November 28 – 29, 2014

It was so exciting to watch all the Black Out Black Friday protests unfolding via Twitter. In a society where legislators are for sale to the highest bidder, it’s eminently sensible for political activism to strike directly at the capitalist/corporatist power structure. And I was hugely impressed at the size of some of the protests, especially in St. Louis. 

Certainly enormously bigger than anything I’ve ever seen associated with Buy Nothing Day.

We drove into Roanoke and went ice skating. It’s actually kind of difficult to skate immediately after the rink has been Zamboni’d – my skates were going all over the place. I only skate once or twice a year anyway, so I’m operating at a consistent heavy deficit, but this was yet still more difficult.

Ten minutes of the little ice hockey hellions skidding everywhere, though, and it was just fine. 

Oh! The other day I promised some thoughts on Birdman when I got back to civilization. Here they are:

I mentioned that Birdman is a tour de force, and it is, of cinematography. It’s constructed to resemble a single take, and the camera is nearly constantly moving, swooping from set piece to set piece, following one person into a scene and then following another out of it.

It’s a movie about the theater, and about the tension between Hollywood and Broadway, or rather Hollywood actors and New York actors, since any actual line between Hollywood and Broadway was erased sometime long before The Lion King became the longest-running Broadway musical ever.

In that sense it’s extraordinarily old-fashioned, or rather it pretends to be, because it’s not really about all of that stuff, so much as it’s about confidence, in all of its permutations.

Despite the endlessly moving camera & other cinematographical trickery, the dialogue is hopelessly stagey, as perhaps befits a movie about the staging of a play, although I think I’d rather watch an entirely naturalistic movie about the staging of a play.

Edward Norton is amazing. So are Emma Stone’s eyes – they’re twice as big as anyone else’s. Everyone’s a little bit manic in a “theater people!” kind of way. Michael Keaton is fine, which is to say he’s actually pretty great, inasmuch as he’s playing sort of a hack actor during most of it, but one who has occasional flashes of brilliance onstage.

I don’t know how well it will age – there are a lot of Twitter references – but it’s probably the most interesting & engaging movie I have seen all year, so that’s something.

Drove home today (Saturday the 29th). Google Maps lady ignored my request to be routed via US 29 and instead sent me via a labyrinthine series of back roads. It was a gorgeous day & the roads were so obscure that there was very little traffic, so it was actually pretty awesome. Lots of rolling hills & small farms.

I listened to the new Tender Fruit album three or four times in a row in the car, and confirmed that it’s a shoo-in for my top-10 list this year. I’m afraid it’s going to get caught up in holiday shuffles and the general indifference of the press at large, and get overlooked, which would be an enormous shame. It’s heartbreakingly good, and in an idiom – stripped-down rueful female singer-songwriter – that has wider appeal than a lot of what I listen to.

November 28 – 29, 2014

November 22, 2014

I think the current series of CS lectures I’ve been watching has outrun its usefulness, which is actually too bad, because I have come to believe that for at least some topics, I really do learn better via the combination of listening, note-taking and watching slides. 

I’ve also noticed recently that having a solid grounding in some fairly basic core concepts and vocabulary has made it easier to understand all the books that I’m going to have to rely on for the other stuff I’m trying to learn. Yay education!

After lunch there was a brief errand run, partially accompanied by the Sound Opinions dudes fawning over Robert Plant. To his credit, he sounded pretty self-deprecatory and grounded. There was one moment where Greg Kot floated some theory that he was clearly very proud of having conceived, and Plant was like “no, I disagree." 

Critics: Keep inventing those convoluted nutjob theories about other people’s art; it’s a fun game. But in an interview context, maybe just ask open-ended questions?

Got to Gocciolina at 5:35 and snagged the last 2 seats at the bar. I was really happy to see photos on Facebook from the friends-and-family soft opening of The Boot, since it will hopefully ease the pressure on Gocciolina somewhat. I love that they’re super-successful, but having to go full-bore packed house with your dinner service from the opening bell has got to be stressful.

I remember looking at the kitchen crew, thinking about how tired they must be, and then looking at the clock and realizing it was only 6:45.

Food was awesome, of course. 

(I’m also looking forward to trying out The Boot when it opens for real, because I’m a longtime fan of Andy’s cooking. The menu looks more American-Italian, though, and I have a pretty limited ability to handle cheese.)

M stayed home and watched Nights of Cabiria, and I went to Carrboro to see Gross Ghost & desark & The Tender Fruit. Good times, always:

Not pictured: the ~13-year-old girl who stood right down front next to the speaker cabinet throughout the des ark and Tender Fruit sets. Her mom bought a des ark CD. I hope it straight legit changes her life.

At no point did I see the Carrboro city bus with Aimée’s photo on the side of it. Drat.

November 22, 2014