Saturday, January 31, 2009

Something to Do

I am bored. It is Saturday night and I can't think of one thing to do. Yes, I am new in Portland and my social circle isn't as large as I hope it would have been by now. Regardless, I have always prided myself not to always depend on a social circle to enjoy life (read loner). The problem isn't the lack of people to do stuff with, or the lack of actual stuff to do - Portland offers both in abundance.

I think the main issue is that I am at a point in my life when my routine has become mundane. It is a sad state of affairs. I feel like there is a lot missing in my life and I can't seem to find the things to fill that void. I have no idea how this can be remedied in the near future, but bleak few weeks seems like the order of the day.

Well, I don't usually do introspective blogs such as this, but it is 6:12 pm PT, Saturday evening, the skies are clear ... and I need something to do. I am itching.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another Playlist

It's time for another Awesome Playlist - it was long overdue ...

(alphabetical by artist)

Walk This Way by Aerosmith: Because it's a  classic.

A Celebration for the Death of Man ... by Agalloch: Because I like to support local music.

Evolution 1 - The Bio Approach by Alchemist: Because I still haven't heard anybody like them.

In the Beginning by Amorphis: Because it takes me back.

S.S.C / Stand Or Fall by Anthrax: Because I love thrash.

Afterglow by Audrey Horne: Because I still find gems on this album.

Master of Confusion by Blood Ceremony: Because the '60s are, like, back ... man.

Inertias Cave by Cathedral: Because heavy-ass riffin' is awesome.

The Soapmakers by Clutch: Because they are simply brilliant.

Wasted Years by Damone: Because I never realized that this song had this much depth before.

Steal the Crown by Death Angel: Because old school thrash can re-invent itself.

Let Me out  by Electric Mary: Because it has a great groove.

Guardian by Fates Warning: Because I appreciate musicianship.

Lost in Confusion by Graveyard: Because I feel like I am lost in the space-time continuum.

We Are Finding Who We Are by King's X: Because they keep surprising me.

Hold Me up by Live: Because it reminds me how amazing they were once.

Bridge of Death by Manowar: Because they are here to blow our speakers.

Seabeast by Mastodon: Because I need to clean my ear cavity before their new album is out.

Watch the Children Pray by Metal Church: Because they defy all expectations.

Destroyer of Worlds by Onslaught: Because Brits can do thrash too.

Would? by Opeth: Because they do covers better than anyone else.

Enchantment by Paradise Lost: Because I can't stop playing it over and over and over and over again.

Shake Your Blood by Probot: Because Lemmy is singing.

Disco 2000 by Pulp: Because it is possible to write good pop songs.

Wizard of Gore by Rigor Mortis: Because thrash can be a versatile genre ... really.

Slaughter for the Sacrifice God by Skeletonwitch: Because this band deserves to get bigger.

She's Gone by Steelheart: Because he can sing, man.

The Frost-Giant's Daughter by The Sword: Because the riff ain't dead yet.

Swiss Grid by Turing Machine: Because music sometimes speaks louder than words.

Munki by Young Heart Attack: Because I still think these guys are the best band out there.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Globes of the Golden Conviction

The first big awards ceremony of the season is upon us and it's time for Yours Truly to make his predictions. The same rules apply like last year: predictions are only made in categories where I have seen at least three of the nominees. There are two predictions for each category: those who, in my opinion, should win and those who probably will win tonight.

- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: An award-worthy film in every sense of the term. After seeing this film, I am convinced that it will be a one-horse race.
- Frost / Nixon: This also smells of awards - and deservedly so - but it doesn't go that much beyond a filmed play, which could be its downfall.
- The Reader: Holocaust-themed movies always do well in awards, but this one left me a bit short-changed with its early climax.
- Revolutionary Road: A flawless film with flawless performances, but it's not an experience I would like to repeat again - it is too dark to be a winner, unfortunately.
- Slumdog Millionaire: This year's pseudo-Indie hit is the definitive feelgood film with great performances and directing.

My heart says ... Slumdog Millionaire
My brain says ...The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

- Burn After Reading: Coens' are back to their prime and with a big-name cast they delivered a very solid effort.
- Happy-Go-Lucky: You argue whether this film could have been as good without Sally Hawkins, but either way it was a brilliantly written and directed film.
- In Bruges: This refreshingly un-PC comedy ticked all the boxes and was also emotionally satisfying too.
- Mamma Mia!: I haven't seen it and, frankly, I have no intention to see it in the near future.
- Vicky Cristina Barcelona: Sadly, I missed this in the theaters.

My heart says ... Happy-Go-Lucky
My brain says ... Mamma Mia!

- Leonardo DiCaprio for Revolutionary Road: Another solid performance from Leo, where the intensity we have got used to lately is up to 11.
- Frank Langella for Frost / Nixon: It's to Langella's credit that he doesn't succumb to parody, but we are often reminded ourselves that he is playing a real-life character rather than "being" one.
- Sean Penn for Milk: Penn manages to make the role his and hides successfully behind the real person.
- Brad Pitt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Perhaps Pitt's most award-worthy performance that sees him play the different ages of the titular character note-perfect.
- Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler: This isn't  out yet in Portland.

My heart says ... Leonardo DiCaprio
My brain says ... Mickey Rourke

- Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married: I haven't seen this yet.
- Angelina Joley for Changeling: This is the first time I was impressed with Jolie's acting, but she is trying WAY too hard here.
- Meryl Streep for Doubt: Streep, once again, proves that she can nail any role she tackles.
- Kristin Scott Thomas for I've Loved You So Long: A brilliant performance from the ever-so-reliable Thomas, she reaches an emotional intensity unlike anyone I've seen this year. A sublime performance.
- Kate Winslet for Revolutionary Road: Kate Winslet is set to be the most-nominated actress ever if she keeps this up. Another great turn by her.

My heart says ... Kristin Scott Thomas
My brain says ... Kate Winslet

- Tom Cruise for Tropic Thunder: The Cruiser re-iterates what a good actor he can be when given good material. Hilarious.
- Robert Downey, Jr. for Tropic Thunder: The year of the Downey comes to a close and "you people" embraces him with both arms open wide.
- Ralph Fiennes for The Duchess: I haven't seen it, but knowing that Fiennes is always brilliant gives me an idea.
- Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt: "The Greatest Actor of  His Generation" is at it again - his Father Flynn is as enigmatic a character as can be.
- Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight: It's hard to gauge this role with hindsight, but a fantastic performance regardless of what happened.

My heart ... Heath Ledger
My brain says ... Heath Ledger

- Amy Adams for Doubt: Perhaps the best casting decision of the year sees Adams' innocence clash with the unthinkable.
- Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona: Now I really regret not seeing this!
- Viola Davis for Doubt: More a cameo than an actual part, Davis comes thumbs up in the most powerful scene in the film.
- Marisa Tomei for The Wrestler: Tomei as a stripper ... I say "Hell, yeah!!"
- Kate Winslet for The Reader: Winslet is the shining star of this dull drama and she nails the accent too.

My heart says ... Kate Winslet
My brain says ... Viola Davis

- Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire: Boyle is the master of every genre and he comes up victorious from this one too.
- Stephen Daldry for The Reader: Daldry's third feature had everything going for it, except for a more consistent script.
- David Fincher for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: This is a very conventional story in an unconventional director's hand he does a fantastic job of it.
- Ron Howard for Frost / Nixon: Howard is always nominated for his "safe" directorial style and this is no different.
- Sam Mendes for Revolutionary Road: Mendes is at his best once again, he carves out a film out of an unfilmable story.

My heart says ... David Fincher
My brain says ... David Fincher

- Eric Roth and Robin Swicord for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: They took a lot from Roth's own Forest Gump, so the credit should go to F. Scott Fitzgerald for the idea.
- John Patrick Shanley for Doubt: As far as dialog goes, it has no peers.
- Peter Morgan for Frost / Nixon: Morgan's latest shines when the titular characters aren't facing off each other.
- David Hare for The Reader: I am a little disappointed, considering what Hare can be capable of.
- Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire: Kudos to Beaufoy for not falling into a trap by making this an episodic drama.

My heart says ... John Patrick Shanley
My brain says ...John Patrick Shanley

I'm not predicting any television categories, because I don't religiously watch any TV shows while they are on.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

The New Year

To say that 2008 has been a frustrating one for me is a huge understatement. It has been stressful, full of compromises, and huge life decisions whose results haven't been confirmed as the right ones just yet. If I am grateful about one thing about 2008 is that it was a healthy year.

There is nothing I can do but be hopeful about the new year. I strongly believe that it will be a better year all in all. The dire financial situation obviously affected Yours Truly as well and the effects have hit home a lot harder than I thought imaginable.

I am not a spiritualist person and I have a sincere disdain against religious dogma. There have been moments when I thought maybe my beliefs, or lack thereof, was responsible for the unfortunate situations I had to face this year. This is not a piece of repentance, but an honest confession, if you will, about how I felt. I feel somebody has been punishing me for what I don't know. I don't necessarily believe in karma - I think it is nothing but glorified coincidence.

"Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things." These words were uttered by Red in The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - a film that many hold close to heart. I am no different. Perhaps, that's what makes us humans go forward, because when facing everything that life throws at them, it is surprising that an infinitesimal proportion of human population resort to suicide. I want to take this chance to be selfish and wish a better year in every way for myself and my loved ones. Then I would like to extend that wish to everyone else. I already feel bad about this statement, but you need a little bit of that selfish gene to really survive.

It is a futile attempt to expect things to improve after an astronomical event that is the beginning of a new cycle of the Earth rotating around the Sun. If things really do improve without any sort of interference on my part, then the result is again coincidence. So, I am aware that I need to make a lot of changes in myself to make things improve.

I present you - in no particular order or importance - my New Year's Resolutions:

- be more pro-active in life: there is so much more this world has to offer and I need to learn to pry them out of wherever they are hiding. If things need to get done, they need a catalyst. And who is a better catalyst than me?

- be more understanding: I have always prided myself to be person that values tolerance above all other human virtues, but this year I have seen that concept dwindling. In order to have a positive attitude about things, I need that tolerance level back up to speed.

- take more responsibilities: I have grown immensely over the last few years and that brings a lot more responsibilities that are a little more serious in their level of importance than the ones back in college. I need to tackle those responsibilities head-on and make sure to carry them out accordingly.

- be more creative: this is something that has been lacking in 2008. The main reason, I believe, was my preoccupation with a lot of other external conflicts I needed to resolve. I believe this particular resolution can only be feasible with the proper application of the preceding resolutions. Hence, I'll get back to you on this one.

- lose more weight: it is a time-honored cliche to have this resolution on your list. I have shed 30 pounds this year, but over the last couple of months I seem to have put some of them back on. In order to be realistically healthy, I need to get back on the treadmill and shed those fatty tissues once again.

I pledge, with my hand on my conscience and mind, that I will carry out these resolutions. Because, if not, then this year will be a very, very bad one indeed.