May 25, 2010

The National Gallery, Volume 2

About nine months ago*, I wowed and amazed you** with a photo-and-video scrapbook of my visit to Los Angeles' famed Wiltern for a rockin' good concert by The National. Saturday night, I returned for the first time since then. For a concert. A concert by The National. I'm nothing if not creative.

Further evidence of that creativity? Today's post will be a photo-and-video scrapbook of Saturday evening.

I haven't been to a whole lot of music venues in L.A. yet, but I've decided that the Wiltern is one of the best in town, thanks in part to its kick-ass marquee, which on Saturday, looked a lot like this:

Another thing I love about the theater is that the name is an amalgamation of WILshire Boulevard and WesTERN Avenue, which intersect near its entrance. The name would have been even catchier if the theater had been built where Jackson Street runs into Kass Avenue, but, sadly, whoever was building art deco theaters in L.A. in the early 1930s missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. (Also, there's no Kass Avenue in Los Angeles, but whatever.)

The National mixed in several songs from its newest album, High Violet, including Bloodbuzz Ohio, which I especially like, and Conversation 16, which is a favorite of my exceptionally gorgeous wife.

Among its other wonderful qualities, Conversation 16 includes this rather snappy lyric:
I was afraid I'd eat your brains
I was afraid I'd eat your brains

Cause I'm evil
Cause I'm evil

And one of the highlights of the concert was hearing lead singer Matt Berninger explain the deeper meaning behind those words. "That song," he said, "is a metaphor for this one time that I ate a girl's brains while she was sleeping."

We in the audience assumed he was kidding, of course, and we got a good chuckle out of that metaphor.***

Another cool part of the night was meeting - in person! - my online friend Violette, a music connoisseur with whom I've been exchanging tweets since that first National concert last August. Violette has a great (and recently redesigned) music blog, which you should check out, so long as you finish reading this post first.

OK, enough with the words. How 'bout a few of my very favorite photos I took Saturday night, and a couple of videos that I might or might not have shot with my digital camera, depending on whether I needed the band's express written consent to videotape anything ...

The stills

If you were in a band, you'd put this on an album cover, right?

My favorite picture I've taken in a really really long time.

Motion & Sound

Start A War

Mistaken For Strangers

The band's remaining 2010 tour dates, you ask? Right here.

* Tip for all of you aspiring writers out there: This strikes me as a potentially dramatic way to start any story not involving the birth of a child.
** Well, two or three of you.
*** For more metaphor-inspired hilarity, please don't hesitate to read two other recent SFTC posts, this one and this one.

May 6, 2010

SFTC Cribs: Inept bomber edition

Once in a while when I'm scanning the latest headlines on my Google home page, I'll see a link to a seemingly inane "news story" in the feed and cringe. And I'll wonder: "What kind of idiots would waste their time reading about this nonsense?"

And then, typically, I answer my own question by clicking through to read more.

Today, that happened when I came across a Very Important News Article about the "$65,000 home equity piggy bank" belonging to Faisal Shahzad, the man being held in connection with the botched attempt to car-bomb Times Square last weekend.

I'm not sure why this seemed interesting, except perhaps that I've never seen the inside of an incompetent bomber's home, or maybe I'm the kind of guy who just likes virtual open houses. As you can see here, it's all pretty unremarkable. No telltale signs of an "aspiring terrorist bomber," as CNN so eloquently* put it. Not even any photos of Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

In fact, what I found most interesting were the cloying little blurbs accompanying the photos, which read as though they were co-written by Captain Obvious and a very dimwitted real estate agent.

For example, the master bedroom:

This is precisely the reason we turn to CNN. For analysis like this: "Green is the theme color in the Shahzads' bedroom. The curtains pick up the tone of the bed linens, and a bamboo print hung between the windows extends the botanical motif."

This is not retouched or edited. Someone really wrote that.

Walk with me to the kid's room, won't you?

The extraordinary analysis only deepens here, where we learn that the child's bedroom "appears to be slightly more cluttered than the rest of the house - a not-uncommon characteristic of a child's room."

Penetrating insights from the news organization that is quickly becoming known as the world leader in boudoir-organization reportage.

OK, let's go out back:

In case you can't quite make it out, this is a photo of an empty wooden deck. Which is empty. And has nothing on it.

CNN helpfully explains: "There's certainly no evidence that anyone barbecued or lounged on the house's deck; it seems to be entirely empty."

Yes, yes it does.
*Either eloquently or ridiculously. You decide.

May 3, 2010

In which I talk trash (mildly) with Jack Welch

How bad are my beloved Baltimore Orioles this year?

I know we're only 25 games into the Major League Baseball season, but the O's have a .280 winning percentage, which is the worst record in the American League, and bad enough that it probably can't reasonably be called a "winning" percentage.

To help put that in perspective, the team with the worst record in the National League, the Houston Astros, began the season by losing eight consecutive games (which is a winning percentage of roughly .000) and have now lost their last six games... and they are still doing better than the Orioles.

This has made me a little defensive about my Birds.

So on Friday, I took umbrage when I saw that Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric and (as his website notes) the man Fortune magazine called "Manager of the Century," was using his Twitter account to talk smack about his favorite team's upcoming games:

Unfortunately, I was pretty sure he was right: The Red Sox probably would do what they usually do when they come to Baltimore, and beat the tar out of the Orioles. But still, I made a mental note

And then, something magical, nay, miraculous happened.

Friday, the Orioles won, 5-4.

Saturday, they won again, 12-9, for their third win of the season against the Sox and sixth win overall. (Sort of a good news-bad news situation when you're a month into the baseball season and half of your wins have come against the Red Sox.)

And then, Sunday, the Birds completed the sweep, winning a 3-2 extra-inning thriller.

Which immediately reminded me of Jack Welch's tweet. So just for fun, I got on my BlackBerry and wrote:
I normally don't engage in trash-talk with corporate titans, but how often would I get a chance like this? (The last time the Orioles swept the Sox in Baltimore was 1998.) And, to my credit, I thought I showed great restraint in not pointing out that he spelled the word hapless with an extra s. Besides, what are the odds the great Jack Welch would even see my tweet?

Pretty good, as it turns out:
Thank you, Mr. Welch. And, may I just say, Orioles Magic! Feel it happen.