It opens with a cool bass riff and then thundering guitars. This song continues in the heavier, grungier sound from Vapor Trails. The middle section sounds distinctly Rush (late 80s style), and Geddy’s voice hits some pretty high notes.
There’s a brief extra section with a spoken word part–I’ve not been able to make out what it says, but the instruments (especially the great guitar sound) is fantastic behind it. That’s followed by a great solo from Alex (that hearkens back to his wild solos from the 70s). Geddy throws some cool bass fills–although he’s not showing off as much as he might). And, of course, Neil is doing some cool drum things through the song–little fills and whatnot–and he sounds like he’s pounding the hell out of the drums.
Here’s the video
[READ: April 14, 2012] Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk
As I mentioned yesterday, I bought a book to have David Sedaris sign it, but decided the wait wasn’t worth it. This is the book I bought. It very excitedly claims to “with one new story” which I thought was funny both in itself and also because I hadn’t read any of the other ones (I gather they are from This American Life, although they’re mostly too vulgar to have read on the radio). It also has illustrations from Ian Falconer, who is the guy behind Olivia, the children’s book series.
Anyone who has read David Sedaris essays knows what to expect–funny, presumably exaggerated stories about his family and loved ones. Indeed, the stories that he read from during the show were just that–dark and funny and about his loved ones. So imagine my surprise to find that these were all short fictional stories about animals! No Sedaris’ are harmed in this book.
All of the animals are behaving like people, so Sedaris’ caustic wit and attacks on hypocrisy are all in play. However, because they are animals, Sedaris can go much much further with them. Matt Groening said that he could get away with a lot more social criticism because The Simpsons were cartoons; the same applies here. Indeed, these are some of the darkest stories that I have ever read from Sedaris.
Some of them are kinda funny, but most of them left me mildly bemused at best. Because while they seem to be a kind of laugh-at-the-recognition-of-our-foolish-behavior (as done by animals), really they are preachy and seem generally disappointed in us. And who wants to read that? It basically seemed like an opportunity for Sedaris to make fun of things that he doesn’t like about people. But he knew it would be obnoxious to makes stories about people acting that way, so he made them animals instead. And perhaps he thought that would make it funnier. At times this was true, but not very often.
This was Sedaris’ darkest work yet–animals have their eyes eaten out, they are injected with all manner of things, and most of them end up a bloody mess. It’s no secret that Sedaris doesn’t like animals. He said as much in our show; his gleeful endorsement of Gordon Grice’s Deadly Kingdom: The Book of Dangerous Animals was summed up as: “If you’ve ever felt bad about eating meat, just read this book.” He said that monkeys are assholes, and that sentiment seemed to apply to all of the animal kingdom.
So, sure animals are inherently more violent and brutish than people (most people). These stories take that natural brutality and add in doses of genuine human foibles and test how they might pan out. I really didn’t think they were that funny though. Many got a smile of recognition, but very few out loud laughs.
Perhaps the thing that I liked least about the book was that the stories felt like morality tales. I guess having them be about animals made them a bit more like fables, but it’s unsettling to have a moral come in such a disturbing form. “The Vigilant Rabbit” is about a rabbit who is a centurion at the gates of his village. And as he fills with power he becomes more and more brutal with his cudgel–until the wolves come and show him what real brutality is. It’s not terribly profound and it’s not terribly funny.
And I have to say, I’ve always thought that Falconers’ drawings were creepy–Olivia is a weird-ass looking creation. But the illustrations in here are really awful (not in quality, but in subject matter). He uses only three colors, and the garish red (which is used a lot, there’s so much blood) is really harsh and grotesque. Most of the animals have that wavery line that he does so well, which makes the animals all the more scared/abused/horrified. I mean, “The Motherless Bear” is a pretty graphics and disturbing story (the bear is captured by the circus–her teeth are torn out and her knees are swollen from all of the work)–and Falconer spares nothing in his depiction of it.
I know that a lot of Sedaris’ work is dark and misanthropic, but he usually manages to feed us the truth with heavy doses of sugar. There’s no sweetener, natural or artificial here.