Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More music

This is astonishing. I usually buy a CD and listen to it for the next year, or years. That one album.

Since I've worked in a kitchen w/out a good radio, though, and put all my CDs in one of those travel books, I'm musically insatiable. The Juno soundtrack, infected me with Belle and Sebastian, leading to Dear Catastrophe Waitress and Sinister. I am also smitten with notion of "anti-folk." (Was any of the folky, girl-power 90s anti-folk?)

From a friend's Raising Sand (Allison Krauss and Robert Plant), I am on the brink of pursuing a 4th-grade music education by checking out some Led Zeppelin. I am full of musical ponderings! Did Robert Plant make rock ... "epic?" You mean, there was a time when epic wasn't a given? (Maybe! I hear he influenced some fave 80s rockers I lovingly consider kind of ...
mock epic.) And, on a side note, did Freddie Mercury launch the trend of melodious, almost-operatic gay-men-in-pop? Hm. These are the questions that drive me. These are the things that I must know.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I spend more shifts as "kitchen person" now at the restaurant, so upon the occasion of slicing my first ham (and not losing any fingers to the whirring blade), I would now like to recount the famous Taoist tale of the butcher (from my Idiot's Guide to Taoism, Toropov/Hansen).

"Cook Ting was slicing up an oxen for Lord Wenhui. At every push of his hand, every angle of his shoulder, every step with his foot, every bend of his knee-- zip! zoop! --he slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were dancing to Mulberry Grove or keeping time, as in Qingshou music.

"Ah, this is marvelous," said Lord Wenhui. "Imagine skill reaching such heights!"
Cook Ting laid down his knife and replied, "What I care about is a Tao that advances my skill. When first I began cutting up oxen, I could see nothing that was not ox. After three years, I never saw a whole ox. And now-- now I go at it by spirit and do not look with my eyes. Controlling knowledge has stopped, and my spirit wills the performance. I depend on the natural makeup, cut through the creases, guide through the fissures. I depend on things as they are. So I never touch the smallest ligament or tendon, much less bone.

"A good cook changes his knife once a year because he cuts. A mediocre cook changes his knife once a month because he hacks. I have had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I've cut up thousands of oxen with it. Yet the blade is as good as if it had just come from the grindstone."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Movies and Music

I hear domestic disputes are extremely dangerous for police officers, which sounds like it should be a surprise. I don’t think anything, however, pokes us to the core besides what’s “domestic.”
I think Tolkien foisted that nebulous hugeness on me via epic, and hoisted me by the scruff of my neck, like a dwarf would grab a hobbit, to hurl me to the apex of three thick books. And, it was just a story about friendship.
Well, I admire Juno because no one had to resort to the epic to make it amazing, and they kept the humor so true, it never lost its footing to stumble down into the depths of formula. It was only as ridiculous as a teenager. It was only exactly, precisely ridiculous as ... Juno.
I love that it was done so well on so many levels, and that someone realized a story like this was worth it. It’s a type of situation, I suspect, that’s touched just about all of us.

There Will Be Blood
The title is great! It’s its own little marketing campaign. People all over America are saying it over and over, alone in their cars, to their friends, in the voice of Daniel Day Lewis’s character. THERE WILL BE BLOOD. There WILL BE blood. There will be BLOOD.
The movie, for me, was such a powerful jolt of character. Even the music ... it had nothing to do with the plot. It was an absolute extension of DDL’s character. It was awesome. I felt danger, I felt a disregard of danger, I felt immediacy. It was strong and kind of bitter, (like oil? like blood?) all power and desire.
As far as Story goes, I’m an intensity junkie -- not so much as “please overwhelm me with visual stimuli” (though I did enjoy Moulin Rouge, and loved, loved, loved the circa 90s Romeo + Juliet), but just stuff that’s effective, in whatever way, and can reach through the clouds of ennui and grab me by the lapels and give me a good shaking.
Well, this did. And I’m no theater expert, but I loved watching DDL. And, though his charisma dwarfed every other actor in the film, even going mano a mano with Cute Child, it was no one man show. The pastor was FREAKAZOID. Put down that old lady’s arthritic hands! I pleaded silently with the screen. Please, please, please.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Powerful and disturbing. Mighty, mighty props. I’m still trying to process a reaction.
It was all “show,” and hardly no “tell,” so visually powerful. A relentless sense of feebility (the perfect word from a friend of mine). It should have made the “butterfly” more beautiful, but I’m so modern -- I’m so unattached to the ideas of suffering and dying. It’s a shock. A disturbing startle. I’m afraid we’re all this, and waste our time, don’t value each other, accept nothing less than Strength and, if you’re not Strong, get the heck out of my schema.

Paste Sampler 39
I am inordinately preoccupied by this selection.