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Archive for the ‘18th Century’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: STELLA DONNELLY-Tiny Desk Concert #819 (January 22, 2019).

Stella Donnelly has been generating some buzz lately, but I wasn’t familiar with her.  I didn’t even realize she was Australian.

She is adorable with her hair in two little nubs at the back of her head and a big smile most of the time.

She immediately won the office over with her broad smile, warmth and good-natured sense of humor. It’s the kind of easy-going, open-hearted spirit that makes her one of the most affable live performers you’ll see. While there’s no doubting her sincerity, she’s also got a disarming way of making her often dark and brutal songs a little easier to take in.

And indeed, she does not mince words when she sings.

“Beware of the Dogs” is a delicate song with Stella strumming her guitar with no pick and singing in a beautiful but soft voice.  There’s such a gorgeous melody for the chorus.

It turns out that this song and the other two are new.  Because she doesn’t even have an album out yet!

For this set, she performed entirely new — and, as of this writing, unreleased — songs from her upcoming full-length debut, Beware of the Dogs. Opening with the title cut, Donnelly smiled cheerfully through the entire performance while reflecting on the horrors that often lurk beneath the surface of seemingly idyllic lives. “This street is haunted like a beast that doesn’t know its face is frightening to behold,” she sings. “All the painted little gnomes, smiling in a line, trying to get your vote.”

As the song builds she gets more pointed:  “There’s no Parliament / Worthy of this country’s side / All these pious fucks / taking from the 99.”

She follows with “U Owe Me” which is “about my old boss at  a pub I used to work at back home.”

This song has a gentle guitar melody and some surprisingly soft vocals (including some vibrato at the end of each verse).   But the lyrics are straightforward and pointed (all sung with that disarming smile)

you put your great ideas up your nose /
and then try to tell me where the fuck to go /
you’re jerking off to the cctv /
while I’m pouring plastic pints of flat VB [or Foster’s or whatever].

At the end of the song she says, “He actually paid me a week after.  I was on the wrong week of my payroll.  It was very dramatic back then.”

She says “Allergies” is a run-of-the-mill breakup song.   “I’ve only got two of them and this is one of them.”  It’s a delicate, quiet song (capo on the tenth fret!) and once again, her voice is just lovely.

How can this Concert be only ten minutes long? I could listen to her all day.

Surprisingly, Donnelly chose not to play any of the songs that have gotten her to where she is in her young career — songs like 2017’s “Boys Will Be Boys” or last year’s “Talking,” two savagely frank examinations of misogyny and violence that earned her the reputation for being a fearless and uncompromising songwriter. But the new material demonstrates that her unflinching perspective and potent voice is only getting stronger.

I’m bummed that I am busy the night she’s playing a small club in Philly, as it might just be the last time she plays such a small venue.

[READ: January 26, 2019] Brazen

This is an awesome collection of short biographies of kick-ass women.  Bagieu has written [translated by Montana Kane] and drawn in her wonderful style, brief, sometimes funny (occasionally there’s nothing funny), always inspiring stories about women who spoke up for themselves and for others.  Some of the women were familiar to me, some were not.  A few were from a long time ago, but many are still alive and fighting.  And what was most cool is that the stories of the women I knew about had details and fascinating elements that I was not previously aware of.

What a great, great book.  It’s perfect for Middle School students all the way to adults.  I actually thought it might be perfect for fourth and fifth grade girls to read and be inspired by.  However, it skews a little bit older.  There’s a few mentions of sex, abortion, rape and domestic violence.  These are all real and important issues, but may be too much for younger kids.

Bagieu’s art for most of the pages is very simple–perfectly befitting a kind of documentary style but after each story she creates a two page spread that is just a breathtaking wash of colors which summarizes the previews story in one glorious image.  Its terrific. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: August 2018] The Sixty-Eight Rooms

Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell

I didn’t know this story, nor did I know anything about the Thorne rooms before our trip to Chicago last summer.

So the Thorne Rooms are, well, I’ll let the Art Institute of Chicago’s website describe them:

The 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms enable one to glimpse elements of European interiors from the late 13th century to the 1930s and American furnishings from the 17th century to the 1930s. Painstakingly constructed on a scale of one inch to one foot, these fascinating models were conceived by Mrs. James Ward Thorne of Chicago and constructed between 1932 and 1940 by master craftsmen according to her specifications.

Read more about them and see pictures here.  That description doesn’t really do justice to the rooms themselves.

They are really magical in the way that they fully represent a room from a specific time and place.  The floor, ceilings, walls and furniture all meet exacting standard of detail.  And what makes them somehow even more special is that each room shows rooms out of the side and back doors.  These are lit (and show a painted facade) that indicates what is just beyond the walls of the room you are looking at.  It really adds a lot of depth and character to a scene.

Seeing them in person was really wonderful.

T. and I had started listening to this book before we left for Chicago, but we decided to wait until our trip to save it for the whole family.  Then we wound up not listening to it until the home, after we had seen the rooms.  And I feel like that made it all the more special. Because I could see exactly what the kids were doing in this fun and bizarre adventure. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KING CRIMSON-The Elements Of King Crimson – 2014 Tour Box (2014).

When King Crimson reunited in 2013, they prepared to tour as a seven piece behemoth the following year.  There would be three drummers, two guitarists, bass and horns.

And they were totally reinvigorated.

To celebrate this tour, Fripp and his minions created this Elements Tour Box, a 2 -disc set dedicated to displaying the elements that made up the band from the beginning until now.  It was made up of alternate takes, excerpt (lots of excerpts), live recordings and rehearsals from the entirety of the Crimson canon, including some of the 2014 shows.

It is a treasure trove for Crimson fanatics.  But it is also an excellent resource for anyone looking to explore the Crimson underworld without buying $150 boxsets.

The discs follow a vaguely chronological overview, starting in 1969 and moving on through 2008.  But there are 2014 takes of old songs thrown in as well–some sound better than others, but overall the quality is quite good.

The first disc covers 1969-1974.  It opens with
“Wind Extract,” which is the sound of Fripp’s mellotron being turned on back in 1969.
“I Talk To The Wind” is an instrumental version of the second song on ITCOTCK.  Purists will be able to tell how many things are different between this version and the actually-released product, but in a nutshell, this is the album version with no vocals.  It’s really interesting to focus just on the music and not the words for a change.  The song is quite pretty, with lots of flute.

“Cadence and Cascade” is from In the Wake of Poseidon and no one involved in the recording remembered Greg Lake singing a version of it.  Guest vocalist Gordon Haskell sang the album version.  Then someone recently found this “guide vocal” version of Lake singing it for apparently the first and only time.

The boxes often contain brief excerpts like this one–fifteen seconds of Fripp’s classical sounding guitars from “Cirkus.”  This is kind of an acoustic bridge before we hear the full song recorded in 1971 on the Lizard tour.  This song in particular sounds very dated live and the middle “circus sounds” sections are 70s crazy.
“Hoodoo (extract)” is a 2014 rehearsal that’s all of 20 seconds which segues into a raucous recording of Fripp playing a wild guitar solo for “Sailor’s Tale.”  It’s wild and really shows Fripp throwing everything he can at the song.
“The Talking Drum” is an early alternate mix which sounds great to me.  It gets really crazy by the end.

The “Lark’s Tongues in Aspect I” excerpt is from 2014 and is just Mel’s flute for 2 minutes.  It’s followed by a 1972 extract that’s just violin and dulcimer and harp.

This turns into a great new mix of the 11 minute “Fracture.”
After a minute of gorgeous harmonics by Fripp from “Fallen Angel,” we get a full, gorgeous 6-minute instrumental version of the song.  Because Crimson songs are so complicated and so carefully constructed, they are one of the few bands whose songs can have lyrics removed without them falling flat.
There’s a weird-sounding version of “21st Century Schizoid Man” from 1974, which sounds so very mid-70s in the recording style.  It seems somewhat slapdash compared to the utter tightness of the 2014 band.  The disc ends with Mark Charig’s cornet recording for the end of “Starless.”  On the proper release they use Mel Collin’s saxophone, but the cornet sounds delightful.

Disc two covers 1981-2008.

  This is pretty much the Adrian Belew era.  Belew was not invited back for the new incarnation, so that’s a little awkward.

It begins with an alternate take of the instrumental “Discipline.”  After a 45 second drum intermission, there’s a track called “Manhattan (Neurotica)” which is an instrumental version of “Neurotica.”  I love that the opening guitar sounds like sirens and car horns.
A minute and a half of the middle of “Neal and Jack and Me” is followed by the Steven Wilson mix of “Sleepless (Bearsville)” with an incredibly 80’s sounding slap bass from Tony Levin.

Then there’s a recording session of “Sex, Sleep, Eat, Drink, Dream.”  We hear lots of stops and starts, bass only, guitar parts and someone repeating “this is tough, tough shit.”
There’s a live version of “THRAK” followed by a minute of Fripp soloing around “Larks Tongue” called “Venturing Into Joy.”

This is followed by two tracks from Fripp’s side ProjeKcts,  “The Deception of the Thrush” is performed live by ProjeKct Four in 1998 with big thumping almost splatting-sounding drums.  Then there’s a trippy and ambient early version of “Heaven & Earth” by ProjeKct X.

After a scorching “Level Five” from 2008, there’s a minute long drum solo which would ultimately morph more fully into “The Hell-Hounds of Krim” and then two tracks from A Scarcity of Miracles.  “Separation” is an edited version of the bonus track (the disc label calls it something else).  And there’s an alternate take of “A Scarcity Of Miracles”–still long and a little too jazz-lite for me.

This is a really solid collection of all eras and styles of Crimson.  And it also showcases the various parts coming together.  A great production all along.

[READ: January 19, 2018] Monsters of the Ivy League

This book collects a series of Ivy League graduates and puts them in context with a they have a lot of support for all of their declarations.  Each entry gives a brief (biased) biography that highlights their flaws, outrages and downright unforgivable behavior.

So, rather than rewrite summaries of these assholes, I’ll present a grid with the shortcut (and some choice tidbits).  You can find the book and read the details for why our Ivy leagues have bred so many shitheads, including current miscreants:

Samuel Alito, Ben Carson, Ann Coulter, Ted Cruz, Laura Ingraham, Henry Kissinger, Dr. Oz, trump, and many more.

The introduction says that the term Ivy League refers to a bunch of football teams. (That’s why it says “league”).  The League was formed in 1954 to formalize the sporting relationship between eight teams: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Univ of Penn, Princeton and Yale.

Of course, no one goes to these schools for sports, they go to find the best future contacts for your budding careers.

But read this book and remember:

An ivy education doesn’t force you to become a hideous person, but it doesn’t necessarily prevent it, either.

What follows is a smart-shopper warning to those applying, a count-your-blessings consolation to those who have been rejected and a watch-your-back caution to those already attending.

(more…)

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klosetrSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICSFall Nationals The Horseshoe Tavern Toronto, ON. Night 1 of 13 (November 10, 2003).

This was the 1st night of their 13 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.  Rheostatics Live has recordings of nights 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7.

 The sound quality of this show is great, although it’s quite disconcerting how quiet it is between songs—must be soundboard with no audience pick up at all.

Dave chats with the crowd of course: “Always exciting on opening night—a tingle in the air.  We’re basking in the glow of David Miller’s victory tonight even if he doesn’t know the words to “Born to Run.”

David Raymond Miller is the president and CEO of WWF-Canada, the Canadian division of the international World Wildlife Fund. A former politician, Miller was the 63rd Mayor of Toronto from 2003 to 2010. He entered politics as a member of the New Democratic Party, although his mayoral campaign and terms in office were without any formal party affiliation. He did not renew his party membership in 2007.  After declining poll numbers, Miller announced on September 25, 2009, that he would not seek a third term as mayor in the 2010 election, citing family reasons.  He was replaced by Rob frickin Ford.

They play a lot of songs from their not yet released album (not until 2004, in fact) 2067.

They open with “The Tarleks” which is follows by 2001’s “Song of the Garden” and then back to 2067 with “I Dig Music.”  The new songs sound similar to the release but perhaps the words might not be solidified yet—there’s also no “too fucking bad” in “I Dig Music.”

Tim’s “In It Now” comes next with that cool opening riff.   It segues into one of my favorite Tim-sung songs “Marginalized” also from 2067.  I love the drums, the guitar riff, everything about it—although they are off-key as they start.

Dave says, “We’re surprising ourselves a little by playing new stuff.   But when Martin asks for requests and people say “Saskatchewan” Martin starts playing it (see, the squeaky wheel…).

“Fan letter for Ozzy Osbourne” (also from 2067)  it sounds a bit more spare and sad (with no wailing vocal at the end).  It’s followed by “a very old song we wrote in 1989, I think, but it still applies on this special occasion.”  He says it’s called “You can’t go back to Woodstock baby you were just 2 years old you, you weren’t even born.”

There’s a quiet “In This Town” that’s followed by a lengthy “When Winter Comes.”  This song features a remarkably pedestrian guitar solo (sloppy and very un-Martin like).

Dave says they were recording audio commentary from a show two years ago (for what?  is this available somewhere?).  He says that night wasn’t a very good patter night.  Good music night, though.

Tim says, “So we overdubbed good stage banter. … Till I sparked up a fattie and giggled like a moron.”
Martin: “till you sparked up a fattie and the ridiculousness of the situation became glaringly apparent.”
Dave: “Martin I can’t believe you just said ‘sparked up a fattie.'”
Martin: “The times they are a-changing.”

Martin introduces “Aliens” by saying “This would be a b-minor chord.  The whole thing seems a little weird–Martin does some odd voices and weird guitar noises—it almost sounds out of tune or like it’s just the wrong guitar.

Back to a new song with “Polar Bears and Trees” and they have fun chanting the “hey hey ho ho” section.

Dave calms things down with some details: We got some stuff planned over the next 13 days. Lucky 13.  Thursday there’s going to be 25 guest vocalists.  We’re gonna mail it in, basically.  And then on Saturday we have “Tim Vebron and the Rheostars.”  According to a review, this “band” is a goof: “Martin was wearing a lei and suspenders, MPW looked like an extra from THX1138.”   You can also get a pass to all 13 shows for $75.  For some good old live live Canadian shield rock.

Dave asks, “Tim did you get a contact high during aliens?  Some wise acre lit a marijuana cigarette.”  Tim:  “It’s just kicking in now.  I’m hungry.”

“PIN” sound great although in “Legal Age Life,” the sound drops out at 58 seconds and comes back on at 1:35.  During the song, Dave shouts G and they shift to “Crocodile Rock.”  It kind of clunkily falls back in to “LAL,” but it’s fun to see them jamming and exploring a bit.

Dave says “Crocodile Rock” was a very complicate dance, but it didn’t catch on.  I think the dance involved implements didn’t it. Tongs?”

“Stolen Car” starts quietly but builds and builds to a noisy climactic guitar solo.  Its pretty exciting.

During the encore break there’s repeated chants for “Horses.  Horses.”

You can hear Dave say, “‘Soul Glue?’ We’re not going to do that tonight, we’re going to say it for a special occasion.”  The audience member shouts, “the hell with you.” Dave: “Ok, bye. Yes I am going to hell.”

What song do you think cleans the palate for the song to come after it—A sherbet?

There’s some amusing commentary between Dace and the audience.  And then a little more local politics: “Did you think that was good speech by David Miller?  I didn’t. I don’t want to be a bad guy coz it’s his night but…”  Then Dave imagines a “David Miller ascension-to-power film starring Ed Begley Jr.”

The encore includes a rollicking “Satan is the Whistler” followed by a solid cover of The Clash’s “London Calling.”  Tim’s a little sloppy on the bass, but the guitar sound is perfect and Dave’s got the vocal sound just right.  As they leave you can still here that guy calling for “Horses.”

[READ: July 1, 2016] What If We’re Wrong?

I have enjoyed a lot of the essays I’ve read by Klosterman.  But I’ve never read one of his books before.  I saw him on Seth Meyers one night and this book sounded cool.  And then I saw it at work, so I grabbed it .

Klosterman is clever and funny and this book is clever and funny.  Although I found it a little long–every section of the book felt like it could have been shorter and it wouldn’t have lost any impact.  However, I loved the premise and I loved all of the examples.  I just got a little tired of each section before it ended.

So what is this book (with the upside down cover) about?  Well, as the blurb says, our cultural is pretty causally certain about things.  No matter how many times we are wrong, we know exactly how things are going to go. Until they do not go that way any more.  “What once seemed inevitable eventually becomes absurd.”  So what will people think of 2015/16 in 100 years?  And while some things seem like they may be obvious about how tastes change, he also wonders if our ideas about gravity will change.

This came out before the horrors of the 2016 election and I read it before them, so the whole premise of the book is even more magnified. (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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overpoSOUNDTRACK: J. MASCIS-Tiny Desk Concert #406 (November 22, 2014).

mascisJ. Mascis is best known as a wailing guitarist who plays in front of a wall of speakers with Dinosaur Jr.  But for this Tiny Desk Concert he busts out an acoustic guitar and plays some songs from his solo album (as well as an old Dino classic).

“Stumble” is sung in Mascis’ delicate falsetto.  They zoom in on him singing and its amazing how he doesn’t seem to be straining in any way doing this really high voice.  After all the falsetto, his saying “Thanks” in a deep voice is really kind of funny.

For the second song, he busts out the classic “Little Fury Thing.”  This acoustic version sounds really good–so simple and clean.  The original is great burst of loud rocking and it’s amazing that the song can sound so good stripped down. His voice is much deeper for this song .  I love at the end how he plays the strings really really fast but continues to swing in his most languid style.

The third song is actually two songs.  He switches guitars (and is apparently using sheet music) to play “Drifter/Heal the Star.”  The first part is a lengthy, really pretty instrumental.  For all of Mascis’ noise and rocking out, he knows how to write beautiful, lovely melodies.  The main melody is played on the high strings alternating some great strumming on the low strings for the “chorus.”   I could listen to this for ages.

The song segues into “Heal the Star” which sounds very Mascis–his most Mascis voice and strumming style.  Although for the chorus he’s back to the falsetto vocals again.  The solo a the end is great as he plays chords on the lowers strings while soloing ion the high strings (there must be a different tuning to make this sound so good).

I saw Dinosaur Jr a couple of months ago and I’m going to see them in November again.  I love Mascis’ loudness, but it’s wonderful to hear him play these quiet pieces too.

[READ: April 1, 2016] Overpowered!

I loved the premise of this book right from the start.  I mean, the cover alone is great, and flipping through it, there are some wonderful images of men with great mustaches in turbans doing all manner of hypnosis to people.  What I didn’t expect (but probably should have if I’d read his bio on the back) is that Green himself is a practicing hypnotherapist (in addition to being an actor and performer who has created such characters as “US Country music star Tina C and pensioner rap star Ida Barr.”

It turns out that Green has been interested in hypnosis for a long time.  He learned how to do it and then wanted to set the record straight for what hypnosis actually is as opposed to what we believe it is.

So this proves to be a thorough (and very funny) history of hypnosis through the years.   He says the book is called “Overpowered” because “I’m fascinated by the delight human beings derive from the idea of being taken over.  Being conscious may be beneficial, but it is also hard work.” (more…)

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naughty SOUNDTRACK: GEM CLUB-Tiny Desk Concert #181 (December 16, 2011).

gem clubGem Club is a quiet band.  During this set there are three members:  Christopher Barnes on keyboards and lead vocals, cellist Kristen Drymala and vocalist Ieva Berberian (who is eerily silent and still for much of the performance).

The first song, “Animal” features Barnes on keyboards, playing a simple melody and Drymala, playing a low and loud cello to accompany (when her first note comes in, it’s really striking).  She also sings a wonderful harmony vocal.  Barnes’ voice is almost a whisper, but between his voice and the vibrato on the keys, it sounds really big (but still quiet).  I really enjoyed the way the only “melody” she played on cello was at the very end of the song–a brief riff to signal the end.

“Breakers” opens with some rough cello playing and then a gentle echoed keyboard.  Ieva Berberian didn’t do anything in the first song, she just hovered mysteriously in the background. But for the second song she hits occasional tambourine notes (which sound practically like explosions amid the delicate echoing keyboards).  Perhaps the most interesting part of the song is watching Drymala tap on some  colorful bells with her foot to create a lovely melody.

For the final song, “252” Barnes says it is kind of a beast, (although it doesn’t sound any more complex than the previous two to me).  The piano is echoed and Ieva Berberian finally sings backing vocals.  Her voice is a little haunting and it works very nicely with Barnes’ voice.  The melody is beautiful.

Incidentally, the blurb says that this is the first time they’ve amplified a singer’s voice (they ran his voice through a chorus pedal to give it that otherworldly echo).  I have been listening to a lot of loud music lately, and this was a perfect counterpoint.

[READ: December 20, 2015] History’s Naughty Bits

This is the kind of book that promises to be very funny.  And then it turns out to be mostly funny but also rather scholarly.  Which is not bad thing, it’s just not as raucous as one might have imagined.

Dolby begins by dismissing the idea that “naughty” things are a recent invention and then proceeds to go through the history of human culture to show examples of things that would certainly be considered naughty today (some are quite shocking).

She starts with Classical Greece where women were expected to remain chaste, except for hetairai, high-class courtesans, who were well-educated and respected.  That’s some choice.  Adultery was considered less of a sin if was committed with a prostitute. (more…)

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fairytaleSOUNDTRACK: JOE BOYD AND ROBYN HITCHCOCK-“Tiny Desk Concert #142 (July 18, 2011).

robynThis is one of the more unusual Tiny Desk Concerts because it is not just music.  It is music and a recitation.  Joe Boyd (who I didn’t know) is a producer of many classic 1970s albums, including albums by Pink Floyd, Syd Barret and Nick Drake.  Robyn Hitchcock is an unusual and often funny singer songwriter.

Hitchcock opens the concert by stating (in his wonderfully British broadcaster’s voice) “All my life I’ve been Robyn Hitchock [and I’m here with] Joe Boyd who has been Joe Boyd even longer than I’ve been me.”

Joe and Robyn were doing a tour together in which Joe would talk about his experiences with these artists and then Robyn would play a representative song.

Robyn plays two songs.  The first is Syd Barrett’s “Terrapin,” a song I’ve always like.  His cover sounds a lot like Barrett’s version while still retaining Hitchcock’s distinctive singing quality.

The second song is one that Hitchcock wrote for the tour called “I Saw Nick Drake.”  It was planned as the first encore. It’s very much a Hitchcock song, a little trippy and strangely  catchy about him seeing Nick Drake and Nick being fine.

Between these songs, Boyd talks for about fifteen minutes, telling about working with Syd and how amazing he was…until he wasn’t.  And then about working with Nick and how every recording he did was perfect and how big his hands were.

If you care about either of these musicians or about British rock from that era, this is a great performance to check out.  It’s informative and a little funny too.

[READ: January 19, 2016] Fairy Tale Comics

This book follows on First Second’s Nursery Rhyme Comics book. Perhaps because this was a thinner volume or perhaps because Fairy Tales are a bit more substantive than Nursery Rhymes, I found this book even more enjoyable than the other.

And even though I (and possibly you) think that you know every a fairy tale, there were quite a few in here that I didn’t know.  In his editors note, Chris Duffy notes that he encouraged the artists to pick stories other than Grimms (although Grim is well represented).

Brothers Grimm stories include:

“Sweet Porridge,” which I’d never heard of.  This is done in a classic cartoon style by Bobby London.

“The 12 Dancing Princesses” seemed vaguely familiar.  This was done in a very pretty style by Emily Carroll.

“Hansel and Gretel” I did know, of course.  It’s fun to see Gilbert Hernandez doing a children’s story since I think of his stories as very adult.  But his simple drawing style works perfectly for this story.

“Little Red Riding Hood” has a very simple almost anime style from Gigi D.G.  It ends with a happy ending.

“Snow White” was done by the other Hernandez brother, Jaime.  His style is so peculiar and yet so perfect for this tale (the fact that the baby is actually white is a wonderful touch.

“Rumpelstiltskin” is done by Brett Helquist whom I know from the Lemon Snicket stories.  I can see his style a bit in these drawings but the colors really bring his interesting style to life.  It’s a great version.

“Rapunzel”  I have recently become a huge fan of Raina Telgemeier, and I love what she does with this story.  Although as I finished it I had to wonder if this is how the story is usually finished.  This seemed much more positive than what I imagine the Grimms intended.

“Bremen Town” I had never heard of this story.  And I can’t believe that this was how it was originally written. In this story a group of animals forms a band.  They frighten away bad guys so that they can jam.  How weird.  Karl Kerschl’s style suits it well.

“Give Me the Shudders” is another Grimm story that I had never heard of.  It’s about a boy who can’t shudder or shiver and so every one assumes he is fearless. He keeps asking people to teach him to shiver, but when they see he can’t they keep promoting him to better stations in life. David Mazzucchelli’s style works nicely with this because of the simplicity of his design amid the craziness of the story.

In addition to stories from Grimm, there are these fairy tales

From Charles Perrault:

“Puss in Boots” makes me wonder if I don’t know the story all that well.  I was quite intrigued by the way this one turned out.  Vanessa Davis has a kind of sloppy style.

From 1001 Nights Tales:

“The Prince and the Tortoise.” I had never heard of this story.  It’s pretty wild and weird.  The drawing style by Ramona Fradon reminds me of adventure comics from the Sunday papers.

From a Japanese Tale:

“The Boy Who Drew Cats” is a wonderfully cool and interesting story about the powers of fantasy and doing what you are meant to do.  Luke Pearson’s drawing is perfectly old school and nearly monochromatic for the Japanese landscape.

From Bre’r Rabbit”

“Rabbit Will Not Help”  I don’t know this tale but I do know some Bre’r Rabbit.  He’s such a bastard, and the drawing style by Joseph Lambert works nicely with that.  It’s a little weird and dark–perfect for this tale.

From an English Tale”

“The Small Tooth Dog”  I had never heard of this tale.  It’s pretty weird from start to finish, and that includes the art by Charise Mericle Harper whose style is very dramatically cartoony and also a little weird.

“Goldilocks and the Three Bears” I didn’t realize that this wasn’t a Grimm story.  This was my favorite in the book because of the way Graham Annable chose to do it.  There are no words just wonderful illustrations and great looks by both Goldilocks and the bears.  I suppose it helps if you know the story already–it may not be ideal for those who are seeing for the first time (whoever that may be) but as an interpretation, I loved it,

From the Russian Tale:

“Baba Yaga”  Russian Tales are always so dark.  And Jillian Tamaki represents this very well. This story has a house with chicken legs, wolves, talking cats and much more.  I really like Tamaki’s work a lot and I enjoyed her interpretation.

From The King and His Storyteller:

“Azzolino’s Story Without End” is another story I’d never heard of.  In it, a boy king wants to be told a story without an end.  And the king’s story-teller think of a great way to do it The story is short but Craig Thompson’s style is right on.

I really enjoyed this collection a lot.  And I love getting introduced and reintroduced to these stories that I’ve known for quite some time.

Thanks First Second. #10yearsof01

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neuroSOUNDTRACK: CHVRCHES-Tiny Desk Concert #356 (May 12, 2014).

chvChvrches are just on this side of the kind of synth pop that I like.  I simply can’t deny the awesomely catchiness of “Recover” which must be due to Lauren Mayberry’s wonderful voice, or perhaps the bubbly synth sounds that the three of them generate.  In this Tiny Desk version, they brought all kinds of synths along with them.  I don’t know what they normally play live, but this is an amusing sight to see 4 keyboards (for three players)—all of the musicians with their arms hanging down as they play their instruments (synths that are about a foot long and boxes with lots and lots of dials).

“Gun” is a darker sounding song, but again Mayberry’s voice is so clear it cuts through the dark sounds.

I enjoyed that before they played “The Mother We Share” she asked if she could curse.  NPR says yes and she says good for them.  (There is a parental advisory for that one curse word too).  She also says this is the nicest but oddest gig that they have played.  She is charming and it just makes me like them even more.

[READ: June 3, 2014] Neurocomic

First I saw the name of the publisher–Nobrow Press–then I saw the name of the graphic novel–“Neurocomic” and I imagined some sort of sci-fi riff on Gibson’s Neuromancer.  Then I saw that both authors were doctors and I thought that it was going to be some kind of science book.  But the cover has a drawing of a brain and a squid and some other kind of creature and from there I just decided I had better see what this was.

So, this actually proves to be a very basic history of neuroscience.  With a plot.

As the story opens our hero, a rather generic looking fellow, is walking along a landscape when he sees a woman (presumably beautiful) with whom he seems to fall in love.  He is suddenly sucked into someone’s brain and then onto a forest floor.  He is confused and upset and has to find a way out.

Welcome to chapter 1: Morphology.  Our hero learns he is not in a forest, he is in a brain and those trees are neurons.  And he has run into Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852-1934) and Camillo Golgi (1843-1926).  They explain to our guy about neurons and axons, but really he just wants out.  So they tell him to enter a neuron and on we go… (more…)

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wallsSOUNDTRACK: PHISH-Round Room (2002).

round After Farmhouse, Phish went on a hiatus.  No one knew it would be quite so brief, but there was really a feeling that they were done.

And then they quietly released Round Room in 2002.  And it bursts forth with an 11 minute song.

“Pebbles and Marbles” has an interesting riff—complex and pretty.  And when I listened to it again recently I didn’t really quite recognize it.  But that’s because it’s nearly 12 minutes long and the really catchy part comes later in the song.  At around 5 minutes, the catchy chorus of “pebbles and marbles and things on my mind” announces itself.  And it is a good one.

“Anything but Me” is a pretty, mature song that is slow and piano heavy.  “Round Room” is a boppy little ditty (clearly a song written by Mike).  It is sweet and a little weird.  “Mexican Cousin” sounds a lot like a cover (maybe an old song by The Band) except for the solo which is very Trey.  It’s a funny, silly ode to Tequila.  “Friday” is a slow six minute song with two sections.  The verses are spaced out a bit, delicate riffs that are mostly piano once again.  The middle section is sung by Mike (which makes it more mellow somehow).

“Seven Below” is an 8 minute song.  It has another great riff (and the intro music is cool and bouncey).  When the vocals come in, it’s got gentle harmonies as they croon the sweet song).  Most of the 8 minutes are taking up with a guitar solo.  “Mock Song” is another of Mike’s songs.  This one seems to be a random selection of items sung to a nice melody.  Then when the chorus comes it’s quite nice, how this is a “just a mock song.”  The first verse is sung by Mike, then Trey does a kind of fugue vocal with different words in verse two.

“46 Days” opens with funky cowbells and turns into what seems like a classic rocking folk song—few words but a great classic rock melody (complete with 70s era keyboards).  “All of These Dreams” is a mellow piano piece, another mature song.  “Walls of the Cave” has an interesting piano melody that opens the song. The song is nearly ten minutes long and the middle part has a nice flowing feel to it.  There’s also a few sections that are separated be drum breaks—something that doesn’t often happen in Phish songs.  When the third part opens (to almost exclusively percussion, their vocals all work in a very nice harmony.  It’s a long song but with so many parts it always stays interesting.  “Thunderhead” is another piano-based song with some guitar riffs thrown on top. But it is largely a slow, mellow piece.

“Waves” is an 11 minute song with long instrumental passages.  It also begins with a kind of Santana feel to it, but it is a largely meandering song, with a simple melody that they stretch out for much of the song.  So this album proves to be an interesting mix of long jams and mellow ballady type songs.  It seems like Phish had a big mix of things to let loose.

[READ: November 1, 2013] If Walls Could Talk

This book reminds me of the work of Mary Roach—exploring a topic in great detail and including lots of amusing insights.  The two big differences here are that Worsley is British and that she goes back very far in British history to give us this fascinating information about the development of certain rooms of the house.

Worsley begins with the bedroom.  She looks at the furniture—the history of the bed from lumps with straw to fantastically ornate full poster beds that were made for kings who might never actually use them.

Then she moves on to more personal matters—sex (including deviant sex and venereal disease); breast feeding (for centuries mothers felt they were not equipped to take care of and nurse their own children, hence wet-nurses) and knickers (royalty had an entourage designed specifically to assist with underthings).  Indeed, privacy was an unknown thing in olden times.  Even royalty was expected to receive people in all of the rooms in the house.  Initially the bed chamber was for their most intimate friends, not just for sleeping.

The section on old medicine was also fascinating, they believed that it was vaporous miasma that did you more harm than say, excrement-filled water.

The section on Sleep discusses what was also in a recent article by Gideon Lewis-Kraus—that there were two sleep times at night.  With no electricity there was no artificial light to keep people up late so they would go to sleep early, wake up in the middle of the night (the best time for conception of children) and then sleep again. (more…)

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