Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Long-Distance Relationship

Bottle from Kirsten Lepore on Vimeo.


By one of my my favorite stop-motion directors, Kirsten Lepore (she did "Sweet Dreams" too, I'll post it sometime).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A January Review of The Decemberists' New Album

The Decemberists have parred down their style and got back to their roots in their new album, The King Is Dead and I'm liking some but not all of it. The group embraces a more down-home, americana approach that is almost anachronistic for its time—with no point of reference, it would be difficult to discern whether the songs heralded from yesteryear's recordings of appalacian folk, the 1970s movement, or today's freak folk scene.
I predict that "Don't Carry It All" and "Calamity Song" (a tribute to R.E.M. that doesn't remind us of "Talks about Passion" at all...nope) will garner the most itunes downloads but I personally enjoyed "January Hymn" for its honest, simple melodies. Those who, like me, abhor country music should be warned though, the slower songs have more twang than you might like and toe the line between folk and folk country; "Dear Avery" especially starts out well but then crosses over into what I deem unlistenable territory (thanks to the introduction of the Dobro a minute or so in).

All in all, I don't think The Decemberists can compete with the best out there in freak folk right now—I'm thinking Mumford & Sons (if you haven't heard them yet, look them up, they're divine)—but fans probably won't be too disappointed by the latest offering.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Everyday Ordinary

I threw together this graphic because I loved this quote from Woolf, a woman who saw the extraordinary in the most banal of objects and circumstances.

I stumbled upon these photos of what someone did with chain link fences and I wondered what that person had to do to get permission to alter the fences, how much work went into them, was that person hansomely paid? Or did he or she do it for peanuts just to beautify something plain? Regardless, how much time went into these? I don't know the origin or the story behind these but I sort of prefer it that way. It's enough to see that someone took something prohibitive and harsh and wove it into inviting, delicate lace.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Black Swan—Movie Review

I wasn't going to go see this movie because I heard it was a little naughty (which it is) but it was getting so many award nods that I couldn't resist the pull of feathers, tulle, and promising performances. I wasn't disappointed.

The lovely Leslie Davila and I went last night. We dressed up for each other, each got red slushies, and went to the ballerina movie—a consummate girl's night out.

The movie begins much like any ballet movie; Nina (Natalie Portman) wakes up in a pretty pink nightgown, surrounded herself with her stuffed animal collection, and is sing-songed awake by her overly affectionate though somewhat unbalanced mother. Nina buzzes with anticipation knowing that auditions for Swan Lake are coming soon pending the retirement of the prima ballerina, Beth (played well by Winona Ryder). Here's my first spoiler—Beth retires and Nina gets the part (shocking, I know).

That her technique is impeccable and she embodies the virginal, delicate white swan, the director knows; his concern is that Nina won't be able to play the sensual, powerful black swan too.

If you don't know the story of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, it's about a princess, Odette who gets turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer. One day, Prince Siegfried goes hunting at dusk, sees and takes aim at a lovely white swan for his collection when the swan transforms into a beautiful woman. He learns that until she receives a promise of love from a virgin prince she will ever remain a swan by day and woman by night. The prince falls in love with Odette but by a trick of the evil sorcerer he is seduced and accidentally proposes to another woman at a party (the black swan in human form). Odette, devastated, kills herself and the prince feeling so regretful follows her so they can be reunited in death.

Nina's professional training to become the black swan becomes a destructive transformation of herself: her mommy issues, pressure for perfection, and, most prevalently, her sexuality.

All in all, the film is visually stunning, the plot edgy, and Portman's performance is perfectly en pointe. One can see that she has shed blood, sweat, and tears to become a dancer for this film (one entire year of training) and her acting gave me goosebumps. I will also submit that this movie has the feel of a classic film—it was the subtle suspense that carefully avoided cheesiness and the perfectly packaged storyline.
Things you should know before you see this film:
1) It's naughty—there's about every variety of sexuality in this film but I strongly feel that it was necessary to tell the story
2) It's graphic—dancers already have enough cracks, snaps, and bloodied feet but this film takes it to the enth degree by adding an element of fantasy and horror, and
3) If you're easily spooked, you might want to rent or skip this movie altogether.

All that said, if you think you'll like this movie at all then definitely see it in the theater. Natalie Portman shimmers, the costumes wow, and I just don't think a television will give the same feeling of there being a stage before you as the big screen will.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Three A.M. Resolutions

Happy 2011, all! I am still up on New Year's Day and already breaking would-be resolutions as I sample a couple of the delicious but unhealthy hors d'oeuvres left over from my party and shirk the responsibility of cleaning up and opting, rather, to blog. I was and remain unsure of whether to share a short list of resolutions on the blog because 1) really, who cares other than me and 2) is this really how I wish to start my 2011 blogging—oversharing while overtired?

However, I become most inspired when reading others' New Year's resolutions—even if the resolution is awful or not applicable, it will, more often than not, remind me of something that would be relevant to me and lead me to a new idea. So here's to sharing ideas if for no better reason than inspiring even more impressive ones in the minds of others. Here's only a snapshot of my very long list of resolutions (in absolutely no discernible order):
—I already signed up for a 10k race in June, I know that I could get through it now by walking (possibly crawling at the end) but I resolve to train so I can perform at the race, not just survive it.
—To be more thoughtful of friends and family: go play bridge with my grandpa, write letters to my West coasters, beat deadlines at work to make my colleague's jobs easier, find more ways to show my parents and brother I appreciate them
—To pursue graphic design with more intention and focus this year
—Finally finish the One-Year Bible (I'm still stuck in May)
—To read 40 books this year
—Go to the library more
—Take vitamins every night before I go to bed
—Put more money away in savings, set and adhere to stricter budgets, and tithe faithfully
—Buy one book of stamps every two months and send enough mail so I have to repeat this six times this year
—Make do with less; do a spring clean very early to start the year fresh
—Find and pursue at least one type of volunteerism/charity
—I have a really great guy in my life for the first time so I would like to learn what I can do to make him happy, support him, and be the kind of woman he is proud to have by his side
—Practice things I'm only so-so at: piano, tango, salsa, baking bread, photography, etc.
—Travel more this year
—Try 11 new things in 2011 and do much more exploring in general
—Consider leading or joining a Bible study again
—Become more articulate and stop speaking in hyperbole as often as I do
—Make my incentives at work and put earnings directly into savings
—Practice Spanish much more this year
—Spend less time in front of screens (TV and computer)
—Make my blog more dynamic, beneficial for others, inspirational, and with more original photography

There are many more but for now, these will have to do. Have a wonderful beginning of 2011 and make this your best year ever.

My all-time favorite rendition of Auld Lang Syne (skip the video, I just posted so you can hear the song):