PoMo Failure

I tried. I did try to enjoy Radiohead’s Kid A.

All I managed to generate was respect, but no general pleasure. This might be a bit surprising since I like some odd & difficult stuff (e.g. Neutral Milk Hotel), but I just couldn’t bring myself to like Kid A.

La la la

Is it just me or is the la la la in Frank Zappa’s “Jewish Princess” the same as Frank & Dr. Forrester’s la la la in the theme song to Mystery Science Theater 3000?

(Hey, I totally warned you about being a geek. No whining.)

Essential Work Equipment

In conversation with Chris last night about the guy at his new job who listens to music on speakers rather than headphones we determined that Chris and I have very different attitudes towards music at work. While we agree that you shouldn’t subject your co-workers to music without all their consent and endorsement of your choices, he would rather work in silence while I would rather be listening to my music of choice on my headphones.

In fact, after a few moments thought, I realized that I’d rather have music and no chair than vice versa. Truly. I’d use a standing workstation before I’d give up the sanctuary and motivation that my music provides me.

How about you? Do you use music at work? Do you share it with co-workers or each listen to your own? What about in other contexts?

Chris is loaning me his iPod and I must say it definitely made my commute this morning more pleasant. Lovely to listen to Oasis instead of that damned “Battle of the Sexes” morning radio show game (bloody sexist claptrap!) Hmm, and all this time with headphones on suggests the next questions: what kind of headphones do you like? I can’t wear those stupid ear buds (designed, like most headphones, for larger heads/ears than mine), so I’m using some Sony MDR-G52 back-of-the-neck kind on the commute because they’re small and what I had on hand, but what I really like are my Sony MDR-CD180‘s at work because they’re nicely padded & block out a lot of external noise. Any recommendations?

Spooky

My Launch station just played the Warren Zevon song “Play It All Night Long”, but somehow the vocal track wasn’t there. It’s not a bad mp3 on their side; I’ve rated the song before.

Given that Mr. Zevon recently died, I found it rather spooky for a moment.

Unfortunately for believers in ghosts & such, the whole creepy effect was blown by the next song having the same issue. Cool transmission error, though.

I’ve never seen anything like that before.

Last night I went to see The Billy Nayer Show at Cafe du Nord. Nice club, band I enjoy enough to keep me up late on a work night.

When I got there (early so as to get a table for me and my friends B.J. & Beverly), I noticed that there was an opening act called “That 1 Guy”. Hmm, okay. Never heard of him.

While we were sitting drinking our drinks and waiting for the show to start, we kept staring at this weird device made out of plumbing pipe. It was about 7 feet tall or so and had wires coming off it and strange lumpy bits. There was, in fact, nothing in the front line which resembled a normal instrument.

That 1 Guy came on and proceeded to blow the room away.

His is the first truly innovative act I’ve seen in a long time and I clearly wasn’t the only one impressed. When was the last time you saw a standing ovation for a random opening act?

He’s playing again tonight. Cafe du Nord on Market Street in San Francisco. 9pm.

You really, really don’t want to miss out on this guy.

(By the way, if you were or are a fan of that odd band The Fabulous Hedgehogs, it’s that guy, only unconstrained by having to convince other musicians to go along with his mad scientist ideas).

Listening to Stupid Music

I’m enjoying my Saturday. Doing a bit of cleaning up around the house, weeding through the 1000 messages in my inbox and rating music in my iTunes collection.

I decided to start at the beginning and see how many of the unrated songs I could get through today. The first artist alphabetically is “Weird Al” Yankovic (because of the quote marks, you see) which is convenient because Chris gets twitchy if I listen to too much Al in a row (never mind that he can watch 20 StrongBad emails in a row…) and he’s not here.

Well, the first album in the list is Al-a-palooza and I had totally forgotten about the song “Frank’s 2000 inch TV”. It’s a lovely REM satire and holds up very well after 10 years. The Stupid Band is quite a talented group. Quite a few other things are hitting the trash as I wouldn’t want them to come up in the middle of a random set of music, but that one stays in.

That led me to go look for a site that talks about more of Al’s original songs, the ones that aren’t new lyrics set to an existing song, and who he’s poking fun at in them. Naturally (I love the Web!) Google brought me to a good one right away: Alsongs.com.

Come on. I bet you like at least one Al song. Confess!

Making Wicked Broadway-ready

While I was volunteering at the America Festival again this year, I got to catch up with all those friends who do the same. "How was your year?" we say at the beginning and "See you next year!" at the end.

In this case. however, opportunity may arise to get together sooner, since Gary and Cody are big musicals buffs and will be coming up to San Francisco to see Urinetown and a couple other shows soon.

We, of course, talked about the new musical, Wicked. Though we agreed that the costumes, set design and performances were great and that the book (the story & dialogue) was some of the best in years, they were very disappointed in the show overall. They thought the music was just awful with a few exceptions ("Popular", "Wonderful", "The Wizard and I", "What Is This Feeling?[Loathing]") and predicted that if that shortcoming isn’t fixed before it opens on Broadway, it will be savaged by the New York critics, who are, as Gary said, cruel.

I wasn’t as bothered by the music as they were, but then I’m easily pleased and willing to let a bad song be over-shadowed by everything else I’m enjoying. Still, "Which Way’s The Party" is a real dog of a song and Glinda & Elphaba’s duet at the end ("For Good") fails to really show off those two fantastic performers, plus it has bizarre lyrics ("a seed dropped by a seabird"? What the fuck?).

After thinking about it a while, I think the best course of action would be to hand the show over to Tony-winner William Finn who wrote Falsettos and let him wash some of that dated, trite feel out of the music. If it sounded a little less 70s and there were some songs with the emotional force of "What More Can I Say" and "You Gotta Die Sometime" in there, it would be unstoppable.

[April 25, 2004: This post gets so many hits from people searching for more information about the show who fail to notice that it was written based on a pre-Broadway version of the show. Before you leap to the show’s defense, remember that I didn’t see the same show you did. They apparently made a lot of good changes, as the Broadway soundtrack illustrates.]

Wilkommen

Just got the original cast recording of the 1998 revival of Cabaret with Alan Cumming as the emcee and Natasha Richardson as Sally Bowles. Damn. I wish I’d seen it. Amazing stuff.

Cumming’s rendition of “I Don’t Care Much” is particularly powerful. Talented fellow. (Did I mention I just read his saucy novel Tommy’s Tale? Well, I did and he deserves to be spanked. If you can’t handle the first few pages, don’t bother, honey, it ain’t your kind of tale. Sweet dirty boy, he is, and bless him for it).