Saturday, April 28

Spring plann(t)ing.

I'm so behind. Spring came early; 70's then snow. Lately it's been cold, then as it warmed up, wet.

I have dahlia bulbs to plant pretty soon. They spent the winter in the basement. Each spring I hope they remember to start growing sprouts. Sometimes they are late but never have they failed.

I also have to start some morning glory seeds. Soak them in water a couple days till they sprout - score them with a knife first.

An old sandbox in the yard is perfect for wildflower seeds. I like the poppys best.

The hardest thing is figuring out what are wildflowers and what are weeds.

Tuesday, April 24

An acquired taste.

Sunday was a liberal arts, culture type day for me. It started with a play at Carthage College. Carthage is just over the border into Wisconsin, right on the shores of Lake Michigan. Talk about lake effect weather; the temperature dropped from 79 to 61 in the span of 10 minutes (and about 5 miles).

Anyway, a friend of ours is a senior there and earned one of the main parts in the play, Uncle Vanya, by the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov (1899). So 13 of us took a road trip to see her and the play.

Nicki played Yelena (the pretty, younger wife) and did quite a nice job. It was 2 ½ hours long with four acts. A brief synopsis of the play is below:

Uncle Vanya consists of a series of interchanges showing the disruptive effect of a summer visit by an ailing Professor and his young wife Yelena to the country estate he inherited from his first wife and managed by Sonya, his plain looking daughter from that marriage, and her Uncle Vanya. The social, cultural and romantic repercussions of that visit affect the entire household which, besides Vanya and Sonya, includes Vanya's mother, a tea-pouring and wisdom spouting old Nanny and the doctor called to treat the Professor's gout whose house call lasts until the end of the play.

Since everything seems to be on the Internet, I found the play in its entirety along with the set descriptions that matched the ones that were used at the college.

I don’t expect anyone to read it. This is more for my reference.

(Act three had a nice rant by the Astroff (the doctor) about the environment. He planted trees as a hobby. He felt too many trees in the countryside were being cleared, disrupting the rivers and wildlife. I never would have thought people would have been worried about the same things over 100 years ago. Way to go Astroff.)

I also found out that it was a TV movie with Rebecca Pidgeon playing the part of a Sonya, the plain looking daughter, giving me a chance to post a couple gratuitous pictures of her. (the one below from her album)

She is a favorite of mine; I’ve seen her in Heist, The Spanish Prisoner, Edmond, and a few episodes of The Unit. Not surprisingly, she is David Mamet’s wife (since those are all works of his).

He also wrote the screenplay for a little seen movie based on it,
Vanya on 42nd Street. She wasn’t in it though. I wonder why?

Sunday night, flipping through the dials, I found Masterpiece Theater’s Bleak House, starring Gillian Anderson. (Lucky for me Clint wasn’t home, otherwise it would have been The Family Guy on Fox.)

I think this is the second go around for it. It was on last fall or winter.

There are six episodes with the first showing Sunday. For a period piece, it’s very engaging. I watched for an hour before realizing that was Gillian Anderson, which is a good thing.

Looking for something different to watch this spring? I highly recommend it. It shouldn’t be hard to catch up.

From WTTW – the local public TV station:

Acclaimed writer Andrew Davies turns his talents to one of Charles Dickens' most brilliant novels, arguably the greatest ever depiction of Victorian London -- from its splendid heights to its most wretched depths.

Honored with a Peabody award and ten Emmy nominations, Bleak House features some of the most famous plot twists in literary history, including a case of human spontaneous combustion and an infamous inheritance dispute that is tied up for generations in the dysfunctional English courts.

An epic feast of characters and storylines, Bleak House is Dickens' passionate indictment of the convoluted legal system that is as searingly relevant today as it was in the mid-19th century. The court of Chancery becomes the center of a tangle of relationships at all levels of society and a metaphor for the decay and
corruption at the heart of Victorian England.

Starring Gillian Anderson, Charles Dance, Alun Armstrong, Ian Richardson, Nathaniel Parker, Richard Griffiths, Phil Davis, Joanna David and Carey Mulligan.

Thursday, April 19

Happy Birthday Flo.

I the pop sound. Maybe that explains my fondness for Death Cab for Cutie but way back then there was The Turtles.

Nowadays, my tastes for music lean more towards new than retro but I always thought The Turtle's songs were enjoyable to listen to. (I hear the name Eleanor and think of Adam Cohen's Low Million's version but there was an earlier Elenore). Note from Wiki: The blissful-sounding "Elenore" may be the only Top Ten single to contain et cetera in it's lyrics. Ha.

Flo turns 60 today.

Mark Volman Born: 19-Apr-1947

Birthplace: Los Angeles

CA Gender: Male

Religion: Presbyterian

Race or Ethnicity: White

Sexual orientation: Straight (I don't remember this being a question 40 years ago. Ha.)

Occupation: Singer

Nationality: United States

Something to talk about.

Sorry Sanjaya. This is how it's done. (I'll kind of miss him though.)

Monday, April 16


The kitchen table is our bulletin board. We leave notes for each other on the newspaper and on the back of envelopes. Amy left this for me since our paths haven't crossed yet today. It sums up my feelings.

Tax deadline looming, My Hump, and Radio Radio.

I'm busy so I'll just use other people's stuff:

Click it, there is much detail to it.

I'll start out with the famous cartoon of a 1040 form by the late Jeff MacNelly (Shoe and once cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune). They usually run it every year, similar to the old fall favorite Indian Summer by John McCutcheon. The Tribune appreciates it's cartoonists.

The San Franciso Chronicle had an article with writers picking their favorite YouTube videos.

This was Joe Selvin's choice:

Alanis Morissette: "My Humps," 4:09: Almost 3 million people watched this sly, wicked parody of the Black Eyed Peas in the first week it was posted on YouTube.

Reportedly filmed at her own apartment in front of a white sheet, the Morissette version of "My Humps" treats the hip-hop number as a slowed-down singer-songwriter piece with Morissette, flexing heretofore previously unrevealed comedic skills, acting out the drama and angst of the piece, makeup running down her cheeks, until the final frame, when she breaks into peals of laughter.

There is no record, no official video, no mention of the parody on her Web site. It seems to be just a wacky freelance job with no agenda other than well-deserved poke at the Peas and the group's ridiculous hit song.

This is a breakthrough piece for both Morissette, who little has been heard from since her mid-'90s smash, "Jagged Little Pill," and YouTube, which has become one of the most potent tools for exposure the music business has ever had.

And Tim Goodwin's:

Elvis Costello on "Saturday Night Live," (December 1977), 2:58: Most musical acts on television are rote and boring.

Not Elvis Costello and the Attractions in this notorious moment, when the young, wiry and punkish Costello (who had already played "Watching the Detectives" for his first song) managed to supremely annoy "SNL" czar Lorne Michaels by messing up the running time of the show (there are many theories about why Costello was essentially banned from the show -- he didn't return again until 1989 -- but it was all about throwing the timing out of whack).

So much for being "live," as Costello would later say. His sin was first launching into the scathing "Less Than Zero" only to yell, "Stop, stop!" to the band a fiery nine seconds into the song, then careening into a blistering version of "Radio Radio," which tells a tale about the corporate squashing of musical freedom. Above and beyond the back story, the song rocks.

Thursday, April 12

Kurt Vonnegut.

November 11, 1922 - April 11, 2007.

Kurt Vonnegut:

If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

The Dandy Warhols, We used to be friends. From the album Welcome to the Monkey House.

The song is theme song for Veronica Mars tv show.

First video is clips of the show, the second was made in a video competition. Puppets.

Kurt would have smiled I think.

Monday, April 9

Classified to Crane Wife to Killers.

My brother wondered if my pictures make the paper because I’m the only one that sends them in. Thanks a lot Bruce.

For my birthday I told Amy I’d like either The Decemberists’ The Crane Wife or The Killers, though I didn’t know the name of The Killers' album.

That cemented the decision. Unless I asked for women’s shoes, Amy doesn’t like shopping. I got The Crane Wife. Anyway I really like the album. It was named one of the best of 2006.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

In the course of looking up a video to go with it, I found myself connecting one to another till I ended up with The Killers. Guess I’ll have to get that one too.

The Crane Wife (from Wiki).

The Crane Wife is an old Japanese tale.

While there are many variations of the tale, a common version is that a poor man finds an injured crane on his doorstep (or outside with an arrow in it), takes it in and nurses it back to health.

After he releases the crane, a woman appears at his doorstep with whom he falls in love and marries.

Because they need money, his wife offers to weave wondrous clothes out of silk that they can sell at the market, but only if he agrees never to watch her making them.

They begin to sell them and live a comfortable life, but he soon makes her weave them more and more.

Oblivious to his wife's diminishing health, his greed increases.

He eventually peeks in to see what she is doing to make the silk she weaves so desirable.

He is shocked to discover that at the loom is a crane plucking feathers from her own body and weaving them into the loom.

The crane, seeing him, flies away and never returns.

Band leader (The Decemberists) Colin Meloy found a version of this story and decided to write music based on it.

The Decemberists making of The Crane Wife part 1.

Definitely sounds like Robyn Hitchcock, an old favorite of mine.

Robyn with The Decemberists, Feb 2007. I think they know it too.

Robyn with Deni Bonet. She played a song with Robyn in the Jonathan Demmi music video movie, Storefront Hitchcock. Yes, I own it. And I have Stop Making Sense too. One of the best music movies till Scorsese does The Rolling Stones (which he is working on).

Jonathan Demmi also directed the great music video movie Stop Making Sense with The Talking Heads. A must see. He also directed New Order’s Perfect Kiss. Almost 10 minutes of 1980’s sound. It’s funny; I used to really like this song. I can see people dancing to the light of a mirror ball at 2:30 AM. Now, its only so-so. ??? BTW, MORE COWBELLS.

New Order also did Crystal. The Killers got their name from the name on the fictional band’s (for the video) drum face, "The Killers".

Ending up with The Killers, When You Were Young. "He doesn’t look a bit like Jesus but he looks like a gentleman."

So at least to me, everything is connected. It's a small world.