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FEBRUARY 7, 2009   

That's entertainment

Laurie Anderson

Detail of Laurie Anderson concert ticketThe Laurie Anderson live show Burning Leaves was quite an experience. She came onto a stage that was empty except for small candles scattered across the floor and a keyboard, laptop and two amps in the center. Spotlights highlighted her at center stage, their beams made visible by a light curtain of smoke (burning leaves?). Other than an occasional variation in the color or number of spotlights, that's all there was to see.

For an hour and half she stood and talked. Mostly about her life, which sounds as far from the typical as one could get and still be considered sane. From breaking her back as a child by impulsively trying a flip off a diving board to hitch-hiking alone to the north pole to recently getting a job at McDonald's to see what it's like.

The audience—close to a thousand of us—was mesmerized by her voice and her presence. At times she electronically altered the sound to be deep and masculine, and I had to keep reminding myself that it was the same person. Once in a while she accompanied herself with haunting notes on a violin.

The stories she told went from fable to matter-of-fact, separated only by a pause of a few seconds, a lighting change, and a different electronic background track. No introductions or explanations were offered or needed.

How were they connected? Were they true? What's her point? These questions came and went in my mind, as I'm sure they did in others'.

I've decided it doesn't matter. The evening was a gripping encounter with someone who deliberately opens herself to all sort of experiences and then shares her tales with the rest of us who only dream of being so daring.

Vicky Christina Barcelona

Since the Laurie Anderson show ended fairly early we had time to watch one of our Netflix DVDs when we got home. We chose Vicky Christina Barcelona, Woody Allen's latest, partly because Barcelona is one of those cities we've visited and would love to return to. The film gives you a glimpse of many of the city's memorable sights, especially several of Gaudi's architectural highlights, but not enough.

Architecture aside it's a light romance, a story all about sex and love told in an almost puritanical way. For a plot whose central element is the seduction of two American tourists by a Spanish painter, leading to a menage-a-trois with his ex-wife, it's oddly non-sensual.

Here are some of the film's plot keywords from the Internet Movie Database:

  • Lesbianism
  • Friendship
  • Ménage À Trois
  • Group Sex
  • Lesbian Kiss
  • Affair
  • Sex
  • Beautiful Woman
  • Bisexual
  • Infidelity
  • Threesome
  • Wine

Steamy stuff, huh? Yet the resulting movie is rated PG-13 for its mature theme only. There is very little skin shown, the sex is all off-camera and the language is cleaner than what you'd hear in the average junior high schoolyard.

Do I sound disappointed? Well, OK, maybe a little. But I still enjoyed the film for what it is, despite what it isn't.

Girl Talk

Girl Talk album artworkAnd moving right into a music recommendation, Feed the Animals by Girl Talk is right now going into my car for today's road trip to Dayton.

Girl Talk is Gregg Gillis, a guy from PIttsburgh who studied Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. He's now a DJ who creates high-energy mashups combining modern hiphop with rock classics. You have to like hiphop with its R-rated language and mature themes but don't need to be a fan of Classic Rock to enjoy Girl Talk.

You can hear him on MySpace and his album is a pay-what-you-want download. Give it a listen.

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