Monthly Archives: August 2009


i forget now which documentary had the malvina reynolds’ song “little boxes”, i do remember  filing it in my memory banks. it took me a little while to remember to track it down. i got sings the truth a couple of weeks ago, it kind of blows me away. malvina’s use symbolism and writing was light years ahead of her time. “little boxes” is a statement on suburban conformity, and her song “the new restaurant” is about the harmful effects of food industrialization on society. she also covered the dangers of nuclear war (“what have they done to the rain?”), the stupidity of violent racism (“battle of maxton field”), and poverty (“bitter rain”). this is the kind of album i want to copy for all my friends, it’s incredible.

“little boxes” a video someone made of a project.

“the new restaurant”



i started a project, listening the songs (close to 20,000) on my ipod in alphabetical order. someone i follow on twitter inspired this, i can’t remember who, and i am to lazy to read through all the twitters to find out. i started out only doing it at work and on my bike rides to and from, a couple of weeks ago i committed full time. i have only taken breaks when i’m at home and wanted to listen to a certain album or song.

it took me close to three weeks to get through all the ‘a’ songs. including 13 versions of antony & the johnson’s “another world”, and the entire soundtrack to philip glass’s einstein on the beach (all songs start with “act”)  i was surprised by how well it all flows together, noise and drone fits nicely alongside musicals and pop. i’ll post about every letter and comment on some of the songs, that popped out or really worked at the moment i heard them.

a-a-a o-o-o eh-eh-eh ee-ee-ee 00-00-00 – vladimir martynov

this was the first song that played, it’s a avant garde choral piece by a russian composer vladimir martynov. it was a great way to start, and set a good tone.

all or nothing at all – jimmy scott

jimmy scott is a big talent with a delicate yet grand voice. coming on after sean paul and the small faces, “all or nothing at all”, it felt like it was my first time hearing jimmy scott all over.

american life (featuring missy elliot) (american dream remix) – madonna

while the regular version of madonna’s “american life” comes off like the the whinings of a spoiled rich girl. mix up the beat a little and add a guest spot by missy elliot, it turns into a cheesy pop classic.

angry (featuring tippi irie) – the bug

“angry” came on while i was riding home one day. my bike ride home takes me through the pearl neighborhood of downtown portland. the pearl is full of people shopping and cars driving stupidly slow, this song about injustice and poverty was fitting in my bizarro world. it was followed by “angry inch” from Hedwig, which also seemed right.

army of me – liars

“army of me” is one of my less favorite bjork songs, the liars have made it into a masterpeice of distorted noise rock.

i’m into the ‘bi’ section of the b’s at the moment, is should be at least another week till i’m out of the b’s.

interesting week in reading for me, i read the first and latest book by one my favorite authors.  i have now read all of jonathan ames books. they were different yet similar experiences. twice as good

the double life is twice as good is his latest book, its a collection of articles, essays and fiction. good book, not his best collection, but that’s what you get from a collection. i would hesitate to recommend it, but i would tell you it’s not his best work.

pass like night

i pass like night was his first book. it tells the same tale that all his novels tells, a (somewhat) lost adult male has trouble with alcohol and figuring out his sexuality while trying to be a gentleman about town. i’ve criticized him before for recycling the storyline, but he is skilled at skewing it and making seem like different chapters of the same story. this being his first novel, he did a little experimenting with a non-linear story line. for me, that format didn’t work. having read his other books already, it didn’t seem right. he has an unstable style, it just works better in the linear format. i enjoyed this book mainly because it reminded me of his other better books.

parable of the talants

parable of the talents, sequal to parable of the sower, is a mixed bag of a book. over the last two years i’ve become a big fan of octavia butler’s unique style of sci-fi writing. unfortunately parable of the talents reads like it isn’t written by octavia. the wording is often clunky and long winded, and the plot sort of meanders a times. it’s missing octavia’s usual colorful and easy going flair. talents seems like it is two books crammed into; one the story of lauren, the other the story of her daughter. part of me wonders if she submitted two books, and the publisher decided to combine them into one. leaving the job to an editor, not octavia.

i am glad i read the book though, if you’ve ever read any of octavia’s book you know that she has a strong talent for story arcs that span several books. so it was good to see the story of lauren olimina come to a conclusion.


i got tired of people trying to push middlesex on me, so i gave in. i wish i hadn’t, reading this book was like work. i’ve been avoiding this book, i read most of jeffry eugenides’s virgin suicides, and didn’t really like his voice.  i still find his style annoying. to me it’s unnecessarily wordy and horribly plotted. it should say something that despite not enjoying it, i still finished it. about halfway through the story got slightly better and i wanted to see how it turned out. unfortunately i found the ending to be anti climatic in every way.  file this ony under: i’m glad  other people like it, i just don’t get it.


leslie and i took advantage of portland center stage’s free play readings (and super chilly AC) that were part of jaw: a playwrights festival.

we went to see (concerning strange devices from the distant west) by naomi iizuka. four actors and one narrator sat in chairs on the stage, they presented three stories taking place about ten to twenty years a apart. all somehow connected to a picture, circa 1885, of a shirtless japanese boy holding a box containing a cicada. it was a slow drama that unfolded in a delicate manner. the story was intricate and well plotted. when fully staged i think it will be more engaging, in the reading it came off a little confusing. since it was four actors playing three roles each, and the non-linear storytelling that naomi iizuka is known for, we kept losing track of the characters. i think keeping it at four actors is a good choice, it’s the costumes and sets that will help. when fully staged, it should be fascinating.

the other reading we saw was kimberly rosenstock’s 99 ways to fuck a swan. interestingly this was a non-linear collection connecting around a painting, except this was a comedy, and a very successful one. four stories, spanning more than 3000 years, weave in an out of each other while focusing on michelangelo’s “leda and the swan”, and it’s affect on the happiness and and loves of the group involved. this play was hilarious, some of the funniest parts involved possible human/feline intercourse. it was in not way crude or smutty, trust me. some of the jokes did seem a little ‘played for laughs’, they could be fixed though. and unlike the other play, it should be staged the way pcs did. they did a fantastic job, using eight actors and three rows of folding chairs.  the minimal approach is best to balance with over sized humor.

i don’t understand how a struggling theater can put on a free week long festival, but i’m thankful they did. it was an excellent way to escape from sauna portland has become over the last week.