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Archive for the ‘WRFF 104.5 FM–Philadelphia, PA’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: WEEZER-Christmas EP (2000).

I heard a Weezer Christmas song this weekend when WRFF in Philadelphia was playing a Christmas takeover weekend–rock bands playing Christmas songs.

 I discovered the Christmas with Weezer EP, but the song they played was on this 2000 release.

That song is called “The Christmas Song” which is not any other Christmas song; it is a Weezer original.

With a heavy riff, Rivers sings a song of woe as the woman who told him she’d be there with him has stood him up and he is “waiting beside the tree all by myself.”

I like how the bridge features a note that sounds a bit like the “faaaaalll on your knees” part of “O Holy Night.”  Although it is actually, “Aaaaaaaah. Could you ever know how much I care?”  It’s got a very Weezer sound.

The other song on this release is called “Christmas Celebration.”  It’s a faster punkier song and despite the title, it is not much of a celebration .After a run-through of things that happens on Christmas

Carolers are singing
Registers ka-chinging
And the presents are in place
But I’d rather eat some mace
Cos that egg nog always makes me sick

we get to the crux.  Despite the “hoo hoo” at the end of each line, the vibe is negative.  The final repeated refrain is “The pageantry is such a bore.”

Not the most sentimental Christmas songs, although they are both quite catchy.

[READ: December 22, 2019] “Government Slots”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fourth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

The Short Story Advent Calendar is back! And to celebrate its fifth anniversary, we’ve decided to make the festivities even more festive, with five different coloured editions to help you ring in the holiday season.

No matter which colour you choose, the insides are the same: it’s another collection of expertly curated, individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America and beyond.

(This is a collection of literary, non-religious short stories for adults. For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.)

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

I’m pairing music this year with some Christmas songs that I have come across this year.

This was another of my favorite stories in the Advent Calendar.  It was so unexpected and thought-provoking.

I love how it starts on seemingly familiar ground with a list of three items: “three brown dahlias, pressed and dried; a photograph of a meadow in spring; a compass.”

It is Christmas Day and this federal office is open–the only federal office open. They are open every day because you never know.

An old woman comes past security and hands over her papers.  After an approval, she hands over her item–a sandwich bag full of cloud white fur.  But it is denied–nothing perishable or alive.

Another list of items: an endorsement letter signed by a cardinal; a miniature compendium of prayers for the dead; a pack of condoms. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WEEZER-Christmas with Weezer (2008).

I heard a Weezer Christmas song this weekend when WRFF in Philadelphia was playing a Christmas takeover weekend–rock bands playing Christmas songs.

When I looked up the song, I found out that Weezer released this EP in 2008.  It had originally been released for a video game called Christmas with Weezer (?!).  Evidently the game was Tap Tap which featured 18 band-specific versions!

This EP has six songs in under 13 minutes.  Each one of the tracks is pretty straight-ahead Weezer guitar rock.  They are bouncy and short, with nothing weird or crazy in them.

“We Wish You A Merry Christmas” starts out with a quiet guitar and then just rocks out when the lyrics come in.  The song is quick and to the point–no messing around.  There’s figgy pudding, there’s a short guitar solo, there’s a key change and its all done in a minute and a half.

“O Come All You Faithful” moves along at a nice clip.  This song is often done rather slowly and this is a fun change of pace.  The back half has a part where the guitars fade out and its a quiet verse before they all come back in to rock the finish.

“O Holy Night” is two times longer than anything else on the EP.  It’s a 4 minute, quiet version with a simple, picked electric guitar melody.  That is until the Weezer guitars kick in after about 40 seconds.  The song is still respectful and very catchy

“The First Noel” starts with an unexpected four note heavy guitar riff before the song resumes it faithful lyrics.

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” has a rocking intro before a bass slide kicks the song into high gear.  This song romps through in 90 seconds.

“Silent Night” is a slower song with no drums, just tambourine.

This is a pretty ideal alternative collection of Christmas songs–nothing too crazy, but a nice change from the familiar.   Although it did not actually contain the song I was looking for.

[READ: December 21, 2019] “The Carnation Milk Palace”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fourth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

The Short Story Advent Calendar is back! And to celebrate its fifth anniversary, we’ve decided to make the festivities even more festive, with five different coloured editions to help you ring in the holiday season.

No matter which colour you choose, the insides are the same: it’s another collection of expertly curated, individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America and beyond.

(This is a collection of literary, non-religious short stories for adults. For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.)

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

I’m pairing music this year with some Christmas songs that I have come across this year.

This story is set in 1964 and concerns fourteen-year-old Charlotte.  She and her family were invited to the Halden’s house for a New Year’s Eve party.

The Haldens were the richest people her parents knew.  They lived in a mansion that her father liked to call The Carnation Milk Palace.  Charlotte’s family couldn’t even afford new things. It was quite a disparity.  Her mother painted things to try to make them current (which meant avocado green). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 30, 2018] Flora Cash

Flora Cash had a pretty thankless task when they came out at the Bowery Ballroom.

Aurora was performing her only area appearance (aside from a show at Governor’s Ball that I knew I wasn’t going to).  And there was no word of an opening band.  It seemed unlikely that she wouldn’t have one, but as late as that evening, there was no word about one.

So when Flora Cash guitarist Cole Randall came out with his hair bleached the color of Aurora’s for a split second many of us thought it was her–until we saw his black beard.

Randall played an acoustic guitar and sang while his partner Shpresa Lleshaj played the laptop–playing beats and backing tracks while she sang lead and backing vocals.

Flora Cash’s backstory was more exciting than their music, I will admit.  They told us about how they met between songs, but here’s the condensed version from their website: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: METRIC-“Gold Guns Girls” (2009).

I mentioned to Sarah that WRFF plays this song all the time and that I really liked it but I had no idea what the band or even the song title was because they never say it.  And, I couldn’t really figure out any of the words (I’m usually working with loud tools) to investigate online.

Well, we were in the car the other day and, of course, they played it again.  Happily, the Prius has a “message” button on the radio that tells you the names of the band and the song title (if the radio station provides it).  Huzzah, here’s the song (hilariously, they played it on the way home from our Halloween party too, proving my point that they really over-play this song).  But I still think its great.

I’ve been interested in Metric for a while (there are members of Broken Social Scene in the band) but for some reason I never listened to them.

This track opens with a fast guitar riff which is undercut by this cool bass riff.  Over the top staccato vocals (that come in unexpectedly) and a nice harmony type vocal (like later period Lush) make this opening really captivating.

The repeated chorus “Is it ever gonna be enough” (with I think whispered “enough”s in the background) remind me so much of the mid 90s alt rock that I love so much.  I have no idea if the rest of the disc is like this, but I have finally bitten the bullet and decided to order the whole thing.  I hope I’m not disappointed.

[READ: 2005 & October 25, 2010] “Bird-Dogging the Bush Vote”

A while ago I read a whole bunch of pieces by Wells Tower.  I intended to read all of the pieces I could find by him and I discovered he had written a few pieces for Harper’s as well as the articles for Outside.  I’m fairly certain I read this story back in 2005 when it came out, as it sounds kind of familiar, but maybe I, like Tower himself, was too bummed with the results to actually read about it in detail.

In this piece, Tower decides to go “undercover” and volunteers at some Bush/Cheney offices in Florida (a pivotal state that year and one in which malfeasance was predicted on a large scale).  Tower is unabashed about his distaste for Bush (to us, not to the Floridians).  He admits that he did feel a bit of hope in the President right after the events of September 11, 2001, but by September 12, he was already disgusted with him again.

And so he spends a few weeks in Florida actually asking people to vote for Bush in hopes of finding something out of the ordinary.  Which, aside from some real mean spiritedness (which I’m sure was the same in the Kerry camp), there was nothing scandalous to report.   Although I will say that the example he gives (telling a Democrat that voting was on the day after the actual election, which I’d seen in a number of other places too, really pisses me off despite its fairly innocuousness and no doubt ineffectiveness–as a librarian I hate telling lies to people). (more…)

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frip1SOUNDTRACK: WRFF 104.5  FM & WRXP 101.9 FM.

1045The CD player in my car died.  I have been listening to the radio these last few days.  At first I was a little rxpexcited at the thought of listening to these stations that I so recently discovered.  But let me say, when working outside in the yard, you don’t mind what the stations are playing as much as you do when confined in a car.

Everyone hates commercials.  True.  But I never really noticed how all stations play commercials at the exact same time.  So you can’t even switch back and forth between the two stations without someone yelling at you to buy something.

But the real problem comes with the music.  Now, these are stations that I like and the bulk of the music they play is very good.  However, after being stuck in the car for more than three hour with these two, I’m ready to strangle them.  WRFF based in Philadelphia seems to have copped its set list from the venerable Boston radio station WFNX circa 1995.  I loved the Toadies back then and was thrilled to hear them again.  But I don’t need to hear them every other day, now.  And, WRFF loves the Police, almost obsessively.  Now, I like the Police quite a lot, but for RFF, The Police seem to be their go-to band.  Hey, we’ve got a slot to fill, let’s throw on “Message in a Bottle.”  Again.  I like the Police, but come on!  And, of course, there’s Airborne Toxic Event.  I think every time I turn on that station I hear “Some Time Around Midnight.”

And WRXP is just a little too fixated on the classic rock.  When I first started listening I was pretty excited at the mix of classic rock and alternative stuff.  But at this point, I’ve grown tired of the classic rock, especially since it seems to be all second-tier classic rock.  You know, I don’t really need to hear “Money for Nothing” anymore.

And so, I am left scanning the dials.  And, I am ashamed to say that it took me a few days to search to the left of the dial, where I know good music normally resides.  In my defense, where I used to live didn’t have much access to those stations.  But now that I live within shouting distance of Rutgers, there is much to be joyous about.

[READ: May 5, 2009] The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip

frip2I had read this short book about six months ago, but decided to read it again before posting on it.  The second time through was a much more satisfying read for some reason.

This story is about a small town called Frip.  Frip is on the edge of a cliff above the sea.  Lurking in the sea are a multitude of gappers.  Gappers are small orange urchin-like creatures.  Gappers love goats.  Not to eat or to do anything evil to, they just love them.  Goats make them happy.  Conveniently for the gappers, the three families who live closest to the edge of the cliff all keep goats.  Unfortunately for the families and the goats, hundreds of gappers climb on the goats and shriek with delight whenever they cling.  This is rather disconcerting for the goats, who stop eating and stop producing milk.

The three families are:  our heroine Capable and her dad, her neighbor Mrs Romo and her two boys (who spend their non-gapper moments practicing singing), and Mr & Mrs P and their two girls (who practice looking pretty for boys).  The children are employed to go out to the goats eight times a day, scrape the gappers off the goats and throw them back into the sea.

One day, the gappers realize they can go to just one house, instead of all three.  So, they choose Capable’s house (which is closest).  Now her neighbors have no gappers, but Capable is overwhelmed by them.  Capable asks for help but the neighbors tell her that the gappers are her problem now. (more…)

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newyorker3SOUNDTRACK: AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT-“Sometime Around Midnight” (2009).

ateI’ve been hearing this song on the radio a lot lately (WRFF especially seems to play it a lot).  But they never said who it was!  I liked it, but I was sure it sounded like an old song.  Ack, but what was it?  I kept coming up with a band called Dear Mr. President.  And then I heard the truth.  It was the Airborne Toxic Event.

I’m still not sure that Dear Mr President is who I’m thinking of, but their song “Fate” has a similar vocal style at the beginning…it morphs into a different song altogether, but maybe that is what  was thinking of.

As for this ATE song, I really like it.  It’s got this weird quality that I find appealing.  It’s  a slow builder, but the vocals are what’s so intriguing about it…very understated with a whispered feel, until the big stadium chorus comes in.  And yet, there’s no chorus.  The song builds and builds to a chorus that never arrives.  Nice trick, guys.

Heh, I was just looking back over my previous post about Airborne Toxic Event, and I see that I do know this song from when I first listened to it on MySpace back in June 2008.  At that time I compared them to the Church.  I guess I can’t let them be their own band.

I’m certainly going to have to check out their CD

[READ: March 26, 2009] “Tails of Manhattan”

I don’t always include the one page pieces from the New Yorker, but since I like Woody Allen, I figured I’d include this one.  It also gets a special mention because in Allen’s collected essays he often has jokey pieces that are topical, and it’s rather rare that I am completely aware of the topical reference.

This piece is about two old Jewish men who are reincarnated as lobsters (funny in itself), but it also concerns Bernie Madoff.  And since it’s unavoidable, I know who Madoff is an what he did.  I assume this piece would be funny in even you didn’t know who that was (or in 5 years when we forget), because the idea of lobster revenge is always funny.

Allen’s New Yorker pieces aren’t always funny, so it’s nice to see that he can still do a concise little piece like this that really hits the mark.

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harpersaprilSOUNDTRACK: BILLY IDOL

spikeBilly Idol plagues my existence.  Ever since he popped up on the scene (my first exposure was “White Wedding”) I thought he was kind of goofy. He has some kind of claim to cred and fame from being in Generation X, and yet I have never heard a song by Generation X and I never hear them mentioned anywhere except as being the band that spawned Billy Idol.

And yet, through the 80s he proliferated with a series of increasingly stupid singles: “White Wedding” (Everyone mocked the lip thing.  And that scream at the end–come on!).  Then came “Dancing with Myself” (This guy is a punk legend? And that “sweat sweat sweat sweat” chant–come on!).  Then we get “Eyes Without a Face,” (A ballad that is apparently be profound, but really?  “Eyes without a face got no human grace”–come on!).

So, basically I can’t stand Billy Idol.  Which would be fine.  I don’t have to hear him right?  I mean it’s been 27 years since these songs came out.  But no!  I was working in the garden, which means listening to the radio.  Between 101.9 WRXP (my new favorite station) and Radio 104.5 WRFF (my even newer favorite station) I heard TWO Billy Idol songs in three hours.  And this was in the midst of an otherwise awesome collection of tunes.  And then, just to add insult to injury, TiVo had recorded a VH1 morning music block, and as I was fast forwarding through it “Eyes Without a Face” came on.

Three Billy Idols in the span of a day.  Good grief.

I can only hope that by writing this, I can purge my Idol dismay and break the curse.  And I had to include a picture of Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer just to take away the stigma of a Billy Idol photo on one of my posts.

[READ: March 25, 2009] “The Quarrel in the Strong-Box”

I’m surprised at how much Mark Twain has been coming up lately. This piece is a fable, (written in 1897), about two pages long, and is very Twain-ian.

The basic gist is that all of the money in a strongbox is vying for most important coin or bill. It begins with a simple argument between a nickle and a penny. The nickle argues (in a not-so-subtly racist manner) that the copper coin is second class, since the nickle is worth so much more. Then various denominations chime in, all arguing that they are more valuable.

It is taken to a court, where the penny argues that all coins are created equal. The judge determines that all of the coins get the same amount of interest (at the time 5%) regardless of their actual value. And in that regard they are all created equal. What happens after that is up to them to determine.

A good and pertinent fable, even if it is 112 years old.

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