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Pop culture junkie, native of Las Vegas, not really a writer.
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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Interpol and Canadians

I went to see Interpol on Monday night with Phillip and my friend Shanda. I was a little leery because friends of mine who had seen them the Friday before in Portland had reported a lackluster showing by the band and no encore. No encore?!? The thought was mortifying!

Lucky for us (sorry Jill and Frank) they were UH-MAY-ZING!!!! After two mediocre live shows in a row they completely restored my faith in live music.

This is the third time Phillip and I have seen them. The first time was September 19th, 2005. Phillip literally remembers this as one of the most perfect shows he's ever seen and I tend to agree with him. That night they played every song we could wish to hear, had a gorgeous light show that accompanied the music, and were tighter than tight with their musicianship. The second time we saw them was last April and it was a warm up show a few months before the release of their new album "Our Love to Admire" and it felt like that. Almost like the audience was just watching band practice: short and sweet set, no special lighting nor attempt to utterly please the audience. Not really very rocking. Well this past Monday night was thankfully a companion show to that first one. Long set, spectacular and atmospheric stage setup with columns of light and projected images, and perfect playing. You know how the layers of sound that a band can capture on a record sometimes can not be replicated on stage? That just isn't true with Interpol! They are so tight – every bit of that nuanced, cavernous sound from their albums comes through in their live shows. It's incredible!

Here is the set list from memory, so not necessarily in this order or complete:

Pioneer to the Falls
Obstacle 1 (these were definitely songs 1 & 2)
Slow Hands
Rest My Chemistry
Not Even Jail
Heinrich Maneuver
No I in Threesome
Say Hello to the Angels

And our encore (in order):
Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down

Phillip and I already knew that they would play "Pioneer to the Falls" first because it's just the perfect opening song and from most reports they've been opening with it on this tour, but we took bets on what song would be second. I guessed "Evil" but Phillip triumphed with "Obstacle 1." The encore was incredible. The first song they played we weren't familiar with and my friend Dave informed me later that it was an early b-side. Phillip feels like he summoned Stella because he was shouting it out like freaking Brando throughout the entire show. He had such a great time, Shanda and I were laughing at him because he was so into it! During PDA when that extended pause in the song occurs, the band held it for about 30 seconds too long while the whole audience screamed. Paul and the boys were absolutely playing with us, building our anticipation level up to that nice breaking point, and then they crashed back in with the music. It was AWESOME. If I had money I would follow this band around on tour.

During the show I met a random boy at the bar. He was from Canada, this was the first time he had seen Interpol and he was blown away. Before the show ended I ran into him again and invited him and his friend to come with us to the Double Down Saloon after the show for a drink. Since they were from out of town and it was a Monday night I figured they'd be happy to join us and they were. Their names are Rhys and English and they run a bar in Toronto called The Underground Garage and they are super cool people. They were excited to see a real Vegas bar and not another club on The Strip which is all they had seen of Vegas prior to this. Our buddy Ben (DJ Rex Dart) was spinning and our friends Dameian (DJ Standing 8) and Nicole met us for drinks too. The Canada Boys bought us round after round (although I was driving, so quickly switched to water) and we talked and talked and talked. We then decided to take them to downtown Las Vegas, which they had yet to see. They are truly music lovers and when we played The Stills in the car they were impressed that we would be fans of such an obscure Canadian band. We then exposed them to Neutral Milk Hotel who they had never heard before. We hit The Griffin, one of the coolest bars we have, and they fell instantly in love with it and played about a dozen songs on the jukebox. English is the drummer in a band (My Psycho Ex) and I wish him much luck. I hope we will stay in touch with these guys because I want to visit Toronto and drink in their bar now.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Elizabeth: The Golden Age - A Review

I saw Elizabeth: The Golden Age last night with Ramiro, Jared, Nicole, Vanessa, and Raymond. Raymond and I saw the original Elizabeth together oh so many years ago, so it was quite fitting that we should see this one too!

My initial reaction. The first one was better. The Golden Age looked absolutely gorgeous, from costumes to set designs to location shots to the destruction of the Spanish Armada – absolutely visually stunning! But the story was kind of a snoozer. Who knew that palace intrigue could be boring? The entire Mary Stuart plotline needed to be better paced. We all knew where it was heading; couldn't they have resolved it more speedily and focused more on the actual war? That would have made the film ten times more exciting.

Clive Owen. Ah well I love Clive, he's super yummy, but his Sir Walter Raleigh was super cheesy. Was he trying to emulate Errol Flynn? Maybe, but he reminded me more of Kevin Kline as Errol Flynn in the movie "Chaplin." (Does anyone get what I mean by that? Yeah, I don't know if I do either but I just keep picturing Kevin Kline!) It was all I could do not to laugh out loud during his whole "this is what crossing the ocean and discovering the new world is like" speech. Gag me. The writers tried too hard to make him a strong, romantic, daring character but he came off as arrogant and a little snide. It also led them to bring on the historical inaccuracies by placing him on a lead ship during the Armada battle. Um, Sir Walter Raleigh wasn't involved in that capacity. But didn't it look cool to see Clive set his boat on fire, swing on a rope, dive into the water and swim to safety? I know we are watching the film for entertainment and not a history lesson, so this is the only historical inaccuracy I will point out.

The Guy who played King Phillip II of Spain. What the hell was up with this guy? Yes, I understand that Phillip suffered from gout and was a devout Catholic, but this (over) actor sporting those spindly little legs, shuffling around like he had shackles around his ankles, talking like a crazy person and clutching his bible was simply ridiculous! Watching him was like watching a member of Monty Python play the part.

The music. There was an overuse of score in this film. It felt like the music was on a constant swell. There was no subtlety and no quiet, which believe it or not is sometimes welcome in a film! A good script, a good director, and good actors should be able to evoke the right emotions out of an audience at the right time without using the music to dictate every little thing! A score should blend in and enhance a film, not overwhelm and beat it down.

Cate Blanchett. She may well be my favorite actress right now and owned the screen as Elizabeth. What that woman can do with just a twinkle of her eye is amazing! She saved this movie for me making it worth staying awake through my boredom and sailing the seas of cheese to watch her chew up her co-stars, the dialogue, and the scenery and spit it all back out! I just wish the writers had given her more to work with.

Ultimately I am going to blame the writers for the failure of this film. I understand that they wanted to show Queen Elizabeth as a real woman with vulnerability, fear and doubts but they went about it the wrong way. They focused too much on this silly love triangle and turned the film into a soap opera instead of showing what Elizabeth was really up against politically and emotionally as the ruler and defender of an Empire. It was called Elizabeth: The Golden Age but the film was so focused on her internal life that it didn't reveal what exactly was so golden about England during that Age. I feel like there was a missed opportunity here.

To sum up: Cate and all the visuals from costumes to cinematography - fantastic. The rest of the movie? Meh.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rilo Kiley

Phillip, Jen and I went to see Rilo Kiley on Saturday night at The Joint. The place was only half full which was nice for us because you could get a beer without waiting in line for 20 minutes and you could actually move freely and not spill said $6 beer. Those of you that know me well know about my massive girl crush on Jenny Lewis. There is just something about her! I don't know if it's a natural affinity for redheads and natives of Vegas or what but I know that if we ever met we would totally be friends. I picture the two of us drinking beers and listening to records. It would be awesome. I explained to Phillip that if it ever came up I would absolutely leave him for her. When I explained that to a friend I bumped into at the show he said, "We would all leave him for Jenny Lewis." So I guess I'm not the only one. Anyway, she was adorable as always and gave her birthplace a nod by saying, "It's good to be home!"

The set list was ok. I would have preferred more songs off "The Execution of All Things" which I think is a nearly perfect record and Rilo Kiley's best, but understand that of course they are going to play music mainly off their newest album. They did play my all time favorite song, "With Arms Outstretched," and that was where the lack of a full house really affected the performance. This is a classic sing along song, but it was obvious that the crowd was filled with mostly Johnny Come Latelies that didn't know the words to a song three albums old. When Jenny moved the mic towards the crowd and let us sing Phillip, Jen, and I belted the words out at the top of our lungs, but it was a pretty mediocre crowd performance overall. I wanted to slap the crowd around for that.

Interestingly enough the band played only one song that wasn't a Rilo Kiley song. Blake Sennet introduced it as being a cover and called it "Snowball's favorite song EVER!" (I found out later that "Snowball" is an affectionate nickname for Blake's brother who works as a roadie for the band) before they broke into "Rise Up With Fists" which is from Jenny Lewis' solo album last year. With all the press coverage of the rivalry between Jenny and Blake over her solo project being more successful than his side project (The Elected), I imagine it must be a thorn in his side that hers is the only non-Rilo Kiley song they play! I guess we ultimately know who holds the power, right?

I was enjoying the show to an extent but then the encore blew. I was hoping they would come back out and do at least two songs and was praying for "My Slumbering Heart" which has beautiful imagery while still rocking and is Phillip's favorite song. Instead they played only one song, "Does He Love You?" which although has a raucous ending music wise, is a cheating/broken hearted downer when it comes to the lyrics: "Let's not forget ourselves good friend, I am flawed if I'm not free and your husband will never leave you, he will never leave you for me." Not exactly the lines to instill that elated feeling every show should end with! And Jenny made a quick exit with no bow, no thank you, and no moment for the audience to applaud her. Bummer.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

New digs

I'm back. We've moved. It went fairly smoothly, most of our snags have come post rental truck and helping hands. Got the rental early Saturday morning, my brother-in-law, little sister's boyfriend, and our friends Tim & Meg all came and helped us load the truck at the old place and unload it at the new. The only problem we had there was getting our enormous and enormously heavy couch out of the apartment. It took some major brain power and a lot of me repeating, "If we got it in here, we have to be able to get it out." I kept thinking of that "Friends" episode where Ross and Chandler are trying to get the couch up the stairs and Ross yells, "PIVOT!" over and over. Phillip finally solved the puzzle without us having to remove the legs on the couch or the door from it's hinges. I love my family and friends and am so thankful that they volunteered to get up early on a Saturday morning and help us move.

So we are very nearly unpacked and finding little quirks about the place. There are no stoppers in any of the bathroom sinks. Our water softener had no salt in it AT ALL. At first this meant nothing to me, but after some investigation I found that it should be completely filled with salt. So I went to Home Depot and bought four bags of salt that weigh 40 lbs each! And those four bags still didn't fill it to the top! Argh. I'm not going to like dealing with that regularly. Oh and we didn't have cable all weekend because even though it was never scheduled to be cut off by the previous renters, somehow it was cut off. Not too big of deal except Phillip missed all the football on Sunday which annoyed him. Thankfully I have friends in the right places and was able to get it taken care of in time for "Heroes" on Monday night.

Anyone have any suggestions for a good place to buy light switch plates? Currently there are hideous ones in here with lighthouses on them. Oh and one in the kitchen with a rooster on it. Ew! I checked Target but their selection was rather boring.

Anyway, there is still work to be done: closets to organize, a few more boxes to unpack, DVDs and CDs to alphabetize, pictures to hang on walls, etc. but we are getting there.

I think we are going to be happy here.