A Cursive Collision

Yes, I’ll get to Cursive soon enough.
But let me begin with the Death Race.
My weekend began with an excursion to Vermillion to see Best Picture winner “The Artist” for a second time. A certain someone hadn’t seen it yet, and I didn’t see the harm in viewing it again — especially since I was afflicted with Bobbing Head Syndrome for part of the first screening. (It was the end of a long day, and it was the third movie in my marathon.)
I discovered I had indeed missed some things the first time round. It was still a completely charming film.
But I still think “Tree of Life” or “The Descendants” should have taken home the Best Picture award. Oh well …
When I got home, I wanted something cheap and reckless to watch as I attended to some other matters.
Of course, “Death Race 2000” fits that bill perfectly.
I’d never seen the 1975 David Carradine-starring film. And, oh yeah, a certain Sylvester Stallone also has a significant role.
It’s cheap and titillating, but the film also has its B-movie charms. It was the perfect cap to The Long Good Friday (another very good film, by the way).
The next day (after watching “Escape from New York” for the first time … yes, I was late to that party, too), I made the trek to Omaha to see one of my favorite bands, Cursive. But before I get to them, I should again take a detour and mention that I managed to catch Best Foreign Film winner “A Separation.”
What a gripping film.
I purposely knew very little about the movie going into it, but I expected it to mostly concern an Iranian couple going through a divorce.
That was part of it, but there was so much more.
The movie raises all kind of questions about pride, morality and family loyalty.
The group of people I saw it with had a very intense debate about whether the father was too proud for his own good, simply standing up for what he thought was right and trying to protect his family or something in between those two points.
Like the best of other Iranian films I’ve watched over the years, “A Separation” raises all kinds of questions to chew on after the credits roll. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

So now the Cursive collision.
After I’ve driven to Omaha and meet up with my brother, I’ll often let him drive. I’ve had my fill of time behind the wheel, and he is more used to driving in the city. I’m happy to relax in the passenger seat.
Well, after we grabbed some dinner, we came back to the Slowdown parking lot. It was a toss-up as to whether we’d be able to find a parking space because the show was sold out. However, as luck would have it, a car was leaving. We rolled up to the spot before vehicles from the opposite direction could try to edge in on it.
When we got there, we found a young guy with red pants and a cigar standing in the space with his back to us. He did not respond to the honk of a horn. He did not respond to a, “Hey, dude, can you please move?” He did not respond to anything.
I assume he was trying to save the spot for some friends.
After about a minute of trying to pretend we weren’t there, he finally turned to us and said, “Oh, did you want to park here?” He then darted off to regions unknown.
Meanwhile, my brother started pulling my car into the tight space. I kept an eye through my passenger rear-view mirror as he inched forward. There wasn’t much breathing room between my car and the bumper of the rather large vehicle next to us. Suddenly, there was none.
“(Brother)! Stop! STOP!” I warned.
“What?” he asked, while taking his time to actually stop.
“You are hitting that other vehicle!”
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are!”
Finally, he stopped and maneuvered. I cringed as I heard the friction between my rear car door and the bumper.
“Geez, Nate,” he responded. “I wish your vehicle had a better turn radius. That would make this a lot easier.”
Yeah, that’s right, my brother (younger brother, too!) tries to make it my fault that he might have done a number on my car door because I didn’t get a vehicle with a sharper turn radius. It’s moments like that when I wonder if maybe I didn’t beat up on him enough as a kid to make him have the proper respect for me. Mostly, though, I was just laughing at the absurdity of the observation. A better turn radius. Of course! That’s what I was missing!
In his defense, he did end up saying sorry if any damage was done. It was a tight spot, and we needed to get in before someone else took it.
Ultimately, it turned out there wasn’t even any scratches on my car. No harm done.

The Slowdown is a great venue to see a show. I’ve been there more times than I can remember.
Before Cursive came on stage, I was quite impressed with the Austin, Texas, band Ume.
I know it’s 2012, and you’re not supposed to be surprised that a little gal can shred a guitar. It’s just that, lead singer/guitarist Lauren Larson looks very innocent, and you don’t expect such a ferocious stage presence out of her. She is mesmerizing and makes her guitars sing.
Check Ume out. They remind me of 90s rock like Smashing Pumpkins but with a hint of other influences like Blonde Redhead.

I managed to get some videos of both Ume and Cursive performing.

I last saw Cursive play at the Maha Music Festival in Omaha in August.
They recently released a monster of a concept album called “I Am Gemini.” The story has been summarized many times over by now, so I won’t take the time to do it here. It’s an album that takes several listens to get, but when it opens itself up to you, you can’t let it go. At least I can’t. I love the rock and drama of the whole thing.
The band was very business-like Saturday, rolling straight into fan favorite after fan favorite with hardly a breath in between at times. A bit of a mosh pit formed front and center with the very occasional crowd surfer, but most people were content to nod their heads and tap their feet.
Lead singer Tim Kasher’s one extended monologue during the night ended up making reference to how sexy and irresistible Tim Curry’s Satan (technically “Lord of Darkness” in the credits) was in “Legend.” Needless to say, he drew some laughs.
But before long, they were tearing into the hits again.
The band sounded as good as I’ve ever heard them. The handful of songs they played off the new album sounded fantastic.
The show got a definite thumbs up from my friends and me.

My Omaha music journalist of choice, Tim McMahan at Lazy-i, also had good things to say about the show.

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