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Archive for the ‘Marathon’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: PLACEBO-Running Up That Hill (2003).

Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” is a masterpiece of a song–weird and wonderful and surprisingly moving.

This Placebo cover is much darker, with the sleazy/sultry/hopeless/hopeful edge that Placebo is based around.  The video is a collection of fan-submitted headshots of people singing the song, which makes it all the more moving.

I will always love the original more, but this version is pretty great as well.

[READ: December 30, 2018] Barefoot BF [Posts 1-8]

I don’t normally write about blogs. Heck I don’t normally read many blogs (I’m a print guy).  I would also never be drawn to a blog about running.  But this blog is different. It is about running but it is about a lot more: music, redemption, friendship, relationships and running as a way of coping with the shit you’ve done in the past.  And the writing is great–suspenseful, passionate and honest.

This blog about running will have you riveted as he talks about how a run was a metaphor for dealing with the crazy family nonsense that he was coping with–and it is pretty crazy.  He writes about the races that he’s run, but he writes in such a way as to make the outcome ever in doubt–running with plantar fasciitis?  Running when your foot is swollen and the only conceivable relief is removing the shoe (hence the barefoot title)?  Running on Cape Cod in a Nor’easter while your girlfriend is miles behind you?

It’s some pretty intense stuff. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: September 13, 2017] Believe Me

When I saw that Eddie Izzard had a book out I was pretty interested to read it.  I have loved his stand-up since 1997 or 1998 and I was lucky enough to see him on his Circle Tour (on the date they recorded it!).  I have been keeping up with his career and trying to see him in whatever he does (although I like my comedy more than drama and he has certainly made the shift towards drama in recent years).

I thought an autobiography or memoir by him would be pretty interesting (even if he claims to be boring).  But when I saw that he read the audiobook, I knew I had to give it a listen (even if it was 12 discs)!

Amusingly, there was a long delay at the library.  The lady at the counter (who is not the librarian–we librarians know the difference) said if I knew his voice, I could just read the book to myself in his voice.  It was an amusing thought, and I possibly could do that, ….yes, but Eddie’s voice is just so fantastic that it never would have worked properly.  Plus, he throws in easily an extra hours worth of footnotes and rambles that aren’t in the print book!  That’s right, an extra hour’s worth of nonsense if you do the audio.   True you don;t get to see the pictures, but it’s a fair trade-off.

Well the book finally came in and I had plenty of driving time to make short work of this 12 hours behemoth.  And I laughed and laughed.  And cried and cried.

Because while Eddie Izzard is an action transvestite (transgender, now) and one of the best stand-ups around, he is also an extremely warm and thoughtful person. He worked very hard to become the success he is.  And he has used his fame to do some absolutely wonderful things for humanity–including raising millions of dollars.  Not bad for an atheist who is sometimes in girl mode and sometimes in boy mode. (more…)

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marathon SOUNDTRACK: EIGHTH BLACKBIRD-Tiny Desk Concert #528 (May 2, 2016).

8thEighth Blackbird is described as a “new music ensemble” from Chicago.  That means they play classical music that is new and “different.”  The sextet says that looking at each other–being able to communicate–is essential for playing these complex pieces, which calls for an interesting arrangement behind the Tiny Desk.

The first piece is actually two pieces called “Wave the Sea” and “Brushy Fork” from a suite called Murder Ballads by Bryce Dessner (better known as being in The National) .  The piece opens with a flute solo by newest member Nathalie Joachim, and then some complex series of notes and timings from the rest of the band–this is cerebral music that you must really pay attention to.

“Pulse,” from Robert Honstein’s three-movement Conduit is a much more gentle piece, far less frenetic and more mellow. It opens with Matthew Duvall’s vibraphone, Yvonne Lam’s violin, Lisa Kaplan’s piano and Michael J. Maccaferri’s clarinet which all seem to get added in one at a time until it is all just one consistent piece.  Nicholas Photinos’ cello offers some low end while the flute seems to float above the whole piece.  The song seems like it could just keep going forever as a very slow, beautiful round.

The final piece is by David Lang (an artist they have played for many years).  “learn to fly” returns to that frenetic tempo of the first piece .  Opening with wild syncopated piano notes (it looks impossible to play) and added to by the flute, clarinet and cello.  And just when you think the whole piece will remain in this style of complex syncopation, a violin solo bursts forth and soars for a few bars before returning to the melody.

I don’t listen to a lot of classical music, but I really enjoyed this Concert a lot.

[READ: March 1, 2016] Marathon

While overall I have really enjoyed the First Second books that I’ve read, this one I found really confusing and not exactly enjoyable.

The story begins in 490 BC.  Unbelievably it says the temperature is 106 degrees Fahrenheit (but sure, why not).  A man is running from Athens to Sparta (distance 153 miles).  Then there’s the confusing title: Athens: Twelve Years ago. Which I assume means 12 years before 490 BC–where we see some young boys racing.  Eucles won the race.  It is shocking to everyone that he is the son of a slave.  The slave defeated the Kings “own bastard son Phillipus.”   And so the King cuts off Phillipus’ head.

When he fails a test shortly thereafter, Eucles’ parents are executed.

Yup it’s that kind of story.

The king is Hippias.  He is exiled soon after the events of 12 years ago. (more…)

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terrySOUNDTRACK: VOIVOD-Phobos (1997).

phobosIt’s tempting to say that Phobos is a carbon copy of Negatron, but that’s not true.  While the line up is the same, and the overall tone is very similar—very heavy, aggressive music—there are subtle differences.  The first is that the album sounds vaguely more electronic, as if they were really flirting with industrial after the experiment with Jim Thirwell on the last album.  E-Force’s vocals, while still abrasive and screamed have a lot of processing on them which makes them far more interesting and actually quite a bit more understandable.  There’s also a lot of weird electronic effects that link the album and make it feel more “spacey.”

And while there are different sections of songs and parts that are actually quiet, this i still a difficult album–the vocals especially are exceedingly harsh and will turn off people who like the instrumental sections.  I hate to sound like the band’s declining popular are all down to E-Force, but he is the weakest link in the band at this point.  Whats weird about thee two E-Force era albums is that although they are very very heavy with several weird parts per song, the basic structure of them is very conventional.  So instead of sounding proggy and weird, they sound more like a bludgeoning metal band.  Which didn’t really work for them.  Indeed, the band intended to if not call it quits at least take a hiatus after this album.

Phobos opens with “Catalepsy I” an introductory song—noises and whatnot.  And indeed, these electronic noises link all of the songs of the record, with different sounds in between the tracks (like the way “Bacteria” opens with spacey effects and electronic drum noises for 35 seconds).  But the first proper song “Rise,” has an opening guitar riff that is quite normal—dark, but normal.  It’s true that the heaviness of the chugging section is heavier than most (like earlier Voivod), but it’s still not that strange. Until the verses come in.  And here’s where E-Force’s vocals are a little different—more processed and robotic sounding.  It actually works a lot better.  And in the middle of the song while the heaviness is ongoing, that opening normal guitar riff comes back.  Rather conventionally.

“Mercury” has a more typical Voivod guitar riff although the pounding heavy chords are still quite heavy.  There’s more of the distorted vocals and weird chords for the bridge.  It also begins a series of increasingly longer songs.  This one is nearly 6 minutes.  While “Phobos” is nearly 7.  It also has an interesting echoing staccato guitar riff with E-Force’s vocals very distorted (like Nine Inch Nails or Skinny Puppy).  The bridge is a crazy noisy monstrosity and yet the middle section is very simple:  loud chords  delivered at a slow pace with interesting effects and fiddly guitar solo noises.  “Bacteria” reaches over 8 minutes long.  But it is unlike any of their earlier prog songs.  It has an interesting echoing guitar opening and a bunch of staggered parts.  But once the song’s major chords start up it sounds probably most like the previous album except for the lengthy instrumental/psychedelic section starting at around 5 minutes.

The album slows down somewhat with the 1:48 “Temps Mort” a short instrumental with what sounds alike an accordion. It’s a weird little time out (which is what the title means), and I like it a lot.

“The Tower” has an underwater kind of feel to it amidst the bludgeoning guitars.  The middle and the end have some very cool heavy trippy/spacey metal which is so radically different from the heavy Voivod chords that make up the proper song.  Indeed the very end is a minute of mellow spacey guitars.  “Quantum” is a pretty straight ahead (for Voivod) metal song with echoed vocals that take some of th edge off (until he screams the chorus).  There’s another cool instrumental section. In fact, the whole album has great instrumental sections, it’s kind of a shame the vocals are so offputting (although at the end of this song they are so distorted and computerized that they sound very cool)

“Neutrino” opens with those big loud slow ringing chords of noise before the simple but creepy solo riff comes in.  It’s 6 minutes long and has another interesting guitar line amid the noise.  It takes 3 minutes (of 7) before the vocals come in and the song gets much darker.  “Forlorn” is the closest thing to a hit on the album.  The chorus is really easy to sing along to.  And the verses are actually pretty straightforward.  It’s very very heavy and isn’t going to make the radio anywhere, but it’s still catchy.  The album proper ends with “Catalepsy II,” more swirling noises that sound like the beginning.

There are two bonus tracks on the CD.  “M-Body” was written by Jason Newsted and is the most industrial mechanized/voiced songs on the album.  It’s certainly out of place, although it does hint at what is to come on their next album.  “21st Century Schizoid Man” is a cover of the King Crimson song.  They’d done Pink Floyd and King Crimson fits pretty nicely.  As with the Floyd covers this one is very heavy.  Piggy gets the guitars right.  But as with the rest of the album, E-Force’s vocals just don’t work. Whereas Snake’s weird pronunciations accented the covers in a cool way, E-Force just seems to be forcing his way through the track (the fact that he puts 3 syllables in “century” is pretty unforgivable.  Overall the song is pretty great, although I’m not so sure about the guitar solo which sounds like Piggy doesn’t really know what to do.

And that’s the end of this Voivod lineup.  Two albums and a lot of lost fans.

[READ: September 20, 2013] Terry

I have known about this book for a pretty long time.  I was never really that interested in reading it because, while I don’t know all that much about Terry Fox, I felt like I knew enough about him to not bother with a full bio.

For those who don’t know (basically anyone from the U.S.), Terry Fox was a young man who developed cancer at the age of 19 in 1977. and had his leg amputated.  To draw attention to cancer research he decided to run (yes run) across Canada on the Trans Canada Highway.  He had a prosthetic leg, he practiced running every day (he was already a natural athlete) and he decided that in 1980 he would run from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific (he even had a bottle of water from the Atlantic that he wanted to pour into the Pacific).  His plan was to run between 26 miles a day.  Yes, run a marathon every day.  He called it the Marathon of Hope.

When he started out, the media coverage was nothing but as he progressed and his friend (who drove the van alongside him) started making media attention, Terry’s cause became more well known.  And by the time he made it to Ontario, he was a huge personality—making TV appearances, talking to anyone and, most importantly, making a ton of money for cancer research. (more…)

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