Archive for the ‘Jurassic Park’ Category


[READ: December 20, 2021] Weird Accordion to Al

After writing the “Weird Al” biography, with “Weird Al” himself, Nathan Rabin dug even deeper into his “Weird Al” fandom to write a detailed account of, as the subtitle says, “Every ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Album Analyzed in Obsessive Detail.”

“Weird Al” wrote the (short) introduction and then Nathan drops the needle on “Weird Al” Yankovic, Al’s 1983 debut album.

Nathan goes into varying degrees of detail on each of the songs.  Nathan was a rabid “Weird Al” fan from when he was a little kid.  And when he talks about how much he loves Al, you can see his deep abiding appreciation for everything Al has done.

Some songs get a paragraph, nut most get a page or so.  He usually talks about how much he likes (or loves) the song (and occasionally dislikes).  There’s nostalgia in the older songs and jokes and observations about contemporary things as well (Rabin’s politics poke through once in a while.  Good thing he’s a smart guy.

Because he did the Al biography with Al, he presumably got a lot of insight into the man and his work.  So although sometimes his insights seem like maybe he’s reading too much into a goofy parody, perhaps he’s on to things.  Maybe Al’s depth is deeper than rhyming Sharona with Bologna.  Which is not in any way to diminish Al’s intelligence.  He’s obviously very smart, especially as his later songs indicate.

Rabin’s tone throughout the book is smart and snarky.  He talks about the songs and the video (if there is one).  He talks about the production quality (or lack thereof) on the first album.  He references Dr. Demento (because the Dr is essential to Al’s career).  He also references Don DeLillo’s White Noise and says things like “Al is in deconstructionist mode.” (more…)

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lumberhjanes2 SOUNDTRACK: DIANE COFFEE-Tiny Desk Concert #483 (November 2, 2015).

dianeI first heard of Diane Coffee from NPR.  The band’s song “Spring Breathes” is bizarre and wonderful–simultaneously difficult and catchy.  I was especially excited to see them play at XPNFest, but sadly we arrived just as they finished up and I missed my opportunity to see singer Shaun Fleming all glammed up (in a sailor suit).

This Tiny Desk Concert is a bit more mellow (and acoustic), but it is hardly Tiny as there is a string trio, a drummer and a guitarist.  As well as a bassist and keyboardist in addition to Shaun Fleming with acoustic guitar and vocals (and blue eye shadow).  Fleming was the drummer in Foxygen and does a lot of voice over work.

“Spring Breathes” is not as dramatic as on the record (which has some cool electronic drops and changes of tempo). But it sounds great with the strings (I love the pizzicato parts).  This version also has a very glam-era David Bowie feel.  Fleming’s voice is great–powerful and full, completely unaffected and spot on (the part where he sings the descending riff near the end of the song is fabulous).  And the harmonies are all perfect, very 1970s.  The song retains its several parts (I love when the song shifts to a quick funky bass section) and the band handles it perfectly.

“Not That Easy” is a mellow song with Fleming singing primarily in a gentle falsetto.  It’s a fairly simple song but the joint guitar solos are really beautiful.

For something a little more upbeat, they play “Mayflower.”  Fleming doesn’t play guitar on this one, but he dances around (rather like Mick Jagger).  He is wonderfully flamboyant both in motion and in singing (he’s got a cool raspy 1970s singing style for this song). And again the harmonies are great.

He is quite out of breath after this song, which is funny. They are going to play one from their first album, a song called “Green.”   His voice sounds particularly familiar on this one–I’m thinking like when Jon Bon Jovi really belts out his lyrics–and it’s just perfect for the song.

Fleming has a charming persona.  I really enjoyed this acoustic version and I’m glad to hear that he can convert the studio magic into a live setting.

[READ: March 22, 2016] Lumberjanes 2

I love the premise behind Lumberjanes.  The Lumberjanes are a kind of Girl Scout/Wilderness Adventure group.  They have been around for a long time and the Janes must follow the manual to achieve their various badges.  I love the way the book is set up around an “actual” field manual from 1984 (tenth edition) which has been:

Prepared for the Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for [written in] HARDCORE LADY-TYPES.

I was really excited to read this second volume since I loved the first one so much.  But I was a little disappointed by this one.

I feel like we could have used a short reminder of who all the girls were–there were a couple who I couldn’t tell apart [I know if you’re reading the issues as they come out that’s not a problem, but how much work can it be for collected volumes?].

What I didn’t like was the way the story went in a totally unexpected direction.

It started promising enough with the girls’ counselor being shocked and afraid after the recent supernatural events. She wants them to just stay around the cabins and make friendship bracelets to get the Friendship to the Craft badge. (more…)

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elephantSOUNDTRACK: DAN DEACON-Tiny Desk Concert #422 (February 25, 2015).

dandeacDan Deacon is a trip and a half.  I only know him from NPR (and they love him).  He is a weird dude, that’s for sure.  He plays some super weird electronic music.  But more importantly, he really really gets the crowd into his show.  Indeed, this is one of the few Tiny Desk Concerts where the audience features more than the performer.

His opening mantra is that you will close your eyes and enter the consciousness of Martin Lawrence’s character in Bad Boys II.  This is apropos of nothing of course.

“Feel the Lightning” is amazing.  He has his synth set up to control an acoustic piano (you can see the keys playing).  Deacon plays some really catchy music (an amazing amount of noise and layers) but with a beautiful piano melody over the top.  And he sings.  But his voice is utterly and utterly processed.  There are high harmonies added to it and frankly I have no idea what he’s singing most of the time.  It’s catchy and alienating at the same time.  It’s amazing to watch the piano playing by itself–wailing–at the end.

Deacon himself is a pretty weird dude as well, as I said. He starts talking about filing down solenoids and other technical details about what he did and then he shifts gears and tells them to form a circle for a dance contest.  He prattles on and on (and is quite funny).  The contest rules: be sassy, after 5 seconds, pick the next person to go in, imagine you’re a T-Rex in Jurassic Park.

“Sheathed Wings” opens with the wrong song and then when the song proper starts the dance contest begins.  And how fun to watch the NPR staff dancing along (and to see how big their office is).

The final song “Learning to Relax” is nearly 7 minutes and it also features a group interpretive dance (with captains).  As with the previous dance off, everyone is brought out one at a time (including Bob and Robin!) for a dance off.  Always maintain eye contact with your team otherwise you won’t know if your dance moves sucks.

And while all this is going on, he’s singing along, pressing all kinds of weird (homemade) gadgets.  I love watching him “conduct” the piano during the slow part.

As the show ends, you hear Bob say it’s heart-healthy NPR (and Dan asks if there’s a shower in the building).

I don’t even have all that much to say about the music–which is hyper and dancey, but man, I’d like to see him live sometime.  It’s a show one won’t soon forget.

This is a must see.

[READ: January 6, 2015] An Elephant in the Garden

I didn’t realize until after I read this that this play was an adaptation from a novel (I’m curious to read the novel now).  Or that the novel was actually a children’s novel ( I just saw on amazon).

This is a simple story of a girl, her mother and an elephant.

As the play opens, it is 1989 and Lizzie is visiting the recently torn down Berlin Wall.  Then it flashes back to her life in Dresden.  She as born in 1929.

Set in 1945 in Dresden, Germany (yes, you know what is going to happen), Lizzie and her family are a Christian family who do not approve of Hitler or his plans.  They have relatives who support Hitler (and who blame the Jews for their losing World War I) and who call Lizzie’s father a Jew-loving pacifist (!). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: “Neverending Afro Circus” (2012).

If you’ve seen the movie Madagascar 3, you’ll recognize this song as the earworm that you will be singing all the way home.  And that your kids will no doubt be singing for days.

I actually want to jump in and say that I saw Madagascar 3 without seeing Madagascar 2 and I was quite lost (and missed a lot of in-jokes, apparently) for the first 20 or so minutes.  Who would have guessed that a kids movie could do that to you?

Anyhow, back to this song.  C. and T. love it.  And it turns out that YouTube loves it too.  There are dozens of different videos of varying lengths (from 10 seconds to 59 minutes!!) repeating this wonderful nonsense.  But for real neverending Afro Circus, please visit AfroCircus.com and see how much you can stand.

For a measly ten minute loop, please enjoy this:

[youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aELcXyjpts%5D

[READ: July 2012] Danger Guys series

We loved Droon so much we had to see what else Tony Abbott had written.

Turns out that he has written a lot of books and a bunch of series.  In addition to Droon he has written four books that are not part of any series, a series called The Haunting of Derek Stone and a brand new series called UnderWorlds.  UnderWorlds looks like a great series for C., although Haunting and the stand alone books seem like they might be a little too old for him.  He also has some older series like Don’t Touch That Remote!, Goofballs, Time Surfers and The Weird Zone.  (I think that’s all of them).

He also has this Danger Guys series, which I believe comprised his first novels.

My major complaint about the series is…why is it out of print?  Why was it so hard for me to find?  I had to do an Inter Library Loan and the copies I received were so beat up that we may wind up being the last people to read them!  This is a real shame because these books were fantastic!  The series is about two boys Noodle (the smart one) and Zeke (the athletic one).  They are best friends and do everything together.  I’m not exactly sure how old they are…I’m guessing middle school?  In each book they get into an escalating series of adventures which can be resolved by logic, brains, strength and sometimes a little luck.  The books are mildly scary (the Halloween one is the most scary but even that…not really), they’re not violent or gross, but they are full of adventure and they’re very funny (an Abbott specialty).  There were several moments that C. was laughing very hard at these.

There are six books in total in the series.  And because the books aren’t radically different from each other, I’m only going to say a few lines about each. (more…)

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