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Archive for the ‘Dwarfs’ Category

SOUNDTRACK:  hiatus

[READ: December 16, 2021] “The Dwarf in the Television Set”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my seventh time reading the Calendar.  The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check this link where editor Alberto Manguel is providing daily commentary on each of the stories he selected for this year’s calendar.

This story made me a little uncomfortable because of the whole “dwarf in the television set” aspect.  Manguel describes it as a fantastic farce, but the whole thing felt weird and unfunny.  Maybe I would have thought it was funny if I read it when it came out.

The dwarf lives inside a gigantic color TV.  The TV is owned by Gastão (who owns a department store with many TVs). (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: October 2021] Three Hearts and Three Lions

Every since I signed up for Chirp audio books, I’ve been able to really indulge my love of Bronson Pinchot as a reader.

I bought this book without knowing much about it.  I basically make sure that the books aren’t war books, because I don’t care about that subject, and if it’s not, then I’m on board.

This book was a cool sci-fi fantasy story by an author whom I had heard of but didn’t know anything about.  Imagine my surprise to find out that book was initially written in 1953 as a novella and expanded into a novel for 1961!  I was especially surprised because there is some serious science a the book opens which seemed far more contemporary.

Holger Carlsen is an engineer.  The prologue of the story shows him working in an engineering department and talking about science-y stuff.  The story is about Carlsen, but told from a different point of view.  Pinchot gets to use a Danish accent for all of his speaking parts.

The narrator talks about what happens as if it is not believable but that he is going to relate the story anyway: “Holger’s tale does not seem altogether impossible to me. Not that I claim it’s true.”  He says that Carlsen was generally well-liked and respected.  And this is his story.

Carlsen decided to join the Danish resistance in fighting Nazis in WWII.  The fighting is going well, and the American forces are known to be coming.  But Holger is shot.  He wakes up naked in an unfamiliar place.

He looks around.  Things seem normal, although he can’t explain his nakedness.  He wanders around and finds a horse who is not afraid of him.  He also finds a cottage that has clothes which fit him,  Things seem off somehow, though, and he genuinely can’t get his bearings.

Soon enough he meets an old woman who claims to be a witch. She speaks a language he doesn’t know and yet he understands her.  Through a drawn out discussion and some revelations, he realizes that he is kind of a medieval knight and he sees a shield emblazoned with three hearts and three lions. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: Fall 2021] Men at Arms

The Watch is back and it’s getting bigger.

And they are going to have to deal with another person who is trying to oust Patrician Vetinari.  This time the person in question is Edward D’eath a high ranking member of the Assassins Guild. D’eath has been doing genealogical research and he believes that Corporal Carrot might be the rightful heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork–the throne which even Lord Vetinari won’t sit on (but won’t remove either).

Meanwhile, Captain Sam Vimes is about to be married to Lady Sybil Ramkin (I can’t believe that the Vimes /Lady Sybil relationship was settled after just one book!)

Sam is delighted with Sybil, but he hates just about everything else about the upcoming marriage.  He hates that Sybil is one of the richest women in Ankh-Morpork.  He hates hobnobbing with the other rich people in the city (Sybil is really very different from everyone else, which is why he loves her). He is even rather uncomfortable with just how rich Sybil is.  There’s a very spot-on argument about how rich people even save money when they buy expensive things.  For instance, the average cop can’t afford to buy expensive shoes that last.  So instead he has to buy cheap shoed that wear out quickly.  Then he has to buy another pair.  And then another pair.  Three $20 pairs that don’t last as long as one $50 pair.

The worst thing for Sam is that he really doesn’t want to give up being a cop.  Well, maybe he kind of does, but it’s all he knows.  And he knows that he’ll miss it.  Even if things are changing around him. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: September 2021] Guards! Guards!

This was the first Discworld book that I felt like I really remembered things from it.  Did I ever even read the other books?  I have no idea now.

Every thing about Captain Vimes was familiar (although I didn’t remember details).  But I was really surprised to discover that his relationship with Lady Sybil Ramkin started in his first book.  It’s also the introduction of Corporal Carrot.  I was really surprised that all of these important events happened in this first book about the Watch.

This book is one of many in which a plot to overthrow Lord Vetinari is paramount to the action.  The Unique and Supreme Lodge of the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night want to institute a puppet king in place of Lord Vetinari.  The Brotherhood is a hilariously bumbling group all bent on secret signs and meanings.  But the head of the Brotherhood (lupine Wonse) is quite serious.  And he has taken a book from the Library (The Librarian is going to be so mad) which shows him how to summon dragons.

Now dragons do exist on the Disc.  Indeed, Lady Sybil is the head of the swamp dragon rescue society (they’re not just for Christmas, they are for life).  But swamp dragons are tiny and cute(ish) and harmless(ish).  And the dragon that the Brotherhood has summoned is a massive beast that is capable of burning down a building (before it even gets strong).

But what does the dragon have to do with anything?  Well, the Brotherhood has a puppet king in mind, a guy who can come in and “slay” their dragon just like a king.

But the guards of the title are aware that something is not right in Ankh-Morpork.  Well, nothing is every right in Ankh-Morpork, but this wrongness is different. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: AILBHE REDDY-“Distrust” (2016).

I found this song from, of all things, a redbull website listing up and coming Irish bands.  It says that this song has been streamed over 3 million times.

This song opens with otherworldy “oohs” before a jagged, slapped guitar melody enters the song.  The guitar feels like it ends too abruptly.  It ‘s a very cool hook.  Especially for a song that is a total kiss-off song like this one.

Over the course of three and a half minutes more and more is added to the song–an insistent bass, drums, more backing vocals and even a violin.  But that persistent guitar runs through the whole song.  As does Ailbhe Reddy’s voice which is clean and piercing.  She speak-sings in the beginning, but when the chorus comes in, her voice is in full power. 

The song soars by the end, as does her voice.  

In the video, she stands absolutely still and strong as the room she is in falls apart around her.  

Reddy has a full album coming out next month. This song isn’t on it, but her new song “Looking Happy” is a real rocker (with a cool video). 

[READ: September 19, 2020] No Country for Old Gnomes

I really enjoyed the first book in the series–Kill the Farm Boy.  I was really looking forward to reading the continuing efforts of the heroes of Pell.

So I was a little surprised to learn that this book has almost nothing to do with the first one.  It’s set in the same place (with the same map up front) and the world remains the same, but this book follows the exploits of a completely different band of accidental warriors. 

That was a little disappointing at first (I miss Fia and Agrabella) but Dawson & Hearne have created a brand new band of travelers who are just as interesting and compelling as the first bunch. All of the characters from the first book make cameos, but they are brief.  The only characters from the first book that have any regular work are King Gustave and Grinda the Sand Witch.

But this book is exciting and funny and in the same vein as the first while being very different as well.  It is full of puns and jokes and twists on fantasy novels all while fleshing out the world that was created in book one (and making great use of the map that’s on the first page).

The book opens with three witches (not Grinda) and a cauldron.  I love a spoof of this scene and this one is especially good.  Two of the witches are casting a spell to help the Bruding Boars win their jousting competition.  But they needed a third so they put an ad on Ye Olde Meet-Up Bulletin Boarde. This third with (who looked quite different from her picture) had a very different spell in mind.

The third witch disappeared after casting a spell full of blood and seeming to be against gnomes.  But, really, who cared about gnomes.

Neither noticed the surfeit of portent in the air, wafting from the coppery-smelling cave, probably because the second witch smelled so strongly of cat urine.
But the portent was there nonetheless.

The book shifts to the Numminen family of gnomes.  Gnomes are generally smöl (ha!) and cheerful. The two sons Onni and Offi are fighting about Offi’s lack of gnomeric behavior.  Offi likes wearing cardigans that are black and covered in bats (gnome cardigans should be bright and cheerful).  So, yes, Offi is a goth gnome.  Whereas Onni is a perfect gnome who wins award for his gnomeric behavior. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: COURTNEY MARIE ANDREWS-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #68 (August 20, 2020).

Courtney Marie Andrews annoys me because she is not Courtney Barnett.  So whenever a DJ says Courtney, I hope it’s Barnett.  Sometimes it is and sometimes it’s this country singer.

Courtney Marie Andrews seems like a nice enough person but her music is on the wrong side of country for me.

She opens this set with “Burlap String.”  Paul Defiglia plays upright bass and Mat Davidson (aka Twain) adds pedal steel.  In this song

Andrews sings about the fear of love. “I’ve grown cautious, I’ve grown up / I’m a skeptic of love / Don’t wanna lose what I might find.” Yet, “Burlap String” is also a song about how love’s memory lingers, and how the mind rekindles its beauty.

Defiglia leaves after the song.

The blurb says that Andrews is only 29 and she’s been playing for ten years.  She has a new album and WXPN has been playing “It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault” a bunch.  It’s a bouncy song that seems to be full of sadness.

For “If I Told,” which she calls a modern day love song, Davidson switches to the Wurlizer.  Andrews sings a bit of yodel in the chorus.  It’s a catchy moment.

The set ends with Courtney alone at the Wurlitzer, singing “Ships in the Night” the final song on her seventh album, Old Flowers.  It is about lost love and hoping for closure with fondness.

Courtney Marie’s voice is powerful but it’s not my thing.

[READ: August 1, 2020] Kill the Farm Boy

I saw a review for the second book in this series (which has just come out) and it sounded pretty great.  So I looked up the first one only to find out that Dawson and Hearne are both authors with other series to their names.  Dawson has written The Shadow Series (as Lila Bowen), The Hit Series and The Blud Series.  Meanwhile, Hearne has written The Iron Druid Series and Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries.  They’ve also written single volumes of things too.  So they are well known in the fantasy realm.

The acknowledgments say that they met up in the Dallas Fort Worth airport at the barbecue joint (I have eaten there and it was tremendous).  They waited for their flight and discussed killing the farm boy, or in other words, making fun of white male power fantasies that usually involve a kid in a rural area rising to power in the empire after he loses his parents.  They found that skewering topics was fun and decided to write the book together.

So in the land of Pell we meet a farm boy named Worstley.  He cleaned up the goats.  And one goat, Gus, was especially ornery.  One night while Worstley was mucking out the area, a fairy entered the room.  She was haggard and dressed crazily with one sock on and her pants falling off. But the fairly quickly corrected any thoughts about her being a proper fairy by saying she was a pixie and her name was Staph.  She was there to anoint the chosen One.

To prove her magic she pointed at Gus and magicked him into talking.  The first thing Gus said was that his name was Gustave and he called Worstley “Pooboy.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TWIN PEAKS-“Spiders (Kidsmoke)” (from WILCOvered, UNCUT Magazine November 2019).

The November 2019 issue of UNCUT magazine had a cover story about Wilco.  It included a 17 track CD of bands covering Wilco (called WILcovered or WILCOvered).  I really enjoyed this collection and knew most of the artists on it already, so I’m going through the songs one at a time.

This was the last song on this compilation and it’s my favorite.

There’s a lot of Wilco songs that I like and “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” is way at the top.  The song is really long and doesn’t change a lot but the changes are fantastic.  One of the great things about the song is Nels Cline’s insane guitar work throughout–noisy and seemingly uncontrolled, but somehow fitting in perfectly with the 1-2-3- bass line.

This version by Twin Peaks is as good, if not slightly better than the original.  I say that because the band sounds a little fuller during the verses which I like (although it does make the change to the noisier section less dramatic).  And Nels Cline;s guitar work is more interesting than the Twin Peaks version–although they do some cool things too.

I think Twin Peaks has a bit more of the heavy alternative sound the I like.  The vocals are great, the guitars are great.  I’ve now listened to both versions back to back and I like them both!

This cover actually made me investigate Twin Peaks more and I was bummed to find out that they had just played a show in our area after I had listened to this song.

Next time!

[READ: February 20, 2020] Princeless: Volume 5

This book opens with Adrienne and Bedelia enjoying a cleansing bath in a lake (I assume).  While they are getting clean, Adrienne mourns the state of her hair.  How often she has tried to straighten and control the knotty curls on her head.  And after some serious thought, she has Bedelia shave it all off.  I love that when she pops out of the water newly shorn, she looks gorgeous–well done Emily Martin.  On a less great note, there’s a scene in the water where Bedelia, who is a strong and rugged half-dwarf lets not forget, is drawn with a waist that would be about 10 inches across in real life–bad form Emily Martin.

In book two, Devin and Kira are trotting along (with the tough Kira getting nauseous on the back of a horse).  When suddenly Kira smells… an elf.  And it is her duty to kill it.  Kira dives on the elf’s travelling companion, who is Prince Wilcome.  The elf, named Tempest, quickly disarms Devin and takes his sword.  They are at an impasse.

Next we jump to the dwarf kingdom.  There are two male guards out front discussing music and almost come to blows during their argument, calling each other girlie and arguing which one is the real man.  But when another dwarf comes along shouting Dragon, we find out that the dwarf dragon slayers are all women.  They prep themselves and get ready to make dragon stew.  After a kiss between Benna and Gretta they fling the dwarfs through the air from a catapult. (more…)

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