September 3rd, 2007

Bumbershoot and a movie

I’ve been in Seattle the last few days at the Bumbershoot festival. I went to my first Bumbershoot back in 1992, and I thought it was the best music festival I’d ever come across. Four days of the coolest sounds—hundreds of acts. There was too much to see, and this too-muchness was what made Bumbershoot special. I recall one day rushing from seeing Junior Brown, the C&W Hendrix, to catch the Screaming Trees, then rushing from the Trees to catch Nusfret Ali Fateh Khan, the ghazal singer from Pakistan, followed by jazz great Pharoah Sanders and indie secret masters Sun City Girls…and that was just one afternoon. I attended every Bumbershoot from ’92-2000, and then moved away. On returning to the festival, I was disappointed to find they had cut it from four days to three, and eliminated most of the jazz and world music. They’d raised prices from under 10 bucks to 35, and the crowds were insane. Nevertheless, I caught a great set by Seattle’s Carrie Ackre, ex of Hammerbox and Goodness, decent sets by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (judging by what I heard, BMRC’s new album might be a return to form) and Kings of Leon, and an interesting set by Tibetan vocalist Yungchen Lhamo, which would have been great if she hadn’t spent half her stage time explaining her Buddhist philosophy—that was fine, but everyone wanted her to sing more. Anyhow, it wasn’t the old Bumbershoot. No more too-muchness, having to decide between two acts that you absolutely had to see. But it was all the Bumbershoot there was, and it was still okay.

Had time to catch one movie, the vastly entertaining French thriller, Ne Le Dis A Personne, based on the Harlan Coben novel Tell No Onem which sold about 7 million copies worldwide. It reminded me of an old Jimmy Stewart movie, a ordinary man caught in a nightmare, but Francois Cluzet is a lot better actor than Jimmy Stewart. Eight years before the story begins, Margot, the wife of pediatrician Alex Beck (Cluzet), was murdered by a serial killer whose M.O. incorporated draping the victims with dead animals. Her remains were cremated. Alex, a good, kindly man, appears to miss his wife terribly, but then two other bodies are discovered, along with a key to a safe containing incriminating photos and a baseball bat covered in Alex’s blood. Shortly thereafter, Alex receives a disturbing email with a heading that only his dead wife could know. It instructs him to “Tell no one. We’re being watched.” The email leads him to a video of a woman who looks exactly like Margot, suggesting she is alive and well. The police begin to close in on Alex, and some thugs, lead by a sadistic woman, are persecuting Alex’s friends. He has to keep out of jail long enough to rendezvous with the woman he believes is Margo, and he goes on the run. It’s no more than an entertainment, but it’s endlessly entertaining. There’s a major plot hole, but by the time it occurs, you’re willing to forgive it because the movie’s so exciting. The acting is superb. Notable French actors occupy almost every small part. Kristen Scott-Thomas is excellent as the wealthy gay lover of Alex’s sister who pays for his lawyer. It’s intricately plotted, almost laughably so, but again it’s an entertainment, sort of a darker cousin to films like North by Northwest, and it’s just too much damn fun to sweat the small stuff.
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Todd Schorr: The Sailor Man



THE SAILOR MAN
When the doctors put Vestry Asquith back together after his death, they exercised all their creativity.

It was Vestry's bad luck that the doctors had been aliens who knew nothing about human anatomy.

The Dripps had found Vestry's corpse floating in space in the holed-out remnants of his pirate ship, the Betelgeuse Bandit. Vestry had lost a run-in with the Galactic Posse after trying to attack a cargo liner and been left floating, quite dead, in interstellar space. But his extinction posed nothing except a challenge to the Dripps.

Enormous nose-shaped beings on squirming snail-like footings, continually exuding sinus fluid from their various orifices, the Dripps were master biologists and cyberneticians. But they reasoned in a manner completely unlike human beings.

Thus they employed the DNA of the plants in Vestry's oxygen-generation unit to rebuild Vestry's nose. They fused a portion of the casing of one of his ship's photon-mines to his skull. They endowed him with radar ears and testicle chin. One eye was sutured shut while the other was replaced with the Panopticon scanner off the Bandit. The keys of his mood-Moog substituted for his teeth. His brain was hybridized with circuitry.

Vestry awoke at last, saw himself in a mirror, and screamed.

The Dripps stuck a Panacea Pipe in his mouth and he calmed down a tad. Finally he was able to reconcile himself to his new appearance. Hadn't he been given, after all, a second chance at life?

But then all his tentative calm was shattered when one of the Dripps said the most frightening words possible.

"Now we will build you a mate."