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Archive for the ‘Sports Illustrated’ Category

grantldnSOUNDTRACK: VOIVOD-Killing Technology (1987).

killingAs I said, this album’s art looks much better.  And you can hear from the first notes that this album is better produced and is going to be a lot more interesting than the previous two.  It’s hard to know just how much of a leap this is from Rrröööaaarrr because that album was so muddy–maybe there were gems of guitar chords under all that noise.  Like the previous openings, there’s a sort of prologue to the album.  But unlike the previous album’s swirls, this one is beeping with a computer voice announcing “we are connected”

The opening chords are heavy, but man they sound clear—like they weren’t recorded underground.  You can also hear all of Piggy’s weird higher notes—he’s playing complicated chords, not just solo notes.  And when the chorus of “Killing Technology” rolls around, it offers stop and start rhythms and Snake’s voice even goes up an octave at the end.  But the first real indication that Piggy is on to something new comes in the bridge. Underneath the robotic voice, Piggy is playing some really strange-sounding chords.  The story is that he had been admiring Robert Fripp’s guitar work and so he added some of those King Crimson-y angular weird chords to his repertoire.  And he melds them perfectly with the heavy thrash that the band had been playing.

Lyrically also, this album has moved away from killing and headaches.  “Killing Technology” while having “killing” in the title is a very different subject:

The star wars have started up
The new invention is coming out
Making a spider web over the atmosphere
To make them sure that we can’t get out of here

Computers controlling your functions
Seems like we got electronic alienation
Trading children for a new kind of robot
Waiting for the old people to disappear

Quite a departure from Rrröööaaarr’s “Fuck Off and Die”

Stand up, right now, kill

No pleasure, the pain comes down here
No return, don’t look back, there’s no tomorrow
And if you’re a fucker and don’t believe it
I’d say fuck off and die, fuck off and die

“Overreaction” leans more towards the heavier side—Snake screams a bit more—but the subject (nuclear disaster) is thoughtful.  Then comes their first truly amazing song: “Tornado.”  Not only building like a tornado, this song allows them to talk about violent imagery without resorting to bloodshed. It’s even scientific:

Cumulonimbus storms arrive
Lightning flashes a hundred miles around
Electrical collision course
Creates the elephant trunk

But the best part is the chorus—it’s simple enough (just the word Tornado repeated) but it’s completely catchy and sing-alongable with bright major key chords.

“Forgotten in Space” features some great drumming from Away—he’s really quite underrated both in speed and technique—which explands even more on later albums.  “Ravenous Medicine” is another highlight—an interesting series of uncomfortable chords opens this track about scientific research.  It’s a pretty fast, heavy song.  Although not too complicated except for the occasional breaks as the story progresses.

“Order of the Blackguards” is another fast song, but this one has so many parts that if you don’t like one, just wait a few seconds for the next one.  “This is Not an Exercise” ends the disc proper.  The middle section has a great heavy riff.  But it’s the beginning of the ending sequence which is so perfectly sci-fi that really sets the tone of the album and looks towards the next one.  It’s cool to think of Piggy playing these spacey chords on his guitar.  And when Blacky’s bass rumbles in to resume the song, it’s quintessential Voivod.

By th way, this disc is a concept album as well.  There’s a “Killing Side” (the first three songs) and a “Ravenous Side.”  The strange thing about the CD though is that they have added two tracks from their Cockroaches EP which is nicockroachesce.  But they put one song at track 4 (the end of side one).  How odd to put a bonus track in the middle of a sequenced album.

The EP came out before the album and it has a slightly different feel from the album proper.  Although as a step towards Killing Technology it’s perfectly in sync.  “Too Scared to Scream” is heavy and has some interesting time changes—I love the way the song feels like it is crashing to a halt around 3:30.   “Cockroaches” feels like more traditional metal.  It opens with drums and Piggy playing a typical sounding metal solo.  Then the riffing starts and it’s very heavy indeed. Even the staggered section near the end sounds like a mosh section more than the prog time changes that Voivod uses on the album proper.  The song ends with Snake screaming as the cockroaches are coming.  A good ending to the EP and a pretty good ending to the disc.

The whole album has a very mechanical and robotic feel—the chords that Piggy plays just sound like mechanical failure, it’s very well constructed and foreshadows the music of their future.

[READ: July 9, 2013] Grantland #6

Grantland #6 covers from Sept 2012-Dec 2012.  Despite the short time frame, this is the largest issue yet.  And it maintains all the quality that I’ve come to expect from the book/magazine thing.  Which means, I love the writing (especially about people/sports I’m not that interested in).  And it also means that the editing is typically crap.  In this issue the editing was crap more because they simply forgot to remove mention of hyperlinks.  At least I assume that’s why sentences like “See here for ____” are included in any given article.  But yes, there are some very simple typos that Word would correct pretty easily.

But beyond that, I really enjoyed this issue.  And I’m finding it amusing how much certain people and shows crop up in a given time frame.  So this is a four month period and Kobe Bryant still dominates (there will never be an issue without at least one Kobe article).  But this time Homeland is the big show (since Breaking Bad has been on hiatus I gather).  Basketball remains the favorite sport here (even though they speak of football as being the most popular sport).

Chuck Klosertman and Charlie Pierce continue to write thoughtful (sometimes funny) articles.  And I like how there is still talk of Jeremy Lin even if Linsanity has gone away somewhat. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DINOSAUR JR.-Live at the 9:30 Club, Washington D.C. October 8, 2009 (2009).

This was one of the first shows I downloaded from NPR.  I’ve been a fan of Dinosaur Jr. since my friend Al turned me on to Green Mind back in college.

This is an amazing show created by the original Dino Jr. members.  This tour is in support of their second album since reuniting, Farm. This set-list is an outstanding mix of old songs, new songs, Barlow-sung songs and even some songs from when Barlow and Murph weren’t in the band.  (Green Mind is still my favorite album by them).

When the band reunited there was much joy, and I’ve said in reviews of the newer albums, I’m not entirely sure why.  I mean, Dino Jr has always been about Mascis, and it’s not like Barlow is such an unusual bassist (although Murph’s drumming is always solid).  I’ve nothing against Barlow (I love Sebadoh and Folk Implosion) or Murph, it just seems odd to get excited about having them back in the band aside from nostalgic reasons.

Having said that, the band sounds amazing (and yes, Barlow does get to sing on “Imagination Blind”).  What never really came across to me until hearing all of these great songs live was that Mascis has always been a great pop song writer.  These songs are catchy as hell. But Mascis buries them under loud squalling guitars and a voice that is almost whiny, almost off-key, a total slacker voice.  (But you’ll notice it is never actually off-key.  He must work very hard at that.)

By the nd of the show Mascis chastises the audience for not moving (we obviously can’t see what they’re doing), saying he forgets that people don’t move in Washington, D.C.  But during the encore break, NPR host, Bob Boilen, points out that Mascis himself doesn’t move either–he just stands in front of that wall of Marshall stacks (Boilen wonders how he can hear anything anymore).  And looking at the pictures it’s comical the way he looks, surrounded by amps.  The picture above doesn’t fully do it justice, but check out the extra photos at the NPR page.  And while you’re there, listen to this show. It is amazing.  For a total slacker, Mascis can rock a guitar solo like nobody’s business.

[READ: July 20, 2011] The Best American Non Required Reading

I’d been meaning to read this series for years (yup, Eggers fan), But I have a hard time starting “collections” because I feel like I’d rather be reading a novel.  Nevertheless, I have most of these Nonrequired books, so it seemed like I should dive into one and see what it was like (I don’t think the year really matters all that much–some of the articles are topical but most are not exactly).  Then Sarah said this would be a great book to read on vacation because it’s all short essays, and she was right.  It was perfect for late nights when I wanted something to read but didn’t feel like getting involved in the novel I was reading.

DAVE EGGERS-Introduction
Eggers’ introduction is actually a partial short story about kids who go swimming in pools around town. It reminded me of the opening of Life After God by Douglas Coupland, but of course, lots of kids did that so I’m not saying it was “lifted” from DC.  The story “ends” (it doesn’t really end so much as stop) with an interesting scene between two unlikely kids who get caught.

After this story Eggers includes these three notes about the collection: It’s not scientific, It’s alphabetical, and We had a lot of help with this.  Of the three, it’s the middle one that’s most useful because Eggers says that you shouldn’t necessarily read them in order just because they are printed this way: “In the first half of this collection, you get a good deal of hard journalism, primarily about war and refugees, from Afghanistan to the Sudan, followed immediately by a number of less serious pieces, about malls and Marilyn Manson.  We didn’t group anything by theme , and won’t be offended if you skip around.”  This was good to know (not that we needed the permission of course), but yes, the beginning of the book is pretty heavy. (more…)

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weekI’m not sure how I first learned about The Week. I think I received a trial issue in the mail. But after just one or two issues we were hooked.  The Week is a comprehensive newsweekly, although it offers virtually no original reporting.  It collates news stories and offers opinions from a variety of sources: newspapers, online magazines, political journals etc. And it provides opinions from across the political spectrum.

Each issue has the same set up (although they recently had an image makeover: a new cover design and some unexpected font changes in a few sections, which I suppose does lend to an easier read).

Each issue starts with The main stories… …and how they were covered. The first article is a look at whatever major story captivated the editorials that week.  (The growing gloom in Afghanistan).  And in a general sense of what you get for long articles (the long articles are about 3/4 of a page) You get WHAT HAPPENED, WHAT THE EDITORIALS SAID, and WHAT THE COLUMNISTS SAID.  The What Happened section is a paragraph or two summary of the story.  The editorials offer a one or two sentence summary from sources like USA Today, L.A. Times and The Financial Times, while The Columnists are from The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and Time.com, for example. (more…)

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dfwSOUNDTRACK: SONIC YOUTH-NYC Ghosts & Flowers (2000).

nycIn the midst of all of the experimentation with the SYR discs. Sonic Youth released this “proper” release.

At the time, it was actually the impetus for me to stop buying Sonic Youth records.  Between the experimental discs and the expanding palate of 1,000 Leaves, it felt like Sonic Youth were sort of drifting away from rock altogether.  It was certainly a way to alienate fans of Goo and Dirty.

You get two two songs over seven minutes and three over five (there are two short blasts in the middle which add some heaviness to the proceedings). But for the most part, this is a very spare, almost atmospheric affair.

Prior to recording the disc, the bands custom gear was stolen.  So they started from scratch for this recording.  And that may have something to do with the ambient, almost spatial sound.  It is quite mellow, (although still angular and dissonant) with a number of spoken word/beat poetry vocals.

Whether it’s pretentious or artsy depends on your take for recited lyrics (and SY’s lyrics are inscrutable anyhow).  Although Lee’s piece “NYC Ghosts and Flowers” seems to fit the style best (he has done a number of spoken vocal pieces in the past).  And “Nevermind (What Was It Anyway)” has a sort of commercial appeal.  The closing tack “Lightnin'” even features a trumpet, which I assume is played by Kim.  It’s the most noisy piece on the disc, with all kinds of fun sound effects showing up.

I’ve been listening to this disc a lot lately.  I think because I’ve revisited the experimental discs, this one makes more sense.  It’s not what I’d call a typical Sonic Youth album, or even the best Sonic Youth album.  It is certainly their most jazzy/mellow experiment (especially compared to the noise of says the SYR discs) and is about as far from their commercial peak as they could get.

The strangest thing to me though is that, despite all of the experimentation and slow-building songs, the whole disc is under 45 minutes.  So, they aren’t just making noise to fill space.

[READ: Week of August 31] Infinite Jest (to page 808)

In all of the talk about DFW’s “psychic” abilities with regard to technologies, one thing no one has mentioned–that I’ve seen–is his love of Venus Williams. Her name keeps popping up (I’d say at least a half dozen references so far).  And in many ways one doesn’t think too much of it (she is the #3 player right now, bested by her sister Serena who is #2).  But the amazing thing about his embrace of Venus is that as venusof 1996, when the book was published, she had barely played any pro tournaments.

Look a these tidbits from Sports Illustrated:

October 31, 1994: Venus wins her first pro match, defeating Shaun Stafford at the Bank of the West Classic in Oakland. … Venus faces Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, the No. 2 player in the world, in her next match. Venus races out to a 6-3, 3-1 lead but then folds as Sanchez Vicario wins 11 consecutive games. In an interview after the match, Venus is asked how the loss compares with previous defeats. She answers bemusedly that she has never before lost a match.

May 22, 1995: Reebok announces it has signed Venus to a five-year, $12 million deal. Thus far, Venus has played in one pro tournament.

Although much has been speculated (by me and others) about when he was actually writing this book (and when he was able to send in last minute changes), she would not break into the Top 20 until 1998.  He clearly saw something in her.

ijdot1

I write these posts as I go along.  So, I read the day’s pages take notes and then type them up.  This is why I get moments of speculation in the posts.  But mostly it means that when I start writing I don’t know how much there will be in total.  This is now the second week in a row where the early reading started off, if not slowly, then certainly without all too much happening.  The notes I took were very simple, along the lines of: Marathe in Ennet House or Kate & Marathe talk.  I knew I could remember what they were talking about, but there wasn’t a lot of notable moments.

And then, we get the trifecta of Endnotes and Tine’s interview. Holy cow, a torrent of information flooding out at once.  It doubled my word count almost immediately. Phew.

ijdot1
As this week’s reading starts out we see Marathe trying to check into Ennet House.  Okay, actually he’s there as the final part of his recon looking for the veiled girl who was in the Entertainment and is now in rehab.

His new-eyes-looking-at-the-place is rather enlightening as I hadn’t realized just how dreary and drab the House is (nor just how weird most of the residents would be).  The supporting cast is in good form: some of them sleeping, some of them talking loudly, others just staring.  And Marathe takes it all in. (more…)

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