- when i saw tree of life—upon the first time, then moreso the second—my biggest, clearest impression was that terrence malick is probably not a movie person. (i thought back to “i’d always liked movies in a kind of naive way. they seemed no less improbable a career than anything else.”) what i mean by “not a movie person” is that i get the sense malick doesn’t spend a lot of time watching or thinking about other people’s movies; doesn’t consider how his films related to the broader cinematic landscape—in short, is not much concerned with the medium other than as a vessel for his vision. (mind, there is some evidence to the contrary.) it does not feel to me that malick’s ideas come to him framed in filmic terms. i’ve always imagined the long waits between films are for the painstaking process of trying to translate them into film. (tree, i thought, still didn’t quite make it in that regard; felt like maybe eventually malick had just decided that he had got it as good as he was able and hoped people would be able to feel out the spaces.) perhaps the unusually short span between tree and to the wonder explains some of the latter’s issues. “there was no script that was used during filming…malick would give the actors pages of thoughts and independent lines every morning…” which is pretty much exactly how it felt to me. i’m sure there are some big ideas in there somewhere, probably ideas that malick poured a great deal of time and energy into—but it’s so sparse and drifty and opaque that they’re not being communicated.
- malick movies have never been about the actors, quite—there have been great performances, certainly, but they’ve always seemed to aim more at serving malick’s vision articulately than making their own mark—but in to the wonder they’re reduced almost to placeholders. kurylenko had potential but is hobbled somewhat by her clunky voiceovers, and also it gets a little tiring how she seems to be trying to mimic the movements of malick’s camera, constantly leaping and running and twirling. for how much affleck is given to do his role really could have been played by anybody without detriment to the film. had little feeling either way w/r/t mcadams; she seemed too hemmed in to do much anyway. (it’s not that actors can’t shine in roles with little dialogue, but i feel like they’re kind of locked out here, as such large portions of their screen time is devoted to walking or frolicking or looking thoughtful and then the voice-overs seem devoid of individual voice—they only sound like terrence malick voice-over dialogue.) can’t comment on bardem because by that point the movie had largely lost my attention. it did seem that his story was an oddly disconnected tangent.
have been spending some time with a bunch of old no limit stuff lately, especially kane & abel’s first two albums. kane & abel (i think kane is the better one? i wouldn’t be able to say who’s who other than when they say their names) are a bit more polished (internal rhymes, assonances n shit like that) than is usually expected of no limit dudes, particularly on their first album, the 7 sins—which also has some fucking awesome beats, courtesy as usual of beats by the pound. “god and gunz” (above) rolls slow and heavy (and nothing like a well-placed clap to make shit really knock), and i get hype every time when the synths come up for mia on the chorus on “jealous again”—sounds like someone just turned on the lightshow on the stage. speaking of mia, she also fucking kills it on “basement session”: “pop goes the nine millimeters beretta leavin you wetter than april showers followed by your second line in flowers,” “my flow so grand it make the beats say damn / shit jumps back makes you wanna holler / but I sees nothing but dollars / feminist power”. actually, not to slight the twins themselves, but most of my favorite moments on the kane & abel records come from features: big ed’s call-and-response opening and mac’s flurry (“flip em like burger king workers be flippin burgers”), both on “let’s go get em”; any of the soulja slim spots on am i my brother’s keeper.
“Hire” 12”x2”, oil on panel, 2012
i forget now how i found this; browsing amazon mp3, i think. anyway, i kinda really like it. really dig the switch from that chunky staircase-y verse riff to the more fluid chorus with its swoon of ‘verbed, multi-tracked “ooooh”s. this was released in 2009 but i think i would’ve put it earlier, if i had been to guess—somewhere between ‘01 and ‘04 maybe? (not sure why.) she used to play guitar for ash, several of whose albums i downloaded a month or so ago ago and have only thus far listened to a little bit of (i like this one, though).
i ate from work yesterday, for the first time since i started there. i had a baconator with no ketchup, no mayo, no cheese slices and instead blue cheese and guacamole. it was really good.
i actually don’t know that i’m going to be able to finish “melanctha”. aside from how i find it gross how stein seems to be using some half-baked caricatural notion of black vernacular to prop up her experimentation, it just wears me the fuck out to read; characters referring to each other by name like five times in a single sentence, a hundred million sentences starting with “i certainly am” or “always now” in a row. i think sometimes that she was aiming for some kind of a, i guess hypnotic?? effect but it just feels like one trick being stretched way too far. there might be interesting things going on with the characters underneath it, but it’s so hard to keep my brain from glazing over long enough to get to it.
i tried tea in earnest for i think the first time the other day. my whole family save me and a cousin are faithful daily tea-drinkers; i drink coffee mostly daily, although it’s never really got its hooks in me—sometimes i forget about it for a day, and i don’t really suffer for it. anyhow, tea is pretty good. the next day i got an earl gray at mcdonald’s after work and that was good too. slightly related: i think i like burger king’s coffee slightly more than mcdonald’s’s. i don’t think bk has free refills though, so it doesn’t end up with an upper hand really after all.
a few minutes ago i was dozing off on the couch and in a flicker of half-awake moth-eaten by dream thought mixtapes and burgers blurred together in my mind and i think i was somehow imagining drought 3 as a burger. i wish i could articulate this better and also that it was real.
this is from the first issue of punisher 2099. the next lines are “what is today’s date?” “punishment day!”
sometimes i hear people going on about openness as this great, crucial thing (“for a successful relationship you need openness”, etc.) and sometimes i find it kinda gross. i mean, there’s a point there, keeping everything in to a certain degree or in certain ways probably isn’t healthy, but often i get a sense they’re sort of trying to conflate privacy with secrecy,dishonesty—or they make relationships sound like some sort of contract where you sign on full disclosure of all your thoughts and experiences. fuck that. nobody has a right to yr shit if it doesn’t pretty directly pertain to them, and i tend to think anyone who felt particularly wronged by a friend/partner/whatever keeping some shit to themselves would have to be some kind of possessive or controlling or something. i mean openness is cool, i guess i’d say it’s a trait i like i people, but i don’t think it’s a virtue or anything. (today at work i was thinking about that dan harmon article i read a while ago: he sounds very, very open—genuinely unusually so—but he still sounds like kind of a weird asshole, and being open about that doesn’t diminish it.) there are people who i feel i know better than people who i may know more about and that’s fine. different strokes, etc. (this is a thing, right? this “openness” talk? i’m not just getting mad at something i imagined remembering?)
May 2: 10-4; WeLearn computer training course
May 3: 10-4 (-30min break, ~1:00); bacon / side sandwich
May 4: 10:30-4; bacon->front sandwich
- Self Help by Lorrie Moore:
COMMENTS: Quite liked it; although if I had less so the bag of tricks (second-person and stylistic tics (“…like (x), like (y), like (z); it was like z”)) would’ve probably grated on me. It struck me while reading that a lot of the writers I enjoy the most are women. I don’t know if that’s significant in any way. A lot of dude writers get on my nerves.
- some of Three Lives by Gertrude Stein
COMMENTS: I liked “The Good Anna”; the observation about balance of power in friendships. The back cover says something about Picasso inspiring the syntactical repetitions in “Melanctha” (I’m about halfway through) but I get the sense part of it is also some kind of dialogic blackface (i.e. the constant “I certainly do…”s). It makes for a rather tiring read, anyhow.
Acid Rap by Chance The Rapper
COMMENTS: Chance is very very talented but doesn’t quite know what to do with it yet; he’s getting drunk off the potential and spilling it everywhere and that’s what makes Acid Rap so fun. Brandon Soderberg nailed it: “Such an off-the-rails flow creates the sense that at any moment, a verse — or a full song, or the entire record — could crash and burn and overdose on audacity.” It’s not really a great album (i’m saying album because it seems to me clearly to be trying for the albumier end of mixtape) but there’s so much to love about it. He obviously really wants to impress you, but then he’s so good that he totally does and then some. My friend pointed out “rapper song singer suspended subpoena for misdemeanors dreamer held back low key still a seenyrrr” as a particularly great bit, and I still smile big every time i hear “even my haters kinda glad i’m on”. None of the name guest spots save Twista do anything for me but Vic Mensa and Noname Gypsy are great; “practice backflip tragic actress” stuck in my head for days.
i’m tired of lives-intertwined-by-chance stories and i’m tried of dads-&-lack-thereof angst and this movie lays both on pretty thick so we’re off to a bad start already. cianfrance is so hung up on biological dads that mothers—even (apparently kind, committed, lifelong) adoptive dads—count for pretty much nothing. cianfrance seems to disapprove when the asshole cops crack on jennifer, but he hardly treats her with much more respect himself: she gets to act concerned then promptly get brushed off or told to shut up, and is given only a cameo in the third act to show us that, without a dad, she’s been incapable of saving her son from drugs & ruffianism. romina, beleaguered throughout, is thanked by her son with a photograph in the mail to remind her of the man whose fuckups she’d worked so hard to build a solid life in the wake of. i get the sense we’re supposed to like or at least feel bad for luke, even though he’s an asshole; perhaps because of his shy mumbles and that little half smile he does—so, in other words, because ryan gosling is playing him. gosling is on cruise control, basically mix-&-matching his drive & blue valentine characters (mysterious, criminal, amazing driver + deadbeat dad but kinda charming) then wrapping it up in a new look (wanted to rip the fucking inside-out shirts off his back).
and it’s fucking 2 hours and 20 minutes long and broken into three stories and i was waiting all along for it to come together somehow, and when it does of course it’s in the most trite, convenient ways. portentous coincidence, sins of the fathers, past violence coming back to haunt, etc etc etc, and then the photo in the wallet, and that last scene, feel like some movie of the week shit. the circle is complete, and……this is what i sat through all this for?!
the way in which i’m not sure quite what spring breakers is trying to do with the iconographies it’s playing with reminds me of the way the same happens to me w/r/t raymond pettibon’s work.
getting really into this album. have been listening to this and “miserabilia” over and over for like two days now. shallow listen notes:
- not that i’ve spent a long time w/either, but this seems like a really big jump from hold on now… sounds like what happens when hold on now…’s cleverness totally ruptures.
- there’s something scrappy in there that reminds me of (my limited listenings of) boyracer.
- it’s funny, i find this album sounds more like a dave newfeld production than hold on now…; similar messy/on the verge of collapse feel, something of a similar shout-it-out emotionalism—although, of course, entangled with this self-consciousness/-loathing. cf. “you gotta shout something out you’d never tell nobody”, maybe??
as stated intended, got fucked up tuesday (a colt, a bowl), saw jurassic park 3d (had never seen before; enjoyed it a bunch, liked the wonder better than the terror—favorite scene was laura dern first seeing the triceratops), went back to the basement and got more fucked up (another colt, more bowls) and then my memory of how the night wound out crumbles from hazy to nonexistent.
consequently, was very hungover wednesday (my friend, who i’d planned to meet before, was (as ever) super nice and patient as i groaned and grumbled about how much my head hurt and how i wished i didn’t have to be alive) but in the evening had a good meal w/lots of water (and there was like a dozen lemon and lime slices in the pitcher so the water had a really nice citrus tinge to it), got a haircut and gradually felt better.
thursday i did some yardwork at my grandmother & aunt’s place; raked rocks from the driveway out of the lawn, where they had been pushed along with the snow by plows during the winter. i worked for about 4 hours—not particularly strenuous work, mind, but after several months of laying about it felt like a substantial exertion. they paid me for it; i felt kind of guilty taking the money, but i don’t have a job right now so i didn’t quite have the strength to turn it down. (on that note: my friend is working at wendy’s now and seems to think i’d be able to get on there, which i probably would if i could. i’ll need to see what the schedule is for my spring courses (if i get into them, that is), and it’d be a hassle because mom has a thing about fast food jobs and, like, i know they’re shitty and aren’t going to do much on my resume, but they’re still jobs and they still pay and this is a job probably there for the taking vs. ???? soooo…)
today i had to go in to my old high school to pick up a transcript; felt old and lame and bitter, then realized the only person i’ve any right to harbor bitterness towards is myself. (well, and maybe my dad a little.)
elevator to hell - “not the least surprised”
“It was so emotional but that’s also where the dope smoking and stuff started going on,” White says of the period. “That’s also when Elevator [to Hell] was formed too, and around when I recorded “Parts 1-3.” When you’re just getting into pot and hash, all these ideas are just falling out of you; that’s when the inspiration is just crazy.”
fittingly, the first time i really “got” this album i was really really high, and i’ve loved it since then. that bit about ideas falling out of you—that’s what i love about it, mostly; every song sounds like its own little stylistic or sonic experiment, many of them quite weird, most of them somehow successful. this song sounds to me kind of like british folk and krautrock blurring together over the course of a few bowls. then that big yell, which feels like that scene in garden state if i didn’t hate basically everything about garden state.
this night last year—well, technically the 17th, but the night of today—i felt like everything was ending. (in a personal sense, I mean, not literally—although it still felt pretty apocalyptic to me.) this year, i’m not anywhere much better in a way you could map, and honestly i don’t know if i feel much better (less bad maybe, not to say more good) but my best friend is home from school and i’m going in to his place and we’re going to get fucked up and ring in the summer and hopefully this time around i won’t end up listening to “take care” over and over and sobbing into a pillow.
ikea factory mix-up shipped spiegelman’s Maus w/ my chair instead of assembly guide & buddy, its been hell dressing the animals with nothing to sit...
i want to be written and directed by quentin tarantino
this sounds like an absolute nightmare. nooooooooo thanks.