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.