A while ago I reviewed an Earth concert and while I felt like I should have liked them, I didn’t like them as much as I anticipated. Well, Wooden Shjips (no idea what’s up with that “j”) sounds like I would have liked Earth to sound–a bit faster and yet still ponderous They play with really distorted guitars and heavy bass, but their songs aren’t terribly fast or anything. The thing that sets them apart is the keyboard–loud droney keyboards that take a kind of lead role and add a weird sort of retro feel to the heavy proceedings. Indeed, even the voice is fuzzed out and echoey, making the keyboard one of the few clean sounds in the show.
As befits droney metal bands, all of these songs are long. The first two “Lazy Bones” and “Black Smoke Rise” are over four minutes while the final two “Home” and “Flight” are over 5 and nearly 7 minutes respectively.
Lazy Bones is dominated by a spacey keyboard riff and vocals that are echoed almost into oblivion, reminding me of a kind of mid 70s Black Sabbath (if Ozzy’s voice was deeper). The riffs on “Home” and Flight” sounds like we’re in for some real classic rock, but again that droney keyboard (which also sounds retro but in a different way) mixes with the heavy distorted guitar in a new way. I’m intrigued to hear more from them.
Rock out here.
[READ: November 15, 2012] “Batman and Robin Have an Altercation”
I’m always surprised to see a Stephen King story in say Harper’s or the New Yorker. Not because he’s not good, but because he’s such a famous genre writer (and he certainly doesn’t need the exposure). I don’t even think of him as a short story writer, really. I wonder how he gets his stories in these magazines? Does he get vetted?
Well, this story was really enjoyable and if I hadn’t known it was Stephen King, I never would have guessed.
The first 3/5 of the story are about Dougie Sanderson and his Pop. Pop is in an old age home, suffering from Alzheimer’s. They have a routine, which is easy enough for Dougie to do, even if to his father it’s new every time. Dougie visits every week, they go Applebee’s, and they come home. This depends, of course, on how good Pop is doing that day–as long as he’s fairly lucid and isn’t cursing out everyone in sight.
What I appreciated about this story was that Pop has moments of incredible lucidity that can be immediately followed by moments of utter confusion Like when Pop calls him Reggie (Dougie’s brother who died forty-five years ago in a car accident . But the moments of lucidity are nice for Dougie–although they’re not encouraging exactly, because most days he guiltily admits that he wishes things would end sooner rather than later.
The Batman and Robin of the title refer to a Halloween costume that Dougie ad Pop wore when Dougie was little. Indeed, Pop remembers it very well, “Halloween, you dummy. You were eight, so it was 1959. You were born in ’51.” Pop even adds a detail that Dougie didn’t remember: that Norma Forester looked at Dougie and said “trick or treat” and then looked at Pop and said “trick or drink” and offered him a bottle of Shiner’s. Dougie is silent–amazed at the memory. Then Pop says “she was the best lovin’ I ever had.” Dougie doesn’t know whether to believe this or not thinking, “They hurt you…. They may not mean to, but they do…. There’s no governor on them, no way of separating the stuff that’s okay to talk about from the stuff that isn’t.”
The “altercation” of the title comes near the end of the story when a pickup truck cuts of Dougie and Dougie, who took his eyes of the road to look at his Pop, crashes into him. No one is hurt, but the man in the pick up truck is “a south Texas staple…the kind of guy who when [Dougie] sees him…causes him to push the button that locks the door.” But Dougie, feeling protective f his father, gets out to talk to the man.
The man immediately sets the story straight–no insurance, no nothing, you pay for yours, I pay for mine. Just move on, that’s how it’s going to work. But Dougie stands up to him. And the man shows Dougie his insurance card (which is a punch to the stomach). Things go downhill from there until there’s a very surprising ending.
I really wasn’t sure where King was going to go with this story from the first few pages and the whole altercation, even though it was in the title, surprised me quite a lot. I was fully engrossed in the story and found the ending very darkly satisfying.