Archive for the ‘Golems’ Category


[READ: April 2022] The Truth

This story is set in Ankh-Morpork but it’s not about the Watch.  Or Lord Vetenari.  Well, it sort of is about both of them, but not really.

This story is about The Truth.  And also about a new character called William de Worde.  William is a black sheep of a famous and wealthy Ankh-Morpork family.  He has always been interested in writing and in finding the truth.

His job was to write an occasional message to various important figures around the Disc with information about what’s going on in Ankh-Morpork.  He quickly learned that he could write his message, have the Engraver’s guild print multiple copies and just change a few things for each one.  This made him a lot more money.

Then there was big news in Ankh-Morpork–the arrival of movable type from the dwarfs, particularly Gunilla Goodmountain.

William, through a series of events, inadvertently becomes the spokesperson for the movable type (even though he had nothing to do with it) and starts a newspaper. The paper is supposed to be named Ankh-Morpork Items but they get the type wrong and it became The Ankh-Morpork Times.

He is assisted by the dwarfs and Sacharissa Cripslock–a fiery reporter who proves very useful. (more…)

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[READ: March 2022] Jingo

With a title like Jingo, you know that Terry Pratchett isn’t holding back.  And indeed, this is a story about two countries fighting each other over disputed territory–and the unenlightened attitudes that people have about “foreigners.”

What is great about Pratchett is how much he is able to get his point across without being preachy.  Some of the unenlightened characters say offensive things, but they are quickly discoruaged from such attitudes–not with bludgeoning and hysteria, but with rational comments.  It’s very well done.

But what causes this trouble?  Well, out of nowhere, an island has surfaced.  The island of Leshp was submerged forever, and suddenly, it floated to the surface amid two fishermen.  Solid Jackson of Ankh-Morpork (and his long-suffering son) and Greasy Arif from Al-Khali, the Klatchian capital.  They often fought over their prey (the Curious Squid), because they sailed the same waters that were between the two countries.

While this is going on, diplomatic business is occurring in Ankh-Morpork.  The prince of Klatch, Khufurah, is in Ankh-Morpork to receive an honorary degree (Doctorum Adamus cum Flabello Dulci) in Sweet Fanny Adams.

Hostilities between A-M and Klatch are high.

Several leaders of the city are there to complain to Lord Vetenari about Klatch.  Watch Captain Sam Vimes is there to add a level head and sarcasm.  When someone complains that Klatch wouldn’t accept ten boatloads of cabbages, Vimes says out loud to himself “everyone knows caterpillars add to the flavor” and later “Meat is at its best when it’s going green.”

And of course, the Patrician knows his way around diplomacy: “it is no longer considered…nice…to send a warship … to show Johnny Foreigner the error of his ways.”

Later, the Prince meets with Vimes and asks him about the word he’s heard shouted at him: “towelhead.” (more…)

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[READ: January 2022] Feet of Clay

The Watch is back.  This story doesn’t exactly introduce Golems to the city of Ankh-Morpork.  They’ve always been there.  But this is the first time they have become a big deal.

Also a big deal? Sam Vimes.  Now that Vimes has become a Lord, it’s about time he gets a crest.  So he goes to the local keeper of the Register of Proper People: Dragon King of Arms, to see about his old family crest.

Except, as Dragon King of Arms is quick to point out, his ancestor was a regicide and they tend to frown on that sort of thing.  So it turns out that one of Vimes ancestor’s

But while Vimes is denied a crest, he is informed that his co-worker, Nobby Nobbs is actually from a learned and proper family (but Nobby is barely human!), still, there is fanciness in his blood.  He is descended from the Earl of Ankh.

Nobby is not too happy about being upper crust and spends much of the book bemoaning that he can be upper class and have no money.  When Society calls on him to come visit, he is woefully out of place and the whole dinner party is a hilarious feast for the reader. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BLEACHERS-Tiny Desk Concert #648 (September 12, 2017).

I didn’t realize that Jack Antonoff, lead singer of Bleachers, was the lead guitarist (but not singer) for the band fun.

I really don’t like the lead sax by Evan Smith on two of the songs.

I particularly don’t like the sound of the sax on “Everybody Lost Somebody.”  When the sax is gone, the song which is otherwise just piano (Mikey Hart) sounds pretty great.  Antonoff’s delivery is quite interesting on this song, it reminds me of The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle–an almost-speaking, somewhat arch style..

After the song ends, Antonoff asks, “How often you guys do this?”
Bob says, “We got another one in an hour.”
Then he continues, talking about how NPR seems like a nice place to work.

For the second song, “Don’t Take The Money,” Antonoff says: “If you ever see Bleachers live, it’s two drum sets and it’s big and it’s kinda like this big statement that I could hide behind the tears with this big rock show. But the songs are written like this.”

This is kind of funny since the drums are played on a boombox and are quite loud.  The synths really fill the room, too.  Oddly the song segues into the chorus of Queen’s “Radio Gaga.”  Of the threes songs this is my favorite.  There’s no sax and Smith is playing along on a second set of synths to really make a full sound.

My favorite part of the song is at the end when he tries to get the boom box to stop.  He hits the button (trying to get a percussive sound), but it doesn’t turn off.  He and the pianist turn it into a cool improvised ending.

He says, “that’s cool we’ve never played that song like that.  That’s how it’s meant to be.  In some ways.  That’s what I love about playing live is to trick people–trick them into getting really sweaty and then going home and having weepy moments.”

After the song, Antonoff talks about the live show.  The blurb helps out:

“My manager says, ‘When you play for 1,000 people, don’t talk to one person. It’s only cool for them,'” Antonoff said. It was offered as an apology — he had just finished aiming a monologue about the link between dancing and crying at a single NPR staffer in the audience — but it was also a perfect encapsulation of the connection Antonoff’s songs create. Bleachers makes truly conversational pop, songs that sound expansive but retain a sense of intimacy, even when aimed at the masses.

This final song is called “Foreign Girls” and he tells the band, “I guess we’ll do it… like we talked.”  The sax is back and is almost obscured by him “la la la’ing” but it does peek through.

It’s interesting hearing them like this, but I don’t know what they sound like all big and dancey, so I can’t really compare.

[READ: October 1, 2016] Ms Marvel: Super Famous

Confusingly, this book collects issues 1-6, but they are definitely not the first issues one to six.  This is a whole new story line which follows the previous books and is listed as Volume 5.  The book has three artists: Takeshi Miyazawa (issues 1-3) , Adrian Alphona (part of issue 1), and Nico Leon (issues 4-6).  And it starts off almost where the last series ended.  Except it’s 8 months later and a few things have happened.

Like Ms Marvel has officially become an Avengers (there’s a cool two page spread of them coming down the alley (although I don’t recognize some of them, actually).  And Ms Marvel is doing pretty well.  However, Kamala, the girl who is Ms. Marvel is having a hard time keeping up with schoolwork, friends and family while fighting crime at night.

Oh and somehow in the last 8 months, her best friend/crush Bruno has started dating a wicked cool girl named Mike.  How did she not notice this romance blooming?  And can she take it out on Bruno?  Well, she can until she looks up and sees her image (well Ms Marvel’s image) on a billboard.  And this has her fighting mad, even more so when she finds out who is responsible for the billboard.

Turns out it is a bunch of developers creating Hope Yards–a plan to clean up Jersey City by making it unaffordable for undesirables.  And what’s worse is that the people protesting the unannounced building of Hope Yards are naturally associating her with the project. (more…)

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vamplove SOUNDTRACK: DO MAKE SAY THINK-You, You’re a History in Rust [CST045] (2007).

rustYou, You’re a History in Rust feels very different from DMST’s previous album.  That record felt kind of insular and tight.  This one feels expansive and experimental.  Like the first song which has multiple sections that feel completely unrelated and which are only connected by silence.  Or the fact that there are lyrics in a song, or even a fairly conventional song.

“Bound to Be That Way” This song opens in a peculiar way.  There’s a drum rhythm, that slowly builds and some piano chords are laid over the top. This goes on for about 45 seconds and then fades out.  And then a new melody–completely different–with horns and guitar peeks its way out. And then it too fades.  Then around 2 minutes a pretty guitar melody comes through followed by big crashing distorted drums. Eventually a new riff enters the song and it really starts grooving.  It’s fantastic, but it too is just a portion of a song which ends at around 4:30.  And then another new section comes in. Then acoustic guitar riff is counterpointed by some horns.  The final melody is the catchiest one of the bunch and it ends this strange song on a high.

But if that was strange, “A with Living” offers the biggest shock to fans of the band.  There are words in this song!  And they are sung! Words were co-written and sung by Alex Lukashevsky and the Great Lake Swimmers’ Tony Dekker.  Akron/Family also joins in doing “oohs” and “ahs.”  It opens with rumbling drums and then the singing begins.  The song has a conventional verse chorus verse structure with big horns.  It’s catchy (the vocals are great).   But it’s also a 9 minute song and at 4 and a half minutes the song moves way from the melody and enters a lengthy instrumental section with deep rumbling guitars.  The chorus of voices returns briefly before the mellow guitars lead us to the end.

“The Universe!” is one of my favorite DMST songs.  It rocks and rollicks.  It has two notes and then five bashing chords.  Repeated several times.  It’s one of the most straightforward songs they’ve done.  It has screaming guitar solos and a cool sliding bass. It’s also very raw sounding, with all kinds of noise floating around it.  And just like that, it’s gone.  Seguing into the quiet, “A Tender history in rust” which opens with processed guitars or keyboards, layered upon each other.   There are voices fighting through (saying all kinds of sounds—including laughing), before it switches to a pretty acoustic guitar riff.  It’s a delightfully conventional folk melody–another unusual addition for the band.

“Herstory of Glory” has another pretty acoustic guitar melody with some rattling drums (in the right ear).   Then there’s a rumbling bass and distant voices before more and more instruments add to the beautiful song–pianos, trumpets, claps.

“You, You’re Awesome,” is the shortest song on the disc at under 4 minutes.  It opens with slow electric guitars and a e-bowed solo.  After a minute or so, the rest of the band comes in with a slide guitar and banjo making a kind of sloppy folky romp.

“Executioner Blues” is another favorite.  Its 8 minutes long with some lovey guitar riffs and sounds.  It opens with some big guitars and a repeating riff.  A martial drums enters the song and keeps it moving until the next big section.  Horns repeat a similar melody and then a romping bass guitar takes over.  More instruments kick in making the song noisy and slightly distorted.  There’s piano trills, glockenspiel, electric guitar, noises and more.   and the instruments all go up the scale slowly for a few bars and then play a punch of staccato notes.  It’s rather dramatic.  After several permutations of this, they just keep going up and up the scale until the reach the top and then they gradually descend again.  The last minute is a series of quiet bass notes, as if everyone has totally come down from that intensity.

“In Mind” is a quiet disc closer.  A simple guitar melody, it is joined by banjo and trumpet.  Then some bass lines come in followed by a very distorted chorus singing “When you die, you’ll have to leave them behind/You should keep that in mind/When you keep that in mind, you’ll find a love as big as the sky.”  The disc ends with some quite banjo plucking.

This disc goes all over the place and really explores different avenues.

[READ: February 10, 2016] Vampire Loves

Joann Sfar created Little Vampire (and apparently about 100 other comics, some of which have been translated into English by Alexis Siegel and published by First Second).  Of the things I’ve read by him, (and there have been a few) I enjoyed this the most.  It seems like a lot of his books (like Little Vampire) are for kids, bu this one is absolutely for adults (there;’s curses in it and talk of sex and everything).

There are four stories in this book (I just learned that Sfar has written six in total, so maybe there will be more translated). After the third book in this collection, there’s a question as to whether or not Ferdinand, the vampire in this story is Little Vampire.  There’s a little drawing of Little Vampire which says that Ferdinand is him.  “But vampires don’t grow up!  No, but they can grow little.  Ferdinand was me before!  You mean that before being little you were grownup? Yes.”  So there’s that sorted.

“Could Cupid Care Less?” starts us off with Ferdinand the vampire’s woes.  His girlfriend, Lana, (a kind of plant creature) has just come back.  She cheated on him, but turns the conversation around to say that it is his fault–if he weren’t so jealous he never would have found out.  He freaks about this and she storms off again.  Furious, he sets off for his nightly feeding.  Ferdinand is a nice vampire–he takes little sips and only with one fang so it looks like mosquito.  While he is feeding on a woman, a red-haired vampire storms in and shows him how to do it right.  She is a vixen with an ankh necklace and after feeding, she comes on to Ferdinand hard.  She says she likes old, proper-looking vampires–not goth wannabes.  She brings him back to her house but before they can do anything, her sister walks in.  She’s also red-haired and has a shapely figure and actually has more in common with Ferdinand.  And that’s when we learn that the first woman’s name was Aspirine and her sister’s name is Ritaline (ha!).

All of the stories cut back and forth to different sections.  So we cut over the Lani who is staying with the Tree Man.  He is trying to hit on her, but she’s having nothing to do with it.

We return to Ferdinand where he just can’t get rid of Aspirine, even when he wants some alone time.  He can’t get a woman he wants and can’t get rid of the ones he doesn’t.

“Mortal Maidens on My Mind” opens with a Japanese woman meeting Ferdinand in Paris and falling for him.  They do all kinds of things together and she even writes home about him.  But Ferdinand had to return home and that was the end of that.

We cut back to the Tree Man who is still pining for Lani but is having no luck with her.

Back home, Ferdinand runs into the man who slept with Lani, Michael.  He also argues that it was Ferdinand’s fault that things wound up as they did.  He says that he was just looking for fun.  He didn’t want to hurt anyone, so why did Ferdinand have to get involved?  After a fight Ferdinand leaves to go to a bar where he tries to hook up with a woman but it all falls apart.

Then we cut to a man who has created a golem.  He wanted the golem to do bad things, but the golem is so kind that he couldn’t possible have made the him do the evil things he planned.

The postscript of the story contains a few notes on the protagonists of this story which sort of retroactively tries to make sense of the seemingly disparate story lines and lets us know how these characters belong here.

“Lonely Hearts Crossing” shows Ferdinand on a cruise.  But first we meet a woman named Alas, and her spiritual ghost-creature-friend named Sigh.  Alas is looking to score with the captain of the ship (who is the invisible man).

Meanwhile Lani is going shopping with Tree Man.  He has become her buddy and he can’t get out of it.

On the ship, Ferdinand runs into a werewolf who turns into a wolf when he sees a girl.  He only transforms back if he can kiss a girl.  But he is a such charming creature that he has no problems scoring–much to Ferdinand disgust and amazement.

The story turns very exciting as there are armed criminals on board and a shootout.  And by the end of the story Ferdinand is making out with the spirit ghost creature (who teaches him how to go through walls which turns them both kind of ghostly for a time).

“Moonstruck Post Mortem” ends the book with Ferdinand trying to pick someone else up.  His conscience is bothering him lately though so he manages to get rid of it.  The woman is interested in him but already had two boyfriends so she kind of blows him off.

The scenes shifts to Ferdinand at the police station.  He’s not n any trouble.  in fact, the police would like him to help with their investigation of suspicious murders.  Since he’s nocturnal they figure he can look at night.  That’s how police work, right?

Ferdinand decides to go out drinking again. He meets a woman he likes, but she seems disinterested. So he quickly moves on and finds a  creature who is into him.  But he is quickly utterly disgusted by her.  And the first woman just came back. Oh no!

Frustrated, he leaves and goes to see the dentist–because the dentist has some secret information about the investigation. But before he will give the information to Ferdinand, he needs to give him a compete check up.  By the end, he tells Ferdinand not to get involved. And as the story progresses and the criminal is found…  Ferdinand is shot and thrown into a hole!  Can Ferdinand’s conscience come to the rescue?

The whole story concludes with Ferdinand going back to find Ritaline (but of course finding Aspirine instead).  She offers to let him bite her–but when one vampire bites another it’s “catastrophe.”

It’s a totally nuts book but very funny.  Another fun book in my #10yearsof01 February.

I think the reason I don’t enjoy the Sfar books as much as I might is because they are printed so small.  I don’t know what the original size was, but the format makes everything feel really squished.  This makes the dialogue hard to read and means you can’t see all of the details that well.  I think if these books were bigger it would really help their appeal.

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little vamopSOUNDTRACK: DO MAKE SAY THINK-Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn [CST025] (2003).

hymnThis album, at least according to the liner notes, seems to be broken into three sections, as the title suggests.  Although there is no explicit attachment of a particular hymn to the songs, there is a gap between the listings, giving each section three songs.

“Federica” is 9 minutes long and opens with a very lovely slow guitar melody.  Then the drums crash in and the song doesn’t change so much as intensify.  At around 3 minutes the song pauses before a loping bass adds to the mixture and the songs gets bigger and bigger, and even a little funkier. When the distorted guitar comes in at 5 minutes, it’s hard to believe it’s basically the same song all along.  It builds to a cacophonous explosion and then settles down again. A new style emerges—slow and plaintive with mildly distorted guitars. But they can’t stay muted for long. The distorted guitar comes back and forces the song forward with some distorted bass and other noises until it resumes a reprise of the original guitar melody.

“War on Want” is only 2 minutes long.  It is mostly strings that seemed to be looped in some way.  There haven’t been a lot of strings in DMST records so far, so this is new.  They drift slightly out of tune as they introduce the 3rd song “Auberge le Mouton Noir.”  The song opens with some crackling noises and some pretty, slow chords. which resolve into a simple riff.  The song builds, growing faster with a great propulsive beat. I like that it switches back and forth between the chords and the guitar riff.  Is that a slightly out of tune bass guitar before the ringing guitar solo takes over?

The second section begins with “Outer Inner & Secret.”  It’s ten minutes long and opens with an interesting bass line and guitar motif. It’s quiet and insistent, kind of dreamy. After exploring some quieter avenues some feedback squalls float in and out.  About 4 minutes in the song builds, but it quickly recedes only to build again and recede once more.  For the third build the drums kick in and the song launches in a louder direction for a few measures.  But just as you think it’s going to take off for a while, it settles down and then comes back to a quitter style with martial beat and keyboards.   The remainder of the song switches between loud building guitarists and quitter moments with just bass and drums.  For the last-minute or so horns burst forth and then the music drops away except for the horns, which end the song with a plaintive melody.

The 4 minute “107 Reasons Why” is a slow horn & guitar melody song.  There’s some interesting sounds that play over the top of the delicate melody, including a nice horn line.

“Ontario Plates” is 7 minutes long and opens with very jazzy drums and bass–it’s rather noir with a quiet saxophone.   Once the sax plays over the top it just increases the jazziness. DMST has always had a jazz feel but this one really pushes it about as far as the band has gone. The drums start to come to the fore and I love the way about 3 minutes in the drums morph into something else and the song almost imperceptibly switches into a new song entirely. The bass takes over and a new riff enters the piece. About 5 minutes in, the song switches to a very bright and uplifting motif–big horns, bright guitars and a catchy riff.  It’s quite lovely.

The third section opens with “Horns of a Rabbit.”  This song introduces big drums and kind of electronic bass sound.  About two minutes in the noise beaks through—bashing guitars and intense drums.  It even includes a pretty wild guitar solo. I like how the song (which is only 4 minutes (kind of disintegrates on itself before merging into the two-minute “It’s Gonna Rain,” which may indeed be simply the sound of rain on a tin roof.

The final track, the 7 minute “Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!” opens with some synths sounds—unlike anything else on the record.  And then a pretty guitar intro mixes with some lovely horns.  It’s probably the most delicate thing they have created.  After 3 minutes the occasional guitar swirls grow louder and it grinds it way to a happy and uplifting keyboard riff.   Then a bunch of surprises for DMST: A slide guitar plays a little solo and then, most surprisingly, a chorus of voices sings the melody.  The ending slide guitar sounds like it could come from Mercury Rev or The Flaming Lips.  If you listen closely, you can hear people shouting Hooray! in the background.

This album feels a bit more claustrophobic than their others, and while I like pretty much all of the songs, I really like their other albums more.

[READ: December 20, 2015] Little Vampire

Joann Sfar is responsible for the Sardine comics which I kind of liked but mostly didn’t (I think that may have been because of the uglyish drawing style).  But here Sfar has another series called Little Vampire.  (I also just learned that Joann Sfar is a man, so apologies earlier, but I think that’s an understandable mistake).

This book collects three stories into one volume, all translated by Alexis Siegel.  Each story is about 30 pages.  And they follow the “life” of little vampire.  He is a sweet boy with a bald head, big eyes and pointy ears.  He lives in a castle with call all kinds of undead people including his dog Phantomato (he is bright red and rather devious) and several other monsters.

“Little Vampire Goes to School” introduces us to the home where the monsters live.  As the undead are partying, Little Vampire comes down and says he wants to go to school.  The others are horrified, but he won’t give up the idea. He says he’s bored and wants to meet other children (most of the undead are adults).

Little Vampire’s mother (who is strangely pretty in her weird design) and the other elders allow him to go to school, but he can only go at night when it is closed.  So the undead come and all attend school with him.  The class is taught by The Captain of the Dead who is an old dead pirate. (more…)

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929SOUNDTRACK: LES CLAYPOOL AND THE HOLY MACKEREL presents High Ball with the Devil (1996).

holy After making Tales from the Punch Bowl, Primus took a brief hiatus (again).  And in that time, Les made a solo album.  And it is a full solo album.  Les plays all of the instruments on the album.  There are some guests, especially on “Holy Mackerel” (the song that feels the most like a full song.  Mirv from Limbomaniacs plays on a few songs and Jay Lane plays drums on a few songs.  Joe Gore plays guitar on 2 songs and Charlie Hunter plays guitar on “Me and Chuck.”  Les is a decent player on the various instruments although the songs with the guests are more robust.

Les said he had a bunch of songs that he felt weren’t quite right for Primus.  And I can see what he means.  Because, while the voice and bass is unmistakably Primus the album doesn’t sound like Primus.

Having said that, “Running the Gauntlet” does sound like a ditty (1:36) that Primus might play between longer songs.  “Holy Mackerel” feels like it could be a Primus song, but not exactly–there’s something slightly different about it.

But really once you get to “Highball with the Devil” the disc takes on more of a solo feel with Les playing in different but established styles–things that just wouldn’t really work within Primus.  “Highball with the Devil” has a fun bass riff and simple guitars.  I really like it and you can see why he didn’t give it to Primus.  “Hendershot” is a kind of surf rock song (Mirv on guitar).  It’s really fun  “Calling Kyle” has some good music to it, but I don’t really like the vocal delivery.

“Rancor” is a faster song (only 1:22) with Les’ crazy vocals.  “Cohibas Esplenditos” features the electric bowed backsaw (from Mirv) and a cool guitar and bass riff.  “Delicate Tendrils” has a very heavy guitar sound and a simple bass riff.  It is the backing sound for a Henry Rollins story.  Rollins is recorded low in the mix, which makes his story sound more like mumbling and is therefore less effective.  The fact that it is the dark and violent Rollins, not the funny Rollins makes it seem too dark for Les, even if the music works for it.

“The Wakening” features Jay Lane on drums and is a simple slap bass funk song.  “Precipitation” and “George E. Porge” are both solid songs.  “El Sobrante Fortnight” is a fun story song with a good funk bass and Mirv’s cool guitars.  The disc ends with “Carolina Rig” which features Les playing one of his interesting riffs over a sample from a fishing show.

Despite the fact that the album cover makes it look like an entirely homemade (and done cheaply) affair, the quality of the recording and of the songs is quite high.  It’s a good way to see what else Les can do.

[READ: January 12, 2015] “Rosendale”

I had read a few things from La Farge before.  And in looking at my post about “Another Life” from 2012 I see that April P (the main character in this story) was a bartender in the previous story.

April P returns in this story as the main character–a girl who had worked as a bartender but has moved to Rosendale to get away from the busy life of Boston and to settle in as April P, writer. She is living with a woman named Dara.  Dara is a potter and, unhappily for April P, she is a very handsy (April P. is convinced that Dara wants her).

April has been writing a novel called The Bar Girl, but since she has moved to Rosendale, she can’t seem to focus on it.  Dara had invited her to work at the ceramics store, but she said no way.  Rather, she began working at a strip joint (her only friend, Jenny, works there and said it was easy money–and it is–it’s like moving around with no clothes on).  Dara greatly disapproves of course.

I loved the way the story was constructed.  After the first section (in which we learned all of the above) the next section begins: “But this is all background information.  The actual story of Rosendale begins on a rainy Monday evening in March.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: stickman2JUSTIN ROBERTS-“Pop Fly” (2008).

popflyThis is a wonderful pop song from Justin Roberts.  Roberts is regarded as a top-notch children’s song writer.  I hadn’t heard him before, but i was totally sold by this one.

It’s a poppy almost dancey song–it certainly makes you want to move around, anyway.  There’s a catchy acoustic guitar and a fast beat and Roberts’ voice is really solid and warm.  Interestingly I didn’t even realize this song was about baseball when I heard it on the radio (I missed the song title).  I was totally hooked by the pa pa pa pa pa pa chorus.

And there’s a great third section of the song that changes the mood but not the tempo.  This reminds me a bit of Ralph’s World, but a bit…more full, perhaps?  Or maybe like something from Phineas and Ferb.  I’m going to have to check out more from him.

Oh, and the video, while cheaply made, is quite funny when the chorus kicks in.

[READ: April 8, 2014] Stickman Odyssey, Book 2

I enjoyed Book 2 of this series more than Book 1. It felt like it had a little more plot and was a little less slavish to the original myths.  or maybe I just like quests.

The story starts in the middle, with Nestor having captured Zozimos and having tied him up for failing to avenge Sticatha (which was Nestor’s plan all along).  He says that Zozimos has been doing nothing all this time. But Zozimos says no, he has been on an epic adventure.

Which brings us to where book one left off.

Praxis (the strongest man in the world) Atrukos (a guy who looks like a frog) and Zozimos set off to find a piece of the sky.  In book one, Praxis had knocked a piece of the sky out when he hurled a cyclops at it.  He wanted to retrieve it to prove to his love that he was actually a worthwhile person.  This story is left all of a sudden (in a very funny way) so they can help Atrukos with the witch who cursed him before Book 1 even started.  That’s when Nestor captured Zozimos, as he was on his way to help Atrukos. (more…)

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stickman1SOUNDTRACK: DANNY WEINKAUF-“Archaeology” (2014).

noschoolDanny Weinkauf is one of the Band of Dans that plays with They Might Be Giants.  In 2014 he successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign to create his solo album, No School Today.  (I knew nothing about the Kickstarter campaign).

The album comes out this month and I have to say I really like what I’ve heard so far.  This song has been played on Kids Corner a lot.  It’s very catchy and reminds me of good indie pop music.  There’s even a feel of 70s British pop (or like Davy Jones singing).  It’s super catchy.  The chorus and the oft-repeated “arc” “arc” “arc” before “archaeology” can be a bit much at the end of the song, but for the most part this is a real winner.

Danny also wrote “I am a Paleontologist” from They Might Be Giants Here Comes Science album, so his bona fides are good.  And the lyrics are clever and smart, too:

Archaeology It’s human evolution From the Caveman to you and me analyzing their solutions (yeah now)
/Archaeology the secrets they left for us We can study activities Of those who came before us

[READ: April 7, 2014] Stickman Odyssey, Book 1

While I was looking for Stickdog books for C., I came across Stickman.  There are two books in this series (with book two being set up for a third, but no sign of it yet).

This book is a kind of spoof of Homer’s Odyssey, but not really. It is set in the time of the ancient Greek gods and some of those gods make appearances.  Even the style is done in a generically Homeric epic storytelling style.  But none of the characters from Homer appear.  This is an alternate reality of sorts.  The Great Whirlpool exists (shades of Scylla and Charybdis), but so does Candy Island and a place called Odonoros and Stickman’s home world of Sticatha (which made me laugh once I pronounced it correctly).  So, you don’t need familiarity with Homer to appreciate this, indeed, it kind of confused me at first because I wasn’t sure if I should be looking for parallels.

Stickman’s name is the awkward Zozimos (which I want to be significant but can’t figure out any reason why it would be).

The gods do play with the humans, though.  On the second page we see that Athena wields a giant pen and makes Zozimos a raft while he is struggling in the ocean.  Days later he lands on what he thinks is Sticatha, but no, he lands on an island with fair maidens.  He tries to charm one of them, Asteria, but is immediately grabbed by a golem and dragged to jail.  The evil King Marnox imprisons every castaway who lands on the island–he has his reasons.

But Asteria is mad that her father is locking up all of these eligible men, so he brings Zozimos out of the jail for him to tell his story.  And it is…epic! (more…)

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jetpackSOUNDTRACK: WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS-“Quiet Little Voices” (2009).

jetpacksWhen you have a book with “Jetpack” in the title, the appropriate band is We Were Promised Jetpacks, no?  I’ve heard a lot of good things these guys.  But all I knew for certain was that they were Scottish.

I listened to their debut EP, The Last Place You’ll Look, which I liked a little.  But I didn’t care for the sound of the EP itself, it was rather flat.  A few listens got me enjoying the melodies and such but it never grabbed me.  Especially when I compared it to “Quiet Little Voices,” the lead single from their debut full length, These Four Walls.

The vocals are a bit stronger, the guitars and bass are both more clear.  The overall feeling is just brighter.  Now this may be a sign of selling out (is that something bands still do?), but really I think it’s just a better production for this song.  Which has a big chorus (and good backing vocals).

I listened to a few more tracks from These Four Walls and they are all good too.  I guess start with the albums and save the EP until after you’ve absorbed the band.

[READ: July 5, 2013] You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack

Gauld makes comics like no one else I know.  Most of his people are silhouetted or are the most rudimentary designs–simple triangle-shaped clothes, circle heads with dots for eyes and little else–maybe a nose if it’s profile. (Okay, there’s a bit of Chris Ware, but more like a much more relaxed Chris Ware).  And the wonderful thing is just how much he can convey with these painstakingly simple drawings.

The content of his comics is usually quite clever and often literary.  While I admit there were some I didn’t get (Like the Eric Gill cartoon–shame on me?–Aha: “[Gill’s] personal diaries describe his sexual activity in great detail including the fact that he sexually abused his own children, had an incestuous relationship with his sister and performed sexual acts on his dog.”  Geez, now the comic is very funny.).  There were some in which I liked the set up but would have preferred something funnier (like the Tom Waits comic–shame on him?)

But overall this collection was really enjoyable.  And I laughed a lot. (more…)

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