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arts this week (IFFB, Archers of Loaf, Horse Feathers)

Filed under: — adrian @ 5:42 am

This past week and a half has been pretty busy, including seeing three movies, three bands and two baseball games. I won’t talk much about the games—you can find out what happened in the two games (Sunday’s 17 inning Red Sox loss and last Monday’s win vs Oakland)—but here’s what happened with the movies and bands.


  • Sleepwalk with Me was the opening night film for the Independent Film Festival Boston, where I saw all of these films. It’s Mike Birbiglia’s semi-fictionalized take on his life, sleepwalking, relationships and becoming a comedian. I liked his comedy for a while. And, really, what I mean by his comedy is his story telling style. I wasn’t disappointed. This is equal parts funny and thoughtful and I’d recommend it. My one fear with the film is that producer and cowriter Ira Glass will get a lot of the credit where most of the meat of the story come straight from Birbiglia’s comedy.
  • Knuckleball!: This is a documentary about the baseball pitch. Since about 1992, when I became fascinated with Tim Wakefield, I’ve liked the knuckleball and knuckleball pitchers. This game an interesting look at the history, some of the pitchers and the mechanics of the actual pitch. Most of the film, though, looked at the two pitchers who were still throwing it in 2011: RA Dickey and Tim Wakefield. (Wakefield has since retired.) I enjoyed it a lot, but I think it may only be for those who are interested in baseball.
  • Under African Skies is a documentary about Paul Simon’s Graceland with a large part of the film focusing on Simon’s first trip back to South Africa since the album was released. (He played in Zimbabwe in 1987, but not in South Africa itself.) He reunited with a lot of the original musicians and through and around them playing the album’s music together again, some of the story about how the album was made and the aftermath were told. I really thing Graceland is one of the best pop albums ever, so I wasn’t a hard sell on this movie, but I thought it was a really well-made film.


  • Archers of Loaf @ the Middle East: I’ve liked this band since I was 18; unfortunately they broke up when I was 17. Luckily they reunited last year and added a Boston stop to their tour dates this year. The show itself was great. It wasn’t just that they played all the old songs I loved, but that there were all these fans seeing the band they couldn’t see for all those years. It made for a fun atmosphere.
  • Horse Feathers @ Brighton Music Hall: I’d seen Horse Feathers before, in a small show in San Francisco almost four years ago. This time it was a Saturday night crowd in Boston and a sold out show. The band played well and from that aspect it was a great show. The crowd was very chatty, though, which distracted from the overall experience. I’ll never get why one would pay 15 dollars to see a band and then talk he whole time.
  • Feist @ House of Blues Boston: After all of the above Margaret and I were not exactly excited for another night out. Add to that that I’m always sceptical of large venues like House of Blues. Feist came out and started the hard, scattershot rhythm of “The Bad in Each Other” and we were won over. And, though it’s very big, House of Blues has good sound and decent sightlines.


taipei golden horse; Interview

Filed under: — adrian @ 7:41 pm

I learned on Friday about the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival. Pretty much immediately after I found that some of the movies I most wanted to see (“Darjeeling Limited”, I’m Not There, Persepolis) were either sold out or at times that I couldn’t go to. Doh!

Another one that I was psyched to see (Ki-Duk Kim made the amazing “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring”) is only showing in Korean with Chinese subtitles.

However! Not all is lost. I did go to see Steve Buscemi’s Interview last night and I bought a ticket for the Sigur Ros movie. I’m still undecided about whether to see This is England or not.

I wasn’t actually expecting a ton from Interview, as it seemed like a pretentious indie two-person character piece, but it turned out to be alright. It was pretty engaging and well-written and the ending wasn’t quite what I expected.

I also found out that Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is showing in at least one regular theater here (not as part of the film festival, that is) so maybe I’ll go see that in the next few weeks.



Filed under: — adrian @ 5:24 am

Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson are strange.

Chuck Klosterman is strange.


gamelan and other music in bali

Filed under: — adrian @ 3:47 am

Last week I got to see the Legong of Mahabrata @ the Ubud Palace, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. The group performing was Sekaa Gong Jaya Swara Ubud. It was balinese dance accompanied by gamelan. Gamelan is an Indonesian (Balinese and Javanese) music with tuned percussion instruments, instruments like (but not exactly) xylophones (metallophones), tuned gongs, cymbals, barrel drums (kendhang). Sometimes, like in the gamelan I saw, they also have fipple flutes and a two-stringed spike fiddle called a rebab. (It should be noted: gamelan is a set of instruments, not the players/ history. The Berlin Philharmonic is the people, not the particular instruments they play.)

The venue, the Ubud Palace, is a courtyard of a 16th century palace. Not to be flippant, but it’s sort of like making the Great American Music Hall a lot more historic and even more beautiful.

The group came in, some dancers and the gamelan players shaking these tuned bamboo rattles called anklung in addition to the barrel drums mentioned above. The players went to their seats and there was a pause before the music began.

Gamelan itself means hammer. That’s because most of the main instruments are struck with hammers of various sorts. The music often starts fairly simple and slow. One line on the metallophones and one on the cradled gongs. More lines come in. People with hammers are hitting the instruments with one hand and selectively damping them with the other. All this while amazing and tremendously precise dance was going on in in the middle of the U made by the instruments.

I was completely enthralled from beginning to end. I have to say, I’ve been to some great shows this year, some that I might even call “better” but quite possibly none that kept my attention as singularly as this one.

Gamelan “Gender” Wayang – Krepetan (mp3)

(I searched for a while I’m really not sure where you can get this CD other than in Bali. Amazon has other Balinese gamelan CDs, though.)

Gamelan Gong Kebjar – Hudjan mas (mp3) (buy)

My other music experience while on Bali was marching ensembles in a Balinese death parade and ceremony (amazing for many reasons, but I’ll just stick to the one here.)

They played similar instruments to the gamelan: tuned gongs, hanging gones, cymbals and barrel drums, but they also used whistles and their voices, even breaking into the ketjak rhythm for a moment. Here I was able to get right up up next to them and be almost surrounded by the sound. The tuned gongs were doing a slower rhythm while the cymbals were being hit together at a very fast pace, only to suddenly stop and all by thrust into the air. It was great.


Avedon’s In the American West at Cantor Arts Center

Filed under: — adrian @ 1:11 pm

Dylan, Melissa and I went to the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford to see their exhibition of In the American West by Richard Avedon. It’s a set of photos taken from 1978-1983 of largely working-class inidivudal from the “West” against a white backdrop. It’s mostly working class and non-working people: miners, housewives, farmers, drifters, house-wives.

They were originally taken on 8×10 negatives. The prints are huge, 1.5-2x life size. You can see every detail and with the white backdrop, the audience is left to study the face, the eyes, the scars, the oil or coal or gypsum or drit from the hard day’s labor in the mine.

The exhibit is arresting. As a photographer, I feel like I would done it differently. I wouldn’t have done the white backdrop, for example, though I think it worked to good effect.


flatstock 10

Filed under: — adrian @ 12:35 am

Inside of Bumbershoot 2006 was Flatstock 10 a silk-screened (indie rock) poster show from dozens of artists from around the country. It was really cool and possibly one of my favorite parts of the day at Bumbershoot.

There are a lot of artists with a variety of styles. There were two sort of camps, the ones that went for the old psychadellic poster style that’s common of posters in the late 60s—bubble lettering and bright colors—and then there’s the camp that’s more into simple graphical silk screens and more standard fonts. I personally like the second style a lot, but I saw good posters in each camp at the show. I could have easily spent hundreds of dollars there.

My local (Oakland-based) favorite, the Small Stakes was there. I love Jason’s posters. They’re simple but great. He may over-use the heart in his designs but that’s pretty appropriate for that sort of indie pop that he’s designing posters for. I picked up two from him: a Jose Gonzalez one from the Swedish American Hall show that I went to (normally I would have bought it from Jason at that show, but Jason was out of town for it) and an awesome Mates of State poster that he did:

That brings my total small stakes posters up to six (one, two, three, four, five, six). What can I say? I like his stuff and I like buying posters from shows I go to (which is the case for all but one).

I also ran into a few Pittsburgh artists, which I thought was pretty cool. Budai (Michael Budai) lives in Pittsburgh and does his work for Pittsburgh shows. It was cool seeing posters for places like the Roboto Project and Garfield Art Works. I ended up buying a cool hand silkscreened/ hand drawn little character (Monocle Man, who is saying “I really think monocles should make a comeback”) from him. Really cute. He was a really nice guy and we talked about Pittsburgh for a bit.

There was also Strawberry Luna (samples) who shares a space for Budai, but she produces show posters for Philly venues. Her stuff is good too. I ended up buying an art print (“E is for Elephant”) from her.

And finally, there was the Pittsburgh–>SF transplant Lil Tuffy (myspace, view samples). His work has a pretty big range from the surreal to the psychedelic to the simple graphics. He and I talked about SF Steelers bars and he gave me a Tuffy pin which has the US X hypercycloid (aka the Steelers logo) along with ‘Tuffy’ on it.

There were other cool poster designers there, of course. Some of the big ones and some little guys who were obviously just getting their start (one guy named Zack, in particular, was particularly fresh-faced and nervous looking). I had a fun time looking around at all the stuff that was displayed. I took particular note of the above ones but I’m sure if I’d kept more careful track, I could have written about a bunch more of the designers.


nyc1: recap

Filed under: — adrian @ 6:39 pm


  1. Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island
  2. walking the Brooklyn Bridge (west to east)
  3. Grimaldi’s Pizza and Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory with Paul Koh of earbud clip fame
  4. wandering around [and purchasing foam headwear in] Chinatown and Soho
  5. aforementioned PowerDinner(TM) at Hallo Berlin with mim, liz, jdawg, perlick and qwdgbo


  1. Empire State Building
  2. pastrami and dr. brown’s at katz’s deli
  3. rye playland! with liz and later jonwerberg and helene [who, I’d like to make clear, despite earlier implications is no way a freak and whose school is only sort of a freak fest]

Wednesday [are you ready for it?]:

  1. B&H
  2. the Met, the Guggenheim, the Cooper-Hewitt, and the Moma
  3. watched a taping of Conan with jweberg and liz
  4. pizza in Williamsburg [/Greenpoint?], Brooklyn with Jens Lekman in the catty-corner booth with the above plus mim
  5. Jens show at Soundfix Records with the above
  6. drinks at d.b.a. with the above
  7. a savanna dry cider with jdawg back in the bronx


project bandaloop

Filed under: — adrian @ 3:36 pm

I saw a talk by the founder and artistic director of Project Bandaloop on Thursday. It’s a “dance troupe” but they “dance” on the sides of buildings and cliffs and such. It’s a combination of rock climbing, gymnastic and dance. I was, to be honest, a little skeptical when I went in but I was astounded when I came out.

Depending on the situation there is different amounts of free rope and therefore different microgravities that they’re seeing in their orthoganol world. On the side of a building in Houston, they had something like 300 feet of free road and were doing something like 11 second jumps. That’s rediculous!

Because of the micro-gravity effect they can also do absolutely gorgeous poses like these hand stands (I actually saw a photo at the presentation of a similar thing but on the corners of the Space Needle.)

I highly recommend checking out the video gallery and the photo gallery.

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