Monday, October 20, 2008

Frustrated plans and a girl named Scout

After the Magnetic Fields show in Austin on Tuesday, I worked three days in a row. I never like doing that, it exhausts me. Friday night I started with two patients, transferred one to a different ICU around 11 PM, came back to pick up another patient, and transferred that one out to another ICU at 3 AM. Whee.

Saturday was sleepsleepsleep, then up and downtown for a free Girl Talk show. I'm not a big fan of his, but couldn't turn down a free night of sweaty dancing. Any time I think I'll be in line somewhere, I bring a book. Wanting something that would fit in my pocket and could be cast aside if need be, I started reading To Kill a Mockingbird again. I've read it every couple years since 8th grade and its pleasures never cease. Sadly, I slept in too long and after waiting in line for an hour the venue was full.

Through most of that hour I was able to tune out the conversations around me but this one comment pierced my bubble of reading satisfaction, "If you see kittens that aren't the same color as the mom or dad, that means that the mom got like, gang-raped." I didn't hear what preceded that bit of science, but I doubt that context would have helped.

Denied my original entertainment plan, I walked across downtown to the Angelika Theater thinking there would be something I'd want to see. Bought a ticket for Burn After Reading and was promptly driven mad by the jittery picture and loud projector. Twenty minutes in I had a headache from trying to focus on the screen. Nice manager said she couldn't fix the picture and wrote me out a free pass without me having to ask.

So back home and a marathon reading session to finish To Kill a Mockingbird. A bust of a night was redeemed by the wonderfulness of Harper Lee's prose. Sometimes I wish she'd written another novel, but mostly I'm just glad that she sent this one out into the world.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Magnetic Fields 10/14 in Austin

Every time The Magnetic Fields play in Austin they upgrade from the previous venue. This time it was at the Paramount and I wasn't surprised to see the orchestra section full and a good chunk of the balcony occupied. It was also old-home week as I chatted with several people I haven't seen in years. I'm generally not a fan of seated venues - too staid - but it works for MF. They haven't had a rhythm section for 14 years and play at a moderate volume and tempo.

After a fun set of very short, nonfiction stories and very short, news-of-the-day songs (with a slide projector providing visuals) by Michael Hearst, MF took the stage. Before the first song, Claudia asked the audience, "Are you ready to rock?" To which Stephin replied, "Then go somewhere else." Ba-dump bump crash (cymbal). Aside from the actual songs, Claudia and Stephin's banter provide a good bit of the entertainment.

Of note was the debut of Stephin's new bouzouki purchased that day. The previous one had grown fatigued. This reminded me of the throwaway gag in This Is Spinal Tap when the manager Ian rants about how hard he works for the band to little appreciation, "Do you know what I spend my time doing? I sleep two or three hours a night. There's no sex and drugs for Ian, David. Do you know what I do? I find lost luggage. I locate mandolin strings in the middle of Austin!" Which is very funny to me because it was and remains tremendously easy to find mandolin strings in Austin. Less so with new bouzoukis but still.

Also, though Claudia is terribly excited by the idea of Holiday coming out on vinyl because she loves the cover, it will not be the next vinyl release. That will be 69LS next year to celebrate the 10-year anniversary. I hope it comes with a big version of the little book.

Setlist (with notes):

When I'm Out of Town
No One Will Ever Love You

Dear lord do I love Shirley's voice.
California Girls
Lots of laughs for this one.
Walking My Gargoyle
Claudia: Sadly The Tragic Treasury sold out tonight making several songs less...
Stephin: Urgent.
The Nun's Litany
All My Little Words
Old Fools
I Wish I Had an Evil Twin
Dreams Anymore
This Little Ukulele

Personal freak-out as I adore this song.
All Dressed Up in Dreams
Wonderful harmonizing from the ladies.
Javier Says
Claudia: This song is about two homosexuals in the East Village throwing shit at each other. Verbally. Like "Uh-uh Mary."
Stephin executes pro-forma, entirely sass-less Z snap to the delight of all.
Zombie Boy
Several aborted starts as Stephin interrupted to say things like, "Everyone is someone's
zombie boy."
Papa Was a Rodeo
Swoons all around.
Take Ecstasy With Me
Strangled screams of pleasure from some.

Love this! Creepy, weird, and wonderful.
The Tiny Goat
As always, heartbreaking.
Too Drunk to Dream
Raucous adoration for this one.
The Book of Love
Sam looked particularly sentimental here.
Give Me Back My Dreams
Drive On Driver
What a Fucking Lovely Day!

Introduced, "So Tu An-Gu has just impaled what he thinks is the orphan of Zhao and then he sings this."
Yeah, Oh Yeah
With Claudia swanning about the stage
It's Only Time
Claudia notes that after the previous murder ballads, this one is often played at weddings. To which Stephin added, "Before the murder ballads begin."

First "Three-way" just Stephin, John, and Sam. 2nd was Claudia, Shirley, and an
out-of-the-wings Michael Hearst. 3rd was really a six-way.
As You Turn to Go
Grand Canyon

Musically gorgeous (aside from that mic short explosion that startled everyone), attentive audience, great setlist; it was a wonderful show and exceeded my expectations.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Sometimes I can only be funny in my own head

I met with my new nurse class again and one of the topics was dealing with workplace stress. The presentation was mostly garden-variety stress management techniques with some nurse-related window dressing (mixed metaphor alert). Though one bit of wisdom made my ears perk up, "Don't bring the bear home with you and into bed."

It was all I could do not to raise my hand and ask, "But what if I find it very stress-relieving to bring a hairy gay man into bed?"