roll me up

that flag looks familiar

a little flavor from home

Carmel is a weird place to see Willie Nelson, which we did last night. Then again, his show was sold out, so maybe the disconnect isn’t that great. Plenty of rich people like weed and songs about weed and seeing artists who smoke weed and who recently released a song called Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die featuring Snoop Dogg singing about being smoked like weed postmortem.

I bought our tickets months ago, before we moved, somehow knowing we’d be ready for a little Texas flavor one month into our California residency. Sure enough, during Willie’s first song, the Texas flag came rolling out. And I felt…recognition. Not state pride, exactly. More like:

Hey. I know them. I should say hi. But what if they don’t remember me. Eh, fuck it. Let’s go.

If that makes any sense.

Willie’s son’s band opened. Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. The audience didn’t really get into it (even though the band is great) until the third song, which Lukas sang just like his father. Then they started listening. The old ladies sitting behind us, who had a conversation going the entire show, were getting flustered about this cute young version of Willie. “Is he BAREFOOT?” they wondered aloud, the expensive Chardonnay fumes wafting from their Chanel-painted mouths. “He’s SOOOOO CUTE!”

Bless their hearts.

At intermission, we briefly chatted with an older cat who ended up having to take a call. He got off the phone and said, “(Woman’s name) can’t meet us. Said she’s been drinking wine for three days straight.”

Yeah.

Willie is 81 and still puts on a helluva show, though it did feel a little like an amusement park ride. One hit after another without a breath in between and very little banter. Like they needed to barrel through in order to get to the end. I get it. Life’s like that sometimes.

Come ride “WILLIE’S GREATEST HITS,” which ends in you coming to in a cloud of OG Kush wearing nothing but a red bandana.

I gotcher flow right here, buddy

each of us is unique, like a snowflake or grain of sand (though most of us aren't as cool as fat little beach dogs)

each of us is unique, like a snowflake or grain of sand (though most of us aren’t as cool as fat little beach dogs)

The recommendation came from someone I know or someone whose blog I read. I don’t remember. The book is called Finding Flow, The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life.  I had a bit of a buzz when I ordered it. You know, holding a glass of wine in one hand, scrolling around on the internet with the other, reading about what a great book this is for getting shit done. “Hey! I need to get shit done,” I thought. “Maybe this book is just what I need.”

Two things.

One, here’s an excerpt from the book. You’re gonna love it.

Leaving aside those still relatively few career women whose primary identification is with their jobs, most women who work at clerical, service and even managerial occupations tend to think of their outside job as something they want to do rather than something they have to do. Work is more voluntary for many women; it is more like play, something that they could take or leave. Many of them feel that whatever happens on the job is not that important–and thus, paradoxically, they can enjoy it more. Even if things go wrong and they are laid off it will not hurt their self esteem. As opposed to men, their self image depends more heavily on what happens to their families.

I know what you’re thinking, that this book was written shortly after WWII. Nope. Copyright is 1997. Dude teaches psychology and education at University of Chicago and, presumably, works with a few women who don’t spend all their time clutching their pearls hoping they set the crock pot at the right temperature before venturing out into the big, scary world in their sweater set and pumps.

That excerpt came more than a third of the way in, so I wasn’t suprised by it. There had been earlier warning signs that my brain tripped over (and not in a good way), but I rarely ever abandon a book. Even if it’s shitty, I keep reading. Because maybe the good part happens later. Sometimes you have to give a thing some time to develop. But I should have known this was wasted effort when, early on, Mr. Flow compares the uniqueness of human beings to snowflakes. It was the equivalent of a stale fart coming off the page. And the fart lingered, my friend. It lingered.

I finally stopped reading the book shortly after the passage above. Not because I’m angry or insulted. Just because this cat obviously isn’t talking to me.

Two, and most important, the book reminded me of something I already knew but evidently needed to be reminded of: if you’re reading books about creating or being artistic or getting shit done, you’re doing none of the above. Period. So maybe it was worth $11 to get a little knock upside the head.

Oh–just thought of a third thing: I shouldn’t order shit off the internet when I’ve been drinking.

a thanksgiveaway

I’m giving away two tickets to see Louis CK in Austin next month. I bought them when the Houston show was sold out (because I wasn’t going to miss this tour). Then he added a second Houston show (to which I scored front row seats) (yes, it was fecking awesome), so I’m giving the Austin tickets away. Maybe to you.

Here’s the deal:

  • You must live in Austin (or somewhere in Texas, if you can convince me that you’ll be able to see a late show in Austin on a Thursday night)
  • You must agree to email me a picture from the venue, preferably from your seat, the night of the show
  • You must leave a comment on this blog post telling me what your favorite Louis CK bit is (from his stand up or his series) and why – I want these tickets to go to a fan

In exchange for the above, I will email you the link to print the tickets within a few days of the show (not sending earlier than that because I don’t want them to be resold).

Here are the specific details about the show:

And…go.

UPDATE: Thanks to the three people who’ve chimed in so far. I’ll be drawing a name from a hat (or maybe a bowl) some time tomorrow. Not sure if I’ll do it in the frenzy of the morning or the drunken stupor of the evening. Either way, I’ll email the winner and post the name here.

As for the rest of you – you have at least 24 hours left to enter. Be sure to follow the simple instructions above. (There are two reasons I’m giving away these tickets in this fashion: 1. I didn’t want to have to choose from among my friends and 2. this is a chance for us to share some funny shit with each other. It’s a small price to pay to see one of the greatest comics of our generation, even if they are balcony seats…)

FINAL UPDATE: And the winner is…

Thanks for playing!

ad astra per alas porci

My radio silence of late isn’t because I’ve been trapped under something heavy and unable to reach my keyboard. I’ve been right in front of my computer a lot, actually, working on a few long shot projects. Things that have only slightly better odds of coming to fruition than the mythical flying piglet in the sky. In addition to the pain of writing artistic statements (which are always entirely more difficult to create than the project you’re writing about), I’ve also been wrestling with this new play. This bastard, assface, frustrating piece of work. And it’s winning. For now.

As is usual when I’m stuck in my own head, I seek out things to stimulate my brain and, hopefully, help me work around the mental roadblock. One great source of unending interest is the ARTISAN VIDEOS section of Reddit. It’s a joyous thing to watch skilled artists do their thing, like:

There’s something wonderfully soothing about watching people work with their hands. And there are other distractions to be found, so many things to do other than the task(s) at hand. This isn’t a video, it’s an image. A very funny image that is now the background on my work computer. It was simply titled, “I was eating some bread, when suddenly…” And while we’re on the subject of dogs, here’s a lovely homage to the dog/human relationship.

Another item I ran across recently: Henry Miller on writing. (How awesome his daily routine sounds. Writing, going to museums, reading in cafes, painting, going on walks and bike rides through unknown areas, making charts and plans.) If you click the link, you’ll notice that his first commandment about writing is “Work on one thing at a time until finished.” I would do well to follow that one.

Going to go work in the yard. Perhaps I’ll find inspiration there.

PS – the title of this post = to the stars on the wings of a pig. John Steinbeck’s motto. Don’t fuck with the Pigasus.

Friday list

Slogan for this demo/remodeling company: "No job it's too small." Wonder how much work they get...

  • Hung out with friends last weekend. Well into the evening (and the wine), someone said to me, “Is it okay if I ask you a personal question?” I always have the same answer. “Of course.” In fact, please ask me a personal question. Because it generally means shit is about to get real. I like it when we move beyond the superficiality of the day-to-day to dig into the hidden recesses. I’d tell you what the question was, but it’s personal.
  • You may have seen links to the short film Caine’s Arcade on teh internets the past week or two. If you haven’t watched it yet, do. The film is ten minutes of fantastic. While you’re watching, imagine if the dreams of all children (big ones, too) were supported in such a loving and respectful way.
  • Here’s a new literary term that I may have made up (but there are no original ideas, so maybe someone else already did): vinfictive - writing presented as fiction that is really a thinly veiled attack on people who have wronged the author in the past. A distant cousin to vaguebooking. Not my kind of writing, but it’s out there. Perhaps I should add a definition to Urban Dictionary?
  • There are a couple of other people at work who love The Band, so in honor of Levon Helm’s passing we’re going to watch The Last Waltz and raise a glass at the end of the workday. That may be the best concert film ever made. Here’s a ridiculous blog post I wrote while watching it on cable a couple of years ago (even though I own the DVD). I claimed to not be drunk, but reading it now I have my doubts.

42

There are two things I remember from the great Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: thanks for all the fish, and the meaning of life is 42. Because of this book, which I read in high school when the thought of being in my 40s was as real to me as time travel, I’ve always held my 42nd birthday (and the following year) in mind as a period when something special would occur. When I’d reach an epiphany of sorts. When I’d figure shit out. I will turn 42 on Thursday, good lord willin’, so I guess we’ll see.

Here’s a quote from Douglas Adams about his choice for the answer to the eternal question, which many people try to attribute deeper meaning to.

It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought ’42 will do.’ I typed it out. End of story.

That’s actually a pretty apt description of writing in general. You stare off into space, something pops into your head and you write it down. If you’re lucky, it works. It’s both totally magical and completely mundane. One could argue that the subconscious is at work even when it seems like the writer is grabbing bullshit out of mid-air, so it’s possible that Adams had something deeper in mind when he came up with 42. But prolly not. Sometimes a banana…

FOLLOW THE BACON (photo courtesy of the maker)

My brother, father and I have birthdays during the same week in March, and we got together this weekend to celebrate. The bookend/piece of art above is what Tohner made me for my birthday. FOLLOW THE BACON has multiple meanings in our family, from a culinary modus operandi to a way of looking at life. Those meanings take this piece beyond being something useful and fun to look at and morph it into a bigger symbol of shared history, where we are now and hopes for the future.

Tohner said he wasn’t exactly sure what he was going to do with the tile when he bought it, but he knew he had to make something for me with it. And he had the faith to know that inspiration would come to him. That’s what separates artists from non-artists – trusting yourself enough to act on instinct, knowing that the rest will follow. Believing that maybe 42 is the answer to everything and that some day pigs will fly, despite all evidence to the contrary.

it even smells the same

Sadly, I'm still looking for a fuzzy pumper.

Last weekend was my nephew Rowan’s third birthday. Now that he’s getting a little older, buying presents for him is becoming more fun. Instead of ironic baby tee shirts that reference my youth and not his, I can now buy him fun toys (that also reference my youth). What I mean is, I’m now able to give him shit that I want to play with.

Case in point: for his birthday we gave him a bunch of Play-Doh (24 different colors, if you can imagine that) (even black, for the goth kids) and a collection of molds to make camping stuff (logs for the fire, hamburger, hot dog, fish, bugs, bear shitting in the woods, Unabomber). What started as an effort to engage Rowan in his new toys at his birthday party turned into me hoarding the cooler molds and colors and elbowing everyone else out of the way.

Who knew playing with Play-doh would still be so fun? And surprisingly gratifying? Tohner made a good point – with Play-Doh, you’re not really worried about the final product. It’s a temporary thing you’re creating just long enough to go, “Hey look! I made a purple spider with blue eyes!” before smashing it all together in your fist. I love doing stuff with my hands, but I’m usually working toward some end game. With the Play-doh, it is all about the experience. Would it be creepy if I bought a set for our house? I could always say it’s for when the kids visit.

Oh, and it still smells exactly the same. Even though it’s probably made in China from lead and asbestos now.

PS (unrelated) – Why is there a cartoon Napoleon Dynamite? That just seems like a bad idea all the way around.

Friday list

you don't know me but I'm your specter

James and I saw Michael McDonald a couple of months ago. Though we were close enough to easily see sweat beads on the various performers, I was unable to capture a good shot of MMcD. Everyone else would show up just fine, but he was all white. Like a ghost. Perhaps his deep, soulful voice comes from beyond?

In sort-of related news, did you know that the Doobie Brothers were on What’s Happening!!? Seems the Doobie Bros were playing at the local high school, and Raj was trying to bootleg their concert. Hijinks ensue. Episodes like this made me actually believe that might happen at my small town high school some day. If I recall, I think I sent a letter to ZZ Top asking them to play our prom. I probably don’t have to tell you–that didn’t happen. Instead, we had a Whitesnake song as our prom theme. Yeah.

Here’s a solution to getting slow walkers out of your way. Would it work in Houston where there aren’t a whole lot of bike riders? I don’t know, but I like the fact that people in grocery stores and on escalators (presumably places without bike traffic, even in Japan) get out of the way too. Maybe everyone is trained to move when a bell is rung.

I adore this series of photos. NSFW, I guess, because there’s very slight nudity (tittays) in one. A photographer recreated decades-old photos using the same people. “It’s imagining how people would feel and look like if they were to reenact them today,” says the photographer. So wonderful to recognize the child in the adult. A good reminder to reconnect with our youthful selves. (By the way, the guy in the first photos looks like a different Michael McDonald–the one who was on MadTV.)

Mr. Mooney and the n-word

Conversation with James earlier today:

Crystal:   Hey. Mooney is at the Improv this weekend. Wanna go?
James:    Do you know if he’s using the n-word again?
Crystal:   That’s a good question. I don’t know.

Allow me to explain. I’m a big Paul Mooney fan. I didn’t get hip to his work until Chappelle’s Show. Or, I should say, I didn’t know his name until Chappelle’s show. I’ve been enjoying his work my entire life, starting with his collaborations with Richard Pryor, moving through In Living Color and then Chappelle’s Show. I recently read his memoir Black is the New White (which is partially Richard Pryor’s biography) and learned he’s had a hand in even more of the haha than I’d realized.

(side note: Did you know that, in addition to co-writing the script, Pryor was supposed to play the sheriff in Blazing Saddles? Only the producers considered him too controversial for the role and went with Cleavon Little instead? Maybe everyone knows that. I didn’t until reading Mooney’s book.)

I’ve seen Mooney perform quite a few times over the past seven or eight years. The first time I saw him was epic. It was his second set on a Saturday night. He was feeling his oats, I guess, because it was the longest I’ve ever seen a stand up comic perform. (Actually, Mooney tends to perch on the edge of a stool, so he’s more of a leaning comic than a stand up.) I can’t remember now how long he was up there – I think it approached (or maybe exceeded) two hours. We could see the red light from where we were sitting, and it was glowing for a good 30 minutes. Then the management of the club started fucking with the lights and his mic level trying to get him off stage. It was like, the more they were trying to tell him it was time to wrap it up, the more determined he was to keep going. So he kept going.

Regarding the conversation James and I had this morning: after Michael Richards (Kramer) went crazy with the n-word at a comedy club, Mooney decided he would quit saying the word completely. This might not be a big deal for some people, but Mooney used it liberally throughout his speech. Like salt on popcorn. Constant. The last time I saw him was the first time since his self-inflicted boycott, and, man, did it interrupt his flow. It seemed like he must have had a constant loop running in his brain reminding himself not to say it, and that was providing distraction from what he was doing on stage. It would be like me eradicating “fuck” from my repertoire. Doable, but at what cost to pacing?

That was a couple of years ago, so it’s probably better now. Anyway. It’s a funny thing to wonder about another human being.

UPDATE: Saw Mr. Mooney at the Improv last night. His flow, it is back.

in media res

Remember when I used to write in this blog regularly? I really liked doing that, and I miss it a lot. One reason for the low blogging output is because I changed jobs and haven’t been writing over my lunch break. I could do it, but I just haven’t felt moved to. One difference is location. Instead of being in the back corner of the building in my own office (which often featured a closed door and my bad attitude), I’m in the middle of a somewhat bustling office full of high energy people. I’m too busy interacting with them to sit quietly and write in this thing. And we’re pretty freaking busy, so it just doesn’t seem right to write some bullshit here when I could be working. I need to get back in the habit of blogging at night after a couple of glasses of wine. That’s when the good shit comes out anyway.

The hold up with that plan? The blogging at night? We recently got Uverse. All of the channels. Until getting Uverse, television was background noise while surfing the web or writing. I rarely actually watched anything, you know, with both eyeballs and my brain. Then came Uverse. Beyond the fact that we have access to a number of channels I’ve never had before (HBO, Showtime, etc.), the on demand selections are pretty spectacular. For instance, when I’m done writing this, I’m going to watch American: The Bill Hicks Story. And I will watch it with both eyeballs and my brain and will not have my laptop in my lap.

Something you should watch with your eyeballs/brain is Louie. It’s the best thing on television. If you aren’t watching it already, get on that. It’s on FX, but if you don’t have cable (or if you don’t have a television, which you tell people as often as possible) you can also watch it for free on Hulu. If you don’t at least try Louie, I’m not sure we can continue our relationship. Come on. Give it a shot. If you don’t like it, I’ll give you your money back. (I realize I’m late to this game as the show is in the middle of its second season – if you’ve been watching from the get-go, well goody for you.)

Okay, I’m off to watch the Bill Hicks movie and fantasize that in another life, I was a stand up comic.

Oh – speaking of stand up comics – check out the Whiskey Brothers podcasts. They are four Houston-based comics who are equal opportunity offenders. While they are always funny as shit, I’ve actually found myself cringing at some of the things they say (no small feat – I’m not what you would call sensitive). A couple of weeks ago I started listening to their podcasts on the way to/from work instead of listening to music, and my already short commute flies by. Most of the time, they make me laugh at least five times on the way to work. I’m talking a for real, laugh out loud, hearty guffaw. It’s a great way to get the brain juiced up before having to interact with people. I do wonder if any of the other people on their way to work think I’m crazy to be driving down the road, alone, laughing. Perhaps they think I’m watching a DVD or masturbating.

The Whiskey Brothers purposely stay away from politics, but pretty much any other topic is fair game. They will go from talking about Britney Spears’ vajayjay in one segment to how it’s bullshit that a restaurant isn’t letting in children under six years old in another segment. What I’m saying is, if they’re going off on something (boxing, my god, the boxing) that you don’t find interesting, just give it a few minutes. They’re bound to engage/enrage/enthrall you with the next item on the list. And repeat visitors are rewarded with knowing the inside jokes that move from one podcast to the next.

But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

tribute to Stephen Adams this Friday

Picture Book is hosting a musical tribute to the life and legacy of Stephen Adams this Friday in the back yard of the Continental Club, starting around 8PM. Picture Book features a couple of guys who played with Stephen Adams in the Dreambreakers, and for this special show they will call on other local musicians to sit in with them.

If you love the Beatles, BeeGees, Who, Buffalo Springfield, CCR, Stones, Animals, Kinks, Troggs, Dave Clark Five, Strawberry Alarm Clark and more from the ’60s, come check out this show. And if you knew Stephen Adams, you should definitely be in attendance. I think there will be opportunities for people to share stories if they feel so moved.

This will be a fitting tribute as the only appropriate way to say goodbye to him is through music.

Wonder if anyone will be able to pull off this song? Stephen Adams would often close a show solo, singing this and strumming his guitar as people were heading to their cars and the bartender was closing out the register. It was heart breaking enough when he sang it…

(a quick) Friday list

yeah, you know you're jealous

Before getting to the Friday list, I wanted to share with you the awesomeness that entered my life just a few minutes ago. Today over lunch my department had its much-belated holiday party, which included a white elephant gift exchange. I was able to pass along the gaudy necklace I received at a white elephant earlier this month, and through some negotiating today am now going home with the item you see above. Yes, that is a knitted armadillo holding an old can (pull tab) of Lone Star Light. What is sad is that, while everyone at the table was remarking about how gaudy it was, all I could think was, “Man, that’ll go great in my house.” Draw your own conclusions.

On to the short list (because my lunchtime is over):

  • If you want to do some traveling in the US or abroad but don’t have much money and aren’t weirded out by sleeping in a stranger’s house, check out couch surfing. You sign up on this site as a couch host or couch sleeper, and you can basically travel all over the place without paying for overnight accommodations. They expect that the sleeper will make dinner or chip in with chores in exchange for a free place to sleep, but nothing is mandatory. And if you sleep on some creep’s couch, you can leave a shitty review of the experience to save others from having to experience a host who walks around in his underwear and offers a “back rub” in the middle of the night.
  • Posted on facebook this morning, a TED performance of Bohemian Rhapsody on ukulele. Fantastic. Looks like Houston will have another TEDxHouston conference this summer. I really enjoyed it last year and hope this year’s list of speakers is just as varied and interesting.
  • Finally, for my theatre people, check out Arena Stage’s new play blog, which is chronicling what’s happening this week at From Scarcity to Abundance, a conference about new work for the theatre. Really interesting conversations are happening about the health of today’s theatre and possibilities for the future.

lions, tigers, bears? no thanks, but I will take those shoes

I’m not what you’d call a “flashy” dresser.  But since childhood, I’ve lusted after Dorothy’s ruby slippers (actually, since they have a heel, I’d consider them pumps). I saw them – the actual shoes, or at least a pair worn in the film – in a Smithsonian exhibit at the George R. Brown Convention Center (according to the internets, this was ’96/’97). The shoes looked surprisingly small in their big lucite box, in direct contrast to the panic-inducing jaw bones on the wall that belonged to a huge shark. Or maybe it was a whale. (Even out of commission and hanging by cables, the jaw was scary – it was too easy to picture the rest of the body materializing and the whole thing coming out of the wall to bite you.) (I’ve always had this thing about drinking too much coffee.)

The Wizard of Oz came on once a year during my childhood. This was back in the dark ages before it was easy to buy a copy or just download it online. We were all offline back then…and using a dial to enter phone numbers… It was a big deal when the film aired, as it was when the various Peanuts holiday-themed specials, the Burl Ives Christmas stuff and the once a year broadcast of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory came on. If you missed one of those, you had to wait an entire year for the chance to see it again. I still try to catch the Peanuts specials each year, though Great Pumpkin is my least favorite.

I’m forty, so that means I’ve seen The Wizard of Oz at least, I don’t know, 30 times? It’s on more often than once per year now, so maybe that number is even higher. (Side note: I once watched Dark Side of the Rainbow at Alamo Drafthouse – you start Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon on the third roar of the lion in the opening credits of The Wizard of Oz, and there are supposed to be these amazing coincidences between album and movie. You could probably combine any album with any movie and have the same thing happen, but it was cool just the same.)

The The Wizard of Oz was on Friday night. After, as I lay in bed and couldn’t sleep, I kept thinking about the movie. And those shoes. Tried to imagine how I could wear sparkling ruby shoes and not look like a jackass. I didn’t come up with the solution, but I’m not giving up quite yet. Then I thought about the field of poppies, where Toto, Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion all fall asleep. And how the Tinman and Scarecrow don’t fall asleep. And I wondered why that was. Then I foggily recalled a history course in which the professor discussed the “true” meaning of The Wizard of Oz. You mean, it’s not just about a chick who travels via tornado to a magical world with midgets and flying monkeys? Huh.

You know, sometimes a banana is just a banana.

But I did wonder about that poppy field. So I looked around online. Here’s a chunk of information devoted to potential interpretations of the entire story. Though the poppy field is mentioned in virtually every discussion about the film/book, few sites address why the Scarecrow and Tinman don’t succumb. I guess it’s the obvious answer, then. Because they aren’t “living” creatures but instead creations of man. I don’t like that interpretation because, to the audience, to me, they’re as real as everyone else in the story. They’re as real as the flying monkeys are.

Last year was the film’s 70th anniversary, and in celebration some shoe designers presented updates of the ruby shoes. Evidently most of them think that, instead of being a simple farm girl, Dorothy is actually a hooker. I can’t imagine walking five steps in most of those shoes, much less following the yellow brick road in them.

I wrote about The Wizard of Oz last summer and said this:

If The Wizard of Oz were made today, instead of sweet little Judy Garland in the lead it would be someone like Miley Cyrus, and she’d be wearing short shorts and cowboy boots while nipping out a tube top (but would, of course, have a “heart of gold”). The Scarecrow would be JayZ, the Tinman would be Lady Gaga and the Cowardly Lion would be The Rock. I would not see this movie.

I stand by that statement.

Dave Chappelle, I miss you

I don't have a picture of Chappelle, so here's my autographed Paul Mooney DVD - I didn't have cash to buy the DVD, so he let me write him a check - I made a copy of the cancelled check he endorsed (because I'm a dork)

My Thanksgiving-related chores are done (casserole = made, pie = cooling), so I’m watching a bit of the boob tube and slipping into my four-day weekend. Chappelle’s Show is on Comedy Central right now. Even though I own both seasons on DVD and have watched each episode almost to the point of being able to recite sketches from memory, I’m always excited to see the show. It’s the best sketch comedy that’s been on TV in years. Decades. Ever? Possibly.

I thank Dave Chappelle for introducing me to Paul Mooney and for repeatedly showing how you can talk about relevent social issues in a meaningful way while still being funny as shit. I wrote for a sketch comedy troupe a long time ago, and I remember during that experience trying to balance writing about something other than sex and drugs while still being funny to a drunk, often male, audience. Not the easiest thing in the world.

According to legend, part of the downfall of Chappelle’s Show was the fact that sketches such as the one featuring the line, “I’m Rick James, bitch,” hounded Chappelle, even when he was doing stand up and not shooting the show. Drunk frat boys in the audience would repeatedly yell the line at him, hoping to get a glimpse of the character they’d seen on TV instead of understanding that Chappelle is a comedian and not an actor who just repeats catchphrases. It’s like a band that’s made 20 albums being heckled to play their radio hit from the first album, something they don’t even relate to as artists anymore. The Rick James shit was funny, sure, but it was just part of a larger body of work and not necessarily related to his stand up at all. So Chappelle began to feel like the audience he’d respected enough to get his point were, in fact, too fucking stupid to understand what he was saying. So he walked away.

The walking away only adds to my respect for him. Sure, it wasn’t the most professional way to handle the situation. Sure, it led people to suggest he had a drug problem. I mean, who could walk away from fifty million dollars, right? Only a crazy person. Because money is the most important thing in the world. But he said fuck it. He said he wasn’t going to create corporatized comedy to make the frat boys laugh, and he’s stayed true to his word. He still does comedy clubs occasionally. I’m waiting for him to come to Houston so I can go see him. If anyone yells “I’m Rick James, bitch,” I will silence them with my death glare.

Anyway. If I had to name artists who have impacted my writing, Chappelle is close to the top of the list. Which would mean little to him, but it means a lot to me.

paranoia, waltzing

I STILL want to believe

Watching the tail end of an X-Files rerun on Chiller tonight. I was crazy about that show back in the day. In fact, in an embarrassing admission of my (continued) nerddom, I have an I Want to Believe poster behind my desk at home (see above). That’s not an old picture. I took it tonight. I’ll spare you the fangirl gushing. I only mention it because it seems the series’ constant paranoia is much more suited to today’s reality than when it originally aired. Or maybe my perspective has changed. Actually, I’m sure it has.

Wow, banner night on the old cable TV this evening. Now The Last Waltz is on. One of my favorite films. Top 5 for sure. Levon Helm is the coolest cat. Robbie Robertson is hot. Richard Manuel is kooky, bless his heart. Rick Danko is charming. The music is fucking awesome. Best concert film ever? Yes. Dude, Scorsese directed it. Ridiculous guest artists – Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison in a jumpsuit. Wish I’d been there – Thanksgiving night at Winterland in San Francisco in 1976. What I mean is, I wish I could have been there at this age – not when I was only 6 years old. Though I might have enjoyed it then, too.

Joni Mitchell is on stage now. A lot of her songs (most of them?) are about distant men who don’t want to be tied down and have other women in their lives. Wonder if she sings about the men she’s encountered or if she’s singing about herself?

Sorry. I’ll spare you the The Last Waltz blow-by-blow. Back to whatever you were doing.

Mannish Boy. I’m a rolling stone. Man. I’m a hoochie coochie man.

Sorry. Really, I’m done now.

UPDATE: Not done yet, evidently. Van Morrison is on now – he’s not wearing a jumpsuit as I reported earlier. He’s in a purple pantsuit with rhinestones. You can imagine how, even after seeing this film at least 30 times, I could confuse a jumpsuit with a pantsuit in my memory. Both are not made of natural fibers, and both are too tight. Turn up your radio. Your RAD-E-OH.

PS – I’ve had some wine, but I am not drunk. Just for the record.

you say potato, I say don’t point that crazy at me

the view from the sanitarium

  • I realized/remembered/was reminded yesterday that I can deal with crazy and I can deal with aggressive, but I really have a hard time dealing with crazy AND aggressive from the same person at the same time. It gets my back up. And makes me aggressive. But not crazy.
  • Happy to hear that Joe’s is back in business. I loved their cheesesteak and look forward to being reunited with it.
  • If The Wizard of Oz were made today, instead of sweet little Judy Garland in the lead it would be someone like Miley Cyrus, and she’d be wearing short shorts and cowboy boots while nipping out a tube top (but would, of course, have a “heart of gold”). The Scarecrow would be JayZ, the Tinman would be Lady Gaga and the Cowardly Lion would be The Rock. I would not see this movie.
  • For two days of my recent vacation, I made beaded jewelry. As I was working on, like, my 10th or 11th bracelet, it occurred to me that it was like I was in a sanitarium where they give you crafts to occupy your time while your brain heals. I guess that’s sort of what vacations are for, right? I blame this thought on you, D.D.
  • When logging in to an account on my phone, I accidentally typed “cryhack” instead of “cryjack.” Sometimes I wonder if my brain is fucking with me.

performance art

Typically, performance art isn’t my “thing.” It usually leaves me feeling dumb that I wasn’t able to figure out what the person was trying to communicate. Or ripped off that I just paid money to watch someone take a dump on stage. (side note: I’ve never paid money to see someone take a dump on stage) (further side note: nor have I watched someone take a dump on stage for free) (at least not literally) So I was skeptical when I clicked a link on twitter that brought me to a slideshow of the artist/participants in a performance going on at the MOMA in NYC.

The Artist is Present
was performed for three months (it closed today) in a lobby of the MOMA. Marina Abramovic (the artist) sat in a chair for seven hours every day. Across from her was another chair, upon which museum visitors sat. They did not touch, they did not speak. They just sat across from each other, the visitor remaining in the chair for however long they desired. In addition to there being a live feed, a photographer snapped one shot of each visitor (the shots are posted on flickr) with occasional snaps of Marina interspersed.

I watched the live feed for a few minutes and found the intensity of two people staring at each other in a non-angry/non-passionate way very interesting. Think about the people in your life – if you are staring into their eyes for any great length of time, chances are you’re fighting with them, having sex with them or they just got back from a long trip and you thought you’d never see them again. So to have two strangers in a public space taking 8, 30, 60 minutes or more to sit a couple of feet apart and just…gaze is quite interesting.

But what I find more interesting is what you see when you look through the snapshots of the visitors. People had very different reactions to being in the chair. Some laughed, some cried, some were overly fashionable, some seemed bored while others were quite moved. Some seemed to have lost they damn mind. Others were Lou Reed. One super creepy guy sat with her an entire day and then continued to show up with stalkerish regularity. (he’s supposedly a makeup artist who felt like making himself part of the art) (he’s incredibly creepy – he sat in the chair for an entire day while other people were standing in line behind him only to not get in, which is pretty fucking obnoxious) Marina most typically looks like this. Other visitors sit on the floor and watch the proceedings.

[When I was watching the live feed a few days ago, a number of the people sitting on the floor were texting, some even talking on the phone. It's starting to feel like a number of people are doing things in life purely for the opportunity to post about it on twitter or facebook rather than for the real experience of it all. Which is just really, really sad.]

I watched the live feed for a while and was intrigued but not taken by the project. Then I started clicking through the slideshow of photos. Marina has a kind, if not exhausted, countenance and an openness about her that invites people to project the feelings they brought with them onto the situation. Judging by the number of people who had tears rolling down their faces, a lot of the participants let some emotions out of the carefully controlled containers that most people live in. Purely from the experience of having someone look them in the eye without judgment or shared history or their own desires. Interesting.

I’ve purposely not read anything about this performance (and I’m not likely to read much on accident since I just heard about it a couple of days before it closed). I don’t want to read some bullshit about what the thing means or doesn’t mean. I was surprisingly touched by looking at all of those people who were feeling something, if only for that moment, so it was an effective piece of art if just for that. Which is funny because, had someone described this to me, I would have said something snarky and dismissive.

And I wondered what my experience would have been if I’d sat in the chair. Most likely it would have gone like this: I’d sit down, blushing furiously because it all seems so ridiculous, I’d giggle nervously as I do when I’m uncomfortable, I’d look her in the eye with a slight twitch of my upper right eyelid, that would make me giggle again thinking that she noticed it, she’d continue to just look, without judgment, and I’d start to slip into the experience. Then? I don’t know. I don’t know what I’d do or how I’d feel.That’s what’s interesting about it all.

I remember throwing punches around…

…and preaching from my chair.

You know the scene in The Wizard of Oz when Toto pulls back the curtain and it’s just a little guy pulling levers and turning knobs? Of course you do. Sometimes I wish we could do that with the internet – pull back the curtain on the jackasses who use the relative anonymity of the medium to write aggressive, simplistic, lowest-common-denominator bullshit. Yes, I’ve been reading chron.com again.

I saw Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton in concert a couple of weeks ago. Winwood’s solo performance (on piano) of Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys was inspired. Worth the cost of admission. They closed out the show with Dear Mr. Fantasy (I think – that was a few scotches into the evening), which is an awesome song anyway but made moreso because of the players. On the walk back to the car I spotted a guy in a Satellite Lounge tee shirt. Don’t see those too often [removes hat and lowers eyes briefly].

After my blog about noisy flip-flop wearers, a few coworkers half-jokingly asked if I was writing about them. Evidently there’s a bit of flip-flop guilt floating about my office. Also, evidently more coworkers than I realized read my blog.

some artists are assholes

So Michael Jackson died, and some people are getting pissed about the tributes that have come his way since his passing. “But he was a pedophile!” they cry, angry at the people who talk about the genius of Thriller or Human Nature or She’s Out of My Life. To their self-righteous “anger” I say: If we had to base what art we enjoy on the personal (alleged) proclivities of the artist, we’d be severely limited in our options. I love reading Bukowski’s ramblings about pussy, alcohol and stinky apartments, but that doesn’t mean I’d like to hang out with him or let my daughter date him. (Side note: I probably WOULD like to hang out with Bukowski, so maybe that wasn’t the best example, but I’ll bet a lot of the sensitive hipster guys in tight tee shirts and skinny jeans who read his books in coffee shops would be horrified to see that shit in the flesh) (especially because the women he writes about weren’t cute little Betty Page wannabes – they were as tired and ragged out as he was) (also, I don’t have a daughter)

You don’t have to want to have dinner with someone to appreciate their painting/song/play/movie/sculpture/novel. Because, seriously, have you met any artists? They can be very fucked up. Maybe not to the extreme of being accused pedophiles, but they’ve certainly been accused, and rightly so, of being megalomaniacs, alcoholics, abusers, masochists. Assholes.

Should you separate the art from the artist? Yes. Because “art” is the personal, individual, unique interaction that happens between the audience and the creation. Nothing else matters. If you don’t agree, then I hope you’re doing a shitload of homework before you go to a museum, watch a movie, listen to the radio, buy a book, go to the theatre or pop in that porn DVD. Otherwise, shut the fuck up about Michael Jackson unless he personally stuck his hand in your pants.

let’s all go to the movies, or UNPLUG you jackals

Yesterday, James and I hit a matinee showing of Drag Me to Hell. We go to the movies only about once every couple of years. It just doesn’t come up that often.

After some drama at the ticket kiosk (overly-tattooed jackass jumped in front of me in line – I said, “HOW RUDE,” he turned around like he was going to say something then saw me and James and thought better of it), we found our seats. Once the film started, there were little spots of green and blue and white hovering in the darkness. Seems some people pay money to sit in a darkened theater so they can send text messages and read their email. Then about halfway through the film, the guy in the row behind us and one seat over decided to put his bare feet on the top of the seat next to mine. Which brings me to this question:

Where the fuck did manners go?

I mean, it’s tacky to put your feet on a seat in general, but it’s really unacceptable to do so when another person’s head is mere inches from your nasty toes. There was an article in the New York Times recently (I can’t find it or I’d give you the link) about bad behavior at the theatre, which I haven’t seen in Houston too often, but I can definitely say there’s some real shitty behavior happening at the theater.

I’m amazed that no one answered a call, but I guess they didn’t have to because they were typing the entire time. The film was very entertaining – gory, gruesome and loads of fun. If that can’t keep you engaged enough to put your fucking phone up for an hour and 45 minutes, you need to reevaluate what you find interesting. Because writing twitter updates about how you’re at the movies and it’s making you LOL should be a lot less interesting than having the actual experience with no distractions. Last time I checked, you have to look down to type on your phone. Looking down during a movie kind of defeats the whole purpose, you know?

I know because I had to keep fighting the urge to look at all of the floating green, blue and white screens in my periphery.

cuh-reepy

I recently changed the route that I walk, and I realized on my walk yesterday that I was passing by this house. When I first read that it was located on Cottage, I immediately knew which house it was. A friend of mine used to live across the street from it, and it’s been in bad shape for years. I thought about peeking in the window yesterday but felt like I’d be trespassing. Today, I said what the hell. I mean, they took the innards out of the house – surely they expect people to check it out.

But evidently not too many people. The outside of the house is supported by braces since it’s unstable now that the inside is missing. I took my earbuds out (so I’d be able to hear if things got too creaky) and went up on the screened in front porch to peek inside. I was surprised at the strong emotion I felt looking at what is left of the house. I was disturbed by what I saw. It felt very…wrong for a house to be missing its insides like that. Exposed in a horrible way. I think it didn’t help that the interior of the house is in such bad shape – and obviously has been for a while – from water damage and neglect. Against the far back wall (what used to be the kitchen), an old stove teetered backwards, waiting for its trip to the dump. It was just…sad.

I couldn’t get off that porch fast enough. It was kind of like looking at a dead animal. I know that sounds melodramatic. It surprised me, too. I expected it to feel more whimsical, I guess. Something like what I felt when they did Inversion. I drove my grandfather by that piece, and we both got a good chuckle out of it. Maybe if I can get someone to go with me, I’ll check this place out again. I don’t expect it’ll ever feel whimsical, but it might not be as surprisingly bleak as it was today.

classic rock

When we were in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, I read this article in their local weekly. It showed up again in the Houston Press (though I can’t find the link now), reminding me that our “independent” weeklies are really just parts of a larger media company.

If you don’t have time to read the article, the writer is basically saying that 20/30-somethings are suffering from a cancer called classic rock. That while our parents did not listen to their dads’ Benny Goodman records when they were young, we are basically listening to our parents’ music by continuing to dig on classic rock. The writer goes so far as to call younger classic rock fans “traitors to their contemporaries.” He’s talking about this in the context of the number of classic rock radio stations that currently exist, having not gotten the memo that Clear Channel radio is what is no longer relevant.

I thought the article was funny and pretty ridiculous. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard that argument. And I’m the first to admit that most of what I listen to is anachronistic to the time in which I’m living. Or is it? As I listen to stuff like Graham Nash’s Chicago (We Can Change the World), which I downloaded off iTunes yesterday and hadn’t heard in years, the song still sounds goooooood. There are plenty of songs (probably not the one I just mentioned) that could be plucked from the archives and a modern listener who didn’t know better could believe that they were current. When I hear new bands that I like, I buy their shit. But those purchases are few and far between because I’m either not connecting to the stuff I’d like, or there just isn’t a lot from which for me to choose.

Old doesn’t equal irrelevant, just as new doesn’t equal relevant.

bead it

About a month ago, I decided to make beaded jewelry for the ladies in my life for Christmas. I took a class at Bead Atelier on N. Shepherd and learned to make these really cool hand-stitched bangle bracelets. I made, I think, 20. They took two or three hours each.

Once the holiday was over and (most of) the bracelets were passed out, my hands wanted to keep working. There’s a specific satisfaction that comes from making things by hand – a satisfaction that I don’t get from the physical activity of writing. I think because writing is mostly mental. The creativity happens in my head. When beading, the artistry is slowly exposed as each bead is added.

So I decided to keep beading. This may not seem weird to you, but it is. Because I am not a “crafty” person. In just the past 24 hours, I’ve made a completely different kind of bracelet, two necklaces and four rings (all from patterns found online). I’m not sure if I’m just going to pelt my friends/family with beaded jewelry or if I’ll actually try to sell some of this stuff. At this point, it’s all about the creation.

I had to find something to do to take up the time I used to spend drinking wine.

breasts

I had lunch at Baba Yega with a friend of mine today. We were talking about the movie Fatal Attraction and how it would be considered kind of a shitty film by today’s standards. This was the opinion of my friend – I haven’t seen that movie since the 80s, so I don’t have an opinion about it. He also mentioned that Glenn Close’s breasts in that film are a bit…deflated. I said they only look that way because so many of the breasts that appear on screen are round, plastic, unnatural looking orbs. That led to us talking about how creepy it will be as the women who got breast implants a couple of decades ago get older. Who wants to see an 80-year-old woman with perky tits? 80-year old men? Maybe. Then I said that maybe they won’t stay perky as the skin ages – they’ll just stay round. So they’ll end up with something that looks like tennis balls at the bottom of a couple of tube socks.

Literally moments after having this conversation, I saw an older lady get out of her van in the parking lot. She was wearing some kind of steel bra that had lifted her ladies up and above where nature had left them (clue number one). I had a moment to observe her because she was having a hard time getting her purse strap onto her shoulder (clue number two). She eventually did some sort of hopping jump to force the strap on, and then she straightened her shirt and entered the restaurant where her dining companion was waiting for her. Unwillingly, I noticed that her nipples were very much in evidence (clue number three). What the hell is going on here? Then I realized that she was wearing falsies and was, in fact, a man (final clue). I think that perky fake boobs are fine if they are on an older man who’s dressed as a woman. When she walked by our table, one of her shoes got caught on the rug and she tripped (but didn’t fall). I felt badly for her – she needs to practice putting her purse on her shoulder and walking in those shoes, poor dear. It’s not just about wearing the clothes – you’ve gotta walk the walk.

And look like you’re cold all the time, evidently.

want to join the fight?


In light of the increased traffic to my blog, I thought I’d extend the offer that exists on my website.

If you would like your very own Fight stupidization. sticker, send an email to crystal at cryjack dot com with your address and your plan to fight stupidization. I have about two dozen stickers left, so first-come-first-served.

What is stupidization?
Stupidization is a disorder that has been around for a long time but is reaching epidemic proportions today. From well-dressed-yet-vacuous politicians to your neighbor who always wears a bluetooth headset (even in the pool), people who are afflicted with stupidization often don’t realize they have a problem. Instead, they go about their lives – navel-gazing and mouth-breathing – not understanding there’s a big, wide world out there. A world that has more to offer than fast food, fake patriotism and gastric bypass surgery.

Who is affected by stupidization?
Though stupidization does not discriminate and can affect anyone at any time, it tends to hit certain groups harder than others. Those most susceptible include hipsters, constant text messagers, paparazzi, fake magicians with TV shows, bloviating jackasses and people who use an in-car computer to find their way to point B.

How do I fight stupidization?
Each person’s plan is unique to that person. I choose to fight stupidization by writing plays that address current societal issues in an absurd way in hopes of inciting conversation, internally or with others, among audience members. You might fight stupidization by boycotting soulless TV programs that display the worst mankind has to offer. Or throwing away that water bra and embracing your slender figure. Or realizing that a bald head just means you need to wear more sunblock. Or keeping your eyes open and paying attention to what is real while ignoring the mindless chatter that surrounds you. Or realizing that there is still hope for humanity, and we’re not necessarily on the path to destruction.

[The picture at the top of the post shows what a Fight stupidization. sticker looks like. That shot was taken moments after arriving at Grand Canyon and moments before I witnessed the most beautiful sunset ever.]

Fight stupidization on the nightly news

If you’re like me, you probably don’t watch the local news. I had to watch it tonight because I knew I was going to be on it.

No, I didn’t finally run willy-nilly through the streets, branding people’s foreheads with Fight stupidization. while yelling about the gentrification of the Heights. That is kind of expected. The reason I was on the news tonight – in an “investigative” piece no less – is because someone thinks that my playwriting ain’t art and, in fact, should not be supported by taxpayer dollars (specifically last year’s grant from the Houston Arts Alliance).

From the sleazy way that Dwayne Dolcefino talked about me, you’d think I was writing hard-core porn. Of course, he’s basing his opinion on ONE line from my last show. Why only one line? Because I only mentioned one line – the most bawdy of the evening – in my final report to HAA. Yes, that’s right. He didn’t have a hidden camera set up at DiverseWorks to catch all us subversive artists in the act. He decided to put my likeness (from my website) (two pictures, by the way), my name and even my motto on the nightly news because of ONE FUCKING LINE.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great line. I’ll share with you exactly what he read in my report:
This monologue features a character from a town about fifty miles outside of a large, southern city. The man grew up with a homophobic father who constantly told him to “watch out for the queers.” Though the character cannot admit it to himself, he is gay. His opening line (I’m not a queer, but I want someone to fuck me in the ass pretty much as soon as possible.) was intended to surprise the audience and set the tone for the rest of the show. It did so, very effectively. The monologue was not written to shock or be titillating. Instead, it showed us a very conflicted man who grew up bashing gay men but who now desperately wants to be loved by a man. He cannot admit this to himself, so he creates an entire “queer conspiracy” to explain away his actions.

There you have it. I’m sure Dwayne read the full paragraph, so I can only guess that he willfully ignored what I said after the line that got him so excited. Because if he digested the rest of the paragraph, he might have understood that I used a device – similar, in fact, to the over-the-top drama he utilizes in his reports – to grab the audience’s attention. Many people suffer from the misapprehension that female playwrights are only going to talk about women’s issues (periods, breast cancer, rape, bad hair days), so I purposely grabbed the audience by the figurative balls (see, there I go again) to let them know that this wasn’t going to be a weepy chick play. Then I got on with the show.

As for the condescending way in which the news program treated “art,” some people get it and some people don’t. I at least hope that a few of the people in the news room got a kick out of my dirty little line. The audiences sure loved it.

Can you imagine if I’d said yes to Dwayne’s request for an interview? I’ll bet he would have made me read the line to him. Over and over and over.

[I'm not linking to the story - if you want to see your pal Crystal on the "news," go to ktrk's website and head to the "undercover" page. I'm going to go wash my hands now.]

unusual weekend

I did something unusual this weekend – I stayed out past 1AM. Went to Dan Electro’s to see Governor’s Chair and decided to stay for the band that followed. It wasn’t a band in the traditional sense. It was a collection of musicians who seemed to get together just for that evening – a drummer and three percussionists plus a bass player and guitarist Terry Greene. I can remember seeing Terry play at Blythe Spirits at the Sunday night jam when I was underage. He looks pretty much exactly the same. And it’s still fun to watch him play guitar.

Between GC and the jam band, a couple of random people came up to us talking about the prodigy who was going to play a set that night. That “he is only 14 but an amazing guitar player.” I thought the conversations reeked of PR, and, sure enough, each of the people with whom we had these “random” conversations were soon sitting together with the young lad. I was dubious.

So Terry Greene played a few songs and then turned guitar duties over to the kid. He was definitely a kid – this wasn’t some world-wise teenager but your typical skinny little white kid. And he started “wailing” on the guitar. He did every flourish he could summon, pretty much constantly. Though he was an okay player, he had no soul. It seemed there was no artistry to what he was doing. He was all flourish and no melody. Lots of fast fingers but no feeling. It was like watching a really talented monkey with nimble fingers. Or maybe seeing that computer that plays chess taking a turn on guitar.

After each song, the dad/uncle/manager/Col. Parker rushed on stage to swap out the kid’s guitar. Ridiculous. I had to leave in the midst of the third song before I started shit-talking in the audience and starting a scene.

I sound like I’m being too harsh on this kid. Here’s the thing – his family/friends shouldn’t be going around doing the hard sell on the kid. They shouldn’t say anything, in fact, and just let him get up there and play. Then the kid is a surprise, and you think “wow, for a 14-year-old, he’s pretty good.” Because when you promote him as an amazing guitar player, and he’s following someone like Terry Greene, you’re setting him up to fail. Plus, it’s just really, really obnoxious.

My advice to that kid – have fun playing the guitar. Take your time. Take the stage when you want to, but don’t do it because the adults around you are forcing it. Because they want you to be the next random white guy (John Mayer) who makes a shitload of money. Tell your stage dad to back up off you.

I wanted to believe…

Since I wasn’t blogging ten+ years ago, you probably don’t know that I was a huge X-Files fan. Almost to the point of nerd-dom. Perhaps even a bit past that. Okay, definitely past that. Not in the creepy – go to a convention – sense. I was a nerd in the – I can discuss the ongoing mythology of the series and have every episode on tape – sense. And I’m not ashamed. It was a well-written, tight show. It had brains and soul and by golly I still bust out an episode here and there. They’ve stood up well to the test of time, too. Which is good since I haven’t felt the same way about a show since.

When I learned of the new X-Files movie, I had mixed feelings. This could be disastrous. Then again, since the original people are all involved and it’s been a decade since the last X-Files movie and almost that long since the series ended, maybe this will scratch some deep-seated itch I didn’t even know I had. The movie opened yesterday, and I was sitting in a theatre seat last night. Was that phantom itch scratched? Kind of.

I still dig Mulder and Scully, and the actors did a great job with those two characters ten years gone. But the script kind of sucked. I read some reviews after I got home to see if maybe my expectations were too high. I don’t think so. A few of the reviewers said the movie was like a regular episode of the TV show rather than a film. I think that pretty much nails it. It wasn’t cinematic enough in scope. And the main mystery of the movie is a well-known urban legend. I love urban legends, but I think it’s cheating to use one as the main mystery in your film, play or story. Unless you’re turning the myth on its head or something.

There were some chewy moments here and there for the die-hard fan. Duchovny is still hot, Anderson let her hair grow, I got a little thrill seeing that X-Files typeface at the bottom of the screen letting us know what time it was and where we were. So it was worth my time and money. I just wish it had blown me away.

NOOOOOOOOO!

I missed this when it was at the Continental, and I’m going to have to miss it AGAIN because I already have tickets to see Paul Mooney that night. SHITE!

A Little Help from my Friends: A Live Recreation of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at Discovery Green

Saturday, April 26

7:30 p.m. Free Admission

Anheuser-Busch Stage and Fondren Performance Space

Beatle enthusiasts David Blassingame and Steve Candelari hand-picked 40 Houston musicians to pay tribute to the Fab 4 with this live performance of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Featuring Tabla, Sitar, Tanpura and Dilbruba, violins, cellos and more. Co-sponsored with Musicians Benevolent Society in memory of 2008 Honorary Chair Rory Miggins.

words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup

Yesterday’s Dilettante.

Saw Across the Universe with my parents this weekend. Though the thing runs a bit long and the first 20 minutes or so made me question why I was watching it, overall I greatly enjoyed the film. There are a few musical numbers that make the whole thing worth watching. Specifically, a gospel version of Let It Be that gave me chills and a scary military version of I Want You that gave me a different sort of chill. I’d like to buy a copy of the film on DVD so I could watch it again, this time leaving out the story line and quite a few of the more subdued songs to watch the big production numbers. They were a lot of fun. The film has gotten pretty horrible reviews. I see the point some reviewers make about the story line being shallow, but I would argue that it has to be in a musical that has over 30 songs. Anything more complex would compete with the songs, many of which advance the story.

There are plenty of tidbits to nibble on throughout. A character named Max uses a little silver hammer. A girl named Prudence climbs through a bathroom window. An afro-ed guitar slinger named JoJo looks like Hendrix and his girlfriend looks (a little) like a non-stinky, heterosexual Janis. Bono’s Dr. Robert (Ken Kesey) takes his friends (Merry Pranksters) on a bus to meet with Mr. Geary (Timothy Leary).

call the police

New column.

Just watched the Police “reunion” on the Grammys. When I heard it was happening, I had mixed feelings. I love(d) the Police. Ghost in the Machine is still in very regular rotation at my house. Though I haven’t been super impressed with Sting’s output the past decade, I still see him every time he tours. But I have always preferred his work with the po-po. So I heard they were playing one song in a not-so-secret reunion at the Grammys. I started thinking about what they might play. What would be the one song that would mark their return as a group after twenty-plus years apart.

Though not my favorite, Message in a Bottle was my prediction. They often played it as an encore, and Sting continued to do so after he went solo. It’s a song most people recognize, it’s a good song to play live, etc. As long as it wasn’t Roxanne, a simple song Sting has claimed he hates, I would be satisfied to hear those three great musicians together again. Imagine my disappointment when the opening bass line of Roxanne started. Sigh.

The camera swoops in on the trio. Stewart Copeland looks the same as ever, except with gray hair. Drummers always seem to age well. Andy Summers looked like…a history teacher? Someone’s dad? Sting looked amazing – that’s a lifetime full of yoga and self-satisfaction for ya. The performance was…okay. There’s not a lot to do to that song. Sting did some reggae scat in the middle, but otherwise I was disappointed.

I sure as hell will see the tour when/if it comes to Houston. I’m sure they can still rock the house. They just need to work on their song selection. Sting should have spent more time on that and less on his tight pants/vest with no shirt outfit. Not that I’m complaining.

spent

New column.

Kudos to whatever channel this is that’s showing one of my favorite movies – Cinema Paradiso – without commercials. Wonderfully sentimental. I’m sure overly-sentimental for some, but those people are assholes. It’s a great alternative to the Super Bowl. I did watch the half-time show because I love me some Prince – he kicked ass, even in a downpour. Prince is the only effeminate man I’ve ever found attractive (I’m leaving out Duran Duran because I was 12) (and actually, I stand by my John Taylor crush – he was fairly masculine for that time period).

Completely uninspired tonight. I think because I’ve been working on that grant application. Later.

UPDATE: as the movie is coming to an end, I remember why I only watch it about once every five years…sniff sniff