You-review-it Monday

June 22, 2009
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For me, the weekend (starting with Thursday, of course), included a belated trip to "Octopus" at the Phoenix Theatre and a mellow opening night for Symphony on the Prairie, featuring the music of the Grateful Dead. In and around those -- plus Father's Day activities -- I managed to screen a trio of movies for our upcoming preview of the Indianapolis International Film Festival and, because the family could all agree on it, watched the free On Demand flick "Fever Pitch." (Curious now about Nick Hornby's original novel, which had to do with soccer--er, football--rather than baseball. And was autobiographical rather than fictional.)

How about you? Did you get to "Much Ado About Nothing" in Garfield Park? Check out the first-time-ever musical production of "Duck Soup" down in Martinsville? Get to a Verizone Wireless Music Center concert?

Your thoughts on whatever A&E you experienced over the last few days?
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  • Glad you could make it to Octopus, Lou. That was the extent of my arts this weekend, the three performances. Spent some quality time with my father yesterday.
  • About the only thing similar between Fever Pitch the movie and the book is the title that it was about a sport. It is about as loosely based on as you get. I think the only romance in the book is his love for football.
  • Looking more like Warren Haynes just rolled out of bed than the kid on the cover of 100% Fun, anti-rock star Matthew Sweet rolled through a self-described tight set last night at the Vogue. Almost every song came from his most successful trio of albums: Girlfriend, Altered Beast, and the Fun one. A handful of songs from 2008's Sunshine Lies blended well with hits and highlights from the early '90s. In my opinion, Sweet's Altered Beast songs have held up the best, with Someone to Pull the Trigger and Ugly Truth standing out early in the set.

    Flu-ridden Sweet hacked and snorted between songs, and drank about a gallon of water during the 70-minute show, but he was in good form when it counted. Girlfriend and Sick of Myself got the best response from the crowd, and the band truly sold the trademark false endings on Sick. A short encore consisted of a blistering remake of Neil Young's Cinnamon Girl and a distortion-fueled take on Sweet's twisted cautionary tale b-side Superdeformed.

    Sweet seems to genuinely enjoy playing his old songs, and he was pleased with the appreciative crowd's support. 15+ years removed from his radio hits, he has an excuse to be jaded, but he showed only gratitude to the half-full Vogue crowd.

    The mix was loud, with plenty of distortion on lead guitar, but clean and clear otherwise. Exactly what you'd expect from a veteran power popper like Sweet. I left with a grin on my face and a concert t-shirt in my hand. That's the sign of a good show.
  • I saw Octopus for a third time, sort of by accident, but I love it more and more each time I see it. I hope to see it again at least once before it closes at the Phoenix on July 11. I no longer even think about it being a gay play. It is a play that explores universal themes of love and loneliness, faith and commitment.

    I also saw and judged two Encore community theatre shows and attended an Encore judges' meeting at which we double-checked the nomination counts from everyone's ballots so far.

    I also read and LOVED two new novels that are very different from each other:

    THE FAVORITES, by Mary Yukari Waters (Scribner 2009), is about a half-American, half-Japanese girl whose family moved to the US when she was little. Now she is a teenager and she and her Japanese mother have returned to Japan to spend the summer with relatives. I loved the author's easy-to-understand exploration of complex Japanese ways of thinking and her sensuous (sensual? using all five sense) writing style.

    THE WALLS OF THE UNIVERSE, by Paul Melko (Tor 2009), is a science fiction/adventure novel about a young man who discovers...himself lurking in the barn when he goes out to feed the livestock one morning. Or rather, he finds a version of himself that has traveled there from an alternate universe. A fun yet thought-provoking read that got me thinking about who and what the constants are in my life - who would show up in my life in alternate worlds - and what might be better or worse about my situation if it were tweaked a little. Or a lot.

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit

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