Saturday, October 29, 2005

recent releases: My Morning Jacket, Franz Ferdinand, Ryan Adams

A few recent releases from October have caught my attention recently. Full reviews forthcoming.

My Morning Jacket

file under: the Band + the Pixies + Neil Young x Radiohead

Franz Ferdinand
You Could Have It So Much Better

file under: [the Kinks x 10 (+ lyrical Beatles)] / David Bowie

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
Jacksonville City Nights

file under: Johnny Cash + [(Emmylou Harris/ Loretta Lynn)] x (.5 Grateful Dead)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Buckethead 10/27 @ The Recher Theatre in Towson, MD

I had the chance to see the notorious Buckethead at the Recher on October 27. Known in all guitar circles as a virtuoso, and working with the ill-fated Guns 'n Roses reincarnation within the past few years, Buckethead has gotten quite a reputation as an enigmatic and odd player with undeniable talent (on his official bio he claims to have been raised by chickens).

Recently, my buddy
Adspar mentioned on his blog that, in his opinion, Stevie Ray Vaughn is the greatest guitar player ever. I can't prove one way or the other, but I would have to admit Buckethead for consideration. Even though I haven't seen any pure world-class guitar players, such as Steve Vai or Joe Satriani, Buckethead easily blows away everyone I've seen, and I would have a hard time believing even Stevie Ray could play some of the stuff Buckethead can play. My friends and I stood drooling in awe for the entire show while he played. He's just a disgustingly amazing player.

Adding to the mysterious aura of Buckethead is the unconfirmed rumor that he's actually in his 40 or 50's. I tend to think this is quite probable, as it would explain both his constant appearance in costume, and, more importantly, just how insanely talented he is.

a Buckethead FAQ

Buckethead played with a simple stage setup: he had a drummer and a bassist, and that was pretty much it. The three of them played for more than an hour, then played another half-hour encore. Mixing some blues, acoustic guitar, and even a banjo into a set dominated by classic rock and some metal shredding, his versatility, speed, and precision were incredible to behold.

What makes Buckethead a freak of nature is due, in great part, to his sheer size. Standing at least 6'8, he towers around 7 feet with his ridiculous bucket costume piece. Being such a large dude, he also has monster-sized hands. Any guitarist will tell you that this can be an unfair advantage, and Buckethead uses his natural gifts to an embarrassing degree. He would play notes so quickly that it would be impossible for the untrained ear to catch up, which is what happened to me often. Seeing him hammer notes in quick succession, across 5 frets with the greatest of ease, made everyone watching incredibly jealous and star-struck. Everytime he crushed the guitar with a devastating solo, you could hear people turn to their buddies and say "That's fucking incredible... he's so sick" over and over again. And he was.

Buckethead's Official Site

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

bad spelling is infuriating

Especially in a published work that costs a consumer hard-earned cash. In this case, the consumer was me, and I'm not happy.

I was at Barnes and Noble yesterday and picked out a history book on the Secret Service, since I'm a history nerd. Titled The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency, I figured this book was worth the bargain bin price of $7.98. I was sorely mistaken. After getting home, I figured I would read the first 10 pages to get a feel for it. Like a bat out of hell, on page 5, the following exercise in editing futility takes place:

"Scottish immigrant Allan Pinkerton, a tough, savvy investigator who had founded the first financially successful private detective agency in the United Stated [sic] . . . was working on a criminal case in Baltimore in 1861 when he claimed to have 'inadvertently' discovered a plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln." (pp. 4-5)

Are you fucking kidding me? Both the author and the editor didn't see that glaring typo? It's clear that these scholarly intellectuals decided a brisk run through SpellCheck would dominate any and all errors in the book, even words that are technically spelled correctly but clandestinely survive in the form of a blatant typo. What in the devil is the United Stated? I've never heard of this apparently new nation-verb.

What makes this worse is that it ruins an otherwise interesting geek-fact I would have enjoyed (the discovery of the assassination plot happened in Baltimore, and the Pinkerton fellow mentioned is associated with the well-known security company that Weezer references by way of the title to their second album: Pinkerton).

I did some further research on the book, and as it turns out, the rest of it is so chock full of mistakes and typos that some readers, instead of throwing it away, continued reading just to see how many errors they could ultimately find. Wonderful.

Luckily I kept the receipt to this sucker and I'll be making an exchange in the near future.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

sweeping changes start in the O's front office, MySpace page

Here is a good article on the rather drastic changes which have occured after Mike Flanagan was given more outward authority in the Baltimore Orioles front office. This could be the start, hopefully, of a successful offseason in the free agent market.

Also, here is my MySpace page. I'm probably not going to add anything to it, but it allows me additional room for a more extensive list of favorite bands, movies, TV shows, books, etc.

I currently have 0 friends.

On the set of The Wire

I spent several hours yesterday on the set of The Wire, and it was a very cool experience. While I could see how it could get boring as an assistant or some other similar position, doing work as an extra was worthwhile, and I want to do it again.
Getting There

The day started off early, as my brother and I got to the location at 6:30 am. There were huge trailers set up all along the side of the street, and I got out of the car and wandered around for a bit, hoping to find someone who could tell me where I should go. There were a couple of huge, white vans, and it turned out the second one I tried asking was the van for the extras. I got in with three other girls, and we were whisked away to a church, where the extras were meeting before heading over to the on-location shoot.

As I walked into the foyer of the church, it became painfully obvious that I was firmly in the minority, ethnically speaking. I was one of exactly two white people (but to be fair, I am technically Hispanic-Caucasian), as the rest of the 20-25 extras and crew members were of the African-American persuasion. The only other Caucasian was a very short, older woman in her late fifties or early sixties, with slightly curly blonde hair. She was having some makeup applied by the makeup girl, and I noticed that she had the look of a white trailer trash junkie. It was appropriately fitting, then, that she would go on to play what appeared to be junkie buying drugs from some street kids throughout the entire day's shoot. She later told me that it was just her second day overall of filming; I'm not sure if both days would account for scenes for the same episode (The Wire is well-known for featuring a veritable cornucopia of characters, broken down into
groups such as "The Law," "The Street," "The Hall", "The Port," etc. on the official website) .

I checked in with the lady in charge of the extras, and she checked my name off a list, saying "Ok good, you're here... you're going to be one of the drivers." As it turns out, the extras there were divided into pedestrians, drivers, and junkies, with about 6 pedestrians, 5 drivers, a handful of junkies and some miscellaneous characters (why does that sound like a bad urban nursery rhyme or limerick?).

All of the scenes I witnessed being filmed were, without a doubt, for plot developments involving "The Street." We spent the whole day filming at an intersection
near Greenmount Street and Barclay Street in North Baltimore.

The Bogey Car

After getting my brother and our car, we drove to the location and waited for our cues. The first scene of the day was a rather simple one, as it was a set shot of a couple minor characters crossing the street. The most complicated thing about the entire shot was the camera set-up, as it was set on some rails and called for a rolling shot of the street, following the characters as they crossed. The drivers would then drive their cars intermittently, emulating a normal real-life scene (obviously). We were the second car on one side of the street, with two other drivers waiting for their cues on the other side.

The very first take was ruined in a funny manner; well, at least I got a huge kick out of it. As soon as the crew and director yelled "Rolling!," a normal civilian car came out of nowhere, apparently failing to see the neon orange cones which were placed up the street for the simple purpose of deterring normal civilian cars from coming out of nowhere to ruin a scene (this particular instance was all caught on film, much to the director's chagrin). It was a crappy old beige 1980-something car, and once the dude realized he had stumbled on the set, he awkwardly stopped in the middle of intersection. It was at this point that I heard someone say, "We got a bogey," and someone else answered, "Yep, bogey" over his headset. The director yelled "Cutting!" as soon as this happened, and the fantastically confused driver of the interrupting vehicle started getting his bearings straight and slowly drove off.

The assistant who was giving the drivers their cues then spoke into his headset mike and said, "Ok, we're going to have to re-start the scene because of that stupid bogey car." Partly because of the professional and almost bored tone of the assistant (I'm sure this has happened dozens of times to them), mainly because of the desperately confused look on the bogey car driver's face, and mostly due to how many times people kept mentioning "bogey" and "the bogey car," I of course found all of this uproariously funny. But that's just me.

The Jetta's Date with Destiny

As it turns out, there's a decent chance that the silver Delgado Jetta will end up in one scene, as we did three takes, with the last one seeming to come out well (as it turned out, three takes was on the low end of resets and takes for one scene). The shot in question was done two scenes after The Bogey Car Scene (aka the most generic city scene ever). The scene itself featured what looked to be a new quasi-main character, a tall, lanky black man with dreadlocks (at first I thought it might be
Omar, but I'm pretty sure the man in question is a different actor/character). Tall Lanky Dude was featured with his back to a black SVU, talking in a somewhat impassionate manner to one of the street thugs. There were a total of 2 drivers for the scene, and we were the first to go. One of the assistants would cue us to drive a few seconds after the scene would start shooting, and after the third take, the director seemed to be happy with it and the crew moved on to the next scene.

I overheard mention that the day's scenes were for Episode 3 of the upcoming new season, so I guess we'll see if the Jetta makes it onto high-end cable television (it's also possible you might be able to see me in the shot, depending on which camera angles they use).

"Let's do it again!"

I was also very interested by the whole process of shooting a TV series, even the more boring aspects like watching the crew position the cameras and the directors working with the actors. All of the details were terribly interesting to me, even though most people wouldn't be interested in the slightest bit (just like I would be absolutely fascinated if I ever had the chance to watch one of my favorite bands produce a record - I would be as happy as an overweight kid in a candy factory just watching the band fuck up a song and have to do another take in total frustration).

It's also noteworthy that the top 5 phrases shouted by the crew are:

1. "Rolling!'
2. "Action!"
3. "Cutting!"/"Cut it!"
4. "Let's do it again!"
5. "Re-start!"

As anyone can tell, shooting scenes for TV series and films can feature a great deal of takes until the scene is right (one of the scenes was done at least 8 times before the directors were satisfied).

I'm more than happy I took part in the shooting, no matter how insignificant my part was. I look forward to doing it again, whether for The Wire or maybe another show or movie, in the near future.

More blogs about The Wire.