Friday, 30 November 2012

"We are Young Despite the Years... We are Hope Despite the Times"

Superstition makes us believe that maybe, someday, something good will happen.
I believe that hard work, perseverance, and the unwavering trust in your own ability to deliver the goods may actually play a part in this. We can't trust that we'll win the lottery and all will be fine. It's time to get up off our asses and do the work. I know this - I am doing it right now! Run Dee Run!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

What do you get when you combine the best of two great movies - "Run Lola Run" and "The Conversation"?

I'm not sure yet, but the answer is slowly unraveling right before my eyes.

I don't try to fool myself with the assurance that everything I write is original, one-of-a-kind, unique, etc., etc., etc... (even that's not original). Instead, with every piece of pop culture - art, film, and  literature that I have absorbed through the years, I hope to combine the freshest of ingredients, and much like a chef, produce a dish that will satisfy. Something that offers a little bit of comfort (familiarity) with a dash of "Je ne sais quoi."

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Jain's Addiction and Other Compulsions

I'm finally at the point where I can focus on my own projects. Family takes up a lot of time. Now that things are settled I am visiting with an old friend - let's call her Jain. Jain and I have a lot in common and I'm dying to tell her story. You can say I've been anticipating this for a long time - it's been somewhat of a compulsion and until I get the words down on paper, I'll be in a state of inertia. Like when an addict puts off going into rehab because they have "plans." Well, I have plans - ones that will kick start and set me in motion. I hope...

Thursday, 8 November 2012

False Starts, New Beginnings

I`m sure everyone has experienced a false start sometime in their lives. It happened to me last week - but it took me over seven weeks to realize it. I had to drop my course before it dropped me. And though it took an emergency to push me to do it, I realize now that since I did it, I feel relieved.
I am not a quitter. I know I would have suffered through the course and persevered, but the right choice for me was to end it. Recognize the false start and start over - preferably taking a different course.
The emergency has passed but I realize that for the next little while, I am needed in a different capacity. I also have the time to work exclusively on my own work. No more excuses! No homework to interfere with my project! No more acid reflux!
(Seriously, I`m not even joking. It disappeared the day I withdrew from the course. Hmmm...)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

My Life On Cruise Control - Part Deux

I made another discovery. For the past couple of years my life has been stuck somewhere between neutral and first gear. Despite the fact that there may have been external contributing factors, I realize that the only way to become unstuck was to take responsibility for myself. So I did. I'm back at school part time, working on a post-graduate writing certificate. I'm working my way up to second or maybe even third gear. My ultimate goal is to reach a gear that is high enough to allow me to engage the cruise control (believe me, it will make me happy).
Milestones have to be met I know; stumbling may occur - but ultimately, I need to do it.

P.S. I will mos def keep a record of my progress and post the results...

 "Do or do not. There is no try."  - Yoda

Sunday, 21 October 2012

My Life On Cruise Control - Part One

I made an incredible discovery this past Friday. On my drive down to Michigan, I finally used the cruise control for my car. What a revelation! I felt like I was playing a video game. A four - hour drive seemed to take so much less time and when I reached my destination and exited the car, I could actually walk! No leg stiffness at all. I believe this incredible invention and my subsequent use will allow me to enjoy road trips for a long, long time.
I felt a little like Vince Vaughn's character in "The Watch" and my favourite scene with the Russian dolls: .

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Living Well Is The Best Revenge : That's The Point

It's funny how my perception of success has changed after 2 years of fruitless searching for gainful employment. Living in a metropolis like Toronto, jobless, and savings tapped-out, I was "lucky"  to land a part-time job with a television series. Working three days a week, my salary is barely half of what I made before being laid off. But somehow, I feel I haven't been happier. I'm working in an industry I love, and the part-time status allows me more time to work on my homework; yep, I'm taking courses and working on completing a writing certificate.
Living well is most definitely a state of mind. Some need a whole lot of money and material goods to fill up their empty lives. I learned that I can thrive on very little without compromising who I am or giving up things I really enjoy.
Oh, and who is my revenge directed at? They're really not important - that's the point I'm making.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Music Review - The Inaugural

As noted in my previous post, I am not a music critic. That being said, I am open to posting music reviews for those who wish to send me a sample of their offerings.

For my first review, I have chosen to contribute my two pennies worth (before you know it, this expression will have no meaning - at least here in Canada, where the lovely penny is in the midst of being removed from circulation) and share with you my impression of the latest release by Derek Webb. Notwithstanding, the title of his album Ctrl, is bad. I am not a big fan of this text-inspired trend in naming things - songs, albums etc. The content of the album however, is really good. I have a hard time describing anything specific about what it is I like about it but recently, I heard "Seven Bridges Road" by the Eagles, and realized that this song makes me think about Derek Webb's album Ctrl. Perhaps it's the simplicity of the guitar and the soothing quality of his voice throughout (?). There's a feeling I get ("when I look to the west") with this album that also brings to mind Sufjan Stevens and his album Chicago; the choir used on some of the songs on Ctrl, is a beautiful touch but it makes me ponder the fact that this would be a difficult album to perform live - unless the arrangements were changed. Luckily, the songs are good enough to be performed solo - a testament to the artistry of Derek Webb.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed "discovering" a new artist whose music fits nicely on my iPod playlist. I hope others feel the same.

Artist: Derek Webb     Album: Ctrl

Track Listing:
And See The Flaming Skies
A City With No Name
Can't Sleep
Pressing On The Bruise
Attonitos Gloria
I Feel Everything
A Real Ghost
Around Every Corner

Monday, 3 September 2012

I Am Not A Music Critic

I love music. I review music. But I am not a music critic. Mostly, because I don't have the musical chops to be able to judge another musician. What I do is report on my personal reaction to the enjoyability of the music I review. It is incredibly subjective. Although I do believe I possess a certain degree of discerning taste and a real desire to be fair. So if any of my reviews seem harsh, it is only because I feel strongly about the subject. Same with anything I may highly praise. Beware the review that lacks colour - I never strive for mediocrity and if my feelings are thus reflected, your album sucks - really badly.
Oh yeah, don't forget - it's only my opinion...

Friday, 24 August 2012

"Concussion wave of a nearby bullet"

Burn Notice fans hear this - Nate Westen's official autopsy report claims that Nate died from "the concussion wave of a nearby bullet." In other words, there was only one shot fired by the sniper - at Anson Fullerton (season 6 episode 6). The exiting bullet created a shock wave that caused massive internal bleeding for Nate Westen. He was NOT killed by a bullet. The passing bullet then traveled through a wall that was situated behind Nate; leaving a significantly gaping hole. Interesting, but unfortunately impossible. No matter the caliber, there exists no legitimate evidence that this phenomena can occur. Damn, the Burn Notice folks are usually better than that.
If Tom Card gave Madeline Westen this information (autopsy report - season 6 episode 10) are we to assume that Michael Westen knows this as well? This information makes Nate's death a potential accident and not the murder that we have been led to believe.
What do you think?

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Movie Music Misuse

I just have to say that I think music in movies and television is extremely important. No better way to enhance emotion; a tool used by the director to increase the audience's appreciation of the moving image on screen.
Great examples: "500 Days of Summer", "Reservoir Dogs", "Garden State" - just to name a few.
Unfortunately sometimes, the director is way off and misuses the music. A glaring example is a movie I recently watched, "Hope Springs." David Frankel directed this sweet coming of middle-age film with two very competent(read: enormously gifted), actors - Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. As if these two need some sappy old Annie Lennox song to help convey their emotional turmoil to the audience. Mr. Frankel, no music or sound at all was needed throughout most of this movie. If you think that the writing and acting was not strong enough to get the message across (and it seems you did), then you completely wasted the talent of two of Hollywood's finest. I felt a little embarrassed when the manipulative music came on during some of these emotional scenes - as if I needed to be told what sort of emotion I should be feeling! The music did the opposite of what it should have - I felt distanced. Hard to imagine that Mr. Frankel also directed "The Devil Wears Prada," but I guess the genre was easier to work with.
Here's hoping that the misuse of music in movies (and TV) is kept to a minimum - better yet, hire me as your music supervisor and I'll guarantee that this horrible faux pas never happens.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

TV Music - Indie Band Contingency Plan

Indie bands have increasingly become the go to guys for television music supervisors . Always eager to promote their music and always willing to negotiate a good deal; they also allow for greater flexibility with licensing turn around time. Smaller labels can license a song within hours - you're lucky to get a major label to grant a license in a few weeks! Smaller budgets for cable programming and well, lower television budgets in general, has made indie band music licensing a far more attractive alternative.
There is no better way to receive broad exposure than to license your song to a show with say, 5million viewers per week. A recent example is the song "Broken" by  S. Carey used in an episode of Burn Notice. Actually, not just any episode - one that was heavily promoted with the death of a main character. Thus, pulling in a captivated 5million viewers who heard the song play out during said death and throughout the final 3 minutes of the show. You couldn't ask for better exposure. I liked the song enough to look it up and discover who S. Carey is (drummer, collaborator of Bon Iver) and ultimately buy his album on iTunes.
I also noticed this past season (third) of The Good Wife, that the music selections became more eclectic and also took centre stage played through the last minutes of certain episodes. Not sure if they hired a new music supervisor, but for sure, their musical taste changed - for the better; playing Beach House's "Real Love" in the final moments of their season finale.
Gone are the days when shows like er played songs like Don Henley's "I'm taking you home" during the final scene when George Clooney returns as Doug Ross to reunite with Julianna Margulie's Carol Hathaway. Too expensive, too much time to secure licensing. Although, surprisingly, Coldplay has recently begun to license their music in earnest. When they were still relatively new, they had a policy of not licensing their music. I guess poor sales of their latest album made them change their minds on that.
Long live indie music!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Love Is A Mix Tape Part 2

Here is my 2012 Summer mix jam tape.
1. Little Broken Hearts - Nora Jones
2. It's Only Life - The Shins
3. Idle Tales - Cowboy Junkies
4. Say it Again - The Folk
5. Gold on the Ceiling - The Black Keys
6. Small Town Moon - Regina Spektor
7. Settle Down - Kimbra
8. Blunderbuss - Jack White
9. Myth - Beach House
10. Youth Without Youth - Metric
11. Sigur Ros - Fjogur piano

Sunday, 29 July 2012

On Running: A Note On Literary Inspiration

I've been running on and off the past two years. My routine almost daily; 4 to 6 days per week covering 5 to 10 km per outing. Last month I fell into a funk. I had no desire to run. Lethargy and apathy took hold of me and I cut back to maybe once a week. I chalked it up to being too busy with job hunting (true about the hunt but the time consumption should not have cut that deeply); too busy with school and blog writing (I contribute to an online music magazine All lies. What I needed was an intervention - not  in the classic sense - something to inspire me. Get me back up on my feet again.
Funnily enough, I found my running inspiration within the confines of a short story. One penned by Stephen King. I discovered "The Gingerbread Girl", in King's short story collection "Just After Sunset". It's the story of a woman, Emily, who is metaphorically running from her past. She's also physically running in her present life in search of hope and the desire to keep living for the future. At least that's my interpretation.
The way King writes about her running progression - Emily starts at her front door and barely makes it to the end of her driveway - out of breath, out of shape. She starts with baby steps; going farther and farther each day. The running becomes all consuming and her daily ritual becomes a soul soothing balm. Shielding her from a tragic occurrence in her past, it becomes the most important facet of her daily life. But just as we start to think that perhaps this obsessive behaviour is detrimental to Em's health, a very twisted story unfolds (how very Stephen King of you!). The physical training that Em's body has endured over the past few months become the most important thing in her life - her increased physical strength comes in handy to say the least. Emily wakes up to the notion that life is worth living when hers is threatened. There is nothing more life affirming than the notion of some psycho wanting to end you before you're ready.
I love that this character whose life is adversely affected by tragedy at the beginning of the story, becomes a physically (and eventually, mentally) strong woman whose outlook on life once again changes with the advent of an even greater tragic event. In the end, the running is what keeps her sane, strong and helps her to endure.
Yep - I think I'll keep on running. Can't hurt, can it?

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Love Is A Mix Tape Part 1

Today I realized that nothing makes me happier than a perfect song transition on the radio. Listening to while on my morning jog, they played Gotye's "Smoke and Mirrors" followed by Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues". It wasn't until I heard the smooth vocalizations of Mr. Gaye that I realized a new song was playing. The seamless transition between the two songs gave me chills. It makes me happy to realize that the owners of my favourite radio station care enough about their listeners to take the time to put some thought in to their playlists. The same outcome I strive for when I make a mix tape - or CD.
Any true music lover will agree that the time and effort that goes into the creation of a mix tape is a covert illustration of their love; be it for the person you give the mix to or the love you have for the songs. I learned all about mix tape manufacturing back when I was in college. I had a secret crush on my best (boy) friend. He showed me the ropes so to speak. He owned the stereo equipment and he gave me the technical skills to create a mix tape. I owe him for that. But ultimately, the secret to my success as a mix tape artist, is the joy I derive from music and the outpouring of my heart into the mix.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

It's a Man Ray (kind of) Sky

I've been job hunting for a very long time and I recently came to realize that if fail to land a job in my current field, I might just consider a career in long-haul trucking. I'm not even joking!
The beginning of the week saw me and my nephew head out on a road trip. For thirteen hours on Monday, we drove from TO to Creedmoor NC. Over 1200KM. It was this long-distance, endurance testing, highway-traversing, body-stiffening drive, where I learned something about myself. As long as I have music playing and I can sing along, there's no telling what behemoth distances I can travel. In general, I never sleep in a moving vehicle - car, plane, train - just not my thing. So naturally, long-distance driving seems to be a good fit for me.
I can't stress the importance of s great soundtrack to accompany said car trip, because although I may have the stamina to remain awake, there is the very real chance that I could be hit with monotony-induced fatigue. Obviously, with over thirteen hours of one way travel, you've got to mix it up a bit. So I played quite a few CDs during the trip (yes, my car plays CDs) but there was one CD mix that I made a couple of years ago that I played at least six times on the entire trip. When I got home, I wrote down the songs and their titles and realized that most of these tunes had a melancholy theme. Nevertheless, this particular soundtrack had me singing along, and most importantly, helped me to keep my focus on the road ahead. Here it is - the "Sober Mix":

01. Sober - Tool
02. Ana's Song - Silverchair
03. John Wayne Gacy Jr. - Sufjan Stevens
04. Fisherman's Blues - The Waterboys
05. Sworn and Broken - Screaming Trees
06. Maybe Tomorrow - Stereophonics
07. Tear In Your Hand - Tori Amos
08. Chicago - Sufjan Stevens
09. Old Man Kensey - r.e.m.
10. Precious Things - Tori Amos
11. The Whole of the Moon - The Waterboys
12. The Funeral - Band of Horses
13. Things Fall Apart - Built to Spill
14. Edie (Ciao Baby) - The Cult
15. Rain - Patty Griffin
16. To Build a Home - The Cinematic Orchestra with Patrick Watson

 While driving, it keeps me engaged with its melancholia. Gee, I wonder why...

Friday, 1 June 2012

A New Day, A New Name

Last night I discovered another blog with a name that was way too close to mine.
I'm not sure why I didn't discover it sooner; may have been due to the sporadic posting of the Rector Dorian from Michigan.
Hence, the blog title change. One that I feel better represents what I'm doing here.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

My name is Michael Westen I used to be... Pinocchio!

I'm listening to the Brian Jonestown Massacre while writing this. Know that I have NOT been influenced in any way by the band...

The Players - Burn Notice
  • Michael Westen - Pinocchio - please, it's so obvious. What with the multitude of bad guys pulling on his strings. His impeccable posture (read wooden) and his seemingly selfish desire to regain his status within the CIA. Oh yeah, spies lie - a lot!
  • Fiona Glenanne, Sam Axe, Jesse Porter, Nate Westen, Maddie Westen - Jiminy Cricket. All Michael's friends and family have taken on the role of "conscience" to Michael's Pinocchio - none more so than Fiona.
  • Maddie Westen - The Blue Fairy - She brought Michael into the world and increasingly gives him advice on how "normal people" behave.
  • Fiona and Sam - Figaro and Cleo - two characters who do not like one another in the beginning but warm up to each other the more Michael becomes "humanized".
  • Dead Larry - John Worthington Foulfellow  - criminal fox who tricks Pinocchio a couple of times. Need I say more?
  • Tyler Brennen - Gideon -fox's criminal accomplice. Brennen is not mute but he sure adds a lot to the humour of the show.
  • Anson Fullerton - Stromboli - There have been many adversaries representing the machine that "burned" Michael Westen. None however, as powerful as Anson who we learn is the mastermind behind Michael's burn notice and the CEO of the entire subversive organization. 
  • FBI, CIA, Anson - Monstro - The whale that has swallowed Fiona Glenanne (see season 5 finale) who has also taken on the role of Geppetto as her desire for Michael's transformation into a "real man"has  increased over the course of the show. 
The 2011 television season created much hype around two new shows which were inspired by Fairy Tales (Once upon a Time and Grimm). I'll argue that for the past five years, Matt Nix has had the longest running "Fairy Tale inspired" program on television. Whether or not you agree with me, I'm convinced that Burn Notice is the modern day Pinocchio .

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

"I'll Be Clumsy Instead"

When it comes to this blogging type stuff, there are no more sage words of advice than the following:

"Everyone walks the same. Expecting me to step the narrow path they've laid.
They claim to walk unafraid - I'll be clumsy instead" - r.e.m.

I hope to entice the reader with my clever writing skills but as a famous writer said : "It's called addictive vernacular" - yep, that's what I'm going for - but watch out, because I'll surely be clumsy during my first few tentative steps...

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

WTR? or Why The Red?

Why the red background?
Like any good Capricorn, not only am I "all about the money"- (Ricky Watkins), I'm also a sucker for horoscope - based superstition.
Red is our power colour - fellow Cappy Tiger Woods wears red on the Sunday of his tournaments...
Case closed.

Greetings and Salutations

Like it says in my intro:
I will strive to catch and then release some of those "good words" - or not
Also, I will strive to provide some entertaining discourse - or not
Finally, I will strive to engage the reader with an abundance of wit and wisdom - or not

You decide...