In the name of fairness, I feel that I need to make an addendum to the post that I made a couple weeks ago regarding a show that Marianas had played and didn't get paid for. In the time since I made that post, contact and conversation was made and misunderstandings settled. Mistakes were made and admitted and apologized for and everything seems to be back on good terms. While I don't feel like I said anything in the post that I should regret, I wanted to set things straight for everyone else involved. Rock over London. Rock over Chicago. Bridges Aren't Burned.
Once again it seems that I've taken this thing that was at one point near-daily and turned it into a section that I only visit about once weekly. As might be expected, things have been busy around here, but this last week was one in which I got more accomplished than I have in a long time. Every day and almost every evening are packed with activities, and wedding preparation is coming along well. Hopefully there will be very little stress involved as the day gets closer.
Although we haven't had as much time as we'd like to work out in the yard, we have gotten a lot of things done. In addition to finally getting some herbs planted (a full-on garden is probably going to have to wait until next year, but gotta have that fresh basil), we planted a magnolia tree (thanks Mom and Ken!), a lilac bush (thanks Robyn!), a lemon tree (in a pot, because it comes inside during the cold), another grapevine to go up the pergola, a decorative pepper plant, and about 15 different variety of flowers (including some very nearly flourescent daisies). I think that with some more time under our belts, the yard will be looking sweet, and we'll be a little closer to having things as we want them.
Relaxing on a Friday night, I finally got around to watching Matrix Reloaded, which I'd somewhat made a point of avoiding since it came out. I was one of those people that saw the first movie on opening night (in a nearly-empty theater, interestingly enough) and really enjoyed the heck out of it. After reading numerous reviews in which the second (and the third, which I still haven't seen) were slagged, I decided that I'd keep the good memories of the first film in my head without ruining it with silly sequels. TG went out with a friend, though, and that means dumb movie rentals for me, so I picked it up off the shelf and sat down for some slam, bang, boom. Having sat through the nearly 2.5 hour film, I think I could boil things down and say that the film would have probably been pretty good had they cut about an hour from it. There's just too much everything in the film, and in the end it ends up bogging down what could have been something decent. Too much exposition (over and over with the same points), too much wire-fu fighting, and a couple absolutely laughable scenes that probably should have never been there in the first place (the underground 'rave' scene intercut with a hokey sex scene). So yeah, basically there are a couple kick-ass sequences (the freeway scene _did_ kick my butt), some decent stuff, and a whole lotta filler. Goddamn that spoon!
After another full day yesterday, TG and I sat down to another rental and I picked out Buffalo Soldiers, which I'd heard good things about. While TG thought the film was pretty bad, I actually found it to be fairly enjoyable overall, even though the whole thing was made with almost an anarchistic feel. It was something that crept up in my mind a couple times during the film, but there's literally only a couple sympathetic characters in the whole film and even they're really messed up in some way or another. Basically, it's a film in which every character is trying to screw someone else over and in the end everyone ends up screwed (and the most disturbing part of it all is that nothing is done to change the system and nobody learns from their mistakes). It's easily one of the most cynical looks at the armed forces that I've ever seen, and there's no surprise that the film came and went quickly a couple years ago when it was released to the theater (and it took even longer to finally make it to DVD). It's one of those films I have no idea how I'd recommend to people, simply because it would be sort of offensive to just about everyone (and really offensive to many). The soundtrack (with lots of good late-80s hip-hop and original stuff from David Holmes) was awesome, though.
Oh, and since it's been awhile, here's a puppy picture...
After much stalling and delaying, I got my taxes in on time last week and the past week has again flown by. This weekend, TG and I rented 24 Hour Party People, which I'd heard a great deal of good things about. Although some of the music in the movie seemed to be about a half-generation ahead of me, I can still say that I'm a big fan of much of the work that Factory Records released and I thought that I'd really be into the film as well.
While there were definitely great parts to the film, I'd have to say that I was a bit disappointed in the film overall. The segments that focused on the music and the personalities behind the music stood out as the best (especially the Joy Division/New Order scenes, possibly because those were my favorite artists on the label), and much of the time I felt myself grasping for more substance of some sort. The film seemed to revel in showing scenes of people simply dancing to music or milling about in the Hacienda, and while it was neat to listen to the music, I would have rather gotten a little more guts. If I wanted to watch music videos, I could have done that elsewhere. One other small nitpick is that in a couple places in the film, they used music that was much more modern than the period being portrayed. I distinctly heard a Moby song playing during one vignette, and there was some seriously harder minimal techno playing during another segment. My overall assessment was that the film was enjoyable, but not very engrossing. Moderately recommended.
I'm not sure if it's some sort of weird coincidence or something, but both TG and I have been having hyper-vivid dreams recently (and apparently we're not the only ones). The only thing I can think of that would be a contributing factor for my increased dream activity (and remembering them) is that we got a new bed about two weeks ago, but it may also be related to the fact that there are still some slight paint fumes in the room from finishing remodeling on it.
At any rate, the dreams I've remembered thusfar have all had some sort of seriously disturbing element to them, yet for some reason I didn't find myself seriously worried in any of the situations. Below are just two of the most strange dreams from the past week...
In dream one, I was having surgery on my brain. It was definitely no ordinary brain surgery, because they did the whole thing with me sitting up in what was basically a dentists chair and it was all done under local anesthetic. The strangest part of the dream was that it actually seemed to slow down once they put the mask over my face that contained whatever anesthetic they gave me. I then watched (in a mirror propped up in front of me) as the doctors cut open my shaved scalp and pinned back the skin and tissue, then used a bone saw to cut a medium-sized square piece out of the front of my skull. The tools they used to poke around on my brain seemed crude to me and although I knew that I needed the operation, I wasn't quite sure what it was related to. After some time of poking around on my exposed brain, they simply put the piece of skull bone back in place and then pulled the skin flaps back over the wound, holding everything in place with some sort of white mesh tape. When I asked if they were going to put stitches in my head, they said that they shouldn't, because I would need to come in the next week again for another procedure. As I got up out of the chair and walked down the hallway to the reception desk, I remember putting my hand up to my forehead and wiggling the little piece of bone around just slightly under the skin. It was a funny feeling, and I remember thinking that I should probably not do anything too physical until it healed a little bit more. The dream ended with me being told that the portion of the operation not covered by insurance was 18 thousand dollars and I had no idea how I was going to come up with the money to pay for it all.
In the other dream, I found myself crawling through a field of some sort. I was on all fours, and there was about 6 inches of clear water with about a foot of mud and moss underneath that, making me sink halfway up my arms and thighs as I tried to drag myself through the murk. The moss on top of the mud was smooth and very even, almost like astroturf, while the mud below it felt like pudding and no matter how much I splashed around the water covering it all stayed perfectly clear, allowing me to watch my hands disappear beneath the surface. As I was crawling along, it was storming in a huge way, with dense sheets of rain coming down on top of me and large cracks of thunder going off as lightning bolted across the sky. After a particularly loud crack, I arched my head toward the sky in time to see an commercial airliner flying dangerously low. Just as it was crossing overhead, the plane took on the sort of weight and movement of a toy styrofoam plane and it did a completely weird inwards flip before clipping one wing on the ground and bursting into thousands of little pieces that simply started fluttering in the cross-directional wind. After seing this happen, I pulled myself up off the ground and onto a smooth blacktop road (I wasn't wearing any shoes) and started jogging in the direction of where the plane had burst into pieces, not knowing what exactly I would find.
Another week without an entry and it could probably honestly go longer. I've been relentlessy busy lately and it doesn't show any signs of slowing up any time soon.
I know I haven't made mention of it on the site yet, but I would like to state that much of the busy proceedings in the next month or so will be due to me getting married in just over a month. Up to this point, I've pretty much kept that facet of my life quiet in this section, but no longer. The oft-mentioned TG will soon be my better half, and we're definitely looking forward to it all. In regards to getting everything done for the wedding, we pretty much have all the big things done, and it's now a matter of pulling together all the assorted smaller loose strings. Hopefully we can keep the stress levels low between now and then. Maybe I'll even put some pictures up afterwards if I feel so inclined...
That said, this last weekend was filled with family, yardwork, and a touch of relaxing. With temperatures getting cold at night, we hunkered down both Friday and Saturday evening and rented movies. As it turns out, we managed to watch two flicks that we'd both wanted to see in quite awhile. On Friday night, we sat down and watched Capturing The Friedmans, which was an alltogether morally ambiguous film that I thought worked mainly for that reason. Although it seemed to at least partially take a side overall, it did a good job of setting you up one way and then clocking you up side the head with another point that made you question what you'd just thought about things only 5 minutes before. It worked this zig-zagging sort of pattern for nearly the entirety of the film, and by the end I still wasn't sure of my thoughts on who was guilty or not, but I knew that I had enjoyed the film. The DVD release of the film had tons of bonus material, much of which we watched after being so intrigued by the film. Like the film itself, much of the extra material made me see-saw back and forth, but by the time I got done viewing just about everything, I think that the real truth probably lies somewhere in-between everything that was in the film. Although I don't believe that things were as bad as some of the computer students made them out to be, I think that something definitely went on (with Arnold at the very least, I'm still not convinced that Jessie did anything). Needless to say, the police and media handling of the entire case was a rather big debacle, and there were very few people within that area that I could even trust at all. At any rate, if you're looking for a great documentary that will make you flip back and forth several times while watching it, I'd highly recommend checking it out.
On Saturday, I snagged 21 Grams, another film that I'd meant to catch at the theatre but simply had not. As I was expecting, this was a stunning film full of amazing acting performances. Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, and Naomi Watts were all pretty damn great in their rolls and although the non-linear editing caught me off guard at first, it ended up working quite well as I pieced it all together in my head as the film went on. Although it got some nominations, this film should have definitely gotten more recognition when it came out. Relentlessly depressing (don't watch this if you're looking for something even vaguely happy), but so damn good.
I'm not a person who likes to burn bridges or talk shite in general, but after a show like last night it's been pretty hard not to. As mentioned in my previous post, we lined up a second show for the week on pretty short notice after a band had to drop out of a show at a local venue. We figured that since we were in practice and since it was a chance to play in Omaha again (at a good sized venue with a good sound system), we might as well roll with it and take the gig.
As we inched closer to the show date, I kept getting a worse and worse feeling about the gig, and yet I couldn't quite explain why. Although I don't post a lot, I somewhat follow local music message boards and I detected a distinct lack of buzz about the show. Not only that, but after we accepted doing the show, we found out that we were the third band on the bill (when we initially accepted, it was assumed there would only be two acts). Even after listening to a couple songs off the headlining bands website and being very unimpressed, I kept my gut feeling in check and hoped for the best. I thought that in a worst case scenario we'd play in front of 50 people and that would be that.
My worst-case scenario ended up being very very optimistic unfortunately. By the time that we got on the stage, there were literally about 20 people in the audience (including 5+ that we had invited to the show and who had seen us before). It was hard to find the motivation, but we locked in and rolled through out set pretty well, including an absolutely stellar (in my humble opinion) ending to "My Body Is A Sail." Unlike the last time we played the venue, we got to play our whole set, and we also got a great soundcheck from a nice fellow who seemed to care about getting things right for the opening band.
As it turns out, playing in front of only 20 people was only part of the problem with the show. Whereas usually bands get a couple free drink coupons (or at the very least a discount on drinks), there was nothing for us. As if that weren't enough, we were payed absolutely nothing for the night. No gas money, no drink discounts, no nothing. Zilch. In essence, we had to open our pocketbooks and pay to play in front of a crowd of roughly 20 people. It ended up being a glorified practice session (although I do have to give thank you's to the two people who bought our CD).
So, while all of the above was frustrating and annoying (loading up and unloading all equipment to and from the venue, plus over an hour of drive time each way), the most frustrating part of the evening was that the person who booked us to play the show didn't show his face all night. Although all of the above situations would have still be frustrating, it would have taken away some of my annoyance had this person actually come out and talked to us and told us what was going on with the show (that they were losing money on it since the opening act had a high guarantee and they hadn't sold enough tickets to cover). Instead, the person who booked us hid away in their office (or wherever) all night, not even showing up to listen to part of our set.
Believe it or not, the other band on the bill (not the headliner) had driven all the way from Minneapolis for the show, and although I have no idea what their payment package was, it couldn't have been worth their time either. Props to them for (seemingly) taking it all in stride, it's apparently one of those things that I still have to learn how to do. As also mentioned in the previous post, the headlining act was the newest 'band' from Lol Tolhurst, the original drummer (and one of the founding members) of The Cure. While I can respect the groundbreaking work he did with that band, I have to say that his newest band should have been left in the studio. Imagine canned beats and thick 80's bassline synth sounds with ocassional wanky guitar and midi drum hits thrown on top while a woman wails over it all with heavily (emphasis) reverbed vocals. I think I said it best to a friend last night (after putting down a white russian) when I stated, "I feel like we're in a John Hughes movie and this is a scene where some people were duped into seeing a dorky band while everyone else is off somewhere else watching someone cool play."
If all of the above feels like a rant, then so be it. Believe me when I say that this is the hyper-condensed version of all the discussions that I had with bandmates and things I've thought in my head over the course of the past day. Last night was one of those shows that I'm sure every band has at some point, then really hopes that they never ever have another one like it. I think that while all of us had fun actually playing our music (we always do), we also felt a little insulted and frustrated with how things were run overall with the show. We can't blame people for not coming out to see us or any of the other bands, but there are ways to handle bad situations if you're putting on a show and they were certainly not handled in a very proper way last evening.
With that, Marianas is offically on hiatus until June, when we plan to lay waste with a 30-minute set for Scenefest 2. In the next two months, we're going to work on new material and basically keep trying to take things to quote-unquote "anotha level." If you're interested, check the band site in the next week or so, because we're definitely going to be putting up some live tracks for download.
Our show last evening went really well at Duffy's, and the one-mic minidisc recording of the show turned out fairly decently as well. If things go according to planned, expect at least one track from the show up on the Marianas site in the next week or so. Speaking of Marianas, it turns out that we actually have another show now. After saying that we were going to take a break for a couple months, another show fell into our laps (opening for the new act by Lol Tolhurst, original drummer for The Cure) and we simply couldn't turn it down. If you live in Omaha or anywhere near there and are looking for something to do on a Saturday night, please swing by the Ranch Bowl as we'll be playing there.
In other music news, I'm happy to announce that writing from my music review section was published in a year-end anthology of independent web writers called Measure Magazine. It was put together by the fellows that run the website Nude As The News and I'm stoked to be a part of the debut issue in what will hopefully become a yearly publication. If you're a music fan who wants a nice coffee-table book filled with a variety of writing from a bunch of different review sites on the web (and other random stuff like a hilarious tour diary by Gene and Dean Ween), snag yourself a copy.
Lastly, new reviews, but you might have already figured that out. Yar!