LISTENING

Although I’ve mentioned them before, this past week I listened to The Breeders’ Pod. You remember Pod, the album that is awesome and listed by Kurt Cobain as one of his favorite albums. I think because I was listening to a lot of Swearin’ and Swearin’ sounds like The Breeders, I just entered a kind of positive feedback loop where I continually listened to these artists.

Pod is awesome. It has a depth and variety that feels fresh TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS after it’s 1990 debut. When most people think of The Breeders, I think they think of “Cannonball” (music video directed by Spike Jonze and Kim Gordon) which is a great song, but from Last Splash, their 1993 sophomore record. Pod has a lot of the same flavor, albeit rawer. Lead off track “Glorious” exemplifies this primordial feeling, but later tracks like “Hell Bound” and “When I Was A Painter” are the ancestors of the poppy subversiveness of Last Splash.

 

WATCHING

The Act of Killing (Oppenheimer, 2013) is a surrealistic documentary film exploring the role of gangster / death squad executioners during the Western-government-backed anti-communist military take-over of Indonesia in the mid- to late-1960s. (Woofers, that was a long sentence. The film, too, was long, probably it’s only poor element). It was on Netflix but is now not, however I’d say it’s worth whatever couple bucks it costs to stream it from a legitimate source (iTunes, Amazon Video, Vimeo, Google Play). The fascinating thing about the film is how it tasks the main character (an executioner named Anwar who has no remorse over the ~1000 people he killed) and asks him to recreate common scenes from that terror-filled era. He enlists his friends (a former executioner and former and current paramilitary personnel) to help him make a film detailing the events. It’s fascinating to watch and although it is long and at times drags, it’s worth the 2.75 hours of your time. An additional plus point on this film: Oppenheimer actually speaks Indonesian, which I think helps the legitimacy of the documentary; there was no need to go through interpreters.

 

READING

Dr. Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air. When I bought this book in October my Dad was not yet diagnosed with cancer. It’s a memoir about being a neurosurgeon and philosopher of the mind and then being diagnosed with cancer and dying. Kalanithi died before the book was published. So it’s kind of difficult to read at times now with my Dad (a retired vascular surgeon) now having cancer, but it’s a short book. Kalanithi, as he explains in the first chapter, studied literature at Stanford as a means to understand the mind. Then he went on to become a neurosurgeon to understand the physical aspects of the mind. As you can probably tell by the title, the prose within is very lyrical, making it a pleasant read despite the ever-present aspect of death hanging on every turn of the page.

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