gettin’ botanical

June 19, 2007

Friday night, went to the Chihuly exhibit at Phipps. Pretty sweet: the outside, sugar-crystal-looking pink thing was pretty astounding, and the room full of big marble-looking balls in a canoe was probably the best. Also impressive was the Thai room, replete with massive koi pond/aquarium. The only real drawback was the backup that occurred in the orchid room, but I’m sure if they didn’t control the ticket sales the way they do, it would be a lot worse.

It’s expensive to go in the evening (or anytime really), but totally worth it, methinks. I always forget just how huge Phipps is; I remember going to the National Botanical Garden in DC and thinking it was kind of paltry — definitely no bigger than Phipps, likely smaller. More on the exhibit here; purchase tickets here.

More recently: over the weekend, I played baseball with the little nephews; one is big enough to throw the ball well (he’s better at overhand than underhand, and is also really good at throwing the football), and the other is just big enough to kind of run around and sometimes pick a ball up and hand it to me. The bigger one is too big for me to pick him up and spin him for more than a few seconds now, but the smaller one is just big enough to want me to do it for HIM too now. It’s a neverending job, being an uncle. Oh wait, I forgot the part where it’s awesome.

Yesterday I spent some time going through old shitty Go-Kart and Hellcat comps and finding the songs that I guiltily still like a bunch: I will never deny Doc Hopper. In fact, basically the two songs they put on the “Go Kart vs. the Corporate Giant II” sampler fulfill my desire for pop-punk completely. The rest of the genre can basically go to hell.

Today it’s going to storm, and I, for one, am excited. I need to flyer for the Joe Jack Talcum show Friday at Roboto which you will be coming to, but I also will likely feel like hunkering down, cooking and chilling out in the rain tonight. We’ll see.

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film and fondant

April 5, 2007

Monday was tennis weather and yesterday brought us snows. This truly is one of the cruellest of Aprils. Meanwhile, last night was AKTIONISMUS etc. at avant-garde film; Kubelka, Kren, the wonderful Mara Mattuschka. I was glad there were people there who would laugh at the funny things. Last week one of the Müller films featured splices of several different women from several different ’50s and ’60s films, all performing basically the same exact actions, such that 6 different people from six different films were being shown but it seemed like the same thing repeating over and over. It was funny. No one else laughed. I stifled.

Coming up, it’s Easter. I’ve had three of these so far, two of which happened just this evening as I struggled through my article for next week’s paper:

(As an aside, if you image search “Cadbury egg” or “Cadbury Creme Egg,” you’ll stumble upon quite a number of interesting things people have done with the little buggers, including but not limited to:

  • Attempting to bake a cake substituting them for real eggs.
  • Making a fried sandwich with them on wheat bread.
  • Stuffing them inside Peeps, or perhaps it was the reverse.)

dogs and not-dogs

April 1, 2007

The last time I checked in with you was before the show Thursday, so I’ll start there and more forward in a chronological fashion, completing my overview only at the point when I can go no further because I haven’t done the things that I would be describing yet.

The One A.M. Radio was enjoyable, though perhaps not so much so as the last time I saw them, at Roboto about three years ago? That had as much to do with the instrumentation changes on this tour vs. that as much as the fact that — eep! — I’m not sure I like his new album quite as much as A Name Writ in Water (to be fair, I’ve only given it a cursory listen at  a friend’s house once, then heard the songs again at the show). That having been said, Hrishi’s voice is always beautiful regardless, and the show was relaxed and fun, with a good “interactive” vibe (POP 2.0), and on the whole quite satisfying.

Friday night was game night on Torley Street, which basically involves Alex beating everyone at Boggle for a while, then me getting to the irritable stage of drunkenness and everything feeling awkward, then getting over that, and some rousing Apples to Apples action.

Saturday I woke up disturbingly late, hurrying to make the afternoon sessions of the European experimental film conference at Pitt. It was surprisingly  accessible, and lucid, and interesting for the most part. Adam Lowenstein presented a paper on Un Chien Andalou (erg, we watched the eyeball-slitting scene, and apparently they had already watched it once at a session in the morning) and eXistenZ (I’ve never actually watched it; the clip we watched was kind of campily hilarious though). Marcia Landy presented on Dario Argento, making overtures toward the same things we had already discussed about Un Chien Andalou. The next two sessions, on late-Soviet Russian experimental film (Parallel Cinema and Necrorealism) and East German experimental film growing out of DEFA studios, were a bit less exciting, though Vladimir Padunov did a good job of making his lecture more exciting than the subject matter really warranted for the most part. Birgit Hein answered questions in a session that I left a bit early; that was really interesting (hearing firsthand accounts of the avant-garde film scene in Germany in the ’60s) but I was getting antsy and headed for dinner. Regardless, interesting sessions and and overall successful event, methinks. Also I had a not-dog Saturday night, which leads into my next topic of discussion:

Today — here’s the kicker — I went to a dog show. Yes, the kind where kind-of-maybe-crazy people parade dogs around and definitely-crazy judges feel these dogs’ testicles. It was fun; the best part was the agility course (read: OBSTACLE COURSE!) that saw its last few runs right after we got there. One little dog did really well the whole time until the last obstacle, a really big ramp he had to go up then back down, and he just wouldn’t do that one. It was a little sad. On a happier note, all along the perimeter, there were booths selling things like air deodorizers, cookies for dogs, fudge for humans, and t-shirts that said “Groomers do it on the table” and “I’m the alpha bitch.” And there were people there who would actually wear those t-shirts! Also I’m glad to have gone to the convention center for something and not died in its imminent collapse due to poor construction.

This week, avant-garde films at Pitt and I Adapt at Roboto conflict with one another. I’ll figure that out. Also, Deerhunter/Scalpels/Harangue Tuesday evening at CMU. I may or may not make that. I’m kind of burnt out on going to things.

Hi!

It’s Thursday, so a quick recap of the past few days then some hype for the future:

  • Magik Markers on Monday weren’t as bad as everyone keeps saying they were, although they certainly could’ve been more exciting. I suspect with their bass player (who left sometime fairly recently I guess) they would be more cohesive and make more sense. The drummer was sort of boring and off in his own world, and while the guitarist was engaging in a pretty exciting way with her instrument, at points that got a bit tedious as well. But, like I said, not “the worst band ever.” I don’t mind having spent the $7 on that. Also, Harangue was massively tight in their new incarnation — excited about their future.
  • Last night’s avant-garde films at Pitt were really good — all by Matthias Müller. Creepy textures, disturbing repetitions, open chest cavities, etc. But in a beautiful way, I swear.
  • Speaking of which, coming up Saturday is the conference on experimental film in Europe; check out my preview here.
  • Also, Saturday night is Jefferson Presents at Garfield Artworks. Not sure if I’ll feel like going after being at the conference all afternoon, but they’re showing tENT films, so if you’re into that, go!
  • TONIGHT is The One A.M. Radio. Garfield Artworks, 8PM. Be there.

nothin’ special

March 20, 2007

Okay, so. Last weekend, I skipped out on a lot of things in order to rest up and chill by myself. It worked out well for me.

  • I rented and watched The Butcher Boy in anticipation of the upcoming Patrick McCabe reading (brief review: stories about psychotic children don’t generally do me that well, but the film itself was well put-together — glad to have watched it, won’t watch it again).
  • I rented and watched Wordplay, which was nice, but I think since I like crosswords a lot, and also I had been anticipating this movie since before it was in the theater and that was almost a year ago probably, I had expectations that were a little too high. There were good parts and boring parts. I enjoyed spotting the guy (Scott) who was the champion on Jeopardy! for a few days last week.
  • I went with the mother to a lecture on crossing the United States by automobile in the 1910’s. It was by a guy who’s written books about the Lincoln Highway and about Zippy-style roadside weirdness. He was fun enough to listen to, and talked about the earliest incarnations of the Lincoln Highway and of Route 66, and the trips rich people made across them. My job is teaching me that there are enough cheap/free lecture type events going on all the time in this town that you can get away with not having the History Channel if you’re just willing to leave the house now and then.
  • Speaking of history and local things and TV, last night was the premiere of the new Rick Sebak special, Underground Pittsburgh, which is about Anti-Flag. Just kidding, it’s about things that are underground, literally: basements, mushroom farms, catacombs underneath Alcosan. My favorite line was from the guy who was down in the “basement kitchen” with his buddy, making sausage (a “sausage party” for literalists), while their wives were upstairs making keilbasa: “Just makin’ sausage. Once a month, once a holiday thing. Just makin’ sausage. Nothin’ special.”

On tap for this week: the McCabe reading, maybe catching Laura Mulvey at Pitt (undecided as to whether adjusting my workday would be worth seeing her talk about a movie I’ve never seen based on a story I’ve never read), looking at another apartment (this is getting to be a routine for me), writing, staving off the scary demons.

pickin’ up the slacks

March 7, 2007

Hi folks! More tomorrow, promises. I’ve been busy this week. (Will this slow down one day? will I become a delinquent blogger, and will this space degenerate, only to be relegated to the ghettos of Rarely Updated Blogs? Hopefully not, but keep visiting so that you’ll find out!)

True story: tonight I went to the mall with my pretend-girlfriend and burned a gift card on ridiculously expensive jeans. They have a button fly. Classy, though perhaps not designed with ease-of-urination in mind. No matter, I’ll just wear them with my long underwear bottoms that don’t have a fly at all. Seriously, who designs these things, eunuchs? The Penis Envy Avengers?

Maybe I should go back to being too busy to write things here.

  • Thursday night’s D’s experience was quite satisfying — the service, which had slipped for a while there, was plenty good, and the Chicago veggie dog doesn’t disappoint. What did disappoint me was seeing that Mario’s pizza is gone, and apparently has been for some time. I’m beginning to contemplate perhaps moving to Regent Square sometime in the future, and that’s one plus that gets scratched from my list (alongside “clay tennis courts at Frick Park,” because the city doesn’t keep them up anymore — good grief).
  • Two or Three Things I Know About Her also was worthwhile — it began a bit slowly, I thought, but the central garage scene was wonderful (the same scene repeating over and over again from different vantage points, underscoring the impossibility of truly seeing or representing an event — though it perhaps didn’t need to be underscored given the tendency of Whispering Godard the Narrator to drive home certain points). The son of the main character, roundabout six years old, was also notable, at one point describing in detail a dream about twins on a dangerous precipice becoming one, representing (as he sees it) North and South Vietnam, and at another point detailing his take on the girls in his class using deductive reasoning to evaluate the possibility of friendship with them.
  • Friday night, the New Yinzer event at the Brillobox wiped me out early from overstimulation, but before I lost my ability to keep on, I got to see some good folks read and hear a little music, and down a Blue Point Toasted Lager, pretty favorable in my opinion (though I’m no connoisseur).
  • Saturday brought a performance by a band featuring my two bandmates, which was pretty sweet, replete with rock-out part in which I learned that Spencer is as good a drummer as I if not better (and I’m pretty sure he hasn’t been playing too long). Then back to the Brillobox for another try (I kept my composure this time) and Wax Fang (a dude who sounds like Cat Stevens singing with a kind of proggy pop-rock band, much more enjoyable than what it sounds like based on what I just said) and Centipede E’est (who put me in a good state by showing a Steelers DVD and playing New Sudan, somehow creating a beautiful geographic nexus through multimedia layering — especially pertinent while God Grew Tired of Us is showing at the Regent Square).
  • I live more and more within a realm of run-on sentences and emdashes.
  • Check out this huge ice phallus that formed underneath our furnace exhaust pipe (this picture makes it look like the Phallus From the Black Lagoon or something, given the fog):

  • More later. This is already too long and far-reaching. Cheers!