Early thoughts on the pigface show tonight:
1. At some point i decided not to care what the other goths & industrial kids think.
2. I feel some guilt about supporting Pigface after reading Meg's accounts. I screamed "WE MISS MEG" during the quiet bits of "Mind your own Business" loudly, and yelled something nasty at Martin that only Russell heard at the end of the show. I get it, Meg. But i can't boycott the Pigface. How else to get the live industrial in SF? (All that said? Meg, 3 girls together tonight couldn't hold a candle to you. Yes, i'm conflicted.)
3. How many miles of walking does it count to bounce straight up and down for about 3 hours? My jeans feel like i jumped in a swimming pool.
4. I'm not sure what it is about being 29, but tonight i got way deep in my first Real Pit (during Mudrer Inc, shouting at the top of my lungs. ) Touched Chris' hand (i think R is more excited than i am), and got hurt worse on the edge the pit than in it, but i certainly carry my share of the bruises from the in-the-pit action.
5. The old shit they played ROCKED. And the three chicks couldn't hold it to Leslie Rankin, either. (They did Divebomber) But a great show, really.
6. I like Seybold more and more, each time i see him. I try not to be embarrassed.
7. I didn't like Bile. Zeromancer was actually pretty decent.
8. The Isoptope girly tee garnered about 70% of the grins and kudos of the Good Vibes girly tee at a DNA industrial show. I take this as a good sign for the Isotope.
9. Did i mention that i miss Meg, and hope the new album and a tour comes soon?
I sense unnamable tentacles beckoning me to Chicago, this October. Is Chicago awful in October. Does anyone want to join me?
Last night was my aforementioned Christmas Date - we had dinner at Paul K., and then cruised up to see the SF troupe of STOMP in one of their last performances of the season. I think they're about to go on tour. We have seen several other casts of STOMP tour; many of the acts are the same, but they are just as powerful on second and third viewing. I was talking to Russell on our walk home about it - there's something about live music, and especially about live percussion that is so seductive and persuasive - i was tapping my feet and hands the whole time, and wished we were in a place where i could dance. I wonder if that's why i like live jazz so much - the give and take and fluidity of percussive elements is astonishing and compelling. During our walk home, everything seemed like a musical element - i kept expecting the streetcleaners and passers-by to start jamming.
Dinner at Paul K. was great, as usual. We ate at the bar - started with a mezze platter, and i followed with a crab cake app and Russell had the sumac chicken. I really need to try and replicate that dish sometime - i think it would be a good rub for a hearty white fish, too. It turns out that our bartender Kevin knows one of the performers in the SF cast - Carlos. We stopped by on the way home to hand Kevin one of the programs.
STOMP is industrial tap. If only i could find a musical that was full of industrial tap, i bet i could get Russell to go see musicals!
To start with, Damien has come out of surgery as ok as one can hope for. If you know Damien and want to follow his recovery, jsam is posting updates in his livejournal. I'm very thankful for this. (Yes, thankful both for the success of the surgery and for the regular updates from Sam.)
Dave Eldred had best have a good, solid alibi for Friday night. I'm pretty sure he was standing in for Ed Ka-Spel last night at the LPD show. Stunning resemblance, really. (Yes, i quite enjoyed the show. I really could have done without the opener, Origami Galactika. Luckily, i brought a book and hung out at the bar.)
So, on the going-to-Japan front, i thought it might be useful to learn at least a little Japanese (uh, a VERY little Japanese) before i head out. I don't expect wonders, and i don't expect to really understand others that much, but i would like to be able to at least greet people, use vaguely the correct form of thank you, ask if people speak English (or say i don't really understand Japanese), and ask people how to get somewhere. It seems polite. I might BE a crappy gaijin, but at least i'm one who made a wee effort to respect the place i'm visiting.
To that end, i picked up the quickie Pimsleur set of Japanese I. (We have the full set of French I, and are about 15 lessons in. I need to start working through those again, when i'm through with the Japanese lessons.) They arrived yesterday, and today i made my way through the first lesson twice, and am three-quarters of the way through the second lesson. (That commute is good for something!)
The Pimsleur system is all about teaching you spoken language - there's little-to-no written work and accompianament - they walk you through the rules of language as you get to them when learning basic interactions, all out loud, with lots of repetition and aural/spoken interaction. When i was working on the French lessons, i knew i was relying on Russell a lot to spell things out for me - i always wanted to know how something was spelled when i was hearing a new word for the first time, and i knew it drove me crazy not to know, but i'm not sure i quite understood how crazy. Today, i was going nuts for a mnemonic. I'm terrible with aural mnemonics. TERRIBLE. I had to do the first lesson twice - unless i can see something written down (even phantom-written, in my head), i have a hard time matching the word to both its sound and meaning. I'm a little familiar with some Japanese phrasing (when romanized), so the few words i recognized (desu, ka, arigato, etc) were a lot easier than things like 'you', or 'understand' (anata-wa, wakarimasu,), and the 'thanks-to-you' (i can't even remember it) that comes after 'i'm fine' (genki desu), and so-on. I struggle to remember strings of sounds that don't make sense, and even when i can SAY them, i can't remember them a moment later.
Another odd observation - i also find it easier to remember how to pronounce a sound that's a little odd to me (un, bon, vin, blanc? desu?) if i can see how they're spelled in my head - EVEN IF I SWALLOW THE LETTERS AND NEVER QUITE SAY THEM.
I wonder if i'm visual because i grew up voraciously reading, or if i'm a dedicated reading machine because i'm visual?
How do you learn?
... that is, Mahler's Third Symphony. Tonight we endeavored to stay silent as MTT & the SFS played Mahler's third. This is the third recording in a six-season-spanning series of recordings by MTT and the SFS of the entire Mahler cycle (and they're not going in order, even though the third's the third.) It was fantastic. I especially liked Part I - the percussion was stunning & intriguing, and the blending of the sounds of the instruments was particularly compelling in this piece. Part II was really good, too.
The stage was full - the orchestra was at some of its largest, as i've seen it. Only a few other pieces have called for so many instruments. (Complete with a contrabass-tuba!!). The women of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus filled the back benches above the symphony, and the San Francisco Girls Chorus with the Pacific Boychoir filled the side terrace seats. For so many singers (along with a soloist down front & center), there were relatively little vocals in the piece. I'm often wary of vocals in symphony pieces, but i liked how these integrated.
There was no intermission - they played straight through. We sat in Box P - our first time in the boxes behind the orchestra seats. The verdict? Worth the few extra dollars over upper orchestra for the arm and leg room, but i still like the side terrace better. I really like being close to the musicians, seeing them and almost getting to know them. I found myself recognizing my favorite folks by silhouette and height instead of by facial features.
Afterwards we scooted over to Vicolo for some pizza, salad, and sauvignon blanc. Then we took a leisurely walk home with animated conversation. We considered going into Zeitgeist and having a drink as we passed, mostly because i'm about to polish off the Sterling book by the same name, and it seemed appropriately meta to finish it there. Instead, we journeyed home to you, my faithful readers. Now i just need a good clean night out dancing to industrial music, and i'll feel aurally complete for the month!
[note: i forgot to say that we also saw the 10th anniversary Critical Mass riding by, as we arrived at Davies Symphony Hall. Cool.]
Yep, we saw Chris and Meg at the DNA Lounge. Chris went on first; I had been forewarned that he was going to be doing a solo acoustic set (not actually acoustic; I don't know what you call an electric guitar that is proportioned like a solid-body yet has a hole — should have asked Forrest — and he used some light effects on most of the songs). I waved at Chris as the goofball MC introduced him; he smiled back. Not a lot of people were on the floor through his set, and there was kind of an odd vibe. I had been half afraid people would be rude because they expected Ministry/Pigface/Damage Manual, but they were polite if not enthusiastic. It sort of felt like people being Respectful to Grandpa because he Fought in the War, even though he drools a little now. meriko gives him props for having the guts to play pseudo-folk-poetry-rock at a techno/industrial/cyber dance club.
Everything he played seemed to be off his solo albums (after the last Pigface show at DNA, I half-expected him to do Damage Manual's "Peepshow Ghosts", but no), and mainly from the later ones; when he introduced "Ghost of a Saint" and said "this is off my first solo album," he seemed to be taken aback by the volume of applause, kind of a backhanded way for the audience to say "we don't like your new stuff so much." I liked the set okay, personally, even though I would have liked to hear "July" and a couple of other harder songs. (I think he peaked with Shipwreck, though Ultimate Seaside Companion grew on me after a year or so.) I refrained from yelling "show us your willie" throughout the set. Praise me.
Meg had a different bassist and drummer than she did two months ago at the Pound show, but with the same DJ, and Hate Dept's Seibold back on guitar. The bassist was doing the genderfuck thing; a guy in a sequined minidress, eyeliner, fishnetted on all four primary limbs. Meglet was in a tiny plaid dress ("look! she's playing the cleavage card!" "look! she's wearing panties!") and said something to the effect that she recognized familiar audience faces (that means us, baby). Set order was different from the earlier show, starting with "Sweat" (with one verse repeated thrice in place of presumably-forgotten lyrics) and "Nutopia", then something off the "long overdue new album" (this number possibly titled "Keep Her Satisfied"). Sound seemed kind of muddy at the start of the set but got better later; it didn't seem to interfere with Forrest's enjoyment at any rate. Meg also lost her mic cable a couple of times, but seemed to be having a good time as always, laughing and smiling as if entertained by some private joke. Next, "London", "Deeper", and "Swallowing You" (less dissonant than the Pound rendition). "Bittersweet and Sour", "Thing" (bounce! bounce!) and "Heavy Scene" (bounce! bounce! bounce!) closed out the set. Somewhere in here Meg half-jumped, half-stumbled off the stage, and had a hard time getting us feebs to realize she needed help getting back up. meriko and some other folks eventually did return her to the stage. Encore was, again, a dry, hip-hopish "Civilization" that left me all swoony.
Forrest liked the show and expressed surprise that so few people showed up: "time was a show like this would be packed!" I claim the trouble is that no one knows who Meg is. So here's your task for the day: if you've read this far and you've never heard Meg Lee Chin's stuff, go right now and listen to a couple of her songs like "And God She Created Civilization", "Thing", "Heavy Scene", or "Sweat". If you know and like her stuff, go tell three friends why they should go see her on tour in the next month.
Meg kicks ass.
All i have to say for tonight is that Miss Chin rocks my world. And if i went to a Meg Lee Chin show three times a week, i'd lose weight and get in shape in a big, big, big hurry. More on the morrow.
(Yes, i touched her bum tonight. And yes, Dave, she was wearing panties this time.)
I'd never been to the SF Stacey's before. It seems to have many many floors. I BARTed over a little bit early, sat and scribbled in a notebook while waiting for things to get started.
Mister Miéville looks pretty much like he does on the jacket of Perdido Street Station — shaved, pierced, young, hip — but substantially less cranky. He stood next to the podium, looking a little uncomfortable, as the Stacey's M.C. introduced him, reciting a litany of awards and such.
He was reading from his new book, The Scar, which I've not yet read. His stuff tends to be sort of grim, gritty, horrific fantasy — more surreal and lyrical than, say, Clive Barker or Stephen King, more tendency to linger on the gore than Neil Gaiman, more imagination than most swords-n-sorcery authors. He gave us fair warning: "I'm reading by far the grossest part of the book, so if you like this, the rest should be easy going." Actually, he read two bits, one of which was lush descriptive scene-setting, and the other of which was, yes, pretty gross.
I haven't been to that many author readings in stores. Unlike the Neil Gaiman events, where everyone in the building has paid good money, and is there for the express purpose of listening to the reader, at a store reading there are people in the next aisle over, clunking around, talking to one another, etc., and in this particular venue, there was Market Street financial district lunchtime traffic outside the window to boot, so it wasn't easy to get into listening to the reading. Also, the combination of Miéville's rich, lyrical prose style and his somewhat lilting reading style added up to a sort of hypnotic effect; I found myself enjoying the texture of the noises washing over me without paying close attention to the meaning of the words. In contrast, at Gaiman's readings, the semantics have stayed at the forefront, and for the most part his prose stays relatively simple despite the fact that both writers have access to an impressive vocabulary. No criticism of Miéville is intended by this — in a similar venue and given an opportunity to read entire stories (or novellas!) I'm sure he would be just as captivating.
After the reading proper, Miéville did a little Q&A. He talked a little bit about his issues with Tolkien and about his incorporation of his political views into his writing (he tries not to let his politics get in the way of the writing, and I think he succeeds in that). When asked about how he develops his characters, he digressed a little: "I start with atmosphere... the next stage is creating monsters, which is why I got into this business; [audience laughs] no, really!"
Someone said "tell us about your name." He replied: "My parents were hippies. [laughter] That's all." It's his real name. He went on to explain that it was also an instance of Cockney rhyming slang: "china plate" → "mate" [i.e. friend], thus one might say "hello, me old China" to greet a longtime friend.
I didn't really take very good notes on the rest of the Q&A. He talked a little bit about author influences (Philip K. Dick, Mervyn Peake, among others less familiar who I didn't write down because I have trouble hearing unfamiliar spoken names) and about music (he writes with music playing, so sometimes he has a soundtrack in mind for a chapter; obviously most of King Rat calls for drum'n'bass) and about filmmakers (he mentioned Czech animator Jan Švankmajer, who I'd never heard of).
Ordinarily, on a day wherein I did something like assist in the grinding up of 8 pounds of pork and beef in the pursuit of homemade sausage, that would be the most interesting thing that would happen to me all day. And in all honesty, it was pretty cool, and I'm looking forward to eating the fruits, er, sausages of my labors later today.
Meg is one of our two or three favorite currently-recording artists. Her stuff is hard to classify — it's a mélange of industrial, electronic, hip-hop, post-punk, and occasionally just plain rock-n-roll — in other words, it's interesting and difficult to market. She's signed to Invisible Records, which has some definite benefits (e.g. exposure to new potential fans via participation in Pigface, having Martin Atkins produce, mix, and cowrite most of her debut album), but on the downside means she doesn't have much of a marketing or touring budget, which is why you've never heard of her.
Discounting one or two Pigface shows, we'd only seen Meg play once before, at a dot-com sponsored party in San Jose a couple of years back. There were about 90 people there for the party and about 10 there for Meg, so we were right up on stage for that one.
A DJ from The Requiem was playing some reasonably good music: this new industrial techno crap that all the kids are listening to these days was being alternated with some old stuff: a remix of Switchblade Symphony's "Clown" ("Damn, I didn't recognize it in time to start dancing. If I go up there now I'll look like a poser."), and PWEI's excellent "Ich Bin Ein Auslander", which took the dancefloor population from 1 to about 6, which surprised me — PWEI hasn't been cool since 1988, if even then. Of course, this song was released on Trent Reznor's Nothing Records, so it's okay for goth-industrialists to like it. Or maybe I should give them more credit and assume that, like me, these kids intend to keep listening and/or dancing to that song until the day every culture on earth stops persecuting foreigners. When they come to ethnically cleanse me, will you speak out? Will you defend me?
5000 Fingers was the first opening act. Their "bio-chaotic electronic music" was okay, I wouldn't mind having a CD of it, but it just wasn't interesting to see it made live. The band consisted of two guys hunched over mixers and gear fiddling with knobs and one (standing-kit) drummer in the back adding accents to sequenced percussion tracks. The frontman, T.bias, had a great dreadlocked-priest-of-the-unknown-god-Squonkus look to him, and had a mic going through an effects chain that gave him a great distorted robotic voice, but he didn't sing ten words through it during the set. He kept going back and forth between a rack and a mixer adjusting knobs, and it kept looking like he was going to bust out into vocals any second, but he never did. I insisted to meriko that he needed to sing — sing complete gibberish if need be. I was about to go up and demand the guy give me the mic if he wasn't going to use it. An alien possessed me briefly and I began rapping to meriko, over the music. I'm not sure she was convinced that I would have been beneficial to the performance. One or two of the tracks they played was pretty cool, but visually they just weren't that interesting. I was greatly amused by the inclusion of the sample "Mom, Dad! Don't touch it! It's pure evil!" from Time Bandits, which meriko and I should see sometime.
Their set ended; the DJ put on Skinny Puppy's "Glass Houses". I'm not sure of the exact sequence of events, but before Meg's set meriko and I had had three drinks each. meriko helpfully pointed out to me that I was getting drunk.
Next up was Psyclon Nine. They're a bunch of kids playing kinda old school snarly electronic industrial. Two of the three band members — spikey hair, black clothes, one of them wearing a filter mask — were manning synths as they ran into a couple of audio hitches. Finally they started to get their groove on, the spikey-haired, eye-linered, face-painted frontman stormed onto the stage, snatched the mic off the stand, and started to growl into it. Silence. A nice series of surprised, disgusted, and finally amused expressions crossed his face. From that point on
they pretty much had no way of maintaining a threatening industrial image. As the crew started fussing with the gear, the singer dropped his vinyl pants to show us his white boxers, entertaining us as best he could in the interim. Finally they got things working and started over. Raar raar snarl snarl snarl! Necrophile! Fuck the dead! Raaaaaaar! But they kept grinning — boy-this-is-a-gig-we'll-never-live-down-but-hey-we're-having-fun grins rather than fear-us-we-are-demented-and-will-eat-your-children grins. I give them a C for originality, F for engineering, but an A for good sportsmanship.
They finished up, plugged their upcoming gig with ex-KMFDMers Slick Idiot here in a couple of weeks, and rejoined the audience to pass out flyers. Including one for, wonder of wonders, Meg Lee Chin and Chris Connelly at the DNA Lounge on September 5th. That'll be very weird, as Chris is into this drum-machine-plus-acoustic-guitar ballad thing in a very big way these days, but anything that gets him out of Chicago, I'll be there to see.
When we first saw her, Meg was backed by a drum, guitar, and bass lineup. I think the bassist was the same last night, but the drummer and guitarist were new — the guitarist turned out to be Seibold from Hate Dept., who seems to be who everyone calls to fill in these days. Additionally, a DJ scratching two turntables filled out the sound a bit. Meg joined the band on stage, they did a little sound check noodling (Meg singing "save us" over and over — a prayer for nothing to go wrong in the gig?), then launched into "Heavy Scene". Next was "Sweat", which is one of the tracks off Piece and Love that has really grown on me. I'm not sure of the order of the rest of the set, but they played "London", "Nutopia" (her "Pigface song"), "Swallowing You" (with the bassist hollering bizarrely dissonant notes), and "Bittersweet and Sour". Their penultimate number, "Thing" (the song that got me leaping madly at our wedding), seemed hampered somewhat by the fact that they were already at maximum volume and so had no way to jack it up on the chorus (which is just explosive on the album); they compensated by stretching the song out by about three minutes of repeat chorus. They went offstage as I yelled for "Civilization" over and over, a song I'd been denied at their previous show. The drummer and the DJ and Meg returned in short order and unveiled a dry, minimalist version of that very song. Some of Meg's vocals earlier in the show had been swamped by unsubtle effects (guitar pedals), but this was clean and clear. This was the song I'd come for, and it was a nice surprising departure from the recorded version. Everyone seemed to love it. They finished up, Meg strangely apologized for the reverse sexism of the song, and they left.
I'll let meriko fill in more details. We gots to run and eat sausage.
We had a lovely time last night going to Neil Gaiman's Coraline launch event. Coraline is his new novella aimed at young adults (though spooky-minded grownups will like it too). A recording of Neil reading the book was released on CD a couple of weeks back, but yesterday was the official launch of the hard copy version. Cody's Books sponsored the launch event, which consisted, mainly, of Neil reading Coraline aloud to us. The whole book. Three and a half hours of it.
If you've never had the chance to hear a good reader and author reading their stuff aloud, you've missed out. This is the third time I've heard Neil reading live — the other ones consisted of short stories and didn't run nearly as long — and I have to say he is a really good reader. He comes through loud and clear, he paces his reading well, he does funny character voices without overdoing them, and he delivers the funny bits in a nice English deadpan.
The story itself, I'll try not to spoil; it's a slightly creepy little fairy tale about a strong and smart little girl named Coraline. It's good fun. It's targeted at kids; it might not be complicated enough to fully engage adult readers.
This is about the longest imaginable book that you'd want an author to read to you in one sitting. There seemed to be a definite "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" feel to the event, from Neil answering a few FAQs in advance in order to avoid a longer Q&A afterward (a staple of his short-story readings) to his hasty exit at the end. The massive applause he got when he first appeared on stage, a bit more and louder than I think he was expecting, seemed almost to be thanking him in advance for attempting such an ambitious performance. The reading was held in a church in Berkeley, and while pews offer a bit of lateral ass-sliding space, they aren't very comfortable for long sits, and we were actually packed into our particular row a little too tightly for ass-sliding. The acoustics weren't great, with a hard echo that made things aurally uncomfortable at first, but I adapted after a little while.
Neil's account is in his journal, naturally.
Henry Selick, who directed The Nightmare Before Christmas, was in the audience, as well as Neil's kids. Selick's going to be directing the film version of Coraline, starring Michelle Pfeiffer as Coraline's mother(s). Normally I'd be worried about something like that, but the fact that the director was there to sit through the author's reading helps a lot — he now has an additional layer of interpretation of the author's intent to keep in mind. He can't screw it up out of ignorance, in short. How many directors of films adapted from books get to hear the author read the whole thing? I found myself visualizing the movie in my head as Neil read. Should work quite nicely. Nothing will need to be cut, really — a book that can be read aloud in three, three and a half hours can be filmed into ninety minutes pretty easily, I think. It's a pretty visual story.
Meriko keeps threatening to sew black button eyes on me so I can stay with her forever and always. It's like she doesn't understand that (a) I'm planning to stay with her anyway, and (b) I like my damn eyes.
Russell's entry below sums up most of the evening quite nicely - and he writes much more cleanly about music than i do, so count yourselves blessed!
A few other wee observations:
--I learned that the DNA's ATM is full of subversive messages. Probably the most amusing ATM i've observed to date.
--When i am at a club like this, i yearn for the days of my blue hair. The next day, i remember what a pain the upkeep was. It's all about the balance.
--I need to go out dancing more often, somewhere that there's both space to dance and good industrial music.
--16 Volt's first song was a strange mix of Diatribe-esque music and Beastie Boys-esque vocals. Odd, yet compelling. These guys weren't the best musicians, but they were funny and compelling - good stage presence.
--We had an awesome punk taxicab driver who sounded interested in the band, and professed 'yeah, i hate people too'. Good man, that.
--Russell and i enjoyed several rounds of 'that person looks like a cross between [person a] and [person b]'.
--Free (the chick from Kidneythieves) gets a heck of a lot of credit for getting up on stage dressed as a 'normal', and diving into her set and going for it despite some obvious nerves. (That has to be a hard crowd to open for.) She warmed up, and the set was grand, even if we would have preferred some more from Trickster.
We went out to a show last night. KMFDM-with-Pig, 16 Volt, and Kidneythieves at the DNA Lounge. meriko managed to cut out of work early, so we were able to go out to the pub for a bite to eat, come home, take a quick nap, and get presentable for an outing -- leaving the house while it was still light out! The staff at the DNA was in a good mood despite smuggling attempts and the occasional smart-ass heckling hippie ("The DNA Lounge has a ZERO TOLERANCE drug policy? Bwah hah hah!" "Why's he gotta be like that? I don't go slapping the dicks out of that guy's mouth when _he's_ working...").
Once in, it wasn't long before we ran into Rachel and Jesse and Juan, who meriko and I had first met at jD & Karen's Little Shed of Horrors party a while back. They were here for KMFDM. We were here partly for KMFDM but probably a bit more for Kidneythieves. I only knew of 16 Volt vaguely from their touring-with-Diatribe days.
Kidneythieves took the stage first. Their stuff is on the conventional-electro-rock end of the "industrial" tag, but with solid songwriting and intriguing imagery. When the first went on, I wasn't entirely sure it was them, simply because singer Free Dominguez looked a lot more normal than I was expecting. Their distinctive sound cleared it up for me pretty quickly even though all but one song of their set was from their new album, which we don't have yet. I had been hoping to hear "Taxicab Messiah", "Pretty" and more off Trickster, but only got to hear the first of those ("my god loved the whores and babies/my god never noticed a sin/my god grew and killed the daisies/my god threw the towel in/my god is weird/my god is scared/my god paints a pretty picture of fear") in their short set. They sounded pretty good. meriko observed that Free seems to have taken some stage-prowling lessons from Curve's Toni Halliday. (Actually, you can draw a lot of parallels between the two bands, now that I think about it.) Alas, they'd run out of copies of the new album earlier in the tour, but Free signed a promotional card for us. During the set, meriko pointed a guy in the corner of the balcony above the stage sporting a mohawk and aviator mirrorshades. I said "that might very well be Sascha KMFDM." (It was.)
Somewhere in here I ran into Jen. Jen's someone I met ages and ages ago. I met her when she was in a really bad lifespace. I helped her out a bit and then we went our separate ways. I've only seen her a couple of times since then. Her life is strange but it's good and happy for the most part, which I'm glad to see.
Next up was 16 Volt. Despite the fact that they toured with Diatribe a lot back in the day, I'd somehow never seen them. Like Diatribe, they're straightforward guitar-oriented industrial. I didn't think they were quite as good as Diatribe -- can't nail down why exactly. Still, they had some fans up front who seemed to be having a good time, so it's all good. meriko wound up getting a 16 Volt shirt just for the anime-girl-with-a-gun artwork.
KMFDM was the headline act. I really haven't been paying attention to their stuff for a while -- after Naive it all seemed to sound more or less the same to me, some sort of sloganeering industrial disco, and I could never be bothered to keep up. After the band's dissolution a few years back, Sascha K, Tim Skold, and Lucia Cifarelli released an album as MDFMK that I thought was pretty brilliant by comparison, much fresher, free of a lot of the trappings of the old band. Alas, MDFMK seems to have been a one-off. The MDFMK core rejoined old cohort Raymond "Pig" Watts, and reformed KMFDM. Long-time KMFDMers En Esch and Gunter Schulz apparently were invited, but declined to rejoin. You following all this? There's gonna be a quiz...
Anyway, Sascha, Lucia, and Watts traded off the singing duties for the half-set that we stuck around for. We found ourselves strangely bored -- maybe cuz we hadn't heard the new album, maybe cuz KMFDM just isn't very exciting any more. Me, I would have stuck it out if there had been a bald pervert in fishnets fronting the band -- it just isn't really the same without En Esch (but from a quick listen, it doesn't sound like Esch & Schulz's new project, Slick Idiot, is any good either). So, we left early, grabbing a couple of tee-shirts on the way out. Not a bad night out, considering how out of practice we are.
Today's entry is in reverse order, for no particular reason.
We ended our night with the cleverly titled encore piece from Josh Redman & his Elastic Band. Grinning, he mentioned that the song had a high end title and a low end title ("And there's nothing wrong with being low-end!", he said.) The high end title? "Sysiphus." The low end title? "Still pushin' that rock." The piece was fantastic, fluidly sliding from very syncopated to crazily slidy. (Here's where you learn that meriko has no real vocabulary to describe jazz music.) It started with Redman playing his sax with some kind of effects pedals solo, and ended with all three of the band members going nuts, and then calming down suddenly into another syncopated ending.
I also particularly liked a piece called 'Jazz Crimes', for no particular reason i can describe other than it kept me firmly rooted in the music, inside the music, from start to finish. Russell's favorite was a piece called "Let Him Go".
The Josh Redman Elastic Band is Josh Redman on sax, Brian Blade on drums, and Sam Yahel on organs and synths. This was the SF debut of the band, and they were hot. If you get a chance? Go see them. Tonight was also my first time (oddly enough) at Bimbo's. Nice venue.
We missed most of the performance (we caught the last 45 minutes or so) because we were busy helping Robert & friends celebrate his birthday at Laureen's place in San Carlos. A small barbecue (we brought a salad, and they were perfectly tolerant of me turning into the resident know-it-all about the grille), met some interesting folks, and most importantly - we were able to spend some time with Robert & his girl, Laureen.
Earlier in the day we took advantage of the gorgeous day to run about the Mission and Castro, acquiring sunscreen to protect the pale white flesh of yours truly, some acrylic glassware for outdoor fire-based dining, and a plethora of nice things for a birthday basket for Robert.
And before that, we had a glorious slow wake-up, pot of coffee, and lazy reading through the morning.
A glorious, elastic day, really.
Today i called the helpful folks at the San Francisco Symphony, and exchanged my credit card number for the promise of some tickets to performances next season.
General sales start in a few days (March 20, i think). In case you're interested in joining us for any of these, here's our lineup:
meriko & Russell:
Friday 'D' Series
13 September 2002 - MTT conducts Stravinsky, Barber, Ruggles, Tchaikovsky.
4 October 2002 - MTT conducts MTT (world premiere), Bartok, Strauss.
7 February 2003 - Rostropovich conducts Dutilleux, Shostakovich
21 February 2003 - Tortelier conducts Ravel, Marin, Elgar
28 March 2003 - Bruggen conducts Faure, Poulenc, Rameau
25 April 2003 - MTT conducts Strauss, Mahler
Russell & Forrest:
Wednesday morning open rehearsals
Russell & meriko:
20 September 2002- MTT conducts Copland, Beethoven
27 September 2002 - MTT conducts Mahler
22 November 2002 - Sloane conducts Wynton Marsalis
2 May 2003 - MTT conducts Adams (SFS commission), Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky
Tonight we went to the symphony - i had high hopes. Peter Maxwell Davies conducting, Garrick Ohlsson on piano.
The first piece, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 14 in E-flat major K.449, i found very ...nice. Not engaging, very background. I'm not too fond of string-heavy pieces; i found myself drifting to it, reading my book, until the Ohlsson started to play. Then i'd pay some attention, he'd stop, and i'd go back to my story. Nice, but nothing earth-shattering.
The second piece, on the other hand, was fantastic. Ravel's Piano Concerto in D major for the Left Hand. It was commissioned for the Wittgenstein who lost his right arm in the 1914 war on the Russian front. My book lay forgotten in my lap - i leaned forward, watching the musicians the whole time. Lively, enchanting, robust, i want to listen again, several times over. The piece started with a contrabassoon solo, futher endearing me to this not-often-heard instrument. The program notes do a much better job of explaining the piece than i can (such a bad musicgeek!) - but i do know i was captivated throughout.
The last piece, the US premeire of Davies' Antarctic Symphony, fell disappointingly flat. I was glad our seats are in side terrace, above the percussionists, because the saving grace was found (for me, at least) in listening to all the odd drums and toys they had laid out. (Five players with xylophone, glockenspiel, marimba, crotales, tubular bells, bell-tree, very small high wood-block, Chinese cympbals, clashed cymbals, four suspended cymbals (very small, small, medium, and large) nipple gong, tam-tam (with plastic soap-dish), tuned brandy glasses, two small pebbles, football rattle, biscuit tin (filled with broken glass), three lengths of builder's scaffolding, Japanese temple gong, and two cymbals.) Unfortunately, the piece didn't hang together at all - i couldn't follow it & wasn't interested in doing so. It seemed like there was never more than 10 seconds at a time that seemed to work together - but neither was it interestingly clashing. I always have high hopes when i see a composer conducting his own works, and i like seeing premieres. I spent most of this piece composing this article, and thinking about whether Forrest is right, and i can't handle contemporary composers. Unfortunately, i just think this piece didn't work for me at all. From the applause? It didn't work for most of the rest of the audience, either. Poor PMD. That has to be rough.
The other small notes:
--Burnout velvet tops seem to be all the rage for female symphony players this year.
--We ate dinner at Paul K, on Gough. Quite good; highly recommended. Skip one of the apps and get the flatbread with pomegranite walnut dip. We couldn't find room for dessert.
--Our waiter was perfect for us; the waiter at the table next door cracked us up, but would have driven us crazy.
Still trying to get into the working at home groove. I don't feel like I'm accomplishing enough yet. It's not like I don't distract myself with researching not-really-on-topic things when working in an office setting, though. The guilt-pressure hasn't yet built up enough to really drive me yet. Maybe using the laptop makes me think I'm on leisure time and I need to sit in front of a desktop machine to feel productive.
And then there's the cat. Goblin was incredibly fussy this morning. I fed her and threw her a couple of Pounce treats and cleaned her litterbox and explained to her repeatedly that, no, I wasn't going to leave the house and abandon her all day. She's finally apparently tired of crying at me and is now being lazy.
But I made some inari today, and since I completely miscalculated the amount of rice to make, I had to use it up rolling some random sushi. So not only did I make twice as much inari as I could eat, I now have approximately a kajillion cucumber rolls -- getting stale in the fridge. In meriko's words, "that sounds... appetizing."
We finished watching the first season of Buffy last night, and followed it up with the La Femme Nikita DVD. The subtitling on the DVD doesn't match the subtitling of the VHS version that I'm familiar with. It also has some weird translation choices that made me unhappy -- apparently-arbitrary changes of number, and idiomatic insertions/deletions that I thought unnecessary or just plain bad, even with my knowledge of French, which requires metric prefixes like "micro" and "nano" to quantify.
And there's the goddamned CD player, which used to whine and wail all the time, and which I've been threatening to take to the shop for years. I finally took it to the shop, and $140 later, it still whines and wails. Damn it. Damn it. Do I take it back to the shop and try to reproduce the problem for them, and try and argue that they should re-fix it for free?