To cover or not to cover...

I think I mentioned in a post a few years ago how I usually don't like covers because it's very rare that it ends up being better than the original. That being said, there are some situations when covers take a song to the next, much more sublime level. One of those cases is when an artist covers themselves (as in, they record and/or perform a song of theirs in a reworked, new style) and the other one is when a musician writes a song, sells it to someone else but records it himself as well.
Though I am not really a fan of her latest work, there are quite a lot of Madonna songs (especially from the 90s) that I like and listen to from time to time (mostly when they're on the radio) and Don't Tell Me has always been one of them. The story behind it is quite interesting: Joe Henry wrote and recorded the song Stop and then sent it to Madonna, who also recorded it (after some alterations, of course). It wasn't after a few weeks ago that I discovered the original version (confession: I was sitting at Starbucks, heard the song and I knew I had to have it...) and I can't get enough of it. But is it really a cover? After all, he wrote it, he recorded it first... but then again, it came out a year after the Madonna version... Does it even matter? This cover/original/call it whatever you want version of Don't Tell Me is much better (or at least according to my musical taste), much more sensual and - as I said before - simply sublime.


Just Apple.

Nowadays it seems there are two kinds of people: the ones who love Apple and the ones who hate it. Needless to say, I belong to the first category. I find the company more youthful, dynamic and witty than any other IT firm out there, not to mention their impeccable design and the fact that their devices can do anything I can dream of (and many other things I don't even think of).
So when I heard they were about to open a new store in Barcelona's Plaza de Catalunya, I was really excited. They already have a store in the city, but it's far from where I live and, since it is situated at a shopping mall, it lacks some of the signature Apple store features (big glass windows and whatnot).

The announcement outside the then opening-soon store made me smile - the classic logo, presented in Barcelona's traditional mosaic style and the tagline: An Apple Store tailored to Barcelona. I knew I just had to take a picture (and so did many others).
However, as I discovered this new store today I had to realize not all inventions of Steve Jobs are for me. Glass stairs for someone with a fear of heights? Thanks but no thanks.


In response to Chavela Vargas's passing.

If you asked me who my favorite male singer was, I would have a rather hard time answering your question - there are so many I love, respect and follow, so many whose words cheer me up, give me hope, make me think or smile. However, if you asked me who my favorite female singer was, I would not hesitate for a second: Chavela Vargas.
She is the only woman whose voice eats itself under my skin, who moves me, makes me think, believe and hope, whose unique way of performing I can not admire enough. Her enormous talent and influence is obvious and she is, without a doubt, one of the most significant artists of the 20th Century. A muse and friend of artists such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera or Pedro Almodóvar, a true icon of Mexican music, she passed away yesterday at age 93.
It goes without saying that she will be greatly missed and never forgotten and her soul will live on forever in her beautiful songs. Because this is why she was so special - if you listen to her, what you hear is not yet another woman singing a love song; it's a soul telling you the story of her life.


Finding perfection in imperfection.

After rewatching all my favorite series I needed something new (for me, anyway), so I asked around a bit and a few friends of mine recommended Dexter. Although I knew what it was about - it's kind of hard to forget a plot consisting of a serial killer killing serial killers -, I have never seen any episode before so I thought I'd give it a try.
I knew it was impossible to live up to the level of Mad Men and The Sopranos, but I was pleasantly surprised. The protagonist is extremely well-written, one of the best characters on TV I think, and this not so tiny detail makes me watch all the episodes one after another. Dexter has a lot of flaws (the other characters are often quite flat and many of the dialogues and scenes are boring, sometimes even annoying), but the leading man's internal monologues, his philosophy, sarcasm and indifference save the show, big time.
As you might know, the show (and especially the first season) was based on a novel called Darkly Dreaming Dexter and it's pure genius. It is sad though that it took the creators another two years to come up with a comparably interesting storyline, but it was worth it - the fourth season is just as good as the first one. Currently I am watching the 5th and have yet to decide whether I like it or not... But for someone who's interested in writing (books, articles and screenplays as well), this series is a great lesson; on the one hand, you can learn how to write a character so that it's perfect, and on the other hand, you can wonder how you could improve those people and scenes that aren't so brilliant.
There is only one thing I cannot understand: how is it possible that one component of a series is one of the best things we've ever seen on TV, while the rest is only a so-so...? How can screenwriters be so right when describing a character, writing scenes and sentences for him and be dead wrong when doing the same for other characters of the same fictional world? Maybe it doesn't matter... Maybe we should just appreciate Dexter for what it is - Dexter himself.


Following the signs.

I've been rewatching a few of my favorite series this past month and that meant I did not really watch any (new) movies - I just get so attached to the story and the characters that I don't feel ready to bond with any other fictional people. However, tonight I felt the need for something else, for a different world with different problems, so I gave a chance to the Duplass brothers' Jeff, Who Lives at Home. I've had this film for a few months now and I forgot what it was about and who the actors were so it was a pleasant surprise to see Jason Segel's in it, because I liked a lot of his other movies and he really seems like a nice guy.
The plot is about a man who believes that we must listen to (and follow) the signs life (or God, maybe) sends us in order to meet our destiny. Now that's a thought I think many of us has had throughout our lives. Just think about it: you get a wrong number, someone's looking for Kevin, and then a few hours later you see a boy with a sweater and the name Kevin on it. Most of us would stop at thinking it's a coincidence, maybe a sign, who knows, it's interesting, but not interesting enough to distract us from our everyday duties. Needless to say, Jeff, our leading man, is not one of us. He is convinced that this is  only the first of signs he must follow to find an answer to his question: who am I, why am I here, what is the meaning and point of it all. So he decides everything else can wait, today he will listen to the signs. This is how he runs into his brother and his wife who may or may not be having an affair, and the rest is a nice independent movie that makes you think, laugh and have a great time.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home has a deeper meaning, an entire philosophy that is omnipresent but never too much, never too forced. Of course we really can't just stop wherever we are and follow something we believe is a sign to maybe get somewhere that is supposed to be our fate but it sure is interesting to contemplate what would happen if we did - and any movie that can help us doing so is worth watching.


The power of sincerity.

I love songs that have a meaning, whatever that is, and this is exactly what is missing from most of today's music (and by this I refer to the young and "new" performers). I know I've said this a lot but that's my opinion. Of course there are many musicians nowadays as well who do actually know that the lyrics are important but sadly they tend to be the less popular ones. I guess I'm just one of those who admires past eras and their representatives a bit too much... But whenever I listen to The Crystals' He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss), I am dumbfounded. Not only because of the lyrics (simple yet shocking) but also because it is written about an issue that is probably more present in the media now than ever before, shows what some of those women who suffer domestic violence might feel. This song, written and recorded fifty years ago, is brutal because it not only justifies such horror but also because The Crystals sing it in such an innocent way and the music itself is great. If you think about it, you discover the romantic side of it and then you are shocked when you realize you find something so violent so beautiful - anything that absorbs you like this is, without a doubt, a masterpiece.


One picture, two legends.

It's no secret that I love photography, especially old black and white pictures of legends and Alfred Hitchcock is definitely one of them. There are numerous funny, creative and beautiful photos of him and the one below is my new favorite. The big cat is another film icon - none other than one of the MGM lions...

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