Category Archives: wistfulness

Watch-day!

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I’m going to see Watchmen at midnight , and I can’t wait. Actually, that statement is demonstrably false, because I’ve been waiting for this movie ever since I read (retired?) DC Comics Publisher Jeanette Kahn’s “Direct Currents” column about a potential film adaptation of Watchmen back in the late 80s.

I was excited when I read in the long-defunct Fantagraphics-published fanzine Amazing Heroes that Sam Haam had written a screenplay that actually improved upon the one (arguable) flaw of Moore and Gibbons’ 12-issue maxi-series: it’s 1950’s The Day the Earth Stood Still-style denouement. (I hear that an alteration to the ending has survived all the subsequent drafts and years of development hell, though only the Writers’ Guild knows whether the finished film’s ending was Haam’s.)

I was excited when Terry Gilliam was going to direct it, even though his own revision of the screenplay purportedly sucked worse than the film version of Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. If anybody could get this thing onscreen intact, I figured, the guy who made Brazil could do it.

I was excited again, ten-plus years later, when Paul Greengrass was going to do it. (Though Cloverfield is probably a fair indication of what a Greengrass-shot Watchmen would have looked like.)

I was skeptical when I heard Zack Snyder, he of the-shot-by-shot adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300, had won the gig. I haven’t seen 300, but I gather it was mostly about a bunch of CGI-hardbodies wrestling in Matrix-like slow-motion. But when I read about the faithfulness and commitment with which Snyder was translating Moore and Gibbons’ sprawling masterpiece for the movies — keeping it set in alternate 1985, casting non-stars, allowing for a near-three-hour theatrical-cut run time (three-plus for DVD) and, crucially, an R-rating — I began to get excited again.

In about seven hours, I’ll be watching the movie. Sometime after that, though possibly not right away, I’ll know whether Snyder and screenwriter David Hayter succeeded. I’ve tried to avoid reading the mainstream critics’ notices, though I did weaken and read David Edelstein’s review in New York, which articulated nicely my reservations about Snyder.

I believe this much, though: Snyder tried — really tried — to make something great. Or at least to be faithful to something great.

Orson Welles, who made three brilliant films and many more failures, said it takes as much hard work to make a bad movie as it does to make a good one. But William Goldman, who’s had more commercial success than Welles but never improved upon The Princess Bride, said that most movies aren’t even meant to be any good.

Watchmen, I have faith, was meant to be good. And now, we’ll see.

Thoughts on Our Final Wire Intercept

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We’ll Not See Their Like Again: Freamon, Bunk, and McNulty say their goodbyes.

My girlfriend and I have spent about 3.5% of 2008 watching The Wire. Starting around new year, we voraciously consumed all 60 episodes. We watching the big finale last night, the evening of the 71st day of the year. So out of 1,704 hours of Double-Aught-Eight, we’ve spent 60 of ’em, give or take, in front of the tube. If you’ve ever seen this show, you’ll have no trouble understanding why: It sucks you in. And it’s so smart and honest and fully-realized, you don’t feel the least bit bad about allowing it to suck you in the way you do with, say, LOST or 24.

And now it’s all over. SPOILER WARNING: If you haven’t already watched the finale, etc., etc.

You had us a little scared for a while there, David Simon. What with only 10 episodes in this final season (the result of HBO brass telling you to “do more with less,” as the Baltimore Police and the Baltimore Sun staff are both repeatedly to do?), your plotting sometimes seemed hasty in a way it rarely had before. The final episode of any Wire season always features a kind of accelerated, jump-cut storytelling that’s the stock-in-trade of formulaic procedurals like the deathless Law & Order: Whatever the Fuck, and your final, 50%-extra-length episode was no exception. I know you would have loved to have shown us the conversation where the Sun brass demotes Gus Haynes to copy editor, for example. Still, though, you managed to pull it all together in satisfying, credible fashion. Cheers.

Who knew you could be such a softie? I mean, sure, Marlo gets away with everything, but still: Michael becomes Omar. Sydnor become McNulty. Daniels becomes Matlock. Herc becomes Michael Clayton.

I was sort of expecting a Sopranos non-ending redux, but then again, this sort of symmetry has always been part of the show. Overall, most satisfying.

This Is More Difficult than It Looks.

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Tougher on your hands, too. The photo above is from Hudson Beach, New York City, last weekend. The one below is from Santa Monica, Sept. 2003. Getting older, just so you know, does not make this any easier.

Still, I wish there were more of these things around.  There are only two in the country, apparently.  The ones I used to play on in Santa Monica are known locally as the “traveling rings,” while they’re “swing-a-rings” in NYC.

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It’s a Mann’s Mann’s Mann’s Mann’s World, cont.

aimee_mann__smilers_071223_h_2550.jpgPostscript from the big little Birchmere show.

Capsule review: Nice! Aimee was in better voice than she’d been at the Christmas show in December, although still having some troube, most noticeably during “Deathly,” the last song she sang. On the upside, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her smile as much during a performance as she did last night. A relaxed, happy performer is naturally more fun to watch than a nervous one.

As promised, she made up more than half the 19-song set on the fly from audience requests dropped in a bucket at the foot of the stage before the show. (No love for “The Fall of the World’s Great Optimist,” my request, though.) After she chose “Susan” as the first audience-request number, she told us, “Here’s the funny thing: I never remember my own songs. So part of the fun of this is going to be . . . well, I don’t know what about it is going to be fun for you at all.”

She also played eight songs from the upcoming Smilers album, including “Medicine Wheel,” which we heard here at the Birchmere a year and a half ago, “Columbus Ave.”, which she played at the 2006 Christmas show, and “31 Today,” which she performed at last year’s Christmas show. Conclusions: Um, she plays regularly at the Birchmere. And she’s not shy about playing stuff she has no plans to release for quite a while.

Bonus points: she dissed Coldplay when somebody asked for “The Scientist,” stating reasonably enough that since she couldn’t recall her own lyrics, she certainly wasn’t going to remember lyrics as “not necessarily overly erudite” as those. Oh, snap!

The setlist:

*denotes a tune frome Smiliers, the new album she said last night will probably be out in April.

01 (unidentified song from Smilers) Sample lyric: “You’ve got a lot of money but you can’t afford a freeway.”

02 31 Today*

03 Susan (lots of scat-singing, many forgotten lyrics, ultimately aborted)

04 Longshot

05 (unidentified song from Smilers) lyrical snatches: “You love me like a dollar bill,” “love doesn’t change a thing.” Nice change/change wordplay there, Ma’am.

06 4th of July

07 The Great Beyond*

08 The Other End of the Telescope

09 Little Tornado*

10 How Am I Different

11 Medicine Wheel*

12 Invisible Ink

13 Columbus Ave.*

14 Ray

15 It’s Not

16 Borrowing Time* (commissioned for and rejected from the Shrek III soundtrack, she said)
ENCORE:

17 Save Me

18 Wise Up

19 Deathly

The K of D

thekofd-kimberlygilbert-heron-by-stanbarouh-6036-1.jpgMy review of Woolly’s debut production of Laura Schellhardt’s  prismatic spook-story, brought vividly to life by Kimberly Gilbert (pictured) and director John Vreeke, is on DCist today.  Read it, then go see it.  I know what’s good for you.

Santa’s Big Olde Bag, opened

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?

Prologue: This is Christmas music! The first voice you hear is that of De’voreaux White as Argyle, the poontang-loving young limo driver who spent a memorable late-80s Christmas Eve locked in the parking garage beneath “Nakatomi Plaza” (actually the 20th Century Fox building) in Los Angeles. They made a movie about it, and that film is universally hailed as the greatest Christmas movie of all time. It’s called Under Siege. No, wait, it was Passenger 57. Um, Sudden Death? No, no, only kidding, merry-makers. It’s Die Hard, the once and future king of action pics.Once can only hope that IMDB is not an accurate reflection of De’voreaux’s recent career: His last screen credit is from eight years ago, in Shadow Hours. In the role of “Second Tranvestite.” Hey, remember when Ray Charles shot at a very young De’voreaux when he tried to pinch a guitar from Ray’s music shop in The Blues Brothers? That was awesome.

Santa’s Got a Big Old Bag. (The Bellrays, 2005) – Yep, Lisa Kekaula, that mic is on.

Ding! Dong! Death! (May Be Your Santa Claus!) (Sufjan Stevens, 2003; preacher recording found by Andy Cirzan, origin unknown) – A mash-up, albeit a very primitive one, of my own design. I started out with like, half-a-dozen pieces culled from Sufjan’s remarkable set of five Christmas EPs recorded each December from 2001 through 2005, and in June 2006. The latter is the one that includes “Christmas in July,” as well as “Jupiter Winter,” “Sister Winter,” and “The Winter Solstice,” most of each stand out as notably depressing even among this, whose five volumes comprise one of the most muted Christmas albums ever. Thanks for bringing us all down, Sufjan.

Save the Overtime (For Me). (Dees, Gallo, Knight, Knight, Schwarzenegger, 1983) – Surely the best of the Governator’s collaborations with Gladys Knight and the Pips. Squats are an excellent exercise.

I Don’t Intend to Spend Christmas Without You. (Margo Guryan, date unknown) – She’s a creepy broad, ain’t she? But tuneful.

Brian Wilson Reveals All. Behold the startingly revelatory, probingly incisive, revealingly probing, piercingly insightful secrets of Wilson’s creative process explicated here. Josh du Lac got some good stuff out of Wilson a few weeks back, like the fact that Phil Spector is “Zany!”

Melekalikimaka. (Al Jardine, Mike Love, 1974) – “’Melekalikimaka’ is ‘Merry Christmas’ in Hawaii talk-a.’” This kind of thing, really, is what this compilation is all about. A powerful argument that Jardine and Love were the real brain trust behind the Beach Boys.

Pearl Harbor Didn’t Work Out, So . . . (Steven E. DeSouza & Jeb Stuart, 1987) – I had a film studies textbook in college that claimed Die Hard was subtly, or perhaps unsubtly, racist, sexist, xenophobic and every other damn thing, just because it’s about a heroic white Reagan-voter who takes down a crew of slumming Royal Shakespeare Company types, including ballerina Alexander Gudanov and some American guy who looks eerily like Huey Lewis. The film supposedly espouses contempt for invading Japanese conglomerates, professional women who eschew their spouses’ last names (lots of stuff about that Rolex on Holly McClane/Gennaro’s wrist that Hans Gruber is hanging on at the end of the movie) and relegates not one but two black actors to sidekick roles. What an awesome movie.

Daddy Won’t Be Home Again for Christmas. (Merle Haggard, 1973) – This just in: Hag’s a shitty father. No clue here what’s keeping him away. Not prison, since he can write that “little check” that he’s hoping, puzzlingly, “will fit.” Is “forget” a really hard word to rhyme?

Sleazy Con Men in Red Suits. (Randy Kornfield) – Jingle All the Way is remembered as an epic, cautionary failure, but which I submit to you is not even among the five worst films released in 1996. Freed from its distracting visuals, the film’s audio, tastefully excerpted here, reveals a surprising profundity and even grace. Well played, Randy Kornfield, well played.

Christmas Present Blues. (Jimmy Webb, ?) – My prose is not worthy.

Snokenstein. (?) – The first of many, many treasures here that I appropriated from Andy Cirzan’s bizarro Christmas compilations as featured each year on Sound Opinions. Andy is on the show again this weekend, and I fully expect him to bring plenty of obscure wonders and oddities that you can bet will show up on my compilation next year.

A Great Big Sled. (Brandon Flowers, 2006) – Nobody will ever accuse Flowers of being a great lyricist, but I would have been delighted to have penned the line “little boys have action toys for brains” myself. I’m living proof it can last a long time. Way better than anything on Sam’s Town, the lyrically-impaired Killers album released a couple months prior to this.

The Ultimate Stretch. (Journey feat. Gov. Arnold Schwarzengger) – I just love hearing The Terminator talk over that opening vamp of “Don’t Stop Believing.” I guess we’ll never know whether Tony Soprano finished all 30 of the pushups.

Reindeer Roll Call. (Kornfield) – Listen to how Arnold is just mercilessly taunting Sinbad as he outruns him. “I’m having a good time now,’bye!” If you’ve seen Pumping Iron, then you know that workaholic salesman Howard Langston is probably the role truest to Arnold’s real-life personality, especially once his competitive juices get flowing. Jingle All the Way really does require repeat viewings to fully absorb its many insights into the Gubernatorial mind.

. . . and many, many more!

Merry Christmas, Friends! Time to kick it weird-school.

santas-got-a-big-olde-bag-front.jpgHo ho ho, music lovers! Santa’s Got a Big Olde Bag, my 2007 Christmas compilation, is now yours for the asking.   And you need these sounds in your yule-life.

But don’t take my word for it! J. Freedom du Lac, esteemed Washington Post pop music critic, had this to say in the Dec. 18 edition of his wildly popular and influential “Freedom Rock” webchat:

Richmond, Va.: Hey, J. Free — what is your favorite Christmas record? One of my friends made me a mix CD this year, and I can’t get enough of Ben Folds’ “Bizarre Christmas Incident.” That song doesn’t get played on 24/7 Xmas radio.

J. Freedom du Lac: My new favorite? “Santa’s Got a Big Olde Bag: Yuletide Times Eclectic and Inexplicable,” compiled/curated by our very own Chris Klimek. He gave me a copy last night, at the Aimee Mann show. (You know, the one Michael Chertoff also attended. Who knew he was a Nelly McKay fan?!)The album is a wild, wild ride: It opens with audio from “Die Hard” (you know, where the limo driver is listening to “Christmas in Hollis”), then goes to the Bellrays/”Santa’s Got a Big Old Bag,” then Sufjan’s “Ding Dong! Death! (May Be Your Santa Claus),” then Marah’s “New York Is A Christmas Kind of Town” and (this is ripe) Arnold Schwarzenegger doing a workout video over “Warming Up” by Gladys and the Pips! LOL. And on and on it goes. Great stuff. You should sign up for Klimek’s CD-of-the-Year club.

There you have it, Friends — a ringing endorsement from a bona-fide expert.

Liner notes below!

VERILY, a manifesto.We all have our favorite versions of the traditional Christmas warhorses. Actually, recent research suggests that many listeners hate, hate these fucking things. I yield to no man in my abiding affection for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s 1975 performance of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” recorded live at C. W. Post College, and I only just came across a marvelous 1978 version of Keith Richards doing Chuck Berry’s “Run Run Rudolph” – it was released as single back then, Keef’s first. Then it went out of print.

No matter; you’ll find neither of them here. Tracks like that aren’t what this compilation is about. No, gentle listener! Here we turn our rapacious gaze mainly, albeit not exclusively, to seasonal melodies, films and ephemera that have not stood the proverbial test of time. Some of them haven’t been around long enough to take the test; some are too obscure even to have been summoned to the testing site; a few may have taken the test and flunked. All are glorious and honorable. Even Jingle All the Way, which puzzingly is remembered as an epic, cautionary failure, but which I submit to you is not even among the five worst films released in 1996. Freed from its distracting visuals, the film’s audio, tastefully excerpted here, reveals a surprising profundity and even grace.

2.5 TRACKS FOR EACH OF THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS! YOU CAN’T AFFORD NOT TO LISTEN!

Four Words About Sound Quality: All over the map. Much of this material I took from CD, manipulated in Apple Lossless Audio Format, and compressed only once, so it ought to sound stellar. Then there’s the stuff that was digitized from an ancient vinyl saucer and probably compressed two or three times before I got my hands on it. And plenty of stuff in between. I trust you will share my judgment that the content of the muddy-sounding tracks fairly demands their inclusion here, and forgive the pops, tics, crackle, and hiss. That’s the sound of authenticity you hear, Kids. – Mgmt.

This Just in: Dude Likes Chick, Chick Music, Ireland

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When the Swell Season — essentially Frames frontman Glen Hansard and Czech songstress Markéta Irglová— played U Street’s beautiful Lincoln Theatre last December, they nearly upstaged headliner Damien Rice. But returning to the Lincoln Sunday night, the Swell Season were deservedly the main attraction, riding a wave from the sleeper hit movie Once, wherein Hansard and Irglová basically play less famous versions of themselves, falling in love (kind of) as they wander Dublin composing songs together.

The movie and the duo’s songs share a bittersweet hue, but Sunday’s concert was purely celebratory. Performing in various configurations — Hansard solo, Hansard/ Irglová duo, and as a five-piece with cellist Bertrand Galen, violinist Marja Tuhkanan, and Frames fiddler Colm MacConlomaire — the ensemble conjured up forceful-yet-intimate readings of songs from the Swell Season’s sole album and the Once soundtrack, Frames favorites, and well-chosen covers of songs by Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, and, um, Michelle Shocked. (Don’t snicker. The rave-up of Shocked’s “Fogtown” that closed the main set was one of the evening’s highlights.)

But the lovesick ballads featured prominently in Once — “Falling Slowly,” “When Your Mind’s Made Up,” and the title track —drew the biggest cheers from a rapt audience that mostly stayed quiet enough during the performances let these haunting, fragile compositions resonate.

Onstage as onscreen, Hansard and Irglová’s chemistry is palpable. He’s a furry-faced motormouth who can’t introduce a song without revising himself three times; she’s a no-nonsense siren whose voice ends all debate. But whenever Hansard indulged his cutesy tendencies — joining, for example, the already treacly Frames number “Star Star” with “Pure Imagination” from that deathless “Willy Wonka” movie — you knew the 19-year-old Irglová would have the next song, using her “If You Want Me” to pull the 37-year-old Hansard back from the twee abyss.

Truly, theirs is a match made in Heaven. Okay, Ireland. On this night, it was close enough.

A truncated version of this review appears in today’s Paper of Record.

“Welcome to the Andy Summers Show!”

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The King of Pain gets some impressive hang time in this band-approved publicity shot not from the Phone Booth show here in DC.

. . . howled Sting, ageless, serene, and in perfect (if lower) voice at Verizon Center Monday night, altering the original “So Lonely” lyric (“welcome to this one man show”) to salute the Police’s prodigious guitarist. Now a determined egalitarian, he did the same for percussionist Stewart Copeland on a subsequent verse.

Retired schoolteacher Gordon Sumner’s newfound magnanimity is the major difference between the Police circa nineteen-eighty-whenever and the Police v. 2007. Having made at least three albums as a solo artist that are arguably the equal of anything he did with his old band, Sting is willing, nay, eager to cede the spotlight to his two mates, granting the 64-year-old Summers, in particular, License to Shred in way he never did during the Reagan Era.

Fortunately, Summers is not just a brilliant axe man but a disciplined minimalist, never allowing the crunchy, angular fills he contributed to “When the World Is Running Down” or “Driven to Tears” more sonic real estate than necessary to achieve maximum sweetass yield. And while Sting did what little talking there was in the 100-minute show, Summers appeared to call the shots, bringing “De Do Do, De Da Da” to a halt with a two-handed “cut” sign just as it threatened to congeal into Christopher Cross territory.

Copeland, too, was agreeably unleashed, leaping between a drum kit and a sort of cage made of seemingly every device ever designed to make a melodic sound when struck with a blunt object, tossing his sticks (or mallets) over both shoulders every time he bolted between stations. He made “Wrapped Around Your Finger” a spooky tour-de-force. His bulging eyes framed by big glasses, a headband, and a headset mic, the Alexandria native needed only a dental retainer to complete the picture of a geek done good. But you couldn’t doubt the rock. You could, however, wonder why Sting kept inviting the audience to mess with his dense polyrhythms by clapping. Less passivity with your aggression, please, Mr. Sumner!

The setlist was a rewind of their headlining Virgin Festival appearance last August, Sting’s banter included, save for a welcome pair of additions from the earlier, crankier end of their catalogue, “Hole in My Life” and “Truth Hits Everybody.” Sting introduced the latter as “a song from our second album, from 1875.” King of Pain? King of self-deprecating laffs, more like!

Was it better than their enervated V-Fest set? Uh-huh. Do we say so because this one wasn’t preceded by a 10-hour stand-a-thon in skin-melting heat? Er, maybe.

A shorter version of this review appears in today’s Washington Post.

Soul’s Deepest Secret? Cool.

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Bettye LaVette at Wolf Trap on Halloween night. Even better than it sounds. Even better than, um, 95 percent of the concerts I’ve seen since — gosh, it was just really, really good!

Read all about it in today’s Paper of Record.

Setlist:

01 The Stealer
02 Still Want to Be Your Baby (Take Me Like I Am)
03 Choices
04 Joy
05 Jealousy
06 Down to Zero
07 The Call It Love
08 I Guess We Shouldn’t Talk About That Now
09 My Man – He’s a Loving Man
10 You Don’t Know Me at All
11 Talking Old Soldiers
12 Right in the Middle of It (Falling in Love)*
13 Close as I’ll Get to Heaven
14 Before the Money Came (The Battle of Bettye LaVette)

ENCORE
15 Sleep to Dream
16 I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (a cappella, no mic, incredible)

*I’m not entirely sure about the title on this one.

Is there an Ottawa Turnpike?

Why yes, that is Win Butler and Regine Chassagne of Arcade Fire up there with the Boss. They were invited onstage during the encore portion of Bruce and the E Street Band’s gig in Ottawa, Ontario Sunday night, first performing Bruce’s “State Tropper” (first video below) and then their own “Keep the Car Running” with the help of the E Street Band (second video.)

Bruce Stringsteen and Arcade Fire – State trooper
Uploaded by trendwhore

Wow.

Wow.

I’m going to both Bruce/E Street shows here in Our Nation’s Capitol next month. The last time I saw them play here in DC was in August 1999, when the special guests who showed up during the encore were Bruce Hornsby, Jackson Browne, and Bonnie Raitt. Nothing wrong with any of them, I guess, but nowhere near as exciting as this. I mean, just listen to that guy! (Not Bruce or Win; the guy holding the camera, or standing next to him. Apoplexy time.)

Bruce Stringsteen and Arcade Fire – Keep the car running
Uploaded by trendwhore

Invert, I Say, Invert that Pyramid, Son

It makes your work easier to pare down to fit in the Paper of Record.

ritter.jpgThe Springsteen comparisons are legit; Idaho neo-folkie Josh Ritter is the real deal. But whereas the Boss can’t produce a note without squeezing his face into mask of constipated anguish, Ritter can’t sing without smiling. Or so it seemed at the 9:30 Club Tuesday night, where a literally hopping-glad Ritter jumped, jived, and wailed his hyperactive way through a buoyant 20-song, 100-minute set. “This is going to be really, really fun!” he sqeaked early on. Dylanesque? More like Elmo-esque — but he wasn’t wrong.

Opening with “Moons,” a 51-second epic from his new The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, Ritter slammed straight into a double-timed “The Dogs or Whoever.” By the time “Wolves” careened seamlessly into “Rumors,” Ritter and the four players sharing his stage (there was also a horn section that came and went as required) had proven themselves a band rather than a cast of session players surrounding a freshly-anointed star. Rough-hewn, ramshackle barn-burners would alternate with delicate acoustic performances all night. On the latter, Ritter’s command of the crowd was so assured you could actually hear receipt-printers chirping annoyingly from behind the bars.

Cuts from the new album and 2006’s The Animal Years dominated, though earlier concert staples “Harrisburg,” “Kathleen,” and the set-closing “Lawrence, KS” all elicited lyric-mouthing reverence from the die-hardest segment of the audience.

There were snags: “The Temptation of Adam,” a tale of blooming pre-apocalyptic romance, was a bit too fragile for Ritter to negotiate after 45 minutes of loud, loose rock and roll. “Girl in the War,” too, disappointed in a leaden, big-rawk arrangement ill-suited to the song’s inclusive humanity. But things got back on track quick when the horns returned to lend “Right Moves” and “Real Long Distance” a quality of celebration.

Ritter also demonstrated he shares Springsteen’s penchant from eras past for rambling anecdotes that are sometimes poignant but just as often silly, like the potato story (!) that preceded “Temptation.” Better was the atmospheric recollection of his high school paper route that gave way to a haunting solo version of Springsteen’s “The River.” The busted-strings rave-up of “Next to the Last Romantic” (featuring openers Old School Freight Train) that followed sent everyone home wearing beatific grins that seem destined to be called Ritter-esque.

Judgment Day Plus Ten

Or “judgement” day, but I’m going with the spelling used by the producers of the Greatest Film of All Time, which of course I don’t need to tell you is James Cameron’s 1991 apocalypse-contraception epic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

In 1992, I got my driver’s license and French-kissed a girl for the first time. But the highlight of 1991, the year of Achtung Baby and Use Your Illusion I and II (I wouldn’t buy Ten for a year, or Nevermind for several more after that), was definitely T2. It was the first film for which I bought the screenplay. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve re-purchased the film each time a new VHS or DVD edition was released.

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August 29, 1997 is the day that film told us half of the human race, give or take a few million, would perish in a nuclear exchange instigated by SkyNet, the artificial intelligence network entrusted with all the assets of the U.S. military. When SkyNet unexpectedly becomes self-aware, it decides that its human masters are a threat and takes preemptive action. You’ve all seen the movie. The 2003 release Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, revises the date of Judgment Day for obvious reasons, having an aging Arnold tell us, “Judgment Day is inevitable” and actually letting us see the beginnings of it in a surprise downer ending. But T3, although a decent-ish genre flick if not compared to its two brilliant precursors, was neither written nor directed by James Cameron, the auteur behind the first two, so it ain’t part of the canon as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway. We’ve lasted another ten years. Congratulations, everybody! Does that mean Michael Jackson is 50 today?

Sustainable Community

Well, this is a bit odd. But only a bit.

I’m writing this from my old office in the house I lived in in glorious Ventura, CA from late 2000 until early 2005. This is day four of my first return visit to the Golden State since I moved to the District two years ago. I saw my ex, with whom I remain on friendly terms, for the first time in two years last night — she made dinner — and we’ll be hanging out together with some mutual friends this evening and tomorrow.

I shared a Studio City apartment with two really cool people with whom I’ve lost touch for about five sad months in mid-2005, but for most of my California experience, I lived in this town, in this house. Ventura is so beautiful it’s a little bit heartbreaking to come back and realize I gave this place up. I had good reasons for moving, and the two years I’ve lived in DC have been the two happiest of my life. But still.

When I came to Ventura, I had just turned 24, and the place (and of course, the relationship that brought me here) seemed full of promise. Two years later, it’s exactly as I left it. All the stores and restaurants I remember are still here . . .

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. . . including a few whose survival I never understood . . .

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. . . and most significantly, the original, non-News Corp.-affiliated Kwiki Mart!

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Salzer’s, my favorite record store (with apologies to Amoeba, which surely has a more wide-ranging selection but to which I never developed a sentimental attachment) remains. When I stopped in yesterday afternoon, Frank remembered my face, though I think he had to get my name off my credit card. I asked if he still had his band, and he told me they would be playing tomorrow night at a new bar that’s opened up since I left, a place downtown called It’s All Good. (Their booker must have better taste than whoever chose the name, I guess.)

Since I haven’t really found an indie record shop to favor with my commerce in DC, I was eager to drop some cash at Salzer’s. I got the new Rilo Kiley CD, Under the Blacklight, which came with a free vinyl single. (Not only does Salzer’s regularly beat chains like Borders on price, even if you’ve let your KCRW membership — usually good for $2 off every CD you buy — lapse; they also give you freebies like singles and posters. What’s not to love?) Also, since I’m catching up on Spoon and the New Pornographers, I got a pair of catalogue titles; Gimme Fiction and Electric Version, respectively, along with A Year in the Wilderness, John Doe’s new solo record, featuring, appropriately enough “The Golden State.”

Anyway, I went to my old house after that, greeted my old cat, and set out to run one of my old routes.

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With it’s moderate temperatures, low humidity, varied terrain, sparse traffic, and of course, its beauty, Ventura is a runner’s paradise. It’s more known as a surfer’s paradise, of course, but I never quite got the hang of that.

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After running all summer in the heavy, humid DC air, to run in a place where I can actually stand to wear a shirt comes as a shock to the system.

I carried my camera in my bottle-belt and took these shots while I was out puffing along.

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Anyway, after dinner and a catch-up visit with the ex last night, I went back down to Los Angeles, where I’m staying with my beloved professor from the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting, and her two dogs. Today I’m back up in V-Town at least until tomorrow night.

Earlier this afternoon, I was tooling around downtown. Like I said, it’s all exactly as I remember it. Which shouldn’t be strange, but given how quickly Columbia Heights, where I live now, is changing, and how constant the change in Chantilly, VA, where I grew up has been, it’s odd — and comforting — to find some continuity.

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I happened to be walking by the post office earlier, and I thought I’d stop in to get another look at the WPA mural I remember. Since I was already there, I figured I should ask if they have the new Marvel Super-Heroes stamps. I recognized two of the four postal clerks working the counter. And when I asked for the super-hero stamps, one of them remembered me. Specifically, she recalled that I was the guy who never wanted to use a meter strip to send a package if I could decorate the box with dozens of stamps instead. Nice.

Tomorrow I’m going to try to get to Sylva’s, which has relocated since I was a member, and Ralph’s Comic Corner. Viva Ventura.