Monthly Archives: June 2009

Better Bands

Off the top of my head. Cause my head is full of lists. Here’s a current list of favorite bands that have not let me down yet. These are musicians with at least 2-3 good records in a row or more. You gotta get a winning streak. Staying positive, not mentioning the ones I no longer can count as faves, these are en fuego right now. They have a solid track record.

Stars
The National
Phoenix
Zero 7
Tegan & Sara
The Long Winters
Mates of State
Metric
Broken Social Scene
Los Campesinos!

…and ten. And yours?

“The list is life.” – a wholly inappropriate use of a quote from Schindler’s List that always stuck with me.

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Filed under Music, Take a Chance

Weather related

Pablo and Doodles like to do what the older kids in the neighborhood are doing. They usually wear swim shirts when out in the water and sun. But then they see the neighbor kids on the Slip ‘N Slide across the street.

Pablo: Hey Dad, can we go nakey top like Nico?
Pablo and Doodles

Now, Nico is a dark-skinned, half Peruvian boy. As you can see Pablo and Doodles require either the SPF swim shirt or liquid sweater SPF 50+ like dear old Dad. We look more like Conan O’Brien or Tilda Swinton
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than George Hamilton, okay?
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We accept it. We don’t necessarily like it, but we deal.

The boys also call being barefoot nakey toes.

Pablo: Can I wear just toes outside?

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Father's Day: Singin' in the Rain

Father's Day: Singin' in the Rain

Father’s Day was fitting weather-wise for our downtown St. Paul (again out-of-town) stroll before the stellar production of Singin’ in the Rain at the Ordway. It closes Sunday, see it if you can. It’s one of our favorite family movies. The dancing and choreography are pretty incredible, elevating a few of the lesser numbers from the film. The classics like Moses Supposes and the titular track are unbeatable.

And don’t forget to read Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen for the July 14th Books & Bars. I’m enjoying it so far, kinda mysterious.

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Whatever Works film review & Woody Allen works

It’s not easy to be a fan of the Woodman. It’s not popular to count him as a fave these days. There’s little denying his stellar stand-up and TV writing in the 60s or his classic films of the 70s and 80s. Even in the 90s he had some gems. Woody Allen is 75 next year and he still makes a movie every year. What other auteur has/had this kind of output and quality?

But the oughts have been unkind to him or rather his sense of humor has started to seem stale or old-manish.  Let’s look at this decade of Woody Allen.

Whatever Works (2009) – good, not great, but worth it for fans

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) – top ten Woody, loved it

Cassandra’s Dream (2007) – slight, not a fave, not horrible, but not rewatchable

Scoop (2006) – fun, light, nothing new

Match Point (2005) – top ten Woody, excellent

Melinda and Melinda (2004) – pretty good, interesting to see Will Ferrell do Woody, but not great

Anything Else (2003) – Unwatchable, maybe his worse. Terrible casting, just ugh.

Hollywood Ending (2002) – mildly amusing, but kinda that old manish, unfunny bit

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001) – I don’t like Helen Hunt or this movie. One of the worst.

Small Time Crooks (2000) – fun, goofy slapstick, kinda like a early 70s one, good enough.

So, I see two of his best, two classics in this decade. He’s not done. I have high hopes for his next:

Untitled Woody Allen London Project (2010) (pre-production) with Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Brolin, Freida Pinto and Antonio Banderas

He has had success shooting in London and Europe lately.

So back to Whatever Works, playing now in many cities or coming soon near you…I’d probably rank it around #4 or 5 of his ten this decade. I don’t think it will win any new fans, but for his old fans, it’s pretty good. Judging from those who saw the advance screening, it was evenly mixed. Some said one of his lesser works or just didn’t like it all, especially Rachel Evan Wood. Others laughed a lot and liked it and Larry David especially.

Overall grade: B or B- for those who care. B- or C+ for those who don’t.

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Filed under Adults (kid-free), art, movies

Phoenix = hot

There are 3, maybe 5 bands…

Stars, The National, Broken Social Scene, maybe Mates of State

and for sure…Phoenix

Phoenix at the Varsity this week was one of those rare concert moments when you know you’re experiencing something special. We had a varied crowd of friends including Kay, Jen, Dave, Alex, Patrick, Roxie, Xian, Ding!mann, Emily, Abby, Erin, Jess, Jeff, Jesse, and Andy among others.The jaded (and aging) hipsters were into it. People were dancing, sweating, smiling. Jess said it was like our Woodstock. Substituting sweat for mud. And also I’m sure she meant the last Woodstock, not the original. But she was probably tripping balls when she said it. Kidding, Jess. Or were you? She said it at a movie screening the following night, so yeah, she probably was.

The Varsity had recently increased their seating capacity to almost double what it was, now at 800. Curiously there was no air conditioning and it was about 85 degrees that night, very humid. Varsity Theater, if you have it, use it. If you don’t please get it or you will lose my favorite venue tag. It was a sauna show but we didn’t mind. We stood up front, way closer than normal. We sang, clapped and danced more than we have at a show in…years? I think so. Easily the concert of the year. Excellent mix of songs from all four albums, no filler, no bathroom or beer breaks. The lights and staging were exciting with the beefed up six piece to flesh out the songs in full rock fashion to match their Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix record (get it already). The transitions were tight. The band actually whipped up a crowd of seen-it-alls into a frenzy. They were showmen. The lead singer, Thomas Mars, joined us in the crowd for the last song, walking amongst us. Not above us, but our equal in fun and sweat. That’s the key. The band looked like they were enjoying it as much as us.

If I buy a t-shirt it must be something I’m proud to advertise. And 4 of my 6 rock shirts still in rotation are among those aforementioned bands. (One of the others is still good (Halloween, Alaska) but more on them in a concert review later this summer. And the other is now defunct or morphed into another band – Lftr Pllr “became” The Hold Steady.)

An idea of the show, just a glimpse:

The Star Tribune review was pretty right on for once.

Good news, you’ll have a chance to experience Phoenix this fall at First Ave. I don’t think it’ll ever be the same. We felt like we were seeing a band at their peak before they break through to the next level of stardom with bigger venues to distance you. But it should still be excellent. I’m sure I’ll be there. Hook up and meet us at the Rally. Maybe we’ll sweat less.
Maybe.

Phoenix at the Varsity

and R.I.P. P.Y.T.

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Tee Ball

Pablo may have found his sport. Soccer and swimming were rough, but we’ll try again. Last week he started playing for the Lyndale Farmstead Bluegills. We’ve never seen him shag a ball so quickly or actually concentrate on a game at hand like this. He was looking fine in classic Charlie Brown style with his baggy shorts, baseball cap, and big t-shirt. The irony is that his favorite part of baseball is absent. Normally he only likes to pitch, but said he really likes being in the field and trying to get the ball now. It’s fun to walk to the park whilst he runs ahead in excitement. And our sense of community is heightened by the neighbor kids on the team and their parents coaching.
walk to the park

action up the middle

action up the middle


helmet over Brewers cap

helmet over Brewers cap

OK, the only glitch is he’s not officially on the team yet. The park board said they were full, but the coach told us to keep showing up if we want to play. He doesn’t have an official shirt either. One of the coach’s sons doesn’t want to play, but she is holding out hope for him. Maybe not that much, since she told us to keep showing up. And we will every Tue/Thur till they kick us out.

GO BLUEGILLS

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Liberty Frozen Custard

Beat the heat and step back in time with me, won’t you. Check out Liberty Frozen Custard across from a firestation (!) at 5401 Nicollet Ave, just north of Diamond Lake Rd. Kids run amok with cap guns and coins aplenty for old timey arcade fun. There’s even a fireplace with pulp novels and retro couches for the non summer day. Tons of fun. We’re currently enjoying pints of caramel, cookie dough and black raspberry chocolate swirl. Jealous? Get some.

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It’s the kind of place you tell your Dad about on Father’s Day.
Speaking of, ours was fantastic, thanks for asking.
Uptown Market, Singin’ in the Rain at the Ordway (featuring actual dripping from the ceiling water dancing), dinner at Dad and Mom’s in Prior Lake. Good times.

Summer. We hardly knew ye and already the days are getting shorter? What the huh?
Tomorrow, Phoenix. Wed a screening of the new Woody Allen/Larry David. This weekend an old school BBQ with college friends. Life, it’s bigger.

What about you and yours? Do tell.

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Mini Rock Band

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
– Victor Hugo

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter.
– John Keats

Without music, life would be an error. The German imagines even God singing songs.
– Friedrich Nietzsche

If music be the food of love, play on.
– Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water-bath is to the body.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
– Aldous Huxley

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