31 December 2010

Let's recap, shall we?

2010 happened.  It's a fact.  And in a matter of hours it'll be relegated to the history books.  Personally it's been a pretty record breaking year.  Not all necessarily good records or records that I'll share but, be that as it may, a very remarkable year.  For the first time in a long time I've had a year wrought with more realizations of ideas/plans than cathartic realizations.  My hands have gotten dirtier this year.  Maybe I'll get some actual calluses in 2011.  I've both had more expendable finance and been more destitute than previously in life.  I've met some good people and lost good people.  I've seen a lot of places that I didn't imagine I would.
On this day dedicated to the summation of a year  I'll now present you with my 2010 honors.  It's not very concise and has been thrown together only in the past week or so.  Just a heads up: A lot of the honorees that made this list may not have actually been released in 2010 as sometimes I'm a bit late with keeping up with new media.  I'm trying to stay as up to date as I can but there are things that have had a profound affect on me this year that are well older than a year.  I'm sure I've left out a number of things that should be mentioned.  At least next year I'll have this blog to look back on to jog my memory. Speaking of next year, I'm keeping my resolution simple: and that resolution is to give more toasts. Nothing keeps you grounded in the moment more than verbalizing it.  Toasts make you seek out the good and to appreciate it.  It also requires that I spend more time breaking bread (and uncorking) with those I care about. But alas, that's all for tomorrow.  On to the past...

Most Memorable Moment of 2010
Singing Solsbury Hill with Matt C. at Matt G.'s bachelor party

Honorable Mention
Performing with The Suite D's at Pabstolutely 3
Materializing the Youngstown Freak League
The Suite D's in Scottsbluff NE
...and just last night at Matt E.'s house after hours with J.Nutt (shame on all of us)

Best new acquaintance of 2010 (tie)
Debbie E./

It's true, I don't get to see or talk to Deb as much as I could when we worked together, and Cherise has been pretty damned flakey (yea, I said it) I've had some of the best times of 2010 with these ladies.  Whether it'd been on the basketball court setting up pick and rolls with Deb or not salsa dancing with Cherise, they'd both aided in turning around more than a few situations which otherwise would have only been tolerable.  

Honorable Mention
That would just be in poor taste but if I met you this year and you're not mentioned above, step it up! Try feeding me or buying me things.

Best Movie 
A Serious Man - Ethan & Joel Coen

F*ck this movie.  It's so exquisite.  Up until this point I've still only seen it once but the impact is still felt.  Far and away my favorite Coen Brothers movie and that's no small feat with the caliber of the work they've put out.  Eerie and illuminating, this flick is dripping with subtlety and allusion.  I wrote a small interpretation on IMDB immediately after watching it but it seems to have been taken down when they reformatted.  I'd actually just received the movie from Netflix yesterday and will likely watch it this weekend.  It will be an event.  

Honorable Mention
Big Man Japan

Favorite Book Read This Year: 
(I haven't read any books released in 2010 so I'm gonna give this honor to:)
Dirty Hands (1948) - JP Sartre

I haven't read much in 2010.  Not much at all.  Dirty Hands is actually a short story included in the collection No Exit (and 3 other plays).  I've owned said collection for a number of years but never got around to reading Dirty Hands.  Throughout it's 5 acts (mostly played out in flashback) you're invited to some of the best internal conflict played out through Hugo as he ponders the justification of carrying out a political assassination.  Sartre, in my opinion, has been the best at character development and laying out the innermost conflicts of his characters.  This piece isn't as good as No Exit or The Wall but it is signature Sartre.  And the way that the finale plays out will have the hairs on the back of your neck at attention. "Unsalvageable!"

Honorable Mention
Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates (2001) - Tom Robbins

Best Album
King Warrior Magician Lover - Rob Roy
I may be a little biased on this one.  You know when you discover something on your own without being directed by MTV (as if they still played music) or Pandora and it's all your own.  You try to turn your friends on to it, beeming like a proud parent.  Not to say that it's not a great album.  It'll have you bobbing your head from start to finish.  There are a couple of kinks in the armor but nothing that can't be forgiven.  It's an independent release and quite an impressive one.  

Honorable Mention
Plastic Beach - Gorillaz
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West

Best Song 
Flat Of The Blade - Massive Attack (Heligoland)

glitchy at it's beginning it soon becomes something far more brooding, which is right down my alley.  It's a sinister track which features the most delicate and classical vocals by Guy Garvey.  The lyrics are very evocative as well.  Basically everything a song needs to have me hooked.  

Honorable Mention
Carmencita - Rob Roy (King Warrior Magician Lover)
Leave House - Caribou (Swim)
Melancholy Hill - Gorillaz (Plastic Beach)
Believer - M.I.A. (/\/\/\Y/\)

Best Television
Peep Show series 7
Peep show has been one of the shows I've had the pleasure of being introduced to and marathoning from beginning to end this year (along with the honorably mentioned Rescue Me).  As I've previously noted in the blog the first 6 series are all available on Hulu and I've watched them all several times.  Imagine my delight when I found out that series 7 was about to air in the UK.  Imagine my further delight upon being tipped off that series 7 has been uploaded to YouTube almost immediately after it's aired in the UK.  The season has just closed and has been among the best seasons of the program.  The finale didn't leave me breathless but I'm still very excited to see what becomes of the duo amid these new changes. 

Honorable Mention
Parks And Recreation season 2
Community season 2
Curb Your Enthusiasm season 7
Rescue Me (why was season 6 so terrible?)

Best Videogame
Mass Effect 2 (Bioware)

I haven't played many videogames this year.  I realized that at the last minute when I realized that I'm a videogamer and probably needed to include this category.  I've missed out on Limbo (only playing the Demo which even still threatened to make it onto this list) and Shadow Complex.  Super Meat Boy and Splinter Cell: Conviction.  All major releases that any true videogamer should have atleast rented.  But anyway.  ME2 is a great game hands down.  On many game of the year lists and with good reason.  Most of those reasons being story-based but the gameplay is MUCH improved from the original Mass Effect.  I'm super excited for the end of the trilogy late 2011. 

Honorable Mention
Alan Wake (Remedy)
Red Dead Redemption (Rock Star Games)

So that's that.  And so goes my reflection on this year save for any last minute sentiments when the ball drops tonight.  We now move on to bigger and better things. So here's to 2011: May we hold dear to the progress we've made and never forget the misteps we've taken.  Cheers

18 December 2010

7th Floor - Serengetti

The above song is the opening track on Witchdoctor's sole album '...A S.W.A.T. Healing Ritual'.  An album that went under the radar even for those who called themselves fans of the Dungeon Family in their hay day. While Outkast and Goodie Mob albums were flying off the shelves, heralding the prominence of Southern rap,  several new artists like Cool Breeze, Joi, and Witchdoctor rode in on their coat tails.  With production by Organized Noize, who could do no wrong throughout the 90s, these albums were all solid outings atleast musically even if the artists weren't charismatic enough to bridle the beats.

I'm sharing this song for two reasons.  Primarily because it features one of the most outstanding verses in a rap song by none other than the oft-impressive Ceelo Green before he went all Hollywood. It's a mastery of acrobatic iambic pentameter.  The way he hops in and out of the rhythm so effortlessly is greater than any display by his Dungeon Family brother Andre3000 (who, before he decided he wanted to sing poorly as opposed to ever rap again, was among my top 5 lyricists).
Secondly, even above the agile delivery, Ceelo has always had the ability to to place such substance into his lyrics.  The 90s were a dark dark time as far as rap music is concerned.  It's when substance was blatantly forgone for the sake of self glamorization.  Ceelo and Goodie Mob released their first album in 1995.  Just about the time that Puffy and his shiny suits were reading Hip Hop it's last rites.  '...A S.W.A.T. Healing Ritual' was released in '97.  While everyone else was rhyming about the inches of their rims and the inches of their members The Dungeon Family remained a very spiritual bunch.  None moreso than Ceelo.  This verse is the perfect example of how motivational, humble, and even venomous Ceelo could be when he wanted to be.
I don't knock Ceelo for leaving Goodie Mob.  I didn't see it so much at the time but the group wasn't marketable enough to reach the heights he's capable of.  Honestly I'd only heard his first full solo release which was done before Gnarls Barkley and it was just okay.  But I still consider myself a great fan and supporter even if he (or his label) chooses to represent himself with lead off singles like F*ck You.

A lot of you may not be familar with the humble beginnings so here was the first single of the debut of Goodie Mob's first Album Soul Food.

Those New World Order spouting conspiracy theorists had a-15-year-old-me at 'hello'.

12 December 2010

On Lucid Dreaming

Rene Magritte

Recent Dream:
     I dreamt I was walking in my neighborhood.  I had the sense that it was the neighborhood of my childhood and I was in my youth.  Everything was vibrant and technicolored.  Trees had fruits like strawberries, limes, and oranges.  It was Summer.  I was walking from the corner store that I frequented when I was a kid (This store is no longer there in reality) when I realized  had control of this dream.  I can probably count on my fingers the number of dreams that I had control of that didn't turn into some torrid despicable sexual depravity but I guess I took some high road on this one.  I imagined that the sloping terrain in Stiles street was filled with water.  I dove in, swimming on my back.  I can't swim in real life.  I looked up at the trees and the fruits thereon were pulsating and giving off light.  I'd reached that serene feeling that can only be acquired in dreams.
     left the newly formed pond and made the left turn onto my street.  The block begins with my grandparents house on the corner, my house on the opposite corner separated by two other houses.  We'd lost our grandmother about 17 years ago and my grandfather just this Summer.  I wanted to see them.  Together.  I, from the opposite side of the road,  stared up at an upstairs window and tried to conjur them. They wouldn't appear.  I began to panic because I knew I was losing my grip on the dream and consciousness was soon to follow.  I dream of my grandmother often and usually wake in tears. This time it was because I had the chance to see her and couldn't.  She'd slipped away from me.

     Lucid dreams usually have very strong visceral impact on me that lasts well into the day.  Much past the point when normal dreams have faded.  I'd been very intrigued by them, moreso in my early 20s and spent a great deal of my time trying to manipulate the dream-state.  I'd read books and a friend of mine had actually let me borrow his pair of NovaDreamers (pictured right) which are a set of sleep goggles that are supposed to recognize when you reach REM (dream sleep) and signal you with LED lights into your eyes as a queue to recognize that you're dreaming.  My problem is that I'm a very light sleeper (I refer to it as Ninja Sleep) and couldn't fall asleep with it them on.

     This recent dream has inspired me to try again to purse manipulation of the dream-state.  I just have a hard time remaining asleep once I've concluded that I'm dreaming.  As if my psyche won't accept any reality that it knows is not actual.  Like a built in alarm system.  I wake up almost immediately.  Also in less than ideal dream situations when I panic and try to wake myself up I never think to try to turn it around now that I know that it's in my own head.
     What I found most successful in achieving lucidity is self training and repetition.  When you're in bed and you feel that you could be passing between states; in those thoughts it proved beneficial to routinely ask myself, 'Am I dreaming this?'.  Even when I knew I hadn't reached sleep yet it allowed me, if even only as a trigger phrase, to wrap a rope around my waist that I could tug on from the inner reaches of the dream-state.
      I'm going to go at this proactively now.  Especially since waking life leaves a bitter taste in my mouth more often than not these days.  I flew last night.  If only for a little while.  My goal before the end of December is to lift a house from its foundation telekinetically.  Or some other large object depending on where the dream takes place.  It's exciting to think of all the possibilities.  If mastered I could imagine it being more detrimental than the most ravaging of drugs.