in a surprise turn of events, i actually did something artsy while i was home for the holidays, thanks to my friend charlie. he wanted to see louisville's spankin' new muhammad ali center, and in louisville's culturally-deficient landscape it's a fairly worthwhile tourist trap, i mean, "destination". the not-quite-completed museum glosses over some of the details about his personal life and misses opportunities to delve more deeply or leave a more lasting impression, but it does a pretty good job of contextualizing his life, in particular the civil rights movement and the vietnam war (which ali opposed and refused to serve in, and as a result was forced to give up boxing for some five years). and although it gets touchy-feely near the end with exhibits for kids about "believing in yourself" and "setting goals", it does give some insight into ali's humanitarian work, inc. his work w/ the U.N. the exhibits have a splashy look to them that will prob. feel extremely anachronistic twenty years from now, and are rather heavy on video clips. among those a highlight is a video explaining some basics of boxing by ali's daughter who is also a boxer. all in all the part i found most worthwhile and which was spotlighted the least were two galleries of ali-related works by leroy neiman. perhaps still in development, these neglected to provide any information about this american artist, but his style is immediately recognizable and worth seeing.

posted by fwc | 12/29/2005 2:02 PM
now that i'm back in the land of the living, i have time to find out what's been going on in the world. in today's news it looks like we come out with a score of one to one: posted by fwc | 12/21/2005 9:38 AM

been really pressed for time, so i kind of had to throw this collection of "A"'s together. i'm def. gearing myself up for a more thematic mix, but in the meantime there's this hodge-podge of mostly peripheral likes. prob. one of my shortest mixes ever. some middle-aged housewife music that i picked up randomly, some somewhat generic indie, and some electronic-ish stuff. worth noting is the "it" band, architecture in helsinki, a track i got from winnie and which is excellent (although i haven't liked the other tracks i've heard of them), and the absentee track which i got from the BBC collective site (hence the mediocre quality), which is so low-key folky that you may start worrying that they're cadavers. prob. not a keeper mix, but i've been meaning to do a mix like this for a while. and i think the sequel (the "B" team, i suppose) will be much easier.

when the evenings fall mix
collective mix #2: the "A" team

1 architecture in helsinki . one heavy february
2 rick astley . never gonna give you up
3 arcade fire . neighborhood #2 (laika)
4 aphex twin . mookid
5 american analog set . come home baby julie, come home
6 jeff arundel . hey ann
7 ambrosia . a reminiscent drive
8 apollo sunshine . katonah
9 archers of loaf . harnessed in slums
10 geoff abraham . i'll come around
11 tori amos, bt . talula (the tornado mix)
12 a-ha . dark is the night for all
13 arab strap . glue
14 the album leaf . wander
15 absentee . there is a body in a car somewhere (live)

posted by fwc | 12/13/2005 9:56 PM

welcome to episode #2 of fred's adventures in 8-bit gaming.

gradius is a classic. it's a side-scroller, and you're a ship that as you go along gets more and more decked out with extra speed, shields, missiles, and lasers. you have to shoot various mechanical-looking enemies and dodge their variously-shaped projectiles to, i suppose, save the world. the game gets pretty tough, but one of the best features is an upgrade, similar to in galaga, where you get an enhancement that acts like an additional ship and doubles your firepower. in gradius you can get up to two of these at one time which is totally the high point of the game, although apparently in the arcade version you can get even more. yet another NES game that's gotten me completely hooked and has me looking forward to the sequels.
posted by fwc | 11/20/2005 5:26 PM

i've recently started a monthly mixtape/CD group modelled after the international mixtape project at this BBC subsite i've been into lately (interested, winnie?). for my first mix i wanted to take advantage of the slightly longer time on a cassette (and also to use up at least one of the many cassettes i still have lying around), and so i threw together an ABC mix. this is another one of those mostly hodge-podgy mixes of one-off tracks that i like reasonably well but haven't yet used, and i generally leant towards being semi-indie and generally upbeat. i tried not to worry too much about trying to fix the tracks that stick out too much (e.g. the jimmy eat world), and since 26 tracks didn't fit, rather than beat myself up trying to find shorter tracks i just deleted my least favorite. if you were wondering, they were:

bis . sci-fi superstar
ladybug transistor . wooden bars
neutral milk hotel . holland, 1945.

not much more to say, other than to give a quick mention to gifrants, a haitian busker (solo acoustic guitar and voice) in boston who i liked enough to buy his CD. i'm saving my favorite track of his for another mix, but this track's pretty good too.

we do the dance up on the plains
collective mix #1: abc mix

side a
1 animal collective . feels . grass
2 cibo matto . viva! la woman . know your chicken
3 death cab for cutie . plans . marching bands of manhattan
4 brian eno . another day on earth . this
5 flake music . when you land here, it's time to return . the shins
6 gifrants . vwa e gita volim i . zanmourèt
7 the hang ups . second story . the queen
8 insides . sweet tip . all life long
9 jimmy eat world . self-titled . bleed american
10 stephen kellogg . lucky eleven . as good as it's been
11 modest mouse . the moon & antarctica . 3rd planet
12 of montreal . the sunlandic twins . so begins our alabee

side b
13 the polyphonic spree . together we're heavy . section 12 (hold me now)
14 q-burns abstract message . invisible airline . this time
15 josh rouse . nashville . winter in the hamptons
16 764-hero . weekends of sound . terrified of flight
17 tahiti 80 . wallpaper for the soul . get yourself together
18 underworld . a hundred days off . twist
19 versus . two cents plus tax . underground
20 ween . chocolate & cheese . voodoo lady
21 xiu xiu . fabulous muscles . i love the valley OH!
22 young people . . el paso
23 thalia zedek . matador at fifteen (comp) . 1926

posted by fwc | 11/6/2005 9:30 PM

welcome to the first installment of fred's adventures in 8-bit gaming. i've been discovering (and in some cases re-discovering) some really fantastic NES games (and emulators greatly aid in my obsessiveness by letting me come back to the middle of a game that otherwise wouldn't have any save state). 8-bit games are so classic b/c w/ the limited platform video game creators were forced to rely on their creativity to keep the game interesting. the result? games that on the surface are simplistic in terms of graphics and options but are incredibly addictive and oftentimes incredibly hard.

adventures of lolo is a puzzle game that in many ways reminds me of MIT's teaching philosophy. in each room there are only a very tiny number of options: blocks can be pushed but not pulled, and some enemies can be stunned and then pushed and used as rafts or to block other enemies. however, the game stays entertaining throughout its many levels b/c each puzzle requires you to move just beyond your knowledge of what you've seen and done before, and to re-evaluate your assumptions to think a bit outside of your comfort zone and figure out how to accomplish the new goal. highly recommended. it'll be interesting to see how the sequels are.

posted by fwc | 11/5/2005 11:04 PM
fred's adventures in trashy movies continue ...

bedknobs and broomsticks: watched in honor of angela lansbury's recent 80th birthday. angela's quite lovable here, and overall the movie is enjoyable, although not particularly memorable.

the castle of cagliostro (rupan sansei: kariosutoro no shiro): great james bond-type adventure movie, w/ a distinctly miyazaki feel. very enjoyable.

evita: i enjoyed re-watching this. i think this musical is one of ALW's best, and the production values are high. good adaptation, cinematography, and direction, and solid acting from madonna and banderas. much better than the average movie musical.

the phantom of the opera: echhh. this movie makes me strongly forget i ever liked any part of this show. terrible acting and adaptation and mediocre singing.

primary colors: rented mostly to see emma thompson, who was uninteresting here. travolta's pretty good, as is "newcomer" adriane lester, but the story was fairly boring and way too long.

psycho: good (esp. the first half) and a classic w/ good acting, but def. not worth the #25 best movie of all time slot on imdb.

spider-man: the new animated series: i remember hearing about this when it came out, but i've just now gotten around to watching disk 1. mtv put out this series (which only lasted 1 season) to sort of follow spidey in the time between the first and 2nd movies. as a result pretty much all of the episodes are standalone adventures against a new baddie. they were gearing it more towards teens than kids and recruited some interesting voices: neil patrick harris as spidey (who is distractingly recognizable), lisa loeb as mary jane (she actually does really well -- when's the last time she put out an album?), and ian ziering who i vaguely remember as being a bad guy on 90210. they also got rob zombie, eve, and virginia madsen in on it. the animation was the big point of contention for a lot of people, as it's prob. one of the first series to almost completely rely on CGI. as you'd expect, generally the people movement looks stiff and video game-y, but you get used to it, and the fight scenes and web-slinging action are pretty good. all in all not a bad way to spend an evening or two if you really liked the movies.

ukigusa (floating weeds): not my favorite ozu movie so far, but good acting and his usual great cinematography and atmosphere.

wallace & gromit in the curse of the were-rabbit: hurrah! W&G's movie debut is a great success. nick park's humour and inventiveness are still going strong. just points up how unintelligent other animated films are.

posted by fwc | 10/23/2005 2:55 PM
F*CK. i just deleted this wicked long post about prune and compass. i'm too annoyed to write the whole thing again. the short version is: prune for brunch was very good. compass was great. that's all you need to know.

okay, i'll add a bit more: apparently compass (UWS, 208 w 70th st) has had a pretty tempestuous history since it opened in 2002. less than a year and a half ago the new york times wrote a scathing review of the restaurant, then under the reign of katy sparks. but in august, under john fraser, the times gave them a very positive review, with particularly enthusiastic raves for the avocado parfait. i agree that the parfait was the part of the meal that made you want to stand up and applaud (the tiny strawberries did indeed have a faint-inducing delectability, although i disagree w/ the reviewer's assement of the peanut butter crust: we found it to be almost brutally abrasive and domineering next to the beautiful scandinavian-esque smoothness of the parfait). the service was quite excellent, the ingredients were fantastic (wonderfully earthy beets, baby romaine that had real substance), and in everything the food was nicely executed and memorable. definitely one of the best meals i've had in a while.

posted by fwc | 10/13/2005 11:34 PM
some restaurant comments:

to start from the bottom, clio (back bay, corner of mass ave and comm ave), was, in a word, disappointing. overall andy and i agreed that it felt like it thought it was better than it really was. maybe it's changed a lot in the four years or so since winnie's been there, but it seemed they were more concerned w/ the visual appeal of their plating than the quality of the actual food, which surprisingly seemed to lean towards asian influences and fruit accents (the latter of which i'm rarely fond of). in particular, although andy enjoyed his mesclun salad (with a dressing that noticeably included soy sauce and perhaps sesame oil), my "beet salad" was rather play-foody. it consisted of a shallow bowlful of beets, somewhere between thickly pureed and finely chopped, with "aromatic accents" which were about seven spoonful-sized islands of garnishes, which included (as separate islands) avocado, capers, fennel, fresh wasabi, and others. attractively presented no doubt, but not much interesting otherwise. andy's "crispy" halibut was likewise disappointing, with a sweetness that quickly outstayed its welcome (as i'd expect sweetness in any entree to do). i skipped over the feta and olive ravioli (zzzzz zzzzz zzzzz) and instead tried the corn soup (with mushrooms but sans maine crab), which was nicely savory. outside of the plating, the sweet and sour green onion chutney was fairly forgettable as well; "jam" would've been a more accurate term, and if there was any "sour" flavor, it was undectectable. it came w/ roasted pumpkin that was rather too "al dente" for my taste, and what i assume was a yogurt-based sauce. the chestnuts were a nice autumnal, albeit non-integrated, distraction (although the spiny chestnut covering and equally inedible pumpkin stem were pointless garnishes), but the general feel of this dish was clunky and thrown together. andy's creme caramel likewise lacked depth. andy and i also agreed that the menu just seemed to include too many ingredients in each dish. maybe it's just our preference, but it seems more productive to concentrate on combining strong and subtle flavors rather than resorting to non-sequitur juxtapositions that aren't integrated. service was okay, although a bit prissy.

phew. this is getting long. i'll post the rest later.

posted by fwc | 10/13/2005 2:08 PM
this list of indian restaurants in the US provides a handy "to do" list and some entertaining statistics. according to this list, the top 5 states w/ indian restaurants are: 1) CA 2) MA 3) NY 4) NJ 5) FL. somewhat surprising, no?
posted by fwc | 10/10/2005 7:46 PM

andy and i finally got around to going to new york this past weekend. we were in and out pretty quickly, but managed to cram in some good stuff. here's the rundown:

Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult
this exhibit (through dec 31) is a catalogue of photographs (most from 1860 to 1950), of attempts to capture supernatural occurrences, inc. spirits, levitation, and auras. highly entertaining examples of photography by the commercially enterprising for less-than-innocent means, these early examples of photoshop-esque manipulation form a nice visit to a not-so-distant time.

Cooper-Hewitt: Extreme Textiles: Designing for High Performance (through oct. 30)
i agree w/ jeff on this one: much duller than i thought it could be. the information is definitely fascinating, and some of the accompanying film footage is just mind-boggling (inc. one that shows a guy soaring through open air w/ nothing but a flying suit w/ wings, and another w/ a man running w/ a prosthetic foot modelled after a cheetah's), but the exhibit was sorely lacking in terms of visual interest. in most cases the design was entirely based on practical w/ absolutely no aesthetic considerations, which seemed out of place in a design museum. in both the met exhibit and this case, the material seemed only obliquely relevant as art, and in the former much more appropriate for a children's or general history museum, and the latter for a science museum. is this a new trend to attract a wider, perhaps more "family", museum-going audience? i hope not ...

openhousenewyork: grace church
knew about the openhousenewyork events, but wasn't planning on seeing anything in particular. openhousenewyork "celebrates New York City's architecture and inspires civic pride through an annual program of public access to significant buildings and sites in all five boroughs." happened to come across grace church in greenwich village, "one of the first Gothic Revival structures in the city", and stayed for part of a nice tour. a nice series for the city.

light in the piazza (at lincoln center's vivian beaumont theater).
everyone seems overly eager to proclaim guettel's merit (grandson of richard rodgers), but the material isn't nearly as ambitious as people want to suggest it is, and the production and performances do nothing to help gloss over the flaws. still, as one of the few "serious" musicals in recent years, people looking for something more sophisticated than -wicked- will just have to take what we can get as we continue to wait for a real success.

posted by fwc | 10/9/2005 8:50 PM

the starting point for this mix was my discovery of joanna newsom last year, whose music i really love. not only is her music great, but her voice is definitely one of a kind, and is most often compared to bjork in its distinctiveness. recently i've also been getting more into kate bush, who also has a love-it-or-hate-it, acquired-taste voice. i used those three as the "anchors" to the mix, and as i dug around for other people who would fit, i found a lot of great people from classic musical theater (far fewer today, however, as broadway has become increasingly bland and homogenized), but very few solo artists from pop/rock music and even fewer from bands. i tried to steer away from people w/ less distinctive, but more idiosyncratic vocal styles (like, say, thom yorke, although i'm sure people will argue w/ me that people like stephin merritt fall more into the latter category) and i also favored stranger voices rather than just distinctive ones (e.g. i passed over barry white and celine dion). lastly, in order to make the mix a bit more cohesive and less grating i often chose songs that -didn't- accentuate the uniqueness of the voice so much but worked w/in the mix, b/c i figured in most cases the voice is unique no matter what the song (and plus i'm trying to be more spontaneous about song selection and ordering).

i'll drink to them (voices mix)

1 kate bush . the kick inside . wuthering heights
2 stephen sondheim, angela lansbury . sweeney todd (OBC) . the worst pies in london
3 the magnetic fields . i . i don't really love you anymore
4 joni mitchell . dog eat dog . fiction
5 sondheim, elaine stritch . company (OBC) . the ladies who lunch
6 dickie lashbrook . songs of seduction . blackbirds and thrushes
7 bob dylan . the freewheelin' bob dylan . honey, just allow me one more chance
8 the breeders . last splash . divine hammer
9 archers of loaf . white trash heroes . perfect time
10 joanna newsom . the milk-eyed mender . peach, plum, pear
11 marianne faithfull (w/ PJ harvey) . before the poison . my friends have
12 jonathan larson, daphne rubin-vega . rent (OBC) . out tonight
13 sondheim, glynis johns . a little night music (OBC) . the glamorous life
14 billie holiday . kissing jessica stein (soundtrack) . what a little moonlight can do
15 bee gees . saturday night fever (soundtrack) . more than a woman
16 bernadette peters . sondheim, etc. . making love alone
17 pet shop boys . nightlife . you only tell me you love me when you're drunk
18 fantasia barrino . free yourself . title
19 bjork . medulla . who is it?
20 smashing pumpkins . melon collie and the infinite sadness . thirty-three

posted by fwc | 9/27/2005 8:43 AM
the nytimes had their huge fall arts preview on sunday. some of the things i'm looking forward to:

american analog set: set free (out sept. 25)

the directors' series part 2: inc. stephane sednaoui (who dir. bjork's big time sensuality vid). the disc will inc. the alternate night-time version of that vid, as well as an army of me animation.

proof: movie version of the successful stage play about a mathematician's daughter. finally getting released, starring gwyneth paltrow

rent the movie (of course)

the wallace and gromit movie

i'm also curious about the producers movie. i'm not a huge fan of either the show, susan stroman (the director), or nathan lane, but i'm curious about how stroman (who has never directed a film) will adapt the show.

i'm also curious about brokeback mountain, the "gay cowboy" film featuring heath ledger and jake gyllenhaal (the latter, incidentally, is also in proof), and directed by who-da-thunk-it ang lee.

strange revival of sweeney tood from london, will feature the cast playing instruments onstage, inc. mrs lovett playing the tuba and sweeney playing the guitar. despite being a practically perfect show and one of sondheim's best, lately i've been despising both patti lupone and michael cerveris (the leads) so i'm prob. going to pass on this one.

see what i wanna see, lachiusa's first new work in new york in a while. goes up near the end of oct w/ idina menzel of all people.

the history boys by alan bennett got good press in london, so i might see the broadway production if i finally get to ny. also, shanley (who wrote doubt) has another new work (defiance), as does greenberg, author of take me out, whose new work is called a naked girl on the appian way. it should be noted that julia roberts will be making her broadway debut in another greenberg play, three days of rain.

in terms of local theater, i might catch the huntington's production of stoppard's the real thing, and the north shore music theater's camelot, which is at the shubert in boston due to a fire they had over the summer.

posted by fwc | 9/13/2005 8:15 AM
this article about the flood, one of many that evoke a similar reaction, just sums up how much people, including myself, HATE worthless political talk, especially when it comes from the mouth of the president:the small consolation is that pretty much everyone has been recognizing how inept and feeble his action has been. we'll have to see where that leads though in terms of his remaining years (bleh) in office.
posted by fwc | 9/6/2005 2:28 PM

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