Nov 29, 2012

Songs I Have Listened to While Being Involved in a Motor Vehicle Collision

Really, there are only two of these. But I found them to be interesting nonetheless. Both are related to travel (by train and by space capsule).

The Last Train to Clarksville by The Monkees

Major Tom (Coming Home) by Peter Schilling

Both of these incidences were very slow-speed collisions where I was in the front passenger seat. Despite nobody getting even remotely seriously injured in either case, both cars I was riding in were completely totaled. Apparently I am a harbinger of vehicular destruction.

Life is full of odd coincidences. 

The moral of the story is this: Don't drive an older Japanese-manufactured car with me in the front passenger seat while some travel-related song is playing on the stereo.

Nov 17, 2012

A recent, long-overdue visit to my local public library has inspired my recent re-infatuation with The Shins. I checked out Wincing the Night Away, the band's 2007 release. If you're not familiar with the kickin' bass and layered lyrical content of The Shins, you totally should be.

Because I am currently obsessed with this album, and I've been thinking about the lyrics to the songs almost incessantly, I offer my interpretation of the bitchin' song Sea Legs.

In case you're not familiar:

I used red text for lyrics I'm kinda stuck on and don't really know how to interpret. I haven't done any research on the intended meaning of the song; all I've done is copy the lyrics from

Of all the churning random hearts under the sun eventually fading into night, These two are opening now As we lie, I touch you wonderful alive.

(Me: Think of all the people in the world living and dying as we lie here showing our vulnerabilities to one another and sexing it up.)

Girl, if you're a seascape
I'm a listing boat, for the thing carries every hope.

I invest in a single life.
The choice is yours to be loved
Come away from it empty of but us.

(me: I prefer not to complicate things with a long-term relationship. It's up to you if you want to get freaky together. Even when it ends, we'll have the memories.)

'Cause when the dead moon
Rises again
There's no time to stall or protocol
To hem us in.
And when the dog slides
Underneath the train,
There's no **** no use searching for
The mutt's remains.

(me: 'cause when it's a new moon (no light to call attention to us), we don't have to worry about any inhibitions. When we ultimately aren't faithful to each other (dog=fidelity), there's no use trying to make a big deal out of it, because it seems like we have an understanding on the matter)

Throw all consequence aside
the cheerless pyre we will set alight.

(me: Don't worry about the consequences of our tryst. Fuck it, let's have meaningless sex.)

Of all the intersecting lines in the sand
I routed a labyrinth to your lap.
I never used a map sliding off the land
On an incidental tide,
And along the way you know, they tried
They tried.

(me: Out of all the people's sides I could have taken, I chose to sex you up specifically. It's a weird twist of fate that I didn't plan.)

And we got sea legs
And we're off tonight
they can't have that to which they've no right
You belong to a simpler time
I'm a victim to the impact of these words,
And this rhyme.

(me: We're experienced in these matters. Let's run away together tonight.)

So yeah. Obviously there's still some stuff in here that I have no fucking clue how to interpret. Anyone have any ideas?

May 11, 2011

Artist of the Day: Björk

Björk is a completely amazing Icelandic musician. She has a very distinctive voice and commands amazing control over it, whispering intensely one moment and screaming passionately the next. She often inserts smooth, gorgeous melodies into her songs. She is famous for her eccentric style and her boundary-breaking music videos.

You've probably heard this song from way back in the early 90's:

In the late 90's, she released Homogenic with the lead single All is Full of Love. The video for which is a huge leap in special effects as well as an interesting commentary on humanity, sexuality, and technology. It won several awards:

In 2000, Björk starred in and wrote the score for Dancer in the Dark. This musical written and directed by Lars von Trier takes place in the 1960's. It centers around Czech immigrant Selma, who is in the process of going blind. She is saving up money for her son's surgery so that he will not suffer the same fate. In order to escape the awfulness of everyday life, Selma daydreams that she is in a musical.

It's completely heartbreaking, but well worth it. Björk is absolutely captivating in it.

Here is my favorite song in the film (there are SPOILERS):

The following video, made for a song off of the album Vespertine (2001), is one of my favorites. The Pagan Poetry video was banned by MTV due to the stylized yet graphic sex scenes as well as for its use of needles piercing the skin. It is obviously NSFW:

Her music is quite versatile. Earth Intruders (2007) has an infectious, African-inspired drumbeat:

Her newest endeavor, Biophilia, is an ambitious multimedia production which addresses the physics of music in nature. Super exciting stuff!

Check out her newly redesigned site bjö for more.

Feb 13, 2011

Artist of the Day: Chuck Close

Chuck Close is an American artist known for his photorealistic paintings. If you've ever taken a college art history course that deals with the last half of the last century, you are probably familiar with this image:

One amazing thing about this image is that it ISN'T a photograph. It's paint! He was one of the first artists to really go in this direction of super real paintings that emulate photography.

Another amazing thing?

Chuck Close is face blind.

He doesn't recognize faces.

I learned this from this podcast from Radiolab.

What he does is map out a flattened image of a face in a grid, creating sort of a landscape. The features of this landscape eventually become a highly realistic picture of a face.

A couple more examples:

Also - he was on The Colbert Report.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Chuck Close
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogMarch to Keep Fear Alive

His work is an amazing technical achievement. While I'm not in love with this particular style/movement, I admire that Close has overcome so much adversity to become such an accomplished and well-known artist.

Not only is he face-blind, he's also dyslexic. He still can't count without the visual aid of a domino.

When he was 11, his father died, his mother got breast cancer, his grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and he developed a debilitating kidney infection.

He moved past all this to later graduate from the University of Washington as well as Yale. He went on to earn acclaim for his portraiture.

At 49, he suffered a blood clot in his spinal cord.

This made him a quadriplegic. He completely lost the use of his limbs.

But Close, being the determined bad ass that he is, apparently demanded his dying muscles to work again.

He stills paints.

Now his paintings look like this:

I actually like these better. But I'm a sucker for abstraction.

info from here

Jan 18, 2011

Bagels with a Side of Needless Vindictiveness

It was recently brought to my attention that Bagels On Broadway, makers of delicious bagels, not only have terrible radio advertisements but are somewhat evil as well.

This article (Sacred Trash by Jessie Froehling) from the Missoula Independent (February 2009) tells the unfortunate tale.

Since there are only three sentences addressing Bagels On Broadway in particular, I'll post them here.

"An employee who requested anonymity says that the owner asks workers to dump vinegar on discarded bagels to keep people from fishing them out of the trash."

The anonymous employee is quoted:
“But we don’t really do it. I don’t know, it just seems kinda…not fair. I mean, if you’re digging through the trash for food…”

This is all the info I could scrounge up in my dedicated five minute Google search. I don't know if this is still something the business practices, but I certainly hope not.

Dick move, BOB, dick move.

I don't think I'll be patronizing your establishment any longer.

image from here

Jan 11, 2011

Artist of the Day: Banksy

If you have been on the Internet before (you're there right now!) then you are likely aware of Banksy and his delightful snarkiness.

Here are two of my favorite examples of his street art:

Graffiti is where he got his start. He is also notorious for slipping pieces into galleries and museums.

More recently though, he's been getting real, live exhibitions of his very own. The attendance to which are staggering. Here's a link on his (free) exhibition in the Bristol City Museum.

A couple highlights:

I think one of the most excellent, broad-reaching things he's done so far, however, is his "couch gag" with The Simpsons. The beginning is relatively business as usual, with Banksy references (rats, crows, vandalism) sprinkled here and there.

Right around 0:37 is where it really gets interesting and amusing.

How my Art Criticism professor hesitates to include him in our list of contemporary artists this past semester, I just don't understand.

Dec 28, 2010

Artist of the Day: Swoon

Caledonia “Callie” Dance Curry aka Swoon is a street artist based in New York City. She creates these amazing cardboard and paper cut-out works. They're displayed all over the city and they're built to be temporary.

Perhaps her most impressive work is this one

which is a commentary on a disturbingly large amount of young Mexican women who have gone missing, the Mexican government merely disregarding the cases. This piece is in particular a memorial to 17-year-old Silvia Elena Rivera Morales.

More recently, she's been working on this flotilla project:

The whole idea is to make different ways of life accessible to people who might not be exposed to anything terribly different. Swoon wants to portray this message via a traveling flotilla which stops to give performances.

I'm not sure if she and her troupe are getting the message across. From what I saw in this interview, the performances look a little alienating to someone outside the act.

I love her ideas though, and I hope she keeps engaging the public with her art.