The Seventh Seal – Criterion Collection Blu-Ray

Jon and I recently watched The Seventh Seal on Blu-Ray. It was my first time watching it, and I actually knew very little about it. I did not grow up on fine cinema. While I did watch some great movies, classics such as The Seventh Seal weren’t part of my repertoire the way Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey might have been (sadly, both not on Blu-Ray.) Neither of those movies are high art, but thanks to my familiarity with both of them, it wasn’t too long into The Seventh Seal that I realized that Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey shared The Seventh Seal as inspiration.

Death really does play chess. The Seventh Seal is a rumination on death. Given my current tendency towards acknowledging impermanence, this movie couldn’t have come at a better time. I asked myself a few days ago, how do you adequately express your emotional experience so as to conjure an empathic response in others that may give way to understanding? Big question, no?

It seems that with the really big things, it’s like shouting “The sky is blue!” louder and louder in the hopes that who ever may be listening may stop and understand the miracle that is living, breathing and seeing. That not only is the sky blue, but look at the amazing mystery that allows us to share in this moment of not taking that blueness for granted. How does one translate the leap in the heart, the moment of joy that one can experience with acknowledgment of the world, to someone who, for what ever reason, isn’t sharing that experience?

Ingmar Bergman tells the story of his own fear of death in The Seventh Seal. A fear so potent, that it is packed within each scene, giving you the terrible sense of foreboding, at first inclined towards hope for the knight, and as the film progresses, realizing that hope may be lost. I’m finding it is marvelous and rare that an individual’s personal emotional experiences can be translated effectively into art and brought to be a communal experience. The Seventh Seal is perhaps, so enduring, because it stands as a solid allegory for Bergman’s (and others) fear of death and search for spiritual fulfillment.

The Criterion Collection features for The Seventh Seal include the commentary track, as well as a few shorts from over the past few years. I found that the commentary track didn’t hold my interest in the way that The Third Man or Chungking Express did, which means that though The Seventh Seal is a fine film, I’m not inclined to purchase it for my own collection. However, it’s very well worth watching, and worth buying if you’re into the idea of having the complete Criterion Collection, or multiple viewings for your own analysis.

Black Love

I was going over my while trying to figure out what to listen to next. My top music picks are similar to what I was listening to 15 years ago, with some additions. One of those is the Afghan Whigs.

Growing up in the Cincinnati area, I knew who the Afghan Whigs were. They played them on local radio, and I heard they were pretty cool. I passed by the albums at the used cd store more than a few times, and I knew they were chocked full of latent awesomeness – and I had rocked out to “Honky’s Ladder” on the radio.

Despite my curiosity with the Whigs after I saw their CD’s easily available in Dublin, Ireland in 1996, it wasn’t until 1999 that I remembered that the Afghan Whigs were worth devotional listening. This I have Lev (of BoingBoing Gadgets fame) to thank. He and I made the long trek across country to Burning Man in 1999, and of course every good road trip requires good tunes. I got reminded of the awesomeness of the Whigs on that trip and became desperately hooked.

I’m still hooked to all things Dulli (Greg, that is). I’ve loved the Twilight Singers, his solo work, and his joint project w/ Mark Lanigan, The Gutter Twins.

Black Love – which I’m listening to now, is still one of my favorite Whigs albums. I feel a need to listen to it from start to finish, every song in order, as if there is some divine completeness to it. The first song, Crime Scene Part One is perfectly bookended by Faded. Love, violence, sex, drugs and alcohol with an intense reverence to classic R&B, funk and soul played – this is what I love about the Whigs, and Greg Dulli.

Just thought I’d share – because hey, it’s my blog, and I don’t write in this thing enough.

Early Burning of the Man

from Laughing Squid

They’re promising to rebuild the Man for the weekend burn. This just all seems ridiculous to me. Of course, this is because I went to Burning Man for the first time in 99, about 2 years after it was last “cool.” I went in 2000 and 2004, and my last burn was really not all that great. It was too big, and it was starting to show the stresses of the population. I really believe that once you get a certain population density, even for a brief period of time, like a week, you’re going to start having some of the same problems that other American cities have. I’m talking about everything from sanitation to crime. The larger the population, the more infrastructure by the Org required to keep things seeming like nothing has changed on the surface. The Man no longer sits on top of hay stacks, and now they have a well oiled emergency services and the risk of DYING at Burning Man is pretty low. Hell, the risk of an unintentional fire is pretty low. They put out the man in 26 min, and it was not fully consumed.

While I do think arson is bad, I find it amusing that Burning Man has been the haven for people who like to blow shit up, burn it, prance around naked, do drugs and give the finger to the Law. Burning someone elses art is also bad. The thing is, I don’t consider the Man art any more because it’s trademarked and a brand. And besides, it was MEANT to burn. Isn’t this just what the over-commercialized, over-run event needs? A reminder of how EPHEMERAL the event is supposed to be? It seems that one of the wonderful things about Burning Man is that the burn symbolizes the end and beginning — it’s a modern ritual in understanding impermanance and letting what’s burned stay burned, at least for the year. Why build another man to burn the same week?

One year. One Man.

To me, it just says, “How American.” This year is called “Green Man.” Some people have called for an increased emphasis on envioronmental sensitivity and sustainability wrt the event. There are a lot of resources poured into the event — fossil fuels, lumber and sanitation are just parts of the infrastructure, let alone what people bring in – RV’s, generators, etc. Whatever happened to dealing with a non-recouperable experience and moving on? I think in 2K one of the Man’s arms didn’t go up for the burn. Did that mean that it didn’t burn and we waited for it to be fixed? Sometimes things don’t happen the way we want. It’s not like the Temple doesn’t burn at the end of the week.

Whatever happened to packing up all your stuff with a tent and rations and water, going out and having a great time with the threat of death?

It’s just crazy.

I’ll repeat at the end of this: I don’t think it’s cool that someone lit the Man on fire early. I do think that people should just let it stay burned and not build another man. “Suck it up and deal.”

Deliberate Consumption – Beauty

Deliberate Consumption is my new favorite thing. So much my new favorite thing, that it really is the only topic I want to write about on this blog these days.

What I mean when I say “deliberate consumption” is that my intention for myself is to make deliberate, careful choices about what I consume. From just what I see in print advertising and total real-estate of shopping institutions, I would say that my demographic (nearly 30, femme, white, middle class woman) is probably the most sought after for dollars. I may be overgeneralizing, and certainly have no facts to back this up, just my own observation, which being a nearly 30, femme, white , middle class woman may be scewed towards what I notice and take interest in. I’m trying desperately to overcome the idea that I “need” something, and figure out where these desires come from, and what the product I’m desiring really does for me.
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Bags! and plus-sized shopping, and good food

Gwen Stefani’s company, Harajuku Lovers, has some pretty funky bags available at Macy’s. While checking in to Macy’s yesterday to get some cosmetics, I was struck by the gratuitously cute bags, but what really struck me was the LeSportsac bags. Holy crap! Supercute Tokidoki bags overwhelp the cute of Harajuku Lovers. The price is a bit higher, but then again, this is better design and more durable (at least, more durable looking.) I bought a shoulder bag for going around Japan in a month. I was so impressed with the designs on the LeSportsac bags, that I purchased a another designer bag for the spring designed by French designer Fafi.
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