Vocabulary Lesson!

July 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

Let’s have a vocab lesson, shall we?

Indie (n.)
1. Music released on an independent label
2. Any music slightly left of mainstream
3. Not always about lost love, sometimes about Christmas in Zoos

Found that on urbandictionary.com and it was probably my favorite definition. A little serious, a little fun. Just right. Music taste is often a popular topic of discussion. Meet someone for the first time – “What kind of music do you listen to?” I hate answering this question. I don’t listen to the radio. Really. I don’t actually have a radio in my car. Just my ipod. Which is pretty perfect if I do say so myself. I don’t listen to musicians that most people have heard of – Sea Wolf, Acetate Zero, Foster the People, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, Beach House, Miracle Fortress, The Big Pink,  – so it’s kinda hard to explain what I’m interested in. usually I just say “I listen to more indie stuff” assuming they’d understand what that meant. The usual response? “Oh, you mean like Slumdog Millionaire music?” Really? No, “Jai Ho” is not at the top of my most played songs.

So to keep all you ridiculous people from thinking I’m a huge Bollywood fan I give you this lesson. Indie is short for independent. Independent record labels. Not Slumdog Millionaire. Educate yourself.


I am tired.

May 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

I say this with the heaviest of sighs. I am exhausted on so many levels for so many reasons. None of which we will be discussing, well, because I’m tired. I will, however, give you a little nugget of information that I think you’ll appreciate. On my fantastic 80G ipod – one of my prized possessions – I have a running playlists of my favorite songs that instantly cause every fiber in my being to relax. Ranges anywhere from slow and melancholy to just simply happy songs that make life a little more enjoyable. Here we go kids:

“Satellite Heart” – Anya Marina
“Poison & Wine” – The Civil Wars
“Summer Skin” – Death Cab for Cutie
“A Lack of Color” – Death Cab for Cutie
“Feels Like Home” – Edwina Hayes
“Rachel’s New Apartment” – Lixian Hantover
“Possibility” – Lykke Li
“Hold Your Secrets to Your Heart” – Miracle Fortress
“Young Folks” – Peter Bjorn and John
“Holly, Ontario” – Said the Whale
“Are You Devo” – Shelby Sifers & Tyler Tadlock
“Come Thou Fount” – Sufjan Stevens
“Julia” – Taken by Trees
“Little Lovin'” – Lissie
“Generator^1st Floor” – Freelance Whales
“Mouthful of Diamonds” – Phantogram
“Slow with horns/run for your life” – Dan Deacon
“Brothers on a Hotel Bed” – Death Cab for Cutie
“Clementine” – Sarah Jaffe

Quite a list I know but I couldn’t just stop with a few. Like I said, it’s a running playlist. This is in no particular order, so don’t feel obligated to keep it the list as written.  Actually, there was absolutely no thought whatsoever placed into this order. I’ll do my best to keep this updated so you have plenty of music to listen to when you are tired. 

People I Wish I Was Friends With: Rick Rubin

April 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Seriously. Just look at the man. Coolest guy ever, yeah? But wait, there’s more. He’s worked with the most incredible musicians of our time. Of my parents’ time. Let’s discuss: LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, Run DMC, Slayer, Mick Jagger, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Willie Nelson, Rage Against the Machine, Jay Z, Brandi Carlile, Pete Yorn, Avett Brothers, Kanye West, Poison, Shakira, Neil Diamond, Weezer, Kid Rock, Josh Groban, Adele. And that’s like 40%.

The stories this guy must have. He’s a totally chill kind of guy. In an interview with Anthony Kiedis (which you can find here) he talks about he recently got in touch with his inner self. Adopting an intense workout regime including surfing on a regular basis, this guy has got to be the coolest, chillest man to hang out with. (Do I sound completely hippie yet?)

I mean let’s be real. Who doesn’t want to be friends with a guy who has a beard like that?

Go watch a movie: 127 Hours

March 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m on spring break this week – heavenly gift that came at the perfect moment. As I’m sure you could’ve guessed, this week has been full of movie watching. Saturday I had the chance to see 127 Hours. Directed by Danny Boyle starring James Franco.

Inspired by the true story of Aaron Ralston. This movie is not for weak stomachs. He does cut his arm off, you do see it – your right arm will feel tingly the entire time. Nevertheless this movie is beautifully done. The filming is unique and exciting giving you a sense of adventure. Experiencing the 5 days that he is stuck in such a small crevice with his arm wedged under a rock is incredibly heartbreaking. James Franco, as strange as he may be, can truly perform on the silver screen. The music selection during the whole film – perfect, just phenomenal. Now on DVD, put it on the queue or run to the nearest Redbox – and watch it now.

If I ran the Oscars…

February 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

Big news, people! Academy Awards are tomorrow evening on ABC at 8pm. As I’m sure you’re quite aware I could not be more excited. Anne Hathaway and James Franco are hosting so we certainly are all in for a great show.

Let’s talk about how they are calling the awards “Oscar”. Not a big fan. Let’s just keep it “The Oscars”, please. This is also the second year they doubled the amount of best picture nominations from. In my opinion, ten nominees is just way too many. How is anyone supposed to choose a single movie out of that entire list? It’s nice to have a wide selection of different movies, but when you have to narrow it down to a single film to represent the year’s “best” – a smaller list of choices would be better. In addition to the long list of nominees, the criteria for the winner should be more objective and consistent. Often times, films win due to the politics of the Hollywood world. The Hurtlocker winning because it wasn’t Avatar, in my opinion – maybe in a spiteful sense. (Not so hot now, James Cameron, huh? – your ex-wife just ripped two academy awards out of your hands). There needs to be a more objective criteria. Let’s take a look:

The components to a “Best Picture” winner:
1. The Story. Obviously you need a good storyline to produce a good movie. You can’t write about a geeky kid getting the hot girl and expect to get an academy award nomination. Make it real, relateable, moving, inspiring, controversial (and no, geeks with hot girls is not controversy).

2. The Acting. Sure you can have a stupendous story but if you’re hiring Nicholas Cage and Mariah Carey playing the protagonists in your epic movie you can kiss your Oscar goodbye – you know, you can go ahead and kiss your invitation to the Oscars goodbye as well.

3. The Writing. No CSI: Miami one-liners, please. Smooth, intelligent, relevant writing is incredibly important to a great movie – If what the characters is saying is dull and uninventive no one will want to listen. Hire Aaron Sorkin. Problem solved.

4. The Cinematography. Make your movie pretty!! Stop using straight on shots and panning sunsets; switch it up a little, be creative with the scenes you’ve got.

5. The Music. “To me, movies and music go hand in hand. When I’m writing a script, one of the first things I do is find the music I’m going to play for the opening sequence.” – Quentin Tarantino. If anyone knows the importance of music in movies it’s him. The kind of music used in a scene can make or break it. Something completely joyous can appear horrific or something absolutely frightening can look like the feel good movie of the year without the proper music.

To end today’s blog I’d like to post my predictions for tomorrow night’s winners. Yes, these “predictions” will be full of bias and hopes, but I will do my best to make this as unbiased as possible:

Best Picture: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are Alright, The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Toy Story 3, Winter’s Bone, True Grit, 127 Hours
Actor in Lead Role: Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Ferth, James Franco
Actor in Supporting Role: Christian Bale, John Hawkes, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Geoffrey Rush
Actress in Lead Role: Annette Benning, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawerence, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams
Actress in Supporting Role: Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter, Melissa Leo, Hailee Steinfeld, Jacki Weaver
Animated Feature Film: The Illusionist, Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon
Directing: Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell, Tom Hooper, David Fincher, Joel and Ethan Cohen

We’ll keep it a short list today. Tune in tomorrow night to see how my winner’s compare with the academy’s.

Seduction at its finest.

February 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

Quentin Tarantino makes some of the most iconic movies in our culture. Recently he won the first ever Music + Film award for his brilliant combinations of music and picture. And not just in a music video way but in a cinematic way. There are certain songs that, if you’ve seen the movie, you think specifically of Quentin Tarantino. One song in particular, at least for me, is “Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield. Take a look at how Tarantino uses it in Pulp Fiction.

A scene of complete seduction – Uma Thurman’s voice over the intercom, the slowly articulated “disco!” that she utters when John Travolta approaches the intercom – it’s unusual that Tarantino would choose this song. But how perfect is it? Completely adds to the entire feel of the scene in a way that no other song could.

Quentin Tarantino has paved a way for music’s place in cinema and has inspired many other directors’ song choices. I was watching the French film Heartbreakers yesterday (a great light hearted comedy, a few cheesy moments, but fun to watch a romantic comedy in another language). One of the opening scenes – a young, handsome man sitting in the pool lusting over the well tanned slim babe in a black bikini exit the pool in slow-mo. What song is in the background? That’s right – “Son of a Preacher Man” (in English of course). Fantastic to see Quentin Tarantino’s inspiration all over cinematic scene.

I’m terrible with synonyms.

January 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

So I’ve talked movies, television, and some of my life. It’s time we discuss some music. What do ya say?

I’m really into music. It’s such an interesting aspect of life – having the ability to take us immediately back to a single moment or time. Everyone has a song or two or eight that makes us think of a time in our life. Also, at least for me, it has the ability to make us feel things that pictures, movies, or books can’t. Whether it’s instrumental or not, music can alter my mood at any point in the day. You play the first movement of  Bach’s Cello Suite in G, I guarantee you I’ll cry.

There are many many musicians that I admire like Jack White from the White Stripes (and the Raconteurs – and the Dead Weather.) and Dallas Green from City and Colour. My favorite band since I was in high school is Death Cab for Cutie. Their songs are catchy and emotional. But Benjamin Gibbard – the lead singer of the band – is one of the most incredible lyricists I’ve come across. Ben Gibbard also writes and sings for the bands All Time Quarterback and The Postal Service. I’m not too familiar with All Time Quarterback so we’re gonna skip them today.

“Summer Skin”, on Death Cab for Cutie’s album Plans, is one of my favorites. He picks the perfect words to describe the summer season and the carefree love that ends as soon as autumn begins. You can picture every scene that he describes with words that feel like more than simple adjectives:

Squeaky swings and tall grass
The longest shadows ever cast
The water’s warm and children swim
And we frolicked about in our summer skin

I don’t recall a single care
Just greenery and humid air
Then Labor day came and went
And we shed what was left of our summer skin

On the night you left I came over
And we peeled the freckles from our shoulders
Our brand new coats so flushed and pink
And I knew your heart I couldn’t win
Cause the season’s change was a conduit
And we’d left our love in our summer skin

The Postal Service has a song entitled “Nothing Better”. It’s a conversation between a man and woman where the man tries to convince the woman that there could be “nothing better” than spending the rest of their lives together while the woman wants the complete opposite. Again, Ben Gibbard describes every moment so poetically using metaphores and analogies that express his precise feeling. The first stanza is beautifully laid out – the man grieving the loss of his love and begging for her to stay.

“Will someone please call a surgeon
Who can crack my ribs and repair this broken heart
That you’re deserting for better company?
I can’t accept that it’s over…
I will block the door like a goalie tending the net
In the third quarter of a tied-game rivalry”

The last two lines depict perfectly the feeling of absolute desperation for her to stay. Beautiful.

My all time favorite line, is in the song “Brothers on a Hotel Bed”.

“And I have learned, that even landlocked lovers yearn for the sea like navy men.”

The concept of that sentence and words used are just stunning and evoking. Listen to the song – the melody placed with this set of words is delightfully pretty. I highly encourage you to listen to either of these bands. Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans is probably my favorite. I’d be happy to burn it for you :)

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