Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No Talking Tuesday # 104

My first Tuesday in Greece.
Working in a bookstore,
nodding and pointing to direct Germans, Spaniards, English/Americans, Italians, french
customers to their respective book sections.
Not that I could have done much more had I been talking.

The List:

I'm with Atlantis

It's tough because I've only
really ever read well known
authors, mostly of the
old Russian variety

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Greetings From Greece

After 40+ hours of traveling via car, subway, planes, shuttle, ferry, buses and walking, I finally arrived in Oia, a small cliff-side town on the island of Santorini in Greece. I'm staying at a bookstore owned by friends of friends, and in exchange for my boarding and food stipend, I help run the store with a few others who come and go between travels. I'll be here for the next six weeks, and so far my days have consisted of being molested by the bookstore cat and kitten, eating delicious Greek food, talking to travelers and exploring the island. The bookstore itself is incredible, built like some ten year old's tree fort-esque fantasy. Case in point, I sleep in a loft bed hidden behind a pair of hinged bookshelves.

Yesterday I felt I finally settled into my new island life, when I took the day to hike out to a beach. I had gotten the inside scoop about a great beach known mostly to the locals that promised to be incredible. Having grown up in a beach town myself I'm always looking to discover prime examples during my travels abroad.

I set out on foot for a five mile hike along rocky sea side cliffs and through beautiful mountain ensconced countrysides. I really wasn't prepared for how beautiful the landscape was. And was lost in a whirlwind of aesthetic impressions and hypnotizing vistas.

After a couple hours I finally arrived at the beach, there was no one else but me and the smashing waves and dark earth. I undressed and walked into the warm water. The waves thrashed violently from the stiff winds, sending towers of spray shooting up against black rocks. I swam past the shore break and floated among the muted calm of the swelling ocean. Of course I couldn't leave until I appeased ten year old Ali and body surfed a few of the larger waves.

The walk back was soaked in the light of a beautiful sky swallowing sunset, appreciated over a bowl of fish soup from a restful outdoor cafe. I think it might be curious to point out that throughout the entire day of walking and swimming I had the Grizzly Bear song Knife stuck in my head.

Grizzly Bear - Knife

Walking down the black pebbled beach and across the grassy country roads singing it out loud to myself.

The walks, beach, and cafe were all similarly deserted of people other than the squat smiling old woman who served my soup, the only other company I had during my outing was the occasional barking dog.

On the way back a group of stray dogs on the road rushed towards me barking and snarling. The day of walking and swimming had left me far too peaceful and aesthetically overwhelmed to feel anything close to fear or anger, and I met their blood thirsty charge with a loud shout in a excited playful tone "Pouch! Come here!" while bending down and slapping my thighs. Immediately their snarling faces turned to confused stares and after an obligatory sniff or two, were on their way.

Further on I was struck by how the setting sun played off the architecture of a small house along the road. I began setting up a shot with my camera and noticed behind me, far up a driveway, a German Shepard eying me with interest. My sight then fell across a sign on the front gate in Greek showing a dog, and under it fierce looking red letters foretelling danger. I thought him far enough away that I had time to react should he start barking and running towards me, and continued setting up my shot. When I came away from the viewfinder to pull the dark slide, I saw with muted surprise that the dog was lying by my feet. I took the shot and nervously put my camera back in my bag. I was about to leave when I noticed the calm endearing manner with which he was laying, watching me, and I felt a rare urge to pet him. Having always had bad luck with dogs however I didn't want to risk moving my hand towards his face only to find him suddenly burst out into snarls and sharp teeth. So I poured some water from my bottle into my hand for him to drink. He didn't understand so I drank it myself and poured another. He figured it out and came over to lap the water from my cupped palm. He drank with such relish I poured another. When he finished he continued licking all over my hand, I considered giving him more and found myself thinking how this small bottle of water is all I had to stay hydrated for a ten mile walk and ocean swim and found myself begrudging him any more. I immediately felt ashamed of my selfishness and gave him the rest. I sat down to put my socks and shoes on my feet since they dried from the walk. Having already won over his affections with the water, my new friend was delighted to have me sitting down on his level and started wrestling me with kisses and hugs. My previous dog prejudice melted under his enthusiastic delight and I pet him as the occasional car passed with drivers smiling over seeing a young man siting on the grass, petting a dog, alongside an abandoned country road.

When I finally got up to leave a panic seized him and he desperately jumped up pawing me, and lightly biting on my bag and hands to keep me longer. I was annoyed by the bites and repeated "No" and walked away faster. When it was clear I wasn't going to stay, he turned back and I watched with enormous sympathy as he slinked back home by himself. I suddenly had a revelation. The dog was me, reflected back with startling symbolic clarity. Leaping and biting to hold on, out of frustration and loneliness, not wanting to let go a connection waited for so long. Like that dog I need to learn how to let go gracefully. Besides who knows if I might someday happen down that same road, maybe then I'll have something more than a handful of water and five minutes of affection to spare. But even during this sentimental reverie my inner cynic (realist?) answered with those well known words:

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I guess we all have a beach or a bed to get to, biting on in the mean time to transient pleasures. It's sad when you have to give up what you've longed for so long. But what's the alternative? To suffer through desire, closing your eyes to life, praying to not feel or want? No, I have to take pleasure where I can find it, and then when it's time, let it pass.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

No Talking Tuesday # 103

The List:

i can also just fade the vector node in later
after the weird part it would be 25 frames or so later so about a second

also look at the two videos and let me know if you think they look crappy
as far as the red effect etc.
they are in that folder with 9100etc.
in the movie history


so does this mean that i'm also
fading in from nothing in H1

it's fine now as far as the beginning issues
but if you think the close up parts
like the columns and the front face
that you noticed then yes,
but i'm not sure its worth it

i don't know what your saying

first just supervise the swapping out of the vector thing

are you sure it doesn't look good?
it's unintentional
but maybe we can pass it off like its cool?

if we don't like it
i can just fade it out a second earlier

alright well if you re render let me know

if i move the dissolve forward in the time line
so it doesn't pop the colored islands
wont be on long enough to make sense,
we need more frames in the beginning,
whatever was there before should be fine,
why render less frames?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Six Month Stickies # 4
March'09 - September '09

As usual the tracks of music that got stuck in my head in the last six months, in order.
I noticed this sticky list is more lyrically focused than usual.
Maybe my blindness to lyrical content in a song is a default I'm retiring.

* Click image to download a .rar of the compilation:

Ghostland Observatory - Stranger Lover

I imagine a gaggle of twenty somethings spending a night on the town in a big city,
tumbling over each other in subway cars and breaking into impromptu pillow fights with couch cushions
and promptly getting kicked out of whatever slick martini lounge they tore through.

Chairlift - Bruises

This was the central song in the soundtrack to my Parisian romance.
Highly recommend listening while gently smooching a cute Austrian girl,
with the window open looking out over a chilly spring afternoon in Paris.

Fever Ray

I drowned myself in this album, from the first listen, on repeat for a month.
Something about the unique tone and mood of this album struck a chord with me
and satisfied a long dormant craving I didn't know I had.

Fever Ray - If I Had A Heart

Dangling feet from window frame
Will I ever ever reach the floor?
More, give me more, give me more

Crushed and filled with all I found underneath and inside
Just to come around
More, give me more, give me more

There see something profound in that verse.
I can’t explain why,
but there is something going on in this song and in that verse in particular that overwhelms me.

Though I do prefer to pretend she's singing:
(...) with all I found underneath and inside out

Fever Ray - Triangle Walks

A delicious mix of electronic instrumentation with quasi island/jungle connotations,
give this song a more visceral underpinning,
imbuing it with a very appropriate mix of earthy mystery and engaging darkness.
Wow what a pretentious sentence!
But it accurately describes how a feel about this song!

Fever Ray - Coconut

I love the calm rhythmic pulsing,
with the subtle echoes to create space
and yawning strings playing over top for lift.

Elton John - Daniel

I heard this song play in a store in New York,
and when I got back to California I suddenly felt a desperate craving for it.
I don’t know what kind of weird suggestive voodoo they practice in New York
but if it causes me to become randomly obsessed with Elton John songs,
then I wish they would stop it.
There is something really engaging about the awkwardly present exposition
in what we're believed to be an address to his brother.
Like why would you say to your own brother: "Daniel my brother, you're older than me."
In any case irony and confusion aside, I genuinely like this song,
I just wish there were more Elton John songs like this for me to grab on to.

Kate Bush - Breathing

I’m not sure if I already went into my deep love of Kate Bush in one of my previous sticky lists,
but suffice to say she is up there with Brian Eno as an artist who really can’t do wrong in my book.
I have such an enormous amount of respect for her and her work I can’t even begin to get into it here.
This song is a good example of her talents,
there is so much going on it’s easy to not catch all the great song writing choices constantly being made,
and immaculately executed,
but it’s that very reason Kate Bush songs reveal themselves in new ways even after many listens.

The Radio Dept. - Your Father

I like this song for its quirky lazy wistfulness.
The languid guitar, peppery drums,
all the various plucky jangly sounds sparking around like fireflies.

Sticky point:
We were only kids when we first laid eyes on each other

I think the song really comes together with that line.
Something about it really cuts through me.

Belle & Sebastian - Sukie In The Graveyard

This is why I like Belle & Sebastian.
Angsty schoolyard quirky rock for people who don’t take their melodrama too seriously.

Sticky points:

She had a slut slave and his name was Dave
She said ‘Be my photo bitch and I'll make you rich'
He didn't believe her but the boy revered her

She had an A1 body and a face to match
She didn't have money, she didn't have cash

Elliot smith

I go through distinct Elliot Smith fazes every couple years.
This time it came back around centered around a few songs I had previously overlooked.
I find myself with a new found appreciation for how effective his understated bass lines work
and for his lyrical content, which I had previously not given him much credit for.

Elliott Smith - Baby Britain

Sticky point (1:36):

You've got a look in your eye when you're saying goodbye
Like you want to say hi

I don’t know why but that line really cuts through my cynicism
and creates thick and satisfying poignancy.
He has a real gift for expression beautifully simple sentiments like this.

Elliott Smith - Independence Day

Another beautifully simple sentiment.
Expressed exactly right (1:54):

Everybody knows
Everybody knows
You only live a day
But it’s brilliant anyway

The Books - Enjoy Your Worries, You May Never Have Them Again

The books are right on the line of respectively original/unexpected musicality and straight noisy nonsense.
But I really feel that their talents work wonderfully in this track.
Everything is in perfect balance.

But really what makes this track special is the Jewish woman's monologue and the inspired moment at the end:

1:58 – 2:02

That moments sends shivers up my spine in all the right ways.

Blonde Redhead - Elephant Woman

Blonde redhead is a perfect example of one of the bands I loved to listen to when I was in college
but for whatever reason have little to no interest to hear again.
At least not until a friend put this song on a mix she made for me.
Even though I had heard it many times before,
something new opened the song up to me and I listened to it with relish,
it even inspired me to write a short piece/variation on some of the lyrics:

Feed me from your heart
cause an accident unfortunate
tear myself through you
my loose arms snag on your sharp brambles
i shed no tears for broken me.

*There is a tip of the hat to my favorite Microphones song if you can spot it.

The Knife - Heartbeats

Another song off my friends mix that infected me.

The Postal Service - Nothing Better

The postal service is another example of one of my listen-in-college-only bands.
But suddenly one day I woke up with this song stuck in my head.
Luckily it didn’t last long.

Elliott Smith - Punch and Judy

Not much to say about this song. Just nice and delicately handled.

Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun

I heard this Cyndi Lauper song in a friend's car driving down to L.A.
She’s a composer and was dissecting the anatomy of Cyndi Lauper's voice.
Remarking that the shivering duel note quality of the ways she sings “Girls”
is actually a rather difficult thing to pull off.
Hearing a composer applaud Cindy Laupers technique disarmed the unexamined prejudice I always had against her
as a simple pop star tied to a specific time in pop culture.
And it wasn’t until months later that this dormant new found respect for her as a artist
broke the surface and I suddenly felt the need to listen to this song.
I was in Berlin at the time and it rather confused my friend to see me
suffering through sudden Cyndi Lauper cravings.
After the obligatory teasing, she actually turned me onto her favorite Cyndi Lauper song
which wasted no time in becoming the next song on my sticky list.

Cyndi Lauper - When You Were Mine

My friend took advantage of my weakened state to infect me with this choice Lauper song.
Now I vaguely associate Cyndi Lauper with her and Berlin, which is kind of an awkward combo.

Silver Jews - Smith & Jones Forever

Another song that got stuck in my head while in Berlin.
The seed was planted while I was still in California and began listening to Silver Jews,
but broke out in full force during breakfast one morning
before a long day of walking through stern, stoic German streets.
A good fit.

Sticky points:

Smith and Jones forever
Smith and Jones forever
Smith and Jones
forever together forever and ever
together forever and ever.

Mew - Introducing Palace Players

Mew is one of the few bands in my music library that sound like nothing else in my library.
This track of their new EP is a perfect example.
I can’t really imagine any other band writing this song.
Such a well handled off beat,
and the way it tumbles into the release at the one minute mark
sends energy coursing through my body each time I hear it.

Vivaldi - Stabat Mater RV.621 - 1. Stabat Mater

I’m a sucker for a composer who knows his way around strings and voices.
And Vivaldi is definitely one of them.
This is probably my favorite piece by him.
For me it’s all about 2:00 – 2:30
I can say without hesitation that 30 seconds worth of music affects me deeper than almost anything I’ve ever heard.
When I listen to Vivaldi at work on my headphones, and I get to the two minute mark,
I can’t help but shut my eyes and whimper like a little baby.
I come out the other side hoping no one at work saw me during my black out time
when I’m hidden from the world and lost in the music.

The Knife - A lung

Though I shouldn’t be surprised after how obsessed I got with the fever ray album,
that I should fall so deep into a knife song.
I mean I like the song and everything,
I'm just not sure why I felt the need to listen exclusively to it
and nothing else straight for three days,
racking up over fifty consecutive track plays.
I mean isn't that kind of demented?

Anyway click here if you want the proof.

The White Stripes

I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder about The White Stripes
as I saw them as an affront to The Black Keys
who I always felt were a much stronger though much less celebrated band.

Still for whatever reason I heard a couple white stripes songs in passing
and they jingled around in my head enough to encourage me to get their discography.
I actually ended up liking many more of the songs than I would have guessed.
These were the ones that especially infected me.
Right around the time crunch time arrived on a film I was working on,
so I spent many a long night rocking out to these sharp guitar licks and crashing cymbals until the early morning.

The White Stripes - Ball and Biscuit

This song really builds up well to it’s release points.
At each one I’m inspired to jump into the air and break out into my little nerd jig
which involves flailing elbows and pained lunges.

The White Stripes - I'm Slowly Turning Into You

Not much to say about this song.
Just ass shacking rock that feels good.

The White Stripes - A Martyr For My Love For You

While the straight ahead narration is cute the first time,
it does get old on repeated listens.
Still it didn’t stop it from getting stuck in my head.

The White Stripes - The Denial Twist

Far too relevant to my romantic life currently.
Got to work on that.

The Byrds - You Ain't Going Nowhere

I made it a goal to delve into country music recently.
I solicited a few recommendations from knowledgeable friends,
and this early cross over country song from The Byrds was the first to infect me.
I won’t even bother enumerating all the things this song does right.
I just like everything about it.

Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights

This song got stuck in my head after two separate and non related occasions
people I was hanging out with showed me the youtube video for this song for the purpose of laughing at it,
as they thought it was obvious that her dancing and performance etc. were awkward and ridiculous.

But I of course found it to be like all of her work,
namely amazing and likewise found her dancing a perfect fit for the song and the song itself brilliant.
Listening to Kate bush reminds me of when I eat carrots: I just feel good afterward.


Six Month Stickies # 3
Six Month Stickies # 2
Six Month Stickies # 1

Friday, September 11, 2009

No Talking Tuesday # 102

No list nothing special to report.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Oh my!
I just heard a bunch of chirpy gargle-ish sounds coming from the backyard at my parents place
and what do I see when I go to the window but two feisty raccoons
in the middle of making whoopy!

At first they were alarmed at my sudden appearance
and one of them defied evolution by stranding straight up on his hind legs (like it aint no thang)
and checked me out for a good minute,
then they sort of nervously shuffled around the plum tree
I stayed still long enough at the window for them to regain confidence and they went back at it.

Raccoon love looks fun!
It's mostly tumbling around, chirping, ear nibbling, wrestling,
running around, chasing and being chased.
Actually it sort of reminds me of my current love life... But in raccoon form.

Oh man!
Now they climbed the fountain and are drinking water and splashing each other!
That must be refreshing after so much Raccoon sex!
These raccoons are totally making themselves at home in my parent's backyard,
god bless their little souls!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Piano Improvisation # 1

Relaxing at my parents house before another long stint of traveling.
Which means I'm back to having daily face time with their piano.

Spurred on by my crappy adventures recording "Bassy Wheezy"
I thought I would use the built in mic on my laptop
to record some of the piano improvisations I do.

Here is about six minutes of me riffing on a obnoxiously simple theme
I woke up with this morning.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

No Talking Tuesday # 101

I made a mistake today!
Frigg all over me!

Half way through I just totally spaced and said: "Hey"
to get my roommates attention.
(I wanted to give him some iced coffee I had just made.)

He realized my mistake before I did and replied:
"Hey now watch it!"
I was still oblivious and replied: "What?"

Then all at once I realized my stupidity
slapped myself on the forehead
and sulked back into my room.

Piano Raccoon

My second attempt to elicit piano based sympathy through the internet.
(First attempt)

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