27 February 2007

getting some exercise

sometimes, feeling the urge to write can be a royal pain in the ass. sometimes, you just can't string your thoughts and words together in anything approaching an effective manner and when you try, it generally makes you feel worse about your output.

after a bit of a creative spurt around the holidays, i've found the last couple of months to be as cry as a fundamentalist church during prohibition, which is just no fun, because it means that i spend a long time sitting in front of the computer thinking that i SHOULD be writing, but unable to do anything worth keeping.

in the last week, i've put my foot down, though, and i've managed to work out some writing exercises for myself. it may not be writing something that i could even dream of calling finished, but at least it's making me think creatively, which is more than i can say for a lot of my daily activities.

aside from standbys like just writing about what i see around me, or trying to describe one particular thing i see, i've found some success in combining things that i love, namely writing and music. my latest trick is to turn on the ipod (which has the added advantage of blocking out other, unrelated sounds) and writing a piece for every track that comes on. they may just be short little bursts, but it's interesting to see what comes out when you try this for an hour or so. (i personally wouldn't recommend doing it for a lot longer, as even things you enjoy can become a little tiresome.)

so now, i have pieces based on the following soundtrack:

azure skies- bring nothing back
heavy electronics v- advokat ihrer hoheit
quaternary- strafe f.r.
muslimgauze- palestine is our izlamic land, part i
deadwood- wither sith
stratum terror- collapse
skalpell- mindscrape

not bad for a night's work. i don't know if any of them will develop into more, and i'm at varying levels of happiness with them, but hey, it's better than sitting here wondering why i can't think of any ideas...

25 February 2007

black magic


movie review :: pan's labyrinth

i have mixed feelings about guillermo del toro. his films, while while soaked in atmosphere and in possession of an eerie, organic beauty, have a tendency to collapse somewhat short of the finish line. the first time i saw cronos, i was captivated for about the first two thirds of the movie, at which point things sort of came unraveled. it felt like the director felt he'd put in his time and packed it in a little early. even the much lauded and far superior the devil's backbone left me wanting at the end. and his involvement in projects like hellboy and mimic makes me wonder if he's not just trying to parlay a strong visual sense into a larger scale hollywood career.

however, because, for all it's flaws, i did find the devil's backbone quite enchanting and legitimately scary in places, i wanted to check out his newest opus, from the artistic side of his personality, pan's labyrinth. besides, i find the lure of a fairytale for adults done by a adirector with his cinematographic abilities to be irresistible.

first off, i would like to clear up what i mean by an adult fairytale. this is not a fairytale that adults can get into, while allowing their children to watch. this is a tale in the older tradition, before censors decided that children would be better off if they didn't hear all the gory details and just thought that they were listening to a pretty story. originally, fairy tales weren't meant to comfort, but to caution, and the caution given was generally dire. grim indeed.

potential viewer's expecting a cgi-laden princess bride would be well advised to stay home. the fantasy world of the film is not beautiful and peaceful, but troubled, unsettling, often disgusting. magic was generally the subject of suspicion in older times, because rather than being good or evil, those possessed of secret knowledge and power generally maintained a frustrating neutrality. so it is in the world of pan, actually the titular faun who appears to test the tellingly named ofelia, a child growing up in the aftermath of the spanish civil war whose mother has recently remarried to a fascist captain charged with rooting out the battered remains of the resistance from the country hills.

the magical characters, the faun and the faeries who are his assistants and his pets, are mysterious about their intentions. the people with whom ofelia interacts in the flesh and blood world, are not so cryptic. in particular, the captain, who ofelia steadfastly refuses to refer to as father, despite her mother's entreaties, is pure malevolence. many movies offer some explanation, some clue as to what motivates their villains, but not this one. he is an obsessively arrogant, cruel, violent man who manages to turn even his love for his newborn son into a perversion.

ofelia's friendless navigation between these two worlds becomes a little predictable, but the film does manage to grow beyond its limitations. while the promise of hope and beauty is held out, both by the faun and by the stealthy presence of the resistance fighters in the hills, but painfully withdrawn when it seems in reach.

what surprised me most about the film was the ending. at first glance, it may appear to be typical of del toro's anti-climatic climxes, but look again. without wanting to give away anything, after refecting on it a little, i think that the actual message being conveyed is considerably more complicated and more troubling than it seems. i suppose that's one of the things you have to watch about magic. nothing is as it appears.

20 February 2007

everyone's doing it

i got a request to join my space a little while ago and figured what the hell. so now there's even MORE more like (my) space. it looks like hell, because i'm still figuring everything out, but i'll get around to decorating eventually.

and, speaking of decorating, if you're wondering why i've been a little silent of late, i've been putting a lot of time into redecorating my abode. only took me four years to get around to it. yeah, i'm a lazy slag. even worse if you consider i earn my living working in home decor... i'm still not done, but at least the biggest bits are over with.

and, on that note, i'd like to leave a wee little note for home decor suppliers out there: ENOUGH WITH THE BEIGE. some of us do not like to decorate in shades of beige. some of us don't like beige at all. some of us want a place that looks like someone actually put some effort into it. some of us find your stores sleep-inducing because everything looks the same.

02 February 2007

it's a girl thing

i have always realised that i have a lot of clothes. somehow, i have always managed to have a lot of clothes, even going back to a time when i was relying on family members to buy them for me.

despite the fact that i am aware of this, there are times when it seems much clearer. those times are when i am doing what every decent canadian does- weeding through my closet to find stuff that doesn't fit, doesn't suit me, or that i'm unlikely to wear for other reasons and assembling it for delivery to a charity. when this happens, i end up pulling everything out of the closet to examine and then i pass judgment.

there are three categories: 1. bound for charity; 2. keepers; 3. things i'd forgotten and want to keep, but which are in dire need of a trip to the dry cleaners.

after tonight, i have one full garbage bag of clothing to go to good will, another full garbage bag to go to the dry cleaners (that's going to have to happen in shifts) and my closets are still full. yes, that's right, closetS. i was forced to contemplate this while trying to force an overstuffed crinoline into the tiny space that remained.

the problem is understandable: not only do i like clothing, but i have, over time, cultivated a certain look and i like to keep up appearances. that means that i tend to buy distinctive looking items. if you live in jeans, you can wear the same pair four times a week and no one's going to be the wiser. if your wardrobe features things like an ultraviolet skirt with leopard print lining and a fringe of tulle around the bottom, it's going to be a little more obvious when you pull a repeat close to laundry day. such are the obstacles faced by those of us who don't enjoy blending in.

as i surveyed my closet, i considered the future. my eyes fell on the floaty, gauzy black shirt section, each piece with its own distinctive points. i know that i will require more space and sooner rather than later. i know that there is precious little i'm willing to part with now that i have culled and that i will soon have to look at converting a bedroom. eventually, i'm going to be sitting at this computer and there will be clothing hanging all around me.

but the fact is, there is something satisfying about looking in the mirror and seeing yourself wearing something expressive of the person inside and looking like no one else. i'm sure i can find a larger apartment if i need to.
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