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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Rivoli, Toronto, ON (November 11, 1989).

“This is not the best sounding show – it sounds like a 25-year-old soundboard from a small club which is what it is – It is very interesting though as it is from a poorly represented period between Greatest Hits and Melville.”

The notes also say:

It contains early versions of Northern Wish, Aliens, Record Body Count, Christopher, King Of The Past, Horses, Chanson Les Reulles, Queer and When Winter Comes. Horses refers to Ozzy getting caught on the high voltage wire. Queer doesn’t have the ending portion yet, lyrics to Soul Glue are not quite the same etc. Plus a bunch of songs which were not played often such as Seems Like, Uptake, Poor Mouth and As I Was Going Down The Stairs (which sounds like it was a precursor to Triangles On The Walls).

I don’t think it’s a precursor actually, but that’s just me.

Northern Wish has a lot of hiss and a rather disconcerting echo on Martin’s vocals. The hiss comes and goes on a few songs, but is mostly absent.

“Aliens” has some notable lyric changes.  “Woodstuck” gets the CSNY intro (which he says they never do anymore).  In this version they sing in silly falsetto.

Northern Wish, Aliens, Record Body Count and Christopher sounds pretty much the same (and very good), although Christopher has some interesting sounds on guitar strings–maybe from Dave?–during the solo.  Christopher: “That was about Etobicoke, where we’re from.” and this [“King of the Past”] is about our trip to Winnipeg (with the disconcerting lyric change: “I won’t close my eyes–oh nevermind” instead of “I won’t close my eyes to the passage of time.”

As the intro to “Horses,” Dave asks, “Hey Mr lighting guy can you make it look like the hull of a freighter?”  or “can you make me look like thee tar of the band?” “Dave Clark responds: “Yes, just turn around and show your ass.”  The song totally rocks, but it’s really weird not hearing the audience sing along to “Holy Mackinaw, Joe.”  I trust they responded appropriately the awesomeness of the ending of the song.

After the song they have “the ceremonial exchanging of the instruments (that we can’t play).”  Martin says he got a book out of the library about ghosts across Canada.  And he wrote this song about it.  Dave interjects, This is dedicated to Jim Hughes.  Then Martin says, “That’s the first time I’ve ever spoken on stage.”  The lyric is “As I was going up the stairs, I met a man who wasn’t there” played with accordion, by Tim I think! (apparently the poem is called “Antigonish”).  They continue with the accordion on “What’s Going On” (which gets cut off).

You gotta stand up for three minutes and 20 seconds while they play the drum-heavy “Chanson Les Reulles” (which Dave says he can’t understand).  They play “Queer” and mess it all up: Clark says “don’t you hate it when the drummer counts in?”  It has a really lengthy intro and no ending.

“This is a song Martin wrote I have no idea what it’s about.  All you guys and girls at the bar, there’s plenty of room up front.”  Seem Like” is a quiet song with some dark lyrics and a cool effects filled guitar break.  “Poor Mouth” is a slow mournful ballad by Bidini (with some loud growls at the end of each section).

They say “It’s hard to tell if we stink or not.”  Clark asks, “Hey Dave, if you were hiding from a guy with a gun, would you stick your fluorescent yellow flag out or would you hide it under your camouflage jacket?”  Not sure if that is an introduction to “When Winter Comes” or not, but the song sounds great.

Dave then does a poem which is kind of stupid (like usual).  Then they play “Good on the Uptake” they played a lot but never officially recorded.  It’s got a lot of their early new wave style but with Martin’s wild guitars.  It segues into a wildly chaotic “PROD.”  Midway through Bidini wanders into the crowd.  He tries to get the audience to sing.  Some do, but one guy speaks it, “oh no, you have to sing melodiously.  That’s why we came out here.”

For the final song, called “Grant’s Song in G,” Clark shouts, “Grant? Sober enough to play drums?  Come on up.”  It’s all silliness for about a minute and then Clark starts singing an intense anti-drug song: “well you had your chance / and you blew it / up your nose / in your arm / in the car at the end of that…” When he shouts “Take it away Marty,” the tape ends.

[READ: August 28, 2016] “Home”

I hate when the first sentence of a story throws you.  I don’t know if it was the typographical layout, but I had to read this sentence three times before it sank in: “Lee was the daughter of his mother’s hairdresser.”

Once unpacked, it made perfect sense.  The He is the main character of the story.  Jim had heard about Lee for years.  She as in an abusive relationship and finally got out. Jim’s mother told him that Lee was looking for a lawyer (which Jim is).  He initially refused but then agreed to take her out to dinner because “she’s a beautiful girl.”

Jim’s ex-wife was pretty, sure, but Lee is stunning.  He can’t believe that he is having dinner and then seeing her in his own house later that night. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 23, 2016] S.T.O.P.

stopIf you have a teen or pre-teen and you are concerned about how they will deal with bullying, sex, body issues or, heaven forbid, heroin, this performance is a must-see both for your child and you.  The performers are all high school students.  They wrote the pieces and they are intended for high school students (and middle school).  If you can’t see them yourself, contact your school or community group to arrange for them to do their show.  It is intense and really effective.

When the fifth grade completed the D.A.R.E. program at school, the ceremony included a piece by this group.  The piece was called “Jack & Jill” and it told the story of how an underage party led to the death of two teens.  There were a couple of moments of humor, but the message was intense and the acting was really good (they “rewound” the story and the actors did a great job of going backwards–including one boy who “fell up” the couch (he fell off it earlier).

After they were done, they said that the troupe would be doing their full hour-long show in May and that was open to anyone in 5th grade and older.  I was amazed that Clark wanted to go as it’s not really his thing.  And so we went.  He was bummed that only a couple of kids he knew showed up.  I was bummed at how few people showed up at all.   And so I wanted to post about the show to get the group some recognition because what they did was really powerful and I think should be seen by just about everyone.

When we arrived, the teacher in charge of the group Miranda DeStefano-Meene told us that the show would be uncensored and pretty intense.  The program says that the words on stage “may embarrass, hurt, offend, scare and anger you.  That is intentional.”  The second paragraph spoke of the heroin epidemic in our society which is bigger than any other drug epidemic in recorded history, which I did not know.

And so we sat back and watched this show.  Now, I happen to think that Clark may not have been exposed to a lot of what was going on in this play (which I’m grateful for).  So this show may have been really intense for him (I know I spent the whole show wondering what he thought).  After the show the only thing he said was that it made hm sad.  And we did talk a little about the messages, but he’s a tight-lipped kid, so I can only hope he’ll come back to me with more questions if they arise.

And what questions he must have.  For this show tackled so many problems facing teens.  (more…)

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nyoct20 SOUNDTRACK: PRIMUS-“South Park” Theme Song (1997).

In 1997, Trey Parker and Matt Stone asked Primus to recsouthparkord a theme song for their new show South Park.  They joked that the show might not even be picked up, but whatevs–it could also be a hit.

Of course, it turns out that this show has probably made Les and the boys more money than anything else they’ve done.

Interestingly, the original song they submitted was 1 minute long (way too long for an intro) and rather slow and creepy.  Rather than have them edit it or re-record it, the South Park team just sped it up (and removed the solos, which they put at the end) and then asked Les to re-sing it.

So here is the original, rather creepy version of the theme song.

And here is the final product

[READ: January 10, 2015] “Ordinary Sins”

This is the story of Crystal.  Crystal works at a local parish as secretary.  She took the job thinking it would be temporary. Then she got pregnant unexpectedly (there’s no father around) and now she is stuck (and grateful that the church is keeping her on).

Her co-worker, Collette, totally disdains her and tries to make things unpleasant for her.  In fairness, Collette tries to make things unpleasant for everyone.

The priest at the Parish, Father Paul, is super nice and quite kind, especially to Crystal.  He seems to give her little bits of encouragement throughout the day.  He is a former alcoholic and from what Crystal can tell, he has more than made up for his sins and (since she knows everything about him, really) he seems pretty devoid of all sin at this point.

He encourages her to go to confession.  Eventually she does.  But during the confession, she confessed a bit more than she meant to, .  And since she knows he knew it was her–how could he not?–she tries to hide from him, believing that things will be weird.  And things do get weird, but they seem to be more weird because of Father Paul not what she said. (more…)

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onesummSOUNDTRACK: “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-”Foil” (2014).

foil;I wasn’t a huge fan of Lorde’s song “Royals.”  I liked it enough but it never really blew me away.  Al’s parody “Foil” seems obvious and yet it is such a wonderfully twisted take on the song that I think it’s just fantastic.

The video is set up like an infomercial (with Patton Oswalt as the director).  And it begins simply enough with all of the useful things you can do with aluminum foil (foy-ul).

What makes this better than a simple jokey song about using foil for your leftovers is that midway through the song, he tackles the more sinister uses of foil–keeping aliens out of your head.  The way the video switches from bright infomercial to sinister Illuminati conspiracy show is great.  And, amazingly enough he is able to keep the same bright Lorde-isms all the way through.

[READ: June 30, 2014] This One Summer

This One Summer is the second collaboration between Mariko and Jillian Tamaki.  In Skim, Jillian’s drawings reflected a very Japanese style of artistry, while in this book, the drawings are far more American/conventional.  This isn’t a bad thing at all, as they complement the story very nicely.

This is a fairly simple story (despite its length) about a family that goes to Awago beach “where beer grows on trees and everyone can sleep until eleven” each summer.  The protagonist is a young girl, Rose.  She is an only child and she looks forward to seeing her friend Windy there–they only see each other on these summer vacations.  Windy is a year younger, although she acts older and braver.  The girls are thrilled to swim, to watch horror movies and eat all the junk that they can.

But in this one summer things are not idyllic.  What I really liked about this story was that although nothing really happens to Rose or Windy, stuff happens all around them, and of course it impacts them as well.

The first thing is that Rose is finally interested in boys, specifically the boy who works at the convenience store in town, Duncan.  But Duncan is older–probably 17 and is dating a girl named Jenny. He teases with Rose and Windy but in a dismissive older brother sort of way–exactly the way that makes a crazy crush develop for Rose.  Windy and Rose are young, but are not that young–so they are full of misinformation.  And when they hear the older girls–Jenny’s friends–in town talking about things–abortions, oral sex–they learn more without learning everything . (more…)

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pharm SOUNDTRACK: BLACK OX ORKESTAR-Ver Tanzt? [CST029] (2004).

cst029webBlack Ox Orkestar play traditional Yiddish music in a somewhat untraditional manner.

There are half instrumentals and half songs with vocals sung in Yiddish (which means I don’t know what they mean).  According to the Constellation website they are a: blend of originals and new arrangements for pieces pulled from various Eastern European songbooks.  And since the members come from “punk-rock, free-jazz, and other liberation musics,” it’s an approach to this music that may interest people who don’t normally like traditional music (and may turn off those who do).

.  I can’t really speak to the music, as I’m quite unfamiliar with it.  I prefer the instrumentals because I like the way the music tends to interweave.  Like “Cretan Song” which is a rollicking fun song like the Yiddish equivalent of an Irish seisún.  And yet. some of the vocals songs are really enjoyable too, like “Toyte Goyes in Shineln” which has a great melody and feels very familiar to me.  While “Ver Tantz?” begins as a slow melancholy song and turns rambunctious–almost chaotic.

Enjoyment depends on an appreciation for tradition Yiddish music, of course.

[READ: May 5, 2014] The Pharmacist’s Mate

I read this book a few years ago.  I read it again because McSweeney’s reissued it with Fusselman’s other book 8 on the flip side.  I wanted to read 8 and decided that since Pharmacist was so short I would read it as well.

And I’m glad I did because while they are not related exactly, they both work as a form of non-fiction and 8 is a nice postscript to what she talks about in Pharmacist.

As with most genre defying books, this is more or less a memoir, although it is written in a somewhat strange format–each small section is numbered (and eventually all the numbers turn into 1s because she realizes that she is starting anew with each section.

The Pharmacist’s mate of the title is her father, now deceased.  She includes notes from his time in the war as a sort of parallel to what’s going on with her own life. She very much wants a baby.  And through the book we see her engage in multiple ways of conceiving from natural to in vitro.  And then we read her angst about becoming a parent  And losing a parent. (more…)

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hewSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Angry Buddaz Kitchener, ON (November 7, 1999).

07Dec1999For reasons I’m unclear about there were only two available shows from 1998 for the Rhesotatics.  Similarly, there are only three from 1999.  Actually, I’m surprised there are so many shows available from so long ago at all, so no complaints, but it’s funny to see the drop off in these final two years.  These late 90s shows are notable for being short, primary because of technical glitches.  Like this one, which sounds great but because of technical snafus the first 8 songs of the show were missed.

It’s a particular shame because the show sounds so good.  They play some Harmelodia songs which is fun.  Beyond that the version of “Stolen Car” is awesome.  “Feed Yourself” has a very lengthy jam including some poetry.  They also have some fun with it being near the new millennium with a funny “outer space” sound.  And they play some “jingles” like a made up one for Snapple and one for Marlboro–the smoke that hurts.

The final song, which comes from Harmelodia has a very country music feel in this version, which is interesting–it’s not something they do much.  So this was another good show, shame about us missing so much of it.  And about the fact that Angry Buddaz does not come up on any searches as a real club.

[READ: March 6, 2014] The Swearing Jar

Once again a flurry of books have come across my desk which I felt compelled to read (even though I have other things waiting impatiently for me).  But how to resist a play called The Swearing Jar.

This play is set up in a nonlinear style which is excellent for the way the story is told.  It is actually a very simple story of love and loss.  And swearing.

As the play opens we see Carey and Owen on a stage (in fact the way the play opens sounds quite ingenious–and involves audience participation).  They are on stage performing for Carey’s husband’s birthday.  She has written many songs including, as the play opens properly, the first one which she actually wrote for him before they met.

Then there are flashbacks.  We see Carey and Simon together (we don’t see them meet)–we see them happy together as she explains that she is pregnant.  We also see that he was going to tell her something but is now holding off because of her news.  Despite their happiness, their relationship is somehow fraught–not really in danger, but there’s a lot of bickering and simple misunderstandings which imply I think more volatility than actually exists. (more…)

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wallsSOUNDTRACK: PHISH-Round Room (2002).

round After Farmhouse, Phish went on a hiatus.  No one knew it would be quite so brief, but there was really a feeling that they were done.

And then they quietly released Round Room in 2002.  And it bursts forth with an 11 minute song.

“Pebbles and Marbles” has an interesting riff—complex and pretty.  And when I listened to it again recently I didn’t really quite recognize it.  But that’s because it’s nearly 12 minutes long and the really catchy part comes later in the song.  At around 5 minutes, the catchy chorus of “pebbles and marbles and things on my mind” announces itself.  And it is a good one.

“Anything but Me” is a pretty, mature song that is slow and piano heavy.  “Round Room” is a boppy little ditty (clearly a song written by Mike).  It is sweet and a little weird.  “Mexican Cousin” sounds a lot like a cover (maybe an old song by The Band) except for the solo which is very Trey.  It’s a funny, silly ode to Tequila.  “Friday” is a slow six minute song with two sections.  The verses are spaced out a bit, delicate riffs that are mostly piano once again.  The middle section is sung by Mike (which makes it more mellow somehow).

“Seven Below” is an 8 minute song.  It has another great riff (and the intro music is cool and bouncey).  When the vocals come in, it’s got gentle harmonies as they croon the sweet song).  Most of the 8 minutes are taking up with a guitar solo.  “Mock Song” is another of Mike’s songs.  This one seems to be a random selection of items sung to a nice melody.  Then when the chorus comes it’s quite nice, how this is a “just a mock song.”  The first verse is sung by Mike, then Trey does a kind of fugue vocal with different words in verse two.

“46 Days” opens with funky cowbells and turns into what seems like a classic rocking folk song—few words but a great classic rock melody (complete with 70s era keyboards).  “All of These Dreams” is a mellow piano piece, another mature song.  “Walls of the Cave” has an interesting piano melody that opens the song. The song is nearly ten minutes long and the middle part has a nice flowing feel to it.  There’s also a few sections that are separated be drum breaks—something that doesn’t often happen in Phish songs.  When the third part opens (to almost exclusively percussion, their vocals all work in a very nice harmony.  It’s a long song but with so many parts it always stays interesting.  “Thunderhead” is another piano-based song with some guitar riffs thrown on top. But it is largely a slow, mellow piece.

“Waves” is an 11 minute song with long instrumental passages.  It also begins with a kind of Santana feel to it, but it is a largely meandering song, with a simple melody that they stretch out for much of the song.  So this album proves to be an interesting mix of long jams and mellow ballady type songs.  It seems like Phish had a big mix of things to let loose.

[READ: November 1, 2013] If Walls Could Talk

This book reminds me of the work of Mary Roach—exploring a topic in great detail and including lots of amusing insights.  The two big differences here are that Worsley is British and that she goes back very far in British history to give us this fascinating information about the development of certain rooms of the house.

Worsley begins with the bedroom.  She looks at the furniture—the history of the bed from lumps with straw to fantastically ornate full poster beds that were made for kings who might never actually use them.

Then she moves on to more personal matters—sex (including deviant sex and venereal disease); breast feeding (for centuries mothers felt they were not equipped to take care of and nurse their own children, hence wet-nurses) and knickers (royalty had an entourage designed specifically to assist with underthings).  Indeed, privacy was an unknown thing in olden times.  Even royalty was expected to receive people in all of the rooms in the house.  Initially the bed chamber was for their most intimate friends, not just for sleeping.

The section on old medicine was also fascinating, they believed that it was vaporous miasma that did you more harm than say, excrement-filled water.

The section on Sleep discusses what was also in a recent article by Gideon Lewis-Kraus—that there were two sleep times at night.  With no electricity there was no artificial light to keep people up late so they would go to sleep early, wake up in the middle of the night (the best time for conception of children) and then sleep again. (more…)

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