Monday, November 3, 2003

The Brain Draining Play of Stumbling Mediocrity

There are those that don't need Halloween to be haunted, frightened, and spooked. Believe me, these days every day life does a good enough job. So here then are a few recommendations to escape and calm down if only quite temporarily:

Kimya Dawson's I'm Sorry That Sometimes I'm Mean: A CD from the lead singer of the Moldy Peaches (wouldn't that look great on a resume?) is a bit of a downer to say the least. She sings like a child but writes like someone whose scars stretch beyond the moon (and back). It's a hypnotizing song cycle with "Everything's Alright" worth a definite listen (typically here, Kimya sadly sings about spooning a guy and pretending to still be just friends) and "Hold My Hand" (a most devastating personal song about child abuse) making this CD a must hear (as difficult as that might be).

The Bangles' "Doll Revolution": Their first CD since 1988 the entire disc doesn't manage to hold one's attention (it's like it's like 1985 all over again!) but the title track, a cover of the Elvis Costello song proves the group still knows a good songwriter when it hears one (Alex Chilton, Bob Dylan, Jules Shear).

About a Boy: I usually don't care much for Hugh Grant but his performance here is note perfect. Grant plays a sleazy, yet charming, bachelor who stoops to anything including joining a single parents' group (despite falling short of qualifying) just to meet desperate women. He eventually befriends a young boy and learns a thing or two about how caring for someone/something other than one's self might actually be worth the risk. And who would have thunk that the song "Killing Me Softly" (one of the world's greatest soccer player's favorites) could ever mean quite so much?

8 Mile: Eminem's Rabbit is the Hugh Grant of About a Boy if that Hugh Grant once upon a time grew up on the wrong side of the Detroit tracks. Charming is what usually accompanies Mr. Grant's name be that as it may there is nothing charming about this particular movie. Gritty, coarse, and often mean spirited (much like Em's music!) what is truly fascinating about this movie is the mixture of realism, fiction, rewritten history, and fantasy. When the stunning "Lose Yourself" plays during the credits and Eminem mentions Mekhi Phifer and how this really ain't no movie and sings about losing himself in his music, it's quite inspiring stuff even for those of us who haven't quite met (though might be well on our way there) his anger level. That rascally rabbit- tricks are for eternally wannabe kids.

Bob Dylan's Saving Grace, Tunica, Mississippi, April 27, 2003: Gospel Bob pulls out a song he wrote 23 years ago when he was under the influence of born again Christianity. The song happens to be built upon one of my all time favorite Bob melodies but it's the lyrics here (and ever present quirky vocals) this time around that truly get to me. "I've escaped death so many times/I know I'm only living/By the saving grace that's over me..." He's banging out keys on his keyboard as he's carefully caressing the words about redemption. "By this time I'd-a thought I would be sleeping/In a pine box for all eternity/My faith keeps me alive, but I still be weeping/For the saving grace that's over me" For a moment or two it all, and I mean IT ALL, makes some kind of acceptable sense.

Liz Phair's"Jeremy Engle": An Internet only track available to those who bought Liz Phair (or who have friends who can burn it on to an unauthorized CD) is far superior to most of the other tracks on the official CD. It's good hearing Liz sing about a "gelatinous thingy" and the typically Phair like philosophy, "sometimes all you need is a napkin."

Get Fuzzy: This world became a profoundly more confusing place when Bill Watterson gave up writing his comic Calvin and Hobbes (about a boy and his feline friend- imaginary or not and about so much more). Yes our daily comic pages since have desperately needed a great comic to come along (Zippy and Monty come close but not close enough). Within the past year the Star Tribune started running Darby Conley's Get Fuzzy about a frazzled pet owner with his two pals Bucky (a self absorbed and somewhat caustic cat) and Satchel (a sweet dog but somewhat dim, in an entirely different way- much less malicious- than Bucky). I can't even begin to think about beginning a day without first reading this biting yet often times witty strip. Bucky rules.

Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius: The blue-eyed editor recommended I read this, one of her favorite books of all time. So I got me a used copy and made my way through (admittedly skipping parts of the preface and introduction) the first few pages. I really can't wait to see where this story ultimately takes me.

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