Ethereality News & Weblog

February 25, 2012

Korean indie bands recommendations (Fanny Fink & Nell)

Filed under: Audio & Music,Film/TV/Animation,Latest Works,Photography,Site News — Rob Chang @ 6:54 pm

SITE NEWS:
The latest batch of Kitty Cat Diary entries are up:

A couple of Korean indie bands recommendations:

I’ve mentioned Fanny Fink‘s first album in the blog before, and now here are two songs from their 2nd album, 7 Moments, that I really like:

Fanny Fink – Snowdrop

Snowdrop lyrics (translated by gogoparty.livejournal.com):

It snowed yesterday
The world changed a bit

I’m going to walk slowly
Signs, billboards, stoplights (this trip doesn’t need any of that)
Anywhere I go, I’ll be walking on the road towards you

I want to warm my day and give it to you
I want to warm my day and give it to you

It snowed yesterday
The world changed a bit

You don’t have to promise, you don’t have to be perfect (just stay like this)
It’s ok even if everything fades away soon

I want to warm my day and give it to you
I want to warm my day and give it to you
I want to warm my day and give it to you
I want to warm my day and give it to you

Today disappeared a bit
The world kept changing

I love the combination of the ethereal beauty and faint melancholy intertwined with tender love. It’s as if she’s holding on to that moment walking in the snow, knowing that maybe the relationship, like the snow, will eventually fade away. But in that moment, the warmth she feels in her heart is enough.

Fanny Fink – Hear Song

Hear Song lyrics:

(I didn’t find any credible translation for the Korean part online, but I did use Bablefish to translate that one single line of Korean in the whole song, which is repeated, and it gave me this: “Buys the radio, the ancientness cassette tape.” I guess you can guess the meaning from that broken machine translation.)

라디오를 샀어 아주 오래된 카세트테이프
라디오를 틀어 아주 오래된 카세트테이프
hear song hear song hear song hear song

라디오를 샀어 아주 오래된 카세트테이프
라디오를 틀어 아주 오래된 카세트테이프
hear song lalalalala hear song lalalalala
hear song lalalalala hear song lalalalalala

Listen up
No one’s out there
파니핑크(Fanny Fink) Hear song Lyrics
I’m singing away
singing away
Where I am
Holding your eyes
No one’s out there
I’m singing away

라디오를 샀어 아주 오래된 카세트테이프
라디오를 틀어 아주 오래된 카세트테이프
hear song hear song hear song hear song
라디오를 샀어 아주 오래된 카세트테이프
라디오를 틀어 아주 오래된 카세트테이프
hear song lalalalala hear song lalalalala
hear song lalalalala hear song lalalalalala

Listen up
No one’s out there
I’m singing away
singing away
Where I am
Holding your eyes
No one’s out there
Only for you

It’s just a really cute song, with very catchy melody and arrangement, combining acoustic and electronic instruments.

I was introduced to Nell recently, a Korean indie band (via the big Asian music thread on head-fi.org). Some of their songs are really poignant and moving. Here are a couple I really like:

Nell – Tokyo (in English)

Tokyo lyrics:

The love we make
The tears we cry
Sometimes they’re just not real

The heart we break
The wounds we make
Sometimes they just don’t heal

I think i’m losing weight again
I think i’m losing taste again
I think i broke my heart again
Will you stay with me

I think i lost my love again
Maybe i sold my heart again
I think i’m left with none but pain
Will you stay with me

The things we say
The things we hear
Sometimes they’re not real

The thing we touch
The thing we feel
Sometimes they’re just not real

I like how the lyrics address the fact that when love goes wrong and no matter how broken we might feel, there’s always the understanding that it’s all an illusion, and everything will eventually come to pass.

Nell – “Last Advice” (with English subtitles)
http://youtu.be/ac_dLg-Wp6g
(The video didn’t allow embedding, so please use the link)

Last Advice lyrics:

Be quiet please
Please shut your mouth
and stay in the corner quietly
Don’t overreact
Whenever you do that
I feel like going crazy

While I do you the favor of ignoring it, stop it
If you continue, this is only going to get ugly
Until now, this is what I’ve suppressed,
my very last advice

(A)
Your thoughtlessness
disguised as intelligence
Makes me nauseous
Gives me a headache
It’s driving me crazy with disgust
I can’t take it anymore

(B)
Your sleaziness
disguised as elegance
Makes me nauseous
Gives me a headache
It’s killing me with disgust
I’ve run out of patience

How far would you fall?
Stop, Please stop
Until now, this is what I’ve suppressed,
my very last advice

Repeat (A) & (B)

Your wickedness
disguised as virtue
Makes me nauseous
Gives me a headache
It’s driving me crazy with disgust
I can’t take it anymore

Repeat (B)

This is my last advice
my very last advice

Anyone who’s ever fallen so far out of love with someone, to the point of becoming totally disgusted by the person, can relate to this song.

Quickie TV/Movie reviews:

Flashpoint (season one) – I found out about this Canadian TV show because I was looking up Claire van der Boom. She’s not in the first season, but the show’s not bad. Some episodes are a bit formulaic and outdated compared to American TV shows, but the good episodes are quite entertaining. It’s focuses more on the psychological and emotional aspects of being part of the Canadian’s version of a SWAT team. There’s very little action, which I think was on purpose. The show’s sometimes a bit too sedated for its own good though, especially when it has to compete from edgier shows that really know how to hook the audience.

Drive – A surprising film, combining the subtlety of a quiet, indie drama with the tense action of a thriller. Carey Mulligan is always a pleasure to watch. And Ryan Gosling–well, he’s Ryan Gosling. You know what you’re getting when you watch him.

Captain America: The First Avenger – Out all the Avenger’s solo movies, this one was the least interesting one. Iron Man, Thor, and The Hulk all had much more interesting solo movies. I’m definitely looking forward to The Avengers though, being a big Joss Whedon fan.

The Wrestler – Darren Aronofsky is one filmmaker whose work I follow without exception, not necessarily because I love the movies he make, but because I respect his clarity of vision and talent as a storyteller. The Wrestler, like his most of his other films, is about broken people who could only find meaning in their lives through obsessions, even if it might cost them their lives.

I liked the movie a lot, but the whole subplot with the daughter was a bit too predictable and familiar. When she mentioned the missed birthdays, I almost rolled my eyes. Really? With so many different ways to fuck up a relationship, the most clichéd missed birthdays was the one that made it into the screenplay?

13 Going On 30 – I couldn’t sit through this derivative, overacted, contrived, saccharin mess. I thought it might be something like Big, but with a female protagonist. Not even close.

Final Destination 5 – There’s no other reason to watch this franchise than the creative deaths. After five movies, it’s still fun (I think this is the last one though, since it reaches full circle with the first one).

Dogville – I hated Lars von Trier’s Dancer In the Dark (it was a contrived mess without any logical motivation for the protagonist’s needless sacrifice), but I enjoyed Dogville a lot (if the word “enjoyed” could even be used to describe a Lars von Trier film). It’s clear how disappointed von Trier is in humanity, and in some ways, I share his pessimistic view about human nature, but I think this movie’s a bit too pessimistic. Genuinely kind people are the small minority in our population, but they do exist, and I wish the movie could have addressed that.

Contagion – An enjoyable, fairly low-key epidemic thriller. Soderbergh is an excellent director, and although I haven’t seen all of his films, I’ve seen about a dozen, and I’ve liked them all.

True Romance – Revisited this one recently because people keep talking about it. I didn’t care for it when I watched it all those years ago, and I still don’t care for it now. I think it’s probably one of the weaker screenplays Tarantino’s written, and compared to Pulp Fiction, which came out just a year later, Tony Scott’s direction was also kind of immature.

The Skeleton Key – A decent gothic horror. A bit hokey in some spots, but watchable.

February 12, 2012

Finding simplicity and accepting challenge

Filed under: Books,Film/TV/Animation,My Life/Musings,Video Games,Writing — Rob Chang @ 9:51 pm

WEBLOG:
Ever since I’ve shifted my focus to writing novels in the last couple of years, I’ve found that my life’s gotten less complicated. No more fussing with troublesome high-tech gear, technical glitches, constant updating of software, learning new production techniques, trying out new plugins, following all the latest industry news, and so on.

Now, I just write. My concern is just the stories I’m trying to tell, and the words in which I tell them with. The tools in which I write with are much simpler than the tools I use for creating music or visual art, but the writing itself is actually much harder than composing music, drawing, painting, design, or working on any production of video game or film. Why? Because the story is the heart and soul of everything. Without a good story to tell, we wouldn’t have much to express in our movies, TV shows, video games, or songs.

While everyone who is fluent in a language can write, and everyone who has a half-formed idea can tell a story, it’s actually extremely hard to write a book that achieves these three goals:

-Tell a compelling story that has profound intellectual and emotional resonance, while still very entertaining.

-Have a masterful command of the language that strikes the perfect balance between being functional and having literary merit.

-Despite all the stories that has already been told in books, movies, TV shows, comic books, and video games, your story somehow still matters.

Writing novels is the hardest of all my creative passions, and it’s also the one that I can do on my own, without needing extra funding or relying on a team for manpower, and it’s also the most straightforward—just write and tell the story. No need to boot up Photoshop or Maya, dial in the perfect guitar tone, set up the microphone, wrestle with the DAW, or fuss with lighting equipment.

I finished reading Assassin’s Apprentice (by Robin Hobb) recently. It’s a low-key fantasy that focuses more on the emotional and psychological state of the protagonist, instead of the plot-driven narrative that is more common in genre fiction.

I thought the premise of a prince’s bastard son trained as a royal assassin was interesting, and the prose was enjoyable, but in terms of storytelling and pacing, it was slow-paced and unsatisfying in the conflicts and resolutions. I’m not one of those people who needs to have big epic battles and constant melodrama in a fantasy book in order to be entertained, but I do want some kind of satisfaction—be it the emotional journey of the character, the dramatic progression, or the fulfillment of a theme.

At the end of the book, I didn’t feel any satisfaction, and I can’t say I really cared for the protagonist—someone who I thought was a real drag and whose head I didn’t enjoy being in. If I had to describe the entire book with one word, it would probably be “drab.” The protagonist had no sense of humor whatsoever and was just a miserable and depressing person. As a personal preference, I much rather be around people with a sense of humor, no matter how bleak their lives seem. If a person doesn’t have a sense of humor, he should at least be interesting. Unfortunatly, Fitz, the first-person point-of-view character, just wasn’t interesting as a person, while everyone else around him had more distinct personalities.

I recognize that this is often one of the problems of reading a series—that often you don’t get a satisfying sense of closure because the first book is just setting the stage for what’s to come in the sequels. I don’t think it’s necessarily an inherent characteristic of a series though, because I have read first books of series that I really enjoyed, and today’s exciting television shows prove that every season’s finale can be very satisfying, and don’t have to feel like the writers are withholding the good bits for later seasons.

I read the synopses of the later books, and they seem more interesting than the first book, but right now, I’m more eager to read other books that are on my must-read list.

I really wanted to love Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but after a few hours, I was bored out of my mind. The stealth aspect of the gameplay was boring, and the action aspect wasn’t all that exciting either. To date, I have never finished any of the Deus Ex games, because at some point, they all became too boring and I just couldn’t be bothered to continue. The sad thing is, this franchise has one of the most interesting premises in video games, yet no developer has nailed the execution. If they could just hand this game over to a developer who really kicks ass at addictive gameplay and immersive storytelling (say, Valve or Bioware), then maybe there will be a Deus Ex game I could actually enjoy.

I gave Gears of War 3 a try for a few hours, and I just didn’t feel like there was a point to finishing it, because it was the same damn thing like the previous two games, and the testosterone-drenched dialogues just became too cheesy for me to stomach, especially after having to endure it in the previous two games already. It’s like watching a bunch of cartoon gorilla’s making noises at each other, and I felt like my own IQ was diminishing by the minute as I played the game. I kind of want to finish it just because I’ve finished the previous two and they were fairly enjoyable (despite all the ridiculous macho posturing), but with so many other games fighting for my attention, it’s hard to justify spending more time on a game that didn’t have anything compelling to offer.

On a whim, I gave Shadows of the Damned a try, and it was mildly interesting as a horror game with juvenile, grindhouse humor. But beyond the circus freak show, I didn’t feel compelled to continue after a couple of hours.

After feeling unsatisfied with the above three mentioned games, I decided to go for something that I knew would be amazing. I had watched a friend’s video playthrough of Dead Space 2 a while ago (when I was stuck somewhere without my gaming rig for a couple of weeks, and it looked like a lot of fun. I loved the first game (one of my all-time favorite games of all time), so now that the memory of his playthrough has faded a bit, I’ve decided to go for it.

And yes, Dead Space 2 it’s a far better game than those previously mentioned ones. I’m about three hours in, and I’m kind of dreading it ending, because then I would have to go through more mediocre games until I come across another engrossing game like Dead Space 2.

Quickie TV/Movie reviews:

Homeland (season one) – Excellent drama/thriller. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the whole season. Claire Danes has improved a lot as an actress since I last saw her in a movie. I really wanted the bomb to go off in the finale, but looks like the writers are setting it up for deeper government infiltration.

Downton Abbey (seasons one and two) – I really loved most of season one, but towards the end of the season, I started to notice the cracks in the writing. In season two, the cracks got bigger and bigger, and eventually veered into daytime soap territory in some plotlines. That one scene with Matthew sitting by Lavinia bed–Dan Stevens’s acting was so bad in that scene that I had to wonder if they did so many takes and still couldn’t nail it, and the director just said, “Fuck it,” and used the take that sucked the least.

American Horror Story (pilot) I was disappointed by the pilot. It was too gimmicky and disjointed, and had no suspense building in the pacing at all. I won’t be watching any more of it.

Polar Bears: Spy On the Ice – I Can never get enough of these nature shows/documentaries. The scene where the female polar bear was getting all sexed up for the male had me in stitches. I had no idea polar bears could do centerfold poses like that.

The Sacrifice (Offret) – I looked forward to watching this, since I really loved Solaris, but this final movie by Tarkovsky was a slow, plodding, and a pretentious mess. I couldn’t wait for it to end.

Cowboys and Aliens – Disposable popcorn entertainment. Good fun, but nothing worth recommending to others.

The Square – A slow-burn thriller that gets keeps on escalating until the dramatic conclusion. I would have preferred a more optimistic ending, but I understand why it had to end the way it did. Claire van der Boom is such a cutie, with those soft, doe-like eyes. I actually sought out this movie because I was quite taken with her when I saw her in the new Hawaii Five-O TV series.

Fright Night Superior to the original in every way. I usually don’t care for Colin Farrell because he’s always playing the protagonist while exuding this douchbag aura. As a villain though, he’s great. He should just play villains from now on.

Little Man Tate – Interesting take on the subject of precocious children. It drives home the point that precocious children and child prodigies are still just kids, and sometimes the best thing for them is to allow them to remain children.

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