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Archive for the ‘Hamsters’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: TRENT REZNOR & ATTICUS ROSS-“John Carpenter’s Halloween” (2017).

A lot of the music I listen to is weird and probably creepy to other people, but I don’t necessarily think of songs as appropriate for Halloween or not.  So for this year’s Ghost Box stories, I consulted an “expert”: The Esquire list of Halloween songs you’ll play all year long.  The list has 45 songs–most of which I do not like.  So I picked 11 of them to post about.

I didn’t actually know this version of the Halloween theme song and I was pretty excited to be super creeped out.

It turns out that this version is decidedly less creepy than the original.  But then again, nothing can outdo the starkness of that original piano score.

This version takes a while to get going (about 45 seconds of buildup) before a little keyboard riff that sounds a lot like the “spooky” riff in The Brady Bunch in Hawaii episode pops up.  Then some original piano comes in along with building synths and what sounds like distorted voices growling in the background.  This lasts until almost 2 minutes.  And I have to say it’s creepier than the actual familiar melody.

When the plinking piano comes in, it’s a little muted and the synth chords are louder.  As the song progresses you can hear–whispered voices (?), distorted rumblings (?) a choir from hell (?).  It’s that background soundscape that is seriously creepy.

Around five minutes, the music drops out and there’s just echoing, clacking sounds and possibly breathing.  Yeah, that’s nicely spooky.

Then the main melody returns.  It builds and turns into a rock song–with a drumbeat and everything.  But it being a song is a lot less creepy than the original solo piano playing in the middle of a an abandoned asylum.

Don’t get me wrong, this has some serious creep appeal, but the original wins hands down.

[READ: October 24, 2019] “The Psychologist Who Wouldn’t Do Awful Things to Rats”

Just in time for Halloween, from the people who brought me The Short Story Advent Calendar and The Ghost Box. and Ghost Box II. comes Ghost Box III.

This is once again a nifty little box (with a magnetic opening and a ribbon) which contains 11 stories for Halloween.  It is lovingly described thusly:

Oh god, it’s right behind me, isn’t it? There’s no use trying to run from Ghost Box III, the terrifying conclusion to our series of limited-edition horror box sets edited and introduced by Patton Oswalt.

There is no explicit “order” to these books; however, I’m going to read in the order they were stacked.

Even Patton Oswalt agrees that many people might not finish (or even start) this story.  I had the misfortune of reading it during breakfast.

James Tiptree Jr. was the pseudonym for Alice Bradley Sheldon (her real name was not revealed until 1977! (she died in 1987).

As I was reading it, I had no idea this story was so old.  It seemed like a current take on animal rights and animal welfare.  Although I did think the conditions in the lab were worse than I believe they actually are now (but what do I know?) (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KEATON HENSON-Tiny Desk Concert #293 (August 3, 2013).

Keaton Henson is a quiet guitar player.  He plays delicately (although his amp is turned up pretty loud so we can hear everything clearly).  He sings quietly as well.

After the first song, he even speaks quietly and apologizes for bringing everyone down on a Friday afternoon.

The blurb jokes:

The day before Keaton Henson arrived to play the Tiny Desk, we hosted a group called The No BS! Brass Band, a nearly dozen-piece horn section with an almost brutal (and totally amazing) sound. It was one of the loudest and most thrilling, heart-pounding Tiny Desk sets we’ve ever had.

Keaton Henson’s performance could not have been more unlike the show the day before. When a cozy crowd of curious listeners showed up the next day to see him play, I asked everyone to get as close as they could, without freaking out the admittedly shy singer from London. Don’t let the presence of this fantastic recording (by our engineer Kevin Wait) fool you. Henson’s voice was so fragile and hushed, if you were 10 feet away you would have barely heard a peep from him.

Remarkably, Henson has only been playing music for a couple years; he took up the guitar to help heal his broken heart after a failed relationship. He’s also a poet and illustrator who’s released one graphic novel called Gloaming and is already at work on another. For this Tiny Desk performance, Henson performed three songs from his new album, Birthdays.

“You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are” opens with some pretty, vibratoed harmonics before the guitar strumming comes in properly.  “Sweetheart What Have You Done To Us” has a very cool section in which the chords shift up by a half step which changes the tone of the song quite a bit.  It’s interesting that he’s recorded so closely and loudly that you can hear everything–mildly errant strings or unexpected note playing (he uses his thumb as a pick).  You can also hear how carefully he is miked for this set because you can practically hear the water going down his throat as he drinks it.  “You” plays with a rising and falling melody as it rumbles under Keaton’s delicate voice.

[READ: June 20, 2016] Sidekicks

I recognized Santat’s style from the fun picture book Oh No!  Sarah brought home this book and I thought it looked really fun.  And it was.

The premise is by now familiar (although since he did it 5 years ago, this book might be more original than it seems).  And it does take the whole idea of superheroes at home in a rather new direction.

The book opens on Roscoe, a large dog, waiting for his master to get home.  His fellow pet, a hamster named Fluffy, is chowing down on snacks while they watch TV.  Roscoe gets mad at Fluffy since Harry will be home soon and they are just sitting around.  Then Harry appears on the TV, crashing to the ground.  For Harry is in fact Captain Amazing.  He ensures the TV viewers that everything is under control.

But then he sees that he has crashed into a Nuts cart.  And he freaks out because he is allergic to peanuts (a hilarious premise for a superhero weakness). (more…)

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