Saturday, May 31, 2008

Coming Soon To A Blog Near You

Just Added:

This won't be a standard post. Here are just some things you can expect coming up soon:

1. Indiana Jones, the dilemma of nostalgia, and its context in postmodern Hollywood
2. The season 5 finale of Lost recap and commentary
3. More polaroid pictures (and standard photos)--I need to learn how to not bombard a post with pics
4. I Know Who Killed Me vs. Diary of the Dead--two scary movies based on realism, in ways you wouldn't expect
5. I'll be putting all playlists available for download through either a link or Project Playlist, if I can learn how to use it first (


Memorial Day Weekend Songs:
1. Ready for the Floor by Hot Chip
2. Billie Jean by Michael Jackson
3. Pork and Beans by Weezer
4. Nasty Numbers by Robbers on High Street
5. Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros by Flight of the Conchords
6. Everyone Nose (remix) by N.E.R.D., Kanye West, and Lupe Fiasco
7. Ola Kala by I'm From Barcelona
8. Mykonos by Fleet Foxes
9. Whistle for the Choir by The Fratellis
10. In One Ear and Out the Other by Fujiya & Miyagi
11. The Fatalist by Robbers on High Street
12. Wildcat by Ratatat
13. I Disappear by The Faint
14. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow by The Ramones
15. Series of Dreams by Bob Dylan
16. 4 Minutes by Madonna feat. Timbaland and Justin Timberlake
17. Beat It (cover) by Fall Out Boy feat. John Mayer

Bonus Tracks:
18. I Will Possess Your Heart by Death Cab For Cutie
19. Viva La Vida by Coldplay
20. Troublemaker by Weezer

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Positively Polaroid

Ahh, the polaroid. You will be missed! Created in 1963 by American Scientist Edwin Land, the polaroid instant camera and instant film has become an American staple. Polaroids can be used for several different purposes, but namely it answers the question: Can I see the photo now? Make-up artists have used it to take instant photos of application for referrals; photographers use it to preview lighting; some people simply want to see their photo after it is taken. Sadly, though, the digital camera and photography (or polaroids on steroids) have killed this time travel machine. In February 2008, the Polaroid Corporation announced its discontinuation of polaroid film. Fujifilm is now the sole distributor of instant film.

And that just fuckin' sucks.

Months ago, I went to the Fairfax High School Swap Meet. I love these junkyards. One man's junk is another man's treasure. I happened to be browsing through a table when I stumbled upon my treasure: a $10 polaroid camera. Without hesitation, I bought it. Ten minutes later, I did wonder whether I should have asked the seller whether it still worked or not, but I immediately put that disheartening notion out of my mind. I thought maybe I could buy polaroid film on eBay by the bulk, but that proved fruitless as these fuckin' swoopers come out of nowhere during the last hour and outbid me--this happened literally ten times in a row. Finally, though, I discovered that Target sold them, and I proceeded to buy 5 packs of ten. By the way, Polaroids are fucking expensive! It's nearly 20 bucks for 10 photos: do the math.

Ever since then, though, they have become worth the price because I get much more out of them than they are worth.

Polaroids have several different connotations. They have different layers of meanings to different people. To me, polaroids are life in an instant, in one singular moment. The best kind of polaroid pictures are the candid ones. In one polaroid film, you can almost capture the essence of a person. You could say, "Dude, that picture is so Tyler; Wow, that's such a Maria moment." The best candid photos are the ones that catch people being themselves when no one else is looking--they've taken off their mask.

Polaroids also give off the scent of nostalgia. Personally, when I think polaroid, I think 80s. It is literally capturing time in its small frame and making that moment become the past. With its quick flash and instant development, the transition from present to past quickens, thus invoking a sense of time travel. They also invoke nostalgia because of the sentimental home movie-feel they evoke. They have this amateur feel because of the odd lighting and thick film development texture. They are meant to not look professional. Because of this, not only do they give the air of authenticity, they capture true reality. Sure, it's your perception through that tiny square lens, but it's your real truth. No doctoring. No photoshop. No bullshit.

Buy a polaroid camera. Buy some film. Have fun with it before they run out. Who knows? You might be able to see the world for what it really is.

No playlist today, but for your viewing pleasure, polaroids from this past weekend (other albums coming soon!):

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mike Flores: Man or Beast?

I've been thinking about this post for awhile and what to write about. I know that I want to mention what I did this weekend, and I want to talk about its infusion with polaroids (I'll save the great Polaroid debate for the next post). But I always have this problem of "where do I start?" The beginning always seems like the most logical place, but really, where do beginnings begin and endings end if the past, present, and future, are really only displaced by 1 second intervals and events becoming memories. Once a present moment becomes something remembered in the mind of the individual, it becomes the past. Once what we think will happen starts occuring, it becomes the present, which becomes the past and so forth.

I guess I'll start with Mike Flores. This weekend, I went to lovely San Luis Obispo to visit my best friend Chad. Friday night, of course, we played many a game of beer pong (and dominated for that matter), but it was Saturday that was the highlight of the trip. Every year, Pismo Beach throws one of the largest Beerfests in the county. $65 tickets and over 80 imported beers equals everyone getting trashed. But alas, tickets were sold out. Chad's friend Rudy has been trying every year to attend Beerfest but the high cost of tickets and its quick sell-out rate has deterred him from doing so. As a result, Rudy, this year decided to throw his own Beerfest. We got there around 1 p.m. and immediately sampled some fine Old Speckled Hen--a mixture of Coors light and crap. It wasn't the best tasting beer, but it a was nice kickoff. Soon, everything starts getting awesome. The world starts spinning a bit, but Chadwick and I still power through. Around 7 p.m. and a cornucopia of beers later, we notice an old Mexican rocking a war colonel mustache and an aging beer belly walk into the party, sit down, and start drinking our beer. Curiousity getting the best of us, Chad and I decide to meet this mysterious man.

Chad: Hey, what's up, mate? I'm Chad.
Mike: I'm Mike. Mike Flores. But who are you really?
Chad: Umm, I'm Chad.
Mike: No really, who are you?
Chad: Umm, I like to surf and I want to be a firefighter.
Mike: No, you're lying to me. I'm looking into your soul, and it's telling me that you're lying. Who are you really?

At this point, Chad gives me a nervous look. Mike has firmly gripped his hand over Chad's and not let go. I decide to interject. I place my hand on Mike's shoulder and say, "Hey, man, I'm Kage. You know Chad?"

Mike: Get your fuckin' hand off me. I'm not gay. I don't swing that way.

Chad finally frees his hand from the titanic grip, and we both play some beer pong. Using our detective skills, we start asking several people the question of the hour: Who the fuck is Mike Flores?

Now, I don't know if it was because everyone was pretty drunk by 8 p.m. or that Mike was on something, but every encounter we had with him was filled with drunken, racial slurs. I caught some lines about Chinese people not having rights and Italians squeezing out the grease or something of the sort, but the moment that really stuck out to me was when I asked him if he smoked.

Me: So, Mike, you smoke?
Mike: No, why, you got some?
Me: No, dude, I don't. I'm just making conversation.
Mike: Fuck your conversation, man. I ain't no queer.
Me: I'm sorry, Mike. I didn't mean to offend you.
Mike: I will knock you out right now (he said this while never breaking eye contact with me).
Me: Ok, umm, I'm not gonna say anything.
Mike: You wanna smoke? Check this shit out.

Mike proceeds to pull out a bag of what looks like weed and coke mixed in one pile of drug glory.
The first thing I thought about was the photographer from only hours before.

Surfing with a hangover is one of the greatest and worst ideas a human could possibly have. After only getting 3 hours of sleep, Chad wakes me up to go surfing. The day could not have been any better: the sun was out, the waves were huge, and the wind was minimal. Now, the only thing I can say about my surfing experience is that being out of shape, smoking lots of cigarettes, and being hungover definitely did not contribute anything positive to the experience. Needless to say, I couldn't even paddle out past the waves, as they kept pushing me back towards shore. I proceeded to go back to the sand, throw up a little, and then dug a very large hole, where some sandcrabs bit me.

But hey, you should try everything once, right? At least that's what the photographer lady said. As we were loading the boards into the truck, a woman carrying a sweet Canon camera with a fist-size lens walked over to us and started telling Chad's friend Patti how beautiful she and her polka-dot designed board were, and how she just had to take a picture. We said, sure why not, this is a random, awkward, awesome encounter, how many times do you get a photo taken professionally? Well, one photo turned into 60, and we ended up having a mini photo shoot which involved talks of our majors, her career as a photographer in SLO, and the philosophy of trying everything once. The photographer said, "Life is short. How many opportunities do you get? When you see it, take it. Don't even think twice." She made a valid point and proceeded to make us feel extremely good about ourselves by giving us a plethora of compliments. Next time I get depressed, I'm definitely giving her a call.

Which brings me back to Mike Flores. I won't lie when I say I pondered the photographer's words and debated whether or not I should smoke with Mike Flores. After all, how many chances would I get to say that I did such a thing with a random, shady man that crashed Beerfest and proceeded to creep the fuck out of everyone there? Well, coming to that realization, I immediately looked at Chad and said, "Dude, let's bounce." Mike Flores yelled out some racial obscenity about Cubans and rafts (being that I had told him I was Cuban only minutes before) as we walked away. Sure, sometimes in life, you should try everything once, but sometimes you gotta realize, if you do the things that could kill you once, well, you may not be around to try anything else again.

An Ode To Mike Flores:
1. Ayo for Yayo by Andre Nikatina
2. Creep by Radiohead
3. Acid Raindrops by People Under The Stairs
4. Addicted by Amy Winehouse or Simple Plan
5. All Apologies by Nirvana
6. All Mixed Up by 311
7. American Terrorist by Lupe Fiasco
8. Because I Got High by Afroman
9. Belda-Beast by Iron Butterfly
10. Bitch Niggaz by Dr. Dre
11. Dope Nose by Weezer
12. Mama Said Knock You Out by LL Cool J
13. White Lines by Grandmaster Flash
14. Death or Glory by The Clash
15. Drug Ballad by Eminem
16. Chinese Children by Devendra Banhart
17. How I Could Just Kill A Man by Cypress Hill
18. Who Are You by The Who

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'll take some angst with that pork and beans

Rivers Cuomo is the owner of a lonely heart. For a guy who is adored by millions, he seems to think that there is no one else that could possibly understand him. In a sense, it's understandable, too. The Weezer frontman has been pushed and pulled, loved and hated by fans and critics alike since the inception of his band. Weezer came out in the 90s during the grunge era when bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam were making millions off of their Generation X angst towards girls, rules, society, morals, etc. Weezer and Nirvana actually have very similar lyrics. Both lead singers write about their incapable dads, their broken hearts, and their anger towards intolerant people. I feel like one of the only differences then is that no one really takes Weezer, or Rivers specifically, seriously. Through the progression of his career, Rivers has turned from skinny white kid to emo uber geek to, well, I guess he's stayed the same, but his clothes have just gotten weirder (see: Rivers' suit phase during the Green Album, his cowboy and moustache outfit for the Red Album). Of course people take Kurt Cobain seriously--he loved his heroin and killed himself. Now, please don't think I'm being insensitive. His death is one of rock music's--and pop culture's--saddest, greatest, and most important tragedies.

So why does Rivers get no respect? Some would say that he's just a whiny little bitch. But isn't that why we loved him in the first place? The Blue Album showed a subtle, personal side to songwriting. At times, he'd be making radio friendly hits like "Buddy Holly," but then he had those dark moments, namely "The World Has Turned and Left Me Here" and especially "Say It Ain't So" where he rages about isolation and addiction, respectively. From what I remember, fans and critics loved this notion, of encapsulating your heart on CD. So when Pinkerton came out, Rivers put it all on the line--he wrote about his long distant love in Asia, he wrote about his sexual inadequacies, he sung about the ones he fucked over, and lost for good. He wrote about his regrets. And we spurned him. We shunned him. Critics and fans railed this soul-bearing album, and Rivers retreated into isolation. No one understood the guy.

Years later, Pinkerton would be hailed as one of the major pioneers of the emo movement, which can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. Rivers went to Harvard, and the rest of the band did their own thing (side projects such as The Good Life, Space Twins, etc.). The diehard fans, though, wanted them some Weezer. The demand was undeniable. I personally didn't start listening to Weezer until they decided to make a comeback at the 1998 KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas. I remember reading the playlist and thinking "Weezer, what the fuck is that?" Needless to say, when I heard that first drumbeat for "Undone (The Sweater Song)," not only did I know they were familiar, but I knew I had found an amazing band. Needless to say, when I first heard the opening distortion to "Tired of Sex" from Pinkerton, I knew I had found a band that I could relate to. Rivers may feel lonely himself, but he makes his fans feel like part of a community. He may think that the world has turned and left him, but for the fans, all we thought was "Wow, there's someone who thinks the way I think, feels the way I feel. Maybe I'm not the only one going through these things." Needless to say, they are still my favorite band.

The Green Album showcased Weezer's return to glory--lovesick lyrics with heavy metal/pop influences. The stark contrast between the new Weezer and old Weezer, though, was in the lyrics and meticulous songwriting. The lyrics were general and impersonal; the songwriting was too formulaic. It still sounded fuckin' great, but something was off. Because of its commercial success, Weezer tried to turn towards a more mainstream sound: Maladroit showcased typical Weezer but with more of an 80s power pop/rock sound, which, don't get me wrong, was okay, but it was too dissonant from previous Weezer material to garner attention.

Don't even get me started on Make Believe, Weezer's 5th outing. I'll just come right out and say it--I am not a fan of this album. It's got some real keepers ("This Is Such A Pity," "Freak Me Out," and "Haunt You Every Day"--which could be one of their most powerful album closers ever, perhaps behind "Only In Dreams"), but sweet geezus, songs like "Beverly Hills" and especially "My Best Friend" have no soul to them. In a sense, Rivers and Weezer sold out. Through lyrics such as "Your'e my best friend/ and I love you," it felt like Rivers was too fuckin' scared to show real emotion. To me, it seems like this album was for the record label, to get them off their backs. Take a look at "We Are All On Drugs." Rivers made it big on "Hash Pipe" when he talked about the fun and awkwardness of smoking bowls--it was a fun song that wouldn't be taken seriously. But "We Are All On Drugs," well, that song could definitely complement an anti-drug commercial. It's The Man saying "Don't do drugs, kids." It's not Rivers or the rest of the band.

So where am I going with this long rant? Because the real Weezer has come back to us. And you know what? They've matured, too, as heard in their new single "Pork and Beans." The song begins with a great guitar line, catchy and quirky. He then sings about getting older and losing his appeal with younger generations. He even takes a jab at the current music trend, singling out Timbaland. "Timbaland knows the way to reach the top of the charts / Maybe if I work with him I can perfect the art." I don't think he's bashing on Timbaland, but just on the state of the industry in which there's no personal touch to music anymore. And with this song, he's finally learned a true lesson: not caring about what others think. The Red Album, I'm hoping shows another reinvention of Weezer (hence the new color), where they play music, not to please people, but just for the sake of playing it, because they love it. "Pork and Beans" is pure Weezer: catchy guitar hooks, epic rock chorus, goofy yet personal lyrics. But there's something new: Rivers has finally gained his confidence. He sings:

"Imma do the things that I wanna do /
I ain't got a thing to prove to you /
I'll eat my candy with the pork and beans /
Excuse my manners if I make a scene /
I ain't gonna wear the clothes that you like /
I'm fine and dandy with the me inside /
One look in the mirror and I'm tickled pink /
I don't give a hoot about what you think"

This time, Rivers doesn't care if he's the owner of a lonely heart. He's happy the way he is. Even if this album doesn't make big money or isn't critically raved, what the fuck ever. I'm gonna go out and buy this album and love this album. And I don't give a hoot about what you think.

The Best of Weezer Playlist (in no particular order):
1. Hash Pipe
2. Island in the Sun
3. O Girlfriend
4. This is such a Pity
5. Freak Me Out
6. Haunt You Every Day
7. My Name Is Jonas
8. No One Else (live and acoustic)
9. Undone (The Sweater Song)
10. Buddy Holly
11. Say It Ain't So
12. Only in Dreams
13. Surf Wax America
14. Across The Sea
15. The Good Life
16. El Scorcho
17. Butterfly
18. Take Control
19. Death and Destruction
20. Slob
21. Slave
22. Hit Me Baby One More Time (cover)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Oh yeah? You and what army?"

So last night, I saw the little indie film that could Son of Rambow. Now, I'm just gonna throw it out there and say this movie isn't the greatest thing. Don't get me wrong, it's a good movie; it's fun. But it's not Garden State. It's not Little Miss Sunshine, and it definitely isn't Me and You and Everyone We Know. Every summer produces that one little independent film that people seek out amidst the blockbuster, special F/X clutter. These little independent films are the ones with emotional resonance, with witty dialogue, or obscure scenes of humor. And of course, the film has a great soundtrack.

As a whole, Son of Rambow was quite entertaining, but I felt like it didn't really emotionally impact me except make me re-appreciate that awesome decade known as the 80s and increase my desire to make a movie this summer.

SPOILER ALERT: The film follows two young British boys Lee Carter and William as they aspire to make a sequel to the 80s hit Rambo: First Blood. Their version of the film follows the Son of Rambo as he tries to save his father from the evil scarecrow, flying dogs, and an army of ninja assassins. Sounds absurd, right? But it's really quite believable. It reminded me a little bit of Be Kind Rewind because the films are shot on old-school VHS, giving it a wholly amateur feel. I wish the film had dug just a little bit deeper into the personal and psychological motivations of the kids, or at least given a reason as to why they chose to focus on Rambo out of all the other sweet 80s films.

But you know what? Who the fuck cares really. The film's small moments really made this movie worth the $8.50. There are scenes that use subtle CGI to showcase William performing certain Rambo stunts such as getting launched into the air by a seesaw, being launched by a giant waterhose, or being thrown into an oil pit. There are even small lines of dialogue that just make you laugh out loud because it's so random.

Kid 1: I'm gonna beat the snot out of you!
Kid 2: Oh yeah? You and what army?!
Kid 1: Army? That doesn't even make sense.

William: I think we should separate.
Lee: (5 second pause) OK!!!!!

Those probably aren't the best quotes from the movie. I donno, I guess it's one of those you have to see it kind of things.

Probably the best scene of whole movie was, as my buddy Scott put it, the parody of the film industry, in which all the kids of the 80s are at the "Hollywood club" where they dance, get high on scratch-n-sniffs, and do some mad drugs like mix Pop Rocks and Soda. One kid even runs out and vomits--typical Hollywood clubgoer.

It's the small things that make this movie. On a synedochic level, Son of Rambow represents the small movies out there like our favorite indie darlings. Sure, Iron Man was fucking badass. So Spiderman 3, Pirates 3, and Shrek The Third made 100s of millions of dollars their opening weekends. But in all honesty, did you really LOVE those films? Were they good movies? Ok, Iron Man was amazing, but could you connect with his character? Did you learn something about yourself? Were you inspired by Tony Stark (besides wanting an iron man suit of your own to blow shit up?) Now think back to those random small movies you've seen. I remember the first time I watched Just Friends. I swear I have never laughed harder in my life. And you know what, I could totally relate to Chris Brander and his plight. How many guys out there have been stuck in the friend zone? It's the little things that make great movies. Small things go big ways. Maybe Son of Rambow's main point is to show that you don't need huge effects, star power, or a $100 million dollar budget to make a blockbuster. All you need is a camcorder, friends, and a passion to portray life on the silver screen.

The Small Things Playlist
1. All The Small Things by Blink 182
2. The Little Things by Good Charlotte
3. Little Room by The White Stripes
4. Little Boxes by Malvina Reynolds
5. Little Weapon by Lupe Fiasco
6. Littlest Things by Lily Allen
7. Tiny Dancer by Elton John
8. Small Stakes by Spoon
9. A Time To Be So Small by Interpol
10. Tiny Cities Made of Ashes by Modest Mouse

Sunday, May 18, 2008

It's About Time. . .

It seriously has taken me forever to post something on this blog.
In all honesty, I have no idea what to write about. I've got some ideas here and there, but I really have no idea what I'm doing. In my wildest and most fantastic dreams, I envision a blog that thousands of people read every day, that movie studios try to bribe me to write good reviews about their films. But for now, I guess I have to enjoy it on a (extremely?) small-scale level.

Blogs are rapidly becoming (if not already) one of the most trusted sources of information and opinion. Which is interesting in and of itself since blogs are solely based on the personal and biased opinion of one person. People just can't trust paid-for advertisements anymore because they constantly bombard our awareness and attention spans. It is much easier and credible for people to trust word-of-mouth from friends or associates because they either enjoyed or hated something purely for its entertainment value. They weren't paid to do it. Take a look at Kanye West's blog. All he does is post stuff that he likes such as the new Coldplay song ("Viva La Vida") or The Dark Knight trailer (which will definitely be the best movie of the summer). And people trust this, because it's Kanye. He's not repping himself: he's promoting other things out of sheer love for them and a way to connect with his fans and introduce them to his interests. However, it's a give-and-take relationship. If we didn't have this constant bombardment of media advertisements, how would we know what's out there to enjoy?

For example, today, I was driving on the 405, and The Hulk stared me down from the side of some random building for about 2 miles before I finally passed him. He was about 15 feet tall and green as kush. But sweet geezus, I am sick and tired of CGI. A lot of times, CGI is just so obvious that it really makes you feel that the movie is not real. According to Cannes reports, CGI has ruined Indy 4, which is almost as disappointing as Spiderman 3 or Speed Racer. Obviously, it's not real, but the real fun in watching a movie is losing yourself in it. For some time, it becomes your reality. Sure, these billboards and posters reinforce, remind, and expose people to certain products and increase their awareness, but dammit, sometimes, I don't want to look at The Hulk. Sometimes, I would just like to enjoy the scenic, smog-filled side of the freeway. Although, if it weren't for this massive billboard, I may not have known (at least today, since I'm sure soon we'll be seeing TV spots plague the airwaves) that the film comes out June 13, 2008. Now, I have something to look forward to.

It's funny, though, that people constantly focus on the endpoint. These marketing campaigns for films can run for about a year or so and only increase in exposure as it gets closer to that opening date. The first weekend, instead of the film's total distribution length, defines a film as a success or failure in the eyes of the public. Marketers, studios, filmmakers, everyone involved in the movie is looking towards that end date. I sometimes wonder if they take the time to be aware of what their doing up to that date. Are they conscious / aware of what they are doing at that exact moment, or are they solely trying to complete these tasks to build toward something else?

When I saw the billboard, I immediately started thinking about June 13, a day that is really only significant because of The Hulk, a day that frankly is quite far in the future. Entranced by this thought, I didn't register anything else happening on the road. The next thing I knew, I was home. I had missed out on my entire 405 experience.

Writing this first post, I was nervous how it would come out, on what note I would end it on. Hell, I didn't even know what I was going to fuckin' write about. But I wrote. I just wrote, and here's what came out. In a way, a film's marketing campaign is its own movie. The trailers for Spiderman 3 made the film feel like it was going to be epic and kickass, but the actual movie broke my heart. Don't even get me started on Spiderman 3 right now. In my own selective attention, I choose to forget how bad the movie was and try to remember how sweet the trailer was. The trailer was part of the journey towards the final destination of seeing the movie--the means was more enjoyable than the ends. So, for a second, let's forget about the end and enjoy the means. Let's forget about the destination, for just a minute, and enjoy the journey. Sometimes, it may not be the most epic journey ever, but it's still part of life.

Journeys: From the Beginning to the End
1. Genesis by Justice
2. Bermuda Highway by My Morning Jacket
3. Have Love Will Travel by The Blue Van
4. Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) by Journey
5. Across The Sea by Weezer
6. Road Trippin' by The Red Hot Chili Peppers
7. Easy Rider by Iron Butterfly
8. Far Behind by Eddie Vedder
9. The Middle by Jimmy Eat World
10. Dead End Street by The Kinks
11. Crossroads by Cream
12. Destination Overdrive by Chromeo
13. Around The World by Daft Punk (or Wyclef Jean remix)
14. The Beginning of the End by Guster
15. The Distance by Cake
16. Forever Begins by Common
17. The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles
18. The End by The Doors