Monday, December 24, 2007

Silent Night, Election Edition

I've admired Harry Shearer's radio show originating from Santa Monica's KCRW for many years. It's fun to see him take the same style to video in this clip. (Please feel free to close the ad overlay.)

PS: Stay tuned for an historic, unprecedented and important 2008 Presidential Campaign Endorsement Anouncement from Faraway, So Close.

PPS: According to Shearer, Santa Monica is The Home of the Homeless

PPPS: KCRW is home to the best show on radio, Nic Harcourt's Morning Becomes Eclectic. I once almost quit a well paying job that I hated to take a poor paying job that I might have loved that would have put me in close professional contact with the Morning Becomes Eclectic folks. It was years before I could listen to any public radio program without a bit of regret. I'm fine now, thanks for asking.


Nean with Wings

We got up after Santa came and played with the kid's toys for a while.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

U23D - The Widget


Let's hope this works

When was the last time you went to a 3D movie? We saw one yesterday at Hershey Chocolate World and it was pretty corny. My three year old was impressed, but I thought it was a wasted effort.

So it is with some apprehension that I await the January 25th release of U23D. This Imax film purports to take the audience right into the concert experience. Having actually been in the concert experience many times, the bar will be high. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to see the show. U2 has mastered the craft of live rock and/or roll, but 3D? Do they really need this gimmick to make you feel a connection with the band?

The Rolling Stones did a 3D thing years ago and all my dad has to show for it is some paper glasses with a tongue on the side. Are Bono & The Edge bound to repeat the mistakes of Mick & Keith? Unlike The Stones, U2 is making music in their late forties that builds on their catalog and continues to be relevant to their fans. Why stoop to gimmicks to get people in the door?

The last U2 feature I saw in a theater was Rattle & Hum. It was around Halloween in 1988 or 89. There were maybe ten people in the entire theater. They'll put more marketing behind this one, but I'm skeptical that it will judged a success. What do I know though. They loved it in Cannes.

Enough of my yackin'. Let's boogie.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

For these are the days, and these are the days my friend

This was a great concert. They trimmed a few key sections (the beginning of Knee 5 and the "Mr. Bojangles" speech, for example) but it was extremely enjoyable.

Lucinda Childs was back for her female spoken-word part. It is hard to imagine anyone else in this part. Her voice is perfect for the part and it was a pleasure to watch her mannerisms.

The violinist (Tim Fein?) performed very well but had a bit of an elitist/inside joke smirk during his entrance that was rather disaffecting.

It was fun to see Melvin Van Peeples as the Judge/Bus Driver. I prefer Mr. Johnson from the original and the Nonesuch recording, but I suppose it is quite normal to become attached to the performance you're most used to hearing. Anyway, Mr. Van Peeples had his own intonations and interpretation and there's nothing wrong with that.

Philip Glass turns 71 next month but he looked just like he did when I first saw him in 1995. There were several moments during the evening when he looked rather pleased.

My seat was ideally located (row seven) and I was right next to a gentleman from Ottawa who had traveled to New York to see the show. Impressive, though not misplaced devotion to this music. After the show we agreed that our time and money was well spent.

Thanks for the birthday present Janean!



This is Ishi-san. He is a chef at Nobu 57. I ordered the "Omakase"
which roughly translates to "I leave my order up to you." Or as the
critic says to the rat at the end of Ratatouille, "surprise me!"

The meal was wonderful and the conversation was fun too. It has been a
year since I spoke so much Japanese.

Kioku ni nokoru keiken deshita. Arigatou Ishi-san.

Outside Carnegie Hall

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Philip Glass Week on Faraway, So Close

There was a good summary of Einstein in Sunday's New York Times titled "Transformed by the Tonic of ‘Einstein’".

Obligatory quote: "'Einstein on the Beach' is the ideal entertainment for people smart enough not to think too much."


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Would it get some wind for the sailboat. And it could get for it is.

I'm going to New York on Thursday (12/6) to see the Philip Glass Ensemble play the music from Einstein on the Beach in Carnegie Hall. I'm really excited for this. I wish it were the entire opera, but the music on its own will only last three hours. The opera in its entirety is closer to five.

My first serious exposure to Glass's music was at an upper floor of Tower Records in Shibuya, Tokyo. It was 1995 and I was interning for Sony at the time. I heard that he would be speaking and signing autographs at Tower before a performance that week. My interest was piqued, but I almost didn't go to the event. It was on Sunday and I didn't feel like a record store was a good place for me to be on a Sunday evening. There was probably some church meeting I could have gone to instead. I went to the record store and it changed my life.

As Glass was signing autographs, the record store was playing excerpts from his repertoire and one piece in particular amazed me. I had never heard anything like it. It was a musical paradigm shift for me; an opening of possibilities of what music could be. I would later learn the piece was the final section from Einstein, a section Glass referred to as "Knee Play 5."

I purchased a copy of this piece soon thereafter and listened to it over and over. I am easily affected by certain sounds, stories and aural images and in Knee 5 I found music that, at that time at least, was perfectly in line with my personal resonant frequency. I have struggled to explain this attraction to Janean (when she asks in dismay "why do you like this?") The closest I can come to making verbal sense of it is that I have an appreciation, even an affinity, for subtlety and patience. I'm also a bit of a romantic (yes, it's true.) I'm not the most subtle, patient or romantic person -- far from it. But I admire these qualities when I observe them. Glass's music, especially Knee 5, is all about subtlety and gradual progression. The voices underneath the counting are haunting and mysterious. What is the code to this text? Is there a code? There’s definitely a romantic bit at the end.

There's a line in The Departed that comes to mind. The Matt Damon character says, "I'm Irish, I'll deal with something being wrong for the rest of my life." I sometimes indentify with this sentiment of endurance, but in my case I'm more likely to pursue marginal, incremental progress than deal with it being wrong for the rest of my life. Like the six year ordeal of convincing Janean to marry me or the nine years it took for me to find a job I really enjoy. I'm often satisfied, even enthralled, with nearly imperceptible progress in matters where endurance is a virtue. There's some of that in much of Glass's music. He is a master of starting with "A" and taking twenty minutes to get to "B" through a most gradual evolution. Perhaps my appreciation for this has been fueled by an exposure to Zen Buddhism.

So I'm off to New York on Thursday. I’m flying solo. Again. When I came back from Japan in 1995, I was so eager to share Knee 5 with Janean. We were dating at the time and I played it for her one evening. She married me anyway. I have since seen Philip Glass perform live (by myself) in Portland, Los Angeles and Austin. To her credit, she did come to one performance in Austin, but I had already attended four others that week by myself. I'm about to add New York City to the list. She has eBay and I have Philip Glass. Diverse interests, but we are still like “two lovers [sitting] on a park bench with their bodies touching each other, holding hands in the moonlight.