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[LISTENED TO: September 13, 2017] Believe Me

When I saw that Eddie Izzard had a book out I was pretty interested to read it.  I have loved his stand-up since 1997 or 1998 and I was lucky enough to see him on his Circle Tour (on the date they recorded it!).  I have been keeping up with his career and trying to see him in whatever he does (although I like my comedy more than drama and he has certainly made the shift towards drama in recent years).

I thought an autobiography or memoir by him would be pretty interesting (even if he claims to be boring).  But when I saw that he read the audiobook, I knew I had to give it a listen (even if it was 12 discs)!

Amusingly, there was a long delay at the library.  The lady at the counter (who is not the librarian–we librarians know the difference) said if I knew his voice, I could just read the book to myself in his voice.  It was an amusing thought, and I possibly could do that, ….yes, but Eddie’s voice is just so fantastic that it never would have worked properly.  Plus, he throws in easily an extra hours worth of footnotes and rambles that aren’t in the print book!  That’s right, an extra hour’s worth of nonsense if you do the audio.   True you don;t get to see the pictures, but it’s a fair trade-off.

Well the book finally came in and I had plenty of driving time to make short work of this 12 hours behemoth.  And I laughed and laughed.  And cried and cried.

Because while Eddie Izzard is an action transvestite (transgender, now) and one of the best stand-ups around, he is also an extremely warm and thoughtful person. He worked very hard to become the success he is.  And he has used his fame to do some absolutely wonderful things for humanity–including raising millions of dollars.  Not bad for an atheist who is sometimes in girl mode and sometimes in boy mode. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-LivePhish 12.01.95 Hersheypark Arnea, Hershey, PA (2006).

Speaking of 12.01.95 (see yesterday’s post), this show is the proper release from the soundchecks for the 11.14.95 disc set.

In addition to formal live releases and a series of 20 full show LivePhish releases (which were packaged in some horrible goo and have subsequently been ruined), Phish has also released some shows a but more formally as LivePhish archival “releases.”  I don’t know if there is any specific reason for the release of any of them, but they seem to out out two or so a year.

There’s a pretty thorough review and essay (with photos) by Kevin Shapiro about the show here.  And it provides a lot more context and Phish lore than I can, but I will quote him below.

The set opens with a fast rollicking version of “Buried Alive” (only 3 minutes long) which segues neatly into an intense “Down with Disease.” The seven minute song ends with Fish playing just high hats for a bit before seguing into “Theme form the Bottom” which is from Billy Breathes out the following year.

When that song ends they play into a fun fast version of “Poor Heart” which segues into “Wolfman’s Brother.”  The staccato ending sequences nicely into a 7 minute “Chalk Dust Torture.”

Then comes the wonderful surprise of “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent.”  As the song segues into “Fly Famous Mockingbird,” Trey takes some time to chat.  He tells the audience a brief history of the planet.  In the time of the ancient Greeks, philosophy, science and religion were all one thing.  Science and religion split off.  The Eastern style stated that everything is one.  Western style focused on matter vs spirit and gave rise to modern concepts of religion.  It seems like he’s getting very serious.  Then he talks about how eastern religious led to cows which led to milk which led to milk chocolate.  Chocolate.   The Mystical Land of Chocolate.  Then he says there is only one place where science religion and philosophy are one thing—Gamehendge.   And then he talks about the Rhombus which can be found in King of Prussia.  Find Wilson Dr.  (Although presumably this gives the truth behind the rhombus).  There’s parts near the end where the song fades in and out in a very cool way.

Then they play a fairly dark version of “Stash” and a rocking version of “Cavern” to end the set.  It’s interesting that “Chalk Dust,” “Stash” and “Cavern” were also on the 11.14.95 set).

Stash followed with a formidable jam that stretched out instrumentally, locking into a dissonant theme that ignited the highest improvisation of the set. The whole band linked up beautifully for this jam, evoking a Dave’s Energy Guide-ish vibe and at points recalling the expectation-smashing heights of the Orlando Stash weeks before. After Stash returned to terra firma, Cavern closed the set, leaving “15 minutes” of recovery and preparation before the even sweeter second set that defined this show.

Set two opens with a chess move from an 11-year-old boy (who is now in his thirties (!!!).  They begin the music with an a capella (doo-wop) version of “Halley s Comet.”  It ends with a cool segue into “Mike’s Song,” a 20 minute jam with a really long piano solo from Page ans a nice end that rumbles into “Weekapaug Groove.”  [Read Shapiro’s eloquent discussion about this transition].  There’s a quiet solo in the middle of the song with a brief clap-along.  But it pulls out of that to get noisy and chaotic by the end.  Things mellow out with “Mango Song” but the crowd erupts for a short (5 minute) fast version of “Wilson.”

Things get a little silly with Fish singing “Suspicious Minds.”  (I just found a video for this—Fish comes out weaving an Elvis Cape and a big glasses.  It ends with a fast “Hold Your Head Up” keyboard romp (with Trey on drums).

When things settle down Fish starts playing the high hats for “David Bowie,” but before the song begins, Trey sings “Catapult.”  And then before the song can begin again, in the trippy intro Trey starts moaning “Chocolate.”  There’s a brief Simpsons riff and a Do’h and then they launch into the song proper (about 2:30 into the song).  There is a long middle with lot so solos and then a fast, tidy ending.

The encore is a romping 7 minute “Suzy Greenberg.” It’s another great show.

Even if it is a bit shorter than the previous one–that personalized chocolate section and the Colonel Forbin’s is pretty great.

[READ: November 25, 2016] Eating Fish Alone/Country Cooking from Central France

I really enjoy Lydia Davis’ stories.  I always find them a little weird since most of the time they feel more like little diary entries rather than stories.  Each narrator seems to be pretty clearly her, and each story seems like a gripe she has about something that happened.

And yet, it is like the best diary entry you’ve ever read.   Most of her stories are a couple of paragraphs long.  I find I don’t really like the longer ones as much, which is kind of ironic given that the short ones seem so short.

So this is a collection of a few of her stories.

“The Mice” is a page and a half about how the mice in their house never go into their kitchen.  Their kitchen is sloppy and full of food–why wouldn’t the mice go there?

“Meat, My Husband” starts with the narrator saying that her husband really loves meat.  His favorite chidhood food was corned beef.  But she, being a healthy person (and perhaps a bit obsessive) hardly makes meat (or uses butter).  But her husband really enjoys a dessert–which he helps to make.

“Happiest Moment” is only one paragraph and is an interesting twist on happiness.

“Kafka Cooks Dinner” is much longer than the others and it gets a little repetitive.  It is told from the point of view of a man looking to make a meal for his dear Milena.  He puzzles over several different options.  He wonders if he should serve the same to her as he did to Felice.

“Eating Fish Alone” is a story all about the neurotic narrator trying to figure out when and what fish she can eat. She says she pretty much only eats it alone because of the smell  But she also a has a list of which fish she can eat–some is safe and others are not.  She often asks the waiters about the fish, even though they don’t know much about the food.  The end sees her eating a marlin steak.

Continuing with the food theme of this book, the other half of the book (flip it) is fully called Country Cooking from Central France Roast Boned Rolled Stuffed Shoulder of Lamb (Farce Double)

This is one of those stories that I never understand why they are written.  Lengthy and very detailed all creating something that is possibly funny, but I’m not sure if it is–making a story out of something that is just a goofy recipe.

It is a 24 page recipe for Farce Double–the specialty of La Tour Lambert.  It is an elaborate (beyond all reason) recipe that might make no sense to a foreigner.

You must marinade the giant lamb parts–in Paris they might use a bidet, you can use a bathtub.  After extensive details you get sentences like: at some previous moment, you will have made the stuffing for the quenelles.

There are clay pots and giant pits and marinating for days and all of that.

The only thing that interrupts the recipe is the song that is sung during a break in the roasting.  This song is about a blacksmith’s son who goes in search of his lost mother.  He finds several women who take care of him, making him believe that each is his mother until she “does for him what mother a never did for her son.”

The feast of farce double is a moment for friendships to be renewed, for enemies to forgive one another, for lovers to embrace.

Serves thirteen.

Uh huh.

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Molson Centre, Montreal, QC (December 9, 1996).

This is the second and final Quebec show on Rheostatics live.  Once again they are opening for The Tragically Hip and although it still has that stadium feel, this one is a little muffled.

They open the show with a French language clip and once again I have no idea what it is from.

Before the first song starts either the guys are talking to each other or there’s a recording of Martin & Dave talking to each other about dreams.  “I had this weird dream we were in a giant rock stadium.  We were opening for Ringo’s All Stars  All these people were there speaking a  different language.”  “Ringo’s really been giving it all this tour.”

Eventually they start the riff and play a great version of Fat.  I love how the song builds and builds to a cacophonous racket and then quiets down into the slinky riff.

They play “Aliens” and Martin modifies the lyric from “they took you up and put you under” to “they took you up and gave you drugs.”  It’s followed by “All the Same Eyes” which is such a good conventional rocking song.  “Michael Jackson” sounds great with some wailing guitars.  At the end, Martin states, “It feels good to be alive.”  Dave retorts: “Sometimes.”

Then Dave says thanks for CFRG and CFLY (which seems unlikely to play them now) for “coming down here and talking to us today we appreciate it.  This [“Bad Time to Be Poor”] is the song that’s getting played on the radio and in all the finer dentist offices around the land.”

Martin makes some interesting guitar noises before starting a really great “California Dreamline.”  Before Claire, Dave says “Happy birthday, Gary Stokes” (their sound man).  They’ve been adding some great guitar solos into “Claire” and this one is no exception–Martin really stretches.

“Horses” is, as always, really strong.  The version rocks and then during the moody middle section Dave starts chanting about power in the darkness.  Near the end as Martin starts making his horse sounds, Dave chants “we don’t need no education, we don’t need no thought control.”

It’s a dark but effective ending.  I assume the Canadian audiences know the band already, but I wonder what they think of them as an opening act.

[READ: June 20, 2017] “The Love Nest”

This is The Walrus‘ Summer Fiction Issue with new fiction & poetry from 6 writers in total.  I won’t be reviewing the poetry, but I’ll be talking about the three short stories.

This story was delightful.  I enjoyed everything about it.

It consists of a series of log book entries at a B&B from October 10, 2013 through August 5, 2015 with a sort of addenda at the end.

It begins with a Russian couple complementing their hosts for their charming B&B in Vermont.  They learned a lot about Vermont in their stay and are happy to share their information.

The next couple mentions how once they had kids they lost all of their single friends.  Another talks about how the B&B’s mason jar cups reminds her of a college “naked party” where she and her now husband met.  Another has a small gripe (no spoilers) that he wants to write in the book–but not on Trip Advisor. (more…)

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[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…)

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[LISTENED TO: August 2017] Adventures with Waffles

I saw this book in the library and the title sounded interesting. The blurb on the back when enticing as well, so I grabbed it for our family road trip.

I had no idea that the book was a translation of a Norwegian story (Vafflehjarte) nor that it had already been translated into English as Waffle Hearts (a much more accurate, and frankly much more satisfying title).  I gather from a little research that Waffle Hearts is a British translation and Adventures with Waffles is an American one (although they both have the same translator, Guy Puzey).

The story is about Trille and Lena, two kids who live next door to each other in the village of Mathildawick Cove in Norway.  Their village is small and there are only 9 kids in their grade.  Lena is the only girl. The bully Kai-Tommy wishes she weren’t in their class.  But Trille feels that Lena is his best friend (he hopes it is reciprocated, but is unsure).  She is wild, she is spontaneous, she is dangerous.  And she is a lot of fun. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: August 2017] The Diamond of Darkhold

The end of the previous book (the prequel) left me in very good spirits about this final book.  This one had not come out while I was working at the public library so I didn’t know about it and the title and cover puzzled me.

But whatever, it was time to see how this series ended (I assume its over).

But, oh no!  Another new audio book reader!  This time Katherine Kellgren.  Kellgren has the unenviable task of following up Wendy Dillon’s establishment as a reader.  It was a little disconcerting hearing Doon and some other characters who had very distinctive voices portrayed differently.  In fact, I wasn’t all that impressed by her reading at first because the characters kind of sounded the same.  But as soon as new characters entered the picture I was really thrilled with her reading.  The diverse voices she brought to the story were outstanding.

So what happens in it?

The story picks up about nine months after the Emberites left Ember.  Winter is coming upon them and things are very hard.  People are also getting sick (some people have died).  (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: December 2016] Nightmares! The Lost Lullaby

I was really excited to get this third volume of the Nightmares! series.

The previous book ended with the startling revelation that on the first day of the new school year, India Kessog (INK) is sitting in Charlie’s classroom.

INK and her sister ICK were responsible for creating the tonic that nearly destroyed Orville Falls–not to mention the Dream Realm, the Netherworld and the Waking World.

Charlie and his friends knew that INK was on this side of the portal and that her sister ICK was still in the nightmare realm, but they never expected that INK would come to them rather than then having to track her down.

INK is still dressed like she has always been–in old-fashioned clothes with a red bow–exactly the way that she (or ICK, they are twins) terrorized everyone’s dreams in Charlie’s town.  As INK walks through the school–observing everything very carefully–all of the kids keep their distance and stare and whisper.

When she sits down to eat, she is repulsed by the chicken nuggets–who wouldn’t be?  But she loves the tater tots.  That must make her okay right? (c’mon, EVERYONE loves the tater tots).  Charlie is just about to go approach her when his little brother Jack beats him to it.  And he starts talking to India (he calls her Indy) like she was his friend instead of a monster.  They seem to be having a good conversation until a new characters approaches. (more…)

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