Sunday, February 22, 2009

Nobody Broke Your Heart

Somehow, there is nothing quite as heartbreaking, not in the same way, as discovering a musician, falling in love, only to discover that they have been dead for years. It's about a step above finding out the band you just discovered has broken up many years ago (or been on an "indefinite hiatus" since 1998, a la Neutral Milk Hotel), but perhaps a couple steps below hearing the news that your dog just died.
My latest heartbreak? Elliott Smith. I use the phrase a lot, but this time I mean it. Music of the soul, if ever the soul made music.
It's mellow and muted, the kind of music that's almost too quiet; you can't listen to it in the shower or the car. It's beautiful and sad, but that's okay. With a search deeper into this lovely musician's life, you find that he was a troubled soul, who struggled with depression and addiction, and who died rather horrifically by his own hands. And that's still okay. The world needs sensitive, fragile people to make whispery music that makes everybody else feel that it's alright to be sensitive and fragile.
Elliott does just that, not quite curing a melancholy mood but definitely complimenting it. And I love it. And it breaks my heart that there will never be more.
But I'm certainly not the only one who misses him. Like the messages on the mausoleum next to Jim Morrison's grave or the gate outside Abbey Road studios, Elliott Smith has his own Memorial Wall. In Los Angeles, at the site where the picture for the album Figure 8 was taken, many fans have graffitied an impromptu memorial. Names, dates, song lyrics, or general laments, it's the sort of place that I love traveling to and just staring at, trying to read everything (in the cases of Jim Morrison's grave and Abbey Road, while my sister stand impatiently behind me, wondering out loud if I'm done yet). You can see a picture of it here and a video of it, set to Elliott's song "Between the Bars" here.
So as sad as it is that he is no longer around, I'm still glad that he was ever around at all, that I can listen to his music now and that there are still many people influenced by him. And I truly hope that Elliott is finally resting in peace.

With that, my favorite song of his at this moment in time. Angeles:

I love that smile at the end.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Forever Dead and Lovely

"Well, it's about people who kill themselves..."
That's not a very good way to begin a description of a movie, especially one that you're trying to recommend to someone.
"... and they go to this afterlife, which is exactly like the living world, only worse..."
It is at about this time that you begin to write this movie off as morbid and depressing, because who really wants to watch an entire movie about suicide? It sounds like the sort of movie that will bring you down, and that you'll come out of wondering, "Where exactly did that last hour and a half of my life go?" Feel-good movie of the year, contemplation of suicide does not make.
"... but it's a really charming and sweet movie! So do you want to watch Wristcutters: A Love Story?"
A love story? You're thinking, how on earth could this be a love story? It sounds more like a depressing story. Let's go watch The Princess Bride and think about how true love doesn't happen every day.
I know. I've been there. But hold on. First, understand, that it is almost impossible to describe this movie and make it sound like it won't have you hating the world. But it won't.
Zia, our main character, killed himself over his painful breakup with Desiree, and got sent to this limbo-like afterlife, where no one can smile and there are no stars. But, he says, what are you going to do? Kill yourself and get sent somewhere worse? In a chance encounter with someone from his former life, he finds out that Desiree killed herself too. So he convinces his Russian friend, Eugene (whose whole family is with him in this afterlife) to go on a roadtrip in search of her. It is on this trip that they meet a hitchhiker, called Mikal, who is looking for the PIC; the People in Charge, to rectify the fact that she was sent there by mistake, as she didn't mean to die. As you might have guessed, it is here where the ":A Love Story" part of the title comes in.
It's a fairly low-key movie, quiet, but so charming and, believe it or not, hopeful that it works. And Zia is played by Patrick Fugit, my favorite under-rated actor. I love his characters, as few and far between as they may be (he doesn't do very many movies), and it just thrills the latin scholar deep inside that his surname means "he/she/it flees". Patrick is a large part of why this movie is as wonderful as it is. You may remember him as young William is Almost Famous?
And lastly, the soundtrack of this movie is ace. It features many musicians who have also killed themselves, and also a song supposedly by Eugene's band (although it is actually a Gogol Bordello song) that makes affecting a Russian accent so much more fun. The song that Zia kills himself to is by Tom Waits, who is also in the movie playing a character called Kneller. It is called "Dead and Lovely", and it is so rough and jazzy that I appear to have fallen in love with it, especially the line, "He's not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at." Pure, satisfying genius.

So, in conclusion, give Wristcutters a chance. You may just love it.
To quote from the back of my DVD case, "Just because you're dead, doesn't mean you have to stop livin'!"
I know. Pure cheese. I guess they didn't know how to describe it either.

On a completely unrelated note, I believe this might be a song that never made it into Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas. Dead catchy but vaguely disturbing.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

All I Want Out of Life Is....

...some light-up sneakers.

It seems a little ridiculous, but every time I see a kid's shoes flash every time they take a step, I get insanely jealous.
It doesn't seem quite fair that this novelty is available only to children, or maybe that's just my reluctance to accept adulthood speaking. Either way, I would like some light-up sneakers.
The problem? No company makes these bad boys in adult sizes, which is depressing but not entirely surprising. There is one website that will add lights to shoes for you, but they recommend not to add them into the soles of shoes, which is exactly what I want to happen. Also, the lights that they offer appear to stay on continuously, and what I really want is flashing lights when I walk.
Another option is in some lines of athletic shoes, some of which can be see here, including running sneakers that can be lit up when going for a jog; a safety alternative to those lovely orange reflective vests. Unfortunately, these are turned on to be on continuously and turned off but do not flash, and also appear to be selling for approximately one bazillion dollars. This is a little out of my price range.
There is a third option. Supposedly, there are also tutorials on the internet for making some yourself by tearing up a pair of kid's sneakers and removing the bits, to be put into some adult shoes. But, my Padre is probably too busy to be prevailed upon to try this for me (and also may just laugh at me and walk away), and if I tried it myself there would be a good chance of electrocution at the first sight of rain.
At this point it looks like my best bet would be to either buy a pair of stripper boots with a light up heel, or to try to cram my feet into a child-sized LED sneaker from Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, I am quite clumsy when it comes to high heels (haha, you thought I was going to say I don't want to look like a stripper, didn't you?) and as far as trying to fit into kid's shoes, I have very adult-sized feet, and am the Bigfoot of my family, to the point that my sister even makes fun of me for them.
This may be a sign from God to grow up. But, with less than one month until I am, in the eyes of the law, officially an adult, I am a little reluctant to heed that sign. In fact, I think I might just go watch Mulan or try to get my mum to make me a pb&j sandwich....

And, now for your surfing pleasure, some other cool sites I found on my interwebz travels:
Wearable Electronics?!
The Coolest Sneakers Ever: The Dalek Version
Kurt Cobain Converse (Really fun to say. Try it.)
And something completely unrelated:
Welcome to Narnia!
I know. I'm not entirely sure what to think either.