Good thing about school starting

BYU International Cinema starts next week and I'm so excited. It's the reason I don't do Netflix during the school year--I get to watch movies for free. They show the movies throughout the week, my personal favorite being Tuesday evenings when hardly anyone is in the auditorium. Last Winter semester I manage to watch one or more films a week. My love of good cinema has grown immensely. And even though they have a sketchy and euphemistic "customized for BYU audiences" practice, I still get to see films I wouldn't see otherwise. I just wish that regular American movie theaters would pick up more foreign films. Something about seeing the world in a different way and how others use cinema to express that is exciting and beautiful.

Check out this semester's schedule. I really can't choose which ones I'm most excited for, so I guess I'll just have to see all that I can...

Back to school receipt

Textbooks from bookstore - $165.28
Textbooks from amazon.com - $132.02
Stocking up new place with food - $68.62
Wireless router - $53.21
Rent - $285
Tuition (w/ scholarship) - $1020

Total = Way too much for me to add.


Medley of the day: Moving Out

I'm moving out of the apartment complex I've been at for two years. The last year absolutely sucked, which probably was partly my fault. My roommate I'd lived with my freshman and sophomore year and loved got engaged last summer and left me for good in October, leaving me somewhat friendless. I knew a couple of my roommates from before, but it wasn't the same. Who was I going to watch Bollywood movies or midnight clean the kitchen with? I almost moved, but decided even semi-friends was better than no friends.

Now, I'm officially moving, and in celebration, a medley of moving songs.

First up is the Beatles' "She's Leaving home". This one is about a girl leaving home to have fun, thus abandoning her parents. It's a beautiful melody with haunting back-up vocals by John.

This second one is "Going to California" by Led Zeppelin. It's a rather wistful song about heartbreak and moving on.

This next one is kind of loosely related to the theme, but I love it. It's a 2003 clip from Nashville Star featuring the adorable Miranda Lambert who has a gorgeous voice. She wrote "Greyhound Bound for Nowhere" with her dad (how awesomely country is that?). It's about leaving a relationship with a married man, but she's moving, so I count it as legit.

Last, one my absolute favorite Billy Joel songs, "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)". Tell me it's not the most fun ever to sing along to all the "ack-ack-acK-aCK-ACK!"s. Also, "He works at Mister Cacciatore's down on Sullivan Street".

Yeah, this is just some guy playing it on his turntable.


FernGully: What?

I saw FernGully: The Last Rainforest at least once as a child. I remembered one scene: a young man listening to a Walkman and marking trees to be cut down. Other than that, nothing. That memory suppression may have saved my life, because rewatching this movie proved that it is awful.

What follows are my scattered thoughts about this mess of a movie:

1. The worst part is the whole concept:
  • There are fairies who tell Native American-like stories about the human race (the beginning of this movie had to be inspiration for M. Night's Lady in the Water prologue). The two races used to be close and live in the rainforest together, but have since lost contact.
  • The faries' archenemy is some sort of spirit named Hexxus that wants to destroy FernGully.
  • The humans are destroying the trees.
  • Hexxus uses the humans to destroy FernGully with one very powerful tree-cutting machine.
  • The overarching theme is "Take care of the earth", but because of the fantasy elements, add on "...because it will hurt the fairies." What are we trying to save?
  • The real enemy seems to be Hexxus since the humans are too dumb to know that they will destroy the fairies. The villain is absolutely convoluted. People aren't the enemy in this movie even though that seems to be what the creators are trying to convey: humans need to stop cutting down trees and destroying the environment.
  • Thus, humans should watch out for deceiving spirits that will give false orders to destroy rainforests because cute fairies will lose their homes.
2. The blatant propaganda is incredible. Every time the rainforest is shown, it's sparkling with lush color and wildlife. Every time a clearcut area is shown, the colors are dampened and ugly browns and reds. The "tree-eater" is shown in distorted angles with a red, fiery "mouth". Trees = good. Tree-eaters = bad. Fascism did teach us that you've got to get to the kids early.

3. I hate every good character in this movie. Crysta is the dumbest heroine ever. She has huge eyes and the body of a pin-up girl, but overall, she has no personality. I think she's supposed to be spunky, except she's scared of everything and terrible with her fairy powers. Zac, the human who gets turned fairy-sized by dumb Crysta, is a horny 18-year-old. Somehow he has a "change-of-heart" about cutting down trees, except he was only working for tree-cutters as a summer job, so...big change. Why am I supposed to care?

Robin Williams plays Batty. I guess they wanted comic relief to distract people from how terrible the plot is, except it's more painful than funny. There's rapping involved:

Apparently Robin Williams was in high demand for humorous sidekick characters in 1992.

5. The one redeeming character is Hexxus because it's played by Tim Curry--aka Best.Villian.Ever.

Hexxus is the manifestation of everything evil and knows that humans are easily manipulated to so anything for money (remember, humans are dumb). "Toxic Love" is the best song in the movie, not only for Mr. Curry, but also the ridiculous lyrics:

6. Basically, this movie makes no sense, is badly constructed propaganda that is way too long, even at 72 minutes. It lacks the streamlined Disney touch. Note to future filmmakers: never combine fairies, evil spirits, Native American storytelling, and environmentalism together. It will never work.


Goal: Become a legit Led Zeppelin Fan: Led Zeppelin III

In case you missed it, here's my take on Led Zeppelin I and Led Zeppelin II.

Today's album in review: Led Zeppelin III.

1. "Immigrant Song"--This is Zeppelin classic. It's fast, hard, and wailing with insanely obscure lyrics. Plus, I always imagine Jack Black singing it in that sweet van, which can only improve my love of the song.

Also, I dare you to come up with a creepier sound than the vocals at the end of the song.

2. "Friends"--Blandly creepy. Tuneless guitar riff and random strings make up most of this song. It's kind of like the essence of Led Zeppelin without the spark.

3. "Celebration Day"--I usually skip this song. It's kind of like ELO's "Ma-ma-ma Belle" in that it's decent bluesy rock, but it's generic and gets kind of old.

4. "Since I've Been Loving You"--Another over 7 minutes foray into blues, but I love it. Feels like Stevie Ray Vaughn with the guitar-solo intro, and then goes all out ominous gospel. I can't express how much I love the theme chord progression. And did I mention organ?

5. "Out On the Tiles"--The return of a great guitar riff with a chorus that could have come from any rock band from the 70s and 80s, but it's cooler because it's Led Zeppelin.

6. "Gallows Pole"--Making folk songs awesome. Pretty mellow, but still passionate and even awesomer for including the banjo. I mean, can you get more hardcore than singing about how you're going to get hung?

7. "Tangerine"--Sounds completely like the Rolling Stones, especially the chorus that features messy harmonies.

8. "That's the Way"--A totally mellow song whose sentiment reminds me of Bruce Hornsby "That's Just the Way It Is" and Tupac's "Changes" except better. It's a taking-a-drive-on-a-Sunday-afternoon sort of song.

9. "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp"--The meaning of the title has some random story that includes a cottage or something, but mostly it's dark folk music with a drum beat. Also, I just realized that the song says "Ain't no companion like a blue eyed merle" instead of blue-eyed girl. Hmmm.

10. "Hats off to (Roy) Harper"--This song is an homage to Mr. Harper, but the distorted vocals are a little abrasive. The slide guitar is pretty awesome though.

Overall assessment: Interesting split between classic Zeppelin in the first half and folky, mellower Zeppelin in the second half. It's a decent album to have on while doing stuff, but not a favorite in terms of song writing.


There's a reason you left home/Medley of the day

It's approaching the end of my week at home, and as usual, everything starts to grate on my nerves. My mom never stops talking, my brother just jacked up my iPod so I have nothing to listen to on the plane, and my dad attacked me with his blues music. So bascially a regular visit home.

But I did discover that there are several great versions of "Light My Fire":

First up, the original by the Doors. I grew up to my dad bustin' out the organ part at the beginning every time my mom left the house. It was part of his stock of kind of bluesy stuff he'd play on the piano when there was barely anyone in the house. Too bad this song doesn't end. I like organ (as you well know), but the solo just goes on forever! However, the lyrics about love becoming a "funeral pyre" makes more sense coming out of Jim Morrison's mouth than anyone else.

This second one I discovered last night while my dad blues-attacked me. This is Jose Feliciano's version from the late '60s. A blind guitarist from Puerto Rico, he got #3 Billboard hit and helpd earn him some Grammy noms for his album Feliciano!. And apparently he's also the guy who wrote "Feliz Navidad"*. Recently, some Will Young guy did a cover exactly like this one, so I'm not including it here because it's not as tenderly Latin and way too Euro-pop. So thanks, Jose Feliciano, for an actually beautiful cover of such a haunting song.

I'm leaving my favorite for last: Stevie Wonder's version. This is early Stevie when his songs were so upbeat and Motown-y. I think this version reveals what a good melody the song is without getting bogged down in creepy organ solos or lyrics about funeral pyres. It just replaces those things with strings and harmonica solos! It's so catchy! And proves that blind guys make the best song covers!

*A Spanish class classic everywhere.


Ramblings from home

I'm taking a week vacation to my hometown of Vancouver, WA. After a 12 hour trip from Utah to Washington, I have made it and am now chilling out my parents' basement, kickin' it high school style.

The highlight of the trip so far? Snapping beans!! I don't know if any of my faithful readers has had the great pleasure of snapping beans. It involves putting your hands into to freshly washed beans from the family garden, pulling out a pile, breaking off the ends and each piece into two or three pieces. Tons of fun.

Anyway, it's a part of my childhood and present-day self that is super Mormon. Nothing says food storage like snapping home-grown beans and canning them for years to come.