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Archive for the ‘Flannery O’Connor’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: KISHI BASHI-“All I Want for Christmas is You” (2019).

The 2018 JNR Holiday Party, Vol. 2 compilation also featured a Christmas song by Kishi Bashi.

It begins with him muttering.  “It’s Christmas.  It’s never Christmas when you’re recording Christmas songs.”

What follows is the remarkably conventional song I’ve heard Kishi Bashi record.  Aside form the obviously hugely conventional nature of one of Christmas’ biggest songs, the style of his singing along with the backing vocals and the general feel makes me surprised this version isn’t played more.

Thor Harris who appeared on yesterday’s bizarre Christmas song, makes an appearance here (although I don’t know what he does).  The gorgeous backing vocals come from OHMME (just like yesterday as well).

K. sings this in his lower register–giving him a very croony sounds (one that is rather unlike his normal singing voice).  The only real nod to it being Kishi Bashi is a the cool violin solo (so much better than a sax solo!).

I would listen to this version over any other, hands down.

[READ: December 17, 2019] “The Science Fair Protest”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fourth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

The Short Story Advent Calendar is back! And to celebrate its fifth anniversary, we’ve decided to make the festivities even more festive, with five different coloured editions to help you ring in the holiday season.

No matter which colour you choose, the insides are the same: it’s another collection of expertly curated, individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America and beyond.

(This is a collection of literary, non-religious short stories for adults. For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.)

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

I’m pairing music this year with some Christmas songs that I have come across this year.

This was another confusing story that seemed like it might have been based on something … except the whole premise is crazy.

Even the beginning is hard to parse: “When the new gangsters got elected and took control, atoms could no longer be said to be the smallest form of matter.”  What?

This begat the Science Fair Protest, an ongoing violent disruption.  The narrator says he is no science teacher, but his neighbor, Ram, was an eighth grade biology teacher.  Ram said that the gangsters insisted that instead of him having lab hours once a week, he was to take the students to a field to play a game called Stick & Ball.  You have a stick and, not a ball, but a big rock.  You throw the rock in the air and hit it with the stick as hard as you can. (more…)

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2016-12-05-21-06-09SOUNDTRACK: COWBOY JUNKIES-Tiny Desk Concert #211 (April 26, 2012).

I’d published these posts without Soundtracks while I was reading the calendars.  But I decided to add Tiny Desk Concerts to them when I realized that I’d love to post about all of the remaining 100 or shows and this was a good way to knock out 25 of them.

cowboyAfter all of these years there’s not much to say about Cowboy Junkies that hasn’t been said.  They sound a certain way and only ever sound that way.  Their songs are slow, “mournful and thoughtful,” relatively long (because they are so slow) and Margo Timmins has a beautiful voice which hasn’t changed in 25 yeas.

There are no surprises in this set.  (Well, except for the fact that in the two years from 2010 to 2012, the band released four albums).

This concert features Michael and Peter Timmins on guitar and mandolin accompanying their sister Margo.

They play three songs, two new ones “Angels In The Wilderness” and “Fairytale” and an oldie “Misguided Angel.”  “Angel” is the only song I knew already and it seems so much louder tan the other two because there’s a surprisingly loud harmonica to open the track.

I think that Timmins’ voice is lovely and I like a few of their songs, but I simply can’t listen to more than a song at a time—it’s just too depressing.

[READ: December 7, 2016] “Deep Wells, USA”

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 (a few days late for advent, but that was my fault for ordering so late) I’ve decided to post about every story on each day.

I have had a mixed reader relationship with Chris Bachelder.  I either find his stuff pretty funny or just weird and kind of pointless.

This is a weird one.

The premise of this story is about babies in well and the kind of media sensation they can create.

It is set up in XXI sections (and an epilogue) in which we get to hear input from dozens of people involved directly or not with this issue. But the crux here is that no one is even sure if there is a baby in a well–they just all sort of hope there is.

It is set up like a play, sort of, with “characters” speaking dialogue.  It begins with a Celebrity saying there is an unconfirmed report of a baby in a well.  Consumer: “Hot damn. I love well babies.”  And off we go.

Professors, students, experts, pollsters, historians, and even Flannery O’Connor all weigh in.

Eyewitnesses are deemed unreliable: “That’s not a baby in a well.  That’s a wino in a sandbox.

And then of course there is the Mayor, who tries to calm everyone during this excitement.

But the main voices seem to come Celebrity–asking if this story harms the sheriff or proposing that certain people who have come forth are the baby’s parents.  Celebrity lists all of the previous well-babies and what has happened to them since (it’s not promising).

Even the news of a murder (of adults only) is dismissed for this potential well-baby story.

So do we ever find out if there was a baby in the well?  Sort of.

As this story ends we see the sheriff and his wife heading home, remembering back to Baby Finkerton.

I didn’t realize that I had read this before (in McSweeney’s 14, back in 2013).  I didn’t remember it, obviously.  But this story is not really something that would stick with me.

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hiltonSOUNDTRACK: BECK/RECORD CLUB-SKIP SPENCE: Oar (2010).

skipOf the four Record Club discs, this is the only one I don’t own.  Although I do have a different covers collection called More Oar (which Beck also appears on). I may have never heard any of the original songs on this disc, so I can’t even compare them.

For those who don’t know (as I didn’t), Skip Spence was one of the founders of Moby Grape, a band who was vaguely successful in the late 60s and then sort of fell apart (especially when Spence tried to kill his bandmates and was put in an asylum for a year).

Beck doesn’t have anything special to say about why they picked this album.  But he must have been very excited that Wilco and Feist were around to play on it.  He says

This one took place last June when Wilco was in town for the release of their new eponymous album. They came by after a long day filming a TV appearance and still managed to put down 8 songs with us. Jamie Lidell was in the studio with me working on his new record. Leslie Feist happened to be in town editing her documentary and heard we were all getting together. Recording took place at Sunset Sound Studios in the room where the Stones did a lot of Exile On Main Street (and looking at the records on the walls it appeared that the Doobie Brothers recorded most of their output there too). Sitting in on drums, we had James Gadson, who’s played on most of the Bill Withers records and on songs like ‘Express Yourself’ and ‘I Will Survive.’ Jeff Tweedy’s son Spencer played played additional drums. Also, Brian Lebarton, from the last two Record Club sessions is back.

And if you don’t know what Record Club is, see the summary on yesterday’s post.

Wilco plays on 8 tracks (of 12) and they sound great.  Indeed, overall this is the most “professional” sounding recording.  Which is not to say that they don’t have fun. It sure sounds like they do.

Little Hands (2:59).  This has a traditional folk band sound.  It’s a great recording.
Cripple Creek (4:14).  This is not THAT “Cripple Creek,” by the way.  “Jamie takes the lead and Gadson gets behind the kit, while Beck and Brian back them.”  There’s a funky drum breakdown in the middle.
Diana (3:48).  Another good sounding song.
Margaret/Tiger Rug (2:27). This song is a little boppy and slightly silly sounding, but not really that silly.
Weighted Down (The Prison Song) (4:58) “Feist takes the lead this week with Nels Cline arpeggiating some ridiculous 64th notes on a toy guitar.”  Feist adds some beautiful vocals to this song.
War In Peace (5:04).  This begins a little slow and shambolic but it soon builds into a full band that gets even crazier when they start playing “Sunshine of Your Love.”  It was fun to hear them let loose.
Broken Heart (3:39).  This sounds like a traditional song.  A little drunken and fun–a nice duet with Feist.
All Come To Meet Her (2:02).  This is a simply beautiful harmonized a capella rendition.
Books Of Moses (7:21) “Gadson lays down the heaviest RC beat ever, while Jamie loops his voice into a voice army and Brian plays some kind of octagon shaped synth.”  This had a kind of Primus-y weird synth opening.  But as Jamie loops his voice over and over it sounds really good, although it is too long.
Dixie Peach Promenade (Yin For Yang) (3:56).  This is a synthy bouncy song.  It’s a little silly, especially with th Ace of Base coda at the end.  But it sounds good.
Lawrence of Euphoria (5:17).  The lyrics of this song are very silly. This version has a fake cowbell and  funky bass but is otherwise just electronic drums and vocals.
Grey/Afro (7:35).  This has echoed vocals and noisy bass.  It’s hard to figure out what’s going on here, especially at the chaotic ending. But it’s nice to hear them all let loose a bit.

As I said, I don’t know how this compares to the original, but I really enjoyed it.

[READ: March 23, 2014] White Girls

This book was madly hyped and I was pretty excited to read it (even though to be honest I didn’t know if it was fiction or non-fiction–and wasn’t even entirely sure as much as half way through the first piece).  I knew Als’ name from the New Yorker, although I wasn’t really conscious of having read anything by him.  It turns out I read one of these essays in McSweeney’s 35 about four years ago.  The fact that I didn’t remember reading that essay does not speak all that well about it.  But overall I enjoyed most of the essays in the book quite a lot; however, the two longest ones I found, well, way too long.  And I honestly don’t understand the title.

Overall the book is a collection of essays (often told from an interesting perspective, like from the dead person’s first point of view).  The problem with pretty much every essay in the book at least for me was that Als presupposes a base knowledge of these people.  Without that, the essays can be frustratingly vague and unclear.  But again, these people are all famous enough that it seems likely that one would have that base knowledge (even if I don’t).  I do wish there was a small bio or even a photo with these essays (as there was with the Truman Capote one) as I feel that grounded me nicely.

I was a lot more confused by his essays that were more personal.  I didn’t really understand the context for what he was talking about, since i know very little about him.  And as you’ll see from the first essay, he covered a lot in a very un-straight way. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: June 7, 2013] Hard Magichardmagic

My sister-in-law Karen raved about this book and then gave it to me for Christmas.  And holy cow.  I.  LOVED.  IT.

And before I even get into the story I have to say that a major reason why I loved it is because of the reader–Bronson Pinchot.  Yes, Balki from Perfect Strangers.  Yes, that goofy “foreigner” from the show has an utterly mesmerizing speaking voice.  It is amazingly deep–when he first started speaking the menacing drawl of Jake Sullivan, I was blown away.  And then he pulled out a couple dozen more characters, women and men–German, Japanese, Okies, military men, New Yorkers.  He brought this story to absolutely real life.

I have made a point of looking for anything else that he reads (although I see that he mostly reads books about war (which is not my thing))–but I see a Flannery O’Connor in there and–YES–he reads book two of the Grimnoir series (called Spellbound) and it’s already out!

Okay enough about Pinchot.  No, not enough.  He was stellar!

Okay, now enough.  What’s the story about?  Well, the best thing is that the story itself is also amazing.  It is set in the 1930s, in an alternate reality Untied States.  And in this reality, random people have been gifted with magic.  And there’s all kinds of magic–fades (people who can walk through walls); torches (people who can make and stop fires), mouths (people who can put thoughts in your head); brutes (people who are crazy strong and who can actually bend gravity to their will) and movers (people who can jump from place to place).  There’s also healers and cursers and cogs–really smart people–and other with more mysterious powers.

Each chapter opens with a quote from a real (in our world) person talking about how the magic or the people with magic–the Actives–impacted society.  So Einstein was a cog, and military leaders used brutes to fight in wars, etc. (more…)

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