I’d published these posts without Soundtracks while I was reading the calendars. But I decided to add Tiny Desk Concerts to them when I realized that I’d love to post about all of the remaining 100 or shows and this was a good way to knock out 25 of them.
Preceding his sister by a few months at the Tiny Desk was Rufus Wainwright. I love Rufus’ delivery and style. I really like his voice too. The problem is I don’t really like his music all that much. I wish I did, because I love hearing him sing. But for some reason it doesn’t do anything for me. We even saw him live (on a bill with Guster and Ben Folds) and left half way through his set because it’s such a different energy than the other two.
But I love this little bit of information about this show:
We’d never tried to squeeze a piano behind the Tiny Desk, but when I saw a chance to have Rufus Wainwright play here, I wouldn’t — and he probably wouldn’t — have had it any other way
That’s particularly funny because now some five years later they have had all kinds of things behind his desk.
He plays three songs on the piano.
“The Art Teacher”is a sad story about, yes an art teacher. Really listening to the lyrics (full of art references) makes the song come alive.
Before the second song, he says I’m promoting my new album Out of the Game…yes, you may applaud if you wish. Covers a lot of genres of music, one is, briefly, country. Today is a lazy hazy day in the South–while we’re near the South.
“Respectable Dive”is a slow song (the country song, but not sounding country here) and again, the lyrics are great.
“Montauk” is about several people. His daughter Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen and his fiance. Viva’s bilogical mother is Lorca Cohen who is Leonard Cohen’s daughter. The last verse is about “my mother, the great Kate McGarrigle” (Rufus’ father is Loudon Wainwright III).
This song is, as the blurb says:
Wainwright at his best. The piano lines flow with forward motion in a Philip Glass way, and there’s also a hauntingly beautiful story. Wainwright sings to his daughter Viva, [imagining her] grown up and visiting her two fathers in Montauk, a small community on the eastern tip of Long Island.
So I am torn between really liking his voice but feeling that his delivery is a little too slow to fully understand the great lyrics. There’s so much greatness in his stuff, and yet I can’t find my way in.
[READ: December 20, 2016] “Defamer”
Near the end of November, I found out about The Short Story Advent Calendar. Which is what exactly? Well…
The Short Story Advent Calendar returns, not a moment too soon, to spice up your holidays with another collection of 24 stories that readers open one by one on the mornings leading up to Christmas. This year’s stories once again come from some of your favourite writers across the continent—plus a couple of new crushes you haven’t met yet. Most of the stories have never appeared in a book before. Some have never been published, period.
I already had plans for what to post about in December, but since this arrived I’ve decided to post about every story on each day.
I really liked yesterday’s story and I really liked this one as well, even though it is very different.
This is a the sad story of a woman named Birdie. Boy oh boy everything goes wrong in her life. She works at an office.
Big boss takes a four-hour lunch. He has suffered no major disasters in his life. [He and his wife plan] their vacation to Maine a year in advance. This is one way to live.
Birdie works in a corner cubicle near Bog Boss’ office… [She] makes $20,000 a year forwarding emails to people who make $15,000 a year.
Birdie assumes that her boss is having an affair on his four-hour lunches. But one day she see him during his lunch break working at a deli, frantically making sandwiches for customers. Nothing makes sense.
I enjoyed that this line was in the story, because the disasters that befall Birdie are beyond sense. There are major structural problems in her apartment. Last month her kitchen ceiling collapsed and broke the kitchen sink. Then the floor collapsed. Two workers are in her apartment from 8-4 everyday. Eventually they tell her that they are going to move in with her because they don’t want to be away from the place in case anything worse happens.
So Birdie tries to be away as much as she can. She gets lunch at the Cumberland Farms (she considers buying lunch from her boss and confronting him, but cannot). The only other place Birdie can go is to her father’s house. Her father needs his diaper changed daily. Which she does. She stays with him, eats a bag of chips and lets him berate her for her poor life choices.
He says that all of her problems are her own fault. And they all stem from her leaving Lou, her ex-husband.
She left Lou (and this detail cracks me up) because he “liked to break her phones with a certain hammer.” Her father says that that is how Lou expresses himself. She ignores this. Then she asks for money for the rent and her father says that he is thinking of having his driveway repaved instead. He tells her to move back in with Lou: “He has money. Lou will take care of you.” She complains that “those two things aren’t connected.” Her father says that yes they are.
Everyone sucks in Birdie’s life. Even Janet, her co-worker, is horrible. Birdie had calculated the financial situation of her office and discovered that the office–her job–should not exist. It wasn’t financially sound for them to stay in business. But she wanted to keep her job. So she lied. And they hired 12 new people including Janet. Janet brings Dotson and sends an email telling everyone there are donuts. We hate Janet.
Later, when Birdie arrives home, Lou is waiting for her. He has two iPhones in his hands–they are hers from many years ago. He brought a small bench and his special hammer and he proceeds to smash them both right in front of her (and a neighbor who enjoys the spectacle).
Finally, it is the workers who offer her some advice. It’s not the best advice–one of them tells her she should start snorting cocaine–and she doesn’t follow through on it. But it leads her to make a decision. And that’s the first step, right?
This story was really maddening (in a good way), the badness was so over the top. And the ending was really satisfying.