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Archive for November, 2013

I wish we didn’t need a specified day to remind us of what we’re thankful for. It’s a great day that I always enjoy, spending time with friends and family, eating lots of tasty edibles, and relaxing. I get caught up in the task driven world and worry obsessively about my to do list. I wrote one down today and had to stop at ten so I don’t completely freak myself out.

My sleep is cut short because of this list. Not consciously but unconsciously. Falling asleep hasn’t been a problem in years. It’s the waking up 4-6 hours later that gets frustrating. True I can get a bit more done during the day but lots of that time is spent fighting off fatigue and brain fuzz. 

I realize that while I wish we didn’t need this day, I am one of the people who needs it, to remind myself of what I have instead of the things I desire. Instead of focusing on things I need to accomplish, I’ll focus on the things I have and appreciate them for what they are. Hopefully, I’ll sleep a little better.

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It’s strange. I’ve never asked so much for people to pay attention to me. Every time I publish a post or ask people to listen to my music, it feels so unlike me it’s scary. But the right thing to do at the same time.

I’ve gotten a glimpse of a world where I ask and get no response. It’s empty and void of life. It’s lonely and desolate. It’s what Gravity was all about. Putting out creative content has been my way of initiating contact, putting my views and talents into the universe, hoping they connect with people. My satellites searching for alien life.

But, that’s not how to connect. Relationships aren’t signals sent out in hopes living beings receive it. They’re more like puzzle pieces fitting together. Those little tabs and blanks need each other. Both are giving something the other needs and when they move, they move together. They work together, adding piece after piece until you get a picture that none of them could accomplish on its own.

I used to believe this kind of thinking was selfish and greedy. I remember hearing about the Dale Carnegie book How To Win Friends and Influence People and thinking how underhanded and conniving it seemed. It just sounded like manipulation to me.

But, it teaches you how to connect with people and how to be a better friend, or at least how to get people to care about you. I’ve never really tried to get people to care about me and I’ve lost some good relationships because of that. I don’t want to do that anymore.

Putting together this record and depending on the people who helped make it, has really made me reevaluate how I relate with others. I’m still working through these issues and I’m hoping anyone who reads this will be patient with me. I do care. I’m just slow to change.

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I specifically wanted to watch this film at Cinebarre, an over 21 theater that serves booze and food while you watch. It’s the douch-hole in me that wanted to watch starving people fight for their lives while I stuff my face with chicken strips and fried pickles. I’ve never felt more like a villain. I was cosplaying as one of the capital party goers in the film! I didn’t go as far as puking for the sole reason of eating more, like some characters in the film but…I…<ahem>…

On to the review!

It took watching a few scenes of this film for me to get into it. Having been a while since watching the first, it took that long to get back into the world of The Hunger Games. That’s a problem many sequels face, especially when continuing the same storyline from the first. Where do you pick the story back up and how much exposition do you give? Films like The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers pull this off really well by injecting a scene from the previous film into the beginning of the next. This reminds the audience where they are and gives a context for the next few scenes, like puzzle pieces fitting together. Other films like Evil Dead 2 give a modified synopsis of the first film, quickly bringing the audience up to speed with everything they need to know so it can be enjoyed by anyone who hasn’t seen the original. I watched Army of Darkness (Evil Dead 3) before I even knew of the other two films and I enjoyed the hell out of it because of this technique.

Catching Fire does have a small nod to the finale of the first film but everything in the beginning feels like jumping into the middle of a word jumble without knowing what to look for. And I’ve read the books so I knew what to look for.

That being said, once it got going, the film was enjoyable for the teen melodrama that it is. Things move more into the adult realm, however, as the Hunger Games becomes more of a backdrop for revolution and the heroes from the first film are thrust into it unaware. The dystopian world of the first film is there but it isn’t really expanded on, despite seeing more of the districts in this world. I don’t know why that’s so. We see more of reluctant heroine Katniss Everdeen’s home district, which looks great in a very bleak and hopeless way, and people from some of the other districts but those are restricted to one compound and the land outside of that is nowhere to be seen. These compounds could just be public viewing areas with a farmer’s market next door for all we know. The only evidence that this is a dystopian world is the presence of the capital’s peacekeepers who viciously beat anyone who even gesture anything hinting at revolt. Just like 1984‘s Ministry of Love causes pain to any who don’t comply, so do the peacekeepers. I like this aspect of the story just as I like most dystopian oppression stories and I think it worked to create a scene of dread over the entire film.

The only other glaring problem with this is the end, which really wasn’t an end. It was a setup for the next film which will be split up into two. I knew it would end on the unfinished cadence it did but me girlfriend looked at me and asked “Really?” That sums it up. It’s a decent film but expect to be in this franchise for the long haul or live through the unsatisfied feeling for the next two years.

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It’s funny how things fit together.

A couple months ago, my girlfriend and I decided to finally get our tickets to the symphony after a year of talking about it. I’ve been several times before but she hadn’t been to the Seattle Symphony or Benaroya Hall. I’m not good at placing names to the music. That’s always been difficult for me. People too. I’ve had numerous incidents where I tiptoe around the issue when I’m talking with someone I know but have forgotten their name and one very embarrassing moment when introducing a group of people and forgetting one of their names. Didn’t really hear from her much after that…

So, as we’re going down the list of pieces the symphony will be performing and listening to the short samples provided, we decide on Verdi’s Requiem. We also decide to not look it up on youtube so it will be more of a surprise and fresh experience when we go.

Last night we went and I got a fun surprise. The musicians started the “Dies Irae” movement of the piece and I was blown away. It’s a great piece and they played it wonderfully but the reason I was blown away was that it was featured in the opening credits of Battle Royale, which I wrote about on Friday. 

Funny how these things flutter around the brain then come together at points you least expect.

Here’s a link to a great BBC Symphony Orchestra performance. 34:50 is my favorite section.

As great as this performance is, it doesn’t compare to being there in the same room as the musicians. For me, I tend to associate this type of orchestral music with movies and video games, as if it’s something that doesn’t really exist in the real world. I think for many of us, this is the first, and sometimes only, way we experience this kind of music. It’s background and is only meant to embellish what we are watching. By going to a concert hall and having nothing else to focus on but the musicians and performers, the music is suddenly in the spotlight and the feeling is otherworldly. Watching everyday people like you and me perform such complicated and sophisticated pieces is humbling and inspiring. If you haven’t been, I highly suggest it. It’s a much different experience than listening to the same music on a cd.

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I’m excited about the new Hunger Games film opening this week. The books (minus most of the third and final) were great experiences, one read, the others listened to, enough that I was looking forward to the films. They had two concepts that I love: a dystopian future and a group of people forced to fight to the death. The former I grew to love in college with novels like 1984 and Brave New World and the latter from 80’s action movies like Predator and Friday the 13thThe Hunger Games includes both of these elements with an added twist: the combatants are young adults. 12-18 year old boys and girls that fight to the death and televised for the entire country. It’s a chilling thought but fascinating all the same. After all, young people go through this on a regular basis though not to the violent ends the film portrays. 

The book and film centers around Katniss Everdeen, a teenage girl from the poorest district of North American nation Panem, who, through an act of mercy, volunteers to enter the Hunger Games. The plot follows her from her home to the capital where the poorness of her district is magnified by the gluttony and glitz of the big city, before throwing her into the child on child battle. Both are paced well and are similar enough to each other with small omissions here and there. The only thing I found annoying about the film was the handheld camera work around Katniss’s home and the battle. I know what they were going for but it felt very on-the-nose for me. Other than that, the film worked well enough as an action/adventure story.

While having kids and young adults kill each other for sport hasn’t been this popular in America since Lord of the FliesBattle Royale from Japan has been around for almost twenty years and is just as, if not more disturbing, than the high profile film being released this weekend. 

I’ve seen the Battle Royale movies, read the novel and read the manga and they were all good in their own way with the manga probably being the most disturbing. Seeing cherubic faces cut up and dispatched in the most brutal ways really sticks with you. Where the film with real actors was marred by questionable effects and acting, the manga doesn’t have the hang up. Once you buy in, you’re all in where the only break happens when closing one book and picking up the next.

The story is similar to The Hunger Games in that is kids forced to kill each other but there are double the kids which mean double the kills. This also drags out the story a little bit. The film did a quicker job of it because it had to but the novel and manga were able to give each character there own story, which I really liked. 

I’m always fascinated with these stories, which may be why I lean toward horror. There’s always a ‘last man standing’ element to them. Who will survive? Who will be back for the inevitable sequel? It’s a fun narrowing down by chance and instinct. It’s life taken to it’s farthest edges. Survival of the fittest and all that. 

In most of the stories that I’ve mentioned, there’s never any real doubt to the protagonist’s survival. It’s more about the secondary characters you worry about and if the protagonist can save them. Katniss has Peta, Shuya has Noriko, The Terminator has Apollo, etc. That’s where the excitement is for me. Will it be a one person survival or two? Maybe the rare three or four? You hope it’s more since there will always be a likable character death. That’s half the drama of Game of Thrones

I’m anxious to see if Catching Fire is as good as the first movie or the book it’s based on.

I’ve also noticed something with all these movies. All the main killing action takes place in the wilderness. There’s something very primal and raw about all these that set them apart. It’s the absence of order that I think we’re attracted to. While there is to some degree (the Capital, the base, the government), the main crux of each story happens by putting the kids in an environment that the earliest humans would have found themselves in and that seems to be a main drawing point with a lot of stories nowadays. The Walking DeadRevolutionLost, Elysium, etc. all center around a break in the social norm as we know it. They’re all about what humans do when the rules of society are not enforced. This idea has been around for a long time but it seems to be VERY popular now. I think it’s a subconscious, or possibly conscious, desire of getting rid of all the technology and rules that govern our lives from minute to minute. Technology simultaneously makes our lives easier but also invades us to our very core. Google knows what I’m looking for, even if I don’t spell it right! It’s incredible and scary and I think that’s what draws us to these types of stories. We feel that we can’t be rid of tech so we have to live vicariously through these characters who can’t rely on tech. They have only their wits.

Sooo, I rambled a bit there at the end. I’ll now turn off my computer and play Final Fantasy on my phone.

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Suckerfish is ready for download! – click link

I’ve realized lately that it doesn’t matter if no one listens to this, buys it, downloads it, likes it, shares it, or appreciates it.

I love it. I’m very proud of it. I’m extremely grateful to everyone who had a hand in making it, everyone who inspired it, and everyone who supported it.

While I invented characters and plot lines, and changed some lyrics to accommodate the story, this is a very personal record for me. All of the songs were inspired by someone I know or something that happened and while some of the scenes are fantastical, they all started in a very real and vulnerable place. This makes it equal parts scary to put out there and rewarding that a big part of me is in this and ready for others to experience.

So I’m okay if this album falls on impaired ears. It was something I had to do and I had to put out. And who knows? Maybe enough people will appreciate it and share it with others who appreciate it and it keeps going and going until I hear from someone in Belarus who loves listening to it as much as I do. That would be amazing.

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I’m fine. A human only needs 4 hours of sleep a night, right?

Last night I dreamt I was American Idol, which was being held on a construction site for some reason. When I started singing my song Suckerfish, my voice was high and tinny and I couldn’t seem to control it no matter how much I tried. I was one of those contestants that Simon Cowell just laughs at because they’re so terrible. And he did in his smug way.

I’m not nervous about releasing this album at all. Nope, not me. O_0

 

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