Month: July 2014

Bands that should have been contenders

Back in my freelance days I interviewed a lot of bands and a few of them even went on to enjoy some success, both commercially and critically, like Radiohead*. But far too many really good bands never achieved what they should have, commercially at least. Here are just a few (not all of whom I ever interviewed) who are well worth the time to check out.

Hoodoo Gurus: We will start in the way, way back machine with this funky little band from down under that I bet you have never heard of. And that is a shame as the Hoodoos should have been right at home in the wacky music world that was the mid 80’s when quirky bands were breeding like bunnies. Now there were a lot of good bands from Australia in the 80’s/90’s and quite a few of them did break in a big way: INXS, Midnight Oil, Crowded House to name a few, but sadly not these guys who never broke the US top 100.

I’m pretty sure I remember seeing these guys on MTV once or twice in its glory days, that wonderful magical time when MTV actually showed music videos all day, some of which were bloody awful (you’ll see), but it was a new medium and it was FUN so who really cared about a little thing called production values? Well maybe Duran Duran but we aren’t talking about them here. I forgot all about Hoodoo Gurus until I somehow ended up at one of their shows in the early 90’s at the Cabooze of all places. They were energetic and fun and you could tell they were having a blast so you bloody well should too and I did. Every time I hear this song or I Want You Back (could not find that video) in my car you can bet I am singing at the top of my lungs, at least until I get to a stoplight where others might see me, then I pretend I was yawning. I yawn a lot.

 

 

 

 

Nada Surf: if you only recognize the band from their mid 90’s teen-angst high school anthem Popular (which by the way is AWESOME) , then you have been missing out on an additional 20 years of them continuing to make interesting music. I just really like bands and singers who can actually sing, something I can’t do particularly well, especially harmony, so I deeply admire it in others. And Nada Surf can harmonize with the best of them which works for me just about every time. Here is a clip from their 2012 release Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy:

 

I have to add in Popular here, because I like to see how other people (myself not so much), have changed in 20 years and I was never last picked for reals and I was a cheerleader, but only for a year and I hated it.

 

The Posies: I am just going to come right out and say it. Go buy Frosting On The Beater, this band’s classic 1993 release. There is not a dud on the entire album and I can pretty much guarantee* that if you like pure power pop and have a soul you will not regret it for one moment. I had this on cassette (miss you guys) and the silly tape got eaten up by the evil player in my car and I cried real tears as I was frantically trying to save it while shifting gears and drinking pop until I remembered that I had made a back up copy with my handy-dandy dual tape deck device back home, crisis averted. Now in modern times all our music comes from iTunes and lives on fluffy marshmallow clouds in the sky so that shouldn’t be a problem for you.

 

 

* Oh-Amy’s legal representation requires me to say that this is in no way any sort of fiduciary guarantee that we will actually fork over any real or imagined monies you may have spent on Frosting On The Beater should you not like it. But we will judge you harshly for trying.

 

Teenage Fanclub: Pure pop for now people as Nick Lowe would say. I love this Scottish band so very much that I want to take them all out for a nice seafood dinner and call them again and again until they put out another album as perfect as Bandwagonesque. It almost personally hurts me that they did not reach the level of commercial popularity in this country that they so richly deserved. Bandwagonesque is a masterpiece and TFC did achieve a lot of critical success, even in the US. In fact Spin magazine picked Bandwagonesque over Nirvana’s Nevermind for best album in 1991 and no less a musical smarty pants than Liam Gallagher himself called them the second best band in the world (after his band at the time Oasis, of course). They have put out plenty of good album prior to and since Bandwagonesque but that one is just so perfect and pretty everyone should own it.

Major props to Simon Pegg for featuring Teenage Fanclub in one of my favorite films of 2013’s The World’s End.

 

 

*according to the band’s publicist at the time, I was the first US journalist to interview Radiohead. Now I can not verify this fact because music publicist + truthiness do not necessarily go together but suffice to say I will continue to repeat this forever and ever.

 

 

Questions I really want the answers to

Where is that plane?  Seriously. It has been almost five months since Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 went missing with 239 passengers and crew. For the first few days after the disappearance you could understand the confusion but as the various theories were explored and disproved,  and the days turned to weeks,  which then turned to months,  the disappearance and lack of answers morphed into the absurd. And when The New York Times ran a story this past week that said we could all be geographically tracked by the cat photos we post on the internet, it becomes even harder to understand how the largest commercial jet in the world could completely disappear without a trace. My heart really breaks for all those families waiting to find out what happened to their loved ones. The next time I fly I am totally not turning off my phone. (true life confession:  I flew at least a couple of times after I got my first iPhone without turning it off because I was doing it wrong.)

not really my cat

Oh no!! Now The New York Times knows where I live.

Does Steve Nicks ever wear jeans? I mean she has been famous for like a eleventy billion years yet I don’t think she has ever been seen in public without her never-ending supply of fortune-teller lady skirts. In fact, I wonder if she even owns a pair of pants? What does she wear to Target when she has to go buy mundane things like paper towel, Advil and kitty litter?  Just imagine how hard it would be to ride a bike without all those scarf-y things getting stuck in the spokes, and how super dangerous it would be to go to a bonfire on the beach when one swift breeze could set your entire nether regions ablaze? And now that I think of it, I don’t think our hometown fashionista himself Mr. Prince has ever been seen in denim either. Probably not even at the Minnesota State Fair or while making pancakes.

 

 

Why are there pimentos in green olives? Back in the olde (intentional typo) days when I was a kid, I thought those slimy red things in the middle of olives were just the pits before they ripened and turned into black olives. No judging, it was a simpler time, well before we had a Whole Foods in practically every town and fancy olive bars in most grocery stores. It still is beyond my comprehension WHY anyone at the olive factory ever thought that pimentos in olives was a good idea because it is not. In fact, it is repulsive. On the other hand, blue cheese or manchego or even garlic in olives is an excellent idea and lovely.

Who is the father of January Jones’s son?  Of course this is really nobody’s business except the parties involved  but this is a stone-cold Hollywood gossip mystery of which there are few remaining in this age of show and tell everything. There are plenty of suspects: Bobby Flay (you would think the child would be a ginger, but you never know?), Jason Sudeikis (he has daddy abandonment issues, so it doesn’t seem like he would repeat that history), Matthew Vaughn (the director married to poor Claudia Schiffer with his own father Robert Vaughn, the man who U.N.C.L.E himself, denying his paternity ), and Michael Fassbender (Fassy, no! I refuse to believe it). Why there has not been this much speculation on who’s the daddy since Hester Prynne had a baby without a noticeable husband in the Scarlet Letter.

How come this cat looks so guilty? And why don’t my cats ever look or feel guilty doing much worse things than opening a drawer and finding perhaps just a little too much comfort in a piece of tulle?

Margarita poptails for you and me

It finally got July-like around here and I was going to a pool party so I figured it was a perfect time to make these frozen delights.The recipe is pretty simple:

 

actual finished product

actual finished product!!

 

5 cups of seedless watermelon, of course even the seedless ones tend to have some seeds in them but don’t get too worried about a stray seed or two as this goes through a sieve. (Makes about nine poptails)

3/4 cups lime juice,  save yourself some hassle and buy the biggest limes you can find. I had teeny tiny ones from Trader Joe’s and ended up having to go out in the middle of making this to get more as I did not have enough. I hate that, it totally disrupts my flow. You will need about 8 limes total.

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup tequila–whatever floats your boat. Cuervo gold is what I used.

Put the roughly chopped watermelon, lime juice, tequila and sugar in a food processor and purée until smooth. Strain this mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove the pulp and any stray seeds. I strained mine into a pitcher which makes the pouring into tiny Dixie cups that much easier. I did all this on a serving tray for easy transport to the freezer.

I used 5 ounce Dixie cups for this and these cute little wooden spoons (found ’em at Joann Fabric). Fill the cups about two-thirds full, you need to leave enough space for the limes that form the base.

 

cuillers, from Joann

cuillers, from Joann

Cut the limes a little thick or they are too thin to form a proper bottom for these little cuties. Spear the wooden spoon slightly more than half way up  and insert into cup mixture.

 

don't fill too high or you get that spillage over the limes

don’t fill too high or you get that spillage over the limes

 

I froze these overnight and they were even better than I was expecting and I was expecting them to be pretty darn good. Tangy, sweet, frozen deliciousness, perfect for a hot, steamy summer day. I also made a batch sans tequila for the kidlets and just marked the bottom of the non-boozy ones. Before serving the boozy ones, sprinkle the limes with some margarita salt and enjoy!

More streaming shows to keep you up at night, in a good way (mostly)

Salamander:  Paul Gerardi is a Belgian cop with an inextricably Italian name, a whiny wife (gosh, where have I seen that before?), a sullen teen daughter (so far not looking good) and a crime that no one, least of all the victims, wants to talk about let alone report to the police. The only reason Gerardi even knows about it is because a snitch told him so. And when that same snitch turns up dead from an obviously faked suicide the game is on to find out who is behind the break in.

Besides the novelty of this being a Belgian cop procedural (how many of those do you come across everyday?), it’s also a hoot to see a different take on a well-worn genre. I also found it fun to listen to as I am pretty sure the cast speaks at least three different languages, often times all in the same sentence. (Netflix)

Red Dwarf: I honestly don’t like science fiction, unless it is British, or a comedy, or preferably both as in this whack-job of a show. Red Dwarf is the name of a mining ship in the future. Three million years after a radiation leak kills everyone on board except lowest man on the totem pole Dave Lister and his pregnant cat Frankenstein, they are brought out of stasis by the ship’s Debby Downer of a computer named Holly.

To keep Lister from going completely bonkers ( we all know cats are not always the best of company), Holly resurrects Lister’s former supervisor/roommate/all around stick-in-the-mud  and the one responsible for the radiation leak,  Arnold Rimmer as a hologram. He wears a giant H on his forehead just to make sure no one forgets that he isn’t real. Add in a rescued android butler Kryten programmed to serve, even if his crew has been obviously dead for years, and you have about eight seasons (British) of smegging good fun. (Netflix)

Fun Fact: Alan Rickman, yes, that Alan Rickman, auditioned for this series back in the day. The mind blows just thinking about that.

 

 

The Returned (Les Revenants): creeptastic in all the right ways, this French series is based on a film and takes place in a small mountainside village where many dead people suddenly reappear years after their supposed deaths, some many more years than others. Camille, a twin killed in a school bus crash along with all her other classmates is the first one we meet. Her sister Lena stayed home from school that day (for naughty reasons) so while she has grown up, Camille has not. Victor, a young boy who was murdered along with the rest of his family by intruders, finds refuge with Julie, a local nurse. The little boy who plays Victor is amazing, his character speaks very little dialogue throughout the first series yet conveys so much with his big brown eyes that half of Hollywood should be jealous. Along the way we also meet Simon, a musician who may or may have not committed suicide on the day of his wedding (poor Adele!), Serge, the town’s cannibalistic serial killer who has crossed paths with Julie in the past, and  Mrs. Costa (her character has no first name), who is by far the least trust-worthy of the returned, more so than even Serge the serial killer.

There  is an eerie visual vibe throughout the series that reminds me of a mash up of Twin Peaks and Top of the Lake with a little bit of The Shining thrown in for good measure. Beautiful scenery and a moody soundtrack by  Scottish post-rock band Mogwai also adds to the creep factor of this show. As more and more of the returned show up in town strange things start occurring. The electricity goes on and off, often when one of the returned walks by, the lake begins losing water and animals start drowning in large numbers for unknown reasons. Throw in a woman, Lucy, who is clairvoyant only whilst having sex and you know you are in for a freaky ride. No pun intended.

I found it very intriguing that the returners always seem to be eating, like a lot. It is the very first thing Camille does when she shows up back at her home after four years of being dead. According to BBC America’s In the Flesh  (where I get all my zombie data from) zombies can’t eat food food, only human brains. So note to to all those Match.com users out there,  be sure to meet your dates somewhere where there is FOOD available and watch them eat it, just to be safe. Even if you are just meeting for a drink, make sure you get some appetizers. I recommend nachos. Also, speaking from experience I am not so sure this is the best show to watch before you go to bed, just saying. (Netflix)

Jane Eyre the world’s most famous au pair

Jane Eyre teeJane Eyre is without a doubt one of my all-time favorite novels. I loved the book so much I even bought the shirt.

I am not sure why I identified with Jane Eyre as much as I did as a child since I did not go to boarding school, I wasn’t an orphan and did not have a very mean aunt or awful cousins. Yet somehow I figured out that if I had lived back in the Bronte era I was fairly certain I would have been a governess and probably would have been as easy mark for an older dude in breeches with an estate and a crazy wife locked up in an attic.

Because of this deep affection for all things Jane Eyre, not to mention other similar gothic-style novels (some even written by other Brontes), I have pretty much seen every adaptation of this creepy classic. Key word is pretty much. The book was first filmed in 1934 and the resulting film was so bad it took another (almost) ten years to give the story the cast and the crew it needed to make something memorable.

Jane Eyre 1943: this version has an all-star cast, Orson Welles as Mr. Rochester back when Welles was still kind of hot and years before he ballooned up and became the Gallo wine spokesperson of my childhood. “We will sell no wine before its time” or something like that was the slogan. Joan Fontaine, who many thought was far too pretty to play plain Jane but nonetheless pulled it off. A very young, very lovely Elizabeth Taylor as Jane’s sweet-but-doomed Lowood school friend Helen Burns, and Agnes Moorehead, who went on to play Endora the worst mother-in-law a guy in advertising could ever hope for on Bewitched. Black and white in all its glory, this one crops up on TCM and PBS occasionally and is totally worth a look.

Jane Eyre 1983: this was a BBC mini series which means it probably aired on PBS back in the day and I probably saw it but I totally don’t remember it. Since I remember most things I have ever seen on Masterpiece Theater but not this I am going to say it was not very good and not worth looking for, although if you were to look for it you could find it on Amazon Instant. It starred Timothy Dalton before he became James Bond for a bit and well after he became the president of Gallifrey (home planet of the one and only Doctor Who).

Jane Eyre 1996: Meh. William Hurt gets to be Mr. Rochester for this nineties version and that is not a Martha Stewart good thing. His leading man career was in a downward spiral and this film didn’t help. Charlotte Gainsbourg seemed like she would be a good Jane but I don’t think she was and the whole thing was such a bore by the time the crazy wife set fire to the place I didn’t much care about them or Thornfield Hall or even sweet Adele.

Jane Eyre 2006: This is my favorite adaptation so not only do I remember seeing it on Masterpiece Theater but I have loved it ever since. Ruth Wilson (that would be the one, the only, Ms. Alice Morgan from Luther) nails it as Jane, and while she is certainly cuter than we are supposed to imagine our heroine to be,  I think Wilson has a quirky enough look and acting demeanor to pull it off. Toby Stephens plays Mr. Rochester in this version which is a bit steamier and sexier than the others. Works for me. Fun fact: Toby Stephens, is none other than the Dowager Countess (of Downton Abbey) herself Maggie Smith’s son. 

Jane Eyre 2011: the most recent, but am sure not last, filmed version stars Michael Fassbender as the misunderstood Mr. Rochester and Mia Wasikowska as Miss Jane. I waffle back and forth about Fassy, is he attractive? Is he kinda scary? Both of which I guess are a perfect fit for a character as prickly as Mr. Rochester. Wasikowska is probably the closest in age to the character of Jane Eyre and that in itself might have been what made me stop from completely liking this as much as I should have. It is beautifully shot and it has Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax. Judi Dench is like the acting equivalent of the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. But Mia just seemed so much younger than Fassy that I kept waiting for Chris Hansen from Dateline’s To Catch a Predator series to show up. And that was before I had seen Shame.   

Jane Eyre has also been a play (which I have seen, Guthrie Theater) and a musical (allegedly on Broadway, but didn’t last long)  and if they turned it into an amusement park I would book a trip there tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

years

Recipes totally worth the effort–episode one

I am neither the greatest cook nor the greatest baker, but I do love good food and occasionally get sick of eating out. Just like A&E used to have arty, entertaining shows, The Food Network used to actually have cooking shows on it, in the evening and everything.

My favorite show by far was Good Eats, it was cooking meets silly pop culture meets Bill Nye the Science Guy and I loved it. Interestingly enough, I don’t think I have ever cooked a single recipe of Alton Brown’s but I feel like that was beside the point. It was more about being interested in the process and how things worked, like chemistry without the icky smells.

Ina Gerten lives in the Hamptons and all her friends are fabulous and she can get on my nerves going on about Jeffrey and I am 100% jealous of her garden, but I can honestly say I have never made one of her recipes that: a) wasn’t good; b) wasn’t a giant pain in the ass to make; c) wasn’t cheap; and d), that I wouldn’t NOT make again. Here’s one that definitely is worth the time:

Roasted Shrimp with Orzo 

Kosher salt

Olive oil

3/4 pound orzo pasta–now where I shop orzo comes in one pound bags or boxes. I dump the whole thing in

1.5 cups fresh lemon juice (about three lemons)

freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds (16-18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined–two pounds! I told you her stuff was not cheap eats (see c, above). I try to only make this for people I REALLY like because not only is it expensive, it is also a pain in the ass (see d, above)

1 cup minced scallions–i always buy these but usually forget to put them in. I am an onion phobe so I would never willingly put an onion in anything. It tastes fine without them.

1 cup chopped fresh dill

1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1 cucumber unpeeled, seeded and medium diced

1/2 cup small diced red onion— I have never even considered putting this in 

3/4 pound feta cheese, large diced–i just buy one package and throw it in, I don’t weigh it. 

Preheat the over to 400. cook the orzo in boiling, salted water with a dollop of olive oil for 9 to 11 minutes. Stir it every once in awhile until it is cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a LARGE bowl. This makes a lot so you can make it for more than just three or four friends you really like, it can be for like EIGHT of them. Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir.

Put the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out on a single layer. Roast for 5-6 minutes, do not overcook. Set your timer and DO NOT WALK away. Nothing is grosser than overcooked, rubbery shrimp that you just spent about thirty bucks on. That would not be cool.

Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the scallions (if you must), dill, parsley, cucumber, onion (if you think you need anymore) 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and mix super carefully so it doesn’t all fall apart. The Contessa says to set it aside at room temperature for an hour to allow the flavors to blend which I don’t do since I usually make this the night before I have the people over I like. The Contessa says to let it sit to get to room temperature before eating which is fine, but I like it cold just as well.

 

 

 

More Netflix streaming goodies, and I checked, they are still there*

Luther: Oh Idris Elba, I first fell for you in a big way when you were that nasty but so very attractive drug-dealing bastard Stringer Bell on The Wire. Then you played a kinda shady world weary detective named John Luther with your REAL British accent and I was like putty in your hands. This show could have been awful and I would not have cared but it’s actually really good and Idris is really pretty. I don’t care for the actress who plays his wife, she was not nice on Torchwood and no one messes with Captain Jack Harness and gets away with it in my book. Series one focuses on Alice Morgan, who not only killed her parents but the family dog as well. (really, Alice, really?) She later develops a massive crush on John Luther which plays out into series three. Alice kind of makes the Glenn Close character in Fatal Attraction seem meek and unassuming. I love her. (more…)

The best things on streaming Netflix you are probably not watching

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MI-5/Spooks: do not get attached to anyone, it is not worth the tears that come later. Think 24 with more spies, and much hotter spies at that with great accents and lots of seasons and almost all of them, even the later ones, with better stories than most. Back when A&E actually stood for Arts and Entertainment, I came across this show while channel surfing. The very first episode had quite possibly the gruesomest death scene ever seen on non-premium cable and once I got over my initial shock I was hooked. I still won’t go near a deep fryer though.

Miss Fisher Mysteries: While their mysteries take place in the roughly same era, Miss Marple and Miss Phyrne Fisher could not be anymore different. Phyrne is sophisticated, a feminist, sexually active AND single. Back in Australia after spending a long time in Europe, Miss Fisher becomes a private detective with a gorgeous wardrobe, lots of boyfriends and an extremely loyal, not too judge-y strict Catholic maid/companion. Stylishly fun.

Spiral (Engreneges for you French speakers): Sure, it is a typical Law & Order type of cop/legal system procedural but it’s in French so that alone makes it way cooler than average. That being said, it is still 99% better than any cop show I have seen in the US other than The Wire and Homicide. I seriously could not wait for series 4 and even tried to watch it on the show’s website but four years of French and I still need subtitles (not available on the website, drat). Laure Berthaud is the typical career obsessed cop we have seen many times before but Caroline Proust does such a good job it does not seem like it. Add in some scruffy colleagues like Gilou, the fuck-up, and Samy the hot, is-he-legit-or-not love interest, and you are in. Totally binge-worthy.

Tell No One: Umm, I pretty much tell EVERYONE to watch this movie. Even people who are afraid of FOREIGN films get sucked in quickly. Years earlier, Dr. Beck’s wife was murdered and he was the prime suspect but never charged. Eight years later he gets an email showing her obviously alive. I get all tingly just thinking about it!  Once again it is in French (although the book it was based on is American, go figure), there are subtitles but it won’t matter as you will be handsomely rewarded with one of my all time faves of the last few years. PS: Paris, I love you. Call me.

Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter: this one comes from Sweden, so there are still subtitles but by now you should be used to it. Annika has quite possibly the best hair on television since Jennifer Aniston/Rachel Green left the airwaves, and is an investigative reporter with two children, a not-so-supportive boyfriend and I would totally want to be friends with her if she was real.

Black Books: it’s like Fawlty Towers, but set in a quirky bookstore owned by Bernard Black, a guy who really doesn’t want to sell anyone a book. His best (only?) friend Fran owns the shop next door and in the first episode he gains an employee/roommate named Manny. Not many episodes so very easy to watch and laugh, a lot.

Green Wing: while it may be set in a hospital the patients barely ever factor into it. It is quite possibly one of the weirdest shows I have ever seen but I loved it. Fran from Black Books is one of the leads and I am not entirely sure how to even describe it other than it’s bizarre, and wacky, and funny and not like anything I have ever seen before.

IT Crowd: Chris O’Dowd, Richard Ayoade and Katherine Parkinson star as two computer geeks and the woman hired to be their boss who knows absolutely nothing about computers. This is laugh out loud funny and once you watch it you too will be familiar with FriendFace, how to break the internet, and the replacement number for 999 (Brit speak for 911).

Diary of a Rock Video Extra

this story originally appeared in a long gone but not forgotten music ‘zine (those were big in the 90’s) called Cake and I figured I would resurrect it here, since it was like a printed thing and this like a digital thing and are there even any rock videos anymore???

So what is it really like to be an actual paid extra in a rock video? Well, you wait around an awful lot, sweat like a water buffalo while doing take after take, and then when it is finally over, start thinking about when the hell you would ever get the chance to do it all over again.

The call came at about 4 p.m. on a Friday. Would I be interested in being in the new Soul Asylum video? Yeah, right. No no, it’s true my friend assured me. She gave me all the gory details and I sat back and fantasized. This could be my big chance, just like the chick in the Bruce Springsteen “Dancing in the Dark” video who went on to such bigger and better things as a Tampax commercial and a shitty bit part on “Family Ties” I was already thinking CAREER CHANGE!! Editor’s note:that chick did go on to bigger and better things like a year later, she was Monica on Friends. To be fair, I also made a career change, to advertising. Oh well.

I’d watched MTV during my formative years (the 80’s) and had visions of myself in full video vixen regalia–a skin-tight little lycra number with fishnet stockings and some bitching black boots. I could not wait!

We arrived at the shoot around 9:00 a.m. on Saturday. This was a virgin experience for me and my two video-extra friends. I had been on “Romper Room” once when I was four. I threw up in the general direction of Miss Betty and was not asked to return. Editor’s note: she also NEVER saw my name in her stupid mirror EVER, I am sure it was intentional. I hoped I’d outgrown my stage fright. After checking in with the producer, we are sent down to Moose and Sadie’s until further notice.

We later meet Bridget, the wardrobe director, who promptly tells me she does not like my choice of attire, or the rest of the extras for that matter. “We’re looking for the that Seattle grunge look,” she explains. Bridget holds up various pieces of clothing rented from Ragstock for the shoot. I do no like any of them, and I particularly do not like the extremely large green tee shirt and WOOL plaid shirt she seems to think will look “fabulous”. I do like Bridget though, so I agree to wear it even though it is about 100+ degrees in the tiny narrow hall we are all assembled in. I now look like Eddie Vedder’s sister, minus the curls. My dreams of video babe stardom are fading fast.

The next step is hair and make-up. The first victim emerges with a beehive that would make Kate Pierson from the B-52s proud. I perk up a little at the prospect of a similar funky-do. Unfortunately I never get the chance to be similarly transformed as Bridget summons me for yet another costume change. Her assistant hands me a shapeless navy blue, virtually see-through dress. “I hope you are wearing underwear,” she says sweetly. “But of course,” I say. “It’s Saturday, isn’t it?” The dress is hideous but it is definitely cooler than the Pearl Jam outfit.

Dave Pirner walks by in lime green and white polka dot boxer shorts. “I didn’t think Dave wore underwear,” my friend said out loud. I looked at her smiled. Dave and I know how important a little thing like underwear can be when making a video plagued by technical difficulties in a building without air conditioning.

Dressed in clothes other than your own while waiting to have your hair and make up done, to do God knows what on film, is a great way to meet new people. Most of the other extras are models in their late teens. One of them asked how old I was, as only someone who has not seen twenty yet could. I smile cagily and  ask “What do you think?” She fiddles with her hair and says “Fifteen.” What a liar. We all laugh and I say try doubling that. She looks shocked.

It seems like we are close to the actual filming. We’re instructed to read a disclaimer posted on the wall regarding our participating in the video. I am getting a little nervous. The “Romper Room” fiasco looms nearer. “I’ll bet this reminds you of Woodstock,” says the youngster behind us. We collectively glare at him, me in particular. I must have aged considerably in the past five minutes since I looked fifteen. “I don’t think I was there,” I say pissed. “I was alive but not hardly a participant since my parents weren’t hippies.” He tried to wriggle out of his gaffe but it is too late, I hate him.

Finally we are led into a large room and placed in the first row of extras–just in front of Dan Murphy. the excitement is building. The producer tells us we’re about to start and warns us about where not to step or look. He says we will be doing take after take and to pace ourselves accordingly. The video is for the song “Somebody to Shove”. We dance furiously, take after take after take. In the end I think we did it seven times, but it sure felt like more. Between the hot lights and lack of air conditioning it was an aerobic workout that would make Jane Fonda beg for mercy.

Eleven hours, four costume changes and numerous takes later, we’re finished. Expect to see all of us dancing our butts off on MTV sometime after this issue hits the streets. The next video from Soul Asylum will be for the song “Runaway Train”. If they need any extras, I know three women with experience who would love to do it again. Shit, I’d even wear the Pearl Jam plaid outfit again, although I would prefer the fishnets and boots.

editor’s note: the director of this video, Zack Snyder, who had not yet graduated to movies but in the next few years did “Dawn of the Dead”, “300” and “Watchmen” and a slew of other movies I have never seen.

 

July is the best month ever

I try to never leave Minnesota in July because it’s only 31 days of the year and I can’t stand to miss even one of them. July is warm, sometimes unbearably so to others, but never to me, I only ever put the air conditioning on for the dog. July is sticky and buggy yet so green (especially this year thanks to all the rain in June) and so beautiful it is almost impossible to come up with a month that even comes close. 

Not the aforementioned June, which is oftentimes too cold and too rainy. And certainly not August when the days are already getting noticeably shorter and the leaves starting to change color. July is the reason I live in Minnesota, that and my job, and my house, and my family.