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Archive for May, 2010

SOUNDTRACK: MOBY GRAPE-Moby Grape (1967).

Moby Grape is one of those bands that I’ve always heard of but had never heard.  I know, their debut is 43 years old and yet I’d never heard it.  Well, thanks to the internet (lala.com, RIP as of today), I was able to listen to what I assumed was their Greatest Hits.  If only I had done a modicum of research.  The disc I chose was Legendary Grape, which it turns out is not a greatest hits at all, but is actually some weird pesudo-Moby Grape record released in 1989 under a different band name due to legal protractions, but then reissued as Moby Grape.  It was rather uninspired and nothing at all what I thought it would sound like.  Nothing dreadful, just nothing worth thinking that this band “legendary.”

So, with a little research, I learned that their first album is what I should have been checking out.  Moby Grape is the eponymous release and it sounds much more like what I assumed this psychedelic era-band would sound like.  This disc is pretty much in keeping with what a band that produced an album cover like this would sound like.

It’s sort of a folksy Grateful Deadish sound.  But they move beyond a simple genre with a host of writers and instrumentalists contributing their own thing, man.  So there’s a few rocking numbers, a few ballads, and a bunch of other fun things. To me the most notable thing is that in a time when trippy psychedelic songs were long events, Moby Grape played mostly short songs (the longest one is the final track at 4 minutes, but most are around 2 minutes long).

I think I may be too far removed from this scene to really appreciate the disc.  I like what I hear, and a second listen made it even more enjoyable, but I can’t imagine investing a lot of  time with the band.

[READ: Week of May 31, 2010] Moby-Dick [Chapters 19-41]

Plug #1:
In case you didn’t see it on Infinite Zombies, Daryl has created what he calls Moby-Diction, which allows you to search the text for any word and see where and how often it occurs.  Geek heaven!

Plug # 2:
A visual treat is found at Matt Kish’s monumental: One Drawing for Every Page of Moby-Dick, which is pretty well explained by its title.  It is an amazing site (sight) to behold.

Now, back to our story.

Week 2 of the Moby-Dick read is amusing because it continues a minor thread that has been going on for some 100 pages (of my edition): When are we going to meet Captain Ahab?  We hear a lot about him, including a portent of doom from Elijah, but he doesn’t appear until Chapter 28.

Elijah, meanwhile, appears on the Nantucket streets.  He reveals himself to Ishmael and Queequeg as a sort of homeless man who asks them if they’re sailing with Ahab.  When they say yes, of course, he warns them about some bad things that happened to Ahab and his leg and future portents of doom.  Ishmael is a bit freaked by the guy, especially when Elijah seems to be following them, but he tries to out the madman out of his mind. (more…)

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There’s a new (reasonably) new show called “Minute to Win It.”  The premise was so delightful, so “I want to do that” that I of course set up a TiVo Season Pass for it.

Basically, contestants have 60 seconds to complete really stupid, yet slightly challenging tasks.  And, unlike a lot of shows in this vein, there’s no threat of violence, there’s no crazy embarrassment, there’s no nonsense.   Simply: can you empty two tissue boxes, one hand per box in 60 seconds.  Or, can you flick a box of raisins from underneath a bottle and keep the bottle standing.  Or, can you kick a shoe across the rink onto a table and have it stay there.

Genius.  Stupid human tricks.  Best show ever.  Until you watch it. (more…)

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Thursday I went to BEA–Book Expo America.  I wasn’t all that thrilled to go this year as last year was kind of a drag (and publishers were stingy).  But this year I had a very good time.

By the time I got there it was already 11.  But I was thrilled to see that at that moment Mo Willems (we own all of his books, and my kids are huge fans of Pigeon and Elephant & Piggie) was signing posters for his new book.  He signed a poster for Clark (only one per person, sorry Tabitha).  And then over the course of the day I managed to lose the poster (sorry Clark). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE BEATLES-Help! (1965).

At last, a Beatles album that I knew from start to finish.  And here it is, another soundtrack album.  This disc is the first that starts to really embrace the diversity that The Beatles were capable of.

The title track starts out with the fairly shocking screams of “Help!” but it settles nicely into a poppy Beatles track.  Of course, I’ve yet to see the film of Help, so I don’t know how these songs fit in the movie. But as with A Hard Day’s Night, the first half of the songs were in the movie and the second half were not.  And somehow I’m surprised that “Act Naturally” (one of their funnier songs, even if they didn’t write it themselves) was not in the film.

Their other cover, “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” is probably my least favorite track (I just don’t like their cover choices).  But by then, the disc has well proven itself to be fantastic.

This also leads me to my first “huh?” moment with Beatles lyrics.  I have never understood “Ticket to Ride.” “She’s got a ticket to ride and she don’t care.”  Okay.  Why should I care, then?  I suppose the verses reveal more of the story, but from a chorus point of view, that’s a head scratcher.

To me, this is where The Beatles became THE BEATLES.

Oh, and did you know the semaphore doesn’t actually spell “HELP”?  They were going to do that, but the photographer didn’t like the way those semaphore letters looked.  So, he created this arrangement, which spells “NUJV.”

[READ: May 25, 2010] “please, thank you”

This story is written from the point of view of a stroke victim.  Mr Sanchez had a stroke and is hospitalized.  And we see him watching, unable to communicate, frustrated as people–nurses and others–hover around him, asking questions, turning on lights when he’s trying to sleep, and–the nerve–speaking to him in Spanish as if that was why he didn’t answer.

As the story progresses, we watch Mr Sanchez get stronger, go to therapy, feel better about himself and even, kind of, become friendly with the nurses and others who work in the hospital.

The story is basically that simple: regrowth after a stroke.  However, the writing style–the first person narrative–was absolutely compelling.  I enjoyed that the story was from his point of view, so we learned details as he felt they were worth revealing.  I enjoyed slowly learning more about his family.  And I really enjoyed learning why the story was written with no capital letters. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: EVANGELISTA-Prince of Truth [CST061] (2009).

This is the second disc by Evangelista, the band fronted by Carla Bozulich. This disc continues in the vein or the previous disc, which is a little disappointing.

The disc is chock full of a lot of noise: stringed instruments, textures, layers, but they all add up to very little.  Bozulich’s voice is in another location entirely.  On most of the songs, there’s no real connection.

Two songs in the middle, “You Are a Jaguar,” and “Iris Didn’t Spell” are more reasonable attempts where Bozulich’s wild vocals are wedded to a more standard musical composition.  And those tracks work pretty well.  But when there’s so much directionless stuff floating around on the disc, it’s hard to want to listen to it.

[READ: May 25, 2010] “Afraid to be Men”

This is a conversation between two men.  They are given no context and are speaking abstractly.  These two things combines make for a less than satisfying read.

Admittedly, this piece is excerpted from a longer piece called “Manifesto.”  I’m not planning to read the longer piece, so I’ll never find out of context is given. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRUSH-Beyond the Lighted Stage (film) (2010).

Okay, so I haven’t seen this yet, but I’m delighted to be able to add the link to the trailer.

This film is an in depth look at Rush’s history.  There’s interviews with all three of them (Neil speaks!) as well as all kinds of fans.  According to the website, it will air one day only, June 10 in the US and Canada, June 7th in the rest of the world.  It’s only playing in 4 theaters in NJ, and there’s a slight chance I can get to it.

Otherwise, I’ll have to wait for the DVD. But those 2 minutes of trailer were very exciting!

[READ: May 24, 2010] “Do Not Touch”

This story works a lot like an onion.  It starts in one place, then it sort of burrows in through a series of layers.

We open with the narrator falling for Thomas because he seems nervous (she find this an attractive quality in everyone).  He is a music reporter, and she is able to assist him with information about Diana Krall.  Soon enough, she has moved in with him.

But things aren’t great.  And then, one day, when she brings a watch to a jeweler, she marvels at the man’s delicate touch and his charm.  And she rummages through the house to find more watches for him to fix.

One of these watches she found at the zoo.  No one claimed it, so she kept it.  It is engraved and is quite old.

The story more or less culminates on a return visit to the zoo, where it takes a decidely different turn.  The narrator watches a woman makes a connection with a primate; a connection that aleinates her son.  And as the narrator watches this scene, she makes a personal decision.

What I loved about this story was watching the onion unfurl in just a few paragraphs.  The only problem I had was that I felt the onion didn’t unfurl all the way.  Many decisions were reached, but I’m unclear what her final decision will be.

Nevertheless, this story was very enjoyable.

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SOUNDTRACK: WALLER NOT WELLER blog.

WallerNotWeller found me when I reviewed Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All.  I went to his site and I adore it!  He writes some great reviews of concerts, CDs and singles.  His current project is the best singles and discs of 1983.  But while he’s working on that, he’ also reviewing a bunch of concerts that he’s been to recently.

What I love best about this site is his amazing breadth of appreciation for music.  There’s been a flurry of activity as he is completing the Top 50 list.  And, since I subscribed by email, I love that my Inbox has been inundated with reviews of this diverse collection: AGNETHA FALTSKOG (She of Abba fame), ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, MINUTEMEN, MISFITS, The B-52’S, DAVID BOWIE, DANIEL JOHNSTON, THE CARPENTERS, JOHNY CASH & AC/DC.  Now that’s breadth!

His reviews are a bit more comprehensive than mine (which I think means he points out a number of negatives that I don’t), but he and I see eye to eye on a lot of these discs.  It’s quite a treat.  And, he’s British, so his viewpoint is slightly different than mine…it’s a good eye-opener!

[READ: May 23, 2010] Wet Moon 4

With each new volume of this series, Campbell changes the appearance of his characters more and more.  Most of the characters now have softer features and big round eyes.  I find it more and more disconcerting, especially since the thing I loved about the book was the utter realism of his characters.

Fortunately the bodily features of the characters haven’t changed: they’re still believably shaped and realistically drawn, it’s just the faces are so weird (Trilby is so soft-looking now, oh and Cleo has a mohawk!).  But at least  the look is consistent throughout the volume.

So Wet Moon, the town, continues to thrive with this strangely intense goth subculture.  Yet this volume seems to introduce an “outsude” world too.  There’s a woman who recoils at two gay men sitting in her booth at a coffee shop. There’s even talk of homophobes attacking gays in the area.  And here I thought that Wet Moon was an idyllic place where all kinds of subculture thrives happily. (more…)

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