Archive for the ‘Cars’ Category


[READ: January 2022] Rivers

I’m quite the fan of Top Shelf Comics.  Their stories are usually off the beaten path and have a satisfying indie feel.  I hadn’t heard of either of these two writers before though

This book is full of different stories that don’t seem connected. I really applaud the creators for making the story this way because there were times when I wondered if this was meant to be little short pieces instead of a full narrative.  It was a bold decision and it pays off handsomely.

The book opens on yellowish pages (each storyline has a color scheme).  Two boys are reading a comic book in 1992.  The next page shows the book they are reading–a sci-fi story about evil creatures named Ghoulors and the man and do who hunt them.

The boys are very funny and appear throughout the story with deep conversations like “I think if your life is not great you should just take drugs all the time.” “Me too.”  And “What do you think you’ll be doing when you’re 25?” “I’ll be in a band on guitar and occasional synths.  The lead singer will leave and I’ll make the band into an instrumental outfit and we’ll do soundtracks to foreign films with subtitles.” “Cool.”

Then we cut to a blueish story about a girl and her dad.  The girl’s parents have split up and she and her dad spend their weekends at the dump throwing rocks at TVs. She enjoys it (and becomes quite accurate), but enough is enough. (more…)

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In Stuart David’s book, In The All-Night Café, he lists the songs on a mixtape that Stuart Murdoch gave to him when they first met.

Although I’ve been a fan of Belle & Sebastian for a long time, I knew almost none of the songs on this mixtape.  So, much like Stuart David, I’m listening to them for the first time trying to see how they inspire Stuart Murdoch.

In the book, David writes how much he does not like “rock,” especially music based around bluesy rock.  Most of these songs, accordingly, do not do that.  In fact, most of these songs are (unsurprisingly) soft and delicate.

I’ve been aware of the Young Marble Giants forever, and yet I apparently knew nothing about them.  Like that they only put out one album (how are the so influential?) or that they were from Wales.

Young Marble Giants were a trio: Philip Moxham on bass, Stuart Moxham on guitar and organ, Alison Statton on vocals.  Yup no drums.

The songs on the record are short and seem to focus around the basslines primarily.  It’s really quite an unusual presentation–quite lo-fi and very engaging.

This song (the 12th of 15 on the album) is 2 minutes long.  It features a simple guitar riff, with a some extra detailed notes sprinkled at the end of the main riff.  Then comes a four note bass riff, with a little hammer on at the end of the riff.  After a minute, Alison quietly sings along with the melody:

Think of salad days
They were folly and fun
They were good, they were young

She sings for 15 seconds and then it’s all music until the end.  The bass drops out with 30 seconds left and the guitar plays that same melody with a few picked notes to the end.

It’s simple and delightful.  And as the start of a mix tape, it speaks volumes.

[READ: January 21, 2021] “Find and Replace” 

This story is written as a true story.  But there are plenty of little comments in the story that show how easy it is to change something in a story–maybe make it untrue?

The narrator, Ann, says her father died in hospice on Christmas Day–the day that she had left the country.  Her family was not the kind who communicated every day.

Her mother was not demanding.  She was a friendly person and had a million friends (she still wrote cards to a maid who cleaned their hotel room fifteen years ago).

Ann flew to Florida, rented a car and drove to her mother’s house.  Her mother showed her letters that she hoped Ann would help her make decisions about.  The last one was from a neighbor named Drake who asked her to move in with him.

Ann assumed it was a joke.  Then assumed her mother would laugh it off.  But indeed, she had said yes.  They might even move to Tucson. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CARLY RAE JEPSEN-Tiny Desk Concert #915 (November 25, 2019).

It has been eight years (!) since Carly Rae’s ubiquitous “Call Me Maybe” took over the airways.  In those eight years I have grown to like the song and think of it fondly.

I also basically didn’t realize that Carly Rae was still making music.  Of course, she’s not all that prolific either–she has put out two albums since the album that featured “Call Me Maybe.”

I don’t know if she still has the same pull as she did back then.  I don’t know if this pop sensation is as big a draw as Taylor Swift was (I expect not).  Although evidently she is still beloved.

In 2012, Jepsen’s No. 1 hit “Call Me Maybe” was inescapable, and her 2015 album, E-MO-TION, made her a critical darling. An extremely high proportion of NPR employees also happen to be fans of the pop star; despite the nonstop impeachment hearing coverage happening just down the hall, Jepsen commanded a considerable and captivated crowd at the Tiny Desk.

The three songs she plays at this Tiny Desk are nowhere near the earworm that “CMM” was.  But there is something very sweet about how happy she is singing these certainly catchy songs..

From the moment Carly Rae Jepsen arrived at NPR HQ for her Tiny Desk concert, she brought an obvious sense of joy. Take, for example, her sound check: Working with her band of longtime collaborators, she seemed downright delighted, beaming at the musicians as she gave notes after each meticulous run-through. It’s that attention to detail that has helped build her a devoted fan base ready to make memes of her every move.

All three songs are from this year’s Dedicated album.

“Now That I Found You” is certainly the catchiest of the three.  There’s a cool, slightly funky guitar riff (from Tavish Crowe).  The whole song has more of a disco vibe (in the bass from Adam Siska) and there is something delightful about her breathy whispered vocals.  She doesn’t do the trills and vocal acrobatics that pop singers are prone to.  Midway through the song, everything drops out except for the piano (from Jared Manierka) and some lovely backing vocals (from Sophi Bairley) then the end takes off as a big dancefloor banger.

Introducing “Want You in My Room” she says, “This is the most direct, to the point song that we’ve ever been a part of performing and I’ve been a part of making.”  I was impressed to learn that her band was made of “longtime collaborators.”  But I also got a kick out of the way she seemed a bit shy describing the song as “a real come hither song.  You’ll see what I mean.”

It’s amusing that she says this is the most direct song that she has written.  It is kind of explicit, and yet compared to the rest of the pop world, it comes across as endearing.  Indeed, even if she does exhibit “Smiling swagger” I’m won over by her apparent innocence.

The song has a fun snare drum opening (from Nik Pešut) and a big “Hey” in the opening.  The chorus sounds a lot like something else but I can’t place it, but it is fun to hear her sing (and get into)

On the bed, on the floor
(I want you in my room)
I don’t care anymore
I wanna do bad things to you
Slide on through my window
(I want you in my room)
Baby don’t you want me too?

The pretty yellow plaid jacket comes off for the final song “The Sound,” a pretty song that starts as a ballad and gets bigger by the end.  This song didn’t leave much of an impression on me.  Perhaps since they were “modulating the album’s sparkling pop-disco vibe to fit our sun-filled office,” the hooks went away on that track.

Amazingly, her set is only 10 minutes long (one of the shortest ones I can think of).  And she doesn’t even do “Call me Maybe”!

It’s also frustrating that with such a short set they don’t even show they little joke at the end that you can hear everyone laugh at.

But I came away from this concert with more respect for her.  I might just have to listen to her critically acclaimed album after all.

[READ: October 21, 2019] Machines Will Make Better Choices Than Humans

When you look up books by Douglas Coupland, you will find all manner of tiny books.  Most of them have content published in similar form elsewhere.  But its not always obvious how edited the pieces are.  And frankly, the things he writes about are often so similar that it’s not always easy to know if this is an essay you’ve read before.

This book, published by V2 in Rotterdam is 37 pages in very large font.

The cover image as well as the texts on pages 13 and 19 come from “Slogans for the 21st Century”

The three are:

  • Machines Will Make Better Choices Than Humans
  • I’m Binge Watching My Data Stream
  • My Data Stream Doesn’t Judge Me


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SOUNDTRACK: TALKING HEADS-“Psycho Killer” (1977).

A lot of the music I listen to is weird and probably creepy to other people, but I don’t necessarily think of songs as appropriate for Halloween or not.  So for this year’s Ghost Box stories, I consulted an “expert”: The Esquire list of Halloween songs you’ll play all year long.  The list has 45 songs–most of which I do not like.  So I picked 11 of them to post about.

Of all the songs on this list, this is possibly the one that most people are familiar with.  I mean, it’s been played on the radio for over thirty years.

Musically the song is not scary at all.  The bass is pretty straightforward and instantly recognizable.  It’s really catchy too.  The guitars are cool jagged/new wave licks.

Really it comes down to the lyrics and vocal delivery.

David Byrne has a unique delivery style to be sure, although somehow I find his delivery doesn’t really sell the “psycho killer” nature of this song all that well.  Perhaps it’s deceptively psycho.

Indeed, everything in this song is implied rather than explicit.

Lyrically the song could be pretty creepy.  Except that really the lyrics are just good manners

You start a conversation you can’t even finish it
You’re talking a lot, but you’re not saying anything
When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed
Say something once, why say it again?

We are vain and we are blind
I hate people when they’re not polite

Perhaps that’s what creates a psycho killer after all.

There’s an acoustic version (available as a B-side and now on the 2005 bonus tracks) which features slightly different lyrics and a cello that is rather menacing at times.  It’s slightly more creepy.


[READ: October 21, 2019] “It Only Comes Out At Night”

Just in time for Halloween, from the people who brought me The Short Story Advent Calendar and The Ghost Box. and Ghost Box II. comes Ghost Box III.

This is once again a nifty little box (with a magnetic opening and a ribbon) which contains 11 stories for Halloween.  It is lovingly described thusly:

Oh god, it’s right behind me, isn’t it? There’s no use trying to run from Ghost Box III, the terrifying conclusion to our series of limited-edition horror box sets edited and introduced by Patton Oswalt.

There is no explicit “order” to these books; however, I’m going to read in the order they were stacked.

Dennis Etchison also had a story in the first Ghost Box.

I rather enjoyed the timelessness of this story.  I didn’t read when it was written before reading it and aside from one or two small details at the end of the story it could have been written at any time in the last sixty years.

The story starts with an explanation of how to get from San Bernadino to points east.  You must cross the Mojave Desert.  But there is no relief–it is relentlessly hot: (more…)

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indexSOUNDTRACK: LOS LOBOS “Sabor a Mi” (1978)

220px-Los_Lobos_del_Este_de_Los_Angeles_coverThe other song from the Los Lobos debut album that nick Hornby mentioned was ” “Sabor a Mí” a beautiful acoustic bolero.

The rhythm is slow and stately, with nice use of an upright bass.  The guitars sound great–very clean and precise with no fuzz or distortion or loose sloppy playing.  This is respectful playing of a traditional song.

The vocals are by Cesar Rosas and some are wonderfully romantic sounding.  The solos are really great too.

I’m glad that Los Lobos branched out into so much diverse music over their career, but their early traditional songs are lovely.

[READ: September 15, 2019] “The Most Basic Plan”

In this story a man has traveled to Florida to be with his dying mother.

There was no question that she was dying and he had made appointments at local funeral homes.  He was itching to get away–he didn’t want to be late on Friday, as it would need to be rescheduled on Monday.

He fed her ice chips–it was all he could do for her.  He looked through her things–her photos–and remembered the past.  But the present could not be halted.

He asked the young woman on duty to look after his mother.  She was new and was clearly afraid of his dying mother.  She resented him and he assured her that he would be back soon.

He had rented a car at the airport, but once he got out into the warm air, he returned the car and requested a convertible Miata.  It was overpriced and, given the occasion, maybe a little festive, but he appreciated it. (more…)

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a0649002429_16Kawabata Makoto [河端一] is the guitarist and mastermind behind Acid Mothers Temple. The band is hugely prolific. But he still had time to record solo albums. Often times without any guitar.

This was Kawabata’s third solo LP, now available on bandcamp

Third volume in an acclaimed series by the Acid Mothers Temple leader. INUI 3 focuses on Kawabata’s highly personal brand of epic instrumental drone. Performing on bouzouki, sarangi, electric guitar, viola, and ECS-101, Makoto emphasizes the gradual build of monumental sound structures. Running 12 minutes each, “Sui” and “Ken” are darkly spun tales, with wisps of sound keening over a distant backdrop. Recalling the Speed Guru’s lovely 2001 collaboration with Richard Youngs, the 47 minute “Fuku” is based on a hypnotic arpeggio plucked out on the bouzouki over which Gong-style glissando guitar and other zonked sounds are carefully layered.

Sui (12.33) over a drone it sounds like he’s playing a hammered dulcimer, but I gather it is the bouzouki.  There’s a very pretty melody which seems to morph into a reverse-sounding musical style after about 5 minutes.  These pulsing waves slowly shift into washes of synths over the drone.

Ken (12.35) starts was a drone–whether electronic or acoustic is hard to tell.  Waves of sound like waves swoop through this rather relaxing piece.

Fuku (47.08) has more of that hammered bouzouki style of playing.  It’s a lovely melody with a drone behind it.  After 9 minutes the backing chords change the texture of the song.  Around 11 minutes the melody starts to grow slightly discordant as the backing chords start to morph and the bouzouki plays some discordant notes.

The discord seems to weave in an out–never growing too harsh, just enough to give the song some tension.

Around 30 minutes, waves of electronics start to take over, there’s a slightly sinister sound to them.  By the end things get a little intense and it feels like the closing credits to a dramatic film.

It’s amazing that he can keep this up for 47 minutes.

[READ: September 10, 2019] “What I Saw From the Forest”

In this story Charles and Dulcie have been together for a while.  They lost their baby when Dulcie was six months pregnant.  It was nobody’s fault but Dulcie can’t help but try to figure out what she did wrong.

Their relationship has been prickly ever since.

Dulcie hates to drive on freeways–she doesn’t like that she can’t exit when she wants, so they tend to take back roads.  They had been to a party and Charles was too drunk to drive home so Dulcie drove his car.

He woke up when they were rear-ended.  It was a a group of young men with a gun.  They asked for the keys.  Charles gave them the keys and his wallet and then he and Dulcie ran.  The police promised them they would not see their car again.  When Dulcie worried that they would come to their house since the registration was in the car, the policeman said not to worry, “crackheads never did that.”

Dulcie took a few days off (she was a teacher) so Charles drove her car to work.  When he got home she had moved the mattress into the living room.  There was a rat in the bedroom walls.  They could hear it and had gotten used to it because when they told the landlord he said he would take care of it –which means “there’re ten other people in line for your apartment.”

She insisted on leaving the lights on all night.  She even talked about getting an inflatable person to sit in a chair to let people think someone was home.

The next evening as he was driving home, someone threw an egg at his car.  He freaked out until he realized it was Halloween.  They hadn’t bought any candy, so when he got home Dulcie was cowering saying people kept ringing the doorbell and she couldn’t trust anyone.

A week after the holdup, police called to say their car was found. It was in a lot in South Central.  The policeman asked if he was white.  Charles said yes, and the polieman said to go early in the morning before “wake-up time.”  They arrived and the car was stripped–even the steering wheel–so they turned it in rather than having it towed.

Charles took a day off from work.  He drove to a park and sat, thinking.  He realized he could either stay or go.  He had a decision to make.


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The biggest shame of NonCOMM 2019 is that Rodrigo y Gabriela only got 19 minutes. Oh man, these two need an hour to show off everything they can do.  The other shame is that the person who wrote the blurb doesn’t know the song titles.

Normally their show–two people playing acoustic guitar–is a surprisingly loud and percussive affair.  Gabriela slaps her guitar and plays amazing drum-like sounds across the strings, while Rodrigo solos all over the fretboard.  Even though they play acoustic guitars, they have metal in their blood (they recently covered Slayer).

But this show is a rather quiet affair.  They begin with a quiet piece with a simple backing guitar line and a lead line that runs through the song.

Rodrigo y Gabriela may have started off their set with a soft, lullaby-ish tune, illuminated only by a single spotlight. But don’t get too comfortable with that mellow sound, beautiful as it is, because what followed after was a loud, jarring song that gave us a taste of what heavy metal might sound like if it could only be played with two guitars.

It segued into “Krotona Days” a heavy opening thuds before the two masters take off through fast and slow, loud and quiet.

Often standing face to face with their guitars in hand, Rodrigo y Gabriela engage in a conversation without any words, their narration punctuated by lighting perfectly selected to match each emotion. Even in the absence of lyrics, the listener is drawn into the band’s vulnerability; it’s as if they’ve invited us in as witnesses of their funky, fiery story as it unwinds song by song.

‘After Gabriela talks to everyone, they play “Electric Soul,” another quieter song.  Usually they are blowing our minds with speed, but here they demonstrate beautiful restraint.

The next song starts slowly, but after a build up of Gabriela’s percussive guitar it… returns to a quiet melody again including some harmonics.  I’m almost disappointed that they didn’t really do what they are known for, but this demonstration of a different side of them is pretty amazing too.

Most of these songs come from their new album Mettavolution, which features six original instrumental compositions, many of which we did get to hear.

They end the set with the titular song “Mettavolution.”  On the record it is a big loud raucous affair with loud pummeling chords to open.  It’s a bit more subdued here even if the main riff is still pretty intense.

I’m not sure why they chose to play so quietly, but it’s an interesting take on their music.

[READ: June 1, 2019] “On Impact”

When I was in high school, Stephen King was my favorite writer.  I read everything he’d written.  When I got to college I was really bummed that the school library had no Stephen King at all.  My freshman year I read the Tommyknockers and didn’t really like it and I think that was the last I’d thought about Stephen King.

At some point in the 1990s I read some of his newer books and remembered why I liked him so much.  Maybe I should go back and start all over again–will Salem’s Lot freak me out now as much as it did then?  I don’t know.

I don’t recall if I knew that he had been in a car accident.  I know I found out some years later (possibly when I read On Writing).  It’s also possible that this essay comes from that book.  It’s been 19 years, don’t remember, but I’m guessing the title of this is a nod to the book. (more…)

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I’ve seen Strand of Oaks three times, although only once as a full band. Usually I see Tim Showalter’s Winter Spectacles–intimate shows with just him and a partner.  I forget how big the can sound with a full band.

“Weird Ways” opens the set.  I love the moment about two minutes in when the second guitar kicks in.  It seems like the song is going to be one thing but that second guitar changes the texture of the song up until the end.  The end is a catchy coda–synth waves, a big crescendo drums and a sing along “That’s a weird way to say goodbye.”
As Showalter introduced the band’s biggest hit, “Goshen ’97,” he recalled one of his favorite moments from the last decade. “I guess this is the first song of mine I ever heard on the radio, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I’ll never forget it. So if you know it, help us sing it.” The song describes Showalter’s memories of beginning to make music as a teenager in his hometown of Goshen, Indiana. “I was lonely but I was having fun!” he cried out during every pre-chorus.
I like mid-song when he says “gimme some shred!” and whoever is on guitar totally rocks out.
Up next is the new single “Ruby.”  I love the way he exaggeratedly slows down the chorus–it’s very effective.
Strand of Oaks stretched out many of their selections to make room for jamming and imagining, even though they were only scheduled to play a thirty-minute set. As usual, they made sure to enjoy every moment on stage to the fullest — they never rush. “If you know anything about this band, a half an hour is pretty tough for us to do,” Showalter admitted after fading out the end of “Ruby.” “That’s usually about one song,” he chuckled.
He dedicated “Keys,” to his wife, Sue.  “It’s easy to let your life slip away,” he sang.  The song featured slide guitar at its most melancholy and Showalter’s voice at its most wistful.
He dedicated “Radio Kids” to everyone who stayed up late listening for that song on the radio…pressing record and hoping to hear the name of the band.
They geared up for a set-ending “Hyperspace Blues” which I thought would be a lot longer.  But he was expecting his time to be over, so he kept it brief.  Then there was a surprise.
My favorite moment came after midnight, after Strand of Oaks were already supposed have finished their set. “So, the good folks at NonCOMM said that we can play a little bit longer,” Showalter announced with a grin. “We did this one a few days ago and dedicated this to a very dear friend of mine. Someone who’s changed my life for the better and I’m so happy and I’m so proud of him, and it’s just so good to see him …” He trailed off but then continued, almost broken up, “We’re gonna do this one for my dear friend Bruce Warren — let’s give Bruce Warren a big round of applause. The world’s a better place ’cause you’re here, Bruce, and we love you, so we’re gonna do this one for you. And we’ll burn it a little extra long for NonCOMM.”
“Forever Chords,” burns for twelve minutes.  It starts out slow, with a great tone and Showalter’s aching vocals.  There’s lengthy guitar solos, and pianos solos.  “The problem with living…. is one day you won’t” is not the happiest not to leave on, but the repeated chorus of “you hope it never ends” leaves us with an optimistic jamming moment.
[READ: May 30, 2019] “Revival Road”

Louise Erdrich writes unusual stories that I find very gripping.

This one is about a couple of families who live on Revival Road in rural new Hampshire.

The narrator is a middle aged woman who lives at home with her mother.  There is this wonderful passage:

It is difficult for a woman to admit that she gets along wit her own mother.  Somehow, it seem a form of betrayal.

The narrator is the lover of Kurt Heissman, a local artist.  His wife had died in a car accident many years earlier and he only had his daughter left.  She went to Sarah Lawrence.  She did not like the narrator.

Heissman’s work involved massive pieces of native slate or granite.  Pieces he couldn’t possibly move by himself so he always had a young man living in the guest house as his employee.  He had him stay nearby to be ready the moment that inspiration struck. (more…)

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I was marveling at the set lengths that various artists get at NonComm.  Most are pretty short (around 20 minutes).  So I was pretty surprised to see that Citizen Cope got 40. I thought Citizen Cope was a fairly new artist (although XPN talks about him a lot).

I was surprised to see that

Singer-songwriter Citizen Cope, otherwise known as Clarence Greenwood, has been around for close to two decades [and his fans were] ready to embrace his colorful blend of blues, folk, and rock.

I don’t especially like Citizen Cope’s music.  It’s okay and much better in small doses.  But I am especially amused at the write up of this concert because I feel like the person there was listening to a very different show than I was.  He opened

with the driving, upbeat “Let The Drummer Kick.” A fan favorite, the tune had everyone jumping.

I kind of like the song, although I would never describe it as upbeat.  His delivery is extremely drawly with him mostly him slowly rhyming words that end with “tion”: Equation / Humiliation / Reincarnation / Situation and a chorus of him repeating the title.  It’s kind of interesting but hard to believe he built a five-minute song out of that.

From there, he transitioned into “The River,” a new cut off of Heroin and Helicopters, his first release in six years. The song’s somber lyrics drifted on as the band played with grace.

This is a very funny description.  The lyrics do seem to drift on (as most of his lyrics so).  It’s hard to say the band plays with grace.  They play fine though.

“Justice” is a song that gets a lot of airplay on XPN.  It’s in the same style as his other songs–slow and kind of downbeat.  Although the chorus is pretty catchy.  I also like the psychedelic musical interludes.

“One Lovely Day” is a quieter song that begins with just him on guitar but when the band joins in, it sounds like the others.

Cope could not go without playing cuts from his 2004 record The Clarence Greenwood Recordings, of which he features “Son’s Gonna Rise” and “Sideways.” Both tracks transitioned perfectly from one another, matching the energy and vibe the crowd was looking for.

“Bullet & a Tart” picks up the pace somewhat although it’s not a very dramatic change.

As Cope finished, he shared an anecdote that inspired the title for his album — Carlos Santana warning Greenwood to stay away from the “two h’s,” heroin and helicopters, two things that historically and tragically claim the lives of musicians. The message resonated so strongly with Cope that he went on to name it his album, which was just released on his label Rainwater Recordings.

As Cope’s set drew to a close, he ended with another single off of his record, titled “Caribbean Skies.” This song’s lively beat and catchy hook moved the crowd.

“Caribbean Skies” is certainly catchy.  But again, not in any way lively.

This set is kind of monotonous, and I won’t be a Citizen Cope fan anytime soon, but clearly he doesn’t need me either.

[READ: May 20, 2019] “Forecast from the Retail Desk”

I typically enjoy Rick Moody stories, but I found this one really puzzling and hard to get into.

It begins with the (probably true) statement: “Nobody likes a guy who can foretell the future.”  The narrator, Everett Bennett works at a retail desk for some kind of investment firm.  He says he is not well liked at work and his job is surely the first to be made redundant.

His first demonstration of his prophetic skills came in school, in 1977.  He was in a lab with Bobby Erlich.  Erlich didn’t like him (nobody really did).  Bobby wouldn’t talk to him or collaborate in any way, so the narrator had to tel him straight up: “You’re going to be maimed in a horrible motorcycle accident. It’s really going to hurt too. Just remember we had this chat.”

Bobby replied, “You know what Bennett, I always thought you were a jerk. And I was right.”

Bobby doesn’t get into a motorcycle accident although he is in a car accident several years later.  He is making out with a policeman in the man’s car when it is hit by another car.  Everett had to wonder if he somehow caused the accident with his prediction. (more…)

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A couple of years ago I had a pass to NonComm, but ultimately I decided not to go.  I had never been to World Cafe Live and, while it sounded like a fun time, it was just so many mid-week nights and lots of leaving early, that it sounded more exhausting than fun.

I have now been to World Cafe Live and I can imagine that the (less divaish) bands are hanging around talking to people (and radio personalities) which is probably pretty cool.

I love the idea of these sorta personal concerts, too.  But I have since come to see that they are 20-45 minutes tops.  Hardly worth driving 90 minutes (one-way) for.

But since the shows are streaming you can watch them live.  Or you can listen to the recorded version online.

I’ve been aware of Phosphorescent for a number of years but I seem to have him/them confused with another band (Telekinesis–a one word band name that is actually just one person, who also put out a new album this year).  Phosphorescent is the project of Matthew Houck and in this performance it’s just him on the acoustic guitar.  I’m not sure what he normally plays live, but during this set he said, “this is the first time I’ve played an acoustic guitar for a concert in 20 years, probably.  It feels pretty weird up here at the moment.”

Recently, Phosphorescent has had a big single on WXPN called “New Birth in New England” which I love.

He opened with “C’est La Vie No. 2” off his latest album C’est La Vie.  His delicate strumming paired perfectly with his lyrics, which I especially liked;

C’est La Vie they say but i don’t know what it means
I say love’s easy if you let it be

“My Beautiful Boy” has a wonderful guitar melody (clearly it is about his becoming a father).  Even though his lyrics are thoughtful and somewhat serious, he was a charming frontman, staying “this song is about rocks.  It’s called ‘These Rocks.'”

He told us “New Birth in New England” doesn’t go on an acoustic guitar by itself.  But it will tonight.   It sounds wonderful in this stripped down version, although I prefer the recorded version.

The last song of the set was “Song For Zula,” a track from Phosphorescent’s 2013 album Muchacho.  I didn’t realize this was his song which I really liked back when it came out.  It’s really beautiful and, once again I like the way he plays with existing lyrics to make them his own.

and it showcased the strength of his vocals as he belted it out for the crowd before making his way off stage. The hearty applause was fitting for the wholesomely low-key set. Give C’est La Vie a listen now and check out Phosphorescent on tour this summer.

Some say love is a burning thing
That it makes a fiery ring
Oh but I know love as a fading thing
Just as fickle as a feather in a stream
See, honey, I saw love,
You see it came to me.

Now if I can keep his name straight, I’ll have to listen to him a bit more.

[READ: May 3, 2019] “Upholsetry”

The July/August issue of The Walrus is the Summer Reading issue.  This year’s issue had three short stories and three poems as special features.

I loved this story.

I love the dysfunctional families involved in it and I love the way it is circular while still moving forward. Plus it’s darkly comic.

The narrator, Iris, says that when she told her mother (whom she calls Judy, never mom) that she was going marry Thom, Judy didn’t hesitate to say that he was a car crash waiting to happen.  Judy is a psychologist not a fortune-teller.  But her words proved to be literally true–Thom was in a car accident with Iris in the car.  Iris fractured her skull.  Somehow, Thom still wore the T-shirt he was wearing during the accident–and he assures her that the faded pink spot is not blood.

Thom is extremely smart and was rewarded out of college with many luxury job offers.  He turned them all down to teach at McGill College. The accident left Iris with some brain injury, so going back to her job wasn’t really an option.  (more…)

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