Monday, June 30, 2008

A nice weekend out of town

I spent this past weekend in Long Beach, Wash., with my friend Elana's family. We hiked, played Taboo, swam, played water basketball and tetherball, grilled veggie skewers, chicken, and veggie dogs, saw two lighthouses on Cape Disappointment, splashed around Waikiki Beach (so named, supposedly, because a Hawaiian sailor once washed up on its shores), and just generally had a nice time. It was exactly what I needed after a tough week. The picture above is of Ari, the lovable Kupor dog.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A new Coldplay song that isn't "Violet Hill" or "Viva La Vida"

Not too shabby. Reminds me a bit of "The Scientist" (from A Rush of Blood to the Head), except that this is obviously a bit happier.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

R.I.P., George

In other news, Crooks and Liars draws our attention to David Brooks' truly ridiculous op-ed piece on Obama. Looking for stuff that is worth reading? The New Yorker has been running strong political profile pieces (PPPs?) lately, including one on Nixonian dirty trickster Roger Stone (check that freakin' photo!) and another on MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann, also known as the boil on Bill O'Reilly's ass.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Best child performance of the year: Catinca Untaru

The Romanian actress is 11 now, but she was several years younger when The Fall was filmed, and she plays a curious, persistent, intelligent 5-year-old with such naturalistic grace that she gives her grown-up co-star, Lee Pace, a run for his money. And say what you will about the movie's style-over-substance issues, The Fall has one of the loveliest, most unexpected endings I've seen in years. It sags a bit in parts, in terms of both plot and pace, but the good outweighs the bad. And Untaru alone is worth the price of admission.

Reed photographed a baby pug with his cell phone

'Twas at Roq La Rue in Belltown. What a cutie.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It sucks to be... someone without tickets to "Avenue Q"

Luckily, I saw it Wednesday night. And it's delightful.

In other news: My quarterlife crisis has an astrological explanation.

Happy almost-Solstice, everyone!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Seven songs of spring

I picked up this prompt from Michael's blog:
List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring.

Here's my response:

Rihanna (feat. Jay-Z), "Umbrella" -- It sometimes takes me a while to discover things other people have known about for a long time. This song is one such thing. I didn't really appreciate it until I heard it all the way through; then I promptly bought it from iTunes. It's beautiful.

Weezer, "Pork and Beans" -- One of the best things about having a car is listening to the radio on a regular basis again. (Not having a job also makes it easier to get a lot of radio time in, but I digress.) When I heard Weezer's new single on The End (go ahead, make fun of me), I didn't think much of it. Then I saw the video, which I blogged about previously and love dearly. Now, when I hear "Pork and Beans" on the radio (always, always on The End), I think fondly of Weezer's sweet homage to the heroes of YouTube. Not coincidentally, the song has kind of grown on me, too. It's 10,000 times better than "Beverly Hills," for sure.

Coldplay, "Violet Hill" -- Since I trashed Coldplay in the Weekly a couple years back, I was surprised to find myself buying one of the two singles from the band's forthcoming album. I didn't buy "Violet Hill," though; I bought "Viva la Vida," and if you ask me why, I can point to the Brian Eno production (and avoid talking about the amazingly bad lyrics). "Violet Hill," however, won't relent; it follows me around on my daily travels (again, thanks to The End), and I have to admit that while the song is very ordinary (and lacks the dazzling production that might have effectively hidden its ordinariness), the quiet coda is lovely.

Manu Chao, "Me Gustas Tu" -- The song's musical foundation strongly resembles that of other Manu Chao songs (including "Desaparecido," the first of his songs I ever heard), and it's basically a list song, but the cleverness and creativity of the lyrics parks it squarely between familiarity and novelty, which I appreciate.

R.E.M., "Supernatural Superserious" -- Speaking of the sweet spot between familiarity and novelty, this song sounds like a decent number of other R.E.M. songs, so at first I basically dismissed it. But yet again, thanks to the radio, I began noticing nuances (like the subtle way the story sinks in after several listens, and the weirdly satisfying way Michael Stipe doesn't say the title phrase until the very end). I put it on a mix for Emily recently, so now she's got it stuck in her head, too.

Beirut, "Nantes" -- I liked Beirut before I heard the first song on the band's latest album, but I was intrigued by the way this one creeps in, sounding less organic and geographically traceable than most Beirut songs. "Nantes" also showcases Zach Condon's vocals more prominently than his previous work did, a trend that continues, off and on, throughout the album (The Flying Club Cup). Anyway, when I heard this song as I was hanging up my clothes, I thought: "This is such unapologetically nostalgic music, and I'm such a nostalgic person." What can I say? Good fit.

Bruce Springsteen, "Highway Patrolman" -- This could have been one of several Springsteen songs, including "Hungry Heart" and "The Ghost of Tom Joad." Thanks to the library, I've been exploring the Boss fairly extensively, and I like him a whole lot. (Ditto for Bob Dylan, incidentally.) I've only heard "Highway Patrolman" three times, and two of those times I was listening to the Dar Williams cover of it. It's a great story; I wasn't surprised when I read, in Wikipedia, that someone made a movie based on it.

This nerdy man really knows how to roll a burrito

Wisecracks aside, I have a lot to learn from people like Ben Kurtzman. My burrito-rolling skill set isn't what it should be.

I survived the Suffocator!

We conquered the mighty Wenatchee this weekend, a group of three dozen people and I. A few of us pitched in to get a CD with 60 photos of our trip, so I'll hopefully be able to replace the picture above, a generic image from the rafting company's site, with one of our group. Also look for a rafting photo album soon on my Facebook page. Trip highlights: playing with friendly dogs, eating S'mores, having Käsespätzle at Cafe Christa in Leavenworth, and experiencing a wave known as the Suffocator. Good times.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The new Guy Maddin film

Looks like a winner.

Oberlin does an alumnus proud

I know I'm always proud of my alma mater, but here's yet another reason to be.

In other news, I saw the new Werner Herzog documentary, in which the director -- whose droll, kindly, German-accented narration is the cinematic equivalent of comfort food for me -- makes good on his promise to present images of penguins quite different from those on display in March of the Penguins. Also, there's a big volcano and a woman who can fit in a carry-on bag.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Know thine enemy

From a hot-off-the-presses New York Review of Books article:
[Cliff] Schecter, a freelance liberal commentator who contributes frequently to The Huffington Post, recounts, for the first time, a tale—confirmed to him, he writes, by three Arizona reporters—that in 1992, after Cindy McCain teased her husband about his thinning hair, McCain snapped at her, in front of the reporters and two staffers: "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you c—." One wonders if on such occasions she reminds her husband who it was that made his political career possible. She has recently called the idea that her husband has a temper "a concoction."