28 August 2008


March 2005: CD-R

01. Bebel Gilberto, "Simplesmente"
02. Sam Phillips, "Five Colors"
03. The Free Design, "I Found Love"
04. Rufus Wainwright, "Gay Messiah"
05. Tamas Wells, "Even in the Crowds"
06. The Shins, "Saint Simon"
07. Sufjan Stevens, "Sister"
08. Black Box Recorder, "The New Diana"
09. The Weakerthans, "One Great City!"
10. The Poppy Family, "Free From The City"
11. Steve Wynn, "Morningside Heights"
12. Fiona Apple, "Extraordinary Machine"
13. Ella Fitzgerald, "Black Coffee"
14. Saint Etienne, "Former Lover"
15. Junior Boys, "Teach Me How to Fight"
16. Tompaulin, "Slender"
17. Paul Brill, "Indian Summer"
18. Arab Strap, "Devil Tips"
19. Brian Eno, "Everything Merges With the Night"
20. Ivy, "Back In Our Town"

I already commented on Part One of this double disc mix; I did not intend for two whole years to fly by before writing an entry on Part Two, but so it goes. This disc is the comparatively chilled, come-down cousin to the other disc's frenzied, let's-get-out-of-the-house-and-party soundtrack. I wouldn't go so far to describe myself as a homebody or a wallflower, but I think in personality terms, I'm more Part Two than Part One, although I was aiming for some kind of balance between the two halves.

Listening to it now, Part Two feels a lot like a warm-up to a mix I made the following year, which has the same reasoning behind the song selection, but expands on the continuous flow and unwavering mood. However, like Part One, Part Two opens with a powerful one-two punch: light as air but resounding through its gossamer layers and simple piano chords, Bebel Gilberto's song gives the mix a stark, attention-grabbing first few moments before it effortlessly segues into Sam Phillip's even simpler acoustic strum and impassioned vocal.

From there, it jumps around a veritable cornucopia of themes and genres. The Free Design's vintage sunshine pop sits next to Rufus Wainwright's clever, blasphemous come-on; The Weakerthans snidely love/hate their hometown while fellow Canadians The Poppy Family long for release from an undisclosed locale; Ella Fitzgerald sings the blues but not before Fiona Apple reinvents them as an eloquently warped production number from an alternate universe evil Disney cartoon; Steve Wynn and Paul Brill both sit back and take it all in stride, while Junior Boys use the opposite approach, grafting an impassioned, 1980s-ready dramatic ballad over a busy, intense but pensive rhythm.

I won't argue that everything here sounds like it belongs--after all, what ended up here was basically anything too peppy for Part One. Still, I think it concludes as well as it begins. The Arab Strap song was taken off a compilation I had to review, and it sounds like little else I've heard: a Scotsman slurring over a delicate guitar arpeggios and two exceptionally sinister violins. The Brian Eno song is the second-last one off of ANOTHER GREEN WORLD, and the Ivy song is the closer on their best album, so sue me for putting them in the same sequence on my mix--it works.

13 August 2008


A confession: I haven't seen a movie in a theater for two-and-a-half weeks.

(Pause for collective gasp from the blogosphere)

For most people, that revelation would not seem abnormal, but when it comes to movies, I'm not exactly normal. I usually catch something on the big screen at least once a week if not twice. And I work at a theatre, for christ sakes. So why has my movie-going dropped off so dramatically?

It's not as if I don't want to go to the movies- there's always something to see. In fact, my "films to see" spreadsheet currently has at least four or five titles on it. However, I can think of a good excuse for not making the effort to see each one: THE DARK KNIGHT and MAMMA MIA! require a trip to the multiplex, which, like a good film snob I tend to avoid as much as possible (although the latter is playing at the Kendall Square, go figure); BEFORE I FORGET is at the MFA, so the showtimes are few and far between; TELL NO ONE is playing where I work, but lately the last thing I want to do is stay there an extra three hours at the end of the day.

Actually, the real problem may be that I'm not dying to see any of these films, much less other titles I have some interest in (THE LAST MISTRESS, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS). Late summer tends to be a fallow period for moviegoing in general, but this year seems especially slim. Fortunately, there's great stuff (that I've already seen, natch) currently playing at both the multiplex (WALL-E, which begs for a big screen) and art house (MAN ON WIRE, not only the best documentary of the year thus far, but one that could've easily made this list). A few promising things are also on the horizon, like Woody Allen's VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA (which opens at the Coolidge this Friday), Isabel Coixet's ELEGY (which, like the Allen film, also stars Penelope Cruz), and Sundance winner FROZEN RIVER.

I doubt I'll ever get sick of or - god forbid - stop going to the movies. If this downtime has one advantage, it's that I have more time to make a few extra dents in my Netflix queue. I've spent the last few weekends getting caught up on the slightly overhyped but quite enthralling TV series MAD MEN, and am about to watch the final season of THE WIRE. Also saw Wong Kar Wai's much maligned MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS, which was okay despite a shallow screenplay and Norah Jones' flat performance. Much better was Martin Scorsese's AFTER HOURS, a surreal, economical caper of the sort I wish he'd return to... plus, it has a inimitable, delightfully deranged, ice cream truck-driving Catherine O'Hara in it.