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Archive for the ‘Yo Gabba Gabba’ Category

[ATTENDED: May 17, 2018] Kid Koala’s Vinyl Vaudeville

I have been a fan of Kid Koala since the early 2000s.  He’s not a DJ so much as a magician on the turntable.  He is able to make vinyl do amazing things.  His hands are fast, his timing is impeccable and he uses puppets too!

But I had no idea that his live show would be so much fun.  I mean, sure it was called Vinyl Vaudeville, but could it live up to his calling it “the silliest show on earth?”  Well, I dispute the silliness aspect because silly implies that it’s not also awesome, which this definitely was.

So what exactly does a turntablist do so it’s not just a guy scratching records?

Well, primarily he uses props.  Almost every song has a visual element.  In fact the very first song started out in total darkness with a black light and a sloth puppet.  I don’t know what the song was called or if it had anything to do with sloths, but it was fun to watch.   (more…)

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squish1SOUNDTRACK: I’M FROM BARCELONA-“Just Because It’s Different Doesn’t Mean It’s Scary” (2009).

miaI like I’m From Barcelona, although I don’t know too much about them.

This song opens with ukuleles (or small guitars anyhow) and a big farty bass line. It offers a sensible lyric about things being different and offers suggestions of new things you might enjoy, like fruit or a park.

The band has some fun backing vocals (“let’s taste it baby”), (“run run run run”) and have made a fairly complex song out of what is a very simple concept.

For these Yo Gabba Gabba songs I have to wonder if the bands have taken old songs and made them kid friendly or if they have written all new (fairly complex) songs just for the show.

This is a good one.

[READ: May 16, 2014] Squish: Super Amoeba

I thought I had written about all five of the Squish books so far (there’s a sixth one coming soon).  Except, I realized, that I never wrote about the first one.  So, here, three years after I first read it (I received it as a prepub for crying out loud, so I’ve had it for over three years), I’ve read it again for this post.

I hadn’t even read Babymouse when I read this book, although in retrospect it’s easy to see the similarities between the two (especially in the drawing style).  Of course, while Babymouse is colored primarily in pink, Squish is colored primarily in green.  And of course, Babymouse is a girl and Squish is a boy (well, a boy amoeba, but still a boy).  But there are kid friendly hardships and valuable (if not necessarily obvious) lessons to be learned.

All the characters who have been with us for the duration of the other books were introduced here: Pod another amoeba, who is Squish’ best friend and who is super smart, Peggy (a paramecium) who is happy all the time and Principal Planaria, who is a flatworm (and like all flatworms is really crosseyed).  This issue also introduces us to The Adventures of Super Amoeba, the comic book which Squish loves and the guy who acts as a role model for Squish. (more…)

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18SOUNDTRACK: THE SHINS-“It’s Okay, Try Again” (2009).

mia“Sometime you win, sometimes you lose.  But it’s okay, you try it again.”

A simple idea that no kid will ever believe in no matter how many times he or she hears this song.  Nevertheless, the song is poppy and fun, it’s pure Shins and it is infectious.

The song also feels a lot longer than 2 minutes.  They have really packed a lot into their choruses and verses (and middle third).

Yo Gabba Gabba has been excellent at getting great bands to play simple quickie songs for their records (and shows).

[READ: May 16, 2014] Happy Birthday, Babymouse

It’s hard for me to believe that it took 18 books before Babymouse had a birthday!  I got a chuckle out of the fact that in the book it acknowledges that we don’t even know how old she is [and that they break the fourth wall, too].

As the book opens, Babymouse imagines a full-on Times Square countdown for her birthday.  But that only makes sense because every other birthday that she has had in recent years was a disaster (no idea what season it’s supposed to be in since the disasters span just about everything you can imagine).

But this year she is planning something epic–she sends out a mailbox-filling pile of invitations (including to people in the Squish series–nice cross platform mixing there).  Everyone gets invited except for the gnomes–“they’re too troublesome.”  Of course then comes the dreadful information–Felicia Furrypaws is having her party on the same exact day.  And it promises to be everything Babymouse dreamed her party would be. (more…)

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13SOUNDTRACK: JACK BLACK-The Goodbye Song (2009).

jbI love that Jack Black is a terribly terribly profane man, and yet he has also made a huge career out of doing kids shows and movies.  True Tenacious D are practically child men anyhow, but to think that the guy who sang some of those really dirty songs is also Kung Fu Panda?  Or the sweet guy saying goodbye to everyone in Yo Gabba Gabba land?

This song is, like most Yo Gabba Gabba songs, incredibly simple and repetitive (it’s mostly chorus singing goodbye) but each verse has one of the characters from the show singing a simple verse and JB saying something in return.

There’s nothing especially great about this song (you want it more for the visuals), it’s just always fun to hear Jack be funny and silly–and to rock out at the end.

[READ: May 9, 2014] File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents

I knew that his book was coming out and I was pretty sure it was Book 3 in the All the Wrong Questions series because, well, because it came out during the series and it was illustrated by Seth.  But it is not part of the series at all.  Well, that’s not true.  It is sort of part of the series.

It is set in Stain’d by the Sea.  Lemony Snicket is there with his mentor S. Theodora and all of the characters we have met so far in the series are here as well.  But this is a series of unfortunate incidents in which Lemony Snicket helps to solve some crimes or, if not crimes, at least possible crimes.  Thing of it as a short story interlude from All the Wrong Questions.  And yet, even though that seems dismissive, it is a great and fun read.

So despite being a little disappointed that this wasn’t the next book in the series (I’m quite hooked) I really enjoyed these short “cases.”  It also turns out that the “bonus” story that came in the Barnes & Noble edition of Book 2 is one of these incidents.  I didn’t enjoy it that much as a “bonus” story, but I found it far more enjoyable this time in the context of Snicket trying to figure things out here. (more…)

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39SOUNDTRACK: THE ROOTS-“Lovely, Love My family” (2009).

miaThe Roots are known for many many things–most recently being the house band for Jimmy Fallon.  They do intelligent hip hop, but they also play “neo-soul” and this fun sorta-ska-like sweet song from the first Yo Gabba Gabba Music is Awesome CD.

It’s 2 minutes of poppy happiness. It’s fun to see ?uestlove bopping along, and to see the whole band in front of these bright colors.

This song is utterly catchy, with smart fun lyrics that are easy to sing along to And unlike some of the Yo Gabba Gabba songs it’s not terribly repetitive.  It’s even got a tuba solo.

Check it out:

[READ: May 6, 2014] The Dead of Night

I was pretty excited to get into this third book of the series, but something about this book burnt me out a bit.  It may have been because it was increasingly dark.  Or maybe that Atticus was in trouble from the get go and had to do a lot of work by himself–that seemed somehow more difficult to read than Dan and Amy working together.  It also seemed to have a bit less humor than the other books–like this one was all down to business, or that the stakes were higher or something.

Indeed, the book opens with Atticus in the back of the truck being taken away by the evil Wyoming kids.  They know he is a Guardian, even if he doesn’t know quite what that means. They are taking him somewhere in secret–which involves an airplane.  How is he ever going to notify anyone of where he is?  But it turns out that Dan and Amy aren’t the only techie kids, and soon Atticus has a way of signaling his friends that he has been taken to Turkey.

Meanwhile Amy is feeling especially guilty for everything that has happened–she’s supposed to be the senior family member in charge.  And Jake isn’t helping with that.  At the same time Dan keeps getting texts from AJT–the man he believes to be his father.  And they are making his mood even darker. (more…)

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medusaSOUNDTRACK: PETER BJORN & JOHN-“I Wish I Was a Spy” (2012).

awesome4Yo Gabba Gabba has always been a source of interesting music–very cool bands devote time and music to this, frankly bizarre kids show.

This song from Peter Bjorn and John is fantastic.  While the lyrics are kid friendly, there’s no reason that this song need be played only for kids.

The song opens with a good vibrato “spy” guitar lick and vocal breaths.  The unusual percussion really shows how much this song sounds like a PB&J song even if it is of a very specific genre.  When the vocals come in (sounding very PB&J), the lyrics simply state that he wishes he was a spy, and then he gives some great examples of what he would do as a spy.

But the big surprise comes from the chorus which s bright and bouncy and talks about how we can all pretend we are all agents.

The Yo Gabba Gabba version ends at 2 minutes, but the extended version has more instrumental surf/spy guitar work.  It’s kind of an extraneous coda, but the sound they capture is really cool, so it’s fun to get the extra minute of guitar work.

[READ: May 6, 2014] The Medusa Plot

When I finished Vespers Rising, I said I would pace myself because the Cahills vs. Vespers series was six book which would conclude in March 2013.  Clearly I paced myself too slowly because here it is May 2014, Cahils vs. vespers is long done, and they are on the next series already.

But hey, I’m not playing the online game so there’s no time constraints for me.

Also, Clark started reading the original series so I wanted to keep a little ahead of him.  It seemed like a good time to start this middle series.

And man, once I started reading I was immediately brought back into the exciting world of Dan and Amy Cahill.  I had forgotten about the short story in Vespers Rising (about the ring that Amy now has) and about the Vespers in general.  But that didn’t matter, because it was quickly set up that the Vespers (led by the unknown V-1) in particular are bad and they will stop at nothing to achieve their goal (which we don’t know yet).

It has been two years since the end of the 39 Clues.  As the book opens, several members of the disparate Cahill family clan are kidnapped: Fiske Cahill, Reagan Holt, Natalie Kabra (who, with her brother is now poor since their evil mother disowned them for not being evil enough), Alistair Oh (no!) and Ted Starling (his brother Ned escaped), Phoenix Wizard (Jonah’s little cousin) and, gasp, Nellie Gomez!  They are taken to an undisclosed location, given jumpsuits and left in a small cell with nothing to do and minimal food on a regular basis. (more…)

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ricky1.2SOUNDTRACK“WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-Alapalooza (1993).

Weird_Al_Yankovic_-_AlapaloozaAlapalooza came out hot on the heels of Off the Deep End.  I was in college, the perfect time for a “Weird Al” rebirth.  And the fact that “Jurassic Park” and “Bedrock Anthem” had a great videos (and my college cafe played MTV), meant I got to see these videos quite a bit.  (So I was surprised to read recently that this album didn’t sell like gangbusters (it went gold whereas Off the Deep End went platinum)).

“Jurassic Park” is a crazy wonderful parody–a spoof on the crazy song “MacArthur Park,” a song that I like a lot because it is over the top and absurd, although truth be told, I like “Jurassic Park” better.

“Young Dumb and Ugly” is a heavy metal song this is certainly dumb.  This is one that parodies a style so well that it’s actually not a very fun song to listen to.  “Bedrock Anthem” is a Red Hot Chili Peppers mashup/parody with the intro from “Under the Bridge” melding into a rocking parody of “Give It Away.”  I’m not exactly sure that it works as a parody (the Yabba Dabba part is a wee bit forced) but the song rocks well and Al and co. do a great job with it.

I never much liked “Frank’s 2000″ TV.”  I’m surprised to read (Wikipedia) that it’s a style parody of early R.E.M.  I can kind of hear it but compared to some of his other style parodies, I don’t think it really works.  “Achy Breaky Song” is the most apt song, lyrically, ever: “Don’t play that song, that achy breaky song, the most annoying song I know.”  It’s surprisingly mean about the song it is parodying and it turns out the proceeds from the track were donated to United Cerebral Palsy, as both Cyrus and Yankovic felt that the song was “a little bit, well, mean-spirited.”  “Traffic Jam” is a synthy number that sounds like it’s from the 80s.

“Talk Soup” was commissioned as a new theme for the show Talk Soup.  Although the producers approved the lyrics and enjoyed the final result, they decided against using it.  Which I can understand as it would make a terrible TV theme song.  It sounds a bit like Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer.

“Livin’ in the Fridge” is a fun parody of Aerosmith and it really sounds like them.  This parody works both as a twist on the original and lyrically–it’s very funny.  “She Never Told Me She was a Mime” is a weird original.  It doesn’t sound like any other bands, and is kind of a classic rock type of song.  The lyrics are pretty funny, but not all that funny.  And there’s not all that much to enjoy musically.

“Harvey the Wonder Hamster” is an awesome anthem which at 21 seconds, can be enjoyed again and again and again.  It’s funny that I felt that “Talk Soup” sounded like Peter Gabriel because “Waffle King” is actually a style parody of Gabriel.  This is a weird song because the verses are good, but the chorus falls kind of flat.  But the final song is a wonderful twist on Al’s usual polka medley.  This is a polka version of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  I read complaints that it sounds too much like the original (which it doesn’t) but it’s a testament to Al’s skill as a mimic that he can make his crazy polka version (which is much faster and with lots of his silliness thrown in) sounds so much like queen.  It’s certainly an Al highlight.

After this release, Al put out Al in the Box a 4 CD box set and then a series of greatest hits type albums–an actual Greatest Hits and then a collection of Food Songs and TV Songs.  I would never have bought the Food album except that I got to meet him after a show and I wanted something for him to autograph (which he did).  He was super duper nice and very cool.

[READ: February 22, 2013] Ricky Ricotta Books 7

Dav Pilkey planned to do nine books in this series (with Martin Ontiveros adding pictures).  According to Wikipedia, he had serious family emergencies for a while, which is why such a prolific author had literally no output for a number of years (from 2007-2010).  It also explains why book 7 is the last book that Pilkey has written in the series.  But the good news is that he’s back writing and that the eighth book is due out in December.

Of 2014.  Oh.

Well, in the meantime we have this book to enjoy.  Ricky and the Mighty Robot are learning what is fun and what is not fun (most of the things that Ricky likes to do are too small  for the robot to do and are consequently not fun for him).  Meanwhile, Uncle Unicorn lives on Uranus.  And he has turned it into a universe-wide dumping ground for toxic waste. I really liked seeing that all of the other bad guys from the series had a cameo dumping their stuff on Uranus.

But then Uncle Unicorn has had enough of the trash and he wants to leave.  He plans on going to Earth, but he knows that Mighty Robot is his major enemy.  So he sends Mighty Robot a gift–a Ladybot who immediately hypnotizes him and chains him up.  And now Ricky is alone. (more…)

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