18 August 2009

10 August 2009

'The Conversation': an underrated classic

The Conversation has to be one of the most underrated movies of all time.

Featuring the direction of Francis Ford Coppola, acting of Gene Hackman, general moral ambiguity, remarkably tight filmmaking, a thriller/espionage intrigue and a plethora of beautiful shots, it's certainly a classic.

So why aren't more people talking about this film?

It's not as flashy as The Godfather and Gene Hackman's not as "cool" as Marlon Brando, but Hackman's lovable-loser status and the film's apparent simplicity combine with its moral complexity to create a modest film about epic things.

Plus, it features a young, strapping Harrison Ford.

05 August 2009

Radio is a sound salvation

Later this month my hometown's latest and only attempt at a decent alternative/indie radio station, Radio X 96.1, will go the way of the dodo. It will become one of two sports-dedicated stations on Grand Rapids' musically bankrupt FM dial.

But rather than wallow in that town's musical depravity, I'd prefer to praise my temporary residence, Columbus, for its excellent alternative radio station. Offering a diverse selection of current and nostalgic indie/alternatively inclined songs and artists, CD 101 is a bastion of difference in a modern world of radio monotony.

I realize FM radio - like most media forms we grew up with - is probably a dying breed, but it is stations like this that remind me why we should love FM radio. Sure you can find almost any song you want on-demand on iTunes or YouTube or Deezer, or listen to an individualized radio statio via Pandora, but nothing beats the excitement and the haphazardness of live radio. It's exciting not knowing what will be played next and seeing how songs are juxtaposed. Plus, FM radio represents a shared, class-cutting experience that can't be beat by modern alternatives.

So, thank you CD 101 for renewing my faith in the power of good ole FM radio.

Sample songs from CD 101's playlist:
"Walking on a Dream" Empire of the Sun
"Bittersweet Symphony" The Verve
"No You Girls" Franz Ferdinand
"Bohemian Like You" Dandy Warhols
"L.E.S. Artistes" Santigold
"One Armed Scissor" The Mars Volta
"The Black Keys" Strange Times

But don't take my word for it, listen live here.

01 August 2009

Public Transit Woes

Compared to public transit in Paris, most American public transportation options are bound to disappoint. I was expecting this.

When I hopped on a COTA bus for the first time last night, I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the air-conditioned bus and its fancy electronic ticker denoting the stops as we passed. This was on the way to my destination.

My opinion of the busing system changed on the way home. After leaving the fun, outdoor screening of Raising Arizona early to catch the one bus per hour that was running on a Friday night, I had to wait nearly a half hour for said bus, which was late. Plus, I had no way of knowing where the bus was or when/if it would arrive. Their wasn't even a bus schedule posted at the stop to let me confirm what I had thought I'd seen earlier online.

In the meantime, I had to suffer weird looks from bar-going passerbys and drivers because apparently it's weird to be waiting for a bus in this country?

Finally, a bus came by, but it was demarcated with a bizarre letter-number combo, while my bus carried a simpler, more reasonable moniker: 2. Luckily, the bus driver was helpful enough to pull over at my wave and inform me that bus 2 should be coming behind her. After a few more minutes, I was successfully on my bus, headed home, after a long and frustrating wait.

To top it all off, I had to walk an extra three blocks home when the bus driver, failing apparently to note that "Stop Requested" was flashing across his electronic ticker, neglected to let me off at my stop.

In the end, I got home and it only cost me $3. As far as public-transit related snafus go, my night was pretty minor, but it was enough to make me never want to ride the COTA again.