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nameless

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 10 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 17, 2005).

This was the 10th and final night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.   And their final show on the Rheostatic site before the “final” shows in 2007.

Great guest moments including Anthony Fragomeni reprising his Drumstein character from Dave Reid’s Centennial High School Production, Selina Martin and Jenn Foster guesting on I Dig Music/PROD, Robin Lowe taking another shot at Sweet, Rich, Beautiful and Mine due to issues with Martin’s Rig on Guest Vocalist night, Ida Nelson and Tim performing Listening, Kaitlyn and Nevil guesting on the Pogues Fairytale of New York and an awesome version of Powderfinger wedged inside Feed Yourself. Great show to end the final edition of the Fall Nationals.

The show opens with “a folk song for all you drinkers here at the hustling Horseshoe Hotel”  It’s a big friendly welcome that introduces the band as well.     Martin: As the song says, “Welcome.  Things have been pretty hairy the last few nights.”

As they start “Northern Wish,” Dave says, “Hey, who is that guy.  You’re not in our band.  Someone call security.”  It sounds great. Then Ford starts playing the “Everyday People” chords.  They sing the song and fun and then Tim segues his bass line perfectly into “It’s Easy To Be With You.”

There’s a very nice “Introducing Happiness.”  Ron Koop from Peep Show comes out, “He’s been our knight in shining armour.”

During “Queer,” Ford gets a lengthy piano solo which suddenly changes to Gordon Lightfoot’s “Alberta Bound” (send this one out to Dutch)

Up comes Ms. Robin Lowe, she’s been selling you shit for the last ten days.  There’s some talk about Roger Clemens.  Martin “What?”  Robin: “The Astros.  Baseball.”  This leads to a discussion about the Italians on the Moon.  Dave: “The Italians wouldn’t go to the moon because it’s just too far from home, from mama’s kitchen.  Unless mom could go too and lay out his spaceman clothes on his space bed.”  Martins mom is there tonight.  “So no cussing, Martin.”

“There’s no swearing in this one.”  On “Sweet, Rich, Beautiful, Mine” Robin makes up for the problem the other night and does a great job–such high notes!  The only thing I miss in the song is when Martin’s guitar soars at that one mention of “rich.”

Martin then says “This is Ford’s set list.  I wrote this song when I was a teenager.  And I think the last time we played it i was still one.”  For the line: “And mother said [Mike: tonight] lying’s wrong.”  Martin: “I like that song.  I forgot about it.”  Ford: “It got played last year. I didn’t think it would be such a big deal.”

Selina Martin and Jennifer Foster come out for “I Dig Music.” Ford: “now there are beautiful women, who knows what will happen next.   They sing backing vocals but not very noticeably.  Mid song, Dave notes: “we defer to the velvet fog or in this case the Polish fog.”  (MPW’s vocal about “Senor Slime.”  They get really insane by the end with everyone screaming “jazz animal.”  Dave says with just a little bit of hard rock thrown in there.  It turns into “P.R.O.D.”  Ford plays the horn.  Dace: “That’s a big horn. What hardcore needs is more French horn.”  Tim is called on for a bass solo, but it’s the wrong bass. “Shall we pause while Tim puts on the right bass.”

It’s our last night so we feel required to walk the tightrope–always on the edge of trying too hard.

Send this out to George Collins: “Making Progress.”  At the end Tim says, “That’s for Lisa.”  Dave: “No I already dedicated it to George.”

Ford plays a long wavery weird keyboard note as a transition to “Who Is This Man And Why Is He Laughing?”

Dave says “On Wednesday we did Whale Music and we brought some songs out of the woodshed and here’s one of them in case you missed it.”  It’s a nice version of “Who?”   Tim: That was definitely from my They Might Be Giants phase [I can hear that].

But it takes a bit to start because Michael’s having a pee.  Every time he plays that red guitar he has to pee.

Martin says “We’re gonna tighten up the space between songs from here on.”
Dave: “That was peeing problem.”
Martin: “I’ve noticed as a general trend.  It’s not a gabby night.  Last night was a gabby night.”
Tim: “incontinence was a trend.”
Mike: “Tim is one of those toque guys who when he takes it off you think male pattern baldness but then he peels it off and he’s got lustrous hair.”
Dave: “hair pride, hair shame, hair shame, hair pride.”
Tim: “You guys are talking not rocking.”

I Am Drumstein.  Anthony Fragomeni (formerly Anthony until he went to jazz college, now he’s Tony).  He was the lead of Centennial High School’s Story of Harmelodia.  Tim says it was a career highlight seeing that.   Tony adds personalized notes about the band in the lyrics and they really rock the end.

MPW plays a drum fill through the end–I just did that because I blew the ending and I thought I’d do an interesting beat to a new song.
Tim: “That drum part reeked of cover up.”
Mike: “You’re right.  Me and Karl Rove.”

After a pause.  Mike says, “Let’s do something sprawling and epic.”
Martin: “Almost as sprawling and epic as the space between songs.”

Martin introduces “CCYPA” as “this is a little blues number I wrote to sell chicken wings.”  Mid song Tim advises, “Remember they call it conservative but it’s still spelled Reform.  They’re like wolves in dogs’ clothing.”  Dave: “Stephen Harper eats babies.  You can see it in his eyes.  He takes off his face and there’s a  lizard face.”  Mike: “He went to France to get dead eye transplants.”  Tim: “And under the face of the lizard is the face of a Reform party member.”
By this time, they’re down to just a few bass notes playing.  “If Tim stops, are we still inside the song?”

Mike asks Martin if mid-song patter is okay, and Martin says, “yeah, I’m enjoying this.”

This next song is also brought to you by Ford Pier (Mike: and his incessant caterwauling).  They play a fun “Triangles On The Walls” and Martin modifies a line to: “her name was Satan, but I guess she called herself that for her own protection because she was perfectly nice.”  It’s followed by a very nice “Try To Praise This Mutilated World.”

Up next is a surprise cover of “Fairytale of New York” sung by Kaitlyn and Nevil (“and we’re both wearing matching outfits tonight.”  Nevil does a great Shane/Tom Waits style.  Kaitlyn is less impressive.  After the first verse, no one does the penny whistle fast part, but that doesn’t stop them. They kind of fight their way through the song and it’s overall pretty okay.

There’s a really intense “Feed Yourself” with Dave singing/screaming “I wanna see her face” and getting really creepy: “open up the grave.”  They play a decent “Powderfinger” in the middle of the song and then come back to finish it.”   We’ll stay in the suburbs for this next song: “Stolen Car.”

Dave thanks everyone for the privilege of playing for them “It gives us lots of fuel for the future.”  (Rats)

The end of “Song Of The Garden” is just insane with Dave freaking out and screaming about the beauty of Harmelodia.  But as the song ends, Mike won’t stop his insane drumming and Martin is making all kid of feedback noises.  Dave even tries to get everyone to stop “Hey children, you know what time it is?  Rock n roll children, do you realize what time it is?”  But Mike won’t stop.  Dave starts playing “You Are Very Star” and Martin starts singing even while mike thunders away.  They finish the song in a childlike way and someone says, “Aw young’uns you’re all so adorable.”

“The Land Is Wild” starts with Dave solo.  It builds but people mess up the end on him.”  Then Tim plays a new one (“Listening”) with Ida from Vancouver  Great Aunt Ida has opened for them the last few nights).

“Legal Age Life At Variety Store” starts.  Dave says, “I think it’s time.”  Tim: “For me to play the drums?”  It’s tradition.  Every year for the five years or maybe even longer…  I don’t mean Martin playing the bongos, or mike playing the bass or Tim playing the drums.  It’s the fifth annual Horseshoe twist contest.”

Mike is terrible at the bass and Tim screws up a fill, “I know, I know, I’m back on the bass.”  “Timmy ‘smooth fills’ is fired.”  “I’m not fired so much as demoted, downsized.”  The contestants, are Melissa, Eric “that’s Eric with his version of the twist.”    Stephanie fulfilling her life-long dream to twist with the Rheostatics.  Susan, Paul and James.  As the twist continues, Martin starts talking in a crazy Russian accent: “Hi, my name is Wendell Clark (presumably he has the Wendell doll). Can you twist with Wendell.? I guess i think Wendell Clark is Russian or something.”

Then he introduces “the twist champion of the greater Ottawa Valley Ron Koop.  All of our contestants have been super fine–they all get something from the merch table and the honor of twisting with Ron Koop.”

After nearly 20 minutes of Legal Age Life and twisting they play “Power Ballad For Ozzy Osbourne.”  Dave switches the words to “Wendell, dear old Wendell” and Ford gets on organ solo.

After a jaunty “PIN,” Dave says, “don’t worry fellas, you guys are going to get to the leather bar.  Things don’t really get started until 5 clock.

And after all of that, they end the nearly three hour show with a ten minute scorching version of “Horses.”  When they get to the Talking Heads part, Martin sings it in the robot voice–which sounds pretty awesome.  It’s a great ending, a great set, and quite a shame that the band broke up a few months after this.:.

[READ: July 26, 2017] The Stone Heart

It had been a year since I’d read the first book in this trilogy.  I was worried that I’d forget what had happened, but Hicks catches us up pretty quickly and, more importantly, her storytelling was so good in the first book that it was easy to get right back into this exciting story.

The story opens on Rat and Kaidu–Rat has been doing some physical therapy on her hurt ankle and is feeling pretty much all better.

As a nice reminder, we see Rat and Kaidu meeting Ezri, the son of the General of All Blades.  In the last book, it was Rat and Kaidu who saved Erzi and the city.

We also see that a monk is there to discuss things with the general.  Rat knows the monk (named Joah) who used to be a soldier but rescinded violence when he joined the monastery.  Then we also see that Erzi’d guard Mura also knows the Monk and doesn’t seem to like him much. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: August 2017] The Prophet of Yonwood

I did not enjoy the second book of Ember much at all.  I wasn’t even going to continue with the series, but I was intrigued at this being a (shorter) prequel.

This book came out when I was still working at a public library so I remember the cover quite vividly.

But when I put in the disc I was shocked to realize that the narrator was different!  Where was beloved Wendy Dillon?  That was disappointing.  Worse yet, this book was set in the South so the new narrator, Becky Ann Baker, had a whole lot of Southern to speak to us, which I don’t care for in an audio book.

So there were already two strikes against this.  And then it turned out that the story has literally nothing to do with Ember at all.  Well, that’s not strictly true, but it is set in America (at an unspecified future date) where global stresses are tense, but in which life goes on.

Set with a backdrop of global war, the United States is up against the “Phalanx Nations,” and unless changes are made, war seems imminent.

Into this we see Nicole (Nickie) Randolph, an eleven-year-old girl visiting Yonwood, NC, with her aunt Crystal.  Nickie’s grandfather recently died and Nickie’s mother and aunt want to sell the property, called Greenhaven, and be out of Yonwood.  For reasons either unclear or which I don’t remember, Nickie is travelling with her aunt and not her mother, which is a little odd, but whatever. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: July 2016, July 2017] The City of Ember

I enjoyed this book when we listened to it the first time and I enjoyed the graphic novel as well.

But I couldn’t remember enough about the audio book to post about it so I listened to it again.  And what was so interesting this time was how much it sounded like an attack on our current political situation:

A greedy pig in charge of a country; sycophants as his cronies; keeping as much as possible for themselves and allowing the richer to get richer while the country falls apart; shutting down truth; imprisoning dissenters and just to top it off, the mayor is a large man with very small hands (seriously).  The only real difference is that the mayor speaks eloquently and has a big vocabulary.

I absolutely loved the reading by Wendy Dillon.  She has quite distinctive voices for the main characters and some of the secondary characters have wonderful details about them that keeps them individual–the mayor wheezes, another character smacks his lips together, Clary speaks slowly and deliberately almost with a stutter.  It’s wonderful.  And the sound effects, while not necessary, are a nice addition.  Although they are fairly infrequent and can be surprising if you forget about them.

So what’s the story about? (more…)

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after-room SOUNDTRACK: NICOLA BENEDETTI-Tiny Desk Concert #274 (May 6, 2013).

nicolaNicola Benedetti is a Scottish violinist who has had a storied career already.

Benedetti was mentored by Yehudi Menuhin starting at age 10, and won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Award a decade ago.  She plays a 1717 Gariel Strad. (It’s worth some $10 million.)

The first piece she plays was instantly recognizable–where had I heard it before?  Ah yes, the mournful and harrowing music from Schindler’s List.  [Williams: Theme from ‘Schindler’s List’].  She plays it perfectly, of course.  It’s evocative and instantly brings back scenes from the film.  And then apologizes for it being a bit of  sombre start.

 Then she plays a piece by Bach–he wrote six sonata and partitas trying to emulate many instruments at once.  This one is Bach: “Chaconne from the Partita for Solo Violin in D Minor.”  She says she’s not playing the whole thing because it’s 16 minutes long.  But she plays the first third which is also recognizable.  Once again, it sounds beautiful.  The blurb speaks of “the way she makes room for silence in Bach’s Chaconne before tearing deep into its dense warp and weft.”  And it is indeed enchanting.

[READ: May 30, 2016] The After-Room

This is the final book in a trilogy (what is it about trilogies that are so popular?) that began with The Apothecary.

This book is set in 1955.  (Sarah and I were commenting on how this era of history is an unusual one for stories to be set and how that’s a nice change).  Janie and Benjamin are safely back in Michigan after the deadly exploits of the previous book.

Benjamin’s father was killed at the end of the previous book and Janie’s parents have agreed to take care of him–so he is living with them.  Janie’s father is quite suspicious of a romance between the two of them and he has every right to be.  Janie is certainly in love and Benjamin probably is too, but he has other things on his mind right now.

I had planned to read this book when it came out, but I was involved with a very big book when it came out.  But I was at the library with nothing to do so I grabbed this and started reading it and I was hooked immediately.  In fact, I found this book so good, so fast paced and exciting that I put down my other reading and just flew through this. (more…)

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compassSOUNDTRACK: CAROLINE ROSE-Tiny Desk Concert #465 (August 24, 2015).

carolineCaroline Rose is a rocking country gal.  Rose’s music is inspired by rockabilly, fast country and traveling from town to town in a van.  She plays electric guitar and the rest of her band includes a bass drum and slide guitar.  The slide guitar kind of dominates the songs though, so they all sound kind of samey to me.

“Yip Yip Yow” is a fast rockabilly type of song with some silly lyrics.  It’s a fun song.  “I’ve Got Soul” This song is bouncy and rocking although I can’t help thinking of the old adage that if you have to say it you probably don’t have it

“I Will Not Be Afraid” is a more inspirational song with a real honky-tonk feel.  The guys ware wearing T-shirts that say “fuck fear” but they had to cover them up for broadcast (which is why they are wearing jackets).

Of all of the recent rocking country gals I’ve been hearing, I like her best.

[READ: March 15, 2016] The Golden Compass Graphic Novel

I loved The Golden Compass when I read it about a decade ago.  I thought it was really smart, really subversive and really engaging.

What you might notice about this graphic novel is that it was translated.  The Golden Compass was written in English.  This graphic novel was written in French (as Les Royaumes du Nord #1) by Stephanie Melchoir and then translated back in to English by Annie Eaton, which is a weird process.  The art was done by Clément Oubrerie.

The original book was quite large (about 400 pages).  This graphic novel is about 8o pages.  And, as you might guess, quite a large chunk of it is pictures.  So it has been reduced pretty drastically.

One of the great things about the book was the subtlety and evocative descriptions.  You can see where I’m going next–this condensed version is…lacking. (more…)

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imperiumSOUNDTRACK: PAT BENATAR & NEIL GIRALDO-Tiny Desk Concert #407 (November 24, 2014).

benatarI never liked Pat Benatar.  Back in the day she was all over MTV (and even in Fast Time at Ridgemont High) and I just didn’t like her.  I’m not sure why, although I was particularly bitter about “Hell is for Children” (being a child myself).  Of course, I still know all of her singles really well.

But I haven’t thought about her in probably a decade.  And then  around 2014 that she was playing with Neil Giraldo in some kind of acoustic tour.  I recognized his name but didn’t know they were married or anything like that.

And so here they are doing a Tiny Desk Concert–all acoustic–with him playing guitar and contributing backing vocals.  Over the decades, Benatar’s voice has changed a bit–she sounds gruffer and it really suits her. (more…)

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nameless SOUNDTRACK: TWEEDY-Tiny Desk Concert #391 (September 22, 2014).

tweedyI’ve recently become a major fan of Wilco and Jeff Tweedy’s songwriting.  This band is Jeff Tweedy and his son Spencer (on drums).  They usually perform with a full band, but here it’s just father and son.

The songs sound very much like Wilco (Tweedy’s voice is unmistakable), but there is a different, almost patient feel to these songs that makes them seem not-Wilco.  Spencer’s drumming is not flashy (that wouldn’t work here anyway), but it is right on the beat with occasional flourishes.

“Wait for Love” is a sweet ballad.  “New Moon” is a bit more upbeat.  There are 20 songs on the record.  After the second song, Jeff says he doesn’t know how many songs they’re supposed.  Bob says they’re supposed to play til 6″ (it appears to be early afternoon).

Jeff says they can stay till six, There’s nothing happening in the world, right? Bob states, “There is no news today.”  Jeff smiles and says that later “Spencer and I are going to reveal our strategy for ISIS, so it’s a good thing you’re here.”

“Low Key” is more rocking with some cool chord change progressions in the middle (ans a little drums-only section).

Before the final song, he says he wrote it for Mavis Staples (She didn’t sing it when I saw her…bummer).  He says that “Spencer didn’t play on that record… but we know how to play it together.”  He pauses and says, “We know how to play all of our songs together.”  Pause  “I’m such a good front man” (to much applause from everyone).

Jeff laughs and says that Spencer is gonna get a microphone and “you’ll have to talk to people.”

“You’re Not Alone” is a bit more complex and powerful than the others and that repeated refrain of “open up this is a raid” is really great.

The Wilco Tiny Desk Concerts have been raucous and fun.  This one is much more low-key and shows off a different side of Tweedy.

There’s a sweet moment at the end of the set where Spencer give his dad a hug.

[READ: April 20, 2016] The Nameless City

Faith Erin Hicks has been consistently excellent with her graphic novels.  I was pretty excited to see that she had a new book coming out.  And I was even more excited to go to the library and see that Sarah had requested it already.

I dove right in to this story.

It begins with some unnamed people riding down the River of Lives and going into a city.  They ask several different people what the name of the city is and they get several different titles.  They determine that this is the nameless city.

It turns out that every civilization that has conquered the city (which happens every thirty years or so) renames the city.  And, depending on which invaders you like best, that would be the name you would choose to call the place.  We later learn that most of the conquerors only conquer the main walled city proper and that the houses and markets on the other side of the wall pretty much just go with the flow.  The people who live outside hate everyone who is in charge and just try to keep their heads down to survive. (more…)

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