Archive for the ‘The Colbert Report’ Category

stuffedSOUNDTRACK: BIO RITMO-Tiny Desk Concert #392 (September 29, 2014).

bioritBio Ritmo is a nine-piece band that has played salsa music for 23 years (as of 2014).  The back beat and rhythm is pure salsa–there’s a drummer (who has that classic salsa drum sound) and two bongo players.  There’s shakers and scrapers and timbales and congas and a cowbell.

The four horns players (two trumpets, sax and trombone) punctuate all o the right notes to get you moving along.

The first song is “La Via.”  The main driving force seems to be the keyboard, which was unexpected–it adds a kind of Latin jazz feel to the proceedings.  I love the way the keyboards shift from a Latin feel to a more groovy 70s feel before the vocals start.  There’s a cool break in the middle of the song when it stops and we get a few pounding notes before the song resumes.  Classic salsa.

“Picaresca”has fun dancey rhythm and a lengthy trumpet solo, giving it another interesting salsa/jazz feel.  The keyboard solo sounds a little cheesey here–like they need better sounds on that program, but it’s the drums “solo” in the middle that makes this song so much fun.  It’s a great instrumental.

“Perdido” goes through many different genres.  He explains that it begins like a Puerto Rican dance from the 1800s and then goes “into other stuff.”  The opening does indeed sound like an old song and after a few verses it morphs into modern salsa once again.

I really enjoyed this set a lot.  Most salsa music sounds the same to me, but I really like it when I hear it. On the downside, this is the first Tiny Desk Concert where I felt like the band wasn’t mic’d effectively.  The vocals are really quiet (almost inaudible at times), and when the trombonist does a solo it’s also a little too quiet.  But the main focus is the percussion and that’s plenty loud!

[READ: May 10, 2016] Stuffed

I have had to interlibrary loan a lot of the rest of the First Second books because my library system doesn’t have them.  Usually if a library doesn’t have an older book it’s because not many people read it any more so they got rid of it.  That doesn’t necessarily mean the book is bad, but it doesn’t  give you a ton of confidence about it.  But this book defied every expectation and wound up being outstanding!

I assumed this title would be a cautionary tale about someone eating too much.  I had no idea what I was actually in for!

As the book opens, we meet Tim. He works for a benefits department of an insurance company (it sounds awful).  He gets a call that his father is dying.  He rushes to the hospital just in time  to see his father insult him once more before breathing his last.  His father’s estate is to be split between himself and his half-brother, Ollie.  No one has seen Ollie in ages.  When they do track him down, he is now known as “Free Spirit.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PAVEMENT-“Gold Soundz” live on the Colbert Report (2010).

Philistine alert: I never loved Pavement.

Yeah, let that sink in.  It’s shocking, I know.  I have liked a great many of their songs, and I could definitely see myself enjoying the entirety of their new greatest hits record.  But even though I have their first three discs, and I adore them in theory, in practice I just don’t love all of their output.

When they broke up in 2000 or so I wasn’t really that bummed.  I felt they’d done a number of great (and by now) classic alt rock songs, but I didn’t really feel like music had ended or anything.

Having said that, the fact that they’ve reunited makes me happy.  It’s nice to see yet another “classic” alt rock band banging out some tunes together.  And, in this case, it means that I get to hear them play a great classic track live on The Colbert Report.

This song is a kind of The Platonic Form of Pavement songs.  It features everything: noisy guitars, vocals that go from mid-range to high pitched with almost no warning, inscrutable lyrics and, in spite of itself, a catchy liquid center. I’ve never seen them live (and I missed a chance in Central Park recently, sorry Al) but this clip sure makes me think they’d be a great show to see.

And who knows, maybe I’ll have to actually get Terror Twilight.

Colbert’s interview with Stephen Malkmus is hilarious, too.

[READ: September 20, 2010] “Bodies”

As with a previous time that I scoured a New Yorker back issue, I found a short story that came directly after the article I wanted.  The name Jessica Shattuck sounded familiar (and her debut novel The Hazards of Good Breeding also rang a bell), but apparently I’d never read her before.

This story opens with a woman named Anna who we learn has recently been diagnosed with Stage III Hodgkins lymphoma.   She is currently living in her bosses’ house with her boss’ husband and five-year old son.  The arrangement is not ideal, but Anna had nowhere else to turn.  And, since she is not working, while she is recovering she is acting as the boy’s nanny (the boss is away a lot and the husband spends much of his time working out).

She is beginning to feel better, stronger, and is even feeling confident enough to leave the house for a little while.  And so, to me, the last thing I expected was for this story to grow sexual.  And yet it does. (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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tekSOUNDTRACK: RUSH-Retrospective 3 (2009).

retro 3This disc filled a hole that the public had been really clamoring for: a collection of the most popular songs by Rush from the 1990s until today.  [cue crickets chirping]. Okay so this period isn’t exactly the best selling Rush era, and many people probably didn’t even know that they were still around (they weren’t for a while, but then they came back with an amazing vengeance).

Back in the 1980s I was a huge Rush fan. They were hands down my favorite band. I don’t like them any less than I used to, I just like a lot of other bands more now.  And yet this era of Rush’s music has some of my favorite of their songs, and they’re pretty much all here.

Disc One is a selection of tracks and Disc Two is a DVD of all of their videos. Perhaps the most interesting thing to me is that if you compare the videos track list to the audio tracklist, they don’t jibe as much as you might think.  This leads me to believe that the band doesn’t think that their original singles were the best songs from the discs (and I agree, I think the track listing of the CD is much stronger than that of the videos).

Presto is one of my favorite discs of this era, as are their two most recent releases Vapor Trails and Snakes and ArrowsTest for Echo, on the other hand is one of my least favorite discs of theirs.  The last time I listened to it I thought it was pretty terrible (and yet I am very surprised to see how well liked it is by Rush fans in general).  Nevertheless, all of these discs are well represented here.

And speaking of their videos, I have to say that Rush has some of the w(and every one was directed by someone different it seems) they’re just terrible.  They always seem to have a “plot” of some sort, yet it is elliptical and lacking in specifics.  It frequently involves a teenaged boy, often shirtless, in some kind of peril.  The only parts I like are the band scenes, because it’s fun to see a) Alex’s hair b) Geddy’s hair and c) Neil’s scowl.

One of the major selling points of this disc is that the two tracks from Vapor Trails are remixed.  Anyone who knows Rush knows that their releases are definitive.  You don’t get remixes or even B-sides out of this band.  So for them to release a different version of these songs is pretty amazing.  I wonder what’s up with that.  Research suggests that the band was never happy with the quality of Vapor Trails, and there are rumblings that they’d like to remix the whole disc.  I hope they do, as these sound great.

But the real selling point is the bonus video: a live interview/recording from The Colbert Report.  As I mention below, I simply don’t watch the Report as often as I ought, so I had no idea the band was even on.  I wish that Colbert had let them speak a little bit more, even if the fawning and funny questions are really great and show what a sense of humor the band has (as does the “cheering fans” that Alex has on his board).  And “Tom Sawyer” (which, I get as it’s their hugest song, but really they had to play a song that’s 27 years old?) sounds great.  And they clearly have fun with it.

If you’re on the fence about getting this disc, those two items should convince you to pick it up.

[READ: June 30, 2009] Tek Jansen

I enjoy the Colbert Report.  Quite a lot.  And yet, I don’t watch it very often.  I find the idea of committing to a daily show (like The Daily Show) is just impractical.  And so, even though Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are queued up on my TiVo, I rarely have the time to watch them.

And so, it was news to me that Colbert had the character of Tek Jansen on his show. I heard about this series via Oni (who publishes it, and all good comics).  I also just learned, (thanks Wikipedia) that there are animated shorts of this character which I must track down.  In fact, heck, for the hilarious background of the origin of this comic, just read this. (more…)

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