Monday, August 18, 2008

West Side Story...all weekend long

Most this weekend, I spent either at my son's production of "West Side Story" or driving there or home or waiting around for it to finish. My parents came out for the weekend. The electricity went out in the kitchen. By Sunday afternoon, I pretty much wanted to shoot myself...but it's over now, and let me just emphasize: the show could not have been better. Sean had a fairly small part, but he did really, really some kind of award from the director afterwards, and I think next time he may get a little more to do.

There's a DVD of Sean's production, but I don't have it yet, and anyway, not sure about the ethics of posting other kids faces on the web without their parents permission. (Or if it comes to that, putting my kid's photo up here for anyone to look at.) But here's a clip of the "Jets" song from the movie:

Sean was mostly a Jet, though it was an interesting production, where they tried to make sure that *all* the kids had an opportunity to be a Jet and a Shark, so that they would see both sides of the story. They did a lot of discussion groups about the issues in the play -- racism, sexism, urban violence, neglected kids. I think it was probably a real education just in those learning how to sing and dance like that, amazing.

I had a bunch of review records last month that were fine and interesting enough in their own ways...but not enough to justify all the work that was going into listening to them and trying to write about them. (Badly, for the most part. It's much easier to write about something you love or hate than something you just feel blah about.) Anyway, here's one of them, maybe the last one in a string.

LD & the New Criticism
Amoral Certitudes

US release date: 3 July 2007
UK release date: Available as import

by Jennifer Kelly

LD Beghtol, of Flares, is maybe best known for his work with Magnetic Fields, and particularly for the “Field Guide” he wrote for that 3-disc opus, a song-by-song commentary on Flares member Stephin Merritt’s work. Not many songwriters have their own dedicated explicators, so Beghtol, in his own work, must perform both functions, both writing the filmy, lo-fi tunes that bear his name and, within their lyrics, commenting on them. His statement of purpose, comes right up front, in the brief “Love Theme from LD and TNC”, when he says “It’s the song, not the singer/It’s the bell, not the ringer/It’s the text, not the guy who penned it/Now this one is done/So I’ll end it.” That’s an argument for close textural reading, an approach hinted at in the band name New Criticism. And why not, when there are ironic, self-referential nuggets embedded into nearly every line? “AKA Paradise” one-ups the world-weary with a winking, “Don’t tell me you’ve heard this all before/’Cause I’ve heard that ten too many times,” while short “Light Verse”, sums art and posterity in a sly brace of couplets, “The history of light verse/Is a bitter one, and terse/As life, unlike this song/Simply goes on far too long.” Not all the songs are quite so self-contained and smirky, though. “What You Will,” opens up nicely thanks to the soft country singing of Dana Kletter, while the Lisa Germano cover, “If I Think of Love”, imbues its thesaurus dump of words with wistful feeling. Brainy, intricate and faintly provocative, these are not so much songs as quotation-bracketed essays on pop.

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