More news, more news

March 28, 2008

Jump The Shark

  • Hollywood is racist, no one is surprised. I have to admit, as someone who liked Bringing Down The House (the book, not the ill-conceived Steve Martin/Queen Latifah vehicle), 21 looks vaguely interesting (even if the reviews are mixed). But it’s hard to imagine what this movie would have been marketed as, if they’d insisted on casting true-to-life (like that would actually happen). Probably: Better Luck Tomorrow – with gambling! (Incidentally, another one of the few movies that has a main character named Stephanie.) Sad, but true.

This week has been long, but things have been good. More people like Escape to Chimp Eden, How I Met Your Mother is looking less and less bubble (10.6 million!), and we’ll know the state of Friday Night Lights sometime next week. (Come on, Ben Silverman, after the Family Feud thing I’m not sure how much lower you can go..) That’s all for now. I leave you, with the story of a man raped by a wombat. Or so he claimed.

Blondfire

March 27, 2008

Blondfire

I won’t lie, for a very long while I had given up on ever hearing new Blondfire (formerly known as Astaire) music again. But! Then, with the release of My Someday, their first full-length LP, it all changed.

I first was introduced to Blondfire (then Astaire) at a concert at the Paradise in May of 2004. This concert was also notable in that it was the first time I ever saw Stars (my favorite band, ever) in concert – as the second opener, even! Now they’re selling out Berklee. But that’s another post altogether. Back to Blondfire! The Driscolls, a brother-sister duo with Brazilian and some UK influences, they make airy pop that’s just right for spring.  And you know, all the other seasons too.  Here’s some proof.

Blondfire – Pretty Young Thing

The first single off of My Someday, Pretty Young Thing is classic Blondfire – and, apparently, has been bought by Nike for use on the Nike Women website.  Either way, it’s a good song, and for the first taste of I’ve had of Blondfire in years, a welcome addition to my iTunes.  All of My Someday is available to listen to (and purchase) on CDBaby, and will be up on the iTunes store fairly soon.  Give it a listen, buy it if you want, and enjoy the band that survived a name change after threats from Fred Astaire’s estate.  If that doesn’t inspire you to listen to them, what will?

Swan Lake

March 25, 2008

This is quite possibly the most ridiculous production of Swan Lake I’ve ever seen. (Not the best, of course – no one beats Angel as Prince Siegfried.) But the most ridiculous, yes. First, Little Frogs, rather than Little Swans, but notice the échappés and passés they do. On their hands. Ridic!

Then they continue on to the Act II Pas de Deux, and even if they shoehorn some non-Swan Lake music in there, it’s still ridiculous. When she just hovers in attitude en pointe on the dude’s shoulder? It’s almost more amazing than the arabesque en pointe on his head. Friends, I have no more words to say other than: ridiculous. Granted, it is the Great Chinese State Circus, and they aren’t exactly a ballet company, so we’re obviously going not going to get the Petipa choreography, but I applaud their production. Their ridiculous, ridiculous production.

This weekend (to be more accurate, Thursday through Monday), I watched many things, and I liked all of them.  So, we’ll start at the very beginning.  (A very good place to start.)

Thursday, 8 pmShort Circuit.  A great movie, made even more great by the fact that Ally Sheedy’s character is named Stephanie (something you rarely see in films).  Not to mention the unforgettable quote, “Oh, bull dyke!”

Thursday, 10 pm: Lost.  The return of Michael, something we’ve been waiting a year and a half to see – and it didn’t disappoint.  A good episode right before the five week hiatus, and another example of how Season 4 has been a return to form for the series.  Even if the cliffhanger made me scream out loud.  (It’s just not right!)

Thursday, 11 pm-ish: John Adams, again.  I have nothing to say other than, “South Carolina votes yes.”

Friday, 10 pm: Escape to Chimp Eden.  Jinga gets out of the compound, drama ensues – chimp style.  Are you watching this show yet?  You should be.  We also watched repeats of the show numerous times over the Thursday-Monday period, but it’s just too many times to count.

Saturday, 10 pm-ish: How I Met Your Mother, Season 2.  I think we initially had only planned on Slap Bet, but somehow, we managed to also watch Single Stamina, Lucky Penny, Columns, Showdown, and Atlantic City.  And it was all amazing.

Sunday, 2 am-ish: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.  I’d always wanted to see it, and Lizzy gave me the opportunity to.  Two thumbs way up, from me – Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer, together in a film.  Val Kilmer’s character’s name is Gay Perry.  Do I even need to say any more about this movie?  I don’t think I do.  You should want to watch it already.

Monday, 8:30 pm: How I Met Your Mother.  After watching Slap Bet for the second time in two days, it was time for Ten Sessions, or – The Britney Episode.  I have to admit, she was o – wait for it – kay.  At least she was coherent, even if the episode felt like it focused too much on her, and not enough on Sarah Chalke (who stepped into the role after Alicia Silverstone pulled out due to ‘scheduling difficulties’.  Which we all know is just a fancy term for ‘not wanting to be upstaged by Britney’.  It’s too bad, they dropped numerous hints about Stella being the mother, and the two minute tracking shot was a nice return to the old Ted.  Maybe Sarah will return, if she can get time off of Scrubs, which might be hard considering the 18 episode season she starts shooting today for ABC.  Once again, please fire Ben Silverman.)

And finally, Monday, 11 pm: John Adams, episode 3.  John Adams can’t deal with the French, and I wouldn’t be able to either.  The makeup!  Ridiculous.  Laura Linney pulls out another Emmy reel scene, and Paul Giamatti’s wig is once again, amusing.  Next week: Jefferson looks bewildered, and Abigail Adams finds it appealing.  Drama!

And that’s my TV and movie watching for the past 5 days.  I think all this has done was reinforce that I watch too much TV.  Maybe I’ll do something about it.  (I kid, I kid.)

When you think Founding Fathers, John Adams doesn’t exactly come to mind.  He’s not even on any currency (the presidential series dollars don’t count).  But thanks to HBO’s new miniseries about our second president, people might start remembering him from now on.

John Adams

Now, I won’t lie.  Every time I see Paul Giamatti in that wig, I laugh.  It could be a drinking game, it happens so often.  (Rule #2: Drink everytime you see someone who’s on currency.  Or has a monument.  So,  everyone who is not John Adams.)  But!  The miniseries itself is excellent.  Laura Linney should just go ahead and start writing her Emmy acceptance speech right now.  Not to mention the rest of the cast – Tom Wilkinson as Ben Franklin, David Morse as George Washington(could not be more perfectly cast), Stephen Dillane as Thomas Jefferson, who is quite possibly my favorite character.  (Rule #3, drink each time Thomas Jefferson looks  bewildered.)  Plus, Danny Huston, Justin Theroux, and newcomer (seriously, this is his first credit on the IMDb) Clancy O’Connor as Edward Rutledge, who currently holds the top spot in my informal list of best line readings for “South Carolina votes yes.”  Don’t ask me why, I just love it.  Should I friend him on Facebook?  Decisions, decisions.

Regardless, the miniseries is amazing, especially in the way it presents history to those of us long removed from Honors U.S. History (I took AP Euro instead of AP U.S. – it was a very smart decision on my part).  And it certainly is doing well for HBO, averaging 2.7 million viewers – they need the numbers, especially after the failure of In Treatment.  And I know that we personally have rewatched the episodes at least twice – why did we watch them last night?  It doesn’t matter – it was still entertaining.  So, watch John Adams, learn about the founding of our country, and laugh at Paul Giamatti’s wig.  I know that’s what I’ll be doing.

John Adams airs Sundays at 9 pm EST on HBO.

  • Robin Williams to guest on SVU‘s 200th episode.  Playing an Emmy-baiting engineer who encourages others to defy authority – all this, just one episode after Bill “We will not go quietly into the night!  We will not vanish without a fight!” Pullman guests as Det. Olivia Benson’s boyfriend.  And make that a serious one, since apparently they’ve been dating for months – and Olivia didn’t tell Elliot.  Drama!
  • Sam Raimi in talks for a new Jack Ryan movie.  The last thing the world needs is another Tom Clancy product.  I may be biased, because I think Tom Clancy’s an asshole, but just because Batman Begins managed to successfully revive a franchise doesn’t mean we need to do it to all of them.  The man doesn’t need any more tanks in his front yard.
  • FOX picks up The Inn.  Created by Abraham Higginbotham and Niecy Nash – I won’t lie, Abraham Higginbotham’s name is the best reason to actually pay attention to the credits of Arrested Development.  (That and Stephanie Coffey – I lol’ed.)  With this and Boldly Going Nowhere next year, I’m pretty sure The Return of Jezebel James is going to do exactly that.  Go nowhere.  Take THAT, Amy Sherman-Palladino, you and your hyperaware dialogue.  No one talks like that in real life, it’s just a fact.
  • The best thing I’ve read all week.  This guy makes me proud to be a Judge.  The way he completely rips into Heather Mills is beautiful to behold.  ‘In her final submissions the wife described her contribution as ‘exceptional’. I reject her case. I am afraid to say her case on this issue is devoid of reality.’  Amazing.  Amazing.

In other news, I took class last night, and guess what?  My arches – wait for it, Francesca – are cramping.  It was a good class though, even if my extension has suffered, and there was a guy there who looked like B.J. Novak’s stoner brother – if he had one.  Anyone?  Does B.J. Novak have a stoner brother?  Let me know.

I’ve heard exactly two variations on the news coming from SXSW. The first is, Vampire Weekend, highlight of the festival. Los Campesinos!, though? Awesome. But more prevalent is: Vampire Weekend, kind of disappointing. Los Campesinos!, though? Awesome. So, it’s unanimous. Los Campesinos! = awesome.

Los Campesinos!

I first encountered Los Campesinos! on the A&C sampler, which I received in the mail with my signed copy of Population. (Believe me, there will be a Most Serene Republic post at some point in the future. Along with Stars. I won’t neglect our Canadian friends.) First songs listened to: You! Me! Dancing!, and It Started With A Mixx – auspicious beginnings. (They sure do love their punctuation marks, much like that other band.)

Listening to LC! is like a having a dance party in your headphones. There are handclaps! (You can never go wrong with handclaps.) Occasionally they can get a little too shouty, and maybe a little too twee, but step away for a day or two, and you can then reembrace Los Campesinos! as the shouty, twee kids that they are. (Despite the name, they’re a bunch of hipster British kids, not Spanish peasants. Sorry.) Their first EP, Sticking Fingers Into Sockets was promising, but their as-yet-to-be-released-but-it-leaked-like-two-months-ago LP, Hold On Now, Youngster… is one of those albums that you can listen to over and over and still find something new to like each time.

I actually saw LC! when they came to Boston at the end of their first US tour, and I can truly saw it was one of the more fun shows I’ve been to by myself. We all know that white people like standing still at concerts, but this is not the type of band to do this at. Go stand still at an Iron & Wine show. Unfortunately, there were a bunch of white people at this show, so it was basically me and some girl in the front row singing along and well, not standing still. But! So very high energy, so very fun, and Great Scott has Strongbow on tap. How can you go wrong? Plus, the night ended with Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks, which is by far their most fun and crowd engaging song. What better way to end a show? There is no better way.

Los Campesinos! – Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks

This is actually not the version on Hold On Now, Youngster… but it’s far superior in my opinion. It’s less frenetic, and strangely, more polished. The LP version has its plusses (faster, but they seem to be doing that to all their songs), but in a pinch, I’ll go to the pre-LP version each time. They’ll be playing The Paradise in May, so if you like them, go see them with me, so I don’t have to be the only (half-white) person not standing still. It’ll be awesome, I swear.