Wassup Rockers

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the movies category.

Catch Up.

First off I just want to say that Gustavo Cerati had a stroke recently and I was pretty freaked out about it, but it seems like the prognosis is cautiously optimistic.  I thought he might die and I was very worried for his family, but hopefully he’ll recover bit by bit without any problem. ¡Fuerza Gustavo, te queremos mucho!

On Thursday I spent a shitload of cash on trinkets to make me marginally happier about my existence. I originally intended to go buy some albums—Jamie Lidell, Jónsi, Janelle Monáe, others whose names don’t start with J—but I happily improvised my day out and found some other great stuff instead.

On Wednesday I went to Housing Works to check out the Black Keys pop-up store they set up in the bookstore.  I got there around 5 but they’d already closed up because the band was gonna play that evening.  So I returned the next day and I bought myself a copy of Brothers.  It’s actually my first Black Keys album!  I didn’t know which of the older ones to choose.  In theory I’ve always liked them, but it’s always been from a respectful distance.  The main reason I bought something from the pop-up store is that a percent of the proceeds went to Housing Works.  It’s also the reason why I was willing to part with my cash money even though the record was “expensive.”  It was almost $30 and that was… a lot for me, way more than I usually pay for vinyl.  Pretty much worth the money though–it’s a double LP plus came with a CD version as well.  Well played, Nonesuch Recs.

The first single, “Tighten Up,” has two videos and they’re both hilarious.  There’s a teaser vid with a puppet (YEAHHH!!!), and an official one with kids at a playground.  The official one is pretty heteronormative and even sexist (depending on how you read it) so I gotta roll my eyes at it a little, but it’s still incredibly funny.  My favorite part is when Dan Auerbach throws that kid on the ground when he sees the pretty lady.  It cuts away from that moment so fast that it’s easy to miss, but when I saw I could not fucking stop laughing.  Belly laughs, too.  So fucking incredible.  The best part is, I actually prefer the teaser video!  I’m totally a puppet sympathizer so for me, a soulful croonin’ dinosaur puppet = heaven.

Some other vids I’ve seen recently: Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own,” which is an all right song but wasn’t that interesting visually except for one of the cute outfits in it, and MIA‘s “Born Free,” which in the past month or so has caused plenty of verbiage committed to its existence.

But how come no one told me that the director of “Born Free,” Romain Gavras, also directed that one Justice’s “Stress”?  Love how “Stress” has not been banned by YouTube the way “Born Free” has been.  Hm…  It seemed like a lot of the commentary was on how this video fits into MIA’s oeuvre and for me that’s slightly more difficult to consider than when I think of how “Born Free” and “Stress” complement each other.  The two videos are pretty frightening visions of authority and disobedience and violence and power—and these visions are particularly male and adolescent.  Oof.  Seriously gnarly.

Much lighter in tone is the vid for “Por la ventana,” the new track by Gepe which you can see below.  It’s pretty simple and it’s not conceptually innovative, but the execution is committed and effective, and everyone seems to be having fun.  Very colorful, too.  Clearly demonstrating that I’m a lightweight for preferring this over Romain Gavras’s stuff, but I’m not bothered.  Gepe’s song is off the hook!  I can’t wait for his new album, Audiovisión, to come out.  I’ve been really keen on the direction his music has taken in the past year or so.

Shit I got seriously sidetracked…  Anyway, after I stopped by Housing Works, I found myself at East Village Books.  I stayed for like an hour, mainly because they were playing this Carter Family album.  I hummed along to most of it while I browsed.  I got a copy of Eunoia!  Really clean condition, too.  I’m very happy about it.  I walked out as the Carters wailed away on “Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?”

I also swung by Forbidden Planet, got me Brief Lives (that’s volume 7 of Sandman) and Optic Nerve #8, which means I have own every issue of ON now.  I still need one more Sandman though.  I’m working on it.

In other news, I finally got In the Loop and Breaking Bad season 2 from the library.  I was very excited about the former as I recently read the script for it and I just loved it.  So it was nutty watching it and seeing how different it was from what I’d imagined, from the sets to the setup of shots to the line delivery.  I am surprised that the In the Loop DVD is seriously lacking in features.  Mainly, there’s no commentary track at all; I seriously would have loved to hear about the story, the production and how it fits in with The Thick of It, etc.  Oh well.  The movie’s still pretty awesome, really funny.

Breaking Bad… well, I got it last month, only got through the first 10 eps, so I queued myself up all over again (I know!) and now that I got the DVD I can finished the damn season.  And believe me, it seriously makes you go “DAMN!”  Very stressed out from it, but in a good way.  Trying to decide whether to catch up online before the end of season 3.  It’s gonna take forever for the DVD to come out.  I guess I better decide soon since the finale’s only a few episodes away, but I don’t know how much BB I can take without my head exploding from the tension.

I’ve also been checking out Justified, which is quite breezy in comparison.  I’m very charmed by Timothy Oliphant (read: he’s hot) and by all the twangy twanginess coming out of everyone’s dialogue.  I don’t know that I’d call it superb, but I like it enough to stick with it.  It’s not lacking in poignancy either, which makes it so much easier to like.

A few weeks ago I got the Spaced DVD from the library, too.  I didn’t get through all the commentaries before it was due, which sucks, but in some of them Simon Pegg mentioned he used to do stand up.  I had to look it up, and thank god some kind soul (his mom??  LMAO) uploaded this:

Fucking adorable.  The routine isn’t bad, actually, it’s just that the material is fairly traditional.  Good stage presence though, and I loved how the last bit ended—the crowd response is so awful I totally cracked up.

Something else that’s totally been cracking me up: Parks and Recreation.  I caught up to the final episodes of the season and they were fucking pitch perfect.  I enjoyed this season tremendously and obviously it’s because the writing has been off the hook and the ensemble totally delivers on it!  Paul Schneider and Rashida Jones were a bit misused but for the most part the characters grew and I found plenty to love about them.  Except Jerry.  Jerry sucks.  ;)

The really amazing thing is that even though it’s incredibly funny, to the point where I’m guffawing and gasping for air, I find myself really moved by some of the developments.  It’s weird.  I don’t want to let myself get taken in by a fucking sitcom and yet the show is so good at what it does that, when the grumptastic 20-year-old April failed to get into a bar and her potential date with the ever-goofy Andy came to a premature end, I got a bit teary-eyed.  Just writing about it doesn’t even begin to describe why I got emotional—the expressions on their faces killed me…  And these are supporting players!  But they still bring it.  Shit, I’d tell y’all to watch the fucking show but HEY because of its weak ratings it’s become a mid-season replacement, so it might be a while before we see all these lovely people on TV again.  Sigh.  Hope y’all buy the DVD when it comes out!

…Can’t believe I wrote all this nonsense when I should be studying for a final. Shit.


Lost in Translation.

The Oscar nominations were announced. You can see the entire list ici.

Way back when every country was submitting their official entries for Best Foreign Language, there was a huge hullabaloo when Chile decided that they’d be submitting Dawson, isla 10 (Dawson, Island 10) rather than La nana (The Maid). La nana is a small movie, but got distribution, was well received (Golden Globe nomination!), and surprisingly, it had a fairly good run in NYC. In the US, I haven’t heard anything about Dawson, and I don’t think it’s had a run in the city. A lot of people, myself included, thought the Chilean committee made a bad strategic move.

And so, today, we see not one but two Latin American countries get nominations. This is a huge deal because historically (and understandably) the nominations for this category have been Eurocentric. Well, both of the nominees are neighbors to Chile: Argentina and Perú. So imagine how utterly disappointed I am that Chile had a good chance, and basically they blew it. Obviously this isn’t a dis to the Argentinean and Peruvian movies nominated, El secreto de sus ojos and La teta asustada. I’m really excited for them!

I’m not even dissing the Chilean committee for their submission, either. You want your best chances, and I guess for some reason they thought Dawson, isla 10 was that chance.

No, I’m mad about the submissions policy. This is just further proof of how weird and fucked up the rules are. I mean what the fuck is this “1 country 1 rule” business! AUGHHH!

On a side note for more outrage: Lee Daniels, nominated for Precious, is only the second black nominee for Best Director, and Kathryn Bigelow, nominated for The Hurt Locker, is only the fourth female nominee for Best Director. (See here.) And this is in the 80+ year history of the Oscars! Cripes.

Fresh Stuff.

(1) Oh, god! Guilty as charged. Seriously, I just sent an email to someone just this week. Obviously I’d like an answer but I’m not gonna slit my wrists if I don’t.

(2) I watched some videos with Daniel Alarcón being interviewed–or rather, being entrevistado–and I totally felt ashamed that my speaking Spanish is not as good as his. (You can watch a really good one ici.) No seriously, his accent is like nonexistent. Damn. But then I watched una entrevista with Junot Díaz and I felt much better. Junot speaks Spanish the way I speak Korean–it’s just sad. Haha. Though in my defense, I’m barely coherent in English as well.

(3) I’ve been pretty synth-happy with my music. Lotta Lisa Lisa avec Cult Jam, and Tears for Fears.

Dude, I can’t wait to get my library science degree.

(4) Tried to go see the Tim Burton exhibit at MoMa. It was mostly a bust. Although I expected crowds I didn’t imagine the massiveness of the multitudes. Deserved, obviously. I got to see some stuff, but for the most part I was too hot and too short to be bothered. In the lower levels, where the movie theaters are located, there was more Burton stuff, posters and also some blow-ups of Polaroids he’s taken. Very beautiful and creepy. Much less crowded, too, thank the lord. Also less crowded: the Gabriel Orozco and Bauhaus exhibits. I loved them!

(5) Last week I saw A Single Man, and it was beautiful. Wonderfully acted, poignant and sweet story, and this incredible and subtle use of color that was done very effectively. Some of the music was by Shigeru Umebayashi, always a plus. Really curious to read the novel now, as well as After Many a Summer Dies the Swan. Except I already have such a long queue of books to read for this new year. Sigh.

Playing “What If…?”

Here are some thoughts, unorganized, maybe inflammatory, but sincere and very much based on my own experience growing up.

I was reading this post on Racialicious on Excuse My Gangsta Ways, a documentary short about a young woman who was involved in gang life from the ages of 12 to 17 and her journey to transition out of that subculture and into being a “normal” person.

Oh, and the young woman, Davina Wan, happens to be Chinese-American, so for some reason I just looked at the picture and I really had to wonder if at one point in my life I could have been that girl in the picture.

To elaborate: when my family first moved to the US, one of the things my parents emphasized over and over and over to me and my brother was that we should be careful to make good friends. At this point in my life, I’m still struggling to be a good friend, but the people I’ve chosen and with whom I’ve connected have been, by and large, really positive and inspiring and fun friends. But for a short while there, my parents really worried about whether our adjustment to American life would be a success or a failure. They knew they had to work a lot and couldn’t necessarily guide our every decision the way they did when we were 2 years old.

One of my parents’ concerns was that my brother and I would end up in gangs. Of course anyone who has met me would LOL their hearts out, partly because I could pretty much get beat up by a fucking six-year-old but also because I’m not much of a “joiner.” I don’t blame y’all, it’s easy for me to chuckle about it too.

But I look at the picture of Wan and I’m like, well, she doesn’t seem like the type of girl who’d “attend 35 funerals before the age of 18.” This young woman joined her gang when she was 12! Can you imagine what sort of pressures led her there?

What my parents kept telling me about gangs is that they only pretend to be your friends, that it’s conditional love. For some people, the conditional love of a gang is better than no love, better than no stability. These gang members will tell you they’re gonna be your second family (or sometimes your only family), but ONLY if you succeed in your initiation. ONLY if you carry out whatever tasks the higher ups want you to do and ONLY if you don’t get out of line. And don’t even think about getting out, this shit is X VIDA. My parents would try to scare me straight with all sorts of stories: “You know what they have you do to join? They have everyone in the group beat the shit out of you until you’re barely breathing, and your face is unrecognizable,” and already being so sorry-looking, I was all like, “Erm… yeah, I’ma go back to reading my BSC books.”

Now, you’d think my parents would know me well enough to know that gang life was never gonna be a career move for me or my brother, but if things had unraveled the way they did in Davina Wan’s life, who knows what kind of shit trouble I would have gotten into.

I don’t know. I mean, in my case, the whole issue of growing up in one country and then having to transplant your entire life to another country where you don’t speak the language–that’s a huge deal. And I guess my parents thought that I’d look for a support group with people who looked like me. My parents knew that public school in the Bronx wasn’t gonna be easy-peasy, especially when you were the only Asian kid in the Spanish/English bilingual class. My parents had already heard of other immigrant families who had struggled to have their kids succeed.

Oddly enough, this led me, and I think my brother as well, to set ourselves apart from other immigrant Korean kids. A lot of them tended to run in groups, they would all fall in line and they all seemed to like the same music and all dress the same way and to me it was just such a joke.  I couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm to pretend that I liked H.O.T. and S.E.S. and dye my fucking hair red and all that shit that was happening in the late 90s/early 00s. Most of these kids obviously end up fine, because they know there’s so much at stake to have your parents abandon their old lives just so you can have better opportunities. Most of these immigrant kids end up having pretty healthy interests and friendship circles, they join church groups or sports teams bands or, I don’t know, knitting groups. My brother and I fall into that category, but at the same time I think it was very necessary for us to set ourselves apart from other Korean-American kids because we thought that, even though most of these kids are good and not in violent gangs, there was still a group mentality that was stifling to me.

When you’re 12… It’s not even a strictly immigrant kid life narrative, though the immigration situation played a major part in my life story. But at 12, you just want to find a reliable group of friends and you’re looking to define who you are because if you don’t know who you are and what your interests are how are you gonna find friends who connect at your level and blah blah blah. A lot of times you’re not sure of who you are anymore so you wonder where you should turn. So sometimes the whole idealized concept of a gang, of protection and loyalty, can look real fucking alluring. I can see how shit can go really wrong in a kid’s life.

What am I trying to say? This is all so muddled, I’m sorry. Well, reading the Racialicious post, all I could think was, “Damn… I’m really lucky.” I doubt I might have ended up in a rough position like Davina Wan, but who knows if, at a particularly low point, I would have resigned myself to make a decision as drastic as joining a gang. I see how lucky I was, to have a stable home life with overworked but vigilant parents who really made me into a priority in their lives. I’m just acknowledging that I’m really grateful to my parents, that for every times I’ve bitched about them being overprotective, there’s way more times that I’ve felt thankful that they care about my safety and health and that they love me (unconditionally!). That’s a privilege that sadly not everyone gets, and I’m aware of that. C’est tout.

Oh wait, actually–I wrote all these words without even having seen the short.  So obviously this is way less a commentary on the film or on Davina Wan’s life, and more about myself.  I do want to see it on a big screen, it’s the sort of life narrative that you don’t hear about enough…

Who’s Watching?

Last year I heard about Antonio Campos’s Afterschool and I thought it sounded lame.  Like why would I care about angsty privileged teenagers desensitized by the technology that surrounds them blah blah blah.  But now it’s in a theatrical run and the reviews are out, there’s been plenty of press… and they’ve been pretty damn positive.  So it seriously caught my attention.

Impulsively, I went to the movie theater after work and bought myself a ticket even though I have a test tomorrow.  It was my first time at Cinema Village.  Can you imagine?  I passed by the theater almost every week for four years (the school newspaper offices were across the street) and as much as I love movies I never fucking went in!  I was also very curious by this Vulture post about Antonio Campos, which mentioned that he’d be willing to meet with audience members for coffee if they couldn’t make it to a screening with a Q&A.  I just wasn’t sure if it was for real, but I can confirm that it’s actually true.  Not sure if anyone has tried it out though.  I’m gonna call him tomorrow and see if I can talk to him about the movie.

The movie was really good and I’m pretty sure I liked it, too.  Maybe.  I mean there were definitely uncomfortable scenes, like this one sequence where this kid talks shit about another kid’s sister and it’s just long and lewd and you’re just like, “Please, just put a bar of soap in this kid’s mouth so he’ll shut the fuck up” and all the other kids sitting around the lunch table are like trying to ignore the filthy kid and…  I don’t know, I was just squirming.

The subject of the movie and the way it’s handled is pretty heavy, too.  But I never felt bored, I was always wondering what was going to happen next.  And there were a couple of familiar faces–Rosemarie DeWitt, who barely shows her face, and Michael Stuhlbarg, whose Hamlet did nothing for me at Shakespeare in the Park last year so it was pretty awesome to see that he’s actually a good actor when not doing drastically “interesting” interpretations of Shakespeare.  (Wow, that last sentence makes me sound like a bitch…  Sorry dude!  Congrats on the Coen Bros. movie!)

Fuck, okay, my post is already too long.  I want to dwell on the movie extensively but basically, the movie was cool and you should go see it and feel uncomfortable.  Also, there was a Q&A after the screening I attended; Campos wasn’t there cos apparently he was too busy partying hard with Michael Haneke (heh), but he sent his producer Josh… Josh something.  Unfortunately I didn’t catch his last name.  Well, the sucky thing is that by the time he came to do the Q&A the credits were over and almost everyone was gone.  The producer guy seemed kinda bummed.  There were literally four of us with him in the theater, so we just had a heart-to-heart about art and inspiration and la-dee-da.

Okay, not really.  But it was seriously fun and since the producer dude wouldn’t answer any questions about the content of the film (and believe me, I have plenty of questions about the story itself), I asked him a lot of questions about just the more business-y stuff.  It was a nice Q&A, if only because it really felt more like a conversation.  Some Q&As can be quite lame, but this one was pretty sweet.

A Long Walk on the Beach.

Last year, after a screening debacle downtown at the Quad, the management gave me a free movie pass to appease me.  The pass was good for a year and just as it was about to expire, I finally found a movie that I wanted to see.  I mean, I tried using the pass at the Hola Mexico event for Desierto adentro, but since they wouldn’t let me redeem it, I used it last week to see Les plages d’Agnès.  It was a movie by Agnès Varda reflecting on her life.  I don’t know anything about Varda but I remember hearing about this specific movie a little while ago and being absolutely charmed and entranced by the trailer.

Of course I really hoped the movie would live up to the awesomeness displayed on the trailer, and I’m happy that it’s pretty much what I expected.  I must mention it was my third time at the Quad, and this was by far the most crowded screening I’ve attended at the theater, partly because it’s been well-reviewed and partly because I went on a date night.

I don’t know how other people feel about biographical films but I liked that this work, though loosely chronological, still had these sort of tangents and pauses that made it feel far more organic than the typical Humble Beginnings-Rise to the Top-Reflections on the Good Ol’ Days narrative arc that biographical works tend to have.  There were a lot of moments to experience rather than being told by this or that talking head about a memory or having this or that individual reenacting some past event.  I also liked that she acknowledged the role of memory in the making of the film.

Even though it was clear that Varda was posing one reading of her life for the cameras, it still felt authentic and honest.  It may have a lot to do with the fact that she got to tell her story her own damn way, thankyouverymuch.  I found that very inspiring and empowering, like when she stated that one of the reasons she had to quit her Hollywood aspirations was because the studios wouldn’t give her final cut.  It’s just that how many women artists do you know who forge their own paths for most of their life and then get to tell you about this life on their own terms?  Refreshing.  If only more women were given the chance to do the same.

I think one of the greatest charms of the movie was just seeing the incongruent image of the older Varda and seeing bits and pieces of her photography and film work.  In her work I detected a real independent spirit, a bit of a punkass.  But seeing her at 80 year old, her hair haphazardly dyed, wrinkles on her face… and hearing her speaking softly about Jacques Demy, the love of her life, and how she loves her children and grandchildren, you think, maybe that’s all a person wants and needs in life.  To have children, and to care for them and love them, and to see them grow and fluorish into their own selves, and all of one’s achievements don’t seem as important and crucial as much as spending your life loving and being loved.

She didn’t even seem very keen on discussing the French New Wave as much as talking about her friends and family, some of whom just happen to be famous.

It was a very sweet movie, and fun, too.  But thinking about it leaves me melancholy, too.  I was in a room full of old people–I guess all the young’uns went to see 500 Days of Summer or something?  Maybe I’m going absolutely batty, but watching Varda on the screen reflecting on eight decades of life, I could kinda feel this… I don’t know that I’d call it tension, but they were really really quiet, as if wondering about their own lives and how they’d choose to tell their stories.  Like that one time I went to see Julia Cho’s The Piano Teacher at the Vineyard theater, here I also felt like the mood just changed into something deeper and more personal as the film went on.

Pure speculation.  Or maybe not.

Hola Mexico Film Fest: Desierto Adentro (Rodrigo Plá) @ Quad Cinema.

Well, the Hola Mexico Film Festival ended today. I almost forgot about it, just as I pretty much forgot about TeatroStageFest this year. Seriously, I’ve just been so out of it. I feel really bad about missing the TeatroStageFest events, too, cos a couple of weeks ago I even got a call from one of their peeps reminding me about the shows. But of course at that point I was like, “Meh, there’s still time to figure out my schedule,” and of course just last night I was like, “Holy shiiiiit.”

Luckily, I remembered to attend the Hola Mexico fest. I was torn between watching Voy a explotar (I’m Gonna Explode) or Desierto adentro (The Desert Within). A while back I read about the former on Super45, and the soundtrack listing excited me, but the storyline seemed kinda boring. I was interested in the latter because it was directed by Rodrigo Plá. Last year I saw La zona, which he also directed, which was quite memorable, if not exactly perfect.  If you couldn’t tell by the title for this post, I ultimately decided on checking out Plá’s new one.

This movie wasn’t perfect either, but as it happened with La zona, it’s given me a lot to think about. Both works are lacking in hope and infuriating, which I see as a good thing.

On a superficial level, Desierto adentro could not be more different from La zona, which makes me appreciate Plá’s willingness to try different things. Whereas La zona is wrapped up in modernity, the urban and the secular, Desierto adentro is steeped in the olden days, the rural and in Catholicism. La zona, too, focuses on a close-knit community that chooses to close itself off from the corruptions of the greater society, whereas in the newer film, isolation is imposed upon the individual, and it’s never voluntary; rather, it’s meant to be experienced as a punishment.

The story is broken into four clearly marked acts, and we get cues to the main theme of each section. We meet Elías, whose choices lead to a series of events that lead him to be cursed out by a priest and disowned by his mother. A deeply religious family man, Elías understandably takes this very badly. Even worse, he loses his wife and one of his sons, Aureliano–and this is only the beginning of his troubles. (BTW, Cien años de soledad vibes, anyone? Aureliano is not a name I hear thrown around very often…)

The rest of the movie we see Elías trying to show penance for his errors, growing increasingly desperate as time passes, but what complicates things even more is that his 7 children suffer right along with him… some more than others.

We experience most of these events through the eyes of Elías’s son, Aureliano. No, not the Aureliano who dies. See, Elías’s wife was pregnant, and she died giving birth to a boy. To honor the memory of Aureliano, the baby is named after his brother. Elías sets Baby Aureliano (literally) apart from the other six surviving children, nurturing an artistic side. Some scenes feature animated versions of the pictures Baby Aureliano draws.  To a degree, Baby Aureliano thrives and finds comfort in this, but he soon comes to understand that Elías’s excuses of wanting to protect Baby Aureliano are rooted in more complex and sinister motives.

I’m sorry, I want to keep talking about it but I’m really tired and I need to work tomorrow.  I’ll try to edit it and update it mañana, maybe. :( Before I go to sleep, I want to mention the music in this movie, which was used to great effect. We only hear music intermittently, which makes it more conspicuous when it does appear. It just shows up on occasion, a naked chorus of voices, no accompaniment. It’s so creepy.

One Last Trip.

Last night I decided to go shopping at the Virgin since it’s closing. This means I missed So You Think You Can Dance, so I spent the last few hours tracking down the performances (many props to Rickey!) and although there were a couple of clunkers, I’m really excited about this group of dancers. I’d give you a breakdown of my favorite dancers but at this point I feel like my judgment is clouded by all the handsome dudes. Seriously, the whole group of dancers is stunning. By the way, there’s a reason why I had to go hunting for the performance clips: Fox doesn’t put them on the show’s site. Travesty! You’d think that Fox would be kind enough to post the stupid show on their site, but apparently they can’t be bothered. Good move, you morons!

Anyway, the Virgin had hit the 70% off mark last night, and shockingly enough they’d moved enough units to have the lower level closed off! I don’t think I’ll go back again before Sunday, which is its final day. So here is a list of the things I bought in my final trip to the Virgin at Union Square:

Crash, JG Ballard
– The Jim DeRogatis bio of the Flaming Lips
Doubt, John Patrick Shanley
A History of Violence, David Cronenberg
A Scanner Darkly, Richard Linklater
– That Arctic Monkeys DVD with that video for the one song of theirs I really dig and that features Stephen Graham
Primitive Love, Miami Sound Machine
– A Talk Talk Best Of
– A Stray Cats Best Of
Lotofire, Ely Guerra
Los de atrás vienen conmigo, Calle 13
Te quiero…, Los Temerarios
Citizen Boris, Golem
Vôo de coração, Ritchie

I need to explain my purchases. First, they’re pretty much down to shit now! There really isn’t a lot of great stuff so I do feel very happy and lucky to have gotten what I got. Seriously, even all the Spanish language Pop/Rock section is pretty much depleted. Second, the fact that everything is 70% off meant that I was willing to take more of a chance. The last three items listed, well, I’ve never listened to any of their stuff, but I thought I’d be adventurous. I’m especially curious about that Ritchie guy, who looks pretty goofy on the album cover–muito 80s, LOL. It’s too bad that I have a tendency to go for flashy and tacky, but I just couldn’t say no!!

Actually, there were definitely some items to which I said no, for various reasons. Sigh. They included a busted copy of an Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas album, as well as a Gram Parsons bio and Queens Reigns Supreme. Also, there was a Green Day bio I was eyeing… Yes, yes, my taste in music books is even odder than my regular taste in music. Now shut up about it.

I do feel ambivalent about this specific store closing, because as far as megastores went, its stock wasn’t so bad. Obviously it’s because the crowd around Union Square skews younger and more “indie,” so there was always a relatively decent vinyl section and stuff. (The Tower at Lincoln Center, in comparison, tended to have a more extensive classical/Broadway section.) I hope that a store like this closing means that the smaller, more specialized stores get to survive, whether it’s Other Music or, I dunno, Turntable Lab. Brick-and-mortar music and video stores are becoming a rare breed, that’s for sure, and you know something? It is really fucking inconvenient. Especially because the Virgin was the #1 choice for me to meet up with my friends when we hung out.

I leave you with a few highlights of my experience at the Union Square Virgin. I bought my Langley Schools record there, as well as the Young Liars EP. I got to see Franz Ferdinand throw a really nice in-store performance back when their first album came out. And perhaps the highlight of the highlights is this: I was in the store on August 14, 2003, when all the fucking lights in the city went out. Actually, I can easily say that it was one of the Top 3 worst days in my life, so it’s a shitty memory, but it’s a vivid one regardless. Stupidly enough, I didn’t steal anything from the store when the blackout happened. Haha. Damn my integrity.

Hm, I guess I kinda will miss the store. But I’m not surprised that they’re closing, c’est tout.

Speaking of music stores: Next Thursday, June 18, Insound is having a Warehouse Sale for the first time. So if you’re in NYC, you should definitely definitely check it out. I’m sure the deals won’t be massive, but imagine the shipping charges you’ll avoid! The details here. I’m not sure if I can go yet, but I’m gonna try. I highly recommend it! Although they push a lot of new stuff on their site, they still have plenty of back stock that is worth sifting through. I should know, because I used to pack everyone’s orders there. :D

Some Geekery.

– Wednesday eve I ran the fuck out of work and I made it just in time to the Broadway district.  Went to see August: Osage County.  It was tightly written, deftly acted, and beautifully staged.  There were a lot of genuine laughs and none of the actors had quirky/distracting acting styles.  Even though one of the understudies was in the production that night, the play still felt completely natural, like the entire acting team had been playing these roles together forever.  It was incredible how well everything meshed and I have to commend the director for that.  I admit that I was a bit of a hardass in the beginning, not wanting to get too involved with the story, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t move me.  I didn’t give an ovation, but I was very content that there was an emotional impact somewhere deep in my sorry little heart.

There was a pretty heavy revelation in the play that had no foreshadowing even, except when the scene where the revelation is revealed began, I understood from a mile away what was about to be revealed and so I braced myself for it.  My friend from work had warned me there was a big twist, true, but I didn’t know the nature of the twist.  All she told me was that this is not the sort of play to read before watching.  It seems that other people weren’t as ready, because the majority of the audience gasped loudly when the character finally dropped the bomb.  I could only giggle nervously when I heard everyone react.

Shameless namechecking: I’m pretty sure Lauren Hutton was in the audience.  The only reason I am kinda doubting myself about whether it was really her is that I couldn’t imagine her being as short as the woman I saw at the theater, what with Lauren Hutton being a model and all.  And I guess I couldn’t understand why she would be seeing the play a year after it opened on Broadway.  And I don’t even know if Lauren Hutton was bumming around NYC lately.  Does she live here?  But I stand by might words: I saw Lauren Hutton in the audience.

Regardless, it was well worth the money and the fact that I missed Lost.  But you mofuckers better believe I’m not gonna miss the Lost finale next week.  Hope it doesn’t suck, LOL.

– My friend from work and I went to see Star Trek today.  I am not a Star Trek person at all and my knowledge of it is minimal, so I was pretty much experiencing everything for the first time.  The movie was… kinda boring.  No, I mean… it was fun… it was okay, but it didn’t feel necessary.  Do you think it’s fucked up that I expect so much out of a fucking action movie?  Star Trek was slick, and noisy, and busy, with a lot of stuff, and a lot of good-to-great actors in bit roles, and a lot of redshirts.  There were some funny parts, too, I won’t deny it.  I liked a lot of the actors and I thought they were well cast, but when there’s so many peeps in the screen, it was like they barely got to do anything other than look good in their uniforms.  Each of the characters got a pivotal scene, or if not pivotal at least a spotlight scene, but mostly to serve either Kirk and sometimes Spock.  Other than Kirk and Spock, they have no internal growth that we can see, it just feels like a lot of cool actors wasted, c’est tout.  For example, I wish Uhura had (literally) kicked more ass, it’s like she only threw one punch, and her biggest contribution was to confirm something that Kirk said.  Oh, and I guess she played a love interest.  At least she took the initiative to kiss first.

The action was just okay, not especially well-choreographed, and I was particularly mad about the villain’s death.  It was very Darth Maul, you know, like this big looming evil presence that is discarded of fairly easily at the end.  I ended up wondering what the big deal had been with the dude.  Sheesh.  Most of the plot did make sense, which was nice, although a lot of it felt like going through the motions.  Y’know, just a lot of archetypes reaching familiar points of growth, like the rebel who grows up to be a leader, or the mixed-race dude who learns he doesn’t need to prioritize one of his races over the other and instead learns to love all of himself.  Et cetera, et cetera.

My biggest concern was that I never felt there was anything at stake.  As soon as Leonard Nimoy showed up I thought, “Well, no one has to worry about anything, everything will turn out just fine and dandy.”  It’s like, it finally hit me that in this alternate universe, the rules are so flexible I never really feel like anyone is really gonna get hurt and I’m never really gonna get emotionally invested.  Not that I want emotional manipulation in the form of  women in refrigerators and the like, but some real sense of struggle would have drawn me in more.

Another thing I think really sucks is that the movie was as good as it could have been, and I’m bummed that most likely, there will be a sequel that will just be more big explosions and playing it safe so as to please all the fans.

Oh!  And let’s not forget what we really learned in Star Trek.  (1) Cheating in tests is okay.  (2) If you ignore ALL the rules, you can still become captain of a starship and everyone will love you!!  (3) It’s fine to needle your anal-retentive frenemy into having a mini-emotional breakdown so that you can take over his job after he proves himself incapable of being level-headed enough to lead a team.

The previews were pretty wack.  The audience was mostly dudes, many at least in their 30s, though there were all these middle school boys, too.  There were some girls, many of whom were with their guys.  Okay, I’m out.  Live long and prosper, y’all.

In Case You Were Curious, Which You Most Likely Were Not.

(1) I decided recently that Roy Orbison is fucking brilliant.  I find his voice quite strange.

(2) A couple of weeks ago I went to the Virgin on Times Square and found out they were closing.  Got some cool shit.  My biggest find was a fucking Man Recordings 12″ that features Deize Tigrona.  I chortled to myself at the fact that no one had bothered to buy it and I was giddy that I had the pleasure to do so.  I was so excited, in fact, that I kinda didn’t want to listen to it, because I was so fucking sure I’d be disappointed.  But I listened anyway.  And let me tell you something–now, I know you’re going to laugh, but I wish you wouldn’t–after listening to it, I was thrilled, but I also couldn’t figure out if I’d listened to it at the right speed.  I know it makes me sound like a moron, but I’m telling you, both sides of the single are so fucking weird, so many miles away from what I recognize as funk, that I am still kinda disoriented about it.  At the same time, this disorientation makes me feel even more excited about the 12″.  The A-side in particular is off the hook.  Hee!  I think it’s gonna be one of those songs, like “Ni Fu Ni Fa,” that I’m gonna listen to years from now and still think that it’s ahead of its time.  Seriously.

(3) I also bought a copy of Scratch half price, and thank the lord cos that shit was mad expensive originally.  I started watching it today, and I couldn’t finish it cos my parents told me to stop hogging the teevee.  I’m telling you, though, it’s really fun and just watching the footage of all those DJs slouched over their turntables is so beautiful.  Okay, the sounds, I don’t care much about the result of the sounds, but fundamentally, I find it really inspiring, because you know that for them to create the music that they do, they need to go crate-diggin’ for the most beautiful sounds to their ears, and they need to learn every element in a song intimately, and I’m awed by the dedication and discipline and pure love of music they show in doing that.  I know that I don’t hear music the way they hear music, and I’m fascinated by it.  I also think it’s amazing how they take a pre-existing work and they really reinterpret it, not unlike a singer covering someone else’s song.

(4) I bought a collection of poetry by Jose Garcia Villa (v. v. hard to abstain from adding accents in his name since I’m so used to it, but he’s filipino and I’m not sure if they use them over there).  I’m only telling you this because it’s National Poetry Month and I’m enjoying the book a lot.  I didn’t know of his existence until recently, when the AAWW had an event about him.  Like Tseng Kwong Chi later on, it appears that Villa was one of those cool kids hanging out downtown who has become nothing more than a footnote in pop culture history, even though both Villa and Tseng were serious artists with significant contributions to the scene.

Anyway, reading the book and enjoying really makes me wonder why I don’t read more poetry.  The dumb and easy answer is that I don’t get it, and I find a lot of other people telling me they don’t get poetry either.  I really feel like we’re not taught poetry very well.  The whole population can’t be averse to poetry–we must have been taught that somehow it’s lesser than other writing forms.  And that fucking annoys me!  In one sense I understand that times change and that different writing forms fall out of vogue.  For example, I’d say–without any scientific proof or naught, but still–we’re transitioning out of the era of the novel and more into some weird sort of non-fiction/memoir era (and I think blogs are helping this!), but it still bothers me that poetry is ignored because I think there’s still a lot that could be said and done with poetry.  Poetry came before the novel and I feel that the less literate people are in poetry, that means that works from hundreds and hundreds of years ago will become lost…  Seguro que yo sueno histérica, y yo sé que lo poesía no morirá por completo, pero me molesta que hay tanta tradición, tanta cultura y arte que la gente no aprecia y lo toman todo por idioteces solo porque alguien (some higher up) decidió que la poesía ya no importa tanto como otros géneros, y así es que las generaciones más jóvenes no aprenden el valor que tienen los poemas…  Bah!  Me duele la cabeza.  And so I make my exit.

On the Watchmen Movie, Mucho Text Avec Spoilers.

A lot of times I know that a movie will be a waste of time, but I still get curious about the usually convoluted plotlines so I go online and spoil myself the movie. It tends to happen with a lot of horror movies, but not always. I had already spoiled myself Watchmen, but it didn’t quell my curiosity because I read about all the changes from the book and I wondered how the fuck everything was gonna pan out, so I was (a) dying for the movie to leak, or (b) waiting for 10 days to pass so I could use a movie voucher to watch it for like $2.

I caved. I went to watch it last night. Paid the full ticket price and everything.

There’s some things I should mention. First of all, I didn’t have a phone on me yesterday, which was awkward because I use my phone as my watch, as most of my friends do. I was fucking blanking out and unsure about whether I’d just left it home, or if I’d dropped it on the street. I was wearing a coat with shallow pockets, y’see. So every few hours I had to get change and look for a payphone to call my own phone, hoping my mom would pick up and thereby confirm that the phone was at home. The whole thing was an exercise in hilarity. First off, it’s ridiculous trying to find a payphone these days, even if I found myself in a tourist-heavy area. (And I do mean the tourists are heavy! HAHAHA okay never mind very rude of me I know…) Second off, my mom is pretty much deaf in one ear, so she really can’t hear my phone vibrate… most of the time she can’t hear her own phone, even though her has a very loud ringtone. Third off, I couldn’t call anyone else because the only phone number I have committed to heart is my own fucking number. I hung out all by my lonesome which suited me fine, but I felt very disconnected to the world.

I was full of win yesterday, really.

It was the afternoon and I didn’t know what to do with myself so I decided to queue up for the West Side Story ticket lottery. Since I didn’t have a watch on me, I just stood in the cold for like a good hour and a half until I found out that I didn’t win. Fuck man, I bet this revival isn’t even all that and it was mad cold yesterday, but there were a shitload of people dying to get a fucking ticket. My god.

Anyway, I peaced out of there but the cold and the hunger was getting to me so I just went into a Sbarro and paid $2.29 for a 20 oz. bottle of water… Jesus fuck. Whatever, I had a fun time people-watching the tourists surrounding me. I wondered if they saw me as a tourist, too. But I peaced out as soon as I warmed up and I walked up to the Lincoln Center area to see if the indie theater had anything good showing at a godly hour. Never mind that I wasn’t even sure what time it was. I wasn’t too interested in the movies showing at that moment, so I walked over to the big chain theater near the Barnes & Noble and bought a ticket to Watchmen.

Okay, I admit it. I was curious about the plot changes, but I have a crush on Patrick Wilson, too. He was one of the highlights of the Angels in America movie for me (and believe me, I wasn’t that enthusiastic about the movie as a whole). I was really puzzled by the fact that he was playing Nite Owl. Nothing on Patrick Wilson’s acting, I think he’s a wonderful actor, but I mean, Patrick Wilson is fiiiiine. And Dan Dreiberg, his character, is totally lame. And has a paunch. So I wanted to see how the hell they worked that out. I was really interested to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Jackie Earle Haley, too.

I found out a few days ago that the opening box office for Watchmen was only like, $50 million, so I wasn’t sure how many people would show up for a weeknight screening of the movie. The closer it got to the screening time, though, it filled up pretty nicely. There were a shitload of open seats though; I had a whole row to myself, there was a couple sitting directly behind me, and on the row in front there was a black dude, but he was farther away to one side. You wouldn’t believe my surprise when the lights went out and after a good number of trailers, some dude sits next to me. Or rather, I was sitting in the third seat into the row, on the second seat was my purse, and he sat on the seat closest to the aisle. Well I noticed he had a bag on him so I moved my purse to the seat on my other side. Instead of putting his bag between us, he sat next to me and put his bag on the seat closest to the aisle. See where I’m going with this? I mean from then on I knew there was something odd, right? Like there’s at least a hundred empty seats and you’re like, he just happened to see the seat next to me was empty?

The movie started and everything was okay the first fifteen minutes, but then I realize he was moving a lot. So I peeked over and noticed he actually had his penis out and was masturbating right next to me. There was nothing sexy happening on the screen, obviously, just a sick guy. I didn’t know what to do, because a part of me just wanted to tell him to put it in his pants and just watch the fucking movie. I even considered ignoring him but I realized that I couldn’t concentrate on the movie just knowing that this guy was wanking himself right next to me. In the span of like, four or five minutes, I debated with my course of action and decided that bringing attention to his behavior could bring any number of mostly sucky responses, so I just decided to up and leave. I felt bad about getting in the way of the couple behind me.

Since I was already out of the theater I decided to maybe place a call to my phone. Then I thought, “What the fuck, I paid $12.50 for this shit and I’m gonna watch this motherfucking movie to the end!” Besides, I was kinda worried the dude had followed me out so I thought it was better to be in a room full of people. The row behind the couple whose view I blocked was completely empty, so I sat there. And I hoped the dude wouldn’t show up and give me trouble.

Well wouldn’t you believe it, I noticed that the very row in which I sat was totally empty, too. The motherfucker left after I did.

Anyway, after that I just watched the movie in relative peace, though on occasion I’d drift away and worry that the guy would show up again or something. I mean, maybe if the movie had been more absorbing, I would have forgotten completely about the pervert, but there you go. Watchmen was pretty sweet in pieces, but as a whole, it didn’t gel.

I’m sorry it took me so long to get to talking about the movie. There’s really nothing to say that hasn’t been said already. Yeah, the sex scene was awful. Everyone was laughing and it was probably the biggest laugh in the movie. Listen, I don’t want to hear “Hallelujah” used in a movie or TV show unless it involves Alan Dale dying on-screen of a heart attack, mmmkay? I’m sick of it being used as “emotional shorthand” in the cheapest way possible. Besides, when I read the comic and got to the scene, I thought something like Depeche Mode would play in the background. Sigh.

The changes they made to the characters were really annoying, and sometimes they were fundamental changes. It’s like most of the plot revolving around them stays the same, but there’s so many things about the characters that aren’t fleshed out that would have explained why they did this or that. For example, there’s no real explanation to the complexity in the relationship between Mama Silk Spectre and Baby Silk Spectre, which is such an interesting take on feminism and sexism in superhero culture. And we never see Baby Silk Spectre having this back-and-forth between hating her superhero past and loving it. Instead, she acts as the person who is really way excited about getting back in costume and drags Dan back into his.

Another deep change was that they made no mention of Rorschach’s discomfort with women. We don’t even see the whole thing about why his mask moves and shit. They made Rorschach a lot more sympathetic, and more… I don’t know what word to use, more functional? I imagined Rorschach was in a world of his own, but even in the way he spoke, he seemed like he could still fit into regular society.

And Ozymandias’s plan just seemed like the kind of thing that a regular evil mastermind would come up with, whereas when I read the comic, I was riveted by the level of ridiculousness his plan involved… For all the slow-mo used in the movie, I feel like they didn’t linger on the important stuff, relying more on telling us the important bits instead of showing us and letting us reflect on what was happening on screen. There were so many subtle things missing that I was able to fill in from having read the comic, but I couldn’t imagine how a complete stranger to the movie would fill in those blanks. For example, I wish we’d seen more of Rorschach’s shrink and how he is affected by Rorschach. Part of me wants to watch the extended version of the movie and see how much it improves (or worsens). I also hated that they all seemed to have superhuman strength. Come on, these people have been in retirement! They’re not getting any younger! At least they could have explained that they were secretly still keeping strong, or something.

Worst of all, I never fully felt like there was anything at stake. Or rather, I could see some of what was at stake, but I didn’t feel the depth of how cataclysmic the stakes were. This movie’s failures made me realize how much I loved The Dark Knight.

Yeah, Malin Akerman was mostly wooden. To be frank, for any shortcomings involving the acting, I’m gonna place squarely on Zack Snyder. Not that I’ve seen any of his other movies, but it really felt like he didn’t place acting at the top of his priority list at all, it was like he cared more about replicating the look and feel of the comic a lot more. I don’t know if it was because he thought, “No one’s gonna care, this is an action movie! The fanboys don’t care about beautiful acting, they want to see Rorschach’s capture sequence to be portrayed exactly as it is on the page!” (The sequence involving his capture was, indeed, awesome to watch.) I don’t even know how much prep work they did on the actual performances. But on the screen, it very much felt like it was more about what the actors brought to the table and that Snyder gave them minimal notes on how to maximize the emotion. It’s like he just threw everyone in front of the camera and was like, “Okay, ready? Bring it, y’all!” without talking about the motivations of the characters and blah blah blah. And if a performance was subpar, I can see him going, “That’s okay, you tried, we’ll work on it in post-production!” Am I being unfair to Zack Snyder? Well, if he has beef he can write to me about it. Well, to be nice, I think he would make a really wonderful music video director. He’s got a strong visual sensibility.

Some random shit I did like: the liberal use of fake blood. Whoever gets to press the button that makes the blood squirt out like that must have the funnest job ever. Loved the McLaughlin Group bit in the beginning–I thought it was spot-on. I also enjoyed the opening credits where we see the history of the first generation of superheroes. Mama Silk Spectre’s costume was really cute, even if her boots weren’t appropriate for crime-busting. My favorite moment involving Rorschach was when he’s like, “I’m not locked up with you, you’re locked up with me!” It was a very satisfying moment and I thought Haley’s line-reading was perfect. The movie made me appreciate the Comedian’s complexity more, actually! In addition, there were two funny moments in the jail break out that stand out. First, Baby Silk Spectre unnecessarily kicks some guard’s ass, and Nite Owl’s reaction was priceless. Really nicely done, especially because, even though he was wearing his mask, he conveyed his opinion beautifully. Second, I loved Rorschach’s whole “Need to use the men’s room” bit, especially with the door swinging. I think those were my two favorite moments in the movie. I also thought that 80s NYC was rendered nicely. And I thought they tried to leave a lot of in-jokes for the fans, which I appreciated.

There was one moment in the movie that genuinely surprised me. Just the choice of direction was unexpected. It’s Rorschach’s final scene, and he takes off the mask, and he’s crying. I didn’t remember him crying in the comic, but I looked it up and he totally is. Now, when I saw it in the comic book, I thought he was crying out of anger, frustration, disappointment that his former teammates were willing to settle. But in the movie he seems to be crying in resignation and in fear of death, too. That choice kinda does make sense, now that I think about it, but it makes Rorschach’s exit so much less badass than I originally conceived it in my mind.

I’m sorry this post is such a mess. I said so much but nothing really coheres… I guess some Zack Snyder rubbed off on me. Zing!

EDIT: Oh crud, I forgot to mention, I was totally pumped for some of the trailers they showed before the movie. In particular, I almost died of excitement when they showed the Wolverine trailer, not because of Hugh Jackman, but because I had no idea that Gambit was gonna be in the movie! Holy shit, I do not care how bad that movie is, I can’t wait to see Gambit in action!! I used to have such a crush on him (er, the cartoon version of him) when I was like, 8. Siiigh.

This Post Is Brought To You By The Letters S, T, F, and U.

The Internet gods are smiling down on me.

Some lovely, thoughtful individual converted and uploaded this mofuckin’ remix of Christian Bale’s recent freakout.

Here’s the mp3!!
And here’s the requisite ONTD post about it, if you missed it. But really! HOW COULD YOU HAVE MISSED IT??

Back to Class.

A couple of years ago I took this fun class at school called “Writing New York.” The professors teach it every Spring and, unlike back when I took the class, now they have a blog for it too, so if you’re feeling geeky and want to learn more about NYC by reading awesome books and watching awesome movies, you can actually follow along and join in the discussion here. That specific post I’m linking to has a syllabus and everything. A lot of the reading for the first half of the semester includes a lot of non-copyrighted stuff, so you could probably just look it up on the internets and read it for free.

It’s weird, I recently watched Gangs of New York for the first time, and I was shocked by how much information I’d retained from this Writing New York class. I mean, I was a pretty lousy student, but having taken this class made it so much easier for me to watch the movie and understand it in context. Wish the movie had resonated a little more though, LOL. Definitely not Scorsese’s finest, even though I loved his little cameo.

Anyway, you don’t even have to be interested specifically in NYC to enjoy the texts. In the end, I feel like I learned so much about cities and urban life as a whole.

Todo Sigue Igual.

Since really really good days are rare in my life–they’re rare in everyone’s life, right?–I feel compelled to document it on the internets even though no one really gives a damn. I set out to do several things today and I accomplished all of them, so I’m very content with that.

I found out a couple of days ago that the IFC Center is doing a series on Cuban films, and that this long weekend they’re showing Memorias del subdesarrollo. The screenings for this series are all at 11 am, which is fine and dandy if you live in the area and you just roll out of bed half an hour before the movie starts, but I woke up at like 9 and I barely made it to the theater on time. I’m just glad it wasn’t for a popular movie, which meant that there was no way the movie would sell out. The only physical copy I had access to was at NYU when I was in school and they don’t carry it at the public library. There has been no DVD release for it (the Criterion peeps need to get crackin’ on this shit, argh). There IS a google video version of it (awesome, I know!), but I thought it would be cool to see the movie in a real theater.

I really enjoyed my experience. First off, there were a baker’s dozen of us film geeks who braved the cold and the early start time. Second, the movie itself was on really old film, which meant that the cells were sometimes grainy as fuck, but there was something exciting about, for example, hearing the crackling sound. You know, like with old records you hear crackling when you play them too? Same here.

The movie was pretty great. I realized I’d forgotten a lot of it so it was good to remember that the protagonist is basically a douchebag. I got really distracted by the subtitles. Sometimes it’s hard to pay attention when you hear one thing and understand it one way, and then you read another thing and understand it in another, similar-yet-totally different way. My favorite scene, the one where Daisy Granados is introduced, was as wonderful as I remembered it. Seeing it on a big screen for the first time was thrilling.

After the movie I walked to Staples and bought myself a pack of CD-Rs. I have no need for a 50-pack but I totally bought one because it was the cheapest one. It makes me feel suspicious about the quality of the CDs but what the hey. At least they’ll last me for a while.

I went to lunch at a Chipotle, and after that I trekked down to McNally Jackson to see if they had a new(er) issue of Etiqueta Negra. They did have an issue I hadn’t bought yet, so I got that. When I was at the register this employee saw what I bought and told me that they got a fresh(er) batch of Etiqueta Negra and did I want one. I didn’t want to impose on him but he said it wouldn’t be a problem and he went around to dig for the most recent arrival. I was like, “Right on, bring out that sucka,” which he totally did. So I ended up dropping like twice as much money at the store, but I’m so happy about it. The only sucky things about this situation are that (1) it saved me a trip to the store, which is sad because I love coming to the store and now I gotta think of another excuse to go there which is hard because I already work at a bookstore where I can get all sorts of sweet shit at a discount that aren’t Etiqueta Negra, and (2) as soon as the employee handed me the magazine he disappeared and I didn’t even get a chance to thank him. There’s like a one in a gajillion chance that he will read this, but I still want to give him a shoutout for being awesome.

After this I had multiple plastic bags and a stupid purse in my hands, but I made a trek to the Bronx Museum of the Arts. I’ve been meaning to go with my friends but I finally had the chance to go today so I did it alone. The current exhibit is called “Street Art Street Life” and it’s closing on January 25. It was cool to see how expansive it was, exploring work from the 1950s to the present, as well as from artists located in several continents. Many of the pieces touched on documenting the ephemeral. For example, the exhibit was heavily photography-oriented, capturing specific moments, whether they were of a passerby on the street, or a piece of graffiti scrawled on some wall. There were also a lot of photographs documenting members of the Fluxus movement performing art on the streets, so even if it’s not possible for the museum-goer to experience the art directly, at least we can see the proof that their pieces existed and that average civilians were able to experience these pieces first-hand.

One piece I really liked was this video of David Van Tieghem, a percussionist, just banging on all sorts of surfaces on the street, which was captivating to watch because I couldn’t believe how many different sounds he was able to create just by banging his sticks. It wasn’t even a strictly rhythmic thing, it was so musical, too. You can see the video below!

Another piece that stuck out was from the Blank Noise Project, an India-based activist group focused on stopping street sexual harassment. Included in the exhibit was a printed version of this blog that gives props to those who have actively fought against harassers. It just upset me because it’s hard to realize that sexual harassment is an issue everywhere.

When I got home, I was super happy to find a package from Cat and Girl. I think Dorothy Gambrell might have written the addresses on the envelope! I like to think so, anyway. I bought some t-shirts and stickers for cheap and hoped to god they fit me. They do! And I think I got an extra sticker, too. Yay. I’m so happy because my mom ruined and threw out my old Köttur og Stúlka t-shirt, but now I have a new one.

Okay, this post has gone on long enough. Now I’m off to watching Gangs of New York.

A Dance With Death.

If you just want to know whether I recommend Waltz With Bashir, then the answer is yes, you should go. You should go and you should do it with your friends, and you should talk it out. I have to admit that I dozed off in the beginning, but only because I hardly slept last night and I was exhausted. But after a few minutes of dozing off, I rebooted and was fucking absorbed in the story. I’m back to being fucking exhausted though.

Anywya, if you want to hear my rambly AND DETAILED (spoilers?!) thoughts on the movie and its themes, then read on.

When the movie was shown at the NYIFF, I knew I’d missed out big time, so last month when I found out they were going to release the movie officially in New York, I was ecstatic. And this, just from having seen the trailer.

After work I shimmied on down to the Sunshine. (I made a brief detour to McNally Jackson; picked up the new David B.) The movie theater was fairly packed and as I waited for the movie to start, I thought of all the demographics this sort of movie would appeal to. So I came up with: general movie geeks, old people with nothing to do, foreign film buffs, people who are totally into hyped up movies, war movie fanatics, animation dorks, politics fiends, those of Israeli/Lebanese/Palestinian/other applicable Middle Eastern descent of various faiths…

As with any other movie, I sat through several trailers, including this silly German one about an old man who discovers himself in Japan or something like that, which reminded me that we U.S. Americans are not the only ones to look to the Orient when seeking enlightenment in a time of crisis. (Oh hey, remember Darjeeling Limited…?) Okay, okay. Obviously I haven’t seen the movie so it’s unfair that I should get into such a tizzy about it.

So back to Waltz With Bashir. On a more technical note, I just want to give props to the soundtrack person. The pop songs really helped to set the era, and the original score by Max Richter was used effectively–it wasn’t overwhelming, knocking you over the head with it and dictating every emotion you should feel in every scene, but it was memorable and evocative.

Another surprise was that, in one scene, you can briefly see someone’s copy of The New Yorker on a table. The amazing thing is that you can see pretty clearly which cover it is, and it’s actually a cover drawn by Adrian Tomine! Titled “Missed Connection,” you can see an image of it here (the very first image). HOLY SHIT! I pretty much gasped when I saw it.

In fact, the animation was fucking astonishing. I didn’t know this until now, but apparently Asaf Hanuka took part in it (he illustrated the graphic novel version of “Kneller’s Happy Campers,” which was published as Pizzeria Kamikaze). I don’t get how the technology works, but I gots to tell you, this ain’t yo daddy’s 2D animation. How can two-dimensional drawings appear to have such depth?? Movies such as Beowulf try so hard to make the animation as close to life as possible, but the eyes of the characters are just dead. In this movie, the more abstracted animation helps infinitely to add emotion in the characters. I guess it’s kinda like what Scott McCloud said in Understanding Comics, the more abstracted a cartoon figure, the more possible it is for an individual to relate to the figure. Since it lacks specificity, the person experiencing the story can transpose their features onto the character.

I thought the story arc was very interesting, too. I’ve read a few things here and there and gotten conflicting reports as to whether this film counts as a “documentary,” and after watching the movie, I can understand why. Written and directed by Ari Folman, he basically goes on a search to reconstruct his experiences as an Israeli soldier fighting in Lebanon back in 1982. Throughout the film we meet talking heads, some of whom were fellow soldiers, others who happened to experience a massacre that Folman can’t fucking seem to remember, hard as he might try. So that’s what had me bugging out. He had other people telling him his story. What is a memoir when you have no living memory of what happened? Here, we see the many people it takes for them to tap into his mind and awaken all the images (as well as the emotions attached to the images) of what he experienced.

There is an element that complicates this. Early on, one of the first people Folman contacts is a lawyer friend who gives a lot of input on the frailty of memory. (Annoyingly and conveniently so, this friend seems to have all the answers as to how Folman’s mind ticks.) Basically, the lawyer friend states that many people can convince themselves into fabricating a memory, even if there is no fucking way it happened. And he also points out that multiple people can come to believe that a fabricated experience really occurred. So as I watched the talking heads helping Folman remember, I couldn’t help but wonder, is Folman truly remembering? Have they really unlocked all these memories? Or was he just latching onto their memories?

I think Folman would say, ultimately, that it doesn’t matter whose memory it is, as long as it exists and that others are aware of its existence. The relationship between trauma and memory is an intricate one. Why do we say shit like “never forget”? Take, for example, the establishments of Truth Commissions in Latin America as a way to come to terms with the many people who were “disappeared” under the many dictatorships that came into power in the 20th century. In their way, these commissions acknowledged the private, individual suffering of the families of the disappeared by becoming public knowledge. The pain of losing these people was meant to be a burden shared by entire nations, not in private.

And in the end, the pain that we share is not his pain for having been in a war so young, forced to shoot when he didn’t want to and so on. In this movie, we see a personal story becoming part of history. There are bigger victims here, and as someone who can’t keep track of all the fucking conflicts that have occurred out in the Middle East, it was illuminating enough becoming aware of the heartless shit that happened.

[Here I’m going to write about the ending which is too unforgettable not to discuss:] Another key moment in the film is when Folman meets with a doctor who has worked with people who have suffered extreme traumatic experiences. The doctor mentions one patient of hers who was a young photographer, and we see how this photographer coped with the things he experienced. The young man felt okay as long as he framed his experience as if he were not directly involved and was just watching from a distance. Of course, once the photographer couldn’t deny the reality of his situation, he just fell apart emotionally.

And here is where I seriously have to give props to Folman because he successfully demonstrates how we as viewers hide behind the comfort of just watching this movie. When the final moments appear, he pulls away that “distance” by taking away the animation. In the end, we are left with live action footage, and it’s not even a reenactment–it’s real footage from the aftermath of the very massacre Folman has forgotten. When these moments come, it’s not only jarring to have the cartoons disappear, it’s fucking shocking too. Just sent my head spinning.

And you better believe there wasn’t a fucking peep out of anyone in the theater.



(1) That is Gael García Bernal.
(2) He is singing a cover of “I Want You to Want Me.” In Spanish. Norteño-style.

Is my mind blown? My mind is totally blown. I’m also glad to finally see a trailer of Rudo y Cursi, which has been in production for a very long time. (The music video is some sort of promo for the movie.) Anyway, I found this video on Remezcla, and you can find a trailer for the movie, too. It looks like a comedy so now I’m kinda looking forward to it. But enough about the Gael/Diego film reunion. When is Gael getting back with Ludwika Paleta, that’s what I wanna know. Then again, girlfriend should probably stop doing the whole trashy telenovela thing.

Actually, if you read the credits in the video above, you’ll see Diego Luna’s name in there, too. I think Gael and Diego met on the set of El abuelo y yo. And yes, I used to watch it when I was little and I had no recollection of Gael, so you can imagine the shock of finding out Gael was in that novela. At that point I only watched the show for Ludwika, who was so so pretty and who was well-known among my age group since she had been in Carrusel, which was an incredibly successful kids’ telenovela.

Yes, in Latin America they trained us to become telenovela fiends from a very early age.

ANYWAY. Seeing the norteño version of “I Want You to Want Me” reminded me of another Gael movie with an awesomely weird and unexpected cover, El crimen del padre Amaro. Okay, in that movie, I heard this really great version of “One Way or Another,” and so I tried desperately to seek my soul, but I finally gave up after like a month or two. It’s one of the few songs on which I’ve given up. Another notable song I haven’t found successfully is Ray Charles’s version of “Bein’ Green,” as heard on an episode of The Cosby Show. Argh, remembering my downloading misadventures makes me want these songs even more.

Also, I’m suddenly itchin’ to listen to more norteño shit. It’s that polka bounce… it’s too catchy to be true…


I have a YouTube account and I have music videos uploaded on it. Until today, I had three videos, except I received an email telling me that someone complained about one of my videos. The reason was that the complainant owned the copyright to the video. I know it’s not a unique situation, it happens all the fucking time, but I still find the whole thing quite odd. I didn’t think that the artist of the music video I uploaded would be the sort of bastard who would whine about it (or maybe it was the director??). The other thing is, it took the complainant about two years to bitch about the fact I uploaded this video. Last, it’s not even my most popular music video upload, I doubt it reached half a million (even a quarter of a million) hits during its existence. Honestly, I uploaded that video because I loved the song so much, and I didn’t receive a single miserable penny for plugging that song, so why do I have to be penalized for it?

That said, I’m happy that they didn’t nuke my account in its entirety. Oh well. Lo que será, será.

In more depressing news, I heard Beverly Hills Chihuahua hit número uno in the box office. AGAIN. Really? Who are you people and why are you spending money on stuff like that? I’d rather lose all my money on the stock market than willingly waste it on movies like that.

Upcoming posts include: a reading by two international writers, my first trip to the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and a night at the theater. Stay tuned!

Festival Madness.

Honestly. I don’t know why I want to watch Steven Soderbergh’s Che at the New York Film Festival. It’s not like I’m a Che Guevara groupie, y’know what I’m sayin’? And who knows if it’ll be a good movie, maybe it’ll be the ultimate exercise in ego trippin’. I’m deluded to think that I’ll be able to queue up for god knows how many hours and be able to pay god knows how many dollars to see the movie. Never mind having like, 4.5 hours to spare.

Oh, but I’ve never been to a movie with a 30-minute intermission! That sounds so much fun! Imagine the snacks they’ll have for us! And I wonder if they’ll have a magician doing tricks for us while we await for the second half? And oh, I can just picture all the gossip that will be traded around on the bathroom line!

Crap… actually, I get the feeling Che is already sold out, because the Lincoln Center members get first dibs and I’m sure a lot of people requested tickets for the movie.

Okay, okay, I’ll shut up. You should definitely check out the rest of the festival line up. I know that judging a movie by its trailer is akin to judging a book by its cover, but I tried looking up the trailers for the films to get a feel for what they were about. Unfortunately, a lot of them didn’t show up on any sort of google search. Of the trailers I found successfully, the one impressed me most was for an animated movie called Waltz With Bashir. Holy shit, it looks AWESOME. Check out the trailer below.

Estoy Aquí.

Hi. It’s been a while.

In case you cared, and I’m sure you don’t, I did go see Kinky for my very first time a few weeks ago. I had this whole post about how much I loved the entire afternoon, from Pistolera to Mariachi Real de Mexico to el Instituto Mexicano del Sonido to Kinky. I was wrong about my guess in the previous post; IMS did not DJ the show and instead played a solid set with his band and it was wonderful. At one point they did a real 1-2-3 punch going from “Para no vivir desesperado” to “Mirando a las muchachas” to “Hip hop no pares.” They’re my favorite songs of his so I was ecstatic.

Well, I scrapped that whole long post because all those silly little details aren’t crucial, what matters is that I was watching Kinky from the back, and I saw how strongly people reacted to their set, and I really had one of those moments where I thought, “Why am I not doing something like this? I could do it!” I don’t mean to say that Kinky were so sub-par that I thought I could do better. But I did wonder what stops me from making music while other people just get up and do everything they can to make music. Siiigh. You know what they say: those who can’t, blog.

Last night I went to a free screening of Velvet Goldmine at McCarren. It was fun. There were a few technical snags which were annoying as hell, but for the most part, I had a good time. I feel like I giggled through the entire movie. At first it didn’t seem like there were gonna be a lot of people but when the movie ended and I looked back at the crowd, I was surprised! I also thought there would be a big queer contingent dominating the crowd, but there was a strong mix of people to see the movie. Either way, I’m glad there’s so many people who dig the movie.

I leave you with a real gem I found on YouTube. Absolutely glorious.

What Are We Selling Here?

I wanted to point to two commercials from the current Payless ad campaign. The first I’ve seen for a few weeks now, and the reason it caught my attention was because it uses “Van Nuys (Es Very Nice)” by the totally defunct band Los Abandoned. You can see the ad here. I was very pleased to hear it because they never got very big and I feel like they should get a few royalties for their hard work, right? Also, that song is so peppy, I can’t fucking deny its awesomeness. Below, the original video to the song.

Well, more recently I noticed another ad with happy beautiful young people running around in bargain-priced shoes. But this ad uses “Snapshot” by Kinky, who will be playing a free show on August 9 at Central Park. That one surprised me more because it’s an older song. It was never one of my favorites from Atlas, so at first I had to ask myself, “How do I know this song?” I know that Kinky and Los Abandoned are very different bands from very different places, but seeing the two ads, I was pleasantly surprised by two Spanish-language groups featured in these ads. (Actually, I must clarify that both bands had a strong “Spanglish” approach to their lyrics, though.)

I just went to the Payless website and it said that the agency that did the ad is Martin Williams. I wonder if the person who took care of the music thought it was fun and young and appropriate for the demographic they wanted to hit (trendy “cosmopolatinos”??), or if the person just really liked those bands. I also wonder if there are other Payless ads with Latino-friendly bands playing in the background?

Of course, neither of these ads will have as much of an effect as the use of “Paper Planes” in the Pineapple Express trailers and ads. I don’t know how well the movie will fare, which is being released today, but I sure as hell know that the use of “Paper Planes” has affected M.I.A. somewhat positively. I mean, I don’t know for sure if she’s moving more units, but I assume greater exposure to the masses means more chances of selling albums. I was listening to Z100 for the first time in ages, and heard the intro to the song. I wasn’t sure it was the commercial for the movie, but the DJ assured me that I was hearing a “new” track from M.I.A. At first I was really excited that I was hearing her on the radio (don’t ask me why, I can’t explain), but then I was like, “Wait, what about the gunshot sounds??” They tried to mute them, but the song just sounds ridic like that.

“All I wanna do is BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! … and take your money…”

We Now Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming.

Get ready for a longass post. I know that in the blogosphere, timeliness is next to godliness, but y’all gotta understand my modem died in the ass on the 23rd and it took me a while to get back on track. Believe you me, I was überpissed that my modem died only after two months.

But part of me is really glad, because on the 23rd I went to a free panel for the NYILFF on this movie that, until the day of the panel, was titled Humboldt Park. Now it’s called… something really generic and forgettable with the word “holidays” in the title. I really enjoyed myself at the panel, mind you; the cast members present were Freddy Rodríguez, Luis Guzmán (!!), Melonie Diaz and Vanessa Ferlito. They were all really nice, and the cool thing about the footage was that they really did seem like this big, fun family which warmed my crooked little heart. Half the panel focused on the making of the film and the other half was a Q&A that veered a lot more into Latinos & the film industry in general. But I felt funny listening to the filmmakers. I’m not trynna sound like some punkass kid who’s all “FUCK THE SYSTEM,” but I felt like they were pandering too much to what the studios want. The filmmakers seemed really eager to please a wide audience (por ejemplo, the title change was, apparently, because Humboldt Park “wasn’t testing well”) and although that’s a noble pursuit, you can’t be all things to all people, so I wasn’t sure how to receive this information. More than anything, I ended up feeling worried.

The whole conversation was kinda getting me down, PERO. Then they talked about an upcoming project that I pray will not end up in some sort of development hell. The words “Puerto Rican City of God” actually escaped their lips a number of times. Holy shit. It’s gonna be based on that Tego song, “Julito Maraña.” They said the script was a beautiful mess of 160 mofuckin’ pages. That’s a shitload of pages, y’all. It’s actually gonna be filmed in the Puerto Rican ghetto, too. I don’t know where this area is but I inferred that it’s an area headed by a drug lord, and he actually gave his blessing for this movie to be filmed. They haven’t started filming though, they’re probably still working out all the pre-production shit.

I know we should be moving away from the sort of movie that makes it seem like Latin America is nothing but a destitute shithole filled with violence and pain and corruption, but I dunno… if it’s done well (I fucking hope it’s done well) and there’s true artistry involved, I think this sort of story is worth being seen.

On the 24, I went to the Public Theater to see a new play called Tío Pepe, which was part of the Public’s Summer Play Festival. I knew it was going to be a modest affair, but I had no idea that all the tickets for the play’s week-long run were already sold out. They told me I could get on a waitlist for the matinee, and since I didn’t have other plans, I told them I was game. I was the fourth person on the list and some of the people were requesting multiple tickets, but I totally lucked out and got a ticket!

I’m so glad I got in, because the play totally exceeded my expectations. Just goes to show that, even though this work is by an up-and-coming playwright, Matthew Lopez, the Public definitely produces quality shit. It had a cast of five and, although I don’t claim to be an expert, they were all really wonderful except that a couple of them had really really terrible accents. I mean that it was very obvious they’d grown up here or had lived here since infancy and that they mainly spoke English. But that’s okay, generally their delivery was really good and believable and fun.

The script was pretty good, too, lots of laughs and it was really a great way to deal with issues of escapism and self-delusion, among other things. When I found out the reason for the play’s title, I was like, “Ooh, this is really juicy info.” The other thing is that it was totally sincere about its appreciation of old school musicals. The matriarch of the family, played by April Ortiz, got to sing a bit and she had a great, booming voice. I hope this play can move up to longer runs or bigger venues. It would be a pity to just let it die.

Oh my god, and the actor playing Alejandro, the son who wasted all of his potential, was sooo fiiiiine. He’s some dude named Nathaniel Mendez, and his bio was short as hell–he doesn’t even have a Law & Order credit (yet). What is this kid doing with himself? Okay, maybe it’s because he’s not a New Yorker or something? I was shocked by the short bio, to be frank, because he was so good in the play. Hope he gets more work.

That same evening I went to see Estilo Hip Hop. Last year, I went to a screening of Raquel Cepeda‘s Bling: A Planet Rock, and they showed a preview of Estilo Hip Hop. At that point the filmmakers, Vee Bravo and Loira Limbal, were still seeking financing and were working on their footage. They showed us like 15 minutes, and I’m telling you, that after seeing the final product on the 24th, only two or three of those minutes made it into the 1-hour movie. I do remember them last year expressing their ambition to do a far more extensive project with exposure to more countries, but in the final product they focused on rappers from three countries, Brasil, Chile, and Cuba.

The screening was fucking rowdy as hell. The doc was awesome, I wish it hadn’t been just an hour. The doc doesn’t just focus on hip-hop in Latin America, it also focuses on the real activism that hip-hop has inspired, which I thought was fucking rad. The music was great, too. As ex-Prisionero (and current Updater) Jorge González said in an interview about Chilean hip-hop: “Chile es un extraño caso en el que el hip hop no pasa por los Beastie Boys, sino por De La Soul.” Loosely, “Chile’s a strange case in that hip-hop is influenced not by the Beastie Boys, but by De La Soul.” Don’t worry if you missed out on Estilo Hip Hop in Nueva York, though! Vee and Loira said the movie’s gonna air on PBS in Spring 2009.

As I noted in my overly emotional way last Friday the 25, I had wack first time at the Quad, what with the screening of Stellet Licht (Luz silenciosa) fucking up and all. As luck would have it, El Guincho cancelled all his US shows (visa issues?), which meant he couldn’t do his show at the Seaport. So Friday was just filled with disappointment. The bigger slap in the face is that they were replaced by some Brooklyn indie band. C’mon, those are a dime a dozen. I mean, yeah, the band was okay, but what makes them stand out? I was pleasantly surprised, however, to hear Atlas Sound for the first time. The tourists and other passersby didn’t give a shit, but I thought the music was good. Pop-y just the way I like it, and kinda ethereal in certain parts, too. I wonder what Deerhunter sound like.

On Saturday the 26 I went to see Malta con huevo, which isn’t ~*QUALITY*~ shit, but it still made me giggle. There were like ten of us in this hugeass auditorium, which in itself was totally hilarious. I think my favorite thing about it is the tone and how it changes from the first half to the second, but I also dig the structure of the story.

This past week I wasn’t up to much. I’m still getting used to having cable for the first time since, um, 1995. And that was cable in fucking Chile, too. I’m totally fascinated in how useless it is. (We got the service so my parents could watch Korean-language channels.) We don’t get any of the expensive channels but I was still shocked that there’s really no profanity allowed on cable. I think the bestest thing about having cable is that they show Law & Order all the time, and I’m totally addicted to the entire franchise, it’s true.

I found the Criterion Collection DVD of La haine at the library (thank heavens, cos I didn’t want to spend the money on it without seeing what was in it) and I have decided that Mathieu Kassovitz is the most handsome director in France. Also, fashion aside, the themes in the movie are still remarkably relevant. It was weird hearing the director’s commentary, though, because it was done before Sarkozy was elected, and Kassovitz is very vocal about not being a fan of the dude. But I’m still glad I listened to it, because I did get a better sense of how these kids’ lives are turned upside down in a mere 24 hours. It was cool because he also mentioned that he was on Charlie Rose, so I tracked down the interview and it was great!  It was a relief to see that Kassovitz hasn’t always had a great accent in English–when I heard how well he spoke English on the DVD, I was kinda shocked and wondered if this man was perfect.  I’m glad to see that he is human after all, and that he had to learn not to sound like the stereotypical French person speaking English. You can see the interview here. I also loved hearing on the commentary that Jodie Foster sent a copy of the movie to fucking Scorsese, imagine how Vincent Cassel felt about this? He musta pissed his pants…

I also watched American Psycho and it was pretty fucked up but I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s just that when a part was funny, it was really fucking funny. Like that whole sequence with all those interchangeable yuppies comparing their business cards… it was delightful to watch. It was exciting to find out that it was directed by a woman, just because there aren’t enough female movie directors anyway. I’m glad I heard the director’s commentary for this movie, too, just because it helped me understand and interpret Patrick Bateman a little better.

I’ve been reading a bit, too, if you would call it that. I read Agota Kristof‘s The Notebook, which had its share of disturbing moments, but the narration was incredibly and consistently well-done and the story culminated to a satisfyingly fucked up ending. In addition, I finished The Left Bank Gang and The Living And The Dead by the Norwegian comic book wonderboy that is Jason. I was pretty “meh” about The Living And The Dead, but I thought The Left Bank Gang was fucking awesome. I finally read The Rabbi’s Cat, too. Damn, I totally forgot that Joann Sfar is a dude, so you can imagine my surprise when I read the “about the author” bit in the inside cover of the book. I read Sfar’s The Professor’s Daughter which I thought was too brief and not substantial enough, but thankfully The Rabbi’s Cat did not disappoint. The story was lovely, especially because I don’t know much about the Jewish culture in North Africa, and I also loved Sfar’s artwork. Can’t wait to read the second part.

I also read a couple of essays from this book called Beyond Babar, which is about children’s literature in Europe. The only reason I picked it up at the library is because one of the essays was about Christine Nöstlinger‘s Konrad, which was one of my faves as a kid. There was also one on The Neverending Story and how it’s ~*TOTALLY META*~ in a way that the films could never capture. (Would have been cool to read an in-depth discussion on Michael Ende‘s Momo, too.) It was a cool book with a lot of discussion on translation.

I’m excited about this month. I’m gonna go see Janelle Monáe and Jamie Lidell at Central Park mañana (¡¡es gratis!!), and I’m gonna spend a lot of time at MoMA watching Coen Bros movies. They’re having a marathon! Also, next week, the Fordham University Theater peeps are staging a version of The Martian Chronicles with mofucking puppets, and the tickets are pretty cheap, too, so I’m gonna try and check out the production. Good shit all around.

Don’t Ask Me How Stellet Licht Ends.

I just went to see this movie called Stellet licht, which was being shown at the Hola Mexico Film Festival. Our screening fucked up. Instead of film, they were showing us a DVD and you betcha it decided to freeze on us. The DVD quality was fucking great and honestly I wouldn’t have noticed that it was a DVD if it hadn’t frozen (though now that I think about it, I should have realized there were no “cigarette burns” in sight). It froze once and they just skipped over to a part that was okay, which was an odd decision—I wondered if I’d missed anything important, I couldn’t tell how much we’d skipped. I tried to forget it, but then the movie froze again. It was awful. I’m so mad because all I wanted was a refund and all I got was a stupid pass to see another movie at the Quad Cinema. I love movies and that’s all fine and dandy, but $10 is a lot to me and I could have had a whole fucking meal with those $10. I wish they’d just refunded the money to me. I mean, I’m hungry right now, you know? I skipped on lunch. They told us we could come back and see the movie for free the next time there is a screening, on Sunday, but I don’t know if I can make it then. They also gave us a choice to stay and just see the rest of the movie from where it froze the first time, but I didn’t have the heart to go back in again. I’ve been having a bad day. I really want to go home right now, but my internet died on me again, which is why I’m at the school computer lab, and also because I’d been meaning to go see El Guincho, which is tonight at the South Street Seaport. But frankly I’m bummed beyond belief. Such a downer, cos I had a really good day yesterday.

The director of Hola Mexico or whoever was running the show today was bugging out about the whole situation. All those cranky older people at our matinee… I’m not saying he handled the fiasco very well, but seeing all those people yelling at him, I certainly didn’t envy him.

To Catch You Up.

Here are some things I’ve done or gone to in the past two weeks and haven’t written about:

On July 10 I went to a DJ Showcase at SOB’s (for LAMC) where I saw DJ Raff for the first time! I didn’t stay the entire night and I lost track of the many DJs, but I’m pretty sure I also saw Gregzinho spin cos he was the one who played a lot of Brazilian funk. It took me a while to loosen up, but once I did, I had a lot of fun.

On July 11, I went to my last day at work after only four hours of sleep, and then after work I ran over to the Park Avenue Armory to see Die Soldaten. (History on this opera here.) I wrote this whole spiel about my experience but fuck that. Basically, I dozed off several times in the second half of the production because I was tired, and I’m not an opera expert, but that was a disappointing experience. I spent a lot of money for my ticket and the storyline was another iteration of the fucking “fallen woman” storyline and I didn’t care to be emotionally attached to any of the characters. I didn’t “get” the music, mostly because it wasn’t exactly melodic shit, BUT I do commend the conductor and the musicians for the solid execution. The technical aspects of the opera, too, were absolutely brilliant, but who cares about that stuff when the story and the music don’t grab you, right?

On July 17, I went to see Junot Díaz for a Central Park SummerStage event. He took part in a reading, Q + A, and a roundtable discussion with Aleksandar Hemon and Saskia Sassen. Sassen is a scholar and not a fiction writer, so her approach to the works of Díaz and Hemon was interesting. Most of the crowd was there for Junot and I felt bad for Hemon, whose work deals a lot with his Bosnian identity and roots. Weird shit: both Junot and Sasha are bald and wear glasses. [Cue eerie music.] It was a beautiful night in the park and good to hear them. Didn’t know that Sasha existed so it would be cool to check out his stuff. The questions were mostly sucky but there were a number of interesting answers, so I was really happy with how the evening turned out, and I hope the Central Park folk add more readings and literary events next summer.

On July 19, I literally forgot about Siren and instead I ran over to the Belasco Theater on Broadway because I heard Passing Strange was closing the next day AND because I heard that the July 19 performances were going to be filmed by SPIKE MOFUCKIN LEE. And yes, I totally saw him walking around the theater! I also saw S. Epatha Merkerson (y’know, the tough NYPD lady on L&O) and Rosie Perez in the theater. That was way cool, but you know what was fucking cooler? Passing Strange. Holy shit, that show was beautiful. I refused to give Die Soldaten an ovation (I’m stingy with my ovations) but I gave one to Passing Strange. I’m gonna remember my experience forever. That show was so well-written and it’s such a pity that it had to close, especially considering that shows such as The Little Mermaid and Grease are still running. Tch. Broadway is pretty much a joke except for the rare times it gets shit right. Sometimes I couldn’t even understand the lyrics but the music seriously rocked–I have admittedly listened to the Spring Awakening soundtrack multiple times, but that shit does not even compare to how hard the music rocked at this show. The humor, especially the meta shit, was absolutely divine. Can you believe my luck, too? I got to the box office two hours prior to the show, paid $27 for my ticket and got an orchestra seat. Not to be overly dramatic but… okay, let’s be overly dramatic: I feel like Somebody’s watching over me, man.

On July 20, I braved the brutal heat and went to see Liars for the first time in like, five years. In these past five years, the band has grown beautifully and they’re one of the few New York bands that have not disappointed me. The set was solid, and I was feeling woozy. (I was actually dehydrated, I’m sure.) And who knew they had a fourth person live! I didn’t. Seriously, excellent set, though it was kinda weird seeing them in the daytime. A lot of their shit sounds way too spooky and is better suited for the nighttime.

Yesterday I went to see The Dark Knight. I don’t know why the dude sitting next to me sat next to me but we had fun together. I mean, I liked hearing his reaction to the movie and I think he was tickled by how I reacted to the movie; we weren’t completely quiet about how we felt… I was kinda disappointed with the trailers they showed, I thought they’d go for more awards season fare but they went for the action trailers instead. Saw a Watchmen trailer and… I was lukewarm about it. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not familiar enough with the comic. But I felt kinda bummed to see the March release date, which to me is bad news. (HEY! REMEMBER WHEN 10,000 BC WAS RELEASED IN MARCH? LOL) I really really hope I’m wrong about that. Er, anyway, The Dark Knight was fucking awesome; in particular, I’m awed by the script. I actually felt confused during a couple of big action sequences and at times even zoned out, but I was totally at the edge of my seat during the Superevil-Nemesis-Explains-It-All bits. Not that I’m always into a lot of talk-y shit, but the way it was written and laid out was really compelling to me. I think I’ll go see the movie again. One complaint: the theater turned up the volume to eleven and it seriously hurt my ears. It’s one thing for my ears to be damaged from constant concert-going, but the c’mon, they should feel safer at the fucking movies!!

In the next few days, I’m gonna try to catch some movies at the New York International Latino Film Festival, which started yesterday and ends on Sunday July 27, and the Hola Mexico Film Festival, which begins today and will also end on the 27.

Nananananananana, Leader!

Shocker of all shockers (NOT): The Dark Knight opened at #1 position in the box office. Not only that, it’s got the numero uno US opening of all time at $155 million, which doesn’t surprise me either. What boggles my mind, then? As of this writing, 12:45 pm on July 21, 2008, The Dark Knight is #1 on the IMDB Top 250!

And to think, I still haven’t had a chance to spend $12 on the movie yet!

Short shorts.

(1) This dude re-did “American Boy” into “Caribbean Girl” which is painfully forced and uncreative (some would say faithful). Even worse, just a few changes in the words changes the entire context of the song. It’s more about ~*O HEY MAMI CAN I MACK ON YOU*~ and less of a fun, escapist, ephemeral summer jam, which is how I viewed “American Boy”. Una tragedia, yo digo. I got the sense that this dude is totally in love with his own voice, cos he sure likes to show off how suave he sounds.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!!

(2) Finished reading Las películas de mi vida. The idea was interesting but Fuguet didn’t follow through as effectively as in his other stories. I have to say, however, a lot of times he catches me off guard and I’m hit with some massive emotional punch.

(3) I was having issues with Soulseek–that is, I was too impatient to wait for Soulseekers to stop banning me for not sharing–so I went out and bought the Amandititita album. It was cheaper than most CDs. Yay for being on a major, huh? The album kinda lags in the second half, but it’s still kinda fabulous.

(4) New York mag asked a number of people–including RZA, Kim Gordon, and Albert Hammond, Jr.–to contribute summer playlists, which were turned into muxtapes. One of the Pistolera members participated and filled the muxtape with some great tracks. Here is the link to the muxtape. Speaking of which, I updated my muxtape.

(5) Albums I really really wanna check out:

Julieta Venegas’s MTV Unplugged, which features fucking Marisa Monte (!!!) as well as La Mala Rodríguez. You can check out the version of “Eres para mí” with La Mala at La Onda Tropical. (BTW, congrats to La Onda on their 3rd anniversary and on their mention on Latina.) I love this new version but I absolutely love the rap in the original that Anita Tijoux does. Anita’s lines flow beautifully with the rest of the song and include my favorite lines in the entire song: “el corazón es un músculo/si no late, revienta.” Besides, if I hadn’t heard this song I never would have known about Makiza which is one of my favorite hip-hop groups. Pero bueno, nothing like reinterpretation… right?

I’m also seriously jonesing for Håkan Hellström’s latest album, För Sent för Edelweiss. I don’t know what it is about him, he’s seriously one of the funnest pop musicians I’ve heard. And I’m glad he’s not a Swede who sings in English, obviously living in an English-speaking country, most of the Swedes who come our way tend to perform their music in English, and I’m sure it’s the reason Hellström isn’t well-known here. But his music’s solid! It’s unfair that he shouldn’t get the same exposure.

(6) I’ve been trying the beta version of the new Last.fm and I think it’s swell. Accessible, easy-to-navigate, fast, and easy on the eyes. Seriously, a pretty layout is crucial. It almost makes me wanna pay for a subscription.

(7) Rewatched Dogfight for the first time in years and had a good cry.  Good movie.