the science of sleep
We finally got around to seeing Michel Gondry's latest film, The Science of Sleep, last night. The film is obviously visually stunning, and has been called a "sunny tragedy" and "a pop-up book of a film" by some reviewers whose names we forget, and both phrases fairly accurately describe the film's darkly whimsical feel. Plus, Charlotte Gainsbourg is adorable. One of my favorite aspects of Gondry's films is the music, and while I still don't get his apparent obsession with The Willowz, the Jean Michel Bernard score complements the film beautifully in the same way Jon Brion's did in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Here's the brief song that opens the film:
Jean Michel Bernard Generique Stephane mp3
YANP has the track that Gael Garcia Bernal sang in the film. Go see the The Science of Sleep, and buy the soundtrack here
Our boy Austin LaRoche is back with the second installment in his For the Love of the Sound series, on this week's edition of These Pretzels Are Making Me Thirsty. Click the read more link to read Austin's column...
For the Love of the Sound – Part Two: Pretty Boy Pangle
By: Austin LaRoche
Column Note: I'm doing really bad with the whole "finish editing during the weekend when there's about 2,000 football games on," so instead of expecting a Monday column each week, just know the column will be either posted Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, depending on how long it takes to make it perfect. Alright, onto this week...
Because my buddy, Pangle, is going through a little bit of a rough patch, I figured it was time to bust out another "For the Love of the Sound" column for him. However, before we get started, there's a few things you need to know about Pretty Boy Pangle...
1. He is my favorite person to make fun of in the world. He takes it better than anyone I know, always laughs things off and enjoys picking on himself like no one I've ever seen.
2. He once bragged he was Gerber baby.
3. He is an actor, living in L.A. and will be a household name soon.
4. Sandy Cohen is jealous of his eyebrows, PBP has the thickest brows west of the Mississippi.
5. After he becomes a household name, I will finally be able to write the script I want and get it in the right hands, so look out for that somewhere in the 2012 range.
6. I will only refer to him in this column as Pretty Boy Pangle or PBP because of this conversation we once had…
PBP: I'd like to be in a horror movie.
Me: As the villain or as one of the guys trying not to get killed?
PBP: The guy trying not to get killed.
Me: It'll never happen, you're not pretty enough.
PBP (agitated): WHAT?
Me: Look, you're not ugly or a bad looking guy, I'm just saying, pretty guys like Ryan Phillipe and Freddie Prinze Jr. get those roles, and you're more of a masculine, handsome type. And I mean that as heterosexually as possible.
PBP: Lots of people call me pretty.
Me: Name one person other than your family or girlfriend that thinks you're "pretty"?
PBP: Ok, everyone in Crestview (his hometown). Everyone at my high school.
Me: You grew up in a town with 600 people, and they ALL thought you were "pretty?"
PBP: Yes, that was my nickname, everyone used to call me Pretty Boy Pangle.
Me: Wait, did you say Pretty Boy Pangle?
PBP: Uh oh.
I wasn't kidding when I said he was my favorite person in the world to pick on.
Anyway, when I told PBP that I was trying to write a few sentimental pieces about my friends, I told him I was only going to refer to him as Pretty Boy Pangle or PBP in his column, and instead of saying something along the lines of "Oh God, are you really?" or "I knew I never should have said that to you" he proclaimed, :my acting teacher out here always calls me pretty. She's always like 'How is someone as pretty as you not already discovered?'" Now do you understand why he's my favorite person to make fun of?
Anyway, PBP and I met in college our freshmen year and remained great friends throughout, and we were even roommates for a couple years. One of our favorite activities in the world had been driving to new destinations. During our freshmen year of college, Pretty Boy Pangle and I used to find the roads that left Tallahassee and just get lost down them. We realized there were about 7 main roads that left town, and there wasn't one we didn't adventure down.
(Note: For those who read the first edition of the For the Love of the Sound, you might remember that Dave and I used to drive around and listen to music a lot as well. However, we used to drive and get lost on city roads. We didn't usually go miles away, so it was kind of a different experience. With Dave, it was an excuse to listen to music, but with PBP, it was always about finding something new, seeing a town we had never seen, etc.)
During the drives in the early days, PBP would educate me on classic rock. You see, my parents aren't big music fans. In fact, I think my mom listens solely to Christian contemporary and my dad listens to the country stations or talk radio. I wasn't born a music phene. But thanks to Napster, I became one (but that's an entirely different story). However, Pangle was born a music phene. His dad was a classic hippie, with amazing stories of hitchhiking across the country to follow the Grateful Dead and watching Bruce Springsteen perform in a little dive bar in a no-name New England town. So while I grew up on Amazing Grace and Way Down Yonder on the Chattahoochee, Pretty Boy Pangle was learning about the Dead, Crosby, Stills, Nash, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and all those guys. But being a man of the South, PBP's dad made sure his son knew about southern rock.
I remember listening to stuff like the Marshall Tucker Band and obviously Lynyrd Skynyrd back when we were freshmen. We'd listen to all that stuff the Drive-By-Truckers are always singing about, and it made sense at the time. Although Tallahassee is in Florida, it is in the panhandle, which most people don't realize is very similar to Alabama/Georgia not only in geography, but in culture. We'd be rocking out to Seger while driving through some crappy, old Southern town that PBP would always think of as "gothic" or "traditional" and I would consider to be simply "crap," so this music wasn't just on in the background, it seemed to soundtrack our trips through these little towns. PBP was from a small town like most of these and I had grown up in the suburbs of a large city, so I guess driving through those towns was a way I was supposed to understand his life, and what it was like to be somewhere where the air was fresh and the pace was slow.
It's funny going back on the history of our friendship, especially musically, because it changed very drastically. But while the tunes may have changed with age, our minds and the way they worked certainly did not.
I realized Pretty Boy Pangle and I were supposed to be life long pals the night we drove 5 hours to my house in Atlanta. We were listening to music, making each other listen to songs we loved (I specifically remember playing him the Pearl Jam song "Black," which is still one of my favorite Pearl Jam songs). As we would listen to these songs, we'd start describing a movie we were creating in our minds, and where each song should fit inside that yet-to-be-made film. We did this with every song the entire drive, and with every drive thereafter. Sometimes, we'd put a song into a movie that had already been made that would have worked better than the one used, but usually we would just imagine a group of characters we had never met, and really didn't know much about, however, we knew that in certain moments of their lives, they needed these songs playing in the background.
(Let's pause for a humorous tidbit I always tell people. If I won the lottery, and then invested well, I would hire a very well respected music fan to follow me around with an iPod with speakers and when certain moments in my life were happening, he would always play the perfect song. Of course, this would be a tough decision because I don't trust anyone's music taste but my own, so it would have to be someone who really understood my taste. This is no easy feat. Regardless, once the digits align properly, I'll start taking applications, so I'll let you guys all know just as soon as I win, alright?. Back to the story.)
Well after our freshmen year, when all the road in the panhandle of Florida had been discovered, Pretty Boy Pangle and I didn't really drive around as much. Where was the fun after the unknown was identified? I mean, you may think Cairo, Georgia sounds like something from a Flannery O'Connor story, but in reality, it's a gross town you drive through on your way to somewhere more important. And now that we had seen all the towns in the area, none of them seemed important anymore. (Possible exception: Monroe, FL is a real pretty Southern town and is actually a nice place, but everywhere else...Yuck.)
A couple years went by and I became a music junkie. PBP didn't really talk after freshmen year because my musical journey headed different places and for some stupid reason, I didn't trust his taste to evolve. I mean, the guy loved classic rock, and while bands like the Drive-by-Truckers and even some early My Morning Jacket may have appeased freshmen PBP's taste, I just figured Pangle and I would divorce, musically. We drove as many roads as we could on the same wavelength, I believed.
But that's the coolest thing about music taste--it can always evolve and it can always go places you never imagined. Think about all the albums and artists you hated at first who you now love. Sometimes, maybe you have to go somewhere, or experience a different time in your life to get it, but sometimes, things click. Maybe you always hated Bob Dylan, but after a night of drinking your sadness away, you heard "If You See Her Say Hello" and thought to yourself, "damn, that really makes sense." Or maybe you thought that southern rock was for "rednecks" and "hicks" and you find yourself driving across Tennessee and all of sudden, you look at "Tuesday's Gone" in a new light. Or more specifically for the indie crowd, say you're not really an electronica guy, and then the cool indie chick in your dorm convinces you to go to some club and the two of you have a blast dancing to Hot Chip and Herbert and all of a sudden, you're a huge electronica fan. Our experiences and our friends totally dictate those shifts. Music tastes aren't born, they're created and then they are evolved. Think about what you listened to as a child. Wasn't that supposed to be the most honest time of your life? Were you really telling people when you were 7 years old that Pavement changed your life? I my case, I had a Vanilla Ice tape, as well as an MC Hammer one.
But my taste evolved, and for some stupid reason, I didn't let PBP's evolve with me at first. Instead of bringing PBP along for the ride during my music evolution, I left him in the dust with his Almost Famous Soundtrack and some homemade yams. I set out on a great adventure, listening to thousands of amazing tunes, and slowly but surely becoming a respectable music fan. I was going on this crazy journey, listening to things I never even had a clue about, and I never went across the hall to say, "Hey, PBP, come check out this Bright Eyes guy." It was strange.
At the beginning of our Junior year, I got a job at a golf course about 45 minutes out of Tallahassee, down on the Gulf Coast. My buddy, Dave, who you met in a previous article, worked there with me for the Fall 2003 semester, and when he could no longer work because of school, I needed someone to car pool with, and Pretty Boy Pangle adjusted his schedule so we could work together Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week. We ended up working together for almost 2 years.
But I couldn't make a 45 minute drive six times a week without my good music. So I started turning ole' PBP onto some stuff, and he was digging it. I'd play him new songs, burn him CDs, and he seemed to like EVERYTHING. I turned him onto bands such as Modest Mouse, The Shins, Ryan Adams, and Wilco, and I was starting to see where PBP's taste COULD go. It could follow mine easily, because these songs may have just been a few chords and lyrics to everyone else, but for Pretty Boy Pangle and I, they were the fuel we needed to accelerate our dreams of creating people and stories and moments that would hopefully one day matter to people other than the two guys driving around in the white Saturn 4-door.
If I had been up the road in this metaphor of a musical journey, than PBP put the pedal to the metal on that piece of shit Saturn and wouldn't let me run away anymore. He couldn't go on the journey alone, and I didn't want him to. I wanted him to ditch the Saturn and hop in to my Jeep Cherokee where the music was always loud and the mind was never sleeping. It made the journey so much better. Because after all, we can all think of these things in our mind--what songs will play at certain characters/real people's weddings and/or funerals. But how much better is it when your musical twin suggests something even better than you imagined and leads your mind on one of those crazy creative roads you didn't even think of?
Once we got to that point of synchronicity, Spring Semester of 2005 came around. Pretty Boy Pangle's last semester, and easily his toughest. He didn't have time to find new music, in fact, he even joked on an online profile under the category "Favorite Music" that he was into "music that his friends gave him." Which was fine. Hell, I don't mind slinging like Avon and Stringer, ya know? (And that Ladies and Gentlemen was the weekly "throw in a subtle joke about The Wire to gain more buzz about it" moment. We'll be sure to make sure Omar or Bunk get a line next week.)
It had to be the second week of January and I was in one of those "damn, I've downloaded a ton of albums recently, and I've listened to all of them about once a piece and gone to the next, so I need to play 'catch up'" phases and finally got back around to the classic Neutral Milk Hotel album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. And to be honest, the vocals were a little tough for me to get into at first, and because throwing a song about The King of Carrot Flowers into a movie in my head was a little difficult, I was about to register it under the "give it another chance when you're in a weird mood and are really looking to expand your tastes in a more eclectic way" file, when the title track came on.
Now, it's hard for me to write about the logistics of music. I don't play instruments, I couldn't really tell you the difference between melody and harmony (although I think I could answer it right on a multiple choice test), and anytime I like the way the background music sounds, I say a song has good "instrumentation." So I can't tell you the way a music professor can why "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" is amazing, I can only tell you why I love it, and why it has become the most important song in my life.
The second I heard "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea", I could garner a couple things about it. One, the song had to do with a moment. The moment is a little strange and I don't know exactly what is happening in that moment, but I know that moment is incredibly important. Two, I could place this song in a thousand movie scenes, but wouldn't because somehow I couldn't get to that imaginative part of my head with the song--somehow the song made me selfish. And three, Pretty Boy Pangle would LOVE this tune.
But the importance of the song lies in the selfishness the song took over in me. I don't mean selfish in terms of "nobody else can ever like this song more than me," but rather, "fuck characters, this is it, this moment is the next 4 months of my life." You see, that January began what was the last semester for about 90% of my best friends. I elected to take less classes and stay for another football season, but everyone else was ready to go. Here we were, our last few months in our euphoric bubble. Or as Jeff Mangum was telling me...
And one day we will die and our ashes will fly from an aeroplane over the sea, but for now we are young, let us lay in the sun, and count every beautiful thing we can see.
This is probably my favorite music lyric ever. I KNOW its PBP's. We lived those 4-5 months with that philosophy, going out, making mistakes and laughing about 'em the next morning. PBP wasn't as crazy as everyone else, remember, he had the tough schedule, but he was just as committed, which made his performance that semester all the better. He would study and work on papers until 4-5am just so he could go out the next night. The guy got a total of 27 hours a sleep each month, I' convinced. And why? Because time was running out, real life was on the horizon, and if he didn't go out and be a dumb kid with all of us, he'd never get to do it again.
That theme of "time running out before we're too old" doesn't seem to be going anywhere. It seems like we wanted to establish those last few months as the last time we were "young," but now that we're a few years removed, that desire to be considered "young" hasn't gone anywhere. We've just made new excuses to be young. "We're freshmen in the real world," Rachael always says. After all, we all have bosses, and most of them are older, right? Those are the old guys.
This is how we all live. We live by this desire to feel young. Even when I have kids, I'll probably take them to Little League practice and look at the older parents and say to myself, "geez, I'm pretty young compared to these guys." When I enter my first retirement home, I'll walk by a 97 year-old man and call him a "geezer." Somehow, I'm always going to find that excuse to consider myself "young" in some capacity, because old almost seems like giving up, and Jeff Mangum wasn't about giving up, and neither were we. I'm sorry...correction--neither ARE we.
With PBP and I, our conversations and life situations have been significantly different since we were freshmen, and even more since college graduation. But somehow, that song is still implanted in our brains, more specifically, that lyric, on how we want to live life. Pretty Boy Pangle and I may never become huge successful actors or screenwriters or masters of the universe. We may continue to travel down the "one step at a time" lifestyle we embark on right now. But we make sure we enjoy it. We have to. It's as if that lyric in the song bonds our friendship to the point where we have to live and love every minute, otherwise we're letting the other guy down, and that’s not something either of us really care to do.
Last year, Rachael and I created a slide show with all of our pictures from the past year. We finished it off with "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea". It's the perfect slide show song. I can hear that song, picture a friend, and as the song plays, envision hundreds of great memories and pictures and moments I've shared with them. I've tried to do this with PBP, however, the 3 minutes, 22 seconds just isn't enough time.
I think back on the beer pouring incident(s), the back deck tears, a couple fun road trips, and about a thousand late night memories we don't really remember at all. But somehow, the song always ends, and there's too much left off the table. I'll forget late night conversations in Doak Campbell Stadium or the time he threw me out of the way when a drunk driver swerved my way (don't worry, he was only going like 18 MPH, but it was still a little scary). I always try to make a mental picture out of every memory and stick it into my mind while listening to our heterosexual love song. And somehow, the song always ends, and I can't get all the memories in there.
I guess with the best friendships, it's hard to keep count of all the beautiful things you have seen.
Random TV Thought of the Week
Last night, I was enjoying yet another lovely episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, when it occurred to me that every show idea they presented in their sketches seemed 2000 times funnier than every SNL sketch since Ferrell left the show. Do you think Lorne Michels has the stones to just fire the whole cast and all the writers and start from scratch with a young, hungry group of people looking to create funny TV? Something tells me there's a lot of politics in the writing staff and some young, funny writers can't be heard because some old guy who still swears by the More Cowbell sketch is still in charge. Did anyone see Studio 60's idea for "The Nicolas Cage Show?" That could be hilarious. Maybe SNL should just regurgitate old ideas with new actors and this newer society. I would watch Wally's World or something that mocked the old Chris Farley Show. I don't care if it's been done already, it was funny, and currently sketch comedy shows really suck, and I'm not happy about it. PS--Does anyone watch Mad TV? I know it's on, but I've never actually met anyone who watches it.
Random Sports Thought of the Week
It's time for the baseball playoffs! Woohoo. Actually, this year really doesn't excite me much. I grew up in Atlanta and am a diehard Braves fan, so let's just say this year is a little weird for me. Regardless, I can still take the fabulous "Anybody but the Yankees" approach to the postseason, even if there's a great chance the Bronx Bombers will win. I thought if the Twins played the Yankees in the 5 game series, the Twins would have a chance, but now, I don't see anyone stopping them, unfortunately. I can't wait for Mets fans to find out about how good Tom Glavine is in October, that should be fun. I guess I'm pulling for the A's, because I think Moneyball is a cool strategy, but with football going as great as it is now, there's a good chance I'll lose interest in baseball until April. Hope whoever you guys are pulling for (I know Chris is hoping his boys knock off the Yanks this week, and I really hope so, too) make a good run, and let's hope we don't see the guys in pinstripes celebrating at the end of the month. Weird Yankee tidbit to scare you: Looking down their roster, every player has been selected to an All-Star game in the last 3 years except one--Robinson Cano. But don't feel bad for Mr. Cano, he had the 3rd highest batting average in the American League this year.