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Archive for the ‘Torture’ Category

[LISTENED TO: September 2017] The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy complete radio series

The history of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is almost as convoluted as the story itself.

Douglas Adams (with help from John Lloyd) wrote the radio story in 1977.  It aired in 1978.  A second season aired in 1980.

Adams wrote the novel based on the radio series in 1979.  And then the second book The Restaurant at the End of the Universe in 1980.

Then they made the TV show.

Apparently Adams considered writing a third radio series to be based on Life, the Universe and Everything in 1993, but the project did not begin until after his death in 2001.  The third, fourth and fifth radio series were based on Life, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish and Mostly Harmless which were transmitted in 2004 and 2005.

It’s interesting and a little disconcerting how different the radio play is from the story of the book. There are a lot of similarities of course, but some very large differences.

The first series obviously leaves a lot out from the book, since the book wasn’t written yet. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SHAKEY GRAVES-Tiny Desk Concert #495 (December 14, 2015).

I thought I had posted about every Tiny Desk Concert, but on double checking I found that I had missed this one.  I had heard of Shakey Graves and I assumed he was a country/folkie singer.  Which he is, although really his style is to mix country, blues and rock ‘n’ roll.  I also had no idea his real name is Alejandro Rose-Garcia.

This set sees Graves on acoustic guitar (with a strap with his name on it) accompanied by another acoustic guitar (which seems rather small) and a mandolin.

“To Cure What Ails” is a pretty, slow folk song. It’s simple enough with nice high mandolin notes and a good guitar line between verses.  Shakey has a nice voice and the song feels compelling like a story, although I don’t think it is.  He’s also charming and funny in little ways–he makes a lot of funny faces and chuckles.  But his music is really solid and the harmony at he end of the song is really great.

For “The Perfect Parts” the mandolin switches to bass and they have a little discussion n how to play it.  Shakey tells the drummer how to play the beat and then says they’re going to make it us as they go along.  This song is darker and has a cool sinister vibe.  He sings in kind of deep mumble for this song which works well for this song.  The song gets a little intense for a few lines.  And by the end it builds pretty loud with some good whoa ho ho backing vocals.  So much so that for the last chord, “he attempted a stage dive at the Tiny Desk.”

For the last song, “Only Son,” he:

breaks out his guitar and suitcase kick drum/hi-hat, [and] a palpable rush of swooning adrenaline hits the room. I felt that at the Americana Festival in Nashville, at the Newport Folk Festival and here at the Tiny Desk.

He says it is soon to be the last of the suitcase kick drums (this is his third).  He dreamed about having an object that he could cart around with him and still make a lot of noise.  The drum is actually behind him and he stomps the pedals with his heels (I can;t believe the camera never zoomed in on it).

He says the song is about “the moment in your life when you realize you’re not alone… there’s an aha! moment where you’re like ‘not just me?’  The drummer plays bass, the mandolin player has the mandolin back and Shakey has the kick drum suitcase.  There’s some terrific harmonies (and chuckling ) throughout the song, and I love the way it stops and starts.

[READ: Late 2016 and early 2017] McSweeney’s #45

The premise of this collection was just too juicy to pass up.  Although it did take me a while to read it.  Eggers’ introduction talks about the contents of this issue.

DAVE EGGERS-Introduction
Eggers says he came across a collection of stories edited by Hitchcock. He really liked it and then learned that Hitchcock had edited 60 volumes over the course of 35 years.  He was excited to read literary genre fiction.  But he was more impressed that theses stories did what literary fiction often forgets: having something happen.  He then bought a cheap book edited by Bradbury (Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow) and he liked it too.  He was surprised that there were so many canonical writers (Steinbeck, Kafka, Cheever) in a Bradbury collection.

So, why not make a new collection in which we can compare the two genres.

Despite this looking like a pulpy paperback, there were still Letters.

LETTERS

CORY DOCTOROW
Doctorow says that Science fiction is not, indeed, predictive.  That any genre which deals with so many potential future events is bound to get some things right.

JAMIE QUATRO
Quatro says she was asked to write a letter for this genre issue, but Quatro doesn’t do genre, so she was about to pass.  Then her son, from the backseat, asks what bulwark means.  Then inimical.  Then miasma.  He is reading a book called Deathwatch about soldiers whose brains are removed so they no longer fear. Suddenly, when she compares this idea to her essay on Barthelme, she sees that maybe McSweeney’s was on to something after all.

BENAJMIN PERCY
In fifth grade Percy (who has a story below) gave his teacher a jar full of ectoplasm.  He has always been different.  He proposes the Exploding Helicopter clause: if a story does not contain an exploding helicopter (or giant sharks, or robots with lasers for eyes or demons, sexy vampires. et al), they won’t publish it.

ANTHONY MARRA
Marra discusses Michael Crichton and how something doesn’t have to be Good to be good.  He says Crichton was a starting point for him as an adult reader.  And what can be wrong with that? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SKATING POLLY featuring LOUISE POST & NINA GORDON OF VERUCA SALT-New Trick EP (2017).

So Kelli (17) and Peyton (21) have added their brother Kurtis (20) on drums which allows the grrrls to focus on guitars and bass.  This EP, as the name states, was co-written with Louise and Nina of Veruca Salt

“Louder in Outer Space” is the catchiest thing they’ve done by far.  The harmonies are great and the chorus (and even the verse) has the clear impact of Veruca Salt.  The co-songwriting has upped their game in a number of ways too with interesting vocal harmonies.

“Hail Mary” has a real Nirvana feel in the chord choices and in Kelli’s vocal delivery.  The addition of Peyton’s backing vocals in the chorus are a wonderful detail.

There’s a simple bass and drum set up on “Black Sky.”  But when it gets going, it’s the most Veruca Salt of the three songs. It’s even more so when the song pauses and someone (even their voices intertwine) sings “the monster of a sky.”  Then end the song with the following section, the way the vocals (all four of them, I assume) swirl around is really great.  It’s such a terrifically catchy song.  And a dynamite EP.

[READ: December 17, 2017] “Lynch Law”

This story was constructed around what I assumed was a fabricated title but which is very much real: Mounted Police Life in Canada, A Record of Thirty-One Years’ Service by Superintendent Richard Burton Deane (you can see the whole book here).  I was willing to accept the “truth” of the book even if it was made up, but knowing that it was real makes this a more interesting (but not more enjoyable) story.

Basically what we have is Deane’s official transcript of events and then a woman’s explanation of the story from her point of view.

The story begins with quotes from the manuscript: (more…)

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2008_03_24-400SOUNDTRACK: MILAGRES-Tiny Desk Concert #198 (February 27, 2012).

milagresI hadn’t heard of Milagres before this set.  Bob mentions how they are a band with many layers of music–practically a wall of sound.

The big sound of Milagres is built from small, simple elements: the boom of the kick drum, the clack of the claves, the repetitive tap-tap-tapping of a piano. This is a band of selective minimalism — which, in the end, somehow gets me thinking about the big sounds Phil Spector made. It’s all about attention to detail, and Milagres is a band that cares.

And yet for this Tiny Desk:

Frankly, I worried more when the band’s list of gear didn’t include a single amp and its members said they didn’t need to use our keyboard. They came armed with a red toy piano, an autoharp, a shaker egg, a melodica, a glockenspiel, a few acoustic guitars and not much else.

But in the end, that same attention to detail made this a great Tiny Desk Concert. In spite of the tiny sound, the songs were big and strong — delicately built, yet sturdy enough for the emotive sounds of Kyle Wilson’s voice.

Wilson’s voice is kind of  loud whisper, but the band, with all of their funny gear sounds really full and the elements come together very nicely.

“Hard to Stay” starts out nicely, but when the band adds the lovely “ooohs” during the first verse it sounds amazing.  And you can hear all of the instruments perfectly balanced—the authoharp, the melodica and then the xylophone.  Couple that with some lovely lyrics

All the leaves are glowing green / as the seasons rage all the birds seem to sing in the key of A

“Halfway” opens with a toy piano—which doesn’t sound cheesy.  Wilson hits lots of delicate falsetto notes that work perfectly with the piano and xylophone.  The chorus “Halfway, halfway, I could be halfway” is all sung in gentle falsetto.  And then add more of those beautiful ooohs during the second verse.  I also really like at the end when he keeps playing his chords higher and higher up the neck–getting kind of noisy–until it all abruptly stops

“Glowing Mouth” opens with shaker and melodica and again, the sound is nice not cheesy.  he sings wonderful falsetto “haaas” in the middle and the autoharp returns with the great sound.   He play a simple but pretty riff on the acoustic guitar as the song ends (its fun to watch his fingers playing it close up).

The band really won me over with their sound here and now I’m very curious to hear what they’re “supposed” to sound like.

[READ: January 27, 2017] Y’all Torture Me Home”

I am astonished that this essay had to be written at all back in 2008.  But I am even more upset that now, 8 years later, issues of torture are being considered again.  Really the only word that should be coming up regularly is impeachment.

When I was in college I wrote a humorous piece for my college newspaper that was all about Deconstruction.  There had been a debate going back and forth about it (seriously), with the people who were opposed to it saying that it led to a belief that nothing had meaning–which could cause a spiritual crisis.  (Ah, the 90s).

Since no one was winning this argument, I jumped in with my piece which was all about “de construction” at “da University” (our school was expanding and there was orange construction fencing everywhere).  It was hailed and enjoyed (at least by one of the professors in the philosophy department).

I bring this up only because Saunders takes a similar mis-understanding approach in the essay, which, sadly, is timely once again.  His piece begins:

I was overjoyed that Congress refused to override President Bush’s veto of a bill outlawing the washboarding of prisoners, a technique that some have described as torture—a ridiculous notion if I’ve ever heard one.

[After you unpack the negatives, the ruling was that “washboarding” can continue]

And thus begins Saunders detailed account of his own experience with being washboarded. (more…)

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