Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Life is Short - Live Your Dream!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Juliana Hatfield Three - Become What You Are (1993)

Feminist Power Pop Rock from the 90's!

Juliana Hatfield Three’s 1993 album "Become What You Are" falls into the Alternative Nation / 120 Minutes marketing category (tip #1 to media empires: know your target audience) of the 90’s era. The style is "alternative power pop rock," or pop music with more of the belligerence and hard edge of rock, to which Hatfield adds her own take. The result is a lot like PJ Harvey & KD Lang - a woman vocalist/ musician who takes on the trappings of traditionally male-dominated rock music, and subverts them, exposing personal frailties using riffs and poses usually used to blow up imagined strengths.

Songs like the hit "Spin the Bottle" and "My Sister" are like glimpses into the private life of a unsettled young woman for whom every day is simply a struggle to survive on her own terms and to be acknowledged for herself. Respect as an individual is as important to Hatfield it seems. as songs like "Supermodel" and "A Dame With a Rod" attest - the message being that this is not just another pretty face, so you had damn well better not try to treat her like one, and it’d be a pretty good idea if you didn’t treat any woman like one, and an even better idea if every woman was willing to stand up for the respect she deserved. The very title of the album, “Become What You Are” is a call to action: recognize your self-worth, Hatfield says, and don’t let anything stop you from realizing your potential.

At the same time, she doesn’t lie and say that this is easy, but shows the personal demons against which she fights to become what she is. I don’t know what the "official" riot grrl take is on Hatfield -- whether she might be too pop or not -- but it seems to me like her record is right in line with their street-level feminist agenda, and perhaps even more accessible on a musical level. Hatfield’s voice is still a bit rough, but it works -- this isn’t meant to be polished pop, after all, and with the instrumentation around her voice, you hardly notice the minor flaws. This was probably one of the better records of the 1993 summer and strongly recommended.

Free Mp3 Download - 64.82 MB Single Zipped Folder – SendSpace Link

THIS IS A NON-COMMERCIAL FAN MIXTAPE. IF YOU LIKE WHAT YOU HEAR, PLEASE BUY THE ARTISTS ORIGINAL MUSIC. You can buy original CDS/DVDs & Mp3s at Emusic, Amazon, Itunes, other online stores or your nearest music retailer. Juliana Hatfield's official website is here!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Balls of the Rich & Famous

Not the Balls you Think!!
Twice or thrice a year I experience an extravagant taste of the kind of glamorous celebrity parties that will sweep any mortal soul off its feet. More when I travel abroad. I would be treacherous to my generous host if I tell you where I went or what I did but I can at least say that this party, almost an institution in swanky Singapore, underwent a transformation this year, after one of the regular big-time sponsors pulled out under rather acrimonious circumstances and a new online startup (flush with VC money) took its place.

Regarded as snobby by many of town’s rich and famous, who were put off by the increase of wannabe third-pagers who seemed to frequent the ball in years gone by, elbowing out all but the very persistent, this year's guest list reflected the kind of a refined cosmopolitan Singaporean diversity, though it was still, by its very nature, expat-centric. A guest near me quipped that the women looked far better than this time, as the previous sponsor seemed to favour outfits made from the curtains and bedsheets!!

My host was in some sort of velvety ball gown with back corset lacing and a rather shoddy tiara. She seemed to be in a fetid mood, perhaps due to the hassle of organizing the party, but more likely due to the fact that the ex-sponsor was present, at the invitation of some other VIP guest.

The MC at this affair – an Englishman obviously seemed disinterested. He should have been a star in his heydays but now he appeared like a shadow of his former self, in a new rainbow colored coat, which made him look a little bit like a circus clown. He was on a hectic schedule or so I was told – apparently he had just got back from some Film Festival in Europe, where he had supposedly chatted to Angelina Jolie or so he told.

I was sitting next to one hot brunette, who was so gorgeous one couldn't stop staring at those big star-like eyes and perfect playboy like features, balanced by a trademark wine-red dress which was an exercise in fashion excessiveness. Her husband (a spouty, balding Banker or Diplomat) started getting a little edgy when the whole table which consisted of (myself and my friend, his brunette wife, a Swedish expat and his pretty Eurasian partner, a friend of my host and a couple who had entered an online draw and won two tickets to the party) went on a champagne, vodka, rum, whisky (and other assorted concoctions) ordering spree.

We had nearly abandoned all hope of ever getting any drinks at all, let alone glasses, sitting at our lushly decorated table with its flowered centrepiece and mauve lampshade emblazoned with Mozart's countenance. We felt like some saints, surrounded by plenty but never managing to wet our parched lips. But once it did arrive, there was no stopping its flow. Pity the ever-smiling Bangladeshi waiter!

At the immediate neighboring table sat this pompous designer with his beautiful wife who must be a perfect model for his clothes. She was in a sheer lacy blouse with turned back cuffs and a full back and white 50s skirt.

I caught up with an old friend at the tantalizingly setup snack bar, which was just getting into party mood, after rejecting the grand waltzes of the main ballroom, where the Anglo-Indian songstress and her band were wooing the younger set with their tunes, even enticing them into a romantic dance, which worked out to be a cross between Zorba the Greek and a dance from hell.

I was chatting with him, thinking that the glitzy evening was going rather just fine, when the impossible began to happen. People started to leave - going home. "What's happening", my friend cried, as the rooms became more and more deserted and the prospect of leaving before 6 AM became ever more real.

It was around 3 AM, and we had a real disaster on our hands. The dreaded munchies had struck, and the dinner of 8 PM was fast becoming a memory (a few satays and chicken tikkas and a little caviar just don't count under these circumstances). It was time for radical measures.

We decided to hit the clinically clean streets of Singapore in search of a meal - not a very difficult task but we wanted a proper one. Fortunately there is one place the driver recommended in Clarke Quay, so up we cruised in the Toyota Fortuner to find a enormous queue.

Now there is nothing in the world that is cooler than hitting a great joint at 4 AM in formal suits & full ballgowns. It literally stops the traffic. "Wow, cool dress," said one of the bug-eyed revellers, waiting for their delivery, probably trying to take away the taste of too many Fosters.

We ordered their best pizza and when it came, it was delicious - satisfyingly big and generously topped with the best cheese I had ever had in recent times besides the price was a steal! A total antidote for a 5 star meal! You do learn something every day.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Crucible (1996)

Arthur Miller's Solid Allegory of McCarthyism

The Crucible is a solid screen adaptation of Arthur Miller's 1953 play about the virulent Salem Witch trials (a take on the communist witch hunts in the 1940s-50s US), directed by Nicholas Hytner (The Madness of King George) and adapted by Miller himself for which he earned his only Oscar Nomination.

This is still obviously a play, but Miller makes concessions to cinema's need for speed, adding many exterior locations and keeping the action shifting constantly from one location to another to provide visual variety and heighten the tempo. He also dramatizes a few scenes hitherto summarized in dialogue, in particular the girls' forest revelry that instigates the plot; and some brief, newly devised scenes, such as a jailhouse send-off between Abigail and Proctor and a finishing execution scene.

It's a rather claustrophobic play on the stage, but the film opens things up and brings in some authentic New England atmosphere. The cast is strong throughout, although, maybe it's just me, but I don't quite accept Winona Ryder as the envious, devious Abigail. Her perfect roles seem to be those in which she can be spirited but essentially sweet and vulnerable, as she was in Little Women and Reality Bites.

Paul Scofield is an suitably hard-faced Judge Hathorne, Daniel Day-Lewis gives another dynamic performance as John Proctor, and Joan Allen, as Proctor's wife, proves herself a match for Day-Lewis. Allen's moving performance as Pat Nixon is the one good memory I have from Oliver Stone's headache-inducing kaleidoscope of a movie about Richard Nixon. Her performance in The Crucible is equally stunning. She looks every inch the Puritan wife - plain, stoic, reserved, full of suppressed emotion that pours forth in the climactic reunion with her husband. That scene between Day-Lewis and Allen, shot on a windy promontory against the background of the sea, is simply heartbreaking. It's worth the wait.

It's valuable to see a faithful screen version of this play noted for its allegory of McCarthyism, so younger generations who haven't seen it on stage will have a chance to experience it. Admittedly, this may not be the sort of film you'll return to on Saturday nights with popcorn in hand, but it's definitely worth watching once.

Free Streaming/Movie Download - Video Link: VeeHD
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