Your Sister Cried

2 11 2007

Place Settings
The Ex and I separated in October 2004. I haven’t written much about him here, and that probably seems odd. It seems odd to me. After all, we were together for six-and-a-half years. Plus, I’ve posted repeatedly about the Soulmate-Who-Got-Away (SWGA), the man I fell for twice—once before I ever met the Ex and once after our separation.

But SWGA is probably the man I’ll always think of as the love of my life. He‘s been the “problem” I needed to resolve for the past couple of years, so I’ve written about him. I haven’t had the same need to write about the Ex, I guess.

That said, I absolutely loved the Ex, too. (And I still do.) It was a different kind of love, of course—a more adult, less dizzying kind of love. When I was with SWGA, I always felt like I was under the influence of some powerful chemical. With the Ex, it seemed like we’d used our brains and decided to be together. Unfortunately, it just didn’t always seem like we’d necessarily made a good decision….

Anyway, a year ago this past Wednesday (yup, on Halloween), the Ex got married. To a woman. I passed through some of the usual your-ex-is-moving-on feelings when he told me. I was jealous that he’d found someone else, and so easily. I was miffed that I hadn’t found someone else. I knew it meant he’d never play a large role in my life again. Ever.

I also passed through some fairly unusual your-ex-is-moving-on feelings. Was the Ex straight? Had he been straight when we were together? Had I been an experiment? Did his new life cast our six-plus years in a different light?

I eventually got a grip, though. Although the Ex had self-identified as gay when we met, I knew he’d dated women—and not all that long ago. So he probably wasn’t 100% gay. But he definitely wasn’t 100% straight, either. When I really thought about our time together, I knew we’d had something. I knew he’d been attracted to me. I knew he’d loved me. I was no experiment.

I wasn’t invited to the wedding, and I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to go. The Ex and I were right, I suppose, to separate. But it just made no sense to me that he’d moved on so quickly. And I certainly didn’t think he should spend the rest of his life as a straight man. I hoped he hadn’t trapped himself in a miserable life. I wanted him to be happy, but I just didn’t see how this marriage would work for a lifetime.

A year later, I feel pretty much the same.

When I think about the Ex’s wedding—and I guess I’ll think about it every Halloween now—I think of “Your Sister Cried,” a song written by Fred Eaglesmith (and covered beautifully by Mary Gauthier). I follow along with the song, imagining that I went to the Halloween wedding, with the Ex’s sister, both of us knowing that something terribly wrong had happened:

Well, I stared out of the windshield into the rain so light
And I turned on my dims, and somebody flashed me their brights
And I reached over and turned the radio way down low
Your sister cried all the way home

Lightning crashed, and the road shone like a mirror
A dog came out of the ditch, then he disappeared
And I remembered a conversation we once had on the phone
Your sister cried all the way home

I’ll never know how you got into such a mess
Why do the bridesmaids all have to wear the same dress?
Everybody said you looked real good
But I think you looked stoned

Your sister cried all the way home
Your sister cried all the way home
Your sister cried all the way home
Your sister cried all the way home

Tonight, I miss the Ex.


Ongir Pengar

1 11 2007

When I was a kid, growing up in rural northeastern Oklahoma, I would look through atlases and play with my globe, imagining all the exotic places I’d visit when I grew up. As I’ve mentioned before, during that time, I developed a real crush on New Zealand. But I dreamed of lots of other places, too: Denmark, Uruguay, Liechtenstein.

And the Faroe Islands.

The Faroes are a group of islands between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. They’re sort of midway between Iceland, Scotland, and Norway. Although officially a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, the Faroes are mostly autonomous. Fewer than 50,000 people live in the Faroes, and the economy is dominated by the fishing industry. The Faroes also have their fair share of sheep.

I know all that, by the way, because of the various term papers I wrote in school about the Faroe Islands. (I was a quirky kid, ok?) And, oh, because I just glanced at the Wikipedia entry for the Faroes.

Anyway, at some point along the way, I started to be interested in Faroese pop music. (I’m a quirky adult, ok?) For a relatively sparsely populated place, the Faroes have produced a lot of good pop music. These days, I’m listening to good, recent albums from Eivør Pálsdóttir, a rootsy balladeer; Páll Finnur Páll, a rock band with a social conscience; and Teitur Lassen, a singer-songwriter.

Of the three, Teitur, as he’s known, may be the most accessible (and most familiar) to American ears. His debut album, 2003’s Poetry & Airplanes, was amazingly accomplished, and it attracted the attention of John Mayer, who championed the album. Teitur’s lyrics are smart, and his English seems to be better than mine. Plus, he has a real way with melancholy, and that’s always appealing (to the lovelorn me, anyway). Teitur’s second album, 2006’s Stay Under the Stars, was also quite good.

This year, Teitur released Káta Hornið, his first album in Faroese. The album is available on iTunes, and I’ve really been enjoying it. If you’re adventurous, or even just curious about what Faroese sounds like, I’d recommend it. Now there’s a video for “Ongir Pengar,” one of the songs on Káta Hornið. Directed by Marianna Mørkøre and Maria Arnell, it was filmed at an abandoned salt silo in the Faroes. I think the video is an awfully cool piece of work.


15 10 2007

When Assassins, the Stephen Sondheim musical, opened off-Broadway in 1990, I was intrigued. How could it work? Would audiences really respond to a musical in which the principal characters were presidential assassins (or would-be assassins)? What would these characters have to say? How could the show not be perverse and macabre?

There were a lot of other skeptics, of course, and that iteration of the show didn’t make it to Broadway. I did purchase the cast recording, though, and I fell for it. The music—propelled by a sort of carnival theme—stayed with me. And just as importantly, I suppose, I decided that the characters had quite a bit to say. About disenchantment and loss. About social ills. About what America looks like from a very particular, skewed point of view.

When a new production 0f Assassins finally made it to Broadway in 2004, I really wanted to be there. Neil Patrick Harris (née Doogie Howser, M.D.) played Lee Harvey Oswald! But I just never got my act together, and soon Assassins was gone. I’ll be kicking myself for that for a long time…. Once again, though, I picked up the cast recording. The music still worked for me. (For what it’s worth, I prefer the recording of the 1991 Off-Broadway cast to the recording of the 2004 Broadway revival cast. On either, check out the bizarre “Ballad of Guiteau,” with its infectious refrain of “I am going to the Lordy.”)

So when the Arden Theatre, one of Philly’s best companies, announced that it was going to open its 2007-08 season with Assassins, I was psyched. And on Thursday night, two friends and I caught a performance. If you’re in Philly, I highly recommend the show. I’m sure the cast—with an exception or two—wasn’t quite Broadway-level, but I smiled, enjoyed the music, and found myself experiencing the peculiar, startling brand of Americana championed by Assassins.

Two of the actors really appealed to me. Mary Martello ably provided comic relief with her ditzy Sara Jane Moore (one of two would-be assassins of Gerald Ford). But it was Scott Greer as Sam Byck—the angry, Santa-suited would-be assassin of Richard Nixon—that I’ll best remember. In one of the best scenes in the musical, Byck tape records a message to Leonard Bernstein, telling the musical giant that what the world really needs is more love songs. Greer’s Byck is just a regular fella, sort of(!), but one who is profoundly and palpably both angry and vulnerable. What the world really needs is more actors like Scott Greer.

Assassins is edgy and wonderful, and I’m glad I—finally—had a chance to experience it.

Wiki Wednesday #25

19 09 2007

Blue Globe
As always, I go to Wikipedia, click on “random article,” and report on the outcome.

Mikołaj Gomółka

Mikołaj Gomółka (born cca. 1535 in Sandomierz, died after April 30, 1591, most pro[b]ably March 5, 1609) was a Polish Renaissance composer, member of the royal court of Zygmunt II August, where he was a singer, flautist and trumpeter.

We apparently don’t know that much about Gomółka’s music. According to the full Wikipedia entry, which isn’t that much longer than the portion I quoted above, his only known work is “Melodie na psałterz polski, a volume of melodies to all 150 psalms.” I guess that might be a fairly lengthy piece.

What else is there to blog? Well, I guess I could go more macro on you and just talk about Poland…. A few years ago, I went through a phase in which I was especially interested in Polish things. I ate at a Polish restaurant, attended the Polish-American Festival at Philly’s Penns Landing, visited the Polish American Cultural Center, and stopped by the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial. I dreamed about visiting Warsaw.

But then I realized that Poland remained a hotbed of anti-gay sentiment, and my passion for Poland waned. Does that make me shallow?  Maybe I should reconsider?  Maybe the man of my dreams is Polish, and I’m frustrating my ability to meet him?

Unexpectedly, I post again about Céline Dion.

8 09 2007

Back in May, on the occasion of Wiki Wednesday #8, I made a mistake. And I’m here now to correct my grievous error.

WW #8 was about Céline Dion, and I confessed that I wasn’t really a fan. (That’s still true. Sorry, Céline.) I remembered, however, that she did a helluva performance of one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures, “I Finally Found Someone,” at an Academy Awards telecast. In my memory, Dion was filling in for an ailing Barbra Streisand, who had recorded the song with Bryan Adams for The Mirror Has Two Faces.

That’s not quite how it happened, though. Streisand, probably owing to her legendary stage fright, had actually opted not to sing “I Finally Found Someone” for the March 1997 Oscar show. In light of Streisand’s decision, Natalie Cole was asked to perform the song (with trumpeter Arturo Sandoval). Dion—who was on site to sing “Because You Loved Me” from Up Close & Personal—stepped in at the last minute to replace an ailing Cole. How could I have forgotten that? Actually, how is it that I remembered as much of this as I did?! (By the way, Streisand, who briefly considered filling in for Cole, was in the restroom when Dion performed. Oops.)

And since everything from the history of mankind is now on YouTube, I can bring you the video of Dion’s performance of the oh-so-treacly-but-oh-so-delicious “I Finally Found Someone.” As you’ll see, she’s so new to the song that she has the sheet music in front of her. Despite that, she brought the house down.

A Magic Moment on Saving Grace

27 08 2007

Holly Hunter
Despite the somewhat middling reviews, I’ve really fallen for TNT’s Saving Grace. The exquisite Holly Hunnter stars as Grace Hanadarko, a hard-drinking, hard-living Oklahoma City homicide detective who has to contend with a redneck guardian angel named Earl. I had some doubts about the Joan of Arcadia-meets-um-My Name Is Earl plot, but I’m really sold on the show. It’s not a religious show, at all, but it’s asking some big questions about how we ought to live our lives.

Plus, the show is set in Oklahoma. Some Oklahomans don’t care for the sex, booze, and rock’n’roll in Grace’s life, but not all of us Okies spend our Wednesday nights at Bible study, you know? Anyway, Hunter is as watchable as ever. And if you like handsome men, I’d happily recommend Kenny Johnson, who stars as Grace’s police partner/lover Ham Dewey. Or, for that matter, Bailey Chase, who stars as Butch Ada, a fellow detective. Meow. (Many of the characters, by the way, have names that evoke actual Oklahoma towns.)

But none of that, really, was supposed to be the subject of this post. I wanted to write about some of the music on Grace. The tasty theme music is performed by Everlast, who is one of my favorites. And each episode features eclectic music. Last week’s episode, “Would You Want Me to Tell You,” closed with an incredible cover of “This Magic Moment” by Lou Reed. You can, and should, listen to it here (link via Classic Rock FM). Since I watched that episode, I haven’t been able—or wanted—to get the song out of my head.

Holly Hunter, good plots, Oklahoma, handsome men, cool music… All that’s why I’m watching Saving Grace every Monday night on TNT.

Melody Day

26 08 2007

I haven’t had much going on this week, and, consequently, I haven’t blogged much. I need to do something, though, to get the neurons firing. I’ll work on that.

Meanwhile, I am really enjoying (should it scare me that I almost typed “digging”?) Caribou’s album Andorra, just released this week. I’m not normally all that into electronica, but the opening single, “Melody Day,” is just, um, creamy and delicious. Check out the video:

Sweet, huh?