Friday, June 24, 2005

sleater-kinney

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Yesterday I went to see Sleater-Kinney at Roseland. Despite the venue size upgrade (I'd previously seen them at Southpaw and Irving), it was a pretttttty aweeesssoooome show. The crowd was great and jumpy and real into it, pumping arms in the air and the like, which frankly, I can never really understand... but hey, have a good time; get into it. But please don't hit me while enthusiastically pumping arm. It frightens me. And for some reason, the area around me was populated by really short girls who looked like they were in like middle school but unless they had real good fakes, were sportin' the blue drinky band and cups o' beer. There actually were some young-ish kids in the crowd - like early teens - and they were lovin' it.

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S-K fed off the energy of the fandom spread before them to go even beyond what I thought possible. Carrie jumped like a gazillion times and Corin wailed like only she can and Janet - wow - a rhythmic blur. Janet, perhaps because she is a drummer, has incredible coordination because if I had to play harmonica AND drum at the same time, I might spontaneously combust a la spinal tap.

They didn't play a lot of old stuff but I don't think that that was what this concert was for and at least I got my favs off the last and new album. S-K is one of the few bands out there right now who actually try to say something with their music and bring a sense of urgency, context and rock-out. I admire them quite a lot. And part of it, I must admit, is the lack of other females, visible at least, in rock music, just like everything else, which makes me mad.

More pics chez ma flickr

fluxblog weighs in with setlist and thoughts

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extraneous words

Dah. I've been meaning to update but it got to be like that paper you put off doing until the night before it's due and then you plan on feverishly dervishly working on it like a mad but clever clever word-smithing fiend, and you lie your head down just to rest for one moment and then bam, the next thing you know, it's noon the next day and your world has come a-tumbling down in little pretend-clever-fiend pieces...

Except, it wasn't really like that. If I remember correctly, I did fall asleep around 10 one night this week watching a movie. What else what else.. Oh my roommate was watching the 1946 version of Great Expectations one day and I sat down to watch 'just a little bit' and ended up watching the whole thing, thinking all the while, "wow, this is so old! but it is so great!" Very entertaining, bringing the Dickens drama of Pip and Estella and Miss Havisham to life. I remember in 8th grade English, we read it and had to cast currect actors for a pretend version with a modernized screenplay. I remember our Miss Havisham was Olympia Dukakis, Estella was Shannon Doherty (post 90210, pre Charmed), and the porkpie and brandy that Pip steals became cheesecake and beer. Ok that was a meander, but yeah, the old movie is pretty great.

I've also been meaning to talk about some books and music. So hopefully I'll get around to that.

And I've come to the realization and possibly acceptance that I'm much more affected by pms than before. Don't make that gross-out face. Be a man! Erm. Unless you are a lady. Not that I'm super crabby or anything but I get like waaaaay emotional around sleeptime, with dumbly bleak thoughts like Why is everything so horrible and bad! Why is life like this! crycrycry tears tears tears. But then I felt better when I realized I wasn't a total emotional wreck. It was just that time of the month. I don't like assigning the mood fluctuation to that either, because of the traditional, sexist, blahblahblah unreasonable traits and all that jazz placed on females. But then, I would rather not be labelled Crazy and Really Depressed, for now. I don't know even know why I'm telling you this, Gentle Reader. But now, I will scamper off with ringlets in my hair and have utterly witty exchanges with snobbish men.

Monday, June 20, 2005

geez

I like how this article, "Korean Word for Golf? Chances Are, You'll Hear It Here" doesn't stereotype or generalize or overreach at allll!

He added that Koreans are also intrigued by the paradox at the heart
of golf, the fact that it is so seemingly simple, yet so difficult.
They gravitate toward the demanding practice regimen, the inner
discipline and the meditative, repetitive approach the game requires.

"Golf is an attempt at perfection," he said. "It is a very hard sport
to master and demands focus and concentration on every shot. A lot of
Asians use meditation to relax and focus."

"A lot of Koreans have their own stores or businesses and can take
time off in the day for golf," he said, as a large group of female
players walked into the range. "Or at least their wives can."

Ilhyun Jung, 50, a dentist from Forest Hills, put the Korean affinity
for golf in historical perspective.

"For 5,000 years, Korea was surrounded by big countries and suffered a
lot of invasions," he explained. "We had to be strong and sustain many
challenges, so we are used to challenge, and our persistence is
naturally stronger. It is the nature of the Korean: We want to show
our ability and do things perfectly."


I don't know what to do! Five thousand years of history is bursting in me. I must be perfect! I must play golf! And thanks for doing your research Corey Kilgannon. The korean word for golf is essentially, "golf", except Korean phonetics don't have a F sound so it sounds more like gol-puh. REAL crazy!

Italia Part III -The Longest Day Continues

KM takes us to this restaurant in an area of Rome, Trastevere, which has become his stompin' grounds and will likewise become our stomps as well. It's charming, not toooo touristy, artsy, with lots of yummy places to hang out, drink, eat, chillax - sort of like the east village.

Outside the restaurant are these gigantic candles burning on the ground near a menu. An accordian player and his violinist sidekick play outside and will soon go around the diners both outside and in for money. These street performers are ubiquitous, especially around dining and drinking establishments. They play music from old, romantic movies and times, with operatic melodies and oom-pah-pah accompaniments. Sometimes people drop some coins in collecting cups to pay for this sort of evening soundtrack or sometimes for skill, or for lack of knowing what else to do with an outstretched hand.

The servers seem slow, but this is just the Italian way. Our waiter looks vaguely punk, with one of those big black circle earrings and spikey pitch black hair. Nevertheless, he is very nice, forgiving of my bad pronunciations, and he shows some magical waiter-instincts when he brings us a second basket of bread and a new fork before we get around to asking him.

The cosy, duskily-lit restaurant has a hodgepodge of photos and wine bottles lining the wall. The other tables are laughing it up and the mood is friendly and relaxed. Dinners in Italy tend to be rather late-ish, so despite our wolfish hungers, we're in prime dinner-time.

With a bottle of red standing sentry, we eat our pasta and meat courses. My pasta - primo course - is orrechiete with sausage and broccoli rabe and for my secondo, I dig into saltimbocca, veal goodness wrapped in prosciutto goodness. A Roman specialty, saltimbocca means hop or jump in the mouth. It jumped. It jumped from its pool of light butter sauce into my tummy. And all was good with the world. Sorry I don't have any pics of the food!

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After dinner, with energy roaring from our bellies, we get a night walking tour of Rome. The stops: the Spanish steps, where there is a group of people with guitars singing Beatles songs not very well. And the Pantheon. And Trevi Fountain. Needless to say, I get kind of overwhelmed and kinda tired. Too many sites. Too much history! I valiantly fight off some guys trying to sell roses -- they're fierce -- and because I don't throw a coin behind my shoulder into the fountain, I doom myself never to return to Rome. We shall see. I think I'll return any place where they wrap things in prosciutto and cook them in butter.

My photos, so bland, like my personality. Here are some nicer shots.

Friday, June 17, 2005

jealousy

Are you humming that Natalie Merchant song "Jealousy"? I am. Whatever happened to her? I know. Celine Dion fed her to her bébé. What? I don't know.

So, it's kind of amazing. My friends are travelling all over the world! Like Captain Planet except without superpowers! Except maybe Heart. They all have Heart. ShooooO! (Heart power). Their current, very recent, and future locations include: Iceland, Ecuador, Taiwan, Japan, Guyana, S. Africa, Namibia, Italy ... Pretty cool eh?

Their voyaging has awoken the green monster in my feet (eww that sounds fungal) even though I just took a vacation, now I want to go somewhere again.

But then again, I saw some people laying out in the sun, reading and sleeping, today during my lunch hour and I wanted to be one of them too.

It's too easy.

2046

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On Wednesday, thanks to the quick-clicking mouse of my friend, we got to go to a screening of Wong Kar Wai's 2046 at Walter Reade. And Wong Kar Wai was there! *squeal*. He was wearing sunglasses. And my cinematically-inclined friend informed me that Wong says there are two types of people that wear sunglasses all the time. People who are blind. And people whose hearts have been broken.

Sounds ridiculous right? But beautiful. Like his films. Ridiculously beautiful.

2046 is a sort of sequel to In the Mood for Love and continues the thread of love and timing, memories, and secrets, among other riches and vague words. The visuals are gorgeous, multi-stylized, and the film is infused with both melancholy and humor.

This Time Asia article talks about the movie. Though I found its simplistic reductions of certain aspects of the movie (as well as its style of writing) rather irritating, it did remind me of something that irked me a little bit, though Wong's art is too good to make it a major thorn in my side for this particular film. Just filmdom as a whole.

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After quoting John Berger - "The camera is a man looking at a woman." - it continues: Movie romance is certainly a snapshot of a beautiful woman suffering. The main function of Chow—played by Leung as a sensitive gigolo whose smirk can mature into a sigh—is to direct our glance to all the fabulous women in the cast. The camera, mainly manned by Christopher Doyle, prowls around the women like a lover in the first flush of passion. Oh shut up. Prowl prowl.
Oh, beauty and all. Yes, these are fabulous, multi-dimensional women. Yes they suffer. You feel all these large romantic sweeping swooping emotions when these suffering women are beautiful, spilling tears on their beautiful faces and making ugly sad raw noises out of their beautiful mouths. This movie has a lot of beautiful women suffering and crying.
I'm not sure I'm making a point. The quote does say it all. The camera is a man looking at a woman. When is the camera a woman? Would this story have worked had the protagonist been a woman and the others men? I don't think so. Is this a useful question to ask? Probably not. Prowl prowl.
Anyways, I've already verged on incoherency, so watch the trailer. It's US release by Sony Pictures Classics is slated for August of 2005.
Somebody summarized the Q&A session held afterwards.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I don't get it

Why do people come out of concerts and pop in their i-pod buds? These fishes, gasping for musical breath. As I remarked to my dear friend who wants a djembe sent to her, it's like taking out and eating a snack after you've had a lovely meal. Excess.

Monday, June 13, 2005

architecture in helsinki

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Went to see Architecture in Helsinki, appropriately summer-y music, at an un-airconditioned Knitting Factory, formerly merely a music venue on the edges of Chinatown, now also sauna (they've also renovated their bathrooms... nice!!). Despite the heat, a good time was had by all, egged on by Aussie humor, joyous energy, jungle animals, really fun music, charming accents and a brass section. I'm convinced that everything is fun and games with a brass band to back you up.



Their latest album, In Case We Die has dozens of instruments in the credits, from cowbell to theremin. Yesterday, I also learned what a melodica is. Here is AIH member playing said instrument, behind the shadow of tour mascot, Julio.
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The at least eight members seem just to be a bunch of friends having a good time, banging on cowbells, getting tangled in leaves, dancing with a pinata, and being versed in multiple instruments. They have a livejournal too. They play at Northsix tonight. Well, that's about it.
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Sunday, June 12, 2005

Italia Part II - The Longest Day

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The landscape scrolls by the windows of the train while nobody checks our tickets. I will find that this is a common occurrence in Italy, a habit much like a smoker's need to light one up after a good meal. That metaphor was as unnecessary and incorrect, even, as ugg boots. Oh there I go again. Out of control. During this introduction to the lack of ticket-punching, I am also introduced to KM's Ridiculous Sunglasses. They are Large, Purplish, and involve Snakes. Really. Snakes. (Quick search yields this sort of similar look). Those Italians, they really like their sunglasses. I will find that sunglass shops with names usually starting with 'ottica' dot the cityscape like starbucks in the big apple, twinkle twinkle. Street vendors also carry trays of sunglasses. KM divulges that the best selection is near Termini, the big train/bus station near the center of Rome. The three boys make a pact to each get a pair of Ridiculous Sunglasses near Termini for fun photo op whilst I look on in amusement.

Tada! We have arrived in Roma! KM has been boarding at a lovely apartment of an Italian Grandma, who will be called Nonna, and so brother MM has to go and drop off stuff there. We all head over over the river (and through the woods? haha) to Nonna's house we go. Nonna's house might as well be through woods and over oceans -- it's far, not to be found on any standard-issue maps of Rome, especially not this small one. If you click on the map, Nonna lives like two or three inches off the map to the left. KM is now a champion walker.

We took a bus and tram, if I remember correctly. I learned again that tickets in the Rome public transportation system are like mosquitos in winter, affordable housing in nyc, deep thoughts in janet's head: ABSENT. While there are validating machine thingies on board these vehicles, they are in the middle and aren't required for entry. I hear that you can be fined or show a driver's license or student ID as identification for a fine that goats.jpg you will never pay but for the duration of our stay in Rome, nobody checks. Honesty goes down the drain and I marvel, coooool! It's freeeee! Awesome!!!!!
While the brothers M go off to meet and greet Nonna and such, G and I go off towards the end of Nonna's jasmine-lined block. At a sort of cul-de-sac, there is a pretty great view of Rome, while behind us, cute little smart cars and scooters zoom by now and again. Far off, we can see the big dome that is St. Peter's. Closer by, the trees are lushly green and there are two golden retrievers running alongside the wire fence, tails wagging happily, barking noisily and importantly. The bells of a small herd of goats clang gently as they graze, paces from us, ignoring the dogs. They don't seem to care much for the view. They don't really seem to care much for anything.
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Afterward, we drop off my stuff. I am staying near Termini, at a hostel in a twelve-bed room full of eager, energy-filled, english-speaking, wine-soaked college-age backpackers. I promise myself that next time I visit this nation, I will stay in a real hotel or somebody's house. The hostel was serviceable, sometimes gross. Eh. At least nobody threw up on me, as did some girl at G's hostel. You get what you pay for, quoth the princess on her perpetual pea.
It's almost nine and the princess and her cohorts all feel that it is high time to dine. Not counting a scant bit of sleeping on the plane, MM and I have been up for over 24 hours. Nevertheless, I'm hanging in there. But this will turn out to be the day without end.

Friday, June 10, 2005

NB: If you would like uninterrupted Italy posts, they'll be here. Otherwise, stick around here for all sorts of the usual dour fun PLUS italy. Two for the price of one.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Italia Part I - The Layover, The Flight

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I don't like planes, breathing that fresh canned air scent, imprisoned in the scratchy chair that wouldn't pass muster at the movie theater, watching the little plane on the screen blink slowly, nano-slowly across the vast ocean of tiny headrest screen. Planes and airports transform me into that mean little girl in The Secret Garden, yearning to run with my stringy dirty blond hair amongst the wild brambles and sweet heather-filled moors of the Yorkshire countryside. My travelling companion on this first leg of voyage (whom we shall call MM), on the other hand, loves planes, loves airports, had even planned out his travelling clothes a week before we set our dancing feet at JFK.

Actually, I had never before set my party-pooper feet at this grand international airport before; I've always flown in and out of Newark, a venue that does little to improve my tomato garden state's reputation and causes my mother to get lost every single time she attempts to pick somebody up. The airy windows and shops, the prospect of good times abroad, and MM's infectious plane-related excitement perk up my mood considerably.

After spending a long-ish time at the gate as we had arrived rather early, we finally boarded. The stewardesses greeted us in a dazzling, if slightly frightening array of english, french, and german. Ah, Swiss Air. Will it rain chocolates? No. Only cartons of duty-free cigarettes.

In the air!!!
I have given up my aisle seat so that I can sit next to my buddy, who is in the last row/middle aisle on the plane. I call this true friendship. The button on the armrest that should move the seat back so that the passenger can rest upon it comfortably à la lawnchair is just there for show. I press it and attempt to lean back to no avail, getting a small workout on my back muscles.
The guy next to us is a first-time abroad traveller. He is a nice guy but a little clueless, asking us about connecting flights. All three of us will connect in Geneva for Rome. Over the course of the flight, he will down five mini-bottles of red wine.
Planes are no mans land. You can read, watch, eat, drink anything you like (On my return flight I watch Hitch.). I skim through an issue of Lucky, watch a quarter of Life Aquatic, half of Bug's Life, and check in on MM's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" game. It's the British version though, so the dollar signs are replaced by pound signs and there are strange questions having to do with by jingo, by golly and marmite or summat. The food is edible and luckily we both get some sleep. Et voilà, we arrive in Geneva.
Getting off the plane, I gasp a little. Yes - fresh air, but also, here's some real purple mountain majesty. The airport is in an impressive locale with the backdrop of shadowy mountains and inexplicably blue sky.
Once at the airport, Clueless and a few others stumble about. We straighten him out and our connecting gate etc. MM and I decide that we'll attempt to take the train into Geneva proper. With a little confusion, we get on a train and hope for the best. The pleasant machine lady voice announces in French and English the stops on the train. Bon, we are on the right track.
We get off ten minutes later at the quiet train station. After veering towards a park and deserted road, we find the right direction towards Lake Geneva. The water is impossibly sparkly, vast, and like the city, clean. There are not that many people out and about and there is an apparent cool and collected atmosphere - MM and I have been invoking national stereotypes all throughout the flight and so we pretend or agree that it makes sense that this country is known for its diplomacy, precise watches and shady neutrality. There will be a very different story in Italy. We see banks, chocolate shops, Swatch watches, and lots of flags and return to the airport.
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The flight to Italy is short. I miss the scenery because I fall into a dead sleep but MM tells me that we flew over the Alps. We arrive in Fiumicino Airport, Rome safe and sound and find our luggage with no problem. We help Clueless find his friend and advise him to keep his money in different places, warning darkly of gypsies and pickpockets. While we wait for KM (MM's brother who has been studying abroad in Rome) and G (KM's friend) to meet us, we have fun guessing what nationality people around us are. Most Italians are given away by their shoes and sunglasses. Some Americans are given away by lost looks and shorts. There is one Italian man wearing tight jeans, a blue blazer, classy little loafers, and laughably large sunglasses. I begin to realize that Rome is a little like Williamsburg aka hipsterville. More on that later.
Here, too, the announcements for trains to Rome come over the loudspeaker in multiple tongues - Italian, French, and English. This is the last time we will hear translations. The trains are sorrrrrrt of on time. Finally, we see our amici and we all get on the train to Rome. KM has brought me chocolate. That, too, is what I call friendship.

spoon

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I went to see Spoon at Webster Hall on wednesday. Took my customary bad photos, again not noticing that I had put the camera on the blurry setting and not on my saviour "auto". At least I won't be having this trouble any time soon.

No matter. Playing to a sold out, excited, un-air-conditioned, sweating, dancing, bopping crowd - Spoon was just so good. I was very excited to see them live for the first time and came away impressed and dehydrated. They play an unbelievably tight set; there was this one moment (I forget the song) where Britt and drummer Jim (that sounds like brother bear or queen elizabeth, like 'drummer' is a title, bestowed - ) stopped short for this strange rhythmic hiccup mid-phrase. My god, that sort of coordination takes real practice and care, anybody who's even been in any sort of dinky middle school ensemble knows.

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The guitar jam robot conversation sounds! The crunchy piano! The trademark Spoon chords! Oh so nice! fluxblog has the setlist and nicely thought-out/written review, labelling the band "classy" which at first sounds huh? but does make sense when you think about it. Careful, elegant while wild, clever and immediate - they are indie debonair darlings.

Lots of great pics at brooklynvegan

Britt Daniel recently appeared on WNYC's Soundcheck and played a couple songs solo.