Statue of Liberty Replica

The Statue of Libery Replica in the Luxembourg Gardens of Paris.

Since my initial response to Stacie’s comment was getting a little long, I decided to post it here.

I think that it is a little odd, being an American, seeing the Statue of Liberty in a park in France. (There, of course, is an even larger one on the River just south of the Eiffel tower.) I suppose the French don’t think that, as they probably feel the connection to the statue. New Yorkers certainly think of it as a New York monument, not an American one. However, for both New Yorkers and Americans as a whole, the statue seems strange.

However, this particular statue seemed somehow in it’s place to me, as this whole garden contains statues from great French artists(and maybe other nationalities, I don’t know). It seemed to register immediately as to why I was looking at what would otherwise be a most out-of-place statue. On another note, I think seeing these keeps the differences between America, Americans, and the American government separate in the minds of Parisians. Maybe the statue reminds them why they liked us in the first place, just like all those streets named after America’s progressives and WWII leaders.

Music Inside The Beltway

Angela and I drove up to Alexandria to check out Dave playing with Jessi Alexander, who was opening for Vonda Shepard.

So Dave calls me Monday morning to tell me that he is in West Virginia and on his way up to Alexandria to play a gig with Jessi Alexander that evening. He wanted to know if Angela and I could make it up to the show. Well, of course we get cut off before he tells me where (there are a few hills in West Virginia and only one cell tower). I call Angela, and she’s all for it. Finally we get back in touch and he tells me it’s at the Birchmere and that Jessi is opening for Vonda Shepard. Even better.

Now, it’s a hundred miles one way from Richmond to Alexandria, but well worth the trip to see Dave, Jessi Alexander, and Vonda Shepard. We got there in time to see the second half of Jessi’s set, which was really great. It just made me wish we could have made it to see the whole thing. Jessi is a great songwriter and performer, and I can see why Dave enjoys getting to tour around with her. Further, after meeting her in person, she’s a real class-act. She was fun to talk to about music, travel, and whatever else the four of us all talked about. I have to admit that since I absolutely never listen to commercial radio or watch music videos, I’d never heard her music until Monday. I bought her album and I’m glad I did. I’d recommend it to anyone as what really good country music can be when someone writes songs and not "hits."

The Birchmere is more like dinner theater than your typical honky-tonk. I know Dave and Jessi noticed the crowd was a little subdued. I think Dave took it as lack of interest or even disapproval. I think these people are way too used to watching music on A&E, and don’t know to clap, whistle, and yell after guitar solos, piano rolls, and wailing vocals. There was no shortage of any of that between these two ladies, and the crowd had the pulse-rate of a narcoleptic golf caddy on the seniors tour. As far as Vonda Shepard goes, she’s probably not used to crowd’s not responding. She is a great entertainer, singer and songwriter. I hate people who do this, which is weird because I do it more than anyone, but here goes: she’s like a cross between Ben Folds and Carly Simon. I didn’t really expect to enjoy her set half as much as I did, and now I’m telling Angela to go download some songs from iTunes Music Store. Next thing, you know, I’ll be sitting in my PJ’s watching the DVD sets of Ally McBeal. Okay, that’s not very likely.

Towards the end of Vonda’s set, Dave, Angela and I went back to the dressing rooms to hang out. Dave showed off his high-end tambourine and his flashy new laptop. He let us listen to a couple of songs off of the forthcoming Coal Men EP. Damn, it sounds terrific. I was kicking myself for not bringing my USB flash drive to grab some copies. I was also just proud that Dave was letting his inner geek shine for a while. Rock on, man. \w/

Anyway, Angela and I really enjoyed the whole evening. Getting to hang out some with Dave alone would have been worth the trip, but two really great performers really made it a great trip. I hope Dave and Jessi enjoy their time up in Philly and Detroit, and I really look forward to seeing Jessi perform again.

In other music/geek news: Green Rode Shotgun‘s web site is back! Jason‘s been a busy man, and the site looks great. He’s indeed a man of many talent’s, including occasionally threatening to post comments on this site. Glad to see you back on the web, my friend.

A Palsy Victim Performing Brain Surgery With A Monkeywrench

Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s "Sin City" is the perfect mesh of Film Noir, ultra-violence, comic book camp, and cinema technology.

Editor’s Note: Since Steve & Trey left a couple of comments about "Sin City" on my last broad-sweeping post, I thought I’d finally get around to posting my review and thoughts on the film… did I mention I’ve been really occupied lately?

I went to see the late show of "Sin City" a couple of weeks ago. I had heard great things about this movie, and more than just the regular hype running up to a Hollywood bankbuster. This was the movie that was really going to showcase digital as a means of shooting and editing film. I read Wired’s article on Robert Rodriguez’s use of digital, and knew that at least I would enjoy the stylization and cinematography. I love stylized films, and this one goes all the way. But of course, it was that bare-bones, gritty style that made Miller’s comic such a cult classic to begin with. You can see the panels of Miller’s comic coming to life. The style of this movie is the style of the comic book. That is to say, it is the straight black & white to simulate inked drawings. The caricature-esque figures of each seedy individual are given voices and made to move. Rodriguez and Miller have done the impossible: they actually made a comic book film. It took the story lines of some of the greatest comics every written along with Rodriguez’s uncanny ability to make impossible films (see the story behind "El Mariachi," for starters) and the use of digital equipment to do it. Sure, we’ve seen many other comic book movies, but those were Hollywood versions of the story-line; reproductions only. This is a comic book being displayed in live action on a big screen.

This is the sort of film that doesn’t get made unless someone like Robert Rodriguez tells Hollywood execs to bugger-off and goes and does it himself. This film makes no apologies in it’s presentation. You are going to be sick at some of the fantastic brutality that takes place. This is "Pulp Fiction" noir, but sadly everybody compares every violent film to Tarantino’s big debut (and especially since he guest-directed on "Sin City"). Actually, I’d say since you end up loving some really nasty characters, it would be more in line with "A Clockwork Orange," and no-less style driven that than film. A lot of the acting is cheesy, to be kind, but that just lends itself to the noir genre. I have to say that Michael Madsen’s dialogue with Bruce Willis comes to mind first. I can’t fault him, or the other actors or director(s) much, though. Honestly, when you actually listen to one of Bogie‘s speeches about dames in those films, it almost seems like a parody as opposed to the original. It’s just so ingrained into American pop-culture. Cheesy, over-dramatic lines are part of film-noir like broads and stiffs. It’s Miller’s comic twists on the genre that make the real magic, and this film delivers. Madsen is such a terrific actor ("Kill Bill Vol. 2" and "Reservoir Dogs" come to mind immediately, but that’s probably because I mentioned Tarantino), it’s almost a shame to see him say really goofy things to in the second scene of the film.

Some real highlights of the movie included Bruce Willis, who did such a convincing job as aging detective Hartigan, it makes me think how good he would be as Batman if Frank Miller’s "Dark Knight" was ever made. Nah, Hollywood would never go for a decrepit, senile old man as Batman; but then again, who ever thought "Sin City" would get made as a film? Also, Mickey Rourke made the comic anti-hero Marv really come to life. He was one of several people who put on some prosthetics to get into character, and really made the thick-jawed, psychotic Marv come real. Everybody is great in this film, but those two really sold the lines to me.

So prepare yourself for a black ink noir fantasy with lots of violence and oddball characters. Then go see "Sin City," and see what is possible in film. Two last little bits: look out for Frank Miller in his cameo as a priest during the confessional scene, and do not go to… it doesn’t have anything to do with the comic and might get you in trouble with your boss or wife. You were warned.

My Life In Brief

I’ve been so busy lately, I almost forgot I had a blog. You probably forgot I had a blog, too.

I’ve been so busy lately, I almost forgot I had a blog. You probably forgot I had a blog, too. Here’s just a quick PowerPoint-style list of what’s been going on:

  • I saw Frank Miller’s "Sin City" on the opening night and this is indeed the future of cinema. People keep trying to place this film somewhere in the spectrum of past films: noir, ultra-violence, action, etc. This movie is a whole new genre of film. Go see it.
  • I have been spending some really long hours at work, which is fortunately over for now. Too bad it has interrupted with…
  • I am taking the Professional Engineer’s exam this Friday. Normally, I wouldn’t even so much as sweat it, as I usually am well prepared for this sort of thing. However, I haven’t been putting in my study time like I should. Nobody’s fault but mine, but it still sucks. I’m keeping cool, though.
  • Angela and I ran the Monument Ave 10k this past Saturday. I set a personal best, at 50:45 and this was Angela’s first ever 10k. I’m proud of the both of us. It was a great day to be running (sunny and about 55°F) and we had a fun time.
  • That’s all I got for now. As of Friday, I’m going to be in the mood to write a lot on here, so do please keep checking your RSS feeds or logging on to the site.