Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Fire’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: CHRIS WALLA AND J. ROBBINS-Create ‘Mercury’ (Project Song: October 12, 2009).

Project Song was a nifty little show that NPR Music created.  The premise was that NPR would give a musician some prompts and a recording studio.  They then had two days to write and record a song.  I don’t know how much of the process was to be filmed, but presumably most of it. Then it would be edited down to a fifteen minute show.  The results are pretty cool and it’s a shame they only made five of them.

The fourth one they did was over a year and a half after the previous one.  This Project was offered to Chris Walla (of Death Cab for Cutie) and a performer he’d admired, J. Robbins (of Jawbox and Burning Airlines).

What made this project especially difficult was that the two had never even met before they stepped into NPR’s performance studio.

I supplied some inspiration for their song: photo collages created by artist Tom Chambers [The picture are really, really cool]. They chose a photograph of a house in a canyon filled with water, tilted and flooded. Not far from the house is a dog on a boat, floating either toward or away from the house. I also supplied a series of words. They selected the word “cerebral” and promised when they wrote the song not to be too cerebral about it.

Unlike the pairing from Georgie James, this pair is instantly excited at the possibilities–changes and ideas.

Robbins says he will not write any lyrics, it takes him a month and a half to hone them,

But it didn’t take long for Robbins to pick up his bass guitar, for Walla to pick up a guitar, and for the two to begin their musical friendship.

They were inspired by JG Ballard and his drowned world series. In these books there are people who know the world is dying but they embrace it as a forward movement into the unknown

J. get a great bass line right away (its sounds very Death Cab, interestingly).  Bob asks about the music and J. says the music sounds like a dog on a boat heading towards a half-submerged house.  And Walla is singing the word “mercury.”

Walla and Robbins were joined by Robbins’ friend, drummer Darren Zentek.

He adds a wonderful beat and the song sounds great.  They get excited filling out the possibilities–end on the bridge!

Walla goes off by himself to write lyrics.  And Robbins works on a piano part.  And then things really come together when Walla picks up the 12 string.

The song they created, “Mercury,” takes its subject matter from that photograph, which is a bit of a cataclysmic scenario turned into a song about the climate crisis.

The result has a definite Death Cab feel, but with Robbins and Walla alternating lead vocals it is a different, wonderful thing.

[READ: July 23, 2018] “I Walk Between the Raindrops”

This story centers around Valentine’s Day.  But it’s a T.C. Boyle story so there’s always something else to look forward to.

I love the way this story opens with Brandon the narrator telling us.

This past Valentine’s Day, I was in Kingman, Arizona, with my wife, Nola, staying in the Motel 6 there, just off the I-40. You might not think of Kingman as a prime location for a romantic getaway (who would?), but Nola and I have been married for fifteen years now, and romance is just part of the continuum….  Were we slumming?  Yes, sure.  We could have stayed anywhere we liked…and if it’s not ideal, at least it’s different.

They were there because Nola’s father lives nearby and they decided to pay a visit and to let Nola search for antiques.  They went to Denny’s (the only place her father will eat), and after eating, Nola went antiquing and Brandon went to a bar to wait for her.

It’s not unfriendly (despite some graffiti like “fuck you, liberal pussies” (which he chooses to take as ironic), but he doesn’t order a Pinot Noir or anything.  (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (May 25, 2017).

Second of four shows at The Horseshoe Tavern dubbed Spring Nationals. First Time played live for the new songs Rear View (Tim), Here Come The Wolves (Dave B), AC/DC On My Radio (Dave B/Dave C).
Lineup is:
Dave Bidini / Dave Clark / Hugh Marsh / Ford Pier / Martin Tielli / Tim Vesely

The show starts with a kind of quiet, hushed version of “Stolen Car” with cheers for Hugh’s violin solo at the end of the song. And then Martin introduces “Ford Kristofferson on the keyboards” (Man I wish I could see what Ford looks like).

Someone shouts “Rheos rule” and Clark comments, “if we did, there’d be world peace.”

They play a wonderful combination of “King Of The Past” (Clark: King of the Pasta) and “Northern Wish.”

The crowd whoops and Dave says that that is the appropriate sound for the new song.  Clark: “It’s called “Confused Wolf.”  The song is really called “Here Come The Wolves” and it’s a powerful song with great toms and violins.

This one [“P.I.N.”] is called “Snakes on a Plane.”

Clark says “Big thanks to Dani Nash and her rocking band.  She also drums for the Samantha Martin Band.  She is a wicked drummer and a knockout visual artist, too.

[We’re skipping a song on the setlist, shhh–they were going to play “Bridge Comes Tumbling Down”].  They “bridge” to “Music Is The Message” and as Tim says, “we played a bunch of new songs last night and playing them again tonight and they’re completely different.  It’s awesome.”

Dave B: We’ll try to play this next song (Dave’s “Mountains And The Sea”) well for once.

Clark says “That is the first chord of Dust in the Wind, right?  It was a hit for them, why not us?”

There was a lengthy solo from Hugh including a funny bit where he holds off on playing notes busting all the anticipation.

Martin comments: “I’ll call you David from now on.”
DB: “Are you mad at me?”
MT: “No it’s jut you insist on that….  Don’t Davids bug you?  Or Mikes who insist on being called Michael.”
DB: “I’d like to send that out to Michael Philip Wojewoda who is here tonight.”
MT: “I’ve always hated that about Michael Phillip.”
Tim: The only thing worse that David is “Daveed”
Clark: “And yet David Durango is one of the nicest guys going.” (I can’t figure out who they are talking about).
MT: He’s the only guy who almost drummed for Nick Buzz.  A Band with a “no drummer” policy.”
DS: “No drummer policy? Where do I sign up?”

Tim will surprise us with an instrument change…
Someone in the audience: “Polka the shit out of us, Tim!”
DB: “There’s heavy male patter presence, which must be offset at some time.”

Tim is on “the gentleman’s instrument” for “What’s Going On Around Here?”  It sounds great to hear again, although Tim says, “that accordion was exhaling musty basement smell in my face. It’s been down there a long time.”

Up next is a duet with Hugh and Tim (on acoustic) doing “Bad Time To Be Poor” it’s very cool to hear it this way.

Dave announced the last new song of the night.  “I know you want to hear new songs but you get worried, I hope they play the one I like.  But you’re such an elastic forgiving crowd, you’ll let us do anything.”
Tim: ” Wednesday’s crowd were a bunch of assholes.”
(Someone in audience: “I’m never coming back.”)
Tim: “This is the best crowd ever.”
Martin: “Maybe the penultimate.  There was one other that was better.  They were so good.  I loved them.  I dream about them.”

Tim tells a story about opening for The Hip and getting ambivalent and odd crowds.  We expected that.  There was no abuse.

But Dave B says they played in Quebec in purple and orange jackets and people laughed… they got it!  We should be bigger in Quebec.

Martin says in New Brunswick somebody threw something at us.  Martin says he picked it up and whipped it right back at them.
But Dave says at another show, something hit Martin and he got pissed, but it was a T-shirt that said “We love you Rheostatics.”

Tim: “The moral of the story… Fucking Rheostatics fans.”

They play a wonderful “The Albatross” which is really gelling live and then a solid “Legal Age Life At Variety Store” (with an introduction to Tim Mech).  Dave shouted that he end, the Eagleson ripped off Bobby Orr line and Tim shouted “can’t you ever get over that?” During “Self Serve Gas Station” Martin sings “What went wrong with Ford?”

After some banter they’re on to “Shaved Head” which sounds great even though Martin misses a lyric.  It doesn’t throw him, although he does apologize later.

The pretty ending gets cut off but only by a little I’d guess. And they go for an encore.

After the break Dave Clark comes out to sing an a capella version of “Johnny’s Got A Problem” by D.I.   The crowd is really into it and sings along.

As soon as Martin starts playing the crazy guitar intro to “When Winter Comes” someone in the crowd goes crazy “Oh my God!  Oh my God!”  It sounds great to hear again as well.

They end the night with a song “co-written by Paul Quarrington.  Go to a library and take out one of his books.”  A lovely version of “Claire.”

It seems like maybe there might be more, but that’s where the recording ends.  The new songs have been getting better and better, and the band is having a lot of fun up there.  Dave Clark is even being a bit more silly, but nothing like he was back in the old days.

[READ: May 18, 2018] “Candidate”

This is a story of a man who works for a presidential candidate.

It is told in first person in the present and in flashbacks.

The flashbacks talk about how he and his best friend Spencer were marginal kids in school.  Spencer in particular was a somewhat shunned individual–he could have been in the Trench Coat Mafia.  But while the narrator and Spencer shared the same views and ideas, the narrator passed more easily with the other kids. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (May 24, 2017).

After decades of live Rheostatics shows, this one finally catches up to just one year ago today.  Which means that after this four-night run, the only unmentioned shows from Rheostatics Live are ones from this past December.

I really wanted to get to these shows in person, but four nights in May in Toronto is not easy for me to swing.

First of four shows at The Horseshoe Tavern dubbed Spring Nationals. Dave Bidini, Dave Clark, Martin Tielli, Tim Vesely, featuring Hugh Marsh on Violin and Ford Pier on Vocals and Keyboards. In addition to the newer songs that they played in the Winter, they debuted three new songs: Rear View (Tim), Here Come The Wolves (Dave B), AC/DC On My Radio (Dave B/Dave C).

This show is “only” 2 hours long, which is something of a surprise, but maybe not for a Wednesday night.  The sound quality is great and there is a ton of hilarious banter.

“Saskatchewan” takes a while to start but it’s worth the wait as Martin and everyone else sound terrific.  Interestingly, the music sounds somewhat different with the keys and violin.  Not radically different, but noticeable.

Martin says, “That was called ‘Saskatchewan’ we wrote it in the 1940s.”

Next up is Dave Clark’s newish song “Super Controller.”  There’s a long fiddle intro before the big “bah bah bah bah dah dah dah dah.”  It segues right into “Soul Glue” where everyone does their parts wonderfully–especially the vocals.

The Daves offer a “big shout out to Friendly Rich” for opening the show and congratulations to Rich for some awesome music games for people to play.  He’s loving and kind and he’ll hug you….  but only if you ask him to.

Dave: “Great to see you all on Wednesday night–the first of 4 shows.  We’ve got opening night jitters.  Not really, we’re mailing it in.”
Martin:  “I’ve got the jitters.”
Martin to Dave: “You’re the most nervous driver I know.  No, your driving makes the most people nervous, but you are the opposite of the uptight driver.  You dance with the car.”
Dave: “Hugh and Martin don’t drive.  They’re both totally way too smart to drive.”
Martin: “We care too much about the planet.”

Pointing to the keyboards: Dave: “That’s Ford Pier.  We can’t decide if he looks like Kris Kristofferson, Kenny Loggins and… who’s the third person?”
Dave C: “I said he looks like Ronnie King from the Stampeders.”
Ford: “Who said Michael Phillip?  That’s who I was going for.”

Next up is “P.I.N.” which sounds very pretty with the violin.

Then there’ a pretty, mournful, almost Slavic violin and guitar opening to a mellow song played for the first time, Dave B’s: “Here Come The Wolves” (7:11).  Once the thundering drums kick in it’s got a kind of Jethro Tull quality.  It’s long and compartmentalized and ends with chants and tom toms.

Once it ends, Dave says, “New songs are scary, which is a good thing.”
Audience Member: (It was great)
Dave B: “Oh geez… that’s not what I was fishing for, but thank you.”
Dave C: “I liked it because I noticed Tim is howling.”
Tim: “I’d like to say that old songs are terrifying too.”
Dave B: “When you’re on the accordion.”
Dave C: “I only recently learned the next song “Sickening Song” is about sex.
Martin: “With the lowering of sexual drive comes the perception of subtlety.”

There’s a whole bit about sex and cum and ever so much more. It’s quite funny.

Then Martin gets on a long rant about the movie Urgh: A Music War.  He speaks of it lovingly as a good cross-section, of good and bad bands from the era.  Bands were very diverse.  There was no one style.  The music was free.  I love that.  So does my brother, John.

Dave Clark: “As Annie Hall would say, ‘Well, La di dah.'”
DB: “I’m going to turn off the Martinator.”‘
Tim: “I liked stage-fright Martin a lot better.” [much laughter on that].

Martin can take the joke and informs us that “Tim’s gonna accompany me on the gentleman’s instrument” (the accordion) for “Sickening Song.”  It’s great to hear this older, more unusual song.

Fave mentions that they have the new “Brave New Waves”–the first ever band on the show back in 1988 and “we sound very energetic and enthusiastic and it’s  got Dave Clark rapping on it.  It’s worth the $75.  No it’s not $75.”

Next up is Tim’s new song, “Music Is The Message.”  This is a really enjoyable version of this song, the other instruments come to the fore and Hugh Marsh’s violin is wonderful.  It’s followed by a brand new Tim song (first time plated) “Rear View” (4:16).  This one is a bit more upbeat and folkie-sounding.  Martin even acknowledges: I like that one, Tim.”
Tim: “That was a first for that one live.”

[Dave puts down the guitar and sings into jut the mic]: “It’s about to become a Corky and the Juice Pigs gig, you realize.”

He continues: “There will be no spoken word tonight sir, we will express our thoughts in melody and song.  When you go hand-held, the stand is your friend.  This is a song about coming to a new land.  “Mountains And The Sea” is a pretty song although it might be too much for Dave to sing by himself–there’s some notes that he strains with. I could see it more for Tim or Martin.  But the melody is nice and the middle improv violin section is quite cool.

Martin is back for “California Dreamline” and he sounds great.  And then comes “Claire.”  For the first time in a long time, there’s no acoustic opening, it just starts and rocks on.”

Dave starts to talk about the Rock and Roll Journey Train that their management dreamed up.  Take you up north on our journey train.
Clark: Loving, touching, hugging, squeezing.
Martin’s reaction is great: “What?  What are you talking…?”

Dave: We’re about 4 an a half songs from the end.  Did you randomly say nine more?  Then we will break for…
Tim: “A day.”

Tim: “Be excited for the next song its like 5 in one.”
Dave: “It’s a value added composition…”
Tim: “A Groupon song.”

And then there’s this amusing discourse:

This next song features Hugh Marsh on the violin.  It doesn’t, but still it seemed like a good time to mention it.

Dave Clark: The Satchel Page of the violin… Hugh Marsh.
Dave B: “He’s got a few years before he can we can all him that, Dave.”
DC: “Ok, The Ellen Page of the violin!
Martin: “The Ayn Rand of the violin!”
Ford: “That sounds like a shitty thing to be.”
DB: “Ford Pier, the Geraldine Page of the keyboard.”
Ford: “That’s equally shitty.”
DB: “Tim Vesley, The Stephen Page of the bass, see its just getting lower and lower isn’t it.”
Martin [clearly not getting the “page” part of the joke] “Dave Bidini, the Daryl Hannah of the rhythm guitar.”
[pause]
Martin: “I’m waiting, I want one.”
DC: “The Suzanne Somers of the guitar.”

Then they discuss how much good Suzanne Somers has done for people.

Dave B asks Dave C: “Remember The Alan Hamel Show Dave?  Wasting away, thinking about ending it all?”
Martin doesn’t know it.
DB: “It’s peak Canadian afternoon television.”

Then Dave asks for a gin and tonic.

Martin explains that “The Albatross” is based on a poem by Baudelaire and then mentions a song by The Godfathers with the lyric, “I don’t read Baudelaire.”

Then there’s a discussion about The Beachcombers and the Bigfoot double episode–all shows about Bigfoot have to be double length.  Martin says “a presented theory is that Bigfoot ritually bury their dead in Alaskan glaciers.”

Dave B: “I’m not getting my G&T am I?  That was ten minutes of patter….”

It’s the most fun version of “The Albatross” yet.

It’s followed by “A song about hockey and sex and being gay…yeah. you;ll see.”  Its a fun version of “Queer” with lots of backing vocals and the keyboards (or violin) doing all kinds of crazy sound effects.  The song builds up into Dave B’s new song (first time played) ” AC/DC On My Radio” (4:03) which is a much more rocking but still simple song.  Clark sings the middle verse.

After an encore, Dave sings “My First Rock Concert.”  He mentions Meatloaf and says “he just wont go away…”    Tim asks, “Did you see anybody else?  Frank Sinatra?”  Dave: “Sinatra wasn’t that big in the new wave scene.”

Martin plays a lovely version of “Stolen Car” which segues into a blistering “RDA” which they have to stop because it’s only a warm up.  Then they do it again, even better.

Dave says good night, but they play the conclusion of ‘Queer’ as Dave Clark introduces everyone in a real DJ voice.  Martin launches into the “Green Sprouts Theme” although with no fast part before it segues back into “Queer” to end the night.

The band sounds fantastic and rejuvenated.  I really must try to get to see them next time they play The Horseshoe.

[READ: May 18, 2018] “Artifacts”

Geoffrey works at a history museum in the Yukon.  There was a room dedicated to the gold rush of 1989 with rusty pans and pickaxes. But more interesting to him was the prehistory room next door: Beringia, it was called, that place where the ice wasn’t.

The room held replicas of giant sloth, giant short faced-bear and a mammoth.  Animals that were familiar, yet not.

Geoffrey was dating a woman, Ida, who had moved to the Yukon because she was “into ice ages.”  She had heard of Beringia even though he, who had studied anthropology. had not.  She was somewhat cold and inflexible like a museum exhibit.

The crux of this story involves a meeting between scientists, environmentalists and Janice, Geoffrey’s boss.  She is determined not to cave to the environmentalists who want an exhibit to address glob.  Janice may have believed in global warming but “what belongs in my museum is another matter altogether.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: KING CRIMSON-The Elements Of King Crimson – 2015 Tour Box (2015).

The Elements box set has become a tour staple since the band reformed in 2014.  This is the second set and it contains another fascinating cross section of music from throughout Crimson’s existence.

In addition to the music, these sets contain a booklet that is chock full of pictures and usually an essay that gives context to what you’re about to hear.

It also includes the seven Principles of King Crimson

  1. May King Crimson bring joy to us all. Including me.
  2. If you don’t want to play a part, that’s fine!
  3. Give it to someone else – there’s enough of us.All the music is new, whenever it was written.
  4. If you don’t know your note, hit C#.
  5. If you don’t the time, play in 5. Or 7.
  6. If you don’t know what to play, get more gear.
  7. If you still don’t know what to play, play nothing.

Of the four boxes, I think this is my favorite–although the second disc of 2017 is pretty awesome.  I really enjoy the first half of the first disc.  It’s all instrumental (even tracks that have words are instrumental versions).  It’s a great collection of  sometimes pretty, sometimes not, 70s prog rock.

The eight-minute instrumental version of “Epitaph” (Steven Wilson 2015 instrumental mix) is gorgeous.  Even though I like the words just fine, there’s something really thrilling about removing them on this song.  “Catfood” is (somewhat obviously) a rather goofy lyric, so hearing this complex song without words is also a treat.  “Bolero – The Peacock’s Tale” is listed as a Tony Levin overdub.  I don’t know exactly what that means, as it is taken from the Lizard recording sessions, but the song is lovely.

In addition to longer, complete songs, the Elements sets feature short snippets.  Like the two-minute extract of “Islands” (with oboe).  Or the four-minute jazzy “A Peacemaking Stint Unrolls” which is clearly the foundation for “Lark’s Tongues in Aspic.”

Although the set is largely chronological, there’s an excerpt from the 2014 tour rehearsals in which Fripp discusses how the band knows all of their parts.  They give a mellow example of how he and Jakko will play “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (Part II)” which is followed by the full 6 minute version from 1974.  It’s followed by an 11 minute live version of “Fracture” from 1974 (the previous box’s version was from 1973).

There’s a “guitar extract” of “One More Red Nightmare” (less than a minute long)  from 1974 followed by a full performance of the song from 2014 which doesn’t feel like a jump of forty years in any way.

The disc jumps to the 1980s era with an extended remix of “Elephant Talk” followed by 1981’s “Absent Lovers.”

1983’s “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part III/Sleepless” is staggeringly good.

Disc Two suffers a bit in comparison, which I find surprising as I really like the later era of King Crimson–the more metal sounding stuff is really intense.

I enjoyed the first part–the late 1990s; work.  “Jurassic THRAK” sounds huge, and 2014’s drum solo “The Hell Hounds of Krim” works fine as a connector to the next four songs which highlight the late 90’s abrasive guitars.  It’s about 20 minutes of noisy coolness. “VROOOM,” “Coda: Marine 475” and “ProjeKction” (Performed by ProjeKct Four) all showcase that complicated music really delightfully.

Then things start to slow down somewhat. “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic – Part IV/the construKction of light” suffers in my mind because of the smallness of the band.  With only four members playing, the song doesn’t feel like a huge organism, it feels more like two guitarists playing next to each other.  Mind you, it sounds amazing if you can get away from the fact that it doesn’t feel terribly “full.”  Of course, I may be just spoiled from the great versions of LTIA I’ve seen with the 7-piece band.

Things really slow down and chill out for “Sus-Tayn-Z” (Performed by ProjeKct X), “Power to Believe,” “Ex Uno Patres” and the nine minute exceedingly mellow (with vocals) “The Light of Day.”  I do not love this style of Crimson.  It works as a palette cleanser between heavy songs, but too much is too much.

The “Ba Ba Boom Boom” drum solo and “ATTAKcATHRAK” ramp things up with the kind of noise that segues nicely into the blistering 2014 version of “21st Century Schizoid Man.”

This box set once again demonstrates that King Crimson is a multi-headed beast, liable to go in any direction at any time.

[READ: January 6, 2018] Heroes of the Frontier

Somehow I missed that Eggers had written this book. I saw it in the bookstore recently and immediately grabbed it and devoured it.

I was worried that it was going to be a woman-moves-off-the-grid-and-life-gets-better story, but it’s not that at all.  It’s far more complicated and a bit more unsettling.

Josie is a dentist in Ohio.  But as we meet her, she and her children are riding in a crappy rented RV through the highways of Alaska.

Josie has a large sum of cash with her.  She had been sued by a patient for a sum she could not afford.  Rather than trying to raise th e money to save her practice or giving it over to woman, she sold her practice in total to a dentist friend.  So now, she has the cash and, temporarily, no future.

She was also in a terrible relationship.  Her children’s father, Carl, had taken off on them.  He was always aloof and a loser, but this disappearance to Florida was something else entirely.

She took her kids, Paul (8) and Ana (5) and got outta Dodge.  The children are an interesting pair.  Paul is nurturing and worrying, especially about his sister. He looks after her more closely than their mother ever does.  Ana, meanwhile, is a disaster–she seems to have a natural gift for how to break something–she can find the weak point of any structure or situation and cause havoc wherever she goes–and Paul is happy to fix the situation.

Why Alaska?  Because she has a stepsister (sort of) who lives in Homer.  Sam is independent and successful (which Josie was as well, although she was unhappy). (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: LO MOON-Tiny Desk Concert #688 (January 5, 2018).

WXPN has been playing “This is It” quite a bit lately and I’ve realized that it sounds way too much like Mr. Mister (I think it’s Mr. Mister, or something else cloyingly 80s) for me to really enjoy.  [Speaking of Mr. Mister, how is it possible that Pat Mastelotto, currently touring with King Crimson, was the drummer for Mr. Mister?  Are they better than “Broken Wings.” There’s hardly any drums in that song at all and Mastelotto is awesome].

Anyhow back to the history of Lo Moon, lead singer and instrumentalist Matt Lowell says he created the song “Loveless” 5 1/2 years ago in a basement studio in New York.

He then moved to Los Angeles and linked up with Crisanta Baker (guitar, bass, keyboards and backing vocals) and multi-instrumentalist and principal guitarist Sam Stewart. They spent months in a backyard shed with gear and guitars everywhere. There they learned to feed off each other, sometimes jamming on two-chord drones for six hours straight without even saying a word. With the lights turned down, it was a comfortable space for the band to catch its artistic wind and create a celestial sound.

No word on when Sterling Laws was added as a drummer.

The show starts with “This is It.”  Lowell is on piano, and the song sounds pretty faithful to the recording. It’s the combination of the four note melody and the synth sound of those four notes at the end of the chorus that really rings Mr. Mister to me.  The addition of the backing vocals (ahhhing) is a nice addition to the song.

For “Real Love” Chrisanta switches to piano, Sam switches to acoustic guitar and Matt goes to electric guitar.  He plays a pretty melody on the guitar, but I can’t help feel that his voice is too soft, too middle of the road.

The same is true for “Loveless.”  They switch back to the original instruments.  Like “Real Love” it’s a pretty song, but ironically, without those Mr. Mister notes, there’s really no hook.  The songs just sound like pretty, generic songs on some kind of soft rock station.

[READ: September 9, 2017] Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Unicorn Training

I enjoyed the first Pip Bartlett book.  It was funny and had a good time with magical creatures.

In the first book we find out that Pip Bartlett is a young girl who can speak to magical creatures–unicorns, silky griffins, fuzzles–but no one believes her (because no one else can).  This is a drag because she loves magical creatures and her Aunt Emma is a veterinarian of magical creatures (people know magical creatures exits, they just don’t think people can talk to them).

Pip loves Unicorns and in the past has assisted Mr Henshaw with a very timid Unicorn–Regent Maximus–who was afraid of his own shadow.

I love the tone of the books.  This one opens: I was shoveling Greater Rainbow Mink poop. This wasn’t as bad as you might think. Greater Rainbow Minks only eat brunt sugar, so their poop literally smells like candy.  (It’s NOT candy, of course, It’s very important to remember that no matter how good its smells, it’s still poop).

And then we see (or actually we don’t see) a Rockshine who can only say the word Hey, but most often says “Heyyyyyyyyyyy!”  Rockshines are dull sheeplike creatures who turn invisible when frightened–which is often. (more…)

Read Full Post »

[LISTENED TO: August 2017] The Trouble with Twins

I grabbed this book because it seemed kind of interesting.  I see also that this book was released in the UK as Missing Arabella, which I think is a slightly better title).  I wasn’t entirely sure if we’d like it.  I mean, we don’t have twins and this is about twins and I wasn’t sure that our 12-year-old boy would like a book about twin girls.

But holy cow was this book outstanding!  It was utterly hilarious and the way it was read aloud was genius.

The book begins with this wonderful setup:

And so it begins in front of the fire, the story of two twin sisters.  One remains with her family in their lovely country house, where yellow roses perfume the air.  The other waits for her in another house, where she stands alone at huge arched windows.  She is restless, pacing wooden floors that creak in the night when a cat jumps down from the bed to chase at shadows.

And then in different typeface:

“What are their names?” the girls asks.  “The sisters.”
“Arabella and Henrietta.”
“Are they lonely,” asks the girl.
“They belong together,” says the mother.  “And it makes them sad to be apart.”
“Can’t you tell a happy story?” the girl asks.
“With puppies and a garden?”
“Yes!” says the girl.
“I’m only telling it the way my mother told it to me,” the mother says.
“And will there be puppies?” the girls persists.  “Or only gloomy girls at windows?”

(more…)

Read Full Post »

[LISTENED TO: August 2017] Half Magic

I grabbed this book at the library not realizing that Tabby had just started reading it on her own.

The selling point for me on this was that it was described as being “set in Ohio in the 1920s, yet fresh and funny now as the day it was written.”  And that was totally true.  This book was very very funny and the location and time was pretty much irrelevant.

This is the story of four (very precocious) children: Jane, Mark, Katharine and Martha. The beginning of the book has a great time creating and addressing their characters:

Jane was the oldest and Mark was the only boy, and between them they ran everything.

Katharine was the middle girl, of docile disposition and a comfort to her mother. She knew she was a comfort, and docile, because she’d heard her mother say so. And the others knew she was, too, by now, because ever since that day Katharine would keep boasting about what a comfort she was, and how docile, until Jane declared she would utter a piercing shriek and fall over dead if she heard another word about it. This will give you some idea of what Jane and Katharine were like.

Martha was the youngest, and very difficult.

The children’s’ father was dead and their mother worked full-time.  They were looked after by Miss Bick:

Miss Bick came in every day to care for the children, but she couldn’t seem to care for them very much, nor they for her.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »