Monday, December 28, 2009

Impromptu Movie Review: It Might Get Loud

It Might Get Loud is the kind of ambitious project that needed a name brand director. I can't imagine how else they would have convinced Jack White, the Edge and Jimmy Page to do it. Each of the three represents a different musical generation and distinct background, giving the film three dissonant storylines. It's subjects are three guitarists, but it's more about music in general than guitar.

It begins with a scene showing Jack White building a one string guitar from some scraps of wood and a coke bottle and later documents the Edge's never-ending quest to find the perfect sound through hundreds of knobs, switches and sliders. The antithesis of the overproduced sounds of the Edge, White tends towards the organic: hence the minimalist opening. At one point the Edge, sitting in his studio packed with amps and computers, demonstrates that the riff he's playing is unsurprisingly only a cavalcade of effects. Later on, White listens to a record featuring a man with no instruments - only his voice and some manual percussion - in what appears to be his attic. Somewhere in between, are Page and his ever-present smile, at times playing a double necked guitar and others strumming a mandolin.

As the film weaves together the formative years of each guitarist, revisiting scenes of their youth, backdrops roam from a farmhouse in Tennessee to an English manor to the bleak grayness of Dublin, culminating on a well-lit soundstage in Los Angeles.

It's on this soundstage that the film comes together (and gets loud). It attempts to unite the musicians with a summit and jam session featuring a song from each of them. What that meeting lacks in synergy it makes up for in authenticity. Being that these are guitarists and not lead singers, it shouldn't be surprising that each comes across as genuine.

The film doles out pieces of that jam session in tiny bits and it's clear that the different styles blend about as seamlessly together as the movie does - which is to say not very well. But it's still enjoyable to see happening. If you've got some free time and want to check it out, you can watch the entire thing in ten minute sections on YouTube or obviously, buy it since it was just released on DVD shortly before Christmas.

Fifteen Hundred

Good morning Fackers. Hopefully everyone had an excellent weekend of food, family, tradition, presents and of course drinking (and if not, Chinese food and movies). It was a busy one for me, starting with a friends party on Wednesday night, then a Christmas Eve Wigilia at my aunt's house, Christmas Day at my Mom's and a huge annual gathering with my father's side of the family yesterday, scheduled squarely over the Giants' game miserable and embarrassing failure. Luckily there was no TV so I was spared the agony.

Amidst all the festivities last year, including a trip up from New York, I managed to find some time to write the first post for this blog (well, technically the second). Fast forward exactly one thousand five hundred posts and you'd arrive at this one.

I didn't have a specific goal in mind when I started Fack Youk other than to write about the Yankees and when we started off, it was much less Bronx-centric than it is now. We didn't have the Casey Stengel banner picture, the knockoff Red Sox font, the motto that turned away countless advertisers, the black and white photo policy and aside from me, the cast of characters here was totally different.

There was a lot I didn't realize about writing back then. I didn't understand that it wasn't as much about what you say but how you say it. And that who is saying it matters even more. The most important thing about maintaining a blog is establishing a voice and not coincidentally, it's the hardest thing to do. A lot harder than I expected.

The humble thing to do would be to say that we've come further than I could have imagined over the past year, but that's not really true. Success is easy to imagine. You write a couple of posts, people like them, you get a few links and it's easy to imagine that in no time you'll be rolling in pageviews and ad revenue. In reality, what look like ramps to untold amounts of traffic are really just spikes that return a certain baseline in a few days (at most). What makes a blog successful is the day to day grind.

As our pal Craig (then only of Shysterball) told me when I reached out to him for advice shortly after this whole thing began:
Work on pacing yourself and putting out regular, predictable content that people can come back to on a regular basis, and soon they'll bookmark you or put you in their reader, and from there things grow steadily.
The thing that I truly could not have imagined is how much content we produced over the past year - over four posts a day, including weekends. Those are the kind of details that you usually gloss over when you set out to accomplish something (even if you don't know what that something is). There was no way I could have possibly fathomed the amount of hours that I'd spend playing the role of Sisyphus in an attempt to put something new and interesting on the top of a web page. It's somewhat ironic that in a medium so instantaneous, true success and progress takes a long time.

Thankfully, the Yankees had about as good of a year as could be expected and have continued with a great offseason thus far, which has made all of the effort put into this blog seem more worthwhile. We all got awfully lucky in that respect.

Last but certainly not least, thanks to everyone for stopping by. There are a ridiculous amount of Yankee blogs out there and the fact that you choose to come here is what makes it worth putting in all the effort. Hopefully this time next year we'll have more to celebrate and be thankful for. In the meantime, we'll continue with the vulgarity and analysis.