Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Freewheelin Vertigo #200- What happens when someone forgets to turn off the monitor

Recently I came across a thread that was discussing promotional websites for films, and how when the internet was first starting out EVERY film had an individual website but in recent years only a few are still marketed. Well after doing some sleuthing, including a relayed post @cinematical- I followed my eager internet savvy heart to this site....

Please enjoy the circa 1996 webpage for..... SPACE JAM!



http://www2.warnerbros.com/spacejam/movie/jam.htm

SO whatcha gonna do?

Well you should definitely check this site out. I remember being 9 years old and thinking this movie was amazing; but what did I know at 9 years old? In terms of its website, the graphics are hilarious and the obvious GIF imaging should make one proud to see that the internet has come a long way.

As for the contents... well you should check out every section, as just the descriptions are entertaining enough to keep your interest. Its like a time capsule of marketing, or a preserved example of using buzzwords to entice kids to BUY! Which essentially is just what marketing is...




Favorite section: A detailed stats list for the 95-96 NBA season for all the major basketball players in the film. It definitely was a dream team of stats but without anything to compare it to, well it seems kind of silly to post. I'm surprised Warner Brothers didn't fake a bunch of stats for the Looney Tunes cast!

Favorite quote: "The jamminest two minutes of trailer time that ever hit a theater. It's 7.5 megs, it's Quicktime, and it's worth it. Click the graphic to download..." (http://www2.warnerbros.com/spacejam/movie/cmp/jamcentral/trailerframes.html)


Although the actual video link doesn't work, its still amazing that back in '96, a 7.5 mpg quicktime video was considered a big deal! In fact it was the "jamminest"of all jams.




Anyways, 
Enjoy 


Readers after a second hundred posts I would like to extend a message of thanks to everyone who has stuck through the last year with this blog! Your readership and support means the world to me, and for that I owe you all a debt of gratitude. For the next one hundred, please stay tuned as many new things are to come!


Cheers +
Happy New Year!


Eric Wilkinson- Freewheelin Vertigo and middleaisle tumblr founder


Friday, December 24, 2010

In Circa: Black Swan (2010)- reblogged from middleaisle.tumblr.com !!!

In the dance of Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, there are only a few players who we must attend our eyes to; but in this handful of quite outstanding ensemble of prolific actors one finds all the elements required for a great character piece swirling around a central figure. I am of course suggesting that the performance of Natalie Portman is the crux of the film, as she is who we are introduced to as one to cheer for and ultimately one to feel sorrow for.

In the past Ms. Portman has shown some promise of jumping into the big leagues of the A-list community of actors, and yet never before have I truly sensed that she deserved it. However, this film shatters all previous work done by the young actress, and in just one viewing I found it worthy of an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. That is quite a statement; but one I know many are coming to believe.

The film is a psycho-kinetic twist on the duality of human nature, and in the course of a "play within a play", we see the struggles personify themselves to great thrills and chills. Aronofsky uses a rather subtle approach to a genre that typically lacks a little brains and overdoses a bit on the blood buckets, and the tension, my god the tension, is so strong that you feel yourself exhaling long after the final credits roll. He truly is one of the best young directors working on the circuit. 

The abruptly sexual nature of the film transpires around and throughout each scene, and not one single character is seen without a sense of both their good "white swan" and bad "black swan" personalities. We sense the loss of every character in their attempts to get what they want, and that is what makes every scene fit together. The key element, however-is large in part to the greatest metamorphosis of the film, namely Ms. Nina Sayers (Portman), in transitioning from a feeble, dainty, frightened by all but perfection to a loose, flowing, and ultimately dark manifestation seeking freedom. This transition is not without stumbling blocks, as it was quite powerful to connect the harsh sexual transfiguration of her experiences to the personality changes that have literally sought her out and bound her to it. We sense that she wants to become this "other side" the entire film; but ultimately it is only in herself that she finds the means to destroy her own ambitions.

It is truly in the change of her characteristics that we can see the truth behind the veil, and the beauty behind the tragedy. And in the dance of this film, a true phoenix rising from the ashes.
For that I give this film one of the highest honors I can bestow in criticism: It reinvigorated my sense of what film CAN and SHOULD do.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Admiration [people, places, ideas, and other culturally relevant topics]:Captain America- rein-visioning the Golden Age through Modern eyes

12/13/2010- An attempt to forage a second segment of the Admiration series, I will be condensing what I had previously tried with Admiration: Tom Waits; but to a much smaller extent- namely, I will be discovering an idea alongside my examination of the individual, in order to create both a dialogue and a concise piece of writing.

All images are the property of Marvel Comics/Marvel Entertainment and have been edited for artistic effect.

Captain America
Rein-visioning the Golden Age through Modern Eyes 
a.k.a- Relevance of an American Symbol in Todays world



In a time of uncertainty in the world, one can guess that the element that holds people together is hope. Looking back over the course of the last 110 years historians note that civilization have been modernized, industrialized, commercialized, and most of all- globalized in almost all aspects. It is in the last element that I want to concentrate this post, as it asks the questions: how does a past symbol stand against the modernizing of society? and how can we better understand a symbols relevance in times of great dismay?

Well, I suggest that the answer might actually lay with the Golden Age of Comic Books. Revolutionary in combining social commentary with epic fantasy, the writers and artists of the what was deemed "the golden age of comics", created the heroic idealism that still persists in todays society. And in this time of great progression, none was quite as famous as Captain America- the First Avenger.

The Captain, or Cap as his fans call him, is an essential part of World War II's iconography. He is a symbol of not only the elements that make America strong (liberty, justice, hope, peace); but as an everyman connecting all peoples regardless of creed, color, religion, or nationality. It was in Captain America's veins that the American Spirit was said to have run, and after he knocked out Hitler (Captain America Comics #1-1940) before our involvement into the war- we knew that this was a man who could do the things that many, most notably the predominantly Jewish Golden Age writers and artists, wished that they had a chance to do. 

But in this article I don't want to simply dwell upon the roots of the hero; but also on his long lasting appeal. You see, World War II ended, and with the end of this era came an end to the romance of that era's war, which would have great consequences for the man who stood as America's symbol during her time in Europe/Asia.


Note: I say romance because if you ask anyone what wartime era garners the most fantasy, the most adventure, and the most pulp- the answer will lay with World War II; hence why Captain America, Sgt. Rock, Band of Brothers, Indiana Jones, John Wayne films, Saving Private Ryan, The Pacific, Inglorious Bastards, and others even exist.

So lets break down the evolution of a symbol like Cap, and see just how this relates to our modern times.

WHO IS THE CAPTAIN?
  1. In Popular Culture-Captain America, a.k.a. Steve Rogers, is a man who dreamed of defending America out of a hatred for her enemies (the Nazis), and yet could not make the cut into the Armed Forces due to his scrawny size/stature. Due to his persistence, he was granted an opportunity to volunteer in a secret government project destined to make him into the first Super Soldier. It proved to be very successful and he is granted frontline duty in an attempt to show the symbolic strength of America. He responds by annihilating Nazi butt all across Europe, rallies the support of the American/European people and troops, helps turn the tide of the war in the favor of the allies, and comes faces-to-face with a growing slew of new evils, namely his arch nemesis, The Red Skull (see Villains section below). 
  2. In America- The nation was standing strong in the worlds eye, due to the late and yet necessary involvement into the front, and the establishment of popular culture through comic books, films, and newsreels helped to define and popularize the idea of America as a nation of protectors. Captain America became just one of those symbols in American popular culture that was used to show liberty to the oppressed, and inspire readers to fight for truth, justice, and liberty.
POST WWII: Evolution of the Character with the Country
  1. Soon after WWII, Cap began a short campaign against the growing fears of Communism; but after a relatively short succession- he disappeared. Frozen in a block of ice with his sidekick Bucky Barnes (later Winter Soldier, a brainwashed soviet/hydra agent),  it was decades before the Captain was revived- and his absence was felt in the comic world. While in the real world, things were beginning to change with a new slew of villains (communists), and a new set of international threats (the popularization/acquisition of atomic weaponry).
  2. A new sense paranoia could be sensed on the home front, and was starting to become proclaimed by the growing generations whose voice was being overshadowed, due to their newfound positions of civil liberties, and political restructuring. The image of America's involvement in foreign wars had now been tarnished by Vietnam/Korea, which lead many to think that we had stretched ourselves too thin.
  3. Captain America returned to the world during this time, and became involved in this struggle. His views remained solid; but his opinion of world events had changed, as he had been removed from the worlds changing social environment. Over the course of the century he began a crusade, sometimes standing against the government on behalf of his own beliefs centered in American past. This recurring change in the Captain can be seen even today as he battles against civil liberty infringement and the misappropriation of truth in the news media. 
  4. I believe that if one were to compare the Captain America of the 40s to the Captain America of the 2000s- you could easily trace an evolving American image that has been bruised but not broken, and a strength that has been tested, not idealized. As the world has changed, the "man out of time" has changed with it- sometimes standing for, and sometimes against its conclusions. In an ironic twist, he has mirrored a changing American image just as much as he has anchored its past successes. Not a lot of figures can accomplish that, let alone a comic book hero. 

WHY is it important?

Captain America represents a man "out of time", a symbol of Americas past- and yet somehow the ideal American of the future. It is in his protection of those in need, that has lead him away from America just as much as it has made him a globalized figure that represents its strengths. We know who he is because he represents America, in ways that sometimes challenge our current positions. If we were to look at ourselves in the mirror, I believe we might see the reality of what has been forgotten, and in that reflection we can see what it would take to get back to such a position. 

It is very important to note that Steve Rogers is a flawed man, as many heroes are, and in his representation of the American way he is not always in the right. Perhaps then this makes him more relevant to a globalized America than he was in times of American pop-romance. Maybe he represents an America that creates a sanctum of freedom, not without a degree of cynicism, which carries a new found hope for its future based upon its past.

Death and Impact
In an extremely popular mini series by Marvel entitled, "Civil War", we get an inside look at the governments handling of super humans, who are seen as dangerous weapons rather than needed saviors. The distrust leads to establishing a superhero registration act, which Steve Rogers sees as an erosion of personal freedoms, and his civil liberties set forth by the Constitution. In opposition to him is Tony Stark, a.k.a Ironman, who is now director of SHIELD (the Marvels equivalent to a "super NATO"), and feels quite the opposite of Rogers. This eventually lead to a massive "overhaul" of the Marvel universe that, by this writers opinion, was all but necessary in 2005-2007. The Captain's frustration with Stark and the United States government, led him and several others to go into opposition roles against their former allies, in order to stand for their personal freedoms instead. 

This is a great example that the Captain does not always agree with the routes that his country takes, which gives him a very human element that might have been missing in most of the Golden Age's heroes, and creating an even great distance from his former life as a mere symbol. Breaking apart a mindless following with truth has always been his goal, and it actually makes things more complicated more often than not for our hero.

He died by a sniper shot on the steps of a Washington D.C monument, which rocked the pop culture world and set forward a series of events that gave him some time away from the limelight. He eventually came back to life (don't they all?); but not without establishing a new vision of what has changed in a world post 9/11.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/08/books/08capt.html (article on impact of Captain America's death)

The Opposition

Sin + Crossbones (HYDRA agents)
The Zemo Clan
HYDRA


The Red Skull: 
In the comics 70 year run, there has been no greater villain than the Red Skull. He has been the thorn in Captain America's side since Captain America comics #7, and since then we have seen "Hitlers Left Hand" come back from numerous deaths, create duplicates of himself to instill confusion and chaos, infuse himself with the Super Soldier serum, attempt to resurrect Hitler and the third reich, sponsor numerous terrorist organizations (most notably HYDRA), officiate Cap's death sentence, attempt to implant the offspring of Steve Rogers as his own, and even gain immortality from the Cosmic Cube. It is in him that one can describe the opposition that Cap faces on what seems like a daily basis.
  • It is in the Red Skull that we see everything that Captain America could be, if he were to destroy all that America stands for. The Skull is a direct representation of a Nihilistic, power hungry, and violent agenda that seeks to tear apart establishment and create a new world order of chaos- much like other villains in the same egomaniac category. The Red Skull is that which destroys, not which creates- and thus even today we get a sense of what true evil has become upon this earth in obvious and shadowed forms. 
  • In the modern age we better understand what America is up against, and yet at times it seems nearly impossible to understand how to stand up straight. In this way the Red Skull, HYDRA, the Zemo's, and Sin/Crossbones are all powerful contrasts of those who are against liberty. They are symbols in the same way as Captain America, Falcon, and SHIELD are; but with a twist of personal gain, power, wealth, or vengeance. 
RESPONSIBILITY: or what I learned from Captain America in writing this piece
  • The responsibility that we must take on, in the face of such opposition, is in a willingness to be willing to say what we believe, and take on the reality of our strengths AND weaknesses. If we are not willing to accept the bad and the good, then we cannot really understand why there is a sense of good in the first place. That is a powerful and sometimes hard thing to accomplish; but it is one that Captain America would find suitable as his character shows.
  •  Ironically it is the hero who sacrifices everything and becomes consumed by their duty, and the villain who receives notoriety by their obsessions; but ultimately sacrifices little in the process, save for sometimes getting beat up or imprisoned. The Red Skull and Captain America will never die because they will forever embody two visions of power: one based upon freedom and the other based on control. This constant struggle for control will always exist in the real world; but the end result will come about in how one deals with the consequences, that will ultimately make the difference.

    Man Out of Time

    In conclusion, I want to say that Captain America is a fascinating piece of fiction that one can look to in the wake of great turmoil. If you look at the evolution of this country alongside the evolution of his character, you will see that both challenge each other to adapt our foundations to the modern world. Cap is interesting because he is a "man out of time", a symbol of a forgotten age that is clinging on to his duty in the wake of a world that moved forward without him. He reminds us of the values that this country stood upon, while sometimes standing in opposition to where we sometimes wander. Captain America is neither Conservative or Democrat; he is neither activist or politician; he is neither a warrior or a peacemaker- he is a symbol of everything that we have lost, and everything we can be all wrapped up into one character. He doesn't seek to stir up lobbyist idealism or pundit fodder or even support the acts of the news media- he in fact stands as a sometimes emotionless reminder of what sacrifices and common ground can look like. His long term goal is patriotism not governance, and in his crusade we see that such a burden comes at great cost to the man underneath the costume. While not necessarily as deep or fascinating as Batman, Wolverine, or Spiderman- the First Avenger holds a special place in the culture and iconography of America itself.




    Monday, December 13, 2010

    the middle aisle


    Above: a psuedo interesting attempt at creating a background image for my tumblr account; although after uploading it to the background, I realized that you couldn't actually see any of it without screwing up all of the html for my theme... fail

    Check out the latest film related posts @themiddleaisle.tumblr.com
    and don't forget to follow if you have a tumblr account!

    Recurring Dreams: Tokyo 2010

    I have a recurring dream, one that only applies itself from time to time- as if from a sense of my own forgetfulness it feels disregarded.

    I awake in a flat in Tokyo. All around are the signs of a minimalist life in which  I spend less and less of my own time doing what I dream of doing, and yet I still have time to sleep all throughout the day. Could this be the lethargy speaking? Perhaps. I arise from my bedside and walk to the window. It is raining, as it almost always is, and I place my hands upon the glass. I can see little from my view; but in a way that seems to suit the rest of my lifestyle- so I give it no second thought. Instead I disembark from my room and enter into the kitchen/living room suite. It reminds me of the same things as I felt in the bedroom- sadness but without motive to change.

    There is a cat beside me, sleeping comfortably in a raised bar stool. Her short black coat is silky and at my hands gaze she purrs. Her eyes gaze into mine, and she seems to feel that I am her owner. I walk into the living room and gaze upon a painting that hangs above the mantleplace. It doesn't seem to make sense at first; but as I glare into it I can slightly make out what I am seeing to be the outside of the window of my bedroom- complete with rain drops.

    I grab my jacket, or one that I assume is mine and exit from my building. I am off to see where I am and what kind of life I live. As I begin down the hallway I notice a strange pulse on the back of my head. It strikes me as odd but as I feel around I can't determine its origin. This hall seems to never end as I pass what looks to be hundreds of apartment doors that go on for miles. The lights overhead, first bright and illuminating, have now started to flicker- which hastens my steps.

    I haven't seen a single person in this building yet- and the thought of it starts to concern me. What if I have never left this place? I mean it barely seems to be familiar; but perhaps it is the rapid succession of lights beginning to fade that is making me find doubt? What if this was the first time I had ever been outside, only to find that I was the only one left? But left from what? I can't be a survivor... I can't.

    Wait, calm down... that sounds crazy, doesn't it? Do crazy people know that they are saying crazy things? I would assume so; but then again I would have assumed that I wouldn't have thought such a thing in the first place. I start to run and with every step I can feel the hallway behind me begin to collapse, in a twisting sheath of shattered realities.

    The light bulbs begins to burst on each side and I can feel myself slowly begin to waver. I can see at the end of the hall a door... which I can only imagine leads me out of this place.

    Why did I leave? What did I think I would find? How could I have known!?

    I reach the door with a lunge and to my surprise it will not budge. I begin to slam my shoulder into it over and over and over again. Each time I hit the door I fear what is behind me. I will not look back. Each time I yell I fear what is no longer below me. I will NOT look back. Each moment I spend trying to get out... it just seems to hurl against me. I WILL NOT LOOK BACK!

    I slink down onto the door holding fast.
    It is quiet now.
    And I release the doors handle.
    I feel the slowly flickering exit lights begin to go out. This is my chance to see what will become of me. This is my chance to see where I have been. This is the end, and I got here too soon- and so I stand.
    With eyes heavy from tears and a heart pulsating within my bones I turn my head.

    I see everything.
    And it is not as it seems.
    A veritable reality unbound, and uncontrolled.
    A vision of sparks and lights- no longer captured by darkness.
    And neither am I.


    I feel a pulsation around my fingertips. It reaches within my core and yanks at my soul in a bursting sensation that this mind and body have ever known. I am carried throughout the energy as carrion of its own creation, a vision of its own design, a marquee of its own palate; but it is more of me than I know.

    I do not feel as I once was; but instead feel strength shattering through the glass walls. Aligned for breaking; destined for reevaluation. What ever could this be that has overtaken me? What could I be, if I am not as I was?

    This transfixiation- this river of undeniable focus… will not be the end, but the beginning.


    All that was now is, and will not always be- and in this breath I take, I feel reborn.

    And my eyes are open.

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    Weekly Update: Saturday December 11th

    Well its Saturday, and after a week of seemingly nonstop complications I welcome in the weekend with a blizzard. Its funny that such extreme conditions can be taken one of two ways. The first being a seminal caution that displaces anything and everything that you would normally do. No one wants to be working, driving, or some other round about activity because well, the weather just sucks. The second is a gung ho determination to beat whatever obstacle is placed in front of you so that the days planned activities can continue; regardless of how dumb that actually ends up turning out (just ask that bus stuck in a ditch how he is feeling about right now).

    Well in the wake of being trapped inside, its actually given me time to just sit and relax. The past week has seen the invasion of my HP netbook at the hands of a Facebook-based virus brought on during a writing section at the Chaska Dunn Bros. Its ironic because that event was followed up by the even worse news that my car is now undriveable thanks to the meddling of some mechanics I trusted to look my car over before actually doing anything drastic. These two events, along with 6 days of working straight in poor weather have left me desiring something more. My desire to write and my continually rising stack of projects has me wishing that I had a better job that would facilitate my need/desire to get creative. The other day I noticed a job opening in the editorial department at IGN Entertainment, which is by far one of my top choices for a working position! I applied and hope that whoever does take the time to check out my writing samples (on this and my tumblr blog no less!) looks into my writing with an open mind for what I can bring to their company. Regardless of what the outcome will be, its extremely motivating that I made the effort to do such a thing (apply for a desired posting), in a week that has been otherwise been filled with disappointment. 

    So needless to say, as I write on my girlfriends macbook in downtown Victoria during a blizzard, I would definitely appreciate more positivity. That and an extra 130.00 to fix the virus issue on my stupid netbook. 

    Cheers

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    TRON: Legacy- Music by Daft Punk review

    Typically I haven't spent a great deal of time reviewing music, and so for the sake of taking this blog into new territory- I have decided to devote this entry to reviewing the brand new Daft Punk album, "TRON: Legacy- Music by Daft Punk". I only wish that Blogger supported the TRON font in order to do this review, what a wasted opportunity! For the sake of emphasizing certain names and references, I will be CAPITALIZING various words throughout the review to draw your attention to various items, this is the first time I have done this and hopefully it will accomplish what I am hoping- which is feedback/a response in both comments and with linkage to that which I provide at the bottom of the post.




    Daft Punk is a duo that were made for a project such as this, and it seems that DISNEY could have made no better choice than to incorporate the French jockeys into both their film (as DJs in the technological world of TRON), and as the essential creators of the soundtrack/score for the film itself. 

    The album is sweeping to a fracturing symphony, as we begin to listen to OVERTURE, and right away one notices that this is a much more cinematic approach than previously applied in Daft Punks discography. You can feel it as you hear Jeff Bridges monologue in THE GRID, which serves as a proverbially expected tie in to the film itself- and instantly you are opened up to a much more familiar electric twang. 


    The albums highest points come in songs such as DEREZZED, the single for the album that one recieved under the Pre Order and is ultimately the most exposed track on the album; RINZLER is certainly the most clublike and provides a passionate approach to otherwise familiar territory; END OF THE LINE, acts as Daft Punks introduction into the film and the 2nd most "clublike" track; OUTLANDS 1+2, acts as the two symphonic best of the album, with very classical tones (especially in part ones intro and outro), and is slightly more dimensional than the similarly themed ADAGIO FOR TRON, which felt very BACH-like compared to the rest of the album; THE GAME HAS CHANGED,  is a very technically pleasing track with alot of what one would expect from TRON/DAFT PUNK, and also seems to be taking cues from Hans Zimmers score of INCEPTION; SON OF FLYNN/FLYNN LIVES were both very broad tracks that incorporated some 8-bit sampling without becoming too static, and ARENA, which acts as an echoing atmospheric track full of action and enticing mid notes. Several tracks (END OF THE LINE, THE GAME HAS CHANGED, RINZLER, and CLU) surprisingly even had a unique flair for tribal fusion, with clanging drums and crunching percussions- that adds so much depth to each of those tracks that one might close their eyes and picture a world of complete energy swirling around you.

    You can sense how much work went into this album, and it shows on every track that the French duo pulled from a variety of film scores and electronic sources to piece together an electric soundscape for this world to exist within. One only has to watch the trailer to see how perfectly this combines with the films imagery and production design- which ultimately creates the moniker of a great score.

    As you listen to the album you quickly realize that it is much less a club mix, and much more a "techtonic" approach to an almost certainly atmospheric symphony- possibly existing within a computer itself. You follow the "light trails" to reach the high elevated blasts echoing off the computer world walls in a dark yet sweeping chorale changing before your ears. I appreciated that the soundtrack took a HOWARD SHORE approach to the score, and that Daft Punk was able to find ways to incorporate their unique sound without becoming lost to new territory.

    While some may say that this album is not DAFT PUNK enough it, for the most part, does live up to what it was intending to be: an atomospheric approach to the world of TRON. Ultimately with a newly rebooted franchise such as TRON, one would need to approach it with careful crafting based upon classical tradition, or it becomes "just another soundtrack" for "just another film." I imagine DISNEY will find great success with this album, as well as the film- which one can find cycling into theaters come DECEMBER 17th 2010 in both IMAX and regular CINEMAS.

    If you want to pick up the album, I suggest following the link below to AMAZON.COM- which is doing a deal right now where you can pick up a digital copy for just 3.99!


    

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    Ways to Get Involved!

    Recently I have come across two websites that offer free trade products made by individuals in other countries that are attempting to change their unfortunate circumstances in a dignified way, in order to support their families. These organizations serve as outlets for those effected by HIV/AIDS, Sex Trafficking, economic hardship/.poverty, and gang violence.

    It is important to remember these people during this time of the year, as it makes you realize all that you have in comparison with those who carry terrible burdens with them every day. I found myself quite struck during my senior year, in the realm of Social Justice issues when I joined the Simpson Social Action Commitee and attempted to make my voice heard along with several other students. I think as one exits from college it becomes difficult to keep a globalized perspective on hand, when you don't have access to the same kind of communal response that is offered by many universities across the nation. It is all together then even more important that one takes time to look around and see all that is taking place, in an act of humble sight, in order to find ways to make this world a better place.

    I encourage you to check out these websites and look at what they are offerring, and consider even picking up a giftcard (tradeasone.org) to give out to friends/family this holiday season.

    http://tradeasone.org/

    http://the94store.com/
    Cheers and Happy Christmas!

    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    adjusting one's daily routines- philosophy mumbo jumbo

    My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram, or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation.
    -Arthur Conan Doyle
    It is in the past few months that I have sought to end the fervour of needless routine in my life; but oh how so often does that crusade come back to haunt me in times of laziness or all around needless "free time". To state it more plainly, the one thing that I hear from friends and peers the most is that they lack a sense of freedom in their day-to-day lives. It is in this routine that we find ourselves getting comfortable with the cards we are dealt and then wrap the rest of our responsibilities around such an existence.

    Most of the time this kind of routine functions around the existence of "the other", which typically can be described as anything not of ourselves that we must devote an expontential amount of time and effort towards. I myself find that this becomes my job, and that because my job is not a "real job", I must strain myself to continue giving my free time to this other- without a sense of what I might recieve in return. It is this pattern forming process that routinely breaks down our senses from what can exist outside of the routine itself.

    I find myself using my free time to do anything and everything that my "other" cannot fulfill and in that process I create for myself a "routine" not of obligation but of freedom. As the Conan Doyle quote dictates above, its not that one finds the pursuit in a daily battle to be unfullfilling, if then the materials that we then allow into each day match the expectations our ambitions stack against us- in the face of reality reminding us when we are at odds with our own personal goals/desires.

    Think about, and let me know what you think.

    Cheers

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    The Signs of What is to Come!: new blog site, updates coming, and a new vision

    For the benefit of a neu-creation in the blogosphere, Freewheelin' Vertigo will soon be departed by its ever loving companion piece "The Middle Aisle", which has found a new home on Tumblr at http://www.themiddleaisle.tumblr.com/ ! You can now check out the latest film related posts by Eric Wilkinson at this site, while still continuing to get posts on this blog as has been the case since Summer 2008. I plan on continuing both blogs with the same kind of attention (perhaps moreso now) that I have been giving a single blog for the last 2 years.

    One can expect crossovers to happen from time to time, to generate buzz and whatnot; but predominately themiddleaisle.tumblr.com will carry all of the Middle Aisle's normal editorials: rewind review, middleaisle critique, and cinematix.

    Also, as a very nice feature of TUMBLR, you can ask me questions along the sidebar- which can also be requests for reviews you'd like to see, film related questions, and personal appeals in the world of cinema.

    The Freewheelin' Vertigo page will be recieving some new additions as I will be soon adding links to youtube updates, and portfolio projects across the net! I hope that all of my followers will continue to support this blog, as you have in the past, and that this would be a step into a future of new possibilities!

    Thanks,

    The Staff

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    The Midaisle Critique: Potter 7 part 1: The Passing Flames of Previous Tensions

    "These are dark times, there is no denying"-Rumeus Scrimgeour
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)
    Director: David Yates (HP 5 and 6)
    Starring: The Potter Crew plus a few new faces

    Its hard to imagine that the Harry Potter saga is finally coming to an end. With a series that began with the publishing of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (Sorcerer's Stone in the US) nearly 13 years ago, the final film of the series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" begins its first installment, with a second to appear next summer. The series, much like the Beatlemania of the 1960s, has been a huge crossover success from Mother England in both the bookstore and the cinema.

    Since 2001 we have watched as Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron), and Emma Watson (Hermoine) have grown up before our eyes and become not only competent wizards; but emotionally conflicted young adults. The series grew ever more intensified as the innocence began to fade from the three young students, teaching them along the way the harsh realities of maturation, friendship, love, loss, hate, evil, and of course the combination of loyalty and respect. The truth is, that the Harry Potter series has never been about magic truly at all. The stories combine the clash between good and evil, showing that the lines sometimes blur, and the consequences can sometimes result in truly harrowing loss. I believe that over the course of 8 films, one can attribute the success of the story to the overwhelming idea of "journey".

    While the film series has not always captured the spirit of the novels quite as well, there have been a few exceptions, namely films 3, 5, 6, and now 7.1. I provide these background thoughts as the basis for my argument, which is that the Deathly Hallows part 1 is a film for those who have grown up with Harry and co., and come out on the other side truly caring for the story itself. The film will offer little to those who are just now jumping on board; but with a series as longstanding as this one, it seems unreasonable that someone would start with the last film as the basis for their evaluation.

    Some may call "part 1" a chronological piece without a true end; but to comment so lightly, would be to forget that it IS only part 1 of a two part series. Kill Bill vol.1 felt the very same way to me, as you knew where the story would be going; but were forced to reconcile the midway point in a clash of emotional strain. While I will not spoil the film for those who haven't seen it, it truly does set a middleground from which part 2 can build upon.

    Book 7 is the only book in the Potter series that I actually took the time to read, and while that might sound strange- it was due to my viewing of the films that I got the urge to find out just how much more there was in the original novels. Obviously the depth of book 7 caused for great details to be shown in the final films; but there were obvious additions that would detract simply by the basis of their intuitive nature. Many great adaptions have done intuitive thought well; but in the context of Harry Potter 7.1, it just would cause greater confusion than possibly good... especially for those who have never seen a single film in the series.

    I was a bit deterred with the lack of discussion concerning Dumbledore, as the central narrative of Rita Skeeter's book, in the context of the novel, was so crucial to Harry's emotional distance and strain and so in that sense, I found the film to be missing a key piece; but as I stated in the previous paragraph, I am unsure as to how they could have included Harry reading chunks of the book while still moving the film forward. As we know, the films are much more focused on Harry's physical and emotional journey, and less concerned with the Universe itself, hence why several scenes involving He Who Shall Not be Named, were seen in the context of dizzying portals through Harry's connection with the Dark Lord.

    I will say something rather obvious; but all the more necessary- the sexual maturity of the characters is seen in starkly new and continuing ways. These are the grown up children of Hogwarts who once surrounded themselves with magic candies, and parlour tricks; and who have now stepped out into the darkness of adulthood-carrying the weight of their responsibilities on their shoulders, and especially on their faces. I found this to be quite powerful, as you can literally feel the tension between the three main characters, who even when surrounded by the fantastic ensemble of  Britsh whos-whos, come across as real actors for probably the second time (first being the 6th film where the first roots began to show).

    One thing that I really enjoy about these films, especially 5-7.1, is the surrounding environments and production designs that give the film a true prescience. As I watched the film, I began to think about how this world that I was seeing was not full of automation, nor was it full of kitschy cookie cutter businesses- instead you feel the world that they occupy is somehow better off in its strickly unmodern postmodernism. Its as if this is the world in which the contrasts of human emotions, and philosophies of that which we hold inside- became and continue to thrive in every element. This is a contrast, because how often do we fall prey to the monotony and continued desentized world surrounding us? How often do we see the environments and houses and people around us, and really/truly stop and think about those deeper questions that plague every human being? I suppose this Potter film brought out that realism in a much grander way than previous entries, where you knew that the film would be ending and that the story would be wrapped up- in this, it is not. I felt as though when the film ended that I desired to see more, and thus a cliffhanger clause can be applied to a film that already felt as though it could not complete itself. I however enjoyed the film, regardless of the open ending, and see it as the most plausible way to carry onto part 2.

    While the 7th film would be much better off with the combination of part 2, I must say that I enjoyed the film from the standpoint of seeing the universe that has been built upon for the previous 6 films has finally found its footing in a maturity that can only be described as complete. The film itself could not work without the expansion into two parts, and thus I look forward to the conclusion next summer- which, to be honest, will probably be a much more satisfying film.

    Cheers,
    Eric

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Idle emoticon: Communication Lesson

    Last night I had an intense conversation.

    I think that in times of great insecurity comes a sense of solid trust that what you are saying/doing is the right thing. I talked with a man who has been struggling for a long time in a lot of different ways, and it truly saddened me to see someone who has truly become "routine". To abolish all sense of reason or focus or hope or even a sense of dreams- and yet to still live! How does one find strength when one cannot recognize strengths nature? or wisdoms intent?

    I found myself torn in my approach to his issues, as I barely know him. I found myself challenged by every statement he chose to make. And in the end I wonder how much actually got through. It was a lesson in communication that I never learned in college, one that I never learned from my background, or from books, or even films... this was something I had learned in experience, with others who found themselves in such plighted situations. It was in that moment last night that I sought to help someone who wants no help, and in our discussion I hope I made a difference, for his sake and not mine.

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    a Novel idea for a Gloomy Snow-ridden path: reflections October 28th to November 14th 2010

    As some are aware, I have been on a "quest" of sorts this month. It began with a conclusion I drew in October that I wasn't going to get a job that fitted my desires/dreams for a some time- and instead of wasting breath on less appealing careers I decided to quit GNC, a job I absolutely despised, and started working as a barista/bartending assistant/ server at a local cafe/bistro. This decision wasn't difficult to make in a monetary sense, as I have made huge strides in maintaining a less stress inducing lifestyle; but in terms of a future, the decision has placed me in a job that will not lead me to what I dream to do. So in the realization of such terms and agreements, I have made it a goal to pursue the things that will allow my dreams to become realities, even if I have to spend my few hours of spare time a day to achieve them.

    So in the last days of October I made a decision to begin a "contest", which more closely resembles an enabling encouragement, that involves writing a novel in 30 days. The task seemed, and at times still does- daunting; however in the last few hours I have felt a resurgance in creativity that has allowed me to wipe clean months of half-assed assessments, and dawdling hours of wasted ideas. I have realized that in this time, I can create the visions that I have, in order to become what I really want to be. Its an empowering thought for sure. In fact, in the last few hours I have felt like a real writer, for the first time since I began writing poems back in February.

    I have had many projects fall by the wayside, and having a set profile that demands updating daily by word counts and page numbers forces me to take what I have and show that I can acomplish something. I believe that I have so many ideas for books, comics, poems, films, conceptual paintings, art models, creative projects- that I must get them out. It is no longer a pastime, it is now a way of life- and I am loving the change it has made on my self-confidence levels. I hope and pray that one day I will be able to do this for a living; because that sense of creation/fostering has never left me. I believe that even in my earliest childhood memories, I can recall a passion for wonder, for excitement, for mystery, for action, for characters, for dialouge, and for story. This is something that neglected in part of my adult life, and finally I have begun to uncover its contents that have been locked away- out of reach.

    I also have spent the enitrety of this month considering vegetarianism, out of a desire to get myself into healthy shape. I also joined a 24/7 gym, and am hoping that I remain consistent enough to actually make a dent on years of bad eating habits, and minimal excercise.

    Next month I will be doing some more film reviews, start work on a graphic novel idea, start developing the novel that I am writing currently, and possibly even take further steps with the poetry I have composed.

    To all who have encouraged me in my life, I would like to thank you... even if some of you will never actually read this, or hear me say it. It has been an honor to have so many wonderful people in my life, without which I would not be the person I am today.

    To this and many more,

    Cheers,

    Eric

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    end of a road

    I walk, in a sense from learned action; but I do not stand without the cause of enlightenment.

    Will the faucets of what potential exists in the world truly be undone?

    Can I grasp ahold of what I seek to find, without emitting a sense of resentment for the end of a quest?

    Is there an essence to truth in a plastique subjectivity?

    I have no clue. And in that manner I have an idea.

    To brave the lines between the known and unknown, or to live a sense of purpose not bound by precognitive or preordinances; what magic!

     To break across the boundaries that once held within all that I am, to be freed upon who I shall be. To surmise, to surpass, to exemplify a sense of humility not known in previous natures; but in a new dynamic. To break apart a sense of safety for a sense of adventure. To fill the voids of emotional mystery.

    To ride the waves of the dream world. I seek to do all this and more... and so much more.

    Evermore. For the past is that which is no more, and the future always alludes one. So in this time, that will soon pass to the past, I ask for a sign of the coming days. A sign to show the way. So that I may blaze that which will stand in my path, for this was not a life of no consequence, nor was it a life of unfullfilment.

    This was the life of me.
    And that was not all that I am.

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    The Middle Aisle Critique: November 2nd 2010

    It has recently come to my attention that so few truly great films have come out in the last month or so. I have high hopes for the rest of the season; but in terms of "true buzz" I have heard hardly a peep out of anyone. Personally I find that films such as Inception (2010) and Toy Story (2010) have much more to offer this year than previously concluded. It is in these two films that the essence of form, and integration (on the part of an idea becoming a reality/phenomenom) that presents the greatest case (thusfar) for Best Picture contenders. It is hard to say what the Academy will do with the Best Animated Feature Film section of the awards, due to their increase to the optimal "top 10" brackett including UP (2009) last year. But regardless of that, we can expect both films to do very well at the awards season.

    With that thought out of the way, what films actually do look like they have the potential to stir some buzz whether in the Oscars or at the Box Office:

    Intriguing:
    • 127 Hours (Danny Boyle- D; James Franco stars): As with Boyle's other films, it would take an actual viewing to truly understand how the film itself plays out. 127 hours is based on the true story of a man whose extreme outdoor adventuring traps him with his arm caught under a rock for 127 hours. I can't imagine anything more excruciating! After an intial viewing, some audiences were truly shocked by the realism that Franco's performance delievered; but will it be enough to set this one on the top roster?
    • Deathly Hallows Part 1 (David Yates-D; Daniel Radcliffe stars): Now I am not necessarily suggesting that Deathly Hallows 1 will be of any Oscar quality but in looking at the series progression and the fact that they split the film into two full features due to a desire to reflect the adaption perfectly, leads one to think that they are pouring a lot into this one.
    • The Kings Speech (Tom Hooper-D; Colin Firth stars): If you haven't watched the trailer for this one, do yourself a favor and get over to Apple Trailers! In an odd twist, a historical film with a sense of reflected humor on the times it portrays. Geoffery Rush looks to be in top form as well, as does Firth who was nominated last year for "A Single Man".
    • Black Swan (Daren Aronofsky-D; Natalie Portman stars): Regardless of how I feel about Natalie Portman, I don't like her too much, I must say that she looks perfect in this film. The film feels so mysterious and psychologically congruent, that Aronofsky might see his film go all the way to the top. I felt myself checking if any feathers were poking out of my back at the end of that trailer.
    • The Tourist (Florian Donnersmarck-D; Johnny Depp/Angelina star): In something of a rare twist for Mr. Depp, he is being featured in a film where he plays a regular guy! Who would have thought that would happen again? haha. Regardless, if you look past the poorly edited trailer, and think about the obvious Hitchcockian references, it leads one to wonder if this film (along with The American) aren't a sign of changing times for smart thrillers. Now if I could only get the aftertaste of "Fair Game" or "The Next Three Days" trailers out of my mouth...
    • The Tempest (Julie Taymor-D: Hellen Miren stars): Shakespeare has become more interesting to me as I age, and I definitely see the value his plays can have when adapted to film. Taymors "Titus" is a remarkable film, as is Lurmanns "Romeo+Juliet", and As You Like it was a good adaption; but it will be nice to see another stab at Shakespeare taken outside of established societal constraint. Watch the trailer and you will see what I mean.
    • Tron Legacy (Joseph Kosinski-D; Jeff Bridges stars): How epically cool does this film look? The combination of a high class cast, Daft Punk infused soundtrack, fantastic production design, and Disney's biggest payout leads one to believe that Tron might be this years Avatar. My vote is on it actually having a good story behind all the visuals, which includes the first full CGI human face ontop of someone elses!
    • True Grit (Coen Bros.-D; Jeff Bridges/Matt Damon/Josh Brolin star): The Western is a lost artform rarely done correctly in this day and age. With that simple statement in place, the exception to the rule has been the Coen Brothers. With the releases of "No Country for Old Men" (Academy Award Winner for Best Picture in 2008) and There Will Be Blood (Academy Award Nominee for Best Picture), we find that in this day and age, the "true grit" of western story telling is being deconstructed and rebuilt in various forms. These two forms: classic and revisionist both have the potential to jumpstart the genre which has hardly been touched since the horrendous Open Range back in 2003. True Grit has all the offerings of a great movie, and then some, and we might just see Bridges take home an Oscar for the second year in a row.
    • Blue Valentine/ the other Ryan Gosling film: Though I only know that both of these films have made a stir for Goslings acting credibility, I don't know much more about them. In the same vein as "Revolutionary Road" both films seem to crawl under the skin of modernity in romance and work in ways that immediately feel uncomforting. Its intriguing.
    • Biutiful (Innaritu-D; Javier Bardem stars): I immediately was intrigiued by the deconstructivist trailer showcasing this film, which further convinces me that Javier Bardem is underused in todays film scheme, and is truly one of the best to come out in the last 5 years.
    Well that's all for now. Tune in for more reviews, and articles.
    Cheers,
    Eric

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Grad of the 21st: Vol. 3- Homelessness

    Young Adult Homelesness

    Regardless of the fact that the above article is from AOL, I found it interesting enough. I really like the line, "the hardest issues for this generation of young adults have been magnified by a recession that is especially hard/unforgiving for young people." Tell me about it. Seriously I know so many passionate people who would do anything to live out their dreams, yet who do not have jobs... including myself.

    Something to think about.

    Cheers

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    The Quixotic Quotable

    "Sometimes I put on a flannel shirt and drink pabst while sitting and thinking about that Bruce Springsteen album "The River". It makes me wanna be a railroad worker or a harbor loader...or something like that"
    -Eric

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Thursdays IV: High Seas + Oceanites

    "The first thing that goes through a captain's head when he hears there's low morale goin' around is: "What'd I do? Is it all my fault? "Well, he's probably right. Most of us have been together a long time. There are others that were here before that. Do you all not like me anymore? I mean, what am I supposed to do? I don't know. Look, if you're not against me... don't cross this line. If yes, do. I love you all."- Zissou


    Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go on an overnight drunk, and in 10 days I'm going to set out to find the shark that ate my friend and destroy it. Anyone who wants to join me is more than welcome.


    Nobody knows what's going to happen. And then we film it. That's the whole concept.
     
    Don't point that gun at him, he's an unpaid intern.
     
     
    Cheers,
    Happy Thursday

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    observances

    Ever notice how when people say, "well anyone that knows me knows I...", that no one in the room seems to know that about them. Its as if the person has this preconcieved notion of themselves that everyone was supposed to keep up on; but ultimately failed to recognize.

    Examples:
    • People who know me say I throw a great layup (he doesn't)
    • Anyone that knows me knows that I love my soap operas (who cares?)
    • Everyone knows that I am an accomplished poet (please, don't be so modest)
    I guess if someone is going to make a statement like that, they should say something shocking afterwards...like that they killed a guy or something.

    Grandparents do what Parents don't, in that they agitate an already steaming kettle. In an instance occurring in Barnes n Noble, the mother seems firm on not giving a screaming child what he wants, whereas the Grandmother (after the boy starts to calm down) decides that she is going to bring it back up again only to say the exact same thing to the same result.

    I wonder what some people find as manageable for an affordable meal. Obviously fast food offers up the cheapeast options; but honestly that only occurs when you purchase $1.00 items. You still end up paying $4.00 to get a "full" meal, which is $3.00 cheaper than the preordained meal would have been anyways. Do people search for convienance (just ordering a meal), or to save a few bucks is it worth the hassle of a complicated order? Honestly having zero money makes me wish I had food even more than before. Now it seems that food is a rare outing, or an annual allowance... I don't like that feeling; but I suppose its partially my fault for not planning better (with money for the last 6 years). I don't particularly like fast food anymore; but a nice cafe with a sandwhich or a salad bar or a good resturant... well these are beyond my pay grade.

    I wonder, as someone who is instinctively pursuing writing, if it really is that difficult to get published. I am looking at this table next to me, and upon its base are a line of trashy vampire romance novels. These knockoffs of Twilight and similiar properties leads me to question whether originality is actually a problem for getting something "out there". Obviously the flow to this table is minimal and the monthly unit sales of such "works" are probably minimal, but it just gives me a sense of hope to know that if I truly put all I am into a book that it could have the potential to be seen. At least it might be on a slightly elevated table perpindicular to said vampire romance novels.

    Cheers

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    Secrets of the Social: Grad of the 21st Vol. II. /Midaisle Critique: Social Network is Relevant!

    Today it is so much easier than ever before to find who/what you are looking for. I saw the Social Network the other night and I can fairly say that it was a great movie. Does it have all the elements pulled together in the tightest fashion? No. Does it answer our burning morality questions about our generation? Not really. Instead it offers up, in a quite honest and approachable sense, the declaration that though we may find ways to create our journeys (in this example: connecting with others over social networks), we ourselves must traverse the gaps in order to truly make connection.  I don't necessarily believe that it defines my generation, as much as I feel it describes my generation. It is in our generation, and this time, that we have put aside so much on the behalf of the new and unknown. We are dreamers; but we are cynical about it. This film carries that cynicism like a worn t-shirt and it comes across very realistic.  In the process of creating a "network of community", the stability of these individuals are torn apart, redefined, and repackaged in a world that is ever-changing before them. This is a widening gap of identity, which today's graduates are facing more and more as we become more globalized, more "connected", and far less unique. The Social Network is definitely worth a watch, and I really appreciated Fincher's interpretation of Sorkin's script.


    On to other things....
    I have had three encounters in the last month or so, where my interactions with older businessmen have ended in discouragement for what I see as a widening "continental divide" of generations. Everyone has an iPad, everyone has expendable income (and time apparently), but what did they do to deserve it? Or maybe... did they deserve it? I think we have become self-absorbed with the idea that we have to compensate everything to make ourselves feel somehow superior. I'm not buying it. There seems to be no sympathy to people my age, as we don't have the experience or the prowess to elevate ourselves and instead are deemed with "cutting corners" to get by. Something about that doesn't seem right. I mean did I go to college for 4 years? yes I did. Am I paying school loans with all of the money I make? bazinga! Well then where is the justice here? I don't see it. I especially hate when these business people flaunt their positions in front of me as if I am supposed to be impressed. Well guess what! I am not. You can change the world with your life and thus change yourself, or you can  change your own individual world for the betterment of yourself. You can't do both at the same time without becoming a hypocrite. 


    I believe that in the future we will find that we will want to amend the things that we have broken in our time and along those same lines- I believe we will perhaps realize that at times the lack of meaning we adhered to will place us as the killers of objectivity. But perhaps not. I mean, the philosophy of meaning has existed for thousands of years- whose to say we are the ones to do it in. I'm not saying it, but I am throwing it out as a possible course of future-history.


    I find myself at Barnes n Noble a lot these days. I don't know if its a convenience thing, an environmental stimulator, or merely a sad puppydog-esque desire to have the money to buy books. I keep hearing about these e-book readers, and although it seems convenient to have, there is something about carrying real books that still catches my attention. I just don't think I'm sold on it yet, but maybe if someone gave it to me as a gift I'd use it. That and I, in this situation and in the iPad situation, don't have any money.


    That's why I am....a Grad of the 21st Century: pessimistic, full of wit, and down on his luck.


    Cheers

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    The Middle-Aisle Critique: Cinephobia, Textures, and the Weekly Spin

    The sweeping texturazation (wc?) of cinema astounds me. It is within the layers and depths of this complex moving artform that emotions are tied to actions and movements are tied to withstanding or withheld expression. I once wrote a paper about how I felt that cinema-environments, defined as the layered reality within the film contrasting physical environment with nonverbal individual emotions/communions, are the basis for the realm in which filmmakers build upon to tell stories. These textures then compose those building blocks into music, actors portraits, direction, and editing.

    The layered existence of a piece of art penetrates the viewer, just as we penetrate the art piece. We act as the art pieces liason, able to exemplify or destroy the spread of its influence, yet we don't have the ability to destroy that which already is, and in that sense art pieces are beyond interpretations. This relationship can thus move an audiences emotions from moments of either close connection (communion, defined as:interchange or sharing of thoughts or emotions; intimate communication ) or a cold indifference.

    In this exchange I want to quickly comment on the cold indifference. Does the voyeur then empower the recieved messages as they exist and then interpret them in a possible cinephobic reaction if the film does not capture their attention?
    Does the idea of "seen it, its old hat" become the basis for an anti-film standpoint regardless of what composes the film? Its not that anyone hates movies, well most everyone doesn't; but the point that I am trying to make is that if the textures, layers, and execution of a film do not somehow match our preconceptions, we sucuumb to a sense of cinephobia, and that is what becomes our desensitization. Could be because of their accesibility, or it may be a sign of the way the post-2000 post modern generation Y (right?) has grown to accept?

    But have we accepted it? Are we a generation that will ever find true comfort? true peace? truth?
    These are questions that are asked in films, literature, albums, and in photos, websites, in radio, in politics, in education.... that sweeping movement of enlightenment... that sense of new beginings, and new wonders!!! What would we be without this?? Perhaps THIS is why cinema draws my attention! It is not necessarily the genre or who stars in it, or even when it came out... it is the textured reality that composes itself and calls itself an artform. If we can reawaken the cinema to envelope our sense of connection, we can break down the desensitized bounderies that we place, in order to capture new and invigorating insights!

    For those of you who I have possibly lost by the layered subtextual array that I have written this in, I apologzie.

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Admiration [people,places, ideas, and other culturally relevant topics]: Tom Waits

    8/1/2010-So begins a series of blogs which focus on specific people, places, ideas, etc. that have all interested me or influenced me at some given time period. I will attempt to make these interesting even to casual readers, although if you really want to you could simply discover these things on your own and make your own mind up about it. Either way, I hope that you enjoy these selections and as always- comment!
    9/21/10- This blog project became so bulky that I had to literally stop writing it for awhile, and recently picked it up


    Tom Waits
    "The piano has been drinking, not me."- 1976 
    How do the angels get to sleep / When the Devil leaves his porch light on?-1980
    "I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things"- 1986
    "The Moon ain't romantic, its as intimidating as hell"
     "You can pour me a cab, I just can't drink no more"
    "On my gravestone I want it to say, 'I told you I was sick'"
    "My father was an exhaust manifold and my mother was a tree"
    "I primarily worry about whether there will be nightclubs in heaven"
    "If you live it up, you can't live it down"
    "If Michael Jackson wants to work for Pepsi, why doesn't he just get himself a suit and an office in their headquarters and be done with it?"
    "I've learned how to be different musical characters without feeling like I'm eclipsing myself. On the contrary, you discover a whole family living inside you"
    "I was born in the back seat of a Yellow Cab in a hospital loading zone and with the meter still running. I emerged needing a shave and shouted 'Time Square, and step on it!'"
    *All quotes reviewed and cited from: http://www.tomwaits.com/wit/


    Introduction
    Tom Waits is interesting folk. His music combines, almost seamlessly, the fundamentals of jazz, folk, and americana with combining his own blend of beatnik spoken word, bellowing piano ballads, and experimental instrument arrangements done up in a variety of a gruff vaudevillian composure that have in themselves become their own unique brand of music. His songs are riffled with downtrodden vagrants, and drunken lovers; and yet, somehow in the midst of sometimes chaotic or even scattered orchestrations, Waits somehow brings a humanity to even the lowest social chain unmentionables. It is almost cinematic watching his albums unfold in post modern disenfranchised stories where morality is always a question based on the voyeur's perspective and not on a universal set of philosophical sanctions. Never adhering to mainstream sentiments, Waits is an accomplished playwright as well, and has based many of his 1990s albums around his own subject material. His involvement in the music industry has led him to partnerships in film as well, resulting in several supporting roles under directors like Jim Jarmusch (Down by Law, Coffee and Cigarettes, Mystery Train), Terry Gilliam (Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus) and close friend Francis Ford Coppola (The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, and Bram Stokers Dracula). Waits continues writing to this day with his wife and greatest inspiration, Kathleen Brennan








    What makes him noteworthy?

    On popularity and the limelight:
    The answer to the question above is personality. As I noted before, Tom Waits is interesting folk, and with an introduction like that it should be semi-obligatory that he should be virtually unclassifiable in his style. Somehow this is an artist who attempts to recreate himself with every album, and does so without the slightest regard for what remains popular. A good example of how others have reacted to him and his stance on "the limelight" is seen in this interview from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (and the song he played, just for kicks! hah) Waits was discouraged by the music of the 1960s and took it upon himself to seek out music from "lost generations" to find the essence of a true sound, instead of listening into what others were deeming good. It is this approach that has followed him throughout his career, and has made him a legend in the industry. 


    Notorious for his stance against appearing in advertisements, Waits has successfully sued three major companies for misusing his songs. When asked he replied, 
    "apparently the highest compliment our culture grants artists nowadays is to be in an ad — ideally naked and purring on the hood of a new car . I have adamantly and repeatedly refused this dubious honor." 
    On Sound and Creation: 
    Waits is a musicians musician, in that he isn't a typical pop culture figure. His lyrics speak as a caretaker for the downtrodden would, and his musical philosophy echoes in his usage of sound arrangements to capture raw emotional pathways. In several interviews Mr. Waits has declared that his greatest interest is the discovery of new sounds, and that when he happens upon new ways for creating unique sounds, he takes advantage of the opportunities. Sometime after Heartbreak and Vine, he began to use instrumentation uncommon in rock music such as the bagpipes, pump organs, offbeat percussion, bassoon, waterphonechamberlain, and stroh violins. Information on these and numerous other instruments can be found at: http://www.tomwaitslibrary.com/instruments-main.html
    On the matter of sound creation, Waits noted:
     "Your hands are like dogs, going to the same places they've been. You have to be careful when playing is no longer in the mind but in the fingers, going to happy places. You have to break them of their habits or you don't explore; you only play what is confident and pleasing."
    Connections:
    His most noteworthy contemporaries include characters such as Keith Richards (contributed to the album Rain Dogs on songs such as: Black Mariah, Union Sq., and Blind Love), Warren Zevon, and Frank Zappa. Waits is one of the most covered artists with something around the avenue of 100 verified versions of his songs sung by other artists. Waits is also an avid contributor to film soundtracks, and even met his wife on the set of One from the Heart.


    Many Tom Waits songs have been covered over the years, sometimes to greater success than the original Waits' version. Much of this has to do with Waits inconsistency in large tours, his lack of music video collections, and his much less accessible song style (as compared to say, The Eagles or Rod Stewart).


    Notable Covers of Tom Waits:


    The Eagles- Old '55
    Neko Case- Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis
    Scarlett Johansson- the album Anywhere I lay my Head, is a cover album full of Tom Waits songs. Anywhere I lay my Head
    Alison Krauss, Robert Plant, and T-Bone Burnett- Trampled Rose
    Tori Amos- Time
    Holly Cole- the album Temptation, Jersey Girl
    Rod Stewart- Downtown Train
    Bruce Springsteen- Jersey Girl


    Noteworthy Songs/Albums:
    To recommend just one song from Waits 40-year career that could possibly sum up his entire being is difficult. Some artists this comes naturally, e.g. "Stairway to Heaven" for Led Zeppelin, or "Free Bird" for Lynrd Skynrd; but with Waits it comes down to the question, "which era was his best?"


    1970s
    As previously stated, Waits has systematically changed his style every decade for the last 40 years. For the 1970s he was a crooning piano ballad writer with poetic sensibilities following him from rundown motels to hole in the wall taverns over the course of an entire album.  It seems that the albums themselves reflected real life struggles as Waits relays his emotions during his career at the time,
    "I was sick through that whole period [...] It was starting to wear on me, all the touring. I'd been traveling quite a bit, living in hotels, eating bad food, drinking a lot — too much. There's a lifestyle that's there before you arrive and you're introduced to it. It's unavoidable" (McGee, 29)
    The 1970s period is full of some of Toms' most unique and memorable songs, such as: "Old '55" (popularized by The Eagles cover version of the same name), The Piano is Drinking (Not Me), Fumblin with the Blues, Drunk on the Moon, Heart of Saturday Night, Tom Trauberts Blues, Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis, Red Shoes by the Drugstore, The One that Got Away, Hope I don't Fall in Love with you, Whistlin' Past the Graveyard, and A Sweet Little Bullet from a Pretty Blue Gun. Personally I always found "Blue Valentine" to be the most fascinating of Waits' 70s pieces, with "The Heart of Saturday Night", running a close second, and pieces of "Closing Time" coming in third.




    #1- Blue Valentine (1978)


    Notable Tracks:


    Red Shoes by the Drugstore- A quick jabbing tale of a downtown street at night. Waits' voice echoes down the alley walls, banging off trashcans and puddles of rainwater, as he moves us to an amassed state of observational sustenance, as if to say the world has more to see than what any one person could identify by experience alone.


    Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis- Typically most music critics will associate "Christmas Card" as one of Tom Wait's most popular tunes. It certainly earns that position by simply telling a good story and telling it well. The premise behind the song is simple: A prostitute from Minneapolis gets pregnant and writes a letter to her former lover/client Charlie, updating him on all that's happened to her in the last few months. Tom Waits gives us a "prostitute of gold", in the sense that we truly feel connected to this woman's struggles without ever harnessing a sense of judgement. Waits portrayal gives her a humanity, that other artists may not have included. Check out this video of Waits singing "Christmas Card" live back in 1978.


    "Romeo is Bleeding"- My all time favorite Tom Waits tune, as it truly conveys Waits' southern California roots. The tale of a gang member shot up in Los Angeles, Romeo is a perfect example of tragedy outside the law, and  Wait's streetwise jazz growl brings out the nit and grit of Los Angeles's underside with a true atmosphere of ego dueling.


    Other Notable Tracks include: Whistlin' Past the Graveyard, Somewhere (from West Side Story), and Blue Valentines.
    #2- The Heart of Saturday Night (1974)

    The Heart of Saturday Night is probably the most accessible album that Tom Waits has issued. The style is very down to earth and Wait's plays upon the subtleties of a nightclub lifestyle as if the world after dark is somehow brighter than the daytime. It is in this sophomore release from Waits, that he discovers the rythm that would carry him until swordfishtrombones, and manifests the persona that would eventually become the public notion of Waits.




    Notable Tracks:
    - Shiver me Timbers: a very Billy Joelesque tune that really plays well to Wait's vocals.
    -Drunk on the Moon: a precursor to "The Piano has been Drinking (not me)"
    -Please call me Baby
    -Heart of Saturday Night


    #3- Closing Time (1972)

    Closing Time is probably the most overlooked Waits album, as it was not only his first album but also included his first coverable song (Old '55 which was covered by The Eagles). The album doesn't really find its true sound, and thus it is mentionable only for the fact that it was his first; yet avid Waits fans may find solace in works such as: Old 55, I Hope that I don't Fall in Love with you, Closing Time, and Lonely.




    The Midaisle Critiques Tom Waits Playlist
    1. Old '55 (Closing Time)
    2. I hope that I don't fall in love with you (Closing Time0
    3. Lonely (Closing Time)
    4. Burma Shave (Foreign Affairs)
    5. Fumblin' with Blues (Heart of Sat. Night)
    6. Drunk on the Moon (Heart of Sat. Night)
    7. The One That Got Away (Small Change)
    8. Piano has been Drinking (not me) (Small Change)
    9. Christmas Card for a Hooker in Minneapolis (Blue Valentine)
    10. Red Shoes by the Drugstore (Blue Valentine)
    11. Whistlin' Past Graveyard
    12. Downtown (Heartattack and Vine)
    13. Singapore/Clap Hands (Rain Dogs) 
    14. Hang Down Your Head (Rain Dogs)
    15. Gun Street Girl (Rain Dogs)
    16. Time (Rain Dogs)
    17. Union Sq. (Rain Dogs)
    18. Walking Spanish (Rain Dogs)
    19. Downtown Train (Rain Dogs)
    20. anywhere I lay my head (Rain Dogs)
    21. swordfishtrombones (swordfishtrombones)
    22. just another sucker on the vineyard (swordfishtrombones)
    23. down down down (swordfishtrombones)
    24. alice (alice)
    25. I Don't Wanna Grow Up (Bone Machine)
    26. little drop of poison (Orphans)
    27. trampled rose (Mule Variations)
    28. Get Behind the Mule (Mule Variations)
    29. Hold On (Mule Variations)
    30. Big in Japan (Mule Variations)
    ** As this blog has taken me over two months, I have decided to end it here. Waits is a fantastic artist with much to offer. If you find that you like his 1970s work, definitely check out the triage: Rain Dogs, Swordfishtrombones, and Frank's Wild Years; as well as later works such as Alice, Glitter and Doom, and Mule Variations (for which he won two grammys for). Thank you, and goodnight.

    In closing.... a clip from Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes! and a video for "Jockey full of Bourbon"