Friday, September 20, 2013

It's a good year for feeling...

It is rare that in one year I get an opportunity to hear one song that alters the way I want to listen to music. This year has been special because I got two. 

The first was a full album from Queens of the Stone Age. This band has only had one sole member in the last 10 years and the rotating door of artists coming and going has never altered the bands ability to make music. I think the reason why is their intrepid leader Josh Homme and his ability to just think great music into existence. I'm sure it is more complicated than that but this album was so organic and so much a part of my listening behavior that I felt like he had pulled thoughts from my brain. The all-star on the album was the title track "The Vampyre of Time and Memory". Josh starts with a piano, a somber sad voice and a want to have God come take him home. The pure feeling and emotion dripping off the track just pours over me like a warm blanket on a rainy day. It's fantastic and relaxing and depressing in the best kind of way. 

The second is a single song just released by a band I have fallen away from. Pearl Jam has been a trial for me over the last 5 years as I've aged and I felt like the music didn't age with me. I found myself pulling away from a band I've followed pretty aggressively since I was 16 years old. It was a sad split but one that I had thought I had made my peace with. Until tonight. "Sirens" is the name of the song and I can't actually describe it. The song is like seeing an old friend that I thought had moved away. The lyrics are so rich and poignant in the conversation I've had with myself about the fragility of life and how grateful I am to have someone to share my life with. It pushes on the bruise of anxiety in my head about how this can all change at a moment's notice and that I need to hold on to these small moments where life is good. I am grateful that we are safe and together. I am blessed to have people who wants to fight up the side of the hill with me and hold me up when I can't stand anymore on my own. 

"I studied your face, the fear goes away, the fear goes away, the fear goes away."

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rico Suave...

Though I'm an avid technologist, some days the USB link in my car makes me consider driving a buggy to work and attaching toggles to all my shirts. 

Today it worked to my advantage. I was forced against my not very strong will to listen to the radio. I don't listen to the radio unless I'm in my wife's truck and then it's whatever is on and usually for 10 minutes tops. If there is a chance I'll be in there longer, I plug in my phone and put on a playlist. 

I was driving south and the link for the USB wouldn't turn on so I snapped on the radio and started to do the scan through the local stations in LA. I haven't done much radio listening int the last 10 years because ITunes and Shazam have made it so easy to find out what you are listening to without much effort. It reminded me of a time when finding a song in the music store or on the radio was a quest for glory and riches. 

There were two phases in this process. The first was hearing this song/album/artist in a local grocery store, shopping mall or school dance. You would ask around to the sage's who may know what or who sang it and get 2-4 educated opinions. 

You would then hook into the local radio and hope for the pure luck that was a replay. Most likely the song was replayed 100 times between 8:15 am and 2:40 pm while school was in session. The few times you tried to listen during school hours equaled you getting your Walkman taken away. You eventually quit going down this path. 

If you caught it on the radio, you would find space on the one cassette you owned and hope for a perfect shot to record without the DJ going on about some truck show at the Salt Palace this weekend. 

Once that failed, you returned to the mall and the music store to wander the aisles looking for tapes or CD's of the guesses your local school sage had opinions on and you started spending hard earned allowance, or later job money on albums you didn't need and weren't sure contained what you wanted. Desperation had set in and it created dangerous purchasing behavior. You bought and if you were lucky, you found it within 4 albums. The problem with this working is you continued using it as a template for 10 years after the average album purchase was closer to 8, not 4. You spent thousands of dollars you really shouldn't have in the quest. 

Now I've read over this process and the general tone of this blog so far would communicate that I hated this process. It is completely opposite.  I have found so much good music from this search that I sometimes forgot what I was looking for. Obviously the process is much more simple now but I miss the days of the quest. I still spend as much random money on music but now my purchases don't have much value because it was just so easy. The lack of the mission to find the song has cheapens the experience so I'm always looking for something to make it rich again. That in itself has given me back some of the thrill of the hunt. 

And music library looks fine!

PS...I never did buy the Gerardo album that contained Rico Suave that I heard in 7th grade. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Willow taught me how to be an adult and possibly a parent...

I ordered the new Blu-Ray of Willow over 3 months ago and honestly had forgotten about it. It was January and I didn't  want to think about March so I put it on the back-burner until it arrived the day after I came home from Hawaii. 

I can give 5 examples of how this movie shaped my thinking as an adult. I'm going to share those today. 

1. Your wife is almost always right. She see's things to the heart and knows better than you the outcome.  There is an early scene in Willow where Kya, Willow's wife, grabs the baby from the river and brings her into their home. It's not a huge scene but speaks volume when Willow states" Under no circumstance is anyone to fall in love with this baby!" She know long before Willow that the things that need to be protected should be and takes action. Your wife knows...just follow along. 

2. Kids have a sense of who can protect them. When the fairies kidnap Willow and profess to the fact that Willow should protect the baby, it speaks to the fact that children know who will fight the hardest to protect them. They know who will allow them to grow the most and they invest in that person so they can be allowed to. 

3. Churlish rogues have heart and want to share them with somebody. Madmartigan is a rogue and a devil but has a good heart. Again, kids know the hearts of most people. They see the good when everyone else is writing them off due to cultural norms. There is no one who will give you a bigger chance to change than a kid who believes in you. 

4. Sometime when you are down, the person whom you least suspect will inspire you to keep on. When Marmartigan see's Willow after losing Alora Dannon, he says a couple of magical words. "Can you ride Willow? Let's ride.". Let's  not give up. Let's go after this thing that has made your life something bigger. Let me help you. Let me drive you to remember what you started this for. 

5. Go after something even when you know it may kick your ass. When Madmartigan see's Aric die after facing Kale, his good sense tells him to run away. Sometimes you have to commit to kicking something's ass even though you are going to bleed and hurt. The fight in some senses is more important than the victory. There are going to be things that make you kneel. The most important thing is to get back up and get back into trying to beat it's ass. Use that failure to make success. 

At the end of the day, this movie was important enough that I named one of the most important things in my life after a character in this movie. I've never regretted it. I never will. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Musical Blanket

I've found that as I get older I am surprised in what things interest me. I think it is that as I get older I realize that the things of the past that I was so enamored and passionate for are not going to give me a place in the pantheon of humanity. I get frustrated that I do not have the drive to discover new music or new things. This recipe for frustration drives me back to the arms of the comfortable music I grew up with as a child, a teen and a young man trying to define what made me.

This is a list of five songs that I listen to in order to remind me what I am made of and what made me have feelings. I'd call this the list of what makes me serious but still drain the frustration out of my mind and heart during the thickest times of anxiety. Most of them are sad. Some are new discoveries that slammed their way into the list due to an immediate recognition of feeling of something that should have been with me sooner.

1. Last Flowers to the Hospital/Radiohead: I know what this song is about and that is not what it means to me. Inside of this song are a set of words that bring me solace every time I hear them. Still. After five years of listening to this song over and over again I still get chills and relief for hours after one play. The emotion it defines is a ache after a heavy day of interpersonal torture. The exhaustion just sets in and you know you can rest.

2.  Stratford-on-Guy/Liz Phair: This is the second to last song on an album I still to this day think is Phair's best work. She was still experimenting with what her voice and a brash guitar could bring to the listener. It was exciting and fearless with no pretense. Her honest vocalizing in a non-diva way was what really sold this song for me. She was singing for no one but herself and we were all just lucky to be around to hear it. It's the epitome of youthful concern and I miss that emotion sometimes. This song reminds me.

3.  Indifference/Pearl Jam: Apathy. There is nothing else so infuriating and freeing as just not giving a shit. I listened to this song 500 times over the last 19 years. It really only made sense to me 18 months ago after a horrible day of self doubt and self loathing. Vedder's voice scratched over the speakers as I ground my way up the 405 to home. All of sudden like a light going off I just gave up giving a shit. I realized that whatever had plagued me that day and the 6 months previous was the worthless sniveling of a man who thought someone should care. The freedom of letting things go is refreshing and not one I often find most days. When I do, this song usually accompanies it.

4. Possession/Sarah McLachlan: The version of the song I am referencing is the vocal and piano version following Fumbling Toward Ecstasy. I found this in high school when I fancied myself a lover of female artists. This is strictly nostalgia. It's one of the few songs that I hear by her these days that don't make me want to go adopt a battered pet.

5. Maggie May/ Rod Stewart: The song just makes me happy. It reminds me of the days when I first met Katie. I'm a broody asshole but when I am happy it is because of her. This song reminds me that all musicians are not tortured artists and pure honest emotion can come from happiness not just tragedy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Top 5 Entertainment Realizations

These are my top 5 entertainment realizations.

  1. I missed a lot of music by believing myself to be a supporter of the counter-culture of popular music. I have been pretty high strung over my whole life and my musical tastes are not different. I've always managed my outside view of music based upon liking something because no one else did. Inside I was waiting for it to make sense but God forbid I listen to something because of the way it sounded regardless of who made it. I can only blame this on myself but there are outside influences in this one. I will never love/hate/obsess over a band/artist as much as some of the superfans. I cannot make them happy with my fake devotion therefore I'm going to quit trying to. At the same time, I still don't like some artists. Namely Coldplay and Death Cab for Cutie. 
  2. I've spent too much of my music-loving life hating artists because of their world view. My best example of this is U2. After watching him be a pompous ass for so many years, I refused to listen to anything they did. I quit listening at Joshua Tree. I am dumb. 
  3. There is still good music currently being made. Just because I don't enjoy listening to it doesn't mean it's not good. It's just not something I choose to listen to. Look around some good music blogs and you'll find something that you can love again. It will most likely not be minted in the same year you graduated high school. It's okay to love new things. 
  4. I still don't like feel good movies of the year. October Sky is something I just can't stomach. There has to be some kind of tragedy for a movie to make me feel good. Queue Shawshank Redemption. That being said, I do like the anti-hero movie. I have a type. Unbreakable is the greatest movie to me due to the fact that it's still a super-hero movie with some level of reality tied to it. I can suspend my disbelief of superpowers and mutations but struggle to love the every-man of October Sky making a rocket and not becoming a coal miner. 
  5. I have read less than I ever have in my life and I am more dumb due to it. I quit reading books about the time I moved to LA. I think it is because it doesn't calm me down enough and my brain still works. I also find myself using word likes gooder and more better because of it. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Why Tom Hanks is successful

I have come to the conclusion that Tom Hanks may be one of the coolest people of the last 60 years.

This was a suspicion that I've had for a lot of years after watching most of his movies and a lot of his TV shows. I am aware that he is an actor and he could be acting so his movies and TV shows may not show his just general good human nature.

I drove up to Sunnyvale for an appointment today and during that time I had the opportunity to listen to a podcast where he was being interviewed. The podcast was Nerdist and Chris Hardwick had made a pretty clever plea to get him to the show around antique typewriters. The story is worth checking out on Nerdist if you get a chance to read it. The point being that he was on the show of a web series that doesn't garner any kind of ratings or popularity outside of the nerd community. During his time on the show, he was funny and engaging. He shared stories of his time during Bosom Buddies and his career. And by shared he wasn't spewing a bunch of trite crap meant to make him look good. He just talked. Similar to the way we all talk every day.

Tom Hanks is successful because he is someone we'd all like to hang out with. He is a normal guy who works hard and has a personality that he shares with everyone.

Now why does that make him successful?

How often have you went to see a play or a concert because someone you know was in the band or cast? I know that I go to something like this 6 or 7 times a year just so I can support the person. Tom Hanks is that guy we all go see in a movie because we want to support him. The main difference is that everything  he makes is pretty good. We all want to know Tom Hanks and we go to support him because he seems like a buddy we'd like to hang out with.

There are actors that we'd all like to hang out with but I feel like with Tom Hanks there is some kind of larger chance that it might actually happen. He is a super nice guy who lives in California that I hope someday I'll be in the same Starbucks as him and who'll automatically strike up a conversation with me because I look super interesting to talk to and he is genuinely interested in what I have to say and...oh sorry. I was caught in a monologue.

End of post. Tom Hanks is the bomb. I'd like to drink coffee with him. Go see his movies and enjoy all that is Hanks.