31 August 2006


I returned to Milwaukee two weekends ago. I went primarily to see an old friend, although I guess I could also consider the city itself one at this point. I was last there in 2003, when I spent more than enough time (nine days!) flailing about old haunts, trying to recapture something long gone. On this visit, I knew better and stayed for just four nights. Having no expectations (apart from consuming as much frozen custard as possible) made the trip much more enjoyable. What follows is an abbreviated, idiosyncratic tour (is there any other kind?) in two parts. First up: Friday and Saturday.

We used to call the city buses Green Limousines because of their uniform color. The rickety older ones were decidedly un-tank-like.

Schlitz hasn't been brewed in the city it made Famous for nearly a quarter century, but the iconic signage remains omnipresent and celebrated.

Brady Street continues to gentrify, but we'll always have rummage sales and Peter Sciortino's Italian bakery.

Laura spots (and captures) a mighty sunflower on an unassuming city block.

The Times Cinema on Vliet St. We saw RUSSIAN DOLLS there on Friday night, and they even had an employee who somewhat resembled my theater's former programmer.

The hours I spent as a child searching for cool stones along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Klode Park in Whitefish Bay: overcast skies leave the winding path and the beach eerily empty on an August Saturday afternoon.

We were encouraged to "sign this car" (with magic markers) at Gallery Garage, an art show in someone's backyard where Laura had work on display

She purchased a funky, retro hat. But the even funkier car was not for sale... a shame, as they went so well together.

Given their tendency to make like two particular place setting items in the old Mother Goose tale, the massive spoon and maraschino cherry had to be fenced off at the Kopp's Frozen Custard in Glendale.

I take pride in my ethnic heritage on a street corner in Riverwest. Sadly, there was no bowling that day.

Do most of her clients struggle in vain to keep from making fun of her name? Is that to blame for the reduced price?

A moody stroll through gloomy Lake Park, along the bridge over the ravine; I can't imagine it appearing any other way.

And back to the Lake: light pokes through soupy grey skies as revelers gather to watch the gulls.

16 August 2006


I saw this survey here two weeks ago and naturally had to do my own version. I omitted some of the questions, mostly those regarding emo and hip-hop (as I own next to none of either genre). If anyone else is inspired to complete it, let me know...

Name 5 wistful/bittersweet songs that come to mind:
Steve Wynn, “Morningside Heights”
The Kinks, “Waterloo Sunset”
Saint Etienne, “Teenage Winter”
Vince Guaraldi Trio, “Christmas Time is Here”
Ivy, "Edge of the Ocean"

The 4 Best Songs Ever Written:
The Go-Betweens, “Bye Bye Pride”
New Order, “Temptation”
The Magnetic Fields, “All My Little Words”
Belle and Sebastian, “Lazy Line Painter Jane”

3 Current Favorite Songs:
Marit Bergman with Cecelia Nordlund, “Adios Amigos!”
Pet Shop Boys, “Integral”
Goldfrapp, “Ooh La La”

Classic Early Evening Drinking Music:
Louis Prima and Keely Smith, Live From Las Vegas

3 All Time Faves That Never Get Old To You:
The Buggles, “Video Killed the Radio Star”
White Town, “Your Woman”
Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto, “The Girl From Ipanema”

Song You Want To Play At Your Wedding:
The Hidden Cameras, "Ban Marriage"

Song You Want to Play At Your Funeral:
Jeff Buckley, “Hallelujah”

4 Records You Really Dug from 2005:
Saint Etienne, Tales From Turnpike House (UK version)
Kate Bush, Aerial
The Go-Betweens, Oceans Apart
Andrew Bird, The Mysterious Production of Eggs

4 Favorite Records From This Year So Far:
Belle and Sebastian, The Life Pursuit
Roisin Murphy, Ruby Blue
Regina Spektor, Begin To Hope
Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

5 Good Angry Songs:
Calexico, “All Systems Red”
Nellie McKay, “Sari”
Violent Femmes, “Kiss Off”
Kate Bush, “Get Out of My House”
Cibo Matto, “Birthday Cake”

One of Your Favorite Lyrics:
“Terribly rude to waiters / Overtips like Sinatra / Quite fond of Stiv Bators / She drops acid and goes to the Opera”—Stew, “Giselle”

5 Cover Songs Arguably Better Than the Original:
Emm Gryner, “Breathless” (The Corrs)
TV On the Radio, “Mister Grieves” (The Pixies)
Bryan Ferry, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” (Bob Dylan)
The Flying Lizards, “Money (That’s What I Want)” (Barrett Strong)
Johnny Cash, “Personal Jesus” (Depeche Mode)

Great Dance Song You Maybe Never Realized Was a Great Dance song Back in the Day:
Talking Heads, “Once In a Lifetime”

Good Albums To Workout To:
XTC, Black Sea
The Disco Box
LCD Soundsystem

Good Album to Clean The House To:
Junior Senior, D-D-Don’t Stop the Beat

Good Dining Music:
Sam Phillips, A Boot and a Shoe

A Good Album To Have Sex To:
Massive Attack, Mezzanine

A Good Album To Put You In the Mood (that is Not Sade, Marvin Gaye or Barry White):
Junior Boys, Last Exit

Good Album To Sleep To:
Mazzy Star, So Tonight That I Might See

5 Good Rock Songs That You Can Dance To:
The Smiths, “What Difference Does It Make”
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, “Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?”
The Kinks, “You Really Got Me”
The White Stripes, “Seven Nation Army”
Ani DiFranco, “Shameless”

4 Good Dance Songs (any kind):
Madonna, “Ray of Light”
Toni Braxton, “Spanish Guitar (HQ2 extended mix)”
Saint Etienne, “He’s on the Phone”
Deee-Lite, “Groove is in the Heart”

Songs That Are Too Damn Sad:
Jill Sobule, “Rock Me to Sleep”
Portishead, “Biscuit”
Mr. Airplane Man, “How Long”
Rufus Wainwright, “Go or Go Ahead”

4 Happy, Life Affirming Songs:
Heaven 17, “Temptation”
Sleater-Kinney, “Step Aside”
Stars, “Reunion”
Puffy AmiYumi, “Love So Pure”

5 Great Love Songs:
Velvet Underground and Nico, “I’ll Be Your Mirror”
Lou Reed, “Satellite of Love”
The Judybats, “Ugly On The Outside”
The Delays, “Nearer Than Heaven”
Mekons, “Last Dance”

An Album Full of Tenderness:
Stevie Wonder, Innervisions

Song To Cheer Up A Friend:
Pet Shop Boys, “Se a Vida E (That’s The Way Life Is)"

Song To An Ex That Isn't Meanspirited:
Yaz, “Only You”

Song To An Ex That Is Kinda Meanspirited:
Fiona Apple, “Parting Gift”

Song to Listen to While in The Country Looking at Stars:
Pernice Brothers, “Discover a Lovelier You”

Song to lose your Mind to:
Troll, “Western”

Songs That Make You Feel Amped and Inspired:
New Radicals, “You Get What You Give”
Ivy, “The Best Thing”
Pizzicato Five, “Happy Sad”

Great Semi-Obscure B-side:
Blur, “Black Book” (from the Music is My Radar single)

Song That Makes You Miss Your Mom:
Carole King, “So Far Away”

Tough Break-Up Songs:
Tompaulin, “Slender”
A Girl Called Eddy, “The Long Goodbye”
Dionne Warwick, “Walk On By”

So Happy It Makes You Wanna Skip:
The Free Design, “I Found Love”

Feel No Shame: Great Current Pop Songs:
Gnarls Barkley, “Crazy”
Nelly Furtado, “Maneater”
KT Tunstall, “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”

5 Desert Island Discs off the top of your head (30 sec clock):
Ivy, Apartment Life
Belle and Sebastian, If You’re Feeling Sinister
Brian Eno, Before and After Science
The Avalanches, Since I Left You
Saint Etienne, Smash The System: Singles and More

3 Artists That Were Your Faves 10 Years Ago:
Aimee Mann
Tori Amos
They Might Be Giants

Fave Electronic Record You Own:
DJ Shadow, Endtroducing…

Random Album You Loved In High School But Are Afraid To Admit It:
Janet Jackson, Rhythm Nation 1814

Album You May Have Listened To More In High School than Any Other Album:
The B-52’s, Cosmic Thing

If You Could Enter A Wrestling Ring to a Song It Would Be:
Europe, “The Final Countdown” (thanks to Arrested Development)

Album To Clear A Room With:
Need New Body, UFO

04 August 2006


My reviews of what I saw at the Provincetown International Film Festival are up on the Chlotrudis website. I managed to catch 13 films in four days, including five documentaries, two mockumentaries, and only one foreign language film.

PIFF isn't nearly as expansive a festival as Toronto (which I'm skipping this year), but that doesn't matter when half the incentive to go is P-Town itself. Still, in its eighth year, it's one of New England's better film festivals, and possibly the best place in the region to see queer-focused cinema. Two of my three favorites don't yet have theatrical distribution; oddly enough, the one that does is the least commercial offering I saw at the fest.

03 August 2006


March 2005: CD-R

01. The BellRays, "They Glued Your Head On Upside Down"
02. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, "Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone"
03. Scissor Sisters, "Take Your Mama"
04. Kings of Convenience, "I'd Rather Dance With You"
05. Moloko, "The Time is Now"
06. Mark Mothersbaugh, "Ping Island/Lightning Strike Rescue Op"
07. Roxy Music, "Love Is the Drug"
08. Heaven 17, "Temptation"
09. Basement Jaxx, "Red Alert"
10. Bjork, "Triumph of a Heart"
11. Jennifer Trynin, "Better Than Nothing"
12. A.C. Newman, "Miracle Drug"
13. The Dandy Warhols, "You Were The Last High"
14. Tegan and Sara, "Take Me Anywhere"
15. Hello Goodbye, "Pussycat"
16. Junior Senior, "C'Mon"
17. PJ Harvey and Gordon Gano, "Hitting the Ground"
18. Belle and Sebastian, "I'm a Cuckoo"
19. The Futureheads, "Hounds of Love"
20. Santa Esmeralda, "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"

For a friend's 30th birthday (exactly one day and one month after my own), I made a double disc mix CD. It was blatantly modeled on a series of commercially available mixes with the same title. Each set was curated by a particular band or DJ, including one of my favorites. The general concept behind each edition was for the first disc to consist of peppy, upbeat music you'd hear in a club, while the second disc would include songs to "come down" to--stuff you'd want to hear after you returned home, kicked off your shoes, and lounged on the couch with a glass of pinot.

Thus, this is the party disc--or, as I originally wrote to the recipient, "music to listen to while preparing to get out of the apartment". With the one-two blast of The BellRays' Aretha Franklin-fronting-a-garage-band rave up and Ted Leo's raucous, rollicking tribute to The Specials, Thin Lizzy and Pete Townshend, this is also an exemplary mix for waking up to. I admit to playing it on my iPod on more than a few saggy-eyed morning commutes.

Despite the concept, this feels like a true, varied mix to me. What kind of logic puts a sweeping, quiet-loud-quiet electro/orchestral instrumental track from THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU next to Bryan Ferry's finest moment, a dated but irresistibly funky/geeky critique of the mid-70's singles bar scene? Why does The Futureheads' exuberant, jagged post-punk cover of a Kate Bush anthem lead into a ridiculous yet sublime ten minute flamenco-disco cover of an Animals song? How to explain the existence of Hello Goodbye (an obscure, squeaky, delightful trash-rock combo I had to review for Splendid) or Junior Senior (straight/gay, thin/fat male duo that actually had a great minor hit with "Move Your Feet")? Well, in that last case, they are two quirky tastes that taste fabulous next to each other, plus both are Scandanavian, love The B-52's and are completely bonkers.

It all goes back to feeling; the goal was simply to not be able to sit still while listening to this mix. Hearing it now and struggling in vain not to physically give in to PJ Harvey singing the shit out of a song Gordon Gano should've saved for the next Violent Femmes album, I say mission accomplished.

01 August 2006


Once upon a time, it was merely a song by The Jesus and Mary Chain (later covered by The Pixies). Then, it became a rather bleak film about a young gay Greek-Australian man. Six years later, it was a considerably more intriguing, yet even darker film about Turks living in Germany.

Now, it's something you APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD!

I first saw this commercial last week. It popped up at the end of Jeopardy--you know, that run-through of brief commercial-lettes for the show's sponsors that appear between Final Jeopardy and the closing credits. Amused and a little frightened, I nearly choked on my turkey dog as it whizzed on by. It's a minimalist masterpiece--a mantra, eight words inexplicably repeated three times by an obnoxiously perky female voiceover. She then repeats the product name once more and signs off by letting us know that it is "available without a prescription at retailers nationwide".

However, she regrets to explain exactly what the hell the product is. We see an apparently hypnotized, possibly lobotomized Teri Hatcher impersonator incessantly rubbing what resembles a glue stick back and forth across her forehead, and that's it. The altogether bewildering spot feels like it was made by someone who was taught how to properly make a television commercial, but had never actually seen one.

I couldn't find a website for HEAD ON! (which is essentially a "headache gel": an alternative to Tylenol, perhaps?), but I'm far from the first person to write or talk about its bizarre, low-rent marketing campaign. My god, it even has its own Wikipedia page. And a parody. Or two.

I just don't know how I subsisted for so long without seeing this strange, maddening, wonderful ad.