Amoeblog

(In which Job & Corey celebrate #3.)

Posted by Job O Brother, January 11, 2010 12:38pm | Post a Comment
Reading sentences is weird, isn’t it? Just the way you’re sitting at your computer right now, scanning these lines of organized scribbles and, as a result, you’re hearing these words in your head – words that I typed on my computer sometime in your past.

All of which is pretty intimate, don’t you think? I mean, you’re trusting me enough to allow whatever I decided to write to enter into your consciousness via language, not necessarily knowing what I’m going to type. I mean, what if I wrote this sentence:

We oftentimes remove the hamster’s eyes and replace them with fresh-churned butter, which allows them to see less and makes their faces smell vaguely of movie theatre concession stands.
First of all, there’s a lot of things about that sentence that're willyish, and what if you’re not in the mood to deal with it? But now you’ve read it and there’s no going back. It’s recorded in your mind forever. Even if you someday forget it (which is almost certainly advisable), it will be catalogued somewhere, there in the delicious depths of your awesome brain.
Anyway, the boyfriend and I just celebrated our third anniversary yesterday. It was swell! The cat and I allowed him to sleep-in until noon, while we spent time organizing my music library and watching birds be weird.


The boyfriend is, I think, deeply troubled by my hobby of collecting music. When I enthusiastically talk about it, I can tell there’s a part of him that’s waiting for my cataloguing of Les Baxter’s compositions to result in my forgetting to eat, for my delight in finding some obscure theatre company’s recording of The Rocky Horror Show to degrade into a lack of personal hygiene, or for my diligent organization of Hüsker Dü tracks into thematic playlists to send me on a downward spiral that will end in my writing a final, frantic Amoeblog post, donning my treasured hoodie, and locking myself into our parking garage for an Anne Sexton-style road trip to oblivion. (Which would sooo never happen. Sylvia Plath all the way! That way, as I slowly succumbed to death from poisoning, I’d be able to enjoy the scent of fresh-baked cookies! Yay!!!)

Suicide is better with a warm batch of Toll House. It just is.



The boyfriend and I celebrated our anniversary by driving around Los Angeles looking for a comfy chair for him. I have decided that he needs a nook – a place in our home that is intended for him to nestle, to cuddle with a book or diary for long hours, or to nap in after a hearty meal of Rôties au jus de cuisson et la sauce à la menthe compliquée moelle stupide lapin.

Ironically, as we drove around looking for the chair, he enjoyed listening to some of the playlists he worries about me making. In particular, a sort-of New Wave playlist which features things like:












…All of which sounds right well when roving for recliners. And we found one! An immense, white chair – roughly the size of my last apartment – and upholstered in recycled, Italian leather. It’s certain to be the cat’s new, favorite chew-toy.

Later in the evening, the boyfriend and I cuddled and watched an animation double feature: 9, directed by Shane Acker, and Fantastic Mr. Fox, directed by Wes Anderson.

My Ma taught me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all, so let me say how much I loved Fantastic Mr. Fox, and leave it at that. (Come to think of it, my Ma also taught me that if you see a summer’s rainbow while you’re walking on grass it means your baby will be born with freckles, but if it’s autumn, your baby will be born with a snaggletooth and desire to overthrow the government in lieu of a militarized ochlocracy – which may be why I never make babies or go outside in November.)


My new, celebrity crush

Incidentally, Fantastic Mr. Fox has not yet been released on DVD. The boyfriend and I were able to watch it in the comfort of our own home because… um… we have… we know this guy who… err… because sometimes there’s things that happen and as a result there’s stuff, okay? But when it is available on DVD and Blu-ray, Amoeba Music will have it and, if you haven’t yet seen it, do, because it’s almost as delightful as the look in your eyes when you’re licking butter from a hamster’s skull.

I’m really sorry I wrote that. Obviously I can’t be trusted with these sentences. I’ll stop soon.

It was a romantic day for me and my boyfriend. I’ll end this blog with a recording of “our” song, Cole Porter’s ballad, Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye, as performed by Nina Simone.

Goodbye!

Here, There, and Everywhere: It's Beatles Day

Posted by Kells, September 9, 2009 09:58am | Post a Comment

So, it's Beatles Day, big deal. No, really, it's a big deal! Think about it, what other band has earned their very own special day of celebration? That's right, no other band, because like it or not the Beatles are, have been and probably forever will be just that special. I cannot speak personally about any particular Beatles revelation in my early life, the best I can do being that in my formative years I remember reading interviews with guys from the bands I liked in magazines like Rip and Metal Edge where they'd always, always cite the Beatles as a major musical influence right along side bands like the New York Dolls, Deep Purple and Uriah Heap. I took note, but skipped the breakthrough introductory listen --- my excuse being that Mötley Crüe's version of "Helter Skelter" was enough Beatles for me.

It wasn't until the late 1990's that I finally got the message via Revolver. I listened to it repeatedly for, well, how do you measure time when you've got a new favorite record on repeat? I felt like I finally understood why that "Fab Four" band meant so much to so many and I liken the feeling to recognizing blind love for something after having lived so long in its shadow. I fell for them Beatles pretty hard, but I also kept it a secret. I mean, how would you break your fledgeling Beatles romance to a jaded herd of veteran music-retailer colleagues and still expect to be included in all their future reindeer games? My secret was safe, but one of my most precious Beatles moments was yet to come.

Fast forward to a humid summer night during the mid-oughts and a quaint little English pub I visited with some old friends and a few new faces while out on the town in merry olde Osaka, Japan. The Cavern Club, located in Osaka's very entertaining Umeda neighborhood, is a Tudor-style establishment imported brick by brick from old Britannia herself and features live Beatles cover bands every night and has been doing so, with ever so much attention to detail (haircuts and matching costumes, people!), for over twenty years. The deal is this: you pay a cover that includes a drink or two and then you sit back, relax and get your nostalgia on. If you feel so inclined, use one of the song request forms at your table to choose a song, fill in your name and where you're from, then give it to the waitstaff --- they pass it on to the band and, as the forms are blank, please feel free to request any Beatles song you wish!

I wasted no time in filling out my form, requesting my all time favorite Beatles song, "I'm Only Sleeping." I remember thinking that they might not play it and duly prepared myself for a bit of disappointment. I recalled those many times I spent searching for that title among the pages of Beatles songs listed in karaoke boxes, never once seeing it printed on the page as a possible choice. Besides, though the band had not listed a selection to choose from, how could they know every song in the Beatles catalogue? How could they be ready to get down and jam on any and every random "yes, please!" that comes their way? I'm glad I got all worked up thinking about it because when the band slammed, or I should say eased, into my request minutes after I turned it in I was floored by the quality of the performance. They played superbly with faces that shone with satisfaction for the music they made even though it wasn't their own. And do you know what? They even worked in that crazy backwards guitar part that happens in the middle of the song without any hint of force or awkwardness. And to top it all off, they mentioned me after the song and seemed tickled that my request came all the way from San Francisco. I was simply pleased they could read my Japanese. Aside from such lasting memories as bonding with friends over an a cappella rendition of "Strawberry Fields Forever" in the back of a New York City cab to eavesdropping on a hilarious, long-winded argument between two people at Amoeba over whether or not it is possible to reduce the White Album from two discs to one and still retain the overall quality of the whole recording, the fondness I carry for that strange and enjoyable night at the Cavern Club in Osaka makes it my number one Beatles-related experience. 

Here is a sampling of some live at the Cavern Club clips, but please do look this special place up if you're ever in Osaka (or in Tokyo's chic Roppongi district --- they have a second location there too) because, there, every day is Beatles Day. 







Penderecki's Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima

Posted by Whitmore, August 6, 2009 08:15am | Post a Comment

Taking third prize at the prestigious Grzegorz Fitelberg Composers' Competition in 1960, Krzysztof Penderecki burst onto the international scene with Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, scored for 52 string instruments. One of the most harrowing pieces of music ever conceived, Threnody is unforgiving and brutal, horrifying and captivating, solemn and catastrophic.
 
Its atmospheric dissonance engulfs the listener with tone clusters that are piercing and shrieking at an orchestra’s highest register. Originally entitled 8'37”, Threnody’s score is unorthodox and mostly symbol-based, directing the musicians to play at various vague points on their instruments or to focus on textural effects and extended techniques, like playing on the wrong side of the bridge or slapping the instrument percussively. The piece includes an invisible canon in 36 voices and an overall musical texture that is more important than any individual note. Penderecki sought to heighten the dissonant element of the piece by composing in quarter tones -- hypertonality -- creating a greater reaching elegiac mood than could be found in traditional tonality.

Retribution 叫 sakebi (2006) dir. by 黒沢 清 Kurosawa Kiyoshi -- Touching From a Distance

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 2, 2008 09:33pm | Post a Comment
 

A grizzled police detective named Yoshioka investigates a murder in a muddy waterfront in Tokyo. The victim, although drowned in a puddle, has lungs full of saltwater. As Yoshioka investigates, all of the clues all seem to point to the him.  In the process, he grows more unhinged and defensive whilst troublingly remaining unable to write himself off as a suspect. His violent, murky memories seem to implicate him as well, and he suffers from insomnia and possible hallucinations.


Soon afterward, more killings occur with the same under similar circumstances. Yet they're easily explained and, in doing so, fail to exonerate Yoshioka in the first case. Kurosawa uses twists and turns not merely to keep the audience guessing about the true nature of the crime, but also to take the viewer somewhere unexpected-- into a feeling of loneliness and a state of guilt about ignoring the plight of others because of our collective societal embrace of insensitivity and deliberate emotional isolation.


Although the cover of Lion's Gate's DVD suggests that the film is merely another "scary hair" ghost story (and in some ways it is), it's mainly an atmospheric mood piece that has more in common with Antonioni and his ilk than horror directors. The title, Sakebi, literally means "Scream," which makes a lot more sense than the English translation of "Retribution," which seems chosen to mislead potential viewers into more false expectations. Anyone expecting horrifying vengeful ghosts will likely be disappointed by the glacially paced and contemplative film, although there are (mostly startling) moments of horror.


Tokyo, as depicted by Kurosawa, is a grimy, crumbling place unnerved by frequent earthquakes. Every wall is covered with peeling paint and the muddy ground is covered with dead weeds. The result is a grimly and beautifully stylized world where there is a vague suggestion of an apocalypse around the corner.

The film avoids close-ups for the most part, subtly emphasizing our feelings of isolation and confusion. It's hard to recognize characters at times, since they're usually filmed from a distance. And confusion over the identity of characters is a key element to the film's hallucinatory tone.

Although Retribution and most Japanese films like it are usually pinned with the J-Horror tag in the US, this one (and others) really belong more in the thriller genre, where suspense, psychological perturbations, and the supernatural are favored over terror, violence and gore. All in all, it's a satisfying and beautiful film that depresses while it dazzles.
Become a fan of Eric's Blog on Facebook!

The Latest News from the Wild Kingdom

Posted by Whitmore, May 1, 2008 08:41pm | Post a Comment


I seem to be writing animal obits on a regular basis, I have no idea why, but here is the latest news from the wild kingdom: Japan's oldest Giant Panda, Ling Ling, a favorite at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo, died last week. Ling Ling was 22 years and seven months old, the equivalent to about 70 in human years. According to the autopsy, he died of heart failure. He began losing his appetite and strength last August, but recent heart and kidney problems began to take their toll. Ling Ling died just one day after the zoo withdrew him from public view for veterinary treatment. He was the fifth-oldest known male panda in the world.

Born at China's Beijing Zoo in September, 1985, Ling Ling came to Tokyo in 1992 initially for breeding purposes. Since then he had become one of the most popular attractions at the Ueno Zoo. He was also the only Giant Panda at Tokyo’s largest zoo. In recent years Ling Ling traveled to Mexico three times in an effort to mate, but each attempt, like the attempts in Japan, were unsuccessful.

Over the last week Ling Ling's portrait has been displayed in his cage as visitors come to mourn, leaving bouquets, condolences and offerings of bamboo shoots. Giant pandas are one of the rarest and most endangered species on the planet. Only about 1,600 live in the wild in China, mostly on nature reserves in their native mountains and bamboo forests of the Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces.

BACK  <<  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  >>  NEXT