She Sells Beer

The only Super Bowl ad this year I remember was the Budweiser “Eternal Optimism” spot, a highly patriotic decade in review since WWII. And I like the music, hate the beer.

Imagine my surprise when the song turns out to be a mashup of “She Sells Sanctuary” from the 1985 album “Love” from an English band, The Cult. Nothing against English rockers, mind you, but if you are hawking crappy American beer using overt American symbolism, might you not want to use an American band? Just askin.

Nice mashup, reminds me of the Kleptones.

It’s Hard to Be Legal – Sheet Music Edition

So I wanted to buy the sheet music for “Lust” by Tori Amos. I love the piano music and wanted to learn it – to play, not to sing.

I started with Google, found several music sites, and prepared to pay. Seems to be about $4.50. Ok, I can deal with that.

Started with I had purchased “Time out of Mind” by Steely Dan and “Holly and the Ivy” by George Winston using the Solara viewer from FreeHand Music. They don’t have the piece. Fair enough.

Then off to Musicroom, where I found the pience, changed currency to USD then signed up, and then found that I could not by that item from the US. Thanks for telling me up front! I love wasting time!

Then finally, I did a new Google search, found and installed yet another stupid viewer. I was able to finally purchase it and print it. What a waste of time.

Until the publishers and artists finally decide to let us get whatever we want whenever we want it EASILY for a fair price, the piracy will continue. In the meantime, have fun in bankruptcy.

Holiday 2009 – Sara Jean at Schubas

Our Sarah’s High School friend Sara Jean performed with Tom Schraeder and His Ego on Dec 28th at Schuba’s Tavern in Chicago. She had done this before last year and I had asked her to tell us when she would be preforming again. She Facebooked me and since both Bette and I were on vacation the week between Xmas and New Year’s, we went for it.

We got a cheapish ($90) room at the Hampton Inn at 33 W Illinois (careful though, taxes are an automatic $15 and overnight valet parking was $42!!!) THe hotel is a nice place, with a Prarie style decor in the small lobby and the usual Hampton coffee bar and free breakfast. After checking in and grabbing some coffee, we head to the room to read and have a bit of a nap. My cell phone goes off at 5:30, and we are off to Elizabeth and Nick’s.

They live north of Belmont on Ashland in a new condo. We cab to the place – Lake Shore Drive is backed up a bit, and traffic on Belmont is terrible, so cab fare is over $20 with tip – and find the buzz box. We are buzzed in. ON the 3rd floor, none of the apartments are marked with a letter. Elizabeth calls us on our cell, and we say “we are in the hall!”. She opens the door. Guess the association does not want condos marked…

THeir condo has lovely dark brown wood, 15 foot exposed concrete ceilings, and a couple of bathrooms, but at 1200 sq ft, it is not huge. But it is nice, and overlooks Ashland. THe kitchen is modern, small and would be a galley kitchen but the space between the kitchen and living room is open with a granite counter. Nice. We are served hors d’oeurvres and wine.

The door knocks, and it is Chellie. She was let it by a resident, who gave her explicit instructions on how to get to the apartment — “2nd door in the left”.

We visit an hour and grab a cab for the 3 blocks to Schubas at Southport and Belmont. I tip the cabbie well – we could have easily walked.

It is an old bar, lots of dark wood. My parents seem to remember going there back in the day. We have dinner. I had the Texas chili, listed with the veggie chili mac. Bette and Chellie have salads. We get sweet potato fries and a small mac-and-cheese (house specialty), which is free, when you prebuy tickets on line as we did. It is also 1/2 price wine night, so Chellie and Bette split a bottle of a French Sauvignon Blanc. I got a Guinness.

The fries are thick, not the thin curly ones everyone has. The Mac is hot and good. Bus staff keeps up with plates and water is refilled.

When our entrees come, the salads are wonderful, but my chili is just – no mac. I want mac. They give me a plate of buttered macaroni with a name for $5. Yow.

So we finish, and the line at the will-call is building. At 8:30P one band is still doing a sound check and our entry is delayed. We head back with the leftover wine, stamp our hands and Chellie pays her cover. I get a Goose Island IPA for $5.50 and we head for the church pews along the south side of the room. On the north (Belmont) side are some small tables with a few chairs; these are filled (the reason for the line). A line of coat hooks is behind our pew, people are hanging coats. The center of the floor is bare. You expect a Christmas pageant to break out at any time.

The first act is Dick Prall, who, as it turns out, is performing his last gig at Schuba’s before he goes on hiatus. (As his going away present, I bought two of his CDs for $10.) I really liked him, and I have since found some concerts from Schuba’s from 2005 on Rhapsody and have enjoyed them.

The next act is John Henry & the Engine from St Louis. Eh. The lead singer kind of moans and is not 1/2 the vocalist Dick is. The band is good, and they have an electric fiddler which is cool. Chellie leaves; we give her cab fare. We are glad we brought our earplugs.

Between acts, Bette sees a girl that could be Sara. I walked up to her and saw her tattoos on her arm — it is indeed Sara. I say hi and she gives me a big hug and comes over to Bette. We chat for a while; then she must prepare.

At 11PM, Tom (and Sara) come out with the other zillion members of the band. Sara has a wonderful voice, but at times is way down in the mix so is hard to hear. But she is having fun, and so did we. I have listened to Tom’s music on Rhapsody, and was familiar with some of the songs. He makes very interested facial expressions up on stage! One song brought all the bands from the evening up on stage – that was fun.

Post show, we said our byes, cabbed back to the hotel. Next morning, headed down to the free breakfast — big mistake! Crowded, food ok but nothing good, loud — we should have gone out. As we walked down to river afterwards, and later when we were driving out Ontario toward 90, we passed a bunch of places we could have breakfasted. Nuts. Next time. Let us know, Sara…

Northern Exposure

Northern Exposure is the wacky show from the early 90’s about a snooty young doctor serving an eccentric town in Alaska. I thought it was fun, my Dad introduced me to it, really, and we love the first soundtrack disc. During a business trip, I actually visited Roslyn, Washington, where the exteriors were shot, a two or three hour drive from Seattle and bought a t-shirt.

Some folks at work were discussing the show and I recalled one of my favorite episodes where Maggie finds artifacts in her front yard (4.11 Survival of the Species), the men dig them all up to sell, and at the end the village women slowly move them back into the ground. I watched that episode and the emotional content plus the haunting song are still vivid in my mind. So I did a little research.

After a bit of googling, I found this post and the above episode list that identified it as “Tango To Evora” from Loreena McKennitt’s “The Visit”. I love the song, but never realized that the song missing from my memory is the same one. Perhaps seeing it on the show back then suggested the purchase. Unknown. Now name and show are linked.

Known, however, is that the song was removed from the DVD release. Brilliant decision. In the words of icepixie,

“They took out Loreena McKennitt’s “Tango to Evora” at the end of “Survival of the Species,” replacing it with some Italian aria. It wasn’t the same.”

I agree. So I guess I can save some money on season 4. You can’t go home again.

This American Life – Live

Drove down to the Chicago Theatre on Sunday. Traffic not too bad inbound, horrible outbound. Lucky.

We paid top dollar ($50.50 ea) for these seats on the main floor, about 15 rows back to the left. We could see Ira at his desk perfectly.

Mike Birbiglia told a good story. Several movies, one with David Rakoff and Dave Hill which was fun, but would have been funnier if we ever watched CSI. A very Felix-the-Cat-ish (or maybe Steamboat Willie-ish) cartoon by Chris Ware. I loved the post-it note illustration of Starlee Kine’s story. Joss Whedon (yes, him) did a song from his musical DVD director’s commentary track. Interesting and funny.

Dan Savage came out to tell a very moving story about his mom. They showed home movies of an early TAL live show where both Ira’s and Dan’s mothers, now both deceased, are talking real dirty. It was very neat.

The preview of the DVD looked real good too – no Showtime here, so have not seen it yet.

I just love the show. This show is the best thing on the radio today. Fun. Now go see it at the HD theaters. And buy the t-shirt. Support them! My only complaint was the audio – sometimes it was hard to hear. The HD version might be better.

This American Life

High School Musical – Woodstock Opera House

Bette and I attended the Woodstock Children’s Summer Theatre performance of HSM at the Woodstock Opera House in Woodstock IL. We have attended many events there, by far this was the loudest — not the show, but the audience. We went to the 2PM show with two young friends, Raea and Keefer, and to fit into their schedule we went to the same show that was a prize for reading library books. Translated — lots of younger kids, and they mostly don’t shut up for most of the show. We were in the center balcony, good seats, really. We were usually on the main floor for past shows, but these were the hottest tickets in years…

We knew Daniel Rausch, the youngest, and sadly the last, of the uber-talented Rausch boys; he was the lead. We enjoyed the PA announcer. The cast was good. Although they were miked up, sometimes the audio was not good, especially given the bad signal-to-noise ratio. But we got the jist of it, and the dancing was wonderful.

Two 10-ish-year-old girls behind us were talking and one mentioned (while the show was going on), “I don’t like this one — they are not the real people.” True, but perhaps she missed the point a bit. It was a fun visit to a new play for us, and for $6 apiece, much better than paying some adult troupe to pretend they are high schoolers for $70 each.

The young thespians constantly amaze us with their talents.

Afterwards, we headed to the Club for a nice dinner, where the kids were well behaved and enjoyed the piano player, Dean Malsack, where he regaled us with stories of his Baldwin piano with black keys.

Recital: Steven Rausch

Steven continues the tradition of talented Rausch boys with his senior recital at Woodstock High School. Claire de Lune was magnificent – I closed my eyes and kind of floated along. The Barbershop Sweetheart was perfect – what a group. She’s Got a Way was a great song for his voice and highlighted his piano work. His duet with older brother Chris was cool on many levels, and their voices work wonderfully together.

See you at Scott’s recital…

Prelude in G Minor – Chopin
Where’er you Walk – Handel
Sound the Trumpet – Purcell – Duet with Chris Rausch
Tramerai – Schumann
Adieu Sweet Amaryllis – John Wilbye – Madrigal Quartet with Alayna DeVar, Ariana Freeman, Scott Rausch
The Vagabond – Ralph Vaughan-Williams
Bring Him Home – Claude-Michel Schonberg from Les Miserables
Prelude in C Minor – Chopin
Dreaming with a Broken Heart – John Mayer
Let Me Call you Sweetheart – Leo Friedman – The “Honey Crooners” feat. Alex Blue, Glenn DeVar, and Scott Rausch
Clair de Lune – Debussy
She’s Got a Way – Billy Joel
Anthem – Bjorn Ulvaeus

Dance Therapy Recital

On 10 July Bette and I attended the Faculty/Student Benefit Concert for the Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling Department of Columbia College, Chicago. Why?

We responded in late spring to a letter from Alexandria, a local DMTC Master’s candidate (who actually attended Marian Central) who, for her thesis, held a series of workshops for bereaved parents, using physical activity (or movement) to bring relief. The usual attack is via long drawn out sessions of discussion, which Bette and I both found useful after Sarah died, but this was different. There was discussion, but also a lot of breath work and physical activity. The last session, we played in a 12 foot loop of a diaphanous stretch fabric, which opened our eyes to play and remembering things. She also took some video of us acting out scenes from our memory.

Her thesis was turning these experiences into dance.

The dance was called Buried Treasure, and was part of a series of recital pieces from the students and staff of the department. It was a lot of fun, and the music was very good too. I always find new music when attending these things (just like working with Poms). And I was thinking, I should have invited Poms (and alumnae) to this – they would have loved it. It was a benefit for some scholarships for students, who were awarded them after the dance was over. Just like a Sarah clinic!

Afterwards, there was a nice reception catered by the Melting Pot fondue (chain) restaurant, with a fountain of chocolate martinis and chocolate fondue with fruit and Rice Krispies treats. We were able to talk to Alexandria, who was pouring (free) wine, and she told us she had reviewed the video for our physical presentation and used that to choreograph the dancers for her piece. A lot of thought went into it – amazing. She used the best line, “Everyone grieves in their own way”. If everyone remembered that, the trip would be a lot easier.

Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL
Melting Pot, 609 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60654

Update– here is the playlist — I love music for these things – artists have lots of ideas!
1. Savage Acquiescence / “Fade To Black” by Apocalyptica from “Inquisition Symphony”
2. a sublimer / “Weird Fishes / Arpeggi” by Radiohead from “In Rainbows”
3. Communion / “Journeying” by Steve Halpern from ?
more to come…
4. “Nobody knows the trouble i see” / trad. spiritual
4a. “Trampled Rose” by Alison Krauss from “Raising Sand” (unbelievable)
5. Buried Treasures / “Silent World” by Donna Lewis from “Now In A Minute”
6. Matters of Self / “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap from “Speak For Yourself”
7. moving through / “Guaranteed”, “No Ceiling” and “Rise” by Eddie Vedder from the “Into the Wild” soundtrack.
8. Beating / “Feedback”, “So Much Betta” by Janet Jackson
9. Euphoric – Inherent – Drive
10. Shapeshifting
11. Disquieted Front / “Biscuit” by Portishead from “Dummy” (Sarah had this album!)
12. Two Moons
13. Work, Play, Love
14. BESS in Hip Hop / “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson, “Dance and Shout” by Shaggy, “Track 1” by Dabrye, “Go Girl” by Pitbull