Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Unoriginal Thought

I just came home from the craft store. Something there really surprised me. Many of the items for sale seemed to be creativity inhibitors rather than the pathways to creative expression that I expected to see. This wasn't my first time in a craft store but it was the first time that I realized that I was surrounded by the shallow and empty shells of unoriginal thought.

So many items in the craft store are sold with elaborate instructions that lead us to a predetermined end result. This process is no different than combining the components of a "some assembly required" item from a regular store. The final product is the creative child of another mind.

I'm not opposed to the idea of doing something that has already been done before. I work in a bakery and we make bread the same way every single day. There is a time and a place to do what is tried and proven. I also realize that (even [maybe especially] in the creative arts) a skeletal structure of proper theory and technique is needed in order to reach true expression. Creativity is not anarchy.

I guess that my complaint (if it is one) is that this craft store was selling a large number of products that did not lead to the use of creativity nor did they teach principles that would lead to the ability to do so.

There you go.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

my ghosts of christmas present

For some reason I have been reading the collected ghost stories of M.R. James.

Yes, I know that it is the Christmas season. I haven't forgotten or overlooked that. In fact, I feel more excited about the holidays than I normally am. I haven't been neglecting the spirit of Christmas and I have been carrying out all of my traditions and even founding some new ones. The excitement and majesty of the season fills my soul. I am, however and paradoxically, also feeling a fascination for the supernatural and scary.

M.R. James wrote ghost stories and he did so long before the advent of Hollywood style terror. Many of his stories are centered around the strange powers held in ancient texts and architecture. They are short, unsettling and inconclusive. He exposes his readers to a short series of bizarre events and then never really explains why they occurred. He gives enough hints to make the reader imagine a more complex and frightening back story than he could possibly create himself. I especially enjoyed "Cannon Alberic's Scrap-book" and "The Mezzotint".

Along those same lines -
"Daniel" by Bat for Lashes. I have always loved this song. It is atmospheric, eerie and danceable. It makes me feel like I am walking through a misty forest in the half-light. I recently watched the video for the first time and was terrified and intrigued by the black dancing balloon-animal people. They are really cool and weird. Also, I think that Natasha Khan is really pretty.

As an interesting side note; I guess that Daniel is the kid from Karate Kid. And.....wait for it..... you can change the color of the playback bar of youtube videos. Yes! I chose red.

Friday, December 17, 2010

take me over

Do you like to be happy? Do you like to dance? Do you like to laugh at yourself because you can't remember the last time you had so much fun?? Do you like Fleetwood Mac?
Cut Copy.

This song is from their new album "Zonoscope" which is due to arrive this February. It can't come fast enough.

Don't overlook the album art. I love it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Giving Tree

Spike Jonze just made a short film called "I'm Here". A great friend told me about it and I have watched it several times and absolutely love it. Spike Jonze has a way of making situations and gestures communicate more than words could. In his films a facial expression, movement of the hand, silent glance, etc. can mean more than an long and complicated conversation. Very few directors or artists are able to this so well.

I don't know how proficient I am at non-verbal communication. The more I think about it the more I think that I am terrible at it. It's a skill that I wish I had but that I don't know how to go about developing.

I recommend "I'm Here" to anyone and everyone. It is a love story about two robots and it is all about how love is the giving of one's self to another person. In the film this happens quite literally. It is both heartbreaking and hearthealing.

It reminds me of the Shel Silverstein classic "The Giving Tree". This has always been one of my favorite picture books. The Giving Tree gives of herself until she is reduced to nothing but a stump. Her love for the boy that she watched grow into a man is much stronger than any sense of loss or feeling of self-pity that she could have had.

In my mind, her great sacrifice seems to be undervalued by the boy. He loved her as a boy but as he grows he starts to love other things more than her. Her love was put to the test by his constant absence. He only came to see her when he needed something. Time and time again he showed up and took something from her that she gladly gave. True love is giving without expecting or even wanting anything in return. The happiness of the boy she loved was the Giving Tree's only concern and it meant more to her than her fruit,branches, or trunk. It meant more to her than her self.

In "I'm Here" Sheldon valued the one he loved more than his physical person. There is one scene in particular that is extremely powerful to me. Sheldon is offering to make a large sacrifice to help his girlfriend and she does not want to accept his help. He gives the simple details of a dream that he had and shows her that his happiness depends on her acceptance of his offering. I can't really express why it is so potent and incredible. It just is.

Watch "I'm Here". You won't regret it.

This is the official website but it is soooo slow that I can't watch it there. You can also find it on youtube.



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

tied for first

I have been browsing google image pictures of foxes for over an hour. I know that I should be doing other things but I really don't want to. This seems like the most important thing right now. The only problem is that about 75% of the pictures on google image searches for "fox" are gross pictures of gross Megan Fox. It helps to type 'fox animal'.

I really love foxes. If I were an animal I would be a fox. They have the perfect balance of soft beauty and toughness. Their spirit shines. They adapt to the seasons, changing their coats with the ease of my changing a shirt. They have grace and they fill me with wonder.

Foxes and giraffes are tied for first as my favorite animal.

oh, yeah, and Fantastic Mr. Fox is my favorite movie of all time.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hilli (at the top of the world)

Icelandic quartet Amiina borrowed the amazing vocal talents of Lee Hazlewood for this song. He died three weeks later. It was the last recording that he ever did. I can't think of a better parting gift that he could have left the world.

At the top of the world there's an island
A place where the sun never shines
But the people don't care because the snow over there
Is so bright, they nearly go blind

They live at the foot of a mountain
Where the flowers last hardly a day
But they live off the land and lend each other a hand
On this island where night is their day

They'd punish me if I dare tell you
And if I ask them, they'd say they don't know
But what keeps them healthy even though they are not wealthy
On this magical island, is snow

The flakes as they fall look like candy
And the children rush out when it snows, for a treat
When they open their mouths and gulp down the flakes
Because nothing on earth tastes so sweet

But then one dark day, smoke blew in their way
And the temperatures got higher
On the horizon they saw fire and the waters did rise
And the snow started melting away

And the people weren't tearful, nor fearful or scared
Because the secret was out there
At last, the secret was shared

They watched as the ice turned to water
And streamed down into the sea
And lit up the ocean and crept in slow-motion
Through the world they never did see

And people in lands around the planet were in shock
As the light came to shore and lit up the beaches
And even their teachers couldn't say what the bright light was for

It flowed upstream through the mountains
Burst out through their fountains
Breaking all life's natural laws
Till they lit up the planet and all who lived on it
Were touched by this magical force

And they looked all around at the sky and at the ground
And they realized what they had been seeing then
As they started to cry their tears filled the sky
And the black storm clouds gathered above

And then the heavens opened
And the rains came to show them
That their world needs a little more love

At the top of the world there's an island
A place where the sun never shines
But the people don't care because the snow over there
Is so bright, the sun's in their mind

Friday, December 3, 2010

Palace of Dreams

Ikea. I recently went there for the first time and I love it. It is a palace of dreams.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Go Live Already!!

I can't describe the way that I am feeling right now. I ordered the live DVD/CD of Jónsi's amazing concert "Go Live". It is one of the greatest works of art that I have encountered in my life. I have been watching it, re-watching it, listening to it with my eyes closed, remembering it, feeling it, ...

His concert was (and is still) powerful, magnificent, chilling, warming, touching, moving and alive. I saw him play live twice and on each occasion I found myself overwhelmed with emotions of every possible flavor. It felt like my soul was a dusty and lonely amphitheater that had been suddenly and unexpectedly filled with a colorful and lively crowd. The crowd coursed and flowed through the neglected structure like blood through veins, restoring its sparkle and giving it a newness of life.

Jónsi is a person who bares the very core his being to the world. People like this are rare and beautiful. It is a risky thing to do. When a person gives other people access to their soul they become vulnerable to attack and rejection. But they also open up the possibility of pure and unfiltered emotional and spiritual expression and connection to others.

I think that the soul is the essence of a person. Souls can mingle. They can dance.