Archive for the ‘The Princess Bride’ 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…)

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harpersaugSOUNDTRACK: SONIC YOUTH-Confusion is Sex (1983).

confusionOn the Sonic Death album, a collection of live recordings from 1981-83, Thurston mentions that they are touring with the Swans, a New York City doom and gloom band of thunderous proportions.  [This was before the Swans put out their first album, an incredibly slow, bass heavy bombastic disc of nihilism.  I can only imagine how raw they were BEFORE that one.]  Anyhow, that explains somewhat why this disc sounds like it does…if they were a part of a scene with the Swans, then their music would naturally be all about notes, not necessarily music.

There’s a lot of slow, brooding pieces on this disc.  The bass is heavy and rather ponderous, and the vocals are pretty scary.  Although the inclusion of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” is an interesting cover choice.  The guitars are angular and quite harsh.  “Confusion is Next” is a stark song sung by Thurston and “Making the Nature Scene” is a similarly stark song sung by Kim.  These two tracks show that the disc is not all one style.  But the overall theme is consistent all the way through.

Later on, Sonic Youth would sound angry but it was often directed at something.  On this one they just sound angry.  Confusion is Sex is an interesting stepping stone to some really amazing Sonic Youth discs that will appear shortly. You can tell that they’re in there somewhere!

The remastered disc adds the Kill YR Idols EP which is more of the same.  But the live recording of “Shaking Hell” just goes to show how freaking scary a SY show must have been back then.  It also confirms anyone’s suspicion that the scariest member of the band was definitely Kim Gordon!

[READ: July 18, 2009] “Is Sex Interesting?”

Wallace Shawn is best known for a lot of things.  He was the “Inconceivable” guy in The Princess Bride, he is the voice of Rex in the Toy Story films, and he is the star and writer of My Dinner with Andre (among many other things).

I enjoyed My Dinner with Andre, both reading and watching it, and I rather enjoy reading what Wallace Shawn has to write.  So, I was pretty excited to read this which comes from a collection of essays called Writing About Sex.

vazziniI can’t help but hear his voice when I read his words, which makes it sound even funnier.

He writes that he is a sixty-four year-old man, and people seem to think that he is too old to be writing about sex (which he has been doing since he was 14).   And yet he (still)  thinks that sex is interesting to write about.  And he wonders why. (more…)

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