Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Goin' back to Norfolk

Saturday, April 3: Graham Parker @ Infinity Hall, Norfolk

I'm pretty fired up about returning to my favorite high-brow music venue to see Graham Parker. I saw the "pub rock" (whatever that is!) legend play a few years ago at one of those outdoor summer concert thingies and he was charming and witty and self-deprecating and just great. This time he'll be playing with a full band (The Figgs), which is even more exciting. Actually, I totally know what pub rock is, because I saw Nick Lowe play at Infinity, back in October according to my blog, CT Scenic. He was adorable and charming and witty also. Or maybe it's just those British accents and I'm totally shallow. They could just be saying anything.

No, that's not it. I mean, I am... but Graham Parker really is hilarious. Check out his recent Youtube entry:

YSIS Early Bird Special

Saturday, April 3: YSIS video shoot @ Real Art Ways, Hartford

This Saturday morning, drag your hungover asses out of bed and make your way to Real Art Ways for 7 a.m. to take part in a music video shoot for semi-local heroes You Scream I Scream. We're attention-whores as well as early risers, and have fully enjoyed these cats in concert (check out our FB pics), so count on us to be there.

From the PR: "To sign up for the April 3 music video shoot, please email Jennifer Crookes Carpenter at with the names of all members of your party and the ages of any children."

What's Hot at the Lot: Everything!

At my advanced age, it is inevitable that much of life's pleasure should for me be reduced to the vicarious - hence: the blog, etc. I want to tell you about great things and relish your enjoyment of them. Almost as if it were my own. So when I found out yesterday that my school-and-carpoolmate had never been to Ocean State Job Lot, we just had to make a stop! (It was totally on our way.) I imagine that for Cynthia, this moment was like that scene in Clerks where Randal falls to his knees at the superior video store - an "aaaahhhh" moment.

It was. She didn't know what to look at first - the gardenware, the orange bathing suits, the orange running shirts - she sure loves orange shit! My most frequented department - the cheap eats - was a hit, of course.

We mostly stocked up on snacks for our horrible, neverending school days, but also made some bargain swim and athletic ware purchases. And seeing the Lot through the virgin eyes of my friend really rekindled the romance for me.

(We got to snacking immediately)

Scene on Screen: Red Riding 1974, 1980

It's a bit of a non-technical reviewer's cliche to describe movies and music with terms like atmospheric, bleak and gritty, but if the shoe fits... How else to describe the first two episodes of this made-for-British-TV trilogy based on a series of novels by David Pease, themselves a fictionalized account of the Yorkshire Ripper murders and other events. Each episode features a different director, focuses on different characters and events, and sets itself far apart from the kinds of spoon-fed crime scene investigation procedural fantasy dramas that are such a popular staple of American television. These features are a product of Britain's Channel 4, which I suppose makes them a miniseries, but that doesn't sound very sexy, and here in the USA we're receiving them as indie cinema. They definitely have the quality to justify theatrical viewing (quick - go see them at Real Art Ways or catch them on IFC on demand).

As usual, pre-screening I avoided reading too much information about this series, or the events upon which it is ostensibly based to keep my preconceived notions at a minimum. And since the events depicted on screen are highly fictionalized and at times extremely ambiguous, this turned out to be a fine approach. Rather than taking a lurid focus on a killer or obsessing over graphic crime scene details, the series positions the murdered and disappeared women and girls as a backdrop to an ongoing investigation by both police and journalists, loosely connected by geography, a horrifically corrupt West Yorkshire police department, and other acts of shocking, cold-blooded violence.

1974 stands very well on it's own as a work of fiction. In this story, a semi-idealistic young journalist (Andrew Garfield, another former Dr. Who player) attempts to mount his own investigation into a series of disappearances of young girls, in which he fails miserably at maintaining objective distance from the victims and their survivors and gets in far too deep when he uncovers the scope of corruption at play in the local police department and community. The film's look and "atmosphere" are convincingly 1970s (I guess... wasn't born yet, actually), thoroughly bleak and gritty, and extremely disorienting, saddling the viewer with the same horror, confusion, and revelations that come a bit too late for the film's protagonist. This is highly effective approach, and sure to disappoint anyone expecting a neat conclusion. Was anybody expecting one?

1980 is another era, with a different style, and different tone (still bleak and all, just differently so). We have a new director (James Marsh, recently known for Man on Wire), and a new would-be hero, Detective Peter Hunter, portrayed with such sad-eyed sincerity by Paddy Considine. Hunter is an outsider tasked with reviewing West Yorkshire's investigation into another set of serial killings - this time the victims are adult women, including prostitutes. He's looking for an overlooked murderer in the department's extensive files, but like the journalist Dunford in the previous installment, he also finds himself up against cops who will go to any lengths to protect their own and cover for their past incompetence and complicity with the violent, climactic fallout from the previous film. This installment directly concerns the crimes and apprehension of the Yorkshire Ripper, but while this story provided the general history that inspired the novels, just like in 1974 these crimes and criminal that ought to be everybody's focus end up taking a back seat to the tense conflict that builds between Hunter, the police force and local baddies, which are also the elements that tie the two films together.

Again without being too spoilery, let it suffice to say that while a killer has been caught, no kind of resolution has been reached regarding the events that are the real action of both films by this point. I am sufficiently immersed in the story and frustrated by the injustices portrayed thus far that I am on the edge of my seat to see get to the final chapter, 1983. Themes for the series seem to be man's infinite capacity for corruption and violence and impunity for evil deeds, so I'm not expecting any kind of happy ending.

1974 finishes its RAW run tomorrow - so run out and see it. 1980 and 1983 will play for the next week or so - check the schedule. And check the trailer.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

ScenicVision has arrived

KT tells us about actin', singin' and fat ladies.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Three part murder

March 26-April ?: Red Riding Trilogy @ Real Art Ways, Hartford

We don't have a lot of time to run out and see every movie that comes along - we only see the really bleak, nasty ones. Oh, and Avatar - Jackie Scenic loved that shit. But usually it's a strict diet of grim indie drama or elitist indie comedy.

The Red Riding Trilogy falls into the former category. The trilogy comprises three films based on four novels by David Peace, a fictionalized account of the Yorkshire Ripper killings and their investigation. Each part has a different director and is named for a different year - 1974, 1980 and 1983. Part 1 (1974) will run March 26 through April 1, with the subsequent installments soon to follow. The trailer, which we aren't allowed to embed, promises a dismal journey - our favorite kind - which has us all excited, especially when we consider that viewing all three parts will be a major multi-week commitment. We're in.

We're a bit late to the party here in Hartford - New Haven's Criterion Cinemas is already playing 1980.

AV Club Endorsed!

Adorable Underground: Saturday @ Artspace New Haven

Saturday March 27: The Smittens and The Wee Bees @ ArtSpace New Haven "Underground"

Tweefort Records is bringing more sickly sweet music to New Haven Saturday night. The Smittens of Burlington, VT play indie pop tunes so adorable - twee, even - you'll want to throw up... err, smile. You'll want to smile. Big. They'll be playing with The Wee Bees, a new shoegaze influenced band out of New Haven, who also seem very nice, the kind of band you'd bring home to mom. We might not normally be able to stomach this, but we happen to be in love right now (with ourselves) so this show of twee might be just the ticket this weekend!

We are psyched about the independent artists, promotor and venue. We are also excited about receiving a press release (which promised booze, a DJ and performance art as well) about this event in our email, just like a real media outlet! Thanks, Tweefort - xoxo.

Check out lots of samples of the Smittens on their homepage, and here they are on youtube crushing on a sexy librarian:

Pizza Tetris

OK, here's the setup...

What's our next block gonna be? Oh, look, it's the "L"!

Rotate... rotate...

Drop it in... perfect fit!

That's two rows cleared! Score!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Avon doesn't wanna be Scenic CT

This article in the Hartford Courant explains that the town voted against having its stretch of Farmington river designated "wild and scenic," and details certain benefits that the label could bestow, including access to National Parks Service funding, but fails to mention what, if any, restrictions this would place on the site in terms of development and whatnot (which we assume is why the Repubs were against it?). The Farmington River Watershed Association has been working hard to convince various towns along to the river to be "wild and scenic." This sounds like an agenda we can get behind.

Oh Cromwell, Where Art Thou?

The Scenics had quite the wild, wild Saturday night. After braiding each others' hair, we headed to Tisane to find out where the party was at. From there we were sent on a wild goose chase to find a monthly "Women's Party" which neither Scenic had ever heard of, let alone been to. Our destination was the Rock Cafe in Cromwell, and we had only some sketchy directions and a shrill-voiced GPS to guide us.

The directions were no good, and since we didn't have an actual address, the chick inside the GPS couldn't help us. What were the Scenics to do? After photographing some Cromwell kitsch, we phoned an internets-savvy fan, who researched the wereabouts of said ladyfest. As it turns out, Cromwell has two streets, and we were on the wrong one. (Well, the right one if you are looking for painted cattle and other white-trashery).

We were actually in the wrong town altogether. The bar is on Cromwell Ave, but in Rocky Hill.

The Rock Cafe was all that we could have hoped for. Once you realize that it only looks closed, a burly gentlemen stumbles out of a truck, assures you that he is not actually a lesbian, and then asks you for your I.D. and $7. The cover charge must go toward the 90's time machine they have inside. It plays such hits as Nelly's "Hot in Herre" and "Last Resort" by Papa Roach. The ladies on the dance floor not only knew all the words, but had all the right moves!

As expected, the real party was in the bathroom.

Much like our periods, this party goes down once a month, every third Saturday. The Rock Cafe website has no mention of it, but these photos are proof that it actually happened. Other monthly dyke nights include the infamous Club Lucy, every second Saturday at the Chez Est; First Sundays at Tisane; and Twilo, every fourth Saturday at Parters Cafe in New Haven. Get your gay on, or just take a musical journey back in time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Where are your priorities? Too much to do Saturday...

Previously we've called this kind of decision Sophie's choice for scene sluts, a turn of phrase so witty we have to quote ourselves on it... Anyhoo, this weekend Saturday night is kind of that all over again, only more so, because there's even more enticing sounding events we wish we could somehow simultaneously attend - like in that excellent young adult sci-fi novel from the 80s, The Duplicate by excellent young adult sci-fi writer William Sleator, where the adolescent main character wants to be able to do all the boring crap he has to do and also hang out with his girlfriend, and he finds this weird machine that makes duplicates of things, including living things, and he copies himself, thinking the duplicate is just gonna do his bidding, but the duplicate feels just as entitled to the fun things and the girlfriend, and is just a little bit psychotic (slightly imperfect copy, duh), and, you know... conflict, tension, rising action, climax, resolution. Loved it!

So about Saturday night. We're sure many of you will be attending the latest event and show by the lovely Libertine Collective, Welcome to Bohemia, which will feature music by the Kelvins, Hannah's Field and Kate Callahan (we totally know all of them, and they're really nice), DJ Crypt, something called a Spring Equinox convocation by Dawn Manogue, live painting by Libertine mastermind H.L. Groen, "and more."

We've already strongly suggested checking out Murder By Death at Quinnipiac University. This band is just awesome.

Some of our favored CT musicians have gigs we'd like to attend as well. Like Steven Deal, who is actually playing in NYC, your favorite weekend destination, at a bar with a very poor internet presence called Uncle Mike's. Amusing hard rockers Weird Hero will be playing a gig at the B&G Lounge in South Windsor. We can't remember if this is the quirky band featuring Jay Messier that sings about Ronnie James Dio or the quirky band featuring Jay Messier that sings about beer as a basic life function in Bristol, but either way you win. We'd also like to go to Rudy's in New Haven for Clearlight Industries and Sex and Death USA and delicious Belgian fries.

How to choose? Isn't choosing one like dissing the others? Maybe we'll just stay home talking to the cats and braiding each other's hair.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Everybody Dance Now (and by now, we mean later)

Thursday, April 8: Dancing with the Connecticut Stars @ The Pond House, West Hartford

Overlooking the fact that rising CT stars Katie & Jackie Scenic will not be featured as performers (and cannot actually afford to attend), this upcoming evening at the Pond House sounds like a fantastic time - for other people. The event is a benefit for some kind of children's dance charity and is presented by CONNectic Dance Company and the Ballet Theatre Company. So yay, tax deductions, stuff, uh, we don't make enough money to even pay taxes, but more to the point, there will be live music, an open wine bar, and food which will no doubt be delicious. The Pond House Cafe's food is brilliant, and the Elizabeth Park setting is lovely. Maybe we can get gay married there one day... But we digress! The main event will be a dance competition by CT stars, including amusing radio & newspaper guy Colin McEnroe, state senator Jonathan Harris, and most significantly (for us), WWE Hall of Famer and professional role model Sgt. Slaughter. We watched a fair share of wrestling back in his heyday and can hardly believe he'll be dancing with our stars.

OK, this is weird:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Emerging Artists at RAW CCH

Thursday, March 18: Emerging Artists "Slide Slam" & Creative Cocktail Hour @ Real Art Ways, Hartford

It's almost like "as if you needed reminding," seeing as we've personally scored most of our readers at Real Art Ways events (and scored with them after), but nevertheless, some people we actually know, as well as some of our Facebookies still haven't attended at all, so here's a reminder to come out for this month's Creative Cocktail Hour artsy booze/schmooze fest at Real Art Ways this Thursday. You can head right over after checking out the big gay gallery event at CCSU. It'll be like a really short gallery crawl. No crawling though. Too far. This month's event will feature art projected on the walls by a selection of "emerging" area artists. (You get the graphic, right? The facehuggers are emerging from the shell. And they're artists.) There will be live music by 12 the Band.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Oh swoon - it's our boyfriend!

Friday, March 19: Jann Klose @ Buttonwood Tree, Middletown

We found Jann Klose to be ever so charming, both musically and personally when he played at Sully's in the fall. We're glad to see he's returning to our area this week for a show at the Buttonwood Tree in Middletown. We've never been there. It sounds awfully wholesome though. Well, Jann sounds pretty wholesome too. He has the loveliest voice. Jann was on teevee in CT recently, check it out:

Fun Fact: Jann's bass player (who will be playing the Buttonwood event) has performed and recorded with Jay-Z.

Fun Opinion: Jay-Z's newest song/video is just great. Somebody bring us back some money. Please!

It's Gonna Be Murder

Saturday, March 20: Murder By Death @ Alumni Hall, Quinnipiac University, Hamden

The best bands have "murder" in their name. Last month Jackie Scenic and I were lucky enough to catch Murder City Devils, reunited in NYC, which was tremendous. This week we have a chance to see equally - but differently - awesome murder band, Murder By Death, play at Quinnipiac University in Hamden this Saturday. Boy, that's a strange venue choice. We hope it won't be too polite and formal for such musical badassery as this band has to offer.

For the uninitiated, Murder By Death are one of the pioneers of the indie/Americana thing that's been trendy lately (I called it hipstercana, and some other names), and they do it better than anyone else, thanks in particular to frontman Adam Turla's sexy Johnny Cash-esque voice and epic lyrics, and cellist Sarah Balliet's sexy cello playing.

Oh! How exciting is this? MBD will return to our area for a show at New Haven's Cafe 9 on May 1. These are both Saturday night shows, so no excuses!

Check out this fun video for "Brother," which should help you get all excited about the show:

P.S. if you're really into my opinions (you are, obvs), you can find my previously published articles & reviews from paying publications in MBD's press section.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Queer Central: Teh Gayz @ CCSU

Revealed: The Tradition of Male Homoerotic Art @ CCSU Galleries, New Britain

"Some of our best friends are gay" and we have totally heard of Tom of Finland (who additionally appeals to Katie Scenic's Scandinavia fetish), so we're definitely psyched about this retrospective exhibition of male homoerotic art at Central Connecticut State University (a school not normally known for its hipness or edge, other than producing stellar graduate KS). We plan to attend the opening reception this Thursday, March 18 (4:30-8:30 pm), and expect to experience warm, tingly sensations (not just from the wine - wine! at school!), identify content for our "penis i see" tag, and run into KS's favorite CCSU professors, who just happen to be gay, so they better represent, yo.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Logic Fail on Liquor Sales

In a surprise to no one, a proposal to allow Sunday alcohol sales in CT died in committee this week. A story in the Hartford Courant lays out the sides of the story, including boohoo-ing by liquor store owners about how being forced to stay open another day would cause them to go under because they wouldn't make any additional money in sales and they'd have to pay their employees more - possibly even overtime hours!

But having wallowed in the dregs of menial employment ourselves, we happen to know that business owners are very clever and have lots of ways of not paying people overtime - like not employing them on a full-time basis in the first place. We have also seen restaurants and bakeries resort to outlandish tactics like not staying open every day of the week, or closing early on certain days, in spite of the legality of food sales seven days a week, round the clock. They are not forced to be open just because, say, McDonald's is.

Also mentioned is some uptight representative from Wallingford, Mary Mushinsky, who somehow managed to interject concerns about underage drinking into the debate. What this has to do with Sundays, the world may never know. Young folks will drink any old day they can.

The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association added their two cents, suggesting that another day of in-state alcohol sales might lead to more drinking and driving, which is of course ridiculous, because liquor store purchases are generally consumed in private homes as opposed to bars that people drive to, and routinely drive home drunk from. LOL - it's so crazy how bars let you get all drunk, and they serve you that "last call" drink and then kick you out like five minutes later! If they are really worried about drinking and driving, the crackdown should begin in the parking lot outside the bar.

We don't own a tragic small business, liquor or otherwise, in CT, so we can't pretend to understand the full economics of the situation. But we've sometimes had the privilege of Sundays off and consider Sunday nights prime social time (HBO original series dates, anyone?), and we can't count the number of times we might have picked up a bottle of something if we had that option. We're not alcoholics so we haven't done the whole "drive to Massachusetts for booze" thing. Not since we were teenagers anyway.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Vague-Ass Open Mic

Jackie Scenic has previously painted a rosy picture of Hartford's Vegas Blvd. drinking hole (hole being the operative word), so I just had to visit and see for myself. Lo and behold - Vegas has got a lot to offer. You can get giant beers, and tasty pizza:

Or a heaping portion of cheesy fries:

Who knows? You might even see this guy:


Tonight, you will definitely see this guy:

Bret "the One Man Band," beloved by hipsters, punksters and RAWsters alike, will host an open mic on Wednesdays. Watch, participate. Perhaps Jackie Scenic will be persuaded to play us a tune one of these nights, if you buy her stuff (i.e. drinks).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mythbusters: The Star Shuttle

Yes, this thing really exists, and it's actually free. It only takes you in a circuit around downtown Hartford, but it hits all your favorite happy hour spots. And Union Station. And the Science Center!

We took it for a spin last week from the Convention Center to the Asylum Cafe. The driver was very nice and told us how important it is to keep a tight schedule when driving the Star Shuttle. The shuttle runs every 12 minutes until 11pm.

KT wants a beer NOW, but he'll have to wait, we're almost there!

Jess can hardly believe the Star Shuttle is for real!

Monday, March 8, 2010

What Not To Hear: Pretty Much Everything @ Toad's Place

Visit Toad's Place on the web and see them proudly proclaim to be "Where the Legends Play." Yeah, legends like local hip hop artist Beef? Or Ty Ty - whoever that is. Or rappers beloved by white hipsters, Jedi Mind Tricks? Go to Toad's Place in real life and look at all those rock legends on the walls... Then scan the calendar for rock legends like the Shakedown Grateful Dead tribute band? And Uncle Kracker? MXW Pro Wrestling?

Get it together Toad's Place.

(to their credit Toad's Place has upcoming dates by recently hip bands the Hold Steady and OK Go)

Alkaline Trio: the carpet doesn't match the drapes

Tuesday, March 9: Alkaline Trio @ The Webster, Hartford

Alkaline Trio have defined themselves visually with lovely goth imagery (see above) and costume, earned a reputation for "dark" lyrics, and look just great with their tattoos and eyeliner and shit, but when it comes down to it, their music, which some guy from Rolling Stone audaciously described as "exquisite doom-pop," actually sounds just as polished and shiny and ear-friendly as what you've come to expect from bands on Epitaph Records, and fits in quite comfortably with what the kids have been into as far as emo-influenced rock in recent years. (Think AFI? Yeah, like we know what the kids are into...) So we don't entirely get it. But hey, we can dig a little goth imagery and ear-friendly melodiousness. They play the Webster Tuesday (tomorrow!) with Cursive, who we've totally heard of, and some band called The Dear & Departed.

In other news: Gross, it's Monday. Again.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Happy Birthday, Darrell "Sully" Sullivan (of Sully's, duh)

Today is Darrell "Sully" Sullivan's birthday, so we extend our best wishes to the owner of one of our favorite bars, Sully's Pub, which has provided the setting for social retardation, great music, terrible music, Long Island ice teas in a pint glass, and employment at various points over the past decade.

Tonight you can catch him and his band, Tongue and Cheek, performing at Sully's, you know, in between checking out that Hartford Hardcore art thingie and Al from the Pist at Wrench in the Works and everything else you're all psyched about this weekend. We think it's pretty cool that Darrell started singing with a band "late(r) in life," after all that hanging around with musicians and running a venue. You can also usually catch Darrell (and sometimes Jackie Scenic & friends) performing at Sully's Wednesday karaoke nights.

Here's Darrell performing at his B-Day last year:

Early Show Tonight: Wrench in the Works

Saturday, March 6: The Sawtelles, Al Ouimet & more @ Wrench in the Works, Willimantic

We've mentioned before what underground badasses we were in high school... here's another opportunity for us to catch up with former CT Punk Idol Al "Pist" Ouimet doing his solo thing tonight at Wrench in the Works, along with a mixed bag of other bands we haven't really heard of (because we're kind of old to be keeping on top of these kinds of things now): The Revolution is my Boyfriend (folkies from Manchester, CT not UK), Night of the Rabbit (couldn't they just say "lepus"?), Zoo Front, The Sawtelles, Malcolm Tent.

Ugh, MySpace is so slow, we can't even deal with linking all those bands. We're sure they're fabulous. Go see what Al from the Pist is up to.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hardcore Art This Saturday

We've been seeing this spiffy poster up around town, and have been assured personally by the event organizers (we totally - sort of - know them) that the opening party this Saturday night will rock. The poster promises installation and other work by local artists at MUSE Gallery, 1429 Park St., Hartford. We don't have any further information at this time, but inquiries have been made and we will keep you posted.

In other news: It's March. Already.

Baby G Back Again

Thursday, March 4: Arborea, Alexander Turnquist, Ponybird, Baby G @ The Space, Hamden

We've mentioned before how much we love and lust after New Haven based blues babe Baby G, so we're excited to see she's been added to a bill at The Space this week, opening up for some other interesting sounding artists (take it away, CT Indie). Baby G is really something special - melancholic vintage blues and sly, caustic lyricked (yeah, totally not a word) originals.