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Archive for the ‘War’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-New Year’s Eve 1995 – Live at Madison Square Garden (2005).

Phish has always made New Year’s Eve shows special (I have tried for a few years now to get tickets but have failed).  These shows are usually long, full of surprises and something of a spectacle (this was especially true when they were younger, like in this show–Rolling Stone named it as one of the “Greatest Concerts of the ’90s”).  The concert features a cover of The Who’s “Drowned” and “Sea and Sand” as well as a substantial number of songs from Phish’s mythic and hardly ever played Gamehendge cycle.

“Punch You in the Eye” opens the show with a funky groove and some great sing-alongs (this is a tangential Gamehendge song).  If you watch the video, you can see Trey and Mike dance during the salsa moments, which is pretty amusing.  As the song ends, Page gets a lengthy piano solo while Trey plays percussion.

“The Sloth” is an interesting second song–its chugs along and is very heavy (it’s also the second song in a row to mention getting sliced on the nipple).  (this is a proper Gamehendge song).  “Reba” sounds great—and at 14 minutes, it’s got a good stretching out guitar solo.  “The Squirming Coil” is one that I want to see live.  This version is mellow with a lengthy piano solo–it segues perfectly into “Maze” which has a long keyboard solo and then a guitar solo.  (20 minutes total).

Then things settle down into the Gamehendge saga.  It begins with “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent”in which he talks all about the Gamehendge Time Lab where the Phish guys work when they are not touring,  They say that they used the Helping Friendly Book to learn how to make time move forward–otherwise we’d be stuck in 1994 all the time and you’d hear the same songs on the radio (they play a minute of Collective Soul’s “Shine”).  This is all part of  lengthy “Fly Famous Mockingbird)

“Sparkle” sounds great with a super fast ending.  And the first set ends with an 8 minute “Chalk Dust Torture” which has a great solo.

Set two opens with the audience chess move in which the audience member defeated the band by capturing its queen.  Score at the end of 1995: band 1, audience 1.

Then they play a great version of The Who’s “Drowned” (even is Mike can’t hit all the notes).   It segues into a rocking “The Lizards” (part of Gamehendge) and an even more rocking “Axilla, Pt. 2” (tangential Gamehendge).  “Runaway Jim” is a 16 minute jam with a middle part that slows down to just bass and audience clapping–and then some 70s funky keyboards while Trey plays his own percussion kit. Things settle down with a pretty “Strange Design” and an a capella “Hello, My Baby” (which is totally audible hooray).

And they end set two with a great 20-minute “Mike’s Song.”  The first jam is Page and Mike and its long and groovy and the last five or so minutes ends in very trippy sequence with trey jamming on his digital delay pedal.

Set three begins with the end of the year countdown.  The notes for the disc talk about the Gamehendge Time Machine (you can watch the Countdown and celebration here–as well as the whole show).  Fish is dressed like baby new year.

Once the countdown finishes, they launch into an instrumental version of “Auld Lang Syne” which segues into a fun 17 minute “Weekapaug Groove” (Trey throws in some “Auld Lang Syne” notes into the solo).  It turns into a surprisingly stark piano melody of The Who’s “Sea and Sand” (sung by Page).  This is followed by a 25 minute “YEM.”  There’s a big long keyboard solo and then some lengthy guitar solos before the song settles to complete silence.  The silence ends with a whispered ”washufeet” that morphs in and out of Trey whispering and everyone muttering and making noises and becomes a vocal jam that is mostly harmonies.

They come out of the that with a bright version of Sanity.  It starts really rocking especially when they all start shouting “BOOM, POW.”  The set ends with an awesome version of Frankenstein (complete with one more “Auld Lang Syne” solo nod in the middle).

After nearly three and a half hours of playing, the band still had time for an encore—a rollicking version of “Johnny B Goode.”

Now that’s a way to welcome in the new year!

[READ: March 30, 2017] “The Sympathizer”

I really enjoyed this excerpt, but I was puzzled about what direction the story would go after this section.

I was also puzzled at first as to why this story was in the Pho Issue of the magazine (stories don’t necessarily correspond to issue themes).  It starts off in Vietnam, so I figured that was the tenuous connection.  And that was fine.

The narrator is reading a screenplay of a movie set in Vietnam.  He has been called in to counsel the auteur (whom he agrees is, in fact, talented) on the Vietnamese-ness of the story.  But the narrator is not to be swayed.  He himself wants to work in Hollywood, but he is immediately on guard against the racism that he encounters.  Or maybe it’s all in his head–he is certainly prepared to be offended by everything.

Not least because the screenplay, while good for the white heroes, treats every Vietnamese person exactly the same.  None of them have any lines [cut to villager speaking in their own language], most of them simply scream, and if they’re not getting killed (bad guys) they are thankful to the white people for saving them.

The narrator gets right in the auteur’s face with a very dramatic demonstration of how people scream differently in different circumstances. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, ON (December 11 1996).

This is the final show on Rheostatics Live in which the band is opening for The Tragically Hip.

For this show, the intro music is also from The Wizard of Oz, but this time it’s Judy singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  It’s just one verse before fading out and then guitars fading in for Martin to play “A Mid Winter Night’s Dream.”

Turns out that this setlist is similar to the one from Buffalo with a lot of new songs.  Although there are a few older/more popular songs in places.

The new songs include “Fat” which sounds great of course.  I gather they are maybe sharing a microphone because at the end Dave says “See you in the next song, Martin.”  “Okay, Dave.”  This leads into a perfect version of “All the Same Eyes.”

Martin says “We are the Rheostatics.”  Dave says “We are the Rheostatics, not to be confused with The Howell Brothers (?).  They couldn’t make it but we got their jackets.  It’s nice of you to come out early.  We’re playing selections from our new record. Get it before it’s reduced to clear.”  (You can hear someone laugh on tape).

This is a segue into the single “Bad Time to Be Poor.”  It’s followed by another Tim song, “Claire” with the acoustic guitar opening in place.  There’s another lengthy guitar solo, although it’s not quiet as exciting as some of the other ones.  But Martin was saving up for a spirited version of “California Dreamline.”

They end their set with a rough rocking “Feed Yourself.”  During the spoken part, they slow things down to just a bass and washes of guitar.  It’s a pretty intense ending and a good preparation for The Tragically Hip.

[READ: June 25, 2017] The Story of Canada in 150 Objects

In celebration of Canada’s 150th year, Canadian Geographic and The Walrus created this special issue–a fun way to describe many elements of Canadian culture through “objects.”

The objects are grouped in vague categories.  Some have just a few words written about them while others get a few pages.  Some are humorous, some are more serious.  Most are happy or amusing, some not so much.  And all of it together paints a diverse and complex portrait of the country–as well as teaching this person from South of the border a number of things I did not know.

It’s with comic pride and humility that the first object is politeness (which is not an object at all, of course).  The amusing thing about this article about “politeness” is that while the author of it is very pleased to be so polite, he also can’t wait for his fellow Canucks to forget to be polite so he can rub it in with a extra smarmy “You’re Welcome.” (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: April 2016] The Scarecrow and His Servant 

I was looking for a story that Clark and I could listen to in the mornings when I drove him to school.  I didn’t want it to be too long (our commute was only 15 minutes), but I wanted it to be really enjoyable.

I know Pullman from the His Dark Materials series which I loved.  But I didn’t know much else by him.  This story seemed unusual, to say the least, but it was a perfect length–about 3 hours–for morning drives.

The audio book was read by Graeme Malcolm, and he did an amazing job–he had a great variety of voices at his disposal and he really made the story come to life.

The story is really quite unusual.  It begins with the history of the titular scarecrow.  How a man made him–and gave him a lovely turnip for a head–dressed him smartly and tucked a piece of paper, to show ownership, into his jacket pocket.  Pretty much straightaway, he is stolen, and then stolen again and then one more time until he is very far from home standing in a field.

And then he is struck by lightning and comes to life! (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: August 2017] Adventures with Waffles

I saw this book in the library and the title sounded interesting. The blurb on the back when enticing as well, so I grabbed it for our family road trip.

I had no idea that the book was a translation of a Norwegian story (Vafflehjarte) nor that it had already been translated into English as Waffle Hearts (a much more accurate, and frankly much more satisfying title).  I gather from a little research that Waffle Hearts is a British translation and Adventures with Waffles is an American one (although they both have the same translator, Guy Puzey).

The story is about Trille and Lena, two kids who live next door to each other in the village of Mathildawick Cove in Norway.  Their village is small and there are only 9 kids in their grade.  Lena is the only girl. The bully Kai-Tommy wishes she weren’t in their class.  But Trille feels that Lena is his best friend (he hopes it is reciprocated, but is unsure).  She is wild, she is spontaneous, she is dangerous.  And she is a lot of fun. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JOSEPH-Live at the Newport Folk Festival (July 29, 2017).

 Every year, NPR goes to the Newport Folk Festival so we don’t have to.  A little while afterwards, they post some streams of the shows (you used to be able to download them, but now it’s just a stream).  Here’s a link to the Joseph set; stream it while it’s still active.

Joseph is a band of three sisters and their sound is a little like Indigo Girls–if there were three of them.

When Natalie, Meegan and Allison Closner shout together to the heavens, accompanied only by Natalie’s acoustic guitar, it’s a joyful noise that intrinsically celebrates their bond.

So yes, Joseph is all about harmonies.  They play six songs from their recent album I’m Okay, No You’re Not which is a pretty great release (with a few songs that go a little too commercial).  For the most part, it is just one guitar and three voices.

Their first song “Stay Awake” starts off quietly with one of the sisters (Natalie, I assume) singing and plucking a spare melody on the guitar.  And then about a minute and fifteen second in, all three sisters sing and suddenly the song is magical.

 “Canyon” has a number of amazing moments, but especially when they sing along with one of the sisters taking lead and the other two doing some great harmonies.  When the lead sings “I wanna feel it,” all three singers soar to the rafters in a gorgeous harmony (around 7:25 of this set).

They get applause for “S.O.S.” before playing it.  This is their poppiest song and the one that verges closest to a sound I don’t like (especially for them).  But it’s hard to deny it when they sound so good live.

For “Planets” they ask if anybody wants to sing and they give the audience a mildly complicated melody to sing.  I can’t really tell if the audience is any good at it, but the sisters seem to like it.  And “I Don’t Mind” has a terrific melody even without the harmonies, but when they come in it’s even better.

They describe “Sweet Dreams” as like a lullaby that they used to say to their mom ” Sweet dreams, I love you, good night.”  But this song is anything but a lullaby.  The melody is sophisticated and their voices are powerful.  It’s quite something,.

They have time for two more.  We’ll sing one from our old record and…maybe our single.  That single, “White Flag” finds a stellar balance of pop and folk.  It hits just the right edges of pop to make the song insanely catchy but with an almost aggressive folksiness that is undeniable.  And live it’s almost breathtaking.

Their voices are just amazing.

[READ: June 20, 2017] “I Have Fallen in Love with American Names”

Earlier this month I posted a piece from Roth about names.  I assume that this excerpt comes from the same source.

Roth’s parents were born in New Jersey at the start of the twentieth century.  They were at home in America even though “they had no delusions and knew themselves to be socially stigmatized and regarded as repellent alien outsiders.”  And that is the culture that Philip grew up in.

Butt the writers who shaped his sense of country were born in America some thirty to sixty years before him.  They were mostly small town Midwesterners and Southerners.  None were Jews.

What shaped those writers was not mass immigration from the Old Country and the threat of anti-Semetic violence, but the overtaking of farms and villages  values by business culture.

He says what attracted him to writers like Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, Ring Lardner, Sinclair Lewis, Thomas Wolfe and Erskine Caldwell was his own ignorance of everything North South and West of Newark, New Jersey.  And the way that America from 1941 to 1945 was unified: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MAGGIE ROGERS-Tiny Desk Concert #641 (August 7, 2017).

I had been hearing Maggie Rogers’ name on WXPN and have liked “Alaska” which they’ve been playing.  But I didn’t know much else about her.

But reading the blurb reminded me of where I had initially heard of her:

Maggie Rogers became a viral star on the strength of a video in which Pharrell Williams raves about a demo of what’s become her signature song, “Alaska.” Since then, Rogers has signed a label deal, toured extensively and released a sweetly approachable, inventively arranged EP called Now That The Light Is Fading.

For her Tiny Desk debut, Rogers performed all three of the EP’s best-known songs, opening with the recent singles “On + Off” and “Dog Years,” the latter of which she calls “a song for all the pups.” Then, after dismissing her band, she treated us to a few warm words about public radio before introducing “Alaska.”

Maggie has an interesting voice that sounds similar to someone (it’ll come to me), but with a slight country twang.  It seems like she could easily fall into the country umbrella but her songwriting goes in a slightly different direction.  (I’m also astonished that she looks to be about 18).

She plays three songs (there are 5 on her EP),

“On+Off” starts with a piano intro and Maggie singing. When the middle section kicks in and she plays guitar there a much louder sound. It’s quite catchy.  I really like the delivery of the “Ooohs” that she adds.  There’s something about the way she does it that sounds very cool.

“Dog Years” is a slower, slightly more country-sounding song, but again the “ooohs” won me over.  This time the ooohs are harmonized by her band and it sounds even better.  She also demonstrated some wonderful high notes.

Her band leaves for the final song which she starts by telling everyone that “public radio has been a part of her musical discovery–since she used an NPR compilation to DJ her middle school recess.”  She’s very sweet.

Th final song is “Alaska” which she says is a song about coming back into your body.  It has a really pretty chorus–once again, her voice soaring to lovely high notes.  I prefer the recorded version to this solo version, but she sounds great by herself as well.

[READ: June 27, 2017] “Crossing the River No Name”

I was a little concerned about this story because it was set in Khost, Afghanistan and I thought it was going to be an intense war story–and war stories, like sports stories, pretty much end one of two ways.

So it begins on a rainy night in March 2009.  The narrator and his patrol are sent to interrupt a group of Taliban.  They reached a river and Hal, the leader, called on the best swimmers to swim across and set up the guide rope.  They made it across and secured the line.  The rest of the patrol got across but when it was the narrator and Hals’ turn they hit trouble.

Hal was afraid of the water.  He’d joined the Navy to get over that fear and it worked.  Most of the time.  He knew of one other example when Hal had had a brief freak out.  But this was the second one.  The river grew darker and they were pulled under. (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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