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Archive for the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: KING CRIMSON-The Elements Of King Crimson – 2016 Tour Box (2016).

This was the third Tour Box containing material that is similar in spirit, but different in fact to the previous two.

As always, it starts with the Wind extract, the sound of Fripp’s mellotron warming up and a voice saying “I prefer the early ones.”  It segues into a beautiful instrumental of “Moonchild.”  Once again, the lyrics are interesting in the song, but it sounds great without them.

The music stays in somewhat chronological order of release, but often with contemporary versions.  Like the 2015 recording of 1970’s “Peace” (which is okay) and “Pictures Of A City” (which is great).

“Prince Rupert’s Lament” is a two and half-minute guitar solo which has the Toronto crowd from the previous track overlaid, making this recording sound like a live one, when it is in fact an except from the recording session of Lizard.  There’s a rehearsal of the full 10 minute “Islands” from 1971 or so.

Then a “new” song, the two and a half-minute 2014 “Threshold Soundscape” which segues into the 2014 live version of “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part I” which is quite bass heavy.  Up next is a recording session of “Easy Money” without all the bells and whistles.

Then comes two live recordings from 1974.  “Improv I” which is full of gongs and guitars and chaos and segues into “Doctor Diamond.”  This is a song I had never heard before.  It never had an official release and this version seems like they’re just trying it out, like they weren’t really sure about the words, especially.  It’s heavy and  more than a little odd.

After a 30 second clip “From the Drummer’s Stool” which is the a drummer playing the intense “21st Century Schizoid Man” drums, the full song is played from 1974, sounding quite old in the mix.

The second disc continues with all manner of things in no particular order.

There’s more extracts from Lizard, this time a very pretty solo piano version of “Prince Rupert Awakes.”

And them it’s on to a non-Crimson album.  “The Other Man” is an alternate early version of the song from the Jakszyk, Fripp, Collins album A Scarcity of Miracles which I don’t know at all.

Next comes “Making Of Discipline,” it’s clips from bulk of the album spliced together into one song.  It’s very nifty.  There’s a demo instrumental of “Walking on Air” and then a three-minute live track called “Radical Action (to Unseat The Hold of Monkey Mind).”

There’s a demo of “Meltdown” (with guide vocals) and then a 40 second clip “From the Drummers’ Stools I” and a 20 second clip “From The Guitarist’s Stool I” which is part of the 21CSM solo.

Then comes some heavy stuff.  “The ConstruKction Of Light” live from 2014 with no vocal tag at the end followed by the bizarre Beatles mashup “Tomorrow Never Knew/Thela” live from 2000.

There another sample “From the Drummers’ Stools II” this one from “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic I” which is followed by “Nuages” (which I read as Nu-ages.  It’s trippy with bouncy bass

There’s a 2014 recording of the slow, jazzy “The Light Of Day” also originally from Scarcity of Miracles. It’s followed by a Lizard excerpt “From The Guitarist’s Stool II” and then a fast complicated 40 second 2014 soundcheck for “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic I.”

Moving away from that classic business, we jump to a new mix of “Dinosaur” from THRAK.  It’s followed by a final 45 second “From The Drummers’ Stools III” and then concluding with a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes.”  This version is from 2000 and I find it kind of weak, especially compared to the powerhouse versions they would unleash later.

Overall there’s some cool stuff on this box, but I feel like there’s a bunch of stuff that’s not quite my Crimson taste.

[READ: January 12, 2018] The Nix

The Nix received some pretty positive reviews and I was quite interested to read it–even though I had no idea what it was really about.  It’s not until nearly page 100 that we find out what the title even means.

The Nix (in the story, not the novel itself) is a ghost story from Norway.  The protagonists’s mother heard about The Nix from her Norwegian father.  The Nix was a horse.  It encouraged you to ride it.  When you did, it never stopped running until it ran off a cliff with you on it.  In modern terms, The Nix is a person–usually someone you think you love. Someone who will leave you.

Summarizing the book is either really easy or something of a challenge depending on how many aspects you want to include.

The book more or less follows one man–starting with his failing writing career and then flashing back to how he got where he is.  That sounds pretty dull, but the book is set on the backdrop of contemporary America–from the rebellions of hippie parents to the rebellions of the 99%ers.

There’s also these wonderful subplots that prop up the main story. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: AHI-Tiny Desk Concert #693 (January 16, 2018).

AHI is apparently, inexplicably pronounced “eye.”  He is an Ontario-based singer.  There’s nothing strikingly original about his sound, but his songs are pretty and thoughtful and his voice has a pleasing rough edge.

Bob says,

AHI’s gruff but sweet voice and openly honest words were my gateway to this young Ontario-based singer. AHI says he sings Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” at the end of every set with a sense of hope. It was powerfully moving, without a note that felt clichéd or overly nostalgic. At that moment, I knew he needed to play a Tiny Desk Concert.

With a tasteful band comprised of Frank Carter Rische on electric guitar, Robbie Crowell on bass guitar and Shawn Killaly (a man of a million faces) on drums, AHI put his heart into three songs in just about 11 minutes, all from his debut album We Made It Through The Wreckage, which came out a year ago this week.

“Alive Again” builds slowly, but by the time the chorus comes around and he adds some whoops, the song really moves. I’m quite intrigued at the constant soloing from guitarist Frank Carter Rische.  It’s virtually nonstop and really seems to propel the song along.  It’s a catchy and fun song the way each round seems to make the song bigger and bigger.

About “Closer (From a Distance)” he says, we all have relationships.  Some are good; some are bad and some are just awful.  You may care about someone with your whole heart only to realize that you care about that person more than they care about themselves.  No matter how strong you are your strengths may not be as strong as their weaknesses.  Sometimes the only way to save the relationship is to walk away–“maybe we’ll be closer from a distance.”   This is a really heartbreaking song.  The lyrics are clearly very personal and quite powerful.  And the soloing throughout the song is really quiet and beautiful.

“Ol’ Sweet Day” is bouncy and catchy with a propulsive acoustic guitar and lovely licks on the lead acoustic guitar.  The drums are fun on this song as Killaly plays the wall and uses his elbow to change the sound of the drum at the end of the song.

The burning question that is never addressed is way he is wearing a helmet –motorcycle? horse riding?  It stays on the whole time.  At one point he even seems to “tip” his hat.  How peculiar.

[READ: December 8, 2017] Glorious and or Free

The Beaverton is a satirical news source based in Canada.  It began as a website in 2010 and then added a TV Show in 2016 (now in its second season).  To celebrate 2017, the creators made this book.

They have divided the history of Canada into 13 sections.  As with many satirical history books, you can learn a lot about a country or a time from the kinds of jokes made.  Obviously the joke of each article is fake, but they are all based in something.  Historical figures are accurate and their stereotypes and broadsides certainly give a picture of the person.

Some of the humor is dependent upon knowing at least a little about the topic, but some of the other articles are just broadly funny whether you know anything about it or not.

When we made this book our goal was to transport readers back to grade school to remember what they were taught n Canadian history class.  And so what if your teacher was hungover most of the time?

~30,000 Years of History in About Four Page (3,200,000,000 BCE – 1496)

“What the hell is that?”  –God after forgetting he made beavers. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-Buenaventura (2013).

Buenaventura was a bonus CD with Ventura featuring ten tracks handpicked from Phish’s March 21, 1993 Ventura Theatre show.

So, the same venue just four years earlier. The mix has a lot of bass—its not bass heavy but you can really hear all that Mike is doing.  There’s also a lot of echo on the voice.

“Maze” sounds great with a long keyboard solo followed by a long guitar solo.  “Sparkle” has some pretty piano and ends with some really fast guitar riffing.

“Divided Sky” opens with mostly with piano and bass (a high solo from Mike).  There’s some great solos where you can really hear mike playing along.  “Split Open and Melt” is great–a long ending solo where Trey goes nuts until it all just “falls apart,” ending with just drums and then some very sharp three note progressions.

Then you hear him say “Let’s do ‘Lawn Boy'” which he dedicates to the guy who taught him how to surf yesterday.  They follow it with “Tweezer” which is notable for there being a chorus of them singing “Tweezaaaah.”  After the Ebeneezer section there is noisy chaos and a noisy solo till it all sort of crawls to a halt.  Then they launch into a really fast “Llama” with lots of really fast keys from Page.  “My Sweet One” is also really fast and then segues into a “Big Ball Jam” which is mostly a wild drum solo with other instruments peppering it.  The disc ends with a romping “Cavern.”

After all of these full shows, it’s a little weird to not have excerpts, but it’s a nice sampling of a show from 1993 and it’s a great collection to boot.

The full show consisted of:

SET 1: Maze, Sparkle, The Sloth, Divided Sky, Esther > All Things Reconsidered, Split Open and Melt , Poor Heart, Punch You In the Eye, Lawn Boy > Possum

SET 2: Loving Cup, My Friend, My Friend, Rift > Tweezer > Ya Mar, Llama, You Enjoy Myself, My Sweet One > Big Ball Jam, Hold Your Head Up > Cracklin’ Rosie > Hold Your Head Up, Harry Hood , Cavern

ENCORE: Sleeping Monkey, Sweet Adeline, Tweezer Reprise

 [READ: November 21, 2016] The Human Soul as a Rube Goldberg Device

Madras Press publishes limited-edition short stories and novella-length booklets and distributes the proceeds to a growing list of non-profit organizations chosen by our authors. For this particular book, proceeds to benefit the Arkansas Literary Festival.

This book is a grown up choose your own adventure.  And who doesn’t love a choose your own adventure story?

The one thing that was a mite disappointing is that all of the stories end up in the same place, but I guess that is the point after all.

Your choices are things like: would you say that you’re not wasting your life? [page 33]  Would you say that you are? [page 109]
If you decide to stop for a while at the coffeehouse, go on to page 45 If you head for the McDonald’s across the street, turn to page 113.

If you decide to do a little grocery shopping, turn to page 93; if you decide to clean the bathroom mirror, turn to page 121

And the most realistic one for me: (more…)

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mewanSOUNDTRACK: “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-Mandatory Fun #1 (2014).

way1So, yeah I’ve spent the last few weeks talking about the songs from Mandatory Fun.  What could I possibly have left to say?

Well, only that I think it’s pretty awesome that Al’s viral campaign worked and that his album made it to #1 on the Billboard charts.  (Of course, I have my disclaimer that I really don’t care about charts and usually have no idea what is number one, but I’m always pleased when a band I like can get that honor).  I think it’s pretty cool that he’s been doing this forever (and I’ve liked him since “Another One Rides the Bus”), and that he is not only still successful, but is even more successful than ever.

I’ve also enjoyed seeing him all over the media lately.  It’s interesting to see how smartly he deals with stupid interviewers and how much he enjoys the intelligent interviewers.  I met Al once and he was a very nice  person (as far as celebrities go).  He seems to genuinely appreciate his fans, and so I’m glad he’s collecting more fans.

Clearly, the album sales will plummet after this #1 accomplishment (it’s not like people are going to start buying the album as if they were unfamiliar with it), but while it lasted, it was pretty cool.  And this scene on the Tom Green Show (who even knew he had another show?) when he was presented with this plaque was quite touching.

[READ: July 29, 2014] Meanwhile

This book is like a culmination of cleverness from Jason Shiga.  As the cover states: Pick Any Path.  3,856 Story Possibilities.  And while I did not count them all, I did run through all the possibilities.  And it is a crazy, time bending, mind-swapping fun ride.

And is it really a choose your own adventure?  Indeed it is.  Each page has a tab and each panel in each cartoon has a tube. The tube runs from one panel to another, sometimes going to a tab so you go to another page.  The author’s note at the beginning of the book says it began as a series of 7 increasingly complex flowcharts, then he used an algorithm to determine the most efficient way to make each story line.  And wow, what a doozy.

The story starts simply enough with the main character getting an ice cream.  And your choices are chocolate or vanilla.  The choices lead down a series of deepening paths, bringing you to a scientist who has created the Killitron 2000 (which does what it says), the SQUID (which transfers memories between people) and a time machine.  As you can imagine each of these thing leads to very different results. (more…)

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