Sunday, December 20, 2009

the parks.
the food.
the gardens.
the markets.the country.the shopping.the history.

things i'll miss.

Friday, December 18, 2009

this week's music,
accompanying the perfect cup of tea
and winter clementines:

pitter-pat - erin mccarley
lolita - sky ferreira
help, i'm alive - metric
white christmas - otis redding
perfectly lonely - john mayer
home - edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros
no children - the mountain goats

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

John Lennon Reincarnate

Counting down the days until Sam Taylor-Wood's directorial debut is released. Nowhere Boy tells the story of John Lennon's story of growing up and falling in love with music. Releases in the UK on December 26th.

Pogo takes music and scenes from movies and cuts and splices them together to make these bizarrely amazing and entertaining little videos. "Alice" has always been my favorite by this "mash-up" artist (I don't really know if he would be called that), but recently I've been listening to "Expialidocious" more.

Monday, December 14, 2009

pop battle

Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" may be everywhere you turn from the radio to Gossip Girl, but take a look at iTunes' Top 20. Who's currently number one? Ke$ha. Her hit "Tik Tok" has climbed it's way up and everyone's waking up in the morning feeling like pdiddy.

Unavailable on iTunes, Ke$ha's got some other songs out there too. But will they be able to box Gaga out when she undoubtedly has yet another hit? Ke$ha's "Your Love is My Drug" sounds a bit too much like Katy Perry's "Waking Up in Vegas" and lacks the originality (and even absurdity) of Tik Tok. But, her "Kiss N Tell" has the full force pop that has won Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and even Lady Gaga the crown.

She's got attitude and is on the pop radar. So if she can get another single out there then maybe she'll be the next bubblegum diva. But until then I think Lady Gaga is still ruling the empire. Keep tuned for a revolt.

Men Who Stare at Goats

When I walked out of Grant Heslov's Men Who Stare at Goats I wasn't completely sure of what I had just seen. The trailer and even opening scenes present the story as true (based on Jon Ronson's book of the same title), but how could it be possible? I was pretty sure I was being fooled. But further investigation has proven that it is in fact completely true.

Perhaps it was watching the movie in a theatre full of British movie goers (who take any opportunity to laugh at Americans), the hilarity of Jeff Bridges and George Clooney, or simply the ludicrousness of the film's premise that made it so impossible to believe. But the movie (book and even three-part documentary all based on the same story) about the US Army's research of New Age, "peaceful," and even psychic tactics of warfare is completely true.

The movie trails journalist Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) on a trip to Iraq to prove himself as a serious writer. Delayed in Kuwait, he meets Lyn Cassady (Clooney), a former soldier in the US New Earth Army. Wilton learns about this completely bizarre sect of the US Army that has tried to hone skills such as invisibility, cloud-bursting, and walking through walls for warfare. The film moves in and out of Cassidy's story of the New Earth Army's formation and his own personal journey.

The cast encapsulates the ridiculousness of the film sublimely. Clooney is self aware and goofy (not as suave as usual, but that works), and Bridges epitomizes the hippie mentality, while Stephen Lang reveals the seriousness that some took to the New Age practice.

Though the plot's linear, it jumps around from idiocy to idiocy making it somewhat hard to follow. Viewers will definitely laugh, but may not completely understand why.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Anthem of Right Now

Been there, done that,
messed around
I’m having fun
don’t put me down,
I’ll never let you sweep me off my feet,
I won’t let you in again,
the messages I’ve tried to send,
my information's just
not going in,
burnin’ bridges
shore to shore,
I’ll break away from something more.

Bulletproof - La Roux

Girl Meets Dress

How many black-tie events do you really go to? And to the few you are luckily invited to, are you really going to wear the same dress? Is it worth dishing out hundreds on a new dress to wear only once? No. It's not. You have to save your money for more practical things than ball gowns, even though they may be the most fun.

Well, lucky European and UK girls can now rent their party dresses (and bags). Girl Meets Dress's tagline is Borrow, Party!, Return. Good deal. 3. 1 Philip Lim dresses can be rented from £69 to £169, Diane Von Furstenberg from £60-£100. There's a wide variety of designers to suit almost anyone's taste and dresses for all different occasions. Whether you're looking for a cute cocktail dress, a sophisticated floor length ballgown, or a dress for a daytime affair, you'll find it on Girl Meets Dress.

All you have to do to "hire" a dress is chose your style and size, how many nights you'll want it for (price goes up the longer you have it), fill out the billing and shipping information, and the dress will be sent to you for free! Once you've done your partying it you can simply ship it back in the prepaid package that's provided and voila! You've had a fabulous night (or day) in a fabulous outfit, and you don't have to eat bread and water for the next month to compensate for your splurge. Oh, did I mention this works for purses too?

Can this please come to the States? Is there one already here? I'd love to know...I do have a black-tie wedding to attend soon...

Monday, December 7, 2009

color. curvy women. sparkles. creatures. twists and turns. wild abandon. inspiration. big. love and heart break. bright pink. niki de saint phalle.

Leave it only to a modern art lover to stumble upon a modern art exhibit in the city of classic art - Rome. Immediately attracted to t
he bright pink and yellow poster with its curvaceous dancing women, my friend and I entered the Fondazione Roma Museo completely naive. We were thus transformed and inspired by Niki de Saint Phalle's art. It ate us up and then spit us back onto Rome's busy street with a brighter, curvier, more spectacular view of the things and people around us.

I will not try to dissect what it was that created this transformation. Instead I can only urge you to see her work for yourself and to experience de Saint Phalle's big, colorful, fabulously gaudy statues, drawings, and paintings. She made me believe I could be an artist, that my life is beautiful and worth the same documentation that hers did.

English food has a bad (dare I say terrible?) reputation. Because of this people just assume that all the food in England (or even the UK) is awful. People cringe when you tell them you're living there and feel bad that you must suffer so. But I am here to refute the argument that British food is dreadful. I've already posted about the popularity and deliciousness of the baked bean and I've recently discovered the true brilliance of another favorite on this side of the pond. The baked potato. I first noticed it when my flatmates were discussing the proper length to cook a potato in the microwave (approx 8-10minutes). They loaded it with butter and had it for lunch. Interesting. I am definitely not unfamiliar with the baked potato. My dad grills a great potato (or sweet potato) in the summer, and mom wraps them in aluminum foil and cooks them in the oven. We usually just smother it with butter, sour cream, and maybe chives - but that's all.

I had the great pleasure of discovering (with some help of a guide book) The Baked Potato Shop in Edinburgh, Scotland. A vegetarian restaurant that focuses mostly on the potato but also sells samosas, filled pittas, and sausage rolls. The best part though is definitely the potato fillings. A novice to stuffing potatoes, I was amazed at the options the wooden board behind the counter gave me. From hot fillings to cold, from the normal to the quite exotic. At first I ordered timidly, just the cheese filling with butter and salt. Delicious. Next time I was a bit more adventurous. Vegetarian chili full of beans, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes. A different kind of delicious. I could have chosen Greek salad (feta with tomato, cucumber, and olives) or avocado salad or Mexican salad (corn, beans, etc) or mushrooms or cheese and beans (of course they put baked beans in a potato!), but I was happy with my choices. Less inviting options were cheese, onion, and pineapple, or vegetarian haggis (I'm not sure how sheep's heart, liver, and lungs can be vegetarian...) or fruity coleslaw - but each to his own.

Moral of the story. Though some choices may have been unappetizing and unconventional, the stuffed baked potato is plus for British/English/UK food. I can't wait to get back to the states and make a baked potato bar for my friends. Must share the wealth! So next time you think you're fridge or cupboard is out of food and the few potatoes you do have look uninviting think again.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I want to admonish myself for posting about music more than usual but what can I say? I love music. It knows what to say, it doesn't talk back, it can bring back memories and even feelings. So no shame in my current preoccupation with music. Here's what I'm into NOW.

One Red Thread - Blind Pilot
A friend recommended Blind Pilot to me because he knows about my soft spot for folk music. From the slow crescendo of the guitar into the peaceful lull of their voices, I was hooked. The chorus of the song is powerful but understated. Not quite as folksy as I can get but still quite good. I must explore Blind Pilot further.

Wear My Kiss - Sugababes
Judge as you may from the picture...or song title...or even the band name, but this stuff is addicting. It's sassy. And thought it may be a bit corny, it definitely imbues the listener with some spunk (but maybe that's just me).

Say Yes - Langhorne Slim
This one's getting his own post. Coming soon. Listen to Say Yes for now.

Day Glo - Iglu & Hartley
I highly doubt you've ever heard of these chaps. I hadn't, neither had my friend who happened upon their cd completely by chance (literally, she won it in an auction). Turns out they're a "pop rock" band from LA (if that picture didn't give it away). Extreme pop mixed with some white boy rapping sums them up pretty well. They've got a late '80s flare and are pretty damn catchy. A good song to listen to before a night out.

Blood Bank - Bon Iver
Bon Iver's silky, yet husky soothing voice conjures bizarre yet beautiful images. His songs tell stories of people meeting, love, and heartbreak. He manipulates breaks in the music to maximize the listener's attention, but never overdoes it. His songs are beautiful and understated.

Release Me - Agnes
While visiting a friend in Rome this song was constantly on repeat. Her friends declared it her anthem, she called it her soundtrack. And I promptly adopted it upon my return. It may be meant for the dance floor but Agnes can serenade me anytime. The quick beat gets me moving and puts me in a great mood every time. If Sugababes have sass, then Agnes has gumption and chutzpah, and makes her audience feel that too. I will put a pop warning on this: not for anyone hates the bubblegum genre.

© Cesare Naldi

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Beatles to Bowie: the 60's Exposed
October 15, 2009 - January 24, 2010
The National Portrait Gallery
London, England

An incredible exhibit for photography fans and 1960s British music lovers. Featuring mammoth prints by photographers like David Bailey, Robert Whitaker, Fiona Adams, and Tony Frank, the National Portrait Gallery is giving the opportunity to see originals of iconic photographs that have been reproduced in magazines and newspapers and blogs and paintings and other media forms across the world. If in London, do not miss this exhibition.
Click Here for More.

Monday, November 16, 2009

iTunes Genius: Helping Me Discover Bomb Songs I Didn't Know I Had.

November 16, 2009:
white blank page - mumford & sons

leftovers - johnny flynn
evening morning - bombay bicycle club
jocasta - noah and the whale
happy as annie - larrikin love
shape of my heart - noah and the whale
happy slap - the maccabees
i won't be found - the tallest man on earth
put a penny in the slot - fionn regan
unfinished business - white lies
symphonies - dan black

sweet disposition - the temper trap

ode to study abroad

It's the magical mystery kind
Must be a lie
Bye bye to the too good to be true kind of love
Oooooh I could die
Oooooh now, I could die"

- 40 Day Dream

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fireworks are resplendent. But they don't translate easily in photographs and they occur sporadically. Nothing can capture the sound and the awe they produce. I've been recently re-inspired by a firework show in Southwark Park for Guy Fawkes Day. Now seeking similar excitement in everyday life.

try sleeping with a broken heart by alicia keys

almost as fantastically '80s as the bright pink dress vintage dress i bought in paris.

Monday, November 2, 2009

please, accept the mystery

Though this summer boasted numerous great blockbuster films, I was continually disappointed. It wasn't that the movies were bad or boring, they were actually quite good...until the end. The endings of so many movies, especially those that tried to be anti-Hollywood and independent (cough*500daysofsummer*cough*thehurtlocker*cough), always withdrew to a typical Hollywood ending. Have to please the audience, I get it, but many endings simply ruined the movie for me. I wanted a strong, poignant ending instead. I wanted to be told something and left in shock or contemplation.

Well, three months later, I got it. Joel and Ethan Coen's newest wonder baby, A Serious Man, met my expectations. And when the credits started rolling and Jefferson Airplane was still blaring, I sat with a wide smile on my face. The brothers had gotten right. A film's ending is its conclusion, so if it disappoints than often the whole movie does too.

A Serious Man follows Physics professor Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg). Things are not going well for Larry. He is going through some financial difficulties, being blackmailed by a student, preparing his son for his Bar Mitzvah, and just found out his wife wants a divorce. Oy! The Coen brother's used their own experiences as growing in a Jewish suburb in Minnesota for the setting and plot of the film, the culmination of which is darkly hilarious. Lighter than No Country for Old Men and more poignant than Burn After Reading, A Serious Man questions religion, fate, and family. Even if someone is good and does mitzvahs and follows all the rules, does that mean everything will go right for them? What does a serious man deserve?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009




Monday, October 26, 2009

will your soul fly?

Receiving most of its publicity for being the movie Heath Ledger died while still filming, Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is quite the trip. Ledger is first seen on screen hanging by a noose from a bridge. Tom Waits plays the devil. And even a monk can be swayed by the temptations of immortality. Gilliam (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, 12 Monkeys) has said Dr. Parnassus is supposed to be a "fun and humorous story about the consequences of our personal choices in life," but it comes off darker than that. Perhaps it is in part due to the film's posthumous release of its star, coming more than a year after Ledger's death. But even the movie's composition is dark. The costumes and sets are somewhat gaudy, reminiscent of a Victorian traveling theatre troupe, but they remain dusky. Only in the imagination of the characters are there wide open spaces. The characters are usually held tight in the mise-en-scene by limiting, controlling spaces. This is all reminiscent of the controls we put on our creativity but also the temptations of the devil.

The images of the film are fantastic and fully absorb the audience. When a bright desert meets the inky, black river of immortality the scene looks like it may have been painted by Salvador Dali. 647 different effects were used in post-production to create this fantasy. It is not a story of a princess and her ideal prince with talking animals. It is the tale of dancing with the devil (literally), human faults, the disappointments of our dreams, and the Old Nick in each of us.

Gilliam overcame unbelievable complications. An actor dying a third of the way through a film, especially an actor as powerful as Ledger, is completely traumatizing to not only the movie, but also the cast and crew. CGI was considered for recreating Ledger for the rest of the movie, but instead Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell were all cast to play Tony (Ledger's character) in the imagination sequences. They were chosen not only because they're all strong actors but also because of their respect for and friendship with Ledger. Depp clearly stands out as the most similar to Ledger in the film, but the casting of each was accurate and the effect isn't too jarring. The casting of Christopher Plummer as Dr. Parnassus and Lily Cole as his seductive daughter were both impeccable choices as well.

For the first time in a long time, a movie fully immersed me so much that all other thoughts were lost. A movie that can do that to my busy mind is definitely worth something.

Symphonies by Dan Black
© Hiroshi Watanabe, courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery

Sunday, October 25, 2009

tragedy strikes the silver screen

When a film has you crying five minutes into it, you should realize you're in for a long ride. What is it about a movie that grabs hold of us and turns our emotions, and gets a physical response out of us? If film was purely escapism this wouldn't happen. No, films are about identification. Numerous film academics and directors alike would disagree with me, but for my argument let's focus mainly the big "blockbusters" that get so much of this attention. As a viewer there is an association we make with the characters of a film. Sometimes it's a distrust and dislike, but often it's symbiotic sharing of emotions. This is especially true in sad movies when a tragedy befalls a likable character.

In two days I saw both Bright Star and The Boys are Back at the London Film Festival. Jane Campion's Bright Star is about the the deep love between poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne. I am not ruining anything by saying that Keats dies and the audience is left watching a wrecked and torn apart Fanny. I stared, elbows on knees, at the screen with uncontrollable tears streaming down my face. Campion set up the most gorgeous love affair between two people. The lighting and mise-en-scene reflected an airy, perfect love that from the get-go is doomed (or at least the viewers know that). We romanticize the great artists of the past and Bright Star is no different. Ben Whishaw, who plays Keats, is handsome with dark eyes, a curious smile, and a sincere countenance. He is exactly who we hope John Keats was. And naturally, we are heartbroken when he dies. But it is not only death that makes us cry in movies.

The Australian Scott Hicks film The Boys are Back utilizes sadness and happiness back and forth to pull at the audience's heart. Women cry and it's sad, but when Clive Owen cries, it's sadder. The story of Joe Warr (Owen), who loses his wife to cancer (literally five or six minutes into the film) and is left to learn how to be a single parent to his six year old son is, if nothing else, a story about learning. Not only the death of Joe's wife, but also the love between a son and father makes the audience reel. The movie places human emotions in relation to vast, sprawling Australian landscapes and a strong soundtrack by Sigur Rós.

Any emotional fragility will have you bleary eyed after and during these films, but if you can stand it and bring some tissues or don't mind using your sleeve, these films are absolutely worth seeing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Let It Go by State Radio

A few weeks ago, State Radio released their newest album. The boys seem to have found a harmonious balance between their heavy rock tones (much influenced by Mike Najarian) and Chad Urmston's reggae alternative roots. "Bohemian Grove" and "Evolution" instantly have you bobbing your head and grooving along, where as "Mansin Humanity" and "Held Up By Wires" have a heavier guitar sound. Chad's sweet voice and socially (even politically) fueled lyrics are still as good and strong as the State Radio sampler I received at "The Last Dispatch." The trifecta has done it again. Let It Go consists of twelve songs, but for only five more dollars, you can buy the forty-one song version. I recommend the latter because you haven't experienced State Radio until you've seen (or heard) them live. This second version of Let It Go contains thirty live songs, many of which Chad explains the meaning of. Many of their songs have seemingly bizarre allusions, so it's interesting and refreshing to hear the artists' thought process on such songs.

Show some love and just buy the album.
But if you want a free sample first, eat this.

beanz meanz heinz

A quick shout out to an under appreciated food in the States. The baked bean. Baked beans in a tomato sauce. Delicious. Delicious with eggs. Delicious on toast. Delicious alone. Please don't forget about the baked bean. Luckily, Roger Daltrey knows what it's all about.

RIP compakt disques

Early to meet a couple friends, I decided to kill some time in HMV. I followed the escalator upstairs to the music section and was perusing the rows and stacks of CDs. There were some good bargains 90's music compilations and there was a big sale on Neil Young albums. Walking around the 'rock & pop' section I looked up and glanced around me. There were probably a dozen or so other people on the music floor but I was the youngest by at least 10 years. And as I looked at a Katy Perry album I realized that most of my generation were getting all this music with just a few clicks of the mouse on their computer. Older generations are probably not as technically inept as we sometimes assume them to be, but maybe they still hold that appreciation for the physical CD. There were definitely albums I thought of buying, but then realized I could download it online (...and for free). Our recognition of music as a tangible entity has completely disappeared as music has become more accessible as a simple file we can click. There is no longer a need for a bulky, leather CD case. Even mixtapes these days are created somewhere in cyberspace. I'd like to eulogize the CD. Though you were frustrating with your scratches and sometimes skipped in the car stereo, you were faithful and always said just the right thing.
RIP the CD.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Looking Forward To...

Having something to look forward to can make the classes, the essays, and even the rain more bearable. What I am excited for in the near future:

1. The London Film Festival. I have tickets to Bright Star (Jane Campion, Abbie Cornish), A Serious Man (Joel & Ethan Coen, Michael Stuhlbarg), and The Boys are Back (Scott Hicks, Clive Owen). Yay!

2. Apple Day. Borough Market and Southwark Cathedral, London. Sunday October 25th.

3. Passion Pit concert in London at Koko on Oct 28th.

4. Halloween. Happy to learn that the Brits have adopted the primarily American holiday. Now only if I had a costume...

5. Eurotrip. Ten days to days to do Paris, Amsterdam, and Berlin. Adventures welcome.

6. Tim Burton at the MoMA (new york city). This of course will have to wait until I'm back from London, but from November 22nd to April 26th, the MoMa will have two exhibits on Tim Burton's work. One a gallery of his drawings and another of his film works.

beyond chuck bass

"Life's not always what you see; it's what going on in your head."

I am a personal believer that there is more to Ed Westwick than Chuck Bass. That's not to say I'm not a lover of Gossip Girl, which I am, but Westwick is one of the few on the show who has real merit as an actor. His IMDB profile lists him in only eleven shows or movies, one of which is still in production. It was probably seeing Westwick in a small role in Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men that made me pay more attention his acting. He is a tenacious actor and though the lines he recites in Gossip Girl are somewhat ridiculous, dramatic, and downright hilarious, Westwick does it with all seriousness and concentration. I have not seen Son of Rambo, one of Westwick's more recent film, but I am excited to see how Peter Webber's adaptation of "Wuthering Heights" (in which Westwick plays Heathcliff) comes out. Many of whom that have read Emily Bronte's novel have a glorified, gorgeous image of Heathcliff. I am skeptical if Westwick will pull of the chiseled, rough look of the character, but we will have to wait until 2010 to find out. I am excited though to see Westwick in a more serious, demanding role that will test his performance abilities - hopefully he will make the grade.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


"she was the daughter of the second American revolution,
A tall girl with a stones constitution"

riddle in londontown - state radio

fashion fashion everywhere

With everyone telling us where to look for fashion cues, which cities can we actually trust?
Five cities claim to be the "Fashion Capital of the World." But who really has the title? Is it all opinion and sense of style? Or is it solely based on which designers are the most prolific and significant?

Every city seems to have a different style for sure but just because one has more acclaim than another, doesn't necessarily mean we should be dressing in their trends. Fashion is subjective. And though I love trends and runway shows and everything fashion-y, I find it hard to be told where to look for "the best fashion." In London leggings are vogue, so is wearing mini shorts with tights. These are trends I don't have any affinity for, though some girls can pull them off very well. Does this make me unfashionable?

I have no conclusion or answer to my question. Just food for thought. With everyone telling us how to dress, who to admire, and where to go, sometimes we need some direction of our own...even if that means being completely gauche.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

that bridge is on fire

© Leandro Badalotti

Islands by The XX

for all the naughty little boys sent to bed without supper

Like so many, I am eagerly awaiting Spike Jonze's interpretation of Maurice Sendak's acclaimed children's book Where the Wild Things Are. As you may or may not know, the film has experienced numerous setbacks, including being over budget, costume design flaws, and the studio's disapproval. Sendak asked Jonze to create the adaptation numerous times but Jonze always declined on the basis that he could not do the book justice. Thankfully, he finally acquiesced. Jonze is known best for his directorial work on Adaptation. He also won awards for his work on music videos (most notably for the Beastie Boys). Wild Things has weathered so much controversy that not only will it be interesting to see the film as an art form, but also to see how it has survived the storm. photo credit: newyorktimes
Until it's finally released (October 16th, USA; December 11th, UK), curb your Spike Jonze cravings with these:
New York Times Magazine Review
Fatboy Slim - Weapon of Choice Music Video (Ft. Christopher Walken)
Wild Things Trailer

Born into a musical family, Ke$ha (originally Kesha Sebert) may be just another upcoming pop star from LA but she's definitely making waves on the pop scene...even if it may not be at first in the US. A friend suggested her song Tik Tok (PDiddy) to me. One of her friends living in Spain said that every nightclub plays the song and she's become obsessed with it. Not surprising. At first listen it's an agglomeration of hysterical and somewhat satirical lyrics, but with an awesome beat that can't be ignored. And those lyrics, they're exactly what clubbers and pop lovers (and even pop-haters who hold it only as a secret guilty pleasure) adore.

listen to Tik Tok by Ke$ha