I made the most of my day off today by sleeping in late. Ah, extended uninterrupted melatonin-enhanced REM sleep, how we love you. Around 5 or so, as the snow was beginning to fall, bex77 and audioboy picked me up and we headed on down to the S&S for a little knish-n-gab. I had the knish but we all had the gab, and it was good to see them again after a while, as I didn't get much chance to talk to either of them much after Talley's Folly. Neil's got a great idea for an experimental anthology kind of radio drama series, and I'm thinking about dreaming up a little contribution in the form of handy 10-minute chunks. I'm looking at some kind of pulpy sci-fi Flash Gordon kind of thing. 10 minutes is enough to push a serial forward, that's for sure, and if it's a comedy, which I'm sure it will end up being if I have anything to do with it, 10 minutes will be more than enough. (Miz Beth, if you'd be so kind as to see me after this post, would be much appreciated, thank you.)
Sadly, CAT TOWN IN SPAAAAAAAAAAAAACE won't work here because nobody wants to holler for 10 minutes straight, unless they're reactionary talk radio fans.
After finishing knishing, I hung around in Inman Square with Neil to catch a benefit for modpixie's feature film project, a retelling of the Celtic ballad "Tam Lin." I had an insanely good time at the show, and was glad that it went on despite the rotten weather, even if that meant the turnout wasn't as good as it really should have been. Nevertheless, I was very happy to see the live production of a transcribed Lights Out radio episode ("The Revolt of the Worms") replete with sound effects (minimalist compared to 1940s radio standards, but just as effective, if not moreso) and appropriately earnest expository dialogue. The best pulpy horror tales were done with defeatist interior monologues, weren't they?
But I was really surprised, and truly psyched, to see and listen to the live performances of ukulele and banjo tunes. There seems to be quite the scene in Cambridge and Somerville these days of retro 20s-style acts, and that's quite all right by me. I'm always happy when the older fellow with the tuba or euphonium or what-have-you is doing his thing in Park Street Station, singing and playing old standards from yesteryear that nobody else around remembers the words to. I loved Jean Shepherd's iconoclastic fixation with playing tunes of nickelodeon pieces on his radio show, as well as "Sheik of Araby", "Bei Mir Bist du Schoen" (which he'd sing as "The Bear Missed The Train") and "After You've Gone" on the jew's harp. I've noticed that no matter what "modern" era since WWII, there's been at least one fringe cultural group still keeping that kind of jazz standard around, if only for their own benefit. I admire that. I respect that.
The music played was a mix of standards such as Paper Moon and Mr. Sandman, and newer pieces, including one that began with "Houdini always thought outside the box" and an incredibly wonderful memento mori-tinged ode to Tutankhamen with some excellent internal rhyming (such as "You make a terrific hieroglyphic...") Craig Robertson, the main ukulele player, dressed nattily for the occasion and had a voice that sounded uncannily like Tom Lehrer's in the upper notes. Just as I was about to note this to Neil, Craig mentioned "a mathematician who lives in Cambridge wrote a few songs in the 1950s" and proceeded to perform a version of "The Masochism Tango." Un-canny. Very entertaining. His accompanist in the first act was a member of The Sob Sisters, another act devoted to perpetuating the songs of yesteryear in excellent flapper-inspired getup. Honestly, what's not to like? This is a scene I can very easily make, if anybody ever says "make the scene" anymore. Well, maybe I'll just have to start.
It was also very nice to speak to modpixie for a bit before and after the show. It's pretty clear she's a shameless nostalgian, too, and that's wonderful. I've always maintained the world needs more of this and I can't wait for another chance to play the "D'you Remember?" game with her again. Ever prodigious, she's just started a new Boston nostalgia blog after a thread in the b0st0n community, and it promises to be entertaining and enlightening for those of us who have been known to chirp "I can walk like a pen-guin!" whenever we see a tuxedo bird, and who mourn the loss of such venerable banking institutions such as Baybank or Shawmut.
(Actually, I never was one to mourn Shawmut's demise, as I never had any good experiences with them. I wonder if tikva still has the Wheelchair-Accessible sign that we tore off the ATM with the too-narrow doorway in a collective fit of pique one night. Aw, we were young, no one could tell us we were wrong, and ain't no way was a wheelchair gonna fit through that door without some power tools and a bit of moxie.)
The wind's still shaking the house around a bit, causing the water level in the toilet to rise and fall and the cats to stare pointedly at the deck door. It'll be a nice setting to doze off in while the lava lamp burns. This was an exceptionally good day off and a welcome change of pace, I must say. Makes a fellow feel alive.