Wednesday, August 26, 2009

people live and then they die

the next great adventure: i move to nyc on sunday. manhattan, though i understand that the hippest of the hip hipster scene is totally in brooklyn. i'm getting there. tulsa to manhattan is already a major upgrade.

i have musical goals ahead of me, of course. i feel like my sxsw dirty projectors experience was kinda a bust, because the venue hit capacity and so me and my buddies stood in the unmonitored ladies restroom in order to sneakily catch the show. on top of that, i still never seen grizzly bear! and topping my list of groovy hispter brooklyn acts to see is here we go magic, of course. when i bought the here we go magic lp i thought, because it was so immediately appealing, that i would quickly grow bored of it. false. many months later, i'm still soaking up its beauty.

here we go i come.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

my data says i miss you so deeply

once upon a time, my favorite part of the day was my nightly shower, which was a relaxing ritual signaling the day’s end and approaching sleepy time. i went without those days for a long while. my tulsa apartment gave me two showering options: scotch yourself for 30 seconds, or enjoy a trickle of lukewarm water for 10 minutes. grudgingly, i opt for the latter. it’s an infinitely depressing routine.

in the glory days of my showering i would have time to daydream, sing a song, SHAVE MY FUCKING LEGS, or perhaps even nod off and have a sleep (for i can sleep anywhere, anytime, in any position including standing up). clearly these were privileges i did not deserve. but i treasured my showers so much that i would scorch my skin even when i was sick and feverish, pass out and bust my head open on the side of the tub, all naked and helpless and bleeding. i tried (unintentionally) to do this in the tulsa shower, but the water cooled just as my vision started getting dark (good thing, ironically).

every new shower that crosses my path since i moved into that apartment i overindulge in as my companion waits outside the door, perplexed and annoyed. “do you always take that long in the shower?”

well, in a dream world i would.

so now on the precipice, i wonder, the next shower in my life – what will it be like? better? worse? does it matter? yes, because this is a metaphor goddammit! though those shower tales are true; my tulsa shower sucked and i have scars on my head/face from where thin flesh met thick fiberglass.

p.s. my favorite song to sing in the shower is miho hatori’s “spirit of juliet”. it’s a lovely and [unintentionally?] very funny song. i dig her album, ecdysis, big time. it's a beautiful and very charming pop album and i listen to it frequently.

go to miho's myspace onegaishimasu!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

too many dicks on the dancefloor

i'm gonna load this up with pictures and videos, so beware. i went to a great live comedy/music show/concert. i feel bad if i ever subtly criticized flight of the conchords; they're great performers. i LOVED their tv show, but now i realize i love THEM. their comedic and musical performing personas are perfect, and perhaps work even better live than they do on television.

also, eugene mirman is a gift from jesus. thanx jesus.


please note: the loudly screaming lady is me. i ruined my own recording.

Monday, May 4, 2009

a short film series

“jennifer in japan curses at her camera for being on the wrong setting”

jennifer in nara park trying to take a picture of the five-tiered pagoda: “shit.”

jennifer at tsukiji fish market in tokyo trying to photograph some workers: “oh god damnit.”

thank you thank you, here’s where i take a bow and perhaps accept an award for my amazing artistic achievement in film.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

let’s eat carrots together, until…

here are a couple questions i’ve been long seeking to answer. first, is it possible for musical comedy/comedic music to be “more” than just jokes sung to generic chord patterns? second, is it possible for comedic music to not be totally and painfully dorky?

music + comedy: a match made in hell??

i don't usually make a point to discuss things i don't like, but i will say this: i grew up in a household that revered the work of mr. weird al yankovic. i was submerged in his specific 90’s mtv world, but i remained uninterested. obviously he's good if you dig that sorta thing. he manipulates JUST the lyrics of existing pop hits so the song can parody itself, or the genre in which it exists, or the pop culture in which it exists. pretty good but umm...super dorky in weird al's case.

but about that time björk entered my life! and her comedic songs are quality. she can take a great song, exaggerate it or re-contextualize it in a way that just makes it silly, or allows the style to become a parody. on top of that, her comedic lyric-writing is clever and cute. my favorite example is the song “i miss you”. it’s a great-sounding song that musically she pushed just a little over the top, making it just a little cartoonish. then, the lyrics are funny, cute, and relatable: “i miss you, but i haven’t met you yet.” i always grin when she desperately strains, “when will i get my cuddle??”

“where is the line” is another good one. björk’s original intention was to combine a cappella choir with heavy metal: a choral piece to which one could head-bang. youtube has cracked down on music videos like a motherfucker so i can’t find an album version to share (plus the music vid kinda sux! just an opinion of mine). the songs is 100% a capella: beatboxing! the lyrics are serious, everything else is exaggerated, you know? the song sounds TOO dark, and the beatboxing is silly, especially in its bizarre context. i love it. where is the line: one of björk's best musical achievements...?

instead, enjoy "who is it", also a groovy a cappella jam (on the album). the vid, for starters, is funny and also beautiful. but listen to the song for the "funny" sounds folded in. she describes them as humans imitating the sound of slot machines spewing coins. those sounds are present even in this awesome handbell version.

lastly, how about “declare independence”? there’s several layers of meaning to the song, and one of them is comedic. in this scenario, the speaker is telling a girlfriend who has been done wrong by her man to declare independence, don’t let them do that to you! björk has cited this interpretation as her original purpose for writing the song, and she thought it would be hilarious to speak to someone as though they were a country: “start your own currency, make your own stamp. protect your language!” all over-dramatic, the comforter trying way too hard.

after that i found cibo matto. i LOVE cibo matto. miho, one of favorite people ever, is a great and spunky vocalist, and the lyrics she sings are not just clever (which they are), but totally hilarious. the accompanying music is the best of the 90’s: pop, grunge, hip-hop. their songs speak for themselves.

you cannot beat this. GREAT SONG. “extra sugar, extra salt, extra oil and msg. SHUT UP AND EAT!” funny and badass.

also, i love
junior senior. the more i think about it, though, i’m not sure whether they intended to be so funny...doesn’t matter. LOVE THEM.

so those are a few “musicians who do comedy”. what about comedians who do music? certainly eric idle wrote truly excellent songs for monty python, perhaps the best of the best as far as “funny songs” go:

everyone knows them all, and they are GREAT. and a few besides the eric idle ones; i mean, the lumberjack song?? – will probably be a classic forever. but isn’t it as i said: great lyrics, cheesy setting? not to say that the cheesiness isn’t entirely intentional, that it doesn’t contribute to the funniness, but like i said: i’m looking for seriously groovy funny tunes.

i love the tv show flight of the conchords. i think the concept is loosely based on the idea that the show’s characters appear emotionless, almost robotic, and always clueless, and when confusion and bewilderment reach a peak, the characters use music as a way to suddenly express themselves in an extremely over-the-top, silly way. in the first season i enjoyed the deadpan dialogue exchanged between the band and their manager or between the band and arj barker/kristen schaal, but the songs made me cringe because they were so dorky. also, i felt that while the lyrics may be worth a laugh, the musical arrangements were not equally clever.

then the second season happened, and i appreciated the subtle change; less “funny” folk songs, more genre parody. the characters would use a genre instead of just “song” to express themselves, and the references were all over the place. the arrangements, actually, are extremely literal, and almost not over-the-top or cheesy at all (compared to the reference). what pushes it into parody IS the literalness (so literal and serious it becomes silly), and who's behind it, and WHY they're doing it.

bret, jemaine, and murray use west side story-style singing and dancing to battle their respective foes.

a parody of all cause-awareness-raising songs.

bret & jemaine use r. kelly- style r&b to discuss the excitement they feel over the new “romances” in their lives. and then to lament their mutual discovery.

(there's many more if you don't got that fancy hbo and haven't seen the new episodes. just peruse youtube!!)

what’s unfortunate is that, first of all, what makes the songs funny is how they sit in the context of the show, and even if the arrangements are clever, i still don’t want to listen to them on my mp3 player. secondly, they’re still SO DORKY. i understand, though, that the guys' awkward and uncool nature add a crucial comedic element to many of their songs. maybe i'll come around. i love the show so much i forked over $40 to see them live without even considering the fact that i don't love all their songs, and that murray won't, in fact, be involved. sigh. i'll report back post-concert.

björk and miho win. & junior senior, specifically junior cos he’s so cute and i like his new songs. who could’ve guessed? i’m so biased.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

rick-a tick-a tick tock tick tock tock

i adore michael ian black. i try to keep up with everything he does. i even stalk him on twitter, though i recently learned that the correct term is "follow". i would describe his comedic style as "highly offensive deadpan sarcasm with some silliness", but i'm no expert on describing things.

his blog is amazing but i can't keep up with it. if you glance through it, though, you'll see 2 very nice things: first of all, mtv is finally releasing the state on dvd, which features all the guys from stella and also several of the cops from reno 911 (i love that show, kind of a guilty pleasure); second of all, he's made a show with michael showalter (no david wain??) that will air on comedy central this summer.

i'm addicted to comeday central's shows, past and present: the aforementioned reno 911, stella (i'm bummed it didn't make it), sarah silverman's show, demetri martin's show, dave chappelle's show, my faves upright citizens brigade and STRANGERS WITH CANDY. what else? oh yeah, the fucking daily show and colbert report!! everything else on comedy central is kinda awful. except for some of the "comedy central presents..." stand-up specials. they used have an snl syndication thing going on; what happened to that? :( and just to further my ambivalence towards comedy central, they acquire idiocracy and let's go to prison (both of which i enjoyed, though they aren't class acts in the world of films), BUT they continue to air terrible eddie murphy movies from the 80's.

if you can't tell, i watch comedy central almost exclusively. with a little travel channel and bravo (for their variety of fashion-centric reality shows that feature tim gunn).

p.s. new stella

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

among dreams, we’re best friends

saturday i drove down to denton, texas with a buddy to see vivian girls and ariel pink’s haunted graffiti at hailey’s. i grew up in the dfw area and my sister happens to live in denton so it was a great trip for many reasons.

bought these vivian girls tshirts off the bass player at the table; she was adorable and friendly. i told her the tshirt was irresistibly clever, and she said, “thank you! waves hasn’t seen the design yet and we can’t wait for him to see it.” i felt confused and thought, “are we still talking about tshirts?” and drank my beer nonchalantly, hoping her perplexing comment would pass. when i woke the next day i looked at the shirt and noticed the two v’s in the middle of “vivvian”, a la the indie rock artist wavves. i dunno why i wasn’t getting it at the time. i had been satisfied with how funny all the z’s looked!

vivian’s girls set was great, very tight, if perhaps lacking a little aural contrast. but it’s just their aesthetic, and their lp sounds exactly the same: a wall of distorted guitar and deadpan harmonized vocals. it’s actually very appealing and somehow distinctive. i thought their stunt at the end was fun; one by one they seamlessly switched instruments. then a few dicks started trying to mosh in my personal space and i lost my temper, like the proverbial old man trying to get kids off his lawn.

i was BIG into ariel pink when i was a freshman in college. i remember playing songs off “the doldrums” and people saying, “quit that, it’s creeping me out.” after seeing him in live action (no pun intended), i’m still not sure i understand him. his recordings are strange, dreamy, and unsettling, while his live show seemed just a series of cool, engaging pop songs, the mystery lost with the fuzziness of the home recordings. in a way, i missed that “mysterious” element, but in a way i appreciated the veil being lifted off the songs, leaving no noise or silliness to distract you from the songwriting. i’m not sure if i prefer one version of ariel pink over the other.

enjoy more
vivian girls and ariel pink on their respective myspaces.