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Archive for the ‘Hippos’ Category

[LISTENED TO: September 13, 2017] Believe Me

When I saw that Eddie Izzard had a book out I was pretty interested to read it.  I have loved his stand-up since 1997 or 1998 and I was lucky enough to see him on his Circle Tour (on the date they recorded it!).  I have been keeping up with his career and trying to see him in whatever he does (although I like my comedy more than drama and he has certainly made the shift towards drama in recent years).

I thought an autobiography or memoir by him would be pretty interesting (even if he claims to be boring).  But when I saw that he read the audiobook, I knew I had to give it a listen (even if it was 12 discs)!

Amusingly, there was a long delay at the library.  The lady at the counter (who is not the librarian–we librarians know the difference) said if I knew his voice, I could just read the book to myself in his voice.  It was an amusing thought, and I possibly could do that, ….yes, but Eddie’s voice is just so fantastic that it never would have worked properly.  Plus, he throws in easily an extra hours worth of footnotes and rambles that aren’t in the print book!  That’s right, an extra hour’s worth of nonsense if you do the audio.   True you don;t get to see the pictures, but it’s a fair trade-off.

Well the book finally came in and I had plenty of driving time to make short work of this 12 hours behemoth.  And I laughed and laughed.  And cried and cried.

Because while Eddie Izzard is an action transvestite (transgender, now) and one of the best stand-ups around, he is also an extremely warm and thoughtful person. He worked very hard to become the success he is.  And he has used his fame to do some absolutely wonderful things for humanity–including raising millions of dollars.  Not bad for an atheist who is sometimes in girl mode and sometimes in boy mode. (more…)

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hippo SOUNDTRACK: RAHIM ALHAJ-Tiny Desk Concert #487 (November 13, 2015).

Rahim AlHaj plays the oud, an ancient stringed instrument alhajcommonly played throughout the Middle East, North Africa and countries like Greece and Turkey.  He was born in Baghdad  and learned to play the oud at age 9.

AlHaj wrote protest songs opposing Saddam Hussein’s repressive regime. He was imprisoned twice–once for a year and a half–and was regularly beaten by his captors. In 1991, AlHaj was forced to leave Iraq because of his political activism, and ultimately found a home in New Mexico.

Despite all of this his songs are about hope and he seems like a generally positive guy.

The first song, “Dream” is a solo performance.  It is intended to serve as a voice for millions of displaced and murdered Iraqi children whose cries will never be heard.

For the next three songs he is joined by Palestinian-American percussionist Issa Malluf.

“Warm Voice” is for his students.  He says he was very mean to them, and this song is for them to have fun.  It is actually for oud and string quartet.  Malluf plays the daf, a large circular drum with a hardwood frame, and a stretched and shaved goat skin that produces a gently melodic tonality. It looks a like an Irish bodhran but it is played with the fingers (especially the finger tips) producing a rich melodic sound.

For the next two songs Malluf plays the dumbek a goblet-shaped drum with a tight head made of goatskin.  It looks like it is lit up and that’s because it is heated by a lamp that keeps the skin taut in order to produce a consistent tone.  This instrument has a much higher pitch tap and is quiet distinctive.

“Friendship” begins as fast romp but the middle slows down with some interesting, fast-picked melodies and some big two note bom bom stops.

“Flying Bird” is a faster song with some very intense riffing going on.  There are some cool moments when the scales ascend and descend and the drums add little fast, tight triplet notes.  And then the whole song stops and there is a kind of drum solo before the speedy notes resume again.

When the set ends, he comments, “Thank you very much and go to work now, please.”

[READ: September 1, 2016] Hippopotamister

First Second is known primarily for graphic novels, but they also do children’s picture books that are kind of in a graphic novel format.

I loved the title of this book.  The premise of this story is that the City Zoo is really run down. No one comes any more, and even the monkeys are lethargic.  Red Panda and Hippo live in the center of the zoo (which really does look quite gross–I assume the health inspectors would have stepped in before this happened).

Red Panda decides to take off.  And he comes back everyone once in awhile wearing a new hat and telling hippo that life outside the zoo is great and his new job is awesome!  Finally hippo says he wants out, too.  Panda tells him that if he wants to blend, he must become a hippopotamister.

And so. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 25, 2015] My Morning Jacket

2015-07-25 22.10.21I had made a list of bands that I really wanted to see.  My Morning Jacket was pretty near the top of it.  My friend Jay and I marveled over singer Jim James’ use of a cape (which sadly he did not wear at this show).  Of course, it wasn’t just the cape we wanted to see, it was the whole band.

So when they were announced to headline the XPNFest, I knew I had to get tickets (the fact that St. Vincent was co-headlining was a huge bonus).

While the crowd was good for St. Vincent, they were ecstatic for MMJ.  Everyone was on their feet the whole show.  And what a show.  The band played for 2 and a half hours, running through much of their new album as well as classics from their past few records.

I had heard that MMJ were a big time jam band, and indeed they were.  In fact, even though Neil Young did some amazing jamming and soloing during his recent set, this was the first real “jam band” show I’ve been to.  Where the band takes a song in different directions, wending through different moods and styles like the 20 minute “Deodato”–more on that later.

2015-07-25 23.27.05In fact, each song was extended by some impressive soloing.  Interestingly, Jim James took a number of solos that were just himself on stage.  And I felt like his solos weren’t really that impressive.  There was a bluesy one that was very cool and one or two others that were more textural than “impressive.”  It’s clear that lead guitarist Carl Broemel can solo amazingly, but he didn’t get any features, just wailing solos during the songs.

I was pretty excited that they started with “Off the Record” which had some pretty impressive jamming in the middle.  Jim James was wearing an awesome jacket with neon stripes all over it and a pair of sunglasses that he never removed.  It was 90 degrees out that day.  How did he stand it? (more…)

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