Archive for the ‘Doctor Who’ Category

extremeSOUNDTRACK: QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE-…Like Clockwork (2013).

qotsa I have loved the earlier QOTSA albums, but I just couldn’t get into this one when it came out.  Perhaps it was too…subtle?  I put it aside, heard everyone rave about it and kind of forgot about it.  Well, I recently rediscovered it and now I get it.  It is just as good and complex as everyone said–I think I was just missing the subtleties, yes.

It’s still very QOTSA–Josh Homme is Josh Homme after all, but there are added elements–pianos, strings (!) and slower sections that add depth and bring really interesting sonic textures to their sound that make this album far more complex but no less sleazy fun.

The roaring sounds that are the guitars of “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” (accompanied by that bottom heavy bass are just fantastic.  “I Sat By the Ocean” has a chorus that goes from good to great when it builds to a second set of chords–it’s really irresistible.  I recall being surprised by the ballad “The Vampyre of Time and Memory.” Okay not a ballad exactly but a piano intro that turns into a classic rocker (complete with lengthy guitar solo).

“If I Had a Tail” is a wonderfully sleazy track with a great riff and a great sound.  It’s also got some of the more unusual lyrics I’ve heard–“If I had a tail, I’d own the place.  If I had a tail I’d swat the flies.”  It’s followed by “My God is the Sun” another great riff-based song where Homme’s falsetto is just another catchy element of the song.  It also has another great chorus (why didn’t I like this album last year?).

“Kalopsia” slows the disc down quite a lot–it’s a pretty, gentle song.  Until you get used to it being a mellow song and then it turns into a real rocker (and back again).  “Fairweather Friends” has another great riff and a funny ending with Homme cutting off his chorus and saying “I don’t give a shit about them anyway.”  “Smooth Sailing” reintroduces that sleazy falsetto.  It has a (another) great chorus and an amazing guitar riff that is slowly manipulated into sounding really alien.  It’s very cool.

Most of the songs are pretty standard length, but the final two songs really stretch out.  “I Appear Missing” pushes 6 minutes and has some slower elements, and a great guitar section that connects them all.  The five and a half-minute “Like Clockwork” also starts with a lengthy piano intro and then morphs into another classic rock soloing type song.

It’s one of the best albums of 2013 that I didn’t realize until 2014.  I do wish they lyrics sheet was included as I’m not really sure what he’s saying half the time, and I’m not sure if my guesses make any more or less sense than the actual words.

[READ: September 2014] The Extreme Life of the Sea

I saw this book when I took a tour of the Princeton University Press building.  I loved the cover and thought it seemed like a really interesting topic.  I was later pretty delighted to see it on display in my local library, where I grabbed this copy.

The book is small, but I was a little daunted by the tiny print size (old age or laziness?).  Nevertheless, I was quite interested in the subject, so I pressed on.

Interestingly, a lot of the information that I read in the book, my nine-year old son also knew about–he loves this kind of scary undersea information.  The difference here is that the Palumbis (a father and son team–Stephen is a Professor of Biology, Anthony is a science writer and novelist) write for adults and include a lot of the scientific information to support and explain all the stuff that my son knows–although he knew a surprising amount of detail as well.

And the writing was really enjoyable too.  Anthony knows how to tell a story.  The Prologue itself–about the battle between sperm whale and giant squid–is quite compellingly told.  And whenever an actual creature is involved–he engages us with the creature’s life cycle. (more…)

Read Full Post »

makegoodartSOUNDTRACK: AMANDA PALMER: The Art of Asking (TED Talk, February 2013).

palmerAmanda Palmer is Neil Gaiman’s wife.  She was the singer in The Dresden Dolls and has a solo career.  I actually don’t know that much about her music.

But I linked to this TED speech after reading Gaiman’s book.

In this talk, Palmer talks about asking for things and how it’s hard to ask, to beg., but how it makes for a real connection, especially between musicians and fans.

And she talks about crowdfunding–she’s going to give away all of her music but she’s asking for help from fans along the way.

It’s a pretty inspirational talk–how asking for things helps you connect with people.  It also made me feel a lot better about Palmer, who I’d heard negative things about.

Check it out here.

[READ: June 5, 2013] Make Good Art

As with David Foster Wallace’s This is Water, this book is a short speech padded out to 80 some pages. The difference is that while This is Water is a rather boring-looking book, this title was designed by Chip Kidd, fabulous designer extraordinaire.  So every page looks interesting.  It’s not so much illustration as design—with shapes and text twirling and twisting upside down and what have you.

As with most inspirational works, this book is indeed inspirational.  But it is especially so if you are an artist or an aspiring artist.  Because this speech was given to the graduating class of Philadelphia’s University of the Arts in May 2012.  You can watch the whole speech here as well.  http://vimeo.com/42372767

Gaiman explains how he never went to college and never even really had a career, he just had a list of  things that he wanted to do: write an adult novel, a children’s novel, a comic, a movie record an audiobook, write an episode of Doctor Who.  And how he set about achieving these things is pretty great.

So some advice from Gaiman:

1. It’s better not to know the rules so that you’re not afraid to go beyond them.  If you don’t know something is impossible, it’s easier to do. (more…)

Read Full Post »