some birds are funny when they talk








Stuck in my Head
"Kiss Me Harder" by Bertine Zetlitz
"Hot" by Avril
"Brain Problem Situation" by They Might Be Giants

Now Reading
Number 9 Dream by David Mitchell
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

Recently Finished
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Mad Tony and Me by Carl Hoffman
Sweet Soul Music by Peter Guaralnick
This Must Be The Place: Adventures of Talking Heads in the 20th Century by David Bowman
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Movies Lately
4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days
Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts
Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour
2 Days in Paris
United 93
The Savages
The Bourne Ultimatum
Sweeney Todd
The Departed
What Would Jesus Buy?
Ghost World
I'm Not There
She's The Man
Lars and the Real Girl
Romance and Cigarettes
No Country for Old Men
Into the Wild
I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With
Across the Universe

Shows Lately
Damo Suzuki/Stinking Lizaveta @ Mill Creek
Death and the Maiden @ Curio
Devon Sproule/Carsie Blanton/Devin Greenwood/John Francis @ Tin Angel
Assassins @ The Arden
Oakley Hall and the Teeth @ Johnny Brendas
Isabella and Flamingo/Winnebago and Map Me and Gatz and Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven and Sonic Dances and Strawberry Farm and The Emperor Jones and No Dice and Hearts of Man and Principles of Uncertainty and Isabella and BATCH and Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre's 20th Century and Car and Sports Trilogy and Explanatorium and Wandering Alice and Must Don't Whip Um and Festival of Lies and A Room of Ones Own and Recitatif @ the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe
Martha Graham Cracker and Eliot Levin and Kilo etc. @ the Fringe Cabaret
Lullatone and Teletextile @ Boulder Coffee [Rochester]
TV Sound @ the M Room
Aretha Franklin @ East Dell, Fairmount Pk.
Romeo + Juliet in Clark Park
Daft Punk @ Red Rocks
Spoon @ Rockefeller Park
Ponytail at Pony Pants' House
Mirah/Benjy Ferree @ the 1UC
Tortoise @ World Cafe Live
Hall & Oates...ish
"Nuclear Dreams" - Mascher Dance Group, x2
The Four of Us @ 1812
Machines Machines Machines Machines Machines Machines Machines by Rainpan whatever
Mascher Dance Group/Nathaniel Bartlett
Cornelius @ TLA
Sloan @ World Cafe
In Fluxxxx
Slavic Soul Party!/Red Heart the Ticker @ I-House
the Fantasticks @ Mum
Peter Bjork + Jorn/Fujiya + Miyagi @ fkaTLA
John Vanderslice @ Johnny Brendas
The Books & Todd Reynolds @ 1UC
Into the Woods @ LPAC
The Fishbowl @ the Frear
Caroline, or, Change @ the Arden
Low & Loney, Dear. @ 1UC

Sunday, November 11

pajama drama

so eternal october is over and now it's november. close to halfway through november, already?? [or hovember, i guess, again. he always does that, doesn't he. (yup: last five releases have had nov. drop dates.) before it just appeared, i had been entirely unaware of american gangster's existence - the record or the film - despite my best friends being in a promo video for it. kind of nice when an entire pop-cultural phenomenon (is it really?) arrives fully formed like that - it was faster than in rainbows for me. on the other hand, i've only listened to the album once so far; jury's still out.]

still feels octy enough though - maybe that's what the eternal part's about. been listening to the mix, resuscitating it actually, with a handful of iffy burns and a disturbingly finicky disc drive...i want to make copies (hopefully with new/actual art design!) for the west philly'ns that have joined/become my gang recently; i feel like it fits out here pretty perfect; we b all bout c+c. i haven't attempted anything like this since; two years now. these days the time feels right, but not just quite. i believe this is my most perfect mix tape.

why am i writing about music here? i've been writing about music here, for fun and profit, i.e. actually for real for profit, and writing about writing about music here to go alongside that; but still not saying much about how it's in my life now, which is a lot. i really oughta archive those "stuck in my head" sidebars. anyway i'll stop writing about writing, but it is what i've been doing - tho way more slowly and distractedly than i'd hope, by a lot. maybe i'll get discipline this week? have also been dancing - writing and dancing; as i said to somebody, making commentary on music with words and with movements.

pretty constant - from the tuesday swing sessions, to navigating through the silkcity halloween crowd, to probably the most phenomenal dance-club dancing in ages last saturday (@700), mostly due to a large posse of friends and strangely friendly friendy strangers. (not to mention non-lofty yoga and navel/naval radiation a.k.a. body-mind centering a.k.a. looney liza time.) even sunday night taraoke found me doing the charleston with some random barfly. so, meeting people... is easy. (what comes next, i'm not so sure.) one of my LaB partners turned out, in a kind of amazing bit of cross-town crossed-paths, to be my new co-worker (fellow new hire) at the cafe; another one turned up at a boardgame birthday yesterday (didn't say hi?)

been watching a lot of dance, too, atypically. not even counting last friday's gamelan dancers at lang (or dragonfly-winged ninja's stage antics at the go! team halloween concert), seen three kindsa modern in the past week: herebegin's "current", mostly to see the roguish return of enfantes terribles becky & alison, who did not disappoint (memorably: hexagon critique and the naked part); nicole bindler's pia mater, which was a profusion of xprmntl dance+music, featuring black & white semi-formal dress and set, a micro-absurdist talent show, a contest of bicycle feats (the fixie wins), a discordant sort of birthday party, lots of pretending to be babies and mothers and occasionally birds, live painting of bodies, and the playing of broken strings and electronics, bowed cymbals, bike wheels and balloons. those were both at mascher, which seems to swinging back into gear for the underinsulated months - the lighting is getting more serious, tho it's cute that they're still using my old receiver as the sound system.

then yesterday reb and i treated ourselves to the martha graham company at the annenberg... it was as much a history lesson as it was a dance concert - impressive and fascinating on both counts - and also a revealing illustration of how much the aesthetics of dance - and i'd guess the arts more broadly - have continued to change past this kind of high modernism, groundbreaking though it was. as obvious and dramatic as the difference was between the samples of art-dance that pre-dated graham's innovations (orientalist, "ornamental" solos from 1906 and '16) and the selections in her signature style of the '30s (best represented by the still-startling socialist fantasia "panorama," easily the most exciting thing in the concert), even her later work (like 1981's admittedly classicist, hellenistic "acts of light," choreographed when she was '86) came off in our eyes as hopelessly stylized and dated, awkward rooted in a foreign-seeming conception of essentialized beauty: basically, still bizarrely close to the conventions of classical ballet. which doesn't mean it was any less impressive as performance, or as dance (1956's "embattled garden" was particularly dynamic and virtuosic); just that the stylistic trappings - the excessive makeup, gold unitards (!), and general sense of romantic bombast - were utterly distracting and essentially negated the sense of authenticity emotion it seemed to be trying to convey, and which we're used to seeing in modern dance. well, interesting.

[oh, speaking of... we also went to see martha graham cracker at her cabaret on thursday. and speaking of the piggies, we also went to see their sliver of 365 days/plays (steps 352-358 to be exact.) fabulous, fabulous. so much performances! makes me want to get up there do something myself...i do miss performing; it's harder to do out here in the real world. hey maybe i'll do something here, on bilwa's (general-purpose, for-public-use) set, like he wants.]

well, so much for sitting still in the audience. apart from biking back and forth across the river, bundled against the mounting chill, i've been doing my fair share of sitting still in other situations too. at home, even though i sometimes feels like i'm never home for more than a moment before rushing out again. rather, i feel like it's like that whenever my housemates are around. this weekend has been better though - we've all been here together more often than in the past few weeks, even if we're usually in separate rooms. also, concrete things are happening with the house, which is exciting, though i haven't been as involved with this round of improvements. best part for me so far is that we now have a kitchen table. pretty nice one too. so i can sit there and read my dad's manuscript as i eat my whatever.

nice that the tv's set up too - there was an inaugural movie night last night, with nightwatch substituted for 28 days/weeks later (kind of good since it meant i didn't care as much about watching the whole thing), and a typically extravagant mali hostess-mode spread of cheeses, fruits, popcorns, and oh yeah, an actual dinner of ribs and self-described accoutrements. (and hopefully they ate some of my peanut-butter fudge brownies, which are rich enough that even a quarter of the size i originally cut them will do you just fine. i had just come from a board-game birthday party which featured, i'm pretty sure, at least six different kinds of brownies and brownie-like things. so i was on the verge of a brown-out.)

i skipped out on most of the feasting, though, because it was time to head off for the centerpiece event of the weekend, a plan which had gradually taken its vague shape over the preceding couple of weeks: the pajama party.

we're not in our pajamas in these pictures. we're playing dress-up, of course - the scavenged clothing items and fabulous fabulous hats are just a fraction of the many strange, wonderful, whimsical items that fill every corner of the lavish, slightly lurid, but lovingly adorned, antiquarian-aired apartment: an appropriately remarkable home, certainly, as our unwitting host is clearly a truly remarkable woman. perhaps you can get a sense from the background clutter in those hazy dream-portraits, if not from our outfits themselves. i'm pretty sure it's the best house i've been in in philadelphia. it was also pretty surreal - the house and the whole experience - which i think the pictures catch as well. we look like we're ready for some sort of drama, don't we?

i don't want to say too much about it - there was some of that sort of nebulous specialness that you want to keep a little unexamined, to keep it sacred but also on the suspicion that it might just end up sounding silly and inane if you pay it too much attention. we weren't really sure what we were doing, i think - we were just trying to satisfy the criteria for the quintessential pajama party, as best as we could figure. things started out particularly well, with the novelty of the enterprise, starting into a pot of mulled cider and a fifth of maker's mark, the excitement of exploring the apartment, donning hats and costumes, commencing an impromptu photo shoot - there are clearer, better, posed group costume shots that i don't have (yet, but i'll try to put them up here - in the mean time i finally added a halloween picture to the bottom of the last entry, so scroll down and look at that.)

after photos, and a round of desserts ordered up from the restaurant (ah yes, the restaurant) we changed into our pjs - i'd just thrifted a set of red plaid jammies that morning, which was actually one of my favorite parts of the whole affair. i also really enjoyed playing default dj, digging into my extensive supply of twinkly, somnambient lullaby tunes - what quickly got dubbed "fairy music" - including colleen's et les boîtes à musique, yokota's unfailing sakura, the lovely auburn lull, and lullatone's oh-so-appropriate plays pajama pop pour vous (oh those frenchy japaneseys.) also erlend øye's dj-kicks, marit and tracks 3-10 of in rainbows, all of which feature their own variety of twinklings. (i didn't say i was gonna stop talking about music, did i?)

it all seemed to fit with the sweet, dreamily childlike game we were playing. as far as actual activities go, well we played apples to apples - a game that's a lot less interesting than it used to seem (but still decently enjoyable, and was right-on with the adjective cards this time: i am indeed sappy, sexy, sharp, witty and weird) - and ha ha ha (i guess it's called) or 'human plaid' - we took a just-pre-closing jaunt down to the bar, partially in pjs, to catch last call - we lay on a bedspread on the livingroom floor, gazing up at the 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-pointed starry ceiling (that's a clue) and trying to think of jokes or questions - somehow there was clamor for a dance party at around 4am, so i decided to play ¡OhSiX!, which went over well, even if the dancing dissolved after a half-hour or so.

dawn came and we hadn't slept (well, save for one who'd drifted off before the dancing); we took the dogs out for a walk and to greet the day - frost in the field - though the sun had already cleared the horizon by the time we made it out. we slept some - in the pile on the floor, and eventually, after something like an unintentional approximation of a game of sardines, in a couple of the beds upstairs - but only some. four hours at best, not enough to shake that lessening that comes when you don't quite make the all-nighter. it's really better not to sleep at all than to stay up til the morning and sleep just a short while - that little bit somehow casts the disproportionate sleeplessness in a garish harrowed glare it's easier to squint out when you're just going on the wisps and fumes of the liminal hurdle, the second-wind of sunrise, the wan and achy weakened deepened wakefulness of coasting on through.

so - despite the generous, delicious orts in lieu of brunch, the concluding come-together clean-up, and especially despite the gloriously sunny morning we walked out into - there was this nagging anxiety, a tiny disquiet lingering about the whole business, that it was hard to quite apprehend until the light hit it. there was the physical futsiness of the suspended sleeplessness and torpor (i guess the whiskey didn't help, though it passed generally unnoticed the night before; the brownies neither perhaps.) this diverting but indeterminate agelessness we'd been engaging in - an imprecise précis not to act our age (our ages), but to high-schoolers? (like little scandinavian children on christmas morning, i said at one point - shades of fanny and alexander, natch - from the apartment too - our gay apparel courtesy of, perhaps, hannah andersson. i also felt like a 1950s norman rockwell suburban junior, with the plaid pjs and my thick specs) - and a timelessness too of just being out of ourselves, out of our lives, out of time - somebody was wishing it could go on for a whole week, but even the briefest span seemed enough to capsule it off fully, so more time would've just belabored the point, diluted the essence - these things aren't bad, per se, they were just the nature of the unreality, the oneiric otherness of it - (not, also, to haze it up in hindsight - but i haven't slept since, either, really, but at least in this state that's my lingering perception. the night, and the surroundings, and the mind, can do strange things.)

but i do regret a little that it didn't become more of a personal, communal self-sharing sort of experience - there's the opportunity with these things for surprising connections, those late-night deep talks that might end up seeming preposterous in the morning light (or they might not), but can establish and consolidate some real and lasting bonds, regardless. i can't say i really feel substantively closer to the participants now...of course, it was only one night, so that's not too surprising or upsetting. but instead, there was - maybe, the other direction from actual intimacy - this little, stupid sort of sexual tension - maybe it comes with the territory, though i'm not sure it has to - maybe a little sweet, silly, but just a little too unconscious to acknowledge or deflate. the sort of fun at the time, but, ugh, ultimately just limiting, since it's just inhibiting. even as it is itself inhibited by the pervasive, put-on, but no less inexorable, innocent wholesomeness - so that just puts things further at odds.

meh - don't want to say much, or feel like i should dwell on it. it bothered me (not specifically; generally) for much of the day, in an imprecise way. it was a shapeless day, sort of shot from the start for anything of much substance to happen - and a sunday anyway. i mostly channeled my restless, fragile energy into playing guitar and singing - songs from edith frost's it's a game and the mountain goats' get lonely - two of the finest collections of mopey, post-break-up folk formalism in recent memory; not sure why but those were what was coming to me. played keyboard too (after being asked not to use the intriguing player piano in the parlor at the party) - mostly just big churchy organ chords and gospel IV-Is. i wanted to go for a ride or maybe a hike/walk in the woods, but i couldn't find a partner for it or get up to going alone, so i just walked around the neighborhood a bit. the strains of curtis mayfield drew me towards a party in malcolm x park, with a circle of youngish breakers dancing to an afro'd laptop dj who turned out to be a penn student (freshman?), so i chatted with him for a while, and then hung out with a four-ish year old who wanted some help getting onto the jungle gym, until his mom came back. nice.

also - it was just nice to come home from the party and see my housemates at the dining/living(?)room table, doing the sunday morning. here they are:

we don't need more time
we need to use it right

. . .

time's unpredictable - just when you think
that you've learned how to save it,
you spend all day on hold
i need somebody to show me the difference between using it wisely
and just growing old

. . .

why did you grow a beard?
why did you grow a beard?
i can't leave you along for five minutes
what the christ
what the devil

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