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Siren Music Festival 2009 July 22, 2009

Posted by ashiah in Music.
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siren-music-festival1Yeah, OK. So I know I was supposed to write my big spanking music post this weekend, but unfortunately I wasn’t near internet all weekend. Instead I spent my Saturday getting sunburned at the Siren Music Festival, which is held at Coney Island every year. Although there were a few performances that surprised me here and there, I pretty much was only interested in Micachu and the Shapes and Spank Rock. Both were awesome, by the way. A few of Micachu’s songs didn’t translate well to stage, but the crowed seemed strangely intrigued. Spank Rock straight up rocked it, although there were too many of his “pals” on stage and eventually security plugged the cord on them anyway.

But let’s get to the surprising ones. Thee Oh Sees (well, at least the 20 minutes I saw of their set) was amazing. But right now I’m not pleased with anything I hear on their Myspace. Strange. But then again, while at the show, I just got through suffering through a performance by Japandroids, so I guess in comparison Thee Oh Sees weren’t so bad. The other acts were fair but not compelling or interesting enough to want to write about them. A really drunk guy who kept telling people I was his wife called these acts “bearded bands,” aka white guys with beards and guitars.

By far the most interesting performance came from psychotic Israeli act Monotonix. They played their whole set in the audience….while crowd surfing. Check out these pics I stole from Brooklyn Vegan (which reminds me, either I need a new cell phone or I need to break down and buy a digital camera already).
monotonix-siren

Stolen from here.

New design, new job, new life…old blog July 14, 2009

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I’m back! Well, I think. Anyway, I finally got around to redesigning the blog. Here’s the original photo I used.

I forgot where I stole it from, but if you’re the author of this picture, let me know and I’ll credit you.

Unfortunately, new layouts usually means coding problems. For some unexplainable reason, I’ve been using tables to align photos and write captions. This new layout now automatically centers images. But today, while on my computer at work, I noticed the layout looked different on Firefox (I’m on a Mac, by the way, and I use Flock). The images align properly, but the text now hogs the image box. Bleh. I might go back and fix the code later, but for now….meh.

I have a lot of stuff to catch up on since I know I’ve been gone for months. I feel especially awful that I never got around to posting my favorite albums of 2008. It’s somewhat of a tradition of mine. In fact, I know it’s freakin’ July, but I’ll probably write one anyway. A short one. But damn it, it’s important for you to know what I like! So that will probably be my next post, and after that, who knows? Maintaining this blog has gotten a lot harder since I got a *real* job.

I moved to NYC late last year and spent the majority of my time working internships and part time jobs. I pretty much had no days off. Then in March I finally got my first job as an assistant at a magazine. My job at the magazine is to write their blog. So, as you can see, by the time I get home from work I’m all blogged out. But the blog at work doesn’t reflect me or my interests, which is why it’s important to keep this blog alive. I enjoy writing about this stuff, and lately I’ve been really missing it.

OK, so that’s my rambling post of why I’ve been gone for so long. Stay tuned sometime later this week for my MONSTER “What’s Playing Now” update.

Film review: Blood The Last Vampire (2009) July 13, 2009

Posted by ashiah in Film.
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bloodcoverI know, I know. I’m terrible. I went into hibernation for nearly 5 months without bothering to update my poor, poor blog. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), it took seeing such a craptacular film to bring me out of my writing hibernation. Oh, boy. I didn’t think they still made movies so mind-numbingly awful.

Blood: The Last Vampire is the live-action adaptation of the popular anime series about a half human/half vampire, Saya, who hunts other vampires while being undercover as a schoolgirl. I’ve never seen the anime series, but I always knew it was a series that had a large fan base behind it. To be honest, most live-action adaptations tend to be hit-or-miss, so I wasn’t exactly expecting a masterpiece or anything. But from the first scene I knew it was going downhill — from the overdramatic closeups of Saya’s face, to the over-the-top violence that wasn’t cool or stylized but just silly and cheap.

Speaking of the violence, this film has possibly the worst CGI I have ever seen anywhere. Everyone splurts big, shiny globs of gray-ish bubbles. And 15 minutes into the movie and the audience was already cracking up, especially at Saya (played by Jeon Ji-hyun)’s deadpan delivery: “I don’t investigate. I kill. *dramatic closeup*”

Oh! Or how about the part where Saya is battling a karate professor/vampire who spirals into some kind of short demon/gremlin thing, who then cannonballs off the roof of a building and sprouts wings. The whole theater was rolling at that one. In fact, if the film was intentionally aiming to be this terrible, it could possibly be the best film of the year.

bloodscene

When my hair dangles in my hair like this it means I’m MAD.

Another major factor weighing against the film was the overwhelming amount of Western influence muddling with the plot; I’m mostly referring to the character Alice. Alice, played by some horrible actress I don’t feel like looking up, is the daughter of some general on some military base where Saya is sent (as as you can see, I’m too lazy to bother looking this stuff up). Basically, the whole story arch around her is completely useless. Her sole purpose in the film is to stand around, cry, sweat and not die (even though I’m sure everyone in the theater wanted her to).

Her role in the film magnifies the problem with East Asian films in North America, which are studios who think Asian characters can’t lead a movie. The film should have been entirely from Saya’s point of view, but instead she has to spit her screen time with a pointless and unnecessary white character. In fact, if all of Alice’s scenes were cut, the later half of the movie might have been somewhat salvageable. Maybe.

But even with its unintentional hilarities, possibly the biggest disappointment was the final boss battle. Despite all the horrible acting, the disjointed plot, the Western interference, the unintentionally hilarious fight sequences, at least we can expect an awesome boss battle, right? Unfortunately, the film couldn’t even do that.

But hey, it could make an excellent party film! Take a shot every time someone gets sliced in half. Or, take a shot every time the camera zooms in on Jeon Ji-hyun’s greasy bangs. The choice is yours! Otherwise, skip it.

Things overheard in New York / Why this blog is not dead…yet February 12, 2009

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(From outside a window…)
Child: *cries*
Mother: Go ahead, cry! Everybody, look at Martin crying!
Child: *cries louder*
~_~_~_~_~_~_~_~_~_~_~_~_
Well, I have zero excuses. I’m just busy, dammit! But I promise to be more active and start updating the blog again soon. First thing first is a brand spankin’ new layout. New layouts make me happy, and sometime they encourage me to write. There’s just something about blue I don’t like. It makes me sleepy and tired and…*chases butterfly*.

I am the winnar! December 2, 2008

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My fingers…they burn.

When I first decided to participate in NaNoWriMo 2008, I had no idea what I was in for. I didn’t think it would take up as much time as it did. But alas, Millie and I is complete. When I first started writing I had no idea what I was going to write. I just started writing aimlessly and eventually somehow formed a story about a wannabe actor who runs a family business with his twin sister stealing psychiatric records from clinics. The story somewhat steers away from that in the end and becomes a bit strange, surrealistic. But overall it’s not a complete colossal failure. I’m just happy I won. Woohoo, I’m back!

What’s Playing Now October 28, 2008

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Gang Gang Dance – Saint Dymphna (2008 )
Brooklyn’s Gang Gang Dance has always been known for their murky, tribal experimental music. But their latest album “Saint Dymphna” is such a unique and unexpected step toward experimental pop. What’s astonishing is how easily they make the transformation without losing any form of what they originally were. They’ve somehow made a weird, freak-dance album without compromising experimentation and not compromising what’s considered pop either. For example, they’re actually able to pull off a grime/rap song without sounding completely laughable. In the same breath, they then turn out a ’80s nostalgic pop track, which is then followed by a powerful manic-beating-girl-screeching jam out. It has to be heard to believe. Definitely one of my favorite albums of the year.
http://www.fileden.com/files/2008/7/23/2016138/10%20Desert%20Storm.mp3″

Marnie Stern – This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That(2008 )
After listening to Marnie Stern’s latest album, I realize there are few people out and about right now that are anything like Marnie Stern. I seriously can’t name one. From her overly quirky album title, to the awesome, rambling intro “Prime,” Marnie Stern shows a fresh view on music that’s not entirely new. The music here is actually vintage rock, but Stern knows how to flip it on its head, adding a quirky and sometimes muddled touch. Unfortunately, Stern’s greatest weakness is her overabundance. Sometimes there is such a thing as having too many good ideas in your head, and sometimes Stern just doesn’t know how to edit herself. Although there were several tracks that succeeded, most of the album was somewhat unlistenable. Sadly, for her sophomore album, it looks like Stern is back to her old tricks. There are awesome songs on this album; “Prime,” “Shea Stadium,” and “The Package is Wrapped” are some of the standouts. But other times the album sounds like it’s tripping over itself trying to find where its feet are. But of course, I shouldn’t expect Marnie Stern to create an album with both feet planted firmly on the ground. Overall, it’s an interesting effort.
http://www.fileden.com/files/2008/7/23/2016138/01-marnie_stern-prime.mp3″

Eleanoora Rosenholm – Älä Kysy Kuolleilta, He Sanoivat (2008 )
It seems like lately I’ve been so in love with Finnish music. But it’s no coincidence these artists just happen to come from the same label, Fonal Records. Apparently I’m in love with every artist on that label, and Eleanoora Rosenholm is one of the newbies. Her music is a unique blend of pop and throwback nostalgic experimental ’80s music (well, that’s what it sounds like to me). But her songs tend to be hit or miss. There is such a thing as spiraling too far off the deep end and sometimes her music can become a bit silly. But even though some tracks might have listeners thinking, “Oh, come on,” there’s a true, genuine feeling behind the songs. So hey, at least she can pull them off…somewhat.
http://www.fileden.com/files/2008/7/23/2016138/07.%20Bolly%20Palkkionmets%C3%91st%C3%91j%C3%91.mp3″

High Places – High Places (2008 )
High Places’s Myspace page categorizes their music as “surf hardcore,” which sounds funny at first, but to be honest, I can’t think of a better way to describe this album. Psycho beach music perhaps? Not since Panda Bear have I heard an album that captured that same airy, nostalgic feel, but High Places does it in a strange and interesting way. But unfortunately, their album is more about being intriguing than having good songs. But they’re definitely a unique band to have on your radar.
(Edit: This album is actually a lot better than my review. I just reread it and realized I was being overly critical, but I’m too lazy to rewrite it.)
http://www.fileden.com/files/2008/7/23/2016138/04-high_places-visions_the_first….mp3″

And yet another reason to neglect this blog October 28, 2008

Posted by ashiah in In the news.
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After much convincing from a friend, I decided to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo, or better yet known as National Novel Writing Month. For those unfamiliar with the annual event, NaNoWriMo is a month long challenge where wannabe writers alike try to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. The “winners” are awarded with the personal satisfaction of completing such a daunting task, especially for the average procrastinating writer.

SO, since it’s been nearly two years since I’ve written anything creative or fictional, I decided to participate this year just for fun. Of course, that means I’ll have even less time to spend on this wonderful blog I created. But don’t fret, dear reader. I shall make it my duty to write one blog post a week. A big one. I promise!

Whatever happened to…your favorite ’90s alt-rock band October 21, 2008

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A week ago I read about the ’90s band Letters to Cleo reuniting. My inner 11-year-old leaped for joy. Letters to Cleo! Remember them? Their catchy/obnoxious song “Here and Now” that used to play during the credits at the end of Melrose Place? Well anyway, I used to love them, as much as I could love any ’90s alternative rock band with a quirky, cool female singer. Of course, my love for alternative rock died somewhere around ’97 when I discovered Bjork, but regardless, I still have a fondness for that period. As a tribute, here’s a list of some not-yet-forgotten ’90s bands and what they’re up to now. (more…)

Megan Fox thinks being the perfect girl is being the perfect guy October 1, 2008

Posted by ashiah in In the news.
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“I like attention!”

An article at Starpulse .com has an interview with everyone’s desperately wannabe hot girl Megan Fox. In the interview, Fox says she gets along so swimmingly with her beau because she’s basically “a man with a vagina.” Ooo, what a turn on! Or is it? Do guys really want to essentially fuck a female version of themselves? As if stripping women of their femininity makes them seem more cool or down to earth?

This trend has been steadily increasing among female celebrities who just love to tout about how they’re “one of the boys.” She’s not stuck up, catty, or a bitch. She’s a “real” girl, which is why she can’t fathom the idea of being friends with them. This is almost as bad as models who swear they used to be ugly. The goal in both these situations is to appear relatable. Celebrities love to portray themselves as “everypeople.” They’re just like you except, you know, not. Lately this same ideology has been surfacing in politics where politicians downplay their intelligence and instead brag about how much they like beer and sports like the rest of the population.

I’m always wary when I hear women say they have no female friends. They like to brag about how they’re a “guy’s girl” and love sports and video games. Sure it’s great to conquer stereotypes and be something other than the status quo, but where’s the middle line? Why must liking stereotypical guy things mean a complete departure from femininity? Fox promoting herself as a “guy with a vagina” is essentially saying women are only good for their vaginas, which is always a lovely message to broadcast to the media. What do you think, invisible readers?

Yukari Fresh lays Shibuya-kei to rest September 29, 2008

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As if this wasn’t a clear enough message the Shibuya-kei genre is officially dead…Yukari Fresh just released her last album “Grrrl, Summer Cape Kid, etc.” on Escalator Records, the last album the label will release before shutting down forever. The news was a bit of a shock at first. Escalator Records has been an important staple for Shibuya-kei artists, from Losfeld to Cubismo Grafico. In the past few years, the label opened up and started letting in more Western acts who dabbled in more conventional electro genres. But seeing the label fold, especially with the last release being from an artist who was around from the beginning, really does put the final nail in the coffin. (more…)