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Archive for the ‘Unreliable narrator’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DARLINGSIDE-Pilot Machines (2012).

The first Darlingside EP had no information about the band.  It was almost a blank slate.  This, their first full album at least gives us this:

Darlingside consists of David Senft, vocals and guitar; Harris Paseltiner, cello, guitar and vocals; Auyon Mukharji, mandolin, violin and vocals; Don Mitchell, guitar and vocals; and Sam Kapala, drums and vocals.

Yes, drums.  This is the final Darlingside album with drums and the final Darlingside album with a sound that is not their current sound.  At this time Darlingside was more of an indie folk rock band who sang with great harmonies and had some unusual instruments.  But they still rocked in a fairly conventional way (in fact the drums are often front and center).

“Still” bursts forth with harmonies (ahhhs) and loud drums. They play with a loud/quiet dynamic within the verses.  It sounds like Darlingside if you squint your ears.  The lyrics are pretty funny, (and now a message from our sponsor) and it’s really catchy too.  But those drums really modify everything.

“The Woods” opens with the kind of harmonies that Darlingside would become known for.  But this song has a propulsive drum moves things forward.  It also highlights some great wild violin and a short spaced-out outro with some heavily processed vocals.  “The Woods” and “Ava,” both have really big loud moments.  Ava starts with a thumping bass and picking guitars but it builds nicely with some great tension between the vocals and guitars.

“Drowning Elvis,” has a very spaced-out drum groove, lots of strings and a clean guitar sound.  “The Company We Keep” features mandolin and high voices.  It’s a pretty, folkie song.

“Blow the House Down” is familiar to fans because they have re-recorded it and play it live consistently.  “The Ancestor” was also recorded without the drums for their next album.  This version has a kind of low thrum underneath the song but the drums are just a kick drum.  It sounds pretty close to the familiar version.

I’d actually like to hear this whole album re-recorded in their current style (no disrespect to their drummer), but the rock band format changes the whole sound of the songs and it would be interesting to hear how they differ.

Having said that, this rock band format also makes some great songs.  “Only Echoes” starts as a slower, moodier piece but midway through it dramatically shifts gears and grows really loud with a buzzy bass and distorted guitar and smashing drums.  It’s the most un-Darlingside song I can imagine, but it’s really great.

“When Fortune Comes” and “My Love” are quieter songs.  “Fortune” focuses on their harmonies (there’s no drums).  While “My Love” has shuffling drums and an upright bass.  The lyrics are also a bit rougher than expected: “You weren’t the first to call me….an arrogant son of a bitch but…”

“Terrible Things” opens with snapping drums a rocking staccato guitar line.  The singers do a series of single note “coo” sounds that’s pretty neat.  The vocal harmonies are really cool and a little spooky, too.  It’s a neat song.

“Sweet an Low” has a very smooth sound (and an extra vocalist–Caitlyn Canty).  The final two minute are kind of an extended jam with this little electronic device.

When I first listened to this after falling in love with Darlingside’s current sound, I didn’t like this very much.  But having listened a few times, I really like these songs.  They’re very well crafted with some excellent details.

[READ: February 5, 2018] “Fletcher Knowles”

This excerpt is from a then novel-in-progress and it is a doozy.  It’s very funny and very meta and once again I can’t imagine where the story is going to go from here.

The story begins with the character saying that his name is Fletcher Knowles.  And he is going to tell his story.  He says that he is going to tell everything from memory and that you should never doubt your own memory.  Nor should you trust anyone who says that they doubt their own memory.

So he is going to tell his story exactly as he wants to.  Which means he is not going to: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE BAND’S VISIT-Tiny Desk Concert #745 (May 21, 2018).

After nearly 800 Tiny Desk concerts, The Band’s Visit is the first Broadway musical ever to play the series.

The show opens with four men in powder blue uniforms (the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra–Garo Yellin-cello; Sam Sadigursky-clarinet; Harvey Valdes-oud; Ossama Farouk-darbouka) playing “Soraya,” a lively instrumental.

From the first note strummed on the oud, Yazbek’s nominated score transports the Tiny Desk to the Middle East with traditional instrumentation and melodies, and weaves in beautiful theatrical ballads.

The Band’s Visit insists that it’s OK, even essential, to get “stuck” with strangers who have different perspectives. It serves as a poignant reminder that our common connection to music can rise above the noise of intolerance

The composer David Yazbek comes out to explain the scene:

The story of The Band’s Visit,  told the Tiny Desk audience, “is about hope and faith and silence and music.” It tells the tale of Egyptian musicians stranded in a small Israeli village. The townspeople have no choice but to take them in. Eventually, the love of music allows the characters to see past their differences and form an unlikely bond in a single night. The musical was adapted from the 2007 film and has been nominated for 11 Tony Awards.

He introduces Katrina Lenk (nominated for a Tony Award).  For this song, she is reminiscing about her childhood growing up in the middle of nowhere in Israel.  The main cultural delight was through her mothers radio and TV via Arabic music and movie stars like Umm Kulthum and Omar Sharif.

“Omar Sharif” is a beautiful song with a wonderful really compelling melody.  It’s noy musical-like at all.  It is very passionate with one big moment but never over the top.  Her accent as she sings is wonderful.  I love the lyric

honey in my ears / spice in my mouth

The song features Andrea Grody on piano and Alexandra Eckhart on bass.

Although it’s a Broadway smash hit, it lacks the opulent, bring-down-the-house song and dance numbers. It’s a more intimate show with some universal messages that fit the up, close and personal space of the Tiny Desk.

Dina interacts with Tewfiq the leader of the orchestra, “the swarthy, handsome Tony Award nominated Tony Shaloub.”

She asks him to sing something and he offers an Arabic poem (a capella).

Yazbek’s poem Itgara’a, translated here from Arabic and sung a cappella by Tony Shalhoub, sums up the show’s philosophy:

When you drink, drink deeply / Drink deeply of the moonlight / drink deeply of the dark / of the loneliness / of the joy.
You will never drain the moonlight / you can never end the dark. /  In your eyes, the flash of joy / in your mouth, the sweet shock of honey.
You are the joy / you are the loneliness. / Drink deep.

It’s followed by a wild and fun instrumental “Haj-Butrus” with pizzicato violin, some wild oud work and an amazing darbouka solo.

For the final song he tells us about a character.  The telephone guy.  He’s off at the side of the stage at a pay phone waiting for it to ring–for… days? weeks?  He’s waiting for his girlfriend to call.  The last song is a culmination of everyone yearning for human connection and something deeper.

“Answer Me” features “telephone guy” who is Adam Kantor.  Kristen Sieh (who plays Iris) representing the cast of thousands and George Abud who plays Camal (and the violin solo earlier) plays some oud in this song.

Kantor has a lovely high voice.  After a brief instrumental break, Lenk sings and then with the backing players as a chorus Shaloub joins in as well.  Although of all of the songs played, this is my least favorite.

The crew from the show, which opened last November at the Ethel Barrymore Theater, descended on NPR at 8:30 a.m. — seven musicians, five actors, a wardrobe department, a make-up artist, a publicist, a music director, the composer and even a vlogger. We started early so they could hustle back to Manhattan for a 7 p.m. curtain.

The musical sounds wonderful and I’d like to hear the rest of the soundtrack.

[READ: July 7, 2016] “The Midnight Zone”

I found this story to be mostly good but there was something that didn’t resonate with me.  The whole story is told in a very detached, first-person style.

The story opens with a family staying in an old hunting camp.  They are told that a Florida panther was seen in the camp a few days earlier, but things were pretty quiet for them.

“we had lunch, then the elder boy tried to make a fire by rubbing sticks together, his little brother attending solemnly….  Then dinner, singing songs, a bath in the galvanized-steel horse trough…and that was it for the day.”

The father/husband gets a call that he has to return home for an emergency.  He said he’d be back in two days.  And so it was just the wife and her two (very) young sons. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KHRUANGBIN-Tiny Desk Concert #743 (May 16, 2018).

The sound of the guitar that Khruangbin create is so dead on for an old sixties band that as they started this set I thought perhaps it was a sample they were opening up with.

But it was all live.  And as the camera comes on for “Maria También” we see this trio jamming this really groovy instrumental song (with whispered words from bassist Laura Lee).  The guitar melody is full of circular riffs but when it shifts to the main body, I love the way the bass and guitar play the same thing but it sounds like a fresh addition of low-end (his guitar seems to eschew the low-end entirely).  The middle of the song is a cool guitar solo with lots of hammer-ons and chords thrown in to generate a really wonderful sound–the tightness of the ending is really cool too.

So Khruangbin is a

trio from Houston, Texas heavily inspired by 1960s and ’70s funk and soul from, of all places, Thailand. That musical passion has taken them on a journey that, these days, incorporates music from Spain, Ethiopia and the Middle East. Khruangbin’s largely instrumental music is grounded in Laura Lee’s bass, with Mark Speer playing those melodic, richly reverbed guitar sounds and Donald “DJ” Johnson on drums and piano.

“August 10” is a jazzier number with lots of slow but evocative bass. The main part of the song is gentle chords with some cool riffage.  The middle slows things down with some very gentle na na na nas from all three members. Johnson’s drums are pretty simple and standard throughout–keep the beat and add some accents.  It’s that funky bass line that is so great.

Two of the three songs performed at this Tiny Desk Concert are from their 2018 album Con Todo El Mundo, which is dedicated in part to Laura Lee’s Mexican-American grandfather. He’d often ask her how much she loved him and the response that pleased him most was when she would say, “con todo el mundo,” (with all the world.)

The third track in this performance is one of the band’s first forays into vocals, from their 2015 debut album, The Universe Smiles Upon You. “White Gloves” gently pays homage to a “classy lady” who was “a fighter” and who “died in a fight.” Its open-ended lyrics could imply a battle that was violent or an illness. It isn’t clear.

“White Gloves” is more mellow and less jamming.  I am fascinated that Johnson switched to piano (no drums on this track) for this song. Unlike the other two songs, this one needed to grow on me, but I enjoyed it by the end.

[READ: January 28, 2018] “The History of The History of Death”

This story is written as a speech given at a Symposium held at the University of Melbourne, 2— The Symposium was called “Postmortem of the Printed Word.”

The speaker announces that in 490 BC Hermodorus tried to refute Heraclitus’ claim that “everything changes and nothing remains still.”  He did so by writing a History of Death in which “only those things which had ceased to change” would be recorded.

After writing the first volume, he died of a seizure.  Another scribe had just recorded Hermodorus’ death when he himself fell ill and died.

Future writers chronicling this History of Death also died in complex ways.  One was trampled by a horse, one died of stomach cancer.  When it was translated into German, it became like something of a light for moths as so many scholars wound up dead. (more…)

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 SOUNDTRACK: JENNY AND THE MEXICATS-Tiny Desk Concert #721 (March 26, 2018).

I had never heard of Jenny and the Mexicats.   Interestingly, the blurb below doesn’t say anything about where they are from.  One assumes Mexico, but Jenny herself has a rather posh British accent when she speaks.  It also turns out that the band is based in Spain…so all preconceived notions are dashed.

Jenny and the Mexicats’ … high energy shows are unforgettable … Mixing flamenco, originally from southern Spain, with Jenny Ball’s jazz trumpet background and a little bit of cumbia has created their one-of-a-kind musical identity.

The grooves these musicians create can be frenetic (as in the first performance here, “Frenético Ritmo”)…

This song is sung in a mix of Spanish and English–the verses are predominantly Spanish but the ends of each verse seem to be in English.  Jenny’s trumpet works perfectly with the music they are playing.  And the electric guitar plays some interesting sounds throughout.  The song slows down to a pretty ballad with the flamenco guitar playing a solo before the song ratchets up again, cumbia all the way.

or slow and luxurious (“The Song for the UV Mouse House”).

Jenny sings in English on this song with a fascinating accent.  She has a diva’s R&B wavering vocal style, and yet she also seems to have some cockney on some of the words. The song is a ballad and the plentiful drums–hand, box, snare and percussion–keep the roots in Mexican music.   The whispered spoken word middle is a nice touch.

In both cases, the group presents the perfect cushion for Ball’s impassioned singing and engaging stage presence. There are no weak points in the instrumentation, and with Ball out front, the songs come to life as the short stories they are — like that of the young lady who appreciates a beer before taking on life’s challenges in “Verde Más Allá.”

Before the song Jenny tells a story about their favorite show: “We did a concert based on airlines.  We came out like pilots, there was a plane crash in the middle of the show, we came back as angels and devils, it was a lot of fun.”  The guy behind her helps out: “it was a Halloween show.”

“Verde Más Allá” is a mellow song about a Caguama (pronounced kawama).  The guitarist asks, “What is a caguama?”  It’s a liter-sized beer, and the song is about a girl who doesn’t like to work and loves her caguama.  It’s a fun song, “no le gusta trabaja!”  After the first verse, right on cue, the percussionist plays the office’s train whistle which makes everyone crack up.  The end of the song features some sing along, and the flamenco guitarist doing one of those high-pitched flamenco laughs.  At the end, Jenny (whose dress is dangerously short), holds down the ends of her dress so she can jump for the conclusion of the song.

Much good fun is had.  Caguama!

[READ: January 31, 2018] “Five Stories”

Here’s five more short short stories from Diane Williams.  And once again, she amazes me with her sentences and aggravates me with her stories.

“Girl with a Pencil”
The first two paragraphs seem like a different story, as the rest of the story seems to flow from paragraph number 3 in which a girl draws a picture of her future: two shoes, a pair of legs and the hem of a skirt on top.  Her mother was mad that there was no head.  I like that this is a formative experience but the resulting brute seems oddly out-sized.

“A Gray Pottery Head”
I enjoyed this story because of the way it ended.  “That night…something exciting a foot.  She has a quarter hour more to live.”  Except that that wasn’t the end of the story (it was the end of the page).  The next several paragraphs are about her death. It’s the first of her stories where I felt it was way too long. (more…)

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 SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, ON (March 29, 2007).

Visit this link for all kinds of information about this show (labelled Good)–interviews, blog posts, photos (and even links to myspace!)

So this is the final show before the band;s final show (before they reunited).  Martin’s voice is still out, but he tries valiantly.

The Horseshoe Tavern show opened with a lengthy intro of Dave mucking about on acoustic guitar.  He announces Tim Vesely on the bass and joining us tonight Mr Ford Pier on the keyboards.  That intro segues into “Easy to Be with You,” and this proves to be one of my favorite version of the song.  They are having such a lot of fun with it the “do dah do dah” is terrific and big and I love that the “…to Harmelodia” line is done entirely on the synth.  And while we’re at it that Martin Tielli on the guitar and hat.

Martin: “welcome to our penultimate show.”
Dave: “now I know what ‘penultimate’ means.
Mike: “Hot?”
Dave: “I always that it meant better than the best.”

Martin takes lead on “Aliens (1988).”  He doesn’t sound great but he valiantly tries his best–whispering when he needs to.  As has become customary, Tim plays the “Artenings Made of Gold” riff during the middle section of the song and then they sing it at the end.  When he whispers it sounds good–although not as good as his real voice.  Ford asks what an artening is “I’ve been wondering this for am awfully long time and I think I have a right to know.”  Martin whispers: “a simple precious object.”  Tim: “we’ve narrowed down that they’re made of gold.”  Ford: “as opposed to artenings made of dung I suppose.”  Dave: “No there are those.”

“This next song is from our Bahamian period… hanging with the Baja Boys … and Ozzy.”  Tim says, “This is the song about our cats at home.  They’re still around Alfalfa and Wolfman.”  A great version of “Introducing Happiness.”

Martin says “Christopher” is about growing up in Ontario. I wrote it when I was quite young.  There’s a cool jamming solo in the middle that Tim gets in on as well.

At the end of “King of the Past” Tim says, “nice song, Dave…  Martin: One of the many songs that Dave writes and others sing.  Tim: And finish for him–i wrote the third verse (try to make sense of it).  Dave: “That’s what a band is all about… a musical soccer team.”

“I’ve been cursed with a problem that a lot of people have been…”  Dave: “Being Italian?”  Tim: “Listening to too much Marianne Faithfull.”  Martin: “I never know what’s going to come out of my mouth.”  Tim continues: “This song pretty much sings itself.”  Dave: “We’ve got the Hitmaker 2000.”

Martin plays “P.I.N.” and says, “I’ll do the rock and roll thing and ask for help for you to sing along.”

“Mumbletypeg” opens with Dave saying, “have you heard the news, there’s going to be good rocking tonight.   We’re going to bring back all of the 80s catch phrases because we lived through it.  We suffered through … a few good moments in a sea of piano key ties.   Tim starts “calling out the chords” –give me a C minor.  Tim “That’s it.  That’s enough.  Two C minors are pretty good.”  Dave: “Whatever you want, Tim. G?  A7?  D?  I know all the chords.”  Tim: “How about some handclaps….  No I don’t like the handclaps.  I liked the C minor better… wait C minor with handclaps.  Mike: “I feel like Tyler Stewart back here–keep going Ty! Dave: “You don’t have enough splash cymbals to pull of the Tyler Stewart.”  The song sounds great.

“Pornography” is sent out to all our american friends.  And then as Martin plays “In This Town” he says, help me out i haven’t played this in a year.  What’s the verse everyone?”  Everyone happily sings along.

Dave: “So we’re breaking up and it feels alright.  We’re all going to be a mess tomorrow.  When are we going to have a big stage cry?”  Mike: “Are you going to play the note that makes everybody weep?”

He’s not, instead they play a lovely “Loving Arms.”

And then Paul Linklater “The Scribbled Out Man” will play with them.  Mike says, “You guys got a nice drummer (It’s Don Kerr).  Tim: “And so do we.”  Mike: “I’m not threatened.”

Ford asks how many people have been in the Rheostatics.  Dave: “define ‘in.'”  Does Seth the Magician count?  He wasn’t into us.”  Then some solid advice: approach with caution when playing with magicians.  Dave: “I gotta be careful that Mysterium doesn’t put a curse on me.  Then more words of wisdom from Geddy Lee: “always take your wallet on stage.”  Tim: “And I’ve not lost a dollar since I’ve been in this band.”

Martin tells a story about that one time the woman with the short skirt and the diaper was dancing at the Town Pump.  People were pointing at her and after the show she and a guy with a harmonica and a neck beard were going through our coats on my amp.  She was wise to the Geddy Lee advice.  Dave: “It actually was Geddy Lee.”  Martin: she was doing splits on stage really hard in her adult diapers–the diapers must have been for cushioning not pee pee. Luckily we never have any money so martin didn’t lose anything.”

Martin: I went to see Colin Hay… some people after they finish… they go on tour and sing their songs and they spend about half an hour talking about how I wrote a fucking song.  (Dave: I think you’re selling Colin Hay a little short”).  And the guy from The Kinks and they’re brilliant and I love them but get off the stage already.  Dave: “Colin Hay talked about being drunk at the US Festival  — he was wearing a brown suit and decided to shit his pants rather than using the porta porty.”

Dave: “That’s where I’m headed story and song isn’t it inevitable.”  Mike: “Live and incontinent.”

I wrote [“The Ballad Of Wendel Clark”] about being a skinny effeminate Etobiocokian kid, angry in my basement and I didn’t like the guys who liked hockey at the time (Tim: at the time?).  “Hey, I got into the playoffs last year.”  The song features the bridge from Stompin’ Tom Connors’ “Bridge Came Tumbling Down”).  There’s a wild picking solo from Paul Linklater (sounds nothing like Martin’s playing).  Paul’s first band was called Gig Vest from Justice, Manitoba, they totally blew us away and we’ve been fans of Paul’s ever since.  Tim: “but we mostly prefer the early funnier stuff.”

“Song of Flight” sounds gorgeous and segues nicely into a wonky and fun version of “Song of the Garden.”   They play a noisy weird jam. Dave: “take it up to A.  they start playing “Radios In Motion” by XTC (they keep chanting “new science” which leads to Ford singing “She Blinded With Science” and playing weird chords.
Dave starts off “Queer” by singing the chorus of “Big Leagues” by Tom Cochrane.

They send “Queer” out to Hawksley Workman.  After a few verses it segues to a slow “Saskatchewan” which eventually leads back to the conclusion of “Queer.”

Somebody yells and insanely long “yeah” it lasts about 8 seconds as Dave starts singing “The List.”  I assume it’s an early version.  It’s followed by another acoustic song “My First Rock Show”  When he gets to the Massey Hall line, he starts a “Massey Hall” chant.

Hey Ford, what was your first rock concert  Ford: D.O.A. (that’s too good) my first larger show at an arena the first one my parents knew I was gong to was Big Country in Munich in 1984.  Big Country were kind of the ELO of new wave.  For D.O.A., I had to sneak out because I was young.  Dave:  Do you have a D.O.A. song you can do for us?  It’s only fitting.  Tim Vesely was born to play D.O.A. drums.  Ford starts “The Enemy.”  Then says, they used to give me money to do that.  It’s a fun interlude: “Wonder if Martin has done his cigarette yet.”

For the first encore they play “We Went West” with some input from the other guys-backing vocals and Dave saying “I remember that.”  The songs seems to rock harder by the end.  “Joey 2” is solid and uneventful but his voice is pretty much gone for “Self Serve Gas Station.”  He whispers some of the moments but his voice is lost on “the morning time has come!”

“Michael Jackson” is pretty quiet (with Tim singing “abc,123”).  Finally Dave asks Tim: “Do you like the rock?”  Tim: “I don’t know I like the classical, I like the jazz.”  Dave: “Martin’s got the rock, Timmy’s got the roll.  Mikey’s got the funk.  Fordy’s got the roll”  Tim:  “I don’t feel it…. I’m starting to feel it…. I still don’t feel it.”  An extended ending started by Tim on bass with Martin adding solos.

Then a quick run through the “Green Sprouts Theme” with Tim calmly saying “from the ground” but then screaming, take it to the bridge!”

They came back out again for “Legal Age Life” w/ Peter Elkas and Ben Gunning from Local Rabbits (and no Martin who was having a beer and a chat at the back of the bar for this encore).  Four fans sings verses.   They all try to jump to the chorus too soon, but they sound good.  Then it’s time for a guitar solo or a bass solo we’ll have one of our guests–the shaggy guy or the clean cut guy (clean cut!)  The guy plays the solo.  Then the shaggy guy plays a solo.  And then the segue into “Record Body Count” which Ben or Peter sings.

Then they talk about the weirdest fans:

  • the girl Julia who brought a stuffed chicken to all our gigs
  • Kai the Ass Dancer guy with irreverence sweatband who did creative dance to our early days
  • the guy with a Riverdance headband who did creative dance to our early songs.
  • the gypsy from Dawson City

“Oh, there’s Martin.”  They call him up from the crowd, it’s pretty neat watching from the crowd.  Tim: “make sure you know the words.”  There’s talk of Padre Pio and bilocation.  They send “Stolen Car” out to John Tielli. Martin: “he’s my brother….I mean literally.”

They apparently ended the show with an acoustic “Northern Wish,” although there’s no recording of it.

[READ: January 6, 2018] “Take Me”

I have only read one other piece from Lispector and it was peculiar, but I liked it.

This one was peculiar but I did not like it at all.  I’m willing to accept that since it was an excerpt from the novel The Chandelier, it was less clear than it could have been.  But no, this was just an unpleasant read.

It begins with Virginia looking in the mirror . The entire story is in her head.  She knows she looks lovely and she wonders “who will buy me?  I want someone to buy me so much.  I want someone to buy me so much that…that…that…I’ll kill myself.”

Then she goes out on the town, kills a dog (seriously) and asks a disgusting man to take her. He gets all excited and then she stepped on his face and spat on him. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE LEEVEES-Hanukkah Rocks (2005).

The collection of Hanukkah songs is fantastic. I love this album more than a guy who doesn’t celebrate Hanukkah should.

The LeeVees are Adam Gardener from Guster and Dave Schneider  from The Zambonis (with help from The Time Share Choir).  Dave and Adam write super catchy poppy-but-rocking songs all about the holiday.  Most of them are funny or have a humorous aspect, but the songs all rock and stand up to repeated listens.

“Latke Clan” begins as a sweet ode to everyone’s favorite potato pancake  “Santa is cool but Hanukkah Harry’s the man, come and join of Latke Clan.”

“Applesauce vs Sour Cream” is the perennial decision you have to make with your latkes.  “just tell you mom to fry, not bake.”

“Goyim Friends” Goyim friends make lists and get snowboards and paintball guns, but “we will march on, six pairs of socks from each other’s mom.”

“At the Timeshare” is a hilarious, catchy song.  It’s swinging and loungey and is all about their parents wanting to live down at the time share in Boca or was it Boynton.  Or Daytona. Or Talahassee (There’s no Jews there).

“How do you spell Channukkahh?” is a hilarious goof on the spelling of this holiday and it totally rocks.

“Kugel” is a sweet mournful song about how times change–“you were once sweet and creamy, no you’re low-fat.”

“Jewish Girls”  Go to the mitzvah Ball, you may be surprised to find who is in the tribe.

“Gelt Melts”  This punky number says what everyone knows–if you keep the gelt in your pocket, you’ll be sorry.  “If goys can eat an Easter Bunny, why can’t we eat chocolate money.”

“Nun, Gimmel Heh Shin”  Yup, a dreidel song without the music from the dreidel song.

“There’s” also a bonus track called “Holiday,” a simple acoustic guitar song with the two guys singing about a lovely relaxing holiday.

[READ: December 20, 2017] “The Game of Smash and Recovery”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

This was one of those stories where the character and setting are otherworldly–completely alien.  The main characters have a full story arc, and yet we are never provided any kind of context for where or even what they are.

The question is, of course, does it matter.

In some respects, no, and yet it is so frustrating to read this whole thing and have so many fundamental questions unanswered.

The main character is Anat.  She loves Oscar, her brother, who has raised her practically from childhood.  Their parents have been absent for as long as she can remember.  They left when they realized that Anat was different–what was she? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 1 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 8, 2005).

This series of ten concerts contains the final Rheostatics live shows that are left to write about–except for their “final shows” and their “reunion shows” (which I really hope to see some day). This was the 1st night of their last 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe. Ford Pier was on keyboards.

These shows seem significantly shorter that the 2004 Fall Nationals.  This show is under 2 hours–practically unheard of in a Fall Nationals.  Unlike the 2004 Fall Nationals, however, they are not promoting an album, so there is a lot more diversity of songs.

This recording is from the audience, so there’s a (shocking) amount of chatter from fans.  You also can’t hear everything that’s said into the mics, so you have to listen close if you want to hear audience interaction.

The show opens with them talking to fans from San Diego (Mike: “that means Saint Diego”).  Dave asks how long they’re here. He says well, we have three chances, then.

“Loving Arms” is a sweet opening from Tim.  Then Martin starts announcing in a smarmy voice “I’m a member.  Hi there.”  It’s a launch into “CCYPA” (Miek: “in an election year, imagine that”).  Tim follows with a quick “Song Of The Garden.”

Then Dave starts playing the opening to “Fat” to much applause.  “That’s Ford Pier on the keyboards.  That’s Tim Vesely on the keyboards.  That’s Martin Tielli on the keyboards.”  During the end jam section, there’s some loud, unusual backing vocals which I assume are from Ford Pier.

Martin: “What’s the first note of the next song, Dave?  I’m feeling a little shaky.  But that’s what this song [‘Fish Tailin”]is about so it should lend itself to this current number.  After this comes “Mumbletypeg” Martin: “That is David Augustino Bidini.  Dave wrote this song.  All by himself!”  It romps along nicely.

Next is the first of a couple new songs.  “Sunshine At Night” is actually a song hat Tim would release on his 2008 Violet Archers disc Sunshine at Night (where it is mostly the same but more fleshed out and better-sounding).

Martin is having fun with the “Hi there” smarmy voice as an intro to “The Tarleks.”  It’s followed by “Marginalized” which has a rather lengthy and dramatic piano solo in the middle.

Martin: “That was by Timothy Warren Vesely.”  Ford: “Stop shouting everyone’s middle names, Jesus.”  Dave:  “Martin is obsessed with middle names, whenever he meets someone new he says ‘What’s your middle name?”  Mike: “Yeah right but whats your middle name.”  Ford continues, “A friend of mine was engaged to a woman from Slovenia.  When she came to visit she was astonished to hear that everyone had a middle name–are you all rich?  It was a difficult thing to explain to her.  She associated middle named with wealth?  Middle names were not a concept that came to her block in Ljubljana.  Tim: “Ford tried to convince her it had something to do with wealth.”

Then came a song, “The Land Is Wild.”  This would eventually be released on Bidiniband’s 2009 album The Land is Wild.  It’s pretty much the same although this earlier version has a few lines that are not in the final.  A line about him being in his own head and listening to Metallica, Ozzy or Queen.  There’s another line about tickling the net and being lost in his head.  Both of these lines are left off in the final.  Interestingly, the final verse about fishing with his old man and his death were added later.

Martin says that for “Here Comes the Image,” Augustine is going to play the drums and Dimitrius is going to play the keyboard.”

As they start, “It’s Easy To Be With You,” Dave says, “My friend this is no time to be talking on your phone, there’s some serious rock n roll happening up here.  Take a picture with your mind.”

It’s followed by a beautiful “Stolen Car.”  Martin’s vocals are just so good.  After the song ends, properly, there’s an extra acoustic strumming section that soon becomes “Nowhere Man” sung by Selina Martin.

Dave notes that it has been 25 years since John Lennon was killed.  The world has gotten a lot shittier.

Ford then says, “You know who was really burned on that score? Darby Crash, lead singer of The Germs.  He committed suicide with an intentional heroin overdose the same day.  Five years earlier David Bowie said they only have five years left.  So he told his band mates hat five years from now he was going to off himself.  They ignored him, but he did.  And then three hours later the Walrus gets blown away.”
Dave’s takeaway: “Never take advice from David Bowie.  He told me to buy a wool suit.  Well actually Springsteen told me, but Bowie told him.”
Tim once ate some hot soup with David Bowie.

We’ll do a couple more for you seeing as how it’s Thursday.  Tim: “Can you do a little pretty intro for me that you sometimes do?”  Dave does and “Making Progress ” sounds big and more rocking than usual (the keys help).  Martin plays  a more rocking guitar solo before settling in to the pretty ending.  When it’s over you can hear Dave says “we can call him Timmy, I’m not sure you can call him…  Well, I guess you just did.  Is this your third straight year?  Fourth?  You’ve earned the right to call him Timmy.”

Thanks to the Creaking Tree String Quartet they were beyond awesome.  I can’t wait to see them again tomorrow night.  The set ends with a lovely version of “Self Serve Gas Station” with some great piano additions.  The song ends in a long jam with trippy keys a fun solo from Martin.  As he walks off Martin says, “I smoke Gaulioses Blue cigarettes, since they can’t advertise.  The flavor!  And so did John Lennon and Bruce Cockburn.”

After the encore, Dave sings and acoustic “Last Good Cigarette.”  When Martin comes back out they play a surprising encore song of “Song Of Flight” which segues into a mellow intro for “In This Town.”  By by the end it picks up steam and rocks to the end.

It was a fairly short first show, of the Fall Nationals, but they played a lot of interesting stuff.

[READ: April 20, 2017] Friends is Friends

This book had a lot going against it.  The title is virtually impossible to find in a catalog (3 words long, 2 words repeat, the other word is “is” and the one main word is incredibly common in children’s books, ugh).  On top of that, no libraries near me carried it.  And then its got that creepy-ass cover.

Reviews of the book weren’t very positive either.  So my hopes weren’t very high.

And even with low hopes, I was still pretty disappointed. (more…)

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