What the hell have I been doing?

  • Looking for a car.
  • Buying a car.
  • Insuring a car.
  • Going to Chicago.
  • Going back to school.

     I usually end up writing an update a little bit at a time over a week and then being all critical and re-writing parts of it, but I’m being all cavalier about this one. I just wrote down all the stuff I wanted to talk about and wrote it once, straight through. But damn, if I didn’t write the FUCK out of it. Or something. Actually it’s kind of funny, because the only part of this whole update that I went back and changed was this paragraph, which is about not going back and changing stuff. Which isn’t really funny I guess.

     I was in Chicago to see Icelandic up-and-comers Sigur Ros on one of their few U.S. tour dates. They were pretty great. If you’ve never heard their latest full length, “Aegtis Byrjan,” you might have to wait awhile, as the band recently signed with MCA, who’ve taken measures to prevent any more copies from being imported. You can hear some of their work here in realaudio, watch a live show in realvideo here, or there’s always napster and it’s ilk. If your connection is slow, you’ll just have to settle for reading their tour diary and smirking at the broken English.

     Oh wait, I found some MP3’s at this site.

     The venue, Park West, was absolutely ridiculous. It was all dinner club style, with crazy padded couches and other such seating.

     First things first: the guitarist plays almost exclusively with a bow (I spent a lot of last October searching eBay for an overlooked violin bow that I could pick up cheaply. Here I thought I was being all clever reviving the bowed guitar. But no. Some Icelandic dudes already did it, and they’re doing it way better than I would’ve, PLUS they’re getting a paycheck from MCA for it). He also has his guitar run through some sort of delay unit, so that whatever bow actions he makes take a second or two to register any sound. I tried to get more info on what the hell they used to get these sounds, but all I could find was this frustratingly incomplete discussion of the guitarist’s setup.

     In the middle of their set they had this opera-ish singer trudge out and whine all Pavoratti-style over two songs. Here’s the thing: the music was so good that this potentially completely sucky situation did not completely suck! After the two songs, the opera guy and Mr. lead singer of Sigur Ros (Whose name is apparently Jonsi) hugged for a really, really long time. Hardcore hug action.

     They had this limited tour EP with them, of which only 1000 exist (I was at the merch table when one of their management was explaining the details of the plainly packaged EP to the merch seller person). I heard that they sold out at the Chicago show, so you’ll probably see them going for ridiculous sums on eBay. I’ll probably end up parting with mine, simply because all of the vocal duties on the cd are performed by the opera-ish guest vocalist, and I wasn’t really all that into him.

     All sorts of crazy instrumentation was busted out. There was the string quartet, an organ, an electronic keyboard of some sort, a flute, a piccolo, a xylophone, etc. If you were there and saw the crazy brilliance of the last song, I’m told it is called ‘Haffsol,’ though I’m not sure whether or not it’s been released on anything. So, in summary: crazy, icelandic, good, you missed out (unless you were there. Then you didn’t miss out. So your summarry would be different, and would read as follows: crazy, icelandic, good).

     Oh crap. I forgot the candles. Can I insert additions after I’ve already summarized? Yes. Yes, I can. They had a roadie come out before they took the stage and absolutely litter the stage with candles, and for a lot of the set the lights were kept dim. So it was visually appealing, as well as (insert word that is like ‘visual’ but pertains to audio here) pleasing.

     If you, like me, are a big fan of Chris Ware, then you probably already know about the piece he did for that children’s comics thing Art Spiegelman put together. But did you know that there was a previous version that was rejected because it was deemed too harsh for children? And that it appears in the new issue of Mcsweeney’s? Or that the new issue of McSweeney’s comes with a CD containing a soundtrack to each and every article, composed by They Might Be Giants? Now you do! Also: The Chris Ware piece is especially interesting to fans because it never made it past the pencils stage, and you get to see how much Mr. Ware changes stuff around before actually committing to inks. Really dorky and neat. If you’re not familiar with Ware, he’s a crazy perfectionist of a comic book artist, and as this review suggests and this interview confirms, he is actively seeking out all copies of his first published work so that he can destroy them. So awesome.

     If you already have the Ryko reissues of every Elvis Costello album, get ready to buy them all again. It seems Rhino has acquired the rights to the back catalog and is reissuing each album as a double CD, the extra disc containing all sorts of rare and/or unreleased stuff. This all kicks off in early August, with the (non-chronological) release of three of his albums, and you can expect to empty your wallet once every six months from then on.

     A random anecdote from a friend of mine, that I thought I would share with you:

     I went downstairs a little while ago to make myself a cup of tea and apparently I had put the box of Cheerios in the fridge. Noticing that the milk was missing, I began a housewide search. The milk ended up being on top of the washer in the laundry room. I have no recollection of eating cereal earlier. I wasn’t even drunk last night much less this morning so it can’t be blamed on alcohol.

     Some reader mail from Greg, regarding the pictures of Evan Dando in the last update:

“I saw evan dando play a couple months ago in NYC. He was wearing the exact same shirt then as he was in that picture you took. I wonder if his wardrobe consists of more than one article of clothing…”

     Interesting. It’s funny because, when you think about it, it’s totally believable that Evan Dando only owns one shirt.

     My personal favorite children’s book “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” is in development as an animated series at HBO. This could be a good thing, except for the fact that it will be narrated by Sharon Stone. So who knows.

     The directors of “City of Lost Children” and “Delicatessen” have a new movie all set to go and it looks to be just as crazy as their previous work. It’s called “Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain” and you can visit the official site here, or download the trailer in two different formats: .ASF and .MOV. Also: They’re in French and all.

Some extra Chicago photos (Titled):

Title: “Awesome sign in Chicago that I took a picture of.”

Title: “Some jackass thinks he’s a comedian and why the hell does EVERYONE in Illinois have a fucking customized liscense plate? Christ.”

     Finally, some good quotes for drummers from Robert Fripp of King Crimson:

“When it feels like the music asks for a drum fill, don’t do it. There are three other musicians who would like to use that space.”

“The most intense you can play is to stop playing.”

     I know I said “finally” about those drummer quotes, implying that that was the last little thing I had to say, but I found something else. So disregrad that occurrance of “finally,” or if you’re feeling frisky, mentally transpose that “finally” onto the begginning of the following sentance. [Mentally transpose here] Did you know that Mellissa Joan Hart (Clarissa, Sabrina) put out an album? It was on eBay recently, and sold for almost thirty bucks, so that’s not cool. If anyone knows where I can get ahold of these songs for free, Let me know, because I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious. And speaking of lame 80’s teen sitcom stars putting out albums, Screech from Saved by the Bell is in a band.

I know I’m forgetting something.