retrocities deluxe

in the mood for a good spring roll, with some duck sauce . . .

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Best of '05: Music

The following list contains a list of the best dozen new releases put out in the 2005 calender year. So if you decide to collect them all, you can fill a travel cd case. Brief descriptions follow the entries which I decided to describe.

1. Soundtrack of Our Lives - Origin Vol. 1
- 70's rock album that came out this year
2. Beck - Guero

3. Sufjan Stevens invites you to: Come On, Feel the Illinoise
- Sufjan uses Dan's and/ or Matt's Banjo and some recorders to sing about Illinois
4. Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

5. Nickle Creek - Why Should the Fire Die?

6. Jack Johnson - In Between Dreams
- songs about banana pancakes and living in California
7. The Futility Parade - The Land Before Time VII: Prehistoric Pandemonium
- the unsung heroes of Memphis indy rock do it again
8. Amos Lee - (self-titled)

9. John Prine - Fair & Square
- an old man sings about being old without being too sentimental or too senile
10. Spoon - Gimme Fiction
- in one song, theword 'sidestep' is used
11. My Morning Jacket - Z
- bono meets the who and sings about putting cats in blenders
12: Gorillaz - Demon Days
- ficticious cartoon characters put out a sophomore album with dennis hopper

Monday, January 02, 2006

Sadocinemasochism: Syriana

So I went to see Syriana. Actually I saw it three weeks ago, but I seem to have trouble finding time to write movie reviews when I could be playing video games. As a side note, congratulations to Lucas for winning the Heisman Memorial Trophy.
We rushed into the theater thinking we were going to miss the beginning as we had previously decided that a quick stop to Starbucks was more important than the previews, which was justified as it was good coffee. The movie starts rolling. It turns out it was about big oil and not bank heists. About twenty minutes through the movie, Matt Damon’s kid died and lights started flashing. I thought this was a new cinematic gimmick, which was pretty cool, but it didn’t stop. Eventually some kid came in and informed the movie going audience that the fire alarm was going off because some restaurant in the mall had a small fire, but we were in no danger. After about 10 minutes of trying to get people to thumb wrestle me, the movie came back on, for about 10 minutes. I need to note that during the first intermission, a man 2 rows up fell asleep and started snoring. The movie came back on and we learned more about George Clooney, a Farsi speaking CIA operative and we learned about the inner workings of global trade and the oil industry. Then there were some more flashing lights, a second intermission, and then the movie came back on and finished. Unfortunately our friend two rows up didn’t wake up. Not to worry though, we were all given free admission to another movie of our choice to use at a later date. So our middle-aged snoring friend can come back and see Syriana again.
After the movie, we headed to our favorite local establishment, Tom’s Diner. I order a country breakfast which included pancakes, eggs and bacon to go along with my coffee. Often, I mumble. So while eating my two eggs, two pieces of bacon and pancakes I continued to mumble. As I was attempting to say something, Matt says, " What’re you speaking over there, Farsi (the most commonly used Persian language which was also spoken by George Clooney which made him a top notch CIA operative)?" We hear a voice chime up and see an inquisitive face peer at us from across the aisle; "Farsi, you speak Farsi?" Without giving us a chance to deny knowledge of how to speak Farsi, we starts speaking to us in this Persian language, only to be disappointed by the fact that we do not know how to speak Farsi. We then proceeded in speaking with this man for about half an hour. We learned that our Iranian friend, likes America because of beer, but was disappointed that everyone in Pittsburgh likes football and soccer. We learned that Iran is in the World Cup this year. Unfortunately he couldn’t watch it though, because the Steelers game was on. We learned that he doesn’t like soldiers or trust people with guns. We also learned that in Iran he was a dental assistant, but could only find a job here washing dishes. Which brings us to a social dilemma. There are about 33.5 million foreign born people in America, which makes up almost 12% of the population. After reviewing information from the Census webpage, we learn that foreign born workers are more likely to work in service jobs and less likely to be in management. Almost a quarter of foreign born households make less than $20,000 a year. This can be viewed as an extended branch of institutional racism. This has been going on since our country's foundation, where the minority is entitled to the work that no one else wants. We rationalize it to ourselves that since they can’t speak English well or without an accent or for whatever reason we feel like making up, then they aren’t entitled to good work. My gyro eating friend from Iran is a living example. In Iran he was a dental assistant, but here he has to wash dishes.
So from Syriana, we learn not about the evils of capitalism and how greed runs the oil industry with no eyes for morality, but we learn a more domestic lesson. We learn about the greed of our own society and how alike it is to the oil mongers. We learn about the inequality and the injustice that is right down the street at Tom’s Diner.

Grade: B+, although if I watched it again without disruptions of flashing lights and people falling asleep it may tie together a little bit better and it would probably get an A-.