Well, if this video doesn't conclusively prove THERE IS NO GOD, I don't know what will. Please to enjoy this child's breathless and bizarre Christian rap, as well as the female host's appearance. I think she later went to her job at 1990 Cracker Barrel.
It is a pleasure when I can share with you the things in life I think are exceptional, especially the talents of other people working in the creative arts, whether in fine art, photography, music, design, writing, craftworks, etc. It is a particular pleasure to tell you about someone who is not only multi-talented in the arts, but in my estimation, is downright gifted, and I almost never use the "g" word because it brings up images of snotty nerds with giant foreheads and persistent post-nasal drips. Fortunately, Spencer Tweedy's giftedness does not come along with pretension, an unusually-shaped cranium, or chronic sinus problems. That I know of.
Spencer is a young Chicagoan in his first year of high school whose thoughtful and well-written prose has been a pleasure to read on his blog. But he is also skilled in design and photography, and seems to have an almost unerring natural sense of what makes an excellent image. Wherever he is, at home or traveling, or whatever the subject may be (architecture, macro, family), he comes up with photographs that are compelling. They draw you in and make you think, and are often quite beautiful. His passion for design is infectious, and his desire to learn and grow as an artist is clearly very important to him. He seems to have inherited so many of his parents' wonderful qualities (and they are the lovely and talented Sue Miller and Jeff Tweedy) but will have no trouble carving out a niche for himself.
I am very happy to let you know that Spencer has just made his first book of photographs called "Square Eye" available through Blurb, and you can read more about it here on Spencer's blog, or just click here to go to Blurb and buy it now, which is my suggestion. Go. Go now. Shoo. Git.
Did I mention that Spencer is also a really good drummer? Hmm...maybe we better check his sinuses after all.
I can't say that I was all stoked about the fact that Prince William married his college sweetie Kate Middleton today in Ol' Blighty. In fact, the whole thing was off my radar until all the media outlets pretty much shoved it into my eye sockets. It's not like I hate the royals or whatever, but I am not five years old. Fairytales are just that, even if they are televised. I'd rather watch these two cute birds outside my window build a nest. Anyway, since I was forced to pay minimal attention to the Spectacle of Britain today, I'd be glad to tell you five things that bother me about the royal wedding.
1. Hats. Look at all those stupid hats. Look at all those really expensive stupid hats. God, I hate whimsy.
2. Victoria Beckham's Sour Face Again. Now, granted, she is pregnant and might not be feeling all that great, but WHEN does this woman EVER smile? There she is, standing next to her Fine-Ass Dude Impregnator, soccer star David Beckham, she's rich and famous and invited to a Royal Wedding, and STILL she looks like she's been watching Holocaust films for days in a row. Maybe she is in unshakably deep thought about what to name her new daughter when the day arrives. Kelp? Brigade? Toonces? One of those.
3. Camilla, Whatever Her Royal Title Is Now That She Married Prince Charles. Ma'am, your hairstyle is 40 years out of date, your clothes look like you stole them off the Queen, and it's obvious you far prefer horses to people and may in fact be a horse in a dress. You could call me a neigh-sayer.
4. Marriage. Probably as outdated a tradition as the royals themselves. Prince William coulda been a playa like Prince Albert of Monaco, but nooooo. He had to go get married in his 20s! Well, Kate seems like an intelligent woman, and she'll hold up nicely. Her mom is hot.
5. The Cost of the Wedding. This is by far what bothers me the most. To their credit, the bride's family is said to have picked up six figures of the tab for it all, including her dresses, but that's a drop in the bucket. No one will ever cop to the real figure, but the estimates for the total cost of the wedding and the hit to the already-broken British economy, is staggering. Pro-royals have been claiming for years and years that the Queen and her family are vital to supporting England's tourism industry, but I call BS on that. You could have it all in a museum and not keep handing out vast amounts of money and property to people that are, after all, not any more special than you or I. They don't have magic powers, and they aren't any more skilled at cutting ribbons than a preschooler. The appearances they make in public for charities have always seemed forced and awkward, because they are, and no one is being inspired by them, except maybe to sit on their asses and collect money for nothing, HOO HAH. Harsh, yes, but we live in harsh times that are not likely to ever go back to the fanciful indulgence of propping up a meaningless monarchy.
In my dreams, because I think Prince William isn't a nasty lil' crapper like Prince Harry, I would have been stoked if he and Kate would have done something like this...
"Grams, we'd like to get married because we are young and idealistic and such, but we're going to elope to Vegas and then hang out on some rich friend's island for a couple of weeks. We'd rather the money that would be spent on the wedding go to fund homeless shelters, or drug abuse programs, or early childhood education programs, or cancer hospice support, or something that is going to have lasting, real value for the citizens of the United Kingdom. We've both led lives of immense privilege, and we don't need to dress up all fancy and ride horses and stuff. So, like, we'll see ya when we get back, and we'll totally get you a 'My grandson got married in Vegas, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt' t-shirt, 'k?"
Recently, I found myself at a local rock club quite a bit in advance of the show I was set to see. Not a problem, really – I’d amuse myself by sipping a beer, noticing how much one of the liquor bottles behind the bar looked like an old Log Cabin syrup bottle, and by using the ladies’ room before the club got so filled up it would be difficult to push my way through the crowd to get there. I lead a simple life.
This is fact: you never know quite what you are going to see when you enter a Rock n’ Roll Toilet. They are often quite interestingly decorated, but the size and cleanliness factors can vary widely. I’ve been in venue bathrooms that have been as clean and spacious and pretty as Nordstrom’s, and in ones that have no stall doors, no toilet paper (common), no door locks, no mirror, no soap, no paper towels, no hot water, no water at all, no lights (that was bad), or that have been so incredibly disturbingly filthy I’ve looked in and turned right around and walked out, bladder be damned. But this one wasn’t too bad: a cramped three-staller with no door locks and moderately dirty, but with lights, paper, water, and soap.
There was only one other person in the bathroom, a tall young girl putting on makeup in the mirror. As I was washing my hands at the sink, she apologized to me for having her makeup bag and assorted stuff strewn over the counter.
“Some fancy dressing room, huh?” she laughed.
I laughed back. “So, you are in the opening band?” I asked as my hands dripped water on her bag on the way to the paper towel machine.
“Yup.” She nodded slightly as she struggled to apply liquid eyeliner, flecks and streaks of it dotting her eyelid. “I can’t seem to get this eyeliner on at all. I suck.” She dabbed at her eye with the brush, blinking and wobbling.
As I dried my hands, I watched her, smiling to myself. It would have been about 30 years ago when I was similarly struggling to master the art of liquid eyeliner, trying to get that ‘60s/Cleopatra look in wide black swaths of sexy promise. I first tried with some cake eyeliner that I found in my mom’s bathroom drawer, the kind you would wet first. It must’ve been from the ‘50s, because I could not remember my mother ever wearingmakeup, much less va-va-voom eyeliner. I failed mightily, time after time, like this girl was, trying to rub the misplaced black smudges off, swearing at my unsteady hand. I did eventually get the hang of it, but by then I realized that no amount of perfectly-drawn eyeliner would change the fact that I also wore big dumb glasses and looked like Helga from The Dairy Council. I would not be morphing into Cleopatra, any more than the club patrons in this particular bar would be able to tell that this girl was wearing eyeliner at all, given the extremely weak stage lighting. But, you know. We try.
I spoke up. “Listen, I am from the ‘60s. It’s kind of an art to put on liquid eyeliner. You gotta first put on your eyeshadow, then put little dots of eyeliner close to the lashes all the way across the eye. Pull your eye skin with your other hand so you have sort of a flat line, take a breath and hold it, then draw one line over the dots from inner to outer corners. Blink quietly until it’s dry.”
The girl laughed and smiled at me, pausing her efforts. “Thanks!”
“No problem,” I said, as I walked out. “Have a great show.”
(I am almost positive that this is a mid-70s Bond movie, re-translated into English after first being translated into Mandarin Chinese, Russian, and Urdu. Thanks, Spambot!)
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Now, I know what you are thinking...Marianne, doesn't the Easter Bunny know that you think Peeps are made from plutonium and the desperate screams of innumerable souls screeching from the bowels of Hell Itself? No? Ohh...are you are thinking, Marianne, why are you standing there grinning like a big doof next to a nice indie musician? That? Is it that?
Well, I don't really have any excuses for being a big doof but I am delighted to tell you that I was fortunate enough to attend two shows by that nice indie musician there, Kurt Vile, one an in-store at Sonic Boom Records in Ballard and the other at the Sunset Tavern right around the corner. I'll be working on my review and processing photos today for Back Beat Seattle, and that should be available soon.
Doofily, I told Mr. Vile that I was really excited about him performing that night and he was most gracious. What I would have liked to have told him but didn't, and that won't exactly fit into a show review, is that his music has a very unique effect on me: it actually makes me feel good from the inside out. The best I can explain it is the feeling you might have when a baby smiles at you, or the sun on your face after a long winter, or the satisfaction you feel after finishing a great book. I realize this last sentence is possibly the nerdiest one I have ever written, but it is sincere. I don't understand this effect, but damn, I'll take it. I can't blame it on eating Peeps, that's for sure.
Many thanks to Sonic Boom, the Sunset, and Kurt Vile and the Violaters. Easter Bunny, 2 out of 3 ain't bad.
I wasn't able to go along with MissEight yesterday as she visited the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, but she did come back with some photos of some springy fun. The Easter Blogger post-processed pix. Please to enjoy!
In those days long ago before the internet, cell phones, cable TV, or iPods, I was one of those radio-obsessed kiddies; first, with a little AM transistor radio always pressed against an ear and later, with one of the first bulky boomboxes, trying to catch a crackly weak signal from a college radio station 50 miles away. Outside of the few TV programs that featured music, this was the only way I had to hear my favorite bands or any new songs at all. The radio was king, and I was its kneeling supplicant.
There were two really frustrating things about terrestrial radio (which still holds true today): sitting through 20 minutes of commercials every hour, and waiting and waiting and waiting for a song you liked to be broadcast. Oh my god, when I think of the hours I patiently waited, hoping for that one great song to come on, and some of the crap I had to listen to in the meantime! It seems kinda crazy now, huh? Well, OK, it was kinda crazy then, too, but that’s how it was for we music lovers. You had to deal with what you had, and that was all we had.
Our friend Technology and its close pal, Innovation, have in the years since evolved such that no one need ever wait through a bunch of turn-off tunes to get to the ones you like best. You can load up your iPod with all your faves and play to your heart’s content; however, that doesn’t provide you with new music. If you really love music, all your oldies aren’t enough; finding a New Favorite to add to your list is always a thrill. One of the easiest and most fun ways to satisfy your craving for new while still listening to your best-liked artists is to hook up with Pandora Radio. Pandora is quite the genius concept – like, really genius. Based on the Music Genome Project and its research into breaking down songs to their micro-attributes, Pandora is able to, with your input, figure out what kind of songs you like from both new and established artists, and make a playlist completely custom to your taste. Whoa, right? This was the dream of anyone like me who had to suffer a 100th time through a late-night listening of Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” to get to some Bowie or something. Oy.
Pandora is really simple to download and use on your computer, smartphone, HDTV, Blu-ray player, Sonos, stand-alone internet radio player, and an increasing number of new cars. Just go to their site and set up an account (it's free if you don't mind a few very short ads here and there; you can upgrade to a no-ads, higher audio quality desktop app for a fee) and start telling Pandora your favorite artists. You can create your own genre channels (like the "I'm Just About Ready To Kill My Co-Worker & Need To Chill" Channel with lots of relaxing classical and spa music, or "Please Help Me Finish This Last Quarter-Mile" Channel with upbeat running songs, etc.) or just throw everything you like into one big mix and let Pandora fill it out for you. You can listen to other Pandora users channels, and share your channels with your friends on Pandora, too. Here's a set of cute commercials that gives you a little idea of how one song leads to another on Pandora:
Cool, huh? You can press a "thumbs up" button on the Pandora player when you really like a song selection, or a "thumbs down" if you don't. With the former option, that song will be put on regular rotation for you; with the latter, the song ends immediately and won't be played again. Suh-weet! With around 800,000 songs in Pandora's ever-growing library, you are assured to have a very rich selection of music. Pandora makes it easy to fall in love with radio again, and if you want to send Ted Nugent on his way, you don't even have to make a cranky phone call to WYUK's Program Director -- just press "thumbs down" and that's that.
Pandora is a smart, forward-thinking company. They keep a friendly and interactive social media presence (@pandora_radio on Twitter; thanks, Aaron!) and seem to always be very dedicated to improving their listener's experience. "Thumbs up" from me, Old Radio Supplicant From Days Gone By.
My daughter, MissEight, while swirling her hair into a lazy up-do, hovered over me while I lay feverish and bummed out on my bed. She continued to speak, insistently.
“Mom, you have to go see Robert Plant! You have to! You should get up and just go!”
A sudden bout of flu the night before had knocked me down, and I was ready to call Plant’s concert with the Band of Joy at the Paramount a loss. This was making me very sad, as I wanted to go very badly. Even considering Plant’s iconic past status as frontman for one of rock’s biggest bands ever (Alvin and the Chipmunks…no, I kid, Led Zeppelin, of course), it was more than a regular show to me. I am always fascinated to see how Big Wheels can be reinvented, realigned, and redefined.
So I told the kid she was right, popped some Advil, took a shower, and sucked up my physical misery for some soul-pleasing sounds, and I am so glad that I did. Lesson underlined once again: GO and DO. I missed the opening act, North Mississippi Allstars, arriving with just a few minutes to spare before Plant and the Band of Joy took the stage with just a large backdrop of the BOJ album art as decoration. No massive light shows, no exploding smoke bombs, no trilling 5-minute orchestral opening music; just Plant dressed in dark jeans and a plain shirt along with ace Americana/roots bandmembers Marco Giovino, Patty Griffin, Byron House, Buddy Miller, and Darrell Scott. (I did not have a photo pass for this show, so all’s I got were a few arty p-n’-s photos for ya.)
There was something sort of amusing and bittersweet in looking at all the faces in the crowd, sort of like being at a class reunion. These were, for the most part, all the people I saw at shows back when Zeppelin was ruling hard in the ‘70s, but with 35 years on them: Stoner Dude was still stoned (it was 4/20, after all), Hippie Groupie Chick was still waving her arms in the air to some unheard beat, Joe n’ Jane Firebird in matching leather jackets, along with Farrah Flip Hair, Lighter Encore Guy, and me, Ex-Feathered Hair-with Wire-Rim-Glasses-and-Bell-Bottomed- Jeans-Nerd Girl. We were all still here, all changed in ways big and small, along with Plant, now a Golden Years God.
Plant has steadfastly refused obscene amounts of money to participate in a Led Zeppelin reunion tour. Granted, he doesn’t need the money, but it’s unusual to see an artist that is able to walk away from both the cash and the monstrous amount of attention and lighter-stoked fan joy such an effort would produce. Once you’ve been at that level of fame, is there not a part of the ego that longs to see that, maybe just one more time? Or perhaps there is something that is even more important? I believe that is what I saw last night, and I think Robert Plant has done what is almost damn-near-impossible to do: he is performing exactly the kind of music that he has always loved while honoring Zep’s spirit, is doing it extremely well, and seems to be very happy doing just that.
The audience was treated to absolutely top-notch musicianship the entire evening, and went along happily with the Band of Joy’s quieter and heartfelt takes on Zeppelin, Porter Wagoner, Los Lobos, Townes Van Zandt, and others. Plant was in perfect voice the entire night, and Patty Griffin paired particularly well with him. There was real strength in the performance; a good reminder that you don’t need to have a Marshall stack to deliver passion. The songs were both quirky and familiar, desolate and warm, spiritual and chaotic; entrancing and swirling, yet grounded firmly in the long traditions of English and American folk music.
Damn, I thought, Robert Plant’s got it just right. And that was a real thrill to see and hear.
A couple of videos for you; again, my apologies for being short and having taller people in front of me. One does what one can.
I'm Marianne Spellman. I am in Seattle-ish. I like and make music and words and photos and coffee and have crappy eyesight, like every other blogger. I do freelance thingies for cool people and places every so often. I post here often.