December 30, 2005
Why Are You Looking Grave?
Today I pay adoring homage to the Danish band MEW. I confess that they moved into my radar a little late, considering their records aren't available in the states. Recently, though, I've become totally obsessed with them, especially their latest CD, Mew and the Glass Handed Kites.
MEW have great, extravagant song titles like "The Seething Rain Weeps For You" and "Saviours of Jazz Ballet" and "Am I Wry? No." Their members are all really great musicians, and aren't afraid to be strange and overindulgent and grandiose to the point of pretention, in the way of bands like Radiohead or The Mars Volta or 70s-era Sparks or Queen (ie, they sometimes change time signature 3 or 4 times per song). Their singer Jonas Bjerre (that's him on the far left in the photo) looks like a beautiful, androgynous boy, with a chilling, glassy, androgynous voice. Why they don't have a US deal is beyond me... I think they could easily secure just as loyal and fanatic a following as Sigur Ros. Their CD will definitely be in my top 5 of 2005.
December 29, 2005
Michael and I are getting ready for our Cape Cod New Year's Eve party. I was hoping to have my novel finished before the start of 2006, but now I'm shooting for the beginning of February. Whatever the case, it's very, very close.
Coming soon are my annual favorite CDs of the year and favorite films of the year, which I pretentiously churn out every first- or second-week of January.
In the meantime... Mysterious Skin has been making critics' "top ten" lists, all really exciting news for Gregg and everyone else involved. Perhaps the most exciting of all was the inclusion on A. O. Scott's New York Times list. Kevin Thomas of the L.A. Times stuck it as his #1 of the year (can't find the link for that one, sorry). Same goes for one-of-my-favorite-people-in-the-entire-world Dennis Dermody and his PAPER magazine list. I'm REALLY psyched that apparently we were on The Onion's list, but I can't locate that one either. Lou Lumenick of the New York Post listed it, but mistakenly called the film "Dangerous Skin" (I think they corrected the error the following day). In the current Advocate, we're #3 (after Brokeback Mountain and Capote, both of which I really loved). We also made Glenn Kenny's list in PREMIERE. And here are some others:
(And finally, here's an obsessive, exhaustive chart listing a ton of film critics' Top Tens. We're ranked #22 overall.)
Hey, if any of you know of other lists, let me know and I'll send 'em along to Gregg and the film's producers.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
December 19, 2005
$$ Danni & the Linzes $$
So: SURVIVOR. I've gotta say, I was extremely happy with this season, and with the final three survivors. And Danni Boatwright, a fellow Kansan who's from the tiny town of Tonganoxie, wound up winning the million bucks. (Tonganoxie, by the way, is about 15 minutes from where I used to live, and my sister and friends and I spent a lot of time at the church thrift store there, "back in the day.")
I didn't love this season's Amazing Race as much as previous ones, but I was certainly happy with the outcome, in which the sweet but interchangeable Bransens and scripture-spouting Weavers were outrun by the sexy dimple-cheeked Linz Family. God, I'd kill to be on this show.
(And a P.S. that doesn't deserve an accompanying photo: if you watched The Apprentice, you were probably (a) not all that shocked with the initial decision, but (b) totally floored when Randal, whom I'd previously liked a lot, advised Trump NOT to also hire the runner-up, the newly crutch-less Rebecca. As my pal Mark Lewis told me, what Trump should have done was: first, listened to Randal's ignoble opinion, and second, promptly told him "You're Fired" and delivered the job to Rebecca.)
Okay, back to my own reality.
December 18, 2005
Egon Schiele Adoration Day
Writer's block. So I'm re-reading a biography of Egon Schiele who, along with Van Gogh and Francis Bacon, is one of my three favorite painters.
The Lovers, 1917
"Schiele's probing explorations of the emotional turmoil of late adolescence--fraught with existential uncertainty and sexual angst--have won him an enormous following. Though generally considered an Expressionist, he had none of the organizational allegiances common among his German counterparts. Rather, like Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Münch, Schiele was one of the isolate painters who taught the modern era to look at its soul." --from EGON SCHIELE: 27 MASTERWORKS, by Jane Kallir.
Self-Portrait with Hand to Cheek, 1910 and Self-Portrait, 1910
Schiele was born in Austria on June 20, 1890. His early work looks somewhat like Klimt, but gradually the paintings stripped away all that design and ornamentation stuff. I'm not embarrassed to say I've been known to burst into tears when I see an actual Schiele painting in a museum. Death! Disease! Existential unrest!
The Bridge, 1913
Schiele was tried & convicted for "public immorality" (for a mere nude drawing) when he was 22, and spent a little time in prison. His work got even more twisted and devastating after that. His wife died from Spanish influenza in 1918, and Schiele himself died from the same disease just a few months later at the age of 28 (on Halloween, same day my mom died). Sad to think of what he could have accomplished had he lived longer.
Portrait of Paris von Gütersloh, 1918
December 09, 2005
55 "Winter" Songs on My iPod
(1) Hood, "Winter 72"
(2) Coil, "The Snow"
(3) Galaxie 500, "Snowstorm"
(4) Kate Bush, "Under Ice"
(5) Belle & Sebastian, "The Fox In the Snow"
(6) Bark Psychosis, "400 Winters"
(7) My Bloody Valentine, "Soft As Snow (But Warm Inside)"
(8) Monster Movie, "Winter Is Coming"
(9) M83, "In the Cold I'm Standing"
(10) Nada Surf, "Blizzard of '77"
(11) Sparks, "Thank God It's Not Christmas"
(12) Hula, "Freeze Out"
(13) All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavors, "Snowflake Eye"
(14) Spoons, "Smiling In Winter"
(15) Gus Gus, "Cold Breath '79"
(16) Depeche Mode, "Ice Machine"
(17) Cindytalk, "Memories of Skin and Snow"
(18) Ride, "Polar Bear"
(19) Colder, "The Winter's Fields"
(20) Portishead, "Numb"
(21) The Cure, "Cold"
(22) Low, "Last Snowstorm of the Year"
(23) Mogwai, "Christmas Song"
(24) Virginia Astley, "Melt the Snow"
(25) Disco Inferno, "Footprints In Snow"
(26) Laika, "Out of Sight and Snowblind"
(27) Haircut One Hundred, "Snow Girl"
(28) Clearlake, "Wonder If the Snow Will Settle"
(29) Windy & Carl, "Chrismas Song"
(30) Herrmann & Kleine, "Catch a Snowflake"
(31) Codeine, "New Year's"
(32) Isan, "Snowdrops & Phlox"
(33) Malory, "Xirius Polar Station"
(34) Dot Allison, "I Wanna Feel the Chill"
(35) Cocteau Twins, "How To Bring a Blush To the Snow"
(36) Ultravox, "Frozen Ones"
(37) A Northern Chorus, "Winterize"
(38) Lilys, "Snowblinder"
(39) Mew, "She Came Home For Christmas"
(40) Broadcast, "Winter Now"
(41) Siouxsie & the Banshees, "The Sweetest Chill"
(42) Antarctica, "Arctikal"
(43) Movietone, "Snow Is Falling"
(44) St. Etienne, "I Was Born On Christmas Day"
(45) Joy Division, "Atmosphere"
(46) XMal Deutschland, "Polarlicht"
(47) Lowlights, "Snow Is Silver"
(48) Starflyer 59, "Sled"
(49) Populous, "My Winter Vacation"
(50) Curve, "Frozen"
(51) Cuba w/ Rachel Goswell, "Winter Hill"
(52) The Waitresses, "Christmas Wrapping"
(53) Cranes, "Here Comes the Snow"
(54) Harold Budd & Robin Guthrie, "Snowfall"
(55) Modern English, "After the Snow"
December 07, 2005
Barn Swallow Chorus
I'm tired of titling my entries lacklusterly, so from now on I'll try harder.
My trip to St. Louis was pretty terrific (even though the wind hit like icicles shot from a cannon; even though American Airlines lost my luggage on the way there). Reading for the first time from the new novel was a little unnerving, but I think it went well. Another big thanks to my great pal, fellow Kansan, and stellar writer Kellie Wells (go to her new website! read about her forthcoming novel SKIN!) for making the trip so great.
Above: Kellie and I, after my reading. Below: a shot of the wintry view from my writing desk, here at the Cape vacation house... the slope downward toward Highway 6A, and the marshes and ocean beyond. This will probably be similar to the view I'll see when, in the next few weeks or so, I finally finish this novel.
The reality shows are nearing the season's end. Here's who I'm rooting for. Survivor: Danni or Rafe. (This season, by the way, is one of the greatest ever--last week, when Judd got booted, was classic. The Apprentice: It doesn't matter to me-- I like them both. The Apprentice (Martha Stewart): probably Bethenny. The Amazing Race: the Linz Family all the way... just PLEASE not those awful Bible-beaters.
If you've been reading this blog, you surely know of my obsessions with both Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Jason Biggs. Well, I have a new one. He's this dude who's a "featured player" on Saturday Night Live; his name is Andy Samberg and honest to god I drool every time he shows up on screen. If you're paying attention, I guess you're probably starting to see where my tastes tend to run.
(Above, left): Don't know what took me so long, but I finally got the new My Morning Jacket cd, and it's the best thing they've ever done, I think. Great cover & inner booklet art, too. And it seems that nearly everything produced by John Leckie--Radiohead, The Verve, Ride, Magazine, Spiritualized, Stone Roses, old Simple Minds before they went bad, etc etc etc--is excellent.
(Above, middle): I really like these new Constellation stamps, especially Orion, who looks sort of hot. Unfortunately, the US is only a month away from another postal rate hike.
(Above, right): I'm re-reading the poems of James Schuyler. Bliss.
Oh, and two words before I close. SLOWDIVE REISSUES!!!!
Coming soon: more random, inconsequential lists.