Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gravity's crooked smile

Today, I've been pondering two different movies, which each deserve their own blog post, but I've decided to merge them into one. I hope they don't mind.

Inception. I finally saw it, after all the hype. Well-deserved hype, too. I understood (for the most part), and I left the theatre questioning my own senses, thoughts, and daydreams. The word inception is most times another word for conception or beginning. Without spoiling the entire movie, I'm going to try to explain why this is one of the most groundbreaking and enlightening concepts of this decade, or even the history of the world.

The movie is based upon a central character, Cobb (thank you, Leonardo Dicaprio for your grace and talent) who is trying to, above everything else, get home to his the real world. Throughout the entire movie, this is what kept me hanging on. So, inception idea number 1: children - one of the most beautiful visuals and symbols of God's creativity and beauty on earth.

The subplot of the movie involves the "job" that Cobb must complete with a crew of eccentric and very well-dressed extractors and inceptionators, I'll call them, before returning home. One, I have to mention, is Arthur, expertly played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (he's certainly come a long way since Ten Things I Hate About You). I've never seen the dream world look so good. And dear Ellen Page mesmerizes yet again as Ariadne, a prodigy dream architect. The job involves planting an idea into one's mind to convince them to follow the idea into reality. Inception idea number two: unauthorized subconscious brainwashing. Brilliant, but illegal, I guess.

More stunning elements of the movie include the music (Hans Zimmer brilliance with perfect timing) and the special effects. The objects in dreamworld defy gravity in a beautifully dynamic and imaginative fruit and buildings and baskets and bicycles and cars explode into a thousand pieces and float around for almost an entire three minutes of film, as the subconscious directs it's own effects in a dream. Inception idea number three: the birth of antigravity.

I'm not really trying to write a movie review, I'm just trying to wrap my conscious brain around what just happened on the screen, and maybe what happens when I close my eyes and enter the subconscious. Dreams have always been intriguing and valuable to me. I write mine down often, but to share them could possibly reveal some inceptive :) revelations that I'm not ready to share. Therefore, Inception was riveting and innovating to me, just like the dreams I write down. It might also be because I use more of my right brain than my left, and the mere existence of an aesthetically disguised film like this one really gets my jitters going. So, see it if you want to take a dive into a deep abyss of your dreamworld existence, but if you're into left-brained science and physics, be forewarned, but maybe try opening up your brain to let inception plant it's own idea there.

"An Idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules."

Thank you for another one, Christopher Nolan.


Onto something a little less analytical, but no less deserving of great movie recognition. After the show "Firefly" was cancelled on the Syfy channel in 2002, many hearts were broken and great television opportunity was lost. Firefly is a story about a crew of smugglers from the future who fly on the ship Serenity. Along the way, they acquire a dangerous weapon, in the form of a psychic girl name River. Captain Mal, one of the greatest television characters of all time (who deserved to make the list of Entertainment Weekly's 100 Most Interesting Characters of TV, but didn't make the cut), played by Nathan Fillion, is a hard-ass smart-ass war veteran who looks out for himself and his own. The movie, Serenity, appropriately named, picks up where the show left off. The Alliance, a.k.a. the evil empire, almost equivalent to Vader's posse in Star Wars, wants to kill River, because her psychic powers and graceful punches in the face could make her the most dangerous weapon in the newly inhabited solar system. (Earth died a few years back from overpopulation. Ironic.) So, one of the best adaptations of television to the big screen is found in Serenity. I could go on for days about it, but I just wanted to share a quote that tugs me back to ideas of inception and the defiance of gravity on our beloved ship, Serenity. At the end of the movie, Captain Mal has just helped save the worlds, before turning to River, giving her a crooked smile and saying...

" ain't all buttons and charts, little albatross. You know what the first rule of flyin' is? Well I suppose you do, since you already know what I'm about to say....Love. You can know all the math in the 'Verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as a turn in the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells ya she's hurtin' 'fore she keens. Makes her a home."

Nathan Fillion, you can navigate the depths of my heart with your crooked smile anytime.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New York Groove

I know that I'm a somewhat sheltered, small town girl, but I have a great appreciation for the city, it's colors, culture, and diversity. NYC is hip, fashionable, up-to-date. IPads everywhere. My uncle planned an entire day for us there, and I'm so grateful. It's amazing how much my senses can take in, in just 18 hours. So different is the view from my window at home in Nebraska.

11:26 am
Tour Associated Press News Room. Meet a manager named Dennis, and some important people named Caleb, Charzan, and Susan. They're all in charge of sharing news photos with the world. Seems like a huge job, but they are very friendly people.
11:31 am
Meeting-conference call with AP bureaus around the U.S. Find out Apollo Ohno is in the same city as I am. I know, not that big of a deal. But I love being connected to people just because we have something in common just for a moment.
12:02 pm
Observe the process of routing photos around the world with Charzan and Susan.
Lunch at a 'delicatessen' called the Front Door in downtown NYC. Eat a huge sandwich, appropriately called the Front Door sandwich. Have some Matzoh Ball soup. I guess it's a delicatessen thing.
2:01 pm
Shop at the "candy store" down the street, B&H, a store packed full of any electronic item you can imagine.
2:02 pm
Endure a severe case of sensory overload before finding my 70-300 mm telephoto dream lens for just $100.
3:35 pm
Tour TV Guide magazine, see raw photos from the shoot for the next TV Guide cover - the cast of the revamped and remade Hawaii 50, of which includes Daniel Dae Kim and Scott Caan in its cast :)
4:37 pm
Visit the International Center of Photography. The Gallery is closed on Mondays, but the bookstore is great! I got a mystery pack of postcards...mysterious and exciting.
5:52 pm
Have the best Mandarin Mango smoothie I've ever had at Red Mango.
6:44 pm
Visit the Bath House studio, post-photo shoot. Meet Jeff, of whom I now have a crush upon because he works in the basement storage room and keeps Pabst Blue Ribbon next to his desk while he renders 90 minutes worth of abstract exhibitions to be shown downtown. I appreciate the behind the scenes work...knowing that no one is likely to know you were the one who waited 90 minutes for a video to render that the entire east side is going to see. Now, that's sexy. Plus, Jeff has impressive facial hair.
7:00 pm
Take a trip to Adorama, another sensory overload store, purchase a beautiful Nikon D70 body that even has an eye cup. Sweet.
7:43 pm
Laugh with the potbellied Jewish employee at the next counter, after he makes a joke about karma and rude customers.
8:05 pm
Attend a private party in Manhattan, thrown by two award-winning photographers, one for Getty, the other from the New York Times. Meet lots of cool photographers. Listen to really hip music and drink (surprisingly) cheap beer.

A. My uncle is a cool dude.
B. I'm grateful and somewhat surprised by how friendly the people were that I met.
C. New York drunks are fun(ny).
D. Everywhere you go, people are people. New Yorkers aren't necessarily meaner or nicer than Nebraskans, nor are they hipper or lamer. Apollo Ohno is a person. The editor of TV Guide is a person. The best photographers in the world are just people. I'm a person. They're not gods or idols or people more or less deserving of praise. We're just people. And this gives me hope, because I can believe that I was connected to every person I met or saw or heard about yesterday, because in that moment we had something in the universe to connect our lives. All these connections create this beautiful webwork around the world of people. It's both humbling and awe-inspiring at the same time. And for this reason, I found New York City enlightening and groovy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Peace and Power

The power goes out, and it's so peaceful. I can hear the crickets outside. It's funny how I "hear" peace. How peace can pertain to each sense. I hear crickets. I see love given in the world. I touch a young child in a hug. I taste food in my mouth - I'm nourished. I smell the wildflowers in a meadow. I feel God working in and around me. But, the power comes back on. Now the TV, a fan, the radio, the computer, the air conditioning. I can't sense the original outside world anymore.

I wonder if it is initially good to feel, in a world of convenience. But of course, so much easier. I baked cookies today. It took me less than a half hour. 10 minutes to heat. Another 15 minutes to delicious melt-in-your-mouth goodness. So quick, so clean, so effortless. It's inevitable...we are forced to move forward with the ease, the technology, and the complexity of the system. But here's something to think about. Are people prepared for their loss of power? We all know there is potential. Sometimes I dream about people running around in chaos, not knowing how to survive off the land, not knowing what to do without their damn cell phone when the inside world has consumed us and empowered us for so long. What happens when we lose power?

But I do have faith in humankind. I'm just not sure how to share it.

On a positive note, I found these few words the other day. Dare I say, uplifting and inspiring. The idea so simple, the questions complex. Here is one way to the answer.

"We all know that there are regions of the human spirit untrammeled by the world of physics. In the mystic sense of the creation around us, in the expression of art, in a yearning towards God, the soul grows upward and finds the fulfillment of something implanted in its nature. The sanction for this development is within us, a striving born with our consciousness or an Inner Light proceeding from a greater power than ours. Science can scarcely question this sanction, for the pursuit of science springs from a striving which the mind is impelled to follow, a questioning that will not be suppressed. Whether in the intellectual pursuits of science or in the mystical pursuits of the spirit, the light beckons ahead and the purpose surging within our nature responds."
-Sir Arthur Eddington

There it is. Hope, faith, love. And peace.