Archive for the ‘Craig Ferguson’ Category

I’ve more or less stopped counting milestones on this site.  But today I hit a quarter of a million views.  Sure, some site get that traffic in a day, but it’s not bad for a site that’s all about the books I’ve read.









And since I’m at 250,000, here’s a snapshot of my most popular posts: (more…)

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This is not the right cover for the issue. I couldn't find it online!


I don’t often make lists of “Best” records or anything like that.  But I’m making an exception for this.  This was easily the best album that I had low expectations for.  That sounds like half a compliment but it’s not.  I really didn’t expect much from this album when Adam Goldberg promoted it on Craig Ferguson’s show.  But when I checked out the video for “Shush” I was really impressed.  So I bought the CD.

And I have to say that it is really, really good. 

I need to get this out of the way because it will influence the whole write up otherwise.  Adam Goldberg is an actor, a very good, very funny actor.  And this is just one of his music projects.  It was not an entirely solo affair, but Goldberg plays guitar, piano, harmonium, keyboards, key sitar and melodica.  And of course, he sings as well.  I was more or less expecting an at-home-sounding demo, maybe, or some standard rock-n-roll like many other side projects.  But the album is lush and full, complete with cool psychedelic effects on certain tracks and there’s even clever wordplay. 

Goldberg has a soothing, slightly feminine singing voice (I would not have expected that from his speaking voice).  And his backing vocalists really complement him well. 

The disc opens with “The Room” a simple acoustic guitar and a very nice complementary piano (which reminds me of some of Radiohead’s acoustic moments).  The long instrumental ending is quite intense.  “Mother Please (The World Is Not Our Home)” has questionable lyrics, but a really great sound.  There’s cool spoken words deep in the mix, which bring a creepy effects to the song.  It runs very long, but there’s lots of parts and a cool coda.

“Shush” is still outstanding after all of these listens.  It has a kind of Bowie/Beatles/90’s revival of same feel.  This kind of song only works if the production is right, and Goldberg’s is perfect.  “Don’t Grow” opens with cool fiddle strings and Goldberg’s slightly sinister whispered vocals.  It’s 7 minutes long (see, psychedelic) and features a really pretty denouement with tinkling pianos and everything.

“You’re Beautiful When You Die” is a weird little interlude–muffled piano and dark, dark lyrics.  I could probably do without it, but it’s only 2 minutes so I’ll deal.  It’s made up for by “Erik Erikson” a great rocking acoustic number that reminds me of The Smashing Pumpkins (in vocal style). 

“Third Person” returns to that Beatles-y style with a folk song with full instrumentation.  And “The Difference Between” has some cool backing vocals which elevate this simple piano based song into something more.  “Skin of the Patriot” is a slow piano ballad.  It’s not my favorite song on the disc, but it leads into the wonderfully upbeat ender “The Heart Grows Fonder” (which features a surprising and surprisingly effective melodica solo).  It runs about five minutes (of an 11 minute track).  The ending 90 seconds are a goofy riff on The Beatles’ “Revolution.” 

So overall this album is really enjoyable.  There’s one or two misfires and it could use a wee bit of editing, but man, am I glad I bought this.  And I can’t wait to see what Goldberg does next.

Watch the Ferguson bit here (wait for the hilarious awkward pause at 10:30)

Find out more at his wonderfully named website: Adam Goldberg Dillettante.

[READ: January 6, 2012] “Two Midnights in a Jug”

This is the final individual story that Karen Carlson recommended to me (the rest are all in anthologies that I’ll have to check out).  She writes: “Because it’s a grim, tough read, it might take a second read to get past the oppressive weight and find the delicate art. And it doesn’t hurt to look into the background of the writer a bit; he isn’t writing about these people by accident. A little Willie Nelson might work [for the soundtrack].”

Karen’s comments sound a little defensive!  But I admit I was pretty turned off in the beginning of the story.  I’ll also admit a personal bias of mine is that I don’t really like to read stories about the rural poor or folks in the Ozarks.  I know, it’s not very nice, but it’s true. 

So, this story is set there.  And it opens with just about every stereotype I hate about the region: single wide trailer that borders a hog farm, neon orange muumuus, coon hunting and a repossessed house.  Things are even worse than my stereotypes though, because the plumbing is unconnected and their toilet sits over a bucket.  Which they cover with lime after every use and which they have to empty daily.  Good god.

Oh and the hog farm?  They had so much hog shit that they decided to burn it.  Well, the fire has been raging for a month.  And the only thing worse than the smell of hog shit is the smell of burning hog shit.  And the only thing worse than burning hog shit is having the ashes from the hog shit fall onto your property and into your trailer every day for a month. 

Oh yeah, and Cordell, the man of the trailer, accidentally shot their hound, Trixie last time he was hunting.  She’s okay but had to have a leg removed.  Jee.  Sus.

I seriously almost stopped reading. (more…)

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On July 25, I reached 90,000 hits.
It took me seven months to get from 60,000 (Dec 25, 2009) to 90,000.
It took me nine months to get my first 30,000 hits.

There are some obvious contributing factors to this improvement (not the least of which is links from referrers that make absolutely no sense whatsoever (and which are pretty clearly spam, but hey, numbers are numbers, right?)  But the most obvious is the huge outcry at the failure of Scholastic to continue publishing the Ulysses Moore series.

If you Google “Ulysses Moore” I am the first post (after the official Scholastic site, Amazon, and fantasticfiction).  I have received so many comments from people who are frustrated that the can’t finish the series. It is amazing that so many voices are ignored.  As you can see, this series has garnered me 4020 views.

At 60,000 views I posted some theories as to why I thought these posts were so successful.  Since very little has changed (mostly just a little shuffle of the top ten), I won’t bother repeating that.  But, there is one post (see the bottom, hee hee) which has absolutely skyrocketed in just a few short months.

1. 4020 views posted April 25, 2009 [was #1 at 60,000: 1663 views]
Pierdomenico Baccalario–Ulysses Moore series Books 1-4
SOUNDTRACK: PEARL JAM-Vitalogy (more…)

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A few weeks ago on the Late Late Show, Craig Ferguson began inviting his guests to engage in an awkward pause with him.  Awkward pauses have been somewhat de rigeur in popular culture for a number of years now.  In fact, Ricky Gervais has pretty much built a career on them–and we have him to thank for such brilliant fare as The Office and even Modern Family.

But those sitcom awkward pauses were scripted, designed as responses to someone saying or doing something so bizarre that no response was even possible.  Craig Ferguson, who says that being Scottish has given him a lifetime of awkward pauses, is doing something a little different.  He asks his guests (most of whom are actors) to sit, silently, awkwardly with him.  Never has silence been so funny.

I think the first person I saw do this with him was Adam Greenberg (a master at awkwardness).  There have been many more since, including the awesome Lauren Graham, Topher Grace (another awkward man) and most recently John Cusack.  With Cusack, nearly the entire interview was an awkward pause, and it was hilarious (see the clip below). (more…)

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In addition to reading, Sarah and I watch TV, too.  In the past, I posted occasional updates to a Tab devoted to TV.  But I’m going to put new information in individual posts instead.  So I’m starting with this season’s TV.

Of course, in the last couple of years, TV has changed from working on an easy to summarize Spring/Fall schedule to having shows appear almost at random.   This really undermines the very idea of a “season,” so I’m including a show or two from the end of 2009 as well.

One surprising thing about recent TV is how I watch almost nothing on the CW or Fox.  These were my mainstays as recent as two years ago, but they’ve totally dropped the ball lately.  And I can’t believe how much I’m enjoying shows on CBS (isn’t that the old people’s network?).

And so, for 2010: (more…)

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