The Fairest of The Seasons

I'm beginning to think that surfing the 'net is worse than flipping through digital cable for obscene periods of time. It's just as addictive, with millions of "viewing" options, as opposed to hundreds. No, I'm not saying the Web is inherently evil, but it can be a crutch, a time-waster, a guilty pleasure, a receptacle of useless information.

This weekend, I watched my American Splendor DVD. Still a great, unique film, but its impact seemed a little diminished on a second viewing. But just a little... I still haven't seen anything new this year that even comes close, and that includes Kim Ki-Duk's Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring, a film about Korean Buddhist monks who live in a house on top of a raft on a lake in a secluded forest. Although the world it presents was obviously foreign, there was enough in it that felt familiar. Cultural references aside, it's a pretty simplistic tale, matching up the seasons to life cycles, dealing with the depths of human behavior and the path taken from there to enlightment. Gorgeous cinematography, of course, and a little more substance than Winged Migration.

The Magnetic Fields concert on Sunday evening was wonderful. Essentially unplugged, with acoustic piano, guitar/banjo, cello and Merritt's own ukelele marking the line up, they played about half of i, a few choice cuts from 69 Love Songs (closing with my personal fave, "All My Little Words"), some stuff from Pieces of April, and a few tracks I couldn't place. Merritt's banter with Claudia Gonson and her occasional vocals (sorely missed on i) were highlights. I can't think of anyone that's making more intelligent and emotionally direct music today; gentle, heartfelt renditions of "It's Only Time" and "Busby Berkeley Dreams" could be poignant contenders for the saddest music in the world. Merritt and Gonson kept apologizing for how quiet and unenergetic they were, but the restrained volume was just right for those songs. Forget divas and rock stars; The Magnetic Fields are in it for the songs, and it was crucial that you could hear every single, indelible word.

I'm going to see the new Jim Jarmusch flick (Coffee and Cigarettes) tonight. Amusing conceptual fun or pretentious in-joke muck? Stay tuned...