Saturday, April 21, 2007

one shot : the port of Valencia

America's Cup has begun and Valencia is in good mood. The port has changed a lot here, it became more sophisticated.

Ports are so big. That’s the main difference, if we compare them with airports o stations. The containers, the sea, the sun, the ships. When they live in harmony altogether. That's when I see the good in human being.

My friend from Japan took this picture. It’s sort of weird because the place of the picture seems so foreign to me. That's why I really like this pic.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

art : Church of the Light

Of course, I don’t know much about architecture but I found the existence of this church at a book shop and it caught my attention. Well this is second church in a month. Maybe I should call this blog like Midnight Church…(*゚ー゚)

The architect is Tadao Ando, from Osaka. I didn’t know but it seems like he’s quite famous and won many important prizes. It’s known that Ando studied architecture himself, travelling around the world with the money he won playing boxing matches. The Church of the Light was built in 1989 is in Osaka. The use of concrete is Ando’s sign but what makes it special is that cross. There is not any cross but that cross of light. I don’t remember exactly the words, but he thinks that places where people go to pray have to be in touch with the nature (in this case the light works like that). I completely agree. I’ve read interesting things to tell about this church, the meanings of every single part of the place, but it’s a church, the most important thing is feeling the spirituality.

Friday, March 16, 2007

sound : M.I.A.

I really think that Maya Arulpragasam a.k.a. M.I.A. (stands for Missing in Action) has been a real threat for the whole music world when she appeared. She supposed to be a begginer but then she created a school, M.I.A.’s Old School. And she’s hot. I bought her first major album Arular when I listened Bucky Done Gun and Sunshowers (her easiest song to listen). It was a shock. Σ(゚д゚;)

She’s a singer from U.K. There were weird and savage sounds before, such like Kelis, Timbaland or that kind of artists. And for the instance I thought M.I.A. was kind of Nelly Furtado (non frontier singer) but she was specially original and creative. Σ(゚д゚;)

Her background is from Sri Lanka. She’s often referred to as the daughter of Arul Pragasam, who was active in Tamil independence movement. He also received training from the PLO in Lebanon. She got involved in a controversy when she released the single called Sunshowers because its lyrics inluded “Like PLO, I don’t surrendo”. MTV refused to play her music video and US thought she was expressing support for the terrorists. Σ(゚д゚;)

It’s absolutely interesting to read her life. Maybe there’s something wrong as it is not her official biography, though. Read also her funny interview. Official site.

We can expect to listen her new album Power, Power this year (she collaborates with Timbaland!). The first single is Bird Flu Σ(゚д゚;):

Monday, March 05, 2007

travel : the Church of St Michael at Cefnllys

This small Church of St Michael is so charming. I don’t know how I didn’t go back again there while I was living in Wales.

You all know that I lived in Wales for a while, and we “Spanish” boys (and whoever joined us) enjoyed walkings through beautiful hills and rivers. Someone had heard that there was a small church near Shaky Bridge, two miles away from Llandrindod Wells, so we tried to get there. We were desperate to see something near that small town. Desperate to find something else to see. And it was worthy indeed.

I’m ashamed that I didn’t know what Cefnllys was until today. OK, I still don’t know its pronunciation. Cefnllys was a town in Powys, county of Wales. And this church is there, in a remote corner of green landscape. Several peaceful graves with graceful tablets welcomed us as we entered to the place. The inside was very cozy. I only knew Catholic churches with those long chairs where ten people can sit together. But this church had some individual (and possibly artisanal) chairs. The church of St Michael is basically a medieval structure, some elements are believed to date to the 13th Century, followed by substantial post-medieval restoration (drastic rebuilding at the end of the 19th Century). -link for more information about this church-

There was also a notebook for visitors and you can get a gift of pretty painted stone. People from Llandrindod Wells/Powys were really kind.

Next to the chuch there were high hills and on the top we found some stones. I wondered what were those stones and rocks in the middle of the grass. Well, we walked above them, we sat there, we threw few stones… to find out, a year later, that those stones are likely rests of Cefnllys Castle. Please tell me that you (people who are or were in Llandrindod) neither knew it.

Anyway, all I want to say is that Wales is relaxing and has little trasures like this church.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

goods : minesweeper

These two months I have been working on it. On minesweeper. Instead of writing here? No, I was busy, too. But what a simple and addictive game! Now I don’t need to play that much but somehow it became a kind of therapy for my emotional unbalances, to get away from my problems. I guess it’s not good, but that’s a fact. But now I got tired, so I play when I really want.

I believe every user of Windows know this game. Before I was Mac user, so minesweeper was something new and something to conquer. I like taxing my poor brain. You know that it’s about time to write about my dear sudoku.

The rule is simple: the game consists of a rectangular field of squares. If a square that contains a mine is clicked, the game is over. If not, the player has a number between 1 and 8, which indicates the number of mines in the eights sorrounding squares. The player can put a flag any square believed to contain a mine by right-clicking. When the player clears all squares that don’t contain a mine, the player wins. The score is the time taken to do so.

Here is an excellent example:

Outstanding. How the hell can he do that?!

I’ve also tried the Vista version of minesweeper. It has a futuristic sound and the upgrade is obvious but I have to say that the game screen isn’t clear enough because of the color.

Friday, February 23, 2007

disappearing : 07-Jvari Monastery, Georgia

Our grandchildren may never see Jvari. Jvari Monastery, or Monastery of the Cross, is a Georgian Orthodox monastery near the World Heritage site Mtskheta. In the fourth century a female evangelist St. Nino credited with covering the country to Christianity, stayed here to pray and erected a cross on Mtskheta's highest peak. A minor church of the Holy Cross was built in the second half of the 6th century, and a bigger church -the Great Church- was erected over the wooden cross between 586 and 605. The Great Church has a splendid interior and facades and is representative of the tetraconch architectural type that was popular not only in Georgia, but the whole region of South Caucaus. Actually it is considered as a model of many other churches. The importance of Jvari complex increased over time and attracted pilgrims from beyond Georgia’s borders.

Over the centuries the Jvari buildings have suffered damage from erosion (plus acid rain) and inadequate maintenance. The Small Church has no roof and the mosaics and frescoes that decorated its interiors have largely disappeared. The Centre for Architectural Heritage of Georgia has proposed conservation plan, but if the buildings are to survive as a meaningful relic of the early Christian movement in the region, then immediate action will be required.

I have never heard about Jvari, even all I know about Georgia was that that's origin of British singer Katie Melua, I'm sorry. So, when I saw the picture for the first time, honestly I thought it was just a old building. I never thought about the interior. I don't know if it is a good comparison, but it came in my mind that Alhambra is like that: from outside is like old brown building, but the interior is... I would like to visit this monastery since it has been difficult to find pictures of it. Well I guess Jvari isn't that famous and not many people are interested in. So let's improve our knowledge together. You know, it's funny because when I write this section, I often think about the relation between ignorance and sin.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

disappearing : 06-the Arctic ice shelf

Our grandchildren may never see the Arctic ice shelf. I think ice melting has become a symbol of climate change. Like Kilimanjaro. I just don’t want to repeat all the things that we can hear or read anywhere. Well it’s a real thread when this process is unstoppable. I always thought this frozen ground is something extraordinary. What is going on? Are you ready to say bye-bye to poor polar bears?

Recently Europe turned off some lights 5 minutes to acknowledge symbolically global warming. It was a good chance to remind us again about the danger, although it already ended as a symbol. For the next time, I think it’s much better to celebrate FIFA World Cup every half year in Europe, so that no European man is gonna use the light but for the TV.

It’s not ecologic talk but I found something interesting Picture when I was researching about Arctic.

This is a American submarine USS Pogy (SSN-647), which was one of the US’s “baddest” Cold War-era fast-attack nuke boats (words from USS Pony Alumni Page). It ends collecting thousand of water samples from over a hundred locations under the polar ice of the Arctic Ocean. I doubt that the world is getting better but it’s obvious that this submarine has been more useful after the Cold War.

sound : travis

Travis a.k.a. the invisible band are a Scottish rock band that had started their career in 90’s and has released 4 original albums and a compilation album. And they are about bringing a new album this year. The member is composed of four and the lead vocalist and main songwriter is Francis Healy. I think people agree that he’s one of the most talented songwriters in UK right now.

Francis recognized he received the influence of some songwriters, such as Joni Mitchell (I wish I could listen their cover of her song River), Paul McCartney and so on. To me, his songs seem to be sort of good elaborated (like a hand work thing). Well done, without unnecessary ornaments. And actually they sound independent, melancholic, and strangely catchy. My favorite song is The Humpty Dumpty Love Song from the album The Invisible Band. I think invisible explains a lot about Travis: they feel that their music is more important than the band making it.

They often make funny music videos. It’s good to feel how they work in good mood. Like this one, Walking In The Sun.

To be honest I’m a little bit worried about getting bald; well maybe it’s ok if I can be bald just like Mr. Healy. Good looking bald I mean :P

Here is the link to their website and you also can hear few songs in their MySpace site.

Friday, January 26, 2007

fun : the challenger

Here in Spain I don't usually watch TV. I always said that Japanese TV programs are much better, and I guess that's one of the reasons.

I found a video on YouTube, the one I was seeking for long time, and I wanted you to watch it. The first time I watched it, believe me, I don't know if I was laughing or dying.

Downtown is one of the funniest comedian groups in Japan (maybe the best). They used to make sketches before on their own TV show and this video is one of them. The title is The Challenger. It's quite old but I'm putting it because it isn't necesary to know Japanese, but to understand better, here is a plot summary: This is before the boxing title match of the World Bantamweight Champions. The introduction to the champion named Higashino and the Japanese national anthem have finished, and the referee introduces to the challenger: Pihyorirenary Boririren (fictional name of course) from the Republic of Hiyakipolineki-sesanamobe (fictional name of course). And then the national anthem starts, which consists of strange voices and it is too long that the challenger complains. That's all.

Everythings is funny, the anthem, the bird on the challenger's shoulder (how is he gonna fight like that?!). And I want that tiger pants. *Downtown are the referee and the challenger.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

art : Letters From Iwo Jima poster

To celebrate that Letters from Iwo Jima won the best foreign picture at the Golden Globes (although the film is American), I just wanted to say that its poster is the best poster of the last year. I have not seen the film yet, but I guess the poster tells a lot about that. It's very sober, fresh and... just magnificent.

Also the poster of Flags of Our Fathers is good one. The motif is that famous picture of course.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

person : Patricia Conde

This amazing Spanish woman Patricia Conde can be the funniest and the hottest at the same time. She went to the beauty contest Miss Spain representing Palencia, although she was born in Valladolid in 1979. Then she started to work as an actress or a reporter on TV programs, like El Informal, well known in Spain. Then she had her own program ladykaña which was like Patricia Conde doing sketches all the time. It was on local TV but enjoyable indeed, without success though. Later she was in another sketch show, Splunge. This video is for Spanish speaking readers, sorry!

The fact is that she can play the classic stupid blond girl. She's clever. Currently she's hostess of Sé lo que hiciste la última semana which is kind of gossip show but there're a lot of cynical elements. I'm not big fan of that program (I don't usually watch TV) but she and her collaborators are magnificent, I'd have to write about them too.

I'd just like to watch her playing in funny sketches again!

Friday, January 12, 2007

disappearing : 05-wild cedar groves of Lebanon

Our grandchildren may never see wild cedar groves of Lebanon. Do you know how is Lebanon Cedar? I did not know anything, but if we are told that Lebanon Cedar is the national emblem of Lebanon, things change:

When I was a child I thought it was a Christmas tree, but I liked that flag.

So, wild cedar groves of Lebanon are disappearing. Military activity and lands for settlements are, once again, the guilty. It also provided good wood for the use of construction. "Only five per cent remains of the once-extensive cedar forests from which King Solomon built the first Temple in Jerusalem". That sentence makes scarier as it takes a reference to a historic event. But the Lebanon Cedar is really mentioned 75 times in the Bible: "the righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar in Lebanon".

It is now legally protected (it doesn't seem to be enough) and there're also the same cedar in western Syria and south central Turkey. The tree is an evergreen and it can reach 40 metres and live up to 3000 years. Beginning and ending. I wonder how the world would be without men. Or is it stupid thought?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

art : Tomoko Tsuneda

The drawing above is the first and last Tomoko Tsuneda's work that I saw in the market. That's the cover of ACO's album absolute ego. But surely it touched my soul, so I searched the web.

Tomoko Tsuneda (常田朝子) is a female ilustrator who studied grafic design at the famous art university of Musashino. She had few personal and collective exhibitions in different gallaries around the world, including New York and Hong Kong. There are many CD and book covers made by her and also she designs T-shirts or other clothes. Female figures are the center of her works but she's currently investigating animals, plants and male figures. Well that's all the information I could get about her.

A book cover (鹿島田真希/レギオンの花嫁).

There was an introduction to her which writes "it's impressive her materialization of warm-hearted and cruel nature of girls, using the good sense and unique colors". So I agree. I imagine women like her art much more than men, because it's kind of fragile figures. But as a man, I find it very sexy. Like the one below.

Thin lines are atractive as well. And it's incredible that only few lines are able to transmit many ideas.

Personality, lines and colors are definitely her strengths. I can't take my eyes off of that dysfunctional hands and perfect bracelet...

Monday, January 08, 2007

fun : he can shake hands from 5 metres

That's scary Australian arm! From a Japanese web site.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

sound : Aimee Mann

And Magnolia takes me to talk about Aimee Mann.

Fortunately the film introduced me to her. The song Wise Up caught specially my attention and I went to get the soundtrack. The Magnolia soundtrack succeeded because songs from Aimee Mann's album Bachelor No. 2 inspired Paul Thomas Anderson in the creation of his work. And two songs were written exclusively for the film. That makes sense how the film and music are so closed.

She's one of the best rock singer-songwriter ever. I'm not quite sure what makes her so indispensable. She looks like normal woman (although I can't believe she was born in 1960!), her music doen't impress that much. There's nothing glamourous, spectacular or even big. However, then something extraordinary happens. She has got her own style near simplicity (or boringness if you prefer) but once you like one of her songs, she's absolutely addictive.

This is my opinion but her album The Forgotten Arm is a masterpiece. Firstly, there's no unworthy track here (something impossible to find nowadays). This is a concept album, there's a story of the boxer John and his girlfriend Caroline, both try to escape their problems by running away together. Actually all the songs are similar one another, Aimee Mann's sign is strong (as always). But it's strange because, in The Forgotten Arm, every song has its own universe. They're kind of melancholic but she doesn't impose you sadness, she just sings pleasant melody line. The lyrics are beautiful as well, just take a look at the 9th song title: That's How I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart (when you wrote it). And all the songs together make great example of artistic expression. She does it so simple but I think it's not easy. Simply the best album of 2005. It never gets tasteless. The more you listen, the more it gets flavorful. If you'd like to, visit to her home page and click LISTEN. You can listen three first songs and read a "book".

She started her career being the vocalist in the punk rock group Young Snakes (1982), later in the more known band Til Tuesday (1985) creating four albums, and she switched to solo in 1990. She was a little bit unlucky having troubles with record companies and finally got some independence. Seven albums have been released in total. She also appeared in the I Am Sam soundtrack, where she sang with her husband Michael Penn the Beatles's cover two of us. Her last album was Christmas season title One More Drifter in the Snow, with oldies influence. The Christmas Song and her own song Calling On Mary were the best songs.

I found a 1995 song That's just what you are. Catchy song. The video is a little bit old but I guess it's watchable. Give it a try if you want to.

Friday, January 05, 2007

film : magnolia

And Melora takes me to talk about Magnolia.

Nowadays there're many ensemble films like Crash or Babel. A lot of different characters at the first sight (without leading character) but they are somehow connected. I think Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia was the first one of that kind for me and it impressed me much.

Some people criticize that it's boring, pretencious, and self-indulgent picture. Firstly, I do understand them. Because it is long (188 minutes) for this normal people's stories. But it's spectacular 188 minutes. No doubt. Secondly, I prefer pretencious director to I-do-my-works-for-money director. It's more creative, and sometimes it works or not. And then people can take it or not. Thirdly, self-indulgent... Well I don't know but a lot of people enjoyed the film.

And we can't forget to say that it's terrific ensemble cast.

Tom Cruise helping men to have sex. I imagine he's very proud of this work.

Julianne Moore, dame of dirty language, finding love somewhere she didn't expect.

Luis Guzman, always there.

Alfred Molina, alwas there.

Charming Melinda Dillon (& her "I love youuu") and Philip Baker Hall.

Oscar winner (last year) Philip Seymour Hoffman, being nurse.

William H. Macy, always there and always funny.

William H. Macy's wife Felicity Huffman (in the real life), then unknown (so that some thought, poor Felicity, she was Philip Seymour Hoffman's wife) and now a desperate housewife.

And of course, Melora Walters with lovely John C. Reilly.

She's the one who left the best quote:

Now that I've met you, would you obeject to never seeing me again?


And more and more good actors. And best supporting actors in the end, ****s.

Regret is one of the most important themes of the film. How the past makes us vulnerable and threatens the future. Also about coincidence, facts, events, will. Before starting with different stories, there's a very interesting introduction. Then everything starts and makes us think. It's not easy film to watch, just like life itself. Definitely I need to watch it again, writing here I realized that I'm forgetting things, although the its taste is still here in my head and some scenes are really hard to forget. Impressive.

Here is Aimee Mann's Video. She's kind of scary ghost here. The music was also magnificent in Magnolia.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

disappearing : 04-orang-utans

Our grandchildren may never see the Orangutans. Their lives are threatened by different things.

In the issue there's an interesting article by the author Michael Morpurgo. Two basic things. First, they are living mostly in Sumatra and Borneo (Indonesia and Malaysia). Second, they are slow growing species (the females can only have baby every eight years - 4/5 in a lifetime).

A lot of babies are kidnapped and then enter to the conservation parks (=zoo) or to the private houses as pets. The second and biggest problem is the oil palm plantations (much of them illegal) which are invading the orangutan's tropical forest leaving them without home. I didn't know that palm oil is important but seems like it is. "Palm oil is found in one in 10 supermarket products from chocolate to toothpaste", in addition, demand for palm oil is rising and is expected to climb further, particularly for use in biodiesel which is promoted as a form of renewable energy that greatly reduces net emissions of carbon dioxide. Damn, not every renewable energy is fully justified.

So, there are 60,000 orangutans in the world and 5,000 are dying each year.

Result: the speed at which we are killing orangutans is outrunning the speed with which they can breed.

Definitely apes in general are not my favorite animals but I have a mug cup with Orangutan and I'm seeing him everyday. It's silly but I don't want another painting on that cup, it would be sad if he disappeared from there. I don't want him to be like "once this animal existed". But like Michael Morpurgo states, "it's not just a shame or a pity - it's about whether there will be a planet at all in 300 or 500 years. If the market continues to dominate, there won't be".

In Malay and Indonesian words, orang means person and hutan means forest, "man of the forest". It doesn't need to be inteligent to deduce that, without hutan, there will not any orang.

person : Melora Walters

It's gonna be self-satisfied post but I don't care much becuase I just can't leave for another day to talk about Melora Walters. My favorite actress. She abnormally attracts me. And today I'm celebrating that I've seen her in a film, but it was a surprise to me because she was uncredited in it. The film is Ridley Scott's Matchstick Men starring Nicolas Cage. She was his ex wife and it was 10 seconds appearance... Shame on the film!!! Well the film was OK, but let's get to the point: Melora!

I am fan of her since I saw Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia. She played my beloved Claudia, who has psychological problem and addicted to cocaine. Then I fell in love. It's a disappointing that I haven't seen much of her films, but I'm doing my best. The another Anderson's film Boogie Nights was great as well and Melora Walters was... I can't find words. The best of that good film. She also had small character in Cold Mountain where she took her clothes off for Jude Law. Maybe Butterfly Effect is the latest major film where Melora played more than one minute. And what else... I think those are all the films I've seen. Just five. But Magnolia is enough to fill my mind. I wish she gets a lot of good roles this year, though. I have to see Dead Poets Socierty (her first film) and Ed Wood.

I don't know much about her life. Searching in the internet you can find that she's now 38 years old and she was born in Saudi Arabia. Wow. And she's divorced actor Dylan Walsh (Sean in Nip/Tuck).

She's kind of obsession to me. And I want her to be paid more attention, to be able to work with good directors, like Paul Thomas Anderson who brang her best two times. Because I think she has got very good presence on screen because, although she's beautiful woman, normal pictures of premieres that I've seen weren't just extraordinary. But her acting is. Oh yes, the most important thing is that she does her work pretty good. So people, watch her films for me because I want to talk about her all night long with someone!