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September 26th, 2007
Splatterhaus: The LiveJournal Entry
"One Year Later, Splatterhaus Disappearances Still a Mystery"
by Archibald Redrum, special to The Wisconsin Globe
This October, Madison will observe the grim one-year anniversary of five young lives destroyed by a search in the eastern Wisconsin woods for what many have called the "ultimate scare." But although the official search for Robert Matsushita, Liam Murphy, Kelly Kriesel, John Gustafson, and the unidentified woman known only by her street name, "Smurphy," is long over, speculation as to what may have happened to the five Madison residents continues, as do suspicions that Gustafson, who led Matsushita into the ill-fated first expedition, may not have been what he first appeared to be and that his search in the woods around Cascade had some darker purpose. The details are so tantalizingly simple that the case has attracted the attention of amateur sleuths and parapsychologists from across the nation. Still, no theory has satisfactorily explained what may have happened. Is this because not all the facts are in, or should we heed the whispered suggestions that officials have held back critical evidence from the public eye for the sake of civic peace, evidence that would bring a sudden and terrifying clarity to just how these five men and women vanished. ( Read more IF YOU DARE!!!Collapse )
cross-posted to MySpace
Current Mood: spooky
Current Music: "The Monster Mash"
July 29th, 2007
Will This Make You Laugh or Cry?
From Blue Heaven
by Joe Keenan, copyright 1988
"[She] was our villain, and, so far as we were concerned, she had no right to abdicate the post. For her to suddenly beg to be seen not as some imp of Satan, but as a poor greedy mortal, prey to all sorts of fears and needs, struck us as a horrid breach of etiquette. Listening to her plea, we'd felt the same resentment you'd feel if, in the middle of a Star Wars
film, Darth Vader sat down and began to recollect his sad childhood at the space orphanage while clutching the locket his mother had pressed into his hand just before she'd attached his bassinet to the asteroid."
No comment is necessary, I believe.
July 26th, 2007
Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Awesome
Yesterday, I was in Milwaukee most of the day to provide logistical and transportation support to a guest session facilitator, who we will call "Judy Beethoven." Judy is the CEO of a service organization of which we are a member, but neither of us in the office had ever met her.
I was in Milwaukee bright and early to pick her up at her hotel. I then hung out for most of the seminar, which had a lot to do with fundraising tools, and Judy encouraged me to take part in the discussion, so I brought up a particular fundraising scenario for a theatrical production. She indicated that she was quite familiar with fundraising because her husband was a composer.
Judy and I actually hit it off quite well, and we had a good talk on a variety of subjects on the way from Milwaukee to Madison. She also took the time to make a couple of calls back home, including one to her husband, who we will call "Ludwig," a name that did not register as significant to me at the time.
Judy is knowledgable on an extensive amount of cool topics; most impressively she knows how to make injera, that spongy Ethiopian flatbread that is essential to east African cuisine. The lack of a sensible injera recipe has kept me from attempting Ethiopian at home, but she disabused me of a key misconception that I'd had about its traditional preparation...and now it does not seem nearly as impossible. I got the impression that not only did she enjoy cooking at least as great a variety of food as I do, but that in an Iron Chef head-to-head competition, I would be the 75-to-one longshot bet.
At one point, Judy asked me for advice on future strategies for her company, since I obviously had lots of experience in that area. Actually, I assured her, I have virtually no
experience in the area in which she was asking for advice, but I did float an idea or two which she found interesting. During this conversation, I proposed a fictional scenario: let's say that you and your husband started a foundation called the Judy and Ludwig Beethoven...
The conversation continued for a minute or two as my brain made the connection.
"Wait a minute," I suddenly said. "Is your husband the
Ludwig Beethoven? The one who wrote Insert Name of Famous and Amazing Twentieth Century Opera Here
No, no, I was told, Ludwig Van
Beethoven was not her husband, but they did know the more famous composer personally, and he'd come to their house on some occasions for dinner. She described some of her husband's music, which sounded interesting, and when her explanation appeared to make sense to me (actually, it did), she even promised to mail me some CDs so I could hear some of it. (I told her later that I'd burn a copy of "Gays of Our Lives" for her. I am pretty sure I still win with a large margin in this deal.)
I took her to the airport this afternoon. So long, Judy Beethoven. It was excellent to meet you.
July 6th, 2007
Come See Me In Othello Next Week!
Hey, everybody! I am playing Iago in Open Spaces Theater Company's production of Othello
, to be performed in Veteran's Park in Stoughton starting on Wednesday, July 11
and running through Sunday, July 15
. No, that is not a very long run, but I hope that some of you will be able to make it.
It's right outside in the park, so if you come, bring blankets or lawn chairs or something--and also bring a picnic for an optimally good time! Shakespeare's first audiences ate while they watched. The Blackfriars & Globe audiences probably ate hazelnuts (and threw them at the actors if they were bad)--but sandwiches, potato salad, and root beer work at least as well.
Please do not throw potato salad at me.
I have enjoyed playing many bad guys in the past, and I am finding Iago to be the most fun of any I've done in the past. Mercury Players-related people on LiveJournal will also enjoy Andrea Kleiner's wonderful performance as Emilia.
Logistics can be found here ---> http://madstage.com/Shows/othello070425.html
xposted to MySpace
February 6th, 2007
Surely by now you've heard that the Reverend Ted Haggard is : "completely heterosexual."
In other news, the 40-ounce t-bone steak that I ate last night was completely vegetarian.
And the weather in Madison right now is completely tropical.
I could continue in this vein for some time.
Current Music: Kelly Hogan & the Pine Valley Cosmonauts
June 20th, 2005
Return of the Flaming Asshole (Phelps, not me)
The Reverend Fred Phelps, whose website is well-known, has finally hit upon a way to make the right wing hate him just as much as the left wing; he is now protesting the funerals of fallen American soldiers
. Apparently, their deaths are part of God's punishment for America's tolerance of gay people.
Words cannot express, and so I won't even try. But as anybody who's worn a Gore shirt to a Bush speech will tell you, these guys may discover that their new provocation is ill-timed.
So here's the thing. Once Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church all get disappeared by the secret assassin team of Dick and Mary Cheney, we will be left to ourselves to figure out exactly what it is that God hates. It is a heavy responsibility, but one that I think that we are all ready for.
Select all that apply. Scriptual support apparently not necessary.
High-interest credit card solicitations
Greasy yet flavorless Chinese food
Two and a Half Men
Wearing flip-flops in public
Cheap umbrellas that break the third time you use them
Those Asian emoticons that don't go sideways like He intended
Ticketmaster service charges
Shopping carts with one wheel that just doesn't work quite right
May 25th, 2005
So, I have just gotten the one-week-old news that Joan of Arcadia
is being canceled, and that it is being replaced by a show in which Jennifer Love Hewitt talks to dead people. Les Moonves commented that "talking to ghosts may skew younger than talking to God."
Look, Les, if young people won't watch Eliza Dushku talking to dead people
, what makes you think that Jennifer Love Hewitt
is going to do any better? Or that she can carry a show in the first place
? You people are morons.
And all you right wingers who are constantly decrying the content of any network programming more complex than Home Improvement
, where is your outrage now? Joan
--aside from being terrifically contructed and written drama that dealt intelligently with issues of faith, morality, and personal responsibility--was one of the strongest arguments against moral relativism that I've ever seen.
I say poo on all of you. And I dare say that God backs me up on this one.
May 24th, 2005
How I Know That Spring Has Truly Begun
There was baby waterfowl to be seen last night, as spare time and nice weather finally converged into a long bike ride.Baby ducks: 18
Baby geese: 13
I also thought that I heard a frog at one point, and I saw something
splashing out of Wingra Creek at another, but those don't count. As usual, I have seen more ducks than anything else, but for the first year ever, the geese are actually in a position to compete.
Then I tried to watch Attack of the Clones
and was asleep by 9:30.
Current Music: Keren Ann—Not Going Anywhere
May 12th, 2005
They Even Spelled His Name Right
Congratulamations to sesamenoodles
on the positive metion of his new CD
in the new Isthmus
Current Music: Aaron Nathans--Brand New You
The Book Meme
I was tagged by lady_mishegas
, and I don't want the LJ police to come after me, so here are my responses...
1)Total number of books owned?
NASA's still working on that question. Seriously, I have no clue. I've got many bookshelves packed to the gills, some more piles of books on the floor, dozens on permaloan to other people, and a bunch more in bags & boxes in storage. I really would like to have a purge one day, but there are an embarrassing number of them that I've never finished reading...
2) The last book I bought?
I think it was Mental Hygene
, a quasi-scholarly review of all those horrible classroom films that were produced between the 1950s and 1970s. I had gotten this same book for Kiteflier as a Christmas gift several years ago, and I saw it in a bargain bin sometime last winter and decided that I must own my own copy of it. I rarely buy new books anymore, though, having reformed my old habits that led to my answer to question #1.
3) The last book I read?
I've been reading magazines lately more than books. But if playscripts count as books, the last one was Chesapeake
by Lee Blessing, for which I plan to audition later this month. If not, it was probably The Stupidest Angel
, by Christopher Moore, a story about zombies and Christmas, which was OK but mostly convinced me that people who make livings writing humor are no more witty than I am or several of my friends are, and in some cases less so. I started rereading Russell Banks's The Sweet Hereafter
a while ago, and got about halfway through it oohing and aahing, because it really is a great book, but I got distracted by other things and haven't finished it.
4) 5 books that mean a lot to me?
Off the top of my head...The Unbearable Lightness of Being
by Milan KunderaPride and Prejudice
by Jane AustenThe New York Trilogy
by Paul AusterLearned Pigs and Fireproof Women
by Ricky JayCorelli's Mandolin
by Louis de Bernieres
5) Tag 5 people and have them fill this out on their ljs:
George W. Bush
Of course, if some of these people don't have LiveJournals, I hardly see how that's my
Current Music: The Who--"You Better You Bet"
April 29th, 2005
The show went well. I actually thought I was in better voice most
of the time than I have been all run. I did crack on a couple of high notes, but those were during choral moments, and hopefully nobody noticed. It was good to see popebuck1
, among others.
Here was the downside of the evening: there were two young women sitting in the front row who were blasted beyond all sense and provided a loud-drunk running commentary throughout the entire show, as if they thought they were watching Rocky Horror
. It was very distracting, although it was the rest of the audience that I felt worst for. For some reason, management declined to throw them out, even during intermission, a decision that mystified a majority of the cast--the SM's feeling seemed to be that it was no big deal, as if the rest of the audience's politeness implied that they just didn't mind all that much.
After the show, the two women traipsed onto the stage. Then after the SM politely chased them out, they stole one of the Bat Boy Meets the Mayor pictures from the lobby display.
I've been in kind of a funk for the past 24 hours. These two chicks didn't really help it very much.
Current Music: Ben Folds—Songs for Silverman
April 28th, 2005
Injury of Marmalade
So I started wondering how that song translation meme would work if some of the lyrics were already
in a foreign language. Or complete nonsnse. Or a little of both. And thankfully, the results were...( not disappointingCollapse )
Current Music: "Injury of Marmalade" by Patti La Bark
When I first moved in my apartment, five and a half years ago, my landlord immediately started talking about converting my front hallway into a porch. If you've visited me, you've walked through it--a small cruddy area that leads to my actual front door to the left and a Mystery door that I don't let people go through under any circumstances that lead to a walled off Room of Clutter. Since then, she has talked about it a lot
, like every year, but nothing ever seems to happen. And as the years went on, the walled-off half of that area became a vast repository for Things I Do Not Want to Deal with Just Now.
Apparently she is serious this time, since she has actually brought a contractor in who is doing actual work on the area. Last weekend, noting an actual possibility that something like this was truly happening, I spent much time clearing out nearly all of the stuff that had accumulated in that area since 1999, which if you know me, you can imagine it must have been a lot. And it was. Tuesday, the work began, and yesterday, I came home to find that the dividing wall between hallway and Late Storage Area had been torn down. The outer wall has been pretty much decimated in order to make room for some large storm windows that will be going in within the next couple of weeks. And it looks promising--this could be a really cool place to hang out come this summer, when it is ready.
Bat Boy: The Musical closes this weekend, after which I will probably not appear on stage until September at the earliest. Everybody who has seen it so far has loved it. Nobody who has seen it has made nearly so much fuss as I do about...um...the liberties. Last weekend, we had our first sold-out house, and I have no doubt that that trend will continue this weekend, so if you want to see the show, and you've not made reservations, for God's sake go here
or call (608) 661-9696 x3.bellanotsoblu
, and groucho_z
, this does not apply to you; I think I've told you that I already made reservations for you, and I did not lie. And I know that fountainal
has already made arrangements of his own. If you would like to join that particular group of revelers, let me know...
Speaking of littleevening
, there was a very enjoyable poker night at their house last night, including such luminaries as fountainal
. This game had the novelty of groucho_z
sitting out the games altogether and hosting a "Loser's Lounge" downstairs. Arguments are still being weighed on whether it was more fun to play cards or lose all your chips so you could hang out with groucho_z
. To be fair, more laughter was heard eminating from downstairs than from the dining room.
Still, I am not terribly sorry that I finished in the money both games.
Current Music: Lambchop—Aw C'mon
April 26th, 2005
Gimme a Head with Hair
OK, so bellanotsoblu
requested this poll some time ago, but I am only getting around to posting it now. She was wondering what it is "normal" to spend on hair care, and as neither of us can think of a more scientific instrument than a LiveJournal poll, here is...
How much, in dollars, do you typically spend on a haircut (no extras--just the scissor work)?
Mean: 28.33 Median: 25 Std. Dev 20.07
And how much in total do you typically spend on services, including the haircut, wash, permanents, highlights, gratuity, and what have you?
Mean: 43.16 Median: 40 Std. Dev 26.76
And then once you buy products on your way out of the shop, what's the total bill?
Mean: 55.56 Median: 45 Std. Dev 39.33
What adjectives would aptly describe a man who utilizes salon services?
Really, really hot
I would sooner die than make generalizations like that
Thank you for your responses and your support of scientific inquiry.
Current Music: Muddy Waters
April 19th, 2005
Everything else: 0
Apparently, it is simply not baby duck season yet. At least not where I
typically ride. bookbear
, did you mention that you'd seen some out by the apartment building? Or just gazillions of adult ducks?
Current Music: Elvis Costello
This is the sort of protest that doesn't have, excuse me, a prayer of making an impact, but it just feels good to know that it happened.
It reminds me of the priest who reminded me that it's perfectly possible to be a good Catholic and
a troublemaker at the same time. Would that any serious candidate for the Papacy had that same outlook.
Current Music: The Minus 5
April 18th, 2005
The Annual Count Begins
I got a really
good look at him, too!
Current Music: Cross Canadian Ragweed
April 15th, 2005
Memory of a Conversation
I think I saw my first goslings yesterday. I saw them from inside a moving car, so they don't count, but the annual animal tally should probably begin soon. Soon after, I saw a pair of ducks floating around in Lake Monona, and remembered another pair of ducks I saw several years ago.
"Hey," I said, adopting a shy tone of voice. "He's asking her if she'd like to, you know, maybe see a movie sometime?"
She laughed. "No, I think that they're pretty much picking out silver and china patterns."
I think that exchange said a lot about where we both were in life at the time.
Current Music: Freakwater—"Waitress Song"
The show went well, or well enough. The audience ate it up, even gave us a partial standing ovation at the end of our rather extended curtain call.
Everybody was happy. Really and truly.
really and truly happy
Current Music: Emmylou Harris—"Spanish Johnny"
April 14th, 2005
Have Ya Ever Noticed?
What it is about internet scam artists that make them such attricious typists? I'm not talking about "v1agra;" I'm talking about stuff that's supposed to look legitimate, and they just can't bring themselves not to make goofy errors. Like "We encourage you to sign on and fulfil the steps requisite to restore your account access immediatelly." I don't think I've received a single one of these sorts of messages that didn't have multiple red flags like this in them. Is proofreading somehow not compatible with a Life of Evil?
I just got a text message from this very sexy lady
. I thought about texting her back to ask how the "inport and exproting" was going. But I'm sure it's not worth the effort.
I would kind of like to know if they're stolen from a plastic mannequin, though.
Current Music: Aimee Mann—Lost in Space
He'd Just Better Give Me My Damn Meds with No Questions Asked
It is heartening to hear that this guy
has received some comeuppance. But the sanctions seem to focus on all the wrong things. The reason that we bleeding-heart liberals were so outraged by his refusal to dispense contraceptives is that we believed that refusal constituted a failure on his part to do his job
, not to mention that he was denying someone her right to her own damn perscription medicine.
Apparently, we were wrong. Michael Bettiga, the Chair of the Pharmacy Examining Board
, making a case for what a great comprimise his Board had reached, said, "Pharmacists have the right to exercise their conscience in a case like this, but the health and safety of the patient has to be the overriding issue." I like the second part of that sentence. But what the hell is with that qualifier at the beginning? Am I totally off on this, or is there actually a system of checks and balances between physicians and pharmacists? And can a pharmacist's veto be overruled by, say, two thirds of the AMA? Or perhaps the recommendation of four out of five dentists?
So, Neil Noesen is still free to practice his chosen profession in the State of Wisconsin, although he has to take some ethics classes, and his license is "limited." What this limitation entails, I'm not sure, although he's apparently required to notify prospective employers of what parts of his job he will refuse to do, and how he will ensure that somebody else will do those things for him. Yes, being legally required to put "I don't do windows" on your resume is
kind of an appropriately nasty
a justly punitive thing to do.
What I don't get is why Noesen is being required to pay $20,000 to cover the cost of the investigation. I am no litigation expert and am unfamiliar with the whole history of defendants paying court costs or similar situations like this. But aren't executive committees like this paid for with my tax money? If they're not, can they be, please? I want
committees like this to be out there preventing situations like this from happening, and I'm happy to pay for it. And this isn't exactly a pity party for Noesen, either--tarring and feathering is too good for him. I just don't get it. Again, I return to the Bettiga quote, which concedes that Noesen had a right to act on his concience when deciding whether to fill a perscription. Now I know
that this isn't just a bit a rhetoric to please the more reactionary factions within the Disciples of John Gard-infested state Congress. That's just not possible
. So what, exactly, is this guy being fined for? For forcing the Regulation and Licensing people to actually think about a difficult social question? Why fine somebody for making a decision, even if you determine it to be the wrong decision, that exists within a realm of decision making that's within his rights? And even if that makes sense, why tie that fine to what it happened to cost you to reach that conclusion?
I do sort of wonder if he will still choose to practice pharmacy. If it's a sin to assist a college student with obtaining contraception, it's probably a sin to take steps to ensure that somebody else will assist a college student with contraception, too.
Current Music: Ute Lemper—Punishing Kiss
April 12th, 2005
The Concert Meme
Gacked from fountainal
* Reply to this message telling me which of these 25 artists you have also seen.
* Take the ones from my list that you have seen, and post them in your own LJ.
* Add more until you have 25.
- Paul Simon
- Billy Joel
- The Old 97s
- The Reverend Horton Heat
- The Jayhawks
- John Hiatt
- Bob Dylan
- Willie Nelson
- Richard Thompson
- Dire Straits
- Blue Öyster Cult
- Alejandro Escovedo
- Crowded House
- John Wesley Harding
- Los Lobos
- Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
- John Lee Hooker
- Ray Charles
- Lyle Lovett
- Aztec Camera
- Todd Rundgren
- The Captain & Tenille
Current Music: Yo La Tengo (whom I have never seen)
April 8th, 2005
A Neat Idea
This post especially targeted to costume designers. Oh, yes, you know who you are...
A friend in Chicago forwarded me an article today about an interesting income stream that Redmoon Theater
has discovered. From the article published in Crain's Chicago Business
The company, best known for what the Chicago Tribune calls "puppetand contraption-inclined adaptations" of classics such as "Cyrano" and "The Seagull," is receiving national notice for renting out its actors and vibrant costumes to create spectacles at parties and corporate events.
Redmoon for Hire is one of 20 finalists out of 500 entries in the Yale School of Management's competition designed to encourage nonprofits to become less dependent on fund raising. Redmoon business manager Christy Uchida says Redmoon for Hire now accounts for as much as 12% of the company's $1.6-million budget.
Through the program, Redmoon offers event planners a menu of oddities with a Moulin Rouge aesthetic, including "table ladies," actresses wearing hoop skirts that double as large round tables; servers on stilts, and Mardi Gras-styled parades.
(Feel free to go to the site if you want to read the whole article, but they want to you register, and frankly, I didn't want to do that.)
Now, I've seen costumers in Madison do some amazing things, but all too often, the miracle they are expected to exact is to produce an entire wardrobe on a pittance--and of course, no designer's fee. In this, they are not all that different from any designer...profits on productions are often razor-thin, when they exist at all, and producers are understandably reluctant to spend money that they don't need to. But what if there were some actual profit incentive in letting costumers let it all hang out, as it were, and creating some visually impressive piceces with lasting value
? In that way, they're unique. You can't really shop around a set, or a lighting plot, or sound effects except to other theatrical productions who have as little money to expend as yours did in the first place. But costuming--the right sort of costuming, anyway--is one of those elements that can be reused in a variety of contexts. And Redmoon is making up to $25,000 per gig
on those hoop skirts.
Who knows? Perhaps the next Deloite & Touche party will see the_mighty_lady
dressed as a parrot. My friend thought that perhaps I might be willing to rent out Reggie from Naughty
, which makes me wonder if his office parties are a whole lot more interesting than I'd imagined.
Current Music: Various Artists—Straight Outta Boone County
April 7th, 2005
Happy birthday gimpgoddess!
It was hard to decide whether to do a special LiveJournal entry or to have Jerry Lewis killed, but I finally swung around to doing this. I hope that you have a happy day!
Current Music: They Might Be Giants—Factory Showroom
April 5th, 2005
On the way to work today, on the corner of John Nolen and Rimrock, I saw the guy who hauls around the cross on wheels. I haven't thought about him since, oh, 1999
Current Music: Rainer Maria—Long Knives Drawn
April 1st, 2005
It's Been Fun, Folks
After giving it a lot of thought, I've decided to delete my LiveJournal... As you all know, I have not had very much time to post anyway, and when I have, it's been about reformatting songs or mishaps with my clothing. And even then, I don't have time to properly reply to your comments. I am looking for more privacy in my life in general, anyway. So I'm going to leave things up for a week or so and then it's bye-bye... Thank you, all of you that have made the experience fun while it lasted.
For those of you that I've recently offended with my comments, don't worry--you're not the reason I'm leaving, and I don't want to create any LJ drama. It's just really the right thing for me to do right now.
Fortunately, there are ( better things ahead for me.Collapse )
Current Music: Funeral Dirge
March 31st, 2005
John's Pants R.I.P.
I was crouching down to retrive something from a file cabinet, when I heard an unwelcome noise. The damage to my khakis is extensive; maybe two inches or so of gapingness, and any who may care to stop by the office will easily be able to tell that I am wearing forest green and navy blue boxer shorts.
Unless I just never leave my desk. Ever again
Couldn't this have happened after
Current Music: The Killers—Hot Fuss
March 21st, 2005
Love & Death
Another thing that I did this weekend was watch the Kill Bill
movies back to back, which I've been wanting to do for a while. A couple of years ago, the first of those movies was a good culture wars topic, with conservative commentators objecting to the sheer amount of carnage. Of course, few of those commentators actually saw the movie; they just assumed--or cynically calculated that their audiences would assume--that severed limbs and impalement cannot possibly be presented artistically enough to transcend such material's bad taste.
I have also been thinking, courtesy again of Stephin Merritt
, about Busby Berkeley lately. The singer of "Busby Berkeley Dreams," one of the sadder selections on 69 Love Songs
, not only keeps a dead romance alive in his memory, but uses the grandest, "outrageously beautiful" symbols of high movie romance to remember it. And at the end of the song, he asks, "Do you think it's dangerous to have Busby Berkeley dreams?"
The most violent part of Kill Bill
is probably at the end of the first fim when Uman Thurman slaughters all of those black-suited yakuza flunkies--it's also the part that Quentin Tarantino reportedly shot largely in black and white in order to avoid an NC-17 rating--all that blood apparently being more palatable to the MPAA without the vivid Technicolor. Yes, there's a lot of ick in that sequence, but it all comes from a (largely non-western) film tradition that's very aware of the beauty of such elaborate sequences, and Tarantino revels in a spectacular sense of frantic choreography. It appeals to the adrenaline rush afforded by any film violence, but also to a purer aesthetic sense of sheer beauty. It resembles an actual slaughter far less than it resembles...a Busby Berkeley dance number.
But by the same token, Busby Berkeley dance numbers resemble the nature of love in the real world far less than they resemble Busby Berkeley dance numbers, either. And while few of us has fallen victim to marauding avengers and sword-weilding vigilantes, nearly all of us has suffered from unrealistic expectations of the redeeming nature of romance.
So the question is, which one is more dangerous: outrageously beautiful and romanticized depictions of love? Or those of death?
Current Music: The Secret Machines—Now Here is Nowhere
First the unpleasant news...I don't know if it's because I'm a bit under the weather or because the tree pollen is coming into bloom or because my body has developed a resistance or some combination ofall those factors, but the latest help-me-breathe drug is quickly losing its power. I am "sleeping" every night, but having trouble with the apparatus and waking up ill-rested with a sore throat and nasty phlegm every morning. And once again, I am tired every day.
That said, the weekend was pretty good and afforded me opportunities to get at least some
rest, even though many of them were involuntary and took place unexpectedly in the middle of the day.
Saturday night was my time to be social. I saw Welcome to the Terrordome
with Brad & Erica (and saw many other friendly faces there) and found it to be a very effective piece of theater. The hostage drama is a well-mined genre that has for the most part lost its power, but I though that the_mighty_lady
and the cast found many opportunities to find danger and dread in rob_matsushita
's script. Good stuff.
After the play, I wandered over to The Slipper Club to see The Apologists' CD release party show. I know that it makes me sound really old, but why are the best club shows always scheduled for so late? In this case, the first
of three bands wasn't scheduled to go on until 10:00, and even that time got delayed by the basketball game. I hung around for 3 hours, which was about as long as I could stay awake and still drive safely home, and only got about 30 minutes of the band I'd gone to see in the first place. Still, it was a good time.
I wasn't overly impressed with the first band, Cement Pond, which had a couple of talented guitarists, but not much to say musically...and one of the lowest-energy drummers I've seen in a while. The songs just sort of plodded along. At one point, one of the guitarists joked, "well, we've got about 16 or 17 eight-minute songs to go." Nobody laughed.
The next band, The Debut, was a lot more fun...the whole band clearly were having fun playing rock 'n' roll and it was fun to watch them. Surely, the lead singer is aware of his resemblence to Ryan Atwood
, and the band in general gives off a very Bait Shop kind of vibe. I'd definitely go see them again.
And what I saw of The Aplologists was great, too. The problem was that whoever was mixing sound did a pretty terrible job. All of the lead singers kept begging for the vocal level to be raised, and they were right--the vocals were nearly inaudible and certainly unintelligible. The sound guy kept insisting that the level was as high as it could go already--that to raise it any more would be to invite feedback. But of course, he was ignoring the real problem, which was that everything else was turned up too loud
. Again, I don't want to come off as all old fogey here, but in a space as small as The Slipper Club, you really don't need a lot of volume to rock out. Let's think about that word...volume. As in, there is much less volume in a small space like a club as there is in, say, Madison Square Garden. Anyway, I was sorely wishing for my earplugs even as I was enjoying the music. And I experienced a bit of aesthetic multiple personality disorder, where part of me was thinking that The Slipper Club was turning out to be just the place that Madison has needed for so long for good, small, club concerts, and other parts of me never wishing to return again. Indeed, Slipper Club management should take note that the terrible sound design specifically drove away at least two customers.
Current Music: Jem—Finally Woken
March 17th, 2005
An eleventh-hour invitation
For Madison folks and those with advanced teleportation abilities only...
Would anybody like to brave the crowds with me over at Wonders for the annual St. Paddy's Day feast that they put on?
I never think of these things until the last minute.
Current Music: Fountains of Wayne
Inspired by the sad tale of bellanotsoblu
On a scale of 1 to 10, just how hot do you like your showers?
Mean: 7.63 Median: 7 Std. Dev 1.09
Tomorrow morning, you turn on the shower only to discover that there is no hot water available at all. What do you do?
Grit my teeth and take my regular shower
Take a very quick and anatomically strategic shower
Boil water and take a bath instead
Wash my hair in the sink and hope for the best
Ah, it won't hurt to skip one day
Cool! That's how I like my showers in the first place!
Current Music: Camper Van Beethoven—Key Lime Pie
March 11th, 2005
The Fashion of the Christ
Today marks the release of The Passion Recut
, which I suspect everybody but me knew about until today. I've not been listening to the radio or watching TV or even reading the paper lately, but the pundits have probably been busy mining more "contraversy" out of Mel Gibson's to-my-mind-pretty-dull film. (By the way, the new title suggests a number of film-content-related puns, and did you notice that I'm not employing any of them? You're welcome.)
"By softening some of its more wrenching aspects," declares Mel in the print ad, "I hope to make the film and its message of love available to a wider audience." Roger Ebert
quotes him further: the new cut exists so that "Aunt Martha or Uncle Harry" might be more comfortable watching it.
This all strikes me as irkingly cynical, and not because Mel is seeking to milk a few more bucks out of the faithful just in time for Easter. Hell, everybody
in Hollywood does that, and I don't see any reason to go out of the way to condemn Mel Gibson for it just because his movie is about Jesus instead of cute relationship-phobes. But his eager embracing of this Passion
-lite release is sort of bizarre; just as Gibson's famously conservative values contrast against the stereotype of the Hollywood liberal, so does this "directors cut" flout the myth of the artist against the studio, fighting for the importance of every frame of his film. This reportedly was an extremely personal film for Gibson, and one over which he exercised a lot of artistic control. Thus, his "reimagining" of his own film is less about finally presenting his vision as getting rid of the money shot.
To me, this confirms what many of us complained about a year ago: the violence in the original release said a lot more about Mel Gibson than it did about Jesus or anti-Semitism, or God knows, Christianity, and it was unncecessary to begin with. However much Jesus suffered when he died for my sins, I don't imagine that he suffered any less on account of Uncle Harry. If the endless footage of Jesus being flayed alive and shoved by Roman cartoons is artistically or
spiritually important, then why does Aunt Martha get to choose which level of violence she can stomach to as if she were deciding how many stars to apply to her curry in a Thai restaurant?
Now, I know that many of the faithful had deeply moving experiences as a result of watching The Passion of the Christ, and I respect their love of the film and their reation to it. But I can only conclude that many of these reactions came more out of a previous understanding of the meaning of Jesus' suffering as from the content of the film--the brutality of Christ's suffering confirmed what they already knew about His sacrifice. But without a previous shared understanding about the importance of that suffering for suffering's sake, the film has surprisingly little Christian content--nothing to suggest why His sacrifice would have redemptive meaning, nothing to suggest why His message was (and remains) so politically dangerous. And that may be too much to expect from a mainstream film, but its defenders have consistently claimed that it is so much more than that.
Incidentally, why are theater chains with policies of not running any MCAA-rated features willing to run this one? Is there a loophole about selections from previous-rated material? Or are the chain owners just afraid of going to hell?
Current Music: Caitlin Cary—While You Weren't Looking
March 10th, 2005
(I) Love Songs
As many of you know who know me in the real world, my most recent musical obsession has been with The Magnetic Fields
, that loose musical collective pretty much consisting of songwriter Stephin Merritt and whoever he feels like working with at any given time. (Actually, it's one of 3 such collectives, but never mind.) I picked up The Fields' 2004 release, i
, and although my first impression wasn't stellar, the songs grew on me more and more every time I listened to the disk until it became probably my favorite of the whole year.
(As a side note, I had planned a while ago to provide reviews of all of my favorite 2004 albums, but posting time has been
nonexistent, and it is getting to be a bit late in the day for that. But keep your hopes up for my Best of 2005--so far, Mary Gauthier is in first place, but the year is still young.)
Anyway, it's interesting to have discovered Merritt's work in backwards chronology: i
is actually his first entirely acoustic album, but my assumption was that his chamber-ensemble-on-a-budget arrangements were the rule, rather than the lo-fi synthesized DIY arrangements that are actually the hallmark of most of his work. Thinking forward in chronology, I like the trend that he's been taking a lot, and it's a trend that seems to have begun with what most rock geeks acknowledge as Merritt's masterpiece, the three-disk set 69 Love Songs
, containing a pretty balanced blend of acoustic, electropop, and electrowhatever arrangements.
I mention all this because apart from being a collection of terrific songs performed with aplomb, 69 Love Songs
serves as a good meditation as to the nature of the love song. It's a form that has been the staple of popular music for decades, but it seems to me as if in general circulation, it's focus has narrowed considerably: it's hard to find popular love songs that are about anything besides carnality (these comprise most of the happy ones), post-relationship heartbreak (these would be the sad ones), and Romantically impossible longing (the ones designed to be played at the 8th grade sock hop). Those conditioned to these two extremes are likely to object to the tile of 69 Love Songs
, arguing that the lyrics do not qualify many of Merritt's songs for their self-proclaimed category: there are songs about relationship dissatisfaction that stop short of breaking up, songs about limited romantic engagement that stop short of dissatisfaction, songs about dirty thoughts, and songs about such abstract subjects as semantics and musical form.
There are also a disproportionate number of downbeat songs--but not appropriately downbeat so that they'd coverable by, say, Clay Aiken. Geeks of all kinds--movies, music, literature, art--are separated from the mainstream in a variety of ways, but perhaps the most consistent way that they're identifiable to shun is their love of what the mainstrain refers to as "depressing" work. It's the same aesthetic that declares that simplistically crass jokes about sex or scenes of cartoonish mass death should be considered less offensive than honest sexual depictions that acknowledge specific complexities of human beings or scenes that depict horrible consequences of violence, when in fact, the crass booby jokes are the more damaging material.
But for those of us who really dig a song like "Come Back from San Francisco," our love is neither a rebellion against the mainstream nor an exercise in moral calculus. Song geeks tend to be drawn to songwriters who acknowledge enough complexity in the nature of love to remain interesting. The easy observations were stale before anybody alive ever turned on the radio. And love at its joyful height lacks the complexity of mature and inevitably problematic; it's the same difference between an alcoholic euphoria and sobriety (and yes, 69 Love Songs
includes a stunningly extended metaphor entitled "Love Is Like a Bottle of Gin").
I think that it is entirely possible to write a great happy love song--"Stand By Me" would be an example of that in my opinion. But it's awfully hard to write a good
one; it's nearly impossible to find new ways to express such a universal (and chemically dependent) emotion. But as Tolstoy famously observed about families, every couple winds up unhappy in their own way, and it's such an easier thing to find fresh and interesting material in that mine.
Anyway, that's what I've been thinking about musically for a while. Long live the cathartic expression of unhappiness. It makes me very happy.
Current Music: 69 Love Songs (in head)
November 12th, 2004
The air is buzzing with quizzes today. So I made one. Click : here
if you're interested in taking it, and then obsessively click here
afterward to see who has scored better than you since you took it.
My body has been in that state of limbo in which it so often finds itself--just on the verge of getting sick, but unwilling to either get better or to get sick for real to just get over it. I credit this state for the fact that I wound up crashing into bed before 9:00 last night.
And here is the dream that I had:kiteflier
and I are at some sort of convention, and we're going into a number of makeshift used bookstores looking for some particular series of books (the idenitify of which I can't remember). I seem to remember that we were shopping for somebody else and that we were going to make a special gift of the books that we found. kiteflier
draws my attention to one shelf, which has one of the books we were looking for, possibly the best one in the series from the way that we react to our find. But the book has no cover and is in horrible shape, the pages looking as if they'd been soaked in water at least once and splaying out in all directions. I put it in a brown paper bag, but kiteflier
points out some snap-close plastic bags along the wall with pictures of cats. I reach for one of those bags instead.
Sudden scene shift. I am now still at the convention but with some sort of physical disability, perhaps a cast on one leg. I am in some sort of an office setting, talking to George W. Bush, and I am astonished at how kind and compassionate that he is being to me. We chat about movies and baseball, and he keeps expressing concern for my well-being, which flatters me each and every time that he does it. I keep starting to think, "wait a minute...I am incredibly angry at this man, and there are so many serious questions that I need to ask him." But then I find myself starstruck in the presence of greatness and ask some fawning question instead.
I wake up, maskless. It is 2:30 in the morning.
OK, armchair Freudians, what do you think?
Current Music: Camper Van Beethoven—Key Lime Pie
November 10th, 2004
posted thanks to the razor-sharp eyes of king_duncan
If anybody can find a cartoon to support the overwhelmingly more popular "Cats are Libertarians" argument, I'd love to see it.
November 5th, 2004
Everybody should go see spanish_jackie
's one act over at West High School. She's done some impressive things with some brave young actors. High school auditoriums being what they are, I think I missed key parts of some of the girls' monologues, but the four of them did some good ensemble work together. There are also a couple of good David Ives pieces on the bill, too, the better one being "The Enigma Variations," in which the physical comedy still needs a lot of work...but the efforts are impressive just the same.
Seeing stuff like this at Wisconsin high schools always makes me a bit ticked off. I loved my theater experiences at high school, but they were so
limited, and I was left for a long time with the idea that the entire range of theater was realistic, narrative, and middle-brow. The only boundaries I was aware of were the ones about sexual content, bad words, and smoking on stage, all of which were taboo. Now I realize that I was trapped in a small valley, surrounded by mountains, and it never occured to me that there might be completely different countries beyond the mountains. Anyway.
Before the show lady_mishegas
and I went to the Sushi Box, which had pretty good ngiri, but alarmingly small maki. Nice atmosphere; I'd like to go back and try some of the non-sushi dishes. But Takara and Edo still are kicking ass on the sushi front.
Got home and talked to Mom about all of my Bush-voting relatives. She found it ironic that one of the few Kerry voters in my family is in seminary school; this is ironic because Bush was the "religious one." This rather set me off; Kerry made a lot of mistakes in his campaign, but I don't know how his professions of faith could have been any clearer. Both
men profess to be devout Christians, and I see no reason to doubt either profession. But certainly there was a perception that Bush was "the religious one." Why is that? Is it because Kerry was intellectually able to set aside his faith in those times when he needed to champion the idea of a secular
democracy? I doubt very much that most people who voted for Bush consciously want a theocracy, and I wonder if they'd been forced to think about his missteps in that regard that they'd have changed their vote or at least challenged his positions.