Thursday, April 30, 2009

Vienna Teng

Last night, I had the great pleasure of seeing Vienna Teng in concert.

Last week, I had no idea who she was. I was encouraged to go see her by a friend (thanks Ryan!) who told me she was swinging by a club in L.A.

I checked her out on youtube and this is what I found.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8nypWKa_aU

Her voice sold me. She's also young and beautiful so I went to the next step and clicked on the ticketmaster link to get some tickets.

$16 a ticket.

But it wasn't really $16. it was $16 plus $9 tacked on for processing fees.

CAN I TELL YOU HOW MUCH I HATE TICKETMASTER?

There is no way that a $16 ticket should have that much of a surcharge. The funniest thing about it is that they CHARGE you to print out your tickets at home. If you do will-call (which I did) there is no fee. How backward is that?

So for two tickets, it cost $50. It still wasn't bad considering the venue is the famed Roxy on the sunset strip and the audience was getting three acts.

I've never been to the Roxy before so it was quite a surprise to see how small and dark it was. That's a good thing though. It allows the audience to get right up close and personal with the performers. There are some tables in the back but if you're serious about the whole experience, it's best to be right up at the stage.

The first act was Paper Raincoat. Their music was very enjoyable. It seemed a little eclectic to me. Couldn't quite pin down their style and maybe that's what they wanted. They even did a great a capella number. Amber, the female part of the duo, looked like she was having a great time. Made me want to be up there slapping my chest and singing too.

The next act was Ben Sollee. When he first started on his cello, I thought WHAT IN THE HECK? I didn't think I was coming to a classical concert but then he started singing and getting down with his instrument and I was pretty amazed.

You should check out his myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/bensollee.

This guy is incredibly talented. Very peaceful, folk influenced melodies. Made me think of endless summer days spent daydreaming down by a bubbling Kentucky creek. Yeah, I know that's weird but I can't control what my brain thinks.

And finally, around 10 o' clock, Vienna arrived. Even though my feet were starting to ache by this point (I had been standing since 7:30), I forgot all about my discomfort when she started singing. She is a beautiful performer and her voice has a soaring range. My favorite songs were Gravity, Blue Caravan and a song about her grandmother (?) which seemed a little on the rockabilly side. The enthusiastic audience soaked up her talent and she stayed on the stage for an hour, which included one encore.

If you're not familiar with these artists, I'm going to pass on the tip which was passed on to me.

GO SEE THEM.

You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tales of the weird

I woke up this morning in the middle of singing a Janis Joplin song. The one about the Mercedes Benz.

What does this mean?

I'm definitely concerned.

I talk in my sleep but this is ridiculous.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

TOWELHEAD

There is really something wonderful about watching a movie that exceeds your expectations.

Yesterday, I had a hell of a day at work. Difficult cases, busy schedule, ten minute lunch and a very sad euthanasia made me a little grumpy and a lot tired. I decided that I would relax the night away by watching the next movie on my Netflix queue as soon as I got home.

The next movie happened to be TOWELHEAD. I had NO idea why I had selected this movie to be part of my queue. Nobody had recommended it to me. It hadn’t just come out on DVD. I didn’t even remember reading a review about it in any one of the entertainment magazines or websites that I breeze through.

I picked up the DVD sleeve and read the description. Apparently it was a “coming of age” story about a young Middle Eastern girl in America. Then I really started wondering. Why in the hell did I pick this?? I figured there must have been some sort of reason so I slipped it into the DVD player and sunk into the couch.

“Ten minutes,” I thought. “You have ten minutes to impress me or I’m making dinner and going to bed early."

TWO HOURS LATER, I was still lying on the couch, dressed in my work clothes and wearing my work shoes. I had not moved since the start of the movie. I was even still awake. The movie was that good.

TOWELHEAD tells the story of a thirteen year old girl of Lebanese descent who moves in with her divorced father after the mother catches her boyfriend shaving the girl’s abundant pubic hair. Being shy and awkward and with the skin color of a minority, the girl has a difficult time adjusting to life in a small Texas town. Her father is certainly not supportive; he abuses her mentally and physically. Her middle-aged neighbor seems nice at first but then he abuses her sexually. Her only safe-zone is the house of a pregnant woman and her boyfriend where she is allowed to read a book about female anatomy and what happens to people when they have sex with you against your will.

If you are recoiling in horror at the thought of watching this movie, you aren’t alone. The worldwide gross for this movie was an appalling $500,000. The critics weren’t even fans. Roger Ebert wrote, “The tone is all wrong for a story of child sexuality and had me cringing in my seat. It either has to be a tragedy or some kind of dark comedy like Kubrick's brilliant "Lolita," but here it is simply awkward, embarrassing and painful.”

I think any movie that deals with the developing sexuality of a thirteen year old girl SHOULD be awkward, embarrassing and painful. I also think TOWELHEAD should be viewed as a very dark comedy; otherwise the viewer might look at it as a very disturbing drama and many of the scenes would be extremely difficult to watch.

As the credits rolled, I figured out the reason why I wanted to watch this movie. The writer, director and producer was Alan Ball, the guy responsible for American Beauty and the tv show Six Feet Under. I am a big fan of his work and I’m glad that he has taken suburban dysfunction to a whole new level in TOWELHEAD.

Check it out. It’s not for all tastes so consider yourself warned.

I give it three and a half stars out of four.

Thanks Alan!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dangerous things to do in Los Angeles

Holding a one-eyed Pekingese on your lap while sitting in the passenger's seat and trying to film him is NOT a good idea, especially when the Pekingese is demented and crazy and won't sit still!!

Especially especially while driving along the 405 highway!

video

I'm happy to report that everyone survived this road trip.

Phew!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Trip to the Zoo

I have mixed feelings about going to a zoo.

Yeah, it's great to see some animals that I would never see otherwise but some of the animals look so damn bored and depressed in their enclosures. I know the animal keepers try hard to achieve "environmental enrichment" but when the animals are adapted to the wide open grasslands of Africa, a large pen surrounded by a moat isn't going to feel like home.

But I live very close by to the L.A. zoo and I was curious to find out how this zoo stacked up with the others that I have visited (San Diego, Miami, Toronto and um, the Las Vegas disaster).

It was cold today. Mid sixties. I was thankful I was wearing a sweater. I guess my Canadian blood has become a little thin.

The entrance fee was a very decent $12.

Zebras are really cool looking animals. They look like living optical illusions.


Pelicans. I've seen enough of them in the wild so they weren't very exciting.

This was the saddest looking orangutan. I watched him for a couple of minutes and all he did was shift his eyes, not caring in the least about my presence.

It may be a little anthropomorphic to say that he was bored but that's exactly what he looked like.

Doesn't everyone love a meerkat? As the sign pointed out, a meerkat is not a cat but a member of the mongoose family. Learn something new every day.

Some big thing with horns.

Pink Flamingos is a great film made by John Waters starring the one and only Divine. If you haven't seen it, you should check it out.

But don't blame me if you don't like it. For open minded viewers only!

This was some sort of gazelle or antelope or deer or something. I'm sure a lion would find them very tasty.

The chimps had a large exhibit.

I'm no longer a fan after the recent attack on an old lady. She lost her face, including her jaw.

A couple of years ago, a chimp attacked a man and he lost his testicles.

I'm really not sure which would hurt more. Losing your jaw or your testicles. These are the questions that keep me up at night.

After a couple of hours, it was time to pack it in. Overall, it was a pretty good experience. There weren't any MUST SEE animals like a giant panda or (one of my favorites) a hippo but there was enough to keep me interested.

And the animals seemed to have a decent amount of space, depending on their needs.

I give it a B+.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Just random thoughts to fill up the blog

Don’t get see Observe and Report with Seth Rogen unless you like the idea of turning Taxi Driver into a comedy.

Skype is pretty darn cool. For $3 a month, I can call unlimited to the US and Canada. Hello mom and dad!

Facebook just proves that none of us lead exciting lives. Blogs are a way of making us feel more important than what we are.

If anyone wants to see Chris Cornell in concert, just email me.

I think I’ve missed a whole season of The Office. I have no idea why Ryan dyed his hair and works in a bowling alley and why Michael started his own paper company with Pam.

Judge Judy should never smile. It just looks unnatural and scary. Why do I know this?

A revival of Hair is playing on Broadway. It better stick around till I can get enough money together to go see it.

When do you think CDs will disappear? Two years?

It feels weird to drink a Corona and not be somewhere tropical and sweaty.

I have to euthanize an old dog at its home in Beverly Hills tomorrow. I don’t know the owner or the dog. You have no idea how much I am dreading this.

I’m not working on Easter Sunday. I’ll be working hard on my masterpiece, ahem, I mean my screenplay.

People aren’t very friendly in Los Angeles. Or maybe it’s just me. I guess I shouldn’t roll my eyes when I say hello.

Power Yoga sucks.

Dusty’s favorite food is apparently McDonald’s French fries. How he has lived to be over 16 years is a freakin’ miracle.

I have to get up at 6am tomorrow. Gotta go.

Hope everyone has a great day!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My new Omnia

Well, I did it. I finally got a new cell phone.

Touch screen, 5MP camera, blazing fast internet, cool ringtones/ringback tones and I can synch it up with my outlook. What's not to like?

Um, maybe the price?

I won't tell you the monthly cost but I never thought I would see the day when I paid this much monthly for a glorified phone. Someone is making A LOT of money off us techno geeks.

But it really is a great little toy. And you know, I luv my toys.

I was trying to decide between the iPhone and the Samsung Omnia. I eventually settled on the Omnia mostly because it seemed more compatible with my microsoft programs. And in the end, it turned out to be quite a bit cheaper too.

The packaging was quite outrageous as you can tell from the video below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQlzX7EyIwU

Now call me. Anyone? Anyone?