The Magnetic Fields' "69 Love Songs." The group, alternately calling
themselves the Amazing Merritt Singers or the Brill Building Flingers,
were essentially a trio, but with several guest musicians sitting in
on different songs. They were very charming with excellent stage
banter, especially the keyboard player, dressed in in stylish drag,
who gave some songs hilarious rambling introductions during the
occasionally long waits when retrieving drunken guest musicians or
recruiting singers. Many of the songs were performed karaoke style by
members of the audience (some with rehearsal, some without) and those
were some of the best performances. I don't normally expect quality
singing from the peanut gallery, but there was something really
marvelous about big fans performing their favorite Stephin Merritt
songs. We stayed for the for the first third, then left to hit the
triple birthday party of some librarian friends nearby, where the
excellent times continued.
The next day, I celebrated Chinese New Year with leftovers from New
Noodle Heaven, then got to work on Valentine's Day dinner. First up
was a big carrot cake with cream cheese icing. The frosting was so
delicious that it was positively painful not to steal a slice before
dinner. K. joined me in the kitchen to help prepare our traditional
Valentine's Day crabcakes, which were delightful as always, although I
had a little trouble focusing on them because I knew the carrot cake
was waiting in the wings. I probably should have just dropped my
normal rule against eating dessert before dinner. Fortunately, we'll
have the opportunity to repeat the meal with leftovers tonight.
With dinner, we watched the movie The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. SPOILERS FOLLOW.
As a big Michael Chabon fan, I was shocked when I found out this movie
had made it to DVD without my noticing. I gather it made a modest
debut on the film festival circuit, but never found a distributor, and
it's not hard to see why. In the novel, the main character primarily
exists through his first person narration, so even with a voiceover,
it would have taken an excellent actor to breathe life into it.
Sadly, Jon Foster (from the sitcom Accidentally on Purpose) wasn't
able to do it. Far more damaging was the fact the filmmakers changed
it from a coming out story to a limp three-way love triangle. Art's
gay love interest was dropped from the story, so Cleveland (played
very well by Peter Saarsgaard) was turned bisexual and Jane (played
somewhat weakly by Sienna Miller) was expanded to full-on love
interest. And with the extra time they gained from dropping most of
gay storyline, they decided to inflate the role of Art's gangster
father, which was a silly, mildly diverting subplot at best in the
novel, and not worthy of the attention the film gave it. Maybe I'm
just too attached to the book, but I feel like the movie ruined the
story completely. I should have just rented Wonder Boys, with it's
terrible miscasting of Michael Douglass, instead. At least Curtis
Hanson stayed fairly true to the source material.
And then I got into work this morning to find that my work is now
irritatingly blocking both Livejournal and Facebook, so I'm posting
this remotely and blindly. Grrrr....