Best of

What a peculiar year. I didn't read as many novels as I usually do. I didn't purchase as much music as I usually do. I travelled a bit, but not as much as I would have liked. I went to a few art openings. I saw a few films, but overall, 2007 was a pretty mellow year.

So here's my roundup for the year.

Best Live Shows - Trentemoller at Neumo's, Seattle - Its hard to put into words the electric energy of this show. Just an all around great night and a Monday to boot.
Booka Shade at Mezzanine, San Francisco - My only wish for this show was that it was about 2 hours longer, but seriously, these guys proved why they are international superstars.

Best Movies
INLAND EMPIRE - Once again, David Lynch blew my mind. He creates moody works that are inexplicable and demand viewing. Therefore, I won't try to explain it.
No Country for Old Men - The most accomplished work of the Coens. Still behind The Big Lebowski in terms of all-time favorites, but a nearly perfect film. During Tommy Lee Jones' final monologue, all of the events of the film shifted in my head and all of a sudden, I was thinking about the existential dilemma. Whoa. Heavy.
Eastern Promises - It took me a long time to see it, but it was well worth the wait. A heavy, dark film that still holds that crunchy, organic Cronenberg feel. Plus, a super-hot bath house fight scene featuring a nude Viggo Mortensen.
Zodiac - This movie haunted me. I can still picture the close-up of the college student's face as the Zodiac killer forces her onto her stomach and then stabs her. More mature than all of Fincher's previous work. I really liked how the investigator's obsession became the focal point of the final third of the film.

Best Books
I didn't read any. I did listen to American Fascists, God is Not Great, The God Delusion, and No Country for Old Men. I started The Prestige (probably in 2006) and I've only got a couple pages left. Maybe I'll get around to it. What else . . . oh, I read the Buffy comic. God I suck.

And Best Music -
The best mix this year has to go to Sean Wolcott for his DJ Set 2. There are so many killer tracks on there and so many kitschy tracks on there. Everyone who came over to my house had to listen to Male Stripper and Ultimate Warlord.
I don't think I bought any albums, really, just tracks.

Man, an odd year indeed.


Its a city of strangers

I haven't seen Sweeny Todd, yet. I will, I promise, but I just can't succomb to both Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter when my ears are so very accustomed to Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury. I realize, of course, that one of the great things about Sondheim is that his music is meant for polyphony and generally can bend to the timbre of nearly anyone's voice. THe downside being that that voice must have range and the performer must have depth to bring out the contradictions in lyrics and motif. While I believe that Depp can achieve the innocence of Todd's revenge, I wonder if Bonham-Carter can find the purity of insanity required for Mrs. Lovett.

For a fellow blogger's take on the whole bloody thing, I direct you to ReelFanatic.

I think another reason I can't get around to seeing it (besides my lingering illness), is the new cast recording for Company. I love Company. It is, in my ears, one of the most satisfying scores ever written. And while I adore the original Broadway recording, especially the amazing Elaine Strich's "Ladies Who Lunch," the new Broadway cast recording featuring Raul Esparza and Barbara Walsh is grown-up and excellent. The flat out exuberance of the opening number is tempered by intentionally calling out some disonance. Bobby's friends no longer merely want him to "Stop by on [his] way home," there is a creepy neediness that has infected them that completely justifies his yelling, "Stop" before the show-stopping final number, "Being Alive."

So I was looking for a video clip somewhere online of "Another Hundred People," and I stumbled across this one with the amazingly talented Marcy Harriel. I saw Marcie play Mimi in Rent in 1997 (three times). She was great. This song is considered a signature song, and she capably adds her powerful, well-phrased voice to the list of only a few who can claim it as theirs.


P.S. I watch really crappy movies

That's right, I'm going to see P.S. I Love You sometime over the holidays. I will go with Risa, and even though every bone in my cynical body will most likely detest the film, I will also, most likely, cry. I mean, that's what films like that are supposed to do, right?
The story of a woman who continually gets letters from her dead husband--how could you not cry? Temper the maudlin with sitcom patter and pratfalls, and you're guaranteed to play misty for me. I mean, I still cry at Steel Magnolias.
My eye rolls and accompanying "gah" will probably irritate those around me, but I'm going anyway.

Oh yeah. And Gerard Butler and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are in it. And I guess Gerard does some silly striptease down to his boxers. So, really, what's not to like? Sure, I've seen him in a loincloth, but this should be the type of cringeworthy that makes for a nice wank once its released on video.



Dina dong merrily on high

Phil and I hit up the Dina Martina show this weekend at the Re-Bar. It was as spectacular as I had anticipated. To simply call Dina's show a drag show would do it a great disservice. Phil had never seen her before. Check out his reaction over here.

After the show, we talked briefly with Marcus/
Ursula Android. He indicated that Dina might be getting too big for this little town. That would be a real shame. We also talked about his final show at Pony (which bumped poor Terry).

And now the news that the
Showbox has been purchased by AEG Live out of Los Angeles and the Crocodile Cafe has closed its doors.

And, of course, the
Re-Bar is still for sale--Carla can't seem to dump that place.

Five years ago, I went out at least three nights a week. Now, going out one night puts a strain on my schedule. I'm more excited about my
foam matress topper than I am about Alex Smoke coming town.

I think I've fleetingly mentioned that next year will be very boring for me.

I'll take the time to elaborate.

Over the course of the next year, I am going to be on a very strict budget. I am not renewing my membership to the Henry or going to SIFF or the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. I will not go out to hear live music. I will not see a film in the theater. My diet will be as boring and monotonous as my days, but the silver lining/goal I've set to myself is saving nearly half of my gross income. It sounds ambitious, and I guess it is, but at this time next year, I want to be searching for my home, or at least well on my way to putting down 20% on a ridiculously priced Seattle area home.

Man, things do change.
Other things I'm looking forward to next year? M.A.N.D.Y.'s Fabric mix which is due out January 14th, and Scott Heim's newest novel We Disappear.

I've had Scott's first novel in the sidebar for sometime but I just realized that I don't have Scott's blog listed in my Linkage section. That will be rectified shortly.

If you're a reader, then please take the time to
pre-order Scott's book from Amazon now. His debut was wonderful, and his sophomore effort sounds equally as magnificent. Also take the time to swing by Scott's blog. You won't be disappointed.



A lazy Friday post . . .

Fischerspooner covered a song by Wire

who sang a song called Heartbeat

which is also the name of a song by Tahiti 80

who had one of their songs remixed by Swayzak who recorded a track with Kristy Hankshaw

who covered this song by Opus III

which is sampled in Orbital's Halcyon and On and On

which inevitably reminds me of Mindcircus by Way Out West

and I can't hear Mindcircus without thinking of Do It Now by Dubtribe Soundsystem.


Juno what your problem is?

This evening I'll be attending a screening of Juno. I also attended a screening on Tuesday. Now, don't get the wrong idea. I didn't love the film so much that I had to see it twice. The free screenings downtown filled up entirely too quick, so tonight I'll be seeing it with the bf and couple friends.
So here's my thoughts on the film. I guess my initial impression is that it is a very uneven film. The dialogue and the actions are working against the cloying direction (and especially art direction). The director, Jason Reitman, who so masterfully navigated Thank You For Smoking, gets really trapped in this film. The two times he uses cutaways to illustrate what a character is talking about is jarring and out of place. Early in the film, he uses a close up of the title character whispering into her boyfriend's ear. The shot isn't the best composition, but it works nicely with what the characters are saying. These extreme close ups recur throughout the film and each time they feel more claustrophobic and compositionally haphazard. He needs to learn to pull his camera away from his subjects and let them interact with their environments.
To claim that Ellen Page "owns her character" is equivalent to saying that a charcoal sketch has as much color as a pastel drawing. Juno is a sketch of a character with more interesting characters floating around her. There is talk of the delicate balance necessary of portraying a 16 year-old girl. At times she is childlike, and other times she seems like a grown woman. Wow, so she's just like a 16 year-old girl. The role itself, in my opinion, doesn't have enough meat on it to merit the kudos she has recieved. All it really has going for it is snappy, of-the-moment dialogue that will sound dated by the end of the year.
The supporting roles are much more interesting. Most notably, Jennifer Garner stood out for me. She has never been so nuanced and focused in a role. The scene in the mall where she talks to Juno's belly is at once sweet and heartbreaking. Her desire is palpable and the truly emotional impact of the film comes from her character. Also Jason Bateman is quite good. His reaction shots, which were perfected in Arrested Developement, garnered (ha!) more laughs than much of the dialogue. Allison Janney and JK Simmons also do great turns as the stepmother and father of Juno. They are the types of actors who are given sketches (to continue a theme) and flesh out real people from them. While they don't have the most screen time, they do quite well with what they are given. Olivia Thrilby also deserves some recognition as Juno's best friend, Leah. Instead of feeling like a sidekick, she feels like someone who has grown up knowing Juno's family and is an extension of that family. And finally, Michael Cera. As always, he plays the straight man to all the zaniness that is occuring around him; unfortunately, the costume designers have decided to zany him up as well so just looking at him becomes a joke. Its just one of the many travesties that the art directors made on the film (see also: a sign at a track meet that reads, "Go Manatees"). Cera however outshines the missteps and plays the yin to Page's yang quite comedically.
Now, onto my final critique. The music. Yes, the soundtrack kicks ass in that twee, too-precious-for-words kinda way. However, it couldn't be worse music for the film. The name of the film is Juno, and she tells us how much she loves the Ramones and the Stooges and Runaways, but instead of hearing her soundtrack, we get a Pitchfork sampler that spans all the way back to the late 90's. I like the music, but its just in the wrong film.
So, I liked the film. It kept me entertained, but its not nearly as good as I had hoped.


R.I.P. - Mel Cheren

My world wouldn't be the same if it weren't for people like Mel Cheren. His love for music, as translated through the music of West End Records, has moved me body, heart, and mind.
I recently got to see a documentary about Mel and his seminal label. He was a pioneer in many respects--he opened one of the preeminent discos of the disco era and he donated a residence so that Gay Men's Health Crisis could have headquarters.

If people can dance together, they can live together.

Thanks, Mel.


They should call it Parkin-FUN's disease

Increased gambling is seriously a side effect of Parkinson's medication called Mirapex.
And here I thought side effects were limited to watery bowels, blindness, and temporary paralysis. Turns out, they can include obsessive behaviors like shopping, eating and gambling.


This, that, the other

So this is kind of a catchall for stuff that I've needed/meant to relay to friends and stuff that I've meant to mention.


So, first of all, fellow Seattlites, the film
Juno will be screening at Pacific Place on December 11th. As with all screenings, I'd recommend showing up an hour or so early. Bring a book, a video game, whatever.
Would love to attend with some of you (lookin' your way
Andrew, Bill, Keith, and Risa).
I alerted Keith over at
ReelFanatic to the screening in Atlanta and he thoroughly enjoyed the film. You can read his review here.

Secondly, a couple of you have asked (and
Phil commented) about the So You Think You Can Dance live show. It was Risa's birthday, we went with her sisters and had an amazing time. The kids were so athletic and danced so well. There were only a couple new numbers, but that's ok. There was no hustle, either, but I guess Neil and Sara's disco routine made up for that. I screamed "Everett" and "Take your shirt off!" I spilled red wine all over myself, a good time was had, indeed. To get an idea of the show, below are collected clips. Run them simultaneously for the best effect.

Finally, Risa and I were talking about
Xanadu and how awesome it is. Here is a clip, via Tapeworthy of the lovely Kerry Butler and the radiant Cheyenne Jackson performing at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.