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Archive for the ‘Film & TV’ Category

[ATTENDED: March 29, 2022] Sparks

Sparks is, without question, a weird band.  I got into them back in 1997 when they released an album of re-recorded versions of their best songs and called it Plagiarism.  Since then they have released eight albums.  Before  that the had release sixteen albums dating all the way back to 1971.  And yet despite the occasional hit, they remained largely unknown in the States.  They are from the States even though many people assume they are from Europe.  Sparks are Russel Mael (vocals) and Ron Mael (everything else).

And they remained at a certain level of obscurity until 2021 when a documentary called The Sparks Brothers was released (and did very well) and when they created a musical movie called Annette which won the Cannes Soundtrack award.

The time seemed ripe to do a (limited) tour of the States.  Sparks last played toured American back in 2013, they played at Le Poisson Rouge in 2017, but that was just two shows in New York and two in California–not much of a tour.  Normally I hate going into New York and will only do it for special occasions. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 26, 2022] grandson

My son got me into grandson a couple of years ago.  I really like his debut album, death of an optimist.  I promised that if grandson toured, I’d grab tickets.  I bought the tickets for this show a while ago and had no idea that in the interim, grandson had become (in relative terms) really popular.

He wrote the theme song to Suicide Squad which had apparently upped his profile and, he was also opened for Imagine Dragons which is pretty massive exposure.  So good for him.

It also meant that this show was much more crowded than I thought it would be.  We arrived pretty earlier, but the merch line was crazy long.  By the time we got into the show it was pretty crowded, but I know Union Transfer, and I know where there’s a good spot to get you closer to the action. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 24, 2022] The Beths

The Beths are from New Zealand.

I really enjoyed hearing them talk between songs–super cool accents.

They only have two albums out but they have a pretty rabid fan base–if the guys who sang along loudly to everything were anything to go by.

The Beths were originally supposed to play King Fu Necktie in April 2020.  The show was moved to World Cafe Live, but was ultimately cancelled because of COVID.  They scheduled a new date at Underground Arts for January, but that got pushed back a month as COVID cases rose again.

And then, finally, they were here! (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 24, 2022] Lunar Vacation

The Beths were supposed to play shows in 2020 at World Cafe Live.  First in April, then in August.  Then that was all scrapped and then rescheduled for January 2022.  That was then pushed back until February.

Weakened Friends were slotted to open for them over these shows.  But the new show had Lunar Vacation signed up for them.

And they were delightful.

They are from Atlanta, and I had to laugh when singer Grace Repasky asked if anyone did the Wordle yet.  When we acknowledged that we had, she commented that it was a very British word (Bloke). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 6, 2022] MST3K Live

This was my fourth MST3K live experience and it was a hoot.  This was the first time that there was only one movie (in previous years they did two back to back–separate tickets).  This was also the first year that the host was a newbie.  Well, not totally new, Emily Marsh was on set for the previous show and as Emily Connor she will be co-hosting and maybe full-hosting the upcoming season.

Which is all well and good because I thought she was outstanding.  A bundle of energy, great comic timing and what a singing voice!

But the show started with the imposing presence of Yvonne Freese as Mega Synthia and sweet, one-eyed purple GPC!  She was outstanding last time and was even better this time as she was the center of attention for most of her on-stage time.  She was very funny and threw in some good improvs as the crowd reacted or didn’t.  She also has an amazing voice.

And of course, there are the bots–Conor McGiffin as Tom Servo and Nate Begle as Crow.  It’s amazing what a small crew they have for this tour (the props take up more room than the people).  There’s a mysterious fifth person on the tour as well.  She is “swing puppeteer” Kelsey Ann Brady who I gather is meant to fill in where and when she can.  Since the cast was all there, she was added as a kind of clone the Mega Synthia, which was pretty fun. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 15, 2021] The Prox Transmissions

I had recently seen Starset live and decided to check out lead singer Dustin Bates’ books (which I had gotten for my son for his birthday and I think he hasn’t read).

All of the CDs have a theme and the story of the Prox Transmissions is meant to tie into the album called Transmission.

My understanding was that the graphic novel was an adaptation of the novel.  I couldn’t find the novel in his room, but I did see the graphic novel, so I started with that (even though I’m sure it would have ben smarter to read the novel first).

The most impressive thing about this to me was that it was published by Marvel.  Not because I’m a Marvel fan boy but because I just assumed it was self published.  That being said, I think a thing or two was lost in the abridgement.

There are double crosses and possibly triple crosses and seemingly minor characters come to have major roles without a very satisfying explanation.  Basically it feels like a story that has has a lot removed (which it is).

The actual story line is pretty cool though. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 9, 2022] It Only Comes in Orange, Mr Zuma

This is the second collection of editorial cartoons from South Africa’s Daily Maverick newspaper.  Zapiro (Jonathan Shapiro) has been making editorial cartoons and caricatures since the early 1990s and has 25 books of cartoons published.  Turns out I have access to most of them so I may need to d a deep dive–maybe I’ll understand some of the politics more.

I really don’t know very much about the South Africa, and I feel like news about the country is not covered very much here.  I don’t understand all of the jokes in here, but I do feel like I have a vague grasp on the country now. However, it’s when Zapiro turns his pen abroad–especially against trump, that I can see how good of a satirist he is.  I posted this picture when talking about the previous book, but this cartoon appears in this one:

When he publishes the cartoons in the newspaper, they speak for themselves.  But in these collections, he adds a caption since most of the details are no longer fresh.  For the above he wrote:

Hell-bent on overturning the election result, trump supporters storm the Capitol building in Washington. The riot leaves five people dead.

How is it that there is any question about this still in our country.  Why is our justice system so slow?

Well, given the justice system in South Africa, our looks like a quick resolution. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: Right-wing lies about the Insurrection (2021).

[READ: November 2021] Small Blows Against Encroaching Totalitarianisms: Volume Two

Two years into the previous administration, McSweeney’s published two small books which railed against everything the Criminal in Chief stood for and had done.

Reading these books in 2021 after he had been soundly trounced in the election and with the possibility of jail time (for any of multitude of the illegal things that he did) is somewhat calming.   I think if I had read this in 2018 it would have been thoroughly dispiriting.  Because even though these essays provide hope, they are just full of recounting of the horrors that that [fill in the blank] and his crew of reprobates did.

It has been a year since the brainwashed masses tries to overthrow our government.  And still nothing has happened.  Our country is broken.  These essays don’t really fix it, but it’s nice to know you’re not alone in thinking this way. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: December 31, 2021] You Can’t Be Serious

S. and I were wrapping presents for Christmas this year and put on A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (which I thought was new and didn’t realize was ten years old).  I had said something about thinking Kal Penn was really cool and respecting his decision to work for the White House.

And lo and behold but there was this book in my Christmas pile.

Kal Penn, Jersey represent!, has led a fascinating life.  And he seems like a very cool (but not scoring you weed on the weekend kinda cool) guy.

Kal starts his book by saying that in kindergarten, the fastest, dumbest boy in his class called him the n-word.  He didn’t know what it meant, but he knew it was bad from the way the kids reacted.

A traumatic way to start a book and a school.  But things got better from there.  He recalls not paying much attention in school and also class trips to Old Sturbridge Village–that’s over three hours away!  His class went there–multiple times?  He loved the acting that went on there.

He talks about getting picked on for being a nerd.  But also about being grateful for living in a diverse New Jersey town–he went to a lot of mitzvahs.  His story of being on a boat for someone’s mitzvah is pretty funny.  And yet, he also talks about a hate group called Dotbusters based in Jersey City (I am so shocked to hear about this) who harassed assaulted and even killed Indian people.  His aunt lived there and his grandmother visited her there. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: December 20, 2021] Weird Accordion to Al [Vanity Edtion]

This book came to my work and I said, Hey I have this!  And then I said, but my cover is orange.  What gives?

And then I saw that Rabin, inspired by Al’s Ill-Advised Vanity tour expanded this book.  Or actually, since there is very little information about these books, perhaps he wrote them at the same time and released a shorter and longer version.  But why would he do that?

The first 366 pages are the same but, (and here’s the thing that messed with my head) they are not exactly the same.  Now, I didn’t read the same text in both books and compare them (that would be really insane). But I did flip through the book comparing paragraph and chapter breaks.  The text appears to be the same in both books.  BUT, the paragraphs are not!  For reasons that I don’t understand, in book 1 some pages end with paragraph F, but in book 2, with the same exact text, the page now ends with paragraph E.  Like the spacing of a period threw off all of the justification (Users of Word will know what I’m talking about).

So I’m assuming that both books are the same.

And then the new stuff was added to Book 2 (or taken out of Book 1, whatever).

Starting on page 368 we move on to Other Stuff. (more…)

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