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Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

   SOUNDTRACK: WAXAHATCHEE-Tiny Desk Concert #321 (November 23, 2013).

Waxahatchee is pretty much Katie Crutchfield.  The band recently played a show near me and I wondered if it was a band or just her.

This might be as intimate as hearing Katie Crutchfield sing in her basement. That’s where she and her sister would play guitar, write and sing songs 10 years ago, when she was 14. Katie and Allison Crutchfield had a band back in Birmingham together, The Ackleys; these days, Katie performs as Waxahatchee, while Allison’s band is called Swearin’.

The songs Waxahatchee brought to the NPR Music offices aren’t just stripped down for this Tiny Desk Concert, this is Katie Crutchfield as Waxahatchee, spare and exposed; this is what she does. Sometimes there’s a drummer (her sister’s boyfriend Kyle Gilbride) and at other times another guitarist, her boyfriend Keith Spencer (both play in Swearin’), but even on Waxahatchee’s second album, Cerulean Salt, there are plenty of bare-boned songs. This is intimate music for an intimate setting, as we got to stand in careful silence, listening intently and capturing this frail and powerful performance.

And all of that is true.   These are pretty, quiet folk songs.  They are so quiet it almost seems like she doesn’t have her amp on—you can hear her pick striking against the strings.

To me the power of these songs is in the lyrics, and yet the music isn’t boring or simple either.  Her chords are always, if not interesting, then certainly spot on.  But I keep coming back to the lyrics.  Like the end of “I Think I Love You”

I want you so bad it’s devouring me / and I think I love you but you’ll never find out.

Her speaking voice is quiet too, and after the first song she admits, “This is one of the coolest things I have ever gotten to do.”

“Bathtub” has this wonderfully intense line:

And I tell you not to love me
But I still kiss you when I want to
And I lament, you’re innocent
But somehow the object of my discontent
And it’s fucked up, I let you in
Even though I’ve seen what can happen

The entire Tiny Desk Concert is only 9 minutes–which is simply too short.  I know that the Tiny Desk Concerts usually have bands play 3 songs, but when they are mostly short ones like “Tangled Envisioning” (not even 3 minutes), they could tack on an extra one or two.

[READ: August 30, 2016] Science: Ruining Everything Since 1543

Zach Weinersmith writes the daily webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.  I supported the Kickstarter project for this book because it looked frankly hilarious.  The one thing I have to say off the bat is that I don’t love his drawing style.  There’s something about it that I simply can’t get into.  Even after two full books of these drawings, it just never gels for me.  But that’s fine. because I’m here for the jokes.  And they are awesome.

The book is comprised of the best religion-themes comic from the 13 years that SMBC has been around.  There’s also a whole slew of comics that are exclusive to this book.

We are greeted with this: “For these drawings, the part of God is played by a giant yellow disc.” (more…)

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  SOUNDTRACK: DAUGHTER-Tiny Desk Concert #313 (October 21, 2013).

Daughter is a quiet folk band (at least in this Tiny Desk Concert) in which two acoustic guitars (Elena Tonra and Igor Haefeli) and one drum (Remi Aguilella) play behind Tonra’s gorgeous, angsty vocals.

For all three of these songs, she sings delicate whispered vocals that are quite lovely, but also quite dark.

Like this line from “Youth” “Most of us are bitter over someone / setting fire to our insides for fun.”  I love the way Haefeli’s guitar harmonics sound like keyboards and how powerful the martial drumming sounds when it comes in.

“Landfill” opens with thudding drums (Mallets instead of sticks) which are louder and bigger and yet still feel gentle.  And yet, as the blurb says: The song is “achingly pretty and melancholy, the track builds to an absolute gut-punch of a line — “I want you so much, but I hate your guts” — that conjures a pitch-perfect mix of gloom, desire and hostility.”

They put out an EP and in 2013 released an album:

the lovely If You Leave, but Daughter was kind enough to resuscitate “Landfill” for this stripped-down performance at the Tiny Desk. As you’ll see and hear, that aforementioned gut-punch is a recurring specialty for the band: In all three of these sad, searing songs, singer Elena Tonra showcases a remarkable gift for coolly but approachably dishing out weary words that resonate and devastate.

Between these two songs, Bob asks if this is an awkward place to play, and she responds, “No, we’re just awkward people.”

For “Tomorrow” there is a beautiful ascending guitar melody and loud drums.  I really like the way the guitars play off of each other–even though they are both acoustic, they sound very different and complement each other nicely.  Like in the wonderful melody at the end.  Despite how pretty the song was, apparently she was unhappy with it saying “a bit ropey, that one.”  I hadn’t heard that before, but evidently it means “unwell…usually alcohol related” so that’s pretty funny.

[READ: August 30, 2016] Science: Ruining Everything Since 1543

Zach Weinersmith writes the daily webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.  I supported the Kickstarter project for his book Religion: Ruining Everything Since 4004 BC and this book was part of my funding level.

I was more interested in the religious comics, but I am tickled by how funny the Science comics are.  Weinersmith knows a lot of science (or at least scientists) and make some really funny jokes about the subject.

The one thing I have to say off the bat is that I don’t love his drawing style.  There’s something about it that I simply can’t get into.  Even after two full books of these drawings, it just never gels for me.  But that’s fine. because I’m here for the jokes.  And they are awesome. (more…)

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 SOUNDTRACK: DIRTY DOZEN BRASS BAND-Tiny Desk Concert #600 (February 28, 2017).

I have, of course, heard of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. I’ve probably even heard them on a record or two that I own.  But I don’t really know much about them (in this Concert there are only 7 of them, I don’t know if they ever actually have a dozen members).

But nevermind, because man, do they swing.  And they swing with a big chunk of funk.

“Use Your Brain” is catchy as anything–with a great funk sound.   I love that the bass is all done by the sousaphone (Kirk Joseph).  I love the squeaky trumpet solo that gets played at the end of the song by Gregory Davis.  And I love everything in between.  A cool thing is that there is a guitar (played by Takeshi Shimmura) in the song which you can barely hear except during the moment when the horns are quiet and then you hear it do a great little funky chord riff.  It’s not prominent, but it is essential.

“Best of All” has a very different style (an almost Latin feel)–with Efrem Towns the “vocalist” doing r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r- vocal rolls.  I’m intrigued that for most of these songs the saxophone Kevin Harris (tenor sax) and Roger Lewis (baritone sax) play the main riff most of the time and the trumpets are often silent (until they totally take the song higher).  Like the great high note in the middle of the song.  The guitar is playing lots of little riffs that you can hear every one in a while–rounding out the song very nicely.  And the sousaphone makes some great rumbling sounds.  This song has a drum solo and I love that the drummer (Julian Addison)is placed up at the front of the band so you can really see him–his playing is fluid and that solo is funky and not showoffy.

“Tomorrow” has a funky bass–all coming from the sousaphone–and a real ska feel (especially as the guys sing the chorus “Tomorrow yeah yeah yeah yeah”).  There’s a great rollicking solo from the baritone sax.  Whenever Towns sings, he’s barely audible over the music of the horns–which is fine because hearing his voice is fun even if you can’t really hear what he’s saying.

For the final song, “My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now” Davis says:

This is the song where you all participate –you all been a little bit stiff, not moving.  (someone says , well it is NPR).  For this song we want you to participle. Don’t just stand there and clap like that, you know… move. Put your back into it.  Put your wiggle in the wiggle.  Drop it like it’s hot.  All that stuff you do behind closed doors do it now–well not all you do.

The song is super fun and dancey with a big chorus chant of “feet can’t fail me now, feet can’t fail me now.”  There’s some great horn and a cool wah wah guitar throughout the song.

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band show just how much diversity you can get with “just a brass band.”  This was a super fun concert.

[READ: February 13, 2017] The Complete Peanuts Comics and Stories

This is the final book in the Complete Peanuts series from Fantagraphics.  It took 13 years–2 books a year–and here is the odds and ends collection to tie the series up.

There is an introduction by the editors of the series who explain just what this volume is:  The content has to be Peanuts, drawn by Schulz himself, and (when possible) with verification from Schulz’s widow, Jean.  Material that had not been seen before or was not in print in the twenty-first century got preferential treatment (no Happiness is a Warm Puppy, which is frequently reprinted).  So you’ll see dozens of strips not seen in any book and ones not printed in more than half a century. Six complete books are here– four story books, two volumes on life’s lessons.  Seven comic book stories, lots of single panel gags and lot of ads!

Then there is a Designer’s Note by Seth.  Seth has been behind all of these books (imagine dedicating 13 years of your life to something like this).  He says that he wanted these books to look and feel dignified and maybe even a bit sad.  He also wished to pay a personal tribute to Charles Schulz in his design.

He says that it was Schulz who first set him on the cartooning path.  He was the first artist Seth ever noticed: “Who is this magical person who signs his name in the last box of Peanuts?”  He never met the man and he’s not sorry about that–he has all he needs from the work itself.  He wants to think of this compete set as a monument to Schulz. (more…)

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storiesSOUNDTRACKPOLYPHONIC SPREE-Tiny Desk Concert #259 (December 21, 2012).

The Polyphonic Spree performs a Tiny Desk Concert.I really enjoyed Polyphonic Spree’s first album (and their strange robes and cult-like following (apparently even within the band).

They put out a Christmas album some time ago, and since we have a big pile of Christmas albums, I grabbed that one.  I didn’t love it, but it was a fun addition to our collection.

This Tiny Desk Concert is notable for just how many members of the band are behind (and on the side of) the Tiny Desk (perhaps 18?).

And the band is suitably musical–trombone, trumpet, keys, drums, bass, cello, violin and a ten (or so) piece choir.

Interestingly, I find that the weak link in this whole thing is leader Chris DeLaughter.  It’s just that his voice is really not that interesting. It’s especially notable on “The Christmas Song” where he sings some high notes unaccompanied.  When the choir comes in (and they change the melody) it sounds really cool.  I especially love the way they make “reindeer really know how to fly” into a high note.

The first song is “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” which I feel is the Christmas song they might be best known for.  It’s pretty traditional to the original, with the choir filling in for the kids.  The addition of horns really adds a lot to it.

“Silver Bells” gets a pretty rocking treatment–the buildup at the beginning is pretty cool.  They change the main melody to an almost circus-like waltz. I love the way it sounds when everyone joins in–and when the choir is singing along to the rocking end (with a very different melody) it sounds great.  But once again DeLaughter’s voice doesn’t seem up to the task of leading this larger group.

But it’s festive and fun, especially with everyone in red robes (and DeLaughters green one).

[READ: December 2016] Christmas Stories (1854-1864)

Last year, I started reading some Charles Dickens Christmas Stories in December.  I imagined that I’d finish the whole book this season (all 750 pages of it), but I didn’t come close.  I enjoy these stories but they are not quick reads by any standard.

The fascinating thing with a lot of these stories is that they appeared in All the Year Round, a Victorian periodical founded and owned by Dickens and published between 1859 and 1895 throughout the United Kingdom.  But just because these stories came out for the Christmas issue doesn’t mean they have anything to do with Christmas directly.

I thought I’d be reading a whole chunk of the book in a row, but I wound up skipping around a bit.  Maybe next year I’ll finish the remaining stories. (more…)

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1999 SOUNDTRACK: JANE BUNNETT AND MAQUEQUE-Tiny Desk Concert #547 (July 12, 2016).

bunnettJane Bunnett is a soprano saxophonist and flautist from Toronto who performs largely with Cuban musicians.  She has been traveling there for about 30 years and has performed with all kinds of musicians.  For this Tiny Desk and her current she is playing with the women from Cuba in a band called Maqueque (they won a Juno award last year).

And they sound great together.  It’s interesting that Bunnett takes something of a back seat (or position anyhow) to singer Melvis Santa (who seems to mostly sing sounds (ah ah ahs, bop bop bah dah dahs, as opposed to words) .  But when it’s time to shine, Bunnett is there to impress everyone with her skill.

Felix Contreras says “If you want to hear what Cuba sounds like today, then be sure to listen.”

“Little Feet” features Bunnett playing a cool solo on her sax and Santa singing notes along with her.  But for this song Bunnett really wails.  (she’s quite winded by the end).

Of the three songs, the ten minute “Maqueque” is my favorite.  That’s in part because I don’t really like the sound of the soprano sax (she plays flute on this one) but also because the band membranes really get to show off their chops.  It starts with a simple piano melody and pretty vocals.  Then Bunnett plays the melody on the flute as Santa sings along.   When Bunnett gets her solo on, you can hear her vocalising a bit as she plays the flute.

After the song Bunnett says that women in Cuba don’t get the exposure they deserve, so she picked these woman to let the world hear them.

About 4 minutes in Dánae Olano plays an amazing 2 minute piano solo–fun to listen to and to watch as she is all over the keys–she plays  some great trills and riffs.  She’s very impressive.  About 8 minutes in Yissy Garcia (who Dave Matthews has said plays drums like Jesus) plays a great drum solo.  On the drum kit she is using her palms and fingers to play all of the drums and cymbals–she switches to sticks at the end. The percussionist Magdelys Savigne accompanies her, and while not actually soloing, she is keeping rhythm as well.

Celia Jiménez plays bass.  She doesn’t get to do anything fancy–no solos, but she keeps the rhythm perfect.

bunnett2“25 New Moves” has Bunnett back on sax with Santa singing along to her melody.  It’s a short (4 minute) catchy piece with another cool fast solo from piano and a few cool bass lines as well.

It’s a pretty great set with lot of cool jazzy Cuban melody and rhythms.  I enjoyed this set quite a lot.

[READ: November 3, 2016] The Complete Peanuts 1999-2000

This is the final volume of Peanuts strips. After 50 years, it finally came to and end.

Schulz was diagnosed with cancer in 1999.  He died in February of 2000.

I was hoping that this book would be shockingly good–full of great “I’m finishing the trip” closure.  But as I understand it, he wasn’t ready to finish the strip, so things move on more as less as normal.

In fact, I found the first few weeks of 1999 to be kind of dull.  The punchlines just didn’t make me smile as much.  Of course there is something to be said for the consistency of the strip.  Linus still has his blanket, Rerun is still coloring (he has become a dominant force in the strip), Patty is still getting things wrong and Sally still doesn’t want to do anything. (more…)

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1997SOUNDTRACK:LOS HACHEROS-Tiny Desk Concert #545 (July 5, 2016).

hacherosLos Hacheros play “Afro-Caribbean music that provides the source material for modern salsa and all of its permutations.”

This music swings and bounces and with such simple instrumentation: an upright bass and a guitar.  With the main melodies constructed by the trombone and vocal (the trombonist doubles on violin).  But the rest of the band is there for percussion–cowbells, shakers and the conga.

The band plays three songs all sung in Spanish.  It’s fun to watch them get into the groove and begin to sway in unison to the music.

“Baila Con Los Hacheros” features a violin solo that is pretty intense “Papote’s Guajira” features an acoustic guitar solo that is complex and fun to watch. It also has a lengthy flute solo (the violinist also plays the flute!). “Bambulaye” features NPR’s own Felix Contreras on congas–he gets a solo–apparently he has been playing in bands for years.  What a nice surprise.

[READ: November 3, 2016] The Complete Peanuts 1997-1998

This is the second to last book of collected strips from Schulz.  Rerun features quite prominently and Linus has faded somewhat.  Snoopy is no longer playing characters (except for the soldier..always soldiers) and Charlie is still pining for things he won’t get.

1997 opens with Charlie showing Linus his autographed Joe Shlabotnik baseball.  But Linus thinks it’s a forgery.  Cue a week of strips about an autograph forger (who tries to hire Charlie as his accomplice).  I love that Schulz went on strange little tangents like this, but I always feel like he doesn’t follow through with these funny ideas. The whole premise of this just ends never to be heard from again.

And then in a surprise to me, Snoopy starts acting like a Revolutionary War patriot standing guard at Valley Forge.  He seems to have given up on WWI and gone back in time to a far less dramatic role–he mostly just stands around in the cold.  Strips about that occur from time to tome with him talking to General Washington.  The last one is in December 1998 where he realizes he is only guarding snow. (more…)

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1989 SOUNDTRACK: THE SUFFERS-Tiny Desk Concert #482 (October 27, 2015).

suffersThe Suffers are a ten piece soul band fronted by the charismatic Kam Franklin.  I loved how at the start of this show each band member counted down 1-10 while Kam stood on the desk to sing.

“Giver” is a slow R&B type song with lots of lengthy horn solos.

“Midtown” has a funky sound with a cool bass line.  I though that song started to get interesting towards the end but then they stopped it.

“Gwan” is my favorite of the three because it is more uptempo and fun and allows the band (including Kam) to really rock out.

Everything about The Suffers is right on–the horns sound great, the band is tight, Kam’s voice is string and powerful.  But I just don;’t like this kind of music at all.  And I don’t really need to hear The Suffers again (although that last song is pretty good.

[READ: September 10, 2016] The Complete Peanuts 1989-1990

I had said that the previous book felt a little lightweight compared to previous years.  This book actually continued in that somewhat unsatisfying vein.  For point of reference, when I jot down strips that I really like, I usually fill two or three small pages of paper.  This book had only one page and a little over flow.

But, it also had one of the most exiting and emotionally satisfying sequences as 1990 drew to a close.

Schulz has also been having fun with the new fewer-panel style. It’s mostly three panels but he experiments with 2 panels and even one panel.  He seems to enjoy playing with the space afforded with one panel–its interesting to see.

The year starts off with an ugly dog contest and the introduction of yet another of Snoopy’s brothers, this one named Olaf.  Olaf is very ugly and wears a sack. When he takes it off he reveals himself to be a squat round version of snoopy with buck teeth or a tongue hanging out of his mouth.  In June of 1989 we actually see Snoopy’s Dad on Father’s Day. He looks like snoopy but with a big mustache (white), small glasses, and a cap.

Starting in the previous book and continuing through now, we often see Sally responding to things on the TV.  Most of them are pretty funny.  Later, Sally says that her school play is going to be Hansel and Grateful.

Marcie still has mixed feeling for Charles and tells Patty to throw a bean ball at him, but then takes it back.  In the summer of 1989 Patty goes to summer school and Marcie teases her that she (Marcie) and Charles area at camp togetehr.  Patty gets very jealous.

In July 1981 in a one panel; the kids are on line to buy tickets to the movie sand one of them says “Those two guys on TV hated it.”

Snoopy has another good food comment this year: “Do you want a cookie with nuts or a cookie with raisins?” “Neither, I prefer plain cookies.  I don’t like food in my food.”  But speaking of cookies, there are about 100 strips where the punchline is something about Snoopy eating cookies.  It gets a little out of hand.  There were always the jokes about the chocolate chip cookies calling him but soon all of the punchlines start to do with cookies.

Franklin is still talking about his grandpa with Charlie Brown.   And Pig-Pen returns for a little while.

In July of 1989 an “old friend” calls Charlie Brown.  She insists on coming over and says she hasn’t seem hm for a long time.  She seems to have red hair (but is not the red-haired girl) an upon seeing them, runs up to Snoopy, calls him Charlie Brown and takes him away.  She looks at Charlie and asks “who are you.”  She feeds Snoopy sundaes until he is nearly sick.

Over the summer Patty and Marcie are supposed to read four books, but Marcie reads an extra one: The Little Prince.  Patty says it’s so short what’s he big deal?  Marcie read it in French.

In August 1989 in the kids are lined up for autographs   $30 for Joe DiMaggio, $25 for Ted Williams.  Steve Garvey is $9 and Maury Wills is $5.  Charlie gets Joe Shlabotnick’s and the guys gives Charlie a dollar.  Joe Garagiola continues to pop up in the strip.  Charlie tells Schroeder he can have a career as a catcher and then after you retire you can go on TV like Joe Garagiola and Lucy says Who?

1989’s football gag has Lucy telling Charlie to think of the regrets he’ll have if he never risks anything.

Starting in 1989 and continuing for a few years it seems, Charlie has become very close to Snoopy–a relationship that was never really there before.  There’s a lot of pictures of Snoopy on Charlie’s lap (very cutely drawn, I must say.  It more or less starts in October with Charlie saying “All I seem to want to do lately is sit around holding my dog on my lap.”  This leads to Charlie quitting school and devoting his entire life to making Snoopy happy.  They eat a lot of food until Snoopy gets sick and he concludes ” I think I happied him to the vet.”  Charlie concludes that he was sorry making him happy didn’t work out and Snoopy replied “I was already happy.”

There’s also a  resurgence of the blanket battle between Linus and Snoopy which I always liked.

POP CULTURE: Lucy is listening to the radio and says she missed the ball because Michael Jackson hit a high note.  Later in the month Linus thinks to videotape the Great Pumpkin (although we never see him do it).  In August 1990, Snoopy calls himself “Joe Bungee” and in November, Snoopy is riding Rollerblades and then later Sally asks for them from Snoopy Claus.

In January 1989 Patty is watching her hero Donna Adamek bowl.

I really enjoy the wordless joke of the street sign pointing up and then a curve down.  One of the Woodstock birds stands on top of the sign, the other two where the arrow points.  Snoopy s says, “You’re right we should have had a picture of that.”

A lot of the Mother’s Day panels for the last few years have been about Woodstock trying to give a card to him mom, but in 1990 Charlie lets his mom pitch for Mother’s Day which is very sweet

For summer camp Sally refuses to go.  When Charlie describes on the phone that there will be canoeing, swimming, rock climbing, tennis hiking, soccer he turns to Sally  to sally and their Granma just signed up.

As I mentioned earlier, this book wasn’t that exciting for me.  I never really got into any of the story lines. Until summer camp of 1990 when things suddenly became awesome.  Charlie takes Snoopy to camp, which is kind of fun.  But then unexpectedly, on July 23, Charlie talks to a cute girl.  He says he always gets nervous around pretty girls.  But she says he shouldn’t be: pretty girls are human too.   Her name is Peggy Jean and he is so in love that he calls himself Brownie Charles, which she thinks is adorable.  She really likes him!  She even holds the ball for him to kick.  But he is so conditioned that he doubts her sincerity which just gets her mad.

But before camp is over, she tells him he’s the nicest boy she’s ever met and then she kisses him!  And a few weeks later when Charlie can’t figure out why she hasn’t written, it’s because Sally has been throwing out all the letters that came to Brownie Charles–if only he’d been waiting at the mailbox!

I also enjoyed the joke in August of 1990 where snoopy sells a raffle ticket and it say s “You don’t win anything but you’ll have the pleasure of owning your very own raffle tickets…  be the first on your block to start a collection.”

In Sept 1990 Pig Pen decides to run for class president.  Someone shouts that he has no dignity so he puts on a stove pipe hat.  Nobody votes for him anyhow.

And then in October, we get some real insight into Marcie.  She comes over to say that her parents are driving her crazy.  They want her to be perfect and get straight A’s.  Shes cracking up.  It’s a pretty intense moment for Peanuts.  And Charlie is in way over his head.  Marcie falls asleep at Charlie’s house.  When she wakes up she says “I don’t want to go home… can I stay here? If I go home I have to be perfect….  Sally shouts from the other room, “If she doesn’t want to be perfect she’s come to the right place!”  The sequence ends sadly open-ended with Marcie saying she’s going home so she can get straight A’s “just so I can go to some college they’ve already picked out for me.”  And Sally says “and end up marrying some nerd.”

In Dec 1990 Charlie goes to buy Peggy Jean some nice gloves. But they cost $25.  He sells all of his stuff to buy them for her only to find out that her parents just bought her gloves.    Sadly he gave them to Snoopy instead.

The book ends with one of the saddest Christmas strips ever.  It’s just Spike sitting alone with mistletoe stuck to a cactus and him saying “Rats.”

Apropos of this, the intro was written by Lemony Snicket.  Rather than raving about the strip, Snicket revels in how dark it is  He quotes all of the darkest lines in the book and says how odd it is that these sentences are found in the section marked Comics.

And then Snicket summarizes the strip:

The hero of this melodrama is a balding grammar school student paralyzed by fear and self-loathing.  Sadly, the psychiatrist he chooses is also a child, who not only offers him nothing but cruelty and scorn…One would be tempted to label her as the villain of this ongoing tale of terror, if she didn’t share the same unhappy hopelessness as her helpless patient.

Then there’s her young brother who shuffles around town clutching ragged bedclothes and trying to dissolve one of his own fingers in his mouth.  It’s no wonder the psychiatrist has fallen into a cycle of romantic obsession and violent argument with a temperamental musician.

Our hero, in the meantime, is not far from obsessive complication: two women compete for his attention, all the while maintaining a tense “friendship: with one another despite the fact that one of them, out of stupidity or malice, mistakes the gender of the other.

Even the neighborhood dog, who by all rights should remain clueless of the goings-on, is ravaged by the local madness.  When not talking to a bird who utters nothing but apostrophes, he fantasizes that he is fighting in one of the world’s mist horrific conflicts.

I am fascinated by the endless ghastly tale of these poor youngsters.

Make no mistake, Lemony Snicket is a huge fan.

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