Saturday, December 20, 2008

GT is a Must-See!

Allow me to be completely candid.
Gran Torino is my #1 pick for best dramatic pic for 2008.
Of course, The Dark Knight is still my choice for 2008's best action flick, but this new installment from Clint Eastwood simply takes the cake.

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
Are we ever too old to change?
Take one Walt Kowalski.
Recently widowered.
Korean war vet.
A rural bigot, if you will.
He's seen his share of life and death.
Or has he?
He's lived a full life.
Has he?
Carrying a duffle bagful of past guilts and a perpetual chip on his shoulder,
Walt is not exactly the ideal guy-from-next-door; more like the neighbor from hell.
But little does old Walt know, ripe in his twilight years, his life is about to take yet another turn.
His nextdoor neighbors, Hmong immigrants are the catalyst for Walt's transformation. Young Thao Vang Lor, in particular.
Without giving much away, Thao, snidely referred to by grumpy old Walt as "Toad," slowly builds a rapport with the racial slur-slinging 1st Air Cav vet, with some help from his older sister Sue, who softens his heart of stone.
It's a marvel to witness Eastwood's Dirty Harry dark side rear its brutish head, most notably where he points his old army rifle in a Hmong gangbanger's face and demands him to "..get off my damn lawn!" replete with gritted teeth and the trademark Callahan glare in his eyes. Who needs a gun with a threat like that!
In local parlance, "..titig pa lang, gulpi ka na."

A bond of friendship is built.
A haphazard father figure is established.
And a second chance at filling in the gaps in Walt's life presents itself, with Kowalski giving more than taking, yet getting more than anyone can bargain for, in this life, at least.
Proving time and again, that given the chance,
within a hard man of stone, beats a human heart of flesh and blood.
That even amongst hate, love lives and prevails.
A different kind of love.
A human love.
GT is a must-see.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Rat Salad: The Classic Years 1969-1975 A no-BS book on BS!

I have vivid teen memories of listening to the Sab's sophomore classic Paranoid one evening at home, sprawled on the living room floor with side one on the old phonograph player, and getting goosebumps while listening to Electric Funeral. Enthralled, mesmerized, and confusingly frightened all at the same time, was I. I had to turn the record off for a moment, to catch my breath, and sanity haha!

As the years went by, I continued to enjoy the macabre metal of the fearsome English foursome Black Sabbath. The chilling death knells and rainy intro of Black Sabbath.
The intricate arrangements which I, at first, didn't quite understand, until I began covering the band in college, with like-minded metalhead college chums.

This here is a well-written song-by-song account of everything Sab.
It's astounding how Paul Wilkinson even names the various scales utilized by Iommi in certain songs. A feast for the eyes and ear of every Sab fan, this one especially.
This will definitely be my Christmas gift to myself.. if I can afford it.

Cool book! God Made Easy

Browsing through the extensive Fully Booked High Street branch, where time stands still, I happened upon a way cool book, which I feel is worth anyone's and everyone's while. We've all prolly been iffy about dogma at one time or another, but this little book takes the cake.
Poring through the sparse number of pages gives you the impression that it's a kids' book; Nay. Well, close. This here's for kids of all persuasions, of all walks of life, religious or otherwise; all-encompassing, in so many words.

It's the down n' dirty (obvious) facts about the One and Only "independent contractor" (love that term), as author Patrice Karst so eloquently declares. A pleasant read through and through. Dare I say it's a perfect stocking stuffer, or a thoughtful all-year-round gift for all seasons. Goes down easy, and leaves a good taste in your mouth and a warm feeling in the heart.

Monday, December 08, 2008

December 8: Remembering John

He was more than just a fourth of the fabled Fab Four. As legendary quartets go, where the sum total is greater than that of its parts, The Beatles, as we would learn post-breakup, lived up to their greatness, far exceeding their sum totality.
28 years hence, as the dust of time settles, John Winston Lennon is still missed.

Building the foundations of what was to become the greatest Pop group of all time, Lennon, together with musical chum Paul McCartney, formed The Beatles.
Rock and Roll would never, ever be the same again.

John was the rocker to Paul's pop sensibility.
He put the oomph into the Beatles' punch.
John was the scruff to Paul's clean squeakiness.
He preferred controversy over courtesy.
Ever the rebel.

Peace activist.
Rock star.
He was also the husband and the father.
To Yoko, his muse.
To his sons, Julian.
And to Sean.

During the moptop days, John's vocals were the most ballsy.
Rock And Roll Music. Twist And Shout.
Even the ballads were ballsy.
If I Fell. Julia. Across The Universe.
As were the classics.
Yer Blues. Happiness Is A Warm Gun.
And his stellar solo stuff.
Working Class Hero. Love. God.
And his classics.
(Just Like) Starting Over.
Watching The Wheels.

Listening to his music, specially on a day like this.. it's heartachingly difficult.
A lasting legacy of musical brilliance and biting honesty.
As his words and wit spill from the speakers, they send chills down my spine.
And a frustrating tear.
Murdered senselessly twenty eight years ago.
Life, as they say, is never fair.

It's been said that there is no such thing as a happy ending.
Happy endings are only stories that remain unfinished.
And at the very end of Lennon's colorful tale, he only had this to say..

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go.

They don't make rock star like they used to.

Monday, December 01, 2008

20 Of Another Kind

Here's an early 80's Punk compilation an old high school chum scored in Hong Kong, if memory serves. Back in the day, imported vinyl was hard to come by. Your best chances were at Odyssey (back when they were still savvy) in Shoppesville, their first branch ever, I believe. They'd carry a few imported vinyl titles. Pricey, yet essential, if you could afford it. But mostly, you'd have to get it yourself, either from the States, or the aformentioned HK. Remember, that was back in the late 70's, early 80's.

20 Of Another Kind.
Sounds familiar, huh?
Another one of those UK Punk compilations.
Snazzy tracklist though..

Plastic Bertrand - Ca Plane Pour Moi
The Jam - In The City
The Skids - Sweet Suburbia
Otway And Barratt - Beware of The Flowers
Sham 69 - Borstal Breakout
The Cure - Killing An Arab
Stiff Little Fingers - Suspect Device
The Adverts - Gary Gilmore's Eyes
Generation X - Ready Steady Go
999 - Homicide
The Stranglers - No More Heroes
The Boys - The First Time
Patrik Fitzgerald - Irrelevant Battles
Sham 69 - If The Kids Are United
The Jolt - No Excuses
Otway And Barratt - Really Free
The Heartbreakers - Born To Lose
999 - Emergency
The Lurkers - I'm On Heat
The Jam - 'A' Bomb On Wardour Street

Through this comp, we got our first taste of Plastic Bertrand's French cuisine punk, which we found hilarious, almost as quirky fun as The Cure's Killing An Arab. Funny, but I overlooked The Jam entirely, back then. As with Stiff Little Fingers, which would become a personal fave years later. A future delight, no less. Sham 69's tough-as-nails punk was an attraction, but paled next to the Pistols, I would later learn. A pre-Big Country The Skids was overlooked as well. Fronted by the late Stuart Adamson, a different Skids tune, from an equally excellent Punk compilation, The Best Of Punk And New Wave Rock, in Charade, figured more heavily, than the one on this one. Even the exemplary Billy Idol-fronted Generation X went unnoticed back then, only to be fervently appreciated years later.

Compilations are definitely the way to go, specially if your a bit tight on the budget. There's a little bit of something for everyone. And if you don't trip on certain cuts at first, they always sound good the second time around. A compilation's attributes well defined.

And oh, having mentioned the title's familiarity, that's because you might have in mind a closely-titled local 80's compilation 10 Of Another Kind, which got its inspiration from this set. We have our late great friend Dyna Music Creative Director Dodong Viray to thank for that.

Would love to get my hands on this one, if only for Patrik Fitzgerald's excellent acoustic-driven Irrelevant Battles. Brings back those good ol' memories.