Tuesday, July 26, 2011

the past 6 months

for the past 6 months i have been living in Cusco, Peru volunteering at a non-profit cafe called, The Meeting Place. i have kept a list of everything i have read, watched, and listened to so i will share it:

Books I read in Peru:
Bible: Pentatuch (First 5 books of the Bible)
Jesus For President by Shane Claiborne
Following the Equator by Mark Twain
The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

Movies I watched in Cusco:
127 Hours
2001 A Space Odyssey
2001 A Space Odyssey The Making of a Myth
A Hard Day's Night
A Serious Man
Addicted to Plastic
Alone in the Wilderness
Battle Royale
Blade Runner
Bottle Rocket
Burn After Reading
Carlos Pt. 1
Carlos Pt. 2
Carlos Pt. 3
Che Pt. 1
Che Pt. 2
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Days of Heaven
Drillbit Taylor
Due Date
Dumb and Dumber
Encounters at the End of the World
Exit Through the Giftshop
Garbage Warrior
Gas Land
Get Low
G.I. Joe Rise of Cobra
Hall Pass
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blooded Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Pt. 1
Hobo With A Shotgun
Human Planet Series
I'm Still Here
Inception & Special Features
An Idiot Abroad Series
Inglorious Basterds
Inland Empire
In Bruges
I'm Still Here
Jackass 1
Jackass 2.5
Jackass 2
Jackass 3
Little Fockers
Lost in Translation
Magical Mystery Tour (The Beatles)
Man Bites Dog
Mega Shark vs. Crocasaures 
Monsters vs Aliens
Mr Nobody
October Sky
Pineapple Express
Red Dawn
Red Vs Blue (Seasons 1&2)
Step Brothers
Silent Running
Simon of the Desert
Source Code
Star Wars IV
Star Wars V
Star Wars VI (possibly)
Sympathy for the Devil
The Adjustment Bureau
The American
The Beatles Anthology (Episodes 1-8)
The Big Lebowski
The Conversation
The Darjeeling Limited
The Departed
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Fighter
The Good German
The Green Hornet
The Human Experience
The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus
The Informant
The Insider
The Kings Speech
The Life Aquatic
The New World
The Pianist
The Royal Tenenbaums
The Social Network
The Squid and the Whale
The Ten Commandments
The Thin Red Line
The Troll Hunter
The Vanishing
Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (5 Seasons)
Troll 2
Twin Peaks (2 seasons)
Up In The Air
Youth In Revolt
Waiting for Superman
Waking Sleeping Beauty
Wildboyz (4 seasons)
X-Men Animated Series (5 Seasons)
X-Men First Class
Young Mr. Lincoln

Worst Movie: National Lampoon's TV: The Movie or Hobo with a Shotgun
Best Movie: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Best Documentary: Catfish
Favorite Documentaries: Alone in the Wilderness & Encounters at the End of the World
Most Influential Film: Garbage Warrior
Best TV Show: Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job!

New Music:
Akron/Family - Discography
Aaron Giillespie - Anthem Song
The Animals - Best Of
The Avett Brothers - Emotionalism, Four Thieves Gone, The Gleam, The Gleam II
Beastie Boys - Ill Communication & Licensed to Ill
The Beatles - Complete Singles
Bon Iver - Bon Iver
Cake - Fashion Nugget
The Cars - Best Of
The Clash - London Calling
Crosby Stills & Nash - Greatest Hits
Crosby Stills Nash & Young - Deja Vu
David Bazan - Strange Negotiations
Defeater - Empty Days & Sleepless Nights
Dogwood - Through Thick & Thin
The Doors - Best Of
Dovekins - Assemble the Aviary
Dr. Dog - Fate
Eddie Vedder - Ukulele Songs
Elvis Presley - 30 #1 Hits
Faces - Best Of
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac
George Harrison - All Things Must Pass & Living in the Material World
I Monster - Neveroddoreven
Jimi Hendrix - Experience Hendrix
John Coltrane - A Love Supreme
Jose Gonzalez - In Our Nature, Stay in the Shade, & Veneer
The Kinks - Best Of
Led Zepplin - 4 & Mothership
Lou Reed - Transformer
Mason Jennings - Blood of Man
Miles Davis - Bitches Brew & Kind of Blue
Neil Diamond - The Essential
The O.C. Supertones - Supertones Strike Back
The Only Ones - Special View
Paul McCartney - McCartney
The Psalters - Ch.7 Tour EP
R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country
Refused - The Shape of Punk to Come
Relient K - Forget and Not Slow Down & Is For Karaoke EP
Roger Miller - Best Of
The Rolling Stones - Greatest Hits
Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness & Siamese Dream
Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz & All Delighted People
Underoath - Disambiguation
The Velvet Underground - Loaded & White Light/White Heat
Verse - From Anger and Rage
The W's - Fourth from the Last
Wallace Collection - Laughing Cavalier & Serenade
The White Stripes - Elephant, Icky Thump, White Blood Cells, The White Stripes
The Who - Ultimate Collection
Woody Guthrie - Discography
Yann Tiersen - Dust Lane
The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle & Greatest Hits

Most Surprising Band: Akron/Family
Favorite Album: Psalters Ch.7 Tour EP & Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues
Oldie but Goodie: Rolling Stones - Greatest Hits & Elvis Presley's 30 #1 Hits
Most Disappointing: David Bazan - Strange Negotiations (needs more listening to)
Most Listened to Band in the past 6 months: Fleet Foxes 475 listens
Most Listened to Song in the past 6 months: Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues 106x

Friday, April 8, 2011

the thin red line (between heaven and hell)

this was the most beautiful and sad war movie i've ever seen. i haven't been moved like this by a movie in a long while. not only did it invoke a very touching and emotional story but it brought to mind key questions in a persons faith. last sunday i watched terrence malick's "days of heaven" and was impressed by the wonderful visuals but a little displeased with the story and editing; terrence took the same beauty and movement that he placed in "days of heaven" into "the thin red line" but this time he took a great story from james jones (writer of the novel, "the thin red line").

the thing that really made this movie stand out from other war movies is how it didn't glorify war. so many movies show how great and powerful the american army is and how we persevered through extreme hardships to overcome "evil". it is usually glorified and applauded. both of my grandpa's served in wwii in the pacific; my grandpa leonard hackett ii was part of the squad that surveyed the destruction after we dropped the bomb on hiroshima and my grandpa dean burkhardt served in the navy. neither one ever talked about the war. war is not something that is to be reveled, it's a terrible event that people have had to endure.

i can see where band of brothers came from with multiple characters that you grow attached too, learn to love and cry over when misfortune meets them. malick found a great balance of having many big named actors fill the scattered characters in this film. i honestly feel that each one was necessary to evoke the emotions, moral dilemmas, and character of the soldiers.

saving private ryan came out the same year (1998) but you can see a stark difference in story and style between the two. i enjoy saving private ryan, a huge step in filmmaking but it is more for entertainment value than cognitive value (granted there are good things to learn and dwell about, such as with almost everything if you look hard enough). i'm not coming down on saving private ryan; they are two wwii films but on the opposite sides of the spectrums when it comes to filmmaking and storytelling.

we are not immortal, we are very human. why do we hate our brothers and kill our fellow man? why do we let selfishness and greed consume our being and in some shape or form we attack others? what do we gain from this? God is love. we should be loving our neighbors as ourselves. we should be doing unto others like we would have them do unto us. more and more i flee from the thought that war is every good or needed. it's a tough subject but maybe if we start treating others like they are human beings and meeting our neighbors and extending a smile and a "hello" to a stranger on the street this anger/hate/jealousy/greediness/and sin would vanish from our beings and we can fill it with love. we need less of our ownselves and more goodness and love which comes from God.

less of me and more of You.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

new music

aaron gillespie
akron/family discography
animal collective
the animals
beastie boys
the cars
cat power
crosby, stills, & nash
crosby, stills, nash, & young
the doors
elvis presley
fleet foxes
george harrison
iron & wine
john lennon
johnny cash
jose gonzalez
local natives
michael jackson
miles davis
neil diamond
relient k
roger miller
sufjan stevens
the velvet underground
woody guthrie discography
yann tiersen

Friday, March 25, 2011

25.03.11 Reviews

Movies: "The King's Speech", "The Fighter", "The Social Network", and "Garbage Warrior"

Music: John Coltrane's "Love Supreme", Akron/Family's "Meek Warrior" and "P/T II: The Cosmic Birth & Journey of Shinju TNT"

I am not going to talk too in depth about any of the movies except "Garbage Warrior" because you can find and read better reviews of the other movies. I just want to give some thoughts of my own to each.

"The King's Speech" - By all means I do think that this movie deserved all the awards it won, especially Best Picture even though I really really enjoyed Aronofsky's "Black Swan". Right off the bat, Colin Firth did an amazing job bringing stuttering emotion into this film. The relationship between the king and the speech therapist displays many of the class issues that were prevalent during that time period which gave an outsider like myself (an American) more knowledge of the history of Great Britain. My favorite part of this movie is the wall in the speech therapist's office; not only is it just beautiful but there is so much texture and meaning in it. This is a gorgeous movie and the final speech brings goosebumps to me. It is such a powerful and much needed speech for the people of Great Britain and the insider's view of how Geoffrey Rush, the speech therapist, is right there practicing and mouthing the words is just wonderful.

"The Fighter" - All I really want to say about this film is how great Christian Bale is, as usual. He plays Dicky, a once famous boxer who knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard and became a hometown hero but now his brother, Mark Wahlberg, is attempting to move up the rankings of the boxing world and Bale is his trainer but he is strung out on crack and there are other family issues with their mother who is their manager. I don't know how Bale does it but he continues to impress me with his various roles in movies: "American Psycho", "Batman" series (a bit of a stretch with that ultra deep voice), "I'm Not There", and "The Machinist". He is a talented actor and I enjoy how realistic he is in most of his roles. This is an entertaining movie but nothing great like the above mentioned movie.

"The Social Network" - Two things impressed me with this movie and that is how great the editing is and how sad the story is. The way Fincher and Sorkin portrayed this story was amazing, just hopping back and forth from the college days of Zuckerberg while he creates Facebook and to the depositions is seamless and done very very well. Props to them as well as the editor. I say that the story is sad is because you see how much of the moral problems in today's society come out in each of the characters. Granted we all have our faults but it pains me to see good friends split because of conflict and how the pursuit of power and money consumes people. As much as we use Facebook (myself included), I don't want to help aid those issues and conflicts but I will have to admit that Zuckerberg is a very intelligent guy for creating this even if it wasn't his full idea but that is how things work sometimes.

"Garbage Warrior" - This is the movie I want to talk the most about because it is more meaningful to myself and others, in my opinion. "Garbage Warrior" is the story of architect Michael Reynolds, creating sustainable houses in New Mexico. It is truly amazing how these unique structures can produce all the electricity you need (so no power line hookups or power company bills), catch all the rainwater and store it underneath your house so you don't need to drill a well or hook up to a cities water system, and rid your house of conventional air conditioner and heater with it's own heating and cooling system. You are completely off the grid of utility companies. These houses are constructed out of common goods we dispose of on a daily basis, glass bottles, cans, tires, and other materials. It is a creative and helpful way to own a home and have yourself be less dependent on utility companies as well as produce clean energy. Inside the houses they create greenhouse areas so you essentially don't have to leave your house because you have shelter, water, and food right there. So Reynolds has been creating these houses since the 70's and he was creating subdivisions where he would buy a plot of land and have a random drawing to see what plot of land people got and they just put down money for these houses and they all work on building each other's house creating a tight-knit community as well as showing each person what goes into their home. After some time, the government of New Mexico wasn't happy about these houses and decided to cause some trouble so Reynolds spend many years trying to pass a bill in New Mexico that would allow himself to build and sell sustainable houses to people under an experimental clause and after 2 failed attempts and countless hours of lobbying and revising the bill, it was passed! Between that time period, Reynolds and his crew went to some islands in India where the terrible earthquake and tsunami destroyed everything; all the wells were contaminated and people wanted something more safe, cheaper, and more sustainable so they built earth-ships there out of the above mentioned materials. They also went down to Mexico to build some of these houses too. There is a global problem with oil consumption, deforestation, too much waste, and just not using our resources wisely, so these sustainable houses are very helpful to help minimize these problems and if more people joined in we would put more money in our own pockets and be less dependent on utility companies and natural resources. I am going to look more into sustainable houses because I think this is a very smart and realistic option for homeowners. The whole documentary is available to watch on YouTube so please watch it.

As for music, I just want to highlight how wonderful John Coltrane's "Love Supreme" album is. He is a gifted musician and the rhythm and flow is superb as well as its meaning behind the album. This is considered one of the best Jazz albums of all time and him and his band recorded this album all in one session. This album is in 4 parts - Acknowledgement, Resolution, Pursuance, and Psalm; it is a spiritual album representing the struggle with personal purity and how all the talents and gifts that one has is from our Creator. Take a listen to this album because it is very soothing.

Also if you haven't listened to Akron/Family, you need to; their "Love is Simple" albums is my favorite but I just got a couple of their other albums and EVERY ONE is different, not kidding. They are very talented and are producing some really interesting and unique sounds.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Great Documentaries

i just finished watching two great documentaries: "Waiting for Superman" & "Exit Through the Gift Shop". i haven't seen the rest of the nominees for best documentary for the Oscars or even the one that won, but i would have to say that "Exit Through the Gift Shop" is unlike any documentary i've seen; with a glimpse of "I'm Still Here" i go back and forth on the validity of the film.

to start with Banksy's "Exit Through the Gift Shop", i walked away feeling like a fool and murmuring to myself how big of an idiot thierry is, as well as how genius Banksy is. i thought it was going to be a documentary about Banksy which i was super excited for since, Banksy is amazingly talented; he decided to branch out and amaze us through a different medium. this film has such a huge statement on art and it's culture and it basically gives a big middle finger to all of them; to all the people who sell out and believe they are making art when they are using others to make art and/or just regurgitating previous works. what happened to originality? i struggle with this concept all the time, that is why i haven't made any films recently and struggle to breakout of my monotonous mold in photography. it's one thing to be inspired from others, but to blatantly rip off other people's work is lazy and lackluster. also if you make something, please think through and have a logical or at least an explanation that forms a cognitive sentence instead of "it is popular in culture" referencing thierry when he was interviewed about one of his art pieces. i am not sure if this is an adaptation off of mockumentary by staging a story and mocking the art community or if indeed this is a true story where thierry was in the right place at the right time and just got so consumed with fame and fortune that he decided to throw art out the window. i have had countless talks with friends about this movie and i keep coming back to Banksy and how he is a creative genius who loves to show you how stupid or meaningless aspects of life/culture/politics are. he got me, i'll be the first to admit it. this is a great film and continues to press the question onto the viewer, "is this art?"


i finally got the chance to sit down and watch "Waiting for Superman" a documentary about our school system and the problems we have been facing and some examples of schools/students actually excelling. to start things off i want to admit that i'm not the best student, but a good one; i am not the smartest person out there and nor do i have the answers to fix the school system, political system, energy consumption issue, food industry, or any other large system/industry that has been tainted and causing our culture, country, world to spiral into a bad place. *side note* i hope that all of the viewers of these documentaries like "Waiting for Superman", "Food Inc.", "The Corporation", "No End in Sight", "No Impact Man", etc. don't just walk away from seeing these films and say i want to change something, then not do anything. i hope viewers are actually taking stake in these huge issues and taking them to heart, i know i am doing my part but need to be more involved. sorry for the rant. "Waiting for Superman" was really well made with good production value (unlike the scrappy camera work in "Exit Through the Gift Shop" but it shows you that you don't have to have a huge budget to have a great film, but a good story).  you follow a handful of kids ranging in ages, financial status, and ethnic backgrounds in their current schools and where they are wanting/trying to get into due to a higher percentage of success in their education instead of funneling into a school with a nickname like "dropout factory". intermixed with the stories of these kids are two examples of schools that are thriving in their teaching and percentage of advancement of graduation and acceptance into colleges: Kipp L.A. Prep & Harlem Success Academy. it was said that lower income neighborhoods and schools were affecting each other to produce dumb kids, but this is not what Kipp L.A. Prep or Harlem Success Academy are showing us; they have started numerous schools in poor/crime filled/poor test score parts of cities and have shown that they are having success in teaching kids. the film brings up where the current school system is failing 1) guaranteeing teachers security through tenure even if they are poor teachers 2) the bureaucracy at a state/federal level as well as with the teachers' unions standing in the way of change 3) spending trillions of dollars on military and prisons when we should be spending it on equipping our youth with something useful and productive called knowledge. the things that make Kipp and Harlem schools a success are teachers actually qualified to teach, good pay to reward the teachers, longer school days, more specific tutoring for children, and college prep from day one. i really love Roger Ebert's closing statement about how to deal with the failure of our education system "Our nation is willing to spent trillions on war and billions to support the world's largest prison population rate. Here is my modest proposal: Spend less money on prisons and more money on education. Reduce our military burden and put that money into education. In 20 years, you would have more useful citizens, less crime and no less national security. It's so simple." go out and watch this documentary, share it with your friends and family, be invested and a part in your child's education, go to PTA meetings, meet with teachers, help your kid with homework, be a tutor, financially support a family wanting to put their kid in a better school, write your representatives to help change the education system. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

09.03.2011 reading. listening. watching. playing.

reading: "finished jesus for president" by shane claiborne and starting "following the equator or more tramps abroad" by mark twain.

listening: Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes, Fantastic Mr Fox OST, Akron Family Set Em Wild, Set Em Free, Refused "The Shape of Punk to Come", The Kinks "Ultimate Collection, Sufjan Steven's "All Delighted People" and "The Age of Adz", The Rolling Stones "Greatest Hits".

watching: human planet series, have heart final show, continuing twin peaks. (on deck for movies: che pt.1 & pt. 2, kings speech, exit through the gift shop, and waiting for superman)

playing: age of empires iii and sudoku

it's been a long time since i updated this blog but hope to keep up with it. i will start off going backwards on my list. so recently i have been playing, in my free time, age of empires iii which has been a nice relaxing distraction at nights to just start building and conquering. i have also been enhancing my brain with countless sudoku games.

i have started watching bbc's human planet series and have only watch the first two episodes and i have a few things to say about this series: 1) it has been difficult for me to get my brain around the fact that it is about people since as people, we relate the most with other people so seeing a series about people instead of nature or animals it's more of a personal connection. 2) going off of number one, it is weird to see these cultures all over the world wearing nike shirts, yankees hats, etc. just one of those things that i don't want to see, i want to see people wearing clothes that they traditionally wear or something non-american. 3) bbc is trying something new here in dealing with subtitles and i applaud their new direction but there are a couple parts that i don't enjoy about it when certain texts pulse out towards you to emphasize but i really enjoy the placements of them, more on the eye line than at the bottom of the screen.

I recently watched Have Heart's final show as a band on youtube which it is a 7 part video show and it is amazing! if you love hardcore music and you haven't heard of Have Heart, please please please check them out, they are great. I sadly never got to see them perform so this was quite the treat for me and it is made really well with good camera shots (even though the shots get a little repetitive at times but it's a hardcore show) and pretty decent audio. Just seeing and hearing the band play with smiles and talk about some of their songs and beliefs are awesome! it gave me goosebumps. *WARNING* may contain adult language.

when i finish twin peaks i will do a write up on it but i am close to finishing it. having my new laptop i am able to now watch movies so the movies on deck will be watched soon and talked about.

as for music, i want to highlight just a couple. fleet foxes came out with a great album and ep and i have been really hesitant about their new album but their release of "helplessness blues" has reconfirmed to me how talented and wonderful they are with the gift of music. please take a listen on their facebook. i enjoy every soundtrack for wes anderson's movies and i finally got fantastic mr fox and yes i like it. the other new music i want to talk about is refused's "the shape of punk to come", i need to give it more of a listen but the title is very bold to say that this new album will change the shape of punk for the future is bold but spot on. they do a great job at taking punk hardcore to a new level. *warning* adult language. they know how to rock.

i want to talk more about shane claiborne's "jesus for president" which i just finished reading. this is my first book i have read by mr claiborne and i really enjoy his presentation with lots of pictures, clippings, Bible verses, quotes, and what-not. he goes through the first section to talk about the old testament and explain a lot of the stories and traditions so common people like myself can understand what and why the israelites were doing the things they were doing. put a lot of good things into perspective. this book basically was to remind christians that we aren't not trying to make the government like jesus, but we ourselves need to be like jesus and live out the commands and practices of christ.  my thoughts, after reading this, about pacifism and violence has changed drastically and i have been trying to put them into practice even with my competitive and aggressive personality. shane challenges us to be creative with our ways of rebelling against government or politics and to be involved not to just get in a thought process that nothing can be changed when we can help people who are hungry by giving them food, or people without clothes to clothe them. we need to get out mind out of the stagnant thinking that the government needs to be christian, granted it would be helpful but politics are a confusing, messy, and difficult place to participate in. christ wants us to be political! the book is broken up into sections and a section that i really enjoyed is entitled "when the empire got baptized", it goes all the way back to the early church and to the present. it shows just how messed up things get when politics and religion get mixed, granted in high school i learned that it was a great thing when constantine made christianity the official religion or when explorers came to the new world with "missionaries" using their "religion" to exploit people and their resources or use religion to start wars. christianity and christ's teachings call us to love one another and to turn the other cheek, looking back at history (and i use history loosely since we can even look back a few years) and see how we have declared wars in the name of God and christianity. it is truly sad. the last section is inspiring sharing stories of people who have and/or are living out the christian political imagination. we can start right now, in the town/cities we are in right now, with the jobs we have right now. we need to get creative. we need to keep following christ's example. we need to be active.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jonsi's new solo album

its been awhile as stained would say but i am posting this great player to listen to Jonsi's new album in full before it's released! it is pretty dang awesome. he is the front man for icelandic, sigur ros. give it a listen, you won't regret it. it is called "Go"