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Archive for the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Category

nessSOUNDTRACK: BEN WILLIAMS & SOUND EFFECT-Tiny Desk Concert #170 (October 24, 2011).

ben williasmBen Williams is a jazz upright bass player (I didn’t realize bass players made band leaders, but clearly they do).  In 2009, he won the Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition.  And is an up and coming star.

He plays two original songs from his album State of Art.

It’s not often that the blurb describes a song, but it does a better job than I could have so for the first song, “Home”

the guitar (Gilad Hekselman) and drums (John Davis) lay down an aggressive, snappy foundation. The bass and electric keyboard (Christian Sands) fill out the polyrhythms. That groove, with its snappy hip-hop flavor, feels at home cruising down Georgia Avenue, then turning right on U Street NW, the historic African-American commercial district of Washington [D.C. where Williams is from]. Then the saxophone (Marcus Strickland) enters, and it’s game on.

That saxophone really runs the show on this song.  There’s an interesting keyboard solo (I like the sound he chose, very Stevie Wonder-ish, but it’s a little quiet).

The sax switches to a smaller sax for the second song, “Dawn of a New Day.”  The song is much slower and is more than twice as long as “Home.”

There’s a pretty lengthy bass solo (which sounds very old-school to me).  It’s followed by an electric guitar solo that has an interesting effect on it which made me think at first that it was a horn.  The horn comes next with a lengthy sax solo.  The final solo comes from the keyboard (which now sounds like a piano).  And then the song returns to that interesting main riff.

[READ: April 20, 2016] The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Sarah brought this book home and told me the premise–imagine what the stories of the other kids in the Buffy Universe would be like–wondering about all of those weird kids fighting vampires or whatnot.

At first I thought she meant that the other kids didn’t know what was going on, which would have been funny.  But in this story, the kids know that there are vampires and other mystical things, they just aren’t any part of the action–they are not the Chosen Ones.

It’s a very funny premise for a book, and I looked forward to how Ness would create a story around people who aren’t “doing” anything.

But that’s not the only thing that the story is about.  Ness makes the lives of the other kids so compelling and so, human (even if one of them is a quarter god). (more…)

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felciaiSOUNDTRACK: FREDRIK-Tiny Desk Concert #57 (May 3, 2010).

fredrikFredrik are a Swedish band.  They were a duo, then a sextet and then a duo again.  In this concert, they are in that duo state–Fredrik Hultin on vocals and guitar and Ola Lindfelt on electronics and percussion.

Their then new release was a dark album called Trilogi and was just the two of them.  They play two songs from that album and one form their debut.

“Ner” is quite dark, with the whispery vocals and the minor chord progression.  The simple thudding drum beat also keeps the song somewhat ominous.  Speaking of the drummer, he is using a microphone (into which he later whistles) as a drumstick (he hits the cymbal with it later).  But his main “drumstick” is a maraca.

“Locked in the Basement” is a bit louder but with the same percussion set up.  It maintains that ominousness (just see the title of song).  Although in the middle it quiets down to just a thumping drums and gentle guitar noises with Ola’s backing oohs.

“Black Fur” is a bit more upbeat (in the blurb Robin says it is a soaring song on their debut).  It is stripped down here and it quite catchy–almost upbeat and positive.  It’s quite different from the other two songs. You can hear their recorded version of it (when they were a sextet) here.

I enjoyed these songs, and wonder if Fredrik has continued as a duo in the last five years.

[READ: September 7, 2015] You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) 

Like most geeky folks, I love Felicia Day.  The Guild was an awesome show and her creativity behind it is really masterful.  And she was in Dr Horrible, which is how I found out that she was one of the slayers in the final seasons of Buffy.

So Felicia has the geek cred.  But I didn’t know anything about her.  And I wasn’t sure that I cared all that much.  I mean, Felicia is the bomb but do I need to know how she got to be that way?  Nevertheless, I was curious to see what she would put into this book.

If you’re looking for salacious stories about working on Buffy, you won’t get them.  Aside from an intro by Joss Whedon, there’s very little information about her time on Buffy.  Rather, she talks about her childhood (which is fascinating) and her Guild making days and her post-Guild success.  And there’s a rather dark turn near the end.

But really, this book is all about empowerment (as the title hints at)–all about embracing your inner loves and following what you want to do.  In the book, which is chock full of pictures, she calls these coffee mug moment sand Photoshops her aphorisms onto mugs for our edification.  There’s also a lot of very funny pictures of herself from throughout her life. (more…)

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lifeSOUNDTRACK: FOO FIGHTERS-The Colour and the Shape (1997).

colourAfter the success of the debut album, Dave Grohl gathered a band and recorded the second album, The Colour and the Shape (British/Canadian spelling consistent wherever it was released).  The drums were recorded by a drummer (not the current drummer) but were eventually re-recorded over by Grohl.

“Doll” opens as a quiet 90 second intro.  It segues into the fantastic Hüsker Dü sounding “Monkey Wrench,” with one of the great super-long extended guitar riffs and a super long chanted single-syllable section ending on Grohl’s classic vocal cord shredding (whatever he’s saying) in the middle of the song.  “Hey Johnny Park” has a heavy opening and then some mellow verses.  The chorus is catchy with some cool harmony vocals over the top.

“My Poor Brain” opens with cacophonous noise and the segues into a rather delicate verse section.  Especially compared to the raucous punky guitars of the chorus.  “Wind Up” flips the dynamic with angry loud verses and a catchy chorus.

“Up in Arms” is a short song with a mellow acoustic first section and a fast second half.  Both are quite catchy and fun.  “My Hero” is yet another song in which Grohl finds multiple good parts and puts them in one song.  So while you’re enjoying the verses, don’t forget the catchy chorus coming up net.  Oh and the great bridge too.

“See You” is a jazzy folky number (quite short) which he says no one liked but him.  “Enough Space” opens with a lurching bass line and some really loud guitars.  The chorus is one of Grohl’s screamier moments on the record.  The verses are almost all bass guitar and remind me a lot of the Pixies.

“February Stars” starts with one of the quieter moments on a Foo Fighters record.   It builds over the first 3 minutes to a loud slow chorus.  “Everlong” is one of the bands best songs.  It opens with a cool little riff and big guitars.  The chord progression is wonderful and the gentle vocals at the beginning are fantastic.  Then comes that incredible hook of a riff.  No matter how many times I gear this song, I never get tired of it.

“Walking After You” is Grohl on everything–the whole band recorded it later for the X Files soundtrack.  It’s a lovely, gentle breakup song with a sweet riff and really nice vocals.  After “walking After You,” it’s surprising that there’s another song, (“Walking” seems like such a good album ender.  But “New Way Home” (which clocks in a nearly 6 minutes) starts out a little less than stellar and then turns out to end in a great fashion, with a loud fast repeat chorus of the “I’m Not Scared” section.

Amazingly, five singles were released from this album and it still holds up really well.

[READ: January 7, 2015] Life Sucks

In the beginning of the year I read a bunch of graphic novels from First Second, but never got around to posting them.  So here they are.

I wasn’t that excited to read this book because of the title–which seemed simply lame.  Interestingly, in the acknowledgments, she says it was originally called Night Shift (an equally poor title) and then someone else suggested Life Sucks.

Of course, once I realized the story was about vampires, the title was a little better and kind of funny.  Of course, I wasn’t all that excited to read a vampire story either (I loved Buffy, but vampires are kind of played out), but I enjoyed the way Abel focuses on some different aspects of the vampire life.  And of course, having a group of goths living nearby was a pretty great idea.

So the protagonist, Dave, is a vampire.   He was turned by the owner of The Last Stop convenience store, Lord Radu Arisztidescu.  But rather than being a brooding charismatic hottie, he’s a dorky kid (forever) who works at the convenience store.  He still gets grief from his boss who demands perfection in his “son” and who also has supernatural power over him to force him to do what he wants.  So, his undead life does indeed suck. (more…)

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gorey SOUNDTRACK: 1-SPEED BIKE-Droopy Butt Begone [CST014] (2000).

1speed1-Speed Bike is a remix project by Adian Girt who has played in Godspeed You Black Emperor and Exhaust for Constellation Records.  This is his first release as 1-Speed Bike.  He has released several more on other labels but I haven’t heard any of them.

The most interesting thing about this disc are the titles of the songs.  And those titles are so clever that it gives one high hopes for the album.  I don’t know who Mauro and Elwy are (track 1) but the rest are certainly interesting if not confrontational.

1. The Day That Mauro Ran Over Elwy Yost
2. Seattle/Washington/Prague 00/68 Chicago/Nixon/Reagan Circle-Fighting Machine
3. Yuppie Restaurant-Goers Beware Because This Song Is For The Dishwasher
4. Just Another Jive-Assed White Colonial Theft
5. Why Are All The Dogs Dying Of Cancer?
6. My Kitchen Is Tiananmen Square
7. Any Movement That Forgets About Class Is A Bowel Movement

But what’s disappointing is that the album is comprised almost entirely of a drum machine and some other sounds.  The drums are very very loud in the mix, and there’s very little variation in each song (which befits a remix, I suppose).  And yet, the “musical” section is largely nonexistent.  There’s a lot of spoken word stuff, which is fun, but it also seems randomly thrown on there. The disc opens with him asking someone to be quiet because he has to flush the toilet.  There’s a lengthy declaration of love for his family and war against capitalism.  And that everyone else can fuck off if they don’t want to hear him talk politics.

There are samples sprinkled around the disc, but most of them are inaudible or played with so much that it renders them hard to figure out.  There are some interesting sounds in “My Kitchen is Tienanmen Square,” but the rest is kind of dull.  The end of the last song offers a voice mail message that gives you the title of the album.

Overall, not an exciting debut for 1-Speed Bike.

[READ: April 12, 2014] The Strange Case of Edward Gorey

I bought this book many years ago when I was on an Alexander Theroux kick (which actually means I wanted to read some of his books but did not, although I do hope to).  Anyhow, this book has been staring at me for some time so I decided to just dive in.  I actually know precious little about Theroux except that his novel are supposed to be weird or difficult or something.  I know slightly more about Edward Gorey, although little more than his drawing style (which I love) and his sense of humor (which I share).

So this book is a sort of a biography of Gorey by Theroux.  Theroux was one of Gorey’s close friends.  This is saying something because as a rule Gorey was rather a recluse and didn’t much like people (he did like cats, though).  The book is not a proper biography–a biography of his works or even of his life.  It is more of a biography of the man and his quirks.  There’s very little about his childhood, and not a lot about his books (except for Theroux’s admiration).  But mostly its about what it was like to hang out with Gorey–and to delight in the baroque and fun turns of phrase that Gorey used.

We learn a lot about what he liked (soap operas, classic movies [Metropolis, M, Sunrise, Gold Digger series], obscure horror films [The Town That Dreaded Sunrise, Women of Straw, Suspiria (at least I’ve heard of that one)], TV shows [The X-Files, The Golden Girls, Matlock, Buffy the Vampire Slayer] and of course, classic literature [he was well versed in many original languages].  We also learn what he most assuredly did not like.  He did not like Star Wars, he did not like Mel Brooks, he did not like Robert Altman or Woody Allen [Gorey was a film critic for a time].  And as for our foremost actress, Meryl Streep, he has this to say:

“Oh please!” said he, every time she opens her mouth, the critics insist Dostoevsky’s speaking!” He paused. “And who’s even dippier is Glenn Close. Sexless as a teabag. Neither man, not woman, nor in-between! Julia Roberts’s face looks like it’s made of rubber — remember those Snap, Crackle and Pop cartoon faces? And of course Streisand. God help us, I won’t even go to see.”  Gorey loathed her with a passion, even more than John Waters does.  I once heard him fulminate for a good half-hour on the impossible stupidity of her 1962 hit, “People,” a song that, with its mawkish, politically correct soul-sharing, shrinkingly embodies to a T everything that Edward Gorey utterly loathed:  “Pee-pull, pee-pull who need pee-pull are the luuu-kiest pee-pull in the wooooooorld!.”  I cannot honestly think of a single sentiment that would have driven Edward Gorey battier faster than the flaccid lyrics of that song with its, to him, canasta-closeness, hideous interconnectedness, and ultimate meaninglessness.

He also hated Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Marquis de Sade’s writing, right-wing talk show hosts, every movie Al Pacino ever made [Of Bobby Deerfield he cried out during the movie, “oh for Christ’s sake…what is this in aid of?”] and Martha Stewart.  And while he had great disdain for Barbra Walters and Maya Angelou, he was especially appalled by “the invincible vulgarity of the preposterous Kathie Lee Gifford and the host of miniature faces she was constantly pulling” (20) saying: “her facial contortions would be excessive on Daffy Duck” (44).

One thing to note about the book.  As you can see form the page numbers above, similar sentiments about Gifford are on page 20 and 44.  Theroux tends to circle back onto the same topics a number of times.  So the same names tend to pop up three or four times (Buffy comes up at least 3).  It feels like Theroux (who published this soon after Gorey died) wrote it in fits and just needed to get down as much as possible.  And while the book feels repetitive, it never feels flaccid or like it’s full of padding.  It just feels like a huge outpouring of information.  Or like an essay collections by a person who tends to revisit similar material.

Interestingly, the book isn’t necessarily for fans of Gorey.  I honestly haven’t read any of his works in years, but I found this book funny and strangely cathartic (if you like bitchy, opinionated scholar-types).  If any of the above appeals, you’ll get a kick of out Gorey, whether you like his drawings or not.  The book is also full of Gorey’s drawings (although nothing new), from his books and from some of his posters.

I was also intrigued by the fact that Gorey, clearly no friend of people, did not shy away from the outside world.  He lived on Cape Cod and New York City where his number was in the phone book the whole time.  He walked around Manhattan in a big beard and fur coat (until he gave up the coat for animal rights reasons).  When he moved full time to Cape Cod, he lived in a residential area and did not turn away any fans (he always had manners even if he knew the whole thing was kind of silly).  And apparently his house was simply chock full of fascinating geegaws and gimcracks.

For all of his proclamations about others, he did not have a large ego about his own work.  And the book gives the impression that he was just an opinionated guy who knew what he liked and was happy to share his thoughts with others (or his cats).

I just found out that Theroux reissued this book in 2011 and updated it from 68 pages (my version) to 168 pages.  I don’t know how much has changed.  In looking online it seems like maybe all he has done is make the original pictures larger, but there may be other textual changes as well.

 

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tobo3SOUNDTRACK: iMOGEN HEAP-Speak for Yourself (2005).

heapI really liked Heap’s first album i Megaphone, but I didn’t really think to much about her after that.  Sometime last year I heard a track she was in with Frou Frou, which I liked.  So I thought I’d get this album which was highly regarded.

The problem with it is that I have listened to it a bunch of times, often several times in a row and it really just never sticks with me.  I keep relistening to see if it ever does but it’s just a kind of nebulous dancey pop.  Heap has an interesting voice–she can hit major highs, but she can also do a raspy voice that is unusual and intriguing.  But I suppose the problem is that there’s so much going on that she is effectively lost in the sound.

The standout track is “Hide and Seek” but that’s because her voice is manipulated by a vocoder, making her sound like a machine. It’s a very cool effect, especially when she hits a very high note, but it can’t really be a good sign that the most memorable track on the album is the one where you sound like a machine.

This is not to say that the album is bad–there are a number of interesting moments on it, unfortunately there aren’t a lot of great songs.  When I was looking this disc up to see other comments about it, I see that it was very highly regarded in the dance genre.  And maybe given those parameters I should revise somewhat as well.  As dance music this is more interesting than your average four on the floor stuff.  I can see how it led to the duet of Frou Frou.  And yet, compared to i Megaphone, I fear that it’s a lot less exciting.

[READ: January 12, 2013] The Dangerous Animals Club

I don’t often read autobiographies or memoirs.  I really never even look for them.  But I was waiting online at the library and this book jumped out at me.  I don’t really know why.  The title is kind of interesting and catchy.  And the author’s named seemed, if not familiar, then at least compelling in a very-long-and-Polish-or-Russian way.  So I started flipping through it.  And it sounded interesting.

But who the hell is Stephen Tobolowsky?  Well, if you have seen just about any movie or TV show, you have seen him.  He has been in a ton of things.  He was in Groundhog Day, he was in Heroes, he is in Glee, he was in The Mindy Project briefly.  Community? yup.  The New Adventures of Old Christine?  you bet.  Deadwood for a lot of the show.  That 70’s Show for one episode.  He was in the unaired pilot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  He was even in a 1976 movie called Keep My Grave Open!

So who is he?   (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FATHER JOHN MISTY-“Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” (2012).

This song is also on the list of NPR’s Top 50 songs of the year (so far).  It comes so far out of left field in terms of who the guy is and the way the music sounds that I can’t believe it made it to  their list.

Father John Misty is comprised of former Fleet Foxes dude J. Tillman.  I was bummed that the Foxes were not the original lineup anymore (although Tillman says he didn’t really want to be part of someone else’s vision, so that’s cool).  And if this is Tillman’s vision that  makes sense.

This is a simple guitar and drums kind of song;  There’s a ton of reverb (on the vocals, the guitars and especially the drums).  It has an incredibly retro feel.  It reminds me of someone like Pugwash, although it sounds nothing like them, really.  It feels like an older song (aside from the reverb, the guitar sounds very clean) and then the lyrics kick in: “Jesus Christ girl, what are people going to think”  And the song is all about death and cemeteries (“Someone’s gotta help me dig”).

I wasn’t sure about the song when I first listened, but then I couldn’t stop replaying it.  Yes the song is very simple–chord structures are pretty basic, but it feels so raw that it’s hard to stop listening–especially when the song starts to pick up more…instruments, and vocals, before it ends.

There’s a video for the song (in which Aubrey Plaza (from Parks and Rec) goes batshit crazy).  And the video version is a bit longer (a lengthy coda is added on).  Well, hell, here it is:

I will definitely have to hear more from this album.

[READ: June 23, 2012] “In Space No One Can Hear You Slay”

As I mentioned yesterday, The Guild was backed with a Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic for Free Comic Book Day.  I loved Buffy the show.  I loved Buffy the comics.  I loved the idea that Joss was keeping the series alive in the comic books.  And then somehow I fell behind in the series.  I haven’t really read much of Season 8 (some day…some day). So there was a little bit of a context issue for me here (very minor, but still there).

True context is kind of unnecessary here (except that I don’t know what Spike and Buffy are doing together–their past relationships are so complex, who knows where they may wind up).  Anyhow, as I said context is irrelevant because this issue takes place in…outer space.  That’s right, Spike suggest that Buffy go on a space vacation to see a nebula explode (what?).  Massive cerebral cortex confusion aside, this one-off does indeed see Buffy on a spaceship.  (more…)

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I was planning to wait until the season finales before writing about our spring/summer TV watching.  But then this week, NBC announced that they would be either not renewing or renewing in a very limited capacity 30 Rock, Community and Parks and Recreation.  Wow, talk about throwing a bomb on your programming.  Thursday night NBC has been a powerhouse for the last few years with 5 shows, (yes, five, with their crazy programming flip flops) that were strong.  Interestingly, The Office, the only show not chopped, has been the weakest of the bunch.  I wanted the season with Michael Scott to be good but it really wasn’t.

Since I first wrote that some more details have emerged and it seems that all three shows have been picked up for 13 episodes–with, as I gather, room to expand if the new shows that NBC tries to fill their shoes with suck.  If you want a positive spin on this, read the A.V. Club dude’s take on it (at the bottom of the post, final bullet point, although the whole post will tell you why it is such a good show if you’re not watching it.).

When I posted about TV last, Karen left a comment that we watch a lot of TV and that has stuck with me. I still don’t feel like we do…  We watch a lot of shows, but we don’t channel surf, we don’t just have the TV on.  We have appointment TV, is how I like to think of it.  And, of course, while there a lot of titles, many drop off the list (by us or the networks) and quite a few are only 13 episodes long.  But man, there has been a serious drop off in numbers after this season.

So let’s see what has been removed from the last post: (more…)

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