a band that would become one of my favorite artists for much of the aughts. Rilo Kiley blew me away in 2004 with their album, More Adventurous, especially the song, It's A Hit. I became one of those rabid fans for a couple of years and enjoyed all of her side projects, even seeing the very first Postal Service show ever, here at the Casbah in San Diego. It's been an interesting ride with many ups and downs; her collaboration with the Watson Twins got me hooked on them, while her collaboration with Johnathan Rice made me lose all hope in her future endeavors. Well, here we are in 2014 with her second solo effort, The Voyager, and it reminds me a lot of the old Rilo Kiley stuff that I always loved. Songs that evoke a story or a place that doesn't quite touch the earth. It's wonderful to journey on with an artist that captured my youthful heart so long ago.

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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.


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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