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Archive for the ‘Jude Watson’ Category

39SOUNDTRACK: SHABAZZ PALACES-“#Cake” (2014).

cakeI don’t know much about Shabazz Palaces, although I understand their debut was pretty popular in alternative circles (they were the first rap band released on Sub Pop).  This new song is from their new (also Sub Pop) album and I think it’s really weird and quite wonderful.

There’s a loping bass line echoey and almost spacey.  There’s rapped echoey fast words all over the palce (I’m having my cake and I’m eating cake–“eating cake” seems to be the refrain).  It’s all very spacey and weird.  And then at around 1:45 a whole new sound emerges out of static, as if a jazz radio station was tuned in and someone like Nina Simone begins singing a very standard-sounding jazz song.  What?  And after about 15 seconds it drifts out and the song returns to normal.

Around 2:48 a new style of song drifts in, also kind of early jazz (but a different song with lyrics, “let it waver why not savor the flavor”), but this time a bit more faint with twinkly sounds played over the top.

When the song return, there is a list of cities rapped over a more string heavy riff (but that same bassline).  It’s pretty darn weird.  It all reminds me of the way Kanye West introduced such weird elemnst on his Yeezus album.  This is less aggressive but no less unexpected.

I really have no idea what this song is actually about, but I really enjoy listening to it, and I want to explore Shabazz Palaces a bit more.

[READ: July 26, 2014] Nowhere to Run

There’s something about the first book in 39 Clues series that is just so good.  Although I did enjoy the end of Cahills vs Vespers, the end was nowhere near as exciting as the beginning of this book.

It is six months after the events of the last series.  Dan and Amy are not in any way over the deaths of their friends and family.  But they feel that the end of the Vespers leadership must give them some peace and quiet.  And things are starting to get back to normal.  (The awesome) Nellie is back with them, cooking and being generally cool.  But there is one last detail that they must attend to: the funeral of their lawyer, Mac.  He too was killed six months earlier, but they have just gotten around to dealing with the funeral (he was cremated).

But at the funeral, they are attacked by some really tough, like really tough guys.  Uncannily tough in fact.  And as they flee the cemetery a group of paparazzi comes into the cemetary looking to take pictures of the Cahill kids. And soon enough, their photos are posted all over the internet with crazy untruths said about them–that they are spoiled rich kids looking for thrills.  What the heck is going on?

Well, it turns out that J. Rutherford Pierce has found a bit of the serum that Dan was creating.  And unlike the dose that Isabel took, he seems to have tinkered with it just enough to make him superhuman but not freakish.  Pierce has been mostly an also ran–a failure at many businesses, and a failure at much more.  But since taking the serum, he has had many successes, including taking over a media empire (hence the headlines) and making ton of money.  And he has it in for the Cahills. (more…)

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ransomSOUNDTRACK: BIZ MARKEE-“Pancakes and Syrup” (2012).

awesome4Never really sure what to make of Biz Markee, it is nevertheless very hard to resist this anthem to a delicious breakfast.

Biz has one verse (the last two lines rhyme tummy with yum yum yum yum yum yum yummy) with some actual lyrics (I like that he rhymed syrup with Europe).  And another verse which is basically him saying “eat em up” and “yummy” over and over.

But the real sell (as if that wasn’t enough) is the super catchy, utterly fun-to-sing-along-to chorus “Pancakes and Syrup…It’s breakfast time!”

You have to be pretty curmudgeonly to dislike this son , especially since it is only a minute and 16 seconds long.  Although I’m not sure why he seems so mad at the end….

[READ: May 6, 2014] A King’s Ransom

As I said, I was totally hooked by Book 1 of this new series and I started book two before the first one was even cold. I had to know what was going on!

Because the new task for Dan and Amy Cahill is to steal an ancient map that no one has seen for generations.  And there’s no clue as to where it might even be.  And if they don’t find it ion four days one of their kidnapped relatives will be killed.  Not to mention, they are being followed by Interpol and they have alienated Dan’s only friend.  And as the story starts, they learn that one of the new enemies that they knew about (Caspar Wyoming) has a twin sister, Cheyenne.  And she spends the first few chapters of the book spying on them.

It turns out that Cheyenne has been promoted to V-6 in the Vesper hierarchy (her brother was V-6 but he was dropped down and he is super angry that she overtook him).  And with Caspar angry at the Cahills and at V-1, who know just what he’ll do.

So Dan and Amy are on their way to Lucerne, Switzerland to find the de Virga World map which was created in 1411.  Their lead is an auction house where it was last seen–over fifty years ago.  This search leads to a history of Nazis and a woman (who turns out to be related to someone on their team) who fought the Nazis in her own way.  The auction house is a funny, chaotic scene–especially when a fax from Interpol comes in and shows their passport pictures. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TEGAN AND SARA-“Alligator” on CDC Kids’ Mamma Yamma (2010).

Tegan and Sara take a slightly different approach than the other artists on Mamma Yamma.  Rather than creating a new song, they took their hit “Alligator” and made new words for it (much like many artists have done on Sesame Street).

The melody is exactly the same (which is good, as it’s a really catchy song). But rather than being about a failed relationship, it’s about alligators.

Old lyrics: Run around on me, I’d sooner die without

New lyrics: Run around a tree, skip and jump about

It’s a cute version and the band sounds very good.

I really enjoy these introductions to interesting musicians on kids shows.  I wonder if kids actually like seeing grown up musicians like this.

You can watch it here:

[READ: April 20, 2012] Vespers Rising

I finished The 39 Clues series last year. Or so I thought!  After completing books 1-10, I found out that they were planning a whole new series.  And they began with this transitional book, which they called #11 and which was co-written by four of the prominent authors.

Vespers Rising is actually four short stories that trace the history of the Cahill family and their feud with the Vesper family.  The Vespers were not a part of the first series at all.  In the first series, the 39 Clues were a kind of Amazing Race for Cahill family members.  (I’ll get to some details about the family in a moment).  It was a kind of private race for the prize–which was a life-enhancing serum.  But this book introduces a new villain to the story and explains that the villain has been there all along, just lurking.

Rick Riordan wrote the first story in this book takes us back to the beginning.  In 1507, off the coast of Ireland, Gideon Cahill invented this serum.  He was and alchemist, seeking an antidote for the Black Death which was ravaging Europe.  He was working for Lord Damien Vesper, a man bent on power.  Vesper wasn’t interested in helping people with the Black Death–he had no real value for life–however, he was interested in the results that Gideon might discover. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKKids Corner on WXPN (2011).

Kids Corner is a great radio show on WXPN (88.5 Philadelphia).  It airs Sunday through Thursday night at 7PM.  It’s also available online (you can listen live at 7PM!).  In addition to some smart radio for kids (Science Thursday!), there’s quizzes and call in stuff and lots of music.

Most of the music is funny/novelty stuff.  From standard bearers like “Weird Al” Yankovic, to great bands like Trout Fishing in America, to the ancient novelty song “Star Trekkin” and my new favorite kids’ band The Amoeba People.

Every night they have a contest for song of the day, which anyone can vote in (democracy in action!).

Check out the last six years of Ton Ten songs (Steve Martin’s “King Tut!”).  And be sure to tune in, you just might just learn something.

[READ: March 2, 2011] Beyond the Grave

This fourth book in the series excited me because it broke with the format of the kids traveling to two cities with no help.  When they land in Egypt, they are greeted by an old friend (whom they never met before).   This old friend,  Hilary Vale, is actually a friend of their grandmother, Grace.  Grace went to Egypt every year and spent her time with Hilary, traveling, seeing the sights and, of course, looking for clues (although Hilary didn’t know any details of what Grace was up to).  Hilary (and her grandson, Theo) play a helping role in the book, and I have to say that it was nice to let the kids have a little breather with some people that they can trust.

They also get to go to a super fancy hotel room (using Alasdair Oh’s frequent number card).  Of course, as is the way with cool spy stories, the super fancy hotel turns out to be the stronghold for the branch of the Cahill family that Alasitar Oh is part of (I still can’t keep those branch names straight).  They pretty easily access the super spy area of super cool hotel suite.  (Because they have Alastair’s card, they are given the fancy suite).  Of course, once they are in the secret room, Alastair’s uncle, the sinister Bae Oh, knows that they’re there (he owns the hotel).  And they are suitably trapped.

While in the stronghold, the kids learn a little bit about the items they are seeking in Egypt (there is a fake statue in the room).  But mostly they’re concerned about trying to escape.  Thanks goodness thier au pair (who getts cooler with each book) has been paying attention. (more…)

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