Be Formless. Shapeless. Like Water (Brendon Greene musician interview preview)

Bruce Lee is one of those iconic figures that so many people seem to be inspired by.  Especially people who want to make a motivational point for others. To be fair, he did accomplish a great many different things in his rather short life in order to earn that title. And he IS damn quotable.

Credited with changing how Asian people were viewed in American cinema was a big one, but that is just one of his many incredible feats, not to mention setting world records in martial arts, founding the martial art of Jeet Kune Do, and becoming a pop culture focal point of the 20th century.

Bruce Lee was multi-talented too – an actor, director, martial artist, instructor, and philosopher.

One of the reasons why people are so easily and regularly inspired by Bruce Lee (I suspect anyway), is because of his philosophical views on life. I am sure you’ve heard your share of Bruce Lee quotes in your lifetime, even if you didn’t know it yet. Take this gem for instance.

This is one of my favourites, but there are hundreds of them out there. I’ll tell you too, people love to make posters out of Bruce Lee quotes too.

Now you’re probably wondering why I’m even writing about Bruce Lee, because this looks like an artist interview post. And yeah, you’d be right if you are thinking that. It just so happens though, that this martial arts icon has inspired a new friend of mine too. And how.

Brendon Greene is a very interesting fellow. His life has been rife with challenges, or opportunities as I’m sure he would call them. From those opportunities, Brendon has figured out what his purpose in life is. Which is why he decided a very short time ago, after running to office in the Green Party, to open his own record label – Conscious Collective. Brendon regularly teaches musicians how to get started, produce an album, and distribute it too. Plus he loves to manage new talent and make beautiful music, to boot.

Today I give you a sneak peek of an interview I had with him recently on his role as a mentor for younger musicians, and how Conscious Collective is community oriented. This preview asks the question about who a burgeoning musician should work with, and what kinds of content they should consume.

And Brendon delivers.

 

theories Summarized

I hope this interview preview was useful creative cuties. Brendon has a lot more to say too, but you’ll just have to come back in a week if you want to hear the rest of his story. I promise it will be just as entertaining as this clip, if not moreso.

With a ton more heart and pop culture references, this is an interview that prefaces a new series I’ll be producing with Brendon too! But more on that later. I’m out of theories for now, and I need to get some shut eye.

Tim!

Hoo Rah (Kong: Skull Island review)

We need a king to protect us from the evils humanity, as well as the darkness of jungle. That much should be obvious by now.

 

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
re-released on blu-ray July 18, 2017
******** 8/10

IMDB: 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%, Audience Score 71%
The Guardian: n/a

Jordan Vogt-Roberts is an American director and screenwriter. His directorial debut came with The Kings of Summer, a coming of age comedy that was released in 2013. So a bit of an odd twist that he followed it up with this action gem, and that he will also direct the future Metal Gear Solid movie. But who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? That’s right, only The Shadow knows, also there is a surprising amount of comedy to be had here… and so I move on.

Kong: Skull Island is the second monster film in the new MonsterVerse franchise that Legendary Pictures started down the path with in 2014’s Godzilla. There are two more monster movies lined up in the next few years, another Godzilla movie which will introduce Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah, and the much anticipated Godzilla vs Kong, expected to debut in 2020.

But enough about that, let’s get into the jungle and discuss the surprisingly entertaining Kong: Skull Island. One that both audiences and critics agreed upon!

Courtesy of Wikipedia

After a dog fight, in the midst of World War II, two fighter pilots parachute to an island, and then engage in close combat, but the fight is interrupted by a behemoth ape known as Kong.

Fast forward to 1973, government agent Bill Randa (John Goodman) hires former British SAS Captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), a skilled tracker, to guide an expedition to map out an island known as Skull Island. Escorted by a Vietnam War helicopter squadron led by Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson, the group is joined by photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson). Packard’s men begin the operation by dropping explosives developed by seismologist Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) to map out the island. However, the air unit is attacked by Kong, who kills a number of military personnel and scatters the survivors  into two groups across the island.

After being confronted by Packard, Randa reveals his affiliation to the secret government organization Monarch, which was trying to prove the existence of monsters and determine their threat to humanity. The other survivors, including Conrad and Weaver, try to get to a rendezvous point to meet a resupply team arriving in three days’ time. They encounter the local Iwi natives and an older Marlow (John C. Reilly). He reveals that Kong is the island’s guardian, worshiped as a god by the natives for protecting the island’s inhabitants from many predators, including reptilian underground monsters dubbed “Skullcrawlers”. They have killed Kong’s ancestors, leaving him as the last of his kind.

Packard’s group begins making their way to Chapman, one of the survivors, whose helicopter crash-landed elsewhere. Meanwhile, Chapman is ambushed and eaten by a Skullcrawler. Conrad’s group helps Marlow complete a boat built from parts scavenged from the original downed planes. They regroup with Packard, who insists on searching for Chapman, though his true objective is to find and kill Kong.

Marlow leads the two groups to a mass grave littered with the bones of Kong’s kind. A Skullcrawler attacks the group, spitting up Chapmans dogtags and killing Randa and many soldiers. Learning about Chapman’s death, a vengeful Packard blames Kong for the deaths of his men and becomes determined to kill him. The two groups part ways, with Conrad and Weaver finally encountering Kong up-close, and resolve to save him.

Packard’s group triggers napalm explosions to lure him in. And it works. Conrad’s group arrives and persuades the other soldiers to spare Kong, but Packard refuses to stand down. Then, a massive Skullcrawler emerges from the lake, and Packard is crushed to death by a recovering Kong. The Skullcrawler overpowers Kong at first and chases the humans, but Kong rips it up. Kong also saves Weaver from drowning, as she had been knocked into the water during the fight, and allows the survivors to leave the island.

During the credits, Marlow returns home, reuniting with his wife, meeting his son for the first time, and watching a Chicago Cubs game on television. Post-credits reveal ancient drawings of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah, and even a fight between Godzilla and Ghidorah.

With just the right mix of action, over-the-top deaths, and seemingly unintentional comedy, Kong: Skull Island is an homage to the B grade monster movies of the past. You want to see Kong jump-punch a helicopter, and he does it. It’s even rewarding to watch all of the different creatures destroying the soldiers as they traverse the island.

What starts out as a slow ride with very little in the way of plot, speeds up in the second act, and we finally get a great story along with some silly characterizations that serve as filler for the the king.

Pros: Kong looks amazing and is incredible as a Lovecraftian type deity. John C. Reilly helps ground the story with his man-out-of-time bit. The CGI is well done too.

Cons: Almost all of the actors are mismanaged here, with Brie Larson coming off confused, Samuel L. Jackson feeling stiff, and Tom Hiddleston having nothing to do.

Runtime: 1 hour 56 minutes

Points of Interest: Vogt-Roberts was inspired by video games to include many POV shots of guns being fired, even taking inspiration from Resident Evil to show a helicopter hitting the ground. Marlow and Conrad are references to Joseph Conrads book, Heart of Darkness. As well as Apocalypse Now being a thematic and visual inspiration.

I think it needs to be emphasized that this is not a kind and compassionate Kong, he is fighter, tough as nails and only accepting of humans upon them proving themselves to him. The allusions to Heart of Darkness are welcome, and the shift away from the the three other adaptations is satisfying too. This is excellent popcorn fare.

theories Summarized

Despite the way too large ensemble cast, and the silliness that is needed to get us to Skull Island in the first place, this movie works well in so many ways. And thankfully John C. Reilly is able to serve a good role as something of a protagonist, despite such a small character arc. I think after the disappointing Godzilla remake, Legendary are finally on the right track.

But that’s not all the theories for today, I’ve got another Watch Culture episode to share too.

Direct quote from André “It’s cool in this era too, man,” which let’s you know that Luc Besson did good with this movie from the 1990s. But you should just watch the episode, because this episode is full of gold.

Tim!

And He Kept On Preaching In The Synagogues (JAY-Z, 4:44 review)

If I owned a sports bar, clothing line, sports agency, and multi-millions in real estate and art investments, people would probably come running to hear me too.

 

JAY-Z – 4:44

released Jun 30, 2017
********** 10/10

Sean Corey Carter, bettter known by his stage name JAY-Z, which has also been written as Jay-Z, Jay Z, Jay:Z and Jaÿ-ZJay-Z, Jay Z, Jay:Z and Jaÿ-Z, is an American rapper and businessman. Or should I say, business, man? As it says directly on the album cover, this is his thirteenth studio album, and it’s probably one of this most mature efforts yet.

I mean yeah, Reasonable Doubt was groundbreaking, and The Blueprint a masterpiece, while The Black Album made us miss him, but 4:44 is his apologetic letter for being an asshole, and man does it sing with sincerity and truth. It’s personal, poetic, and poised to take the place of top hip hop record of the year, ironic given that his wife had a top charting album last year. JAY-Z is a legend, and 4:44 is his opportunity to put together an album for him. This is not a cool album, trying to keep up with current day hip hop, there are no singles here. If anything, it sounds like it was put together quickly and abruptly.

So yeah, this is and isn’t a response to Lemonade. It’s more about us getting to see JAY-Z as a fallible human. He raps about being black and racial inequalities, infidelity, his daughter, politics, his personal wealth, and a total dismissal of his ego. It’s fucking brilliant.

But it’s not for your average fan, it’s for those who appreciate his legacy and understand who he is and what he has done for the game.

Kill Jay-Z is a direct reference to the time that Solange Knowles attacked him in an elevator, and it brings up the degradation of his friendship with Kanye West. Also he apologizes for the first time officially to Beyonce, confirming that Lemonade is a true account. He later does that and more on title track 4:44, especially apologizing to all of the women in his life that he has played.

One of my favourites songs is The Stoy of O.J. and it features my favourite line of the album too. This comes when Hova raps “I’m not black, I’m OJ….OK” that sarcasm is a beautiful aftertaste to the cutting wine it was served with. But it’s not like Jay hasn’t rapped about his financial freedom before, nor the fact that black people won’t have security until they understand how Jewish people get rich off of credit. A bold statement within a real album.

Smile is another essential track about his mother Gloria Carter, who outs herself as a lesbian, but JAY-Z lovers her all the more, and encourages all of us to love who we love because life is ever-changing.

We get to see the classic dissing raps of older Jay on Caught Their Eyes and  Marcy Me, going after Prince’s Estate on the first of these two tracks, respectively. Or should I say disrespectively?

Of course the middle of the record also features Family Feud which is a gold mine of lyrics and beats from the heart. It addresses the old schools and new of hip hop, with Jay-Z proving that he has still got it, after all, on track closer, Legacy, he proves family extends to all black people. He wants to leave something meaningful behind in his business work.

Pros: Absolutely essential tracks to this record are The Story of O.J., Smile, and Family Feud. But every song has an element of sincerity to it, making this the most intimate JAY-Z album to-date.

Cons: It’s somewhat awkward to listen to Bam and Caught Their Eyes, they aren’t the most flow friendly tracks. Also that awkward hook on Moonlight about the La La Land fiasco. Seriously?

Runtime: 36 minutes

Points of Interest: Featuring appearances from his daughter Blue Ivy, his mother Gloria Carter, Frank Ocean, The-Dream, and wife Beyonce, this stripped down album has a certain vulnerability to it which we’ve never seen before.

As I mentioned before, this is not your latest and greatest clubbing hip hop record. It is chock full of thoughtful and revealing songs, and deserves the attention of an alumni of JAY-Z’s work. To say that he is the greatest rapper of all time isn’t that big of a boast – the confessional nature of this record solidifies his reputation.

theories Summarized

If it hasn’t been made clear for you just yet, JAY-Z is a business, man. Him and Diddy are almost tied for the most financial successful rappers of all time . But that’s not what this album is about. It’s a testimonial to his screwups, him owning his coldness, and settling into middle age. Hova has worked with so many different arists over the years, but I find it fitting to mention his 2004 collaboration with Linkin Park before I close this post off. RIP Chester Bennington. Jazzy will hold it down for you from here on out.

Tim!

Vacation, Recreation, Sensation (Penticton BC)

Timely posts are some of my favourites to share with you, dear readers. They are short and sweet, they let you know what is going on in my personal life, where my head is at, so to speak, and some of the challenges I am facing.

Because I never want you to think I am some self-proclaimed guru with no sense of reality, standing on a perch from on high, a false messiah if you will. I am a regular guy, with a day job, a girlfriend, and my own set of weird personal relationships. Art is one my first true loves, but as I age and live my life, I struggle with my own motivational challenges sometimes, and my personal health doesn’t seem to go my way very often, despite efforts I make regularly to eat well and exercise.

No matter what the challenge, I remind myself constantly of this one fact.

I’m going to share a favourite quote of mine from Marcus Aurelius to give you some insight –

Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading. Neither can I be angry with my brother or fall foul of him; for he and I were born to work together, like a man’s two hands, feet or eyelids, or the upper and lower rows of his teeth. To obstruct each other is against Nature’s law – and what is irritation or aversion but a form of obstruction.

This manifesto reminds me that life is difficult, but we all are mutually in it together, though we might each see through a lenses obscured. And now to explain why there are not going to be an timotheories videos or post next week friends.

I am going on vacation for a week, starting this Saturday and carrying through to next Saturday I’m going to check out all of Penticton, British Columbia with my lovely girlfriend Mysticque. I’m taking this time to bond with her alone, something we have not done yet together, because she has a son from a former relationship, and we only get to see each other every other week. Some people might not like or want to accommodate a situation like that, but she is so worth it.

But regardless of my awesome relationship, people have been frustrating me lately, and even though Marcus Aurelius reminds me constantly that I need to be vigilant and empathetic, I need a break. To a place that gives me peace and calms my mind down. We all have those places, the mountains have always been that for me though. Thus I’m off to see Penticton, drink some wine, enjoy fresh air, and relax for five days, without technology.

A retreat from modern distractions.

We all need these refreshers creative cuties, never apologize for taking time for yourself to practice self-care. Discipline and hustle are fundamental to your personal growth, but unfortunately no one can manage everything at once and grow simultaneously. This is one of those time where I will practice excellent self-care and come back renewed. And I’m ever so thankful for Mysticque for taking this time with me, and doing 85% of the planning. I love her, and you will too, because the rest of July will be awesome.

And so I’m out of theories for a few days. Enjoy your week folks, and I will see you on Sunday the 23rd with preview interview.

Tim!

Conjunction Junction (Interpersonal Communication)

Language sure is weird.

Did you ever hear the expression “all dogs are mammals, all mammals are animals, therefore all dogs are animals?” Well I’m sure you have dear readers, but I have to wonder if you know the reason why it’s used fairly commonly (read: not that commonly) in academics or by people who want to be academics.

This statement is a syllogism associated with predicate logic; a type of logic which shows how the subjects and predicates of such statements relate to those in other statements in an argument. To put it another way, syllogisms are an instance of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn from propositions that share a commonality and one final statement that combines second terms of the initial propositions in a way to infer a conclusion.

Another very well known example is that “all men are mortal, Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal.”

Hooking up words and phrases and clauses.

The Challenge Of Language

Communication is exactly that though. Making sense of language, verbal and nonverbal, as well as written, in order to best exchange information, feelings and meaning between a pair of people or to a group of people.

This is where interpersonal communication comes in. It’s a communication process that happens between two or more people. It is a face-to-face interaction that further addresses two of the three previous topics we’ve already covered in the communication basics series. Verbal and nonverbal communication.

To Put In

Interpersonal communication skills really are the most essential of skills in life, in my opinion, of course. We deal with so many daily challenges, rare opportunities and unexpected encounters throughout our time on this spinning ball of dirt that we need to be prepared to communicate well, whether at work or in our personal lives. The truth of it is, well, the truth is that people who have invested the time in developing their interpersonal skills get further along in life.

Probably because those people are more charismatic and appealing. And if we’re being honest, we can all benefit from being more appealing. Also, you can’t stop interpersonal communication from happening. No matter who you are and where you are going in life, you just can’t stop interpersonal communication from happening.

Because even when we are silent, nonverbal communication works in full force. And just as the old adage says, once you say something, you can’t take it back. We make silent judgments of others all the time.

That person should go to hell. He looks fat in those pants. She wears too much makeup. Who raised this kid?

That internal dialogue happens whether we want it to or not. But as I’ve mentioned in the previous posts, it is possible to work on both your verbal and nonverbal communication skills. And even more importantly, it’s so necessary. The single best thing you can do to become better at both arenas is to work on your listening skills.

And that is going to be the next major topic we’ll focus on in another post. I don’t want to spend too much time today digging into it, but I will say this – The better of a listener you are, the less people will concern themselves with your verbal and nonverbal skills.

theories Summarized

When you learn to use your interpersonal communication skills effectively creative cuties, not only will you have excellent verbal and nonverbal communications down, but you will get more accomplished in life. I know that sounds like a quick fix, because it takes time, but you can expect a lot more discussion on this in future months. For now, I’m out of theories.

Tim!