Saturday, July 17, 2004

Six strings
It's curious--only because I bought my first electric guitar a few weeks ago am I struck by the significance of a story like the fiftieth anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster.
I was excited to learn from that article that Eric Clapton had Strats named Blackie and Brownie, and you may be curious to know that I have given a name to my Fender Telecaster, a name Ereck suggested: Voula. Voula is a character featured on an early episode of "Degrassi Junior High."
Good word
"He is just what I should like for a military parson except that he does not whore or drink."
--Alexander Hamilton on one Dr. Mendy, a Continental Army parson (as quoted in Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton (New York: The Penguin Press, 2004))

Friday, July 16, 2004

I am a geek

Did you know NPR national security correspondent Tom Gjelten is married to ABC national security correspondent Martha Raddatz? Now you do.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Good word
"If you're a wanker, I still love you."
--Ereck, on my learning electric guitar

The grind

There is belt sanding going on in the room directly above my home office. The sound fills me with dread. Or maybe I already was filled with dread, and the sound intensifies it.
Good word

"You have to understand that what went on is old news, then choose the atmosphere you want to live in . . . In acting jargon, follow the direction, 'Don't go back; go on.'"

--Dear Prudence
Love is . . .

. . . reading each other's alumni magazines.
Pass the j

Getting back to this for a second, I'm pleased to report that the episode of "Method & Red" I watched last night was immensely funny.

In the episode, "Dogs," wealthy rappers Method Man and Redman, playing themselves, are trying to raise money to build a sports facility for inner-city youths, but they must hurry because NBA star Yao Ming, who has a vendetta against them, wants to build on the same site. On a tip they invite over a wealthy benefactress, played by Carmen Electra. Redman, smitten, woos her. Method Man worries this will jeopardize the deal.

Meanwhile, Bill (Peter Jacobson) and Nancy (Beth Littleford), the parents next door, are angry at Method Man because their son (David Henrie) smacked Nancy's behind, a gesture he learned from one of Method and Red's videos. At the urging of his mother (Anna Maria Horsford) Method ventures next door, where he himself inadvertently smacks Nancy's behind. In the ongoing crisis, Method and the family meet with a counselor at the boy's school, whose behind, in a deliciously excruciating sequence, Method also ends up smacking, in full view of the students. An epidemic of behind-smacking breaks out at the school. Fox News covers the story, and thanks to Method and Red's fame, the epidemic goes national.

In the end, the benefactress declines to donate the money--not, she says, because of Redman's attentions but because the rappers are not good role models for children. But in a final twist, we learn she is a plant sent by Yao Ming, who has watched every development on surveillance video.

After the broadcast last night I dug up newspaper reviews, which compared the show favorably to fish-out-of-water sitcoms like "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Green Acres." "Method & Red" definitely is a rarity: a smart new sitcom that made me laugh, very hard.

Aaron is right that the show has a strong "head" sensibility, what with frenetic jump cuts, strange interludes and over-the-top acting. Not to mention the laugh track, which I like to think Method and Red wanted precisely because it's so surreal.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

So take off all your clothes

A hot day like today reminds you to remove the winter plastic from the windows (I'm working on it, Ereck). It also reminds you that the Crystal Corner Bar, 1302 Williamson Street, is air conditioned. Coincidentally, that's where the Worlds Greatest Lovers, my cover band with Scott Beardsley and Chris Boeger of the Hometown Sweethearts, are playing tonight. So come on down at 9:30 and get some of the Worlds Greatest Lovers' red hot love, in air-conditioned comfort. Cover is $3.

Here's the Worlds Greatest Lovers' summer schedule:


Plus �a change

Sigh. Last night at the Great Dane ten or so of us f�ted Kristen, who's off to her new teaching job in Utah. In a few days we'll do the same for Mike and Elizabeth, who are departing for new academic horizons in South Carolina. I'm excited for them, but all this change has me a little down. I felt the same way last year, when other important friends took academic jobs elsewhere. And now there aren't many left here from the old crowd.

Moving on is part of academic life, of course, and even though I left my own academic pursuits behind ages ago, I did keep the friends. The socializing is what always liked best about grad school. Seeing the friends go stings a bit.

In the face of this change I can't help but take stock of my own life. After all, my academic friends have leapt really significant hurdles, and they have paperwork and fashion accessories to prove it. Truth be told, this is one of the things about grad school that always appealed to me: well-defined goals, like preliminary exams, dissertation, job, tenure. To me life seems like a big, scary, undifferentiated mass, and having milestones like that to break it up must be reassuring.

But since I have no major institutional affiliations, I'm left to set and attain my own goals, which is terrifying. I look at my life and see no grand scheme, only some articles I wrote here, some gigs I played there, some songs I wrote somewhere else.

I see other things, of course. I see friends I made, friends I miss. I see some trips I took and enjoyed and still have dreams about. I see a man I love a lot who loves me back, and I see the comfortable life we have put together in this town.

And somewhere in the middle of all this is me, sitting in my underwear and typing on a computer. Hey, it's a pretty good life, come to think of it, milestones or no milestones.

I needed a pep talk. I think I just gave myself one.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Good word

"If I sound neurotic about my interests, I�m not. I like being a drama critic who collects American prints, hangs out with jazz musicians, and writes books about people like George Balanchine and H.L. Mencken. I wouldn�t have me any other way."

--Terry Teachout
Put up or shut up

Late last night I spoke with Jamie Stewart, frontman and principle songwriter of the West Coast indy band Xiu Xiu. Stewart and I both are 33, and we agreed that 33 is, following Jesus' example, the age at which to show your cards, if any.
Funny lady

I see any number of promotional spots for the Fox sitcom "Method & Red" during my weekly viewings of "The Simple Life 2", and every time I find myself wondering: is it she?

So I looked the show up. And it is she. "Method & Red" stars Beth Littleford, who was so terrifically funny as a "Daily Show" correspondent about five years ago. I think I may have to check this "Method & Red" out. I've also been curious about Method Man and Redman ever since friends recommended their movie How High, but the friends may have been high when they saw it. Or when they recommended it.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Founding Daddies

So with the help of my scholar boyfriend, I have laid hands upon another copy of Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton. You'll recall that I had to give one copy back to the public library. The timing is exquisite, since today is the 200th anniversary of the gunfight in which Aaron Burr mortally wounded Hamilton. They were dueling over something or other. So much drama. (Naturally the event was reenacted.)

The book really does cast a spell. I fantasize that I will fall asleep reading it and, like in some Looney Tune, wake to find myself smack dab in the middle of the American Revolution. I'll have a musket and a powdered wig, and I will be a campy gay Minuteman. "Wake up, the British are coming! Grab your rifle!" "Not till I put my face on!"

Chernow writes of the Sons of Liberty, the group of patriotic agitators, and reading about them has put that maddening song from the 1957 Disney movie Johnny Tremain in my head. If you don't know the song, you're lucky.