April 29, 2010

Reasons why Parenthood is my favorite new show #1

While catering at a poetry reading, Sarah and Amber (her daughter) run across one of Sarah's exes, Jim Kazinsky.  He was previously a coffee barista, but is now a successful author and is, in fact, the guest speaker at the reading.  He stands up to read a poem titled "The Orchid".  As he progresses through the verse it becomes more and more apparent that it's not really about what they think it's about.

Sarah: This is about flowers, right?
Amber: ...I think it might be about your vag

April 27, 2010

An Assortment

So I've been reading A Room With a View.  Again.  And all I have to say is... will you take me to Italy?  Please?  Pretty please?  Florence, thanks.

And speaking of British things (inadvertently), I watched Lady Jane the other day.  What the hell happened to Cary Elwes?  The poor man did not age well.

I loved this.  Like beyond words.  Kristin Chenoweth was great on the show, but seriously.  Amber Riley.  My god.

I've recently begun to realize an obsession that I have for bookcases.  Like, when I get an apartment they will be everywhere.  Ideally, they'd be built-in, but I'm open.

I went rowing today and my arms hurt.  They will probably hurt more tomorrow.  Also my lips have been incredibly chapped for like a week.  And the palms of my hands and feet have been extra dry.  

I'm going to tutor a teenager tomorrow.  Like an athlete at Mater Dei.  In chemistry.  And english.  Pray for me.

April 20, 2010

Help Me! Help Me!

Normally I post music on here that interests me, but usually it's temporary.  Okay, that might be an exaggeration.  It always interests me, but I usually listen to it avidly for about 2 weeks and then move on.  Certain songs and albums pop up repeatedly, whether serendipitously or because I want to hear them, and that keeps these people on the brain.  However, when I hear new (i.e. post-initial-infatuation) music by these artists that I really really like, that's when they get put into a different category entirely.

I initially liked Lucy Schwartz because I thought this song was adorable.  I even decided not to be too hasty and I let her percolate for a while before making a decision.

I'm not gonna lie, these songs are still like crack to me.  I literally listened to her entire catalog (which, truthfully, isn't a ton) at least 5 times today.  And now I can add a new song to my list:

Sorry this video is so creepy.

April 19, 2010

Get it

"Deemed “too urban” by Jive Records, “Get It” was kicked off of Britney Spears’decade defining 2003 album In The Zone. Several low-quality leaks later, we have the full-quality version of “Get It”."

April 14, 2010

O. M. F. G.

I seriously cannot wait.  Seriously.

I'm just pissed at HBO for letting this one slide; now I have to figure out where I can watch it.

This happens in the morning sometimes



whyy did you tell me there was a sale at gap
that is so evil.
well you need the coupon
but its easy and i can give it to you if you want it
oh hey, 50% off in banana republic today
I hope you're happy
holy fuccckkk

April 12, 2010

Conversations with Other Women

If you'd never seen a film, but had read a film review, you'd never guess that it was describing a moving picture.  Subtlety, nuance, idiosyncrasy, faces, dialogue, action, reaction, shape, emotion.  Not a ton of that in the films that speak to us.  Or at least not in the films that I want to watch.  

Why do we watch them anyways?  Because the one thing that I'm missing from my life is a giant explosion?  Or two?  Probably not.  The chance to watch someone feel an emotion not unlike something that you may feel at any given time in your life.  Distant familiarity, maybe longing, maybe regret.  To experience what is happening to them, with them.  

In the film, the man says, "time really can't move in two directions."  But is that really true?

Roger Ebert said: "In our minds, and in our hearts, time is hardly linear or unidirectional. Visit your parents and you're instantly a child again, and if you all live long enough, time begins to curl back on itself and they become your children. Or run into a certain old girlfriend or boyfriend and you may enter a disconcerting time warp between then and now and some shared future you once envisioned, but that never came to pass."

There is a central struggle in the film, between the man and the woman, with each trying to get a grip on who they're with.  And in the process they begin to forget who they are themselves.  When you're with an old friend, do you feel your age?  You might, but don't you also feel that you're the age you were when you met them?  If I met you when I was 15 and we were having a conversation at 40, would you think of me as your 40-year-old friend, or as something else?  How would I think of you?  

"Is the 38-year-old you the same person as the 22-year-old you? Might the 22-year-old and the 38-year-old (and who knows how many others) exist simultaneously inside the same mind and body? And how well can you really know another person -- and for how long, given that people are always changing?" - Roger Ebert

It was not a love story, it was a conversation.  The poster lied, but that didn't matter because I didn't see the poster until after the movie.  

Things both were and weren't happening, because there both was and wasn't action.  It was almost transcendental in it's lack of commitment to plot, but that's how most of my favorite movies are.  I mean, what does it matter anyways, whether they end up together or not?  Will that affect me in some way after I've stopped watching the film?  It'll probably make me cynical if they do, so I actually prefer not to know.  

Happy Place

April 11, 2010

Criterion Collection poster. So simple, so powerful.

Joanna Newsom

So I had a Joanna Newsom album a while ago - this one, to be specific - and I honestly couldn't listen to it. I thought the instrumentals were interesting and that the overall sound was cool, but her voice, I just... couldn't do it.  

Luckily for me something changed and she's got a much more listenable timbre now, not quite as grating.  I actually really like this song and hope to get her new album and listen to the rest soon.  Sound a little like Frances Ruffelle to anyone else?  Just a smidge?  Maybe it's just me.  Or the fact that the sound of each of their voices seems to polarize people instantaneously.

April 5, 2010

Happy Place

2009 was full of cinematic surprises.  I loved a lot of indie films: The Brothers Bloom, (500) Days of Summer, The September Issue, and Bright Star were among my favorites. The Princess & The Frog, Up, and Up in the Air were also really good, and luckily weren't hoisted by their own advertising petards.  An Education, In The Loop, and Zombieland I loved as well, even though I didn't see them until 2010.

However.  The Young Victoria was my absolute favorite.  Totally and completely in a class by itself.  I don't really know that many people who've seen it, but those who have tend to agree with me.

It's a very tactile movie.  I think a lot of that is due to the costume designer (who coincidentally won the oscar) - she put them in the kinds of fabrics that they would've worn; some soft and flowy, some starchy, thick stuff.  You also hear the sounds of their heels tapping the floors as they walk, the smooth sound of their hands running along the banisters when they descend stairs, their gowns and coats ruffling as they glide through the open halls, the clinking of silverware at the table, the hiss of cushions when they sit.

The cinematography is gorgeous as well.  You're not viewing the room at a whole - it's not a play.  You're up there, close and personal, in their face.  You see every emotion, every thought, every flicker of surprise or anger or passion or sadness.  It's not about setting anything up, or even the script really.  It's about you and them and the moment in time that they occupy and what they do with it.  I was reminded of The Holy Moment even though I'm not sure that applies to period pieces.

More photos after the break.  Don't you just love his hair??

April 1, 2010

A brainwave, sort of.

Like most normal people, I sometimes think about, and agonizingly critique, 3-minute semi-enjoyable live performances that I've seen by random college vocal showcase artists.  For weeks after I've viewed said vocal showcase. 

Sometimes things just stick in your head and you feel the need, the compulsion to ask yourself certain important questions about the universe.  You're helpless against the universe.  

So, since these things happen often I'll give you a "for instance".  A month ago (two?) I went to see a vocal showcase, with my friend Sarah, that Casey was performing in.  After the show I could not get the performance of this one singer out of my head (I can't really remember her name... Renn?  Ren?  Rhenn?  Rhen?).  It was stuck like a broken record.

What started out as me judging her for singing a song that is pretty much un-coverable (in my mind, "why even try?") eventually turned into a mental dissertation of music in its entirety.  I'm not sure I can really type up all of my thoughts right now, they're still sort of jumbling around in my head, but a few major things have stuck out, mostly questions (rhetorical and non).  It's kind of all over the place, but try to stick with me because I think I have a point.  Maybe.

Okay, so, I've had the feeling for years that everyone is driven by compulsions of some sort or the other (not unlike the compulsions I feel from the universe to think about these things), and that possibly artists feel those compulsions more than the rest of the world.

Why do singers want to perform?  Is it because they just need to?  They have to, they couldn't stop even if they tried??  OR is that just what makes a singer great?  Having that itch that they have to scratch.  They don't even have to have a great voice, as long as they have the compulsion.  

Because I can sing (shower, car), but I don't think I'm really that great.  I don't have that itch.  I don't need to perform in front of people.  

Is it possible that (alternatively) a singer can have a beautiful voice and still sound as though they're missing something?  It's pretty, but they just can't keep your attention?

What is the compulsion about anyways?  

"I need you to hear my voice because it's incredible!!"  

I don't think so, or at least I'd like to think it's something more than that.  It's about emotions, right?  Expressing yourself, maybe finding a connection with someone else out there in the world who can say, "oh my god, I know exactly what you mean!!" when they hear you.  

"That feeling that I had that I couldn't put words to, you just expressed it."  

I think that about sums it up, right?  Opera, pop, jazz, folk, rock, metal. It applies to them all.

So, if it's about emotions, sharing the way that you feel with an audience, then what the heck is the point of singing a cover?  "And now Brittany will sing an oldie, but a goodie -"  Like anyone would want to hear my Dusty Springfield renditions.  Is it just like karaoke for the world? 

"Please listen to me sing a Whitney Houston cover, because I can do it just like her, only better."

I don't think so.  I really don't.  And I think that's where a lot of people don't get it.  It's not like the national anthem, where everyone who sings it tries to one-up each other.  You shouldn't do a cover because you think you can do it better.  Which is why when you do a cover you should not try to sound exactly like the original singer.  It's like trying to fail, especially if it's a song that people know, especially if the original singer is amazing.  The purpose of a cover is to try and discern a different meaning from the song, a different emotion, you're putting a different tone to the same lyrics.  Or at least that's the ultimate purpose of a cover.  At the very least, sound different, have a cool arrangement, something!

So back to Ren.  It turns out that there are some good covers of her chosen song, one of them by a jazz singer that I love, Dianne Reeves.  Notice the difference between the original and the cover?  Notice how Dianne Reeves is not trying to be Nina Simone incarnate?  

A little sampling, in case you still don't believe me.  I'll try to put them in chronological order so you can hear the progression:

Jo Stafford was one of Billie Holliday's favorite singers.  I can see why.

The Four Seasons.

Etta, of course.  She wasn't the original singer, but she's probably got the most famous cover.  

Before you laugh, and besides the creepy movie-within-a-movie thing, just hear me out.  It's Reba all the way, right?  It conjures up different images than the other covers, it sounds different, it has a different feeling, she's going for something else.

A cover by Beth Rowley, who I think did a good job of changing the song to meet her vocal restrictions, namely that she is not Etta James.  And it sounds like she's okay with that.

And just for fun, here are some famous (or little known) originals and their famous (or little known) counterparts:  

Dolly.  Gorgeous song, so sad and genuine.

Whitney.  Completely different, right?  

Dusty.  We had one of her albums when I was a kid and Danielle and my god Danielle and I loved listening to that thing.  I still can't explain it, except to say that it's great.

The White Stripes.

Ah, the sweet sounds of the Bee Gees.

The Bird & the Bee.  I actually heard the cover before the original, and I like that it's more intimate, but the original is good, too.  And I'm pretty sure that Sia is singing backup, just listen carefully at 1:50 and 2:50.

Ella.  I can imagine being at some fancy outdoor party, dancing and listening to a live big band.

Norah Jones.  Unlike Ella, this conjures up a completely different image.

The Beatles.  Teenagers, fun, going to sock hops, drinking soda pop.  Yeah.

As Roger Ebert put it, "When Prudence sings "I Want to Hold Your Hand," for example, I realized how wrong I was to ever think that was a happy song. It's not happy if it's a hand you are never, never, never going to hold. The love that dare not express its name turns in sadness to song."