Weekly Rochester Events #330: Two Benedicts Ago ...
Thursday, May 5, 2005
I didn't get out too much last week, in part because I spent quite a bit of time getting the The Bike With 2 Brains project rolling along. I actually got to the point where I could put the wheels on and see what the frame layout looks like. It's kinda funny making a CAD drawing and making parts and then putting it together to get back to what I had in mind in the first place. I added some geeky details and some more photos. I might just get this thing done afterall.
On Saturday, I went to A|V Art Sound Space (#8 in the Public Market, off N. Union St., formerly The All-Purpose Room) to see the opening for Marc-Charles McNulty's sound-and-image show Heimspeki. It was really good. He created digitally distorted photographs that are illuminated from behind and give the illusion of motion in (at least my own) peripheral vision. In addition, he included sculptured ice-like lamps between the artwork as well as a background ambient sound field. It all seems pretty well integrated.
Later that evening I headed to the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see Federico Fellini's La Strada. I hadn't seen it before and I really enjoyed it. The plot follows a free-spirited, childlike woman named Gelsomina who is sold by her mother to a mean, cold sideshow-strongman, Zampanò. The film follows these two characters along their path to hopelessness: not because they are destined to do so, nor because they are deceived, but simply because they choose to follow this course. There's a lot of films that follow a plot where the characters are helpless to do anything but following along a hopeless course — often the audience is provided more information than the characters have, and we know what would be best for them but know they don't know what we do. In La Strada, though, it's more complex. In each decision, we know as little as the characters about what the future holds — for each decision confronting the characters, none of the options reveal any advantage or disadvantage that would help the characters or the audience make an informed choice.
In my own life, I'm trying to keep track of what's going: I'm sure everyone's heard advice to break out of the status quo and you'll find things get better, yet almost nobody does because the status quo isn't all that bad. I got shoved out by being laid off in 2003, and while I could have gone back to the regular working world, I decided that was as good a time as any to try something new since I had enough resources to explore the unknown non-status-quo world for a while and go back if I needed. I took a business class, tried starting one business from it and gave up on it, then worked to start a second business and pretty much gave up on it too. Now I'm playing with the whole "artist" thing and working toward a rather subtle project in The Bike With 2 Brains. Who knew I'd be writing art grants and spending all my time working on a challenging, fun project? In the midst of all this, I'm also getting involved with a rather large project in the city ... I won't go much into it here since it's not ready for critique, but let's just say that it's right up the alley of making Rochester a place to "come to" instead of "be from" when it comes to creative expression. That money is sure to follow, right?
On Monday I was again at the Dryden Theater for the Surprise Cinema. Michael Neault introduced Luis Buñuel's Viridiana. Buñuel is known for his disdain of the Catholic church — as Mike put it, for its seemingly "bottomless hypocrisy." He was invited to return to Spain (Buñuel, not Neault) by then-dictator Francisco Franco — whom he also despised — to make Viridiana on the condition that it passed the country's censors. Well, Buñuel slyly got his subversive point across using innuendo and a scathing plotline. Among many steps to directly antagonize both Franco and the church, he included a scene where beggars pose exactly as in da Vinci's "The Last Supper" — and to put the derisive exclamation point at the end of the sentence, one of the beggars even says she's going to take a picture using a camera from her father, metaphorically paralleling the relationship between Buñuel and Franco. The film essentially dissects the church's view of ideal behavior versus how that ideal is flawed and how it's unrealistic to set such a standard for anyone anyway.
Tuesday I was off to The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) to see the bands there. First up was Donnie Mancurio who does a solo drum show like I haven't seen from anyone else. He's fast, precise, and he keeps things interesting using sounds from a synthesizer, making for an experience like a performer playing a homemade instrument — he reminded me a lot of That One Guy who had a custom-built "magic pipe" with sensors tied to a synthesizer.
Next was Mad Happy for whom I was, as they say (and I might remember for next time) "mad happy" to see them. (Har har ... it's their joke, not mine: don't shoot the messenger.) Anyway, it took me a few songs to warm up to them: something I remember from when they were here in 2002. They stayed pretty much in the hip hop genre using simple beats behind rapped (mostly) and sung (sometimes) vocals. The thing I forgot about is their sense of community: unlike most bands, they really just want to sit around and chit-chat with the crowd — almost as if they were folk singers. Their goal is to get people to talk and to dance ... once you figure that out, you'll have a much better time.
Anyway, Bee Eater followed them with one of their best shows I've seen: they managed to keep the energy level high through all the time they had. Closing the night was Voodoo Organist who is a one-man synth-gospel rockabilly band. He basically plays a keyboard set up to sound like a church organ along with a theremin and backed up with a pre-coded beat. His stage presence is slick and professional, and the music revolves mostly around being tempted by the devil — metaphorically — not literally nor particularly religiously.
In the end, I guess "voodoo organist" is as good as any way of describing him.
But to finish off talking about movies, I wanted to single out The Rochester International Film Festival this week which takes place in four showings: Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. and on Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Two years ago, I wrote short reviews of the movies before I had seen them based on short-film stereotypes. Last year I reduced the concept further to a single word — an idea that dismally flopped. This year, I intend to redeem myself by spinning the official descriptions into haiku form. So, here's your guide to Movies on a Shoestring as a web page and as a printable PDF file.
Oh yeah, and remember that today is 05/05/05. Impress your friends!*
(* assuming your friends are moronic simpletons.)
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On this day ... May 5
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Rochester Music Coalition
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Kids Out and About
Movie links courtesy The Internet Movie Database. Map links courtesy MapsOnUs. Some movie synopses courtesy UpcomingMovies.com
About the title ... Prospero Lambertini was born 330 years ago in 1675 and became Pope Benedict XIV of the Catholic Church.
This page is Jason Olshefsky's list of things to do in Rochester, NY and the surrounding region (including Monroe County and occasionally the Western New York region.) It is updated every week with daily listings for entertainment, activities, performances, movies, music, bands, comedy, improv, poetry, storytelling, theater, plays, and generally fun things to do.
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