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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 9 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (November 19, 2004).

The Rheostatics, live at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, November 19, 2004. This was the 9th night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe. This is the final night with a recording.

I compared all of the setlists from the nine shows and was somewhat surprised to see just how much repeating they did (you can see the grid at the bottom with all of the songs for each night).

Kevin Hearn joined them.  And this 2 hour and 45 minute show ended with a Twist competition and a “Whole Lotta Love” jam which went on for 19 minutes followed by Neil Young’s “Powderfinger.”  Two versions are available – Mark Sloggett’s soundboard recording and 8-track files provided by Steve Clarkson.  As with the other shows with these two recordings, the Clarkson one is audience recorded and louder, but with audience noise.

The show starts with a song by Martin and a song by Tim.  There’s no Dave for a full ten minutes!

“Self Serve Gas Station” has loud keyboards that fill out the introduction.  In the middle of the song, when Martin sings “worry about their son?” Tim asks “which one?”  And Martin sings, “What went wrong with Johnny, is he dumb?”  “What about Doug?”  It’s followed by Tim’s “Soul Glue” which sounds great.

Tim seems to be having a lot of fun this night.  When Dave sings “Me and Stupid” Tim is full of backing vocals, including chanting “Gabba Gabba,Hey!” when Dave mentions the Ramones.

“The Tarleks” has a bit of a rough opening, but after a quick tuning, all is well.  “Claire” opens with some interesting washes of keys before the familiar guitars come in.  Tim is still goofy this time singing “horrify me, Claire, roto-till my hair.  Let me see you say a line that isn’t there.”

Tim says they’d like to send “Power Ballad For Ozzy Osbourne” to The Buttless Chaps.  Thanks for coming and rocking.”

During “Four Little Songs” Dave says, “Kevin, Sing us a song.”  He sings his song “This Is It” “There was fresh butter melting on a waffle…”  As the song moves to the fast part Martin sings “who stole the kishka,” a nod to the previous night. It ends and Tim yells, “Someone call the cops” and Martin plays a siren on his guitar.

Dave introduces the Bastard Brass who will play with them for three songs.  They are Brian on trumpet, Alexi on trumpet Alain on the ‘bone and good ol Seth on the saxophone.  Unlike some of the horns they have play with them, these guys are the real deal and they sound great.

They bring a lot of depth to “P.I.N” and I love when they play the riff of “Mumbletypeg.”  However, there is an interruption during the song, which I assume is real.  Tim sounds very concerned, asking if “you know that guy.”  Then he calls for Security.  When the song is over, he says, “It’s okay to have a good time but don’t be gross about it.”   Then…  “This guy’s gotta go.”  Then “Well okay, you can stay.   But seriously mind the person next to you.”  even Mike gets in on it: “You know you’re gonna get turfed it you keep it up, buddy.”  Then quieter: “Granted not by me.”

Things must settle down, because they play “Marginalized” and Tim thanks the guys “that was worth listening to all the practicing in the dressing room.”

They play a beauty couple of songs: “Shack in the Cornfields” and “Try to Praise this Mutilated World.”  Dave explains that “Pornography” is another song about America.

And then Martin says that they are the Rheostatics, but Tim says, “We are the Toronto casts of the Rheostatics.  That’s Mike’s line.  I thought it was good.”

They send “Making Progress” out to Mike Dunne who named the band back in Grade 11 (or earlier).  Thanks, Mike its all your fault.”  Mike: “very new wave.”  Tim: “This goes out to the city of Bolton, Ontario.”  Why is that?  That’s where Mike lives.”  “Well, somebody’s gotta.”

For “My First Rock Concert” they bring back Kevin Hearn.  The Kevin Hearn Revival.  Him and his fancy T-shirts.  Dave says that Kevin and Dave will interweave their songs.  This is Dave and Kevin’s journey of rock and roll awakening.  Dave sings his parts and Kevin’s first shows include: Mr Dressup, Peter Appleyard;   Then Santana (where the guys in front and behind him threw up).  Then playing a gig between Bon Jovi and Cheap Trick.  At the after party, the guys who sing “Everybody Wang Chung Tonight” showed up.  Kevin sings a few choruses and then segues into “Surrender” (with nice harmonies from everyone).

Dave asks if Kevin has any Joe Jackson stories.  Tim interrupts and says he took a full bottle of Heineken off of the stage at a Joe Jackson show, wondering whats in that green bottle.

Kevin follows that with: Once I went to Burl Ives’ house for chocolate cake and he looked out the window and it was almost a full moon and in that Frosty the Snowman voice he said, “Oh look someone’s taken a bite out of the moon.  It’s true.”

When the song is over Dave says, “I imagine the UN General Assembly sitting together with the world on the brink of war and deferring to Kevin and he will tell that Burl Ives story and save the world.”

Tim continues, Dave and I, Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods, Disneyworld in Florida.  Dave and I were both in the crowd.  We did know each other but we were both there.  My first show.”  Dave: “Five seconds of complete bewilderment.  What the hell is that guy going there?”  Martin: “Who is Bo Donaldson.”  Tim: “Remember ‘Billy Don’t be a Hero?’ The greatest protest band ever.  Or was that The DeFranco Family?”

Tim continues, “We’d like to celebrate our ethnic heritage with this next song.”  Jennifer Foster is back on accordion for “Who is that Man, and Why is he Laughing?.”  It’s followed by “Yellow Days Under A Lemon Sun” with verses from Kevin, Tim and Dave.

They play “Aliens (Christmas 1988)” and before the final verse, when the song gets mellow, Tim starts singing “ABC, 123” and then Dave picks up “Michael Jackson.”  But then he says, “Why don’t you just give us some “It feels good to be alive.”  Tim asks what kind?  Phoning it in?”  Dave: “Oh no, big sale. ”  And after doing some of the song in a slightly different way Martin says now I feel like doing the riff, so they rock out.   At some point, Mike asks, “Are we still playing aliens?”  They get into some jazzy chords–merch chords.  Jazz and merch sales go together so well.  Jazzy Swag.  Martin comes out of the jazz with some blistering punk chords to open “RDA.”  They’re having crazy fun now, Dave starts singing “They don’t give a fuck about anybody else.”  After they wail, Mike asks, “Where’s the no solo sign?”

At the end of the song, they thank The Imponderables, and The Buttless Chaps.

After the break, they play “Legal Age Life” and jam it for 13 minutes.  The middle of the song features the Fall Nat’ls annual Twist competition.   Tim asks for gaffer tape to tape up “Wendell.”  It’s gonna be a really great bit when it’s ready.”  Tim: “I want to give Martin a laugh when he comes out.”  When Martin comes out, Tim asks, “Martin is that a Steinberger hockey stick?” (It doesn’t seem to go over well).

When the Twist competitors come up, Tim asks, “You’re not obnoxious drunk guy, are you?”  “No he knows all the words.”  The audience votes for Ann.  And Mike says, “Make that guitar talk for me Martin.”  he does and they have a “conversation.”

Tim asks, Do you know “The Things We Do For Love?”  I just wanna hear it.  Is that Hall and Oates?  It’s 10cc (Mike then explains the origin of that band name).

Martin starts “Record Body Count” by speaking the ending: “Joey stepped up on a block of ice, put a rope around his neck and fell asleep before he fucking died.”  Mike: “What a goof!”

Dave says, “We’re here tomorrow for one more night.  Good night!”  And yet, there’s 25 more minutes of music!  There’s some general jamming fun–in fact this jam (the Whole Lotta Love jam) runs about 19 minutes.  Someone takes a “Vegas walk off.”  And then Dave I think plays the Green Sprouts Theme, but there are washes of chords overwhelming everything.  Then people just start jamming song riffs: “Cat Scratch Fever,”  a Led Zeppelin riff or two, “Daytripper” “Tom Sawyer” Martin does the zooming sounds from “Bullet the BLue Sky” (or “Whole Lotta Love”).  And then someone starts jamming “Whole Lotta Love.”  About 7 and a half minutes into this, Tim says “We’re gonna do this all night long, so you might as well go home and gets some sleep.”  While “Whole Lotta Love” is playing, Kevin begins singing “In Dreams” by Roy Orbison (“Candy Colored Clown”).  Then Tim says, “I’m serous, this shit’s going on all night.  Get the fuck out of here!”

Dave says, “On that note, Good night.  I gotta go to St. Catherine’s Ontario in the morning.  I’m reading in the mall.”  Mike: “Two Vegas walk offs.”

There’s a sample played from Colonel Sanders “This is Colonel Sanders here to tell you about my exciting new chicken..  in addition to herbs and spices there’s  shampoo and dish soap in it, so while you’re eating, you’re cleaning.”

At about 12 minutes, Kevin starts singing “Whole Lotta Love.”  Martin mocks the “every inch of my love” part and Mike and someone else do the moaning.  Then Kevin starts singing “I’ve Been Everywhere” while samples galore play.  Finally Kevin sings a mellow version of “Like a Hurricane.”

And then a proper start to “Powderfinger” which makes up for the depravity of the previous night.  When they finish someone asks, “Hey are you still here?”

It’s not the final night of the residency, but it’s a really fun and kind of loopy night.  Some great playing mixed with some real silliness.

[READ: April 12, 2017] Bats

This has been my favorite Science Comic yet.  I love bats and this was great way to learn even more about them.

The book begins with Little Brown Bat flying through the night sky.  But he is lost.  And he happens upon a group of people in the desert hoping to see the Mexican Long-Tongued Bat and the Lesser Long-Nosed Bat, two nectar eating bats who help to pollinate flowers.

While the nectar bats do their things and the people enjoy it, one of the bats talks to Little Brown Bat about whats’ going on.  Finally the bat convinces Little Brown to dive down to eat all the bugs that the light is attracting–the humans won’t mind.

We learn about bat predators–foxes and snakes (which is why they stay off of the ground), but they can’t do much about owls. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Casbah, Hamilton, Ontario (November 6, 2004).

This was a Hamilton show between the 2004 Western Fall Nationals and the 10 night Fall Nationals at The Horseshoe Tavern the following week. The band attempted to play all of 2067 succeeding apart from “The Latest Attempt On Your Life” and “Try To Praise This Mutilated World.”

The recording opens with some wild jazz playing–rather incongruous opening music.  But it quickly fades and you hear the guys plucking away as their noodling solidifies into “Easy To Be With You.”  They seem to be having a lot of fun with the hoo ah hoo ah middle part–making it a bit more rocking, perhaps?

Martin: “This is for Yod’s sister.”  Mike: “And Daryl from Niagara Falls, Happy Birthday.”  Tim: “We couldn’t download the lyrics to ‘Edmund Fitzgerald’ so we’re gonna do this one instead.  Mike: “All the teleprompter rentals were eaten up by the U.S. election.” Martin: “And Velvet Revolver are on tour.”  They play a  stompin “Record Body Count.”

So we have a new record out.  It’s called “twenty one twel–“.  It’s called 2067.  Tim: “It’s our 2,067th release.”  Martin: “We’re a very prolific band.  And we’re gonna attempt to do it top to bottom.”  Mike: “And you know what they say, there’s a fine line between flagship and guinea pig and you’re it.”

The first song is “Shack in the Cornfields.”  Martin introduces it: “This song had a large head. But Mike and I got down to it and made sure it was born.  In the corn.” It sounds good and has a really long percussion ending and then opens up into Dave’s quiet “Little Bird,” a song they have played a lot over the  last year.

Next up is “Marginalized,” which is a bit softer and less angry than some other versions.

Dave says, “We’re gonna do a song we just shot a video for.  We do a video every couple of years.  We got Frank Bonner to co-star in this video with Martin. It’s called The Tarleks and it’s about Herb Tarlke from WKRP in Cincinnati from the late 1970s and 1980s, the heyday of modern American sitcoms.  And one day it will be done and you will see it. But until then you just have to fantasize what it might look like.”  It’s a little slow an angular.  Like much of the show it feels either tentative or like they want the audience to be able to experience the songs fully.

“Power Ballad for Ozzy Osbourne” has the opening stanza which they hadn’t been playing live.  This is slower than usual, I think–although it feels like a real ballad the way it builds.  There’s a buzzy wire as well, which I’m sure bugs the band.  “I Dig Music” is a little goofier and less rocking than other versions.  On the way after the middle section MPW plays the drum fill for Rush’s “Lakeside Park” but not quite right.  For “Here Comes the Image” Mike plays a playful almost bell-sounding keyboard solo–although it does cut out a few times during the lengthy solo at the end.

Dave notes: “The worst part of switching instruments is not knowing which beer is yours.”

Mike says, “This song [“Who Is This Man and Why Is He Laughing?”] has no words.  It’s drifting and mellow.  Next up is supposed to be “The Latest Attempt on Your Life” which they have played live before.  But you hear Martin say he doesn’t want to do it: “Let’s skip that one and do ‘Polar Bears.'”  Mike agrees, “If we were doing Dark Side of the Moon or something we’d stick to it but we’re going to deviate.”  It’s a spare but romping version of “Polar Bears” with some loud “hey hey ho hos.”

Dave: This next song is about yesterday’s football game that Tim wrote, uh, four weeks ago. Two days ago?  Friday night?  What day is it?  That was yesterday I was talking Tiger Cats.
Mike: “Making Pierogies.”  It’s a slow mellow song.  Very pretty, especially the guitar parts at the end

Next week is our 4th annual Fall Nationals at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto (corner of Queen and Spadina).  Ten nights in a row this year starting next… the coming Thursday.

Tim: Thanks to Wayne Omaha for playing tonight.  They’re selling their new album back there and if you wanna get their other one Can the Maps. Go For the Beauty, bug them, and they’ll sell it to ya.
Dave: I think those guys should tour prisons. I think it would be really good for the country.  As long as they’re on the right side of the bars.

They skip “Try to Praise This Mutilated World” and go into “P.I.N.”  They play the coda at the beginning and then the songs starts.  Martin sings his verse in a kind of flat deadpan and Dave says Martin Stop rapping and Martin seems to get annoyed or something–he starts singing crazy–more deadpan and then he screams a punky style and then redlines the volume with a scream on the mic–it’s a little disturbing.  They jump into a poppy “Mumbletypeg” and after the first line Dave says “That’s a lot of beer.”  It gets pretty wild by the end.  It segues into a dark “Stolen Car,” with Martin singing “Goodbye suburban motherfuck.”  The middle has a lengthy instrumental section with Tim getting to mess around on bass a bit.

After a relatively long encore break, the come back with “Pornography.”  “We wish that song wasn’t relevant; however, it is.”

Then there’s a slow “California Dreamline.” And they end with a long “Feed Yourself” with a really creepy section of Dave whispering all kinds of things like “me and you in his head.”  The song ends with some wild effects from someone–almost a minute of pinging sounds after which Dave says, Sorry.

[READ: February 21, 2017] Furry Logic

This book came across my desk at work (I’m still bummed that they changed the way we get books at work so I don’t see as many interesting ones as I used to).  It looked interesting, so I brought it home and read it over the weekend.

This is a pop-science book that looks at how animals use physics to their advantage:  “If you’re scared of physics, don;t worry, we’ve kept things simple.”  I enjoyed that the book states right up front that the authors are anthropomorphizing the animals because that makes for a much better story. Even though, in the end, they dismiss this idea.

Chapter 1 is called Heat: The Warm Up Chapter.  In which we learn about gender-swapping snakes, floppy skinned dogs, mosquitoes that wee blood, killer bees, hot-tailed squirrels, vipers that see heat and beetles that hear infrared.

The chapter looks at (using the research of others) how snakes in Manitoba keep warm by piling together in a big clumps.  But more interestingly, there are certain snakes which swap genders (temporarily).  Male snakes secrete female pheromones to attract males for body heat.  We learn that dogs shake the water off of them because the energy they expel from the vigorous shaking is actually far less than the energy they would have to use to keep warm if they were so wet.  The authors talk a lot about just how interesting it is to see their skin flip back and forth (this goes for all mammals since they all seem to shake in vaguely the same way. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: April 2016] The Scarecrow and His Servant 

I was looking for a story that Clark and I could listen to in the mornings when I drove him to school.  I didn’t want it to be too long (our commute was only 15 minutes), but I wanted it to be really enjoyable.

I know Pullman from the His Dark Materials series which I loved.  But I didn’t know much else by him.  This story seemed unusual, to say the least, but it was a perfect length–about 3 hours–for morning drives.

The audio book was read by Graeme Malcolm, and he did an amazing job–he had a great variety of voices at his disposal and he really made the story come to life.

The story is really quite unusual.  It begins with the history of the titular scarecrow.  How a man made him–and gave him a lovely turnip for a head–dressed him smartly and tucked a piece of paper, to show ownership, into his jacket pocket.  Pretty much straightaway, he is stolen, and then stolen again and then one more time until he is very far from home standing in a field.

And then he is struck by lightning and comes to life! (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK
: BATHS-Tiny Desk Concert 300 (September 4, 2013).

I was unfamiliar with Baths and I am impressed by their busy-ness in this set.  There are only two guys playing, both play with various computer gadgets and then switch to keyboards and guitars.  They layer more and more music on this fairly dancey and very electronic sound.

Baths, a.k.a. Will Wiesenfeld, plays mysterious and textured electronic music. When Wiesenfeld came to the Tiny Desk, I expected contemplative tones and a laid-back performance; he does, after all, call his project Baths. But what sets him apart from the vast majority of like-minded performers is that his music doesn’t get buried behind the buttons or lost in a hypnotic glaze.

Wiesenfeld is an extrovert live, and at the Tiny Desk, he sounds vibrant and compelling as he performs songs from this year’s Obsidian. His partner Morgan Greenwood, an accomplished music-maker in his own right, keeps the music dense but frees up Wiesenfeld to sing with few distractions; there’s a mind-meld between the two that’s undeniable. They’re not accustomed to playing in the light of day, but they enchant in this perfect introduction to their work.

Wisenfeld’s vocals are a lot of wordless sounds (ba ba ba, na na na) that get looped and mixed around.  He sings in a rather high register, especially when making the looped sounds.

“Miasma Sky” builds with layers upon layers of sounds and vocals.  The sounds are manipulated in great ways with those little knobs and sliders. And just as you think it’s going to end with a series of delicate synth and guitar notes, he begins looping them which create the building blocks for the rest of the song.   It’s primarily keyboards and glitchy drums until the end.

“Phaedra” begins with some heavy drums and them playing around with all their gadgets.  This is a fast, pumping, dancing song.  Greenwood sings backing vocals in an equally high register.

“Ocean Death” has deep thumping drums and an opening with lots of na na nas and la la las in a textually rich soundscape.  It all fades down o just drums before building back up again.

[READ: July 9, 2016] Ruins

Seven years ago I read a book called Diario de Oaxaca, a sketchbook by Peter Kuper that I really enjoyed.  When I grabbed this book of the shelf the other day I didn’t realize it was the same guy.  But I can see that that sketchbook informed this excellent graphic novel.

The Diario covered his two-year stay in Oaxaca where he drew a lot, studied insects (and saw the monarch butterflies) and experienced both chaos and contentment.

This fictionalized account of the story places two characters into a situation that sounds similar to what he experienced, but with enough difference to keep it purely fictional. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ALPINE-Tiny Desk Concert #295 (August 12, 2013).

I was unfamiliar with Alpine before this show, so the blurb helpfully notes:

The Australian sextet crafts busily impeccable pop music with a danceable sway, prominent synths and the charming shared lead vocals of Phoebe Baker and Lou James. That’s a lot of ingredients to strip down to a semi-acoustic set in the NPR Music offices; there’s virtually no margin for error.  Thankfully, the two women at the band’s heart possess gorgeously interlocking, harmony-intensive voices that require no sweeteners.

Each of the women is fascinating in her own way.  I can’t not mention that Lou James, the dark-haired singer’s outfit is light blue two piece with the top and bottom attached by crossing strands of fabric (so technically it’s a one piece).  While the blonde-haired singer, Phoebe Baker is wearing a flowery dress over a long-sleeved shirt.  Her hair looks like if she unclipped it, it would be a huge nimbus around her head.  But appearances aside, their voices work perfectly together.  They do a lot of singing one note in a pretty staccato fashion (almost like horns).  Their voices meld beautifully, whether singing in harmony or chorus.

I love the little fiddly, interesting guitar chords of the first song, “Gasoline.”  The song doesn’t deviate that much from the beginning—it’s bouncy and catchy–because all of the focus is on the two singers.  It’s really a fun song that I can’t stop listening to.

the second song, “Villages,” opens with a gentle acoustic guitar.  It’s interesting that Baker’s voice is noticeably accented in this song.  Like when she sings “Why don’t you come,” or in the really groovy middle part when James is singing, “I can’t believe I’ve seen this love,” Baker sings “Ah Oh” but you can actually hear her accent in these single notes.

They mention that they were walking around D.C. but it was way too hot.  They saw the White House and the Lincoln memorial.  The guitarist went to the Air and Space Museum (but he’s English) and the drummer is jealous.

I really like the way the third song, “Hands” opens with the vocals singing in an enchanting staccato, “It’s okay to feel the rain on my hand my love.”  And again once the verses start the vocals are very Björk-like

The final song, “Softsides,” is one they’ve never done acoustically before.  It’s also the first time their drummer has played keyboards live.  Once again the vocals are fascinating and really engaging, with each singer doing little pieces of the delicate vocal line.

[READ: July 19, 2016] Dan vs. Nature

I judged this book by its cover and title and deemed it worthy of a read.

I loved the idea of “vs. nature” and didn’t really have any sense of what the book would be a bout but the blurb “an outrageously funny and wicked raunchy romp in the woods” sounded promising.

So I was very surprised that the book began with Dan getting beaten up by jocks (the scene was funny if not a little violent) and then going home to have dinner with his mom and the man he is meeting for the first time–who his mom says just asked her to marry him.

The reason he is getting beaten up by jocks is because of his best friend Charlie.  They have been friends forever and Charlie is super smart.  He’s also a major germaphobe and has been reading everything science-related since he was little.  Charlie is also the school photographer and when he tries to get the jocks to pose for a picture he calls them uriniferous homunculi. They don’t know what that means, but Charlie explains it to them.  So Charlie and Dan both get beat up for it. The gym teacher hears the ruckus and comes out and tells them to save their fighting for the wrestling meet.  Ugh. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: OK GO-Tiny Desk Concert #278 (June 3, 2013).

I love OK Go’s music videos.  They are stupendous. I have watched all of them several times.  And yet I can’t remember a single song.  But that doesn’t diminish my appreciation for them.

When NPR was moving offices, they made a “Tiny Desk Concert” of the band proceeding from their old location to the new one.  And in OK Go fashion, they made a great video to go with it.  The music is live (I believe), even though they must have shot the footage hundreds of times.  It’s sort of a stop motion video, except that it’s not single frames but short 2 second clips spliced together.

You can watch as the old office is dismantled, as they walk through the halls to the moving truck.   As they play on the truck in the streets of D.C. and then as they enter the new building.  There are cameos from NPR colleagues: Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, David Greene, Guy Raz, Scott Simon, Alix Spiegel, Susan Stamberg and more.  There’s a hilarious moment with Karl Kassel who gives them a dirty look.  And then they march through the offices, the news room and into the new Tiny Desk location where they finish the song.

The song is fun and catchy and even has new lyrics that reference the NPR move.  It has to be seen to be appreciated.

And if you like figures here are some details from the shoot:

  • Number of video takes: 223
  • Number of seconds Carl Kasell spent in the elevator with OK Go: 98
  • Number of times Ari Shapiro played the tubular bells: 15
  • Number of days it took to shoot: 2
  • Number of cameras: 1

Incidentally, NPR and I are out of sync with our counting of Tiny Desk Concerts.  I can’t figure out what happened.  The reason mine is correct is because I have written down every concert and numbered them.  So I feel that for them one doesn’t count?  They say this was number 277.  Someday they’ll read this and we’ll get to the  bottom of everything.

[READ: April 1, 2016] No Mercy Vol. 1

Because of the way books are being handled at my work now, I don’t get to see as many books as I used to. So i was pretty delighted to get this graphic novel on my desk.  Even if I didn’t quite know what it was about, I wanted to read it.  And boy did I enjoy it.

I had no idea that the cast was a group of aspiring Princeton University students on a per-freshman trip to an underprivileged county (I like the t-shirts that say Building Bridges Helping Hands with a kinda Princeton P on the front.

We meet the cast in a cool way–each one steeping forward a bit in the crowd and giving a bit of information about themselves…mostly through text messages. Oh and I loved the way the opening colophon pages looked just like Facebook (or whatever) with a timeline photo and then on the right side–sponsored images with drawings of the author and the illustrators and an ad for an other Image comic by Alex de Campi called Valentine–genius layout idea.

There’s also a comment under the photo which says “OMG how sad, they were also young.”  So you know something bad is going to happen these poor kids. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: OLIVER ‘TUKU’ MTUKUDZI-Tiny Desk Concert #307 (September 30, 2017).

The blurb says that this guitarist is a legend, which makes me feel bad that I’ve never heard of him.

He seemed so casual — sitting on a bar stool behind the Tiny Desk, acoustic guitar in hand — but when you hear that husky voice, you’ll know why he’s a legend. Oliver Mtukudzi, or “Tuku” as his fans lovingly call him, plays spirited music, born from the soul of Zimbabwe. He’s been recording since the late 1970s, with about as many albums as his age: 60.

But Mtukudzi’s new record reveals a heavier heart than before: Sarawoga is his first recording since the loss of his son Sam. He and Sam — also a guitar player, as well as a saxophonist — had a special relationship touring together. But in March 2010, Sam Mtukudzi was killed in a car crash at the age of 21. Oliver Mtukudzi recently told NPR’s Tell Me More that “the only way to console myself is to carry on doing what we loved doing most. Sitting down [to] cry and mourn — I think it would have killed me.”

All three songs, “Todii,” “Huroi” and “Haidyoreke” are all gentle, with Tuku’s guitar playing mellow meandering melodies and his gravelly voice being soothing at the same time.  It’s interesting that for “Todii,” a more upbeat song he is clearly singing not in English, but the chorus (sung by the backing musicians) is “What Shall We Do.”  The backing musicians are there for percussion–congas, and maracas–and backing vocals.  And their vocals are done in a traditional way.

[READ: January 2, 2017] Volcanoes

This Science Comics book was very different from the previous two.  It was designed as a fictional story full of with factual information.

At first I found this really weird and off-putting, but by the end, I thought the story was pretty compelling and that the factual information was presented in an interesting and informative way.  And what I realized afterward was not that I didn’t like the fictional aspect but that I really didn’t like the illustrations.

For some reason, Chad chose to have the main characters with very distinctive and unusual features.  Aurora, the main character had a line of black hair down her forehead.  Her sister, Luna, has really really big eyes and their guardian, Pallas, has a block of gray hair.  I found all of these choices to be unsettling and unpleasing to look at (although it does allow us to tell them apart quite easily).  However the volcano and other nature images were really fantastic. (more…)

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