Monday, August 1, 2011

Chrysanthemum [part one]

I feel the weight of angst in my bones as I walk across the floor. It clings to me, even as I try and shake its grip- it poisons me, even as I move to dose its flames. It is a hunger, as much as it is a feast of stale bread. My eyes can see where I've been, but many times not where I should go. What should I make of this? Especially as I dream of so many great things? I hold fast to you...these ideas will emerge from the dust and rubble of failed trials. The cave was where I found comfort- in almost certain disarray, as I walked with lanterns fading, and body tiring. All I had was a vision of you my dear, all pretty and proud and so near. I called your name at the dawn of the evening, and oh how I sought its sound.
I thought how to pray, to seek his face- as I wash with water, I feel his embrace. I see through broken eyes, the perfection of surrender and as I reach out- I take hold.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

surface vertigo-the continuing thought, volume#4

How is it that we decipher the events that take place in our lives? Is it instinct? Are we somehow trained by others?- is it a matter of self-discovery or innate characteristics? I haven't the slightest clue what the answer is, and maybe that is why it seems interesting to me. The very nature of the mystery of that which is within is just as important as the mystery all around us. If I ever come to a place where all of a sudden I feel as though I know everything, then I essentially know nothing- as my comfort, or my sense of how things should be, can never truly encompass everything. But its exciting. Somehow, in some way to feel alive and aware in order to feel that sense of humanity. To step outside of ourselves and peer back in to see how things have unfolded. Think of this moment like a film's intermission, with the images and words of the first act trickling in the back of your mind and the culmination of such actions coming into view on the horizon. We will see everything, fully realized and in color and its terrifying and eye-opening in all sorts of ways. We won't see all good things, in fact we will see many ugly and disgusting things, but somehow we keep looking- searching for that moment of beauty, that moment of realization. Its like that moment in a film when the culmination of the characters struggle, the scenery, and the music coincide and explode into a moment of pure raw emotion. You can't pull away because you are immersed, and somehow this realization frees you.  I think I am a romantic in many ways, and I believe my thoughts turn to this in a time when I am beginning to realize how much of my voice has been lost or shrouded by past events and relationships. I find that as I continually move towards that horizon, I slowly lose the baggage that had come before- but only because I acknowledge that it is indeed there. I wouldn't say that someone put it there, but I also don't think that I would be the person I am today had I not endured through difficult moments. Though they were hard and sometimes heartbreaking, I am still alive in so many different ways and perhaps I acknowledge the power of such things as a sign of a life not dictated by myself but by something greater than I. This might be a lot coming from a blog entry that has, in the last few months, simply become the grounds for an obligatory post about the new wii system or about links posting to paper cutout sites, but I find that as I write this and share it with all of you it gives me a new sense as to how powerful thoughts can be when spoken to words or written down to see. It's amazing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 paranoid android

Weezer doing a cover of Radiohead's Paranoid Android.

Sometimes all that's needed to be said can be found in a song

Monday, June 27, 2011

Weekly Update: Monday June 27th: Scattering Thoughts about Opportunities and Being Poor

I haven't written on this blog for awhile, and though I think I have valid reasons for being absent, I don't think it is an excuse not to try. Lately I have been going through a challenging "determination" period, in which I needed (and still do need at some points) to decide where to take the next step. I just got a full time job doing e-commerce type work and was finally able to give my frustrating and simplistic temp position a two-weeks notice. I know what some people will say to my giving this to them, "did you really need to give them two weeks, it was only temporary?", and while I understand the logic behind this kind of attitude, I have trouble just leaving people hanging even if I really don't really see how the job will fit into what I actually want to be doing. I am excited for this new opportunity, as one of many arising these days,  as it not only relieve a sense of job security but also seems to be a new healthy work environment hopefully absent from lots of stress. Win!

Even though the work isn't exactly what i had hoped to be doing, I have a wedding I am planning right now and both Maggie and I need a sense of new directions for at least the upcoming year. Weddings are ridiculously expensive and full of options to decipher. I think someone told me this once and I think I laughed... I am not laughing now. I just need to keep being positive about it, and keep thinking about the possibility of going to the Dominican Republic for the honeymoon (yes).

Some more exciting news comes in the form of possible freelance opportunities that both of us are considering. It would call for an investment in the new Final Cut program and purchasing a camera (Canon T2i) to shoot video/pictures on; but if we can figure out a way to pull this off we are going to! We are thinking about doing some freelance for our portfolios, short films for festivals, and a way to earn some extra money for the future. Win, again!

I hate being poor. I feel like I better understand what George Orwell was writing about in "Down and Out in Paris"... "For, when you are approaching poverty, you make one discovery which outweighs some of the others. You discover boredom and mean complications and the beginnings of hunger, but you also discover the great redeeming feature of poverty: the fact that it annihilates the future." It just eats your sense of empowerment and sometimes you just feel helpless. I definitely haven't forgone a sense of hope in the situation, as I daily am coming to the conclusion that I am not that worse off compared to so many suffering in the world today, and it actually helps me to better understand the world as it is for so many that I will never see. Its damn hard though sometimes... that I will not deny, especially feeling like going to college only made things worse rather than better at times.

I have started to write down all of the ideas I have throughout the day. It really helps me focus on something besides data entry... and it gives me something to look forward to. I have made it a personal goal to try and finish more of these than I can come up with, but I know that won't be the case for some time. I am thinking about starting a website to organize some of these things... perhaps a personal blog that I can keep things up on but no one can see.... not that I don't want to share!

Well I would like to update with more but my lunch hour is up...

Till next...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pages{good_reads reviews]: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Book #2 in the Hunger Games Trilogy)

Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins
(Book #2 of the Hunger Games Trilogy)
Note: I am aware that I did not write a first review for the original novel, and for that I have to say, "I didn't think of it until finishing the second book."

Catching Fire picks up a year after the end of the previous Hunger Games novel, and thus attempts to reengage the reader with new challenges, new villains, and a not-so-new scenario that capitalizes off of the original's unique setting by bringing us back into the games. No doubt by now most avid readers, or perusers of Barnes and Noble or, are more than aware of Suzzane Collins award winning young adult trilogy about the effects of violence and war on youth reaching maturation in a neo-apocalyptic American society. What initially draws readers to Collin's work? Well perhaps lends its success to the constantly evolving young adult novel craze that seemed to emerge after Harry Potter's first year at Hogwarts, or perhaps it has something to do with the Hollywood film adaption of the first novel coming to theaters Summer 2012. Either way, The Hunger Games trilogy is constantly gaining new readers every day whether by word of mouth or promotional marketing, and Catching Fire continues the themes instilled by the first novel in ways that this review hopes to examine.

Oh how our little girl is growing up. The emotionally conflicted and at times socially innate Katniss Everdeen, is a much more a young woman than a teenage, and one that grapples the line between survival and regret with such great precision its a wonder how she ever finds time to get around to tell the young men in her life just how she is feeling. Yes just as the original novel harbored said love triangle, so does the sequel intend on making the wounds and scars of teenage romance all the more sweet. As readers of young adult fiction we almost innately expect to see the romance between Katniss and Peeta and Katniss and Gale to culminate into something weighty and emotional- which is exactly what happens, but in varying and sometimes brief bookended scenes. This becomes a second, or possibly third plot point however as Katniss Everdeen finds herself in a whole mess of something greater than she could ever have imagined. Interestingly, it is in the central foundation of the book, that truly reveals Katniss's hardened view of the world around her coming afire, just as her dress had ignited in the first processional parade in the 74th Hunger Games, but her awareness of her newly appointed role in said society has only a few moments to become realized before the last page is turned. More on that later.

As readers of the first novel know- the world of Panem is essentially a neo-world war version of a ravaged American nation. The once united States have been sectioned off into export unique "districts", which fall under the totalitarian rule of a sovereign state known as the Captiol. Much of the first novels plot focused on Katniss and her fellow district 12 partner and sometimes lover Peeta Mellark, and their enduring survival both inside the arena and in the Capitol itself, and in this the author went "head over heels" in attempting to create a widely imaginative world full of  dystopian communities and futuristic warfare methods. This societies foundations are built upon the destruction of the past and initiates a mysterious atmosphere of tension and doubt that surprisingly isn't quite as present in it's followup. This realization came about early for me, and it becomes both a problem and a success for this edition as the story remains chained and tethered to its previous plot devices, and yet somehow releases rather ploddingly into future events transpiring in the trilogies third installment, Mockingjay. It's really too bad actually, as the first novel is so well crafted and thus satisfying as a book in this genre that it's sequel could feel so hollow. It is not that Katniss's evolution into the girl that inspires "the fires within those in Panem" isn't interesting by itself, but when the central focus of the book becomes survival in a copycat version of the original novel's central device, it just feels over done.

Though the games continue, the rules have changed by placing former victors back into a strange and deadly arena for the 75th Hunger Games, called the Quarter Quell for its unique declaration of another quarter century passing since the Capitol's destruction of rebel forces. Katniss is not alone in this edition and though she had chosen self sufficient survival throughout most of the first novel, it seems she chooses groupthink in the second. Within the arena, Katniss and Peeta forgo a sense of district unity and on the words of Haymitch Abernathy, their drunken mentor and coach, attempt to band together with a large selection of other combatants. This almost assuredly does little but make every moment of conflict feel both forced and almost downgraded in comparison to the 74th games in which her survival depended upon her entirely.  In fact one of my greatest complaints about Catching Fire resides in it's utter lack of opposition that Katniss encounters in the arena itself. Her disparaging meeting with the Capitol's President Snow, the main antagonist of the trilogy, seems lifetimes removed from the time spent focusing on the Quarter Quell, and the events transpiring between those inducted into its death arena seem to only downplay the emotional and physical survival that given the right "personalities" could have been seen as real challenges. I understand if Collins was attempting to create this image of the Capitol holding complete control over anything and everything, but without a chance to embody and characterize those emotions it almost feels like the contestants are running through a funhouse maze. Katniss is unfortunately fighting against an enemy we barely even get a chance see and know seemingly less about. It is only after the third act do we realize what Katniss should have discovered perhaps earlier on, as the last few pages bring about big changes in which a giant cliffhanger is purported looking more like a hastened synopsis for the book its held within, rather than an actual revelation. The intuitive nature of the Hunger Games trilogy becomes troublesome in moments like this, as entire climaxes are confined to allusive paragraphs that seem to explain more than 100s of pages of plot and action seem to do but without the satisfaction of learning alongside the character.

If Suzanne Collin's had elaborated upon elements pertaining to characters, as the novel began to to in part one, over the elements circumventing the inner workings of the arena then perhaps I would not have felt as mislead. As the sequel to the Hunger Games, Catching Fire had a lot to live up to and unfortunately it seems to miss many of the opportunities that it sets itself up for. Katniss Everdeen is becoming a young woman, and that transition is a tough one, but it doesn't mean that external forces cannot equal that maturation, as the novel seems to transpire within itself everytime we drift away from that internal resolution.

Catching Fire is certainly worth reading if you enjoyed the Hunger Games, but do not attempt to call them equals, as they are completely different examinations of very similar situations. For what it is worth I did enjoy reading Catching Fire, and feel that above all the writing carries many of the tones introduced in the first novel, as well as embodying at least the universe for which the story is told within.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thor (2011) Cinema Summer Session 001

Though sweeping and epic in its source material, the film version of Marvel's god of thunder Thor seems to act as a mere reflection of what it could have been. Kenneth Branaugh's summer forray into Marvel's version of norse mythology is bogged down by its inability to define itself and seems to take a step back rather than forward as films like Iron Man (1+2) and The Dark Knight have set out to do. Its really too bad because Chris Hemsworth makes for an impressive, and rather gallant god of thunder.

What could have been a chance to elevate the career of a WWE wrestler or UFC fighting champion, became a casting choice straight from the halls of Asgard itself. Hemsworth is as his father Odin, played with a surprisingly underwhelming performance by Sir Anthony Hopkins, calls a "vain and stupid boy, but one of great power and bravery." This is a guy that audiences want to know and ultimately see change over the course of the film. Although at times this seems like the focal point of Thor, there is just too much going on to really stake a claim in.  The culmination of our hero losing his godly abilities, thus being subjected to mortal life on earth, seems to only find meaning through a humbling and hastened relationship with a human (Natalie Portman). Portman's Jane Foster is instantly likeable but becomes lost in the shuffle when more complicated plot devices are used. By the time we get around to how Sir Thor feels for Lady Jane, well the results aren't quite what you'd expect from two people who literally met 24-hours before. I know that in classical literature this sort of thing, meaning love at first sight, occurred quite often but for a modern audience it might have just been too quick to know if a second date was even on the table.

All is well in the world I suppose, save for a rather convoluted plot involving a race known as the Frost Giant seeking entry into the world of the gods, a dangerous annihilating robot called The Destroyer, and a double crossing silver-tongue who takes advantage of Thor's rather unique predicament. If Director Branagh had simply focused on his greatest strength in the film, the rather Shakespearean wordplay among the gods especially that between Thor and his brother Loki, this film might have been able to break free of its sometimes overly silly design. The dialogue is actually quite intriguing and opens up more than one would expect. The scenes between the gods are among the best in the film, and perhaps in a different circumstance might have helped propel the film to a well rounded conclusion.

I suppose with a superhero film involving rainbow bridges, and artifacts containing the all encompassing power of a supernatural race- the exclusion of things like CG worlds and fantasy enemies might have turned fanboys off as being too picky, but perhaps that might have downplayed the often simplistic logic placed on the characters and events occurring around them. Speaking of the CG graphics- the muddied backgrounds and unimpressive creature designs left me wishing that a more authentic and perhaps less grandiose vision had been implemented, if it worked for a film like Lord of the Rings, it could certainly work in a fantasy film like Thor. Although, several of the set pieces and costumes, really did help to promote the films unique style. Having done production design in the past, I could appreciate the detail that went into scenes like the inauguration of Thor, the fight between Thor and Loki, and those involving the transporter room at the end of the rainbow bridge.

Tom Hiddleston is a major standout, who much like Hemsworth, embodies the role of a god with great classicism. Hiddleston's Loki is a villain torn both internally and externally and though we do not see his true intentions straight away- we feel for his pain. I suppose this is something that Hemsworth failed to bring to his Thor, as you never really feel that sorry for the guy. As for Loki, well let's just say spoiler free manifestos could not delve into the inert sense of difference this character feels when compared to his older brother. Idris Elba is a similar standout, whose fervent Heimdall the gatekeeper, keeps life around Asgard rather interesting. Heimdall has the honor of even bettering Thor in both strength and intelligence, which came across perhaps stronger than Brannagh and company might have expected. The lack of scenes showcasing the gods daily life at least allowed for characters like Loki and Heimdell to help guide the film, even if just for a short time.

Thor is a film that doesn't know what it wants to be. Is it a prequel designed merely for the introduction of Thor into the world of the Avengers, due out next summer, or is it a slightly overweight origin story that hastens Thor into existence by sticking 40 years of comic history into a 2-hour film. Either way, Thor feels like it is missing more than it shows and perhaps if sequels do arise, we can get a better understanding of just who this character truly is. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Weekly Update: May 18th 2011

I'm perpetually playing catchup with my own life, or at least that's what it seems like, so here it goes...

I haven't sat down to write without an external sense of urgency for some time and its weighing heavily on me. I am trying to juggle about ten different things at once and often times what truly motivates and inspires me seems like a distant set of unattainable distractions. Should that be the case? Should I be sweeping my dreams and desires and ambition under the rug because I don't have as much experience as a business professional or someone with a lot of money and connections? Something tells me that that feels wrong. Although there are several large events on the horizon that deem my immediate attention, marriage to my wonderful fiance Margaret and saving for a future together, I just really feel the need to bring myself back to square one and ultimately reassess what exactly I am attempting to do with my life.

Some days I feel as though everything I worked for in college was simply just to pass the time or to appease my sense of misguidance in a world without opportunity, and now that I am paying for it through largely "over grossed" loans I can't help but feel even more confined to my past missteps as I transition from undergraduate education to the "real" world outside of it. Now that graduation  has become a past event, in December it will be two years, my desire to go back to school and continue my education has more than doubled since my original decision to "one day" apply. As of Tuesday, Margaret and I have obtained both the 2011 GRE study book and a set of flashcards- hello study weekend!

Settling into an improper and mostly unfulfilling business oriented "job" seems downright out of character at this time in my life, and will probably continue to carry similar sympathies long into the unknown future. I didn't go to school to work in business, at least not corporate business, and it really saddens me to see every chance for opportunity get eaten up before I have a chance to state my case. I need sustenance and I am asking to be feed, but where are the routes of this journey leading? I cannot say.

I want to utlize creativity, writing, media, film, television, teaching, education, promotions, music, literature, video games, video production, social justice non profiting, documentaries, theology, philosophy, philanthropy, stewardship, creative management, and creative design to revolutionize the world. I want to invent, I want to envision, I want to design, I want to foster new ideas and new avenues of originality. I need to BE.

For the last year and 5 months I have settled for what was right in front of me, and though I know things like the economy and lack of networking contacts factor into its success rate, I don't want to accept this as MY life. At the very most some things hold a sense of promise and progress that things like my degree have not like my consistently growing relationship with Margaret and my ongoing strife in self discovery. However, I am not getting paid to have those breakthroughs take place and regardless of what I wish to achieve in this life, as it stands right now I am tethered to a stack of debts and constantly finding myself in need of financial assistance. This sounds like a broken record to so many people, many of which are more qualified than I; but in reinstating my case my desire to do something greater grows exponentially each day, and sometimes I fear I might just explode.

I am officially on the warpath for a new job as well as a new motivational desire to revitalize my lagging time spent in projects, writing, and making progress in applying to graduate schools.

Here's to the beginning of something new and exciting.