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100 Things About Me
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Russia Trip: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5
Best of 2002: Movies, Books, Music.
Best of 2003: Movies.
Best of 2004: Movies, Books.
Best of 2005: Theater, Books.
Best of 2006: Theater, Books, Television.


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Sunday, June 29, 2003

Cinematic Orchestra in Victoria
Gosh, long time no blog, eh? Another 17 movies and 11 days of SIFF to go (but don’t worry, I didn’t see movies every day, so you’ll be spared some of the excruciating details), but this isn’t the moment for that.

Of course, the film festival has been over for two weeks now, and I haven’t blogged for three weeks, so what gives? There are boring reasons—I’ve been really busy at work—but also, thank X, fun ones—I bought an iPod and most of my spare computer minutes have been devoted to loading my little box and perfecting my playlists. I also got a cool assignment at work—mind-blowingly cool, in fact, but also very intimidating and requiring major pre-planning, so that’s also eaten up a lot of time and brain cycles too.

Last weekend, R and I went to the lovely (and I mean that most sincerely) Victoria, B.C. As always, it was a fabulously relaxing weekend of shopping, reading, and lounging—as well as fine, fine dining—but I was also a bit conflicted. After all, it was Harry Potter weekend. Naturally, I picked up my copy first thing Saturday morning, and all weekend I was torn between doing the things I always love to do in Victoria and turning my back on it all and sitting in our hotel room reading the book. (I just finished this morning. That was another conflict—I wanted to stretch it out and savor it, but I was terrified that those much-vaunted surprises were going to be spoiled for me by the evil media.)

Also in Victoria I went to an actual gig—R and I saw the Cinematic Orchestra and LappElectro opening up the Victoria Jazz Festival. I’m a big fan of the Cinematic Orchestra, and I was well up to see them, but the circumstances were far from ideal—it was a late gig (theoretical start time 9:30, so you know what that means) in an outdoor venue (the Market Square), and it was cold—freezing cold by the time the music started. People in the audience were so desperate to avoid hypothermia that most folks were standing around chatting or generally focusing their attention elsewhere as they moved around trying to stay warm. The band(s) were also freezing cold—it’s just not a good sign when musicians leave their instruments to go hold their hands under the heaters, and that was happening all the time.

The support act, LappElectro, were very good, but their music struck me as somehow inessential. Perhaps it was because it seemed almost too easy—band leader and definite focus Daniel Lapp looks a lot like Boris Johnson with a hipster haircut, and he takes “multi-instrumentalist” to the extreme, at times establishing a background sound then playing a riff on his various instruments—saxophone, trumpet, cor anglais (!), violin. It was impressive but a bit soulless. The only time I really felt like he meant it rather than just playing to show us that he could was in the fiddle tune he played—I’m no fan of the fiddle, but there was more of a connection with that song. (He’s also recorded a fiddle CD.) He even sang a song—a really lovely Chet Baker-type tune. Overall, though, it seemed like Lapp and his band suffered from having too many options—rather than reaching out, apparently randomly, to the five or six instruments he had available, it might’ve been better if he stuck to one or two, and instead of developing bands and recording in four musical styles, perhaps he’d get the attention he deserves if he focused on just one.

It was really cold and late by the time Cinematic Orchestra came on, and although they played well, they were a bit jazz wanky when the singer (Niara Scarlett?—they weren’t terribly good at IDing folks) wasn’t on stage. They committed the sin Tony Wilson accused jazz musicians of: amusing themselves rather than the audience. Still, it’s exciting to see a combination of full-on jazz musicians playing original material accompanied by PC’s scratching and J. Swinscoe’s samples. One trivial complaint, though: Why would a band led by a really short guy do a tour T-shirt that has something written on the butt, when that writing will show up around the back of the knees of anyone less than 5’10”?