Wednesday, February 23, 2005

E-Pression: Jerry Seinfeld, Age 5

(While reading, imagine Jerry Seinfeld at the age of 5 and read to yourself – or out loud – in his voice.)

Ya know, I was watching that show Sesame Street the other day. Have you seen this show? What is the deal with Snuffleupagus? There’s nothing imaginary about the guy! I see him, YOU see him, WE ALL SEE HIM! All of us, that is, except for Mr. Hooper. (Clench teeth and fist – mutter) Hooper! How is it that Mr. Hooper manages to lose his glasses EVEry SINgle TIME Snuffy is around? And how blind is this guy? I mean, there’s a huge brown thing standing in front of you – it’s not a house, it’s not a car, it’s not Oprah – what else could it be? And Big Bird is no help. You get Snuffy and Hooper in the same place at the same time and Big Bird starts stuttering like Mel Tillis after a pot of coffee!

Big Bird. What kind of name is that anyway? Big Bird. What, do they think we’re stupid?

(Turn to left to have conversation with self.)
“Hey, I’ve got an idea for a character!”
(Turn right.)
“Great! What is it?”
(Turn left.)
“It’s a big bird.”
(Turn right.)
“Fantastic! What should we call him?”
(Turn left.)
“…How about Big Bird?”
(Turn right.)
“…I think you’re on to something!”

In fact, I think I’ve figured out how they name all of the Muppets on the show so us stupid little kids don’t get confused. You’ve got your “human” Muppets, who all wear clothes and have one-word names. For instance, Bert and Ernie. Then you have your animal and monster Muppets, who never wear clothes and have a name that explains what exactly they are. Big Bird is a big bird. Kermit the Frog is a frog! Cookie Monster is a monster that eats… COOKIES! Oscar the Grouch – the guy lives in a trashcan in the ghetto – OF COURSE HE’S GROUCHY! Ya know if YOU had to live in a trashcan, you’d be a little grouchy yourself. So based on this principle, can someone explain Grover to me? One name, yet no clothes…Does that make him the naked, blue, stoned hippie that wanders around the neighborhood, hangin’ out on the stairs to the apartment building, talkin’ to the kids? If there was a naked blue hippie hangin’ out in front of my house, I’m pretty sure my mommy wouldn’t let me go outside.

Didja ever notice that sometimes, when Ernie is taking a bath, Bert is in the room with him? …Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

And what’s with the Count? Why is he always laughing when he finishes counting something? Great – 5 street lamps – not funny. You want something funny, why don’t you go to Bob’s house and count the dead hookers buried in the back yard – now THAT’S funny! …Maybe more in the ironic sense of the term…

The show I was watching the other day was brought to you by the letter “C”. Hmmm… (Wrinkle nose) Nyah, it didn’t do anything for me. Give me something I can use – something with a little more meat to it…perhaps the letter “S”? I know, “C” is for “cookie”, which may be good enough for SOME people. But add the letter “S”. Suddenly “cookIE” becomes “cookIES!” …Now we’re getting somewhere!

posted by Pat Angello, 4:50 PM | link | 3 comments

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Would you like yourself?

OK, so I have the chance to have weird thoughts. Big deal. I'm on public transportation for about 2 hours a day this is how I entertain myself. Anyway, in my last post I was thinking about the choices in life and how they led to where I am right now and how a minor change early on could lead to major changes down the line. So, I got to thinking about the whole "multiverse" idea. The theory is basically that we live in an infinite number of universes, each one representing the different choices and resulting consequences. Whenever we make a choice or a decision there is a split, one branch based on the choice we make and another based on the choice we do not make. Those two branches go on and when another choice comes up for each of those two strings the process repeats itself. And so on and so on.

This process would result in an arguably different Matt Soden. Let's pretend there is the Matt Soden that chose instead to go to Hamilton instead of St. Lawrence. What would that Matt Soden be like? His experiences would be different and therefore I propose his personality would be different. Obviously he would have different friends and probably a different job. I suspect he would be a completely different person.

Now, let's pretend I could meet that other Matt Soden. Would I like him? Would he like me?

posted by MGSoden, 9:42 PM | link | 4 comments

Monday, February 14, 2005

This is Logan at his sleepiest and his cutest. Awww!

posted by Bill Purdy, 2:22 PM | link | 0 comments

Logan and Mom Posted by Hello

posted by purdygirl, 8:24 AM | link | 2 comments

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Connections and Relationships

For some reason recently I've been reflecting on my life. Perhaps it has to do with my kids. Anyway, I look at them and think about how lucky I am and then begin to think of all the things in my life that had to happen/come together for them to be alive. I kind of traced it all the way back to the college I chose.

From going to SLU there were a series of decisions, personal and career-based that eventually brought me back to Syracuse where I met Jeannine. And obviously, without her Sebastian and Isabelle would never have been born. Kind of funny to think of them as the end result of a long string of unintended consequences. Obviously they are more than that to me but I think about the fact that if I did one thing differently, one different decision, and they wouldn't be alive and part of my life. Come to think of it, I wonder who my friends would be, what my life would be like, what sort of a person I would be had I gone to a different college.

I've got to say, I am pretty much satisfied with how things have turned out. Sure, there are struggles. I wish I could afford to buy a new car. Or get my kitchen remodled. But these are simply things. Objects. The important stuff like the people in my life. My family. My friends. My wife and kids. My health. This is all pretty good. (Granted, I could stand to lose a few pounds, but in general, I've got it good.)

I'm not sure the point of this. I guess there really doesn't have to be one really.

posted by MGSoden, 9:27 PM | link | 1 comments

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Arcade Fire, Cat's Cradle, 1/28

I had three tickets to a sold out show, and two of them went unused. Yes, that’s right: I’m totally lame.

I drove to Carrboro last Friday night, hoping to arrive at the Cradle around 8:30, just as the doors opened. The lesson I learned Friday night is that parking spaces in Carrboro are surprisingly scarce on Friday nights. I need to keep that in mind tonight when I drive up there to see Kristen Hersh with Cross and Craig.

I finally got squared away in a bank parking lot about a quarter mile from the venue. It was a cold and breezy night, so the warmth of the club was a welcome relief. I set up camp in a nook between one of the speakers and the stage, on the left hand side. I stayed in exactly that spot for the next three and a half hours.

The crowd seemed young to me. Maybe that’s just because I’m old. Two gayish-looking (more importantly, gayish-acting) black kids stood next to me, acting (and looking) gayish. One of them was a hulking sort of thing, with at least six inches on me in both height and girth. The other one was meekly bespectacled and multiply-pierced, wearing a Pixies t-shirt, jeans, and a white leather belt. He thought it was cool to try to talk to the performers, and every time they acknowledged his outbursts, he’d feign fainting. It was so gay. And he kept it up all night.

The opening act, Final Fantasy, was certainly… different. Around 9:40, a tall, skinny blond kid with a pronounced limp walked out on the stage. He had a cane and a stool in one hand, a violin in the other. He set the stool down and took of his shoes – one red Converse high top, one white. Then he introduced himself: “Hi. My name is Owen, and I am from Toronto. I have a band called Final Fantasy. I’d like to play a few songs for you.” He then began plucking a melody on the violin, which – and here was the trick – another guy looming high over the stage in the “control room” with a laptop sequencer looped. So, the basic melody now looping, Owen played another melody, this time with a bow. That melody would be looped, too, creating a more and more complex piece, over which Owen would sing in an odd little falsetto. Sometimes he’d beat the violin, which would create a percussion track, and on at least one occasion, he screamed into his violin. It reminded me a little of some of the tracks on Notwist’s Neon Golden, but the overall sound was much different. If I were Pitchfork, I’d feel compelled to label it: "emo classi-folk… core."

It was an impressive little half hour set, and the assembled crowd took to him nicely. Owen left the stage at 10:15 to an appreciative roar.

Owen came back out on the stage at 10:40, as one of two violinists who play with the Arcade Fire. A quick look at Funeral’s liner notes tells me Owen played on the record, too. It sure does pay to network. I bet that kid sold 200 copies of his $15 CD that night. Not bad for one gig.

I’ll tell you this about The Arcade Fire: they sure do enjoy what they do for a living. Considering they played every song from Funeral, and every one of the songs on that CD has a strong undercurrent of melancholy running through it, they band was remarkably smiley. Part of it is the pure theatricality of what they do: they incorporate a great deal of performance art into what would otherwise be a straightforward rock’n’roll show. And they have a blast doing it. They seem to really be enjoying themselves, and each other, even as this potentially oppressive wall of indie success crumbles down around them.

It’s hard to label the core members of the band by what instrument they play (drummer, keyboardist, guitarist, singer, etc.), as they routinely switch instruments from song to song. The main drum kit was manned by both the girl (who also sings lead, plays keyboards AND xylophone) and a Jerry Harrison look-alike. The tall, geeky-looking redhead (“Richard,” as he pointed out to the bespectacled black kid when asked “everyone calls you Napoleon, what’s your REAL name?”) played keyboards, xylophone, upright bass, and impromptu percussion (we’ll get to that in a bit). The blonde guy who looks like Crispin Glover played three or four guitars, and the tall guy who looks a bit like a depressed Matthew Sweet plays several types of guitar and sings lead. All of them sing along to nearly every song.

Three songs stood out: Neighborhood #2 (Laika) has become their signature live track, and they performed it on Conan recently. While performing it, Richard dons a motorcycle helmet and begins beating anything he can beat (including his head, the drum kit, a plastic nativity cow, monitor speakers, walls, girders, etc.) while bouncing furiously around the stage. During this performance, he inadvertently stepped in the gap between the stage and the speaker in front of which I stood. He fell, on top of me, and I (and several others) had to help him back up on the stage. He never stopped hitting things the whole time, which made the whole experience seem kinda dangerous. Bits of drumstick splintered off and flew into my face, and a beaten, torn, and warped high hat (you can see it in the Conan clip) flew off its stand and bopped a kid next to me on the head (he was kind enough to return it to its post).

Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) has earned the most radio play to date, and the crowd knew it. They sang along to every word, turning the song into a call & response exercise usually reserved for bands whose songs were released years ago... not months.

The Arcade Fire close their set with In The Backseat, which is sung by Regine (the girl, who is married to the singer guy, and who is a fine looking lady). She had some problems with her earplug filters (she kept touching her ears), and she missed her pitch a bit, but she injected a sense of drama into the performance that wound up looking like a genuine display of emotion. It was the only time during the evening that the sadness of the band’s music was really brought to the forefront. The song ended on an extended beat at 12:01 am, with each band member grabbing a percussion instrument, jumping off the front of the stage one at a time, and slowly walking through the parting crowd into the back of the venue. It was a fitting end to a truly impressive live performance.

(And to think, you could have had one of my two extra tickets!)

posted by Bill Purdy, 10:48 AM | link | 0 comments

In Good Company

I know this film has been out for a while, but we just got around to seeing it and I thought I’d throw together a quick look at it.

Dennis Quaid plays Dan Foreman, a middle-aged ad executive for a popular sports magazine. When a large company named GlobeCom gobbles the magazine up, suddenly Dan’s new boss is a twenty-something go-getter named Carter Duryea (Topher Grace) promoted from within GlobeCom. Carter’s goal is to increase ad pages, and he suddenly realizes this can be done through cross advertising with other GlobeCom sister companies. Wow, he’s a genius! However, things don’t go the way Carter anticipated and he begins laying people off. Ah, the new corporate America – ya gotta love it!

Carter’s wife leaves him (for some reason that was never really explained) and he ends up lonely and inviting himself over to Dan’s for dinner. Enter, Alex (Scarlett Johansson), Dan’s 18-year-old daughter who is on her way to NYU. Well, as you can imagine, sparks are flyin! Carter and Alex start seeing each other, much to Dan’s chagrin. How will it end? Will Alex and Carter stay together? And what about the magazine? Will there continue to be layoffs? Dan gives the CEO of GlobeCom a piece of his mind, leading to a somewhat surprising switch-a-roo! And I’m done telling you anything else!

OK, I liked it. I didn’t love it, but I liked it. Topher Grace is a solid, easy-to-like guy. His character is similar in personality to Eric on That 70’s Show, which isn’t a bad thing. He seems to be cold and calculating at first, like most young guns at large companies, but he does have a heart and Grace plays the part well. You feel his pain when his wife leaves him, and he has to fire people when things start going downhill at the magazine. No matter how excited he was to move up at the beginning of the film, you really like him and start to feel sorry for him.

Quaid is excellent, fighting with his emotions of letting his daughter go off to live in the city alone and him not being able to protect her anymore. You can really feel the bond they have. But Johansson was not great. She sounds like she’s auditioning for the next Wes Anderson film, showing no emotion really and sounding like she’s got a bad head cold throughout the entire film. In fact, my wife did a great impression of Johansson all of last week, but not by choice unfortunately. I felt like Scarlett kinda mailed this one in. And there wasn’t nearly enough of Marg Helgenberger (Dan’s wife, Ann) for me! I really like her on CSI, and she was just along for the ride in this film.

I’d have to say 3.8 out of 5 – I guess I expected just a tad more from it.

posted by Pat Angello, 6:54 AM | link | 0 comments