Archive for the ‘Dolls’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: dvsn-Tiny Desk Concert #806 (November 19, 2018).

I love when an artist appears on a Tiny Desk and the blurb is going crazy with excitement and yet I have never heard of them.  When I saw the name dvsn I assumed it was a techno band.  But I couldn’t have been more wrong:

With a four-piece band and three pristine backup vocalists for support, singer Daniel Daley flexed his falsetto pipes and a shiny gold grill, running through a sampler of fan-favorites about breaking up, making up and trying to move on. The short-and-sweet set is an example of the kind of audible acrobatics you don’t often hear at contemporary R&B shows anymore. … Though it’s easy to mistake dvsn as simply the stage moniker of Daley, the act is really a Toronto-based duo comprised of the singer and Grammy Award-winning producer Nineteen85, the (almost) secret weapon behind the boards.

The band has only released two albums, so they’re not especially long-lived, but clearly they have fan-favorites.  And they’ve been playing live for a number of years”

When dvsn visited NPR for this Tiny Desk concert, it reminded me of the first time I saw them two years ago in New York City. They decided to wash the desk in vibrant blue, purple and orange lighting, brought in by dvsn’s team to make the space feel like a concert hall. And while the audience at NPR was almost as densely packed as that NYC venue, it felt much like my live introduction to the group — grandiose in presentation, but at the same time, deliberately intimate in delivery.

They play three songs, “Too Deep” “Body Smile” and “Mood.”  Daniel Daley has an amazing falsetto–hitting crazy high notes almost randomly.  And thee lights are certainly a cool effect.  But these three songs are indistinguishable from countless cheesy-sounding R&B songs.

Of the three, “Body Smile” has the least amount of cheese–his voice sounds good and real and not smoove.

My favorite part of the Concert is actually after he says thank you and walks off because the band jams for an extra minute and they are great.  The guitarist plays a sick solo and then the band plays a gentle little jam to close out the show.

[READ: January 29, 2017] “Happyland”

This story behind this story is pretty fascinating.  Essentially he was inspired by the life of the American Girls creator Pleasant Rowland.  Although as he puts it in the introduction to the eventually-published book in 2013 (he wrote it in 2003), “I didn’t mean to write anything remotely controversial. A former doll and children’s book mogul started buying up property in a small town and the town got mad.  Wouldn’t this make a good novel, people kept asking me?”

He had friends who lived in the town that Pleasant was buying property in and told them not to send him any information about the story.  He didn’t want to write the story of Pleasant, he wanted to take that idea and write the story of Happy Masters a woman with a similar career but clearly a very different woman altogether.  He says, “To this day I know nothing of the real [doll mogul] that I didn’t learn over the phone, from lawyers.”

The original publisher, fearing imaginary unthreatened lawsuits, dropped the book.  As for the mogul herself she had no intention to sue. (more…)

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The cover during Phish’s 2014 concert was of this album.

Apparently many people grew up with this record.  I personally didn’t know it, but if you read the comments (don’t read the comments!) on any YouTube clip of the album you will see how popular it is.

Wikipedia describes it as  intended for “older children, teenagers, and adults” released by Disneyland Records (now known as Walt Disney Records). The album was mainly composed of sound effects that had been collected by the sound effects department of Walt Disney Studios. The album was released in several different forms. The album was first released in 1964 in a white sleeve, with a second release in 1973 with an orange sleeve. In both versions, the first side contained 10 stories narrated by Laura Olsher, complete with sound effects. The second side contained 10 sound effects meant for others to create their own stories.

Despite the title, most of the cuts had nothing to do with haunted houses or witches or ghostly spirits. Featured were such situations as an ocean liner hitting rocks, an idiotic lumberjack, a man crossing an unsafe bridge, someone lighting a stick of dynamite and a spaceship landing on Mars. Also, there are tracks with several examples of cats, dogs and birds (similar to “The Birds”) becoming enraged for some reason, as well as a skit about Chinese water torture. In addition, some of the screams were taken directly from the scene where Miss Havisham catches fire in the 1946 David Lean film Great Expectations.

The full track listing is

  • “The Haunted House” 3:00
  • “The Very Long Fuse” 1:28
  • “The Dogs” 1:13
  • “Timber” 1:45
  • “Your Pet Cat” 0:49
  • “Shipwreck” 1:39
  • “The Unsafe Bridge” 1:21
  • “Chinese Water Torture” 2:02
  • “The Birds” 0:46
  • “The Martian Monsters” 1:41
  • “Screams and Groans” 0:57
  • “Thunder, Lightning and Rain” 2:01
  • “Cat Fight” 0:37
  • “Dogs” 0:48
  • “A Collection Of Creaks” 1:54
  • “Fuses and Explosions” 1:11
  • “A Collection Of Crashes” 0:45
  • “Birds” 0:33
  • “Drips and Splashes” 1:18
  • “Things In Space” 0:53

Nothing is especially scary–although maybe for a kid, as many adults claim to have been really frightened by it.  Everything is quite over the top, especially the screams and cat howls and dog snarling.  Even the stories are a little silly, although having them in the second person is pretty genius.

But things like “one night as you lie in your lonely room in your stone hut on the moors…”  (What?).  And the Martian one.  Just keeping with continuity: if “you,” meaning me, went on the trip, then I couldn’t hear the crunching as it ate me.  Or the silly voice saying “I wonder what that was.”

And the less said about the horribly racist Chinese Water Torture the better.  I mean, the opening is bad enough: “The ancient Chinese were a very clever race” but the end of the song is really awful.  But if we can look past that, the rest of the record has fun with sound effects and is generally pretty enjoyable.

During the John Congleton interview, he also talks about this album and says (at 40:28) “the speakers are 180 degrees out of phase to make it sound extremely stereophonic.”  He says now as an engineer it is totally painful to listen to.  Bob says it sounds like it comes from the back of your head.

[READ: October 15, 2017] Half-Minute Horrors.

The premise of this book (edited by Susan Rich) is simple: how scared can you get in 30 seconds?  To me, the answer is actually not very.  I guess for me fear builds over time.  It’s hard to get genuinely frightened over something that just suddenly happens (unless it is just trying to frighten you quickly, of course).

Having said that, I enjoyed this book a lot (look at the list of authors!).  I liked the arbitrary goal of writing a scary story in a paragraph or two (or more).  And some of them were really quite creepy.

I was originally going to point out which ones I felt were the most creepy, but there are so many stories, I kind of lost track.  So instead, here’s a rundown and a brief summary. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-The White Tape (1986) (1998).

Phish (also known as The White Tape) is a self-produced album released by the American rock band Phish on cassette in 1986. Often cited as the first Phish “album”, The White Tape was originally a collection of original material that the band used as a demo/sample tape for venues, and was sometimes labelled “Phish”

This release is largely kind of goofy, although there are lots of kernels of songs and indeed songs that are still played today.  As Wikipedia puts it: “The album also contains avant-garde experimental pieces, instrumental passages, electronic noises and studio trickery.

“Alumni Blues” sounds kind of slapdash (at least the lyrics) and demo-y (almost a generic blues) but overall very much like a full song.  There’s some great bass lines and solid guitar.  It’s got some crazy nonsensical percussion and crickets at the end of the song.  “And So to Bed” is a very pretty guitar instrumental with lots of pretty ringing chords (it could be a Led Zeppelin song but clearly isn’t).

“You Enjoy Myself” is a one minute a capella version of the melody of YEM, it’s beautiful and weird at the same time with lots of pitch shifting on the voices.

“AC/DC Bag” is a weird, early song (that doesn’t make much sense outside of the “Gamehendge” story).  This version is very slow and kind of loungey (especially the way Trey sings the chorus).  but al of the main parts are there just like they still are today.  The rather surprising “Fuck Your Face” is a wild guitar solo (reminiscent of something Zappa might do) in 17/4 time signature.  It was done entirely by Mike Gordon (who sounds like he’s 12 years old). It ends with this declaration: “Hi, I’m Bill I was the one who the did the cover art for the Stones’ Sucking in the 70s LP.”

“Divided Sky” is an 1 minute introduction to the song played on acoustic guitar (presumably 12 strings) and xylophone.

  “Slave to the Traffic Light” is an unusual version of the song—it’s less fluid than later versions.  The opening is done on that acoustic guitar again and it’s not instantly recognizable as “Slave.”  But the voices are kind of silly.  Not that the song is serious, but it makes it even less so.

“Aftermath” starts with some crazy noises. It sounds like pure studio trickery until it resolves into a very pretty guitar instrumental.   “Ingest,” meanwhile, is the song of weird effects a weird synth with sampled laughter—pure nonsense (and not credited to anyone).

“NO2″ is more nonsense—credited to Mike–this time keyboard effects making it sound like a dentist’s office.  It’s about 5 minutes of noise—hard to listen to more than once.  However, it ends with 2 minutes of beautiful almost Spanish style acoustic guitar.  It segues into “Fluff’s Travels” which doesn’t really seem to have much to do with the “Fluff’s Travels” that appears on Junta.  This one is 90 seconds of slightly disorienting playing and odd-sounding operatic vocals.

I didn’t realize “Dog Gone Dog” which has since become known as “Dog Log” was quite so old.  It sounds like a live version here–bot too different from later version except for the synth sounds.  “He Ent to the Bog” is an even weirder Mike Gordon piece than the other weird song, with sampled words, crazy noises and then a series of really bad jokes about hamburgers told by an unspecified woman (including a joke that name checks Farah Fawcett-Majors).  And it’s nearly 4 minutes long.

“Run Like an Antelope” is an interesting version—with a jaunty bouncy folkie introduction (much bouncier than the recorded version).  There’s some wild soloing in the middle of the 7 minutes.  The spoken word nonsense is done very quickly.  There’s also cheers from some other album tacked on.

Mike’s last contribution is the bizarre (clearly Mike is the weird one in the band) “Minkin” a jazzy peace that is mostly a spoken word “infomercial” piece about painter Marjorie Minkin (who is Mike’s mother).  It’s much funnier knowing that she is actually Mike’s mom.

“Letter to Jimmy Page” is an electric guitar workout, but it’s only a minute and could be longer.

Only “Alumni Blues”, “AC/DC Bag”, “Slave To The Traffic Light” and “Dog Gone Dog” (a.k.a. “Dog Log”) have the four band members together.  And Trey wrote everything except the few Gordon pieces.

[READ: November 22, 2016] The Man Who Danced with Dolls

Back in 2014, I ordered all 16 books from Madras Press. believing that I’d been told about a cool gem of a publisher.  And I had been. Unfortunately, after publishing the 16 books they seem to have gone out of business or so. They still have a web presence where you can buy remaining copies of books.  But what a great business idea this is/was

Madras Press publishes limited-edition short stories and novella-length booklets and distributes the proceeds to a growing list of non-profit organizations chosen by our authors.  The format of our books provides readers with the opportunity to experience stories on their own, with no advertisements or miscellaneous stuff surrounding them.

For this particular book, proceeds to benefit the New Hanover Humane Society.

The story opens with a man reflecting back on visiting his grandparents.  He is a translator and has become one most likely because his grandfather insisted that he learn German.  Since the boy’s father was more interested in learning French, his grandfather insisted on German.  So he learned fascinating words like

  • gurtmuffel: someone who doesn’t wear their seatbelt and
  • fensterln: for someone to go through a window to make love to their sweetheart while her family doesn’t know anything.

His grandfather developed brain cancer and the first thing that went was his ability to recall these unusual words. (more…)

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