Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

My trip to NYC with C

~ Sunday, November 6th, 2011

It was a long, fun day. I spent the night in NoVA so I could get up bright and early (OK, early) the next day at 5:00 AM and get ready for meeting the bus at 6:30 AM in Annandale. C must have heard me running my bath, because she woke up on her own and was excited to get ready. MA made us a nice lunch, with healthy snacks and C picked out 2 each of her Halloween candy for us to snack on for the trip.

We got to the church and the first thing they are doing is grouping the kids with their buddies. Unless I had a good friend coming with me to an event, I always hated this part. But thankfully, we saw E, who looked like she matched up perfectly with C (I’m not sure if they had bonded prior, but it worked on this day).

I was paired with C & E (and her Dad, Z) along with E(2) and K. We got on the bus and off we went. We arrived in Long Island about 1:00 PM and the kids practiced fast, then performed, then we were off to Planet Hollywood in Times Square for an evening meal, a photo op in Times Square, a quick shopping spree, and then on the bus again to finally get back to the DC area by about midnight. Thank god for the Fall forward hour we gained due to DST.

Some things of note:
1. C loves screens. She had a couple of movies on an old iPhone and she was committed to watching them all and it was her go-to activity during unplanned times.
2. J, a guy in the older Treble choir, was fun to watch, as he was in awe of everything as he was on his first trip to the Big Apple, and he pulls out his music notebook and studies it during the journey, at a quiet moment. That’s so cool, despite the easier distractions (4 movies!)
3. Z was a great chaperone to pair up with, as, I think, he is a teacher and knows the ins & outs of dealing with kids. Thank god for teachers!
4. Some of the chaperones reminded me of the conversations I’ve had with MA about helicopter parents. They really just seemed so tense!
5. These NoVA kids eat really healthy snacks (hummus, snap peas, carrots, pretzels).
6. Ms. C, the choir director, is charming, talented, delightful, and supportive of her kids.
7. Kids at 9 yoa are very comfortable having an iPad on a trip like this.
8. A 9 year old boy is singing a song from “Rent” on the bus and that makes me smile!
9. I have confidence in the tour group, Kewl Tours.
10. Would rather have a g-daughter that checks out and wants to read a library book about the Middle Ages than knows the words to the latest pop-culture boy/girl band song that was blaring outside the Planet Hollywood, as some of the other choir girls rocked out and knew every lyric (along with their moms)
11. When shopping for souvenirs, C asked if we could buy something also for her friend Katherine. That’s really neat.
12. Loved the little notes that C left for her family at the breakfast table.
13. Loved the little note that C’s mom left her in her bag with her choir uniform.
14. The Delaware rest stop is the best one on the way from/to NYC/DC.
15. Times Square is my least favorite spot in Manhattan. It gets even more “least favorite” status as I attempt to keep up with a group and/or C or an elusive E(2), who likes to just take off to explore. “E(2), come back here!” “Hold my hand!”
16. Next time, pick a seat that isn’t directly ahead of the girl who can’t sit still, and has to constantly visit her “chaperone” parents (not near any kids) at the front of the bus.
17. While crocheting, many kids complimented me on the blanket I was making for GiGi, and told me about their own craft/knitting/crocheting/needlework projects.
18. Planet Hollywood is not a G-rated place, at least the one in NYC. We saw girls pole dancing, guys/gals in mini-bikinis, and several times K asked me “was that 2 guys kissing?” (I have no problem with that, btw) while the videos with MTV, on steroids, played on the 50 screens that were viewable from any angle.
19. An iPhone 4S battery can last more than 12 hours if you turn on airport mode frequently.
20. An iPhone 4S GPS is very useful if you are trying to meet up with people in S, VA when your bus arrives from NYC in A, VA in the middle of the night.

Finally, what I learned, I’m not too old for this (yet).

Support the CFPA!

~ Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Funny or Die’s Presidential Reunion from Will Ferrell

[Lenten] Practice

~ Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Internet Addict

My daughter is using reduced time on the internet as a Lenten practice. While I don’t really participate in the season of Lent, it seems like a good idea anyway. As my son said on FB, “Lent is like a New Year’s Resolution do over. So one starts out the year with a resolution to eat healthier, but then is eating Krispy Kreme’s by the end of January. But then Lent rolls around and eating healthier for 6 weeks sounds so much more doable than for a full year. And hey, you get to binge on peeps at the end of it.”

So, I’m going to try it. As I responded on my daughter’s FB entry, “Yeah, think I will join you. I’m going to do it in honor of my father too. He used to read the Dallas Morning News in the morning and watch Walter Cronkite at suppertime and he was pretty well informed. So, for me, once in the morning, once in the evening after work and that’s it! Can I do it? Yes. I. Can.”

The Times They Are A-Changin’

~ Friday, December 11th, 2009

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

Testing their Metal

~ Friday, December 4th, 2009

James Hetfield/Lars Ulrich

So you’ve adjusted to the new music economy. You know the big acts have little to gain from making the album of their lives, because only a few of their fans will actually buy it, and most of them will listen to it on terrible-sounding earphones anyway. The money and the passion previously reserved for albums are being redirected into touring. U2 is travelling with a stage set that takes two days to dismantle and pack up. God bless the big guys for bringing the big toys—sports arenas and concrete tubs are not often a friend to the sonic arts. So when Metallica comes to town, go. They’ve been perfecting the art of loud for years. Like Nine Inch Nails and other scientists interested in splitting the ear, Metallica knows the secret is in the low midrange and not in overdriving gear that can’t be overdriven. I haven’t cared for a Metallica album in years, but the band can still make a stadium rumble. At Madison Square Garden on Nov. 14-15, their music won’t sound like it’s ricocheting around in a toilet. It will sound like metal, not concrete.

Sanctimoniously Dumping Adam Lambert

~ Friday, December 4th, 2009

Adam Lambert
ABC’s still spanking Adam Lambert for risqué performance, By Lisa de Moraes, Friday, December 4, 2009

ABC is developing a new reality series called “Sanctimoniously Dumping Adam Lambert.”

In this week’s episode, the network dumps the “American Idol” runner-up from not one but two more programs: “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and its “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” while batting its eyes coyly. It declined primly to comment on either decision.

“Dumping Adam” debuted last month when the network yanked a scheduled appearance and performance by Lambert on its infotainment show “Good Morning America” — which was strange because Lambert had made, you know, news when he’d performed a few days earlier at the American Music Awards, also on ABC.

On Sunday, Nov. 22, Lambert brought down the house at the AMAs, and gave ABC the vapors with a highly choreographed performance that included a male-dancer-shoves-face-in-Lambert-crotch move, and a Lambert-kisses-dude stunt. The Lambert-walks-shirtless-leather-chapped-guys-on-leash bit? ABC was totally fine with that.

Note to ABC: Airing music trophy shows is not for the faint of heart. And, when an artist is performing surrounded by chicks dressed like pre-World War II Berlin hookers hanging from stripper poles, and guys are being walked on all fours like dogs, and the tune’s lyrics go like this:

Imma hurt you real good baby

Let’s go, it’s my show, baby, do what I say . . .

I told ya, Imma hold ya down until you’re amazed

Give it to ya til you’re screamin’ my name

. . . sometimes things are going to happen.

Anyway, two days later, ABC yanked Lambert from “GMA” after reporting it had received 1,500 complaints, explaining that “given his controversial American Music Awards performance, we were concerned about airing a similar concert so early in the morning.”

On the other hand, ABC also boasted that the AMA broadcast, in which Lambert was the closing and most highly anticipated act, had attracted its biggest audience in seven years with an impressive 2 million more viewers than last year’s show.

Can a network be happily mortified?

Since then, Lambert has gone on Ellen DeGeneres’s syndicated talk show and said, of his AMA performance: “I think in hindsight, I look back and I go, ‘Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best first impression to make.’ I had fun up there. I had a good time. . . . But you know what, I respect people and I feel like people walked away from that feeling disrespected, and I would never intend to disrespect anybody. So that was not my intention.”

Even so, ABC decided Lambert is now so radioactive it needs to get out of the Adam business altogether. So it’s pulled his scheduled Dec. 17 appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” — the ABC late-night show best known for its “I’m [shagging] Matt Damon”/”I’m [shagging] Ben Affleck” videos.

He’s also been barred from performing on ABC’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” even though his old pal “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest is executive producer.

“Yes, sadly friends, ABC has cancelled my appearances on Kimmel and NYE. :(” Lambert tweeted Thursday, adding, “Don’t blame them. It’s the FCC heat.”

We called the Federal Communications Commission to ask about Lambert’s AMA performance. A spokesman could not say how many complaints have been received about the incident.

Of course, FCC indecency regs do not apply to late-night TV — or, for that matter, the 10:55 p.m. spot when Lambert gave his now-infamous AMA performance.

But ABC is not out of the Adam Lambert business altogether. He’s still scheduled to be among those 10 Most Fascinating People that Babs Walters cozies up to in her annual taped special, airing Wednesday.

Unless, of course, that broadcast becomes the season finale of “Sanctimoniously Dumping Adam Lambert.”

What She Said

~ Friday, November 27th, 2009

Adam Lambert - For Your Entertainment

Adam Lambert - For Your Entertainment

November 26, 2009, Community Standard or Double Standard? By ALESSANDRA STANLEY

It wasn’t really the man-on-man kiss or the simulated oral sex that marked Adam Lambert’s performance on the American Music Awards on Sunday as shocking. Mostly it was ABC’s reaction. By rescinding Mr. Lambert’s invitation to sing on “Good Morning America,” ABC self-protectively drew a line that networks usually prefer to keep blurred.

Or as Mr. Lambert said Wednesday morning on “The Early Show” on CBS, “There’s a lot of very adult material on the A.M.A.’s this year, and I know I wasn’t the only one.” Mr. Lambert, runner-up on this year’s “American Idol,” was referring to other risqué performances Sunday night, including Lady Gaga smashing whiskey bottles, Janet Jackson grabbing a male dancer’s crotch and Eminem talking about his character Slim Shady’s rap sheet of rape, assault and murder.

There is a lot of very adult material on television all the time, and mostly it flows unchecked and unpunished, except when it comes as a surprise and hits a nerve. Community standards are mutable and vague; lots of people don’t know obscenity until someone else sees it. Ms. Jackson transgressed during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show because she exposed a nipple, which is one thing that network television normally doesn’t show. Mr. Lambert, who just released his first album, startled viewers because he did things akin to what outré rappers and female pop stars have performed onstage to get attention, only he did it as a gay man.

CBS, which eagerly invited Mr. Lambert to its morning show after ABC canceled, savored its rival’s discomfort. CBS is still fighting a $550,000 Federal Communications Commission fine in the Jackson “wardrobe malfunction,” but at the time it wasn’t any braver than ABC about defending a suddenly controversial star. After the incident CBS disinvited Ms. Jackson from the Grammy Awards that followed, even though it allowed her Super Bowl bodice ripper, Justin Timberlake, to attend.

The Jackson case showed that indecency lies in the context. People complained that children were watching during the Super Bowl halftime show; viewers normally don’t expect to see soft-core pornography until the commercials.

Mr. Lambert’s context was different, mostly because he is gay and his song “For Your Entertainment” is graphically sexual, with intimations of sadomasochism and oral sex. Straight sadomasochism is suggested all the time in music videos, and early this season Courteney Cox’s character on the ABC sitcom “Cougar Town” was coyly depicted performing oral sex on a younger man.

Television has embraced openly gay male entertainers like Neil Patrick Harris, and gay characters are on soap operas, sitcoms and dramas, notably two men who’ve adopted a baby on ABC’s new hit “Modern Family.” But while gay sexuality is discussed and joked about plenty, rarely are the gay characters shown having sex or kissing passionately. The joke in “Modern Family” is that the gay couple’s relationship is as bourgeois and unlibidinous as that of any long-married suburban couple. (“Oz,” a stark and explicit drama about men in prison, was shown on HBO, a pay cable network.) Women kissing women is far more common, probably because it doesn’t offend: for many viewers, two women romping together in bed registers less as lesbianism than as an extracurricular turn-on for men. Girl-on-girl action is a standing salacious joke on prime-time sitcoms like CBS’s “Two and a Half Men.” And respectful depictions of lesbian love are on shows like ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Madonna’s infamous smooch with Britney Spears at the 2003 Video Music Awards was a hot topic, so to speak, but no network blackballed them as a result. Mr. Lambert had a point when he complained on “The Early Show” about a double standard.

“Good Morning America” justified its censure of Mr. Lambert by stating that his performance on Sunday went beyond anything he did in rehearsal (true), and ABC didn’t want to risk exposing its viewers to a spectacle of similar debauchery first thing in the morning (not very likely). Instead “Good Morning America” hosts lavished attention on squeaky clean Donny Osmond, the winner of “Dancing With the Stars.” Mr. Lambert acknowledged that he got carried away in the live performance but said that if he could do it over, he would do only one thing differently. “I would sing it a little bit better.”

It wasn’t the best musical performance by any means, but it wasn’t the worst display of sexual debauchery either. Mostly it was a reminder of television’s policy regarding gay men: Do tell, just don’t show.

Happy 40th Sesame Street

~ Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Sesame Street turns 40

Counting Is Nice: ‘Sesame Street’s’ Top Seven Enduring

No one would discount the important instruction “Sesame Street” has provided preschoolers on the alphabet, counting and shape identification. The show — which is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a new season, a best-of box set, and a birthday party on Nov. 15 at Lisner — has taught young viewers less academic lessons as well.

Here, we reflect on the enduring messages the series has left with its very impressionable viewers (in a manner the Count would appreciate).

» 1. Multiculturalism is a good thing.
This seems self-evident now, when no live action children’s show would be complete without an adorably diverse collection of tykes onscreen. Back in 1969, this formula was more revolutionary, and “Sesame Street” welcomed all ages, nationalities and, as seen in the following clip, species, and taught them all a few important Spanish words. Peligro, on the off chance you have forgotten, means “danger.”

» 2. Be tolerant of alternative lifestyles.
While Sesame Workshop still maintains that Bert and Ernie are roommates rather than a gay couple, public opinion holds otherwise. Whatever the reality behind the Bert and Ernie relationship is (and with puppets it’s probably better not to know) the pair does model a functioning male-male household, if not one free of annoyances.

» 3. …whatever those lifestyles may include.
Homosexuality seems like even more of a non-issue when you consider the behavior of other Sesame Street characters. Cookie Monster is recovering from a compulsive eating disorder, Oscar has such low self esteem that he resides in a garbage can, and the Count has isolated himself in a bat-ridden remote mansion in order to spend more time counting alone. While the show probably didn’t set out to represent the entire DSM IV with its Muppet characters, it does suggest that individuals should be permitted to conduct themselves as they like, as long as they don’t infringe on others.

» 4. Take your friends where you can find them.
Big Bird’s “imaginary” friend Snuffleupagus was finally revealed to be real in 1985 after over a decade of suspense. Frankly, however, it seems as though Big Bird got more out of the relationship when he and Snuffy were having wild imaginary adventures, rather than interacting with the regulars on the Street. Observe Snuffy’s giant bedazzled cap in the following clip and see if you don’t agree. Ernie’s intense bond with his rubber duckie and Bert’s favorite pigeon Bernice are other examples of unconventional yet rewarding relationships.

» 5. There’s just no talking to some people.
Oscar the Grouch teaches kids the valuable lesson that some people are cranky, that it isn’t anyone’s fault and that in some cases there is nothing to be done about it. As a child this proved an invaluable insight in dealing with certain elderly female relatives, and it comes up just as often as a working adult.

» 6. Parents need adult interaction.
My mother has long maintained that she knew she needed to return to work when she developed crushes on “Sesame Street’s” manliest adult characters. Or, as she put it, “in the absence of real world access to other adults, stay at home moms can develop romantic fantasies about the sensitive, caring men such as Luis and Gordon.” Watching the following clip, in which the pair learns to cooperate, I can almost understand.

» 7. If Grover is waiting your table, find another restaurant.
If you’re a balding blue man in a hurry this holds doubly true.

The Help

~ Thursday, September 24th, 2009

The Help

Just finished reading/listening to this book. It brought back so many memories of my childhood, as it was a story that took place in the 50s and 60s. The audio book is the best I’ve ever listened to! Do yourself a favor and BUY AND READ THIS BOOK.

Janet Maslin of the NY Times Book Review has it about right.

Racial Insults and Quiet Bravery in 1960s Mississippi
Published: February 18, 2009

In “The Help,” Kathryn Stockett’s button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel about black domestic servants working in white Southern households in the early 1960s, one woman works especially tirelessly. She labors long into the night. She is exhausted. Her eyes are stinging, her fingers bloody and sore.

Is she ironing pleats? Scrubbing toilets? Polishing silver for an all-important meeting of the local bridge club? No way. She is Miss Skeeter Phelan, a white woman. And the white women of “The Help” don’t do those demeaning jobs. They don’t do much of anything else either.

But brave, tenacious Skeeter is different. So she is slaving away on a book that will blow the lid off the suffering endured by black maids in Jackson, Miss. Skeeter’s going to call the place “Niceville,” but she won’t make it sound nice. All of Jackson’s post-sorority girls from Ole Miss will be up in arms if Skeeter’s tell-all book sees the light of day.

The trouble on the pages of Skeeter’s book is nothing compared with the trouble Ms. Stockett’s real book risks getting into. Here is a debut novel by a Southern-born white author who renders black maids’ voices in thick, dated dialect. (“Law have mercy,” one says, when asked to cooperate with the book project. “I reckon I’m on do it.”) It’s a story that purports to value the maids’ lives while subordinating them to Skeeter and her writing ambitions. And it celebrates noblesse oblige so readily that Skeeter’s act of daring earns her a gift from a local black church congregation. “This one, this is for the white lady,” the Reverend of that church says. “You tell her we love her, like she’s our own family.”

A brief word now about Ms. Stockett: When she moved to New York City from Jackson, she came to understand how deeply ambivalent she felt about her roots. If a New Yorker told her that Jackson must be beautiful, she would say it was fraught with crime. But if a New Yorker spoke contemptuously about Jackson, Ms. Stockett would rise to its defense. “Mississippi is like my mother,” she writes in an afterword to “The Help.” And you will see, after your wrestling match with this problematic but ultimately winning novel, that when it comes to the love-hate familial bond between Ms. Stockett and her subject matter, she’s telling the truth.

Expectations notwithstanding, it’s not the black maids who are done a disservice by this white writer; it’s the white folk. The two principal maid characters, the lovingly maternal Aibileen and the angry, scrappy Minny, leap off the page in all their warm, three-dimensional glory. Book groups armed with hankies will talk and talk about their quiet bravery and the outrageous insults dished out by their vain, racist employers.

The worst of these bosses, a woman known as Miss Hilly, treats Minny like a thief. And she campaigns to have Jackson households install extra toilets so that colored help will not have to use white families’ restricted bathrooms. With the kind of lead-footed linkage that runs throughout this novel — even though it may accurately reflect what Ms. Stockett witnessed in her Southern girlhood — Miss Hilly’s Junior League does its fund-raising for the sake of “the Poor Starving Children of Africa” while treating the poor African-Americans of Jackson as if they were subhuman.

Miss Hilly is enough of a witch for readers to wait eagerly for a house to fall on her. She makes herself the nemesis of each of the book’s black characters and many of its white ones. Sounding decades older than Skeeter even though the two were college roommates, Hilly shrieks villainously about the virtues of segregation and the rectitude of Mississippi’s politicians.

News of the real world seeps into the book only occasionally, with a brief televised glimpse of James Meredith integrating Ole Miss or other muffled rendered news. “There is a skirmish in Vietnam,” Skeeter notices. “The reporter seems to think it’ll be solved without much fuss.”

The tide of soapsuds rises as Skeeter comes across a copy of Jim Crow laws and is galvanized into action; as Skeeter the liberal-minded spinster begins dating the son of an intolerant local politician; as Skeeter begins wondering what happened to Constantine, the maid who lovingly raised her; and as both Aibileen and Minny become increasingly privy to the secrets of their employers’ households.

Though “The Help” might well have veered off into violent repression of these maids’ outspokenness (one character is blinded for having accidentally used a whites-only bathroom), Ms. Stockett doesn’t take it there. She’s interested in the affection and intimacy buried beneath even the most seemingly impersonal household connections.

Aibileen is this book’s loveliest character, especially in scenes that have her raising Mae Mobley, the toddler now in her charge. Having endured the pain of raising white child after white child only to see them grow up and away from her, Aibileen is still ready to embrace another one. On the evidence of Ms. Stockett’s autobiographical afterword, this is the part of the story she knows best; she herself had an absentee white mother and was raised by a black woman named Demetrie. She loved Demetrie dearly without ever giving much thought to what Demetrie’s life was like, and she says that “The Help” was written to fill in that gap.

Mae Mobley’s little games include pretending to stage a sit-in at a Woolworth’s counter and pretending to ride the bus with Rosa Parks. Or so it goes in this ultimately soft-pedaled version of Southern women’s lives, one in which real danger is usually at a distance.

At one point Skeeter hears a strange new guy, Bob Dylan, singing a strange new song, “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” and finds herself full of optimism. Had she heard the same Bob Dylan singing “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” his accusatory song about the fatal caning of a 51-year-old black barmaid by a young white patrician, “The Help” might have ventured outside its harsh yet still comfortable, reader-friendly world.

The Fab Faux Meet the Beatles and I’ve met (rather, seen) both

~ Monday, May 4th, 2009

“The ’60s are gone, dope will never be as cheap, sex never as free, and the rock and roll never as great.” – Abbie Hoffman
The Beatles 1964
I saw The Beatles in concert a long time ago (can you believe the ticket prices ranged from $2.50 to $5.50)
The Beatles Tickets
and just the other night went to see The Fab Faux, a Beatles tribute band perform.
The Fab Faux

They were really, really good and brought back tons of memories for me. I enjoyed it thoroughly! And as this review says,

Lee [one of the Fab Faux] said that playing in the Fab Faux definitely makes him wish the Beatles had stayed together to witness the amazing advances in audio technology that would have allowed them to take their latter-day compositions on the road. “I often think how sad it is that they were so ahead of the technology,” he said.

Rolling Stone wrote this article about the band back in 2005 and it’s right on. Go see them if they come to a city near you. You won’t regret it!

New York combo is the greatest Beatles cover band — without the wigs, by David Fricke, Aug 03, 2005

One day in early 1998, Jimmy Vivino, guitarist and arranger for the Max Weinberg 7, the house band on Late Night With Conan O’Brien, ran into his neighbor Will Lee, bassist for Paul Shaffer’s CBS Orchestra on Late Show With David Letterman, in the elevator of their Manhattan apartment building. “We were going to our shows,” Vivino says, “and Will goes, ‘Hey, I’m starting a Beatles cover band.’ The first thing I said was ‘Why? There are plenty of Beatles tribute bands out there.'”

“Then I realized he was serious,” Vivino recalls. “He said, ‘I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the way classical musicians start a chamber orchestra to play Mozart. I’m talking about playing the Beatles’ songs and records live, as perfectly as we can.’ I said, ‘Without the wigs?'” Lee’s reply was quick: “Sure.”

Seven years later, the Fab Faux — Lee, Vivino, guitarist Frank Agnello, drummer Rich Pagano and multi-instrumentalist Jack Petruzzelli, all of whom sing lead and harmony vocals — are the most accomplished band in the Beatles-cover business. Since debuting at New York’s China Club in May 1998, the Fab Faux have mastered and played more than 160 of the 211 songs in the official canon — according to Agnello, the Faux’s resident Beatles statistician — and most are complex hits and post-’65 LP tracks the Beatles never performed in concert. The Fab Faux are surely the only Beatles tribute band that has never covered “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “I Saw Her Standing There” but has re-created the complete White Album collage “Revolution 9” live. The Faux don’t do the obvious, says Lee: “We do the impossible.”

They do it to the letter. At a June club date in New York, augmented by small horn and string sections, the Faux went the distance, from the chiming guitars and high brassy vocals of “Please Mr. Postman,” on 1963’s With the Beatles, to Petruzzelli’s perfect take on Paul McCartney’s soulman howl in Abbey Road’s “Oh! Darling.” Pagano vocally evoked John Lennon tripping through watery reverb in “I Am the Walrus,” while drumming in strict Ringo Starr time. And in “Penny Lane,” guest trumpeter Lew Soloff blew the brief, closing cadenza found only on the rare promo version of the single.

“When we play the early stuff, it’s fun,” Pagano says one day before a Faux rehearsal. “But when we play the later stuff, it becomes an enigma, this dream state — how it would have been.” The Faux are religiously attentive to vintage studio detail. Lee recently bought a cowbell that matches the exact pitch of the one the Beatles used during the recording of “I Call Your Name.” But Agnello insists, “We’re not that exact. We learn all the parts from the records, but we sing the songs in our own voices.” And when all five voices spread out in full harmony in “Nowhere Man” or when Vivino spins out on lead guitar at the end of “Paperback Writer,” the Faux invigorate the artistry of even the Beatles’ most intricate studio masterpieces with top chops and Beatlemaniac glee. “It’s not just a cover band,” Pagano claims. “This is the greatest music ever written, and we’re such freaks for it.”

Ranging in age from forty (Petruzzelli) to fifty-two (Lee), the Fab Faux are all veteran session players, songwriters and touring sidemen who were already pressed for spare time when they met at Lee’s home for their initial practice. The first thing they tried: the ornate waterfall vocals of “Because,” on Abbey Road. “And we nailed it pretty well,” Lee remembers. “But this is not a band of weekenders. Other Beatles bands have the same love for the music, but they don’t have the edge. They don’t do what we do for a living.”

Pagano, who oversees the Faux’s booking and financial affairs, hopes the band can start doing more than its current two dozen or so gigs a year and meet a growing demand for appearances outside New York. (The Faux’s next big local shows are September 11th and 12th at Webster Hall, where they will perform Ex-Factor, a thematic salute to the Beatles’ solo years.) “We get so many requests to play in other big cities,” says Pagano. “But Will and Jimmy never know when their vacations are coming up, and touring is a big part of Jack’s and my life.” In June, Petruzzelli missed only his second Faux gig in six years because he was in Europe with Rufus Wainwright. (The Faux have understudies for such rare occasions.)

The Fab Faux long ago learned to live with the stigma of being a cover band. “The first thing I tell people is ‘We don’t dress up,'” says Petruzzelli. “Some people are just not open to it, period.” But for the past few years, the Faux have been a top attraction at the annual Beatle Week in the real Fabs’ hometown of Liverpool. “These are people who had seen the Beatles,” Lee says. “They tell us, ‘We saw the Beatles many times, and they were never this good.'” He laughs. “That’s kind of hard to take.”