Earlier in the month, I was lamenting that I would be missing Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins at Trinity St. Paul's Church here in Toronto. I was in New York seeing Grey Gardens at the time so I'm only complaining a little bit.
I lent my poor student niece my camera and so she took some nice shots not only of Jenny but then of The Killers when they were at MuchMusic and some videos of Regina Spektor. Somewhere in there, she also went to see The New Pornographers. WTF man.
Fun Fact: Jenny is short.
Funner Fact: She put on a great show.
Funnest fact: Jenny and the band did a procession down the aisle to Jenny's accapella song Run Devil Run to open the show. How perfect.
Why here's Jenny now!
Click to enlarge.
All apologies to Skincarver in advance for yet another chick rock blog post. I swear I always start out writing about Nine Inch Nails and something happens.
1. Throw - Scritti Politti -- thanks Ben 2. Tango del Vampiro - Daniel Melingo -- not sure where I picked this up from but I love it 3. Windfall - Son Volt 4. The Wet Spot - Southern Culture on the Skids -- thanks Melinda June 5. Edith and the Kingpin - Joni Mitchell -- Ben again 6. Just As I Am - Kristin Chenoweth -- saw Wicked tonight so it's interesting that the original Glinda should infiltrate the mix 7. Shasta (Carrie's Song) - Vienna Teng 8. Nightswimming - R.E.M. -- ahh 9. Monkey's Paw - Laurie Anderson -- Melinda June had Laurie at #9 last week too. Freaky. Just like Laurie. 10. What'll I Do - Kate & Anna McGarrigle -- this song gets me every time.
Disclaimer: Everyone on my list or who surfs by this post, please stop and give it a go by posting on your own blog or in the comments. Or I'll sic Baby Jesus on you. Some think he has magical powers.
1. I was promoted from kindergarten to Grade One.I sailed right through those two piece wooden puzzles and never looked back, except to laugh at the people still having trouble with the two piece wooden puzzles.
2. My parents once gave me away for about 8 months. Unfortunately, I was not adopted by a celebrity, I was given back. Fuckers.
3. I have a tattoo. If I've mentioned this before, it's because I'm old but not so old that my tattoo's saggy.
4. You're still thinking about number 2. aren't you?It was like Running With Scissors but with less medication and turmoil. Don't worry, I'm fine, just not rich like Augusten Burroughs is.
5. Sometimes, I end up laughing in the middle of sex. Listen to yourself and your partner sometime. 6. Bonus thing because #4 doesn't really count: I wish I wasn't so glib. I'm the glibbest mofo I know.
Of my innumerable talents, playing an instrument credibly is not one of them.
Learning the toy xylophone may have been my crowning achievement as a little boy; oh how I’d tap out the simple colour coded nursery rhymes in the booklet never once realizing I might branch out on my own with original compositions.
When I became proficient at the two guitar chords required to strum my way to prominence in the junior choir at Church, I thought I’d made it. How long though can you play and sing Jesus Is Lord with feeling? Those were the words to the whole song. Repeat over and over and over while awkwardly alternating chords until your head spins.
Once in a while, being an open minded young man, I’d go all interfaith with my musical attempts. I played the Jew’s harp for a while. I know what you’re thinking, how could something you have to play with your hands and your mouth not be the sexiest instrument on the planet? Trust me.
Our school had choral competitions every year and the music teacher in her selection process would have us traipse up to her at the piano and sing a few bars. She’d yay or nay us and we were in or out. Listening for her was a common sense approach. When I was the only boy out of the whole Grade 6 class chosen to sing in the choir, I showed little common sense and bowed out in embarrassment.
We all had to play the recorder in school which may stand as one of the most ear damaging instruments in the history of junior band. Could they not just have told us Don’t blow so hard! Learning to play The Friendly Giant theme tune was cool though. Rest in peace Friendly!
A nun tried to teach me piano once but I lasted only one lesson because I knew I wasn’t yet ready to think with both of my hands. A friend of mine has offered to teach me to play now but when she talks about scales and drills, all I can think of is dentistry.
The big bass drum was a pretty sweet assignment in junior high music class and it was easy to hit your mark with that one. The teacher was cool too because he talked to us like maybe we were budding people instead of the mutants we were and about things like Saturday Night Live and his ponytail. And then they canned the music program.
My entire musical education summed up in a few short paragraphs. Where did it all go wrong?
Today as I made my way to the train, I saw a lot of confused elderly women shuffling about looking like they'd let go of the rope for just a second and gotten separated from their handlers. Rather than meanly push them out of my way, I leaned in to each one I passed and said You're going the wrong way.
Because the Metro Toronto Convention Centre is not far from the train station, I checked their website and learned that the source of all the blue haireds. The Canadian Diabetes Association was having their annual meeting under the same roof as the Creative Sewing and Needlework Festival. Be my guest.
Although my mother's not diabetic, she is old. That means that at one time, it was inevitable that she feel the lure of crafting as a means to fulfillment. Her demon? Macrame. Through several yards of complicated knots and loops, she became proficient at making 7 foot long planters from hot pink yarn for a time.
This led me to believe that if she could pull something like that off, I must be talented too. I went for the String Art. I completed several projects small and large and generally only screwed up once per project. I'm not sure what happened to my work but I have a feeling if I unravelled one of those damned planters of hers, I might find out.
Justacoolcat started me on the game he plays every week over at American Idle. It's as easy as hitting random and beholding the results.
Feel no shame as Abba and Megadeth get it on. It just proves how groovealicious you are.
My Random Ten this week:
1. The Mule - The Magic Numbers 2. Use It - The New Pornographers 3. Breakdown - Jack Johnson 4. Sentimental Journey - Benny Goodman 5. Abracadabra - Steve Miller Band 6. Pass The Hat - Southern Culture On The Skids 7. Far End of the Night - Grant-Lee Philips 8. Nineteen - Old 97's 9. Do The Do - Howlin'Wolf w/Clapton, Winwood, Wyman, Watts 10. Trash - The New York Dolls
After I watched The Proposition and wondered why Nick Cave had not been more heavily represented in my music collection, Holly suggested I give Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus a listen.
I bought the mp3 version of the album and loaded it onto the old music player and went to bed. The next morning, I set out on my early morning zombie autowalk to the train. I hit play. 6 seconds into GET READY FOR LOVE and I was. The urgency and force of the song got me all the way down the street to where the last beat of the song coincided with my first step onto the train platform. By that time, it no longer felt like 6:20 a.m. in the pouring rain.
I was able to hear most of the rest of the album on the way to work and fit the rest in at lunch time, happy to trade Nick in for the usual background boredom sounds. The album is filled with an intriguing mix of ferocity and simplicity that finds footing in several genres but mainly just sounds alive. The lyrics while beautiful are also often raw and unpolished to the point of undeniable weight. There's beauty in a well written line but sometimes the greater art is in the honesty.
With a little prompting, I recalled that I had seen Nick and the Bad Seeds perform in Wings of Desire and had also heard a few of his songs (Red Right Hand and Clean Hands, Dirty Hands) previously. I have a feeling I'm going to be hearing a lot more of you Nick.
Skincarver? I may need your help setting up that altar after all!
If I'm walking behind you and it's pedestrian rush hour and you keep slowing me down and then as I pass you I see that it's because you're walking while reading a book, you're fucking going down. I hate that shit.
I now return you to the sweetness and light that is Dale.
While in grade school, one of my favourite teachers took the class to a graveyard and showed us how to do charcoal rubbings of tombstones. The imprints we made on paper fascinated me almost as much as the cemetery.
We wandered the rows of towering monuments and smaller, plainer stones. Many of the older ones crumbled while struggling to remember who they were keeping company. Did the markers say more about who they watched over or those who had placed them there? I couldn’t say.
On Sunday afternoon, I thought I'd visit the Aurora cemetery to look for a headstone I'd heard about. John Bowser was a Canadian man who'd worked on the construction of the Empire State Building and helped bring the project in under budget and early but was not recognized for his efforts as well. When he died, a 10 foot tall granite likeness of the building was erected as his headstone.
After finding it and taking a photo (click to enlarge), I wandered around looking at some of the other stones. I couldn’t stay long because I’d naively been ready to admire the monuments but forgot that I was not prepared for a discussion with myself on mortality.
As I came upon a section of very small tombstones, some with teddy bears propped up against them, I felt glad not to have seen markers like these years ago as I wandered, charcoal and paper in hand.
It was laziness that kept me familiar with musician Nick Cave only as someone to confuse with Nick Drake. Thanks to Beth, I can now say I've had an education on the Drake.
Guy Pearce's mug on the dvd cover for The Proposition is the reason I picked this film up because he never lets me down -- Memento, L.A. Confidential, ...Priscilla. So it's Guy that gets the credit for clueing me in that Nick Cave can write moody and charged music and has enviable screenwriting talent as well.
The opening scene confronts with a violent chaos throwing you right into the dust of the wild wild west of late 1800s Australia. In order to win the freedom of his younger brother, Guy Pearce must track down and kill his older brother who is responsible for terrible acts of violence and murder. Giving him a period of days to accomplish this, local lawman Ray Winstone puts his authority and reputation on the line.
The breathtaking hostility of the land provides the backdrop for a morality tale with familiar themes but an uncommon beauty in the telling. Director John Hillcoat manages a significant amount of tension even as he leads us to an inevitable conclusion. The violence, while brutal, is used sparingly and to great and graphic effect and he draws memorable performances from the whole cast which includes Emily Watson and John Hurt.
After I'd finished rhapsodizing about the film, I asked my friend John what he thought and he said "It was boring".
So there you have it, a balanced look at The Proposition.
This morning, I decided against writing a post about an unpleasant exchange that took place at my hotel in New York last weekend. Just then, R.E.M.'s Leaving New York started to play and changed my mind.
I arrived at the hotel and was surprised to hear that the specific room I'd reserved was not available. I'd confirmed it was warm and waiting mere days earlier. The girl at the desk called over a colleague and advised him of the situation briefly.
The gentleman didn't bother to look up at me but rather, went to work on his computer and said Let me check and see if there's any other rooms that's available. I asked him why if my reservation had been confirmed was it no longer available. He looked up and said:
You know what? When you make a reservation, there's no guarantees. Like what if the hotel burned down? We wouldn't be able to give you the room you reserved you know?
And did the hotel burn down?
You're getting sarcastic with me.
Yes, you're offering an example that while true makes no sense in this situation. If you can explain why you're rescinding my reservation and if you have an alternative or option you can tell me about, I'll be more understanding.
Now you're just trying to get something and that's not going to work.
I asked him for his name and he gave me his card which identified him as the VIP/Events Co-ordinator.
Are you sure this is your card? I find it hard to believe that the title is correct considering the way you're talking to me.
Although I could tell he wanted to, the one part of his customer service training that stayed with him stopped him from punching me in the face.
There's another room I can show you and it's upgraded and that's all that's available. I followed him, he showed me the room and I told him it was lovely and would be fine.
As soon as I said this, he said it'll be an extra $300 because of the upgrades.
I won't be paying for upgrades based on a mistake your hotel made.
Well, I'll check on that and let you know.
I got a call within minutes saying that I could have the room without additional charges and later, a letter of profuse apology was slipped under the door with vouchers for free meals in the hotel restaurant.
On the flight home, I read an article in the New York magazine I'd picked up of at all places, the hotel. It dealt with the finer points of hospitality delivered by restaurant owner Danny Meyer. Following a reservation mishap involving the restaurant the interview took place in, Meyer had this to say:
That's a service error, not to honor the commitment of a reservation. Hospitality could have overcome that. It's an important distinction. Service is delivering on your promise. Hospitality is making people feel good while you're delivering on your promise. I would want our team to say it sounds like we made a mistake.
What if he knew they didn't, if the customer was simply a crackpot? I would still say it sounds like we may have dropped the ball on your reservation.
I've now torn the article from the magazine and put it in an envelope addressed to my favourite VIP coordinator. I'm not convinced he can read but maybe someone can explain it to him. That doesn't make me too much of a crackpot I hope.
4) One person who never fails to make you laugh? **Lorena
5) When you were 12 years old what did you want to be when you grew up? **13
6) What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? **Wait for the alarm to sound and shut it off.
7) Have you ever gone to therapy? **Only long enough to realize not everything can be blamed on your parents.
8) If you could have one super power what would it be? **X-ray vision. For all the pervy reasons.
9) Your favorite cartoon character? **Ralph Wiggum
10) Do you go to church? **No but I worship at several blog altars.
11) What is your best childhood memory? **My Dad lacing up my skates, the smell of my Mom’s bread baking and summers spent at the local pool.
12) Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual? **Considering the lack of general sticktoitiveness all around, I propose a new ritual: if I decide you’re not really giving it a good go before splitting up, I get to shoot you in the head.
13) Do you own a gun? **No, I abhor even the suggestion of violence.
14) Have you ever hit someone of the opposite sex? **Yes, but only with the butt of a gun.
15) Have you ever sung in front of a large number of people? **Yep, and played guitar in the Junior Choir. If the devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a tack. I could have been one of the New Main Street Singers.
16) What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex? **It changes from person to person and whether they’re wearing their default face or not. (I haven’t stopped thinking about the default face issue since Wonderturtle mentioned it).
17) What is your biggest mistake? **That’s probably for others to answer rather than me. I think I’m doing okay.
18) Say something totally random about yourself. **Did everyone take longest on this question? I purport to hate everyone and then hate myself because really, I need the people.
I’ve been told that red is my colour. A co-worker was going on at length once – look at my nail polish everyone, isn’t it the best? Don’t you love the shade? I just love the colour, don’t you just love it? Isn’t it just a fantastic shade of red? What do you think Dale? I think it really brings out the veins in your eyes. She saw red but in a different way.
19) Has anyone ever said that you looked like a celebrity? **My mother told me once she thought I looked like John Travolta. Keep in mind she also pronounces the word as match-oh. Vicky once told me I looked like Don Knotts. She wishes I’d stop telling people this and just forget it but I can’t. I’m crying right now.
20) What is the most romantic thing someone of the opposite sex has done for you? **Set me up with soft candlelight and knocked me down with crazy sex.
21) Do you actually read these when other people fill them out? **No, I only look at the pictures.
22) Is it wrong to not tag anyone? **Yes it is but Dale but you know what you're like, not wanting to annoy anyone unless it's on purpose.
I really shouldn’t presume to tell Broadway veterans how to mount a show but I’m not going to let that stop me.
Can you honestly tell me that a musical called Grey Gardens doesn’t have at least a few problems when it takes an Act and a half to get to a song called Entering Grey Gardens? When I first heard that the 1975 documentary about a mother and daughter in decline was to be made into a musical, I was intrigued and a little fearful. Thankfully, Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson put my fears to rest by bringing the raw pain, frailty, humour and resolve that these larger than life characters demanded.
Paired with a few awkward bits of staging and a secondary cast that was pedigreed but unremarkable, a certain number of unnecessary songs threatened to send the whole production into disrepair. On more than one occasion, a truly powerful and poignant moment ended up feeling diluted by a song that seemed to just be taking up space rather than being essential.
Try and remember -- when you’re folding an entire audience into smallish theatre seats for more than 2 ½ hours, the way to keep things moving is to find great ways to get your point across, not to just write another song. I spied Joel Grey in the audience and for one night only, I envied him his little legs. The heartbroken but still poised and pretty Edie of Act 1 in no way resembled the Edie who emerged in Act 2 which didn't matter until after the fact when you had time to think about it. Several years had passed during intermission and when we rejoined the madness in progress, she was possessed of an entirely different speech pattern and her eccentricities were in full control, a stunning transformation on Christine Ebersole's part. As soon as she stepped on stage, it was impossible to take your eyes off of her. It was a perfect performance and she inhabited the songs like they were a part of her soul. As Big Edie, Mary Louise Wilson was no less astonishing as she got you to laugh, cringe, and question without seeming false for a moment. Together, they took the show well past its flaws with their remarkable achievements.
From the moment I heard the cd Rabbit Fur Coat by Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins, I've been pushing it like I'm on Jenny's payroll. I didn't even let up when my blogging pal Gizmorox referred to the backup talent as Creepy Twins! Creepy Twins! I did laugh pretty hard; adult twins should rethink the dressing alike thing.
This Saturday night, the gang will be performing at beautiful Trinity St. Paul's Church in Toronto which I hear has excellent acoustics. It was also the recording site for the first album by Cowboy Junkies which was a critical and popular hit.
My niece will be at Jenny's big show on Saturday and although I’m jealous, I’ve got a good reason for not going. I’m getting in a quick trip to NYC to see the new show Grey Gardens.
I can barely believe that they've turned what was a compelling and odd documentary into a Broadway musical but I’m game. There’s also a feature film planned with the likes of Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore just to add to the insanity.
I'll be back in time for (Canadian) Thanksgiving on Monday and hopefully will be less negligent in visiting each and every one of your sexy sexy blogs. Unless the turkey does me in.
Only recently have I been smart enough to begin the difficult weaning process when it comes to Amazon and some of my other online retailing friends. After all, there are more reasonable alternatives to my high falutin' money wastin'.
There still are some things I can never lay my hands on.
Where's a guy to go when he needs a replacement copy of the brilliant Miss America cd by Mary Margaret O'Hara?
The wordwhoreseems as though it's undergone a makeover. It's become a bit less dangerous. Whereas people used to use it exclusively as an invective, it's now cropping up more and more as a way for people to describe themselves.
Good sir Mob over at Dear Bastards might be described as a bit of a Link Whore. Check any of his posts and you'll see that he's all about pointing you in the direction of which he speaks. It's like a bit of extra value for the money really.
Ever heard of a Comma Whore? Well, boys and girls, she's real and her name is Melinda. She was recently labelled an American Comma Whore by some of her Brit workmates. If you ask me, she uses just the right number per post.
Since I shouldn't really just sit here calling everyone else names, I'll cop to the fact that I've become a Comment Whore. Most of my fun on the blog comes from reading and responding to the comments on these posts. A lot of them are much funnier and more original than the posts themselves. Thanks guys.
Oh, and just in case you're wondering where all the bad girls have gone (toot toot beep beep), Beth recently worried about becoming Whore of the Blogosphere. And here you thought she was only Little Miss Sunshine.
Apart from being a lovely song, what do I know about oleander? Nothing much. I looked it up and now know that it's an incredibly poisonous flower. So I can guess at at least one of the plot points of the movie White Oleander which I've not seen. There's a band called Oleander.
Oh, and it's my middle name. Okay, maybe that part's not true.
I couldn't decide how best to humiliate myself. Should I go with the bad haircut, food stain at the corner of my mouth and what looks like a pyjama top? The guy on the shirt says it all. I think I was about 8 or 9 here.
Or should I opt for the utter lack of a haircut and prisoner Tee? The way the scenery in the backdrop runs out at the bottom is breathtaking. Is this what Jack Johnson meant when he sang The Horizon Has Been Defeated? Oh to never be 12 again! I am so glad I grew up!
Okay, hit me with your best shot. I can't wait to see the rest of you lovelies as Beth links you all up.