Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thrasing Through the Library's Compact Disc Collection

One of my most favoritest things to do when I am home is go through my local library's new acquisitions for the months I've been at school. I search their catalogue for artists currently on my radar, old and new, and place about 35 holds, fingers crossed for what gets in before I depart.

We have a lovely relationship, my library and I. They provide me with music. I provide them with quick-handed re-shelving of all pop/rock materials, in an attempt to get LL Cool Jay as far away as possible from Los Lonely Boys as I can, and Snow Patrol free from the vicinity of Soulja Boy, even if it is only for the few moments before the librarian notices what I'm doing and attempts to put them back in whatever God-forsaken system they think is musical organization. You cannot slap anything that isn't Beethoven with a "Pop/Rock" sticker and get away with it! PEOPLE.

I currently have 18 albums out, some requested, some happened upon, some lucky draws from the back shelf. They arrived in my possession thus:

Snow Patrol, "Eyes Open" (2006) - I've always loved these guys, and this summer a friend rekindled my love for them through the song "Make This Go On Forever." I've checked out this album before, but it must have been lost in the deep throws of my musical collection, because it doesn't appear in my library anymore. So it's a "replacement" acquisition.

Snow Patrol, "Final Straw" (2003) - Streaming their recently released "Up To Now" retrospective has delighted me, and I've decided to delve into their earlier work. The song "Chocolate," which opens the new album, is growing on me in fine fashion.

Phantom Planet, "Raise the Dead" (2008) - Three words: "Do the Panic." I spent the summer playing the tambourine to this song while a friend played guitar as we both mumbled our way through this song, neither of us really knowing the lyrics to the verses. But there is nothing so fulfilling as belting "BA ba ba, BA ba SHADOOBEE DOO!"

Mute Math "Armistice" (2009) - Loved these guys' first album. Haven't listened to the new one yet. But I am a sucker for rock soundscapes.

Boys Like Girls "Love Drunk" (2009) - Not my typical stash, but I've got a friend who's really into the pop-punk, emo scene, and sometimes all you really wanna do is blast some high-school drama and sing along, Good Charlotte style.

Frightened Rabbit "The Midnight Organ Fight" - There is no year next to the copyright in this disc jacket. Isn't that illegal? Anyways, four of these guys' songs were part of a music dump one friend unloaded on my computer a few months back. I heard the sing "Keep Yourself Warm" and was hooked. There is just something addicting about these kids. WARNING: DO NOT LISTEN TO WHILST STUDYING FOR FINALS, OR YOU MAY ACCIDENTALLY PURCHASE THEIR ENTIRE DISCOGRAPHY. (I myself did not do this, but I wasn't the only one to receive the music dump.)

Jose Gonzalez, "Veneer" (2006) - This guy got famous for the song "Heartbeats" being used in pretty much every indie venue...ever. It's a great song.

Joze Gonzales, "In Our Nature"(2007) - These fairly identical albums (just look at the covers) are hard to pick between, but I would argue the track "Teardrop" makes this one the winner, and not just because it's an acoustic version of the "House" opening credit theme, originally done by Massive Attack.

The Ting Tings, "We Started Nothing" (2008) - I spent a summer working in Gap, experiencing the dulcet tones of "That's Not My Name" on the 50 song playlist. Then the Rockies used that very song for their mid-inning vid of baseball bloopers from around the country. I caved.

Switchfoot, "Hello Hurricane" (2009) - Again, a friend this summer re-turned me onto these blokes, mostly with the songs "This Is Your Life," "Dare You To Move" and the surprise hit in my heart, an acoustic version of "Stars." I have a great desire to revisit their work, but this new offering should hold some gems.

Oasis, "Dig Out Your Soul" (2008) - After four months in the Yook, I've developed a fondness for them Brits, and their tunes. Though this album doesn't have their airwave-overwhelming hit "Wonderwall" or anthemic "Champagne Supernova," the most recent album should be a good trip, right?

The Starting Line, "Direction" (2007) - I know nothing about these kids. The cover looks promising. Indie-pop? Rhapsody has them listed as pop-punk. This is actually how I find most of my beloved bands - picked up their album on a whim at the library, decided to give it a spin.

My Morning Jacket, "Evil Urges" (2008) - A friend in high school used one of their lyrics as her senior quote. It was so depressing it got edited out. Intrigued, I've rented them out for the evening, as it were.

The Killers, "Day and Age" (2008) - I'm a massive fan of "Sam's Town" and a lukewarm supporter of "Hot Fuss." "Sawdust" is pretty hit or miss. But about a month ago I had dinner with a guy who swears by the Killers, and through the course of the evening we went through every. single. album. He didn't buy my reasoning that "are we dancer?" isn't proper grammar.

Skillet, "Awake" (2009) - There is something just so doggone PLEASING about heavy metal for Jesus. You feel pissed and holy at the same time. I enjoyed their last album, and I was pleased to run into this one on the racks.

Paramore, "The Final Riot!" (2008) - I enjoyed the album "Riot!" as much as the next indie-but-I'll-listen-to-your-emo-music-if-you-really-want-me-to rocker, and in my experience, the live stuff is always better than the studio stuff. You have to know what's going on (i.e., what the studio stuff sounds like), but live music is so much more rewarding, even if it's recorded. (Oxymoron much?) Music was meant to be live, people!

Phantom Planet, "The Guest" (2003) - I may be overkilling in this band's department, but I like to run the gamut of offering. 2003 was AGES ago, man!

Nora Jones, "The Fall" (2009) - Mainstream is mainstream for a reason. Would I like Regina over Nora? Yes. Will I listen to Nora anyway? Yes.

And there you have it. Thus are the interworkings of mine brain. In other news, I'm hungry, and I haven't been properly hungry for about five days. It's a nice feeling. But I'ma gonna go eat something. Cheers, y'all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Avatar: Or, You Cannot Buy Me With Floating, Flourescent Jellifish

Last night I went to see Avatar. This is after Alby both texted and posted on my facebook wall (multimple times): GO SEE AVATAR. GO SEE AVATAR. (etc.) So my little bro and I buckled down and went.

Unfortunately, we had to see it in 2D, because our theater of choice is not yet equipped with 3D apparati, and the theater that is has a history of being sold out for everything ever. So we didn't see it in super-shmancy-pancy 3D, which is probably why the movie left me feeling completely unfulfilled. Without effects to fall back on, the story was a flop (or, as one before me put it, Dances With Wolves...IN SPACE!!). Now I LUV me some Costner stache, but the dialogue in Avatar is so basic, by the third act I was laughing out loud at the real whoppers. I'm planning on seeing it again in 3D with mon pere, but as it stands, I don't think any amount of "full world emmersion" can salvage the elementary state of the writing.

If you would like the film COMPLETELY SPOILED FOR YOU (not that it won't happen anyway), here's my condensed version:

Generic Hero I-Haven’t-Found-Myself-Yet Marine (Good): Hello, I’m a paraplegic ex-marine with a dead twin brother *pity pity pity sprinkles*


Sigourney Weaver: I’m Sigourney Weaver. I went to Stanford, class of 1972. *points at shirt* Did you get it?

The Man: OH NO! We must harvest unobtani-adamanti-wonderflonium for MONEY! And the indigenous population is all that stands between us and MONEY! Because as The Corporate Man, All I ever want is MONEY!! I’M SO ORIGINAL!!!!

Native Population: But oh! I will represent everyone from Native Americans to Iraq! I shall be used to make a comment on everything from the War on Terror to Global Warming! Don’t worry, they will be so overt that you won’t need to bother with thinking! This is mindless entertainment for crying out loud – I’m gonna pump it with “Message” so you feel GOOD about feeling bad when it’s all over.

The Man: Oh no, the natives are in the way!

Bad Marine: Let’s pretend to care about moving them, because all we really wanna do is blow them up no matter what! WITH GUNS OF FIRE! I can’t possibly be a reasonable character because then who would we have to blame?

Good Marine: Hey, I’m kinda falling in love with this indigenous culture that is far more pure and genuine than my own…thank God I’m not a Kevin Costner fan or I might be having déjà vu!

Big Eyed Female Thing: I will represent every ethnicity that isn’t Anglo-American. And I will walk around being “clearly attractive” pretty much naked, but it’s okay because I’m odd enough looking that it won’t bother you. And whenever I feel emotion I will do this: *hacking scream*

Ohh, look! The glowing jellyfish have CHOSEN YOU!! YOU MUST BECOME ONE OF US!!

James Cameron: Now let’s spend 45 minutes flying around and looking at fluorescent plants. Because I’m James Cameron. And I can.


And now we must have military + Big Business versus the gentle, peaceful natives because banal conflict is all we need as an excuse to for an epic battle scene!

Good Marine: I must save the Na'vi. I must save my wife and my newly adopted culture, because I am now enlightened, and therefore everything I do is GOOD and everything opposite of me is BAD and even though I have been created by a culture than thrives on boasting relativity and grey area I have allowed NONE! “I have to take it to the next level.” (Really, James? That was the best line you could come up with?)

Oh, no! Our quasi-Gandalf/Obi-wan is dying and we must SAVE HER! Cue a religious ceremony that includes every type of worship that ISN’T CHRISTIAN.
[Do we really wanna make that comment?]
[Let’s hope they don’t notice.]

Meanwhile, James Horner decides to write a completely original, overtly moving score with ethnic influence. Oh no, how can I convey ethnic influence? “EEEYYYAAAAYOOOAEEEHHHHH” BOOM BOOM “AAAHEEEYYYYYHAAAA” BOOM BOOM BOOM

Bad Marine: Let’s blow a hole so deep in their racial psyche they’ll be reeling too much to fight, or something else that makes me sound impeccably racist. Let’s fight terror with terror, and spoon feed you some more subtext. And for a final comment, let’s foolishly ignore the Energy Of The Trees (even though their science is UNDISPROVABLE and I’m clearly just choosing to ignore it to advance my own business agenda subtext subtext subtext.)

Good Marine: I HAVE THE COOL FLYING BIRD!! I WILL NOW SAVE US ALL!! NOW TO PELENNOR FIEL –oh, wait. That was the other big December blockbuster that we’re trying not to mention lest it inhibit our intended claim on Best Movie Experience Ever.

EPIC BATTLE SCENE AND oh, no, every single auxiliary character is dead. FEEL THE WEIGHT OF THE SITUATION. FEEL IT. FEEL IT.

And now we must come to the final one-on-one between our layered hero (layered – that’s not a stretch at all…) and our villain, who must have burst forth from the womb in a fit of unjustified anger because we certainly don’t have any reason for why he acts the way he does. Oh, wait. He’s the military commander. He’s supposed to be a mindless mongol!

Meanwhile, our heroine is pinned beneath a rhinodactle because we needed to remove her from the situation without downplaying her role as a fully competent warrior.

Oh, no, he’s dying! Can his lady love save the human form she’s never met! CUE CIRCULAR DIALOGUE TO REMIND US THE CENTRAL THEME OF THE FILM! “I…see…you”? Quite appropriate for the film, since really all I got was a feast for my eyeballs.

And now the energy of our feminine God-tree [can we plug for climate change awareness one more time?] transfers his consciousness from his broken human body to the fully realized indigenous one! Open they eyes…open the eyes…CHYESS!! I AM NOW FILLED WITH DEEP SHAME AT MY HURTFUL CULTURE BUT BRIMMING WITH HOPE THAT WE CAN FIX IT – TOGETHER!!! Now let me toss my half eaten popcorn and get back into my SUV. Not to worry – I am now conscious of the pain that I personally caused Native Americans…and the Redwoods.


Well, kids, if this is what it takes to make you “think,” go see it again. And again. So Fox can make the money back (wait, people making money? Didn’t we already establish that that’s BAD?) so they can go back to making movies that don’t make me cringe.