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Munchhausen By Proxy

Okay, so I love Zooey Deschanel.  Case in point:

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The short version is she has style, intelligence and is ridiculously cute.  So, she was in Yes Man with Jim Carey this winter.  I thought it was great fun.  Her “pretend” band Munchausen By Proxy has several songs in the movie I recently purchased on iTunes simply because they are hilarious.

The first is “Sweet Ballad” embedded below.

The second is “Uh-Huh” the lyrics of which are reproduced below:

I should have been the one to break up with you
You said, Who are you? Who are you?
I wanna snap your neck and spit on you.
You said, Who are you? Who are you?
If I got a call and said you were dead
You said, Who are you? Who are you?
I’d shrug my shoulders and I say what-ev
You said, Who are you? Who are you?

Hey have we met before? Oh yeah I think we have
Because we only dated for four and a half years
No big deal, I’ve only witnessed you sitting on the couch
Watching Next in your undies,
But its cool that you act like you have no idea who I am.

I saw you Amoeba records last night
You said, Who are you? Who are you?
You straighten your hair and had a henna tatto
You said, Who are you? Who are you?
I wanna shove your face just shove it.
You said, Who are you? Who are you?

My mother thinks youre in the closet
You said, Who are you? Who are you?
Its so weird because when we used to go out you never even liked the TJ wantons
And now we have to drive all the way to marvista or some stupid place and eat
Some stupid butter-nut squash raviolli or something because you took the last bag like some
immature little clown.

I saw you Thursday at the Arclight
You said, Who are you? Who are you?
I was on a date you ruined my night
You said, Who are you? Who are you?
I saw you shopping at the trader just
You said, Who are you? Who are you?
I see you everywhere it really blows.
You said, Who are you? Who are you?

Hey, did you ever meet my friend Ian?
He’s a coumputer hacker.
He helped me erase your Myspace page,
And your band’s Myspace page,
And your Facebook page.
Happy networking asshole.

So remember all the stuff you forgot
You said, Who are you? Who are you?
After you just bought.
You said, Who are you? Who are you?
I’d like to see the look on your greasy face.
You said, Who are you? Who are you?

It sold for sixteen hundy on eBay?
He said, I know you. I know you.
Uh-huh.

One of the reasons I like the movie is that it is very “LA.”  They openly mock the middle of the country (from which I am from, thank you very much), there are a number of prime LA locations in the film (such as SpaceLand, the Griffith Observatory and Downtown LA).  Obviously, a few others are mentioned (and linked) in the song above.

If you’re not from LA, you mght not really appreciate those lyrics, but if you’ve lived here a while, you get the picture that the singer (and her ex) is a bit of a hipster around LA.  TJ’s (Trader Joes), Amoeba Music and Arclight (perhaps the Arclight least) are demonstrative of a hipster lifestyle.  Anyway, its very nice color on the backdrop of Zooey’s character as you are meeting her, essentially, for the second time.  You learn alot about her if you are paying attention during the songs without exposition.  That is always nice in a film.

Anyway, I found the music funny and somewhat sound-nice-ish.  So, I thought I’d share.

Please, Give me a Second Grace

I am going to cross-link to this post primarily because it’s awesome and I want to be able to find it again later should the need arise.  I’ll do this in the guise of some commentary on commentary…  How appropriate to the web.

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I found the following commentary on music in The Royal Tenenbaums.  In a nutshell, it is awesome.  First, it generally accurately describes the complexity of the two main characters, Margot and Richie.  Second, the author clearly has a greater understanding of the plot and the relationship of the music to the plot than I ever put together in spite of the fact that I loved the music enough to borrow the soundtrack from my then-girlfriend for an entire summer.

Third, reading this article completely changed my understanding of the movie as a whole.  Before reading this, I always felt like the movie was about Royal.  However, after reading this, I realized this is not the case.  Of course Royal is a jerk, but he is also right about virtually everything he said.  He’s brutally, brutally honest, but almost always truthful (lacking in one significant instance, of course).  Though, his observations about the behavior of his family and children are, largely, dead-on.

I realized after reading this article that the movie is actually almost completely about Richie and Margot.  Their improper but inescapable affection for one another is the driving force in both of their lives.  It, essentially, destroyed their otherwise promising careers and life-trajectories.  Interestingly, a loss of love also virtually destroyed Chas.  A lack of love growing up also had a poor effect on their neighbor, Eli Cash.  Seemingly, every character is struggling with a missing love or an unattainable affection.

I won’t try and recreate the article here, but it is masterful.  I am all the more a fan of this movie having read this article and having re-watched the movie. You should do the same.

Papillon Parade

I just really liked this image after listening to Masterfade by Andrew Bird.

Papillion Parade

Gibson SG

So, I picked my guitar last night after probably over a year.  It was nice to realize that I still have very aspect of “Say it Ain’t So” and “Everlong” memorized.  I even took the time to learn a new song.  Oh, I’ve missed my guitar.

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Perhaps more interesting was my distant, nostalgia about “Everlong.”  I hope to be there someday about… honestly… so many things.  It gave me hope.  I am also reminded of “The Longest Winter” every other day or so and how I felt after Melissa broke me down and ended me emotionally for about a year or so.  I hopt that’s not where I am, though, here it is 7 months later and I’m still a mess.   Time will heal all things, I suppose.  Waiting on hope…

Andrew Bird

I attended the Andrew Bird show on Wednesday evening.  It was a really great time.  Their opener was a banimg_0911d called Lonely, Dear who was also awesome.  I’m not quite sure how to describe the opener.  They are from Sweden and used strange noises in harmony to great effect.  I couldn’t tell much about the lyrics, but they sounded very cool and original.  I am beginning to appreciate hip, original music all the more lately.  The classic four-man rock band seeming a bit overdone, if that makes sense.

The crowd was…excellent.  I saw more girls that I was attracted to in one location than I think I have ever seen.  Basically, they were hip without overdoing it and cute without trying types.  Curly hair, thoughtful eyes, many pairs of horn-rim glasses.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself in that context.  I sat next to this terribly cute couple.  They were probably five years older than me or so.  The woman was pregnant and the guy looked like a more athletic version of me…predictably, in five years.  Anyway, we chatted a good chunk of the time music wasn’t being played.  Seems her brother-in-law is considering becoming a patent attorney, so we chatted about that a bit.img_0914

The Orpheum Theatre was also impressive. The venue is, obviously, very old.  Though, the interior appears to have been completely redone in the last several years.  It was a small, acoustically-pleasing venue.  There are at least two bars, the original from the 30s or so and a newer bar upstairs that included a huge wall-projection of the stage along with suitable sound system so if you step out for a drink you don’t miss a minute of the show or music.  I look forward to the chance to return to the venue for other shows in the future!

Andrew was predictably amazing.  I always appreciate watching and listening to a musician who is good at his craft.  Andrew is that and creates interesting music as well.  Often, the “best” music is also the most predictable, boring or… overstated, shall we say.  He is an excellent lyricist, whistler and violinist.  It makes for an unusual (see above) combination.  He brings it all together so well.  He used a serious amount of looping his own whistling, violin and voice.  He also used a strange spinning speaker-system (seen in the picture below) to add a Doppler effect to much of the looped sound.  All this showmanship came off with appropriate humility and aplomb.  Anyway, it was one of the more fun shows for me in a while.

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Some Musicology?

I attended Opera at the Grand.

The Grand, by the way, is a super-cool theatre.  It’s obviously from the 30s and very art-deco, despite the fact that it is relatively small. It comes from a time when people cared about the appearance of such things beyond is it “clean” and is it “functional.”  I still need to take that Art Deco Los Angeles Tour one of these Saturdays.  If only it didn’t require me to go… downtown on a non-work-day.  Ugh.

Moving on. . . I went to see an old friend sing.  Well, she’d laugh at that.  I went to see a friend sing.  I’ve known her a long time, relatively speaking — almost 13 years.  For someone who’s 29, thats a goodly chunk of life.

Not a great picture I took there, eh?  She’s on the left being dramatic.  Oh well, she was phenominal — not that I’m any real judge of operatic talent.  Either way, I was impressed and the little I do know tells me that she was a more powerful singer than all of the other participants.  And, call me partial, but the mezzos tend to have richer voices than anyone but a seriously solid baritone.  Maybe it’s just the vocal range in that register of the throat (given one’s natural range as male or female).

Anyway, she sung the Flower Duet from Lakme by Leo Delibes.  I was blown away.  Sometime in 2001 or 2002 was the last time I heard that.  I used to own a CD called The Best Opera Album in the World . . . Ever! that included this and many other songs.  The CD was given to me by the friend who I went to see (and hear) sing.  Somewhere along the line we both lost that CD.  So, I went and found it again.  Spending a whopping $2.98 on a CD was rough, but I got it a few days ago.  Here it is:

To it’s credit, it is a pretty great opera album.  It’s sort of a “greatest hits” from all the big names plus a few no-names that have some excellent songs, like Leo Delibes.

Anyway, I was impressed with my friend.  She’s performing this weekend at the Metropolitan Opera’s Regional Auditions.  She talks it down (to keep herself from getting too nervous), but I know it’s a big deal for her to even be in it.  It’d be an even bigger deal if she makes it.

I hope she does well.  Somehow, make it or not, I know she will.

In other news, there was a small reception afterward.  It was nice to see her, but it was also depressing to me to see these small paintings in this gallery.  I sat and stared at a few for quite a while.  For personal reasons, several were quite depressing.  This one in particular:

Weezer – The how and why?

Weezer.  A band that for many people of approximately 25-31 conjures up images of middle school to high school listening to “Say it Ain’t So” while riding in a car to some destination of young fantastical (only in our minds) whimsy.  Similarly, the name Weezer conjures images of the greatness of the infamous second album, Pinkerton.  I’ve been developing a theory for the last few weeks as to why individuals of approximately my age enjoyed Pinkerton so much.  Please bear with me while I elucidate.

Weezer found a place in many of our hearts based on their first self-titled album.  The album caught us at the precise moment many of us were coming down from the Nirvana high of angst, anger and confusion.  The songs on that first album were all upbeat, all positive, all slightly-nauseating reminders of some false mental image of idealism that one has as a young person.  The most negative song on the album is “Say it Ain’t So” that describes his step-father’s drunkenness in such sweet tones that almost no one knows or remembers what it’s actually about.  It’s also hidden between songs about comimg “Undone” (whatever that means to a 16 year-old-kid), the Beach Boy’s Esque “Surf Wax America,” hanging out “In the Garage” with your friends and a “Holiday” on the beach somewhere they don’t speak English.  Any confusion caused by “Say it Aint’ So” is quickly forgotten after a healthy consideration (over and over and over) of the 38 minute album as a whole.  One is want to repeat albums many times when one is so young and impressionable.  Kids my age loved this album.  We ate it up.  It had panache.  It was catchy.  It had just enough substance to keep us listening for more than a few goes-round. I, personally, think that the Blue Album is probably one of the best albums of the 90’s.  Incidentally, I think Nirvana (who influenced Rivers Cuomo) and Foo Fighters created some of the other best albums of the ’90’s.

This first album, so goes my theory, is one of the main reasons why we all remember Pinkerton with such affection.  The Blue Album so had our attention that when River’s & Co. followed it up only 2 years later, we were ready to be filled with the joyous hook-pop we’d all been exposed to the first time around.  But, oh no, this time Rivers had a surprise for us–real emotion.  From the first song, “Tired of Sex,” the listener knows that this is no Blue Album.  Pinkerton is a dramatic shift in topic and emotion from bubble-gum rock to topics like: falling in love with a homosexual girl (“Pink Triangle), receiving a heartfelt letter from 4000 miles away (“Across the Sea“), hoping for love, instead of simply sex (“Tired of Sex“), dealing with an extended hospital stay (“The Good Life“), trying to figure out how to convince a friend to try a relationship with you (“El Scorcho“) and perhaps the most dramatic of Pucini’s operas, and in particular the abandonment of a lovely, caring woman (“Butterfly“).  This last song is, essentially, the title track of the album.

The amazing thing was that we were all unprepared or, perhaps, perfectly prepared to be introduced to these complex emotions.  Ordinarily, the album would not have caught our collective attention.  In fact, I think had we heard most of these songs on the radio, we’d have quickly turned the dial.  There was a reason that “El Scorcho” was the only single on the album.  However, it was Weezer.  This was the band we knew and loved so well from just two summers earlier.  The entire Weezer fan base collectively inserted those CD’s into their CD players and took the time necessary to listen to these complex, messy, thoughtful songs precisely because they had so loved the simple, happy, thoughtless songs two years before.  Those of us who stuck with the album for a bit realized that Rivers was a thoughtful guy, that these songs were so much better than the first album… in quite a different and previously-inexperienced way and that in the end, we would all like this album so much more than the first.  I think, years later, that we’re all listening to people so heavily influenced by Pinkerton that it’s amazing.  Bands like Jimmy Eat World and Death Cab for Cutie are precise follow-ups to both albums.  In some ways, they’re vast improvements.  How unfortunate.

The sad path of Weezer post-Pinkerton is well-known.  They’ve failed to really find a main-stream audience in almost 10 years.  My thought on this is that River’s response to the critical acclaim and lack of public approval of Pinkerton was to, first, disappear for five years.  Once Weezer finally put out a third album it was rushed and an attempt to run back to the happy innocence of the Blue Album.  We who had persisted in our love of Weezer weren’t fooled.  Next, River’s attempted some more introspection, but it still seemed cold and contrived.  To my ears, Make Believe was the closest they’ve come to Pinkerton-esque work (only on a few songs) and perhaps more importantly, the best they’ve been since Pinkerton.  Finally, the Red Album has some good things, but really falls short on multiple levels, notably allowing Brian Bell to sing.  While I think the band is, obviously, his as well it just doesn’t work for me.  The best songs on the album are the “bonus tracks” that apparently you only receive if you order the album online.  The thing these albums have in common is an inability to either find the original poppiness of the Blue Album or the heartfelt complexity expressed so eloquently in Pinkerton.  They all seem to find some middle ground, which is to say, no ground.

I have tickets to go see them, yet again.  All I hope for is for them to play all the songs from thost first two albums and “Peace” from Make Believe.  I’m sure they’ll throw in some stuff from the Red Album, I just hope its the two or three “bonus tracks” or “Heart Songs.”

AOL Radio & Pandora on iPhone

Pandora

I just love AOL iPhone Radio and Pandora iPhone, Pandora is on the left, here.  They are both apps for listening to music on your iPhone.  I love my iPhone, as anyone who knows me will attest.  Recently, as a sort of birthday present to myself, I was considering getting satellite radio, mostly for the 80’s station(s) I could then pull in my car.

However!  With the addition of the AOL iPhone Radio, I can pull down free, streaming AOL radio from a 3G iPhone (I don’t have a 3G yet, but I’m now planning on it).  So, with a little $18 dongle thingie (I got a new non-fm-modulator, those things are all worthless in LA) I can pull in internet stations for whatever type of music/talk I’m into at the moment and all for “free.”  I, of course, use the term “free” loosely in that I have to pay some form of mobile bill, it might as well afford me other luxuries as well as allowing me to communicate remotely with, primarily at this point, my mother.

Pandora is a little more nuanced.  Basically, you put in the names of artists, songs, or composers you enjoy and Pandora plays those artists and then suggests other artists and songs and what not that you might like using something called the Music Genome Project.  This is not unlike Last.fm.  With this app, you can find new music, but you can’t really pick a genre like “the ’80’s” which is really what I wanted most of all.  So, its cool, but not as cool as just listening to random songs you know were vetted at one point by the brilliant public of the ’80s.

So, I’m excited.  It should be sweet, once I get my 3G iPhone tucked away somewhere.  In the meantime, I can use the radio on my wifi at work and at home (I’ll watch TV at home, silly).  Woo!  I’m nerd-excited, can you tell?

Imogen Heap

So I’ve been listening to Imogen Heap these days.  I really forget in this world of throwaway pop, how much I simply enjoy great, poetic, picture-painting lyrics. For example:

Oily marks appear on walls where pleasure moments hung before.
They take over the sweeping insensitivity of this still life.
–Hide and Seek, Imogen Heap

Its hard to describe everything those lines evoke for me, but the imagery in my mind is clear and moving.  Anyway, the album is old, so I’m hardly hip.  The album is electronic-esque, yet also very melodic and vocal.  If you care, its available at Amazon.

Imogen Heap

Weezer – Make Believe – Peace

All these problems on my mind
Make it hard for me to think
There is no way I can stop
My poor brain is gonna’ pop
And I don’t have a purpose
Scattered on the surface
I need to find some peace

And all the broken tethers
We can bring together
I need to find some peace

I need to find some peace
I need to find some peace