of Maine

Gone Faintin’
September 29, 2008, 8:42 am
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We’re out of commission here until, oh, Wednesday? And anticipating doing more than mere linking beginning next week.

In the meantime, read up on what Carl Wilson posted on Owen Pallett writing about Max Tundra, because this gentleman is starting to knock me out.


Fall movies, index cards, TV on the Radio

– It’s Fall Preview time of year, which is exciting for precisely one reason: with any luck, there will be good movies hitting theaters in the next few months. (Or six months, in Maine.) With that, The Onion A.V. Club has turned its film preview for the fall into an Oscar-O-Meter, which does a good job explaining what buzz there is or isn’t for upcoming movies. (Like the Oscars themselves, the Oscar-buzz rating has no bearing on the quality of the film.) Things to look forward to: Rachel Getting Married (starring Anne Hathaway, believe it or not) and The Road, The Road, The Road.

– Likewise, my favorite internet film critic, Mike D’Angelo, is at the New York Film Festival and has just seen one of his favorite films of the decade. Usually, this indicates a bold and disturbing movie that you may love but will be reluctant to share with your friends. Case in point: Afterschool, which sounds shocking and awesome.  He’s also put up a Films of the Decade page, which has a decent overlap with my own unwritten list.

– Regular NYT film critic A.O. Scott won my undying admiration for two books pieces he wrote on Sunday: a much better appreciation of DFW than the “Appreciation” they printed last week, and a review of Marilynne Robinson’s new book Home, her follow up to Gilead, which really, really makes me wish I wasn’t spending all of my free time working on this right now (as fulfilling and important as it is). One more week…

– More TV on the Radio reviews, from The Onion and Drowned in Sound (who, as they do almost every week, drop the M-bomb).

– Pitchfork reminds us why the Cold War Kids are popular, why they don’t deserve to be, and why you (I) shouldn’t get so worked up about it. They also review a Blaxploitation soundtrack for a film that was never made, which is damned interesting.

Indexed is a blog of graphs on index cards, pithily and elegantly summing up the news and random people’s attitudes.

TV on the Radio, Babar, Sam Amidon, and more!
September 22, 2008, 9:43 am
Filed under: Hasty Music Reviews, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

– Seriously folks, seeing illustrations of Babar in the Times and the New Yorker these past couple weeks has warmed my pretending-to-be-cynical heart many, many times. Gush. And, as an aside, all of this coverage makes me wish my memories of Babar were not simply being bored by the HBO cartoon as a child.

– Anyway, today’s main topic of discussion was to be TV on the Radio’s new album, Dear Science, (important question the internet hasn’t answered yet: do you put a comma after an album with a comma in the title?), but fortunately for all of us, Chris Dahlen wrote the Pitchfork review, and as usual he nails an extremely complicated album. It’s worth noting that the 9.2 grade seems slightly at odds with Dahlen’s review, but I understand the sentiment: in moments the album is more interesting (and easier) to think about than to just enjoy, but this seems a case where an album’s Symbolic Importance (as genuinely progressive rock music) outweighs its mere likability. And that said, I’m liking it more every time I listen to it. Popmatters also does a better job with it than they usually do.

– Also worth a look is Chris Dahlen’s blog, Save the Robot. (He is, it turns out, a Portsmouth NH resident.) His blog most often focuses on video games, with occasional sidetracks into movies and music, and he’s an immensely levelheaded and appealing writer. (Heed his notice on Max Tundra. And Shugo Tokumaru.)

– Cokemachineglow’s Eric Sams manages to address most of my beef with the new Okkervil River (the sensation, not the album necessarily) and still come out liking it. Here’s hoping.

– At Shake Your Fist, there’s a nice song by Sam Amidon from Awake My Soul, the Sacred Harp documentary mentioned a few weeks back. We mention this mainly because it was recently announced that Amidon’s coming to One Longfellow Square in Portland in December, which has quickly become my second-most anticipated concert of the year (after Andrew Bird, coming up quickly). I will be promoting the shit out of Amidon’s performance in the coming months. Look back to my Nico Muhly post for a little more on him.

– What would the White House look like if it were designed today?

– From the Department of Hilarious Lack of Imagination, The Shawshank Redemption is to be reissued on DVD, and the cover could scarcely look more like that of a Star Wars film.

Micah Blue Smaldone, Fight Club, and DFW

– In this week’s Phoenix, I review Micah Blue Smaldone’s new album, The Red River. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to listen to a local album and not have to grade it on a curve. This gentleman is a massive talent.

– Continuing on the David Foster Wallace eulogy watch (because that’s all I care to pay attention to this week): a friend and colleague wrote a beautiful one for the Boston Phoenix; Benjamin Kunkel has another for n+1; the McSweeney’s thread continues to be a little bit heartbreaking; and the New Yorker has finally chimed in (and made a couple more stories of Wallace’s available).

– One surefire way to make me like Fight Club less: compare it to fucking Office Space. Can’t convey to you all how depressing it is to me that people enjoy that movie. It’s even more frustrating than the revisionist blather about The Big Lebowski being a Great Movie. I beseech anyone who likes Office Space to read this book and refer to it ad nauseum instead.

– Speaking of the Coen Bros, I saw Burn After Reading this past weekend, and I think I liked it. Maybe a lot, even. I’ll try to check it out one more time before I comment further.

Ranking character, and yes, more DFW
September 16, 2008, 9:39 am
Filed under: Words, Work | Tags: , ,

– Via Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic, these maps ranking each state by qualities of character are pretty fascinating. Apparently, Maine is both one of the most extraverted and least open states in the country. That means we’re shallow, right?

– And we’re continuing other peoples’ David Foster Wallace tributes week. I highly doubt anyone reading this is as big a closet tennis nut as I am, but I forgot how awesome DFW’s profile of Roger Federer in the NYT‘s sports magazine is. (Gawker’s got a handy wrapup of freely available online articles.) The McSweeney’s tributes – including bits by Dave Eggers and Zadie Smith – have begun, and the reminiscences by his former students almost made me cry. More of those coming throughout the week. And at Zoilus, Carl Wilson gives another lovely tribute, and links to an online community of DFW freaks, where I take it there are loads more stories and articles.

– Also, I forgot to provide a link last week to my review of Why?’s album, Alopecia. He’s at SPACE Gallery on Saturday.

More DFW Stories
September 15, 2008, 3:48 pm
Filed under: Words | Tags:

Harper’s magazine has just made their collection of David Foster Wallace stories freely available as PDF files. Click here for the list. I don’t recognize all of the titles, but at least a few of these would later be featured in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again and Consider the Lobster under different titles. “Shipping Out…,” from Jan 1996 (later retitled as “A Supposedly Fun Thing…”), is hilarious, essential reading. I’ll be going back to it tonight.

David Foster Wallace
September 15, 2008, 10:00 am
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One of the unique tragedies of a death like this is that no one could have written a more precise eulogy than David Foster Wallace. Of anyone. The man’s ability to grasp a person, moment, or occasion in all of its complexities and eccentricities was quite literally jawdropping, something beyond what you thought one human mind was capable of. He was as authoritative as he was encyclopedic. It’s impossible to read his non-fiction works and not come out more alert, thoughtful, and most of all, humble.

So, to read. Yes, read Infinite Jest (or yes, try to read it again). But more, read A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, a giddy rollercoaster of opinions and perspectives. It’s a book I do and will return to annually. Read his piece on John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign (which was recently released as a stand-alone book). Read this simple, disarming fiction story from the New Yorker last year. Read what will likely be a lovely week of remembrances at McSweeney’s. Read this one at Salon. Ignore the needlessly critical one at the Times. Keep reading. We’ve got some serious slack to pick up.