Archive for the ‘Maurice Sendak’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: SHAWN COLVIN-Holiday Songs and Lullabies (1998).

This album “was inspired by impending motherhood and the rediscovery of a favorite children’s book–the enchanting Maurice Sendak-illustrated Lullabies and Night Songs, from whence many of these traditional tunes come.”

I wouldn’t have said it this way, but this quote from the Amazon page is pretty apt (if overwritten):

These simple, elegant songs outshine any nasty humbug associated with holidays and dark nights, offering sanctuary from the ill temper of the season.  Though she was heavy with child at the time of recording, Colvin’s sweet, girlish voice is here huskily warmed and enhanced by the fullness of womanly glow, conjuring the innocent simplicity of a safe childhood.

The songs are all gentle and have that lullaby feel.  Some songs have strings and horns, but mostly it is piano, organ and acoustic guitar.  And it is all down-to-earth, clean-sounding and cozy.

Technically this isn’t really a Christmas album, but it’s perfect to get you fall asleep early on Christmas Eve.

The songs include: “In the Bleak Midwinter” (Traditional) / “Christmas Time Is Here”  /  “Now the Day Is Over” (Traditional) /  “Rocking” /  “Windy Nights”  /  “All Through the Night” (Traditional) /  “Love Came Down at Christmas” /  “Silent Night” /  “All the Pretty Li’l Horses” /  “Little Road to Bethlehem” /  “Seal Lullaby” (Rudyard Kipling) /  “Evening Is a Little Boy/The Night Will Never Stay” /  “The Christ Child’s Lullaby” (Traditional) /  “Close Your Eyes” (Brahms)

What’s especially good is that she doesn’t take any fast or upbeat songs and make them slow and soporific, she takes most of the slow ballads and sings them very prettily.

[READ: October 31, 2017] The Dam Keeper

Kondo and Tsutsumi have both worked at Pixar, which may explain why this graphic novel looks unlike anything I have ever seen before.   I have (after reading their bios) learned that this was also a short film.  I’m only a little disappointed to learn that because it means the clips are (I assume) stills from the film.  It still looks cool and remarkable, but it makes it a bit less eye-popping that this unusual style wasn’t made for a book.

The story is a somewhat peculiar one, at least in the beginning.

Animals live in a town called Sunrise Valley.  The fog used to consume the town.  Then they put up a dam with windmills to keep the fog out. It is up to the dam keeper to make sure it is always running. Because the fog means death.

The dam keeper is a pig .  The fog came into town and killed the dam keeper’s wife.  The father taught his son about the dam and the importance of making sure the dam is always working.  Then one day the father walked into the fog and was never seen again.

His father always said that the dam was working if the residents forget about it.  And so they have–they think the Pig family is weird for monitoring it.

So Pig, with no parents, must attend school and monitor the dam.  He has a lot of responsibility.  And he has few friends. (more…)

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goblinSOUNDTRACK: AURORA-Tiny Desk Concert #486 (November 9, 2015).

auroraAurora is a Norwegian singer (I was sure her accent was Irish, so I was pretty surprised).  She was just 19 when she recorded this.

Aurora is a beguiling performer to watch because her sincerity comes through with everything she does–from her hand gestures, to the power of her voice, to the intensity of her face, which only relaxes when the song is truly over.

All three songs are just her accompanied by an acoustic guitarist (who sings backing vocals).

“Runaway” is a beautiful song of despair: “I can’t take it anymore…but I kept running for a soft place to fall.”

Between songs she seems completely moved by her words.  Once she composes herself, she has a nice chat with everyone.  Then she says she’s going to scream a bit high, “is that fine?”  Interestingly, her loud is not as loud as many other singers who don’t ask permission.

aurora2“Murder Song (5,4,3,2,1)” begins with her beautifully singing “5,4,3,2,1.”  And then the song gets pretty dark and a little disturbing. For she is killed in the first line of the song, and she is so passionate about it she sways and moves her hands in time with the “Oh oh ohs.”  I think things somehow work out though–it’s a little hard to parse.

“Running with the Wolves” has a pretty spooky chorus of the two of them singing the title in falsetto.  She’s pretty intense as she sings this song, making varied emotional faces.  And the fact that she looks to be about 12 makes them seem even more intense.

I found watching her to be a bit disconcerting, and I’d love to know more about her.  There were many parts of her songs that I liked a lot.  And I’m curious to hear what she’d sound like with full instrumentation.

[READ: September 9, 2016] Nobody Likes a Goblin

I wrote this about Hatke’s previous picture book (which I loved), Julia’s House for Lost Creatures:

I don’t normally write about kids’ picture books (if I did my whole blog would be about them as we read so many).  But this one gets a special mention because a) it was published by First Second and b) I love Ben Hatke’s drawing style so much.

Hatke has drawn books for slightly older kids, but he also does sweet (and slightly weird) books like this for littler kids.

This book really shows that nobody likes a goblin (even if he is creepy cute). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: President Obama reading Where the Wild Things Are (2009).

A President who is literate!

Apparently my video won’t fit here unless I space this section out better.

I don’t really have anything to say, except that I enjoyed hearing him read this.

And it’s fun to watch the Secret Service pretend to be invisible.

One more line should do the trick.

See the video here.

[READ: August 24, 2011] Wild Things

Okay, so this is a novel.  It is based on Where the Wild Things Are, the film by Spike Jonze and Where the Wild Things Are, the book by Maurice Sendak.  Obviously, Sendak’s book came first.  But, it’s only got about 60 words in it.  So, how do you make a film based on it?  Eggers and Jonze worked together for a long time to craft a screenplay and then (as Egger’s Acknowledgments explain) Jonze more or less took over the film and Eggers went off to write this book.

Hence, the book is fully titled:

The Wild Things: A Novel by Dave Eggers Adapted from the Illustrated Book “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak and Based on the Screenplay “Where the Wild Things Are” co-written by D.E. and Spike Jonze

I had read Egger’s except “Max” that was printed in the New Yorker ages ago and I liked it well enough, but it seemed so much like WTWTA, that I wasn’t sure what the point was (I didn’t realize it was an excerpt and, strangely enough, it’s an excerpt from several sections).  And since I had seen the film not too long ago (and honestly was kind of bored by it) I wasn’t really that excited about reading this.

But since I loved Zeitoun and this fur-covered book has been sitting near my bed for a couple of years now, I decided it was time.  And I really enjoyed it.

Well, here’s the thing.  This book is not a novelization of the film.  You notice that right away because the first chapter (which is awesome) is not in the film at all.  In it, Max rides his bike to his neighbor’s house.  His friend is not home but his mother is and when she sees Max all by himself and on his bike without a helmet she freaks out (even though they live about four houses apart).  His reaction and her overreactions are really very funny.

There are scenes from the movie in the book, of course.  It is adapted after all.  Indeed, it is more or less the same as the book, but there are many scenes which Eggers has added that really help to flesh out the story and give depth to everyone involved.  As a matter of fact, Max doesn’t reach the Wild Things’ Island until page 100 (out of 285 pages). (more…)

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wild thingsSOUNDTRACK: FANTÔMAS-Suspended Animation (2005).

fantomasIf you know Fantômas, then you know what you’re in for.  If you don’t, well, it’s a surprise!

Fantômas are the brain child of Mike Patton (Mr Bungle-era more than Faith No More with help from Buzz Osborne from The Melvins and Dave Lombardo from Slayer).  Suspended Animation is designed as a soundtrack to April, 2005.  There are thirty tracks, and each one corresponds to a calendar page.  The limited edition (which is apparently still in print as I got one last month) is a calendar with art by Yoshitomo Nara.  Nara’s work combines cuteness and menace, just like the CD.

A piece by Nara

A piece by Nara

Although, really the CD is more menace than cute.

This disc seems to combine Patton’s favorite things: cartoon music (many ‘toons are sampled here), death metal, short sharp blasts of noise and his fascinating vocal deliveries.

This write-up makes the disc sound very intriguing, but before you rush out to check it out, do know what you’re in for: short, noisy blasts of utter chaos.  It is not for the weak of heart or the queasy of stomach (or for the lover of melody).  It’s not even a case of , oh the songs are short, the next one will come along soon.  While there is diversity, it’s diverse within it’s own little world.  Of noise!

Be afraid.  But if you’re still interested after that caveat, then by all means check it out, if only for the calendar!

[READ: August 23, 2009] Where the Wild Things Are/”Max at Sea”

Because of Dave Egger’s story “Max at Sea” (which is basically a retelling of Where the Wild Things Are I felt I needed to re-read the original.  So thank you Dave Eggers for that.

The original is a fun story which seems to be more visually based than word based.  The drawings are sublime and indeed there are several pgaes with no words at all.  And, so, the filmmakers’ question remains: how to you make a film out of a 48-page book, many of which don’t even have words?  Stills from the movie do look pretty awesome.

And thus, Dave Eggers’ story was born.

I’m not actually going to reveiw Where the Wild Things Are, because, well, it’s a classic, and it’s  awesome.  What more can I say about it?  But I did want to reevaluate Egger’s piece having re-read Sendak’s.

It is quite clear that Eggers is in no way trying to re-write the story.  He has fleshed out a lot of details that are absent from the original (which the original in now way needs, but again, if you’re going to make a film, you need some kind of backstory). (more…)

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