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Archive for the ‘Tennis’ Category

1999 SOUNDTRACK: JANE BUNNETT AND MAQUEQUE-Tiny Desk Concert #547 (July 12, 2016).

bunnettJane Bunnett is a soprano saxophonist and flautist from Toronto who performs largely with Cuban musicians.  She has been traveling there for about 30 years and has performed with all kinds of musicians.  For this Tiny Desk and her current she is playing with the women from Cuba in a band called Maqueque (they won a Juno award last year).

And they sound great together.  It’s interesting that Bunnett takes something of a back seat (or position anyhow) to singer Melvis Santa (who seems to mostly sing sounds (ah ah ahs, bop bop bah dah dahs, as opposed to words) .  But when it’s time to shine, Bunnett is there to impress everyone with her skill.

Felix Contreras says “If you want to hear what Cuba sounds like today, then be sure to listen.”

“Little Feet” features Bunnett playing a cool solo on her sax and Santa singing notes along with her.  But for this song Bunnett really wails.  (she’s quite winded by the end).

Of the three songs, the ten minute “Maqueque” is my favorite.  That’s in part because I don’t really like the sound of the soprano sax (she plays flute on this one) but also because the band membranes really get to show off their chops.  It starts with a simple piano melody and pretty vocals.  Then Bunnett plays the melody on the flute as Santa sings along.   When Bunnett gets her solo on, you can hear her vocalising a bit as she plays the flute.

After the song Bunnett says that women in Cuba don’t get the exposure they deserve, so she picked these woman to let the world hear them.

About 4 minutes in Dánae Olano plays an amazing 2 minute piano solo–fun to listen to and to watch as she is all over the keys–she plays  some great trills and riffs.  She’s very impressive.  About 8 minutes in Yissy Garcia (who Dave Matthews has said plays drums like Jesus) plays a great drum solo.  On the drum kit she is using her palms and fingers to play all of the drums and cymbals–she switches to sticks at the end. The percussionist Magdelys Savigne accompanies her, and while not actually soloing, she is keeping rhythm as well.

Celia Jiménez plays bass.  She doesn’t get to do anything fancy–no solos, but she keeps the rhythm perfect.

bunnett2“25 New Moves” has Bunnett back on sax with Santa singing along to her melody.  It’s a short (4 minute) catchy piece with another cool fast solo from piano and a few cool bass lines as well.

It’s a pretty great set with lot of cool jazzy Cuban melody and rhythms.  I enjoyed this set quite a lot.

[READ: November 3, 2016] The Complete Peanuts 1999-2000

This is the final volume of Peanuts strips. After 50 years, it finally came to and end.

Schulz was diagnosed with cancer in 1999.  He died in February of 2000.

I was hoping that this book would be shockingly good–full of great “I’m finishing the trip” closure.  But as I understand it, he wasn’t ready to finish the strip, so things move on more as less as normal.

In fact, I found the first few weeks of 1999 to be kind of dull.  The punchlines just didn’t make me smile as much.  Of course there is something to be said for the consistency of the strip.  Linus still has his blanket, Rerun is still coloring (he has become a dominant force in the strip), Patty is still getting things wrong and Sally still doesn’t want to do anything. (more…)

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1997SOUNDTRACK:LOS HACHEROS-Tiny Desk Concert #545 (July 5, 2016).

hacherosLos Hacheros play “Afro-Caribbean music that provides the source material for modern salsa and all of its permutations.”

This music swings and bounces and with such simple instrumentation: an upright bass and a guitar.  With the main melodies constructed by the trombone and vocal (the trombonist doubles on violin).  But the rest of the band is there for percussion–cowbells, shakers and the conga.

The band plays three songs all sung in Spanish.  It’s fun to watch them get into the groove and begin to sway in unison to the music.

“Baila Con Los Hacheros” features a violin solo that is pretty intense “Papote’s Guajira” features an acoustic guitar solo that is complex and fun to watch. It also has a lengthy flute solo (the violinist also plays the flute!). “Bambulaye” features NPR’s own Felix Contreras on congas–he gets a solo–apparently he has been playing in bands for years.  What a nice surprise.

[READ: November 3, 2016] The Complete Peanuts 1997-1998

This is the second to last book of collected strips from Schulz.  Rerun features quite prominently and Linus has faded somewhat.  Snoopy is no longer playing characters (except for the soldier..always soldiers) and Charlie is still pining for things he won’t get.

1997 opens with Charlie showing Linus his autographed Joe Shlabotnik baseball.  But Linus thinks it’s a forgery.  Cue a week of strips about an autograph forger (who tries to hire Charlie as his accomplice).  I love that Schulz went on strange little tangents like this, but I always feel like he doesn’t follow through with these funny ideas. The whole premise of this just ends never to be heard from again.

And then in a surprise to me, Snoopy starts acting like a Revolutionary War patriot standing guard at Valley Forge.  He seems to have given up on WWI and gone back in time to a far less dramatic role–he mostly just stands around in the cold.  Strips about that occur from time to tome with him talking to General Washington.  The last one is in December 1998 where he realizes he is only guarding snow. (more…)

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1993-1994 SOUNDTRACK: LEON BRIDGES-Tiny Desk Concert #469 (September 8, 2015).

leonLeon Bridges has a great old soul voice.  Indeed, I had no idea he was so young until he started speaking after the third song and all manner of young person chat came out of his mouth: “Thanks to my main man, you all looking beautiful man.”  His voice is pure and clean and hearkens back to 1960s soul singers like Sam Cooke.

The way he sings “baby baby baby” in “Coming Home” is classic soul.  And his enunciation of “mouth” is just gorgeous.  This song features the backing vocals of his sister Jesse.

“Smooth Sailin'” features a sax solo and Bridges on guitar.  Since there are 2 guitarists already Bridges’ guitar doesn’t  add much, but for me it’s all about his voice anyhow.

“Twistin’ & Groovin'” is about how his grandparents met.  He says the first time he saw her at a party the thing he noticed first about her was her long legs.

“River” is just him on acoustic guitar with Jesse singing backing vocals.

It’s a solid set and Bridges’ star has continued to rise since this show.

[READ: September 18, 2016]  The Complete Peanuts: 1993-1994

I didn’t like the previous book all that much, but this one picked things up a bit.

The year starts with Snoopy taking a test in school and acing the true false part–the only one to do so!

1993 has Schulz’ first celebration of MLK day.  Patty mentions the “I have a dream speech” but I love that she just mentions it without making it a big deal, it quickly changes to an unfair lunch swap between a carrot stick and french fry.  Speaking of old words, Lucy begins insulting Linus with: blockhead airhead, noodleneck but then finds that these older words work better: puzzlewit, dimbulb.

In pop culture notes, April 1993 sees Snoopy as Joe Grunge and in May 1993 Sally asks why is Barney purple? (more…)

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1989 SOUNDTRACK: THE SUFFERS-Tiny Desk Concert #482 (October 27, 2015).

suffersThe Suffers are a ten piece soul band fronted by the charismatic Kam Franklin.  I loved how at the start of this show each band member counted down 1-10 while Kam stood on the desk to sing.

“Giver” is a slow R&B type song with lots of lengthy horn solos.

“Midtown” has a funky sound with a cool bass line.  I though that song started to get interesting towards the end but then they stopped it.

“Gwan” is my favorite of the three because it is more uptempo and fun and allows the band (including Kam) to really rock out.

Everything about The Suffers is right on–the horns sound great, the band is tight, Kam’s voice is string and powerful.  But I just don;’t like this kind of music at all.  And I don’t really need to hear The Suffers again (although that last song is pretty good.

[READ: September 10, 2016] The Complete Peanuts 1989-1990

I had said that the previous book felt a little lightweight compared to previous years.  This book actually continued in that somewhat unsatisfying vein.  For point of reference, when I jot down strips that I really like, I usually fill two or three small pages of paper.  This book had only one page and a little over flow.

But, it also had one of the most exiting and emotionally satisfying sequences as 1990 drew to a close.

Schulz has also been having fun with the new fewer-panel style. It’s mostly three panels but he experiments with 2 panels and even one panel.  He seems to enjoy playing with the space afforded with one panel–its interesting to see.

The year starts off with an ugly dog contest and the introduction of yet another of Snoopy’s brothers, this one named Olaf.  Olaf is very ugly and wears a sack. When he takes it off he reveals himself to be a squat round version of snoopy with buck teeth or a tongue hanging out of his mouth.  In June of 1989 we actually see Snoopy’s Dad on Father’s Day. He looks like snoopy but with a big mustache (white), small glasses, and a cap.

Starting in the previous book and continuing through now, we often see Sally responding to things on the TV.  Most of them are pretty funny.  Later, Sally says that her school play is going to be Hansel and Grateful.

Marcie still has mixed feeling for Charles and tells Patty to throw a bean ball at him, but then takes it back.  In the summer of 1989 Patty goes to summer school and Marcie teases her that she (Marcie) and Charles area at camp togetehr.  Patty gets very jealous.

In July 1981 in a one panel; the kids are on line to buy tickets to the movie sand one of them says “Those two guys on TV hated it.”

Snoopy has another good food comment this year: “Do you want a cookie with nuts or a cookie with raisins?” “Neither, I prefer plain cookies.  I don’t like food in my food.”  But speaking of cookies, there are about 100 strips where the punchline is something about Snoopy eating cookies.  It gets a little out of hand.  There were always the jokes about the chocolate chip cookies calling him but soon all of the punchlines start to do with cookies.

Franklin is still talking about his grandpa with Charlie Brown.   And Pig-Pen returns for a little while.

In July of 1989 an “old friend” calls Charlie Brown.  She insists on coming over and says she hasn’t seem hm for a long time.  She seems to have red hair (but is not the red-haired girl) an upon seeing them, runs up to Snoopy, calls him Charlie Brown and takes him away.  She looks at Charlie and asks “who are you.”  She feeds Snoopy sundaes until he is nearly sick.

Over the summer Patty and Marcie are supposed to read four books, but Marcie reads an extra one: The Little Prince.  Patty says it’s so short what’s he big deal?  Marcie read it in French.

In August 1989 in the kids are lined up for autographs   $30 for Joe DiMaggio, $25 for Ted Williams.  Steve Garvey is $9 and Maury Wills is $5.  Charlie gets Joe Shlabotnick’s and the guys gives Charlie a dollar.  Joe Garagiola continues to pop up in the strip.  Charlie tells Schroeder he can have a career as a catcher and then after you retire you can go on TV like Joe Garagiola and Lucy says Who?

1989’s football gag has Lucy telling Charlie to think of the regrets he’ll have if he never risks anything.

Starting in 1989 and continuing for a few years it seems, Charlie has become very close to Snoopy–a relationship that was never really there before.  There’s a lot of pictures of Snoopy on Charlie’s lap (very cutely drawn, I must say.  It more or less starts in October with Charlie saying “All I seem to want to do lately is sit around holding my dog on my lap.”  This leads to Charlie quitting school and devoting his entire life to making Snoopy happy.  They eat a lot of food until Snoopy gets sick and he concludes ” I think I happied him to the vet.”  Charlie concludes that he was sorry making him happy didn’t work out and Snoopy replied “I was already happy.”

There’s also a  resurgence of the blanket battle between Linus and Snoopy which I always liked.

POP CULTURE: Lucy is listening to the radio and says she missed the ball because Michael Jackson hit a high note.  Later in the month Linus thinks to videotape the Great Pumpkin (although we never see him do it).  In August 1990, Snoopy calls himself “Joe Bungee” and in November, Snoopy is riding Rollerblades and then later Sally asks for them from Snoopy Claus.

In January 1989 Patty is watching her hero Donna Adamek bowl.

I really enjoy the wordless joke of the street sign pointing up and then a curve down.  One of the Woodstock birds stands on top of the sign, the other two where the arrow points.  Snoopy s says, “You’re right we should have had a picture of that.”

A lot of the Mother’s Day panels for the last few years have been about Woodstock trying to give a card to him mom, but in 1990 Charlie lets his mom pitch for Mother’s Day which is very sweet

For summer camp Sally refuses to go.  When Charlie describes on the phone that there will be canoeing, swimming, rock climbing, tennis hiking, soccer he turns to Sally  to sally and their Granma just signed up.

As I mentioned earlier, this book wasn’t that exciting for me.  I never really got into any of the story lines. Until summer camp of 1990 when things suddenly became awesome.  Charlie takes Snoopy to camp, which is kind of fun.  But then unexpectedly, on July 23, Charlie talks to a cute girl.  He says he always gets nervous around pretty girls.  But she says he shouldn’t be: pretty girls are human too.   Her name is Peggy Jean and he is so in love that he calls himself Brownie Charles, which she thinks is adorable.  She really likes him!  She even holds the ball for him to kick.  But he is so conditioned that he doubts her sincerity which just gets her mad.

But before camp is over, she tells him he’s the nicest boy she’s ever met and then she kisses him!  And a few weeks later when Charlie can’t figure out why she hasn’t written, it’s because Sally has been throwing out all the letters that came to Brownie Charles–if only he’d been waiting at the mailbox!

I also enjoyed the joke in August of 1990 where snoopy sells a raffle ticket and it say s “You don’t win anything but you’ll have the pleasure of owning your very own raffle tickets…  be the first on your block to start a collection.”

In Sept 1990 Pig Pen decides to run for class president.  Someone shouts that he has no dignity so he puts on a stove pipe hat.  Nobody votes for him anyhow.

And then in October, we get some real insight into Marcie.  She comes over to say that her parents are driving her crazy.  They want her to be perfect and get straight A’s.  Shes cracking up.  It’s a pretty intense moment for Peanuts.  And Charlie is in way over his head.  Marcie falls asleep at Charlie’s house.  When she wakes up she says “I don’t want to go home… can I stay here? If I go home I have to be perfect….  Sally shouts from the other room, “If she doesn’t want to be perfect she’s come to the right place!”  The sequence ends sadly open-ended with Marcie saying she’s going home so she can get straight A’s “just so I can go to some college they’ve already picked out for me.”  And Sally says “and end up marrying some nerd.”

In Dec 1990 Charlie goes to buy Peggy Jean some nice gloves. But they cost $25.  He sells all of his stuff to buy them for her only to find out that her parents just bought her gloves.    Sadly he gave them to Snoopy instead.

The book ends with one of the saddest Christmas strips ever.  It’s just Spike sitting alone with mistletoe stuck to a cactus and him saying “Rats.”

Apropos of this, the intro was written by Lemony Snicket.  Rather than raving about the strip, Snicket revels in how dark it is  He quotes all of the darkest lines in the book and says how odd it is that these sentences are found in the section marked Comics.

And then Snicket summarizes the strip:

The hero of this melodrama is a balding grammar school student paralyzed by fear and self-loathing.  Sadly, the psychiatrist he chooses is also a child, who not only offers him nothing but cruelty and scorn…One would be tempted to label her as the villain of this ongoing tale of terror, if she didn’t share the same unhappy hopelessness as her helpless patient.

Then there’s her young brother who shuffles around town clutching ragged bedclothes and trying to dissolve one of his own fingers in his mouth.  It’s no wonder the psychiatrist has fallen into a cycle of romantic obsession and violent argument with a temperamental musician.

Our hero, in the meantime, is not far from obsessive complication: two women compete for his attention, all the while maintaining a tense “friendship: with one another despite the fact that one of them, out of stupidity or malice, mistakes the gender of the other.

Even the neighborhood dog, who by all rights should remain clueless of the goings-on, is ravaged by the local madness.  When not talking to a bird who utters nothing but apostrophes, he fantasizes that he is fighting in one of the world’s mist horrific conflicts.

I am fascinated by the endless ghastly tale of these poor youngsters.

Make no mistake, Lemony Snicket is a huge fan.

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dfwreadSOUNDTRACK: CHRISTIAN SCOTT aTUNDE ADJUAH-Tiny Desk Concert #477 (October 9, 2015).

aacsChristian Scott aTunde Adjuah and his septet play what he calls stretch music: “the particular type of jazz fusion he’s up to: something more seamless than a simple collision of genre signifiers.”

They note that even his appearance stretches traditional jazz: “You may note that he showed up in a Joy Division sleeveless T-shirt and gold chain.” It’s sleek and clearly modern, awash in guitar riffs, but also bold and emotionally naked.

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah (not sure how to abbreviate that) is a trumpeter and he can hit some loud powerful and long –held notes.   It’s funny that when he bends over the trumpet grows quieter—those ic really are direction-based.

For the first song “TWIN” he does some impressive soloing over a simple and cool beat—piano and delicate guitar riffs (there’s also an upright bass and drummer).   After his lengthy solo there’s a flute solo that also works perfectly (if less dramatically) with the background music.  (Christian plays tambourine during her solo).  He says that this song is about being a twin.  His brother, Kyle Scott is a film director and for whom Christians scores the music.  Christian also explains that he comes from an African-American and Native-American background and that this song has rhythms as a sort of history of his family that touches on Mali, Senegal Gambia and The Ivory Coast and makes its way to the Caribbean, Cuba and into New Orleans.

He’s pleased to play the Tiny Desk Concert for an audience that appreciates “Music that has nutritional value.”

For the second song, “West of the West” he brings on a young alto-saxophonist who plays with his drummer in a different band. The song opens with a rocking electric guitar solo and then the jazzy band kicks in behind it.  The instrumental features a couple of solos by the saxophonist, the pianist and the bassist.

“K.K.P.D.” is a dramatic song for which he gives a lengthy back story.  Many years ago in his home of New Orleans, he was stopped by New Orleans police late at night for no reason other than to harass and intimidate him.  he was coming back from a gig.  He resisted and was in a serious situation and was seriously threatened—the story is long and very affecting, especially given how articulate (I know, terrible word, but true) and calm he is about retelling this horrifying story.  His pride almost made him do something ill-advised, but instead he channeled that pent-up frustration into a piece of music whose long-form title is “Ku Klux Police Department.”

He adds that we see things on TV about inner cities or the ninth ward and we believe them to be true.  Like that the neighborhood is happy that the police are clearing out the youth there.  We begin to think that the narrative is true, although the people who live there can tell you otherwise.  Despite the title and the origin, the is song is designed to reach a consensus to move forward –not to build derision or hate.  He says that we have to start working on that now, because if it doesn’t start now then our children will continue to inherit this situation.

It opens with a noisy guitar wash and fast drums.  It’s quite noisy and chaotic although it resolves very nicely into an almost sweet piano-based song with slow horns.  The middle of the song ramps up with some intense soloing from Christian.  I love how that segues into a very different section with an electronic drum and delicate piano.  Chritsian’s next solo is much more optimistic.  The final section is just wonderfully catchy.

When he introduces the band, he points out just how young some of his newest members are: Drummer Corey Fonville (another new member) used a djembe as a bass drum, and also brought a MIDI pad so he could emulate the sound of a drum machine; Lawrence Fields, piano; Kris Funn, bass; Dominic Minix , guitar (21 years old); Braxton Cook, saxophone (24 years-old) and Elena Pinderhughes, flute: 20 years old!

I don’t listen to a ton of jazz, but I really liked this Tiny Desk Concert a lot.

[READ: July-October 2016] The David Foster Wallace Reader

I’ve had this book since Sarah bought it for me for Christmas in 2014.  I haven’t been in a huge hurry to read it because I have read almost everything in it already.  And some of that I have even read recently.  But this summer I decided to read some of my bigger books, so this was a good time as any.

One of the fascinating things about reading this book is the excerpting in the fiction section.  I have never really read excerpts from DFWs longer books before.  And once you decontextualize the parts, you can really appreciate them for themselves rather than as a means to the end of the story.  This is especially true of the excerpts from Broom of the System and Infinite Jest.  But also just reading some of these sections as a short story makes for an interesting experience.

It was also very interesting to read the non-fiction all together like that.  These pieces come from difference anthologies, but they have thematic similarities  So, placing them together like that allows for really comparing the stories.

And of course, the selling point for most DFW fans is the teaching materials in the center of the book–an opportunity to look into the man’s mind at work shaping younger minds.

I have written about virtually everything in this book already (title links refer back to previous posts), so mostly these are thoughts about the pieces themselves and not a part of a whole. (more…)

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1987  SOUNDTRACK: GINA CHAVEZ-Tiny Desk Concert #472 (September 22, 2015 ).

ginaChavez’ voice is poppy but a little deep, almost muscular which I rather like. Or perhaps its just confidence, the blurb notes “the intense openness and warmth of her performances.”

“Fire Water” is primarily a capella and percussion (with interesting clicks and shakers and even a guy whispering “ahhh.”  A few bass notes enter near the end, but other wise it I a very stark song.

“Miles Da Millas” is dedicated to a fiend of a friend who died recently.  He loved Tony Desk Concerts.  Whenever someone mentioned a new band he would say “But do they have a Tiny Desk?”  So this make Gina feel like she’s made it  This song, a cumbia, is bilingual with the chorus in Spanish.  And her voice is just as strong if not more so in Spanish.   It’s fun when the percussionist yells and whoops and overall its a nice groovy song.  It’s a little weird that she hums a trumpet (quite well, admittedly) when there is an actual trumpet player in the band.  They take turns so I guess it’s kind of duet.

When introducing the final song, she says spent 8 months in El Salvador doing mission work teaching English in an all girls’ school.  Things are really bad down there, so she started a college scholarship fund called Niñas Arriba.  This song “Siete-D” is about a wild ride on the 7D bus from Soyapongo to San Salvador.  Soyapongo is the home of the MS13 gang, the place where guide books tell you not to go.

It’s a fun song (sung entirely in Spanish) with a cool “Sube! Hey! ho!” chant.  It’s a bouncy song with some great trumpet work.  There’s even a rap in Spanish

[READ: September 9, 2016] The Complete Peanuts 1987-1988

I felt like after the major highs of the last few books, this one fell into a bit of a repetitive pattern.  This is not to say there weren’t memorable moments in the book, but there were a lot of variations on a similar jokes (especially with Spike in the desert–how many different ways can you make a joke about a cactus looking like a person with his arms up?  About fifty, I guess).

But perhaps it seems like things have changed because On 1-11 1987, that heading that has been there for so long–the hand-drawn looking “Peanuts featuring Good Ol’ Charlie Brown” had been replaced by a computer-generated font that just says “Peanuts.”  It also felt like the drawings looked different somehow–thicker lines, somewhat less polished?  And in July of 1988 it seems like Snoopy looks rather different. His ears are much smaller for one thing.  That seems to go away though.  But it’s some time round here or maybe even in a previous book that Schulz started drawing circles for eyes on Snoopy from time to time–mostly to express distress or angry.  But Snoopy is meant to have dots or sixes for eyes–the circles always look weird.  And sometime they look poorly drawn, if I may say so.   Especially on October 12 1988 (he’s supposed to look aggrieved, but they still look sloppy for Schulz).

And then, a huge shock to the system!  The daily strips go from 4 panels to 3.  Three panels!  What gives?  Is it because many of his fourth panels didn’t really have a punchline so much as a commentary on the punchline?  It’s mind blowing!  After thirty some years, he is finally messing with the format! (more…)

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1985SOUNDTRACK: JOAN SHELLEY-Tiny Desk Concert #473 (September 25, 2015).

joan When I first started listening to this Tiny Desk Concert, I thought Shelley was going to be singing more of a country music style.  But more careful listening revealed an early British Folk songwriting style.  Because I’d heard Richard Thompson talking about Sandy Denny recently, I  thought of her.  So I was pleased to see that the blurb (and Shelley herself) references Sandy Denny as well.

The Concert is Joan on acoustic guitar and Nathan Salsburg (she describes him: “my band, we are Joan Shelley”) on the second guitar.  They play beautifully together.

The songs, like “Easy Now,” are really pretty with a delicate finger-picking style from Shelley and fairly complex finger-picking soloing/accents from Salsburg.  But the best thing is her voice.  Clear and powerful–no warbling or hesitation, just clear beautiful singing.

I didn’t think I knew Joan Shelley, but “Stay on These Shores” sounds incredibly familiar to me.  She says that she is from Louisville Kentucky so it doesn’t make sense to her that she would write songs about the ocean.  She attributes it to the Sandy Denny lineage.  The way she sings the first line of this song is just hauntingly beautiful.  I really love this song a lot.

In “Not Over By Half” it is almost uncanny how much she sounds like a 1960s British folksinger.  Her delivery and phrasings are just amazing.  This is another beautiful song, all three of which came from her album Over and Even.

Shelley is an amazing force in folk music.

[READ: August 31, 2016] The Complete Peanuts 1985-1986

Schulz had been writing Peanuts for about 35 years when these strips came out.  Wow. It’s interesting to see how many themes have stuck around and how many have gone away or come back and been updated. I also love seeing the few pop culture references that he deigns to throw into his strips–things that he assumed would be eternal, I guess, or maybe things so ubiquitous he had to mention them?

Snoopy’s brother Spike is on the cover of this book.  I am somewhat surprised at how much attention he gets (especially since I don’t remember him at all).  The problem is that almost all of his jokes are about cactus.  I feel like Schulz was going for a loneliness angle, but it all seems to involved cactus “arms” or thorns.

The year starts off great for Patty because she won an essay contest on what she did during her Christmas vacation (she got a D- on the paper in school, however).  She even gets to read it out loud (where things don’t go so well).  Of course, she continues to get D miuses and in July 1986 she even get a tutor. He is quite snarky with her and she calls him Joe Sarcasm.  (There have been dozens of Joe ____ characters, although almost all of them have been aliases of Snoopy, this is one of the few for someone else).  Then she calls him Captain Tutor.  He shouts that his name is Maynard.  So Patty calls up Marcie to say she should meet him–he’s just her type…weird.  It turns out that Maynard is Marcie’s cousin (ha). Eventually Patty just throws him out.

For Valentine’s Day in 1985, Charlie has Snoopy pretend to be the little red-haired girl and Snoopy puts on a curly wig–is that the first insight into the girl’s appearance?  That week people are all hit by lost love.  It seems like an unusual and very specific emotion for Schulz to deal with–something he never really talked about before.  He’s certainly talked about lost loves, but never so directly.

Marcie continues to be one of my favorite characters.  Especially the way she picks on Patty.  Patty is still falling asleep in school all the time.  In Feb 1985, Marcie puts a binder on the back of her head, walks her up in front of the class and then shows off a “full-scale model of the human head” to the class.  Genius.  Patty doesn’t even wake up.

Linus decides that building a rock wall is good therapy.  It is suggested that he can do this instead of needing his blanket.  But let’s not go crazy.  Later, Linus tries to do his own laundry and Lucy catches him trying to stuff his shirt into the laundry detergent bottom

Every once in a while there’s a really wordy strip that I find very funny.  In March of 1985, Charlie is telling Sally a story from his grandpa about WII: “all the enlisted men were issued two pairs of shoes, but a lot of them men wore only one pairs so they could keep the other pair shined and looking nice under their bunks.  Battalion headquarters decided that the men should alternate shoes each day and to make to sure they did, the men had to lace their shoes on a certain way.  One day they had to wear the shoes which had the laces crossed and the next day they to wear the shoes which had the laces going straight across.”  Sally sensibly asks,. “How did they ever win the war?”

Sally is always asking her big brother for homework help, which he tends to refuse.  In March she says if he helps, he’ll get her everlasting gratitude.  When he doubts she knows what that mean she says “’til I ask you again.”

Sally has also been doing a lot of handwriting practice over the last few years.  Mostly it’s different pieces of punctuation (with funny comments about them).  In May 1985 she works on commas and possessives and quotation marks.  After telling Charlie all about it she says “stay tuned for the inside story of what goes on in the glamorous world of punctuation.”

And in some wonderful Sally mistakes that make me laugh: “behind the barn the farmer had a pastor” or “the walls were covered with naughty pine.”  For this one, she looks at Charlie and says “You looked like you were going to say something” and he wisely says, “not for anything in the world.”

In the realm of deliberate puns, Snoopy tells Woodstock to get a  job in a tree “you could be a branch manager.”  Sigh.

Pop culture: in May 1985 it is revealed that Woodstock has a satellite dish.  In August 1985 Patty reveals that she and Marcie are “mallies” :  They go to the mall to hang out.  But Patty is distraught that Marcie actually buys something there.  They even meet “a punker” which is snoopy with a kind of mohawk.  In October 1985, Sally does a presentation on Halley’s Comet saying that the next time it comes by will be in 2062–we’ll all be 80 years old when that happens.  [It passed by us in Feb 1986].  In May of 1986, Lucy starts a “swimsuit issue” campaign for the school paper.  She gets all the boys to wear swimsuits.  And in June 1986 Charlie’s desk comes equipped with an airbag.

In August of 1986, Linus asks Snoopy (the attorney) is he thinks cameras should be allowed in the courtroom.

August 1986 has Sally saying “I’ve decided to embark on a program of serious discipline. I’m going to eat properly, sleep properly and exercise properly.”  Charlie asks, “Then what?”  She replies, “You’re right, forget it.”

April 1985 sees an Easter Beagle strip (not as many of these as you might think).

There’s always baseball, and in April 1985 Charles mentions the new commissioner of baseball Peter Uberrroth (he took over in 1984).

There’s a lot fewer hockey references these days although Rerun is riding on his mother’s bike with a helmet and says people confuse him with Wayne Gretzky.  A few months later in March 1986 he has a Baby on Bike sticker on his helmet (That was a huge fad in 1985).

There’s not that much about football this year, although Sally wants to know why the guy is always holding up John 3:16 and then says she assumed it had something to do with John Madden.

There’s some tennis but not as much.  In March 1986 Molly Volley returns for a brief run with Snoopy.

Schulz must have been displeased about technological advances: Charlie tells Sally “if we watch TV all the time, we won’t have to learn to read.  if we use word processors and calculators we wont have to learn to write or do math.  Pretty soon we wont have to know anything.”  Sally replies “That’s when I’ll fit in.”

On the environmental front, in November Sally does a paper that she ends with “This report was written on recycled paper… no trees were destroyed to make this report.”

Summer camp in June of 1985 is all rain all the time. The only thing worse than all the rain is the prospect of a sing-along.  Ha  In 1986, the kids go to a survival camp which is pretty funny: “there are people out there who want to destroy our way of life.”

In August of 1985 Charlie and Sally are told that they are going to start taking the bus to school.  I love the way the joke plays out that they decide to walk instead, but the computer says they are on the bus, so they get in trouble.

Last book, Patty an Marcie went to a lot of Tiny Tots concert (Patty hates being called that). They always see Peter and the Wolf.  I wish that my kids went to Tiny Tots concerts.  But anyhow, in June 1985, Patty saves her ticket stub in hopes they will have raffle at the end–maybe she’ll win a violin.  Later in August 1986, Patty shows off her musical knowledge by asking why it is called Mostly Mozart, why not “Regularly Rachmaninoff, Principally Prokofiev, Frequently Franck, Largely Lehar, Chiefly Tchaikovsky [my favorite joke],  Mainly Mussorgsky, Essentially Elgar, Supremely Schubert or Generally Gershwin”.

Every once in a while Charlie gets a small victory.  Like when Linus tells him that he knows Charlie would like to cry but that he’s too macho.   Charlie gets excited “I am?!”

There’s few jokes of Woodstock getting attacked by a can of worms.  And even though i like Woodstock as a character a lot, for some reason, it’s always funny seeing him getting beaten up.

The World War I flying Ace continues to appear.  In a new twist he often speaks to Marcie in French.  Although in 1985, instead of the ace, he pretends to be Charles Lindbergh, the “Lone Beagle.”

Lucy continues to be a voice for women’s rights.  When Snoopy is flying over No Mans Land she asks what about No Woman’s Land.  So he changes it to “No Person’s Land.”

In February of 1986 Sally believes that the LL on the elevator button in the library stands for Louis L’Amour “that’s pretty neat having your initials on an elevator button.”

Schulz also taught me something new.  A ganglion cyst is also called a bible bump.  It is a cyst that forms on your wrists and they say you should hit it with a bible.  I’d never heard of this, but apparently it is a thing and quite common.  Of course Schulz uses it as an excuse to make a joke about the different translations of the Bible.

In another funny sequence, Snoopy and his scouts get a cannon.  And they fire it!  But it destroys not only his dog house but also Lucy’s doctor booth and even Schroeder’s piano (over the course of several strips).

In May of 1986 they elect a May Queen.  In Charlie’s school, Lucy is elected (which makes Patty say that the school has low standards).  In Patty’s school… Patty is elected!

Sally gets a great joke in.  A speed limit sign says 25 When Children are Present.  She says, “I never realized we had so much influence.”

And the best one liner of all: Sally has to go to the dentist “I have to go have my teeth criticized.”

Two new characters arrive in 1986.  One is a girl who is unnamed.  The joke with her is that Linus is two months older than her but she keeps referring to him as if he is an old man.

And in September 1986 we meet Tapioca Pudding.  Her dad is in licensing and she always talks about how her face is going to be everywhere.  Every time she talks to someone she introduces herself by her full name and everyone says “I know.”  Linus asks her out on a date (which makes Sally really jealous), but all she can talk about it herself and her licensing.  She asks Linus if she is boring him “No I always like to rest my face in a marshmallow sundae.”  Finally Snoopy the agent gets her a gig appearing at the Opening Ceremonies in the Olympic Game in L.A. (which were two years earlier).

In October 1986, Sally develops a new philosophy “Who Cares.”  From now on nothing bothers me.

When Patty wants to organize a football team, Marcie says the costumes aren’t feminine enough.  Then she wraps the football in a bow.  Patty gets mad and says she won’t kick a ball that’s wrapped in a bow, but Marcie says “The Icebox would”  Patty: “Refrigerator” Marcie: “Whatever.”

Lucy didn’t pull the ball away in 1985 (there was no mention of it).  But she does in 1986 with the excuse that it is a special moment to look forward to every year.  Then she pulls it away and sighs “it’s over before you know it.”  There’ also a Great Pumpkin joke in 1986.  Patty says she believes him about the Great Pumpkin.  And then jokes that “On Secretary’s Day the Great Secretary rises from her desk and rides through the city in a taxicab with notepads for all the secretaries everywhere.  And on Grandparents Day the Great Grandmother rises out of her condominium with cookies for all the grandchildren in the world.”

As 1986 draws to a close, Charlie gets up the nerve to wink at the red-haired girl. There is no reaction because she wasn’t in school that day.

And the musical jokes continue in December 19896 with Patty saying the enjoyed the concert because Marcie spent the whole time “Flauting with the flirtist.”

Patton Oswalt wrote the introduction.

He mentions how he bought the third Calvin and Hobbes treasury in 1988 and Schulz wrote the introduction to that.  Schulz’ introduction was full of praise for Watterson’s technical skill and all the wonderful details he put s into his strips.

Oswalt talks about how over the 35 years the strip went from kids writing with desktop inkwells and now he’s talking about answering machines.   Oswalt is dismayed that Schulz had to include an attorney as an imaginary Snoopy character–a sad reflection on our world

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