Monday, March 31, 2014

March Playlist

'Round Midnight- Thelonius Monk

Merry-Go-Round of Life (Cover)- by Sung Ha Jung
But can we just talk about the level of perfection this cover has reached. Like, I loved this song too much to begin with and now I love it so much more that I want to cry. This guy is some kind of guitar god.

All of Me (Cover) - Damjan Pejcinoski 
I had a thing for Youtube guitar covers of songs this month. I found All of Me in my Real book and was quickly smitten, and this cover is the best version of the song I've found yet.

Never Let Me Go - Lana Del Rey
I discovered all of Lana's leaked songs (40+!) and there were some I really loved. This is my favorite right now.

Crooked- G Dragon
I don't know, is it bad that I'm a girl and yet I would steal all of G Dragon's outfits right off him given the chance? Also this is such a great happy/bad-ass anthem. For those days.

Me Digom Les Glei- Zigeli Winter Quartet
Some more gypsy jazz for y'all. Because you can never have enough.

She's Not There- The Zombies

Nantes- Beirut
Ahhh the vocals aren't great but there's something about this song that gets me.

Son of Sam- Elliot Smith

Salt Skin

Fill the bath halfway.
Water hot.
Steam rising.
Pour salt.
Swirl with foot.
Is it dissolved?
Step in.
Sit down.
Feel the salt on your skin.
Do you hear the ocean?
You breathe and the water moves.
Back and forth.
In and Out.
Do you feel the tides?
Drops of sweat roll down your face.
Feel the salt on your skin.
Lick your upper lip.
Taste the salt on your tongue.
Do you hear the ocean?
Stand up.
Pull the drain.
Rinse the salt off your skin.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Three Books That Define You

Lianne @ Caffeinated Life posted this tweet from NPR Books along with three books that define her (check her post out here) and it got me thinking what my three books would be. Which books define me? Which really illustrate what kind of reader, and person, I am? At first I thought it would be as simple as picking my favorite books, but I realized there are books that I may not have enjoyed as much, but that better show who I am. So here we go.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale:
I read this book towards the end of elementary school, around sixth grade. But I read it so many times that year that it's stuck in my memory still. In fact, I accidentally memorized the first line :"She was born Anidori Kiladra Taliana Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, and she did not open her eyes for three days." It was my favorite book for a really long time, and even though I've moved on from reading that type of book, I think it's still really important in my formation as a reader, and a writer. I remember how much I loved the descriptions in it, the way Shannon Hale would use adjectives or verbs that I wouldn't have thought to use, but that made the images so clear in my mind. It taught me to spot myself using cliche descriptions or easily expected words in my writing and switch them out. I still have unending amounts of love for this book; the characters were so well written and I remember actually crying at parts, which I literally never do in books (I've read The Fault in Our Stars, people). I think I would actually still recommend it to anyone- it doesn't read like a children's book but it has the components of one, which is why it's so sweet.

This book was perhaps the easiest pick out of the three, simply because the main character is me. I've never come across any other book where I completely connect to everything the character says and does and thinks so deeply. A lot of people I know are all like "oooh Holden Caulfield is literally me." I guess Amory Blaine is my Holden Caulfield. What I like is that the character of Amory is semi-autobiographical, and I think because F. Scott is drawing from himself, there are all these little touches to Amory's character that are so real, and that you really would have had to experience to write about because you couldn't make them up. The whole book was like those Tumblr posts that start with "Do you ever" or "Am I the only one" or "When you" and the whole time I was screaming in my head "YES ME TOO". I mean, this may not have been the best thing considering Amory is really easy to hate and not so great a person all around but... I won't analyze that. The only thing I didn't connect with was how much of a romantic he was, but I think that was more for the story and less for his character.

Tao Teh Ching by Lao Tzu
The third book was the hardest to come up with. I knew that I wanted it to be something non-fiction or philosophy, because I don't always read fiction. Thumbs, Toes, and Tears and Outliers were both high up on my list, but I settled for the Tao Teh Ching because it is a really central part of my life. I'm not Taoist, not religiously Taoist at least, but I really love the Taoist philosophy and I find myself agreeing with most everything in the Tao Teh Ching. It's a book I come back to a lot: there's something incredibly calming and centering about the verses, about the suggestions rather than commands, the maybes instead of the absolute statements. It offers a view of life that is very simple and very balanced, and an idea of a greater power that doesn't preach any kind of God.

I would love to hear what your three books are! Comment down below or write your own post and link up!

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) dir. by Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson is one of the most prominent directors of our time: worshiped by hipsters everywhere, respected by film students and critics, inspiration for fashion bloggers, and a dream come true for soundtrack junkies. One is able to recognize a Wes Anderson movie after exactly thirty seconds: the stunning symmetry of his sets, slightly retro color palettes, Bill Murray, and an overarching sense of irony. I'll admit to being smitten by Wes and his quirky aesthetics: in particular I have a weakness for The Darjeeling Limited. And his new movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel, delivered everything an Anderson lover could want, and more. Maybe a little too much more.

The film begins in a made-up location in Eastern Europe, with a slightly dweebish-looking girl. In a signature Anderson tracking shot, we follow her into a graveyard, past a huddle of old cronies clad in black, until she comes to a stop in front of a bust of a writer, at which point she hangs a pair of keys on the bust and sits down. She takes out a book, a pink hardcover entitled "The Grand Budapest Hotel". And so the story begins.

The writer *Hi Jude Law!* of the book speaks of his conversation with Zero Moustafa at the now-obsolete Grand Budapest Hotel, where he got the inspiration to write the book. He sits down with Moustafa for dinner, at which point the film descends into a third ring of story *so meta*, in which we meet the young Zero, lobby boy at the Grand Budapest Hotel, under the tutelage of Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes). Gustave is the main attraction to the hotel, especially for old, rich, blonde, lonely women. We soon learn that one of his elderly acquaintances, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton, with expert makeup may I add), has just been murdered, and in her will has left the priceless painting, Boy With Apple, to Gustave. Madame D.'s son Dmitri (Adrien Brody, avec twisted mustache and attitude problems) is enraged at this, and does everything he can to stop Gustave from getting it, after which ensues two hours of complete Wes Anderson visual indulgence.

The plot and setting of this movie was a bit of a departure for Wes Anderson. Granted, no two of his movies are the same: they range from an angsty prep school playwright to three brothers on a train ride across India  to an aquatic hunt for a leopard shark and back again, but this was the first time Anderson ventured into a historical setting, and even a political one at that. The movie took place in the 1930's as an oddly vague war was going on; Zero, the main character, had fled his own country because the "rebel militia" had killed his whole family, and you get a sense of the government presence when the train Gustave and Zero are on gets stopped by officials. Wes Anderson handles the setting well; he doesn't let it control his aesthetic and plot choices, and in fact it adds an extra dose of charm. 

The cast of the movie was spot-on as usual. Ralph Fiennes completely stole the show as Gustave H.; he was groomed and charismatic and clever, and you got a little thrill whenever he came on screen. Tony Revelori was ...meh. Considering he was the main character, I wished his performance had been a little stronger: his character didn't leave much of anything to remember him by. I liked when he seemed sort of awkward and uncertain- I wish there was more of that. One of my problems with the film was that the only characters who were really developed at all, or even had any significant screen time, were Gustave and Zero. It seems strange even to me that I wish actors like Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, and Owen Wilson weren't in the movie; they're some of my favorite actors. But by having such memorable actors play such immemorable roles, the characters that should have just quietly passed out of the story stuck in my mind and crowded the film too much. However, there are some shout-outs due: Madame D. with her cloudy eye and old lady contoured lipstick was so incredibly well styled it brought me to tears. Adrien Brody as sour Dmitri was so perfect- the way one side of his mustache curled up slightly and his hair was tousled and he stormed everywhere. His character was so well-written and so very Wes Anderson.

Visually, the film was incredibly stunning. Every single shot was completely choreographed and designed down to the most minute details. The color palette didn't feel as fresh as some of Wes's other films: royal purple played prominently, as well as cherry red, but the light pink of the Mendl's boxes lightened things up a bit. The tracking shots were wonderful; the scene walking through Madame D,'s mansion was especially satisfying. Whenever Wes Anderson characters walk they walk with such purpose and turn at such sharp angles. There was wonderful symmetry and some more hints of that storybook feel Anderson films invariably have.

Here's my complaint: the movie was too Wes Anderson. Which I never thought I would say because the whole appeal of Wes Anderson films is that they're Wes Anderson films. I mean, the plots aren't necessarily anything groundbreaking; it's how they're carried out that makes you love them so much. The trademark symbols of his films inspire a sort of whimsical nostalgia, with their contrived cinematography and retro colors and forgotten sixties music and dopey characters and awkward pauses and ironic humor. But I feel with this film Wes counted on it being his film too much: it felt like he played too heavily into the fact that he's a hipster darling and his films are unconditionally loved. The whole film just screamed WES ANDERSON so much so that it became a little oppressive by the end: I didn't have room to breathe and absorb the plot between taking in all the style and design and witty dialogue. Also, the film lacked a certain sense of balance I connotate with Wes Anderson works. There's a feeling of equilibrium in his stories. The sadness and reality of the situations are tempered with ironic humor and child-like storytelling, and the joy and humor are tempered with sad irony and reminders of reality. Everything sort of cancels out and leaves the viewer with one steady emotion throughout the film. In this film, there was too much humor throughout: I wasn't able to savor it between flashes of sadness or dysfunction, because it was constantly there. At the end *no spoilers...maybe a little one?* it was just too sad. The end to the story finished what had been an action packed and humorous film on a surprisingly tragic note that I didn't appreciate. I have to say, despite how much I hate the belief that sad endings to books and movies make you think more than happy endings, the fact that this ending was so depressing did make me wonder why, and analyze some themes from the movie I wouldn't have payed attention to otherwise. I guess Wes Anderson was trying to make the statement that all things end and time moves forward, but it wasn't that novel of an idea or that well executed throughout the story that it warranted the kind of ending that was given.

I have a personal tendency to be opposed to all new creations and denounce them as inferior to everything old. So while I may have seemed to moan a lot about this film, the reality is that it's still Wes Anderson, and it's still amazing and beautiful and hilarious and inspiring. There are many people that say it's their favorite Wes Anderson: it does show his growth and change as a director, and I respect him for branching out and trying new ideas. I believe Wes Anderson is still on the rise, and his best is yet to come, which is promising considering how exceptional his existing body of work is. I also love that he is the star of his movies, rather than the actors. It's something you don't see too often but it's nice when a director gets the spotlight.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

10 Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts

10 Bookish and not so Bookish Thoughts is a weekly meme hosted by Christine @ Bookishly Boisterous.

1.) I watched The Grand Budapest Hotel with my brother this weekend, and I'll have a review up soon. Hint: I thought it was enjoyable and visually stunning but I had some problems with how stylized it was. Also: I really like this Flavorwire article about sexuality in Wes Anderson films. 

2.)Grades close tomorrow and I'm sort of freaking out. Third quarter is always really tough for me, and my grades tend to slip a bit. *prayer circle for my math grade*

3.) I was fiddling around on my sax last night and just playing through my Real Book when I came upon "All of Me" (the jazz standard not John Legend) I really liked it, and  I'd never heard it before so I was playing it sort of as a ballad, which works on sax, but then I looked it up and I'm in love with this gypsy jazz version:

4.) On a gypsy jazz note, I was in history today and had my Pandora on a Django Rheinhardt station and this song came up that I now can't get enough of:

5.) Bombay Stories by Saadat Hasan Manto looks like a really interesting book, and I love that it's translated from Urdu; it's not a language you would typically read translated. I've been eyeing it, and I'll probably read it soon.

6.) I started my novel! I know that I'm in high school and I neither have the time nor the skills for a novel but I figured I might as well give it a go, because why not. It's practice at the very least, at the very best I actually finish it and get it published, which would be unbelievable and everything I've ever wanted in life. So it doesn't hurt to try.

7.)I'm getting chinese food delivery for dinner tonight and honestly I've been distracted the whole time I've been writing this just thinking about it-- oooh also Ben and Jerry's opened today and I went with my friends- we were the first customers of the new season. I got Phish Food and it was an out of body experience. 

8.) I've been reading Brunelleschi's Dome by Ross King and I've been really enjoying it, which is surprising considering it's a book about building a dome. But it's told as a story, not a textbook, and I'm learning a lot from it. The building of the dome of the Santa Maria Del Fiore actually gave birth to a lot of innovations in architecture that we take for granted today. I might finish it this weekend, so I'll get  a review up for that.

9.) Sailing started today! We didn't actually sail- it takes two days at least to get all the boats rigged up and ready- but it's still exciting and we should be on the water next week! It's even better because this is the first year our school will have it's own sailing team and I've worked for the last year and a half to make that happen. 

10.) I want a Laser so badly it hurts. It would be so amazing to just hop on over to the yacht club, rig up my Laser, and take it out whenever I felt like it. It's just hard to find a cheap, used one. *cries*

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Min And Val Inspiration

Today I was flipping through my copy of 100 Years of Fashion Illustration and I happened to see a couple of illustrations by Jo Brocklehurst of sort of punky rockers with green hair, and then I found my brother's old box of illustration markers and decided it was fate. I usually draw from a picture but with this I sort of just went with it. I'm trying to think of a name for him...


On a completely separate note I discovered G-Dragon last night and now I'm obsessed. He's like, Korean Lady Gaga with a punky little attitude and HIS OUTFITS ARE ON PAR. ON. PAR. #Newstyleicon

I want all the outfits in this right now. I mean that Prada fur coat alone is reason enough for this video to exist. I actually cried out in pain when he dragged it on the ground, though.


What You Missed

Today the destined late-March blizzard arrived, and so as usual when I'm stuck inside with my computer, I started fretting about my blog. And eating clementines. But mostly fretting. In the likely case that you didn't know, I've been running a blog outside of this one, Hyacinth Blues, which I created for all the miscellaneous things I do and think about outside of books and film. But I've had an increasing amount of trouble trying to keep the two blogs separate, because books and film are such a huge part of everything else in my life and because just writing about them seems really boring and impersonal to me. So here's what I'm getting to:
I'm combining the blogs.
This one will still be called the Rambling Imp, I'm just moving my other stuff over to it, because it's my blog and I'll do what I want to, hey? So here's what you missed from the other blog:

Some Photos I Took While Strolling Around My Village
Along with some ruminations on living in New England.

Some Record Hauls
The Kinks
Ellington Indigos
Poulenc Concerto

Some Gushing Over Phil Kaye and His Beautiful Words

A Sketch

Some Commentary on J-Rock and Male Attractiveness in Asian Culture (TBC)

A Mixed-Media Collage ft. Floating Lips

Me Attempting to Be the Forgotten Third Main Character of Ginger and Rosa

A Love Letter to a Cat ... (?)

The night we met, 
the ice made lace on the frozen ground.
The snow blushed a frostbitten blue, 
and moonbeams fought the winter-starved shadows
that surrounded us in wait.
I remember your eyes, 
how they watched me as I approached.
The way they flashed citrus in the black.
I thought you would run
when I shattered crystal with my steps,
but you only stared.
And when I came close enough 
to finally touch you,
to know that you were not the silhouette of a dream,
you were gone, 
dissolved like ink into the night.

(by Skye)

A Poem About A Mug

A white 
placed on the edge of the table,
a semi-circle ring jutting out over the precipice.
Coffee sitting stagnant in its belly, 
tasting colder, 
with each sip.
Leaving a stained rime on the virgin white
where it has receded.
It sits there, inches away from my hand.
Nails bitten down, 
patches dry and flaky,
wrinkles beginning to show.
I watch,
from the corner of my eye.
The mug.
So brittle. 
Already lines 
in the places I know it would break apart
if it fell.
when it fell.
My hand heavy on the table,
turned lead with the power
of possibility,
the what if.
The I could.
I see the liquid 
spreading across the tiles,
seeping out from between sharp edges
of ceramic shards.
Spreading still, 
down tracks of grout. 
Until a faceless person
lays down a rag and sops the mess up.
Sweeps the stained-ivory pieces aside,
throws the whole deal in a trash can to be driven away 
the next morning.
But my hand has not moved yet,
and still the mug sits with a semi-circle of rim jutting over the precipice,
and my hand tensed,
and watching,

(by Skye)

Some More Jazz Records

Some Pictures in The Woods That Are Meh

Another Sketch

Pictures From New Years

Another Sketch

And Another

Some Fangirling Over Mirumagraph's Artwork

A Pseudo- Deep Poem About Eyes

I was born with blue eyes,
as empty as the sky on a cloudless day
and as clear as the water lapping up the shore of the beach.

Soon I went to school,
learned my alphabet
and the difference between they're and their,
and I became a writer.
My eyes were brown
and they saw the sky in words
and the ocean in lyrics and verse.

Next, I learned to color inside the lines
and that yellow and purple were complementary,
and I became an artist.
My eyes were green,
and they saw the sunset as a palette of dying hues
and the ocean as a living watercolor.

And when I asked why,
I became a philosopher,
and the specks of doubt shone gold in my eyes.
I learned to feel small when I looked at the stars,
and to seek truth in the vast unknowns of the sea.

So now I have the artist's eyes,
with pupils the black of spilled ink,
with irises of blended paints,
with whites of forgotten dreams.
And only when I close them
do I see myself.

(by Skye)

And Another Picture of Trees

So that was a few months of blogging summed up in one post. These are the types of things I posted on my other blog that I'll start posting here, just because it's really hard to keep different parts of my personality separate. I hope you liked! If you want to see more of this, along with book reviews and film reviews, you should follow me! Until next time,

Monday, March 24, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday- Bookish Bucket List

10.) Find one new favorite book by the end of this year.

9.) Finish the French version of Candide by Voltaire by the end of this month.

8.)Expand my blog- do more memes, use goodreads more, get more readership.

7.) Get an internship writing about books at some sort of culture magazine.

6.) Have charming stacks of books everywhere when I have my own place.

5.) Open up a used book shop after I retire and have it be a cultural hub- cafe, gatherings, events, signings, discussions,etc.

4.) Work for a short time at an indie publishing house.

3.)Do a Travels With Charley type thing but around Europe instead of the U.S. and with a really menacing looking dog.

2.) Direct a short film based on a short story. Direct a movie based on a book.

1.) Finish my first book by the end of next summer. (It's all in my head it just has to be put to paper ;)...)

"Button Man" by Paul Lyons

It's the hot summer of 1988, Michael Dukakis leads the elder George Bush in the polls, and while the over-arching events of the political conventions are in progress, Hawk and the rest of the "button gang" sell their buttons first to Democrats in Atlanta, then Republicans in New Orleans. They sell, as always, to either side of any persuasion, offering a unique underview of the American political process, amoral hucksterism, and a kind of grubby capitalism. Hawk is a gambler-canny, streetwise, full of hungers and debt, beset by loan sharks and his girlfriend's Ginsu-wielding ex-husband. His story explores trust-and trust betrayed; the ethics of the street-and ethics compromised. His story is that of an edgy outsider's strategies for survival, solvency, and love.

The adjective most often used to describe this book is "gritty". There's definitely a sense of reality about it, peeking into a life lived on the streets and at people most of us wouldn't want to associate with. But this perspective is what makes the book so interesting. The book follows the story of someone that I've seen many times, yet never actually seen. That is, I'd never considered these street vendors to have lives as intricate as my own; they simply existed as part of the scenery. Paul Lyons did a very good job of telling about a time in Hawk's life, making you understand who Hawk was and how he felt about things with very few words and suggestions rather than statements. The other characters in the story came and went without much, or any, exposition, only there when they interacted with Hawk, only developed when they were very important to Hawk. For all that the book was described as "gritty", there wasn't any gratuitous violence, drugs, or other such sinnery, which I appreciated- it kept the book feeling real. The dialogue was fast, natural and witty- I found myself actually laughing out loud at times. The one thing that was a  bit confusing about the writing was how easily it flipped between present and past- the present was written present tense, the past in past tense, and although this sounds pretty straightforward, in actually reading it takes a second to register the switch. This made the narrative nicely fluid, though. Hawk recalled memories the way you would really do it, swishing in and out without much announcement.

The real aim of the book was to talk about politics, especially the politics of 1988. I wish I had gone into the book with a little more priming on the important political figures and events of that time, as a lot went over my head. I got the gist, though, and I found myself to enjoy the manner in which Lyons wrote about politics and it's relation to economy and capitalism. Much of what he wanted to say was said through amusing ironies, the most obvious of which is that Hawk sells buttons to both political parties, smashing the other, as long as he can make a profit. He sells at the democratic convention then packs up and heads right over to the Republican convention.

The book was a short read, and very easy to get through- it's not the type of book that needs to be carefully analyzed. I ended up enjoying it immensely, which says a lot considering I've never been interested in any sorts of politics or political books. If you like politics, 1988, New York City, interesting perspectives, irony, and humor, go for this book! It doesn't seem to be very popular (it had exactly one review on goodreads) but I think that's simply due to the fact it hasn't been discovered, not that it's not well-written.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

10 Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts

Quick Sketch I did last week.

1.) I'm so happy it's March. February is quite possibly the dreariest month of the year.

2.) I finished reading A Separate Peace by John Knowles for English class. It was incredibly well-written but it didn't really have any topics in it I felt particularly connected to or interested in. Still, I loved having whole-class discussions about chapters we had read each night. Our class is small enough everyone got to get their ideas in. No spoilers about the ending but right now I'm pretty much :

3.) I've had a Kpop relapse. I'm not proud. But it's even worse this time because I've also discovered Jrock. My life is spiraling out of control.
D=out Kanden 18 Gou


BIGBANG+ 2NE1 Lollipop

4.) I'm reading Call It Sleep by Henry Roth. Again, it's an amazing book but I'm just not connecting to it. I'm also reading The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, which is turning out to be really enjoyable and rich with culture. <3

5.) It's that time of the school year when I have to make my course decisions for next year. I decided on HL (AP, sort of) English, History, and French, and SL art, math, and environmental science. Pumped!

6.) The school literary magazine is coming together, which I'm really happy about- we're working on getting our first print edition out! And we're also thinking of doing a slam poetry contest in April- I know a lot of students who would be into that, and I myself have been working on some incredibly mediocre slam poems.

7.) I'm done with the winter session of jazz ensemble, which means I have my next two saturdays free! This Saturday I'm going into Boston to visit my brother and maybe see some museums. I had a ton of fun at the Museum of Fine Arts the other weekend, especially seeing the Dutch Art Nouveau exhibit and the Japanese printmaking.

8.)I'm thinking about rereading The Cornish Trilogy. It's one of my favorite series but I read it in middle school and I can barely remember what it's about now. 

That's it for now! This meme is hosted by Christine @ Bookishly Boisterous!

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