into the wild

in april 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of mt. mckinley. his name was christopher johnson mccandless. he had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter...

that's what it says on the cover of the book written by jon krakauer. i'm not giving away anything because it's not a story about christopher's life: it's a story about his death and the life that was taken. the film version of into the wild is faithfully directed by sean penn. when i read the book, it quickly became one of my favorite books of all time. even though i knew the outcome, there was so much tension and drama on every page. i was gripped. what's so interesting about the story is christopher mccandless himself. a young man so principled with his own idea of morality. a young man so desperate to experience life.

those who have read the book seem to have two different opinions of him. one group believes he was a selfish, stupid, careless kid who caused his family incredible grief and ultimately committed suicide. another group believes him to be a very smart and intuitive kid who was after something bigger than this life, something higher than material goods and human pettiness, who touched people's lives, and who ultimately made a fatal mistake. i've got a different opinion of him, but i won't say it because the beauty of the book and the way krakauer wrote it, is in the way it leaves it open for your own interpretation.

now, the movie however sort of robs you of that choice. sean penn, if you have heard any of his political rants, is very one-sided and is very vocal about his opinions. and here, he's no different. he directs the movie, a movie he's wanted to make for ten years but couldn't without christopher's family signing off on it, with plenty of passion and love for the subject. the only thing is, he shows christopher off as almost jesus-like, which i think is a mistake. he also does some very heavy-handed things in the end of the film which i think sort of takes away from the power of it. what penn does is focus so completely on what makes christopher great, he doesn't include any of the negative aspects of chris - the selfish kid, the naive kid, the hurtful and spiteful kid. i think if he had, it would have made a much better movie. personally, i love a hero with faults. penn makes christopher's story cut and dry, black and white, and that's a shame. he sort of forces his opinion on you, and i sort of resented the film for that. i also had a general problem with the movie where i felt hardly any emotion. it may be due to the fact that i had just read the book a couple weeks earlier. the book drained me emotionally, which is perhaps why the movie comes off as kind of lacking. the film has been well received by critics and audiences alike, however.

the film also has a great soundtrack by eddie vedder. vedder shows off some great original work as well as some awesome covers.

i must say that all in all, i do identify quite a bit with christopher. i understand his desire to experience something beyond this life. i understand his frustration with his father as well as society. i also understand his wanderlust. as much as i love city life, sometimes i think it will swallow me whole, which is why sometimes solitude and being comfortable with being alone is a good thing. the big different though is that i don't have the fortitude that he has of his principles, and ultimately, despite enjoying solitude, i eventually find my way back. unfortunately for christopher, he couldn't.

the following is the video for the cover "hard sun" as well as "society," a video some fan made with pics of pearl jam. enjoy.


9/11 conspiracy nutters

i am all about questioning everything. you shouldn't just blindly believe something just because someone told you it was so. otherwise, it borders on religion. however, there is a line where logic and reason is drawn, and conspiracy theories often test that. one such conspiracy theory is that the u.s. government purposely destroyed the world trade center towers on 9/11 in a controlled demolition. there are whole internet communities about this online. i've heard their arguments, and normally this is where i'd post a link to one website or another, but really, it's just not worth my time.

bill maher is back on the air with another season. these conspiracy theorists have apparently been getting at maher to bring up this topic on his shows, but he refuses to. it appears a couple of audience members decided they'd throw it in maher's face. what ensues is quite a funny little war of words.

and here is a more civilized discussion. maher interviews garry kasparov, chess grandmaster, and a candidate for president of russia. kasparov speaks with such intelligence and sophistication that it sparks remarks from maher and guests about how great kasparov is. very good interview.



so i basically have the whole book written out in my head. it's just a matter of getting it down onto paper, which is getting easier and easier as the days go by. it should be, considering i've been meditating on this story for at least a good year and a half. over the past few months, i've managed to put to rest some nagging personal and professional issues that have plagued me for the past year. i think this has allowed me to free up time and thought to finally get this book done. the only real question marks are when will i have it done? (i'm hoping for the end of the year) and which ending will i choose?
endings are tough, because a bad ending can ruin a good story and a strange ending can pervert the whole story. at the same time, you want an ending with some balls. at least i do, especially considering the themes that i will be discussing. the problem is that the ending i have in mind is great, but it borders on foreign art-film type stuff, which usually turns a lot of people off. i have read and seen a lot of stuff lately where the ending would wuss out even though overall it was a good move. i don't want to do that.
that being said, i have three endings in mind, all different variations of each other, but the book will be drastically changed depending on which ending i chose. at this time, my plan is to just write all three endings, and have friends read the book with all three endings and give me feedback, even though most of my friends consider feedback as, "that was good." or maybe I won't release all three endings and I'll just chose the best one and just fuck the audience over. we'll see. it's still a long ways away before i even write them.



brief update as to what i've been up to:


however, i am planning for some future activities: it never snows in vancouver except maybe once or twice a year during december. i'm hoping for a bit of snow so i can go take some panoramic photos of the city under snow. i didn't get a chance to do that last year. when it does snow, i'll post some photos on my photo blog. i am also in the hunt for a missing roll of film from my u.s. trip. some great pictures of colorado were on that roll. i'd better find it...

in terms of writing, i've just been biding my time, not trying to force anything. what little i've written has been focused primarily on vancouver and how much i just love this fucking city. i was rollerblading near yew and 5th and there was this steep hill which allows you to see the rest of the city. say what you want, but there's beauty in the city. you just have to know where to look.

one of the things about vancouver that used to bother me so much was the fact that a lot of the buildings in downtown vancouver, especially the newer residential ones, are all the same: they all have that tepid turquoise coloration on the windows. one day as i was going over the granville bridge, on a particular cloudy vancouver day, i realized how gorgeous the city looked with that color. this is the only time when that color looks good. and since vancouver is so cloudy/rainy on a regular basis, i don't mind that color any more.

anyway, here's a snippet i wrote for the book. it took me five minutes to write it literally as i was thinking of a topic to write about on this blog:

Blink. And it’s gone. The love. You can be enamoured with something but give it enough time, it becomes pedestrian, and when it gets pedestrian, you take it for granted. Blink. And it’s gone. The love is something that you really want to try to keep a hold of. When you find it, you grab onto it with both hands. Feverish. And it’s this love that Monty feels, staring up at the lights. He sits on a park bench, wooden, steel framed. Bare-naked trees surround him, strategically placed in the artificial park. Manufactured life standing in for nature, like surrogates, surrounded by brick and steel. There’s a parking garage to one side and an alley to the other reeking of what god knows: Shit, blood and cum. Hanging from the bare branches are strings of blue florescent lights. Decorative. Small, sparkling beacons beneath the pitch black sky. Monty sits alone on the bench, staring up at the lights. He’s been there for almost two hours. The night gets deeper and so does the love: the love of the little peace that he craves. He doesn’t question where he finds it or when: he just accepts. And as this feeling soars, he cannot let go, because it’ll be a long way down.