Saturday, October 23, 2010

Congratulations to Oregon 189

Nels is now a working Guide Dog for the Blind
The Oregon Guide Dogs for the Blind Class 189 graduated today, and Nels (who I've written about here and here and here and here) was part of that pack. It was an emotional ceremony, and I know it was difficult for Joanne and Scott to lose him to his career, but everyone is thrilled that he will be living and working here in Portland, just a few miles away (Joanne and Scott are a few blocks from me, and Nels is about 3 miles from our hood).

If you would like to meet Nels, and you have a piano, call Acoustic Piano Tuning and Service, (503) 284-6653 for a tuning. Nels is their newest employee, working alongside the owner Jerry.

Nels has grown into quite a dog, speeding through the advanced training, but the minute his harness came off after graduation, he was his old goofball self saying hi to his old pack.
Lopez, Nexus and Davinci of the Lee/Mechling pack
Congratulations and good luck to all.

Happy Birthday Augusten Burroughs

For a while, around 2004, after I read Running with Scissors and Dry and an essay he wrote on his dog for Bark, Augusten and I were an item. I mean, he didn't know that, since we hadn't met or anything, but we totally were. Me, and him, Rebel and his dog... we just needed to get rid of that guy, his partner.

Then I saw something shiny and got distracted.

Then I read Magical Thinking and finally finished Sellevision (a book I picked up on its initial release, at an airport, and read about 1/3 of before putting it away, never realizing it was the same guy until years later). It was time to start seeing other people.

Actually that's way harsh, he's a fantastic writer, but it would be difficult for anyone to follow the combination of Running with Scissors and Dry with a third book that good, in that short period of time. RWS is fantastic, and Dry is an all-time favorite. I am pretty liberal with sharing my books, but my autographed copy of Dry (I purchased it that way, in hardback by the way, so who knows if he ever touched that book or some Laotian kid getting $1.17 per day signed it in some St. Martin's Press sweat shop) is off limits.

For no clear reason, here's a random person reading the first two pages of Dry. They are even better when you read them for yourself.

Even better when you read them for yourself--believe it.

And happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Happy Birthday Johnny Carson

I credit Lisa with the explanation for why I think Carson is superior to Letterman (from the time when they were pretty much the 2 options, Leno being a non-option to this day). Lisa noted that Carson let his guests be funny, while Letterman wants to one-up them. I think that's still true.

I put "Johnny Carson" into YouTube and an interview with Grace Jones was among the first results, so I'm going with that, because why not.

And here is the Nut Lady (a different nut than Grace):

And a TV classic with Madeline Khan:

And, because my options are limited, here's a clip of Carson hosting the Oscars (he's my all-time favorite host, but that's probably because he was the first host I watched and he exists in a time when I wasn't super critical of every aspect of the shows) from the Spanish language Yahoo video channel (I have no idea):

Happy birthday dude! Rest in peace.

Notes on the Trashcan Sinatras house party (first of a few)

I have a bunch of stuff I want to write about (including the small, super-fan funded gig as new concert business model), so I've decided not to tackle it all at once (I know you're relieved). But first and foremost, the band sounded great. Like just amazing. Their sound is really conducive to a stripped down format, and these guys have been going 20 years solid, so I will try to moderate my surprise. But still, as a concert experience, it was fantastic.

The band solicited requests in advance and covered a lot of them (based on what I recall seeing in the emails). They also dedicated songs to audience members and I'm pretty sure they thanked everyone at the party by name (at some point I heard people saying "where's Richard" and after a few seconds I realized they meant me). It was a good array of music including stuff from the new album (appropriately placed, not the focus as a typical concert tour would do).

They have house parties planned for Las Vegas and Los Angeles, so if you're a Trashie who's stumbled across this and are able to make that happen, do it. You'll be happy you did.

None of my videos are any good--the layout of the house meant either close quarters or, my usual concert position, just out of sight of the band, near fresh air. I am hoping many of the other cameras on tripods will end up supplying clips soon. That's why I have nothing for you here.

Song of the Day: "Blackbird and the Fox"

The new Twilight Singers album isn't expected until February of next year, but they've released the first single, a collaboration with Ani DiFranco, as a free download (here).

Song: "Blackbird and the Fox"
Artist: Twilight Singers/Ani DiFranco

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Todd Graff

Who? Here you go:
  1. A cast member of Electric Company, as part of the Short Circus (but not at the same time as Irene Cara, who was incorrectly credited as winning an Oscar for "Fame" when I looked up the song below on Wikipedia--I've rained on that parade [hey, she won for "Flashdance" so take your passion and make it happen, I've got work to do]).
  2. He was in The Abyss (granted, not one of the exceptionally hot guys, but still, The Abyss).
  3. He wrote and directed the marvelously campy Camp--I'd call it a gayer version of Glee, but I don't know if that's possible; really Glee is a Disney-fied version of Camp
Since I have enough college credits to have a minor in Theater in addition to Biology (look at me, gay and smart), I have a real fondness for the screenplay of Camp. The line "we were in 'Night Mother together" is really funny if you know it's a two-woman play.

He made a musical number out of Victoria Williams's "Century Plant" while showing appropriate fealty to Stephen Sondheim. 

And, AND, Don Dixon. My beloved Don Dixon, who isn't an actor, acts in the movie. Don Dixon.

It's possible Graff made this movie specifically for me. That would be weird, right? I mean, really kinda stalkerish since I've never met the dude or anything. But let's look at one of Dixon's juicier bits of dialog--he plays a washed up musical theater playwright whose teaching a Summer performing arts camp full of teens:
If I can teach you one thing, which is supposed to be my job here. It'd be that you should all go home. Michael Bennett's dead. Bob Fosse is dead. Times Square is a theme park now. I hate to be the Grinch, but it's not normal what goes on up here. Somebody has got to warn you. Teenage faghags become adult faghags. Straight boys are straight. You can't turn 'em just because you need to be loved. The foundation that's being laid here is not going to help you in the real world. It's going to lead to waitressing jobs and bitterness and the obsessive, pointless collecting of out-of-print original cast albums.
Well, clearly not written for me. Bob Fosse is not dead--as long as we have jazz hands, Fosse lives on.

I think I've used Anna Kendrick's amazing "Ladies Who Lunch" a few times, and "Century Plant" before, so I'm going with a sweet song that's the heart of the movie's emotional climax. Music by Oscar winner Michael Gore, lyrics by Tony winner Lynn Ahrens, and performed by Tiffany Taylor who appears to have disappeared after this. Shame, that's a voice.

So look for Camp, and happy birthday to Todd Graff. I can't believe you didn't write the movie for me, but whatev. Rock on dude!

Happy Birthday (again) Marc Shaiman

I'm hoping he runs across this post because he needs to jump on adapting Soap Dish or Pee-Wee's Big Adventure for Broadway (in his spare time, also I magically grant him all the rights he needs, he just needs to print this out, and I'm pretty sure Hugh Jackman and, let's say Glenn Close, are eager to do either project, so producers are chomping to back this--make sure you keep a copy of this for your records).

Smith and I listened to XM radio while in Louisiana last weekend, mostly the show tunes station(!!!)--it was an easy common language for us both. Something from Les Miz came on and it was judged, if I recall correctly, "a little much." This prompted me to ask if he'd ever seen South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, as its brilliant song score includes a loving homage to Les Miz. This marks the 287th time I've had to explain the genius of the movie and its music, despite the fact that it's a "gross-out kids cartoon."

The film's songs were written by Trey Parker (lyrics) and birthday boy Marc Shaiman (music), and I've wanted a Hollywood Bowl concert performance of the songs for a decade now. I think we can all agree that seeing Josh Groban sing "Uncle Fucka" under the stars would be teh awesum (and possibly a sign of the apocalypse). And while the lyrics are fun and sometimes savagely genius, Shaiman's scores are so nicely crafted that you could easily mistake them for something from an old favorite musical (I mean, aside from gratuitous use of "fuck" and calling Anne Murray a bitch).

And yes, I am shameless kissing his ass so he'll be obligated to work on my random musical ideas (just print this out dude, you'll be fine). But also I can just send people like Smith this posting so they'll, perhaps, trust me that the movie, as a musical, is really fantastic.

Hey, cool, the Berklee College of Music took my idea and ran with it (and they're successful, seriously Shaiman, do it!). Here's "Mountain Town"--oh what a beautiful morning indeed.

"Up There" is a song that casts Satan as a Disney Princess. Seriously.

Perhaps the reason Les Miz is "a bit much" is the way out of proportion scope relative to the crime (yes, I get that's the whole point, whatev)--if the hero had been trying to liberate the stars of his favorite TV show instead, it might have been "a bit perfect." Here's the Oscar-nominated "Blame Canada" and "La Resistance":

I'm gonna leave you with a song that is given a deluxe treatment by the Violent Femmes on the soundtrack (which I can't find), but here's the original, sung by Saddam Hussein to Satan. It's "I Can Change":

Happy birthday dude! Call me when you're ready to start work. And rock on!

Song of the Day: "Men Will Do Anything"

Yes, once more to Here Lies Love--this track features British singer Alice Russell. Attention drag queens of America (and Tim McGraw [sooner or later he will take my advice]), you can own this song and use it for the rest of your career, just get on it quick, before Crystal Pepsi beats you to it (where the hell is my boa...).

If you haven't heard me blather on about Here Lies Love yet, go here or here or  here or here.

Song: "Men Will Do Anything"
Artist: David Byrne/Fatboy Slim/Alice Russell

With only occasional humiliating lapses...

(h/t Towleroad)

Previously on the Rebel Agenda (here),  we talked about that gay who had the audacity to perform sex acts in front of his students clad in full leather regalia acknowledge that he is gay when asked why he wasn't married by one of his students. The parent(s) of one of the students in the class threatened to pull the kid from the school (note to everyone, everywhere: don't like it? threaten to pull your kid, it works!) and dude was no longer at the school (so he's a grad student doing in-class teacher training, he wasn't "fired" in the sense that he wasn't employed, but he was removed).

Well, great news Mrs. Parks, after much consideration we think it might be okay for you to sit up near the front of the bus after all!!! The school issued this statement:
"The Beaverton School District and Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education have jointly agreed to offer Seth Stambaugh the opportunity to return to his original student teaching placement at Sexton Mt. Elementary School starting late next week. Lewis & Clark and the Beaverton School District will continue to provide Mr. Stambaugh with a high level of support as we do for all student teachers as they begin to serve students and the greater community. We are moving forward with our common values and principles of equity, respect and inclusion."
Starting... now.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bitch, please (part 2)

(h/t Towleroad)

Keith takes on Ginni's request for an apology.

Okay, have a good day.

Not that you asked: Best New Artist candidates

There was some discussion on one of my awards blogs about whether Janelle MonĂ¡e was eligible for Best New Artist this year. The Grammys have changed the rules in the past (strict adherence to the old rules made Whitney Houston ineligible because of a relatively obscure duet with Teddy Pendergrass, and revised rules allowed Shelby Lynne to win with her fifth major label album), and there was a lot of outrage (relative outrage) that Lady Gaga was ineligible last year due to a nomination she received the prior year.

It's a lot of detail you don't really want, but the gist was that maybe the rules would be revised again.

Instead they need to drop the fucking category. Yes, there have been plenty of deserving winners, but the number of great musicians who were never nominated makes the category kind of silly. (More silly, that is, I get that it's an awards show and some people might think that's a bit silly... straight people, sheesh.) There can be dozens of great country albums in a year, but the number of great "artists establishing their public identity" in a given year is very limited.

It's long been the Grammy Awards' biggest albatross. This category is why Mark Calderon of Color Me Badd can honestly say he is a Grammy nominee (and I checked to confirm that they hadn't been nominated in like Pop Duo or Group with Vocals [I'm pretty sure they aren't, but I didn't check like videos or Liner Notes, so maybe])--by the way, imagine my squeal of delight to see an article with this title: "The former Color Me Badd members have never told their whole story in one place, until now" (I know, go read it here, then come back). That story is less than a month old!!!!!

Oh my god even I'm bored with this. Here are my thoughts:
  • Mumford & Sons and Florence + the Machine both seem like pretty solid contenders for a nomination, so at least 1 of those 2.
  • I don't think Justin Bieber is the shoe-in most people do, but I will put his name in a hat, along with Susan Boyle and Kris Allen, and predict 1 of those 3.
  • I am really surprised to see Vampire Weekend, Rodrigo Y Gabriella, and Owl City eligible this year; I am going to add them into a hat with The xx, Temper Trap, and Mark Ronson & the Business Intl. (Ronson won 3 Grammys a few years ago) and say any 1 of those.
  • This next hat (what's up with all the hats) is random solo artists, K'naan, V. V. Brown, Melanie Fiona, Kid Cudi, La Roux, B.o.B., and Mayer Hawthorne. With Monae not eligible (at this time, from what I've seen), and "Waving Flags" used as the anthem for the World Cup, K'naan feels surprisingly strong to me. Or I'm really tired. A smart man would say Ke$ha.
  • The fifth nomination comes from someone I've already listed (actually I think both Mumford and Florence will be nominated, so there wasn't really room for a fifth hat)--much as I like Miike Snow, I don't see that happening. And it's just adorable to see Two Door Cinema Club on the submissions list.

Notes on Red

No, it's not the prequel to Reds. It is as much fan as I hoped based on the trailers. It's not a flawless movie, but it's a damn good time, and I was delighted to find out that Bruce Willis/Mary Louise Parker don't violate the 10-year rule.

Awards potential? Possibly a nomination for Adapted Screenplay, and I'm gonna say for Best Ensemble from the Screen Actors Guild.

I will also put Helen Fucking Mirren out there as a dark horse candidate for Best Supporting Actress. Not that her resume will be left lacking if she doesn't, did I mention how much fun the movie is?

Things I really liked about the movie: the 5 main actors, wait 6 (Karl Urban, so good as McCoy in Star Trek, is great here too); the supporting cast, including some actors whose presence surprised me; the script is pretty funny and smart; the movie's pacing is solid.

Nit picks? Sure, but nothing worth mentioning as we are concentrating on the "fun" aspects of the movie. And it is.

It will hold up just fine on video, but if you haven't made it out to a movie in a while, you could do a lot worse.

Jack McBrayer in a role that will surprise you

(h/t Jared)
Jack McBrayer/Gerald "Buster" Dempsey Posey III
Coming soon to Spike, What's My Name Again? The Gerald "Buster" Dempsey Posey III Story. The true story of a young man's determination to overcome a confusing number of names to become part of Major League Baseball. (That's as much as I've got--aside from the Giants kicking Philly ass this year, Jared doesn't seem bothered by him and as far as I know he hasn't harmed anyone I care about [aside from Jared/Phillies], so there's not much snark here.)

It should be noted that Buster is a catcher, and I usually pitch, so next time he's in town I will have to have a little game with him. See a more flattering photo of him below.

Bitch, please

Previously on the Rebel Agenda (here) we discussed Ginni Thomas, the wife of Clarence Thomas/former cult member/highly paid shill for billionaires.

Well, in a move so classy I actually checked to see if she is from South Carolina originally (home of crazy): she is asking Anita Hill to apologize for accusing her husband of sexual harassment.
Good morning, Anita Hill, it's Ginni Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. Okay have a good day.
I'm really at a loss for anything sufficiently snarky (aside from "bitch, please"), but given her history with cults, I really am kinda worried that she's in another one.

Someone please check Ginni Thomas for cult activity.

Okay, have a good day.

RIP Bob Guccione

Dear Penthouse Forum,

I'd always read your letters but never dreamed something like that would ever happen to me. No wait, that's not at all true. In fact, through most of ages 14 through like 38 I dreamed, and hoped, and kinda tried to get many of those things to happen. They just never did... (that we will discuss here).

Bob Guccione founded Penthouse and its various brand extensions, as well as "in front of the counter" magazines like Omni, Viva and Longevity. There's a mention in his Wikipedia entry (here) that the Penthouse Forum magazine spin-off was originally started for UGA students in Athens. I guess Bulldogs need extra help figuring out sex...

Guccione's most famous film venture is the exceedingly over-the-top Caligula (starring Malcolm McDowell, Helen Fucking Mirren, Peter O'Toole and John Gielgud--suck on that PBS), but he also helped finance Chinatown and The Day of the Locusts.

He was never as iconic as Hugh Hefner, nor as _____ as Larry Flynt (I'm really at a loss for the right word here--I have a certain adoration for Flynt as a First Amendment advocate and something of a trouble-maker [the good kind of trouble-maker, a rascal]... but I didn't want to use the word "extreme" and have it come across in a negative way). But I think that may summarize Guccione's lot in life, riding comfortably in the middle ground (and by comfortably I mean that Forbes ranked him among the wealthiest Americans, which I'm sure made having to spell his last name every fucking time he called for a reservation all the more frustrating... I'm guessing).

Guccione passed away yesterday after battling lung cancer. Rest in peace dude.

Song of the Day: "I'm Not Living in the Real World"

And a second song of the day follow-up to the Belle & Sebastian show Tuesday--it's a little daunting keeping up with the various members of the band. There are horns, multiple singers, it gets confusing.

They're like the white Earth, Wind and Fire.

Or the Scottish Chicago.

Either way, the guy who isn't Stuart Murdoch but who does also sing is Stevie Jackson. Jackson also plays with The Vaselines, so recent song of the day "Sex with an X" also featured him (I'm guessing).

Normally I don't like the live clips, but you get more of Jackson's charms this way. This is not the show I saw, although the out-of-tune singing could easily have been me.

Song: "I'm Not Living in the Real World"
Artist: Belle & Sebastian

Song of the Day: "Starting Over (Bad Habits)"

[UPDATE: Whoa! Couldn't post this on Wednesday, so work with me--this is the song of the day for October 20, 2010]

I went to Belle & Sebastian last night, and I made an effort to see the opening act, Portland band Typhoon--I got there by 8:10 and they were well underway. I'm glad I made the effort, these guys are great... all 12 of them. Seriously, 12 musicians on the stage. And it really works--it's difficult for me to describe, but they duplicate instruments to get a much fuller sound and it works. These guys are at Kennedy School on Halloween (it's a Sunday) at noon--I think I can stay awake for noon, so let's all go. Here's their MySpace page (here).

Song: "Starting Over (Bad Habits)"
Artist: Typhoon

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

When I say "skinny bitch" I do mean it with love

How is Robin whatever size she is? Everybody got old but her.

And Peg.

There you go. Now that I think about it, her sister looks damn good too.

First up, Robin in her post-reception dress (gown?). Is that a size 2?

Apparently I need to fix the names of the videos I uploaded to YouTube, so expect more tonight, when I have quality time.

Song of the Day: "Ready to Start"

I've had this song stuck in my head for more than a week; it's the second track to the new Arcade Fire album The Suburbs. Loving the whole album--it requires a sequential listening at first (I'm missing too many good albums by loading them on my phone and then encountering single tracks via shuffle, so trying to change that).

Or maybe 48 hours in a world of strip malls and access roads just makes The Suburbs speak to me a little more than it already did.

Speaking of suburbs, I spent 20 minutes in an "establishment" in the French Quarter chatting with a man named, who knows, let's say "Brandon." When I asked where he was from (honestly I didn't care, but he asked where I was from first)--he said "a small town north of here that you've never heard of, Hammond."

If you don't know that's where the bride's from, where her parents live, where Southeastern Louisiana University is based (go Lions!), and where Charlie Rich died (behind closed doors, naturally), then at least don't be surprised when I tell you that my company has ordered its King Cakes from Hammond for the last 3 years. Shit.

The dude had never heard of Berry Town Produce.

And *I* don't know Hammond?

Q: Which season of Road Rules stopped in Hammond?
A: Season 1, bitches! Season 1.

Song: "Ready to Start"
Artist: Arcade Fire

Yesterday's quote of the day

(h/t Eric)

"So that's what we want is a secure and sovereign nation and, you know, I don't know that all of you are Latino. Some of you look a little more Asian to me. I don't know that."--Nevada U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R)

I know in these somewhat racially charged times it's not easy to know what to say, and how, about issues regarding race, religion, ethnicity, and even gender issues. But I think we can all come together as one nation, and agree that anyone and everyone would have been appropriate in responding "Nigger please!" to that bullshit.

Bitch gonna talk crazy, bitch gonna get crazy.

And we're back...

And so I'm back, from outer space

Wow, that was a comprehensively fun weekend, all things considered. My sole mistake was in not trusting my initial travel plans. "Leave 4 hours earlier? Why not?"

Because by leaving 4 hours earlier you only get in 1 hour earlier. And you give up your aisle seats. Remember your space anxiety issues? That.


Smith can attest to the weird, nearly 20 minutes, when the guy at the Delta counter, disappeared with my photo ID (I just wanted to "undo" that change flights thing--apparently they don't offer that when you see you B-seats). So while I had a very efficient trip scheduled to Salt Lake City, a reasonable 52 minutes on the ground, and then a short trip home, I traded that for a flight into Atlanta, with 90+ minutes on the ground, and then a 5+ hour flight home RIGHT BY THE WINDOW. Apparently 2.5 blue Xanax (spread across both flights) is good. But the real lesson: don't change flights until they guarantee aisle seats. The Delta dude did get me an aisle to Atlanta (bulkhead even) and an emergency exit row/window for the other flight, and I had more Xanax, so it could have been worse.

I am taking Marlynn to every wedding in the future. She is a wealth of personal DVD commentary on who is crazy (with specifics on how, cause "crazy" is way too general a term), which ones are lesbians (active and retired), and who has the best dogs (aside from mine, who she hasn't met, yet). Both Mo and Smith are ordained ministers, and I have to believe either of those ceremonies would have made me feel less like a heathen. But then, open bar, voila, heathen says what?

I'll cover the weekend (as much as I can from either non-dead brain cells or out of the etiquette one follows when someone has juicy shit on you), but for now a celebration of a great number from last week's Teh Glee. We've been trying to get Smith into the show, and this song may have gone a long way, here's "River Deep, Mountain High" (watch the video here).