last updated: september 27, 2005

run-down of mostly fluffy summer film-watching:

the accidental tourist (1988)
i mistakenly thought this would be a sort of romantic comedy, when it's actually a drama about a man and his grief over his son's death. generally well constructed and acted, but the reason i'd recommend it is b/c of geena davis's completely worthy academy award-winning performance.

bride and prejudice (2004)
poor jane austen. it was actually a pretty good idea to adapt her most famous novel to a bollywood-style musical set in india, but the execution was a decided failure in pretty much every way. characters act without any motivation; dialogue is stilted and unbelievable; and the bollywood-campiness is completely sporadic and never used to its fullest potential. skip this one.

broadway melody of 1940 (1940)
it amazes me that completely mediocre musicals like -singin' in the rain- become part of the canon, and great classics like this one get completely overlooked. typical plot, but astaire is unbelievably fantastic.

can't buy me love (1987)
blast from the past, from the days of disney's sunday night movies. a very 80's teen flick about the perils of popularity, but some scenes have surprisingly good writing.

the incredibles (2004)
wow. a pixar movie that i actually enjoyed w/ out reservations for once. much better plot than usual, a lot of good humor, and really fantastic visuals.

latter days (2003)
a fairly cheesy gay story about a mormon and an LA party boy, but solid acting by the two (good-looking) leads make this worth watching.

noises off! (1992)
the mother of all farces. it's easy to see how much better this would work onstage. despite a starry cast (inc. christopher reeve and carol burnett), this is mostly lackluster acting and the timing is generally rushed.

moulin rouge! (2001)
highly enjoyable and some virtuosic film-making. some truly classic moments (such as all the on-top-of-the-elephant scenes) and some good acting from nicole kidman. like all of luhrmann's films, a definite crowd-pleaser with no cheap shots.

sommarnattens leende (1955) (smiles of a summer night)
very hard to get the sondheim adaptation of this out of my head, but i enjoyed bergman's darker characterization.

sneakers (1992)
way worse than i remembered. to modern-day audiences the plot seems threadbare and the action mostly unbelievable.

some like it hot (1959)
another overrated classic: entertaining, but not a must-see. the action isn't that memorable, but the comedy and romance aren't bad. the most memorable moments are marilyn singing "i wanna be loved by you" and the classic ending line.

the work of director spike jonze (2003)
very disappointing installment in the directors' series. jonze seems content to include a single conceit in his music vids w/ absolutely no development whatsoever. completely forgettable.

posted by fwc | 8/21/2005 1:29 PM

providence has hit upon a great and fairly simple scheme to attract tourists. here's the description from the website:
this happens almost every weekend during the summer. andy and i went last weekend (we ate at a place the mills' tavern, which was sorely lacking in the vegetarian department, but andy quite enjoyed his lamb) and our friend finagled our way onto a boatride as well. also had a memorable time at a very comfortable coffee/wine place afterwards. the event also includes some live music (salsa dancing when we went) and the usual range of street performers. in itself it may not be worth a special trip, but it's worth planning a trip that includes it.

posted by fwc | 8/13/2005 11:41 AM

my favorite club of all time, manray in cambridge, closed saturday july 2, 2005 after 20 years. a sad day. this marks the end of a kind of small, modern-day utopia where people from all backgrounds could just enjoy good music and the company of others and dance like a fool, but hopefully it's not a permanent end as there are plans to reopen in a few months. this post is in homage to chris ewen (on the left above), the "backroom" DJ of future bible heroes reknown who for the past 6 or so of those 20 years has kept me a happy clubgoer. R.I.P. manray, and hurry on back.

posted by fwc | 8/7/2005 7:24 PM

i've just discovered how amazing brel is. i borrowed andy's copy of ces gens-la (an import) and the title track bowls me over every time. this is one of the few CDs i've encountered where i like pretty much every track, and i understand now what andy meant when he said listening to this stuff really makes you want to learn french. he has another of brel's CDs, infiniment, that's domestic and has english translations, and the translations prove that brel's status in france as a great poet is entirely well founded. it's interesting to read comparisons online to bob dylan and leonard cohen, although of course brel doesn't sound anything like them. hopefully they'll be releasing more of his music domestically.

addendum: i finally found a translation of this song online! here it is:

First - first there is the eldest,
the one who's like a watermelon,
who has a thick nose,
who no longer knows his name, Sir,
so much he drinks,
so much he has drunk,
who doesn't do a thing with his ten fingers,
the one who is at the end of his rope,
who is completely smashed
and takes himself for the king,
who gets drunk every night
with bad wine,
but who is to be found at dawn
at church snoozing,
stiff as a hard-on,
pale as an Easter candle,
and who mumbles,
and whose eyes wander off...
Let me tell you, Sir,
those people,
they don't think, Sir,
they don't think
- they pray!

And then there's the other one,
with tufts in his hair,
who has never seen a comb,
who is mean as a louse,
the kind who'd give his shirt
to the happy poor,
who married that Denise,
a girl from the city,
I mean - from another city,
and that's not all of it -
he does his little business,
with his little hat on,
with his little coat on,
in his little car,
he would like very much to look as if,
but he looks like nothing at all
- one must not try to look rich
when one is without a penny!
Let me tell you, Sir,
those people,
they don't live, Sir,
they don't live
- they cheat!

And then, there are the others...
The mother who says nothing,
or just anything;
and from night till morning,
in his handsome apostle's face
and in its wooden frame,
there's the father's moustache,
- he died from a slip,
and he looks down at his flock
gulping their cold soup
and one hears big shlrrps,
and one hears big shlrrps!
And there is the very old one,
who doesn't stop rattling,
and they wait for her to croak,
because she holds the dough,
and they don't even listen
to what her poor hands try to tell...
Let me tell you, Sir,
those people,
they don't talk, Sir,
they don't talk
- they count!

And then, and then, and then -
there is Frieda
who is beautiful as the sun
and who loves me as much
as I love Frieda!
Even we often tell each other
that we'll get ourselves a house
with lots of windows,
with almost no walls,
and that we'll live there,
and that it will feel good,
and that if it is not a sure bet,
it's still a maybe...
Because - the others are against,
because - the others are against!
The others, they say so,
that she is too beautiful for me,
that I am just good
to skin cats -
I have never killed no cats,
or then, it was a long time ago,
or maybe, I forgot,
or they smelled funny...
I mean, they are against...
they are against...
Sometimes, when we see each other,
pretending it was not planned,
with her big wet eyes,
she says that she'll leave,
she says that she'll come with me,
then for a moment,
only for a moment,
then do I believe her, Sir,
for a moment,
only for a moment,
because, those people, Sir,
they don't leave!
They don't leave, Sir,
they don't leave...

But it's getting late, Sir,
I 'd better go home...

posted by fwc | 8/5/2005 8:25 AM

so this mix came about from the combination of a couple of diff. factors. first off, w/ no july mixes in sight i figured i'd step up to the plate and whip one together, which meant i had one night to do it in. (all in all it took me less than 3 hours from concept to finish, which is highly unusual for me.) second, since the last two mixes were so eclectic, i decided to really limit this one, in terms of both mood and genre. also, since my time was so short, i had to really rely on my memory of tracks and had to go w/ some tracks that i like but i'm not totally in love w/ b/c i didn't have time to dig out harder-to-find favorites in my collection.

so, w/ that said, what i ended up doing was an indie-ish electronic music mix. i'd made an electronic mix about a year ago, but that ended up being almost entirely instrumental, so for this i went w/ songs. also, most of the electronic music i usu. put on mixes tends to be more mainstream pop (e.g. EBTG, erasure, new order, underworld), so for this i steered clear of most of the really recognizable names.

it turned out that b/c of the limited genre, the mix had a definite overall feeling, namely mellow and/or melancholy, which i suppose is appropriate given the cold and rainy summer we've been having. also, a lot of the tracks i like turned out to have similar instrumentation (sparse textures, skittery beats, acoustic guitar parts, vocal effects), which i found interesting. if i'd had more time i might have tried to vary the tracks more, but i found that more upbeat tracks didn't really fit; but i hope the tracks don't all sound too similar. last comment: i was psyched that i could incorporate so many of the random (and good) people i've found online. certainly, sir and lonas are from boston, although i think the latter isn't around anymore. a lot of these tracks were ones i like, but haven't really followed up on, but now i'm glad i've reminded myself to do so.

my steel will turn to flesh ... i'll shine ...

1 future bible heroes . memories of love . lonely days
2 state shirt . don't die . straw man
3 the egg . forwards (import) . wall
4 lonas . . io lounge
5 lamb . self-titled . gorecki
6 mju:o, jun murakami . . in the box (locked rock mix)
7 psapp . tiger my friend . leaving in coffins
8 scissor sisters . party monster (soundtrack) . it can't come quickly enough (edit)
9 lonbobby . . bioluminescence
10 dizzee rascal . boy in da corner . jezebel
11 hybrid, andreas johnson . glorious (EP) . glorious (remix)
12 iglu . . heridas (remix)
13 state shirt . don't die . it is a shame my binoculars don't work at night
14 the magnetic fields . holiday . take ecstacy with me
15 certainly, sir . mugic . sweet time
16 tristeza . mixed signals . casio
17 mju:o, bjork . . desired constellation (remix)
18 bonus track

posted by fwc | 7/15/2005 9:56 AM
as americans seem to lose more and more of their freedoms every day, this beautifully-written new york times editorial about judith miller is essential reading.
posted by fwc | 7/8/2005 2:01 PM
this will come as no surprise, but i've been bitten by the sudoku bug. for those who don't know, it's a pen-and-paper game, best described as a crossword puzzle with numbers. it's not math-y at all, though; it's purely logic. i first read about it in the ny times, and apparently it's hugely popular in japan and britain and making headway in the states. let's see who else i know gets into it (other than andy who picked up on it last time he went to england).

4th of july, so i watched the fireworks from outside my window; prob. the best and most comfortable view i've had in a while. this boston fireworks press release amused me. i like the names they've given them: "Silver Brocade Waterfalls from Japan, Weiss Blink Pupatelle from Italy, Purple & Lemon Strobe Peony with Gold Popping Pistil from China, Kamuro Rays to Fushia Strobe from Spain, PeachBlow Rainbow from China." can anyone point me to a book about how modern-day fireworks get assembled, etc.? on amazon a cursory search turns up books about how to make your own, but that's not quite what i'm looking for. anyway, happy 4th.

posted by fwc | 6/29/2005 12:07 AM
i know that this is going to threaten my remaining shreds of credibility, but there's this ridiculously funny blog called dlisted which bashes celebrities a la star. i'm really not into celebrity gossip at all, but the gay-isms are hilarious, and his "hot sluts of the day" (which has included among others carol channing and beverly clearly) regularly make me laugh out loud. i'm sure this will be perfect for all of you people who have been longing for a gay pal to dish with. here's a sample entry:
posted by fwc | 6/29/2005 12:07 AM

just got back from my first (and hopefully not last) pixies concert. it amazes me (in a good way) that these guys have come back; and although they didn't quite completely fill the agganis arena (a new venue in town. BU's new hockey rink i think, and conveniently located on the B line), the crowd was very enthusiastic. i'm not going to write a full review, but here are my main thoughts: the show got off to a slow start, w/ "subbacultcha", "wave of mutilation" (which they reprised the slower version of later in the show), and "no. 13 baby", but the songs that really picked up for me were "alec eiffel" (one of my fav pixies songs) and then "la la love you" (david, the drummer, on vox). "vamos" had some fun joey moments, and "hey" was a fantastic highlight near the end of the show. as an encore they did "gigantic", w/ kim on vox. i wouldn't have minded hearing "dig for fire", but of course i can't complain. all in all a good show, despite some somewhat annoying people next to me and only so-so seats. whoo! pixies!

posted by fwc | 6/15/2005 11:29 PM
i've been meaning to write some reviews of random restaurants andy and i have been to lately. for all but the last, mentally add the following line at the end of each review: "oh well, at least it's nice to try new places."

torch (beacon hill, 26 charles st). winnie didn't have any complaints when she went some years ago, but andy and i were disappointed. the ambience was pretty good, with unusual sheets of copper on the walls, and the service was fine (although andy found our waiter to be a bit abrasive). as for the food: my asparagus soup was fine, but my mushroom pasta was completely one-dimensional and relied too much on portabella, which i think people would generally agree is always a bad move. andy had a decent salad to start, but his lamb was pretty much ruined due to overcooking.

veggie planet (in club passim in harvard square). this was one of the more bizarre meals we've had. i'm all for earthy food, but earthy shouldn't mean tasteless. andy got a pizza (made from haley house dough) that was incredibly bland, and i had the "peanut curry" which basically was some slightly-cooked peanuts and broccoli w/ a gloopy, salty sauce dribbled on it. both strongly called to mind the image of a young elementary-school aged kid cooking a father's day meal. the kid-sized seats and tables added to the illusion.

cambridge brewing company (kendall square, across from the movie theater). i just had to write about this. andy and i went here out of desperation (i'm still bummed out that the kendall cafe closed) and had some more strange food. his "iceberg lettuce salad" came out, and it was literally a quarter head of iceberg lettuce on a plate w/ some white stuff dribbled on it and a couple of mushy "falafels". what was really amazing was that not only was the lettuce not cut at all and not only was it pretty much the least fresh produce i've ever had in a restaurant, but they didn't even bother to peel off the outer, definitely brown leaves. and the meat inside his chicken empanadas looked suspiciously like cat food. i get chills just thinking about it. also, the waitress gave me a textbook "blank look" when i rather smilingly commented, "that was a very interesting salad!"

prairie star (dartmouth st south of the back bay T stop). this one actually turned out to be a keeper ... or at least in comparison to most of the stuff in the area. andy and i walk by this place all the time, but we assumed it'd be on par to b.good which is next door and which is even worse than its pointlessly strangely punctuated name (i.e. pretty terrible, i.e. worse than mcdonald's), or (god forbid) the cheesecake factory. (speaking of the cheesecake factory, andy and i went to the latter on a whim b/c i was craving their avocado eggrolls (there goes my street cred), and we just have to wonder who in the world is making up their menus: the food tends to be like a suburbanite's idea of what haute cuisine might be like. i was intrigued by their "fried macaroni balls in creamy marinara" and believe you me, it was an adventure.) anyway, back to prairie star: the chips and salsa were good, and i had the vegetarian tostada. the food wasn't incredibly deep, but the ingredients were quite fresh and overall very satisfying, particularly since there really isn't much in the way of mexican around here. apparently this replaced a place called "baja cantina", and apparently it's owned by the same people who own laurel and firefly (been to the former for an okay brunch, but not to the latter which looks about as cheesy as legal's).

so ... one out of four ain't bad ... i guess?

posted by fwc | 6/10/2005 4:23 PM
montreal was entertaining, although uneventful; we mostly just walked around and got a feel for the city. here are some pics. in order they are: apartment building in chinatown; sign by the river that for some reason i thought was funny (click to see it bigger); the montreal tower and frosting-covered olympic stadium; another view of the tower and stadium. by the way, if you ever go i highly recommend you check out the botanical gardens, in particular the insectarium. it's a little low on information, but has great, creepy, crawly, gross-you-out stuff.

posted by fwc | 6/10/2005 8:40 AM
actually i have to also add that i've been reading the babynamewizard blog (home of the totally cool baby name voyager). i dunno why, but i find this fascinating. i like how the trends of names reveal so much about society. or maybe it's b/c almost every name calls to mind a character just waiting to be written. either way it makes for very entertaining time wastage. and i have to confess that andy bought me the book also! people are going to think we're going to have a baby! HAHAHA.
posted by fwc | 6/1/2005 10:01 AM
i think i came across this when i was looking through some blogs. this is a fascinating transcribed debate between stephen pinker and a woman named elizabeth spelke (who is also at harvard) in response to the president of harvard's um indiscreet comments about his opinions on the natural abilities of women. pinker is pro-biology and spelke is in the environment camp. based on the evidence they provide you'll have to decide yourself about what you think about women's natural science ability, although i have to say that pretty much all the women i met at MIT have proven spelke right. i'm definitely going to be reading some of these other talks also.

speaking of blogs, the only one i've gotten into at all (despite seeking out recommendations) is the apparently pretty famous this woman from utah has a very familiar (in a good way) sense of sarcasm and spazziness (sp?), and although she has an obsession with poo and some of her pictures and entries can border on shmaltz (pretty much impossible not to since she has both a kid and a dog), she's pretty entertaining. here's a sample entry, in all its sarcastic and cynical glory.

so this makes about the third blog i read now, and the other two don't really count: one is carl's blog, which doesn't count b/c i know him. the other is marthadot, which doesn't count b/c it's a group blog of random time-wastage stuff that i'm part of. but both are good reads.

posted by fwc | 6/1/2005 7:50 AM

i've been itching to do this mix for a while and finally finished it this weekend. it's my 2nd fat is flavor metamix, w/ my "favorite" track from each of the 19 mixes from fat is flavor rounds 4 through 6. the actual favorite track from a mix may have been supplanted by a track that flowed a bit better, and although it's very hodge-podgey it doesn't feel too schizo to me, and it's a nice effect to encapsulate several months of mix-making into less than 80 minutes. it was interesting to see which tracks still do it for me (winnie, that squarepusher track is so good) and which tracks were overlooked the first time. so, here it is.

don't throw it away
best of flava rounds 4-6

1 andy4 . mike scott . bring 'em all in
2 nelson4 . pinehurst kids . spinning out
3 fred4 . joe weiner . since you left town
4 winnie4 . squarepusher . my red hot car
5 austin4 . jarcrew . radar
6 carl4 . django reinhardt . honeysuckle rose

7 austin5 . call and response . all night long
8 andy5 . big audio dynamite . everybody needs a holiday
9 carl5 . jimmy cliff . sitting in limbo
10 winnie5 . robert johnson . last fair deal gone down
11 maggie5 . neil finn . truth
12 fred5 . kerith ravine . fenton

13 christian6 . people under the stairs . earth travelers
14 austin6 . souls of mischief . 93 til infinity
15 andy6 . ivor cutler . go and sit upon the grass
16 maggie6 . old 97's . buick city complex
17 winnie6 . royal city . under a hollow tree
18 fred6 . heather headley . i wish i wasn't (live)
19 carl6 . henry mancini . dreamsville
posted by fwc | 5/30/2005 3:46 PM
i just had to post about what has been the single worst piece of "art" i've seen in a very, very long time, perhaps ever: william finn's falsettos at boston's huntington theatre. i went in with a fairly open mind, having heard finn's a new brain on CD which, although not a masterpiece by any standard, had some amusing moments. but as for this show, where to begin? the plot of the first act can be summed up in one sentence: jewish man with son leaves wife for loser gay man and wife marries his shrink. this is exactly the type of navel-gazing, self-indulgent, and mostly plotless musical theater i despise. the scenes are completely incoherent, in themselves and in relation to each other. the characterization is nonexistent. the music is incredibly repetitive, with the exact same vamp throughout. the rhymes are trite and utterly predictable. the ballads are unbearably saccharine. the acting and direction were valiantly passable but did absolutely nothing to save the show. the really scary thing is that apparently this show is popular; it won tony awards in 1992 for best book and best score (granted that was a slow year, but still), and it ran for some 500 performances. i can understand lowbrow stuff being popular, but someone please explain to me how it's possible for this type of vomit-inducing crap to succeed? i take comfort at least in the fact that it seemed the others in the audience, if not puking as much as i, weren't sitting transfixed and breathless; hopefully boston audiences are more discriminating than most.
posted by fwc | 5/22/2005 10:09 PM
this is pretty interesting. in this article brantley tries to dissect why of the 3 female performances of classic plays only 1 received unanimous praise. he examines "Fitting the Part", "Vanity" (i.e. physicality), "Clothing", "Playing Well With Others" (i.e. co-stars), "Direction", and "Continuity". his points are interesting on several levels. first, only 2, maybe 3 of the 6 areas he examines are ones that the actor has control over. although one can imagine an actress transcending a terrible production, it's of course extremely difficult to do so, as theater really is an immersive, symphonic art and everything suffers if even a significant minority of it is out of place. second, i find it interesting, and it has been debated many times over, that brantley assumes that actors are limited in the roles they should tackle. this goes back to my post a while back about actors who are truly chameleons and can easily slip into a wide-range of characters, and those who are not. in theory, in theater we can accept actors who don't fit the characters physically in ways that are less believable on film, and in theory a superlative actor can make himself look older or younger or whatever. so in other words, i completely disagree that brantley's assessment puts the only true judgement of the -acting- at the -end- of his list. yet another reason for me to dislike his opinions.

in other news:
a muppets version of the wizard of oz??

in his overall very positive review of the new star wars movie, a.o. scott throws in a great quote:

posted by fwc | 5/20/2005 9:11 AM
this has to be the coolest find since i first stumbled across the original (now defunct) bjork remix web. andy told me about this yesterday: if you have a library card at the BPL you can go here and login and then access -every naxos recording-. how frickin' awesome is this??!?!?! for those who don't know, naxos is a relatively new classical record label that has evolutionized the classical music industry by selling all their top-notch records at $7 a CD and surprising everyone by regularly outselling every other classical record label. their m.o. is to generally use less famous but still extremely worthy artists (and there are def. some exceptions, like sumi jo in rossini's tancredi), and they've also put out a host of vital historic recordings, world music, contemporary, and historic pop music (inc. the likes of doris day) as well as lots of opera and ballet DVDs. right now i'm listening to a recording i've been meaning to get just b/c it seems so bizarre, of dame edna narrating peter and the wolf. HAHAHAHA. too bad i just bought 2 naxos CDs recently (britten auden song cycle and a random collection of baritone arias). i'm totally going to be listening to their britten song cycles CDs for like the next year.
posted by fwc | 5/13/2005 8:34 AM

had to recommend dickens' great expectations, a great, although looong book. wasn't sure what to expect, but this was a surprising blend of gothic, cold-and-rainy british victorian storytelling and beautifully comic scenes and characters (the tea parties at the pockets and at wemmick's house are easily as hilarious as anything in lewis carroll's books). this book is one that you'll have to take repeated breaks from b/c it's def. not written to be read in one sitting, but the characters are wonderfully memorable (i think i'm infatuated w/ both mr wemmick and herbert pocket) and the psychological development of the protagonist is quite touching. and the last 50 pages are a real payoff and had me completely teary-eyed. i can't decide if i should finally see the movie adaptation w/ gwyneth paltrow and ethan hawke (which i've been meaning to do b/c tori has a song on the soundtrack), but i don't think i will anytime soon b/c it'll prob. just spoil my memory of the book.

posted by fwc | 5/4/2005 2:11 PM

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