Friday, August 29, 2008

Ben is Back

It's true. Ben Folds has returned with his new album, Way To Normal, set to release on September 30th. Check out his brand new single "You Don't Know Me" featuring Regina Spektor on iTunes. I love it. This album is going to rock.

(Ben is also performing live with the Nashville Symphony at the Schermerhorn on September 7th. I could not be more excited.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Last Samurai

"Nations, like men, it is sometimes said, have their own destiny..."
-Simon Graham

What has brought us to this day and age? How has our world advanced and what has it cost us? Edward Zwick's The Last Samurai deals heavily with the change that brought the isolated nation of Japan into the modern era. Despite it being fiction, the film well illustrates the struggle between tradition and modernism that Japan faced during the Meiji Restoration.

The Samurai, originally positioned as the military security of the nation's capitol for nearly a thousand years, were soon regarded as protector's of the "old world" and no longer needed in this new modern age. Therefore, they became outcasts, isolated from the civilized capitol. Their ancient traditions and customs, however, remained very much a part of their every day life. The Samurai's utter refusal to conform was viewed as rebellion and a potential threat to the prosperity of the nation.

The Last Samurai follows the journey of Nathan Algren, an American war hero mortally wounded by the past; the things he has both "seen and done." He is appointed by the Emperor Meiji to build and train a new and improved army of Japan to suppress the relentless rebellion of the Samurai. He soon learns that his newly trained regiment is no match for the strength of the Samurai and finds himself as their defeated captive. He is to spend well over a year in their village living among these "unusual people." He quickly becomes fascinated with their unique way of life and unprecedented display of discipline.

An interesting friendship develops between Algren and Katsumoto, the highly respected leader of the Samurai. From their many "conversations" Algren begins to understand the "Way Of The Samurai" and why they still hold on to tradition in an ever changing world. He writes in his journal: "I have never been a church-going man. And what I have seen on the field of battle has led me to question God's purpose. But there is indeed something spiritual in this place. And though it may forever be obscure to me, I cannot but be aware of it's power." Algren, for the first time, finds himself at peace in this beautiful place. Living among people bound together by honor, friendship, and love. Is this not something worth fighting for? I would rather not give away the ending and fear I have already said to much.

Today, Japan has undoubtedly caught up to the modern world and for the most part beat it...well at least with technology. But what was the price? What did they have to sacrifice to get to this point? The truth is that the Samurai were destroyed, traditions were forgotten, and urbanization rapidly increased. But if you visit the country today, you will see that it is yet a paradoxical place; a modern society still clinging to the roots of their tradition. It is evident in their architecture: cityscapes next to ancient temples and shrines, etc. Despite the intense "westernization" of Japan, its inhabitants still hold on to the same values represented by the Samurai, and that is what makes a nation truly unique.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Coffe & Congo

Yes. I drink my coffee from a Congo mug.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ellen Foster: The Video Diaries

"When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy..."
Ellen Foster

During my senior year of high school my English class was assigned to read Kaye Gibbon's Ellen Foster, a tragic tale of a young girl on a quest to find the one she can truly call "mamma." As a response to the novel, my class was asked to illustrate certain themes and symbols represented in the story. I, as I did with all assignments, asked the teacher's permission for my group to make a movie instead. She agreed. I'm sure she regretted it. Here it is:

Monday, August 18, 2008


"Good food is like music you can taste, color you can smell. There is excellence all around you. You need only to be aware to stop and savor it." -Auguste Gusteau

So if someone told you a story about a rat, fascinated with the culinary arts, who cooks up the finest food in France by controlling a clueless human being, how would you respond? I say if anyone could make it work, Pixar can. And they do! Ratatouille is by far among the finest they have to offer, which is saying quite a lot.

The animation alone is on a whole new level of brilliance. You can almost smell and taste the food. But I believe Pixar's greatest strength is that of character and story. For that is what truly captures an audience and connects on a more personal level. Ratatouille left me charmed, delighted, and hungry for more....

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Beginning

Well.......................this is me.