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Archive for the ‘Paul Rudd’ Category

[ATTENDED: June 25, 2015] Rush

2015-06-25 21.28.51I was a huge Rush fan back in the day.  In fact, to last night’s show Sarah wore my Rush shirt that I bought in, oh, 1983 or so.  Despite my huge love of Rush I actually hadn’t seen them many times live. I missed several opportunities in college (stupid work ethic) but finally got to see them on the Presto tour.  Whether it was April 20 or April 25, it was definitely 1990 and most likely at the Brendan Byrne Arena (R.I.P.).

I feel like I may have seen them on one more tour before seeing them again (possibly three times, I have 3 stubs) in 2002.  The problem with seeing them a lot in one tour is that they tend to keep the set list the same in every show (there’s some variation below).  And I remember thinking i didn’t need to see them again after that.

Of course, after seeing them last night and today listening to the Clockwork Angels tour CD I am really kicking myself for not going to that tour because there is some really interesting stuff (and a string section) which would have been pretty cool to see.  But that’s okay because the show last night was so good that it satisfied all my Rush needs–a great send off (presumably) to a great band.

Sarah had never seen Rush before (and in fact once actively disliked them, and may still).  But she was won over by the show.

I haven’t been to a big arena show (except for Kiss) in a long time, so I kind of forgot what we’d be getting.  And wow did we get a lot–flash pots, fire, lasers, explosions, video screen (even a possible marriage proposal in front of us).  And, at any Rush show… lots of air drumming (including from myself).

I had been deliberately avoiding any spoilers from the set list.  I didn’t want to have any expectations.  And I have to say, if I had made an ideal set lit, (which I thought about doing), they would have hit quite a number of them.  (Thanks Rush fans for not spoiling things for me).  And thus, below is a whole bunch of spoilers [consider yourself warned].  But one spoiler you must read–do not leave during the encore, there’s more to the show when the music is done. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE DIVINE COMEDY-BANG goes the Knighthood (2010).

I’ve really enjoyed The Divine Comedy since their earliest Michael Nymanesque music.  I loved the orchestral pop that Neil Hannon seemed to effortlessly create.  His last few records have been less exciting to me.  He has toned down the orchestration and made his songs more subtle.  They’re still beautiful but they’re not always as immediately arresting.  I thought that was true of this album as well, although I found that when I sat down and really listen to the music and words together (what a novel idea) the music played so well with the lyrics that the album overall is easily one of his best.  Although I still prefer the pomp and full orchestration of the earlier music, this newer stuff is very interesting. An artist has got to grow, right?

The new sound is more Tin Pan Alley.  It’s piano with guitars and occasional horns–very limited strings are present at all.  And, as any fan knows, Neil writes wonderful songs about love, and the songs on here are some more great love songs.  The non-love songs span the gamut of ideas–from emotionally wrenching to downright silly.  Neil is definitely a “get to know him” kind of songwriter.  And it’s rewarding when you do.

“Down in the Street Below” is a piano based song that morphs into a jaunty little number after some quiet verses.  It features yet another of his great melodies.  “The Complete Banker” is a jaunty piano song that mercilessly mocks the banking industry.  Not terribly original but certainly fun and lyrically it’s quite clever.  “Neapolitan Girl” is a faster song (reminds me of a Broadway musical or movie instrumental) which is (as they all are) very fun to sing along to).  “Bang Goes the Knighthood” is a musical hall song that is really quite funny despite the somber sound of the music (it’s about a knighted man who indulges in certain proclivities that might cost him what he has).

“The Indie Disco” is the exact opposite, it’s bouncy and shuffly and yet understated as only an indie disco can be (this may be the softest, least excited “yea!” in any song ever.  Name checking Morrissey may not be original but it would be a less real picture without him.  The songs he mentions are kind of dated, but are probably pretty accurate to what gets played in an indie disco these days.  “Have You Ever Been in Love” could be used in any rom-com film montage.  Although maybe it’s too obvious?  Sweetly filled with strings (yes strings).

“Assume the Perpendicular” is a slightly faster song, as befits lyrics, “I can’t abide a horizontal life while “The Lost Art of Conversation” is another bouncy tune with a whistle for an ending!

“Island Life” is one of the first duets I can think of from the Divine Comedy–it sounds like something out of the movie Brazil.  “When a Man Cries” is an emotionally wrenching song.  It seems somewhat out of place for Hannon’s usual topic, but it’s quite beautiful.  The silly fun of “Can You Stand Up on One Leg” is the perfect antidote.  Each verse provides something that’s harder to do than you think.  The final verse offers, “can you hold a singing note for a stupidly long time…. Let’s see how long you can hoooooooooo….oooold on to a note.” For the record, Neil’s note is 29 seconds long….stupidly long!  Is that really him holding that high note for 29 seconds?

The final song “I Like” is a wonderful poppy ditty, in which the full band rocks out (more or less) to another great melody.  It’s a perfect love song (even modernized to include a kind of rhyme with sexy and texting).

Initially I was a little disappointed by this disc, but it really proved to be fantastic.  More, Neil, more!

[READ: December 28, 2011] Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Is Mindy Kaling a big enough celebrity to write a book (memoir or otherwise?).  To use her own in-book comparison, she’s nowhere near Tina Fey’s level of fame, right? (although I actually think she is funnier).  I mean, she’s a minor character on a popular show.  True, she’s also a writer and producer, but that’s not going to lead you to fame or anything.  The more I read about her in the book, the more I wondered exactly who would know her aside from fans of The Office.

None of that is to say that Kaling isn’t awesome.  She is.  She’s funny and talented and I am thrilled she wrote a book–sometimes within an ensemble your individual voice will get lost.  But I have to wonder how much name recognition she has.  And the book doesn’t do a lot to dispel this sense for me.  I mean, she tells about everything she’s done, and really all she had done was write Matt & Ben (which sounds awesome and which I remember hearing about back in the day) and work (a lot) for The Office.  Not minor accomplishments by any stretch, but not a fame-inducing resume.  Nevertheless, good for her that someone was interested in letting her write a book.  And good for us who read it.  If you are amused by the use of the subtitle of the book (which I am) you will like enjoy the humor here.

I had read some excerpts from the book so I assumed it was all funny essays and whatnot, but it’s not.  It’s actually a memoir with funny essays mixed in.   Of course, Mindy’s life before Matt & Ben isn’t really very “interesting” (the book is very funny during this time of her life, even if she really didn’t do much more than babysit for rich folks and watch Comedy Central).

In the Introduction, Mindy provides a FAQ about the book.  One of the questions is if she is going to offer advice and she says yes.  And here’s the thing, Mindy’s advice is outstanding.  She offers advice about many topics and I don’t think I disagreed with her about anything (except maybe pea coats).  She’s like the voice of reason in a world gone mad and an excellent role model for anyone. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SAFURA-“Drip Drop” (2010)

Azerbaijan came in 5th in this year’s Eurovision contest.  And they did it with this monstrosity of a song by Safura.  She sounds like so many pop chanteuses, pulling out all the stops on high notes, vibrato and even a fascinatingly accented English.

But just as I’m about to dismiss this song out of hand, she throws in this weird chorus of pizzicato “drip drops.”  Even they are not very compelling, but the juxtaposition of these two parts of the song are surprising enough to make the song interesting.

But I think that’s enough Eurovision for me.  And I didn’t even make it to the song by Latvia with the lines: “I’ve asked my Uncle Joe/But he can’t speak/Why does the wind still blow?/And blood still leaks?/So many questions now/With no reply/What for do people live until they die?/  Only Mr God knows why/But his phone today is out of range”

[READ: July 19, 2010] “Cinema Crudité”

This article is about cult films, although it focuses a lot on a film that I’ll never watch called The Room.  I had heard about the film in Entertainment Weekly a month or so ago.  They joked about its status as a midnight film that all manner of celebrities swear by: David Cross, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill etc.

This article goes into much greater depth than the EW piece did about what the film is actually like.  The author really points out all of its flaws and incongruities and everything else about the film that is awful.  And then he says that he’s watched it at least 20 times and couldn’t wait to interview the auteur behind it.

The article is great, by the way, Bissell did an excellent job. But I still don’t want to watch the film. (more…)

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We’d seen ads for this show (who hasn’t?) but we weren’t that interested.   It’s on Starz for crying out loud, and it’s a summer fill in show.  Then we found out the credentials of the show:  The auteur behind the much missed Veronica Mars (Rob Thomas) is a producer/writer/creator.  (As is Paul Rudd! And Dan Etheridge (who has worked with Kevin Smith quite a lot).

The show stars a number of great actors: Ken Marino, Jane Lynch!, Ryan Hansen (Dick Casablancas from Veronica Mars), Martin Starr (playing a major jerk), and two actors who get pretty high billing that I didn’t know: Adam Scott and Lizzy Caplan. (more…)

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wholphinThis is a periodical I haven’t mentioned before.  Wholphin is a “DVD Magazine of Rare and Unseen Short Films.”  So yes, the reason I hadn’t mentioned it is because it is a DVD and not a book.  However, as I have been watching Vols 1-8 over the last few months, I have noticed that a few writerly names keep cropping up in the credits.  Plus, it’s got that whole McSweeney’s connection.

So lets look at some of the folks who have turned up on these videos:

  • Spike Jonze with an amazing documentary about Al Gore (that will make you weep all over again about the 2000 election).
  • Miranda July with a short film.
  • David O. Russell (with a post-Three Kings documentary).
  • Bob Odenkirk has several entries on several DVDs
  • A short film by Taika Waititi who did the crazy New Zealand film Eagle vs Shark.
  • There’s a Japanese version of Bewitched with bonus subtitles by Daniel Handler (among others).
  • Daniel Handler also “revoices” a short film Darling Darling starring Michael Cera and a horse-headed man. (John Cleese does another “revoicing”).
  • Michael Chabon’s short story “House Hunting” adapted as a film (starring Paul Rudd and Zooey Deschanel).
  • Evany Thomas (and others) rescripted the subtitles to Schastlivy Vmeste the Russian Married…With Children.  And hers is extremely enjoyable.  She gives up on the show about ten minutes in and then just starts riffing on all manner of things.  I laughed harder at this than I had any right to.
  • “New Boy” is adapted from a Roddy Doyle short story.
  • “Love You More” an adaptation of the short story “Peter Shelly” by Patrick Marber.
  • “The Discipline of De” is adapted from a William S. Burroughs short story.

There is also (from Vol #1) my favorite short deliciousfilm possibly ever by Scott Prendergast called “The Delicious” which you can watch, and I encourage you to, here.

Although “Stairway at St. Paul” is also awesome, and that’s available here.)

There’s also “Heavy Metal Jr.” a great documentary of a metal band made up of pre-teens–available here.

Oh wait, and there’s an amazing documentary about Rubik’s Cube that will blow your mind (if you haven’t played with a cube in a decade), called “Piece by Piece.”

Oh yeah, and “Sour Death Balls” is hilarious and available here.

Even though these films are available online, it would be best to purchase the DVDs from here at http://www.wholphindvd.com.  There’s even a Best of, which features most of the films I mentioned above.  In fact, you should just subscribe, because that will guarantee that they keep releasing these gems on video.

In addition to the random assortment above there are international animations, short nature films, 45 minutes movies, and everything in between.  It’s a wonderful way to see short films that you never knew existed.

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