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!

Monday, January 01, 2007

one shot : first sunrise

Japanese tradition of a new year includes contemplating the first sunrise "HATSU HINODE". I haven't done it since the last winter when I was in Japan, it's 7 or 8 years ago (well that day my friends had to wait me for a while because I couldn't wake up). Well this year I decided to follow Japanese tradition although I am in Valencia.

I got up at 7 o'clock (which is unusual) and well, it took some courage actually. Then I went on a bicycle to the beach which is of course the best place as Valencia has its beach in the East. The sunrise was around 8 o'clock but the sky had started to have precious red-yellow-orange color at 7:30. Beautiful sights indeed.

The beach was almost desert but there were few drunken people with good clothes. I mean it's obvious that it was after party. The most surprising thing is that some people got naked and entered to the sea! It's Junuary! Here is not Australia! But maybe I somehow envied them because the water was clear and not that cold. I would have swum as well, if I wasn't alone.

So this is the picture, the first sunrise of the year. I forgot how energic was a sunrise.

monologue : new year greetings



I started soberly the new year as I wanted. Thanks for all the people who supported me last year, I wish you the best for this year and for the next year as well and next and next and so on.