Tuesday, December 30, 2008

ATP Announces NY 2009 Dates, Partial Line-Up

The music festival named for my favorite Velvet Underground song hits the Catskills September 11-13. Flaming Lips are curating, and The Dirty Three are set do perform Ocean Songs in its entirety. At that time of year, it ought to be gorgeous.

Monday, December 29, 2008

At Least Someone's Making Hay

Photo: Jim Wilson/The New York Times

NY Times has an interesting story this morning about skateboarders who've found a way to take advantage of the housing bubble collapse, and, possibly, perform a public service, by draining abandoned swimming pools.

Best quote:“I’m doing the city a favor,” [Josh Peacock] said, by emptying fetid pools. “They’re always talking about West Nile on the news. Those little fish can only eat so much.”

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Dark Knight, Revisited

Last summer, like most people who saw TDK in the movie theatre, I felt justifiably wowed by the production and the intelligence that went into the flick. On second viewing, and on the small screen at that, I find more sympathy for its critics. The nihilism is pretty much unrelenting.

Without the benefit of surprise, the Joker character Heath Ledger and the Nolans put on screen is less fascinating and more loathsome. I still hold my earlier opinion he's too much of a controller to be an "agent of chaos," but it's still one of the best depictions we'll ever see of a dog that needs to be put down.

I have to wonder about all the Oscar talk: after last year's honors for No Country for Old Men, how much of a backlash would there be if Hollywood goes this dark for the second straight year? What does it say about us, as a culture, that our entertainment industry would put so much quality effort - and praise - into products that embrace nihilism to this extent two years straight?

A Late Giftie For You

White Winter Hymnal from Fleet Foxes on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Other Boyfriend, The Vampire

Here's a vampire movie for the bigger girls and boys. The bloodsucker in Let the Right One In is no vegan, but instead a lonely soul in the body of a 12 year old girl, more or less, who enters the world of the equally lonely Oskar in the cold Swedish night. What follows is a meditation on friendship, loyalty, co-dependency, and what can be accepted - or not - in the natures of our selves and of those closest to us.

It's just been held over - for the second or third time - at the Belcourt and appears to be turning into this year's Pan's Labyrinth.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Here We Go

I think you know what this is about.

You Knew Someone Was Gonna

The Belcourt is hosting an all-day Lord of the Rings fest this Saturday 12/27. What makes it is the accompanying "Middle Earth Meals" getting served up with the flick all day. Belcourt Marketing guru Josh Hayes sat down to talk about it.

Speaking of "squeak, squeak, squeak," the theatre has launched a "Creature Comforts" campaign with the goal of replacing those worn-out seats.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Review: Marley and Me

Directed by David Frankel

Marley and Me strikes me as the first real Gen-X family tearjerker, even if it was based on a Boomer's book. Said Boomer, John Grogan, and his wife put off marriage and children long enough into their relationship they ought to qualify as honorary Gen-Xers, and besides, the first identifiable pop song heard is R.E.M.'s "Shiny Happy People." Finally, the Marley in the title symbolizes all those messy, uncontrollable factors that make so many Gen-Xers so risk averse. Works for me.

If it weren't based on Grogan's memoir, I'd say the dog in Marley and Me was a brilliant device for getting people into a movie about things that one imagines would bore the crap out of today's hip producers and even hipper audiences.

"So this guy, he marries this chick who is totally out of his league, then they move to sunny Florida, where he writes a regular column for the local newspaper, but he wants to be the next Jack Anderson. He gets a little jealous when he sees his single friend get hot women and even hotter stories, but doesn’t get crazy resentful or anything, he just enjoys his family, and tries to be a supportive husband and good dad, good provider. He gets his chance, and they move to Philadelphia where he starts out in hard news, but ends up writing columns again because he’s so good at it. He's got a great family.”

And it's all really, really, true.

Zzzzzzzzzz ....

But wait! We can get Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston ...

Zzzzzzzzzz ....

But wait! There's this crazy, unpredictable, cute stunt dog!


Center the story around that dog and his hijinks, and how he intrinsically affects the family that surrounds him, and the snoozer turns into a thoroughly enjoyable feel-good movie more than capable of keeping viewers awake in their seats.

We never meet or even hear Grogan’s parents spoken of. Instead, he's mentored by his editor. In between handing out assignments, Alan Arkin gives Owen Wilson all the practical advice on family and relationships that 1960s parents rejected in favor of “do your own thing,” and some of it turns out to be pretty good.

To get some idea of the real Marley, check out the first 30 seconds of this YouTube video:

He was truly a monster of a dog, and the animals that stood in for Marley, in this film, deserves an Oscar every bit as much as that horse in Cat Ballou.

Wilson and Aniston are well cast and have terrific chemistry. I had no trouble believing in them as a couple. Kathleen Turner shows up in a cameo that’s shocking if you were unaware of the Body Heat actress’s health issues and refusal to be a typical Hollywood actress and go under the knife at 53. She looks ... like a normal person. And somehow, that's perfect because at it's heart, Marley and Me is about how normalcy is something you obtain by accepting and dealing with uncontrollable messes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nice Life

File under: photos I wish I'd taken.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You Can Poke Someone's Eye Out With That

This morning I made mention on the air of all the creative editing that's come as a result of video of that Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush. Here's the latest one, sent on by listener Matthew:

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Nutcracker: Ooh, Pretty

I went over the weekend and caught the Nashville Ballet's new production and my overall impression is that it's absolutely gorgeous. The dancing was, of course, great and Paul Vasterling's sultry choreography really shined on the Arabian dance. Equally dazzling, though, are the new sets. Just about every transition to a new scene was accompanied by audience "oohs" and "ahs," and "ow, wows." The overall impact was a moving visual feast and riot of color.

Speaking of Mr. V., here's the unedited interview audio from last week's chat.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lists, Lists, Lists II

And this one is of the Golden Globe Awards nominees. Looking over the noms for the movies makes me feel ancient: only Burn After Reading, WALL-E, and In Bruges, of all these, ever struck me as movies I gotta, gotta to see. Everything else looked like an obligation.

Slumdog Millionaire
The Reader
Revolutionary Road
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Burn After Reading
In Bruges
Mamma Mia
Vicky Christina Barcelona


Kate Winslet – Revolutionary Road
Meryl Streep – Doubt
Kristin Scott Thomas – I've Loved You So Long
Angelina Jolie – Changeling
Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married


Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler
Sean Penn – Milk
Leonardo DiCaprio – Revolutionary Road
Brad Pitt – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon


Rebecca Hall – Vicky Christina Barcelona
Meryl Streep – Mamma Mia!
Sally Hawkins – Happy-Go-Lucky
Emma Thompson – Last Chance Harvey
Frances McDormand – Burn After Reading


Javier Bardem – Vicky Christina Barcelona
Colin Farrell – In Bruges
Brendan Gleeson – In Bruges
Dustin Hoffman – Last Chance Harvey
James Franco – The Pineapple Express


Kate Winslet – The Reader
Penelope Cruz – Vicky Christine Barcelona
Viola Davis – Doubt
Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler
Amy Adams – Doubt


Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
Robert Downey, Jr. – Tropic Thunder
Phillip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt
Tom Cruise – Tropic Thunder
Ralph Fiennes – The Duchess


Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire
David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon
Stephen Daldrey – The Reader
Sam Mendes – Revolutionary Road





Mad Men
In Treatment
True Blood

The Office
30 Rock

...blah blah blah.

Lists, Lists, Lists I

I think I just fell in love with blogger Perez Hilton for calling top albums lists "wankery." Rolling Stone just published theirs for 2008.

1. TV on the Radio: Dear Science
2. Bob Dylan: Tell Tale Signs — The Bootleg Series Vol. 8
3. Lil Wayne: Tha Carter III
4. My Morning Jacket: Evil Urges
5. John Mellencamp: Life, Death, Love and Freedom
6. Santogold: Santogold
7. Coldplay: Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends
8. Beck: Modern Guilt
9. Metallica: Death Magnetic
10. Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend

I mentioned the list on the air this morning and added that what looked like my favorite album this year didn't make it on there. Forgot to say what it was:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Self Returning?

Like most pop geniuses, Matt Mahaffey's a busy guy. In addition to his Wired All Wrong work (with Jeff Turzo from God Lives Underwater), and playing in Beck's band, MySpace and SeLf-Centered watchers have lately been treated to two new Self tunes. One of them, "Monogamy" is pure cane-sugary pop bliss. This is fantastic news, since Mahaffey and his fans got shafted a few years ago when Dreamworks shelved Ornament and Crime. Hints on the Self Centered message board indicate there's more news coming. In the meantime, enjoy:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Heads Up - The Golden Sounds

"Todd Evans and whoever is available at the time" in his dream-pop collective make a rare live appearance this Saturday night at the Family Wash in East Nashville. If I could stay up past 9pm, I'd be there. Why can't a few good bands play at a brunch or something, sometime?

Sound: Elizabeth mp3

Friday, December 5, 2008

... And As Far As Grammys Go

Do you notice?


Adele -- "Chasing Pavements"
Coldplay -- "Viva la Vida"
Leona Lewis -- "Bleeding Love"
M.I.A. -- "Paper Planes"
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss -- "Please Read the Letter"

Out of the five noms, there's only one (US) American in the bunch. What I think is up with that? The US music and radio scene has become so over-niched into identity groups that any kind of good new idea gets strangled out of the gate. I also think it's interesting that the Plant/Krauss collaboration is the only one of these that doesn't owe anything to a long past era (although I admit to admiring what M.I.A. did with that Clash sample very, very much and wouldn't mind in the least if it won).

Coldplay Accused of Plagiarism: Joe Satriani

Looks like they won't be getting that Record of the Year Grammy.

MSNBC reports today:

Satriani's copyright infringement suit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles federal court, claims the Coldplay song "Viva La Vida" incorporates "substantial original portions" of his 2004 instrumental "If I Could Fly."

Interesting to note the video was posted some eight or nine weeks ago, specifically to point out the similarity between Joe's riff and the "Viva" chorus. I think it's a pretty minor and will be hard to prove.

Sidenote: YouTube's new screen ratio is annoying for anything that's not a movie trailer, you know?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Skinny On Nashville Ballet's New Nutcracker

I just spoke with Nashville Ballet's artistic director Paul Vasterling about the all-new version of The Nutcracker being unveiled next Dec. 12. It sounds like it's going to have a strong emphasis on the visual aspects, beyond pirouettes, and it's also going to be very Nash-centric. The interview will air next week, starting on Wednesday, and there will probably be two versions: the on-air edit, and the uncut web version.