Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year Everyone

Do I have any resolutions. Nah, I haven't really done resolutions for a long time. I feel that if I'm not the type of person to change something about me throughout the year some arbitrary recognition of the passage of time surely won't make me do it. It might work for some, but just saying "Oh wow, now it's another year, maybe I really should start/stop doing this," isn't much of a motivating factor for me.

On the other hand, I don't know, I have New Year's wishes. How Korean of me, right? I don't know, it makes more sense to me than a resolution. Because basically that's what resolutions are anyways. Wishes. You wish you were thinner or you wish you were more organized so you couch it in this sort of self-help talk of resolving to change that about yourself. Sure more proactive I guess to say you're going to something, but I always felt the Korean way of watching the sun rise and making your wish was more...reflective I suppose. To sit there by yourself, or with friends and loved ones and to quietly watch the sun and go over what you wish for in the coming year you get to examine what kind of person you've been in the previous and what kind of person or things you want in the new year and in that moment you actually have the ability to meditate on what you are desiring.

If I get to see the sun rise this morning I'll be sure to make my wishes against the sun. So here's what I wish for.

I wish that in the coming year I can be the person who will be able to what is required of them and maybe something above and beyond that. What did I learn myself this past year. A whole lot and not that much at the same time I believe. But I did learn how ineffective it is to dwell on the past about anything. I also learned I'm a lot stronger than I assume myself to be, but I just rarely apply myself to not being a milquetoast pile of wishy-washiness. The real test is do I apply what I learned in 2008. So as the poet of war and love used to say, as rosy-fingered Dawn draws the curtains of the sky that for the most part my only wish is that I may not be a waste of space and resources on this earth, as I have felt many times in my life. May that feeling not ever creep up on me again. That the chances and opportunities given to me won't pass me by without appreciation and while I may not change the world at least I hope to find myself changed by i in ways that are good. My wish is simple and like the lyrics from the song "Utilities":

I just wish I were a toothbrush or a solder gun;
make me something somebody can use.
Guess our wishes don't do dishes or brake repairs;
make them something somebody can use.
Got more faults than the state of California,
and the heart is a badly built bridge.
Seems the most I have to offer doesn't offer much;
make it something somebody can use.
Make this something somebody can use."

My favorite commercial

It's been my favorite for a while, but I just caught on TV again so here goes. I'm talking about the McDonald's ad that's featuring the apple dippers as a healthy Happy Meal choice. Sounds boring? It's not boring when you realize some genius at McDonald's decided to use the Cha Cha Slide as inspiration. I mean, you totally get why they'd do it. First off, it's simply a fun way to portray eating the apple dippers...but with minimal effort. The Cha Cha Slide already exists, really all you needed to do was come up with some apple dipping to fit the song and you're set to go. There's nothing else in that ad. No dialogue, just really simple choreography. No crazy effects, just a simple dining room in a house. AND it appeals to parents who know what the hell the Cha Cha Slide is, making an instant memorable impression on the person responsible for taking their kids to McDonald's. And even if the adult doesn't recognize what the ad is referencing, it's still simply a cute ad. Fucking genius. Also, I must say that I have a weak spot for little kids dancing. Especially when they're dressed in old school b-boy gear. Here's the ad as how you see it on tv.

Another thing I love about the ad is the dad's reaction. He's all "That's right, get on with your bad self" and just goes along with it. I don't know why I love that so much, but it adds a little something. So I went on YouTube to see if anyone had uploaded it just because I wanted to see the dad's expression...and I found the long version!

Here's the original for comparison.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Don't go to MoMA on the Saturday before New Year's

There will be a shitload of people there. A metric shitload. Like goddamn.

I really wanted to check out the Seurat exhibit. They had a bunch of drawings by the man. While I was familiar with his pointillism paintings the few drawings I saw were compelling enough for me to go check it out.

And I must say, I really do enjoy is crayon/charcoal work a whole lot more. I personally like charcoal, but that wasn't the only reason. Seeing his crayon work on paper, you get a sense of where he's coming from and going with the paintings he did. In fact, they had a couple of studies for paintings such as "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" side by side for comparison. At the same time I found the crayon work more compelling. It was kind of amazing actually, because it was a very impressionistic minimalist style, mostly shades and blobs, yet he managed to make them very expressive. I especially loved how he created these very dark pieces since a huge chunk of them involved large areas of black crayon, but then there'd be the glow of a face, or some faint outlines that seemed so delicate and almost nonexistent, yet the entire work seemed extremely detailed and alive amidst the gloom. It didn't look depressing or just blah with the sameness of varying shades of gray and black. It somehow managed to be dynamic still.

Got to wander around other parts of the museum as well. I was pleased to see some work that I liked as well as artwork from artists recognized. My museum grazing is a bit weird because I'll walk around the room seeing things from afar in a scanning matter, then only walk up close to look at things that catch my eye. In room I spotted a Gilbert and George sort of sauntered up to it like an old friend and stood in front of a it for bit. Then I turned around and my eyes locked onto a piece by Lisa Yuskavage. It was pretty awesome because I'd been looking around to see if I could find an exhibit for a while but always managed to fail, so needless to say I was a bit excited to see one in person finally. It was large and luminous. Reproductions really do not do it any justice. I always told myself if I were ever to pose nude for an artist, she'd be the only one.

I don't know, I'm not a real art connoiseur, so I have a hard time explaining what it is I like. I think subject matter matters to me, but it's a very subjective, makes sense only to me type of reasoning based mostly on my desire and jealousy in regards to certain skills, techniques and styles, as well as subject matter.

So in my head I started cataloging a list of the artists I like, starting with the first one I can think of. But as I start seeing a pattern, at the same time I find the list spreading out into directions where the lines connecting any of them start to get pretty tenuous. I have yet to somehow intelligently gather the threads into a theory I like. Lisa Yuskavage, Hans Bellmer, Egon Schiele, Audrey Kawasaki, Aubrey Beardsley, Alphonse Mucha, Max Ernst, Albrecht Durer...Joseph Cornell? Henry Darger?? What about comic artists? Takehiko Inoue, for example...and it goes on and on and I then lose my connections to anything entirely. I guess I don't really need to explain my tastes to anyone, but I feel frustrated not being able to intelligently articulate what or why I like about it.

I ended up zooming through "Nausea." It's not a thick book, but I didn't think I'd finish reading it that fast. It made me think of Camus, and then it made me think "Wait, why the hell did I like 'The Plague' more than 'The Stranger'?" I need to reread those.

Luckily, I'm rollin' in reading material. Speaking of rolling in reading material, Josh from The High Strung emailed me a book of his. It was in pdf format so I decided I was going to print the whole thing out since. Now I'm not so sure how I'm going to carry this around to read it. I'm continuously distressed by the idea that I'll drop the whole mess of it and all the pages will be out of order and just everywhere. It probably would've been smarter if I'd just printed out 50 pages at a time for a more manageable size instead of risking devastating page discombobulation. My eagerness to have it in physical form got the better of me. I think I should go separate them into manageable sizes now before I really do drop/trip/scatter the pages.

But before I get into that bit of horror tome, I'm going to need a cleanser of sorts from novels so I've started reading "A History of Christianity: Volume I." Obviously, I won't finish the whole thing, but just to start with a couple of chapters. Another weird thing about me. Interest in church/Christianity development and history. I entirely blame this on a sort of what I call a Stockholm Syndrome created from twelve years of having a religious education. You'd think I'd be all religioned out, but obviously mandatory Bible classes and a library full of books like "Foxe's Book of Martyrs" that were read at an incredibly young age leaves me in a weird position about how I feel about Religion with a capital "R" that I'm still trying to figure out, but also instills an inordinate amount of interest in church history and expression of human faith. I think the latter also stemmed from/grew into (it's a chicken/egg argument) an interest in revolutions and social changes. Even when they fuck the hell up. Because something about the power when people get together and put their belief and strength into it fascinates me. It's not a "oh shit, how cool" response to violent riots, bloody upheavals, or subscription to anyone political view but more a sort of awe in what can be accomplished and transpire and also an inexplicable desire to dissect each domino in the large domino setup of an event and to see what was the finger to push that first domino.

Hmm, well that got a bit long-winded and self-involved. I need to remind myself not to get carried away so much...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas 2007 was...

I had gotten to used to sleeping in and just crawling into bed and sleeping whenever the past 3 days I had off, so when I finally awoke on Christmas morning I wasn't sure if I wanted heed the siren call of Tom's fantastic company and the promise of other scintillating persons and go out to Greenpoint to chill at his place with other Christmas orphans. Yea, I mentally did slap myself for even contemplating going back to sleep.

In a weird way, this Christmas was the most Christmas-y Christmas I had in a long while. I never actively stayed up and wished people a Merry Christmas, and it'd been a while since I actually spent time with people on Christmas day to just enjoy the company. As I assessed the get together afterwards "Yea, it was really fun. It was kind of like a bunch of Oscar Wilde characters got together to spend Christmas and the conversation was very un-Christmas-like yet somehow it was perfectly a happy holiday get together."

I'm glad I took my camera along. I actually felt weird whipping out a camera, but I just wanted some candid shots. I don't know, it was one of the first times I felt like I spent a honest to goodness normal person Christmas and I kind of wanted to commemorate it because I'm a loser like that. I ended up not taking too many because I felt weird/bad/creepy about it, but I asked myself, "What would the Cobrasnake do?"...That just succeeded in making me feel like even more of a creep.

Photos at Flickr...mostly of Calcifer.

Anyhow, so Christmas this year was:

1. Mulled wine. It was made with Carlo Rossi and it was delicious. Taking a hit off of Lucy's flask of clove liqueur/bitter added a little extra something to it as well. (pictured: what was left of the mulled wine)

2. Fun people to go with the good wine.

3. Watching Sweeney Todd with fun people after having partook of good mulled wine.

3. And Calcifer. O.M.G. A-fucking-dorable cat. It was the first time I'd been formally introduced to the little guy in person, but a picture of him when he was just a kitten sleeping under a book reigned as my desktop for a while. Not to like beat a meme horse, but I seriously wanted to go "om nom nom nom" on his belly. Softest. Belly. EVAH.

4. Folk art rabbit on top of Calcifer. Enough said.

At one point during the evening a song started playing and I thought to myself "Hey, this sounds fam........................wait a second."

I had to ask Tom, "Is that the marching theme from 'Paprika'?" I was extremely relieved to get an affirmative, because, I was mildly worried for a second that I was slowly going insane. He did not help by talking to me in "going crazy in 'Paprika'" gibberish about how the toaster knows all the lyrics and whatnot. Seriously though, that was a damn good animated film...some of Satoshi Kon's best work to date. With a fantastic soundtrack to boot.

But I'm going off track. I wanted to end with a warning to all. Right after finishing "Look Homeward Angel," I immediately picked up "Nausea." Look forward to navel-gazing, existential, self-indulgent wankery. If you're lucky, I might finish this one super quick and pick up something a bit more academic so that you might be spared my prosaic stylings.

Here's the opening sequence from "Paprika," just to tease you a bit more if you have not already seen it and to give you some more music. It's interesting to note how Kon seems to have reused the ethereal skipping motif he used in "Perfect Blue," but in a totally different way.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays for serious

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and all that. I mean it. Y'all treat each other right and hopefully the new year brings you good things...even the people I dislike. Maybe some good in your life will make you realize what a douche you are and how grateful you should be for things and will help you change your douchebag ways in a Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge sense. Oh, I'm just joking. Kind of. Sort of. No, but seriously, I do hope everyone has a fantastic holiday season.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A holiday card from me

Well, this year I didn't want to be a total Scrooge, so I wanted to send out at least some kind of electronic card. I still wanted it to have some kind of personal touch, but how?

I figured, "Why not send a picture card?"

Good idea, but usually those require something like...I don't, pets...something to show that you're not some 24-year-old single slacker. Yea, I don't have any of those. So I figured you know, why fight it. I'm not ashamed of my life. No, far from it. And you know what, if those cards are just reminders of things I do not have and the fact that other people are living adult lives, with responsibility and commitment, well I'm going make a picture card of something I have that a lot of people still want. It took some commitment and responsibility to wake up at 5 am to go stand in line to get it. AND we've been committed to each other for almost a year. So happy holidays everyone.

Click Here

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Oh God....too much Morrissey

What the hell? I have been listening to an inexcusable amount of Morrissey as of late. Lots of things to be melancholy about maybe? The grey weather? How much I'm paying in rent? The fact that I had to go into work today even though I could've taken a day off because I had work to do? Work I have to do, period? As I explained to Kelly who informed me she did not get why people love Morrissey, "He, speaks to me. He sings my misanthropy." To which she replied, "Yea, that's why I don't like him." Touche.

Can't wait for the Les Savy Fav New Year's show. That's going to be all kinds of fun. I already have a picture of me attempting to lick Mr. Harrington's beard in heavy rotation as my profile picture for this momentous occasion. Part of me thinks, "There were some cool moments at these shows shows, I wonder if I can find some of them online," but then I'm all "No, it's better this way." Seriously, I don't need people seeing me with my face scrunched up screaming along to the lyrics. OR like the last time when I hauled ass to see Les Savy Fav right after a transatlantic plane ride and was tired and almost dehydrated. I asked Tim for some water and he was much obliged to pour it into my mouth. Afterwards I told Kelly, "As cool as that was, that would've looked like some straight up simulated bukkake if anyone had taken a picture of it." Well, it was sort of a hyperbole. It wasn't that bad, and I was just trying to be funny, but nonetheless, it illustrates my point.

I'm still waiting for the picture of me holding up the sign I made for the Gogol Bordello show informing Eugene Hutz that I'd have sex with his mustache to come and haunt me when I decide to run for governor or something. It'd become like some straight up political intrigue drama with Glenn Close starring as me and they try to recover the photo before someone decides to show it at the debates, and the campaign handlers are all screaming "It's already on Flickr! It's now infiltrating Facebook!" "Johnson, who is doing this??" "I don't know, ma'am. But it must be some really fucking, petty douchebag. I mean come on, it's not even OFFENSIVE. It's actually FUNNY."

And on a parting note, I would marry. MARRRY a guy who looks/dresses like Morrissey did in the video for "Suedehead."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I saw 'I am Legend'


So I finally saw it. I remember when first heard that they were making "I am Legend" with Will Smith, my first reaction was, "Oh, hell no." And each time it'd be brought up, my reaction be, "No, I refuse to even acknowledge its existence or watch this." Then I caught sight of the trailer and gradually I got curious enough that when the "coming out in a week" mark hit I knew I was going to be going to the theater to see it.

My initial beef with it was the fact that , first of all, didn't we ALREADY do "I am Legend"? Like several times before? I mean Vincent Price did it. We had Omega Man. Seriously, did we need one more? It's like Richard Matheson and Jack Finney had a bet to see who could get their novel made into a movie the most times or something. And you damn well know I avoided that new one with Nicole Kidman in it like the plague.

Second, and this is a bit more complicated and involves my own feelings intertwined into the book itself. I need to provide background here. IaL is one of my favorite books. Simply based on the fact that it was one of the first books I read when I was younger to just blow my mind. I read it and when I got to the end of it, all I could say was, "...that shit is DEEP." It was a beautiful feeling. I felt so damn smart. I felt like I'd stumbled across some profound literary trope. I mean, nowadays when I think about it, it almost sounds like a stoner moment. I've reread the book a couple of times -- and it remains as one of the most reread books in my "library." It's lost its "whoa" factor, but I reread it nonetheless to at least remember that profound moment in my book reading history so many years ago.

I was a kid into vampires, the macabre, Victorian occult, gothic stories, adored Poe*, and watched random horror odds and ends throughout my childhood. I first learned of IaL in a book I borrowed from a friend that was sort of like a pre-teen version of a mashup of an almanac and the Guinness Book of World Records, except it was all about horror. It was mostly superlative categories, lists and fun facts type of book. I forget exactly how IaL was listed, but I remember after reading the one sentence plot summary my eyes widened slightly and I knew this was something I had to read. I had long forgotten the title and almost forgot about the book's existence when I stumbled across it in a bookstore a couple of years later. It seemed vaguely familiar, and I read the back of it and it all came flooding back. I snatched it up and ran home giddy with anticipation.

While it was the premise of the book that first grabbed my attention, the interaction between the books title and the end of the book is what grabbed me. It was like the first time you watched "Planet of the Apes" and saw see the statue of Liberty and he realizes he was on earth all along? It was like that. Or like that episode of The Twilight Zone? The guy who finally had all the time in the world to read books, but then his glasses break? It was that sort of "gotcha!" type of thing. Wait, scratch that. "Gotcha" isn't exactly it. I mean it's not the type of twist ending you see so much nowadays, but it definitely has that feeling of a bit of surprise. A bit more of a literary surprise if you will.

Anyhow, my point is when I first picked up IaL, I saw the title and thought to myself, "Hmm, I guess he's going to defeat all the vampires and save the world or something. It's triumphant and boastful. A fucking set up is what it is. When I got to the end and and that subtle twist? That he becomes a legend because he's become the monster of the vampire society? I had to actually put the book down and step away from it for a bit. The synapses in my brain fired and I was making all the connections and implications of it all. "Oh shit, yea, so he was a monster to them. Oh shit, what does that suggest then? Oh shit, legends of monsters in society can stem from the one misfit of society? The outsider, the public enemy? Oh shit, it's like when I used to read about werewolves and werewolf folktale origin and they'd talk about how it could've been early cases of clinical lycanthropy or hypertrichosis? Or feral children?" I loved it, because it made me think. I felt like a professor. A mental giant among my peers!

They were willing to relocate the film from a suburb in Southern California to New York City, and they were probably going to make Robert Neville into Will Smith's character from "Independence Day" who punches out one of the infected and says, "Welcome to earth." This awesome counterpoint that Matheson delivered in the original work will get thoroughly ignored. That's why the reaction against the movie was so visceral. Nothing logical whatsoever. They were raping one of my favorite memories!

Anyway, the movie kind of didn't suck. They still gave it that Hollywood feel-good ending, but managed to keep it bittersweet. It wasn't a heroic, guy gets girl and they wander off into the sunset type of ending. It at least managed to try and keep with the spirit of why the whole work should be named "I am Legend" to begin with, but it definitely followed more to the letter of what my initial idea of the book was when I had just read the title and was wondering what kind of story should deserve that sort of name way back when. Neville finds the cure for the disease and he becomes a legend by becoming a hero, not because he becomes a monster.

I remember when I first heard about the movie my gripe was, "I would not be as pissed if they at least just slapped a different title on it; they're going to destroy its implications!" I mean at least "Omega Man" and "The Last Man on Earth" changed their titles. After having actually seen it, it works still and I'm not supremely as supremely annoyed as I had been initially. I didn't hate it, but I'm wary about saying I liked it simply because they kept the original title and to me that's kind of sacred. I'm going to be an irrational snob like that.

Let me just get it out of the way, I had no problem with Will Smith playing the lead role. People freaking the fuck out about it were tripping and had obviously never watched his acting in "Six Degrees of Separation." Besides, he'd sort of cut out a niche for himself as the decent guy who overcomes obstacles.

I personally liked his portrayal of Neville in this incarnation. I thought his nervous breakdown in the video store after the death of Sam was a pretty intense moment that he did very well. And when he talks about the bacon he was meaning to save after his freakout when he's saved and brough back home? Like I said, he did the decent guy making good of a situation thing very well. You kind of believe if anyone could survive being "the last man on earth" it'd have to be someone like Smith who has this sense of humor that kind of shields him in a way from what's going on.

Anyway, one thing I found interesting about the movie that echoed some things in Matheson's IaL: some of the "vampires" had basically created their own society. They now had their way of life. The infected living in hives in the movie sort of showed that. It showed that they had reverted to an animal state, but it showed some semblances of a society. Sort of like in "Last Man on Earth" (note: I own this movie and will probably rewatch it. Hm, I probably should've done that before writing this. It would've made this way more interesting and in-depth. Ah, well. Fuck it.) as well? But I thought it was interesting how they sort of nodded to that "alternative society" a bit when they showed the big, goony infected actually being annoyed that Neville had captured one of their own, as well as how it recreated a trap in the same way Neville did, and even learned to keep dogs. I thought that was an interesting consideration for this particular version of the tale. It was disappointing a bit the movie went in the direction that it did because the first half of it seemed to show that yes, the world indeed was thriving in its own way without humans. Just like the animals roaming New York, without their humanity the infected humans were beginning to create their own way of living. Neville is clearly depicted as the lone outsider in all this. Zooming down the deserted streets in his fancy cars. The fact that he couldn't hunt a single deer with his army training and his gun and lioness snatches one with great ease right in front of him. He's the one who can't seem to adapt.

Speaking of abandoned New York, every review seems to mention this, but the depiction of a New York going back to a wild state was pretty damn good. Also I thought the first half showing life as the only man live was damn good as well. Some people say the latter half was rushed, but really the whole point of IaL was the build up to the end and showing how life might be if there were to be one lonely human trying to survive in a hostile environment. Even in the book I enjoyed the beginning just reading the tedium of Neville's day-to-day life. His barricaded house and his supplies.

You know, I've thought about it before, but maybe it's gotta be a tie to my zombie obsession. The whole survival part of it. It wasn't just a vampire story, and honestly, they were more vampire-like and it was sort of slightly science fiction in a sense. It' was like what "28 Days Later" was to the zombie movie genre. More medical explanation, zombie-like monsters rather than actually zombies (not of the "brraaaiins" flesh-eater variety, fast-moving, not reanimated, etc.).

I need to reread that book. The sad thing is I don't have it on me. I think it's with my parents with 90% of my books. Man. I knew that should've been one of the ones I brought with me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The world hates my fingers

More weird finger related, well, change of plans. I'll see if these weird finger things stop happening so I can do my Christmas comic. If I do, I won't get to send it to everyone FOR Christmas, but at the last I can have some on hand if anyone wants it.

Random thought: Had some lobster bisque today. Before it even came to the table, I thought, "Something smells shellfishy." It smelled a lot like shrimp crackers.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ads getting too culturally specific?

It's interesting to me as someone who pays attention to things like this and also enjoys yelling at the television set, but at the same time it's a little off-putting. A) because it's so specifically targeting a group and B) assuming that the group is stupid enough when we all know the 90s style advertising of "Hey man, this is so rad/sick/cool/awesome" was really more annoying than making the demographic think, "Hey! That ad talks just like me."

But as everyone likes to quote P.T. Barnum, a sucker is born every second, and this must be working on some level? Maybe?

I think this one's been bandied about a bit by others, but the first one that had me yelling, "WHAT THE HELL??" at the TV was the ad for Belvedere vodka.

What the fuck. No, seriously. OK, first off. How many of you off the bat recognized anyone in this ad? It's not a trick question. There's just two famous people in this ad if I remember correctly, it all kind of goes by too fast. But first, you might recognize Vincent Gallo playing the "artistic bad boy." Then again, you might not. Unless you really really knew Vincent Gallo, the quick shots would have you more saying "that guy looks...familiar-ish."

This pisses me off because it's saying a) this ad is just way more better for people who know who Vincent Gallo is b) if you don't get it, we kind of don't give a fuck. It's elitist in the weirdest way possible. Because for the rest of the population who does not give a fuck about Gallo, you could've swapped him out with some rakish model and they would not know the difference. There's no real context that blatantly identifies him, you just get the vague idea he's some kind of big shot as part of the "narrative" of the ad. And you know they probably blew big bucks to get him to appear in it. Whether he meant it as a joke or no, we're talking about a man who thinks his semen has monetary value (is he just kidding, or not? I don't fucking care), so you know he negotiated some beaucoup bucks for this whole operation. Was that necessary? I think the whole unnecessary...uh...ness about it is what really gets me. They're banking on the idea that of the small percentage of people who will recognize his face, they will not be turned off by the crass commercialism of it all and will be convinced enough to buy the vodka.

Oh, who was the second famous person in this thing? For those of you who didn't pick it out, go back and watch the ad again. What else plays a sort of prominent role. Who's next to Vincent a lot? Yea, the camera flashes throughout the ad, the dude with the camera? That's Terry Richardson. Him being in this add just reinforces and amplifies the WTF of what I'm talking about with this ad being supremely culturally specific. They didn't just throw Richardson in there. They highlight him with earmarks that he's there even if he isn't on screen anytime. That's why there's so many camera flashes going off. It's not just about the mood and look of the ad, it's because Richardson is a photographer. He's getting camera time by virtue of the camera being there. And they even close the ad with him mugging into the camera with his (signature) compact camera.

Again, I'm not saying these people aren't famous, but it's kind of specific is what I'm finding all so weird. It's so fucking hyper aware it hurts my teeth. You hear about having to market to a niche to get a firm foothold, and how you have a demographic you appeal to. For example, in magazines, you learn that many times what is shown in magazines with content and ads, it's not exactly about portraying who your readers are, but the type of person your readers want to be. In that sense, this is sort of what this ad is doing, but what rubs me the wrong way is that it seems to be so damn blatant. If you get the cultural points of this ad, what these cultural recognition points sort of stand for makes the risk factor pretty high for turning off that potential market for making the targeting way too obvious. The ad sort of became a parody of itself. Then part of me wonders if I'm giving the demographic they're trying to target too much credit. Who knows, maybe do want the stragglers of the pack who recognize a face and want to purchase based on some vague star fuckery that some scenesters crave. Or maybe that's what the participants in this ad were going for? Maybe that's the whole reason Gallo and Richardson even agreed to do it with a knowing wink? Because they were trying to make some sort of statement? Fuck, they could've just done it for the money. I don't know. I really can't tell anymore. I feel like I'm choking on irony, both sincere and ham-fisted, nowadays. And if this is some kind of ironic hipster version of "I did it for the lulz" I'm really going to throw up.

The second one that recently made me do a double-take was the ad for Boost Mobile.

I'm watching it thinking, "Hey Jermaine that Young Jeezy?" then the third guy pops out and I'm kind of confused for a second then sputtered, ".......Mickey Avalon? Really? REALLY?"

I mean it makes no sense because the demographic who knows Dupri and Jeezy are gonna recognize Mickey Avalon? And he seems to be added on at the end almost as an afterthought or something to make the net as wide as possible. If they were really trying to go for a rap that represented a lot of different demographics, they could've done a way better job than this. It's like someone decided to throw a rap concert and someone looked at the lineup and was all, "Hmm...OK, we got Kanye, Common, Mos Def...we need to shake it up a bit and get more people to come...Oh, I got it! INSANE CLOWN POSSE." You know what I mean? Can you imagine what that crowd would look like? I just's just...just''s just thrown in there! I mean, ads can't be that long and in long format, it might make more sense as a collaboration? In fact, you can hear the whole Boost Mobile song here on Mickey's MySpace, and no, more of it still doesn't really redeem this song. And yea, you can listen to Mickey's other songs to get what his body of work is like. I wish I could've been privy to that marketing meeting. It's not like Boost is unfamiliar with using rappers for advertising (there was a previous one with like Ludacris and The Game I think...they even had those sort of "individual stars when they were young hypothetical hawking" with like Fat Joe and Travis Barker), but I'm really curious how they decided to work this most recent lineup for the collaborative effort.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas situation

I thought I had figured out a clever way to get around the fact that I was too broke this year to bake cookies or buy cards. I was going to create a little comic booklet. Unfortunately, while make my dinner tonight I managed to burn my forefinger and middle finger with a hot spoon. The skin's feeling weird, tight, and uncomfortably loose all at the same time and I've managed to sear a line into my middle finger. I'll see if I can draw it up when I have time, but I might just ditch all that and be a total Scrooge this year if it looks like I can't get it done reasonably by Christmas time.

I was going to just give to to a handful of people who cared whether or not they heard from me this holiday season, but if you really really want one, let me know. I guess though that'd be more easier to promise if I can get over this injury and finish it.

I've been reading Thomas Wolfe

The cold air biting. Sneaking under folds of duvet, sheets and comforter to attack and petrify toes.

The sound of the alarm to our roof that was meant to warn climbers to go no further only helped to advertise when someone was making their way to the top of the building. It whooped and whirred its snaking way through layers of sleep, making me awake and awake again. I dive in reverse and I falling through sleep until I belly flopping into cold air and reality.

The coming of the holidays meant being stuffed and uncomfortably full. It meant navigating the crowded streets to get to work as tourists gawk and dawdle at storefronts and shop windows that were stocked opulently yet manage to ring hollow and dull. It meant an an overabundance of food at work; being plied with smells and flavors that come too fast and too much to be savored. However, I still ingest them hungrily, knowing this time of plenty can only last so long and it's more important to list what was consumed than to taste it. The faceless self-satisfied mannequins of Bergdorf Goodman in rich jewel tones of expensive clothes and cheap wigs. Breakfast eaten in front of Tiffany's. Fat, red from other places faces stuffed with dollar bagels and stale rolls from carts as conspicuously dressed fathers and husbands gamely laugh and take photos to be shared and with feigned modesty and good-humor.

The gifts of chocolate panettone, fragrant burgers, greasy fries and bready onion rings not meant for me round out my meals. Dinners upon dinners with foie gras and venison and oysters. All delectable dreams to be remembered when a week later I absentmindedly sneeze after biting into a ball of pepper missed by the pepper mill in jarred spaghetti sauce that was on sale for a dollar cheaper than usual over 99 cent pasta. It makes me think of the quail that daintily sat in its potato terrine at a dinner where I felt excited both in a good way and a scared way still being new and naive and self-conscious about social situations in that 24-year-old way. Flavors and ingredients I wouldn't dare try to recreate on my own sad budget in the most ironic of disparities. In my own small mouse hole of an apartment far away from the luxurious landscape near my workplace where tourists come to gawk and dawdle.

But the mouse hole is my kingdom. I'm my own and where I don't feel self-conscious and excited. I know every inch of its can-be-measured-in-inches floor plan. Sandwiches made with cold cuts and cheese feel like feasts and when I feel indulgent, I may lay largesses of sliced avocados in between the bread and its humble contents.
Where the wailing roof alarm wakes me in the morning and I imagine it to be my clarion call.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Trying my best to forget that it's Sunday...because tomorrow's Monday

Today was pretty uneventful...except that I ended up spotting my "makes-me-question-my-sexuality-girl-crush." Hopping off the 1 at 14th I made my way down the passage to transfer to the Brooklyn-bound L when I spotted a familiar face and everything started going in slow motion. You know, one of those double-takes when you see a face but you look away at first but a full second later you're thinking to yourself, "Wait, was that who I?" but you don't turn away immediately because if it's not how embarrassing for you to whip your head around, but if it is you don't want to make it such an obvious double take, so you count to three and sort of casually scan the oncoming crowd trying to see if you can spot the familiar face again, then turn back around because it really is?

Yea, that's exactly what happened. As a crowd expelled by the 9th Ave.-bound L came up the stairs I spotted, then confirmed, "Oh shit, that IS J.D. Samson."

A) She is tiny. B) Girl crush confirmed.

But while we're on the subject, a minor quibble. Would J.D. Samson count as a girl crush though? I mean, she's a lady yes, but then again even if you are a straight girl who happens to crush on a lesbian wouldn't the whole sexuality dynamics of it make the "girl" part of it moot and it just becomes a regular crush? Not that I'm saying she's not a girl because she's a lesbian, but girl crush seems something that straight girls reserve for other straight girls. I don't know, I guess when I think of "girl crush" I'm thinking of girls saying during some random girl talk or truth or dare type session, "Oh, if I had to do a girl, it'd totally be Monica Belluci, she's so hot." Or like, when girls have that one friend they simply cannot live without because they're so awesome and keen, but they're both straight and it's this totally platonic thing, it's just this intense admiration like she's the awesomely cool big sister you always wanted to be like and you want her to like you as well? At the same time you kind of get jealous when she gets a boyfriend and doesn't hang out with you as much? Does that make any sense? No? Well, never mind. I think I'll just shut up right about now.

You know how some addicts, they stay sober for a while, but when they fall off the wagon, they REALLY fall off the wagon? Yea, so I'd been good about staying out of The Strand, but I walked in there today. I know, again? Seriously, though. I need to document this to show how ridiculous it is and hopefully seeing it in print will give me more of a shock as to how ridiculous I am. I managed to spend $70.45...yea. Well, at least I set for books for the next couple of weeks if I don't go through them too quickly.

I watched "No Country for Old Men" today and let me just say it made me happy because for the first time in a long loooonnng while I felt like I saw a movie that had a fitting ending. "No Country" is one of McCarthy's work that I have not had a chance to read yet, so I can't comment on whether the book translated well to movie or not, and I'm not giving it raaaavvve reviews like it's the best movie EVER in my list of favorite movies, nor am I saying something like, "Oh man, the American public just wants happy endings all the time so it's nice to see a movie that bookends well.

Don't worry, no spoilers...though I don't know what there is to spoil and yea, it's been a book. However, when the screen went to black and the credits began to roll I heard several people go, "What the hell??" There was nothing "what the hell" about it. It was a great way to end that movie. The mood of it, the tie with what was being explored by it, the character resolution. It was just logical to me. It was actually a satisfying movie experience.

For example, I talked about having watched "Wristcutters" and how the execution of the movie didn't meet my expectations. A large part of it had to do with the ending. For the washed out bleak for being mundane afterlife that was painted the ending seemed too easily an sloppily resolved. Not that I was expecting a bleak ending. Sure it could've gone bleak and it would've been an interesting surprise, but I mean it's a love story, a resolution towards two characters realizing their love for each other wasn't really something off. But it seemed like so much build up to show this development of feelings that ended in an arbitrary "let's put these two together." It didn't really explain why they fit each other so well. Or why their love was so special as to allow them the ending they received.

For "No Country..." the close felt right. It wasn't just a perfect bookend in the sense that it ends similarly (with Tommy Lee Jones' musings), but the story ended logically for the character and story build-up that had been going on. And not just that loose ends were tied up, but the fates of everyone involved was the only one that would've made sense. There could've been better endings or something, but man. I don't know. For once I had no questions once the credits came up. I've had some movie endings with questions make it a good movie (some of the horror genre come to mind, where linger questions make the horror more palpable), but hooray for a clean ending.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

12/01 The Teeth, The High Strung, Jupiter One, freezepop @ Mercury Lounge

As usual, photos at the bottom, but a special treat because they're not mine and not on my camera so they're actually good.

It was cold as balls. Then again I was a little happy about that. As much as I hate the heat, a little chilly crispness was something to welcome.

Other things that had me very self-satisfied that day. A mere hour or so before I arrived at the Mercury Lounge, I had managed to finish cleaning my apartment. Something had to be done. I'm not dirty, but I'm very disorganized, and once I let go, it's an insane downward spiral that's really hard to climb out of. Have you ever seen those documentaries on compulsive hoarders? And the insanity they live in? And you think, "Holy shit. How can you get to that point? Around the time you can't open a door to a room because there is a stack of newspapers behind it, don't you think enough?" Um, well, I can see how that can happen. Over the past couple of weeks my apartment had turned into a dangerous minefield of exactly clothes, CDs, art supplies, cookbooks and magazines.

Luckily though, I happen to have a point where I realize something needs to be done. The casualty count was at one pair of glasses and one CD ("Get the Guests" by The High Strung, interestingly enough). The toll almost climbed to a second and third CD; I knew this could continue no longer. It ended up taking me a week to get motivated to start cleaning the house and the actual cleaning took place over the course of three days. Not because it really should have taken that long, but because I just can't keep it at. The breaking point was when I woke up on Saturday morning and saw that there was still the pile of books, magazines, sketchbooks and CDs I had pushed together into the middle of the floor like some sort of ceremonial pyre, while new books were starting to litter the floor once more. The laundry I had completed a week ago still sat unsorted while new laundry to-be-done was beginning to pile up. This could go on no longer. I'd dare to even go to the show late than to let this continue. I was not leaving the house until this had been taken care of. I pulled out my broom and dustpan. "On ne passe pas!"

So after having successfully tackled that I huffed and puffed over to the Mercury Lounge. Second point of self-satisfaction? Upon finishing the my house sorting, I found some issues of Paper Tiger I bought back in London, so I made a read of those on the subway.

Marc was already there and technically I was 30 minutes late, but in usual Mercury Lounge fashion, you honestly could never be late. I swear, there have been times when I actively WORKED at being late to a show there and each time I'm painfully early.

One thing out of the ordinary was how bustling it was. It was by far the most people I'd ever seen gathered there early for the first act. The crowd tends to ebb and flow a bit, but it was already packed.

"Dude, I know absolutely nothing about the two bands playing before The Teeth and The High Strung," I admitted. "They must be really popular with the home team."

I used to check stuff like this out. Actually look up who else is playing if I was going just for the headliner, but I'd gotten out of practice of doing that.

The first act was freezepop. I spotted the two keytars onstage and instantly my reaction was, "...two keytars? TWO??" This both scared and excited me. Yes, there were dueling keytars and even keytar solos. One of their songs are on Rock Band. Indeed out of everything, that got my attention the most because I'm a nerd like that. Why I am a nerd #2? I loved their cover of "The Final Countdown" out of the entire set.

Jupiter One was next and fuckin' rocked our faces off. I saw the keyboards and then saw the violin. "Oh shit, I am so looking forward to what this is going to sound like," I said.

Awesome. And obviously great musicians. Sophisticated arrangements and everything. The lead singer/guitarist/violinist would interchange between violin and guitar. At one point the guitarist/keyboardist/flutist (yes, you heard me, "flutist") pulled out a flute and I couldn't contain myself and cried out in excitement, "ROCK FLUTE! Wooooooo!!!" My picks? "Countdown," "Unglued," and "Turn Up the Radio." Pick up their stuff. Listen to them. My initial reaction? Orchestral, melodic rock that would fit in very well on a fantastic video game soundtrack. It must've been video game music night or something, because when I talked to K later it was revealed that they do have a couple of songs on some video games, but they were all sports games and I don't play sports games unfortunately. I want to make a video game or animated film just so I can ask them to score it.

The High Strung rocked out as usual. I must enjoy them too much because I swear I feel like their sets feel shorter and shorter to me. I sang along like a total goof. One thing that's always interesting to me is they have such a big sound. And I don't mean big like loud, but big as in very full. I don't know how they manage it because it's three guys on guitar, bass and drums and Josh sings high, but it all packs a pretty good punch.

So Derek almost blinded/killed someone with his drumstick. I saw it fly out of his hand and as I followed the trajectory it smacked this girl up front straight in the head. Marc and I whipped around to look at each other with eyes wide open and mouths silently mouthing "Oh!"

It sounds mean, but at first I didn't think it was a big deal. It wasn't like he was aiming it at her, I thought, it just slipped out of his hand but she kind of held her hands to her face and turned around. The guy with her got her a cup filled with ice for her to hold against her forehead. I was all, "Oh come couldn't have hurt THAT bad."

Um, yes, obviously it kind of did hit her pretty damn hard. In fact at one point she took the cup away and I saw her in profile. There was a HONKIN' knot on her forehead. It really was pretty...noticeable. My instant reaction upon seeing it was, "DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYUUUUUUUUMMMMM." Note the period at the end. That's exactly how I said it in my head.

Derek was apologetic of course, but he did produce what would be The Quote of the Night(tm):

"Um, I hope this isn't your first date."

Oh, I hope it was. I hope it was their first date and they stay together because that is the best "How I met your grandpa" story if I ever saw one unfold before my eyes.

As The Teeth came onstage Marc looked at the band then looked around at the crowd and said, "This is a very facial hair-friendly band."

And that is AWESOME.

I love seeing The Teeth on stage. They're so much fun. I finally got a copy of "You're My Lover Now" as well. Can't stop listening to it. I've tried to describe them to people before, but I really can't. I mean, if I had to, I'd say it sounded like a barber shop quartet picked up instruments and started a band...OK, that's kind of wrong too. I mean, they do harmonies so well, and I don't want to say they sound retro, because that's not really it either, but kind of? Well, what I mean is they're not emulating a style really, it's just rock, there's some mix going on between folk, sea shanties, and the kind of songs you hear playing in the background when they show old footage of San Francisco in the early 1900s. This is the point where I give up and I just say, "You know what? Just have a listen. Trust me on this. Anything I say to try and make you get what they sound like will not make any sense and will probably horribly incorrect."

I'm so glad they played "Coolest Kid in School," because there's nothing like singing, "And she hadn't eat at all that day. And if she did she threw it up anyway."

For those too lazy to click on the links, here's something to get you started. But do check out the MySpace pages and listen some more since SeeqPod is a bit limited. This is me crossing my arms and daring you not to pay attention to The High Strung's rhythm section.

I didn't even bother with pictures since I knew Marc was going to show up with his sick camera (JEALOUS) and then it'd just be a photo dick measuring contest which I WOULD LOSE. An apt way to describe the comparison because my camera is as ineffectual as the fact that I am a girl therefore I do not have boy bits to be measured. But all joking aside, these are some great photos. Check out his set on Flickr. He gave me permission to repub some here. I said it'd just be a "three or four" but really there were too many, so sssshhh. He has better quality versions up there anyway, so just think of this as a taste.


Jupiter One

The High Strung

The Teeth

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

To all of you who I have called accidentally

You now have nothing to fear!

I know the past two years I've been terrorizing some of you with the fact that my phone likes to dial out while being jostled about in a bag, purse or pocket. And I'd like to apologize.

"I didn't know I called you!" I'd protest. "Besides, you know how I HATE talking on the phone. If I ever had to get in touch with you I'd probably text or email you first."

Nonetheless, the phone would go on dialing. Maybe it was indignant I wasn't much of a phone talker. Maybe it was taking advantage of each pressing of the keys as it'd tumble in the darkness of my bag to call out on the off chance it'd lead to me pulling it out from its cacaphanous prison of loose change and thudding books. Hoping that I would talk on it when an unwitting victim would call back. It certainly felt that way when I knew -- DAMMIT, KNEW -- that I had put the key lock on yet the "recently dialed" list would betray to me the futility of it all.

Well, no more! For now, I have a flip phone. That's right. Fuck you old phone. I have finally triumphed over the phone tried so hard and failed to bring me out of me "awkwardness on the phone" shell.

...Yet I fear, that maybe, one night, before going to bed I will look over the call logs of my new phone and find myself chilled to the bone at the phantom numbers that I have never called silently shine onto my horrified visage. The eldritch horror of the powerful hunger from the phone long laid to rest.

Current annoyance

I got an idea to do something further akin to the 'wounded heart' ones I had done previously. To help refresh your memory, I mean this one and this one. Anyhow, I got the idea to reinterpret the theme (I like the head tilt of the second one) into something more like saint iconography. You know, where you see the saint shining from within, usually depicted with their method of death or torture...which means a lot of paintings of chicks with their breasts on the platter or holding eyes or something.

So my annoyance at the moment? I'm having a hard time getting the beatific expression. It's annoying me...I'm gonna put down the pencil and try it again later.