Archive for the ‘Alternate Reality’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BIG DADDY KANE-Tiny Desk Concert #708 (February 19, 2018).

I remember Big Daddy Kane, of course, although I don’t think I knew any of his songs.  As far as I can tell, Kane hasn’t released an album since 1998.  But his voice sounds great and he seems pretty content to rap his old hits.

The smooth operator, Big Daddy Kane, still emits that same palpable swag he did as a lyrical heartthrob during his heyday. He strides into the room and fully commands it with his presence.

One of the greatest to ever bless the mic, Big Daddy Kane treated Tiny Desk to an office block party in the true essence of hip-hop.  Kane, aka Dark Gable, was a breakout member of the seminal Juice Crew in hip-hop’s golden era during the latter part of the 1980s. He popularized quick-cadence flows and multisyllabic rhyme schemes.

He performed a short set of classics, including “Smooth Operator,” “Ain’t No Half Steppin’,” “Raw” and a bonus freestyle. Through his warm, engaging and devilishly self-effacing style, the pioneer used an interlude between songs to address the intergenerational divisiveness defining rap today and the importance of fans of all ages supporting whatever they like, while “focusing on what’s positive and keeping that in the spotlight.”

The Concert opens with a great drum beat and a funky bass line for “Smooth Operator.”  The rather wimpy keyboard riff with the sax is kind of a wasted opportunity to give fuller sound to this song.

It’s interesting that Kane–whose voice still sounds deep and full–keeps the old songs with incredibly dates references like “Freddy Krueger walking on Kane Street.”

Mid song Kane says, “stay right here Ben… gonna make this into a family affair.  Are there any smooth operators out there?”  They sing the riff.  Then, “Let me see whats happening behind me.  Jay Dub (John Williams) on sax, is he a smooth operator?”  He is.  Kane tells him to “Make yourself at home” with a good solo.

While that solo is going on, he says “certain members of the band just can’t wait till their turn (looks at keyboardist who had been playing with the solo).  He says, “He’s been with me a long time, he’s the baby of the crew we call him J Minor (Judson Nelson)–most places we play he’s not supposed to be there, he’s not old enough. If I ask you to play like a grown man, how’s that sounds, baby?  He plays a smooth solo.

Kane: “I forgot there was another verse.  I was having so much fun looking at them.”

We should keep this party going.  I saw a couple of these people looking at their watch.  Some of you all might be on lunch break I don’t want to mess it up

“Ain’t No Half Steppin” starts off with simple sax and some more dated lines:  “Friday the 13th, I’m gonna play Jason.”  (Rappers loved horror movies back in the day).  He gets the crowd into it: “Say it like it’s 6’o clock Ain’t no half steppin’.”

“Let me hear you once more…  I lied, just one more time y’all.”

After the song he says, “I’m enjoying myself.  This is all right for real I might fill out an application for a job here next week.  this ai’iiht.”

“I’m gonna do one more song and then were gonna shut it down and this ain’t got nothing with y’all getting back to work, I’m starting to get hot in here.”

A great drum beat starts off “Raw” which is followed by that crazy squeaky sax.  And there’s this one last pop culture line: “The rhymes I use definitely amuse better than Dynasty or Hill Street Blues.

Mid-song, a cool faster drum beat is added–I love the snare sound Matt Lambert gets and then the whole band kicks of for a great riff on bass and sax to end the song–it’s a shame it ended there as it was really taking off.

People don’t want him to leave, so they do a freestyle.  A cool slide bass line from Benjamin Geis and staccato piano.  It’s my favorite music of the show.  And the speed of his freestyle rap is really impressive.  And he (virtually) drops the mic and is off.

It’s a great old school set.

[READ: Summer 2017] The Long Earth

I have read nearly everything that Terry Pratchett has written (I kind of drifted a bit towards the end, but I’ll catch up eventually).  Anyway, I was in the bookstore in Bethlehem, PA and saw this book.  It’s a series I’ve known about but didn’t know very much about.  I decided to check it out to see what it was all about.  I don’t know very much at all about Stephen Baxter except that he’s a hard science fiction writer, meaning he focuses as much on the science as he does on the fiction.

So how does this pair–a hard science writer and a comic parodist of fantasy work together?  Well, honestly the story is much more Baxter than Pratchett. Although since I haven’t read any Baxter, I guess I can’t say that legitimately, but it’s definitely not very Pratchetty.

Well, maybe some of the character interactions are kind of Pratchetty, but certainly not like any of his Discworld characters.  As with any co-writing experience, I wondered how this story was constructed.  So I found an interview with Stephen Baxter from around the time they finished writing the fourth and final book

How did the idea for the Long Earth series come about?

The whole thing was basically Terry’s idea. He’d started work on this project and short stories set in this world back in the ’80s but he got stuck with it.  He wanted to have a very human, level way to access these words. You don’t need to get there on a rocket ship, you can just walk in.  At the same time, the vision for the end was going to be out on a galaxy somewhere.

We’d known each other for years and [about] five years or so ago at a dinner party, Terry [said he] was going through his archives looking for unpublished short stories and things like that and he came across an aborted project from about 30 years ago.  We were just talking about that and it just struck me as immediately a great idea because it’s so simple and yet it’s got endless possibilities.  By the end of that [party] we already had the storylines and Terry was going to send me the material.

Terry was having trouble seeing so Stephen did the typing and then “We fixed each line and each scene together.”

So that’s that sorted.

Baxter also says “it just struck me as immediately a great idea because it’s so simple and yet it’s got endless possibilities.”

And that is the truth.  The story can be summed up pretty easily. (more…)


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SOUNDTRACK: GEORGE CLINTON & THE P-FUNK ALL STARS-Tiny Desk Concert #697 (January 24, 2018).

George Clinton is famous for being from outer space and for bringing the funk.  That was a pretty long time ago.  He’s now 77, but he still has the energy and the passion, although it is weird to see him looking so…normal.

He’s just got on a cool coat–no colored dreadlocks, no dresses or sequins.  But he still holds a room’s attention.

P-Funk’s lineage runs 50-plus years. From The Parliaments to Funkadelic to Parliament Funkadelic to the P-Funk All Stars, George Clinton has conducted the mothership as a reliable father figure. When he commands you to “put a glide in your stride and a dip in your hip, and come on up to the Mothership,” he’s presenting to you the first law of Funktonian physics. We at NPR pledged our groovellegiance when he and his P-Funk All Stars touched down to bless the Tiny Desk.

I love that Clinton has kept the spirit and familial nature of P-Funk alive all these years:

Clinton has brought his own bloodline into the most recent lineup of P-Funk: His grandchildren are the newest backup singers, while another grandchild serves as tour manager. Though this was a much smaller outfit than their traditional stage shows — no horn section, no dancers, no Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk — the extended family was also in full effect. Garrett Shider on rhythm guitar, filling in for his late father, Garry Shider, aka Starchild. Even original trumpeter Bennie Cowan, who still tours with the group but didn’t make it to the Tiny Desk, typically plays alongside his son Benzel on drums. Blackbyrd McKnight and Lige Curry cement the foundation as elder statesmen who’ve been rocking with Clinton since 1978.

They play three songs.  I don’t know how much Clinton sang back in the day–was he the lead singer or just a bringer of the funk?  But in “Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On” most of the vocals are chanted and sung by the backing vocalists (Tonysha Nelson, Patavian Lewis, and Tairee Parks).  Clinton is more like the hype man–getting everyone worked up, clapping and making noise.  Rhythm guitarist Garrett Shider takes a lead vocal, keeping the funk going.  The song is big and the riff is great and the funk is entirely in the house.  Dwayne Blackbyrd McKnight plays an awesome funky guitar throughout the Concert.

“One Nation Under A Groove” is a more mellow (relatively), smoother song.  I love the guitar sound, and there’s some suitably funky and retro-sounding keyboards from Danny Bedrosian.

“Give up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)” is the real classic.  Clinton is really into this one–dancing and clapping and the bass by Lige Curry and drums by Benzel Cowan are terrific.

He may not have the interstellar look, but Clinton still has the funk.

[READ: October 25, 2017] Birthright: Volume Five

This is the first Birthright volume that I didn’t love.  There was a lot of demon head ripping off and tentacles and splatters.  Fire and blood and gore, but not a lot of coherent action.

It started out quite good with Rya’s back story. We see her as a baby on a battlefield being rescued by, of all creaturs…an orc.  He told her of the prophecy to defeat Lore.  And then she met young Mikey and “knew that the prophecy was a load of razorbeast dung.”

Then we see Mikey quickly develop into the man he is–and then disappear.  It was rumored he was killed but then Kallista gave away that he was still alive.  That made Rya really mad. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JULIEN BAKER-Tiny Desk Concert #690 (January 10, 2018).

Julien Baker joins a handful of artists who have now made a second appearance at a Tiny Desk Concert.  (If they start inviting artists back regularly, they’ll never get ANY work done at the NPR offices).

I was quite enamored with Baker when I watched her first Tiny Desk Concert.  And I was totally smitten with her when I saw her open for The Decemberists.

Julien plays three songs here.  I’m intrigued that in the blurb Bob says “I reached out to ask if she would be willing to do something different this time around.”

It makes it sound as if she’s going to do some kind of dance/electronica show.  But I guess the difference is that last time, she just played electric guitar and this time she mixes up instrumentation and adds a violinist.

The first two songs, “Hurt Less” and “Even,” were accompanied by Camille Faulkner, with Julien on piano for the opening tune and acoustic guitar on the second.

If Julien Baker sounds delicate with just her electric guitar, she’s twice as delicate on piano.  But her voice sounds exquisite–powerful, honest and a little raspy, adding a slight edge.

I love seeing her sticker-covered acoustic guitar as she sings on “Even”:

Putting my fist through the plaster in the bathroom of a Motel 6 / I must have pictured it all a thousand times / I swear to God I think I’m gonna die / I know you were right / I can’t be fixed, so help me

She tends to play her guitar a little louder than the piano, so this one is a bit more dynamic.  The violin adds some aching sounds over the top.

I love that she plays each song in a very different style:

For the final song, Julien put together an arrangement of “Appointments” that begins on electric guitar, which then was looped as a backdrop to her on piano and voice.

It’s always fun watching someone loop guitar melodies.  And I like that she continues to loop long after it seems like the looping is done.  This allows for some of her gorgeous ringing chords.  They continue to ring out as she plays the piano.  It’s even cooler that she can stop parts of the guitar looping while she is completing the song.

All along her voice, which seems so delicate when she starts proves to be really powerful, especially during “Appointments” when she builds to a powerful high.    When I saw her live, she held a really long note that was quite impressive.  Don’t be fooled by the quietness of her music, Julien Baker rocks.

[READ: October 27,2017] Threads of Blue

This is the sequel to Beautiful Blue World, a book I really enjoyed.

In the first book, Mathilde’s country of Sofarende was being attacked by Tyssia.  She was sent to a special location to work on the war effort–they needed precocious children and she was picked for her empathy.  As the book ended, Mathilde followed her empathy and, while their encampment was under siege, released a teenaged prisoner of war because she felt that he was a good person who was just caught up in the war.

This act caused her to leave her group (and her best friend Megs) and to miss the conveyance to safety.

As this book opens, Mathilde wakes up on a boat that is bringing her to the country of Eilean.  She has secret documents and an order to be secretive.

The book picks up right where the previous one left off (I could have used a slight refresher, honestly). (more…)

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This EP is a collection of some B-sides and Outtakes from their fantastic album Birds Say.  There are five songs, included a stunning cover of Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979.”

The other four songs are the lovely “Whippoorwill” punctuated by scratches from the mandolin and guitar at the end of each line.  Lead vocals seem to be from Auyon, but there’s very rarely one lead vocalist here.  And just when you think the song is a pretty folk song, the end gets bigger, with a cool bass line and louder harmonies.

“Fourth of July” is all about harmonies and a propulsive chorus.  And “Open Door” is almost a capella.  The only music for a time is the scratching of Harris Paseltine’s guitar strings as a rhythm while all four sing beautifully.  This song is faster than many of their others and even features a whistling solo.  There is some minimal violin on this track but it really feels fully a capella.

“Blow the House Down” is an old song (from their debut–when they had a drummer!) reissued here as a foursome.  What’s notable about it is that vocals are supplied almost exclusively by bassist David Senft.  Rather interesting humming bass backing vocals are supplied by everyone else.  It ends with a wailing (for them) noisy solo from Don Mitchell’s electric guitar and Auyon’s violin (it’s even more intense live).

The final song is their terrific cover of “1979.”  I’ve always thought the music for this song was wonderful.  But hearing their version of it I realized how much Corgan’s voice kinda ruins the song.  Hearing these guys harmonize the verse is pretty great.  But hearing them sing full-out on the chorus “I don’t even care” is utterly gorgeous.  Their version is the gold standard for this song now.  It’s a great EP (and three of the guys signed it for me!).

[READ: November 5, 2017] Castle in the Stars

This gorgeous graphic novel was originally published in French and was translated by Anne and Owen Smith.

The title is an intriguing one and while initially confusing, it makes perfect scene when you realize the book is about ballooning: “1868: The Age of Progress, an era of industry… beyond the blue of the sky, where the cold freezes the breath, where the air disappears…the mysetry begins.”

For this story is not just about ballooning, it is about The Secret of Aether.

The story is about young Seraphin. As the book opens, his mother is going into the balloon. His father is yelling at her that she is crazy to go up in the is weather (gorgeous ominous clouds fill the full page). He tries to guilt her into not going.  But her balloon is equipped with a bulb that will light when it gets to the aether, which is her quest.  Then she is up in the air writing in her journal.

She rises to 12,000 meters but… nothing. She’s about to give up when at 12,900 meters the bulb shines brightly and then explodes.  She found it! And she is never seen again. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TYLER, THE CREATOR-Tiny Desk Concert #683 (December 11, 2017).

I’ve never really liked Tyler, The Creator.  My experience with him and his Odd Future posse was that they were just too …  everything.  Violent, misogynist, homophobic, everything.  Well, it has been a decade or so since he first came to my awareness and he has matured considerably.

The change was noted in the blurb:

Flower Boy, Tyler’s latest album, is much like this Tiny Desk performance; a surprising departure from the expected. Four albums in, he has matured as a producer, rapper and human being. Often equated to hip-hop’s class clown, the 26-year-old peels back his own mask of immaturity to reveal a young adult grappling with anxiety, fear and uncertainty of self.

Which is not to say that he’s not vulgar, because he is, but he is also a lot of fun.  And he made a point of having fun at this Tiny Desk Concert:

Tyler, The Creator’s Tiny Desk performance was a first for many reasons. It was the Los Angeles rapper’s first time performing at our offices, but moreover, it was the Tiny Desk’s first nighttime performance, a special request from Tyler and his team in order to professionally light the “stage” themselves. Members of Tyler’s lighting crew came to the office a day before to set it up, eventually bathing him and his band in shades of fuchsia, orange and blue — one for each song — during the early evening show.

“Boredom” opens with the room bathed in blue as the two backing singers Kaye Fox and Kiandra Richardson sing a pretty melody of “boredom got a new best friend” as the keys by Jaret Landon, drums by Dalton Hodo and upright bass (!) by Dré Pinckney plays a mellow jam.  After a minute and a  half, Tyler comes out and starts rapping.  I like when he adds his 70s sounding synth over the backing vocals.

They have a lengthy jam at the end with the backing singers getting a chance: “make something up its your turn.”  Then he asks a woman in the audience with a phone: “whats your name?”  “Nana.”  he sings, “Nana in this mother fucker… you can call me.”

I assume he has a cold (his voice sounds very cool and gravelly) as he “sips this nasty ass tea.  Can’t believe people choose to drink this shit.”

As “See You Again” starts, he plays a new synth sound and the lights turn fuschia.  Then he says, “I don’t know how many people are familiar with this song.  If you wanna join in because you’re excited, feel free to join in because i like that shit.  Then he points, “I know you three for sure you been saying every lyric.  I appreciate you.”

When it starts he says, “Excuse my voice.  I can’t sing….  But I don’t fucking care because it feels good.  Like a warm shower.  I think.

The blurb notes that his warmth to the audience was genuine:

After he was done, Tyler did something of a modified mic-drop, throwing his tambourine in celebration of what he and his band had accomplished. Always one to stay casually connected with his fans, Tyler made time — nearly an hour after the performance was done — to pose for photos, sign merch and crack jokes with (and on) everyone around him.

“Glitter” features a lot more rapping and some great backing vocals.  I assume that the backing singers will become known and their voices are great.

When the set ends, the screen goes black.  But wait, there’s more.

He says, “I guess we’re done (people clap).  Wait, wait (getting angry-sounding, like Dave Chapelle) I’m about to talk.  I wanna talk.  Shit.

Someone asks, “Whats on your mind.”  He says, “Thank you.  I respect that.  People don’t take the time to ask that. To listen.”  He has everyone go around and introduce themselves and give a fun fact.  The whole set is a lot of fun.

[READ: October 20, 2017] Demon Vol. 3

Volume 3 of this series continues the thread of Jimmy Yee.  Jimmy is a demon who–when his host body is killed–will instantly jump into the nearest living body.  He and his daughter Sweetpea have been alive for hundreds of years and have seen and done everything.  They have unlimited money and resources and have slept and killed their way around the world several time over.

By Chapter 15 Jimmy runs into that guy from the earlier books with the square hair and mustache  (Hunter).  Hunter wants to kill this demon so they get into a hilariously over the top fight sequence.  Since nether one of them can die, they jump out of building and crash into things–jumping into the next body and the next.  The carnage is incredible. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 9 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 16, 2005).

This was the second to last night, the 9th night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.

This show seems to be a confluence of technical difficulties and goofs.  The band is probably loopy after eight nights.  They even got under way late, apparently.

They open with “Saskatchewan.”  The song sounds great, the band is really into it. The backing vocals are great and the song soars.  But then they spend nearly 6 minutes trying to figure stage issues out.   Martin says, “Tim’s acoustic guitar is strung in Nashville tuning.  You should try it sometime.” (I wonder what that means).

Thanks to Great Aunt Ida for opening for us tonight.

Martin says “This is the Cazostatics.  Hugo Boss’ line of clothing. You notice Tim’s flannel shirt.”  Dave and Martin talk about “guys touching their nipples, a  21st century phenomenon.”  Martin: “It was funny 12 years ago.  There’s one person who can do it I love him.”  (I wonder who that is).

After a few minutes, Dave says, “Be careful or I’ll start talking about merch….  All right, I’m talking about merch (merch bassline).

This song (Tim’s new song) is worth it, I like it a lot.  Tim: “this better be a good fucking song is all I have to say.”  “Sunshine At Night” sounds good.

Don’t forget the bongos.  Martin:  “last night, I got to play the bongos with a black turtleneck on.”  Dave: “I think you mean you got away with playing bongos wearing a black turtleneck.”

Then comes two songs from Introducing Happiness.   “Fish Tailin'” and “Me and Stupid.”  At the end, Dave says, “Tim, a little horn pipe on the bass.”  Which he does.  And then Dave says, “one thing we don’t know about Ford Pier–have you ever recited poetry?”  “Never have done, sir?” Anything that rhymes?  Greeting cards?”  When pressed he comes with a verse from 7 Seconds’ “Colourblind.”

There’s nothing funny when you think about
All the hate in this world makes me just wanna shout
Whether Black, White, Brown, Red, Yellow, or Blue
All the caring in the world will depend on you
We gotta fight to change things; help rearrange things
Get along; stand together; live as one
But the only way to do it is to get right to it
Communicate, ?, and getting things done

Martin: “This is a weird night.”  Dave: “Here’s “Marginalized.”  The bass is off.  After a verse, Dave stops the song.  “The bass is really out of tune and the bass is vital.  I wouldn’t have stopped if it wasn’t really out of tune.”  Tim: “That’s the “Palomar” tuning form like two nights ago.”  Dave: “Sorry this shows gonna take 14 hours.  Have you heard about the merch?” (jazz chords).

Pick it up at the first chorus.  Dave stops it again.

Tim: “Hang on a sec, I think you might have just been playing the wrong notes.”
Dave: “Even a moron like me can play a G.”
Martin: “Cazostatics”
Dave: “I could fucking kick this bass with my foot and G would ring out.”
Tim: “That’s the approximate bass.”

Tim just picks up again and finished the song with “Little Caesar” by Vic Chesnutt.

Martin has a lot of fun with the goofy voice saying “Hi there.”  They play a great version of “The Tarleks” and then “Fan Letter To Michael Jackson.”   Near the end of the song Dave says, “let’s rock.”  Then pauses and says, “but first let’s reluctantly rock.”  Tim: “may we rock?”  Dave:  “Not yet.”  Martin: “Sorry.  May we sheepishly rock?”  Dave: “Martin is exhibiting a slight degree of frock on his very unrock guitar.  Tim’s digging in.  Ford has put away that nasty French horn and is coming to the dark side.  Now we must rock.”

At the end, Martin takes off with “RDA” but after he starts it gets shut down.  “Aww, wrangler Dave.”
Mike: “It’s only good when Dave calls out the chords.”
Martin: “Sorry dad, I didn’t mean to come out like that.”

Martin:  “I’m playing a double neck guitar.  The upper neck has 12 strings.  The lower four of which are in octaves although two appear to be missing.  The lower neck is a normal 6 string guitar.”  In a cheesy voice: “I love this axe.  It has rocked me through many a show.  Check this out.  The lower neck resonates in the upper neck.  That’s no gizmo.  That’s in the axe.  Have I blown your mind?”

Ford: “Your inner pedagogue has really reared its head for this last Fall Nationals.  You’ve been giving away all your shit.  Kiss wouldn’t even tell people how they kept their make up from running.”

Dave says he wants to make a parody instructional guitar DVD.  Ford: “Parody my nutsack.”  Would anybody buy that?  Tim says he would buy it if it was called “Parody My Nutsack: Dave Bidini on Rhythm Guitar.”

Ford says we’re demonstrating the chatter-to-music ratio.

This one’s called “Smokin’ Sweet Grass.”  They start “Making Progress” which Tim says is “for the guy who just shouted ‘fucking play.'”  It’s followed by a nice “Little Bird Little Bird.”

Ford tells a story about finding moth larvae on his suit pants.  Every time he pauses, Dave plays a rim shot.
Tim tells his own story (Dave still doing rim shots).  He says they  got a dog which the cats hate.  The vet gave him something you plug in the wall to release pheromones to make you cat feel good.  Like cat prozac.  Dave: “I snorted that backstage at the Duran Duran reunion.”  Tim: “He gave us a sample and we’re on it tonight.  So everything is okay.  Until the end of the world.”

“Here Comes The Image” features MPW on the synth.  Martin: “Mike forgot his mustache wax.  It’s followed by “Who Is This Man and Why Is He Laughing?” with Jennifer Foster (better known in some parts as JFo).  Tim: Dave Bidini on drums for two songs in a row.  Pretty awesome.”

“Pornography” starts slow, but the end picks up and rocks.  Martin says “Tim Vesely, the lizard king.”

Tim says this night is full of a crowd full of people who came from shitty office parties.  Dave: “Our office party was tonight, two clubs over.”

“In This Town” rocks and is followed by “PIN”  Dave says it’s from Night of the Shooting Stars, the black album.  At the end, Martin starts making goat noises (??).  Eat me, feeeeeeeed me.

Next comes “Four Little Songs.”  Martin sings his verse like a goat.  For our third little song, last night’s comedy guests The Imponderables.  Their bit is all about dreams.  Three guys tell their dreams.  The fourth guy comes out.  He’s certainly naked, possibly with an erection. Everyone reacts appropriately. Dave: “That’s The Imponderables and that’s John’s cock.”  In Dave;s verse he sings “your voice will ring out like a giant…schlong.”  He ends the song saying, “There’s certain things that make our Horseshoe stands that much more memorable.”

Ford plays a roller rink version of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”  After two minutes, Tim starts singing “Shangri-La” (by The Kinks) which segues into “Bad Time To Be Poor.”   Man someone’s guitar is way off playing sour notes through the whole thing.

Then the return to “RDA.”  It rocks and they have guests from Lowest of the Low Steve Stanley and Paul (can;t find his last name).  Mid song they launch into a heavy version of “I’m So Bored With The USA.”  Paul rails about middle management and wants cultural diversity he wants middle management to get out of public broadcasting.  Dave: “Will someone save Canada from itself?”

Ford sings The English Beat’s “Save It For Later.”  And then they end with a 20 minute medley

“Takin’ Care Of Business” (anybody bring a cowbell?), into “My Generation.”  Martin sings “One More Colour.”  It jumps to “P.R.O.D.” with Mr Ron Koop.  Over to G.  after a few bars, Ford says, “the suspense is killing me.”  So Dave plays “Bud The Spud.”  He kind of mumbles it very fast, “that’s the closest I’ve ever come to rapping.”  It turns into “Radios In Motion” and then into “Blitzkrieg Bop.”  Dave: Take it down to Bflat… never mind take it back to A.  Ford sings “Monkey Man” by Amy Winehouse.  It becomes “Green Sprouts.”  Dave: “You know what I hate in this song?”  The bridge?  Tim: “Take it to the bridge.”  The audience chanting 1,2,3,4.  Tim instructs them.

Thanks to the Lowest of the Low, Great Aunt Ida, The Imponderables and TruthHorse tomorrow.

[READ: August 8, 2017] Demon Vol. 2

I really enjoyed the far out and rather over the top premise of volume 1 of this series (of four in total).

Volume 2 is much larger than Volume 1 (about 50 pages larger).  And that extra size allows for more complexity.

And I admit I was a bit confused from time to time.  The whole premise of the story is a little confusing in a wrap-your-head-around-it kinda way, but he added a new element that was a major Wha?? moment.

So Jimmy Yee, is a boring 44-year-old actuary.  He didn’t realize that he was actually a demon until the day before when he tried to kill himself.  Now whenever his body dies, the demon jumps into the nearest body.  His personality transfers to the new body, and Shiga represents this by having Jimmy’s face on each new body (but if someone else looks at that person he still looks like what the now-possesed person’s face.

Jimmy has been experimenting with this whole Demon thing.  And that means inhabiting various body and killing them (which looks like suicide).  The police are after him for the series of murders he has committed (even though he himself is technically dead). (more…)

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This is one of my favorite Christmas discs.  There’s not a lot of traditional Christmas music on it, but the originals are all either spot-on Christmas songs or at least work nicely for this time of year.  The only song that doesn’t fit is Ben Folds’ which is funny and vulgar.  It is not safe for Christmas and should be skipped in a family setting and saved for the drunken debauchery part of the night.

PHANTOM PLANET-“Winter Wonderland” Back in 2010, Phantom Planet was a kind of buzzy, talked about band (you’ll have to look up why).  But this is a great version of the song, I especially love that it’s kind of rocky and slightly dissonant but still really pretty.

RON SEXSMITH-Maybe This Christmas.
It’s a shame that this series of records is named after this song, which is so forgettable.  I usually like Sexsmith’s stuff, but I can’t keep this song in my head at all.

COLDPLAY-“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
Unlike Phantom Planet which was all buzzy when this was recorded, Coldplay had yet to take off and had a small hit with “Yellow.”  It’s interesting to hear this spare version (just Chris Martin singing and playing piano) and how he modifies the words in small ways.

VANESSA CARLTON-“Greensleeves”  This is a lovely version of this song, even if Carlton’s voice is a bit affected (and its technically not a Christmas song in this lyrical version).

BRIGHT EYES-Blue Christmas
This is a nice version of this song, mellow and catchy.

SENSE FIELD-“Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” The more I listen to this song, the more I think it’s really weird.  “The yellow and red ones” (?).

JIMMY EAT WORLD-“12/23/95”
This is a very catchy Jimmy Eat World song (once again, before they got huge for a time).  It’s hard to realize its Christmas-related until late in the song when they mention the holiday.

I love this version of “Rudolph” so much because Johnson tacks on an ending where the other reindeer feel bad of making fun of Rudolph.  And Johnson’s vibe is just always so mellow and chill.

This recording is quite old–from 1996.  The artists work very well together and Sarah’s voice sounds great.

BEN FOLDS-“Bizarre Christmas Incident” [NSFC]
Ben played all of the parts himself on this song.  I love Ben and I love when he is funny and vulgar.  But this song which is very vulgar and mildly funny is so out of place on this disc.  You can’t play this for the kids, whereas everything else is totally fine. I might like it on a vulgar CD collection bu I dislike it a lot here.

DAN WILSON-“What a Year for a New Year”
Dan Wilson always writes pretty, catchy songs.  This is a lovely song that seems (possibly) even more appropriate in 2017 than it did in 2002 when he wrote it.

NEIL FINN-“Sweet Secret Peace”
This is a very pretty, delicate song with a wonderful chorus.  It’s not necessarily a Christmas song, but it works at this time of year.

McKennit’s voice is amazing, and this song is hauntingly beautiful.  It’s a stark and lovely ending to this disc.

[READ: December 14, 2017] “Lady with Invisible Dog”

Near the end of November, I found out about The Short Story Advent Calendar.  Which is what exactly?  Well…

The Short Story Advent Calendar returns, not a moment too soon, to spice up your holidays with another collection of 24 stories that readers open one by one on the mornings leading up to Christmas.  This year’s stories once again come from some of your favourite writers across the continent—plus a couple of new crushes you haven’t met yet. Most of the stories have never appeared in a book before. Some have never been published, period.

I already had plans for what to post about in December, but since this arrived I’ve decided to post about every story on each day.

This story was pretty bizarre and really wonderful.

There’s so much going on.  And much of it is pretty weird.  The story is set in 1995.  The narrator, Edwin, has had a run-in with a man called “The Narrator.”  And that has set all of the action of the story in motion. (more…)

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