An electric guitar/ Nobody plays like you.
So a couple of months ago now I joined Netflix for the third time. The first was in like 2003 or 2004, when I was living in my first post-college apartment in Evanston, Illinois, and it's lame but I remember we felt pretty much almost futuristic signing up, especially because my first year in town there wasn't even a movie theater within walking distance, and the closest video rental store was still way too far away for any night wintry and miserable enough that you'd just want to stay in and watch a video. The second time I joined Netflix was in New York, and I can't remember if we started the subscription in Queens or in Brooklyn, but I gave it as a gift to Mrs. Des Noise, so I didn't personally have easy access to picking out movies, which was unfortunate because I'm the one who obsesses more about stuff like that and spends more time on a computer, and we were both working so much that in our time off we wanted to talk or hang out with friends or rest, so Netflix probably made a bigger profit off us than just about anyone else, and then when we moved to Des Moines we decided we'd skip the expense and just pick out movies from the library, which was great because it meant we ended up seeing all kinds of hilarious screwball comedies I'd never seen before, classic stuff like Bringing Up Baby or The Awful Truth or His Girl Friday or The Philadelphia Story, fast-talking metropolitan movies that reminded me that the Boomer generation's narrative of the pre-rock'n'roll 1950s as some kind of Edenic time we either must return to or rebel against is just a gross over-simplification of actual history, because I mean, it's 1938 and Cary Grant is saying he's "gone gay!" or it's 1940 and Katherine Hepburn is asking, "You haven't switched from liquor to dope by any chance, have you Dexter?"

Anyway we signed up again and it's a lot better now because we still only have one DVD out at a time but now as you probably know you can watch movies instantly if you have a device like a Nintendo Wii, which we do, because we asked for it last Christmas thinking our first winter back in the Midwest was bound to be cold and sort of isolating so we might as well have something fun to pass the time (the weather turned out to be worse than I expected, one of Iowa's snowiest winters of the century, but we actually had a lot more going on than we'd thought, as you know if you were reading this blog). Well, as you can probably guess because we were too busy to watch DVDs before we moved here we also were too busy to watch a lot of TV shows, although I still make a habit of DVR-ing "The Colbert Report" and "South Park" and Mrs. Des Noise has been known to add reruns of "Who's the Boss?" just so friends like Emily or Kim can make fun of us for how impossibly out of it we are. So one of the best things about Netflix Instant Queue for us has been being able to catch up on some of these TV shows everybody has been talking about, especially the ones that are only a half-hour long because without commercials those are only like 20 minutes so it's easy to watch another one or quit watching whenever. I don't understand how everybody has an attention span for so many 60-minute shows because if I had that kind of attention span anymore in my free time I like to imagine I'd use it to read a book or write a blog post or whatever.

One of the shows we've been watching a lot lately is "30 Rock." We actually watched at least one season of this before, the previous time we had Netflix, but it's a lot easier when you don't have to change out the DVDs (it's even better than DVR, because you don't have to fast-forward through the commercials and then always end up watching the commercials anyway because DirecTV for some reason always puts you a few seconds before where you thought you were when you stopped fast-forwarding). We're at the start of season three now. Usually I feel embarrassed talking about this stuff because we're so behind, but my ex-colleague Nick Sylvester, who I gave sort of a hard time yesterday in my most recent post on account of his talking about belonging to a "clique," tweeted the other day about how he's finally watching "The Sopranos" and needs like a support group because nobody else wants to discuss it, and the blog Pitchfork Reviews Reviews has been writing a lot about "Seinfeld" lately, so I feel like maybe we're at a moment where there's more currency than usual for talking about TV shows that aren't current. Also I keep seeing "30 Rock" mentioned on Twitter because of Brian Williams appearing on a new one or whatever, so maybe it's current after all? Anyway one of my favorite episodes that we've seen is the one with Gladys Knight, where you keep hearing her name almost subliminally in the background throughout the episode, and then-- well, I don't want to spoil it any more if you're like I was and haven't seen it.

So basically the premise of the "30 Rock" series pilot, as I recall, was that Alec Baldwin's character gets promoted and wants to "retool" Tina Fey's character's TV show, which is currently called "The Girlie Show" and stars Jenna, whose real name I can't remember but you can look it up. The show, as it turns out, is getting bad ratings with a key demographic for advertisers, young men, represented on the show by the character of the slacker-y writer guy in glasses who is always wearing ironic hats. And I pretty solidly enjoyed Retribution Gospel Choir's set last night at Vaudeville Mews, but I think it might've been a similar situation, like they overlooked a key demographic somehow. The band is singer/guitarist Alan Sparhawk and bass player Steve Garrington from Low, a Minnesota band I really love, especially their album Things We Lost in the Fire, which is great whether or not you care about short-lived quasi-genres like "slowcore," plus drummer/singer Eric Pollard; at the Mews they were all snappily attired in matching shoes and different colors of ties, and Sparhawk had sort of grizzled matinee-idol looks and Garrington kind of stepped around while he played and Pollard was making these wild-eyed Mick Fleetwood-meets-Jack Black faces while he was drumming, and Sparhawk made some murderous faces during his first guitar solo that I wish I could've caught on iPhone camera, and as a whole when they were really on the effect was sort of like watching a screeching, squalling jazz trio. But Mrs. Des Noise pointed out that there were like maybe two other women there, besides her, and they were both with husbands or boyfriends.

As Rob Sheffield writes in his book Love Is a Mix Tape: "If girls don't like the music, they sit down and stop the show. You gotta have a crowd if you wanna have a show. And the girls are the show." Now, my wife didn't say she totally disliked the show or anything. She just thought it wasn't for her; I was totally pleased to stand back and let my ears hurt (I always end up being in a hurry and forgetting plugs) when they went into their gnashing, Crazy Horse-style instrumental sections, and the catchier moments like muscular rocker "Workin' Hard", from this year's album 2, were pretty good, too. And they played a slow, gorgeous Low song, "Breaker", from the Drums and Guns album, a real highlight although it also appears on Retribution Gospel Choir's self-titled debut album so it shouldn't really have been a surprise. But Sparhawk's wife, Mimi Parker of Low, isn't part of this band, and my wife didn't really want a part of them, either, so before you go you should bear that in mind. If you're a guy, or a woman who has different tastes than my wife, then you might like them-- I did!

One of us standing in this game of musical chairs
Openers were locals Why Make Clocks (above) and Wolves in the Attic (below), and I know people in both bands so there's not too much I want to say but Chuck from WMC was wearing a Neu! shirt and I noticed at least one nice krautrock-style bass line to go with their Dinosaur Jr.-grungy riffs and songs of grown-up heartache and romantic confusion, while Wolves haven't played much in a while and I think this time they turned it down (don't worry, just a little) because I could hear Eric's voice better (a little raspier, more Nirvana-y than I remembered? Is that crazy? Also, did I hear that lyric from the caption below right or did I just make it up?) and it's too bad they were playing at 6:15 p.m. because it feels like that's music for jumping around to rather than standing with your arms folded tight. You know: Active rock!

You and your friends take away my boring life.
The word we heard: "I don't like Sam Adams anymore. He's a mean guy."


  1. <3 30 Rock. You watch Parks & Recreation? Love that one too.

  2. As for the ladies not being into RGC, Dan's wife Kim was there and she loves 'em. Was ranting that they deserve a larger crowd :D

  3. I've only watched a little Parks & Rec, but yeah, love it. And awesome about Dan's wife! Definitely too small a crowd.