Short Takes – September 2005

| September 1, 2005

Hello, my friends, it’s September, back to school, and almost time to seek winter harbor. It’s not quite there, but it is about the season where we decide where we’ll put in for the winter, and almost as importantly what will entertain us while we’re there. Let’s see…
First TV new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. The tag line on the website is “Deep Down You Know You’re Him.” I see him in almost everyone but myself, but I get what they’re saying. It is universal, the experience that show gives, provoking cringes only a chiropractor could relieve. Hooray for Larry David. Looking through the fall schedule, it’s hard not to be drawn to My Name Is Earl on NBC. The premise of a man straightening out his life and apologizing for his wrongs has a lot of potential, at least, and the name “Earl” makes me giggle for no reason. UPN has Everybody Hates Chris, a semi autobiographical sitcom about comedian Chris Rock’s childhood that should at least be different. Please? For those of you who prefer your shows an hour long (what?) and thought-provoking, there is plenty of scary dark to be had. Get back to your X-File roots and try ABC’s Invasion, CBS’s Threshold, or NBC’s Surface. Bad and alien things are happening, my friends, and somebody’s got to track them! You can watch.
The one show to watch in September if you see no other? Just watch Martha on The Apprentice and get it over with. Then when the inevitable mimicking at the water cooler comes about you can join in like all the other kids.
I know I mentioned the new Sufjan Stevens a couple of months back when it was about to come out, but it is better than I had ever dreamed it would be. Just so you know, and so you are not sitting around with a giant hole in your life that could be filled. I care. On to new music. Iron and Wine and Calexico released the 7-track offering In The Reins on Overcoat Records. Good! It’s like adding a little soda to your whiskey, same stuff, just a little brighter. The Beat Farmers (or “The Farmers” as they will insist on reuniting as) are together again, with Loaded on Clarence Records. It sounds like a cliché, but they parted and absorbed a wider range of musical influences that is reflected in the unusual breadth of this album. That happens, right? Heck, twenty years is a lot to bring back to the studio, and it’s all there. For a smarter rock and roll/pop album of goodness find yourself Porchsleeper’s self titled new stuff. They’ve tweaked and tried harder, and this is really good, appealing without compromise music. Good for you, Porchsleeper! And good for us.
The one must have for September is This is Americana, Vol. 2. For a couple of bucks you get a lot of great music, and it is a fundraiser for the National Association of Recording Merchandising Scholarship Fund. We need more kids to make some more music for goodness sakes!
While we savor the last flush of summer and prepare for a change in season (it sounds like I live in a log cabin. I’m Little Critic on the Prairie) those moving pictures start to mean more to me. No summer blockbusters needed, send me mentally back to school… Let’s look at some small films that may soon be at a theater near you, or in fact may take a while as they wind their way through the independent theater circuit. A couple of years ago I read something on a Greek film the title of which translated to Hard Goodbyes: My Father. I like a Greek film from time to time, and this sounded great, a little boy’s relationship with his father hinging on the shared anticipation of the moonwalk in 1969. The thing shows in the United States about twice a month in one city or another, but on September 16th it will open in New York at the Village East Cinemas. Keep an eye out for this one from first time director Penny Panayotopoulou and see it if you can. It keeps chugging along getting seen and well reviewed wherever it lands. If you live in Utah you can cruise Mobsters and Mormons (Halestorm), rated PG (it is Utah, after all) and full of those crazy Italians in the witness protection program. In Utah! I wonder if they’ll fit in… The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio is Julianne Moore’s latest. Part of me wishes she would never ever play a ’50s housewife again, but the rest of me says “bring it on, you’re great at that!” This time Moore is playing a mother with too many mouths to feed who makes a career of winning jingle contests. Cute! At least we may see the cheerful side of Moore’s mother persona.
You can only make it to one show in September? Well la di da, aren’t you busy? It’s OK, go see Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (Warner Brothers). It’s going to be great for preplanning and getting that Halloween costume together ahead of time this year!
That’s all for the time being. Go get your cider, take a color tour, and for heaven’s sake indulge in what the entertainment industry has to offer us. Although it goes without saying I tip my music-loving hat to the Gulf Coast and pray that the recovery there is swift and as complete as it can be. There’s a world of American music we won’t hear for awhile due to the storm. Until then I remain thinking of you, and on the edge of my seat.

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