i’ve been in a very bjorkish mood lately, egged on by the release of voltiac. morgan told me about the ps22 choir covering a couple of bjork songs. i had no idea i would become obsessed with watching them. i love how they seem to be feeling every word.
octavia e. butler was a fantastic science fiction writer, and it turns out she could also write a great post-apocalypse adventure and make it seem like fantasy. parable of the sower follows lauren as she treks north after her community was burned and family killed by drug addicts. in a society where trust doesn’t exist, lauren collects a small troop of folks that she aspires to start a new community with. the journey is through a terrible landscape of barren towns, roving gangs of desperate cannibals, wild dogs and countless unexpected dangers. as cheesy as it sounds this book is about finding hope in a hopeless would, it succeeds because of octavia’s brilliant writing.
a good companion piece to persepolis, chicken and plums tells the story marjane satrapi’s great uncle, nasser ali khan, who’s life changes after his tar is broken. satrapi’s writing and graphic style is full of wit and heart. she pulls off a feel good novel about death, and it never gets schmaltzy.
i’ve been avoiding this post for some time. i started it several weeks ago as a review of the animal collective show that josh and i attended. i was a little let down in the show. i am not a fan of the new album, but i was hoping they would bring in noise live. it makes me sad when a band i love so much starts disappointing me.
grouper opened the show, she is a local drone rock queen. her layered vocals and guitar loops were lost in the acoustics of the roseland. she would be better appreciated in a bar, or someones basement. hopefully not being overshadowed by animal collectives equipment.
animal collective played a mellow set with songs mainly off the last two albums and “comfy in nautica” from panda pear solo album. they were so static on the stage they became part of the stage. the set was so sterile, nary a scream, heavy bass or excitement. i expect more experimentation from them, especially in a live setting. not once was i suprised. the music was so lulling that i fell asleep for a moment during “fireworks/essplode”.
then there was the lame ass stage setting. a couple of lit up tables,a tapestry of the last album cover, and an inflated orb for projections. it was almost like a one trill hill’s version of a hippy light show. the last couple of tours have had pretty impressive light show in a very radiohead jr kind of way.
when the set was over, they left the stage for a few minutes. brian and noah came back on stage and said that they couldn’t play an encore because something was wrong with david’s ear. apparently the only song they could play without him was “comfy in nautica”, and they had already played that. while i understand about david’s ear, i would like to call b**sh*t on not doing an encore. noah has three solo albums out, you can’t tell me he couldn’t have pulled off a couple a songs. brian is a competent guy, he would’ve improvised. hell, they should’ve just started playing, not caring about it being perfect. that’s what the animal collective i fell in love with would have done.
i may sound very negative about the show, i didn’t hate it. i just thought it was fine. they rocked softly, i feel asleep. i will certainly think twice about seeing them again.
grey gardens is a great production for portland center stage to close out the season with. based on the 1975 documentary by the maysles brothers about a pair of eccentric, distant relatives of jacqueline bouvier kennedy onassis. bordering on exploitation, the documentary showcases big edie and little edie bouvier beale as they live in their run down east hampton manor house, practically penniless. seems like odd fodder for a musical, but it works on a lot of points. it also misses a few.
the first act, set in 1941, is a fictional telling of little edie’s engagement to joe kennedy jr falling apart thanks to big edie’s intervention. the first act is used to establish how far the pair had fallen, and to show the manipulative power of big edie. the music and songs of the first act are traditional cole porter/gershwin era music, lots of brass and jazz hands. some of which are a bit derivative, but they do a good job of setting a tone and feeling for the time. unfortunately the act seems a bit short, not giving enough time for any real character development.
the second act is where grey gardens really succeeds. set in 1975 and using dialogue directly from the documentary, we get a glimpse into the world of the beales. it’s the music that really makes this act work, more in the vein of steven sondheim and a bit of philip glass. the songs and music take on a darker tone, with more prominent strings and percussion. some tin pan alley is thrown in, i believe to give it a connection to the first act. some unusual cadence is used, and some of the songs are sung purposefully slightly out of tune. the songs are catchy and somewhat haunting, even several days later i’m still humming a couple of them. the second act is also rather short, and no plot exists at all, really it’s just a snapshot into a day of the beales.
the eccentricities of the beales was played for comic effect, something i found a little off. while their story is fascinating, i always thought it was a bit tragic, so all the people laughing at them made it seem even more so to me. kind of like a bully picking on the weird kid.
though a bit uneven, and could have used a bit more plot deveolpment, i still greatly enjoyed my visit to grey gardens.
john hodgman gave a speech last night at the radio and television correspondents dinner in d.c. last night, he spoke after pres. obama. he gave a obama a witty nerd salute.
crazy enough has been getting great reviews and was extended three times. i was worried that all the praise was really the result of portland being in love with a portland product. portland has a tendency to do that. storm large’s one woman show at portland center stage took me a bit by surprise, by living up to the praise.
done right a one person show is one of my favorite forms of theater; i’m in awe of someone who can stand on stage and hold a theater’s attention for hours. it is well known in portland that storm large (yes, that’s her given name) is a great performer with an incredible singing voice. in crazy enough she tells the story of her mother’s mental illness and how it affected her life. storm was at ease on stage and has the banter down, she is funny and personable. at times the more emotional dialogue would come off a little too rehearsed, she was definably more comfortable with the conversational parts. the songs, that were mainly used to express the emotion of a story, are strong and catchy. a couple of them were quite touching and sad, the one about her mother’s death had me totally choked up. a little too close to home for me right now maybe.
crazy enough is storm’s show and she shines in it.