Some of the art I consumed for the first time last week on my spring break


"The Fear" by Lily Allen
    I was listening to KALX as I am wont to do and they played a song that I like to enough to look up when I got home and not only was it someone I had heard of before, it was even someone famous. This does not often happen on KALX.


    I love this song. For many reasons, but mostly her voice, the music and the lyrics.

    I was just thinking about how my darling dear dislikes my other Lilies, Lili Haydn (whom I like a goodly amount but I once made the mistake of comparing her favorably to Tori Amos) and Lily Holbrook (whom I like some---one song in particular---but who sounds like our children when they whine according to the Lady), and wondering if Lady Steed felt the same about Lily Allen. The answer: she likes her but can't take the potty mouth. Fair enough.


    I remember watching a news report about Wicked shortly before its first San Francisco debut six years ago and thinking Brilliant! That book would make a great play! And then it became the zeitgeist which totally turned me off, but that's just the way I am.

    And of course everyone went on and on about how great it was (including my parents which proved that all the sex was excised, meaning that, yes, the book was quite changed, like folks were saying).

    One thing I heard often was how awesome and unusual the music was and then people would play be a song and . . . it would sound like pretty much every other musical ever written. Not impressed.

    Anyway, this and that and I ended up going to see it this week. On the bright side, my expectations were so low it couldn't fail but impress me, right? On the other hand, I was so deep in the low expectations, could it possibly be good enough to pull me out and make me enjoy it?

    So I tried to like it --- I really did. And here's the results:

    1. It took Glinda a long time to win me over. I now know who Kristin Chenoweth is and all I could think for so long was that this actress was being Kristin Chenoweth being Glinda. Perhaps not fair of me.

    2. Okay, what's so great about these songs? The only really memorable one is "Defy Gravity" (it was also the source of about a third of the play's total clever lines). Although I should say that "Loathing" is way better live than prerecorded.

    3. The play actually follows the book fairly closely the first half (based on my old, unreliable memories) but comes to life in the second half when it stops worrying about the book and turns into a Broadway play. The changes made to include more Glinda and add a happy ending were pretty delightful, actually.

    4. The play is still a novel's worth of story, but it doesn't have time to treat all the necessary elements well, so it's like looking at a book of snapshots. You have to fill in a lot of gaps yourself in order to understand it let alone be carries away by it. Maguire's book is a complete world. Yes, made of bits from the books and movies but complete and whole in itself. The play is not. If you haven't seen the movie, you're screwed.

    So did I like it? Yes. A qualified yes, but yes. It was okay.

    It does make me wonder if I'm missing out. For instance, I was bummed to miss Urinetown and now I wonder if a) I should because if a by-the-numbers musical is okay-likeable, I might really like something genuinely different or b) it's hopeless and I should never waste money on Broadway again.

Red Eye and Cursed Wes Craven
    Wes CravenI'm pretty sure I've never seen a Wes Craven film before so it was a bizarre coincidence to have these two films in my possession this week.

    Red Eye is pretty good. I like it. Clever: stab the guy in the throat. I recommend it.

    Cursed is an unmitigated disaster. This is why I don't consume werewolves. It was written byKevin Williamson who was supposed to be so brilliant. So yeah. Forget all about that.

Sunshine Lies by Matthew Sweet
    Sunshine Lies by Matthew SweetSweet's 100% Fun is one of the great albums of my life. And it occurred to me a little while ago that hey---I've been growing and aging these past ten years and so has Matthew Sweet! I'll bet his most recent album will be the perfect album for me just like 100% Fun was then! So I bought it with the ten bucks Donna Hatch gave me plus eight more of my own.

    Unlike 100% Fun, this album did not become an immediate favorite of mine. Sadly, Matthew Sweet doesn't sound as much like Matthew Sweet as he used to when he was making 100% Fun and Girlfriend and Blue Sky on Mars. His unique voice is hard to recognize and his style of harmony is less on display. And that's a shame.

    But after three listens Sunshine Lies is starting to grow on me. This may turn out okay.

    In other news, Grant Lee Philips has grown up the same way I have. I like Mobilize even better more than Mighty Joe Moon.

And that's the spring break that was.


  1. .

    Caveats and additions:

    My complaints about Wixcked are based in the play itself. The performances were great.

    Red Eye actually had interesting bonus features. This is, as I'm sure you know, rarely the case.

    Lady Steed had heard another Lily Allen song from the new album on KALX which she said was funny but that she would not repeat to me. "She has a pottymouth."

  2. Speaking of favorite songs, I was re-visiting one of my favorites this morning. "Praan" by Garry Schyman. I first heard it associated with the 2008 "Where the hell is matt" video (http://www.wherethehellismatt.com)... which I highly recommend you download... you can get the hi-def version at Stride gum's site (http://www.stridegum.com/#/mattsplace/). Two things strike me about this song.

    First, why do I like it? I can't tell if I like it because of the whole vibe of the Matt video, or if it's genuinely a good song.

    Second. Gary Schyman is known for writing really dark music (he did the music for 'Bioshock' and 'Destroy All Humans'). This particular song is really upbeat and has that mysterious travelesque aire about it. The indian voice that sings is haunting and georgeous... it leaves me wishing for an entire album.

    But perhaps that is what makes it so gem-like to me.

  3. Wicked is good but it's not unique. It is your run-of-the-mill blockbuster Broadway show. I liked the show, but that has a lot more to do with seeing original cast on Broadway and brightly colored costumes than the actual play itself.

    Personally, I enjoyed Urinetown as a play much more. It's so over-the-top post-modern self-referential. Much more wit involved.

  4. .

    Edgy--And that's EXACTLY what I like.

    Myke--I heard Marc Cohn on the radio Saturday and thought of you. I'll follow your links when I get home.