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Here is the newest video by Kara, my favorite Korean pop group. Since I am no longer in the k-scene, constantly exposed to the sounds of k-pop in the grocery store or on the street, I have no idea if the song is getting a lot of play. However, due to the repetitive use of generic English phrases “just wanna think about” and “my love” and dance-y electro beat, I would imagine that “Wanna” is wildly popular.

 

I have always had a love/hate relationship with the horror genre. The first memory I have of any horror movie is watching It with my cousins one Easter when I was probably 5 or 6 years old. The scene I can distinctly recall, though I have yet to see the movie since, is when a little boy is playing with a paper boat, and the boat sails into the gutter. As he goes to retrieve the boat, a clown calls down to him from inside the gutter. For years, I never walked close enough to a gutter to see down inside.

My Dad bought me a VHS copy of Halloween a few days before my 12th Birthday so that I could watch it with friends during my sleepover party. The movie scared the hell out of me – not so much what happened on the screen, as the whole atmosphere the film sets, especially the music. It stayed with me for weeks, both making me weary of turning the lights off before bed and instilling a desire to watch again. And I did, almost every Sunday afternoon for a solid month, alone in my basement. Though still scared, I couldn’t help myself. I had never felt so much emotion while watching a movie. 

Soon after that, my Dad made another potential mistake by purchasing a copy of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining for me. Once again, I was completely terrified by the movie. This image especially haunted me…

And, as with Halloween, I couldn’t help but watch the movie over and over again, though it frightened me every time.

Since those days of preteen terror, I’ve seen countless horror movies, both old and new, scary, stupid, and just plain pathetic (see: Sleepaway Camp 2). For every one decent horror movie in the past 20 years, there have been a hundred that should never have been conceived. However, every so often a movie comes along that is legitimately frightening and intelligent. [Rec], or REC, depending upon your source, is one of those movies.

I won’t go into any plot detail since [Rec] is one of those movies that would be best watched without any information. Regardless, I will say that it is filmed with a handheld camera, along the same lines as Cloverfield or The Blair Witch Project, though [Rec] is arguably better than both of those (despite my unabashed love for the Blair Witch Project). 

Volcano Choir is an experimental rock group comprised of musicians from the great (maybe?) state of Wisconsin. Among others is indie-folk superstar Justin Vernon, the man behind Bon Iver. Though the group just released its debut album, Unmap last week, many of the songs predate Bon Iver’s 2008 debut For Emma, Forever Ago

The songs on Unmap are far more experimental than Vernon fans might expect. The opening track, “Husks and Shells” sounds more like the Lemon of Pink than Skinny Love. Layers of guitar and vocals seep in and out of the album’s 9 tracks, rarely giving way to a cohesive melody, but always sounding focused and interesting. Listen to “Island, IS”, arguably the album’s most accessible song.

Perhaps the most interesting song on the album is “Still” which uses the same auto-tuned  vocal track as the Bon Iver song “Woods” from the 2009 Blood Bank EP. Ambient synths, glitches, and strings float over Vernon’s repeated lines as the song builds to a noisy, orchestral climax akin to the epic post-rock of Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Red Sparowes.

Fans of Bon Iver may be turned off by the lack of late-night heartbreak or soft melodies found on the album. However, Volcano Choir is an interesting look into the creative mind of one of folk’s newest stars.

Due in part to a conversation about Lady Gaga (Do some people really think she’s a hermaphrodite?), and a desire to write more, I’ve decided to dust off ye olde blog of yore. Since my last update, I’ve returned from my 362-day adventure in Asia, already itching for something new. A month of unemployment sounded so joyous when I thought about it at 8:00 am, packed inside a subway train on my way to work, but like most things, the reality is far different from the dream. 

After about two weeks at home on Cape Cod, I was bored and restless. I had been to visit some friends in New York and their world just seemed so exciting. I was ready to be a part of that, and carve my own niche into the city. Back on the Cape soon after, I was once again dreaming of things to come. The most eventful moments of my day usually involved a trip to Borders or a long walk with the dogs. The excitement level in my life had taken a significant nosedive, to say the least. 

The best parts of being home is the reunions. Seeing my family (minus the brother in Colorado) felt great after 24 hours of travel. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief, as I’m sure my mom did. She was never too thrilled about my proximity to Kim Jong-Il. Within three weeks of my arrival, I had several reunions with my favorite friends. Whether at home or in Boston, New York, and Burlington, each long-awaited hug was just as good as the one before. I felt content and relieved, knowing that nothing or nobody had changed too drastically, and my relationships with friends barely skipped a beat since last we met. 

Now that the reunion phase is over, I’ve come to that moment where I look to the next chapter in my life. Mentally, this can be summed up in one word: EMPLOYMENT. Will I get a job? What will it be? Will I hate it? Will I make enough money to live in New York? These questions shuffle through my mind on repeat all day. I’m surprisingly optimistic about the whole situation though. Maybe because I haven’t actually tried to get a job yet, so I don’t realize how rough it is out there (especially in New York). Either way, I’ll find something, whether it’s the job of my dreams, or part-time employment in the Whole Foods deli. 

If a year in Korea taught me one thing, it’s the ability to adapt, and adapting to life in New York shouldn’t be nearly as difficult.

The second track on Billy Joel’s 1993 album River of Dreams is a tune called “The Great Wall of China.” The song has little to do with the actual site, focusing mostly on Joel’s fallout with ex-manager Frank Weber, and ‘what could have been.’ The song isn’t very good, but I couldn’t help thinking about it as I stood upon that very wall last week, amazed by its seemingly endless length and the fact that I was actually there.

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Construction of the wall began more than 1,500 hundred years ago in some of China’s most rugged and impenetrable terrain, and lasted more than 1,000 years. Most of the wall’s towers sit atop the peaks of mountains, with rocky roads and staircases scaling the ridges in between. 

IMG_0251Our hike began in the Jinshanling section of the wall and ended, some five miles and thirty towers later, in the Simatai section. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day and we walked along the wall at a leisurely pace, stopping periodically to cool off in the shade, admire the view, and constantly remind ourselves that “dude, we’re on THE GREAT WALL.” 

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My friend Jake and I met a group of Aussies/Brits/funny-sounding people early in the day, and spent the majority of the hike together. These four were part of a larger group of travelers who were about to embark on a Beijing > Moscow trip along the Trans-Siberian Railway, a voyage I’ve always wanted to do. Our conversations consisted of what traveling strangers always discuss – where we’ve been and where we want to go next. Surprisingly these conversations rarely turn out to be ‘biggest travel-dick contests’ and I enjoyed hearing about the Inca Trail and Singapore, places I hope to see one day. 

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Some sections of the hike were steep, and combined with brutal heat, proved difficult. The towers often acted as resting points, and brief periods of shelter from the sun. Unfortunately, many of the towers often doubled as makeshift market places for local peasants to sell water, beer, t-shirts, and at one point, even champagne. Just as we would reach the next tower, struggling to breath and covered in sweat, shouts of “WATAH BEEAH COKE” would come from all directions. I’ll give the wall venders credit for one thing, they are persistent, and usually followed me until I collapsed by a window, shooing them away so I could collect my breath in peace.

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At one point towards the end of our hike, I stood looking back at the distance we had covered and Billy Joel’s song crept back into my thoughts. River of Dreams was one of about five or six albums that were in rotation during Marshall family dinners in the early to mid 90s, along with Kenny G’s Breathless and Van Morrison’s underrated Hymns to the Silence. I had come a long way since those days, when eating all my vegetables was still mandatory before leaving the dinner table. As a nine year old, China was that country where I could go to if I dug a hole straight through the center of the Earth, and I don’t remember what sort of images popped into my head when I used to hear that song.

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Standing on the wall itself is one of those moments, like graduating from college, or seeing your favorite band for the first time, that you have to repeatedly acknowledge so as to remind yourself that it is actually happening. These moments are rare, but act as reminders of why we often have to do things we don’t necessarily want to, like write an 8-page paper on Post-Colonial film theory, or stand in front of a classroom full of students that aren’t listening. And their memories will stay with us as we struggle towards that next peak.

beast

boned

dogs

eilerts

ken

manowar

nelson

orion

rat on

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