May 2005 Archives

always in tempo, always in tune

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Got an email to the effect that one of my favorite songs of this year so far is available for deep-linking, and who am I to refuse? So here you go: Supersystem's "Everybody Sings" (MP3).

Also: a new free His Name Is Alive EP.

A postscript to the ROTS note: across the street from the Seattle Art Museum, where the conference I attended was held, was the Lusty Lady, the famous worker-owned strip club. Its marquee read STARE WARS PEEPISODE 3: REVENGE OF THE STIFF.

basketball is a peaceful planet!

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No news--what is that? No news is no news, is what. The metaphorical foundation needed some structural help. Good that I've been getting out of the house for a weekly karaoke date, bad that I'm living for it more than is healthy. (When in Portland, make sure to go to Chopsticks II--just not for the food. Their book includes Liz Phair, Franz Ferdinand, Tom Lehrer, Digital Underground and Nick Lowe songs.) I'm attempting to cultivate the metaphorical and literal gardens.

The former one involves a little bit of travel, and just enough culture to make someone reach for a slingshot. Went up to Seattle this weekend for this conference, which a few friends helped me think about before and after--more details to come soon, one way or another. But while I was there, I went to see Revenge of the Sith with this church group. I hated it. (Great companions, but it was a bad sign when someone from the theater came up before the show started and said "I just want you all to know, there's an issue with the sound on the movie--we can either play it really loud or UNBELIEVABLY LOUD. How do y'all want it?")

My first thought was: the thing that made Star Wars (I saw it before it was called "Episode 4," & refuse to call it that) work was that it gave the sense of being extraordinary--that it was a boring and oppressive universe, and what we were seeing was an exciting moment when something huge was changing. There's lots of down-time in it, and that's when we learn stuff about the characters. The down-time in ROTS just feels slack, and the rest of it is bam-bam-bam, beginning to end, cranked up all the way--it gets very tiresome, very quickly. Plus, as everyone has noted, the dialogue is horrible. (What was it like before Tom Stoppard got his hands on it?) And the CGI stuff all looks hideously fakey--all the parts move all the time, independently of each other. A puppet Yoda I can suspend my disbelief for. A CGI Yoda I just can't.

When we got back to my hosts' place, Miller wanted to watch the "next part of the story," and of course Nathan had Star Wars on the original laserdisc--no CGI, Han shoots first, etc. I don't think I'd watched it in at least ten years, maybe more. It was wonderful The dialogue was light and witty and fleshed out the characters, the plot moved at just the right speed, the special effects looked natural and impressive, there was some new concept or image to latch onto every few minutes--I fell asleep before the movie ended, but that had more to do with it being 3 in the morning than anything else. How did the air go out of this vision?

(One thing that's true about both the original movie and the new one that I do like a lot: the sense that everything in the universe is a little bit grimy, a little bit rusty and salt-stained, unless there's lots of money to keep it gleaming.)

Unrelatedly: when Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings come to your town, don't even think of missing them if you like to dance. I went with a bunch of newbies, all of whom appear to have been converted. They played for more than two hours, and Sharon came out after the show to hug everybody in the audience, just like Damo Suzuki.

Also very highly recommended: Franklin's 33 1/3 book on Elvis Costello's Armed Forces--formally impressive (alphabetical lexicon as linear narrative!), well-researched, thoughtfully analytical, and way more entertaining than most things of which the first three conditions are true usually are. (Disclaimer: it cites me a couple of times. Call me a logroller if you like: I just really enjoyed the book.)

good fits, mass caps

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Gang of Four at the Crystal Ballroom last night: a nostalgia act, as happy as I was to have seen them and as happy as they looked to be playing together again. Opening one-two of "Return the Gift" into "Not Great Men" threw a match into more fuel than is safe at once, but I hoped that the post-Entertainment songs would catch the same kind of spirit, and they didn't--"really inessential," my friend groused. (Reviving "I Parade Myself" was not an idea that would have occurred to many people in the crowd, and those people to whom it did not occur were right; I did find myself crossing my fingers a little, fruitlessly, for "Don't Fix What Ain't Broke.") Jon King slaughtering a microwave with a crowbar as percussion was a nice gesture, though this Bonnie Tyler tribute act seems to have staked their claim on a similar idea a while ago.

This long and intriguing interview with Kyle Baker convinced me to go read the "Continuity Bandit" story he did in Plastic Man a few months ago, and I'm glad I did--a really funny time-travel-paradox story that mangles all the clich├ęs of time-travel-paradox stories, e.g. the heroes travel to the past to try to set the time-stream right by killing Abraham Lincoln and framing John Wilkes Booth for it... best quote from the Baker interview: "Nat Turner's going to be self-published. It has to be. If you're doing a book about slavery, you sort of have to make sure you get all the money, because the whole definition of slavery is when one person does all the work and the other person gets the money."

Updated some of the recent-writing links at left, which I hadn't done in too long. The "rockism" piece in Seattle Weekly has spawned a rather long discussion which gets rather far afield.

"my mother is a dolphin"

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From Greil Marcus's new book Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads:

"I have always admired people who know how to interview. The key is not to want to be liked. The key is to be an irritant, a smart-aleck, a fool, a creep. 'I heard your mother is a donkey,' you might say, expecting the subject to spit in your face and walk out of the room. 'Oh, no,' the person will say. 'How did you ever get that idea? Let me tell you the real story. My mother is a dolphin. And how that happened, I've never told anyone...' One interviewer I know has a terrible stutter. People will say anything, will talk endlessly about their private lives, just to keep him from asking another question. The best I have ever been able to manage is silence."