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Archive for the ‘Les McClaine’ Category

stilllife SOUNDTRACK: LOREENA McKENNITT-A Winter Garden (1995).

mckenneitLoreena McKennitt has a beautiful voice.  This EP is a beautiful holiday selection (not really Christmas exactly, so that’s fine).  There’s five songs, one of them is from one of her albums as well.

“Coventry Carol” has an excellent full sound–McKennitt’s beautiful voice fits this olde song quite nicely.  “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” opens with Indian sounding drums and a cool fretless bass.  When the fiddles come in it retains a vaguely middle Eastern sound.  It’s a bit long, but very cool.

“Good King Wenceslas” has flutes and cello and nice percussion.  It’s a lovely version.  “Snow” opens with a pretty flute (that has since been co-opted by Titanic).  It’s a pleasant song if bordering on a wee bit too much.  “Seeds of Love” is a pretty song, but it doesn’t feel very seasonal to me.

Overall this is a nice winter record.  It’s not so much Christmasey as pagan.  It’s very pretty and the traditional instruments sound great.  The fact that it’s only 22 minutes is also nice.

[READ: December 19, 2014] Tune: Still Life

So I didn’t spoil the first book, but I can now safely reveal that Andy Go has signed up to be a human living in an alien zoo. He gets $250,000 for his year of service and he gets to go home for the weekends.  Not bad.  He is bummed that he didn’t get to tell Yumi that he loved her, but he can always go tell her this weekend, right?

In the meantime, he gets to enjoy that everything has been perfectly re-created to his specifications.  In fact, the aliens downloaded his memory and replicated everything exactly as he remembered it–his favorite foods, his favorite TV shows, even the magazines under his bed (wow).  Now he just has to learn to pee in front of gawkers and it will be the best job ever.

It even turns out that his bosses are nice.  Well, the one boss is.  She is young (and, yes, sexy even is she has no facial features) and pleasant to him.  She is also amazed by his art.  Sadly, her father is a mean ballbuster.  He hates his art.  In fact, he hates all art.  Their version of reality has done away with art and has ensured that no one has any creativity of any kind.  They even have news feeds piped into their heads 24 hours a day (or however long their day lasts).

Andy also learns that he has a neighbor–Mo.  He and Mo communicate through the air vents.  Mo is an amusing, teasing guy who gives Andy a hard time.  He also tells Andy two things that change Andy’s perception of his job.  The first is that they will send him a female eventually and the second is that the contract he signed stipulates that he will be in the zoo for life, not for a year.  Thud. (more…)

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how you dieSOUNDTRACK: DIARRHEA PLANET-“Lite Dream” Live on KEXP (2014).

dpHow to pass up a band with a name like this?  Well, it’s pretty easy, actually.  Who would even want to say their name?

The name conjures images, no, let’s not go there.  The name conjures music that is just abrasive and rude–ten second punks songs.  But in reality, their music is pretty traditional old school heavy metal.  They have 4 lead guitarists after all! (There’s 6 guys in the band altogether, surprisingly, there’s no women).   One of the lead guitarists even plays with his teeth (for a few seconds).

This song is about heavy metal, although I’m not sure what about it.  There’s some big riffs, solos galore.  There’s even a classic 80s style dual lead guitar solo.  There’s big loud drums.  There’s feedback.  It’s everything you think of as heavy metal, with a seeming wink and nod thrown in.

This is basically a goofy feel good band, playing fast heavy metal.  Shame about the band name, though, really.

Watch it all here.

[READ: spring and summer 2014] This is How You Die

It is quite disconcerting to open a Christmas present from your wife and have the first thing you see be the words “This is How You Die.”  To then look at her confusedly and try to interpret the look of excited delight on her face as she wonders why you’re not excited.  Then she explains that it is a sequel to the interesting collection Machine of Death that you both had read several years ago (but which I evidently never posted about).  Sighs of relief and then Christmas can proceed with more merriment.

So over the course of the new year I read these stories and I enjoyed most of them quite a lot.

The premise of the book is that there is a Machine of Death.  This machine states how you will die, but it does not give you a time, place or real definition of what it means by hope you will die.  Statements seem obvious but may in fact be different in some twisted way.  As it says on the back of the book, OLD AGE could mean either dying of natural causes or being shot by an elderly bedridden man in a botched home invasion.  The book revels in the irony that you can know how it’s going to happen , but you’ll still be surprised when it does.

The way the machine works is that you insert your finger, it takes a blood sample and gives you a card with the way you die printed on it.  No matter how many times you do it you will get the same result.  These are the guidelines, and each author made a story with just that set up.

Pretty cool right?  The first collection was really great.  And so is this collection, done by writers and cartoonists that I had never heard of before.  There are 34 stories and 12 comic strips (it’s a hefty collection).  Because each story is basically about how a person dies, I had to think about how best to review the book–without giving away any twists.  So I think the title and a very brief plot will have to suffice.

There’s even a funny promo video for the book (at the end of the post). (more…)

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