28 June 2007

Crooked on the outside, inside's caved.

Ryan Adams was on Letterman last night for the umpteenth time. The performance of "Two" that aired was good but the web-exclusive performance of "I Taught Myself How to Grow Old" was nothing less than amazing. It's unfortunate that it's so beautiful, because it makes me monumentally depressed that I'm not going to his concert tomorrow.

The video of "Two" is below, but you have to go to the link provided above to see the vid of "I Taught Myself..." Apparently, the man invented a time machine because he looks like he's 19 and his voice has never sounded better- so sweet and soft. Like a lamb covered in marshmellows. When you quit smoking heroin, I guess it does wonders. Now if only he'd drop the cigarettes... but I'm not holding my breath on that one...

26 June 2007

"Oh My God, Whatever, Etc." indeed.

Ryan Adams' new album is out, and boy have I been ready for it. I mean, the man's wearing a calculator watch on the cover! Several promising tracks leaked ("Two," "Halloweenhead," and "Everybody Knows"), thereby filling me with even more girlish glee.

First off, Easy Tiger is allegedly Adams' first album completed entirely in a state of sobriety. Coincidentally or not, it's also gotten the biggest push from the industry- even being sold at Starbucks. Stephen King (yes, the Stephen King) even wrote a review, stating the album "maybe the best Ryan Adams CD ever." That's a tall order. A VERY tall order. Adams has put out more albums (official or otherwise), than probably any of his contemporaries. Granted, not all of the releases have been absolute genius, but he has a solid repertoire and the ability to change his style at will. Not many people like Ryan Adams "the Man," but he is extremely self-aware and smarter than you may think; he holds no qualms about choosing creative freedom and candidness over polished popularity and radio play (perhaps proving it best with his last release 29, or his slew of internet-only tracks like "Dracula Swimtrunks" and "Badazz.")

Ironically, my defense of Adams comes with a clause- I've got a problem with Easy Tiger. I'm a bit dissatisfied- left wanting something that Adams just didn't provide on this album. The melodies are quality- maybe not as varied as they could be- but tight and right. The production is good- similar to that of Jacksonville City Nights. Most of the lyrics, however, are bland and feel like a cheap imitation of Adams circa Heartbreaker. The album also feels lopsided- nearly all of the really good tracks are on the first half of the CD, leaving one with an off-kilter album that lacks pace and cohesion.

That's not to say the album is without merit. "Oh My God, Whatever, Etc." is a beautiful and simple arrangement when Adams lets his whispery voice add more weight to the song than the slightly cheeky title would ever suggest. (See an amazing performance of the song here.) "Everybody Knows" is a sad but surprisingly upbeat track, putting you in the mood to sing... perhaps along with the next one: "Halloweenhead." A weird and wonderful leftover from Adams' last tour, "Halloweenhead" finds its roots in bizarre slang privy only to the most dedicated of Adams fans (a dictionary can be found at his site.) And, seriously, who doesn't love a song that announces a guitar solo by actually yelling, "guitar solo?"

Unfortunately, there are more disappointments, including 2 rehashed tracks: "Two Girls" (a lesser version of the oldie/goodie "Hey There Mrs Lovely"), and "Off Broadway," which I was disappointed to see on this album... having already been disappointed by it the first time I heard it on the unofficial collection, The Suicide Handbook. "Rip Off" and "Tears of Gold" are just plain unexciting and rather tedious. "Two Hearts" and "The Sun Also Sets" are ripe with potential to be bigger and better- but one may have to wait to see them live to know if that's actually true.

Anyone who knows me knows that Ryan Adams is, for better or for worse, my favorite artist. 13 out of my top 25 played songs on iTunes are by Adams (including the top spot.) If I dwell on Easy Tiger a while longer, I know I'll end up well-nigh enjoying it- letting those warm guitar sounds blend into the balmy summer evenings. But it's hard to be patient when I know that I could just throw on Heartbreaker or Cold Roses and not have to skip a single track.

For my boy though, I'll give it another easy spin.

16 June 2007

Just "Once."

Finally- FINALLY- I got the chance to see Once, a film which wowed Sundance and has taken its sweet time making its way to local theaters. The trailer promises it to be one of the best films of this generation... and it isn't far off.

The film takes place in Dublin over the course of several days and is based solely around the relationship between two musicians (played by actual musicians: Glen Hansard of the Frames and Czech singer/song writer Marketa Irglova). While one nevers learn their characters' names, the movie simply makes it an irrelevant detail- why fill in the blank with a random monicker? What is relevant- what is real- is the chemistry, potential, and music (oh, the music!) created by these two lonely and extremely talented people.

Hansard (credited simply as "guy"), plays a street musician-cum-vacuum repairman and Irglova ("girl"), is a Czech immigrant maid and musician. They meet lightheartedly on the street and discover more about each other through circumstance and the commonality of music. Performing their first duet in an empty music store, it's as obvious as the ginger beard on Hansard's face that these two are an amazing pair.

As the film goes on however, we find that these people are more complex than we previously thought- each with their own ties to other people. As seemingly perfect as they are for each other, are these two destined for each other?

The film is simple and graceful. It never feels forced, which is truly rare in a movie that contains so many musical numbers. It has a few clumsy moments with musical flashbacks, but all is forgiven... because the music is way too amazing for us to nitpick. Sometimes gripping and heartbreaking, other times fun and bouncy, the soundtrack was written by Hansard and Irglova especially for the film. Highlights: "Falling Slowly," "When Your Mind's Made Up" (both featured in the trailer), the playful duet "Fallen From The Sky," and "If You Want Me," a gorgeous vocal performance by Irglova.

Maybe more than any other, we are a generation weaned on music. This may be the best film about music we have- and not just for its great soundtrack; it is a film that is both inspired by life and inspires life... and man- that's all we've got.

15 June 2007

"This is why I come up here."

I've been thinking- mentally compiling, really- a list of things to do when I get back to Firenze for the Amalgamation (of the Century.) This is sort of assuming the ideal- that I have at least 4 full days there (but, hopefully more around 5 or 6). This is the tentative list I've been toying with...

• SGM. All day, everyday. That is, visit the gelateria that houses the one and only Sad Gelato Man: the man, the myth, the legend. If he's still there, ideally.... I want a picture with him. And I won't guarantee that I will not propose.

• Just as gelato is best served sadly, cappuccino is best served standing. Hit the marble cafe bars like it's my job. The magic words: vorrei un caffè, per favore.

• Speaking of bars, in the more traditional sense- Art Bar. I nearly forgot. How? I have no idea. Also, Fiddler's Elbow! If in need of Irish, break glass.

• See the inside of the Duomo and/or the bell tower. I read Brunelleschi's Dome and have new reverence for the man, so I should probably go to the massive architectural achievment he built a stone's throw from the Buf.

• Crash SACI. Maybe take Dario's bike for a joyride. Say "hi," to Dean Doctor Daddy David Davidson. Tell Marta Martini that, yes, I capisco. Just run past Helen yelling, "whatever!" Or sit in on her class only to get up to use the internet for 45 minutes. And then leave them all in a cloud of confusion as to who the random blonde Americana was.

• Take the 20 minute train ride and see the Leaning Tower. Another super tourista thing that I didn't bother with. I may have been the only Bufa not to. For shame, A-Town.

• Catch the elusive sunset over the city from Piazzale. My calves burn just thinking about it. But so does my mouth- for a 3 euro Sprite!

• Steal... NAY- return to its rightful owner (i.e. the Bufas, e.g. me)- a Bufa horsehead. Failing that, break in and take one of the weird religious prints that were all around the apartment. And maybe some Medici balls.

• Grab a bite to eat at Za'Za. Hit the Mercato- HARD. I want a real Italian purse and leather bound journal, and my mom's already debating about what color pagmina she wants me to get this time around. And while Totti's probably more legit, my mission is to acquire a Gennaro Gattuso jersey (seen there sans jersey, avec glory).

• One word, two syllables: Astor.

I also want to do random things like see if that guy with the bandana is still working at the grocery store across from Accademia (what is that one CALLED?), trawl for cheap Ferrari gear (yeah right), hit up about 68 bakeries, shake nearly-empty water bottles near people's heads etc, etc.

Ideally, I'd love to hit the coast or maybe Bologna. I really liked Bologna- its saints' skulls in conspicuous gold tombs, its over-the-top life-sized wooden figures, its towers, its neon grandmas, and its lovely porticos. Ironically, I did not dig the food.

I'd also like to check out Fiesole- maybe stay there for an afternoon. Have fresh olive oil and fresh bread with a not-so-fresh bottle of vino. Oh Italian picnic lunch, how I love you.

Hit me up with suggestions. I know I'm forgetting so many things, but wanted to get this up as a base and something to look forward to.

Endnote: Eryn- I have reason to believe that said gelateria has an actual name... and that name is Antica Gelateria Fiorentina. I found no photographic evidence of this, because apparently, we're the only ones who love so... though we don't have pics of it either. That will change soon enough, my friend. Soon enough.)

07 June 2007

Sucka... foolish... foolish sucka...

Life goes on- as does the job search... well, today it didn't. Instead, took a trip to The Coffee Exchange with Jojo. I haven't been since I was a young'un when my rents were hip and bought their coffee there. It's around the sameish price range as Starbucks, but significantly more chill. It's especially dangerous since it's right across the street from an art supply store. (Bye bye, money.) I could see how the sceneitude/"East Side-ness" of it is a little much, but if I lived closer, I'd be there all the time. And posting my love for chic bohemian men in the "missed connections" section of craigslist.

"You have a goatee, black glasses and eyebrow ring... we ordered the same drink (large vanilla organic soy latte) and made serious eye contact. I felt the electricity between us... wonder if you did too. Maybe we can get Thai sometime."

If you're ever ridiculously bored, check out those pages- they're absolutely fantastico.

This weekend looks somewhat exciting: drive-in on Saturday and roaming through Boston on Sunday. Last time we tried the drive-in, it was chock full and we ended up picnicing at Waterplace Park and watching middle-aged drunk couples embarrass one another. While that was entertaining in its own right, I do hope the double feature with DEET is a success this time.

I wish the Bufas could reunite... if only to all watch Eagle vs Shark when it comes out... and it needs to come out NOW. It's playing at the Newport International Film Festival this weekend, which almost makes me want to go down and brave all the khaki-shorted, yacht-leasing touristas in my "naturally aged" jeans and $2 flip-flops... But I probably won't.

In any case, here's the trailer...

If it involves a guy battling the ocean, I'm there... with bells on. Motherfreaking bells.

03 June 2007

Because everytime Paul Rudd smiles, a baby panda sneezes.

My mom and I have been trying to see a movie together for the past several weeks, but can never get our acts together. Well, yesterday we had the chance. I had been debating with Eryn yesterday if we should see the third Pirates movie or Knocked Up. Eryn (being the voice of reason in this situation), said the movie, while supposedly somewhat raunchy, shouldn't be a problem for a girl and her mom who saw Sideways together and agreed that the worst part was indeed, the funniest. (Lest we forget the angry overweight gentleman with his "penis flapping in the trailer park breeze.")

My mom agreed with Eryn's logic and we went with Knocked Up. I'm really glad we did- it was not only completely hilarious, but surprisingly sweet, as well. (Yes- a movie called "Knocked Up" is sweet... I can honestly say that I didn't see that one coming.) And I know one shouldn't really be surprised at a baby movie being sweet, but this is a new take on the genre. It feels more appropriate for this generation and it's not Julia Roberts/Hugh Grant-type fare. The content isn't sappy, but it doesn't lack sentimentality. I wouldn't say the movie doesn't have a gender, but rather, it's conscious of both sides. Neither side is portrayed perfectly... but why should they be?

There are of course more fart, sex, and penis jokes than you could shake a stick at (oh snap), but honestly, I don't know a female who wouldn't laugh at the pinkeye scene- I know my mom and I both did. The combination of the cast is perfect and most take the high/dry road for delivery of the material and the film ends up the better for it. Several times, I went into silent-laughter mode and possibly did the "1-2 clap" to show my enthusiasm... to the screen.

Yes- the entire cast is great, but Paul Rudd gets the superfluous blogpic because he's simply scrumtrulescent in so very many ways. "Who needs a timemachine?" And yes, I thought of A-Town during the dinner conversation about Back to the Future. I bet he could have subbed for either male in that scene. 88 miles an hour, indeed.

In summation, since I'm very sleepy all of a sudden, I highly recommend it. It was really the most fun I've had at the movies in a long time- even more fun than Hot Fuzz, I would say. ...But this one has babies.

Paul Rudd and babies ftw!