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Archive for the ‘Molly Knox Ostertag’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: JAMES ELKINGTON-“Black Moon” (from WILCOvered, UNCUT Magazine November 2019).

The November 2019 issue of UNCUT magazine had a cover story about Wilco.  It included a 17 track CD of bands covering Wilco (called WILcovered or WILCOvered).  I really enjoyed this collection and knew most of the artists on it already, so I’m going through the songs one at a time.

Elkington is the first person on this compilation I didn’t know.

He plays an absolutely gorgeous, complicated guitar melody to open the song.  I am mesmerized by how lovely it is.  It’s actually so much different from the original–which has a subdued guitar opening–that i didn’t recognize the song at first.

Elkington sings in a quiet, hushed voice through the verses which continue that beautiful guitar melody and add percussion.

When the chorus kicks in with organs and a great electric guitar slide it become catchy just like the original (possibly more so).  But as the chorus dissolves into the verse, the electric guitar soars throughout while the acoustic picked guitar resumes the beauty.

What a wonderful cover and what a fantastic guitar player.

[READ: February 15, 2020] The Hidden Witch

After finishing The Witch Boy, I was really happy to see that we also had the second book in this trilogy, The Hidden Witch.

This book picks up right where the last one left off, although this one includes a map of the area, so we can see how close Aster’s house is to the main town (and the school).

The book opens in with witchcraft class.  Aster is there with the girls (who are looking at him funny).  He is far behind but his Aunt Iris doesn’t seem too happy about the fact that he is in the class.

Aster’s grandmother agrees to teach him if he will help her.  Her special request is to try to save her brother Mikasi–the creature from the previous book who they have trapped.  She believes that because Aster also had an inkling for witchcraft that he could possibly speak to the Mikasi within the beast.

Then we switch to Sterling Junior High where Charlie is showing off that her leg is no longer broken.  But there’s  new girl in school now.  Her name is Ariel and she seems very dark–thick eyeliner, dark clothes, etc,

This is one more reason why I love this series so much.  Charlie walks up to Ariel and tries to talk to her.  Ariel says you don’t have to partner with me just cause you pity me or whatever.  And Charlie replies “I thought you looked cool.  I like your bracelets.” They immediately start chatting and Ariel admits that she is good at art.  She draws something and Charlie is very impressed.  And soon enough they are friends.  I loved that interaction and wish it was that easy in real life.  And maybe sometimes it is.

Later that night, Aster goes to Charlie’s house. Their friendship is out in the open–her dads like him and everything.  They talk about their day and have a family dinner (I love that Charlie has two dads, but it is not a plot point or an issue at all.  It just is).

Then we cut to Ariel’s house.  Ariel is in foster care (you can tell by how different she looks from the rest of the family).  Her “dad” is kind of jerk saying that if she can’t make it in this school, she may have to go back to the foster system (jeez).

Ariel complains that trouble finds her–none of the things that happened in the past were her fault.  But the whole time she is staring at the phone and getting angrier.

Charlie promised she would call that night but she hasn’t..  And by the time she is ready for bed, Ariel goes to her hideout and summons a Fetch which she sends to find Charlie and give her “a scare.”

The Fetch is basically a shadow that sneaks into Charlie’s room and burns her (or something) on the arm.  Charlie runs away and the creature follows.  She runs all the way to Aster’s house and when she crosses through the protection stones, the Fetch can’t follow.

Charlie finds Aster and with his grandmother’s help, he is able to heal her arm.  Then the grandmother looks through the eyestone and they an all see the Fetch.  The grandmother can’t determine who made the Fetch, but she does make a protection spell for Charlie.  As Charlie walks away, Aster agrees to help his grandmother wit her brother.

At school the net day, Ariel is making enemies and sends a Fetch to push the bullies around a bit.  She is also super frosty to Charlie.  That’s when Charlie realizes she forgot to call her and is very sorry.  When she says “You kind of hate me now,” Ariel is taken aback and promises not to hate her.

She asks why Charlie had a bad night.  Charlie says she dealt with whatever it was and Ariel says to herself that that’s never happened before.

The next day, Charlie and Ariel are studying together when Aster comes by to bring Charlie a bracelet of protection.  Ariel gets a little jealous of their friendship.  When Aster leaves, she says boys are mean.  Charlie says everyone can be mean sometimes.  Charlie says that even though she has friends, sometimes she thinks everyone got the message about how to act and she missed it.  That’s why she likes Ariel.

Ariel is offended “Because I don’t know how to act?”
Charlie replies, “Because you don’t think there’s a right way to act.  You’re just doing your thing.”

That night is Charlies basketball game.  Aster goes and on his way Sedge tags along.  Sedge admits he doesn’t want to shapeshift–he’s freaked out about it.  In fact, he thinks that normal school sounds pretty great.

At the game Aster sees that Fetch is helping Charlie in the game–fouling people and assisting with the ball. Charlie is devastated that she wasn’t as good as she thought she was.  But the more pressing concern is who was casting the Fetch.  That’s when she realizes it must be Ariel.

They confront Ariel and she says that Charlie is clearly a witch too–that’s why she wasn’t hurt by the Fetch.  But Aster says it was his family that helped Charlie.  And he wants to help Ariel as well–hes concerned for her because the Fetch could backfire on her.   Being angry all the time can really impact you–When people treat you like a monster you start to act like one.

Soon enough the Fetch attacks Ariel and she is rendered unconscious.

Aster and Charlie bring her to Aster’s house–the only place she can get help.

I loved the way the story was resolved and who it tied so nicely to the previous book.  I also enjoyed the way the story lines twisted together ta the end (no spoilers)

I’m looking forward to book three (which is out already)!

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SOUNDTRACK: JEN CLOHER-“Impossible Germany” (from WILCOvered, UNCUT Magazine November 2019).

The November 2019 issue of UNCUT magazine had a cover story about Wilco.  It included a 17 track CD of bands covering Wilco (called WILcovered or WILCOvered).  I really enjoyed this collection and knew most of the artists on it already, so I’m going through the songs one at a time.

Cloher takes on of my favorite Wilco songs and transforms it in a way that I quite like.  The song opens with some cool buzzing guitar sounds before the main melody resolves with some plinking guitars and keys.

When Cloher starts singing in her quiet, whispering voice, the song builds up a bit and grows really catchy (with cool sound effects swirling around).  The song is really mellow and catchy until the guitar solo in the middle which has a great echo on it as the song ramps up the speed.

I love that the song has picked up the pace and Cloher has vocally as well, although her delivery remains much the same–understated and cool.

It’s a great version.

[READ: February 15, 2020] The Witch Boy

My daughter has had this book for quite some time and she and S. both encouraged me to read it.  I didn’t put it off for any reason, it’s just that there were other things around first.

But boy did I love this story.

I love that it plays with gender roles but in the inverse of a lot of stories.  In this one the boy wants to do what the girls normally do.  And I liked that it’s not that the boys think what the girls do is too girly, it’s just that that is how it has always been done–boys do one thing and girls do another.  So it’s a nice twist on the gender role reversal story.  Plus the story is unyieldingly positive.

We open on a group of young girls learning witchcraft.  I love that they are speaking in runes and that (I assume) Osterberg made up all the symbols?  Or maybe they are classic witchcraft symbols?

Then we see that Aster is in the tree above them eavesdropping.  He is yelled at and told the girls are leaning secrets that he is not privy to.  His mother tries to calm him by saying the magic is not for him, but he insists that he wants to learn it.  But his role, like all the boys, is to learn to shapeshift (I’m glad they each have a cool skill, at least).  But he’s not interested in shapeshifting.  He wants to cast spells.

Then we learn why the gender roles are separated.  Aster’s grandmother had a twin, Mikasi.  Mikasi wanted to learn magic and he eavesdropped as well.  But the spells poisoned him and he lost control.  A darkness came over him, people were hurt and he was cast out. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 5 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 12, 2005).

This series of shows contains the final Rheostatics live shows that are left to write about–except for their “final shows” and their “reunion shows.  This was the 5th night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe. Ford Pier was on keyboards.

This show is just under 2 hours. The site notes: “The entire audio had a major sound issue part way through “The Land Is Wild” and into “Superdifficult.” I used a Mark Slogget Soundboard mixed track to bridge the glitch. Better than just cutting it out.”  I can’t even tell.

As the show opens, Martin says “Hi there.  Shhhh.”  And then plays a delicate “Digital Beach” which segues into a rather quiet “Earth/Monstrous Hummingbirds.”  After which Martin says, ” I see what you mean by curveball night, Dave.”

Dave says that this is the Winter Nationals, the Traditional Monday Night Free for All.  If we play any of these songs too well, you can always request a refund.  This set will definitely feature excessive keyboard solos (it doesn’t really).

After an almost expectedly sloppy “Soul Glue,” Dave talks of playing a song from 1987, “Woodstuck” that they recorded on their first trip to Vancouver.  I wonder whatever became of that recording.  Ford talks about Ceez English (sp?) who produced that record and then became a porn mogul.

Introducing “P.I.N.” Martin says he has three chords, literally and the truth and a standup drummer and the Thundergod Tim Vesely.

Introducing “I Dig Music,” Dave says, “Were’ gonna fuck this up real good.”  M.P.W. forgets the words to his part and then seems to make up some comical ones “Seymour Slime.”  When it’s over Dave says,”Okay we know that now, let’s do it again.” Mike notes: “the long list of ‘Oh yeah, right.'”  Dave then says that Martin will be starring in the biopic of Seymour Stein.”  Martin is upset:  “What?  What are you saying about me in front of my friends?”  “It’s the leather vest.” Much chatter about vests in general.

They move on to the most rocking version of “Sunshine at Night” that I’ve heard.  There’s some really loud ripping guitars.

Dave says, “Here’s a hockey song.  I vowed I would never write another hockey song, having written two books and a bunch of songs already.  I’m a hacker.  A hacker in everything I do.”  The keyboards sound great on “The Land is Wild,”  they add nice effects and accents.

Ford mentions that every night so far he has peed in the same urinal.  So tonight he peed in the one with the picture of Garth Brooks. “Didn’t care for it.”  Martin jokes: “It’s the tight tight tight jeans.  Garth is th e puking stall.”  Dave: “I saw on the TV that he got married to Trisha Yearwood.”  Mike: “Trisha Urinal?”  Martin: “She Pro-tools country, right?  Autotune country.  Robocountry.”

They play a quick and pretty “Superdifficult,” ironically (or not) with Martin’s robotic voice

Dave talks about the upcoming shows and promises that guest vocalist night will be the best one yet.  And I’m not just blowing smoke out my ass or up your ass.  Martin: “Do you have to be so vulgar?”  Dave: ” It’s refreshing swearing at someone other than my children.”

They play a lovely “Try To Praise This Mutilated World.”  I really love when they come out of the poem (you can really hear the poem on this recording).  Martin agrees that he loves that song.

They play a slow and rather shambolic version of “Record Body Count.”  At the end, Martin plays a groovy chord and Mike notes: “Sounds like he died in Reno.”  Martin agrees, although he says Rio.  “You can always count on that triangular A chord to make you sound jazzy.”

This leads to a really long “Desert Island Discs” with these picks:
Dave: Ramones-Rocket to Russia; Sly and the Fmaily Stone; Tom Waits-Heartattack and Vine.
Ford: Violet Archers-End of Part One; Martin Tielli-Operation Infinite Joy; (Mike: brown nosing) and the book on tape of Dave Bidini’s last book and Faceless Forces of Bigness DVD.  Hey, I know who is signing the paychecks.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Ron Koop: Miles Davis-In a silent way; that new album by Pete Eccles-Party of One’  (Tim: remember you’re on a desert island by yourself for all of eternity. ) Can I change my choice?  (Mike: no food, try and get albums that have food in them)  Led Zeppelin 2.
Tim: Bob Marley-Survival; Ry Cooder-Paradise & Lunch; Vic Chesnutt–Is the Actor Happy?
Audience member: Rush-Moving Pictures; Rheostatics-Harmelodia; Elliott Smith-XO
Mike: Deep Purple-Machine Head; Gentle Giant live record from 1978; Steve Reich-Music for a Large Ensemble (Tim: definitely sounds like a party of one).
Martin: I don’t listen to music.  Dave: “You’re more of a ring tone guy, right?”  Mike: “What’s your favorite movie that you own.”  Dave: “Hold on that’s different music.”  They play a ripping fast song.  Martin: “Local Hero, anything by John Cassavetes.  I like movies, not music.  Movies got it all.  Music, pictures, sound, light and (ha ha) great acting.
Dave ends the song properly with the E minor chord and Martin says “I remember when you discovered how menacing the E minor chord is.”  Dave: “That’s right, if my kids won’t eat, E minor.”

What’s on the platter next?

The French song?  Tim doesn’t want to do the French song.  Dave’s not going to remember the words to some song, he’ll do it tomorrow?

After “Power Ballad For Ozzy Osbourne” Dave says, “That’s Roger Lord on the keyboard.  I mean Jon Lord.”  Then Selina Martin comes out to sing “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds.”  It’s followed by “Self Serve Gas Station” which ends with Martin playing a really rocking version of the song and then the band filling in while he solos.

They start “When Winter Comes” which turns into a with all kinds of things: a quick run through “Song Of Flight” (with some really heavy guitars) and then onto what sounds like Martin trying to play the “Four Little Songs” ending and then finally getting it where they jam it out.  And then Dave begins the lyrics to the second section of “When Winter Comes” (in the blue Canadian winter).  Dave ends there and says thanks, but Martin and Mike play a rocking ending to the show before they take an encore break.

Dave comes out to play “Song Ain’t Any Good” on solo acoustic.    3:37  Someone shouts out for “Holy Macinaw, Joe”  Dave says that song is called “Horses” which makes people cheer, but he says, “this song’s not gonna come within 100 feet of that song.”  At the end of the songs, Dave says, Tim we missed your bad drumming.  Your good bad drumming you know what I mean.

Dave says “We have many Americans who come up to see us during Fall Nationals.  This is Rich and Greg from For Wayne, IN.  This is their big 5.”  They ask for a picture of the band and then one of them all giving him the finger.”  Mike notes that Taylor from Planet of the Apes And M*A*S*H’s Frank Burns are both from Fort Wayne, IN,. Rich and Greg sing “Take Me in Your Hand.”  They’re okay, one of them is a little flat.

Dave then says, we’re going to do one and a half songs. And remember tomorrow is totally free.  We’re playing with Kat Burns and Leeroy Stagger (and we’re gonna suck).  Mike: Leroy Stagger? Really?  He’s Caroline Mark’s hairdresser.”  They play “Song of the Garden” and end the whole show with the ending of “When Winter Comes” (the warm Victoria ending).

It’s a solid show and almost 2 hours long.

[READ: July 12, 2017] Shattered Warrior

I haven’t read anything by Sharon Shinn, but I did recognize her name (and Ostertag’s as well).

The story is set in a village (presumably on Earth).  Collen Cavanaugh’s home world was conquered by the Derechets, an alien race who are large and smart and have super strong technology.  They are using this planet’s resources for fuel and weapons.  And they take no guff from anyone–stepping out of line gets you work detail that will likely kill you.

Coleen’s family was very rich (they have a large house called Avon), but that couldn’t save them from being killed in the war (this is really dark story).  So Colleen is by herself in a remote house.  However, she must travel to the city every day to work (she has very little left).

One of the Derechet is nice to Colleen but the main boss Corvo is really nasty.

This was a pretty enjoyable story, but I had a few complaints about it.  The first one I’ll start with right away. (more…)

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