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Archive for the ‘Babies’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: A DIFFERENT KIND OF CHRISTMAS (1994).

This is one of the first alternative Christmas albums I bought.  I don’t listen to it that much because I tend to think it’s not that good (the cover is pretty uninspired).  But there’s actually quite a lot of good stuff on this.

SYD STRAW-“The Christmas Twist”
I’m happy to report that the “twist” is not some dark storyline, but an actual dance of The Twist.  Syd has written a Twist and it’s fun and dancey with plenty of Christmas lines to sing along to.  It’s a great opening track.

SHONEN KNIFE-“Space Christmas”
Shonen Knife does what they do best–short fast punky pop songs.  This one about a space Christmas, of course.

NRBQ-“A Christmas Wish”
I know this from the She & Him version.  I didn’t realize I had the original.  It’s sweet and cute with a really catchy and lovely melody in the “people all over the world” line.

BRUCE COCKBURN-“Mary Had A Baby”
This is one of those call and response songs that is very repetitive and goes on for too long.  If it was shorter it would be fun.

The dB’s-“Home For The Holidays”
This is kind of a stomping country song. It’s got a cool stomp stomp in the middle.  At under 3 minutes it’s just right.

SHELLYAN ORPHAN-“Ice” [NSFC]
I love the vocals and the song is quite pretty.  But this song is a downer (I don’t like Christmas anymore) and at over 5 minutes is not really good Christmas party music.

FISHBONE-“It’s A Wonderful Life”
Man I love this song.  It’s a super fun and dancey ska song that cites It’s a Wonderful Life and is just full of fun and pep.

POI DOG PONDERING-“Mele Kalikimaka”
It’s funny to hear this Hawaiian song done in this New Orleans brass style.  It’s a fun song regardless of who is doing it.

T-BONE BURNETT-“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”
This opens as a pretty instrumental version of this song on acoustic guitar and violin.  Lovely.  The vocals are fine, but I’d have preferred it with no words–the instrumentation was really striking,

TIMBUK 3-“All I Want For Christmas” [NSFC]
I really disliked Timbuk 3 back in the 1980s.  But I find their strange deliver to be reminiscent of X and I’m quite attracted to their style.  I like this song a lot. Although I can’t endorse a Christmas song about WWIII.  And I suppose lyrically, it’s a bit naive.  But the music is fantastic.

DAVE EDMUNDS-“Run, Rudolph Run”
I don;t know that anyone can get me to enjoy this song. Certainly not this vert standard version of it.

SHAWN COLVIN-“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
Shawn has a lovely voice and this song is delightful.  It’s a simple piano version with some gentle accompaniment.  Interestingly, this does not appear on her own Christmas album (see the 24th), probably because it might be too upbeat–she does get a bit carried away, vocally, by the end.

So there’s nothing stellar on this disc (except Fishbone), but it’s a solid collection of alternative versions of songs and a few solid originals.

[READ: October 19, 2017] Pashmina

I wanted to love this book so much.  It has so many awesome elements.  The black and white to color juxtapositions are wonderful.  The colors are gorgeous and Chanani’s drawing style is simple but charming and effective.

And I think wanting to like this book as much as I did is why I wound up not enjoying it as much as I wanted.

And that’s because it feel like there’s a lot left out of the book–I wanted it to be twice as long.

This story is about Priyanka, a young Indian-American girl.  She is raised by her mother (and knows literally nothing about her father–her mother won’t say a word about him). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 8 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 15, 2005).

This was the 8th night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.  Guest Vocalist Night.  Ford Pier on keyboards.

This guest vocalist night is a bit smaller than previous ones.  There aren’t twenty-six singers.  There’s only fourteen in total and a bunch of them sing two songs.  The show also runs just over 2 hours with the band singing some of their own songs at the end.   It’s like a tight, efficient guest night rather than a sprawling one.

Ford calls it “karaoke night.”  Dave nixes that, “Lets not call it that.  You have to be far more hammered to do that.”  Ford: “This is more like Star Search.  Mike sets forth the terms: “henceforth, we will be effectively mute except in support roles.”

As usual, they open with an instrumental “Four Little Songs.”  It’s always really interesting to hear this multi-part song with just the music.

“Produce the first victim!”

Here’s Selina Martin singing “Soul Glue” which segues into a very pretty “California Dreamline” (also by Selina).

Next up are Nick and Graham from Belleville.  Dave asks, “How’s Belleville?”  “No snow there.”  “It’s the Winter Nationals Pro-Am” as they sing “Fat” and do a terrific job.

Jennifer Foster comes out to sing “The Woods Are Full Of Cuckoos.”  Tim says, “Jen’s trying to play ‘stump the band.'”  Ford jokes, “Maybe you’ll wind up playing keyboard next year.”  Dave: “Coz we’re firing Ford’s ass.”  It is such a shame the mic gets staticky and cuts out because she does a good job with this hard song.  She notes, “its cutting in and out.”  Tim:”So were our brains.”

Then there’s a double shot of Don Kerr.  He says he’s going to do a double shot from his favorite album.  A terrific “Introducing Happiness” is followed by a change of selection.  He says he changed it just today.  They do “Fan Letter To Michael Philip.”  Don says it’s a real fan letter.  Dave: Don Kerr will personalize  a song to you for a small fee.”

Some of the lyrics:

I have all your records/
I have even helped you make a few
Among my favorite producers would be
Tchad Blake and you

I  would like a fan club letter/
but one of your Juno awards would suit me better

When i joined the Rheostastics / I was met by a lot of Dave Clark fanatics
I know they did the same thing to you / but just like me you made it through

During the end there are backing vocal chants of “Wojewoda.”  He must have been pretty overwhelmed.

Patrick Finch comes on to sing “Junction Foil Ball.”  Dave asks him, “And how’s that go exactly?”  Patrick: “It’s nice.”  And they do a great version.

I am amused to hear that someone is shouting requests.

Sarah Harmer comes out two songs.  A sweet “Loving Arms” (I love that Tim adds the spoken “Jeez, I don’t know” line, which is part of the song but it sounds amusing and sweet.  Mike: “That somehow just sounded right.”  It’s followed by a wonderful “Claire.”

Paul McLeod comes out and Ford says, “This guys isn’t as good-looking at the last one.”  Dave, “I don’t know, have you ever seen him in bicycle shorts?”  He does an excellent version of “Jesus Was Once A Teenager Too.”

Sean Cullen comes out for two songs.  “Power Ballad For Ozzy Osbourne” has a terrific voice for this rather silly song.  At the end, he scream/sings “he’s going off the rails.”   Then Cullen does a lengthy improvised Christmas Song.  It’s very funny and a twisted retelling of the Jesus story.  Some amusing lines:

Joseph was good with his hands and good with the ladies.
There was going to be a huge new tax. What an asshole Caesar was.
100s of men with their young pregnant wives clogging the roads.
They put him in a manger, which was weird, because cows were trying to eat.
The horse said to the turkey, you look ridiculous, look at you.  Sit down and shut up (the horse was a real asshole).
The turkey said I’m going to fight for Jesus.
The temple guard laughed because it was a turkey.  The guards fought and killed him, filled him with seasoned bread and threw him on the fire.
The angel came down and said you bastards.
The guards said, lets eat it and take a bit of him home with us.
We dream of that first Christmas where a turkey gave his life.  And the horse was an asshole.
It’s the Christmas turkey on Christmas day.  Thank you turkey for fighting for Jesus.
Dave: “I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.”
Mike: “What album was that off of?”

Robin Lowe comes out to sing “Sweet Rich Beautiful and Mine.”  Robin has been selling stuff for us this week.  Public congratulations, Robin got married to Steve Clarkson, our sound man, this week.  Robin sings a duet with Martin.  Dave: “Well, isn’t that sort of cheating, Robin?”  Robin hits some amazing high notes.  They sound great together.  This version gives me chills.

“Take Me In Your Hand” is sung by Howard Druckman and Beverly Kreller.  Howard is one of our oldest and dearest friends.  Dave: “I’ve been demoted to bass.”  They’re giving the rest of the band a break.”  The song ends with penny whistle and bongos.

Yawd Sylvester comes out to sing Tim’s song “Row.”  Tim Vesely, Yawd’s rhythm guitarist.  Yawd went on tour with Violet Archers and Tim promised it would  be Rheos-free.  But after the encore, Yawd would go out for a smoke and Tim would do “Row” as an encore.  It’s a bit too slow and the world is incredibly rude throughout the quietness.

Ida Nilsen comes out to sing Marginalized.  It’s a little too un-intense.   Tim Sings the Vic Chesnutt song “Little Caesar” at the end.”

Paul Linklater from Justice, Manitoba, the Scribbled Out Man, comes out to sing “Horses.”  He’s great for the song. At some point Paul starts chanting “Put away wet” for some reason.  Dave says guys, throw it into G for a second.  Dave starts playing a simple riff which Ford turns into “Hang on Sloopy.”  Which he sings: “I don’t know the words to hang on sloopy / that’s okay it’s not a Rheostatics song / so we shouldn’t do it / It’s all wrong.
“Back to B minor.  Now its a Tragically Hip song.”   Paul is really intense at the end.

Someone shouts, “Soul Glue.”  Dave replied, “we did it the first song!”

Justin Rutledge utterly rips through “Feed Yourself.”  It is just rocking and intense.

Ron Koop comes up and Dave says, “Mennonites are the most ticklish people.  Ron, you’re so ticklish.  I don’t mean to generalize, but generally…”

Oddly, someone keeps shouting “Hey, it’s Christmas, play The River, please.  C’mon Gordy, save us.  The River!”  Mike mutters: “shut up.”

Ron sings a lovely “Making Progress.”  And at the end she says, “How about the best band in Canada.”  Dave: “Are the Constantines here?”

They come back for an encore and say “we’ll do a couple where we sing just to mix things up and get ready for tomorrow.”

Dave also asks, “Shauna, can we get some new flowers.  Are replacement flowers in the budget?  They’re starting to bum me out.”  Martin: “Strangely just yours are dying, Dave.”

“PIN it up, Marty.”   In the middle Dave sings “I want some flowers.”  Tim notes: Thanks to Great Aunt Ida for opening tonight.  They were awesome.”

In the audience, that ass is still screaming for The River.  So Ford sings.

When I speak the words I repeat
Are lost within this roaring

I know the one by No Means No, it takes about 9 minutes to play, but it can be done.

They end the nearly two and a half hour show with “Stolen Car.”  Tim starts by playing “Jingle Bells” on the bass really quietly.  But then the song rocks out to the end.

A final note from Darrin, who posts all of these shows:

10 Years later I randomly met Robin Lowe on Sept 4th, sold Jennifer Foster my spare ticket for the Saturday night AGO show on Sept 5 2015, and Selina sang with the band on Sept 6 at the Monarch Tavern after AGO Party.

[READ: July 27, 2017] “Making Scents”

My nine-year-old daughter Tabby liked this book.  And I know that because as I was complaining about the massive problems I had with it, she said she liked it.  So, I guess its good for nine-year-olds.

But I like a lot of books that are good for nine-year-olds.  And I did not like this one.

The premise is a weird one to start: Mickey’s parents raise bloodhounds.  As such, they teach him to be a great sniffer as well.  Cute, right?

The story begins with Mickey writing his life story: “First I was born.”  Next half of the sentence… “then I was put in a tree.”

What?  So he is an abandoned baby and someone thought it would be smart to put him in a tree in the woods?

The next scene puzzled me even more. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 4 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 11, 2005).

This series contains the final Rheostatics live shows that are left to write about.  This was the 4th night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe–(All ages Sunday afternoon set). Ford Pier was on keyboards.  And once again Dave’s daughter Cece sings a song.

Recording starts at the end of Home Again – not sure what was played prior.  Given the length and set list they probably didn’t play much before “Home Again” but we only hear the end of it anyway.

All ages shows are typically shorter. But with having no beginning, this one is really short at just over an hour and a quarter.

“It’s Easy To Be With You” starts with an unexpected bluesy riff underneath the song before it starts properly.  It’s followed by a nice “Loving Arms.”

Then you hear Cece ask, “Dad, is it my turn, yet?” “No.”  “Awwwwww.  How many more song?”  “4 more.”

“Aliens (Christmas 1988)” (not kid friendly, actually).  But mid-song Dave starts playing the “When Winter Comes” during the quiet part, but they never leave the song.

Then Dave says, “We have to do this next one because we’re playing it at guest vocalist night.”  “Many words.”  Martin: “Good luck, Timmy.”  Mike counts out 7 but nobody follows through.  Tim: “So far, not so good.”  They make it through “The Woods Are Full Of Cuckoos” and Tim says, “I can’t believe all those words are in my head.  It’s a weird feeling.”  Dave: “Yea, you said you wouldn’t remember the second verse and you did.”  Martin: “Here’s a request for “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”  “Shhhhhhh”  Tim: “Speaking of many words in your head.”  Dave: “And that request will go unfulfilled.”  Mike: “If anyone is going to make that request they have to make cue cards.”  Dave says, “We did it well at The Boot.”  Mike: “I had a fever, I can’t remember.  101 a rock n roll fever.  Dave: “I think the rock n’ roll fever is 102.  I’m just quoting Foreigner.”  Mike: “It’s 103 with Foreigner.  Check it and see / got a fever of 102?  I don’t think so, Dave.”  “103 that’s like malaria.”

We’re going to do a new song of Tim’s that we have been learning in advance of a record that we hope will some day get made.  After we rest on our laurels for the next 8 months.  Whatever laurels are.  Tim: “they’re like chaise lounges?”  Martin: “Or are they like haunches?”

Tim starts “Sunshine At Night” then stops.  “Ford is building something back there.  Ford: ” No I’ll catch up.”  Dave: Ford is just finishing his Chinese food from last night.”  Martin: “And building an amplifier.”  Mike: “What can’t he do?”

After the sweet “Sunshine” they play a cool “Christopher.”  The middle sections slows down quite a bit and then bursts forth loudly with the drums (I hope they had earplugs for the kids).  It’s followed by a lovely “Little Bird, Little Bird.”

Then Dave lays out the schedule for the next few days:

A wonderful week planned:
Tuesday its free.  That’s wonderful for you and… okay… for us.
Wednesday is the Whale Music album with many guests
Thursday is guest vocalist night with about 14 people singing–we give about 43 percent.  That’s not free.
And then the weekend is the last two licks so we all go crazy.  Paint our faces (not really).
And we have a hockey game on Thursday at 4 o’clock.   4 bucks to play.  Sticks and skates.  There’s a sign up card.

Then Cece asks, “Dad, is it my turn?”  After a sweet “Making Progress” it is finally Cece’s turn.

She is quite excited and yells “Perfect!” right into the mic.  She calls all the kids up on stage and then says you sing the song with me…that’d be even better.  You hear someone says “I wanna sing in the microphone.”  She says “After me!”  And then she sings a great “Everyday People.”  The whole song is fun.  And at the end Dave says, “we gotta teach you to throw to the guitar solo.”

Dave starts “Bread, Meat, Peas and Rice” and then realizes, “Hey, the same chords as ‘Everyday People,’ only faster.  At the end he notes, “Everybody has fun when the bongos come out and then half an hour later nobody’s having fun.  It’s the overstay-its-welcome instrument.”  Mike asks if they were expensive and Dave says they are the real things, I think they were like $150.

Martin says “next is a song about being lost in the wilderness.  And it’s called “Personal Identification Number” for some reason.  Dave asks if it was supposed to be a longer title and Martin says, “My publicist said the name was too long so I shortened it.”  Then he says, “This is a tenor guitar.  It’s got 4 strings.”  He starts singing “my guts, my guts, my ooey gooey guts” which Mike picks up on and sing “The ones in the back and the ones in the front.”

Martin finishes with a really fast solo.  He says, “that was very 2112.  But small.”  Dave:  “like point 2112.”  Mike: “It tastes like Rush but doesn’t get you drunk.”

They move on to “Four Little Songs.”  Dave asks if Max is here, but he has left. When they get to the third section, Dave says it’s traditional for Ford or someone else to do that slot.  But he wants to know if there’s anyone out there who has a song that must be sung?  At the back of the room?  It’s the wallflowers who have the most significant musical contribution.”  Mike; “It’s a die Fledermaus moment.”

They call Max over, not sure who Max is or if he even comes, but they play a jam, with Dave saying “it’s Max, ‘it’s not Max.”  When they get to the end Dave says, “Hold on, we need a new ending.  We have three: By Mennen, the two yells, and the Yes!”  Mike says “by Mennen is usually editorializing”  and that he’s been with the band for almost five years and he;s never done “Yes!”  So they demonstrate. Mike says, “this is like a DVD where you can choose the ending.”  Dave says, the new ending is the discussion of the ending.

And then Ford suggests that the new ending could be “like a zinger on The Muppet Show (wah wah).”  Cookie Monster ate all the cookies.  Bert will you ever win?

Dave says, “A couple more songs.” Martin: “and then the clowns.”

So Dave tells a story “When I was in Moscow there as an Americana diner and there was a security guard who looked like Captain Kangaroo expect he carried a gun.  Every Wednesday he was to dress like a clown.  So they have clown security in the American diner which tells you everything you need to know about the coming together of the United States and Russia.  Then Ford says, “And Australia…kangaroo.”

Dave: “Captain Kangaroo had never been within 15,000 miles of a kangaroo in his life.”

They play two final songs.  Dave: “Remember kids, only steal a car if you really have to.  And be careful when you invest in the Steinberger product, it’s hit and miss.”

They play a terrific “Stolen Car” and then surprisingly, given that this is an all-ages show, end with “Horses.”  “Horses” opens with a very different intro than usual, it sounds pretty cool.  The song rocks, but Dave doesn’t do any crazy ranting.  At the end, Martin does the horse sound with his guitar and some one says “whoah woah, horsey.”

[READ: July 9, 2017] The Big Bad Fox

First Second continues to publish first class French graphic novels and children’s books (this one translated by Joe Johnson).

This is a children’s book, but it is quite long.  It’s not hard to read by any means, but it’s a not a quicky 32 page picture book.

It’s possible that this was originally released as a series–there does seem to be a kind of punch line every few pages, but the story is consistent and quite funny (even if it’s not all that original). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-Sugar, Victoria BC (November 17, 2005).

Lucky’s Notes: [Lucky recorded this show and gets a song dedicated to him]:
This was to be the last time the Rheos played in Victoria, though we had no idea at the time. We will all really miss you guys out here!!

Given that information, it’s particularly sad when they say, “we’ll see you hopefully in the spring.”  But despite that future sadness, the show itself is great.  It begins with a wonderful “Easy to Be with You” which sounds terrific: the “do da” part is really rich in harmonies.

It’s followed by a quite raw “CCYPA” and then a fun, romping “Garden” which ends with: “Hugh Syme’s dance party for your pleasure”–Martin making an electronic racket with his guitar.

“Fat” has some interesting echo on Dave’s voice that I wonder if it could be bouncing off the room or not.  The “don’t even know who you are” is pretty wild with many different vocal from the guys.  It’s a great version overall–the bands is really into it.  Having more fun with “PIN” Dave seems to be really enjoying himself with the backing vocal nonsense.

Dave says, “It’s great to be here in Victoria, the Queen’s city, once again.”  When they start the poppy and delightful “Mumbletypeg,” Martin acknowledges “the amazing rhythm guitar playing of Dave Bidini.  Very rhythmic.”

“We’d like to thank Shane Koyczan for opening tonight–one of the sexiest men in Canada–another Neruda.”

“Marginalized” sounds great–dark and angry with a lot of echo on Tim’s voice.  That sounds weird but cool.  There’s a quiet middle section where Dave is playing a gentle acoustic and Tim is keeping that bassline.  It goes on and then the final verse is sung quietly with little accompaniment.

Someone in the crowd shouts “Record Body Count,” and Dave says “yes we got records, what about it?”

But Tim says, “we’ll do another apocalyptic number for you.”  They play “Here Comes the Image” with lots of great synth from MPW including an awesome solo.  Some really cool backing vocal from Martin make this one of the best versions I’ve heard.  Then MPW sits back at the drums: “good now I can relax.”

“Christopher” starts with an interesting guitar chord structure intro before they get to the song proper.  There’s an intense soloing section and a terrific quiet ending.  It’s followed by “King of the Past.”  It’s not my favorite version of it but there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in it.  It’s followed by a wild “Rock Death America.”

When they get to “Satan is the Whistler” Dave says they’re going to try this one “coz we hope to play it [well] in two days in Vancouver.”  Martin sings some verses pretty slowly and then later he plays the fast part much more slowly and sloppily than usual.

He also adds to these lines:

bouncers came and snuffed the fucking fire out / there’s no smoking in the parking lot / “I hate this fucking place” / some punks in the windy peaks

After the song Dave concurs: “You gotta keep those parking lots clean.  For parking.  And loitering.  Gas huffing [Martin: “pathetic addicts”] nefarious activities.”

“Claire” is a little sloppy from everyone, even Tim’s singing is a bit mumbly.   But there’s a great long solo from Martin.  Martin continues the solid work on “California Dreamline which is slow and trippy with lovely weird keyboards.  While singing, he whoops after “sand in my tequila” and rolls his r’s after the “escondido” part.

The song segues into what sounds like “Horses” with Tim chanting “do it do it do it do it ; do it do it don’t you do it” but then Martin plays a rocking guitar for the intro of “Feed Yourself.”  It is noisy and aggressive and amazing, perhaps the best version of this song I’ve heard.  They play a riff of “Hey Hey, My My”  then Dave starts getting really intense: “what’s in his head?”  he starts screaming “open it up.  “Look inside.”  (The loudest screaming I’ve heard him do).  The intensity is undermined somewhat by Tim’s ending backing vocal of “trunk trunk… what ‘cha gonna do with all that junk / all that junk inside that trunk.”

They go for an encore break and Dave says, At this point in the gig Martin usually has a cigarette, so I felt required to write a smoking song.  It’s a new song about Martin smoking.  It’s called “Smoking Song,” but how on earth is it about Martin smoking when he references Joseph Stalin and Hitler?  he doesn’t say, but when it’s over, he says, “uh oh looks like a 2 smoke break.  He might never come out.” so they play “My First Rock Show.”  During the first verse, Dave stops and asks, “What’s so funny sir?  That must have been the laughter of pure joy.”  You can’t hear what they’re talking about, but Dave mentions NoMeanasNo and agrees that “they sent a lot of us on the wrong road.  In the best way.”

When Martin arrives, Mike asks, “Where to, lads?”  After some mumbling, you hear Mike say “boogers?”  Dave says “vetoed! songwriter gets veto.”  He then says they “support the locked out Telus workers.  Telus is the shittiest service. They just got so big and fat there sitting on themselves.”  More quiet discussion then Mike says “that’s good, Martin you had a smoke and now you’re asserting yourself.”

Perhaps they agreed to the earlier request, because they play “Record Body Count” which sounds great.  When the song is more or less over, Martin starts playing a riff and begins singing “I’ve Been Thinking of You” and the crowd cheers.  They jam that song and afterwards, Martin says “What was that song we did in the middle was it April Wine or something?”  No one knows.  It was a band called Harlequin.

Dave says, “We were in Nanaimo last night.  Home to two of the greatest record stores.”  Someone shouts: “Home of the Nanaimo Bar.” To which Dave replies: “Home of the Naniamo Bear.  That bear likes them dead salmon.”

They play “Making Progress” which opens with a buzzy staticky guitar and big echo on Tim’s voice.  When they get to the synth part it’s all messed up and someone apologizes, saying “don’t let me near that thing again.”  Then it gets fixed and the synth is back on.

They end the show with “Dope Fiends.”  There’s a big echo on Martin’s voice.  Someone else sings some great falsetto along with him.  During the slow part, Dave stars singing “Legal Age Life” but the music doesn’t change–it’s rather disconcerting but cool.  The melody starts playing a keyboard that sounds like “Norwegian Wood” and at the end Tim does backing humming to “Norwegian Wood” before Martin’s loud and wild guitar ending.

Despite the odd echo, it’s a really great show.  The band sounds in great form and they are having a really good time.  It’s hard to believe they broke up so soon after this.

[READ: February 15, 2017] The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl

Sarah and I have really enjoyed the Squirrel Girl graphic novels.  She was really excited to see this actual novel about Squirrel girl from Shannon Hale.

This book is part of the Marvel Universe.  And what I’ve learned recently is that while I enjoy the Marvel Universe, I far more enjoy the peripheral characters of the Marvel Universe–like those of S.H.I.E.L.D. (even if I don’t watch the show anymore–it got a little crazy).  So I find myself enjoying Ms Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy and now Squirrel Girl–characters who reference The Avengers but are not actually part of the team.

There’s some thing so much more enjoyable about these characters where the stories can have fun of the major Marvel figures.  And this one has a ton of fun with that conceit. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CHILLING THRILLING SOUNDS OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE (1964).

The cover during Phish’s 2014 concert was of this album.

Apparently many people grew up with this record.  I personally didn’t know it, but if you read the comments (don’t read the comments!) on any YouTube clip of the album you will see how popular it is.

Wikipedia describes it as  intended for “older children, teenagers, and adults” released by Disneyland Records (now known as Walt Disney Records). The album was mainly composed of sound effects that had been collected by the sound effects department of Walt Disney Studios. The album was released in several different forms. The album was first released in 1964 in a white sleeve, with a second release in 1973 with an orange sleeve. In both versions, the first side contained 10 stories narrated by Laura Olsher, complete with sound effects. The second side contained 10 sound effects meant for others to create their own stories.

Despite the title, most of the cuts had nothing to do with haunted houses or witches or ghostly spirits. Featured were such situations as an ocean liner hitting rocks, an idiotic lumberjack, a man crossing an unsafe bridge, someone lighting a stick of dynamite and a spaceship landing on Mars. Also, there are tracks with several examples of cats, dogs and birds (similar to “The Birds”) becoming enraged for some reason, as well as a skit about Chinese water torture. In addition, some of the screams were taken directly from the scene where Miss Havisham catches fire in the 1946 David Lean film Great Expectations.

The full track listing is

  • “The Haunted House” 3:00
  • “The Very Long Fuse” 1:28
  • “The Dogs” 1:13
  • “Timber” 1:45
  • “Your Pet Cat” 0:49
  • “Shipwreck” 1:39
  • “The Unsafe Bridge” 1:21
  • “Chinese Water Torture” 2:02
  • “The Birds” 0:46
  • “The Martian Monsters” 1:41
  • “Screams and Groans” 0:57
  • “Thunder, Lightning and Rain” 2:01
  • “Cat Fight” 0:37
  • “Dogs” 0:48
  • “A Collection Of Creaks” 1:54
  • “Fuses and Explosions” 1:11
  • “A Collection Of Crashes” 0:45
  • “Birds” 0:33
  • “Drips and Splashes” 1:18
  • “Things In Space” 0:53

Nothing is especially scary–although maybe for a kid, as many adults claim to have been really frightened by it.  Everything is quite over the top, especially the screams and cat howls and dog snarling.  Even the stories are a little silly, although having them in the second person is pretty genius.

But things like “one night as you lie in your lonely room in your stone hut on the moors…”  (What?).  And the Martian one.  Just keeping with continuity: if “you,” meaning me, went on the trip, then I couldn’t hear the crunching as it ate me.  Or the silly voice saying “I wonder what that was.”

And the less said about the horribly racist Chinese Water Torture the better.  I mean, the opening is bad enough: “The ancient Chinese were a very clever race” but the end of the song is really awful.  But if we can look past that, the rest of the record has fun with sound effects and is generally pretty enjoyable.

During the John Congleton interview, he also talks about this album and says (at 40:28) “the speakers are 180 degrees out of phase to make it sound extremely stereophonic.”  He says now as an engineer it is totally painful to listen to.  Bob says it sounds like it comes from the back of your head.

[READ: October 15, 2017] Half-Minute Horrors.

The premise of this book (edited by Susan Rich) is simple: how scared can you get in 30 seconds?  To me, the answer is actually not very.  I guess for me fear builds over time.  It’s hard to get genuinely frightened over something that just suddenly happens (unless it is just trying to frighten you quickly, of course).

Having said that, I enjoyed this book a lot (look at the list of authors!).  I liked the arbitrary goal of writing a scary story in a paragraph or two (or more).  And some of them were really quite creepy.

I was originally going to point out which ones I felt were the most creepy, but there are so many stories, I kind of lost track.  So instead, here’s a rundown and a brief summary. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKPHISH-“Martian Monster” (MGM Grand Garden Arena, Friday 10, 31, 2014).

In honor of Halloween, these Ghost Box stories will be attached to a recent Phish Halloween show [with quoted material from various reviews]. 

Known for dawning musical costumes to celebrate [Halloween], Phish broke with tradition last year to offer a set of original music.  The Phish Bill read that Phish’s musical costume would be a 1964 Disney album of sound effects – Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House.  But it wasn’t a cover set. Phish played original music set amongst an incredibly psychedelic, theatrical graveyard stage accentuated by zombie dancers and a ghoulish MC.  At the start of the set, the stage was cleared before a graveyard came to the foreground.  Smoke filled the air, zombie dancers appeared, and music filled the venue. A haunted house was brought to the front of the stage, which eventually exploded, and all four-band members appeared, dressed in white like zombies. 

“Martian Monster” is the final song in the Phish Halloween set.  It’s a funky clavinet-fueled rocker and the longest track at 14 plus minutes.  Page is having a lot of fun on this song, both playing the riffs and sampling portions of the narration.

The song is meant to be a trip to Mars.  Because of the speed of your rocket, your trip is short.  It as described as

a filthy, original Phish groove mixed with spoken word quotes, sound effects and vocal warbles as actors performed zombie-fied dances in the space surrounding the haunted house. McConnell’s funky clavinet leads were at the forefront of the deliciously weird “Martian Monster.”

There are dozens of samples of “your trip is short.”  By the middle of the song, Trey starts reciting “your trip is short” which is getting manipulated crazily.  They are processed and robotic as we hear the Martian chewing and chewing (chewing you, obviously).

The song builds and builds and builds to a big blast off climax and then it returns to the funky keys and lots of “your trip is short.”

It’s a great ending to this surprising original set.

[READ: October 25, 2017] “Shadetree”

Just in time for Halloween. from the people who brought me The Short Story Advent Calendar comes The Ghost Box.

This is a nifty little box (with a magnetic opening) that contains 11 stories for Halloween.  Lovingly described thusly:

A collection of chilly, spooky, hair-raising-y stories to get you in that Hallowe’en spirit, edited and introduced by comedian and horror aficionado Patton Oswalt.

There is no “order” to these books, so I’m reading them in what I think was the order they were boxed (or at least the order I last put them back in the box).

This is the final book in the box and it’s a doozy.

There was a lot of this story that made me really angry and I’m trying to decide if it’s a misogynist story or just a powerful story where a woman is the victim (subtle distinction, I know).

The story is about a girl named Colly Sue and a boy named Shadetree.  They enjoyed listening to the stories that Shadetree’s great-uncle would tell.  They were spooky supernatural stories about ghosts, witches and haunts.  He had a dry whispery voice and it made the stories seem very real. Colly Sue was frightened but never stopped coming to hear.  Shadetree enjoyed spooking Colly Sue.  He would grab her during the story or claim that he was a spook or a haunt.  One day he told Colly Sue that he was a swapchild–a small haunt that was exchanged for a human being.  And Colly Sue didn’t doubt it.  Shadetree asserted, “I’d never hurt you, Colly Sue.” (more…)

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 SOUNDTRACK: NICK BUZZ-Lula Lounge, Toronto, ON (December 9, 2010).

I was looking through the solo concerts on the RheostaticsLive page and realized that there were only a few left for me to post about.

This is the first of two Nick Buzz shows on the site and the one I hadn’t posted about yet.

This audio has been taken from the Mini DV recording of the show that I put on YouTube (which is available in 13 parts).  These clips are all available on YouTube.

It’s interesting hearing Martin with Nick Buzz because they are clearly a more cabaret style–even on Martin’s solo songs.  As of this recording, they had released Circo and the Shoenberg EP.

“Spilling The Wonderful” sounds terrific.  It’s odd and cabaret-ish and as the title says, Wonderful.  On “That’s What You Get For Having Fun” it is cool watching him pluck at his guitar.  It’s a weird song but always sounds great.

He says, “Thanks a hell of a lot for coming” and then takes off his suit jacket.  “Just Because” is quiet and pretty.

Then he explains that the next few songs are from the Schoenberg EP.
I can’t tell how they do that opening collage of music and spoken words for “Gigerlette.”  But Martin seems to be enjoying it.  At the  end of the song he says “Strangely all these rather formal songs that Schoenberg wrote back then are all about sex, is that strange?  I don’t know.”  I cracked up that during “Der Ganugsame Liebhaber (Black Persian Kitty) he shakes his head after he sings “it shivers as I stroke its velvety nap.”  Then he even does some jaunty dances.  The final one is “Arie Aus Dem Spiegel Von Arcadien.”  It is so much fun with the boom boom boom bits.  He notes: it’s 100 years old.

“A Hymn To The Situation” is from “our first and essential only album Circo.  The other album was part of a subscription service I’ve done over the past 38 years–a collection of the creepiest Schoenberg songs.  But this is one of the most despicable songs I have ever written.  And I want to share it with you.

“Milkeek” is a new song.  It’s inspirations are from a dream world.  It doesn’t make any sense to me hopefully it will make some sense to you.  And it’s about keeping certain types of food separated from other types of food.  There’s scratchy violin.  He says that song was about “The relax”.
This song ain’t.  “Eliza” features banjo and Martin takes his guitar guitar back.  Although once the vocals start he takes the guitar off again.

“L’Astronaut” has an amusing story attached:    He says it’s inspired by a fantasy:  one of the things that occurred to me and a friend of mine was how we felt at folk festivals.   We would like to attend one in a spacesuit with tools to take samples of the boutiques and booths and bongo jams and take samples and do observations to take back to our world.  To use a boring drill to take sample drill into a djembe.  We’ll play the song and see if its comparable at all.   Don’t think so.  Not sure if there’s second unknown song or if that was part of “L’Astronaut,” but at the end, Martin jokes, “yes, we’re a little bit country.

“The House With The Laughing Windows”  is spare and pretty with a lovely piano melody.  I love when the guitar comes kicking in near the end of the song.  “Sane, So Sane” opens with him saying” Are you enjoying the show so far?  This is only our second show in a normal venue.  We’ve only done abnormal venues at this point things like television and classical tent arrangements.  This is a song about Toronto where I don’t live anymore.  There’s some really cool sound effects throughout.

“Love Streams” is from our album Circo.  The first time we played it from top to bottom we kept it for the record.

He says this next song features my bass playing.  It’s “Uncle Bumbo’s Christmas.”   It’s pretty long and for the end he’s basically playing two notes.  I wonder if he was bored.  The final song “If You Go Away” gets cut off at the end, but it is a delightful torch song.  Martin walks away for a bit in the beginning but comes back after 2 minutes to start singing.

I assume there were more songs at the show, but we will have to make due with what we have.  The quality is good and the band sounds great.  It’s nice to see Martin working with violinist High Marsh in the Rheostatics reunions.

[READ: April 20, 2017] Giant Days 3

Boy do I ever love this series.  It might just be my favorite graphic novel series yet.  And that’s saying a lot.

The only thing that confounded me a bit was that in the year since I read the last book, I’d forgotten a bit about what was going on.  But it only took a short amount of time to get caught up again.  I also noticed that I said I didn’t like Max Sarin’s drawing style in the previous book.  Well, I find that I really like it now and that I just didn’t like the change from one to the other in the middle of the previous book.  Because here it’s just right on–exaggerated and fun, but still delightful.

Chapter Nine opens on what I thought was a confusing scene–Ed and a woman (Amanda) are spying on the student government. The woman is an editor at the paper, she is older and pretty intense.  But they find out some shocking secrets (which allows them to make great use of the joke “absent Parent”).  After their espionage, Ed falls for this editirix.  And she is quite taken with him so she invites him home.  But she is older and more experienced and well, soon someone has some stories to tell. (more…)

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