Saturday, August 26, 2006

Tomato florentine, tornados and Pluto: see receipe for weirdest week yet.

The events of this week push my existence into the realm resembling something like a Twilight Zone episode. Whether it be tumultuous friendships exploding, the very existence of our solar system being pulled apart by technicality or tornados ripping through the grocery store parking lot, this week has led me to believe in the Ordinance of cosmic fate. If everything gets lined up just right, solar flares from Alpha Centuri can really mess with you, man...

I know its been a good whiel since I've posted anything meaningful on this blog. My apologies. The good news: the internet has been hooked up again here at the house, meaning that I'll be able to post more frequently and without having to trek down to campus in order to post. But this is relatively old news.

Pluto has been ruled a "dwarf planet" by a group of astronomers all gathered together somewhere in Europe, discussing the cosmos, life and the preference for wax paper over foil as potato chip bags through a cloud of pot smoke. I don't know how these NASA geeks get anything done.

In any event, the geniuses that be have voted Pluto off the island, leaving us with a meager eight to fight for the champion of "Survivor: Galaxy." What will those CBS execs think of next? My money's on Venus to get the boot next. She's been a shrew ever since the first millenium, and I think Uranus and Neptune have just about had enough.

I will soon find myself without a gym to go to. My membership expires, and I know of no other place that offers a monthly subscription. Doesn't this seem a little retarded? In any event, i'm training myself to get used to not having one (especially in a move out to a community where there is not activity center) by getting ready for running a 5K next month. It seems a good incentive to keep the running up. I want to shoot for a time between 21 and 23 minutes to complete. I do not expect a victory, just the thrill of competition. Beyond that, I've also started biking again, exploring the endless honeycomb of roads that tangle their way through Cleveland and Shaker Heights.

A Eulogy:
Charles Barr (31), bassist with the Cleveland Orchestra died two weeks ago today while on his bike in Cleveland Heights. While entering onto the road, he was unexpectedly hit by an oncoming truck, and was later pronounced dead at the scene by Cleveland EMS. His death has sent shock waves through the community, both musical and residential. It has given pause and a reason for us all to question more what we believe in, and the ultimate uncertainty of our existence. We do not know when our time will come up, and it is an excellent reason to question what we hold faith in.

I have already had the appointed opportunity to have a conversation on this topic with friends who do not believe. Is it not ironic, tragic and yet fitting that the greatest good a man could accomplish might only be in his death?


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen....

Introducing: Imogen Heap

More famously known as half of the British electronica duo Frou Frou, (contributing member to the best-selling soundtracks for the films Garden State and Shrek 2, Imogen's haunting and distinct voice became well known, but her solo work - which has only been released since the 2003 disbandment of Frou Frou - has been flying almost entirely under the radar.

But here's your heads up: before Zach Braff's new film hits theaters next month, you can check out her music at places such as MySpace or to get a taste of her style. The key track: the beautiful, haunting and remarkable "hide and seek."

Reminiscent of Bjork (an influence that cannot entirely be overlooked since Heap's counterpart in Frou Frou has had a long history of working with the Icelandic songstress,) yet with more intensity, the show here is undoubtedly Imogen's inimitable vocal stylings - not only the unique sound of her voice, but also the acrobatic ease with which she flies through very difficult vocal lines and tight (ocassionally) dissonant harmonies which she recorded all her self.

Well worth the listen, expect her to be well known on college radio and indie music circuits after Zach Braff's movie opens. Considering the explosion of interest in the artists featured on his last soundtrack (and the incredible care with which he chose the music,) "Hide and Seek" is sure to bring some much deserved light to the work of Imogen Heap.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Hot Tracks of the Day:

Gorillaz - Dirty Harry
Chad Vangaalen - J.C.'s Head on the Cross
Hive - Ultrasonic Sound
Damien Marley - Road to Zion
Gnarls Barkley - Transformer

Check these out for good grooves...


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen: OKGo!

This band is something I dabbled with a little bit a few years ago, but I recently rediscovered their tunes, and my ears have grown to love it. Perfect combinations of equal parts pop and edgy rock make this a fun band to listen to.
An added bonus: the band is perfectly self-aware, not taking themselves too seriously in any of their going-ons, but determinedly never mainstream. The end result: a hidden treasure of tuneful melodies ideally suited to the paisely-adorned hipster who didn't ever give up on his candy-coated listening habits.

What forced me to rediscover OKGo was seeing the music video for their song "Here it Goes Again" and realizing how brilliant the idea was. Decidedly lo-tech, you must see how this band treats eight treadmills used simultaneously to craft their video. The most amazing part: its all done in one take. Take that, Michael Gondry.

Check out the band's website to bask in the group's on-the-head funky image. You can watch music videos from their own site at, but you'll have to head to to catch the treadmill action.

OkGo has certainly garnered its legions of followers all over the world, and perhaps one day they will really get the attention that is deserving of them, but until then, we get to enjoy the self-amusing music videos from a band that apparently doesn't have enough to do.

The icing on the cake: The band's drummer, (the bald one who is both lip-syncher and ring leader in the music video,) Dan Konopka, is brother to Stanley Konopka, associate principal viola of the Cleveland Orchestra. Funny we don't hear him talk about him a whole lot. Of course, this is the same violist who had a family member married to Jason Newsted (of Metallica) and never mentioned that either. Weird family. At least they kept the same haircut.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Movie Review: The Oh in Ohio
Starring: Parker Posey, Paul Rudd, Mischa Barton, Heather Graham, Danny DeVito
Directed by: Billy Kent

Could-be cult fav settles for C-minus filmmaking.

One of numerous trips to a local tavern started out innocently enough: an order of barbecue chicken wings, a pint and some conversation. Nothing that would merit any notice, except for the fact that halfway through the meal a pair of appropriately clad individuals, claiming to be technical members of a film crew entered our area of the restaurant with the request that we not move around or make any sort of unnecessary noise so as not to disturb the quality of sound recording going on during the filming next door. Our curiosity piqued, we obliged in exchange for a lengthy conversation with one member of the film crew as to what was going on next door.
The crewman informed us that both Heather Graham and Parker Posey were next door filming scenes for an upcoming motion picture, tentatively titled the Oh in Ohio.

A bit over a year later, this film has a limited release all across the United States, including one independent theatre here in Cleveland, the film’s hometown.
Quite obviously the film takes place in Cleveland, both because of the locale known to all of us Cleveland locals, but also because the characters remind us repeatedly during the first half hour of film. There is, apparently, some great love the writers have for Cleveland, choosing to craft a film so devoted to the “Roar on the Shore.”

The Premise: of this film is so mature in nature, I’m not quite sure what I can mention here without becoming obscene. The entire reason I ever saw this film was that it was shot in many locations both on my university campus and in neighborhoods in which my friends live. Sadly, the topics of dialogue during this film often times reach such levels of depravity that this marked the first time I actually considered walking out on a movie.

This was not what I was expecting to occur. I knew the plot’s mature themes, but I expected them to be handled a little bit more frivolously, turning the entire issue into something of a laughing stock. Instead, writer/director Billy Kent strives to create a psycho-comedic art film about the tragedy that effects “30 million” women all over America. Along the way enlisting the help of Liza Minelli, which very well may have been the funniest scene in the entire movie.

This movie was torn between several existences. One is a raunchy, frat-house comedy involving an endless parade of genital jokes, and the other, a poignant disaster film about a marriage flying apart at the seams. Characters are poorly developed, (if at all) and are thrown into one personal conflict after another, but rarely ever justifying or validating one conflict before beginning a new one. This leads to a surprising amount of unexplainable behavior by our starring characters, and after a while you simply must give up and try and make it through to the end, just to see where the chips are headed when the credits begin to roll. We barely make it there.

What starts off as being a smart and funny comedy quickly turns into a three-month crash-course timeline to the $5.50 bin at Wal-mart.
For me, the greatest tragedy of all is the complete non-use and misrepresentation of the city of Cleveland. Films like American Splendor and even Welcome to Collinwood used every ounce of eccentricity and eclectic energy that they could squeeze out of this patch-work city. To use Cleveland as a backdrop for a film means to have a certain understanding of its history, its architecture and its people. Oh misses all of this, choosing instead to create a fictional existence of homes, offices and water slides that ends up being terribly generic, non-specific and wholly incorrect. For better or worse, Cleveland has a very distinct identity about it, and treating it as a third-teir Chicago does nothing to promote a city that will only be shunned by the people who live there. Cleveland may not be the envy of the free world, but its people are proud, and fiercely protective of their home. So go away Hollywood, and don’t come back until you have someone who’s ready to show an accurate side of Cleveland.

The Grade: D