Tag Archives: magnetic fields

Math Midway this Sunday in Washington Square Park

If you’re in New York City and like math, consider stopping by the Math Midway, an interactive math exhibit running 10-6 this Sunday, June 14 as part of this year’s World Science Festival Street Fair. (The World Science Festival, despite its name, seems always to take place in New York.  Reminds me of a book I read at Emmanuel’s house, an Encyclopedie des Fromages du Monde which was in fact about the cheeses of France.)  Two more Greenwich Village recommendations from last week’s visit to New York: new Italian storefront restaurant Risotteria and Stephen Merritt’s musical adaptation of Coraline.

It seems that the people behind the Midway are planning to launch a full-scale museum of mathematics, to be called Math Factory and located somewhere in Greater New York.  Is this a good idea?

Update: I almost forgot my most important New York recommendation:  the Francis Bacon retrospective at the Met, which is even better than Risotteria and Coraline.

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Show report: The Magnetic Fields, Overture Center

  • I told the sitter we were going to see Magnetic Fields tonight, and she said, “I think my mom listens to them.”
  • Having a slightly wry This American Life – style spoken-word duo open for a rock band was a good idea, but not wholly successful in practice.
  • Claudia played piano, not drums, and the band played the whole show seated (except when Claudia stood on the piano bench to sing her part of “Yeah, Oh Yeah.” Some songs (especially “Three-way”) revealed interesting new stuff when played softly, others (“Too Drunk To Dream”) just sounded bounceless compared to the record.
  • Something I’d never noticed before about Magnetic Fields — how often they arrange the lines so that you have to sing the stress on the wrong syllable of the word. I wonder if this is an intentional act of aggression against the singer? They especially like to force a stress on the “ing” at the end of a participle.
  • They seem more serious than they used to. No sloppy covers. Mrs. Q said Stephin looked like he was at work, and I think that’s about right.
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Magnetic Fields, young and live

The Magnetic Fields used to have a reputation as a really terrible live act, but I can’t remember why — and this 1994 set archived at Captain’s Dead doesn’t provide any clues. Terrific setlist, including the opportunity to hear “100,000 Fireflies” sung by Stephin Merritt instead of Susan Anway, and many of the songs from the first 6ths record sung by Stephin Merritt instead of various other indie rock stars doing impressions of Stephin Merritt. For instance, here’s “San Diego Zoo,” for as long as Captain’s Dead chooses to keep it up:

(hotlink to song removed at the Captain’s request — but seriously, go to his blog and listen to it!)

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The Jesus and Merritt Chain

I thought it was a joke when people started saying that the upcoming Magnetic Fields album would be loaded with feedback-soaked guitars and sound like the Jesus and Mary Chain. But it’s true! Or half-true; it’s loaded with feedback-soaked guitars but it still sounds just like the Magnetic Fields. Via Stereogum, here’s the first track, “Three-Way”:

This song is terrific, with a snaky little guitar that keeps popping in at surprising places, and big, repetitive, faraway-sounding piano that harks all the way back to the sound of “100,000 Fireflies.” It’s instrumental but for the band shouting the title. “Instrumental except for the title” is an underutilized form, by the way. “Tequila,” “Wipeout”, and the high point of the Orange Juice’s entire oeuvre, “Moscow Olympics” — is there a bad song that works like this?

Update:  Craig points out that I forgot They Might Be Giants’ “Minimum Wage,” which is really too great a song to be relegated to the comments.

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It’s like indie rock, only it’s a car

Via Jessie, yet another take on “Wheels on the Bus,” this time by Cambridge’s favorite mopey genius Stephin Merritt, for Volvo:

Previously: “Wheels on the Bus,” the White Stripes.

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