Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

Last week the guitar company Gibson Brands Incorporated, the manufacturer of the legendary Gibson Les Paul electric guitar, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  A lot of people, including myself, wondered how and why this could have happened. How can such an iconic guitar company with such notable players such as Jimmy Page, Slash, Zakk Wylde, and many more, go from multi million dollars in sales to having to file for bankruptcy?

Many people blamed the high prices of Gibson guitars. A top of the line Les Paul is often priced between $5000 to $10000, sometimes more. A mid priced Les Paul goes for about $1000 to $3000. These guitars aren’t cheap for sure, but people forget that Gibson owns the Epiphone line of guitars which sells Epiphone Les Pauls in the $100 to $500 price range. In fact, it’s these affordable Epiphone Les Pauls which account for most of the company’s sales.  So I don’t think this is the problem.

In my opinion Gibson’s downfall goes far deeper than just a pricing issue. It signifies the death of Rock as a cultural force. The term “Rock Is Dead” has been said for years but this time it’s really happening. Well, it’s not exactly “dead” but like Jazz, it’s become a niche. It will keep it’s core audience which grew up on Rock but it’s not exactly growing armies of new listeners.

Gone are the days like when I was younger, when you would hear bands like Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, Metallica, etc. on mainstream radio. You not only heard them on radio but they were also pushing pop culture and selling multi platinum records while selling out stadiums. Rock just isn’t pushing popular culture anymore.

The new generation just isn’t into Rock for whatever reason. There’s just too many other things these days for a kid to get into, whether it’s video games or a newer form of music like Hip Hop. Sometimes you’ll meet a kid who will like Rock when they hear it, but as said before, it isn’t pushing popular culture anymore. Most kids these days don’t know Eddie Van Halen from his elbow. And there’s no guitar hero that’s going to bring Rock back to become a cultural force again. Time marches on. Sinatra never came back after the world heard Elvis.

Thinking about all of this brought me back to my younger years when me and friends knew this older Jazz guy named Tom who would play Jazz guitar and collect old Jazz records. We would laugh about how he was just so into this old style of music and really be into it.  This was his niche. We looked at him like he was some kind of dinosaur.

What comes around goes around. Now some youngster is probably amused by my taste in music with my collection of old Rock cds. This is my niche.

Now I’m the dinosaur.



The world lost a true artist today. Rest In Peace Angel.


If you, if you could return
Don’t let it burn
Don’t let it fade
I’m sure I’m not being rude
But it’s just your attitude
It’s tearing me apart
It’s ruining every day
For me
I swore I would be true
And fellow, so did you
So why were you holding her hand?
Is that the way we stand?
Were you lying all the time?
Was it just a game to you?
But I’m in so deep
You know I’m such a fool for you
You’ve got me wrapped around your finger
Do you have to let it linger?
Do you have to, do you have to, do have to let it linger?

Oh, I thought the world of you
I thought nothing could go wrong
But I was wrong, I was wrong
If you, if you could get by
Trying not to lie
Things wouldn’t be so confused
And I wouldn’t feel so used
But you always really knew
I just want to be with you
And I’m in so deep
You know I’m such a fool for you
You’ve got me wrapped around your finger
Do have to let it linger?
Do you have to, do you have to, do have to let it linger?

And I’m in so deep
You know I’m such a fool for you
You’ve got me wrapped around your finger
Do have to let it linger?
Do you have to, do you have to, do have to let it linger?

You know I’m such a fool for you
You’ve got me wrapped around your finger
Do have to let it linger?
Do you have to, do you have to, do have to let it linger?

-The Cranberries

Goodbye 2017, “don’t let the door hit ya.” It was a rough year but at the same time I learned many life lessons from it. Despite this chaotic year, there were a few bright spots. The last 2 months were actually good.

So welcome 2018. I’m ready to start on a clean slate. I’m ready to progress and grow. I wish for happiness, prosperity, abundance and peace to all.

Have a Happy New Year!



Hollywood has remade many famous movies in the past years. Some remakes were good, even surpassing the original.  I’ll name one movie that I thought was better than the original: ‘The Fly’. In my opinion, the 1986 remake starring Jeffrey Goldbloom was superior to the 1958 original.  It was not only better in special effects but also an improvement in the story. But I think these are rare occasions. Most remakes I’ve seen just don’t cut it.

Most remakes don’t live up to the original because they forgot what made the original great. A bigger budget and loaded with special effects does not equal a better movie. Take ‘Clash Of The Titans’ for example. The remake actually wasn’t bad, but they changed things in the movie thinking that it would be an improvement when actually it took away the appeal of why the original was great.  Part of the reason the original one was great was because of the character Bubo, The Mechanical Owl. The remake omitted this character except for a small cameo appearance.


Bubo was necessary in the film because he helped with the plot line and provided comic relief. Without him, it felt heavy handed and like something was missing, kind of like Star Wars without R2-D2. The original also featured the stop motion animation of Ray Harryhausen vs. the CGI special effects and computer graphics in the remake.  As cheesy as some of the stop motion animation looks now by today’s standard, I still preferred it to the computer graphics in the remake because I thought the stop motion animation fit the whole ‘mythology’ aesthetic better.  Ancient mythology should look old and archaic, which is the look that stop motion animation provided. The remake isn’t bad (I actually suggest watching to fans of the original to compare) but, some may not agree with me when I say this: ‘Clash Of The Titans’ belongs on the list of movies that should never be touched, along with ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.’ Oh well, too late.

There are lots of other movies that should never EVER be remade- it would equal sacrilege. There is a long list but I’ll just name a few that immediately stand out to me:

1) ‘Star Wars’ – Absolutely not.

2) ‘The Wizard Of Oz’- No, just no.

3) ‘The Godfather’ -Don’t even try it.

4) ‘Saturday Night Fever’- Don’t go there.

5) ‘Forrest Gump’- “Life is like a box of chocola”….oops….I mean, Don’t You Dare.

Anyway, this is all just my opinion of course. Take it for what it’s worth.



Over the last 20 years or so, Hollywood has hit us with remakes of numerous famous movies. From a commercial standpoint, I can understand why they do this. It’s easier to take an old movie that already has a legacy and a following of fans than creating something new hoping that this new thing will become a hit. The old classic already has a name and a built in audience who will pay to see the remake even if it’s just out of curiosity. This means easy money for the Hollywood studios for the most part.

Artistically though, I don’t always like or agree with movie remakes. Some Hollywood studios’ idea of improving an old movie is to make it more action packed and load it with more special effects than you can shake a stick at. First,  I will say that this strategy does work for some movies. For example, 2002’s Spider-Man was an incredible movie and needed this treatment. It was an improvement of the 1980’s Spider-man movie which was horrendous, in my opinion. The special effects in the 1980’s just wasn’t good enough back then to be able to pull off visually what is needed for these super hero movies.

But, bigger and faster doesn’t always mean it’s better. A good example of this is the remake of 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory, which was remade by Tim Burton in 2005 with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. Burton gave Willy Wonka an update, but was it needed?  Now let me first say that I am a huge Tim Burton fan and am in no way degrading his brilliant work with this opinion, but I just think the original movie couldn’t be improved upon. Below is an example of the original vs. the remake showing the famous Oompa Loompa scenes.

1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory


2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

As you can see, 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is more high tech with the modern special effects and CGI. For the Oompa Loompas, they took one actor and digitally replicated him creating an army of Oompa Loompas. This is impressive in terms of special effects and computer graphics. The 1971 version simply took individual dwarf actors and gave them each costumes and makeup. In my opinion, the old fashioned way was still better.  It looks better to me and it just “feels” better. For me, the original still wins.

Another good example of this is 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre which was remade in 2003 with the same movie title.  Below is a comparison of the two, with the movie trailers.

*Be warned: don’t watch these trailers if you are bothered by Horror, they are disturbing.

1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre



2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre


You can see by comparison, the 2003 updated version was filmed with better and more expensive cameras and had a younger and better looking cast including the popular Jessica Biel. It cost 9 million dollars to make compared to the original which cost only $300,000 dollars to make.  The newer version has technically better camera work and cinematography and shows more detailed gore. But is it more effective? In my opinion: no.

Artistically it misses the mark that the original hit. It’s actually the cheap camera and the old “grimy” look of that film they used in the 70’s that gives it that certain special “creep” factor. They totally missed the mark to begin with on the remake by using  glossier film. Also, although the newer version shows more detailed gore, the old version still wins in that department as well. Sometimes, what you don’t see is more effective than something that’s “on the nose” or blatantly obvious. For example, keep in mind that in the movie Psycho, they did not show one actual stab in the shower scene. It was the “idea” of someone being stabbed that made it that much more frightening. I’ll put it this way: the newer Texas Chainsaw Massacre frightened me for the night, while the original frightened me for life.

These are just two examples of remakes that missed the mark that I immediately had in mind. There are many more but I don’t have the space to include them all here. There’s just too many to list.

To reiterate, I’m not against ALL movie remakes. But a bigger budget with better special effects isn’t always an improvement. I’ll take the cheap camera with a stronger story line any day, thank you. Bigger and faster doesn’t always mean it’s better.




Vincent van Gogh’s work entitled ‘Irises’ is one of my favorite paintings. It has a lot to do with the fact that my favorite color is blue which this painting has a lot of. I also love the angles and shapes that he used.

Vincent painted this masterpiece while he was staying at the Saint Paul-de-Mausole asylum for the mentally ill in Saint Remy de Provence, France, in the last year before his death in 1890.

Vincent started painting Irises within a week of entering the asylum, in May 1889, seeing the Irises in the garden at the hospital. He produced an incredible body of work during this last year of his life including this one. By all accounts, painting and art is what he occupied most of his time with during his stay. It was his daily obsession.

He called painting “the lightning conductor for my illness” because he felt that he could keep himself from going insane by continuing to paint.

When I see ‘Irises,’ I see a man who masked his suffering by creating something beautiful. And in that beauty he felt a small glimmer of hope. And that glimmer of hope was enough to keep him going.

-Roz Abellera


These are my top 5 favorite artists who have influenced me to want to do art:

1) Pablo Picasso,  Born: October 25, 1881, Malaga, Spain, was one of the most influential artists/painters of the 20th century. To use an analogy, to me, he was like the Bruce Lee of visual arts in that he borrowed, mastered and mixed different styles to create his own-much like Bruce Lee did with Martial Arts. 

Picasso was important to me because at the time that I discovered him, I was hung up on what style of art I should do. Picasso showed me that as an artist, I don’t have to be pigeonholed within one style, I can explore and try anything I wanted. His career shows this philosophy in the way that he started out classically trained doing realistic paintings to doing strange abstracts and creating Cubism later in life. He was the prolific master.

More about Pablo Picasso:

2) Salvador Dali, Born: May 11, 1904, Figueres, Spain, was the most influential Surrealist Painter in art history. His signature style was to take realistic art and mix it in with dreamlike scenery. His famous painting, Persistence Of Memory  is a great example:


Persistence Of Memory depicts melting clocks against a barren landscape. This is just one example of the dreamlike worlds he created in his head.

Today, one can make scenes like this with a computer, but you have to remember, Dali did it with nothing more than his head, hands and heart. He was important to me because he showed that if you want to be technical, you don’t have to stick with plain and boring realism-you can create different, fantastic worlds with it.

More about Salvador Dali:

3) Vincent van Gogh, Born: March 30, 1853 Zundert, Netherlands, unfortunately is probably only famous to casuals for being the artist who cut off his ear and gave it to a woman at a brothel he frequented. Although to the history of art, he was much more than that. But he was a tortured artist who suffered from depression and mental illness and spent many of his last days in a mental hospital painting feverishly. Art was his obsession.

His paintings are known for its bold colors, bold lines and heavy brush strokes. Starry Night was arguably his most famous work:


To use an analogy, if we were talking about Rock music, Van Gogh was like the band Nirvana of his time. If you’re old enough to remember, when Nirvana came along, technical guitar solos with opera like vocals was the order of the day for Rock. Rock had become this technical type of music which required some great technical skill to play. Then Nirvana came along with a crude, raw sound that was based on “feeling” rather than being technical and they changed the face of music.

Van Gogh was the same as Nirvana in that during his time, realistic looking artwork was the call of the day and then he came along with his “crude” raw looking style based on feeling and emotion and made an impact. But unfortunately for him, he wasn’t popular and was often panned and ridiculed by critics . So much so, that he made little to no money as an artist while he was alive.  They saw his work as crude and talent less. I guess there is some justice in that his paintings today sell for millions of dollars.

The duality of van Gogh was that he was a tortured man who felt ugliness and pain in his inner world but brought grace and beauty  into the outer world through his art.  Unfortunately, he committed suicide at the age of 37.

Van Gogh was important to me because he showed that art can come from emotion and doesn’t have to be technically perfect. It can be used for pure expression.

More about Vincent Van Gogh:

4) Katsushika Hokusai, Born: Born: 1760, Edo, Japan.  He was a Japanese artist, painter and printmaker. He was known to use heavy lines and bold colors making his painting almost “cartoon-like” by today’s standards. He’s known to have influenced many Western painters, Van Gogh included. In fact you can see the heavy influence of his art in Van Gogh’s paintings. Hokusai’s most famous work is The Great Wave Off Kanagawa:


When I look at Hokusai’s work I think “style.” He wasn’t caught up in the academia of art and how things are “supposed to look.” Like in the picture of above, he didn’t follow any rules of how a wave is supposed to look in reality. He painted the waves his OWN personal way.

This is what he brings to the table. An artist should have his own personal style.

More about Katsushika Hokusai:

5) Whilce Portacio,  Born: July 8, 1963, Naval Station Sangley Point, Cavite City, Phillipines. He is a comic book writer and artist noted for his work on such titles as The Punisher, X-factor, X-men, Iron Man, Wetworks and Spawn. He was also one of the founders of Image Comics.

I was once a comic book nerd, still am to some degree, and when I first saw Whilce Portacio’s drawings I thought “wow.” There really is no other way to describe it other than that when he draws these comic book characters, they just look extra cool. When you see another comic book artist’s depiction of Spider Man or Wolverine, then look at Whilce’s version you see that his version has that “cool” factor about it. Check out his version of the X-men drawn in pencil:


Whilce Portacio is important to me because his art makes me want to pick up a pencil and just draw. His art sometimes tempts me to try my hand at doing graphic novels. Hmm?

More about Whilce Portacio here:

So these are my top 5. There are other artists that I love as well, but these are the main ones that had an impact on me. Check out their works and enjoy!

-Roz Abellera