2009/12/26

A Mile Up in Heaven

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead - (2007)

Directed by Sidney Lumet

Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke,

Marisa Tomei, and Albert Finney


Sidney Lumet's crime drama is always on the verge of going somewhere before a flash back or flash forward interrupts. The effect of this is a subtle distraction that kept me ignorant of the film's heavy substance up until the end. With that said, the idea of knocking off your own parents' jewelry store to cure your dire straits should weigh impressionably enough but Lumet manages to downplay it for me. Its like listening to a song that has no verses just a repeating chorus and then, all of a sudden a grippingly epic bridge, after which the song ends.


The characters are each in good hands as the cast delivers, poignantly, a dark story about loyalty and desperation. I was a bit over anxious to see Albert Finney, who's full entrance is a bit delayed. This was not a problem since Philip Seymour Hoffman as a cocky jerk is always great to watch.


I admit I chuckled a few times, because I remember Sidney Lumet being described as an actor's director, not so much indulging in camera techniques and special effects. This is true, he doesn't but Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is the closest I've seen to a contradiction of that notion. Maybe it was accidental but there were a lot of nicely, seemingly, prepared camera shots. And not mentioning anything of the flashbacks/flashforwards, I was simply surprised that there was a soundtrack. Its pretty cool to see one of your favorite directors taking a fresh take on their craft and still pull through effectively.

2009/12/24

Readiness is All

Anonymous Love Letters to Athena

I'll hold you close. Its just you and I now, there is no world, we are enough for the universe; fully finding what it searched during its expansion and contraction. At the heart, body and brain of that point, I'll hold you. How tight? How long? Could we even notice or determine force, time, space when we become so close to each? Essentially entwined, defined into its seams, separation would be like removing hydrogen from an ocean and expecting water to remain.


Frame me with you

border me mine, woman most woman of all

look me there, eye me mine

if all we are then nothing is the goal

an erase, an elimination of one another

canceled and matched, nothing rising from us

the universe, a sheet that wraps only us within

frame me with you

pre-sent us ours, definition

completion, a known thing


No background, no mind, and thought has yet to catch up to action, as we stand there in the void fulfilled. You'll cast the one glance that can prove to me that I indeed have sight, I'll say the one word that finally proves you aren't deaf; and then, when I look at you and you speak to me, its two suns embracing into a black hole romance. Massive, central, and overwhelmingly insatiable. Queen of the half world, empress of the maiden council, and mother to the would-be elements that remember how well you fit in my arms.


I know I said I wouldn't write anymore, that this must end. Yet, I satisfy not, with a dim fading, a quiet exit with subtle shifts of tone and depth; shifts that disappear directly before the viewer, years before he even begins to notice. We have to explode, we have to crash in a frenzy and then release an energy stored within the tension and hostility we use as magnetic fields. I'll peel back the layers and it will be with Truth that you'll discern me, and I you. If only for a moment that I could fully have you in exchange for myself, in your possession, everything in its right place and nothing else having any matter whatsoever.


Universally yours,

Une Ammiratore

I'm Drowning...


Brothers - (2009) Directed by Jim Sheridan

Starring Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman


Today I saw Jim Sheridan's new film, Brothers. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire as brothers, with Natalie Portman as the latter's wife. Tobey's performance was pretty good, Jake and Natalie Portman were okay but nothing special. The soundtrack was corny and besides the climax when Tobey is scaring the hell out of you, there isn't much more in this film to take home. Katherine Bigelow's The Hurt Locker did far more for the topic of a soldier's psychosis and her play on tension, far more stimulating.


I understood Sheridan's split between Tobey and Jake's characters in the beginning after Tobey's character Sam is presumed dead. This division, was also one of mood, where it seemed one was actually watching two movies. On one hand you have a commercial, romantic drama about an army widow who manages to piece her life together and eventually find love with her husband's brother. Its sappy and all the more cringing to watch because of the music thats played along to these scenes. On the other hand, you have a commercial, action, contemporary war thriller about a hostage soldier and his survival and psychological breakdown. The only reason I absorbed the romantic drama was to feel the awkward mending of these two worlds when they finally converge. Such a payoff went short changed.


I do hope Maguire continues to deliver performances of note, like he has in Brothers. I might not be the only one who'll confess I'll be alright if he's not in Spider-Man 4.

You Have No Idea How This Works, Do You?

Persona - (1966) Directed by Ingmar Bergman

Starring Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann


Just as when I watched my first Godard, then my first Fellini, with Bergman its going to be a while before I can respond to what I saw.

Michael Clayton - (2007) Directed by Tony Gilroy

Starring George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Michael O'Keefe

Sydney Pollack, Tilda Swinton


I should've saw this in theatres. Love the pace and the art direction. Next time I watch the DVD I'm going to see it in black and white, even though the color looks really nice.

2009/12/13

First Scene Dissolve

Anonymous Love Letters to Athena

I'm so tired. My legs barely stand me and there is a hunger inside that echoes tumultuously, with tempest of most concrete vigor do I move about. Hatred is my propeller; my engine, a glowing heart erupting with magma and fumes of shame. The few times I saw you today (I try to see less and less), it was as if, my hatred were offered a compromise. As if noted by my palely apparent countenance, one of deprived honor and starved dignity, a pathetic hand was extended forward with a cupcake.


My sweet tooth and all its fallen graces!


Its an insult! One perfectly visible and recognized, yet how I long to reach for you; such a waist to not have.


I took a break and on a street, under a canopy, I stood. The rain was cold but the air warmer. I had space and my lungs went to work on the early night's dew. You walked out with a colleague, speaking. I wanted some water, it was raining all around me; I was the thirsty, drowning man. It took every bit of each lung to punch my chest forward; every wattage of street lights, to keep my eyes from parking on you.


You are all they have to offer me, and it is true that you are indeed a great offer; but I can't--it wears me out. My fake plastic love, do you understand? It wears me out. I need this hatred and these lungs to roar, snatch, claw, and tear at the winds that so eagerly wish to pass me by. I need my tension, my open eyes that sleep and cry very little but do only absorb, greedily, everything in its path.


Its with love that I must leave you, its with further hate that the action springs awake into motion.


Universally yours,

Une Ammiratore

Weekend's Playlist

Mutliplex Identities.

The Prize - (1963) Directed by Mark Robson

Starring Paul Newman, Edward G. Robinson, Elke Sommer


Paul Newman and Edward G. Robinson. It was a fun movie and Paul Newman really seemed to be enjoying himself but I wanted to see more of Edward G.

From Here to Eternity - (1953) Directed by Fred Zimmerman

Starring Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr,

Donna Reed


Not what I expected at all. I guess because of the famous beach kiss scene, I was under the impression that the entire story was to be lead by Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr. I was expected far more romance, in epic scales, and overly dramatic departures; I was expecting An Affair to Remember mixed with Casablanca. What I got in the stead of my imagined plot was a really good drama about identity, responsibility, and capability.


I couldn't get over that the film wasn't an epic love story until the bombing of pearl harbor. Being aware of the film's setting one would think I'd be obviously expecting the bombing of Pearl Harbor but it caught me off guard just as much as it did the soldiers in the film. Some really good action scenes.


The Wilby Conspiracy - (1975) Directed by Ralph Nelson

Starring Sidney Portier, Michael Caine, and Nicol Williamson


I had my doubts at the beginning but as the film progressed, it became better to watch. Its so interesting how violence in films changed in the seventies, it definitely became more about realism and pushing the boundaries of dismantled censorships. And, what is a 70s film without some sort of car chase scene? In this case a jeep chase.


The ending has its pay-off and so does Rutger Hauer's appearance, it almost makes up for the bad driving scene that takes place with a fake background in the first quarter of the film.


All of Me - (1984) Directed by Carl Reiner

Starring Steve Martin, Lili Tomlin, Victoria Tennant


Yes! This movie is awesome...Of course, I removed the color from my TV set. Lily Tomlin is so darling.

2009/12/11

December Heart Beats for Kylie Minogue




Let Me Know What You're Like

Anonymous Love Letters to Athena

Look there, among scatters of voices and roused audience, that by their volume and pace orbit like violent debris; a gauntlet for the cosmonaut's atmospheric departure, among this spinning tetris my queen in black speaks.


Like a death, you announce with vivid detail, words from which I am absent. I make from one end to another; beats of hearts like bullets firing through a spark, an angry, tiny spark that shoots a long way. Your body, like a continent, I the foreigner. From borders I climb and hide in the tresses of your most abandoned attentions, where no thought inhabits such barren lands. Like a thief I make for these edges and consult my stubborn friend, Humility, its with the softest caresses that she convinces me to stay while opening my back with her blade.


What do I wait for? Is it Opportunity and its grifter tricks that send parlors a-roar? Is it Amnesia, that darling little fairy of repair, who patches the wound in a band-aid, too much matching the complexion that one forgets to remove it, mistaking it later for skin.


She's a Deftones song, something like Moana, something especially like Moana. A last song, an empire desired invitation to. She so carves my heart, and the stage with all its actors and rustled anxieties, glows like trembling jellyfish in fields of gossamer bedding. The sparks of nerves, the same bullets but now firing information, sensational execution!


And Moana as she exits this stage in her creme colored winter coat, an indigo scarf noosed about her pretty neck, on an escalator my eyes say goodbye to the back of her head. Yet another day that has introduced me as, "coward".


Universally yours,

Une Ammiratore

2009/12/10

From Above: A View


For Displaying the Unknown:


if its neutral it can work. if you don't stand and say this is evidence that proves such and such. if you can present what you've seen and let the audience make their mind up on their own, without your influence. if the blank canvas can be the painting and each viewer, a participant who adds on it what they will. your job should thus be to open a window and say, "look! look, I saw this; please take a moment to look for yourself as I did." you won't demand a discussion or praise for your discovery (if it could even be considered a discovery). your only hope is to share that sense of the unexplained, even if only temporarily unexplained. to remember that still, there are much ordinary mysteries hidden in plain view where no one ever bothers to look anymore. at most a neutral agreement, an accordance that we, together as well as separate can certainly say, we're not one hundred percent sure of what's going on here.

2009/12/08

Arena is Spanish for Sand


Blood and Sand - (1941) Directed by Rouben Mamoulian

Starring Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Rita Hayworth, and

Alla Nazimova


I don't like hearing spanish spoken with an english accent, it immediately turns me off. Blood and Sand wasn't too bad about it but it had its moments. This was such a grand production, so epic and well shot that you can forgive the gringo "T" in "Garabato" or "Carmencita".


The story taking place among bull fighters made me think of what a good metaphor that is for Man's obsession with Power and Control. To dominate a beast, an angry animal with horns and stampeding excitement that could split life from you at any given moment; the thrill that must come from being a matador must feel like you've become the bull itself. Interesting that this is the same story of Icarus, over and over has this story been told through different settings and characters yet they all have the same fall downwards. Whether your bull is painting, music, business, or film, it seems that Man repeatedly flies too close to the sun as if he will be the special case spared by the heat that most certainly melts wax.


I really do wish this film was in spanish.


After finishing the film I had the urge to see Madonna's Take a Bow video in which Emilio Munoz (I always thought it Jim Caviezel) plays a famous Matador (which he is in real life) and she his neglected and abused lover. I never realized how much the video is suited for that song without any specific reference from the song to the video. Madonna's song makes one think of Hollywood celebrities.


This video did things, to and for me as a teenager. Needless to say Madonna in lingerie, writhing alone in bed was not the most innocent of images a teenager with a vivid imagination, and an army of developing hormones could be exposed to. I can't get the song out of my head now.


2009/12/07

Run Aweigh

Edge of the City - (1957) Directed by Martin Ritt

Starring John Cassavetes, Sidney Portier, and Jack Warden


Martin Ritt's first full feature film is a small story with big subjects, racism, labor, and military desertion. Shot in black and white and mostly on location, Edge of the City has a very gritty feel. There's a scene where Cassavetes is walking to an apartment building and on the sidewalk there are people, out and about with their business, a kid is bouncing a handball against a stoop; it looks so natural and real, more so than I'm used to seeing in the 50s. Also I enjoyed from where some of the shots were caught, a lot of time's the actors where on the other side of a gate or shot from farther away. I'm glad I saw this film because I've of Martin Ritt being mentioned as one of the "New York Directors" in addition to John Frankenheimer and Sidney lumet but I had never seen a Martin Ritt film that actually took place in New York.


As much as I enjoyed Edge of the City, I must add that I wasn't too crazy about the soundtrack, the jazz tracks were well chosen, but the other orchestra pieces seemed a bit over done, given the film, in my opinion, a layer of unintentional humor. This wasn't that major of an issue since the film held its own and that part of the soundtrack didn't appear too often but when it did I felt myself a bit aware of it.

Billy Liar - (1963) Directed by John Schlesinger

Starring Tom Courtney, Julie Christie

If Tom Courtney reminds you at all of Albert Finney in this film its because Courtney was Finney's understudy for the theatre production of Billy Liar. But that aside, Courtney gives a really great performance as the middle-class young man with a vivid imagination and less vivid practical sense for his ideas. He is a liar but only because his lies are a way of dressing up his mundane life among his contemporary Yorkshire. And although Billy means well and wants to leave for London to pursue his dream of becoming a script writer, he can't seem to build up the courage to actually sever himself from the town that grants his imagination its most use, escape.


This film was shot under the photographic direction of Denys Coop...who is proving to be one of my favorite cinematographers. This is evident within the first 3 minutes of the film.

2009/12/04

Must've Look Like I Was Dancing with the Wall

Anonymous Love Letters to Athena

When I saw you today, in your bright red peak coat, black skirt and black leggings I had to stop reading. I wouldn't be able to continue reading if I heard you speak and I couldn't stand reading if you stood near without saying a word. And you did speak, of course not to me but all the same, for me. When you left the room, I put my book away and I had no more use for being in a room without you.


Later on, when you're on my floor, I make my way up. I time it precisely so that while I'm on my way to my room you're on your way down. As we pass, you smile at me, possibly only because I'm staring. Its a quick, automatic smile; the kind you give to a sudden, familiar stranger when you catch their eye for a moment, unexpectedly. A smile already prepped at the border of the lips, rigged to go off for any mailman, doorman, police officer, and any other insignificant variable that deems harmless enough to spare a twitched curve of kindness.


I didn't see you for the rest of the night. Purposely I remained away. I thought to myself, how fulfilling a smile a can be, regardless of its motivation. Finally when I was ready to see you again, you were already gone. And I was like that fisherman who excitedly battles the waters because finally his bait got a hold of a bite, only to reel in a disappointed reality, my hook got caught onto a boot.


Universally yours,

Une Ammiratore

2009/12/03

Wooden Realities

A Real Boy? Really?

I was watching Pinocchio with my niece last night and noticed something peculiar about how Pinocchio becomes a real boy. At the end, after Lil' P mortally sacrifices himself to save the life of his "father", the jocular, mustachioed Gepetto; Lil' P was not only awarded with the return of life but he is transformed into a real boy. The Blue Fairy grants Pinocchio authenticity in response to his proving himself to be brave, honest, and unselfish. Hmmm. This caught me as a bit of a surprise. Sure Lil' P was brave and definitely unselfish but he never quite did prove himself to be honest.

A Boy Who Won't Be Good, Might Just as Well Be Made of Wood

The only time he was tested in matters of truthfulness, his nose famously marched forward, practically poking the Blue Fairy. Never again in the film did this facet of character come under examination or trial. True, I'll admit he never again lies in the film, but then again he never is given an opportunity to actually tell a truth, thus never proving that he can. At the sentimental reunion of Lil' P and Gepetto, inside Monstro the Whale, there is a point where Gepetto notes Pinocchio's donkey ears and tail. Gepetto asks his "son" for an explanation, as God would a naked Adam. But before Lil' P is given a chance to answer, Gepetto disregards its relevance as he's overjoyed at being reunited with his boy. "Nevermind," Gepetto instructs him. Would Pinocchio have had told the truth if not interrupted? Maybe yes, perhaps no. The little wooden boy's track record for learning a lesson doesn't help him much. In fact, after falling for Honest John's dupe the first time he no sooner hails a second dupe, almost as if he was asking for it. There is no reason why we mightn't assume that Pinocchio had not yet learned his lesson about lying when Gepetto asks about his ass-like features. Of course, we'll never know.


Since Pinocchio did not prove himself to be honest through action, is there another criteria by which the Blue Fairy has judged him so? Is there a logical adherence between her three conditions that governs, if two of the conditions are true then in fact, all three are true? If so, then this is never made clear. However, if Pinocchio has proved himself to be brave and unselfish, then that logical adherence would automatically include honesty and explain the Blue Fairy's decision.


Little Puppet Made of Pine, Awake. The Gift of Life is Thine

Being certain that there are cowardly, selfish individuals who, proudly, are honest; and brave, selfless individuals who are dishonest, I can only comment on how brash the Blue Fairy's reasoning can be if such a reasoning was at all instrumental to her decision. There is also the possibility that to a wooden boy, bravery and sacrifice are of different value than to a human being, and its just a matter of proving the capacity for two out of the three and gaining the third gradually. Let us not forget the Blue Fairy deals with magic, not science or logic. This leaves so much open in ambivalence.


However, viewed exclusively from her words and Pinocchio's actions, (magic aside) there is a carelessness in the Blue Fairy's final decision. I would argue she has been carrying that wand for either, too short or too long a time and has become compromised. To the benefit of the film and Pinocchio, she hastily judges Lil' P's case. I can only hope someone hastily judges mine.

Lonely Entanglements

Here is a lyric/poem collage, it contains parts of lyrics by Deftones, Lhasa, and Cage; excerpts from the film, Gilda, and a poem by Pablo Neruda. The two photos are by Grace-Kim's series of pictures entitled, Love Hotel.


I'm Her New Cool Meat


Stop I'm drunk


Got you where I want you

Got you where I want you


Luminous mind, bright Devil

of absolute clusterings, of the upright noon--:

here we are at last, alone...


Stop I'm drunk

without loneliness,

far from the savage city's delirium.


But hate can be a very exciting emotion. Very exciting. Haven't you ever noticed that?...There is heat in it, that one can feel. Didn't you feel it tonight?...I did. It warmed me. Hate is the only thing that has ever warmed me.


Just as a pure line describes a dove's curve,

as the fire honors and nourishes peace,

so you and I made this heavenly outcome.

The mind and love live naked in this house.


Now my jaw and my teeth hurt. I'm choking from gnawing on the ball. And just before I come to move to the back of the car she makes me touch the machine. New murderer.


Lovely Lady Spider loves you best

Begs you to come live in her own nest

Feed you clothes you gives her heart to you


Just as pure...fire...nourishes peace...

Hate is the only thing that has ever warmed me.


Stop I'm drunk


Got you where I want you


Its like the sky opened and God handed you directly to me!


Furious dreams, rivers of bitter certainty,

decisions harder than the dreams of a hammer

flowed into the lovers' double cup,

Lonely Spider waiting in her web

Hoping she can catch some happiness

Then who should stumble into here but you


First untie me (Stop! I'm drunk) untie me for now. You said you would, right? And you were right (stop I'm drunk!)


Got you where I want you

Soon I'll let you go


Got you where I want you

Soon I'll let you go


until those twins were lifted into balance

on a scale: the mind and love, like two wings.

--So this transparency was built


Feeling like your heart is beating, its only for me!


Stop I'm drunk

Gilda Spins a Web

My Monthly Aresian Horoscope

March 21 - April 19


You will see a spider and you will recognize a fellow artist, and abstract designer, pattern-maker who creates elaborate, tenuous pieces whose sole function is in fact a practical one, nutrition. For this spider, like many others, spins its web to catch its meal; its meal is that which in turn keeps the spider from a morte fame.


Like many other Aries you do not kill spiders and have a very special appreciation for this insect that mainly feeds on other insects. You sit yourself seated and follow as the spider seemingly descends, suspended in air. You listen as the spider begins to sing you a song, its one you as an Aries have always known.


2009/12/02

Spiders and What they Spin


I was watching Charlotte's Web with my niece last night. Or so the evening began, because as usually is the case, halfway through the film my two year old niece wanders off and I am left fully immersed, entangled as one rightfully should in Charlotte's Web.


I remember the story from third grade, Ms. Smith read it to us, or we read it with her. After the book we watched the movie. I don't think I've set eyes on either the book or the movie since. In the way that first impressions from childhood carry over into adulthood, sometimes even covertly, I remember a few things about the story. Charlotte, Wilbur, the messages on the web, Charlotte's death, and Wilbur's prize; vaguely are these plot points available to me yet I still found myself surprised by my reintroduction to a childhood story that I'd be lying if I said I cared at all about.


Reviewing Charlotte's Web I realized on some level, especially to an adult viewer, this story is about mortality. I also realized how much I hate Wilbur who has so hard a time dealing with that mortality. Not only does he fear dying but he is also selfish and naive, but then again so are children. The fear of dying, of course is okay, since he's a pig who is raised to be killed; I kind of get that but Wilbur also has a problem with Charlotte's death and the death of even the insects that are caught on Charlotte's web, which Charlotte herself gains nourishment from.


Charlotte is amazing, Debbie Reynolds supplies her voice. The lonely spider who spins a web and is at the same time, friend and philosopher to Wilbur. On the best song in the movie, titled Mother Earth and Father Time, she states,


How very special are we

For just a moment to be

Part of life's eternal rhyme

How very special are we

To have on our family tree

Mother Earth and Father Time


That about sums it up for me. How infinitely random that we fit into such an everlasting indefinition, definitely. To be a part of the universe on such microcosmic terms and yet contribute so absolutely to its macrocosmic orchestration is as clear as any reason why life is worth living. Camus talks of absurdism and the futility of life and why its still an experience worth experiencing even if its end result is nothing. Camus also talks of happiness as a side effect of dueling it out with futility,


What matters to me is a certain quality of happiness. I can only find it in a certain struggle with its opposite--a stubborn and violent struggle...


And about the consciousness of happiness while admitting the absurd:


Just as there is a moment when the artist must stop, when the sculpture must be left as it is, the painting untouched--just as a determination not to know serves the maker more than all the resources of clairvoyance--so there must be a minimum of ignorance in order to perfect a life in happiness. Those who lack such a thing must set about acquiring it; unintelligence must be earned.


Spiders know better than we do. The best creation is life and even though it ends it still happens. While it happens is all that matters.

Bunny Lake is _______

Bunny Lake is Missing - (1965) Directed by Otto Preminger

Starring Laurence Olivier, Carol Lynley, Keir Dullea


Otto Preminger is the master of opening titles. Anatomy of a Murder, The Man with the Golden Arm, and now Bunny Lake is Missing; the opening credits to these films are executed so stylishly, Preminger's choices for soundtracks and design are really something else, they weren't ahead of their time (I won't settle for that cliche) No, Otto won't be simply judged as anachronism, he just made others notice how behind the times they were.


As good as the opening credits are, they are just that, the opening credits; and therefore only the beginning of this great film. Black and white never looked so good, unsteady cameras and long shots that kept you with unease while you attempt to resolve for yourself what's happening to the main character, Ann Lake, played by Carol Lynley. Preminger keeps giving you information, but its never enough to piece it together before the film does it for you, this is a good thing. I'd definitely plan on owning and viewing this film many more times.

There's something to be said about films in the 60s and the cameras that were available at that time, as well as cinemascope and color. Especially color, by the time this film was released, color films were finally at a place where it truly worked, this happened sometime in the 50s and it only improved. The manner in which this affected black and white films is both good and bad. On one hand, the cameras and cinemascope format made for such a beautiful black and white image on screen, in the hands of a good director and cinematographer (in thos case Denys Coop), this was such a treasure to the viewer. Orson Welles, I think once said, that a beautiful could not be made in color. I partially agree, I believe they could definitely be made now or even as early as the late 70s but in the 50s and 60s, this was the height of the power of black and white films. Proof of this, for me, is found in the fact that if you shoot a black and white film today it would still look as if it were filmed in the 50s or 60s. I could be wrong...


I'm no director or film buff.


I'm just a jerk with two eyes and an ego.

She Makes Me Touch the Machine

The Lady from Shanghai - (1948) Directed by Orson Welles

Starring Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles


Not too crazy about the story, even though it does get better as the plot thickens. Welles still manages an interesting film through his direction.

2009/12/01

The Death Dance

Welcome my dear to the last 31 days of the year. The first ten years of the 21st century are now coming to a close. Celebrate my dear, because we'll never see the close of the first decade of another century, or rarer still, another millennium again.

A Happy Death


I'm Going In

by Lhasa De Sela

from the album Lhasa,

released Apr. 2009


When my lifetime had just ended

and my death had just begun

I told you I'd never leave you

but I knew this day would come


Give me blood for my blood wedding

I am ready to be born

I feel new as if this body

were the first I'd ever worn


I need straw for the straw fire

I need hard earth for the plow

Don't ask me to reconsider

I am ready to go now


I'm going in, I'm going in

This is how it starts

I can see in so far

but afterwards we always forget

who we are


I'm going in, I'm going in

I can stand the pain

and the blinding heat

'cause I won't remember you

the next time we meet


You'll be making the arrangements

you'll be trying to set me free

Not a moment for the meeting

I'll be busy as a bee


You'll be talking to me

but I just won't understand

I'll be falling by the wayside

you'll be holding out your hand


Don't you tempt me with perfection

I have other things to do

I didn't burrow this far in

just to come right back to you


I'm going in, I'm going in

I have never been so ugly

I have never been so slow

These prison walls get closer now

the further in I go


I'm going in, I'm going in

I like to see you from a distance

and just barely believe

and think that

even lost and blind

I still invented love


I'm going in, I'm going in

I'm going in

2009/11/30

There Will Be Love

Anonymous Love Letters to Athena

Day by day, you are that thought which has been spanning throughout my mind. Yes, darling to me you are like an imperialist, who's power and ambition recognizes not any limits or boundaries. The thought of you in my mind, steals land, kills or cheats landlords, marries memories and all their fortunes; yes dear, the thought of you in my mind is doing quite well for itself.


Today -

I pass you by and pretend to not notice you, betraying my every instinct to stand directly before you and into your eyes, stare until sight or its focus, expires from me. In your department with your girls, your voice heard here then there, how it travels and so faithfully is it, how I follow. Its perfume to the ears, and then when coursed with a visual accompaniment, it becomes flavor to the eyes--an aromatic, gourmet cuisine. As fine as you are yet you starve me, or more so to the point, I starve myself from you. I chase myself away, the perfume I treat as a stench and the flavor, like an acrid taste, which I then dry heave with perfect disgust.


Am I like the beggar who pretends the banquet is nothing more than a culinary compilation of vile slop, simply because he isn't invited to any access of it?


O love of mine-not-yet-mine, if only that you could see through the facade; perhaps I reveal as much, when distanced from my countenance. Know that my disgust is the darkness from which I invite light to evolve. I want to hate you, despise and detest you so that I may savor every subtle dissolution that transforms, slowly, that enmity into love. Experiencing every atom of love that gradually collects until a planet results, and hatred becomes an atmosphere that shields that love and all of Life within it.


To you, all this love and further, all its future.


Universally yours,

Une Ammiratore

2009/11/29

A Handbag!

The Importance of Being Earnest - (1952) Directed by Anthony Asquith

Starring Michael Redgrave, Michael Denison, Edith Evans

Me, sir! What has it to do with me? You can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing our only daughter - a girl brought up with the utmost care - to marry into a cloak-room, and form an alliance with a parcel? Good morning, Mr. Worthing!


This movie is so good. Hilarious! Edith Evans can say any line as Lady Bracknell and I'm guaranteed to be in stitches.

USSR: Thats Short for Russia

One, Two, Three - (1961) Directed by Billy Wilder

Starring James Cagney, Horst Buchholz, Pamela Tiffin


Billy Wilder delivers once again, this time in a comedy starring James Cagney as Coca-Cola's main man in West Berlin. Constantly tugging at Cold War sensitivities yet mindful enough to not make it the center focus of the film, One, Two, Three is a good comedy brought to the screen by a master director.

The pace of the film is fast and matched admirably by James Cagney in the role of C.R. MacNamara, the fast talking, multi-tasking, schemer who represents not only Coca-Cola but Capitalist US of A. MacNamara manipulates, cheats, and lies throughout most of the film but is still as charismatic as ever.


Horst Buchholz was animated and indignantly exasperated every chance he could get, he's so good at that and I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the performance. As Otto Piffl, the idealist youth who's caught between communist and capitalist and is coming to terms with what both competing social ideologies' practical definitions are, Horst is primal, energetic, and distrusting; much representing of the world that either of the mentioned ideologies seek to conquer. The gags do not unfold as they would in a slap stick comedy but the script is full of jabs and quick punches to both capitalism and communism.

Lilo Pulver as Cagney's secretary-sometimes-mistress seals the deal for me. Her table striptease to Aram Khachaturian's Sabre Dance has just made it to my list of best uses for that musical piece in a film.

When Three Beans are Worth Three Cows

Villain man never ran with crills in his hand

and won't stop rocking 'til he clocked in a gazzillion grand


Such goes the best hip-hop song of the year; such goes what happens when two of my favorite artists from seemingly different genres collaborate. When I first heard Gazzillion Ear by Doom as remixed by Thom Yorke of Radiohead, it was the first time in a long stretch that I was genuinely jealous of another artist. What Yorke produced for Villain was new and dark, it seduced and left room for seduction. That is, it held its own but only when you hear Doom's baritone drunk flow over it do you realize that the beat was indeed missing something. That something was the mind of "a real weirdo with a bugged rare flow and the way his hair grow--ugly as a scarecrow," as Doom himself offers as a self-portrait.


The Man in the Iron Mask

The way Doom rhymes should not be possible. There is some law being defied in this performance. His words just dribble out and yet it isn't drivel, if he has a speech impediment it doesn't impair his articulation, which it should by definition. Even when on a song like Gazzillion Ear remix, where Doom is delivering a moderately fast paced flow, its through such an ironic voice that he, pardon the cliche, makes it sound so easy. Its as if he's possessed, or as if its the most natural and possibly most inconvenient thing in the world to rhyme. He sounds sinister, yes but he also, does he not, sound bored and unimpressed. Doom's flow practically looks you right in your astonished eyes and asks, "is this suppose to be difficult?"


Don't look now, keep walking

traded three beans for this cow, cheap talking


The Kid with Treefingers


Thom Yorke creates for Doom, a dark, eerie ghost of a beat. The high hats are angry, like the teeth on a typewriter biting letters onto aluminum foil; they were the first thing I noticed in the song right before Doom starts spitting. A good portion into Doom's marathon of self-assured verbiage, Thom adds hummed harmonies that float and billow out, fog-like, covering the track in an ambivalent mist.


Alone, that is, sans Doom's vocals, Gazzillion Ear remix could have easily been mistaken for a b-side to Yorke's Eraser compositions. Snuggled warmly up against A Rat's Nest and Jetstream; button drums that minimally pop, wailing phantasms, and dark tones, each collectively inspiring an apprehension or paranoia.


One man's waste is another man's soap

Son's fan based on a brother man's dope

Essentially just a song about success and not having to compromise as a condition to notoriety. But Doom makes use of of a wide variety of references from wrestler, Jake the Snake to the recent, Hadron Particle Collider, in a four verse remix that has no hook or chorus and yet maintains within it, a sense of urgency throughout Doom's approximate 96 bars; and Yorke marvelously keeps the beat simple with subtle changes and shifts that conjure some sort of LSD journey while the Villain layers his lines like tetris blocks. Mind you, he's not impressed.

2009/11/27

To Not Know so We May Know

On the Occasion Where We May Exchange True Words


For the way you smile and the way your voice sounds in my mind, I'll hope for the day when we no longer see one another so that by chance, one day we'll have a casual reintroduction. On a day when we have no occasion to think about one another; on a setting foreign to the association of either you to me or I to you. Taking a second to even recognize our faces, and then scurrying into the archives of our memories for each other's names that do not arrive immediately to the grasp of our tongues.


You'll smile and your dark, wide eyes will hold me in place for a second. We'll talk when we remember who we are; we'll talk as if we were more than just a brevity of familiarity, as if we were friends. You'll tell me what's new in your life, even though its all new to me, since I never knew anything personal about you. Likewise, you'll listen and update my profile as I anchor the news. We'll see one another out of context and as a result, for the first time. Its as if it was only through costumes at a ball that we experienced one another, until finally an opportunity has randomly placed us side by side without our masks; and the surprise of what lies beneath somewhat interests us both.

2009/11/25

Fear, Shame, Embarrassment, and How They Cut

I once knew this girl who stole a blade from me. It wasn't exactly stolen, more like it was taken away without a presented incentive for me to attempt a rescue. She was older than I, taller and stronger, probably not smarter but that didn't help me much.


It was a summer in the late 80s or early 90s and I was in the Dominican Republic. Los Alcarrizos, thats where my aunt-godmother lives; thats where I ran across a field behind the houses with the other kids and embarrassingly stepped into a pool of mud, just as the kids imagined a New Yorker would. It was right where my brother and I competed for smiles from Josie; where my cousin Yuri constantly tried to kiss me, but failed. So many of my visits to the Dominican Republic are forever committed to Los Alcarrizos, low concrete layers of houses, dirt roads and steep hills, random fields, avocado trees, and the smell of wet tangerines after a fresh rain. It was also here, in Los Alcarrizos, that after one of those fresh summer rains, a shaving blade that I had been entertaining since the morning was removed and taken hostage.


I don't remember her name but she was the neighbor's daughter. She was the older sister of this annoying kid, who was around my age, who I had just pushed off my aunt's property, off a platform, down to his front dirt (there was no lawn). I pushed her brother a few days prior to her stealing my blade. I only pushed her brother because he kept asking for it, literally.


"If you're such a bad ass from New York then prove it...Push me off this ledge. Go 'head, push me."


Translated from spanish of course. After a long, monotone looping of his request, I became bored or irritated and I complied with his order, he thanked me by crying and maybe hurting his arm. When he called his mother I made a break for it. Not that anyone would believe his story, even if it were true; I was considered an angel.


His older sister, however, she saw right through me. She was about thirteen or fourteen and politely asked to see my blade as I stood outside my aunt-godmother's house. She let me have it in the open, very straightforward did she smile and tell me what she thought of me, that she knew I pushed her little brother. I was barely paying attention, I just wanted my blade back and made a face to reply to the smell that followed her like a disciple. After she wrapped up her veritable accusations, I asked for the return of my blade. She must have misunderstood, because instead of placing the blade back on my palm which I held extended, she did something quite contrary. One would wonder if my spanish was indeed that awful, that cock-eyed as to have someone confuse, "give me back my blade," for "shove my blade down your pants."


I stood before this older, taller, stronger girl and pouted my entire face with annoyance. "Is she serious?" I must've said with my eyes. All the while that disciple of hers warmed like an aura around her, like an atmosphere. I almost had to hold my breath but my anger usually demands air through flared nostrils. I asked her once again to return my blade, release the hostage, let's walk away from this peacefully. She replied with an invitation, said that if I wanted the blade so bad I'd have to reach in and pull it back out.


Now, don't get me wrong, she was dirty. She looked like a dark, wet alley cat. Nothing like Josie or her older sister, who wore long skirts and smiled like a piece of something sweet. There was nothing sweet about this kidnapper, this terrorist pervert and that sour smell which perfumed her like a bad frame. Nothing sweet about her smile or her husky voice, yet when it came down to whether or not I would reach into her crotch for my blade, none of this made an impression on my decision. I blushed at the idea and in the end, I didn't get my blade back but not due to disgust, rather because of fear.


Soon after, I left with my family to another town to visit some other relatives, my cousin, Yuri probably came with us. I never saw that girl again, neither on that trip or any future return. She ran off with something I was scared to do, something sharp and intimately fresh. As a result, there is a possession of mine wandering along the past, snuggled soundly in the crotch of a teenage alley cat; and when I see an older dominican woman, who is questionable in character, I think only of my blade and its rightful, manual owner.