last updated: july 4, 2005

some of the more bizarre search terms of people who accessed this blog (part deux):

my christmas cactus got sunburnt

posted by fwc | 4/25/2005 8:23 AM

before sunset is a beautiful film. i feel that most of the time film pales when compared to theater in terms of really convincing character development, but this is one of the few films i've seen that had a real emotional depth to it. if this had been in new york, there's no doubt in my mind it would've been a strong contender for best new play. and just b/c it's expected and the norm, it is no less a travesty that julie delpy, who is breathtaking, wasn't nominated for a best actress oscar. (although apparently the boston society of film critics gave their "2nd best movie" award to before sunset and SF's critics, in a very independent move, gave delpy their best actress award.) i highly recommend you see before sunrise so you can see this movie.

a big part of the depth of this movie to me was the power of seeing two people after 9 years has passed in real time. this is a big part of the attraction to the "up" documentary series (7 up, 14 up, 21 up, etc.) which andy and i started recently, which follows 14 or so british children and takes a snapshot every 7 years of their lives. we watched the first two and were immediately captivated and wanted to see the rest (49 up was released a few years ago), although i kind of want to hold off b/c it's a bit painful actually to see the years fly by in such quick succession. it has a richness of real life that, although it may be imitated well in film and literature (and extremely well in before sunset) isn't so deeply true. i highly recommend that series as well. apparently also there's a US version started in 1991. (btw the actors of before sunset have said they thought at one point could continue every 9 years which would be very interesting.)

posted by fwc | 4/24/2005 6:44 PM
i'm not the biggest fan of harry potter, but this site has some amazing disney-like interpretations of the books. the sketches get progressively better, and some are quite wonderful.

posted by fwc | 4/15/2005 8:46 AM
recently consumed:

craig thompson's blankets: read it all in one go (staying up past my bedtime in the process). i seem to be on a catching-up-on-famous-indie-graphic-novels kick (next up is jimmy corrigan), esp. b/c the boston public library is well-stocked w/ them, and it's true it seems like a lot of them are about childhood and adolescence. in general it seems to me that way too much literature is devoted to what amounts to less than 1/4 of our lives, and since i've recently read two such books i was a bit distanced from the first part of the book; but i was soon won over. the artwork is well done and often blooms (esp. as the book progresses), and you'll find yourself falling in love w/ the main female protagonist as much as the main male protag does (who btw is a hottie). the book centers around a first, high school love (which i seem to have missed out on; not surprising since i grew up in hicksville). the denouement was a bit sudden, but the final chapter was just gorgeous. not an earth-shattering book, but very enjoyable and, like ghost world, a great intro to the graphic novel genre for people who think they wouldn't like them. and don't be surprised if you find yourself feeling particularly amorous to your sig other after reading it. here are the first few pages from amazon, the publisher's site, and a fairly ho-hum interview.

before sunrise: surprisingly moving. on the surface the plot sounds like a "romantic comedy", but as you may know it's a very, very talk-y linklater film (he did waking life, dazed and confused (which i hated), tape, and school of rock). one of the things that made me appreciate it, though, is that the two protagonists were (perhaps intentionally) not "my kind" of people; so even though i was distanced from them as people, not being in love w/ them made me feel even more moved by their situation b/c it constantly reminded me that they were just two people out of millions in similar situations (one of the big themes of the movie). i really hope this was intentionally done by linklater (and the other writer). i'm inclined to think it was b/c linklater seems like an intelligent guy, and also b/c i think in real life ethan hawke isn't quite so toothy. either way, julie delpy is totally gorgeous. why isn't she in more movies? cheesy to say, but her skin can only be described as "luminescent", a la (as ethan hawke's character notes) a botticelli painting. next up: before sunset (the sequel!). no idea how that's going to be, but i'm really looking forward to it.

posted by fwc | 4/9/2005 10:46 AM
came across this site called randomly that has proven to be a rather entertaining inside view of the straight man's psyche. in particular, their entries on female musicians are very amusing. apparently PJ harvey gets pretty decent marks, and they're not completely scared off by ani difranco. the categories are pretty hilarious ("personality & talent", "sexiness", "accomplishments & fame", "natural beauty", "personal style"), and the bios are actually pretty informative.
posted by fwc | 4/9/2005 10:38 AM
man, in my day 64 colors was extravagant. kids are way too spoiled these days.

this timeline is one of those specific areas of non-fiction that indirectly say so much about how american culture has changed in the past 100 years. very entertaining. i esp. love how the name for the "flesh" color was changed, and how "magic mint" got replaced by "jazzberry jam" (insert off-colour joke here) and "mango tango".
posted by fwc | 3/31/2005 2:38 PM
worth archiving i think:

winnie's guide on how to cook dumplings:

heat nonstick skillet on med-heat until drop of water sizzles
immediately on contact (about 2 min). drizzle 2 tbsp (about 1 glug) of
oil on pan and place layer of dumplings bottom-side down on pan so none
overlap. allow to brown (do not move around! do not fiddle with
dumplings!) for about 2-3 min. pour about 1/4 cup water so that there is
about 1/8" water covering bottom of pan. cover with tight-fitting lid
and allow dumplings to steam about 5 min. uncover and let water
evaporate and dumpling bottoms recrisp. eat with your favorite
combination of soy sauce, black vinegar, rice vinegar, hot sauce, etc etc.

posted by fwc | 3/31/2005 8:40 AM
andy and i got a harvard museum pass ($10 for one visit to each of the 6 museums), and we've been working our way through them. the fogg and busch-reisinger are in the same building, but when we went to the fogg we didn't have time to go to the B-R so we went this past weekend. the busch-reisinger is "the only museum in America devoted to promoting the informed enjoyment and critical understanding of the arts of Central and Northern Europe, with a special emphasis on the German-speaking countries." the museum is small, really only maybe six rooms, and for me of little attention span it was a nice size.

the current exhibit (through june) is pretty good, although i actually found it a bit lacking in background info (unless i just happened to miss it). the globe's review gives a good overview. i didn't know a whole lot about klimt or schiele, and the exhibit had several works by both. they had a reproduction of a now-destroyed klimt work "jurisprudence" that was quite fascinating, which has a scene of an old man being "embraced" by an octopus. i also quite enjoyed the works by koloman moser, which included some book illustrations (this cover is representative of the kind of work he did) and an entire wall of wallpaper samples. ever since the christopher dresser exhibit at the cooper-hewitt i've discovered that i get quite a rise out of wallpaper designs; maybe it's my queer eye tendencies. also really enjoyed schiele's "sleeping figure with blanket".

posted by fwc | 3/26/2005 6:04 PM
some more old posts:

this week andy and i saw donnie darko (director's cut). -so good-. def. one of the best movies i've seen in a while. for some unknown reason i had it in my head that this movie was made in the 80's, so the whole time i was watching it i was thinking it was really unusual and amazing especially b/c it was an 80's movie, although if i had stopped to think about it i would've realized that drew barrymore couldn't have been that old. duh. but anyway it's a beautifully atmospheric and haunting flick and very memorable, as well as a bit of a mind-bender. and jake is a hottie, in a kind of creepy, straight sort of way.

i did some mucking about, so after you see the movie you can check out some of this stuff. i worked my way through the 3 levels of the official website, which is good if you're looking to waste some time or to revisit the feel of the movie. it has some really nice uses of flash but doesn't really have any payoff when you get to the end. there's also quite a number of sites w/ theories about what the movie's "really about". this fansite has images from the official site from the book that's at the center of the movie, which clarifies a lot. for a more explicit explanation, i found that comments #25 and #40 on this site explains everything the most clearly, although of course you can be like andy and choose your own interpretation. update: foo pointed me to this salon article which is even more comprehensive.

two words: see it.

posted by fwc | 3/26/2005 10:24 AM

yes, it's another month and another mix from yours truly.

but first, take this FUN quiz!!!1!!

of the tracklist below, how many names do you recognize?

0-5: don't feel bad. that's the score this mix was designed to give to the average listener.
5-10: you are not a casual music listener, but an aficionado, and read and listen to music from many genres as voraciously as i do.
10-15: you probably know me fairly well or you are among my inner circle of "music friends" (you know who you are) and i've probably already alerted you to many of these.
15-21: you're lying. i can almost guarantee that there are at least 6 people on this mix that you've never heard of.

i've waxed poetic previously about the many joys of finding great obscure songs, discoveries that i then treasure and even hoard. most of my motive for digging up and celebrating the obscure and semi-obscure is simply the joy of the archeologist, the talent scout, and the collector: to acknowledge the worth of the perhaps previously overlooked, to be the harbinger of the next great thing, and to just find some great new (and sometimes unique) music.

i've always consciously tried to include some obscure but worthy musical acts on my mixes, but have long been wanting to do a mix focusing solely on them. i recognize that it's not really all that hard to make mixes w/ acts most people have never heard of since people's journeys through life throw random music their way by chance all the time. (carl, winnie, and andy, who have been my greatest fellow music scouts in recent years, do so all the time w/ more ease than i, especially since i get to be obsessive about listening to all of an artist's back catalog rather than finding new people.) but part of my effort was to have only a small percentage of the tracks below signed to any "recognizable" record label; some aren't signed at all. as an added restraint i focused on songs from the past 5 years or so.

there are a few tracks here that recall the message i posted about appreciating music that's not that unique per se but are quite satisfying. i'm sorry to say that some of the people on this mix are mostly one-offs, but i haven't completely given up on them. the really obscure ones are people i've stumbled across online. the paradox of the internet is that through it anyone can get heard, but the chance of finding someone is so minuscule, so this is a step in spreading the word.

some miscellanous comments:
- f*** the corporate radio monopoly! listen to music of your own choosing instead of what's force-fed to you! yeah!

- this mix started off being way too indie and as a result too dour. i was glad to see that i could find a wide range of non-indie but still relatively obscure music (and more than a couple of tracks that are actually quite funny).

- the vhs or beta track is thanks to carl. this band totally sounds like the cure to me, but they're still good. and they're from louisville! gotta support my peeps.

- i've been wanting to do a mix in alphabetical order for a while, but this is the first time it really worked.

- the track by me is the first track that i've felt is really worth me releasing, even though it's still more of a demo.

- of the ones w/ links listed, i strongly suggest you check out stateshirt, esp. if you like people like radiohead. this guy's stuff has i think really gotten stronger lately and there are some other good tracks on his site.

okay i'll shut up now.

all hail ye
celebrating the obscure and the semi-obscure

1 bitch and animal . eternally hard . sparkly queen areola
2 caravan ray (orig. marcus kellis) . moscow, idaho
3 cat power . you are free . he war
4 fred choi . dark all day
5 the dan emery mystery band . natural selection . the only one who loves you
6 fannypack . so stylistic . the theme from fannypack
7 kaki king . everybody loves you . carmine st.
8 lovedrug . pretend you're alive . blackout
9 matt pond PA . nature of maps . athabasca
10 des mckinney . . nights and songs
11 joanna newsom . milk-eyed mender . inflammatory writ
12 the oracle boy . . levitate
13 pinback . summer in abaddon . non photo blue
14 michael sanders . . teen girl squad
15 rego sen . songs from the institute vol. 1 . kelly
16 the so and so's . give me drama . please you
17 state shirt . . fell out of the sky
18 the twilight singers . blackberry belle . decatur st.
19 vhs or beta . night on fire . you got me
20 what's her face . strong bad sings and other type hits . i think i have a chance with this guy [edited]
21 the wonder stuff . camp (soundtrack) . the size of a cow

posted by fwc | 3/22/2005 8:45 PM
some old things i've been meaning to mirror post. here's one:

a couple of weeks ago andy and i watched rivers and tides a semi-documentary about andy goldsworthy, a scottish "environmental" artist currently in his late 40's. his art is fairly interesting and aesthetically satisfying, if not particularly novel. rather too much of the film is spent with goldsworthy spouting cliches about his art and his role as artist, etc., but the works are really what's worth seeing (despite some fairly trite, mostly pseudo-chinese music). one particularly memorable piece was a chain of leaves snaking their way down a river. another was a stone cairn on a beach and an elaborate reed sculpture hung from a tree. found a site with some nice pieces not included in the film (see above). seeing his work on film is i suppose the next best thing to seeing it live, so even though the film itself isn't "must see", it certainly fills a niche.

posted by fwc | 3/19/2005 11:10 AM
kind of funny story in that "not really funny at the time but kind of funny in retrospect" sort of a way.

so a couple of weekends ago andy and i dropped in on delux (chandler st., south end (near clarendon)). i'd been before but it had been a while, and it looked about how i remembered it. we sat down and ordered. maybe five minutes after we ordered the couple next to us ordered, and i happened to notice they ordered the exact same entrees. both of us get our appetizers within a decent amount of time. (which, btw, was soft tortilla "chips" with fruit salsa. someone please explain to me the logic behind soft tortilla chips w/ runny salsa?) anyway, now guess what happens? [pause inserted here.] if you guessed that the waitress comes up and gives our entrees to the couple sitting next to us, then ding ding ding you guessed correctly. now, i can kind of understand this. mistakes happen. but this is the funny-but-not-really-funny bit: the couple ordered maybe 5 minutes after us. did our food come out 5 minutes after theirs? no, of course not. in fact, after at least 25 minutes (inc. a minute of tracking down our waitress and being assured that our food was on our way and an offer of a free drink) we just threw some money on the table (unfortunately giving the girl a way bigger tip than she deserved) and got up and left. some points to keep in mind: 1) the waitress said that the delay was b/c there was only one person working in the kitchen. what are they thinking? it's a saturday night for cryin' out loud. 2) the waitress probably never even realized her mistake. 3) how long does it take to warm up some soup? 4) another big strike against the place is that when we came in we noticed that a couple had been allowed to comandeer two more tables and were holding fort. such a bad idea, b/c of course their friends didn't show up right away and so for the next twenty minutes we had to watch people being turned away from obviously empty seats. needless to say delux has vaulted to the head of my "never again" list.

on a more positive note, i was glad to see that audubon circle (838 beacon st, across the bridge from kenmore sq) is extremely laid-back on saturday nights. (prob. b/c all the BU kids are at drunken frat parties.) the food isn't my fav (miracle is much preferred), but i was reading a review from the phoenix about it. as far as i can tell the review was written in 1996 and as far as i can tell their menu is exactly the same almost 10 years later. how's that for steadiness?

posted by fwc | 3/2/2005 5:52 PM

you prob. don't really care, but for the sake of being a completist i'm posting about this old mix tape i made in 1998 that i just finished transferring to CD (with some large revisions). i have a bunch of old tapes like this lying around that i'm slowly working my way through. it's always interesting to me how my music tastes have evolved, and this actually ended up being a really short mix for me b/c i rejected so many songs that i can barely listen to now (like a stone temple pilots song and bitter sweet symphony and a sarah mclachlan track, all three of which at the time i included mostly for the sake of variety rather than any real love). it's short also b/c i took out the classical and musicals tracks b/c nowadays i'm a bit more concerned w/ mixes flowing and not being so much of a jumble.

looking at these songs now they seem to be generally simplistic (especially the ones that i didn't include), but maybe it's b/c now 7 years later (!) i'm so familiar with them. while putting this together i also thought about how music-wise college seems to be such a fertile period for so many people. there's something so unique about living w/ a bunch of strangers who become friends and borrowing CDs (one of my great hobbies). even though i still share CDs w/ people occasionally, that and recommending mp3s just isn't the same. i feel like i have better and stronger memories about where and from who each of these songs came from than the songs on most of the mixes i make these days. is it b/c i find a lot of music on my own these days (due possibly to the pervasiveness of the internet where i can get recommendations from strangers more readily than from close friends)? or b/c that first year of college is such a unique experience it's more memorable than my current years of monotonous drudgery (well, relatively speaking), a.k.a. full-time employment? i think it's more the former.

two last comments: it was fun to rediscover tammy wynette. have a CD of hers i've been meaning to listen to for a while now. the mikado track is a really fantastic song (w/ superlative lyrics. btw, the movie -topsy turvy- was pretty tedious, but the staged song excerpts were worthy, if not completely redeeming, highlights). for those of you who know us, did you know anand and i were in the mikado at MIT in the fall of 1998? feels like centuries ago. i think i even have some ridiculously incriminating pictures somewhere of us from back then.

making lists in my sleep: 1998 mix revisited
1 ani difranco . not a pretty girl . cradle and all
2 david bowie . best of bowie . golden years
3 pizzicato five . big hits and jet lags 1994-1997 (import) . happy sad (japanese version)
4 bjork . homogenic . jóga
5 smashing pumpkins . mellon collie and the infinite sadness . stumbleine
6 jonathan larson . rent (OBC) . take me or leave me
7 tammy wynette . best of tammy wynette . your good girl's gonna go bad
8 the smiths . the queen is dead . there is a light that never goes out
9 tori amos . miami, FL (10/23/1996) . girl [edited]
10 aphex twin . richard d. james album . milkman
11 gilbert and sullivan, shilling/rawlins, rochester PO/elder . the mikado . beauty in the bellow
12 ani difranco . imperfectly . imperfectly
13 erasure . crackers international (EP) . stop!
14 ben folds five . whatever & ever amen . battle of who could care less
15 tracy chapman . self-titled . fast car
16 the dan emery mystery band . love and advertising . space renegade
17 tori amos . caught a lite sneeze (EP, US) . toodles mr. jim

close but no cigar:
sarah mclachlan . surfacing . do what you have to do

posted by fwc | 2/26/2005 12:34 PM
i never got these messages in college. maybe i just wasn't popular enough. haha. i hope this blog isn't going to get overrun by the really inane iterations of these (like "what color is your toothbrush?"), but it was actually kind of interesting to think about some of these.

what is the total amount of music files on your computer?
my current harddrive is pitifully small, and w/ all the memory that porn takes up (haha) i periodically burn mp3s to CD. so even though the actual space is prob. less than a couple of GB on my computer, in actuality i have much, much more. i'm more of a CD person in general, though. i love scrutinizing liner notes and the feel of a CD. (and i still love cassettes!) re: liner notes, i'm prob. one of the few people who pay attention to crap like who was playing the melodica on track 11 and the violin on track 3 and who the 100th shout-out was to. i'm weird, i know. (side note: my harddrive isn't 15 GB of porn! actually a lot of it is audio files of songs i'm currently working on. what w/ multitracking and diff. takes and all, one song could take up a whole gig.)

what is the last cd you bought?
i just won cat power's you are free off of ebay actually. funny coincidence.

what was the last song you listened to before reading this message?
right before i bought the cat power CD i got this CD of this random one-man-band i found online called state shirt. you should totally check out the tracks on his website. i've had "fell out of the sky" on repeat for the past two weeks, and the only reason i haven't told anyone about it yet is b/c i'm jealously hoarding it as one of my great finds for use on a soon-to-come mix. when i first read w's post that's what i was listening to, although right now i'm listening to kylie. haha.

five songs you often listen to, or that mean a lot to you:
this turned out to be an interesting question for me. i had trouble thinking of things off the top of my head as songs that i adore unconditionally, which was surprising. but in the end i settled on these:

bjork: hyperballad -- has everything. perfect lyrics, a gorgeous texture, and it gives me chills. and it's bjork!

the sugarcubes: birthday -- for me one of the most perfectly pitched, always feel-good tracks.

tori: cooling -- a b-side, but one of my absolute favorite tori songs. sort of a "pretty" ballad, but it has a lot of emotions in it, for me anyway.

bach's cello suite #2 -- cheating, i know. the cello suites is one of the few pieces of classical music that i can consistently come back to again and again and feel like i'm "understanding" it more and more, and this is one of my favs.

barber's knoxville summer of 1915 (recording w/ dawn upshaw) -- i was surprised that i picked two classical pieces, but this piece is so evocative. it has the best of what i love in classical vocal music: gorgeous, memorable tunes and a really palpable, lovely mood.

who are you going to pass this stick to (three persons) and why?
umm i don't really know that many people who have blogs, and if i had to think about it i would've picked the same 3 people that winnie did. so i'm going to have to skip this one. heh.

posted by fwc | 2/18/2005 6:02 PM

rented the work of director michel gondry, vol. 3 of the "director's series". i'd seen the chris cunningham DVD (best known for his vid of bjork's "all is full of love" and aphex twin's "come to daddy" and "windowlicker") and had been disappointed by the paucity of content and lack of range. not so w/ the gondry DVD. gondry is prob. best known for his bjork vids (such as "human behavior") and his lego vid for the white stripes, and more recently from his direction of eternal sunshine (which i haven't seen yet, but am jumping to do so after seeing this).

this collection is extremely generous and has two sides filled w/ some 20+ music vids, a few commercials, some 10+ short videos, some interviews w/ artists (inc. segments w/ the seemingly verbally and personality-challenged lead singer of the foo fighters), and a mostly perfunctory autobiographical documentary in two parts. there are recurring techniques and ideas, but also a very satisfying amount of variety, much of it in that sort of charmingly eccentric french way. something that makes gondry unique is his ability to create videos that you want to watch several times in a row. in a short clip w/ spike jonze, jonze says (loosely paraphrased) that gondry taught him that making a music vid is like being a magician: you keep the audience's attention fixated on one hand; meanwhile you're assembling tricks right under their noses with the other.

luckily for me his 7 bjork vids turned out to actually be his least interesting. highlights for me included: videos for cibo matto, daft punk, and the chemical brothers. i was also psyched to have my first exposure to oui oui, an endorphin-inducing french band he started in as drummer and whose videos were gondry's earliest successes in the genre. (unfortunately the band seems to be pretty obscure; haven't been able to find anything of theirs on

my absolute fav, though, was his vid for kylie minogue. i didn't really know a whole lot about her other than she's sort of the australian/UK madonna (although i vaguely knew that her only US hit really thus far was that familiar club staple "can't get you out of my head"), but the video is utterly addictive and, perhaps as a sign of how successful the video is, i've really gotten into the song as well. i don't want to tell you anything about the video b/c the surprises are a big part of it, but i can tell you that i've watched it at least 15 times and each time i still notice something interesting in it. a very, very, very cool mini-masterpiece.

so i guess now i can declare myself to be a fan of gondry. i'm currently exploring the kylie territory. borrowed a CD from andy and like it. it's the type of pop that i think most americans would find too saccharine, but being a long-time fan of erasure it doesn't bother me too much. will be digging up another album of hers sooner than later probably.

posted by fwc | 2/16/2005 11:25 PM
i was really upset when i found out elvis mitchell was leaving his post at the new york times; he was definitely one of my favorite reviewers there. his, more or less, "replacement", manohla dargis, has been irritating me ever since. in a "conversation" w/ newly appointed head writer (and apparently old friend) a. o. scott in the nytimes soon after the replacement, dargis mentioned that having more women critics in the world is desirable for the simple fact that it immediately provides a different viewpoint from the majority of other reviews. i would agree in general. however, since then dargis has proven that although this may be true in general, it's only true if said reviewer offers up her/his "different viewpoint" objectively and w/out ever resorting to soapbox pontificating.

there are so many examples of reviews that have irritated me. one of the first was her review of the sequel to bridget jones. first, she does the tired gimmick of writing her review in the style of the movie. second, in it she barely bothers to talk about the movie at all; instead she rambles on and on about zellweger as celebrity, not as actress. which might be interesting to some people in an essay, but which is incredibly out of place in a movie review.

i disliked her review of elektra for similar reasons. the review is dismissive w/out any real analysis, other than a general dismissal of female superheroes. she obviously hasn't done her research, as she blatantly and incorrectly denies the long history of well-developed female superheroes in comics (who regularly outsell their male counterparts, not b/c they're female and their audience is male, but simply b/c they're more interesting characters) as well as neglects mentioning any female superheroes in recent movies (catwoman, the x-men movies, or what about even kill bill?). again, it seemed like dargis has her own female-centric agenda which has little to do w/ writing a fair review.

her review today of bride and prejudice is similarly unenlightening. the fact it's a romantic comedy must have damned it from the start, b/c her review is so vague that it could easily have been written w/out actually seeing it. i get immediately suspicious of reviews that are so concerned w/ being hypercritical that they don't even deign to answer the basic question: "yes, it's fluff, but is it fun? is it -entertaining-?"

the last straw for me was an article she wrote for the sunday edition a few weeks ago which basically could be summed up with the phrase: "plastic surgery is fake." why do we need to be told this? since dargis resides in LA, this strongly sounded like a personal issue she wanted to spout off about rather than b/c it was anything relevant or new.

to be fair, dargis, when not haranguing about her view of females in cinema ad nauseum, writes decent, if not fascinating, reviews (such as of the lemony snicket flick, and hide and seek). if she could just be a reviewer first and get over the fact that she's female then maybe she won't give the rest of us so many reasons to roll our eyes and throw down the arts section in disgust.

elvis mitchell: we miss you! xx

posted by fwc | 2/11/2005 2:20 PM
finally. this is easily the best map software out there, neatly blowing mapquest et al out of the water. i'm just wondering what took so long.
posted by fwc | 2/10/2005 2:15 PM
i know nobody really cares, but i was pretty psyched to find some new frames that i actually like. let me know what you think (or if you're like winnie and you didn't notice the difference at all). is it just me, or do i look like my brother in the first pic? and the second pic looks like an author's bio pic for a book jacket, no? well i think my new frames look rad.

posted by fwc | 2/5/2005 3:45 PM

just what the world needs, another 80's mix, but here it is. i've realized in the past three years or so that the vast majority of the music i listen to is from the 90's or later. i suppose this isn't too unusual; or maybe it is? in any case originally i'd intended to make a "pre-90's" mix to collect all the pre-90's songs that i do love, but as i got into it i was using more and more 80's songs until eventually i decided to focus on that. (i'm going to have to start doing research on the 60's and 70's.)

i think in a lot of people's minds the 80's is very campy and cliche, but as i worked on the mix i realized there was a lot to enjoy and a lot that's very worthwhile even today. (for no particular reason, "human" is a track that hits me right in the gut, much like "what becomes of the broken-hearted". i find the synths (and vocals) on that track to be really warm despite the surface cheesiness. i know i'm a sap.) my first self-imposed limitation was to focus on the 80's synth/drum pads sound, thus ruling out some of my favorite people who were active in the 80's like the cure and the smiths. but w/in that limitation i found there were still many, many diff types of 80's music.

there were a lot of tracks that were complete one-hit wonders. those inevitably get the emphasis on many an 80's compilation, so i decided to restrain myself and only include a few. i found songs that i'd completely forgotten about, but i tried to focus on ones that i enjoy outside of that incredibly powerful nostalgia factor.

then there were people who worked in the 80's idiom but had been doing and later did a lot of other things as well. for ex, the kate bush track sounds very 80's but on that same album are many tracks that aren't at all. and of course joni has worked in many, many idioms. also, the track from the musical chess totally sounds like an ABBA track to me, and they were around long before the 80's. "wake me up before you go-go" would've been another good choice b/c it totally sounds like a motown track (even has similar chords to "heatwave"), but i decided not to include it.

i guess the rest of the tracks are single tracks that i've come across (usu. courtesy of andy haha) or random bands that i've gotten to know through chance. for the latter i mostly tried to pick slightly more obscure tracks (e.g. the devo and talking heads tracks, the latter of which is one of my fav talking heads tracks ever). one thing that really amazes me is when you hear a song that "everyone" knows, and you sit down and listen to it carefully and realize what an incredible piece of work it is. in particular i'm thinking of "like a prayer". it's so cliche, but the arrangement is simply amazing. one of the few uses of a gospel choir in pop music that actually -works-. and madonna has almost never sounded better as on that track.

okay that was prob. too much info. a few more comments: i included the track by carl's bro, daniel, to show that the 80's sound is still much alive today (erasure just put out an album this week). plus it's a great track that i've been trying to put on a mix for a while. also, i have to say that tori's failed 80's album is one of my favorite albums of hers (and much better than her newest imo), although i suppose many would disagree. lastly, while i was thinking about one of my fav 80's tracks, a-ha's take on me, i watched the video for the first time. it's really great (and the guy's kind of cute); def. worth looking up.

now i'm dancing: 80's mix

1 devo . freedom of choice (1980) . cold war
2 michael jackson . thriller (1982) . billie jean
3 kate bush . the dreaming (1982) . sat in your lap
4 prince . 1999 (1982) . lady cab driver [edited]
5 talking heads . speaking in tongues (1983) . this must be the place (naive melody)
6 shannon . party monster (soundtrack) (1984) . give me tonight
7 deniece williams . footloose (soundtrack) (1984) . let's hear it for the boy
8 arthur russell . calling out of context (c. 1985?) . make 1, 2
9 scritti politti . cupid & psyche 85 (1985) . perfect way
10 joni mitchell . dog eat dog (1985) . lucky girl
11 erasure . wonderland (1986) . heavenly action
12 elaine paige, ulvaeus and andersson/rice . chess (1986 london concept cast) .
the american and florence (nobody's side) [edited]
13 human league . crash (1986) . human
14 y kant tori read . self-titled (1988) . on the boundary
15 billy ocean . tear down these walls (1988) . get outta my dreams, get into my car
16 carly simon . working girl (soundtrack) (1989) . let the river run
17 big audio dynamite . megatop phoenix (1989) . 80 ways around the girl
18 madonna . like a prayer (1989) . like a prayer
19 daniel tashian . young love (c. 2003) . lifestyle

close but rejected:
wham! . make it big (1984) . wake me up before you go-go
rick astley . whenever you need somebody (1987) . together forever
new order . technique (1989) . fine time
dirty dancing (soundtrack) . i've had the time of my life

posted by fwc | 1/29/2005 5:39 PM
andy and i went to croma a couple of days ago; i think it's relatively new. all in all it was about what i expected: average but inoffensive. andy started w/ the tomato/mozzarella and i had the baked mushrooms with garlic butter, arugula, and parmesan. like the spinach pizza we had for an entree, everything was quite bland. is this a new thing? we went to sonsie a couple of months ago (in a temporary fit of insanity otherwise known as it was cold and we didn't want to go far for non-ethnic food in the back bay) and both the pasta dishes we got from there were also extremely bland. or maybe our taste buds are just going in our old age. in any case, the english toffee pudding (a la mode) was better, although again not incredible. the ambience was okay: brick, white tiles, overall not particularly inviting. our waitress wasn't bad, though. for this type of place i'd have to go w/ cambridge, 1 in harvard sq, even though it doesn't bowl me over either. still, all in all i guess a half-decent, mid-range restaurant in the back bay is better than nothing. side note: the reviews on croma's website strongly reinforce my already firm distrust of every boston publications' food reviews.

i never did get around to posting on winnie and my blog about lala rokh. i'm going to have to agree w/ winnie on this: what is the hype about? overpriced and two-dimensional. i know i say that about a lot of places, but it's true. i'm of the opinion that ethnic places particularly have to justify inflated prices more so than french or italian-based restaurants. i mean, for c. $15 for a spinach and kidney beans stew it had better be more interesting than just spinach and kidney beans thrown into a pot of water w/ some salt. and it wasn't. while i'm on the topic, the helmand (near the cambridgeside gallery) was also overhyped for me. it was okay, but not much more interesting than your average decent indian restaurant.

posted by fwc | 1/26/2005 2:31 PM

i love it when you find an album that makes you perk your ears up from the other side of the room. my fanhood of joni mitchell has been growing steadily for the past 6 years or so (blue is in my top 20 all-time fav albums), but i've gotten to the point where i'm starting to have to reach for the more obscure stuff. dog eat dog is one of the albums she did in the 80's, and it's been unjustly panned b/c joni unabashedly turned her back on acoustic guitars and used all the slick, totally 80's sounds. i can imagine a lot of 80's music can sound coldly synthetic, but this album, despite the occasional stentorian soapbox ranting and a few mumbled lyrics, is quite moving and sounds lovingly crafted. one of my fav tracks is "lucky girl", that's simply lovely, 80's and jazzy (!). i love this lyric:

Wise guys
Shy guys
And sly lover boys
With big bad bedroom eyes ...
I never loved a man I trusted
As far as I could pitch my shoe
'Til I loved you

joni's def. one of those songwriters who shine no matter what medium they're writing in. i have to say i like this album better than some of the more famous ones, like court and spark (zz).

posted by fwc | 1/17/2005 3:07 AM
three of the best music videos i've seen recently:

bjork: who is it (real video) from medulla

junior senior: move your feet (real video/windows media player)
from d-d-don't don't stop the beat | quicktime

cat power: he war (real video) from you are free

posted by fwc | 1/8/2005 6:02 PM
my first mix of the new year (whoo!). this mix of classical vocal music is actually the 2nd i've made of the kind. i made the first one in high school and it had a similar mix of art songs, arias, scenes, and miscellany (and even a bit of recitative). i've been wanting to make a 2nd ever since. for this mix i again consciously included a mix of solo male and female tracks, and a duet, a couple of trios, a quartet, and a few choral tracks, as well as a more or less even mix of the principle languages (english, italian, french, and german) and representation of the giants (verdi, rossini, mozart, puccini, and britten). after i picked the tracks i wanted for this one i realized that the selection this time ended up being in general more downbeat than my first mix (comes from my older, more cynical point of view i suppose). there's a serene, somewhat pastoral feel to the stravinsky, mozart, and britten tracks; a melancholy in the schwantner, adams, first barber, seiber, and auber tracks; and some angst in some of the others, like the brahms, wagner, and puccini. i suppose the donizetti and rossini tracks don't quite fit the mood, but i guess you can think of them as relief from the gloom. the mix ended up being a bit hard to put into an order, but i think it works. for volume 3 i plan on making more of an effort to include even earlier works (e.g. renaissance) and more contemporary" tracks (i totally forgot about this john cage track i wanted to include until after it was done). but all in all i think it turned out pretty well. well, at least i'm rockin' out to it.

how fearful your beauty

1 stravinsky, garrard/manning/et al . the rake's progress . the woods are green ...
2 adams, james maddalena . the death of klinghoffer . it was just after one fifteen
3 brahms, leontyne price . zigeunerlieder . i. he, zigeuner, greife
4 mozart, harper/blegen . le nozze di figaro . sull'aria
5 donizetti, joan sutherland . linda di chamounix . ah! tardai troppo ... o luce di quest anima
6 barber/neruda . the lovers . iii. in the hot depth of this summer
7 seiber, peter pears . four french folk songs . réveillez-vous
8 wagner, james king . die walküre . ein schwert verhieß mir der vater
9 vores/atwood, lynn torgove . atwood songs . vi. tricks with mirrors
10 puccini, luba orgonasova . turandot . tu che di gel cinta
11 barber, thomas hampson . melodies passageres . le clocher chante
12 britten, ward/wilson/pears . albert herring . meet me at quarter past eight
13 rossini, juan diego florez . semiramide . ah dov'e, dov'e el cimento
14 auber, sumi jo . le domino noir . mes cheres soeurs
15 schubert, hermann prey . der hidalgo
16 verdi, johnson/quivar/et al . requiem . hostias
17 schwantner, dawn upshaw . black anemones

posted by fwc | 1/3/2005 8:35 AM

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