Tuesday 30 December 2008

Melophobia: The Arcade Fire

Some people are afraid of clowns, heights, the dark, sharp objects (1). I, however, have a lingering grudge against, or persistent fear of, a Montreal-based baroque pop band. It may have something to do with a dream I had about drowning myself to their creepy-as-hell music. Maybe it's their bizarre-looking album covers that, for some reason, lead me to believe they are truly demons posing as musicians. Their album names bother me - "funeral", how depressing!, and "Neon Bible" - obvious blasphemy! Take a look at the picture above, and tell me that doesn't frighten the small, vulnerable child in you! Not even a spot on the soundtrack of my beloved Irish-American-Crime-Drama, The Black Donnellys (2), could redeem this group in my eyes.

However, most grudges are eventually dissolved. Today, as I was listening to Bright Eyes with my kickass new headphones, feeling all indie-rock and hipsteresque, I decided to give some "Patrick Music" - random indie/experimental/crazy stuff that Pat O'Halloran downloaded onto my computer eons ago - another try. Lately, as I read more into colleges I want to go to, I've come across several mentions of Patrick Bands, like Band of Horses, Sufjan Stevens, Bjork, Broken Social Scene (3), and, ahem, The Arcade Fire. (4) It seems that Patrick Music is actually College Music. Apparently, Patrick is the norm. Go figure.

This is all I'm going to say, as, while typing, I try to control my slightly-creeped out, shaking self. The Arcade Fire is not that bad. There is a chance that they are not, in fact, demonic. They might be human. Their music is, more or less, pleasing to the ear. As I listen to "Old Flame", I only slightly feel the tub water once again rising to cover my nostrils. During "Keep the Car Running", I may have even had a few quick moments of enjoyment. This may or may not be the beginning of a mediocre musical relationship.

1. My other, arguably, more realistic phobia. But that is another blog.
2. The Black Donnellys is probably my favorite show and it only lasted one outrageously violent and gory season. Damn you NBC!
3. For all you "Feist fans" who only know her from the iPod commercial, BSS was the band she was in before she was just Feist. And it's awesome.
4. Other notable Patrick Bands include The Shins (although I found them myself without Patrick's assistance), Wilco, Explosions in the Sky, Yo La Tengo, Chin up chin up, Spoon, and Deerhunter (i finally listened to them!).

Sunday 21 December 2008

This is bad. It really is.

I read Catcher in the Rye for several hours today.
I then sat down to write an essay for an Ithaca scholarship. The question: describe yourself.

This is what happened.
I'm rather frightened.

I've often been asked what I'm interested in. I usually respond with a few random interests: music, history, politics, literature. The truth is, I'm interested in almost everything. I really am. I love to learn. It sounds somewhat cliché, but it's true. You should see me in Latin class, you really should. Magistra Olsen will mention Spartacus, and I can't even focus until she's told the whole goddam story about him, about all the dead slaves hanging from trees on the highway, the whole goddam gruesome deal. Or in calculus, I hate calculus, but I get so into it. I hate it when people try to talk to me when I'm in the middle of a calculus problem. I mean, when I'm sitting there, working on a problem, I really hate when people try to butt in and talk to me. It's awful. I end up going off on them, like they were trying to distract me on purpose, when all they really wanted was a pencil or something. It just makes me feel so goddman awful when I do that. It really does.

Friday 19 December 2008

All Saints Day: They're Back!

It's the truth (veritas): ten years later, Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day is currently being filmed.

After pretty much the longest wait ever, the outcry for a sequel to this epic cult-classic is finally going to be answered. The entire original cast, with the exception of Willem Dafoe, is in, including Rocco. I'm not really sure how that's going to play out, seeing as he died in the first one. There will be a lead female role, however, director Troy Duffy has stated that she will not be a love interest.

I have to admit I do have my doubts on how this film will be. Some things are not meant to be carried on. As we have seen in the recent alien-infested Indiana Jones comeback, sometimes it's better to just quit while you're ahead.

Nonetheless, I am so very excited to attend the premiere of this film. The first was only shown in theatres on a limited basis, as the violent film came out in the wake of the Columbine incident. What's really remarkable is the success the DVD has had, as it really only spread by word of mouth. So, not only will the contents of the film itself be interesting, but now that it is being distributed in an entirely different settings, I am anxious to see how the sequel is received by fans and newcomers alike.

Troy Duffy has posted updates as well as footage from the set on YouTube. He has also said that he's written another script, The Good King, which he believes will appeal to Saints fans.

So go buy your Rosaries, sunglasses, and trench coats, you'll need them for the premiere. Don't forget the stupid f'ing rope.

Sunday 14 December 2008

Fairytale of New York

It seems against the rules that a Christmas song should be on any list of favorite songs. This classic, by the Pogues, has become a cult favorite, and I'm glad, because it's awesome. I love that such a beautiful song is contrasted by a certain verse (You're a bum, you're a punk/you're an old slut on junk), as well as contrasted by the man who wrote it and performed it (Shane MacGowan, his songs are much more lovely than he is... thank God). Maybe it doesn't do the same thing for you, but, whenever I hear this song, I get a huge smile on my face and feel like skipping around outside in the snow.

Oh, and random trivia: there is no NYPD choir. at all. that's a lie.

16 Days

Dec. 31st - the deadline for Northeastern to mail me my acceptance/denial letter, as well as my financial aid package info.

Sadly, by the looks of things, I won't be attending NU. During this two week long period, I am extremely likely to die of stress and anticipation. When I actually recieve the letter, I might pass out, hitting my head on some extremely hard or sharp nearby surface, or I might throw up, and, being deprived of oxygen in the process, die. Yes, it's true, college applications will certainly be the death of me.

Just wanted to let you all know, in case I stop posting blogs at any time in the next few weeks, you'll know what happened to me.

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Is My Nalgene Bottle Killing Me?

I carry it around with me everywhere I go. I abuse it, throw it on the ground, and it still stays intact and awesome. It's my Nalgene bottle, and I love it. It's different than other Nalgene bottles, because it's a home made Dropkick Murphys bottle. It's transparent black (or maybe grey..), and where it used to say "Nalgene" is a large "Dropkick Murphys Irish Stout" sticker that I so cleverly added.

While it does nourish me with approximately 64 fl. oz daily, I've also been told that it could be a gateway for cancer-causing radicals in my body. I think it is, sadly, time to do some research and find out whether or not my beloved "stout" bottle is going to be the death of me.

I received it from Brant Matthews, who happened to have a bunch of them at his house that he didn't want. This seemed sort of shady to me, considering they had recently been recalled. However, Brant insisted that these were not the killer-bottles, and that they were totally safe. I decided ignorance is bliss and took the bottle. I have since been told that the bottles with the number 7 in a triangle are the ones that are unsafe. There is one on the bottom of mine. However, you can't believe everything you hear. So I ignore it.

Finally, I turn to Google.
One parenting website tells me:

Nalgene themselves tell me:
We are confident that the bottles which contain BPA are safe for their intended use. However, because of consumer requests for alternative materials, we have decided to transition our polycarbonate product line to Eastman Tritancopolyester.
Agencies and researchers worldwide have studied the safety of BPA and polycarbonate for approximately 50 years; including The Environmental Protection Agency and The Food and Drug Administration in the USA, The European Commission Scientific Committee on Food, The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and the Japan Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Findings of studies from these agencies indicate that food and beverage containers manufactured from polycarbonate do not pose a health risk to humans. Polycarbonate is used in a wide variety of consumer products including baby bottles, water bottles, dental sealants and the lining of most metal food and beverage containers and has been for over 45 years.
I know that millions of runners have practically been using Nalgene bottles since Phidippides ran the first 26 mile marathon to Athens. I also know that people, especially Americans, love to make gigantic deals out of nothing - especially if there is a potential lawsuit involved. For these reasons, I have decided to trust Nalgene and continue with the use of my kickass indestructible Dropkick Murphys Irish Stout water bottle.

A Pair of Dull Scissors in the Yellow Light

You are my sweetest downfall
I loved you first, I loved you first
Beneath the sheets of paper lies my truth
I have to go, I have to go
Your hair was long when we first met

Samson went back to bed
Not much hair left on his head
He ate a slice of wonder bread and went right back to bed
And history books forgot about us and the bible didn't mention us
And the bible didn't mention us, not even once

You are my sweetest downfall
I loved you first, I loved you first
Beneath the stars came fallin' on our heads
But they're just old light, they're just old light

Your hair was long when we first met

Samson came to my bed
Told me that my hair was red
Told me I was beautiful and came into my bed

Oh I cut his hair myself one night
A pair of dull scissors in the yellow light
And he told me that I'd done alright
And kissed me 'til the mornin' light, the mornin' light
And he kissed me 'til the mornin' light

Samson went back to bed
Not much hair left on his head
Ate a slice of wonderbread and went right back to bed
Oh, we couldn't bring the columns down
Yeah we couldn't destroy a single one
And history books forgot about us
And the bible didn't mention us, not even once

You are my sweetest downfall
I loved you first

After listening, and singing, this sound countless times during 8th period study hall, I feel I've got a pretty good idea about the meaning behind it. If you don't know, Samson was a Bible character - he was a Nazarene, which meant that God gave him enormous strength, as long as he did not cut his hair. No one knew the secret to his strength, not even his wife Delilah. When the Philistines bribed Delilah to give away the secret of Samson's strength, she tried and eventually got it out of him, and finally cut his hair... thus, earning her legacy as one of the many great "Biblical whores".

I don't think Regina Spektor is singing about this very couple, however - "The Bible didn't mention us". No, this is about an ordinary, everyday couple, or really, any couple who has ever settled down. Samson used to have a great strength, and when he came to this fictional Delilah's bed, she cut it from him - but not intentionally, not to harm him, and not for selfish reason. To be in love, and to commit, is to sacrifice your strength. Our Samson knows this; he knows that his Delilah did not do this for ill reasons, but because it had to be done. He approves, he tells her that she's done "alright". The Wonderbread symbolizes commonality - white bread is an icon of suburbia, of everyday life. It doesn't seem like much, but it's what so many people end up living for - a wife, a few kids, a nice yard. Maybe our Samson and Delilah couldn't do extraordinary things anymore - say, travel the world, or buy fancy things, or "bring the columns down", and maybe they aren't famous, and won't be remembered for their sacrifices and their love - but they knew that would happen, and they did it just the same.

You & Me & All Our Friends

I've just begun an online AP Psychology course and, like James, recently encountered this quote:
"Why should I live? Why should I do anything? Is there in life any purpose which the inevitable death that awaits me does not undo and destroy?
-Leo Tolstoy (1904)

Jim argues that our actions do matter, because they live on through our legacy and what we leave behind. It's a good point, but I don't think that's ever been my exact school of thought.
Not to be a downer, or a pessimist, or even emo, but I, too, often find myself wondering if anything I do matters, and if there is a reason to do anything at all. While you can certainly "live on" through a legacy, I don't think it's for everyone. Not everyone can invent a unit of measurement, or a theory, or have a street or bridge named after them. Some live simple lives, maybe out in the country, raising a nice family and doing what good they can. Do their lives mean less, because they aren't remembered for the same time span as others? I don't think so. Everyone is forgotten, eventually... except Jesus, and Caesar it seems. Even if you are remembered that long, you probably aren't remembered for who you really were - your image, your life, is distorted. There's nothing wrong with working hard during your life to leave behind something great.. I just don't think that's all you should want. Legacy, in one sense, is hunger for attention, even after death.
So why should we do anything? Why should I go to college and get a job and make a living? Does it matter? Well, I'm not sure yet. However, I think I have a reason to live. Although it may sound strange, I love people. I love meeting people, and connecting with people, if only for a short time. If you know me well, you know that I get very attached to people very quickly. That's probably because that's what I view as most important in life - the connections you make with those around you. If nothing else in the world is real, our interactions with each other are. If you take a piece of everyone you meet with you, and vice versa, then at the end of your life you will have, if not money or power or fame or glory, a piece of everyone you came into contact with, a little bit of their life. That's beautiful.
Ironically, through the people you meet, you create a legacy of sorts. You give them a piece of you, meaning, you change them, if only in the smallest way. They, in turn, meet others, and share that with them, creating the tangled, infinite web that is humanity. Through the people you meet, know, and love, you will live forever, even if your name does not.

Note to Jimmy: I swear I didn't write this for the sake of arguing with you... I seem to be doing that a lot lately.