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Archive for the ‘Fencing’ Category

yolenSOUNDTRACK: BETTY LaVETTE-Tiny Desk Concert #61 (May 21, 2010).

bettyAnother peculiar Tiny Desk is this one from Betty LaVette.  It’s only peculiar because, for licensing reasons, they can only show one of the three songs she sang.

I don’t know much about LaVette, but I immediately loved her voice–rough and sultry and amazingly powerful.  The only song here is her take on “It Don’t Come Easy,” and it’s really great.

With only her voice and guitarist Alan Hill accompanying her, she manages to bring amazing depth to this song.

The other two songs were: “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” and “Nights in White Satin.”  While I’m not that interested in “Sun,” I would love to hear her take on “Nights.”

The notes say that at this time they don’t have the rights to play the songs.  It has been five years, and I imagine they are not really pursuing those rights any longer.

[READ: July 28, 2015] Curses! Foiled Again

Since I recently posted the Foiled review I had to run out and get the sequel (also on First Second books)

After a quick “Previously,” we get reintroduced to Aliera’s weapon and its glowing gem and we learn that Avery is beautiful on the outside but an actual troll within.   As with the previous book, the panels are all gray scale until she runs into the mystical beasties.

The problem with this book is that Aliera is mad at Avery for secretly being a troll (fair enough), but there is nothing he can do to get her to listen to him.  So it is actually rather tedious that for the whole book he keeps trying to tell her things but she refuses to listen. (more…)

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foiledSOUNDTRACK: YES-90125 (1983).

90125After the tumultuous release of Drama, Yes broke up.  And then, soon after, they got back together.  This time Jon Anderson was back on lead vocals and Trevor Horn was…producer?  Steve Howe did not return after the breakup.  He was replaced by a different Trevor, Trevor Rabin.  And returning behind the keyboards was original original keyboardist Tony Kaye (woah).

This reincarnated Yes was supposed to be a band called Cinema with Squire, Alan White and Trevor Rabin.  But when Anderson and Kaye joined in and Horn agreed to produce, they became Yes again.

They got rid of the old logo and replaced it with a bland one but a new symbol.   Long gone is Roger Dean, replaced by a high-tech looking cover and a high-tech sounding album title 90125 (which, rather lamely was just the records catalog number (7-90125-1).

Despite the old school returnees, this album was pure 80s pop.  I can imagine that many diehard yes fans hated it when it came out.  There are moments of yes (Anderson’s voice and the harmony vocals), but there’s no intricate guitar, there’s no melodious synths, even the drums are modern sounding.  The biggest difference between this and previous albums (aside from the whole new wave feel) is the crispness of the recording–sudden starts and stops, and really quiet breaks of songs.  It’s very “produced” and not very warm.

But I wasn’t a die hard fan when it came out and I rather liked it and I still do. In fact I talked about this album a while ago, so i figured I’d just contextualize some of those ideas.

“Owner of a Lonely Heart” is a much-sampled 80s classic.  The quality of the sound is pretty great and the music is also really spare–not a bad thing, just surprising.  This and “Hold On” were written originally by Trevor Rabin (even though “Hold On” sounds very Yes with the choruses and big vocals).  “Changes” was also written by Rabin.  And I am fairly certain he sings the lead vocals, although I can’t find that information anywhere–it certainly isn’t Anderson.

“It Can Happen” is a very poppy song (well, they all are) which was originally written for Cinema, but which they modified for Yes.  And so was “Cinema,” the two-minute instrumental.  It was originally 20 minutes long, but they seriously reduced it for the Yes album–I’d like to hear the original to see if there’s any sense of a Yes epic in there.

“Leave It” is one of my favorite songs from the album with the voices which I assume are sampled, but possibly not  There’s just so much electronic manipulation here, it is so un-Yes, but it sounds great.  The production is perfect and the song is great.

“Our Song” has a really good chorus but it doesn’t quite achieve the excitement of the earlier songs.  “City of Love” is the same for me, moments that are good, but the quality had to drop off somewhat on the record, right?.  “Hearts” is the longest song and it actually lasts too log.  Again, the chorus is good, but it kind of drifts after a bit.

That doesn’t stop it from being a great album, with a ton of great songs front loaded on the album and presumably a nice load of cash for the guys to spend (how mad must Howe be that he chose that time not to come back?).

Since almost every Yes album had different personnel, I’m going to keep a running tally here.  This is a biggie, look who has left!

Chris Squire-bass
Jon Anderson (#1, replaced Trevor Horn #2) vocals
Alan White (#2)-drums
Tony Kaye #1 (replaced Geoff Downes #4)-keyboards
Trevor Rabin (#3 replaced Steve Howe #2)-guitar

[READ: April 20, 2015] Foiled

Jane Yolen has written over 300 books apparently.  I know her more as a children’s book maker and hadn’t read any of her YA books.

This book was really wonderful.  And I’m aware that it’s part one of two, although it ended satisfyingly.

Aliera Carstairs is a fencer in high school.  She started fencing when she was 11 and had a real aptitude for it.  Her coach suggested she could make nationals.  She has defeated girls and boys much older than her.  She has a gift.

She has no social life, but she doesn’t mind.  She doesn’t fit in with the jocks, the goths, the nerds or really anyone, she just is herself.  She also has a cousin whom she visits every Saturday.  Her cousin has rheumatoid arthritis so she is confined to a wheelchair.  But she and Aliera play role playing games every Saturday.  While they play, Aliera becomes queen Xenda of Xenon, swordfighter extraordinaire (which she knows is not much of a stretch, bit it’s still fun).

She also has a mom who loves buying things at yard sales and Salvation Armies.  And she manages to get Aliera a practice fencing sword for $2.  It has a really cheesy ruby on the handle but aside from that it’s quite good. (more…)

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[WATCHED: August 6-August 15, 2012] XXX Summer Games continued

The Olympics finally ended in our house.  Meaning we taped the closing ceremonies and only got around to watching them (well, fast forwarding through them) a couple of days ago.

I’m not sure what it was about this year’s Olympics, but I was really on board with them.  In past years I haven’t watched nearly as much.  I’d say it had something to do with my kids, but they weren’t really that interested.  They typically played with things while the games were on.  My son wanted to watch Tae Kwon Do and my daughter wanted to watch “the beautiful diving.”  But they wouldn’t really hang around too much during most of the events.  Nevertheless, I was pretty happy to have been able to watch as much coverage as I did.  It became something of an obsession to be able to watch as many obscure sports as possible.  And even if I didn’t watch everything (the FF button is my friend), I enjoyed so many unlikely sports this year.

Since the last Olympics post we had a whole new breed of events that we got to enjoy: (more…)

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[WATCHED: July 27-August 5, 2012] XXX Summer Games

So I have been TiVoing the XXX games like crazy and now my suggestion box is chock full of porn.  And Motherboy XXX!

I have watched more of these Olympics than any previous one.  And I think it’s because NBC has been covering the heck out of it.  Not NBC proper, which is blowing it as bad as everyone says, but the satellite stations–NBCSN, which is great and CNBC or MSNBC one of those other stations that nobody watches, have been doing 9, 10 and 11 hour blocks of whatever is on.  And that’s pretty cool.

A few thoughts though—NBC & co., please learn how to cover live sports.  Even the wonderful NBCSN, home of awesome esoteric sports that I really want to see.  If I watch 40 minutes of field hockey and you cut to commercial during the only goal scored, well, you know, that sucks.  Or really any sport that doesn’t stop–you really fuck with momentum if you cut away all the time.  Here’s a simple solution, and its even more aggressive than World Cup soccer which knows how to shill product–compress the picture some and show a banner ad at the top or bottom or left or right of the screen.  You can’t show the no-doubt-well-thought-out ads for whatever it was 100 times like you do now (which I FF anyway), but plaster the logo in the bottom the screen, let it jump around and do cartwheels.  We can handle it, just stop cutting away. (more…)

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