Thursday, May 10, 2007

What if he was Heathcliff?

Headed up to the 32nd Ward tonight to see Michael Penn play at Schuba's. Schuba's is the type of place that makes for good concerts, and they tend to book the sort of acts who will benefit from the intimacy of the room.

Michael is the brother of Sean and the late Chris Penn, and you may recall him having a hit in 1990 with "No Myth," which you might think is called "Romeo in Black Jeans" or possibly "Someone to Dance With." He makes fun of this confusion in concert. He also hates to banter between songs.

It isn't that he cannot entertain a crowd with idle chat, it just seems to be something in which he has no interest. He's always looking for ways to replace this activity with something else. At a show I attended in 2000 (a tour with his wife, Aimee Mann) they used a comedian to handle all the chat that might need to take place while musicians were tuning. He was a great fit for the show, and the whole night was hugely entertaining.

This time, he had a microphone set up near the sound board for the audience to have a try. He told us that anything was fair game except for comments about him or Q & A. Most of us were reluctant to get up and try to entertain the crowd, but a couple of folks got up there and told a joke. I can't say this added much to the show, as Mr. Penn was far and away the best entertainer in the room. He usually got a laugh just responding to the person with the microphone. But of course, no one had come to see Slightly-Tipsy Middle-Aged Woman do her comedy routine.

He still sounds amazing, and there was a kazoo solo. What more needs to be said?

Schuba's was one of the places we were very hungry to play during the map of july years, but both times they asked us to come down were times when we were already booked to play another room. It was painful to have to decline. I'd still love to play Schuba's, but I have to admit that my chances are pretty slim unless I put together another band. Might happen one of these days. Who knows?


Don't forget to vote for your favorites in the GBA(s)FC #2. Take another look at the rules (at the bottom of the contest page) if you have any questions about how to do this.


Chris said...

I loved the duet he did with Aimee Mann on the I Am Sam soundtrack, Two of us. They both have done amazing soundtrack work.

Caroline said...

Will check the music out. Thanks.
Any chance of you forming a new band? (I am still perfecting Guitar Hero)

Anonymous said...

Never say never, Mr. Man Tippling. You may play Shubas yet.

Consider the scene. Your photographs hanging on the wall in that room, you with your band, and in between sets, you don't banter, you read from your novel. Whattaya say?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Everyone knows that three is the charm. I'm sure it will happen. When the musician is ready, the band appears.

The Moon Topples said...

Chris: His duets with his spouse have never done a whole lot for me, but their version of "Two of Us" is a pretty good one.

Caroline: I am waiting for you to master Guitar Hero. Until you do, I can't see much point in starting a new band.

GT: I like your scenario, but from the sounds of it, I'd have to own Schuba's for all of that to happen. Also kind of hard to transition from a song into an eerily mundane passage about a man taking a shower, I suspect.

HinSF: You mean they'll simply materialize in front of me? No Blue Fairy or anything required? That would be excellent.

Stray said...

Oh Maht!

Aimee Mann is my hero, though I still secretly hope she is a lesbian.

Wonderful music - and yes, kazoo solos say a lot about a person's sensibilities.

I'm so impressed you were invited to play there - I can feel your ache at having missed the opportunity. Recently I have been feeling that pang whenever I pass people performing music in the street. I miss gigging. You should definitely put together another band - and I've heard Ms M is a whizz on guitar.

I haven't gigged or written seriously for a long time, but I'd love to trade tunes sometime - for a giggle?


Anonymous said...

"You mean they'll simply materialize in front of me? No Blue Fairy or anything required? That would be excellent."

You know you just have to say you're ready and I'll be there.

Remember - put on your red shoes, click your heels three times, and say "there's no band like my band."

The Moon Topples said...

Stray: "Cheap sax" was what he said after whipping his head aside to dislodge the kazoo from his mouth so he could sing again.

OK, so Ms. M and Caroline on guitar. Looks like this band is gonna happen after all, provided we can rehearse over the internet, and never play any gigs.

Ian: I don't even have any red shoes. Maybe that's how far behind I am.

Unknown said...

Sounds like a fantastic gig. Cheap Sax! That's quite a line! I'm also liking the sound of the new band line up and you owning this place and the photos and the reading and ESPECIALLY the red shoes, you've got to get some red shoes.

Beth said...

I e-mailed you regarding the contest and with my votes and have had complaints my e-mails aren't reaching people. This is my way of making sure -- did you receive an e-mail?

I wish more comments were on all stories. I think the anonymous thing was terrific, but I don't think it actually worked 100%. There's one terrific story that only received one comment besides my own, so I'm thinking people knew who wrote what and went to individual pieces.

Or I could be paranoid.

Either way, if I ever do one of these contests, it'll be every entry has to vote and has to comment on every other entry. I would think it would be just common sense and conscience, but I guess not.

I'll stop whining now. Haha.

The Moon Topples said...

Ver: If I get red shoes, the angels'll want 'em. Of course, then I won't get any older.

Beth: I did receive your email.

Obviously, you are free to host your own contests and run them however you see fit. To my mind, requiring comments on all entries from all authors would result in a large percentage of comments which mean very little. People process things differently, and reading or liking an entry does not always necessitate a written response. While I agree that getting comments on a story can be useful for the authors, I simply do not believe that forcing people to write comments serves any purpose at all.

I know that in some creative writing classes and such each person might stand up and read a story and everyone is expected to have opinions and criticism for their fellows. I am not, however, running a creative writing class. While authors are expected to vote for their top five favorites, they are allowed to do so anonymously, and to comment or not comment as they choose.

Additionally, the notion of all authors commenting on all stories is clearly at odds with the notion of anonymity. If an author left a comment on every entry but his or her own, one could easily deduce which entry belonged to which entrant.

I work very hard on these contests, attempting to make them as fun and user-friendly as possible. When something does not work, I make an effort to rectify it. In this instance, I happen to disagree with your proposed solution to a problem which may or may not exist. You have made your feelings clear in several comments on several posts, and now I feel compelled to ask you to stop.

I am rarely accused of lacking common sense or a conscience, and I do not at all appreciate your posting of such insinuations here on my blog.

This contest is supposed to be a fun way to draw writers together, Beth. I am truly sorry that you do not seem to be having any fun here.

Beth said...

I just wanted to say, if there were twenty-something and up stories, I think people would have a very hard time figuring out who was who because they'd have to go around marking down all of who's who. Although, if anyone did do that, I'd give them mucho credit. LOL

I think I'm coming across seriously than I am with this. I feel it's a "bummer" and I prattle on, but I don't feel this is earth shattering. Sorry if it came across like that. I am neurotic so it comes across as angst, I think.

I used to be a monthly columnist for a woman's magazine. I'm already published. I'm just neurotic as well. Haha. (laughing even though it's true)

I still thank you for all the hard work as I know it must be. Oh, just wanted to address -- I wasn't directing "common sense or conscience" to you. I apologize if it came across that way as well. I was saying to writers who enter a contest and only comment on a few or no stories, who don't vote, etc. I was saying this to me was the above common sense, etc. thing. Just wanted to clarify that as I know the written word gets twisted in cyberspace. I want to be clear with mine. I don't want to be a whiner or a titty baby and since I'm sure I've already been read like that, I will promptly stop. =)


Stray said...

Goodness me!

I wish my fiction-nerves were in any way alleviated by the journalism and tech writing publishing I've had. If anything to be honest that simply makes it worse - because I know I can structure a sentence, so if my fiction is rubbish it's simply because I make up boring stories or insubstantial characters! Ouch!

I would have to say, I'd never enter a comp where I had the pressure of reviewing all the other entries as well - especially as at the start we had no idea if there would be six or sixty. It simply wouldn't work.

Beth, I actually really resent the idea that other writers who haven't commented lack "common sense" or "conscience". I didn't enter the comp to get comments, so it seems bizarre to me to project that as a desperate need on to the other entrants. I assume that, like me, most people wrote because they like writing, not because they want to be read. (Can you see the difference?).

Also, common sense says to me that I should spend some time doing things that aren't obsessively all about this competition. It took long enough to write an entry and read the other 25, consider my votes and comment where I felt I had something I passionately wanted to say. I feel that I've given exactly the amount of energy that I would like to, and I'd really resent being instructed to give more. I have other blogs to read, and non blogging things to do.

Maht has run a fantastic competition as far as I see it. In fact - at the beginning Maht encouraged me to see it as a 'festival' rather than a 'competition'. And for me, that's exactly how it has felt.

Thanks Maht - and feel free to delete this if it's too blunt. As you know, I'm still whacked on pain meds and probably more verbose than normal!


Caroline said...

I haven't entered this competition, mainly because I am rather rubbish and silly busy. I read Maht's blog and I enjoy it. I enjoy it a lot.

The people who comment and visit are generally lovely, supportive and genuine. I come into contact with a lot of them on other blogs too.

Maht has designed this competition and put into it effort and attention to detail. His regular readers feel comfortable with him and his process.

I have no intention of asking people which story they wrote. I don't want to know. I read and I comment when and if a comment jumps into my head. If I felt that I had to comment and each and every story, I would panic.

I come and go. I have other things to do. But my desire to come back is because I am not pressured to do so and this is due to the feel on this blog. The notion of common sense and conscience in relation to this, scares me somewhat. Writing and reading should be covered in enjoyment.

Maht - thanks you for doing this competition and for giving me lots of interesting stories to read. You're a star and I have enjoyed spending some of my Sunday on your blog.


Unknown said...

Are you just saying you wouldn't be seen dead in a pair of red shoes? Is this a general aversion to red, or just shoes?

Unknown said...

I think that Beth has made a very pertinent point but I have to say I disagree. I would never enter a competition if I thought that I had to comment on each and every entry.
I think it also has to be said that different writers have differing approaches to 'competitions'. My competition has finished by the time I have sent off my entry. It is nice to win something, but for me (call me a strange fish) it is the actual writing that is the exciting part. I also love reading other people's work.
As far as comments go - I was annoyed recently on another competition, that some people found it necessary to critique some of the entries, some even going so far as to suggest what they themselves would do with the piece. I think most writers would agree that once a 'slaved over' piece is finished for a comp, it is finished. Many writers had taken the plunge for the first time and surely this is not the place to have your work ripped apart?
I think support is great but critique should come afterwards and at the request of the writer?
Maht's competitions are perfect, designed to encourage writers to write and to give that support through anonimity for the first timer. I will continue to enter Maht, in my non-competitive way, and will also continue to egg on my personal favourite to the finishing post. We are all writers after all and those of us lucky enough to have been published should understand the process that can make or break a good writer.