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Archive for the ‘Ladies Home Journal’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: OF MONSTERS AND MEN-Live from Iceland Airwaves (2011).

This brief set was recorded at KEX hostel in Reykjavik, Iceland (how on earth KEXP in Seattle was there I don’t know).  This set was performed before the release of their debut EP, although “Dirty Paws” which they play was not on that EP.  “Little Talks” their (reasonably) huge hit them was on the EP and is on their full length album–it’s a great duet (and reminds me a bit of Stars).

There’s an amusing fail in the horn solo on “Lake House,” which is kind of surprising, but not terribly tragic or anything.  The band sounds great, especially in front of a home country crowd (I love hearing them say “Takk” at the end of the songs).  There’s five songs in all, and by  the final one, they feel  sound like they’re really enjoying themselves.

[READ: September 1, 2012] Wampeters, Foma & Granfaloons

This collection contains essays reviews and speeches.  So it’s non-fiction.  Except that, ever the contrarian, Vonnegut includes one fiction piece–a short play.  The title of this book comes from three words from his novel Cat’s Cradle: “a wampeter is an object around which the lives of many otherwise unrelated people may revolve.  The Holy Grail would be a case in point.  Foma are harmless untruths, intended to comfort simple souls.  An example: ‘Prosperity is just around the corner.’ A granfallooon is a proud and meaningless association of human beings.”

That all comes from the preface.  The preface also says that there are people who have collected everything he has ever written (even stuff he has forgotten about) but he will not let most of that see the light of day.  Here he has whittled down the least embarrassing stuff for publication.  He also explains that at some point (supported by reading this) he decided to stop giving speeches; to stop “talking” and to concentrate on writing.  So he did.

The final straw for this was a comment from the President of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  Vonnegut had prepared a speech.  The president reread it and hated it, but the president told Vonnegut that nobody would actually listen to the words: “People are seldom interested in the actual content of a speech.  They simply want to learn from your tone and gestures and expressions whether or not you are an honest man.”

While Vonnegut’s essays are powerful and effective, it’s the Preface that really tells it straightg.”Not nearly as many Biafrans were butchered by the Nigerians at the end of the war as I had thought would be.  At a minimum those damaged children at the exact middle of the universe will be more honorable than Richard M Nixon.  [Nixon] is the first president to hate the American people and all they stand for.”

Get ready for a happy collection. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PINK FLOYD-Alan’s Psychedelic Christmas (1970).

I’ve always loved Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother.  I have no recollection of how I stumbled upon this live bootleg, but when I saw that it contained one of the few live recordings of “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” I had to give it a listen.

So this show is from 1970 and was recorded in Sheffield just before Christmas (Nick Mason evidently introduced the show while wearing a Santa Claus suit).  The sound quality is pretty good given that it is 40 some years old.  There’s a bunch of hiss, and the quieter talking bits are hard to understand, but the music sounds fine.

So the show opens with “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” and what is so silly (and I assume funny to watch (a little less funny on bootleg) is that the band made and ate breakfast on stage.  As Collectors Music reviews writes: “This is the only known live recording of ‘Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast’ but also hosts an amazing performance by the band which included them making morning tea on stage which is audible. Just like most of their earlier performances, the performance of “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” slightly differs from the album version due to some nice jamming done by the band, especially Gilmour with his delay pedal.” As I said, some of the audio is static and hard to make out in this song–the band is conversing during their tea, but who knows what they are saying.  And who know what is o the radio.

Then the band gets down to business.  One of things I love about this period Floyd which is so different from their later work is that the played really long spacey jams often with very few lyrics.  So we get a 12-minute version of “The Embryo” (the only available studio version is a very short one on Works which is quite a shame as the song is really good).  A 14-minute workout of “Fat Old Sun” which is usually only about 5 minutes.

There’s a great version of “Careful with that Axe Eugene” and “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” (15 and 12 minutes respectively).

Then in a killer version of “Saucerful of Secrets,” just as they get to the end, there’s a power failure (at least according to the song title).  The band is rocking out just hitting the climax when suddenly all you can hear are un-miked drums.  Ha. After a couple of minutes, power comes back and they pick up from just before where they left off.

Then the band launches into a full 31-minute version of “Atom Heart Mother” complete with horns and choir  of voices.  It sounds quite good (the horns seem a little sketchy but that might be expected with such staccato music).

The set ends and the band needs an encore.  Apparently they couldn’t remember anything else because they just re-do the last few minutes of “Atom Heart Mother” again.

One of the things that cracks me up about these shows in the 70s in England, is that the audience is so polite. Their applause sounds like a classical theater rather than a rock show.  And with a bootleg you know they didn’t try to make the audience sound bigger than they are.

The whole package is a fun trip.

[READ: August 17, 2012] Welcome to the Monkey House

So this book is Vonnegut’s second collection of short stories.  But there’s a twist.  This collection contains all of the short stories from Canary in a Cat House except one. It also contains many of the stories he had written since then as well as stories not collected in Canary.  So you get basically 18 years worth of stories here.  And it’s interesting to see how much he has changed over those years (during which he wrote 5 novels, but not yet Slaughterhouse Five).

Since I read Canary a little while ago (see comments about the stories here), I knew that his 50’s era stories were influenced by WWII.  So it’s interesting to see how his stories from the 690s are not.  They deal more with day to day things and, of course, abstract concepts about humanity, although politics do enter the picture again once Kennedy is elected .

  • Where I Live (1964)

This was a good story to open with because it shows the then-later-period Vonnegut’s mindset and location.  This story is about Barnstable Village on Cape Cod (where I assume Vonnegut lived since there are a number of stories set on the Cape).  This is a very casually written story about an encyclopedia salesman who goes to the local library and sees that their two encyclopedias are from 1910 and 1938.  I enjoyed this line: “He said that many important things had happened since 1938, naming among others, penicillin and Hitler’s invasion of Poland.”  He is told to talk to the library directors who are at the yacht club.  I love the attitude that Vonnegut creates around the village which “has a policy of never accepting anything.  As a happy consequence, it changes about as fast as the rules of chess.” For really, this story is about the Village more than the encyclopedia salesman, and it’s an interesting look at people who move into a new place and want it to never change. (more…)

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