Burning Man Decompression

Thanks to the Santa Ana winds–and some mysteriously sourced cologne–playing havoc with my allergies, I didn’t get to wander around the huge place this year, only got to shoot my friend Christiane and her band Riddle The Sphinx. But hey, these are the best shots I’ve ever gotten of her, so I’m sure she can convince me it was worth the $25 entrance fee. . (there’s a lot of them, so I kept them small. . . or rather, medium.)

!IMG_5177 !IMG_5196 !IMG_5204 !IMG_5298 !IMG_5310 !IMG_5392 !IMG_5417 !IMG_5449 !IMG_5458 !IMG_5498--its ireland !IMG_5523 !IMG_5530 !IMG_5533 !IMG_5534 !IMG_5537 !IMG_5553 !IMG_5555

.;o)

Concert Bookends

Haven’t gone to the movies in two years, now twice in one week. . . and possibly Much Ado About Nothing on Friday. My head hurts. . .
So, right before I left for Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro, I went to Natalie Gelman’s concert at Hotel Café–can’t believe it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been there–and last night found myself at Molly Malone’s for Riddle the Sphinx.
Here’s how it happened. . . (dramatic music sting)

A few Thursdays ago. . .
Most people probably couldn’t tell, but I remember enough of that training to know there’s heightened security going on around Union Station. Some overt signs, with cop SUVs on the outer circle, and a couple of K9 units, but to my delight I picked out a few undercover guys trying to meld into the crowd; nice to know my brain hasn’t atrophied that much. . . yet.
No big deal getting to Westwood, but after a cool cloudy morning it got sunny and humid in a hurry! Farmers’ Market is going on, but as usual I don’t find anything of interest. . . except the roasted corn! Mmmmm, so goooood! Ate it on the way to platelet donation, but because of the heat in my mouth and the day–sweating in my UCLA hoodie–I almost didn’t pass the thermometer test. Even worse, the music selection as I waited to be called in was. . . well past eclectic: there was one of the countless covers of Buckley’s Hallelujah, followed by heavy metal. . . and then mariachi! Couldn’t take it anymore, had to ask at the desk what kind of weird radio station this was. . . and the answer is. . . Pandora on shuffle! Ha!
Rather than watch a movie this time, I had my Kindle, but even then I ended up falling asleep. Still, this was the second time in a row where all went well, no cramps or bathroom issues, and I even caught a quick glimpse of the perpetually sunny Kirsten while in recovery, talking to an older lady about world travels. . .
The corn was so good I went back for another, almost getting run over by a tall blonde babe on a skateboard. That looked quite. . . funny.
Had no choice but to take the Sunset bus this time, but I was way early, so I ended up riding all the way to Freestyle Photo, just to shoot the breeze, though I told the guy I was compiling a wish list for my birthday so it wouldn’t be suspicious when I didn’t buy anything. But then fun petered out pretty early, so I crossed the street to go back, and found myself on the first bus I’ve ever ridden that had a new car smell. . .
Took the side alley, having to dodge some movers on the way, and quickly found myself inside Hotel Café for the 74th time–nothing much has changed, other than the waitress of course. No one will ever live up to the cuteness of Meiko, but this one had a very sweet smile; if history is any indication, I love waitresses. . .
Brooke Annabelle was the opening act, whom I liked but didn’t love; she’s great in concert, and while I liked the songs, I couldn’t tell them apart. She had drums and bass backing her, leading to a hard-rocking enjoying half-hour or so. Also noticed the waitress kneels to not be in the way; I like good girls. Plus the fact she called me honey and patted me on the shoulder. . . the world is such a better place with me not being born with the psychology of a stalker, huh? It was even cute when she said empanadas w/ a tilde on the N; I didn’t bother to correct her.
Okay, it’s one minute to eight and there’s no sign of Natalie, though her stuff is already on sale at the entrance. To my shock, the chicken actually smells pretty good. . . THERE she is! In a dress. . . no, a miniskirt and high heels, nothing at all like I’ve seen from her. Up on stage in the spotlight, she actually reminded me a bit of Jeri Ryan. . .
1 Streetlamp Musician
“I don’t want to die with a melody inside.” The previous act had ended with streetlight song, so of course I had to make note of it while trying not to giggle. I would have thought this would be her closer, as emotional as she gets with it.
2 Laugh so Hard You Cry
See, the hard-rockin’ one shoulda been first. She even invited everyone to boogie, then proceeds to hit all the high notes, spectacular considering her normal deeper voice. Her hair is flying all over her face, like in the photos I took that windy day in Century City. . .
3 The Lion
She talks a little too much between songs; bet she could have fit another song in there if she’d kept it brief. As expected, this got the crowd, especially the ladies, into it.
4 Most the While
She complains about there being no gag reel for the video she shot for this–too much cussing. That’s exactly the kind of thing I love to find out about, considering her sweet innocent face. . .
5 Long Stemmed Roses
Does a long story about how she wrote the song, ending with the almost-clueless ex wondering if the song was. . . “Yes, the song is about you, fuck you!”
6 Sundance in your eyes
She invites everyone to sing along. . . “and if you’ve had too much to drink, air sing.” classic line.
7 One more thing
First song tonight I was unfamiliar with; hope she doesn’t scream so much and make it so big on the studio version. It occurs to me that, between her innocent face and the way she was dressed, she could be anywhere between 17 and 35. . .
8 Crazy
Since I am so untragically unhip, I have no idea if this is actually a cover of the Gnarls Barkley tune. . . and I got nothing else here.
Somehow she–or more likely the howls from the audience—convinced the sound guy to let her do an encore, although for all I know this was supposed to be her closer and she ran out of time. Probably not, as she had to figure out which to do. She was just about to launch into Love Let Me Go when someone in the crowd changed her mind to the “Devil song.”
“Yes, the song is about me.” I think of it as a softer Lion.
She ends it with “I fuckin’ love you guys.”
Waited a long time for her, and even when she finally made it other people tried to cut in line or draw her away; guess my menacing snarl isn’t much good in the gloom at which they keep the lighting in this place. Finally got to playfully joust with her, forgot an air hug–virtual hug–this time and rushed to catch the subway, which came six minutes late anyway. At least the bus showed up in time, and I was entertained for far longer than I shoulda been while watching a young lady reading Sudoku for Dummies. . .

It occurs to me that the best $25 I ever spent was to see Daniela Ruah’s play. . . okay, it was $26.50, but that’s pretty cheap for a processing fee, dontcha think, Ticketmaster? Sad that it feels like the play was years ago. . .

Back in the Yoo Ess Ay. . . Yesterday
Why am I suddenly dreaming of Kate Beckensale as I wake up. . .?
As usual the shower ran long–no, not because of that–and I had to do a quick march to catch the bus, which I only made because of a timely red light. I really don’t like living this close to the edge. . . maybe a condo two blocks from the edge. . .
Hopped on the purple line, with all intention of getting off at Vermont as usual, especially when I saw an incredibly tall blonde there, but again, my stalker instincts at pretty nascent–or rather not born at all–so I stayed on to Western, thinking it was okay if I didn’t get a seat on the express because my destination was only two stops away. That was a mistake; the stop for the 20 has changed, so I didn’t have to cross street. . . which I only found out when the 20 zoomed by me. Had to cross back, and that cost me another 20–since when do they run so close together?–and another express. In all, I missed four buses and it made me late, and it was not helped by all the construction going on around Wilshire/La Brea.
On a brighter note, as always happens when I’ve got my player on alphabetical or shuffle, a song from tonight’s diva comes on–this time Riddle the Sphinx’s Shepherd’s Hill. I take that as a good luck sign, even though I’m not superstitious; I’m so complicated. . .
Finally there, I see plenty of people waiting for the La Brea bus. . . But by now I have to go to the restroom, and the only available place is Jack in the Box. Well, I have to admit the Oreo shake was divine, but I still missed the bus and ended up walking to 2nd Street–the cute blonde in the Trader Joe’s parking lot looking for signatures ignoring me, her loss–to finally get to Pix Cameras. So of course with all the crap that put me so late, the repair guy is out to lunch! He did come soon enough, so I left my digital camera with him and, since there was nowhere to sit and pass the time in the surprisingly small shop, I set my tired feet off to see what mischief I could find. Not much–La Brea and then Beverly were surprisingly high-toned for the neighborhood, no surprise there’s such a high turnover of these stores when they set such ridiculous prices. Found Blick’s Art Supplies, but looking through all the aisles only confirmed how overpriced everything is. . . plus Hall & Oates and Devo played on the overhead–thanks, I don’t feel old enough.
So of course by the time I went back for my camera it was far too late to catch the movie as I had programmed for the day. Luckily the La Brea bus turns east after heading north, right onto Hollywood Blvd, where I got off in front of the remodeled McDonald’s and as usual ignored Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Having crossed one street, I wait to cross the other while also ignoring the guy with the sign that read “Go Fuck Yourself!” Don’t know if he was going for humor or social satire, but considering how everyone ignored him, I don’t think he achieved his objective.
Now as I take the escalator into the Hollywood/Highland complex, the worst of all possible scenarios happens: the overhead plays “Call Me Maybe!” Arrrrrrgh! Immediately I had to go to the restroom again, but once I came out something far less annoying was on, so I retrace my steps to the Oakley store, where I instantly grab for a new pair of their Special Forces boots. Can’t believe I had my first pair for six years! No longer cost-efficient to keep repairing them, and I had a bonus from my last assignment, so yeah, plop down 200 bucks for hopefully another good six years. They didn’t have wide in the store, nor half sizes, and the laces feel horrible on the fingers, but it was still a good thirty dollars less than the previous pair, and they feel really good. The store, however, could do with some seating to try the shoes on; the pilot chairs from the ancient bomber just didn’t work. . .
Just as bad on the fingers was the straps of their bag, so I was muttering to myself a bit as I took the subway one stop to Vine station, then walked down that street to that McDonald’s–there are a lot more beggars than I remember. Tried to waste as much time as possible in the air conditioning, but soon enough I was back in the sun as I take the long way around–shoulda cut through the underground parking lot, dammit–to Arclight Hollywood, or maybe they still call it the Cinerama Dome. Just like Monday–last blog–I get there just in time for a long list of previews, though none of these were sci-fi like those others. Just as I’m realizing “Holy crap this is a giant screen!” on comes a preview for Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing! Oh lordy, it’s not enough seeing Nathan Fillion as that buffoon Dogberry, but Amy Acker is playing Beatrice! Couldn’t tell who’s playing Hero, but this might subconsciously explain why I was dreaming of Kate Beckinsale earlier. . .
And just as yummy was the licorice. . .
This time I’m watching Before Midnight, the third part of the “Before” series that will hopefully be more than trilogy. I had absolutely no idea this was being made or had been made until I saw a commercial a couple of days ago, but if they targeted me, good job advertisers! For those who don’t know, almost 20 years ago there was a movie called “Before Sunrise,” with Ethan Hawke and the always luminous Julie Delpy wandering around Vienna for one magical night. Nine years after that was “Before Sunset,” where they basically did the same thing through Paris. This time they’re in Greece, on vacation with his son from the previous marriage–mentioned often in the previous movie–as well as the most adorable little curly blonde bilingual twins you’ve ever seen.
The first scene is his son saying goodbye to catch his flight back to the US, but the second, in which our two main characters are in a car with the twins sleeping in the back, brings us right back to the two previous movies, with its ten-minute takes; I always wonder how they can memorize so much dialogue at once, then I remember live theater goes on a lot longer. . . duh.
A few highlights for me. I didn’t hear any reaction from the crowd, and no one in the reviews has mentioned it, but the main musical theme–shows up right away–is the guitar piece from the previous movie that Julie Delpy herself composed, the waltz Celine wrote for him. She’s an amazing dramatic actress, but at the long dinner scene she does such an amazing comedic turn, doing a bimbo blonde act that’s simply hilarious. A similar scene is when they’re in a thousand-year-old church and she’s talking about blowjobs; she does the sign of the cross or whatever those hand gestures are, then puts her hands together and licks the edges like. . . well, you know. Damn, that woman is so sexy. . . and then she’s actually nude! The other movies got R ratings for a few F-bombs–stupid puritanical censors–but this one earned it, showing her off as a classic French MILF. . .
Wow, that was a fast two hours! It takes another of these movies to remind me how amazing and luminous Julie Delpy is . . .
Having been seated for most of the last three hours didn’t seem to help much, as I’m still tired as I struggle back to Hollywood Blvd, where I just miss the Fairfax bus. Two expresses pass by in the other direction as I wait in front of a strip club and tobacco shop, but if that was an omen it wasn’t a good one, having to stand there with my back quickly hurting for half an hour, having to listen to the oddly comical doormen–1 black, 1 Latino–hustling guys to go inside while trying to be charming to any ladies. At one point the Latino went right up to a tall blonde–fake, plus heels–and put on some amazingly corny moves, to which he later pontificated, “You can tell a lot about a woman by how she shakes hands.”
Finally the bus came, though as always there’s a ton of traffic at Hollywood/Highland. The guy with the “Go fuck yourself!” sign is still there, but it’s interesting taking in the human zoo from an elevated perspective. For instance, walking through the crowd I got glimpses of the people dressed up as characters, scrounging for money by posing for photos. From the bus I saw them all, and definitely remember a brunette Supergirl, or just about the opposite of what the character calls for. And then there’s the guy from Reno 911 with the short shorts. . . ugh, brain scrubber, please.
Got off a block before Wilshire–traffic getting by CBS TV City and Farmers’ Market/Grove, of course–and right into Molly Malone’s sight of tonight’s show. Right at the bar I see the mom and sister of tonight’s diva buying drinks, so no loneliness in the dark for me this time.
But even once we got inside we had to wait through the opener, a very attractive brunette named Christy Lynn Arvin who at first reminded me of Meiko, then Danica McKellar. . . lookswise, I mean, she certainly didn’t have the vocal personality of Meiko as she started with covers. Don’t know if any of them were original, but her “American Idol contestant” voice didn’t keep me interested for long. Guess I heard it all before, far too many times. The only fun part was when she mentioned, “Something smells good” and I instantly murmured, “It’s not me.” Luckily she didn’t hear me.
Sprite and leftover licorice do not go well together. . .
On to the Riddler of the half pharaoh half-lion!
1 Keep On Walkin’
I think the only people here to see her are at our table; not sure there’s anyone else in the joint. Never seen her sister rock out so much; it’s both funny and endearing.
2 Judgment Day
Her sister’s fave, which is even funnier. Christo the drummer is breaking off pieces of drumstick, he’s smacking the skins so hard! But mostly he’s back to using his hands, at one point missing a cymbal; you can see it in his face. Then he uses only his thumb when he wanted a soft cymbal. . .
3 Never Marry an Old Man
Totally hate this song, but it’s great when she forgets a line and cackles wildly. She’s reminding me of Delpy. . .
4 Hey You
Brings it all the way down. . . then all the way up again; never seen that from her. And I still call her scat as the closest she’ll ever come to rapping. . .
5 My Bonnie (something)
Her hair is flying in every direction, again as wild as I’ve ever seen her.
6 Funhouse
Mr. Kilt requested on stage, so of course Sean runs up there; luckily the kilt isn’t loose. He drops his rattle in the middle of the song just like the kid he is.
7 What’s Under the Scotsman’s Kilt?
Self-explan.
8 Lullaby
Usually the closer, but “we’re calling an audible.” Chris using football terminology is so weird. . . Christo hits a cymbal on the upswing!
9 (no idea)
Clap along–actually Christo starts this–don’t know it, no idea, not a fun way to end it, but end it did.
So, it looks like having a long day as soon as you’re back from another continent, then another two days later, totally works for curing jet lag. . . at least until I got to the bus stop and couldn’t stop yawning. Damn. . .

;o)

Top 15 Songs of 2012

P.G. Wodehouse

To my daughter Leonora, without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time.

 

So. . . title is self-explanatory, right?

15. Halie LorenFeeling Good

As far as I’m concerned, Halie Loren is jazz.

14. Riddle the SphinxOne Man Band

A sad little paean which kicks up into rock ballad territory halfway. Showcases Christiane’s voice and pianowork, as well as Christo’s “world percussion.” He’s the only drummer I know who hits the cymbals with his hands.

13. Paulina LoganRoad in the Sky

Paulina is known for her sad songs of longing, but with the exception of “Shut the Door,” this is her hardest rockin’ tune, incredibly catchy as she sings about the “trip” she’s embarking on. . . and I’m gonna keep on going here just so I don’t end in a preposition.

12. Cindy AlexanderGrow Up

Not to take anything away from the verses, but Cindy’s strength has always been in the chorus–or as they call it now, the “hook”–and this song is another great example. The only other of my fave musicians who is such a master is Kari Kimmel.

11. Shannon CurtisBook of Fiction

If you subscribe to the theory of infinite universes predicated on every choice you make–or counter-factuals–this is the song for you. Still a love song, though; be warned. {Shannon is still giving away her entire new live album, at the link above.}

10. Scout SmithLoverboy

Everything you need to know about Scout’s voice and song-crafting ability is right here in this very heartfelt tune. Can get overly dramatic, but hopefully she’ll prune that as she leaves her teens.

9. Kat ParsonsLove Changes Everything

Kat-nip is the cutest little thing to hit the airwaves since. . . you get the picture. Whereas it was a bit incongruous to see that sweet face singing about her former lover on her last album, this song–and video–is so perfectly Kat. . .

8. Riddle the SphinxProfessional Pretender

After an unintentional laugh at the thought of a lawyer singing about a liar. . . I had no idea my buddy Christiane could craft such elaborate lyrics, or that she knew how much I love internal rhymes.

7. MeikoLeave the Lights On

If there’s anyone who could beat Kat-nip for the title of “cuteness personified,” Meiko is the challenger. Don’t remember how young she was when I first met her, when she was waitressing at Hotel Café, but I am in shock to find she’s in her 30s now, cuz she looks exactly the same. On the other hand, as much as I’ve loved her previous songs, this one shows her evolution as a crafter of fine tunes. One of the very rare songs I loved the first time I heard it.

6. Lindsey Yung—Hold

The music can get a little slow and ponderous, and Lindsey’s vocals go a bit drama queen–especially in complete contrast to her Scent of Summer–but in this case those qualities fit well with the lyrics and make the song what it is. {You can get a free download at her website—link is on her name.}

5. RushThe Wreckers

Sometimes it takes me 10 years to get into a Rush song; this one did the trick immediately. I supposed it helps that I understood what was going on in the lyrics right away, as well as the historical background of it. I specifically love the way Neil took a chance by making some of the verses with the same rhyme in all four lines, which is not easy.

4. Natalie GelmanLaugh So Hard You Cry

Speaking of emotional vocals! Natalie has a gift for converting real life into catchy tunes. Check out Streetlamp Musician and The Lion as well.

3. Riddle the SphinxSkies of Aleyeska

Five or six years ago I heard Christiane solo this song at a Borders, and never heard it again until this CD. You can almost transport yourself to the tiny island–Scotland or Ireland, I forget–although I imagine most women wouldn’t find it a compliment to have their blue eyes described as “glacier.” That fact, as well as having been on quite a few of those desolate islands, gives me a chill every time I hear this song.

2. Far Beyond FrailA Changed Man

Speaking of loving a song the first time. . . This duo has always been fantastic with music and vocals, but this time it’s the lyrics that shine the brightest. I can hear the anger and frustration in Sharilynn’s every note as she divests herself of the man she can no longer love. . .

1. Marina VRun

Vaguely stalkerish in the most catchy way; in fact, she almost makes the stalker seem sympathetic, especially if it’s her in the role. If you listen closely there’s a touch of wurly-like keyboard that lightens the tone a bit.

So this is the second time in three years that Marina V has taken the title of my fave song of the year. Wonder how she does it. . .

;o)

Non-Publicity Shot

One of my best friends is both a lawyer and a musician–her band is called Riddle the Sphinx, wrote about her in the Decompression entry–and I thought I had finally gotten the perfect shot of her, something she could use for her lawyer headshot, the costume only adding to it. . .
And then her daughter does. . . well, look for yourself.

1

;o)

Late with the Decompression

Back in October there was a huge festival in downtown El Lay billed as a Decompression party after Burning Man. Twenty bucks to get in, but considering how many times I’ve seen my friend Christiane in concert without getting a good shot of her, I figured I could shell it out. Yet even with an outdoor show I ran into trouble: the reflective bunting hanging from the top of the stage cast a leaf-shaped shadow across her face, at times making her look like she was wearing a Mardi Gras mask. Oh well, I managed. It helped that Burgundy the bassist was clear of shadows, as well as Chris’s husband Sean doing his comic/magic act after.

And then we crawled around the whole place for hours, the highlight being the 3-D tent; if you have the glasses, you can still the flower photo comin’ at ya. . .

!!272

Burg sees me. . . oh oh

!!248

The Angel Brigade

!!477

Probably the best shot I’ll ever get of her. . .

!!524

She won’t let me borrow her halo!

!!296 robot

I HOPE she’s doing the robot. . .

!!721

Sean marveling at his wife. . . I think

!!821-step into my lair

Step into my lair. . .

!!298-2

Burgundy on your shoulder much better than a parrot.

!!908--turning trix

Sean turning trix again. . .

!!1051

Sean needs to shave. . .

!!1007-shooting mandala

Chris shooting Burgundy’s. . . mandala

!!939

Now you see why Chris wears a halo. . .

!!1337

That girl scares me. . .

!!1222

Zaiden learning to salute. . . from Sean

!!1218

Ireland going for a mock plane ride. . .

!!1301

I can’t tell ya how much I loved the 3-D tent. . .

 

;o)