Today i was combed down and cleaned up and i looked like the greyscale version of me except for my hands and face which were unusually rosey; from bottom to top i ran black, grey, grey, black, silver, black, face, black. Someone has turned down my contrast, apparently. I might have had something to do with it… staying up until 6am to re-read Hi Fidelity (as if that last monster-post could’ve been inspired by anything other than the first chapter) and folding up clothes so i could stay hidden within my air-conditioned room rather than the threatening humid mess of my living room. But, here i am, back in the humidity and mess and trying to seriously commit to packing something tonight … i’m not sure what or where i’ll put it, but it’ll get packed. But, anyhow, i don’t think i’ll miss this apartment much… it was never comfortable enough to be homey, even if it represented the reality of home. Check back with me on September2nd to see if i have anything to add to that.
Last night’s start stop rain versus humidity gave way to gray an drizzle today, much to my delight. So much heat all week was just piling more wear and grief onto me and onto the city with every day, and today wiped everything back down to the simple scent of cement and a breeze. With the city so cool and forgiving Hillary entertained my ambitions to get out and wander. We were on second street looking for a restaurant to preface seeing Ghost World, and somehow we wound up in Pagoda.
Pagoda occupies a place in so many simultaneous sentences in my head that i can hardly discern what order i’m supposed to write them in, so please excuse the tangle.
Pagoda is nestled in a restaurant-and-Ritz-theatre district that is Old City, so there are a lot of cobbly streets and things with “independence” in their name. In front of it there is some kind of tiny square about Ben Franklin (though it is not the Ben Franklin House, which is nearby), and in it is a tiny metal model of a historic house on a tiny podium. I saw the house all of the time, because Pagoda has just recently become Pagoda… it’s claustrophic bamboo-strewn space has experienced several incarnations in my lifetime. The restaurant to occupy the building for the longest time was Waldo’s… the same upstairs balcony with a low-flying view out the two-story front face of the building but with a marbly bar extending the entire length of the restaurant from front to back with the swingy doors to the kitchen at the end and a pinball machine tucked into the back corner.
I would sit tiny in those high chairs at the bar with a can of pineapple juice over ice and a bowl of chunky round bar pretzels watching football, because i was nearly always there on a Sunday. The surroundings and everything have melted away now so much that i believe that i really didn’t know anything about the place other than the doors and the balcony and the chair and the top of the bar and the teevee. And my father behind the bar; but, he’s not something i know all that well.
Any story i could tell you about Waldo’s would just be an iteration of “and then the Eagles scored” or “and then we played pinball,” but looking back i think it was the only place i’ve ever been where i have been unequivocally happy; time has wiped away all of the pouty bored pieces of it so they are just smudged pictures around me at the bar trying to teach my dad how to play football on gameboy (“What do you mean there’s not penalties?”) or making my typical assertions (“If the Eagles lose the the Cowboys on my birthday i’m never watching a game here again, okay dad?”) or something. My last memory was from down at the end of the bar at one of those Superbowls that Denver lost, but by then we were me and my dad and his wife and i only remember it was strange being there at night on a Sunday because visitation always was over by 7pm on a Sunday so my life could get orderly again for school the next day.
Splitting time between parents was a funny thing, because weekends with my father never got very much accomplished except for stealing me away from what i was used to, and we never went anywhere because i always was back at home by sundown on a Sunday with a kiss goodbye from his rough stubble. But, i did it nonetheless, from when he lived in a tiny apartment with fish and one of the other bartenders to the wife’s adorable splitlevel house in Andora to their home in BlueBell that is anything but that to me. And, now i don’t even really call him for father’s day, because i don’t have a strong enough association with the world, but i think of him whenever i hear doo-wop on the radio because of his silly high voice that i cannot really match, or when i am distractedly ignoring the Eagles lose. Or when i see where Waldo’s used to be.
So, Hillary entertained my buried sense-associations and we ate at Pagoda and i choked back some tears. It was raining, anyhow.
Actually, i think that might make you the internet’s Grace Under Fire, because on Suddenly Susan i think you’d probably play the man-hopping red-head who they ripped off from the secretary on NewsRadio rather than the clumsy dumb-luck lead of Susan. Not that you man-hop or anything, but Vicky was definitely the most sarcastic cast member and as a bonus she has that great propensity for incredibly loud clothing. I was thinking that CK might be Seinfeld because it’s not really about anything and i was trying to explain what it was about to a random friend this weekend and failed miserably. However, based on my general aura of banality and my relentless guest-appearances on other blogs, i think i’m much closer to The Weber Show. Blech. But, better than Charles in Charge, i suppose.
So, last night i saw Final Fantasy with some friends. Actually, with three couples. Have you ever been to a totally full movie theatre with three couples and you all by your lonesome? It’s fun, you ought to try it some time, especially if you’re emotionally masochistic. But, anyway, i’ve known all about the FF movie since it first went into production, and i suppose the whole time i was assuming it would be glossy and plastic-coated like a Pixar movie from Disney, with a few scattered long shots of spectacular views mixed in. However, i was wrong.
Visually Final Fantasy was as stunning and vivid as any science fiction movie i’ve ever seen, and everything looked real. The characters were slightly glossy at mid-distances, but tight shots revealed stray strands of hair, beads of sweat, and even pores. I lost track somewhere along the way of how long the film was in production, but i am of the opinion that it’s the most important achievement in film computer graphics to this date in it’s cohesive integration of realistic graphics, digital camera work, and amazing shots that could never be achieved with real actors.
The Spirits Within didn’t have a darn thing to do with any of the FF games and it really didn’t bother me all that much; sci-fi sells at theatres right now but magic is still dicey business (although, after the response i saw the the LotR trailer that could be due for a change). While i’m of the opinion that the movie was just banking on Square’s big franchise just for the name (and, did anyone else notice that the “Square Pictures” logo was cast again a rectangle?), i think that the post-apocalyptic setting, the spirits set adrift, and the skepticism of the human government tied it to the theme of games. However, there was a definite lack of toe to toe fighting the yielded any kind of results, and there really wasn’t much of a “party” of characters so much as there was a group of extras like those who usually die at the beginning of games (as in FF6).
The amazing thing about the movie was that it was sci-fi for an attentive audience… slow in development but engaging in every scene – with a little science but not so much that your suspense of disbelief was challenged. On the downside, the plot of the movie tried to explain more than it had to as it neared its end and as a result it could have used some tightening (just like all of the American games to date, ). However, it wasn’t so horrible that i would single out any one aspect of it that wasn’t effective. Small challenges in the plot did undermine later aspects of the story, including: a lack of explanation of Aki & Grey’s relationship prior to the film, a very generalized look at “spirits” that seem contrived only because Aki was the first one, and an ending that couldn’t decide when to stop killing off options for the characters so that it could resolve. However, the movie successfully avoided the worst and most trite sci-fi gimmicks, which left the audience with some unpredictable results.
Despite my mostly glowing review, and the fact that i am definitely seeing the movie a second time, i got the sense that the vast majority of the audience was wholly underwhelmed by the film. Action flick fans will be sorely disappointed by this plot-heavy flick, and too many fans were expecting eye candy in the vein of giant explosions and characters with multiple heads and arms – but this wasn’t a George Lucas film so we were treated to some quality visuals that weren’t all money shots. However, while exiting the theate i heard the following: “Yeah, The Spirits Within. Cause, The Phantom Menace was already taken. Didn’t some of those phantoms sorta look like Jar Jar?” To each his own, i suppose… i’d take this film over Episode 1 any day. Twice.
mocha chocolata ya ya…
Oh, erm, i’m sorry, was that me singing? I somehow (don’t ask) wound up purchasing the Moulin Rouge soundtrack today on my lunchbreak, arguably to hear Nicole Kidman’s singing since she’s one of my all-around favourite movie stars and since both her and Ewan McGregor reportedly got signed to record contracts after promos of the soundtrack started floating around. David Bowie is also all over this disc with a new song, Beck covering “Diamond Dogs,” and a verse of “Heroes” inexplicably getting plugged into “Elephant Love Medly.” The first is incredibly scrumptious with Bowie literally crooning over a lush orchestral arrangement that accompanies the majority of the songs on the disc. However, Beck’s “Diamond Dogs” is an atrocity that only his general aura of coolness can make up for.
But, anyhow, i keep coming back to “Lady Marmalade,” not because i’m a pop music whore, but because it’s girl power. Four of today’s youngest and most recognizable voices in pop music on one great song that deserved a remake just so that people would know the name of the song that they’re quoting when they say “voulez vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?” It’s like Whitney Houston’s solid-gold remake of “I’m Every Woman” times four and with Christina Aguliera actually slutted up appropriately for the content of the song. And, hello, where the fuck did Pink get that voice? I’m honestly thinking about buying a Pink album (i mean, she is from Philly… of course, i haven’t laid down cash for the first Eve disc yet, and i love that). But, anyhow, aside from the overpowering midi-bass/guitar sampler backing up the song it’s really excellent (listen to the way those drums snap!) and i’m sure i’ll have Christina’s vocal part down to a science in a week or two. And, listening to Lil’ Kim sing here and there is really funny.
So, i’m sitting here wrapped in a towel listening to something from Billboard’s top40 and playing Snood and contemplating how i just got cast in two plays that involve me making out on stage. A lot. Didn’t i mention that earlier? Oh well, now you have to wait until rehearsal’s over. -xoxox
Today was the slowest and most intensly boring day of my life and i got nothing done. Nothing. Not a single iota. Blah. I’ve been sitting here for hours doing nothing and wondering about what i could be doing, but that amounted to just doing laundry, and i wasn’t too pleased about that. Of course, i won’t be too pleased if i have to go commando tomorrow for lack of clean underwear, but i’ll burn that bridge while attempting to cross it (and i’m sure that the burning process will involve an automatic hand-dryer on the 2nd floor of the main building the men’s room and a very wet pair of underwear. but, seriously, i have underwear for tomorrow, so don’t worry).
By the way, i’ve whored out all of my musical opinions to other places, but that can’t stop me from telling you that the Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs: Vol. 1 is the most totally confusing, unexpected, and utterly perfect album i own. And, i don’t even really need the whole thing, just 2/3 of it. Even more frighteningly, Rabi and several other credible witnesses claim Vol. 3 is the one that will change my life, and i don’t think i’m ready for any further alterations at this point so i’m sticking with Vol. 1 with some occasional flirtations with Vol. 2 (kisses without any tongue, at the most…).
Incidentally, 69 and the eclecticism therein was one of the main inspirations for 25/24… not that i’m going to be eclectic in any way shape or form, but i’d like to think i’m capable of it. And there might be a surprise or two in there somewhere. But, yes, i just realized i have a whole album of new songs and i’m making an unalbum with them. You’ve heard them all mentioned here at one time or another save for the first and last songs, “Atlas Girl” and “Necessary Evil.” The latter i wrote last week and fell instantly in adoration with, and i debuted it to my happy little mailing list to absolutely zero reaction. Yay for happy little captive mailing lists that don’t talk back unless you tell them they should probably talk back. Meanwhile. “Atlas” was a song i wrote for Gina (and i don’t know if i mean that i wrote it for her to sing or if i wrote it for her, but it’s definitely one or the other) the first week we were living at Drexel and it’s pretty and simple and i haven’t played it for well over a year and a half or even thought of it and when i saw it on Saturday i knew that it was a good thing i had saved it. Simple and pretty wouldn’t have stood up to the Crashing/UMS combo i had going a little later that year, but it fits in nicely right now.
Rambling on into the sunset we go. I wrote a song in my head while walking home today but scrapped it because it was clearly a pop song because i could hear its tinny little drum machine percolating in my head. I have written 125 songs that i am willing to count as songs, and that leaves quite a few tinny misfires. And it’s been four years? I wonder if i’ll even know the (three) chords to Under My Skin in four years? I’m sure i’ll have had a wonderful devestating crush to replace UMS by then, though.
Ha, devestating crushes. Teri off at boot camp where i can only send her flat little packages, Laurel in Belfast where she doesn’t like me any more than when she’s here in Philly, and some other people. Bleh. At least they make me write songs… as if i have these girls walking back and forth in my brain in a terrible parody of Herman’s Head and every so often they dislodge a tiny idea just like when you unwedge the water from your ears after a particularly long swim. Songs have been like that lately… falling out of my mouth as if i had just swallowed them by accident and now i’m coughing them up again. Ahh… songs as hairballs… there’s an image to stick with you.
I obviously need to go to sleep, but first i will listen to the romantic masterpieces known as “Let’s Pretend We’re Bunny Rabbits” and “Fido, Your Leash is Too Long.” Love songs aren’t so horrible when they’re vaguely bestial, i suppose. And, after all, nibbling on your ears and doing what bunnies do isn’t the most unromantic suggestion in my entire music collection.
Wow, i needs me some sleepies. night.