Titus Andronicus to rock the record store.

April 22, 2009

I missed Record Store Day last Saturday — I had to travel down to a friend’s Patoka Lake cabin to help him celebrate his final week of bachelorhood. I wouldn’t trade the beer-sippin’, gun-shootin’, meat-eatin’ weekend for anything, but I regret missing out on the special releases, in-store performances and other trappings of this nascent (and most excellent) holiday.

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If you missed Record Store Day (or even if you didn’t) make up for it by checking out Titus Andronicus’ in-store performance at my favorite Indianapolis record store, Luna Music, this coming Friday (April 24).

Titus Andronicus is in town for a Radio Radio gig with the southern rock outfit Lucero (a really excellent double bill, and quite the sleeper since no one is talking much about it), and in what has become a regular trend, Luna snagged them for a show-before-the-show.

It’s no stretch to say Luna’s in-store gigs are among the best music events that happen locally during any given year — especially if you’re a fan of Pitchfork-endorsed rock. Sometimes, the gigs are well-attended (Bill Callahan’s recent Easter evening performance packed the place) and other times you wonder why more people didn’t get the memo (when certifiably legendary British popster Robyn Hitchcock stopped by a couple of years ago, I was shocked when only about 25 people showed up). Other recent national touring artists who have dropped in to play at Luna include Nada Surf, Camper Van Beethoven, Asobi Seksu, John Vanderslice…the list goes on.

Here’s the kicker: These performances are free. You come, you listen to great music in an incredibly intimate setting in one of the city’s best neighborhoods, and then you leave, with exactly as much money you arrived with.

Titus Andronicus should be an exceptionally interesting spectacle. The young New Jersey quintet generally plays explosive, distorted, garage rock anthems that sound like the Replacements-meet-Springsteen-meet-Bright Eyes. The CD racks in Luna are sure to be shaking. See what I mean:

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Boxed wine and Beyond Balderdash.

February 24, 2009

Last weekend, Amy and I joined a large group of friends for a trip to Spring Mill Inn at Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell, Indiana. The excursion has become a mid-winter tradition these past couple of years — after all, what better way to break up the dreary monotony of wintertime than by heading south (if only just a little) for a weekend of lounging on couches with magazines, eating artery-clogging, country-style food, drinking cheap wine and maybe — just maybe — heading outdoors for a traipse through the park as snow falls silently through the branches of tall, slender trees?

This year, my arrival to Spring Mill was postponed until Saturday morning (I hung around Indy to watch my little brother wrestle ((and, poor kid, lose)) in the high school state tournament on Friday night), but the late start was fine with me. I still managed to check everything off of my to-do list, which, as you might imagine, wasn’t exactly teeming with extra-curricular activities. On Saturday afternoon I finished off this month’s Atlantic (I recommend checking out Michael Hirschorn’s piece on the impending death of decent network TV dramas), took a nice walk through the snow with friends, ate no shortage of junk food (parmesan and garlic potato chips, Goldfish, cheese-flavored popcorn) and, in the evening, drank a Cabernet/Shiraz blend from a box over a game of Beyond Balderdash.

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Now Beyond Balderdash has been out of vogue for awhile now (Parker Brothers doesn’t even make it anymore, which means if you want it, expect to pay way more than what’s reasonable), but it is — and has been for more than a decade — my favorite board game in the world. The premise is super-simple: One person chooses a card that has obscure names, dates, intials, movie titles and words on one side. He chooses one, and the rest of the players try to invent a believable one-sentence explanation of either who the person is, what happened on the date, what the initials stand for, what the movie was about or what the word means. Then, the person holding the card reads the faux definitions or explanations, along with the REAL one mixed in, and everyone guesses which one is authentic. You score when somebody chooses your fake definition as real, as well as when you choose the right one.

Easy enough, right? With us, everyone starts out playing it straight, but as the game continues and the wine box empties, things inevitably get  stupud, juvenile and hilarious. Here are some examples of what we wrote, by category:

NAMES

Leopold Trouvelot: “A famous murder defendant, now presumed to have been wrongly-accused in the 1950s, who lost his life to the British death penalty but changed the future of the justice system throughout Europe.”

Mordecai Marducci: “Everyone called him a fit fellow, but when he died it was found he had been sucking in his belly all those years.”

MOVIES

Take Two: “A downhome comedy about an old Mormon couple who kidnap two kids from their neighbor’s yard.”

Big Deal On Madonna Street: “A-Rod eats his way down Madonna to a celebratory conclusion.”

WORDS

Hodad: “The new Tyler Perry movie.”

Looking over these now, the words “you had to be there,” come to mind, and that’s probably true. Here’s what I recommend: if you can locate Beyond Balderdash for less than $50 bucks, snag it, get together with about five or six friends, invest in a box of wine, and let the night take you where it may. The whole state park hotel thing isn’t required for a good time, although it certainly wouldn’t hurt.