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Intellectual House o' Pancakes Webdiary

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2005-07-18 - 11:52 a.m.

Highlights of the weekend:

I arrived at the Siren Festival just in time for Brendan Benson, and was treated to a riveting set, sandwiched between the twilit and fog-enshrouded Wonder Wheel and Cyclone.

This lanky cutie-pie played about 45 minutes worth of melodic songs that don't go exactly where ya think they're gonna go. His stuff is rootsy but not w/o some crunchin' riffs and charming vocal harmonies that often pop up out of nowhere, halfway through the song. BB's voice is excellent--supple, strong, and he can really hit those high notes.

Had one of those glorious moments where all the bored, jaded, non-moving, non-swaying hipsters just faded out of my consciousness, and all that existed was music--just a guy onstage telling us how his life feels. It was inspiring...these are the moments I live for.

I was gonna stay for Spoon, but had a powerful urge to take my leave and go traipse around in the surf.

Although I'm not a big fan of outdoor concerts (or any large gatherings that require Port-o-Sans), the Siren Festival is different. It feels less like an outdoor show and more like a skanky nightclub blown open to expose its raw innards, its inhabitants blinking and forearming their eyes from the mocking sunlight.

I like the smell of the ocean (well, the unique smell of Coney Island, anyway), mingling with the tang of sweat and cigarette smoke and beer and a kind of amiable desperation in the air that makes me glad I'm not 25 anymore (cuz bein' 26 is great!).

The other highlight was seeing Charlie. This is gonna sound facetious, but I loved everything about it except for Willy Wonka. I'm not crazy about where Johnny took the character, and it was the one aspect of the remake that didn't quite jibe with the book (which I just re-read last week so it's fresh in my mind).

If they could have airlifted Gene Wilder out of the original and placed him in this, I'd have been happier, but still: great flick!

The Oompa Loompas are perfect. Their musical numbers (featuring the authentic, Dahl-written lyrics) are amusing, particularly the Polyphonic Spree pastiche during Veruca Salt's song (her big scene is pretty damn scary, I have to say....parents and squirrel-phobes strongly cautioned) and the MTV video send-up for Mike Teavee's scene.

So: I am 3 for 3 on this: I loved both movies and the book, and my childhood memories remain untainted.

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