5 things – Maciej Ceglowski

The brief: Tell us about 5 songs *and/or* films. It could be the ones you think are the greatest. Or that move you most. Or that are under-appreciated. Something along those lines.

The people: Webstock speakers and assorted Webstock people.

Today with Maciej Ceglowski.

Happy Birthday – Russian style

America may be the most powerful nation on Earth, but its “Happy Birthday” song is almost as insipid as its national anthem. Compare the Happy Birthday technology enjoyed by the Russians:


The song orignally appeared in the animated series “Cheburashka”, but is now universally used. Gena the crocodile sings about how a magician will land in a blue helicopter, show everyone a movie for free, and leave 500 eskimo bars as a birthday gift. Too bad birthdays only come once a year! And Gena the crocodile is right.

Changes – KINO

To continue the theme of Russians having better music, while the West had to endure the Scorpions’ “Winds of Change” as the price for bringing down the Berlin wall, the Russians got to listen to KINO:

Our hearts demand change
Our eyes demand change
In our laughter, our tears
And in the pulsing of our veins
We’re waiting for change

Viktor Tsoi was the real deal—a punk, slacker and thorn in the side of the State who radiated cool. Tsoi wrote underground hits in a country where “underground” was not a safe marketing phrase, and rebellion was not a pose. Tragically, Tsoi died in an auto accident in 1991.

Shave your Beard – Ros Serysothea


This song is a window into a different world, before the Cambodian genocide. Rock and roll hit Cambodia in the 1960’s, and the Cambodians ran with it, producing an amazing and eerie sound. I find it beautiful but impossible to listen to without thinking of the awfulness that followed.

Casablanca Moon – Slapp Happy


Dagmar Krause, lead singer of Slapp Happy, is another source of amazing and eerie sound.

Black raven – Balagan

And for something older:


In Soviet times, folk music was sanitized and schmaltzed up past all recognition. The real stuff is a capella and sounds kind of spooky. This Cossack song has several elements typical of Russian folk singing-high overtones, strange intervals, a soloist that starts each verse, voices coming in and out with a kind of ‘wall of sound’ effect, and lyrics padded out with vowels for effect. A black raven brings back a golden ring; recognizing the ring, the woman knows that her lover has been killed in battle. Typical stuff. You can imagine hearing this on level 200 of Tetris. There’s a nice duet version on YouTube, too:

5 things – Sha Hwang

The brief: Tell us about 5 songs *and/or* films. It could be the ones you think are the greatest. Or that move you most. Or that are under-appreciated. Something along those lines.

The people: Webstock speakers and assorted Webstock people.

Today with Sha Hwang – who’s cheated a little and gone with a double-bill format!

The Fall


The Fall is not a perfect film, but no movie that looks this good should be. It’s a film that defies belief — made over years, largely financed by the director Tarsem, shot in locations all over the world (if you need a bucket list for places to visit, this is it). A labor of love, both of filmmaking and of the staggering beauty of nature, of harsh deserts and ragged mountains.

To be paired with The Fountain,

another equally ambitious and hopelessly flawed film. The film stars work by Peter Parks, who uses macrophotography of particles in liquid to simulate galaxies, space, stars. In his words, “you feel like you’re looking at infinity.

Heat


I am a total and complete sucker for Michael Mann movies, and Heat is no exception. It’s a simple cop and robber movie but blown out into epic proportions, soaked in the sun of Los Angeles. For me though, it all comes down to the sound design during the pivotal heist scene. There’s a trend with pop songs getting louder and louder, filling quiet with noise, and movies these days are similar. But in the buildup there is only the barest of scoring, and when the shooting starts, everything shakes (the screenplay apparently reads: World War III ERUPTS). Beautiful.

To be paired with The Dark Knight,

whose opening scene references Heat quite a bit.

JCVD


And on the complete other end of the spectrum, there’s JCVD, with Jean-Claude Van Damme playing Jean-Claude Van Damme. That’s really all I need to say, right? It’s hilarious, silly, and honestly kind of touching.

To be paired with the trailer for Femme Fatale,

which is the entire film, fastforwarded, another very meta piece of work.

Brick


One of my favorite small scale movies, though, is Brick by Rian Johnson. Tight and focused it is a high school neonoir played with a straight face, and through its crackling dialogue it actually works. Not to mention that it features the ever amazing JGL.

To be paired with Chronicle,

another recent genre film set in high school, but with superpowers instead of gumshoes.

25th hour


And finally, 25th Hour. It is, again, not a perfect movie — it’s long and drawn out, a little messy sometimes, but it holds an incredibly special place in my heart. When I first moved to New York in 2007 I watched it the night I got in, and felt nostalgic for a place I didn’t even know yet. And when Rachel and I moved back to New York a few months ago, we watched it together. It’s an incredible portrait of a city, and now, again, it’s home.

To be paired with a long walk through a city you love.

Webstock Santa

Yes folks, it’s that time of the year where Webstock Santa makes an appearance. We have 5 tickets to give away to the main Webstock conference. We’d like to see these going to deserving souls who would be unlikely otherwise to come to Webstock – maybe due to financial or personal circumstances. We’d like them to go to good folks who’d benefit from the talks, the people and the vibe that makes Webstock what it is.

Here’s what you need to know:

– You can’t enter yourself for this. People need to be nominated by someone else.

– Tell us who they are and why you think they should get a Webstock ticket. Include their email and Twitter handle (if they have one), so we can let them know if they win.

– If someone has had a free ticket to Webstock previously, they’re not eligible for the competition.

– Entries close at midnight on Wednesday 18 December.

– We’ll let everyone know the winners on Friday 20 December via Twitter and the Webstock Friday email.

– Nominate someone by emailing santa@webstock.org.nz.

Good luck!

5 things – Mike Brown

The brief: Tell us about 5 songs *and/or* films. It could be the ones you think are the greatest. Or that move you most. Or that are under-appreciated. Something along those lines.

The people: Webstock speakers and assorted Webstock people.

Today with Mike Brown. These are 5 songs I associate with Webstock.

Anything Could Happen – The Clean


This is the song we opened the very first Webstock, in 2006, with. That sense of wide-eyed possibility:

Anything could happen
And it could be right now
And the choice is yours
So make it worthwhile

is at the heart of what Webstock means to me.

That Summer Feeling – Modern Lovers


Webstock happens in Summer and I always associate it with Summer and this is my favorite Summer song! We opened Webstock ’11 with this song. And it *has* to be the version with the “dip dip” backing vocals. Jonathan Richman has a kind of unbridled innocence that trumps cynicism most every time.

Poi E – Patea Maori Club


We played this song to start Day 2 of Webstock ’13. Listening to it rocking through the Town Hall meant the day couldn’t be anything but amazing.

Calling All Angels – Jane Siberry


This is my go-to song when things are tough and I need some help. “Calling all angels, Help me through this one” can become like a mantra. There’s been a few times during Webstock’s history I’ve needed it!

Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying – Belle and Sebastian


I was watching the wonderful documentary about ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’ and it struck me that this song sums up what we’ve tried to with Webstock as well as anything. We didn’t know anyone making conferences how we thought they should be made – so it might as well be us. We didn’t stand a chance – although, somewhere down inside, we kinda thought we might.

Winning smiles and naivety are very underrated!

5 things – Liza Kindred

The brief: Tell us about 5 songs *and/or* films. It could be the ones you think are the greatest. Or that move you most. Or that are under-appreciated. Something along those lines.

The people: Webstock speakers and assorted Webstock people.

Today with Liza Kindred.

JAY Z and Swizz Beatz // On To The Next One


I move forward / The only direction / Can’t be scared to fail / Search and perfection.

If you can get past the misogyny in the video, the song has a invigorating message. The idea of the track is that once the masses are onto something, he’s moved onto the next big thing. As web workers, there’s a little of that in what we do every day. My friend Lodro Rinzler, author of The Buddha Walks Into a Bar, once even used the video as the basis for a column about overcoming fear as a Buddhist.

The Eye Has to Travel


This is the only movie I have ever in my life watched twice in a row. Venerable fashion editor Diana Vreeland has a reputation for brilliance; this documentary does a beautiful job of explaining why and illustrating how. Her aesthetic was truly ground-breaking; her fiery missives were called the first blog posts. Why not paint your nails red and learn about this legendary woman?

Jiro Loves Sushi


The first sushi chef to earn three Michelin stars is 86 years old and works in a tiny 10-seat shop tucked into the Tokyo subway. His obsession with perfecting his “simple” dishes is an inspiration. After watching this beautiful, and at times heartbreaking, film about his passion for perfection, I felt motivation to take my work to the next level. I may also have cried a little.

Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s


This documentary is not much more than a long-form advertisement for fabled luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman – but oh, what an ad. Full of whimsy, couture, hyperbole, ridiculous personalities, and holiday window porn, it’s a feast for the eyes. I tend to get caught up too often in in pixels and projections, forgetting about how emotionally fulfilling beauty can be.

Who Needs Forever? // Astrud Gilberto (Thievery Corporation Remix)


I have two rules in life: “Never don’t buy shoes”, and “It’s never the wrong time for the Beastie Boys”. To those I should probably add: :Every restaurant should always be playing the Verve Remixed albums”. The storied jazz label released three collections of remixed jazz favorites, and the results are ethereal, elegant, and always appropriate. This song is like lighting a candle and pouring yourself a glass of red wine: an unfailingly good idea.