Archive for the ‘The Amoeba People’ Category

eggnogSOUNDTRACK: THE AMOEBA PEOPLE-“The Night The Hippies Hijacked Christmas” (2010) “Christmas Ferret” (2010) “Robotic Christmas Tree” (2014).

roboticA few years ago I backed The Amoeba People in a Kickstarter campaign.  And they sent me a booklet and CD of The Complicated Saga of Eggnog and Yule Log.  I had been putting off listening to it until the holidays because it seemed perfectly holiday themed.

But as it turns out, the entire collection (four songs) is sort of tangentially Christmassy.  Since they do have three specifically Christmas songs that they have also released, I’ll mention them first.

Of the three, the promisingly titled “The Night The Hippies Hijacked Christmas” is my least favorite.  It’s overly long and uses music to fight music.  But it is “Christmas Ferret” that really steals the show.

When coal isn’t enough for someone who has been naughty at Christmastime, why not send them a present that will bite back. The way the song is sung–in a weird falsetto and staccato delivery (making it almost like a hymn) is fantastic.

The newest song is “Robotic Christmas Tree,” a dancing riotous song about trees attacking people on this festive holiday:

You think your tree
Is perfectly organic
But on Christmas Day
There will be widespread panic!

It’s a fun song, although it doesn’t quite match up to “Christmas Ferret” either.

[READ: December 21, 2015] The Complicated Saga of Eggnog and Yule Log

This collection comes with four songs.  The booklet includes the lyrics to all four songs, but it also includes two extra texts.  One is the diary musings of Uncle Leon for his extra verses to “Omaha.”  But the real treat is the extended story of Yule Log and Egg Nog.

But first the songs:

“Uncle Pat” is a great bouncing song.  It’s about Uncle Pat who claims to be Irish but isn’t (the song has a fun traditional Irish feel to it).  He tells stories about his life which everyone knows to be lies.  It’s really quite funny (we also get Uncle Pat’s recipe for egg nog, both the kid friendly and the super unfriendly versions!)

“Eight Nights of Bowling” is about how three rabbis spend their Hanukkah nights: “ten pins, eight nights you know it’s really out of sight.”  This is an unexpected punk blast.

The final song is sung by Crazy Uncle Leon (who is also mentioned in their earlier song “Cosmology, Your Futon and You”).  There’s a long opening in which Leon talks to his nephews.  He asks them why they have coats on.  And they say it’s 68 degrees in Hollywood, a really cold winter.  He is appalled and then proceeds to sing to them his tales of winters in Omaha.  Well, not tales so much as just a few words and a lot of chorus (Leon can’t think of many words as you can see from his diary entry).

The title song is actually quite short.  Eggnog wants to play, but Yule Log is angry and wants to fight.   But eggnog says “I don’t want to fight him/Like me he’s a seasonal item.”    The song is slow and sweet until it becomes fast and punky (with the same words both times).

But so much is left to wonder about with this song.  Why is Yule Log so mad?  Well, thankfully, the booklet tells us the full story.

In the fuller version,

Tchristmasferrethe logs piled on the rack congratulate the Yule Log on being picked to be used for the Christmas fire.  They say that only one log is given such an honor.   But Yule Log is pragmatic–what does it matter if I’m chosen, we’re all gong to be burned anyway.

The rest of the decorations are appalled by this attitude.  The Christmas Tree shames him saying that everyone plays a part in the Christmas tradition.  And one of the chocolate Santas says that Yule log is lucky that the Santa is stuck in the bowl or he would punch Yule Log.

As they were arguing they had to hush quickly because they head someone coming. But it wasn’t a person it was a fetching yellow carton with skinny legs and arms.   He wishes everyone a happy holiday and says that he is Eggnog.  He wishes everyone good cheer but Yule Log wants nothing to do with it.  He tells Eggnog that he is just going to be drunk tomorrow so what is he so cheerful about?

Eggnog says its better to be drunk than to go sour.  Yule Log is dismissive.

Eggnog then posits that they can fight or they can play holiday games.  The only game Yule Log is interested in is beating up Eggnog.

So what happens on Christmas Day?  Will they meet their fate?  And if so, whose attitude is better?

This is something to ponder while you sit by the fire and enjoy your own Egg nog.  Happy Christmas.


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merminSOUNDTRACK: THE AMOEBA PEOPLE Kickstarter Campaign (2013).

amoebaIf you don’t know Kickstarter, it is a site for creative types to raise money for projects.  On the whole, the site seems to work, although of course there have been failures as well.  For a detailed look into Kickstarter, check out this Fast Company article, the crux of which says that artists’ projects like films and CDs seem to work quite well, whereas more technologically sophisticated projects seem to be prone to glitches.  I have funded three projects on Kickstarter–I have not seen results from them yet, because none of them are due before the end of the year.  Thus I can’t guarantee the success of any of them (most of my pledges were quite small).

All of this is a caveat that while I am endorsing this campaign, please don’t take my word for its awesomeness or its reliability or anything like that–if you don’t think it’s a good idea I won’t try to persuade you otherwise.  But if it seems like a worthwhile investment (and they don’t charge you unless the whole thing is funded), then I’m happy to point this out.  And, the nice thing is that unlike some campaigns, in this case the “gift” you get for pledging is a CD, something they already have, so there’s no issue with the items not being made.

So what the hell is it?  To quote the campaign:

We are creating the greatest MUSICAL SCIENCE PROGRAM ever produced on Earth. We are asking for your help to fund PHASE ONE.

We are trying to raise $4,000 dollars to help us shoot a 10-minute “sizzle reel” which we will use to pitch our TV show idea to humanoid programming executives.

We have already recorded the music, enlisted the help of musical thespians to fill all the roles, built a massive computer console for the set and now all we need is some human currency to shoot and edit it. We are calling this first step toward television PHASE ONE.

Our series will have a strong emphasis on geology and the earth sciences as well as cosmology, biology, and the stories behind some of the greatest scientific discoveries in human history.

The premise: The Amoeba People, musical ambassadors from the planet Crouton, have been sent to Earth to investigate the source of radio signals sent from that planet. Their mission: to gather scientific data about Earth and its inhabitants and to transmit that data back to Crouton in the form of über-awesome and highly danceable songs.

Not heard of The Amoeba People?  Well, that’s hardly surprising.  They are a children’s music band from California, whose song “Cosmology, Your Futon and You” is wonderfully smart and funny.  I’m a fan of their stuff and I’m excited at whatever this sizzle reel might result in.  So check out their campaign, and if it sounds appealing, chip in.  And if it sucks, I apologize, but they should apologize more.

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[READ: October 10, 2013] Mermin: Book One

I brought this book home for the kids and wound up enjoying it quite a lot myself. It was only after reading it that I realized it was from the awesome Oni Pres.

The story starts with a squat green amphibian-looking creature waking up on the beach.  Some humans find him and start wondering what he is . But before he can answer them he is excited to feel that he is on dry land!  The excitement is short-lived because the kids really need to know what he is.  We learn that he is named Mermin.  He seems friendly enough so the kids start playing with him.  But when he punches the beachball it goes rocketing up into space.  Which the kids think is awesome.

Shortly after, when one of the kids goes in for a swim, a shark chases after him.  Mermin sees this and comes to the rescue, kicking the shark in the snout. Before swimming away the shark talks to Mermin—he knows who he is–and says that the whole village is looking for him. (more…)

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ElsewhereBk3_C1SOUNDTRACK:  THE AMOEBA PEOPLE-“The Geologists Are Coming” (2012).

geologistThis is, “a special audio poem from The Amoeba People in honor of those hard-working scientists who carry tiny hammers and chip at the crust.”  It’s a very simple rap and drum song about Geologists (of course).  The middle section gives a nice alphabetic breakdown of the letters of the word.

But the best part of the song is clearly the chorus which is very very catchy.

The problems (such as they are) with the song are these: it’s very very short (under two minutes) and it could use some extra kind of musical sound to it–maybe a five minute version with guitars is  in order.  But, even without the guitars, the song is fun to sing along to:

[READ: January 21, 2013] The ElseWhere Chronicles Book Three

Had I known that the series would come to a major halt with book three (and then resume a year later) I would have included Book Three with 1 & 2.  As it stands, Book Three gives what would be a decent but unsatisfying conclusion to the story, although since it ends with The End…? readers may have been not too upset by the conclusion.

The book opens with Rebecca, Max, Noah, and Theo are reunited and taking pictures of themselves in their elsewhere location (although the one just shows them on a beach–not really proof of anything otherworldly (other photos do show otherworldly scenes).  They find a boat and sail across the sea.  But in the process their mynah bird (the one who alerts them to t he presence of danger) is killed by a seagull.

They land in a village where thy are given gifts (we later see a statue that looks a lot like Rebecca o their grounds).  They find their way to a cave where Grandpa Gabe had a lot of his supplies (and which was currently inhabited by a very large and scary creature.  They find a map and instructions about how to jump between worlds.  But that night they are attacked by the Shadow Creatures and even see the Master of Shadows himself.  During the confrontation Doleann returns to assist but Ilvanna, recognizing someone in the shadow spirit, embraces it, which kills her instantly.  Doleann says that Minervale the dragon is about to give birth to two dragons, which will help in their fight against the Master of Shadows.   (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE AMOEBA PEOPLE-“Cosmology, Your Futon and You” (2010).

I found out about The Amoeba People from the Kids Corner Top Ten Songs of 2010 list (this was number one).

The Amoeba People are a fun, weird kids band who write clever, often science-based songs.  This song has a wonderful bass line that opens the song.  There’s suitably weird space sounds (theremin) and a nice choral chorus).

Lyrically it’s a distorted spoken story full of clever word play.  It features a whole lot of facts about outer space (and jokes about futons).   And while you won’t get all the lyrics on the first try, it rewards repeated listens.

You can hear the track here.

[READ: April 16, 2011] Babymouse: Our Hero

This is the second Babymouse book (nope, I’m not reading these in order, which goes against a lot of my neuroses, but I think I can handle it).

As this story opens, Babymouse oversleeps and misses her bus.  And right from the start the fantasy/dream sequence kicks in.  The voices that try to wake her are not her bratty sister, but her adoring fans!  And when she misses the bus, the walk to school is really a trudge through the desert…will she survive???

It’s all quite funny, especially the “voiceover” which she can obviously hear, and with which she argues from time to time. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKKids Corner on WXPN (2011).

Kids Corner is a great radio show on WXPN (88.5 Philadelphia).  It airs Sunday through Thursday night at 7PM.  It’s also available online (you can listen live at 7PM!).  In addition to some smart radio for kids (Science Thursday!), there’s quizzes and call in stuff and lots of music.

Most of the music is funny/novelty stuff.  From standard bearers like “Weird Al” Yankovic, to great bands like Trout Fishing in America, to the ancient novelty song “Star Trekkin” and my new favorite kids’ band The Amoeba People.

Every night they have a contest for song of the day, which anyone can vote in (democracy in action!).

Check out the last six years of Ton Ten songs (Steve Martin’s “King Tut!”).  And be sure to tune in, you just might just learn something.

[READ: March 2, 2011] Beyond the Grave

This fourth book in the series excited me because it broke with the format of the kids traveling to two cities with no help.  When they land in Egypt, they are greeted by an old friend (whom they never met before).   This old friend,  Hilary Vale, is actually a friend of their grandmother, Grace.  Grace went to Egypt every year and spent her time with Hilary, traveling, seeing the sights and, of course, looking for clues (although Hilary didn’t know any details of what Grace was up to).  Hilary (and her grandson, Theo) play a helping role in the book, and I have to say that it was nice to let the kids have a little breather with some people that they can trust.

They also get to go to a super fancy hotel room (using Alasdair Oh’s frequent number card).  Of course, as is the way with cool spy stories, the super fancy hotel turns out to be the stronghold for the branch of the Cahill family that Alasitar Oh is part of (I still can’t keep those branch names straight).  They pretty easily access the super spy area of super cool hotel suite.  (Because they have Alastair’s card, they are given the fancy suite).  Of course, once they are in the secret room, Alastair’s uncle, the sinister Bae Oh, knows that they’re there (he owns the hotel).  And they are suitably trapped.

While in the stronghold, the kids learn a little bit about the items they are seeking in Egypt (there is a fake statue in the room).  But mostly they’re concerned about trying to escape.  Thanks goodness thier au pair (who getts cooler with each book) has been paying attention. (more…)

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