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Archive for November, 2013

gb3SOUNDTRACK: LUNCH MONEY-“Ate too Much of My Favorite Food” (2009).

lunchmoneySurely everyone has experienced this horrible feeling–you love some kind of food so much that you eat too much and get sick.  My example was peanut butter Rice Krispie treats, an invention that I assume was my mothers.  They were sooooo good.  But I have never eaten them since that day (over 30 years ago.  In fairness, no one has offered them to me either).

So this is a fun song–opening with snapped fingers and a solo female voice before the horn fueled simple melody comes in.  I enjoyed the way the “ba ba ba” section turned into baba ghanoush.

There’s a shout-out section about the foods that did you right and wrong.  My only quibble with the song is that the foods that they list are really strange–foods that no one thinks of as their favorite foods–zucchini??, creamed spinach??.  Even gummy bears?  Where’s the heavy foods that kids actually overeat?

Lunch Money has another song called “I Love My Library” that I may have to check out.  This one came on the Kids Corner 25th Anniversary CD.

[READ: October 25, 2013] Goofballs #3: Superhero Silliness

This book introduced me to a word that I evidently should have known for some time: derder.  A derder is the cardboard roll inside of toilet paper or paper towels.  You put your lips up to it and go “der der der” and it’s a musical instrument.  Seriously.

But what does that have to do with Superheroes?  Well, in this case, plenty.

The kids are on line at Pizza Palace, the site of their very first mystery (which we never saw).  Luigi, the owner, had named a pizza after them for their brave deeds–cheese, garlic, pineapple and peanut butter.  And now it was one year after that deed and he was adding a new mystery topping.  Everyone was waiting to see what it would be when a lino pulled up to the line and called the Goofballs over.  It is Randall Crandall’s driver and he says that Randall Crandall needs their help.

Randall has the world’s largest collection of derders and he is afraid that someone is planning to steal it.  He is having a superhero costume party and he fears that the thief will try to steal them during the party. Will the Goofballs come dressed in original superhero costumes and catch the thief?

Will they ever! (more…)

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Fall 2013 brought in a whole slew of new shows that we wanted to check out.  And while we dropped some after an episode, we still have a few that are lingering on the DVR which we are never really all that excited to watch them.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that a couple of shows that we thought were sure goners are still around.  And of course, there’s always those shows that we never watched and when we see an ad for it we say, “that’s still on?”

So last time, I did a tally of networks.  Let’s see who wins this time:
NBC: 4  FOX: 6   CBS: 3  Comedy Central: 1  FX: 1  ABC: 3  Lifetime: 1 SyFy: 1   (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SIGUR RÓS-Von (1997).

von

This is Sigur Rós’ debut album. It is a far cry from the gorgeousness that their later albums would bring.  In fact it is primarily an excuse for washes of songs, trippy sound effects, otherworldly vocals and the occasional song.  You can hear elements of that later Sigur Rós, but for the most part this is some pretty simple space rock.

 “Sigur Rós” opens the album with spacey sounds and a distant hi hat.  It’s a series of swirling notes and waves of chords for 9 minutes.  Some vocals (okay screams) come in around 6 minutes making it a bit more scary than trippy.  It morphs into “Dögun”which is closer to the famed Sigur Rós sound–swirls of notes and ethereal voices.  At 3 minutes some really distant crazy voices start singing as most of the music drops away. “Hún Jörð …”   brings some beats (backwards) until the song proper starts.  There are two vocals singing high swooning sounds over a simple bass (two note) melody and drums.  It’s a very simple song but especially after 12 minutes of space music that preceded it, it really coalesces as a song.  And when the band crashes in and the drums start pounding (a great build up) the album really hits its stride.  It’s a pretty great precursor to their later great songs and the studio trickery at the end of the song (making it go backwards) is pretty fun too.

“Leit að lífi” is a 3 minute song of spacey noodling. maybe backwards guitar and theremin.  “Myrkur” reintroduces some bass guitar (this actually sounds like a riff from an 80s alt rock band). It may be their most conventional song.  “18 sekúndur fyrir sólarupprás” is 18 seconds of silence.  “Hafssól” is a trippy swirly song with waves of music and distant voices for over 12 minutes.  “Veröld ný og óð” is mostly percussion, which then morphs into people talking and laughing.

Title tack “Von” also begins with percussion, but in a more song oriented way.  The vocals also come in nicely in the mix letting you know that a proper song is coming–although it stays very spacey and fragile.  “Mistur” is only 2 minutes of percussion.  “Syndir Guðs (Opinberun frelsarans)”  has a simple bassline with trippy squeaky guitars and whispered vocals.  For 7 minutes.  It’s simple and repetitive but very enjoyable.  The final track “Rukrym”  is six minutes of silence and then “Myrkur” played backwards.

Never reaching the heights of their later albums, this does give a glimpse into what they might get up to.  However, it mostly feels like early trippy Pink Floyd.

[READ: November 27, 2013] Both Flesh and Not

Sarah got me this book for Christmas last year.  I had intended to read it but I realized that I had read all of the essays individually before, so it became a lower priority.  The only thing in the book that is “new” is the list of DFW’s definitions of words that he saved on his computer.  Before each essay there is an alphabetical list of words he found interesting with their definitions (and some annotations).  They help you appreciate the kinds of things he was interested in and the complexity of words.  It’s pretty cool.  I particularly liked: “muntin–strip of wood or metal that separates & holds various panes in a window, like a window w/four individual panes arranged in a big rectangle etc (that’s putting it well Dave).

But when I recently read Wittgenstein’s Mistress, I decided to reread his essay, so i looked in the book.  And it all spiraled from there–so much that I’m going to compare the book versions to the original articles next week.

And but so, this is a very enjoyable collection of essays. The essays are arranged chronologically from 1988-2007 (except for the first article which gives the book its title and is a great opener, but which I argue is the one that should be read after a different essay).  There’s a couple of essays on tennis, some book reviews, some essays about writing, and some thoughts on the (then) current political climate.  Nothing is too too academic (well, a couple are), and while many of the stories do come from DFW’s younger writing days when he was a little pedantic, his later ones are a lot of fun (and his love for tennis is palpable). (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: November 21, 2013] “You Must Know Everything” podcast

podcastIn the fourth New Yorker fiction podcast, George Saunders reads Isaac Babel.  I know Saunders very well, although I knew next to nothing about Isaac Babel.

Saunders sets up this story very briefly before diving in to the read.  There’s something fantastic about the way Saunders read the story–full of emotion and affect.  He absolutely made the story come to life and his commentary at the end made the story even better.

Babel was 21 when he wrote this story (he was amazingly prolific–his Complete Works is over 1,000 pages), and Saunders is blown away by the amount of depth such a young writer fits into the story.  Saunders says that for him Babel is a combination of Hemingway and Kerouac–Hemingway because Babel edited his storied very intensely and Kerouac because he wasn’t afraid to add the occasional poetic touch.

In the story, a young boy is going to visit his grandmother.  As the story opens, he explains that he was always very observant.  He knew everything about the streets of his city, Odessa.  He knew the stores and the anomalies in the buildings.  He observed every new window.  Until someone teased him for looking in a lingerie store. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: November 20, 2013] “Urban Planning” podcast

podcastIn the third New Yorker fiction podcast, Donald Antrim reads Donald Barthelme.  I know both writers, but neither one all that well.

The story is absurdist and very funny.  In it, the narrator buys “a little city,”Galveston, Texas.  He keeps things pretty much the way they are–he doesn’t want anything too imaginative going on.  He tears down several houses and builds new developments (cut in the shape of puzzle pieces).  But he’s a little bored so he goes out and shoots 6,000 dogs, and then makes a front page announcement that he had done it.  This causes some upset (naturally), and he’s appreciative for the excitement.

But overall he is unsatisfied because he is in love with a married woman.  And she won’t leave her husband (and may not even know who the narrator is–except that he owns the city).  Eventually he had to sell the city back (and he took a real soaking financially on that deal).

The story has many many funny lines–laugh out loud funny–and (dog killing aside) it is a funny and delightfully weird story that retains its voice no matter how odd it seems. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: November 20, 2013] “The Dating Game” podcast

outkoudIn the second New Yorker fiction podcast, Edwidge Danticat doesn’t read Díaz’s story but rather she discusses it and her connection to Díaz after listening to the audio from the New Yorker Out Loud 2 CD (the story is read by Junot Díaz with Gail Thomas doing the female voices).

I have yet to read Díaz’s Drown (for no real reason, I just haven’t), which is where this story appears.  And I enjoyed that this story is written in the same style as his later stories about Junior (sure, I suppose he will need to move beyond Junior as a character but it seems like he has plenty of stories to tell).  And I found this story unsettling and very enjoyable.

The story is a funny/obnoxious (I mean, re-read the title) story about, as the title suggests, how to date a girl–there are different specifics depending on her race (white girls will put out, but local girls you need to take to the fancy restaurant).  And be sure to take the government cheese out of the fridge so she doesn’t see it–but be damn sure to put it back before your mom gets home.

The reading is wonderful and having Thomas do the female voices really adds a nice touch.  I would say more about the story, but Danticat says a lot of what I was thinking about it.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DR. DOG-Tiny Desk Concert #7 (October 20, 2008).

drdog

I have been hearing a lot about Dr. Dog lately (they are from Philly and the radio station we listen to is from Philly, so that makes sense).  But I had assumed they were a new band.  So imagine my surprise to see that they were the 7th Tiny Desk Concert and the first full band to play the Tiny Desk.  (Their first album came out in 2005!).

It’s fun to watch a five piece band squeeze into the Tiny Desk (the drummer is playing a small pink suitcase) and the fifth member of the band is playing some various percussions (I wonder if he does more in the band).  It’s also funny when one of the guitars breaks a string and the singer says “son of a bitch.”

Dr. Dog proves to be quite interesting.  Their first song is “The Beach.”  It’s a rocking awesome track–the guitar is great and bassist Toby Leaman’s move is raspy and powerful.  I really like this song a lot.  The second song is quite different, it’s a bouncy boppy song that sounds a bit like a more rocking Grateful Dead (that bass).  This song has a different singer–Scott McMicken, who plays lead guitar on “The Beach,” but acoustic guitar here.  (The other guitarist, Frank McElroy  played acoustic on The Beach and electric on this one).

After a lengthy discussion they play the third song (in a different version from the record) “How Dare.”  This song opens with their great harmonies (a wonderful feature of the band).  It also has a jam band quality (Toby’s back on vocals but less raspy and powerful, and more bluesy)/on this track.

The band seemed to think they were only to play two songs, and frankly it’s a shame they only play 3. At 12 minutes it one of the shorter Tiny Desk concerts.  But I am a convert to Dr. Dog, and I need to hear more from them.

[READ: November 10, 2013] “Reunion”

After listening to Richard Ford in yesterday’s podcast, I decided I wanted to read his take on the Cheever story “Reunion.”  And while I can definitely see that it was inspired by a kernel of an idea in Cheever’s story, I probably never would have put the two together had I not known.

Ford’s story opens the same way as Cheever’s with someone waiting in Grand Central Station.  It turns out that the person is Mack Bolger.  Bolger is waiting intently for someone.  We quickly learn that the narrator who spies Bolger had had an affair with Bolger’s wife, Beth about a  year and a half prior to this meeting.  It ended abruptly when Mack confronted them in their hotel room (in St. Louis).  Mack (who is a large man) boxed the narrator’s ears a bit and sent him running from the room in varying stages of dress (and without a precious scarf which his mother had given him).

He had not seen Mack again, although he did see Beth on one final instance–a sort of final closure.  They met in a bar and tied up loose ends, and that was that.

So when the narrator sees Mack he gets this sudden urge to speak to him:

just as you might speak to anyone you casually knew and had unexpectedly but not unhappily encountered. And not to impart anything, or to set in motion any particular action (to clarify history, for instance, or make amends), but just to speak and create an event where before there was none.  (more…)

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