Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Little St. Nick Lowe, or (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Boughs of Holly?

ImageMy interest in Christmas music could not be described as casual, and I’ve long admired the songwriting of Nick Lowe, the onetime Jesus of Cool.

So his first — and probably last, but who can say? — holiday album, Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family, is pitched squarely at me. I talked to him about it for Sunday’s Washington Post.

Been a while since my byline showed up there. Nice to be back.

I Still Wish I Were Blind: The Often Terrible Album Covers of Bruce Springsteen, revisited.

HIGH-HOPES

That’s The Boss’s imminent album up there, all right. Over at NPR Monkey See this morning, I ask why it — like pretty much every album Springsteen has made in the last 30 years (except for The Ghost of Tom Joad) — must have such a terrible, awful, no good, inexpressive and irreducibly goddamn fugly cover.

I wrote a similar, much longer piece examining the covers of Springsteen’s entire official catalog five years ago, after the horrific cover of Working on a Dream leaked. Continue reading

More Plays About Gatherings and Food: (Half of) The Apple Family Plays, reviewed.

Ted van Griethuysen, Elizabeth Pierotti, Sarah Marshall, Kimberly Schraf, and Rick Foucheux inThat Hopey Changey Thing. (Photo: Teddy Wolff)

Ted van Griethuysen, Elizabeth Pierotti, Sarah Marshall, Kimberly Schraf, and Rick Foucheux in “That Hopey Changey Thing.” (Photo: Teddy Wolff)

The Studio Theatre is staging two of Richard Nelson‘s four Apple Family Plays, the last of which had its world premiere at the Public Theater in New York only last Friday, in repertory. The pair at Studio are That Hopey Change Thing and Sweet and Sad. My review of both is on Arts Desk now, and will show up in print in next week’s City Paper. Happy Thanksgiving.

(Invasion) Hit Parade: Elvis Costello at Lisner Auditorium, annotated.

Elvis Costello at Linser Auditorium, Friday, Nov. 22, 2013. Photo; Francis Chung.

Elvis Costello at Linser Auditorium, Friday, Nov. 22, 2013. Photo; Francis Chung.

Has it really been more than two years since I last saw Elvis Costello play and felt compelled to write footnotes, basically, on all the curiosities in the set? The calendar does not lie. I’ve seen Costello perform probably 20 times since 1999, but I’d never seen him do a headlining solo set, as he did Friday night at Lisner Auditorium.

Because no one demanded it, I posted some notes over at DCist, where it’s been so long that I don’t even have my own login anymore. The post features great photos by Francis Chung, who took the one above. For an overview of the concert, the great and good Dave McKenna captured it well in his Washington Post review.

Darkness on the Edge of Town: The Woman in Black, reviewed.

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I quite liked Keegan Theatre‘s production of Susan Hill and Stephen Mallatratt‘s ghost story The Woman in Black. No arts section in this week’s City Paper, so my review is web-only.

Kinky Reboots: Mies Julie and Bondage, reviewed.

Hilda Cronje and Bongile Mantsai in "Mies Julie."(Rodger Bosch)

Hilda Cronje and Bongile Mantsai in “Mies Julie.”(Rodger Bosch)

My reviews of Mies Julie, a South African August Strindberg update, and David Henry Hwang’s Bondage, from locals Pinky Swear Productions, are in today’s Washington City Paper.

It’s About Time Somebody Called Richard Curtis on This Shit

Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson in About Time. After holding this expression for three grueling months of shooting, both actors had to have their faces amputated.

Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson in “About Time.” After holding this expression for three grueling months of shooting, both actors had to have their faces amputated.

That’s disingenuous. Plenty of critics have called Richard Curtis on the way his new movie About Time cheats already. My take, which you can read on Monkey See now, is somewhat unique, I hope.

Backstory: I saw About Time on vacation in London Leicester Square about two months ago, several weeks before it opened here in the States. (Fancy!) With the exchange rate being what it is, two tickets cost me the equivalent of $50 — double the freight of a first-run movie here in Washington, DC. I would’ve been steamed to spend that much on a film I disliked. As I suspected I would, I enjoyed the film unabashedly, but I felt even guiltier for liking it than I’d felt for liking Curtis’s other sappy movies, but especially Love, Actually, which was particularly egregious. About Time‘s handling of its time-travel conceit was just so lazy and… unfair.

Continue reading