Plays and Tunes and Planets and Craps (Not that Kind)

We went over to Katelin’s school last night for her fall theatre performance. They offered a series of nine short (mostly) comedic plays loosely connected under the theme of “Missed Connections.” Katelin and her room-mate did a great job with a rapid-fire conversational piece called “The Blueberry Hill Accord,” in which two long-time friends attempt to end their relationship, before realizing that it would be easier and safer to maintain the status quo than to upset their karmic apple carts. It was a lovely production, with some really exceptional acting by many of the students.

I’m having another forage through this month’s downloads from eMusic, with a little bit of new mixed in with a little bit of old. On the former front, I’m enjoying Shriekback‘s Glory Bumps and Ween‘s La Cucaracha. The Shriekback record is their strongest one since Big Night Music, and it’s filled with all the same sorts of glanky, gunky, subterranean synths and sonics, supported Barry Andrews’ big, deep voice to lovely effect. Andrews’ long-ago XTC band-mate Andy Partridge provides guitars on this album, and it’s nice to hear them working together again. Ween’s album is their first studio disc in some five years, and it’s got some brilliant, immediately appealing high points, but also some of the worst bits they’ve ever recorded. They are brilliant song-stylists, and can work in just about genre or idiom they choose, but some genres (jam band white-boy reggae or Jimmy Buffett-flavored tropical party music, for instance) are just so bad that even parodies of them are painful. I think their best records have been the ones with less style-frapping than this one offers, but with some selected fast forwarding and track skipping, this is still a worthy listen. My new-(ish, to me) band listening includes 2006’s Nux Vomica by The Veils, and the very recent All Hour Cymbals by Yeasayer. The Veils are fronted by Barry Andrews’ son, Finn Andrews, who possesses one of those fascinating, seldom-heard voices that’s weird and off-putting at first, then becomes magical. He deploys it a collection of bracing, elaborately arranged tunes that ring and resonate like something out of Nick Cave’s Tender Prey era. Yeasayer are an interesting young group from Brooklyn who describe their music as “Middle Eastern-Psych-Pop-Snap-Gospel.” I’ll buy that.

On a space front, I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to rise early and look to the East and then up, where you can get a spectacular view of Venus, Saturn and Mars, all lined up between about 30 degrees and 100 degrees of the eastern horizon, at least where I am. Also, Comet Holmes is visible in Perseus in the evening; consult Heavens Above and input your location to figure out exactly where to look. When the air is bright and clear and cold and crisp as it often is at this time of year, you can get some amazing views of the great above and beyond.

Finally, re: The Craps (not that kind) . . . we’re going gambling this weekend with a gift certificate Marcia won in a silent auction some months ago. Watch for her rolling the bones at a craps table near you, if you’re into that sort of thing, or good at it. As she is.

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