Sunday, August 29, 2010

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Time to lighten up the blog a little, here. Instead of dwelling upon pasts, let's dive into our presents. It occurs to me that in these confusing times there are a few key sensations, objects, moments, concepts... Things that make the world a better place. Things that inhabit us, that drive us, that make us happy. What am I into, these days? Let's have a look...

Music: In All Its Various Styles and Forms

I mentioned some time ago how I've been trying to pay more attention to music lately. Not just passively hearing but actively listening to every subtle lyric written, nuance played and note sung. A good set of headphones can be key, but nothing beats just lying back in a comfortable, outstretched position and hearing a low moaning saxophone, rumbling team of drums or angelic vocal tone. Be it Chicago blues, an orchestral film score, synth with spoken word or totally-awesome 80's, it's all food for the ears. Especially on vinyl. More on that, soon...

Good Readin'
Haruki Murakami (whom I've mentioned plenty, already), Jonathan Lethem, David Mamet, Paul Auster, Takeshi Kitano, Elmore Leonard, John Updike. These are a few of the authors whose work I've accumulated over the last year or so. Though the time of accumulating the above that was required is nothing compared to the time needed to actually complete the task of actually reading them, the work is always worth the wait and effort. No Sleep Till Wonderland by Boston author Paul Tremblay is currently inhabiting my consciousness. The story of Mark Genevich, a narcoleptic PI in South Boston is alternately sad, amusing, dark and experimental. This volume is the second in a series, following the wonderful The Little Sleep. I hope for many more.

Bed, Bath and Beyond
Yeah, yeah. Go ahead and giggle. I'm as surprised as you are. For a guy who has never actually owned a home and is starting to wonder if he ever will, I've become curiously interested in... well, for lack of a better term, "growing up." Tired of living like a college kid, the way I have for so long, I've become more interested in flow and design. From properly purchased clothes hangers (instead of stealing them from laundromats), new pillowcases and pillow covers (the idea of a "cover" under a "case" was new to me), to a magnetic reminder board, cedar blocks and what might be one of the greatest inventions of all-time: a self-frosting drink mug... every journey is a new step into a larger world. No longer embarrassed of my immediate environment (my room, that is), I am currently proud of its seamless organization and emotional comfort. And, as Henry Rollins has said about this very topic, I'm shocked to find that I might actually "have taste." Though I did have to ask my buddy Awesome Jen what the deal was with the skirts and sashes in the new bed set. I mean; pillows I don't necessarily use? Insanity.
A terrific website, updated often, that offers great work by graphic artists around the world regarding an infinity of subjects. Many of them are short runs of a dozen or two and typically they all feature links to the personal sites of the individual artists. While I have yet to actually buy anything from the site, I consider it a daily necessity to visit this wondrous virtual gallery.

Trader Joe's
Chicken fried rice. Sushi party platters. Yellow corn chips and chunky salsa. Opera Cake. Even the effing ketchup is noticeably great. And it's a nine minute walk away. Awwww yeah.

"Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper
Though I'd unknowingly seen the image and its many parodies over the years, it wasn't until seeing the Todd Haynes film Far From Heaven some time ago that I'd heard the artist's name. Spectacularly designed and shot with his late-period aesthetic cited as a primary influence, the film led me to a marked-down coffee-table book of Hopper's life work. I'd always been in love with night scenes on city streets, both in my own photography and in my travels. Only recently did I reconnect with Nighthawks as I realized that the painting's greatness had permeated so many other facets of art, including the short story The Killers by Ernest Hemingway and the Tom Waits album Nighthawks at the Diner. Finally securing a decent print of the 1942 classic not one week ago, I've also picked up a little tome called Staying Up Much Too Late by Gordon Thiessen, which is said to be "a personal meditation on Hopper's most famous painting." Very much looking forward to losing some sleep with that one. On a related note: I'm also liking Georgia O'Keefe's paintings of New York City. Speaking of which...

Autumn in NYC
I'm counting the days. :)

What about you
? What are you into, right now?

Theatrical Reviews
The Big Lebowski (1998) ****
Beverly Hills Cop (1984) ****
Die Hard (1988) ****
The Girl Who Played With Fire ***1/2
Inception ***1/2

DVD/Home Video
Twin Peaks: The Complete Series ****
Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (Japan) ****
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence ****
The Fantastic Mr. Fox ****
Possible Films 2 (Hal Hartley) ***1/2
Wall-E ***1/2
Bitch Slap ***
Bad Guys **1/2
Assault Girls (Japan) **

The Little Sleep (Paul Tremblay) ***1/2

Music/Spoken Word
Stax: 50th Anniversary Celebration ****
Yoko Kanno: Space Bio Charge ****
Tom Waits: Nighthawks in the Studio (1976, Radio Broadcast) ***1/2
Darker Than Black (score by Yoko Kanno) ***1/2
Inception (score by Hans Zimmer) ***1/2
Henry Rollins: Everything ***1/2
Morphine: At Your Service ***1/2
The Last Airbender (score by James Newton Howard) ***
Bobby Byrd: On The Move ***