Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Blood and Rice

Two current inspirations:

1) American Vampire, written by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, and Stephen King.*

I think Skinner Sweet was modeled after Sawyer from Lost.  I am totally OK with that.

I read this today while holed up in the local Barnes and Noble.  WOW.  I was completely giddy for hours afterward.  I mean, come on.  A comic with epic, murderous vampires and a dual Western/1920's Hollywood setting?  Cowboys, flappers, mysterious Eurocracy and gruesome monster violence?  It's like they downloaded a list of things I love.  Reading Amvamp was the kind of comic book experience you dream of--the experience of feeling completely connected to the story, eagerly flipping ahead, breathless to see the next panels because you just can't wait to find out what in the world will happen next.  Scott Snyder has been a hero of mine since Batman: The Black Mirror made me want to write comic books, and this definitely kept up that tradition.  Sometimes my favorite art pieces are the ones that set me on fire, that make me want to go out and write and create.  After finishing this, I just wanted to sit and write for hours.  What a sensation.

2) Jiro Dreams of Sushi

I watched this while eating my delicious homemade mac n' cheese.  As if I could feel worse about the amount of dairy I was ingesting.  Thanks for rubbing it in, Jiro.

Jiro is 85 and is works every day in his 3-star Michelin-rated restaurant.  I can't even imagine being alive at 85, let alone still working.  But Jiro's not content to just work, he is continuously pushing himself to raise the quality of his sushi.  This documentary follows him around his restaurant and interviews his sons, local food critics, and Jiro himself to get at the heart of his incredible talent.  It's a gorgeous film to watch. Slow-paced, sustained and smooth, Jiro complements the simplicity of the food it's discussing.  I personally loved the classical music used in the film, the concertos and etudes and Philip Glass works that highlight the ancient art of food preparation.  

But what really struck me was the work ethic.  Jiro has worked with sushi for the past 75 years.  Seventy-five. Yeah. I haven't even been working as a teacher for one full year, and I'm already looking to expand my career repertoire with more new and exciting job options.  Why?  Why can't I just sit, breath, and focus on honing a craft?  It's said if you do anything for 10,000 hours you become a master at it.  I'm sure seventy-five years would do the same.  Is it possible to have that dedication?  I get so frustrated with the easily distracted nature of our society.  Admittedly, I am the worst offender on that point.  I have this sick need to be constantly entertained.  But what good does that do for me?  Do I really need to 'multi-task' so badly?  No.  There is dignity, respect in working hard and concentrating on a task.  And I'm ready to commit to slowing down, breathing, and focusing.  To working on that constant growth.

*This is a very, very mature comic.  Not for teens or the faint of heart.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dancin' the Night Away

This week I survived the official first day of school.  It was a day fraught with terror, but completed with my own unique brand of reverence and ritual.

The old?  Forcing down a breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast, fighting a stomach tight with nervousness.  From my first day of Jr. High as a measly twelve-year-old, I've been cursed with this near-manic excitement and apprehension at school's start.  Back then it was worries about whether my teachers and peers would like me.  Would they accept me?  Will I get lost?  How will I know where to go and what to do?  Now, it's concern over whether my students will warm up to me, and if the other faculty will be nice.  And whether I'll adjust to the schedule of a new school, whether I'll know when to dismiss classes and where the students will go.  So basically, will they accept me and will I get lost?

The new?  Going to a concert the night before school starts.  This is the second year in a row I've done it, and I think I might try to keep up the habit.  It's a nice way to keep my mind off the upcoming day.  My excitement for the music at night staves off the vomitous butterflies of nerves during the day.  That sense of
excitement/anticipation is basically the only thing in common between this year and last.  Since I'm a sucker for year retrospectives (I often look at every day in comparison to the year before.  It helps remind me of how well I'm progressing in life), let's compare, shall we?

August, 2011.  The artist?  Death Cab for Cutie.

I miss chubby Ben Gibbard.  Come back!

I was so looking forward to Death Cab.  And musically, the band did not disappoint.  It was just too bad everything else did.  This experience marked the beginning of a long four months that continuously and harshly proved to me that my time in Utah was over.  I might have been there, but I was not a part of it.  Last fall helped me understand how expired milk feels--my presence in Utah was also a nauseating, unwanted one, an act in me taking up fridge space in a place I was no longer needed.  And let's throw in smelly and lumpy, just for the sake of the metaphor.

It didn't help that I was so nervous about seeing Death Cab, full of terror that I might run into the ex from a nasty break-up.  I had planned to go with a bunch of guy friends, dudes that could offer a good support system. Instead the only guy that showed up sucker-punched me with the presence of his summer girlfriend.  Seeing a band you love while your friend and his semi-significant other are canoodling beside you sucks.  Especially when your own canoodler is 1000 miles away.  If anything deserves a fail label, that does.

September, 2012.  The artist? My friend Amber's band, Varnish.  Check 'em out.

This year I traded the back of an awkward stadium general admission for the intimacy of a tiny bar.  I think it's a good indicator of my life this time around.  Maybe it's not as outwardly glamorous, but the events around it are genuine, filled with peace and belonging.  Like the previous year, I was walking into a concert experience (essentially) by myself.  But rather than sit around the edge feeling uncomfortable, I chatted with people.  I rocked out to this band headed by a woman who had an intense commitment to music, to her identity, to her life. The authenticity of the experiencewas through the roof.

So that progress-o-meter?  Doing well.  This year has been streets ahead so far.

Random Segment: What's Making Me Happy This Week

On my beloved Pop Culture Happy Hour, the final segment is always a small focus on what is making each cast member happy this week.  And, for the first time in a while, I actually have something that is not the podcast itself that is making me happy!  Win?

Two years ago, I would obsessively watch the True Grit trailer.  It was a sure-fire cure for the blues.

I'd like to introduce this year's contender for the most happy-making trailer.  A trailer that feeds country and funk and snark and gore.  A trailer with history and anachronism.  Mostly the latter.  A trailer made for me.  A trailer made as a precious gift for you.  A trailer for the masses.  Without further ado, I present: Django Unchained.

I may or may not have just watched this five times in quick succession.

I regret nothing.