Monday, July 09, 2012

Day 1: It is Monday and I have nowhere to be

I think it's important I document this strange gift I have received.  Today is my first day of uncertainty.  I am indeed unemployed for the first time in my adult life and it has peaked my interest beyond belief.

It's 2012 and the world economy is shit.  I have worked, and plan on continuing to work, in the music industry which has corroded more and more, year after year in the 10+ years I have spent in it.  I would also like to say i'm a shadow of my former self physically but shadows are usually skinnier than the real person so that doesn't work.  I'll just say I'm the heaviest I've ever been in my life and if I were to fight in the UFC I would be taking on Jon "Bones" Jones who has 8 inches on my and probably 15 inches wingspan-wise.  Not nice.  The newfound 'freedom (?)' has also propelled my mind into deep thought.  Do I want to jump back into the workforce that over the last year felt like a spin-cycle?  Do I actually have a career based on the 10+ years I've invested in the music industry?  All in all if If i had the patience I would start reading and quoting Neitzsche like a real prick to describe this feeling.  But enough of that for a while.  This is a project of some sorts and I have to outline my goals., so here goes it.

* Drop down in weight-classes.  I'd like to drop from Jon Jones, past Anderson Silva, to a a catchweight around Georges St. Pierre.  To translate, I gotta lose at least 25 pounds.  I'm going to be going to the gym every day Monday thru Friday and hopefully sprinkle in some outdoor activities in a week or so when my endurance is up.  I'd love to surf if I can but I'm thinking running on the beach is a positive first step.

* Cook, and cook more.  I have the time now to make meals and I want to grow my arsenal in the culinary department.  I'm not half-bad I think, I mean I sure as shit can eat.  I can make fatty mexican food like nobodies business but that isn't ideal.  This week I will make Cacio E Pepe and then hopefully the week after I can share it with my madame Jennifer.  If I can handle this accordingly the good news is I'll be saving money and making healthier food...not bad.

* Spruce up my home.  I live in a HOME, I actually OWN something, so why haven't I taken ownership and organized what needs to be organized, hang up framed pictures, and make this place sparkle and shine?  I know why, but now I have the time and need to make it happen.

*  Be Creative.  I have a few projects I've spent hours and hours on...the problem is those hours have always been long thoughts and day dreams.  I need to buckle down and at least make a few baby steps at first.  From there I'm hoping I'll see some sort of finish line in the distance and at least get something out there.

*  Focus.  This is easily one of my greatest weaknesses.  I can't focus for the life of me and with this much time on my hands I could easily lose my mind.  I can't allow that to happen.

Those are my goals for now.  My last goal is to use time wisely so i'm not going to dwell on this.  30 minutes a post max.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Beautiful Cinema and DRIVE

I finally had the chance to see DRIVE over the weekend. Originally I wanted to see it in the theater but I'm not much of a movie-goer anymore. I have faith in Ryan Gosling in a 'serious role' and feel as a homegrown Angelino I have to check out a movie all about my home. Trying to coordinate a movie screening in my household is nearly impossible so I put the movie on alone around 12:30am Friday eve (Sat really) while it was all quiet all over the city. The result is easily one of the best films I've seen in years.

At points in my life, out of nowhere, a movie has struck a chord that resonates and sends me deep into thought. Like an amazing album or a great book, it can change perspective on how I view things. Looking back, I also find it interesting that I usually see these movies in the wee hours of the evening in solitude. My favorite part of many days is when it's late, dark and quiet and it's just me and my thoughts. Don't get me wrong though, I talk too much and love the company of others, but 'my time' has always been when the rest of the world sleeps. I remember being a rambunctious teen and seeing 'Fight Club' and being mesmerized. Arguably my favorite movie of all time (certainly horror movie), the original Dawn Of The Dead, I saw on IFC at around 2am while in middle school. It was polarizing, it was frightening, and it scared the shit out of me for years to come. Another key piece to this puzzle is all these movies have great music. Closing 'Fight Club' with The Pixes "Where Is My Mind?" was beautiful and perfect. 'Dawn of the Dead's simple oddball 70's electronic sounds defined eerie. Music can compliment anything exquisitely and a good movie will always do that.

Enter DRIVE. I absolutely loved the cinematography, the music, the acting, and the storyline. Driver doesn't waste words and Carey Mulligan perfectly portrays a wounded sorta-single mom. Your mob villains are believable as are the sorry petty criminals. The execution of each scene makes the story very believable and the only plot hole I can dwell on are "what are detectives doing with all these killings?" So you have a great story that would be fine on it's own so how do you compliment it? Cinematography and music of course. The shots in the movie are very well executed and the driving scenes are great. It's hard to make driving in Los Angeles romantic but luckily homeboy doesn't hit any traffic. The lack of dialogue in scenes between Driver and Irene make the actors act through their locked eyes which always tells a story. Blossoming love is all about a feeling which may come from dialogue but at times can be beautifully unspoken. Long shots and slow motion are used perfectly, especially when complimented by a stellar soundtrack. Cliff Martinez's (ex-RHCP) subtle score lends to the picture but the true beauty comes from great retro laced nu-disco tracks from Desire, Kavinsky, and College. The songs play in their entirety for the most part which shows the respect for the songs but also helps stylize the movie. I love when I'm introduced to great music in a movie but in this case I wasn't. I'm quite familiar with these artists and never could I envision such a great use of their songs. It is simply beautiful and resonates well past the end credits.

Any movie that blends a solid story and acting with great cinematography and exquisite music is sure to send me into days of thought and hopes for more. DRIVE is that movie for me. Stay up late, relax yourself, put in the movie and enjoy.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Albums Of The Year; 2011

Every December I take some time out of my (not so) busy day to look back at albums that I would consider my own 'Albums Of The Year'. I use a few factors in making my list so it's not just some jerkoff "i hope people will think this is cool" addition to the blogosphere. My #1 album is always the album that I truly listened to the most throughout the year and 'craved' listening to at times. I find it therapeutic doing a list and don't really expect to sway folks but some people read this. With Spotify taking over this year the least you can do is listen to a few of em.

Due to my lack of time and patience i'm not going the full length of writing a full out blurb for everything and i really can't definitively do a 1 - 20.

#1 Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo
This is just an amazing album from start to finish. Kurt teamed up with a solid producer (John Agnell0) and finally made an album that ties together his great ideas with solid songs. I played the shit out of this album and will continue to do so for years to come. This album is so solid that upon catching Kurt live on his first run of shows after it's release I had to leave after 5 songs. It just wasn't going to be the album, it was late, i've seen him before, and i rather just keep it as lovely as I want to. Smoke Ring is a hit from the 'constant hitmaker'

#2 EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints
Out of nowhere comes an album that sounds great and is so lyrically honest you have to give credit where credit is due. I couldn't put this album down, had the chance to talk about this album with Erika and realized she poured her insides into making this album and wasn't going to give further details. It's harshly beautiful.

#3 Javelin - Canyon Candy
This album came out of nowhere for me. I bought it in 'button' form (WTF, lookey here) because i was interested in the technology and had heard of the group. What a buy. It's a genius album. It's a concept album around the West (and Westerns) and includes redone/remixed versions of Slim Whitman and some other old timey country folk. I can't say much else about this album, but I love it and love the vibe I get from it.


#Cults - Cults
Great debut from a group I enjoy very much for many reasons. A great pop record.

#Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi
Beautiful eerie album with exquisite guitar playing and singing from Anna.

#Cold Cave - Cherish The Light Years
#Austra - Feel It Break
#Prurient - Bermuda Drain
These 3 acts toured extensively together and in 2011 released defining albums. Great stuff for what they do and infectious.

#Frank Ocean - Nostalgia, ULTRA
Great sample based hip-hop mixtape. Sampling "Hotel California" is a quick way to my heart.

#Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise
Out of obscurity comes a nice mix of Massive Attack and DJ Shadow. Great Electronic music.

#Metronomy - The English Riviera
An easy listen and Metronomy's finest album that finally puts all the pieces together.

#Mastodon - The Hunter
Great Metal album, the best album from Mastodon and the first I love.

#The Descendants - OST
Hawaiian compilation that I love as I spent most of November having the time of my life in Hawaii.

#High Places - Original Colors
I cannot stop loving High Places and want them to continue to put out music.

#Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
A deep album of great songs and one persons struggle to find normalcy. Emerging from drug addiction and a Jonestown like upbringing this is why artists are unique and make wonderful art.

#Elite Gymnastics - Ruin
Throw me back to The Hacienda, great stuff.

#Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie XX - We're New Here
It's like a mellow mix-tape from GSH's XL album. I put this on when I'm on a plane or I want to relax. Mellow mix and Jamie XX is a true talent.

#Africa Hitech - 93 Million Miles
"Out In The Streets" is the track but this dubstep album is a great part of the fizzling genre.

#Crystal Antlers - Two-Way Mirror
Self released gem from my friends, 'the hipster Mars Volta' Artwork by Raymond Pettibon only makes me love it more.

#Glasvegas - Euphoric Heartbreak
This band is great when they put out music, the rest of their lives are catastrophes.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Octagon steps into your living room. UFC on FX 1: January 20, 2011

2012; Is this the year UFC becomes widely accepted? Will Mixed Martials Arts be deemed a sport fit for everyone? I don't know, but UFC on FX1 was a giant fist knocking on America's door. The message is clear; the UFC has landed and fighters are coming from far and wide to compete in the highest level of mixed martial arts. From here on out your shots are limited and to impress you must entertain. The Nashville card featured countless UFC debuts from hungry fighters clawing at a spot on the roster along with a handful of UFC mainstays.

Fuel TV took the honors of showcasing the undercard and struck TV gold. Knockouts, Submissions and even a human drama. During the pre-show commentary veteran UFC bruiser Stephan Bonner told the fans what they might not already know, they are lucky. 6 hours of fighting on cable TV, all 10 bouts of the evening. No other sport goes to the lengths to feed the fanatical fans and on Friday night everybody was happy.

In the first bout it only took 22 seconds for bantamweight Canadian Nick Denis to use a rare tool, clinch elbows, to knock out Joseph Sandoval. Sandoval got stormed early and Denis showed killer instinct not allowing Sandoval to recover from the first hard shot he took. This bout is the closest to a re-enactment of playing the UFC Undisputed video game on easy. It doesn't get much better than that and Denis, in his UFC debut, took home the 'knockout of the night' bonus which gave him an extra $45,000. In one evening he surpassed the median income for an American household according to the US Census* And yes I know he's Canadian and he passed their median too.

All this comes in the shadow of a flawed yet scathing report from ESPN's Outside The Lines. In a story that broke right after UFC Rio 2, the UFC were accused of taking advantage of 'show openers' with low pay and unfavorable contracts. Yet after Friday's program, what up-and-coming fighter wouldn't PAY to be part of the organization. The UFC is still developing and Friday's show proved their is a wealth of talent out there lining up to compete and more importantly fight.

The next two bouts showcased why age and experience still have a spot in MMA. 2 veterans (Daniel Pineda and Fabricio Camoes) submit two previously undefeated fighters (Pat Schilling and Tommy Hayden) within the first round. The two fights were quick but they were high level and entertaining.

Next up featured the return of Charlie Brenneman, who last year became a fan favorite when on two days notice he stepped up in his hometown as a heavy underdog and beat rising star Rick Story. Sadly the could-be Cinderella story was cut short in his next fight when Anthony "Cookie Crumble" Johnson head kicked him out of consciousness in his next bout. The fans still love him and Friday night in Nashville he took on the tough Daniel Roberts. Their is not a lot of flash in Brenneman's game but his hard work and constant energy makes him a fun guy to root for. In a 3 round decision Brenneman took home the win and he'll return to the gym to keep on developing his skills.

It's said "never leave it in the hands of the judges" and there is more to that statement than you may think. The UFC's new deal with FOX provides mixed martial arts with an avenue into America's living room. It's an opportunity that cannot be squandered. On May 31, 2008 CBS took a chance on mixed martial arts and presented "EliteXC Primetime." The card was headlined by YouTube brawler Kimbo Slice. The result was a total letdown and it must have been embarrassing for everybody at CBS and probably the whole sport. The card was excruciatingly long, their was 'poke in the eye' no-contest, and the main event was a total bust. Slice won against a real jobber in James Thompson by way of questionable knockout and in the post-fight interview he was so exhausted he could barely stand let alone answer questions. Slice was humbled and never recovered. His looks and attitude make him a scary guy, but all those muscles require a lot of oxygen, and any fighter will tell you that is not a good thing. Perhaps Kimbo should take the reverse route of Brock Lesnar and call up Vince McMahon. In the UFC's presentation of mixed martial arts to the masses they are being very smart. UFC on FOX in November was a clearly calculated simple formula. One hour for one fight between two heavyweights for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. You just knew there was no chance the judges would have to render a decision. Two towering titans throwing leather. When you have an attentive audience you must deliver and the UFC is going to require not only winning but putting on a show. Winning 3 straight is a huge feat in top level MMA, but if you do in a boring fashion then you aren't helping yourself. A prime example came later on the UFC on FX main card when Mike Easton defeated Jared Papazian in a forgettable match. The 3 judges cageside gave the match to Easton but i'm sure the judgmental fans could care less. Luckily this was the only dud of the night and in retrospect that is amazing for a 10 bout bill.

The 5th preliminary bout of the night was a tongue twister for the announcers. Kamal Shalorus of Iran vs Khabib Nurmagomedov or Russia. Shalarous is a late blooming veteran who was dominated by the young unknown Sambo technician Nurmagomedov. The pace was fast and Shalarous was lucky to survive the first round after being knocked on his back by a counter left hook. Yet the veteran recovered, but never fully and was finally submit via rear-naked choke in the third round.

At this point there was only one fight left to go and this preliminary card was turning out to be far more entertaining than most other promotions main cards. Making the headline bout even more exciting was the fact that Jorge Rivera had announced a day earlier that this would be his last fight in the Octagon and in the sport. 15 times he had entered UFC's Octagon and in his career he has fought the likes of Anderson Silva, Rich Franklin, Chris Leben, Michael Bisping, and the list goes on. His opponent was Eric Shaffer who had fought 9 times in the UFC dating back to 2006 but had never put together enough wins against the right opponents. It was clear the fans wanted Rivera's swan song to be special. In a Hollywood like ending Rivera first found himself defending off his back against Shaffer's onslaught. But after being reset on their feet in round 2 Rivera bloodied and slowed Shaffer before landing consecutive hard shots to force the 'best in the business' Herb Dean to stop the fight. Jorge Rivera was overcome with emotion and walked to the center of the octagon, kissed the mat, and waved goodbye. In a statement at the press conference Rivera explained his decision to retire was mainly due to his age but also the caliber of young guys coming up the ranks in the UFC. He called them "no joke."

In the opening bout on FX, two heavyweights in do-or-die situations battled it out in a grueling bout. Christian Morecraft had never made and octagon statement and Pat Barry had been knocked down (and usually choked out) in any attempt at toppling a name. The bout opened stuffy and cagey for 2 minutes until the men slowed to put on a show. Barry and Morecraft exchanged blows until Pat Barry slipped a punch and threw a bomb left hook to knockdown and out Christian Morecraft. The big man tumbled and Barry laid on powerful shots until Morecraft was out. Almost as entertaining was the post-fight interview in which Barry apologized for being a common choke victim in the Octagon. Props to Barry for realizing not many pundits had much faith. Yet the showing lands Barry back in 'big fight contention' as it's lovely to say.

After the Easton-Papazian snoozer came solid action. Duane 'Bang' Ludwig fresh off finally getting credit for UFC's 'fastest knockout' stepped in with 44 fight veteran and 'honorary Diaz brother' Josh Neer. Neer had signed with the UFC an unheard of four times...four times! Ludwig seemed to have the upper hand in the first few exchanges showcasing his Muay Thai skills with powerful knees to the body. Neer was swollen and bloodied until he found gold in Ludwig's exposed neck. Neer sunk in an elbow high choke that didn't even give Ludwig enough time to finish tapping out before he was passed out. Neer, a true mixed martial, artist calmly notified Josh Rosenthal his opponent was out the bout was stopped 3 minutes into the first round. Neer is going to be fun to watch, again.

Finally, the headliners made their way to the cage to end a great night for the sport, FOX, and the UFC. Jim Miller and Melvin Guillard are two high ranking lightweights hoping to 'get back into the title picture.' In his last bout the humble Jim Miller was humbled by Ben Henderson who is now in training to face the champ Frankie Edgar. Likewise Guillard's last fight was over in under a minute after he was caught charging into a Joe Lauzon punch and then quickly submit. Both men needed a win. At the opening it was Guillard piling on pressure and throwing a lot of flying knees. He certainly hurt Miller but not enough. Miller is a fighter who keeps on fighting and is still dangerous when hurt. Guillard's mistake was giving up his back and even standing Miller was able to lock in a rear-naked choke. Guillard's weakness is his submission defense and it's something he needs to really work on. In 2012, a successful UFC fighter needs to recognize that their weakness will be exploited by any headlining fighter. You can no longer get by with only your strength, you can no longer be one-dimensional.

You could not have asked for more in the first real event put together by FOX and the UFC. The 2012 schedule is slowly coming together and the stakes have been raised. In the next two weeks their is another dose of free fights on FOX proper with Evans Vs. Davis and then Super Saturday in Las Vegas with Nick Diaz vs. Carlos Condit on PPV. Let's hope the big names watched Friday's fights in Nashville and got the message that mediocrity won't be a step forward. Evans has to impress or the masses will call for Dan Henderson vs. Bones Jones. Georges St. Pierre may stay injured if Nick Diaz does to Carlos Condit what he did to BJ Penn. It's a new year and a new era for mixed martial arts and an even better time to be a fight fan.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

2 years of silence

I haven't posted a blog post in 2 years and instead of creating a new blog for bullshit i'm just going to kick this one back up again. Hopefully more to come.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

This blog is changing.

Just letting you know. I don't have any fans so......this is now like my live journal or some shit. You're warned.