Sunday, July 25, 2004

Whew, busy weekend.

Friday night I saw Sting at Deer Creek. In an earlier post, waaaaay back in the blog, I made it well-known that I was fed up with Sting and his lite-rock shenanigans. His latest album was akin to listening to a Backstreet Boys record - all breezy love songs, many sung in duets with artists the kids dig but I know little about, like Mary J. Blige. This is the same Sting that once wrote "Message in a Bottle"? So I entered into the concert with little hope of enjoying it.

So imagine my surprise when I did.

See, he won me over early on. He opened with "Send Your Love", the first single from his latest album and, coincidentally, the only song on the disc with a pulse. Then he surprised the hell out of my by playing "Synchronicity II". He has retooled his backup band a bit and added some younger members, and the change has made him play harder than he has in years. "Synchronicity II" rocked, plain and simple. Of course, it's one of my favorite Police songs, so I'm a little biased. But to hear it when I didn't think I would and then for it to be as good as it was shocked me. The crowd didn't know what to make of it, though. They seemed to be there more for "Desert Rose" than this kind of stuff, which is what I wanted to hear.

After that he went into "Seven Days", an album cut from Ten Summoner's Tales, his best disc. Again, one of my favorites from that album and the live version had some kick to it. He had me.

Then he did a new song from the album. It wasn't bad, but the only thing I remember about it was it was anti-war. No Linda Ronstadt-style booing from the audience, though. Sting was a bit more subtle than she was, so he avoided people rioting.

After that, Annie Lennox - who opened the show - came out and sang "We'll Be Together" with him. She wasn't onstage when the song began and the only thing I could think was, "Why is Sting playing this song when he has publically stated that he can't stand it?" (I think he once compared it to a song you'd hear in a beer commercial.) The duet was fun, but, as the reviewer in the Star said, you could tell he didn't enjoy it.

After that the concert was pretty much what I expected: A mixture of new album tracks and the classics we all knew we'd hear. ("Roxanne", "Every Breath You Take", "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You", etc.) But he made my night with "Synchronicity II". So much so that I've been listening to that song - and the rest of the Synchronicity album - all weekend.

Annie Lennox was alright. She did a few Eurythmics cuts, which were the highpoint of the show. It was cool to hear "Missionary Man", one of their lesser-known hits. She also reworked "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" into a more rock-band driven song than a synth-driven one. But the rest of her show consisted of slow ballads that seemed to lull the audience - and me - to sleep.

Last night I went to the Madame Walker Theatre downtown to see Civic's production of Working. I knew two people in the cast - Liz and Marianne, who were courtesans in Forum - and they both did a great job. The show even included the James Taylor song "Traffic Jam", which I never thought I'd see it performed by a group of 18-21 year olds (this was Civic's youth production). They seemed to enjoy saying "damn" - a word that features heavily in that song - a bit too much. I could see parents in the audience cringe.

Today? Not much. I took care of all the chores yesterday before the show, so I didn't have anything scheduled. I did make it to the gym, where I attempted to do 45 minutes on the Stairmaster. I gave up at 30 because I was ready to collapse. I had no energy in me whatsoever. I did 15 minutes on the bike after that, but my legs were like jelly and I couldn't go very fast. But I did it, dammit.

I meant to mow the lawn today but the rain stopped me from doing that. Bummer, huh? Instead I took a nap.

Tonight I watched Bubba Ho-Tep. Silly movie, but a lot of fun. It takes the idea that Elvis switched places with an impersonator in the early 70's because he was tired of living a life of fame. So Elvis, now elderly, is spending the rest of his days in an old-age home, suffering from a broken hip. Well, a mummy invades the nursing home, sucking the soles of the residents to sustain life. Elvis, along with one of his friends, decides that he must destroy this creature. Bruce Campbell had a ball playing Elvis, and his infectious energy gives the film a kick. Yes, it was stupid, but it was worth seeing once, especially if you're an Elvis fan. (In other words, Val, rent it tonight.)

Not much on tap for this week. Life is now officially back to normal...

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Just got back from the Barenaked Ladies/Alanis Morissette concert at Deer Creek. Not a bad show, although they were exact opposites when it came to their stage presentations. BNL was their usual, chatty selves - for example, Ed, one of the singers and guitar players, spoke about his morning visit to the Indianapolis Zoo and the subsequent sunburn he received. Meanwhile, Alanis never said a word other than, "Thanks!" Other thoughts:

- It was the fourth time I've seen BNL and it was my least favorite show I've attended. Not that it was bad, just off. They worked against themselves by playing a bunch of album tracks for the first half of the concert, which in turn alienated the audience who knew nothing but the hits. It was kind of hard to get into the show when everyone on the lawn was paying more attention to each other than the band onstage.

- They did not do my favorite BNL tune, "Get In Line". I kept waiting, but it never came. But they did do some interesting choreography during "Shopping". It was like synchronized swimming, but with shopping carts. Funny stuff, and it made a truly awful song tolerable.

- They did an improv song about corn and its, um, recyclable abilities. It was funny until they moved onto peanuts.

- Alanis came out during their encore and sang "Call and Answer" with them. Definitely the highlight of their set.

- Alanis took the stage after a lengthy break in between acts. We in the audience were driven mad thanks to the 35 minute version of the Parliament/Funkadelic tune "Flashlight" that was playing on the P.A. in between sets. By the time she came everyone was rabid. Smart move on her part.

- She did all the hits in her short time onstage. I was disapointed with her timid version of "You Oughta Know". That song should seethe with resentment and contempt, but instead it just kind of was there. I think Alanis has moved on with her life (obviously, since she's marrying Van Wilder) and has gotten over the subject of the song long ago. Unfortunately for her, she has to perform it every time she takes the stage somewhere or the audience will revolt.

- Her band was fairly tight and into it, but they were a lot slicker than BNL. Not bad, just more professional. But BNL was looser and, consequently, more fun. Then again, I'm a BNL fan so I'm a little biased.

- The opening act, a woman named Nellie McKay, was truly one of the worst openers I've ever seen. The only way I can describe her is as if someone plucked a bad female singer-songwriter and her keyboard from 1983 and plucked her onstage tonight. She was awful, and she looked and sounded as if she just stepped out of a timewarp. Bizzare.

- Couldn't have asked for a better night. It was beautiful.

All in all, it was worth the $20 lawn ticket. And, yes, I will be seeing BNL if they come through town again. They're just too damn good to pass up.
OK, so I'm slacking on the blog. I know, I know. Empty promises were made to update and I failed. I'm a liar. A cheat. A scoundrel. It won't happen again.

Hey, I've been busy. For those of you who didn't know, I was in another show: The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940. It wasn't a musical, it was a murder-mystery, and I had a very large role. I was in nearly the entire thing, which means I had a lot of lines to learn. Oh, sure, I didn't update the blog during the entire process - again, I would come home every night around 11 and crash - but what do you want? I'm an actor now. The blog has to take a back seat.

I'm sure you're wondering who in the show was the killer. Since we closed last Saturday, I can tell you. It was me. I played Ken de la Maize, an egotistical theatre director who also happened to be the Stage Door Slasher. I got to run around on stage dressed in an overcoat while trying to kill people with a razor. I got to hold a gun to a young woman's head while I explained my diabolical plan. Unfortunately, I also got to be knocked out by the hero, who for some reason decided it would be best to hit me right in the spine with a full bottle of cognac our final two performances. I'm lucky I'm not paralyzed.

So, today. Not much to report. I spent the afternoon working on a coworker's printer settings. Everytime she logged on she zzzzzzzzz.... Sorry, that's a boring story, and it's not much fun to read, I'm sure. Believe me, it wasn't much fun working on it, either.

Tonight I saw Runaway Jury. The cover art on the DVD case and the DVD itself were photos of John Cusack running. It just seemed wrong, all those pictures of John Cusack running. He just doesn't look like a runner. I get it, it's called Runaway Jury, so someone has to run, but John Cusack? I think they should have put all twelve members of the jury on the cover, all running towards us with movement lines simulating their speed. After all, Senor Cusack was not the only member of the jury.

Nora Dunn was on the jury. Remember her? She used to be on Saturday Night Live in the early 90's. She's best known for two things: 1) Refusing to do the show when Andrew "Dice" Clay hosted because she thought he was a misogynistic pig, and 2) Not getting a single laugh during her entire tenure on the show. OK, that's not true, but I remember her being very unfunny. Yet she kept showing up in skits, taking plum roles away from the true talent in that cast, Jan Hooks. Maybe Jan Hooks should have been in Runaway Jury. Maybe Jan Hooks should be in something. She's funny! (Proof: Jan Hooks spoke one of the funniest lines in film history, "There's no basement in the Alamo!" For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, shame on you. Rent Pee-Wee's Big Adventure this evening, you slackers, for you're truly missing out on one of the funniest movies ever made.)

Jennifer Beals was also on the jury. Unfortunately, she didn't bust a move in the jury room, although her sweatshirt was oddly ripped on one shoulder. That Jennifer Beals. She's a maniac, maniac on the floor. And she's dancing like she's never danced before.

The title Runaway Jury implies some kind of disaster, like the jury's jumped their tracks and are heading directly for a schoolyard filled with kids unaware of the disaster that's about to strike. Quite the contrary - it was more about John "Better Off Dead" Cusack manipulating the jury for his own profit. It was also more interested in seeing Gene Hackman act all stern and cross and evil in his role as an outside jury manipulator. Hackman's character had this secret underground lair that was filled with computer screens with complex graphics that contained all this secret information on the jurors. These screens also made a lot of bleeping noises anytime someone focused their attention on them. It was all:

EVIL HACKMAN: Show me the information on John "One Crazy Summer" Cusack!
COMPUTER NERD: Here, look at this screen.

COMPUTER SCREEN: Bleep! Bleep! Boop! Bleep! Boop! Bleep!

EVIL HACKMAN: Yes, good. Soon I will take over the jury! Then the world! HA HA HA HA HA!!!!

Not one of those computers in Hackman's underground lair was running the Windows or Mac OS. And not one of them ever had this happen:

HACKMAN: Give me a printout of John "Sixteen Candles" Cusack's file!
COMPUTER NERD: Oh, give me a second, Evil Hackman. For some reason the computer didn't load my printers with my profile and I'll have to reinstall them. OK, I've reinstalled them. Now let me log off and log on to save the changes.

(TEN MINUTES GO BY BECAUSE WINDOWS XP IS ONE SLOW MOTHER.)

COMPUTER NERD: Nope, didn't take. I have to reinstall the printers again.

(ANOTHER TEN MINUTES GO BY.)

EVIL HACKMAN: I need that printout, Computer Nerd! I need to look over John "Journey of Natty Gann" Cusack's file and can't do it on these bleeping computers! The noise drives me nuts!
COMPUTER NERD: Finally, I was able to print it out. There you are, Evil Hackman.
EVIL HACKMAN: Ha ha ha ha ha! Now I can figure out many more convoluted ways to tamper with a jury! HA HA HA HA HA!!!!

All kidding aside, it wasn't that bad of a film and it did have a lot of great character actors in bit parts. (My favorite: Bruce McGill, D-Day from Animal House, played the judge. D-Day! As a judge!) I just kind of wished the jury ran more than they did, that's all.