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Archive for the ‘Carl Sagan’ Category

  SOUNDTRACK: DAUGHTER-Tiny Desk Concert #313 (October 21, 2013).

Daughter is a quiet folk band (at least in this Tiny Desk Concert) in which two acoustic guitars (Elena Tonra and Igor Haefeli) and one drum (Remi Aguilella) play behind Tonra’s gorgeous, angsty vocals.

For all three of these songs, she sings delicate whispered vocals that are quite lovely, but also quite dark.

Like this line from “Youth” “Most of us are bitter over someone / setting fire to our insides for fun.”  I love the way Haefeli’s guitar harmonics sound like keyboards and how powerful the martial drumming sounds when it comes in.

“Landfill” opens with thudding drums (Mallets instead of sticks) which are louder and bigger and yet still feel gentle.  And yet, as the blurb says: The song is “achingly pretty and melancholy, the track builds to an absolute gut-punch of a line — “I want you so much, but I hate your guts” — that conjures a pitch-perfect mix of gloom, desire and hostility.”

They put out an EP and in 2013 released an album:

the lovely If You Leave, but Daughter was kind enough to resuscitate “Landfill” for this stripped-down performance at the Tiny Desk. As you’ll see and hear, that aforementioned gut-punch is a recurring specialty for the band: In all three of these sad, searing songs, singer Elena Tonra showcases a remarkable gift for coolly but approachably dishing out weary words that resonate and devastate.

Between these two songs, Bob asks if this is an awkward place to play, and she responds, “No, we’re just awkward people.”

For “Tomorrow” there is a beautiful ascending guitar melody and loud drums.  I really like the way the guitars play off of each other–even though they are both acoustic, they sound very different and complement each other nicely.  Like in the wonderful melody at the end.  Despite how pretty the song was, apparently she was unhappy with it saying “a bit ropey, that one.”  I hadn’t heard that before, but evidently it means “unwell…usually alcohol related” so that’s pretty funny.

[READ: August 30, 2016] Science: Ruining Everything Since 1543

Zach Weinersmith writes the daily webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.  I supported the Kickstarter project for his book Religion: Ruining Everything Since 4004 BC and this book was part of my funding level.

I was more interested in the religious comics, but I am tickled by how funny the Science comics are.  Weinersmith knows a lot of science (or at least scientists) and make some really funny jokes about the subject.

The one thing I have to say off the bat is that I don’t love his drawing style.  There’s something about it that I simply can’t get into.  Even after two full books of these drawings, it just never gels for me.  But that’s fine. because I’m here for the jokes.  And they are awesome. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: OF MONSTERS AND MEN-Live from Iceland Airwaves (2011).

This brief set was recorded at KEX hostel in Reykjavik, Iceland (how on earth KEXP in Seattle was there I don’t know).  This set was performed before the release of their debut EP, although “Dirty Paws” which they play was not on that EP.  “Little Talks” their (reasonably) huge hit them was on the EP and is on their full length album–it’s a great duet (and reminds me a bit of Stars).

There’s an amusing fail in the horn solo on “Lake House,” which is kind of surprising, but not terribly tragic or anything.  The band sounds great, especially in front of a home country crowd (I love hearing them say “Takk” at the end of the songs).  There’s five songs in all, and by  the final one, they feel  sound like they’re really enjoying themselves.

[READ: September 1, 2012] Wampeters, Foma & Granfaloons

This collection contains essays reviews and speeches.  So it’s non-fiction.  Except that, ever the contrarian, Vonnegut includes one fiction piece–a short play.  The title of this book comes from three words from his novel Cat’s Cradle: “a wampeter is an object around which the lives of many otherwise unrelated people may revolve.  The Holy Grail would be a case in point.  Foma are harmless untruths, intended to comfort simple souls.  An example: ‘Prosperity is just around the corner.’ A granfallooon is a proud and meaningless association of human beings.”

That all comes from the preface.  The preface also says that there are people who have collected everything he has ever written (even stuff he has forgotten about) but he will not let most of that see the light of day.  Here he has whittled down the least embarrassing stuff for publication.  He also explains that at some point (supported by reading this) he decided to stop giving speeches; to stop “talking” and to concentrate on writing.  So he did.

The final straw for this was a comment from the President of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  Vonnegut had prepared a speech.  The president reread it and hated it, but the president told Vonnegut that nobody would actually listen to the words: “People are seldom interested in the actual content of a speech.  They simply want to learn from your tone and gestures and expressions whether or not you are an honest man.”

While Vonnegut’s essays are powerful and effective, it’s the Preface that really tells it straightg.”Not nearly as many Biafrans were butchered by the Nigerians at the end of the war as I had thought would be.  At a minimum those damaged children at the exact middle of the universe will be more honorable than Richard M Nixon.  [Nixon] is the first president to hate the American people and all they stand for.”

Get ready for a happy collection. (more…)

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