Tuesday, October 30, 2007

reclining on an ocean swell

Night two--the Short of It.

And if last night was musically mesmerizing, tonight was SO MUCH FUN. OMG.

They opened semi-acoustic (accordion, stand-up bass, guitar, snare and banjo/mandolin/tambourine) in a small semi-circle in the center of the stage, and the first five songs? Easy to remember, as you may catch a pattern...

My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist
Angel, Won't You Call Me?
I Don't Mind

*heh* No Apology Song, though. Colin totally failed on the lyrics to "Trapeze" at the end of the first verse (everything from "And there in the half-light..." till "fall of the Reich," which he did remember). Colin was pretty amusing all night, actually, but I'll get to more of that in a second, after I try to piece together as much of the rest of the setlist as I can remember...

O Valencia!
Billy Liar
The Soldiering Life
Eli, the Barrow Boy (w/ hurdy-gurdy)
Leslie Anne Levine
The Engine Driver
Yankee Bayonet (w/ Laura Veirs, as one would expect)
Culling of the Fold (OMG WTF)
The Perfect Crime #2
The Chimbley Sweep
A Cautionary Song
After the Bombs (!!!) / Ask (Smiths cover)

...yeah, I think that's about it. So, as you may note: two Crane Wife bonus tracks! Colin went NUTS during "Culling"--he wasn't playing a guitar, so he wandered up and down the front of the stage, wrapping the mic cord around and around himself and manhandling various audience members in the front row, entreating them to "Cut 'em up boy [or girl]"... Then, at the end of the song, he leapt up on the amp in front of John's drum kit but promptly lost his balance, so the song ended rather abruptly with his crashing down on the cymbals and winding up in John's lap. hee.

I was closer to the front tonight, which was very helpful during the audience "dance contest" that ensued during "Crime" (no winners--"Everybody wins at a Decemberists concert!" nyuk, nyuk) and the Colin/Chris "dance contest" during "Chimbley" after they ceded their respective guitars to two audience members they hauled up onstage. !!! This is why I need to practice guitar--you never know when you'll be forced to improvise--onstage--with one of your favorite bands. I would've thoroughly embarrassed myself with my meager chops.

"Cautionary" was fantastic, not just because John and Chris paraded past me twice, but also thanks to "an historical reenactment of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre" in the middle of the crowd, with various audience members as thugs and Chris/Capone meeting his demise not from the machine guns that killed Malone/John, nor the "meteor" that killed Capone's thugs, but rather an ingrown toenail infection. Oh, the humanity!

I just love this band. Seeing them = so much unabashed joy. I think they're the best bang for your concert buck touring these days, and trust me when I say I've seen a show or ten. I honestly think the only reason I'm NOT following them around is because my silly little law school responsibilities won't let me. (Oh, and because it would be wildly expensive, and because I don't have a car.) But still. GO TO THIS TOUR. Jaci, you may have awhile to wait, but oh, it will be worth it (I'll be curious to hear how they switch up the Short of It).

...and I'm not ashamed to admit that I may have sung snippets of the "Chimbley" chorus to myself all the way home from the Chicago brown line stop, which, STUPID RED LINE RUNNING ABOVE GROUND ARRGH. But not even that, nor my lack of jacket in 52-degree weather, could keep these spirits down. No sirree.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

the tides all come and go

Just came from "The Long of It," the first night of the Decemberists' double-header here in Chicago--as well as the first night of their fall tour. And I was skeptical about this evening, because while I think every single one of their more epic songs sound better live, my very favorites are the shorter ones.

Boy oh boy, was I wrong. That was one HELL of a show.

For starters, it took them well over an hour to play 5 songs. !!! Here's the setlist (easy to remember):

The Crane Wife 1, 2 + 3
The Island
The Bagman's Gambit
California One/Youth and Beauty Brigade
The Tain
I Was Meant for the Stage
Echoes (Pink Floyd)
The Mariner's Revenge Song

I don't think I forgot anything... time limit cutoff for "long" was 8 minutes, but the average was probably 12-15 min per song. They didn't stop between the Crane Wife suite and the Island, and afterward Colin admitted, "Um, maybe that was a bad idea to open with those. I'm exhausted." He then proceeded to say that there wouldn't be much banter on the Long of It nights due to the excess of music, and that there wouldn't be much drinking, either. John chimed in that perhaps the shows should have been called "The Long of It and the Drunk of It!" heh. I'm eager to see how tomorrow evening goes.

But seriously, they tore it up tonight. Songs that once upon a time I didn't much care for (e.g., "Stage") were incredible. The Pink Floyd cover was unbelievable. And I closed my eyes during "California One" and imagined driving along both that eponymous highway as well as the western coast of Ireland, and no matter how stressed out I was about the loss of my wallet, the upcoming MPRE, the paper I'm behind on, tomorrow's presentation or the reading I'm not going to have time to do... it was worth it to spend a couple hours with some of my favorite musicians.

It'll be worth missing Ethics tomorrow, too. Everything I learned about professional responsibility (revenge, duplicity, theft...) I learned from the Decemberists? Hmm.

Friday, October 26, 2007

just a little strapped for cash

My wallet got stolen on the train today.

People suck. And I loathe the CTA even more now.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

boola boola

Oh, the things you find amusing at 2:30am after editing for six straight hours (with probably another 15 hours of editing to go; thankfully, not all tonight):

I only just this moment realized that, in this issue, we are publishing authors with the last names Morse and Stiles. HA! I love it!

...yeah, I really have been at this too long. sigh.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

smoke and mirror lockdown

R.E.M.'s first-ever live album and DVD came out yesterday. I can't speak for the DVD, but Paste is streaming the album, and ohh, it is good. Very, very good. Especially the newer stuff, which I have long attested sounds downright rocking in concert, even if it suffers from excessive production on the albums. I nearly got giddy when "Bad Day" came up, and when I say that hearing "So Fast, So Numb" performed live was a life-changing moment, I do not mean it lightly.

And though it might not be as life-changing for you on CD, the new album has a pretty darn good approximation thereof. Ohh, I hope they tour next year--and more importantly, I hope I can go...

It's odd--ten years ago, R.E.M. was not my favorite band. They probably weren't even my fifth-favorite band. I liked them, I liked them a lot, for sure--but now? It's like I'm caught in a musical feedback loop or something, because I love them more with each passing year. Old stuff, new stuff, popular stuff, used-cd-bargain-bin stuff (yes, Monster, I'm looking at you)--they can do no wrong in my book.

So maybe you shouldn't take my effusive praise of their live album at face value, since I'm admittedly a biased source--but that's why you should stream it for yourself! It's free--and who doesn't love free? With a song that "takes place in the beautiful state of Ohio"? (Yeah, yeah, it's about the Cuyahoga river on fire--a shoutout is a shoutout.)

be safe, be safe

I have Challengers, and it is good.

I haven't listened to it closely yet--just had it on in the background while I made scallops, but what I heard, I loved--especially the title track, which I keep listening to on repeat. Melancholy, gorgeous. And once more, I covet Neko's voice (and her hair, if we're being honest)--she can make so much noise with seeming effortlessness. I'm very much looking forward to seeing her and the rest of the New Pornographers on Thursday evening.

Till then, here's the video for "Challengers"--kind of a fill-in-the-blanks yourself deal, but I like the old-timey coloring. And the goo.

Friday, October 12, 2007

tiny giants made of tinier giants

Mostly a post for other people:

Bruce, thank you for the heroic link a little while back. I stayed up till 4:30 am watching episodes last night (can't... stop... am about to watch 1x13) and it's helping already with the plot for this season (though I will admit to being a little mixed up about what I remember happening from season 1 versus what's already happened in season 2).

And just as you win some, you lose some--I fear you and I will differ wildly in our reactions to Patrick Smith's latest column, but I for one am glad SOMEone out there is vocalizing the very complaints I have time and again with the present state of airport security, even if there's (sadly) little that can be done to rectify the system (no political incentive, as Mr. Smith points out). I've noticed myself that the security threat level is still "Orange!" over a year after the liquid terror of aught-six, which, what's the point? We will NEVER be at a state of blue or green or whatever on the silly little chart. We might never even see yellow again. It's fear-mongering, meaningless bullsh*t that should be eliminated. Spend your resources on improving high-level intelligence to catch terrorists BEFORE they arrive at the airport, please.

Also, I appreciate the browser recommendations--but Scott, you of all people should know that your fine company stopped supporting MSIE for Macs two versions ago. I actually wouldn't mind having a working version of MSIE 7--it would make my law school/Sharepoint symbiotic experience a lot easier. More pressingly, however, I would like a full updated version of the MS Office suite for Mac OS--they're still retailing the '04 edition, which is quaint, but a little ridiculous considering how often most applications are revamped. You may not have my OS loyalties, but you'll always be tops in my book when it comes to text documents and spreadsheets, so please--return the love?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

my hat looks good on me

Ok, so maybe the last post wasn't so compelling. How about this one:

I am officially certified to mediate in Illinois through the Center for Conflict Resolution!

*raises roof*

This means I can take the Mediation Practicum next semester and actually help people with real disputes. Apparently the CCR model gets results about 50% of the time, which is still pretty impressive for half-hour short form mediations.

This also means I don't have to go to class next week. *raises roof some more*

So if you need someone to facilitate discussion of a disagreement, I'm your girl. (That having been said, I do not advocate picking fights just to give me something to do.)

Monday, October 08, 2007

tomorrow's gaining speed on you

Wow. Haven't blogged yet in October; sorry about that. I think one of the reasons I'm having such a hard time grasping that it's October already is that it doesn't feel like October. I mean, I wore shorts and a t-shirt for the last two days! That's simply unacceptable. It looks like it's starting to get colder, but I can't kick back and enjoy my pumpkin treats if it's above eighty degrees outside, you know?

Anyway. In other fairly insignificant-to-anyone-but-me news, after two years (we're coming up on the tawny gypsy mac's birthday in a couple weeks!) I think I'm ditching the Safari browser in favor of Firefox. Yeah, yeah. woo freaking hoo. I'm not a huge fan of the Firefox default font, but in the greater scheme of things, it's a lot more stable than Safari, and important websites (like LexisNexis) finally work correctly. Transferring my bookmarks is going to be a hassle... oh, wait, I can import them. heh. Me + technology = a fierce combination, for sure.

This may qualify as the lamest blog post ever. Sorry kids. I think I meant to write about music or something, possibly about hearing R.E.M.'s "Electron Blue" in the Apple Store today while the Boy bought a new Shuffle, an event which prompted a sudden, fierce desire to listen to Around the Sun (which is fairly notable, as I haven't given it much airtime since 2004). But now you know a) I'm still alive, b) I would like some colder weather, please, and c) I'm getting used to Firefox (...again; used it all the time on Ye Olde PCe Laptoppe in days of yore).

...except the links in the Bookmarks Bar at the top of my browser window just disappeared and are now refusing to come back. There really is no such thing as the perfect browser, is there? Alas.