Wednesday, March 15, 2006

'I'm an extraordinary machine'

» I downloaded a great contemporary pop song that WNYC's weekend guru Jonathan Schwartz has been playing a lot recently: "Extraordinary Machine" by Fiona Apple. It has almost an art song feel to it, and Schwartz always makes it a point of saying that Fiona is the sister of cabaret singer Maude Maggart.

» Also, a friend of mine turned me on to the music of Rilo Kiley, an indie band led by Jenny Lewis, a child actress who starred in Troop Beverly Hills and Foxfire. Some of my favorite songs are: "Portions for Foxes," "More Adventurous," "Accidntel Deth," and "Does He Love You?"

» Finished reading Black Hole, a Pantheon graphic novel by Charles Burns. I was pretty disappointed. The central plot line is that teenage stoners in '70s Seattle are accidentally passing around a sort of plague that affects each one of them in different ways. One girl grows a tail; one guy's face becomes disfigured; another grows a second mouth; another feels his skin come off in places. It's all very strange, and yet not as spine-tingling or scary as it probably should be. Also, the episodic way the story's put together and the way the main characters all seem to look so similar had me really confused about who was who and who was sick and who wasn't yet. There are some murders and dream sequences, but all of them seem to spend most of their time either drunk or high that you can't tell what's real and what's not. I wish I could say it were better, since I've had such good experiences with graphic novels recently — ones like Blankets by Craig Thompson, which was so gripping in its sweet, gentle, bittersweet way, and had me crying at certain moments.

» Also gripping: Kings and Queen, a French film that's been on my list since it was out in theaters. I'm only part of the way through (it's 2.5 hours long), but it's conveniently divided up into parts, so I'm taking an extended intermission after part one.

» Another recent download worth recommending: Idina Menzel singing the opening ("Kesa") from one of Michael John LaChiusa's recent musicals, the one I saw at the Public: See What I Wanna See.

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