Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cypress Trees Awards: Best Movies Viewed In 2008: The Recap And Runner-Ups

1 (tie): The Lives of Others
1 (tie): Blade Runner: The Final Cut/The 25th Anniversary Edition
3: NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind
4 (tie): Helvetica
4 (tie): Southland Tales
4 (tie): Wall-E
7: Howl's Moving Castle
8: Spirited Away
9 (tie): Akira
9 (tie): Persepolis

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Runner Ups or 11-15 (In no particular order):

Paris Je t'Aime
Fantastic collection of short films about why directors love Paris. I have no real reason why it's not on the list above except to say that it didn't excite me like those above.

7090
It's a graphic response to the first ever electronic album. Fantastic and available here.

Laboratory Conditions
Made by Coudal Partners and available here. On the way to making a movie inspired by a single photograph, the Graphic Design firm Coudal Partners meet the Black Hole and end up making five short movies about it.

Equilibrium
Fascinating concept. I love me my post-apocalyptic movies (If you can't tell from my 2008 top ten) and this is a good one. My girlfriend would replace Blade Runner with this one on my Top Ten 2008 list.

Gattaca
Uma Thurman just shines here. Jude Law and Ethan Hawke pull off some great roles too. The movie didn't make the list because it seems too contrived. Where Akira is confusing to the point of being engaging, this seems like it's a pretty simple plot but they try to make it confusing to make it seem like an intelligent, indie film. But it just comes off as both a mediocre indie flick and a mediocre Hollywood drama.

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Warning: This list is subject to review. The top two are solid though. Changes will be announced.

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Links:
1, 2
3-5
6-10

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Friday, January 30, 2009

The Cypress Trees Awards: Best Movies Viewed in 2008: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10


4 (tie): Helvetica
Reviewed here.

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7: Howl's Moving Castle
Yeah, so I just discovered Miyazaki this year. I'm a fan, if you can't tell.

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8: Spirited Away
Can you tell now?

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9 (tie): Persepolis
The artwork was fantastic. Where Helvetica is fantastically structured, and I didn't realize it until after the movie, this one is just too structured. It seems like it jumps ahead too far too quickly at points.

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9 (tie): Akira
It's a little too unfathomable to be higher up on the list. Where the graphic novels are addicting as hell, (thanks Matt) make sense, and it feels like everything comes together, the movie is just a little empty. I think they cut too much out of the novels to fit it into two hours, but the graphics are spectacular. They should have stuck to the storyline more and made it two movies or a trilogy.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Book Review: Cadaver Dogs


by Rebecca Loudon

This is the best review I could write of this book:

After three months exactly, the book just met the bookshelf today.

It was in my backpack.

I took it out every day.

The only piece of art close to that record was a CD I had in my player for two months.

The titular poem is the only poem I know of to induce physical reactions in me no matter how many times I read it.

The rest of the book lives up to that poem.

Pick this book up here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Cypress Trees Awards: Best Movies Viewed in 2008: 3, 4, and 5

4 (tie):


Wall-E

This is one of the best Sci-Fi films of all time. Like all Pixar films the story is solid. I know a lot of people who didn't like the overarching theme of trash build-up on Earth, but to me, the story is more about loneliness and priorities and embracing life.

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4 (tie):


Southland Tales

Reviewed Here: Have a Nice Apocalypse

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3:

Nausicaa

Fuck yes. FUCK yes.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The First Edit To The Best Music Of 2008

Best Albums of 2008 needs to include Common Market's Black Patch War.


After hearing him in the snow video, I went back and gave his two records of 2008 another listen. Black Patch War stands above all the hip-hop albums I heard in 2008. Atmosphere and The Streets produced phenomenal albums that really spoke to me on some level. But this...


Black Patch War gets under the skin and stays there. When I went back to it, I realized it had been stewing in my subconscious for months and my return was to something almost familiar. The beats are spectacular. They are at times discordant, at times slick, and always just right: they push back and forth between the two and vie with the vocals to create a lush tapestry of waves that takes me away - back to my hometown, into my future, all the while reminding me I live right now and have no choice in that. From that base I am able to choose whatever I want and I choose to repeat album until one of my neighbors murders me.


The vocals are classic Common Market. For any who was a fan of the debut a few years ago, he's gotten deeper, more sophisticated (Even as his outward appearance has gotten more redneck), more powerful, and more playful. Rather than simply sticking with the beats, he plays around, ignoring their suggestions in favor of following his train of thought, only to come back and start over again. Smoother, faster, better - the vocals are on fire for this entire EP.


I am a huge fan of the EP format, and it's great to see this one step up. This rates up there with 1997's immortal Whole EP by Pedro the Lion, Calexico and Iron & Wine's splendid 2005 In the Reins EP and, of course, Cursive's brilliant 2002 Burst and Bloom EP. Do yourself, and hip-hop, a favor by going out and buying this album.

Legally Get The Full Artlantis V2 For Free

So first, you need to be a student or faculty member. Then here's what you'll need to do to obtain an academic license of Artlantis:

1. Create an account at http://www.objectsonline.com
2. Wait for confirmation from us that your account has been approved (you may call us to expedite this process - US: 888-8-OBJECT (888-862-5328); International: 813-236-7470)
3. Log into http://www.objectsonline.com using your email & password
4. Go to this link to order the product (there is no cost): http://www.objectsonline.com/index.php?cPath=11_99
5. Email/Fax your proof of eligibility to objectsonline (any one of the following):
- Current school ID card
- Current class schedule (students)/class syllabus (faculty)
- Current tuition receipt

Your serial number will follow shortly after you complete the last step.

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So why do I use Artlantis? It is one of the best rendering program out there. Hands down in the top three for SketchUp and VectorWorks. The new version offers support for .dwg and other file types for some of the main drafting programs out there.

Here are examples of Artlantis renders.

Here is the Artlantis website.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cypress Trees Awards: Best Movie I Saw In 2008

Like the racing category, this is a tie.

The new edition of Blade Runner reviewed here. Since that review I have gone back and watched a couple of the other versions. I would still say the movie is 99% perfect, but rather than dropping that 1% due to Harrison Ford, I am starting to enjoy his performance quite a bit more, I would drop it due to the voiceover in the last 3 minutes. If you've seen it you know what's up. Take that voiceover out and the movie is PERFECT.

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The Lives of Others

Somehow I totally missed this one when it came out - totally. I don't want to talk about its style, about its sparseness and how that seamlessly creates emotional content unlike many films I've seen, about the absolute genius of this film. Just, watch it, if you haven't.


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These two are hands down the best films I saw in 2008, and two of the best I have ever seen.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Seattle Hip-Hop + Seattle Snow

Alright, so here we got a little thing going on over in Seattle. Some call it the Third Wave of Northwest Hip-Hop, but whatever its moniker is, I like it. Blue Scholars, JakeOne, Abyssinian Creole, Gabriel Teodros, Grayskul, and Common Market just to name a few of the MCs and groups we have currently rocking Seattle. Huge fan over here in Idaho. But Seattle got snow. A lot of snow, for Seattle. What do the MCs do when snow hits? Watch and learn.

Blue Scholars

Common Market

Thanks guys, awesome work, as always.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Semester Begins

And my first assignment was late. Just a simple poll, and I misread the due date and time. I thought it was due Friday. It was due today. Whoops. The false spring we had seems to be cooling off. Hopefully we'll get more snow soon.

In the first class a professor stressed how he was known for respecting students. I was unsure: anytime anybody tries to tell me how virtuous they are, I think they're more trying to convince themselves. Sure enough, 20 minutes into class, "So if you turn in assignments late or miss class, me and my TA will kick your ass." And he just kept going. Didn't act like it was a joke or anything. This is a 4th year class. Give me a break.

Oh, and important news: I'm writing again. Not just on the blog. This is an extension of my writing, and I update it frequently when I am writing. Well I am, and that's probably why this site is being updated.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cypress Trees Awards: Best Racing Car of 2008

Last year it was all but a tie between the Peugeot 908 and the Ford Focus RS WRC. This year it is again all but a tie, so let me talk about both cars. Well, Actually, all three.

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1st and 2nd Place: Subaru. Which one? BOTH! They fielded two cars during this years WRC: the WRC 2007 (above) until Greece (Rally 7), then the 2008 (below) for the rest of the season. And you know what? They both did well. Just looking at the numbers in WRC it seems like the award should again go to Ford or Citroen, but fuck it: Subaru took two podiums last year, being the only non-Citroen and non-Ford car to get up on those steps, and this year they took six. Six! And four of them were in the same car from last year. Splendid improvement! That is the team working their ass off in the off-season and getting a spectacular beginning to the 2008 season for the Subaru team. Again, two seasons in a row, podiums have been all Citroen, Ford, and Subaru. I root for the underdogs.


I didn't really intend to give this award to a WRC car two years in a row, but come on, Subaru wouldn't let me not do it. They rocked this year. And then they dropped it: Subaru added their name to the list of Motorsports Teams exiting Motorsports. Here's an SA thread about it. I mean seriously Subaru, what the fuck? You run your new car for half a year, then abandon it? I don't even understand the logic of pulling out after putting millions into research and development. Subaru is a brand known, at least in my generation, for RALLY. And now they don't RALLY. All we get for our Subaru fix is now privateer teams, and stuff. That's not as exciting. I want to see the beautiful blue body with the magnesium wheels obscured by dust and flying through the air. Those two pictures above, that is what I love about Subaru. Here's more pictures of Subaru:



THAT is Subaru, not this:


COME BACK SUBARU! PLEASE!
2008 Monte Carlo Rally in the Old Car
2008 Greece & Turkey Rally in the New Car
Ken Block at an airport with his Gen2 Subaru.

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3rd Place: Charouz Racing Systems. Again, not the best results, but come on, just look at it. And it's Aston Martin's first Prototype racer since 1989. And it's made by Lola - always one of my favorite body manufacturers. So in the Le Mans series it took third in its first race ever. Phenomenal start. Race 2? 17th. OUCH. Race 3: 29th. WOW. Then there was Le Mans, where they got beat by Pescarolo and Oreca-Matmut and finished 9th, on the same lap as the lead LMP2 Porsche RS Spyder. But they had an off and still finished in the top 10! Race 4 at the Ring: 5th. Only behind two Audis and two Peugeot's, NICE! Race 5: 2nd. AWESOME! Charouz gets the win here because it overcame its reliability issues to take second place in the last race of the season. There were a couple of depressing finishes there: almost getting beat by a Porsche RS Spyder at Le Mans, not cracking the Peugeot/Audi front at the Ring - but they stuck with it and didn't give up.


This is motorsports, folks. You get a car and run it like hell. When it breaks, you fix it as fast as possible and then run it like hell again until it breaks again. You get where this is headed? Though I have respect for Audi with the R8/R10 dominance of the millenium so far, Peugeot for their big-budget attempt to take Audi down, and Porsche for their stunning RS Spyder, I have more respect for Oreca-Matmut, Rollcentre, Creation, Charouz, Saulnier, Pescarolo - these teams that know they're not going to win unless the front runners have problems but stay out there for the love and adrenalin of racing. I am actually kind of happy Porsche and Audi are pulling out of ALMS: let's see some competition at the front! For years the competition has all been in the ever-exciting GT2 class. The regulators need to figure out a way to get LMP1 and LMP2 as exciting without killing it like the Daytona Prototypes. Meanwhile, I'll be over here in Idaho rooting for Charouz and their stunningly gorgeous car with the beautiful DBR9 engine in it.


Why Charouz? Their team attitude, their beautiful Lola B08/60 car, their sexy Aston Martin engine, their team work ethic, and their team ability to figure it out and pull out a podium in the first and last races of the season. Bravo! (This is starting to sound similar to the Subaru write-up above) Also, now there's two closed-top LMP1s on the track now. Tell me this isn't sexy:


Here's some videos:
The off at Le Mans that they came back from to finish in the top 10: going backwards that fast through the Dunlop can not be fun.
Dressed in sexy black for prototype testing.
Doing some quick qualifying and exciting the announcer with the split times.
The LMP2 version of this body in sexy black as well.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

More 2008 Cypress Trees Awards

Best 99¢ Spent in 2008:


So we had a nice big, hardbound edition of this when I was younger, but I didn't understand the words so I never read it. To me it's an important step in writing, this book is. I can see traces of it in Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Johnson, and almost everybody else who came after Crane. Read it in a day or two.

Runner-Ups:
Diablo II
Two Bowls from Goodwill
Tea
Architecture in Helsinki's "That Beep"

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Favorite Hookah Discovery of 2008:


Mix 50% Strawberry and 50% Raspberry

Runner-Ups:
Leila Travel Hookah
Hobohookah

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Favorite Books I Read For the First Time in 2008 (In No Particular Order):

Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage
William Gibson's Neuromancer - Read it. I did.
Rebecca Loudon's Cadaver Dogs - The titular poem is the only poem I know of to induce physical reactions in me no matter how many times I read it. And the rest of the book lives up to that poem.
Robert Knutson's Shadow Divers - The most fascinating deep-wreck diving book I've ever read. And it's about a submarine to boot!
Jared Leising's The Widows and Orphans of Winesburg, Ohio - He has been a hero of mine for some time. Now more so after reading this.
Rem Koolhaas' S, M, L, XL - Reviewed it here.
Martin Heidegger's Poetry, Language, Thought - The famous "fourfold" chapter titled "Building, Dwelling, Thinking" is definitely worth checking out the entire book for.
Weiss/Manfredi's Surface/Subsurface - The second book by one of my favorite firms is spectacular.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cyprus Trees Awards: Best Music of 2008

Best Album of the Year:


The Mars Volta's Bedlam in Goliath
Why? Because of this guy:


Runner-Ups:
Atmosphere's When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint that Shit Gold
Genghis Tron's Board Up the House - thanks JR
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down's We Brave Bee Stings and All
Crystal Castles' Crystal Castles - thanks John
The Black Keys' Attack and Release - DJ Dangermouse is back on top?
Black Mountain's In the Future
The Streets' Everything is Borrowed
Common Market's Black Patch War

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Best Song of 2008:


Thao and the Get Down Stay Down's "Swimming Pools."
YouTube Link.
You thought it was going to be "Bag of Hammer's"? No way. "Swimming Pools" is two turn tables and a microphone.

Runner-Ups:
Atmosphere's "Dreamer" (it says fuck)
Genghis Tron's "Board up the House"
DeVotchKa's "Clockwise Witness"
Damien Jurado's "Coats of Ice"
The Black Keys' "Same Old Thing"
Crystal Castle's "Air War"
Death Cab for Cutie's "Bixby Canyon Bridge"

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Biggest Music Let-Down of 2008 (Avoid these albums because they'll give you the plague):


Gnarls Barkley's The Odd Couple
There should be no runner ups to this. TERRIBLE. But I probably ruined it by wanting it to be good.
DJ Dangermouse back at the bottom?

Runner-Ups:
Chinese Democracy
Death Cab for Cutie's Narrow Stairs - How to be Death Cab for Cutie: Make some crappy music then 1 really good album, then do 1 really good side-project, make sure nobody knows who anybody but your lead singer is, then proceed to write one to two listenable songs per album and fill the rest up with a mix of ear-raping clusterfucking. (I'm not sure I got the grammar correct there)

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Warning: This is all subject to board review and will likely change over time.

Edit 1: Add Common Market's Black Patch War EP to Best Albums.

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All in all I say it's a pretty damn good year in music. Now biggest looking-forward-to-2009 items:

1. New Albums by bands:
The Mars Volta (early 2009) - If they could just keep doing this one album a year thing, that'd be great.
Architecture in Helsinki (early 2009) - Check out the single here.
mewithoutYou - Please make it longer this time around. Please.
Emery - The EP drumming up support for the new album is quite good.

2. Discovering new bands.

Yeah, so I'm getting bored typing now and want to go listen to some more music.