Archive: March, 2009
Interview with Amandah Romick of Philly rock band Bells Bells Bells. They've got a new album called Throw Down Your Anchor. Tomorrow is their big birthday show at the North Star.
City Paper: What's the story behind your band's name?
Amandah Romick: It's both the title of an e.e. cummings poem and an Edgar Allan Poe poem. We each have a little inner modernist and goth.
CP: How'd you guys get together?
AR: Kevin [Fassett]'s band came to see a band I used to play in and we began talking about writing some songs together. We met Kat [Paffett], who was playing with An Albatross and Prowler (she still does) a few months later and became friends. it was natural that we should all see how we sounded playing together and before we knew it she was playing keys on our first record and has been a huge part of the band ever since. Jason [Gray], our bass player, and I went to high school in NJ together and after our first bass player and drummer didn't work out he began playing with us and brought Nick [Awesome] along. I really love this lineup. It's the band I always wanted.
CP: Who writes the songs? What's the music-making process?
AR: Usually Kevin, Kat and I will have writing sessions where we flesh out skeletons we have visualized individually. Kevin and Kat will have a riff or I'll have a melody and together we'll see if it has any potential to become a song. I write the lyrics. Then we'll approach it all together as a band and see if it sinks or swims.
CP: Are you guys working on recording any new material?
AR: We have some great new material we plan on turning into our third record over the summer. It's darker and heavier than our previous material. We're really excited about it. we feel we've really come into our own space with the new stuff. We'll be recording with Isaac Betesh who did Throw Down Your Anchor.
CP: When it comes to playing shows, what's your favorite venue?
AR: North Star is fun because there's a balcony and the sound is better than most venues.
CP: Any memorable moments on stage?
AR: All moments on stage are memorable. I like it when the audience involves itself instead of just standing and watching. Although I like to be watched.
CP: Why do you make music?
AR: Frustration. The music in my head didn't exist out there in the world.
CP: Three things/people that inspire you musically?
AR: Ok, this is going to be for me personally. I can't speak for the band. PJ Harvey, Syd Barrett, Arthur Lee.
CP: If you had to describe your band with one word, what would it be?
Bells Bells Bells play tomorrow, March 14 at the North Star with Frisky or Trusty, The ART of Shooting and cinema cinema.
If people stayed out of Jack's way, this whole series would never have happened.
Featuring: The saddest silent clock since Edgar. Hell, maybe even Teri.
Our sketchy vice president is busy getting the news about the White House siege from a fake CNN-like channel. Really? Shouldn't he know this stuff before Fake CNN? Our otherwise useless VP is there to remind us that he won't authorize a rescue mission until he knows exactly what is going on inside the White House. Which is kind of what a rescue mission might determine.
Inside, daughter Olivia and Mme. Pillowface weep and hug and let bygones be bygones, which means Olivia is going to do something truly horrific in the very near future.
Jack has joined the group of hostages sitting outside of the non-locked-down Presidential Panic Suite. Jack whispers to Bill that in the three seconds it took him to open the door, he also managed to come up with a plan, set it up, and brief the president. He released some kind of gas in the Presidential Panic Suite, and he exposits to Bill that just one bullet fired in the vicinity would cause a mega explosion. Jack explains his plan, aka his 4,000th attempt to die for his country. He will run to the room, draw the Juma Gang's fire, and then, well, explode. Bill looks troubled.
In an awesome moment straight out of Junior High, Senator Mayer Wiener leans over to the two cool boys and is all, 'hey guys, what are you doing? Tell me your plans and then maybe we can hang out or something.' Jack tells him to shut up and gives him a wedgie.
Across the room, Juma tells Pillowface she will be reading a statement detailing the 'crimes' she committed against Sangala. The Juma Gang has a camera and they are all ready to post her statement on YouTube. Still thinking she is in charge, Mme. Pillowface says she will read the statement if Juma releases a hostage. Important lesson on word choice: she probably should have said, 'I will read the statement if you release a hostage, meaning the hostage gets to leave and stay alive until he or she dies a natural death, not 'release' in the sense of you releasing someone from life via a well-placed bullet.' Juma happily agrees to take advantage of her vague language and selects a Red Shirt to stand up and get 'released.' Mme. Pillowface, who increasingly seems to have never watched this show before, actually looks like she's won a victory, until Juma shoots Red Shirt in the head. Juma asks if she wants him to 'release' any more hostages ' apparently along with a love of violence and oppression, General Juma also loves him some wordplay.
|The Candyman cannot.
Mme Pillowface starts her Sangala podcast, and everyone outside scrambles to shut off the connection but apparently cannot. Hey, is Chloe still locked in a room at the FBI? She could probably help.
Larry Moss calls the Vice President to tell him that it's getting more and more obvious that Juma plans to kill the president, and they need to go rescue her asap. Our VP, though, wants to be 'prudent' and 'open dialogue' with the terrorists. This response gains him a lot of eye-rolling from Larry, Renee, and the good folks at Fox. 'Effin Liberals.
Back inside, Bill and Jack whisper about how Juma still has a mole somewhere. Bill says that Jack is the only one who can get out there and find the rest of the bad guys. And then, before Jack or any of us even have time to yell 'DON'T DO IT,' Bill steals Jack's martyr thunder. Usurping Jack's suicide mission, Bill runs to the Presidential Panic Suite, grabs and fires a gun, and blows himself to holy hell.
Chaos ensues and everyone starts running and shooting, but it's hard to see exactly what is going on through all of the tears, er, smoke. Since he's the only redeemable character left, Aaron Pierce ignores his own bullet wound and runs to protect Mme Pillowface and Olivia. Senator Mayer Wiener stands still and screams (he would say 'like a girl,' sexist liberal that he is) and Jack employs his much-maligned 'violence' technique to save the senator's ass. Jack then faces down Juma, who pretends to surrender and then tries to shoot Jack. Really, Juma, that's never a good idea. Jack enjoys a little more violence and ends the whole Sangala conflict. Larry and Renee's troops come rushing in after Jack and Aaron have already taken care of everything. Larry gets all bossy and goes to secure the president. Jack sits down and cries over Bill's body. But he's not really dead, right? Until we see a closeup of a totally dead, charbroiled body there's no way he's ' oh. He appears to be dead dead, not Almeida dead. But there's still one more test of 24 deadness ' yup, there it is. The Silent Clock. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Who's going to tell Karen Hayes? Who's going to tell Chloe?
And now, an obituary for Bill Buchanan:
Buchanan, Bill, of Washington, D.C. formerly of Los Angeles and Seattle, died on Day 7 at 9 p.m. of highly unnatural causes. He is survived by his wife, Karen Hayes. Bill received a BA in English from Brown University (according to the 24 Wiki, which clearly has too much time on its hands). This degree surely served him well when he became a homeland security officer in Seattle. He later moved to Los Angeles to head up the LA office of CTU, where a vacancy existed due to Jack Bauer putting a bullet in the former head's head. Bill really came into his own in this position, moving from a typical obnoxious micromanager (and potential love ruiner for Tony and Michelle) into the one boss who actually understood Jack. He held this position until he was fired by Karen Hayes (yes, the same Karen Hayes). Bill's real accomplishment, though, was doing something few others have done in the 24-verse: He managed to be cool/rogue and he did not torture people. Ok, he authorized Jack to torture people, but he didn't do it himself. He was the only boss who did not spend the majority of his screen time ruining everything and/or being a weasel. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you send donations to the Will Someone Finally Start Doing Background Checks on High-Ranking Government Officials Fund.
Back to the show:
Mme Pillowface is insisting on staying in the White House, and she would like an update on Skelehubby (still in surgery). We are told, thankfully, that Aaron will survive. Olivia cries about how scared she was and Mme Pillowface tells her it's over and that they are safe. Now it's definite that she never watched this show before. Mother and daughter decide to put their past behind them and there is more hugging. Olivia glances a bit too long at semi-shirtless Aaron as he walks over to get treated. Ew.
Renee approaches still-mourning Jack and tells him the president is safe. Jack expresses his grief over Bill taking the suicide mission away from him. Three seconds later, Jack has done enough emoting, so he gets up and tells Moss that there is another mole in the government. He politely asks to 'talk' to Ryan Burnett again. He even promises not to touch him. Larry is a tool so he takes Jack into custody again. Larry and Renee snipe about her totally obvious crush on Jack. Renee gets a rogue look in her eye, and goes to find Chief Maybebad to go over Larry's head.
Jon Voight is watching Fake CNN, too. His lackey tells him Pillowface is alive and Juma is dead. Jon Voight offers a piece of poetic praise to the president: 'You gotta admire the damn bitch, she doesn't give up easily.' Jon Voight tells his lackey to have a drink and relax, and he says that everything is still on track. He mentions the shipment again, but clarifies that it is weapons, not LL Bean fleeces as previously reported in this column. Our bad. Jon Voight settles in to nail down some targets for said weapons.
Larry is having Jack escorted back to the FBI when Chief Maybebad calls to tell him Renee went over his head. He authorizes Jack to 'talk' to Burnett. Chief Maybebad points out that just having Jack in the room is enough to scare someone, which is fair. We find out that Chief Maybebad made this decision alone and is leaving Pillowface out of the loop.
|Teri Bauer knew a little something about having a bad day.
Speaking of Pillowface, she is working with some dude named Patrick and they are both crying a little over their bad day (somewhere, Teri Bauer is saying, 'oh, please'). Chief MaybeBad comes in and has a lingering hug with Pillowface. It verges on awkward. Pillowface announces that she wants to bring Olivia on as a 'special advisor.' Chief Maybebad tells us why everyone hates Olivia: apparently she leaked damaging personal information about Pillowface's opponent and almost cost Pillowface the election. Really, that's it? Chief Maybebad wants nothing to do with the bad seed, but Pillowface insists and is kind of mean about it. Chief Maybebad lies to Pillowface about the whole Jack/Burnett 'conversation' about to take place.
Larry is mega-pissed at Renee for going over his head and Renee offers the standard argument that Jack does terrible things but he always wins. She mentions that if everyone had just stayed out of Jack's way none of this would have happened. If people stayed out of Jack's way, this whole series would never have happened. Larry suspends Renee and says he can't trust her.
We are treated to an overly long and majestic shot of the helicopter carrying Larry and Jack to Burnett. Larry snits to Jack about Renee and says he has known her for nine years but she has never done anything like the crap she's pulled in the past nine hours. Jack is quite the influence.
Pillowface PSA's us about climate change. She tells us the planet is running out of time, among several other terrible 24-related puns.
Jon Voight is in his lair being briefed on target options and civilian casualties. He is also told that Jack is being sent to 'talk' to Burnett, but no one has to worry because somebody named Quinn is going to go take care of both of them. Jon Voight points out that Quinn is good, but Jack is good, too.
At the hospital, the doctor has to revive Burnett because he's in a torture coma or something. The doctor briefly tries out some anti-torture comments but Jack shoots him down with the catch-all 'he's a terrorist.' The doctor's like, 'ok.'
Quinn is dressed up as a doctor (hospitals, like our government, never check ID badges). We've seen him before, in the 24 Redemption Movie Extravaganza. Quinn goes into a room and visits two old, sick men. He asks about their families and then smothers the man who doesn't have any grandkids. Jewish mothers everywhere start calling their kids to say, 'you see what HAPPENS when you don't give us grandchildren?' Old dead man was a distraction for the nurses so that Quinn can do fancy computer stuff that tells him where to find Burnett. Quinn slips into an air duct.
Olivia visits a recovering Aaron to thank him for taking a bullet for her. She tells us/him that he retired and she asks him about Martha Logan. Apparently they broke up after the whole stabbing incident, but Olivia seems to imply that something else 'happened' to her. Aaron gets defensive for a minute but does not explain what happened. Please let this be a prelude to more Jean Smart, please, please, please. And, if it's not too much to ask, can we get Delta Burke, Dixie Carter, Annie Potts, and Meshach Taylor?
|Next Week on 24?|
Chief Maybebad begrudingly asks Olivia to be special advisor. Olivia responds by turning nasty and calling him incompetent. She says she is going to find out who 'failed' her mother and make sure that person is never in a position to do it again. Let the games begin, little Sherry Palmer.
At hospital, Jack is ready to move in to see Burnett and Larry's all, 'I'm watching you.' He even puts his hand menacingly on Jack's chest, so Jack looks at him in way that most likely made him pee himself a little. In truth, he is watching Jack, through a video feed.
Jack wakes up Burnett with a sweet, 'remember me?' Burnett immediately starts screaming. Quinn is in the ceiling over the room. He must have watched Speed recently, because he has the idea to loop an innocent-looking image of Jack standing next to Burnett's bed so that those outside of the room can't see what's really going on. Hopefully Jack didn't fix his skirt or anything obvious to give it away. Quinn then drops a gas canister in. It's our favorite fake paralytic that makes you stiff and makes you drool but somehow never lasts long and never inhibits your ability to breathe. Jack drools. Quinn slits Burnett's throat and stabs him in the chest. On this show, you can't be too careful. Jack becomes undrooly and follows Quinn out into the air duct.
The live feed comes back on, Burnett is dead and Jack is gone. Of course, all of the Larrys of the world immediately assume Jack went superrogue and stabbed Burnett. Jack doesn't help his situation by knocking out a security guard on his way out. Quinn calls Jon Voight to say Burnett is dead. Voight says, 'now we're having some fun.' Hilarious delivery, Mr. Voight. Well done.
Jack calls Larry and blatantly tells him this is a frame-up, but Larry doesn't seem to buy it. Jack, once again, is alone and on the run. It must be Monday.
- Various Juma Gang members and agents in the firefight (no numbers yet)
- The last shred of Senator Mayer's dignity
- General Juma
- And of course, a silent clock for Bill Buchanan.
Next Week: The bad guys threaten Morris -- hopefully they won't tickle him or he'll probably build them a nuke. Jack threatens Senator Mayer Wiener.
We like American Idol ' too much.
Tommy Button: I got a sneaking suspicion that this season isn't really guonna get good until Top 5 at least.
Molly Eichel: I'm a little pissed at the judges this week. They are always, always complaining about how no one can sing Michael like Michael. They gave Kris Allen crap during Top 36 and now they are going to make everyone do it? I call bull shit. Also: Paula, cool it with the self-tanner.
TB: I'll give it to 'em that Michael Jackson songs is a pretty tall order. There are only a few contestants that I think can even touch that shit. And Lil Rounds, the one that I thought would blow my box all over the damn room, left me cold and limp.
Lil Rounds - "The Way You Make Me Feel"
TB: Lil disappointing. Thinking about it, I can't even remember what song she sang. I have no doubt she'll be fine and get many more opportunities to go ape shit on my box but I didn't think it was a very powerful Top 13 debut. Having to say 'Top 13' pisses me off too. Why 13? Why 13 when you're just gunna cut 2 contestants the first week anyway? Nevermind. Simon also made a comment about Lil's outfit which I have no opinion on but I think when Simon insults your clothing it's good. He knows anything he says is useless because she'll be back next week so why not talk about clothes?
ME: This is my third favorite Michael Jackson song of all time so I'm biased but I don't think she was that horrendous. The problem here still lies with the theme of the week: The only person whose voice really suits this song is Michael himself. I'm glad she didn't cop out with a ballad, that would have be too easy (see Jasmine Murray).
Scott McIntyre - "Keep the Faith"
TB: This guy should quit Idol and tour the country as an inspirational speaker. I might actually think I could defeat global warming if Blind Guy just fucking sang about it. I wasn't even listening to the guy as much as I was thinking about his blindness and how I have two perfectly good eyes that I've done nothing with besides watch American Idol. I didnt know this Jackson song but he still did a good job and sang his heart out. Kudos. He's a def Top 5er. And someone should cut his hair. Is his stylist blind too?
ME: To me, Blind Guy always sounds like he should be soundtracking a Christian youth group. You have to be squeaky clean to win Idol, but he's gotta dirty it up a little bit. The best thing for him right now? Innocuous sex scandal.
Danny Gokey - "PYT"
TB: If anybody deserves love in this world, it's Danny Gokey. Everytime they do a little "get to know the contestant" segment I watch Danny Gokey and just think about how much of a bastard I really am. "P.Y.T." might be one of my favorite Jackson songs and he fucking got down with it. Putting the mic to the crowd being like "shiiiiiit, i could let you assholes sing and i'll still get through."
ME: Danny Gokey makes me think that life is worth living. "PYT" is definitely up there when it comes to Michael songs and I'm also glad he didn't cop out with a a ballad. With that in mind, he actually sounded better on the bigger notes, which worries me when it comes to other genres. Screw that, this guy could sing Joy Division and I'd still want to hug him.
Lindsey Proulx: Danny Gokey will you marry me?
Michael Sarver - "You are not Alone"
TB: The problem with a lot of these contestants this season is that I don't think many of them have the capacity to grow on people. Oilrig sang his heart out no doubt but I still ff'd on my dvr half way through. I'm not very interested and being from Texas myself, I'm usually really into people/things from Texas. Funny thing. Well 'funny' isn't really the word. BUT Oilrigs hometown of Jasper was the town where a black man was dragged to death behind a truck for something like 3 miles. Vote for him NOW, America...
ME: This guy's problem is going to be genre hopping. He's one of these guys who will do well when he's in a genre that he's comfortable with (country, rock-pop) but be totally fucked when he has to do something that calls for more elasticity. He'll make it to the middle of the pack and then get ousted on disco week or something. I like how they keep trying to tell us how manly he is, though.
Jasmine Murray - "I'll be There"
TB: How the mighty have fallen. She was sooo good in Hollywood and was granted a second chance as a wild card and is following Anoop's bloddy footprints. I hate to say it but I think she sang her swan song last night. and swans sound terrible.
ME: She's too young! Her voice isn't mature enough for this song. She's going to sound so much better in a couple years. She just needs to thicken it out a bit. And for christ's sakes, she's like 12. Cool it with the terrible ballads already. Here's why she should leave: The judges told her to pick songs that show off her voice while remaining young. That's good advice. But she just doesn't get it and song choice is almost as important as performance.
Kris Allen - "Remember the Time"
TB.Guitar was a smart move. Bringing out the wifey, not really. They haven't even been married long. They're in that "love" phase of their relationship still I guess. But will the pressures of having a husband with a bone every teenage girl wants to jump strain their marriage? Stay tuned!
LP: I don't really care for him musically, but he's just so cute that it doesn't really matter. And I agree with Simon and Tommy, he should have kept the wife hidden. Katy and Kris, barf.
ME: Say hello to this year's Jason Castro ' minus the possibility that he's totally blazed during the live telecast. Which makes me like him less. I say Top 5 for him, then he's gone.
Allison Iraheta - "Give It To Me"
TB: The only time this girl's mouth should open it should be only to sing. Seacrest, just stop asking her questions. It's uncomfortable. That whole "I'm not, like, cutting myself" comment was weird.When I reference self mutilation I always go with setting myself on fire jokes. It even illicited a "zip it" motion from Paula who looked like Cindy McCain if somebody loaded an elephant gun with green eye liner and shot her in the face. But when Paula thinks you should shut up, you should probably just cut yourself.
ME: For the love of god, will someone give her media training? This girl reminds me of an old, French prostitute and I say that in the best way possible. Barring maybe Lil and Matt, she's the only one who gives off a real sense of what she would like to be doing post-Idol.
Anoop Desai - "Beat It"
TB: The Indians were doing so good too what with Slumdog Millionaire and Ghandi and all that. The judges probably picked Michael Jackson songs just because they wanted to see who would fuck up and sing "Beat It" or "Bad" or "Thriller" or some other song only the Mike I like can sing. By the end of Anoop's performance that stage was covered in blood from where he shot himself in the foot.
ME: Look, here's another kid who knows he's not the best singer in the bunch. But he also knows he can perform the fuck out of a song and the girls will scream and get excited. This has never been a competition about musical talent; it's always been about charisma. And Anoop has had it since he walked in to the audition room. I wouldn't be surprised if he makes it farther than you think he will.
Megan Joy Corkery - "Rockin' Robin"
TB: Super. Fucking. Hot. I would be the father to her child if only I could actually marry Danny Gokey and just bang Megan. It might just be her hotness but she's kind of growing on me in a weird way. Not in any way that would make me buy her album or anything. Maybe in a way where Google image search her when I'm bored at work.
LP: Stupid song choice. Stupid dance moves. Wicked hot.
TB: Stupid ex-husband.
ME: As a heterosexual female, I, too, would do Megan. Is it the tats? Is it the awful dance moves? I'm gonna disagree with you, Lindsey, on song choice. She knows she doesn't have a great voice and this way she got to perform. Kara said she didn't show her range but maybe it's because she knows she doesn't have one. And: Happy Birthday, Megan's brother! You are also attractive!
Adam Lambert - "Black or White"
LP: I want to hate him so badly but every time he gets on stage I totally fall in love with him. The guy can perform. And he was much better at being Mike than Mick. But please, stop with the close-ups!
TB: Not an Adam Lambert fan. Never was Lambert fan. Never will be a Lambert fan. That being said, he kind of fucking rocked. He was clearly the only dude on the stage that night whose voice was suited for Michael Jackson. But the dude looks better the further away you get. In close ups he looks like a drag queen who forgot his rouge.
ME: Wow, I go a completely different way here. I loved Adam at first and while I know the kid's got stage presence, this made me hate him. Still, unless he fucks up, he's got an easy path to the Top 3. But Adam shares another problem with Kris: He's unavailable to screaming females 'cause dude is obvs gay. Sure, he's gonna have every gay male on his side but will a bunch of horny teenage girls keep voting for a Judy Garland fan? Sure, they voted Clay Aiken through, but he never, ever had the sex appeal thing going for him. This is precisely why I find American Idol so fascinating.
Matt Giraud - "Human Nature"
TB: I liked this dude so much in Hollyweird when he sang Georgia On My Mind but he's gotten into the habit of not blowing it out the box. Like his Coldplay rendition. My box was actually totally recontructed during that performance it was so shitty. But he's getting better. If he can stick around for a little longer I think he'll find his niche and might actually fuck up some boxes.
ME: "Georgia" is his best performance so far but I think the Coldplay thing was fluke. He seems so much more comfortable with a piano and I love his voice. It's got the silky smoothness of Elliot Yamin. But he's not hideously ugly like Elliot Yamin. So that helps.
Jorge Nunez - "Never Can Say Goodbye"
TB: Can't wait till this guy gets an eyebrow trim. I really like him. I like that Idol auditioned in PR this year and found a really good PRican. True, it also gave us Tatiana but nutjobs are half the reason we watch this show. His performance was good, not great, but I like rooting for him and I think also Michael Jackson songs are not his forte.
Alexis Grace - "Dirty Diana"
TB: Alexis vaguely reminds me of the woman who used to cut my hair from ages 11 to 18. Her name was Trisch and I don't know what happened to her but seeing Alexis takes me back to my buzzcut days so I have an affinity for this young starlet. I can't even say I really like her singing all that much but I just want her to do well. She was the best girl this round and a shoe in for the Top 5.
ME: That's Ms. Grace if yo nasty! I'm so glad someone did "Dirty Diana" and I'm so glad it was Alexis. This girl has a got a nice little growl on her but I don't know how long she can keep up the bad girl facade. I'm afraid she's gonna slip into being a sweetheart again and then what am I going to do with her?
Went home: Jasmine, Jorge
Whoa! Anoop coming outta left field with the safe!!! I had all my money against him but I guess I'd rather see him stay then Jorge,even though I also like everything about him but his brow. Jasmine was no surprise and I'm glad to see her go.
ME: I find it ironic that both Attack of the Killer Eyebrow men were on the chopping block. Conspiracy? Probably. When it all comes down to it, Jorge is a better singer but Anoop is the one I want to see perform every week.
TB: But enough about that, what is this new rule?! The judges have a save and here's how it works: After you get kicked off, you sing your heart out one more time and if the judges unanimously agree that you deserve a second chance, you stay and the next week to contestants leave. If you don't get a second chance then you just get told for second time that night that you suck. I dunno if I like this rule, what with the judges lording over the voters. Trying to undermine the American people, eh? Well, I don't like it! And I won't stand for it! Unless of course they use it to save someone I like. It's fine in that case.
ME: Here's the deal, though: Simon always hated on Jennifer Hudson. Always! From her outfits to her performance. Would he have saved her? Probably not. Tamyra Grey was a better singer than Kelly Clarkson. Should she have gotten the save? Considering Kelly fights it out with Carrie Underwood for the most successful post-Idol career, I say no. Daughtery should have won. There's no arguing with that.
TB: The most flabbergasting moment of the night, though was Kanye West performing. I really used to like Kanye but ever since 808s and Heartbreak or whatever Bass and Bitching, I dunno, I've had my reservations. His performance was super self-indulgent in his Canadian tuxedo touching girls hands like some attention starved Idol contestant. Rap, dammit!
ME: What is this? American Autotune? Although, I would really enjoy seeing T-Pain on next week. But, I really enjoy the new Kelly Clarkson's new song, a) because you know Clive Davis took her aside after her last record and was like "Bitch, please," which I think is funny coming from a slight 80-year-old man and b) it's essentially a happy version of "Since U Been Gone."
TB: And Kelly is looking a little plump. Maybe she's pregnant. She seems like one of those chicks who doesn't know they're pregnant until there's a baby in the toilet.
"Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot will be shot."
There's no question that The Lesson is illogical, and often nonsensical.' The central action concerns a professor (Tom Byrn) instructing his pupil (Kate Black-Regan) in basic arithmetic (a little curious, since she's a high school graduate on her way to earning a "total doctorate," but at least the math is correct) and comparative linguistics (in this case wholly invented and preposterous, concerning among other things the imperceptible distinctions between Spanish, Neo-Spanish, Sardinopolian and Oriental, but consistent within its own batty logic).' Oddly enough, though, the more eccentric aspects of the narrative end up feeling secondary to The Lesson's larger, lingering resonance.' The play's nonsense is comic, even whimsical, but the comedy is ultimately outpaced by tragic, disturbing overtones which stem not from absurdity but from a recognizable, albeit grossly warped and distorted, form of psychic realism.
As the lesson progresses, the pupil develops a (plausibly psychosomatic) toothache, which the professor ignores cruelly and pointedly ' watching Black-Regan contort her face in mounting agony, fluctuating between indignant protestation and resigned obedience in the face of Byrn's apoplectic, spittle-flecked determination to complete his lecture, was deliciously distressing.' That queasy tension, deriving though it does from an implausibly exaggerated set of circumstances, is nonetheless entirely psychological and empathetic.' Enhanced by the mysterious yet clearly ill-portending warnings ("philology leads to calamity!") of the professor's too-deferential maid (Jane Moore), the tension even functions to propel the plot, in an almost banal, linear fashion, as the play builds surely and steadily to a climax which I feel I should leave unspoken even though the concept of a "spoiler" would seem antithetical to the precepts of absurdism.
So shoot me, there is a plot.' There's a moral, too ' Ionesco was never above a bit of moralizing ' having something to do with abuses of power and the frivolousness of formal education, not to mention the futility of communication (with maniacs, anyway.)' As for motives, they're admittedly a good deal more oblique.' The inhuman senselessness of the characters' actions, if not their attitudes (which progress coherently enough from polite to pleased to frustrated to furious), is emphasized in this production by a hyper-intent, over-articulate, fever-pitched acting style.' That intensity is marvelously complemented by the visual outlandishness of Brian Strachan's phenomenal costumes (all in varying shades of green, with a fanciful overload of patterns and textures) and the actors' physical distinctiveness (Byrn's considerable stature; Black-Regan's wide round eyes and shocking-orange curls).
Although this exaggerated approach is conventional for absurdist theater, and these actors are certainly to be commended for their embodiment of what Brock describes as "unflagging ferocity," it would be interesting to see a production that allowed us to grasp more of the characters' tenuous humanity, rather than presenting them as fierce, fearsome, impenetrable fa'ades.' Not that it would make the play any less unsettling: On the contrary, by accentuating the text's latent semblance of realism, its deeper underlying absurdity might feel that much more sinister, and disturbingly relevant.
The Lesson runs for three more performances: Wed., March 11, Sun., March 15, Wed., March 18; 7:30 p.m., $18, L'Etage Cabaret, 6th and Bainbridge streets, reserve tickets at idiopathicridiculopathyconsortium.com.
Here are all six parts of Louis Theroux's special for the BBC on drugs, crime, poverty, distrust and disillusionment in Philly. It first aired in November 2008, but I get the feeling a lot of people missed it. I found it very eye-opening.
Oh Internet. There's so much you could be doing. Like detecting killer asteroids or mapping the robot genome. But no. You're too busy with your weird animals videos. And I keep watching.
Which brings us to today's topic: What's wronger, a turtle humping a sneaker or two camels whining out a car window?
Our weekly musical calendar for everyday people.
Monday: Get in touch with your inner Juno fan. Ex-Moldy Peach Kimya Dawson plays a set of quirky anti-folk. With Jeffery Lewis. At First Unitarian. Doors at 7 p.m., tickets are $12.
Tuesday: Party animals and Philly three-piece Algernon Cadwallader rock out at Circle Thrift. Grab a friend and sing along. With Attack in Black, Shotgun Jimmie & Restorations. Doors at 7 p.m., tickets are $8.
Wednesday: Screams, guitars, and booze. Yards Brawler presents Pissed Jeans. With Mi Ami & Lexie Mountain Boys. At Johnny Brenda's. Doors at 9 p.m., tickets are $10.
Thursday: Grrr! It's Bishop Allen! Their songs are wicked catchy, plus band member Justin Rice was such an indie darling in 2006's Mutual Appreciation. With Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band and Sing Sing and Mar Mar. At First Unitarian. Doors at 7:30 p.m., tickets are $10-12.
Friday: Ghetto fab and full of rhymes, Spank Rock (see the vid) headlines Making Time with Hearts Revolution, Dave P, Dave Pak, Mike Z, Adam Sparkles, Russ Alexander, Steve Vena, Julian S. Process and Broadzilla DJs. Doors at 9 p.m., tickets are $10-12.
Saturday: Shoegaze indie rock with hypnotic qualities, Bells Bells Bells play a set of lovely haunting songs. With Frisky or Trusty, Art of Shooting and Cinema Cinema. At North Star Bar. Doors are at 9 p.m., tickets are $8.
Sunday: Philly acts pay tribute to Bob Dylan at the Fire. Mike Schmidt with the Grass Is Greener, Blue Star All-Star Band, the Great Unknown, Hezekiah Jones, Skrappy, Cowmuddy, Mason Porter, Toy Soldiers, TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb, Matt Landis, Jason Cohn, Wissahickon Chicken Shack, the Spinning Leaves, Spirit and Dust, Nicole Erin Carey, Joshua Park and Kevin James Devine. Doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $10.
|Photos | K. Ross Hoffman|
How deep is your stage?
The Bird and the Bee are too big for the Angel. In both senses: the capacity crowd was crammed into all crannies of the long, skinny, 'intimate' venue, while the band had barely enough room to squeeze on stage. They numbered five: the titular twosome ' he with a three-keyboard-plus-laptop setup, she with scant space to swirl her skirt and sing ' plus a back-up trio ('the Bird and the Bee Bitches') squashed upstage in their coordinated babydoll dresses (yellow, blue, green) with white bows. It's a good thing all their drums were virtual.
In fact, the place was so crowded that Inara George stepped on my foot at one point ' when I was sitting halfway to the back of the room. (Granted, that was when she broke free of the stage and danced her way down the long aisle, during a top-notch cover of 'I Can't Go For That (No Can Do),' which they acknowledged as a special number by some 'gentlemen from Philadelphia.') Not that anybody let space issues get in the way of having a grand old time, particularly from that point on, when George, a positively giddy frontwoman, encouraged us to get out of our seats and dance up front. It was hard not to be cheery in the face of all that crisp, breezy pop, delivered with such energy and easy-going enthusiasm.
Inara's jazzy, mellifluous voice was in fine form, as was her somewhat loopy fashion sense, while her counterpart, musical mastermind Greg Kurstin (the would-be Bee, or as his bandmates apparently call him, 'the passive pervert') mostly said nothing and sat there looking boyishly pretty and understatedly retro-hip. He did pull out a handful of effortless, tasty keyboard solos which the crowd were well-bred enough to applaud. And the B&B Bitches held it down too, on backing vocals, handclaps, and a bit of choreography, plus everything from glockenspiel to omnichord to a sweet fuzz guitar solo on 'Love Letter to Japan.' (Guitarist Wendy Wang, the one in green, and Alex Lilly, in yellow, also opened the show as the peppy pop duo Obi Best, which made for an uncannily well-paired bill, and not just because Lilly's voice is a dead ringer for George's.)
Both George and her counterpart Kurstin have long and surprisingly convoluted music-biz back-stories. [She's the daughter of a '70s roots-rock semi-legend, with credits including the underheralded indie-folk duo Merrick and a recent, rather ponderous Van Dyke Parks orchestral pop collaboration. He's a veteran of the '90s alterna-quirky outfits Geggy Tah and Action Figure Party, now a big-budget pop producer/songwriter for the likes of Kylie Minogue, Lily Allen, and Donna Summer.] But their WTF-titled new album, Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future, may just be the most satisfying thing either of them has ever been involved in, even if it's not exactly substantial stuff. The album's light-hearted, retro-tinged tunes ' the best being mid-tempo numbers like 'My Love,' 'Birthday,' and the campy David Lee Roth ode 'Diamond Dave' ' made up the bulk of their set last night, with just a couple of oldies thrown in (notably the dreamy 'Again and Again' from their debut.) They wrapped up with the twofer of 'F*cking Boyfriend,' (their potty-mouthed break-out hit, albeit as a dance remix) and the similarly kinda-hokey new single 'Polite Dance Song' (presumably a winking overcorrection), before coming back for a sing-along encore of the Bee Gees' 'How Deep Is Your Love.'
A review via instant message.
- Brian Howard = Frida Kahlo (lavender)
- Patrick Rapa = Saul Tigh (lime green)
More (plus pics!) after the jump.
|Photos | Brian Howard|
|Brian Dewan plays the melody gin with the Music Tapes.|
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