Sunday, February 25, 2007

5 of 11 "SNL" Castmembers Love Arcade Fire

Reporting from 30 Rockerfeller Center: Want to to know why Arcade Fire ran off the stage during the closing credits of "Saturday Night Live" last night?

Because, in something that is apparently rarely done at Studio 8H, they played a mini-concert for the audience. Making up the front row of the 3-song set was Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Andy Samberg, all looking absolutely transfixed by this band. The Fire has some high-powered fans, for sure, and converted a good chunk of the audience last night as well.

It's odd that my highlight of the show happened off-camera-- at the end of their three-song set, they played "Wake Up", off the stage and in the audience. Amazing. The cameras were rolling, I'm hoping this appears somewhere.

Also a funny tidbit: Five seconds before the show went back live for Arcade Fire's second song, Rainn Wilson looked at lead singer Win Butler and, in a very deadpan voice, asked what happened to his guitar (he had smashed it during their first song). Ha.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I'm Breaking Up With You, Time Magazine

I'm sorry, Time Magazine: it's not me, it's you.

Please don't make this harder than it already is. We've have been through a lot together, but I think it's time we went our separate ways. I'm guessing that I started reading you in my early teens; you were the first serious newsmagazine I ever read (sorry, Highlights). I believe I've read almost every issue since then. You flattered me in December (cf. the cover at right), but I can't return your feelings. I'm walking away the next time I get a note begging me to renew.

Why? Mostly, it's because I just can't keep up with you.

You moved your publication date to Fridays, which presents a problem-- I can't spend my entire weekend reading magazines. On the same day you arrive, I also get my guilty pleasure, Entertainment Weekly, as well as a trio of your competitors, BusinessWeek, The Economist and The Week. Then, on Sunday, the New York Times Magazine drops. I can only read so much and not be a hermit.

Also, you've changed a great deal-- which is not a bad thing, we all change. But I just don't think we're a fit. Since managing editor Rick Stengel came aboard, the cover stories have become intriguing -- but ultimately boring -- and the copydesk needs to take its red pen out more to green the long-winded screeds that permeate the magazine. Worst of all, I can't stand the conservative slate of columnists, like Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and Joe Klein. How about some balance, like the insertion of some progressive columnists?

I'm sorry. I know this hurts, but I just can't do this any more. I hold out hope that one day we can reconnect.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Worth Seeking Out: Robert Chalmers

The offbeat Bristish author Robert Chalmers is a little off the beaten path, but worth seeking out. Think Nick Hornby with an edge, and a dash of the absurd.

In his 2002 debut novel "Who's Who in Hell", the Brit spun a tale of an obituarist putting together a compendium of the world's worst. It's an angsty novel, as the main character struggles to find his niche and grow up. In his latest, which actually came out in 2004 but I only read now, he writes another tale of one finding himself. "Fortune's Bastard" is actually a little hard to synposize, so here's the description from the book's dust jacket:

"One morning Edward Miller, tabloid newspaper editor and reactionary alpha male, spontaneously seduces his temp in an office storeroom. The news doesn't take long to reach his cold, beautiful wife-- and it just happens to be their anniversary. By morning, his marriage is over, his career in shambles, and his house is on fire. Clearly, it's time to leave town. After a brief stint in Spain as an English teacher, Miller flees again when his cover is blown, winding up in a Florida town populated by carnies and circus freaks and ruled with an iron fist by the Half Man, a criminal and sadist with no legs. Unexpectedly, despite even a one-eyed albino hit man who seems to overhear every compromising conversation between Miller and the Half Man's wife the Lizard Woman, Miller gradually realizes this may be where he belongs."
Weird, right? Hidden between the rolling narrative are some nice little moments. Here's one: Miller, drunk, being told that the car he finds himself in is not a cab, but driven by a regular joe that stopped at a red light and found someone getting in the back seat.

If you can, definitely seek out Chalmers and pray for more novels by the talented writer to come.