Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Eagles: Learn To Be Still

We all have crazy days when it feels like things are spinning out of control. When this happens, music can be an excellent way to decompress. One of my favorite songs is “Learn To Be Still” by the Eagles. As evidenced by the lyrics below, its message is important and one we should take heed of in this fast-paced world.

It’s just another day in paradise
As you stumble to your bed
You’d give anything to silence
Those voices ringing in your head
You thought you could find happiness
Just over that green hill
You thought you would be satisfied
But you never will-
Learn to be still

We are like sheep without a shepherd
We don’t know how to be alone

So we wander ’round this desert
And wind up following the wrong gods home
But the flock cries out for another
And they keep answering that bell
And one more starry-eyed messiah
Meets a violent farewell-
Learn to be still
Learn to be still

Now the flowers in your garden
They don’t smell so sweet, so sweet
Maybe you’ve forgotten
The heaven lying at your feet

There are so many contridictions
In all these messages we send
(We keep asking)
How do I get out of here
Where do I fit in?
Though the world is torn and shaken
Even if your heart is breakin’
It’s waiting for you to awaken
And someday you will-
Learn to be still
Learn to be still

You just keep on runnin’
Keep on runnin’

Movie Review: Signs

In 2002, M. Night Shyamalan released one of my all-time favorite films: Signs. While the premise – aliens invading Earth and using crop circles for navigation purposes – sounds uninspired, at the heart of the film you’ll find a story about a man questioning his faith. It dealt with love, loss, family, and resolution, and it did so beautifully. The entire cast did a fantastic job, but Mel Gibson stole the show; his ability to convey emotion without uttering a word is marvelous. The script was suspenseful and well written, and the score, composed by James Newton Howard, was breathtaking.

What are your thoughts on Signs? Did you love it, hate it or feel indifferent about it? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section.

Below you’ll find my favorite scene from the film as well as the official trailer.

Video Review: Amazon Kindle Fire HD

I’ve had the Kindle Fire HD for a little over a week, so I thought I’d create a video review – my first ever – so you can learn more about this device and its capabilities. Below, you’ll also find a video further explaining “Whispersync for Voice,” a new feature I love. Enjoy!

The Killers: The Way It Was

This week, The Killers released their first album in four years: Battle Born. It’s a great album from top to bottom, but my favorite track is “The Way It Was.” It’s a mellow pop-rock song that conjures up visions of U2 in the 1980s. The vocal is fantastic, the guitar is haunting and the keyboard is infectious. Check it out for yourself below.

Stephen King On Books & Writing

Stephen King is arguably the most influential author alive. So, when he provides his opinion on books, people listen. Below is a wonderful quote by him on books as an entertainment medium, as well as a fun interview King did earlier this year with Craig Ferguson.

Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.” – Stephen King

Meeting Lee Child: The Man Behind Jack Reacher

Me (left) and Lee Child.

Yesterday, I went to New York City to meet Lee Child, author of the famous Jack Reacher novels. I took off from work and enjoyed a beautiful day in NYC before stopping by the Barnes & Noble where Child would be speaking and signing copies of A Wanted Man, his newest Reacher novel; the 17th in the series.

Upon my arrival, I bought a copy of Child’s new novel and went upstairs with the dinner I bought at Artie’s Delicatessen – you can’t go wrong with chicken fingers and french fries. Going into the event, I was a little nervous because, up to that point, I had only read three of the 17 books. And I didn’t want anything in the series spoiled by Child or the fans.

While I waited for Child to arrive, I listened to the last few chapters of Running Blind, the fourth novel in the series, and chatted with nearby fans. Before I knew it, it was 7 p.m. and Child was being introduced.

Decked out in khaki’s, an open-collar button down shirt, a blue blazer, and a beautiful pair of shoes, Child walked to the stage and was greeted with a warm round of applause from the room full of fans. The photos may not do him justice, but Child is 6-foot-5 and very slim. Not only that, but he’s a handsome man with an English accent, so, naturally, women adore him. During the Q&A portion, one woman asked, “Are you married?” To her dismay, he responded, “Yes.”

Child started off by telling us how he became an author. For nearly twenty years he worked for Granada Television in the UK, as a Presentation Director, where he wrote thousands of commercials, news stories and trailers. Then he said, “My boss told me something that prevented me from doing my job. He said, ‘you’re fired.'” This sudden unemployment, which came as a result of corporate restructuring, made Child write his first novel Killing Floor out of necessity. “I had to eat,” he told us. “And in the first 10 books, I made my former bosses the villains.”

According to Child, “60 percent of adults in the UK have never read an entire book.” They may have read magazines or parts of a book, but adults across the pond aren’t nearly as well read as Americans. Therefore, he made sure Jack Reacher and his first novel was targeted towards a U.S. audience. Clearly, it worked.

When it comes to writing he told us he never outlines a book. He has an idea and then starts writing. If he knew how the book was going to be laid out, from start to finish, he’d “get bored and not want to write it.” To him, writing should be like reading. “I’m just as excited to see what’s going to happen next as you are,” Child told the audience. “I give Reacher a problem and then make it worse,” he continued. His unique style involves introducing a variety of wild, but believable, situations in the first half of his books, and then in the second half, “I have to try and make sense of it. My plots might seem like a great deal of planning went into them, but that’s just an optical illusion. If you have an ink blot on a piece of paper, it looks like an amorphous mess. But if you hold a mirror up to it, it starts to look symmetrical.”

Child also talked about the controversial film, Jack Reacher, which is scheduled to come out in December. It’s been hotly debated by fans because Tom Cruise is playing Reacher. Since the character is 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, this put off many Reacher Creatures. Child told the audience, “There aren’t any actors that are 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds. I was flown out to Hollywood to see this movie, and it’s spectacular. Trust me, Tom Cruise does a fantastic job. You’ll leave the theater feeling as if you’ve just witnessed Reacher moving and talking in real life.”

I adore the audiobook versions of the Jack Reacher novels, so I asked Child if he had heard them and if he chose Dick Hill to be the narrator because, to me, Hill is the voice of Reacher. Surprisingly, he told me that he doesn’t care for audiobooks because Child feels they keep to once pace, and he likes to vary how quickly or slowly he reads. However, he did say, “Dick Hill has brought a lot of fans to the series, and when I switched audiobook publishers I did it under one condition: they keep Dick Hill as the narrator.”

Another interesting thing he spoke about was the two recent, digital short stories he’s written in between Reacher novels. He said the publisher likes him to release these as a way to figure out which version of the upcoming novel people will be buying (i.e., digital or print). And it encourages people to pre-order his novels sooner than usual. However, Child is still undecided about whether or not he wants to continue writing them because fans get confused by their brevity and end up giving them bad reviews.

Overall, I had a wonderful time at the book signing. Child is a terrific author and a charming man. Since he lives in NYC, Child always has a book signing in the area. That said, I’ll be sure to stop by in 2013 when the next Reacher novel is invariably released. Whether or not I’ll have finished the remaining 13 books in the series by then is another story.

007: James Bond Turns 50

The name’s Bond, James Bond, and he turns 50 this year with the release of Skyfall in U.S. theaters on November 9. Daniel Craig, the sixth man to play James Bond, will reprise the role for what’s sure to be another edge-of-your-seat action film. To celebrate five decades of Bond, this fall will see the release of the entire film franchise on Blu-ray as well as the new video game 007 Legends. Furthermore, you can smell like Bond with the recently released fragrance James Bond 007, and starting September 28, Christie’s is having an online auction featuring Bond memorabilia.

The eternal debate among fans of the films is who was the best Bond? Many argue Sean Connery, but my favorites – because picking one is too hard – include Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. Who’s your favorite Bond? Vote in the poll below and make your voice heard.

Below is an excellent, fan-made video compiling 50 of the greatest moments from the franchise. It’s a treat to watch, so enjoy.

I was glad to hear that Daniel Craig signed on to be Bond for at least two more films. Below is the trailer for the upcoming film, Skyfall.

Amazon Unveils Kindle Fire HD & Kindle Paperwhite

Jeff Bezos introduces Kindle HD (Associated Press)

Anyone that knows me is well aware of my love for Amazon. I think it’s the best retailer in the world, and I believe Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos when he says, “We offer premium products at non-premium prices.” Yes, I’ll admit it: I own an iPad, iPhone and MacBook. But I still prefer Amazon to Apple.

Today was the long-awaited press conference where Bezos unveiled the new line of Kindle Fire tablets and e-readers. There are four new Kindle Fire tablets, three of which are being billed as “Kindle Fire HD” because of their high-resolution displays. The fourth one is an updated version of last year’s Kindle Fire, with 40 percent faster performance, twice the memory and longer battery life. In addition to reducing the entry-level Kindle’s price to $69 (with special offers), Amazon has two new e-readers called “Kindle Paperwhite,” and they look fantastic. They have 62 percent more pixels and 25 percent better contrast than previous models, and they come with a built-in light for reading in the dark.

Kindle Paperwhite

I decided to buy two of the new Kindles: The 7″ Kindle HD and the Kindle Paperwhite 3G. The Kindle HD should arrive by next Friday, September 14, and the Kindle Paperwhite 3G ships on October 1. The other two Kindle HD tablets, which both feature an 8.9″ screen, ship November 20.

The prices for the new set of Kindles ranges from $69 for the entry level model to $599 for the 64 GB Kindle HD.

Kindle Fire HD

Are you planning to buy a Kindle for yourself or loved one this year? If so, which one?

Below are the new ads for Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Paperwhite, as well as the full press conference.

Christopher Hitchens On Writing

With the recent, posthumous release of Mortality by Christopher Hitchens, I thought I’d share a video clip of his advice for writers. Enjoy!

Poem: Music

Day after day, you fill my life with hope and carry me away.

You’re an enchanting enigma, and I’m spellbinded by your complexity.

When I’m down, you make me smile. And sometimes I can’t get you off my mind.

You’re infectious and magical. I peel back your layers and continue to learn something new.

You fill me with elation and embody my soul. A life without you isn’t worth living, for you make me whole.

You make me laugh, cry and chill me to the bone. As long as we’re together, I know I’m home.

Our love affair is 27 years old, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. You’re profoundly beautiful…you’re my everything.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: