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Archive for the ‘Luke Mogelson’ Category

2292015SOUNDTRACK: AMANDA SHIRES-Tiny Desk Concert #146 (August 3, 2011).

shiresAlthough the blurb suggests that I might know Amanda Shires, in fact I do not.

Shires has a powerful non-vibratoed voice and she plays several different instruments–what looks like a giant ukulele as  well as the fiddle.  She’s accompanied by Rod Picott on the guitar.  He really seems to flesh out her instruments very well.

As to her sound, she explains before the final song, “I do have one happy song, we’re just not going to do it.”

The most remarkable thing about the first song, “Swimmer…” is her excellent whistling of the main melody.  It is piercing and very catchy.  Actually the whole song is quite pretty

Before starting the second song she asks if they are in a fast mood or slow mood.  When the answer is fast, she immediately says they’ll play “Shake the Walls.”  I really liked how the opening notes were plucked and strummed on the violin.  The song is pretty simple and quiet until she plays a noisy violin solo in the middle which really livens things up.

Before the final song she asks if they’d like a song about suicide.  Someone whoops in assent and they laugh.  So she says they’ll play a song about trains. (“when you need a train, it never comes”).  I really like the chord progression in the chorus.

Despite the downer music, the duo clearly had a fin time.  Picott ends by saying “Its hard playing for smart people instead of our usual crowd.”

[READ: March 6, 2015] “Total Solar”

The protagonist of this is a journalist in Afghanistan.  He has been speaking with a researcher from the United Nations Ornithological Department, who keeps introducing conversations with “If you really want something to write about…”

But rather than taking notes, he is drawing pictures of himself committing suicide in various gruesome ways.  This relates to his writing a story about a contractor who’d been executed in a new way–using wire rather than a knife.

Yes the story is pretty brutal. (more…)

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nySOUNDTRACK: OMARA PORTUONDO-Tiny Desk Concert #50 (March 8, 2010).

omaraThe only thing I know about Omara Portuondo is what I’ve read in the NPR blurb about her.  She was part of the musical scene in Cuba in the 1950s–a scene full of innovators and pioneers.  And while she is certainly an elder statesperson, she still sounds great.

She sings two boleros: “Duerme Negrita” and “Dos Gardenias.”  She has a classic voice (in the vein of Ella Fitzgerald).  She really holds the final note of “Dos Gardenias” for quite a while.

The keyboards are dreamy. I know that the first song is about dreams (she seems to be cradling a baby as she sings) and the second is titled about a flower (although it doesn’t sound like she’s singing about a flower).  The songs are tender and sweet.

It really does feel like you are transported to another time.

[READ: May 7, 2015] “Peacetime”

I have never read anything by Mogelson before.  This story is an interesting one both for setting (which is unusual in itself) and for the characters.

The story is told by a guy known as Papadopoulos.  He is living in the armory on Lexington Avenue in New York City.  He was given the keys by First Sergeant Diaz.  (The story about Diaz’ limp and how he uses it to pick up women is quite funny).  He assumed it would be for a couple of weeks (his wife kicked him out), but as months have gone by, he is still there.  He sleeps in the medical supply closet.  This means that when he gets drunk at night he can hook himself up to an IV drip and never wake up hungover.

Papadopoulos was in the National Guard.  But since it is peacetime (more or less), he works as a paramedic for a hospital in Queens.  His partner, Karen, has just taken the civil service exam and is on her way to becoming a police officer.  This makes Papadopoulos nervous because he has a habit of taking a “souvenir” from every emergency visit that he goes on.  And she has been giving him the eye recently.

His souvenirs are never big or important things–a spoon or a refrigerator magnet or something like that–but he can’t stop himself. (more…)

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