Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Santa Claus’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: SHE & HIM-Christmas Party (2016).

The first She & Him Christmas album was a little flat, a little dull.  So I wasn’t that excited to get a new one.  But this one is so much more fun than the first.

Zooey Deschanel feels much looser and freer and the music is more lush and not so restrained.  It’s still not anything like the craziness that Zooey Deschanel is capable of. In fact, there’s a lot of restraint.  But some fun is certainly have, mostly as little asides.

“All I Want for Christmas Is You” starts the album and you can hear the big change.  There’s a choir singing behind her which sounds huge (in comparison) and Zooey puts a nice vibrato on her voice.  There’s drums and a bouncy beat.  This album feels very much alive compared to the first one.

“Let It Snow” slows things down.  But it’s and jazzy very appropriate to the song.

“Must Be Santa” is a silly fun track.  This one has accordion and a bouncy backing chorus.  Like in the Dylan version, they list the presidents along with the reindeer.  But it hurts a lot that after the first batch of presidents, they tack on Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, which hurts a lot.

“Happy Holiday” has a pretty, echoey guitar and Zooey really shows off her voice nicely.

“Mele Kalikimaka” is a favorite Christmas song.  This version is a little delicate compared to the more rocking version, but it does capture a Hawaiian spirit.

“Christmas Memories” is a bit too slow for my liking but it is a pretty song.

“Run Run Rudolph” M sings lead.  This song is kinda dumb when you actually hear the words.  I’m surprised they didn’t upend gender stereotypes on this one like they did on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

“Winter Wonderland” a duet with Jenny Lewis.  It’s fun to hear another voice with hers.  There’s a goofy moment where Jenny sings, “we can pretend he is Jerry Brown.”

“The Coldest Night of the Year” is a nice sweet duet.  When the chorus comes in with Ward in the backing vocals it sounds really great.

“A Marshmallow World” is perfect for her.  Fun and bouncey and surprisingly restrained for what it could have been.

“The Man with the Bag” is pretty and old-fashioned-sounding.  Zooey does this style very well.

“Christmas Don’t Be Late” This normally hyperactive song is almost like a dirge.  I don’t know why the excitement has been removed from it.  It’s a bummer way to end the record.

[READ: December 1, 2017] “Eva”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

This story is really wonderful.  It’s sad and strange and powerful.

It opens with a man visiting “the hairy child” in Quetzalenango.  The girl is Eva.  Her mother hopes this man is a doctor.  But he is not.  He is a representative of Doña Teresa de Miraflor, a Cuban heiress who was setting up the Society of Scientific Knowledge in Havana. (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: WYCLEF JEAN-Tiny Desk Concert #668 (November 6, 2017).

Wyclef Jean is a pretty exceptionally famous person.  And it is wonderful just how sweet and funny he is.

He starts his set with two highlights from his latest record, and finishes with a climactic rendition of his signature hit like you’ve never seen or heard.

The Tiny Desk Concert didn’t start out that inspiring me though.  For some reason he is reciting over and overt about bars on the bass.  No idea what that means.  He raps a brief biography that really kicks in when he sings:

“I flipped the language.  I called Trump started speaking Spanish (a Spanish verse).  Trump hung up the phone said I’m still not convinced.  I said you might be convinced when I sing in French.”  It’s all a lead in to the first song “Borrowed Time,” where he sings and plays lead bass.  Interestingly, he is playing a lead bass while Patrick Andriantsialonina also plays bass (throughout this song and each song).  It’s a gentle song, sweet and pretty.

When the song is over he removes his jacket:

I ain’t gonna front.  Everybody that’s watching this live right now knows when I was doing the rehearsal I did not have my jacket on.  I threw it on because I had to get my swagger.  Speaking of swagger, the blurb notes:

A seasoned pro, he walked through our doors greeting and charming anyone within arm’s reach. Once in front of an audience, he was in attack mode, playing every instrument in sight. Clef doled out stories ranging from his upbringing and rise with The Fugees to intimate musical encounters with Whitney Houston and Destiny’s Child. The mentions were properly placed and added substance to the performance, but to me, he pulled what I’d call a “subtle stunt.” Hip-hop is and has always been about youth and freshness, so most elder statesmen of rap aren’t celebrated to the degree of their peers in rock ‘n’ roll and country music. Every now and again it’s necessary to inform the younger generation, who would otherwise never know these epic moments ever happened.

He tells a funny story about his father wanting him to sing church music (he does a funny impersonation of his father “you got to serve gawd or the devil”).  He chose music and was kicked out of the house.  He moved in with his Uncle and that’s where they made The Score.  He’s been doing music since he was in his twenties.  He says people might say:

“Yo Clef is thug, but he kinda geeky.”  It’s the audio side.

He tells a story being 20-something (being a cocky 24-year-old) and making a beat for Destiny’s Child and Beyonce.  And then a hilarious story about Whitney singing flat.  As a producer I think Whitney hit a flat note.  “Oh my god, Wyclef Jean has to tell Ms. Whitney Houston that the note is flat.  As a producer we’re like astronauts we have obligations.” [laughter].  He continues in a whiny voice: “I don’t know if this rocket is gonna fly.”  He continues: “‘Whitney, the note is flat.”  Dead silence.  She goes, ‘Baby, the note is not flat, I just bent the note.’  And that’s the highest level of diva I’ve ever seen in my life.”  But she was right,  she took the note out of pitch and brought it back.”

He plays the keyboards on “Turn Me Good” with vocals from his niece Jazzy Amra.  When he introduces her, she comes and a guy follows to adjust the mic.  As he does, Wyclef comes out to “steady” the guy, it’s quite funny.  Wyclef sings the main chorus: “What we gonna do when we get to Zion?  We gonna make love all night like a Marvin Gaye song.”  {That’s an odd song to duet with your niece].  She has a pretty voice but I don’t like her delivery.

When the song is over he says, “I’m swearing like a monkey, dog, but don’t edit the footage, coz I got to show the kids how the work go.”  He asks for a towel “Is this like a Tiny Desk Towel exclusive?”

Introducing “Gone Till November” he says to his bassist, “Ask me the coolest thing about ‘Gone to November.'”  Patrick asks him and her replies, “Well Patrick, the coolest thing… I did this song because it’s about making runs about selling drugs….  I’m a big fan of Bob Dylan so the lyrics be having triple entendres not just double entendres.  I wanted Bob Dylan to be in the video.  Haters they be shouting ‘Bob Dylan will never show up for your video he doesn’t even show up for his own son’s video.’  But Dylan showed up.  So Mr Dylan if you’re watching we’re going do a rad version of for you coz you’re so cool man.”

Wyclef picks up the guitar.  After a buzzy guitar solo, the song settles down to some pretty chords and Wyclef singing.  This is apparently his big hit, but I don;t know it.  After a few verses and choruses, he slows it down: I got to talk to some of these kids, I’m 20 years older than most of them.  He does a slow rap followed by a really fast verse.  Manny Laine on drums does a great job so slowing down the beat and then bringing it back up during Wyclef’s (really long) solo.  It has a very Hendrix feel.  After playing for a minute or so, he puts the guitar behind his back and plays fairly well.  Then he plays with his teeth.  And finally picks up an NPR mug and uses it as a slide.  It’s all in good fun and the crowd eats it up.

It’s a really fun set, and Wyclef makes a great impression.

[READ: April 19, 2017] Captain Marvel: Stay Fly

I mentioned that Captain Marvel is confusing.  And even after I think I’ve straightened it out it’s still confusing.

This series is Volume VIII.  It contains 3 books: Captain Marvel, Volume 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More; Captain Marvel, Volume 2: Stay Fly; Captain Marvel, Volume 3: Alis Volat Propriis.

Prior to this, DeConnick wrote another Captain Marvel series Volume VII.  No idea why they are different volumes.  But there are also three books in this series Captain Marvel, Volume 1: In Pursuit of Flight; Captain Marvel, Volume 2: Down; Captain Marvel, Volume 3: Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps and, according to Goodreads at least, included in Volume VII is Avengers: The Enemy Within which seems to come before Carol Corp.  For some reason, very few libraries seem to carry this particularly series.

And then, just to throw more confusion into the works, there is a new series (the Captain’s logo looks different and it is not written by DeConnick) called Captain Marvel 2016.  There are five books in it with two being out so far: Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Rise of Alpha Flight and Captain Marvel, Vol. 2: Civil War II.

Phew.

So, with all that background, it took me two years to track down Book 2 in the Volume VIII saga.  And I was really surprised at how silly it was.  Not necessarily in a good way, either.  I mean, sure I love the Marvel humor and I love that they play around with some interesting ideas, but I feel like Carol Danvers is a pretty great hero and she is spoken of in very high regard.  So why then does this book prominently feature cats, rats, rock stars and Santa Claus?  It seems to really play down her mad skills.

I was also a little put off by the artwork.  I really don’t care for Marcio Takara’s style in the first few chapters.  In part because it looks so very different from the cover art and Lopez’ art. I actually had a hard time following what was going on (which may have been the two-year gap, but I don’t think so). (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, ON (December 11 1996).

This is the final show on Rheostatics Live in which the band is opening for The Tragically Hip.

For this show, the intro music is also from The Wizard of Oz, but this time it’s Judy singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  It’s just one verse before fading out and then guitars fading in for Martin to play “A Mid Winter Night’s Dream.”

Turns out that this setlist is similar to the one from Buffalo with a lot of new songs.  Although there are a few older/more popular songs in places.

The new songs include “Fat” which sounds great of course.  I gather they are maybe sharing a microphone because at the end Dave says “See you in the next song, Martin.”  “Okay, Dave.”  This leads into a perfect version of “All the Same Eyes.”

Martin says “We are the Rheostatics.”  Dave says “We are the Rheostatics, not to be confused with The Howell Brothers (?).  They couldn’t make it but we got their jackets.  It’s nice of you to come out early.  We’re playing selections from our new record. Get it before it’s reduced to clear.”  (You can hear someone laugh on tape).

This is a segue into the single “Bad Time to Be Poor.”  It’s followed by another Tim song, “Claire” with the acoustic guitar opening in place.  There’s another lengthy guitar solo, although it’s not quiet as exciting as some of the other ones.  But Martin was saving up for a spirited version of “California Dreamline.”

They end their set with a rough rocking “Feed Yourself.”  During the spoken part, they slow things down to just a bass and washes of guitar.  It’s a pretty intense ending and a good preparation for The Tragically Hip.

[READ: June 25, 2017] The Story of Canada in 150 Objects

In celebration of Canada’s 150th year, Canadian Geographic and The Walrus created this special issue–a fun way to describe many elements of Canadian culture through “objects.”

The objects are grouped in vague categories.  Some have just a few words written about them while others get a few pages.  Some are humorous, some are more serious.  Most are happy or amusing, some not so much.  And all of it together paints a diverse and complex portrait of the country–as well as teaching this person from South of the border a number of things I did not know.

It’s with comic pride and humility that the first object is politeness (which is not an object at all, of course).  The amusing thing about this article about “politeness” is that while the author of it is very pleased to be so polite, he also can’t wait for his fellow Canucks to forget to be polite so he can rub it in with a extra smarmy “You’re Welcome.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

Frank Conniff–Twenty Five Mystery Science Theater 3000 Films That Changed My Life in No Way Whatsoever (2016)

tvfrankSOUNDTRACK: TA-KU & WAFIA-Tiny Desk Concert #577 (November 6, 2016).

Ta-ku & Wafia are Australian, and I knew nothing else about them.  So:

The chemistry between Australian singer-producer Ta-ku and his fellow Aussie singer-songwriter Wafia becomes apparent the instant you hear their voices intertwined in song. On their first collaborative EP, (m)edian, they draw on their individual experiences to touch on subjects like compromise in relationships as they trade verses and harmonize over hollow melodies.  With production characterized by weary low-end rumbles and resonant keys, the two float above the music, playing off each other’s harmonies.

Although the blurb mentions a few bands that the duo sounds like I couldn’t help thinking they sound The xx (although a bit poppier).

“Treading Water” especially sounds like The xx.  Both of their voices sound really close to that band (although Wafia’s high notes and r&b inclinations do impact that somewhat).  It’s funny that they are just sitting there with their eyes closed, hands folded singing gently.

“Me in the Middle” is another pretty, simple keyboard song with depth in the lyrics and vocals.

Introducing, “Love Somebody,” she says its their favorite on their EP and he interjects Go but it now, which makes her giggle.  Her voice is really quite lovely.  I could see them hitting big both in pop circles and in some alternative circles if they market themselves well.

[READ: November 10, 2016] 25 MST3K Films that Changed My Life in No Way Whatsoever

As you might guess from the title, Frank Conniff was involved with MST3K.  He was TV’s Frank and, as we learn from this book, he was the guy who was forced to watch every movie first and decide whether it could be used for the show.  This “job” was created because they had watched a bit of Sidehackers and decided it would be fun to use.  So Comedy Central bought the rights (“They paid in the high two figures”) and then discovered that there was a brutal rape scene (“don’t know why I need to cal it a ‘brutal’ rape scene any kind of rape ,loud or quiet, violent or Cosby-style, is brutal”) that would sure be hard to joke about (they edited it out for the show which “had a minimal effect on the overall mediocrity of the project.”

The book opens with an FBI warning like the videotapes except for this book it stands for Federal Bureau of Incoherence because the document contains “many pop culture references that are obscure, out of date, annoying and of no practical use to anyone.”   So each chapter goes through and explains these obscure references for us all. (more…)

Read Full Post »

[LISTENED TO: December 2016] A Boy Called Christmas

boySarah brought his audiobook home for us and we started it the night we went to pick out our Christmas tree.

This is a delightful story of Nikolas, an 11-year-old boy living in Finland in the olden days.  His parents called him Christmas, because he was born on Christmas day.

Nikolas’ life has been one of terrible hardship.  His mother was killed when she was attacked by a bear (a bear that lingers around their house to this day).  His father, Joel, is a woodcutter.  He cuts enough wood for them to survive, but otherwise things are bleak.  They eat mushroom soup for every meal and, in Nikolas’ whole life, he has received just two toys: a sled and a doll with a turnip head.

The only friend that Nikolas has is a mouse named Mika.  Now, this may be a fairy-tale kind of story but even Nikolas can’t understand Mika’s squeaks (although we can).  Mika is constantly on a quest for cheese–even though he has never tasted it.

Joel has noticed a man, a hunter, in their vicinity.  He turns out to be an excellent bowman with silver arrows.  In fact, once, when the bear that killed Nikolas’ mother is nearby, an arrow flies through the air and scares off the bear, saving Nikolas’ life.  The hunter finally comes to their house with a proposition for Joel.

The hunter is on a quest on behalf of the king.  They are setting off to prove that Elfhelm, the mythical land of elves, really does exist.  If they can bring proof to the king, they will be incredibly rich men. Joel and Nikolas believe very strongly in magic and in Elfhellm, and after much hemming and hawing, Joel decides to go on the quest.

This leaves Nikolas alone (with Mika).  So Joel calls his sister Aunt Carlotta to watch over Nikolas while he is gone.

There’s a lot of villains in the story, but Aunt Carlotta might be the worst of them.  She is mean from the start.  She takes all of the cushions for herself and forces Nikolas to sleep outside.  He is put to work immediately–gathering food and firewood–and cooking for her.  And finally she reveals that the only reason she came is because if his father does return–which she doubts–he will give her a lot of money.  As the section with Aunt Carlotta continues, she commits the gravest sin imaginable.  And that’s when the last straw is broken and Nikolas leaves. (more…)

Read Full Post »

[ATTENDED: December 10, 2016] Doktor Kaboom! The Science of Santa

kaboomWe loved Doktor Kaboom! when we saw him last (which I didn’t even realize was less than a year ago).  His last show, Live Wire, mixed comedy, science and a hearty dose of believing in yourself.

And so did this one.  Indeed, this show wasn’t radically different from the previous one except that it was all about the magic of Santa Claus.  For as Doktor Kaboom! states: magic is simply science we can’t explain yet.  And in case you are worried about any Santa spoilers, the tagline reads: No iconic Holiday figures were harmed in the making of this show.

For background, the K in Doktor isn’t a zany spelling (thank goodness), it is because the good Doktor is German!  And when he asks you if you understand, you must shout JA!, not yeah or yuh or okay, but JA!

And he likes things to go Kaboom!  Ja?  JA! (more…)

Read Full Post »