I was just watching Much Megahits. Probably because it seems everyone else is out and about. It's going to be a busy weekend, so I figured I should probably take the night easy.
I used to watch MuchMusic pretty regularly. But lately it's a lot more stupid "reality" shows like "Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica" and "Pimp My Ride!" rather than music videos. Also a lot of the videos they play suck. So I don't watch Much much.
Strangely they managed to play fourvidoes in a row a that I enjoyed.
1) The Arcade Fire - "Rebellion (Lies)" Embarassingly, I've never really heard them before. But I've heard lots of talk about them. Sometimes that's a bad thing. Ewan is going to hate me for this (especially as I write this while missing him and the boys play at Lydias, but I'll be there tomorrow night at Amigos), but I really enjoyed the song. I have to give any band that sucessfully integrates violin into the ensemble points. This is a nicely crafted, finely layered piece of pop music. I could actually see myself really enjoying them if the rest of the album is anything like this. If anyone has a copy they want to lend me, so I can see if I want to buy it, please do. You can watch the video and hear the song for free here.
2) Boy - "Up In This Town" On the flip side, Ewan spoke positively about these guys (I believe he had drinks with them after their show, IIRC) and he's absolutely right. This is a solid rock song, and the video is lots of fun too. Very simple, essentially just shots of them partying interspersed with pieces of them performing, but done in such a way that it's lots of fun and interesting to watch. It really captures the fun of rock and roll. It might not be innovative, but it's good. Sometimes the simple, classic ways are best.
3) Black Eyed Peas - "Don't Phunk With My Heart" This is the first single from the new album Monkey Business. It's enjoyable, and a little bit goofy. I'm actually a fan of these guys last two albums and am looking forward to hearing their new one.
4) Gwen Stefani - "Hollaback Girl" This is a damn catchy, fun single. Of course it's produced by the king of catchy hooks, Pharell Williams. And of course the radio edit takes out all the instances of the word "shit" in the song. Which is silly. Gwen has some fun with it in the video though, making "shocked" faces like she's offended. I enjoyed that.
It also comes back to my hesitancy to really embrace Firefly. I enjoy Joss Whedon's work, especially Buffy and Angel, but there's this desire to be "hip" that runs through a lot of his work that not many people can pull off. Take Smallville for instance, the WB's hip, young Superman show. I enjoy Smallville, and think it's one of the better TV shows on these days, but it has this "hipness" to it that kind of doesn't gel with me. I just don't see Superman as "hip." Firefly strikes me as an attempt to meld that kind of "hipness," the "O.C. factor" let's call it, with the aesthetics of Star Wars.
I'm actually glad that I don't think Lucas will do that. People will probably call the show lame and "out of touch" with what made the originals popular. I can't wait.
The paper I'm working on is about Volsunga saga, which is really the most fantastic, epic and amazing of the Germanic-Norse sagas, inspiring everything from Wagner's Ring Cycle to Tolkien's fantasy. Funny that this picture is by Alan Lee who is best known for illustrating Tolkien's world and doing designs for the Lord of the Rings films. Really, Volsunga saga should be to northern Europeans what The Illiad is to Greeks. But almost no one knows it. Sad.
The trailer for Joss Whedon's (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel) film, Serenity, a big screen story involving the concepts and characters from his short lived science fiction show Firefly, arrived on apple.com today. A lot of people on the internet that I know love this show, and so I was excited to take a look at the trailer. Really, it looks interesting, but not the groundbreaking piece of science fiction storytelling I was looking forward to seeing (especially the Han Solo-wanna-be captain). Perhaps this is unfair. I've only seen the trailer and pieces of the television show. And it does have Alan Tudyk. And the special effects look nifty, but it seems to me almost all recent science fiction shows have the same look. Blocky ships (nabbing Lucas's idea of a "used universe"), psuedo-futuristic clothing, and desert planets. The last science fiction film (non-Star Wars) that really made me say "WOW!" was Luc Besson's The 5th Element. That said, I enjoyed both Buffy and Angel. I'm really liking Whedon's Astonishing X-men run in the comics right now. But I don't think he's a sci fi god (he did write the script for Alien Resurrection unfortunately).
It seems whenever there is a new sci fi, action-adventure show people love to throw out the line "This is the one Star Wars fans have been waiting for." Sorry, that doesn't wash with me. I remember the tagline on the Titan A.E. DVD says that - which funny enough Joss Whedon also worked on the screenplay for that film as well - and I enjoyed Titan A.E. probably a lot more than most people, but sorry, it's just not Star Wars. Serenity isn't the film that Star Wars fans have been waiting for. That one's called Revenge of the Sith. And you know what, it's cool if you're not looking forward to it. You're just more of a generic sci fi adventure fan, and you may have moved past being a Star Wars fan. Whatever. Enjoy Serenity. But don't tell me that it's really "the new Star Wars."
So I'm feeling like it's finally summer. I'm all done my exams - though I do have one more pesky essay for Harris due on Thurs. - and I'm beginning to get all geared up for travel, etc. As I get older, I enjoy summer more and more. I think it has to do with the fact that when I was young, I didn't really have as many responsibilities, and so I could really enjoy winter (I liked hockey and playing in the snow). Now, I have university, work, tutoring, bills (not that they stop in summer...but they should) and the like, so summer offers some respite from the grind, even if it's not a complete break.
I'm on campus this morning, picking up papers, trying to figure out when we can arrange this library session for my English 113 tutorial, getting my art portfolio. I love campus in the spring and summer. There's not as many people on campus, and the trees are blossoming, the grass is green, the sun is hot and soon the Marquis Hall BBQ will be starting up. I've enjoyed taking Spring Session classes for the last two years and it's always a good way to spend my time. Taking only one class means that I don't feel as stressed out and I can actually enjoy the work. Bartley's American Lit class, which I took last year, ended up being one of my most enjoyable classes. This year I'll be working on campus in May and June, which means I can keep up my tradition of spending my spring mornings on campus, but I'll get paid to do it.
Another thing that's great about spring and summer is that I can actually spend more time outside. Danny and I hit the driving range the other day, and my swing hasn't deteriorated too much over the winter. Apparently Kevin is a golfer too (and a much better one than me, from what I can gather), so it looks like we'll definitely be playing some golf soon. And tennis, which I just got into last summer. It was all the rage. Good times to be had under the Victoria Bridge at the Rotary Park tennis courts. It's a real city, summertime feeling.
Last summer Ewan got me hooked on Ryan Adams. I listened to his albums all summer, and it sort of became a kind of anthem for my summer. I find myself wandering through the bowl on a sunny morning and listening to "Firecracker." It's a great song, and just feels like summer.
Now it's time to throw on a good Beach Boys album and chill out on the deck with a cold beer.
"I'm picking up good vibrations." - The Beach Boys
Weekends are murder to my blogging. That's the way it is. Sorry.
The biggest news is: I HAVE MY TICKETS FOR EPISODE III !!!!!! Apparently they went on sale on Sat. morning at 6 pm. I didn't know this until suppertime when I got home, and then I realized I needed more than I could be guarenteed, so I jumped in my car and raced (at probably unsafe speeds; "Now, this is podracing!") down to the theatre and bought up 8 tickets. The girls there probably thought I was funny, but I don't care. I can now rest in peace knowing that I have my tickets. I have them in a safe place, next to my plane tickets for Rome and my passport. It's that important.
Also, I wrote my last undergraduate final on Friday. It's kind of exciting to think that I've almost got my degree. Also, kind of surreal. Wow.
Stupid but funny. Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are pretty much always funny. Wedding season is approaching in real life. You know you're growing up when you start going to the weddings of your friends and schoolmates rather than the friends of your parents.
As I do some last minute preparations for my exam this afternoon, I checked out a couple of the new singles that were released on iTunes today from two of my favourite bands. Of course, for a mere $0.99 I had to grab them. It's a bright spot in what is otherwise a day full of work and drudgery.
Firstly, the new single from The White Stripes, "Blue Orchid." It's got a driving guitar riff that pushes the song forward, not unlike "Seven Nation Army," but faster tempo and more variation. Jack's voice sounds a little bit more filtered, different than it's usual raw feel. Nonetheless, I like it and it bodes well for the upcoming album Get Behind Me Satan. Something a little bit new without throwing out all the good stuff.
Second, Coldplay, "Speed of Sound" is definitely not a huge leap forward, and far less different from the status quo than the Stripes track. But sometime I think that innovation is overrated. The guys know what they're good at and do it well. The single rests on the simple piano progression and Chris Martin's vocals carrying the story. The more I listen to it, I think this could be a good U2 track actually. Reminiscent of "City of Blinding Lights" off of Atomic Bomb, with the piano, the cymbal heavy drumming and "Edge-like" guitar. That's not a bad thing though, as I've always felt that Coldplay has a lot of similarities to U2. I'm looking forward to the new album.
So it appears that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a German, has been elected as Pope Benedict XVI. Interesting choice, a European, a social conservative - though those who thought there was going to be a liberal pope were fooling themselves, and really Ratzinger, while you may disagree with him, he was one of John Paul II's best friends and confidentes, and I doubt he seeks to turn things back so much as keep the rudder steady where it is.
I just find the idea of a German pontiff amusing. I am half-German - though I have a Swedish name, my mother's side is solidly German, from Coburg area in Nothern Bayern (or Bavaria as they insist on calling it over here) - and so I feel a little bit of loyalty to my people but still feel ok with poking fun at them. I've also travelled to German three times, and understand the language to a limited capacity (German 217 is the highest level class I took).
Well, the reason I think it's funny is that Dean Ziegler and I were just commenting yesterday how being German you sometimes felt like "Geez, try to take over the world twice and you're forced to pay forever." Then Dean noted that really, Germany has been trying one more time, with the EU (the European Union, not the English Undergrads...though maybe them too) to take over Europe, and this time they are succeeding. How? Through economic victory. Europe needs them.
It seems now they've got the ear of the Church too. I guess it just goes to show that war is in vain. If you really want to win, choose money and religion.
One of the great things about community owned, non-profit theatres like the Broadway is opportunity to see classic films on the big screen - granted their screen isn't huge, and we're not talking DTS sound here, but it accurately captures what it would have been like to see these films back when they originally came out. I'd love for them to show some Hitchcock films sometime. However, last night I got to see a Fellini film in a theatre setting.
La Dolce Vita (1960), translated, means "The Sweet Life" apparently. Fellini is considered the greatest Italian director of all time, and even if one doesn't like him, this film was cutting edge for its day, and not something I could see ever being done today.
Marcello (played by Marcello Mastroianni who also starred in Fellini's 8½) is a playboy, celebrity journalist who gets caught up in living "the sweet life" among the movie stars and millionaires of Rome. Night after night; a different party, a different girl. Sooner or later, that kind of life takes its toll. Marcello's fiancé is suicidal. His own values are quickly diminishing into nothing more than "I can't be bored." Over the course of the 3-hour film - yep it's 3-hours, but it's not about battles or "epic" events - I found myself more and more drawn into the film. I felt like I'd been out and about with Marcello so long, that I was forgetting myself. It's a serious film, with some very funny moments and one that I definitely won't forget.
There are a number of elements that I found particularily interesting. One was the opening of a helicoptor carrying a statue of Jesus over Rome. Not only is it an intriguing visual, but also reminded me that in 3 weeks I'll be going to the city. The film got me more excited for that. Another had to do with a pair of children who claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary, and the media circus that gets created around them. The fact that the film takes place in Rome highlighted the way that our current media has turned something religious and sacred - the death of Pope John Paul II for example - and turned it into and "infotainment" event. I think the film is prescient in criticising the narcissistic values of the world media. Marcello's photographer companion is even named "Paparazzo," and even in 1960 we can see how the media and the paparazzi plague the wealthy and the famous.
It's a film that one can enjoy, purely on a very visceral basis. Like Marcello, we can get caught up in the "sweet life." However, this is a film about exsistential crisis, and if one wants to engage it on that higher level, one can. For me, that's part of what makes a film truly great. La Dolce Vita is, I think, a great film.
Yeah, I know. I haven't blogged much lately. But I'm studying for my English 413 exam right now - making notes on all the questions, 3 of which will be answered in the exam tomorrow. The nice thing is that I can bring in up to nine pages of notes (yeah, right, like that's going to happen with me. I might write 9 pages total in the exam, let alone notes). Still, the call of procastination is strong (damn you MSN).
One of the weird things I've been doing recently is re-reading old blog posts. I've been blogging since June 2004, which means the one year anniversary of The Terminal Philosopher is coming up soon (heck, I didn't think I'd be doing it this long, so I'm sort of pround in a weird way). Ewan has been blogging since then too. It's interesting to go back and read the posts from last summer. It seems like so long ago. So much was different. Then reading the fall posts, when the blogger community started to grow and expand. It is a time capsule of sorts. I'm thinking I may need to find some way to back all these pages up for posterity (incase Google doesn't do it for me).
Also, I love Beck. I'm now listening to Sea Change over and over again. So good. And if you don't have it, grab his newest album Guero. It's excellent.
Arrrested Develpment, The Office and the state of television
Most of you have heard me rant about the state of television and how it is an inherrantly inferior medium to film. TV hasn't really interested me in a long time. I don't like almost any of the shows that are on these days. And really, my life is better for it. I watch more movies, read more books and listen to more music. Still, there are some things that TV does well, though few and far between. Arrested Development is one of those things.
The show chronicles the exploits of the Bluth family and their change in fortunes after the patriarch of the family goes to prison (and then subsequently sneaks out and lives in the attic without anyone but his son Michael knowing). It's centred around Michael (Jason Bateman) who is the only normal member of the family and stuck with trying to deal with his crazy mother, his egomaniac older brother, his pathetic younger brother, his greedy sister, her ambiguously gay husband (played with gusto by none other than one of my favourites, David Cross), his uptight son, and his niece. Along the way they meet all kinds of crazy people, guest starring people as diverse as Liza Minnelli, Alan Tudyk, or Zach Braff. And most importantly is the seemingly omniscient narration by series producer Ron Howard. The show is unique, funny, and the characters all have their own little bits that make them hilarious and play nicely off of each other.
I guess comedy is really the way to go with television. I've always felt the most affinity for comedy television, be it The Simpsons, Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Monty Python, SNL, Conan O'Brien, Mr. Show; all are favourites. I think it works well. The Office has confirmed my suspiscions.
Ewan brought it over this evening, and I was sure I was going to like it. Even though I only got to see two episodes, Ricky Gervais is amazing as David Brent. This guy is hilarious. He has it all down, including the little ticks like playing with his tie, and a need to be the centre of attention. He's a fully realized character, but hilarious. Martin Freeman plays Tim, the character we relate to. He's going to make a fine Arthur Dent in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Lucy Davis (Shaun of the Dead) plays the office secretary and then there's Gareth the creepy sychophant to boss David Brent. Great way to start a series, and I can't wait to see the rest.
Either way, both of these shows show (nice little verb, noun repetition there) that television can still produce content that is of quality and not just mindless reality shows. So there's my ultimatum to the TV studios. I know that it can be done. No more excuses. I want quality entertaintment. And I know I can get it.
Perhaps my extreme lack of posting in the last few days. To be entirely fair, its not only this. I've been busy. The end of my undergraduate academic career neccessitated some good times on Friday night, and it delivered. Also, I ended up packing in16 hours of work, and a huge game of poker this weekend as well. So, as Caitlin says in her blog, I think this calls for a lazy Sunday now.
Luke issued an ultimatum a little while ago to see who watches the most movies in April. Anton and him are severely trouncing me. I have watched one-and-a-half movies this month (and it's already the 10th!) which is way off my normal average of 20-25 movies a month. I watched Sin City a second time in theatre, and watched half of Spartacus - one of the last remaining Kubrick films for me to see. Funny isn't it, how that's the one that most other people have seen - but then was falling asleep, so I will try to finish it tonight. And perhaps also watch Lady From Shanghai (Orson Welles with an Irish accent and Rita Hayworth) and other film tonight. That's my agenda for this lazy Sunday. Watch a lot of movies. I might even fit in another one later.
Also, the tentative plan is to go see The Merchant of Venice on Tues. night at the Broadway Theatre at 7 pm. I was thinking of going tonight, but Anton's Chaucer paper means that it will have to happen on Tues. (Wed. night I work and Fri. morning I have a final exam).
I haven't done a lot of blogging lately, but the other night I was writing an essay until 3 am, and unlike Joel, I do not feel like I need to blog when I've been writing for 6 hours straight. I'd rather get up and get away from the computer. But the essay - entitled "Our Darker Nature: Duality in Confessions, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Fight Club" - is done and I think it turned out ok. Of course, I'm sure professor Thorpe will be thoroughly sick of Dr. Jekyll by the time he finishes marking our classes essays (I only know of one person who didn't write on it in some part).
I picked up the a copy of the DVD Sideways, because I love this movie. I got a free bottle opener with it at Future Shop. I thought that was funny. Seriously though, take a look at this cover art. Why did they insist on airbrushing the characters faces so much? It looks horrid, especially Thomas Hayden Church, who's crags and wrinkles give him so much character. That shot of him on the cover barely even looks like him. Horrid. Still, I haven't gotten a chance to watch the film yet, so anyone who wants to bring a bottle of wine and sit down and watch sometime is welcome to.
I picked up Beck's new album Guero, which is exciting as its probably one of the few CDs I'm going to let myself buy between now and May. I'd been waiting for this one for a long time, and it's the first proper 2005 release I've bought this year.
The good news is that I'm loving the album so far after about 3-4 listens. Not quite a masterpiece but much better than a lot of the critics have said. It's not the rehash of Odelay that some of the critics have labelled it, but neither is it like Sea Change. Yet it most certainly is Beck. That is no question. This isn't a revolution in sound, but rather a refinment. Which means it may lack the unleashed mishmash of samples or Odelay or the world beats of Mutations, but it's most definitely his sound.
Apparently the title of the album means "white boy" in the Spanish slang of LA where Beck Hanson grew up. Beck has grown up a little bit. He's still playful in inserting samples and enjoying beats, but he's more focused here and seems to be exploring some themes on some of the songs. I mean, he is in his mid-30's. He's not the young blonde experimenter who came out of nowhere with "Loser." What it does show is that he's a truly gifted musician/songwriter who is going to have a successful career after his youthful pranksterism has worn away.
Yesterday was a rainy day. It's been a while since I've enjoyed one what with all that white fluffy stuff that was coming down instead for the last 5 months. A rainy day is a day to reflect, a day to just enjoy oneself in the little things of life. I picked up a new CD, I went grocery shopping - I hadn't been to the new Superstore to shop since they rennovated. It's so big I had a hard time navigating - I went for fish and chips with Anton and Luke at the Black Duck, and then spent 4 hours talking about movies, comics, philosophies, people we know and things we want to do. I think a film project or 2 will definitely be happening this summer with us 3.
I like the Beatles a lot, but I never "got" this track until tonight. To be quite honest, this is one of those "songs" that is weird, but if you're in the right mood (preferebly doing nothing else, and not distracted), it can be, well...
I like it. And not just to be weird. I've been formulating a little bit of an analysis of it. If you have a good pair of speakers you understand how thoroughly they took advantage of stereo on the track, constantly switching from one to the other, creating a disorienting sensation. The overlapping snippits of dialogue, along with radio static, gives me the impression that I'm zooming at high speed through a city, overhearing all kinds of things that are going on (sililar to some of the first experiments on Sgt. Pepper). Bits of piano, fighting, crowds, conversations, bits of music: it's almost overwhelming and a little bit frightening.
And then the transition into "Good Night." Bloody brilliant. And I never really got this until tonight. It's like a revelation.
"Good night, everybody. Everybody, everywhere. Good night." - The Beatles, "Good Night" from the White Album
Also, check out the Batman Begins TV spots. Bale's Bruce Wayne seems the cocky playboy right off the pages of Batman: Year One. And also reminds me of Patrick Bateman, but in a good way. Hopefully this film will wipe away the horrible stain of Schumacher's Batman films. Looks like it will.
EDIT: It looks like those direct links I posted weren't working. Just click on this link, and then scroll down to the bottom of the page.
In retrospect, posting on a blog early, early in the morning after drinking is always interesting (see Joel's blog for plenty of examples). A part of me wanted to delete that post, but it was relatively innocuous. So it stays. I'm surprised the sentences are as cogent as they are. And as it stands, there is nothing in that post that is not true. The Scuz was full (a good 30-40 min wait) and I still want to see all those things.
Some good news for everyone. I got an email yesterday (although I read it soon after posting that late-night blog post early this morning) from the University of Victoria. I'M IN!
That is a huge weight off my shoulder. They also have offered me a TA position at Victoria as well (this spring position at the U of S will be good practice). I'm quite excited.
Now I have something solid in both film and graduate studies, should I choose to do either. The week spent talking with my dad helped me bring many things into perspective.
Either way, it's an exciting piece of news that now puts me at a high inversely proportional to the low I was in a week and half ago. The last few days have been great. I'm happy today.
I'm not a Catholic, and I didn't always agree with him on every issue, but I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for John Paul II. May he rest with Christ in Heaven as we speak.
I spent much of the morning reading the supplementary section in The Globe and Mail on the life and times of the man born Karol Jozef Wojtyla (Voy-TEE-wah). The first non-Italian pope in 400 years. The most travelled pope. The man who spoke against both the destructive communism of the east in his early years and the corporate greed of the west in later years. Fascinating reading. I gained a greater appreciation for his accomplishments, as well as insight into the way that the Catholic Church operates. Definitely one of the most important figures of our time. It truly is the end of an era.
ANDERS BERGSTROM has been writing, talking -- and blogging -- about movies, music and culture for some time now. In the past he has contributed movie and concert reviews to The Sheaf, the University of Saskatchewan student newspaper, and maintained a strong circle of film and culture loving friends.