Geoffrey Miller and David Byrne


, Kelly, and myself headed over to the Institute of Contemporary Art to attend a talk given by evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller and David Byrne of Talking Heads as well as his solo work in music, photography, and other art.  The topic was “Connections Between Biology and Culture, Sex and Beauty, Genes and Creativity”.  I am not ashamed to admit that the reason I attended this event was simply to hear Byrne talk, as it is likely the closest I will get to a Talking Heads concert…   But I was pleasantly surprised that both lecturers were very entertaining.

Miller’s talk seemed to be a quick overview of some of his research, not getting to terribly technical, but still conveying the important points.  His main hypothesis centered around creative expression (including traditional forms like music, fine art, etc, but also including things like ornamentation) and how it effects gene selection through mate selection.  Adam was a little annoyed that he did some hand-waving regarding some of the genetics, but it was a 20 minute talk at an art museum, so I gave him some latitude.  He totally inspired me to check out his book, The Mating Mind, to further explore these ideas.

David Byrne was actually kind of surprising…  He began the talk explaining how before he got into a band he was powerfully nervous in public settings and interactions, but he said he had improved over the years.  I’m not sure if this is what cause his very nervous presentation, or if it was just newer material he wasn’t too comfortable yet (or both), but it was a little distracting at first.  Once I got used to his delivery though, I found his talk to be very interesting..  He explored the art world in general, and how the actual art products worth is negligible, and any value we assign to these products are often based on more abstract feelings and ideas.  What was really interesting was when he started to explore ideas of how “art rules” change as technology allows easier reproduction.  How realism was de-emphasized in painting when technologies like the camera allowed us to easier reproduce real-world scenes with the push of a button.  It was more a collection of observations than any kind of scientific hypothesis, but he’s an artist, so I didn’t expect the latter… :)

I bought a copy of Byrne’s new book, Arboretum, which is a collection of pencil sketches of mental maps.  The maps are often digaramming nonsensical connections, and the publishers did an amazing job of reproducing these sketches, they actually look like they were drawn into a blank book in pencil.  I was fortunate enough to be able to personally thank David for the talk and have him autograph (and add a little abstract sketch to) my copy of the book..  All in all it was pretty awesome.

OMG beautiful weekend FTW

What an awesome weekend in every respect! Friday night had some friends over to watch the season premiere of Battlestar Galactica as well as the Webisodes (worst. name. ever.) , , and Audra all came over for snacks, pizza, and drinks. The webisodes were OK, but definitely not up to par. The premiere was good, although it could have been tightened up, as some of the plot points were a little weak. But it definitely set up for an AWESOME season, imho.

Saturday morning, Chuck arrived from NJ for a weekend visit. We parked his car over at Alewife and headed out to Kelly’s Roast Beef for lunch. We did all kinds of things this weekend, including heading out to the MFA, Summer Shack, flew (and not crashing) my helicopter, saw “The Departed” (was amazingly awesome), and a bunch of other stuff. He left yesterday afternoon and got home safely without any trouble. Totally awesome.

Corinna and I watched Four Brothers last night, which was a steaming pile of crap. I expected an enjoyably trashy flick, but it was just terrible. There were about 3 minutes where I actually enjoyed watching it.

Return of the Roommate

was around this weekend, visiting his parents who moved from NJ to NH a few weeks ago. I hadn’t seen him since the 30th, but this was the first time we were able to really hang out in years. Friday night Jon got a ride to my work (which is really close to NH) and we drove back to Boston to meet up with to grab some food at Tasca before seeing Peeping Tom and Gnarls Barkley over at Avalon. The tickets said 7pm, but I checked the Avalon website (which is terrible, and took forever to navigate) which said doors were at 6pm and the show started at 7pm. Now, I’ve probably seen 100 shows in my life, and I can’t think of a single time where the show started “on time”. We got there at 7:03pm, and not only was there a 7:05pm game at Fenway (which Avalon is across Lansdowne from), but there was a line of over 100 people outside the venue. As we got on line, it was clear that Peeping Tom (the band I was actually there to see) was already playing.. So I missed about 20 minutes of their set waiting on a line outside, and was pretty pissed. But I calmed down once I got inside… The part of their set I caught was good, they even played a Lovage song (“Anger Management”) sparking an internal debate over whether it’s a cover song if you play the song of another band you are in… Who knows… I’d like to see Peeping Tom as a headliner though.. With only one album under their belt it might be difficult, but Patton isn’t afraid of playing covers, so I think they could put on a good set.

After a quick stage flush, Gnarls Barkley’s 14 piece touring outfit took the stage. Another band with only one (relatively short) album under their belt, but they put on a great show. I was impressed as to how an album recorded by a producer/laptop weenie and a vocalist/lyricist was translated to stage. They did a faithful rendition of most (if not all) of the songs on the album, but with an album that’s only 35 minutes long their set was really short. Whatever, I mean, I’d rather have one tight set than one padded with crap, but a few well-selected covers might have been nice. But whatever, the show as great, even if it ended before 10pm. This is the real reason the show started so promptly, because the bloodless motherfuckers at Avalon didn’t want to interfere with their lame dance club night. Hey, I’d be happy if shows always started on time, but I think a 15 minute delay is appropriate if half the audience is waiting online outside.

Saturday, we had brunch at Moogy’s before heading to Harvard Square and MIT for some tourism. We caught the Fogg Museum at Harvard which was great, as well as the new Stata Center, hideously designed by Frank Gehry. After tourism, we had some delicious Imperial Pizza, and Jon and I headed to NH to have a shower at his parents’ house (our bathroom is still not done) and to meet up with Garrett at “Boston” Billiard Club in Nashua, NH. It was a great time, Jon and I quickly reverting to our old “Garrett Music Quiz” selves… It’s amazing how much he DOESN’T know about music. I mean, even if you can’t remember the title “Penny Lane” you should be able to figure out it’s The Beatles…

Sunday, Corinna and I caught Beowulf & Grendel with the film club. It was a really good adaptation of the poem (as I remember from reading it 15 years ago). It focused on Beowulf hunting Grendel, but none of what came after that. I guess that should have been obvious from the film’s title, but I was oblivious. Anyway, it was really enjoyable (besides Sarah Polley, who’s delivery was dead as a board and who didn’t even try to fake an accent).