Friday, November 30, 2007

New & Improved

The staff has put in some work to spiffy up the blog and we're sure you'll love the new look.
Navigation is easier as well and the blog list has been updated (look for more to come).
We'll also be experimenting with some more multimedia content.
On that note, it gives great pleasure to provide this gem, a rare demo by The Swim. Enjoy.
The Swim - Beautiful Endeavor
They're playing Dec. 1 at Che's Lounge, so anyone in Tucson, go on down and check 'em out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I just got back from watching Warren Miller's latest film down at the Fox Theatre (isn't it strange that I'd never been there before, then attended two events in three days? Monday's Iron & Wine show was incredible!).
I've long been a fan of his ski and snowboard films, which isn't a surprise considering he basically invented the genre. But for me it's always been more about Miller's narrative abilities and how he infuses his films with a great energy, taken from his simple mantra: If you don't do it this year, you'll be one year older when you do.
I haven't skied in nearly 11 years. Writing that, it kinda pains me that it's been so long. It was a trip during Christmas break my senior year of high school, out to New Mexico with the pop and the bro, to crash with friends in Farmington (shithole!) and venture out to the glorious Wolf Creek and the stuck-on-the-side-of-the-road Hesperus. (Coincidentally, the car-ride hours of that same trip were dominated via headphones by my newly acquired Recovering the Satellites album, which would later offer 'Angels of the Silences,' 'Miller's Angels' and 'A Long December' to Miller's Snowriders 2, the first of his films I'd see on the big screen.)
I was never much good. I could get down the not-too-steep hills just fine, but I was never too daring. What I liked most was zipping down fairly flat ground, not having to turn much, just enveloped in the nearly motionless gliding speed. To me, it was kinetic energy at its most peaceful. There's no other way on Earth to move quite like that, and it's absolutely exhilarating.
I learned at Williams Ski Area, an out-of-the-way mountain that was cheap enough and small enough to allow anybody more than enough runs in a day. There just simply weren't any crowds or lines. I still see that whole ski area in my mind clearly - though from a quick search on the 'Net it's apparently now called Elk Ridge Ski Area. But that map is still the same, and I know exactly what it represents.
I miss the feeling -- but skiing is expensive, and I live in the desert, and just a couple weeks after that last ski trip I blew out my left knee, which still doesn't feel completely strong...
Someday again I'll ski -- and that's the overriding inspiration that Miller's films provide.
But I also take away this tremendous spiritual uplift. The photography is gorgeous, the athletes are the best in the world, but Miller without a doubt captures skiing at its essence, which is the simple fact that it exists outside of day-to-day reality. It's an escape, it's pursued feverishly by people who can't be tied down, whose only drive is to go where there's fresh powder. Fresh powder, probably the most powerfully metaphorical playing field in all of sports. Skiing is exploration and escape -- and you're afforded a good bit of each just sitting there in the theatre.
I've now seen at least five of Miller's films on the annual big-screen tour (out of 58 total). It's just a ball of fun (though expensive -- I lucked into a free $20 ticket tonight). Playground was this year's title. There's little better for a pick-me-up as the winter arrives than getting a dose of Miller's quirky philosophy and get-up-and-go mentality. He's truly inspirational, even if you've never touched snow in your life. All he asks is that you grab a little adventure in your life.
See you next year, same time, same place...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Solid proof that Carson Daly is Hollywood's biggest douchebag

I'd long suspected as much, but now this proves it: Daly to defy writers strike.
That asshole isn't worth the weight of his smarmy grin without writers. Since when did an inexplicable habit of bagging starlets before they washed up earn people their own TV shows?

Seriously though. Six gigantic multinational corporations are trying to suffocate thousands upon thousands of hard-working writers even more than they've been for years. Support the writers.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Back to Back to Back to Back

Just try cramming more live music into a weekend. (I know it can be done, but it's definitely a special case.)

Start off Thursday with the Swim opening for Ted Leo & The Pharmacists. Watch your friends on stage opening for one of their heroes. Then enjoy the fantastic, fast and frenetic songs of one of rock's great unheralded songwriters.

Chill at home Friday before heading out to catch another of the rare Fourkiller Flats shows. Wish you had a ride home, knowing that whiskey drinking is the most effective and appropriate way to absorb the wailing, gravely twang of the Flats. Listen to mostly unrecorded songs, including one in all likelihood played for the first time live, thinking all the while that it's definitely time for a new album (right, gentlemen?).

Decide that a bright and beautiful Saturday in the mid-80s is perfect for sitting in the park, celebrating a used book store that's not only survived for 30 years, but grown and grown and grown and inevitably become an integral part of your own life. Settle in with a chicken quesadilla on a blanket front and center while a bunch of old blues session players crank out pitch-perfect, passionate tunes.

Then let Tucson's favorite sons and their best mariachi friends let loose with what must be about the best of the dozen or so shows of theirs you've taken in. Remember how you first saw Calexico with maybe a couple hundred people stuffed into an art gallery by the railroad tracks, must've been 1999 or 2000. Remember how they seemed to have a pedal for the passing train, and how they set the room on fire. Remember how on three or four albums since those same musicians captured a hell of a lot more attention and without a doubt became one of the world's greatest bands. Sit in anticipation for a particular song, a Bob Dylan cover you'd been soaking in for months, with several different bootleg recordings, before finally hearing them back Willie Nelson on "Senor." Celebrate as the trumpets bellow loud and mysterious. Shimmy and sway as the show stretches many songs and songs and songs afterwards. Depart with a poster and autographs, and the knowledge that such musical moments are priceless.

Let Sunday evolve slowly, but make sure to head downtown in time to catch the Skeletor parade. Mosey from there on over to the Ween show. Marvel at how packed the Rialto Theatre is, betting that none of the dozens of shoes you've seen there in the past several years had more people. Rock out with one of the strangest bands around. Ponder how despite never being fully joking or fully serious they've developed such a passionate following. Wish you knew a few more of their songs other than the Mollusk album.

Practically stagger out of the show, pausing to take in the painted masses and assorted weirdos passing by, hell-bent on some damn mischief or another. Let the fading crowd take over your thoughts, and provide the cinematic background for reflection on a weekend full of energy and curveball vitality and stupifying humanity, and sounds, wonderfully delivered sounds, that lodge themselves deep, as they should, offering continual refuge in the coming days and weeks from the numbing work and tasks that exist apart from the nights and the bands and the revelry and the nirvana of a well-orchestrated weekend.

Celebrate it all, and wait for the next round...