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Archive for the ‘Robert Louis Stevenson’ Category

SOUNDTRACK:

[READ: December 21, 2022] “Markheim”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

Like we always do at this time: the Short Story Advent Calendar is back for 2022. We had such a great time last year working with our first-ever guest editor, the one and only Alberto Manguel. This year, however, we’re bringing things back to basics. No overarching theme or format, just 25 top-class short stories, selected in-house, by some of the best writers in North America and beyond. It’s December 21. Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, died in 1894 and would not return our emails.

Not many stories in this collection are actually Christmas stories, which is probably for the best.  Who knows how that would go if you tries to corral them into a theme.  But this one is. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 25, 2019] Ice Nine Kills

I was unfamiliar with Ice Nine Kills until my son started talking about them.  Then his friend invited him to see a show at the Starland Ballroom on May 3 (Ice Nine Kills was not headlining–the lineup was Falling In Reverse, Ice Nine Kills, From Ashes to New and New Years Day).  So I was a little bummed that he didn’t go to his first club show with me, but it’s much cooler that he went with his friend.  He loved the show.

So when they announced that they were playing at TLA and headlining the Octane Accelerator Tour (a Sirius XM thing), I made sure we got tickets (even though it was a Monday night).

The show was (I’m exhausted just thinking about it) FIVE bands and started at 6PM (!).

The lineup was Ice Nine Kills, Fit For A King, Light The Torch, Make Them Suffer, & Awake At Last.

Since it was a Monday night, I knew it would be really hard to get there for the first band, so we decided we would assume we’d miss Awake at Last.  Then on November 5th, Make Them Suffer (who are Australian) announced:

Unfortunately we have had some serious setbacks with immigration, and were unable to secure the visas we needed in time for these shows.

TLA said the show would go on at the same time which was great for us since it meant we would get home about 30 minutes earlier.  I also figured I’d take my son for some good ol’ Philly cheese steaks before the show since Jim’s is just a few doors down.

We enjoyed out cheese steaks quite a lot and as we walked past the theater I asked the guy at the door which band was on.  He said the second band was on and since we had plenty of time, we decided to go to Atomic City Comics (which is a wonderful store).

We headed back to TLA figuring we’d be in the middle of Fit for a King.  But as we walked in, they were between bands.  The woman at the merch table said that ice Nine Kills was up in ten minutes!  We’d missed all of the opening bands! (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KATE CARR-“The Ladder Is Always There” (2018).

At the end of every year publications and sites post year end lists.  I like to look at them to see if I missed any albums of significance.  But my favorite year end list comes from Lars Gottrich at NPR.  For the past ten years, Viking’s Choice has posted a list of obscure and often overlooked bands.  Gottrich also has one of the broadest tastes of anyone I know (myself included–he likes a lot of genres I don’t).  

Since I’m behind on my posts at the beginning of this year, I’m taking this opportunity to highlight the bands that he mentions on this year’s list.  I’m only listening to the one song unless I’m inspired to listen to more.

Messa is an Italian band (although they seem to sing in English).

The song opens with some feedback and a heavy guitar (and a single cymbal bell, which I quite like).  After playing the riff a few times, everything pulls back to reveal some delicate Fender Rhodes notes and Sara’s softer, muted voice.  Then things take off.  But it’s not fast or super heavy, it’s just spot on.

They have a great stoner rock sound but with a seriously metal edge to the riffs.  What really sets them apart is vocalist.  Their singer Sara has a great soaring 70’s classic rock voice.  It goes really well with the low end of the songs.

The end of the (eight-minute) song has a great guitar solo and then harmonizing vocals.  It’s an awesome song and I will definitely be checking out the rest of the disc on bandcamp.

[READ: January 3, 3018] “Living Animals”

This begins the 13th year of this blog.  So why not start it with a criticism of online content.  This essay was originally written in 1999 (Gass died in 2017), and I’m sure his concerns multiplied on the decade plus since.  This is also an excerpt from the essay.

Gass talks about the permanence of the printed word whereas

words on a screen have visual qualities…but they have no materiality, they are only shadows and when the light shifts they’ll be gone.  Off the screen they do not exist as words.  I cannot carry them beneath a tree or onto a side porch [well, now you can, but you couldn’t in 1999], I cannot argue in their margins [now you can, sort of].

But then he gets more specific of what you cannot do. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TRACY THORN & JENS LEKMAN-“Yeah! Oh Yeah! from Score! 20 Years of Merge Records: The Covers (2009).

This cover makes me think that I like The Magnetic Fields for their songs, but not really for their singing or arrangements.  This song is pretty hilarious (every yeah oh yeah is in response to something awful (Do you want to break my heart?  Yeah, yeah, Oh yeah!).  The cover by the wonderful Tracy Thorn & Jens Lekman is much more understated than the original, with simple instrumentation.

The original is a chiming, kind of noisy track.  While the cover has Thorns beautiful voice languorously singing the lines while Lekman chimes in.  The backing music is delicate and almost sweet (a nice contrast to the lyrics).  I think the song is fantastic, but once again, I like the cover more than the original.  This is especially surprising as the cover is actually slower than the original.  But, really, it’s hard  to pass on Jens Lekman.

[READ: April 30, 2012] “Borges on Pleasure Island”

When I browsed for Rivka Galchen articles the other day, I found a few published works that were not in Harper’s or The New Yorker.  So, yes, I’m going to write about them here.  And since I’m caught up with the end of Gravity’s Rainbow, these short non-fictions were a nice balm.

I have been encountering a lot about Borges lately.  Roberto Bolaño loves him, there was a recent article in Harper’s about him (a review of some new translations called “The purloined Borges: Translation and traduction” by Edgardo Krebs) and now I get this article.  This article is a strange one–and I’m not entirely sure where it would have appeared in the Times.  It’s strange because it’s kind of a review of a new collection of Borges’ work (this one called On Writing, the first of three Borges’ related works published that month).  Although really she only talks about one essay, “Literary Pleasure.” (more…)

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