Archive: April, 2009
|Quirk, 112 pp., $12.95|
For those of us who have warned our most na've lady friends time and time again to stay away from the low-lifes, cheapskates and money-laundering boyfriends for God's sake, How to Tell if your Boyfriend is the Antichrist (and if he is, should you break up with him?) is no less than a glowing little treasure chest filled to the brim with funny and (surprisingly) useful information.
Patricia Carlin's sarcastic, bite-size encyclopedia of hilarious stereotypes starts off, unsurprisingly, with the 'antichrist' boyfriend and goes through the warning signs of his devilish qualities (he doesn't say 'God bless you' at a sneeze), and follows this information up with her reasons why or why not he should be dumped or dated. In the 69 boyfriends to follow, she covers 'the commitment-phobe,' 'the renegade cop,' 'the crackhead' and 'the total bastard,' among other potential dimwits and freaks of nature.
Not all boyfriends are dumpable partners (such as 'the cross-dresser,' because, hey, if you two have the same cute taste in clothing, what's not to love?). This makes Carlin's book all the more entertaining, because although some of her warnings are completely ridiculous, others hit a bit too close to home, forcing readers to reflect on the interests of their significant others.
Live from Seattle!
Each April, scores of music critics, journalists, academics of various stripes, and assorted nerdy sorts descend upon the Frank Gehry-wrought undulating chrome of the Experience Music Project in downtown Seattle for the EMP Pop Conference, a vaguely academic-styled weekend of papers, panels, and presentations about all things pop. That's "pop" in the broadest sense, mind, which might mean anything from techno, T-Pain, and reggaet'n (the subject of a panel this year) to honky-tonk country, big band swing, and pre-war minstrelsy. For this year's 8th annual event, the theme is "Dance Music Sex Romance: Pop and the Body Politic." (That's a Prince ref, in case ya missed it.) I'm thrilled to be here and should be a fun weekend!
The conference kicked off this evening with an intriguing keynote conversation with veteran musician Nona Hendryx, conducted by Daphne Brooks of Princeton and Sonnet Retman of the University of Washington. Hendryx makes an entirely fascinating figure, especially in this context, not so much because she's a legend, per se, but simply because she's lived such an incredible amount and variety of popular music's history: from the girl group era of the early '60s, as part of Philly's own Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles (an experience she described as "a large pajama party"), to swinging London in the heyday of Carnaby Street, to New York in the groovily liberated disco '70s (by which time the group had morphed into glam-funk fantasists Labelle) and the arty, AIDS-plagued eighties (when she collaborated with Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, and Prince, among others, and launched her own Afro-futurist, avant-rock solo career.) And that's not even mentioning the "audio tutu" she's been experimenting with recently (an attempt, as she explains it, to become more of a cyborg.)
Add all that to the fact that she's black, female, and queer, and you could easily devote the whole weekend of intellectual discourse to dissecting just her life and work.
A generous hour and half proved hardly enough time to delve into that wealth of experience. The interviewers, fumbling with the powerpoint and fawning, at considerable length, over the current Labelle reunion, only managed to bring the discussion up through the mid-seventies before cutting to Q&A mode. Brooks' questions, while insightful and well-informed, sometimes tended toward overly academic cult-crit pontification ' that's only customary for this conference, of course, but it didn't always seem fair to the mildly bewildered Hendryx, who offered up a few responses along the lines of "well, we just made music because that was what you did in those days." Still, she had plenty of perspective to offer, on the changing cultural and social currents of her times, and the education she picked up through collaborations and encounters with innumerable legendary musicians and producers.
It was a joy just to watch her relive some of those memories, even when (doubtless unlike any of the presenters who will follow her this weekend) she couldn't quite summon up the words to describe them.
The Girlfriend Experience
Starring legit porn star Sasha Grey (hey! Remember when we wrote about a porn star?), Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience is about a prostitute who not only sells sex, but a facsimile of love (hence "girlfriend experience"), as well. This trailer isn't exactly mind blowing, but it's also one of those Soderbergh movies he made for $10 in a couple days and edited it in less. Sam Adams wrote about its not-so-secret premiere at Sundance this year to a packed house. Because I'm a nerd, I'm especially excited about the cameo from movie blogger Glenn Kenny, who requests a preview of Grey's services before he commits to the her $2000-an-hour price tag. Holy shit, $2000? And I'm a journalist, why again?
The performances of Headlong Dance Theater are so deeply collaborative that it's generally impossible to pinpoint the style of the individual artistic directors, who have been working together for 15 years. In response to a challenge by choreographer Tere O'Connor, Headlong's three co-founders (David Brick, Amy Smith and Andrew Simonet) independently created three new pieces and then ' offering a rare glimpse into an artistic process still in motion ' revealed their work to one another in front of a packed audience at the Arts Bank.
In the discussion after the three dances, longtime company member Nichole Canuso described a creation process in which each choreographer, so used to operating as part of a whole, would "start a sentence, and then remember that there was no one else there to finish it." While the performances ranged from merely puzzling to truly transcendent, each offered unfinished sentences and half-formed ideas along with flashes of Headlong's signature brilliance ' in widely varying degrees.
The first piece, choreographed by Brick to a soundtrack of almost complete silence, was the most opaque of the three. For most of the time, the dancers moved with the utmost slowness, every move executed as though underwater. Much of the action ' if it can be called that ' focused on a jointed wooden doll that was manipulated into different positions throughout the dance: The dancers alternatively echoed the positions of the doll and interacted with it as if it were human. The most memorable visual moment occurred when injured company member Christina Zani came out completely naked, on crutches, and engaged in a slow, extended kiss with another dancer; time seemed to stop, and the image created onstage managed to rise above its initial shock value and become something genuinely moving. While the piece's occasional bursts of frantic energy were all the more pronounced given the prevailing molasses-like pace, the performance overall seemed closer to a series of poses for an aesthetically interesting photo shoot than a dance.
Next, Smith's piece, set to a series of static-filled songs, opened strong with six company members wearing muffs, dancing in controlled unison then working up into a frenzy. The performance showcased a series of interesting ideas that never quite coalesced into a cohesive piece: Dancers slow-danced with the air, ran into each other, lay on their sides and scuttled around the stage like crabs. Each section was well-executed and visually compelling, but the movements seemed disjointed and directionless, never quite moving toward a whole. The piece hit its stride when text was introduced, giving the performers overlapping monologues with out-of-context survival instructions like "double up on mittens" and "you can use your teeth to open the package." With the dancers empowered to speak, previously disparate pieces became thematically linked around the idea of survival in in hostile environments.
The last piece, choreographed by Simonet and featuring a disembodied voice offering frequently hilarious health-related advice ("you love cigarettes, but no matter what, do not smoke them;" "eat cookies;" "on the first day of your period, smoke marijuana"), was an appropriate finale both for its topical focus and its success. With more thematic clarity and crescendo than the first two pieces, this work felt more fully-formed and ready to stand on its own. It opened with a solo dancer jerking around frantically in the center of the stage, while the rest of the company ' like disaffected stagehands ' busied themselves milling about and setting up a table and chairs. The people in the background chatted amongst themselves, looked at papers, snacked and drank water, while the featured dancer grew increasingly frenzied until stopping, punching a time card and joining the rest of the group. The established line between active dancers and dancers at rest broke down toward the end, when a couple dancing slowly in the foreground suddenly broke away and ' in a rather riveting climax ' proceeded to destroy the set. Simonet's post-dance explanation of his desire to show "dance as a workplace," where "we do extraordinary things, then sit around and eat nuts and talk about it," gave additional depth to a piece that was already fully engaging.
In the end, it's not necessarily important which parts worked and which parts didn't, or whose piece soared and whose fell flat: The Big Reveal succeeded in doing what it set out to do, which was to pull back the curtain on an often mysterious artistic process. Rather than showing clearly which parts of Headlong's style come from each of its directors, it instead showed that Headlong as an entity offers a third and separate thing, that can't quite be understood as any sort of logical combination of its founders' choreographic styles. The final piece they come together to create for LiveArts '09 may use some parts of these dances ' or none at all.
During a Q&A period at the end, one audience member expressed frustration with the show, and especially with the first piece. "I'm used to your work being immediately accessible," he said. Tere O'Connor, seizing the opportunity to champion challenging contemporary dance, immediately shot back: "Is that something you'd expect from a painting?"
|Photos by Lauren Zalut|
The next time you say forever I will punch you in the face
Neko Case can get pretty intense. Her protagonists don't brood or pine when they've been wronged ' they destroy towns, bite off legs and land haymakers.
On Friday night at the Keswick, the adoration of the sold-out crowd was intense enough to merit its own song on the next album. This was not necessarily a good thing: in Neko Case's lyrics, emotions that powerful often lead to violence. Fortunately, the red-headed headliner's laid-back on-stage personality kept the show from ending like one of her songs.
A projection screen flanked by a couple of spooky trees and topped by a supervising owl showed a combination of video and animation featuring burning buildings, seemingly endless prairies, trains, predators, time-lapsed clouds flying overhead, singing deer and straight, empty highways. Impressively, the images on the screen had been matched to each song. Despite the visual stimuli, Neko Case's absurdly clear voice and commanding stage presence monopolized the audience's attention. The lap steel player managed to wrest the eyes of the crowd away with a couple of impressive swells, but those eyes rubber-banded back to the woman standing center stage in short order.
Between songs, the frontwoman daydreamed about a machine that would pump potato chips into her mouth at high velocity and apologized for her rambling, explaining that her 'synapses are wrecked from 'the menses'' while making air quotes. Impassioned requests were met with a brief, 'duly noted.' The Keswick theater patrons hung on every word, completely charmed.
Neko Case played electric guitar on a few songs and acoustic guitar on a few more, but she left both in their stands for most of the night, letting her impossibly gorgeous voice make its own way through the setlist. Half of the 22 songs (maybe one more than half ' I can't read my handwriting on the ninth song) came from her new album Middle Cyclone, and another five came from the preceding album, 2006's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.
The highlight, though, was the final piece of the encore, "Knock Loud," a cover of a Sook-Yin Lee tune that appeared on Neko Case's 2001 EP Canadian Amp. A monologue carrying serious emotional weight but lacking the tumultuous action that crops up in lyrics written by Neko Case herself, "Knock Loud" proved to be a fine match for the stately venue and the seated, well-mannered, enthralled crowd.
(AG = acoustic guitar, EG = electric guitar, NG = no guitar)
1. Maybe Sparrow (Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, EG)
2. People Got A Lotta Nerve (Middle Cyclone, AG)
3. Fever (Middle Cyclone, NG)
4. Hold On, Hold On (Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, EG)
5. The Pharaohs (Middle Cyclone, NG)
6. Middle Cyclone (Middle Cyclone, NG)
7. Deep Red Bells (Blacklisted, AG)
8. I Wish I Was the Moon (Blacklisted, NG)
9. [didn't write this title down, don't remember] (EG)
10. Prison Girls (Middle Cyclone, NG)
11. The Tigers Have Spoken (The Tigers Have Spoken, EG)
12. Margaret vs. Pauline (Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, AG)
13. Red Tide (Middle Cyclone, NG)
14. Don't Forget Me (Middle Cyclone, Harry Nilsson cover, NG)
15. That Teenage Feeling (Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, NG)
16. This Tornado Loves You (Middle Cyclone, NG)
17. Vengeance Is Sleeping (Middle Cyclone, NG)
18. Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth (Middle Cyclone, Sparks cover, NG)
19. Favorite (The Tigers Have Spoken, EG)
20. Magpie to the Morning (Middle Cyclone, NG)
21. Star Witness (Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, NG)
22. Knock Loud (Canadian Amp, Sook-Yin Lee cover, NG)
We like American Idol ' too much.
Tommy Button: TThis week was songs from the cinema and who better to direct the idols than a man who directed Ving Rhames getting fucked up the butt? I love when people like Tarantino are on this show because you'd like to think their only doing this out of some contractual or promotional deal but he really seemed to enjoy himself/watching his language.
Molly Eichel: Tarantino is one my favorite guest judges of all time. He wasn't as good as mentor because you couldn't see him in all of his nerd glory where he would reference past perfomances. Of course, he would be super nerdy about something like Idol. I think he would make an excellent edition to Idol Hands. Yo, QT, if you're reading this (which you clearly ARE) and you want to get in on the google doc, just lemme know, k? P.S. What's up with your Dennis the Menace 'do?
TB: The two judges at a time thing really pissed me off and it was obvious it pissed Simon off cuz he spent most the show biting his lip. And I'm glad they blamed it on the girls because it was their fault. That's what happens when you add a fourth judge who feels like she's got to prove her opinions are just as valuable as the original 3. Which they are not and I hope Kara Diowhateverthefuckever is not back for Season 10. So let's all pray that Paula Abdul doesn't die of massive liver failure in the next year.
ME: Kara's boobs don't look as massive this week so I don't like her again. But the most important part of Tuesday's telecast was the audience shots of ONE MR. LITTLE STEVIE VAN ZANT OF THE MOTHERFUCKING E STREET BAND! Hey Idol judges, when can we expect Bruce week? 'Cause Gokey could kill it on "Glory Days."
Allison Iraheta - I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing by Aerosmith from Armageddon
TB: I've had my fair share awkward, middle school slow dances' to this song, trying to hide my boner or cop a feel. So this song really means a lot to me. Armageddon is fucking badass. But if this were Armageddon and Allison was Bruce Willis, that meteor would have killed us all. Or at least taken out a sizable piece of the Eastern hemisphere. I didn't really think it was a good song choice, like this song was the only song she could think of from a movie. She sang well, though, all things considered. This week was a little lackluster compared to past weeks and I think it's gunna put her in the bottom three. And I suspect Lil and Matt are going to be there to keep her company. Hearing this song did take me back to my boner hiding days and it's nice to know how far I've come. I don't ever really slow dance and am much more open about my boners. But I still try to cop a feel whenever I can.
ME: The arrangement was owning Allison on this song. She's got a big voice as it is but there's not to overwork a song that's already overworked as it is. My favorite QT moment: When he said she wasn't performing enough in front of him so he sat down in a chair to take the pressure off.
Lindsey Proulx: I have loved Aerosmith for a very long time and Allison just didn't do this song justice. There are plenty of other Aerosmith movie songs she could have went with too. Like the song from True Romance, give Tarantino a little shout out. Or the one from Batman and Robin. To be honest, I wish Adam sang this song instead, and I never wish him to do anything.
Anoop - I Do It For You by Bryan Adams from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
TB: Good job. I mean, Anoop, you ain't gunna beat Adam and if you think you can even touch Gokey you better get your fucking head checked because you are certifiable, my friend. The best you can do now is pretty much 3rd place. Too bad no body gives a shit about the bronze. We don't celebrate Olympians who bring home 8 bronze medals But Anoop is in the same position everyone who's not Danny or Adam is, just to stay as long as you can. And he was better than most this time around.
ME: Here's where I'm gonna give Desai crazy props: I've counted him out from the beginning. Everybody did but he just little-engine-that-could-ed it and now he's doing better than early faves Lil and Kris, not to mention leaving A. Grace in the dust weeks ago. QT was right to make him do some growling on this song, make him dig deep to the Canadian spirit of this song. Also, Anoop has Peter Gallagher eyebrows.
LP: He was better than Matt.
Adam Lambert - Born To Be Wild by Steppenwolf from Easy Rider
TB: Anytime Adam Lambert does well, I have to preface it with how much I hate him. So here goes: Adam Lambert looks like a creepy, old retired drag queen that should be living in a bombed out trailer with other' freaks of nature and I don't care for him one bit. That being said, he once again, did a good job. Big surprise. However, I think Lambert is getting a big head from all these standing ovations and whatnot and you can tell by his performances. He was running all over that stage, touching girls hands (HA!), singing on his knees (HA! HA!), trying to be cooler than the other side of the pillow. I AM ADAM LAMBERT!! COWER BENEATH MY EYE LINER!!! I want to see some god damn heart. Take a cue or two from Gokey and gimme something I can hold on to because right now all I see is a douche who wants to be famous. And we don't need another one of those.
ME: Here's the thing about Adam Lambert ' when he performs, you can tell the band is super into it, like they're finally performing with an artist opposed to retreading easy material in different keys. They at least look like they're trying with him. Did you see that drummer just pound away at those skins? Or the guitarist who finally stopped looking like Stanley from The Office? That's the mark of a good performer. Goddamnit, Adam.
LP: I hate you Adam Lambert. Especially because he is good.
Matt Giraud - "Have You Ever Loved a Woman" by Bryan Adams Don Jaun De Marco
TB: Pretty good there, Kalamazoo. The only thing about picking a Bryan Adams song when Anoop is doing a Bryan Adams song is that it kind of makes it feel like Bryan Adams week/ And that week should never exist. I disagree with Kara's onestep forward, two steps back comment, I thought he did really well, and I hate that song.
Danny Gokey' - Endless Love by Lionel Richie from Endless Love
TB: What? Friends can listen to "Endless Love" in the dark! I'm kind of a fan of this glassless, more bearded Danny Gokey. Who know who also had a beard and didn't wear glasses? Jesus. I don't think I have to even say it but he was totally thinking about his wife. ' Oh! He looked like he was gunna cry a lil' bit.
LP: I'm going to love him no matter what he sings. And I'm especially going to love him when he looks like he is about to cry! And the beard is a good addition, it makes him look like he's had a lot of hard nights recently. Drinking whiskey and singing Endless Love while thinking about his dead wife. Oh, Danny Gokey, I'd be willing to loose Tommy as a friend if you were to choose me instead of him.
ME: I agree on the beard comment but this isn't the song for him. Lionel Richie has a completely different sound and Gokey didn't change it enough to make it his own. I still think someone should have done "Hungry Eyes" from Dirty Dancing.
Kris Allen - Falling Slowly from Once
TB: You know that line in the song that goes something like "I don't know you, but I want you?" I'd like to think that was being sung to me, maybe, but we all know it's bullshit Mr. Katie Allen. And the fact Kara referred to this song as lesser known is I guess somewhat true, but' I mean, do lesser known things really win Oscars?
LP: I'm sure he did a fine job with the song, but my problem with Kris (and this isn't really a problem at all) is that whenever he is singing instead of listening to him, I just find myself thinking about what he would look like naked (fantastic, if you were wondering).
ME: Here's what these kid don't get: A lot of the musicians they are covering have very distinctive voices. See: Lil doing Tina last week. Glenn Hansard (the dude from the Maps who is also in Once) has one of those voices. Kris does not have one of those voices. So a song that formerly was very different and had a lot of texture is rendered flat and meaningless. You know what I bet is also flat? Kris' perfect stomach.
Lil Rounds - The Rose by Bette Midler from The Rose
TB: I don't know if you know this, Lil, but there's this little film called The Bodyguard and it stars a singer you may have heard of named Whitney Houston and she pretty much plays herself, but just in love with Kevin Costner and not Bobby Brown. So, as I bet you can imagine, there is quite a bit of singing in this film. So, why the fuck did you sing this song?! I mean, the possibilities were endless for you this week and you just fucking threw it away. In the middle things started to get good and you got my box all revved up and ready for the blowing of a lifetime but, nope. You just kind of fizzled out and I think Simon's right, you're not fucking getting it and it really pains me to say this but I think this might be your last week Lil. She might get a save just because it's getting down to the wire and the judges have yet to use it, but she's gotta bring the thunder if she gets voted off. I sure hope Tarantino voted, I mean, we're both Lil Rounds fans and we both love the f-word. If you're reading this QT, let's hang out. I got some ideas.
LP: It's like they picked this theme just to give Lil another chance to sing "I Will Always Love You" and she still fucked it up! And now that Tommy mentioned all the singing, I seem to remember a little song called "Queen of the Night" that probably would have been pretty box blowing. Just give me some Bodyguard already!!!
ME: Other songs that were better choices than "The Rose": "Wind Beneath My Wings," anything from Dreamgirls, "Waiting to Exhale," "Over the Rainbow," "Unchained Melody," "Stormy Weather" ' Lil, you want me to keep going or have you learned your lesson?
Results: Matt Giraud ' SAVED!
TB: Kalamazoo for the save!!! Holy shit! That was one fuck of an Idol moment! When Simon said (HA!) that he would save one of them, and that person would be surprised I felt that it might be good ol' Kalamazoo. In the beginning he wasn't really doing that well, but he turned it out by the end. The song is still dumb, though, so it's nice to see him get through with a song by a Canadian that's not Robbie Robertson.
ME: I liked Matt at the beginning but I think they only really used the save 'cause it was one of the last weeks they could use it. Eh, I still think he'll be gone next week.
TB: And next week is gunna kick ass! It's Disco week, two people leave, then we're in Top 5 Land and that, my friends, is the beginning of the final steps on the path to El Dorado. And can I just say how incredibly disappointed I was this week no one sang "Deepest, Bluest" by LL Cool J from Deep Blue Sea because that woulda been my song. My hat is like a shark's fin, motherfuckers.
ME: I'll say it once and I'll say it again: "Hungry Eyes."
I'm fascinated by movie marketing ' namely how one trailer or add campaign can take on one demographic, while an only slightly tweaked campaign for the same film is meant to appeal to a whole different subset of people. Sometimes it's blatant, sometimes it's more in conspicuous.
This is the recently released second trailer for Michael Mann's upcoming surefire hit Public Enemies. The text in the front and the tone of the trailer in general posits it as this Godfather-ian type of saga while the first one I saw'
'which is more this-movie-looks-fancy-with-it's-Untouchables-opening-shot-but-we-promise-that-shit-blows-up. I gotta say, I like the second one better. If only because it includes the line, "I like baseball, movies, girls and fast cars."
Public Enemies is scheduled to open July 1.
Julie Delpy bathes in the blood of virgins to keep herself looking young, aka The Sharon Stone Story. I'm a sucker for big costume dramas ' there's nothing like a good bodice ripper. But, if not done right, they can be camptastic disasters. But William Hurt always keeps it down and this looks like this will go the dour and creepster route before it gets ridiculous (digging the ochre-ish color pallette). No U.S. release date yet but I think my favorite part so far is the poster, which looks like the cover of one of those public domain classic literature books.
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