Rick's Ramblings

You have found Rick's Ramblings, a Web Log.

I have been writing in this space for a few years now. Visit the archives to get a feel for my style.

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Email: rickumali@gmail.com

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Thursday, August 05, 2004
There's one scene in Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, in which James Hetfield, the lead singer, openly wonders whether the filming of their own documentary should even continue. When the directors (who appear in the film) ask whether Hetfield remembered his motivations for doing the documentary, he said (I'm paraphrasing): "I figured 'We're Metallica'; we're supposed to have a documentary."

This at once sums up the nature of "the monster" that is Metallica. A heavy metal icon, the band has been around for over twenty years. They have sold an immense amount of records. Their fans are loyal and legion. Should this band have a documentary? That's a silly question. Of course it should have a documentary.

I enjoyed watching Metallica's creative process so openly documented. The song writing, the riff conjuring, and the music making process is depicted as awkward, frustrating, and hardly glamorous. Their efforts in the studio and in the mixing sessions seem to yield precious few rewards.

The core band (Hetfield, outspoken drummer Lars Ulrich, and guitarist Kirk Hammett) have accumulated much wealth, and it is in full display, but throughout the movie they yearn for things that money can't buy: the love of their families and parents, the time and space to think, the opportunity to become better versions of themselves.

There are some inadvertent references to Spinal Tap, but Monster proves that art does imitate life. You see their children parading around in their studio. You see the band whining about their group therapy sessions. You see the rehabilitated Hetfield quitting "work" at 4 so he can catch his daughter's ballet class.

During the documentary, the group constantly struggled with the fear of being considered 'yesterday's music.' The ending suggests that they're still as vital as ever, but we've learned that it takes a lot of work to stay vital. It's a lesson worth seeing through this movie.



Sunday, August 01, 2004
My commute home begins with the walk from my office to the Kendall Square "T Stop". From Kendall, I take a train to the bus stop at Alewife. The train ride from Kendall to Alewife is about fifteen minutes. The 6:25PM bus gets me home in about twenty minutes.

The key factor to making the 6:25PM bus is the walk from my office. I leave work by 5:50PM. It takes a few minutes for the elevator to rise to the eighth floor office where I work. By the time I'm street level, it may be 5:53PM or 5:54PM. The walk from my office to the train can be done in ten or eleven minutes at a leisurely pace.

But I don't go at a leisurely pace. I walk heads down, long strides, taking a criss-crossing path that gets me to the T in about nine to ten minutes. A few days ago, however, I walked to the train with another person who went a completely different way. She said her route was faster, and I was amazed when we got to the T in slightly over eight minutes!

The new route crosses fewer streets, and when it does cross a street, the intersection is less busier, so I don't have to wait. The new route also cuts an angle. The sidewalk on this new route curves away from the T, but she cuts across this curve, going straight, making the walk seem even faster. The new route also avoids traffic lights, whereas my original walk crosses at least three lights.

We go through life accepting things as being 'set'. "That's the way I always walk." "That's the turn I always make". I was starting to get 'set' with my walk. It's rewarding to reexamine old habits, and to make new discoveries about them.

Now if I could only call up the elevator from my desk.





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