Archive for the ‘Gilmore Girls’ Category

[ATTENDED: February 8, 2020] The Exile Follies

There are some musicians who I’ve often thought I’d like to see but who I wouldn’t really want to travel too far too see.  This trio of artists are each musicians that I loved back in the 90s but whom I’ve lost touch with since then.

I used to love Throwing Muses and I have her first two solo albums.  I often thought about going to her live, but I wasn’t sure if it was worth it if I didn’t know her new stuff.

Same with Grant Lee Phillips.  His song “Mockingbird” is one of my favorite songs of all time, but I don’t love all of his material, so I wouldn’t want to have gone for a whole show, I didn’t think.

And John Doe.  X is one of favorite bands from back in the day and seeing them live was amazing.  But I was never sure if I’d want to see just him because I don’t know much of his solo work.

So this tour with all three of them (and in a nearby venue) was perfect.

Kristin came out first.  She sat on a stool center stage and played her acoustic guitar. (more…)

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talkingSOUNDTRACK: HOSPITALITY-Tiny Desk Concert #212 (April 30, 2012).

hospitalHospitality are a four piece band from New York.  They play fairly quiet, kind of delicate music.  Most of the songs have a delicately picked out guitar line on the electric guitar and strummed chords on the acoustic.  Amber Papini is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist.

“Sleepover” the first song, starts out even more quietly, with Papini picking out notes on the acoustic guitar while singing in what is practically a whisper.   There’s an interesting part in the middle where both guitars are picking out melodies and its the bass that is playing the most prominent line of the melody.

“The Birthday” picks things up a bit with a relatively more intense song.  The chords are louder and Papini sings more intensely.  This song ends with a whole series of “la da de das.”  Some songs can’t pull that off, but it works perfectly with this one–especially when the bassist adds harmony vocals–it’s super catchy.

“Betty Wang” opens with just the acoustic guitar and drums as Papini sings.  She won me over immediately with the echoed and rising notes of “so shy so shy so shy.”  With the electric guitar bursts and rather loud drumming this song is practically raucous.

The band is quite but their melodies are really catchy.

[READ: December 28, 2016] Talking as Fast as I Can

I was so excited that they were making a continuation of Gilmore Girls.  And while it was no doubt hard to live up to all the expectations of all of the fans, I thought the new series was great.  It captured the old show very nicely even though everyone had moved on ten years.

I wasn’t expecting a new book from Graham, and certainly not a memoir.  But, with some down time, she was able to push this book out as well as doing everything else she’s been doing lately.

For a memoir, this book is a little skimpy (208 pages), and yet, if that’s all she had to say I’m glad it wasn’t padded out with a ton of fluff.  Plus, Graham doesn’t tell us everything about everything.  She talks about her childhood, about acting, about being single and about Parenthood and Gilmore Girls.  It’s all done in what has become Graham’s trademark style (although since we are reading it and not hearing her, the pace is probably much slower). (more…)

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cacnelAs yet another TV season sort of winds down, and a few more shows get cancelled, I decided to compile a list of shows that I miss. This isn’t going to be one of those lists of the best shows that shouldn’t have been cancelled or killed off too early or some other kind of list (I agree with just about everything on these lists).  So, I’m not including Arrested Development or Freaks and Geeks (which I don’t really miss because I didn’t watch it when it came out so I knew what I was getting when I watched the DVDs, plus every actor from the series is seen in something or other all the time) or even Veronica Mars (now that the movie has come out, all is well).

Of course, there are shows that I miss because they were great, but many had a sense of closure, which is nice. Or shows that were great and then weren’t great anymore so I stopped watching, which is less nice but which doesn’t leave me pining for them. Rather these are shows that were cut down unexpectedly (or expectedly) and didn’t give closure (or generate enough momentum for closure).  In fact, shows that weren’t brilliant and probably deserved to be cancelled soon, but were cancelled a little too early so I have no closure. Or, worse yet, shows that could have improved over the next season or two and become really solid shows.  And so from time to time I wonder what the characters are up to (which isn’t as sad as it sounds).

I’m starting with the most recent cancellation because it is freshest: (more…)

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CV1_TNY_09_16_13Tomine.inddSOUNDTRACK: SAM PHILLIPS-Tiny Desk Concert #3 (June 25, 2008). 

Isamt took a month and a half to get the second Tiny Desk player in, but it took only 20 days to get Sam Phillips to come in after Vic Chesnutt.  Sam Phillips plays four songs (in what is sauna-like conditions apparently) all from her then new album Don’t Do Anything.

Phillips has had a couple of incarnations as a performer (first as “Leslie Phillips” Christian singer).  This incarnation sees her as a kind of folky troubadour with dramatic flair.  She played a lot of the music on the Gilmore Girls (she does the la las), so of course I’m a fan.

Sam is a funny performer, introducing herself (and then asking is she is allowed to talk) and later playing Bob Boilen’s cow in the can (and even questioning the way to say This is NPR).  She is accompanied by Erik Gorfain, who plays a Stroh violin which you can sort of see in this picture (there’s a better one below) and which Phillips suggests is plenty loud enough thank you.

Her first song, “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us” opens with big strumming guitars and a bouncy melody.  It’s a great song that is a lot of fun–that violin brings great counterpoint.  “No Explanations” is a bit more rocking (with Gorfain on electric guitar).  It has a catchy chorus.  “Signal” returns to that kind of bouncy tin pan alley style which she does very well.  “Little Plastic Life” ends the set with… a screw up, which she handles wonderfully, and which makes the song seem all the better when she plays it again.

I really enjoyed this Tiny Desk and am going to have to listen to more of her work.

Check out what a Stroh violin looks like:


[READ: September 25, 2013] “By Fire”

Here’s another story about unemployment.  I had intended to post this back in September, so when I originally typed that this story is more dramatic than “yesterday’s,” I meant Lisa Moore’s story from September which was also about unemployment.

I wasn’t sure where this story took place (it was originally written in French).  The story is about Mohammed.  He graduated from University a few years ago with a degree in history.  It has been useless thus far.  When his father dies, and he is once again incapable of getting a teaching job, he gives up and burns all of his paperwork.

Then he sets out with his father’s fruit cart, determined to make some money selling fruit so he can move out of his house and in with his girlfriend.

There is ample back story in this piece.  We learn about Mohammed’s family—his mother has crippling diabetes, his brothers work but not very hard (one is downright lazy).  And we learn that the person who Mohammed’s father bought his fruit from was a crook who demands more and more money from Mohammed.

But the bulk of the story shows the daily life of Mohammed.  He is routinely harassed by the police for not having the proper paperwork or for being in the wrong place or just for being.  They start with simple harassment, but soon they turn to beatings.  Mohammed refuses to bribe anyone, even when the police give him the opportunity to turn in his former students. (more…)

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laurenSOUNDTRACK: PIXIES-“Bagboy” (2013).

pixies-bagboyThe first Pixies song in nine years…doesn’t feature Kim Deal on it.  Which is kind of a shame.  She was with them for a lot of the recent tours, but she went back to the Breeders recently.  I assume that everyone else from the lineup is still in the band.

But the real question is what does the song sound like?  Well, to me it doesn’t sound like the Pixies.  It sounds very much like a 90s song, but by… some other bands of the time.  Even Frank Black’s (or is it Black Francis’) voice sounds different—less brittle (despite the brittleness of what he is saying).

The song begins with keyboards and a kind of dance (electronic) drum sound.  I actually thought I clicked the wrong link when it started.  There’s chanted backing vocals while Black is singing/talking.  It all sounds very familiar but not like the Pixies.  Even the guitars sound different–less bright with a bit more flash in the solos.

The part that does sound like the Pixies is the chorus which has soaring guitars and a female singer (unknown to me at this point but she sounds a lot like Deal) singing “bagboy” while Black shouts the same.  The chorus is a comforting reminder of the Pixies’ sound.

I understand that in nine years (and countless Frank Black albums) the Pixies are going to sound different.  And while the tone is definitely Pixies, something is missing from the track, which I hope the rest of the album (should there be one) replaces.

[READ: June 28, 2013] Someday, Someday Maybe

I’ve been a fan of Lauren Graham the actress since I had a major (age appropriate) crush on her during The Gilmore Girls.  I haven’t seen everything she’s been in, but I also enjoy Parenthood quite a bit and initially tuned in because of her.  And now she’s written a book.

This book is pretty far from my usual thing (and in an interview on Huffington Post she says she doesn’t think many men will read the book).  I gather they won’t but I’m glad I did.

Set in 19995, Graham creates a wonderfully flawed character in Franny, a struggling actress who has moved to New York City and has given herself three years to become successful.  At the end of the three years, if she hasn’t made it, she’ll move back to Chicago to be with her long-term boyfriend, Clark.

She lives in Brooklyn with her best friend who is also in the business but as a production assistant (it’s nice to have them not be fighting for the same jobs).  They recently added a new roommate Dan, a writer who seems oblivious to the women (he is so focused on his screenplay that he doesn’t even seem to notice them watching TV).  It seemed apparent from the get go that there was going to be a romantic interest there.  And there was.

But first we get to see Franny’s trials and tribulations starting two and a half months until her deadline.  She’s still taking acting classes, and while she hasn’t gotten offered anything yet, she seems to be well-regarded in class.  And, she has the big showcase coming up—the performance when agents come to watch them do their thing.

And then, hurrah! (more…)

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[WATCHED: 2012-2013] Bunheads

bunheadsIt’s no secret that Gilmore Girls was one of my favorite shows.  It was well-written and funny, often sweet but sometimes not and with a liberal dose of quirk.  The show was Amy Sherman-Palladino’s baby and over the seven years it developed an awesome cast and was easily one of the most consistently enjoyable shows on TV.

But all good things must come to an end–and as in the case of Gilmore, often times it must come to an end before its natural arc has finished.  This led to a rather forced and frankly unsatisfying conclusion to the show.

But ASP is back on TV on, of all places, ABC Family (which has some astonishingly mature shows for a “family” network).  Her new show (which began last year) is called Bunheads.  It’s a terrible name for a TV show.  Even if it is an actual slang term used for ballet dancers (which the show features), it’s still a terrible, unappealing name.  There’s also the opening credits–also terrible.  The Gilmore credits were fun–a new version of Carole King’s “If You Lead” playing behind scenes from the show.  The Bunheads opening is a black and white scene of ballet dancers (again, it’s what the show is about, but blah), with a color ribbon swirling around them until it lands on Sutton Foster, the lead actress, who explodes in a frame of color looking a little stunned.

Neither of these two things (title and credit sequence) should impact your decision to watch the show, which is delightful–heartfelt, funny and with a healthy dose of quirk.  And like Gilmore, the show is very women-centric, rather a rarity on TV.  I feel it’s very subtly done as well–in this case, the show is about ballet dancers who are predominantly girls, so it makes sense.  And since ASP writes mother-daughter situations very well, it’s also a natural fit.

So yes, the show feels a lot like Gilmore Girls.  The amazing Kelly Bishop is back as the matriarch (she’s much the same character although she is a bit more fun in Bunheads).  Sutton Foster plays her daughter in law.  Foster looks so much lie Lauren Graham that she may as well be her. What’s cool here and what makes it not just Gilmore redux is that the dynamic is not mother-daughter-daughter, it’s widowed mother-in-law–daughter-in-law–four teenagers so while the roles are almost the same, ASP is not simply rewriting what has happened before.  As for the young characters, we have four teenagers–the bunheads.  From the get go they formed a believable foursome–sometimes annoying, and over the top, but never unreal. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GRANT LEE PHILLIPS-Live on KEXP, January 21, 2010 (2010).

I really liked Grant Lee Buffalo back in the day.  I think Grant Lee Philip’s voice is amazing–soulful, expressive, beautiful.  He was also a troubadour on Gilmore Girls!

Since Buffalo broke up, Phillips has released a few solo albums.  I have found that I don’t enjoy his solo music as much as I did the band music.  His voice is still amazing, but the solo stuff is a little too slow and meandering for me.

This set comprises four songs from his album Little Moon.  “Strangest Thing” is my favorite song from the set, it’s upbeat and beautiful.  And “Little Moon” is correctly described by the DJ as moody an intoxicating.  It’s not my favorite of his songs but the description is totally correct.

This is an enjoyable mellow set.  The DJ and Grant Lee are relaxed and comfortable and the between song chats are informative and interesting.  You can listen here.

[READ: October 30, 2012] Rapunzel’s Revenge

This story is a wonderful extrapolation of the Rapunzel story which has been moved to the Wild West.  Yup, that’s right.  Rapunzel is a cowgirl.

Well, in the beginning, the story is pretty faithful to the original.  Many elements of the fairy tale are present–Rapunzel was kidnapped from her parents (or traded for some lettuce) and raised by the enchanted witch.  This story fleshes out the politics of the witch somewhat–she has cursed the surrounding lands and made them barren–all of the fertile ground is within her walls and the peasants must pay tribute to her from their meager earnings.  And Rapunzel is a rather rebellious and outgoing girl who wants to leave her stepmother’s walled fortress and explore the world beyond.

When Rapunzel tries to climb the wall just to see what’s out there (the wall is like 70 feet tall), she is grabbed by the witch’s guard, Brute, an over-sized man who is very grouchy.  But when she learns that her real mother is still alive (and is a suffering peasant) she tries to escape for good.  Brute catches her again, and the witch locks her up (the re imagined prison is a very cool twist).  I loved that she escapes with no help from anyone (just her hair).  And that as she’s running off she meets a prince who was coming to rescue her meets her; she sends him on a wild goose chase.  This Rapunzel needs no prince. (more…)

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I was planning to write this post early in the TV Season.  I found out that the TiVo website rather helpfully includes a page of all the premiere dates of shows, which in addition to telling us when shows started, has also turned out to be a good way to keep track of the shows that were cancelled already.  Our goal is basically to get every good show cancelled so that we can watch our poor Netflix DVDs (which now that we had to change our policy we have mercifully fewer discs that we are not watching).  Um, thanks for the hike Netflix?

Anyhow, it’s now  about seven weeks into the season and we’ve already lost a number of shows–some as quickly as two weeks in…which, really?  I mean why bother.  Surprisingly, none of the FOX shows were cancelled yet.  That’s probably because FOX didn’t pick anything cool or interesting enough for me to want to watch–that’s actually not true, they have some good new shows this season, but nothing like Arrested Development.

So, this time I’m breaking it down by day of the week (which is silly since we TiVo everything and watch it whenever).  And this time red shows are shows we have given up on and Green ones are ones that we’re still enjoying. (more…)

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Queensrÿche fulfilled the promise of their debut EP with this album.  It takes the blueprint of the EP and expands it wonderfully.  They introduce some cool low vocal chants to compliment Tate’s soaring alto (like on “En Force”), they also introduce some wonderful effects and riffs and scales (also on “En Force”).

There’s also some really great, odd “keyboard” bits thrown in as kind of sound effects or jarring moments (“Deliverance”).  “Deliverance” also has great backing vocals, and I love the way the “Deliver Us” part of the song is quite different from the soaring of the rest of the vocals.  The back and forth of “No Sanctuary” also showcases the bands skills very well.

The band even shows signs that they’re not sticking to standard heavy metal.  On “N.M. 156” there’s some sci-fi chanting and the really cool section of the song in which Tate sings “Forgotten…Lost…Memories” and the “Lost” part is a completely unexpected note.   They were taking chances from the beginning.

“The Lady Wore Black” is updated with the stunning “Take Hold of the Flame,” a slightly more progressive version of that first song.  “Before the Storm” was the first song I heard from this album and it has always been my favorite on the record (this is one of those few albums where the better songs aren’t front loaded).  “We watch the sun rise and hope it won’t be our last” (they were always happy guys).

“Child of Fire” opens with a wonderful riff and the compelling, “the souls that are damned by the pain that you bring send you higher.”  The song settles down into a slow part and Tate growls “Damn you and the pain they must feel” and you can tell he means it (whatever else the song is about).

All this time I don’t think I ever realized that “Roads to Madness” was nine minutes long.  It is definitely foreshadowing the kind of epic work they would do later.  And it closes out the album in a cathartic blast.  It’s wonderfully pure metal from the mid-80s.

[READ: October 20, 2011] Celebrations of Curious Characters

I had never heard of Ricky Jay before getting this book, but apparently he is a reasonably well know radio personality (on KCRW), he is also an actor on Deadwood, and he’s a magician.  This book is a collection of his KCRW radio show broadcasts along with accompanying pictures from his vast collection of obscure ephemera.

There are forty-five entries in the book–each one is a page long (it’s an oversized book and they are two columns each).  Each essay is Jay’s take on a particular subject or, as the title says, curious character.  Jay is a collector of esoteric information, especially that related to magic and, for lack of a better word, freakish behavior.   One of the most enjoyable parts of the book are the pictures that accompany each entry.  The pictures come from Jay’s collection and each picture’s provenance is given in the back of the book.  So we get pictures like “The little Count Boruwlaski, engraving by A. van Assed ([London]) Borowlaski [sic], 1788). or Lithograph of Chung Ling Soo (Birmingham: J. Upton, c. 1912) or Frontispiece portrait from George Devol, Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi (Cincinnati: Devol & Haines, 1887).  Some of these photos you can see on his website.  Or you can enjoy this picture of a chicken firing a gun that is not in the book (it comes from his site). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SONIC YOUTH on NPR [interviews and stories] (2006-2009).

While I was finding all of these awesome downloadable shows on NPR, I also found that there are hundreds of downloadable NPR stories about all kinds of bands.  But I was especially interested in the Sonic Youth ones because, well, I’m a fan of the band, but also because it seemed so incongruous to me to hear Peter Sagal introducing a story about Sonic Youth (with noise rock in the background).

The three downloadable shows cover the period from 2006-2008.  It’s no coincidence that this is the Rather Ripped period, where the band is at its most commercial.  And yet it is still pretty neat to hear them play samples of the noisier music as well.

The first one, A 25-Year Experiment in Artful noise (June 12, 2006) appeared on All Things Considered.  It is an interview from WHYY (but with the Peter Sagal intro!).  Joel Rose asks the band about their longevity as well as the history of their sound (this is where Thurston admits that their unusual tunings were because their crappy thrift store guitars sounded very bad in normal tuning).  This interview also revealed to me that Thurston and Kim were married in 1984.  I knew they were an item forever, but didn’t know they were official for that long.  Well done!

The interview also mentions their appearance on the beloved show The Gilmore Girls.  They watched the show with their daughter, Coco and heard Sonic Youth mentioned a few times (by cool chick Lane).  So they got in touch with the producers and were invited on set (I wonder if the actress who played Lane liked them as much as Lane did?).  And they played a fun “troubadour” version of one of their songs on the show (with Coco on bass).

The second download, Story of a ‘Kool thing’ (June 13, 2008) is more of an interview with David Browne, whose book Goodbye 20th Century:  A Biography of Sonic Youth, I have not read (although it sounds good).  This interview delves into their earlier music a bit more (how cool to hear Tom Violence on an NPR show–admittedly this show is The Bryant Park Project, so it’s not quite All Things Considered).  This segment is a general overview of the band’s history and of the book itself (but unlike the book, this offers snippets of music!)

The third one has a rather snarky title: “Turning ‘Sonic Youth’ Fans Into Readers” (January 27, 2009). It’s not so much about the band as it is about a book curated by Peter Wild called Noise: Fiction Inspired by Sonic Youth.

It’s a brief segment which delves into the inspiration for the book and for Wild’s own story “Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style.”  There’s a strangely credulous tone to the whole piece which makes it seem like they don’t really like the book.  I’m curious about the book as there are a few well-recognized writers on board, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever get around to reading it (although Amazon sells used copies for $2.50).

Contributors include:

Hiag Akmakjian • Christopher Coake • Katherine Dunn • Mary Gaitskill • Rebecca Godfrey • Laird Hunt • Shelley Jackson • J. Robert Lennon • Samuel Ligon • Emily Maguire • Tom McCarthy • Scott Mebus • Eileen Myles • Catherine O’Flynn • Emily Carter Roiphe • Kevin Sampsell • Steven Sherrill • Matt Thorne • Rachel Trezise • Jess Walter • Peter Wild

[READ: April 18, 2011] 826 NYC Art Show Catalog

This item is always for sale pretty cheap at the McSweeney’s site.  It recently was marked down to $3 so I figured I’d check it out.  This is a collection of art prints.  Each one is on a stocky paper just under  8 1/2″ x 11″.  The prints are reproduced beautifully (there’s about an inch and a half border (making them suitable for framing).  The back side of the print has a review of the print.  And, most amusingly, the reviews are by 6 to 8 year olds.

The art is hard to summarize, as it covers a lot of ground.  There’s a ton of different styles as well, from straight ahead photography to line and pencil drawing to painting.  These artists each have one page: (more…)

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